The doctor blinked back tears “I’m sorry ... your son didn’t make it.”
“No!” the doctor caught her as she fainted.
3 years earlier
Amy twirled the sparse hair on Danny’s chest as they cuddled. “What are your plans for the future?”
Danny kissed her hair “That depends on whether I’m with you or with you.”
“What’s that mean?”
“Before we met, I decided to stay single. I couldn’t think of a way to get your attention and I’ve never wanted anybody else.”
“That could change,” Amy said.
“No. Oh, I’ve seen lots of girls I wouldn’t mind fucking, but I don’t want them. All I have room in my life for is Mom, you, my art, and our kids if and when we have them.”
“Getting ahead of ourselves aren’t we.”
“No, I was explaining my plans for the future. In one we’re happily married, raising kids and I’m a famous artist and you’re running your companies. In the other, I’m single with the occasional mistress. I’m still a famous artist. When I can no longer hold a brush or I read your obituary, I do a Hemingway.”
“You wouldn’t!” Amy gasped.
“There’s no reason not to.”
Amy sat up. “What!”
“I decided a couple of years ago after seeing a Ninja dedication prayer on TV.” Danny closed his eyes and quoted with solemn dignity: “I pray for success in this adventure to which I now swear service. I will not be captured nor reveal my identity. It will be done or I will not return alive. Sealed with my honor.”
“Honey, you can’t base your life on TV,” Amy said.
“I’ve never had anyone teach me how to be a man. I’ve had to teach myself.” Danny snarled. “I’m not stupid. I spent four months reading Japanese philosophy. It’s quite beautiful. I learned the value of discipline, purpose, and, commitment.”
“Danny, I’m sorry for calling you stupid. I don’t understand why you think killing yourself is ok.”
He held his arm up and she snuggled back in. He kissed her. “I accept that tonight might be the only time we’ll ever be lovers. If that is true, then all I’ll have is what I have here.” He touched his heart “and the hope that one day we can be together. The day you die I no longer have hope. It means the altar of love I built through my paintings becomes a torture chamber. I won’t live without my muse.”
Amy caressed his face “Baby?”
“I remember the first time I saw your picture. I was nine. Boys had been picking on me. I was crying as I walked home. I went past a house where a boy was playing with his dad. I ran away because I knew I was never going to play with my daddy again. When I turned the corner of our street, Momma’s car was at the house. I have a rule to never let her see me cry so I went into the woods.”
“When I calmed down, I went home and looked for something to draw. I found a picture of a pretty woman on the beach. Her eyes were so bright and kind.” He grazed her face with his fingertips. “I could see the sadness in them and that she made faces too, so people couldn’t see inside. I knew we could be friends.”
Danny traced her lips “I still have that drawing. I poured out my heart to you as I worked on your paintings and soaked you up as I studied your photos.”
“Sacred Sinn is a character I play.”
“I know. I have to admit you threw me for a loop when I walked in. Wow, that was hot!”
“Even though we’ve only known each other a few months,” He took her hand and placed it over his heart “you’ve been here for five years” He wrapped his arms around her. “I want you here, forever.”
Amy sighed and snuggled in.
“What’s that shit-eating grin for?” Tiffany asked as she entered the foyer.
Danny held up his cell phone.
She smiled, “Congrats, come into the dining room with me.” She sat a bag on the table. “Have a seat.” She pulled out: four beers, two cigars, an ashtray, and a lighter before sitting.”
“What’s this?” Danny asked.
“We have some celebrating to do.” She popped open a beer and took a sip. “Go ahead.” Danny grabbed one. “I’m sorry there’s no man here for you to celebrate losing your virginity with. After your dad died, I ... just couldn’t. I’m ready to start dating again.”
Danny sipped his beer. “That’s OK.”
“I’m proud of you. Amy told me you put her needs first. So how’s it feel to be a man?”
He winked at her. “I was a man before I slept with her or she wouldn’t have done it.”
His mother laughed “Touche. How was it?”
Danny got a faraway look in his eyes and fell silent. Amy drank almost half a beer before he spoke. “If I described it’s meaning to me with a thousand words and each word had a thousand shades of meaning I will have only scratched its surface and misled you.”
“You are fourteen, right?”
“If it had been anyone but her I would say it was an interesting use of friction.”
Tiffany spewed beer across the table laughing. “Gawd! I can’t believe you said that. Get me a rag.” She was still chuckling as she cleaned the mess. “You always surprise me.” She sat back down. “So who have you got your eyes on next?”
