by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 13

Winding Up - Winding Down

Con waited three minutes before calling Sebastian. No response. His phone must be turned off. He tried Reginald's number. Same response—or lack of it. A creeping fear sent him bounding up to the front door on which he hammered loudly. He was just about to give up when Desolé arrived looking at least a thousand years old and deeply upset; as she ought, having watched her son's abduction on a monitor. However, her wretched appearance was caused by fear for her own future, not her son's.

'Yes?' she asked weakly.

'Apologies for waking you, Mrs. Sanspere, but I need to speak to Sebastian; I'm his teacher and he has something of mine.'

'I'm so sorry, Mr.?'


'Mr. Achilles…' Desolé paused for a brief sob. 'Sebastian didn't come home last night. I've been worried sick all night. He was with his friend, Reginald Blackthorn. They went for a long bike ride in the country but never returned. I've been wondering if I should call the police. What do you think?'

She was good. Sickeningly so. 'Definitely call them. Do you know what direction they went?'

'I've no idea.' She began to weep.

Con turned to go. 'I'll speak to Reginald's parents and see if they know anything. They'll call you if anything happens.' He raced away before succumbing to the urge to plant his fist in her unlovely face.

'I'm on my way to Farzdbuk's hospital,' he barked into the phone. 'I've been a fool. Somehow they've got the boys! Desolé reckons they didn't come home last night, so she's up to her neck in it too. Join me and bring weapons!'

Precious minutes were wasted going home to pick up the bag of tools with which he'd instructed Guapo in the ignoble art of self defence. Knives, folding truncheon, knuckle-dusters, capsicum dust, catapult, handcuffs. There was no sign of Farzdbuk on the side road. Con drove straight past the hospital gates, parked in the disused quarry, grabbed his phone and bag, and in record time arrived in a position where, although well concealed, he could see the front steps to the hospital and the walkway to the smaller building they now called the prison.

A Mazda sports car was parked in the main car park and Farzdbuk's vehicle was stationed beside the walkway. The car boot was open and the doors to the 'prison' were swinging shut. Quelling the urge to make a suicidal dash only to discover Sebastian and Reginald hadn't been brought there, he waited and watched for several long minutes until Farzdbuk came out, followed by one of the nurses. They closed and locked the doors, conferred briefly, then walked across to the hospital, locking that door behind them.

Ten minutes later a four-wheel-drive charged up, parked beside Farzdbuk's car and disgorged two men in jeans and t-shirts. Con thought they were the other nurses.

Nothing happened for the next fifteen minutes, then Rex joined him and they withdrew into deeper cover to confer.

'Fee telephoned Reginald's father to tell him our suspicions. He's ringing round his business acquaintances to see if he can dig up any dirt on this place and its owners as well as Dr. Reins. He was dreadfully upset, so he's an ally. Can't think of anyone else we can trust though.'

'The boss — Mr. Noall, offered any help we needed, get Fee to phone him and keep him up to date in case he knows anything about the fat guy, the doctor and the hospital.'

'Will do.'

When he finished phoning Con decided it was quiet enough to do a little reconnaissance. Warning Rex to keep concealed, he was just about to cross to the 'prison' when a large car with tinted windows drew up to the front door and a sleekly dark gentleman emerged carrying a black bag. He stretched, looked around briefly, then was welcomed by Farzdbuk who had come out to the front steps.

As soon as they'd entered the building Con raced across the open ground to the back of the 'prison'. At the same time the ambulance pulled up to the main entrance. The driver got out and helped a frail, oriental looking man descend from the rear, then two nurses came out and led him into the main building.

There seemed to be no alternative entrance to the prison. Made of strong concrete blocks; narrow bars on all windows; the rear door of the same solid wood reinforced with metal bars as the double doors that opened from the covered way. The simple hipped roof was corrugated iron with two whirly ventilators. No skylights and no way to get up there anyway. The walls were three metres high; there were neither handy trees nor a ladder. He squatted against the rear wall in despair until a text arrived from Rex telling him Reginald' s father was coming. Making a long detour back round through the scrub in case someone was watching from a hospital window, Con rejoined Rex, who then set out to meet Mr. Blackthorn.

