makarovia-II-17

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Subject: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is! Chapter 17 Big Story: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is Chapter 17 Big 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! Athens!! They love Greece and love Athens. More great meals. They end up at Big! They fell in love with Big! They make new friends which made it even better! Big Big was just a bar with a black rectangular counter in shape and sort of dark. Black walls. Anyone and everyone could speak together or in private with someone special. It could be a bar anywhere in the world. The bar area was closer to the door so as guys came in could order as they got more comfortable. The impression I had was these dozen men weren’t just men in general to get a drink, but friends that got together every Friday and Saturday night for years. Here. That left an open spot where guys could dance of they wanted to. At the moment the guys were looking stunned and not moving any closer. I suppose the longer they stared made it more real somehow for them. I hoped this was going to happen sooner or later. We would find some people we liked as much they seem to like us. I hoped they would like us. There were some amazed smiles aimed at us at the moment. We couldn’t be who we look like, right? They looked at each other asking the same silent question. They were seeing this, too? “What can I get you?” Pano asked pleasantly. Peter and went to sit at a tall table with tall barstools. “I assume this reaction is about what we did last week.” “You all saw it?” I asked. “Yes, practically where they’re standing right now.” Pano leaned in to say more confidentially. “I opened at noon last Saturday.” He explained further quickly. “You know? For the hour difference?” Pano nodded waving at the guys. “So, what’ll it be? I don’t do those Sex on the Beach, or Fuzzy Navels here…” I loved it here! This was a man’s bar. “Give us something…” I began thinking out loud. “Uniquely Greek!” Peter said quickly. “You have something, right?” Pano’s left eye closed a little as he warned. “It’s not for the faint of heart.” I was thinking it was what I knew it could be. “How will we know if we don’t try?” “Idonno.” Pano grinned. This man was an enigma I wanted an explanation for. A man from Greece that spoke English were everywhere, but with no inflection using Greek sounding vowels was not. Meaning I had to do the challenge to it to earn answers. Probably not, it adds excitement. “Is ouzo,” I said. “Isn’t it?” “You know it.” Pano confirmed? “I know of it.” I began the explanation of my how and what I knew of it. It was then other grandparents on Dad’s side that taught me about that Moonshine. “It sounds strong.” Peter grimaced. Pano nodded raising his right hand and his thumb forefinger showed almost no space between them. “I was joking only the teeniest and tinniest little bit was a joke.” He looked at us. “It is very, very strong.” I smiled at Pano. “Then you can tell me why I understand you so well, I feel like you’re a neighbor from next door. You don’t have an accent.” Peter grabbed Pano’s arm. “Any deaths as a result?” Pano’s eyebrows wiggled. “So far? No deaths. Requests have been made after drinking it to stop what was happening. No deaths. My Dad has one a day. He’s sixty eight!” “The English I want to know about. I noticed that, too.” Peter said. “I don’t recognize where a person is from by the accent like he can.” Pano nodded with a chuckle. “I’ll be happy to tell you.” He raised a finger, “but first.” “What did we agree to do and what are we doing and why are doing it?” Peter asked. “Because we’ve been challenged, Peter.” I pointed at Pano. “He seems like a really nice and descent guy. We’ll find out.” I thought about how to explain it better.” I chuckled. “I never told you before, but there was a guy I met who only saw two kinds of people. People that were Italians,” I motioned to a small group of invisible people a group off to the left and more invisible people to my right, “and everyone else wanting to be Italian.” “You’re kidding.” Peter snickered shaking his head. “It was all talk.” I said simply. “He was good at delivering that great unexpected zinger.” I remembered and smiled, sniffing a little. “That was almost ten years ago. I miss him.” Peter’s face changed to concern. “You were in love with him.” It wasn’t an accusation, but a simple observation. I nodded and wiped tears that were starting. “I do still. We were both freshmen and sophomores in high school.” I shrugged. “He was my first love. I was his.” “And he’s…” Peter really didn’t want to say it. I nodded. “He was killed. A drunk driver. Here, alive, and fine Thursday evening, gone Friday morning. ” I laughed nodding at the cruel absurdity. “Who drinks to be that drunk at 5:35 on a Friday morning!?” “Did the driver survive?” “I would have gone really insane if he had. He died too.” I looked at Peter. “I have pleasant memories with Dan. I always will.” I pointed at Peter. “Memories, Peter. I married you.” I took his hand. “I love you. Dan was full of himself.” I grinned. “That was an enduring quality for me. He was the one I accused of stealing the gods and pasta dishes from here in Greece! They are basically all Greek!” “You egged him on.” Peter said with a smile. I sat back a little straighter. “I know I haven’t shared with you that expression.” Peter nodded. “Yep, Ted again.” He shrugged, “We had an hour on Mondays and Wednesdays.” He smiled compassionately. “Your friend sounds like quite a character.” I nodded. “He was. I loved bickering with him. It was fun. He was a smart guy. We didn’t do this challenge then, but I’m doing it now.” Pano came back with two identical little glasses. They both had a swallow or two of some liquid in each glass. Peter’s eyes grew seeing the size of the glass. “This is Ouzo?” He leaned closer and withdrew instantly. His eyes grew wider. “I just tasted with my nose.” He pointed at the little glass. “I tell you; I got the flavor right away. Taste happens in mouth. In the nose isn’t supposed to happen.” “They are connected. So, what was the flavor?” I asked. “Explosive.” Peter stated. “That’s not a flavor.” I said back. “In your nose, it is!” “You don’t have to,” I said seriously. Then grabbed a glass and threw it back of my throat and swallowed in less than a second. I couldn’t fool myself, but I tried to surprise me? There was no preparing for it. It was a sudden jolt. An attack on me from head to toe and I mean, I felt it in my fingers, toes and even my dick, and ass as everything constricted. All my nerves seemed to pull everything in on themselves for protection. Taste? An impossible fire burned. I felt it going down all the way. I pounded the table a couple of times as it stopped moving now, but still burned. I gulped in air I’d ignored at the beginning of this attack. “Are you okay?” Peter asked in genuine concern. Even our security agents were looking concerned. I tried to reply, but nothing came out. Attempting to clear my throat and managed a weak, “fine.” He looked at his glass and tried to do like I had tried. Splash it to the back of the throat to avoid taste buds and a quick swallow to get past that. His face instantly got beet red. His eyes squeezed shut as eyes his watered. I could see where it was in his body! I could! The difficulty to swallow as it went into his esophagus and carried to its destination. Suddenly the men at the bar raised their drinks giving a single triumphant shout of victory, “Opa!” And all cheered. “Whatever this was,” I began. “We passed. I think.” Peter shook his head and managed. “The jury’s still out deliberating with me. I’ll keep you updated.” “Normally,” I chuckled. “I was told it is used in Greece and Cyprus with a strong espresso. Being so drunk, but wide awake has got to be weird.” Pano and another man came up. “Not many not from here can take that challenge.” Pano smiled. “This gentleman and I are…partners? His name’s Barry Markum.” Pano put a protective arm around Barry. “Partners in just business?” Peter