I ran through the cold rain for two blocks from the subway to get to the hotel Tim had checked into. He was in the lobby checking out as I shook myself off. He had spent the last two nights in the hotel so that he could deal with his non-stop meetings; this was a business trip after all. We had yet to have a chance to even see each other. As he turned away from the desk he caught sight of me, dropping his briefcase, he ran to me and jumped into my arms laughing. We kissed.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m in your arms again.”
“Come on, let’s get out of here!”
We grabbed his bags and noticed the stares we were getting. The doorman got us a cab. I gave the address to my office and told the driver that we were going to continue on after picking someone up.
“Tom’s at the office. He’s working as an intern until he starts school in January. They formally accepted him at the private school yesterday. Three thousand bucks just for the spring term and I still gotta buy him a uniform and his gym clothes, sheesh!”
“The things ya do for love, huh?”
“Yeah, and I do love him.”
“Pete, you get into some unique situations, I have to admit.”
“Don’t I, and you’re part of the ride too.”
“Don’t I know it.”
“Right here, right side,” I told the cabbie, “Be right back.”
I climbed out of the Checker and dashed to the lobby. The doorman rang my office and told them to send Tom down. I turned to each opening elevator door to see which one he would appear from. Door number three was the magic one. I gave him a quick peck on the cheek, “Ya ready?” He nodded and smiled with excitement. I pointed to the cab. He took off in a run with me a half step behind him. We climbed in.
He kissed him on the cheek like he had known him forever.
“Hi, Tom, glad to finally meet you.”
I called out my address to the cabbie and told him to take 2nd Avenue. He gave me an evil grimace in the mirror and jumped on the accelerator.
Klaus was standing in the foyer of the building mopping up a puddle. He was frustrated by a leak around the front doorframe that he couldn’t figure out. When he saw Tim he leaned his mop to the side.
“And ver have you been, young man? My vife keeps axing about you.”
“Hi, Klaus. I’m living in California now. I don’t make it here so often, but tell your wife I will try to come more often, OK.” He winked at Klaus.
“He’s a gut boy, Ja,” Klaus said to Tom.
“Ja,” Tom said back.
We nodded and piled past into the apartment. We dropped his things in the bedroom and I turned to see Tim surveying the room.
“God, I missed this place. You have a real home here Pete. I have something I live in.”
“Oh Tim, come here.”
I gave him a long hug and a kiss.
“Now there’s a proper greeting, now here’s a proper introduction. Timothy James Welker meet Thomas Nathaniel Petersen. Tom meet Tim.”
“Glad to finally meet you,” they said simultaneously.
We all burst out laughing.
“This is too scary,” I said, “but what’s scarier is that Steve, Fitz and the kids are coming in an hour and we’ve got dinner to prepare. Sorry, Tim, but it’s time to go to work.”
Tim and I tossed our suit coats and ties on the bed and we headed for the kitchen.
As I divvied up duties and called out ingredients that were needed from my head, I was struck by the fact that I was doing what Dan used to do. I was doing something that he did that put me in awe of him. By watching him, then Fitz’s solid training and practice I had learned to cook the way he did naturally. I began to chuckle as I unhooked the pots I would need from the wall.
“What’s so funny?” Tom said as he washed the spinach in the sink.
“Oh, went to New Orleans, just for a minute.”
Tom gave me a funny look out of the corner of his eye then shrugged his shoulders, “Hey, Tim, will you tell me how you two met? I’ve only gotten Reader’s Digest version.”
Tom gave me a sly smile.
Tim looked up from the table where he was cutting up the zucchini and said, “Sure, let me see…Loyola, where I went to school, on the decent side of the chain link fence from where Pete went at Tulane…”
“Two universities right next door to each other,” Tom asked.”
“Yup, remember we’re talking about New Orleans, normality and logic do not apply. Now, no more interrupting.”
Tim said sarcastically, with a grin, “Is he always like this, Pete?”
I shook my head and said, “Go on, I want to hear this. I’ve never heard your version of the events.”
“Well, the school was havin’ TGIF on the quad. Free band and 10 cent beer, the band was….”
“Right, well, I was with a whole bunch of friends from the dorm…it was the spring of…1980… My God, is it that long ago, shit.”
“Hey we’ve been to hell and back…twice… remember.”
“Time flies when you’re havin’ fun.”
I looked at him with mock disgust at his sarcasm. Tom pulled the stool up to the sink so he could watch our interactions as he picked leaves from the stems. He was enjoying this immensely.
“ANYWAY, I was dancing with this girl, honest-to-God her name was Sandy Beach, when I saw this blond haired boy in bare feet, cut-offs and a Pink Floyd T-shirt standing in the beer line. He was laughing and hanging on the shoulder of the guy in front of him.”
“Bill,” I interjected.
“I kept my eye on him as I went on dancing to the song. After the song stopped I noticed that I was half hard. Sandy noticed it too. She thought she was about to get lucky. I excused myself to go take a leak and then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to avoid her. When I came out of the portable I scanned the crowd and couldn’t find the blond haired boy anywhere. I thought that I had lost my chance, then I heard the slam of another of those plastic port-o-john doors and ‘Hey, cut it out!’ and ‘Ooops, Bill you bastard.’ I turned to see Pete staring me right in the face trying not to crash into me. I had put out my hand so that he wouldn’t fall. ‘Sorry, guy, my friend pushed me. ‘Y’all right?’ he said. I said yeah, stuck out my hand, and introduced myself. He got the biggest smile across his face and said, ‘Hi, Tim, I’m Pete Langer. I live up there.’ He pointed to the architecture building. Everybody at Loyola knew about those strange people who inhabited the architecture building at Tulane. ‘Come see me anytime.’ He said as he winked at me.”
“I had just enough beer in me to not be afraid to flirt with a cute guy,” I said, “I was still in the closet at the time.”
“If he hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have been bold enough to pursue him. Then he put his arm on my shoulder and he introduced me to Bill. We talked for awhile learning the basics about one another. He kept smiling at me. I thought could this really be true, this handsome straight lookin’ boy is queer AND interested in me? A few more beers later when the band had come back from a break he said ‘I need to dance, come on you two.’ He pushed us out into the crowd. We bopped around for a song or two before Bill bailed and Sandy reappeared. That is until I introduced Pete and he made fun of her name, almost viciously.”
“I’m still embarrassed to this day. I was downright mean. Well, I was drunk and she was gettin’ in between me and somebody I was havin’ the serious hots for!”
“Yes, I had noticed your semi hard-on by then.”
“And me you!”
“Then the band struck up their song ‘Three Chord City’ and we started dancin’. After about five seconds I leaned close to him and said, ‘I want to see you naked.’ We danced for a few seconds more and Pete said, ‘I want to do more than get naked.’ I almost came in my pants, especially when I saw the head of his cock sticking out the leg of his shorts. ‘We need to go,’ I told him. ‘No, we need to cum,’ he replied. I grabbed his hand and literally dragged him through the crowd to my dorm room. I couldn’t get there fast enough. I prayed to God the whole way for forgiving the sins I was about to commit and thanking him for sending my roommate home for the weekend.”
“That wouldn’t happen to be the day that photo hanging in the hall was taken,” Tom said.
“The one and the same. Thank god my legs aren’t reversed in the picture or you’d see my dickhead hangin’ out. That was taken right in between Tim tellin’ me he wants to see me naked and me tellin’ him I wanted more than that.”
“Wow, that is so cool,” Tom mused.
“Don’t ya want to know about what happened next?” Tim asked.
