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BOYSTOWN

Season Eight





Jake Biondi

BOYSTOWN Season Eight

Jake Biondi

Copyright 2018 by Jake Biondi

Smashwords Edition



©2018 Jake Biondi



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photos © Erica Dorsey/Andrew Christian

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Special thanks to editors:

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Table of Contents

Title

Copyright

Start of Book



Episode #71


Omens come in all shapes and sizes. From inside the Ciancio helicopter high above San Francisco, Gino Ciancio looked over the city as he made the short trek from the airport to the Ciancio estate. The helicopter cast a shadow on the ground beneath it that looked like a black bird making its way across the terrain. Eager to unearth the truth about his family, Gino scanned the ground below as the chopper brought him closer to home.

His thoughts oscillated from his husband Justin Mancini, whom he had left behind in Chicago without telling him about the flight to California, and Marco Ciancio, the twin brother he thought he had shot and killed on the chilly waters of Lake Michigan months earlier.

“Everything okay?” the pilot asked through his headset.

“I’m not sure,” Gino replied. “Just get us home as quickly as possible.”

“We’ll be there momentarily.”

Gino reached into his coat pocket and pulled out the envelope that had been delivered to him in Chicago just as he boarded his jet. He placed it on his lap and opened it carefully, just as he had opened it during his flight from Chicago. As he slowly sifted through the photographs of his husband Justin kissing Aiden Carmichael against the backdrop of Chicago’s Belmont Harbor, a chill permeated his body as he wondered whether revelations even darker than those revealed in the photos were about to come to light when his helicopter landed.

Gino’s thoughts of Justin’s infidelity were interrupted by the words of his pilot: “Do you want me to get you close to the house?”

“No,” Gino replied, looking up from the photos. “Get me as close to the family crypt as you can.”

“There’s a clearing right behind it that should work well for a safe landing.”

“Whatever you think is best.”

The pilot looked at Gino and smiled. “You got a date with a dead ancestor or something?”

“Something like that,” Gino mumbled, watching the Ciancio estate grow larger and larger as they approached it. “I may need you to join me.”


Inside the Ciancio crypt, Camille Ciancio lay in the darkness of the casket in which Marco had trapped her. With little air left inside her tomb, she dozed in and out of consciousness.

Trying to free herself from the casket, Camille had shredded the satin lining of the box and torn strips of it hung down from the lid like stalactites in a cave. As she occasionally gasped for a breath, the hanging strips of satin moved slightly and then rested back in place.

Her face covered in makeup smeared from her tears that had long since dried, Camille periodically spoke a word or two in a no particular order. “Hugo. Son.”

As more time passed, she stopped speaking and, eventually, became completely unconscious.


The helicopter landed in the clearing behind the Ciancio monument and Gino hopped out as soon as it was safe to do so.

“You better come with me.”

“Whatever you say, boss,” the pilot replied, making sure the helicopter was safe to vacate.

Gino rushed to the entrance of the monument with the pilot close behind him.

“Exactly what are we doing?” the pilot inquired as the two men stopped in front of the large doors.

Gino pushed open the heavy doors in front of him. “Seeing if my brother Marco has more lives than a cat.”

Puzzled, the pilot followed Gino into the dark crypt.

Inside, Gino wasted no time approaching his brother’s tomb. He quickly examined the exterior of the stone structure to determine the best way to open it. Putting his hands firmly on the top slab, he tried to push the stone to the side.

“I need your help,” Gino stated.

“We’re opening your brother’s grave?” the pilot asked in disbelief.

“Don’t ask questions, just help me.”

“I have a bad feeling about this,” the pilot admitted, taking a position next to Gino. “Your brother’s been dead for months.”

“Shut up and push,” Gino directed.

Together, the two men used their strength to slide the top of the tomb to the side. The process was not an easy one, but they eventually moved the slab just enough to reveal the casket sitting beneath it.

“Everything looks good,” the pilot said. “Now can we slide it back and get out of here?”

Gino ignored the comment and reached down to open the lid of the casket.

“Oh no,” the pilot remarked. “What are you doing?”

Again, Gino didn’t reply. Instead, he ran his fingers along the edges of the casket and released the latches that held the lid down. Once the lid was unlocked, he opened the casket.

The pilot stepped back as Gino lifted open the lid. Gradually, what little light was in the crypt illuminated the inside of the casket.

“Oh, my God,” Gino gasped as the pilot stepped back even more. “Camille?”

“Your aunt?” the pilot asked from his position against the wall.

“What the hell?” Gino asked as he reached in to touch Camille’s body. Shaking her body gently, he called out her name. “Camille!”

“Is she okay?”

“She’s not waking up, but her body is warm,” Gino replied as he continued to shake his aunt’s body. “Call an ambulance!”


As the pilot pulled out his phone to call for help, Joyelle Mancini cradled her baby in her arms, singing her a lullaby as she walked around the living room of her condo in Chicago. Holding Hope upright, she rocked back and forth as if they were dancing together. She was lost in the joy of having her child back.

“What a pretty sight,” a voice behind her declared.

Startled, Joyelle turned around and found Marco standing in the doorway behind her.

“Madonna and child,” Marco added, holding a gun at his side.

“Gino?”

“It hurts my feelings that you don’t know the difference between us,” Marco said, raising the gun and pointing it at Joyelle and Hope. “I’m the one who made that baby with you.”

“Marco, you’re alive!”

“Very much so. And I want my daughter.”

“Where have you been? We all thought…”

“You all thought what I wanted you to think. The truth is that I have been enjoying raising our daughter as a single parent.”

“You?” Joyelle asked in disbelief. “You’ve had my daughter this whole time?”

“She’s my daughter and, yes, I’ve had her. I’ve been treating her like the little princess she is.”

Joyelle grew angry. “You denied her being with her mother in the process. You’re a monster.”

Marco smiled. “You flatter me. Besides, I recall you liked me being a monster in bed that night we slept together.

