They were like two great bulls, pawing the ground, nostrils flaring. They circled each other, eyes blazing. The big, swarthy construction worker, in filthy cargo pants and sweat-stained old tank top, loomed like a dark demon. The god-like, muscular cop, in full black uniform, was the powerful symbol of authority.

****************

This confrontation had sprung up in an instant. Mark, the cop, had returned from a perfect motor bike trip up the coast with the new guy in the house, Jamie. But young Pablo was jealous of their new-found friendship. As he got off work, Mark had gone into the garage and was confronted by the surly young man and the truth came out.

'Sir, I think you like him more than you like me .... I've been thinking. You've fucked everyone in this house except me, sir. You don't even want me.'

To show Pablo how far from the truth this was, Mark had fucked the willing young guy right there in the garage and Pablo loved it. Just as they finished Randy came into the garage, fresh from the construction site. Mark greeted him cheerfully, but Randy was enraged. He gut-punched Mark to the ground and hauled Pablo away.

'I'll be back for you,' he growled at the fallen cop. He threw Pablo into the house, slammed the door shut, turned and strode back toward the garage. He was met in the middle of the lawn by Mark who had partially recovered and stumbled out of the garage. The two macho bulls now faced each other, ready to do battle.

**************

'You asshole,' growled the cop. 'What the hell's got into you? You're fucking crazy'

'You fucked my boy!' yelled Randy. 'Nobody fucks my boy. Especially not you.'

'Jesus Christ, man, you're adopting the kid, not his ass. You think you own everything else in this house? Well you don't own me, asshole. He wanted me to fuck him so I did. And you know what? It felt great.'

'Pablo's mine,' Randy sneered. 'What's your problem, anyway? ..... You didn't get what you wanted from that piece of trash you took for a ride? He didn't put out for the big stud cop?'

As soon as the words left his mouth Randy knew he had gone too far, and he didn't even see the lightning fist that smashed into his jaw, sending him reeling backward. He crashed against a tree, shook his head and rubbed his chin. His rage was now out of control. He sprang forward, lowered his head and slammed his shoulder against the cop's stomach in a vicious football tackle.

Both powerful bodies crashed to the ground and they were on each other instantly, grappling, punching, rolling over and over in the dirt. Randy wrapped his bicep round Mark's neck in a tight choke hold, and the cop thrashed wildly with his arms, choking, trying to free himself. He was gasping for breath and beginning to weaken when, in a desperate move, he slammed his elbow backward into Randy's gut and the construction worker howled and fell on his back.

Mark took instant advantage. With Randy winded and sprawled on his back Mark hurled himself on top of him. Straddling him on his knees he pulled Randy's arms straight down at his sides and knelt on them, locking them in place. His arms pinioned, Randy looked up helplessly at the powerful uniformed copy kneeling over him.

Chest heaving, Mark smiled down at him grimly. 'OK, big guy, it's me you're dealing with now. You may scare the shit out of everyone else .... not me, pal. I'm as tough as you are. I can take you anytime.'

'Go fuck yourself, shithead,' Randy growled.

'I don't think so,' Mark said. 'Now, let's see how tough you really are. Flex those pecs for me, asshole.'

Randy knew what was coming and flexed his chest muscles hard under his thin tank top. The construction worker watched as Mark raised his arm, then brought his fist smashing down on the slab of his chest. Randy's head jerked back and he flexed harder to lessen the pain. The fist slammed down again on the other side of his chest and again a bolt of searing pain jolted his body.

Now the blows rained down steadily. Mark used both fists to pummel Randy's pecs without mercy. The two muscle studs locked eyes in a mutual look of steely defiance. Randy's entire body was now flexed as hard as iron, every huge muscle etched with bulging veins, as he withstood the onslaught. His eyed challenged the massive cop, with even the shadow of a grim smile.

'Go ahead, stud,' he gasped. 'Think you can make me submit? My body can take anything you can dish out and more.'