The sun rose higher, the heat was intense, even the cicadas had ceased their interminable shrieking. Quietness reigned. Suddenly a whine and the diesel generator clanked into life, numbing the senses with it's dull thud. Con was shocked. He must have fallen asleep! He hadn't noticed anyone cross to the shed. What else hadn't he noticed? Guilt at failing to protect the boys that morning ate at him as he watched the driver of the dark car stroll back to the hospital. By the time Rex returned with Mr. Blackthorn who was carrying a rifle and wearing a wicked looking knife strapped to his waist, Con was ready to make a suicide dash just to do something.

Rodney, who had come with Blackthorn, misinterpreted Con's desperate look.

'Sorry to barge in, but Reginald's a special friend so I wanted to help.'

Con stared blankly at the slim young man who looked too fragile to be of any use, nodded and shook the proffered hand, surprised by the strength of his grip.

Rex had just finished bringing them up to date when the door from the hospital opened and one of the nurses trotted across and unlocked the door to the prison. Con dashed forward and thrust himself through the door just as it was closing. The nurse, a lumpish fellow in his thirties, was too surprised to react and Con had a hand over his mouth and the point of a knife at his throat before he could yell.

'Where are the boys?' he snapped.

No response.

Con pressed the knife against his prisoner's windpipe, drawing blood as it sank into the flesh. The nurse, eyes bulging in pain nodded to a doorway that was bolted on the outside. Keeping the fellow gagged Con told him to pull back the bolts and open the door. Reginald was lying trussed on a cot, gagged and motionless, but alive. The nurse, quivering in fear and pain untied Reginald who rubbed at his arms to restore circulation.

'Where's Sebastian?' Con was curt, they didn't have much time. The nurse would soon be missed.

'I don't know! When I woke I was here alone!' Reginald was having a hard time controlling hysteria.

Con jabbed the knife deeper into the nurse's throat. 'If you make a noise I'll slice through your windpipe and break every bone in your body. Where's the other lad?'

No answer.

Con jammed the nurse's index finger hard against the wall. There was a click as it snapped but the scream never came. Shock was shutting the man down. Another finger snapped. The nurse was deathly white and sweating, eyes bulging and veins swelling on his neck.

'Where's the other lad and what's happening to him?'

It took two more broken fingers and the insertion of the knife a centimetre into the man's belly just below the navel to make the information less important than the pain.

Using the ropes that had tied up Reginald, Con made a noose round the fellow's neck, slung the end over a rafter and fixed it so he had to either stand on tiptoe or strangle. With four broken fingers he wouldn't be up to untying himself. Taking the nurse's keys he dragged Reginald out and back to where the others were waiting.

'Sebastian is in the hospital. The sick bloke who arrived in the ambulance is here for a kidney transplant and Sebastian is the donor. In the operating theatre there will be two nurses and two doctors. Farzdbuk will be in his office or hovering somewhere, he doesn't watch operations. The ambulance driver is in charge of the generator. We'll go straight to the theatre and rescue Sebastian. Mr. Blackthorn, you remain in the corridor and guard the door. If you see Farzdbuk or the ambulance driver, immobilise them, but I want them alive.'

Con reached into his bag and handed out three short, sharp daggers. 'Reginald and Rodney come with Rex and me. It's at least half an hour since the patient arrived, so we'd better hurry! I'll take Reins, Reginald take the other surgeon, Rex and Rodney, do what it takes to immobilise the two nurses. Kill if you have to.'

'But… Reginald's naked,' Rex said as if shocked.

'For fuck's sake, Rex! Get going!' Reginald hissed before racing across to the door, followed closely by Con who unlocked it and went through first, trying all the doors in the corridor as they went. The theatre was third on the right.