“Oh, I get the porno too!”
The door buzzer went off.
“Saved by the bell,” I said pointing my finger to the sky.
“We’ll just save it for tonight in bed,” Tim said in a hoarse whisper. I rolled my eyes and pressed the door release. I looked back at the two of them and smiled.
“Tim, please adjust yourself,” I said with a laugh as I did the same. Tom burst out laughing.
“Sorry, Tom, that story sure did bring back some memories.” I opened the door for the entourage.
Tim rushed over to the door and locked his arms around Katie. I hauled Daniel up into my arms and kissed his cheek. I kissed Steve and Stevie in his arms. Tom dried his hands and sauntered over and hugged each of them in turn. Tim finally released Fitz and hugged Steve.
“God, I missed you two…now four.”
“Wow, it is so good to see you again, Tim. You look well,” Fitz said, “And look, if you get another wild hair and decide to stop talking to Pete, you better keep callin’ me so I can straighten your ass out, OK.”
She was serious too.
“Yes, ma’am,” Tim dutifully said.
“Well come in and settle yourselves down; I’m way behind on dinner. It’ll be at least half an hour or so. Tim you hang and get to know your nephews. You got a lot of catchin’ up to do. Tom and I can handle it from here.” I squeezed Tom’s butt.
He smiled, “I can handle anything you dish out.” I smacked his butt.
As Tim, Steve, Katie and the kids dissolved into their conversation Tom and I got into our own.
“I really like Tim. I see why you love him so much.”
“I wonder why you even want to be with me instead.”
“Hey, I’ll have none of that,” I said quietly, “Do not put yourself down. What is the matter with you?”
“Tom, there is no need for you to be self-conscious about our relationship. I think the three of us can have a great friendship. I want Tim to be our friend. Don’t you want to be friends with him?”
“Yes, I do. I guess the fact that you guys knew each other and were, well…”
“What, havin’ sex?”
“Yeah, well, when I was ten years old. That’s a little daunting, ya know.”
“Scary too,” I said with a laugh.
“But really, Pete, like last week at Thanksgiving with Teddy. He’s the same age as me and everybody treats him like a little kid.”
“You can’t compare yourself to Teddy. You are light-years ahead of Teddy in maturity. You’re more mature than Craig and he’s twenty-one. You were raised in an environment in which you had to grow up sooner than most, which has it’s good and bad points. You are an amazin’ man whom I love more than I can fathom. You transformed me in those few moments that it took to carry you into this house, and my love for you grows with each day. Trust me, you come first in my heart, but I will tell you there is room for Tim, Steve, Katie, Vroom, Jeremy and Daniel and Stevie too. OK! So rest assured.”
“I love you, Pete.”
“I love him too,” Steve said as he came up and put his arms around Tom’s stomach, “But only if he is host enough to offer us drinks.”
“Shit, you’re family, not guests. Get it yourself. The cook’s busy.”
“Don’t ma’am me or I’ll tell your wife you need to be moderated.”
“By you or her.”
“By all of us!”
Tom’s eyes widened, “You’re not serious?” I looked at him through my eyebrows with a smile. Steve laughed, turned to get the glasses out of the cupboard and asked for drink orders.
The door buzzer went off again. I looked at Tom quizzically.
Tim pushed the intercom, “Yes.”
He pressed the listen button. All we heard were little kid car noises.
“Oh boy, let him in.” Tim hit the release button.
“Open the door for Vroom and…yes, Jeremy too! Hey, y’all. Come on in! Look who’s here.”
“Hey, Tim! Wow, it’s great that you’ve come home,” John said, “Tim, this is my boyfriend Jeremy.”
“Glad to meet you, Jeremy,” Tim said with a slight double take. I looked at Jeremy as he turned to face me.
“Jeremy! John, don’t tell me you did this!”
“No, Pete! Jeremy’s little brother gave him the shiner!”
Fitz promptly got up to assess the injury.
“Katie, I’m fine. It was yesterday morning. God, I got more mothers than I know what to do with. Startin’ with him,” he said pointing at me with his thumb.
“Hey, wait a minute. Just ‘cause I’m concerned…OK, so what happened,” I said as I covered the pot, “Ten minutes and dinner will be ready and yes, there is enough for you two to stay and we hope you will. Now spill!”
“I had to go home to Bedminster on Wednesday for a family dinner thing. My great aunt’s ninetieth birthday. I asked if I could bring John. They said no. Well I got indignant about it. Of course how were they to know how I felt about this cutie here, since I hadn’t come out to them yet. So I decided to do it at the dinner. Not one of the better moves in my life.”
“Don’t look at me, you two, I had no clue he was going to do this.”
Fitz and I were giving Vroom the evil eye thinking that he should have done something to keep Jeremy out of trouble.
“Anyway, it gave us something to all talk about all evening. Everyone was upset until my great aunt supported me and said it was the best thing to happen to this family in more than sixty years! She confessed to me later that she was talking about a lesbian affair she had before she got married! I almost died laughing! She can’t wait to meet John. Mom and Dad have a different take on the matter. The ride back to the house was nerve-wracking to say the least. My two sisters never shut up about it and my little brother never said a word; he adores me. I knew I had crushed his heart when I came out. Well, we were all up really late talking it through, they ain’t happy is all I got to say, and things will be touchy for awhile, but…I ain’t out on my ass. Well, to the shiner… I go to bed. I sleep in the same room with David. He still won’t say one word to me. He must have stewed all night long. I wake up in the morning to this wild-eyed kid sittin’ on my chest with his fingers clenched into my shoulders screamin’ ‘How can you do this to me!’ over and over again. I tried to calm him down and talk to him like I’ve always done, but then he just hauled off and slugged me in the eye. I exploded and tossed him across the room. My dad came running into the room having heard all the screamin’. He started to blame me for it all. I tossed my shit back into my bag, got dressed and left. They called me later when David ‘fessed up to it all. He has since apologized to me. He says we need to have a long talk over Christmas break. My parents have invited John to come out and stay for a few days too. So it’s lookin’ better. My eye’s not though. Man, the little guy packs a punch.”
“How old is he?” Tom asked.
“That’s not so little,” Tom replied.
“No, but he’s always been little to me…I know he’s not any more. Maybe I need to treat him more as an equal, huh.”
“That’s what you would have wanted at his age,” I said.
“Cheeky bastard,” I replied.
“All right. Let’s get the table set and dinner on the table before we all get cranky and start swingin’ at one another from not eating. Who’s sittin’ where? Vroom, get plates, Tim, silverware, Steve, you’re still in charge of drinks, Tom, help me serve, Katie, you got your kids and, Jeremy, find some chairs and stay outta trouble.” I gave him a cheesy grin. He gave me the finger. “I love you too!” I loved my family!
It was a loud raucous dinner typical for any large family. I relished it. Tom, being an only child, reminded me of Dan on the first dinner he had with my family. He would reach for my hand to hold it every once in a while, but having Daniel on my lap kept us busy and entertained. The conversation was a clearinghouse of all of our latest goings-on and gossip. The biggest contributor was Tim, because everyone asked what he had been up to in the year and a half since we had all seen him. He spoke of how he loved his job, hated his boss, loved San Francisco, hated the cold damp weather, loved the view from his apartment, hated walking up and down hills, loved the friendliness of the people, hated being lonely, loved to go camping amongst the Sequoias, and hated being in California.
“Are you dating anybody?” Katie asked.
