Still Another Chance ~ Book Four of Another Chance

Chapter Ten: The Camping Trip (The First Day)

(A Crossover with Priorities)

by Zarek Dragon

Author's Note: When doing a crossover between two stories, every effort is made to keep the stories interconnected yet separate. In some cases, this isn't prudent to the storyline. The chapters, Priorities Book II Chapter 23 and Still Another Chance 10, have some areas that are virtually identical, but different in many areas. Both authors contributed to the creation of the entire chapter. Please read both stories, you will come across many differences; some more subtle than others. Conversations where only one story's characters are involved are only in THAT story.

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As the boys were getting their gear ready to head to the lake, a car that Eric recognized was pulling up to the Home. Miss Williams got out of her car and Eric looked surprised. "Miss Williams, what are you doing here?"

"The State asked me to inspect the facilities," she declared. "How are you and your new dads doing?"

Eric smiled, telling her what she wanted to know, but he responded, "I couldn't be happier. I know that I am loved, but Dad won't let me get by doing something that I shouldn't."

"That's good to know. Is the Home officially running?" she inquired.

Eric replied, "We won't officially open until the first of August, but…"

"You have some boys already, I know," Miss Williams stated. "So how many boys are staying at the Home right now?"

"Just Phoenix and Xander, right now," Eric replied. "We do have some friends who are helping staying with us right now, but they will be going back to South Dakota, too soon."

Miss Williams looked puzzled, "Xander? Xander? Oh, you mean Alexander Martin? How's he doing?"

"I'm doing really well," Xander replied, carrying a bag to one of the ATVs. "I found a group of people who make me feel wanted and not just to abuse."

"Do you mind if I comment in my report about how the ranch has helped you?"

"If it helps the ranch, go for it," Xander gave Miss Williams a smile.

"That's why I want to use it," Miss Williams returned the smile. "Are Zac, Jim or Joe around? I need to ask them some questions. And I will need to speak with you and Phoenix, if I may." Xander just nodded, feeling that this was probably important for the ranch.

"Uncle Zac is in the ranch office, Uncle Jim is taking care of the horses and Dad in the Home's Kitchen talking to Maurice before he leaves for South Dakota."

Miss Williams asked, "Think they would mind if I disturb them? I'd like to meet Maurice since he will be staying here."

Eric stated, "I'm sure they won't mind."

As Miss Williams turned toward the kitchen, she stopped and turned back towards Eric, "Oh, and happy birthday, yesterday."

Gate Separator

"Maurice, while you are gone, don't even think about this place," Joe advised. "The boys will be camping, only Eric will be coming back to visit with his grandparents during the day, so just enjoy your visit.

"Merci, j'ai l'intention de le faire," Maurice claimed with a smile. "That's 'thanks, I intend to.'"

Joe chuckled, "At least you didn't apologize this time, but thanks for repeating it in English."

Seeing someone he didn't recognize entering the kitchen, Maurice asked, "What are you doing in my kitchen?"

"She's alright, Maurice," Joe declared. "Miss Williams is with Children's Protective Services." Joe looked at Miss Williams and asked, "You don't have another boy needing a home, I hope. We won't be opening until Monday, the first."

Miss Williams shook her head, "No, I was asked by the State to come and inspect."

With a puzzled look on his face, Joe inquired, "Why? I mean, you are free to inspect all that you want, but we already have our certification, and we were recently inspected."

"I am aware of that," Miss Williams assured. "No, this is because the State would like to establish Another Chance Boys' Home as a place where parents can bring their sons who they cannot care for. They could be able to sever their parental rights here instead of just tossing their kids onto the street like so many do. That way, there wouldn't need to be any legal action against the parents. Are you prepared for something like that?"

Joe looked worried, "It depends on how many do it, and how quickly. I may need more staff if I get a rush."

Miss Williams nodded, "I understand. You will be receiving an amount from the State for each child that you house, but from what I was told, you don't want the money itself, you would rather it go to the boys."

"That is correct," Joe stated. "They can have part of it immediately, but the rest will need to be deposited into a trust fund account and they can have it on their eighteenth birthday, or if they go to college before. The Home itself will be functioning on donations. We were given a sizable donation at Trevor and Roger's wedding, plus, we have annual donations already lined up. You would have to talk with my mom about how much we have total… right now, as well as what is pledged. As a lawyer, she is handling the trust fund for the Home."