One doctor, robed and masked, was at the head of the operating table monitoring dials and switches and checking the vital statistics of an obviously anaesthetised patient who was lying on his side, covered with a green cloth with a hole where his kidney would be. The surgeon, who had his back to the door, was checking a tray of steaming instruments.

One nurse was watching the surgeon carefully, waiting for instructions; the other was bending over Sebastian, who was naked on his stomach, strapped to a smaller table. As the rescue party entered he was just removing a syringe from Sebastian's spine. Sebastian's eyes widened.

'Reggie!' he shouted. 'Thank goodness!'

The tableau froze.

'What the fuck are you doing in here? This is a sterile area. Get out!' barked Reins, the anaesthetist.

Before anyone had the wit to move Con stepped forward and tapped him on the nose with his knuckle-dusters. Blood spurted and Reins crashed to the floor. At the same moment Reginald let fly with a sharp kick to the back of the surgeon's knees, bringing him crashing to the ground. On the other side of the table Rodney was failing to restrain a nurse who had his fingers at Rodney's throat. Reginald stood on the neck of the surgeon who appeared to be trapped in the folds of his gown, leaned across the patient and grabbed the nurse's hair, dragging him screaming up beside the comatose patient.

'Tie this bastard up, Rodney,' Reginald said softly, smashing the nurse's head against the side of the operating table before returning to the semi conscious surgeon, lashing his wrists together behind his back with bandages then tying him to a solid looking towel rail.

Meanwhile, Rex was holding the second nurse's head in the sink, crushing his windpipe.

Con handcuffed Reins to a wall bracket, assisted Rex to neutralise his nurse, then ran out in search of Farzdbuk. They had been in the operating theatre fifty-four seconds.

The carpet in the foyer was stained with the blood of the ambulance driver who'd returned from the generator on hearing the shouts, and had his knee blown off by Blackthorn's rifle, the owner of which was sitting on Farzdbuk's belly, slamming his fist into the side of his head every time he moved.

Reginald staggered across the foyer carrying the limp body of Sebastian.

'Where're you going?' his father called.

'To look after Seb. His legs are paralysed. There are beds along here, I think. He's very cold… I … I have to save him.'

Rex, Rodney and Con followed on Reginald's heels carrying blankets, returning moments later.

'He'll be fine,' Constantine assured them. 'It's just the local anaesthetic. Reginald's making him tea and warming him. He's already showing some colour. Now for a little retribution.'

'You mean call the cops?'

'Well... Actually, I wondered if we might…' He took the others into a corner and whispered his plan.

The nods of agreement were tinged with doubt until Reginald came bursting into their conference.

'Sebastian's Okay, just numb from the waist down. One thing he was clear about, one of these guys is Jack.'

Everyone looked blank.

'Jack's the guy who claimed to be Sebastian's friend and mentor…'

'Ah yes,' Con said softly. 'He's mentioned Jack a couple of times. Well, I've just the reward for him.' He turned round and called loudly, 'Jack!'

The ambulance driver looked up, dazed and pale from loss of blood despite desperately pressing on the artery.

'Here, let me carry you to the operating theatre, we need your kidney.'

Eyes wide with pain Jack whispered, 'No', then closed his eyes and slumped.

Rex felt his pulse. 'Dead, Con. Lost too much blood.'

'Ah. Shame. Sorry, Farzdbuk old chap, looks as if you're the back-up donor.'

'No!' Shrieked the fat man as Con and Reginald took a leg each and dragged him along the corridor to the operating theatre.

Thirty minutes later Farzdbuk was naked on his belly with a blue mark above a kidney, his lower body was anaesthetised, and the two doctors, looking somewhat battered, were back at their posts.

'How long will the operation take?'

'About five hours.'

'Well, get on with it, I'm hungry!'

'The theatre is no longer sterile.'

'That's a risk we're prepared to take, Dr. Reins.'

'And if we do as you ask we'll be free to go? You won't inform the police?'

'That's the agreement.'

'Hurry up or we'll lose him! He's already been under anaesthetic too long!' snapped the foreign surgeon in accented English.