“That was a terrible mistake.”

“How can you say that? We made Hope that night. If you think she’s a mistake, you have no business being her parent.”

“She’s not a mistake at all. She’s perfect. You’re the mistake.”

“I’m her father. I was able to give you something your loser ex-husband never could.”

“You killed our twins in that hotel explosion. I’ll never forgive you for that. Neither will Derek.”

“Somehow, I think I’ll live,” Marco joked. “Besides, you really shouldn’t throw out baseless accusations like that.”

“Baseless? I may not have tangible proof, but I know deep in my soul that you were behind that car bomb. Now get the hell out of my home.”

Marco raised his gun slightly. “I came back to Chicago for my daughter and I’m not leaving without her.”

“No,” Joyelle said firmly as she stepped back from Marco. “You can’t have her back.”

“Have it your way,” Marco replied, shoving his gun under his belt.

He lunged toward Joyelle, grabbing her by the neck and pushing her against the wall. Pulling a syringe from his pocket, Marco stabbed it into Joyelle’s neck and pulled his daughter from her grasp.

“No!” Joyelle yelled, touching her hand to the spot where the syringe poked her.

“Time for a nice, long nap,” Marco replied, cradling his daughter in his arms.

Joyelle tried to talk but couldn’t as the drug took hold of her. She slowly collapsed onto the floor, unconscious.

“Your mother always makes things so difficult,” Marco told his daughter. “I have plans for us. All three of us.”


As Marco executed the next step in his sinister plan, Gino walked down the hospital hallway toward the doctor standing at the nurse’s station.

“Excuse me,” Gino said politely. “I’m Gino Ciancio. I was wondering if you could provide me with an update on my aunt…Camille Ciancio.”

“She’s going to be okay,” the doctor replied. “You got her here just in time. You saved her life.”

“I’d like to see her.”

“She’s resting.”

“That wasn’t a question. I want to see my aunt.”

“She’s resting, Mr. Ciancio. You can see her when she wakes up.”

“Do I have to remind you whose family name is on this hospital?”

“That won’t be necessary, Mr. Ciancio. I know your family is responsible for building this medical center. Come with me.”

The doctor led Gino down the hallway and into Camille’s room.

“Please, not too long,” the doctor requested. “She needs to rest.”

“I understand, thank you.”

The doctor left the room and closed the door behind him as Gino walked closer to Camille’s bed.

“Aunt Camille,” Gino whispered, placing his hands on the rail along the edge of the bed. “Camille.”

Camille slowly opened her eyes and looked up at her nephew.

“Gino,” she whispered, trying to force a smile. “The doctor said you rescued me. If you hadn’t arrived when you did…”

“It’s okay,” Gino replied. “That’s over now. You’re safe and you’re going to be okay.”

“You saved my life. I’ll never forget what you did for me.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t let you.” Gino pulled a nearby chair closer to the bed and sat down. “In fact, you’re going to start repaying me right now.”

“I’m tired...”

“You’ll get your rest. First, I want to know something. Is Marco alive?”


While Gino questioned his aunt about his twin, Aiden Carmichael returned to his hotel room in Chicago. Closing the door behind him, he quickly pulled off his suit jacket and shirt, which were slightly stained by blood that resulted from stabbing Justin Mancini

Walking into the bathroom, Aiden unfastened his belt, let his pants fall to the floor, and stepped out of his underwear.

Standing naked, he admired his buff, chiseled body in the mirror above the sink. He celebrated his hard work in the gym and savored the view in the mirror as if it were his greatest accomplishment despite all the chaos and tragedy he had just caused at the youth center gala.

He turned away from the mirror and planted his firm ass against the granite vanity top behind him. Taking his large dick into his hand, Aiden grabbed it firmly and began to massage it. Growing in size quickly, his erect penis impressed even him as it expanded inside his hand.

Positioning his feet on the clothes lying on the floor, Aiden looked up at the ceiling as his climax approached. His body shook violently and the pace of his stroking increased.

He looked down at his dick to see its bulging head prepare to erupt. Letting out a victorious grown, Aiden squeezed himself just enough to cause an explosion.

Cum shot across the room, hitting the bath tub, the wall, and the clothes lying on the floor. Aiden refused to stop stroking as his body twitched with pleasure. Wave after wave of cum spewed forth and Aiden appeared to celebrate the amount of coverage it made.

When his orgasm finally subsided, Aiden scanned the room to see what damage had been done. Then he picked up his clothes from the floor, used them to wipe his cum off the surfaces in the room, and carried them into his bedroom.

He pulled an old, black garbage bag from the closet and stuffed the clothes he had worn to the gala into it. He tightly tied the bag closed and placed it in the corner of the room before climbing onto the bed to reflect on the events of the evening.


In San Francisco, Victor DelVecchio swung at the large, black punching bag as if he were trying to kill it. Each contact with the bag sent it flying like it was trying to run away from him, and the muscles in his arms flexed, showing their definition. His black tank top darkened with sweat from his back and chest while the tattoo on his right shoulder caught the light of the industrial fixtures hanging from the gym ceiling.

Others who were working out nearby paused to check out Victor’s physique and the fervor with which he was attacking the bag. Tall and fit with dark hair that was sticking to his forehead from sweat, Victor tended to get attention wherever he went.

A friend approached him, causing him to pause his assault on the bag. “Geez, DelVecchio, give the poor bag a chance.”

Victor wiped the sweat from his forehead and flashed his perfect teeth with a sly smile.

“It’s like you want to murder that thing.”

“Got a lot on my mind,” Victor said. “That’s all.”

“Everything okay?”

“I’ll be fine,” Victor replied, bending down to pick up his towel and water bottle from the floor. “I’ll catch you later.”

Wiping his face with the towel, Victor headed to the locker room. Opening his locker, he wasted little time stripping off his sweaty tank top and shorts, revealing his sculpted body to those standing nearby.

