Chapter 16

The following fictional narrative involves sexually-explicit erotic events between men.  If you shouldn't be reading this, please move on.

In the world of this story, the characters don't always use condoms.  In the real world, you should care enough about yourself and others to always practice safe sex.

The author retains all rights.  No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the author's consent.  

The town of Stafford, the Sunrise Arts Center, and the characters in this story are fictitious.

Thanks to Mickey and Drew, who have provided inspiration, advice, and encouragement throughout the writing of this series.


Sunrise was open only on Monday and Tuesday during the week after Christmas.  We were closed Wednesday, New Year's Eve, and we didn't reopen until Monday, January 5.  I'd told Jerome he could let Lakeesha take care of the custodial chores those two days, and I'd told Jean I could handle things without her.  That way both of them would have nearly two weeks off.

I got there at 8:30 on Monday, a half hour before the galleries opened.  Only Sunrise itself would be open those two days since no one would be using the Music Hall.  I was surprised to find Jean in her office.  She stood up when I came in, and we hugged.  I asked about her trip to Fort Meyers to see her parents, and she said it had been lovely.  They'd enjoyed the dry, sunny, warmth of southern Florida, and she said she was relieved to find both of them in good health.  They'd spent a day on Sanibel/Captiva, and she said they'd all enjoyed that.

Becoming more businesslike, she told me she'd opened the accumulated mail and put on my desk the stuff she thought I needed to see, along with some messages she'd taken from the voice mail.  

Then she asked me about my Christmas, and I told her about going to the Christmas Eve service and having lunch the next day with Father Gary.

"I'm glad you weren't alone all the time, boss," she said, smiling her motherly smile.  "I worried about you."

"You were sweet to worry, Jean, but I made out just fine."

"You made out?" she asked, grinning at me.

I think I blushed:  the curse of being blond and fair-skinned.  "Well, no, not that way."

As she sat down at her desk, she winced slightly.

"Now, Whitney, you must tell me who gave you those gorgeous studs.  Somebody must like you a lot."

"What makes you think they're a gift?"

"Oh, I just assumed.  But whoever picked them out has good taste.  I don't suppose I know this person," she said, smiling sweetly.

`I haven't seen him since I opened the package, so I haven't even thanked him for them yet.  I think I ought to do that before I tell anyone where they came from."

`But I do know him, right?  Or do you have a secret lover?"

I laughed.  "Yes, you know him.  That's all I'm going to say.  Now, what's up with the pain?

"Oh, it's nothing.  We had to sleep on a pull-out bed at my folks' place, and I'm down in the back.  That long trip home in the car didn't help, either.  I just can't get comfortable."

"Then, my sweet, loyal friend, go home.  You weren't supposed to be here today anyway.  Take care of yourself.  And don't set foot in this place until next Monday."

"Whitney, are you sure you don't need me?"

"You're absolutely indispensable, madam, but I think I can struggle through today and tomorrow.  Now, git!"

We hugged again, wished each other Happy New Year, and she went on her way.  

Jean's office has monitors which show each of the galleries plus the entry/reception area.  The reception desk is usually staffed by volunteers, most of whom are retirees like Jon Baker.  As I checked the monitors before leaving Jean's office, I noticed that Louis was sitting at the reception desk, so I went down the hall to say hello.

"Louis, what are you doing here?"

He stood up and hugged me, giving me a quick peck on the lips as well.  God, he was so cute!  I wanted to hold on and give him a real kiss, but reason won out over libido.

"Miss Jean told me the volunteer coordinator was having a hard time finding somebody to take the desk this morning, so I said I'd do it.  I've done it before on weekends, you know."

"No, I didn't know that.  But look, I suspect it's going to be really quiet here this morning.  I can handle things if you have better things to do.  Don't you want to be with Judd?"

He grinned.  "Judd is coming here.  He was gonna stop by Mickey D's and get us some breakfast and then stick around to keep me company."

"That's great, then, if you guys don't mind."

"Hey, I don't care where I am as long as I'm with my lover."

