makarovia-II-1

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Subject: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is, Chapter 1 Sophomore Year Begins Story: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is Chapter 1 Sophomore Year Begins Author: Eric McQueen ail) Adult Readers, Sexual Situations, Sex Freedom of expression is precious. To do that Nifty needs help. Your donation is greatly desired. Give to fty/ or this story ends and all the others! That would be a crime! First chapter of the second year. They show the new house and unwrap a new mystery. School starts. Sophomore Year Begins I woke with an interesting sensation. I was feeling this warm, light tickle on my neck. I didn’t stop him, but I moved. “Not a bad way to wake up.” Peter moved so I could see him. “You’re awake!” He said happily. “You wanted me to be!” “So, I could do this!” He said diving under the covers. What I’d done to him the morning of his birthday…and later that day and more times than I could count. He began doing to me. Peter was great! He kissed very well and well…he did this well, too! He took his time, but it didn’t take too long before he got what he was doing it for. I saw the covered lump come up and his head came into view. Sleep tossed hair and a big smile. I tell you; he was just…sexy! I put my arms around him bringing him into a deep kiss that was just as soft, tender, and full of so much love. “I love you,” Peter said. “Yes, I know. I love you.” “I know.” Peter smiled. “I don’t need my gift box. I know what I want to do, right now.” Later we got up and had to get used to where things were in this new house. Getting dressed…and it was daylight now opposed to being still dark out when I was delightfully woken up. I went to the window that had that sheer curtain over the opening and looked out. Normal light morning traffic went by. The home where we were in had a fence that lined the property’s edge. The drive in was curved and had two entrances in and leaving the property. There were gates. I didn’t see them last night. They must have been open knowing we were coming, it was dark. There was a rounded garden at the center between the driveway and fence. There was a pole on which…was a flag! I’d seen the design before and knew it was the emblem of Makarovia. Black and red. A black triangle took up the top left, a red triangle on the took up bottom right. The two dragons faced each other with a shield between them with a lion on the shield, the words Honor Virutis Preamium for “Honor is the reward of virtue.” It was Latin. I spoke English, Ukrainian and now Makarovian…I considered Latin, but I opted not to take it, but was told what that meant. Oh, and I did know some Russian, that was a hard language with letters in their alphabet that don’t have a sound at all! What!? I looked at my ring. There is was the Makarovian shield. Then I noticed people across the street on the sidewalk carrying signs. Those hand-painted ones with “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” “Sodomy is Sin.” and “Burn in Hell.” People also were taking pictures of these people. I sighed thinking, not this again as Peter came up behind me buttoning his shirt as he came over to me. He looked out, too. “Who are they?” Peter frowned and read the signs. “Adam and Eve?” I turned around and pressed him back away from the window. “What we talked about before…what we’re doing by getting married…” then laughed to take the moment in a lighter direction, “then again what we did a few minutes ago…some people think it’s wrong. This is a group that thinks that it is wrong.” “Fine, but why are they here?” Peter asked waving to the street unnerved. “I don’t understand. What do they hope to accomplish doing this?” I shrugged. “I don’t know…to get us to realize the error of our ways? To tell the world we’re wrong? Make us repent?” I smiled. “Well, I’m not convinced at all. I’m marrying you.” That’s when we heard louder speaking, chanting and a voice on a bullhorn, but faint. “This is an unlawful assembly. You must leave this area immediately. If you do not, you will be arrested.” A male voice said. Going back to the window there were three police cars with their lights going and escorting some people away. Now, four of our own security was at the gates speaking with an officer. Another police car arrived and officers were coming for the people protesting. There were a few being taken to a police car or two. “Peter, we have had a great response from a lot of people since we got together and were accepted, no problem,” I said. “But we’re known now.” Peter nodded. “The crazies know us, too.” Then he smiled at me. “Yes, I’m marrying you. No one can talk me out of that!” He said kissing me quickly. “I’m hungry!” He grabbed my hand and practically dragged me after him. “It’s still early!” I said. We were still on European Time. It was much later in the day in Makarovia and London, so we were awake! It hadn’t been even sunrise when Peter had woken me up. Now it was barely after six thirty in the morning! “I can cook,” Peter said. I chuckled remembering the two meals he did make. “No, you can’t, Peter.” As we went in the hall. “Do you know where the kitchen even is in this house?” “No, but it’s sort of a unique room, we’ll recognize it.” He grinned as we headed to the main stairs. “It has the refrigerator and oven in it. I’ve seen a few before.” He pulled me closer and threw his arm around my waist as we made our way to the foyer. “I figured we’d start where Boris pointed out where it was and go from there.” Going down the hall below the stairs. We passed a smaller room that looked like a nice dining room. Rich, glossy, dark wood all polished. The upper portion was nicely wallpapered again with a light beige or brown. Dark on light was the pattern…I’m not that kind gay who knows, so don’t ask. The lower portion under an elegant chair rail (I knew what that was!) was dark wood paneled. A dining room table that had seating for ten, four on each side and two on the ends. A china cabinet with a nice collection of plates, glasses…china. A nice light fixture overhead not on. The room wasn’t being used. At the end of this hall was…ta da…the kitchen! Walking in we both stopped and stared. Instead of saying damn, we both let out a slow whistle. I’ll say it often. It was huge! Everything you could think you’d need was in here! Not one, but two of those big stoves, silvery metal, and gas. Four ovens, two below each stove. Two dishwashers. A couple of those fancy Kitchenaid-like mixers. Toasters that had two looong slots down on two sides. I imagined many slices of bread was done at one time. A refrigerator? Sure, one that had glass doors and huge, but everything inside was organized and neat. That was Boris. Another that had to be a freezer, equally huge. A huge metal door that told me was a walk-in freezer. Now, it was Peter’s turn. “Damn.” He waved at the kitchen. “This could be in a restaurant!” “Peter, Eric…I thought you might be up early.” Boris said…and looking very, un-Boris-like. He had on a robe! It was a nice robe, but…it was hard to imagine him not in those dark pants, white shirt, and a dark vest over it. He always wore that. “I’ll make you something really quick.” “I can cook, Boris,” I said smiling. Boris smiled with a nod. “I know you can, but you don’t know where I keep things.” He said simply walking further in. “It’s what I was hired for.” He waved at the dining portion of the kitchen. A simpler table for six, round in a sunny area. “Sit.” “Boris…do you…” We heard and