Mark redoubled his effort, using every ounce of his strength in bruising and torturing the construction worker's huge chest. He sensed that Randy was finally starting to weaken. But Randy wasn't finished. His upper body was helplessly pinned but his legs were still free. He took a deep breath and raised his right leg, slamming his knee into Mark's back.

Taken by surprise Mark yelled in pain and he fell forward. His knees loosened their grip on Randy's arms and the big man rolled free. Mark was now lying on the ground clutching his back in pain, and in one swift move Randy sprang to his feet and launched himself onto the fallen cop. Again they were locked in a savage bearhug, rolling over the ground, each trying to gain the advantage.

They were totally unaware of the gate opening and the roar that pierced the air.

'STOP!'

Bob had arrived home from work and now rushed toward the writhing men. Although he was still in his business suit he fell to his knees and tried to pull the struggling combatants apart, screaming at them to give up the fight. But the men were consumed with rage and ignored Bob's efforts. Pinned underneath the cop Randy tried a repeat of his earlier move and kicked up hard with his leg.

But this time the result was very different. Instead of hitting Mark, Randy's boot made contact with the chest of the man kneeling over them. Bob howled in pain and rolled over the ground clutching his chest. The fight stopped. Mark and Randy looked up and immediately grasped what had happened. They sprang to their feet and ran to Bob who was still writhing on the ground.

'Oh, Jesus,' Randy gasped. 'Oh man, what have I done? Look at me buddy. Speak to me.'

'Let me see,' said the cop, taking charge. He bent over the fallen business executive and placed his hands lightly on his rib cage. Bob winced and looked up at Mark.

'Does this hurt?' Mark asked, pressing lightly with his fingers.

'Yeah, a bit. Not too much.'

'And how's your breathing? Try to take a deep breath.'

Bob did so and said, 'It's fine. Just sore. I'll be OK. No broken ribs, uh?'

'I don't think so,' Mark smiled. 'Only bruises. You'll live.'

Randy looked on aghast at what he had done to the man he loved and protected. He could find no words. But Bob recovered quickly and Mark helped him to his feet.

'Thanks, man,' Bob said. He stood up straight and regained his breath. After an uneasy silence, Bob sighed. 'I don't know about you guys but I could use a beer.'

**************

Bob, still in his business suit, sat at the head of the kitchen table. Randy, in filthy construction gear and Mark, his uniform streaked with dirt, sat facing each other. They sipped their beers sullenly, then Bob broke the heavy silence, shaking his head.

'You guys are like a pair of pit-bulls. Will you ever stop competing with each other? Now, you've told me what caused this, but Mark, I just want to know one thing. Are you sure that what you did with Pablo was consensual?'

'Of course it was.' Mark protested. 'I would never force myself on him or anyone. He asked me to fuck him. He wanted it.'

Randy found his voice. 'Why in God's name would he want that?'

'Because he was jealous of Jamie and me.'

'Who the fuck's Jamie?' Randy growled.

'Jesus you don't even know his first name,' Mark said in exasperation. 'He's the guy living with us, asshole. Miller .... the guy you just hired. A kid I happen to like a lot.' He glared at Randy. 'He's the 'piece of trash' I took with me up north.'

Randy winced, hearing his own words repeated. 'Hell, man. You know I didn't mean that. I was way out of line.'

'Your anger taking over again?' Bob asked. 'Mark, why do you like Jamie so much?'

'Dunno. Maybe the way he's trying so hard to turn his life around. He reminds me of myself somehow. I ran on the wild side when I was his age. I was often on the wrong side of the law before I became a cop.'

'I didn't know that,' said Bob.

'Not something I boast about.'

Bob smiled. 'Well if Jamie is your buddy he's ours too. And we'll make sure Darius and Pablo respect him too. Right, Randy?'

'Right.' Randy shifted uneasily. Finally he said to Mark, 'Look .... you know how hard it is for me to apologize. Never do. But I do now, buddy. I'm sorry, man.'

