Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters mentioned herein. This is pure fiction, written for entertainment only.
This is the last chapter. I want to thank all of you who gave me your support by reading and reviewing, favorite and alerted the story. You're a swell bunch!
It had been a hectic three months but Matt was pleased to see their home finally completed. He and Jeff decided to build a monster homestead and stay under one roof. They had already moved into the main house but the contractors were putting in the final touches to the outer buildings. The fences were up and Jeff was eager to get in his beloved animals.
"The barn is huge! I can't wait to get the horses in!" Jeff appeared at his side and together, they gazed out at the magnificent expanse of land that stretched before them for miles, and beyond, the majestic mountains. Thor barked excitedly and took off in a flash, having caught sight of some animal in the distance.
Jeff hugged his brother's arm, "I love this place!" Looking up at Matt, he asked, "Are you happy, Matty?"
Matt put his arm around him. "I've never been happier," he assured him. "I'm really glad we moved out here. Just look at all these … it's ours and it's beautiful!" He took in a deep breath of the crisp country air and added, "I can't wait for winter to come around so we can go skiing. I haven't seen snow for ages!"
Jeff bounced on his heels excitedly, "I've never seen snow and I can't wait to learn how to ski! Wait … I have something to show you." He removed his cell from his pocket to show him the pictures. "Pauly sent them. They're his ski vacation photos to the Alps. I will print them out and have them framed once we get the printer in. He says hi," and he whispered gleefully to his brother, "He said they bought lots of gifts for us, I can't wait for them to come visit!" He had invited Paul and his wife to stay with them once they finished their vacation. They were in the midst of their honeymoon and should be returning the following week.
Matt laughed, "I'm sure the gifts will come in handy." He checked his watch and said reluctantly, "I wish we don't have to leave but I have to go to LA and check on the renovations to the house in Bel-Air and the office. If we have time, we can go shopping and pick up some things for the house. There's still so much to do," he said with a sigh.
He had set up a new office in LA, planning to start a management and consultant firm. The office was currently undergoing renovations and should be ready in a month. Matt decided on its location as it was close to their house in Bel-Air. Furthermore, it wasn't that far from Wyoming and he could commute back and forth between homes. Randy already promised to help by referring clients to him. With his wide business circle, he assured Matt he would have a ready pool of clients for him once he was open for business.
"Matty," Jeff turned his brother to face him, "you have to slow down. You haven't stopped to rest since we left Morocco."
Matt realized he was right. He thought back to three months ago when he had his meeting with the Directors of Emoco Corporation. It was a blessing in disguise. Benuaji didn't show up which was a relief. No names were mentioned but he gathered they must have found out what their counterparts had been doing behind their backs from their conversation with him. They assured him that they would deal with the parties concerned and requested that he kept a lid on the events that had transpired. They warned that more harm than good would come about if they were made public, that the families of the people involved might take retaliatory measures and it wouldn't bore well for him and those who were pressing charges. Matt recognized the truth in their words and gave them his word that the subject would stay closed and no report would be lodged. They were pleased and offered to pay compensation to those families whose loved ones were killed. Matt was impressed by their generosity and accepted their offer on behalf of the families involved. It was then that they made him an offer to buy over his company. It took him by surprise, he wasn't expecting that at all but it came at an opportune time. Surprisingly, they made him a generous offer, one which he could not turn down and he readily accepted. The days from then went by quickly and he was kept busy making arrangements for their departure. He put the house up for sale and tidied up the loose ends. The hardest thing was to tell the household staff of his decision and they took it very hard. Ashad understood his decision and wished him well. It took him almost a month to settle his affairs before he finally flew to Montana with Jeff to take a first-hand look at the land gifted to them by their father. They fell in love with the beauty of the place instantly and were eager to start building their new home as soon as possible. Days were spent on end meeting with interior designers, contractors, furnishers and he commuted back and forth from Montana to LA constantly to check on their progress. They stayed with Chris while their house was being built and John even moved in so he could be with Jeff. There was the question of which college to register Jeff in. They had gone through lists of colleges in and around the vicinity but Jeff couldn't make up his mind. He still wasn't certain if he wanted to go to a private college to continue his studies, stating that he might wish to continue receiving private tutoring at home. They decided to postpone the decision until they were fully settled in their new home in Montana.
