"The Hotel Raims is ours for the week," Arthur was saying as they rode the twenty kilometers from the airport to their accommodations. "We'll be in the center of the village of Algaida. There are five converted barns, each designed for two people." He looked over at the three boys. "Three, if they're really close friends." Everyone chuckled at this. "It dates back to the seventeenth century and was really well known for its wines. The old wine cellar still exists and the owner loves to show it off. There are beautiful gardens to walk through and a pool. They have a marvelous buffet breakfast out on the terrace this time of year. My staff will provide the lunches and dinners, either on the terrace or in the dining room, depending on the weather."
"How is it we have the place to ourselves, Arthur?" asked Margaret. "I mean, this is the height of the tourist season."
"Jorge is an old family friend. He insists that I take over the place when I'm in the area. The one time I tried to be gallant and stay somewhere else, he kicked all his guests out and closed the place until I left. I've never tried that little trick again. He's relocated his guests and paid for a night at their new accommodations."
"Damn, Arthur," said Ben.
"I call him my Spanish father; Papa Jorge if I'm feeling formal, otherwise, just papa. And I promise you, boys, he's going to dote on you the entire time we're here. He never had any children of his own, so he makes up for it by treating his young guests like princes of the realm."
"I hope that was princes, with one 'S' and not two," said Reed. Everyone laughed hard at that comment.
The vehicle they rode in was an open air limousine, so they were all able to take in the fabulous summer day; bright sunshine, warm air, and just the hint of sea. The countryside was rolling hills and mostly rural.
They pulled into the courtyard of the manor house soon enough. It was an old stone and stucco structure with arched entrances and windows in abundance. They were still getting out of the limo when a very distinguished man stepped briskly out of the main entrance. He was everything you'd expect from a Spanish gentleman. Large nose and raven black hair, despite the fact that he'd seen many winters.
"Arthur! You come at last!" he said with his arms spread wide as he walked directly to Arthur.
There was an obvious and genuine affection between these two. The tears in both their eyes were evidence of this. "Papa."
Jorge embraced Arthur very hard and kissed both his cheeks with real feeling. "You stay away too long, my son. Papa Jorge begins to think you don't miss him."
"Oh, Papa, you know that's not true." Everyone could hear the catch in his voice.
Jorge simply pulled Arthur tighter to him. "Shh, my son. You know your papa loves to tease you." There was no apparent embarrassment between them for their emotions. "Now, who have you brought for me to spoil?"
Jorge turned to the group and stopped dead and simply stared at Oscar. "I know you." He held up a hand to stop any answer. "Let me see...the physician, no?" Oscar nodded. "It's been what...twenty years?" Another nod from Oscar. "Let me think, let me think...Oscar!"
Oscar stepped forward. "Yes, papa Jorge." They embraced. "Fancy you recognizing me after all these years." They exchanged cheek kisses.
"Not so hard to recognize. You were distinguished looking even then. All that has changed is the hair is a bit greyer and the face is wiser." He then stepped back and focused all his attention on Margaret. "Now, please, someone introduce this magnificent creature." He stepped up and took one of her hands and kissed the back of it like she was a queen. "Su belleza hace que las estrellas sonrojan," he said.
Margaret blushed, despite not knowing what he'd said, and looked up at Arthur.
"Your beauty makes the stars blush."
"Oh my," she said, blushing even brighter. "Senor` Jorge, you take my breath away."
"Senor` Jorge," said Logan, stepping forward, "Allow me to introduce my mother, Margaret Justice."
"Ah, a beautiful name for a beautiful lady. It is my great honor to meet you Margaret."
Arthur laughed. "You are going to love this even more papa, because Margaret has expressed the wish to be treated like a spoiled Spanish Princess."
Jorge got a stunned look on his face. "This is true?" he asked her earnestly. "You really desire this?"
Margaret just could not seem to make herself stop blushing. "Yes, Senor` Jorge, I suppose it is."
Jorge spun around and locked Arthur with his gaze. "You will use one of the apartments, yes?"
"Yes, papa, I will use an apartment." The perplexed look on Margaret's face made Arthur smile. "Papa usually plops me in the master suite of the manor when I visit. For this visit I will relinquish all claim so that you may have your heart's desire."
"Oh, this is marvelous!" said Jorge as he turned back to his guests. "So now, who else do we have here?"
"These are my adopted sons, papa Jorge," said Oscar. "Phillip and Reed," he said, pointing at each in turn.
"Such boys!" he declared. He shook each boys' hand warmly. He then turned to Margaret.
"And these are my sons, Senor` Jorge. This is Logan, my son by birth," she said, placing her hand on Logan's shoulder. "And this is Benjamin, my son by choice," she said, repeating the gesture with Ben.
"Such handsome boys, my lady," he said as he shook the boys' hands. He then straightened and addressed all of them. "Now we have had the introductions and we are no longer strangers. So you will call me papa."
"Yes, papa," said everyone in unison, to which he smiled.
"Good, good. Now we find your rooms. Arthur, you take the boys to their apartments. I will escort our princess to her chambers."
Within an hour the place was swarming with boys and girls ranging in age from ten to late teens. Jorge had called in all his nieces and nephews to see to the special needs of his guests, and they seemed genuinely pleased to be employed at such tasks.
It was a bit disconcerting at first for the boys to have these people constantly asking what they needed or wanted. Arthur finally had to take all four of the boys into his apartment.
"All right, boys, I know this is a bit uncomfortable for you. None of you are use to having so much attention paid to your needs. But I promise you; all those boys and girls are thrilled to be here. They really want to please you and make your stay the best it possibly can be. Don't treat their attention as if you're imposing on them. Papa calls them to help only when he has very special guests. He pays them very well for their time, I assure you. And none of them are over worked."
After that, the boys simply went with the flow and things settled quickly for them. The younger children ran the errands, made sure there were always fresh towels at the poolside, while the older children served the drinks, snacks and meals. All of it was done with smiles that were genuine. The boys immediately engaged the smaller children into becoming their language tutors, having them teach their foreign visitors enough Spanish to be able to show proper interest and respect for the land they were visiting.
Whenever the family went out on some excursion; a museum, site seeing, or simply a walk, the boys took the smaller children with them to act as translators, something the children were thrilled to do. Papa was particularly happy about this.
"You make the little ones feel important, boys. And it allows the older children some freedom while you are out. You are quickly becoming their favorite guests."
The families quickly forgot all their previous troubles and simply allowed themselves to be pampered and made much of.
Logan did have one thing that he wanted to accomplish while they were here and he finally talked to Reed about it. They agreed that it was something that Logan should do and Reed promised to distract Benny if it became necessary.
It was late on Wednesday night after a particularly exhausting day that Logan decided to act. After he was sure that Benny was asleep, he kissed Reed. "I'm going to do it tonight."
"Good. Were you able to find something in the CD's that will work for you?" asked Reed.
"It's not perfect, but it will do."
