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R. Eric

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About R. Eric

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    Charleston, South Carolina
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    I write...A lot.

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  1. Chapter 27

    Gee. I never would have thought of that. (Yes, that was sarcastically written.) That's why Eric brings it up! I love you, Buddy!
  2. Chapter 27

    I smiled as I hung up with Drew shaking my head and put my phone down. “He’s helping us.” Peter said from the couch across the room. It wasn’t a question. “He is.” I got up and walked over and sat beside him. “Drew is looking forward to tormenting Wayne with us coming.” Without thought, I ran my hand over the inside of Peter’s leg. I really wasn’t doing it for any conscious reason really. “I don’t do that to you, do I?” Peter grinned. “You do all the time. You’re doing it now.” He took my hand raising it to his crotch to feel his growing erection and then he leaned in kissing me gently. I chuckled. “I come through, don’t I? I put you out of any misery.” Peter nodded as his lips went its familiar path to my jaw and down to my neck as he wrapped his arms around me. “So, put me out of misery now.” “With pleasure.” I said unbuttoning his shirt and my hands went over his chest pulling him closer. “I love you, Eric.” “I know. I love you, Peter.” “Do you?” Peter whispered. “Show me.” He said forcing us back as he rose to better give us access to touch. I did show him and he showed me. Twice! I loved this man!! Queen Alla returned from her medical trip, arranging for some doctors to come to help immunize the children of Makarovia and general checkups of the population. We had doctors in Makarovia, but they needed help. That was going change, too. There were plans for a new medical facility and hospital to be built in Makarovia. Olek was…happy! He and Peter had been poring over maps the past few days deciding where these generators were going. I was gathering the photos, journals, diaries and written testimonies of the people of Makarovia to take to London. We were heading back to the United States in three weeks. I now understood more when they said: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was Makarovia. Just like Peter did occasionally, I felt the need to see him. Nothing needed, but to see him. I came in and smiled at the two again, nearly huddled together as the discussed the maps and what was to go where. “…but we need the infrastructure in place.” Peter was saying. “The housing is necessary, but how are they getting to and from work? The new medical facilities have to be accessible no matter the weather. The roads will be redeveloped and as we do that, the new heating elements need to be in place to keep them free of snow and ice, but that should be done before other construction begins. We need to plan for the run off for that as well as in drainage and run off to the river or somewhere.” “We’ll have come up with a plan for the development.” Olek said simply. “And we’ll soon have traffic!” I said smiling causing both to look up. Olek smiling. “We didn’t have that many people here before. More people, more cars will be needed and roads! Traffic! Yea!” I nodded. “And with that will be car dealerships for Ford, Toyotas, gas stations, cops to write tickets…” Olek practically bounced. “I look forward to it.” “Fast food, supermarkets…” I added. “And that’s just to go and get supplies! A mall!?” Olek chuckled. “Yes!” He motioned for me to come over to them. “See what else my brilliant brother thought of doing.” Peter grinned. “Olek.” He blushed from the praise as he took my hand as I got closer. “This will take a couple of years, but…” he pointed at the map, “this is done in many countries that are extremely cold like we are at times. I was thinking we’re adding those thermal precautions to the roads, but a group of underground tunnels need to be added. It was a way so that people could get around when it snows as heavy as it does. There is the heavy snow and ice that comes. We have a few already in Stryia, but they can be improved and heated now! I even thought of creating a huge recreational facility like they have in Iceland, Canada and other countries with pools, rides for the people to enjoy during the coldest days. The mall you mentioned; I was thinking sort of construction like the Mall of America or the big one in Edmonton, Alberta.” He chuckled. “We could have a Burger King in there as well as other eateries and things!” Olek nodded. “We’ll have the money. It will just take time.” “Are there any tunnels coming to the palace now?” I asked. Olek shook his head. “Because of a fear of a security breech, no. There are some that lead up in the direction of the palace, but none directly.” Peter smiled at me. “This will take a couple of years, but we’re going forward with it.” “And our first paycheck is coming in a few weeks!” Olek said happily. “The first uranium ore goes out this week.” I nodded. “We can’t pulp it here yet. We need grinders and crushers to do that.” Olek’s smile grew. “No, we don’t do it here for now…we’re going to in the future. You know about the pulp?” “I do.” I answered. “When not going through the archives, I study uranium mining and processing. You asked me to in charge of safety…that covers more than just the mining. That includes future processing. I know the process for making the yellowcake made with acid, alkaline or peroxide.” I watched as Olek’s eyes grew, but I continued. “I’m learning the difference with the enriched uranium U-235. With these smaller reactors, we would use the higher enriched, meaning the rods that are 90% enriched with the U-235? Or are we using just the 20% U-235?” Peter’s face almost split, he was smiling so big and shoved Olek lightly. “See!? He can do it!” Olek shook his head. “I have no idea which percentage will be used. We just decided on the smaller reactors.” He nodded smiling. “You gave me a job to do.” I explained. “I’m preparing to do it!” I chuckled. “Or course, I was handling the mining part, but the processing part will be a part of my job. Are these generators using rods with the pressurized heavy-water or the natural enriched uranium? I’m still trying to learn about those. The UO2, or pitchblende is used for the rods.” I said. Olek came over and grabbed my shoulders. “I asked you just about a month ago if you would do it!?” “Imagine what he’ll know in six of seven years!” Peter chuckled. Olek grinned. “Just promise me, you’ll always be on our side. Particularly on my side.” I hugged him quickly. “Count on it. I still think the recycled rods are big possibility.” I looked firmly. “I’m still learning, but know this…my first concern with anything with this is safety. Being green is second. Makarovians is what’s important. They are Makarovia! Can I say, whoever builds these reactors and mines…they need to go above and beyond any safety precautions they have. I mean beyond! Even if it costs more money to do in the beginning. Can I say, if they skimp on something and I find out they’ve endanger our people…any replacing or repair will be covered by these builders? It will be done.” “Yes! Absolutely!” Olek nodded. “I really love Makarovia.” I smiled. “I believe when you say winters are hard. I will experience them in the future for myself.” I looked at Peter. “You know it’s going to change.” Peter looked a little bothered by what I said. “Yea, I know.” “You were bothered by the planes going overhead.” I said quietly. “How will you feel seeing an overpass in Stryia?” I put my hand on my chest. “I love Stryia the way it is. I don’t necessarily want to look out over the township and see the golden arches for McDonalds. I know you have plans for that, Olek.” Olek nodded. “Some tentative ones, but feel free to suggest your ideas. Your input is wanted!” “I just hope you have plans to keep what’s been for hundreds of years…still to keep it here.” I said. “Things change. That’s life, but Stryia and Makarovia as a whole…I’m not in charge, but some things need to be protected and preserved.” “We will be.” Olek nodded. “Stryia will expand. People will be moving here.” “The demands for housing will increase.” I said. “There will be apartments that will go up.” Peter grinned. “Multi-family housing and…parking lots, building of steel and glass.” I touched Peter’s hand. “Are you okay with these changes?” Peter shrugged. “Like you said, things change. If it’s for the better…I’m good.” “We’ll make sure it is for the better.” Olek was happy! He walked around the desk again. “We can start with the tunnels we have. This again, is going to take some time. Once the money starts coming in, we can really start this coming spring. The roads need updating and that heat elements put in. There will be more vehicles now.” “Mostly in Skoal for now.” Peter pointed out. “We can start the tunnel renovations there.” Peter looked at me. “We have tunnels there, too.” “It sounds like a lot of urban development will be in Skoal.” I said. “That’s right.” Olek nodded as he looked at the maps. “We now have almost three million people in Makarovia.” He said brightly. “Three million!!” “Wow.” I said. “And it probably double in the next five years.” Peter sighed. “We just need to be prepared.” He grinned. “You know Makarovians are always prepared.” I nodded. “Prepare of die. You told me that. I wondered how people here got to work in the winter before. There are tunnels in Skoal, so that’s there already?” “Limited, but we’re way ahead of you there, brother.” Olek said. “General Burke and General Hammond are already started the new tunnels there when we began building; sort of semi-sunk tunnels that haven’t been buried yet. They look like those,” he used a word I didn’t know, it happens! “that make those tunnels that leaves a trail of raised dirt on the surface?” I repeated the word Olek used and said, “are they moles? Or gophers?” I asked the words in English then went back to Makarovian. “The near blind ones?” Hey, there wasn’t much call for the name of that particular critter to learn. Olek nodded. “Yes, moles!” He used the word again. “They will have those in place before winter hits this year.” He shrugged. “They will be in place by the time the new houses are finished.” “The existing tunnels don’t go everywhere needed.” Peter pointed out and looked at me. “There are…entrances at certain places around town, but when it snows like it can…getting to the entrances is challenge.” “But it’s not that bad all winter long, is it?” I asked. “No.” Olek said. “The snows come, but it doesn’t go away after it does snow. It doesn’t melt. If the clearing crews don’t get to it…that can be a problem.” I smiled. “Of course, we’ll have the power soon.” I growled. I had mentioned the golden arches. “Suddenly, I want a Big Mac.” I could remember the taste and now wanted it. Peter shook his head and chuckled. “I prefer those Double Whoppers from Burger King we had in Boston.” “No, I like those Triples from Wendy’s.” Olek said. Both Peter’s and my expressions have shown surprise. “Don’t look surprised, I’ve had fast food!” “Do they even have hamburgers in Makarovia?” I asked. “Sure!” Olek chuckled. “And French Fries with ketchup!” “Onion rings? I asked. Olek shook his head. “I’m sure they can make them if we ask.” I nodded. “Now, I’m hungry!” Olek nodded. “It’s past lunch soon. Let’s ask for this!” Queen Alla walked past the dining room a few hours later as the three of us were enjoying our hamburgers, fries and onion rings. She backed up and came in the dining room. “That looks very nutritious.” She said smirking. We weren’t really eating like we normally do. This time, elbows were on the table as we sort of slouched over our plates and yes…I got my onion rings!! We were enjoying ourselves! “It is, Mom.” Peter said smiling as he had to wipe his mouth to keep the juice from spilling. “It’s good for the soul.” He looked up at her. “They can make you one!” He held up his hamburger. “That’s okay, I’ll wait for dinner.” Queen Alla smiled patting her son’s shoulder, not bothered at all. “Building a kingdom is hard work.” Olek said as he munched. I nodded in agreement. “We need fuel!” Olek grinned. “I won’t be at dinner tonight, by the way.” Peter smiled. “Helga?” Olek nodded. “Yes.” “I have got to meet this Helga.” Mom said. “You’ll like her.” Olek said confidently. “What about you, Mom?” I asked her. I was more comfortable with calling her that now. “Yes.” Peter said looking at her. “You need someone.” She gave a sly smile. “All my sons have someone and now you worry about me? My son by my marriage, Olek is now dating. My son Peter is engaged to my future son Eric and now you think of me. That’s so nice…” She said, but the sarcasm was clearly heard, “but who says I’m not?” Peter’s eyes grew and turned quickly. “Who? When!?” She gave a slight nod and another sly smile. “I’ll let you know…one day.” She leaned in. “I will say this; how do you think I got that island for your vacation last month?” She said and walked off. Peter turned back around slowly. “She never mentions anyone.” Olek nodded. “She’s very private about her life…her personal life.” He smiled. “That’s good she’s dating someone. She has been alone since Dad died. I’m glad she’s got someone.” Peter looked at Olek surprised. “But you don’t know who that guy is?” Olek shook his head, but smiled knowingly at Peter. “No, but Alla is not stupid. She isn’t some young girl someone would take easily advantage of.” He chuckled lightly. “She just didn’t tell anyone.” “But we don’t know anything about this man.” Peter objected. Olek reached over and placed a hand on Peter’s. “Reason it out. We had access to an island that wasn’t inexpensive. She got it last minute. He must be a wealthy man, probably Italian.” He squeezed his brother’s hand. “We didn’t know about Eric until you showed up with him.” He waved at me. “He’s been a great addition to the family.” He reached with his other free hand and grabbed mine. “Vows or not, you are family.” He pulled up my left hand and touched the ring there. “More so than even this ring tells.” He looked back a Peter. “Trust your mother.” He leaned in. “Be sure where this is coming from. She loved Dad.” He said directly to Peter. “Never doubt that. She loved our father. Because of that marriage, she gave me a brother. She’s not being disloyal to Dad. She’s not cheating on him.” I nodded. “It’s difficult to realize a parent is just human.” I looked at Peter. “Mom dated a few times after my father died. That was a difficult thing to accept.” Peter nodded and sighed bringing his hamburger up to take another bite. “You’re right.” He shrugged. Olek smiled. “You’re just being protective. She’s your mother. She’s family.” “Like we are with you!” I said smiling at Olek. “Like I do with you.” Olek smiled more and nodded with a light chuckle. “I like that you are.” “Helga knows she’s coming here to be with you, right?” I asked. “I hope so.” Olek said now not as certain. “You know me; I don’t leave anything to be just understood.” I said firmly. “Make sure she knows that she’s not here to discuss reactors or construction or anything Makarovian. You brought her here to get to know her and she to get to know you. I had trouble with Peter…” “What!?” Peter shot at me and sat back suddenly. “You did not!” “Oh, yes I did!” I said smiling at Peter. “In the beginning you were driving me crazy! That night…when we had our first kiss…I was tired of it, so I told you how I felt, that’s when we had our first kiss. I laid it all for you.” Peter looked away turning a little pink. “Well, I didn’t know how to approach you…” I nodded, but looked at Olek. “Be sure she knows. Don’t assume she does. Tell her what you hope for having her here. I was overwhelmed with the fact Peter is a prince. She may have issues with you being a king. In fact, I’m sure she will. Make sure she knows she has some control and has a way out if she needs.” I saw Olek’s eyes grow when I said that last part. “Olek. You’re an amazing man. Handsome as HELL and cultured and the prefect catch. Make sure, that catch can be hers, if she’s interested. I know she will be.” Olek shrugged a nod. “I can do that.” He shook his head. “Where do you come up with this stuff?” I chuckled. “The Ukraine! This is how Grandma got to be known for being outspoken. She said, as well as she knew Granddad, she never assumed he just knew what was going on. She said most times he did, but occasionally, he didn’t. It is her rule I use with us, Peter.” I smiled. “She believed in total, blunt and near brutal honesty. Even if it hurt. That’s why she never accepted the evasions or hedging around things. Even if you don’t know what or have words to tell how you feel, just say that. And feelings, she was big on those…claiming that the honesty reduced resentment later.” I smiled at Peter. “You don’t regret anything with us, do you?” Peter shook his head with his light laugh. “Not a one.” “So, what do you feel knowing about Mom?” I asked. “Surprised and…unprepared.” Peter conceded. “And yes, the thought of her seeing someone else, I was feeling like she is stepping out on Dad.” He bit into the hamburger and chewed, but he was chewing more than ground beef, he was chewing on the idea. I nodded. “There you go.” I said. “That’s honest.” “That’s stupid.” Peter said quietly. “Remember about that,” I said. “Whether it’s wrong, right, justified, stupid or whatever the feeling is…you have a feeling. It’s there, now we just…deal with it.” I smiled at Peter and then looked at Olek. “Just like I’m dealing with losing you.” Olek’s eyes widened. “What!? You’re not losing me!” “Sure, I am.” I corrected. “Even Mom knew about Peter. She told me in Boston. She was losing that connection with her son. I was the more important one in Peter’s life, as his life partner and I am. She understood that. If things work out for you and Helga, which I hope it does…really, I do. She’ll become more important for you than we are. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.” I smiled. “It’s a hard adjustment. That’s all.” Olek smiled more understanding, but took both Peter’s and my hands. “You won’t lose me. I’m still here. If it Helga that agrees to be a part of us. She will be included, but you two are still way up there on priorities. You know that.” He shook his head. “We’re planning like it’s done. She may not even like me. Just don’t be hurrying me down any aisles!” “She will, Olek.” I grinned. Peter smiled. “Well, I hope it will be more than just recreational sex.” Olek sat back in mock offense. “Have I ever just had recreational sex?” Peter thought. “I don’t know, have you?” Now Olek was embarrassed. “Well, yes…I did…I was younger and well…” “We did, too, Peter.” I reminded. “Nothing wrong with it.” I grinned. “Though when we do it now…it’s so much better.” “And that’s what I’d like.” Olek said nodding. “I wasn’t kidding. I passed your door a couple of times and yes…” he gave an appreciative nod, “I did hear you and I was jealous. It got me thinking I needed to seriously move more in that direction.” “Sorry, Olek.” I said, but was smiling. “Why?” Olek asked. “From the sound of it, you two were having a good, good time!” Peter smiled at me. “Still.” Olek shook his head. “No, but I want it for me!” “That’s what we want for you, Olek.” I said. “If it is Helga, be sure she becomes your focus. Make sure her focus is you. I told everyone at the proposal, Peter was my priority.” I saw Peter smile more at that. “Everything else will fall into place. With you and Helga, it will be your relationship, if there is one. Keep that focus.” Olek nodded as his eyes widened. “I need to spend more time with Katrina Sams!” He grinned at us. “Keep reminding me.” “I will.” I said holding up the hamburger. “This is good. I mean if clearly isn’t like in America. The buns…the spices…are different, but it’s good!” “It’s kind of a combined recipe. Kind of a pyrizhky…combine with Romanian and Hungarian.” Olek said. “We are a combination of countries.” He raised what was left of his hamburger. “Naturally, this is combination hamburger.” “I can see it now.” I said proudly. “Marquis up everywhere for Makarovian Burgers! It could replace McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys!”
  3. Chapter 26

    There's a lot more coming, but the past is being addressed and the discomfort of some...Germans...is part of it. There is a lot of love in this, but I'll have to fast forward to get to it. I'll get to it. Trust me. I'm writing in the next chapter adding what you said. Just for YOU!!!
  4. Chapter 26

