By Tim Mead
The usual disclaimers apply. Don't read this if for some legal reason you shouldn't. Remember the work is under copyright and thus belongs to me. No reposting without permission.
As far as the staff in Ben's department was concerned, Kristian Anders would have to prove himself. They had all truly liked Sharon, so the new boss was definitely on probation. By the end of the first week, however, he had them all eating out of his hand. Almost. Phil Massini continued to be sullen and defensive, a constant thorn in Ben's flesh, and he spent a lot of time sucking up to Anders. But, Ben admitted, Anders had done a wonderful job of making the staff feel at ease and appreciated. The test, of course, would come later, when he had to make hard decisions. Annual performance reviews didn't come up until July, so he had a reprieve there. Ben was happy about that, too, because if the reviews had come earlier, he'd have had to do them since Anders could legitimately claim he hadn't been there long enough to evaluate anyone.
But the problem Ben had feared was indeed there. Anders was not only charming, he was sexy. Several of the women in the office were said to be crushed when he let it be known that he was gay. And since Ben continued to be Deputy PIO after Anders took over the top spot in the department, the two men were together, usually in Anders' office, several times a day. Ben forced himself to be professional, as did Anders. They were cordial, they worked well enough together, but there was a distance between them because both seemed to realize the potential problem.
Toward the end of the first week of January Clark emailed Ben the details of Romance Ink's offer for the new book. Ben was under contract to write it, but Clark had managed somehow to get them to come across with a significantly better financial offer than they had originally agreed to – all contingent on Ben's willingness to guarantee them his next book under the same terms. He thought about it for a while and decided there was no reason why not. Clark sent him the new documents overnight. He had to have his signature notarized, but that was no problem since there were several notaries in the Court House.
Ben found himself more relaxed around Toby. Although the younger man had never admitted that he was in love with Ben, it was difficult not to remember what Bruce had said on New Year's Eve. More important, however, was that Toby had been a good friend, finding and returning Mr. Tibbs after he'd run away, nursing Ben through his nearly week-long bout with the flu, popping over several evenings a week just to say hello and see how Ben was.
Ben didn't see the guys across the street much in the mornings, for January had turned out to be a snowy month, the streets and sidewalks not usually safe for running. They'd made a custom of getting together on Friday evenings, however, though Bruce frequently either had a date or other plans. Ben couldn't help wondering if Bruce's absences were designed to leave him with Toby.
Ben was surprised to realize that he was comfortable with all of this. Having friends, someone to talk with, to go for a beer with, to share a home-cooked meal with, to take in a ballgame or a movie with – all this was, he'd come to see, infinitely better than isolating himself. And the guys across the street were such good company that he seldom thought any more about the difference between his age and theirs.
He'd begun to think that Bruce must simply have been wrong about Toby's feelings. Though Toby was consistently upbeat and friendly, concerned and caring, he never did anything to indicate feelings deeper than those of friendship.
As time passed, Ben discovered to his surprise that he might be developing feelings for Toby. Although his field was computers, Toby read books, kept up on current events, enjoyed music and theater. `After all,' Ben said to himself, `Toby and Bruce are close friends. If he were shallow or just a computer geek, he'd not have much to offer Bruce, who obviously enjoys his roommate's company and cares about him.'
And then there was Mr. Tibbs, who obviously adored Toby. When Toby was in the house, Ben didn't exist so far as Tibbs was concerned. Of course, Toby never failed to make a fuss over the cat when he was there, but so did Bruce. Yet Tibbs seemed to have two special humans, Ben's nephew Hal and Toby Taba.
"So, Mr. Tibbs, what should I do? You seem to like the young stud. Should I try to push things with him to see how he feels, or just let things go along as they are and see what happens?"
"Yeow," Mr. Tibbs answered before stalking regally from the room.