saw Yuri come in, also in a robe that was loose around his chest, showing chest hair over some toned muscles. His hair on his head was so short, it wasn’t messed up. He froze. “Peter, Eric…” I chuckled. “And you’re Yuri. We all know our names.” “I’m getting your coffee,” Boris said patiently smiling at his husband. “Sorry, Boris said you might be up.” Yuri pulled his robe around tighter around his chest. “I came about the shirt I needed.” Boris nodded and pointed. “It’s over there…near the laundry room hanging ready for you.” “Thank you. I need to go out with our security.” Yuri explained to us. “Because of that group out there?” Peter asked. “You saw them,” Yuri said nodding. “They are being arrested. I need to go talk to the officers.” He said going to get his shirt. “Who were they, Boris?” I asked. “Some odd church group,” Boris said shaking his head as he prepared something…coffee. “Can I help with the coffee?” I asked. Boris pointed to this…well…it was big and brass! It had several places to put pots, cups, and different things for the coffees. It could probably chemically do…anything. I was kind of scared to get near it. Boris nodded with a chuckle. “That’s what I thought. I’m making the coffee. Whatever you want. I’ll show you how to use it and you can make some tomorrow. Now, sit.” He looked at us. “I know what you two drank before…that hasn’t changed, has it?” “No.” Peter and I said at the same time as we went to the table and sat. “Why was the group out there? What do they want?” Peter asked. “For us to stop being gay.” Boris shrugged. “They’ve bothered us since we moved in.” “They have the right to protest,” I said, not really wanting to give them that freedom. Not really. Boris began to put the coffee in and began the machine which whirred to life to make Peter his Espresso and me, my Vanilla Latte! Peter’s was hot and mine was iced. He had to add the ice, but it was at the same time! “Yes, they have the right as Americans, with a permit.” He moved to the cabinets to get something. “They don’t have the permit. Certainly not for this neighborhood.” I nodded. “What is the neighborhood? I don’t know where we are.” “We’re near Brookline Hill.” “Oh, near Brookline Hill…but, not in Brookline?” I asked to confirm. “That’s right.” Boris nodded. “It will be a direct drive on Boylston Street to Washington Street and to Huntington Avenue to get the University. It’s not but a few miles east of here. They began protesting, the mayor and the governor told them no.” He shrugged. “They were warned many times.” He smiled at us. “I think since you are now here. They won’t be coming back or they may face more stringent charges. The President of the United States won’t allow it.” Peter nodded. “Because of the uranium.” “Of course.” Boris nodded. “As I understand it, King Olek is giving the uranium to them in exchange for helping us get it out. They are using some military to protect Makarovia, but no money out of pocket for the United States.” “Except wages, getting their people there and equipment needed.” Peter pointed out. “What we have is what they want. They will work to get it out, but they come out better in the long run. Money in the billions is being saved.” Boris said logically. “That’s more important than what this group feels or their right to say anything against what you’re doing.” “But how does this get these people anywhere?” Peter still wasn’t understanding. I touched Peter’s hand. “It’s okay. You were raised…Eastern Orthodox. Do you think those that follow Allah, Buddha, some other god or nothing at all is wrong?” “That’s not up to me what they believe or don’t,” Peter said simply. “There are people that think if we do this we need to be stopped.” I waved at the street. “They are part of a group that thinks it is up to them to stop us. There are…” I didn’t know the word in Ukrainian or Makarovian, so I said it in English. “zealots?” Peter shook his head. So, I went back to Makarovian. “…they believe in what they think is so right they willing to die for that. Like the suicide bombers or like these people. Hopefully, they aren’t that convinced about it.” Yuri came in looking like Yuri again. “I’ll come back for the coffee.” He said and was about to walk out, but looked at me and Peter and smiled, turned, and kissing Boris. He remembered what I said! It wasn’t a bad kiss as he did put some feeling in it, but he had to go to work. Boris smiled as he handed us our various coffees. “Should I start breakfast? Or can I change into some clothes first?” I grinned at Peter, then Boris. “I don’t know. I like seeing this side of you two, but if it makes you feel better. Peter, can you wait?” Peter nodded. “Sure.” He sipped on his Espresso. “Ooh.” He said touching his lips. “That’s why I like my latte iced.” I smiled but realized more. “This year will be different. It will be more dangerous here.” Peter nodded and his face was just a flash of what he went through almost a year ago. “But you’re not leaving.” It was said with…almost confidently. “You know I won’t leave you, Peter,” I said softly. “I love you. Say it.” I encouraged quietly. Peter chuckled. “You love me.” He nodded. “I know.” I jumped up. “Let’s see the rest of the house!” “My Espresso!” “Which needs to cool.” I nodded. “Mine’s cold, so I’m good. Just the grand dining room and living room. Come on.” The room across off the kitchen on the opposite side of the center hallway was much, much bigger. It came out again. “Daaamnn.” I swore slowly. Twice as big as the other dining room, but this was papered from floor to ceiling. A nice whitish brown paper, pictures that were paintings…oil paintings. A beautiful mantle of marble around a fireplace and dining room table that could fit twenty or more! The ceiling had that molding in two circular patterns where two smaller versions of the chandelier in the foyer hung over the table. Off to the side was a china closet! A room to keep the dishes in! The door was open now. I could see them. There was enough room between the table and walls so no one would be crowded. “I’m telling you now. Unless Olek or Mom has a dinner here,” I pointed with my thumb back toward the kitchen. “I’m eating in there with Yuri and Boris.” Peter just nodded as he looked around the room. The living area was just as big! Wood paneling here, no chandelier, but a molded ceiling with nice lights. A fireplace with two long couches to make a conversation area. Coffee or cocktail tables and side tables and lamps. Other areas where they could sit in groups or just stand…there was room. “Who could have owned this?” Peter asked. The front door opened and Yuri walked in with Penny. “…arrested.” Yuri was saying to her. “They were warned.” “You called the police,” Penny said to confirm with Yuri as she would have to tell whoever called about it. “No.” He smiled. “The American Security Force called them.” He pointed with his thumb outside. He saw us in the living area. “Here they are!” Penny looked up and smiled at us. “Welcome back!” She greeted. “Thank you,” Peter said. “Forgive me, but the American Security Force?” Yuri nodded. “They patrol outside the house. The Makarovian Security is inside the house. It was the Americans that called the police.” He shrugged. “They have their orders. Not from me, but from the President Herself!” He said appreciatively. “The police will be on call.” “Really?” I smiled. Penny nodded. “The United States and Great Brittan is putting too much effort into this to get what you have. No little disgruntled group would dare to offend you.” She smiled. “When