Evan and I drove Ben to the airport the Saturday after New Year's. He'd been at our place since noon yesterday, just hanging out, helping me sort through the stuff in the barn. Evan worked that morning, but played hooky in the afternoon and we took advantage of the mild weather to take the bikes out. Firing up the Pan in the echo-y cavern of the old barn made my ears ring, so I pushed her outside as Evan dusted off his bike. We hadn't ridden hardly at all toward the end of the year, and I smiled as the engine rumbled between my legs.
Evan's Fat Boy had a double saddle, so Ben rode with him. We only went for a couple hours, but it was great to be back in the wind again. When we stopped for a while at a park, sitting on a picnic table while we admired the sun glinting off the bikes, Ben finally noticed the Pan's paint job.
"Is that... Is it Evan?" he asked, circling the bike and leaning close to see the detail.
"Well, sorta. It's what I remembered about him, anyway. By the time I got around to getting her painted, it had been a few months since I'd seen him, so it's kind of an interpretation, I guess."
When we got ready to head home, Ben insisted he wanted a ride on the Pan, so he climbed onto the six-inch square pad of black leather that passed for a passenger seat, fisted his hands into the sides of my jacket, and off we roared. I rode into the barn before I stopped to let Ben off, and he groaned and rubbed his ass while I laughed at him.
"I told you that thing wasn't a real seat," I said.
We cooked on the grill, but the weather cooled off with the setting sun, so we ate dinner in front of the fire. Since his flight was early, Ben spent the night in the spare room as our first overnight guest. I was overly-conscious of someone across the hall, but it didn't seem to bother Evan, and when he came with his cock buried in my throat, he groaned loud enough for the guy down the road to hear, never mind the bedroom across the hall. Either my blow job was particularly good that night, or Evan was trying to impress Ben. I was betting on my bj.
Breakfast was coffee and toast since it was only 6AM, and the conversation during the ride to the airport was punctuated by our yawns. When we got to the terminal, we unloaded Ben's luggage onto the curb, and said goodbye. I'd gotten fond of him in the few days he'd been around and gave him a big hug.
"Let us know the next time you come home, you can just stay at our place."
"That'd be cool. My mom's acting like nothing's wrong, but she looks at me funny now. It's so weird cause, like, I'm the same guy I was before I told them." He sighed and shook his head before glancing at us a little shyly. "You guys are kinda my role models, you know? I mean, you've got your shit together, you have each other. It's like... somethin' to shoot for."
I watched Evan hug him, paying attention to what I felt, but it was all good. After Ben disappeared through the sliding doors, Evan turned to me as we climbed back into the car. "Thanks for putting up with him hanging around. He's like the little brother I never had, I guess."
"I wasn't just putting up with him. I like him, too."
Evan just smiled and squeezed my leg.
The following Tuesday morning, I was driving back home from grocery shopping when I saw the old guy who lived a couple farms down from us. He was walking out to his mailbox and waving at me. A small herd of dogs milled around his legs. Everybody waved at everybody out here in the country, so I lifted a hand from the wheel. As I got closer, he waved a little harder and I figured that he was flagging me down, so I pulled over into the wide spot where his driveway turned in, and rolled down the window. As he ducked down to squint at me from the passenger side, I saw that his sparse white hair stood up here and there like he'd just gotten out of bed, but his brown eyes were keen when they met mine.
"Mornin'." He bobbed his head once. "Sonny de Luca."
"Jeff Caldwell." We shook across the bags of groceries on my passenger seat. A shaggy head appeared as one of the dogs peered in for a moment.
"You the feller bought the old Morris place?"
"Uhhh..." Shit. I'd been meaning to ask Sharon what her grandparent's names were. They'd sold the Farm to Sharon several years ago, so their names hadn't appeared on our real estate documents anywhere, and I knew them only as Grandpa and Nana. "Yeah, I think so..."
"You think so? Jesus Christ, boy," he said amiably, "slipped your mind, did it, whether you bought yourself a piece a property or not? How you find your way home at night if ya don't know where ya live?" Eyes crinkled almost shut, he wheezed mirthfully.