    Olek and Helga came in the family room. “Are things okay?” Olek asked looking as we were still standing. I looked at Georg. “Are they?” I asked Georg. Georg shook his head. “No, but it will be.” He smiled at me. “I…just need time.” “Sure.” Peter nodded. “You’ve got it.” As hard as what happened to Georg, he did listen and was willing to admit, he had been told a lie. Maybe. His aversion to Peter’s and my sexual activities had nothing to do with what he was taught about World War II, but simply ignorant straight male’s perceptions were at play here. He just had to get used to the idea. However, he was here! In Makarovia, where we were everywhere, he knew that and came anyway. He was willing to face it. You have to give him that. We did have a nice evening together and Olek was now engaging in conversations that included me, Peter and Georg. You could tell things were good between him and Helga. We parted with our guests as they rode down the elevator. “We need to get a new elevator.” Olek said out of nowhere, but was smiling. Peter chuckled. “We’ll put it on the list of things to have done.” I took Peter’s hand. “So, if we’re done, can we say good night?” I asked and was about to leave. Olek turned and looked exasperated. “Aren’t you even going to ask me about how it was for me?” I laughed. “We have eyes. We saw the results.” “We know it went well.” Peter nodded. I patted Peter’s arm and brought Olek between Peter and me as we walked back through the palace. “He wants to tell us, Peter, so, how was it for you, Olek?” Olek began beaming as we walked. “I really like her. She’s funny and smart.” I smiled as he told me this. “Oh, no.” I said to Peter. “He’s got that dreamy look. This is serious.” Peter nodded. “It is.” He looked at me. “Did I ever look that way?” I shrugged. Olek turned. “Guys! I really like her.” He grinned at Peter. “And, oh yes, you did have the look. I saw that in the hotel room that night.” He looked at me. “From you, too. That’s how I knew it was real between you two.” I hugged Olek. “I’m happy for you. Really. I want things to work out. What’s your next plan for her?” “You need to make a date with her.” Peter said. “This was nice, but…she should come over where it’s just the two of you.” I shook my head. “Why are you asking us!? You’re a grown man!” Olek looked a little embarrassed. “Yea, well I haven’t really been able to date. It’s been a while. There are a few nice restaurants in Stryia, but…” “Invite her here.” I said. “Our first date was the White House.” Peter’s eyes grew as he looked around Olek. “We went places!” “For pizza or to Walmart!” I shot back. “Our first official date was the White House!” Peter rolled his eyes at that. Olek chuckled. “So, I should invite her back to the palace.” He nodded. “And we’ll…just make ourselves scarce.” I said. “My hope in all this…is for you to find a companion. A friend that will help to make you happy. I can see what Helga’s done so far is doing that. You’re my only concern in this.” “Mine, too.” Peter said. “You deserve to be happy.” Olek grinned and nodded. “I appreciate the support.” We did that three-way, brotherly hug. “I love you two.” “We love you, Olek.” Peter said as I nodded. Olek smiled. “I know you do. That…means a lot to me.” The next day after we got up, Peter went back down to Olek’s office to further city plans and look over the sites to build the reactors. I went back to the archives. I looked over the inventory again to categorize all this listings and make sure they were where they were supposed to be. I had seen photos in the some of the envelops. There was another assortment of photos that were to be here. But I couldn’t find them according to where they were supposed to be. The truth was, I wanted photos of Milo and Bren. I wanted everything about Milo and Bren! Again, I saw Gretchen and asked her. She thought hard for a few minutes. “Henry Brown was very thorough.” Then she shrugged and smiled. “I know who to call.” As she was gone I looked at what I had. There were some photos, but none in the envelope for Milo or Bren. It was a good few minutes when Gretchen came back. “I know where it is.” She led me to another room, there were boxes and crates. “A man worked here named Fedir Hycha. He’s retired, but he remembered Henry and worked with him. He said Henry died before he got through all of it.” It took a few minutes as she looked. “Here it is.” She pointed at three boxes cardboard boxes. Getting them out, I gasped. There were photos and other things in the boxes. Diaries, journals, Star of Davids, military dog tags… “Is Fedir well?” I asked her. “Sure. He’s in his seventies, but sure.” “Can I call him?” I asked. She smiled. “I’ll give you the number and I’ll call for you now, if you want?” I smiled bigger. “That would be great. For both those things.” Once the call was made, I was surprised when the man answered. He did sound sharp. People age and it sounds in their voices, but his sounded simply…male. “Hello?” “Hello, Mr. Hycha. This is Eric Richards.” “The Earl of Stryia!?” The asked. “I’m honored for the call, My Lord.” Again, I inwardly groaned at the title, but I resolved to get used to it. I explained what I’d found and what I wanted to do. “All of Henry Brown’s findings…things given to him those months are there.” Fedir said. “Okay.” I said. “There is one couple I’m really looking for Milo Weir and Bren Schultz.” “Ah, yes. I knew Milo and Bren.” Fedir said. “You did!?” I felt sudden hope! “Sure. They came to Makarovia before I was born, but I grew up knowing them. They were a very nice couple.” “I am so anxious to find out more about those two. For some reason, they just…reach me.” “I know that Milo kept journals and diary. It’s there, too. When Bren died…Milo only last a year or so after that. I think because Milo couldn’t stand to be apart from Bren. I really believe that.” I was nodding, but he couldn’t see that. “I believe he did.” “There are pictures I know.” Fedir said. “Most of them are after they got here. There’s one or two that were before they fled Germany. I can help you, if you want.” I laughed. “If you were standing here, I’d kiss you!!” Fedir burst out laughing. “I’m afraid my husband might object…not to mention your future husband!” “I’ll send a car!” I said happily. “No need. I’m in Stryia. Just give me a few minutes.” It was the longest forty-five minutes I’d sat through. That’s when Gretchen came in with a man and…my eyebrows rose seeing him. I had hope for Peter seeing Fedir! This man was in his seventies!? Then again, so was my grandmother. He was a handsome man. He had silver hair, but he had hair…mostly. Why is it always the back of the head? He sharp brown eyes in a face that had the lines, but he was a fine looking person! I got up and held my hand out. “Before you greet me!” I said to the man. “I’m getting used to the title. Can you just call me Eric?” The man’s smile made some of the lines near his eyes increase, but it was a good smile taking my hand and shook it. “Of course, Eric.” Then he looked with an amused expression. “So, how are you getting used to the title if no one uses it?” I let out a grunt. “You’ve made a point.” “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Eric.” Fedir said with one of those slight European bows. “Do you want something to drink or eat?” I asked. “Maybe a little scotch?” Fedir asked with one eyebrow rising higher than the other. From his look, I was hesitant to simply grant his request. “Will I get in trouble if I do?” “You’re royalty and Kurt doesn’t need to know.” He grinned. “That’s my husband.” “He doesn’t want you to have a drink?” Fedir smiled. “He took what the doctor said too far. The doctor said to be careful and not drink that much. Now Kurt took that and pretty well cut me off.” He wasn’t upset about it, just bothered. I chuckled. “Maybe because he just wants to keep you around?” “That’s what Kurt says!” I patted Fedir on the arm. “I’ll get that drink.” I waved at Gretchen who was moving. “I’ll get it.” I said, preventing her from going for it. Then turned back to Fedir. “One.” I held up a single finger. “One.” I said again. Passing Gretchen, I nodded to her. “Thank you.” I had to go upstairs for the drink. Getting the drink, I came back downstairs and into the office where I saw Fedir had gone through the boxes and had things set aside. He looked up smiling at me as I handed him the single drink. He took and sipped the scotch with a slight audible swallow and a look of satisfaction and delight on his face. “Here you go.” Fedir said handing me another envelope and a stack of books. Leather bound mostly. “Pictures of Milo and Bren.” He touched the envelope. “Milo’s journals.” He looked at me. “Why them?” I smiled as I opened the envelope. “I fell in love with them.” I said simply. I looked up and sighed. “You know what happened to them? To Bren?” Fedir nodded. “I was here when Henry began going through what we got. Yes, I read it.” “Were they happy?” I asked hoping they had no problems here. Disagreements or anything like that. Fedir sat down. “Yes, they were happy in Makarovia.” He smiled sitting back and enjoyed more of his scotch. “They were a very devoted couple to each other.” I nodded. “When I read what they’d done…but that they got away and came here. Marrying and stayed together for thirty-two years! I had to find out more.” Fedir nodded and sat forward. “Like I said. I grew up here. I knew them as neighbors. They lived only a few houses down from me. I was about your age when Bren died and Milo just…quit living.” He sighed. “Everybody loved them. When I was working here and Henry was getting those things together…” “But they were dead before Henry got here.” Fedir nodded with a smile. “It was about five or six years after the end of the world war…most of the people that came here had…problems after what happened. We had a young man that wanted to help. He was a psychiatrist. So, he kept urging those that got here to do something about it. Talk about it, if for no other reason than to give them some peace! He was the one that gathered most of what you have here. Henry just organized what was gotten to relay it better. The tapes were made back then, too.” He shook his head. “Bren was quiet. He would retreat into this…quiet way and just sort of disconnect.” He smiled. “But Milo could get him out of those. He was the only one that could do that. They really did love each other.” I pulled out a larger photo of two men, in their mid-forties. One with dark hair and the other dark blondish. The bigger of the two was the blondish by a couple of inches. Standing with arms around each other’s backs as they smiled at the camera. “That one is Milo.” He said about the blondish one. “The other is Bren.” He took the envelope and pulled one he didn’t even have to hunt for. It was tattered and worn, but you could still see the images. “This was carried by Milo and protected for decades. I don’t know what beach it was, this was about two years before they were captured, so they were about eighteen.” I touched the image on the bigger one, and then took the other carefully. Two young men at the beach, in those swimsuits of the time, the higher ones that didn’t show belly buttons? The beauty of youth was there as Bren was on Milo’s back as they horsed around. The were both bare-chested showing the musculature of healthy men that age. Big smiles on both as they were having fun! “Oh.” I smiled at the image. “They are beautiful.” I said as I waved both pictures. “Here and here.” I didn’t mean to, but I felt the tear come to my eyes and I felt one drop onto my pants. Fedir smiled, put his drink down and got up, pulling me up and hugged me. “That’s good.” He said hugging me. “Cry for what happened to them.” That’s when Peter came in, saw me and froze. “What happened?” I handed him the photos. “This is Milo and Bren.” I said to Peter. Fedir looked at Peter, but didn’t let me go. “Your Highness.” Then he pulled me away a little. “Feel sorrow for what they suffered. It was horrible, but don’t let your mind stay in 1939! Know this…they were happy…here. They loved each other for thirty plus years. They had a victory! They were happy.” He said waving at the box. “All of them had victories. Mourne for those that didn’t make it here. There were nearly a hundred thousand that didn’t make it. A very small fraction made it out alive! Of those that made it out alive, these few not only lived. They all had victory. This could be about what they went through, but look at what happened after what happened. They came here and got married! They loved each other with no problems here. They were accepted here. They lived in a long happy marriage…here. They were happy…here! Hold on to that. Understand and hate what happened to Milo and Bren in 1939, but they were victorious…here! They were happy…HERE!! Do you understand?” I nodded. “You’re right. Theirs is a story of triumph.” I pulled Peter in. “Do you remember Fedir Hycha? He used to work here.” Peter grinned holding his hand out. “Of course!” He said with sudden recognition now that he heard what Fedir said to me. “How’s Kurt?” Fedir chuckled. “Fine, but will be mad at me when he smells the scotch on my breath.” He said taking his glass and swallowed what was left and enjoyed the taste. He shrugged. “But I can use my ways to get him to get him over that.” He waggled his eyebrows at me. “So, if I’m not needed anymore, I’ll go and deal with Kurt.” I grinned. “I’m going to do it, Fedir.” I pulled his face toward mine and yes, I did kiss him gently and hugged him. Not a kiss I gave to Peter, but it was a kiss. I smiled as Peter’s eyes grew. “Thank you.” I said to Fedir Fedir smiled. “As long as he was here when you did that.” He thumbed at Peter. “You’re welcome.” He grinned at Peter. “He’s a good kisser!” “Do I need to worry about any of this?” Peter asked as Fedir left. “There was David and now Fedir.” “What do you think?” I asked and pulled him in for a real kiss. Peter grinned. “No, you’re still mine.” He looked at the photos. “So, who is who in this?” I had made sure the tapes were sealed protected. Then I got on the phone again to Drew. The phone was answered quickly. “Eric!” Drew said jovially. “What do I owe the honor of the call?” “Drew!” I greeted. “My favorite roving reporter! I need your help.” “You got it if I can.” I told him about the testimonies, journals, tapes and what was in them. “Absolutely!” Drew said immediately. “You know I cover all that fay, far and fairy shit! And this sounds like a motherlode! Bring the tapes and photos. I’ll digitize all of it.” “Some of the photos are sort of tattered.” “Yes, and that’s why you need to bring them.” Drew said. “We have a lab here that can fix those photos and put the tapes on disc.” “I don’t want to use the BBC’s equipment unnecessarily.” “Okay, you’re still not getting it.” Drew said with an audible smirk in his voice. “What you tell me is in this stuff is news. You’re an Earl now! Get with it, Eric! You are royalty! You’re bringing us the story! We’ll gladly do it. Hell, those gig guys upstairs in those higher offices will be pulling their pants down and begging for you to give it to them!” I laughed, he was outspoken and he didn’t hold back. “Drew.” “I mean it!” Drew said. “Now is this exclusively Makarovian story wise?” “We were putting them on our website. It’s not exclusive anything. We want the world to know.” “Can I do a report on it?” Drew asked. “I have to ask. Reporters can be like a bunch of bitchy little girls when it comes to what and who reports what.” “Sure. Report.” I said. “We’ll be leaving Makarovia before the upcoming fall semester, so we can come the week before?” “Great!” Drew said immediately. “You two are welcome to stay with Wayne and me.” “That’s fine, I’d love to, but will you have room for our security?” “Oh, right.” Drew said sadly. “Well, you can come for dinner!” “We’ll be delighted!” “And I get to watch Wayne panic!” He said happily. “He’s damned fine cook, but will be fretting over the menu, the neatness of our house and all that. I can’t wait to tell him.” “You like to torture Wayne?” I asked, knowing the truth. “Nah, I just like to watch him panic occasionally. He’s fun to watch!” “Don’t terrorize him.” I chuckled. “We’re just good friends coming by.” I could see Drew nod in my mind and his voice took on a more serious, heartfelt tone. “We are good friends, Eric. You and Peter are doing something amazing. We look forward to seeing you two.”
  5. Chapter 31