"Lover?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

He grinned from ear to ear.  "Oh, yeah.  We're lovers as of Christmas night.  And I want to thank you for being such a good teacher.  I taught Judd, and he's a quick learner."

I chuckled.  "I think that's about all the information I need.  But I'm glad you and Judd have found each other.  You're both pretty special guys."

"Well, you brought us together, Whitney, and I thank you for that."

"As I said, I'm glad it worked out.  I didn't actually know I was matchmaking when I helped Judd find a tutor.  Now, I'll get back to my office.  And, uh, Louis?"

"Yes, sir?"

"You and Judd will be discreet here this morning, won't you?  Jerome told me about the incident in the green room."

Someone else might have been or tried to look ashamed, but Louis just gave me another of his big smiles and said, "Yeah, we'll behave boss."

Chuckling at his use of Jean's word for me, I started back toward my office.  Then I had a thought and went back to where Louis was sitting.

"Louis, have you told Judd about that night when you came to my house and we "

"No way, Whitney.  That's was just between us."

"Thanks for your discretion.  But you know, if you and Judd are really a couple, you should probably tell him sometime.  We can count on him not to tell anybody, can't we?  There'd be a bunch of trouble if anyone else knew about it."

"I'm sure he'd keep our secret.  And, yeah, you're right.  I probably oughta tell him."

"I'll leave that up to you."

He got up and hugged me again, making sure to grind his crotch into mine.  My cock, which had just about returned to normal, got hard again instantly.

"Louis, you're too much!  What am I gonna do with you?"

"You need to get yourself a man, honey!" he said, grinning.

I gave him a quick kiss and went back to my office, where I actually managed to get some work done.

About 10:00 I looked up to see Jerome standing in the doorway.  Wearing khaki shirt and trousers, he looked, as always, incredible.  I couldn't help noticing the hefty bulge in his pants.

I stood and walked around the desk.  "Come here, stud, and give me a hug."

He looked startled at first but then grabbed me and almost squeezed the breath out of me.  His package pressed against my pubic area.  I remember thinking that if one more sexy guy hugged me that morning I'd probably cream my jeans.

"Jerome, I thought Lakeesha was going to be here today and tomorrow."

"And hello to you, too, Whitney," he said.  I could feel his breath hitting my ear.  He let me go, and I hurried behind the desk and sat to hide my erection.  I waved him to a chair.

"I told Lakeesha I'd take care of things this week so she could be home with her kids.  They're out of school for the holidays, and she didn't have anyone to watch them if she came to work.

"I didn't realize she was a single mother."

"She's not.  But her husband, Earl, works at a body shop, and they needed him this week."

"You're a good man, Jerome."

"Nah, I just try to help out when I can."

"That's exactly what I mean."

He gave me an embarrassed grin.  "Okay, okay."  Pausing, he cleared his throat. "Whitney, you're my boss, but I feel like you may be the best white friend I've ever had."

"Yeah, big guy, it doesn't matter a bit to me what jobs we do here.  I think of you as a good friend."

I got up, went around the desk, and sat beside him, turning the chair so I was facing him, our knees almost touching.

"Now, what's up?  Is there a problem I can help with?"

He smiled.  "Not a problem exactly.  I want to tell you something and maybe ask your advice."

I got up, closed the door, and sat back down.  I reached across the desk, picked up the phone, and punched a button.

"Louis, if anyone calls for me, please take a message."

He sounded as if he was chewing something, but he managed to say, "Sure, Whitney."

I turned back to Jerome and asked, "What's up?"

"Since you came to Stafford has anybody given you a hard time about being gay?"

"You know, I expected there would be some problems, but there haven't been really.  Oh, the Alliance lost a couple of contributors and a volunteer or two quit, but no one has ever been unpleasant to me about it.  Why?  Are you having trouble?"

"No, not yet.  But then I'm not out.  I was just wondering what might happen."

"Are you thinking of coming out?"

"Well, yes, kind of."

I didn't say anything, waiting for him to explain.

"Gary tells me you spent some time with him on Christmas Day."

I nodded my head.

"Then you know that he and I have gotten to be pretty good friends."

