Tim

by Jobe

It was a cold and snowy night when I left school after basketball practice. I jogged home trying to keep warm. I enjoyed practice tonight; maybe it was because I knew this would be my last time playing basketball for my school. I kept thinking about what I'll do after I graduate this spring. I've applied to several colleges, particularly those close to home. My grades are good so I didn't think I'd have any problems being admitted to the colleges that I had selected.

"Mom, I'm home." I took off my snow covered jacket and shoes, leaving them in the laundry room. I knew tomorrow I'd be up early shoveling out the driveway and the sidewalks. It was good to be home, mom was cooking dinner and the smells made my stomach rumble. I took my school bag to my room and began to do what little homework I had. I wanted to get this over with as soon as possible, leaving my evenings free to do what I wanted, whether it was watching TV or chatting with my friends.

I heard my dad entering the house and I knew we'd be eating in 15 minutes. I washed up and went downstairs to greet my father. As soon as he saw me he told me he wanted me to clear the snow from the driveway and sidewalks. He wasn't an easy man to know and there was certainly no emotions shown. But that was my dad. After 17 years living with him, I expected no less.

As we were sitting at the table I brought up the fact that my birthday will be here soon and I'll be 18. This discussion led to me going to college and what subjects I'd be taking. My father insisted that I should go his church sponsored university and study to be a minister. We've had this discussion before and I didn't feel like getting into another argument. I decided to just tell them the secret I've been keeping since I was 14.

"Dad, I can't go to your church's university. They wouldn't allow me to enroll."

"Why not? You have the grades and I know Pastor Mathew would vouch for you."

"Dad, I'm gay and gay people will not be allowed to go."

There was a deathly silence. My mom's face showed fear and displeasure and my dad's face turned red with rage.

"There will not be an abomination living in my house! You have 15 minutes to get what you want and get out! You are no longer my son and this is no longer your home!"

I looked at Mom; she had her head down and was softly crying. "You better hurry if you want anything because I'll throw you out just like you are if you're not packed!"

I immediately ran upstairs and took what clothes I could stuffed them in my sports duffle bag; grabbed what money I had and my phone. I went downstairs, mom wasn't there and he was standing at the door. I got my shoes, boots and coat and headed for the door. Dad open the door, "Give me your phone. I paid for it so I want it now!"

I gave him my phone and he slammed the door behind me. I heard the lock click and then I realized I was on my own. As I walked down the street, I tried to come up with some plan. I certainly couldn't stay here any longer. As I was walking, I saw a bus coming, I ran to the stop and boarded. While I was sitting there I thought maybe I'll have enough money to pay for a bus ticket to somewhere warm where I could get a job.

When we got to the bus terminal, I went to the ticket window to see where the buses were going and the various fares. I realized I didn't have enough money to get me to Florida, but I bought a ticket as far south as I could. I pocketed 10 dollars for snacks. I had no idea what I'd do when I got to the end of the bus ride.

I closed my eyes, I was tired and emotionally a wreck. I never thought my dad would throw me out of the house. It made me question if he really ever loved me. How could you throw your son away like a bag of garbage? As these thoughts ran through my mind, my eyes were on the verge of tears. I always went to church and I believed in a loving God, one not to feel hate toward His creations. I did the only thing I could think of on that bus ride, I prayed that He would send someone to look after me.

As I prayed I thought of how my life was changing. I'm alone now and responsible for myself. At the next bus terminal additional passengers got on, a young man who had just got on sat in the seat next to me.

As the bus pulled out of the terminal, he began to talk. His voice was masculine and I'd bet if he sang he would be a baritone. I remember in school when I'd sing in the choir; I always like a baritone voice. He said his name was Paul and he was going home for the holidays. I told him my name and said I was just going on an adventure.

As we talked, I found out he was a sophomore in college and was studying to be a chemist like his father. He asked if I was in college and I told him no, I was still in high school. We continued to chat about various subjects, more or less, just to pass the time. During these discussions I let slip the fact that I was gay and eventually he realized what type of adventure I was on.

Checking the schedule, I noticed that I'd be leaving at the next terminal. I mentioned that my stop was coming up and I'd be leaving.

"Well, this is a coincidence. That's my stop as well. Where are you staying?"

I knew there was no way I could tell him that I have no place and was planning on hitchhiking further south. But I guess my hesitancy must have told him that I had no place to stay. I think he began to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

"Look, if you aren't in a hurry, how about having a cup of coffee with me. I think we have more to talk about."