    I went down to the holding cell to check on…our guests. We would leave soon and some decisions needed to be made. “Well?” I asked Lucian who pretty much had checked out mentally. Stared at nothing, read nothing and just…sat. “What do you want to do?” “I don’t care.” Lucian said sadly, but completely dejected. I got closer to the bars. “I see that. I wish things had been different. I think we could have been friends if things had been better.” I looked at the others in the cell with him. “They will go to a holding facility in the United States.” I looked at Lucian more carefully. “You can go with them…or…” “…or die.” Lucian said simply. “We can’t let you out the way you are.” I said. “A vampire out with no serum? Even if you just feed on cow’s blood.” “Iilya’s gone.” Lucian said so softly I would have missed it if we weren’t that close. “Nothing left now. Not even ash.” “Yes, he is gone.” I nodded. “I can’t tell you it will be alright and I can’t say I understand. I do know he was a huge part of your life for so long…I can’t advise you, but I hate for anyone to give up and die. I don’t want you to die. If you choose to die, that’s your decision. I will understand it, but…” “You’d be better off if I were.” I frowned. “Why do you say that?” “Iilya was…unlike anyone I’d ever known.” Lucian said and I saw him smile at a memory. A fond one. “He was a little crazy.” “I noticed.” If I was heartless, it wouldn’t matter the pain I saw in those dry eyes and I knew tears would be coming if he could produce them. “You’re smiling at something. Would you share it with me? Make me understand there was good in him.” Lucian looked at me and didn’t say anything at first, but then I saw his face change. It took on an almost pleading look. “He was coarse and he was…” he thought of the words, “thick in the head, sometimes. But when we were alone, he could be so…gentle and kind. Tender.” He laughed a little. “He was big. I mean he was tall and large…handsome…he wasn’t…bad, not really. There was good in Iilya at times.” He said in a pitiful voice. “He could get angry with me, he could yell and break things, but…he could also be loving, he would comfort me…he could be a very violent man.” He suddenly stressed to me, “but he never hit me! Never. That’s why I know he loved me.” Now, I did feel a little better about this. “You need to remember those times when he was loving and kind to you.” I smiled thinking about it. “You were together a long time.” Lucian nodded. “More than fifty years.” “You probably knew when he was tired or upset or just needed you. You could probably read him easily.” Lucian gave a nod. “I did. I could read him.” “Lucian, you two were married.” Lucian’s eyes grew. “What? No, we never…” “Did he know when you were upset? If you were in trouble, did you doubt he would be there?” Lucian shook his head. “No, he was there.” “You may not have done the aisle and vows part, but you two were definitely married.” I said simply. “Was he home with you when you weren’t hunting?” Lucian nodded again. “At first, I knew he was with me just to get to Dragon.” Then he laughed. “At first…but when it was plain it wasn’t going to work to get Iilya what he wanted…he never asked me to leave. He wanted me around.” I smiled. “He liked your company.” Lucian nodded. “He did. I liked his…when he was being nice or at least civil.” He shook his head and pounded lightly on his forehead. “They really messed him up.” He shouted angrily. “There were…things he…he was okay with giving me love…but he…it was hard for him to take it from me, but he would. You know what I’m talking about?” I nodded. “Sure, Colin and I both do that, the giving and receiving. Why are you telling me this?” “He was a good man!” He said angrily. “They took him as a child! He was just a little boy and raped him and conditioned him and tortured him to be this…killer, this monster, but he wasn’t.” He tapped on his chest. “Not in here. He was smart. They made him this monster before he was bitten! To kill!!” “Okay.” Lucian got up to grab the bars. “He had dreams…vampires aren’t supposed to have dreams at all as we don’t have normal sleep. What he saw were memories of things they did to him. Of regrets the good man inside despised what he had done! He was a good man they turned into that thing!” “You knew him.” I said. “No one else could.” I had tears. “You’re making me care about him.” “I want you to know he was a good man! He couldn’t help it! They made him the ways he was!!” Walking closer, I reached out and touched Lucian’s hand. Was that dangerous? It could have been, but I didn’t think he’d try anything. “I believe you, Lucian. Iilya was a good man some bad people used. Just like Repetate and Iustina…those two vampires that lived in this cage…he, like them, was made to be what he was. I do believe you.” I said sincerely. “I believe you and I know you love him. I get that. Yet, what he did…what you did…understand…” now I was crying, “he shot my Colin. He wanted to deny me my chance for fifty years with the man I love. I couldn’t let that happen. I did not want to shoot anybody. I had no choice, he had to be stopped.” I looked in his eyes. “I can’t even fathom what you feel right now. I really don’t want you to die, Lucian. Really, I don’t. Hear me, believe me. Don’t die! I hurt…for you.” I said as another tear came down my face unchecked. “No, I can’t know your pain, but I can see it on your whole body.” I wiped my face and sniffed. “Colin says I love everyone. He’s right, I do. What you did, for whatever reasons…you will be held a while until you can be trusted.” I shrugged. “You know you have the time. Please, don’t choose to die. I do care about you. In time, I might like you enough to call you a friend. Can you give me a few decades to find out? Tell me about Iilya. He sounds very complicated, but you knew him. Through you, I can know the man you knew, even just a little. Please?” Lucian wasn’t quick to respond and I could only guess he must be feeling numb. I would. “If I don’t hear you want to end your own life…we will plan to move you to the United States. You will be on the serum. It will hurt.” Lucian nodded. I had to stop to collect myself and wash my face. Poor Iilya. Poor Lucian!! If I lost Colin, I’d want to die. I had no doubt about that. I would die. I went back to join the people in our group about to do Colin’s favorite thing. Eat. Okay, his it was his second favorite thing; eating. You know the first thing. It was my favorite thing, too. Colin looked up and smiled instantly as I walked up and he waved for me to sit by him telling Mark to make room. I looked across the table as Wayne and Amasis were sitting together, but seemed to be enjoying their own conversation. But what I really liked was the fact that Amasis was…more at ease with Wayne than I saw him with his wife! He wasn’t a god now. The pressure was off. He wasn’t approaching Wayne as a god. He was just a man sharing a meal with someone he really liked. I was sitting between Colin and Mark. Stan was having an animated conversation with my mother on Stan’s other side. Willie and Alex were talking. Sorin, Vasil and Alin were at the table talking. For what had just happened with Lucian, I felt this feeling very content, happy and…here, with him and the others at the table. “What’s going through your mind?” Colin asked cautiously moving his head back a little, not certain how to take…whatever expression was on my face. I chuckled at him, pulling Colin close, kissing him. “See what you did.” I waved at them at the table. Colin looked, but shook his head not understand what he should see. “What?” “All these people are here, because of you.” I said. “I know this has been a tough battle to get here. A few years ago, all I wanted was a job! I get you! You bring me in. Then Gabriella. You bring us together with George and Willie.” I smiled at the many faces. “I feel…at home and yet we’re thousands of miles away from home!” I grabbed Mark’s hand causing him to look at me questioning, he smiled and then Mark squeezed back. “I love every single person at this table! I’m sure I’ll be including you, Vasil soon. I like you now a lot.” Vasil grinned and nodded. “I’m just…relishing in that realization. It just feels…so good.” I shrugged. “Because of you.” Colin smiled as he looked around the table, but shook his head. “I disagree. They are here, because of us. Wayne’s here because of you and what you did. You insisted we get Willie out of that abandoned subway. Amasis is here because of you.” Which I was going to argue. “No, you were the one to talk to him to get him to understand what he really is. I didn’t do this alone.” He motioned between the two of us. “We did it. We are a family.” “Wait! I’ve got it! We simply tell them the truth!” Vasil said suddenly at the table from a conversation he was having with Sorin. “About us and them being vampires!?” Gabriella balked. Vasil shook his head. “One of the things Dragon said in his broadcast is…you are not cursed. What you have is a medical condition.” He shrugged. “That’s what we say. There was an attack. The…” he did the air quotes, “attackers used a virus or something potentially deadly and would be deadly for others if they returned home…so they were all quarantined! Held for treatment until we got it under some control.” “What will we say it is?” Stan asked. “Doctors in their home countries will want to know what it is.” Vasil frowned, but there was a light in his eyes. “Do I have to think of everything?” He chuckled. “You’re the genius, look something up on that computer wonder you call Buddy!” “We’d need to be able to back it up.” I said. Colin nodded. “Medical backing…what about Dr. Jolene Hathaway in England? She works with MI5.” Colin said looking at Wayne. “You remember her?” Wayne nodded smiling. “I don’t think she was ever scared of me.” “We have three great medical minds…Dr. Petran here, Dr. Hathaway from England and George!” Colin smiled. “Somebody has to come up with something that will work!” “With backing from some people in the government positions, it will work!” I nodded happily. As the meal was ending, I looked over to the table with Marty and Robert. They really weren’t talking at all, but they sat together eating quietly. I sighed at them. I spoke often with many victims of the attack. I explained the why we were doing what we had to do and most…were naturally upset, even angry, but they understood. I felt Colin press against me more beside me and his voice softly right in my ear. “Why don’t you talk to them?” “I have.” I said as just quietly. “They know what’s going on.” Colin nodded. “Okay. Then why don’t you go over, talk and listen to them?” I shrugged. “I will…after dinner.” I turned to face him more. “I love you, Colin.” His smile was there and just grew a little. “I know.” He kissed me gently. “I love you.” “I know.” It was after dinner that I did walk over to the two friends sitting on the floor, but again, not really talking. Robert looked up and his face frowned. “I’m not doing anything.” He defended quietly, but sourly. I sat down next to them. “Yes, you are.” I smiled at them. “You’re not engaging in anything…no talking or even trying.” Robert looked at me surprised. “What?” “You two are friends?” I asked. Marty nodded. “We were.” He emphasized the past tense of the word more prominently as he looked at Robert a little sadly. “Tell me about yourselves.” I said. “Tell me how you met.” “We were both students at UCLA.” Robert replied and looked at Marty. “We were roommates for the last two years. We just graduated in June of this year.” “Robert and I weren’t allowed like some kids do, to travel Europe after high school after graduating…you know…they spend a year traveling? So, we used some money we got after graduation to come to Europe to travel afterwards.” Marty said. “Sure.” I smiled nodding. “That’s a good plan. You became roommates by choice?” “We chose to be the last year.” Marty nodded. “We got along and yes…we are friends.” “Look, I am not gay!” Robert defended again. “Well, that’s a shame,” I grinned, “but you are friends.” I said to Robert. “Who you have sex isn’t anyone’s business except for you and that other person. I get the feeling you two are becoming distant from each other.” I sighed. “You were right, Robert. What happened is not fair. It should never have happened…but it did.” I pointed at Marty. “You’re not blaming him, are you? He didn’t want this.” Robert looked at his friend. “No.” But his voice wasn’t as sure about his answer. He did blame Marty a little. “This has been very upsetting. You both have lives. You want to go back to that life. I understand that. Please see, we’re doing everything we can to get you back that life…or any life.” I pleaded. “You want to go home.” I said to Robert. “At home, everything will be fine, right? Only, going home won’t change what happened.” I smiled at Robert. “It won’t erase what happened. Robert, you’re here because you were there. You saw. Now, you know about us. You know about Marty. We’re coming up with a plan to get you home. I promise. There are people in higher offices that know the truth and will help you. We will help you.” Marty nodded. “You’re a vampire.” He said what he felt from me. I nodded. “I am, just like you are now.” I grinned at Robert. “My father…” I pointed to Willie, “is a vampire and is not gay. Alex, my son-in-law is not gay. My mother and daughter are not gay. Not everyone that becomes a vampire is gay. It’s just different with us. I don’t know why, but it is.” Robert nodded with a grin. “But you have to admit, there are a lot that are gay.” I shrugged. “At least the people involved are of age and the same species. We’re all human. Just…don’t blame Marty. He didn’t do this. It was done to him. Don’t lose hope or your friendship. You’re both alive and you will get home. Do what you have to, keep your friendship going. Don’t lose that. What were you planning to do in life?” Robert looked surprised at the question. “Become part of one of those Fortune 5oo companies.” Marty chuckled. “Come on, Robert…” Marty looked at me, “he gets these erotic dreams about becoming this mega-CEO of a big company.” “Really?” I grinned. “Well, do you know who Colin Wentworth is?” “Not really. I know he’s rich.” Robert said. I nodded. “How about a company that has gone global and we’re talking about revenue in the billions and growing?” I patted Robert’s arm. “Instead of looking at what you lost, see what’s in front of you.” I waved at Colin. “We need people and we can use smart people to keep the VUN going.” “The VUN?” Marty asked. “What’s that?” I chuckled. “It’s a name I gave us. The Vampire United Nations. There are opportunities if you stay with us. We will help you and we can. Just be patient.” I said. “You’ll be home soon.” I smiled as Robert was no longer anxious or sullen. His face held hope for some unknown possibilities. Going back to my family, I was pleased to see Dragon and Gaius had joined us. “How are they?” Colin asked as he looked and saw Robert and Marty were now talking. Behaving like friends again as Robert began to practically cackle and shook his head at something Marty said. I chuckled. “They’ll be fine. Robert’s problem was…he was scared. This has been way outside of things Robert was able to deal with.” Colin leaned in kissing me. “I knew you could help. You do have an almost magical way with words.” He pressed his forehead against mine. “I guess you’ve spoken with Lucian.” “Yes.” I nodded sighing. “This situation with him and Iilay was more complicated than I thought. Lucian is bound and determined to let me know Iilya was a good man.” Colin’s eyes widened as his head went back a little. “You’re kidding.” “No.” I said nodding. “Lucian told me Iilya is just like the Old Ones. He was made what he was. Lucian was in love with Iilya and saw value in that man. Lucian told me things that say just that.” I gave a grudging nod. “And it’s working. Iilya was capable of being a nice man. Iilya did love Lucian.” Colin nodded. “You told me there was more with Iilya before Lucian told you those things.” I nodded, but…looking in Colin’s eyes…those beautiful emerald green eyes. Words can’t convey how I felt for Colin. Silently we communicated and Colin was getting the message as he began smiling softer. My message was sent and he sent his reply. “Excuse us.” Colin said quickly getting up, but pulling me up with him. “We’ll…be back…sometime.” There was a chuckle from the other who knew why we were leaving. Getting back to the room, Colin began to undress quickly as I did. I stopped him and pulled him into a deep, consuming…tried to inhale and bring all of him into me type of kiss. Hands were everywhere, touching, kissing full of desire and just raw lust. It was love! We couldn’t get enough of each other. Now, Colin and I did our favorite thing. We connected again. I loved touching Colin and him touching me! Passion was again at full throttle, explosive and urgent. There was nothing in the entire universe was more perfect than two human beings touching like this. I don’t know how long it was. It was almost one long…intense orgasmic blur. It was LOVE!!! No, I can’t tell you how long, but with one last grunt, I came again at last in Colin, who was gripping me close using his arms and legs. I felt him cum again with a quick gluteal “AAAHH!” between us between our stomachs. I collapsed on him as we both were glistening with sweat and breathing hard…trying to steady our breaths and heartrates. “I…” I panted, “love you…” I quickly inhaled, “Colin.” Colin nodded, but was still gasping. Just slowing down his heart. “I know.” He said pulling me…as if he needed to we were as close as we could possibly get. “I love…” he said, “you, Devon.” He said bringing me in for a kiss. Not the rushed, urgent…got to get it now kind we started with, but slow…still a little consuming, but it was love. Telling the other thank you and how much we meant to each other. He squeezed me to him more. “I know.” I said.
  6. Chapter 30

    I know who you are. I'm not done with Devon or Colin. I am a sarcastic wiseass. I know it. I mean it when I say it. Daniel is all my love characters. In case you didn't know, I write first person, so I'm Devon, Mitch, Eric...he's Tony, Colin, Peter...all of them, but one story I wrote before Daniel. I keep him alive in my mind and heart. That's why I made him a vampire. He won't die and we'll be together forever this way. I will stop writing, when I stop breathing.
  7. Chapter 30

  8. Chapter 30

    The progression of the serum was on-going. There was Lucian and the others with him. I did ask they be given books or something to do, but we didn’t dare let them out. We were in no hurry to begin the serum with them. It saved on the demand for food if all they needed was blood. It was only with Dragon’s continued “requests” to the victims that they stayed relatively calm. The problem was some had families. The young mother was concerned with her child and needed to go home. Their lives were changed. They could be returned to the outside world, but there would be questions about where they’d been and why contact was lost we didn’t have answers for. I came to our room, not having seen much of Colin that day as I worked with the victims. He went back to the house we rented to deal with Stan and check for messages received to our plea for help and bring needed food. I saw that he hadn’t returned to the caverns yet and I missed him. Yes, there were a few things happening more important, but I still missed Colin. I got things ready for him and I take a shower…yep, we did it together. I was also tired. I lay down on the bed, just for a moment. There was no maid service down here, if you wondered. We got the sheets and we made the bed. And really, guys weren’t that obsessed with clean sheets that much normally. Colin and I weren’t that messy when we had sex. Sex is messy! I bring this up because I could smell Colin here. Especially on the pillow he used. I even wondered if I could bottle it for times when he was away like this. I was enjoying it when the door opened and Colin walked in. Colin smiled, but saw me holding his pillow to my face inhaling deeply. “What are you doing?” I grinned stretching out as I still hugged his pillow. “Inhaling the scent of my favorite person.” “Are you?” He came closer to me and leaned over me. “I can see you think that’s a good thing.” I nodded pulling him down to me, kissing him slowly. “It is very good, but having the real thing with me again is the best.” My right hand and arm wrapped around his head and neck, my left went around across his back pulling him even tighter to me. Colin chuckled. “I missed you.” He said softly tracing a trail across my jaw to my ear then down. “I missed you, too.” I said enjoying what he was doing and the warm solid feeling I got having him in my arms. “You can never go away again.” Colin chuckled. “I’m fine with that.” He stretched out even more. “Today you thought you were needed here and I had to go check for messages. It couldn’t be helped.” I nodded bringing him back to give the slow kiss again, but let it linger. “Fine, then we find someway to bottle your scent.” Colin took his pillow from me and sniffed it himself. “I don’t smell anything.” “Of course, not. It’s your scent.” I grinned bringing my nose to his chest. “I can smell it.” “Why aren’t you a tracker?” Colin asked. “If you can smell me, couldn’t you track vampires?” I shrugged. “I can probably track you if I had to, but you’re the only person I think I can do that with. I’ll couldn’t be Alex and never like Gabriella.” I said as I pulled on his sweater to get it off. “I love you, Colin.” His smile was warm and the love shone in his eyes. “I know you do. I love you.” “I know you do.” I said tossing his sweater away and began working on his shirt and belt. “You, I want naked, with me and we make love.” He laughed. “I would never have guessed that was what you wanted.” He began kissing me deeper. And we did make love. Then we got up, took a shower, continued our love making and went to bed. Our positions were habit. We both knew how we were comfortable with each other now. “Am I to gather since you didn’t tell me anything, we have no responses?” I asked as he arm went around my middle as he would spoon up behind me. “Oh!” Colin said quickly. “I was distracted.” He said kissing me on the back of my head. “Sorin’s getting pressure to find these people. They want to bring in some heavy hitters to investigate, probably the RIS.” I rolled over and faced him quickly. “Romanian Intelligence?” I looked for someone to come up with a solution, be it God or whoever’s up there in charge. “This is serious.” Colin nodded. “It is. I think Sorin’s suggestion we do contact Interpol is correct, but if these agents are Romanian, they may already know about us.” He shrugged. “We weren’t shy about sending those messages out. They may be monitoring us now if they are as good as our agents with the United States.” He looked at me uncertain. “We may just have to…come out.” “If you mean come out as gay.” I said. “We are out, but vampires...” He shook his head. “This is becoming global. If we can get help from another couple of countries, we might be able to this peacefully.” “Might. That’s not that good a word, might.” I said. “We could get us all killed.” Colin nodded. “So, we may have to decide to go back to hiding and disappear or go on.” “How can we disappear, Colin?” I asked. “The world knows about Wentworth Manor. They are even noticing Holms Laboratories. We can’t just disappear. What about Thornwood?” Colin nodded. “That’s why we need to talk to everyone here, including the new ones on what to do. Edwin’s here and so are we. Dragon and Gaius are here. We can contact George and get them on a conference call with Stan, Ruben, Senator Cooke, Congresswoman Chance and Director Mattingly. Everyone will have a say. I can’t make a decision like this. It will affect a lot of people. You said I was the President of…us. Well, a president is not a king. It should be a group decision, not mine alone.” “You’re giving a voice to those just made?” I asked nodding. “Absolutely. What we decide will affect them. They have lives.” He sighed. “Now Mattingly of MI5 can help with those from Great Britain. The others…I don’t know. They are vampires. I’m not saying we need to come all the way out, but there are people in places of government that may need to be told.” “Okay.” I said lying back down and resuming our positions with my back pressing against him. “We’ll do what we have to.” The next day, we had more of the ones that just wanted to leave. Especially that one with Marty. Robert. He was getting on my nerves! “He was attacked! I wasn’t. I still have a life.” Robert said. “I promise never to tell anyone!” I sighed as I turned to him. “You know why you can’t! You have no explanation as to what happened!” That’s when a hand reached out and grabbed Robert’s shirt from the back. “I think you and I need a private little chat.” Dragon growled as he drug him away. I knew what sort of little “chat” he meant. “I wish we’d come here first.” I grinned. The man that emerged from this “chat” was a lot less annoying. Dragon walked up next to me. “What did you do?” He shrugged. “I just…” he did the air finger quotes, “suggested…he stay quiet and calm.” Again, Colin had to go out to check and send the messages. I was now worried because it was getting late, so I kept working to keep myself busy. Getting food to our many guests was another thing he handled, but he had been gone most of the day! It was after dark when he came back, but not alone. Stan and Mark came in with him. When they came in, I didn’t even bother to hide that fact I had been worried about Colin. I let out a breath of relief I knew I’d been holding and came to him quickly hugging him tightly. “I know…” Colin said to my ear holding me. “I’m late and I couldn’t call you. I know you were worried. I would have been. I’m sorry.” “With all that’s going on, I’m just glad your back and safe.” I said quietly to him. “I was worried.” I kissed him gently. “Is everything okay?” Colin shook his head. “No.” He admitted. “They, the investigators, were at the house with Eva. I didn’t dare go there. I had to get Stan and Mark from the hangar. We got the CPU and brought it with us.” We looked as Sorin came in a little out of breath. “Thank God, you got here.” He said with relief. “Those guys at the house were RIS.” I nodded. “We talked about last night…yesterday…whatever!” I smiled at Stan and Mark. “Good to see you guys.” I looked at Sorin. “Do they know about the hangar?” “I’m sure they do.” Sorin nodded. “The thing is…do they know about here? I couldn’t get any answers.” Mark nodded. “If they are Romanian's version of us; we wouldn’t give away what we know either.” “But I think we shook any tails.” Stan said and looked around. “It might take some work, but maybe I can work a bypass to get and send signals.” “Maybe later.” Colin looked at the many there. “I still need to check the messages.” He looked at Stan. “Is there a place outside I can get a satellite connection?” Stan nodded. “Yes, but I’ll go.” He patted Colin on the arm. “You scared Devon enough today. Stay here.” “It’s dangerous out there now.” Colin said. Stan grinned and tried not to look offended. “I am an FBI agent, Colin…you know…trained and all that. I’ll be fine.” He grabbed Mark around the waste grinning bigger than needed, bumping his head against Mark's gently. “And I won’t be alone. My fiancé will be with me.” Okay, I was worried about Colin, we were in a tough situation, but this made things a lot better. “Really!?” I looked at Mark. “Who asked who?” Mark grinned and shook his head. “He asked me!” Then pulled Stan in for a loving…longer kiss. “Can you do that!?” Colin asked. Mark and Stan broke apart a little and Mark frowned. “Men can marry now! You’re married! You know that.” “I mean, can a couple of married agents work together?” Colin asked. “Well…” Stan began. “That’s what we wanted to talk to you about.” He smiled. “Would you hire me?” “Wait. You want to leave the FBI?” I asked. “I’m not used that much out there.” Stan justified. “Which I’m good with not being out there. I love working with Buddy. I’m not that much good doing…” he waved at the outside of the cavern, “things out there. And yes, there would be a conflict when we married for the FBI and would be reassigned.” He looked up carefully. “Do you have problem with us continuing to work together and with you? Married? I’m the best choice to…” I grabbed Stan and hugged him tightly. “Shut up, Stan! I love having you two with us. I want you to stay forever. Why would we have a problem with you two working married?” Colin was hugging Mark then grinned at Stan. “We told you; you are family. You’re welcome with us anywhere, anytime.” “When did you ask Mark?” I smiled. “Just before the Transylvanian Halloween event.” Mark smiled. “He said it was to give me a reason to get through this…we’re marrying when we get home; when this is over.” Stan nodded. “And you guys have to come. This part will be over.” “We’d be offended if we weren’t invited!” Colin grinned hugging me. “And be our best men?” Mark asked. I bumped heads with Stan gently. “We will be! We love you two!” That’s when we heard a commotion coming from the entrance of the cavern. “opreşte-te!” A voice ordered someone to stop as he had said it before, loudly in Romanian. I recognized the voice as one of Dragon’s men that was a guard. “La o parte din calea mea!” Another male gruff Romanian voice said irritated for the guard to get out of my way. We all turned to see a man come in alone. He was in his middle fifties with greying hair, but kept in shape, because he looked like what I knew he was, a Romanian Intelligence Service Agent. He didn’t look surprised at what he saw in the cavern. He took out what they always carry, his identification and badge. “Vasil Cojoc with RIS.” He said in accented English. “How did you get in here?” Dragon asked coming over. “Did you follow us?” Mark asked worrying Stan and he had brought this man here. “Well, you sent for me.” Vasil said simply. He looked at Colin. “Or, at least you did.” He pointed. “I did?” Colin asked. “And no, I didn’t follow you.” Vasil looked back toward the entrance cave. “Come on, Alin!” Then a grinning Alin, the first vampire we put on the serum in Romania, meeting him that first night club Biscrica din Cornseti, came up with a shy wave, but smiling. “Alin!?” Colin smiled surprised. “We didn’t know what happened to you!” “I came in for my serum, but you were all were gone.” Alin said shrugging. “That lady doctor, Dr. Petran put mine in then.” He chuckled. “I traveled in the day light all around Romania a while and have been…everywhere…and I didn’t check email, but when I did! I hurried back when I got the message.” He waved at Vasil. “Well, I went to him first and I was on foot so…” “How do you know Agent Cojoc?” Sorin asked. “In the mid-1990’s he was working this case. He was a little younger than me and just starting his career in Romanian Intelligence. It was a murder he was investigating. He happened upon me while I was feeding. Knew what I was and almost killed me that night…” Agent Cojoc interrupted, “but he was feeding on the blood of a cow. Which didn’t make sense as the victim I was investigating was drained of blood. So, why was he feeding on a cow when there were isolated people nearby he could attack and probably get away?” Alin nodded. “Anyway, I helped him with that first case and we became friends and I helped with a couple other cases. Then I read your email and so…here I am! With my friend Vasil!” Like old friends do, they know the other and had no problem filling gaps or continuing what the other friend was saying. “I nearly fainted when Alin came to me…in the middle of the afternoon! Broad daylight and he looked…normal!” Agent Cojoc said putting an arm around Alin’s shoulder like he must have done for thirty years to his friend kissing his friend on the side of the head. Colin walked up to Alin and there…planted a big kiss right on his lips making Alin’s eyes widen, but he didn’t stop it. I know, there are a lot of hugs and kisses we gave around. Who wouldn’t want one? “Alin! You are an angel!” Alin chuckled. “That kiss was not expected, but…it was pretty good for a guy.” He grinned wider. “You know, I’d do anything for you guys.” “Fine.” Colin said and shook his finger in Alin’s face. “No more distrust. We get here and find Christian is one man we’re looking for, but no he’s not, he’s another we find out is, but not and is Gaius and then another we find out is Dragon…don’t do that again. All cards on the table.” Alin nodded again. “Right…that was all that…stuff with the whole…vampires are just that way.” I came up and hugged him. “I won’t kiss you, unless you ask for one, but it’s good to see you, Alin.” Sorin walked up to Vasil and stuck his hand out. “Inspector Sorin Dulca.” Vasil shook his hand nodding. “I’ve heard the name.” He smiled. “You’re very good. Crimes you investigate are solved. Correctly.” Sorin gave a shrug and nod. “It’s my job. I’m sorry, I can’t say the same thing about hearing your name.” Vasil chuckled. “Don’t worry about that. Its best for doing my job if you don’t know my name.” Colin looked at Vasil. “You knew about the vampires?” “I knew of vampires as a whole.” Vasil said. “I was born and raised here, so naturally I knew, like most here in this country know about vampires, but don’t talk about it. I took the knowledge to be like…Mos Nicolae.” He leaned forward in mock conspiracy. “That’s Saint Nick or Santa, if you don’t know.” He smiled at the Americans here. “I was shocked like anyone when I first happened on Alin. It took a minute to see he was no threat to me. He is the only one I knew personally.” He walked up to Dragon. “You, I know by face. I saw the…broadcasts sent out with your face. I recognized you from the video taken when these people were attacked and you addressed them to stop from the stage.” He pointed at the many around us. “They were bitten, weren’t they?” Dragon nodded. “We tried to stop the attack.” Vasil smiled. “I heard and saw.” He looked at Colin. “You’re doing more than working on a translation program.” Colin nodded. “Yes, but we are doing that as well.” “We’re dealing with something no one’s done before.” I said and took Alin’s arm. “As you can see, there is a treatment that gives vampires a life again.” I patted Alin as the evidence. Vasil smiled. “I saw that.” “Are there others with the RIS that know about vampires?” Colin asked. Vasil shrugged. “Again, we don’t talk about it.” “I don’t get it.” I said. “If no one talks about it, then how does everyone seem to know about it? Eva knew by personal experience, Dr. Petran knew from a previous patient…you knew about them before meeting Alin.” “We tell stories.” Vasil explained. “Usually from a parent, grandmother or grandfather who tells stories to us when we’re children. For the most part, they are just stories…until you see one in the distance.” He admitted as he recalled his own. “Walking home one evening just after dark and my mother was rushing…I was about…five or six…my mother was walking with me urging me to hurry. We saw a vampire that was feeding on a dog. It looked and hiss at us, then ran away. Mom just hurried us home and locked the door. Nothing about it was said much except she cautioned me to be careful.” He motioned to the others. “What are your plans for these people?” “We are trying to get everyone on the serum.” I explained. “They can’t return to their regular lives.” Colin said. “They have the venom. It needs treatment.” Vasil nodded. “I heard that in the broadcasts.” He began doing what others did. He folded his arms over his chest, placed fingers near his mouth as he began walking with no place specifically to go and thought and gestured slightly as he spoke. “Not everyone believes in vampires, even here. There are others in the RIS that don’t and won’t believe anything without hard evidence. Those men at the house you rented were RIS, but not in my division. They also saw the footage of the attack and saw the face of him,” he pointed at Dragon, “it will be just a matter of time before they find the other broadcasts.” Dragon nodded as Gaius came from the entrance way. I noticed a slight change in Dragon’s eyes as they got softer. “The problem is where do we take them?” I asked. “There are others in a holding cell in another part of the cavern. They were part of the group that attacked these people. They are not on the serum yet.” “We need a place to keep them.” Colin said. “They can’t just be released.” Vasil nodded. “Okay.” I noticed Dragon and Gaius in a quiet conversation where Gaius laughed lightly at something Dragon said and touched him lightly on his side. Yes, there was love there. You could see it in their eyes as they looked at each other. Then my smile grew as Dragon leaned closer and kissed Gaius. The cat was out of the bag, so why hide it? “I was right.” Robert, the man with Marty said. “All vampires are gay.” Dragon sighed sadly and turned to this man, gently grabbed his collar bringing him closer so his own face only an inch apart. “Listen you…little man. I don’t know how you survived…” “I wasn’t the one bitten!” The man said like that was enough. “I mean survived in life.” Dragon growled. “Whether or not my relationship with Gaius is…as you say, gay…or not should not be a concern for you. Once you’ve passed a century or two…a person that’s always there means a hell of a lot. I can count on Gaius to always be there. Gaius and I have several centuries of life we shared. Naturally, I love this man and then I fell in love with the man.” He brought the man even closer, their eyes practically touching they were close. “I’m telling you…” then his voice got that resonance. “Leave it alone!” Dragon let him go. The man sputtered straightening his shirt. “I’ll leave it alone.” He said like under a spell quietly. Mark walked up to him. “You’re American.” “I am.” The man said. Mark smiled and pulled out his badge. “Mark Goddard, FBI.” He said to the man. “This is Stan Martin…also FBI.” We saw the man’s eyes widen. “There are two other agents with the FBI here. We are out of our jurisdiction, but…you just don’t seem to get it that this situation is bigger than you worrying about what you’re missing in that life you had. This is a global emergency.” He began walking closer to the man who backed away. “This is not a national crisis, but an international one. There are people from many countries…England, the US and Romania now. Now, sit down, shut up and try to see how this will affect the world…not just you!” “But that’s not fair!” The man said in a whimper. “So?” Mark asked. “It’s life. Things happen. Whether it’s fair or not doesn’t count. You have to deal with what happens. Now, grow up, be quite and sit down!” Mark commanded and the man sat down. Stan smiled bigger. “Don’t you just love him!?” I chuckled patting Stan on the arm. “Not as much as you do.” Vasil smiled as he and the others watched Mark confront the man. He looked at Colin and me. “I can make it possible for you all to get out of the country.” He held his hands up. “Not that you’re not welcome, but…” “What about them?” Colin asked. “We can’t leave until they are returned to some sort of life.” He brought me close to him. “The others in the holding cell, we can take to the US, there is a facility there we already have vampires holding there that aren’t nice.” “We’ll just have to tell them.” Colin said to me looking at the others here. He looked at the man Mark had told to sit down. “He’s right. This isn’t fair.” I nodded. “No. It’s not.”
  9. Chapter 25