He walked around the table and stood beside Mark holding out his hand. Mark stood up, grinned and took his hand, pulling Randy toward him in a tight hug. Randy returned the embrace, then pulled back sharply and rubbed his battered chest.

'Hey, easy big guy. My pecs are real sore.'

'And I know just how that feels,' said Bob, rubbing his own rib cage.

The tension dissolved in a howl of laughter.

Randy rubbed his chin and grinned. 'Hey, that Police Academy sure teaches you a mean right hook, buddy. You should give me lessons some time.'

***************

They drained their beers and were working on a second when Bob cleared his throat and the others fell silent.

'You know,' Bob said. 'If Jamie's gonna stay here a while we should fix up his room. Right now it's not much more than a storage closet. You're the construction boss, Randy. How about it?'

'Sure,' said Randy, eager to make amends to Mark. 'But we'll have to start right away. My new company's almost up and running and any work I do here should be finished before I open a second shift.' He frowned in thought. 'It'll take a few weeks ..... the place needs gutting ..... so the kid'll have to move out during construction. Where's he gonna sleep?'

'There aren't many options,' said Bob. 'He can hardly move in with the other guys; they're still giving him the cold shoulder. So maybe you could do us a favor, Mark, and let him bunk in with you.' Bob grinned at him. 'How would you feel about that?'

'Great idea,' Mark agreed, a little too quickly, making Bob and Randy exchanged smiles. Mark stood up. I'll go and give him the news.'

Randy said, 'Do me another favor, Mark. Drop in on Pablo and let him know everything's OK. Tell him I'll be in shortly to make my peace with him. I need a word with Bob.'

'Sure thing, buddy,' and Mark left the room.

*************

There was a silence as Bob and Randy stood up and looked at each other. Bob sighed and said, 'OK, sir. So now I guess you get to beat me up for taking charge .... making decisions .... being too assertive, as you call it. Go ahead. Just stay clear of the ribs.'

Randy walked forward and threw his arms around his lover. 'Man, what would I do without you? Once again you've saved me from making a total ass of myself. How can I make it up to you?'

Bob smiled. 'I can think of a way. On your knees, big guy.'

As usual Randy read his lover's mind and he fell to his knees before him. He stared at the bulge in the crotch of Bob's dress pants.

'So, what you gonna do about that, asshole?' Bob said to the kneeling construction worker.

Randy reached up and pulled down the zip of the pants. He reached inside the shorts and pulled out the big dick that was already rock hard.

'Eat it, man,' growled Bob.

Randy leaned forward opened his mouth and let his lover's cock slide deep inside his throat. He sucked it hard, his head moving back and forth with increasing speed as he smelled and tasted the musky warmth of the of the moist cock. Bob looked down at the muscular, dirt-streaked shoulders of the glorious man and moaned in ecstasy as his cock began to pulse.

Just in time he pulled out and his voice growled. 'On your feet, asshole. Bend over the table.'

Randy obeyed and stood at the kitchen table, bending forward low, so his forehead touched the table, his arms spread outward gripping the sides. He braced himself for what he knew was coming. Bob quickly pulled down Randy's cargo pants so they hung round his ankles, his ass bare and vulnerable.

Bob's cock still hung out of his dress pants and he came up behind Randy. Swiftly he pushed his raging tool inside the glorious ass, feeling it slide all the way in until it hit the warm inner depths of his gut.

'Fuck me, man,' Randy moaned. 'Don't hold back.'

Without any foreplay Bob began to pound hard against his master's ass, pulling his cock all the way out, then plunging it deep inside again. Randy's moans turned to sobs as he endured the brutal hammering of his lover's long shaft.

Bob growled. 'Maybe this'll make you think twice, asshole, before you pick a fight. Even masters can get hammered. Your ass is mine. Here it comes, big guy.'