asked knowing there was more. “In everything.” Barry shrugged. “We are married. Greece just won’t put the label on it.” Barry was big, not nearly Pano’s size, few would be. He wasn’t Greek. “We’ve been together coming on thirteen years. My mother is Greek.” Barry said. “I was raised in Calgary.” “I was, too.” Pano chuckled. “At least a good amount of my youth.” He smiled. “Today, I’m here to be near Dad.” “Who is just fine, by the way,” Barry added quickly. Pano nodded with a chuckle. “Yes, he’s doing just fine. Even God Almighty has have a stiff one before dealing with Edger. We started this to give us something to do. And pay our way.” “God had him briefly fifteen years ago.” Barry smiled. “Only ten minutes, we got him back. God’s in no hurry to get Edgar back now.” Pano had gotten his height from someone. Could it have been him? “Is he as big as you?” Peter asked as his discomfort had eased. Barry looked at Pano. “Not quite this size. Edgar is big.” Barry nodded. “I considered every possibility. Even someone not living up to their vows.” He waved that notion off slapping Pano lightly on the face. “This is Edger’s face. He is Edger’s son.” Pano was grinning as he only tried to stop Barry while saying stop the minor annoyance. Barry didn’t stop, he knew Pano’s buttons and when and how to use them. The newness of Peter’s and my being here had passed. Friends did tell friends by phone who came, but not in staggering amounts. These guys were friends and probably regulars. Pano said he was open every day except for Monday. That day was to work on them as a couple. After doing it over a decade, I’d say they’ve been doing something right. Even our guards watching us with a much more approachable face. Relaxed. I love Yuri to death. And Boris. They were our family, but I disagree with his distant approach. It just was impossible. I read both ways it was used. I could see where if you guard someone new forming a relationship couldn’t “just happen.” These gentlemen were being assigned to us. As in long term assignments. We are talking years. Yuri would never approved of the men conversing about anything not related to or with security. I saw how Mikell was teaching Mercea and saw how they got along. Mikell was fifteen years older than Mercea. Was there anything with them? Who knows? They’re human, I but got a lot mentoring feelings from Mikell. In almost any country when there’s a question about dating was a challenge to a lot of men. Questioning masculinity was an insult. Not in Makarovia…maybe not here either. Cosmo, yes, that was his name, not the crazy one from Seinfeld. This Cosmo was two years older than Mercea and a successful year under his belt. Don’t call them bodyguards. We called them simply guards. They preferred security or body agents. Semantics. Whatever makes them happy. “We’ll have to watch Mr. Mercea here more carefully from now on.” Cosmo said with a chuckle. “He was catching the eye of several of the men over there.” Mikell nodded. “I noticed that, too.” He chuckled turning to Mercea and pinching a cheek, shaking the young face gently. “A man’s physique with a boyishly handsome face…” He shook his head. “He’ll be breaking a lot of hearts soon, if not now.” Mercea was chuckling as he pushed hands from his face, not offended one of the men might be interested in him sexually, but they were making embarrassing comments. “Oh, come on, guys.” He pleaded a little. “Freeze!” I commanded holding my hands up. They all did, including Peter, Pano, and Barry. “Think about what you feel right now. Think about how you got there and keep it. This is what I want, guys.” I waved at them. “This comfortable familiarity between us as friends. I know you’re dedicated and I can not understand it’s complexity.” I took Mercea’s hand. “You took an Oath of Service.” Mercea nod. “To defend you or die.” “Let’s not do that last thing, okay? I like each of you.” I shrugged. “You’re willing to die for Peter and me? I want you to live for and with Peter and me. Can’t we at least talk? Tell me about yourself. I know almost nothing about any of you.” “Yuri will never allow this.” Mikell said. Peter smiled. “We have some sway with him.” He stood beside me. “We’ll deal with Yuri, but please do your jobs.” They all bowed and said, “Yes, Your Highness.” I picked up a small drink napkin and tossed the little ball of garbage at them. If you know any physics, about circulating air, it flew a whopping inch. Too much air resistance, my paper missile bomb and other things involved. “Stop that.” I grumbled. Mikell’s eyes twinkled and they did it again. “Yes, Your Highness.” Pano put his arm around Barry’s shoulder. “You probably thought it be would be another boring weekend.” He stated as an accusation and started to walk off. Barry’s eyes opened wider in shock. “Who could have guessed this!?” He followed Pano. “A night like this at Big’s Bar doesn’t just come up!” I looked at Peter. “You see how this can be better, can’t you?” “I see what you’re saying.” Peter nodded. “Yuri’s tough, but he can…” “…he can be hurt like any man.” I finished with Peter as he nodded. “I never want to hurt him or Boris. I think knowing Mikell, Mercea, and Cosmo are watching my back is a good thing. We aren’t just bodies they are assigned to watch. We’re friends they watch and may actually give a damn if we’re doing okay or not.” “We’ll be second guessing Yuri.” Peter pointed out. “I did get him to let up a little before we parted in Venice.” I smiled. “We can show him how well it works.” I waved at our security agents. “They have a very serious job. I know there are times they will have to be serious with us. When we aren’t, can’t we let them have some slack?” Peter and I did dance some, but mostly just talked with our security agents. Mikell had not married anyone yet. He wasn’t gorgeous, but nice to look at. I think he married the job and gone a lot. Mercea was youngest and didn’t really talk about what had his interest. Cosmo was married to a guy. No big surprise. Alec was the only blonde in his mid to late thirties. Rolph was in his forties was married to a woman. Again. For the third time and the same woman. “Why not just stay married until you make up?” Peter asked logically. Rolph chuckled as he ate some peanuts from a bowl on the table. They are normally just there. “Oh, but that’s not where the fun is.” He shrugged. “I love the pursuit! Me for her and her for me. You have to think about how you can do it. It keeps the romance going.” He nodded. “The next one, she’s pursuing me. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with.” “So, how long,” I pointed back and forth. “Have you two been married? Cumulatively?” “Nine years.” Rolph confessed with a shrug. “How long was the longest you were married?” I asked grinning. Rolph chuckled. “That would be number two. We had been married three and a half years.” Rolph smiled as he remembered. “She came home from work; I was going to work. We had fallen into this routine.” He shrugged. “She said she wanted a divorce.” He shrugged. “I said, sure.” He grinned. “It took a few moonlight serenades and some wooing on my part to win her back. That wasn’t routine.” “Any children?” Peter asked. “Two!” Rolph grinned and pulled his phone out and showed us two blonde girls with a pretty blonde lady. “This is Andreea, my wife currently. Alina is four and Darla is six.” He said as a very proud daddy. I pounded Rolph a little. “Look at that.” I said to Peter. “He now has depth. He’s a sucker for romance because he just is a romantic. Loves his wife and children. He has dimension! Not just the big one behind on the far left. He has a name.” Things really didn’t go out of control in Big. The guys that came here were men the regulars knew. That struck me a little odd. Paparazzi were active day and night. Then we heard someone say gruffly in Greek pulling someone back out. We had been here over three hours. “What’s going on outside?” Peter asked Pano. “There are those many photographers mezitli escort here.” Pano sighed. “We’ve had some of our big, BIGS, keeping them out.” “You shouldn’t have to do that.” I said. “Sure, I do!” He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder at the bar. “There’s probably a hundred out there. I won’t let any nonpaying guest in taking up space from the paying guests! Not to mention it would be a fire hazard!” I grinned at Pano. “Say the word spelled a. b. o. u. t.” We say about with the whole “out,” theirs is more of an “ab’ut.” Listen next time and you’ll hear it. Pano laughed at me. “About.” He said in that particular way Canadians do. “Trying to be sure I really am Canadian, eh?” “I just find all our differences is amusing.” I waved at him. “It makes the world more colorful. You’re simply a man. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this tonight. I was hoping we could come back.” Peter nodded. “Me, too.” His eyes grew in surprise. “You want to come back?” He pointed to the floor. “Here.” “Why wouldn’t we?” I shrugged. “I love the laid back attitude here. You have a good business going. If we are allowed, we’ll come again tonight.” “Sure!” Pano nodded waving around his bar. “I just don’t have all those flashing lights or strobes. No fancy drinks…” Peter nodded touching Pano’s arm. “That’s great for dancing, but for just hanging out with friends, this much better.” “Oh,” I said. “Next week we’ll stop by again. We have two friends you should meet.” “Almost half of the people there are gay in Makarovia?” Pano asked in disbelief, smiling. I gave a grudging nod. “Our population has included others from Western governments who came to help. We were at 46% among the residences.” I held fingers together to show how close. “Most now come from Russia and the Ukraine.” Peter nodded. “The couple you’ll meet came for that exact reason.” “How dare Yuri love Boris!?” I asked sounding aghast with indignation. “I wonder which of them made the first move? I bet it was Boris.” Peter looked surprised at me. “What!? Why do you think that?” “Because love is an emotion,” I reasoned. “I get the feeling Yuri sort of trips up on those things.” I said logically. “How long did it take him to kiss Boris in the open with us when we knew they were married? Three or four months?” Peter shrugged. “We’ll just have to ask.” He nodded. “I bet it was Yuri. Damned the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” I turned back to Barry who had joined us. “You two are nice guys. I tend to collect them. I’d like to include you both in the friend group.” “Absolutely!” Barry was shaking my hand vigorously. Pano shook his head at Peter’s hand. “At this level, handshaking won’t cut it.” Pano’s large arms and frame swallowed Peter a little. Then he hugged me. I wasn’t big, but Pano made me feel tiny. “We’ll make preparations for tonight.” I pointed at the door. Peter spoke with Mikell briefly who nodded getting on his phone. I touched Peter’s side. “I didn’t fully understand your desire to be just Peter in the beginning of all this. I do now.” I waved at the bar. “Here, we can just be Peter and Eric Ivanov from Makarovia.” “We’re open every day.” Barry raised a hand at that. “But take Monday off together.” I added. “That’s marvelous.” Mikell touched his earbud and nodded. He said something to someone unseen by us. “They’re ready.” “Who’s ready?” Peter asked. “What are they ready for?” Mikell grinned. “You’ll see.” Once outside, I saw many young people lining the walls of other buildings, an officer or two spoke to many. You didn’t have to be there to know what was being said. An officer shaking his head pointing at the ground, “no, he was to remain right there!” He tells someone. There were a few paparazzi, but contained by Athens’ finest. Most were searching for something Athens’ mandated all of them to have. They were hurrying to find it. It must be something rarely asked for, but needed to have. A certification maybe? We knew transportation back would be difficult. Those little bikes could weave in and out, but would follow us. Tomorrow, we’d simply board and cast off for the next port. A large van pulled up. Enough room for all eight of us and the driver. Some of the paparazzi tried to race to their bikes, but were tackled or simply stopped. I looked our security agents smiling at us. “I really, really love Greece.” I said calmly. Getting back to the Duchess was simple. I asked Mikell if we could have the same arrangement tomorrow, or rather, later tonight. It was almost three in the morning when we got back. We left word for Henri when we went to bed. Peter was quiet and I knew something was working on his mind. It was on my mind now, so I just said it. “You aren’t competing with a ghost, Peter.” I said quietly coming up behind him as we undressed. Peter shrugged, but didn’t look at me. That meant he was thinking about it. “I wouldn’t know how to.” I turned him around to look at me. “The what ifs.” I nodded. “I had a lot of those.” “Your Dad, Grandpa, your mother…” Peter nodded and asked. “How’d you stay sane?” “Katrina Sams.” I answered simply. “I’d probably be in a dark pit of depression if not for her. She allowed me and herself time to grieve, but only so long. Reminders would come up and she left herself and me that time again, but not all the time. She’d tell me, Their life is over, yours is not. The real question is, if Dan hadn’t died, would you and I be married now?” I threw my hands up in futility. “No one can answer that question. Well, he did die and I did marry you. Don’t worry about the could-have-beens that didn’t happen. They didn’t and can’t.” I looked him in the eyes. He couldn’t hide anything from me there. I saw him get a little “uncomfortable” when I did that. “So, what else?” I pointed at his face. “There’s something else. I can see it.” Peter grinned. “It’s stupid.” Peter whined a little. “What’s stupid?” I asked pulling him to me. “Was he good looking?” Peter asked and he saw my surprised expression. “Just comparing us…you’ve never seen either of us before. Who would you pick first?” “You, of course!” I said throwing my hands out again. “Dan and I were fifteen when Dan and I met that freshman year. Sixteen when we became lovers. We were no longer little boys, but not men yet. We had a desire with each other about what we wanted and agreed to find out what it was about. We knew where things went,” I tapped my head, “in here.” I pushed him back to the bed. “If he and I were that age again and met now. He would win. You’re an old man. We’re starting on uneven footing here.” I lowered over him looking in the face. “You have the most beautiful eyes.” I said quietly looking at him more intensely. My eyes were boring in to see his soul. “This light gray color washed over by a light, light green. I don’t know anyone else that has eyes that color.” “Must be from those Russians on Mom’s side.” Peter said chuckling. “Hear me,” I said seriously. “See my eyes when I say this, I didn’t know a human being could love another human being as much as I do you. I adore you, Peter.” Peter smiled at me. “I know. I adore you. I’m incomplete when you aren’t there.” “I know.” No wham, whir thank you, sir that night. It was all love. I woke and barely saw the darkened quarters. I didn’t get drunk last night. Why was I feeling like I had been? I have before, but not last night. Pano insisted we try Metaxa, a sweet almost brandy-like liquid. That wasn’t strong at all. “What is this?” Peter asked from still under the covers. He moved slowly. “Is this a hangover?” “I get a hangover from a single shot of tequila.” I moaned. “It has to be the ouzo.” I looked to see the sun. There was an elegant wall clock that said it was almost nine. “We need to let Henri know we’re up.” Peter moaned rubbing his head of hair messed up from sleeping. He chuckled. “I really did like Big’s last night. That was fun.” I nodded. “I did, too. I really like Pano and Barry.” I chuckled. “Put Pano in plaid flannel shirt, give him an axe…he could be Paul Bunyon!” Peter’s face scrunched confused. “Who?” “He’s a North American Folk Tale. Paul Bunyon. This giant lumberjack who was so big and strong he cleared a lot of forests in the Northwest.” I nodded. “He and