“That might not happen.”
“What then?” Tiffany asked
“Well, I know this mom and her five daughters.”
“Hey, I want grandbabies.”
“Then you better help me get Amy to go along with the program.”
His mother smirked “I don’t know. You seem to be doing pretty well. You convinced a thirty-four-year-old woman to take you to bed and date you when you turn eighteen. That’s pretty remarkable.”
“I know, I’ve got three and a half years to get ready.” His eyes widened and his jaw dropped “I’ve only got three and a half years to get ready. SHIT! I don’t know how to pay bills, dance, run a business or anything. What if somebody mugs us? I don’t know how to fight. Fuck, fuck, fuck. What if somebody broke in here? Oh god, how could I have missed that? I failed.” His face clouded as he jumped to his feet.
“Danny STOP! Calm down, You haven’t failed at anything. We’ve got plenty of time to get you ready. I’ll help you. I can teach you to dance and handle money. We’ll find teachers for what I don’t know. Sit.”
He dropped into his chair. “I’m sorry. I just realized how stupid I am.”
His mother smiled “You’re not stupid. You lack knowledge and experience, both of which are easily fixed. Now, drink your beer. We’ll sort this other stuff out later. Did you like her dress?”
“Oh god, Yes!”
“So?” She bumped shoulders with him. “Dish.”
He shook his head “A gentleman and all that.”
Tiffany hugged him “I’m so proud of you and you’re no fun at all.”
Danny whispered in her ear “I did learn a new way of writing.” then touched his tongue to her ear. “Did you brush up on your spelling?”
His mom blushed and laughed “You are so evil.”
“I’ll also say that I have enough material for probably twenty more paintings.”
“Are you going to let me see your studio?”
A pained expression crossed Danny’s face. “I ... uh ... Mmm.”
She kissed his cheek. “I won’t push you. I’d like to see more of your paintings, please.”
“James Silo told me to give you this, sir.” Danny said.
Russell Martin pulled a moleskin notebook out of his pocket. He compared numbers on the card to the ones in the notebook. He marked through a line in the notebook, stuffed the card in it and pocketed it. “You have three minutes, talk.”
“I would like you to train me to fight, sir. Mr. Silo said you would be the best teacher for me.”
“Tell me why I should teach you.”
“I have someone to protect and before long I’ll have someone else. I don’t know how to fight and I need to learn.”
“You got some bitch knocked up?”
“I promised my dad before he died, I’d take care of my mom and I’ve met the woman I plan to marry. I realized a few days ago how helpless I am.”
“I can’t help you, son. I don’t train fighters. I take men and turn them into animals who would rather kill than fuck. Most of them lead unhappy lives and few of them stay married to the same woman. Hell, I’ve married four times myself. Go find yourself a good karate school and call it done.” Mr. Martin stood.
“Mr. Silo said I was to say Tommy Stafford if you refused.”
The man paled and sat. He fished in his pocket and pulled out a flask. He drained it in one pull. Russell stared at Danny a long time. “I don’t know what game he’s playing, but if he wants you to train then you’ll train.”
The older man leaned forward, elbows on his knees, his nose almost touching Danny’s. Danny shivered under the intensity of the man’s gaze. “Understand this, If you ever use what I teach you except in self-defense I will kill you. Start one fight, beat one woman. Drunk or sober, doesn’t matter, I’ll kill you. Got it?”
“Y ... yes, sir,” Danny stammered.
Mr. Martin sat back. “Your ass is mine seven hours a week. Three for training and four to work to pay for that training. I expect you to work out six days a week, starting tomorrow. Be here tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. You won’t like what happens if you’re here at 5:01. You know where the door is.” He left the room.
Danny stared at the empty chair “Damn.”
“How’s Spain?” Tiffany asked.
“Beautiful as always. We’ll wrap in a week or so. How’s everything there?”
“Danny’s been possessed since you left. I’m teaching him household finance and baking. He’s attending art school, martial arts, and college classes on business management.”
“What?” Amy said.
“He said he only has a little over three years to get ready and doesn’t have a second to waste.”
Amy’s voice trembled “He knows I’m still making porn, right?”
“He knows it in his head. I’m not sure about his heart.” Tiff sighed. “It’s something he’ll have to deal with. You promised him a chance when he turned eighteen, that’s it.”
“I know ... I love him. I don’t want to lose him.”
