Todd hit town at the height of the rush hour and took MARTA to Lennox Square, then a cab to his apartment building. He let himself in his apartment and took his bag directly into his bedroom. He could hear the newscaster delivering the local news as he made his way to the den. Gil was settled on the leather sofa in front of the TV console.
"Hi, Gil, how are things?"
Gil jumped up and walked over and hugged him. "God, it's good to see you again; it's been a long time. Sit down and let me look at you."
Todd sat in one of the club chairs facing Gil. "Why does Janet want to see me?" Todd asked
Gil's mood became serious, "Janet is dying of cancer and she has insisted on seeing you before the disease took control of her brain."
Todd let out a sigh, "Gil, why didn't you let me know sooner? You know I would have dropped everything and come home."
"I wanted to call you so many times, but Janet refused to let me take you away from your job. We kept hoping you would be back in town for a visit."
"How long does she have?"
"Two months, maybe a bit longer."
"Oh my God, what a shame. Would you mind if we have an early dinner? I missed lunch today and I'm starved. After you called last night I fell asleep fully clothed and didn't hear a thing until the office called and woke me up this morning. How about LaGrotto restaurant for dinner tonight?"
"Great, give me a minute to put on my tie and jacket," Gil said.
The owner of LaGrotto made a big fuss over Todd and sat them in a secluded section of the dining room.
"How are the boys taking this?" Todd asked.
"Better than I expected, we're all in counseling right now. I find that it helps."
"You look great," Todd said. "Are you still working out every week?"
"Yes, nothing has changed," Gil said. "You've no idea how many times I wanted to call you; I've missed you."
"If you missed me so damn much, why didn't you pick up the telephone and call? I would have sent you the airline ticket."
"You know the reason; you made that very clear when you left. Anyway, I didn't want to complicate things between you and Ted."
Todd said, "Did you ever hear of the expression, 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder?' Well, you know, it does. It seems my noble effort to purge you from my heart hasn't worked. If anything, it's made it worse."
"You look exhausted," Gil said. "Can't you take a few days off?"
"I've done better than that; I'm taking the next three months off, maybe even more. Steve and Jarv can handle my accounts for the present. I'll have to go back to do the dog-and-pony show to wrap up the Cadillac account, but that's it. I'm turning those accounts over to Steve. I plan to promote him to VP. I've made a lot of money on this account, Gil. Yours truly has earned his salary for the next twenty years on this job. It may have cost me two years of my life, but it was worth it."
Todd stared into Gil's eyes as he sipped his wine. Gil did not look away this time. "You haven't changed, you are still the most attractive and sexy man I know and I'm still crazy about you. Not a day goes by that I don't think about you, or wonder what you're up to. I know I promised never to mention this, but nothing has changed... oh well, enough of that."
"You are still my best friend, and a great guy, Todd. Where is it written that we always get what we want out of life? Can't we just remain as friends? I'd like to go back to the way things were before you left. I know I'm being selfish in asking you this, but would you please help me through this stressful time with Janet? You're the only one I feel I can talk to, I need you now, more than ever before. What do you say, Tiger?"
Todd smiled, "You know I can't refuse you anything, particularly when it concerns Janet. Did you know that in most European countries, it's macho to kiss a man on each cheek. How do you feel about that?"
"Maybe on our next trip to Europe," Gil said. "I would consider an occasional pat on the back, or even an occasional hug is fine; that's the sort of thing guys do."
"Did you talk to your doctor about your sleeping disorder?" Gil asked.
Todd laughed, "Yes, Dad; the specialist has prescribed something to ward off any serious problems. I'm to take the pills when I'm not getting enough sleep. I hate taking the medication because it does have some unpleasant side effects. My condition can be controlled if I get my normal seven hours of sleep a night. This problem only occurs when I push myself over a period of days. If I don't get the proper sleep, my brain shuts down and I fall asleep. That's one of the reason I have special safety alarms installed in the apartment and at The Moorings. When I fall asleep and I'm not on the medication I'll sleep seven hours straight through and usually nothing will awaken me. Now you know my little secret."
"How are things going at the DA's office these days? Have you hung anyone since I left?"
Gil chuckled, "Same old Todd. How many times do I have to tell you, we live in the civilized town of Cranstonville? We don't have the drug problems or murders like you're used to in New York."
