Chapter 20

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.

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


The Saturday morning at the end of the first full week of January, Frank dragged me out of bed bitching and moaning to go work out.  I knew the importance of doing that, especially for guys our age, but getting up early on a gray, cold January morning when we could have stayed in bed and snuggled was particularly repellant.  He was insistent, however, and I knew he was right.  I grumbled at him from time to time as we drove to the gym and worked out, but he knew I wasn't really serious.

I'd done the grocery shopping the day before while he was at work, but we needed to stop by the drug store and pick up some prescriptions I'd phoned in.  By the time we got back to my place, where he was spending the weekend, it was nearly 11:00.  We'd just taken off our coats and started the coffee maker when the phone rang.

"Jon, it's Doug.  And Stan's on the extension."

"Hi, Doug, it's great to hear from you guys!  How was your holiday?"

"Very nice.  Mark, Stan's son, was here for about ten days, so we were able to get caught up with him."

"How's he doing?"

It was Stan who answered.  "He's at Yale Law, you know.  He's really busy, of course, but he's doing very well.  He makes this papa proud.  But he broke up with his girlfriend some time back, or she broke up with him, and I think he's lonely."

"Mark's a great guy and a stud, like his old man, so I think he'll find the right woman whenever he decides he's ready," Doug added.  "It looks to me like right now he just wants to concentrate on his law studies."

I had put my hand over the mouthpiece and told Frank to get on the extension in the study when I found out who was calling.

"So, how are you two lovebirds getting along?"  It was Stan who asked.

"Oh, I'm loving it, but I think I'm wearing old Jon out," Frank said, chuckling.

"Wait just a damned minute," I said.

"You should have heard him complaining when I got him up to go work out this morning."

Stan chuckled.  "Yeah, Dougie doesn't always want to go to the Y with me, especially on Saturday mornings."

We talked a bit more, and then Doug asked "What's your weather like?"

"Yeah, yeah, I know.  You Floridians always ask about our weather so you can gloat over yours."

Doug laughed.  "Well, it was in the upper forties this morning, but it's headed for the low seventies.  And you know it doesn't rain this time of the year, so it's gloriously sunny."

"Bastard!  It's cold and gray here.  That's one of the reasons I wasn't too enthusiastic about going to the gym with Frank this morning."

Having gotten the weather out of the way, one of them asked how things were going in Stafford.

I told them about the letter in the Sentinel and the stir it had caused around town.

"You guys be careful.  Watch your backs," Stan said.  "We know what it's like to be the targets of the homophobes."

"Really?  I don't think you mentioned that when I was there."

"Yeah," Doug said, "when it first became known around Lake Polk that we were a couple, I had trash dumped all over my yard, and someone vandalized the top of Stanley's Thunderbird.  And that was while Stan was city manager!"

"Have things calmed down for you guys now?" Frank asked.

"People tend to let us alone.  Besides, we have a lot of friends in the Black and Latino communities since Stan began to provide those folks reasonably-priced legal services.  We aren't out calling attention to ourselves.  We just live our lives and don't make waves."

"That sucks," I said.  "Why do you live there?"

"Well, we love the climate.  And we feel as if we're doing some good here.  We're not ready just yet to go to the Keys and become beachcombers or whatever."

"Uh oh," Frank said.  "I'm thinking of retiring at the end of this year.  You guys make me feel guilty."

"Are you two going to stay in Stafford?"

We hadn't talked about it, but I'd assumed we would, though it occurred to me just then that we could travel together after Frank retired.

"Yeah, probably."

"Well," Stan said, "I'll bet the two of you stay involved in the community."

"Look, guys," I said, "Frank and I are thinking of having a commitment ceremony this summer, after school's out.  We'd love it if you'd come up for it."

"We'll be there," Doug said.  "Just let us know when."

We talked for a while longer and then we hung up.

A little later, as we had our lunch, Frank said, "You know, hon, before we start planning any sort of ceremony for ourselves this summer, maybe we'd better wait until we see how things work out."