I knew I had enough money left over from the $10 to buy myself a cup of coffee, so I agreed. Once we departed the bus terminal, he led me to a coffee shop across the street. "This is one of my favorite coffee shops when I'm in town."

As we entered, the aroma of fresh ground coffee hit you immediately. As I looked around, there was a coffee roaster, roasting coffee beans. I knew that coffee beans were roasted but it was fascinating to see it done. The aroma emitting from the roaster made you want to have a cup of coffee.

As we took a table, a young lady came to take our order. As soon as she saw us, "Paul, you're home for the holidays."

"Yes, Marie. We just got in. I had to bring Tim here for a cup of coffee."

She left us to get our coffee. Paul looked at me, "Do you want a roll or doughnut with your coffee. They make a stuffed roll here that I guarantee you have never tasted anything so good."

I knew I didn't have enough money, "No thanks, Paul. Coffee will do just fine."

"Nonsense, my treat; Marie, bring us two specials, please."

Marie brought our coffees and the largest rolls I had ever seen. The aroma of the coffee and roll made me realize that except for the little dinner I had at home, and a few snacks, I was hungry. Paul cut his roll in half, "Could you eat this other half? I had a big dinner before I left and this is just too much for me." Without me saying anything, he put the half on my plate.

Marie came back with coffee refills, "Marie is she in the kitchen?"

"Yes, I didn't tell her you were here. I wasn't sure if you wanted to surprise her here or at home."

"Just tell her there's a customer who wants to thank her for the delicious rolls."

I looked at Paul with a puzzled expression. All I got back was a wink.

In a few minutes a woman in a chef's apron came out of the kitchen and said something to Marie. She pointed to our table. The woman turned and when she saw Paul, her face lit up in a big smile. She hurried to our table as Paul stood up. Paul gave her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. When Paul released her from his hug, she noticed me sitting at the table.

"Paul who is your friend?"

"Mom, this is Tim, a fellow traveler"

"Hello Tim, welcome to the coffee shop. I hope you enjoyed the coffee and roll."

Paul said some more to his mother as he gave her a hug. "I'll see you at home, Mom. I also asked Tim to stay with us for a while. Is that ok?"

"Of course it's ok. It'll be nice to have two handsome men at home, particularly after you both shovel the snow from the drive way and the walks." She walked back to the kitchen chuckling.

"Paul, I appreciate your offer of staying, but I can't accept. You know nothing about me and I feel like I might be intruding on your time with your family"

"Nonsense; it'll be good to have someone around to help me shovel the snow. Anyway, we haven't finished our talk and I think you really don't have a place to spend the night. Come home with me and tomorrow if you want to leave, then I'll bring you back to the terminal or where you want to go."

"Alright just for the night."

"Good. I'm going to tell Mom I'm leaving and I'll be right back. Have some more coffee."

I watched Paul going into the kitchen to talk to his mother; Marie brought me a refill.

Paul returns about 15 minutes later and puts on his coat. "Let's go and maybe we can get started on the snow removal before Mom comes home."

As we left the coffee shop, we began to walk into the town. It was a small town and very quaint looking. Homes with large front porches lined the streets, a mid-America town. I expected to see a town square and sure enough as we turned the corner, there was the town square with a band stand.

I followed Paul as he turned onto a snowy sidewalk leading to a two story home with a large front porch. The sidewalk and driveway were covered with snow. Paul looked at me and smiled. He stooped over as if he dropped something and the next thing I saw was a snow ball heading my way. Of course I had to reciprocate, and a snow ball battle ensued. I shivered a little and Paul caught it. "Come on let's go inside and get warm."

I followed Paul into a laundry room where he took off his coat and shoes. "You can hang your coat here and put your shoes on the rack next to mine. With all the snow you threw at me, my shoes are wet and my coat is now white."

Of course mine were in the same condition. Walking into the kitchen, the home was warm and inviting. There was something here that was different from my home. I couldn't put my finger on it but I felt relaxed here and not tense as I did at my home.

We had a glass of milk and a few ginger snaps, "Paul, if you mom is coming home, we should try and get the driveway cleared. It'll make it easier for her then to track through all that snow."

It didn't take us long to clear the driveway. While we were out there, the next door neighbor came out onto her porch and yelled a hello to Paul. "Hello, Mrs. Cranston. How are you?"

"Are you home for a while, Paul?"

"Just for the school break, I'll be going back in 2 weeks. Mrs. Cranston, don't worry about your driveway, Tim and I'll clear it for you as soon as we're done here."