Before heading to the shower, he grabbed his phone and scrolled through the photos on it. After a moment, he stopped to ponder an old photo of Gino and him. “What a fool I was,” Victor mumbled and then tossed the phone back into the locker before heading to the shower.


At the hospital, Camille sat up in bed to respond to her nephew’s question, which he repeated when she didn’t respond the first time he asked it.

“Is my brother Marco alive?”

Camille hesitated and then replied, “After what you did for me today, saving my life from that horrible casket, I think I owe you the truth.”

“That would be nice.”

“Marco is indeed alive.”

Gino hopped up from his chair. “How is that possible?”

“I think the key to all of your questions is Connor Albright.”

“Albright?” Gino asked as he approached the window. “The hospital worker that killed himself? What does he have to do with Marco?”

“He’s the one who helped him fake his death. And so much more.”

“More? Jesus.” Gino walked back over to his aunt’s bed. “Start from the beginning. Please.”

“As you know, Connor worked at the hospital. He had access to everything there. His father is very ill, so your brother offered to help out his father in exchange for a few favors.”

“What kind of favors?”

“Ones only your brother Marco could devise. First, Connor doctored up a body in the morgue to look like Marco so you’d think he was dead. Apparently, it worked.”

“Of course it did. The body was so mangled and disfigured from the cold lake water and gunshot that it was easy to trick me.”

“As a dead man, Marco had the freedom to move around and manipulate from behind the scenes.”

“Manipulate?”

“In addition to helping Marco fake his death, Connor also helped him accomplish a few other things. Namely, kidnapping his daughter from Joyelle Mancini and killing Rachel Carson.”

“Oh, dear God.”

“It’s true, he told me himself. Connor had easy access to Joyelle’s hospital room. On Marco’s orders, he knocked her out and took her daughter. Connor was able to avoid security cameras and take Hope from the hospital without anyone noticing.”

“That’s why security and the police had no leads or evidence.”

“Connor knew exactly what he was doing.”

“And Rachel?”

“Connor had his own reasons for wanting Rachel dead. Apparently, they had slept together on several occasions and he had helped Rachel alter a paternity test. He honestly believed that they could have a relationship, but of course Rachel was only leading him on.”

“God knows my brother also had reasons for wanting Rachel dead.”

“Connor and he worked on that together. Marco planned it, Connor executed it.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Gino sighed. “You knew this all along and you did nothing with it? You just sat on this information and covered for him? You even let Jensen go to prison.”

“Not exactly,” Camille clarified. “You can’t understand this, Gino, but when a mother loses a child, she never gets over it. I never got over the loss of my daughter and I never will. I tried to explain that to Marco repeatedly. I encouraged him to return Hope to Joyelle, because I knew how much she must be suffering. He refused to consider her feelings. That’s when I had to defy him.”

“You defied Marco?”

“Why do you think you found me where you did tonight? When I heard that Mateo and Joyelle broke off their engagement, I saw an opportunity to help both of them. I made arrangements to take Hope from Marco and give her to Mateo to return to Joyelle. That way, Joyelle would have her daughter back and Mateo might have a second chance with her.”

“Because he’d look like a hero…”

“Yes.”

“You still care about Mateo that much?”

“We’ve had our share of ups and downs, he and I -- and we both knew we’d never be a couple romantically -- but we remained friends all along. I want him to be happy -- and to rebuild his relationship with our son, Hugo.”

“I’m not sure that’s possible. Hugo still feels a lot of hostility for Mateo,” Gino said. “Marco must have found out what you did…”

“He’s the one who locked me in the coffin. If you hadn’t arrived when you did, well, I don’t want to think about that.”

“He’s gone crazy or something.”

“I actually gave him the idea.” Anticipating her nephew’s next question, Camille raised her hand to Gino and said, “Don’t ask.”

“It’s like he’s gone off the edge.”

“Gino, I’ll be honest with you. I think he really has. Ever since the two of you were born, I knew there were differences between you two, in spite of you being identical twins. You were always much more grounded, more sensible, and more compassionate. Marco was always more ruthless and Machiavellian. You were more like your mother. He was more like your father…and me. That’s why we worked so well together, especially in the business, because we understood each other and what needed to be done to build and maintain an empire.” Camille paused for a moment. “But lately? He’s like a different person. He’s full of hate, he’s reckless, he’s…uncaring.”

“When you are able to leave this hospital, you’re going back to Chicago with me and you’re going to tell Michael Martinez everything you just told me. Do you understand?”

Camille closed her eyes and nodded.

“One more thing,” Gino said, walking over to the counter and picking up the envelope of photos that had been delivered to him. He handed it to his aunt. “Do you think Marco is responsible for these?”

Camille carefully opened the envelope and then examined the photos within. “Justin and Aiden?”

“Those were delivered to me just as I boarded the jet in Chicago to come here.”

“I don’t need to tell you how devilish Aiden is. Justin is a fool for interacting with him.”

“Interacting? That’s one way to describe those photos,” Gino replied, rolling his eyes. “Do you think Marco had those taken and sent to me?”

“I really don’t know. He never mentioned anything like this to me -- and I’m not sure you were on his radar lately.”

“He let me live with the guilt of killing him all this time. I’ve been beating myself up about it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Where is he now?”

“I don’t know for sure, but given what he tried to do to me tonight, my guess is he’s on his way to Chicago to get Hope back.”

“You’re probably right…which means Joyelle is in grave danger.”


As Gino pondered his twin’s whereabouts, in the bedroom of an apartment in Chicago, Marco rolled his naked body on top of Joyelle. He kissed her passionately as she ran her long fingers down his muscular back. Reaching down, Marco fondled and probed between Joyelle’s legs, sending a rush of pleasure throughout her entire body.

