Terry and the Peachers

VI

By Michael Arram

They got back to what Terry was already calling home late on Tuesday afternoon. He didn't have much time to look round Washington, which was a pity. But, as he concluded philosophically, he wasn't there as a tourist. Terry picked up the Merc from long term parking at LAX and drove round to collect Andy and Sylvia. He shut them in and hopped into the driving seat. Andy was impressed with his young aide's confidence behind the wheel. And he had taken the White House in his stride, too.

They turned into the short drive to find several people waiting for them and trying to look as if they weren't. Ramon, in just his old shorts and sandals, was straightening the already straight edges of the well-clipped front lawn. Matt was lurking near the curtains with one eye on a book and another on the road. Mrs Fuentas was polishing the sparkling door knob.

Andy noticed all this, and made his conclusions. He also noticed the nature of the glance exchanged between Terry and Ramon. He smiled a little to himself, but he knew that was a side issue. It was Matt's sombre look that bothered him. He left the car and bags for Terry to take care of, and walked quickly into the house. But he was stopped at the door first by Mrs Fuentas.

'Can I have a word, Mr Peacher?'

'Er, sure. But won't it wait?'

'I'm afraid not. It's about Ramon.'

'Is there a problem? I thought he was happy here.'

'He is, Mr Peacher... but I don't suppose you'd noticed that he's... formed an attachment with your driver.'

'I only just now saw it. Why is this a problem? I thought you'd accepted he was gay, and I've never seen that Matt and I caused you any anxiety.'

'You're grown-up men who know their own minds, sir. It's different for Ramon. He's just a boy, young for seventeen, and easily influenced. I know what his mother would say if she knew.'

'You think Terry's making a victim of him?'

'I wouldn't put it like that. But he's a lot older and more experienced.'

'Mrs Fuentas, Terry's just nineteen.'

'Nineteen? Oh! Really? He seems so much more mature.'

'That's just Terry. The age difference isn't that great, but more to the point, Terry's no seducer. Believe me, he can be trusted. I don't know how it will work out, but I think you can trust Terry to behave well, whatever happens.'

At that very moment in Terry's room, Ramon was already naked with a straining erection, stripping Terry of his clothes frantically, joined at the lips with neither of them showing much evidence of responsibility in their behaviour, but at least they were blissfully happy and about to get happier.

Andy and Matt too were kissing, but soon broke apart. 'Problems?' asked Andy a little nervously.

'Big problems, Andy love.'

'Was the place wired, like Paulie thought?'

'No, and that's the problem. The best surveillance agency in LA gave us a clean bill... we're bug-free. But if the information didn't get to Anson that way, how did it get to him? Somewhere quite close to us in the Peacher empire there is a dangerous leak, and I have no idea how to find it. It's shocking and it's a real worry.'

'Anson?'

'He's left London, but no information from Paulie yet as to where he's ended up.'

'I love you so much Terry, I cried every hour you were away'

'Ramon, you're exaggerating; try again, less like a Latino.'

Ramon grinned down at the object of his adoration, 'I love you so much Terry, I jerked off every hour you were away'

'That I can believe. You gush like a geyser.'

'Now you're exaggerating.'

'Take a look at that headboard, see all the little white spots? Those were your Hispanic zygotes whizzing screaming and air-sick past me ear when you wanked off.' They kissed for a very long time, and Ramon's dark lips moved slowly down his lover's body. He looked up when he reached Terry's thick and curling pubic bush. He ran his fingers through it lovingly.

'It's blond like the rest of your hair, ain't that great? Blond pubes. Black is so boring and ordinary. Fuck me again, Terry. In fact don't stop fucking me till next week. I hate it when you leave my ass empty.'

Terry swung around and adjusted himself so that he could rim his lover, who was kneeling in front of his face, he pulled back his legs balletically way over his shoulders and Ramon moved so that the rimming could be mutual. The noise of their sucking and slurping was all that could be heard for some time. Eventually Ramon groaned and broke off contact, begging to be filled. Terry mounted his kneeling partner from behind and beat into him long and slowly, reaching under to masturbate the younger boy till he spurted down on the bed. Then he came in his turn, tumultuously, inside Ramon's anus. They fell down on to the bed, Terry staying hard inside Ramon, not leaving him and keeping up a gentle unaggressive thrusting. Ramon squirmed gently in his own cum, making the most of the feeling of being full for as long as he could. It was a quarter of an hour before Terry fell out of him.