"Trevor and Roger? They're the boys who were in the paper?" Miss Williams asked for clarification. "It was because of that article and the publicity that the State would like making this a Safe Place. If you are up to it, I will recommend it, but don't let yourself get overwhelmed. I understand that Aunt Sallie will be overseeing everything. Use her for guidance. I'm sure she'd be happy to help with hiring or wherever else you may need her assistance. Here is my card, you can call me with questions, also."

Joe shed a single tear betraying the depth of his conviction. "If it keeps even one boy from being tossed out like Eric and I were, I will do it. I would so much rather the parents come here than just throw their sons out. It is my purpose in life to do whatever I can to aid kids in that situation."

"I had a feeling," Miss Williams averred as she wiped the tear from Joe's cheek. "Maurice, I understand that you will be cooking. I've read your background and I am impressed. Are you ready to cook for a hundred boys?"

"Oui," Maurice replied. "Won't be a problem. With Joe's assistance, I can manage, or we've already discussed increasing my staff as needed."

"Yes, I believe you will," Miss Williams assured. "Now, just so I can include it with my report, I'd like to speak with Alexander... er, I mean Xander Martin and Phoenix Blaze."

"I hope they haven't headed to the lake yet," Joe chuckled. "They will be camping all weekend."

"Yes, I saw them loading up a couple of trailers attached to ATVs," stated Miss Williams. "Xander said that he would speak with me."

Joe said, "Well, since they know you want to speak with them, they'll probably wait."

They walked out to where the boys were preparing their rides and all the boys were grouped together, waiting. Miss Williams asked for Xander to chat with her. Once they were alone, she explained what her mission was, and Xander gave his thoughts. "Cases like mine, I honestly don’t think this place being a safe place would have mattered. I would rather have that son of a bitch kick me out or give me up to a place like this. Jim, Zac and Joe may be young, but I think that's why I trust them so soon after coming here."

"In your case…" Miss Williams had to stop to clear her throat and wipe her face. "In your case, had you considered running away, you might…"

"Which I did think about," Xander interrupted.

"I'm sure you did," Miss Williams acknowledged. "I would have, but then, as I was saying, that could have gotten you into more trouble. But if you had a Safe Place that you could have gone to and explained, we would have gotten you out of that hell a lot sooner." Tears were flowing down Miss Williams' face.

"I'd be happy to help in any way I can," Xander declared. "If I can be like someone that any new boy needs to talk to, to help them cope, I will. This place means so much to me."

"Well, sorry to keep you from your camping trip, and thank you," Miss Williams offered. "Can you ask Phoenix to come in, please?"

"We're still waiting for Tim to show up, so you're not keeping us… yet, but thank you and I will."

Xander came out and Phoenix went in. While Phoenix was talking with Miss Williams, Alex dropped Tim off. Tim went to hug Xander and his dad, thinking he'd grabbed his stuff, had pulled away. "Crap!" Tim exclaimed, "my sleeping bag and clothes are still in the car."

Xander smiled, "I don't mind sharing my sleeping bag with you. We can just unzip it and lay on top."

"We have extra sleeping bags in the cabin," Zac stated. "Jim or I will be out later, in case you don't find one."

Patrick asked, "Are we taking one of the radios? We could just call you if we can't find them."

"Yes, you will be taking a radio," Jim stated. "Remember, security will be monitoring it, as well as us, so if you have an emergency, use it. And remember, it's not a toy."

"We will, Dad," Patrick replied.

"Also," Zac added, "we still haven't found out who left that camp fire in the cave last month… actually, over five weeks ago, so be careful. Whoever it was has probably moved on, but we don't know for sure. If they are still on the property and threaten you in any way, let us and security know as soon as possible."

"We will, Dad." At that time, Phoenix came out of the cafeteria. Miss Williams followed him, but then headed for her car.

"What was that all about?" Jim asked.

Joe explained, "She is here on behalf of the State. They want to make this a place where parents can give up their boys rather than just kick them out for being gay."

"And if a boy is in a situation like I was, they would be able to come here," Xander added.

"Speaking of which, Dusty will be here Monday. He would like to talk with each of you individually," Jim stated, looking at Xander and Phoenix, "and if you're up to it, together. He will be making regular visits, but it's up to you how often you talk with him."

"I thought Dr. Bear was coming," Zac claimed.

