Tim and the Guys


Chapter 9

The following fictional narrative involves sexually-explicit erotic events between men.  If you shouldn't be reading this, move on.

In the world of this story, the characters don't always use condoms.  In the real world, you should care enough about yourself and others to always practice safe sex.

The author retains all rights.  No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the author's consent.  

Thanks to Tom for doing the editing chores, and to my Nifty Six colleagues.


One of the reasons I enjoyed being back in Northern Ohio was the wonderful summer weather.  It was cooler and less humid in the Cleveland area than it was in the Ohio Valley, where I had grown up.  The evening I was to meet Steve and his friends at Burger King was perfect.  The temperature was in the mid-seventies, and the sky was a brilliant, cloudless blue.  So I decided to walk the mile and a half to the BK.  

Chaz and Trey were doing something, and Max had decided to drive over to Bath to see his dad.

As I walked, I thought about Steve's strange friendship with Jared.  As unhappy as Max was over losing David and I was over Ced's amnesia, it seemed that some things did turn out well.  Steve was certainly a different man from the smartass sophomore he had been a year ago.  He was very much in love with a fine woman.  And he had taken on Jared as a sort of little brother.  Jared, one of the three high school punks who had attacked Steve and hurt him pretty badly in a mall parking lot because they thought he was a pedophile.  And gay.  The irony was, of course, that Steve is as straight as they come, and Jared is gay.  Steve insisted to me that Jared was pretty much pressured into doing what he did, that he had worked many hours at the hospital to atone for it, and that he was really a nice kid.  And--again according to Steve--Jared was infatuated with Dante, who had just finished his first year as a pre-med major.  I'd heard all this.  I knew who Jared and Dante were.  In fact, Jared's emergency appendectomy had caused a bit of a stir at Cedric's and my New Year's Eve party.

When I got to the BK,  the place was packed.  No tables at all, and more people arriving all the time.  I waited out front.  When they pulled up in Steve's old Taurus, I suggested we use the drive-through and take our food to the city park, which had picnic tables.  They thought that was a good idea.  A tall, skinny, blond kid who looked all of fifteen got out of the front seat.

"Hi, Dr. Mead.  I'm Jared.  I've been looking forward to meeting you.  Steve says you're the coolest prof he knows."

As Jared and I shook hands, I chuckled and said, "Oh he does, huh?"


"That's just because he got an A from me last summer."

"Hey, not so!"  came from Steve, still in the car.

Jared insisted that I sit up front with Steve, and he jumped in the back.  When I got inside, I twisted around to get a better look at the other occupant in the back seat.  He appeared to be about my height or an inch taller, but he was heavier, more muscular.  Bigger in the chest and shoulders than Max or Rick, even.  He had dark, curly hair and brown eyes.  There was no questioning his Italian heritage.  

"You must be Dante.  I'm Tim Mead."  I stuck my hand between the backs of the bucket seats and he shook it.  Nice, firm, dry handshake.  

"Dr. Mead, it's great to meet you.  As Jared says, Steve has told us a lot about you."  He had what I can only call a sweet smile.  

"Well, I'm glad he's telling you now rather than when he was just beginning in my modern lit course."

"Hey, no fair!  I'm not like that any more," Steve said, grinning.

"Yeah, you're a changed man, for sure."

When we got to the park, we piled out of the car and put our burgers, fries, onion rings, colas and napkins on a picnic table.  Dante and Jared sat on one side, so Steve and I sat facing them.  

Steve asked me how Cedric was doing, and I told him what I knew, that Ced hadn't regained any of his memory, but that his health was fine.  

"I know all that must be terrible for you.  It bothers me a lot that Ced doesn't remember me.  We got to know each other during the period that's blacked out.  I can imagine how I'd feel if Becca couldn't remember me or anything about our relationship. I sure hope Ced gets his memory back soon.  It must be really scary for him, too."

"Yes, I'm sure it is.  And thanks for your concern, Steve."

"Well, please be sure to let me know if there's any change."

"I'll do that."  I noticed that Steve was avoiding calling me Tim.  I supposed he thought it wouldn't be appropriate in front of a couple of university students who weren't a part of "the Brotherhood."