"Well, have fun," said Reed with a smile.
Logan quietly made his way to Arthur's apartment. He didn't knock, because he didn't want to chance someone hearing. He quietly opened the door and whispered, "Arthur?"
He stepped in and found Arthur sitting in a corner of the outer room sipping at a drink and listening to music from the stereo while clothed only in a robe. Logan quietly closed and locked the door and walked over to the stereo and inserted the CD he'd chosen. He selected the track he wanted to open with and then set the player to repeat the entire CD. He stood looking at the stereo until the opening strains of the song began, and then he turned seductively and began his performance.
Arthur was struck dumb. His mouth hung open. He had just enough presence of mind to set his drink on the table before he went limp at what Logan was doing. The level of sophisticated seduction was mind boggling. There was nothing the least bit 'dirty' about what Logan was doing. It took maybe a fraction of a second for Arthur's body to begin responding to the promptings of this beautiful boy.
It wasn't until Logan was down to just his briefs that Arthur finally couldn't hold out. He pulled open the front of his robe and began to stroke his seven inches of straining manhood. Never had he become so aroused so fast. He'd had the privilege of watching boys from all over the world entertain him, but none of them could match the artistry of this boy. He was actually making love to himself while Arthur watched. It was the most incredible thing he'd ever seen in his life.
As was the case with his better performances, Logan was doing just that. He was lost within himself. But more than that, he was reliving his loving with Reed. He couldn't really be certain what had happened to them; maybe it was the altitude, maybe just the adrenaline residue of the press conference, but their loving that night on the plane had been the most intense they'd ever shared. So now he used that memory to produce a performance that would rock Arthur's socks off.
They owed this man so very much, and no one more than Logan. So, besides the feelings of love he was reliving, were the feelings of paramount gratitude. He molded these two into a coherent whole that came out in his performance.
When Logan finally slipped out of his briefs, Arthur gasped. "Oh...my...God." He'd never imagined such a sweet vision. It was huge, uncut, and hard as a nail. And best of all, was that it nestled in a bush of brightest red that quite stunned Arthur. The proportions of that magnificent cock to those glorious orbs was perfect. But he'd never seen such a bright red tuft of hair on anyone's groin before. It was like bright neon, flashing to bring attention to the riches displayed before it.
For the next twenty minutes Arthur marveled at the positions Logan got himself into as he stroked, teased and caressed his manhood. It was everything he could do to keep control of his own body. It was his habit to hold off cumming until after his partner came. That was becoming more and more difficult the longer Logan prolonged his climax.
"Please, Logan, let it go," he whispered with difficulty. He wanted to shout to the heavens, but knew he couldn't allow that to happen in these surroundings. "I have to watch you cum before I do."
Well, that was not the usual way he did things, but Logan always performed by the old adage that the customer was always right. So he relaxed and let his body have its way. It'd been begging him for some time anyway, so it didn't really take any coaxing what so ever. Within moments he was shooting burst after burst of his white lightning into the air to land on his chest and stomach.
After watching six pulses of this boy's seed splash on his body, Arthur let go with his own delayed climax. He was consumed for several moments in his own orgasm. He hadn't cum like this in ages. It was as if he were sixteen again, the intensity was that incredible. When he'd finally cum all he could and all that was left were dribbles, he collapsed back into his chair and let his arms hang down on either side. He breathed heavily for a couple of minutes before he felt like he'd managed to replenish his exhausted body.
His eyes started open when he felt lips upon his own. This was not the kiss of a lover, he could feel that immediately. It was one of gratitude. So he returned the kiss simply, despite the fact that he wanted to eat this handsome young man.
"That was for the man that has been so kind and generous to me and mine." He placed a finger over Arthur's lips before he could say anything. "There is one thing you need to understand about this evening. This was my gift to you, nothing more. If I see so much as one dollar more in my accounts than should be there, I promise that I will withdraw the amount and burn it. This performance was not for sale."
He slowly reached up and took Logan's shoulders in his hands and pulled him down into an embrace. "Thank you so much, Logan. I will remember this night for the rest of my life."
"May I use your shower? I don't want to go back to my room smelling like this."
"Of course, Logan. Ah...does Reed know you're here."
"Yes he does, but Benjamin knows nothing about this side of my life. I don't ever intend for him to know."
"Good for you. Now go shower and get to bed."
When Logan finally slipped between the sheets in his room, Reed pulled him into a hug. "How'd it go?"
"Just the way we'd hoped," answered Logan.
"Good. Let's get some sleep."
At one point the next day, Arthur managed to catch Reed when no one was around. He pulled the boy into a hug and kissed his lips. "Thank you for last night, Reed."
Reed smiled warmly. "You're welcome. You deserved it. Logan's the best of us and you deserved only the best."
"You two are going to go far together, young man. Don't let him get away."
"I won't. He's the best thing that's ever happened to me, and that includes having Dad adopt me."
The week wound down and by the time departure arrived, everyone was ready to get back and resume their lives. Their final night was punctuated by a supper provided by papa and his family. It was attended by everyone including all the nieces and nephews. When the dessert had finally been consumed papa nodded to one of the younger children.
Manuel stood confidently, despite his being only eleven. He was easily the one that spoke the best English. As he stood waiting, two of the older children went around and poured a glass of wine for everyone, young and old.
"It has been a great pleasure for us to have you as our guests. You have made us feel like a part of your families and made it possible for us to make you a part of ours." He then nodded to the youngest member of the nieces and nephews; ten year old Juan Diego.
He stood and raised his glass toward their guests and every other member of his extended family stood and followed his example.
"Que Dios le concede todas las mejores cosas de la vida," said Juan.
"May God grant you all the best things in life," translated Manuel.
"Que su corazón se llena siempre con el amor que han demostrado a nosotros."
"May your hearts always be filled with the love you have shown to us."
"Usted siempre será una parte de nosotros y una parte de ti."
"You will always be a part of us and we a part of you."
"Aquí, aquí!" they yelled as one, and as one drank from their glasses.
When they re-seated themselves, Margaret stood. "I apologize that I can not speak my gratitude in your language, but you have been a marvelous family to get to know. We have had several weeks of difficulties. Your willingness to pamper us and make much of us has allowed us to forget those trials and regain our happiness. We are blessed to have been among you and come to know you as a marvelous extension to our families." She looked over at little Juan. "Come here, please, Juan Diego Aguilar." The boy jumped up and rushed to her side. She hugged him to her side as she bent down and whispered in his ear. He nodded vigorously when she'd finished. She then indicated that the guests should all rise.
"I can not think of any blessing that could be greater that the one you gave to us." She then nodded to Juan.
"Que Dios le concede todas las mejores cosas de la vida.
Que su corazón se llena siempre con el amor que han demostrado a nosotros.
Usted siempre será una parte de nosotros y una parte de ti."
And then the guests all cried out, "Aquí, aquí!", and drank from their glasses.