"He believes that Dusty, being closer to their age, would make them more comfortable, and Dusty is interning for him while he goes to school."

Trevor was getting anxious, "Let's get a move on. That lake is screaming, 'Come swim in me.'"

"Crap, my swim suit is still in the car with my sleeping bag."

"That's OK," Jake stated, "we're all guys, so we don't need them."

"You skinny-dip?" Tim questioned.

Patrick chuckled, "Wait until you experience it, you won't want to wear anything while swimming, again." Tim shrugged his shoulders.

Trevor mounted one ATV and Xander mounted the other. Jake rode with Xander. As Jim handed Xander a radio, he suggested that they head on out so that the ATVs didn't spook the horses. Phoenix and Eric got in Eric's golf cart.

The rest of the boys mounted horses and headed for the lake. Maurice and Brian got into the Home's SUV, then headed for South Dakota.

Fencing Separator

Once they were at the lake, Xander asked Trevor, "Should we unload the trailers first, or go for a swim and wait for the others?"

Jake took that as a hint and started undressing. Trevor, on the other hand, suggested, "We should unload the trailers. Let's line up the coolers at the tree line. That way, they'll be easy enough to access, but out of the way, and in the shade."

"That makes sense," Xander replied. The boys had Jake stand out of the way while they drove the ATVs over to the trees. They were moving the second cooler when Eric and Phoenix rolled in. Trevor noticed that he had used the road and asked, "How close are we to the road? Any chance of someone seeing us?"

Shaking his head, Phoenix stated, "No, we are blocked by trees, and it's at least three hundred yards between us and the road."

Xander stated, "Cool, Trevor and I have one cooler left to move, if you two want to start taking things into the cabin, we'll help when we're done."

"Can I help?" Jake asked. Eric handed Jake a sleeping bag. The boys on horses were arriving as Jake went into the cabin. Suddenly they heard screams from inside. Patrick jumped off his horse and ran toward the cabin. "JAKE!!! Are you alright?!?" concern was evident in his voice, as he ran for the cabin. Xander put his end of the cooler down, and rushed to the cabin door.

Jake backed out of the cabin, claiming, "Someone is in there!"

"Come out of there," Xander demanded.

"What if they're armed," Patrick questioned. "Maybe you should call Dad and security."

"No, please don't," a boy called out. Then a sixteen-year-old boy Lukecame out of the cabin, followed by two boys around Jake's age.

Xander looked at the boy for a few minutes; he seemed to recognize him. Finally, he asked, "Luke? What are you doing out here? And who are these two boys?"

"When your dad was arrested, my dad was making comments, stating that you only got what you deserved for being gay," Luke claimed. His head was low as he continued, "I got mad and told Dad that you didn't choose to be gay, it was how God made you, just like me."

"So, you're gay?" Tim questioned.

Eric inquired, "Did your dad kick you out?"

Still looking down, Luke nodded his head. Xander asked, "And these two boys?"

Matthew and Mark"They are my six-year-old brothers, Matthew and Mark," Luke replied. "When big bad Preacher John James kicked me out, he looked at them and snarled, 'If you're gay, you might as well leave with him.'"

"Can they know if they are, at six?" Xander asked.

Luke responded, "Honestly, I don't have a clue, but they chose to leave with me."

"We are gay," one of the twins replied.

"Do you know what being gay means?" Scott inquired.

"It means we love boys instead of them nasty girls," the other twin stated.

Trevor questioned, "How long ago did he kick you out?"

"I don't know, I don't even know what day it is, anymore," Luke admitted. Then he added, "He kicked us out on the sixth of June."

"ALMOST TWO MONTHS AGO!?!" Scott was shocked.

Patrick asked, "Were you staying in the cave on the far side of the ranch?"

"Yeah, until you two discovered our campfire," Luke declared.

Patrick insisted, "We need to let my dad and papa know about you."

"Please?" Luke begged, "if you do, the twins might get separated, and I can't allow that."

"My dad will be running the Boys' Home; you need to talk with him. I promise; he will understand and help you," Eric argued.

Luke looked nervous, "Can I have time to think about it? You're asking a lot from me."

Before anyone could answer, they heard Jake talking, "Daddy, can you, Papa and Uncle Joe come to the lake, we need you." They were all stunned to see him with the radio in his hand.

