I let myself into the house. It was dark and silent and even before I shut the door behind me I knew it was empty. Or nearly so - the dogs greeted me warmly. But no Keith.
He was gone.
I checked for a note, hoping maybe he'd just slipped out, but there was nothing.
Had I been mistaken in his feelings then? Or had something come up? Had he checked with his service and received an emergency call from a client? I knew Keith claimed he didn't work weekends but I knew him well enough now to know he wouldn't turn away a sick or wounded animal.
I wanted it to be that. I wanted it to be okay between us. But I was suddenly scared that it had been too much too fast. The phone rang. I grabbed the portable off the coffee table before it rang again.
"Hello?" a female voice, hesitant. "Is Keith there? Keith Anderson?"
"No, he's not. Who's this, please?"
"I'm Keith's mother. Becky - Rebecca Anderson. Is this Todd?"
I slid onto the couch. "Yes, it is. What --" "Keith called us earlier today. I'm sorry for being so forward but he told us about you. About how you met and... I wanted to talk with you."
I found myself staring at Sleuth as he crossed the room and fell down at my feet, resting his long nose on my bare feet. Keith's mother sounded pleasant enough. Curious, but not at all judgmental given that she was talking to a total stranger who had slept with her son. It would be easy to open up to that voice. I steeled myself not to give away anything. It wasn't my place to tell these strangers about my relationship with their son.
"You're probably wondering why I called," Rebecca said. "But Keith sounded so happy on the phone, I just had to - I'm sorry, this probably isn't making any sense to you."
"Keith isn't here right now --"
"It was you we wanted to talk to." We? I heard a second voice in the background, a man's voice. Then Rebecca came back on sounding slightly breathless.
"My husband, Martin, would like to talk to you."
"Afternoon, Todd, is it?" The voice on the other end of the line had the raspy quality of a long time smoker. "Martin Anderson here. I suppose you're wondering what the hell this is all about."
I heard Rebecca's voice in the background. "Marty, don't scare the poor boy."
Poor boy? What was with these people?
"I'm not scaring him, Becky," Martin's voice boomed over the phone. "I'm not out to intimidate anyone, Todd. Least of all someone who's special to my son. But, I do want to know a little more about you, if that's okay by you, Todd."
"Er, yeah, I guess so."
"Keith tells me you work at a hotel. Front desk clerk?"
"Ah, management. Any plans to move up to manager? What was the name of the hotel again?"
I hadn't told him the name, I did now.
"Hilltop Inn? Not one of the big chains then," Martin sounded disappointed and I bristled. Who was he to put down my work place? "Ever consider working for one of the big places? Marriott? Ramada Inn? I know some people --"
"Thanks, Mr. Anderson, but I've got a good job where I am. It's a great learning experience and I like what I do."
"Nothing wrong with that," Martin said, his voice full of good humor. "Good people, are they?"
"The best. Listen I have to --"
"Keith thinks highly of you. He seems to think you could go far. I like to see that in a man. Ambition."
Suddenly it dawned on me what was going on here. I couldn't believe it; Keith's father was concerned about what my intentions were toward his son. I would have laughed if it hadn't been so weird. At the same time I found I envied Keith. Most men in Martin's place would be angry at what the world had tossed them or at least embarrassed by their son's choices. This guy genuinely sounded like all he cared about was his son's happiness. How rare was that?
"Listen, Mr. Anderson, I appreciate your concern," I said, my grip on the phone tightening. "I don't know how much Keith told you, but I love your son very much. Anything I do from now on is going to be done with both of us in mind. Truth is, I've always entertained the idea of running my own place someday. A bed and breakfast. Now that Keith is in my life I like the idea even more."
"Bed and breakfast, eh? Nobody ever got rich doing that," Martin said. "But how would Keith's practice fit in to that? You wouldn't expect him to give that up would you? He loves his job. It'd kill him to lose it."
"I wouldn't ask him to. I know what it means to him."
"You know," Martin's voice was softer. "I always hoped Keith would meet someone who could love him like I love his mother. We met back in seventy-three, just out of high school and I fell in love with her in the first five minutes. Asked her to marry me ten days later and darned if she didn't say yes."
"That's really interesting, Mr. Anderson, but --"
"Since then we've been happy, but it always worried me that Keith would never know that kind of joy. Now that I've had a chance to talk to you, I can rest easy. You be good to my boy, Todd."
"Oh, I will, Mr. Anderson."
"And for God's sake, call me Martin."
The front door opened to a volley of barking from the dogs. I could hear Martin shouting something but couldn't make out the words.
It was Keith, carrying an armful of grocery bags. He came over and kissed me on the mouth.
"Hi, babe. Been home long?"
"No - uh, yes, Mr. Anderson, er, Martin. Actually Keith just walked in. Do you want to talk to him?"
Keith stared at the phone in my hand then up at my face as though I was joking.
"You serious? My father?"
"And mother. Here, you ask."
I got up and grabbed the groceries, taking them into the kitchen where I dumped them on the counter and began to sort through the bags.
Salmon, watercress, new potatoes, a bottle of California red. I heard Keith move around the living room. Minutes later he entered the kitchen and began to remove the salmon from its package.
"Sorry about that. If I'd know they would do that I never would have called them."
"Hey they just care about you --"
"It was still rude. I --"
I grinned. "Actually I thought it was kind of cute. I've never had anyone ask me my intentions toward someone before."
Keith groaned. "I swear I --"
"I want to marry you and in twenty-eight years tell anyone who will listen that it was love at first sight when I met you. How's that for intentions? Honorable enough?"
He grabbed me and pulled me against him. His mouth assaulted mine in a kiss that left us both gasping. He rubbed my cheek with his.
"Dad really likes you. He thinks you sound 'sincere', whatever the hell that means. Mom just thinks you sound wonderful. They want to meet you."
"Sure, I'd like to meet them..." I was being glib and Keith grinned. "You mean, now?"
"They want to come out next month. Dad asked if you could book them into 'your' hotel. He wants to check out that you're not running some sleazy rent by the hour place."
"I told him you made sure everyone rented for at least the night, but you only changed the sheets once a week and they had to bring their own rent boy --"
"You are so dead." I reached for him but he was faster and pinned my arms at my side. He took advantage of my predicament to tickle me and rub his swollen cock against my stomach.
Shadow came in to the kitchen barking and jumping excitedly. Sleuth hung back, shyer around strangers.
Keith grabbed my hands and clapped them over his butt. He growled against my throat. "Keep him from biting my tush. I have plans for that later on and they don't include getting teeth marks - well, unless they're yours."
With my hands on his ass I was able to drag him forward, grinding into him and moaning his name. My hands got real busy real fast.
"What about dinner? I though I was cooking for you," Keith sighed against the skin of my neck.
"Oh baby, you are cooking. We'll just get to the food later." I pulled away from him long enough to tell the dogs to go to their crates, then I dragged him to the bedroom. My hands shook as I shed my clothes and watched him dump his. When that incredible cock came into view I started shaking all over.
"When I came home and you were gone I thought for sure you had changed your mind about us." I pushed him back across the bed and fell beside him, my hands already roaming the moist skin of his body. Tasting him. Glorying in the feel of hot, sweat-slicked skin under my lips and tongue. "I felt the most indescribable pain - like I'd lost something more important to me than life. Then when your Dad called and I realized you had told him about us, I couldn't believe it. I thought he was nuts. Then I realized how very much they love you and I felt jealous. And afraid. How the hell could I measure up to that kind of love?" I shook my head, my mouth traveling down his hard, muscled body. "I felt like a fraud, like I didn't deserve you, so maybe it would be better if you did leave."
"I could never leave you --"
"Good." I spread his legs and opened him up to my admiring view. His massive cock head lay across his stomach, oozing creamy pre-cum and his round, egg sized balls nestled above that beautiful pink puckered hole I intend to fuck very shortly. I licked the wetness from the slit at the top of that purple helmet.
"Todd, oh, baby..." Keith moaned. His hands clamped over my head and guided me to his cock. "Please. Suck it. Suck my cock, baby. Fuck, yessss!"
I wrapped my lips around the moist head and got over nearly eight inches down my throat his time before I couldn't handle anymore. His hips came off the bed. He rolled his head from side to side, thrashing on the blankets, his pelvis grinding into my face.
"Not so fast," I gasped dragging my mouth off his cock. I reached for the lube and a condom, and Keith whimpered. "Your ass is mine tonight."
Before I opened the condom package I knelt down and took one of his balls in my mouth. I rolled the mass around with my tongue, then gave the second one the same treatment. Keith muttered and flexed his hips.
I moved down. My tongue darted out and pushed between the cheeks of his ass. This time Keith gave a strangled cry as I stroked his hole with my stiff tongue.
I fucked him with my tongue, probing and pressing until he was writhing under me and I knew he was seconds away from exploding. I arched away from him, ripping open the condom pack and unrolling it over my bulging cock. Slathering my fingers with lube I explored Keith's damp hole, then lathered my cock with more lube. I eased the cock head in, past the ring of muscle, pausing long enough to let his body adjust to me. Then I sank into him and began to pump. In and out, keeping the tempo easy, determined to prolong the pleasure for both of us.
I leaned down and shoved my tongue in his mouth. Roughly probing past his lips and trying to fuck his tonsils. He grabbed my head and arched against me, engulfing my cock with his ass. The rhythm increased, driving us both closer to the edge. He bucked under me, and I could feel his orgasm starting. His balls tightened and his hips surged up and his ass clamped down on me so hard I nearly screamed at the sensation. His cock jerked between our squirming bodies and hot jism exploded out of him, a torrent of cum that covered us as our bodies jittered and jived in an ongoing rush of pleasure.
I wasn't far behind him. My own cock spasmed and throbbed in release. I cried out his name again and again as my body drained into the condom.
"Someday," I whispered against his mouth. "I'm going to do that without a condom."
He sucked on my lower lip. "I'm clean. What about you?"
"Last time I was tested, sure." I rolled over to lay beside him, pulling the condom off and wrapping it in a tissue. "We should get tested again then we'd know for sure."
He ran his fingers over my sticky belly. "You hungry?"
Suddenly my stomach growled. We both burst out laughing. "Guess that answers that." Keith tugged at my hand. "Come on, let's grab a shower then I'll feed you."
Keith proved to be an excellent cook. He grilled the salmon steaks on my barbecue, tossed the watercress with a light vinaigrette dressing and boiled the new potatoes. He served them with butter and tzatziki sauce.
I uncorked the wine as he brought the plates to the table. I had dug up a pair of tapered candles and pewter holders and set them on the table. Setting Miles Davis on low I raised my wine glass in salute.
"To good food, fine wine and the greatest guy a man could ever know," I said. "Here's to the next twenty years."
"To twenty years."
There were tears in his eyes and I hastily put my glass down. "You okay?"
"Never better." He blinked away the wetness. "Just happy. Not sure what I did to deserve this all of a sudden."
"I know what you mean. I keep thinking there has to be some mistake and I'll wake up and it's all been a pleasant dream. Nothing more."
"You okay meeting my parents like this? I mean, it's kind of early in the game. And I know Dad can be a bit overwhelming at times..."
"I'm looking forward to it." It was only a partial lie. I was nervous, but I did want to meet them. I grinned. "Think they'll come armed with baby pictures? Cute little pix of little naked Keith lying on a fur rug?"
"If they haven't burned those things by now I'll make sure they get buried so deep they never see the light of day."
I laughed, glad to see his humor restored. After clearing the dishes off the table and loading up the dishwasher, I came back to the dining room where Keith was still drinking his wine.
I slipped up behind him and slid my arms around his shoulders.
"Feeling up for another walk? I like to take the dogs for a long evening run when I'm on days."
"Sure. Same place?"
I nodded and went to retrieve the dogs' leads. Both animals were instantly at the front door, eyes bright with anticipation.
At the park we moved away from the more traveled areas and unleashed the dogs who took off after an over confident squirrel. After treeing the indignant animal the two dogs decided it was more fun to chase each other. Soon they were a black and rust streaked blur amidst the tree groves.
I didn't realize how close Keith and I were until a couple walked past us on the dirt path and I caught the tail end of a disgusted glare from the guy. I glanced at Keith but he didn't seem to have noticed. He nudged me with his elbow and pointed at Shadow who was barking frantically at Sleuth, demanding he run faster. Sleuth obliged and the race was on again.
"Yeah, Shadow's the bossy one. Always has been."
Ignoring everyone around us, Keith slipped his hand around my waist. I wasn't used to being so out there and wasn't sure I appreciated the stares we were getting.
"It doesn't bother you, getting dirty looks?" I asked.
"Normally I don't advertise," he said, obviously considering the question carefully. "But then I've never felt like this for anyone before, either. It's like I'm so happy it just boils over and I can't keep it to myself. Does that make sense?"
"Yeah, it does. I guess I've just gotten a little more sensitive to the anger - I mean I still think of poor Matthew Sheperd and get scared. What if someone decided I should be eliminated because I don't conform?"
Keith shivered and hugged himself. "I know what you mean. It is scary. But I won't live my life run by fear. I can't." He turned toward me, close enough that are bodies touched. "I won't pretend I'm something I'm not. I won't deny who I am either."
Shadow and Sleuth raced by us, the simple joy of running free radiating off their panting bodies. We watched them gallop off again. They weren't troubled by what others thought of them. Dogs didn't go in for judging others. Why were people so obsessed with labeling everybody and trying to fit them into boxes?
"Come on," I said. "Let's round these two clowns up and go home."
"Whatever you say, boss."
Over the next couple of weeks Keith basically moved in with me. There was never any formal announcement, but every time he went back to his old place, he seemed to return with more of his stuff. Not that there was much, the place had come furnished, and he hadn't bothered adding much to it. He had his clothes and a few personal affects.
Finally he talked about subletting the place. "I could use the money toward the business. I know I couldn't get much for it, but every penny helps right now."
I agreed and he called to put an ad in the paper. As we integrated our lives there were other changes too. We switched from an answering machine to a full service that would handle both our calls, and Keith got himself a cell phone and a pager.
"Hey I'm finally entering the twenty-first century."
"Yeah," I muttered, eying the tiny phone nestled in the palm of his hand beside the even smaller pager. "Just don't bring them to bed with you. In this or any other century."
He laughed and clipped both devices to his belt. It really was something he needed. His business was picking up, referrals from happy customers impressed with his skill and his soft touch - and maybe a few impressed with his dark good looks - and word of mouth through the gay community that finally one of their own had arrived.
I was happy for him, but a little bit jealous, too. I knew a lot of hunks were now bringing their dogs and cats to see the 'gay vet'. What if one of them proved to be too much of a temptation for Keith? I surprised myself - I hadn't thought I was the jealous type. It had never bothered me before if the man I slept with fucked someone else. Just like I never thought much about my own fidelity. Now I found myself wanting to be faithful. When I mentioned some of that to Keith he laughed.
"I don't even look at the clients," he said. "Their pets get all my attention I'm afraid. If they're angling for attention they're in the wrong place. The only man who interests me is already in my bed."
It was less than two weeks before Keith's folks came out. I'd already booked a suite for them, making sure I got them one of the best rooms our hotel had to offer. I wanted to make a good impression on them. We planned on having them to our place for dinner the first night, then we'd take them into the city to sample some of the finer restaurants the Bay Area had to offer the rest of the time. It was their first time to the west coast. Keith wanted to make the most of it.
"They don't take holidays often enough. Between the two of them they spent so long pinching pennies they've sometimes forgotten how to spend. I keep telling them they're young, they need to enjoy life now while they can."
Keith intended to make sure they enjoyed every minute of their stay.
"We'll make it special," I said. "They go away with so many memories it'll take 'em months to sort them out." We were lying in bed, enjoying a quiet evening at home, something that seemed to happen with regrettable infrequency. I was working long hours, since the summer was our busy time and Keith's hours was taken up with all those new clients. His surgeries had expanded and now it was a rare night he made it home before eight. More than once he had stayed at the clinic until after ten o'clock, tending to emergencies.
"Speaking of holidays." I walked my hand up his chest, playing with the light dusting of hair on his pecs, pinching one of his nipples into erectness. "We should plan something for the fall. I can get away for a week after September. What about you?"
"I can get Ahmed to cover things." Dr. Ahmed Alzhar was a floating vet who covered for vets around the city when they needed time off. "Let's check our calendars tomorrow and see what's a good time."
"Where would you want to go? Las Vegas? Santa Barbara? Vail?"
"Too early for skiing, and I'm not much of a gambler. Santa Barbara sounds nice. Or Carmel?"
"I'll see what I can swing as far as a room goes --"
The phone rang.
"It's your turn." I reluctantly stilled my wandering hand. I hoped it wasn't some veterinary emergency. I was primed for this night to end with a wild raunchy fuck. No way I wanted to spend it alone.
Keith picked the phone up. "Dr. Anderson here --"
His face went white and he swayed on the bed. I grabbed him before he could drop the phone or fall over.
"What is it? Keith? What --"
His mouth was open and he was hyperventilating. I saw tears spring up in his eyes.
"When? Oh God, when? How --"
"Keith! Baby, what is it. Tell me --"
With horrendous effort he turned his glassy stare on me. The phone dropped unnoticed to the bed between us.
"My parents... car," he gulped and the tears came in torrents. "Car accident. They're dead. Oh, Todd, they're both dead."
[More to come]
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