It didn't take us long to clear the driveway and walks. Paul nodded his head toward his neighbor and I shook my head yes. Again with two people shoveling snow, we were finishing up as Paul's mother came home. "Paul, come and help unload the car."

"Paul has a little more to do for Mrs. Cranston, something about the back porch. I'll help you if it's alright."

"Sure, Tim; your arms are just as good as Paul's."

I was just carrying in the last bag of groceries when Paul came to take it from me. "Now you come after the job is done."

Following the same routine as when we first arrived, wet clothes were hung in the wet room. Our socks and pants were wet as well, "take you socks off and pants. I'll bring down a pair of shorts you can wear if you don't have anything in your bag."

I took out a dry pair of jeans and put them on. Going into the kitchen, Paul began to put the groceries away while his mom started dinner. I asked if I could help but she said no just talk to her. I really didn't know what to say.

"Thank-you for letting me stay tonight. I really hadn't made any arrangements to stay anywhere as I wasn't sure what time I'd be arriving."

"That isn't a problem. Any friend of Paul's is always welcome here. Wait till his friends find out he's home. You'll be surprised how many will end up staying over."

"Tim, come with me and I'll show you the layout and the guest room."

I followed Paul upstairs. He showed me his room. There were trophies for a variety of sports, baseball, soccer, basketball and football. I remarked that he had a lot of trophies, "You must have been very active in your schools sports programs."

"Yes, I enjoyed playing the various sports. You make a lot of friends that way beside being good exercise both physically and mentally. Do you play any sports?"

"Yes, pretty much the same as you but not soccer. Our school did not have a soccer team but they had a swimming team instead. I think of all the sports I played, I liked swimming the best."

"Did your school do well in sports?"

"Yes we were regional champions for several years in basketball and swimming. We did well in the other sports but never held championships while I was attending."

"Come and I'll show you your room."

I followed him across the hall to the guest room. He then showed me where the bathroom was located. I put my bag in the guest room and followed Paul to the living room. He turned on TV and we watched a sport program that was showing the highlights of the various games for the week.

Paul went into the kitchen to help his mom while I stayed and watched the game highlights. My eyes saw the TV but my mind was focused on what tomorrow was going to bring. As I thought about it, I began to cry softly. I didn't know that Paul had returned and saw me sobbing. "What's wrong Tim?"

"Nothing, I think I got something in my eye." This was a lie but I couldn't tell Paul why I was crying. He might get mad and ask me to leave. I had no place to go and I wasn't sure what I'd do.

"Tim, talk to me and if I can help you I will. Tell me why you were on that bus."

"I can't. You have been nice to me and if I tell you, you'll hate me and ask me to leave. If I can stay the night, I'll leave in the morning."

What I didn't know when I told this to Paul, his mother was at the doorway listening. When I looked up I saw her and I started to really cry. I was so afraid that she was going to react as my parents and ask me to leave. I got up and went and got my bag. As I came down the stairs, Paul asked me what I was doing.

"I don't want to embarrass you and your mother, so I'll leave."

"No. You're not going anywhere tonight. It's cold outside and you'd freeze to death. Now sit down and tell me what's going on with you."

Paul sat down on the sofa and indicated that I should sit next to him. His mother came in with two cups of hot chocolate and a coffee. She sat down on the sofa next to me. Putting an arm around my shoulders, "Tim, whatever happened we'll try and work something out for you. We're not bad people, we'll help you all that we can. Trust us, tell us your story."

I figured I had nothing to lose, so I told them the full story. Nothing but silenced followed, I knew I'll be asked to leave. Then I felt two sets of arms around my shoulders. For an instance I was confused and then it dawned on me, they weren't going to ask me to leave.

Paul's mother turned my face towards hers. Her eyes were misty and looked like she was ready to cry. "Tim, you need to understand something. Paul's dad left us when Paul told him that he was gay. I could never do that to Paul. I love him as he is. I'm proud to be his mother and as long as I'm alive, I'll love him. I'm sorry your parents behaved the way they did. You can stay here as long as you want. Provided you finish school and keep the driveway clear of snow."

I looked deep into her eyes and saw compassion and truth. I couldn't believe my luck. I silently said a prayer to God thanking him for delivering me to these people. I couldn't say anything at the moment. I just hugged Paul's mother and sobbing said thank you.

"Now that everything is out in the open, when's dinner Mom."