you’re ready, we can go over some things you might be interested mezitli escort in.” We went back to the kitchen where Boris was back dressed like he always did. We were gone long enough for Peter’s Espresso to get cool, which he drank down, ready for another. Boris was…friendlier! He smiled more. Then I saw more people come in. Workers! Boris wasn’t doing it all himself, he was in charge! “I think Boris likes it here,” I said to Peter as we ate our breakfast. Even Yuri was more relaxed and sat at the table with us and talked. He was in charge of internal security. It wasn’t really about being in charge, but they were being relied on. He began warning us. “…and no more runs to Walmart or to Jocks without an escort.” Yuri warned, but chuckled. “It was told to me about that. I hear you have a mean punch, Eric.” I shrugged. “I can take care of myself…and Peter.” “I understand, but things…are different now.” He cautioning us what we should think about. “We know, Yuri,” I said sadly. “We really do. What we saw outside sort of drove that home. Going to class? Has that changed?” Yuri nodded. “There will be more security for both of you.” He saw Peter’s and my face. He sighed. “This is difficult, I can only imagine what you’re feeling. This house was leased for what it contained, security and amenities. There’s everything here. There’s even a pool!” “That we can use for a month?” I asked. “Year-round. It’s indoors.” Yuri said. “You have a gym…even a billiard room. You’ll be here a year, possibly three more years.” “Who was this guy!?” I asked. Yuri shrugged. “All I know is…it was built by a wealthy man about forty years ago. It was bought by a man named Jensen. I suspect foreign money was used. Jensen added the security measures and electronics…he lost the money. He had to sell. There were several offers to buy it recently and so the government stepped in and took it while in foreclosure. They offered it to King Olek to use until someone can acquire it.” “That’s awfully convenient,” I said slowly as my suspicions rose. Yuri nodded shaking his finger at me. “I thought the same thing you are, it’s too convenient!” He looked at me. “I’m not suspecting any party…yet. I’ve had the place checked over and over. No surveillance I can detect. I opted not to use the computer system installed in this house, we have our own. It’s secure. Any conversations by computer with King Olek and Queen Alla that is secure using no connection with anything in this house. The two you have upstairs, the one I use and even Penny’s is safe.” “Why it’s foreign money?” Peter asked. “I’ve inquired many times,” Yuri said. “I don’t have anyone to suspect, but Jensen didn’t have that much until he invested in some foreign deals.” “But you don’t trust anyone.” I smiled. “No,” Yuri said he threw his hands up. “I could be totally wrong about it.” “But…” Peter asked. “This Jensen got here five years ago,” Yuri said. “Now, the uranium was found ten years ago, the house went into foreclosure a year ago!” “I was planning to go here for school a year and a half ago,” Peter whispered. “You think someone is doing this? On purpose.” “I don’t know what to think,” Yuri stressed. “But the perfect house becomes available…just after you came to school here because he lost money!? Or just stopped paying? I can detect no bugs or surveillance, but I’m not convinced there aren’t any.” He smiled. “The United States Government is so focused on protecting you…but someone had to suggest this house. I’m going through all the American Securities personnel files. They checked the house for bugs and surveillance, but I want to make sure they are who they say they are. There is a private firm I’m having this place gone over. They have good results and a good track record. I checked them out myself. If there is something here, they will find it.” He smiled. “They are a mixture of American and Canadian, but not politically connected to either country.” He smiled now. “In the meantime, enjoy this. There’s nothing to get from you two. King Olek in potential jeopardy. You will be watched. If they threaten you, that could force King Olek’s hand. You don’t talk to King Olek about the uranium and there are no Makarovian secrets…but we’re talking billions of dollars. Something will happen. I feel it.” “But you’re not worried about bugs now?” I asked. “I can’t find them.” He looked up. “If there is…” he said louder, “we’ll find it.” “Why won’t they tell you who it was, the investor? It should be on the record.” Peter said. “Records can be lies. Who set it up may be lying. We will find them.” Yuri promised. “Is the American Forces controlled? Military wise?” I asked. “Yes.” Yuri nodded. “I don’t think it’s them, but there is something…not right.” He patted both me and Peter on the arm. “I won’t let anything happen to you two, King Olek or Queen Alla.” Peter smiled nodding. “Thanks, Yuri.” I didn’t like that there might be something more going on. Yet, there were things that were, how do I say it? If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it usually isn’t true. Since we had time and Peter wasn’t hungry anymore, we looked at the rest of the house. We went into a room half the size of the living area that had a grand piano. To me, it was nice, again with the higher ceiling and moldings. Then behind it, deeper in the house was a library. There were shelves and shelves of books. The room was wood paneled and very nice. I didn’t see one room without a fireplace, but this one was set up for reading, smaller couches, and chairs set around to do that. We went to the billiard room. It had the pool table…not a billiard table, there is a difference as pool tables had pockets, a true billiards did not or was that snooker? It was a pool table. This one was not the one that you get the ball in the pocket and it rolled to a retrieval slot. These were leather pockets. There were the assortment of pool cues on the wall. Again, wood paneled and a fireplace. Through another door led to a hallway that took us to some offices and bedrooms for the live in security and then Boris and Yuri. We didn’t go in those. We found the stairs in the back! Only, the stairs went down, too! You didn’t know that in the foyer. “Let’s see what’s down here,” Peter said with the excitement of new discovery taking my hand as we went down. The difference between Charleston and Boston is, Charleston was close to the water, too, but in Charleston, we were too close to the waterline so that was why you would saw all those houses where the first floor was really on the second floor. You hit water if you dug basement there. Here, it wasn’t a problem. We walked into…a big pool! It this Greco-Roman style with the columns. Murals on the wall depicted a really nice, realistic sunny beach with palm trees. I don’t know what size the pool was, but you could do laps. You could smell the chlorine! Still blue water with no diving board, but tiled nicely in the pool and around it with the stone lady ready to pour more water in, but was just standing there now. The room was the width of the house! The room, not the pool. Over to the side was…exercise equipment! Stair steppers, that odd Nordic track-like thing like a treadmill and a regular treadmill and weight machines! Peter and I walked toward a series of lounges that were plush, covered in a waterproof fabric but soft. I looked at the wall where there was a control panel for something. “Sunflower lights?” I read on a labeled panel with a code. I entered the code on the keypad hitting “on.” Over the lounges, a series