Burying his face between her breasts, Marco fondled and caressed them as Joyelle squirmed beneath him. Removing his fingers from her crotch, he quickly moved his swollen cock into position. Moving his mouth to hers and kissing her passionately, Marco shoved himself into her.

“I want you,” Joyelle begged as Marco forced his rod deep inside of her. She kissed his neck and shoulders, wrapping her hands around his ass and holding each cheek with her fingers.

His hairy, heavy chest pressed against her, Marco continued his powerful rhythm of thrusts. Each plunge caused her to gasp, which only encouraged Marco more. He pushed harder and deeper, as if trying to remove any memory she had of previous lovers.

Marco pressed his forehead against hers and looked deep into her eyes as his hips continued their assault. He kissed her once more, then resumed staring into her eyes.

Joyelle worked her hands up his sweaty back and over his bulging biceps as she prepared for his release. The diamond ring on her finger sparkled as her hand explored his body.

“We are a family now,” Marco declared, his eyes still connected to hers.

“Yes,” she whispered.

Upon hearing that word, Marco made one final push and filled her with his seed. Burst after burst of cum filled her and Marco deliberately continued to pump to ensure every drop made its way into her.

He kissed her deeply as she lowered her legs, then rolled onto his back, allowing himself to slip from her. He wrapped his arm around her and held her close.

She rested her head on his chest and ran her hand over his nipple as she admired her new ring. “It’s so beautiful.”

“I’m glad you like it. My wife deserves nothing but the best.”


At the same time in New York City, Maria Martinez, the sister of Michael and Mateo, stood on her balcony looking out over the city’s dazzling skyline. The moon glowed brightly in the night sky high above the skyscrapers.

Suddenly, a large raven flew over her balcony, so close that she ducked to get out of its way. It screeched loudly, as if delivering a message to her. In an instant, it was gone.

Maria looked up and watched the bird disappear into the darkness. Looking down at her feet, she noticed a single black feather that had fallen from the bird.

She kneeled to pick it up and at the moment her fingers touched it, a cold chill ran through her entire body. She held the feather up to examine it more closely in the moonlight as a second feather floated to the ground beside her.

At that moment, she knew her brothers were in danger. Her eyes filled with tears and, eventually, one fell from her cheek onto the black feathers. Omens come in all shapes and sizes.

Episode #72


High above the Chicago skyline a black bird flew in the path of the moonlight. It circled over the city as if searching for the perfect landing spot. After it passed between the skyscrapers that define the city, it made its way north to Boystown. Beginning its descent, the raven seemed focused on the new youth center. In a smooth, almost elegant fashion, the bird landed on the rooftop ready to witness all that was occurring at the gala.

The crowded gala opening of the Ciancio Mancini Youth Center continued late into the evening while the plan to catch Cole Mancini’s kidnapper Rob Smythe quickly unraveled.

On the outdoor terrace of the third floor of the youth center, Mateo Martinez confronted Jack Kramer.

“I really don’t have time for this now, Mateo. Cole could be in danger.”

“Cole isn’t my priority at the moment, Joyelle is.”

“What are you talking about?”

“We were together earlier, she and I. We have rekindled our relationship and are back together now. There’s no room for you.”

“Get out of my way,” Jack said, trying to get around Mateo to go back inside the building.

“Stay away from her, Jack. She’s mine.”

“The hell she is,” Jack said, pushing Mateo out of his way.

Mateo stumbled, then regained his footing. He lunged at Jack, knocking him into the brick wall behind him. Before Jack could respond, Mateo punched him across the face and then in the stomach.

Jack fell to his knees, then jumped forward, grabbing Mateo’s legs and pulling him down. He hit Mateo in the head and in the gut, then put his hands around Mateo’s neck.

The two men continued to wrestle on the floor of the terrace, rolling over each other and knocking over plants and furniture.

Jack lifted Mateo up from the floor, pressing his back against the terrace railing. He hit Mateo hard in the chest and across the jaw, causing blood to spew from Mateo’s mouth.

Mateo kicked Jack in the stomach, pushing him back against the railing. He grabbed Jack’s wrists, twisting his arms behind his back.

The two men continued to struggle, each trying to get the upper hand. They both changed positions against the railing over and over as the fight ensued. Suddenly, one of the men pushed the other backwards, causing him to flip over the railing and fall off the building to the ground far below.

Mateo cried out as he fell from the terrace to the pavement; his voice was silenced upon impact.

Regaining his footing, Jack gripped the terrace railing and looked over it to the ground below.

“My God,” Jack said, witnessing the body of Mateo lying on the pavement.

Jack scrambled to pull his phone from his pocket and make a call. “This is Detective Kramer. I need an ambulance here at the new youth center in Boystown. There’s been an accident.”

His jaw bruising from where Mateo hit him, Jack ended the call, looked over the side of the terrace once more, and raced inside toward the stairs to assist Mateo as quickly as possible.


Upstairs, on the fourth floor of the youth center, Derek Mancini, Cole Mancini, and Michael Martinez stood near the railing of the atrium.

“Nothing?” Derek asked.

“I haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary,” Michael said. “I lost contact with Jack. His transmitter must have broken, but before he did, he said he was checking out a suspicious looking person. Other than that, we have no leads.”

“How could this not have worked?” Cole asked. “I thought for sure he’d be here.”

From the second floor, Keith Colgan started to climb the stairs up to the fourth floor in preparation of his surprise marriage proposal.

“Do you think someone may have tipped him off?” Derek asked.

“I don’t think--”

Before Michael could finish his sentence, the power went out. The entire building went dark.

“What the hell?” Derek asked as sounds of guests gasping and yelling out in surprise echoed throughout the atrium.

The man wearing a beret emerged from a doorway near Michael.

“Get Cole out of here!” Michael yelled to Derek, pushing them toward the emergency exit stairwell.

Lights flickered as the building’s emergency lighting came on.

While Cole and Derek rushed toward the emergency exit stairwell, the man with the beret pulled out his gun and pointed it at Cole.