I gave him a tight smile. "We bought Brookside Farm, the one with the long lane and the wooden mailbox."
"Yeah," he nodded as he got his chuckling under control. "That's it. Ed and Becky's place." His face clouded over. "Shame about Becky. Stopped by t'other day to see her and she didn't know me from Adam. First time `at's happened. Pretty goddamn depressin'. Always liked Becky, but she didn't have eyes for no one but Ed."
We were silent for a moment, and then he looked at me more closely. "We?"
"Yes," I said clearly. "Me and my partner. You might know him, you bein' an old-timer and all." His eyes narrowed further. "Evan Tanner? Lawyer here in town? Don and Maggie's boy?"
His face cleared up. "I know `im right enough. Helluva football player. Used ta be, anyway, `fore that drunk run into `em. Partner, huh?" He looked thoughtful for a moment, and then shook his head. "Hard to understand a man not havin' a hankerin' for a woman."
On that note, I thought to myself as I straightened up and started to put the Jeep in gear, but Sonny was still leaning in the open window on his folded arms. We stared at each other for a few moments.
I could see the internal struggle on his face as he blinked and chewed on the inside of his cheek, but finally his natural gregariousness won out and he launched into a safer subject.
"Ed use ta run a real nice place there. Whachu you boys gonna do with it?" He eyed my black jeans, retro bowling shirt, and black loafers. "Don't look much like a farmer t'me."
"Well, we just moved in a couple weeks ago, so we haven't really given it a lot of thought."
"Well, you should get you some animals. Shame to let all that pasture go to waste. And a few chickens. Can't beat a egg fresh outta the hen."
"We already have a dog. And cows next door." That sounded stupid the minute it was out of my mouth, but I didn't need this crusty old fart telling me what we needed.
"Cows next door?" Sonny hooted. "And one dog? Hell, boy, you're barely gettin' started in the animal department."
God, little did I know then how true his words would turn out to be.
"O-K. Well, good talkin' to you. I gotta get the milk in the fridge." I edged the window up until he got the hint and stepped back. When I got back on the road and glanced in my rear view mirror, I could see him standing by his mailbox laughing and waving goodbye. Crazy old coot.
I told Evan about him that night. "Chickens, huh? How hard can that be? Fresh eggs sound great."
"Forget it. We don't have a place to keep them and absolutely no idea how to take care of them. They'd be dead in a week, the ones the foxes didn't get."
Evan rolled his eyes at me, but I was right and he didn't press the issue.
When you hear about couples splitting up, and you ask why and they say, "We just didn't agree on anything," I always figure they're talking about some major issue like how to handle money -- one person wants joint checking and the other wants to divvy up the bills and keep everything separate. Or politics -- they can't stand it that they cancel each other's vote every time. Or something.
After an incident in the middle of January, I realized that the little things had the potential to cause trouble as readily as the big ones.
One morning, Evan squeezed the tail end out of his tube of Colgate, pitched it in the trash, and turned to me. "Wanna add that to the grocery list?"
I nodded, and later at the store, I tossed a new tube of Crest, my favorite, in the cart. That night Evan pulled open the vanity drawer, poked around, and then turned to me. "Did you get toothpaste?"
"Yeah, it's in the cupboard."
He opened the door and looked. "Where?"
"Right there," I said, pointing with the gooey end of my toothbrush.
"Which is toothpaste," I pointed out, not as politely as I could have, I suppose.
He turned and looked at me for a long second. "I like Colgate."
I stared at him for a moment, but he didn't so much as crack a smile. "You aren't serious?"
"As a heart attack."
"But it's just toothpaste." Not the smartest comment I ever made.
"Then buy Colgate."
"But I... like..." My words trailed off and he gave me a thin smile.
"Exactly my point."
He brushed his teeth with Crest the next couple days, but I could tell he wasn't happy about it. I gave it some thought before I went to the store the following week, and that night when Evan pulled open his drawer, he reached for the toothpaste and froze. He finally picked up the tube of Pepsodent, loaded up his toothbrush, and scrubbed his teeth so hard I thought he'd wear the enamel right off them.
