Sorry for the delays. Things have been on my mind. Read and you'll know. North Meets South will continue, as will the others. I promise.
This is not part of any story.That comes right after this in this chapter, but…
Oh, God!Daniel!Do I miss you!?You are me.We were us.You were such a huge, enormous part of us…do I miss you!?Would I miss the very oxygen!?I don’t just miss you, I need you.I am completely lost now without you.Yet, somehow, I’m still here.You’re not.There has not been a single moment in any part of the day I don’t think of you.This is agony!I know you were in pain.I know you suffered, I was there!I am so glad you don’t suffer now, but…now I hurt!Now, I am in pain and I am suffering.And please believe me, Baby, I know it wasn’t you.I know that.I never, ever blamed you.You fought so hard to live, but you couldn’t.You didn’t do any of this.I love you, Daniel.You and I took vows…just words…but took them to my very core!I will love you until the end of time. In front of your real sisters, Kathy and Louise…their husbands we promised that to each other.Melissa, your niece, I do remember being there and Drew.We had a lot of family and friends were there and barely remember them.I see pictures to remind me, but only vaguely do I remember them being there.All I saw was you. I danced with you.I loved and was loved by you.I have memories I will never forget…places I never dreamed of seeing, because of you.You are my whole world.So, what do I do?I write.I couldn’t and can’t stop!I kept you here if I did that.I talk to you all the time.You deserve more than a headstone!What I wouldn’t give to hear your voice just once more!It has been a YEAR!!I have cried so much.I hurt so much.I gave up trying to stay alive for a while.A few moments, I even thought of ending it myself.You know I did.Each time, I wondered what you’d think if I did.I am Richard Eric McQueen.I am the son of a Southern Baptist preacher.I am Southern.I met an amazing human being raised in Queens, New York named Daniel Anthony Vacca.I fell in love with Daniel.He fell in love with me.He and I were married.We are no longer just “he” and “me.”We were us.We became part of the same soul.Do I miss him?More than any word in any language can convey adequately.I miss you, Daniel.You are my husband.I want you back!I love you, Daniel.There is a huge void in this life now.Never will I ever love another and I can never forget you.
Now, North Meets South:
I was very pleased that we were getting to know Ivan and Katya. I really liked both of them.Ivan was definitely a big personality. I chuckled at some of the antics I saw Ivan do as The Raging Bull with his…opponents.Some were nearly as big as Ivan.Most the cheers I heard coming from fans were for Ivan.He had children that loved him and I could see some of the younger fans in the audience in the background.
“We’re in Busselton tomorrow.”Tony said knelling over kissing my neck as he wrapped his arms around me from behind.“They have all that…natural stuff here you like so much.”He chuckled.
I looked at Tony smiling.“And I’m sure there’s a store to shop in.”
Tony shook his head.“No, tomorrow, we do what you want to do.”He shrugged. “There’s a great Underwater Observatory.”He suggested.
I realized we were having a sort of contest.Both of us wanted to give the other what we knew they wanted.I gave a grudging nod.“Yes, but do you want to just look at some fish?I don’t think so.”I asked, knowing better.“There are a vast number of vineyards in Busselton.I know there’s a tour of many of those.You might find a great wine to rival Bella Roma.”
Tony stood up as his eyes widened.“Better than Italian wine!?”He shook his head looking at little offended, but was grinning.“That’s not possible.”He said simply pulling me up and brought me to the couch.“There are some great whale watching and other things available.”
I nodded as he put his arms around me as he proceeded to get even closer.“Well, there is the Margret River Winery and Scenery Tour where we can do both.”I chuckled as he was nodding, but not really listening as his lips traced my jaw lightly going back to my ear sending sensations through me.
“There are Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales to see…” Tony continued softly, his deep voice rumbling in my ear gently and then sat up a little suddenly.“Humpbacks I know thanks mostly due to Star Trek’s fourth movie…what’s a Southern Right Whale?”He asked thinking a moment as I saw the glimmer of humor in his eyes.“Am I to assume there is a Northern Left Whale?”He smiled and returned to what he was doing as his hands traveled over me.
I turned getting to a better angle and began to kiss him more directly.I loved what he was doing and for a moment, I felt sorrow.Don’t get me wrong.I had changed…my perspective had changed.He loved me.He was here and healthy right now.No, I didn’t care about the money or the stateroom, but he was here…now…loving me.The horrible thought that it could end had never occurred to me.Not really.Pulling him back I had him over me.“I know we just made love, Tony…not long ago, but I need you.”