“You promised not to tell him until he’s eighteen. I know it’s hard, but he needs the chance to grow up. If making movies are a problem, then you have some choices to make. He’s working his ass off to mold himself into the man he believes you deserve. You might start talking about retiring. That way, if you decide to quit, he won’t connect it to himself.”
“OK. When did you become the big sister?”
Tiffany laughed. “I know, right? I grounded Danny last week. You won’t believe what the little shit did.”
“Rick from sales asked me out. When he picked me up I invited him in. We’re sitting in the dining room talking. Danny pulls a .45 and takes it apart and puts it back together. He’s staring at Rick as he does it and says “You know that’s my mother? It would upset me if she was mistreated.”
“He didn’t!” Amy shrieked. “Where did he get a gun?”
“From that martial arts school of his, the instructor let him sign out a trainer.”
“What did Rick do?”
“He laughed, rolled up his sleeve and showed Danny a tattoo. “I’m Force Recon. Your mother is exactly as safe as she wants to be.”
“What happened then?” Amy asked.
“Danny said “That’s all I want.” then I sent him to his room. I tried to apologize. Rick laughed it off.”
“Did Rick get lucky?”
“Did he ever...”
2 years earlier
“This sounds silly, but I’m about to pull my hair out. Is Danny gay?”
Tiffany laughed. “No. Why would you think that, Jaime?”
“I can’t get his attention. I’ve been trying for three months. He just won’t get a clue. It doesn’t make sense.”
Tiffany smirked. “Danny’s focused on his future. He knows what he’s looking for and he would never disrespect you.”
“Huh?” Jaime said.
“Let me ask you this, how would you feel if you and Danny dated for a few months and he dropped you cold for another girl? No warning, he walks away.”
“I’d be pissed.”
“You’d have every right. I’d be pissed at him for doing it to you. He knows what he wants in a girl and until he sees it he won’t move. Danny doesn’t play games with peoples feelings. All he wants is to be friends. If you push him he’ll shut you out.”
“I don’t like that answer,” Jaime said.
“If you want to be in Danny’s life I suggest you listen. If you don’t, he’ll freeze you out.”
Tiffany sat back. “I’ll tell you what, Danny always showers when he gets home. If you want, I’ll let you offer to shower with him and let you do it if he agrees. If Danny says no, you drop it, OK?”
Jaime’s eyes popped wide “Really?”
Jaime almost jumped when He came in the room. “Hi, Jaime. Mom, I’m going to shower.” Danny said as he turned away.
“D ... danny may I shower with you?” Jaime whispered.
Danny froze then turned towards Jaime. He stared into her eyes a long moment then went to her and pulled her to her feet. In a gentle tone, he said: “We’re not going to have that kind of relationship, but If you like I would like a hug now.”
Jaime grabbed him in a fierce hug and bawled.
Danny wrapped her up and stroked her hair as he whispered to her.
After Jaime left, Tiffany hugged Danny. “I’m so proud of the way you handled that. Now, go get your shower.”
Tiffany went to her room and locked the door, grabbing her laptop she skyped Amy. “Hey, are you by yourself?”
“Yeah, I’m just sitting in my condo.”
“Great! Let me tell you what Danny did, but first, go get Charlie. I’ve got Fred here.” She held up a large dildo.
“Wait a sec, I’ll be right back.” Amy vanished from the screen.
As Danny was studying in his room his mother’s scream blasted through the wall. “OH, MY GOD!”
“MY VIRGIN EARS!” Danny screamed back.
“Shaddup.” Was the only response.
A few months later
Amy sat next to Danny on the couch. “What’s this I hear about you refusing to show your paintings of me at your show?”
He bit his lip “They’re intimate.”
“They’re beautiful.” She countered.
“I don’t want to make money off of you or my feelings for you.”
She tapped his knee. “You know people pay me to fuck on camera, right?”
“I make more than a lot of actresses. People pay to watch me do gangbangs and threesomes. It’s all about the physical.” Amy stared at her hands and whispered: “Are you ashamed of me?” She risked a look at him. “I ... I want others to see me the way you do.”
“I couldn’t feel shame for you if I tried.” He took her hand then dropped it. “I’m sorry.” He stammered.
She took his hand “It’s OK. We can hold hands for a while.”
Danny tightened his grip. “If it’s what you want we can go down to my studio and pick out a mini-exhibit. I don’t want to ever show Ecstasy of Belonging that one stays private.OK?”
“The one that shows my O face?”
“No. The one that shows the O face you had when you became mine.” Danny leaned over and yelled. “MOM, I’M GONNA KISS AMY.”