“Well…I went out on a first date last week and am going out with him again next weekend, but I haven’t really been too excited about dating anyone since moving out there. The first guy I dated, whom I really liked, got all freaked and refused to go out with me after I told him about Brad. We had been dating for over six months! I’ve had a lot of one and two date relationships. You know, just enough to get to know that it just wouldn’t work. But this guy I just went out with, he’s different. I’m really curious. I’ll have to wait and see…and not get my hopes up too high.”
Tim looked up across the table at me. I could read his eyes. He was thinking of us and our lost chances at a relationship. I smiled at him with tight lips knowing too that it would always bother us that we never got the chance to make it work.
After we cleaned up from dinner and the Thomases were getting their things together I said, “Not just yet. It’s picture time.”
A chorus of groans sang out from everyone but Steve, “You get the camera, I’ll get ‘em arranged.”
Ten minutes later, satisfied that we had caught the spirit of the evening they all began to disperse. We all made arrangements to see each other a few times over the coming holidays. We even convinced Tim that he was coming back for New Year’s.
The house was quiet except for the steady rain that had begun to beat on the windows. The three of us looked at one another.
“I’m whacked. It’s time for bed,” I said.
The two of them nodded in agreement. I started laughing when the three of us naturally got undressed and then followed each other into the bath. Tom was not prepared for this at all. Tim got embarrassed when he realized how awkward it was for the three of us to be naked and brushing our teeth. I noticed Tom staring at Tim’s body. I winked at him. He turned red.
“Look, we’re all friends here. Yes, it’s an awkward situation but we’ll find a way to make it work,” I said.
“Hey, we are just friends now. You guys aren’t having sex for another month so…” Tom and I looked at each other and then looked at Tim.
“Wait, but you…”
“When I last talked to you about it I wasn’t lying, but since Thanksgiving night we have been having sex. We know we’re breaking the law and don’t care.”
“Oh shit, now I’m really embarrassed.” Tim pulled a towel around his waist. I pulled it back off.
“We’ll figure this out, especially if you are going to stay here with us.”
“I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“No you won’t Tim. Come on, let’s get into bed.”
I got in the middle and they settled in to either side.
“OK,” I said, sitting up, “I need to have you two in my life. I just do. Call me selfish, I really don’t care. You have to help me figure out how that happens. Are you both willing?” I looked at each of them and they nodded yes. I turned to Tim, “When you and I spoke at Thanksgiving you said that you could be friends with me and Tom like you were with me and Dan, right? Is that still true?”
“Yes, although seeing you naked, especially after telling the story of our meeting has made me horny to say the least.”
He picked up the covers and we all saw his hard on.
“Sorry,” he said. Then the two of them saw mine.
“Sorry,” I said to Tom, “being between you two is makin’me go nuts.”
Tom giggled and gave me a kiss, “It’s OK, now I’ve got one too.”
I started to laugh.
“OK, back to the subject at hand…not in it,” I said with a chuckle.
“I need you, Tim, as my friend. I need you, Tom, as my partner. I need you two to be friends…Geez, I’m pretty needy.”
“Pete, I need you too,” Tim said, “you balance out my life. You keep me sane, better than anyone I’ve ever met, and brother, don’t I need it. I’m willing to do anything to do that. You are my friend till the end and I think you have made a great choice in Tom. Work has offered me a New York job before and I turned it down. I won’t ever do that again and I’m going to start pursuing it now. I’m willing to do this. Maybe you’ll introduce me to somebody…I don’t seem to have much luck on my own.” He smiled, kissed me and tugged on my cock. “And until then I’ll just have to beat off… a lot.”
“What about the guy you have a date with next week?” I asked.
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Aarrgghhh, Tim, we’ll talk about that later. Tom, what about you?”
“Tim, for knowing you for, what, five or six hours, I really like you, I don’t even mind that you’re sleepin’ in our bed. I should be jealous…really jealous, but I’m not. Half of it is because I trust Pete and his decisions and half because I like you…Now don’t get mad, Pete, but I was wonderin’ why we just didn’t turn this into an orgy and make a three way out of this relationship.” Tom put a finger to my lips before I interrupted him. “‘Cept I know you would have already proposed that if he thought it would have the slightest chance of workin’, huh?”
“Nail on the head, Tom, nail on the head. Trust me, I’ve thought about it. We can talk about it too, but for some reason I think we would all end up screamin’ at each other. You both think about it and tell me, OK? But for now let’s go on this way.” I looked at both of them. “Time to sleep on it?”
They both nodded. I snuggled down between them.
Tim threw back the covers and started to get up, “I need to go beat off.”
I grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back down.
“Why don’t we all beat off together.”
Tom said, “Cool!”
Ten minutes later we were asleep.
I slept well. I felt relaxed and at ease when I woke. I nuzzled Tom.
He kissed me on the bridge of my nose, “Mornin’.” I ran my hands down his thighs.
“Ready to get up, Tiger,” I whispered. He kissed me again and nodded.
Tim kissed me on the back of the neck and whispered, “So am I, what a great sleep. Man, do I need to pee.” He rolled back out of bed.
“So do I.” I rolled to Tim’s side too and got up. I shuffled over to Tom. “Come on sleepyhead.” He sat up and rubbed his eyes. I helped him to his feet. I hugged him. “I love you, Tom Petersen.”
He squeezed my butt. He sat back down on the bed and took me into his mouth and began to suck me. We heard the toilet flush. He stood back up.
“I love you, Pete Langer. Mmmmmm!” He led me off to the bath. We peed and all brushed our teeth.
Tim turned to us after he spit, “Yoga time?”
Two nods answered the question.
We moved the kitchen table to the wall and rolled out our mats. Tim’s was still in the closet exactly where he had left it. Tom had quickly learned the order of the poses and we offered our help in improving his alignment. Tim had excelled in his practice since I last saw him.
“I love the yoga practices out in California but I don’t much like most of the people who attend them.”
Most of the time it was quiet except for our breathing. An hour and a half later we lay on the floor relaxing side by side by side. Once I sat up and closed my practice, I turned back and forth to each of them.
Tom smiled at me, “This is the best having three of us do yoga.”
We got up and rolled up our mats. I got out the sponge mop and went over the floor.
“Now it’s time to clean us.”
I was stunned by how efficient and natural we were in the bath between shaving and all before getting into the shower. I thought to myself that maybe this could work as a three-way relationship. That was until I thought about sex. I would get jealous because I was so protective of Tom. I made a face as I thought about this as I lathered Tom’s neck.
“What’s the matter, Pete?” Tim said, “has he got somethin’ growin’ back there?”
I shook my head to bring myself back to the moment, “ Naw, I was just thinkin’.”
“Ok, well don’t dwell on it, it ain’t a pretty face,” Tim reached over Tom’s shoulders and soaped up my ears and cheeks, “Smile, huh?”
I did, then reached around Tom and pulled the three of us together, “I love you two! Now, let’s finish up, eat somethin’ and then get out into this brisk day. Rain’s gone, sunshine’s out. What would y’all like to do today?”
“Christmas shoppin’,” Tom said.
“Oh, yeah. Good answer. I got a lot more to do. Hmmm, and Tom you’re gonna havta divert Tim here today at one point…Hmmm.”
“Uh-oh, he’s cookin’ somethin’ up in that blond wrapped wonder brain of his, it’s getting’ me nervous,” Tim said, “Wait a minute. I’m in Mississippi for Christmas.”
“But you’re comin’ here after, remember?”
“Well, Pete, I gotta buy tickets.”
“Oh, that’s prezzie number one,” I said as I reached down and turned off the shower.