Jeff brought him out of his reverie. "I know you have been busy, but we were supposed to go on a holiday together and you have completely forgotten about it," he reminded him. He had decided against joining Paul on his honeymoon vacation and was agreeable to delaying their holiday plans until their house in Wyoming was built. With the addition of works carried out at their second home in Bel-Air and Matt's new office, the delay dragged to weeks and then months. But, seeing how tired Matt had been lately, he decided it was time they took that vacation.
Matt apologized, "I'm so sorry, Jeff, I've been so caught up with everything …"
Jeff stopped him short. "It's okay, Matty, I understand. I haven't been able to help you at all and you have to deal with everything yourself, but you're exhausted. Let's just go on that vacation and by the time we get back, everything should be ready."
"You're right. Things will get done even in my absence. I don't need to stick around." He pulled Jeff to sit down on the porch steps with him. "So, where do you want to go?"
"Disneyland!" Jeff grinned at him.
Matt laughed. "That'll be our first stop. Let's go to Europe afterwards, I haven't …" but he was interrupted by the door chime.
Thor tore out from behind some bushes, barking excitedly. He raced past them into the house, clearly to welcome their visitor, whoever that might be. Jeff scrambled to his feet to open the door. "John!" he cried out gleefully and jumped into his arms. Thor barked in greeting, wagging its tail vigorously.
John put Jeff down after kissing him and squatted down to pat Thor who licked his face in greeting. "Oh mine, you have grown! You're a big fella now, aren't you?" He hadn't seen Thor for awhile. Matt had engaged a caretaker to watch him whenever he and Jeff had to go back to LA.
Matt came up to greet them, "What a pleasant surprise!" he beamed at the foursome of John, Chris, Adam and Jay.
"Adam and Jay dropped by last night. They said they wanted to see your new place so here we are. I was hoping to catch you before you head back to LA. We brought beer. Where's the kitchen?" Chris grinned from ear to ear. Matt showed him the way and after loading the drinks into the fridge, he showed their guests around.
Jay let out a low whistle as he looked out into the plains, shielding his eyes from the sun with a hand. "I read this is elk country and I bet there's plenty of game out there. Have you done any hunting yet?" he asked to which Jeff gave him a horrified look. "What? They are meant to be hunted … and eaten," Jay said in self-defense as the others chuckled.
"No hunting is allowed here!" Jeff gave him a crossed look. "We buy our meat from the supermarket!" he huffed.
"He's just joshing, Jeff. Come on, why don't you show me your bedroom?" John distracted him and urged him to go back inside the house.
"Horndogs!" Jay yelled after them, a smirk on his face. John didn't turn back but he raised his hand and showed him the middle finger. The others chortled. Thor dashed forward suddenly, barking wildly. He must have picked up some animal nearby with his acute senses.
"I bet he saw a rabbit." Jay turned to Matt, "I read that elk meat tastes better than beef, be a sport and let us do some hunting. We can have ourselves some nice, fat, tender, juicy steaks for dinner."
"Sorry Jay but you heard Jeff. I don't want to get him upset. I have an idea though, follow me," Matt said. They trekked into the woods and finally came to a stream.
"Oh my god, did you see that?" Jay gasped as trout leapt out of the water, their scales caught the rays of the sun and turned into colors of the rainbow. "The water must be teeming with them!" he exclaimed.
"Fishing anyone?" Matt asked with a big grin on his face and was met with an excited chorus of approval.
They spent the whole afternoon at the stream. John and Jeff joined them a while later. They swam, fished and caught up with one another. When Matt learned that Adam and Jay were making plans to start their own flying school, he signed himself and Jeff up for the course and told them he was prepared to help them out financially if required. They thanked him in advance, holding him to his promise.
"Drew, Randy and Stephen will be joining us later," Chris announced as he counted the number of fish they had caught and was pleased they had enough for everyone. He looked up at Adam and Jay, "I'm not sure we should carry out your plan."
"What plan?" Matt asked, looking from one to another in puzzlement.
"Adam suggested that I get Stephen jealous by playing Jay's love interest," Chris said wryly.
Matt burst into laughter. "Are you serious?"