his big blue ox. Babe was the ox’s name. I forgot what the ox did…” I shrugged. “Pano could be one of those lumber guys.” Peter nodded chuckling. “Easily. I can see that.” I went in the bathroom to start the shower, the towel warmer and the floor to warm up. It was here! I used it! “Is Paul Bunyon North American and Canadian?” Peter asked coming in the bathroom. He held his hand up. “I know, they both on the North American Continent, but is it up there, too?” I gave a grudging nod. “Mostly in the United States, but all over the Northwest. Only a few miles difference, why quibble?” I pointed at Peter coming up to him. “Pano and Barry said Calgary. That means rodeos and cowboys. Can you see Pano roping a steer? I can. We’re the same.” I loved how easy it was us now. Peter nor I had out a thing on a gave no thought to our being naked. He just turned me around and gave me a light shove through the shower door and followed me in. It was almost eleven when we came into the galley. It was things like his reaction to seeing us. He grabbed his chest dramatically. Making Peter and me jump. He startled us. Then bowed with his hands in a position of prayer. “Merci, Oh, merciful God in Heaven for answering my plea.” He said solemnly looking the ceiling. “Your plea?” I asked. Peter grimaced. “What plea? We’d get up?” Henri shook his head as he propped himself on the counter’s cutting board. “That you survived the night.” He grinned. “Your security agents were discussing some events last night they witnessed. It was in Makarovian, so I don’t know what it was. Mikell told me to ask you. So, I’m asking.” We told him about the Big Bar, about Pano and Barry and the ouzo. Henri’s eyes widened. “You survived!?” He nodded. “I was right to be concerned. That’s strong stuff. I’ve just smelled it.” “Very strong.” I agreed. “I’ve had White Lightening. Ouzo’s way stronger than that.” I saw Peter’s blank look and Henri’s sort of nod as he tried to understand. “You know, moonshine? Hillbillies?” I said further. “Dad descended from the ones in North Carolina?” I saw no real change in their expressions. “Oh, come on! You never saw the Beverly Hillbillies!? The Clampets? Granny and her rheumatism medicine she made?” Peter shook his head. “I remember seeing it come up, but this family strikes it rich and doesn’t change!? I found that hard to believe.” “It was entertainment!” I said. “They changed Beverly Hills, not the other way around.” “Your Dad’s family were bootleggers?” Henri grinned. “Just for family and friends,” I qualified. “They were more like the Baldwin Sisters on the Waltons.” I saw blanks again. “The Recipe?” I rolled my eyes. “You weren’t raised in the USA, so I’ll let it go now. You couldn’t know.” I reached over to Henri. “We’re up now and I’m sort of hungry. No real hurry.” “It will be ready in exactly half an hour.” Henri said. “How can you do it so quickly?” Peter asked. “Everything is ready to cook.” Henri shrugged. “With a little planning ahead, you can do miracles.” He did his fingers coming down like there were magical sparkles coming down. His eyebrows danced and he shooed us out. “Half an hour.” He reminded us. Peter and I walked through the ship. “How’s your hangover?” Peter asked. “Mine sort of went away.” “After we got up and moved around, it faded.” I shrugged. I started to descend to the lower decks to check “the guys.” I looked at Peter’s surprised expression. I took Peter’s hand. “Humor me. I will be concerned about the wellbeing of friends. They are friends now.” Peter grinned nodding. “Sure.” In the gathering room our security agents were lounging around, shirts on, but not buttoned. A tie nearby within arm’s reach. Rolph was the first to see Peter and me, jumping up to a ramrod straight stance of attention. “Your Highness!” The others jumped up, too. There were five of them here. Only Cosmo was missing. “You’ll hurt something doing that.” Peter grinned, shaking his head with a chuckle. “Didn’t last night mean anything to you?” He waved everybody to sit down. “I never questioned it before because that just always has been. What began last night should go forward. We had a good chemistry going and I want to see it become the normal.” He put his hand on his chest. “We know who we are.” I nodded. “You’re asking that we trust you with our lives, we need to know you to trust you.” I nodded. “I don’t know anything about being a royal or guarding a royal. So, how can I be making these changes?” “You’re looking with fresh eyes.” Peter smiled. “You see things we don’t.” I nodded. “Have any of you had a day off since being assigned to us?” I waved outside the ship. “We’re in Athens! The cradle of civilization!” I waved at Rolph. “Alina and Darla would love a present from daddy, gotten from here. I saw dolls in shop. Andreea will work even harder to win you back on wedding number four if you think of her while working.” Rolph nodded with a chuckle, scratching his ear self-consciously. Everyone knew, so confidences were broken. “We were going back to the Big Bar tonight.” I pulled Peter closer. “We promise not the leave the ship today.” I rubbed a soar muscle in my leg. “We walked miles…” I held my hand up, “I mean, kilometers yesterday. We can take the afternoon off.” Pointing at them. “Remember what I asked you to do last night? Keep that emotion. Bring it back. That is a royal order!” They looked at each other and at one time bowed, saying, “Yes, Your Highness.” We returned thirty-five minutes. Henri let us know we were late by his near glare when we came in. It was a few extra minutes. It was still steaming hot, so what was the crime? It loses something in those few minutes? Would I notice? Would Henri? There was a sweet smell I recognized as pineapple. “Sorry,” I said to him. “Viola!” Henri pulled the cover off. Raised on the Southern Coast, you can’t surprise me with seafood. I recognized shrimp instantly. I handled enough of them. “I had premade much of it. The shrimp cook quickly. There are millions of recipes out there for this from many. Sweet and Sour Shrimp. My version has nothing frozen, only fresh.” I nodded. “I’m sure we’ll love it, but why are you such a stickler for time?” Henri reluctantly nodded with a chuckle. “It’s me. Remember I tell you my…” he thought. “What’s the word?” He looked at us. “You know névrose?” He asked. My one year of French paid off a little. “Neurosis?” “Oui!” He raised his hands to his head. “In my mind, I know food and ingredients. When to add what to get the maximum flavor marriage going. When to add cooking sherry and when to add certain things for that taste I seek.” He put his fist on his hip. “Thirty minutes would have the peak time for this. The flavor would be perfect.” He waved at the steaming bowl he no longer cared about. I ate some and I will say I never had a better dish of Sweet and Sour Shrimp, Chicken or Pork, even by authentic Asian Chefs. “Oh, my god,” Peter let out. “This is…” “Like Ambrosia!” I said urgently. I looked as Peter looked curiously at me. “We’re in Athens, the Greek Gods on Mount Olympus?” Henri’s eye narrowed. “I don’t believe you.” He headed back to the galley, but stopped, winked at us, and went in. Peter looked at me. “Do you wonder about him?” I shook my head. “No. He is definitely a drama queen.” I smiled. “He’s a miracle worker in the kitchen and a nice guy. He likes us. He’s only known us a week.” Peter looked at saying I knew better. I laughed at Peter. “Yes, I have.” I pointed to the ceiling. “He can see and hear us.” Peter chuckled again. “We switched to Makarovian when he went in the galley. Didn’t you notice?” I shook my head. “No. We switch back and forth all day. I guess I don’t have to do it on a more conscious level anymore.” I shrugged. “I’m fluent.” I stopped a second. “I dream, but seldom remember them. I wonder what language I dream in.” “Well, I was raised in Makarovia.” Peter began. “I don’t notice a lot pozcu escort of nuances. Sometimes I think he would love a date with Mikell and then one of girls at school. Then what happened just a few moments ago, I wonder if he’s simply mentally