It was a rare day that Evan and I didn't check in with each other by phone once or twice. Not that we were calling to see what the other was up to; it was more an `I just wanted to hear your voice' sort of thing. But Thursday I didn't hear from him all day and I wasn't sure what to think about that. Was he so busy he didn't have time to give me a call? Or was it so dead that he was too depressed to bother?
Finally, around 2:30 in the afternoon, my curiosity was killing me and it was distracting enough that I wasn't getting much work done. I finished off the string of code I'd been tinkering with for the last hour, grabbed my keys, and shoved my chair back. Both dogs scrambled to their feet in anticipation of an outing.
"I'm gonna do a drive-by," I announced. "Wanna go?"
Kenny gave me an eye roll that said I was being ridiculous, but closed his programs with a few clicks and gave his chair a quick spin. "Sure."
The four of us were just getting ourselves into the Jeep when my cell rang.
"Have you heard from Evan?" Rafael demanded. "How's it goin' down there? Has he got any customers or is he just playin' with himself in the men's room?"
I laughed. "We're just headin' out to recon the place. Wanna go?"
He was on the sidewalk in front of the machine shop when we pulled up, and jumped in the back with Chew and Elvis. As always, whenever I saw him in his work uniform, my dick gave a surge in my jeans and I had to shift my position slightly. There was just something about the way the dark blue slacks hugged his ass that gave me evil thoughts. After he got his seatbelt on, he ruffled Kenny's hair and hugged the dogs as he asked, "He hasn't called, huh? What do you suppose that means? No biz or a line out the door?"
"I don't know - that's why we're doing this."
I slowed down as we came into town and turned right onto Central, intending to cruise past the law offices, but there was Evan, was standing on the front steps talking to two women, each with a child in their arms. He stopped talking and watched us drive by with a deadpan expression, causing the women to turn their heads and stare at us, as well.
"Shit, he saw us," Kenny said, slouching down in the seat.
"Busted," Raf agreed.
I don't know why we felt like we weren't supposed to be there, but I guess it seemed as though we were checking up on him or something. We had just turned the corner at the end of the block when my cell rang.
"Do you have my mother in there with you?" he growled. "Cause she's the only goddamn person in town who hasn't come by to check on me yet."
"No, man, she was right behind us, but they're having a sale at the shoe store, so she blew you off."
"Piss off," he chuckled. "She'd never do that, but since you're in town, you might as well make yourselves useful and bring us something to eat."
"So it's been busy?"
"It's been steady. There've been at least a few people in here all day, looking up stuff on the computer or hanging out in the lounge or filling out housing forms."
"Fine. See you in a few."
We parked in the back lot, bought a sandwich and a salad at the deli, and then walked around the corner to Evan's building. The two women were gone and in their place was a shabbily dressed man with a brown dog on a rope. He was reading the sign next to the entrance, running a finger along under the text to keep his place, while the dog watched us approach with mournful eyes that told of a bloodhound somewhere in his past. As we got closer, the man turned out to be a lot older than he'd first appeared, and when he realized we were turning into the doorway, he turned away and walked off down the sidewalk.
I watched him for a moment as Raf followed Kenny up the wheelchair ramp. He often did that, and at first it had seemed stupid to me. I mean, the ramps are for wheelchairs; he should just take the steps. But that meant Raf got there first every single time, and I finally realized that he did it so that Kenny wouldn't feel like he was always being waiting for. Now, whenever any of us went somewhere with Kenny, we trooped up the ramp behind him. On the way out, he'd beat us pretty much every time by flying down the ramp and making the turn on two wheels.
After the man and his sad-eyed dog crossed the street and got lost in the shoppers, I went into the lobby and jogged up the stairs since Raf and Kenny had taken the elevator without me. We arrived at the second floor landing about the same time, and it was so different from the last time I'd been there that I stopped for a look around. The day I'd put the computers in, the place had been empty of people and the final decorating had yet to be done. There still wasn't anyone sitting at the receptionist's desk, but now the space was warm with an eclectic mix of art on the walls, large plants in strategic corners, and a hum of voices giving it life. I could hear the drone of a TV, a crying baby, the soft chatter of children playing, and then - clear as a violin among tubas - Evan's voice.
With clients in the building, I didn't want to just wander around looking for him, so we waited as his voice drew near. I hadn't gotten a good look at him as we drove past, mostly cause I was driving, but also because the women had been standing in front of him. As he turned the corner into the main hall, I could feel myself begin to smile. He'd taken off his jacket and loosened his tie slightly, his sleeves were rolled partway up his forearms, and the surface of his black shoes caught the gleam from the overhead lights as he slowed his pace to match that of the woman next to him.
She was dressed in jeans and t-shirt, not Kathryn-stylish by any means, but neat and clean, around my age. Because she didn't fit my ignorant, preconceived notion of what Evan's clients should look like, I idly wondered what had brought her to the FLC. Her head was turned toward Evan as he spoke, but when they reached the lobby where we stood, she glanced up at us for a moment before turning quickly toward the stairwell. In that instant, I saw why she required Evan's help. The right side of her face was badly bruised, a purple swelling that blossomed along her cheekbone and disappeared back into the hair at her temple. Along the angry red center of the bruise was a thin line of black stitches. Before I could get the shocked expression off my face, she was gone down the steps in a muted clatter of sneakers.
I turned back to find Evan watching me with a tired smile. "Food," he said. "Come on, we'll eat in my office."
On the way there, we passed by the large community room, furnished with overstuffed sofas and chairs, a TV, a full kitchen, a couple tables and chairs, a children's corner with scaled-down furniture and some toys. As we passed by the double doors, the women stopped talking and watched us with varying degrees of suspicion. The children, too, stared at us with solemn faces until we were out of sight.
Once Evan's office door closed behind us, Raf blew out a breath. "Jesus, if looks could kill..."
"What happened to the woman you were talking to?" I asked him as I unpacked the deli bag.
Evan poked a button on his phone, said, "Lunch is here," and then looked at me for a moment before beginning to unwrap his sandwich. "Her boyfriend backhanded her across the face. Wanna know what she did to deserve that?" He paused for emphasis. "The mashed potatoes were lumpy."
He lifted his meatball sub to his mouth, but then set it down, pushed to his feet abruptly enough to roll his chair back into the wall, and walked over to the window, hands deep in his front pockets as the three of us stared at him. When Kenny gave me a jerk of the head, telling me to get my ass over there, I stood up slowly, and then circled around until I could see Evan's face. His eyes were roaming over the landscape, but I doubted he was seeing any of it.
When he spoke, his voice was low and tight. "That shit just didn't happen where I grew up."
I looked at him a moment, envying him his naiveté and sorry that this job would surely cure him of it. "Happened all the time where I grew up."
His eyes stopped moving for a second before sliding slowly over to meet mine. As we gazed at each other, the vast difference in our backgrounds yawned between us like the Grand Canyon. Although I knew it wasn't directed at me, the look of anger and disgust on his face made me wish I hadn't spoken because his expression brought into focus my biggest fear -- that Evan would someday fully realize how different we were -- different backgrounds, educations, goals in life, income levels -- and decide that those differences were more than reason enough to prevent our relationship from working long term.
There were things I could do to overcome my wrong-side-of-the-tracks start in life, and I had done many of them -- get a decent education, work my way out of the mindset that keeps you at the bottom of the heap, refuse to become an alcoholic and drink myself into an early grave, á la my mother -- but still, I was a peasant in love with a prince, and I knew it. I just hoped Evan never figured it out.
His face finally softened into a look I knew well, and he laid a hand on my shirt front, spread fingers flexing lightly into the muscles of my chest. At his touch, I started breathing again, a sigh that whooshed out of me and made him smile before giving my chest a pat and moving back behind his desk. He had just taken a big bite of his sub when the door opened and Kathryn stepped in. She was her usual tailored self in a crisp white shirt that she wore un-tucked over dark slacks, and she managed to look professional, yet approachable, at the same time, perfect for the type of clientele the FLC attracted.
"We probably need to get an office assistant," she told Evan as she pried the lid off her salad. "Someone to send out for food, run copies - all the stuff we're evidently going to be too busy to do."
"Go ahead and find someone," Evan said around a second mouthful. "Be great if they could type a little."
Kathryn took her salad back to her office while the three of us watched Evan eat. After a couple bites, he realized he had an audience and looked at us each in turn. "Didn't you get anything?" he asked.
"It's three in the afternoon -- we ate hours ago," Raf pointed out. "We just wanted to see how things were going down here."
Evan stood. "Well, now you've seen - we're doing just fine. Sorry, but... I have clients waiting, so thanks for lunch... and I'll see you at home," he said to me as he ushered us briskly out the door.
As we walked back to the Jeep, I found myself looking around for the old guy with the brown dog, but he was nowhere to be seen. We dropped Raf back at the shop, and once we got to Kenny's, I changed into gym gear and drove back into town to work up a sweat. The front desk was empty when I came through the door, but I met up with Tomas back in the locker room where he was unpacking cleaning supplies into a small closet. We gave each other a nod and a `hey' as I stuffed my bag into a locker. As I was leaving the room, I remembered what I was supposed to ask him and stuck my head around the corner of the closet door.
"Did a guy named Conrad join recently?"
Tomas eyed me for a moment. "He a friend of yours?" I wasn't sure if he put a little extra into `friend,' or if I was just feeling touchy, so I let it pass.
"Yeah. Saw him in here once and just wondered if he was a member."
Tomas gave me a skeptical glance, but answered me anyway. "About three weeks ago he signed up for six months. Said he was here on assignment for a while."
I thanked him and wandered into the weight room considering the possibilities. It sounded like Conrad was in town for a matter of months. I could stay away from the gym for six months and maybe work out with Kenny, but I knew he usually waited for Raf to get home before heading for the weights in their spare room. Or I could be a man about the whole thing and confront Conrad the next time I ran into him. That was the way to go, I thought, as I did some stretches against the wall. Then I could look Evan in the eye and tell him it was dealt with instead of avoided.
I worked my arms, chest and shoulders till they burned, finishing off with three reps of pushups until my arms simply wouldn't lift me off the floor, and then headed home to see about supper. With Evan eating lunch at 3pm, I figured he wouldn't be very hungry, so after I got out of the shower, I put together two plates of miscellaneous things we both liked. A couple different cheeses with an assortment of crackers, an apple sliced into chunks, the strong black olives that Evan loved, a few slices of prosciutto, and a cold, crisp Chardonnay to pull it all together made a light supper that looked as good as it tasted.
Chewy hopped up and trotted for the front door just as I heard Evan's car. By the time I got to the front door, Evan was on the porch. He looked tired but content, and gave me a warm smile as he tilted his head to kiss me.
"Sorry I gave you guys the bum's rush today."
"Don't worry about it," I told him, as I took his briefcase and stood aside so he could come in. "We wouldn't even have stopped if you hadn't seen us. You ready for dinner? It's just munchy stuff and vino."
"I'm ready for the vino part, definitely, and I'll munch a little. The phone rang right after you left and I never got to finish my sandwich. Let me get outta these clothes."
He made a right down the hall as I continued into the kitchen. It was a warm evening, so I carried our plates, two glasses and the bottle of wine out to the back porch where Evan joined me a few minutes later, settling into a chair with a small groan of contentment. We ate slowly, watching the sky change with the setting sun. Evan told me about his day, and in his voice, I could hear a satisfaction that had never been there when he was doing corporate work. Between them, he and Kathryn had gotten two women and their children into housing, cleared up some confusion regarding visitation rights for another woman, and a few other small triumphs.
We gave the horses their evening carrots, took a look at the garden, and then carried our supper stuff inside. Evan gazed out the window as we did the dishes, drying them absent-mindedly and sighing now and then, but when I shut the water off, he turned to me with a smile. "Couch time?"
I found a program about how the Hoover dam was built and we got comfortable with Evan's feet in my lap. The show was interesting, but I was curious about the woman with the bruised face. As I had said to Evan, I'd grown up in a neighborhood where that kind of thing was common enough, but it had been a long time since I'd seen the results so clearly on a victim's face. I certainly couldn't claim to be a pacifist since I found it very satisfying to clobber somebody who richly deserved it (remember Mark?), but I just couldn't imagine hitting a woman or a child.
"The woman you were talking to when we got there... she... was that the first time he hit her?"
"No, the third. Her previous offences were cold coffee and running out of Swiss cheese. We got a restraining order against him, and I got her a bed at a shelter, so she should be ok until she finds a place to live." He was quiet for a moment, then burst out with, "Jesus, how could you do that to someone you cared about?"
"God, Evan, it happens all the time. Why're you so surprised?" I asked. "You knew family law would include abuse. You knew--"
"Yes, I knew," he snapped, sitting up next to me to scrub a hand across his forehead. "Intellectually, I knew, but having it walk in and sit down in my office and stare me in the face is a whole nother thing." He dropped his hands between his knees then and leaned forward on his elbows. "I'd fuckin' kill the guy who hit a woman I cared about." He was quiet for a moment, then swung his head to look at me. "Your dad hit your mom?"
"That's what my sister said. He was gone by the time I was old enough to remember any of it."
He continued to stare at me and I could see the wheels turning. "Could you hit me? If you were really pissed?"
"That's different -- you're a guy."
"But I'm someone you love, like that guy's supposed to love his girlfriend. Isn't that what matters? Not what sex the other person is?"
"Shit, I don't know." I didn't really want to answer him, but his eyes demanded a reply. "I guess if you did something really awful -- yeah, I could probably slug you."
"And you wouldn't?" I was getting a little wound up about this. The whole subject was uncomfortable and I felt guilty about admitting that, yes, I could hit someone I cared about. "If you caught me doing something terrible -- robbin' an old lady or something - you wouldn't be angry enough to hit me, even though you love me?"
After another few moments, his gaze dropped. "Yeah, I guess. You're right -- it's different." He shook his head. "When she first walked in, I just stared at her. After we talked a little bit, I asked her why she was doing something about it now, after the third time. She said she just saw the sign out front when she was going for groceries and her car parked itself like it was on auto-pilot."
"So I guess you were in the right place at the right time. Good thing."
He nodded slowly and then squeezed my leg. "You ready for bed?"
Friday I got a lunchtime call from Evan saying they had hired that woman to be their assistant. "Kathryn figured she'd be good with clients, since she's one herself. And she can type," he added. "Her name's Tracy. When they got together, she was going to school to be a lab technician."
"Huh. Why'd she quit?"
"Her boyfriend lost his job, so they couldn't afford tuition."
"She sounds like a candidate for the Evan Tanner Scholarship Award. Hey, will you be late? Sharon's bringing pizza a little after six."
"I'll be there."
Over pepperoni and mushrooms, Sharon caught us up on all the news around town. She was especially happy to inform us that in April, she and Tom had sold more houses than Rita, their previous boss.
"It's extremely satisfying to beat that bitch at her own game. And it only took us three months. So how's your work going?" she asked Evan.
"Really well." He told her about the first two days. Sharon's face clouded as Evan told her about Tracy, adding that they had hired her.
"God. I swear it's a good thing they don't live next door to me cause I'd go over there and kick his ass. Actually, I'd call you come over and kick his ass," she clarified, looking at me.
"No thanks. Then I'd have to call Evan to come get me out of jail."
Around eight, we walked her out to her car and then took a stroll up the drive so that Chewy could chase fireflies. Evan was feeling friendly and kept a hand around the back of my neck most of the way to the road. By the time we'd turned around and were halfway back to the house, he was playing with my earlobe and sliding his thumb along my jaw line. As I took a step up to the porch, Evan turned me by the arm and smiled up at me from the step below.
"I've never kissed anyone taller than me."
"'Bout time, then," I said, as I lowered my mouth to his.
Evan slid his hands down to hold the backs of my thighs just below my ass as I cradled his face in my palms, and we stood there in the shadows of the porch. He tasted of pepperoni and beer, and kissed me with a hunger that jump-started my own desire, which was never far beneath the surface when it came to him. His grip on my legs tightened as he began to move against me. Being a step lower put the firm log of his cock just at the base of mine, and each time he lifted to his toes, my soft grunt hummed against our lips.
Once Chewy realized we'd be there for a while, he flopped down on the doormat with a sigh and curled into a ball. When Evan ended our kiss, I leaned toward him, wanting his mouth again, but he leaned further back and smiled at me as his fingers worked the buttons on my jeans. As they dropped down my thighs, Evan followed them, kneeling on his step as he nudged my feet further apart.
"You're gonna blow me on the front porch?" I asked, amused, but very willing.
"Mm hmm," he murmured, and then touched his tongue to the tip of my bobbing cock as he steadied it with one hand and fondled my butt with the other. I exhaled in a low moan, partly in appreciation of how good it felt, and partly in anticipation of what I knew he'd be doing shortly. He took his time, starting with small licks around the head, then longer laps up the length of me that brought me to my toes with a groan of pleasure.
When he finally tipped my cock slightly downward and engulfed me in the wet heat of his mouth, I thought I might have to sit down for the rest of it, but I took a grip on the nearest porch roof support and hung onto Evan's shoulder with the other hand. As he sucked me, his fingers wandered along the valley of my ass - pressing, sliding, circling - until my every thought was centered on the pressure building in my balls. He made no effort to delay my orgasm, so I figured he had further plans and just wanted to take the edge off me. In the instant before I started to shoot, Evan pulled off me and moved to the side, pumping my cum out into the dirt, and then, as I slowed down, onto the dusty step he'd been kneeling on a moment before.
When I could get my eyes open again, I looked down to see Evan watching me from his seat on the steps.
"Why do I get the feeling I'm being prepped for something?" I asked through lips dry from all the heavy breathing I'd just done.
He gave me an innocent smile and shrugged as he got to his feet. "I have no idea."
"Like hell," I muttered, as I tugged up my jeans and followed him into the house.
An hour later, after thirty minutes of Evan bouncing on my revived dick, his purple cock exploded all over my chest and stomach. I waited until he was well-started before giving my left nipple a hard twist and blasting another load deep into him. As he dropped forward to rest his hands on my slippery chest, his ribcage heaved as he tried to catch his breath.
"Good one, huh?" I asked.
"I thought maybe..." he panted, "it would take me... a while to cum... so I wanted... you to last."
"When have I ever not lasted?"
But it had taken him longer than usual to reach the blast-off point and I appreciated his usual thoughtful approach to things. It had allowed me to really concentrate on him, so, actually, I guess his motivations for giving me head on the porch were pretty selfish after all, but I wasn't complaining.
The next couple weeks went by in a pleasant routine of work, the gym, suppers on the back porch, and Evan's body next to mine each night. The only real cloud on the horizon was Conrad. Evan and I hadn't talked about him any further, but neither of us had forgotten that he was somewhere here in Patterson, and that I was bound to run into him sooner or later.
Just my luck it turned out to be sooner...
As always, many
thanks to David of Hope for editing duties. Someone told me we missed a
couple typos, but there's no way I'm reading thru this again, so please just
read thru them. Sorry it's so long between chapters, but right now it's the
best I can do. Comments -- email@example.com
Thanks for reading - Gabriel