I put down my soup spoon and looked at him with some concern.  "How things work out between us?"

He grinned and reached across the table, taking my hand.  "Of course not, silly!  I was thinking of the letter to the Sentinel.  We don't know what the fallout's going to be from that.  I hope the bastard who signed himself "Disgusted" won't have polarized the community, but it could turn out that way.  If things haven't calmed down, I don't imagine Whitney would want us calling attention to Sunrise by having our ceremony there.  In fact, it might not be a good idea to have it outdoors anywhere unless we're sure we won't be asking for trouble."

I squeezed his hand.  "Okay, lover, maybe we'd better wait and see.  It won't make any difference to how much I love you.  I'd just like to tell the world, that's all."

He squeezed back.  "We'll do it sometime, babe.  If not this summer, then whenever we can.  Ever thought about moving to New England?"


Mr. Cummings was so cool!

He'd told us on Wednesday that there would probably be letters in the Sentinel for the next several days about the one submitted by "Revolted."  He asked us to read those letters before we came to his class if we possibly could.

He was right.  There were a couple of letters on Thursday and a bunch on Friday.  In class both days he told us to analyze the rhetoric and the logic of one or more of the letters.  He said it didn't matter what we believed.  He just wanted us to look carefully at how the writer had attempted to sway our opinion.

You know what?  Just about everybody got it that the letters supporting "Revolted" were mostly emotional.  The calm, reasonable letters were written by the people who opposed what he had said.  That didn't change everybody's mind.  There were still a few kids in that class who insisted homosexuality was either a perversion or against God's law or both.  But I think even they saw that the best letters in the Sentinel were from readers who counseled calm and tolerance.  Mr. Cummings suggested that the anti-gay students might want to write their own letters, but he urged them to use what they were learning about logic and rhetoric and write the most persuasive letters they could, not the most inflammatory.

Of course, all of that was the major topic of discussion around Stafford High for the rest of the week.  The principal got on the PA system and reminded us that a part of our school code was tolerance and mutual respect, and that derogatory remarks or actions would not be tolerated.  Nobody said anything to us, but Louis and I got some mean looks.

Our parents were still worried, though, and on Friday both sets of them urged us to stay home.  They didn't exactly forbid us to go anywhere, but they really wanted us to be at Louis' place or mine.  We asked if Louis could spend the night with me.  I think everyone was happy with the idea.

We'd chosen my place because we thought my room in the basement was more private than Louis' room on the second floor of the Lefevre house.  He had dinner with his folks and then came over about 7:00.  

We played an x-box game for a while, but that got old.  

He reached in his backpack and pulled out a digital camera.  

"Judd, man, you know for a long time I've wanted to do some studies of you.  Think tonight might be the night?"

I looked him straight in the eye.  "You perv.  By `studies' you mean you want to get me nekkid and take pictures of me, right?"

"Babe, you've got a gorgeous body.  I'm not looking to take porn shots of you.  If you don't want me to, I won't even get your l'il ole pecker in them."

I fell for it.  "Whadda you mean, `l'il ole pecker'?  My dick's as big as yours.  Well, almost."

"Does that mean you'll let me take some pictures with your beautiful dick in them?"

"No!  I mean, well . . . .  Make up your mind, Lefevre.  Is it a little old pecker or a beautiful dick?"

"Aww, stud, you know it's a beautiful, sexy, dick."

"Then this is gonna be porn stuff?"

"No, babe.  You're gettin' all upset over nothing.  I want to take some nude studies of you.  They'll be erotic, but not porno.  You know, like some of those Bernini statues."

Me?  Like a Bernini statue?  No way.  But Louis seemed to think so.

"Well, okay, but this is gonna seem really weird."

"Relax, hunk.  Just take off your clothes and leave the rest to me."

"I love that line.  If only you were gonna fuck me instead of take pictures of me."

