CHAPTER 54 — Friends and Brothers

Trevor must have phoned Tolly right after getting his number from Daniel because by the following Thursday, he had already received a letter from Tolly, complete with a photo. Tolly had sent a snapshot of himself, evidently taken at a swim meet; he was in a speedo.

“Proud little bastard,” I commented.

“He has every right to be,” Trevor said, shaking his head. “He’s gorgeous; he’s not going to want anything to do with me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “Did you send him a picture?”

“Not yet,” Trevor said, frowning. “I don’t have a good one to send.”

“We can fix that,” I assured him. I loaded him into the Bronco and took him to Tom’s house.

“Can we borrow your Polaroid camera?” I asked Tom, after I introduced Trevor as a special little brother. “We need a picture to mail to his friend.”

“Sure, you want me to take it?” Tom asked.

“If it’s OK,” I said, “we’d like to borrow your camera so we can take a picture of his house as well.”

“Sure, I’ll show you how to use it,” Tom said.

“Why do we want a picture of my house?” Trevor asked as we drove away.

“We don’t,” I said. “But I’m thinking that we can be just as proud as Tolly. I want to send him a picture of you with your shirt off, and I didn’t want to try taking that kind of picture at Tom’s.”

“Oh,” Trevor said, looking down at his chest.

“Relax, Trev,” I said. “You’ve got a great body, and… great eyes. We’re going to take your picture without the glasses.”

We took the picture at Lenny’s house, in Dan’s and my room. It took a little coaxing, but I succeeded in getting Trev to laugh in one shot where his arms were crossed and he was leaning slightly toward the camera. It was a good picture, and he looked almost as cute in it as he really was.

“I may want a copy of this one myself. Tolly’s going to drool,” I promised.

“Nah!” Trevor said.

“I know he will,” I said. “Just like you probably drooled over his.”

Trevor flushed.

“What?” I asked, and then laughed as I guessed. “Did you jack off to Tolly’s picture?”

Trev flushed deeper red.

I laughed out loud and then thought about it… “We need another picture,” I said. “Take your pants off.”

Trevor’s eyes went wide.

“Let’s give Tolly something to jack off to as well.”

It took a hell of a lot of coaxing, but I was able to get two snapshots well worth sending to Tolly. In one, Trevor was on his back on our bed, hands behind his head, smiling and naked except for a corner of bed sheet pulled discreetly across his lap — just far enough to hide a growing erection; the outline of which could be guessed at in the photo. Trev had the beginnings of real abs, and they showed, along with most of the muscles in his torso.

The second shot was of Trevor from behind as he brushed his hair in the dresser mirror, again naked. The shot caught his backside full-length and his reflection waist-up. His butt still had a youthful softness.

Trev came up behind me as I sorted through the photos we’d taken, and laid his hand on my back. I turned to find him fully erect and pitifully hungry looking.

“No, Trev,” I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. “I’m not safe for you; not yet. Maybe someday we will. But not now.”

“You had sex with Tolly,” he reminded me, an accusing note in his voice.

“I told you, that was before I had sex with a guy who might have had something. Tolly’s safe for you; or at least much safer than me.” I pulled his head forward, trying to ignore his hard-on that was so close and pointing right at me, and I kissed his forehead. “You’re my little brother, right? I’m going to take good care of you,” I told him. “Now get dressed.”

As he reluctantly pulled on his clothes I handed him the three photos we chose to send Tolly. “Whatever you do, don’t you dare let your mom or brother find these!” I told him. “Mail them between index cards and inside a couple of envelopes and send them to Tolly right away. I guarantee you that he’ll be as ready for you as you are for him.” I gathered the remaining photos, “I better hang on to these.”

Trevor raised an eyebrow.

I mussed his hair. “Maybe someday I’ll be ready too.”

.. . . . .

It’s what I had begun to tell people… “maybe someday.”

Like I told Ken when he paused beside the open laundry room door in the locker room after we showered. Like I told Lenny.

Lenny was at the sink, washing dishes, and I wanted a glass of water. We jostled good-naturedly, and he slipped in front of me, trying to keep his back between the faucet and me. I tried to reach around on either side and he pushed back against me, and suddenly, my front was pressed to his back, my package to his butt. I could feel him breathing between my arms, and my arms closed naturally around him.

He laid his head back on my shoulder. Our bodies knew each other, and I could remember the feel of him under me; I could remember what it was like to fold his body in mine and press my cock so far inside him that it stretched my skin back on my shaft. And I remembered what it was like to feel love for Lenny as we made love.

We wavered, and then I patted his butt and pulled away. “Maybe someday,” I said, and Lenny nodded.

Somehow, it was easier to say “maybe someday” than it was to say “no”; perhaps because I never wanted to say no. But I could say, “maybe someday,” and then think of Dan, and holding him, and being in his arms and the temptation would pass.

.. . . . .

It might have been even more difficult to be alone around Lenny so much, but fortunately, the weeks before Christmas were busy. Besides studying for finals, writing term papers, trying to spend time with Dan, and trying to give thought to our ceremony, I worked hard to call or talk directly to all of our friends – every one – to warn them about GRIDS.

“We’re safe,” Aaron assured me when I called them. “Jorge and me are like my grandparents – staying home together all the time; hard to imagine one without the other. It’s like we’ve always belonged together. Maybe someday soon, we’ll even do your ceremony thing ourselves.”

Then I told them about the cottage.

“We’ll help you guys set up. It’ll be fun,” Jorge said.

“And we can still get it on together,” Aaron said. “I mean, I know you and Dan are almost like… married. But the Jorge and I are the same way. We can still all have fun together, right? You and me, Sean… we still light each other’s fire, right?” he asked. “And Jorge still has the hots for Daniel, don’t you, Heehee?”

Jorge was quiet a moment. “We both like both of you, Sean. There’s something sorta special between us all.”

“And the four of us can be safe for each other,” Aaron pointed out. “It’s perfect!”

“Dan and I don’t know that we’re safe yet, Aaron,” I tried to explain. “We need to let some time pass. And besides, Dan and I are going to be newlyweds, you asshole. You’ve got to let us screw each other silly for months before you show up on our doorstep.”

The truth was of course, that of all our friends (with the possible exception of Scott and Nu), Dan and I had been the most “active” with other guys. Our friends were the ones who needed to worry about us.

Since Thanksgiving, I had been paying attention to articles on GRIDS. I often passed on some of what I learned as we sat around at Lenny’s. And one evening after Michael left for work and Lenny was out with Jonny, Ken sat down with me on the couch as I was studying. “I’ve been with Rafael,” he said simply. “Twice.” He glanced at me. “Should I be worried about GRIDS?”

“You’re a fuck-up, Ken,” I told him. “Yeah, you should worry about GRIDS. Rafael sleeps around and you know it. And even if GRIDS hasn’t made it to San Antonio, it’s only a matter of time.”

I slammed my book shut. “What the hell are you doing with Rafael anyway, you asshole? You wanna spoil what you have with Michael? You have it good with him and you know it.”

“Oh, yeah, as if you should lecture me,” Ken said.

I laid my head back on the couch. “OK. I can’t throw stones, Ken. You know that. But stupid’s still stupid.”

Ken shrugged. “The guy’s hot.”

“So you’re breaking up with Michael?”

“No, I’m not breaking up with Michael,” he immediately said. “That is…I don’t want to… I love Michael.”