of what I thought were just recessed lights in the ceiling, but it was now a sunny day. It was brightly lit! We were underground! “Peter, that’s real sunlight!” “How?” Peter looked up at the lights that he had to shield his eyes to do like looking up at the sun! “There must be something up there…that follows the sun and directs the sunlight down here. They had it in Japan. I saw it on one of those incredible inventions show.” I said smiling as I held my hand out. “It even feels warm!” Peter shook his head. “It’s still summer out.” He said a little dismissing. “No, the sun shines in the winter. I saw it. Those whatevers above us catches the light and it’s piped or whatever it down here!” I grinned. Peter marveled at the lights. “We’ve got to get one of these for Makarovia!” He looked at the panel and hit another code, we were now hearing the soft sound of some waves coming to shore and a seagull or two. He brightened. “You can choose with…or without seagulls.” He hit some buttons and now there was just the soft sound of the surf. “Whoever owned it…made whatever changes. He had money.” I stated the obvious. Peter nodded bringing me close putting his arms around me from behind pulling me back against him. “Okay, Eric…it’s okay. The mystery will be solved.” He assured softly in my ear. “By the man trained and was hired to do the job. Let Yuri do his job. He’s very good at it or Olek won’t have trusted him.” I smiled my arms over his sort of caressing his arms as they held me. “You’re right, but I hate it when things don’t add up.” Peter turned me around and kissed me gently. “Yes, just…” he thought, “stop trying to figure out the answer until you see the equation. You don’t even know the equation to know the math needed to solve it.” I know my eyes widened as I turned to look at him. “Did you just come up with that? That was…pretty good.” I gave an appreciative grin as I returned another kiss, my lips lingering against his. “Almost poetic.” “I’m capable of poetry.” He said lightly smug. “Yes, you are.” We kissed again with more intent. Will I bore you telling you I loved him? Going back up, we saw more employees. There were the additional security men and others doing things about the house. We passed by some of the offices used by Yuri and Penny. Looking into Penny’s office, it was nice. A little bigger than the one in the townhouse, but it was…feminine, of course. More girly things in it. She looked up from her computer, that thing in her ear so she could listen or talk on the phone without holding anything to be able to keep typing. Her smile came up seeing us. “I know you’ve seen more of the house. What do you think?” “It’s very nice,” I said. “I know you’ll be comfortable.” She said rolling in her chair to a filing cabinet. She quickly found what she wanted and handed us a folder that contained some things. “Here are some requests for interviews I’ve gone through.” She smiled at us. “You two are quite the celebrities now.” Peter looked with me over some of the different papers with requests. “I know some of these.” He read. He pointed at one. “I know her.” “Sure.” I smiled. “Ellen DeGeneres, I love her comedy. I loved as she was the voice of Dory in Finding Nemo. She wants us on to come on her show.” I grinned at one I knew. “We just left London. Do you know Graham Norton? He’s…a little over the top, but so funny.” I read more of them. “There are other requests from others like Out and Advocate…regular news requests for interviews…” I nodded as I read. “I know this one. Out and About. We get married in ten months; we have time.” I chuckled. “And there is our school schedule to think about.” Then I remembered this time last year going to get the copy of scheduled events and other things where I met Ted. “I guess we won’t be going to any parties this year.” Then I remembered. “I guess I need to sell my car.” “Why?” Peter asked surprised. “I like your car. You love that car.” “I don’t drive anymore, Peter,” I said simply. “We’re taken to school and everywhere else. Yuri would have a heart attack if I even think of driving anywhere. No more trips to Walmart or the mall.” “You can in Makarovia.” Peter said. “We can have it shipped there.” I nodded. “Okay.” I sighed. “Do we do any of the beginning of the year stuff for Northeastern?” Penny smiled a little sadly. “I have what you usually get from the University.” She went back to the cabinet and handed us another envelope. “You both pre-registered for the classes you want to take online. Here are your class schedules and their locations. If there are any events you want to go to, you need to let Yuri know. Things like…a football game or dance…arrangements will need to be made before hand with Yuri.” I saw another one. “It seems our presence is requested by Northeastern’s LGBT advocacy group. They also request an interview for the NSUNews. That one shouldn’t be difficult to do.” I chuckled. “We begin school again next week.” “We need to talk to Yuri to see how that will work before that.” Peter said. Going back in the kitchen area Yuri was speaking to one of the security men. He was speaking English, so it must have been one of the American Security men. The man nodded and walked off to do…whatever. Boris came over to Yuri touching his husband’s side and handed Yuri a cup of coffee. They were an attractive couple. Boris was a few inches taller and a couple of years older and thinner. Not that Yuri was fat at all, his build was just…if he didn’t work out or whatever, he’d struggle with his weight. Boris was saying something softer to Yuri who nodded, but it wasn’t a pleasant look. We walked closer to them and now there were smiles to us. “Okay, don’t do that,” Peter said to both of them. “What happened?” Yuri hesitated but shook his head. “It could be nothing.” I nodded. “But…” Boris smiled and went off to do Boris things elsewhere. “You told us about the house…you are suspicious. You told us about that.” I said. “What happened?” Yuri drank some of his coffee and motioned for us to sit down at the table which we did getting situated. “There were some threats sent.” “Threats you’re taking seriously,” Peter said. Yuri chuckled and nodded. “I take all threats seriously. There were a little more…pointed. About you two. Death threats.” “I see. The same group that was outside?” I asked. Yuri shrugged a nod. “I’m not sure.” Then he brightened. “It will be handled.” He shrugged. “It could be a crank or just some crazies.” “Thanks for telling us,” I said smiling at him. “You see me differently now, don’t you?” Yuri smiled at me sipping his coffee. There was humor in his eyes. “I do.” He waved at Peter. “You’re engaged Makarovia, Eric! More importantly, you’re engaged to Peter.” He grinned now. “I saw the proposal. I believed what you said and that hit me.” “Which part?” Peter asked. “Where Eric said what his priority was. You.” Yuri said to Peter simply. I chuckled. “I marrying Peter. Not Makarovia.” I looked in Yuri’s eyes. “You didn’t trust me before?” Yuri shook his head. “No. I didn’t.” He said honestly. “I believed you would be in love with a lifestyle you imagined. You made it clear, you didn’t care about that. You love Peter.” He shrugged again. “Now, I do trust you. I’ll be as protective of you as I am of him.” He shook his head. “And I heard about what you’re doing in Makarovia. That shows loyalty…to Peter. I wanted this job. Security, but I chose to protect Peter.” I grinned back at Yuri. “Okay. I’m doing it.” I warned pozcu escort getting up, came over, pulled him to stand up and hugged the man. “To