"Jake, what did you do?" Xander asked.

Shrinking back, Jake nervously responded, "I… I…I'm sorry, but Patrick said that Daddy and Papa needed to know."

One of the twins got all over Xander... "You didn't hafta yell at him, he was just doin' what he thought was right."

Looking at Jake, Xander muttered, "You're right, and I'm sorry, I didn't mean to. Jake, you did do the right thing, you just surprised me."

"OH MAN!!!" Luke was distraught, "We need to get out of here."

"Can we eat something, first?" Matthew asked.

Mark added, "Yeah, I'm hungry."

Luke sadly told his brothers, "We don't have anything to eat, and I'm almost out of money."

Trevor looked at the twins and asked, "Would you like some chips and I can fix you a hotdog?"

"Can we have the hotdog, now?" the twins asked, as if in one voice. "We like them cold." Luke sat on a log and started to cry.

Tim sat beside him, put his arm around the boy and offered, "I barely know these people, but I think you'll be glad that he called them."

Xander sat on the other side, "In the week I've been here, this place has helped me deal with everything. Give it a chance, Luke. It is called 'Another Chance.'"

Matthew turned to his brother, tears running down his face and said, "Come on Lukey... I don't wanna run no more. I wanna be someplace nice. I like it here."

It wasn't long and Joe's SUV was pulling in from the drive leading to the road. Jim and Zac got out, as well as Joe. "What's up, boys?" Jim asked as he noticed Luke and the twins. "Who, may I ask are these three?"

Luke started telling his story, again. After he had told it, Zac looked at him, "OK, here is what we need to do… first, my father-in-law, Jim and Joe's stepfather, is the Sheriff. I will have him speak to your dad. We need to get his version of the tale and see if he is willing to sign over his parental rights. With what you told us, I don't believe that will be a problem."

"I think he will," Luke agreed.

"Then, we need to get you and the boys registered with the State so you can be a resident of the Home, legally."

"My brothers, too?" Luke asked.

Joe gave Luke a smile, "The Home was meant to be primarily for teenagers right now, but…" Luke looked hopeful. "… under the circumstances, I think we can allow the boys to stay, too."

"Each room has two twin-size beds. I think we can make one a bunk bed so that you three can stay in one room," Jim offered.

"Seriously?" Luke looked relieved and started to cry.

Zac stated, "We'll go back and get everything started. Do you want to go back with us?"

"Can they stay out here with us?" Roger asked.

"If that is what they want," Jim answered, "but Nick will probably be out to talk to them today." Jim looked at Luke, "Nick is the Sheriff."

"Aunt Sallie will need to talk with you, also," Zac added. "She's the one in charge of all the Homes."

"But we can stay out here with these boys?" Luke inquired.

"We'll call you on the radio before we come out." Joe informed them.

Luke looked down, "Thank you. I was so worried that the twins would be separated."

Jim, Zac and Joe climbed into the SUV and headed back to the office. As Joe drove, Jim called Aunt Sallie while Zac called Nick. They explained the situation to both of them, along with the plan they had worked out.

Fencing Separator

Everyone was reluctant to go swimming, but it wasn't because they were worried about being naked with three additional boys. Trevor suggested that they wait until after Nick and Aunt Sallie had talked with Luke and the boys. He also thought it would be a good chance to talk and let everyone get to know each other.

As they sat on the ground, Matthew sat to the right of Jake and Mark sat on his left. Mark whispered, "I'm glad that big boy apologized. I think you're cute."

"Daddy, Papa and Grandma always say that I am. And Xander is alright, he looks out for me, usually," Jake stated. Roger looked over at Jake chatting and winked. Jake just smiled back at him.

"Well, I'm glad that he apologized to you," Matthew stated. "Mark is right, you are cute."

While waiting, the boys chatted and Luke gave them more details of what happened. Xander stood up and yelled, "What a big dick!"

Not taking his eyes off Jake, Mark responded, "Luke, pull your pants up."

"My pants are up, I was telling them more about when I was kicked out and you two joined me," Luke chuckled.

Matthew returned, "Oh, he was referring to that big asshole. I thought maybe you had your pants down, too."

Nearly an hour later, the radio crackled, "Boys, Sheriff Archer and Aunt Sallie are on their way. I hope you are dressed."

Patrick picked up the radio and keyed it, "Thanks Papa, we are. Trevor suggested that we wait to swim."