I nodded. I could understand how Ken could love Michael and still get it on with Rafael. Hell, Ken and I had gotten it on ourselves after he was going with Michael and I was focusing in on Lenny when I couldn’t be with Dan. “Have you and Michael ever talked about doing other guys?” I asked.

“Just you and Lenny… well and Daniel,” Ken smiled awkwardly. “We’ve talked about getting you guys to do it with us. We figured ya’ll might go for it, with the mirrors over our bed and all.”

I shook my head. “Maybe someday, but not now. Until we know we’re safe, Dan and I are probably the last ones you should talk about doing that with.” I set my book aside and leaned back. “What do you think Michael would say if he found out about you and Rafael?”

Ken frowned.

I frowned as well. “Michael’s a sweet guy, and he dearly loves you, Ken. Don’t hurt him.”

“Damn it, Sean. I love him too. What kind of guy do you think I am?”

“Sorry,” I said with a sigh. “It’s just that I like both you guys.”

Ken laid his head back on the couch and chuckled mirthlessly. “You know what’s funny?”

“What?” I asked.

“Rafael’s pretty; I mean really pretty… in the face, you know? And he’s got a nice body and a beautiful cock. But the truth is… sex with Michael is tons better; tons better! Funny, huh?”

“Not really,” I said. “Lovemaking’s more than sex. And it’s completely different with your lover; with someone you love, shared your secrets with, been intimate with over and over.”

“Yeah,” he said, smiling. “Sometimes with Mikey, it’s… well, there are things that are special, just between us.”

I reached over and gripped his shoulder. “We’re all having to make choices now. It seems to me that your choice is pretty clear. You love Michael. If you stick to him, and him only, you’ll be safe from this GRIDS stuff. And Ken,” I said, giving his shoulder an extra firm squeeze, “until they find a cure for this thing, safe is important. Please be careful, OK? Be really, really careful; for Michael’s sake too. Because it’s not just Rafael you need to worry about. You’d also need to worry about anybody Rafael had sex with. And remember; if you get it, Michael’s likely to get it.”

.. . . . .

“Can I catch a ride to Lenny’s?” Ken asked as we showered after practice.

“Sure,” I said, “but I thought Michael was working tonight.”

“It’s Friday night,” Ken said. “No sense sitting around the dorm. I figure Lenny and Jonny will be out, but I hoped you might be around. We can order pizza or something.”

“Dan’s driving in,” I said, and then seeing no one around, I leaned closer. “We haven’t been together since Tuesday night, so guess what we’re doing before we eat anything..” I wriggled my eyebrows. “He sure as hell better be in the mood.”

“He’s bound to be. Neither one of you are doing anybody else right now, right?” Ken asked, turning off his shower and heading for his towel.

“Nope,” I said, following. “Nobody.” I grabbed my towel and buffed my hair. “And neither of us has ever been much for jacking off because we always had each other, or somebody else around when we were apart.” I began drying myself, top down. “And you know what? It hasn’t been bad. In fact, I think it’s made things even sweeter between us.”

Daniel was waiting in the living room watching TV when Ken and I walked in. Dan jumped up and without saying a word, came right at me. Diving into my gut, he hoisted me over his shoulder. When he turned, carrying me butt high back to our bedroom, I laughed and waved goodbye to Ken.

“Hey, Sean,” Ken called out after us, “I think he’s in the mood!”

Dan kicked the door closed behind us and tossed me onto the bed, climbing up after me. Kneeling astride my waist, he grabbed the front of my shirt. “Is this an old shirt?” he asked, his face serious.

I looked down at it. “Not that old,” I said.

“Shit, I’ll buy you a new shirt,” he growled, jerking it open with both hands, buttons flying. The he dove into my chest, kneading my pecs with both hands, sucking over my sternum and moaning as if eating for the first time in days. Still moaning, he sucked on my stomach in a line down the midseam of my belly.

I was hard and straining to be free as he unfastened my pants and tugged them open and then down along with my underwear, freeing my cock. And he plunged onto it, taking me deep into his throat and then back out, swirling my cockhead furiously with his tongue, and then going back down.

“Oh, shit, Dan,” I groaned. “It’s been since Tuesday. You’re going to make me come.”

But he only sucked more hungrily, running his hands over my belly, squeezing my balls, pushing down around the base of my shaft; the whole time growling and moaning.

I shot, and shot, and shot; crying out because my cockhead went super sensitive and he kept sucking.

And when I was dry and groaning, he jerked off his shoes and pants and underwear, and then climbed up; crawling up my body to straddle my chest. Little Danny came hard, wet, and demanding up to my face, and I grabbed him with both hands, closing my mouth over his crown. Dan’s scent was strong in my nostrils and I could already taste him.

He pulled off his shirt and tossed it aside as he rose and fell on his knees, lifting himself up into my mouth and throat as far as I could take him at that angle, and then back down.

I grabbed his hips and kept him in my mouth as I wrestled him to his back so I could really work on him. I shook off the remains of my shirt and turned all my attention on little Danny.

He came as quickly and violently as I had, and I sucked him just as dry.

Then I rolled off him, onto my back, and we both caught our breath.

Slowly, Dan got up from the bed and went to the foot of it where he pulled off my shoes, and then grabbed the bottom of my pants legs and pulled them off, and finally my underwear.

Then he climbed up over me again, holding himself up on his hands as he lowered his cock and balls to touchdown on mine. He ground in our touchdown, smiling at me. I held my arms open and he lowered himself the rest of the way onto me and we wrapped each other up.

“Hi Seany,” he said, as he nuzzled into my neck.

“Hi Danny.”

“Ummm. I like it when you smell like the pool.”

“And I like your naked body lying on mine,” I said, stroking his back.

He raised his head and gently covered my mouth with his, and we shared the flavors of our bodies. I ran my hands over his back and sides; he ran a hand over my hair. He was still hard and I was quickly growing hard again.

“Well,” he said, his blue eyes looking fondly down into mine.. “You relaxed enough to make real love now?”

I spread my legs for him to settle between, and lightly grabbing him by his butt, I rubbed myself up against him. “Maybe,” I said, furrowing my brow. “But I may still have some sexual tension to work out.”

Dan smiled, and slid his hands under me to grab the backs of my shoulders, grinding his cock down against mine. “A little sexual tension makes it better.”

He lowered his lips to mine. I tightened my grip on his butt, and he tightened his on my shoulders. We opened our mouths to each other, and made the bed rock.

“You hungry yet?” I asked, combing his hair with my fingers as he nuzzled in under my chin.

“I’ve been hungry for hours. What time is it?”

I glanced at the clock. “Close to midnight.”

Dan pulled me tighter, covering my middle with his leg. “Lenny!” he called out. “Ken! Michael! Anybody!”

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Calling for food, of course.”

“You’re what?”

The door opened. Lenny and Jonny leaned in, and Lenny turned on the light. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

Dan lifted his head. “Be a sweetheart and bring us some food, Baby,” he said. “We’re too weak to carry on.”

Jonny guffawed. Lenny crossed his arms, leaning back against the doorjamb as he looked over Dan’s naked back. “You’ve got balls, you lazy bastards.”

“Yeah, I can see the balls,” Jonny agreed. “And a fine ass as well.”

Lenny backhanded Jonny’s gut.

“Oh, shit, Lens… just making an observation.”

“You hungry?” Lenny asked him.

“Yeah,” he said. “I am.”

“OK,” Lenny said, turning back to us. “I’ll fix you guys something, but then ya’ll serve us breakfast in bed.”

