by Tim Mead
Although logically it seemed that he should get to know Dave better first, somehow Brody was sure that he wanted to live with Dave. After all, he told his logical self, it's not a lifetime commitment. Besides, this man had said he loved him. Their sex was all he could ask for. And Brody found himself drawn to Dave, wanting to be with him.
Thus when he talked with Mrs. Brill about moving out of the apartment, he was content to forfeit the extra month's rent he'd paid her when he moved in since he wasn't giving 30 days' notice. Telling him she hated to see him go because he'd been a perfect tenant, she sadly returned his security deposit.
Brody was able to load his belongings, including his computer, into the back of the Cherokee and move to Dave's house in one trip. So, as of the first Saturday in February Brody and Dave became . . . . What had they become? They were already sex partners. Now they were housemates as well. Lovers? It began to seem more and more that way to Brody. And, of course, he knew very well how Dave felt about him.
They completed the work on the living room floor together.
"So how are you going to furnish this room?" Brody asked as they had a celebratory beer.
"It's how we're going to furnish it. And we need to talk about that."
"I think this is your call, Dave. I know fuck all about interior decorating. I've never paid much attention to that stuff."
Dave grinned. "I think you're gonna have to turn in your gay card, babe."
Ignoring the comment, Brody said, "You must have something in mind for the room."
"Yeah, I do, but I don't feel competent to pick out all the stuff myself. Since the family room is very casual, I'd like to have something traditional, a little more formal in the living room. Something that would go well with the oriental I've always imagined in there."
"So, what do we do?"
"We call my friend James. You may remember him from high school. He was in my class. James Agnello."
"Nope, that name doesn't ring a bell."
"He and his partner have an interior design business in Colby. I don't think he'd charge us an arm and a leg for advice, and he might be able to get stuff for us at a discount."
"He and his partner?"
Dave grinned. "It's not what you're thinking. His partner in the business is Nicole."
"So James is straight?"
"I didn't say that. His partner at home is Darren, who's on the economics faculty at CSU."
"A gay economist?" Brody chuckled. "Just goes to show."
"That we shouldn't stereotype. Didn't somebody call economics `the dismal science'?"
Stereotypes fell when Brody met James. He was about 5'9" and built like a wrestler. His handshake was quite as firm as Brody could want, and he didn't wave his hands or do anything flighty as he talked.
What he did do was question them about what they had in mind for the room. Then he showed them a bewildering number of photographs and fabric samples. He even went with them to a store in Cleveland to look at oriental rugs.
"What I think you guys are going for is sort of a gentleman's club look, with a camel back sofa and a pair of wingback chairs. Some Queen Anne tables would complete the look. We'll do the tables in cherry, which will go great with the warm colors in the rug and the rich stain on the floor."
When James gave them choices, though Dave always asked for Brody's approval, Brody always deferred to Dave's judgment. By mid-February, the room was basically furnished except that there was no art on the wall and no decorative accessories. Dave said he wanted for him and Brody to collect such things gradually, as they found them.
Brody was appalled at the expense of the project, but Dave said they'd gotten really good pieces practically at James's cost.
One of the things Brody had worried about when Dave asked him to move in was whether he could live with any other individual without finding that person irritating at times. Or for that matter, without being irritating himself. He'd often thought that marriage – or a committed gay relationship – must be very difficult. He just wasn't sure he could live with anybody. Having Pete spend a couple or three nights a week in his apartment was one thing, actually living with someone else was another matter. Thus Brody was greatly relieved when he and Dave settled into an easy routine, dividing the household chores in ways that were comfortable for both. Although Dave did most of the cooking, Brody enjoyed helping him. He discovered that fixing meals together was much more pleasant than cooking for one. Brody detested doing dishes. He said it made him think about KP. He didn't mind loading the dishwasher, but Dave saw to the rest of the after-meal cleanup. Brody, on the other hand, took the lead in things like dusting and running the vacuum. There were never any arguments about who was going to take out the trash. The one who thought of that chore first usually just went ahead and did it. Nor, Brody discovered, did Dave have any truly irritating habits. He even flipped the top closed on the toothpaste tube.
They hadn't done any entertaining, so when Dave suggested asking James and Darren to dinner, Brody readily agreed. A quick phone call resulted in the agreement that the two would come that Saturday.
"What'll we have? Do you have something special you can fix for company?"
"Yeah. I've got a bunch of Beth's recipes, some written down, some in my head. She and I used to cook together a lot. How does roast pork tenderloin, redskin potatoes boiled in their jackets, and a green veggie sound?"
"Not very imaginative."
Brody bopped Dave on the shoulder. "Well, you asked!"
"Bully!" Dave exclaimed, rubbing his shoulder – and then grinning.
"What about dessert?"
"Oh, let's go to Berger's deli and get a cheesecake."