Todd chuckled, "That's good to know. I'm so glad I decided to move to Cranstonville, where I know I'll be safe. I'm thinking about inviting Ralph Reed and Bob Bell to my next party. I think they would feel very safe there in our little town."
"What do you hear from George these days?" Gil asked.
"So far so good; we did dinner two weeks ago and he is doing fine and he looks great. He has stuck to his side of the bargain. The therapy is working and he is sticking to one guy to satisfy his sexual needs for the present. He is bisexual and will never give up his sexual desire for men. However, if he keeps everything in perspective he will be okay. He wants for us to get back together again. This time he promises that things will be better. I'm really happy that he is doing well. I feel my money is being well spent; maybe if I had done this for George earlier in our relationship, things would have turned out differently."
They finished their dinner and returned to the penthouse. They both changed into lounging suits and returned to the den. Todd poured them each a brandy.
"You haven't said one word about Ted, or is he off limits?"
"Nothing is off limits to you. Thank God, I took your advice and did not move in with him. I'm sorry I got involved with him. He turned out to be a real pain in the ass. He's insanely jealous of me and kept pressuring me to move in with him. I've given up repeating the same thing over and over again. He doesn't know it yet, but our lunch yesterday was the last time I plan to see him, I'm finished with him. Ted is part of the reason I look the way I do. He threatened to sabotage the contract if I did not sleep with him. The last two months have been pure hell."
"The big bosses at GM have signed off on the project so his threats are meaningless. There is nothing he can do to derail the project now. Of course that won't stop him from calling, or sending flowers and expensive gifts. It's been quite a balancing act, believe me. Ted made me realize how pathetic a one-sided love affair can become. That's why I'll never act that way with you. I promise I'll be a straight arrow and suffer in silence. Well, so much for my adventures with Ted."
"There's nothing on regular TV worth watching, how about watching another of my all time favorite movies?" Todd asked.
"Sure, which one do you want to sleep through tonight?"
"Ha, ha. How about watching Doing Time on Maple Drive? It always makes me cry every time I see it, so promise me you won't laugh."
Gil smiled, "You know I would never do that."
Todd smiled, "I guess not; I thought I'd warn you in advance. If I fall asleep, which is likely, just throw a blanket over me and turn the lights off. I've fallen asleep on this sofa more times than I care to remember."
They both sat on the sofa and began watching the movie.
Gil was glad Todd suggested the movie, as he needed time to think. He knew the brandy would put Todd to sleep within thirty minutes. Gil watched the screen, yet his mind was not on the movie. He turned to Todd and saw that he had fallen asleep. Gil was concerned about Todd, as he did not look at all well. The dark circles under his eyes and his drawn look gave the image of a man who was drained mentally and physically. His effort to cover up his fatigue did not work. Todd could end up the richest man in the cemetery it he continued with this hectic pace.
Gil picked up the remote and turned the TV off. He grabbed one of the small pillows and placed it on his lap. He laid Todd down on the sofa and rested his head on the pillow on his lap. He ran his fingers through Todd's soft curly hair, something he had wanted to do for some time. He unzipped Todd's jump suit and rubbed his chest. He could feel the firm muscles under the smooth silken skin.
Seeing him again, after six months made him catch his breath. Gil realized that his feelings for Todd went way beyond friendship. He felt a deep loss when Todd left six months ago. The close relationship they shared meant more to Gil than he realized. He knew, from the minute Todd walked back into his life today that he was sexually attracted to him and he wanted to make love to him.
Gil could smell the clean fresh scent of Todd's body. He bent forward and kissed him tenderly on the lips. He could feel that warm sensation radiating throughout his whole body. Now he knew what Todd meant when he told him how it felt being in love with another person. He tried to wake Todd, but knew that was impossible once he had fallen into a deep sleep. He was out for the rest of the night. He picked him up, hoisted him over his shoulder and carried him into the bedroom and laid him on his bed.
Gil went back into the den and turned off all the lights and headed into his own bedroom. After he showered and brushed his teeth, he donned his robe and returned to Todd's bedroom. Todd hadn't moved, he was still lying in the same position. Gil pulled the bed covers back and undressed Todd. He sat next to Todd to gaze at his beautiful naked body.