And with one final, powerful lunge Bob's cock exploded deep inside the body of the construction worker. Both men yelled in unison, and as he felt the warm liquid flow into his ass Randy's own cock erupted and he felt hot semen shoot upward between his chest and the table. His torso slid on the creamy, slick surface of the table and he felt his lover's cum oozing in his ass.

The men were motionless as their heaving breaths subsided and their heartbeats slowed. Then Bob pulled out and Randy stood up. He bent down, pulled up his pants and buckled them. Then he reached down, took hold of Bob's cock, pushed it back inside his shorts and zipped up his pants. He grinned at Bob.

'I guess you taught me a lesson.'

Bob grinned back. 'The same lesson you'll get every time you pick a stupid fight.'

'Mmm,' Randy mused. 'All the more reason for me to pick more 'stupid fights'.'

'Asshole,' said Bob and threw his arm round Randy's shoulder as they walked out of the kitchen.

***************

Over at the second house Mark was helping Jamie move his stuff out of his basement room into Mark's bedroom upstairs. When he had heard that he was to move in there with the beautiful cop Jamie had been secretly excited, but apprehensive at the same time. He hid his enthusiasm and tried to play it cool, be matter-of-fact about the temporary arrangement. They were buddies, after all, and just bunking in with each other until the construction was finished.

Bob had suggested that all six men have dinner together. He wanted harmony in the house and knew there were still some bruised feelings. Everything went OK except that Darius and Pablo were still cool toward the newcomer Jamie. This was especially true of Pablo, who somehow still saw Jamie as something of a rival.

They all drank quite a lot and then it was time for bed. Mark and Jamie walked back to the second house together and climbed the stairs to Mark's bedroom. He had a big California King bed so sleeping together should not be a problem.

As they got ready for bed Jamie couldn't help stealing admiring glances as Mark stripped off his shirt and jeans. He lowered his boxers and walked naked to the dresser. He pulled out a V-neck T-shirt and shorts and put them on. His muscular body was clearly outlined underneath and he looked stunning.

'Here,' he said to Jamie and threw him a T-shirt and shorts. 'Try these for sleeping in.' They turned out to be a bit too big and loose for Jamie but he loved the idea of wearing the cop's underwear and was embarrassed to feel his cock get hard. To hide his erection he sat down on the bed.

'You OK?' Mark asked. 'Look, I know that the young guys are still keeping their distance from you, but give them time. After all, you used to work for them so it'll take them a while to get their mind around you living here ..... living with me.'

'Yeah, it's a bit tough,' Jamie said. 'I wish they liked me more. But I'll survive. By the way, I couldn't help hearing all that shouting this morning. What was that all about?'

'Oh, nothing,' Mark said. 'It's all over now.'

'But why was Randy so mad at you? I thought you were buddies.'

'I said it was nothing. It's just that Pablo was a bit jealous of you and wanted me to show him I still liked him. I like the kid a lot and he wanted me to fuck him, so I did. Randy kind of went ape-shit, but it's all over now.'

Jamie gaped at him in shock. 'You what? You fucked him? You mean you ...... up the ass, you mean?'

'Of course up the ass. I'd never done it to him and that was his problem. He's fine now.'

Jamie was stunned. He frowned, then his eyes opened wide in fear. 'Is that what you're gonna do to me? Is that why I'm here?'

'Jesus Christ,' Mark laughed. 'Why in hell would you think that? With you and me it's totally different, man. We're buddies. Sure we got off looking at each other, but we're still regular guys who are friends, and that's it. Don't sweat it, Jamie. Nothing like that's gonna happen to you. So forget about it. Let's hit the sack.'

***************

As he had done two nights before, in the motel, Jamie lay clinging to the edge of the bed, his back to Mark. His mind was spinning as he thought to himself, 'He fucked him? He put his dick in his ass? Shit, I shouldn't be here ..... Still, he said nothing like that would happen to me. We're just friends, right?'