“No!” Michael yelled, rushing toward the man. He wrapped his arms around the man from behind, pulling him down to the floor.

As the man struggled to get free from Michael, he fired his gun directly at Keith, who was arriving at the top of the stairs.

Michael yelled out in horror as Keith collapsed, falling backwards down the stairs.

The man hit Michael in the face with the butt of the gun and fled through the doorway to the emergency stairs after Derek and Cole.

Michael initially fell backwards but quickly regained his footing and raced toward the stairs in Keith's direction.

Keith’s bloody body tumbled backwards down the staircase, reaching the third-floor landing just as Jack was entering it.

Shocked, Jack knelt beside Keith’s motionless body. “Keith, Keith,” he said, checking for a pulse and examining the gunshot wound.

Michael sped down the stairs and joined Jack next to the body.

“What the hell happened?” Jack asked.

“The shooter,” Michael explained clumsily. “He tried to kill Cole, but I jumped on him and -- oh, my God -- Keith.” Michael ran his fingers through Keith’s hair.

Quickly, Jack tore open Keith’s shirt, revealing the bloody wound. Jack pulled off his own shirt, crumbled it into a ball, and pressed it against the wound to stop the bleeding.

“Was it Rob?” Jack asked.

“I’m not sure. Maybe in disguise,” Michael replied. He looked down at the man he loved. “Stormy...”

“There’s an ambulance already on the way,” Jack said. “I’ll stay with him until I get some backup. Go after Rob. Now!”

“He has to be okay…”

“Michael, go!”

After another brief pause, Michael headed back up the stairs to find Cole and Derek.

Jack pulled out his phone and made another call. “It’s Kramer again. I need another ambulance here at the youth center.”

When he ended the call, two other undercover officers ascended the stairs toward him.

“How can we help?” one officer asked him.

“Ambulances are on the way,” Jack told them. “Stay here with Keith until they arrive. Keep applying pressure. I need to check on Mateo outside.”

“Sure thing,” the officer replied, kneeling next to Keith to attend to him.

“I’ll be back,” Jack stated before heading down the stairs.


While Jack rushed outside, Jensen Stone sat in a small, private room that had been roped off from guests for Cole and him to rest and store their belongings. Seated in a chair, he looked through his backpack.

“Good evening, Jensen,” Franco Armani said, entering the room and locking the door behind him.

Jensen jumped up. “Franco! What are you doing here?”

Franco smiled. “Tonight is for your fans and I’m still one of your biggest.”

“You shouldn’t be here.”

“I won’t stay long. I just need to show you something.”

“What?”

“You and your friends think you’re very clever, don’t you? Using that video to try to bring me down.”

“You got what you deserve,” Jensen stated.

“I’m here to return the favor.” Franco walked closer to Jensen and pulled out his cell phone. “It must be so difficult to be in love with two people at once. Hugo and Ethan. They are both such sweet guys. Maybe they’re fools just being played by you.”

“I’m not playing them. They are great people who mean a lot to me.”

“That’s what I’m counting on. You see, I have a little video of my own to show you.” Franco opened an app on his phone and held it up so Jensen could see the screen. “Don’t you find it odd that neither Hugo nor Ethan is here tonight?”

“What have you done?”

“I haven’t done anything. God has. Take a look at this.” Franco held the phone closer to Jensen so he could see the screen better. “This is live streaming of Hugo’s present condition.”

On the screen, Jensen saw an image of Hugo lying unconscious on the floor near a fireplace. His hands and feet were bound.

“Even as we speak, Hugo is lying unconscious, somewhere in this big city, inhaling carbon monoxide. It’ll be a quiet, peaceful death for him. He doesn’t have much time left.”

Franco touched the screen on his phone and the image changed. This time, the screen showed an image of Ethan lying unconscious on the floor near a different fireplace. His hands and feet were bound, just like Hugo’s.

“And here lies Ethan in a completely different place somewhere in the city. He, too, is inhaling the deadly gas. Every second that passes brings him closer to meeting his maker.”

“You bastard! You can’t kill them, you can’t let them die.”

Franco smiled. “You know me. I’m a merciful, reasonable man. I’m not going to let them die, but you are.”

“Me?”

“Both of your lovers will be dead within the next twenty minutes, or less. I’m going to let you save one of them. I’m willing to give you the location of either Hugo or Ethan so that you can save whomever you love more. Unfortunately, the other one is going to die. The choice is yours, Jensen. Who do you love more? Who are you going to save? Hugo or Ethan?”

“I hate you.”

Franco laughed. “If you want to waste time throwing insults and calling names, that’s fine with me. But you’re only wasting what precious little time your boyfriends have left.”

“How the hell do you expect me to choose?”

“Poor Jensen doesn’t know what to do. I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn that I don’t feel sorry for you. You could have had it all if you had just stayed with me like we had agreed. But you and your friends thought you should mess with me instead. Now you’re paying the price for your bad decisions. Don’t worry…I know a priest who gives great eulogies.”

“I can’t believe they ever let you become a priest.”

“Who’s it going to be? Ethan or Hugo?” Franco reached into his pocket and pulled out Jensen’s phone. “Either way, you’re going to need this back.”

“You stole it,” Jensen declared, ripping his phone out of Franco’s hand.

“I needed it for my plan. Now you can have it back.”

“You really are insane.”

“Tick tock, tick tock. Who do you love more? I think I know your response, but maybe you’ll surprise me.”

Jensen looked down toward his wrist at the bracelet that Hugo had given to him earlier. He paused a moment before looking up at Franco and making his choice.

“Ethan. I choose to save Ethan.”

“Interesting choice. Maybe you’re not as predictable as I thought.”

“Just tell me where he is.”

Franco pressed a button on his phone. Seconds later, a text appeared on Jensen’s phone.

“That’s where you’ll find Ethan. You better hurry if you want to save him.”