He leered at me.  "Well, that can be arranged as a reward, if you're a very good boy."

We moved the furniture so there was a bare wall to use as a backdrop.  I took off my clothes, and my dick was about as shriveled as if I'd just had a really cold shower.  I guess it was embarrassment.  I mean, I'd been naked with Louis a lot since we'd become lovers, but I'd never felt like this before.  

But he teased and encouraged me while he was posing me and snapping away.  He had me standing, kneeling, bending over.  He went out into the rec room and grabbed a bar stool and brought it in and posed me in several positions on that.  

"These would be better if we had floods instead of having to use the flash.  I'll bring along some lights next time."

"Next time?"

"Yeah.  Now that you've gotten used to the idea, why not?  I'd like to put together a portfolio."

"Wait a minute, dude!  Who's gonna see this portfolio?  Not anybody at school.  Not our families.  Nobody in Stafford."

"Well, Whitney, maybe.  And Stuart Blount.  But they'll be cool."

"What's gonna happen?  You three gonna get together and perv over my pictures?  Not on your black ass, Lefevre!"

He put down the camera and came over to me.  He cupped my balls with one hand, put the other behind my head and pulled me into a kiss.  My dick went from limp to hard in no time.  

After we caught our breath, he said, "Baby, baby, you don't have any idea how beautiful you are.  I want to use a portfolio of very tasteful nude shots of you as part of what I have to send in when I apply to UNC, which will be very soon."

"Oh, we're going to UNC?"

"Yeah, it's that or Duke, and I think I'd rather go to Chapel Hill.  Is that okay with you?"

"I guess so.  I wouldn't mind playing soccer for the Tarheels if they'll have me.  But, whoa, wait just a friggin minute!  If you send in those naked pictures of me, what if someone in the Athletic Department sees them?

He grinned.  "Judd, be reasonable.  How much contact do you suppose there is in a big university between people in the Art Department and the Athletic Department?  Besides, when you're the star freshman on the soccer squad, your teammates will all see you naked anyway."

"But not in poses like this, Louis."

"Oh, you worry too much.  You're so up tight, baby.  I think you need Dr. Louis' special relaxation therapy."

"Ohhh, that sounds good."

Soon I was face down on the bed with a naked Louis sitting on my butt.  I could feel his balls just above my crack as he leaned forward and licked the back of my neck.  Then he rose up and began to massage my neck and shoulders.  I might have dozed off it I hadn't been so aware of his balls and cock rubbing the small of my back.  So, though he worked the tension out of my upper body, considerable tension was building in my lower body.  I was rock hard and oozing precum from feeling him wiggling on my butt.  I was trying hard not to hump the bed, but when I felt him begin to dribble precum on my back, I thought it was time to change activities.

"Dude, I don't want to cum on the sheets.  You gotta get off me, man."

"And then what, stud?"

"Get up, and you'll see."

In less than thirty seconds, he was standing beside the bed, I'd gotten the lube and handed it to him and was lying on the bed with my knees pulled back.

"Oh, you vant me to make luff to you?  Vy didn't you chust say so?"

I giggled at his bad Dracula imitation.  "You know, if you want to fuck me, all you have to do is ask.  So shaddup, Count, and get busy!"

He put some lube on my asshole and worked it around.  Then he slowly inserted a finger and began to work it in and out.  God, that felt so good!

"Yeah, man, fuck me with your finger."  I tried to raise my butt to get the finger further inside me.

Soon he had two fingers in and was hitting my nut.

"Oh, damn, Louis.  Don't stop.  That's fantastic.  Yeah, finger fuck me!"

He laughed.  "Judson Thomas, you are a slut.  You love havin' me play with your ass, don't ya?"

"Oh, yesss.  You know how to make me feel good."

Just then he pulled his fingers out.  I felt empty, forsaken.

"Nooo, Louis, don't quit!"

"Just a minute baby."  He was lubing his hard, shiny black cock.