Chris shook his head in resignation, "I can't believe I let them talk me into it."
"Hey, you're doing it because you're such a good friend. I love you Chrissy," and Jay planted a kiss on his cheek.
"Get away with me!" Chris laughingly pushed him away.
"So, you're really going to put the plan into action once Stephen gets here?" John asked with a grin.
Chris nodded, looking somewhat dubious. "I'm supposed to make him jealous and I don't know if that's even possible. I keep telling them that he has to show some interest in Jay in the first place but they refused to listen."
"It'll work," Adam said confidently. "Drew has spoken to Stephen and he promises to get him to come to this reunion. All you have to do is play your part convincingly."
"Why don't we just set them up on a date and let things take their course?" Jeff asked as he sat down beside John, clutching a big bunch of wildflowers in his hands. He had picked them and thought they would look pretty on the dining table. It would do for now as they hadn't planted any seeds into the flower beds as yet. He made a mental note to get a gardener in quickly.
"The kid is making sense here. I'm more inclined towards his plan than this crazy plan of yours," Chris remarked. When Adam and Jay glared at him, he spoke in his defense, "Well, it's only logical for them to go out on a casual date. You should stay true to your character and if he likes you, good, if not, you should look elsewhere. Don't waste your time if he's not interested."
"It's best to start things on the right note and you should be true to yourself," Matt agreed. "If you are meant to be together, it will happen. So, what time will they get here?"
"In time for dinner," Chris informed him.
"Looks like we have enough fish, we should head back to the house and start preparing dinner," Matt realized it was past five o'clock. After a quick shower, everyone helped out in the kitchen and when Drew and the others arrived at a quarter to seven, dinner was almost ready.
"The food smells great!" Stephen sniffed the air appreciatively after exchanging greetings with everyone.
"We brought wine and cheese," Randy handed over to Matt, the basket holding two bottles each of red and white wine and some of the best quality cheese. He bent to give Jeff a peck on the cheek and turned to shake John's hand, "I hope you have been taking care of Jeffrey."
"Oh yes, and I see you and Drew are looking after each other really well," John quipped, grinning mischievously.
Randy flushed as everyone laughed. "Stop teasing him!" Jay scolded and led Randy to the couch, giving Stephen a friendly smile. To his surprise, Stephen responded with a smile in greeting.
"You guys missed out on all the fun! We went fishing and guess what, we're going to have trout for dinner," Adam informed, beaming proudly.
"Oh man, I wish I could join you guys earlier but you know how it is with my work," Randy seemed a little disappointed.
Jay frowned at him disapprovingly, "Have you been working long hours again and neglecting poor Drew?"
"No mama, I work the usual nine to 5 and then, I go home to have dinner with Drew and Terror. I've been a good boy," Randy grinned. Everyone burst into laughter.
Jay beamed. "I don't have to tell you that you have a good man there, so don't take him for granted."
Chris made his appearance from the kitchen, donning an apron with a bandanna tied around his forehead. "Dinner will be ready in ten minutes. You can sit your ass down at the table" and he disappeared into the kitchen again.
"Chris is cooking?" Stephen laughed.
"We all helped but he likes to be in charge so we let him have the kitchen to himself. He's a great cook, so you're all in for a treat!" Jay informed with great pride. Stephen's eyes twinkled with amusement.
Later that night, after a sumptuous dinner, everyone headed outside. They spread themselves on rattan chairs on the porch, drinks in hand. Jeff and John made themselves cozy on a swing.
"This is nice, reminds me of my old home in Missouri" Randy remarked as he gazed at the stars in the night sky. Bullfrogs croaked and other creatures called out in the night from around them.
"How are things with you and your dad? Have you guys made up yet?" Adam enquired.
Randy shrugged. "As long as he treats mom right, I can be civil. I haven't been down to see her as much as I want to as I've been avoiding him. She calls me twice a week and as far as I can tell, she sounds pretty happy to me."
"I know it will be a while before you can forgive him," Matt spoke up. "We all make mistakes and he has made more than his fair share but he tried to atone for them. He's your father. Try to let bygones be bygones. I wish our dad is here with us now," he said wistfully.
Randy looked a little uneasy, but Drew squeezed his hand reassuringly. "Time will heal all wounds."