Margaret leaned down and kissed Juan's forehead, "Thank you, my Spanish angel."
The child positively beamed as he returned to his seat.
Jorge stood at that point. "The younger children wanted to give you that gift to put in your hearts. The older children wish to give you something to put in your homes." Four of the older children, two boys and two girls, got up and stepped behind one of the planters. They returned with two large portraits.
They were photographs that had been taken of the nieces and nephews. It was a scene in the garden, a spot that was particularly colorful. They'd been posed so that the flowers surrounded them with many potted plants set among them.
One of the portraits was taken to Margaret, the other to Oscar. The portraits were each two foot high by three wide. Each was framed in wood, artfully, but not ornately designed. The joints were so well done that it took considerable effort to find any indication of them.
"Ferdinand made the frames," said Jorge.
Well, suffice it to say, there was much crying and hugging after that as the nieces and nephews left for home.
On the flight home, Arthur had a few things to say to the families. He gathered everyone in the lounge about halfway through the flight.
"Folks, I have to tell you that I haven't had this much fun in so long that I just can't remember. I've known Oscar for thirty years and we socialized a few times back then, but haven't done anything in far too long. I admit that this is mostly my fault, believing that I preferred the solitary life." He looked at each of them and couldn't hide his nerves. Hell, he could stand before heads of state all over the world and not feel the least little trepidation, and yet before these six people he felt like a grade school boy standing before his classmates giving his first book report.
He gave himself a mental shake. 'Come on, man! What's to fear from these marvelous people?' But he knew what there was to fear. What he'd always feared; rejection.
"But I was wrong. This week has allowed me to realize that I've missed having a family. Oscar, I should have spent more time over these years with you. I've missed a lot that I could have found joy in." He sighed. "I'd like to change this aspect of my life. We have been through quite a bit over the past couple of weeks that has brought us closer together. I'd like to see that continue."
"What did you have in mind, Arthur?" asked Oscar.
"I'd really like to stay in closer touch with all of you. I'd like us to do more traveling together. I'd really like to share the remarkable things I've seen in this world. Sharing Papa and his family with you this week has been a real thrill. But I'd like more. I'd love to share in the accomplishments and failures of your boys. I'd like to hear all about your trials and successes in dealing with these remarkable children of yours. In short, I'd like to become a part of your families."
Margaret handed her drink to Logan and got up and walked over to Arthur. "Arthur, you are already a part of our families." She hugged him and kissed his cheek. "You're stuck with us, I'm afraid, because we want to spend more time with you as well."
When she turned to return to her seat she saw the three boys whispering to one another, so she was not terribly surprised by what happened next. The three of them jumped up from their places and ran up and nearly knocked Arthur over in their enthusiastic hug. "Uncle Arthur!"
They hugged in silence for several moments. But finally Arthur said, "You know, that sounds awful nice...Uncle Arthur. Yes...I like the sound of that a great deal."
The rest of the flight home was spent deciding the best way to ensure that they accomplished this new closeness. They finally agreed to take one week off every couple of months. Arthur would fly in and whisk them away to some new location to explore the wonders of the world as he'd come to know them. Arthur only asked that each trip remain a mystery until they were airborne and on their way. Since this would make each visit all the more fun, everyone agreed.
As they walked into the residence each of them felt renewed, revitalized, reenergized, reborn. Every one of them wanted desperately to get back to their tasks and responsibilities. Oscar drove Margaret and Ben home while Logan headed for the salon and Reed called Charles to arrange to get together so that the renovation of his business space could finally proceed.
It was ten in the morning when Logan pulled into his place in the lot. Business seemed awfully brisk for such an early hour. He entered the lobby to find it congested with perhaps a dozen boys and girls, as well as several adults...most of them with the general appearance of grandparents.
"Logan!" yelled Martha who was at the service counter at the time.
Well that stopped everything for several minutes as the entire staff ran out into the already crowded lobby area and hugged and kissed him. It was quite an overwhelming welcome, really. And the welcome wasn't limited to just the staff; the customers took part too by applauding the return of the prodigal son.
"Logan?!!" yelled Ralph from the back of the store. Everyone parted and Ralph came running up and almost tackled Logan as he hugged him and lifted him off the floor and spun around. "God, boy," he yelled as he continued to spin them around. "Don't you ever go off and get yourself shot at again!"
Logan could feel the fear that consumed his partner. Ralph was shaking like a leaf as he hugged Logan. He could almost hear the tears of relief in Ralph's eyes. So he returned the hug with interest. All in all, this was a very gratifying greeting.
"It wasn't precisely my idea, Ralph. It's not like I went out and took out a contract on myself."
That brought out a few weak chuckles as Ralph stopped spinning and set him back on the floor. He then pushed Logan back and with tears streaming down his cheek he held Logan's head between his hands and kissed his forehead. "Welcome home, partner."
Logan felt a desperate need to lighten the mood just a touch. "Uh, Ralph?"
"Uh, people are going to start to talk if you keep kissing me in public." He smirked and winked at a nearby little girl.
That did the trick. Everyone laughed. Logan allowed the greetings to continue for only a few more minutes before trying to restore order.
"All right, people, this is a place of business and it looks to me like we have plenty of business to conduct. I'll fill you all in later." He then turned to the little girl he'd winked at. "So, what can we do for you?"
She was suddenly very nervous and looked up at the elderly man standing beside her.
"Go ahead, sweetheart," said the man.
Logan knelt down in front of the girl and took one of her hands in both of his. She was perhaps six or seven. This forced her to look back at him. "You are a pretty little thing." She blushed. "Now," he continued, most gently, "What is it you were wanting today?"
"I...I wanted...one of those flower things...for my mommy and daddy."
He looked up at the counter and Martha held out a copy of the newspaper ad that had been run in his absence. As he took it he noticed out of the corner of his eye that no one had moved. They were simply watching him interact with the child.
"Your mommy and daddy must be pretty special if you want to get them flowers." She nodded and blushed just a shade brighter. "So, which one of these pretty arrangements would you like?" He held open the ad in front of her.
She looked up at the man beside her. "Whichever one you want, sweetheart. It's your choice."
She looked back at Logan and smiled sweetly. "Could...could I have the big one?"
"You most certainly can, you sweet thing." He then looked up at the beaming man. "Did you want to take it today, or would you rather come back on Friday or Saturday to pick it up? They aren't designed to last more than a few days."
"If we could pick it up on Saturday that'd be marvelous," he answered, clearly startled by the possibility. "Can I go ahead and pay for it now, though?"
It suddenly dawned on him that maybe he hadn't properly thought this through. This could mean a very hectic and long Friday and Saturday. When he looked behind him, Ralph was still standing there, smiling like a Cheshire cat.
"Don't worry, we'll work it out," said Ralph. "Neither of us thought this would be such a hit." He nodded at the waiting patrons. "We'll make it all hands on deck at the end of the week and push everything we can to Monday."
