The various nations of the world have varying ideas about who may touch whom in various ways on various parts of their bodies. In the United States, contact considered "sexual" is generally limited to those who are eighteen years of age or older. Throughout much of Europe, that age is often sixteen, though some nations consider fourteen to be an acceptable limit; in fact, there are still yet a few societies in which twelve is an acceptable age of consent.
In this realistic treatment of the topic, which takes place in the US, US rules apply. "Eighteen or older" is the rule. However, as in the author's youth, the people in this story are not ones to be much concerned about such rules. But it might be illegal for you to even READ about such things. Meanwhile, here, a youth and an adult have quite the dashingly gay affair.
As always, this author has no interest in telling pure JO stories. As always, there IS a story, and, hopefully, you will find the people interesting and their challenges exciting. There are, however, many sexy parts because sex is fun, and fun is good.
Author’s Note: I love these guys. I wish I could continue their story, but here, we must close this book.
Finally, I also fill you in on the back story that inspired this romance.
Adrian’s mom came in and evidently immediately assessed the situation. “Oh, you guys! So cute! But come, John, Nate, Adrian? Join the party. You can all talk later. Our guests are here for only hours, but we all have a life together.”
There. It was out in the open. It was spoken. Nathan was family. He felt his eyes start to water. Nathan had not felt so a part of a family since his father had died as a boy.
“Look, Mom!” Adrian crooned, “You made him cry!”
His father snorted, “Aw, he’s just fucking drunk.”
Nathan said, “That’s some damn good scotch, John.”
“Yeah,” John said suavely, “it is, huh? C’mon, Bro’, let’s go mingle. The minions need their Captains. It’s showtime!”
“Bro’.” He said, “Bro’!“
Nathan felt John’s strong arm across his shoulders as he was led back to the party. He was drunk. Later, he remembered few details, only general impressions, but Adrian remembered. He often thereafter liked to recount that marvelous day when his lover won the love of father.
They named the big catamaran after Adrian’s mother, and the launching of beautiful Bitten was the great event of the month in Port Townsend, Washington, where she was built.
Nathan had a hard time finding a builder and designer capable of meeting his design criteria, but Port Townsend proved to be a Mecca of wooden boat construction. The old town had the technical and skilled worker infrastructure to pull off such a magnificent boat. She was built all of laminated wood, what in the industry is called “cold-molded.” Between Nathan’s designer’s mockups in a CAD program, a naval architect’s experience, and a yard that “got it,” they pulled off a great boat so lovely she was featured in numerous yachting magazines. No coastal cruiser, she was an ocean-goer from start to finish. She was low and light yet strong; her accommodations, while limited, were luxurious. Old school in her “yawl” rig, she was yet high-tech in her electric winches, satellite connections, solar panels, and state of the art electronics. At fifty-three feet, she was a big girl, but compared to other boats that long, still lean, sleek, and spartan. There was not a harbor she entered where those who knew boats did not go, “Wow!”
The process of selling his companies to his employees took several years. Nathan remained the “Founder,” and he continued to do design work, and, contrary to his wishes, but inevitable, he remained the King Closer of the Universe. His employees simply would not part with him, and their customers simply needed that extra level of trust that came from the personal guarantee of the “Boss of Bosses.”
Nathan came to understand all that. He could not leave a power vacuum. Every company needed an ultimate authority, and that role could not be delegated with ease. Another star would need to rise. He remained on the lookout for a charismatic commander, and he nurtured his many leaders. Over time, his orders became limited to only a few of his captains, but he never stopped anyone in the company from contacting him directly at any time. In fact, he encouraged them to communicate. This was the magic secret that allowed him to always know what was really happening. It was the great lesson he learned from the temporary failure of his septic company. He made sure that all his bosses knew they could never hide anything from him – ever. Thus, Nathan completely succeeded in establishing a business that did not require his physical presence.