"How was the trip to the Maldives?" Jay changed the subject abruptly, bringing them to happier topics. Stephen studied him thoughtfully.
Randy broke into a grin as he gushed, "It was fantastic! I feel totally rejuvenated! We went snorkeling and the water was crystal clear! We even saw a shark up close and the experience was out of this world! We had a great time and we're already making plans to visit New Zealand at the end of the year. Both of us haven't been there."
"Jeff and I were just making plans as to where to go on vacation before we start on the next phase of our lives. If you're interested, you're welcome to come with us," Matt extended an invitation to all of them.
"Where are you guys going?" Adam asked.
"Disneyland!" Jeff chirped from his swing. "M-I-C-K-E-Y ... M-O-U-S-EEEE…" he sang. "I'm going to buy lots and lots of toys!" and squealed when John tickled his ribs playfully.
"We're going to tour Europe as well," Matt added. "Chris, John, you're coming with us, the treat's on me." At their surprised looks, he said, "You were shot trying to protect us, it's the least I can do."
Jeff pulled John's face towards him, "You didn't think I forget, did you? I told you we will visit Disneyland together." John kissed him. "Thank you" and he thanked Matt as well for the invite.
"Any problems taking leave for a month?" Matt enquired from both of them. Chris and John had resumed their duties at the LA Police Department.
"We can arrange for it, when do you want to leave?" Chris asked.
"I've delayed long enough," Matt said with a guilty look towards Jeff. "I'm going to call the travel agent tomorrow. Let's leave on Monday then." That was just three days away and Jeff squealed happily, jumping up from the swing.
"What are you doing?" Matt laughed as Jeff tugged at John's hand, urging him to follow.
"I need to pack for a month and I need John to help me!" Both men disappeared into the house.
With Jeff out of earshot, Drew took the opportunity to ask, "Has Benuaji been giving any problems?"
"How did you know?" Matt was taken aback.
"I have my doubts that he would leave Jeff alone so easily. That whole situation when he came to your rescue and spared our guys, he must have been given an ultimatum. I think he really didn't have a choice then but to let him go."
Matt decided to confide in them. "He found out where we're staying and wrote several letters to Jeff. I didn't give them to Jeff though."
"Does John know about this?" Randy asked, genuinely concerned.
Matt nodded. "I told him and Chris when the first letter came. I'm afraid to let Jeff go anywhere by himself. Benuaji could be stalking him but I've been watching closely and so far, I haven't sighted him around here."
"Why don't you talk to the directors of Emoco and see if they can get him to leave Jeff alone," Adam suggested.
"I thought of that but it seems to be a personal matter and I don't know if they would interfere under the circumstances," Matt said.
"But, we can't just sit back and do nothing!" Jay spoke up. "What if he gets bold and tries to snatch Jeff again?"
"Don't say that!" Adam smacked him on the head.
"But, he's a dangerous man and we should take every precaution!" Jay retorted. "Do you still have those letters he sent to Jeff?" he asked Matt.
"Yes, I kept them in a safe. Why?" Matt asked.
"We should read the letters and find out exactly what he wants from Jeff."
"It doesn't seem right to read someone else's letters," Adam pointed out.
Jay rolled his eyes. "This is not the time to be moralizing, Addy. We need to find out his motives."
He had them convinced and Matt quickly went into the house to fetch the letters from his safe. They read all the twelve letters and it was obvious that Benuaji was besotted with Jeff. He clearly stated he wanted to have a relationship with him and in all his letters, he pledged his undying devotion, promising to cherish him and give him whatever his heart desired. He asked why Jeff didn't reply to him and they detected the frustration in his words.
"He won't give Jeff up," Jay stated after they finished reading the letters. "If Jeff doesn't reply to his letters, he may decide to come and see him in person."
"I won't allow Jeff to have any direct contact with him. Benuaji is a sly one and God knows what he will do. I have to put a stop to this once and for all, I will talk to him myself," Matt made his decision.
"Talk to who Matty?" Jeff appeared with John and joined them. Matt quickly gathered up the letters but Jeff got his hand on a page.