'God,' Gil thought, 'I had forgotten how handsome you are, baby. Michael Angelo would drool over your beautiful body.'
Gil had always admired Todd's perfectly portioned body. He had an athletic trim build for his height. All the exercise and the martial arts training had paid off. He had those expressive light brown eyes and that warm friendly smile. Gil thought he was the most handsome man he had ever met. He ran his fingers over Todd's tanned body, down to his groin. Todd was hairless, except for a light brown patch of pubic hair. He leaned down kissing him tenderly on his full soft lips.
He turned Todd on his side in the king-size bed and slipped into bed next to him. Gil lay on his side and pull Todd to him in a spoon position wrapping his arms around him. He kissed his cheek and neck. Gil smiled as he turned off the lights and pulling the covers over them. He drifted off to sleep with his erection between Todd's legs.
Todd woke at four o'clock and could not move. It took him a few moments to orient himself. At first he thought he was in bed with Ted. He reached over and turned on the bedside nightlight. My God, how wonderful he thought, I'm in Gil's arms. He felt Gil's naked body tightly pressed against his. As much as he wished to stay as he was, his bladder was about to burst. He turned off the lamp and untangled himself then hurried into the bathroom. After relieving himself, he shaved, brushed his teeth and returned to bed.
Gil did not stir when Todd turned on the bedside lamp. Todd was not going to pass up this golden opportunity to examine Gil's body. He pulled the covers back and was not disappointed. He let out a soft whistle when he saw Gil's genitals. He was a big man in every way. Gil had taken his exercise program seriously, because his body was in perfect form. The love handles were gone, his stomach was hard and flat. His body looked great. Todd had fantasized about this moment for years and he was not going to waste this opportunity to explore Gil's body. He slid into bed next to Gil and kissed him on the lips, ears and along the base of his neck. He stroked Gil's penis and testicles and rubbed the soft tender spot between his testicles and anus. He licked and nibbled on his nipples until Gil began to respond to his efforts.
Gil opened his eyes and took Todd in his arms and kissed him passionately on the lips driving his tongue deep into his mouth. "Good morning, Tiger, you fell asleep in my arms last night and you felt so good I decided to hold you all night. My tiger turned out to be a loveable little kitten all night."
Todd reached into the night stand drawer and took out a bottle of lotion. "Turn over on your stomach my handsome virgin. When I finish making love to you, you'll never want to make love to anyone but me, ever again. I've been studying and perfecting my skills in the Oriental secrets in how to please your lover. You are to completely relax and let me take control of your body."
Todd worked slowly and gently as he massaged and stimulated every part of Gil's body, from his neck to his toes. He began to bring Gil along slowly. Todd had been waiting for this moment for a long time and he wanted it to last. He had all the time in the world and Todd was about to take Gil to heights he never thought possible. Gil's body was responding to Todd's talented hands, lips, mouth and tongue. He licked, sucked and anointed Gil's buttocks, rimming him until Gil was moaning and pushing hard into Todd's face, demanding more.
Todd turned Gil over on his back and stared into his lover's eyes and let his fingers roam over Gil's beautiful tanned chest and firm nipples. Gil kissed Todd passionately and rubbed his chest and sides. Gil was so aroused that he begged Todd to let him climax. Todd's hands and lips were magical and played Gil's body like as a musician played a fine instrument. He saved the genital area until the last. He kept bringing Gil to the edge of an organism for more than twenty minutes. When he felt the time was right, he clamped his mouth over Gil's rock hard cock and took him deep into his throat. It took him several tries to be able to accept Gil's large cock down his throat. He had been out of practice at deep-throating a tool like this. Finally, he succeeded as Gil erupted.
Todd released Gil's softened penis and lay next to him. They were both covered with perspiration.
Gil's eyes were still closed, as his breathing gradually returned to normal. He turned on his side and embraced Todd and kissed him passionately.
"My God, you're fantastic; I've never experienced an organism like that in all my life; my body is tingling all over."
Todd smiled and kissed him. "I've only just begun to make love to you. Your body is mine now. This is something I've been waiting for, for a long time and I'm not letting you out of this bed until we are both satisfied."