“Pete, ya don’t hafta do that.”
“Duly noted and discarded. Yes, I do. I’ll call that wonder of a travel agent I use before we even go out the door today. I’ll just need the info on your trip to your Mom and Dad’s.”
I handed Tom and Tim each towels before tossing mine on top of my head.
“You are takin’ that week between Christmas and New Year’s off?”
“Well, it’s settled,” I said between bursts of drying my hair with my towel, “you’re comin’ here when you leave Mississippi and stayin’ until the second….OK?”
Tim turned to Tom, “Like I’m gonna be able to say No.”
I stopped and pulled the towel down to my chest, “Seriously, I know I can be pushy sometimes, but if you don’t want to come it’s OK.”
“No, actually I do want to come. I miss you all and I’ll be missin’ you Tom by the time this weekend is over, I just had some plans, nothin’ great, but, well…”
“Come on, Tim, say it.”
“I…just…wanted to have some imput into this…OK…So if I want to come let me figure it out…. Mr. Planner Man gets too assertive sometimes!”
I leaned over and kissed him, “I’m sorry. I got too excited. I was thinking for a while that I would never see you again. I don’t want you to slip away.”
“Don’t push me away either,” Tim said as he slapped me lightly on the ass.
I turned to Tom who had been quietly observing us as he dried himself off. “I’m still learning too.”
“And I learn from it also,” he said as he took his towel and began to dry my shoulders, back, butt and then legs, “So, Tim, ya comin’ or goin’ for New Year’s?”
Tim and I lost it in laughter. Tim finally squeaked out that he was coming.
I walked out of the bath with only a smile on my face and went to start the coffeepot, one of the last vices I still had. I wrestled with giving it up now and again, but not this year. Tom appeared in the kitchen a minute or two later. He wrapped his arms around my waist from behind.
“Hi, love,” I said.
He nipped the nape of my neck with teeth and whispered, “I’m horny. I want to be fucked.”
“Mmmmmm, me too. Think we can wait till tomorrow afternoon?”
“Yeah, I just thought you might like to know though.” I turned around in his arms and embraced him.
“Oh, I feel it too,” I said with a smirk. He nestled his head in my chest as the coffeepot steamed and burbled until it hissed that it was done. Tom and I kissed.
“Come on, partner, let’s take Tim some coffee and get this shoppin’ show on the road.”
It was dark when the cab pulled up in front of the apartment. The three of us stumbled out onto the sidewalk.
“Oh my God, Finally! I never thought it would end,” Tim said.
“Sheesh, you’re the one who said, ‘but wait…we got to go here’ about a half dozen times,” I said with the best grin I could manage.
The cabbie popped the trunk. Even after all the consolidating we had done it was still twelve bulging shopping bags. The most were from FAO Schwartz. I knew I shouldn’t have gone in there, but I had to spoil Daniel and Stevie and I still had a shopping date to go there with Steve on Tuesday too. For all the bitching and moaning now the three of us had a fantastic time. We were the serious shoppers one minute and then in the next we were transformed into a band of irreverent teenagers giggling about something inane. I was happy, because, except for an item or two for Tom and something else for the Elliots, I was done. I had gotten something for everybody in my family; that was a chore all unto itself.
Once inside we dumped the bags, our coats, shoes, hats and pants. We washed our hands and faces and fell on top of the bed. We nested. We let the waves of frenetic activity of the past eight hours dissipate. We lay calm and quiet for twenty minutes till the two of them giggled at my stomach gurgling and growling.
“I guess it’s dinner time…leftovers time…I ain’t cookin’ tonight.”
Tom and I puttered around in the kitchen while Tim tried to organize his packages for travel tomorrow.
“Ya know, I shopped like I lived here. I don’t know how I’m gonna get this all into the overhead.”
“We can box it and ship it for you…or you can move here.”
“No thanks, I think I’ll manage…good idea though and I will, Pete, I will.”
He looked up at us and grinned.
Tim was asleep on the couch snoring gently by the time we finished cleaning up after dinner. I was about to wake him when Tom grabbed my hand and led me to the bedroom. He dropped the flannel shorts he was wearing and bent over the side of the bed.
“Now, Pete, now,” he said with hushed urgency.
I grabbed the lube and then slid inside of him. We enjoyed the slow passionate lovemaking. I lifted Tom up and laid him on his back on the bed. I was about to enter him again when I heard a rustle from the other room. Tim was awake and watching us. I smiled at him and went back to Tom. I knew then that I could be in love with only one or the other and my choice was Tom.
After we cleaned up I walked up to Tim, “Sorry, guy, we got carried away.”
“It’s OK. I like watchin’ porno, so live porno’s really cool.”
“Tim, I know there are a lot of feelings mixed up in this that aren’t in videos.”
“I know…I was wishin’ that you two would fuck me like you fuck each other…but I think you’re right, jealousy would come into play…big time! I love you too much and you love the two of us and Tom loves you too…it would be a fuckin’ mess…and yes I meant the pun.”
I bent down and kissed him, “Love you.”
“Same here, but I think this will only resolve itself when I find a boyfriend so that we can have our relationship as friends without the sexual tension.”
I nodded and then said, “Come on to bed, love.”
“OK, I just need to brush my teeth and beat off.”
I looked at him with a tinge of sadness, “I sure would like to help, ‘cause you are one sexy man, but...”
Tim nodded in agreement as we walked across the room together. He kissed me on the cheek and said, “See you in a few.”
I climbed into bed and snuggled with Tom.
“Is he OK with what happened?”
“Yep, down deep he’s extremely strong. We just need to keep talkin’ so we don’t get on some whacked out tangent from one another. That’s all.”
After yoga in the morning we rode with him to the hotel he stayed at to catch the shuttle bus to the airport. I didn’t want to let him go when we hugged. I was scared that I wouldn’t see him again. He promised that we would see his shining face in two weeks.
“Take care of Pete for me will you,” he asked of Tom.
Tom got the broadest grin. “I will,” he replied.
“And not just sexually, I mean it!”
“I will,” he said in all earnestness.
“Thanks, I love you too.”
He boarded the bus. It roared off a few minutes later in a thick cloud of diesel exhaust. As we waved the fumes from our face a cab stopped at our feet. He thought we were waving him down. We shrugged our shoulders, took the hint and climbed in and Tom called out Steve and Katie’s address. I shrugged, smiled and said,
“Cool.” I spent the afternoon asleep on a quilt on the floor with Daniel, snoring, while the rest of them watched football and gabbed.
The next morning Tom asked me if he could cut out from work that day. Figuring he still had some shopping to do I said sure.
“Do you need some money, or do you still have some left from Saturday?”
He sheepishly asked for more.
I gave him a fifty, “Need more?”
I gave him another fifty.
He gave me a big sloppy kiss. I was reminded of a scene from my childhood when my dad gave money to my mother for some fun shopping. It had just played out in front of me again twenty years later, except I was now my dad.
“I love you,” I told Tom, then put on my suit coat and overcoat.
“Call me during the day, OK?”
He called me at three in the afternoon. I asked him if he could get some things for dinner. He said he couldn’t, he still had lots to do.
“I trust you so I’ll just let you go. See you around seven. At least wash and soak the rice for me, OK.”
“Will do, and I did get more mineral water and milk.”
“Well that’s the heavy part of the shopping list. Thanks…I can’t wait.”
There was a moment of silence.
“Me neither,” he said with a giggle, “I love you.”
He then hung up.