For the last year, more or less, Ben had masturbated three or four times a week, usually at night, usually to help himself get to sleep. That's why he was surprised when one morning he awoke before the alarm went off, sweating, his erection being much more intense than his usual morning wood. And he remembered vividly the dream from which he had just awakened. He had been slithering around on a wrestling mat or something of the sort with his boss, Trent, and Toby. All were naked, a writhing mass of sweaty limbs, sucking mouths, erupting cocks.
He took a cold shower and went on with his day.
When the dream recurred twice more, he thought, `I need to get laid.' He also found himself frequently masturbating in the morning, reliving the dream in his jack-off fantasies.
* * *
One evening toward the end of February Ben had just gotten home. He'd hung up his overcoat and gone to his bedroom to change into jeans and a sweatshirt. The phone rang. It was Toby.
"Ben, can I come over for a minute?"
"I'm surprised you even called. Come ahead."
"Great. Be right there."
He'd hardly put down the phone when he heard Toby stamping on the stoop to get the snow off his shoes. He opened the door, and the younger man, looking ruddy from the cold, stepped inside.
Toby kicked off his sneakers and put them on a mat beside the door. Then the two hugged. Hugs had become the usual thing when Ben saw either Toby or Bruce, though there was a distinct difference in them. There was usually some space between Bruce and Ben when they hugged. He and Toby, on the other hand, usually enjoyed as much full-length contact as possible. Those hugs were the only time the two touched each other, and both of them seemed to enjoy it.
"I was about to get myself a glass of wine. Would you like one?"
"Sounds great, Ben, but Bruce is waiting for me. We're having an early supper and then we've both got shitloads of work to do. No rest for weary TA's you know."
Ben chuckled. "I'll take your word for it. So, what's up?"
"I wanted to ask a favor, but if it's not convenient, or you don't want to or something, it's okay." He looked uncomfortable.
"Come on, Taba, you know if you need something from me, I'll be glad to help."
"Well, I was wondering if I could use your spare room Friday and Saturday night."
"No problem. What's going on?"
"Bruce's little brother and a buddy are coming for the weekend. They go to Purdue, and Saturday afternoon the Boilermakers are playing here. They want to go to the game. Apparently a bunch of their friends are coming, and they've been invited to a party at the local chapter of their fraternity Saturday night. They said one of them could use the couch and the other would sleep on the floor, but I thought maybe I'd just as soon not be there and one of them could use my bed."
"You're welcome here. I hope you know that."
Toby smiled, eyes twinkling. "Thanks, Ben. Randy's a kind of a smartass jerk. Don't know how he and Bruce could come from the same parents. And I'd just rather not be there when he's around."
"How will Bruce feel if you bunk here for the weekend?"
"Jealous, probably. He loves Randy, but he doesn't enjoy his company any more than I do."
Ben chuckled. "Well, he can come over here, too. If he doesn't want to share your bed, he's welcome to the couch."
"Thanks. I'll tell him. But I suspect he'll want to stay there just to make sure the party animals don't destroy our house."
"You've still got a key to this place, haven't you?"
"Feel free to use it. But I assume you and I will be having supper together Friday and Saturday. There'll be stuff in the kitchen for breakfast in case we don't get up at the same time, okay?"
"Cool! I'll see you Friday when you get home from work." He stood up and put on his shoes. Then he grabbed Ben into another hug.
"You're the best, Ben. Bye." And he was gone.
After feeding Tibbs and fixing himself some supper, Ben spent most of the evening on his computer, reading everything he could about Hawaii. He'd been to the other locales for his Witherspoon books, but if he was going to write believably with a Hawaiian setting, he was going to have to do a lot of research.
`The best thing would be to pick an island and spend some of my vacation there,' he thought. `But that wouldn't be any fun alone. Wonder if Toby has relatives there?'
* * *
On Thursday night he put fresh linens on the bed in the guest room and left clean towels on the chest of drawers. He gave the hall bathroom a careful cleaning, though it was seldom used. He thought he and Toby could decide what to do about Friday evening's meal when they were together, but he made sure there were lamb chops in the fridge if they decided to stay in. He made dinner reservations at Adrian's for Saturday night.