hell with protocol.” Yuri chuckled as he hugged back. “That’s fine. I like hugs.” He hugged me back, I mean he really did a tighter, real hug. He broke it a little and patted my arm. “Feel free to do that whenever you like, but…can I ask…maybe not as much when we’re out there and doing my job?” He smiled. “I will protect you. That’s what I do. Not for Makarovia. Not even for the family. For me. I care about you two.” Peter smiled getting up and did the same thing. “We can’t do this without you.” Boris came with more of our favorite coffees and set them down with a smile to us. Now that things were clearer for us…for me. We began to get ready to go back to the University. This was…a lot to accept, but what choice was there? This was our life. I was marrying Peter. Now, I had several guards and so did Peter. Getting to the University had become more…there were more people, more vehicles, just…more. An SUV in front of ours and one behind. All this so we could get an education? Makarovia didn’t have anything but a technical college. I chose this school because it was the best for what I wanted to do. Peter had chosen it too, for the same reason and to have the American experience. Also, reporters were asked to leave, not by us, but campus officials and campus police as they said things like “freedom of the press” and things like that. They were escorted off the campus. The other students were again, like last year, watching when we arrived. Yuri was there with all of the other men in security. Unfortunately, Peter and I had one class together. You guessed it. Economics again. I loved that class. Not because of the course or professor, it was because of it…well, I liked the professor who put us together. I met Peter in his class. Principles of Microeconomics 201! From there, our chosen classes made us go our separate ways. I was still going for Industrialization for me, Urban Planning for Peter. So, what are you going to do? We walked through the quad followed by the dark-suited men who was going with us and their eyes watched everything around us. We went to our one shared class, which seeing that same professor who taught us the first year was teaching this next level. Again, we were in the back of the class where all just watched us get into place, but tried not to look like they were looking, that was just expected. It was going to happen. We only had five additional men with us. Yuri was one seated next to us and there were four that remained near the back wall on either side of us and four out in the hall. Like last year, there was no preamble. The professor simply began. “Welcome back.” The professor started. “We begin.” Boom, he did. Our sophomore year had officially begun. We gathered after class outside before we would split up. “We’ll meet before lunch,” Peter said, leaving it a question if I changed my mind or something happened. I held up my cellphone. “You can text me; I can text you if there’s any change. Two or three hours apart…” I smiled at him. “How will we survive?” I said exaggeratedly. Peter chuckled. “It will be difficult.” He said about to kiss me when… “Hey, guys!” We heard off to the side, the voice and accent told us who it was. “Ted!” We greeted him smiling. This was his last year at Northeastern as he was a senior now. Ted smiled but waved at the men surrounding us. “Do I bow or something? Use a password? Can I get closer?” Peter chuckled. “He’s okay, guys.” He said to the men with us as they moved to allow Ted to approach. “Ted Dawe is a friend.” He said hugging our big friend. “Hello, Ted.” I’m never left out as I hugged him, too. “How’s Amanda?” Ted nodded. “She’s great! We’re getting married in the spring, too. We’ll almost have the same anniversary now.” He grinned. “We have to get class, I know, but I wanted to see how things were. Pretty good from what I’ve seen.” “You saw?” I asked. “You saw what?” “The entire palace was shown, about Makarovia, the proposal and different shows about the two of you!” Ted said happily. “It’s been the rage for months!” He waggled his eyebrows. “I had to watch it! I know you two!” “And wrote the first story about us,” I said. “We know.” “It’s good to see you,” Ted said. “See you around campus?” Peter nodded as Ted walked on to his next class. “I know we will.” Peter smiled at me pulling me in for that kiss. “See you at lunch.” He said pressing the side of his head against mine. “I love you.” “I know,” I said kissing him again. “I love you.” Hands together until the distance was too much. “I know.” He said and headed off with the security assigned him and Yuri. Yuri shrugged as he kept up with them. “I go with you after lunch!” “I trust you,” I said to him. “Watch him! I’ll be fine with them.” I thumbed at my four security men who were American and I wondered if they even knew what we were saying. We spoke English, but Makarovian to each other. Yuri shook his head and said firmly. “I’m watching you, too. You’re both my responsibility.” The rest of the morning was as expected. I went to class and they began teaching with no real visible notice of me or the additional people with me. The reactions from the students were as always. That would even out later as they got used to seeing it. I came to the cafeteria at lunch to see Peter and Yuri sitting together and the others were standing there waiting. I walked over to them. “Hi, Gorgeous.” I greeted them, standing between them. “Hi, Peter.” I said kissing Peter and sitting in the vacant chair next to him. Peter’s eyebrows went up and Yuri grinned and looked away. I shrugged. “Peter, you know I have a thing for Russians.” “You know I’m not all Russian?” Peter growled. I waved toward Yuri. “Are you all Russian?” I asked Yuri. Yuri chuckled and shook his head. “No.” “See?” I smiled. “Most of the European Russians aren’t all Russian. There’s no one that can claim to all from one country. I’m not all English!” I kissed Peter again. “Sorry, but you’re marrying a mongrel. Only a quarter of me is even Eastern European!” Peter chuckled. “A very handsome mongrel.” His lips caressed mine gently. “How did it go today for you?” “Some are boring no matter what language is used,” Peter grumbled. “How was yours?” I sighed. “Just like yours.” There was a “bing” from my pocket. Peter’s went off, too. We both looked at our phones. “Olek?” Peter asked me. “Olek.” I nodded. “He wants a call. Do I reply or you?” “Both.” Peter grinned. “Six in the evening here? It will be one in the morning there, but not too late for him.” “Midnight here is seven in the morning there, he’s up by then,” I said. Peter nodded. “Okay.” He grumbled again. “If I can stay up.” I grinned a little evilly. “I can help you with that.” Peter smiled at me. “That was so obvious!” “And your statement wasn’t?” I shot back. “No!” He defended but smiled more. “I’ll pick something from my gift box. To give us something to do to help you keep me up.” His eyebrows danced. “Admit it. Almost everything about us is sexual.” I nodded. “I hope so. That was why I gave what I did for your birthday. I’m glad you like it.” Monday done and we returned to the house. Peter and I did use the pool for a few hours. It was heated! There was studying done and we had that great room for that, but…we liked to be together more, so we studied on the sofa side by side. Dinner was served by Boris, only to my delight, we were joined by both Boris and Yuri! I really liked those two now. “Tell me,” I said to Boris. “I get the feeling…whenever you do this…it feels, kind of British.” Boris nodded with a light laugh. “I