“Vat, iz he your slave? Zat boy haz been verking hart all day.”
“No, Klaus, whatever he has been up to is a surprise to me.”
“Ooops, I zink I hear my vife.” Klaus shuffled down the hall and up the stairs.
I laughed to myself, walked back out to the front door and hit a rhythm on the door buzzer so Tom knew I was home, then sauntered down the hall. There was a simple wreath and red bow hanging on the door.
“Nice.” I opened the door wide to see a Christmas tree fully lit and decorated in front of the window in the living room.
“Wow! Fantastic! Wow, this is great! Tom, you wonderful man, where are you?”
As I put the groceries down on the kitchen table, I noticed a glow out back. Going to the back door I saw that Tom had decorated the fence and the large bushes with lights.
“Tom! Where are you?”
I walked back to the living room and looked down the hall. The bedroom was aglow with lights and candles so I slowly walked down and looked in. Tom was naked and adorned in lights lying on the bed with a big smile. I could not get undressed fast enough.
I couldn’t believe we didn’t electrocute ourselves the way we got tangled in the lights during our passion.
I began to get dinner ready at nine. I sautéed some vegetables and put them over rice with a simple sauce as Tom made a salad. We sat on the couch and ate with our feet up staring at the tree.
“Thank you, you’re fabulous.”
“You’re welcome, … and because I love you.”
I looked at him with a silly face.
“That was your next question, right?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Well I truly did do it because I love you but there’s one more reason too. Pete, I know you were planning on us doing this together this weekend, but I have never been allowed to touch a Christmas tree. It came out of the box. Mom and Dad always had a drunken fight over it. It always looked like shit…like a drunk did it. Go figure. I’ve always known since I was five that I could do it better than them. I tried to help but all I got was black and blue somewhere. I had something to prove to myself and you made it all possible. And all the tearing around, sweat and swear words were all worth it when you came through the door and said, ‘Wow, Fantastic!’ I thought my heart was going to burst!”
“I love you, Tom! You are fantastic! Come on, show me the back yard.”
We got up and pulled on some jeans, our sneaks and a heavy coat and went out the door. He led me around telling me why he did certain things. I loved the way he lit the rhododendron bush from behind and the way he scalloped the string of lights along the back wall not in equal loops but proportional ones that corresponded to the garden below and to the string of lights itself. It was beautiful…and intelligent. As we sat getting our butts cold on the bench I made from an old slate sidewalk paver I pointed with my finger at the back stairs. There was just a single small white light underneath.
“You didn’t let the light go out,” he said softly.
“It burns bright now,” I said.
He put his head on my shoulder for a minute then turned to me with a devious grin, “I was going to turn it into a crèche, but…”
We both started laughing out loud.
“…but I couldn’t get the face on the Baby Jesus to look like me!”
“You cheeky bastard.” I dove on top of him.
We fell to the bricks and wrestled around laughing. We heard a window squeak up.
“Vat iz goink on down zer?”
“Sorry, Klaus, just foolin’ around.”
“Gut, I zot zer vas trouble…Vife likes your lights, dey gut!”
“Thank you, Klaus,” Tom called out.
He shut the window. We lay on our backs listening to the crinkle of dried leaves beneath us as we moved ever so slightly. We still giggled here and there as we stared up at the stars, our fingers intertwined.
Christmas was a series of celebrations.
At one point Tom turned to me and said, “Will it ever end? I’m whacked.”
The two of us were up at five that the morning for a short yoga session before opening our presents. It was the first time either of us had Christmas naked. We sat down at the base of the tree surrounded by the presents. We glowed in the golden orange light from the strings of bulbs. Tom knew my love of photos of the people I love and the first present he gave me was a framed set of two series of four photos side by side he took of himself in a photo booth. They were taken the day I encouraged him to get a hair cut two days after we had met, one set was before the hair cut; the other was after. I stared at it for at least five minutes before I got up, walked to the bedroom and put it on the bedside table. I hung Dan’s watch with the two bands from the corner of the frame. Tom, who had followed me in there, began to cry and hugged me.
“I didn’t want to get that haircut. I was resentful of you for suggesting it. I wanted to prove to you that it was a bad idea. So I took the pictures as a comparison, but you were right, I looked a hell of a lot better after. I almost tore them up I was so mad, but then I thought of you and all the photos you have of your friends. I saved ‘em because I wanted to be on your walls too. And then you put it next to your pillow and hung the most precious things you own on it…”
Tom dissolved into tears.
“Those four items are now my most precious things. That is the best thing you could ever have given me today. I love you.”
We walked back to the living room. We could hear German Christmas carols coming through the ceiling and started to laugh.
I gave Tom the first of two intertwined presents. The first was a complete drafting tool set, a classic like the ones that had been in use for a hundred years. It had a series of compasses, dividers, ruling pens plus I gave him mechanical pencils, rapidiograph pens, scales and triangles, all of the essential tools to draw with. The glee and seriousness with which he took them out of their inset outlined spaces and held them and then returned them to their original space was bordering on religious.
“These are really mine?”
“Just for you…drawing lessons begin at eight tomorrow morning…just kidding.”
“No, that would be great! I can’t wait. I’ve stared at your set of tools so many times…don’t give me that look you bastard, I’m being serious here…”
We both started laughing. He placed the drafting set down softly and jumped on top of me.
“Silly boy,” he said tickling me.
“I’m sorry, now stop, please.”
He stopped. We lay on the floor.
“I know, I’ve seen you sit at my drafting table here and look over the whole surface and then stare at the drafting set that my father gave me, which was his, whose father had given it to him and was his. I almost wrapped that one up but I still use it too much. You’ll need them in school. I thought it was best to get you a new set.”
“You’re right again, o-wise-one.”
“Wise ass, you are. So you’re OK with it?”
He kissed me.
“Good, now for the second half of the gift. Those three big boxes.”
He got up onto his knees, turned around and said with an impish grin staring at my crotch, “But I got one big box and it’s good enough for me!”
I smacked him with the back of my hand on his butt, “Get over there.”
He shuffled on his knees to the boxes.
“Now before you open them, the first present represented the past and present of architecture and you must learn how to use them well because the second present represents the future of architecture but you must know how to draw, always! Go for it.”
Tom looked at me thoroughly confused.
“Tear the paper, darlin’.”
He pulled the paper from the box.
“It’s…it’s a…it’s a...”
He tore the paper from the second box.
“It’s a computer. It’s a computer! Oh my God! This is fantastic, oh Pete!”
He turned and jumped on me.
“You are the best husband any man could have!”
“Now, you have to teach me how to use it ‘cause I haven’t a clue, and if you don’t know you need to learn so that you can teach me. I’ll teach you the old ways. You teach me the new. Deal?”
I looked at my watch.
“Oh shit, we’re supposed to be at the Steve and Katie’s in twenty minutes. We’ll open the rest tomorrow OK?”
“OK, but we need a photo first.”
“Sit in front of the tree.”
Tom came back with my camera on the tripod and set it up. He hit the timer button and jumped over the coffee table.
He sat down next to me put his arm around me and said, “Say ‘Our First Naked Christmas.’”
We did as the flash went off.
“Come on, shower time.”
He hoisted me to my feet and we were off. A half-hour later we were ringing the Thomases’ doorbell. My hair was half frozen.
“Unka Pete, Unka Tom” the little barefoot boy in his pajamas screamed as he ran in circles, “It Critmas! It Critmas!”
“Merry Christmas, Daniel,” Tom and I said in turn as we kneeled and kissed him.