Building Bitten took almost two years from sketches to splashes. Fitting her out with various sail combinations took months. Nathan took courses in sailing, and he hired experienced sailors to teach him, literally, “the ropes.” He became a certified mariner, while, along the way, picking up a pilot’s license and a fine, old, Bellanca Viking, the Porsche 911 of the skies. Nathan had become intrigued by that particular craft because it was largely built of spruce – which, he discovered over the course of building his catamaran, had strength-weight ratios that were hardly surpassed by even the most high tech composites, let alone aluminum or steel. In typical Nathan Greene style, it was hopped up to a 300 mph, pressurized cabin skyrocket that was capable of flying above the weather. He used the Bellanca to pop back and forth between Port Townsend, Portland, Ashland, and Santa Monica. Nathan continued to upgrade his pilot’s certifications, and he often flew John and Adrian together as as they worked through all the belabored inspections by which his companies were valued. Adrian himself became a competent pilot, for Nathan discovered that flying a plane was mainly boring, but Adrian was never bored. He loved to stay busy even on auto-pilot, scanning the weather and chatting with other aviators while occasionally rolling the plane on its side to have a look at some interesting feature below.
It was the same with the boat. Adrian loved standing at the wheel and tweaking the tune of the sails. He mastered navigation at an astonishing rate. Nathan mainly liked to study the charts and winds, decide on their course, and entertain their guests. In the low part in front of the big saloon, he had his “studio.” He spent many hours there, alone, designing things. He took up modelling and drawing again. These were activities well suited for life on a boat. Adrian enjoyed all the many chores a boat required. In the way of old couples, they each had their separate hobbies, and he and Adrian mastered the art of spending time apart in order to make their times together more exciting.
Bitten could have been built quicker, but Nathan wanted to be on the build crew, so he insisted that she sit idle in her construction unless he was there to help. The extra yard fees added greatly to her expense, but that was simply no problem. His builder, once he saw how much Nathan was willing to pay for idle time in his yard, told him, “It’s your money, man.”
But for Nathan, the timing was fine. Adrian needed to get through his bachelor’s degree at Southern Oregon University – a battle which Adrian won, of course. Nathan had no use for a big yacht without his beloved at his side; furthermore, he had a deal with Adrian’s father: Adrian had to get through college before Nathan was permitted to sail off with him. He and John were in collusion in that regard.
Nathan decided to lease rather than buy a two bedroom condo in Ashland. The numbers simply worked out better for him for the period in question. Theoretically, Adrian was a renter, but factually, John Bergstrom knocked Adrian’s trivial rent off his expensive bills.
John liked to joke that it was actually Nathan who was paying for it all, and Nathan would tell him that was bullshit, because John spent way more time on Nathan’s ESOP than anyone else would ever do. But Nathan’s enterprises became a labor of love for John Bergstrom. He considered it a perfect enterprise to add to his portfolio, and he began to pick up new clients with similar needs; further, Nathan liked to help John that way, giving John’s prospective customers tours of his operations and providing meetings with his staff. John also helped Nathan set up a complex trust so he would not completely “eat shit” on taxes. Most people would rather cash in with a standard incorporation and bug off, but not Nathan. It was “how to get obscenely rich in the Western World.” He could have made many more millions, but instead he chose the long slog and a much higher tax bracket, foregoing many loopholes in order to, as he said, “keep a promise.” Truly, the corporate tax structure of the modern world rewarded parasites and penalized producers. John helped him with that. It was not a victory, but the damage was at least ameliorated.
John often said that the world of the wealthy was “Twenty thousand spectators betting with each other on the outcome of a match between twenty players.”
Nathan was a player.
John admired that, and he helped him to the best of his considerable abilities.
Nathan was able to keep an old promise to an old man from whom he had bought the janitorial business. He had promised he would care for the employees.
John, in his own way, fell in love with Nathan too. A good part of Nathan’s friendship with Adrian’s father was their shared sense of “loyalty to the troops.” It was a strong bond. As an old warrior, honor was senior to all else. And so, Nathan had a powerful ally. In the end, even that old homophobe had to admit, “I am glad my son is married to you. No woman could ever do for him what you do for him. You guys make a hell of a team.”