Then Steve asked the boys how things were going with them.  Jared did most of the talking.  He seemed a permanently ebullient sort of kid.  Sunny disposition.  With Jared what you saw was what you got.  I don't think he would have been capable of any sort of guile.  He was just basically happy and outgoing and obviously liked to talk.  On the other hand, I thought I could see how he might have been pressured by his friends into doing something he knew he shouldn't do.  

Dante sat there quietly, but he watched Jared intently, with a faint smile on his face.  He reminded me of a proud parent watching his child perform in a play.  Jared told us that he and Danny had just found an apartment they were going to share for the coming academic year.  Both of them seemed pleased by that.

The conversation eventually turned to sports, and we had to cover the Indians, the prospects of the Browns, and the unlikely possibility that the university might have a winning season in football.  

Eventually it began to get dark, and the mosquitoes came out.  After sitting there trying to talk while slapping at them, we decided to call it a day.  Steve offered me a lift home, and I took him up on it.

In the car Jared asked, "Dr. Mead, are you teaching freshman comp this fall?"

"Yes, Jared.  I have two sections."

"Can I ask when?"

I told him that one was at 9:00 and the other 11:00.

"Cool!  I have to take that, and I'd really like to get into one of those sections.  Do you mind?"

"Of course not, but it may depend on how soon you register for fall courses."

"I'll try to do it as soon as we're allowed."

I laughed.  "Well, I just hope you aren't sorry.  If so, you'll have to blame Steve."

They laughed, and Steve said, "He'll work your ass off, Jared, but it'll be worth it.  It's like Marine boot camp.  Dr. Mead will make a man of you.  Or at least a student."

We were laughing at that comment as Steve pulled up in front of Ced's and my place.  I shook hands with them all, told the boys I was glad to meet them, and went inside.  It seemed terribly empty.

*          *          *


I took the job with the Sylvania Garden Center because I needed a summer job, and that sounded like nice work.  I looked forward to working outside.  It was just a bonus when I found out that the owners of the Center were the Van Hoek family.  Cousin Geoff had emailed me about Philip's apparent inability to be faithful, and he'd mentioned casually that the guy Halifax was messing around with was one Ethan van Hoek.  

As soon as I found I was working with the guy, I was prepared to despise him.  That was hard to do.  Geoff had said that at the university everyone called the kid "Hook," but I discovered that his father and uncle called him Ethan, which was his name.  That made sense because they were all named van Hoek.

Ethan was open and friendly.  He had a kind of boyish quality for a guy who had just finished his sophomore year at the university.  And he had none of the swagger of a jock. But then, I suppose being a varsity tennis player wasn't quite like being on one of the major sports teams.  

Geoff didn't know what I was doing.  He was away someplace, doing gigs with his trio.  And he had forgiven Philip, for some mysterious reason.  I hadn't met Philip, but from what Geoff said, he was quite the player.  I was sure I wouldn't like him.  However.  The point was, Geoffie was happy, and I loved my cute cousin.  I call him cute even if he's older than me.  We've always been buddies, even though I didn't know he was as gay as I am until after he came out on campus while he was working on his Master's.  I guess I can understand that.  Despite Greg Lougainis, I suspected it wouldn't be a good idea for Geoff to come out while he was the star diver for the university swim team.

Anyway, when I found out I had lucked into a job where I might get some revenge for Geoff, I started plotting.  You've read Hook's account of what happened the first two times we had sex.  Soon I figured out that Hook was constantly hungry for something up his ass.  He wasn't devious, as I had thought at first.  I'm sure he never set out to ruin the relationship between Geoff and Philip.  He was just a needy bottom, and he recognized that Philip had trouble saying "no."  So, Hook did what came natural to him, and Philip responded, naturally.  

Once I had given Hook a taste of rough sex, which he didn't seem to object to, and then taken what should have been embarrassing pictures of him, to which he seemed resigned, it seemed to me we might as well enjoy each other.  Hook was a great-looking guy.  With his boy-next-door good looks, his sunny, open disposition, and his constant need to be fucked, he was a dream come true for me.  So we used the "barn" two or three times a week.  Maury became suspicious of what was going on, but I managed to suggest, using "borrowed" authority from Hook, that his job depended on being discreet, so Maury was very cooperative after that.  For a while.