Katie came bounding over, kissed, and hugged us too.
“Who’s had too much sugar this morning?”
“The big one over there decided to send him back to bed at four-thirty this morning with some chocolate to keep him quiet at least for another hour. Well, ten minutes later he’s bouncin’ off the walls. He’s already crashed, had a half hour nap and ready to do it all over again.”
“WooHoooo! Well I’m ready for another cup of coffee to keep me goin’.”
We set the shopping bags of presents down and Tom took off his coat and began to arrange them under the tree. Daniel kept finding the wrapping paper he liked, picking up the present and walking off with it.
“Hey, Daniel, come back, that’s Mom’s not yours.”
“Mine! From Santa!”
Tom and Daniel got lost in a battle of wits for a while and I went over and hugged and kissed Steve.
“Merry Christmas, Big One…actually you are gettin’ a bit big and soft about the middle. I thought she was talking about…”
“Pete,” Fitz called out, “don’t go there.”
“Been there, done that,” I whispered in Steve’s ear. He cracked up. “Seriously, Steve you are coming running with me.”
“Not in the cold I’m not. I’m too much of a Southern boy.”
“Hey, you have a gym with treadmills down in the basement of this building, for free! No Excuses!”
“Merry Fuckin’ Christmas to you too”
“We’ll start in January so you have a week or two to think about it.” He smiled and nodded his acceptance.
We all sat down to watch me spoil Daniel, and Steve, with more trains; a lot more trains. Stevie was happy with a stuffed Tiger I got him. I bought one for Vroom, Jeremy and my Dad too.
“What are we going to do with all of these trains, Pete?” Katie asked seriously.
“Build a train room,” I replied.
“Do we just stick that on the outside of the twenty-second floor?”
“Well, I could, but I don’t think the building would like it. Hmmmm, Katie, I’ve been thinking. It’s time we started looking for land for you to build that house I promised you. I need to do the same thing. I think that in less than five years we need to be living in those houses. We need to find room where grass and a pool and good schools are part of our lives. My opinion here, but I don’t think you want Daniel and Stevie to grow up in the city. And Steve needs to run a few miles to work every day anyway.”
Steve gave me the finger by scratching his nose.
“Where?” Steve asked.
“Good question. That’s been my stumbling block too. Is it Long Island, Connecticut, Westchester, New Jersey, New Orleans, Kalamazoo or do we all move to where Tim is?”
“No, ‘cause he’d move here the week before,” Fitz stated bluntly with a smirk.
For Katie, Tom and I picked out a pair of diamond earrings. She was thrilled.
“I am so glad I have more than one husband, especially ones who have great taste in jewelry!”
“Hey,” Steve protested.
“Like I said at our first Christmas, ya just gotta have a woman to give jewelry to.”
“You can give some to me,” Tom proposed.
“OK, but nothing you stick in your nose, tongue, lip, eyebrow or other body part besides the earlobe and NO Prince Albert!”
“Sheesh, lighten up Pete, I was talkin’ about a chain, a watch or even a…ring.” He winked at me. Then asked, “What’s a Prince Albert anyway.”
“I want to know too,” Katie said.
“Sorry, I’ve been livin’ in the East Village too long. I feel like I’m the only one left who isn’t pierced, tattooed, dyed and drug addicted down there sometimes. Oh, and a Prince Albert is where you have a hoop that goes in through the slit of your penis and out the bottom.
“I didn’t want to know that,” Katie screamed. Tom got ashen and looked like he was about to pass out. I grabbed hold of him.
“I guess you won’t be getting one of those, huh, darlin’.”
He shook his head.
We had brunch with them and kissed them good-bye.
“Tim will be here on Tuesday, late night. He’s comin’ over to hang out with you and the kids on Wednesday, right.”
“Yep, I can’t wait. He and I need to have a long talk.”
“I love you all,” Tom said.
“I luv you, Unka Tom.”
“Bye, y’all. We’ll see you on Saturday.”
We took a cab to Sammy and drove by the apartment to pick up the gifts. I love driving on Christmas day because we made it across town, through the tunnel and up the driveway of my parents’ house in less than forty-five minutes. We sped past a cop on the way too, but either he was in the Christmas spirit and let us go or he couldn’t believe a ’69 Beetle could do 85 MPH.
Tom was about to meet my entire family for the first time. I hadn’t even asked if Mom and Dad had explained Tom’s and my relationship to my brothers and sisters. Except for Jamie, I didn’t even know if they knew of Tom. Jamie would be there, alone, and he would come when he desired from his house across town. Jack, his wife and two kids would arrive from Delaware just before we did. Emily had arrived yesterday afternoon with her fiancé from Hartford and Julia flew in the night before from college. Tom and I would be able to have my old room; his room too. As we roared up the driveway and into the back I let go of any anxiety and was ready for fun.
When we opened the door we felt the blast of noise, activity and warmth. Sociable, her tail in helicopter mode, was the first to greet us with Mom a step behind.
“Hi, dear. Hi, Tom.” She kissed us both.
“Hey, Pete, how are ya? Tom, good to see ya again, Merry Christmas,” said Jamie who looked up from the kitchen table and then went back to reading the paper. I looked at Tom. He had a look of fear across his face.
“You OK?” I asked.
“What are all these people doing in my house,” he whispered with a grin.
Mom laughed, “Come on, meet the rest of the brood.”
We took off our coats and dropped off the bags near the tree in the dining room. Dad walked up behind us, put a hand on our shoulders and whispered into our ears, “Merry Christmas, guys.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Tom said.
Mom and Dad introduced Tom all around. Everyone greeted Tom with warmth. I guessed Mom and Dad must have explained the situation, so I was ready for more prezzies.
“Y’all ready to do this?” I asked.
“We’ve just been waitin’ on your ass to get here,” Jack said.
Tom got all the presents out of the bags and laid them out while the crew gathered around the tree and found their best vantage points to sit.
The gist of the commentary from my brothers and sisters was based around the year of my bad presents. Everything was compared to that year. It rubbed me the wrong way for the first couple of openings.
“Geez, this reminds me of home. Do your brothers always treat you like this?” Tom whispered in my ear.
“Yes, they’re still eight and ten…twenty years later,” I whispered back.
Tom wrinkled his brow and then handed Jamie his present from the two of us. Jamie’s tone immediately changed. His present was four history-based novels. I had gone with Tom’s suggestion. Tom had noticed the books Jamie had with him when he came over during the week he lived with Mom and Dad. Jamie would get lonely in his own home and come over most evenings to read and have dinner.
“These are really great Pete, Thanks. This is the next set that I wanted to read.”
“Don’t thank me, thank Tom, he picked ‘em out.”
I tossed Dad his stuffed tiger. He smiled but gave me a look of “What am I supposed to do with this?” He hugged it as a silly grin creased his face and then set it in his lap. Then Tom handed him his present. He held up the box and shook it gently. He was off on his game of guessing the present from its size, weight and sound of the shake. He rocked it back and forth a few more times.
“What do you think, Tiger? Huh? Did you say binoculars? I think that’s it,” he announced.
“Son of a bitch, he did it again. How does he do that,” I exclaimed.
Tom shrugged, “I didn’t tell a soul.”
“They’re for Princeton games,” I told Dad as he opened the box to check them out.
“Hey, these are nice ones. Thanks, Tom,” he said looking over his glasses at me with a smile. I smiled back.
Everyone had gotten a present for Tom. He and I were both thrilled. Clothes were the safe bet from them all, sweaters especially.