balanced.” I nodded as I kept eating. “I agree.” “With what?” “All of what you said.” I shrugged. “He’s a sexually mature human that can have a relationship with the others consent and approval. Who he chooses is up to him.” I shook my head. “Mikell’s will be in Makarovia or Boston. Henri will over here. If they wanted it. Fine, but I don’t see them together. No offense to anyone, but Mikell worries about staying in shape, Henri is always cooking. It would be a short first date and just the one date. Trust me.” “Because of their appearance?” Peter asked. “You said you were attracted to me with those things all over.” He waved his hand over his face. “I looked hideous!” “You didn’t look…” “I grotesque!!” Peter interrupted firmly. “Be honest. You had a reaction the first time you saw me.” “Yes. I did.” I nodded. “You’re right. I felt sorry that no one had helped you. The emotion I had was pity.” Then I smirked. “Then you were pushing everybody away.” “I was not!” Peter was laughing. “Oh, please,” I rolled my head and eyes. “You were so! If the professor of our first class hadn’t assigned that project it making it nearly impossible for you pass his class if you didn’t talk to me, I don’t know if we’d be married! I could kiss that man.” I thought a second, “I might still.” Peter was laughing harder. “I was unprepared to function socially.” “Nooo, really?” I took his hand. “There were other things that attracted me. You’re smart, funny and kind.” I leered at him. “That great ass in those Wrangler Jeans at Walmart I’ll never forget.” I shook my head. “Whoa! You’ve come a full one hundred and eighty degrees around since then. A hot commodity.” Peter grinned squeezing my hand. “What do you mean?” “You are a celebrity now.” I chuckled. I waved at his plate. “Eat up. I’ll show you.” We finished our lunch and went to the computer in the living area. I had asked the IT guy for the Countess. He did a thorough malware and virus scan regularly. I pulled up a general browser. I typed our names in and suddenly headlines to other webpages came up. “The Real Makarovia?” Peter read. “Prince Petro and Prince Eric cancel honeymoon?” He pointed. “Click this one. For images.” There were countless images of us at Northeastern. Most pictures of us walking, usually hand in hand or even kissing. Why would we hide that? “I even know of some…” I typed quickly. “Our friend Anderson has had trouble with this.” I pulled up a webpage of a totally naked Anderson Cooper. I mean naked from head to toe. “He swears he never posed for any of these. He didn’t.” I waved at the pictures. “His are very good, but most you can see where a head has been photo shopped to a body that it doesn’t belong on.” I typed again. “They have a group of people that do just that. Celebrity Fakes. They find people with similar body types and hair and stick a head on it.” I nodded and pointed at the screen. “And here are we.” Several pictures of us about to skinny dip in a river or lake I’d never seen. Several were of us doing something we did, but never posed for. Me giving Peter a blowjob, it was my face, but not Peter’s dick. One where Peter was penetrating me on his lap. At least the guy who was supposed to be me was well endowed. Peter let out a gasp and stood up. “They can’t do this!” I pulled Peter back down. “Well, they did.” I sighed. “And there will be the Inquirer others of those yellow journalistic newspapers and People Magazine. We let The Advocate and Out use our images on the covers. OutSmart. Newsweek and Time want us. Other countries want us, too.” “But they can just put up pictures and say it’s us when it’s not!?” I nodded. “That’s where Don comes in. He and the government offices of the US and Makarovia will take action if necessary.” I said. “We have to pick our battles.” I waved at our obviously fake images. “These of us aren’t even good.” I smiled at Peter. “We’re safer in Makarovia. Anyone can become a victim.” I shook my head at a kind of sad situation. “Poor King William. The man had to go to the bathroom. Either there no portable facilities or maybe he just didn’t want to leave where he was. He went somewhere he thought was secluded and took a piss. That picture bounced all over the Internet. Surprise! See the King’s dick?” I nodded. “And there could be pictures taken when we were unaware. Like Olek said, what will it prove if there were? That we’re human and have and do with those things the same as anyone who has them.” “How do you know all this?” Peter said back amazed. I chuckled. “With Katrina’s influence I almost went into Psychology. You know big she is with emotions and verbalizing them.” Peter grinned. “Yes, I do.” His forehead bumped my forehead. “Her grandson is, too.” I kissed him. “Isn’t better to get it out and deal with it instead of letting fester?” “Yeah,” Peter grinned. “I love human behavior. I watch people.” I waved at the computer. “Maybe you should pursue it.” Peter said. “I might later.” I smiled at him. “If I began pursuing Psychology, I would have chosen you a different school and I wouldn’t even know each other. I would one of millions still saying, Makarovia!? Where the Hell is that?” Peter chuckled. “I think it was fated to happen. Destiny. Somehow our paths would cross and I think we’d get together.” He said as his lips traveled across my jaw to my neck. He knew I liked where. I knew what he liked, too. We were courteous. We were in a public area. We took our affections to our quarters. The bed had been changed and made up, the bathroom straightened (not that we were messy) and the rooms even smelled better! They must have done it while we were with security, breakfast and me showing Peter what could and was on the Internet. I felt a little guilty messing it up again. I got over that quickly. When we finished, I straightened as best I could. Peter finally blew an impatient breath and dragged me out of our quarters. “It’s not an imposition.” Peter growled. “It is their job. Let them do their job. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be here.” He threw his arm around me, squeezing me against him and kissed my head. “You understand so much yet miss simple things.” I put my arms around Peter. “My learning of people and life on the A List of Celebrities didn’t include anything about servants.” “You know why they’re here?” Peter asked. “Boris does it for us in Boston.” “I had a hard time with that at first. Remember?” I sighed. “You and I have busy schedules.” I reasoned. “He does it to free our time to keep that schedule.” I waved at the ship. “Now we have no schedule and time to waste…” Peter held me back a little. “Being with me is a waste of time!?” He asked in mock horror. “You know what I mean.” I muttered. “I leave the bed unmade because I can?” “Yep.” We went down to see who was left. Mikell was talking on his phone while at a computer. He suddenly stood up. “Don’t start.” I quickly said to him. “Sorry, habit.” Mikell grinned with a shrug. He put his phone to his ear. “That will work out fine. I’ll let you know what they decide.” He put his phone down. “That was my contact with local police department.” He smiled. “Big’s Bar is a members only facility.” Peter looked surprised. “It is?” “They didn’t stop us.” I said, not understanding. “There wasn’t even a cover charge either.” Mikell shook his head. “It is for legal reasons, I think. Anyway, when we go tonight two of us will remain outside. The police will be there to see that everyone that goes in is a card carrying member.” He chuckled. “These police helping are all off duty and getting twice what they normally make for their time.” “The guys last night were known by the others.” Peter pointed out. Mikell was nodding. “And are known by the owners. They give us a name; we ask Pano or Barry and either let them in or not.” He pointed at Peter and me. “After two drank the ouzo, you two are members.” He crossed his arms as he thought, but tapped his chin as he said. “Getting back will be easy. Load up that big van and get the Hell out. We cast off as soon as you’re aboard. We can do the group approach…” “Wearing those