“If we even leave the bedroom tomorrow,” Dan said.

“Sure you will,” Lenny said as they left. “You serve us breakfast in bed, and you’ll get to see Jonny naked. And that,” he said, with his hand on the doorknob, “is worth getting up for.” He wriggled his eyebrows and pulled the door closed after him.

I gave Dan’s back a brisk rub. “I didn’t feel like getting up either,” I said. “But you’re a nut.”

“A comfortable nut,” he said, pulling my hip into his crotch..

In a few minutes, Lenny and Jonny were back with toasted sandwiches, sodas and chips, all on a tray. Dan and I had gotten under the covers by then, and they left the tray on the side of the bed for us.

In the morning, we found Lenny sleeping in Jonny’s arms, as contented as a child in the arms of his daddy. We served them ham and eggs with toast and juice. And yeah, Jonny was definitely worth a trip down the hall to see.

And then, because we were in the mood, we took breakfast to Michael and Ken as well, and then sat in their room to eat it with them while they kept the bed sheet over their laps.

It rained hard that day. Ken, Dan, and I made Lenny’s living room floor into a gay study hall while Michael sat in the kitchen with Lenny and Jonny. They talked about their businesses, and Lenny offered to pay Michael part time to help him keep books.

.. . . . .

As Christmas approached, Dan and I grew less worried about GRIDS. It had been almost a month since Robert’s party. Not only were Dan and I in good health, but so were Scott and Nu.

A couple of the articles I had read about GRIDS mentioned the possibility of a longer incubation period for the disease, but no one really knew. It seemed increasingly unlikely that Dan and I had caught anything at the party.

The acid test, I decided, would be if Robert was still well at Christmas.. If he was, I’d consider us safe. But I knew in my heart that even if Robert were in riotously good health at Christmas, I would never be completely at ease in my mind again; not till they had a cure.

And I wasn’t sure I’d ever want sex with other guys again, like we had done so easily in the past. Dan’s and my faithfulness to each other was proving to have rewards we hadn’t guessed at… like the fire our sex took on at times or the downright domestic comfort we felt in each other’s company. I was surprised to find that I even enjoyed the way my desire built for him when we were apart because I knew his desire for me was building as well, and neither of us would abate that desire with another.

.. . . . .

One sunny afternoon as I walked to swimming, I heard a bicycle come up behind me. I turned to find the blond kid who had run into me previously. He was alone this time, but shirtless once more.

I’d just found out that I pulled an ‘A’ in History, and I was in a good mood, so I smiled warmly; maybe the way Lenny warned me not to smile at guys. But then, this was just a kid. “Hi!” I greeted.

“I… saw you… walking,” he said and then pointed at my knee. “How is…”

“My leg?” I asked.

He nodded, dismounting from his bike to walk alongside me.

“It’s fine. How’s your shoulder?”

He pulled his shoulder forward to show me. “It’s OK... see.”

It was a pretty shoulder, and I almost said so. There was something disarming about the kid; maybe it was that he seemed a little slow. “What’s your name again?” I asked.

“Davey,” he said.

“Mine’s Sean. Where’s your friend?”

“Mickey? He’s at… the dentist.”

“Poor kid,” I said sincerely. “So you guys are good friends?” I asked, hoping that they were; I always felt a little sorry for kids like Davey, and it would be nice if he had a friend.

“Uh, huh,” he said. “We’re best… friends.”

“Ah,” I said, thinking I liked this Mickey kid. Any kid who would be best friends with a kid like Davey had to be a neat kid. “Having a best friend is pretty special, don’t you think so?” I asked.

“Uh… huh.”

I almost told him that I was going to marry my best friend, but decided against it. The kid would never understand that. I glanced at him. He smiled, shyly.

“Right after Christmas,” I said, “my best friend and I are going to have a special ceremony… a best friend kind of ceremony.”

Davey nodded his head, knowingly. “Blood… brothers,” he said.

“Better than that,” I said with a smile. “In front of our families and friends, my best friend and I are going to promise to stay best friends all our lives.”

Davey frowned slightly, considering that. “Mickey and me,” he said. “We’re always… going to be…”

“Best friends?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Well hang on to him,” I said as we reached the door to the natatorium. “A best friend’s about the best thing you can ever have.” I winked. “I’m hanging on to mine.”

He smiled. “Me… too.”

.. . . . .

Caitlyn sat down next to me, sliding her cafeteria tray right up against mine. “I’m mad at you,” she said.


“Because you invited Eric and Ferg to your ceremony thing and didn’t invite me.”

“I didn’t invite them until they told me I had to. They surprised me. I never dreamed they’d want to come.”

“So you didn’t dream that I’d want to come either?”

“Well,” I said, eyeing her, “you realize what it is, right?”

“Yeah. You told me.”

“And you still want to come?”


“OK, you’re invited.”

“Good,” she said, satisfied.

Then she laid a hand on my back, grinning up at me. “Do you need a girl to pop out of the cake at your bachelor party?”

I shook my head. “Maybe a guy,” I said.

“Figures,” she said, taking a sip of soda.

“Maybe I’ll ask Ferg,” I said.

Caitlyn spewed soda across the table.

.. . . . .

On Tuesday, the last week of the fall semester, Rafael called Lenny’s house looking for Ken. Michael answered the phone.

I happened to be there. At first, I only knew that Michael was on the phone. The call only lasted a few moments, and then he sat down in an armchair across from me, looking stunned. And suddenly, tears streamed down his cheeks and he buried his face into his hands.

“Michael?” I asked, moving over to sit beside him. I wrapped my arms around him. “What is it? What happened?”

But Michael only cried and I held him until he calmed enough to tell me about the call. “It hurts,” Michael said, the twisting of his mouth making that obvious. “And that shit, Rafael, made it sound like he was surprised I didn’t know. He said everybody knew. I feel so stupid.” Then he looked sharply at me. “Did you know?’

I hesitated.

Michael stood up, pushing me away. But I grabbed his arm and swung him back around. And I was angry. I was furious. I was pissed as hell at Rafael, and at Ken, and at myself—all of us, for doing this to Michael.. But I wasn’t going to let it get worse. “There’s no way I’m going to stand by and let this go to hell,” I said. I grabbed Michael by both biceps and backed him right back into the chair.

And then I knelt in front of him and took his hands in mine. He tried to pull his hands away, and looked away from me, but I held on.

“I don’t blame you,” I said. “I don’t blame you for being pissed. And I know you’re hurt. But you have to listen to me, Michael.” I jerked his hands. “Listen to me.”

He turned to face me, his face flushed and angry.

“Rafael is a shit. But he doesn’t matter at all,” I said. “You and Ken matter, and it’s your choice what happens now. Talk to Ken.”

Michael looked away.

“Michael,” I said quietly. “You and I both know for an absolute certainty that Ken loves you. And you love him. Sometimes you just have to hang on to that. Don’t worry about anyone else. And don’t feel like everybody knows about this,” I said. I told him about my conversation with Ken, stressing how much Ken said he loved Michael, and how he said that lovemaking with Michael was far better than sex with Rafael And I told him about my response to Ken.

Michael studied me, making sure I wasn’t shitting him, and the tenseness began to ease from his countenance.

“Sometimes, Michael,” I said, “you have to fight for your love. Dan fought to keep me. I’ve fought to keep him. We’re all human. We all make mistakes and it’s so easy for someone we trust our heart to, to hurt us. The only way a couple can stay together is to fight to stay together. Fight to keep your lover. Fight your own heart when it hurts and refuses to forgive — forgive anyway because if you won’t forgive Ken, you doom your relationship even if you try to stay together.”