"I knew he felt that way."

"Well, I feel that way about him, too.  I really like him.  You know, as in like him a lot?"

"Got it."

"You and I, Whitney, we're just friends, right?"

"Yeah, Jerome, like brothers."  I wasn't exactly sure that was true.  I couldn't help a pang of jealousy and loss when he told me how he felt about Gary, but he and I had never been anything more than friends.  I suppose I'd always wondered if we could be more to each other, but we'd never had sex, never done anything more demonstrative than hug each other.  I also realized that I couldn't very well think of Jerome as a potential lover as long as I was looking forward to Stuart's return to town and our reunion, which would, I hoped, result in another all-night sex romp.

He smiled broadly at me.  "Like brothers.  That's good.  So I can always come to you for advice, like you were my big brother?"

"You can count on that.  Does that mean I can call you `bro'?"

He chuckled, "Sure, but you might wanna be careful where and when you call me that."

I grinned back at him.  "There's more you wanted to talk about, isn't there?"

He ran a hand over his shaved head.  "Yeah.  I'd like to keep on seeing Gary, but it seems like there are a lot of reasons why we shouldn't."

I thought I knew what he had in mind, but I just waited for him to go on.

"His boss, Father Glenn, and I guess the vestry members of Holy Trinity know he's gay.  From what he says, they've never kept that a secret from the whole congregation."

"That's what he's told me, yeah."

"He needs to be very careful, though.  It's one thing for folks to know you're gay and another to openly have a partner."

"Yes, I understand that could be tricky."

"Besides that, if I'm seen often with Gary, the folks at my church are automatically going to assume I'm gay, and so far I don't think anyone at First Methodist has a clue."

"I see the problem, Jerome."

"So the question is, what do we do?"

How could I answer that?  I put my hand on his knee and looked into his beautiful brown eyes.  

"Damn, I don't know.  Be careful?  Follow your heart?  Have you talked with Gary about all this?"

"Yeah, man, we've talked about it a lot.  You know, I want to get the little guy into bed, but he won't have sex with me unless we decide to make a commitment.  He says he just can't have casual sex.  It goes against all he believes in.  And I honor him for that."

"But you're burning, as St. Paul says?"

He chuckled.  "Oh, yeah.  We're both burnin'.  But Paul says it's `better to marry than to burn.'  I think Gary and I might both like to marry, but of course we can't.  So what do we do?"

"Jerome, Gary is a far better moral guide than I am.  I honestly don't know what to tell you.  I love you, and I'm very fond of him.  I wish you two could be together.  I guess it all depends on what you're willing to give up."

"And that sucks!" he said with vehemence.

"Amen, brother."

"Whitney, are you a prayin' man?"


"Pray for us?"

I hugged him, this time without pressing our bodies too closely together.  "You got it, big guy."  He smiled and hugged me again.  My cock began to stir.  I was really horny that morning.

"Jerome, if you've gotten everything done you think you need to do today, why don't you take off?  I'll take care of locking up."

"Thanks, but I really don't have any reason to go home."  Then he grinned.  "Tell ya what.  I'm gonna call and see if Gary's free for lunch.  I'll stop by here before I go home."

"Say `hi' to Gary for me."

After Jerome left, I went into Jean's office to get something.  As usual, I glanced at the monitors.  I noted that Judd had arrived and that he and Louis were sitting together at the reception desk, apparently poring over a book.  The camera was behind and above them, so I could see them as well as the main entrance, which the desk faced.

Something about them appeared strange, so I looked again.  They did indeed have a book spread out on the desk, but each had his hand in the other's lap.  No one who came in the door could tell what they were doing because the desk hid them. .

I should have gone down there and made them quit, but I just stood there, fascinated, watching them.  There was just enough movement to indicate they were stroking each other.  I hoped it was through their pants.  That was too much!  I closed the door and sat in Jean's chair, where I stared at the monitor.  I remembered the photographs of Louis, both the erotic and the pornographic ones.  I remembered the night he spent with me to "celebrate" his eighteenth birthday.  I thought of his beautiful body.

