The usual disclaimers apply. If for some legal reason you shouldn't read this...don't.
A special acknowledgement to Drew for encouraging me to tell a better story through his edits and suggestions. And a big thanks to Brad for his patient proofreading and editing. Finally, a shout-out to Trab for the final tweaks to get the story 'just right' and to Zeta reader, Rockhunter.
I love to receive feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. My other stories are listed in Nifty's Prolific Authors section, and on www.gayauthors.org.
Chapter 18, SUMMERTIME, SUMMERTIME
"I loved the look on some of those men's faces when I came out of the bedroom in my costume and the music started," Jeremy said to Charlie, with a laugh. It was the night after the 4th of July eve party and they were stretched out on their backs in Charlie's bed.
"Nice guys. Very enthusiastic without being all that proper...although I suspect there were several Log Cabin Republicans in the group." Charlie shifted around so he was lying on his stomach and had one of his legs draped over Jeremy's leg. "It was interesting to see that some of the older guys had boyfriends there who aren't much older than us."
"Yeah, and they weren't playing 'son' to a 'sugar daddy' either. I remember one couple I met - the younger man is a lawyer and his friend's a plumber."
"Who probably takes care of the barrister's pipes very well, I'm sure," Charlie said with a laugh.
"Now that you mention it, the lawyer seemed to smile a lot. And I noticed the plumber wasn't complaining." Jeremy enjoyed their private time when they could wind down and talk.
"I remember that couple. The legal beagle is probably in an Armani suit during the day and fills out a muscle tee at night."
"Then squeals like a pig as he pulls off his 501's," Jeremy added.
"Yeah, a cum pig."
"And then flails his legs while the plumber gets out his best tool." Jeremy rolled his eyes and added, "I think it's called a 'snake' in the plumbing world."
"I think this 'snake' is used to root out clogged pipes and cavities," Charlie said with a chuckle. "A very vivid imagination, Mr. Sloan. My DVD collection is having a bad influence on you."
"Such language. The only influence on me is you...and I'm not complaining." Jeremy knew they had reached a tipping point in their conversation as it veered into suggestive 'dirty talk'. It was their personal signal that the evening would soon be more physical and amorous.
"Me, neither, Babe." Charlie nuzzled in a little closer and added, "Oink, oink. I saw the way you turned on the crowd last night. I was proud that they only got a glimpse of what I have when we..."
"It's a two-way street. The temperature in that condo definitely went up when you did your 'fireman' routine. I thought you'd have to hose down a few." Jeremy shifted slightly so that his foot rubbed against Charlie's leg.
"The hosts wouldn't have appreciated any water sports. The carpet and antiques would never be the same. The guests, on the other hand, might have enjoyed it."
"The party was a hoot. I think everyone present was a little puzzled before they figured out what was happening. Not everyone believed Rick when he announced the extra entertainment and turned up the lights." Jeremy put his hand on Charlie's head and lightly stroked it.
"You got them so incredibly fired up they wouldn't let you leave after the first set. Seemed like everyone wanted a chance to tip you." He leaned in and licked Jeremy's pits.
"Hon, as I remember, we both counted out about the same in tips. Don't under-estimate yourself...it was a fun and profitable night."
"Grope-fest was more like it," Jeremy replied with a snicker. "There were more hands than bills...but we kinda expected that. You told me when we first met that male audiences respect the equipment. But I had to back away from one guy who started stroking me."
"I saw you before my number...you'd gotten a little aroused." Charlie moved his hand over to Jeremy's crotch and playfully petted his partner's ball sac. "Mind you, I don't think stroking is a sign of disrespect...more the opposite."
"Or, just a group of horny guys who react by grabbing first and asking questions later."
"Maybe we can agree on horny, aggressive respect?" Charlie couldn't mask his suggestive grin.
"Good summation, counselor. As you know, this was my first male stag party and I didn't expect the guys would get quite so carried away when I danced around in the crowd. A few times there were a couple of hands down my front while someone was exploring my ass. But I pulled back before my hormones kicked into overdrive and told them they were being naughty...in a friendly way, of course."
"You didn't see what happened to me after I did my dance," Charlie said. "I was in front of a couple and while one guy was feeding me a few bucks, his friend grabbed my hand and placed it on his crotch. Sonofabitch had pulled his cock out and got it hard. And the monster was oozing a little."
"Oh, shit. What did you do?"
"Grabbed hold of his dick, rubbed his juice around a few times and told him that he should keep that ready for his friend. I brought up my wet hand, put it in front of his friend's face and told the guy to lick it."
"He took the bait, tongued my palm and said that this was a sneak preview of coming attractions." Charlie moved over a little and nibbled on the nearest nipple.
"Cool. Must remember that move." Jeremy dug his fingers into Charlie's shoulder and massaged the muscles.
"Move...for who? The audience or me?"
'Maybe both. I'm learning that you gotta be nimble to maintain the balance between performing a show and just being sleazy."
"Yeah, you're right...that's part of the program. Let everybody have a great time and make sure everyone knows how far he or she can go. With guys, especially, a private party could change on a dime. But last night, everyone understood it was just fun. Plus, I noticed Jim was monitoring his guests to make sure it didn't get out of control. Our old principal was looking out for us." Charlie moved a few fingers back and massaged Jeremy's perineum.
"Mr. Franklin...Jim, caught the action with you and the guest with his..."
"Oh, yeah. He wasn't very pleased with that one guy who pulled his porker out. Jim came out from the kitchen with some drinks and almost dropped the glasses when he saw what was happening."
"Yikes, I would have been embarrassed?" Jeremy stopped thinking about his physical pleasure and added, "What did Jim do?"
"By the time he got over to us, I had made my move to extract myself from that situation. Jim looked pretty pissed but I smiled and said his guest had just gotten a little excited - that was all - and the guy's friend would take over later."
"My gut reaction is that if we hadn't been there, Jim would have loved to join the action and a little playtime...from the glint in his eyes," Jeremy replied as he squirmed a little.
"Jim, in his younger years, was probably frequently boogying away at one of those bars on Halsted Street or checking out the action at one of the baths that were popular years ago before all the shit started with AIDS." Charlie tenderly circled the ridges around Jeremy's pucker.
"But he's quite a gentleman. Funny, I don't really think of him as Mr. Franklin after last night - just a very attractive older guy who's kinda sexy." Jeremy furrowed his brow and sighed at Charlie's touches.
"Foxy in a distinguished way. By the way, don't feel like you were the Lone Ranger in the groping department. I had a few horny toads push the boundaries. I was getting worked over by another man who told me a Ben Franklin was mine if he could have a lap dance in the bedroom. I gracefully told him that my lover was waiting for me and said 'no'...with a wink and a smile." He secured Jeremy's balls in his hand and gently rolled them around. "I admit a hundred bucks is tempting...but no cigar."
"Lap dance? Does that happen often?" Jeremy asked as he continued to knead Charlie's back.
"Once in a while if the money is good and the situation is right. The trick is in positioning the woman a little differently than a man."
"And being a good actor. You know...pretending like you're enjoying it. Assuming that everything else will work." Jeremy laughed and reached under to rub Charlie's pecs.
"Ha. You're still at a point in your life where watching dogs do it gets you hard."
"Ummm, speaking of hormones, there's only one dog that gets me hard." Jeremy felt the effects of Charlie's caresses. His cock approved of the manipulations.
"First I 'oink' and now you want me to me bark," Charlie said with a laugh. "I feel like a trained seal. Next, you'll be asking me to blow out a song on horns."
"Blowing...horns. Charlie, I won't even go there." Jeremy snickered and pinched his lover's nearest hard nipple.
"Seriously, there's a fine line between entertaining and servicing someone...it's just a matter of knowing where that line is."
"Understand completely. Garin and I had a few 'what if' conversations when we first spoke. I'm perfectly comfortable performing in the shows and doing a little soft porn stuff at private parties. I may be younger but I'm not na´ve as to why I was hired."
"Jer, naivety is hardly the issue. You're 18 going on 30 - I'm really proud of your attitude about our job. We'll be working a few parties next month where the ladies will pay very well to see what's beneath our thongs...and how everything looks down there." Charlie moved his hand up to Jeremy's erect cock and began stroking at the base. "It's a matter of following the rules about no penetration and stuff like that."
"And having no problem if they handle the merchandise as...you're...doing." From the slick feeling of his lover's hand, Jeremy was aware that he was emitting natural lubrication.
"I think I handled your 'merchandise' just a little longer than a client should," Charlie replied with a whisper. "Probably would be best not to get so gooey with someone else."
"Oh, babe, I have a feeling that this conversation is going to be finished very soon. Sounds like I'm going to need a little more training." Jeremy firmly repositioned Charlie's body so it was straddling his - face-to-face, dick-to-dick. "But I'd like to continue with what you're doing and I'm not ready to finish."
"That we will always reserve for each other...exclusively." Charlie pressed his lips on Jeremy's willing mouth and began the ritual the two lovers had developed to orgasmic perfection.
"And, tonight, we have a little celebration." Charlie looked into Jeremy's eyes and slowly ground his crotch into Jeremy's groin.
"I forgot to tell you, with all the excitement yesterday, that the results came back from the doctor concerning our HIV tests. It's no surprise that we are both very negative and I propose that we dispense with the condoms...unless you tell me differently. I have only been with you since shortly after we first met and don't have any concerns about STD. I'm sorry I forgot to let you know sooner."
"Babe, no problem." Jeremy knew the term 'shortly after' probably referred to Charlie's nooner with Gio last winter. 'I don't want to screw up this moment by bringing up that bit of closed business,' he thought. "That's great news and I feel the same way. As long as we are honest with each other, I'd prefer not rolling on protection." Jeremy kissed Charlie and added, "I'm ready to say 'bye-bye, Mr. Trojan' and feel everything."
"Me, too, Hon. Me, too." Charlie reached up to turn off the lights.
August 1st in Chicago is always considered the beginning of the 'dog days of summer' - hot, sultry, sun-baked days and tepid, humid nights that locals deal with in two ways. Residents who planned ahead and had the financial resources fled for cooler climes; others accepted their fate and took evasive action that usually centered near Lake Michigan and the drone of thousands of air conditioners.
Jeremy fell somewhere into the middle. With tip money from the additional private parties and a few more modeling bookings, he was setting up a nice reserve of funds. But it was a 'Catch 22' situation: he had the money to travel but needed to be in town for his very lucrative jobs. Garin, who had become the 'go to' guy for important matters, put Jeremy in touch with his broker at Merrill Lynch. He now had a small but growing account that blended cautious investments in mutual funds and government bonds with a fluid money market fund. 'Not bad for a guy about to enter college,' he thought as he stood watch at the Bally's front desk on a quiet Monday night.
Good news came last week and some sort of closure to his brush with physical homophobia. Jeremy's lawyer called and confirmed that Max Boring and Billy Perez would plead guilty to the class-four felony hate crime. They were scheduled to stand before the judge in two weeks and officially receive the sentencing that had been arranged. The pre-trial agreement stipulated that each would serve 18 months without any parole options. Further, the two young men understood that any violation of the order to not contact Jeremy after they were released from prison would result in very severe consequences.
He was counting down the weeks until he started classes at his new school. At the end of the month, he would register and attend orientation before the first classes that would be just after Labor Day. Jeremy had already obtained a list of books he needed and had successfully found used copies at the DePaul bookstore. Even though he was more comfortable with his newly earned financial resources, the idea of saving 60% of the new book prices was very appealing.
"Hey, Jeremy, how goes it,' came a familiar voice from behind. "You look like you're off in space, someplace."
"Oh, hi, Gio. Life's actually pretty good." Jeremy maintained friendly relations with the trainer and observed Zach did the same. Zach and Will Turner were officially 'an item' but Gio seemed to continue his M.O. of seeking out new conquests. "Zoned out thinking about college. Registration is only a little over three weeks away."
"I remember those days very well. Things were...simpler then. By the way, I never really thanked you for giving Jacques - the catering guy - my number. He and I have become good buddies."
"Really? Buddies as in...?"
"Yeah, that too," Gio said with a sly smile. "But more like being good friends - although that could change. Who knows? Right now we're having a great time with no strings attached."
"Terrific. I had a feeling that you two might hit it off." Jeremy figured each guy needed no pressure of locking in a commitment. "I liked him immediately and I'm glad that my instincts proved reliable."
"He told me about the private party where he worked and you entertained. Sounded like fun."
"Jacques called me after your first date and I gave him the okay to give you the rundown of how we met. I trust you not to be telling tales." Jeremy laughed and added, "You two should come down and see the show at one of the 'men only' nights."
"As a matter of fact, that might happen soon. Zach suggested that we all go at the end of this month. He wants to meet Jacques and I want to see this man Zach's in love with. Plus, I'm dying to see you in action."
"Will Turner, Zach's friend, gives an arresting performance," Jeremy replied with a snicker.
"I don't think I understand..."
"Just me being a wiseass. We all play different roles. Will comes out as this hot policeman and really gets the audience excited with his baton. I'm the innocent, preppy college guy."
"Right...innocent," Gio said as he rolled his eyes. "That, I want to see."
"Maybe we could all do dinner somewhere afterwards. You, Jacques, Zach, Will, Charlie and me." Jeremy decided that it was silly not to fully reveal the identity of his lover. 'Might as well get this out of the way,' he thought.
"Charlie? This is the guy you're involved with? Great. Zach says he's a nice guy and we can all sit together."
"Actually, Charlie's also a dancer in the show. That's the way he earns money for college...just like I'm now doing."
"Wow, I didn't know you two worked together. Zach had just mentioned that your friend goes to Northwestern."
"Excuse me a sec," Jeremy said when a member walked in. He greeted the woman, scanned her card and smiled as she went to the locker room area. "Gio, I first met Charlie through the Barecats. And, I should let you know you've met him." He paused and looked intently at Gio. "Um, do you remember meeting a guy in Treasure Island just before Christmas and...hooking up with him?"
"Oh...fuck, do I. That was the day that...well the shit hit the fan between Zach and me. Wait, you mean that your partner and Charlie - from the market - are the same guy?"
"Yep...that's what I'm saying," Jeremy replied. "Let me take care of this gentleman and I'll give you the details." He noticed Gio looked very concerned as he turned to greet an older man dressed in gym clothes.
After checking in the member, Jeremy gave a capsule account of the day he saw Gio arriving at Charlie's apartment. Several times, he paused when someone was nearby the front desk. Throughout the monologue, Gio shifted from foot to foot and stared mostly at the floor.
"Shit. Zach never told me about this," Gio said as he looked at Jeremy. "Makes me look like a complete shithead."
"It was all going down at the same time. You came in late that day and Zach figured out what had happened. You know more about that than I do."
"Very tense. I was careless and a fool," Gio said as he shook his head.
"Personally, I was crushed cuz Charlie had implied another student was coming over to study. When I saw you at the apartment...it really pissed me off. Not just because you were fucking around behind Zach's back, but that someone I had let in my life lied to me. It was only after you guys broke up that I was able to talk things over with Zach."
"I know you two have a special bond and he looks at you as a younger brother. This is the first I've known that I managed to screw with someone else's trust in addition than my ex."
"Hey, it's water under the you-know-what. At the time, you were both looking for a little action. I had just come into the picture with Charlie - something you didn't know about. We had a pretty heated conversation and got things worked out...really well. It's a solid, monogamous, relationship now. And it appears that Zach has the same thing with Will."
"The 'monogamous thing' is what gets me into trouble. I couldn't do that with Zach, no matter how hard I tried and was fully aware of the consequences. Jacques and I are discussing an open relationship. I think I love...well, I really like him but don't want to make the same mistake."
"If that floats your boat...and, his...go for it. From what I can figure out, Jacques might be just the man. He's a neat guy."
"Neat is just the half of it. We're working on the other half."
"Just promise me one thing, Gio - that you always do everything safely. I lost my two uncles because of...well, you know...and I don't want to see friends at risk just because it feels better without..."
"Understand completely. That's something that Jacques and I agree on. Tell Charlie that I'd look forward to all of us getting together...as friends...for dinner after the show. I'll go ahead and get tickets."
"Buddy, I'm sure that Charlie would like the same thing. I'd like us to all be friends without the baggage."
"Sounds like a plan. I don't have any more appointments so I'm going to change and go home. I'll see ya sometime this week when you're in for a workout."
"Probably Wednesday. Take care." Jeremy watched Gio walk back to the locker room and was pleased that everything had been brought out in the open.
The rest of the evening was routine. Jeremy was able to get away at 11:00 p.m. and went directly home on his bike. He reminded himself that he needed to officially submit a resignation from his Bally's job, effective the end of the month. When college classes began, he didn't want to commit to even one evening a week. The Barecats and modeling gigs would take care of his expenses very nicely, and he could now afford to buy a gym membership.
"Hi, Naomi. You just get in?" Jeremy asked when he walked into their apartment. Both used it as more of a place to change clothes than a home since their mom passed away. Each kept their old rooms - neither felt right moving into the vacant larger bedroom.
"Yeah. Tom just dropped me off a few minutes ago."
"How is he? I haven't seen the good doctor for a while." Jeremy took out his dirty gym clothes from his backpack and set everything on the floor.
"Like all of us, very busy. But to answer your question: excellent. Well, more than excellent," Naomi said with a big smile. "Can you talk for a few minutes?"
"Sure, no problem. I...hey, what's that big sparkle on your hand?" Jeremy walked over and took his sister's left hand and examined a new ring. "Sis, that's a pretty big rock. Does this mean what I think it does?" He pulled Naomi off the chair and gave her a big hug. "This is definitely more than a friendship ring." Jeremy wasn't sure about karats but this was a large, sparkling stone.
"Much more than a friendship ring. We're officially engaged and I'm very happy." She leaned over and gave Jeremy a sisterly kiss on the lips.
"Congratulations. Wow...I knew you two were really into each other but this is a wonderful surprise. Tom's a great guy and I'll be proud to have him as a brother-in-law. When's the big day?" Jeremy released Naomi so she could sit down. He went over to the couch and sprawled out. "I want to know all the details."
"We're still working out those plans. Tom's mother is still a little disappointed that he's marrying outside their faith. But Mr. Goldsmith has no problem and we've had some good family discussions at their home. Chances are that we'll have a ceremony at their country club in Glencoe next summer. The Rabbi has no problem marrying us and since I don't have any close ties to a church, we'll probably do it that way."
"Are you planning on converting?"
"No. Neither Tom nor I are particularly religious. If and when kids come into the picture, then we'll figure out something that would work for the family. Maybe the Unitarian Church over on Berry Street."
"That could be a good compromise."
"Don't plan on becoming an uncle for quite a while. I figure that after I graduate from nursing school in two years, I'd like to have at least 10 or 12 years experience under my belt before the baby stork arrives."
"I can wait. Actually, I'm unofficially an uncle now with Charlie's older brother's kid. Speaking of which, we also need to plan soon on a little dinner with Tom and Charlie. The prospective brothers-in-law need to meet," Jeremy said with a laugh. "Maybe something here at the apartment, so I'm not stuck with only drinking sparkling cider like I'd have to at a restaurant."
"Mondays always seem to be good for all of us, and I'd like that. Ah, there's something else we need to discuss." Naomi took a big breath, sighed and continued, "Tom and I are very seriously thinking of me moving in with him. He's got a large condo and we're ready to, um...live together. Um, thinking is too tame an expression. I'm going to move in with him."
"Holy shit...wow. This is all very sudden. Give me a minute to mull this over." Jeremy looked at his sister and seemed to physically freeze as a lifetime of memories started flashing through his mind. He had lived in this apartment as long as he had been alive. The worn furniture, beat-up appliances, dingy bathroom and scuffed floors...it was all he'd ever known until this year.
"Jeremy? Jeremy, speak to me. You look like you're on another planet."
"I never thought this would happen. It never even occurred to me." Jeremy paused a moment and thought about his statement. "Sounds kind of feeble, doesn't it?"
"You're disappointed in me wanting to live with Tom before we get married?" Naomi asked with concern.
"No, not at all. I'm disappointed in myself for not having anticipated the inevitable day when you would be moving on to marriage. I guess you'd call it a blind spot. As far as you and Tom are concerned, we're adults living in an adult world. I have no problem with you two setting up shop. As your brother, I'll admit I don't want you to be making a mistake. You know the old expression, 'why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free', if you'll excuse the crudeness. My worry is that Tom is inviting you to live with him - but maybe not for the right reasons. That's just a brotherly concern...I don't want you to get hurt."
"Jeremy, Tom and I had those discussions and I'm totally comfortable his intentions are honorable. He's prepared to have his lawyer create documents that add my name to the title of his condo. That was his suggestion, not mine, by the way."
"Really? I'm impressed and take back my last comment. Sounds like we've both got good guys. 'Honorable men', I think Mom would have called them."
"You're right. That sounds just like Mom." Naomi shrugged and lowered her head for a moment.
"We've got a long time before the wedding next summer. Ah, so when are you going to move out? And..."
"And what about you? This is the hardest thing because we're splitting up our small family. Do you want to stay here? I know that you can afford it."
"I see now a split up was bound to eventually happen. You know, Sis, it might be the best thing for both of us...moving on. It would really be a little strange living here by myself but I'm not sure Charlie wants a roommate in his small apartment...even if I'm over there a lot. I'm probably too late for student housing, but maybe I could find some sort of studio and furnish it with stuff from here. By the way, is there anything you're going to want?"
"No, I think I want a clean break. About the only things we have here are love and memories. Most of the furniture probably isn't worthy of a Salvation Army pickup."
"Guess it's shit or get off the pot time. Why don't I write a 30-day lease termination letter with the rent check and we can be outta here at the end of August? I'm sure the landlord will be happy to see us gone so he can jack up the rent on this place." Jeremy smiled wistfully as his mind raced ahead with the tasks at hand: find a new place, move out and get set up before the fall semester began.
"Oh, sweetie, this will work...for both of us. Thanks for being so understanding." Naomi got up, went over to the couch and hugged Jeremy.
"I feel the same way. And I like your addition to the family. Jeez, a doctor and a nurse in the family must mean some sort of medical discounts."
"At least we don't have be concerned about you and Charlie racking up maternity bills," she said with a laugh.
"We've both grown up. I'm so proud of you." Jeremy looked into his sister's eyes and squeezed her hands.
"That goes both ways. I'm just as happy that Charlie is part of the big picture."
"He feels the same way. Sis, why don't we call it a night? I'm tired and will be very busy tomorrow." 'It's too late to call Charlie tonight,' he decided. 'Gotta call him first thing in the morning and see if he has any ideas about where I should look for a place.'
"Okay. Make some extra coffee tomorrow morning. I'll get up early and start figuring out what I'm going to take with me."
Brother and sister got up from the couch and quietly went to their respective bedrooms. Jeremy got undressed, opened the window and crashed immediately on top of the bed. He was still sorting out priorities as he drifted off to sleep.
TO BE CONTINUED