"Finally," Trevor commented. "While they are here, Roger and I will start preparing lunch and then we can go swimming after we eat."

Fencing Separator

Sheriff Archer pulled in, then he and Aunt Sallie got out. Nick asked Luke if he could talk to him in private while Aunt Sallie took the twins aside to talk with them.

Nick took Luke inside the cabin. Once alone, he stated, "I've spoken to your father and he claimed that all he told you was he wasn't about to let a homosexual live in his house. You chose to leave, stating that you were going to live with your Aunt Ruth."

"THAT FUCKING LIAR!!!" Luke shouted. "He told me to get out of his house and to never step foot in it again, I was no longer his son." Luke began to cry.

"Just calm down, I promise, I will know the truth before I am done," Nick stated. "He also claimed that you told your brothers to go with you, that they wouldn't be welcome in that house."

"He's lying," Luke stated. "That man told them that…"

Nick cut him off, "I know what you told Zac and them, I'm just telling you what he said. I want you to know, I believe you, not him, but I must go on more than just your word against his. One of the reasons I believe you is, he tried to say that preachers don't lie. I want you to tell me everything that happened the night you left the house. Don't leave out any detail. Then I will talk with your brothers. I believe they will tell me the same thing, but I need to hear it from them."

Luke told Nick everything that he could and when he was finished, he asked, "What happens, now?"

Nick grinned, "I told you one of the reasons that I believe you was because of what he said. I didn't tell you that he did agree to turn his parental rights of you over to the State. If he was any kind of a father, I don't believe that he would."

"What about my brothers?" Luke questioned. "I don't care what happens to me, so much, but I do care about them."

"I know you do," Nick answered. "At first, he refused to give up his rights for them. I reminded him that you boys were out of his house for two months and no one reported you or them as missing, another reason, I believe him to be lying. I stated that I would conduct a thorough investigation, and should I find out that he did kick them out as well, I would be filing criminal charges against him."

"So, what's going to happen?"

"Lucas James, as of ten minutes ago, you have become a ward of the State. The State has agreed to place you at Another Chance Boys' Home. Until this investigation is over, Matthew and Mark will remain in the custody of the county. Aunt Sallie has agreed that they may stay at the Another Chance Boys' Home until I have concluded my investigation."

Luke hugged Nick, tightly and cried, "Thank you."

Nick led Luke back out and asked to see the twins. Mark ran up to Luke and hugged him. He asked, "What should we say?"

"Just be honest and tell the Sheriff everything that you remember. I trust him, and you guys trust me, so..." Luke advised. Nick smiled at Luke.

Once in the cabin, Nick asked, "Who would like to go first?"

Mark volunteered, "Dad was bad-mouthing Xander saying he got what he deserved and Luke defended Xander saying he didn't choose to be gay. Dad got really mad and asked if Luke was gay."

"Luke admitted that he was," Matthew continued, "and Dad told him to get out of his house. It was the first time that I ever heard Dad curse."

Mark went on, "Then he told us that if we planned to be gay, we might as well leave, too."

"OK, this is important," Nick stated, "I need to hear you tell me, word for word what your dad said. Even if it's bad words, I need to hear them."

Mark offered, "Dad looked at me and said, 'if you two even think about doing anything faggish, it would be better if we got out of the fucking house now, or he would use his belt on our bare asses until we bled, when he caught us.'" Mark started to tremble and cry.

Nick put his arms around the boys and thanked them. "That's all I need from you boys. That's exactly what Luke said that he told you. I will be talking to Aunt Sallie, but I am sure you won't have to worry anymore."

They stepped out of the cabin and Nick looked at Aunt Sallie, "Would you like to accompany me as I return to 'big bad Preacher James's' house? You may want to get anything that the boys would like retrieved. And I would like someone to go with me when I arrest him, so I don't do what I really want to do." Nick noticed Luke had a small grin, as if relieved.

Matthew asked, "Can you get Mark's and my hippo? It farts when you squeeze its belly."Farting Hippo

Aunt Sallie looked at Matthew and replied, "I'll leave it with Joe, tonight. Anything else?"

Looking sad, Luke requested, "By my bed is a picture of our mother. She died giving birth to the twins. Can you grab it, too?"

Aunt Sallie offered Luke a hug and averred, "I'll get it for you."