“Guys look at Dan and me and they envy us. They think we’ve got a perfect love story, but they don’t know how hard it’s been. Oh, it’s great now, though we still have an occasional argument… well I guess not many of those anymore… but it took hard work to get here.”

I took Michael’s hands in mine and kissed the back of his knuckles.. “True love is hard work, Michael. Sometimes it means giving up your pride. Sometimes it means letting go of hurts… even bad hurts.. That’s why so few people hang on to their lovers. That’s why love doesn’t last for them.” I squeezed his hands. “Let me call Kenny and get him over here. I promise, if you fight to stay together, he will too. You know he will.”

Michael bit his lip, considering. Then his eyes filled with tears and he shook his head. “If he really loved me, it wouldn’t have happened,” he said, pushing up from the chair and forcing me away.

I stood up as well. “Give him a chance, Michael,” I said, laying a hand on his shoulder. “He does love you. At least call him so he doesn’t come over here thinking everything is OK.”

Michael frowned. “You can. But I don’t want to see him yet.”

Michael retreated to his room when I phoned Ken.

“I’ll be right over,” Ken said. “Give me about half an hour.”

“He said he doesn’t want to see you yet,” I warned.

“I’m coming anyway.”

I was grateful when Lenny arrived home before Ken got there. I gave him the story as quickly as I could.

Lenny shook his head, sadly. “Michael’s insecure, baby. And he’s a very sensitive boy,” Lenny told me. “He doesn’t handle getting hurt very well.”

“Think about Kenny, too,” I said. “He’s only just out of the closet. He’d never even been with a guy before this semester. It was easy for Rafael to tempt him.”

“He still blew it, baby,” Lenny said.

When Ken arrived, we were able to coax Michael out to talk and the four of us sat in the living room, Lenny and Michael on a couch; Ken and me in armchairs. It was a surprisingly short talk.

Michael said little, and simply would not respond to Ken’s overtures. Lenny kept encouraging Ken to give it time. I kept encouraging Michael to give Ken another chance.

In the end, Ken got pissed. “I won’t grovel, Michael,” he finally said. “I love you. I’m sorry for what happened. I’ve promised to never be with Rafael again. That’s all I can do.”

Michael only looked away, and Ken stormed out.

As soon as the front door closed, Michael retreated to his room again.

Lenny knelt beside my chair, laying his hand on my arm. “Mikey’s really hurting, baby. He really does need time to get over it. Not everyone is as tough inside as you are.”

I snorted. “I’m not tough inside.”

Lenny patted my arm. “Yes you are, baby. You admit to being stubborn, right?”

I nodded.

“All the same thing,” he said with a grin. “How about some supper?”

“Yeah,” I said, realizing I hadn’t eaten yet.

“I’ll get Mikey and meet you in the kitchen.”

“First, I have a call to make.”

Lenny smiled. “Say hi to Dan for me.”

“I just need to hear your voice,” I told Dan. “I just needed to hear my voice telling you how much I love you.”

. . . . .

“I guess it’s over,” Ken said, when I walked with him after class the next day.

“Like Lenny said, maybe he just needs time,” I said.

“He sure as hell didn’t sound to me like time would make any difference,” Ken responded ruefully.

.. . . . .

Michael was all weepy-eyed that evening, but wouldn’t consider letting Ken come over. And it was the same the next night.

Jonny was over that evening, and the four of us were in the living room when Michael started crying, silently.

“Michael,” I said. “You told me this never would have happened if Ken really loved you. Well if you love him — if you really love him — wouldn’t you want to work this out?”

Michael’s eyes filled with tears and without even looking at me, he fled the room for his bedroom.

“I guess that was the wrong thing to say,” I said, glancing at Lenny and Jonny on the couch.

“Sean, baby,” Lenny said, shaking his head, “he’s been hurt awfully bad. You forget that he fell for Ken big time. Ken’s broken his heart, and a broken heart can take longer to heal than a broken bone… sometimes a lot longer.”

Lenny cocked an eye. “You wouldn’t expect him to walk on a broken leg would you,” he asked. “Give him time, baby. Don’t push him, OK?”

I nodded. “Yeah, you’re right I suppose. But are you sure that you aren’t being a little overly protective of him?”

Lenny frowned. “I’ve been protective of you too, baby. That never bothered you.”

“Isn’t it just him and his mom?” Jonny asked. “No other family or friends?”

“Yeah, baby,” Lenny said, patting Jonny’s leg.

“Maybe for him to heal right,” Jonny said, “he needs someone to be protective. You know how a broken leg needs a cast.. Maybe a broken heart also needs that kind of protection to heal.”

“That’s good, baby,” Lenny said, and I thought he was probably right.

But then Lenny whispered for a moment in Jonny’s ear. Jonny nodded.. Lenny got up from their couch and went to his room. He held his door open while Jonny went to Michael’s room, and in a moment returned, carrying Michael in his arms like a small child. They all disappeared into Lenny’s room and closed the door.

I frowned. It’s true that Lenny and I had done much the same thing for Michael before; bringing him into our bed. But this was different. And I was afraid that they might be taking away some of the physical and emotional motivation that Michael might have for getting back with Ken.

I closed my book, loaded my backpack, and returned to the dorm.

. . . . .

UT let out for Christmas break at the same time that Trinity did; Friday, a week and a day before Christmas. We loaded Dan’s belongings from his dorm room into a storage unit in San Marcos. Next we returned to San Antonio and hauled my stuff up to the same storage unit. Then we settled into our room at Lenny’s for a few quiet days together, to make our own final plans for the ceremony, and to Christmas shop.

Over the weekend, Lenny and Jonny took off from their work and the five of us (including Michael) went Christmas shopping at the mall, and then later, we all hung around the house together. And though I loved Lenny and cared for them all, I still felt that Michael was all wrong to so flatly turn Ken away. And I thought that Lenny was wrong to take Michael into his bed with Jonny.

Our little six-person, San Antonio household had broken, and I looked forward to Dan and me living by ourselves on Canyon Lake.

On Monday, Lenny insisted on taking Dan and me shopping for our “trousseaus,” one at a time of course; me first. “And no telling each other what you buy!” he warned. “You have to surprise each other.”

That night, Lenny hosted a wedding shower for us. That’s what he called it. And he invited a dozen of his friends who knew us, but who wouldn’t be coming to the ceremony. Most came in drag.

The gifts ranged from massage oil to a double dildo, and included a set of four, fur-lined, handcuffs that three of them had gone together to buy. “One for each arm and leg,” they explained.

Dan and I glanced at each other and said “Ryan,” at the same time, then laughed. “We owe him,” I said.

“For smarting off so much last time,” Dan agreed.

.. . . . .

Lisa and I gave Trevor his contacts the day I left to go back home for Christmas. We took him to the eye doctor’s so they could show Trevor how to use them and care for them. Afterward, even red-eyed, he looked incredible.

Trev hugged me and gratefully kissed my cheek, right in front of his mom.. Lisa only smiled.

.. . . . .

I was surprised that my flesh-and-blood brother also gave me a warm embrace when I arrived home for Christmas. “Man, I’ve missed you,” he said, holding me close.

Mom hugged me as well, with just enough stiffness to let me know that she still wasn’t happy with me. But she smiled. “I’ve missed you too, Sean,” she said.