And they were married. They had said it casually above that glacial pool in the shadow of The Mountain, but the vow had stuck. They called each other “partner” in public but “husband” in private. They never doubted it. They lived the truth of it.
Of course, they made it formal, not in a church, but in an attorney’s office and at the county registrar. Adrian became Nathan’s heir. Marriage, despite propagandistic nonsense to the contrary, was always a legal – not religious – instititution having mainly to do with inheritance and property.
They even talked about having children. Adrian, as Nathan had predicted, wanted that. Poor Nathan always felt a rising terror at such a prospect, but his Adrian was such a natural born dad! Children everywhere seemed to flock to him and follow him. It was yet another aspect, like a facet of a planet-sized diamond, of his husband’s glory. Nathan could learn. He could try. And for Adrian, he would.
Anything at all.
Each summer, they made a pilgrimage to Brian’s pool and their humble campground. But they also did other traveling. All the while Adrian continued his education, and Nathan continued to do his design work while keeping ultimate control over his companies, yet each passing period transferred more and more power to his former employees. His enterprises flourished.
Bitten was ready for major voyages a year before Adrian graduated college – which only required three years rather than the usual four. Nathan originally hired a lovely couple, a husband and wife team, to care for her and crew her for her shakedown cruise up the Canadian coast to Alaska and back. She proved to be a strong and seaworthy craft, adept at fast passages, never as fast as a racing boat, stripped down and delicate, capable only of sailing in protected waters, but fast indeed on the open ocean. With the separate cabins of their big boat, privacy was easily maintained, and the duo practiced great discretion with their activities and “take home guys.” Like Nathan and Brian, both Nathan and Adrian were not particularly monogamous, but they shared with each other. They had their rules, and they kept to them.
College revealed to Adrian a passion for history. He considered this a good background for law. It was nothing for Adrian to read a fat, densely written book in a day. When Nathan attempted to quiz him, Adrian always passed, saying, “Most academics use a lot of words to say very little. One learns how to read through their bullshit and extract what little trivial meaning they have. That’s why they fluff it up. It’s camouflage and persiflage that serves to separate them from those whom they deem the ‘ignorant masses.’ It’s called ‘ingrouping’ and ‘outgrouping.’ It is not a scholarly phenomenon but a sociologicical one.”
Nathan chuckled at Adrian’s new manners of speech and bold opinions. College had truly drawn out and nurtured another beautiful aspect to his beloved. “They don’t teach that in business school, do they?”
“I wouldn’t know, Nathan. Hmmm. I’m calling my dad.”
His father had not heard of that in school, but when Adrian explained it, John found it interesting, and he agreed, saying such a thing could help explain the mistrust many people had for higher education.
Nathan understood exactly what Adrian was doing. By such inquiries to his father, he demonstrated that a truly liberal education broadened the mind and exposed one to many ideas not taught in purely “job oriented” education. Adrian wanted his father to understand that he was gaining value for his dollar; further, by couching such talks as mere inquiries, Adrian began to demonstrate a politician’s adroit craftiness. Nathan had seen glimpses of that, but college truly sharpened Adrian’s innate skills.
They had made arrangements with several universities for Adrian to continue with graduate studies even while out on their world cruise. Nathan discovered that many reputable, ivy league colleges offered distant learning programs. It was, in fact, something that almost any college would do given the proper incentive. Money, in fact, was such an incentive, but establishing close relationships with the professors who would suggest reading lists and monitor the progress was truly the key. Adrian proved adept at establishing exactly that kind of relationship.
Adrian had even applied and was accepted to law school at Yale – no easy feat, but he decided not to attend, for the program would take him too long, and he had no wish to live on the east coast and contend with the scions of the elite families who thought they were the chosen rulers of the world. He found them “tediously predictable and tiresomely unimaginative, battling each other and the world over their little iceberg while their petroleum based economics melted it under their feet.”
Adrian had long since decided that since he did not need to work for money, he was perfectly positioned to be the “voice of the voiceless” and the “defender of the disenfranchised.” He was not an outsider. He was an insider. He would leverage his inheritance to fight for a world in which justice was more balanced. Rich people often used the threat of endless litigation to bankrupt their opposition. That tactic would fail if used against the great, Adrian Bergstrom.