"Thanks, Ralph. Have them keep the prepaid receipts in a separate box. I'll throw together a quick spreadsheet on the computer to make tracking all of this easier." He then turned back to the man. "Just see the cashier and he or she will take your order."
The little girl was bouncing slightly in excitement. She suddenly jumped forward and gave Logan a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Thank you, sweetie," he said.
Logan then spent the next hour in the showroom because it seemed that every child wanted him to personally help them. It was, he quickly concluded, a marvelous way to begin his work week. He had worked his way down to having only two children left to help; another little girl and her grandmother and a boy of about eleven or twelve. There were other patrons in the showroom, but they were all adults and seemed content to browse on their own.
As he walked over to help the boy who was next, he watched as the boy's eyes got wider and wider as Logan approached. "So, what can we do for you today, young man?"
"Are...are you really...the Logan from the TV?"
Logan smiled. He was surprised, really, that the subject hadn't come up sooner. Logan heard a gasp from behind him, but ignored it. "Well, I suppose that depends on what you're referring to. I'm not an actor."
"No, from the news. Didn't someone try to shoot you?"
"Yes, that was me. But as you can see they missed." He held up his arms. "See, not a scratch on me."
That got a short laugh from the boy. "I'm sorry...was that rude?" He was looking around. Logan followed his gaze and noticed several people staring in disbelief at the boy. Logan returned his gaze to the boy and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"What's your name?"
"Chase...Chase Matthews." There was now a bit of fear in his eyes.
"No, Chase, you aren't being rude. I mean you saw it on the TV, didn't you?" Chase nodded. "Well, then, it's not exactly a secret, now is it?" Chase relaxed and concentrated on Logan, ignoring the stares of everyone else. "Was there something you wanted to know?"
"Weren't you scared?"
"Oh Chase, you have no idea how scared I was. My brother and I were shaking so hard when we walked away...and when we got in the truck we cried together. It was horrible to find that there was someone that wanted us dead."
"You...you didn't look scared. I mean, you got right up and started making them answer your questions."
Logan moved to Chase's side and draped his arm over his shoulder. "That's because Benjamin and I were more angry than we were scared...right at first. You have no idea how pissed off we were."
"I bet." He paused and looked up at Logan. "My dad says being gay is wrong."
Logan smiled. "And he is certainly entitled to his opinion. But that doesn't make him a bad man. Does your dad go around trying to get other people to hate gays?"
"See? Then your dad is not a bad man. He simply has an opinion and he's shared that opinion with you. Does your dad say you can't have any gay friends?"
Chase shook his head no. "I have a friend that's gay and dad knows, but he still lets him come over to play with me."
"So there you are. Your father is a good man. I wish there were more good men like that in the world. My gay friends would feel much safer. Tell you what, you tell your dad what we talked about and then tell him that I said thank you."
"That won't be necessary, Mr. Justice," said a male voice behind him.
Logan turned and there was no doubt that Chase was this man's son. The resemblance was striking. Logan held out his hand. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Matthews."
The man took the offered hand and shook it warmly. "It's...may I call you Logan?" Logan nodded. "It's nice to meet you too, Logan. I'm glad I have this chance to meet you. You did a good thing last week. I was very impressed by the stand you took and the way you made your points. I particularly enjoyed the part where you ordered the woman to shoot the man on stage."
"Thank you, sir."
"You just getting back?"
"Yes, sir. My family and I took a week of vacation to try and recover from everything that happened." He then looked back at Chase. "So, were you in the market for some flowers or just here to see me?"
Mr. Matthews laughed. "Okay, Chase, I'm going. I only came in because I saw you talking with Logan and I wanted to have a word too." He then looked at Logan. "My son wants to do something for this Parents Day, so I'm going to retire to the car so that I can be suitably surprised on Sunday."
Chase chose the large version of the selections. After he paid for it he told Martha that he'd ride his bike into town on Saturday to pick it up.
"But Chase, you live quite a ways away. Why don't you let us deliver it on Saturday? We're going to be delivering several of these for kids that can't get into town to pick them up."
"Really? You can do that?" He then grew concerned. "But I don't have any more money."
Logan had just finished with the final girl and was just passing. He ruffled Chase's hair. "There's no extra charge, Chase. You go on home and sometime Saturday your parents will get their flowers."
"Woe, that's so cool. Thanks, Logan." Then he ran out of the store.
Before the door could close another boy walked in. He was small, maybe eight or nine. He still had that sort of no color blond hair that would probably darken as he got older. He looked around shyly, obviously not sure what to do, so Logan made an about face and put on his most winning smile.
"Hi there, little man."
The boy froze, like a frightened deer, ready to bolt at the first provocation.
Logan stopped dead in his tracks and knelt down so that he was just below the boy's head. "Hey, there, it's okay. No one's going to hurt you."
"I seen you on TV," the boy whispered.
"Yeah, well I didn't have a lot of choice," laughed Logan. "Those reporters just needed a pretty face to put on the news." He put on an exaggerated pose. That got a laugh out of the boy. "So, do you remember my name from the TV?" The boy shook his head. Logan held out his hand. "I'm Logan."
The boy looked at the offered hand for moment and then hesitantly put his hand into Logan's. Logan made an effort to be gentle.
"I'm Peter, Logan."
"Very nice to meet you, Peter. So, what brought you in here today?"
"My...my mom...is real sick. I thought..."
"You thought you'd like to buy her something pretty to make her feel better." Peter nodded. "Well, we certainly have a lot of pretty things here. Moms love flowers."
"I...I don't have much money," said Peter as he pulled a few bills and some change out of his pocket.
"Well, it looks like plenty to get something for your mom. You know, we've got a special going right now for little boys that want to make their mom feel better. Why don't you come with me and we'll see if Martha can't put something pretty together for you."
Logan reached out again and Peter put his hand back into Logan's. He led the boy toward the counter where Martha was standing with her hand on the ad for Parent's Day. She seemed to be idly tapping the page, but Logan could see the tears in her eyes and noticed that she was specifically tapping on the picture of the largest bouquet. Logan nodded.
"Peter, this is Martha, she does all our sick mother arrangements."
"Hello there, Peter."
"And so polite," she smiled. Martha had three children of her own, now mostly grown, but she certainly knew how to deal with frightened little boys. "Tell you what, would you like to watch me make your mommy's flowers?"
"Really?! I could watch?...I mean, yes ma'am, I'd like that."
She held out her hand and Peter transferred his from Logan to her. "Well, come along then. Does anybody know you're here, sweetie?"
Peter stiffened and immediately began shaking. "Mr. Roper will probably figure it out."
"Who's Mr. Roper, Peter?" asked Logan.
"He's the foster parent the state placed me with while my mom is sick. He doesn't like me much. I told him I wanted to get a flower for my mom. He said it was a fu...I mean, a waste of good money." Peter was really shaking now and his eyes were really tearing up. "He'll probably hit me again. But mommy needs something to make her happy."