Reins sighed and turned to monitoring dials and gauges to ensure the still sleeping patient didn't die before receiving his new kidney.

Despite a rapidly purpling bruised neck, the surgeon wielded his scalpel with dexterity, and the two patched up nurses assisted professionally, everyone spurred on by knives pressing through their clothes just above their own kidneys so that any unexpected move would cause a little blood to flow.

All seemed to be progressing normally. Farzdbuk was moaning on his stomach with an expertly sewn up gash on his back. Although he'd felt no pain thanks to local anaesthesia, he was almost catatonic having been awake through the extraction of his kidney because the theatre wasn't set up for two people to be under general anaesthetic at one time. The surgeon was having his brow mopped, and there were about three hours to go when a buzzer sounded. Reins cursed, shoved something over the patient's nose, thumped on his chest, pushed another needle into a vein, turned a dial and everyone held their breath until the surgeon stopped working and took off his gloves.

Reins looked up and shrugged impotently.

'Well, that was a waste of time,' Con said irritably. 'We've missed lunch and now you've two bodies to dispose of. I hope you've plenty of wood for the incinerator.'

'How do you…'

'Shut it! Snapped Reins to the nurse before turning to Con. 'I guess you'll be on your way?'

'In a minute.'

'You said we could go,' Reins snapped.

And you shall, but we would prefer it if you didn't operate on people again.'

'I've already promised we won't.'

'I promise you won't too.' Rex's voice was sad. 'Con? Reginald?'

The two men grabbed the doctors from behind in a stranglehold and marched them to a solid, granite-topped bench where Rex was waiting with a type of cleaver.

'No! No! You can't!

'What was going to happen to my son after you'd removed his kidney?'


'What happened to all the young men who stayed with Sebastian after your goons had roughed them up and imprisoned them?'

'They're not my goons. It's nothing to do with me. It's Arnold's plan, not mine.'

'Who's Arnold?'

'Semble,' the distraught doctor whispered, nodding towards Farzdbuk, still strapped to the table. 'He's blackmailing me, forcing me to do it.'

'Well, a sense of justice is forcing me do this,' Rex said coldly raising his arm.

'My hands! They're my…' Blood-curdling screams replaced whatever he'd intended to say as Rex shortened the fingers of his right hand by a few centimetres.

Reins was spared some of the horror, having fainted before the chopper fell on his.

'That was a bit messy, Rex. You'll never make a surgeon… all those chips of bone and stuff. I hope you guys know enough to tidy up the ends?' Con smiled at the horrified nurses. 'Well, we're off.'

'What're you going to do with us?'

'We have a video of everything. We know your names, having found your credit cards and driver's licences in the changing room. Soon we'll know more about you than you do. If you are still in Queensland at the end of the week we'll take the video to the cops.'

Con turned at the door. 'And keep fat-guts there alive, or you'll be done for murder. I have more business to conduct with him and if he's not around to do it with, I'll consider it a breach of our contract. Clear?'

They nodded furiously.

'Oh, I nearly forgot, your mate is strung up over in the prison. Better rescue him soon or your funeral pyre is going to last for days. Ciao.'

Wearily, they collected Sebastian and their gear, phoned Fee to expect them in half an hour, piled into the ambulance, drove to the quarry, set the ambulance alight after ensuring the fire wouldn't spread to the trees, then drove their cars quietly back to Rex's place. The last six hours having taken more out of them that six normal days.

Fee had prepared a late lunch for everyone and was waiting nervously with Mr. Blackthorn's partner Geraldine, and Mrs. Noall, whose husband was swimming impatiently up and down the pool.

When Fee had telephoned and explained what was happening, Adam Noall had insisted they come to Rex's house to show their support for whatever Rex and the others did to rescue Sebastian and Reginald, reminding Fee that he and his wife looked on Sebastian as the son they'd never managed to conceive, so were emotionally involved.