Gil hugged him tightly and kissed him on the lips and face. Todd was still hard, and he reached down and could feel Gil harden again. He reached for the tube of KY and a condom and explained how Gil was to prepare him. Todd lay on his side and let Gil take over. Gil entered him and waited until Todd relaxed, then slowly and gently he began. Todd was moaning with pleasure and Gil was passionately kissing Todd's neck and ear. He was masturbating Todd with the same rhythm as the strokes he was using deep inside him. As he felt Todd's body stiffen, he stopped pumping; he wanted this to last. He began again and soon had Todd moaning and rotating his hips. Once more he stiffened and this time they both were ready. He whispered in Todd's ear, "I love you, my beautiful baby, turn your face so I can kiss you."
That's all it took for Todd to climax. His sphincter clenched around Gil forcing him deeper. Gil thought he was going to black out with the sheer pleasure of his sustained organism. Again, he was completely drained and his body tingled all over. He didn't pull out. He held Todd tightly in his arms.
"Are you all right, baby?" Gil asked.
"I'm fine now, stay inside me, my love."
They feel asleep in that position. Gil woke up a few hours later. He kissed Todd on the neck and ears. He was still holding on to Todd's half erect penis which he stroked as he hardened deep inside Todd. This time they were more deliberate in their lovemaking and climaxed once again. He pulled out of Todd and rolled him over until Todd was lying on top of him. He wrapped his arms around him and stayed that way until they both cooled down and their breathing returned to normal, falling asleep again.
Gil woke first. "It's time to hit the shower, baby. He kissed Todd again and they headed for the shower.
It was an ugly, overcast morning so they returned to bed and sleep wrapped in each others arms. When they awoke again at ten o'clock it was raining steadily. Gil continued to hold Todd in his arms, they were in no hurry to move.
He kissed Todd tenderly on the lips. "You know I'm crazy about you; you must have guessed that by now? You have awakened a man inside me I never knew existed. You make me want to conquer the world. You're the most wonderful person I've ever known and I want you to be my lover and partner, or whatever you call it in the gay world. One thing for sure you belong to me from now on, my love."
Todd kissed him passionately. "I love you with all of my heart, Gil, and I'll be happy to be your partner."
"Don't be disappointed if I don't want to label myself as a homosexual, or bisexual. I am an ordinary man who has fallen in love with a wonderful, beautiful human being, who happens to be a man. I want you to be my mate for the rest of our lives. Do you think you can accept me on those terms?"
"I love you, Gil, and I really don't care what you call yourself as long as you love me and are faithful to me."
"You're really a handsome guy," Todd said, "and you're hung like a stallion. Now I understand why you always wore those dorky swimming trunks. When I pulled back the covers and saw you in all your naked glory, my eyes almost popped out of my head. I guess there is something to be said for you down home southern boys, after all."
Gil smiled, "We aim to please. For a little guy you're packing some heavy equipment yourself. I hope you're gentle with me, Tiger."
Todd laughed, "As much as I'd love to lie here with you, I going to force myself to get up and fix breakfast."
"I'd better shave again, if we're going to do any serious necking later," Gil said.
Todd dressed, striped the bed and headed for the kitchen. He busied himself making pancakes and sausage.
Gil came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Todd's waist and kissed him on the back of his neck. "Have I ever told you that you're a perfect fit for me? Does it bother you that I'm holding you like this?"
"No, and don't ever stop. I'll never tire of hearing you tell me how much you love me."
"By the way," Gil said, "did you have your heart set on a big church wedding, or will you settle for a discreet private affair with just the two of us present?"
Todd laughed, "I want a big church wedding. I'm from the old school, remember? Now sit down and eat your breakfast."
They cleaned up the kitchen, packed their bags and left for Cranstonville. Todd decided to leave his car in Atlanta and have Chin Lee drive him back for his board meeting next week. Anyway, he wanted to spend the time talking to Gil on the drive to Cranstonville.
When they were beyond the heavy traffic on I-75, Gil reached over and took Todd's hand. "I haven't felt this happy since I was a teenager; my mind is still in the clouds. My life is in such turmoil right now with Janet's condition and all. She hasn't been well enough to run the business. I've decided to resign as DA and concentrating on running the plantation and my law firm. The boys have been a big help, but I cannot allow them to sacrifice their education for the sake of the business."
