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I was spooned up against Marcus, when he started thrashing around.
"No, please don't leave... I'm sorry I didn't mean it. I'm sorry, Tony... Please don't go... I can't lose you. God, I love you so much... Please don't leave me... No..."
I squeezed him and tried to wake him up. I grabbed onto him tightly and tried to talk him out of whatever was happening in his sleep.
"Marcus, it's okay. I'm right here. It's just a nightmare. Everything is going to be fine. Hon, wake up."
He continued to thrash about. I wondered at the time, if my nightmares were like this. I kept trying to wake him.
"Marcus, it's just a bad dream. I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere. C'mon Hon, everything is okay."
He bolted straight up. Tears streaming down his face, he looked at me.
"Babe, I'm so sorry."Marcus gasped between sobs. "I can't believe I let what happened to me all those years ago affect us. I've been an idiot. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I'm so sorry," He continued to cry.
"Please stop worrying. Really, everything is fine. I love you and this misunderstanding isn't going to change that. However, you used up all the stupid you're allowed for a while." I grinned at him, trying to lighten the mood.
He sniffled a bit and then seemed to pull it together, "I suppose that's fair."
"Look, there's a long ways to go before you catch up to my stupid. Anyway, go back to sleep. We need to be at our best for Danni's Hunter. Right now we need sleep."
I woke up Saturday morning to coffee and French toast in bed. I wondered how long his guilt was going to last.
"I love breakfast in bed with you, but the only thing you need to do for me is simply apologize to Keith. You need to let him know things are fine between us; he has a lot of work to get done this weekend and needs to stop worrying. If you want to talk about Adrian, I'm here to listen anytime. But for me things are good."
"Babe, call Keith and I'll talk to him. We have a ton of things to do today. I really want to be our best when we meet Hunter. It's important to Danni."
Marcus and Keith talked for about fifteen minutes. Marcus's apology was very sincere. He even encouraged Keith to call me whenever he needed help. Afterwards, Keith seemed his usual self. I laughed at him and told him to get to work.
"If you need help studying for the exam, call me tomorrow. I told you things would be fine. Now, get to work." I added before hanging up.
Hunter was arriving by bus at six that evening. The plan was for me and Danni to pick him up and bring him back to the condo for dinner. Then we would hit our favorite gay club, Noah's, for a little dancing. I hadn't had the chance to talk with Danni since Wednesday night. She met with Marcus's friend from the Task Force on Friday and I really hoped it helped her.
Before dinner could happen, Marcus and I needed to hit the grocery store. At the checkout, we both pulled out our debit cards to pay for the supplies.
"I got it, Babe" Marcus said as he put his hand on my shoulder to move me out of the way. I wasn't sure if I was still a little tense from the night before, but I found it really annoying. I didn't think the grocery store was the right place, so I kept my mouth shut.
After unloading the grocery bags, I stewed for a moment. Finally, I put my arms around Marcus and pulled him close. "I don't know if today is the right time to do this, but I think we need to have a little talk about money, Hon. I got a little annoyed in the grocery store when you just swooped in and paid. I'm working now and getting a paycheck. It was really wonderful when I was still in school that you took care of everything. Now that I'm making money, I want to talk about sharing the expenses around here."
"I'm sorry, Babe. I didn't even think about it. I didn't mean to upset you. Fuck, I can't seem to do anything right lately." He started to tear up.
"This is exactly why I don't know if now is the right time to do this. I want you to talk to me, not apologize. This needs to be a mutual discussion. Last night is done. Can we please just talk about this calmly and not have it be more than it is?"
"You're right. I'm sorry. Let me collect my thoughts and we can do this rationally. Give me just a second." He walked into the office and pulled out some papers.
He motioned me over to the table. "Babe, I've thought about this before today. I have a couple of papers I need you to look at. I have a list of all the regular household expenses and then a couple of other things I want to talk about."
I was not surprised that Marcus had taken the time to figure out the expenses. He was always so organized. On the other hand, I had been thinking about the money situation for a couple of weeks. After my first paycheck, I had been doing a little planning. I had no real expenses. My car was paid off, and my student loans were not due until I finished my doctorate or dropped out of the program. Fortunately, I had only taken loans out to cover living expenses; my tuition and books were covered by scholarships. I was thinking however, about starting to pay them off now that I was working.
"Okay, here is a list of expenses for the house. I added a little extra for the groceries so we could have parties and such whenever we wanted. I drew up a suggested student loan payment plan for you. I don't know exactly how much you have to cover, but I figured if we started to pay those loans off it would benefit us in the long run. I'm not sure how you feel about combining our accounts so I made a plan for how much we each can contribute to a joint account. If you want to keep a separate account, I completely understand.
"The last page is a contract you need to read. If you need me to explain it, or parts of it, I can decipher the lawyer talk."
I looked over the expenses and the loan payment plan. Frankly, it was slightly more than I planned on paying, but acceptable. Finally, I looked at the last sheet.
"I can't sign this."
"I don't understand. Why not?"
"You are making me half owner of the condo. You own this place; you bought and paid for it. I can't accept this."
"First, my grandfather actually paid for it. He set up a trust fund for all of us to purchase property. I bought the condo and the rest of the trust sits until I actually purchase a house. Jamie and Nick both used theirs on the houses they live in.
"Second, when I asked you to move in here, I said I wanted it to be our place. I meant every word. This is not an 'I'm sorry let me make it up to you' move. I have been thinking about this for a while now. If you read the contract, it says if we break up, ownership reverts back to me with a buyout based on the years we are together. I only threw that in there to make my father happy; you know the trust fund thing. I can take it out. Babe, but I really meant 'our' place.
"Finally, if we are ever going to get to be grandpas... We will need to find a house to raise our kids first. We will have the equity from this place and the rest of the trust to buy a house together."
I sat there stunned. I never expected this. It took me a couple of minutes to wrap my head around the whole thing.
"I'm speechless. Here I was thinking about how I should be sharing the expenses, and you do this. I don't know how to react."
"Babe, for me, once we became a couple, I knew what I saw for our future. I never want money to be a source of any disagreements for us. I think it contributed to the demise of my parents' marriage. I decided long ago when I fell for someone; money would never get between me and my love. So the choice is yours. We can either, combine our finances, start a joint account, or keep things the way they are for now. I can work this anyway you are comfortable. You don't have to decide right this minute. As your lawyer, I recommend you read over this contract thoroughly before signing it." He was grinning at me when he finished.
"As my lawyer, huh?"
"Well, I do have a written consent form on file."
"I suppose you do. I'd forgotten about that. But, I did sign it under much duress as I recall. It might not stand up in court." I burst out laughing.
"Oh, don't worry about that... I think the only one who would challenge it, is kind of in love with the lawyer who drew it up. It's pretty rock solid."
"You seem pretty sure of yourself. I might not be so sure if I were you."
He grinned and pulled me in for a kiss. Right at that moment, I decided I was all in. I knew nothing would ever come between us. I did however have a couple of questions.
"Well, if I could consult with my lawyer, I have a few things that need to get cleared up."
"I guess I have time to fit you in, since I am on retainer of some sorts."
"First, what is the upper limit of the expenditures that don't need mutual agreement? Second, how much is being set aside for savings for the future domicile and the like?" I tried framing things in my best legalese. "And finally, when were you going to have this discussion with me? You obviously had the whole thing planned out for weeks."
"If it pleases the court, I'll answer all your questions as soon as I get my payment for the retainer. I believe my client owes me a kiss."
"Oh it pleases the court a lot." We started kissing. As always, Marcus took my breath away when he kissed me like that. I lingered a moment with my forehead pressed against his.
"Objection, I think the lawyer is trying to make this party stop thinking completely with kisses like that." I grinned.
"Seriously, Babe, you don't have to decide right now. As far as your questions, we can finalize all that at some point. I just want you to think about where your comfort level rests."
"Hon, I already decided I was all in. Just tell me what we need to do. I can get out of work early one afternoon if we need to go to the bank or what not. I am still a little over whelmed by the whole condo thing, though."
"I know, but it's what I've wanted since you moved in here. You see you aren't the only one who started running instead of walking when you kissed me that night in August. Despite being an idiot last night, I know this is forever. I love you period... I think that's how you put it."
I picked Danni up at his apartment. He was a nervous wreck. I didn't know where to start. I wanted to figure out what was going on with him.
"I know you're nervous. Please talk to me. I really wish we had a couple of hours to talk before Hunter arrives; But since he will be here in thirty minutes, short-hand it for me."
"I will tell you this. You are such a great friend. I hope you like Hunter when you meet him, because if we can get through this week together... And he'll have me... Well Mr. 'Love is always worth it' I think I could be officially coupled..."
"Oh My God! That is fucking awesome! I am so pumped. How did you finally get here?"
"Tony, we've been through a lot together. The day I met you I scared the shit out of you. But you are such an amazing person you gave me a hug anyway. At that moment, I knew you were very special. After your attack, we got so close with that shared experience. Then the other night, you boiled all my confusion and stress down to a simple thought. Love is always worth the effort. You are absolutely right. I can only say thank you for being you, and helping me get to where I can be happy.
"Marcus's friend Henry was informative. He helped me to know the facts. It helped, don't get me wrong. But, your attitude tipped the scales. Love can't be boiled down to the dos and don'ts. It's about your heart and not your head, about emotions and not thinking, but feeling. But enough talking about it, there is someone I'm dying for you to meet. Get me to the bus station."
"Yes, your royal highness. Me thinks your prince awaiteth. Boy, he better be everything you said, because now, he's going to face me and Marcus and tons of questions."
Danni was a bundle of nerves as we waited for the bus from New York City. Finally, the bus arrived and passengers began to unload. I think Hunter wanted to make a dramatic entrance because he was the last one into the terminal. Danni took one look at the cutest man I'd seen in a while and beamed. He had jet black hair and chocolate brown eyes. His skin was almost mocha brown. When he saw Danni, those eyes lit up. At that moment, I was sold. You can't fake that look.
"Anthony Wallace, I want you to meet Hunter Johns. Hunter, this is Tony."
"Tony, it's a real pleasure. I've heard a lot about you." He stuck out his hand.
I gave him a look of distain. "I don't know how you greet folks down in the big city, but here in upstate, and I mean the real upstate-- we hug." I grabbed him and gave him a big hug.
"Let's get going. My boyfriend is cooking a feast. And then we are going dancing, I hope you are ready for some excitement in the little city." I grinned.
We got to the condo and started to climb the stairs. Hunter reached out for Danni's hand as they walked. When we reached the landing, Danni pulled Hunter towards him and planted a kiss on his lips. He was caught completely by surprise and gave him a questioning look. Danni smiled and nodded his head yes. The next thing I knew, Hunter was spinning Danni around, beaming with the widest smile, and kissing him back.
"Okay, before you two need to get a room, you still have to get past my boyfriend. He won't be so easy to convince as I am..." I scolded them.
"Who are you kidding? Your boyfriend is so deliriously happy, he will be a pushover." Danni chided me. "You were the one I was worried about. And frankly, I saw your face when Hunter walked into the terminal. You were on board before I even introduced you two."
"Well maybe so, but the look in his eye when he saw you... sorry nobody is that good of an actor. You can't fake that sparkle. However, before you two get all mushy on each other, I expect Hunter to be grilled over dinner and be forced to declare his intentions, it's only fair."
The three of us burst out laughing as we walked into the condo.
"Hunter Johns, I would like you to meet my oldest friend. We've known each other since we were freshman in high school. Marcus Taylor, this is my... Hunter." Danni got as red as a steamed lobster.
"Well Danni's... Hunter. It's a pleasure to meet you. And don't let him kid you... he's way older than me. There is no way we were in high school together." Marcus looked serious.
"You fuck head. As a matter of fact, one of us has already entered his thirties, while I can still claim to be in my twenties." Danni had his hands firmly on his hips.
I could not contain myself any longer. "Hunter, please forgive those two. Trust me. If we don't ignore them, they will be like this all night. Can I get you a drink of some kind? I think I'm going to make some coffee. What can I get for you?"
"Honestly, I would love a glass of ice water. It was a nasty bus ride. I wish I had sprung for the train instead. Then perhaps, I might not have had an eighty year old woman chew my ear off for four hours. She was sweet, but one more story about her great-grandson and I might have jumped out of the bus, while it was moving."
I burst out laughing. I liked Hunter, and the way he looked at Danni. He was funny and charming. I was so happy for Danni. I felt like she finally met her match.
"Well frankly, the only escape from the questioning you are about to experience would be to jump off the balcony. I don't recommend it; it is much higher off the ground than it appears.
"I will start while my boyfriend finishes up dinner. Okay, so where are you from and for how many tours have you been the musical director?" I put my best serious face on.
Hunter looked at me and then over at Danni. Finally, Danni burst out laughing.
"Don't let them get to you. The two of them will pretend to be all serious interrogators, but they really just want to get to know you. I may have hinted you could mean more to me than just a friend. So, these two will kick into protective mode. It will be a whole lot easier if you just tell them about yourself."
He chuckled, "It's nice to know you have friends who look out for you. I didn't think divas had friends though, just an entourage."
"You ass, just for that I'm going to let these two pound you with questions. Have at it boys..." He snapped his fingers as if commanding the crowd.
"Wait, wait... let me try to give you a little history and then ask away... "
Marcus had made chicken and eggplant parmesan. Of course, there was some angel hair pasta and homemade sauce to go with it. By the time dinner was over, Hunter had started to fill us in. It was his second tour as musical director. He had graduated Julliard, and had been working for these producers for almost five years. No he hadn't ever been in a relationship with the lead before or for that measure anyone we worked with. And he was originally from Detroit. He filled us in on a lot of other little details about himself both personally and professionally.
I was slightly surprised when he started to talk about his HIV status and how he thought he had been infected. After seven years of dealing with his diagnosis, he tried to reassure us he was very healthy at that moment. He also made it clear that Danni was the first person he had fallen for since finding out he was positive. He had thought love was out of the question until they met. He even confessed to seeking counseling after Danni left New York City. He had been prepared to just be friends, but the possibility of more frightened him.
I got up from my chair and put an arm around each of them. "You two need to talk. I think if you keep communicating with each other, you can find answers together.
"Danni probably hasn't told you about me... "
"Oh, trust me I know all about you." Hunter interrupted. "Danni talks about you two all the time. I almost feel like we've been friends for years."
Marcus reached across the table, grabbed one of each of their hands, and started, "You both are going into this relationship with your eyes open. Make sure you open your hearts too. There are some definite obstacles laid out in front of you. But together you are stronger than either one of you is alone. And Hunter, we are now friends, too. You can always count on us. We are always just a phone call or a text away. Trust me."
"Wow, when Danni told me about you two, you sounded too good to be true. I guess he wasn't exaggerating. Thanks, it means the world to me to be accepted by you guys.
"Dinner was amazing. Thank you so much. But ... I was led to believe there would be dancing tonight. I'd like to check out how you country folk move. That is before I crash and burn. I hope you don't mind going out a little early and packing it in early too." Hunter smiled.
"I think that's a perfect idea. I do want to warn you. When I dance with my boyfriend, I lose all track of time. So, you need to promise; when it's time to call it a night, you will speak up." Marcus grinned.
"Not to worry, rumor has it I'm going home with a diva tonight... "
"What is this nonsense? You may need to make other arrangements if you keep this up." Danni feigned a serious look. "I am so not a diva."
Marcus, Hunter, and I all started laughing hysterically. Danni stood there for a moment, looking offended at the thought.
"I'll show you Diva." Danni sashayed into the bedroom. When she returned, she burst out screaming, "I told you NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!" Brandishing a white plastic hanger, he almost pulled off the look.
The three of us rolled on the floor laughing so hard, we had tears rolling down our cheeks. Danni finally whispered, "See I'm no Diva. I'm a fabulous actor, however."
Hunter grabbed Danni and kissed him.
"You are amazing." Hunter continued to laugh. "But we need to go out soon or I'm going to crash before we get started."
"Give me about fifteen minutes to clean up the kitchen and we are out of here." Marcus said. He began shouting orders. He instructed Danni to load the dishwasher from the table, and me to start washing the pots from the pasta and sauce, and the trays the chicken and eggplant baked on.
"Marcus, you're good. I could use someone organized and a delegator like you on tour to get work done. I'm afraid I might be a little distracted by the lead in this show. Word is he's hot as hell."
Noah's was quiet when we got there, it was early after all. But an hour or so later the place was packed. During the course of the night, Hunter was introduced to Scott and Justin, as well as Keith. We even ran into my first boyfriend Brian and his boyfriend, Stephen. We had a great time. Hunter kept ribbing on us country folk, and I kept giving him grief for his clunky dance moves. Eventually, Hunter could barely keep his eyes open, so we called it a night. We made plans with the new lovebirds for Monday night, and dropped them at Danni's place.
Marcus and I got back to the condo at about midnight. I was completely worn out. I think I was asleep before my head rested on his chest.
Sunday morning I was treated to breakfast in bed again. I suppose there is something to be said for sleeping in. You would think Marcus getting up would wake me, but mornings were never my time of the day.
We were expected at Jamie and Sarah's for Taylor family dinner that afternoon. I was really looking forward to seeing them and the boys. Marcus and I were bringing dessert.
"What's that smell? Seriously, what time did you start baking this morning?"
"It's just a couple of pies, cherry for the twins and you, blueberry for the rest of the family. I cheated this time and got ready-made crusts."
After the two of us showered, while we were still in the bathroom brushing our teeth, I looked in the mirror at my beautiful boyfriend. He smiled. After a quick mouthwash rinse, I suddenly was overcome with the need to kiss him.
Slow and steady the kisses became more and more passionate. Just then the timer on the stove went off.
"Babe, I need to get the pies out of the oven," He grinned.
While he was busy in the kitchen, I got back into bed. I wasn't sure what time we needed to be at Jamie and Sarah's, but I was ready to let go of all my inhibitions. It was time for me to completely move past my mental block. I had been cleared by my doctor and I knew I wanted to share everything with Marcus. It was time to finally let go of my fears and take care of business so to speak.
"Babe, what's up why are you back in bed? Are you not feeling well? I mean we have about three hours before we need to be at Jamie's... what's up?"
"Marcus, lose the robe. I need you, I really need you"
"Tony? I'm not sure I understand..."
"í want to know what it feels like. I can't promise much... but the doctor says there is no reason not to try. I want you to make love to me in every way. Please I really want this."
"Babe... Are you sure?"
"Please... I want you. I love you so much. I'm just a little nervous. I feel like I'm ruining the moment here. Marcus Lucas Taylor, I want you to fuck me." My nerves were shot. I was babbling.
Marcus dropped his robe and got into our bed. He grabbed me and started kissing me. As always the passion built, I moaned into the kisses. We took a breath; I reached into the nightstand and pulled out the lube I bought on the way back from the doctor's office.
"Babe, you need to promise me if you feel pain you tell me. I will do my best to get you prepared, but you need to make sure you let me know how you feel."
"I love you and trust you. I want this so bad. I promise to tell you if it hurts. Just be patient with me."
"Don't worry; we can stop whenever you need. This is such a gift, I love you."
He started slowly, one finger to spread lube. He slowly worked the finger in and out. At the moment he hit something in my ass, I heard myself moan. Later I found out my prostrate was nothing short of a magic button for me. Slowly, he added a second finger, all the while kissing me. I grimaced slightly at the intrusion, but then I felt myself start to push back on his fingers. I was beginning to lose myself in the feelings.
"Oh god Marcus, you are amazing. I've never had these feelings before. Please don't stop."
"Relax, we are just getting started."
When the third finger entered my ass, my cock pulsed. I could feel every movement in my entire body. Marcus started kissing down my chest, pausing at each nipple. He licked across my stomach and took the head of my dick in his mouth. All the while, he moved his fingers in and out of my ass. I started thrashing on the bed.
"Stop or you'll make me shoot. Please fuck me, I want you so bad."
"Babe, I want you too. But, we need to do this slowly."
He entered me and just held still. It hurt and I tried to fight it.
"Babe, stop fighting it... push out like you need to go. Do we need to stop?"
"Oh God no, but it burns. Give me a minute..."
Ever so slightly I could feel him move forward. The pain was mostly gone, replaced by a fullness I had never experienced. I had no control of my body; I could feel myself push back against him, making him go deeper. He started to rock back and forth a little. Each time he moved forward, my cock pulsed. After a few more strokes, I felt my orgasm flow from my ass through my cock. I exploded without touching myself.
"Oh my God"
Marcus slowed for just a moment and then started moving again. My cock never softened. Every nerve was on fire. Marcus seemed to be as lost in the feelings as I was. He had his eyes closed and it looked like he was trying to hold off cuming. After what didn't seem long enough, he stopped moving.
"Is something wrong? Why are you stopping?"
"It's time to flip positions..."
"What do you mean? You want me to..."
"Babe, why should you have all the fun?"
And so we changed positions. I tried to copy Marcus's moves. My experience was limited. I entered Marcus and had to stop. I had never felt such passion. I started to slowly move. I'd never done this without condoms before, but we had been tested more than once. I continued to slowly move, pulling almost completely out before pushing back in. When Marcus erupted, I barely held off. If I hadn't already cum once, it would have been impossible to hold back.
Then we changed again. Finally, we both exploded for the second time. I was exhausted, deliriously happy, but exhausted.
"Please don't move. I want you to stay inside me. Marcus, that was unbelievable. I love you so much. You are amazing."
"No, Babe, you are. It's never been like that before for me. I love you too. But we need to get cleaned up and go to Jamie and Sarah's for dinner. We need to hurry or we will be late."
"I thought we had three hours?"
"Well it might have felt like time stood still... but we used almost two of those hours up. If you want to spend any time with the boys or my brother and sister-in-law, we need to get a move on. Plus, I think I need to wash your hair..." He grinned.
We were the first to arrive at Jamie and Sarah's home. The twins jumped into our arms and started shouting in Marcus and my ears.
"Uncle Marcus and Uncle Tony, we been waiting for you. You gots ta see our new tree house. Daddy built it all hisself." Josh burst out.
Stephen wrapped his arms around my neck. "We missed you guys. C'mon you need to see the most awesomest tree house ever."
Jamie laughed, "Ok boys; let your uncles catch their breaths. There's plenty of time to check out the tree house. Why don't you go out and play? The adults need to talk for a few minutes."
Stephen put both hands on his hips and let his father know exactly what he thought of the idea. "Daddy don't take too long. Grandpa will be here soon too, and then it will be too late. You dults will just keep talking."
"I promise Uncle Marcus and I will make it out to the tree house. Just give us a couple of minutes, buddy."
"Okay, Uncle Tony, but you better hurry. You don't want to miss the chance to slide down the big slide."
Stephen and Josh ran out to the backyard. Jamie and Sarah moved over next to each other and just beamed at us.
Marcus took one look at the two of them and burst, "Holy crap, you're pregnant again aren't you?"
Sarah nodded her head. I rushed over and hugged her, and then I gave Jamie a big hug too.
"Congratulations, this is great news. I'm so excited for your both. When is the baby due?" Marcus asked.
"Well the babies are due in March. I'm expecting twins again. Two more boys."
"Damn! Twins again? Jamie have you told Dad yet?" Marcus asked.
"No, you guys are the first to know. Man, if I would have known this one was going to pop out another set of twins... I won't be able to sleep for the next eighteen years."
"Please, you sleep just fine now. Plus, now that you have practice with twins you'll be even better at it this time. I expect a lot more help with these two."
"This is incredible news. I'm so happy for you both." I barely could contain myself.
Just then, Josh poked his head in the sliding glass door. "Are you 'dults' done yet? C'mon, Uncle M and Uncle Tony, yous guys gots to see how cool this is."
I burst out laughing, "Okay boys, here we come. Show us this awesome tree house."
Special thanks go out to:
My husband Ray, for your love and patience
My editor David, for your awesomeness
And to Fitz, for sharing your talent and friendship.