Geraldine wanted to wait with Fee. Having only recently gained sole rights to her lover she wanted to be near in case he needed anything. She was in her forties, wore no makeup, seemed devoid of pretension, and was obviously comfortable with her body, having stripped and joined Fee and Vera Noall in the pool soon after arriving. She knew Mrs. Noall through a volunteer group lobbying fruitlessly for a fair go for refugees, and was pleased to discover an instant pleasure in Fee's sharp mind and engaging personality.

When the weary band of rescuers traipsed into the house, Sebastian was still wobbly, but refused to go to bed, insisting a swim would clear his head. After all, he pointed out, he'd done nothing except get angry. It was Rex, Con and the others who'd risked all for him. Reggie too had fought like a tiger as soon as he was freed. All the men were hot, tired, and felt filthy, so stripped and joined Mr. Noall in the pool, promising to tell all after lunch.

An hour later, bellies full, they relaxed in the warm shade and for the first time in three days let all tensions go.

Geraldine giggled.

'What's so funny?' Mr. Blackthorn asked.

'Nothing, darling. It's just the first time I've enjoyed a social occasion where everyone's naked. It's so… so liberating! I've never dared take off my clothes in front of strange men before.'

'We women have been brainwashed into thinking our bodies are never good enough and that makes us shy,' Mrs. Noall remarked sourly. 'Men are lucky. They're told from birth that because they're male, they're perfect.'

'Well, it's true, isn't it?' Con grinned.

'Today, yes. You are all beautiful and perfect.'

'And I assure you we have the same opinion of you women.'

Fee laughed. 'I can see Con is short for Con-man. But enough mucking around! Tell all! And I mean all. No self-censoring because you think we lovely ladies are too weak-minded to cope.'

Rex carefully recounted everything relevant, from Guapo's escape to their arrival home that afternoon. His tale was greeted by a profound silence.

'You didn't kill anyone?' Mr. Noall asked abruptly.

'Not directly. The fellow getting the transplant died, but that wasn't our fault. Jack lost a kneecap when he was shot in self defence, and bled to death, but that's because the doctors and nurses were uncooperative. Farzdbuk lost a kidney and survived; two surgeons lost finger tips on their right hands, one nurse has a sore neck and a small puncture in his belly, the other two have cuts and abrasions and the task of cleaning up the mess, as well as the threat of disclosure hanging over them for the rest of their lives. None of them are going to go to the cops or sue us for damages.'

'You guarantee that?' Mr. Noall asked bluntly.

'I think so.'

'If they got together and found corrupt cops and lawyers, not a difficult task, they could make a case against you for the entire thing. It's your word against theirs.'

'We also have a video.'

'Showing what? Terrified male nurses and surgeons working under stress. Sebastian and Reginald could have staged their imprisonment. No. We need a foolproof alibi.'

'Such as?'

Adam Noall stood and tapped his chest proudly. 'I will swear that you have all been here the entire day with me. I'm a well known professional in this city, have a spotless record, and people take me seriously.' Lean and slightly cadaverous, the school Principal was fit for his age, but a naked sixty-four year old gentleman with a long and slightly sunburned scrotum dangling between thinning thighs, carried little gravitas and everyone grinned.

Mr. Noall suddenly laughed aloud. 'Do I look as ridiculous as I suddenly feel?'

'Sir, to me you look like a wise and good philosopher,' Sebastian said softly, and everyone smiled and nodded assent.

'Ah, Sebastian. Is it any wonder I love you,' Mr. Noall said delightedly.

'Adam, thank you,' Rex interrupted.' Your trust and support mean a great deal to all of us, however I'm certain they won't be pursuing us.'

'How can you be so sure?'

'Because the place is a treasure trove of evidence for any competent forensic pathologist.'

'How do you mean?

'I mean that Sebastian wasn't the first young man to be in that position.'

'What?' Mrs. Noall asked loudly. 'What are you saying?'

'There have been others.'

Mrs. Noall's lips drew together and she nodded slowly. 'There are so many questions. Why is there a well-equipped hospital in the bush doing organ transplants? Who was the man who died? Who are the doctors? If you are correct, what about the families of the young men? Weren't they missed?' she looked ready to weep and turned to Fee for support.