was trained at the British Butler Institute in England and have gone back a few times to keep up my training.” He nodded. “I suppose it is British. I trained in many parts, residential mostly. There were other courses I took.” Yuri nodded. “He’s a chef, too.” He said proudly of his husband. “He studied at the Cordon Bleu, in France!” “Damn,” I said impressed. “I think Peter and I should bow to you.” Boris smiled. “No. I like what I do and where I do it.” “Don’t be so modest,” Yuri said. “He was working at the palace and your father noticed what Boris could do and sent him to school!” “Since you’ve tooted my horn, I’ll toot yours,” Boris said smiling. “He graduated top of his classes at the European Security Academy. He’s been to several boot camps. Even here as a US Marine! While you were in Makarovia, he went again for some more training. We both left Russia shortly after we met. We got married soon after arriving in Makarovia. We got jobs with your father.” He said to Peter. “He saw that Yuri was a Russian trained military and I could cook. We’ve proved we could do our jobs, that’s how we got to leave Makarovia to train.” He leaned in kissing Yuri. “I’m modest?” He waved at Yuri. “I say he is, he’s very, very good.” “I’m not the only one,” Yuri said. “All the men here from Makarovia were sent to the Academy. They are well trained.” Boris nodded. “But you wouldn’t stop. He’s learned everything from tactical, security driving, close protection, arm to arm combat, weapons, cybersecurity training and courses on investigating. My husband is brilliant.” I shook my head. “Daaammnn!” Peter nodded. “I knew some of this.” He chuckled. “I think we should bow to both of you.” He looked at me. “Think Yuri can’t handle whatever is happening?” I gave an appreciative nod. “Noooo.” Yuri looked puzzled. “You didn’t think I could?” I looked at Yuri. “No. I never thought you couldn’t do it. I just hate… mysteries. Understand? I never doubted you could do it. You told us about what may be wrong. Why?” Yuri smiled. “Good. I can do it. I will find the answer to this. And there are some people I won’t tell. I told you so you’d understand how things have changed. This isn’t simple anymore.” He frowned. “I believe in being honest. I knew you could handle the truth and…” he nodded, “I did want to scare you a little so you would hear me and really listen.” “We do,” I said to assure him. “Now…” I began. “I need to call my grandmother. Is it okay if she comes here?” Yuri nodded remembering her. “Katrina Sams is more than welcome.” I did call grandmother that evening before we got the call from Olek. “How’s it back in the United States?” Grandmother asked like always, no real hello, just going straight into the conversation. “It’s more…interesting.” I chuckled. “We moved so we’re getting used to this new place. I’d love for you to come. Can you come up for a few weeks or even just a weekend?” “I’d love to.” She said happily. “I was going to ask you about October.” “Grandma, I want to see you. You can come again in October.” I hated to sound like I was begging, but she was the only surviving relative I had. I know…Olek, Mom, and Peter were too now, but she was my grandmother! “A weekend?” She laughed lightly. “I can probably do that next weekend.” “Great! I’ll book the ticket.” I said. “And now, tell me what’s wrong.” She said using a tone that didn’t know something. I sat up a little. “Why would there be something wrong?” “Eric Richards, I practically raised you with your mother. I did after your father passed away. I can tell by the tone of your voice.” She said firmly. “There’s nothing wrong with you and Peter, is there?” It was nice, but it was also irritating that she knew me so well. “No, there’s nothing wrong with me or Peter…or us in general. I’m very close with Olek and Queen Alla. It’s just…things are rather…odd here.” I explained about the protesters that had been arrested and Yuri’s warning about possible death threats. I never lied to her, she always knew when I did. I didn’t do it well. Grandmother blew an angry breath. “Bunch of…” and she said somethings in Ukrainian even I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t the first time she’d cussed in front of me or on the phone, so I wasn’t bothered. “But you’re protected.” I laughed. “Oh, yes,” I said with emphasis. “We are and Yuri can kick any asses that challenge that!” “Good.” She still let out some phrases…calling them inbred northern redneck trash in Ukrainian, which there were no such phrases, not really. It was Ukrainian, but she was using American phrases. She sighed. “You know better than I do how many of the ignorant people react to you. You were raised in the South!” I chuckled. “Yes, I know, but ignorance is not exclusive to just the South.” “No, it isn’t.” She said and then her happy tone came back. “I look forward to seeing you.” I had called while at the computer…one of either Peter’s or my computers, we hadn’t staked a claim on either one. We could share one, but if we both had papers or research to do, there were two! We always studied together on the couch mostly. I heard the “ding” and looked up as there was a notification that I got mail. Not usual, but I saw who it was from. I smiled. It was from Drew! I clicked on the keyboard and activated using the mouse and had the system to show the message. “Hello! I thought you should see this as you have more than a passing interest. We gave it a priority, which you know. Cassie had the first entries from Milo’s diary. I did read it, so I will tell you, it’s not that troubling. Yet. More is coming. Okay, it has some parts…just read it. You’ll see. Drew.” I chuckled as I could hear Drew’s voice as if he was saying it out loud to me. I saw the files attached and clicked on it. I was shaking. This was Milo’s thoughts and the anticipation was expected. I was pleased as the file contained both the original entry with Milo’s not so neat handwriting and the English translation. Monday, 27 December 1937 Bren kissed me! I was not really surprised, I like Bren. You need to know Bren. I decided to write it down because I don’t want to forget it, though I couldn’t if I tried. We’ve been friends since earlier in school when I was fourteen and Bren was about to turn fourteen. I was being bullied by some other guys and Bren stepped in to stop them. I say that because Bren is so shy! He prefers to remain on the sidelines, never getting involved, but he did with me! Our friendship began right after he’d gotten the black eye from his stand against those goons. The goons were part of Hitler’s Youth Program. They see themselves as junior Gestapo. Am I not blond!? I could be Aryan; they didn’t know me. They wanted me to join them and I said I’d think about it. Saying no apparently was unacceptable; you didn’t take the time to decide. I just knew I couldn’t just join them. Not because they invited me. After what they did, I didn’t want to. Bren and I were almost inseparable from that moment on. I knew I liked him…a lot! But tonight!? He kissed me. My father was always telling me to think about my future. When Bren kissed me…it was a spark in me that was blown on and the flame burst into a blaze. My future? I can’t imagine a future without Bren in it. He’s all I think about now. Things for those like us is very scary; the Gestapo has been very hard on men that escort bayan do what I want to do with Bren! I admit it! I am falling in love with Bren! Saturday. 