Well, Logan was all too aware of the cruelty of people, after the last couple of weeks. He was not going into this situation unprepared. He leaned over to Jake and whispered, "Go tell Ralph we're going to need him out here and he should bring his gun...in his belt." Jake got wide eyed, but walked briskly off.
"Come on, Peter," said Logan cheerfully. "Let's not worry about Mr. Roper right now. Let's think about your mother and how she's going to feel when you walk in with your flowers." He watched as Martha took the boy to the table furthest from the entrance and sat him on a stool and began making a big fuss over the arrangement. Logan grabbed his cell and immediately put in a call to Oscar.
"My goodness, Logan, you've only been gone an hour," said Oscar when he answered. "Miss me already?"
"Oscar, I think I've stumbled onto a situation of a foster parent abusing a child. The boy's about eight or so and he's absolutely petrified." Logan went on to explain what he knew.
"Phillip's already called security. Brad and Jackson are on their way. I'll be right behind them with Mark and the police." He then hung up before Logan could say a thing.
Ralph stepped into the work area at that moment and stepped up to Logan, watching the little boy being absolutely enthralled with the process of making up the arrangement. Martha had the boy giggling and helping to make selections. "He's such a cutie."
"And absolutely petrified. All he wants is to do something nice for his mom."
Just then a large man came storming into the front of the salon. "Where's that fucking boy!" Then he saw Peter in the back of the work area. "Get your ass fucking out here right now, you little shit!"
Martha, however, prevented the boy from moving by the simple expedient of hugging him to her tightly.
"Must be awfully satisfying to be able to bully a small child like this," said Logan as he moved to block the man's entrance into the work area.
The man reached out to shove Logan out of the way, but stopped suddenly.
"One more inch," said Ralph menacingly, "And I'll drop you where you stand."
"You better get the fuck away, you fucking faggots. That boy's mine! I got papers!" he yelled as a vehicle screeched to a stop and out jumped Brad and Jackson. The man actually took a swing at Logan...one that Logan was easily able to duck. Before he could reload for another swing Brad and Jackson slammed the man to the floor and bound his hands behind him.
Logan glanced back and could see that Peter was in tears. "Hey guys, could you take Mr. Personality here outside to wait for the police that Oscar's already called?" When Brad looked up at him, Logan nodded his head toward the whimpering boy.
"Right. You okay?"
"No problem. Just get him out of here."
It took about an hour to get everything sorted out. Oscar had brought Mark Prentice with him, so he was able to ensure Peter was well represented when the police questioned him in Ralph's office. When the police were satisfied that they had all they needed, Logan took Peter by the hand and led him back to the table where Martha waited.
"Is Mr. Oscar really that nice, Logan?" asked Peter as they exited the office.
"Oh, Peter, you have no idea. He is the best man I know. I promise he'll take real good care of you until your mother get's better."
"I...I don't think she's going to get better, Logan. She's got cancer. They don't tell me much, really, but I can tell she's not getting better." A couple of tears rolled down his face.
Logan lifted the boy onto the stool and handed him a Kleenex. "Well why don't you help Martha finish making your special arrangement and I'll take you over to the hospital so you can give them to her."
The child was beside himself with joy by the time they reached the hospital. Logan happened to catch a glimpse of Oscar and Mark as they were leaving the hospital, so he knew that if there was anything that could be done, it would be. Logan stood at the open door of the room as Peter walked slowly up to the bed.
"Mommy?" he called softly. "Mommy, you awake? I brought you something."
The emaciated woman opened her eyes and her face lit up at the sight before her. "Oh, my baby, they're beautiful."
"I know how much you love flowers, so I went over to Logan's store and bought these for you. They even let me help." Peter was beaming, seeing the joy in his mother's eyes.
She gushed about the flowers for several moments before she sent her son out of the room. "They just gave me something to make me sleep, sweetie. Could you wait outside while I say thank you to Logan?"
"Sure, mommie." He kissed her cheek and then left.
The woman motioned Logan to her bedside and then made him bend over so that she could kiss his cheek. "Thank you, Logan. Oscar and Mark told me what you did for my baby."
"He's a sweet child."
"They tell me I don't have long, Logan. Will Oscar and Mark really make sure my baby is taken care of?"
"Yes, ma'am. Oscar and Mark have found really good homes for several boys over the years. They'll make sure Peter goes to a couple that will love him completely. And Oscar will check on him from time to time to make sure he's being well cared for. And so will I."
Oscar was waiting in the lobby to take Peter home, so Logan was able to go back to the salon knowing that another abused child would be cared for. He spent the rest of the day filling everyone in on what had happened in Irving, Texas and then Mallorca, saying only that Oscar had arranged for the vacation. He gave more details to Ralph since he knew about Arthur.
Logan stopped at the residence on his way home only to learn that Peter's mom had died shortly after they'd left the hospital. He found the crying boy in Phillip's room, being held and comforted tenderly. He noticed Logan immediately.
"Shh," said Logan as the boy tried to tell him what had happened. "I know. I'm very sorry, Peter."
"She got to see my flowers though," he said bravely.
"Your flowers and your smiling face," said Logan as he caressed the boy's face. "She was smiling when I left her room today, Peter. She was happy."
"You mean that?"
"Oh yes, Peter. She knew how much you loved her and she knew that there were good people that were going to make sure her only son was well cared for."
Peter hugged Logan and kissed his cheek. "I think I'm tired now, Phillip."
Phillip picked the boy up and placed him in his own bed and then simply laid down beside him. Logan remembered at that moment how Phillip had done the same thing for Reed when he'd first come to live with them.
He found Oscar in his office. "We'll keep him here for a week or so to give the tyke a chance to recover a bit. Phillip's always been good at that sort of thing. You did good today, Logan. I'm proud of you."
"Thanks, Oscar. So, how's Reed's day been going?"
"I think he's actually having the time of his life. Turns out that Lucius is God's own definition of a flaming faggot...Lucius' phrase, not mine, by the way. He had Reed in stitches in mere moments, according to Charles. They've been at the space all afternoon going over the plans. Charles already had all the permits, so he brought in his crew right away and Reed's been watching the process." Oscar laughed. "He's like a puppy with a new toy."
"Good," said Logan with a smile as he stood. "Well, I need to get home. Tell Reed I stopped by but couldn't stay." He hesitated. "Tell him I love him too."
Oscar smiled. "I'll tell him."
"Oh, and tell Phillip to schedule the double. I'd like to do a dry run with the lighting and video guys before Friday if he can manage it."
"I'll tell him. You think you could be ready this Saturday?"
"Absolutely. Uh, you better tell Reed."
"I'll handle it. By the way, I wanted to compliment you on what you gave Arthur on Wednesday night. We have a small problem, however. You see, Logan, Arthur is on the board that directs all this. He can't be known for getting preferential treatment. No performance without payment."