dark suits and glasses is a dead giveaway who we are.” I said. Mikell nodded. “We won’t wear them.” He stated simply. “Yuri is going to kill me, but we have other clothes we can wear.” I pointed at Mikell looking at Peter. “See? I said that! Remember me saying that? Yuri and I,” I turned to Mikell. “You, too. I agreed it was an excellent deterrent.” My eyes widened as a thought occurred to me. “Mom has security agents. I never really see them.” Mikell laughed lightly. “You aren’t supposed to. She has two male security agents that aren’t really used in Stryia. The other four are women. They aren’t used much in Makarovia or Boston as that house is secure. When she goes somewhere unfamiliar they are used.” “Sure. Her Ladies in Waiting.” Peter said in my ear. “Those pretty ladies are security agents!?” I couldn’t believe it. I’d seen these women with Mom before she went somewhere alone including Italy. They were well-dressed ladies like Mom was and…sorry, but I am gay. I don’t really appreciate the female form. None were overweight. I figured they were part of the Queen’s staff. They were, but they weren’t taking dictation. “And could kick your ass.” Mikell chuckled then added in hurry to show respect, “Your Highness.” I physically tried to wave what Mikell said way. “And Helga?” I asked. “Will be assigned agents when the marriage becomes known.” Mikell said smiling. “She has two for now. She works in Makarovia, so no problem.” Peter looked around. “Where is everybody?” Mikell looked alarmed. “Do you want to go somewhere?” “No.” Peter said quickly. “There’s usually a few of you here in the day. Now,” Peter shrugged at the unusual situation. “It’s so quiet.” “Oh,” Mikell said relieved. “They were given part of the day off. They’re doing what you said, Prince Eric. Seeing Athens.” “Good!” Peter and I were very careful to listen for what time we were to be having our evening meal. Whether it was just because of his neurosis didn’t matter. He was an artist and they all had quirks. He would get our diligence about the punctual part. We would eat at eight o’clock sharp. I told you he cooked for everyone on the Duchess. He was cooking all of the time. He wasn’t idle if we didn’t get served. There were four crewmen on the labor portion of the Duchess. There was the Captain and first mate, a machinist and engineer and stewards for keeping the Duchess clean. Plus, our six agents and Henri himself. The Duchess was a modern ship and had the capacity of telling if there was a problem and where it was. It made things more efficient and required less of need for a large crew. I was very aware of what was happening. The thought of all this and the cost all this crossed my mind several times. Makarovia was making money and now some of that money was being used for this trip. The wedding, reception and this was coming out of Peter’s and our account. The money in that account now had a lot to do with the uranium. Unlike the luxuries like the heaters, I turned on before the shower, we didn’t have to use it just because it was there. Our new friends in security came back about six-thirty that evening. The weather was warm as we neared summer. They looked totally different in regular shirts and pants. Sneakers and athletic shoes. They were just…guys! They looked comfortable. Two had familiar drink cups in their hands. You quickly ID them and know the contents were coffee. The love for a good cup of coffee was international. People loved good coffee was also international. The race never entered the discussion. How a person willingly gave it up didn’t make sense. If it did no harm, why give it up? I had a friend, John Cooper in high school that belonged to this church where coffee, Coca-Cola an even regular caffeinated tea was prohibited. What would dragging through the morning get us in Heaven others didn’t get? (I heard that! Someone just thought that I didn’t understand. You’re right! I don’t!!) Religions frequently hit us in two places, the bedroom and dining room. I didn’t trust any of them to oversee anything in my life and definitely not about my eternity. What changed because I enjoyed a hamburger!? God forbid, I ate barbecued pork! Or anything like pigs be it baby piglets or even the mighty boar. They were unclean. How we ate mattered, too. People are gross sometimes. I was a little nauseated with this one, too. For the select few and wealthy, a unique trend came about. Mice and rats were vermin. After dinner the newly arrived little ones were force-fed honey and the little one was eaten alive. Ewe! There’s that shutter again at the thought of doing it myself. We had been told eight in the evening. We arrived at 7:57pm. Actually, a few minutes earlier, but came in dining room at 7:57. Henri came in smiling pushing the cart. He looked at us and chuckled. “Thank you for dealing with my particuliere.” He looked at nothing. “I don’t know word for that one.” I nodded. “It’s so close to particular in English. It has to mean something along that line.” “Someone that acts a little uniquely bizarre because of what goes on in their head.” Henri nodded. “Idiosyncrasies’?” I suggested. Henri gave a hesitant nod. “I think so.” He went to his usual self. “Here we are.” He showed us two plates with crispy ringed things. “Calamari for each of you.” He put the plates in front of us. A ramekins of red liquids for each of us, too. No fear of double dipping. “I heard you say liked them. They were out at the market…” Peter reached and touched his arm. “Henri,” he said smiling, “that’s fine.” He leaned closer to me. “Even Queen Alla will even wear an outfit more than once.” His eyebrows danced. I reacted dramatically in exaggerated surprise. “No…way!” Being a drama queen didn’t take much effort. Peter squinted his eyes and said out loud. “Never, of course, with the same people and city…” I nodded. “Of course, not.” Henri chuckled waving at our plates. “They’ll get tough and chewy, bon appetite.” We had a dish that had pasta in it. This had pasta, that was not spaghetti. What Italians called macaroni? Meaty sauces were gravy. This had shrimp, calamari, and scallops. I said they stole it from Greece, but this was not macaroni and gravy. It was cooked with a lot of Olive Oil. It even looked different. It tasted different! It was delicious! Nothing wrong with Italian macaroni dishes. No, don’t think that. They were a Leonardo de Vinci, this was Apelles! Different, but very good. Getting together with our security agents was getting a group of friends together now. In jeans and t-shirts, they looked like just regular guys. Mercea now looked like he was still in high school. He did have a boyish good looks. Cosmo had earrings on! They all had on those “jackets” worn on cool, breezy nights. It could get into the sixties at night here. Their shoulder harnesses with the guns were hidden under them. “We’re going again to the Big Bar,” Mikell said to everyone. “You know they might expect to see us there in suits. Not four couples going to a bar.” He chuckled. “I choose Mercea.” There was some grumbles from the others whether it was done in jest or real disappointment. That caused Mikell to be nodding as they were complaining. “Yes, yes. Cry a river.” He looked at Rolph. “You said no guy had temped you that way!” He threw an arm of companionship around Mercea’s shoulder. “Will you mind being seen with me?” He asked Mercea. Mercea shook his head. “Not at all.” Our population was made up from many, many homosexuals. Surprise did still come. The way Mercea said it made me think there could be something there. Forgetting about the superior and lesser employee factors. There was hero worship, too. The fifteen difference year didn’t matter. There was the protection thing. Mercea was young, Mikell was doing a Daddy thing. There was also the possibility they enjoyed escort bayan both. Even men who are “straight” do it sometimes. Mikell was a good looking man. He was gone away from Makarovia a good bit of the time. Having someone doing the same with you helped. I found myself hoping they were or would be soon. Was Mikell a sexual