I had never seen Judd naked, of course, though I could remember him in his soccer uniform.  The same height as Louis, close to six feet, he was bigger in the chest and shoulders.  His legs, too, were sturdier, with well-muscled thighs and calves.  

I imagined the two of them naked, in bed, writhing together.  I put one hand to my nipple and began rubbing my hard cock with the other.

As I became increasingly worked up, Louis and Judd turned their faces toward each other and kissed.  I could feel that I was about to come.  Then Louis looked over his shoulder at the camera and grinned.  That was all it took.  I exploded into my boxers.

I sat there gasping for a moment, realizing that I had just been a voyeur and had gotten off watching the boys.  Then I discovered I had a problem.  I went into my office and quickly removed my shoes and jeans so I could get out of the silk boxers before my semen soaked through to my jeans.  I dropped the boxers on the floor and then used some Kleenex to wipe myself off.  After I'd put my jeans and shoes back on, I still had the wet, smelly underpants to deal with.  I'd have thrown them away, but I was afraid Jerome or, worse, Lakeesha would find them.  My eye lighted on a seldom-used briefcase, into which I hurriedly put the boxers.

A moment later there was a tap on the door.  Jerome was there.  He sort of nodded toward Jean's office and asked, "You looked at the reception area monitor lately?"


He grinned.  "Yeah.  You must have.  It smells like cum in here."

I'm sure I turned ten shades of red.  "Busted!"

"Sorry, Whitney.  Didn't mean to embarrass you.  I just came back to tell you that I am meeting Gary for lunch, and he said to invite you to come along if you wanted to."

"Thanks, Jerome, but I think I'd better stay here.  I don't want to leave the boys alone, nor the volunteer who comes on for the afternoon shift.  Besides, you and Gary will have more fun without me."

"Okay, boss."  He turned to leave but then turned back toward me.  "Are you going to say anything to the boys?"

"Yeah, I guess I'd better."

He went on his way, and I strolled down to the reception desk.

"Hey, guys, thanks for being here this morning!"

"No prob, Whitney," Louis said, grinning.

I turned to the blond boy and said, "Judd, it's nice of you to keep Louis company.  This could have been a pretty boring morning for him.  I don't think the phone has rung at all, has it?"

"No, sir, it hasn't, but we enjoy being together."

About that time a couple came in and signed the guest register.  I told them who I was and welcomed them to Sunrise.  Louis handed them a brochure about the current exhibits, and they went into one of the main galleries.

"Those are the first people we've had today, aren't they?"

"Uh huh," Louis said, "it's really quiet.  But then it is the Monday morning after Christmas."

"Well, you two, thanks again for giving up part of your vacation to be here.  I appreciate it.  Would you have your replacement give me a call when he or she arrives?"

"Sure, Whitney."

"Oh, and guys "     I pointed toward the security camera behind them.  "You might want to keep that in mind."

Judd blushed as red as I was, probably, when Jerome mentioned the cum smell in my office.  Louis just grinned.

I had brought a sandwich and an apple with me.  I stopped by the kitchen to retrieve them from the fridge.  I nuked myself a cup of tea while I was there, and then took it all back to my office.  

As I ate, I thought back over the morning.  I was ashamed that I'd had a twinge of jealousy when Jerome spoke of becoming friends with Gary.  I was really fond of Jerome.  But did I want more than friendship from him?  Admittedly he was a handsome man, a guy I'd have been happy to have sex with if we were going to start some sort of real relationship.  But I'd gotten close to Stuart, and I was eager to see where that was going.  Although Stuart was very different from Jerome physically, both were sweet, sexy, gentle men.  But Stu and I had our mutual interest in art.  

And then there was Chave.  He'd turned out to be different than I had expected.  There was no question that he was great looking.  And he'd been nothing but nice to me from the time I'd met him.  He'd kept popping into my thoughts throughout that holiday period, even though he was in Raleigh with his rich, snobbish family, perhaps even hob-nobbing with my rich, snobbish family.  In addition to being sexy, he was smart, and he had good taste.  After all, he'd commissioned me to do him a piece.  I had a momentary qualm that I should be working on that during what remained of the break.  Dammit, yes, I was attracted to Chave.  

