The rehearsal was not going well. 'Come on, guys,' Bob pleaded as laughter rang round the dinner table. 'This is serious.'

Perhaps it was all the beer they had drunk. More likely it was the raucous, crazy mood they were in. All six guys were looking forward to the coming weekend when they would pair off and go on various trips ... Randy and Pablo to the lake for some fishing, Mark and Jamie up the coast to a shack in the dunes, and Bob and Darius to some mysterious destination in town.

Whatever the reason, they were in no mood for some dumb role-playing rehearsal. But Bob had insisted. The next day Randy and Pablo would be appearing in family court to finalize Randy's adoption of the young man. 'My buddy in the legal department says it's a slam dunk ... just a formality,' Bob had said. 'However, he does say you should look respectable, wear a jacket and tie.'

Despite Randy's protests about this, Bob suggested they go over some of the points the judge was likely to raise. His friend in legal had provided a list. Hence the session around the table .. which was going nowhere. Bob was playing the role of judge. Mark, Darius and Jamie were observers.

'Now listen up.' Bob cleared his throat and turned his judge-like attention to Randy. 'Sir, I have to ensure that you are financially sound. Is your construction company a going concern?'

'Shit yeah,' Randy said. 'Provided the asshole customers pay their fucking bills on time. My guys work damn hard. Otherwise I whip their fucking asses .. your honor.'

There was a howl of laughter and Darius banged on the table.

'Wrong answer,' said Bob. 'You have to eliminate all the 'shits', 'fucks', 'damns' and 'assholes' from your vocabulary.'

'Fat chance. Put a gag on me then, why don't you? And don't take that literally, asshole.' Again, shrieks of laughter.

In frustration Bob turned to Pablo. 'Young man. You are twenty-one, an adult, so why do you want this man to be your adoptive father?'

'Hell, just look at him, your honor,' Pablo replied. That face, that body, who wouldn't want to be owned by him? Besides, if I say no he'll beat the crap out of me.'

'Good answer, dude' yelled Darius to more howls of laughter.

Bob glowered. 'I'm gonna give this one last shot.' Addressing Randy, 'Sir, what is it about this young man that makes you want to adopt him?'

'None of your damn business!' Then, on Bob's glare, 'OK, OK. Let's see. What is it about him? Kid, stand up. Show his honor your ass.' Pablo turned round and stuck his ass in the air. 'I think that speaks for itself .. your honor. He's a sensational fuck.'

The room fell apart and Bob had to join in. He lost it and tears of laughter streamed down his face.

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

As it turned out the next day Randy and Pablo were on their best behavior and their court appearance was a breeze. The assigned judge turned out to be a woman and Pablo charmed her with his cheeky, sideways grin. 'The adoption is approved. Good luck gentlemen.'

The celebration at home was as boisterous as the aborted rehearsal had been. Randy laughed, 'The judge was crazy about Pablo. Shit, the kid could charm the birds out of the trees.' The outdoor revelries went late into the night. When they decided to call it quits Randy turned to Pablo to say goodnight. Suddenly the mood became serious, nervous almost, as the two men looked at each other in silence. Here they were at last, adoptive father and son.

Finally Pablo smiled shyly and said simply, 'Thank you, sir.'

'No sweat, kiddo.' Another embarrassed silence. 'We'll talk. Sleep well, kid,' and he walked back to the house with Bob.

Later, in bed, Darius gave Pablo a serious look and asked, 'So how're you feeling, dude?'

Pablo frowned. 'I dunno. It's kinda weird. I mean, he's my dad. I'm not sure. Maybe all I wanted was for him to fuck me, and now ....'

'Bullshit,' said Darius. 'You and Randy go a lot deeper than that and you know it. And he'll still fuck you. With that ass of yours it's a pretty safe bet. Just wait for that trip to the lake.'

Pablo smiled. 'Thanks, man. I guess you're right. By the way, has Bob told you where he's taking you yet?'

'Somewhere local is all he'll say. But I have a feeling it's gonna be a wild trip.'

'What did he tell you?'