"Yum! Let me do that. I can pick it up on the way home from work Saturday. Hey! We've got some nice forced forsythia at the shop, and I'll bring some of that. It'll look good on the sideboard."
"We'll need something for the center of the table, too, something not too tall."
"How about a pot of crocus? That'll be cheerful and springy with the forsythia."
"Great!" He paused. "You know, hon, this will be the first dinner party I've had in this house. The first one since the divorce, actually. It'll be fun. I think Darren will be glad to see what a great job James has done for us in the living room. And it will be nice just to have some people here, you know?"
"I know it's good to see that twinkle in your eye, stud. I'm just realizing that you and Beth had a social life and friends. You must miss that."
"I do in some ways. I mean we never invited gay couples like Darren and James, but she enjoyed having small dinner parties and occasionally a large `do' of some kind. So, yeah, since the divorce my life has been pretty damned quiet." He put his arm around Brody and pulled him close enough to lick his ear. Then he said softly, "But I don't care how quiet it gets now that I've got you."
Brody shivered. "Thanks, Dave. I have to admit this is really nice. But I want to get to know your friends, and I'm looking forward to having James and his partner over."
That Saturday it was cold and snowing lightly, typical February weather. Brody started a fire in the fireplace after he'd done the housecleaning. Dave was in the kitchen fussing with the food.
"Let's get our showers now. I've done all I can do until they get here."
"In the interest of conserving water and electricity, I vote for showering together," Brody said, leering at Dave.
"Fine by me, babe, but we don't have time to do much foolin' around. Besides, if it got to be a long shower, we wouldn't save anything on water and power, would we?"
"Spoilsport. But you can still do my back."
"That's not all I'd like to do. Maybe later?"
The doorbell rang a few minutes after 7:00. Dave answered the door, but Brody and Tom were there, too. There was a flurry of stomping snow off of shoes, greetings, removing and hanging up of coats. Then introductions and hugs – and pats for Tom.
Darren appeared to be a bit older than James, perhaps in his late twenties, but it was hard to tell. About 5'10" with a build Brody would have described as skinny, he had pale blond hair and a receding hairline. It wasn't just the incipient balding that made him look older, however: he also had a walrus mustache. But he seemed to be a jovial guy, and Brody liked him instantly.
Both the guests were wearing corduroy jeans and pullover sweaters. They'd taken off their shoes at the door on James's insistence. In order to make the guests feel at ease, Brody and Dave had kicked off their shoes as well, so all four men were padding around in white socks.
Darren handed Dave three burlap wine bags with draw strings at the top.
"James said you were serving pork, so there are a couple of bottles of red that should go well with it. Or, if you've got something breathing, put these away for another time."
"That's great, Darren. We do have some red open, so I'll do as you suggested. But what's this third bottle?"
"It's some bubbly to christen your new living room," James said.
"Bubbly," Dave exclaimed after he'd peeked into the sack, "this is fuckin' Dom Perignon!"
"It should still be cold. It didn't have a chance to warm up on the way over here."
James took Darren in to see the living room while Brody carried plates of hors d'oeuvres to the family room coffee table. Dave opened the champagne and poured some into each of four flutes. He handed one to each guest when they got back from their inspection tour and went back to get the other two.
The evening went quickly for Brody. Both guests seemed to be pleasant, outgoing guys, and the conversation flowed over all sorts of topics. One minor mystery was solved for Brody. James mentioned that he and Darren had discovered a "marvelous" restaurant in Detroit. When asked the name of it, he replied, "Synthesis." Dave said he'd never heard of it.
"James is right, it is a nice place," Brody said.
All three of them looked surprised. "You've been there?" Dave asked. Then he continued, "Oh, of course. I'll bet Junior took you there."
"Yeah, he did."
"Junior? You mean Lynch?" Darren asked.
"What was he doing, scoping out the competition? Though I shouldn't think a restaurant in Detroit would be competition for his place."
Brody grinned. Obviously he knew something the other three didn't. "Well, we went there for dinner before the American Ballet Theater performance last fall. But he wasn't checking the competition. He wanted to show it off to me – and see how his minions were doing with the place."
"Adrian owns Synthesis?" Jerry asked.
"Yep. It's his baby. He manages his dad's restaurant here, but Synthesis is his and he pays someone else to be the GM."
"So, Brody," Darren said, "you went to the ballet with Adrian. Does that mean -- unnh!"
James had apparently kicked him under the table.
Dave was trying hard not to grin.
Brody said, "It's okay, James. Yes, I was Adrian's `boy' for a while – until, with some prompting from the big guy sitting across from me, I saw the light."
James looked at his host and said, "David, you knew what he was in for, didn't you?"
"Yes, to my sorrow."
"Well," Brody said, "Adrian seems to have found somebody else quickly, though he couldn't be described as a `boy'."