    We did have a nice dinner, but I watched as Georg would look over whenever Peter would…reach out…without real thought from Peter, and take my hand. You need both hands to eat, so we would break and rejoin the hands. That was just us. I smiled as Olek talked, most mostly it was to Helga. Their conversation seemed to go well. I admit I was a little jealous. I really loved Olek. Understand what I mean. I loved Olek the man, my future brother-in-law. More important, he was my good friend. The idea that someone could take his attention away…I was jealous! It was childish of me, I knew that. He deserved a friend that was just for him! If that’s Helga, fine, but she’d better appreciate if she got him. If she broke his heart, I’d kill her. Then again, Peter would, too. They seemed to be getting along well. Damn it. I kept telling myself that was a good thing. “So what thing from your country are you ashamed of?” Georg asked me suddenly as I contemplated possibilities for Olek. He words were clear and he spoke English very well, but accented. I found out he spoke German, of course, French, Spanish and then English…in that order. It was clear to see he spoke German and English more. I smiled as Georg brought my attention back. “There is no ne thing. There are a great number of things. The most prominent and more recent atrocity that comes quickly to mind was our treatment of Japanese citizens,” I raised finger, “US citizens, mind you, but of Japanese descent during World War II. There’s still racism is rampant everywhere…KKK, Neo-Nazis, Skinheads against people with dark skin were harassed, both African descended and Latino. People we refer to as black were kept from good educations and prevented from going to school with white people. Ever time that got a step up, these groups came to stop them. They were hunted like animals and got angry…and they should be! They were lynched, or just brutally murdered...many times by law enforcement that was supposed to find the very killers. Being rotten is just a human trait. It’s stupid, but unfortunately, human. There’s no one country that’s to blame really. The British knew they were very superior. They went overseas, but brought England with them. China had neighborhoods that were British in construction, hired locals as servants where the British kept treating everyone native there as less than they were. The British knew they were. They also had slaves, which the United States did the same thing because we are British mostly and they brought England here where we just kept doing it the colonies. We, the United States and England, would bring people from all over Africa…we enslaved the Native American that lived there first and turned them into slaves on their own land, because we were superior? We brought natives from Africa, never asking if they could come and help, but just took them and put people to work because we could. We didn’t have to pay them. We told ourselves because of the skin color, they had no soul? Why? So, we could sleep at night? We abused the women, men and children. Men it was usually physical, with women it was both physical and sexual. Children I don’t even want to know what was done to them. They were no soul slaves, just short of the cow in the barn and they couldn’t fight back, it they did, they died! I can bet you there were a number of men sexually abused. There are some very handsome men who are African.” I sighed. “Even in organized religion. I have a friend who was raised Southern Baptist, when he found out why there were different Baptist Conventions, he left the church.” “Why?” Georg asked. “What’s wrong with being Baptist?” “Southern Baptist. The Baptist Plantation owners in the South didn’t want to give up their slaves when the North said there shouldn’t be slaves and these Southerner plantation owners formed the Southern Baptist Convention so they would get no pressure from the Baptist Convention.” I smiled as Georg seemed to be listening, but was still having trouble with something. I pressed on. “People are very nice. People are very cruel. They can be loving and warm and kind. They can also be sadistic, cold and rotten to their very core. Those men that left Germany because they were homosexual weren’t hurting anyone. They loved someone that others thought they shouldn’t, because they did things with that other person…with that other person’s happy permission,” I stressed, “because they loved that person!?” Georg shook his head and said firmly. “But that’s just…wrong.” He leaned forward and whispered. “It’s sick.” I wasn’t upset or angry. “We’re just talking.” I said quietly as I noticed Olek look over looking concerned. I smiled and waved for him to continue his conversation. I looked back at Georg. “That’s all. Talking. We’re talking, but are you willing to listen? Or is your views on life that perfect and absolute?” “You want to change my mind.” Georg said. I nodded. “Perhaps.” I looked as Olek and Helga were now in a much deeper conversation. “Are you willing to listen?” “Certainly.” Georg said. “Olek.” I said bringing his eyes to me. “Do you mind if we take Georg and show him around?” Olek looked puzzled at Georg. “Is everything alright?” “We’re just talking.” Peter smiled with a shrug. “We promise no harm to our new friend Georg.” “Okay?” Olek said hesitantly. “Relax, Olek.” I chuckled. “You will be fine with just Helga.” He chuckled and nodded. “Okay.” He looked at Peter and me as he waggled his finger at us. “Play nice.” “We always do.” I said, as we rose to walk through the palace. “Would you like something to drink?” Peter asked going to the bar in the family room. “Do you have Scotch?” Georg asked. Peter grinned. “I like those, too.” He handed Georg his glass. Georg sat, relaxed and took his drink. “Change my mind, if you can.” “You don’t really sound ready to hear.” I said taking my own drink. “Why don’t I share…some things I found out about my own people. One of the examples we have; there are a lot of plantations in the South. One of them is a pretty famous one used often in movies and mini-series…I am a Southerner. I was born and raised in the South. I am not proud of that. There’s nothing to be proud of. I was born there and didn’t earn the right to make that claim, I’m just there.” I continued. “Taking a tour of the place while I was in high school, the history about the South was fresh in my mind. On the tour the guide was telling us what the various buildings were used for…one a single room. A tiny house. I asked and was told it was a family dwelling.” I laughed. “Making it sound like a single family lived there. There were more than just one family. Twenty, forty, eighty?” I shrugged. “Looking at the size of the plantation and knowing what they grew, they had to have plenty of slaves and the four buildings that were the houses for all of them. Not enough for all slaves needed and house one family for all of it. Then there was a building they said was for the children to go to school. I said to be sure to say that was the children of the main house…children that were white! No African child would be allowed. It was against the law! They were slaves and couldn’t just stop working because it was too hot or they didn’t feel well…they had to keep working! The version of history these people were trying to make me believe wasn’t true. Revised and not as harsh, is a lie.” I looked at Georg. “I’m not getting into the homosexual thing yet, but you do know there were deaths in the camps?” Georg nodded. “There were. It was a prison camp. These people were criminals.” “Jews?” Peter asked. “They all were criminals…millions of them?” “The photos show horrible conditions.” I said. “Again, they were prisoners in prison. Prison should be harsh; the photos show that. It wasn’t supposed to be pleasant.” “Even a convict doesn’t deserve what I know and have seen.” “The Jews may have been guilty of things, but millions!? Children! What would a little four-year-old do to be punished like this? They often were taken alive as experiments…medically." “No.” Georg said, but it didn’t have the attitude. “Megenle, Goebbels…Eichmann? There is documented evidence. Evidence! What did those millions do to deserve this punishment?” “They caused a depression because they were bankers, lawyers. They were…” Georg thought, “I am fluent in English, if I get something wrong…they were…left wing?” He waited for a nod and smiled when I nodded, telling him he was right. “The numbers don’t reflect that.” I said. “It can be verified by computer, but the right wing…the Protestants and Catholics…Germans were guilty as well. The Jews got the blame. Most jumped on that to have a scapegoat. The ring wing had bankers, lawyers, but also the Communists and Corporate. The Jewish participants did overshadow the Germans there. There were a number rural Germans that were part of the right.” I sat back. I wanted to be sure to approach him with him feeling I was confrontational. “Who told you that all in the camps were criminals?” “My father.” Georg said. “How did he know?” Peter asked. Georg sighed. “His father…my grandfather told him. He was a Nazi.” I nodded. “So, he was there.” “He was in the service.” Georg nodded. “Did he serve in the camps?” Peter asked. “No, he lied about his age to join during the last three years of the war.” Georg admitted. “He had been part of the German Youth Program. He was only sixteen. He was in battle.” I nodded. “Is it possible he told you that they were criminals to protect you…himself and save embarrassment because no one would approve?” I asked. “Is it possible they really were criminals?” Georg asked a little testy and his arms across his chest. I pointed at him. “See? You’re closing up. You’re no longer receptive.” Georg looked down at himself and sighed. “I just don’t like this is heading.” He admitted letting his arms down. “Where is it we are heading?” I asked. “Where you convince me of your version of the truth.” Georg looked away. “That isn’t true.” I said. “We’re heading for the truth. Truth is truth, there are no versions, it simply is.” I said. “But you want me to believe your grandfather’s version of the truth is that truth. There is evidence to the contrary.” “People lie.” Georg said. “All of them? Thousands were liberated after the war. There are written and recorded testimonies from American Forces, British Forces and Russian Forces of the horrors they all saw. All of the accounts of survivors of the camps were the same from all the camps! Thousands and thousands said the same things! Why would all those people, I mean, the countries and freed prisoners all lie?” I leaned forward. “There is footage of some I saw in class…treatment of prisoners done by Germans themselves, for amusement later or other things. They are on the internet now. Both enemy soldiers and just prisoners. I can give you the websites addresses. If you’re willing to look.” Georg was now less defensive. “You’re destroying what I raised to believe.” “And if you were raised to believe the world is flat, my showing you the world from above telling you it’s round?” I asked. “Should I let you believe what isn’t true?” Georg shook his head and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “This is history.” “History that shouldn’t be swept under the rug.” Peter pointed out. “It is very bad.” I smiled as I was expecting a bigger fight. “But you knew this, didn’t you?” Georg sighed sitting up and then getting up to walk. His thoughts clearly bothered him. “Do you know why I speak English so well?” He grinned. I shook my head. “I just assumed everyone in Europe does.” He nodded and he laughed. “They do, but I was educated in the United States. I went to college in New York, but undergraduate and graduate school, nearly a decade in the United States.” He shook his head. “I was confronted with these histories…everyone was telling me the same things. I refused to believe it.” He shook his head. “I still don’t believe it all.” “The world is round, Georg.” I smiled. “You’re not believing doesn’t change the truth into a lie. It’s still round. Now, back to Peter and me.” Georg looked and shook his head, but smiled at that. “You can’t make me change my mind on that.” “But you think what we do is wrong.” I said. Georg shrugged. “It is!” “Why?” I asked. “And before you answer, how open are you talking about sex?” “I don’t want to know what you two do.” Georg said. “Why not?” Peter asked. “Your statement saying you don’t want to know, tells me you think you do know. How can you know if we don’t talk about it?” “We don’t have to tell you what we do specifically.” I said. “Other than that, we all have the same parts. Do you have a problem with saying what they are and what is done with them?” Georg looked puzzled. “Words like cock, ass or fuck? No, I don’t have a problem hearing or using the terms.” “The reason I ask, is this wonderful Ivanov family shocked me recently on how open they are with family about certain things. Some things I am the prude.” I confessed with a chuckle. “So, what is it about homosexual loving you have a problem with?” Georg looked in disbelief. “You can’t ask me that. You know cocks aren’t to go where you put them.” Peter grinned. “How old are you?” “Thirty-four.” “Are you married?” Peter asked. “I don’t understand.” Georg said. “You’re not a virgin, are you?” Peter asked more specifically. “No! I was married, but divorced a few years ago.” Georg answered. “Nothing serious after that.” “At first, was the sex good?” I asked. Georg nodded. “It was.” “I’m only asking this part…” Peter began, “to make a point. You did more than just the missionary position.” It was a statement. “Sure.” “Oral sex?” Peter asked. “She to you and you to her?” “Why do you want to know this?” Georg asked. “We want to know because you know what we do.” I said. “It’s no secret. I would hope you don’t deny yourself those wonderful things. I’ll tell you what we do. He and I suck each other’s’ cocks. You know we have sex, meaning we do put them up each other’s ass. That bothers you.” “It’s an ass!!” He explained angrily. “Shit comes out of the ass, cocks don’t go in! Any man that lets that happen is a woman!” He said heatedly. I smiled. “And there it is.” I got up. “And being a woman is bad.” Georg’s eyes widened as knew what he said was…it wasn’t what he was supposed to say. “I didn’t say that.” Peter got up also and came up behind me. “You just said if a man lets a man stick his cock in his ass is woman…does that make him less of a man?” “It’s not what men do!” “Yet millions of men who disagree.” I said. “Not just gay men, either. Many straight men know about those nerves in a man’s ass that bring intense pleasure. They have their wives use dildos on them or alone. There are other toys like vibrators to bring them to climax. You’ve never done that with your wife or girlfriends?” Fair skinned blondes can’t hide their expressions well. He was turning red telling truth he didn’t want to admit to. “So, you were wrong to do that?” Peter saw it, too. “It’s just sex!” “Do you know many gay men?” I asked seeing his discomfort. “No.” He shook his head. “I see them and avoid them.” “You can tell just by looking.” I said. “You two are not like them.” Georg said. “But the ones I see around town…actions…even how they dress…the others in leather…” “But we’re not like them.” Peter said. Georg nodded. “That’s one of the reasons I’m listening to you.” “There are guys that are not wanting to settle down. That goes for gay and straights. The singles bars and the online invitations for dates…some are for just sex. They are everywhere on the Internet. There are people that use sex as a weapon. Not all of us are the same way in how see and want sex.” I took Peter’s hand. “I love Peter. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for him. He doesn’t hurt me. I like it. I feel closer to him when I let him top me.” Peter smiled leaning in kissing me. “I love Eric. I feel the same way. Whatever I can give him…it doesn’t hurt.” “But it’s the ass!!” Georg protested. “It has to stink! The few times…” he paused and then just said it, “I’ve done it…it stunk after a few minutes. That told me not to. Nothing should go in... except medication and a doctor’s finger which hurt twice!” “You have to adjust. The doctor was just in and out for an exam.” I nodded laughing. “Sure. It can stink in the ass…if you don’t take precautions. We have normal elimination habits, but we also use things to clean us out afterwards. That way we can have spontaneous sex. We also use lubes that have good scents. We love each other. We’re not cruisers or those men going from man to man. There are straight men that go from woman to woman. I want a life with Peter.” I pleaded with Georg to consider what I was saying. “Those men in those camps, some probably were the ones to go from man to man. Some…were like us. They loved each other. I have one couple I want to do research on more. I know the names, but…they were barely in their twenties! They were taken to this camp and one named Milo Weir had to watch as his lover, named Bren Schultz was raped repeatedly by a number of guards…and not just with their cocks like they started with. It was only due to a fire Milo got Bren and escaped. Bren nearly died from the injuries he got. They came to Makarovia and hid. In 1948 they married and lived together for thirty-two years! That was true love and devotion! They loved each other. Just as Peter and I do.” I looked at Peter. “I want more than thirty-two years though. I want a long and happy life with you.” Peter kissed me gently. “So, do I.” “I love you, Peter.” He kissed me again. “I know.” He looked at Georg. “See? We do fit together.” He hugged me closer. “I know he loves me. There’s no one more important than he is. He makes me see I’m the most important to him. We fit.” Georg still looked uncomfortable seeing us together. “Just…give me…a little time.” I grinned at Georg. “We’re not going anywhere. You have to adjust.” I patted him on the shoulder. “Maybe you can convince me to reconsider my aversion of blondes.” “Excuse me.” Georg said. “What’s wrong with blondes?” Peter nodded and leaned in a stage whispered. “His first love was a blonde. Chuck sort of soured all of you blondes after they broke up.” “You came here because you wanted to.” I said to Georg. “It did.” Georg admitted. “But you knew what was here?” Peter asked. “Makarovia had large population of homosexuals. You knew that.” Georg nodded. “I did.” I walked over closer to him. “You had doubts about the past before you even came here.” Georg didn’t look at me. “There were all these people telling me what they knew really happened and what the truth was…but I just didn’t believe it.” “Part of you did.” Peter said. “I’m sure there were other projects you could have chosen from.” “You knew what was said about the men who came here and why they came here.” I said smiling at him. “You wanted someone to challenge beliefs you’ve had for decades to make admit there is truth you didn’t believe.” I bounced a little. “Georg, I can see hope here!” “I’d like to see some of those testimonies.” Georg said. “I’ll send you some copies I have on file.” I nodded. “However, I will warn you…I cried through all of them. It’s pretty upsetting. It’s pretty graphic and they told the truth.” Georg nodded a little uncertain. “I understand.” “Okay.” I said sadly.
  10. Chapter 24