'I remember his words exactly. 'Young man, I'm gonna take you somewhere and show you something I've never shown anyone before. And I'm gonna tell you a story that'll send your fantasy meter into overload .. stoke your imagination for years to come.' Also, he said the story's true.'

'Wow.' The thought turned Pablo on. 'Speaking of fantasies, and my ass, how about you take first crack at it, so to speak?' and he turned over on his stomach.

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

Friday came. Randy and Pablo were due to leave that evening; the others would leave the next day. Pablo was already home from work when he heard Randy's truck pull up. Randy came through the gate and he smiled as he saw Pablo, smartly dressed in clean jeans and a tight, sexy polo shirt. He was touched that the kid had dressed up for the trip.

'You look great, kid. But don't expect me to change. I'm going like this,' as he stood there in his greasy old tank top, work pants and boots.

'Wouldn't have it any other way, sir.'

Randy came up behind Pablo and put his hands over his eyes. Pushing him forward he said, 'Come with me kid. I've got something for you.'

They stood beside the truck with Randy's hands still covering Pablo's eyes. 'You ready, 'kid?' He pulled his hands away and Pablo gasped. There in the flatbed of the truck was a rowboat .. oars, tackle and all.

'Wow?'

'Think of it as a kind of graduation present. Hey, you can't go fishing without a boat. Picture it, kid, you and me in the middle of the lake, all alone.'

'I am picturing it,' Pablo said. 'You wouldn't believe the picture I see,' and there was the cheeky grin again.

'I'm way ahead of you, kid.'

After a quick round of goodbyes father and son were off. As always Randy drove fast and they were soon out of the city on the Angeles Crest Highway climbing up to the Angeles National Forest and Randy's secret spot on the lake. Billy, the Doberman, was fast asleep on the back seat.

But the atmosphere in the truck was oddly subdued. They spoke hardly at all and there was almost a kind of coolness between them. Their dynamic had changed. There was, as always between them, a sexual charge in the air, but the thought of it was now kind of weird somehow. They were, after all, father and son now, even if only by adoption. Pablo especially was uneasy.

The silence grew heavier as they drove along the deserted highway. Suddenly Randy put on the brakes and pulled the truck over to a stop on the side of the road. He switched off the engine and there was silence. Pablo looked over at the dark, stubbled face expectantly. It happened quickly. Randy looked him straight in the eyes, put his hand behind Pablo's head, pulled it toward him and their mouths came together.

Randy kissed the young man ravenously. They ground their lips together, tongues searching deep inside each other's mouth as they breathed into each other. Randy's passion built as his mouth explored every inch of Pablo's face ... his cheeks, his neck, his brow and finally bathing his eyes.

Pablo's cock was rock hard. He was drowning in the man, intoxicated by the male smell of his sweat, his taste, the feeling of his warm, wet mouth covering his face and the rough, stubbled chin grinding against him. They locked their lips again and the virile, passionate embrace seemed endless.

Suddenly Randy pulled back. Without a word he turned to look straight ahead at the road, started the engine and, with a squeal of wheels, sped back onto the highway, as if nothing had happened. Pablo was dumbfounded, breathless. He too looked straight ahead, his mind spinning. The man was incredible, stunning. Then he heard Randy's deep voice.

'I am gonna fuck you, you know.'

'I know, sir.'

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a trace of a smile on Randy's glorious face. And from that point on there was no coolness at all between them. Far from it.

On the back seat Billy stirred in his sleep, twitching and grunting, lost in some canine fantasy of his own.

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

Early next morning Mark and Jamie were almost ready to leave the house, both dressed very casually in jeans and T-shirts. They had loaded the truck with food and supplies as Mark knew there would be minimal stuff in the shack. For this reason he had decided to take the truck, not the Harley.

'Just a minute,' Jamie said and ran back into the house. He came back with a plastic bag that he held out shyly. 'I just got my first paycheck from work, so I bought you a present, sir. If that's OK.'