Dad and my little sister both gave me big, squeezing hugs.

“We’re OK then?” I asked Colin when he followed me into our room with my bags.

“Of course,” he said.

“You aren’t going to be all hung up now because I’m gay?

“No,” Colin said with a slight frown. “And I’m coming to the ceremony, Sean. Dad and I had a long talk, and I’m coming, OK?”

“More than OK,” I said, giving him a hug once more. This time he stepped away uncomfortably after only a second.

“I’m not trying to start anything, Colin,” I said, nonplussed. “I just wanted to give you a hug.”

“No,” Colin said, shaking his head. He gave me a lopsided, apologetic smile. “It’s not you. It’s me. It’s just that… I can still be tempted, Sean. I’m still human.”

I resisted a couple of smart remarks that came to mind, and let them pass. “Me too, Colin,” I said. “When you love somebody, like we love each other, it stirs things.”

Colin only nodded.

That night, as we stripped for bed, Colin turned away from me to finish undressing, and then quickly slipped under the covers.

“Do I need to sleep out in the living room?” I asked.

Colin rolled to face me, unable to stop his eyes from dropping to my naked crotch before looking back up.

“No. Stay,” Colin said. “I thought we could talk.”

I turned out the light and crawled into bed. “Sorry, Colin. I’m tired. No proselytizing tonight. I’ll promise not to tempt you, if you promise not to preach to me.”

Colin’s voice returned to me, quietly in the dark. “Whether you tempt me or not isn’t entirely up to you.”

I wasn’t sure of his meaning. Was he tempted? Or was he implying that my being preached to wouldn’t be entirely up to me? I wouldn’t worry about it. I rolled over and went to sleep.

.. . . . .

I had wondered if Ry and I would be able to get together while we were both back home for the holidays. The answer came early Friday morning, Christmas Eve, when he phoned.

“My dad’s at work today,” Ry said. “Mom said I could invite you over.”

“You sure, Ry?” I asked. “What if your dad finds out?”

“He won’t find out,” Ry said. “Austin and Jeffery are out with their buddies and they wouldn’t tell anyway; at least Austin wouldn’t. Mom’s the only one here. Just come over for a little while.”

Ry’s mom answered my knock at the door, and I greeted her with uncertainty, but her greeting was warm and she leaned up to give me a cheek brush. Ry flew into the entrance hall and into my arms. His mom smiled as if Ry were simply greeting an old friend. “I’ll be in the kitchen,” she said, retreating.

I held Ry close and he hugged me tightly. “I’ve missed you so much!” he said.

“Me too, Ry,” I whispered, nuzzling the side of his hair. Ry had his own scent and it, along with the feel of his body, brought back memories of our lovemaking. I could feel his own growing hardness as we held our embrace and I rocked him in my arms.

He turned his face up to mine and we kissed, pressing our hardnesses together.

“It’s so hard being away from you guys,” Ry said, gazing up at me, his eyes searching mine. “At Thanksgiving, I would have given anything to be with you guys.”

With a nervous glance toward the hallway to the kitchen, I kissed his lips lightly again. “I’m glad you weren’t. I’m glad you weren’t at that party.”

He buried his forehead in my neck and clung to me. “I’d give anything to be at the ceremony,” he said, “to pierce ears with you guys.”

“We will someday,” I promised, kissing the top of his head.

“I know when we could,” Ry said. He leaned back in my arms with a growing smile, his hands lightly squeezing my shoulder muscles. “Mom thinks she can change my flight back to school so I can spend a weekend with you guys at the lake first… you know, fly out of here like I’m going right back to school, but fly to San Antonio instead and then leave from there when I really go back. Could we do it?”

“When do you have to be back?” I asked.

“Mom checked,” he said. “It’s a week after you guys have to be back at college, but I wouldn’t have to fly out of San Antonio until Sunday afternoon. Mom told dad that I might have to be back at school that weekend for a special guitar ensemble. So like I could fly up Thursday and we’d have from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon.”

As he leaned back to look up at me, I held him with my arms behind his waist, holding our bellies and crotches comfortably together. His growing excitement, so characteristic of him, his smiling face, and the thought of him joining Dan and me for those few days flooded my heart with deep affection for him.

“That’d be way cool, Ry,” I said. “But we need to be careful. Careful that your dad doesn’t find out and throw us in jail. And we need to make sure that Dan and I are safe for you… we might need to wear rubbers.”

Ry nuzzled into my neck again. “I don’t care what we have to do; I wanna be with you guys.

I kissed the side of his face, and he turned his mouth up for mine. We kissed again, and without thinking, I opened my mouth to him. And suddenly, our tongues were probing and our hardness rubbed against each other. I broke away. “Oh, damn, Ry,” I said, stepping back. “I didn’t mean to get carried away. I didn’t mean to french.”

Ry took my hand. “Come to my room,” he said quietly. “Mom won’t say anything. We could at least frot, right?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know, Ry,” I said. “I mean, with your mom in the house, and us not knowing for sure how safe I am. If you can come to the lake, it’ll be three weeks from now. Maybe by then, we’ll know if we’re safe.”

Ry stepped up to me, grabbing me by the butt and pulling my hardness to his. He turned his face up to mine, his eyes serious. They focused on my mouth and his lips parted.

I felt my resistance begin to melt.

His mouth moved closer.

Laying my hands on his back, I pulled his chest to mine and we kissed. He pressed his cock insistently against mine.

“Geez, Ry!” I said, catching my breath. “You’re going to make me come in my pants.”

“We did that once, remember?” he asked, beginning to grind his cock on mine.

“Yeah, but I don’t intend saying goodbye to your mom with a wet spot on my pants.”

While holding my butt with one hand, Ry grabbed the back of my head with his other and pulled my lips to his. “Come to my room,” Ry whispered, our lips brushing. “I wrote a song for you guys. Come let me sing it to you.” He took my hand. “Please.”

I followed. But I felt damned uncomfortable doing anything with his mom in the house; whatever attitude Ry said she had.

“Mom,” Ry called toward the kitchen, “Sean and I will be in my room. I’m going to play my new song for him.”

“Oh, the one you wrote for them?” she called out.

“Yeah,” he said, tugging at my hand as he led me quickly past the kitchen and toward the stairs.

“You’ll like it, Sean,” she called from the kitchen. She came to the door as we were starting up the stairs. If she noticed Ry holding my hand, she didn’t act like it. “Ryan,” she said, “I’m going to the supermarket, Honey, I need a few more things for tomorrow. Do you need anything?”

“No, Mom,” he answered, giving me a sublimely pleased look when she turned away.

Ry closed the door and was into my arms, and there was no stopping. We kicked off our shoes while still embraced, and then broke from the embrace long enough to pull off our clothes.

Ry fell back onto the bed, spreading his legs and holding open his arms. I lowered myself down onto him, pausing like Dan and I did whenever we touched down, to relish the moment when our balls settled onto each other and hard cocks squeezed between taut bellies.

I laid down on him and wrapped my arms under his shoulders. I felt his hands settle on my back. We kissed and Ry opened his mouth. When I didn’t open mine, he grabbed my hair and pulled my ear to his mouth. “Please. We already frenched.”

We kissed again, and I opened my mouth.

“Do you still love me?” he asked when we broke for a breath.

“Oh, damn, Ry. More than ever.”

“You and Dan won’t forget me?”

I smiled. “No, Ry. We couldn’t do that.”

Our mouths met again and we rubbed our cocks against each other.