After dinner, as I was lying in bed rethinking everything that happened, Paul knocked on my door and came into the room. He sat on the edge of the bed. "I want to talk about what you told us tonight. I know it must have been very traumatic for you to relive your parent's reaction. I'm here for you. I know what you're feeling as a gay man and I can help you to realize that we're as we are meant to be. We're born this way, it isn't a disease. If you have any questions or thoughts you want to discuss, come to me. I probably have gone through some of what you're thinking or questioning; I'm here for you."

"Thank you Paul. I really appreciate what you and your mom are doing for me. I'm sad that a stranger's family has shown more concern than my own family. I'll never fully understand where all that hate could come from someone who believes in a loving God."

"Sleep well Tim. We can talk more tomorrow after a good night's sleep. Remember we've snow to shovel tomorrow." Chuckling Paul left the room.

In the morning, after I had showered and dressed, I went into the kitchen to see if I could help prepare breakfast. Paul's mom was already there with a cup of coffee in her hand. "Would you like a cup of coffee, Tim?"

"Yes please. Is there anything I can do to help you?"

"Could you prepare Paul and your breakfast? I have to get to the shop to open. After the snow is cleared, ask Paul to bring you to the shop for lunch. We can talk then about your future." Smiling, she put the cup into the sink and left for the shop.

I was wondering what to make for breakfast. I checked the refrigerator, there were eggs, sausage and cheese. I thought an omelet in a wrap would be good; it was a favorite of mine. I began to make biscuit dough as I thought about what's going to happen next. I need to finish school and I hoped I could attend college even if it's a local community college. While rolling out the biscuit dough, I turned on the oven and set the temperature to 350. I cut the dough into circles and pressed them into muffin pans. While the dough rested, I made scrambled eggs and fried the sausage. When the eggs and sausage were done, I filled the dough lined muffin tins with a mixture of egg and sausage topping them off with cheese. Into the hot oven for 20 minutes and breakfast would be done. I washed the dishes and pans, dried them and put them away. I sat at the table with another cup of coffee with my head in my hands. I had so many thoughts and questions, my head began to hurt.

"Hey you ok? You were up early and what's that delicious smell?"

"I made breakfast, is that ok?"

"It's fine. Is it ready? I could eat a horse this morning."

I took the breakfast muffins out of the oven and set them on the table. I got two plates while Paul got the silver ware. "Do you want some orange juice?"

"Yes please. Is there enough coffee for you or should I make another pot?"

"No. Orange juice is enough. When we go to the shop, we can get more coffee."

I watched Paul's face as he began to eat the one muffin he put on his plate. It was like, I'll try one and if I don't like it I don't have to eat more. Well it didn't happen like that. As soon as he took the first bite, I chuckled to see his face light up with a surprise look.

"These are good. I never tasted a combo like this. The flavors melt together. You did a great job. Keep cooking like this and I'll make sure you never leave."

I was glad he enjoyed my cooking. I just smiled and quietly told him I was glad he liked them. I told him what his mother said about clearing the snow and then coming to the shop for lunch.

"I'll do the dishes and then we can begin to clear the driveway and walks. Probably should clear Mrs. Cranston's as well."

Between snowball fights, making snowmen, yes we had to make several. Paul said we needed to make a family of three. I thought he was referring to his mom, dad and himself. I realized the third was for me when he asked if I had a cap that he could use.

I noticed Mrs. Cranston watching us out of her window. When Paul and I headed to her place and started to clear the snow, she came out on the porch and asked us if we wanted some hot chocolate. By this time we were cold and wet from the snow ball fight, Paul quickly said it would be great as soon as we finished shoveling the snow.

When we finished in front, I followed Paul around back of her house. We cleared a path from her back porch to her garage. Unlike Paul's house, her garage was detached and she would need a path cleared if she was going to get to her car.

We sat on the back porch drinking our hot chocolate and eating a few sugar cookies. Paul told Mrs. Cranston that I would be living with them and I'd take care of the snow after he went back to college. Nothing more was added and nothing more was said.

By the time we finished, changed out of the wet clothes and showered again, we decided to walk to the shop. On the way Paul saw a few of his friends; he waved to them and kept on walking. When we got to the shop, Marie gave Paul a hug and she went to get two cups of coffee. Paul asked her if she would tell his mom we were there.

When Paul's mom came out to greet us, Paul handed her a paper bag and whispered something in her ear. She opened the bag and took out one of the muffins. I looked at Paul and he had a big grin on his face. "I didn't see you do that."