1 January 1938 I hadn’t seen Bren in almost a week. I longed to see him. The beginning of the New Year was pretty good and I look forward to what could happen. I told Bren how I felt. You should have seen his smile when I said that! I loved that smile. He said he loved me, too! He has his 18th birthday coming up in a month, not that it matters. I love him! I am making plans. It has to be special. Why do I feel I’m the one getting the present? He and I said to each other; we have to be careful. It wasn’t safe. There are rumors, more than rumor…that we, not the two of us, but homosexual men, were being found and put in the camps. Those triangles they wore was just the beginning. There were less and less every day. We had to be careful. Why? Is our love so bad? We had to be careful. Wednesday, 2 February 1938 We were together at last. Bren celebrated eighteen years of life. We had a party, but…the best thing was after the party. We had gone camping before, never did more than kiss. I wanted more, but we had to be careful, but he insisted I stay that night with him. I wanted to, but guys our age don’t have sleepovers. I made up something about a conflict my parents were having as a reason and I didn’t want to go home because of it. Bren’s parents were understanding and said I could stay. In a separate room. It was about 1 am when I heard the door open. “Are you still awake?” Bren whispered to me in the dark. “Are they asleep?” I asked him as my heart was now pounding. “After their nightcaps and a long day. Yes.” Bren said. It was dark, but I could see his shadow. “Are you just going to stand there?” I asked. I was nervous. I knew what could happen. What I hoped would happen. “Unless you’ve changed your mind.” He came over, pulled a part of the covers back and got in bed with me. “Does this answer your question?” He kissed me. The embers of love had not gone out. Oil was tossed on them and…the blaze fired up again. Hotter. We touched which just made it worse…or better. Touching him led to more and soon, he brought out something…lotion? We touched more, I just hoped we covered up what happened when he asked me to make love to him. I wanted him to make love to me, but someone had to be first. It was a perfect night! We both got what we needed. I thought I loved Bren before, but now. I knew I loved him. I am in love with Bren! Friday, 13 May 1938 Finding time and a place for Bren and me to be together was a challenge. I came up with a plan. France! The beach! Two guys alone would be worth any price. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we’d be careful with our money. It was a plan. We would rent a room at one of the many hotels there and we could spend a weekend together. I think our parents know. Bren’s parents were nicer than mine. They never confronted Bren about it. Afraid of knowing the truth, I suppose. Father did. He and mother questioned me about the time I spent with Bren. I didn’t admit to anything. Not to them. I know the cause of this was fear. They knew just as I did what could happen if Bren and I were caught. After a few hours, …we ended it. No, more discussions about it. No. I couldn’t tell them what Bren and I planned to do. Friday, 10 June 1938 I was so happy. We would spend the weekend together. Alone. At the beach! We’d left the day before to arrive by train in Midi Friday. We rented a room at a hotel on Deauville Beach. It wasn’t the best hotel…it was a few blocks from the beach. But it was ours for the weekend! Two days and two nights. I couldn’t wait for that night. We had to be careful though. I think the hotel owner knew. Maybe I was just paranoid thinking everyone knew we were more than friends, but he told us…there were two twin beds in our room. He must know, why else would he bring it up? Saturday, 11 June 1938 We made love all night! Bren can be…a little wild. I’m not complaining! Today, a photographer asked if we wanted a picture. It was more money we hadn’t planned to spend, but…why not? We were enjoying ourselves on the beach. It was a great day! Father always talks about my future. There will be no future without Bren in it. I smiled at reading this. Then I noticed another file. Clicking the file, the picture I knew came up. My eyes widened. It was the picture of them at the beach. Now we knew where this picture was taken. Midi Beach! The lines and marks were gone! The image was so…clear! I could blow it up! I mean, enlarge it. Still, the image was clear! Such handsome young men! Bren was laughing at something and Milo was, too. They looked so happy. Peter came in the study and stopped as he looked at my smiling face. “I know your grandmother is coming, but I get the feeling that smile is about something else.” I nodded. “You’re right on both counts. Drew sent me the translations from Milo’s diary and this picture.” I waved at the monitor. “It…it’s beautiful.” Peter sat in the chair with me as he looked. “It’s like…they are right there! Black and white, but…they are right there. This is good.” He smiled at the photo. “Do you want me to read these?” “Everyone will read this soon,” I said kissing him. “Of course, you can. It’s in English.” “So is every class I take,” Peter said. I was about to get up when Peter stopped me. “Am I crowding you?” Peter smiled as he read. “Never.” I chuckled and kissed his neck. “I was thinking of you, you can never crowd me.” I ran a hand over his rubbing his back. He sat back smiling after reading. “Those two…were in love.” “I know the feeling well.” Peter smiled at me. “We know the feeling.” Getting the call from Olek was very…he had just got up. Inside, I was happy he didn’t bother with things like appearances with us anymore…with me. “Good morning.” He greeted and didn’t hide the yawn. His hair was…not combed, but he smiled. “My favorite brothers.” Peter smiled. “That’s a used line, but sure. You are ours.” “Just stating a fact.” Olek smiled drinking something I was sure was coffee. “How are things?” “What things?” Peter asked. “We started school and it’s fine.” Olek sighed. “Yuri emailed me. I know about the groups and the threats.” “We’re okay, Olek,” I said. “We’d tell you if we weren’t.” “Just…be careful.” Olek pleaded a little. “I trust you and I trust Yuri. It’s the other people I don’t. Just listen to Yuri.” “We are,” Peter assured. “He mentioned the issues with the house,” Olek said cautiously. “This is very curious. I never saw the house in person…I got pictures sent by the internet. It seemed like a good idea. Do you think we need to look elsewhere?” “The house is great,” I said honestly. “I just think…we think it’s too great. I’m just may be paranoid.” Olek smiled and laughed. “You are many things, but never paranoid. You’re just…aware now. You need to be cautious.” He looked at Peter. “They are adding those new heating elements to the streets of Stryia. It won’t be long before the snows start, but his way. The roads should be fine to drive on when it really comes down. It should give some fight to the buildup of ice keeping access to the medical facilities clear. When the power stations come online, we’ll be ready. Now the old generators will have to do.” “Great.” Peter nodded. Olek looked at the screen closer, making his face grow. “Anything new?” “You’re asking us?” Peter grinned. “Anything new with you? Like you and Helga?” Olek grunted. “Helga is fine. I’m fine. We are just…so busy! She’s a structural engineer. I’m running the country! Finding time is difficult, but we’re doing it.” “Good,” Peter said. “We miss you.” Olek smiled a little softer. “I miss both of you, but you’ll see me and Alla in October.” I wondered. My birthday was in October, but they