Fencing Separator

Once Nick and Aunt Sallie left, Trevor called out, "Hotdogs are ready!" Then he placed them on the picnic table. Luke and the twins were just standing there so Trevor called out, "Come on, I fixed two for you and have two cold ones for each of the twins. You are now a part of our family, and you can ask any of the guys, I look out for my family!"

Luke put his arms around Trevor and said, "Thank you. Thank all of you. You don't know what this means to us, what pressure I feel has been lifted."

Trevor responded, "You're right, I don't know, I can only imagine how you are feeling. Before we leave, let me get you one of my cards. You can call me for anything, even to just talk."

Once everyone had a couple of hotdogs, some chips and a beverage, they found a place on the ground to sit and eat. Tim, Xander and Luke sat together on a log and talked about the high school. Tim lamented when Xander explained that the Home does schooling at the ranch.

Jake looked at Mark and asked, "Can I taste your hotdog? I've never had a cold one before."

Mark looked at Jake and countered, "Only if I can kiss you. I think you're cute."

Jake blushed and smiled. He picked up one of Mark's hotdogs and took a bite. After he swallowed, he said, "That's good."

Mark gave Jake a kiss on the lips, and Matthew asked, "Would you like to try a bite of mine, too?"

After everyone was done eating, and the trash was gathered, Jake asked, "Can we go swimming, now, or do we have to wait thirty minutes?"

"We don't have any swimsuits," Luke mentioned. "When it was just us, we didn't worry about it."

Xander chuckled and asked, "Jake, care to explain?"

Jake said, "We are all boys, so we don't have to wear anything."

"None of us brought swimsuits," Patrick added. "We do keep some in the cabin for when they are needed, but after almost a year, they have yet to be worn."

"Can we, Luke?" Mark pleaded. "We are all just boys."

Luke smiled at Mark, "You are one of my two favorite brothers. If they don't have a problem with it, neither do I."

"You only have two brothers," Matthew declared.

"And you both are my favorite," Luke chuckled. "You know, I love you both."

With that, all the boys stripped to their birthday suits and ran into the water. Jake, Mark and Matthew walked in hand-in-hand with Jake in the middle.

Fencing Separator

Nick, Aunt Sallie and three deputies pulled up at Reverend John James's house. Nick knocked on the door, "Open up, this is the Sheriff!" he called out.

Reverend James opened the door with a shotgun in his hand, "Off my property! I'm not afraid to use this."

Nick looked him in the eye, "I suggest that you put that shotgun down. You even aim it at someone and my deputies will put you down so fast." One deputy had a rifle aimed at Reverend James, the others had their pistols drawn. "You won't even get a shot off."

Reluctantly, big bad Preacher John James started putting the shotgun down. Nick grabbed it, emptied it and then handed it to one of the deputies. "I seriously was hoping you did something stupid. Reverend James, or do you prefer Big Bad Preacher James, I have a warrant for your arrest for three counts of child endangering. You have the right to remain silent…" Nick finished reading his rights as he cuffed the man. James tried fighting being cuffed, so Nick punched him in the side. "Now, this lady is going to go in, grab the Twins' hippo and a picture from Luke's room. Be a good boy and tell which rooms are theirs."

James told her which rooms and then snarled at Aunt Sallie, "Tell those faggots that when I get home, anything not mine is going out in the trash. And tell Luke that I expect his key to the house back."

"We'll be sure to bring the boys by to get what they want," Nick promised. "Deputy, take this thing and put it in the back of your car. He disgusts me."

As Nick and Aunt Sallie headed back to the ranch, Sallie accidentally squeezed the hippo. Cracking up, Nick exclaimed, "From such a lady!?!"

"It wasn't me, it was the hippo," Aunt Sallie cackled. Then, every so often, she squeezed it. "I need to get some of these for the homes. I can just imagine a new child comes in, hand them the hippo to hug and then it farts."

Laughing, Nick declared, "I want to get one for Heather."

"So you can play with it?" Aunt Sallie teased.

"Don't tell me that you won't play with one of the hippos you're getting for the Home." Nick quipped.

Fencing Separator

Back at the ranch, Nick and Sallie were talking with Joe, Zac and Jim. They conveyed what had happened and what was said. Joe stated, "The boys planned to camp until Sunday. What's the earliest he'll get out?"

"Well, he won't see a judge until Monday. They are booked solid tomorrow," Nick stated.