“Too bad I can’t wear any of this stuff to school,” Tom said with a bit of a frown.
“Well, at least ya didn’t get a school uniform as a present,” I replied.
“Wait…Uniform,” Jack yelled.
“Yeah, I start school in January. Pete got me into a private high school. They wear uniforms.”
“HIGH SCHOOL! Pete!” Jack was dumbfounded.
Obviously Mom and Dad had left out some information.
“Jack, yes, Tom is a junior in high school.”
Hey,” Dad said sternly, “Cut it out Jack. There is nothing wrong with this. We’ve talked it through. They are doing it the right way. Let it go.”
Jack sat back down and stewed for a while.
We finished the presents and spread out in the house while Mom got lunch ready. I talked to Jack about Tom. I told him the story of how we met and the dealings with his father. I told him that I loved Tom and couldn’t wait till he turned seventeen…although here in New Jersey it was sixteen and would be legal anyway. I hated to lie to him but I didn’t want to explain everything to everyone; not today anyway.
“You’re still fucked up. Why can’t you have a normal relationship like everyone else?”
“It wouldn’t be as much fun,” I smiled.
Tom walked up. I put my arm around his waist.
“I’m sorry, Tom. I hope I didn’t upset you…But Pete is forever full of surprises and they always catch me off guard. Ya gotta admit you’re on the edge though.”
“It’s OK, Jack. We know and we talk about it, but we go by our gut feelings in the end. I love your brother more than I knew was possible.”
“I love him too, the crazy ass fool.”
I looked at Jack with complete surprise. He had never said anything like that about me to my face before.
“Yeah, the accident made me realize that I do care very much about you.”
“And it took you four years to say something?”
“I still get weepy when I think about Dan and Jason…and almost losing you. It’s not easy.”
“Thanks, Jack.” Better than never, I thought.
I sat next to Tom looking at an encyclopedia of gardening I had gotten from Emily while he called his parents. He had the present they sent him on his lap. He wanted to open it over the phone with them. They had just gotten up and were getting ready to open presents when he called. It was two-thirty in the afternoon. They chatted normally for a little while. He told them he was here with my whole family and that there were twelve of us and a dog.
“Yes, it’s a bit much but I’m getting used to it.”
He smiled at me. He opened his present. It was a sketchbook and some pencils. Nothing fancy, but the thought was right. I think Tom thought that this was the best present he could have gotten from them. They were coming around to him instead of dictating to him. He had sent them a framed photo of him that I had taken two weeks ago sitting in the Autumn morning sun on our back porch.
“Wow, you’ve grown up,” they said.
The talked some more. Tom decided to cut it short though. He told them that he would call on New Year’s Eve. He told them he loved them and they told him they missed him. He said good-bye and hung up.
“I caught that just right, in between the anger of the hangover and the first drink. I could hear Dad crack the label on a new bottle of scotch, his ‘Christmas Scotch’ as he always called it.”
Tom and I called Mom and Dad Elliot. We talked while we opened the presents we had given each other. My mom and dad joined us. They had sent presents too. We all missed them. I said they should come up and join the zoo here for Christmas next year. They said they would think about it. I think it was a daunting thought for them considering all of the noise and insanity that reign during the holidays here.
I called Jeremy to see if they still wanted us to come out to his house.
“Come on, come on, you two. See you in half an hour, OK.”
We told Mom and Dad we would be back for dinner then packed up the two tigers and got in the Bug.
I found the narrow paved drive between the boulder and the Elm tree and turned in. It wound through a grove of huge pine trees for a few hundred feet till it opened to reveal a huge Tudor home.
“Oh, man,” I said as I peeked over to Tom.
“Holy Shit,” he said and looked at me, “Jeremy does not seem like he grew up here. He’s too down to earth.”
“Not what I expected, that’s for sure,” I replied.
I parked Sammy at the base of the three stone steps that led to the front door. I waited for Tom to come around the Beetle and we walked up the stairs together. We saw a figure, then two, appear on the far side of the mammoth leaded glass and wood door. It swung open. Jeremy, with a huge grin, reached around the doorframe and hit the doorbell. It gonged!
“Enter,” he said in his deepest voice.
It echoed down the hall. He and Vroom broke out in laughter.
“Been into the eggnog, huh,” I stated.
They smiled and hugged us.
I kissed them and said, “Merry Christmas. I guess things have gone well with the introductions. You’re not in the dungeon.”
“It’s been a GREAT Christmas,” Jeremy said, “Things are just…the best!”
Our footsteps resounded around the hall as we turned right into the living room. It made my jaw drop. It was at least thirty feet wide and more than eighty feet long. The ceiling was peaked with massive carved wooden trusses whose lowest points were more than twenty-five feet in the air. The huge fire in the carved sandstone fireplace burned brightly. You could almost stand in the firebox. There was a large, heavy wood table, covered in food, to our right in front of a bank of leaded glass windows. I counted four furniture settings with a couch, two or three comfy side chairs and tables. The far end of the room was semicircular. A built in bench with deep green leather cushions sat below the leaded glass windows that stretched up to the trusses. A huge pool table sat at the center of the arc. A fifteen foot tall Christmas tree was to its right.
“Holy Shit,” Tom whispered in my ear.
“That’s exactly what I said,” John responded.
Only then did I notice that there were eight other people in the room. Two, who I assumed to be Jeremy’s parents, moved our way.
“Mom, Dad, these are our good friends Pete Langer and Tom Petersen.”
“Glad to meet you two,” his dad said as he shook our hands, “Did you say that he is Peter’s son?”
Tom and I looked at each other wide-eyed.
“No, no, Dad,” he said with a laugh, “Petersen is his last name…Hadn’t thought about that before. It’s ironic, huh?”
Vroom looked at me, “Never gonna live that one down.”
“And don’t you perpetuate it, thank you.”
“Sorry, Pete, Tom. I didn’t think you were old enough to have such a handsome son.”
“Thank you,” we replied simultaneously.
“You two are a couple, I assume,” Mrs. Sweeton said.
“Well, only in the state of New Jersey,” Tom said with a wry grin.
“Mom, remember, I explained all of this.”
“I know. This is all too new to me.”
“Mrs. Sweeton, it’s OK. It took my parents a few years till it all seemed quite natural. I was in college too when I came out to my parents.”
“You’re not still with that boy?”
“No…he died in a car accident four years ago.”
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” she said sincerely. Mr. Sweeton shook his head gently.
“Me too,” I said simply, “but life continues.”
We look up to see an elderly woman move surely toward us with her cane in hand. She didn’t use the cane, just carried it.
“Won’t treat your elders with respect and come to me. So I’m comin’ to you!” It was Jeremy’s great aunt, Florence.
“We’re sorry Aunt Flo,” Mr. Sweeton said.
“It’s OK, Corky, I got to keep moving or else they’ll put me in a box.”
“Not this century, Aunt Flo,” Jeremy said seriously.
“So, these are your boyfriend’s best friends. Glad to meet you. I’m Florence Crater. Call me Flo, though.” She stuck out her hand.
“Nice to meet you, Ma’am,” I said.
“Flo,” she said.
“Glad to meet you…Flo,” Tom said with a smile.
“You are a cutie,” she said as she squeezed his upper arm. Tom winced in pain. He still was sore way down deep from the day at the train station with his father.
“Yes, he is,” Jeremy replied.
David Sweeton walked up.
“I want to introduce you to the best little…sorry…best brother I guy could have. Pete, Tom this is David. David, Pete Langer and Tom Peterson.”