'Sure it is, kid. Sure it is.' Mark smiled, moved by Jamie's shy gesture. He opened the bag and pulled out .. a black tank top. He shook it open.'

'This is great, Jamie. ' He looked at Jamie's shining eyes. 'You want me to put it on now?'

'Please, sir.'

Mark took off his old T-shirt and pulled the black tank over his head and down over his muscular torso. 'How's it look?'

Jamie gaped. 'Wow. Better than I ever imagined. I got an extra-large, sir. I hope that's OK.'

'It's a bit snug but I guess you planned it that way.'

'Kind of.' Jamie admired the way the shirt clung to the sculpted chest and accentuated the cop's muscular shoulders and arms. 'It looks terrific, sir.'

'That's it, then.' Mark laughed. 'Guess I'll have to wear it the whole trip. Never know who we might meet.'

In little over an hour they were speeding north on Coast Highway. Jamie could not remember being happier than this. He was with the man he worshipped, the glorious cop who, only a week earlier, had fucked him for the first time in his life.

Mark slung his arm across Jamie's shoulder, steering with his left hand, and glanced at the youngster. 'Explain something you said back there when I put the tank top on. 'Better than I ever imagined.' What did you mean?'

Jamie blushed deeply.

'Come on, kid. Do I have to order you to tell me?'

'No, sir. Sorry, sir. It's just that I .. Well, soon after I first met you I ....'

'Keep going, kid. No secrets.'

'Well, sir.' It came out in a rush. 'When I was alone in my room, in bed, I imagined you wearing a black tank like that and it made my ... well I got kind of excited and I ...

' .... beat your meat fantasizing about it,' Mark completed his sentence.

'Yes, sir.' Jamie looked surprised. 'How did you guess?'

Mark smiled. 'Not the first time something like that's happened. Did you shoot your load?'

'Oh, yes, sir. Lots of times.'

'Good.' Mark had a satisfied smile on his face.

They drove on in silence. Mark concentrated on the road but out of the corner of his eye he saw Jamie glance sideways at him, his hand resting on his crotch. Furtively the young man stroked the bulge in his pants.

Still looking straight ahead Mark said, 'You can do it, you know. I don't mind.'

Jamie blushed again and quickly withdrew his hand.

'Look. You know me by now, Jamie. I like guys getting off on me. I like having my ego stroked, my vanity piqued. Especially by hot young studs like you. So go right ahead.'

Emboldened now Jamie slid his hand back down and began to unbutton his pants. He pulled out his dick that was hard as a rock. He turned and leaned with his back against his door, now looking straight at the big cop. Mark still concentrated on the road ahead, as if he was unaware of what was happening. This indifference excited Jamie even more. He was a secret voyeur.

He stroked his cock as he gazed at the stunning cop. In profile the face was indeed like a Greek god, unruly blond hair falling over his brow, square jaw slightly clenched in concentration. The blank tank stretched tightly over his hard chest, the bulge of his shoulders gleamed in the sunlight and his arms flexed as he gripped the steering wheel.

'He's magnificent,' Jamie thought to himself. He gazed intently at the beautiful man, running his eyes all over the muscular body. Jamie's breathing became ragged. He was intoxicated by this incredible icon, this fantasy that he had dreamed about. But now it wasn't a late-night image, it was the real thing, the man himself was right there, dressed as Jamie had wanted.

He couldn't hold back. His cock was pulsing now and there was nothing he could do to hold back the juice rising from his balls. He took one last intake of breath and shot his load. His cum shot forward in a long stream, splashing on the new black tank top that had been his gift to the man. The thick white juice covered the muscular shoulder and ran down over the bicep and forearm, dripping down onto the cop's jeans.

Breathlessly Jamie looked wild-eyed, scared almost at what he had done. There was a slight smile on Mark's face as he concentrated hard on the road. In the ensuing silence Jamie even began to wonder if Mark would react at all, but then he heard the deep voice.

'Thanks, kid. That was great.'

Jamie relaxed and smiled too. 'Sorry about the shirt, sir. It was new.'