"I'm sorry, Oscar, but I meant what I told him that night. That performance was not for sale."
They sat there staring at each other for several minutes.
Logan could see, though, that he was going to lose this argument. "You're going to insist, aren't you?"
"Not me, Logan, the board."
Then a sudden thought occurred to him. "All right, how would it go over if I insisted that the money be directed somewhere else?"
"I suppose that would depend on where it was directed."
"Could you get them to agree to stash the money away in some sort of trust fund for Benny?"
Oscar brightened at that thought. "You know, I might be able to convince them. He is your brother, after all, and I know you have no intention of ever letting him get involved in this. If I word it carefully, I think they just might go for it."
"Since Arthur is now family, if we keep it in the family, then they shouldn't have any complaints. Uncle Arthur is still out the money he would have given me, but it goes someplace other than my account."
"Okay. I'll work on it. Don't worry about it."
When he got home Logan had to sit through a new show of Ben's progress and then sat and explained how his day had gone.
"Well, I have to go over there tomorrow," said Ben. "Oscar wants to draw some blood to check my chemistry. I'll try and spend a little time with Peter."
Peter rebounded quickly over the course of the week. Of course, that was mainly due to the fact that everyone made much of him during that time. Everyone made a point of coming by and spending time with him. He particularly enjoyed Ben's visits, for though he was much older, he was more Peter's size and could be relied upon to play a bit.
Reed's office quickly began to take shape. He spent every day there, simply watching the process. He helped out by picking up after the workers, but otherwise simply stayed out of the way and watched. The men quickly took to his quiet observation. It was rare to have a client that wasn't constantly making demands. They were more than happy to answer his questions, because it became obvious fairly quickly that he genuinely wanted to understand what was going into making this his space.
Logan made a point of stopping by Reed's office every day at lunch. He was able to participate just a bit in Reed's excitement, which pleased them both. Otherwise, Logan was busy at the salon. The Parent's Day experiment went better than any of them had expected. They got such a remarkable response that they actually had to go down to the party store and purchase more of the brandy snifters.
Phillip drove the two boys to the theater on Thursday afternoon. They arrived to find five men waiting at the elevator. Phillip did the introductions; there were two video operators, one sound man, one lighting man, and someone neither boy expected, a director.
"Actually, boys, I'm not here to direct your performance. I'll be directing these four to ensure we give you the best possible support. I have to tell you that we're thrilled you've asked for this run through. It will be a real novelty for us to actually have a clue what's going to happen...before the house lights go down."
They all laughed at the truth in that.
"Well, we're going to walk you through the acting portions," said Logan. "I'm afraid the sex parts are going to be spur of the moment."
That got a stunned look from the technicians.
"You're actually going to have some acting in this?" asked the sound man.
"Yes, sir," answered Reed. "It's something that Phillip says has never been done before. Logan and I want to be unique, so we've been working on a couple of little plays that'll warm everybody up before we actually get to the sex parts."
"A 'couple' of plays?" piped in the sound man.
"Yes, George," said Phillip. "The boys want to do two of these things in rapid succession. The first will be this Saturday and the second in two weeks. They've decided that they'll each be different. It'll make it more fun for the boys that way."
"Wow," said one of the video guys. "We going to be recording this by any chance?"
"It's something I have to talk over with the boys today. We'll let you know before we're done."
The technicians ran off to turn on and check out all the equipment while Phillip led the boys to the dressing room.
"Recording?" asked Reed when they'd gotten into the room and shut the door.
"It was an idea I had. After that talk we had that day I brought you here I thought it would be great to have a record of these two performances."
"Have you asked Dad how he feels about this?" asked Reed and they all took seats.
"Oh, you know I've talked to Dad. No way was I going to try and go behind his back on this. He agreed, but only if he has complete control of the distribution. It might go out of the house, but only escorted. He's not going to take a chance of someone copying it. It will never be for sale. But it will go a long way in our public relations if we can show it to those that just can't be here."
"You know, Reed, I bet that will add a bit of excitement for us, knowing that this will be recorded and saved. I don't mind, so long as Oscar can control what happens to it."
"Well, I don't mind either. But only if you're absolutely certain Dad said it was okay."
"You can ask him yourself when we get home," smiled Phillip. "So, let me show you the actors' area."
Of course, the actors' area consisted solely of the room they were in. But it was a large room. The shower was huge. The sitting area was spacious, able to accommodate at least a dozen people. There was even a makeup vanity.
Phillip laughed at their perplexed looks. "It's there mainly so the performers can adjust their hair, camouflage any unsightly zits, that sort of thing." He paused a moment. "Could you guys handle having a bit of professional makeup done that night? There're some powders that can be applied that will reduce odd glares but still let your skin breathe."
"Probably some seventy year old lady," laughed Logan.
Phillip returned the laugh. "No, actually, he's twenty-three and straight as an arrow. But he's very good and doesn't mind at all coming in to help and then watch. He's not hung up about his heterosexuality."
"Well, to answer your question," said Reed, "We don't mind. Let's not give the director any more headaches than he's already going to have."
Having duly inspected the backstage accommodations, they walked out into the theater. It was obvious that the technicians were still testing their equipment. The director stood on the stage, orchestrating the process, so the three boys simply sat in several of the lounges and waited patiently for the process to be completed.
"All right, boys," said the director as he finally stepped down from the stage. "We've got two lamps to replace, one microphone and two cameras to reconnect or replace. We'll be just a few more minutes. I want everything working before you start your walk through."
"By the way, Brent," called out Phillip, "The boys have agreed to the recording."
"Excellent. I had the guys running their checks on the recorders just in case. Everything's in pretty good shape considering we haven't used the theater in quite some time."
Phillip turned to the boys. "We flew in a couple of boys about six months ago. That's the last time this stage has seen any action."
The three of them then talked about what they wanted to accomplish, while they waited for the final preparations to be complete.
The walk through went very well. Everyone was exceedingly professional throughout. They had to stop a few times so that the lighting could be adjusted to accomplish a better effect. Brent was really hyped by the time he left the technicians to shut everything down. He joined the boys in the lobby.
"Has anyone been given a clue on what you boys have planned?" he asked.
"No one," said Phillip. "All I've told them is that this will be like nothing they've ever seen and that's why the price has gone up."
"Well, you're certainly right about it being unique. I'm really quite impressed with the thought you've put into this. And thanks again for letting us have a bit of a sneak peek at this one. I promise you it will be well worth it."
"Did you really get enough information, Brent?" asked Logan.
"So long as you stay on the bed when the sex starts, things will be perfect." Just then the rest of the technicians joined them. "These guys in the booth really know their stuff. They're going to make you look the best you can."
"Well then, we'll just thank you all in advance," said Logan as he and Reed walked around and shook all their hands. "We really appreciate you taking time today to do this."
When they returned to the residence, they learned how Oscar was orchestrating their disappearance on Saturday.
