If By Chance
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"Gerald, you need to calm down," I said, trying to be rational in the face of his hysteria, but there was no getting through to him, especially at two in the morning.
"How?" he demanded tearfully, and all I could do was wrap my arms around him sympathetically. "I feel like my life just went up in smoke. What now?"
The look of devastation on Gerald's face was gripping, and I felt horrible. Seeing him that way made me wonder how I would feel in a similar situation. I mean, yeah, I've had some major disappointments in my life, but I don't think I took it as hard as Gerald. He wasn't accepting the situation as easily as I would have, but then again, I dealt with major blows differently.
This was definitely not going to be his day
"The first thing you need to do is call your insurance company," I told him matter of factly. "Nothing's going to happen until you do that. What were you able to save?"
"Just my photographs," he said in a weepy tone. "Everything else is gone."
"Well you got the most important things then," I said. "A lot of people aren't that lucky."
"I know," he agreed bitterly, and I couldn't help but silently mourn his loss for him. I tightened my embrace and softly stroked the top of his head with the tips of my fingers and said, "Why don't we try to lay down?"
"I'm not going to be able to sleep," he said, the stress he was feeling evident in his tone.
"We don't have to sleep," I reminded him. "We can just lay still and try to calm down. There's nothing else we can do until tomorrow morning."
Gerald was a luckier man than he would have admitted to being at that moment. A fire ripped through his house and he not only made it out unscathed, but he was able to grab his photo albums and an outfit before he fled the fire that raged so violently that there was nothing left of his home. His neighbor's homes on each side were badly damaged by the fire, too, but thankfully, no one was hurt.
That was of little consolation to him, though. When he called me, he was in tears. I quickly rushed to his residence, or what used to be his residence, to be with him. He was a pitiful sight when I got there, sitting on the curb across the street from his smoldering property, clutching his photo albums as if he were protecting the only thing left of the life he knew only hours ago.
Once he placed his pictures in the trunk of my car, he called his mom and dad, who lived three states away, and told them what happened. He got off the phone and gave me the saddest, loneliest look I might have ever seen in my life, and my heart melted. He needed my help, and I knew it. There was no question that I was going to give him what he needed, too. It wasn't about sex, or about the fact that we were an "item." It was more about the fact that he was someone in need, and even if he were a stranger, I wouldn't have had the heart to walk away.
"You need to take care of yourself first, son," my dad said when I mentioned that I was sponsoring a little girl in Guatemala.
"Isn't this what you and mom would do?" I asked him, and he gave me a measured look before he took a deep breath and conceded the point.
"Just don't give more than you can," he said with a proud smile.
For all of their faults, Dan and Judith Mead were at the very least charitable. My mom sold real estate, and she once promised a group of high school freshmen that if they stayed on the honor roll throughout high school, she'd pay for them to go to college. She kept that promise, too. I don't know how she did it, but I know that kept her promise.
My dad was the same way. He worked at NASA as an engineer my whole life, but was always giving something to people who didn't have things we had. We had plenty, no doubt, so that list was long. But mom and dad never batted an eye when it came to helping those in need.
"God has given us all of this," he told me one day. "We have a responsibility to give as much back as we can."
I kept that philosophy with me as I grew up, and I found out in a hurry that the more I gave, the more I got back. They say that when you want something, you should give it away. I'm not obsessed with money, but I'm relieved not to be in a position not to have to worry about it. I have nice things in my house, but I save as much as I can. I also give as much as I can, because there's no such thing as a guarantee in this life. There might be a time when I'll have to rely on charity, and if that day ever comes, I want to at least be able to tell myself that I helped others when they needed it.
In the darkness, I could make out Gerald's features. His weary face looked so angelic and innocent as he slept. When we got into my bed, I wrapped him in my arms and held him close. He rolled over on his side to face me and buried his face in my chest while I ran my fingers through his fine hair, and it wasn't long before he was fast asleep. I planted a soft kiss on his forehead and found myself glad that he was lying beside me instead of alone in a hotel room somewhere, scared and alone. At some point, the sandman revisited me and I settled into a troubled sleep.
The next morning I left Gerald in bed and went to work. Behind closed doors, I let Robin know what happened and suggested that the company might be able to do something to alleviate his financial burden. Of course, as controller, the final decision on that matter was mine. I didn't think it would be ethical for me to make a call like that for Gerald, though, given the fact that we were still unofficially dating.
Of course, I was honest with Robin about everything. I obviously didn't get into the details, but I let her know in no uncertain terms that it would be unethical for me to direct company funds Gerald's way. I told her that she needed to be the one to initiate a financial gift for him, should she decide that it was warranted.
I knew she didn't approve, but there was nothing she could do. There was no company policy in place about dating others, and I had done it so many times before. Still, she gave me a very pointed look when it became clear what was going on between us, and I had to wonder to myself why I had let things carry on as long as I had.
"Do you really think he needs the help?" she asked, and I took a deep breath before I answered.
"I think he needs more guidance than anything," I told her. "He's twenty-two, Robin. Let's offer him all the advice and time off he needs. If he needs financial assistance, I'll leave it up to you to decide what's appropriate."
At the mention of his age, she gave me another pointed look and readjusted herself in her seat before she spoke.
"Let him know that if he needs anything, he can come talk to me," she said in a neutral tone. "In the meanwhile, record his time off and give me a total when he comes back."
"Thanks Robin," I said with a sigh of relief before I stood up and opened the door, glad that our meeting was over. Normally I'm completely at ease with everyone at work, but with Robin, it was never a question. She was one of the nicest, most accepting people I had ever met in my life, both professional and personal. But this time, I saw a different side of her. It wasn't a mean side, or even an un-accepting side. No, this was something else.
It was almost as if she were implying that I was taking advantage of Gerald, or that I had no business being with him. I knew it had nothing to do with the fact that I was gay. That horse was dead, and I was quietly but completely out at work. In fact, I'd venture to say that there wasn't a single employee in the office that didn't know I was gay.
This was more about my age. Or moreover, Gerald's age. The fact that I was seeing someone so young, someone who happened to report directly to me. Someone who was a little naïve, a little insecure.
"It goes on forever, doesn't it?" he asked, leaning back into me with a look of wonder in his eyes as I wrapped my arms around his chest and locked my fingers together.
"Yeah," I said quietly, a little mystified myself at the awesome sight of the steely afternoon sky that we were gazing at, facing the East from the balcony deck on the back of my house.
"I wanted to thank you for everything, Dennis," he said a little sheepishly. "I don't know what I would have done last night without you."
"Don't even mention it," I said softly, resting my chin on top of his head and drawing in the sweet aroma of his conditioner. "I care about you a lot, Gerald. I'll be here for you for as long as you need me."
I'd be lying if I said that the sole origin of my words was the deep sense of concern I had for Gerald and my charitable spirit. The truth was, I had a growing need somewhere deep down to be there not just for Gerald, but with him. It was something that shouldn't have been there, and yet, there it was.
Part of me was happy that he'd wound up at my place, even though I wouldn't wish a house fire on anyone. When I called him from the office that morning, he was at the very least enthusiastic that things were moving along with his insurance company. They'd already been out to survey the damage of the fire and arranged for a hotel room if he needed it. When he mentioned that he had a place to go, my heart sank a little and I felt desperate to get off early to go see him.
It was backwards, I know. I mean, just a couple days before, I was trying to figure out a way to let him down easily and get him to never call me again. Now I was going out of my way to make sure that he knew that I wanted him to stick around. It wasn't what I would have called love at the time, but it was definitely like.
I liked Gerald Ballard.
"What am I supposed to do with this?" I asked incredulously and a little teasingly, looking at the product of Gerald's hard work, which was laid out in front of me in three parts.
"You're supposed to take a bite and tell me you like it," he said with a sweet smile, using the fork in his hand to scoop out a bite of cheese covered grits. He lifted it to my mouth, and I promptly opened up for him and smiled when he fed me the bite.
"I can't believe you don't eat grits more often," he said, shaking his head. "They're the greatest food in the world."
Breakfast for dinner isn't exactly an original idea. Breakfast in bed for dinner is something I'd never done, though, and it was oddly intriguing to me. Grits, bacon and eggs wouldn't have been my first choice, but I knew how hard he had worked cooking for me, so I smiled politely and let him feed me.
When he first suggested making dinner for me, I balked at the idea.
"I want to buy you dinner," I said, but he wasn't having it.
"It'll be more romantic if I cook it for you," he said. If the look on his face were a book, it would have told a story about a man who had a romantic plan. It would have stressed the importance to him that he be allowed to carry out his plan, and that his happiness at that moment rested on his ability to make me happy.
I know that sounds a little dramatic, but I swear I read all of that when I looked into his brown, expressive eyes. His puppy dog expression was both hopeful and irresistible, and who was I to tell him no? He led me to my room and told me to stay put while he worked everything out. Before he left me, he fluffed my pillows and smoothed out my bedspread for me.
When we were finished eating, he gathered up the dishes and was about to take them back down to the kitchen, but I stopped him.
"Just leave it where it is," I said. "Let's cuddle instead."
With that, he was at my side in an instant. I took him in my arms and heard him sigh before our lips met. It wasn't long before we were lost in a long, sensual kiss as our hands explored each other's bodies. That was when it dawned on me that there was no uncharted territory for me to discover. My lips, my tongue, my hands. They'd all made intimate contact with every inch of his being, and somehow, it was always perfect.
Normally, this was the coda as far as I was concerned. Nothing new meant boredom, and I would quickly lose interest in whomever I was with. For some reason, though, it was different with Gerald. Going to all of those places, the spots I already knew, was like going home again. It was a comfortable place for me to be, and I was anxious to be there as much as I could.
Very slowly, we each shed our clothes. As each article of clothing fell from our bodies to the bed, then to the floor, our energy seemed to merge and I knew it wouldn't be long before we were one with each other. I wanted it. So did he, but neither of us had to say a word.
I slowly but surely placed light kisses on his face and lips, then I carefully moved down to his neck, where I took my time and lightly suckled until I was sure he was satisfied. When I left his neck, it was so I could pay special attention to each one of his hard nipples. I slowly swirled around the perimeter of each one, then I methodically consumed each one by sucking and using my tongue in the most pleasurable way for him that I could.
As I attentively serviced his nipples, he ran his fingers through my thick head of hair and quietly moaned his delight. When I finally abandoned his chest, I moved down further to his protruding naval, using my tongue to rake across the erogenous zone and elicit another strong moan from my willing lover before I moved down again.
When I made it to his manhood, I took my time again. I ran the tip of my tongue along the top of his groin, just above his pubic bush, over and over while I looked seductively up at him. The look of desire in his eyes was too hard to resist, so I let myself go and accepted him in my mouth. As I consumed his manhood, he thrashed around and bit his fist until he could hold out no longer and spent himself.
From where I was, I could have easily taken him and he wouldn't have protested. Indeed, he had a need to be loved that night, and I knew it. I also knew that he would have been able to adjust to my love if I wanted to rush things. On this night, though, I wanted to make sure he enjoyed the love I had saved up for him, so I took my time.
I slowly used my fingers to prepare him for what was coming. As each digit entered, he would tense up and gave me a look of anticipation before settling back down so I could stimulate him. By the time I was finished, one finger turned into two. Two fingers became three, and three fingers carried with them the promise for him of a satisfying night in my bed.
I left nothing to chance with my lover that night, either. I carefully lubricated his love with KY, then I slid the protection on that both of us mutually agreed to always use when we were with each other. When he was ready for me to enter him, he looked up at me with a smile, his silent invitation to take his most precious treasure for myself.
As usual, his love was tight around my manhood. I entered him and rested while he accommodated my size. While he was adapting to our union, I leaned down and shared a long kiss with him that seemed to set the tempo for our passionate embrace. The heat of his love was intense, and as I rested within him, I could feel his pulse throbbing against the walls of his tightness.
When I finally started to move, his eyes rolled back in his head as I held on for dear life. My thoughts centered on pleasing him, but I knew that selfishly, I was indulging in the sweet center of his passion. As time passed, it became increasingly difficult to maintain my composure and I found myself frantically trying to hang on.
Finally, I could wait no longer. His body was sending me a signal that he had reached his climax, and the sight of his overflowing manhood was my affirmation that the contractions deep inside of him weren't misleading me. My own manhood was anxious for release, and I was weak. I gave in to the pleasures of the moment and spent myself, still buried deep inside of my lover. When I pulled out, I carefully removed the sleeve that acted as the single barrier between us and tossed it in the trash can beside my bed, then I took him in my arms and drifted off into a deep slumber.
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