Fee took Mrs. Noall's hand and stroked it absentmindedly. 'Vera,' she said in a voice from which all emotion had drained, 'the three most lucrative human enterprises on the planet today are trading in humans for slaves or their organs, trading in illicit drugs as well as legal ones marketed as pharmaceuticals, and trading military weaponry. A new, obscenely wealthy class of entrepreneurs has risen among our trading partners of the western Pacific, and they're demanding the chance to buy replacement body parts when their own let them down. Some countries give their powerful citizens access to the organs of prisoners on death row, but most other governments aren't so obliging. Farzdbuk saw a niche market when the airlines quadrupled flights from capitals of the western Pacific to Cairns. He bought a hotel at the northern end of the Esplanade and turned it into an up-market brothel, using local young men and girls recruited by Sebastian's mother at her so-called 'Employment Agency.'

'No wonder I was never allowed to go there,' Sebastian said. 'How did you find out?'

'I'm very nosey,' Fee replied with a wink. 'Then he took Dr. Reins as a partner and they bought the old army hospital, refurbished it, found a willing surgeon from the Philippines, and began offering organ transplants to wealthy foreigners. Donors were no problem in this city of vagrant youths from southern states seeking the easy life. Having selected a suitable candidate, preferably gay as they're frequently running from families and persecution, and the police seldom take crimes against gays seriously, they'd abduct him, rough him up, 'rescue' him to make him grateful, then store him at a suitable place until needed, as they couldn't be a hundred percent sure what day the client would arrive. While waiting to donate his organ, the young man paid for his keep by unwittingly participating in porn videos. The patient would be taken to the hospital soon after arrival, the young man would be taken to the promised 'job', surgery could then be performed the same day, and after a short recuperation the recipient would be ready to fly home. Disposal of the donor bodies was a simple matter of cremation in the giant incinerator.'

'No!' Sebastian yelled, standing and staring in horror at Fee. 'Do you mean that all those guys who stayed with us, guys I really liked, who became my friends, were cut up for their organs and then burnt? Is that what would have happened to Guapo if he hadn't escaped?'

A chill descended.

'Yes,' Fee said quietly. 'In my opinion, that is exactly what happened. That's why none of them contacted you afterwards.'

'And my mother was an essential part of that… that trade!' Sebastian raced to the bathroom and his retching could be heard in the horrified silence.

'That's how his mother could afford the house,' Rodney said softly. 'I wondered, when I saw it.'

Sebastian returned and sank to the floor beside his father. 'I should have asked more questions… I should have…' He stopped and let the tears flow.

Rex put his arms around him, rocking gently. 'There was nothing you could have done.'

'But… weren't they missed?' Vera Noall asked in a horrified whisper.

'Vera, several thousand young people go missing every year in Australia; hundreds are never seen again. Unless there's a body no investigation is ever launched. And as I mentioned, many families of gay boys, especially the devoutly religious, are delighted when they disappear.'


'Con, you said you had more business to conduct with Farzdbuk, which is why you wanted him alive. What sort of business?' Rex asked.

'Ah yes.' Con turned to Fee. 'I was presuming on the skills of your lovely consort.'

'Presume away, Con. What can I do for you?'

"I was wondering about bank accounts and things, not only of the three nurses who are packing their bags at this minute I imagine, but also the unholy earnings of Farzdbuk. Do you think…?'

'I certainly do! I was hoping someone would ask!'

'Well,' said Mr. Noall. 'I think it is time for us to depart, my dear. We don't want to fill our innocent ears with things we don't understand but fully support, do we?'

'We'll be getting along too,' Billy Blackthorn said, pulling Geraldine to her feet. 'I'm available to assist in any way I can and will be in your debt forever, Con and Rex, for returning my son to me.' He put his arm around Reginald's shoulders. 'I imagine you boys need a rest after your ordeal, but remember you're both always welcome to stay with us at any time, day or night, for any reason or no reason.'