"What's this?" His eyes widened in shock when he realized who wrote the letter. "Did he write all those as well?" Matt confirmed with a reluctant nod. "Why didn't you tell me, Matty?"
"I don't want you to worry." Matt handed the letters over and said, "I thought I should read them to find out what he wants from you, I didn't mean to intrude," he said apologetically.
"May I see them?" John requested.
Jeff hesitated but handed them over. "We will read them together," he decided.
John stated grimly after they read every single letter, "He's trying to woo you. I'm not going to let him take you away from me!"
"I won't leave you," Jeff assured him. He thought for a moment and said, "I'll just write back and tell him not to write to me anymore as I've found my special someone."
"I don't see any harm doing it your way, but if he persists, then, I may have to talk to him myself and set him straight," John stated firmly.
"You write that letter, Jeff and I will also speak to him," Matt said. "If John steps in, he might feel affronted. I'll get his number and call him within the next few days." He turned to his guests, "Why don't you stay for the night, we have plenty of room. Jeff and I will take you on a scenic tour of the place in the morning," he promised.
He told them of the predominant mountain ranges in Montana and suggested a hike through the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness which extends south into Wyoming and north to Bozeman. Grizzly bears, mountain goats, elk, bighorn sheep and even mountain lions are just some of the animals that call the area. Everyone welcomed the idea enthusiastically and they decided to set out early the following morning. They stayed up for another couple of hours before turning in close to midnight.
John stayed with Jeff in his room. As they cuddled together, John had to ask, "I know you don't want to talk about that time Benuaji kidnapped you, but I need to know if he hurt you in any way."
Jeff was nervous but decided to tell him the truth, "No, he didn't hurt me, but … he made love to me. Are you mad at me?" he gave him a worried look.
John hugged him. "How can I be mad at you when it's not your fault? You were in no position to deny him, but do you have any feelings for him?"
"He was kind to me and he protected me. I'm grateful to him but I don't love him, I love you, John," Jeff said earnestly.
"I love you too, Jeff," John declared and proceeded to make love to him. He loved the feel of Jeff's walls around him, fiercefully tight and warm and he loved how he cried out when he moved against him. It was perfect when they were joined and moved as one in sync, it was like they were made for each other. Jeff was timid but always eager to please in bed and John always tried to coax him to tell him what and how he liked it.
"Do you like that?" John asked as he rotated his pelvis, grounding into him slowly. Jeff whimpered as he nodded and clenched his legs tighter around him, desperately trying to pull him in further. "Tell me what you want," John said encouragingly as he pulled out. Jeff whined in protest, trying to pull him back in with his legs and arms. "No, tell me what you want first," John insisted.
"I want you back inside me," Jeff pleaded. John obliged, filling him slowly, drawing pleasurable moans from the boy beneath him. Once he was buried to the hilt, he stopped moving, "What else?" he teased him with gentle thrusts of his hip.
"Please John … I…I want it hard and fast … please …" Jeff gasped out and John complied with his wishes. His cries were sweet music to his ears. They fed on each other's passion and raced towards climax and finally plummeted down together. John withdrew and pulled him to lie in his arms. Both fell asleep, completely satiated, as lightning raged outside.
It rained heavily during the night but by morning, the rain had stopped. The mist covered plains lent an almost surreal feeling to the surroundings. On Matt's advice, Jeff left Thor behind. They didn't want him to get lost by chasing after animals in the wilderness. They drove out in two vehicles and got to their destination under an hour. They brought water with them and Matt led the way up the mountain trail with a map and compass to guide them. He handed out two rifles and a gun, in case they needed to scare off any predators that might cross their path. After an hour of trekking through heavy vegetation, they stopped to rest.
"This is not as easy as it looks," Jay grumbled as he picked a spot to rest, but the next moment, he sat up. "Did you hear that?" he whispered fearfully. He distinctly heard a low rumble, almost like a growl.
John pulled out his gun and pushed Jeff behind him, he heard the growl too. "Did you say this is bear country?" he asked, studying their surroundings warily.
"Yes, that and mountain lions as well. We should move out, stay close together," Matt had his rifle cocked, ready to fire when needed. They made haste to leave the area, continuing up the trail. Stephen brought up the rear, armed with the other rifle.