I pulled out my own matching tube of Pepsodent, careful to lay it on the counter where he couldn't miss it, and began brushing my teeth. After a few moments, our eyes met in the mirror. His were flinty at first, but finally the ridiculousness of the whole thing got to him and he started to grin around his toothbrush. When I smiled back, we both lost it and cracked up, spraying toothpaste all over the mirror.
After we got it cleaned up, Evan leaned his butt against the counter, looped his arms around my waist, and pulled me between his legs. As he chewed on my neck, he said, "If I ask real nice, will you buy me some fucking Colgate? That's what I've used my whole life and the other stuff tastes funny."
When he added a hand down the back of my boxers to the neck chewing, I promised him I'd make a special trip into town in the morning.
Just before Evan left the house the next day, we got a call from Sharon with the news that she and Tom were opening Patterson Homes, along with her assistant from Rita's. When I offered to set up the computers for her, she laughed and said she was hoping I'd volunteer since neither of them had a clue.
After a parting kiss, Evan smiled. "I'm glad she thought about it."
I grabbed my toolbox, and after I was done Evan's buying Colgate, I went over to the house they'd purchased. It was a two-story Victorian, built sometime in the `20's with sharp angled peaks and dormers, and lots of fancy trim. It stood just at the edge of downtown on a big lot with a white picket fence. A sign swung on a post by the gate.
Sharon flung the door open and welcomed me with a hug. Tom was a nice guy, early forties, glasses; and Leah, the assistant, a skinny Asian girl, seemed efficient as she unpacked boxes and organized the office areas.
They were nervous but excited about opening their own business, and Sharon talked non-stop as she showed me around. It was a cute place with a lot of character. Built-in cabinets in most rooms provided lots of storage, and the walnut molding and trim gave the place a classy look. From the looks of it, it had been a while since the main floor had been used as a residence. The upstairs was a large apartment that she was moving into the following Saturday, so I volunteered my services for that, also.
I ran wiring, installed several printers, hooked up the four workstations they needed, got the network going on the server that I was donating to the cause, and set up everyone's laptop to work with the wireless router.
Kenny was building their website. He and I hadn't gotten together to talk computers yet, so when Sharon said she needed to run some stuff over to him, I offered to take it. He answered the door in jeans and a snug white t-shirt that defined his big shoulders nicely as he rolled himself back into his office. I pulled up a chair, and we spent a fun couple hours one-upping each other with programming tips and tricks. Geek stuff, but we had a good time.
We broke about 4pm for a beer in the kitchen. Kenny was in such a good mood that I asked him if he'd won the lottery. He grinned.
"Almost that good. Rafael and I had big talk the other night. He's been kinda weird since Christmas, so I finally asked him about it. I guess your rings really got him wound up, and after you two had lunch, he couldn't sleep for thinking about getting married or something. I finally got him calmed down enough to talk it out." He paused, shaking his head and chuckling. "We decided we don't need anything formal between us. Either we have what it takes to make it through a lifetime together, or we don't. Rings on our fingers aren't going to change who we are and what we feel. Not that we're knocking the rings you guys got each other -- far from it..."
"Well, fuck - I guessed that one wrong. I figured you guys'd beat feet to the jewelry store."
He smiled and shook his head. "Nope, but we'll be together as long as you two are. Guaranteed!"
I returned the smile. "I believe it. I think the rings are something Evan and I needed. Both of us are a little shaky in the confidence department, and having this," I held up my hand, "on my finger takes a little of that edge off."
We sat there for a while, drinking our beers and talking about our respective relationships. Rafael arrived just as I was getting up to go, grabbed me in a headlock, and gave me a pretty good noogie.
"What're you doin' here - seducin' my boyfriend?"
I snorted and rolled my eyes as I tried to wiggle loose. "Dude, you'll know when I seduce your boyfriend -- he won't be able to wipe the smile off his face for a week."
Rafael tightened his hold and wrestled me around the kitchen, forcing me to grab him in return. My face was pressed against his tight stomach, and I had my right arm around his waist while I gripped his left thigh with my other hand. His body was as hard as it had looked the time I'd seen him fresh out of the shower, and the close contact gave me a quick hard-on. Finally, I slid my hand up his leg and gave his nuts firm squeeze. When he released me, I straightened out my shirt and my dick, and then made a big show of kissing Kenny goodbye, tilting his chair back into my legs and laying a big, noisy wet one on him. He moaned theatrically and pretended to faint. I cracked up and Rafael scowled at us as he rubbed his balls.