*          *          *


I had a lot of unpacking and settling in to do.  After I got my apartment set up, I still had big piles of boxes with books.  I took as many as I could to the little office the university assigned me, but there were lots left over.  I bought bookcases out the ass.  One afternoon I was unpacking books and trying to arrange them logically in the new shelving when the phone rang.  

"Rick, it's Tim.  How have you been?"

"Tim, good to hear your voice!  I'm okay.  But the question is, how are you?  And how's Cedric?"

"Ced's in good health, I'm happy to say, but there's been no change in his memory loss."

"Damn, Tim!  That must be awful for him.  Imagine having that big a chunk taken out of your life.  And it must be just as bad for you.  Worse, maybe.  I know you miss him terribly."

"Yeah, Rick, I do.  But I just have to be confident that someday soon he'll recover from his amnesia.  Meanwhile, my friends are being amazingly good to me."

"Well, Tim, I know they're concerned about you."

"Look, Rick, I want to apologize."

"For what?"

"I've neglected you.  Ced and I had all sorts of plans to introduce you to the area, and since his accident, I've practically ignored you. I feel guilty.  We had that unfortunate experience at The Phoenix, and I haven't even called you since.  I hope you'll forgive me for being so self centered."

"Tim, put that out of your mind.  I understand."

"Well, I want us to get together.  Could you come to lunch at my place tomorrow?"

I chuckled.  "Yes, Tim, my social calendar isn't exactly crowded yet.  When do you want me?  And can I bring something?"

"How about 12:30, and you don't need to bring anything."

"Great!  I'll look forward to it."

When I got there, Tim gave me a long-lasting hug.  

"Rick, I apologize again for neglecting you.  Here you are in a strange town with few acquaintances, and I've just left you to your own devices."

"Tim, relax!  I've done some exploring on my own.  The Cleveland Public Library.  The university library.  The campus.  The town.  And I've had dinner with Max and also with Chaz and Trey.  So I haven't felt ignored, by any means."

"Well," he said, smiling, "I'm glad the guys have taken up the slack.  You know, Rick, they're all good people.  You are going to love them, I think."

"I'm honored to think that this strange but wonderful group you've gathered around yourself would accept me.  But they seem to be doing that."

"That's the way they are, Rick."

Tim looked "peaked" as my grandmother Simpson would have said.  (I'm only half Italian.)  He was always pale, but his face looked drawn.  I knew he was having a hard time with Cedric's absence from his life, but I hadn't realized what a physical toll it had been taking on him.

He hugged me when I arrived, and then apologized again for the problem he'd had at the gay bar in Cleveland.  Actually, despite his wan appearance, his spirits seemed a little better than I had anticipated.

He served a Caesar salad with warm strips of freshly sautéed chicken over it.  And there were anchovies, too.  I've always thought that it wasn't really a Caesar without the anchovies.  With it he had a crusty baguette and a nice Australian chardonnay.  For dessert, he had fresh local strawberries in cream with coffee.

"Mmm, Tim.  Such a treat!  Thanks for having me."

"Rick, I hope we can resume our friendship, make it grow, after this unfortunate hiatus."

"Let's make that happen!"

"Would you like to start this Saturday?"

"Sure.  What do you have in mind?"

"Trey, Chaz, Max, and I are going to the Indians game, and we have a ticket for you, if you'll come.  Then we're going to the Phoenix afterward."

"I'd love to come.  It will be great to see those guys.  They're amazing people.  I've gotten to know Max a little better, but I'm looking forward to seeing more of Trey and that obscenely tall friend of his."

Tim chuckled.  "Yeah, we all call him the `big guy' now and then."

"But, Tim, are you sure you're ready to go back to the Phoenix?"

He crumpled up his napkin.  "Let's take our coffee into the living room."