Jim inquired, "Then, is it possible for them to go Sunday?"

"I can arrange that," Nick stated.

"Great, and I'll take my SUV so we have more room to put things."

"And Zac and I can both drive either one of our trucks or the ranch SUV. And maybe we can get Xander to drive a vehicle so we can get it in one trip."

Jim called on the radio to announce that Nick and Sallie were coming out to talk with Luke and the twins, but no one answered. He tried a few more times…

Aunt Sallie suggested, "They're probably swimming. I don't need to go out. I'm sure Sheriff Archer can handle it without me. I'll be here Sunday to help, too."

"Yeah, just before I get to the lake, I'll flip on my flashing lights and act like they are in trouble," Nick said with an evil grin.

"For moooooning the cattle?"

Fencing Separator

After the boys finished their swimming and were 'air-drying' their lithe naked bodies, Roger's stomach started rumbling. Trevor chuckling, asked, "Is someone hungry?"

"Babe, knowing this group, everyone is probably hungry."

"Well, why don't we start getting dinner made. I'll get the fire started on the grill, you go see what everyone wants. We have hamburgers, hot dogs, and bratwurst."

Trevor started setting up the grill as Roger went from boy to boy asking what they wanted for dinner. When he got to Jake and the twins, Matthew asked, "What's a bratwurst?"

"It's like a German hot dog. It's bigger than a hot dog." Roger explained.

"I dunno, I never had one. I guess I'll just have a hamburger. If I'm still hungry can I have something else too?" Mark asked, eliciting agreement from both Matthew and Jake.

"Why don't I have Trevor make a bratwurst and the three of you can share it to see if you like them?"

"Yeah, that would be cool. I wouldn't mind taking a bite of Jake… I mean Jake's." Matthew joked.

Once Roger had everyone's order, he and Nigel got all the meat that Trevor was going to cook from the coolers.

Trevor was working the grill like a professional and was putting out the food at a good rate when Vince stopped by.

"Looks like you guys have a good system going. Those bratwursts smell really good." Vince stated.

"Would you like one? We have plenty," Trevor offered.

Not wanting to offend Trevor, Vince replied, "Sure, I'll have one. I know it won't spoil my dinner!"

Trevor served him up a brat and told him where the condiments, chips and drinks were. Vince thanked him and headed off.

As he was passing Luke, he stopped for a moment. "Hi. You must be Luke. I just wanted to introduce myself. I'm Vince. Zac's dad. I run security at the ranch. I just wanted you to know that you're safe here, but if you have any problems, just let us know. We're here to make sure you guys are all safe."

Slightly nervous, and slightly embarrassed at standing there in front of the man naked, Luke replied, "Uh… thanks, I guess."

Xander, who was sitting with Tim, Luke, and Alex Sprayberry said, "He's cool, Luke. You don't have to worry about him at all. And you should see the 'Stang he rebuilt for Patrick. Vince, you ever want a hand with that race car, let me know."

"I may take you up on that," Vince grinned, then went on to fix up his bratwurst.

As the boys ate, there were several conversations going on. Tim was relating, "I was thinking, before I met you guys, I only knew one person named Alex. Now, I know three; you two, even though you go by Xander instead of Alexander or Alex. My dad is also Alexander but he, like you, 'Little Alex,' he uses the shortened version of the name."

Alex turned to Nigel who was smiling, "I kind of like that… 'Little Alex.' After all I am the smallest Alex around here." Nigel leaned over and kissed Alex's cheek and said with a wink, "But as everyone could see, you're not all that little." That caused his boyfriend to blush slightly.

Matthew, Mark, and Jake were sitting enjoying their hamburgers. Mark took the bratwurst that they were going to share and took a bite. "Hey! This is good!" His brother then tried a bite, followed by Jake. Having finished their hamburgers, they went to the grill to ask if Trevor could make them each one.

Everyone fed, all sixteen boys chipped in to clean up from their dinner. Vince had stopped by to let Trevor know that he truly enjoyed the bratwurst before he left. Luke said, "Thank you, Vince, for coming out here."

During the cleanup, Sheriff Archer stopped by to let Luke know about what had happened at his old home. Luke wasn't really surprised at what Nick had told him. Nick further explained, "The photo and the hippo had been left with Joe in the Home's office. And we were thinking; Sunday, when you're done camping, we can go get anything you want from the house. Your dad will go before a judge on Monday, and hopefully get some jail time, or he may be let out."