I waggled my fingers bye-bye, blew him a kiss, and sidled out the door, not wanting to get too close to him in case he tried to even the score.
When I got to the Farm, Evan wasn't home yet, so I grabbed the axe Ben and I had found in the barn and chopped up firewood until I saw his car turn in from the road. Chewy dashed out to meet him, racing the car up the lane, and leaping about in goofy delight as Evan got out to fling a stick for him. He watched the dog streak off into the weeds, then strolled over and eyed my mountain of fire wood.
"Workin' off some excess energy?"
"Nah, just feelin' good." I wrapped an arm around his shoulders and we went in to dinner, leaving the dog outside to romp. That evening I told Evan about my conversation with Kenny.
"Huh." He looked at me. "I barely gave a second thought as to whether or not you'd want a ring from me. It just seemed like the thing to do, so I did it. But not for them, I guess. Different strokes."
The last Monday in January, I got Evan out the door to work, then packed up some stuff to eat and headed back through the woods to the little cemetery. Again, Chewy was very reluctant to come inside the circle of stones, but when he saw we were there to stay, he sidled in, staying well away from the graves. I looked at them again, one by one, going down the row and saying their names aloud. Buddy. Rusty. Dumb Pearl. Tucker. Somehow it didn't feel as sad a place as it had the day I'd discovered it, and it was good, in a gloomy sort of way, to know that Chewy would be buried here when his time came.
Finally I turned my attention to the wall. That morning I had Googled `stone walls' and discovered that this one was dry-stacked field stone. There was no mortar holding the stones in place, so building it was a methodical process of fitting each stone in place so that it both rested steadily on the stones below and provided a secure base for the stones above.
Not a quick way to build wall, one site noted, but added that the end result was a lovely, lasting wall that a man could be proud of.
I walked the inside perimeter of the circle, brushing leaves away so that I could see the wall. I assumed Ed had built the original wall, and as he'd gotten older, he'd been unable to maintain it, but it wasn't as bad as I remembered. The undamaged areas were about three feet tall, and there were a couple sections where the rocks were displaced almost to ground level. I started in one of these spots, carefully trying different stones each time until I found the one that just seemed to fit, and little by little, the wall took shape.
After a few hours, my back was sore and I had a purple fingernail from setting a rock down before I had all my fingers out of the way. I leaned back against the section I'd just finished, smiling in satisfaction when it didn't wobble or shift. Chewy and I ate lunch together -- bologna sandwiches and Fritos -- while I enjoyed the peacefulness of the spot.
The cemetery was far enough from any roads that you couldn't hear civilization at all, except for the far-away whine of a jet overhead. Because we were sitting still and quiet, the local wildlife went about its daily business, and Chew and I were treated to a variety of birds lighting briefly on the grave stones or in the little tree. I had no idea what any of them were, although one was red all over and I figured that had to be a cardinal. Since moving to the Farm, I'd begun to really look around and appreciate what a beautiful place our ten acres was.
I put in another two hours on the wall before walking slowly back to the house. Another couple days like today and I could bring Evan back here and show him my little discovery. Visiting the dead dogs definitely touched me someplace deep inside. It slowed me down and made me thoughtful, and I liked that something so simple as dog graves could do that to me.
I walked out to meet Evan in the drive when he got home, pulling him to me in a tight hug. He hugged me briefly and then started to pull away, but when he realized I was still hanging on, he wrapped me up and just held me without talking until I loosened my arms and stepped back.
He looked a question at me, but I just shook my head. "Nothin'. Just glad to see you."
He held my eyes for another moment, but then smiled and put his arm over my shoulders as we walked up the steps. After dinner Evan hit the couch with stacks of information from Child Protective Services. He was putting in long hours studying up on our state's laws and resources for children and families. I picked up a book and got comfortable leaning back against the other arm of the sofa, but I didn't even turn on the lamp. Instead, I found myself studying Evan's profile as he read.
This late in the day, his beard was dark against his pale skin. Now and then he'd frown or jot something on the note pad that seemed to live by his right hand these days. He'd taken off his tie and unbuttoned his top couple shirt buttons, and I could see a little tuft of black hair curling out over the neck of his t-shirt. When you knew someone's body like I knew Evan's, you no longer had to imagine where that little black curl led. You knew that it widened into a triangle between his tight, pink nipples, then disappeared to almost nothing before picking up again just below his belly button.
And from there...
Well, from there, it widened again into a nest of short black curls that were just the right length to tug on with my lips and nuzzle my nose through. Short black curls that surrounded a pretty pink cock that fit just perfectly in my mouth. With that dick-hardening thought in mind, I stared at Evan's crotch for a minute. His suit pants were roomy enough that I couldn't see anything definite, but I didn't need to - I knew exactly what was in there.
My sigh must have been audible because Evan finally looked up. His eyes travelled up my body, stopped briefly on the outline of my stiff prick slanting across my belly, then came up to my face. Our eyes held for a minute before he put his stack of pamphlets on the coffee table and turned to crawl along the sofa toward me. I put one foot on the floor to make room for him, but he nudged his knees under my thighs until my legs were bent and raised, and the firm mound of his groin was nestled into the seam of my jeans.
Not my usual position, but it felt pretty damn good and it made me think of that first weekend with Evan, when he'd topped me. He ran his hands up the backs of my thighs, stopping behind my knees to push them even closer to my chest. My end of the couch was dim, making his eyes darker than usual, and they roamed over my face for a moment before locking on mine.
"What's botherin' you?" he asked softly, almost whispering in the quiet room.
"Nothing," I whispered back. "Honest. I just..." I didn't even know how to express what I was feeling. It was a longing that swelled my chest and tightened my throat, but I didn't have words for it.
And then, suddenly, I did. I licked my dry lips before speaking. "I need you." So different than `I love you.' Deeper, more visceral. So vulnerable. Even the word itself sounded intense. Need.
Evan's face softened at my words, and after a moment, he nodded slowly, acknowledging the difference. "Like I need you."
We watched each other as Evan lowered his face to mine, and we kissed. His mouth was soft and warm, and I made little sounds in the back of my throat when he sucked gently on my tongue. After a few minutes, he sat up slightly, enough to see me again.
"Are you sure nothin's the matter?"
I nodded. "Yeah."
He studied my face for a moment, gauging my sincerity. "You'd tell me if there was, right? If anything was wrong?"
I nodded again. "There is something. But it's not wrong," I hastened to add when his face clouded over. "I'll show you soon, I promise."
"Yeah, it's... a place."
"Here? On the Farm?" I nodded. "All right," he said after a minute. "But no big secrets, ok?"
Wednesday morning I walked out to get the mail, turning it over backwards and opening envelopes as I strolled along. When I had them all open, I turned them back over and started flipping through them. More real estate papers. A card from Callie. A financial statement addressed to Evan from a bank that we'd didn't use stopped me, and I hesitated only briefly before pulling it out and unfolding the single sheet of paper. My eyes went immediately to the bottom of the page and locked onto the current balance.
Three million bucks? The conversation we'd had in the Jeep that day about the difference in our salaries came back to mind. We'd been talking peanuts compared to this. Why.....
After staring at the amount for several seconds, I scanned the rest of the statement. The account had been funded in December of the year Evan graduated from high school, with an opening deposit of $1,600,000.00. The settlement from the accident, that's the only thing it could be. Evan had never mentioned it to me, but then I'd never asked, either.
Now that I lived in Patterson, the accident came to mind more often than it had before, but I wasn't real comfortable asking Evan about it, and he hadn't brought it up in a while. There was still a lot I didn't know about what had happened that June night.
Was the crash site here in town somewhere? Had we driven through the intersection on the way to get pizza? I tried to recall if Evan had been weird about any particular parts of town, but nothing came to mind.
What did he remember about it? Had he even been conscious through the whole thing?
Knowing the answers to those questions wouldn't change anything, but I wanted to understand Evan, understand what made him tick, what his worries were, what gave him joy, what kept him awake at night, and I knew that some of those answers would be found in the accident and its aftermath.
When I got back to the house, I laid the statement on the table by the front door and waited for Evan to come home. I was in my office when I heard his car, and by the time I walked into the living room, he was looking down at the paper. When he heard me, he glanced up. We looked at each other across the room for a few seconds before I spoke.
"No big secrets, right? Isn't that what you told me? Three million dollars seems like a pretty goddamn big secret to me."
I don't know where my anger came from. Insecurity, I guess. Evan was fucking rich by my standards, and it freaked me out to discover that there was such a difference in our finances. I hadn't yet earned even a quarter of that in my entire goddamn life.
Evan was still for a moment as my words hung in the air. Then he draped his coat over a chair, but didn't come to me.
"I meant to tell you a long time ago, but... somehow it was never the right time." He sighed and rubbed a hand across his forehead. "The guy who hit us had money, and that was his second DUI, so they threw the book at him. It didn't help that all four of us were high school standouts in one way or another, and that he'd killed one of us." He stopped for a second, staring at the floor. "The settlements stood up to the appeals and were invested. As you can see, they've done well. Each of us used it to go to school so our folks wouldn't have to foot the bill, but since then we haven't touched it."
He wouldn't meet my eyes until I said, "Did you think I'd be pissed that you had money, for Christ sake? Or that I'd expect you to share it with me or something?" Then they shot up to mine.
"No!" He folded up the statement and tucked it into his briefcase. "I don't know. Too much money can get you in trouble. I just didn't want anything to fuck us up." He paused and searched my face. "Are you angry that I didn't tell you sooner?"
"No. Well, not much," I added when he made a face. "It surprised me, ok? I mean, it's a lotta money."
"Yeah, it is." Evan smiled grimly. "When we bought the house, my lawyer wanted you to sign a pre-nup sort of thing. I told him to fuck off."
"Thanks. You never used any more of it? Not to buy the condo or anything?"
"No." He looked away from me before walking over to stare into the cold fireplace. "It's like... blood money or something. I quit opening the statements when I graduated from college cause it didn't matter anymore." Our eyes met across the room. "You think I'm nuts, don't you? We could buy this place outright and save all that interest. Or be driving new cars. But I can't do it. I can't enjoy the money that paid off what happened to me... to Luke... to all of us. I... I'm sorry..."
I reached Evan just as he finished speaking, looking into his somber gray eyes when he lifted his head. "I don't think you're nuts. You never mention Luke's parents. They got his money, right? Are they still here in town?"
He snorted, a rude noise that conveyed much more than his words. "No, they moved away after the trial. My folks probably know where they are, but I don't."
"Why didn't you just give the money away? Donate it, or start a scholarship fund in Luke's name or something?"
He smiled at me. "Great minds... We did that. Me, Raf and Kenny. We set up a fund that sends four kids to college every year. One for each of us." His smile dimmed. "I present mine and Luke's each year at graduation. The first couple years, I couldn't get through my little speech without crying, but it got easier. Seeing how happy the kids were made it easier. It's a chance, you know? We're giving them a chance."
He reached for me then, dropping his forehead to my shoulder with a heavy sigh, and we stopped talking until Chewy came nosing around, asking about supper.
Kenny and I worked on computer stuff together a couple days each week, finding that our abilities really dove-tailed well. One day I was walking him through a long string of code when he said, "Fuck, I should just refer these people to you, or you need to sit here every day so that when I get stuck, you can fix it."
I laughed. "That'd be great, but you don't pay for shit, and I got a dog and a boyfriend to feed, so..."
"Yeah, but..." he was silent for a long moment. "But if we worked together, we could offer a wider range of services."
I stared at him while I thought it through. Like a personal relationship, a business partnership required maturity, compromise, tact -- all those things I was still learning with Evan. Did I want to give up the total flexibility of my little solo gig for the constraints of working with someone? But there was a plus side, too. Kenny knew the whole website thing inside out, which I got requests for but wasn't slick enough at to offer on my own.
His eyebrows shot up. "Ok?"
"Yeah, let's do it. Where do we start?"
"Uh, well... We, um, need to have some sort of business plan, like are we gonna split the profits 50-50, that sorta stuff. And something to present to our current clients and to prospective ones. What we can do, what we charge, some samples of our work -- that kinda shit. Actually, I guess we have most of that already, just need to get it all on one website, and start gettin' the word out."
We spent the rest of the day designing a site that made the most of both our skill sets. By four o'clock, both Kenny and I were pleased with the way our talents meshed.
When Evan got home, I was still riding the high that comes with something new, and told him all about it over dinner.
"... sooo, I think we can make a go of it. We'll be offering more services than either of us does now, some really custom stuff that big outfits just won't touch." Evan was smiling as he helped himself to more meatloaf. "What?"
"You," he said, grinning at me. "I've never seen you this wound up about something."
"Yeah, well... I've been working by myself for a long time, and it's fun to be doing something different with it."
"Speaking of which -- we're starting work on the 2nd floor next week. You wanna give me a quote on getting us all set up in there? I want a website, too. Our own, not just a page on the firm's site. And I expect a screamin' deal from you two."
"Can't speak for Kenny, but I'll make you scream, and it won't be about the price, either."
"Promises, promises." He rolled his eyes.
"And we'd like you to help us draw up some sort of agreement. Nothing real formal, but we figure we need something that spells out how we share the income and expenses."
"Good idea. We can do that when you guys come to see the offices. Call my secretary to see when I'm free."
I threw myself into our new venture, spending most of every day with Kenny, talking things over, brainstorming, and having programming binges where we could barely type fast enough. It was exhilarating and exhausting, and we picked up an early rush of business from most of our existing customers, all of them happy that we were expanding, and promising to send more work our way.
Kenny and I made an appointment to see Evan, (I thought he was kidding that night when he told me to call his secretary) and spent an hour going through the now empty 2nd floor, mapping out where work stations were needed, the server room, client-use stations, and roughing out the basics of the website.
A couple days later, I presented him with a bid which he accepted in writing, and Kenny and I were off and running with our first new job as business partners. While Kenny sat in front of his puter tinkering with the site, I spent a week running cable, installing wall jacks, testing lines, loading programs onto the computers Evan would be using, and programming the server.
I also spent a memorable (but unbillable) twenty minutes blowing Evan in what would become his new office. It was about seven in the evening, and I'd just finished the last of 29 wall jacks, which happened to be in a large corner room. Evan wandered in while I was gathering up my tools.
"You still here? I was just about to call and tell you that I was on my way." He walked up very close to me. "But here you are." His tongue slid along my jaw. "Right here in my new office." His teeth nipped at my earlobe and his voice had gone to a throaty whisper. "With all your tools." He rubbed the heel of his hand firmly down my dick, snorting softly when it responded, and then cupped my nuts.
I tucked my fingers into his waistband and sank to the floor between his black loafers. Evan's cock was just firming up when I freed it from his shorts, and I sucked it in with an enthusiasm that made him draw a shuddery breath. He planted both hands on my head, flexing his fingers into my scalp, while I kept a hand wrapped around his shaft and worked his balls with the other, letting a fingertip tickle further back now and then.
Giving head can be almost meditative when I'm in the right frame of mind, and that afternoon I lost myself in the smell of him, the feel of his skin pulling tight on the down-strokes, gathering up in my mouth on the up-strokes. I tightened my lips at the tip of his cock and sucked gently using my tongue, something he loves, and smiled to myself at his open-mouthed moan.
When he started to shoot, I pulled off and pumped him by hand onto the dusty floor. While he was in the throes of orgasm, I looked up to see him leaned back against the wall, eyes closed, trousers held up by his spread thighs, muscles taut with the effort of ejaculation. Hot as fuck, I thought, and I could feel my hard, leaky cock pressed against my jeans. Evan finally relaxed enough to open his eyes and look down at me, and at the creamy splatters on the floor.
"Thank god they're gonna carpet next week."
Sharon had taken to coming over for supper on Wednesdays. The first time was in late January when she was depressed about Nana and invited herself. The next Wednesday, I ran into her in town when I was shopping and told her to come over. The third time, she called to ask what she should bring, and after that, it was just sort of understood. She'd pull in the drive around five, and we'd drink wine and talk while we cooked. Sometimes she brought ingredients; other times I had something already planned, but she always brought a little something for Chew and, like Pavlov's dogs, he began to salivate the minute he heard her car. By the time Evan got home, two of the three of us were pleasantly sloshed and we all greeted him cheerfully.
She and I were developing a close friendship, sharing bits of ourselves while chopping carrots or sautéing onions. I showed her Maggie's little cookbook, which brought a wistful smile to her face, and I figured she was missing her own mother.
She and Tom had decided to step outside the box of traditional real estate advertising, and had taken pictures of Evan and I, and Rafael and Kenny in the homes they'd sold us. In our photo, Evan and I are rocking on the front porch with Chewy snoozing at our feet. A corner of the barn is at the edge of the frame, and it is the very picture of bucolic charm. Mr. and Mr. Country Gentlemen.
She took the pictures on a sunny but frigid day at the end of January, so we wore our Christmas sweaters, but it was still very cold. We sat there with our hands in our armpits while she fiddled with her camera. When I gave a convulsive shiver, Evan finally hollered at her.
"Any time this goddamn year would be outstanding!"
She just gave him the finger and twiddled with the settings until she was satisfied. By the time she finally turned the camera on us, Evan had pulled me onto his lap and had his tongue buried in my mouth. Chewy was barking and we were laughing almost too hard to kiss.
"Oh, gross," she yelled. "This isn't a porn shoot."
We got untangled and back in position for her to click off a series of shots. She surprised us the following week with one she'd snapped before she yelled at us. Evan's hands have a firm grip on my ass, my arms are wrapped around his neck, and our mouths are glued together in a ferocious lip-lock. It does indeed look like a still from a hayseed porno.
The picture of Rafael and Kenny has them in their front doorway with Kenny's wheelchair ramp plainly visible. Rafael is in profile, with his good side to the camera, leaning his butt against his hands, which are holding the door frame. He's slightly bending down to Kenny, and they're both laughing. Kenny's hand is wrapped around Rafael's thigh, as it often is, and the photo epitomizes the happy, home-owning, gay couple - one of whom just happens to be in a wheelchair.
Sharon had flyers made with our two photos alongside one of a more traditional couple with two kids; however, the husband was Black and the woman Caucasian. The headline on the flyer was 'Patterson Homes -- offering something for everyone.'
She plastered them all over the county and ran it as an ad in the daily paper. A week later, I couldn't go into the supermarket or hardware store without getting the eye from the locals. Most folks were pretty friendly, and since a lot of them knew about Evan's accident, they accepted our relationship more easily than they might have otherwise.
Sharon and Tom had an open house one Saturday in February. The Victorian was decked out with balloons and signs, and when we arrived, she introduced us to the other couple in the ad. He was from South Africa and had met his wife when she did a stint there in the Peace Corps. They'd moved back here when they married, and owned a car repair place in town.
I cornered Sharon by the cookies. "Aren't you worried about alienating Mr. and Mrs. Straight White America?"
"Nah," she said, shoving a cookie in her mouth. "Ya know what? If I never sell another house to a straight, white couple, we won't starve. This is a really diverse area, and we've already gotten calls from all sorts of non-white, non-straight folks, including a couple you might enjoy. Marc is a musician, and his partner Michael works at the hospital; he's a psychiatrist, I think, or maybe a psychologist. They're in a condo between here and the city, but they wanna move to Patterson and I plan to sell them a house."
She was probably right. When it was over, I collected Evan and we headed home to the Farm, to an evening in front of the fire. We both loved to read, and spent hours lying at either end of the couch with our feet and legs tangled up in the middle. Tonight I was feeling drowsy, ending up with my open book face down on my chest and Evan's foot pressed snugly below my balls, something I found very comforting.
I posted a deleted scene from Panhead on my blog. It's from when I was going to have all the boys fool around with each other. No actual sex, just Jeff talking with Raf and Kenny about the possibilities. http://qwb224.wordpress.com/