Tony nodded.“I need you, too.”He smiled.“We might miss dinner.”
I shook my head.“I’m sure they won’t run out of food.We can order in.We don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow.”I said.“I just want you.”
Tony stretched out over me.“You have all of me.”
I clung to him more than I needed to.Losing him was not an option I was willing to consider.I was going to hold on to him as long as I could.
We did miss dinner but were satisfied to remain in our stateroom that night.We ended up ordering something brought to us. This trip was taking on another nuance for me.We were concentrating on our relationship and just enjoying being together.
In the morning we woke in bed, having made our way up the stairs the night before to the very comfortable bed.
“We’re in Busselton.”Tony told me softly in my ear as a reminder.
I rolled over to face him kissing him gently.“I’m sure it’s nice.I heard it has this long jetty…over a mile long to the ship.” Grinning at him and shrugged.“It’s just another town, Tony.It’s a beach community.We live in one.”My fingers again in his sexy, sleep tossed hair.“We don’t have to be anywhere for over a week more.My focus is you.”
Tony gave a long blink and smiled.“Things for us are changing.”
I nodded.“Yes, they are.My priorities have changed.”I propped up on my elbow looking in his eyes.“We said we are going to be honest and talk whenever there is something on our minds about this...thing.”
Tony nodded.“We did.What do you think right now?”
I moved over him.“I’m curious.”I said lightly.“You said when we just got on board, you felt it.”I patted his upper chest.“Do you feel it right now?”
Tony thought a moment.“I feel…” he sought a word, “something.”He held my hand to his chest.“Here.”
I frowned a little.“Did you feel it before Dr. Keogh said there was something there?”I watched his confusion grow a little.“Did you think there could be something before he told you?Did him telling you there was something make it more real and not just the idea?”
“You think he suggested it to me and I made it more real?”Tony asked as he shrugged.“I don’t know.”
I gave a shrugging nod.“I’m just trying to get you to not give up.Don’t throw in the towel yet.”I rubbed our noses together gently.“And don’t do what Papa did.”I said softly, but firmly.“We didn’t wait until it was too late.Please,” I tapped his chest again gently, “do not refuse any treatment.Understand?”I kissed him tenderly.“I don’t want to lose you, Tony.Promise we will fight this…whatever…together.”
“We will.”Tony wrapped his arms around me.“I promise.”He smiled at me.“We have a very good marriage. I love you.”
“Yes, we do have a very good marriage.”I agreed kissing him.“I love you.”
We agreed to leave the ship, but no destination was decided on.No hurrying done, but just us…together.We walked that long jetty and it was the longest one I had ever seen, but we took our time as we arrived in Busselton.There were many people from the ship strolling leisurely through the streets and shopped.I was no longer concerned whether anyone was looking or not.I no longer cared.
We decided to have lunch at The Goose.It was the Goose Bar and Kitchen which was a restaurant right there off the jetty with a covered porch we dined on.A lovely place on the very beach…well, near enough to see and hear it.
“Hello, strangers!”We heard a woman greet us from behind.
Turning we saw the Bensons from our table in the dining room.Both Tony and I rose as they came to us.We were gentlemen!
“No, don’t get up.”Bert said grinning as he held his hand out to stop us.He put his arm around his wife.“You two are enjoying this great place to eat.We won’t stop you.”
“We’re doing the same thing.”Linda said as the host waited to take them to a table.“We just missed you a few nights.I can see everything seems to be fine with you.”She patted my arm.“We just wanted to say hello.Your presence is missed…understood but missed.”She pushed me back gently.“Sit, eat.”
Tony and I did go back to our meal and time together.I took Tony’s hand.“We are fine.”I smiled.
Tony smiled leaning over kissing me.“Yes.”He said kissing me again.“We are.”
We got back and went to Sir Samuel’s for our favorite coffees.I was thinking I was developing an addiction like Tony’s.
“Мои хорошие, лучшие друзья!!!”A deep voice boomed happily saying again my good, best friends.