wouldn’t base a schedule because of that. Would they? Grandma was coming in October because of that, but… “If I can ask, why?” Olek grinned almost evasive. “You can ask.” He chuckled again. “You think we forgot you? I scheduled somethings to have to be done there in October. We are having guests I intended to use the house as the meeting place, but…I know it’s your birthday. We’re celebrating your first birthday as part of the family. That deserves a visit. Right?” He said simply. “And yours is in March,” I said. “As that’s part of the next semester, we can’t be there, are you coming back then?” “We’ll see.” Olek then frowned a little. “I’ll be forty-three.” “So?” Peter asked. “That’s better than not reaching forty-three.” “You’ll find out when you get there,” Olek said. “You’re both twenty-six.” “No, he’ll be twenty-six October 22nd, I’m older and already there,” Peter said smiling at me. “By fifty-seven days!” I shot back. “Not even a full two months! That’s hardly a lot!” Olek chuckled. “Guys!” He held his hands up. “I love this, but I have a meeting to prepare for. I need to shower and all that. We’ll talk again next week. I’m still available by text or cellphone calls. I love you both.” “We love you, Olek,” Peter said. “Oh, I need to send you what Drew sent from Milo’s diary, if you’re interested,” I said. Olek nodded. “Sure. Is it good?” “This part? Yes.” I nodded. “I’ll send it now. We’ll talk later.” As I said, things did normalize. No longer were we being stared at when we went to class. We did the interview with the LGBT group on Northeastern. They wanted a history about us and they wanted to know more about Makarovia and how the remarkable country came about which we were happy to provide. The website for Makarovia was going to be active. The following Friday, Peter and I waited for my grandmother to get off the plane and come out to the waiting area at Logan airport. She had flown commercially. I held no delusions about her. She was healthy, as far as I knew, but she was in her seventies. I hoped she’d be around ten or twenty years more, but my parents’ deaths taught me an important lesson…I learned not to take what I had for granted. I didn’t even take my relationship with Olek or Alla for granted and certainly not with Peter. Peter and I waited…along with four guys from the American part of our security who knew to hang back but were right there. They were an excellent crowd protector. People saw them and gave us a wider berth. We could have had her picked up, but that was saying something I didn’t want her to feel. She was important to me, that’s what I wanted her to know and I told her that by being there when she arrived. She was important! The thing was, almost everyone at the airport knew us as well. There were the stares again, but no one dared to come to us. Not with those men in dark suits with us. Greeting her, I thought…about those others…the people that wanted to harm us or threatened us. They might try to intimidate us if they knew who she was. Was she safe? We were given death threats; would that include her now? I was considering the ramifications, just like she told me to when I introduced Peter to her and told her who…or rather what he was. I’d have to speak with Yuri. She smiled as she headed to us, but then saw the men with us and slowed. I closed the gap and hugged her receiving the kiss on the cheek from her. Yes, she was still very much the picture of health. “Hello, my dears.” She greeted Peter with a hug and kiss. “It’s great to see you.” Going back to the vehicles, she saw the SUVs. They were all black! Like the men guarding us, was there a color code with the SUVs like with what they wore? There was more than enough room for her. The need for the needed security made it necessary for two vehicles. The luggage and the four with us rode in one and we; with two guards in the rear, one as a driver this car was full with Peter in the front passenger seat. I sat with my grandmother in the middle seats. Those shows you see, where the limousine with the flags on the front or something of the other country…we didn’t want to call unnecessary attention telling who we were, so that wasn’t done. It would when Olek and Queen Alla came, but not for this trip. Grandmother came into the house, greeted by Boris and Yuri. “Welcome, Ms. Sams,” Yuri said taking her hand. “We intend to make your stay very comfortable,” Boris added. “Thank you.” She said looking at the foyer. “My goodness!” Grandmother said looking around as we had upon arriving at the house. “It’s a palace, too.” I nodded. “It is.” “We have a room ready for you near your grandsons,” Boris said. “Shall I take you to it?” “You sort of have to, Boris. You know which one, we don’t.” Peter chuckled. As we went up the stairs, I pulled Yuri back a little. “She is here, but is she safe back in Asheville?” I asked. “Has she received any threats?” Yuri asked. “Not that I know of, but…people saw us greet her. A little research and they will know her connection with Makarovia. Should I be concerned?” I asked. Yuri gave a little shrug. “Be concerned, yes, but…ask her if she’s received any threats or even followed. I’m not saying she’s safe, but…until we know of potential trouble…” I nodded. “I get it.” “We could assign someone to be there.” Yuri offered. I grinned knowing her reaction to that would be. “Katrina Sams would not like that.” I smiled as Boris showed her the room she was to stay in. “It would cramp her style.” I signed. “I’ll talk to her. She is rather private, but I will tell her to tell me the truth.” I waved my hands in frustration as I thought. “She’s got that school and a house. A life. She’s not showing any signs of slowing down. I don’t think she’s going to retire at all. I hope she doesn’t, but…” Yuri nodded. “When she does…if she does. She may have to move in with us. Then I can assure her safety.” She looked at the elegantly furnished room she was given. It was bigger than Peter’s and mine, but no extra room for study or like that. There were the ever-present fireplace and sitting area. It was feminine with flowers and various items I would hate, but women ate up. Potpourri? It did smell nice, but it never occurred to me to ask for any. She smiled at the bed and the way it was set up. “We aren’t even offered…” I grumbled to Yuri and I said pot pour y in English on purpose. Yuri chuckled. “Do I tell Boris you want some?” “Noooo.” I shook my head. “I would probably be allergic to it anyway, but it does make the room smell nice.” I looked at the roses on her dresser and waved at them. “And flowers!” “You have plants in your room!” Yuri defended Boris. His husband wasn’t guilty of any oversights. “Don’t be jealous.” That told me he knew me and it wasn’t serious. He put his arm around my shoulder. “You live here. For now, she’s visiting. There’s the difference. I know your room smells nice.” “With guys, it could smell like a gym locker, but it does smell nice.” I grinned. “You know I’m kidding,” I said hugging him. “The security men aren’t here, so…” I squeezed him. “I really love you two. Thanks for welcoming her. She means a lot to me.” “We both know that.” Yuri nodded. “And I will be honest…you can hug me with the other security men are around.” He shrugged. “You’re the Earl of Stryia. That pretty much gives you clearance to hug me anytime you like. Boris, too. Boris and I love you, too, Eric. I hope I always give you a reason to want to hug me.” “Then, be prepared. I’ll be hugging you and Boris a lot.

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