After we had relocated, he said, "To answer your question, yes, I'm ready.  I have seen Cedric since you and I went there.  He's told me he has no special feelings for me.  He was very sweet, you understand, just as he always is.  He was obviously pained because he realized that telling me that would hurt me.  But I know I've got to move on.  I hope against hope that he'll get his memory back and that we can pick up where we left off.  But, Rick, I'm realistic enough to think that may never happen.  His amnesia, though partial, may be permanent.  Or, he may recover it and still not be inclined to continue our relationship.  I will wait and hope for a while, but I'm not going to stay home and grieve.  I've done that.  It's destructive – and a little self-indulgent, to tell truth.  So, let's go to the game and then the Phoenix and have a great evening!"

"Can I say something?"


"Look, we obviously like each other, but we really don't know each other well.  I don't want to offend you."

"Rick, I said you could go ahead.  I want to know what you've got on your mind."

"It's just that I hope you aren't just whistling in the dark about this weekend."

He studied his fingernails.  "I don't think that's what I'm doing.  But I've got to try it.  I can't stay here and feel sorry for myself forever."

"Yeah, it's probably better to be with your friends and get your mind off of it.  You're lucky, Tim.  Those guys really love you.  This `Brotherhood' you guys have borders on the unique, you know."

"I do know.  And I hope that you will become one of us, Rick."

Saturday came.  Trey drove.  I was the last one to be picked up.  Chaz sat in the front with him.  Tim, Max, and I sat in the back, with Tim in the middle.  After we were all belted in and Trey pulled away from my apartment building, Chaz looked over his shoulder and grinned.

"Don't say a word, Greeley!" Tim said, grinning back at him.

"Me?  I didn't say anything!"

"Yeah, you didn't have to."

Chaz put on this look of patently fake innocence.  "I don't have any idea what you are talking about, professor."

Max snorted.  "Come on, Chaz!  Here sit the three of us in a row, all the same height.  And you're just dying to make some crack."

Chaz chuckled.  "I'm hurt.  I'm truly hurt, padre.  I would never have thought of saying anything about you little guys until you and Tim brought it up."

"Yeah, right," Max said.  Everyone laughed, and we began to talk of other things.

It was a sunny afternoon, perfect for baseball.  A pleasant breeze was coming off the lake, and Jacobs Field turned out to be a wonderful baseball venue.  I don't know whether the guys were aware of it when they planned the outing, but the Indians were hosting the White Sox.

I took a lot of good-natured ribbing as the game went on.  But he who laughs last laughs best, they say, and by the top of the 9th, Chicago was up 10 to 6.  Trey suggested that we leave so we could get to the Phoenix before the rest of the crowd, and the others agreed. The Cleveland police forced us to go east out of the parking ramp about 25 blocks before we could turn around and head for the Flats, but we still managed to get there before the crowd from the ballgame.  

I watched Tim carefully for a return of the depression he had manifested the time he and I had been there alone, but he seemed much less unhappy.  Apparently he had himself under better control, or perhaps it was having Max, Trey, and Chaz along that helped.

Tim and Trey warned me that the wine there wasn't very good, so we all had beer.  As we sat and rehashed the game and admired the cute guys, couples and groups drifting in, I noticed that Max was watching Tim carefully.  Tim didn't seem aware of it, but Max studied him almost constantly.  And I realized something.  You only looked that way at someone you loved.  It was clear to me that Max loved Tim.  Small wonder David was no longer in the picture.  If it was obvious to me, it must have been obvious to the guy Max was living and sleeping with.

"Hey," Chaz said, "there's Ced.  And Francis."  He waved them over to us.

What happened next was a chaos of greetings.  Everyone seemed to be hugging everyone else.  Except for me.  I knew Ced, of course, but when he looked at me and gave me a polite smile, I remembered that he had no idea who I was, even though he was in part responsible for my having this group of friends.  And of course I didn't know the guy with Cedric, the one Chaz had called Francis.  He was a big guy, over six feet, and  muscular.  He had a gold stud and a gold loop in each ear.  And cornrows.  He looked formidable. He seemed to know everybody else, for he hugged them all.  He asked Max about David.

"You two know each other?  Damn!  I've missed so much," Ced wailed.