Nathan adored him for it. It was like being married to a young, beautiful, and gay Gandhi.
And to think that Adrian was just a pretty boy with a bicycle at a random gas station in need of a guy with a pickup truck to get over a mountain! Nathan actually did believe in random coincidences. In his opinion, there were few stupider words than, “It was all meant to be.”
No. The universe was savage. It was cruel and indifferent. The best way to predict the future was to create it.
But in his secret heart, Nathan knew that meeting Adrian was no coincidence! He claimed no hypothesis, but he had felt Brian at that place, at that time.
“Fuck the money, Nate! You have plenty! Pull over here! See? Easy in and out! Time is money. Time man! That is the coin of the realm! This will be faster! Trust me!”
Coin of the realm. Those were Brian’s articulations. Nathan did not use such words to describe anything, but it was such words that poped into his mind.
Typical Brian, like Adrian, using the exact button that would get Nathan’s agreement. Nathan did not want to waste time, and he did not care about a few cents difference over a damn tank of gas.
Yet… If life and death were as Brian said, it all made sense. It was not “meant” to be; it was “made” to be. Henri Bergson, the great philosopher, whom Adrian had introduced to Nathan, had said, the evidence for telepathy was “overwhelming.”
Nathan could see an old age in which he studied philosophy. Adrian would like that. He would help him. They would have many interesting conversations. At the golden center of their love was a mutual love for the art of conversation. Were both their dicks to be chopped off, they would still have that, and they would still love each other.
Finding a stable crew for Bitten remained problematic. Nathan required a high level of skill, but their lifestyle also required special people. Finally, a couple of old pals of Nathan’s, who had had a yacht of their own, found themselves in a difficult situation, for their boat had been lost in a typhoon while moored in Malaysia. Neither had been aboard; both had been in China at the time. Nathan offered them a job, and so, they had a young, gay couple with vast ocean-going experience as sailing mates.
The first summer after college, they all decided to explore the South Pacific, keeping no particular itinerary, coming and going at will wherever they wished. Nathan had it in mind to pass through the Panama Canal and cross the Atlantic to Europe after that, but nothing was fixed.
As always, Adrian continued his studies. He became fascinated by the many violations of treaties incurred upon almost every group of South Pacific Islanders. One day, laying nude on the empty beach of a tiny atoll with the big catamaran slid onto the sand nearby, Adrian, on the topic of Islander rights, made a comment so incredible that Nathan had to admit, “Fuck, dude! You are actually smarter than me!”
Adrian, ever the social adept, said only, “I am smart, yes, Nate, but you are wise. If I had to pick, I’d pick wisdom over intelligence; besides, only a genius could see how smart I am, so shut up and kiss me!”
There was nothing more to say…
At least, not until they had fucked like bonobos. After that, who could know what they would talk about?
I want to thank my readers for the extraordinary comments, insights, suggestions, edits, and shared stories. When I first wrote this, before I published, I was pretty sure that this story would not be as popular as The Boys of Summer. That first book was well received. I earned the kind of praise a writer adores: “I could not stop reading! I had to read the next chapter.”
But Torch earned: “I never wanted it to end, and now I am sad.”
Evidently, there is a better market for a good romance than there is for porn. So thank you. Thank you indeed. Several of you have observed that were this book written without any graphic sex at all, it would still “work.” I agree, but as I said in my disclaimer, paraphrasing the “Cat in the Hat,” “Sex is fun, and fun is good.”
Now, in answer to many readers’ questions, I’d like to fill you in on the back story that inspired this novel. This is the “True Confessions” part. In emails, I was a bit cagey.
I had to hold off on an answer because it would have been a spoiler for the story. The whole plot dynamic depended on “The Big Lie.” Adrian says he’s nineteen. He acts older. He’s convincing. Nathan never suspects. Even as a twink, Adrian is under Nathan’s age range, but the guy gets into his soul. Nathan, at the beginning of the story, factually, does not even like young people. He finds them at best boring, but mainly irritating. He sees plenty of action. He gets all he wants, but he’s at a stage of his life where he really does not want it that way any more. He’s on a big “time out.” His One Special One has died, and Brian is a hard act to follow.