'No sweat, kiddo. Guess I'll just have to wear it like this the whole trip. But cast your eyes a bit lower.

Jamie knew immediately what Mark meant. He looked down and saw the big bulge in his pants.

'What you gonna do about that, boy?'

Jamie knew exactly what to do. He reached over and ripped open the fly. The cock shot out, hard as iron. Jamie leaned down, brought his lips to the big head and slid his mouth slowly over the rigid shaft. He didn't pause. His head went lower until the cock came to rest deep inside his throat. Jamie heard the big cop groan with pleasure.

Then Jamie went to work. His head rose up and down like a piston, gripping the big rod in his mouth as it plunged into his throat. His face crashed again and again against the cop's crotch, his nose buried in the moist pubic hair, in the pungent smell of sweat.

From the outside motorists were aware only of a truck speeding north on Coast Highway, the hills on the right, shimmering in the heat, and the waves of the Pacific Ocean on the left crashing on the beach only yards away. There was nothing remarkable about the truck, except for an occasional slight wobble as the driver lost concentration for a second.

But inside the cab things had reached a pitch and the driver was moaning. Steering with his left hand, Mark put his right hand on the back of Jamie's head, grabbed the hair and forced the head up and down on his cock. 'That's it, boy, you fucking beautiful stud. God, your mouth feels good on my dick. Work it man. Take your master's cock all the way down your throat .. Oh, God. Make me shoot my load, man. Drink my juice, boy. Here it comes ....

As the scream bounced off the walls of the cab Jamie felt hot liquid pouring into his mouth and down his throat. He gulped hard and gloried in the taste of his master's semen as it flowed inside him. He finally pressed his face down hard, with the draining cock now still, deep in his throat. He didn't want to move. But finally he pulled back reluctantly and felt the cock slide all the way out of his mouth. There was a silence in the truck as both men regained their breath.

Then Mark spoke. 'You know, young man, what you just did was illegal. Distracting a driver operating a moving vehicle. If a police officer had seen that he'd have hauled your ass off and punished you. If a cop had been there, you'd be in real trouble. You might want to think about that.'

Jamie grinned. 'I will, sir'

And he did. He was still thinking about it when they arrived at the dunes.

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

Bob and Darius were the last ones to leave the house for the weekend. There was no hurry, Bob had said. They didn't have far to drive. Not far at all. Bob had told Darius what to wear and he appeared in old jeans, boots and an unwashed old tank top.

'It stinks a bit,' Darius said.

'Just as it should,' said Bob mysteriously. He was wearing jeans and boots too, and a denim shirt over a white tank top. In the Southern California furnace heat of the early afternoon he was already sweating through the shirt. That too was just as it should be, he thought.

Darius's body was already tingling with anticipation as he climbed into the SUV beside the muscular businessman. He had no idea where they were going ... and it took him no time at all to find out. He had settled in for a long drive so he was amazed when after only fifteen minutes Bob pulled the truck over to the curb at the shabby end of Hollywood Boulevard. There seemed to be nothing there except seedy apartment buildings and a small run-down bar that had seen better days.

Darius saw Bob gaze up at the flashing 'Cocktails' sign, lost in thought. Darius cleared his throat. 'Er .. are we going in there, sir?'

Bob jerked his mind back to the present. 'Yes we are kid. You ready for our journey?'

'Yes, sir.' Darius was excited .. and a bit nervous. It was as if Bob had entered another world. Actually he had.

They got out of the truck and walked through the flapping leather strips covering the door of the bar. Coming from the glare of the sun, they entered total blackness. They stood just inside the door waiting for their eyes to adjust to the gloom. Darius heard Bob say, almost to himself, 'Yeah, that's exactly how it was.'

Finally, as their eyes adjusted, Bob asked, 'What do you see, kid?'

Darius blinked. 'Not much ... mostly empty. Couple of guys over by the wall. And two empty stools at the bar.'

'Yeah ...' Bob seemed lost again. After a long silence he shook his head as if to clear it. 'Tell me, Darius. Did you ever wonder how Randy and I first met ... where it was?'