"When you were taking your shower, I put the left over muffin in the bag for Mom to try."

"You should warm that up before you try it. They are best right out of the oven, but also good warmed up."

She thanked Paul and me, leaving us to our coffee. I thought what if she doesn't like it, will she be angry that I used her food to make something that she thought wasn't good. I really didn't need to worry. About 5 minutes later, she came out of the kitchen with a big grin. I got a hug and a kiss on my cheek.

"It was delicious. In fact I think we'll put that on the menu for breakfast. It's convenient for the business people who are always in a hurry. Tim, I'll pay you to make them for the shop."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing, a place to stay and a job as well. Tears started to pool in my eyes. Paul noticed and looked at his mom. She patted me on the back, with a smile and a nod of her head, went back to the kitchen.

"Paul, I don't know what to say. I thank God that you got on that bus and sat next to me. I prayed that He would look out for me. I think you and your mom was His answer. How can I ever thank you?"

Paul just looked at me and smiled. It was a smile of friendship and at that instant I knew that Paul and I would be friends for the rest of our lives.

From that day on, my life began to look up again. I enrolled in the high school that Paul went to and joined all of the sport teams. I applied to the community college and was accepted. Working at the shop, provided enough money to pay the tuition. I thanked God every day for bringing Paul and his mother into my life. Oh, I started to call Paul's mother Mom as well. Even though she didn't give birth to me, her love was more than enough.

Paul and I stayed in touch while he was away. He continued his schooling till he obtained his doctorate degree in chemistry. He now teaches at a small university not too far away from home so he is able to come home for long week-ends and vacations. I completed my studies at the community college and through an on line course, finished my bachelor's degree in business. Paul's mom wanted to take it easy so I began to manage the shop.

It was over Christmas vacation that Paul announced that he had found the love of his life. The week-end between Christmas and New Years, Paul introduced Greg to the family. He was a nice guy, quiet but extremely warm. I had a good feeling that this relationship was going to last.

One year later we attended Paul and Greg's commitment ceremony. Although they couldn't be married, this ceremony for them was a life time commitment.

Paul and Greg were together for 5 years when, what was to be, the love of my life walked into the shop. Marie was still working in the shop and she came into the kitchen and told me that there was a man who wanted to talk to the owner. Of course I wasn't the owner, but as the manager I assumed that I could handle whatever this gentleman wanted to talk about.

I put my apron aside and went with Marie to see this guy. When I looked into his eyes as we shook hands, my heart did a flip flop. From the expression on his face I'd bet his did as well. I took him to a table and asked Marie to bring us coffee. He introduced himself as Brad Worthington and said he was a general manager of a chain of coffee cafes. He had been looking for a supply of exclusive coffee. He had heard about our shop and wanted to sign us up as an exclusive supplier of coffee to his chain of cafes. He said if I was interested he would draw up the papers for my review and we could meet over dinner to discuss. I thought that might be a good idea and said to go ahead with the contract. "I'll review it and we can have dinner Saturday night if you can have the paper ready by Thursday."

He just smiled, opening his briefcase he took out a contract. "I'm always prepared. If you have any comments get back to me as soon as possible and maybe Saturday could be a celebratory dinner instead of boring contract talk."

That evening all I could think of was Brad. When I got home, I sat down with Mom and told her what happened. She took the contract and looked it over. "I'll let John, my attorney look at this but on first read it looks ok. I think we need to tie up our coffee bean supplier in a similar agreement. He's a small farmer and we currently buy his whole crop each year. If this takes off, I may ask him to expand. Probably have to make an investment in doing that but on the plus side we could get into the coffee bean supply business. When did you say your dinner engagement is scheduled?"

"We're planning on having dinner Saturday."

"Well that might be too soon. There's a lot of legal work and I need to talk to Mr. Garcia about expanding. Do you think that'd be a problem if it's delayed a few weeks?"

Smiling, "No it sounds great. I'm sure I can convince Brad to stay around a little longer."

"Brad. So fast on first name basis; is there something brewing here?"

"I'm not sure but I think, or I hope, something might be brewing besides coffee."

Mom just smiled and winked at me as she got up taking the contract to her office.

I called Paul that night and told him I just might have found Mr. Right. Of course that led to a full disclosure on what happened and why did I feel that way. After about 30 minutes of chatting, he said good luck and we said good bye.

The next day at the shop over coffee, I told Brad what Mom had said. He had no problem with the two week delay. "Are we still on for dinner Saturday night?"