"Oh, yeah, fuck me with that thing.  Now!  I need it!"

"Okay, boy.  Daddy's comin'."

And Daddy entered me with his great cock.  He didn't have to go slow.  He had me so opened up and ready that I think I practically sucked him in.  

He long-dicked me very slowly, and I nearly lost it.  Sometimes it's great to be taken slowly and sweetly, but this wasn't the time.  

"I need it hot and rough, Louis, please babe!"

"Okay, here we go."  He began to piston in and out, rubbing my prostate so often that I practically reached meltdown point.

"Talk dirty to me, Louis."

He obliged, talking such filthy trash I almost didn't recognize it was coming from him.

He knew when I was about to blow.

"Cum for me baby, shoot your jizz all over both of us."

And that's just what I did.  Most of it hit my abs and pecs, but some of it landed on him, too.  As always, I loved to see cum on his beautiful black skin.

"Oh yeah, and now daddy's gonna come inside you, boy!"

I could feel his cock pulsing inside me, but I was still too zoned out to count how many times.  When he was done, he came forward, still in me.  He wiggled around a little so my cum was all over both of us, and then he just lay there, breathing hard.  His breath on my neck almost drove me crazy, but I put my arms around him and held him until we both calmed down.

After a while we decided we needed to shower.  Just then my cell phone rang.  It was Mom calling from upstairs to see if we wanted to come up for cake and ice cream.  She'd had enough tact not to open the door at the head of the stairs and call down to us, fortunately.  We told her we'd be up in fifteen minutes.

We took a quick shower together, pulled on sweat pants and tee shirts, and went upstairs.  I'm pretty sure Mom knew what we'd been up to, but she didn't say anything as she gave us big slices of chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream and glasses of milk.  Black cake, white ice cream.  With milk.  That's what Mr. Cummings would have called an "objective correlative," I think.


The next morning I woke up before Judd.  He looked so sweet and innocent there.  His blond hair, which he hadn't had cut since the end of soccer season, was getting curly.  He looked like a little boy.

I got up and padded into the bathroom to pee.  Then I loaded the pics I'd taken the previous evening into his computer and was looking at them.  There was a whole batch of them, and I was so into them I was startled when I felt Judd's hands on my shoulders.  He leaned down and licked my ear.

"Can't get enough of me, huh?  But why sit here looking at pictures when you've got the real thing?"

"I'll show you the real thing in a minute.  But tell me what you think of these pix."

He looked as I clicked through some of the pictures.

"When I load these onto my computer, I'm going to make some of them black and white and play with the contrast a little.  You'll be surprised how good they look."

"I'm surprised already.  I can't believe that's me.  You can make the camera lie.  I don't look that good."

I stood up, turned around, and put my arms around him.  Then I put my lips close to his ear and whispered, "You look better than any of these pictures, baby.  And the pix can't show how your skin feels or how you smell."  I used as much breath as I could while I was saying that so I was kind of blowing in his ear.

"Jesus, Louis.  You're driving me crazy, man!"

He broke free of my hug, picked me up, and carried me to the bed, where he dumped me like a sack of potatoes.  

"So, whatcha gonna do, crazy man?"

He grinned at me as he grabbed the lube.


That weekend I didn't hear anything from Stuart.  I should have called Saturday but I didn't think it would do any good.  I'd already tried to apologize the night before, and he'd left, obviously angry and hurt.  

I cleaned up the house, did laundry, went to the supermarket, and worked a lot in my studio, thinking all the while about Stuart and Chave.  I kept telling myself that Stuart and I had had something really nice going.  Safe, gentle, and sweet.

Then what was it about Chave?  I'd not liked him when I first met him, but later he was very generous, he was enthusiastic about my glass work, and he seemed to like me.  Besides, he was very sexy, sexy in a different way from Stuart.  Chave was . . . dangerous?