'Lots of times, sir. None of us could ever work that out ... what really happened.' He looked at Bob and watched a smile spread over his face. Darius's eyes grew wide.

'It was here, sir. Wasn't it? It was here.' Bob didn't answer; his gaze was riveted on the bar stools. Darius guessed. 'On those very stools.'

As if in a trance Bob walked toward the bar. Darius followed him and had no idea why his own cock was getting hard. Bob sat down, Darius took the other stool and Bob began his story.

'It was a blazing hot afternoon, just like today. I had just broken up with my wife in San Francisco and was driving down to Mexico to get away from it all. I pulled off the Hollywood Freeway for a quick breather. The afternoon heat was like a furnace. I walked into the bar, exactly as we did just now.'

'The stool you're sitting on was occupied by a big mother-fucker of a guy, muscular, dark curly hair, rugged, handsome looks, a week's stubble on his chin. Judging by his filthy, sweaty clothes he was some kind of construction worker. Just then .....'

'Hey handsome.' A woman's voice broke into his reminiscence. 'Don't I know you? You've been in here before.'

Bob looked up. It was Sheila, the voluptuous bartender. So she still worked here.

'You were with that construction guy, Randy, weren't you? Often wondered what happened to that big stud. Jeez, he was one hell of a man. We had some great times.'

Bob smiled. 'You're right. I was here before. Randy and I now live together.'

Sheila frowned, her mind working overtime, putting two and two together and coming up with six or more. 'OK,' she said slowly. Then, recovering her bartender tone. 'So what'll it be guys? Two beers?'

The two guys drank a lot just as Bob and Randy had done, and Bob resumed his story.

'Randy and I got pretty drunk. I was too drunk to drive so I asked if there was a place I could sleep for a while in my car. But Randy said, hell, why not crash for a few hours in his motel room. The construction outfit had put him up there while he was in town for two months. He was here from El Paso ... his wife was still back there. He thought she was probably having an affair with another guy. That didn't seem to trouble him any. Anyway, we left.'

Bob and Darius drained their last beer, stood up and headed for the door. A voice behind them shouted, 'So long, big guy. And tell Randy to stop by if he ever wants to have a little fun again. I'm always here.'

'Will do, Sheila.'

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

The sun hit them in the face like a hammer. They started to sweat again as Bob continued to talk.

'So we left the bar and walked a short block to ....'

His voice trailed off as he looked up at the run-down motel they had come to. His eyes seemed to glaze over and Darius couldn't miss the bulge growing at the crotch of Bob's jeans. Bob breathed, almost to himself, 'Room 14.'

He went into the motel office and after a few minutes emerged with a key. Darius followed him to the door of room 14, its faded brown paint cracked and peeling. They went into the squalid, messy room and Bob stood still. 'Jesus. Oh, God. This was it.' As if in a trance he continued his story.

'He threw himself on the bed. I sat in this chair and closed my eyes. Randy laughed and said I wouldn't get much sleep there, but I could join him as the bed was big enough for two. So I did.'

Darius lay down on the bed, still dressed in his sweaty tank top and old jeans, as Randy had been. Bob took of his denim shirt, kicked of his old boots, pulled off his socks and jeans. Stripped down to his sweat-stained tank top and white boxers he lay down and closed his eyes.

The young man was rigid with excitement. He had always worshipped Bob, his beauty, his rugged, alpha maleness, and his kindness. But this was a Bob he didn't know. This was the slave, the man who had been broken in this very room, in this bed. And he was lying beside him, as Randy had done all that time ago.

There was a long, long silence and Darius began to think that Bob had fallen asleep. Then, suddenly, Bob began to moan softly and came closer to Darius. He touched him then put a leg over his and ended up with his head on Darius's chest. He spoke as if in a dream. 'I was dreaming of Sheila .. of fucking her. We were having a ball and I ended up like this, on Randy with a huge boner in my shorts.'