“Hi, David, I’m glad to finally meet you,” I said.
“Hey, David,” Tom said shyly.
“Let me fix you all something to drink, and please, sit. Pick a venue,” Mr. Sweeton said with a laugh.
We sat and chatted for a while and went for a couple of passes at the food table. Tom and David made friends quickly and went off to play pool. I was happy for him to have someone his age to talk to. I talked about the firm I worked for with Mr. Sweeton. His family’s financial company was expanding and taking an additional whole floor of a downtown office building. I made an appointment with him to see our company’s portfolio and walk some office spaces that we have done. I thought to myself that if I kept saying and doing the right things over the next couple of weeks I could come back with a huge job for my firm. I kept thinking of how Jason would approach the conversation. I’m OK around friends, but I am just not assertive around strangers, especially about business. Jason taught me by the examples he set in being himself. All I had to do was remember.
I also had a long talk with Flo, Jeremy and John. She was so proud that we were open about being gay to each other, to our families and at work. She thought it was so amazing.
“See, tell that to David, so he’s not so afraid,” she said.
“What…I’m confused,” I said.
“The long talk,” Jeremy said, “David came out to me, John and Flo. He still wants to keep it under wraps though for the moment. I told him he shouldn’t but I said I would respect his decision till he said otherwise. He said to tell you.”
“I guess he’ll tell Tom or it’s OK if I do, huh?”
“I would have to say yes to that. I’m not going to tell you to keep secrets from Tom. I love your lesson of ‘No Secrets’ between friends. It’s why our relationship gets stronger.” He smiled at Vroom.
“Not my lesson. That credit goes to Dan. I’m just the keeper of the faith.”
“Ah, geez, we should be drivin’ up the driveway,” I said as I looked at my watch.
“This has been a great afternoon, Jeremy, Flo and…Sweetie,” I said and leaned over and kissed John.
“Hey, Sweetie is Sweetie…not me,” John said.
I laughed and said, “Oh my God, I forgot to give you your gifties. These are just the fun ones. I have some others still in New York when you come in on Saturday, OK! Hey, Tom, David,” I called across the room.
They ran over laughing.
“Sorry to interrupt your game but we need to get goin’.”
“That’s OK, Pete. We were just havin’ fun. Tom is such a cool guy,” David said.
I nodded. I handed the shopping bag with a bow to the guys.
“Sorry, David. I owe you,” I said.
“Meeting a good friend that’s the best present you can get,” David proclaimed.
“You’ve got that right, young man,” Aunt Flo said rubbing David’s cheek with her knuckles.
John and Jeremy pulled their matching tigers out of the bag and instantly hugged them.
“This is great, Pete, Tom. These are perfect because since we still don’t live together and talk a lot on the phone and sometimes we’ve both commented about needin’ a ‘sub’ to hug while we talk. So these are perfect,” Vroom said excitedly.
Jeremy nodded his head as he nuzzled the tiger and then leaned over and kissed us both. We all hugged each other. I found Mr. and Mrs. Sweeton to say good-bye. I called Mom so she wouldn’t worry. She said it wasn’t a problem; she was just getting dinner started because my aunt, uncle and cousins had arrived and were staying for dinner. I told her we would be there in about half an hour. She hoped we were having a good Christmas. I told her it was the best. I could tell from her voice that she was so happy to have me happy again, especially at Christmas. She told me that Tim had called to wish Tom and me a Merry Christmas. Now I was even happier.
It was eight o’clock by the time we sat down to eat. After dinner and dessert we sat and talked some more with my cousins.
During a break when Tom and I walked into the kitchen for some water he turned to me and said with exasperation, “When is Christmas going to end? I’m whacked. I’ve had entirely too much fun. Really, this is more fun than all of the Christmases I’ve ever had put together.”
I smiled at him, “Hey, next year we’ll get up at midnight so that we can have a 24-hour Christmas instead of just a piddly 19-hour one.”
He put his arms around me. “You’re the best, Love.”
It was after midnight when I said goodnight to my brother, his wife and my sister Emily and her fiancé. I knew it was time when Tom, asleep, started drooling down my shoulder.
“One word from you Jack and I’ll knock you into next week,” I said with humor.
His wife Beth said, “He does it himself. So I’ll make fun of him if he tries.”
“Thanks, dear, love you too,” Jack said with soft sarcasm. Emily and Kevin just laughed.
“Come on, Tom, wake up. Time for bed.”
“Wha…oh God. Ewww…Sorry.”
“Still love you. I’m whacked too, time to sleep. I want to get into the city before late afternoon. We still have prezzies to open.”
“What?” Jack exclaimed.
“We didn’t have enough time to open more than half of our presents this morning before we were already behind in our scheduled rounds. So we get to have Part II tomorrow, Part III on Saturday with John and Jeremy and then Part IV when Tim comes next week.”
“Wow, my kids would love you…the never ending Christmas,” Beth said.
“I’ve got a big family,” I said smiling as I led Tom toward the front stairs, “Night, y’all.”
We slept late, through two alarms of sniffing cold nose and slurping wet tongue. Sociable got me awake the third time. It was ten AM. I could hear the rest of the family wide awake and getting on with their day. We must have been worn out; neither of us tended to sleep this late, ever. Tom had a hard-on. I slowly stroked him to reality. He craned his head toward me and began to nibble on my lower lip.
“Let’s get in the bath and shake the cobwebs out.”
“Hmmm-mmmm…OK,” Tom mumbled.
I rolled out of bed and stood up. I flicked the door closed. I offered Tom my hand. He snaked across the bed, lifted his head and swallowed my cock.
“Mmmmmm,” we both said.
“Come on, into the bath before the door flies open again.”
Tom released me and stood up on the bed. I saw Dad turn into the drive.
“Ooops, I think we might be getting’ the shade lecture again.”
Tom turned to look out the window. We laughed. Dad enjoyed telling that story about seeing Jason’s bobbing butt in the window. I don’t believe that Dad realized Jason was fucking his son as hard as he could at the time. Tom jumped into my arms and I carried him into the bath.
After lunch we made two trips to load our booty into Sammy and said our good-byes. We promised to drive back out on Sunday morning for brunch before the family dispersed up and down the Northeast Coast again.
Dad gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “Shade, Pete, shade. Or do I have to label that window the ‘Porno Channel of Langer TV.’”
“Love you, Dad.”
It took us over two hours to get home. A tractor-trailer had overturned spilling hundreds of crates of live chickens across the highway.
We spent afternoon opening the rest of the presents. Tom was absolutely beside himself when he opened the boxes that contained his drafting board and table. He immediately began to set it up. We completely rearranged the living room, which was now more of an office with a couch. We set our desks up at ninety degrees to one another, corner to corner. His back toward the bookcase and mine toward the windows. He got Jason’s stool to sit on. We set up the computer on the coffee table.
“We need to do some furniture shopping,” Tom suggested.
“Yes, we need a table to go in the corner between our two tables and a computer desk where the tree is.”
I looked up to see Tom sitting at and smiling over the top of the drafting table. It would soon become the standard view I would have of him.
I walked around and put my arms over his shoulders.
He tilted his head back, looked at me upside down and said, “Love you.”
We stared at one another for a few moments.
“And I can feel that you have another present for me…the one that keeps on giving…let’s go for it,” he said quietly.
He stood and then we walked embraced into the bedroom.
After we emerged from the bedroom and ate a simple dinner we sat at our desks and drew till well past two in the morning. Talking and drawing together would now become as much of a staple of our relationship as yoga had before.