"I never realized the strain a terminal illness can have on a family. Janet's cancer subsides at times, only to return again with a renewed fury that's much worse than before. Be prepared for the worst when you see her today. The boys and I see her every day, so the change in her appearance is not as noticeable. She looks like a skeleton wrapped in a thin layer of taut skin. She sleeps most of the time now, and has difficulty staying awake during a conversation. The nurses keep her heavily sedated. The cancer has spread to her vital organs and it only a matter of time now. Frankly, I don't see how she has survived this long."
"Janet's mother and her sister have been staying with us for the last month. The boys have been wonderful. They're trying hard to mask their grief and act as if all is okay, but I can see it in their eyes. I've been taking them to Atlanta every chance I get. They need to get away. We both have a lot of tough decisions to make about our future."
"We'll do fine, my love, we have each other now. Working out mutual problems is what couples do, that's what a marriage is all about," Todd said.
"After my visit with Janet, we'll drive over to The Moorings and talk about the future. I'd like nothing better than to have you live with me at The Moorings, but that's not possible under the circumstances. I love your family and I expect you to honor your obligations, as you always have. We'll continue our friendship just as we have in the past. I'm sure that Scott and Trace will be off doing their own thing after Janet passes away. They are well adjusted, healthy young men and they will bounce back from this. When this is all over, I'm taking you and the boys to St. Thomas for a vacation."
"That would be great; it will be like a honeymoon for us. I know the boys will love the place," Gil said. "I'm so very proud of the way my sons have turned out. They took their responsibilities seriously. One thing we always instilled in them was their love of family. Janet would never tolerate overt sibling rivalry between them, she encouraged their individuality, but not at the cost of hurting each other. I've never known them to strike each other in anger. They're closer than most brothers and love each other. Our psychologist told me we have nothing to worry about with the boys. He thought they were well adjusted and will be able to handle Janet's death."
"Scott has told me he had no desire to run the plantation. He wants to become an attorney and join the firm after law school. He would also like to get into politics. He is already active in the party, so that a good beginning. He can join our law firm and concentrate on a political career."
"I think Scott will do well. Maybe we should start calling him Chip, he has your good looks and brains, and he should make a good politician. Who knows, he may become President some day?"
"Well, here we are, Tiger, prepare yourself for the worst. I'll sit with you for a while, but I know Janet wants to talk to you alone. She made that quite clear. Let me see if Janet is up to seeing you now; I will be back in a few minutes."
Todd walked into the drawing room to look at Janet's portrait. It was hard to accept the idea that Janet would be gone in a few short months. He heart went out to her and to the family she was leaving behind.
He heard a woman's footstep approaching. He turned to see an older version of Janet. "You're Janet's mother," Todd said, as he introduced himself, "I would have recognized those eyes in a crowd."
"Yes, I'm Grace Dubois, Janet's mother. Please call me Grace. I've heard so much about you from Janet and the family. How kind of you to drop everything to visit Janet. Gil told me you run a large firm in New York. You're a very talented artist, Todd. I often come in here to admire your portrait of Janet."
"Thank you and it's not difficult when you have the right subject to paint. I was shocked when Gil told me of Janet's condition. Had I known, I would have come sooner."
Gil found them in the drawing room. "Janet would like to see you now, Todd. Don't be concerned if she nods off occasionally, but it only lasts for a few minutes. I'll keep an eye on the time. Let's do it, Tiger."
"Janet, are you awake?" Gil asked. "Look who's here, live from New York."
Janet opened her eyes and smiled, "It's good to see you again, Todd. You stayed away too long; we've all missed you."
"It wasn't intentional, believe me. I had planned to visit at least once a month. But, I couldn't get away. I'm disappointed you didn't let me know sooner, I thought we were friends," Todd said.
Janet said, "I wanted to, but, I think my way was for the best."
"Gil, why don't you leave us alone so Janet can tell me all the latest dirt," Todd said. "I know how you despise gossip."
"See you both later."
"You look like hell," Todd said after Gil left the room. "I'm glad your mind is as sharp as ever. God, if I ever get like you, I hope Dr. Kevorkian is around to put me out of my misery. Look, you take your time and we'll chat for a while. I'm not in any rush. I'm on vacation for the next three months. I'll drop by to see you every day if you're up to it. You let Gil know, okay?"