Luke thanked Nick who went off to find Matthew and Mark. "You boys… that hippo was really cute and funny. I am going to buy one for my wife, she'll get a real kick out of it."

"Thank you for getting him for us. We really like him too. At least his farts don't stink like Luke's… his really smell sometimes." Mark averred, wrinkling his nose.

"Hey, at least when I fart, it's just me, but you two are so identical, you even fart at the same time. It's like having a fart in stereo. Talk about double trouble."

"Do we have any beans?" Matthew asked.

Roger offered, "We can get some."

"Ohhhh no," Luke warned. "Give these two beans and they'll smell them clear at the ranch."

Nick, chuckling, wished all the boys a nice evening, got into his car and left.

Gate Separator

It was nearly 7:00 pm and everyone was kicking back and relaxing after a full day.

"I'll be right back, Babe. I need to take a pee." Trevor whispered before getting up. As Trevor was taking care of 'business' Roger's phone rang. Looking at the Caller-ID he was surprised to see that it was from his dad. Roger spoke on his phone for several minutes, Patrick noticing his facial expression. Roger was obviously puzzled.

Trevor returned and waited for Roger to finish. Closing his phone and putting it down, he turned to Trevor. "I have twin brothers now. I think."

Not sure what to think, Trevor turned to Roger and asked, "Don't you mean we have twin brothers now?"

Cleanup finished, all the boys started pairing off to relax for a few hours before going to bed. Tim and Xander invited Luke to spend the night with them. They didn't want Luke to feel left out and it wasn't like they planned anything amongst all these boys.

Being that Trevor and Roger were they only married couple, Patrick suggested that they sleep in the cabin, IF they wanted to do anything. Trevor declined the cabin, but took Roger's hand before they joined two sleeping bags.

Patrick and Scott joined their sleeping bags, kissed, then climbed in. Patrick whispered, "I love you more and more each day." Scott just smiled before giving Patrick another long passionate kiss.

Jake and the twins used two sleeping bags zipped together. The twins insisted that Jake sleep in the middle. Alex and Nigel found a spot where they would sleep.

In the warmth of their shared sleeping bag, Alex tightened his grip on his boyfriend. Nigel, enjoying the cuddling they were sharing, was thinking about his life, now that he and Alex had been adopted. It had been a whirlwind of activity.

Coming to Cody was supposed to be a vacation. Imagine his surprise when he found out that not only was he getting adopted, but so was Alex. Finding out that they would be living literally across the driveway from one another was better than anything.

Alex, nibbling on Nigel's ear whispered, "Can you believe how our lives have changed? A year ago, I was nothing but a bully. Now, I'm here, with you, my boyfriend. Sometimes I feel like it's a dream; if it is, I never want to wake up."

Nigel rolled over inside the bag, their naked erections rubbing against the other, and kissed Alex deeply. Nothing more than that happened before they fell asleep holding each other, contently.

Eric and Phoenix, like the other couples, zipped their sleeping bags together. Crawling inside, they cuddled with Phoenix behind Eric. Eric stated, "I like this, I feel so safe with your arm around me. And I know that you won't try anything until I am ready."

"I care too much about you, Babe, to do anything to ruin that," Phoenix declared. "I love you." Then he kissed the side of Eric's neck.

Austin and Patrick Henry laid their sleeping bags together. Unlike the couples, they didn't join them. Patrick H looked at Austin and chuckled, "Do you realize that we are a minority here? I'm just glad none of these boys are heterophobic."

Austin laughed, "Yea, we are. I love my cousin a lot, I mean, to me, he is the greatest, but I don't know how he can kiss another guy."

"He could say the same about you kissing a girl," Patrick pointed out.

"True," Austin agreed, "as long as Zac makes him happy, I'm happy for him."

"And that's all that matters," Patrick declared. "It's like Patrick proved to be a true friend when I needed it the most. It doesn't matter whether he loves Scott or some girl. I'm happy that he's found someone."

"Agreed, good night."

Palomino Separator

I hope you enjoy the story and that it draws you in, wanting more. If you have any suggestions or concerns, don’t hesitate to email me.  Thoughts and suggestions are always welcomed and may or may not be implemented. Concerns will be considered and addressed as much as possible.

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