'Now that was the best fuck yet,' groaned Ramon.

'You say that every time.'

'As God is my witness, it's true every time.'

They lay back and dozed comfortably, and as they did Terry realised what it was that connected him to Ramon. It was the Spanish boy's brave determination to defeat his circumstances and climb. It was the same as had connected him to Paul, a boy of very similar sort, disadvantaged but dauntless, brave and bright. It was the fact that Paul and Ramon had direction in their lives, and that he had none. They were following their star and he was happy to be tugged along with them, since he had no horizons of his own. He wanted to help and wanted to be there to applaud them. They lifted him out of the sticky quicksand of self-indulgence and hopelessness where he had wallowed with the likes of Anthony and Dom. That's why he had fallen in love with Paul and Ramon. And he was in love with Ramon, even more than he had been in love with Paul. Paul had not wanted him, but Ramon very much did. This was it. Yes, this was finally the big one. He had found the love of his life. Terry's eyes filled and he looked at the boy sleeping beside him, with a soft look of adoration that had never been seen on his face before.

At 11.00 Wednesday morning, Terry woke from a doze to the sound of the phone. Ramon had long gone, and he could hear him outside the window, brushing paths. He reached across and picked up.

'Sylvia?'

'Yes, Terry. Were you thinking of working today?'

'Mr Peacher gave me the morning off, you know that.'

'I think you may find he's changed his mind.'

'What's happened?'

'You'd better turn the TV on, it's all over CNN and Fox. Then come across to the house.'

Terry got up and found his boxers, his lucky pair, with pictures of chili peppers and the words 'Hot Stuff'. Anson had wanted to keep them as a trophy when he saw them.

He flicked through the news channels. Sylvia was not kidding. Peacher faces, including Andy's, succeeded aerial shots of the big Santa Barbara mansion, but the principal face was a pretty one which Terry recognised as belonging to Peter Peacher, Andy's half-brother. The scrolling headlines ran, ABDUCTION OF PEACHER HEIR.

'Fuckin' hell,' said Terry.

The house was in turmoil. Andy was sitting pale and shocked, Matt was holding his hand and talking earnestly. Sylvia was on the phone, a hand over her other ear. Two big dark-suited men were in the hall, with ear-piece radios; they looked him over carefully. A black-and-white was parked next to the Merc in the drive and two more were in the road; armed policemen were all over the lawn. Terry went into the kitchen and found Mrs Fuentas, who was busy making hot drinks.

'What's happened, Felicia?'

She gave Terry a look, but ignored for now the unauthorised use of her first name. 'The Peachers flew back to Santa Barbara from Washington Tuesday morning. They went to bed as usual last night, but Mr Peter Peacher was not in his in the morning. He'd disappeared and it looks like the house's security system had been compromised. One camera seems to show him in his pyjamas with his mouth and hands taped, being dragged off by a hooded figure. There's been no demand yet, but it looks very obviously like a kidnap.'

'Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what a mess.'

'Give me a hand with the drinks, Terry.' They took the trays through. Andy looked up and said thanks. Matt told him to get the car ready, that they were leaving for Santa Barbara in an hour. Terry ran over to his room and packed a bag quickly and looked up the route. He needn't have bothered; they were preceded all the way by a black SUV with the two heavies inside, and police cars with buzz bars flashing behind them. The presence of Sylvia next to him in the car put a brake on the questions he was desperate to ask Matt. Could this relate to the dossier? Was Anson somehow involved?

If Pasadena had been like a disturbed anthill, Santa Barbara was something else. What seemed to be an entire SWAT battalion ringed the Peacher mansion and helicopters were buzzing and chattering overhead. A line of police cars spread a long way down the hill that Terry drove up. They were waved through an armed perimeter, and swept up on to the plateau on which the big house was built.

As the car crackled across the gravel towards the main door, two pretty blond kids ran out of the house and stood hopping with excitement as it pulled up. Terry leaped to open the door for Andy, but they had beaten him to it. They had wrenched it open, jumped on Andy and were hugging him, the little girl in tears. He hugged them back tightly, kissing their hair.

Matt came up behind him, 'Those are Ed and Harriet Peacher, the twins,' he said, 'You'd better get the bags, Terry, and follow us in.'