Janet tried to laugh, "You're the only friend I have who is not afraid to tell it the way it is. We understand each other. No one can ever accuse you of beating around the bush. That is one of your more endearing qualities and one that I've missed since you left. It's only been a little over a year since you walked into my world, but I feel I've known you all my life. I realize everybody thinks they're doing the right thing by putting on a happy face and playing 'let's pretend'. But, we both know I'm dying. Why not accept that fact and get on about what is going on in their lives. We are the only animals on this planet that know from an early age that we are eventually going to die. However, I'm still part of the living and want to know what's going on in the world."
"Now tell me what you've been up to that's kept you away from us for so long."
Todd told her about landing the GM account, from the beginning. About his travels throughout the country and of the little anecdotes about some of the top dealers, and inside dope about the Cadillac division and about the politics played at the top. Janet was enjoying Todd's story; she smiled and acted like a kid listening to a fairy tale. Todd noticed her eyelids closing, yet he continued until she was sleeping.
He found Gil talking on the telephone in Janet's office. He sat down and waited for Gil to finish.
"I'm surprised you stayed with Janet so long. You were with her for over an hour. How did it go?"
"It went well. We had a nice chat, I talked and she listened. I promised to drop by every day for a visit."
"Did she sleep most of the time?"
"Not at all, she was wide awake and alert the entire time. She fell asleep toward the end. Naturally, I'm an interesting personality and I don't bore her to tears like the rest of you do."
Gil smiled, "You have that way with people, and you keep me awake even when you're asleep."
Todd stared into Gil's eyes and said, "I think you better get me out of here before I make a pass at you."
"Funny, how great minds think alike, I was thinking the same thing."
"You changed into a business suit; do you have to work today?"
"It's window dressing, I need to stop by the office for some files. It should take less that an hour. I'll drop you off at The Moorings first, then run over to the office and back to your place for a late lunch. This will give you some time check the place out before I get there. You never know when the boys will swing by, as soon as they learn you're back."
"Sounds like a good plan. Let's get going."
Gil dropped Todd off and continued on his way to the courthouse.
Chin Lee greeted Todd at the door and took his bags. "Good to see you again, boss; welcome home."
"Thanks, Chin, it's good to be back. Gil will be by in an hour for lunch. Why don't you fix a nice salad or club sandwiches for us? Did the Thornton's drop by while I was gone?"
"Scott comes by once a week to check on the boats. Trace will drop by to play tennis occasionally, but not that often anymore. They both are working at the plantation since their mother became so sick. Mr. Gil is the only regular. He'll drop in a lot, sometimes in the middle of the day and work in your den. Just like you both did during his campaign. He wanders around the place by himself. He would never admit it, but he misses you, boss. He always asks about you. Sometimes he'd tell me about the great places you'd take him to in Atlanta. It is obvious to me, that he feels close to you in this home. I like Mr. Gil and I feel sorry for him, he's a nice man."
"You're right about Gil. He is a fine man and I love him dearly. The past nine months have been pure hell for the both of us. I think we both had to go through that painful separation. It was worth it. Gil and I are now a couple. You are the only one that knows this. Gil and I will have to walk a very fine line to make sure no one learns our secret. Gil's sons have the run of this place, so we must be discreet to make sure they suspect nothing. I'm relying on you to warn us if the boys suddenly appear on the scene. For appearance sake, Gil will always keep his clothes in the guest bedroom when he stays over. Don't be surprised when Gil comes and goes at odd times."
"I'm so pleased at this good news," Chin said. "I wish you both all the best. I know you will make a fine couple."
"Thank you, Chin. I'll just take these bags up to my bedroom. We can talk again after Gil leaves this afternoon."
Gil arrived twenty minutes later. It was a beautiful day, and Chin served their lunch on the patio.
"I didn't realize how hungry I was until I sat down to eat," Gil said. "That salad was perfect. Would you come with me while I change?"
Todd chuckled, "Try to keep me away."
They headed for the guest suite. Once inside the suite Gil closed and locked the door behind him and took Todd in his arms and held him. He kissed him tenderly on the lips. "I want to make love to you now."
"Let me get a few things from my bedroom first, I'll only be a few minutes, you undress and get into bed."
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