His thoughts still raced in confusion. 'He likes Pablo in a different way. Must like him more than me if he fucks him. Yeah, he likes him more than me.'

The idea troubled him somehow, but then he thought. 'I don't care. Mark's just my buddy. We just have a good time. Sure, he's a great looking guy, spectacular actually. And sure he makes my dick get hard when I look at him. Shit, it's hard now. But that doesn't mean I want him to touch me or anything ...... does it? I sure as hell don't wanna touch him.'

'I'll be OK. I'll just keep over here on my side of the bed. He's fast asleep anyway. Fell asleep right away. Just shows, he's not interested in me .... not in that way .... not in the way he likes Pablo, thank God ..... Yeah, he likes Pablo more than me. Wonder why that is. Why does he want to do that to Pablo and not to me? Shit, I wish my hard-on would go down.'

'Listen, he's breathing steadily. He's fast asleep.' Jamie turned over and looked at the sleeping cop. It was warm so Mark had no sheet over him. He lay there in his tight V-neck T-shirt and shorts and there was a bulge in the shorts. 'God, he's beautiful,' Jamie thought. 'I've never seen a man like him. He's like a fucking god.'

Then Jamie's thoughts returned to the drama on the deserted beach when he had nearly drowned in the rip tide and Mark had rescued him. 'He saved my life, that's for sure. I would have drowned if he hadn't swum out to me, held me, carried me ashore.'

Memories rose up from deep inside his subconscious mind. 'Guess they call it the breath of life. That's how he saved me. He put his mouth over mine. He pressed his lips on mine and breathed life into me. I can feel it now. I can still taste him, smell him.'

Jamie didn't realize that he had moved closer to the sleeping Mark. He pulled himself up on his elbow so that his face looked down on the cop's handsome sculpted features. 'Yeah, he put his lips on mine. I think I can remember. I think I can remember the taste. He was just like this, leaning over me. Then he leaned down further and ...... I think I can still taste him.'

Jamie was now deep in his fantasy. His face dropped lower, he was inches from Mark, whose lips were slightly apart as he slept. 'He did it like this........' And his lips met Mark's, lightly at first, then pressing harder and he brought his hand up to Mark's cheek. He felt his own cock throbbing as their faces pressed together.

Mark's eyes suddenly shot open. Startled at first, he quickly realized that it was Jamie's mouth pressed against his. He didn't move, didn't want to embarrass the kid. But he stirred involuntarily and Jamie pulled back abruptly. His eyes opened wide in horrifying realization of what he had been doing. He was paralyzed, had no idea what to do.

He gazed down at the translucent blue eyes .... and suddenly realized they were smiling. They were beautiful, the whole face was glorious. Jamie couldn't help himself. He was drowning in this incredible man and suddenly he was kissing him again, grinding his lips against Mark's.

Mark gently placed his hand behind Jamie's neck and held his face tightly in place against his. They began kissing each other intensely. They stroked, then rubbed, then ground their lips together, probing deep with their tongues. Their hands were around each other's faces, necks, as they pressed together in a display of mutual affection and pure animal lust.

Then it was over. Reality suddenly hit Jamie like ice water and he pulled back horrified. He leaped out of bed and fumbled for his jeans. As he struggled into them he mumbled, 'I'm sorry, sir. I don't know .... I don't know why I ....... Shit, I must be crazy. I'll leave, sir. Leave the house. I'm no good here ..... I'll just pick up my things and .........'

'Jamie!' Mark's commanding voice brought the young man to a standstill. He was frozen in place, staring wide-eyed at the man he had been kissing.

'Get back into bed. I'm ordering you. Get back into bed. Now!'

Jamie had to obey this man. He stepped out of his jeans and lay down in the bed, facing Mark. The cop smiled at the frightened kid. 'Take a few deep breaths kid. Now listen, and remember what I told you before. Stop putting labels on things. Stop thinking too hard. Shake off your old ideas and just feel. Will you do that for me?'