`Why are you so nervous? Why are you making such a fuss? Toby's just looking for a place to sleep.'
`Yeah, yeah. But I've never properly shown him how much I appreciate his friendship, have I?'
* * *
Friday afternoon about 4:00 Kris Anders came into Ben's cubicle. He'd left his suit coat in his office. After he'd flopped into the chair beside Ben's desk, he spread his legs wide, showing an impressive package even through his dress slacks.
"What's on your weekend agenda?" he asked with a smile that made Ben's dick twitch.
"Nothing much." He didn't see any reason to go into Toby's visit and the reasons for it.
"Me neither. Wanna get together Saturday and do something?"
"Some other time, maybe?"
"I thought you said you didn't have much going on."
"Well, what I meant was there's nothing special going on. But my Saturdays are busy enough that I'd need some notice before I did anything out of the ordinary."
Ben knew that was lame, but he couldn't think of anything better on the spur of the moment. Anders merely smiled and said, "Oh, okay. Another time perhaps."
"Okay. Have a good one." Anders stood and left the cubicle.
After he was gone, Ben cursed himself for being so clumsy in his refusal. The man was friendly – and incredibly sexy. `Why not spend some time with him?'
`You know very well why. You don't want to get close to anyone!'
That cautionary voice was not in Ben's head as he closed down his computer and put things in order before leaving for the weekend. Instead, he was happy at the thought that Toby would be spending some of the weekend with him.
When he came into the house from the garage, Toby was standing at the kitchen counter chopping vegetables. He hung his keys on their hook, hung up his coat, and then got a hug from Toby.
"What are you doing in my kitchen?" he whispered in Toby's ear.
"I picked up the fixin's for a stir-fry this afternoon. I hope that's okay."
"Sure, it's okay. I thought we'd eat out this evening, but stir-fry sounds good. What can I do to help?"
"Let's have a glass of wine and sit for a while. Everything's ready to go here. All we have to do is put the heat on under the rice."
"I found some Kendall-Jackson cabernet and opened it to breathe. I hope that meets with your approval."
"Why don't you go change out of your office duds? I'll have some wine and snacks in the living room when you get back."
"Man, I could get used to this," Ben said. He swatted Toby on the rump as he went to change, thinking that this really was nice. `Too nice. It's not gonna be permanent. No way!'
As they were having their wine with rice crackers and crab dip, something else Toby had "picked up" that afternoon, Toby asked, "Ben, I saw a picture of your new boss in the paper the other day. Is he as hot as he looks in that photo?"
Ben took a bite of his dip-laden cracker and then a sip of wine. He wasn't sure what to say to Toby. And then he wondered why he was unsure. Deciding that honesty was the way to go, he said, "Yeah, he's pretty sexy."
"Pity he's not gay."
"Who says he's not?"
"You mean he is?"
"Yeah, he told everyone around the Court House that he's gay when he came on board. Of course he told me when he was here for his interview."
Toby's face fell. "So, are you and he gonna get it on? Or maybe you already have."
"Toby, if anyone else had asked me that, I'd have said it was none of their business. Since you're a good friend, I'll answer it. Kris is a very attractive man. But he's my boss. And having an office affair is a pretty bad idea. So, the answer to your question, honestly, is that I get some discomfort in the crotch sometimes when he's around, but we aren't `fooling around.'"
Toby's nonchalance seemed a bit forced when he said, "Well, man, it's about time you forgot about Trent and found yourself another guy. And if this Kris is all that hunky, why not?"
"Can we change the subject, please? Is it time to put the water on under the rice?"
"If you want. Where's your wok? Or should I just use a skillet?"
"Let's see if we can find the wok."
After they had eaten Toby's delicious stir-fry followed by a pineapple sorbet he'd gotten at the supermarket, they cleaned up the kitchen and took coffee into the living room.
"So, did Bruce's brother and his friend arrive?"
"I made a point of leaving before they got there, but I saw Randy's car in the driveway a while ago. I think Bruce was going to take them to Damon's for ribs."
"You really don't like Randy, do you?"