“YOU HAVE FORTY-FIVE SECONDS, GO!”
Danny soul kissed her.
“TIME!” Tiffany yelled.
“WE”RE GOING DOWN TO THE STUDIO,” Danny yelled.
“NOT FOR FIVE MINUTES, YOU”RE NOT, YOU ANIMALS!”
“SHADDUP!” Amy and David yelled together laughing.
While they waited, Danny said, “I had an idea. Since you keep your real name under wraps, why don’t we call your exhibit “The Beauty of Sinn?”
Amy blushed “Thank you. How many paintings can I pick?”
“We’ll do three of the portraits and twelve of the smaller. Mrs. Fuller will have final say on which if any are actually displayed. I’m sure at least one portrait and two or three of the others will meet with her approval. Do you want to come?”
“Sorry, son of mine, you have a few years yet,” Tiff said as she sat on the love chair.
“Spoilsport,” Danny said, sticking his tongue out at her.
“There’s also the fact that I’m nude in most of your paintings. If I showed up on your arm. They might start asking questions. Questions which could get your mom and me in trouble.”
“Oh shit, I didn’t realize,” Danny said.
“Yep, which is why you get to wait a few more years. You’ve still got some growing to do.” Tiffany said. “Now, kiss Amy’s cheek and say “I’m sorry for being an idiot.”.”
Danny did so.
After the gallery show, Danny burst into the house and grabbed Amy spinning her. “We did it! All your paintings sold! Three magazines interviewed me.” He kissed her.
Amy squeezed him. “I’m so proud of you.”
Danny picked her up. He sat on the couch with Amy on his lap.
Tiffany pointed “No. Danny, could I speak to you in the kitchen, please.”
She closed the door and faced him. “You’re pushing it. You are putting me in a position with one of my oldest friends and I’m not going to have it.” She hugged him. “You’ve been doing so well don’t blow it. I don’t mind a little Kissy face and hand holding. Every century or so, I’ll even disappear for a night so you can be together.” Tiffany looked at Danny with tear filled eyes. “You need the next two years to grow. Please, don’t make me choose the welfare of my son over my best friend,” her chin trembled “because I will.”
Danny pulled her closer “I’m so sorry I hurt you. You’ll never have to choose. I promise.”
“I want what’s best for you.” She whispered.
“I know. I’ll do better.” He kissed her forehead.
Tiffany broke the hug. “We better get back in there before Amy thinks we’re mad at her.”
Danny went to Amy and caressed her face. “I need to go think.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Why are you crying?”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. I did. I pushed the boundaries so far that mom was afraid she would hurt your friendship by pushing back. Promise me you’ll be here in the morning.”
“Of course, Where’s your mom?”
“In the kitchen.” He bent to kiss her. She turned her cheek to him.
“You’ve had enough kisses today. I’m going to check on your mom.”
“You’re leaving tomorrow.”
Amy nodded. “I have to be back on set soon.”
Danny hugged her “I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you.”
“Come to the dining room with me? I want to talk with you about something important. Mom knows.”
Danny put an artist portfolio on the table. “While I was thinking about my attitude last week, I did an exercise called recapitulation.”
“What?” Amy asked.
“Don’t worry about it. What matters is that I came away with two memories and an idea. You told me that you want others to see you the way I do. Look, this is how I saw you as a little boy.” He opened the portfolio.
“The only thing here is my eyes. You sketched everything else.”
“It’s the only place you were real. There was sadness, love and the desire for love.” He turned the page. “Here’s one I drew a few days later.”
Danny nodded. “My magical friend who loved me and was always on my side. Who whispered in my ear when I was sad.” He tapped the drawing. “This is the one I want to talk about. Our money from the sale came in. After graduation, I’m opening a gallery. I want Haught Gallery to sponsor and partner with you to create The Amy Lynn Faerie Foundation.”
Danny turned a page. “We’ll create a line of children’s books featuring Amy the faerie who will encourage and teach them. You’ll do the writing and I’ll do the art.” He turned another page. “We’ll have little Faerie houses made by artisans for people to buy. All the profits go to help children. Eventually, I want Amy the faerie dolls to give children in hospitals and shelters. Well?”
Amy stared at Danny as fat tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Amy? ... Amy? ... MOM!”
Tiffany walked in and kissed Danny on top of the head. “She’s fine. Give her a moment, then kiss her. I’m going to Steve’s for the night. Enjoy.” She hugged him. “I’m proud of you.”
One year earlier
“I’m Russell Martin.”