"That was a close call," Jay said with a shudder. "I don't want to make headlines for getting mauled by a grizzly or eaten by a mountain lion."
Stephen laughed. "Then keep moving, I think we were too close to their habitat. We'll be fine as long as we stay out of their way."
It made sense and Jay picked up his pace. They continued their hike and Matt brought them to the edge of a fifty-foot waterfall.
"It's beautiful!" Jeff exclaimed. "Let's head down and go for a swim!" Everyone was in for it and they picked their way down. They stripped to their shorts and jumped in, yelping at the shock of freezing water.
"Brrr…. the water's freezing!" Jay shivered violently. With a mischievous grin, Stephen swam up and pushed his head underwater. He laughed when Jay came up, spluttering with indignation, "Why did you do that for?"
"I got you hot, didn't I?" Stephen grinned, his eyes twinkling with amusement. Jay's anger dissipated and he broke into a grin.
"So, you're a wise guy, I'll get you for it!" and he gave chase, splashing after Stephen, who swam out of his reach with strong easy strokes and taunted him to try and catch him.
Jeff found the water too cold for his liking and decided to get out. "Co..colddd…" he shivered, hugging himself as he made for his pile of clothes on the rocks. He didn't see Benuaji who moved out from behind some trees. He had been following them since they left the house.
"Jeff!" John shouted a warning as he saw him first and immediately headed to shore. The others, who were further out were already making their way back to Jeff's aid.
"Why didn't you reply to my letters?" Benuaji asked with cold fury as he approached Jeff, who backed away from him slowly, fear on his face. "What's your relationship with that man?" Benuaji pointed to John who had just came ashore. Jeff turned to flee towards John but Benuaji caught his arm and forced him to face him. "Answer me!" he shook him.
"Let him go!" John ordered as he stepped forward but froze when Benuaji pulled out a gun and pointed it at him.
"Please don't shoot," Jeff pleaded, fearing for John's life.
"Why didn't you answer my letters?" Benuaji demanded again.
"He didn't know about them, I kept them from him." Matt approached him warily. "I only gave him the letters last night. I want to talk to you about that." Their weapons were lying on the rocks and they couldn't get to them with Benuaji in the way.
"That man," Benuaji indicated to John, "I recognize him. He's one of your bodyguards. What is he to you?" he asked Jeff.
Jeff couldn't lie to save his life and told him the truth. "He's my boyfriend and I love him."
Benuaji's face contorted with rage. "You chose him over me?" he spat out with disbelief.
Jeff swallowed nervously and tried to mollify him. "Please, I'm very grateful for what you did back then to protect me, but I don't love you."
All of them were startled when loud growls came from behind the trees and a large grizzly came charging out. Benuaji froze in fear as the bear stood on its hind legs and just as it was about to swipe at him, two shots rang out and the bear went down on all fours. It hesitated and changing its mind, took off towards the cover of the trees. Benuaji turned and realized it was John who fired the warning shots to scare away the grizzly. Mixed emotions played on his face as he approached John. They faced each other and Benuaji finally spoke with a dignified air, "Thank you for saving my life." He proffered his hand in a gesture of goodwill and John accepted it.
Benuaji gripped his hand hard and pulled him slightly towards him, "He chose you, so don't disappoint him."
Their eyes met and John's mouth curved into a smile, "I won't," he promised.
Benuaji released his hand and turned to Jeff. "I didn't mean to scare or hurt you and if I did, I hope you can forgive me."
Jeff stepped up and gave him a hug. "All is forgiven."
Benuaji embraced him tightly. "He's a good man. I won't intrude into your life again," and he turned quickly and disappeared into the trees.
John took Jeff into his arms. "Are you alright?"
Jeff nodded, tucked safely into his arms. "I've been on a roller coaster these past few months. I've lived more so the last three months than I've lived for the last eighteen years. I never thought I'd leave Morocco and I never thought I'd fall in love, but I did and I have. I have a lot to be thankful for."
John couldn't agree more with him. "It's strange how things turned out the way they did. I was in a bad place on the other side of the ocean till fate brought us together. I found you in the oddest places, but here I am, with you in my arms and I'd never dream that was possible three months ago. Never say never for anything's possible as long as we keep chasing our dreams."
- THE END -
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