"You know, Tobe, Randy's the first person I've ever heard you say you disliked."
"I shouldn't say that about Bruce's brother, I suppose. Bruce is such a great guy. I really don't know how he and that arrogant prick can be brothers."
"Randy wouldn't be a bit homophobic, would he?"
Toby grinned. "Well, yeah, there is that."
They watched something on the History Channel and then a stand-up comedy program on Comedy Central. Ben sat on the sofa, offering Toby his favorite spot, the recliner. Toby said he'd rather sit on the sofa with Ben. Mr. Tibbs spent most of the evening on Toby's lap or curled up on the back of the sofa around his shoulders. At first they were on either end of the sofa, but after Toby had been to the bathroom, he sat down next to Ben. By 11:00 Toby's head was resting on Ben's shoulder and he was asleep.
Ben nudged him gently. "Hey, tiger, maybe we should call it a day, huh?"
"Wha? Oh, Ben, I'm sorry, man. Didn't mean to conk out on ya."
"No problem. But the bed's lot's more comfortable than my shoulder."
Toby gave him a sleepy grin. "Oh, I dunno. I thought that shoulder was pretty nice."
As they hugged goodnight, Toby gave Ben a quick peck on the lips. "Thanks, Ben, for letting me stay here this weekend."
"It's good to have you here, Tobe. Yell if you need anything. See you in the morning."
As he drifted off to sleep, Ben was thinking how comfortable he'd been with Toby sitting close to him, with the younger man's head on his shoulder.
The next morning since it was still too snowy and slippery to run, Ben invited Toby to come to his gym, where he could take him in as a guest. They changed and then split up to do their different routines. They finished together on the free weights so they could spot for each other. As he lay on the weight bench, he looked up to see Toby's package nicely presented from a very revealing angle, the bulging jock hanging down the right leg of the skimpy gym shorts. It hadn't occurred to him, but he supposed Toby had had a similar view a little earlier when their roles had been reversed.
In the shower he got his first look at the naked Toby. With his short black hair plastered against his head and his body glistening with water, he was the picture of the diver he had been in high school and college. Ben had originally thought Toby might have been a gymnast, but seen naked, he obviously wasn't as bulky in the shoulders and chest as a gymnast. His body looked sleeker, especially when seen wet. The jet black pubes were neatly trimmed, and if Toby had a "happy trail" he obviously kept it shaved off.
It took a good deal of control for Ben not to throw wood as they showered together, especially when he noticed that Toby was obviously checking him out.
"What?" Toby asked, grinning.
"You like what you see?"
"Oh, yes. Do you? I saw you looking me over."
"Yeah, I do. But we shouldn't be having this conversation. Somebody might come in."
"Okay, conversation over. But we can still look." Another big grin.
After they left the gym, they split up. Toby said he had errands to run and things to catch up on.
"What are we doing this evening? Can I take you somewhere to dinner? I'd like to pay you back for letting me spend the weekend at your place."
"Nope, I'm taking you to dinner. At Adrian's, so you might want to pop in at home and get yourself something appropriate to wear."
"Adrian's? Wow! That's pretty expensive. What's the occasion?"
"I'll explain tonight, okay? Are the clothes a problem?"
"Not really. Is my blazer okay, or should I wear my suit?"
"The blazer's fine. I'll wear one, too."
"Cool. I still don't know why you're doing this. Adrian's is a big fuckin' deal."
Ben slapped him on the bottom and said, "I'll be home the rest of the afternoon. Come back whenever you want. Our reservations are for 7:00."
"Great. See ya later, Ben."
As they waited in line behind a silver Beemer to get to the valet station in front of the restaurant, Ben thought again how shabby his four-year-old car was looking. He wondered what people would think if he bought a nice new car.
He noticed that Raul, the regular maitre d', a dark haired, dark-skinned hunk with a pencil thin mustache, was on duty. But then it was Saturday, no doubt the restaurant's biggest night of the week, so they'd have the first string out. As they were led to their table, Raul said, "Mr. Lynch says to tell you he's sorry his table isn't available this evening."