Jensen leapt forward and punched Franco hard across the face, sending the cardinal flying backwards into the wall.

“That’s just the beginning of what I have in store you for you,” Jensen yelled. “Once I save Ethan, I’m coming after you.”

“Michael and Mateo will kill you when they find out you’re responsible for Hugo’s death!”

“Go to hell!”

Jensen turned and ran from the room, leaving Franco to nurse the bruise already swelling up on his face.


In an area at the side of the main floor, Patrick Provenzano and Emmett Mancini sat on a small sofa so that Emmett could have a moment of rest in the midst of the evening’s activities. Patrick held Emmett’s hand.

“Everything has been so wonderful tonight,” Patrick told Emmett. “You should be so proud of all you have accomplished with this place. No one will ever know the countless hours that you put in.”

Emmett put his head on Patrick’s shoulder and Patrick put his arm around him.

“When you think of all the Chicago youth this center is going to serve, that should give you the best feeling ever. God knows how many lives will be positively impacted as a direct result of your work.”

Emmett’s head slumped forward on Patrick’s shoulder and his grip on Patrick’s hand loosened.

“Emmett?” Patrick turned his head to look directly at Emmett, whose head fell into his lap as his hand fell to his side. “Emmett? Emmett?” Patrick’s eyes filled with tears as he tried to revive Emmett’s limp body. “No. No, God. Not yet. Emmett?” Patrick held Emmett’s body tightly. “Please not yet…”


At the bar to the side of the dance floor, Logan Pryce and Jesse Morgan each got a drink and then stepped to the side to talk while enjoying their cocktails.

“Can you believe all the fans who showed up to meet Cole?” Jesse asked. “It’s crazy. We would never have guessed he would be a celebrity when we were in school together.”

“People love him,” Logan replied. “He’s a good role model, too. People in America certainly idolize a lot of people who don’t deserve it. At least Cole does.”

“I’m excited for h-h-h-him.”

Dustin Alexander and Max Taylor walked over to Logan and Jesse, startling them.

“Hello,” Max said softly.

“Max! Dustin!”

“What the hell are you doing here?” Jesse asked angrily.

“That’s simple,” Max replied. “We came back for you.”

“For me?” Jesse asked. “What, your first attempt to kill me didn’t work so you returned for another shot?”

“That’s not fair,” Dustin declared.

“You stay out of this,” Jesse told Dustin. “This is between my father and me. It’s a family matter.”

“Dustin is part of my family now,” Max said.

“What are you talking about?” Logan asked.

“We’re married,” Dustin stated, smiling wildly.

Logan looked surprised. “Married?”

“Boy, you never s-s-s-stop, do you?” Jesse told his father. “It wasn’t enough to ruin Logan’s life and then mine. Now you need to ruin Dustin’s as well?”

“You’re not being fair, Jesse,” Dustin explained. “Your father has been through a lot while we were in Seattle. His therapy was intense and draining, but he’s dealt with his anger issues and is his old self again.”

“His ‘old self’ wasn’t that great to begin with.”

“I’m glad,” Logan admitted. “That’s good to hear.”

“So you returned to Chicago thinking all will be forgiven?” Jesse asked. “That’s like a dog returning to his biggest pile of shit.”

“Jesse, please,” Max said. “Let’s go somewhere and talk.”

Before Jesse could reply, Jensen rushed over to them.

“Guys! I need your help.”

“What’s the matter?” Logan asked.

“There’s no time to explain,” Jensen said, nearly out of breath. “Just listen to me. Ethan is in danger.” Jensen showed Logan his phone screen. “I need you to go to this address right away and make sure he’s okay.”

“That’s the Waldorf Astoria.”

“You know it? Great. I need you to get over there right away and check on Ethan.”

“What’s wrong with him?” Dustin asked.

“I can’t explain it all now. I have to check on Hugo. Please, just get over there.”

“Okay,” Logan agreed. He turned to Jesse. “Let’s go.”

“Call Michael or Jack on your way. Maybe they can help,” Jensen suggested as Jesse and Logan rushed toward the door.

“You said something’s wrong with Hugo,” Dustin said.

“Maybe,” Jensen stated. He looked down at the bracelet on his wrist. “Please, God, let him be wearing his.”

“What are you talking about?” Max inquired.

Jensen pressed a button on his phone. “Just follow me.”

Jensen led Max and Dustin toward the door of the center. As they were about to exit, Max turned and saw Patrick carrying Emmett.

“Oh, my God,” Max said, approaching Patrick. “What happened?”

“He collapsed,” Patrick explained, cradling Emmett in his big arms. “We need to get him to the hospital.”

“My car is right outside,” Dustin said. “We can drive you.”

“I have to go,” Jensen declared, leaving the building through the revolving door.

“Is he alive?” Max asked Patrick.

When Patrick didn’t respond, Max put his hands firmly on Patrick’s shoulders and repeated his question more firmly. “Is…he…alive?”

Patrick shrugged his shoulders from Max’s grip and looked him directly in the eyes. “We have to get him to the hospital immediately. Didn’t you hear me?”

“Come on,” Dustin said, distracting Max and leading the way to his car parked on the street outside.


As Dustin drove Max, Patrick, and Emmett to the hospital, Justin Mancini lay on the floor of the youth center room, his gut bleeding from the stab wound inflicted by his half-brother Aiden Carmichael.

Slowly regaining consciousness, Justin looked around the empty room from his position on the floor. He moved his hand to the wound, which was spewing blood onto the floor.

Letting out a loud groan, he leaned forward to look at his injury. His shirt was soaked with blood and he pressed his hand to the wound in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

“Somebody please help me!”

Justin’s pleas for assistance went unanswered so he attempted to seek help on his own. He painfully rolled over onto his side and gradually forced himself into an upright position.

Covering his knife wound with his hand and crouching over slightly, he stumbled to the door of the room. Slowly pushing the door open, he struggled through it and into the atrium of the center.