    Okay, I wrote one story. Blueblood, then 2, then 3 and I'm almost done with 4. I'm taking them to Asia! Chinese or Japanese Vampires! It's coming! I swear! Colin and Devon aren't through by a long shot! We're taking Dracula home! You know that! But, Peter and Eric just...I can't quit! I need professional help probably. Mental help, I'm sure, but it's coming!! It was to be ONE STORY!!!
  11. Chapter 24

    I haven't forgotten them. I know. There's more. I promise. I can only type so fast. It's coming,
  12. Chapter 24

    We did locate a computer that was being used by an office that used a CPU with the disk port. I quickly accessed the files on the diskettes, which, thank God, weren’t encrypted. The computer had internet access, so I emailed all the files to myself. Once that was done, I turned to Peter. “I promised to tell you now.” I said. “I know it’s still daylight…” Peter grinned sadly, but I saw it in his eyes. “…but you want me.” He nodded leaning in kissing me gently. “I need you right now, too.” Again, we knew each other and right now…we needed the comfort of that one person in our lives that we loved. He took my hand and we both headed for our bedroom. In the privacy there, we slowly undressed each other and those probing kisses were more…loving. No urgency. The idea of bottoming never was questioned. I did gladly for him and he did gladly for me. Both of us knew the other was loved. I love passion, but right now, just being close to Peter was all I needed. Yes, I needed him as much as he needed me. We just needed our time to simply…touch. Once we were both satisfied…for now he said. “I love you, Eric.” Peter said again. “I love you, Peter.” My fingers in his hair. “I was thinking…we need a memorial.” Peter said propping on his hand and looking down at me. “Okay.” I nodded. “For Makarovia?” He looked a little surprised. “Sure. Don’t they deserve one?” “I do.” I nodded. “What this country did was nothing short of miraculous. They hid, clothed and fed those people who came here, but it should celebrate the many sacrifices of the people here and those had to flee.” Peter nodded as he thought. “How about one that…mourns those that were needlessly lost to us. A memorial that celebrates those that got here and the ones that welcomed them once they did get here?” I grinned at him. “Sure, that sounds great!” I pulled him back to close the gap again. “We need to find an artist.” Peter rolled his eyes. “Where will we find a gay artist!? That will be hard.” “We could advertise for one?” “Advertise?” Peter chuckled. “We’ll have crazy people respond!” “And someone that won’t be.” I smiled as he began kissing along my jaw again as he continued to my neck where he knew my…places I preferred. I knew his, too. My arms went around him again pulling him tighter to me again. “But right now…I don’t care.” My hand pulling his head closer as he worked on my neck where I liked. Peter chuckled. “You do care.” He sat up a little. “Not right now.” I said pulling him for a more consuming kiss which he just laughed and willingly returned. “I’m kind of…distracted, but don’t stop!” I rolled us so I was on top. “Now, it’s my turn.” I grinned bringing his arms up and quickly traced a trail up from the soft skin below his armpit up through the hairs making him yelp a laugh, but he didn’t move. “I absolutely adore you, Peter.” Peter nodded a smile. “Only about half as much as I adore you.” Then…we had our passionate sex! Just because you came once or even twice, doesn’t mean you’re done. You just have to work harder, but I don’t mind that! I stayed in our room to use our computer to go over what I’d copied from the diskettes and sent to myself and there were more letters and other things. Images, pictures of the men and women…sorry again, but most of them were men, there were some women, but, just a few. A lot of memory was used, but I found an inventory! There were recordings! Audio, but recordings and even where they were! I let out an excited cry, but were these tapes still there? “I love you, Henry Brown! Wherever you are!” There was a location in the archives and a number. The man was organized! Racing down the hall I went in the archives and searched the number labels and found the shelf with boxes. Numbers were what they were in most languages, so I understood. I opened one…and groaned at what I saw. It was recorded on one of those big recorders with the bigger audio tapes? Reel to reel? Magnetic audio tapes? Everything audio or musical now was digital. It was done in the fifties? Now, did we still have a tape recorder to play these on? I hated not knowing where things were! I looked for someone to ask, but ended up back in Olek’s office. I smiled when I entered the door. Two similar black heads of hair bent over a map on Olek’s desk, looking at a map. “Two Ivanov men with their heads together.” I said grinning. “The world as we know it will vanish.” Olek looked up and smiled. “How’s it going with all the research?” I grinned. “Pretty good!” I nodded. “You don’t have access to one of those old reel tape recorders? Something else they recycled in Makarovia?” Olek smiled, but shook his head. “Sorry. I’m sure we have one. I can ask.” Peter looked up quickly. “There are tapes?” I nodded. “Interviews, pictures of the people are on the diskettes…” I grinned. “And labeled!” I held up a box to show the tapes. “But these, I’m interested in. To hear it in their own voices.” “Why? You don’t speak German.” Peter chuckled. “I’ll learn!” I said. “But to hear the timbre and inflexion. To hear the pain in their voice. I don’t want to, but I think it’s important to feel the pain as much as possible. The voices will do that.” “Would Drew help you?” Olek asked. “He’s in England!” I said. “And?” Olek asked logically. I did pout, a little. “I wanted to hear it now.” “You have to wait.” Peter said chuckling. “But I’m sure, if Drew can’t…though I know he will, this is that fay, fag and fairy shit he finds to report on and this is right up his alley.” He shrugged. “Or we wait until we get back to Northeastern and we have Dean Sutton handle it.” I sighed and waved at the tapes. “These need to be digitally protected and preserved. Sealed.” Olek nodded. “You’re right.” He waved at the map. “We’re scouting for some locations for the new generators.” I nodded. “Sure, it’s our uranium. We should use it.” I walked over. “What size generator?” “One big one would cover most of Makarovia, but we thought some small generators, one small one could provide power for about twenty thousand homes. There are some smaller communities we can combine on one reactor. We’ll begin construction soon, but most will have to wait until next year after the winter.” I nodded. “I’ve heard they can be rough.” “Wait. You’ll find out during Christmas break.” Olek chuckled. “We have the original power stations in Makarovia, like the one here is Stryia. The new power generators will have to be more distant from town.” He waved at the map. “We’ve got potential sites found, with surveys we’ll find out this week.” Then he looked hesitantly at me. “Dr. Schneider and another associate will be joining us at dinner tonight.” “The Germans.” I simply said with no enthusiasm. Peter knew me well and stood up straighter. “Eric.” He said, not quite warningly. “I know!” I said quickly. “They didn’t do it!” I nodded as I held my hand up to stop him from going on. “I know.” I couldn’t look at them now. My feelings were too new and still raw about the whole thing. “They are part of the work crews to build the reactors.” Olek came from around the desk and turned me around. “I’m asking you to be there. Not as a king, but as my brother.” He smiled and looked me in the eyes. “I told Dr. Schneider about the written testimonials. I told Dr. Schneider how you were feeling right now…how I felt when I read them. Just, tell her. She’s very nice. She understands.” “She?” Peter walked over to his brother. “You left that part out when you told me.” Olek blushed knowing he had left it out. “I did? Well, she’s attractive.” He shrugged. My eyebrows rose as I smiled at him. “She is?” Olek shook his head and held his finger up almost in my face. “Don’t be hurrying me down the aisle, we just met!” He snickered. “But, I admit to wanting this to go well and see what can happen.” He nodded with another smile. “Her name’s Helga. Her associate is Georg Meier. You’ll get to know them and see not all Germans think the same way.” He and Queen Alla’s reaction to me was surprising to me when we first met. I could at least give her a chance. That’s more than fair. I nodded and hugged Olek. “I will, but I won’t say I won’t hope you go down the aisle soon, but it’s your choice.” “Great!” Olek smiled. “And I’ll be on my best behavior.” Peter promised with a smile I didn’t quite understand. He seemed to alluding to something he and Olek knew. Olek nodded. “In the past…I was about to go off to Switzerland for school, and…a girl I liked came over to say good-bye…” I looked at Peter. “What did you do?” Peter looked away. “I don’t remember.” He said smiling and I knew he was lying. “Peter.” “I was four!” Peter defended. “I was the little brother.” “It was a mouse.” Olek said to me, but was smiling at Peter. “Lowered on a string from above and dropped it down her blouse. Making her leave screaming!” Olek explained chuckling. I grinned at Peter. “Shame on you.” “I was four!!” Peter said again like that explained it, then folded his arms over his chest. “Besides, she wasn’t good enough for you, Olek. She had this weird laugh and…it wouldn’t have worked out between you.” “She didn’t have the Little Brother’s Seal of Approval?” I asked. Olek nodded. “I agree, she had visions of becoming a true Makarovian Queen.” I looked surprised. “But you are basically Russian.” I pointed out. “I mean the family line is pretty much Russian. There are a lot of Russians all over Makarovia!” I had to admit, I was still cautious. “I’m very protective when it comes to people I care about…especially family…you are family.” Peter chuckled. “He is…very protective.” He said coming up behind Olek and putting his arm around his brother’s shoulder as his eyes almost twinkled at me. “Remember Brad? At Jocks?” He said Jocks in English. “He was an ass.” I growled. “Jocks?” Olek repeated the word in English. “Not the man…oh, as in athletic supporters? The man athlete in the supporter and what’s supported! I get it!” “Eric was impressed by General Hammond’s punch. I thought Eric was going to kill Brad.” Olek chuckled. “Really?” “It was just a bloody nose, but if he put his hands on my future husband again and I would have killed him!” I hugged Olek again. “I worry about you. I want to see you find that one love.” I shrugged. “If it’s this Helga, fine. If not, there will be someone. I just don’t want you to go through life alone.” Olek smiled. “I’m not alone. I have you two and Alla.” I shoved him lightly. “You know what I mean.” “I told him you still jerk off.” Peter said it so casually, not worried it would bother his brother when he told me. Olek wasn’t bothered, in fact, he nodded. “Sure I do. I’m male.” He said simply. I was the one shocked. “See!?” I hit Peter lightly. “We…just didn’t admit that so openly where I’m from!” Olek nodded. “That is a little different here. My father did it.” He shrugged and chuckled at a memory. “I was twelve when I walked in walked in and caught him doing it. He wasn’t embarrassed at all. Of course he stopped for the moment. He explained that’s what human males did. My mother had died and he had yet met Alla…” he shrugged again. “He explained that men get urges and this was the way we deal with tension and these urges. Then he asked me if I did it. I was twelve! Of course I had.” Then Olek laughed. “He even recommended the right lotions and lubes! Told me if I had questions…ask him.” I smiled even bigger. “Yep, I know I loved this family now!” Queen Alla explained her absence a few days, saying she was getting help from some other doctor groups, while we weren’t a third world country, we just didn’t have the manpower or supplies, so they’d come and look at the people of Makarovia. We had doctors here, but not many. There were things like child immunizations and basic checkups…especially in the remoter areas, they needed more help. She was off doing that. That evening, Peter and I were anxious to meet this Dr. Schneider. We gathered where we always did and had drinks before dinner. Very snooty, huh? Then Olek walked in. Both Peter and I were stunned. Olek was handsome, that was not surprising, but he looked….dashing! His hair was combed and styled well, he was casual with a white shirt open at the collar and pressed white pants. Must mostly…he was very relaxed! He walked by to pour a drink for himself. As he passed us I smelled…a pleasing odor. “Olek.” I grinned. “That’s a different cologne.” Olek smiled as he poured his drink. “Do you like it?” He got close so we could smell it better. “Very nice, brother.” Peter putting his arm around me. “Kind of makes me want to…have you try some.” He said almost in a growl to me. “Maybe I’ll borrow some.” I smiled. “But promise you won’t.” Olek was puzzled and frowned. “Why not?” Now Peter blushed. “He likes my scent.” Qlek’s smile grew. “You have a scent?” I threw my hands out. “Okay, since we’re so open about other things in this family like jerking off…yes, he has a scent. It comes from his body hair…in places.” I raised my arm and pointed to my own armpit and down to my own crotch. “I like his natural scent, okay?” Olek swallowed some of his drink and grinned. “Oh. Okay.” It didn’t take long before a woman led two people into the room. One was a man in about his mid-thirties and blonde! I don’t need to tell you about that. Blue eyes. Tall at about six feet and thin in his nice blue suit. Not a bad looking man. The woman had to be Helga. She was pretty. I need to explain this…she was in her late thirties with dark brown hair and about five feet and eight inches tall. Green eyes. She was pretty. I would find out later, that she played it down! She wore glasses! Nothing against being able to see, but the frames were those bigger ones, brown and the style wasn’t bad, but it didn’t add to her face! Her hair was combed and clean, but not one of those complicated styles that woman have sometimes. She wore a little lipstick and maybe some eyeshadow, but that was it! Her dress was not bad, but…again…I would learn she learned to dress this way! She wanted people to listen to her, she was smart and not concentrating on her looks made people take her more seriously. I was beginning to like her! And she hadn’t even spoken yet! Then again, I liked complications! “Are we late, You Majesty?” Helga asked in Makarovian! Well, it was more Ukrainian, but she was trying. “Of course not, Dr. Schneider.” Olek said in English as he smiled coming to her, taking her hand, but hardly shaking it…more holding it. “It’s good to see you, but please. I’m Olek. We can drop the titles, okay? And since we’re all fluent in English?” He looked at the other man. “Do you speak English?” The man gave a quick nod. “Of course, Your Majesty.” Helga smiled and touched Georg. “This is George Meier, he’s one of my crew.” She waved at Olek. “This is King Olek Ivanov.” The man shook Olek’s hand and gave a sharp bow of his head only Germans seemed to give. “It’s an honor, Your Majesty.” He knew Olek’s invitation to call him Olek was really for Helga. Olek waved to us. “My brothers Peter Ivanov and his fiancé, Eric Richards.” Helga shook both our hands, but stopped when she got to me. “Your brother told me about what you found.” She said and I watched as emotion came on her face. Sorrow, regret and it was sincere. “I am so, so sorry about what my people did then. Nothing like that should have ever have happened.” I nodded and smiled at her. “I agree, but every country has things we have done in the past that we shouldn’t have. Our shame is slavery.” Georg didn’t know about this. “What? What happened?” So, I explained to him about the written testimonies and recordings the citizens of Makarovia had left when they fled Germany and Western Europe and finally told what happened. Georg’s eyes widened, then his eyebrows came together. He was getting angry. “And what are you doing with these…testimonies?” Georg asked testily. “They go on our new Website. The letters and pictures…names…” I answered. “I hope that even the verbal testimonies will go on there. I have recordings taken back then. Everyone can hear it in the people’s own voices.” “Why!?” Georg balked. “Because it happened!” I shot back. “Forgetting means it can happen again! It won’t if we remind people!” Helga nodded. “I think that marvelous. I can’t express how despicable what they did was…words can’t even come close. I am so sorry.” That’s when Georg shouted. “Warum entschuldigst du dich? Zu Ihnen!? Nichts geschah mit Ihnen, außerdem waren diese Männer kriminelle!” Helga spun on Georg angrily. “English Georg!! I want you to say what you just said in English!!” Georg turned away fuming, but he turned back. “I said, Why are you apologizing. Nothing happened to them, besides these men were criminals.” Helga shook her head. “They were not criminals!! They were human beings!” She shook her head. “The reason you don’t see it, is because it didn’t happen in your family. It did mine! Half of my cousins are Jewish!” I groaned know she understood more than I did about the suffering. “The Jews; how many were killed?” “Between five and six million.” Helga said sadly. “Nearly ten million taken to camps.” I shook my head. “Five or six million deaths.” I shrugged. “We only had a hundred thousand.” “But how many survived?” Helga asked, but didn’t wait for the answer. “Four thousand! That’s it! Not even half!!” “So, you’re Jewish?” I asked grinning at the idea of adding that to the mixture of Makarovian blood of the royal line. “Not a drop.” Helga sighed sadly. “My grandfather’s brother married a Jewish girl during those times. They hid her family once they started bringing them in and kept it secret from the SS. The next generations married others of the Hebrew faith. My Aunt, dad’s sister married a Jewish man.” She turned angrily to Georg. “Many of my cousins are Jewish!” “But if this comes out, it will just bring shame to Germany!” Georg protested. “My father said all those in the concentration camps were criminals. Nobody around there knew what was going on in the camps.” “BullSHIT!” Helga shouted back and even Georg backed away at the venomous look in her eyes. She learned that English very well. “They knew! They all knew. They knew the white grey stuff wasn’t snow! They most certainly knew, but they didn’t care, because it wasn’t about them.” She shook her head. “No. If you don’t want to be here, fine. I’m sure we can find someone else to help out. Those poor men that came here during that horrible time…thank GOD they had people willing to hide and shelter them. It will bring shame to Germany and Germany should be. I am German with no Jewish blood at all and I am very, very ashamed.” She waved at me and Peter. “These men are getting married, Georg. Is that a crime?” The fear he could lose his job he didn’t answer honestly. “I prefer truth, Georg.” I said quietly. “If you have a problem with it, just say so. You won’t be ousted from Makarovia because of what you think. You may be uncomfortable here as gays are everywhere in Makarovia, but pray, like I do every day…Olek is here alive and well a while,” I looked at Olek, “and you better be.” I pointed at Olek who nodded smiling back with a little wave, “because if he isn’t.” I pointed to Peter. “He will be the one to speak to about anything Makarovian. Including the uranium.” Georg swallowed audibly. “It’s just…not…natural.” Peter nodded. “Then get to know us. You’ll see it’s very natural.” “You don’t fit together.” Georg said. Olek chuckled. “Then you really do need to get to know them, they do most definitely fit together.” Then he grinned as he would often understand what you said perfectly, but he would say it again saying what was really said. “Oh, you mean physically fit.” He shrugged. “To get that information, you will have to get to know them pretty damned well before they tell you they tell you that. I say they do from what I overhear occasionally.” He waved at us. “Only when passing by…twice…loud.” Now, it was my turn to blush. “Sorry.” “Don’t be.” Olek grinned. “I’m jealous!” Helga turned to me. “If there’s anything I can help with…I know you don’t speak German, but I can help with the translations.” She offered. “I mean it. Anything at all needed.” I did like her! Georg would be tough. I won David over because he was willing to change. Would Georg be willing to change? “Thank you.” I said and hugged her. You know I like those. That evening Peter and I didn’t do anything, but were ourselves. The touches and the occasional kiss. Georg would simply have to adjust.
  13. Chapter 23