Yet Adrian, beyond being gorgeous, is a genuinely brilliant. More, he is thrillingly adventurous, determined, brave, and ambitious. He triggers Nathan’s protective instincts, and he makes him feel young.
Unlike Boys of Summer Which was an exercise in “Point of View” (POV in writer’s lingo), we never, never know what Adrian is thinking. We only get Nathan’s view. You may have noted how often Nathan thinks one thing but says another. He’s a crafty old dog. He is unfailingly polite. Did you notice that? He knows he has an inner asshole, but he never reveals this to the world.
Except Adrian. Adrian earns his trust, and Nathan admits his failings and doubts. Eventually, we also learn what Adrian is thinking. He does not like to keep secrets from Nathan. He knows Nathan will never hurt him.
So, by the time Adrian tells him he is not of legal age, they are past the doubt stage. I could have made that a big, dramatic, sissy fucking soap opera, but these guys had a life of their own by then, and I could not write it that way.
Also, in real life, I had no such drama either.
Here is what really happened that inspired this story.
I had yet another partner die on me. He was about fifteen years older. We had met online while I was working overseas for the Department of Defense civilian running what are called “Education Centers.” These are a means for soldiers to continue with their educations while in the service no matter where in the world they might be deployed. I did well. I even had enough of an egg to semi-retire.
Well, one time, on a vacation, I met up with “James.” (I’ll respect his wishes and keep him anonymous.) We had chatted via email much, shared pictures, all that. Talked on the phone. Talked and talked and talked. He was a great looking guy and still fit. I hate it when guys let themselves go to shit. Us older guys have to work at it, but it can be done. He was a retired Marine colonel, a Viet Nam veteran, and highly decorated veteran of many bloody and terrible combats. My familiarity, though only a civilian, with the military experience was helpful. Throughout Torch you will have seen all these little details having to do with Nathan’s leadership style; well, meet James – a true “commander of men.”
We hit it off. I basically worshipped him, and I am emphatically not a “follower.” He had a nice pad in the Los Feliz part of Hollywood, which had been a summer community in the forgotten LA of the 1920s. It was kind of frumpy, unpretentious, old money area of town; no longer fashionable, Los Feliz was the perfect place to be cool before it became cool again. People who know big cities know that all megapolises are really only interlinked collections of villages and towns. One gets to know one’s part. One sees the same people in the same places at the same times. Los Feliz was a lovely little town with everything one needed within walking distance. With the summer breeze off the ocean and a nice, pollution free climate, in temperature and humidity, it was good as it gets in the entire world. Literally. One hardly needed heat in the winter nor air-conditioning in the summer. It was, James told me, why they built there.
With my savings invested, he suggested I come stay with him and take up painting again, and I did exactly that. I built a portraiture business, but it was never enough to actually afford to live in LA on my own in the style which my wealthy clients expected. (Translation: A studio in a good location costs 4-5K a month.) So James was my material leg up without which I could not succeed, yet I could not make money away from my market’s location. Only rich people will pay two grand or more for a portrait, and LA, like San Francisco, has an incredible concentration of “one-percenters.”
As hinted in the back stories of Torch, the ’08 crash kicked my ass. Aggressively invested in high risk shit, I lost three quarters of my savings. I had considered myself a good day trader, but I was simply riding the same fraudulent wave as everyone else.
At about that time, James was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s a bad way to go. Enough said there. But one point about gay rights kicked me in the face. Since I was not family, I could not even initially visit him in the hospital, and his ex wife and kids considered me anathema. We managed to have a lawyer draw up some papers listing me as his “care giver,” but the reality of “gay marriage” hit me as something more than a feeble desire to be “hetero-normative” for the first time. Before that, I thought it was ridiculous. Ever the semi-suppressed homophobe myself, I even described gay “marriage” as “totally fucking ‘gay.’”