"That's quite all right. I hadn't requested a special table. But please thank Mr. Lynch for me."
"He'll probably stop by to welcome you himself, so you can thank him then, if you wish, Mr. Moss."
After they were seated and their wine requests taken, Toby said, "They treat you like a celebrity, Ben!"
"I think the aim here is to treat everyone like a celebrity. It's the pampering as much as the excellent food that causes people to pay these prices."
"But you didn't have to tell the maitre d' who you are. Do you come here often?"
"Trent and I used to come here fairly often. And my brother loves to come here when he and his wife are in town. I was here with Trent before the holidays, but a different guy was at the front desk that day. They just manage to keep tabs on people, I suppose."
"Well, I'm impressed. Now, would you explain why you're blowing all this money on me?"
Ben chuckled. "Right to the point, Mr. Taba."
Just then the server was back with the bottle of chardonnay Ben had ordered.
"Ah, perfect timing."
When the bottle opening and pouring had been taken care of, Ben continued.
"Toby, I wanted this evening to be a thank-you."
Toby looked surprised. "For what?"
"You've been a fantastic friend to me, better than I ever deserved. You've pulled me out of my cave, made me realize that I should take advantage of the pleasures of life, not just insulate myself from the world. One of the pleasures of life is friendship, and you're turning into one of my best friends."
He thought he saw a blush, despite Toby's dark skin.
Ben lifted his glass. "Besides that, you saved Mr. Tibbs! So, here's to you, buddy!"
Toby seemed floored. "Geez, Ben, I don't know what to say."
Chuckling, Ben said, "Now there's a switch. You're seldom at a loss for words."
"True. I'm just touched. I hope we really are good friends. And you could have just said what you did without bringing me here."
"Tobe, have I embarrassed you? If so, I'm sorry."
"Well, it's a good kind of embarrassed." He picked up his glass. "To our friendship."
"To our friendship."
A little later, as they were working on their dinners, a tall, dark-haired man about Ben's age, a hunk with intensely blue eyes, said, "Hi, Ben. Who's your friend?"
"Oh, hi, Adrian. This is Toby Taba. Toby, Adrian Lynch. Technically, I think it's Adrian Lynch, Jr."
Adrian smiled. "Yes, my father still insists that he's THE Adrian Lynch." He held out his hand. "Glad to know you Toby. No, please don't get up."
Toby bobbed up a little off his seat as he shook hands with Lynch and said he was glad to meet him.
"Are your meals okay?"
Both men assured him they were, and, thanking them for coming in, he moved on.
"God, he's as good looking as everyone says."
"He likes great looking young guys like you. Be careful."
"How do you know that?"
"Well, I don't know it from personal experience. But that's his reputation."
"I can see why a guy who looks like that and must have plenty of money wouldn't have any trouble finding a date."
After they were settled in Ben's car, he asked, "Are you ready to go home, or would you like to go look at the boys at Nelly's?"
"You make it sound like a freak show."
"Didn't mean to. I had in mind ogling the cute ones."
Toby laughed. "Then let's go ogle a while."
It was still early when they got there, so the big crowd hadn't arrived yet. They found a table where Ben sat while Toby went to the bar. He came back with the diet Coke Ben had requested and a lite beer for himself. The people in the booth behind them were talking about the game and by eavesdropping they learned Purdue had soundly beaten Colby State's Cougars that afternoon.
"Basketball fans at Nelly's?" Toby asked with a smirk.
"You're stereotyping!" Ben chided.
The smirk didn't entirely vanish, but Toby said "Woops" and had a swallow of his beer.
They stayed about an hour, chatting, people watching. Just as they were about to leave, Toby called Ben's attention to a couple who'd just come in and were looking around for a table.
"Isn't that Bruce's student from last semester, the one we were introduced to?"
"Yeah, Brady, or Cory, or something like that."
"Who's that stud with him?"
"That's Dave Cromer, of Cromer Landscaping."
"How do you happen to know him?"