Taking small steps forward, Justin made his way to the main stairwell, leaving a trail of blood behind him.

“Somebody,” he called out. “Somebody, please help me.”

Seeing paramedics on the stairwell in front of him, Justin made his way over.

“Oh God,” one paramedic gasped upon seeing Justin stumbling toward him. He left Keith’s side and rushed over to Justin. “What happened?”

“I’ve been stabbed,” Justin declared, collapsing on the floor.

“It’s okay,” the paramedic said. “I’ve got you.”

As the man took hold of Justin, he passed out.

“Sir, sir,” the paramedic repeated, trying to wake Justin up. He turned around to call his coworkers, who were preparing to carry Keith outside to an ambulance. “Hey, I need some help over here.”


Outside the center, Jack hurried around the building to the sidewalk onto which Mateo had fallen. Flashing lights from several ambulances bounced off the youth center and nearby buildings as guests made their way out of the gala.

A small crowd gathered around one of the ambulances and Jack, holding up his badge, made his way through, encouraging the people to “step back” as he did. As the crowd parted for him, he saw two paramedics lifting a gurney into the back of the ambulance.

“Is that Dr. Martinez? Is that Mateo?”

When the paramedics didn’t answer, Jack identified himself.

“I’m Detective Jack Kramer. I’m the one who called you. Is Dr. Martinez okay?”

“He doesn’t look good,” was the response. “We need to get him to the hospital.”

“Jesus,” Jack sighed. “Okay, I’ll get over there as soon as I check on the shooting victim inside.”

The paramedic closed the rear doors of the ambulance and soon the vehicle was on its way to the hospital.


On the other side of the youth center, David Ciancio and Adam Miranda stood in the night air near the parking lot. Hand in hand, they faced each other and kissed.

“I just needed to get out of the crowd for a minute to have some alone time before Keith’s big proposal,” David said.

“You don’t have to explain. You can have as much alone time with me as you want.”

Toward the back of the parking lot, two caterers loaded a white van, which was running to keep the inside warm. They put some empty trays into the back of the van and closed the doors. The caterers went back inside the building to pick up more of their items.

Once the caterers were inside, Aiden walked out from behind the wall of the building. He jumped into the van and focused on Adam and David. He repositioned the van in their direction, then slammed on the accelerator.

The sound of the van screeching caught Adam and David’s attention. They both turned to look in the van’s direction as Aiden raced it toward them.

“Look out!” David yelled, desperately pushing Adam out of the way.

As Adam fell sideways to the ground, the van hit David, sending him into the air. His body slammed onto the hood of the van, then the windshield, then over the roof, splattering the white van with his blood. His body landed on the pavement as the van sped out of the parking lot and down the street.

Inside the van, Aiden turned to look behind him. He could see Adam kneeling next to David’s body, and quickly returned his focus to the road in front of him.

Crouching next to David, Adam went into shock. His body shook as he looked down at David, whose head, neck, and chest were bloody.

“No!” Adam cried out, his shaking hands gently touching David. “David! David!”

David remained unresponsive.

“Oh, my God, oh, my God,” Adam repeated as he clumsily pulled out his cell phone and dialed. “I need help! I need an ambulance at the new youth center.” Adam dropped his phone and gently cradled David’s head between his hands. “Please be okay, David. Please don’t leave me.”


As Adam let out a loud cry that traveled high into the air, Derek and Cole emerged on the roof of the youth center, which Adam had decorated in preparation for Keith’s marriage proposal. The night air was cold as the two men walked toward the edge of the roof.

“Are you okay?” Derek asked.

“I think I heard a gunshot. We should check on Michael.”

“No, we need to stay here like he said. Michael can take care of himself.”

The gray-haired woman stepped out from the shadows and walked toward Cole and Derek.

“We meet again,” she said in a deep, masculine voice and pointing a gun in their direction.

Derek stepped in front of Cole and faced the woman.

“Who are you?”

“Get out of the way, Derek. I’ve come for Cole,” the woman said, pulling off her gray wig to reveal her own brown hair.

“Rob?” Cole asked as he stepped out from behind his husband.

“Hello, love,” Rob replied, dropping the wig onto the ground. “Reunited at last.”

“The hell you are,” Derek stated.

The man with the beret emerged from the top of the stairwell and walked over toward Rob.

“You’re just in time, sis,” Rob told the man.

Cole looked at the man in the beret, saying, “Sis?”

The man pulled off his beret, revealing long, brown hair wrapped in a bun beneath it.

“This is my sister, Rita,” Rob said as the “man” removed his overcoat and dropped it onto the roof surface on top of the beret. “She has some news for you.”

“I want you to feel something,” Rita said, walking over to Cole. She stopped right in front of him. “Give me your hand.”

As Cole raised his hand toward Rita, Derek grabbed her forcefully, turned her around so her back was against him, and wrapped his arm tightly around her neck.

“What the hell are you doing?” Rob asked.

“Drop the gun!” Derek demanded. “Drop it or she dies.”

Rob laughed. “You wouldn’t kill a pregnant woman and her child, would you, Derek?”

“Drop the gun!”

“Especially not when the child she’s carrying is your husband’s.”

“What?” Cole asked

“Let go of me,” Rita pleaded.

“That’s right, love. That baby growing inside of her is your son.”

“Oh, my God,” Cole said as he recalled how Rob had collected his semen while he was held captive. “My son…”

“You’re insane,” Derek said.

“It’s the truth,” Rita explained. “I am carrying Cole’s son. He’s going to be a father.”

“Don’t listen to him,” Derek told Cole. “He’s crazy.”

“It’s Cole’s son,” Rita said again.

“Now let her go and no one needs to get hurt,” Rob said. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want Cole back.”

“He’s not yours. He’s mine.”

Rob cocked his gun. “No!”

His gun drawn, Michael suddenly rushed Rob from behind. “Drop it, Rob. Drop the gun.”