predator? He showed none of the signs. Mikell was control, but not controlling. He didn’t sexualize things. He didn’t isolate Mercea from the group, but encouraged more. I’ve never seen Mikell react in disgust at Mercea. Mercea was never deflated or elated when speaking with Mikell. Mercea’s voice had the, I’d love to seen with you, sound. I didn’t know the fraternization rules. I just knew Mikell would be professional enough to keep things under control. As with most bars and clubs around the world, the Big Bar’s peak times were after ten in the evening. They opened at six, but it got more congested at ten. That lasted until two in the morning. There was no “last call” here. It was posted in big numbers right beside a big clock. Pano and Barry simply stopped serving. It was clear Pano didn’t tolerate the “mean drunk.” You really never saw them. Greek people were raised around good food, good friends, and wine! They drank. Sometimes more than they should have, but are not violent at all. I thought of Brad from Northeastern and the night he felt Peter up at Jocks. He would have been thrown out of Big’s pretty quickly. I grinned at what I saw with them. “I have to say it.” I couldn’t stop it. “Yes, it is your job. I know. One you all do very well.” I bowed to them. “Thank you.” I spread my arms to include them. “Thanks to all of you.” One by one, I hugged each of them. “You wonder why we like doing the job?” Cosmo grinned. “Paychecks are one thing. Respect for who we are and what we do were is appreciation. Is a reward, too.” I was aware of what we looked like walking up to the Big Bar. Cosmo and Alec came from the opposite direction. They had waited until we had gotten closer looking like a random couple. Cosmo and Rolph had their arms around each other’s waist and walking close together and were very convincing as a gay couple. Cosmo’s head went down on Rolph’s shoulder which Rolph kissed the top of Cosmo’s head. Mercea and Mikell were convincing, too. Mikell must have told Mercea to really ham it up. Mercea did! Once we got close enough to hear some of the music. Mostly, the bass. Mercea came from under Mikell’s protective arm and spun away still holding Mikell’s hand as he began to dance with Mikell who simply laughed shaking his head and pointed at the bar. Mercea still danced going under Mikell’s arm like he’d been spun. Mikell chuckled bringing Mercea into him kissing Mercea on the temple. A police squad car waited near the entrance. A few men were out smoking for now or waiting for someone. Nothing said they were security agents. It was just after nine when we entered Big. Pano and Barry were speaking with two uniformed officers. One was female! They speaking in Greek. Pano looked up and looked confused, but smiled seeing Peter and me. “I almost didn’t recognize you!” He said looking at Mikell with a grin. He came up to me. “Hello, Eric!” And the greetings went on with Barry and Peter. Peter shrugged. “We didn’t want to attract unnecessary attention.” We were introduced to the two officers there now. They both spoke English, but not very often. There would be eight there soon who remained until we left. Plus, our two, we should be fine. There was a side and rear entrance, too. Those were locked, but locks didn’t stop some people. Then a man I’d seen the night before came in with another Pano. This Pano was in his sixties. Edger. Barry was right. Pano did have Edger’s face. He didn’t have the beard and his black hair was thinning, but still there. Not as much as in the past. Something happened that had Edger disgusted and was fuming about. I didn’t speak a word of Greek, but I knew body language. He pointed with his thumb at the entrance and said something along the lines of, can you believe that guy? The man nodded chuckling patting Edger on the back. Then said in accented English. “He just didn’t know who you were.” Peter grinned and stuck his hand out to Edger. “But we do.” He pointed between himself and me. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Constantinos.” I greeted shaking his hand. The man’s eyes widened. “You’re…” he got out, but didn’t say it. “Yes, we are.” I nodded. “And you…” he didn’t say that one either. “I’ll say yes to that.” Peter chuckled, not understanding what agreed to. “I think.” Pano came around us putting an arm around his father. Yes, Barry and Edger were big men over six feet. Pano still dwarfed them. “Papa. This is His Highness Prince Pedro Ivanov.” He motioned to me. “And His Highness Prince Eric Ivanov.” He shook his head at his father. “I told you this morning you needed to come and meet some people.” “You didn’t say who it was!” Edger said, he raised his voice a little and waved toward Peter and me. Pano smiled and raised his voice, too. “You didn’t ask me.” “I never do!” Edger nearly shouted. The Italians must have stolen the yelling thing, too. Pano looked at Peter and me. “That’s true. He really doesn’t.” Pano confessed to Peter and me. Then doing a good imitation of his father. “If it’s meant for me, I’ll get it.” Edger nodded vigorously. “That’s right. If I’m expected to know. Tell me. I’m not some excited child wondering what I’ll get.” Edger had what I expected Pano to have. That slight Greek inflection and diction even when English was spoken. Edger spoke English well. Accented, but understood. I hadn’t gotten Pano’s story yet, but Pano had spent some formative years in Calgary. I assume he and Barry had met there, being the same place. “So,” I asked Edger. I jutted my head toward the door. “What happened out there?” Edger waved that away. “This kid wanted my ID and membership card.” He shook his head. “I’ve never needed them before! This is my sons’ bar!” “That’s our fault.” I said. “Yesterday,” Peter explained. “So many wanted get in and take pictures. We had to.” “It’s just for tonight.” Barry assured his father-in-law. “And maybe next week.” Edger nodded. “I suppose.” Then he brightened. “What do you think of Greece?” That released an avalanche of gushing on how we’d fallen in love with Greece. We both swore we’d be back often as we could. Again, we sat at the tables toward the back near the emergency exit. This time Edger joined us. Pano and Barry did, too, but they had a business to run. Pano ended up going to help Barry. “Pano’s a good man.” Peter observed. “A big part of what we love about Greece is the people.” Edger nodded. “We value community and friends the most.” He chuckled as Pano had snuck up behind Barry, kissed him on the neck making Barry drop the mixer and glass of whatever he was making. Barry swore something laughing. I understood say: Damn it, Pano. He threw some of the ice he’d spilled at Pano. Pano dodged that grabbing a nozzle to spray water in the sink and shot Barry with it. Good water pressure. Barry then went to the other sink and used that one. The patrons nearby were yelping when they got just a little of it. “They’ve been like that for nearly fifteen years.” He marveled. I smiled watching Pano and Barry wrestle the nozzles away, Pano bringing Barry in for a hug and kiss. “No adjustment period for you or his mother?” Edger looked surprised, but nodded. “None from me. Deanna, his mother, did a little.” He chuckled. “Her father, Pano’s grandfather wasn’t Greek. She was only upset about the no grandchildren part.” He chuckled again. “I told her there were ways around that.” He smiled again at a memory. “He was thirteen. Nearly six feet then. She wanted me to ask him if he was having sex. I told her I’d be surprised if he weren’t. I spoke to him and told him to ask me anything. I told him about sensations he may have and didn’t understand.” I nodded. “More parents should be like that.” “One day,” Edger chuckled. “Back in Calgary, we had a family visit and their daughter who was ten, took a fancy with Pano. He was eight going on nine. He was showing her around.” He laughed now. “The mother had gone to look for them. Worrying about what they were doing. We heard the scream! Deanna, the girl’s father and I raced to find a naked Pano and a half naked girl.” He leaned to say more confidently to