“Tell me about this party again,” Ryan said as I cradled him in my arms afterward. “And don’t just tell me why you’re worried. Tell my all about everything that happened.”

“You just want all the prurient details,” I told him, dragging the inside of my thigh up over his crotch. “But don’t get any ideas. We aren’t doing anything like that again soon.”

Ry smiled. “Come on. Tell me.”

“Well,” I said, stroking the hair back from his forehead, “the night actually started with something sort of romantic between Dan and me.”

I told him about how we pretended to be strangers, and about the prince and the stag in the closet forest.

“What would I be?” Ryan asked.

“What do you mean?”

“If you’re a stag and Daniel’s a prince, what would I be?”

I thought about it. With his personality… a hound? The prince, the stag, and the hound? He might not like being called a hound. How about Page? Squire? And then I had it. “How about the Piper?” I asked. “Piping the tune, frolicking in forest clearings with the prince and the stag?”

Ry considered it. “I could write a song about that.”

The Prince, The Stag, and the Piper?” I asked.

Ryan’s brow furrowed. “The Piper, The Stag, and the Prince,” he answered. “Oh,” he said, laying his hand on my pec. “My new song! I haven’t played it for you yet.”

“I wrote it for us,” he said, “all three of us.” He sat up from my arms and climbed from the bed. I rolled to my side, watching him, his cute little butt, his boyish body, his enthusiasm. I smiled.

Grabbing his guitar he sat back down beside me, in the fold of my body. “I thought you might want a song for the ceremony.”

I stroked his bare back as he tuned his guitar. “I’ll call you when I get back to the house,” I said, “and I’ll give you Linda’s phone number. She’s already singing one song at the ceremony. She’d be the one to sing yours for us.”

“I’ve got an extra copy written down that you can take,” Ry said, plucking each of the guitar’s strings.

“Maybe I better get dressed while you play,” I said, “before your brothers get back.”

“Just wait,” Ry said, tightening a string. “We have time.” He adjusted the guitar in his lap, and then smiled. “I titled my song, Friends in Love.”

. . . . .

My dad gave them to me after we had shared other gifts. He sat beside me on the couch and handed me a gift-wrapped package the size of a shoebox.. “I’ve been praying every day,” he said.

Inside the package were top-of-the-line Reebok running shoes. “You like Reebok, right?” Dad asked. “Because if they don’t fit right, or if you want another kind, you can return them in San Antonio.”

“Dad,” I started to say, “I’m not ready yet…”

“You’re going to run again,” Dad said, squeezing above my knee.

.. . . . .

Colin and I didn’t talk seriously until Christmas night after Mom and Dad went to bed, and we were watching TV; me on the couch, him in Dad’s chair. I suppose it was inevitable that we would have the discussion. Without really meaning to, I instigated it. But since I was leaving the next day, I needed to ask. “You are still standing with me, right?”

He glanced over and nodded. Then his brow furrowed as he searched for words. “You know I love you, right?” Colin said more than asked. “It’s just that I’m still working through things, OK? But like Dad explained to me; I’m not likely to get another shot at doing something like this with you. And you understand, right? That it’s the friendship stuff you’re doing that I’ll be standing with you for?”

“Are you that bothered by Dan and me being in love?” I asked.. “It never bothered you before, and it never bothered you that you and me loved each other that way. I don’t regret what we did, Colin. I never will. It was really special.”

Colin shook his head. “Don’t try to mix me up, Sean. Just because we love each other doesn’t mean that everything we did was right. You grew up hearing the same Bible teaching that I did. When did you ever hear that sex outside marriage is OK?”

I sighed. “I could make a case that what Dan and I are about to do is marriage.”

“I’m sure you could. And there are others who could make a case that it isn’t.”

I rubbed my eyes. “So now you’re a fiery convert,” I said, tired. “Well I’m sorry, Colin. Just because you’ve got a little religious zeal right now, don’t expect me to catch it. Not gonna happen.”

“It’s not like that, and you know it,” Colin said, frowning. “This isn’t some temporary kick I’m on. My life’s changed direction… permanently.”

His look was so earnest. The furrowing of his brow with his flawless eyebrows and his dark red hair reminded me how beautiful he was. I was proud of him; not just because of how he looked, but because of who he was. And it occurred to me that I should be careful with him. His ability to be passionate, even this new passion, was part of who he was. It was part of what was good about him, even if I didn’t like this current manifestation.”

“Dad’s not having problems with us,” I pointed out.

Colin shook his head. “You know he does. But he loves you.”

“He doesn’t condemn me,” I said.

“I don’t condemn you,” Colin said. “But I don’t say homosexuality is right. You can’t read the Bible and believe that.”

“Oh?” I said. “I’m not sure of that at all. There are a lot of different things in the Bible, but I seem to remember that love, no matter how it is given, is what’s most important.”

“You can out-argue me, Sean,” Colin said, “but that wouldn’t mean you’re right. You’re smart, Sean, and you’re as hardheaded as Mom. I know I can’t win an argument with you.” He looked steadily into my eyes. “But I can tell you that what’s important isn’t what I say or you say; it’s what God says.”

“And you think you have an inside line to God?”

Colin looked away, thinking about that, and then glanced at me. “At least God has an inside line to me,” Colin said. “If his spirit convicts me of something, it’s in my heart to obey.”

“Then let him convict me,” I said. “But he won’t.. My God is all about love, not judgment.”

“God is love,” Colin agreed, nodding. “But what love is, isn’t up to you. Love isn’t always simple. And it isn’t just sex. Do you know better than God what love is? Have you ever even asked him?”

“Colin,” I said, leaning forward. “You’ll never convince me that my love for Daniel is wrong.”

Colin started to respond, but I held up my hand. “I’ve probably heard it already from Dad,” I said. “And like you said, I’m hardheaded. I always will be when it comes to Dan and me. And when it comes to what’s right and what’s wrong. I know what’s right in my own heart, Colin.”

“Hearts can be deceived,” Colin said, looking me in the eye.

“Yes, they can,” I agreed, staring right back into his.

Neither of us blinked. Neither of us turned away. And it occurred to me that I wasn’t the only one to inherit Mom’s stubborn streak.

Finally Colin looked away. He sat back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling. “So will you two go to church?” he asked.

“Probably not,” I said, honestly.

“Why stay away from God if you think you’re right?”

“Maybe I’m staying away from other people who think they’re right,” I said. “You don’t have to go to church to be close to God. In fact, that might be the last place to go.”

“So do you pray?”

I frowned.

“Read your Bible?” Colin asked. “What do you do to get close to God?”

“I’m fine with God, Colin. Everybody doesn’t have to do things your way.”

“There’s only one way,” Colin said. “Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

“Then let me work it out with him,” I said. “I’m not worried about it. I don’t remember Jesus turning anyone away.”

“Then you really do need to read the Bible,” he said. “But you’re right. The real problem isn’t him turning people away. It’s more like people turn him away,” Colin said. “I know that I did...”

“Spare me your personal testimony, Colin. I grew up hearing plenty of them and yours isn’t half as exciting as most. I know. I know just about everything you’ve done and to be just plain honest, I’m not sure you’ve ever done much to be sorry for. You’re a good guy.”

“I’m not, Sean,” he said. “Deep down inside, we all have things to be sorry for; you know that. That’s something else you’ve heard all your life.”

“You go ahead and be perfect, Colin,” I said with a sigh. “And more power to you.”

“It’s not about being perfect, Sean, and you know it. It’s about being right with God.”