Cedric hugged everybody but Tim, Max, and me.  He shook hands with Tim.  Those two seemed very uncomfortable with each other.  Then Ced came up to me and offered me his hand.  "I'm Ced Jones.  I don't believe we've met."

What was I going to say? "Of course we've met.  I've had dinner with you several times.  I've been to see you and Tim at your place.  We've had dinner together in Chicago.  You came back to my condo afterward."  No, I certainly wasn't going to say that.  

"Hi, Ced.  I'm Rick Modarelli.  I'm new in the English Department, and these guys have been kind enough to adopt me."

"Oh, cool!  Good to meet you."

Trey grabbed Cedric's arm and pulled him toward Max.  "Ced, this is Max Hewitt.  He's the new campus minister for St. Peter's Church, and he's an old college buddy of Tim's.  In fact they used to run cross country together at Kenyon, and they still run together every morning."

Ced's smile was splendid. (I want to interrupt my narrative here to confess something.  I had always come close to melting when Cedric smiled.  When Tim introduced us that evening I was here for my interview, the evening the three of us went to Stefan's, I was instantly attracted to the guy.  There was the radiant smile, as if meeting me were the most delightful thing that had happened to him that day.  His disposition seemed to be cheerful.  I know that perpetually sunny people can be a real pain in the ass, but Cedric wasn't just some great-looking bubbly airhead.  He was intelligent. He had a clever wit.  He was one of the best conversationalists I'd ever encountered, and he was only a college senior.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't mean to degrade college seniors. I've know some very impressive ones.  What I want to suggest is that underneath Cedric's very real charm there was a smart, mature guy.  And sexy?  Oh, God, yes.  When I found out later that it was Cedric who insisted that Tim was being wrong-headed about me, I was ready to be his slave for life.  Except, of course, I could see how much those two loved each other, and I wouldn't dream of interfering with that.  Well, perhaps I did dream of it, but I wouldn't have flattered myself that I could entice Ced away from Tim even if my morals hadn't told me that was unthinkable.)

Cedric shook hands with Max and smiled warmly at him.  "Father Max, I'm glad to know you.  I got an email the other day from Mark, and he mentioned you."

Max asked how Mark was doing.  As Ced responded, I noted that Tim was still staring at the back of Cedric's head.  He looked very tense.

Chaz grabbed an unoccupied table and pulled it next to ours, so we were all able to sit together.  Tim asked Francis about someone named Rodney.  

Francis grinned, showing lots of teeth.  He didn't look nearly so scary when he did that.  "Oh, he's in France studying.  He'll be there for at least a year."

"Bummer," Chaz said.  "It's gonna be tough keeping up your relationship with him in Europe, isn't it, Francis?"

Francis grinned again.  "Chaz, we decided just to wait and see what happens.  We're both realistic enough to know that you're right about that.  So we `freed' each other from any obligation.  If he meets some guy over there and they click, so be it. I'm free to do the same.  If we still have feelings for each other when he gets back, why that's great, too."

"What about you, Francis," Max asked, "which seminary did you choose?"

Francis grinned again.  "I'm going to UTS!"

Max touched knuckles with Francis.  "Congratulations, man.  That's great!"

"UTS?" Chaz asked.

Max turned to him.  "Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  One of the very best!"

Everyone congratulated Francis.

The more I saw of that very impressive man, the more I admired him.  He looked like a pro linebacker, but he was headed for the ministry.  He was obviously very intelligent.  Charming.  A pussycat.  I gathered that he and Cedric were old friends and made a mental note to ask one of the guys (but definitely not Tim) about that when I could.

Seven guys, most of whom know each other well, can really talk up a storm.  I don't know how many pitchers of beer were consumed, but perhaps less than one might think.  Chaz had his share, but it didn't seem to affect him.  I noticed that Trey was hardly drinking.  There were, of course, often several conversations going on at once, and Trey seemed to be listening carefully to all of them.  But he was watching Tim.  So was Max.  Tim was watching Cedric, though he wasn't obvious about it.