"I've arranged for Peter to get a full physical on Saturday. But I have a prior engagement then and you guys will all be at work. So I've asked your mom, Logan, if she and Benjamin can take him and stay with him during the process. She said she was more than happy to help out. So that should cover all our asses on this one. I'll probably have to really polish up my imagination for the next one though."
"So, how'd it go?"
"Brent and his crew were thrilled," said Phillip. "Everything is fully operational and they were able to get enough to ensure one top notch entertainment."
"Dad? Is it really okay to record our performance?" asked Reed.
"I had to think about it, son, but yes, if you two don't mind, I'll allow it. But no one is going to control that DVD but me," said Oscar with some heat. "I'll have the only copy and it will go where it needs to under escort and never leave the custody of the escort. No one's ever to lay a hand on it for any reason."
Logan glanced at his watch. "Well, we still have an hour before I'm supposed to get off work, Reed. Why don't you and I go see how work's progressed on your new digs?"
They arrived to find that all the new walls were finally completed. There were two electricians crawling all over the place making the final connections to all the outlets and switches. There was even one expert present going over the placement of the two plasma TV's that would be located in the lobby area.
Charles and Lucius were both in attendance and greeted the boys enthusiastically.
"Finally, I can get painters in here," said Lucius. "Oh, Reed, your office furniture has started coming in. I'm storing it in my warehouse for the time being. We won't move it in until Charles declares his work complete."
"That's why I love working with Lucius. He always lets me have the space until it's finally buttoned up. I don't have to try and dodge furniture and accessories in the final stages."
"So the counters won't go in until the end?" asked Reed.
"Oh, no," said Charles reassuringly. "Those are custom builds. We'll bring the carpenters in for that as soon as Lucius declares the painting complete. They're building the cabinets in their shop. They'll install them and then set the counter tops."
"This is really looking great, guys," said Reed warmly. It was still all a bit overwhelming. He'd spent the past year and a half working out of his bedroom. But now he was going to become a professional...a real businessman...with employees. "Are you still on schedule?"
"Just a bit ahead, actually," said Charles. "It's unusual for us not to have to deal with a temperamental owner. The subs have been putting out a bit more effort in appreciation."
"Well, I'm glad," blushed Reed. "I was afraid that they'd object to all my questions."
Charles laughed. "Questions they don't mind. They love a chance to talk about what they do."
After everyone left, Logan put an arm around Reed's waist as they simply stood and stared at the progress. "So, you excited about all of this?"
"I thought I'd be scared to death, lover, but yeah, I'm excited. The best part is that you're here to share it with me."
Logan squeezed him lightly and kissed his cheek. "By the way, I've talked to Ralph. He and I are going to throw a few things together for your grand opening. It'll only cost you for materials. The labor is from family."
Reed turned and faced Logan and pulled him into an embrace. "God, I love loving you, Logan," he whispered. "You are the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Logan simply hugged him back. "And I feel exactly the same way about you, lover. I never imagined I'd fall in love so young. I'd intended to wait until I was older, better established in my adult life. But Reed, this feels so damn awesome. I can't imagine my life without us being together."
"I'm not sure how much longer I can do this performing though, Logan." Reed pushed Logan slightly away. "It feels a little like cheating on you."
Logan leaned forward and engaged in one long, loving kiss. "I've been thinking the same thing, sweetheart," said Logan as they disengaged. "But I think we need to talk about it some before we make a final decision. We really do owe these people quite a bit."
"God, don't I know it." He knew that Logan was right, but still, it bothered him slightly.
"You know," said Logan, having a thought, "If these doubles are the hit I think they'll be, maybe we could convince your dad and Phillip to keep us just for that purpose. Let them bring in some new boys for the private shows."
Reed brightened at that idea. "Oh, that'd be killer. That wouldn't be cheating. Just you and me...and fifty or so pairs of eyes watching every move."
They laughed, but felt better for the idea. At least they had a goal to reach for. That would give their performance on Saturday just that much more incentive to be the best it could be.
They shared another lingering kiss and embrace, then exited the building and locked up.
Oscar had managed to find a vacant building in the historic part of town. But many modern businesses had moved in, thus making it a favorite area for teens to shop. It was for that reason that as they were walking toward their vehicles, they were hailed...by two different groups of kids. One was Martin and the crew, the other was Mark and Jess.
There was much hugging and noise as their friends welcomed them home. There was also a bit of relief, since the boys hadn't been seen in town for so long after the events in Texas.
"I can't believe you went to Texas," said Jess. "I thought that press conference you held here was all you were going to do."
"Well, no," said Logan. "We'd always planned to attend any response the Scouts made. We just hadn't planned to have to leave town to do it. They were hoping that by doing it at the national headquarters they wouldn't have to deal with us. We had a friend that got wind of that, though, and helped us get there."
"You and your brother were fucking awesome, Logan," said Arty. "I happened to be recording something that night and screwed up my time sets, so I got it recorded on my TIVO. I've watched it a dozen times."
"So where have you guys been all this time?" asked Mark. "The security guys knocked on the door Monday afternoon and told us that everything was safe now and that they'd be leaving. Sure was a relief to our parents, but then we couldn't find you."
"Sorry, everyone," said Reed. "Dad thought that after all the excitement that we could use some time away to recharge. We spent a week with a friend of his in Mallorca."
Everyone simply stood there looking completely baffled.
"You guys need to pay more attention in Geography," laughed Reed. "It's an island off the east coast of Spain. You know, Mediterranean Sea?"
Well, at that point everyone wanted all the details.
"Look guys," said Logan, "We really can't stay and talk right now. Our parents are expecting us home for dinner."
"Tell you what," said Reed, "I'll give you a call Sunday and we'll set something up to get together next week at my place." He turned to Mark and Jess. "That means you, too."
Well everyone agreed that this was a lot better idea than standing in the middle of town. It'd also be a lot more fun. So Reed and Logan got the numbers for Mark and Jess and then went their separate ways.
The minute he got his car running, Logan placed a call home.
"Logan," answered his mother, "You okay?"
"Yes, mom, I'm just fine. I'm sorry, but we were leaving Reed's new office and ran into friends that had been worried about us. We had to give them the quick story, but I'm on my way home right now."
"Well, I'm relieved."
"I'll be home in ten minutes or so, depending on traffic."
"All right, dear, we can hold dinner that long. See you soon." The relief in her voice was quite evident.
Logan realized that it was going to be a while before her nerves completely settled after all the drama of late. He'd have to be more conscious of calling home.
Friday was busy for both Logan and Reed. Since the painters had taken over the place, Reed didn't go to his office, but instead spent his morning working on advertising ideas and plans for his grand opening. Ralph called him at noon and asked if he could spare some time to help with deliveries for the rest of the day. Since he'd done all he could without some professional help, he was more than happy to get out of the house.
Everyone was excited when he arrived because with him was little Peter. Martha immediately ran out from behind the counter and grabbed the boy and lifted him into a huge mother's hug.