Darius almost stopped breathing. There was another long silence, then Darius gasped as Bob came alive and sprang up off the bed. His eyes were blazing. 'Randy was like a wild animal. I'll never forget his words, 'You fucking pervert! Faggot! You were coming on to me, shithead. Me! You didn't tell me you were a fag. Look at this,' and he slapped the bulge in my shorts.'

Bob pulled the belt out of his discarded jeans. 'Then he used this.'

Darius was wide-eyed. 'What did he do with it, sir?'

'I'll show you.'

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

A few minutes later Bob was lying on the bed spread eagled, his wrists and ankles stretched out toward the bed posts. Darius was standing astride him holding the belt. But etched in Bob's memory was not Darius but the angry, sweating construction worker.

'He had me tied down, helpless. As he looked down at me I saw fury in his eyes ... but something else too ... admiration. Then the punishment began.' Without thinking Darius ripped the tank from Bob's chest and raised the belt. He brought it down lightly on the straining, muscular body, lash after lash.

Darius was used to fantasies but he was now in a world he had never experienced. He was assuming the role of the man who had punished, whipped and broken this glorious alpha male. As Bob moaned, lost in vivid flashes of memory, Darius was amazed to see the suffering man's cock rise and become rock hard.

Bob closed his eyes and murmured, 'The punishment was relentless. He never let up. He whipped me, punched me, tortured my nipples, put a collar round my neck. All I was aware of was the pain and the sight of this incredible man, like the devil himself.'

He opened his eyes. He was seeing Randy. 'As our eyes met, for a fleeting moment, a spark flashed between us, the look that we later came to recognize, to welcome. It bound us together forever.' He winced as the memories intensified. 'But then the punishment continued. After the pain came the degradation.'

Mesmerized, Darius said softly, 'Show me, sir. Show me what happened. I want to see.'

His muscles gleaming with sweat the near naked man got off the bed and Darius followed him into the bathroom. Bob sat down on the toilet and put his arms behind his back. 'He tied my hands to the pipe behind me. He cursed at me, yelled obscenities. He said there was only one way I could stop the pain. I could beg. So I begged.

Bob closed his eyes, lost in the past. Vividly he remembered Randy towering over him. 'OK, sir. You've beaten me. I'm finished. Now I'm begging you. Do want you want with me. Please, sir .. piss on me. I need it. I'm begging you, sir. Let me feel it.'

Trembling, Darius held his cock in his hand and pointed it at the beautiful face. His bladder was full with all the beer he had drunk and now he emptied it. His hot piss streamed out and hit the prisoner's forehead, the closed eyes, ran down the chin, over the muscular chest and stomach. The stinking urine poured out of him like a raging river, soaking the shuddering man, his straining muscles gleaming in the low bathroom light.

His eyes were still shut tight, the image etched sharply in his memory, as he recalled the words he had uttered that night. 'Thank you, sir. Let me drink your piss, sir. Let me be your slave. I need to be with you, sir. You're my master.'

Darius was beside himself as he looked down at the gorgeous, shattered man, gazed at exactly the same magnificent spectacle that Randy had seen that night. The sight was too much for the young black man. His cock was rigid and it took only a few strokes to bring his climax. His cum gushed out and splashed on the broken man, mingling with the piss that still poured down his body.

Bob felt the warm liquid, smelled the sharp, sweet smell of semen and reached forward to his own rigid cock. He did not even need to stroke it. He leaned back against the wall, eyes closed, and his orgasm was instantaneous. His own fountain of cum erupted all over his body and he screamed in the euphoria of the memory of that night.

His mind's eye saw his lover as he had seen him that first time, saw again the vivid, glorious image of his master, the powerful, dark demon, the man who changed his life. He moaned in defeat. 'I love you, man. Help me. Please, sir, let me stay with you. I belong to you now, sir. I love you, Randy. You're my life.'

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

That squalid bathroom was like a holy place. Darius silently withdrew to the bedroom and lay down exhausted in body and mind. He had seen something so enthralling, so intimate, and so secret that he held his breath. Now, at last, he understood exactly why these two men had bonded like no two men before them, had crossed all boundaries of logic and convention to become lost in each other. Darius trembled .. and waited.