"Yeah," Darren chuckled. "Pinkie's no kid. Not that you're a kid, Brody."
"Thanks, Darren. But I suppose I should call you `professor.' After all I am a student at Colby."
"If you should ever be unfortunate enough to be in one of my classes, you may call me `Doctor Horne.' Otherwise it's just `Darren,' okay?"
Brody nodded. "Thanks. Now, I want to ask you oldtimers something."
There was some mock indignation among the other three over the word "oldtimers" before Brody was allowed to continue.
"Where did Adrian's new friend ever get the nickname `Pinkie'?"
Darren grinned and looked at James, who shrugged his shoulders. "It's nothing as juicy as you're probably thinking. It's from his middle name. He's officially Thomas Pinkerton Nielsen. His mother's maiden name was Pinkerton. He tried all the way through elementary school to get people to call him Tom, but word got out about the middle name and he's been Pinkie ever since."
"Actually, he's a nice guy. He tends to be quiet and soft-spoken, but he's really bright. And I hear he's got a monster dick."
"James, dear, let's not talk about dicks at the dinner table."
"Sorry, love. Anyway, something tells me Adrian may have met his match. Word has it that behind his quiet exterior Pinkie is a dedicated top."
Dave cleared his throat. "I'll go switch on the coffee maker. Let's have our dessert by the fire."
Later, after they'd finished their cheesecake and were on second cups of coffee, Darren said, "Guys, this house would be great for a party. Have you thought about having a housewarming?"
The idea hadn't occurred to Brody, who looked at Dave for his reaction.
"Yeah, but a housewarming suggests gifts, and I wouldn't want people to feel I'd invited them here so they'd bring us something."
"We could call it an open house," Brody said.
David looked at him questioningly. "Would you like to do that, babe?"
"If it wouldn't cost too much money, I think it would be great. We could invite everybody we know. That could be interesting."
"Let's think about it."
Later, after James and Darren had left, as they were putting the kitchen to rights, Brody said, "Dave, there's something we need to talk about."
"Whoa, that sounds serious. We're finished here. Come on back to the fire." He offered Brody his hand and they walked together to the big leather sofa in the family room.
"Now, what's up?"
"I shouldn't have said anything in front of those guys about having the open house. I don't know whether you can afford something like that or not. I spoke out of turn, and I'm sorry if I've put you in an embarrassing position."
Dave said, "We can afford it. I haven't wanted to talk about this, but my business is going great."
"Yep. Did you think it wasn't?"
"You remember that day last June when I stopped at your job site to apologize to you?"
"Yes, much to my shame. I was a real bastard to you that day, Brody. What else can I say? I'm sorry."
"Well, my response was just as bad." He squeezed Dave's hand. "I'm bringing that up because I saw you there working alongside two other guys. All three of you were hot, and I'm not talking about the summer weather. You guys were wearing cutoffs and no shirts, and you were sweaty, and I fuckin' nearly blew a load just looking at you. Especially you."
Dave looked at him, raised an eyebrow, and grinned. "Yeah?"
"Ohhh, yeah! But that's not my point."
"I figured that if the owner's son was there digging holes with those other guys, then your business was a pretty small-time operation. I guess I've assumed that ever since. At least until you showed me your plans for some of those new buildings."
Dave chuckled. "Like I said a minute ago, the business is really doing well. Things slow down from December until early March, but the rest of the year we keep a bunch of crews working. On a typical day late spring through fall, we may have crews working anywhere within about a 60-mile radius. We keep at least one person in the office from nine to five weekdays. Plus, Dad is in the office on most of the days when I'm not."
"So what happened that day when you were out there looking gorgeous and sweaty in your shorts?"
"Brody, I spend a lot of my time in an office, on the phone, working with clients or potential clients, or at the computer or the drawing board. But what I really love is working outdoors. I like digging holes and planting shrubs and getting my hands in the dirt and sweating. So when I get the chance, I do some hands-on stuff."
"So it's like being with Adrian all over again?"
Dave looked wounded. "No, Brody, it isn't. I haven't talked more about the business because I didn't want you to think I would treat you like Adrian did."
"But, see, David, you're rich, or at least well off. I'm just an ex-grunt who's working his way through college."
David reached over with a big hand and pulled Brody close. Then he put both arms around him.
"Brody, first of all, you shouldn't put yourself down. I won't swell your head by telling you all you've got going for you. But the most important thing is that I love you, baby. You're not an accessory. I want you because the idea of us being together for the rest of our lives is the most beautiful future I can imagine. I've never been as happy as I've been since you moved in with me. So far as I'm concerned, we're equal partners in whatever I've got.
"Dave, I don't know what to say. You really must love me if you feel that way. I just felt inadequate. And I don't want a fuckin' free ride from you any more than I did from Adrian."