Chave?  Could he have been the one who sent the flowers on Christmas Eve?  That sort of gesture seemed in keeping with his style.  But was he interested in me?  I hadn't thought so.  Strange.

I threw the sandwich bag, the napkin, the apple core, and the paper bag into my trash.  I realized that to one degree or another I was attracted to all three guys.  But was any one of them the right one?  I didn't want to make a mistake again like the one I made with Kyle.  But I had come to know myself well enough to understand that I craved a certain domesticity.  I needed a partner, preferably a life partner.  Stu appeared to be the guy.  Why was I even thinking about anyone else?  

I heaved a sigh, and realized that my office now smelled of apple and cum.  Thinking how happy I would be to hear from Stuart when he got back to Stafford, that evening, supposedly, I grabbed the briefcase with my boxers in it and took it out to my car, where I deposited it in the trunk.

Walking back to the building, enjoying freeballing for the first time in a long time, I heard someone say my name.  I turned around and saw Jonathan coming from his car.

"Jon, what are you doing here?"

We shook hands and he walked with me.  

"I'm filling in for Lila Carruthers this afternoon.  She has her son and his family here this week."

"I'm sure Louis and Judd will be happy to see you.  They've been here all morning, so I expect they're ready for their lunch."

When we got to the reception area, Jon shook hands with the boys and they chatted for a few minutes.  After they had left, I took Judd's chair and sat with Jonathan.  I had nothing important to do in the office, and we hadn't had a chance to talk since Christmas Eve.


Our lovemaking the night of Christmas Eve/Christmas Day was more passionate than one might expect from a couple of old farts.  As planned, Frank and I slept late Christmas morning, got up, had breakfast, opened the rest of our gifts, and just loafed around the rest of the day, often exchanging kisses and caresses.

On Saturday afternoon I called Doug and Stan to tell them our good news.  They both wanted to talk with Frank, and we were on the phone, using the extension, for about an hour.  My Florida friends were delighted for us, and they said they'd like to come and see us when the weather in our area became "tolerable."

Frank stayed with me until Sunday morning, when he wanted to go home to get clothes for church.  On Friday and Saturday we read, ate, snuggled, ate, watched television, and ate.  I was beginning to feel bloated and told him that the first of the week we'd better hit the gym.  He laughingly agreed.

We met for church on Sunday morning.  Then we separated again.  I was to come to his place late in the afternoon.  We were going to fix dinner together, and then I'd stay the night.  We'd decided the next morning we'd go to the gym together, and after lunch I'd go to Sunrise where I'd agreed to staff the desk for the usual Monday afternoon person, who had family in town for the holidays.

Things didn't quite turn out as planned that Sunday, however.

About mid-afternoon the doorbell rang.  I was surprised to see my old friend Burke Davis standing there.  He was dressed in a handsome leather coat, under which he wore a cashmere sweater over a button-down shirt, and brown flannel slacks.  But he looked terrible.  

"Burke, come in."

Inside, I took his coat.  "It's nice to see you."  I wondered why he was there, since I didn't think he'd just drop in without calling first, but I knew he'd tell me when he was ready.  "Did you and Marcy have a nice Christmas?"

"No, Jon, we didn't."

"Come into the living room.  Can I get you anything?"

"Yes, please.  I could really use a bourbon and water."

I fixed one for him and one for myself.  Handing him his drink, I sat in the wingback facing the one he was sitting in.

"Would it help to tell me about it?" I asked, assuming that's why he was there.

"Yeah, bud, it would."

I didn't say anything, waiting for him to go on.

"Marcy's driving me crazy.  She's become insanely jealous.  She thinks you're a threat to our marriage.  I've tried to tell her I've hardly seen you since last fall when you came to dinner, but she won't believe me.  Any time I'm late getting home from the office, she assumes I'm with you.  If I have to go out in the evening, she's sure we're having an assignation.  We're even sleeping in separate bedrooms."

