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|�Have you seen Carlos?�
Randy Washington could hear the pain in Roger�s voice.
�No, man, I haven�t seen him all week,� the hunky personal trainer replied. �Not like him to miss a couple of days, much less a whole week.�
�I know,� he said. �I�ve been calling him all week, too, no answer. If you hear from him, ask him to call me, OK?�
* * *
That evening Roger stopped by Carlos� apartment at the Miraflores. He was surprised to find the door standing wide open and rushed in to find out what was going on.
�Hey,� his deep voice boomed, �what�s the deal here?�
A skinny Hispanic kid was running a vacuum cleaner over the carpet of an apartment totally devoid of Carlos� furniture or any other belongings. His back to Roger, the kid glanced over his shoulder, only to see Roger�s hulking form and the darkly angry expression on Roger�s brutally handsome face. The kid visibly quailed at the sight, stepped backwards, tripped on the vacuum cleaner, and fell flat on his ass.
�Ai yi yi, Mister!� the kid exclaimed as Roger helped him to his feet. �No need to scare a man to death, you know?�
At 5�7, the kid maybe weighed all of 120 lbs., less than half Roger�s size. Roger�s lips twitched as he noticed the tent growing in the kid�s khaki pants. �Not all of him�s skimpy,� he thought.
�So what�s the deal, kid?� Roger asked. �Where�s Carlos?�
The kid shook his head.
�Mister Carlos has left, man,� the kid answered. �He told me he was getting out of town but he didn�t say where. You could ask Yolanda in the front office, she would know.�
�Did he say �why� he was leaving?�
The kid blushed.
�Mister Carlos, he said it was �boyfriend� trouble. I didn�t even know he was gay, ya know?�
Roger�s blush was back but it wasn�t his usual happy, embarrassed blush.
�He said �boyfriend,� huh? I wish��
The kid�s eyes got wide.
�Hey, man, you are Mister Carlos� boyfriend? Jeez, I shoulda known � you�re even bigger than he is.�
It took Roger a minute to answer.
�Yeah, I guess that�s me,� Roger agreed, his voice hoarse. �Or �was,� I guess. And I didn�t even know it.�
The kid put his hand on Roger�s massive arm.
�Don�t you worry, Mister,� the kid said. �Boyfriends come, they go. Me, I�ve had a hundred, and I�m only 22. You are a big, beautiful man. It will all work out.�
Roger cleared his throat � and smiled.
�You got a good attitude, kid,� he said, the smile finally reaching his eyes. �What�s your name?�
The kid grinned shyly, then straightened his shoulders and stuck out his hand.
�I�m Ricky, Mister, nice to meet you.�
Roger took Ricky�s slender hand in his callused paw.
�Ricky, it�s a pleasure to meet you, too. And it�s Roger, not �Mister,� OK?�
Ricky gave himself a little shake, as if he was coming out of a trance, then looked around the room at the unfinished business. Roger realized it was time to go..
�Well, I better let you get back to work. Look, if you happen to see Carlos again, would please let me know?�
Roger handed the kid a card with his phone number and e-mail address.
�Sure thing, Mi, uh, Roger,� Ricky said. �Oh, and, Mi, uh, Roger, one more thing, OK? Do you work out at Mister Carlos� gym?�
�Hey, man, that�s cool. I was thinking about joining one and Mister Carlos� was going to show me around. Maybe you could do it instead?�
�Sure, kid,� Roger said. �Just let me know when you want to do it. You�ve got my number.�
�In more ways than one,� he thought.
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