Dave sighed. "Okay, look. It's not a fuckin' free ride. You're paying half the mortgage. You're paying for your share of the groceries. You're paying for your college expenses, your incidentals, and your clothes. So if we want to have a fuckin' open fuckin' house, could you just quit complaining and let me pay for it?"
Brody chuckled. "O fuckin' kay, man." He licked the side of David's neck. "And I think you're pretty fuckin' hot. Can we go to bed now?"
"Soon. But this is as good a time as any to bring up something I've been wanting to talk with you about."
"Not really. You're coming up on the end of your first year in college. And you haven't picked a major yet."
"Dave, I . . . "
"No, let me finish, please."
"I don't know why you took that beginning landscape design course. I've been afraid to ask. But how do you like it?"
"I can honestly tell you now that I signed up for it because I thought it would help me understand a little bit about what you do. And that was before we became, uh, whatever it is we are."
Dave sighed again. "Let's leave that question and get back to the course."
"So, to answer your other question, I really like it. Back in high school, or even the Corps, I never would have thought I'd enjoy that kind of thing, but I do."
"What would you think of majoring in it with something like small business management as a minor? Or vice versa?"
Brody stared at the fire for a few minutes. "Why are you suggesting that?"
"Because I'd like you to become my partner in the business. Dad's talking about doing what your folks did. I think he wants to play golf and lead the good life. I think he'd hang around for another three years, though, if I told him you'd help me run things when you get your degree."
"Just like that? You're offering to take me into the business as a partner?"
"Well, I was thinking more along the lines of partners in everything, but yeah."
Again Brody thought a while before answering. "You know, I'd want to be out of the office some, too. I like the hands-on idea, even the idea of getting sweaty and covered with good old Ohio dirt once in a while. And the design aspect sounds good, too. Somehow it seems a lot more, well, significant than arranging flowers."
Dave put a hand on either side of Brody's face and looked into his eyes. "You don't need to decide now. Just promise me you'll think about it, okay?"
"I am thinking about it," Brody said, his eyes sparkling. "And the more I think about it, the better I like it!"
"Okay, give it a week or so. Just so you've got it figured out by the time you have to register for next fall's courses.
"You know, all this reminds me of something I've been meaning to ask you."
"When do I get to meet your dad? You haven't kept me a secret from him, have you?"
Dave smiled. "Not at all. He's eager to meet you. He just doesn't want you to think you're being presented for his approval, so we've been talking about a way for you two to get together without any pressure."
"Shit, Dave, there's gonna be pressure whenever we do it. Why don't you just ask him over? He's seen the house, hasn't he?"
"Yeah, but he hasn't been here since we got the living room done."
"Okay, invite him for dinner. We can do the same menu we just did for James and Darren if you want."
"Actually, Dad would be happier with something more casual, like beef stew and crusty rolls and cherry pie."
"Good, let's do it!"
"I'll talk to him tomorrow."
"Great! So, now that's taken care of, how'd you like to fuck your future partner?"
"I'd like to fuck the partner I've got right now, if the old guy isn't too tired after throwing such a nice dinner party. James and Darren are really nice."
"Yeah, they are. And I'll get you for that old guy remark!"
Tom, who'd been snoozing by the fire stood up, stretched, and went to the back door.
"You let Tom out and I'll set the thermostat and the security system. Meet ya in the bedroom!"
When the bedtime chores were all done and they were in bed, Brody said, "I think I'm supposed to fuck you now?"
"I've changed my mind. I think I'm too tired. We old guys don't have as much stamina as you young studs, you know." He kissed Brody. "Good night." He rolled onto his side with his back to Brody.
"David! You're shitting me, right? You know I was teasing!"
Dave rolled onto his back. "I dunno, it's been a pretty long day. I'm not sure I'm up for it."
Brody grabbed Dave's erect cock through the covers and said, "Looks to me like you are."
Dave grinned. "Well, maybe if you coaxed me a little."
"Oh, we're playing games, are we?"
Dave tried to look as if he were pouting. "No. You hurt my feelings."
Brody chuckled. "God, you're such a prick tease!"
Before Dave knew what was happening he had been flipped onto his stomach and Brody was sitting on his buttocks. Suddenly Brody dug his fingers into Dave's ribs.
"You want to be coaxed, huh? See what you think of this coaxing!" He tickled Dave until he was writhing and laughing helplessly.
"Okay, stop! I give!"
"So, bitch, are you gonna put out or not?" Brody asked as he tugged his fingers from between Dave's ribs and his muscular upper arms.
"Oh, Marine, you are such a brute. Fuck me, but please be gentle."
Brody giggled. "Cromer, you are so full of it!"
Soon Dave was blissfully full of something else.
To Be Concluded in the Next Episode
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