'Yes, sir.' Jamie was trembling.

'Now, tell me. Our trip on the bike ..... did you like that?'

'I loved it, sir.'

'And on the beach, in the hotel, on the balcony as the sun set, you remember those things, what we did?'

Jamie breathed heavily. 'Yes I do sir.'

'And how did you feel about it?

'I loved it, sir. Every minute of it. I was happy, sir. I came alive. It was incredible being with you, sir. Please don't make me go away.'

'Mark smiled, 'That's not gonna happen, Jamie.'

'But I ....... Sir, I don't think I want ......'

'Don't worry, kid. I'm not gonna fuck you,' Mark smiled. 'But I am gonna sleep with you. Properly I mean, not with you hanging onto the edge of the bed. Now come here. And that's an order.'

Eagerly Jamie slid his body over to Mark's.

'Now, turn over.'

Jamie turned over and pressed his back into Mark's chest. Mark wrapped his big arms around the young man and held him tight.

'Feel better?' he asked.

'Yes, sir. Feels ...... perfect, sir.'

'Good. Now let's get some sleep.'

Mark was soon breathing deeply again and Jamie began to relax, his body pressed against this glorious man, folded in his muscular arms. And that's how Jamie slept. All night long.

*************

When Jamie woke next morning he was alone in bed. Mark had an early shift and had left before dawn. Jamie didn't have time to reflect on the events of the previous night as he too was starting work today, on the new construction site with Randy and Darius. Darius gave him a ride there in his truck. The young black man was polite but not overly friendly. He was protective of Pablo and shared his suspicions of the new guy.

Pablo had gone to his regular job at the Police Motor Pool but, as the brass was coming down for a big inspection that day, he had to leave his dog Billy at home. The Doberman was alone in the yard, guarding the empty house.

The work day at the construction site was short. As it was the first day Randy needed to go over things with his two foremen, Darius and Jack, so he let Jamie off early. Jamie's bike was in the back of the truck so he rode it home. He was still biking up the hill when he heard loud noises up ahead ..... yelping and barking. Sounded like a dog fight.

As he approached he was surprised to see that a hole had been torn in the fence next to the gate. He quickened his pace, ran into the yard, and stopped in horror. On the other side of the lawn Billy was locked in a vicious fight with another dog, a huge black and white pit-bull that seemed crazed out of his mind. Evidently he had broken into the yard and attacked Billy. (Much later it turned out that the dog had escaped from the house of a neighbor where he was mistreated and ill-fed, so he was hungry and vicious.)

The fight was really savage and, though Billy fought hard, the pit-bull was heavier and more brutal. He had Billy by the scruff of the neck and was shaking him like a rat. Jamie's reflexes were quick. He rushed for the garden hose and turned it on full blast, aiming it at the struggling dogs. They didn't react, so Jamie turned the nozzle at the end of the hose to make a hard jet of water that he aimed at the pit-bull's face.

As the water hit his eyes the dog howled and fell backward, releasing Billy. Like lightning Jamie hurled himself at the crazed pit-bull, a potentially fatal move. The dog's teeth sank into his outstretched arm and Jamie screamed with pain. It was impossible to shake the dog off so, acting by reflex, with his arm bleeding profusely, Jamie dragged him all the way across the lawn to the gate.

The gate was still open and instinctively Jamie grabbed it with his free arm. With all his remaining strength he hurled the dog against the gate post and slammed the gate on him. He did this again and again, crushing the dog between the gate and the post. The pit-bull weakened, howling in pain, and finally released Jamie's arm. He aimed a savage kick at the animal, and as the dog fell outside the gate Jamie slammed it shut. He heard the dog yelping as it ran off down the hill.

Jamie turned to Billy who was lying whimpering, bleeding on the grass. It seemed that the damage was mostly to his leg, which had a huge, gaping wound. Jamie knew he had to get him to a vet fast. He had seen one on Figueroa Street but it was a long walk down the hill. There were no vehicles in the house, except the Harleys, so he would have to go on foot.