us. “Her shirt was totally off and she was pulling her skirt up quickly.” He chuckled again. “Pano had a very good erection going, which I know she manually or orally got him going. Both? Every child plays,” he used finger quotes, “doctor. They were older children are who usually do it. It’s the same thing with a few additions of some limited understanding.” “It’s what they are.” I nodded smiling. “To see what’s going on down there.” “Exactly.” Edger nodded. “That family belonged to this ultra-conservative fundamentals do-gooder group. Furious with their daughter and Pano.” Edger shrugged. “She was only starting getting undressed Pano was naked as the moment he was born. He was assaulting her!?” He chuckled. “The mother and father asked if I was going to punish Pano.” Edgar shrugged. “What for? What he did was perfectly natural.” He smiled again. “I think it was a shakedown. Threatening to call the police for us to negotiate what it would take no to.” He chuckled. “I called them.” “To clear any future charge?” Peter asked. Edger shook his head. “No, to press charges against her! I was willing to let it go, but no…she was a year or two older than Pano. By the time police arrived, it gone from rape to kids being kids. When it was clear she assaulted him.” I smiled at that. “Yes, she did. What happen to her?” Edger shrugged. “They didn’t last long there. They were gone within a year.” Peter shook his head. “You are a rare man. A sane parent. Preparing Pano for life.” “How could I be any less?” Edger reasoned. “All his life I was telling him about the big swim. When the time comes, I couldn’t just stand there and watch him jump in the deep end and hope he’d survives. He needed lessons!” I shook my head. “I adore Greece!” I leaned over putting my arm around Edger’s shoulder. “I’m beginning to adore you!” Peter joined us in the hug. “Makarovia must have descended from some of these people.” “They did,” I nodded. “Certainly.” It did get somewhat busy, but not too bad. We did still have Mercea, Mikell, Cosmo, and Rolph inside. There were ten outside, two of our security agents and eight of Athens police. Peter and I did have a couple of drinks. I had to remember what some were. Everyone knows a Long Island Iced Tea, but I had it without the tequila. I don’t know why, but even a little will give me a hangover in the morning. My body didn’t like it. It had the rum, vodka, triple sec, and gin. Don’t forget the splash of cola! I didn’t miss the tequila. It was good! Peter’s preference was a whiskey sour. That was fine. I just didn’t care for the egg white in it. There was even a dance or two. It was nearing two in them morning. Pano and Barry got the orders from patrons still there. “You two are serious about coming back?” Edger asked. He had his ouzo. Both Peter and I shook our heads about having more. “We are,” Peter nodded. “We love being here. It does remind me a lot of Makarovia.” Edger nodded. “There are the bad here.” I nodded. “There are human beings here. I know there are some in Makarovia.” “When are you leaving?” Peter looked at his watch. “In the next hour or two.” Edger’s eyes widened. “It’s the middle of the night!” “And?” I asked. “What’s your point?” I was messing with him. Truth was. We couldn’t say it out loud. You could bet someone could be listening. Equipment was available to listen even at a distance. It is just amazing the obstacles people overcome to get what they want. It was just after two when Pano and Barry and came over to us. “Sorry about tonight.” Pano said. “Don’t apologize for doing a good business that people come to share it.” I chuckled. “I’ll say again, love what you do and do what you love. You never go to work. You’re doing a Hell of a fine business and making money and friends. I hope you see us as friends.” Barry nodded. “We do!” Peter smiled. “Do you have your cell phone?” He looked between Barry and Pano. “Either of you?” They both were doing the what did I do with it look and feeling their pockets. Barry was the first one to find his. It was a SmartPhone. Peter nodded. “Can I add a contact? That contact being us.” Barry nodded. “Sure.” He was smiling bigger. Peter pulled up what wanted and frowned. “Can they increase the size of the keyboard? It’s hard with one so small. “Tell me about it.” Pano muttered and held his even bigger hand, just a little, up to compare. Peter chuckled and nodded. He did it quickly, but checked his work and had me check it, too. One dot missing or misspelled word and they’d get nothing. “I put down as P these were higher pitched and lighter. More lights came up, but the flashing red and blue lights told those lights belonged to the police. On duty or off duty, they were the police. The squad cars made it even more difficult to get that picture. That jaw dropping, astounding picture each one of these guys knew they could get it people would get out of the way. Fame could be theirs! I use that analogy of a film I saw of Africa. Poor beasts that, no matter what they did, even soaking in mud. Those pesky insects swarmed around the across them, but in particular, the moisture in and around the eyes. There was little the animals could do. It had been this way for hundreds of millions of years. That was life. Well, not with us and not with this infestation. The marina the Duchess waited had other pretty pricy vessels there, too. A fence kept common men from entering and stealing anything from any vessel at the marina. At a large gate, a man opened to let our van through. We were followed by a dozen bikes. One tried to make a break and get in anyway. The nearest police car turned it’s siren on briefly and his partner ran over quickly to pull one of the two young men off the bike. Again, you didn’t need spoken language, body language said it all clearly. Did you honestly expect we’d let that happen? The police said pointing at the gate. It was his idea! The young man pointed at the other at the handlebars. I told you. I read body language fluently and no matter what language, people did the same around the world! Gone were the days of the need for tugboats. The Duchess could navigate her way from the marina and leave. No help needed. As we approached the Duchess, you had to listen to hear the engines running. Cars were loud and smelly at first when they came out. Now, they smelled great and purred. The same with the Duchess. A well maintained engine idled softly. A female crewman I hadn’t noticed was counting as we boarded. Once complete she spoke on a small device that looked more like cellphone than a radio. “Wait a minute,” I said as we went on further. “Who’s she?” Mikell looked back. He smiled. “Oh, that’s Gretchen. She’s sort of an, as needed crewmen. Galley assistant, housekeeping…” he waved at the ship, “whatever.” “And when did she get here?” I’d never seen her. “She’s been here the whole time.” Mikell grinned. “Tell her that. It will make her day.” “She wants to be invisible?” Mikell nodded. “Yes. You see something has been done, but not by who.” I loved Greece, as you know. I was tired of all the attention we were getting now. The extra need for security because of the pests. We told him anywhere without all that. We spoke with the Captain to find out where to go next. “An island like that one with only a few trees?” Peter asked. “A less populated island perhaps?” I asked. “Not very touristy.” The Captain nodded. “Antikythera!” “Bless you.” I said. The Captain was puzzled a second or two and grinned with a chuckle, shaking his head. “Thank you, but no. Antikythera is an island on the north and western side of Crete.” He pulled up a navigational map. “We’re here now.” He pointed. He them typed and the monitor changed. “There are just a few dozen people on the entire island. The main settlement Potamos had a population in the mid-thirties.” He chuckled. “Even the Ottomans didn’t think it was worth their time.” “Sounds perfect.” I smiled. “There’s a hotel and…” Peter nodded and waved toward the bridge. “We’re standing on a five and seven star anything. Let’s go.”

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