It was a long time before Bob came out of the bathroom. And he was a changed man. He had been through a catharsis, a purging of memory. He had needed to relive the night of pain and humiliation that had changed his life. Now he was back to the present, the confident business executive, the proud and beautiful man in control of his world.

'OK, kid. Let's get cleaned up and get out of this rat hole. I need to breathe some fresh air, and I know just the place.

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

An hour later the two men were taking in great gulps of sea air. They had showered, put on clean shirts that Bob had in the truck, and headed out to the ocean at Santa Monica. They were leaning on the railing at the end of the pier, looking down at the waves crashing on the rocks.

'It didn't end there, of course,' Bob said. 'I fought back but he won. His anger flared and he worked me over for another two days.'

'He wouldn't let you go?'

'He would have. At one point he opened the door. But I found I couldn't go through it. He wanted to kick me out .. but he found he couldn't do that either. I did eventually leave but I was a changed man, lost, and the next day I found myself back knocking on the door of room 14. He let me in. And we've been together ever since.'

Darius let all this sink in. Then, 'Can I ask you something, sir?'

'Shoot'

'You telling me all this. Does it mean I'm your boy, sir?'

'Not really, kid. But I've taken you somewhere today, somewhere private, secret, and that makes us closer than you being my boy. Besides, I'm not sure a guy can be a master to one guy and a slave to another.'

'You could, sir.'

'Maybe so. But not with a master like Randy.'

'But you're such a top man, sir. Everyone thinks of you as a master.'

'That's the only kind of guy Randy would accept as a slave .. a macho stud who matched him in looks and strength. And I am his slave, Darius. He owns me. He's incredible. No one else even comes close. I'd do anything for him. I'd walk over hot coals if he ordered me to.'

'Wow,' Darius breathed.

Bob paused. 'One more thing, kid. As I said, you and I have been somewhere secret together. And it has to be strictly between us two. No word to anyone else, even Pablo. OK?'

'Absolutely, sir.' Darius said. 'Thank you, sir. I .. I'm real flattered. You sure delivered on your promise. That was the wildest fantasy I could ever imagine.'

They walked back along the pier for a while. Then Darius said, 'Talking of Pablo, I wonder how he and Randy are getting on at the lake.'

'Like father and son, I'd say. Pablo brings out all the kindness and gentleness that Randy hides deep inside him. That kid is the best thing to happen to the big guy.

'No, sir.' Darius hesitated. 'If you don't mind me saying so .. you are.'

Just then they passed the famous carousel on the pier and stopped to watch as it went round and round.

'Look there,' said Bob pointing to a young boy riding up and down astride one of the ornate, shiny carousel horses. The kid had his arms folded tight around the horse's neck, his eyes shining, his imagination running wild.'

Bob smiled. 'He sure thinks he's riding the range. He's on such a trip.'

'Thank God for fantasy, eh, sir?'

Bob put his arm round Darius's shoulder.

'Darius, my boy ... it's all fantasy. All of it.'

Darius thought about this and naturally his imagination flared up. He was mesmerized by the carousel turning round and round to the haunting music of the calliope. A thought struck him and his eyes opened wide.

'Hey ... if this is all a fantasy, do you think it could be a dream, sir? Maybe we'll wake up and realize that all this time we've been living in another guy's fantasy!'

Bob laughed. 'Kiddo, I think you just entered the Twilight Zone.' Again he caught sight of the little boy with the shining eyes clinging tight to the neck of his horse. 'Even if you're right Darius, just like that kid there, we're sure having one hell of a ride.'

And Darius couldn't argue with that.

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

At about that time the other two couples were living out their own dreams and fantasies. And they too were secret.

Mark and Jamie were alone with each other in the solitude of the dunes ... no one for miles.

At the lake the only one to see everything that went on between Randy and Pablo was Billy. And the dog wasn't telling a soul.

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

TO BE CONTINUED IN 'A Trial Of Strength - Part 42'

 

Rob Williams

[email protected]

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