I can't think when I've ever been in a group where the dynamic was so strange.  I know it must have been difficult for both Ced and Tim.  Cedric was handling it better, but then, though he didn't know Max or me, he was with old friends.  Trey told me Ced and Francis had had a relationship back in high school but that now they were just good friends.  In addition to Francis, Trey and Chaz were there, so three of the original group of four who called themselves the "Brotherhood" were present.  Ced might well have been more comfortable than Tim.  After all, he wasn't desperately in love with anybody there.  Poor Tim was.

I don't mean to imply that Tim sulked or was anything but pleasant.  He certainly kept up his part in the conversations, and he'd laugh when jokes were made.  

After the first round of conversation and beer, various pairings got up and danced.  At one point Tim was dancing with Francis.  They seemed to be having fun together, and they seemed to be talking as they danced.  It was good to see Tim laughing.  And, though I don't know why, I was surprised to see how well Tim moved.  Sexy little stud!  

Chaz pulled Max off to dance, leaving Trey and me at the table with Cedric, who was watching Francis and Tim.

"Man, it really weirds me out that Francis knows Dr. Mead!  Tiger, how did that happen?"

"Well, the first time they met was right here at the Phoenix.  You and Tim were here after having dinner across the river and they stopped by.  Then, later on, Francis and Rodney came to some parties that you and Tim threw at your place.  Oh, and Ced?"


"It would really be nice if you could bring yourself to call Tim by his first name.  The rest of us all do.  When we're not in class, he's just one of the guys."

"Oh, thanks for the suggestion, bro.  It's just that I don't want him to think I've remembered anything about our, uh, relationship."

"Ced, believe me, man, Tim knows that.  But even if you can't remember, you can treat him like a friend and not like some total stranger."

"Shit!  You're right, of course.  As I told you at your place, I really don't want to hurt him.  I can imagine how hard it is for him just to be here.  Maybe Francis and I should leave."

"I wouldn't do that, at least not yet.  You don't want to make him feel you're leaving because of him."

Ced put his hand over Trey's.  "Yeah, man.  Right again.  Thanks for helping me see things."

Francis came over and asked me to dance with him.  I wasn't going to pass up a chance like that, so I gladly went onto the little dance floor with him.  We did a couple of numbers together.  Francis looked me in the eye and kept giving me this sexy smile the whole time.  Ced and Rodney had been lucky guys, I thought, if they'd been to bed with this big hunk.  Then the dj put on a slow number.  Soon, Chaz and Trey were on the floor, holding on to each other and rocking slowly back and forth.  Tim got up, held out his hand to Max, and led him onto the floor.  And there they were, holding each other close, dancing slowly, each with his cheek pressed against the other's.

Francis, Cedric, and I sat at the table, watching the dancers, especially the two couples from our group.

Cedric smiled.  "Look at those two.  Trey says they have a long history together, going all the way back to college.  You can tell that by the way they hold each other, can't you?"

I maintained my role as observer and said nothing.

"Ced, bro, you aren't jealous, are you?" Francis asked.

"Bro, how could I be jealous?"  He looked at me.  "Sorry, professor, if this doesn't sound right.  I remember thinking that Tim was the best prof I'd ever had, and I thought – and still think – that he's really hot.  That's all.  I know he and I lived together for a year.  But I can't remember that.  I can't remember having any special feelings for him.  So, look, if he has feelings for Max, that's great!  I wish them both the best."

"Cedric," Francis said somewhat sharply, "I gotta tell you, bro, I saw you with Tim often enough to know that you were just plain crazy about the man.  When your memory returns, you're going to want him back in the worst way.  So be careful what you wish for."

Cedric sighed and popped Francis on the shoulder gently with his fist.  "I don't think I'm ever going to get my memory back.  It would have come back by now, I think, despite what my doctor says.  So, if Tim can find some happiness, why should he put his life on hold because of me?"

I had always been attracted to Cedric, for his looks, his intelligence, and his charm.  But he went up several more notches in my estimation just then.

Tim had referred to Max several times as his oldest and best friend.  I didn't know whether his feelings were actually stronger than that or not.  I was inclined to doubt it.  I was sure of one thing, however:  Max was in love with Tim.  What a mess for those three.  And the friends that loved them.