"I don't really. But his company submitted a bid to landscape the new county office building, and I've seen him around the old building."
"Those two make a pretty hunky pair, don't they?"
"Oh, yeah, they're great looking. Do you suppose they are a couple?"
"I'd bet on it. Besides, they're here together, aren't they?"
"So are we, Toby."
"Shit! I'm doing it again. Sorry."
Ben motioned the two over. "We're just leaving, so this booth's available."
Both men thanked him. The blond looked as if he wanted to say something else, but didn't.
As they walked to the car, Ben chuckled. "I wasn't sure of the blond guy's name, and he looked as if he thought he should know me but couldn't remember who I am. And I'm sure that, though I recognized Cromer, he hasn't a clue who I am."
"It's a pity we didn't introduce ourselves," Toby said. "They might have turned out to be great guys, people we'd like to have as friends."
"Yeah," Ben agreed. "I wonder how many times we miss out on something because we don't seize the opportunity."
It was only about 10:00 when they got home. Tibbs appeared instantly, rubbing against Toby's leg, his tail erect, purring loudly.
"Toby, I'm going to get out of these clothes."
Toby grinned. "Okay by me."
"No," Ben said, embarrassed, "what I meant was I'm going to put on something more comfortable. I think some sweats and a tee."
"Oh, sounds like a plan. I'll just pull my jeans back on." A few minutes later he appeared barefoot in jeans and the white wifebeater which he'd been wearing under his dress shirt. Ben thought he looked delicious.
They sat together on the sofa and channel surfed for a while. Tibbs was on Toby's lap, acting as if he was prepared to spend the night there if allowed to. Ben found himself wishing Mr. Tibbs would climb onto his lap – not because he was jealous, but because Tibbs would hide the erection that had been tenting Ben's sweats ever since Toby came out of his bedroom.
"You want something to eat or drink, Tobe?"
"Not really, thanks. I know where everything is, though. Want me to go get you something?"
"Nope, I'm good, thanks."
Toby twisted his body so that his weight was on his side. Mr. Tibbs gave him a hurt look and jumped to the floor, where he stretched out.
Toby said, "You're good huh? Looks to me like you have a problem." He put his hand around Ben's hard dick and squeezed. Almost immediately a damp spot appeared in the sweatpants. "I've heard of Big Ben, but didn't know it was right across the street." He chuckled at his own joke. "Yeah, I'd say you have a problem."
"I, uh, well . . ." Ben cleared his throat. "Yeah, uh, I guess I do."
"When are you gonna let me read that novel?"
Startled, Ben croaked, "What novel?"
"Oh, come on, the novel about the gay guy, the one that you haven't been able to publish."
"You can read it any time you want. But why are you asking now?"
Toby smiled sweetly. "I just wondered how anybody as tongue tied as you just were could write decent fiction."
Recovering his poise, Ben smiled back and said, "I'd defy anyone to write decent prose when a hot hunk like you was playing with his cock."
"I wasn't playing with it. I was just holding it for you."
"You were damn well stroking it, mister."
He got an impudent look in response.
"So what if I was?"
"So two can play at that game. But we need a better playpen. Come with me." He took Toby's hand off his tool and stood up. There was a nice sized snake running down the leg of Toby's Levis. When Toby stood, Ben got behind him, put a hand on each hipbone, and steered him toward the bedroom.
They rather hurriedly undressed and pulled back the bedcovers. As they were standing hard cock to hard cock, Ben got a worried look on his face.
"Toby, I wouldn't want you to think I expect this of you because I took you out this evening or anything."
Toby kissed his finger and then put it on Ben's lips. "Shhh. Who grabbed whose cock?"
"So this is okay?"
As he pushed Ben back onto the bed, Toby replied, "Oh, it's more than okay. I've been waiting months for this." Then he grinned. "Let's see if we can't ring Big Ben's chimes!"
If you'd like to write me about this story, please do c/o firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put the name of the story in the subject line so I'llknow it isn't spam. Thanks. --Tim