“Danny’s Karate teacher.”
“Yes, Ma’am. I need to discuss something with you. May I come in?”
“Is there a problem?”
They went to the living room and grabbed seats. Russell said “You have a misunderstanding about who I am and what I do. I worked for the government. My specialty was taking men and turning them into killing machines.”
“What’s this got to do with Danny?”
“After I retired, I built a farm down the road for people like me. Where we could hang out, drink a few beers, shoot a few rounds in a place where we’re safe. One day, Danny shows up and hands me one of my markers.”
“Marker?” Tiffany asked.
“An I.O.U. That particular marker was given to a man who had kept me from bleeding to death during a firefight. Your son asked me to train him. When I asked why, he said he had to protect his mother and his woman. I told him to go find a Karate school.” Martin paled. “I know that I don’t look like it. I’m a licensed psychologist. The man who gave Danny the marker gave him a name to give me if I refused.”
“I’m sorry. Sgt.Tommy Stafford. I missed something in his profile when I admitted him to the program. He lost it during a training exercise and killed four men. He had a wife and two kids. Three other women became widows and two other children lost their fathers because I made a mistake. I was being told I was missing something.”
“My son’s not crazy!” Tiffany snapped.
“I’m not saying he is. Listen to what happened the other morning. We had finished working out. Danny pulled off his shirt to wipe his face. One of the guys saw the scratches on his shoulders and said “Danny, who’s the whore?”
Tiffany’s mouth dropped. “He didn’t.”
Russell nodded. “Danny spun reaching for his sheath knife. I kicked him in the head and pulled my pistol on him.”
“He knows the rules. I banned the other guy for a month and kept Danny on the ground until the guy left. I made Danny run an extra five miles with a forty pound pack.”
“WHERE IN THE HELL DO YOU GET OFF PULLING A GUN ON MY SON!”
“Would you have preferred I let him die?”
“What?” Tiffany shrieked.
“Danny is the only person allowed on my property who is not a professional killer. If he had pulled that knife he would have died. The problem is he knows that and didn’t hesitate. Think ... Right now, you’re angry, yet you’re not attacking. Why?”
“You could hurt me.”
Martin nodded. “True. With Danny, it’s deeper than that. He knows he can be hurt. He didn’t care. I get the idea he lives on two levels. The level we see he’s disciplined, fun, optimistic, helpful, and strong. I’ve worked with him about two years and he’s a master of deflection.”
“What’s that?” Tiffany said.
“Whenever you get close to something he doesn’t want you to see he turns your attention. He tells a joke or story, anything to get you away from what he’s hiding. He’s intentionally earned punishments to avoid discussions.”
“Extra PT, runs, things like that. Anything to keep his secrets.”
“He doesn’t hide things from me,” Tiffany said.
“How long has his father been dead?”
“In nine years, how many times have you seen him cry?”
“Up until about two years ago, almost never. Not very much since.”
“Doesn’t that strike you as odd that an eight-year-old-child doesn’t cry after getting beat up?”
“He never got beat up.”
“He’s told me about two or three fights he lost in grade school,” Russell said.
“Damn, that is weird. Why wouldn’t he tell me?”
“About two years ago, is when I guess he met his woman.”
Tiff shifted on the couch.
Martin waved a hand. “I’m not prying. I’m examining the dynamic. I want to help the boy. I think he’s felt he’s had to keep his deepest feelings hidden. Now, he’s learned that he can let them out. He doesn’t know how to filter them. When something touches his core it gushes out. When Alex insulted his woman he acted, not a thought to it.” He rubbed his face. “We have to do something, Mrs. Haught before Danny ends up in jail. Somebody says or does something to that girl there’s going to be bloodshed.”
“What do you recommend, Mr. Martin?”
“I suggest therapy. I get the idea from your body language that there are some issues that are better left undiscussed.” He waved his hand. “Again, I’m not prying. I’m a retired spook. I get it. How about this, I have a buddy, that owes me a marker. He’s a shrink who had his license jerked, but he’s still solid. I’ll tell Danny that he’ll work with him that way no records, no names. My friend may want to meet with you.”
“Thank you. Why are you doing this?”
Martin smiled as he stood up. “Your son is a good kid and you have awesome cleavage.”
“Pervert.” Tiffany laughed.
“Mrs. Haught, I want you to know that he’s not getting the same training the others got. It’s more than he’d get in a Karate school. I’ve disciplined him and strengthened his body. I’ve never touched his mind.”
“Thank you for telling me that.”