We stayed until after midnight.  There were lots of hugs as the party broke up.  I even got hugs from Francis and Cedric.  Cedric and Tim shook hands.

*          *          *


When I agreed to go with Francis to the Phoenix, I never expected to bump into that gang from the university.  It's always great to see Trey and Chaz.  Seeing Tim, though, made my mouth go dry and my hands sweat.  I just felt really awkward around him.  We had, I'd been assured, been lovers, although no one would tell me how that had come about.  I have to say that it was pretty weird seeing Tim and wondering what our life together had been like.  And I admit sometimes since I'd found out that we'd been together, I'd had some interesting fantasies about sex with him.  

The one they said was a priest, Max, seemed liked a nice guy.  He appeared to be tight with Chaz and Trey and Tim.  He seemed to be watching Tim a lot.  The new prof, Rick, seemed nice enough, too, though he was pretty quiet.  He just watched and listened, mostly.

It was a real jolt when Francis hugged not only Chaz and Trey but Tim and Father Max as well.  So much had gone on during the year I "lost," and I began to despair of ever getting my memory of all that back.  I felt, in a way, like an outsider with this group.

Tim had been as tense as I was the day I visited him.  He was very polite but obviously nervous.  When, at the Phoenix, he danced with his friend the priest, I relaxed a little, especially since it was Tim who pulled Max onto the dance floor.  Max looked a little embarrassed, in fact.  But I noticed that they danced really close to each other.  I understood that those two had a longstanding friendship, but I couldn't help wondering if it was more than that.  Was it possible that Tim never loved me as much as Angel and Trey kept insisting he did?  And was I jealous?  How could I be jealous?

Thinking about it, I was actually relieved.  I thought maybe I didn't need to feel so guilty if Tim and Father Hewitt had a good thing going.

*          *          *


It was probably a big mistake to dance with Tim.  If it had been one of those numbers where everyone puts his arms up and gyrates, it wouldn't have been so bad.  But this was Barbra singing, slow and sentimental, the kind of music that is for lovers dancing close.  I had assured Trey that I'd never do anything to come between Cedric and Tim.  And I meant it.  At least I'd never initiate anything with Tim.  I didn't know whether I could resist if he ever made the approach.

And it was Tim who pulled me onto the dance floor.  I couldn't have refused even if I had been inclined to.  I don't think Tim would have been petty enough to dance with me just because Cedric was there with Francis.  Maybe he simply needed comforting.  He might have gotten what he needed from Trey, but Trey was with Chaz.  So Tim looked to me for consolation, perhaps.  But by the time we went back to the table, we both had erections.

*          *          *


It was probably a big mistake to dance with Max.  I'm still not quite sure what possessed me to drag him onto the dance floor.  I think seeing Ced there, especially seeing him with Francis, whom he'd always described as "an old fuckbuddy and a good friend," convinced me that I should, perhaps, get on with things.  Ced was physically recovered and now seemed his usual, charming, sexy self.  His being at the Phoenix with Francis was evidence that he wasn't staying home and brooding.

I had a terrible pang when I saw him with Francis.  Ced should have been with me.  And then I felt petty for having feelings like that.

Later, watching Max dance with Chaz, I wanted to dance with him.  We'd never done that, since back in Kenyon neither of us had known the other was gay.  When the Streisand piece started, I wanted Max to hold me.  I thought I might find some refuge in his strong arms.  I'm sure I surprised him when I asked him to dance with me.  He looked startled and even apprehensive when I took his hand and said, "Come on, Hewitt, let's dance."  But he didn't resist.

On the floor, as we had our arms around each other, it felt so very good.  And, I suddenly realized, Max probably hadn't had that kind of contact since David left.  So I told myself there was nothing wrong with two best friends giving each other comfort and consolation.

As we danced, however, our bodies touching from cheek to chest to pelvis, arms around each other, I began to get hard.  My first reaction was to pull away.  Then I said to myself that Max, who knew me better than anyone, would understand, so I relaxed.  Except for my dick.  And then I began to feel his hard cock pressed against me.

To be continued.