"I'd like that. In fact I'd like us to get to know each other a little bit better. After all if we're going to be business partners, we should know something about each other. And what a better way than dinner and spending some time together."

So for the next two weeks, Brad and I spent every evening together. I introduced him to Mom and received her wink of approval. The time seemed to go so quickly. Mom was busy with Mr. Garcia and the attorneys. At the end of the two week time, we signed a conditional agreement leaving certain clauses open for discussions. Brad was happy with that and we gave him a pound of coffee to take back to his home office.

Negotiations with Mr. Garcia were finalized. We had to buy into his business with an understanding that he would expand his grove. We got 30 percent ownership with exclusivity for the coffee crop. Mr. Garcia was happy, Mom was happy and I was delighted. The remaining issue was the price of the coffee we would supply to Brad's organization. Reviewing the quantity he requested, we would have to install a second roaster, this would take some time. I informed Brad, in one of our nightly conversations that we need to meet to finalize the contract and to review our supply commitment.

The following week, Brad arrived and stayed at Mom's occupying the spare bedroom. I had moved into Paul's bedroom, adding my trophies to his. Mom said it looked like a trophy store but deep down she was proud of the sport accomplishments of her boys.

It took a day to review the contract, the supply issue and the price of the roasted beans. Explaining that we would need to install a second roaster, we would be limited on our initial supply. Brad said that the coffee we sent was a big hit in the office and he didn't see this as an issue.

"I sent one of the packages you sent me to the President of the chain. He told me that the Board of Directors suggested that he buy the supplier to guarantee exclusivity."

"Mom, maybe we should think again about the price we charge, if the Board thinks this is a great coffee, we could probably double the price."

I laughed when I saw Brad's face go white. "I'm kidding Brad. The price we mentioned is what we want. We are not greedy but we want to be fair to you and to ourselves. We understand that our coffee is a premium roast. That is what we are all about, premium." When I said that I winked at him and he blushed. Mom started to laugh and went to get us cups of coffee. "But make no mistake, we aren't selling the business; at least not now."

After all of the papers were signed, copies distributed, Brad took us to dinner at a very nice restaurant. It was a pleasant evening. But now it was about friendships, business was over. We relaxed until Mom started questioning Brad about his intentions were toward me. I couldn't help laugh. I already had told Mom that I was in love with him and I'd like to spend my life with him.

Brad wasn't sure how to answer her. He looked at me, I smiled and shook my head yes indicating to go on and tell her. Blushing, "I love Tim very much. I'd like for him to become my life partner if he would agree."

Mom smiled, I smiled while shaking my head yes. Brad then reached into his pocket and took out a small ring box. "I was going to do this when we were alone tonight, but since I was asked rather directly what my intentions were, will you be my life partner." Brad opened the small box and there were two golden rings, he took one and slid it on my finger as I took the other and slid it on his. Mom had tears in her eyes and hugged us both.

"Welcome to the family, Brad. Well I guess I'll get my guest bedroom back now."

I looked at Brad as he blushed; I knew my face was just as red. "Not till the commitment ceremony. After all, my mother told me to be a good boy." Mom smiled and playfully slapped me on the head.

"That is fine with me. Tim if we could I'd ask you to marry me."

"Maybe someday that'll happen. Until then I'll be satisfied with the commitment ceremony and your love."

Of course I had to tell Paul right away. I quietly sent a message to him telling that he and Greg were invited to my commitment ceremony. I'll let him know the date as soon as possible. I think it took less than a minute when my phone rang. I saw it was from Paul. "Mom, this is Paul. Do you want to talk to him?"

Mom took the phone, "Hello Paul. How are you and Greg? Yes, how did you find out so quickly? Brad just asked him 2 minutes ago. He did. Mom looked at me and whispered,' you are sneaky'. Yes Paul I'll make sure he gets your message. Oh that would be great. This week-end is perfect."

She handed the phone to me and I just listened for the next five minutes. Paul and Greg were very happy for me and insisted that we have dinner this week-end. He said he has to give Brad his blessing before any commitment ceremony is to take place. I chuckled, saying good-bye, we hung up.

Brad looked confused until Mom explained that I had sent Paul a message that he was having a commitment ceremony. I then told Brad he would have to pass Paul's inspection before we could go ahead with the ceremony.

And so with Paul's blessing and Greg's concurrence, Brad and I had our commitment ceremony. I had come a long way from the boy who was rejected by his family. I found a loving family and more important, I found the love of my life. God has really blessed me.

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