Long story short: His ex got the house and I was on the street. His money was wiped out, and I was pretty broke myself. So much for “totally fucking gay.” The reality was somewhat more nuanced than my impression of a couple of poofs seeking society’s acceptance. Again, I have portrayed that aspect of the gay scene with authenticity. If I were to write a sequel, it would be about the two most awesome dads in the universe and the struggles they face to raise their beloved children.
Now, having served in the South Pacific on many little islands, I could, indeed, write authentically about Island culture from both the Micronesian and Polynesian perspective. Their fantastic ability to form non-bloodline related kinships and their most forgiving and civilized practices regarding sexuality could be good material for another book… not to mention their mystic, pre-Christian practices and ancient seafaring traditions… Hmmm… I see some beautiful brown boys and girls in Nathan and Adrian’s future.
But that possibility aside, at the end of summer, not the beginning, I decided to drive north to do just what Nathan did – take James’ ashes to the very real place I described. It was I who had introduced James to the area, and doing fun, outdoor, physical things together was always a part of our love.
Along the way, in Santa Clarita, I picked up a hitchhiker. He had a backpack, not a bicycle, and though he was not quite so spectacular as Adrian, he was a great looking young man with a genuine sparkle. (I am no Nathan, either.) My boy did not live in Portland in a great house, he lived in Klamath Falls in HUD housing. Have you ever been to Klamath Falls, Oregon? Well, “if they gave the world an enema…” as they say. What a shithole.
I hit on him in exactly the same way Nathan did – telling him I was gay, so if he had a problem with that, he could catch another ride, but I was gonna be goddamned if a closely proximate pretty boy was gonna add any tension to my life. Take it or leave it.
He took it.
“Jacob” was a sweet, kind, and intelligent fellow, somehow civilized and socially adept despite his “white trash” origins. His capacity to transcend his origins was both endearing and remarkable. Coming up with a guy like Adrian was honestly not much of a stretch.
We played together and shared a similar version of the ceremony I described. But I had to return to LA to wrap things up, and he had to go home. Back to high school.
In a similar manner as Adrian, he apologized for lying, telling me he was only seventeen!
That did not stop us. I mean, shit, my first older lover was not bothered by my age when I was seventeen, but then, I was already on my own. Also, I could easily understand it all from the younger guy’s point of view. Older guys were safe. They would not out you. They would keep it secret. They had money, cars, and jobs. Further, it was nice to feel appreciated and be treated as special. So I got that part. I could not fault a guy for being worried about rejection due to his youth. I had felt the same things. I did not reject him. He was special, and I appreciated him.
After an idyllic week that passed much as I described, I drove him home.
Jacob’s parting words were, “Whatever ‘it‘ is, old man, you still got it.”
This experience was an incredible morale boost and a uplifting for us both. In Torch, I do believe I captured that part authentically. I snapped out of my depressed funk. I had closure. I had a future. I was still in the game. I had been loved by a beautiful boy, and I had loved a beautiful boy.
However, unlike Nathan, I was not of independent means – unless having the dividends to almost be able to afford rent in a trailer park counts. Unlike Adrian, my boy was still in high school with serious and troubling homophobia at home. He was not ready to come out, and I was not going to have some sneaky, furtive, hidden affair – I have always loathed that type of scene – and that in addition to being jobless and homeless in a hostile environment.
It could not be.
We stayed in touch for some time. But one day his phone number no longer worked. I was not at that time on Facebook, and all my later searches could not find him again.
Finally, I asked myself, “How could it work? How could such an age difference work, really, in the real world?”
Passing the Torch was one possible answer.
Questions? Comments? Critiques? In a business class, I once heard that single letter, honestly written, should be considered "the voice of ten thousand people." That was back in the days before social media, but I figure that anyone who has taken the time and effort to select, copy, and paste my email address into the address bar and then write something up is no fool. Speak freely. I will listen. I'll even answer. In fact, I've made a lot a great friends this way. My readers rock.
Cheers, Dorian Swift
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