He ran to the bathroom and grabbed two towels. One he wrapped round his own arm that was pouring blood and the other he wound around Billy. He picked up the limp dog and began to walk. 'Jesus, he's heavy,' Jamie thought, but he felt the blood seeping through the towel, his own and Billy's, and quickened his pace.

The walk was grueling. He felt nauseous and dizzy, but he stumbled forward. He almost fell several times, but gritted his teeth and forced himself onward. He knew that if he fell both he and the dog were finished.

*************

The vet was shocked to see the blood-stained young man stagger through the door, with the limp dog in his arms. He acted quickly and soon had Billy on the table and was stabilizing him. While he did so Jamie stammered out his story.

'My, God,' the vet said. 'You attacked the pit-bull? You must be crazy. He could've killed you.'

'I couldn't let him kill Billy,' Jamie said. 'Pablo loves that dog ..... he's nuts about him.'

The vet insisted Jamie get immediate care. The only number Jamie had was Mark's cell and the vet called it. By a sheer luck Mark had just finished work and was getting into his truck. The vet only had to say a few words of explanation and Mark said, 'I'll be right there.'

His truck pulled up only minutes later. He rushed in, took one look at Jamie's ashen face and blood-soaked arm and said, 'It's OK, kid. I'll take care of you.' The vet hastily told the story.

'I've never known anyone attack a crazed pit-bull and live to tell about it. The guy's real lucky to be alive .... so's this dog. That's a hell of a brave kid you've got there sir.'

************

Events moved fast ..... very fast. Mark helped Jamie carefully into the truck. The cop had his emergency flasher with him and he reached out the window and clamped it magnetically to the roof. With lights flashing and siren blaring they took off.

'Hang in there, kid. Won't be long. You're a helluva guy, Jamie, you know that? I'll take care of you now. How're you feeling?'

'I'm fine now you're with me, sir.'

They made it to the nearest emergency room at Glendale Memorial Hospital in minutes. The emergency worker knew the uniformed cop well and said, 'Hi, Mark. So what have you got for us today?'

They rushed Jamie inside. After a quick examination the medics said that Jamie had lost a lot of blood and would probably need a transfusion. He would need to be stitched, and certainly require a series of rabies shots. They would have to keep him overnight for observation.

Mark said he would stay there until Jamie was sleeping. He called Randy and told him to alert Pablo and the others. In no time Pablo and Darius were with Billy at the vet's, and Bob and Randy showed up at the hospital to see Mark. It was only then, as they talked, that the impact of the story hit everyone, and they realized how close they had been to losing Jamie and Billy. At the vet's Pablo was thinking the same thing.

**************

It was mid-afternoon the next day when Jamie finally came home. It was Saturday so all the guys were there. Darius was helping Randy mend the hole in the fence. Pablo and Bob were sitting across the lawn with Billy, the dog resting his head in Pablo's lap, his leg heavily bandaged.

They all heard Mark's truck pull up. The gate opened and Jamie followed Mark inside, still looking pale, his left arm in a sling. They stopped just inside the gate and there was a long, still silence. Then several things happened in quick succession. The first to move was Billy. He stood up unsteadily and limped halfway across the lawn. He stopped and gazed at Jamie, enthusiastically wagging his tail.

Randy moved next. He had been on his knees mending the fence and he now stood up and looked straight at Jamie. His face broke into a grin. Then he brought his hands together and began to clap them slowly. As the tempo increased Darius joined in, then Bob and Pablo. Soon they were all applauding wildly. Mark smiled broadly and put his arm round Jamie's shoulder, pulling him towards him.

And the next thing to happen was that Jamie's face blushed a deep red.

***********

TO BE CONTINUED IN 'A Trial Of Strength - Part 39'

 

Rob Williams

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