“Then leave that between God and me.”

“And how will that happen?” Colin asked. “You don’t even talk to him.”

“You don’t know that” I said. “Look, I have no problem with what’s happening with you. I do have a problem when someone thinks they have some kind of private handle on the truth and they try to tell the rest of us how to live.”

Colin shook his head, biting his lip. “I knew I couldn’t talk to you,” Colin said, his eyes beginning to water. “I just know I love you, Sean, and that there’s a dangerous disease out there killing guys like you. And I don’t want you dying from it. I don’t want you going… going where I won’t see you again.”

“I don’t intend to,” I assured him, touched in spite of being pissed that he’d try to preach to me. “We’re being careful. Dan and I are being careful.”

Colin leaned toward me. “Please be real careful.”

“I’m sorry about last night,” Colin said when we were alone for a moment the next morning at breakfast. “Like I said, I’m still working through things, OK?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “Maybe I am too,” I said, thinking of the things that Dan and I were discovering because we were being faithful to each other. I wondered if there were more things to discover; good things.

.. . . . .

The day after Christmas, I drove to San Antonio first , and picked Trevor up before continuing to Houston. Once there, I would drop him off at Tolly’s house.

For the first thirty minutes of the ride, Trevor talked non-stop about Christmas, football, and everything else that came to mind. He barely took a breath.

“You’re pretty nervous, huh?” I asked when he finally paused long enough to look out his window.

“Yeah,” he said, glancing at me. “I’ve barely slept for three days… I mean… way cool Christmas present.” He grinned nervously.

“Maybe you ought to rest now,” I suggested. “Crawl in the back and take a nap.”

“You gotta be kidding!”

“Well you don’t want to crash as soon as you get there. You’ve got a big night tonight. Take a nap. Look, grab a pillow and put it down on the console here between us. Lay your head down and I’ll rub your back so you can relax and sleep.”

Trevor quickly grabbed a pillow. “I won’t sleep,” he said, “but I’d like a back rub.”

He grew instantly quiet as I stroked the back of his neck and down his spine, rubbing, soothing. Soon he was breathing regularly.

Trevor didn’t wake until I exited the interstate in Houston and began hitting stoplights and traffic. He sat up, and yawned. “Oh, man. I slept hard.”

“Good,” I said. “But now you need to wake up and be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for Tolly.”

He blinked his eyes several times. “I’m still getting used to these contacts,” he said

“I have something else you’ll need to get used to,” I said. “Grab the bag that’s behind your seat.”

Trevor twisted in his seat and grabbed the paper bag I indicated. Settling back into his seat, he opened the bag. His mouth dropped and he looked up at me. “Rubbers?”

“Yeah, condoms,” I said. “Three different kinds; a dozen of each. You’ll need to wear them… not all at once of course,” I said with a grin.

Trevor frowned. “Even with Tolly?”

“Especially with Tolly,” I said. “And from now on with anybody; at least till they find a cure for this GRIDS thing.”

He rubbed his crotch and lifted out one of the boxes, examining it.

“Stuff them into your bag before we get there,” I said.

Trevor put the box down and turned to face me with a serious expression on his face. “Before we get there, I want my first kiss to be from you,” he said. “I want that more than anything.”

“We talked about that,” I said. “Let Tolly be your first kiss.”

“No,” Trevor said with a sudden firmness in his voice. He laid his hand on my forearm. “Please, Sean? I’ve dreamed about it since I met you. My first kiss… please?”

It didn’t seem right to say no. Not with the way he was looking at me; not the way he sounded.

I looked around and saw an empty parking lot coming up. It was a parking lot for a closed supermarket, and I pulled in. “It has to be closed mouth,” I said. “I don’t want you catching anything from a kiss.” I had goofed with Ry, opening my mouth to kiss. I wouldn’t do that with Trevor.

He leaned forward, expectantly, his eyes searching mine.

So I lowered my guard and let my heart feel all the affection I had for ol’ Trev. I tried to let it show in my smile and eyes. And I leaned over, placing my hand on his shoulder. Gently, I pressed my lips to his. When he began to kiss back and opened his mouth, I pulled back.

I just couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t give Trevor something. At least until after satisfying myself that Robert was still healthy. “Maybe later,” I said, “we can do a real kiss.”

He tried to pull my mouth back to his, but I pulled away. “Not now, Trev,” I said, patting his thigh. “Maybe someday.”

Trevor was nervous as hell as I knocked on Tolly’s door. Tolly answered, and immediately waved us in. He and Trevor looked each other up and down, and then Tolly smiled broadly and held out his hand. “I’m Tolly.”

Trev took his hand and awkwardly said, “Trevor.”

Tolly held on to Trevor’s hand. “Your timing’s perfect.. No one’s home. Now go away, Sean,” he said turning to me with a totally distracted smile.

“Treat him right, Tolly,” I said, repeating what I’d already hammered into him in two previous phone calls. “And use condoms.”

Tolly frowned. “Yes, Mother.”

“And you still haven’t done anything with anyone since Thanksgiving, right?” I asked, “except for Kyle and Jeff?”

Still holding Trevor by the hand Tolly eased me toward the door. “I’ve behaved, Sean. Now go. We’ll see you at the ceremony.”

I opened the door and turned to say goodbye. They stood there, side my side, holding hands; Trevor looking a little nervous still.

“Sean…” Tolly said, his look softening. “Thanks..”

And then Trevor rushed me and hugged me tightly. “You OK?” I asked.

He nodded and pulled back, glanced at Tolly, and then smiled.

. . . . .

“I was only trying to think of some place to send you boys for a couple of days while we made your cottage ready,” Roger tried to explain that night over take-out Chinese. “Personally, I always wanted to celebrate the New Year in Times Square, and watch the ball drop. I thought you could catch a Broadway show or two. Go to the top of the World Trade Towers. See the Statue of Liberty. Eat at nice restaurants.”

“We will,” Dan promised, reaching for another spring roll.

“But,” Roger said, his brow furrowing as he picked at his Egg Foo Yong, “I’ve been talking to your friend Lenny since he’s going to help us get the cottage ready.” Roger paused, making sure he had our attention. “Lenny told me that there are actually more gay men, and more gay clubs in New York than there are in San Francisco. I should have known that. But I didn’t even think about it, or I would have never suggested New York.”

“We’ll be careful,” Dan promised. “And we’ll be sure to do all those other things you suggested and spend lots of your money.”

Cutter nosed up under my arm.

“Get back, Cutter,” Dan said, pushing him back from the table. “He knows better than that.”

“It’s the Chinese food,” I said. “Hard to resist..”

“What are you going to do with him?” Roger asked, nodding toward the dog.

“He’d love it at the lake,” I observed.

“You don’t have a fence,” Roger pointed out. “You can’t build one down to the water. Cutter could always swim out and around it. You know how labs love water. You could build a fence around the house, of course. But you’d have to build the lakeside section far enough down the slope to not block your view of the lake.”

“No,” Mary protested. “I love that beautiful lawn down to the water. And Cutter would be alone all day while you’re at classes. No. Let him stay with me.”

“We might as well,” Dan said to his mom. “You’ve stolen away his heart. He thinks he’s your dog most of the time anyway.”

“He’s with me all day,” Mary explained. She signaled Cutter and he trotted around to her. “We’re good companions for each other.” She patted Cutter on the head as if he agreed with her.

“Labs love water, though,” I said. “You’ll need to bring him when you come visit.”

