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I was slightly down on Saturday morning. The visit from Detective Matthews prompted a small panic attack the night before. The fact my attacker, Derek Kingston, was dead affected me far more than I thought it should. Fortunately, Dr. Abbott, the therapist I saw after my attack, had time to see me Saturday. I asked her if Marcus could sit in for this session.
"Tony, if you think it will help you by all means. I don't think it's a bad idea, but remember, except for the New Hampshire trip and its aftermath, when you and I met previously, Marcus was just a friend. You're dynamic has changed dramatically with him. I want you to be able share your feelings without hesitation. Can you do that with Marcus here?"
"I'm sure I can. Besides, when we met before I was focusing on the attack and I never really remembered the rest of that weekend. The fact I can recall the entire weekend and I can use the love I feel for Marcus to pull myself out of a panic attack speaks volumes to me. I think I just need you to help me with the new feelings. And those new feelings stem from Marcus and the love I found with my best friend. Does that make sense?"
"If that's how you feel, I would be happy to meet Marcus and include him. Are you sure he is on board?"
"I think so, but I'll check with him. I didn't want to bring it up until I was sure you agreed. Thanks for seeing me today. "
"Of course, Tony, I will see you in a little while. I'm very pleased to hear about your response last night; I think it's a good idea that you want to touch base again before moving on. The news you received was very dramatic and you need to process it completely."
"Thanks, I'm sure we will both be there soon."
I hung up and walked out to find Marcus whistling and cooking breakfast.
"Aren't we in a good mood this morning."
"Actually, Babe I'm in a very good mood. I think you unexpectedly accomplished one of your goals. If I'm not mistaken, there was something going on between Jon and James last night. When you were in the bedroom, they were definitely connecting. It's too early to tell where it's going, but seemed like a mutual attraction thing. We may need to have a dinner and get them here again soon."
"How cool is that! I really hope it's true. I worry about Jon. I'm really sorry I missed it. Of course, I might not have seen it for what it was. I love the idea to make sure they get together again.
"Hon, I do have a huge favor to ask you today. I called Dr. Abbott and she can see me. But I really want you to be part of the session." I explained.
"She reminded me that except for the one session I had after Daniel in New Hampshire, all my time spent with her was when you and I were friends. Now that our relationship is different, it will affect how I relate to the attack and to you. I really want you to be a part of this, I know last night's panic attack was nothing compared to ones I've had in the past. I also think the reason is you. Marcus, you really saved me that weekend, and the memory of that pulled me out of it last night.
"Would you please come with me to see Dr. Abbott? It's important to me, Hon." I pleaded a little.
"Babe, all you have to do is ask. You know I would do anything for you. What time is the appointment?"
"We have two hours before we need to be there."
"Great, we can have breakfast, plan an excuse to get Jon and James back here, and head out to see Dr. Abbott."
"Haha, you are so awesome, Hon. Thank you."
Over breakfast, we tossed ideas back and forth to find an excuse to have a dinner party. We finally decided to invite Jon and James, Detective Matthews, to join us for dinner Sunday night to make up for my bailing over the news of Derek's death. I could call each of them and apologize for having deserted the last dinner. It initially seemed a little lame to me, but Marcus was sure I could play on their sympathies. I was all for it if the end result was pushing Cupid along a little.
Fortunately both men were free and happy to accept our invitation and my apology. I was thrilled when they both asked if the other was going to attend. It appeared Marcus was spot on thinking the attraction was mutual. My only trepidation now was seeing James last night had caused a panic attack, I needed to find a way to make sure that did not happen again. I hoped Dr. Abbott could help.
Marcus and I made it to Dr. Abbott's office with a few minutes to spare. Marcus seemed a little nervous about joining me. Before we got out of the car, I asked him if he was having second thoughts about agreeing to see the doctor with me.
"You can back out of this, Hon, if you don't want to do this with me. I know it's a lot to ask. Really, if you want to wait in the car I understand."
"Don't be silly. I have just never done this before. I have nothing against therapy, but I haven't had a reason. I hope I can help you get past this once and for all. I would hate to see you continue to have these panic attacks. I worry about you. And if Jon and James do start a connection, it would be tough for you to see James all the time."
"Well, that's something I want to work on, but I really think I'll be ok. I feel like I keep saying the same thing over again… but Marcus, now that I can really remember that whole weekend, I think this can really be put behind me. My focus has totally changed, and now that he's dead maybe it can be mostly over. I mean I didn't even have one of my nightmares last night."
"I know. That was another reason for my good mood this morning. I kept waiting for you to struggle or thrash around last night, but you had a peaceful night. It was great"
"Are you ready?"
We spent the better part of two hours with Dr. Abbott. She explained afterwards that I was the last patient of the day, and she felt like things were going well and could be only helped by continuing forward. I know I was emotionally wiped out when she finally ended the session.
Marcus didn't say much. He listened, hugged, and held me when I broke down. He was my rock, as always. During the session, I know I never hesitated to express how I felt. It was incredibly draining, but after we finished I realized how much I could rely on him.
I explained to Dr. Abbott how I had pulled myself out of the panic attack the previous night. I also told her I needed to stop the attacks from occurring when I saw James. There was a possibility he would be a regular part of our lives and I needed desperately to stop reacting to him. She didn't direct me during the session. She allowed me to talk through my own ideas on stopping the panic. Instead of associating James with Derek's attack, I hoped to think of him as part of the solution. If I could focus on the fact that James helped put Derek behind bars, that he was sympathetic during his questioning, and that he cared enough to deliver the news of Derek's death in person, I thought I could prevent the attacks from beginning.
I was totally exhausted. Marcus wrapped me in his arms and held tight.
"Babe, I am very impressed with you. I think you have found a solution to your anxiety attacks. I hope it works as well as I think it will. I really would love to see you get completely past this."
Dr. Abbott spoke just at that moment. "I want you both to understand that this is a first step. I am impressed with the dynamic the two of you have. Tony, you have found a way to use the feelings you have for Marcus to find an inner strength. I also agree with your thoughts on how you could overcome the anxiety attacks by changing your focus on where James fits into the Derek "story". However, I caution you, it will still take some work to completely put this episode behind you. I'm not sure we need to meet regularly, but I want you to feel that whenever you need to talk I am available to both of you."
"Thank you so much. I feel completely drained, but so much better about the whole incident. I'm sure I will need to talk to you again, but right now I think I am in a much better place than I have been since the attack..
Dr. Abbott, thank you for letting me include Marcus in this session, It confirmed just how much his love has helped me. And thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I will touch base with you again soon."
"Be well, both of you."
We made our way back to the condo. Both of us were quiet the entire trip back. When we walked in to the hallway, Marcus turned and wrapped me in his arms.
"I am so incredibly proud of you, you are just amazing. After everything you have been through, the entire time you were more concerned about other people than you were about yourself. I love you so much."
"Thanks for being there. There are no words to express how much it meant to me. Hon, I'm totally worn out. Do you mind if we just hang out together this afternoon? I would love to just listen to music and feel myself wrapped in your arms. Maybe order in pizza later and then just be together. I suppose we need to figure out a menu for tomorrow."
Babe, I would love to spend the day with you in my arms. But how about take out Chinese instead of pizza."
After dinner, I moved back onto the couch wrapped in Marcus's arms. I was completely content. Suddenly my cell rang. I looked at the caller ID and it was Danni.
"Hey Danni, what’s up? How's the Big Apple treating you?"
"You are NOT going to believe what happened… Is Marcus there too?"
"Absolutely, we are having a quiet night at home. What's going on? You sound very excited…"
"I got it… I fucking got it!"
"Hold on I'm going to put you on speaker... Go ahead."
"I got the lead role in a road tour… 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is being revived on Broadway next year. So they are putting together a road show starting in February, ahead of the Broadway show. I got the fucking lead… I start rehearsals next month and the tour is planned for two years. I got the fucking lead!" Danni screamed.
"Holy shit, that's incredible. Danni, you are perfect for the part. This is so cool!" I screamed right back into the phone.
"Fucking A! This is incredible news, Danni, we are so proud of you. Congratulations!" Marcus yelled even louder.
"Thanks you two. Look I will be home on Tuesday; I have lots of things to do. Marcus I will need you to look over the contract. My agent says its fine, but I want you to see it. I also need to figure out what I'm going to do with the apartment, my car and fuck I'm bouncing off the walls… This is such a dream come true."
"Stop thinking about the bullshit things we can help you with when you get here," I yelled. "You got the fucking lead! This is the best news ever."
"I can't wait to see you guys and fill you in on the details."
"Danni, you need to come over as soon as you get home. I will look at the contract and we can figure out the rest of the stuff then. We need to have a huge party to celebrate. When will you be in home?"
"Late Tuesday. Can we make plans for Wednesday? But just the three of us? There will be time for a celebration before I start rehearsals. I want to have some time with you guys first. I have one more favor to ask. Please don't let anyone else know yet. I want to do this slowly and not make a big deal about it. I know that's not how I usually do things… Miss 'Over the Top' Danni… but this time I want to hold off for a little while."
"Of course Danni, Wednesday is a done deal. And we will keep this under our hats until you are ready." Marcus assured her.
"Oh my god, Danni, you got the lead!" I screamed again.
"Thanks guys, I will see you Wednesday."
I hung up the phone and turned to Marcus.
"Hon, I am so pumped for Danni. This is the best news."
"You are so right, but don't forget we need to keep this to ourselves. I have a feeling something is going on, and we need to let Danni bring us up to speed when she gets home."
"You're right. Thanks for the quiet afternoon and evening. I love when we can spend time together like this."
"Me too, look we have guests coming tomorrow night, I vote we hit the sheets and in the morning we can discuss dinner and you'll still have the afternoon to plan your week. What do you say we call it a night?"
"Good idea… I am still a little drained from therapy."
The next evening, Jon arrived first and a little early. Normally when he joined us for dinner, he was dressed all professor-like. This time however, he was in his usual khakis, but instead of the normal dress shirt and tie, he was wearing a stripped rugby shirt that was much more form fitting. Thinking back to the first time I was at one of his lectures, I remembered how attractive I had found him and how it had messed with my head. Today I marveled at how great he looked and the effort he had obviously put forth that night.
"You know Dr. Miller, if you had dressed like this all the time when I started working with you, I would have tried very hard to break through your professionalism. Jon, you look great."
"Damn, I was hoping you wouldn't notice."
"Relax, if we didn't spend so much time together I would never have thought twice about it. But, on the other hand, you look hot." I whispered.
"Fuck, it just dawned on me. You guys did this on purpose. I can't believe I fell for the line about feeling bad about bailing the other night. I can't believe I've been set up."
"Jon, actually the apology was very real. I did have a panic attack the other night and felt bad about it. The fact we could get James to join us tonight too, that's just gravy. Don't be upset. Marcus thought he could sense a connection between you two. You know I worry about you, I just wanted to be sure we pulled you out of your comfort zone a little. Honestly, James asked if you would be here too."
He got a huge grin on his face. "Really?"
Suddenly, Marcus jumped in. "Yeah, sorry to get into your business. But this boyfriend of mine wants everyone to have a happily ever after. And yes he really did ask… but before this gets all junior high, the table needs to be set and I need a little help in the kitchen."
"Hon, that's not fair. You make it sound like you were innocent in all of this… As I recall, this was your idea." I burst out laughing.
"Okay maybe I love happily ever after too. But seriously, there are still things to be finished up." Marcus grinned.
James arrived right on time. I never really paid much attention to him before. I mean I could pick him out of a line up, but I never noticed how attractive he was. James had short blond hair and very light blue eyes. He and Jon were just about the same height. You could tell Jon was very fit, but James was built.
After the initial nervousness, Jon and James really seemed to connect. Dinner conversation was sparkling. Marcus keep finding topics that brought Jon and James together and talking to each other. I'm sure I was beaming. Eventually we all moved into the living room.
Marcus grabbed my hand and smiled.
"Gentlemen, I need to steal my boyfriend for a moment to make coffee and get dessert plated. Excuse us just for a minute."
When we got into the kitchen, I whispered to Marcus.
"I think the night is going perfectly. I am so stoked."
"I can tell, Babe. That million watt smile of yours, I can tell. You seem to be doing okay around James, but are you really doing alright?"
"I'm great. There was a brief flutter, but it was easy to move past. Don't worry, I'm doing very well."
When our guests finally left, it was obvious they had connected. I figured we really had done as much as we could to move it along. I knew we would be having a celebration for Danni soon, so I was ready to leave well enough alone until then.
After cleaning up the kitchen, Marcus gave me a hug.
"I think that went very well, but I have court early in the morning and you are in the elementary school on the north side. I think its bedtime."
The beginning of the week was very busy for both of us. School was tough, learning about my colleagues, getting to know the kids, and finding a comfortable routine covering four buildings. But I loved every minute of it. Marcus, on the other hand, seemed to be covering for his father more and more. He was getting home late more often than not and evenings were spent reading briefs or writing motions. I knew he couldn't talk about details most of the time, but I was getting worried about him.
Tuesday after school, I finally brought my grandmother's rings to the jeweler. I had drawn up a rough design of how I wanted the final ring to look. I also had managed to get Marcus's ring size from his brother and sister-in-law. I loved that Jamie and Sarah were in on the plan.
Wednesday night, Danni was going to join us for dinner. I was so excited about her news, but we were very curious about her wanting to keep things quiet. It was so out of character for her. Marcus made stuffed peppers for dinner. Finally she appeared about 30 minutes late, or right on schedule for Danni.
"Before you start, I want to say thanks. Your excitement the other night was just what I needed, it really made me smile. I am so fucking excited about this job. This is a once in a lifetime chance for me."
Marcus sighed, "Why do I feel a but… coming? Danni talk to us. What's going on? You are really not yourself."
"I met someone."
"What? That's awesome. I don't get it?" I was confused.
"I didn't mean for it to happen. I worked so hard to get ready for this year's audition season. My voice has never been better, my dancing is good, and dramatically I know my range, so I was so ready this year. Well I did get the job I wanted, so I guess I was ready. But during the prep for auditions, there was this guy playing piano. We clicked immediately. He helped me work on some songs that showed my range. He really found a way to pull things out of me I didn't know were there.
"We started getting coffee. He made me laugh, he made me feel really good about my talent, and he made me feel attractive. I didn't mean to fall for him. I don't know what I'm going to do." She looked crestfallen
I gasped, "I don't understand. Everything sounds like its perfect. I mean you might have to do the long distance thing, but that's doable."
"He's positive, isn't he?" Marcus looked serious.
Danni nodded her head, and burst into tears.
"In my head, I know things are so different than when we came out. But Marcus, you remember what it was like ten years ago. Hell, where you volunteer, you've probably heard stories of what it was like thirty years ago. I just don't know if I can do this."
I couldn't hold back, "I'm sorry. I don't understand. Somebody needs to explain this to me. I guess I don't know what the big problem is about being positive.
"I mean so long as you are safe, you can have a great sex life. I'm guessing his viral load isn't that high if you didn't realize he was positive. So his overall health must be pretty good. If he already knows his status, he's probably on meds and is under medical care. I mean I know positive status used to be a death sentence, but today it's mostly manageable, scary as hell, but mostly manageable. I mean if you are afraid of becoming infected, there are so many things you can do to protect yourself. The risk of becoming infected can be made so minimal. There are even drugs to help keep you safe, if you want to explore that route.
"Danni, I don't know what it was like ten years ago. But if you really have feelings for this guy, you can't turn your back on love. Long distance might be difficult, but isn't love worth the effort." I almost pleaded.
Marcus and Danni just stared at me. Finally Marcus smiled and pulled me in for a hug.
"Danni, he's absolutely right. I know when we came out things were so different, but today it's not impossible. And Tony is right… love is always worth the effort." Marcus held tight to me.
Danni looked at the two of us. Suddenly, she burst out crying again. I wrapped her up in my arms.
"I hate you, you know that right. You make me feel like such an idiot. You make it sound so easy." She continued to sob.
I smiled, "Danni, you know how I feel about love. Now you need to fill us in on this guy."
"Well, you'll get to meet him this weekend. I invited here to help me figure out what I needed to do with my car, apartment, and everything. You see he's done a road tour before, plus he's the musical director on this one… so the long distance thing is a moot point."
I started to beam at her, "You mean to tell me, that you guys are going to be on the road together? And as musical director, doesn't that make him your boss? And he's coming up to help you get ready to go on tour? Again, someone needs to clue me in. I really don't understand the issues here? Danni, why does it sound like you already decided?"
"Actually, smart ass. Right now, Hunter and I are still in friend mode. I told him he needed to pass the 'meet my friends' test, and we needed to spend some time together away from the city. He's going to spend a week here, and then we figure out where we stand.
"Honestly, if I can get past the positive status, it's a done deal for me. I don't remember ever feeling like this before. He's fucking amazing."
Marcus finally spoke up, "Danni, would you consider talking to one of the counselors at the Task Force? I think one of the guys could help you really figure out how you feel, and if you could accept a lover who is positive."
"Do you really think there is someone who could talk me through this?"
"Danni, I know that Henry Kitt is the expert in this area. He has a sero-positive husband, so he is really great at understanding the issues surrounding two people with different statuses. I mean he lives it."
"Do you think he would see me before the weekend? I really am almost there. I want this so bad. I just need to understand how to pull these feelings together."
Marcus gave Danni a hug. "I'm sure Henry could find the time for you. I can call him now. Babe, dinner should be all set, go ahead and pull it out of the oven, and we can eat."
The three of us talked the rest of the night. I felt like a "Pollyanna" continuing to encourage Danni to let herself be in love. I knew I didn't understand how being positive was such an issue, but I also knew that love was everything to me.
Keith was struggling with one of his classes so he asked me to help him study. Marcus was working late trying to catch up with some of the stuff his father dumped on him. So I invited Keith over to the condo Friday night to study. I figured if I could get him focused, he would be able to finish up on his own.
We were working on some of the parts of the ear, when I felt myself nodding off. I didn't want any caffeine that late at night, so I tried a little ice water. The next thing I knew, I was waking up to Marcus yelling.
"What the fuck is going on here? I fucking knew this would happen... I can't believe it. What the hell...."
"Marcus? What's wrong? Jesus, we were studying and I fell asleep..."
"I can't believe this bullshit... Why does this always happen?" He turned and stormed into our bedroom, slamming the door.
"Tony, I'm sorry, this is all my fault. I feel asleep on your shoulder. I guess Marcus figured something was going on. I should go. I don't want to make it any worse. I'm sorry, I won't bother you again." He jumped up as if he was on fire.
"Bullshit, my boyfriend being an ass and I'm not sure why. Give me just a second; I'm going to need you to tell Marcus what you said the other day. Then you can go while I knock some sense into him. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about this. Just give me a minute." I yelled.
I walked into our bedroom to find Marcus lying across the bed crying. I wasn't sure exactly what was going on, but I needed to figure it all out.
"Marcus Lucas Taylor, I don't know what this is all about, but believe me I'm going to find out. Right now I don't know whether to laugh at you, cry that you would think anything was happening, or scream at you for being a stupid ass.
"First let's start with Keith. What the hell are you thinking? I would never do anything like that with him. He's like a little brother to me. I could never think of him any other way.
"Keith, come here and tell Marcus what you said to me after the Jared incident."
Keith was bouncing back and forth on the balls of his feet, with his head bowed down. His hands were deep in his pockets, he quietly spoke.
"Marcus, Tony really is the first guy in forever to treat me like a friend and not a piece of meat. Usually, guys take one look at me and want to get in my pants. Tony has never been like that. I guess he is like a big brother to me. Really, I'm sorry... he was helping me study and we must have fallen asleep. I'm so sorry."
"See you are being a jackass... " I turned, put my arm around Keith's shoulder, and lead him to the door.
"Keith, I will text you in the morning. Don't worry we will get this cleared up. You need to get a good night sleep and we will talk tomorrow. Focus on the paper, and then we can work on studying for the test."
"I'm sorry; please let me know that you guys got this worked out. I feel awful this happened."
I gave him a hug and tried to reassure him, "Everything will be fine! I should have known something was going on, but sometimes I can be so clueless. Trust me, this is about something else and I will get to the bottom of it. Please don't worry, we love each other too much to let something stupid affect our relationship. I just need to find out why my boyfriend completely overreacted and what's going on with him.
"I will let you know when we get this all worked out. Trust me things will be fine. Good night, Keith."
I walked Keith out the door, and turned around. I wasn't exactly sure what was wrong with Marcus, but I sure as hell wasn't going to let this rest until I had answers. I walked back into the bedroom...
"Hon, I don't know what's going on with you right now. I will be in the living room when you are ready to come out, apologize to me, and tell me what caused this jackass attitude of yours. I'm starting to get very angry and don't want to lose my temper. Please come out when you are ready." I barely kept myself from yelling.
I slowly turned and started to leave the bedroom, when I heard Marcus mutter something.
"I'm sorry, but I didn't hear what you said."
"I said I'm sorry, you're right I'm being a jackass. Please don't go." I barely understood through the tears.
"Will you tell me why this happened? I mean every time I've had contact with Keith you've been different. I guess I noticed the enthusiastic love making, but I never put two and two together. Marcus, this is so not about Keith. Please tell me what's going on. It's taking a lot for me to not get totally pissed at you. How could you even think I would ever hurt you that way? Don't you know I love you with all my heart? You saw what someone cheating did to me. How could you ever think I would do that to you? That I could hurt you? Fuck, Marcus talk to me."
Marcus just kept crying. I know it took every bit of patience I had not to storm out of the bedroom. I just stood there, waiting.
"I'm sorry. Oh my god, I'm so sorry. I can't believe what an ass I've been, please forgive me."
"You need to explain this to me. I don't understand why, I could never... This is obviously about something or somebody else. But you need to tell me what's going on... this hurt me."
"I don't know... I'm not sure..."
"Marcus, I'm going to get myself some coffee. When I get back, I need answers. If it takes all night, I need answers."
"I'll come out and we can talk on the couch. I'm so sorry. I promise I'll try to explain."
I got coffee and waited for Marcus. I watched him walk from the bedroom and past the office. He paused for just a moment and looked into the office. I was pretty sure he was staring at the photo my father had made for us. Finally, he sat on the couch.
"I don't have an excuse for this, but I might have an explanation. This is going to take a few minutes. I'm so sorry. I think I need to start at the beginning for me.
Marcus began slowly…
I was a sophomore in college. I knew I wanted to go to law school, even then. It was the beginning of the new semester; I started taking a photography course. It was supposed to be an easy A. The first day of class, one of the other students asked the teacher why we were spending so much time on film and not exploring digital images. The professor told us that digital photography would never replace the film experience, it was too limiting. That student burst out laughing.
He was blond haired and blue-eyed, he had the ultimate surfer dude look. I stared at him for a moment too long. He smiled at me. I quickly looked away and at the end of class dashed out. I only had a few minutes for lunch, so I hurried to the student union to eat.
I was inhaling some yogurt and fruit, when he sat down at my table.
"My name is Adrian, you and I are going back to my place. Just promise me you won't fall in love with me, because I will break your heart."
"What makes you think I'm going back to your place? I have class in about fifteen minutes. And besides why the hell would I date you?"
"Oh we aren't going to date; we are skipping right to the good stuff."
"Well, Adrian was it? I'm going to class. Apparently, I will see you in photography class on Wednesday."
"Playing a little hard to get I see... That's okay, I like a challenge. But rest assured you and I will be hitting the sheets before long."
Adrian met me after class all that week while I rushed lunch. That Friday night he brought me back to his apartment. He was right though, I should never have fallen in love.
Adrian was a senior. His whole life was planned out by his father. After college, he was going home to learn the family business... dry cleaning. Little did his father know, when he started taking that photography class; it changed everything.
At first, we went around town taking shots for class. It wasn't long before he discovered he loved being behind the camera, and I discovered I loved just being around him. We both aced the class, but I found out I had the eye for the final product; you saw that with your father. On the other hand, Adrian was an incredibly talented artist.
We spent Christmas break in New York City. We bounced all over the city. I think we worked twenty hours each day. It was unbelievable. I loved being around him when he worked. After two weeks in the city, I went home to get ready for the next semester.
When I returned to school, I was so excited to see Adrian again I dashed to his apartment. I walked in on him fucking around with two guys. I didn't know what to do. I was devastated. I went back to my dorm room and cried. Somehow he convinced me to forgive him. It was the just the first time he would sleep around on me. I kept going back to him and he kept cheating.
By the end of the semester, things were at a breaking point for me. It really didn't matter. He packed up and left school two weeks before exams. Never a word of goodbye, he never even left a note.
Eventually I moved on. Occasionally I would see a photo in the paper or a magazine and I knew it was his work. My second year in law school, I got a letter from him. He told me he was sorry… He said he warned me not to fall in love. Then he admitted he had loved me too; but the life I wanted wasn't the same as the life he wanted. I haven't heard from him since, but I still see his work.
"After Adrian, I didn't let anyone get close, even when I dated Scott… I could choose to stay friends because I hadn't let him get close enough to hurt me. You are the first man I've really loved since Adrian. I guess part of the reason I never told you how I felt; if I didn't let you in you couldn't hurt me like that. In my heart I know you could never cheat, but I guess my head has been just waiting for the day it happens.
"Tony, please forgive me. I have been nothing short of a jackass. I kept waiting for you to do the same thing to me, and I know that's never going to happen. I love you with all my heart. I'm so sorry. Can you forgive me? Please, Babe, I promise this won't ever happen again."
He started sobbing uncontrollably.
I was still a little angry, but how could I stay mad at Marcus.
"You broke your promise to me. We are supposed to talk things over good or bad. If you had just talked to me when I started helping Keith, this whole thing would never have happened. You know I love you and would never hurt you. Of course I forgive you, but you need to apologize to Keith, too.
"And you need to make that promise to me again, only this time I expect you to keep it."
"I promise, Babe. I'm so sorry. I love you so very much." He grabbed me around the neck and just kept sobbing on my shoulder.
Finally, I put my hands on either side of his face and pulled him into a kiss.
"I love you too. Let's call it a night. We will be meeting Danni's Hunter tomorrow."
Thanks to the people I couldn't do this without:
My hubby, Ray,
My editor, David, and
My friend, Fitz