Inside the huge hall, Terry dropped the bags, and felt lost. Everybody had disappeared. Eventually a short dark man, who introduced himself as Carlos, and whom he assumed was a butler, came up and asked him to follow. They hauled the bags upstairs to Andy's suite, but it was empty. A few discreet questions from Carlos revealed that Terry was not safe to be trusted with unpacking and was not domestic staff, so he was ushered out and taken down back stairs to the service wing and handed over to the kitchen staff.

He begged a late lunch, and they obliged. The talk was all about the kidnapping, naturally. Unfortunately most of it was in Mexican Spanish, so Terry only picked up the odd word; they spoke Catalan on Ibiza. He strolled out to find the car, but it had already been moved around the back to the garage block. Terry felt a bit useless and lost. So he leaned on the car in the sunshine, read a book and tried to enjoy the view over the shining Pacific. Every now and again, policemen patrolled round the house and eyed him suspiciously. Once, a team with FBI on their flak jackets and ball caps strode past.

'Terry! There you are! We need to get you a pager, I've been looking for you for twenty minutes.' It was Matt, smiling wearily.

'Sorry Matt, I didn't know where to go. How're things?'

'To tell the truth, I don't have a clue. Richard Peacher is in there now, talking to the Lieutenant Governor. But apart from deploying the National Guard, I can't see what else they can do. Peter's gone, and there's no clue who has him. Still no demand. Everybody's got theories, and no one has any information. Andy's going to stay here with Sylvia. You and me are going back this evening. Since it's only me, we don't get the police escort.'

As they drove back down the coast, Terry asked Matt about the Peacher children. 'Oh, Peter's more like the father. Big into money and status, and very competitive. He resents Andy. I always assumed it was because the Stepmom turned him against his big brother, but I think now that maybe the boy hates any rival for his father's affections. He's pretty mean to the twins too, and they're really sweet. They're why Andy is staying, they love him to bits and feel safer when he's around. He'd take them down to Pasadena to get them away from it all, but the Stepmom won't let him.

Andy has really tried to make bridges with Peter, but he gets nothing back. It hurts him a lot. The boy's difficult to read. He's very bright, there's no doubt about that, but he can be very mean and petty. But then he's a teen; and they're never easy. I did see him smile once when he thought no one was watching, and he really looked quite nice. He's certainly got the looks that Andy missed out on... while Andy got the kindness and sweetness he's not got. Put their best features together and you'd have one really amazing guy.'

'Is this disappearance anything to do with our problems?'

'I can't see how it can be. And it makes things better in one way. There'll be no getting near any Peacher home for the foreseeable future. We can sleep safe in our beds... not that you're doing much sleeping in your bed at the moment.'

Terry laughed, 'That obvious is it?'

'Mrs Fuentas is not happy about it. Spotted it straight away. But she can't send Ramon back to his mother.'

'Is is true what he told me about what happened in Houston?'

'I don't know what he told you. But I heard that he and his friend Esteban got involved in a gang as well as each other, and that it was the wrong gang. Ramon's brother set them up, and organised Esteban's knifing.'

'What. He wasn't castrated?'

'Castrated? Who told you that?'

'I'll kill that Ramon. Winding me up like that.'

Matt looked amused, 'Don't underestimate Ramon Villa, he's a very bright lad with quite a sense of humour. He's trying to finish high school part-time and is aiming for a high SAT score. Andy wants to get him into a good university and although he hasn't said anything yet, I think he's quite willing to pay. He sees Ramon as another Paulie, and with some reason.'

It was dark and late when they returned, two police cars were still outside the house, the cops chatting and drinking coffee. Terry opened the door for Matt, who smiled and thanked him nicely as he went off to bed. He put the car away and returned to the utility house. The pool and path lights were on, but the block was dark.

He scratched around with his key to find the lock, but found the door open. He'd better have a word with Ramon about security. In fact, he owed the beautiful bastard a payback for that ruthless wind-up. He slipped silently up the stairs and along the landing to the loo, where he patiently and quietly filled a bucket with cold water. He stealthily made his way to Ramon's room. Then he abruptly kicked the door open, snapped the light on and threw the contents of the bucket over the bed.

But the figure that shot up and gave a strangled shriek was not Ramon. Terry blinked. Although his hair was flattened, dark and soaked, the terrified face was clearly that of Peter Peacher.

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