“Which won’t be until after a reasonable period of time,” Dan said.

“Unless you bring Chinese,” I added.

.. . . . .

The next day, Monday, was the day before our ceremony. Mary left the house mid-morning to pick up Linda. They planned to run errands and to head over to the country club to make final preparations.

Roger had taken the day off, and ran some errands of his own.

Stef was due in that night. He’d be staying at Roger and Mary’s with us. They were, after all, his aunt and uncle, and they had an extra room.

My family would be in later that day as well, and my parents had invited us all to join them for dinner – Dan, me, Stefan, the Reeses.

But before then, Dan and I had our own plans for the day. We began at Dan’s hairdresser. After that, we ate lunch, and then we drove to the address that Howie, Dan’s photographer friend, had given us. The address was for a garden home near the Woodlands.

Howie answered the door, a camera already around his neck. He led us in to an elegantly furnished townhouse. “Whose place is this?” I asked, as Howie led the way through the living room.

“It belongs to a friend,” Howie said. “Wait till you see the bedroom.”

We followed Howie past a small atrium and dining room to the rear of the townhouse, where it opened to a kitchen on the left and a bedroom door on the right. He opened the door and we followed him in.

The entire back wall of the bedroom was glass, beyond which was a private garden with a small hot tub. On one side of the room, a curved wall of floor to ceiling mirrors framed a round bed that was covered with a rich, white fur bedspread. The room also held a leather armchair, a leather chaise lounge, and a rich, dark-wood dresser and matching armoire. Through a side doorway, we could see a large bath, also opening onto the garden.

Howie had set up lights, reflectors, and even a six-foot ladder around the room. Spreading his arms, he slowly turned around. “Is this perfect or what?” Howie asked. “And look at this.” He peeled back an edge of the bedspread. “Black satin sheets. With the coloring you two guys have, this is going to be incredible.”

“Now,” he said. “We’re going to take our time and do this right. I’ve got plenty of film and we have all afternoon..”

“And you’re not selling any of these to anybody. We’re absolutely agreed on that, right?” Dan asked.

“Of course,” Howie said, examining a light umbrella. “But you agreed I can select a few copies for my portfolio.”

“Your private portfolio,” Dan said.

Turning toward Dan, Howie planted his feet and put his hands on his hips.. “Once and for all, Reese… my life’s dream isn’t to be a pornographer. I’m a good photographer..” He sighed and stepped closer. “Look, I think your idea of doing a honeymoon album to go with your wedding album is cool, and I’m going to offer that when I shoot wedding pictures for people.” He smiled. “When it seems like something they’d go for. So I’d like a few sample pictures.”

“And look,” he said, disarmingly, “beyond the wedding/honeymoon picture thing, I do want to develop my photography. I’m trying to build not just a portfolio, but a body of work. So if we can come away from this afternoon with one or two photographs that have real artistic quality, I was hoping to ask you if I could exhibit them… whenever I finally have an exhibit. But I wouldn’t do it without your permission.”

Dan and I glanced at each other. “Your parents would flip out,” Dan told me, “if they ever ran across a photo like we’re about to take.”

I grinned. “Let’s do it!”

“OK,” Howie said, rubbing his hands together, “step over toward the door. Is one of you going to carry the other ‘across the threshold’?”

I shrugged and turned to see what Dan wanted to do, but before I could ask, he dove for my belly and hoisted me over his shoulder, butt high.

“This is how I haul him off to bed,” Dan said.

“Perfect,” Howie said with a smile, lifting his camera.

.. . . . .

“This is good,” Howie said as we kissed inside the doorway. “Just forget that I’m here. You love each other; let it show..”

Dan smiled, looking fondly into my eyes. “I love you Seany, whether anybody’s around our not.”

“Great! That’s perfect,” Howie said. “Now start undressing each other.”

.. . . . .

“So you guys are really into frottage, huh?” Howie asked as he took shots from several different angles.

“Yeah, we really like it,” I said, smiling up at Dan. “I love you,” I mouthed, and then slid my hands into his hair on either side of his head, holding it up out of our faces.

Dan smiled back down at me. “I love you, too,” he whispered.

“Oh, good shot,” Howie said, snapping a shot close to our faces, from the side.

Dan ground down with his hips between my legs, and we both closed our eyes. The camera snapped again.

Dan lowered his mouth to mine and I spread my legs wider as we began grinding harder.

Howie continued snapping pictures, moving around the bed. “Not all of these are going to be for art’s sake,” Howie said as he worked. “I’m going to give you a few you guys can get horny over.” He stood at our feet. “Spread your legs a little Dan so that I can see your balls pressing together… yeah, good.”

.. . . . .

“I’m going to come if we keep this up,” Dan said, pulling my cock from his mouth.

Howie looked down from atop the ladder that he had moved next to the bed.. Our bodies were in a sideways sixty-nine on the black sheets. “OK,” Howie said. “You guys can come and then we’ll take a break. Dan, you come first and let me see the ecstasy in your face. Then we’ll do Sean.”

.. . . . .

“That wasn’t much of a break,” Howie observed as Dan and I sat facing each other on the bed. Dan’s butt was between my legs, his legs out over mine. Our crotches were together and Dan was playing with our cocks while I had my arms over his shoulders.

“We usually come a couple of times right off,” I said.

Howie snapped shots from an angle that would catch both us and our reflection without catching his. “Go ahead and kiss,” he said. “And are you both hard? OK, hold your cocks together, Daniel.”

.. . . . .

Howie stood above us on the ladder again. I was spooned behind Dan, our bodies coiled together.

“Pull your butt back just a little, Sean,” he said. “I’ll take one picture with a little cock showing between you. It won’t be for art’s sake, but you’ll want it for your album.”

Reluctantly, I pulled back. It had felt good, pressing all the way into Dan.

.. . . . .

“Kneel up, Dan,” Howie instructed. Dan knelt up from the tight ball we’d been in, his cock pressing deeper inside me. I glanced over at our reflections. Howie had been right; our naked bodies looked incredible on the black satin sheets. I stretched out my back on their smooth softness, locking my ankles behind Dan’s butt.

“This is what I want, Dan,” Howie said. “Wrap your arms under Sean’s butt… now rise up on your knees, lifting his butt with you. Good. Now Sean, arch your back a little and lay your arms straight out to the sides.”

Howie moved to a spot near the edge of the bed, just above my head. “Man, I can’t believe the definition you have Sean. There’s not an ounce of fat on you. We’re going to take some individual shots of you guys.” He looked through the camera’s viewfinder. “This is beautiful. Now throw your head back, Sean; arch back a little more.”

Howie was upside down for me and I was briefly distracted by him, but then Dan lifted my butt higher and pulled me snug, grinding into me a little and I closed my eyes.

“Oh, that’s good Sean. Hold that look. Now both of you, strain your muscles a little. Let me see them… good.”

.. . . . .

“I’m about ready to throw something at him,” Dan told me as we stood in the sunlight, waist-deep in the hot tub, water dripping off our upper bodies.

“We’re supposed to be forgetting that he’s here,” I reminded him, gently grabbing him by the butt to pull our crotches together.

He held my sides and we kissed. “Danny,” I whispered. “Be sure to save one orgasm for me tonight, when we’re finally alone.”

Dan wrapped his arms tightly around me and plunged his tongue into my mouth. We began to grow hard again. “Just wait, Seany,” he whispered when we broke for breath. “Just wait till you see what I’m saving for our honeymoon.”

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