I chuckled as Tony and I knew him instantly having not even seen him yet and turned to greet the big Russian and his much smaller wife.“Ivan!Katya!Our good, best friends!”I said in Russian to them as they got closer.Katya shook her head, but smiling at her husband.Both carried a few bags of purchases gotten ashore.
“Do you have to be so loud, Ivan?”Katya asked quietly, but smiling still.
“Да.”Ivan replied yes simply as he hugged Tony.
I grinned at Katya as I hugged her.“He is The Raging Bull.”
Katya laughed.“Yes, he is that.”
“My dear friend.”Ivan said grabbing me in a near totally encompassing hug.He was a big man!
“I just said that about who you are because I saw a clip of you last night.”I said to him.
Ivan smiled and I tell you, he even blushed.“Aw, that was just for show.”He said a little sheepishly.
I nodded.“It was!And what a show!”I squeezed a bicep on him.“I know under this tough bull exterior is a real teddy bear.”
Again, Russian and English translations did not always make things clear.Ivan looked confused so I told him about the plush toy bear many children had.I had said плюшевый мишка.It took a second when Ivan smiled as he understood.“Oh, yes,” he nodded, “Медвежонок!”
“Sorry,” I smiled.“My Russian is not fluent yet.”
Ivan shook his head laughing heartily.“Nonsense.You do very well!Almost no accent!”He said throwing his huge arm around me and holding his finger to his lips.“But please, keep this between us, okay?I have a reputation to keep. Tonight, Katya and I have a private dinner.Tomorrow we sail for two days before Adelaide.Perhaps we could get together again for lunch or dinner?” He grabbed Tony pulling him to his other side and kissed him on the temple and then did the same to me. “I really love you two!Please, perhaps we can take in a show or something?”
Tony chuckled as he was being squeezed by Ivan.“Sure.I’d like that.”
I squeezed his arm again knowing they wanted a child.“You don’t take…” I frowned.“…what’s the word?Performance increasing drug…increase mass?What is it called?”
Tony looked surprised.“That you don’t know?”
Ivan looked puzzled again and then his eyes got bigger.“стероиды!”He said the word for steroids.He shook his head.“Absolutely not.No steroids.”I frowned.“I did one year in the beginning.No, this…” he flexed his arm, “is all Ivan!No steroids.We are starting a family and…” then he gulped looking at his wife, “she would kill me if I did.”He said with a little fear.
I looked at Katya who was nodding.“He’s right.I certainly would.”She smiled at Ivan.
“My promoter then, was a real…” Ivan began.
“мудак?”I asked smiling.
Ivan’s eye crinkled as he smiled more.“I was going to say son of a bitch,” Ivan said using сукин сын.“Asshole works, too.”He chuckled.“What else did this Sasha teach you?Do you know…”
“Ivan.”Katya said quickly and softly but was smiling again and shaking her head.
“I was just going to see if Sasha taught him some words.”Ivan said simply and innocently and then leaned closer to me and almost whispered to me.“Never get her angry, she can cuss like a Russian sailor.The kitten becomes a lion!”He even did the growl.
I hugged Katya as I laughed lightly.“No, not sweet Katya.”
“Well, whatever Mitch says to you…” Tony grinned, “listen, because he will convince you if you don’t.”He rubbed his face where I’d slapped him that one night at his parent’s deaths.
I looked at Tony and did what Italians sometimes do and spoke louder.“Because you weren’t getting it, so I did what was necessary.You get it now, don’t you?You haven’t forgotten.”
Tony shook his head laughing.“No, I haven’t forgotten.”He said emphatically. He looked at Ivan.“He had to convince me that he loves me.”
Ivan was startled by that as his eyes grew.“That was what you needed convincing of!?”Ivan waved both hands at me, while looking at Tony.“A blind man could see that!”
Tony shrugged looking a little helpless.
“It was a tough time for Tony.”I explained going over taking Tony’s hand and pressed our foreheads together gently.“He was a little…vulnerable at that time.He just needed reminding.”
“I don’t need convincing now.”Tony smiled at me.
Ivan nodded looking at Katya.“Yes.”He walked over bringing Katya to him.He turned and brightened remembering why they had come here.“Coffee, anyone?”
We got our desired coffees as we sat and visited a while.Tony and I sat together, but he didn’t let go of my hand.Looking at him, I smiled and squeezed his hand.“I love you. Tony.”
He nodded and leaned in kissing me.“I know you do.”