Last December I wrote and posted an original story, One Night in December. It was supposed to be a stand-alone short story. It was my first attempt at writing. The response to that story was so gratifying that I gave in to the requests of the readers and promised I would continue the story. That is what you find here: the first of a seven part story chronicling the events following that one night in December.

The following is fiction. Although some of the events depicted are based on actual happenings they are only incidental to the story and do not constitute a basis in reality.

The story is copyright, the reader may download a copy for his/her own use, but republishing or archiving on other websites or newsgroups without the author's permission is strictly prohibited. All rights are reserved.

The following story contains references to men having strong emotional and physical feelings for members of their own sex. You shouldn't read it if you're below the age of consent in your community or if said community doesn't allow you to access such material.

The author would like to thank Drew Hunt for his inspiration in the writing of this story. Without his love, friendship and editorial help the author would never have had the courage to even try to write a story such as this. Thanks go to Tim Mead as well. His editorial help and encouragement have been invaluable. T. O'Reilly 7/4/06.

Email me at terryo76@hotmail.com



One Night In December

The First Year

"I have an idea. Let's decorate our home for Christmas," I said.

Andy kissed me. It was one of those long, gentle kisses that said so much about how someone felt about you. Yes, there was underlying passion, but on the surface it just said how good it was to be with someone you loved. We had yet to say those words out loud but we were saying them nonetheless. At least I was.

Andy stepped back, took both my hands in his, and looked down at the floor. He stood that way for a long time. Then he slowly raised his head. His incredible blue eyes were locked directly into mine. He squeezed my hands.

"David, you're sure?"

"Sure? Sure I'm sure. I haven't decorated in years and I just know that now is the time to . . ."

"No," he interrupted my exuberant babbling.

"No? What do you mean, no? You know, `Haul out the holly. Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.'" I began singing.

He laughed. He had a wonderful laugh. I could have listened to it all night.

"I mean are you sure that you want to call this `our home?' David, we have only known each other for a day. Actually less than twenty-four hours."

"I know that!" I snapped. "I mean. . . " I was aware that my response had been much stronger than warranted. "I mean I understand that this has all happened so quickly." `Too quickly?' I wondered to myself.

Andy smiled. I was relieved that my sudden, over the top response, hadn't done any damage.

"I just don't want you to get down the road a ways only to regret that you made some statements that would make it hard for you to change some decisions these statements may have implied." Was Andy nervous?

"Andy," I said pulling him into an embrace. "I doubt very much that I will change my mind about what I just said. But, if it makes you more comfortable, let's decorate `the house' for Christmas."

"Thank you, David. This just seems like a dream right now and I don't want to wake up and find it was just that. . . a dream."

This time I kissed him. "Deal, now, get a coat out of the closet and follow me."

"Where are we going?"

"Out to the shed to get Claudia"

"Claudia?"

"Yes, Claudia. Our Christmas Tree."

Andy gave me a wide eyed `oh what have I gotten myself into' look, got a coat and followed me out of the house.

As we slipped and slid over the frozen ground to the shed, with the dogs frolicking around us, I explained that Claudia was an artificial Christmas tree whom the kids had named many years before. We had always had artificial trees because when Patti and I had lived in married student housing we were not allowed to have live trees. So, we bought a fake tree at Woolworth's in Arborland that vaguely resembled a six-foot, green, many-armed bottlebrush. We named him Chris. As the years passed we tried a live tree but the kids insisted that only Chris would do. When he got to the age when he could no longer hold up his branches, we replaced him with Claudia, an expensive, blue spruce from Bronner's Christmas store in Frankenmuth.

By the time I was done with my story we had carried all three parts of Claudia into the family room. While I assembled her I sent Andy downstairs to retrieve the ornaments. We spent a wonderful evening decorating the tree while listening to Christmas carol CDs.

After dinner, cooked again by Andy, the new master chef, we sat on the couch and enjoyed our efforts. Andy looked at me.

"You okay, David?"

This was the first time that I had decorated since Patti had passed away. Was I okay?

I looked at him. "Yes, I am." I said it and I meant it.

(((((O)))))

"She looks beautiful," Andy said.

I smiled. He had picked up quickly on the humanization of our family tree.

"So do you." I said as I pulled him to me.

The next thing I knew we were on the floor in front of the tree. His lips and tongue sought mine. We ran our hands over each other's bodies, exploring, discovering, yielding, surrendering. I slipped the U of M sweatshirt off over his head. He lay there looking up at me. I studied his chest, arms, abdomen. A light covering of red hair met my gaze. It led down to the waistband of the sweat pants. He raised his hips and I slid them off. A beautiful, uncut cock rose from a nest of auburn hair, his manhood curving slightly to the left. My own response was instantaneous and intense.

I bent my head to engulf this offering of beauty when he stopped me. I looked up.

"What. . . " I began.

He stopped me with his fingers on my lips.

"I. . . I've never done this before. I don't know what to do."

He blushed. He got up and sat cross-legged before me.

I rocked back on my knees. He looked so irresistible and so innocent at the same time.

I said, "But, I thought . . . you said... the vet that Julie caught you with."

"We never got that far."

"Oh?" I thought for a minute. "Well, let's have you take the lead."

I lay down on my back next to him.

He stayed where he was for a while. Then he laid his naked body next to mine. He kissed me. Over and over he kissed me. Then he took my tee shirt off, followed by unzipping my jeans, sliding them and my boxers off. He knelt before me taking in my now naked body. His penis rose above my scrotum. A drop of pre-cum formed at the tip and then descended slowly. As the thread of natural lubricant reached my balls I shuddered and moaned softly.

As if this were a cue he stretched out on top of me, kissing me more and more passionately, grinding his hips into me, our penises pressed tightly against each other. Just when I thought we were both going to reach our peak he sat up. We looked deeply into each other's eyes. He raised my legs and placed them on his shoulders.

I couldn't believe this was going to happen. It had been so long. I was usually the top. Yet, I wanted this more than I had wanted anything in my life.

"Andy," was all I could manage.

He smiled and began to rub pre cum over his now exposed head. Then with one swift movement he entered me. No preparation, no waiting for me to adjust to the invasion. All the way in to where I could feel his pubic hair against my testicles. I stifled a cry of pain. I gasped out his name again, hoping that it did not convey the discomfort I felt at his inexperience.

Apparently he didn't suspect that he had taken me by surprise but began to slowly and deeply undulate, penetrating deeper and deeper. I endured the pain until it began to turn to pleasure. I relaxed, allowing our union to move from physical to emotional, and then to spiritual.

"Andy, Andy," I moaned as he bent and tongued my nipples and chest. Then he kissed me as deeply as I had ever experienced. And then he came. He moaned my name into my mouth and collapsed onto me. He was breathing heavily and running his hands up and down my sides. Then he raised up. His breath coming more easily. Tears were in his eyes.

"David," he half sobbed, "I love you."


(((((O)))))

I woke up the next morning in a tangle of arms, legs and dogs. Sometime during the night I must have gotten up and covered us with the polar fleece TV throws, and provided us with throw pillows from the couches. Snatches of last night came back to me. The incredible love making, Andy's declaration of love and his request that I teach him all that there was to know about man to man loving so that he could pleasure me in every way possible. He was contrite that I had not had the opportunity to climax myself. I told him that I was more than satisfied. In fact, I enjoyed that I was still sexually aroused and relished that sexual tension. He said that he knew that some day soon it would be my turn. I took him at his word and we'd drifted off to a peaceful sleep.

Now, I lay in the early morning light and the glow of Claudia, rejoicing in the fact that I had this man in my life and that he loved me and I him. I certainly would take him up on his request that I teach him all that I knew. I could hardly wait.

The dogs must have sensed that I was awake because they rose and I was treated to a barrage of doggy kisses. I got up and walked with them to the sliding door in the dining room and they were off to take care of their needs. I then went into the kitchen and filled their bowls. I took my morning meds and vitamins. The dogs were ready to come in. They ran immediately to their food dishes and devoured their breakfast.

As I returned to the family room I saw that Andy was awake and had his eyes fixed on my nakedness. I was semi hard, my penis swaying back and forth as I walked to our makeshift bed. I blushed as I saw his eyes hone in on my tumescence. He smiled and raised his arms to me. I sank into his embrace.

"I'm ready for my first lesson if you are?" he said. He pulled the cover back and I once again beheld his magnificent manhood, standing proudly amidst his nest of red pubic hair.

"At your command my liege."

I took his face in my hands and started to kiss him. He responded by opening his mouth and allowing me to enter with my surrogate penis. As our passions mounted I prepared to make my way down his body with my mouth and tongue to claim as my own his engorged cock. The phone rang.

`Shit! I'll just ignore it,' I thought.

"Dad, pick-up," came the voice on the answering machine. "This is Meg."

"I better get that." I said reluctantly. "It's my daughter."

As I got up, the dogs quickly took my place at Andy's side. I left with a glance over my shoulder to see him burying his face in Annie's soft fur. I was envious. I made my way to the kitchen extension with my protuberant manhood pointing the way.

"Hi Meg."

"Oh, good you're okay"

"Why shouldn't I be?" I asked.

"Well, the ice storm and all. I would have called yesterday but our electricity was out. Our phones are remotes and they don't work when the electricity is out."

"I told you and Sean to get cell phones," I chided.

"Christmas is coming, Santa," she rejoined with that delightful laugh I had loved for years.

"Other than checking up on the old man, what did you want?"

"First tell me what you did with your day off. I bet you slept all day."

I smiled. My day off had been very eventful to say the least but it was not something I was going to share with my youngest child. No way.

"Well, we decorated Claudia."

"We?"

"Uh, yeah, the dogs and I," I hoped I had covered my mistake.

"Oh, Daddy," she cried, reverting to her childhood name for me.

"How wonderful. What made you decide to do that? Oh, I am so happy."

"I'm glad that makes you happy, Moo" following suit by calling her the nickname that she wore as a kid. "I guess I just decided I needed to move on with my life."

With that statement I looked through the pass through from the kitchen to the dining room and on into the family room, and saw the object of my moving on. He was still stroking the dogs, lying on his back with his dick pointing the way to his naval. My own dick twitched at the site.

I tuned back into what Meg was saying. "This is so cool, "Cuz it's also why I called. I've made some tentative plans for Christmas and I want to bounce `em off you."

"Shoot."

"Okay, now I think maybe Mike and John should stay with you as they aren't as used to kids and may want time to themselves. I thought Peter and Angie could stay with us and that way the cousins could play and get to know each other."

She had taken Patti's place as family social chairman. She was so much like her mother. I was smiling paternally to myself when suddenly the impact of what she was saying hit me. My eyes widened and my jaw dropped. My gazed zoomed in on Andy!

`Oh my God!' I thought.

Audibly I let out a gasp.

"Dad? Is something wrong?"

"No, no," I stammered. "Uh, all that sounds great. Just give me a minute to think about it and I'll call you back."

I don't really remember the rest of the conversation. I was only aware that I had a man in my house. That I was sleeping with him. That I intended to make him my life partner and that my kids, other than Mike, had no idea that I was gay.

I returned to the family room.

Andy saw my face.

"Something's wrong," he said warily. "Is there a problem?"

"Yep," I replied sinking to my knees and taking him in my arms.

"What is it??"

"You!"

(((((O)))))

We lay there for a few minutes.

He said, with his head against my chest, "What did she say?"

I filled him in on the gist of the conversation.

"So, the problem is that I have to find a way to explain. . . .to introduce . . . . . . to let them know. . . " I was fumbling all over the place.

"Maybe I should just leave?" This he said with something akin to fear in his voice.

"Hell No!"

Once again, as was my custom, I over reacted when I didn't like a situation.

Softening my voice and holding him closer I said, "There is a way to work this out. I just have to find it."

Andy was quiet for a while. Then he said, "Your son Mike is gay. Does he know about you?"

"Yes he does. And?" I asked, encouraging him to go on.

"Well, maybe he has something to suggest about this situation that might help."

"Thank you!"

I kissed him and started to get up to call Mike. I stopped.

"I hope you don't mind waiting a bit for those lessons you requested," I said. "You still want them don't you?"

"Ubetchim, Red Ryder!"

"Ubetchim, Little Beaver." I laughed.

We pulled on our sweat pants and went to the phone in the kitchen. I punched Mike's number on the speed dial. After two rings there was an answer.

"Hello"

"Hello John," I said to my son's partner. "How are you?"

We talked for a few minutes about this and that. All the while my heart was beating faster and faster. I was anxious to get to the nub of my call. Andy sat nearby looking at me expectantly.

Finally, John said, "I'll get Mike for you. Nice talking to you, Dad."

Mike came on the line. "Hi father of mine, what's goin' on?"

Again we talked for a bit about the up coming holiday and the arrangements Meg was making. After a bit I said, "Mike, I have something important to discuss with you and I need some advice."

Mike was silent, waiting. He always was a good listener and problem solver. That's what made him so good at his job. He was a marketing and sales director for a major insurance company in Boston.

"Mike," I took a deep breath, looked at Andy, who nodded encouragingly, "I have met someone."

"Dad, that's great! I was saying to John just the other day that I hoped you would be able to let go and move forward soon. Tell me about him!"

`Tell me about him?' My brain froze. `How did he know?'

"Uh, how do you know it's a him?"

"Come on Dad, I know that you loved Mom very deeply, but I also saw how you looked at John and me when we were home. I figured when the time came for the second chance at love you would fulfill that desire."

At first I didn't know how to react to these words. He was right. But, at the same time I felt slightly guilty that my need for male love had shone through despite my love for Patti and the family.

"So, you want to know how to introduce him to the family?"

Mike was so perceptive. "Yes, how am I going to go about that? You're the only one who knows I'm . . . gay." I still had trouble saying it to my son.

"Well," Mike started to formulate a plan. "We should plan a meeting for the siblings. I don't think the spouses should be there just yet. I don't think . . . ah what's his name?"

"Andy. Andrew Barnes." Andy raised his head and smiled.

"Nice. I don't think Andy should be there either."

Mike went on to outline what he had in mind. I nodded, grunted and asked a few questions. I was pleased that Andy had thought of this resource. I couldn't have handled this with the emotions I was feeling: the need for it to be all right with everyone, the fear that it wouldn't be.

"Thanks, Mike, so much. I'm so glad that I have you to help with this."

"Not a problem. I'll wait to hear from you then about when the meeting will be. I love you, Dad. Give Andy a hug for me and tell him we're anxious to meet him."

My eyes filled with tears. `Oh, Mikey,' I thought, `My little guy had grown to be a friend as well as a son.'

"I love you, too. I promise to give Andy that hug." Andy smiled and gave me the thumbs up. "Give John one for . . . us, too"

I hung up the phone, and smiled at Andy. "Here's the plan."

(((((O)))))

As we worked out in the exercise room, and later while fixing breakfast I filled Andy in on the strategy that Mike had outlined. I have to admit that I was highly distracted from time to time by the sight of my new lover's body in action. I'd been right. He had taken care of himself prior to his decline into homelessness. He knew how to lift and had good technique besides his other, exciting attributes.

The plan was that I would have the kids over a couple of evenings prior to Christmas Eve. It would be just the siblings, not their spouses or children. John would take Andy out for the evening. If things went well, Mike would call them and they could come back and I would introduce Andy. I felt my stomach tighten just thinking about it.

Mike had assured me that it wasn't as dire a situation as I'd feared. First of all Kathy knew that I was gay. Mike and Kathy had been very close growing up. She had been the one to encourage him to come out to us. So, after he had done so he told her about me but asked her not to say anything as per my request.

`Well, one more on my side,' I thought sardonically.

Meg would have more of a reaction, Mike had said. It's hard for kids to see their parents as sexual beings let alone homosexual. He'd had a bit of a struggle with it when I'd told him even though he was relieved that I had insight into his world. However, Meg was like her mother. She always wanted everyone to be happy and comfortable. She would understand but might need time to process the idea.

Peter on the other hand would be a different story. When Mike had come out to the family Peter had a personal crisis. He was afraid that if Mike was gay, he would be, too. Mike reported that Peter had felt some attraction to men. He panicked at first but he talked it through with Mike and had come to a degree of comfort. Mike was not sure where he was with this at the moment. I silently prayed he wasn't in the situation I'd been in with Patti. It'd been just too hard.

When I'd finished explaining, I took a last swallow of decaf and asked, "What do you think?"

He was quiet for a long time. I was beginning to see that this was a pattern. He took his time before responding.

"You know your kids better than I do. If you think this is the best plan then I'm all for it."

I sensed something more was coming.

"David, you're taking such a chance with this. I don't want you to lose your family over me. Maybe it would be better if I. . ."

Stifling my over the top response, I went and knelt in front of him. Taking his face in both of my hands, I kissed him gently on the forehead, chin, each cheek and then his lips.

"Hell no." I whispered. "By the way, you stink! Let's hop in the shower."

"Together?"

"Yes, together. It's time for your first lesson."

(((((O)))))

We watched each other slip out of sweat pants, socks and exercise shorts. We weren't going to rush this moment. I turned to adjust the shower. As I did he pressed his body against my back. I could feel him getting firmer as he pressed himself between my gluteus muscles. He kissed the back of my neck and ran his hands over my chest, abdomen and genitals. I was in heaven. I stepped under the warm spray and pulled him to me. Our chests met, as did our throbbing penises. Kisses were deep and long.

We broke apart and I handed him the soap. Slowly, sensuously, he lathered my body, every crack and crevice, every joint and muscle. I took the soap from him and repeated the procedure. We held each other slowly, turning to allow the soap to be rinsed down the drain.

I looked him straight in the eye then eased my way down his body. When I reached his nipples he almost screamed. The moan of pleasure was so loud that I was sure the neighbors could hear. I had discovered one of his favorite erogenous zones. The information was filed away for future reference. I continued my descent until I was entangled in his pubic hair. I stayed there for several minutes enjoying the feel, smell and taste of his luxuriant bush. Then I leaned back. I studied his manhood waving proudly before me. I looked up. He was watching, a look of expectant ecstasy on his face.

I pulled his foreskin all the way back and slowly slid my mouth over the glans and down the shaft. I took in every contour, each vein. I could feel his heart beat in the throbbing of his organ. I started a slow undulation with my lips and mouth. He matched this with his hips. Too soon his body tensed and he growled. My mouth was filled with his man seed. I swallowed like a man dying of thirst. I had tasted him and knew I would never get enough.

He pulled me to my feet, kissed me and tasted his cum for the first time. It seemed to invigorate him. He kissed harder and deeper.

"Now it's time to see how good a student I've been, Mr. Bennett."

He imitated my actions to a tee. He spent extra time on my navel and between my legs and scrotum. He sighed deeply and called my name. He then hesitantly took my penis in his mouth. A little too lightly at first but that was probably good, because with the stimulation I had had last night and this morning, I was more than ready to let loose and release the pressure that was there. With a bit of subtle encouragement from my hips he soon had things going just right. I felt that wonderful tightness in the head, then the feeling that something was squeezing my balls. I knew I was seconds away.

"You don't have too take. . . "

That was as far as I got. At my words he increased his stroke and pressure and swallowed me to the base. He gagged and then began ingesting what I had begun to offer him. Soon he stood and shared my produce with me.

"How'd I do, Teach?"

"A+."

Well, maybe it was more an A-, but he was good, so good. I wanted to encourage him all I could.

(((((O)))))

That night in bed and in the days that followed, the lessons continued. He soon was easily coming to orgasm twice and even three times. At my age I was happy that I could still manage it easily once a day. Sometimes he could coax a second coming (no pun intended) out of me. I still hadn't gotten `my turn' but I was beginning to enjoy the subordinate position as much as I had enjoyed the top. So it wasn't too great a sacrifice. I didn't want to rush him. I decided if it never happened that was okay with me. Besides he was becoming a real savant at oral sex and he pleasured me no end with that alone. Often we would climax with our penises trapped between our abdomens. And that was good, too. It was good that we had the thrill of new love to distract us because as the days counted down to `The Meeting' I became increasingly uneasy. But once we were in bed, or on the floor in front of Claudia, nothing else seemed to matter.

We accomplished other things as well. We went shopping and despite his protests I got him started on his own wardrobe not that he couldn't wear anything he wanted of mine. We were almost the same size or soon would be when he got some meat on those bones.

We did Christmas shopping for the family. He talked me out of having both our names put on the Christmas tags when we splurged and had the presents wrapped. He was right of course. I was just trying to put the best spin on things I could but if it backfired I would have felt terrible.

I took him to school. Showed him my room, the gym, the pool, the weight room.
We did a work out there and had a skinny dip in the pool after. I assured him we were alone but just to be on the safe side we stuck strictly to swimming. We took care of the arousal that the swim had created later.

Several times during our travels we went under his bridge or came off the highway by the exit ramp where we had first met. He looked out on these scenes. Once I caught a tear running down his cheek.

"Hey, if you miss your old stomping grounds?"

He punched me in the ribs, then scooted over, put his arms around my neck and kissed me at the stoplight.

Finally the day of reckoning arrived. We were both very quiet during our morning work out, shower and breakfast. We looked at each other over our decaf.

"Nervous?" he asked.

"Duh!" Over the top again. Shit.

But he smiled and I added, "Just glad this isn't leaded," indicating the coffee, "and that I'm taking blood pressure meds and Celexa."

Mike had called the night before. He and John were arriving at Metro at three. We weren't to bother to pick them up, as he would rent a car. Glad I have a rich son. He may come in useful in my old age. He indicated that he had talked to all the kids and they would be at our house by seven-thirty. Peter and Angie would be getting in this afternoon. Meg was upset that they had chosen to stay with Angie's family rather than with her, but Petey had assured her that they would be spending ample time in both situations. He reminded her that Angie's grandmother was not doing well and that they needed to be there for her. This might just be her last Christmas. They had all queried the purpose of the family meeting, but he'd held his silence. Meg, the perceptive one, said that she bet it had something to do with my putting up the tree for the first time in years.

Mike and John arrived. They immediately swept us both up into their arms and hugged us. The dogs joined in the fray. Annie had been Mike's dog before he moved to Boston. He felt that with his long hours and John's being away so much with his job as a flight attendant, it was no place for a dog. She was overjoyed to see him, and stayed glued to his side all afternoon. It all seemed so natural that I began to relax. That is until John asked what Andy did for a living. I hadn't told Mike anything about Dr. Andrew Barnes. Andy handled it. He merely said he had attended MSU, was a veterinarian, was between jobs and hoped to find something here in Ann Arbor.

The next questions made me hold my breath.

"So, how did you meet? How long have you known each other?" asked Mike.

I wasn't prepared to say, `Oh I picked up this homeless guy, who has a drinking problem, who was living under a bridge and was being mugged by two other bums a week ago.'

Andy, however, was cool as could be.

"Your dad found me at the bottom of that exit ramp at Jackson road. I was in a hell of a mess and he helped me out."

"Car trouble?" John asked.

Andy just smiled.

"I don't know if you believe in love at first sight but, that's what it was."

I blinked back tears.

"That's my dad," Mike added. "Mom would get so upset cuz he and Meg were always bringing home strays and wounded birds."

`Mike if you only knew how close you are to the truth.' I smiled at Andy.

He winked.

We went out for dinner. I just felt it would be good for us to get out and be distracted. I ordered a glass of wine. He ordered a diet Coke. Mike and John had opted to go to visit friends. I made sure that Mike promised to be back early, before the others arrived at the house. Both Andy and I ate sparingly. As was arranged, John and Mike arrived at the house. John took Andy out. Mike and I got things ready.

"How are you doing?" he asked.

"I've been better."

The door opened and Peter walked in. Hi's and hugs all around.

"What's this all about?" he asked.

"Oh, you'll see," said Mike.

"Meg says you've put old Claudia up. Ah there she is."

Peter walked off into the family room.

As I was bringing in the cookies Andy had baked using Patti's recipe, Meg and Kathy arrived together.

There was a babble of talk.

"Oh, Claudia is up. I'm so glad."

"Who baked Mom's cookies? Daddy, you? Oh, thank you, thank you." The cookies had always been a firm favorite with the kids.

I looked helplessly at Mike. He just smiled and directed the attention and the conversation to the tree, eggnog, and catching up on the news.

Finally he looked at me and nodded.

I felt light headed. I couldn't do this. I would just pretend I had invited everyone over for a pre-Christmas get-together for just the Bennett side of the family. Then I would take Andy and we'd run away to a deserted island in the South Pacific and fuck our brains out for the rest of our lives.

"Dad?" Mike said.

"Uh, sit down everyone. I have something important to tell you."

They arranged themselves around the room. Mike sat next to me on the couch. Peter sat on the chest in front of one of the bay windows. Meg and Kathy sat together on the love seat as they did for years when presents were passed out on Christmas Day.

I looked around the room. Would they be here after my announcement? Would this be the last time? Or the last time for a long while that they'd be here in the house in which they had been born, grown up? I didn't want to do this. I tried to focus on the joy I had experienced this last week with Andy. It didn't seem joyful right now. I was torn. I was torn between something I had always thought I wanted and what I wanted now more than anything: my family.

I stared down at my hands folded together between my knees as I sat leaning forward with my elbows on my thighs. I knew what I would do. I would say that I had wanted to say I was sorry for not having decorated since their beloved mother had died. That was what I had brought them here to say. Yes, that was it. And then, after they left, I would tell Andy I was sorry, tell him that I would make sure he got on his feet and send him on his way. Yes, that was the best thing to do.

Then I felt Mike's leg pressing into mine. It brought me out of my reverie. I looked up. They were all looking at me expectantly. I cleared my throat.

"I ah, I wanted you to know. . . ." I looked to Mike.

He nodded.

I cleared my throat again. When I started to speak my voice sounded strange. It didn't sound like me. But this time I kept going.

"I (ahem), wanted you to know that I am very proud to be your dad." They smiled. "I want you to know that I loved your mother more than I will ever love anyone on this earth. There never can be a replacement for her in my heart. The family that we built together is the most important thing in my life."

Murmurs of "Daddy we know." "Yeah, Dave," said Peter with his tendency to call me by my name. Something I had always gotten a kick out of.

"Well, having said that I need to let you know that my heart still has room in it. Room to find more love to share. I think I have found that love." I looked again at Mike. He nodded.

"Hey, Mikey already knows! No fair," Peter chuckled.

Kathy looked at Mike with a probing eye.

"What's her name?" asked Meg all smiles.

"Well, that's the thing. It's . . . it's. . . "

Peter looked at Mike and then back to me.

"Fuck" he said. His eyes narrowed.

"Shut up, Peter!" Meg remonstrated. "Let him finish. Go on Daddy."

I had to look at Peter when I said it. Somehow it was important to me to let him know that I loved him and hated like hell to say what I was going to say.

"It's not her. It's him." I had said it. "You see I'm. . . "

"Gay!" Peter hissed. "You're a fuckin' queer!"

I looked up with tears stinging my eyes.

"Peter!" both Kathy and Meg yelled. "Dad?" they said to me.

"Peter, that was uncalled for," said Mike.

"The Hell it is! My brother being gay I can take, but my . . . .father. . . shit. . . .This is crap. I . . . I. . . ."

He started to pace. Everything seemed confused. I didn't know what to say. Mike rose and tried to put his hand on Peter's shoulder. He threw it off.

"I'm outta here! I hope you and your fuckin' boyfriend and your fuckin' phony family have a Merry Fuckin' Christmas." He stormed out of the room and the door slammed behind him.

"I thought that went rather well, don't you?" I smiled then I lowered my head and cried softly. Kathy came to my side. Meg knelt before me. I covered my eyes with my hands.

"He'll get over it," said Mike smiling at me. "Just give him time."

"Dad, it's okay," said Kathy. "It's okay."


"What's his name Daddy and when can we meet him?" Meg said through the tears that fell freely from her eyes.

"Oh Meg." I pulled her to me and buried my sobs in her golden hair. Kathy laid her head on my shoulder and Mike patted my back. He mouthed okay and nodded when I looked up.

(((((O)))))

"Kathy, Meg this is Andy, Andy Barnes. He's a veterinarian from MSU, but don't hold that against him." Mike made the introductions. I was still in some state of shock.

The rest of the evening went well. They all talked. John, Mike, Andy, Meg and Kathy. They raved over the cookies that Andy had made from their mother's recipes. They regaled him with stories of their childhood and me. I couldn't have hoped for more. Well, yes, I could. Peter. What was this doing to him?

The evening came to a close with Meg giving her instructions for Christmas. Christmas Eve Mass at St. Thomas, Christmas Eve at the in laws for all three kids and families. Christmas day here, "if we wanted that?" We would meet in front of the church at four. "Was that okay?" and on and on with who would bring what where and when.

After the girls had gone John said, " Okay, so what happened?"

Mike told the story. I sat feeling like a wrung out dishrag. Andy came to sit next to me. He seemed unsure as to what to do. I reached over to him and he leaned against me.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"No," said Mike. "Two out of three ain't all that bad." They all laughed. I smiled.

"Let's go to bed." I was suddenly very tired.

We bade each other good night and went to our rooms. I had a momentary feeling of panic when Mike walked past my bedroom as I was closing the door on Andy and me. He smiled and gave me the thumbs up. I blushed and returned the gesture.

That night Andy gently held me. He stroked my head. He told me he loved me. He flew to the top of the church where he broke into song. That's when I knew I had fallen asleep and was dreaming.

(((((O)))))

Peter and his family didn't sit with the rest of us at mass on Christmas Eve. Meg gave him a piece of her mind for that. On Christmas Day he and Angie with the kids arrived late and left early. Angie was cordial to Andy, even friendly. Peter didn't even look at him. He avoided me except to give me a perfunctory hug and wish me a Merry Christmas. The rest of the family made up for it. Scott and Sean, the sons-in-law, kidded Andy about being their new stepmother, and raved about his cooking. He and John had done the turkey with all the trimmings. The grandkids, all three of Kathy's, Peter's two boys and Meg's baby, were in heaven with their uncles, Mike and John, and new Grampa Andy. Meg and Kathy had gotten him presents and showed an interest in his conversation, although he carefully avoided any reference to his recent past.

Christmas week flew by. The kids, except for Peter dropped in at the house and invited us to their homes for continued celebrations. John and Mike flew out the day before New Year's Eve to attend the galas on The Cape. Angie called to say that they were leaving and to thank us for the presents. We didn't hear from Peter.

We spent New Year's Eve at home alone. I needed the peace and quiet. It had been an exhausting two weeks. Just two weeks before a fate inspired moment had changed my life forever. Here I was in the home I had shared with Patti for twenty-five of our thirty-one years together, sitting on the floor in front a tree we called Claudia with my arms around a man that I intended to love for the rest of my life. My children, for the most part, had responded better to this dramatic turn of events, better than I could have hoped, with one painful exception.

Andy pressed against me. He started to stroke my chest and beg for kisses. I felt myself responding to his touch. "We better wait." I said with a voice that said I didn't really want to.

"Why? I want to be deep inside you and fill you with myself just as the New Year begins." His voice, too, showed the effects of arousal.

"Another Bennett tradition. Precisely at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day they all call home to wish me Happy New Year. It wouldn't be cool to moan out your name just as they were calling. Even though they are taking this pretty well."

He chuckled, "I guess not. Okay, I'll wait until the coast is clear."

We watched the ball drop. Dick Clark wished us a Happy New Year. We kissed and cried. The phone rang.

Meg was first. "Happy New Year, Daddy. I love you."

"Happy New Year, Moo. I love you, too"

"Let me talk to Andy?"

I handed the phone to him. He said Happy New Year. He knitted his brows in concentration. He laughed and smiled at me. He said thank you and handed the phone back to me.

"See you tomorrow," Meg said. "Bye"

We were going over to Meg's for dinner and to watch Michigan play in the Rose Bowl.

"What were you laughing at? I asked.

"Meg said that Sean has set up a second TV so we can watch MSU play its bowl game since the two overlap."

"Next fall should be interesting," I quipped thinking ahead to the UM vs MSU rivalry game.

The phone rang again.

"Hey it's me." It was Kathy. Again we wished the best in the coming year. She, too, asked to talk with Andy. My heart swelled.

No sooner had we hung up when it rang again. Caller ID indicated Mike and John. I had Andy answer. They talked for a long time. Finally he gave me the phone. "Hi guys."

They were both on the phone using extensions. I could hear a party in the background. I told Mike I hadn't heard from Peter, yet. He said not to worry if he didn't call. He again said to give him time. I wished him and John a Happy New Year and said good-bye.

We sat in silence. New Year's Rockin' Eve played on the TV. They had called. They were accepting this miraculous event, or at least they were making an effort to make it seem so for my sake. All was almost good with the world. I missed my Petey.

"Remember Mike said to give him time," Andy reminded me as if reading my thoughts.

"He's not going to call is he?" I sighed.

"I don't think so. Give it a little more time"

After a half an hour the phone was still silent.

"You could call him," Andy suggested.

I shook my head. He needed his space for now. I would let him take his time and come to me. "No, not just yet." Changing the subject, I said, "Now, What about that new, New Year's tradition you were talking about starting?"

"I was hoping that you would still be up for it"

"I'm not up `up' yet but I'm sure you can fix that."

We came together. A new, New Year's tradition was born. That night with our arms tightly around each other, our lips pressed together and our bodies connected in the deepest way two men can connect, we welcomed the New Year and the future.

(((((O)))))

Christmas vacation. . . oops. . . Holiday break, was over. I was back at school and Andy was getting used to life at home. One of the immediate perks of having a vet in the house was that the dogs' annual exam, shots and other veterinarian related expenses were cut way down. His culinary skills were making it hard to keep my aging body in somewhat decent shape. And the house had not been this well attended to in years. Both housework and general up keep were at an all time, post Patti high. He seemed happy enough but I sensed that something wasn't quite right. When I asked him about it he said I was imagining things. I wasn't so sure.

One other moment of concern was a note in my mailbox from the assistant principal when I got back to school. He asked to see me in his office during my prep time. My prep was seventh hour, the last hour of the day. I kind of fretted about what it was all about most of the day. The kids were all pretty high upon return from the break, so it diverted some of my attention away from the up coming meeting.

"Weight training club today?" It was Brad, one of the eighth graders. I met with a group of kids every Tuesday and Thursday for work-outs. I wanted to make sure that student athletes got started on the right foot with regard to weight training. So many programs didn't take into consideration that their joints, tendons and ligaments were still in the developmental stages and therefore subject to injury if weight-training techniques weren't learned properly.

"That's right it's Tuesday," I responded. "I forgot since we were starting today I thought it was Monday. No, we'll start this Thursday. I'll put an announcement in the bulletin in the morning."

"Okay, see you in class tomorrow."

I watched him walk away. He had quite a body going there. I didn't really have a thing for young kids but you had to appreciate the budding manhood of some of these young guys.

When I got to the assistant's office the door was open. I knocked and went in.

"Hi Dave. Sit down."

We talked for a bit about the holidays then Mr. Douglas said "I need to talk to you about something."

"Yes?"

"You were in over the holidays. You had someone with you and you were seen swimming in the pool, naked."

"And the problem is?"

"The problem is that the person who saw you feels you weren't behaving properly."

"What? All we were doing was swimming laps after a work out. I've done it hundreds of times. All the coaches do." I was feeling a bit panicky.

"Well, that's true. But, this person you were with is not a school employee and therefore not covered by school insurance."

"What about this implication of improper behavior?" I queried, still feeling uneasy and trying to remember if Andy and I had done anything, anything that would have betrayed our relationship.

"Just that you were swimming naked. It happened to be a female custodian and she was embarrassed."

"Oh, okay. We've all done that here before but if it is a problem. . . "

"Next time wear a suit."

"I will."

I left the office feeling relieved but a bit uneasy. I realized that having Andy in my life was not always going to be easy to explain. Did I need to explain it? This was Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a fairly open minded town. I would have to think about this.

As January moved into February life in the Bennett Barnes household, as the label on the mailbox now read, was falling into a comfortable pattern. I worked, Andy took care of things at home, we made love, often and wonderfully. I still hadn't had "my turn" but I was patient and more than satisfied, actually for the first time in my life.

Andy had been made an official volunteer at the school so he could help me with Weight Training Club and use the facilities as he wished. I was a little tense because they do fingerprint and a background check. Since I wasn't all up to date on his `background' I hoped there wouldn't be surprises for me there. No problem . . . he passed. We attended school-sporting events regularly. I had tickets to the U of M basketball games. We went to the middle school games both men's basketball and women's volleyball. The kids at school were getting to know Dr. Barnes and they liked him. Don Reinder, nick named Rudolph, the eighth grade science teacher, had had him as a guest lecturer when zoology was studied and that lead to guest shots in the other science classes as well. He was invited to participate in Career Day at both the middle school and the high school.

On the family front things were going well, too. We spent a good deal of time with the local family members. Andy's acceptance by the girls and their spouses was obvious. The grandkids were totally taken by their new grampa. He often had to be protected from them or they completely monopolized his time. Isaac, the oldest of Kathy's boys did ask how a grampa could be so young? And Clara, her daughter, wondered why she now had three grampas? Mike and John called regularly talking as much to Andy as to me. They encouraged us to consider a trip to Boston to stay with them and learn how to be gay men. I laughed. We evidently didn't appreciate show tunes or fashion as much as we should. And what was with all this basketball stuff? What ever happened to good old figure skating? Not! Mike and John were Celtic and Bruins fans and had season tickets.

Meg, as Michael had predicted, needed to process this more than had been apparent at first. She and I spent time together talking about how I could love her mother and at the same time be attracted to men. I explained it as best I could because I didn't fully understand it myself. She was concerned that I hadn't been faithful to her mother during our marriage and I lied. I told her I had been faithful. Was that wrong? She spent time alone with Andy. She would be okay with this.

I hadn't heard from Peter since the holidays. His customary weekly calls had ceased. He hadn't even called on my birthday. A week after my birthday a card and a gift arrived. The card was signed by Angie and wasn't the usual sarcastic, funny greeting that my boy usually sent. The gift, too, was a very nice sweater, but not the gift with special meaning that typified my relationship with Petey.

Andy had given me a card and tickets to a Piston's game. He confessed he had scrounged the money out of the household, shopping budget. He was embarrassed. I understood. However, the embarrassment didn't linger that night when he sent me to the moon with one of the most powerful love making sessions I had ever participated in. He didn't allow me to touch him at all but made me lie on my back and endure the most wonderful oral and manual ministrations imaginable. It was a double climax night, one of my few. He had learned his lessons well. How I loved him. I still hadn't had `my turn.'

Life was good. If only Peter would come around. But, I could wait. All was going well.
But, then all good things must come to an end so they say or at least hit some bumps in the road.

((((O)))))

As spring approached Andy became restless. He still insisted all was going well and that he was happy, but he was like a horse who had been in his stall all winter and needed to get out and run. Finally I sat him down.

"Tell me."

Once again, in his characteristic manner, he took a long time to respond.

"I need to work," he said simply.

I smiled encouraging him to continue.

"I'm a veterinarian, a good one. I need to be practicing. I called Lansing. My license has lapsed. In order to get it back I need to take a couple of courses in current treatment practices."

"Well, what's the problem? Go for it."

He looked at me indulgently and smiled. He paused before continuing, "The classes would be in Lansing. I would need transportation. If I don't have that I would have to get a room there."

"No way! I'm not losing. . ." I was over the top again.

"Hang on there stud. Let me finish," he smiled but not in a way that showed real amusement.

He cocked his head to the side, hunched his shoulders up and held his open hands toward me.

"And I have no money." He dropped his eyes.

I sat there for a minute. I calculated in my head. Then I said, "I have money."

"No I couldn't ask you to do that."

I moved to sit closer to him. I took his hands in mine.

"For richer for poorer, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health till death do us part. And mi casa es su casa for good measure. We haven't said those words to each other but that is what this all means to me. Of course you can ask me to do this."

"I don't deserve you."

"You got it backwards I don't deserve you. Now let's figure this out"

We got Andy a reliable used F150. He got himself enrolled in the spring quarter. He would have to take some more classes that summer, too. We adjusted the home schedule so that we could spend as much time together as possible. We considered that bump in the road handled.

Until we hit a bigger one.

In May I got another note in my mailbox. This time it was from the superintendent of schools. He wanted to meet with me the following Monday. I was to get a sub for the morning.

"What could he want?" I said out loud Sunday night.

"Maybe he wants to offer you the chairmanship of the English department," Andy offered while looking up from `Latest Advancements in Equine Pharmacology.'

"Wow, that's definitely not what I want."

"Why not?' he said, wrinkling his brow trying to get the gist of what he had gone back to reading.

"Because it would take time away from my favorite pastime."

"And what's that? he asked innocently, not looking up.

I walked over to him. I was dressed only in flannel lounging pants. I straddled his lap pulling his tee shirt off over his head as I did. I went straight for the brass ring, his nipples. I knew once there I could demand anything of him. I was right.

"Not fair," he moaned.

But, I had him. I could feel his blossoming hardness pressing against my buttocks. We kissed deeper, deeper searching the recesses of our mouths as if looking for hidden treasure. I raised up and he lowered my loungers. I stepped out of them. I unzipped his jeans. With a bit of fumbling I released the prize for which I was searching. We were both flowing ample amounts of pre-cum. I used this to lubricate his penis and myself. He sat with his hands on my hips breathing deeply and shuddering each time he exhaled. I reached back and lined him up with his target. I looked him in his steel blue eyes and said "I love you" slowly and softly as I slid easily onto his swollen shaft. He let out a gasp that I smothered with a kiss. Slowly and sensuously we began our dance. My mouth never left his as the rhythm and pace accelerated. My engorgement pressed into his abdomen thrusting through the auburn curls and stabbing his navel. I came; filling his navel with my flow that ran down the side of his stomach and onto the chair. Without slacking in stride he dipped his hand in the pool and raised it to our lips to feed us the fruit of my body. Then he stiffened and pulled me close with such force that the breath was pushed out of me. His spasms came once, twice, three, four times. Then he relaxed his head on my chest. I took his head in my hands and kissed it. Could this get any better?

Maybe but it could also get worse.

Monday morning I arrived at the central administration building for my meeting with the superintendent, Mr. Markos. Mr. Markos was a handsome man of Greek descent. I'd often fantasized what he would look like under his suit with his barrel chest and wonderfully shaped gluteus maximus.

He was in the reception area when I arrived, talking with his secretary.

"Mr. Bennett. Thank you for coming. Please come in."

He closed the door behind him and indicated that I should sit down. I chose a chair in front of his desk and he took the one next to it rather than retreating behind the barrier that the large mahogany furnishing would have created.

"How long have you been teaching?" He got right to the point.

"I've been with the district for twenty-two years. Before that I was an instructor at the University for nine."

"Then you are eligible for retirement. Have you thought about it?"

Where was this going?

"Well, yes of course I have, but I love my job and thought I would stick it out for another few years until I am nearer social security age."

"Mr. Bennett," he looked down, something told me he was getting ready to say something that he wasn't comfortable with. "Mr. Bennett I would like to encourage you to consider it at the end of this year."

"But," I said caught completely off guard, "It takes six months to process retirement papers. I wouldn't begin receiving benefits until. . . . " I calculated in my head. "Uh December. I have financial obligations. And besides I don't want to retire just yet."

"Let me put it this way Mr. Bennett. I strongly encourage you to retire at the end of this year."

"Mr. Markos," he suddenly didn't look so attractive to me, "are you telling me to retire?"

"Technically I can't do that. Your contract and the fact that you have tenure prohibit me from taking that action. Just let me say that it would be in your best interest to make this decision now."

"I'm afraid that without some reason for your. . . encouragement. . . I don't think it's a direction I care to take at this time."

He drew a deep breath. He moved his chair closer to me.

"David," he used my first name, he looked me in the eye with what was clearly sympathy and compassion, "David, I didn't want to have to go here." He shook his head and looked back at me.

"David it has been noted that you have . . . uh. . . a friend."

"I have many friends," I responded not understanding what he meant.

"I mean Dr. Barnes"

"Oh."

We were silent for a few minutes then I said, "I don't recall that there is any law against having a `friend' such as Dr. Barnes as long as there is no outward faulting of lewd behavior which applies to all teachers no matter what their sexual persuasion."

"You are right of course. But, you see the school board has two members who are, let us say, on the extreme far right. They have been informed of your relationship with Dr. Barnes, that you have been observed swimming in the pool at the middle school without swimming trunks. . . ."

"But, we were just swimming!"

He ignored me. "And they have discovered a state law that could be interpreted as your breaking a morals clause. If they invoke that clause you would forfeit your pension. The law is antiquated but it is still on the books and could be used against you."

"But, I have been a loyal employee and Andy has been nominated as Volunteer of the Year?"

"Yes, I have read your file. Your evaluations have consistently read `performs above expectations.' Twice you have been `District Teacher of the Year.' But, this seems to make no difference to these particular. . . bigo. . . uh . . . board members."

"Before I make any decision I will need to consult with the union and with a lawyer."

"As you wish. I just was trying to avoid any unpleasantness on your part. And of course the school district."

"Of course the school district," I said with a note of distain in my voice.

When I got home, Andy was already in the kitchen. He turned and came to me and gave me a hug and kiss.

"You look stressed to the maximum."

"Yes!"

I told him the story of my day, my meeting with Mr. Markos, my return to school. Contacting the union, contacting a lawyer for the state educational association.

"What's the bottom line?" he asked support and concern showing in his voice and on his face.

"The lawyer says it's a crock of crap and that it'll never fly. But. . . ."

"But?"

"But there's a chance that if the wrong judge gets a hold of the case, the fuckin' school board bigots will get their way."

"David, I am so sorry. It's my fault you're in this situation."

I walked over and put my arms around him. "For better for worse remember? But, I sure could use a drink."

He looked at me.

I chuckled, "How about a Chamomile Tea?"

((((O)))))

Summer came, and with it summer vacation. This was one of the benefits of teaching that I had enjoyed so much over the years, especially when the kids were here at home. It gave me time to be with them in ways that fathers in other professions miss out on. This summer was not going to be that enjoyable, however. I hadn't retired. The school board had decided to take legal action against me. The summer would be spent preparing for the trial, which would take place at the end of July. I had informed the kids of my situation. Their response was heart warming and appreciated. Meg and Kathy were sympathetic and encouraging. Mike and John were going to get some advice from their local gay activists group. Peter wouldn't take my call so I left the message with Angie. At my request the news of the trial was not made public at school. As far as anyone knew the end of the year came in the normal way.

Aside from preparing for the court date, the summer activities in the Bennett-Barnes household continued as expected although under a cloud of tension filled anticipation. Andy was still taking classes at MSU to prepare for his exam to reinstate his veterinarian license. We spent some time at the barn where Meg had kept her horses. Ben, the owner, was happy to meet Andy and they seemed to hit it off really well. Andy, in turn, was impressed with the operation and with the quality of the stock.

"Ben's really a nice guy," Andy commented as we drove out of the drive. "And good looking, too."

"Hey" was my retort.

Andy chuckled and winked.

We attended horse shows and had cookouts with the kids. We went swimming and hiking at the local Metro Parks. We made love.

But, never far from consciousness were our two sources of tension: my trial and Andy's exams. The tension seemed to grow as the times approached for those events. The trial was first. Mike and John had arranged to be here. They brought a lawyer, Bob Johnson, an expert on gay rights, to sit second chair with the state education association councilor. They stayed with us and we went over the procedures again and again.

We arrived at the county building on the appointed day. Meg and Sean, Kathy and Scott met us on the steps outside. It was good to have them there. We all entered the building and went through the security checks. We were directed to the assigned courtroom. As we rounded the corner to the hallway I was in for a shock. Gathered there was almost the entire staff of the middle school, as well as several dozen students and their parents. I was overwhelmed.

They cheered as I came around the corner and high fived my `dream team' and me as we entered the courtroom.

"Go get um Mr. B!"

"Give um Hell!"

I held it together and stifled the emotions I was afraid would overwhelm me. As many of the crowd as would fit, followed us into the courtroom. The school district's attorney and the president of the school board were all ready seated beyond the bar. Other members of the board were already in their seats in the gallery. The look of shock on their faces at seeing me enter with my entourage would have been comical if not for the seriousness of the situation.

The judge entered, we rose, were seated again and the trial began. My lawyer presented character witness after character witness. All of them spoke of me in such glowing terms that I was embarrassed. In the cross examinations no one was able to testify to a single instance of inappropriate behavior on my part in any way shape or form.

Then the board presented its case. They reread the allegations against me and presented just one witness: the lady custodian who had seen Andy and me swimming in the nude during the holiday break.

"Tell us what you saw, Mrs. Carter."

"I saw Mr. Bennett and that man," she pointed to Andy who was seated behind me, "swimming in the pool."

"And how were they dressed?"

"They weren't."

"You mean they were naked?"

"Yes."

"Please tell us what they were doing."

"I told you, they were swimming."

Giggles from the gallery.

"What else were they doing?"

"Nothing, just swimming."

"I see," the councilor walked forward and leaned on the witness stand.

"And what evidence was there that they were sexually aroused?"

"I . . . don't know what you mean. I don't understand?"

"I will put it another way. Did either Mr. Bennett or his partner have an erection?"

"Objection!"

`Oh My God!' I put one hand on my forehead and felt the color rising in my cheeks. Here I was in front of my family, colleagues, and students and we were discussing my erection!

My attorney was on his feet. "Your Honor this line of questioning is improper."


"I'll allow it if council will rephrase his question," the judge responded.

"Thank you Your Honor. Did Mr. Bennett," he paused and looked over at me, "have an erection."

I groaned inwardly and searched my memory to see if I had had a hard on.

"Objection!" My attorney was on his feet again. "Whether or not a man has an erection does not indicate whether or not he will engage in an immoral act in a public place."

"Your Honor," rejoined opposing council, "the presence of an erection would indicate intent."

"Objection overruled. The witness will answer the question."

Mrs. Carter, turned crimson, looked down at her lap, "No," she said.

"No? Mrs. Carter?"

"No. I did not see Mr. Bennett's. . .uh. . . erection."

Mrs. Carter are you sure? Think back, try to remember."

"Mr. Dougal," the judge said leaning forward, "I think that she has made it clear that she did not witness Mr. Bennett with an erection."

`Oh sweet Jesus!' I couldn't take much more discussion of my penis and me.

"Yes, Your Honor. No further questions."

My attorney waived our right to cross-examine.

"We rest our case Your Honor," said the attorney for the board.

"That's your whole case?" The judge took off his glasses and raised his eyebrows.

"Yes, Your Honor."

"I see."

The judge leaned back. He seemed to be looking over some papers on his desk. Then he sat up and looked at the board president and board members in the gallery. He folded his hands and shook his head.

"You have wasted my time, the time of this court and caused undue suffering to many people by bringing these frivolous charges against Mr. Bennett. If I were in his shoes I would be considering that a suit for defamation of character and public humiliation be brought against the school board and school district. I find in favor of Mr. Bennett. Case dismissed."

At the rap of the gavel the courtroom burst into cheers and applause. Mike, John, my attorney and Bob, the gay activist lawyer, hugged me. I looked at Andy. He smiled at me. By mutual, unspoken agreement we decided a wave and a wink would suffice for now. We would celebrate our victory later and definitely in private.

((((O)))))

After a celebratory family cookout at Kathy's, things settled down. Mike, John and their friend returned to Boston. Andy spent long hours studying for his reinstatement exam.
I spent long hours distracting him as best I could. Finally on the day before the exam I decided to take a more direct approach.

"Andy," I walked over and took the book out of his hand. He looked up at me and started to protest. I stuffed my tongue in his mouth.

When we came up for air he protested. "The exam is tomorrow and . . ."

"And you have done all you can. As a teacher I know that you need time before a big test to relax and let the knowledge settle. So follow me."

We walked up the stairs to our room. I had several candles lit and there was music on the CD player. I undressed him and sat him on the bed. I undressed and crawled behind him and leaned against a pile of pillows stacked in front of the headboard. I spread my legs, pulled him back against me and put my arms around his chest. He leaned his head back on my shoulder.

"You just relax and let the master take that tension away," I murmured into his ear.

He sighed deeply. "Okay."

As he leaned against me I massaged his chest, making sure I gave special attention to those beautiful, sensitive nipples. I kissed his shoulder, neck and ears. I licked the back of his neck. His breathing got deeper. I reached down with my left hand and cupped his balls. I continued my ministrations to his chest, abdomen and nipples with my right. I reached for his rigid penis. Wrapping my fingers around it I pulled the foreskin all the way back and began a slow, rhythmic massage. Using the copious flow of pre-cum to lubricate his shaft, I continued my maddeningly slow stimulation. He rolled his head back and forth on my shoulder and made shuddering sounds.

"Please," he moaned, "David, please!"

He reached for himself but I pushed his hand away.

"Uh-uh! No way, you're mine right now."

He was pressing back against my stomach where my own turgid dick was trapped between us. His legs were flexing and stretching, stimulating me as much as I was stimulating him. My own breathing was becoming labored and irregular. Still I kept the pace as slow as I could, fighting my own urge to bring this torture to completion.

Twice I brought him to the brink only to cease stroking him. He was almost crying by this time. His whimpers were music to my ears. Finally I set him free but continued with the same firm, slow strokes. He arched against me.

"David, Oh shit, damn, David."

Three geysers of sperm shot from him. The first hit us both in the face. The second his chest. The third landed on his navel. These were followed by several more ejaculations that oozed out and coated my hands. As these last issuances were completed, my own pent up volcano erupted coating his back and my stomach. I closed my eyes and was lost in the euphoria that male climax can bring.

We lay with my arms folded across his chest. His arms were across mine, holding my hands, his head snuggled against my neck. In this position we fell asleep.

At some point during the night I was awakened by a voice saying, "Principles of chiropractic humpf, dingle, dit, horses." I chuckled and drifted back to sleep.

Jake jumping on the bed to announce that he was overdue for his turn out jarred us awake. We sat up and looked at the clock.

"Holy shit!"

We had over slept. We were pretty well stuck together from last night's activities. But, we were off like a flash nonetheless. Andy headed for the shower and I headed downstairs. I let the dogs out and fed them when they came in. I made breakfast. Cheerios, o. j. and bananas. The kitchen and I were still not on speaking terms. I was brewing the decaf when Andy ran into the kitchen. He wolfed down his breakfast, kissed me in passing and ran out the door.

"You drive safe. Good luck!" I yelled after him as he headed out to the garage. Annie barked.

After he had gone I realized he hadn't taken his cell.

"Damn. Now I'd have to wait until he got home to hear how he did on the exam.

I cleaned up the kitchen and then got in the shower. I didn't really want to wash him off of me. But, I did. In the process I started thinking of last night and did a mental instant replay. This culminated in my spraying the shower stall with another serving of my seed.

I went to the pool for a swim. I walked the dogs. I went out to Subway for dinner. I paced the floor. I checked my watch every five minutes or less. Finally at 7:30 I heard his truck pull in the drive.

I ran out the front door. "Well???"

He looked exhausted.

"Won't know for two weeks. But, I think I did well."

We went in the house. At first he sat down in the family room leaning against the couch. I asked him about the exam and he launched into a blow-by-blow detail of every question.

"I should have studied those articles on Equine Protozoan Myelitis more carefully. There was a question about newly discovered treatments. I may have blown that one. But I know I nailed the one about Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis." He went on and on, sometimes pacing the floor, sometimes sitting and intently staring at the wall. I was glad that I was somewhat knowledgeable about these subjects from my years with Meg and the horses. Finally he ran out of steam and headed for the shower and bed. That night curled in each other's arms, we affirmed our love for one another and decided that this summer had been one to remember.

((((O)))))

Fall arrived. With it came the start of school. I usually am somewhat reluctant to go back but after the trial I was happy to return to the students and books. Andy still had not heard about his exams. After a week and a half he started sitting on the front stoop waiting for the mail carrier. After two and a half weeks he started walking down the street to meet the mail carrier. After a month he called MSU to see what was going on.. He got the run around and decided that he had flunked. I tried to encourage him but he was sure that he hadn't cut it. He was so upset with MSU that he wore Maze and Blue on the day of the rivalry game.


Fall also brought Peter's and Patti's birthdays. The family going to the cemetery and placing mums on her grave celebrated the latter. They had been her favorite fall flower. At first Andy said he didn't belong in the celebration. But Meg, bless her, insisted that her mother was happy that her dad had found love and would be glad of Andy's being there. If a gay man can find a better way to be shown the love of his family I don't know what it would be.

Peter on the other hand. . .I called on his birthday. Angie said just a minute and then returned to say Peter was out. When the girls heard this both Kathy and Meg called him. They encouraged me to try again. I did, twice. He was `out' both times.

Well, it was fall and U of M football. I had had season tickets since I had graduated from the U. After all those years they were premium seats. Peter had always come in for almost every game. I was confident that the lure of the Maize and Blue would bring him home.

Finally near the end of October, I was in the middle of third hour teaching the basics of diagramming a sentence when the door burst open. It was Andy, visitors tag and all. The kids yelled, "Dr. B, Dr. B."

Before I could react he replied. "Ubetchim! Dr. Andrew Barnes at your service."

He was waving a letter in his hand. He came over to me, handed me the letter and hugged me.

The letter was from the State of Michigan, Department of Licensure and Certification.

`Dear Dr. Barnes:

This is to inform you that you have passed your reinstatement exam with a score of 96%.
Your license to practice veterinary medicine in the State of Michigan has been reissued. It is effective as of today. October 15th, 1998. You will be receiving a copy of your license in two weeks.

Sincerely,

Robert Ellis
Department of Licensure and Certification.'

At the bottom were listed the states that had a reciprocal licensing agreement with Michigan.

I smiled and read the letter aloud to the class. Dr. Barnes was the hero of the day.

The hero got his reward that night.

Andy immediately started applying for veterinarian positions in the area. He sent out letters. He made personal visits to the practices. He searched on the Internet. One of the drawbacks being located near one of the best vet schools in the country is that the glut of graduates coming out each year made the pickings pretty slim. The only opening Andy could find was in Escanaba, about a five-hour drive from Ann Arbor. He began to get discouraged.

One night I came home to find him sitting in the dark. I turned on the light. He was on the couch. In front of him on the coffee table was a bottle of Scotch. My heart stopped. I walked into the room. He looked up. A glance at the bottle showed me that it hadn't been opened. Sighing inwardly, I sat down next to him and locked my arms behind my head and leaned back. He looked at me with tears in his eyes.

"Help me?"

I took him into my embrace. It was almost like holding one of my children when they needed comfort and strength. He began to sob quietly.

"I almost did it. I almost did! I have been fighting this all summer. Today I found out that one of the reasons I am getting rejection letters is because Julie and her family are still carrying on their campaign against me. They contact every practice I apply to. It broke my resistance. If you hadn't come home . . . .Oh, David. Help me!"

"Ubetchim, Little Beaver. Red Ryder is here. We'll get you the help you need."


The next morning I stayed home from school. I called the local AA chapter. They put me in touch with a chapter in Royal Oak that served mostly gays. I called them. They encouraged me to have Andy, himself, get in touch with them. It wasn't easy for him but he did it. Two days later I came in and he met me at the door.

"I made that call. I'm going to my first meeting tonight. Will you come with me?"

"Of course if it's the right thing to do.

"I asked them. They said it was okay if I really needed the support. Will you?"

"Yes, come'ere." I put my arms around him. It was gonna be okay.

We went to the meeting. I had never been to one before but I knew what the basic format was. When it was Andy's turn to be introduced he stood up, looked around the room, looked at me, then squared his shoulders and said,

"My name is Andy and I am an alcoholic."

I was as proud of him at that moment as I ever was of any of my kids at any time in their lives.

((((O)))))

The fall kept on its way. We attended football games at the university, high school and middle school. We went to the girl's basketball games. Andy guested again in many of the science classes and assisted the weight-training club. But, I could tell he was discouraged. He was doing well at AA and I was fairly confident that he would be okay in that area.

"It's not only that I want to practice being a vet again," he said one night as we sat in the stands at the Pioneer High School game against cross-town rivals, the Huron River Rats. "But, it isn't fair for you to be footing all the bills. You have paid for everything."

"Hey, you do your share; you take care of the house and give the dogs what they need. You volunteer at school."

"I'm not some God damn housewife!" he said intensely but softly.

`Oh shit you dumb fuck' I thought. You and your big mouth have done it again.

Simultaneously speaking on top of one another, we said,

"I'm sorry please forgive me,"

"Sorry I didn't mean it that way."

"It's just that I need to work."

"I know you're frustrated."

We watched the rest of the game in silence.

That Sunday was the Hallowe'en party at the farm. There was a best costume contest with both horses and riders in costume, hayrides and more food than the whole U of M football team could have handled. There were games on horseback: musical pumpkins, played like musical chairs to the tune of `Monster Mash", egg and spoon, where the rider must balance an egg on a spoon while riding around the arena at various gaits and ride-a-buck in which the rider clamps a dollar between the leg and the saddle. The rider that has the last buck still in place wins all the rest. Andy and I borrowed horses and played the games. I won the egg and spoon; mainly thanks to the smooth, steady old horse they gave me to ride. Andy won the ride-a-buck and came away with 18 dollars in his pocket.

The next activity was the golden horseshoe hunt. Maps were given out showing the routes of the trails around the barn. Somewhere along one of the trails was hidden a golden horseshoe. Four teams went out in search of the shoe. Andy and I were teamed with two young ladies who were hell bent to find that shoe. We flew along the trails. I didn't think old Buttercup had it in her but she kept up with the rest. We didn't win but we sure had a good ride. I felt good after not riding for so long. I would be sore tonight for sure.

On the way back to the barn, Ben joined us. As we walked along he said, "Dave never mentioned that you could ride like that."

"I never knew. You never told me, Andy."

He semi blushed. "Well, shucks," he said feigning an Andy Griffith, Mayberry RFD accent. "Actually I was a barrel racer at MSU for the rodeo equestrian team."

Ben went on. "I can't pay much but I know that you are having a hard time finding a vet job so, if you want a job here you can sure have it. You could vet the horses, which would save us a hell of a lot of money and the boarders, too, exercise horses, help with the stalls and feeding and give me some professional advice on shoeing for those with foot and leg problems." Ben was also a professional farrier.

"You could even live in the apartment with Eric if you wanted." Eric was the college student who now fed the horses and cleaned stalls in exchange for his living quarters. Eric was quite a hottie.

Andy smiled, "That is a great offer, Ben. The job I mean. I have a good living situation right now." He gave me a knowing look. I wiped the panicked expression off my face that had appeared when it was suggested that he and Eric might live together.

"Let me think it over, but I'm pretty sure I'd like to take you up on that."

We finished off the day with a hayride and a bonfire. The latter came complete with ghost stories and the arrival, on cue, of Eric, dressed as the mummy. Another of the kids accompanied him from the barn dressed as a werewolf, amid screams and sheiks of fear from the crowd around the fire.

That night, while lying naked on the bed and applying linament to each other's backsides, Andy asked, "Whada you think?"

"About your sexy butt?" I had thought a lot about his sexy butt, often wondering when it was going to by `my turn.'

" I know what you think about that," he chuckled. "What do you think about Ben's offer?"

"I think it's great. . ..as long as you don't accept that offer to shack up with Eric." I made an angry growl in my throat.

"You're the only guy I'm going to be shacking up with, Mr. Red Ryder."

"Ubetchim, Little beaver."

And that night we did, being extremely careful of some pretty tender body parts.

((((O)))))

So, Andy had a job. His demeanor improved so dramatically that it was infectious. The whole atmosphere of the house lightened. He was animated and talkative. He was enthusiastic about everything. He still found time to volunteer at school. And our lovemaking became better than ever, if that were possible.

About the middle of November Andy came in from the barn. As he was making dinner he said, "There's a big horse show in the Chicago area."

"Uh huh." I said reading an article about the Wolverines and their chances of going to the Rose Bowl again.

"Ben needs to take all three rigs to get all the horses there that are going."

"Hmm," I grunted.

"He and Eric will each drive one. He wanted to know if I would drive the third and be the vet for the barn at the show. Can I go?"

I stopped reading. "Say that again."

He repeated what he had said.

I walked over to him, put my arm around the back of his head and pulled his forehead to mine. "You're a big boy now, you don't need daddy's permission to go off by yourself."

He looked hurt. "What? I. . . did you want me to say, No?"

"No, but I just wanted to make sure that you were okay with it. I did it out of respect for you and your feelings."

What had I done to deserve this man?

"I'm sorry. That was uncalled for. Let me start over."

"Thanks for checking with me Andy, of course, I want you to go. It'll be good for you."

This time he pulled my head to his. "Thanks, Dad." He winked.

As he carried a pot of his famous chili to the table he said. "Oh did I tell you I'd be staying with Eric?"

I swatted him on the butt. Hard!

((((O)))))

The trip to Chicago was wonderful for Andy. He was feeling more and more a contributor. He'd had a great time and was even able to make some contacts that might prove helpful to him in the future. He talked and talked about every experience until I shut him up with a sloppy kiss and reminded him that it had been a week since I had been attended to. He took care of that.

Two Sundays before Thanksgiving the phone rang. The caller ID indicated Peter's number in Chicago. I looked at it so long that it almost went to voice mail. Snapping out of it I pressed the talk button.

"Hello?"

"Dad, this is Peter."

I took a deep steadying breath. "Hi Petey."

"Dad, first I want you to know that I've been a fuckin' dumb shit."

I wanted to agree with him, but merely said, "Okay."

"Last week Andy came to see me."

I looked over at Andy who was reading and watching the Raiders play the Broncos with a shit eatin' grin on his face.

"And," Peter continued, "I'm sorry. Andy made me realize that I had no right to judge you. That you had a life to live and that by my rejecting your choices I was only hurting myself. He told me how much you talked about me, how proud you were of me, and. . . "

Peter went on trying his best to make amends for his actions and reactions. I just listened with pride and happiness filling me to the brim. I motioned for Andy to come to me. He did. I put my free arm around him and whispered, "I love you," in his ear.

"So, if you can forgive me will you and Andy come to Chicago for Thanksgiving with Angie, the boys and I?"

"UBETCHIM!"

"What?"

"He he," I chuckled, "you bet we will. Petey thank you."

"Okay, well you can stay here we have two extra bedrooms."

`Not quite ready to go that far huh, Petey. Well, that's okay. One step at a time.' I thought.

"We'll be there. Kiss Angie and the boys for us."

"Hi to Andy. Bye Dad."

"Bye."

"Oh, Dave?" Peter reverted to his use of my name. "Since things are back to normal can I have the U of M, OSU tickets for next week?"

"In your dreams, sonny boy!"

"Just kidding," he said chuckling, "bye"

`Yeah, right, just kidding,' I thought. `But, if I had said yes you would have been here in a flash Petey my boy, he he.'

I hung up the phone. We stepped into a full body embrace. I couldn't describe the feeling of completeness I now had. A year ago I was a depressed widower with no idea where my future would go. Now, my life once again had meaning. I had some mysterious assurance that Patti was at peace. All my children were now willing to go on with me and my partner. I kissed him hard on the lips.

"Happy Thanksgiving."

"Ubetchim."

((((O)))))

Andy and I sat on the couch side by side, my arm around his shoulders playing with the hair on the back of his neck. His head was on my chest, his left arm on my stomach. He idly made a circular movement with his hand; occasionally taking a few strands of hair between his thumb and forefinger, twizzeling them there. I released a contented sigh. This caused Jake, the big yellow lab, who was nestled in between my feet to raise his head and thump his tail on the carpet. In response Annie, the Shepherd, looked up from her nest behind Andy's knees and surveyed the scene.

I looked around the room. The lights of the Christmas tree were emitting a gentle glow that illuminated the bay windows with their Christmas villages and snowscapes. Our second Christmas together was getting off to a good start.

"David," Andy said, "Do you like the wine?"

Andy had given me a bottle of Merlot; more expensive than anything I had ever drunk before.

"It's wonderful," I replied. "Thank you." I kissed him on the top of the head. I smiled inwardly, thinking of how I had given up wine, my one real indulgence, to support Andy in his quest for sobriety through his attendance at AA meetings. He felt badly about my voluntary abstinence as he was feeling his coming into my life was causing too many sacrifices on my part. He was right on one count. I had made sacrifices to make our life together work. But, too many? Hardly. He had become so important to me that I was more than willing to make as many as needed to insure we had a long and happy life together.

There were times during this first year that I wasn't all that sure it was going to happen. But, we had survived it and now things seemed to be straightening out. Our second Christmas together was definitely going to be easier than the first.

"Has Meg called with the Christmas agenda yet?" Andy asked.

Meg had called several times as had Kathy and Mike. They all wanted to hear the story of Thanksgiving from our side of the fence. They'd talked to Pete, now they wanted our interpretation. Yes, we said we slept in separate bedrooms. No, it wasn't a problem for us. It made Peter more comfortable. Yes, they had invited his usual crowd over for the all day bash of beer and football and a buffet turkey dinner. Yes, he introduced us as a couple. No, no one seemed offended. Yes, it was a great time. Yes, Peter and Angie were really looking forward to Christmas in Ann Arbor.

"No, but I expect her to call any time now." Referring to his question about Meg's Christmas agenda call.

"Take the phone off the hook."

I looked at him.

"Take the phone off the hook, please."

I did.

He got up and went to the chest. He took out the fleece blankets and spread them on the floor. He arranged the throw pillows. He stood in the middle of the `bed' in front of Claudia. Her lights made him a silhouette. He undressed. God, he was beautiful. The lights filtered translucently through the red hair of his body. I caught my breath.

He took my hand and pulled me to my feet. With tender touches and with care he removed my clothing. We stood in the glow of light and caressed and kissed. We sank to our knees, and then he lay down on his back.

"It's your turn."

I smiled at him.

"Yes, I'm sure," he said in answer to my unasked question.

Slowly I brought us to full arousal. Carefully I prepared him for his first experience of being the receiver of male to male love. Again using our natural lubricants I massaged him until he was relaxed and open. I knelt over him. I had waited for this moment for so long. I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted to show him how much I loved him. He laid his legs on my shoulders. His hands were at his sides. His eyes were closed, his breathing deep and regular. He was fully erect.

I brought my throbbing, protuberant tumescence to the entrance and with slow steady pressure passed the ring. He shuddered. His mouth was trembling. I bent and kissed it. He raised his arms around my neck. I lowered myself further. He relaxed. Further, further until he exhaled and accepted the full length of me inside him. He opened his eyes.

"Merry Christmas, David."

"Happy Anniversary, Andrew."

End of Year One.