He took a swallow of his drink and then ran a hand through his silver hair.  "I don't know what's caused this or what I should do.  I've never been unfaithful to her, except in my fantasies, and what married man hasn't had a few of those?  Of course," he looked up at me, "I suppose most married men's fantasies are about women, not other men.  I confess most of mine are gay fantasies, a lot of which have been about you."

"Damn, Burke, I'm so sorry.  Obviously things were fine between you two before you and I met up that evening.  Don't you think eventually if you keep reassuring her, she'll see reason?"

"I sure as hell hope so!  But it's been going on for over a month now, and I'm at my wits' end.  She managed to hold things together at Christmas, but now she's off on another of her sulks.  She either sits in our room and stares out the window, refusing to let me in or to talk to me, or she's rattling around in the kitchen getting meals.  Then when we eat, she keeps up a constant stream of recrimination.  She's accused me of being unfaithful the whole time we've been married and of having trysts with you two or three times a week since you got to town.  She knows you've been here for a couple of years, and she's convinced we've been getting it on the whole time.  She actually said the other day that I had a lot of nerve to bring my fag friend to our house for Sunday dinner."

"I'm not a trained counselor, of course, but it sounds to me as if her problem goes beyond mere jealousy.  Have you suggested that she see either a marriage counselor or a psychiatrist?"

"Oh, yeah, and she just says the problem is mine, not hers."  He took another big swallow of his drink.  "Jonny, I'm sorry to dump all of this on you.  But I didn't have anyone else to talk to."  

Burke had another drink and then another.  As the afternoon wore on, I realized I'd have to call Frank.  I couldn't just make Burke leave.  He desperately needed a friend right then, and I was clearly the only person who'd fit the bill in that situation.

When Frank and I realized we were serious about each other, I'd told him about my high school relationship with Burke.  I'd also told him about the uncomfortable dinner with Burke and Marcy.  When I called him, he'd just said to do what I had to and come on over when I could.

"Should I start supper?" he asked.

"Babe, I don't think you'd better count on me for supper.  I'll be there as soon as I can, but I really can't just shove Burke out the door."

"Of course."

"Thanks for being understanding.  You know, don't you, that I always want to be with you?"

"Yeah.  So go to Burke.  I love you."

"I love you."

Frank said all the right things, but I sensed from his tone of voice that he was unhappy.  

Burke, however, after his third drink, seemed to relax.  He wanted to talk, to reminisce about our high school times.  

To make a long story short, when I offered to fix pancakes and sausages, he gladly agreed to stay.

He helped me clear the table and load the dishwasher.  Then we took coffee to the living room and talked some more.  He seemed to need the security of being with a friend, a far cry from the confident, polished attorney and former D.A.

About 9:00 he moved from his chair to sit beside me on the sofa.  

"Jon, would you just hold me?"

What could I do?  I put my arms around him.  He rested his head against mine and sighed.

"This is nice.  I've missed you so much, Jonny.  Even though I've loved Marcy and adored my kids, I've been lonely all these years."

"Come on, Burke.  I'm sure you haven't been pining for me the whole time."

"Oh, no, of course not.  I've met other attractive men, had crushes on some of them.  And, as I told you, hard as it's been, I've never been unfaithful to my wife except in my fantasies.  But I have to say, I've thought of you often.  I wish I'd had the guts to do what you did and admit who and what I was."

"Well, I went a long way from here, Burke, where no one knew me, no one had any expectations of me.  That made it easier.  You stayed close to home.  I'm sure that made a difference."

"Yeah.  But I just want you to know that I admire you.  And envy you, too, of course."

Thinking the best thing was just to let him talk, I didn't say anything.  

"The thing is, I still have feelings for you.  I know you have a commitment to Frank now, bud, but if you didn't, I'd like to think that we might have . . ."

"Shh!  Don't say it.  You are a man of integrity.  Even if I were free, you'd have an obligation to Marcy.  You'd have to think about your kids, your career."

"I can retire any time I want, so fuck my career.  The kids would be shocked if their mother and I divorced, but they'd get used to it.  They're a different generation, and I think both of them had gay friends in college.  If only you weren't with Frank."