    I still had the new website to deal with and this was going to be an ongoing project. The three photographers were showing me the numerous photos. Daryl was the nature guy and he had some beautiful pictures of everything from wildlife like deer and some butterflies. Kenny had pictures of the mountainous landscapes he took showed some majesty and beauty. There were forests here in Makarovia which showed up beautifully with green foliage and even a squirrel eating whatever. But Becky’s pictures…I marveled at the photos that showed a happy, working and diverse people. Becky was good at both candid shots and posed shots, showing many families…and couples that were both male and both female, but also the many other families that were families containing a mother, father and children. What was interesting was the numbers…and I’m sorry again, but East Europeans had particular manners and behaviors that are different than other places in the world…well like the way they classify everything in the West in one lump from England, Germany and others…North America made up of both Canada and the United States…for instance, in going down a row of seated people at a theater, a colosseum, at a play or concert…never ever would an Eastern European man even consider leaning forward to lessen the room needed to get through by turning his butt to you even if the seats in front of him were empty, that would be a huge social blunder! I bring that up, because of our numbers were because behaviors are a lot times…are learned. There were only a few that would I have considered effeminate by action or speech. Most of the homosexuals here didn’t gush, call each other girl friend or anything like that. Again! I don’t think any of them thought about it…don’t hate me if you are, they just weren’t…fabulous. We emulate what we see and it becomes part of ourselves, but…most of the ones effeminate were not Eastern European, but were from the West! Not that I’m saying you should or shouldn’t be, but most of that was learned! Most of the guys were just…guys. I’d taken some of those various tests before…to see how gay I was. Other than my musical tastes…as in loving Broadway shows…not liking competitive sports…I was surprised when I discovered just how gay I was. However, my aversion to all things shopping when it came to what I wore brought those numbers to the straight side. I admit to liking that part. Wrong? Yes, but here I am. I was struggling at that time, so give me a break. Peter scored low on the gay scale, too, which is why I probably was attracted to him. The gay men in Makarovia scored very low on the gay side. Peter was right; there were some crossdressers, but again…not many. There were some that I was surprised were really female. I’d heard of bull-dykes, but...again, not many. One couple surprised me when I met them because I was guilty of stereotyping myself. There was a couple…married, who I swore the pretty woman had a nice-looking husband! I mean she was her husband! Her husband was a she! I mean, he was…it was a man whether or not this man had a dick or not! Only to find out she was one of those…butch lesbians. I was surprised! How did I miss that!? I told myself, I wasn’t involved with the marriage, why should it matter!? I’m guilty! The total population was pretty much fifty-five to forty-five percent. Fifty- five percent were regular heterosexual people. Forty-five percent were gay. Almost half of the population was homosexual! Now, of that forty-five percent…take them as a whole…and sorry again ladies…only about thirty percent of that total number of homosexuals that was lesbian. It was the men who were arrested the most. No, there were women arrested, and they did suffer, but their punishment was not always as severe! Women were fixable. They are non-sexual beings. Lesbian they tried to cure by making them have sex with the gay men. They were forced to serve the SS and administrators in camp brothels. The lifetime expectancy in a brothel was six months. No happy ending for anyone. There were rapes of women, but one hundred thousand men were interned in these camps. Many men were raped! Sexual discrimination even by oppressors was reflected in that number. It seemed if a man was caught with another man…if he was giving the other man his cock up the other’s ass, he suffered less, though I’m not sure how that was measured or could be measured. The man who enjoyed taking it up the ass got it worse! It seemed where you put your cock was less important if you didn’t bottom. How I found out was when I was looking for some history about these people and how Makarovia became what it was. A sanctuary. I asked Olek who sent me to the archives. That was another room I didn’t know about. He told me where I needed to go. Arriving there, I saw shelves of books and papers around. Stacked neatly and labeled as what they are. As I was looking, Gretchen a dark-haired woman in her mid-thirties passed by this unoccupied room, glanced in when she saw someone in it. “Can I help you find something, Your Lordship?” I stiffened at the use of the titles. “Yes, you can. First, I know there are protocols and procedures…I appreciate that, but is it possible to call me Eric?” Gretchen laughed knowing what I preferred. “It is possible.” “I’m looking into the history of Makarovia.” I said. “Specifically, about those you hid here.” Gretchen nodded. “Certainly.” She motioned for me to follow and led me to another room where there were the numerous wooden filing cabinets all labeled. “There was a project that began about 1994 or 95 where a historian came to do a book.” She shook her head. “Actually, it started in the 1950s, but…unfortunately, the historian passed away before he got too far.” She gave a said sigh and shrug. “Until communism fell apart in Russia, we kept things secure in the mines to keep eyes from just happening on them. It is one thing to know they are here, but another to have documentation about them with names and histories. That part of the project began in the mid-1950’s to assist with the healing, but we didn’t want the Soviets to get to these records.” She looked at me hoping I’d understand. “In 1994 is when Henry Brown came and asked about us. The writer was also American.” “Really?” “If he was allowed to look at the files and stay here at the palace…he was going to put them on computer disks.” She waved to a desk and walked over to some drawers which she opened. She picked up a plastic container with these diskettes. “Here is what he got through. Then there was King Olek the First’s death and the discovery of the uranium and…” she smiled giving me the file disks. “…but it’s here. There are more letters in those drawers over here.” She opened a drawer again and pulled out some large, wrapped envelopes. “In here are the original handwritten letters, translated in Makarovian. When Henry died unexpectedly and the changes here politically…this sort of went to the side and was forgotten. It’s all here.” “Thank you, Gretchen.” “Certainly, My L-“ “Gretchen.” I groused lightly looking at her. “Do we have a computer that will read a diskette like these?” “That I can’t help you with.” Gretchen said. “But there are still some original letters in there.” I nodded. “Thank you.” I tapped the box of diskettes against my chin. “I wonder if David knows where I can get these read? All the disks now are CDs or those memory sticks.” There was a desk with a chair which I sat and opened an envelope, I saw the original letter which was in German and the Makarovian translation and opened it. What I read…after the first couple of sentences, I began to sit up more. It was translation was written in Makarovian, but…this was a firsthand account of some things and all of them were real. This one was a man who identified himself as Fritz. Stealing a German Youth uniform, he was under twenty and he went to rescue his lover who was being sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. He lover was Jewish! His lover refused to leave without his parents and family, his lover was killed with his family, but Fritz survived and fled a long way and just happening on Makarovia. I turned to the next letter and was caught again in the words. I read accounts of fingernails torn off. Bowels ruptured when a victim was raped by a gun! A rifle! Yet, I kept reading. As ghastly as the writings were about…I couldn’t stop reading them! I was sick like I might throw up on more than a few of them. In a camp one recalled for the need for a public execution…who they chose he was not a man, he was a boy! He was only eighteen years old!!! The man that wrote this letter knew him and could do nothing but watch as guards stripped the boy, put a bucket over his head and repeatedly banged on it, released trained German Shepherd dogs where he was forced to watch this boy mauled and literally torn apart! On that, I did sort of throw up, not a lot, but I tasted it. I knew why the pages were beginning to get blurry, but I read more. Account after account of rapes by the Nazi troopers sodomizing men with…yes, their own dicks, but also with objects like the gun or clubs or even a big fork where the prongs tore apart his insides…and even splintery wooden post!! These poor men were less than those held as criminals, asocial or Roma…the gypsies! Then one I read where one of two lovers was raped again and again, breaking through the bowels and he would have bled to death! It was only because of a sudden fire they had to stop and his lover took the chance and got them both away and the weather was nicer at that time and his lover kept him alive and cared for him until they got to Makarovia moving at night. I cried reading this account of this man…what they did to him…his lover and he escaped and came to Makarovia where they were hidden and then after the war welcomed to remain and even married. Yes. Legally married in Makarovia in 1948! Before it was legal in any country! They lived another thirty years together, but their account broke my heart as I just…wept. This wasn’t just a sad movie or song, this really happened. I mean, I didn’t even try to stop. These men earned my tears, they deserved those tears and I gave them freely. This one time, there was no one-upping anybody on anything on who suffered most! All of them suffered! They didn’t have to. Peter and I would be in trouble as we liked to do both! None of its fair, I know. Horrible. How dare we love someone that shares our gender! How dare we challenge what determined what a man is because we liked to bottom, as well as top!? Men are to fuck, men didn’t get fucked! I was pissed off!!! Outraged! I was furious!!! Peter and I loved each other!! No one deserved any of this!! Who cares if we’re the same gender!? When I was sniffing wiping my face from the tears and just lowered my head to the desk…that was when Peter came in where I had been reading. “Olek said...” Peter said to he was told to find me…saw me in a different room and saw the tears and was at my side instantly pulling me in up in an embrace. “My God, what’s wrong?” I was up hugging him tightly, but waved the document I had in my hand. “This!” I said in tears. “This is horrible! Just horrible!!” Peter looked and took the document and read quickly. “Oh, my god.” He read and now he had to sit down like I had. He read more. “This is…horrible.” I waved at the letters, yellowed with age, but still there. “There are more! A lot more. All Makarovians that escaped during World War II!!” Peter gathered some and read quickly. “How can anyone…” he shook his head as he read. “Those people who did this weren’t human!” I shook my head. “This…” I said wiping my face again, “has to be on the website. These people…are what made Makarovia what it is!” I said. I looked at the other documents. “They kept these and recorded these accounts…why?” “To let people know.” “And that’s just what we’ll do.” I nodded. “That’s just what we’ll do. All of these letters…testimonials and other events will be entered and they will at last have a voice!” I looked as Peter read briefly another. “Right now, Olek better keep those…Germans…away from me. I’m liable to take their throats.” “This was almost a century ago…they didn’t do it.” Peter said weakly. I nodded. “A distinction I can’t do right now.” I looked at Peter, smiling as I wiped a tear from his face. “So, tell me.” I waved at the letters. “These men are dead now. At one time, I think the population was more than half homosexual. Where are all these other men coming from?” Peter smiled. “Well, the Nazis weren’t the only ones that made gay men suffer. There was Russia…and still is. The various countries that made up the USSR also suffered, most of the ones here now came from them.” I sighed. “Olek should worry about all those other countries sending them now.” Then I frowned. “Are there people that identify as Islamic here?” Peter shook his head. “Not really. Sure, they are persecuted, but they just don’t know about us yet.” “Well, they will soon.” I said sadly gathering the letters. “These need to be kept safe…protected.” I frowned at a tear I’d let fall on one. “This can’t happen again, just touching and reading like this. We need to scan them.” I tapped the letters. “No, this horror…can not happen again. I mean, this whole Holocaust will never happen again to anyone.” We walked back to where Olek had an office. He looked up smiling, but then looked at our faces, swollen red eyes and he rose, concern in his eyes. “What?” I shook my head and waved at the box of letters. “This is what’s wrong. In here are testimonies of eye witnesses from the many Makarovians that came during World War II.” I took out a couple of letters and gave them to Olek. “After this, they need to be sealed, but…” I waved at the letters. Before even five minutes had passed, Olek was doing what we had done. Wiping his face of the tears he shook his head. “I knew it was bad.” He said clearing his throat. “I just never knew how bad it was.” I nodded. “These were our people.” I said softly. “I don’t mean homosexual, but they became Makarovians. Don’t you think these need to be put on our website?” Olek nodded. “Absolutely.” He stood. “No one will wonder how we came about. If anything, other countries will read these and wonder why the hell weren’t their countries didn’t do the same as Makarovia did!” I held up the plastic container of diskettes. “Do you know where anyone has a computer that reads these?” Olek smiled as he took the diskettes. “We don’t throw anything away in Makarovia. I know we have one or two around.” He came around his desk and wrapped his arms around both of us. “You know…you two are the most important people to me.” He said kissing Peter on his face near his temple, then me. “I love you.” He smiled. “Never will I allow anyone to do that to others, especially, not you two.” Peter and I smiled back and said. “We know.”
  14. Chapter 22

    Hugging Peter, I smiled at him. “Now, the fun begins.” Peter said as we looked out at the many smiling faces still applauding. I was seeing my grandmother who was smiling, but using a handkerchief around her eyes. Next to her were Wayne and Drew who were applauding hard. Then I looked at the many strange faces of the others from Makarovia. People I would meet later. Then I saw…my eyes widened and I didn’t believe it. There were those from England here, but…there was the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson! Beside her was Prince Andrew! They were both smiling and clapping with everyone else! That was one monarchy I hadn’t even given a thought would be here! “But she…” I gaped at the woman in disbelief. “I mean, I thought…” Peter frowned and looked where I was looking. “What?” “They’re divorced!” I finally got out. Peter then saw who I was speaking about. “That doesn’t mean they aren’t together. Haven’t you wondered why they never remarried anyone else?” I looked at all the people here. “We should have just done the wedding.” I smiled. “We covered almost everything except the vows…which we pretty much did.” Peter grinned. “We do everything else. We only missing the legal part.” He pressed his forehead against mine. Olek came behind me. “That was some great words you gave, Eric.” “I meant them.” I told him. “I know you do.” Queen Alla said joining us. “Thanks, Mom.” Yes, I was getting used to calling her that. I guess I feeling more comfortable with her. She was a Queen! Olek I knew as Olek after the first meeting…and I even saw him completely naked, so the armor was a little tarnished where he was concerned. He was just…Olek to me. Now, came the meet thing. A reception line where I greeted all those that attended; meeting mayors of the townships and villages. Then all the others from various countries. David Burke walked up with his wife’s arm in his. There was another kiss, but not with David. I kissed Helen on the cheek. “I’m very happy for you, Eric.” Helen smiled. David leaned forward and said quietly like he was going ask me secretly. “You two are pretty much married now, right?” I waved at David to Peter. “See!? That’s what I said!” Peter laughed and nodded. “It’s a tradition. We’re together now, aren’t we?” “We are pretty well married.” I nodded as Edmond Hammond came up next with his wife. Olek shook the General’s hand as they hadn’t gotten to us yet, but I overheard Olek ask. “What about that car bomb? Anything new?” General Hammond sighed shaking his head looking away. “I can’t tell you how sorry that happened.” He patted his wife’s hand a looked again at Olek. “They were some confused young men. Their families came to England and their parents became citizens before they were even born! They are citizens by birth. They were…” he thought of the best way to say it, “trying to get in with some more radical Islamic organizations to further this jihad they seem to want to wage.” He sighed. “They were trying to win favor with some of the more hardcore terrorists groups and thought this was the best way to win that favor after seeing what they had done and be welcomed with open arms as heroes.” He chuckled. “They weren’t very good at it. That bomb went off too soon and outside the gate.” He looked at the palace. “Not that they would have gotten in…and even if they did…as thick as the walls are…” I moved nearer to them. “So, it wasn’t a real terrorist attack?” Edmond looked, smiled and shook his head. “Little boys with big ideas and not a lot of sense, My Lord.” My eyes widened. “My Lord!?” Edmond chuckled. “You’re an Earl now. That’s the address for someone with your title.” I grimaced. “Okay, do you prefer Ed or Eddie? All these titles! Call me that again and I’ll choose one!” Edmond laughed even harder. “You’re the Earl!” He moved his wife up. “And this…” he presented proudly, “is my wife Eloise. Peter Ivanov and Eric Richards.” “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” The woman greeted us holding her hand out. I took the hand and, not to be outshone by Peter and how he greeted grandma the first time, did the hand kissing thing which Mrs. Hammond giggled slightly getting. “It’s great to have friends here. Your husband is most definitely a good friend, I hope we will be, too.” “I’m sure we will be.” She said. Before Edmond walked away, I stopped him and leaned in to whisper. “I was impressed last night. You talk like an aristocrat, but last night…that was some right-handed punch!” I squeezed his arm over his arm muscle. “That was pretty awesome.” He grinned. “There are times when a gentleman can’t be a gentleman.” He held up his free left arm and balled his fist. “My left isn’t too bad, either.” He winked at me. He was back to being grandpa…a badass grandpa with a killer punch! Knocked the guy out with one punch! Soon, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson came up. “That was an interesting tradition, My Lord.” Prince Andrew said smiling. I inwardly groaned. “It is. I’m still getting used to this…the titles, Your Highness.” Sarah chuckled. “It does take a while, but you seem to be holding up well.” “I admit to being surprised seeing you here.” I said I held my tongue before I said: together. Prince Andrew smiled. “My nephew would be here, but he honestly had a conflict he couldn’t get out of.” “He’s king and therefore busy.” I nodded. “The British Monarchy is changing with Wills as King, but there are still obligations.” Prince Andrew explained as he looked at Peter. “I was second in line for a while, it can be…challenging. I see you seem to have found your place in this.” “I didn’t help you.” Sarah said to Prince Andrew, but smiled at him. “I wasn’t ready for it.” She looked at me. “You seem to just fine. How old are you?” “Twenty-five.” I answered. “I was about the same age as you are now when I married this prince. You seem to be doing very well.” She smiled. “You know everyone will see this?” I said pointing at them. “You’ll be seen…together.” “They will.” Prince Andrew laughed lightly. “We never really broke up actually. We did have to separate for a while, but she is the mother of our children and we often got together. It just sort of…worked out for the better.” “The divorce was more for…” she looked at Prince Andrew, “appearances.” “It was just easier.” Prince Andrew said. “Now that they’ll see us together,” He shrugged. “But this wedding that is shaking things up.” He smiled at Sarah. “Mum would never have entertained the very idea.” “I know.” Sarah laughed and changed into a fair imitation of her ex-mother-in-law. “That simply isn’t done!” I noticed others there I wasn’t so sure about. Let me just say, I knew that saris on a couple of women with men that were from India or that area obviously. They weren’t gay friendly from what I understood. Coming to the proposal was not discouraged, but more in their favor from Makarovia by being here. There was a limit on space even in this big room. They must have been okay with something here. Olek had explained before…we have what they want. They won’t dare say a word against us. We had a dinner the night before, but now there was kind of a party. With limited space there was no live band or anything, but there was music and there was dancing. A proposal reception? Why not? There were invitations from others by others to me and Peter, which we accepted and danced with them. I was even asked to dance with Queen Alla herself! I even danced with Olek! He was pretty good, but not Peter. I knew he would lead, so… While after finishing one dance, I was waiting for Peter, who finished, but asked by another person…my grandmother came up to me. “When he’s finished, you can dance with him, but can I have one?” She asked smiled holding her arms out. “Anytime.” I smiled holding out my arms. “If I remember how to lead.” “I taught you to dance at five.” She smiled. “I knew you’d be good at it. I’m sure it will come back.” As we danced, I noticed her looking at the various news crews and reporters. “I know you’re very happy with Peter.” She said. “He’s very good man, but are you going to be happy here…in Makarovia?” “This is Peter’s home. We’re joining our lives, so it’s my home, too.” “From what I’ve heard…this is going to a trying time for them…I mean for all of Makarovia, meaning specifically, it will be hard work for you.” Grandma said to me and saw the puzzled look on my face. “No, I have no doubt you can do it, but…” “But?” “I sense something…” she said looking at Peter. “I heard what you said about the past with him. I know he’s a sensitive man. I also know he has strong sense of duty. This acne thing was pretty devastating for him. There are times I get the feeling he lacks confidence…and he withdraws...” “It was a very hard time in his life. He’d lost his father and then when self-worth is doubted in adolescence…” I nodded. “He had a hard time adjusting and he does at times, but he’s getting better. It left some emotional scars.” “He got through it, because of you.” She sighed. “There’s nothing sexier than a damaged soul, feeling that you’re needed. He needs you. Are you going to be there all those times?” I waved at the raised area. “I told the whole world I would, but mostly to Peter.” “I know.” She nodded. “He depends on you, but he may become overly dependent on you. Almost codependent.” I know my head went back a little on that. “He isn’t!” “No, he’s not yet.” She agreed. “You know what I’m talking about. He can become so reliant on you for his image of himself because of you.” She stopped dancing. “Just make sure this doesn’t become a one-sided relationship. Otherwise, you will feel trapped.” I shook my head. “But he’s not. He depends on me, yes, but I don’t enable him for things…he doesn’t do drugs or alcohol.” She shook her head. “No, but I’ve watched you and heard what you’ve said. He was in trouble, he had acne, he lacked good self-esteem, he needs you…you’re a rescuer.” I was surprised. “Grandma!” She nodded patting my shoulder and hugged me. “I’m just saying, be careful. You don’t want this to become a one-sided relationship. Just be sure, he’s giving as much to you…as you do for him.” She smiled. “He loves you and I know you love him, but just watch he doesn’t become…too dependent.” She kissed me on the cheek. “He should think of you just as much.” “Why are you saying this?” I asked. She chuckled. “Because like I said, you take a lot from your grandfather, but you also take a lot from me. I bet you even have the rule.” “Rule?” “When you ask what’s on his mind, you want an answer.” She said smiling. I nodded. “We did that almost at the very beginning.” I smiled. “See!?” She waved. “That came from me! But you need to do the same thing. If you’re feeling something…tell him. If you’re feeling even just a little disconnected…tell him. Be as honest with him as you want him to be with you. Your grandfather and I had a very good marriage. It was solid, he could tell me anything, but I knew I could tell him anything. Even if I just felt the need to reconnect with him by making love, which he had no problem with making a reconnection.” She chuckled. “You make sure to meet his needs, but make sure he knows your needs and he knows what you want. Just because he knows you, doesn’t mean he can read your mind. Talk to him.” That’s when Peter tapped grandma on the shoulder and smiled at me. “Excuse me, Grandma, but can Eric and I have at least have one dance together?” Peter asked. Grandma smiled at Peter. “I think that would be fine.” She kissed him on the cheek and as she was about to walk away she turned to me. “Just think about it.” I nodded as I grinned at Peter. “I am marrying you. We dance all the time, but sure…let’s go and show them how we do it in Makarovia.” The music was varied, but once we got on the dance floor…naturally the music changed to a slow song. Again, we’d done this many times so we just started…dancing. Since we were in Makarovia we were not the only same gendered couple dancing. “How are you holding up?” I asked. Peter looked surprised. “Me!? How are you holding up?” “I’m fine.” I smiled. “Why wouldn’t I be? I was just proposed to by a devastatingly handsome prince where everyone with a TV can see it!” I looked at him. “As long as we keep talking, we’ll be fine. Remember our rule?” Peter nodded. “Part of that rule I hadn’t complied with.” I confessed. Peter looked surprised. “You haven’t?” I shook my head. “I need to be telling you more how I feel. I haven’t always. I will, starting now.” Peter smiled. “You are big on feelings.” “Sure.” I nodded. “I entertained the idea of going into Psychology. I told you that, but I thought the environmental issues needed to be addressed more. The human psyche is fascinating to me. I used to read about it all the time and what I found was most problems come when people don’t talk about what’s on their minds or how they feel. It doesn’t matter if they are important or not…” I grinned at Peter, “or silly. They are what you’re feeling. So, talk about it.” I kissed him gently. “If I feel anything…you’ll know from now on. What I feel mostly now is…good. It could be overwhelming. It’s not, it is intense, but it’s good.” Peter nodded kissing me again. “I’m here.” “I will say, I feel very confident about us…as couple.” That night, I did tell him what I needed. “I love our passion, I love you more than anything, but I need you right now. I need you to touch me and to love me.” I smiled touching his face gently. “We are connected, but I need you to make love to me, gently and with love…calmly and slow. I need you.” (Okay, to set this important mood. Listen to “Let Me Love You” by Gay Boy Magia while you read. I’m big into music. Or copy and enter this! https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q="Let+me+Love+you"+by+gay+boy+magia&view=detail&mid=B80FE595B3BDD49933DBB80FE595B3BDD49933DB&FORM=VIRE Peter smiled kissing me gently. “You’ve got me. Anyway and anytime you need me.” Like I’ve said before; explosive passion is great when you’re gasping and trying to regulate your heart! I love that, but, to me, there’s nothing better than the slow, loving presence of the person you cherish the most. He was solid, in my arms, against me and I loved him. There was not a shred of doubt knowing: He Truly Loved Me. After the proposal, everything sort of went back to the way it was. My grandmother had to go back to Asheville making us promise to have her come to Boston when we got back. She still had a business to run. Wayne and Drew had to return to London, but swore they’d be back soon and Drew said he’d have more questions to ask in the future. The news crews had to return. By Monday morning things at the palace was returning to normal. There was less noise. We came down for breakfast to find Olek dining alone. “Where’s Mom?” Peter asked as we sat near Olek. “She’s having to go to a breakfast with some officers’ wives in Skoal.” Olek said rolling his eyes, but chuckled. “I’ll deal with negotiations from potential hostile powers rather than face that!” I frowned. “I wished we’d known. I was planning to go to Skoal myself to talk more with Generals Burke and Hammond.” “Not because I’m concerned you’ll need help or anything, but why?” Olek asked. “These military people are here to protect Makarovia from potential threats and invaders. They have personnel here that should be used. From what I’ve been told about the winters here, you need help.” Olek frowned. “I don’t want to be dependent on them.” “Why shouldn’t we?” I asked. “We’re giving both major countries, the US and Great Britain, a good part of the uranium. That should be earned. They can say no, but I don’t think they will. Both David and Edmond said they have enough personnel to help build the terrace farms and greenhouses…even asked for things to be given to them for something to do. Why not ask for help getting the areas covered that are remote? In the worst weather, they can probably help clear the areas in the townships if for no other reason than to help themselves.” Olek nodded with a grudging shrug. “You can ask. We’ve always done things ourselves.” I nodded. “When you have the manpower…now, there are more men and women who will need something to do! Why not?” Peter smiled as his brother gave a nod still not certain. “So, what are you doing today?” Olek grunted. “I meet with the German portion of our guests.” He smiled at little bitterly. “They are helping us.” He said a little testy. “But if I hear one more,” his voice lowered, “Das ist nicht hinnehmbar! I’ll be fine.” I chuckled. “Sorry what did that mean?” “This is unacceptable!” Olek translated. “We’re all friends, right?” “Right.” I nodded. I knew he spoke German. Then he smiled. “But now, we have the upper hand. If they want even a little of what we’ve got, they will have to compromise.” He looked seriously at me. “That’s a word they don’t seem to understand sometimes.” He returned to his breakfast. “You guys will be moving when you get back to Boston.” Peter looked up. “Why? I was beginning to like where we were.” He grinned looking at me. “I was even going to put the hockey stick in the corner.” I squeezed his hand. “They’ll have corners at this new place, I’m sure.” I said bumping my head against his. “I was home.” Peter said. “With you.” “And I’ll be wherever we are.” Olek gave a shrugging nod. “You need a bigger place. Since the televised proposal, you two are very known now. Everyone will be trying to talk to you and follow you around. You’ll need more security and therefore more room.” He sighed. “Besides, your President thinks it’s the best course of action.” Peter nodded. “Do you have any idea where that will be?” Olek shook his head. “Not yet, Boris and Yuri will be heading up the move. I did stipulate that it needed to be near the University. That’s all.” “Have you seen any of the broadcasts of the proposal?” I asked. Again Olek shook his head. “Not yet, but it was on the news last night in England and the United States as a report. It’s been recorded if you want to see them.” He looked at me. “Life as you knew it; is gone.” I nodded. “I knew this would happen.” I smiled. “And I don’t regret a moment.” We did see the news coverage from the BBC, CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN. It was purely presented as what it was. A prince proposed to an American male; nothing about the significance. Though, I did note that Louis Garner was presenting his version as a simple matter of happened fact. Nothing about the fay, fag or fairy shit. I knew Drew would cover that part. We drove…or rather, Peter drove to Skoal. I didn’t have a license here. Peter looked at me with the “really?” look when I said that. “No one would give you a ticket here.” Peter said and he thought. “I don’t know that they give tickets here. I’m sure they must, somebody’s run a red light or something, but this country isn’t overrun with cars.” I waved at the driver’s side, which was on the correct side for US drivers. It was an American made car. “Just drive. You’ve only done it a couple of times in a year. You have to miss it.” Peter thought and shook his head frowning. “No. Not really.” At the Base, we went toward the temporary offices for Headquarters. Things were shaping up! The area around the Base was clear of trash, there was even an Airman mowing grass! In this hilly and rocky soil, that was proving tricky. I only heard the man cuss once as the lawn mower died in some thick grass. Apparently, it had happened before was why he reacted. Being hilly, having a smooth lawn was difficult to even start a lawn, much less maintain. The Base was shaping up more as it was developing a more…permanent appearance for this group of temporary quarters. Entering the offices, it was…just that! An office. Phones rang, people were talking on the phone and typing on computers. A young man with an arm that had three stripes, but no star…a Senior Airman looked up and his eyes widened. “Your Highnesses!” He said in awe as he rose quickly. “Here we go again.” I muttered to Peter. “Just go with it.” Peter said back quietly as we approached the desk. “Is General Burke and General Hammond in?” The Airman nodded. “Certainly, right in there.” He waved to a door behind him. Going in, they were doing things a general does. A map open they were poring over and discussing something. Both looked up and smiled at us. “Peter, Eric! Good to see you!” David greeted getting up. Edmond looked and I saw his eyes almost glisten when he bowed slightly. “Your Highness. My Lord.” My eyes narrowed. “Okay, Eddie! I told you, I’d choose one. What irritates me; is you did that on purpose.” Edmond laughed and nodded. “I did.” He admitted. David chuckled. “Well, since you’re here, come look at these plans.” He waved us over. Things were coming into place. David and Edmond showed us areas they thought best for the greenhouses and terrace farms which would be both. Not those glassed in ones, but just simple heavy plastic to insulate against colder weather and stretching the growing season. There were area that were a lot like around the Base that was rocky, they showed us plans to build greenhouses there. I spoke to them about the future months and what they had planned for the Base when it got cold. When they told me, I asked if they would consider doing that on a grander scale and they agreed instantly they would do that. By dinner time that afternoon, we had a lot planned, now we just had to do it. This was working!
  15. Chapter 21