"Peter! What a surprise!"
Peter was thrilled by the welcome and hugged her neck with enthusiasm. "Hi, Ms. Martha." Then he kissed her cheek. These were all such marvelous people.
"When he heard where I was going and what I'd be doing he asked if he could come along and help," explained Reed to no one in particular.
"Oh that's a wonderful idea," gushed Martha. "The parents are going to be thrilled to have their flowers delivered by such a cute young thing."
"Yes they will," said Ralph as he came up and ruffled the boy's hair just before Martha set him back on the floor. "Reed, you're a genius!" Then he looked down at Peter. "And you are extraordinary for wanting to help like this. Tell you what, Peter, you are on the payroll for today and tomorrow, if you'd like. I'll pay you one hundred dollars a day to be our special Parent's Day ambassador."
Poor Peter's eyes nearly popped out of his head. All he'd wanted was a chance to get out of the house and do something different. "You're going to pay me?"
"Oh, yes, young sir," said Ralph. "Everyone that works at the Maxwell Justice Studios is a rare and talented individual. Those qualities deserve to be rewarded."
"What's an ambassador do?" he asked in that piping little voice of his.
Ralph knelt down and took one the boy's hands in his. "Being an ambassador is an easy job, my boy, but so important. Remember how your mom looked when you brought your flowers to her?" Peter smiled at that memory and nodded. "Well, imagine that look on everyone you meet when you arrive with the flowers their son or daughter bought for them. All you do is smile and say 'Happy Parent's Day'."
Peter smiled and thought about that a moment. "I can do that."
They were so busy that they'd had to set up two tables so that they could assemble the arrangements fast enough to satisfy all the boys and girls that came in. In the back, everyone was busy making up the delivery orders. Jake, as usual, had the task of coordinating the deliveries, but the spreadsheet that Logan had designed made that task so much easier than usual.
Reed and Peter would get twenty-five or so arrangements loaded into the salon's delivery Lexus for each run. Having Peter along really sped up the process, especially after the boy had gotten over his nervousness. Fortunately the first delivery had done the trick. The woman that answered the door had been so surprised that she'd teared up and hugged the adorable little boy. Then she'd had him wait for a moment as she ran back inside, only to return with a five dollar bill for Peter.
Peter had returned to the car quite thrilled by the response and had tried to give the five dollars to Reed. "That's yours, Peter," smiled Reed.
Well, Peter had gotten a shocked look on his face. "But, I thought she was paying for the flowers."
"No, Peter, all of these flowers have already been paid for. That is a tip. It's a very special sort of thank you. You won't always get one, but some of the people you see today and tomorrow will give you something. You just put them in your pocket."
"I should split this with you since we're doing this together," said Peter matter of factly.
By the end of the day, which ran until seven, they'd managed to deliver seventy-five arrangements and Peter had garnered fifty dollars in tips. It took a bit, but Reed managed to convince Peter that the tips were all his. Everyone at the salon made such a fuss over his accomplishment that Peter was still glowing when they arrived home.
"Phillip! I'm rich!" he'd yelled as they entered the house.
Phillip came out of the media room and waved at them to join him. "Come, I've got a bit of a surprise to go along with your accomplishment."
When they were seated Phillip cued up the TIVO to a spot he'd recorded during the news hour.
"And finally, a little something to bring a smile to your face," said the lady on the screen. "Our news crew was out today and happened to catch sight of the Maxwell Justice Studios delivery car out and about. Not a big deal, you might say. But what caught their eye was the child that was riding in the vehicle. That seemed unusual, so they discreetly followed to see what was happening. This is what they saw and recorded."
The scene changed to show Reed pulling up to a home. Everyone watched as little Peter got out of the car with a bouquet of flowers in his tiny hands. "It seems that Sunday is Parent's Day. Not something we normally hear much about. But the Maxwell Justice Studios, in a fit of genius, chose to promote the day for a change, and the response, we're told, has been overwhelming."
"But in true Maxwell style, they couldn't be content with simply selling and delivering flowers in the usual manner. No, they had to have a child deliver flowers that had been purchased by children. Watch..."
Everyone watched as Peter walked up and confidently knocked on the door. The minute it opened, his tiny voice called out "Happy Parent's Day". The woman had looked initially shocked. But that immediately turned to stunned joy as she knelt down to take the flowers and give the boy a hug. As she was hugging him, the camera zoomed in so that when Peter turned to leave, all the world saw the radiant smile on his angelic face. The picture froze on that moment.
"Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the face of love. This is the face of a child that has had so much love in his life that he has to share it by going among us with gifts other children...our children...have sent to say 'I love you'." The screen switched back to the commentator. But this time it showed one of the Parent's Day bouquets sitting next to her.
"I learned that this beautiful little boy is Peter. I found this out when I opened my front door early this afternoon and found him standing there with this bouquet that my daughter had bought for my husband and me." Her eyes were obviously clouding with emotion. "Peter, thank you. You are a marvelous ambassador for our children's love. May your life always be filled with people that appreciate and love you."
As Phillip switched off the TV, Oscar reached over and picked up the stunned little boy and sat him in his lap. "I'm very proud of you, Peter. We all are." He paused for just a moment. "You have every right to be sad right now, but you've gone out today and made many people very, very happy. I bet your mom is up there right now, telling all the other angels how proud she is of her little boy."
Instead of getting sad at the reminder of his loss, they were surprised that his smile got even bigger. "I bet she is too. She was always telling people she was proud of me."
Reed and Peter were so adept that they cleared out all the deliveries by noon on Saturday. All that remained was for the staff to make up the bouquets that were purchased during the afternoon and would be taken home with the child.
Logan and Reed were able to leave at noon. Phillip went ahead and drove them to the theater where the boys napped in the performer's room for an hour before their makeup man arrived. With an air of absolute professionalism he had the boys strip. He spent a few moments walking around the standing boys with a critical eye.
"Well, guys, your bodies are in great condition. Not a single blemish that I can see needing any attention. I'll just apply a light dusting of a body powder that will cut down on the sheen of your body oils. You'll still perspire normally. That will add to the excitement for your audience."
"You're amazingly accepting of all this for someone who's heterosexual, Bill," observed Logan.
Bill simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled. "Pornography has never offended me. It's just another form of entertainment. I've never understood all the fuss. The performers are doing it because they want to. Most do it just for the money, but I sense that there's more to it with you two."
Reed laughed. "We did it for the money at first, too. But damn if we didn't go and fall in love."
"It doesn't happen often," observed Bill, "But I've seen it happen before. When it does, the performance is always a cut above the norm. I'm actually looking forward to watching."
At three, Phillip came in to find the boys dressed in their briefs and trousers, but no shirts. "Well, everyone's arrived and are seated. You ready?"
"Are you?" they asked as one.
"Oh yeah, I am so ready for this."
Phillip led them to the room below the stage.
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[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead