Thank God I had programmed to record Callie's cooking class well in advance because I totally forgot about the damn thing until I was watching Evan at the stove that night. I jumped up and took a quick look at the calendar, then slumped in relief. It was the day after tomorrow, plenty of time for me to call and wish her luck. She and I emailed back and forth a couple times a week, but something as momentous as a television appearance rated a phone call.
"Hey, Callie, it's Jeff. D-Day minus two, huh?"
The lack of enthusiasm in her voice instantly had me imagining that she was ill or that something had happened. "What's the matter? You ok?"
"Well, you don't have to yell at me. I, uh... I got my hair done this morning and it's... awful."
I almost said `is that all?' but even I know enough about women to know that wasn't a smart thing to say. "What did they do?"
"Well, I had her color it. I thought it might make me look better on TV."
"Okaaay. What color is it?"
"Kind of green."
"Green? St Paddy's Day is over. Sorry, sorry," I added quickly when she started to sputter. "Why did you do anything? Your hair was fine. Can't you get them to fix it?"
"Well, it was just the lady down the street and she's as upset as I am."
"God. Call a real salon. I'm sure they can do something."
"I hope so."
We moved on to what she was going to wear (a new blue sweater), how envious her online poker pals were, how she couldn't wait to see whats-his-name in person, her first celebrity encounter. "Have you ever met a star?" she asked me.
I snorted. "No, I don't move in those circles."
I wished her luck with her hair and we said goodbye.
Two days later, Kenny and I watched a group of women flock around the pompous cooking guy. I looked hard but it took me a while to spot Callie. Instead of her usual untidy gray bun, she was sporting a wavy chin-length `do, with the front part pulled back in a clip. No longer green, it was a shade of gray somewhat darker than her hair had been and looked great with the blue sweater.
They made a chocolate soufflé that looked fabulous when the guy pulled the previously-made demo version out of the oven, all puffed up and steaming. You could practically see the dark, sweet aroma of chocolate wafting into the air. The star joked and pranced around, the ladies flirted, whisked eggs and melted chocolate, and it all looked like a lot of fun, if you were into that sort of thing. At the end, the camera followed the chef around the room as he inspected everyone's efforts.
When he came to Callie, he stopped and stared at her soufflé, which looked like all the others to my untrained eye. All I could think was `oh, Christ, he's gonna embarrass the crap out of her on national television and she'll never speak to me again.' But he turned to the camera, brought his bunched fingers to his mouth and kissed them in the universal gesture of approval. Then he lifted the soufflé in one hand, put his other arm around Callie's shoulders and said, "This. This is how you make a soufflé. Bravo!"
Callie beamed, everyone clapped politely and it was over for the day.
Shortly after I got home that afternoon, a truck rattled up to the house and Chewy burst into a frenzy of barking. Over the racket I heard a voice and looked out the front door to see Sonny hollering, "Hello the house!" from a rusty old red Ford pickup. He broke into a grin when he saw me, opened the door to step out of the truck in a flood of dogs, and then ambled toward the house.
Before I could grab him, Chewy shot past me with a roar and disappeared into the milling canine pack. I almost went after him, but then I saw him standing stiffly in the center of them, head high, growling deep in his chest. The fur all along his back was standing up, but his tail was wagging slightly, and it looked like maybe they wouldn't all kill each other. Sonny ignored them and shoved a basket into my hands.
"Eggs," he exclaimed, like he'd brought me a pot of gold instead of some chicken eggs that didn't look much different from the ones I came home with each week from the A&P. If anything, they looked less appetizing since they were smudged with what I was pretty sure was chicken shit. "And some early lettuce. You'll have to give the eggs a scrub, I just grabbed `em out from under the hens ten minutes ago. Still warm."
Yup, chicken shit.
"Thanks. You, uh... you wanna come in?"
"Well, jist for a minute. See what you boys done to the place. Oh, and I met up with George at the gate."
I must have looked blank because he added, "George Huxley." Still nothing from me. "The mailman," he said, shaking his head in disgust at my ignorance as he gave me a handful of envelopes. "Jesus, boy, you gotta get to know folks. That's what makes a community, folks knowin' one another. George took over the route from his granddaddy couple years ago. They're expecting their first in a few weeks. Me and him went to school together. Not George – his granddaddy," he added, just in case I was too thick to figure that out, as well.
Leaving Chewy to fend for himself, I shuffled quickly through the mail as we walked into the house. An envelope with Barbara's handwriting caught my eye. Sticking it in my pocket for later, I gave Sonny the nickel tour. When we peered into our bedroom, he looked at the big bed and cut his eyes to me, but all he said was, "I helped Ed fell that tree. Big sonofabitch. Used that cross cut saw that's prolly still in your barn. Almost flattened Buddy."
I turned to look at him. "What?"
"When it fell. Ed's dog Buddy was snuffling around the woods and when that thing came down, it just missed smashin' ole Bud to bits. `Course, Buddy ended up buried back there anyway."
So the big stump around which the graves curved had once been the huge walnut tree that our bedroom furniture was made from. A sense of belonging, of being part of something more enduring than my own span of years, moved through me, and I gazed at the bed with an appreciation deepened by understanding.
"What in hell you got all these computers for?" Sonny had moved on to my office and was standing in the middle of the room, hands on hips. "You one of them dot com guys?"
"Yeah, I suppose. I mostly help people tailor commercial programs to work the way they want them to. Me and another guy have a company. He does websites."
"Huh. Suppose you could fix me up with somethin' a little more current? I'll pay you," he hastened to add before I had a chance to reply.
"Um, sure. What do you have now?"
"Dunno. Somethin' I bought a few years ago. Ten, mebbe."
"Ten years? Ah, yeah - we can definitely get you something more current." I was surprised a ten year old computer still even worked. "So what happened to Pearl? The dog who only lived to be three."
"Ahhh, Pearl. Dumbest dog I ever saw. Barely bright enough to come in out of the rain."
"What happened to her?"
He sighed. "Got hung up in a fence. Lotta folks `round here used barb wire back then. Time we found her, she'd tore herself up good trying to get free." He walked slowly back down the hall. "Ed couldn't do it, so I shot her. She was `bout dead anyway from losin' all that blood, but it was a sorry thing. It pained me some."
Well, you had to ask, I thought glumly as we wandered back into the living room.
Sonny made a thorough inspection of the photos on the mantle, picking up the black and white shot of Evan and me that Maggie had taken. He studied it for a minute or so, then put it carefully back and gave me a long, measuring look, which I returned as evenly as I could. Finally, he turned away and walked into the kitchen, heading straight for the window over the sink and gazing out at the meadow, which was just beginning to come alive with wildflowers.
"Becky loved this view. Made me and Ed hold this damn sink here and there till she got it just right. You seen the deer yet?"
"Couple times. There's a baby, a fawn."
Sonny just nodded. After a few moments of silence, he cleared his throat and marched back to the front door. "Gotta go. Enjoy them eggs."
Chewy and the pack were racing around the front yard, barking, leaping, and peeing on every other tree, but when Sonny hollered, "Let's go," everyone but Chewy dashed for the truck in a mad scramble to get the best spot on the front seat. Sonny boosted in a short-legged dog that hadn't made it on the first jump, climbed in after him, and slammed the door. The truck roared to life and he rumbled off down the drive with a wave of his hand. Chewy watched it go with air of dejection, then shook himself and trotted up the steps into the house.
Evan and I had the eggs and lettuce for supper. "Scrambled eggs and salad?" Evan asked with a raised eyebrow when I called him to come eat.
"Courtesy of Sonny," I said, and told Evan about his visit, concluding with, "Chew made some friends."
"How many dogs does he have?"
"No idea. He had at least six with him, all in the front seat."
Evan chuckled. "These eggs are good, don't you think? Fresher than store-bought."
"Don't start." I waggled my fork in his face. "No fucking chickens."
After we cleaned up, Evan settled on the couch with another contract, and I pulled Barbara's letter from my pocket. Evan glanced at me, but didn't say anything as I unfolded the sheet of paper. A small photo fell into my lap and I picked it up to see a solemn kid with straight dark hair and big brown eyes in a face that was wide across the cheeks, like mine. I stared at him for a minute, seeing myself at that age, except that I always had a smart-ass smile on my face. I put it down and began to read.
Hi Jeff – thanks for the note. Your place sounds really nice. It surprises me a little that you like living out in the country. I guess I still think of you as the 17-year-old city kid I last saw. Maybe you could send a picture when you write back. Make it of the three of you so I can see what you all look like. I've included a recent one of Bren.
I looked up. `when you write back' Now we were corresponding, huh?
Brendan was thrilled that we heard from you and wanted to know if he could email you since he isn't much of a letter writer. I assume you have email out there in the sticks? (just kidding...) His is firstname.lastname@example.org (I have no idea what `bwnf' stands for) if you'd like to get in touch with him. I know he's really hoping you will.
Have you ever heard from dad? When Brendan had his tonsils out a few years ago, I was wishing I knew more of our family's medical history. If you know anything, I'd appreciate if you'd pass it along.
We're a couple hours south of you and it's getting nice here, a little warmer each day. Soon we'll be planting the garden. Can't wait for those first tomatoes. Do you still love them like you did when you were a kid? I had to hide them from you or there wouldn't be any left for supper. I always thought you'd get sick eating so many but you never did.
Of all the things to remember about you, huh? Well, take care of yourself and write back when you get a minute. It's nice to be back in touch with family.
Family. I glanced at Evan, absorbed in his contract. He was the one person I truly loved, but he wasn't blood family and probably could never be `legal' family, either. I picked up the photo again and looked into Brendan's familiar eyes for a moment before lifting Evan's feet out of my lap and getting up. I plopped down in my office chair and opened Outlook as I thought about Brendan. Was he anything like me, other than his looks? I had been thinking about boys at 14, wondering what the hell that was all about. What was running through Brendan's head?
Hey Brendan, it's your uncle Jeff. Just got your mom's letter with your email in it. What's up? Your mom sent me a picture of you. You look a lot like I did when I was 14. I program computers and there's a picture of me and my business partner on our site, if you want to see what you'll look like at 33. lol Check it out at: www.custombytes.com
`Uncle Jeff.' Jesus, did that sound weird. I clicked `send,' then sat there and stared at the screen. I was really confused about what I felt, knowing that my only remaining family lived just a couple hours down the road. Close enough to actually go visit with. Shit. Finally I picked up the letter and the picture, and went back to the couch. Evan moved his feet to let me sit, then wiggled them up under my shirt as he put down his contract.
"Letter from Barb," I said in response to his curious look. "My sister."
"I remember. Is that a picture?"
"Yeah." I looked at it again before handing it to him along with Barb's letter. "Brendan."
I watched his smile fade as he stared at what could have been a schoolboy picture of me. "God, Jeff, you could be this kid's father." He looked at me for a moment, then back at the photo. "The family resemblance is remarkable. You must have been a cutie."
"Still am," I joked, then sobered as Evan handed me the picture. "It's weird to see him. He was just a baby when I left, a few months old, so he doesn't even remember me."
Evan looked up from the letter. "Did you email him?"
"Yeah. Just to say hi."
He gave me that warm smile of approval that made me feel good about myself. "It'd be neat for you guys to get to know each other. They aren't that far away, you know. You could go see them."
"I could, but I'm not gonna."
I picked up my book and pretended to read, but I could feel Evan's eyes on me for a few moments before he spoke.
"Why are you so sensitive about them? I know you miss having family – you've told me so yourself – so I don't understand your reluctance." He waved the letter in the air. "She obviously wants to stay in touch."
I put my book down with a sigh and stared into the fireplace. "Evan, no offense, but you grew up in a fairy tale, ok? Barb and I have a lotta shit between us. She barely tolerated me living there, and then we went years not speaking to each other. I just... It's just not easy to forget all that and be pals after two lousy letters."
But I wanted to. Despite our dysfunctional past, I wanted to know them better. I glanced at Evan to find him watching me with that calm understanding that I was beginning to rely on. We looked at each other for a long moment, and then he went back to his contract while I alternated between reading a paragraph of my book and looking at Brendan's picture. When we got up to go to bed, I tucked it into the frame that surrounded the picture of Evan and me, where I could see it every day.
In bed, instead of turning his back to me as he usually did, Evan lay down facing me, our knees bumping. He flattened one of my hands on his chest and ran his fingers up and down my forearm. It was soothing, and after a few minutes, I met his eyes. He gazed back silently, offering only the comfort of his touch, leaving me to sort it out. I sighed.
"I can handle the letters. If another one never comes, I can tell myself that it got lost in the mail or something. But if I actually meet them, and then it goes to shit..." I paused as Evan watched me steadily, his eyes dark with empathy. "Well... I'd just as soon not chance it... I guess."
It wasn't a very strong finish and I knew Evan saw right through it, but all he did was kiss me before rolling into our customary position of his back to my front. As I pulled him close and brushed my mouth across the smooth warmth of his back, I knew that getting together with Barb and Brendan, somewhere down the road, was inevitable.
Callie wasn't the star of the show the next day, but neither did she lift her mixer out of the bowl while it was still on `high,' splattering the star and half the class with yellow butter cream frosting, like one flustered woman did. I shook my head with a smile. After I had a look at the recorded shows, I'd have to give Callie another call to find out if the whole experience was as much fun as she'd hoped.
Kenny and I went back to work. He was almost finished with Evan's website, and I had all the software loaded onto the first batch of Evan's computers. Next week I planned to haul everything over to the offices, plug it all in and spend the rest of the day fixing whatever didn't work. Invariably, moving a fully functioning computer from one side of the desk to the other - never mind clear across town - caused something to not work right, so I knew I'd be there a while.
The first Tuesday in March was blustery but definitely warmer than it had been, so I called in hooky to Kenny, packed a lunch for me and Chewy, and set out for the dog cemetery. The wall needed only this one day and then I could show it to Evan. The little graveyard had become quite important to me, and although I wanted to share it with him, I was somewhat reluctant to finish working on it because I loved the time I spent back there by myself.
I set stones for a couple hours, laying the last one in place with a satisfied pat, then stepped back to admire my work. The unbroken line of the wall ran in a circle around the gravestones. The little tree had budded out but wasn't blooming yet, and the grass had begun to come up through last autumn's fallen leaves. It was a beautiful little place, peaceful and removed from everyday life.
A while back, I'd spotted a couple old wooden chairs out in front of one of the many antique stores at the edge of the town. The guy said they were original Adirondacks and tried to charge me $50 a piece for them, but I got him down to $15 each and hauled them home in the back of the Jeep. Now I hiked back to the barn, loaded them into the largest of the three wheelbarrows we'd inherited with the place, and trundled them out across the field and into the woods.
It was bumpy going and by the time I got there, I'd gone through every swear word I knew at least three times, and my arms were all pumped up with the effort of keeping the wheelbarrow upright. But when I set the chairs next to each other, facing the gravestones, with the big walnut stump to prop our feet on, it was all worth it. The chairs had been painted red once, but were now weathered and looked like they'd been there forever.
I sat down in one, Chew hopped into the other, and we ate our lunch, surrounded by bird song and the endless chatter of the squirrels, who felt the woods were their private domain.
The next morning as I was driving slowly down the lane on the way to work, Chewy barked so suddenly that I jumped, and then jammed on the brakes at the sight of two huge horses pulling a plow across our front field. They trudged along with their heads lowered, leaning into the harness as a man walked along behind them, holding the plow upright. Chew and I watched as they made the turn at the far side and came back toward us. When they got close, I climbed out of the Jeep and lifted a hand in greeting. The man turned until the horses were parallel to the fence, then hollered, "Whoa," and everything came to a halt.
"Hey," he said with a nod. He looked to be mid-forties and had an open, friendly face under his John Deere cap. "You must be Jeff. Sonny said you was a young guy. I'm Bill, your neighbor yonder." He flapped a hand vaguely toward the west.
"Hi. What are you doing?"
"Plowing," he said slowly and distinctly. Apparently Sonny had also told him I was a little slow upstairs.
I smiled. "I mean, with horses. I didn't think anyone did that anymore."
"Well, this here field is organic corn and I'm using the old ways where I can. `Sides, looking at a horse's behind all day gives a man time to think."
I smiled and walked up to the fence to take a better look at the horses. Up close, they were immense, their heads towering over mine. They were both a deep glossy brown with white legs and lots of ankle hair that completely hid their feet. When the one closest to me swung its massive head toward me, Chewy barked a sharp warning from the safety of the Jeep. It stretched out its nose, but mindful of Evan's sneezing cow, I took a step back.
"They won't hurt you. Gentle as a lamb. That's Rose, t'other one's Grace."
He hooked a finger into Rose's headgear and turned her two foot long head to face me. Rose and I eyed each other for a moment and then I reached up to scratch her warm, furry forehead. She closed her eyes and pushed into my hand, obviously enjoying the attention.
"Are they..." I couldn't think of any types of horses except Thoroughbreds and I knew that wasn't right. "What kind are they?"
"Shire. It's a draft breed, the largest one."
"No kidding - they're huge."
Bill snorted. "Naw, these are just middlin' ones, as Shires go. Barely 18 hands."
"They've got really hairy feet."
Bill chuckled. "Them's called `feathers.' Real pretty when they're all cleaned up."
"Well, they're beautiful animals. Nice to meet you."
I pulled my new camera out of my pocket, clicked off a few shots of Bill and the horses and then got back in the Jeep. Chew and I watched them move off across the field before driving away. After Googling horses when I got to Kenny's, I learned that a `hand' was 4 inches, so those horses were six feet tall – at the withers, which was sort of the top of their shoulder, according to the illustration. Like I said, huge.
Coming back in the drive that night, I took Sonny's admonition to meet folks to heart and stuck a note in the box for George the mailman, introducing myself and Evan, and wishing him and his wife well with their baby. Two nights later the mailbox contained not only the mail, but a thank you note from Ellen Huxley and two huge homemade blueberry muffins in a baggie. Evan and I had them for dessert. They were marvelous, and it did make me feel more connected to things, more rooted, to have made that little bit of contact.
Sunday morning Evan gave a final satisfied grunt, slid off me with a squelchy sound from the two loads of cum between us, and stretched his arms out over his head. "Well, that was fun. Whatta you wanna do now?"
I chuckled and nibbled on his elbow before I replied. "Let's grab some breakfast, and then I've got something to show you."
He must have heard it in my voice because he rolled his head to look at me. "Yeah? Ok."
After French toast, we set out across the meadow, admiring the wildflowers and laughing at Chew bounding through the tall grass like a dolphin through waves. I took us the round-about way, coming upon the cemetery from the same direction I had the day I'd found it. Evan was slightly in front of me. Suddenly he stopped, then started forward slowly, his head swiveling as he took it all in. At the outer edge of the wall, he paused and spoke. "This is it? The place?"
"Yeah. Those are dog graves. Ed's dogs from when they moved in here up to a few years ago."
It was less than a week since I'd finished the wall, but the little tree had blooms on it now, white flowers that I could smell from where we stood.
"It's beautiful. Were the chairs here?"
"No, I bought `em last week. I had to repair the wall. It was knocked down in a few places and I wanted to finish it before I brought you back here."
Evan walked completely around the perimeter examining the wall. I followed along as he picked up a top stone, looked at it, and then set it carefully back in place. "You did a hell of a job. I can't see where it looks any different."
"Well, all the stones were here, I just had to figure out how they went together."
Evan studied the carved headstones for a bit, then walked to the chairs, settled into one and patted the other in invitation. He slouched further down in his chair and reached for my hand. We sat there in companionable silence for a while, listening to the woods. Judging from the dreamy expression on his face, the little graveyard seemed to have the same effect on Evan as it did on me.
As we stood to leave, he pulled me to him in a gentle embrace, one arm across my back, his other hand holding the back of my head. Evan tucked his face into my neck, his breath warm and moist on my bare skin, his fingers moving slowly through my hair, and that hug, almost more than anything he'd ever said to me, conveyed what he felt for me. I held him close, eyes closed, and willed him to feel from me what I was getting so clearly from him.
When we broke apart a few minutes later, we smiled into each other's eyes, totally in tune, then clasped hands, said nothing, and walked back to the house.
Nothing particularly memorable happened, but that morning has stayed with me my entire life as one of the best moments of our relationship.
The morning that Kenny was scheduled to go to Chicago for a 4-day seminar, the phone rang around 9am.
"Hey. I need a favor."
"Sure. What's up?"
"Raf woke up sick in the middle of the night. He's still pukin' and I don't wanna leave him here by himself. Can he stay with you guys till he feels better?"
"Eeuww. Sure. You want me to come get him?"
"Fuck, that'd be great. I'm pushed for time as it is."
I put a bucket and a couple old towels on the passenger floor of the Jeep just in case and headed off to pick up Rafael. He came staggering down the hall in a t-shirt and sweatpants as I was coming in the front door. Even with his dark skin, he looked pale and sweaty, and his hand was trembling when he put it on my shoulder. The scarring on his face was less evident, blending a little more with his pallor.
"Oh, man, you look awful."
"Fuck you," he croaked.
Kenny handed me an overnight bag, I loaded Raf into the Jeep, and we made it to the Farm without using the bucket, but just as we got inside the door, Raf broke away from me and dashed into the bathroom. After a few minutes of horrible vomiting noises, the toilet flushed, the water ran, and then he emerged with bloodshot eyes and a runny nose. I got him into bed and stood there for a minute, smoothing his hair back off his damp forehead. Even sick as a dog, he looked pretty good laying there in our guest bed.
I spent the day puttering around the house, baking a new cookie batch from Maggie's book, writing some code for a client, reading a little. Every hour or so, Rafael made a trip to the bathroom to puke his guts out. Each time the sound of retching stopped, I went in to help him, wiping his face with a cold wash cloth and getting him back to bed. He was thrashing a lot, so I straightened out the covers and got him settled as comfortably as I could.
Around 2pm I went into the bathroom just as he was flushing the toilet and sitting back on his heels, holding onto the edge of the tub with one hand and the sink with the other. He was drenched with sweat, but shivering with a chill from his damp clothes, and he looked at me with total misery in his red eyes.
"God, I feel horrible."
His eyes welled up and then spilled over, trickling tears down his cheeks, and I felt so bad for him. Not bad enough that I wished it were me instead of him, but pretty bad all the same.
"We need to get you into dry clothes. You wanna climb in the shower while I get you something?"
But as he struggled to his feet, I could see that he'd never be able to shower alone. I stared at him for a minute, then sat him down on the toilet lid and pulled his t-shirt off over his head. When he looked up at me, I said, "Don't get your hopes up. I'm just gonna help you shower."
I stripped quickly, glad to see that my dick was only a little firmed up at the thought of undressing and then showering with Rafael. He managed a weak smile as I pulled him up to hang onto my shoulders, hooked my thumbs in the waist of his sweats and tugged them down. Then I held him by the hips and put my foot in the middle of the sweats while he lifted one foot, then the other, and we soon had them off. The sight of his heavy, uncut cock stopped me for a moment, but he shuddered just then as a chill wracked him, so I got us under the hot water as quickly as I could.
Once he was in the spray with his back to me, he braced himself against the wall. That position bunched his shoulder muscles nicely and deepened the furrow down his spine. That position also put the full, round cheeks of his ass right in front of my cock, and in only a few moments I had to take a step back to prevent my steadily rising hard-on from poking him.
I grabbed the shampoo and did Raf's hair first, rubbing his scalp the way I like mine done, with just a hint of fingernail, smiling when he hummed a deep `mmmmm.' Then I lathered up the luffa and began to make big circles down his brown back. As I scrubbed him, I tried to picture him puking in an effort to make my dick go down, but then he spread his legs a little more to keep his balance and if I hadn't been so in love with Evan, well... I don't know.
The luffa was too coarse to use all over him, so when I was done with his back, I soaped up my hands and did his legs, down one, then up the other. Arms next, followed by chest and stomach, until finally all that was left was his crotch. I tried to be impartial about it, imagining myself a nurse cleaning up a sick patient, but the feel of Rafael's soft cock and heavy balls in my slick, soapy hands had my dick drooling.
I slid his foreskin back gently, washed him only slightly longer than necessary, then ran one hand down the crack of his ass, gliding my fingertips over the wrinkled pucker of his hole a couple times. When he made a small `mmm,' I dropped my forehead to rest between his shoulder blades for a moment and watched my cock bounce around. After a minute or two, I rinsed him off, shut off the water, and draped a big towel around his shoulders.
When we stepped out onto the bath mat, Rafael eyed my bobbing cock before raising his gaze to me. I shrugged. "Can't help it. You're fuckin' hot even when you look like shit."
He managed a chuckle, then reached out with one finger to push my cock down just past parallel. I groaned softly as it strained against his finger. We made eye contact for a few seconds, and then he released me. I got dressed as well as I could, shoving my hard-on sideways to get it back into my jeans, then helped Raf into a dry t-shirt and boxers. While he waited in a chair, I quickly changed the sheets and then got him back into bed. He was exhausted, with wobbly knees and dark circles under his eyes.
"Let me get you some ginger ale. Might help."
But he took my hand as I tucked the covers around him. "No, stay with me. Till I fall asleep."
So I did. I pulled a chair close and held his hand, stroking my fingers along his wrist as his grip loosened and he drifted off. He didn't throw up any more and I began to hope that the worst was over. Kenny called a bit later, and I assured him that Raf was better and that I'd have him call when he woke up.
When Evan got home around six, we ate dinner, and then later on the couch, I related the adventures of the day to him, including my raging erection at being naked with Rafael.
He gave me a speculative look, but his only comment was, "Well, you'd have to be made of stone to not respond to that body."
On the way to bed, we peeked into the guest room where Raf was now sleeping peacefully.
"Poor guy," Evan whispered as we stood looking down at him.
"Yeah, he was really sick. I hope to fuck we don't catch it."
"Thanks for taking care of him." Evan touched Raf's cheek with gentle fingers, then tugged the blanket a little higher before we left the room.
Later, lying in bed, Evan's voice broke the quiet. "Did he get hard?"
The question surprised me. "No, not at all. Why?"
"Do you ever wish you weren't cut?"
I shrugged a little. "Not really."
He was quiet for a bit, then, "I used to be fascinated with Raf's dick."
I smiled into the darkness. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." His warm hand slid up my thigh, then dropped down between us to grasp my soft cock. "Now I'm fascinated with yours."
"Yeah?" I breathed as he squeezed me rhythmically.
Thanks to David of Hope for his hand in making this a readable story.