    “Things here are far from perfect.” Peter said carefully. “It’s no utopia.” “No, of course it isn’t.” I nodded. “There are people who live here that might not be nice at all.” I shrugged. “I’m sure there is.” “There are problems here.” Queen Alla began, “in the cities and towns…it is easier, but there are some…” she stopped. Olek nodded. “There are some in the more remote parts of Makarovia…hard to believe, but true. They are…what’s the word for,” Olek paused thinking, “Пустельник, in English?” “Hermit.” I said. “Thank you.” Olek grinned. “…there are some that are almost hermits. Winter comes and we don’t see or hear from them until Spring. Some die. There are families that have issues…we see abuse of all kinds. They get stuck in their homes for weeks…” Again, he was looking for a word. “Cabin fever?” I asked. “Yes.” Olek sighed sadly. “The crimes are not that many. My people were busy.” He waved to the small windows at the top of the room. “Now, the weather is nice. That’s when everyone prepares for the times the weather isn’t nice. They must prepare or die. Crops are planted, the hermits hunt and preserve to store. They are busy during the warmer weather because they can be cut off for months. The cities and towns are not as bad…if they get supplies, but if the supplies can’t get here…they have can’t get what we don’t have.” “Do we have anything to reach these people?” I asked. “Limited.” Olek replied. “It needs to be a sturdy…” he wasn’t getting the word again. English was another language among his collections he spoke. Makarovian, Ukrainian, Russian…he spoke English, yes, but I imagined he could speak some French and German, “those vehicles with the tracks to travel in snow.” He did his hands in circular motions to indicate an oval track. “Snowcat?” Drew grinned. “Really, Your Majesty, you’re doing fine.” Olek nodded as he pointed at Drew. “Yes. Snowcat. Thank you. I know English, but some words…” he shrugged. I nodded. “Well, I’m sure all those military people can help this Winter. They will probably be bringing in equipment to do just that.” Peter touched his brother on his hand. “Olek, Eric and I said we’d be here for you. We’ll help you out.” Olek nodded in frustration. “I know, but it will be the end of August and you two will be flying back to Northeastern. You have to get the education to help anymore in the future.” “And we will.” Peter nodded. “Surely, there are men here you trust to help you.” I more like asked, because Olek couldn’t do everything. Olek nodded. “Yes, we just have to get things in place for them to do their jobs.” “Olek.” I said. “I’ll talk with David Burke. He may be able to help more. They are here to help Makarovia. That would help Makarovia!” “General David Burke? The American?” Drew asked. Peter grinned. “Eric’s American boyfriend.” I rolled my eyes at that. “He’s straight as arrow and kissed me to make a point he’s willing to change. Don’t let Peter fool you. That’s all.” I explained why. Drew laughed. “Its good thing he did it when he did, kissing you in year means a death sentence.” He shook his head. “That sort of unwelcomed familiarity with a member of the ruling family, he could lose his head!” “It proves…people are listening.” I said. My grandmother came in and froze as we were laughing. “Okay, what did I miss?” Now it was getting closer to this…event. People were always asking if I was nervous. I wasn’t! Not yet. That day Jori came and finished my two suits. That’s right, two. He forbad me to wear the same one for the dinner and the proposal. “The dinner isn’t televised.” I argued as he pressed my lapel down. “So?” Jori said. “I have a reputation!” I looked as Peter had to try on his and I saw…he was fine, but not…quite right. He smiled, but…it sounds corny, but the light wasn’t in his eyes. “Okay, do your thing. I’ll wear them.” I said almost absently, but was still wondering about Peter. Once Jori got the measurements done and added…whatever. I changed back and walked to Peter, taking his arm. “Okay, what’s wrong?” I knew there was something, but what? Peter turned with a smile, but it faded when he saw me. “Yes, the rule.” He chuckled. “I’m not ready to talk about it.” I nodded. “Okay, but I’m here for you,” Peter gave an upwards glance and sighed. “No, don’t misunderstand me…” he took my arms and hugged me. “I want to, but…” he shook his head. “I can tell you things I never thought I could. I trust you more than anybody. I need the words…” He looked at some of the others around and motioned toward the door. “Can we go somewhere more…private?” “Do you want to go to our room?” I asked. “Sure.” Once in our room, he went to the couch in front of the fireplace and sat. Sitting beside him I waited as he sorted through his thoughts to figure out and how to say what was on his mind. “Please, understand what I’m saying.” Peter begged. “Since Olek said what he did at breakfast, I am feeling regret, guilt and…” he threw his arms out in frustration. “I don’t know!” Now, I was worried. “About?” “Olek.” “Olek?” “You will tell me my feelings are silly, but…” I pulled his face toward me to make him look at me. “I would never do that.” I assured him. “You’re having feelings. Silly or not you are having feelings.” “When Olek was talking about some of the problems with Makarovia, I felt…responsible for a lot of his pressure.” He shook his head again. “Olek feels responsible…for everything! He worries about the help we’re getting from the United States, England and the rest, but he ran the country, too. Little things like overseeing that those in the remote parts are seen and helped if needed.” “Your mother helps.” Peter nodded. “She does…with schools, medical needs and things like that, but overseeing those…” “That’s who he is.” I said simply. “I was here!! I could have helped!” Peter shouted pointing at the floor. “I mean, I was here, in this very room for years!!” He said angrily. “I should have gone to school earlier. I was twenty-five! I could be here now, have a degree and really help Olek. I wasted all those years!!” Okay, my humor kicked in. “Then we’d have a bigger problem.” “What problem?” I shrugged. “I wouldn’t be here.” Peter head went back at little as he thought. “Oh, yes, you wouldn’t be.” “I might be marrying Ted.” Peter’s eyes grew. “He’s engaged to Amanda!” He shot back. “And blonde!” I pointed out, reminding him I didn’t like them. “You know how I’m sooo attracted to them.” I said sarcastically. “You think I’m being silly.” I shook my head. “Peter, I do not! I don’t think that at all. I’ll tell you what I do see.” I smiled pulling him closer for a kiss. “You are a very smart man. You’re kind and you think of others first…I don’t know what your experiences were with what you had at twelve until recently from that condition…you were afraid, but were willing to step outside that fear and go to a school to help Olek. A country you’d never been to help. Why? Because you love Olek and Makarovia more than you were scared. Mostly Olek.” I chuckled. “Our mother told me your father was the same way. He made himself responsible for Makarovia, so does Olek. Now, you’re taking responsibility for Olek. I know you love Olek and want to help him. Don’t you think finishing your education will do that?” Peter nodded with a chuckle. “Yes. I was thinking, maybe I should stay here this Winter and help more.” “I see.” I nodded as I looked in his eyes deeper. “You could…you would help him a little for a year or so…or you can finish getting your degree and help a lot in three years.” Peter chuckled as he pressed his forehead against mine. “I told you, I was being silly.” “One more time.” I wrapped my arms around him. “How you feel, is how you feel. What you’re feeling is not silly, it just is.” I pressed my lips to his gently. “I love you, Peter. You heard what you already know Olek has done and it just…” I tapped his chest over his heart, “hit home. Regret is a part of being human…you use that regret to make sure we give Olek the help needed. The way I see it, we will have things covered. Olek handles all foreign matters, trade, your mother…” I saw him about to object, “sorry, our mother handles domestic issues like health and education, you are going to handle city development and I was assigned to oversee this new mining and new industrial issues. Keep them in line and safe.” Peter smiled as I kissed him again more intensely. “Tomorrow, you’re speaking to Makarovia.” He said to me. “Have you thought of what you’ll say? What you said at the table was good.” I nodded. “I’m not worried about public speaking, I can do that. I’m Katrina’s grandson.” I chuckled as he smiled at that. “She passed to me the lack of fear about speaking up.” Peter chuckled. Then I looked in his eyes. “Right now, you’re regretting because of what you did or didn’t do in the past.” “Self-pity.” I nodded. “You know what it is, you know what you’re doing. I guess you need to decide either stay there and just react, or take action.” Peter bowed slightly and nodded. “You’re right.” He looked at me embarrassed. “Sorry.” “Don’t be.” I smiled. “You care, not just about your brother, but your mother, me and Makarovia. You’ve a mother that loves you, a brother that loves you and a fiancé that adores you.” I kissed him again. “We’ll be fine.” Pulling him closer, he lowered us on the couch, arms just knew where to go and we again were connecting. No sudden urges, no wild passion, but just a simple gentle embrace…a cuddle as I held his warm, solid form next to me. Nothing could feel so right compared to this. “I love you, Eric.” He said burying his head against my neck and tightened his hold on me. My fingers ran through his black hair. “I know.” I said softly into his ear, kissing it. Passion is wonderful, but love…was priceless. Being close to that one person you care about more than anything or anyone is indescribable. Peter needed me. I was finding out more about this country and more about the Ivanov men. Understand, they were strong men, but somehow, this intense sense of duty was just buried so deep in their very souls. Queen Alla told me that her husband, Olek the First, had been the same way. He needed her to keep his head on straight and just to be support behind the throne. To the man her Olek was, not the king of Makarovia. I was beginning to see my role in Peter’s life was going to be the same. He was no means a weakling, he wasn’t some little shy thing cowering from bullies. He saw a need and realized he needed to do something, instead of hiding from the world. To me, that said more about him than anything. I realized, I needed him just as much. I was getting more determined that Olek get this kind of support, too. He’d been functioning for years alone. Queen Alla was here, Peter was here and I would be there for him, but he needed someone to confide in that he trusted. I could do as much as I could, but he needed a life mate! I moved as Peter moved to make himself more comfortable when there was a knock on our door. “Yes?” Peter sighed looking up from me. “Whatever you’re doing…” we heard Jori, “hurry up, we need to be ready. Dinner is in two hours. You need to put these suits on.” Peter chuckled and went to the door, straightening his hair as he opened the door. “We were just…talking.” He grinned at the tailor. “We can bath ourselves.” Jori held the suits up. “I want to make sure they look right. I have…” “…a reputation.” Both Peter and I said with him. We did bath and get dressed. Jori had to make sure…they hung right? What? He measured both of us dozens of times. It was fine! Going downstairs, now the palace great area was filling with people coming for the dinner. This was not even the event, but just a dinner to welcome those coming for the event. Makarovians and many other countries were here and many languages could be heard as the hum of conversations could be heard. The people of Makarovia were not rich, but they dressed as well as they could. Some suits were nice, some showed age. Some were not fitting well as they may have been borrowed. Ladies in dresses and the delightful sound of those many conversations carried up as we took the main stairs down. There were some uniforms there, the blue of the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force and one German and French. I spotted General David Burke and Helen Burke, General Edmond Hammond and I spotted a grey haired woman next to him I knew had to be Eloise. I saw Drew Humphries and Wayne Jenkins standing near them, hands joined just like Peter’s and mine were. Getting to the floor area, I heard. “My GOD!!” Turning I saw my grandmother walk over in a nice dark blue gown, her face showed shock. “Grandma?” I asked surprised. She walked over and pulled my arm out as she shook her head. “I knew this…but…” her eyes started to tear, “you always did, but…you look just like your grandfather! I mean, the spitting image!!” She smiled. “Your father is there, too, but…dressed like that. You look like Theodore…so, handsome!” I grinned. “Thanks. Grandpa was a handsome man.” I hugged her. Grandma looked at Peter. “Both of you! Handsome, handsome, handsome!” “Thank you.” Peter bowed slightly. “You look lovely.” Then, no one expected it, but there was…a boom. Muffled by distance, but it was a boom and heard. Not in the palace, but it sounded close…somewhere outside. Conversations stopped and all heads turned toward the sound which told us…nothing. “What was that?” Grandmother asked no one. “I’m sure we’ll find out.” Peter in reply to no one. He looked as no one was too worried and we were asked to go on to dinner. Something had happened, but we didn’t know what. We sat at a table with King Olek, Queen Alla, my grandmother, Wayne and Drew. Conversations were good. This was where the proposal was taking place, so there were cameras over to the side covered until the following day. The dinner was nice, but I noticed about an hour later when a man came over to David Burke and Edmond Hammond in dress uniform, their country’s uniforms. The American airman leaned in say to David and Edmond quietly who looking up surprised as did Edmond. Then a man came to Olek and whispered to him. Olek got up and followed another uniformed man. “I’m going, too.” Peter said to everyone at the table. “Excuse me.” He put his napkin down and rose. I got up. “Stay. It may be nothing.” Peter said looking at me. “You’re not going to see nothing and you know it.” I said taking his hand. “Where you go, I will go.” When we went down in the palace we got to a room where…it wasn’t pretty. Drab walls and a desk, but iron bars held two people. A dungeon!? Not quite, we were still a few stories up, and I knew there were rooms down here for villagers in the past during an attack. The room had been turned into a holding area for…I don’t know…prisoners? There were some less than nice people even in Makarovia. Inside the cell…behind the bars were two dark haired men in their twenties. One looked a little dirty from ash and soot; there was a place that was reddened from a burn. The other man, with glasses was just dirty and there were cuts on his face and the beginnings of bruises. They both had uniforms of the RAF, but they were also the same ethnic group; Iraq, Iran or somewhere in the Middle East. There were four military police members here with rifles that stood by. “…friend was killed.” General Hammond was now a full General! A nice man that was grandfather was gone. Now, he was an angry, pissed of military leader. He would have scared me! “What did you hope to accomplish by this action!?” Olek looked up at Peter and me, he grinned tightly and grim then came over. “You two don’t need to see this.” “I think we do, Olek.” Peter said smiling at his brother as he touched his arm. “You’re my big brother, but…I’m grown up. Now, what happened?” Olek nodded. “It was a car bomb. They tried to get in through the gate, but we stopped them.” He sighed. “Fortunately or unfortunately, the third member blew himself up with the truck and bomb.” Then the two looked up and saw Peter and me jumped up rushing to the bars and began shouting in whatever language they naturally spoke. General Hammond got this look of almost pure hatred in his eyes as he swung a balled fist so fast, so hard, knocking the man back against the far wall where he slumped down…stopping him and his friend from shouting. The man on the ground was bleeding from his nose, which I could see was broken. “Now, if you have a point to make.” Edmond said quietly, a sharp contrast to his face. “Trying making it in English so we understand? I know you don’t speak Makarovian.” No. Edmond was no one’s grandpa right now! “What is happening here is against Allah!” The one standing said angrily. “It is against the Qur’an. A man can not marry a man!!” Then he said something else in that language and the one word I got was “infidel.” Olek frowned and walked forward. “According to you.” “It is written in Qur’an!!” The man said again. “Even if you don’t believe in the Qur’an, it is against nature! Union is between a man and woman!” Olek nodded. “So, anything that’s against nature, is wrong.” He reasoned walking up to the bars. “Yes.” Olek looked at the man and grabbed his glasses from the man’s face, dropped them on the floor and stepped on them, crushing the glass. “Then you are as against nature as they are! From the looks of the lens, they were pretty thick, so you should be blind. You should have died because you can’t see. You can’t hunt, you can’t work, but you defied nature by wearing those!” He walked closer. “I gather you have family and I bet there are those in your family that have pacemakers, artificial valves, take medicine for high blood pressure or high blood sugar. All of those are in defiance of nature. We’re not animals! We don’t mate by instinct! We can chose who and when. We evolved! How is love wrong!?” “What they are doing is wrong!” “Then Allah will handle it!!” Olek shouted as he began to breathe harder. “Forty virgins!? I’m hoping he burns in Hell!! I don’t follow your religion and I don’t believe in the god you worship! I want him brutally raped in his virgin ass by forty of the biggest hairy male demons from now until the end of eternity!!” Olek was getting angrier and breathing harder. Both Peter and I reached for him and pulled him back. “Olek.” Peter said quietly. “We knew there were some people wouldn’t like this.” I said to Olek. “Calm down. We’re fine.” “If I could, I’d send you to the afterlife myself!” Olek said. “Never threaten my people and especially NOT MY FAMILY!” He turned to General Hammond. “I want them out of here! Do what you have to with your men, but they go! Tonight! Right now! Get them out of my kingdom!” General Hammond nodded with a slight bow. “They will be gone, I promise.” He looked at the two. “I’m gathering your friends and questioning them to see who all was involved. You will be on a transport in an hour. There will be stiff charges, I can promise that. You’ve embarrassed me and my command, embarrassed your king and country. You are British!! Of that, I am ashamed.” I walked up behind Edmond. “Just do me a favor.” Edmond raised a quizzical eyebrow. “Please, stay on our side.” I said. “You may count on that.” Edmond said nodding. Peter and I then pulled Olek out of the room and headed back up, but we didn’t go back to the dinner yet. Peter led him up to the roof area that looked over Stryia. Where he’d taken me that first night here. He brought Olek in a tight hug and just held him. “Calm down, Olek.” Peter said quietly. “I’m fine. Eric’s fine.” He squeezed his brother, then pushed back a little to see in Olek’s eyes. “Other than those two and the one that died, was anyone else hurt?” Olek shook his head. “No. Just them.” He looked up and took a deep breath, then looked at me with a smile. “That was pretty upsetting.” I walked over and joined them, hugging both Olek and Peter. “It was, but as I said, we knew this could happen. It won’t be the last attempt.” I walked to the edge and waved at the evening at the many lights of the town below. “You’ve done a great thing for Makarovia, but this is going to be a new world for many here.” “I hope we can survive.” Olek said grimly. I smiled. “Makarovia will, because we,” I waved at all three of us, “will make sure of it. Now, there are a lot of people downstairs eating without us.” I put my hand on Olek’s arm. “We’ll be there to help, Olek. Makarovia will survive.” I noted that his color was good again. Peter nodded. “We should get back.” The next day was a little more chaotic preparing for this event. People were rushing through the palace and there were more voices below. I got my good clothes on. This time, it was a tux. Peter came over, looking damned fine in his and sat by me as I channel surfed through the news. I should have known the BBC would have it covered. They were here! Louis Garner was the reporter on the screen, set up in the palace below us as he gave his report. “…the bomb was set off before any real damage was done to the palace in Stryia, Makarovia, where today, Prince Petro Ivanov of Makarovia will propose to Eric Richards of Charleston, South Carolina of the United States.” He looked up. “Investigation continues as Islamic Extremists are said to be responsible for this attack. No word from the palace in Makarovia except to say the proposal is taking place today as scheduled. This…proposal is a long standing tradition in Makarvoia where the couple will become engaged and Eric’s position will become Earl of Stryia as he begins his yearlong engagement to Makarovia and its people. The subsequent marriage will take place in a year-” Peter held up the remote and turned it off as he leaned in on me. “Thank you, Eric.” My eyes widened. “Thank me? For what?” “Sticking by me.” Peter said softly. “You never backed down. From the moment you suggested we become friends that first week…you’ve never left me.” “Of course, not.” “Even with all this…” he waved at the TV and activity that we only heard a little up here. “I’m marrying you, Peter.” I said again. “Not Prince Petro. You. You’re my best, dearest friend. I’ll always be at your side. I love you.” I looked in his eyes. “Do you believe me now?” He nodded. “I do.” “Remember that phrase in a year.” I chuckled as I kissed him quickly. We were escorted down to the same great room we had dinner in the night before, but now, the tables were gone and there stood hundreds of people dressed in the finest…as they could afford. All gathered on two sides of the checkerboard floor. On the side of a carpeted runner that made an aisle people stood waiting. Camera crews were setting things up to begin as the time finally arrived as various reporters were prepping to tell everyone what was happening. Queen Alla, dressed like always, gown with gold glittery things on a sheer covered dress and hair perfect came up beside us with Olek. Olek dressed with that tux on and red sash and the Makarovian crest hanging as a medallion around his neck. Both had their crowns on. Olek handed Peter his. “You get yours in a year.” Olek winked at me. “It’s just ceremonial anyway.” He shrugged. The conversations flowed until a man I’d seen occasionally who worked with Olek on Makarovian affairs went to the raised area. “Presenting, His Most Royal Majesty, King Olek Ivanov of Makarovia.” The man said in English as he waved at the door we stood at. There was no orchestra, but suddenly some majestic music began as Olek walked down the aisle toward the raised area. “Presenting, Her Most Royal Majesty, Queen Alla Ivanov of Makarovia.” The music continued. “Presenting, His Royal Highness, Prince Petro Ivanov of Makarovia.” Peter gave my hand a squeeze, kissed me and walked down the aisle. “And now…presenting,” no there wasn’t a drumroll, “Eric Richards, from Charleston, South Carolina of the United States…soon to be Prince Eric Ivanov of Makarovia!” He waved to me. Okay, now I had those butterflies everyone had asked about. Cameras turned as did every face there and I walked down the aisle. Queen Alla stood on the left and King Olek on the left. Peter waited for me at the center as I stepped up to the raised area next to him. Olek came over putting his hand on my back. “About a year ago, my brother went to school in the West…where he met someone very special. Having gotten to know Eric, I was so happy my brother found someone to love who is smart, but clearly loves my brother.” His eyes narrowed angrily. “For what happened last night, I will say this…no one attacks me, my family or my country. I don’t care if you don’t approve. Mind your own affairs!” Then he smiled again. “Since we got to know Eric, he has proven he will be an asset to Makarovia. His plans will go forward. This marriage will happen.” He looked at me. “Do you have words for Makarovia?” I smiled. “I do. A year ago, I didn’t even know where Makarovia was!” I said raising my hands helplessly. “Makarovia? Where the hell is that!?” I shook my head. “Which is a damned shame.” I smiled at the faces that weren’t so certain. “I get here. I love this country!! You as a people know about give and take. For a long time, you certainly know about takers. Powers that come in a take what you have….because they want it. The takers will take everything…your things, your home, your freedom and even your very lives! Why? Because they don’t agree with you? You might have been Jewish or a Gypsy…” I looked back at Peter, taking his hand, “or like many here in Makarovia; like Peter and me. What I see here in Makarovia…are givers. Givers of lives, of freedom, a place to get away from the takers…who hid people during a great war keeping them safe. You’ve done this for generations!” I waved back at Olek. “I saw a man, he is a giver. He gives his time and even gave up his personal life for a people he truly loves! No one can deny that.” I waved at Queen Alla. “I see this beautiful woman that gives her time to help the people of Makarovia with education and health services and many other things needed and just as pretty inside as out. She is a giver.” I smiled. “I meet this man…who is kind and gentle that loves me and has the most beautiful soul. I love Peter. He is asking me to marry him and become a part of Makarovia. I will do that gladly, but know this…” I stepped back beside Peter. “I will work hard to bring Makarovia into a brighter future and into the twenty-first century. He and I will work side by side to do whatever we can for this amazing country, but understand…my first priority…” I said, “is always going to be him.” I looked at Peter. “I will be at your side, we will make this country a shining example to follow, but I’m marrying you, Peter. You are Prince Petro Ivanov of Makarovia, but I marry you, Peter…when you ask me.” I grinned. “I love you, Peter. I want to spend my life with you. Together we’ll make this country the jewel to be seen the world over.” Peter’s eyes sort of glistened as he reached in his pocket and then dropped to his knee and at first, his voice cracked a little. “Eric Richards, will you do the honor of joining my life and becoming my husband? I love you. I need you in my life.” He opened the box to show the ring that had the wide ring with the Makarovian Royal Crest on it. Then he said quieter. “I love you.” Reaching down I took his face in my hand. “I will definitely marry you, Peter. I love you, too.” I said pulling him up as he took the ring out and slipped it on my left ring finger. He gave a quick sniff and leaned in kissing me gently. “Now, I’ve asked you.” “You know my answer.” I grinned. “But…” I said loudly, “yes!!” The room was filled with applause.

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