“Never,” Rob replied, turning in Michael’s direction.

Derek pushed Rita to the ground and ran toward Rob, who spun back toward Cole and Derek and fired his gun.

Cole yelled out as Derek’s bloody body fell onto the rooftop.

“No!” Michael screamed, firing two shots into Rob, whose body fell to the ground next to the other bloody body.

“Derek!” Cole cried as he rushed over to his husband.

“You killed him!” Rita yelled to Michael while she knelt next to her dead brother.

Michael pulled out his phone to call for an ambulance and back up as he watched Rita crying over her brother’s body.

“Murderer! Murderer!” she yelled, looking up at Michael. She jumped up and lunged at him. Pounding her fists into his chest, she yelled, “Killer! Killer! Killer!”

Michael grabbed her hands. “You’re under arrest….”

“Cole,” Derek whispered, blood emerging from his mouth.

“Don’t try to talk,” Cole pleaded. “Just hold on. Help will be here right away.”

“Cole…”

Cole’s eyes filled with tears as he held Derek’s bloody hand.

“I love you…”

“I love you, too, Derek. Everything’s going to be fine. You’re going to be fine.”

“You’re going…to have a son…” Derek tried to force a smile as he coughed up more blood. “Be the best…dad….”

Cole replied, trying to be strong and hold back the tears. “With you. We’re going to be fathers together.”

“I…love…” Derek passed out and his head rolled to the side.

“Derek, no!”

“The ambulance will be here quickly,” Michael assured Cole as he handcuffed Rita.

Cole looked up at Michael for some sign of reassurance that Derek would be okay, but none came.


At the same time, Ethan Anderson lay unconscious on the floor of the room at the hotel where Franco had left him to die.

Suddenly, the door to the room flew open. Jesse and Logan entered along with a hotel employee.

“There he is,” Logan said, rushing over to Ethan’s limp body near the fireplace. “Ethan!”

“Gas,” the hotel clerk stated as he hurried to the windows to open them.

“You better call an ambulance,” Jesse told the hotel employee, who pulled out his phone and did so. Jesse turned off the gas.

“Ethan,” Logan said again, checking the body for a pulse.

“Is he alive?” Jesse asked as he knelt beside Logan.

“I don’t know.”

“The ambulance is on the way,” the man announced from the doorway as cold, fresh air entered the room from the open windows.

“Let’s see if we can get h-h-h-h-him up and over to the window,” Jesse suggested.

Together, Jesse and Logan lifted Ethan from the floor as the hotel clerk awaited the arrival of the ambulance.


Across town, Jensen led two paramedics and a hotel clerk into the room where Franco had left Hugo Martinez to die. Upon bursting through the door, they found Hugo’s motionless body lying on the floor of the room near the gas fireplace.

“Dear God,” one paramedic announced, covering his mouth to avoid breathing in the gas.

“Hugo,” Jensen cried, hurrying over to the quarterback’s body. “Thank God he’s wearing his bracelet.”

“Open some windows,” the second paramedic told the clerk, who immediately did. “And turn off the gas.”

Kneeling next to Hugo, Jensen put his hand on the quarterback’s cheek. “Hugo, it’s me. I’m here.”

“Please stand back,” the paramedic requested as he began to check Hugo.

“Is he okay?”

“Please step aside,” the paramedic repeated to Jensen.

“You can’t let him die. Not after all we have been through together,” Jensen pleaded, his eyes flooding with tears.


The staff at St. Joseph Hospital was stretched to its limits with the number of patients arriving from the youth center gala. Doctors, nurses, and other staff members hurried from patient to patient in an attempt to save as many lives as possible.

In the emergency room waiting area, Dustin and Max sat while Logan paced back and forth along the windows.

“I remember a night not so long ago when I was the one pacing back and forth in here,” Max said. “When you fell down the stairs at Todd’s housewarming party.”

“Do you really need to bring that up now?” Logan asked, a bit disgusted.

Dustin put his hand on his husband’s leg. “He didn’t mean it like that.”

“Thank God he has you to be his translator now,” Logan added. “You’re going to be doing a lot of that.”

“I’m sorry,” Max added. “Sometimes I just can’t help myself.”

Logan stopped pacing and took a seat opposite Dustin and Max.

“Look,” Logan said, “once we find out how our friends are, we’re going to need to figure out a way for us all to get along, especially you and your son. Boystown is a small place and we’re bound to be stumbling over each other pretty often. Maybe Patrick can help Jesse and you learn to communicate better, more civilly at least.”

“His speech seems to be getting better,” Dustin said.

“He’s been working with a speech therapist ever since the…accident.”

“I’m glad it’s working. Once his speech returns to normal, maybe he can put what happened behind him for good,” Max suggested.

“I’m not sure you’re going to get off that easily,” Logan said, standing and resuming his pacing.

Moments later, Adam entered the room. He was visibly upset, not only crying but trembling as well.

“Adam,” Dustin said, rising from his seat and approaching him. “What happened? What’s the matter?”

“It’s David,” Adam replied meekly, tears streaming down his cheeks. “There was a hit and run.”

“What?” Max asked.

“A van…it came out of nowhere. David pushed me out of the way. He saved my life.”

Logan noticed how badly that Adam was trembling and helped get him to a chair.

“Stay here with him,” Logan told Max and Dustin. “I’m going to get him some water.”

As Logan turned around to leave, he nearly walked right into Dr. MacMahon who was entering the room to provide an update to the men.

“Excuse me,” Dr. MacMahon said, stepping to the side to avoid a collision with Logan.

“How’s David?” Adam asked, jumping out of his chair and hurrying over to the doctor.

“My staff is doing all they can. He’s in critical condition.”

“Oh God,” Adam cried as Dustin put his arm around him.

“I do have some good news,” Dr. MacMahon continued. “Ethan is going to be just fine. You got him here in time.”