I kissed him on the forehead.  "Yes, my dear old friend, but I am with Frank.  I ache for you, but I can't be of any help except to be a sympathetic listener."

He smiled at me, tears in his eyes.  "I know, Jonny, and I'm gonna need you for that if you're willing.  I don't know what's ahead for Marcy and me, but I'll need your shoulder, if that won't cause problems with Frank."

"I'm sure I can make him understand.  Just know that I'm here when you need me."

He sighed again.  "I love you, Jon."

I squeezed him.  "I love you, too, bud.  As an old friend."

"Yeah, I understand.  I'm grateful for that."

It was ten o'clock before he left.  He told me he was registered at a downtown hotel. He said he just wasn't ready to face Marcy that evening.

I made him promise me that he'd call her as soon as he got to the hotel, and he said he would.  I was reluctant to let him drive, but he hadn't had anything to drink since supper, and he assured me he was all right.

I brushed my teeth and gargled with Scope, grabbed some clothes, and got to Frank's about 10:30.  When he kissed me, he said, "You've had a bit to drink, haven't you?  I can smell the booze on your breath, along with the mouthwash, you know."

I pulled him into the living room, made him sit next to me on the sofa, and told him the whole story.  

When I'd finished, I took one of his hands and asked, "Are you pissed with me, hon?"

"Not pissed.  You did what you had to.  I admit I was a little jealous and worried when you told me you were going to cancel our dinner plans because your high school boyfriend was at your house.  But you obviously didn't have any choice.  You were just being a good friend."

"Thanks, love for understanding.  Let's go to bed. I want to show you who's first in my life."

He smiled.  "Sounds good to me."

Although we had stayed in bed late on Christmas morning, neither of us was by nature a late sleeper.  That Monday morning we had breakfast at 7:00.  Frank had his course outlines in good shape for the new term, which began after the holidays, so we went to the gym first and then the supermarket.  We unloaded his groceries at his place, and then I went on to my house to restock my larder.  We met at Applebee's for lunch, after which he returned home and I went to Sunrise.

After I chatted for a few minutes with Judd and Louis, who had been staffing the desk that morning, Whitney sat with me for a while.

"Those boys seem particularly sunny today, Whitney.  What's up with them?"

He grinned.  "I don't want to tell tales out of school, but I think they may have taken their relationship a step further on Christmas.  Louis dropped a few not too subtle hints that something of the sort was going to happen."

"They're both great kids, and it's good to see them enjoying each other so much."

"I've been wondering if their obvious love for each other is likely to cause problems at school."

"It could.  I think you know that Frank and I have privately committed to each other.  We'd like to make a public commitment, but there's the problem of the school for him, too."

He put his arm around me.  "Congratulations, my friend.  I don't know Frank well, but he seems like a fine man.  I wish you both much happiness.  And I'm looking forward to getting to know your new partner better.  But about school?  Surely he isn't in the closet.  After all, he's been prominently involved in the book group at church."

"I think Frank has to walk on eggs at Stafford High.  He's known to be gay, and so far there haven't been any real problems.  But what would happen if he were to suddenly acquire a gay partner is something that he's worried about.  We would like to live together, but we've agreed that we can't do that yet.  We're going to be discreet, to maintain a low profile."

"Is there any sort of gay organization at the high school?"

"No, more's the pity."

"Seems to me somebody should get busy and organize one.  Frank's not the only gay teacher on the staff, and statistically at least ten percent of the student body should be gay."

"You know of another gay teacher at the high school?"

"Oh, yeah," he said, grinning at me. "Or at least bi."

"And who would that be, pray tell?"

"Jon, I don't want to out the guy.  I think you can understand that."

"Of course I do.  Sorry I asked.  Can you tell me this:  is it somebody you're interested in?"

He grinned again.  "You could say that."

Just then the phone rang.  

"Sunrise Arts Center.  This is Jonathan.  How may I direct your call?"

"Jon, it's me.  I've just heard a news flash on the radio.  It's about your friend Burke . . ."

To be continued