'I hope you'll both take us up on that soon,' Geraldine said warmly. 'Reginald is coming with us now to see where we live and rest a bit, will you come too, Sebastian?'

'Thanks,' Sebastian muttered, 'but at the moment I'm too worked up to rest. I need to do something rough and physical to squeeze everything out of my system.' He turned to Con. 'Feel like wrestling?'

If Con was surprised he didn't let on. 'Sure. Is that Okay, Boss?'

'Of course! You have your own keys to the school and don't need to ask.' Mr. Noall patted Con's bum as if to underline his support.

Sebastian took Reginald nervously aside. 'Reggie, is it Okay?'

'Reginald grinned. 'Very Okay.'

'You're both sleeping here tonight?' Rex asked.

'Yes. And for the foreseeable future, if…?'

'Sebastian, my son, if you stayed forever it wouldn't be long enough.'

As the departing guests reluctantly replaced their clothes, Sebastian pulled Reginald into their bedroom. His kisses had an edge of desperation. 'You sure you don't mind?'

'Of course not, silly. I was hoping you'd say a private thank you to Con. He's incredibly sexy and so well hung! It's entirely thanks to him that you're not a pile of ashes and I'm not a prisoner awaiting execution. He risked his life for us. When he burst into the room and smashed that guy's fingers until he told him where you were, I thought it must be what it felt like to be rescued by Superman. And in case you think I'll be jealous, I won't. I don't think I'm a jealous type. I want my boyfriend to do what he needs to do. That's all.'

'And when you burst naked into the operating theatre and took out the surgeon, then the nurse, then picked me up and carried me to safety, I felt like Lois Lane being rescued by Superman.'

'Idiot. Also, I've never really spoken to Dad, so it's a good opportunity to start fresh with him—convince him I'm not a fatuous wimp. How long will it take you to 'thank' Con?'

'A couple of hours at most.'

They kissed and Reginald's penis became painfully hard and impossible to conceal.

Sebastian gave it an affectionate tug, laughed and went to find Con.

Rex, who had come looking for them, also laughed at Reginald's vain attempts to conceal his arousal. 'Be proud, never embarrassed of a hard-on, Reggie. But as you're going with your father I guess you'll need clothes. Help yourself to anything from my wardrobe.'

Impulsively, Reginald hugged his lover's father then stood helplessly in the middle of the room, tears spilling onto the floor. Rex wrapped his arms around the distraught young man and stroked his head.

'Rex. You saved Sebastian! You took out that nurse seconds before he sliced him with the scalpel. I was wasting my time on the surgeon. And if you hadn't, I don't know what I'd have….' He shook his head as if to clear it. 'I owe you my happiness. Thanks.'

'No thanks necessary,' Reginald sniffed. 'We both love him.'

'Good man. Now grab something to wear and take your father home.'

Sebastian and Con were heading out to the drive.

'Con, Sebastian, haven't you forgotten something?'

'I don't think so, Fee.'


'Sebastian hasn't any, and mine are covered in blood. We'll be in the car before anyone sees us. I'll drop him back here in a couple of hours. Okay?'

Fee's laugh was deep and full. 'Oh Con. It's wonderful having you around, I haven't felt so free with anyone for years. I'll wash your overalls and have a meal waiting for you both when you return. Have fun.'

'We will.'

Rodney had remained beside the pool and was feeling somewhat unnecessary when Billy Blackthorn came out looking for Reginald.

'Rodney. How long have I known you? Three years? I knew you were a great and reliable performer, but never realised what a brave young man you are. Without you the whole operation would've gone belly up. I've no idea how I can thank you, but know that you've a friend for life in me and if you ever need anything, you've only to ask.'

'Thanks, Billy, but I did very little.'

'Without you we'd have been outnumbered! You look sad. Are you all right? Want to come home with us?'

'Thanks. That's very nice of you but I'm not sad, I just like to think about things on my own. And I've a gig at six o'clock; someone's last day at work and they're throwing a surprise party for her. I'm the surprise.'

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