I wasn't sure I liked how forceful he'd been that night I'd spent with him.  He'd insisted I stay with him, he'd controlled the sex.  As I said, he's sexy, but he's also pretty domineering.  Was that what I wanted?  Was that any better than Kyle's indifference?  Why fuck with a good thing?  I was comfortable with Stuart.  Maybe we'd get serious eventually, and that wouldn't be so bad.  I had the impression that Stu had already gotten more serious than I realized.  

I had decided by Sunday night that I'd call the studly big redhead the next evening and try to patch things up with him.  

Then there was the question of who'd sent that Lalique bowl, claiming to be my "secret admirer."  Who could it be?  Chave had sworn he'd not sent me the roses before Christmas, and for some reason I believed him.  "Secret admirer."  That was so hokey.  Tacky, even.  But there was nothing tacky about Waterford or Lalique.  That was all a real puzzler.

Monday morning at Sunrise I got a phone call from a guy who identified himself as Asa Dean.  I knew the name.  I'd seen his byline on a lot of articles in the Sentinel.  He was far and away their best reporter.  He wrote well, and his pieces were always balanced and fair.  He said he'd like to interview me.  He wanted my reaction to the comment in the letter the previous Wednesday claiming, among other things, that Sunrise was a "hotbed of faggotry."  I asked if he'd like to come about 11:00 that day, and he agreed to be there.

He arrived at 11:15, apologetic for being late.  After we introduced ourselves, Jean took his coat and went to get coffee for both of us.  I had a moment to study the man sitting across my desk from me.  He was in his early thirties, I guessed, and a tad shorter than me, maybe 5'7" or 5'8".  His medium brown hair was in need of a cut, and it had a lock that kept falling down over his forehead.  His rimless glasses with little lenses made him look younger, somehow, rather than older.  He had nice brown eyes, but there was something about them, something skittish, I decided.  He looked skinny, or maybe I should say wiry.  He was wearing dark gray dress slacks, a well-worn pair of cordovan loafers, a blue button-down shirt, a darker blue tie, and a gray pullover sweater.  

"Mr. Dean, I've admired your work in the paper.  I'm sure I can trust you not to blow that letter out of proportion."

"Dr. Pell, why don't you just call me Asa?  Everybody does, sooner or later."  He gave me a hint of a smile.

"Okay, Asa, but everybody calls me Whitney."

A little more of a smile.  "Fair enough."

"So, fire away."

"You don't mind if I take notes, do you?"

I expected him to take out a pocket sized tape recorder or something, but he produced a legal pad and a pen.  Somehow I liked that.

"Of course not."

He looked at me very intently.  His eyes were fascinating.  His manner was confident enough, but I sensed he'd been hurt.  When he wasn't actually smiling, he looked small, sad, vulnerable.

Again, there was that shy smile.  "Well, then, let's come straight to the point.  Is Sunrise a hotbed of faggotry?"

The bluntness of his question caught me off guard, and I laughed.

"Hardly.  I'm not sure what that would be, but I can't think how it could describe us."

"Normally, I'd tiptoe around this question, but you've never hidden the fact, as I understand.  You are gay, aren't you?"

"Oh, yes."  I paused to think how to phrase the rest of my response.  "I told the search committee of the Alliance Board of Directors I was gay when I came here last spring for my interview.  I didn't want them to think I was keeping anything back.  They seemed okay with that."

"After you took over as director, were there any negative reactions?"

"Yes, but I was surprised by how few.  A handful of people let their membership in the Alliance lapse, a few of them generous contributors, but we're doing well without them."

"Has anyone said or done anything unpleasant to you?"


He looked down at his pad for about 30 seconds.  I was pretty sure I knew what was coming next.

"Are any other members of the Sunrise staff gay?"

"Asa, I won't answer that question.  Sexual orientation is, or should be, a private matter.  I won't speak for the staff."

He jotted something on his pad.

"What about volunteers?  You have several of them, don't you?"

"Yes, we have about 75 on our list."

"What do they do?"

"All sorts of things.  You met a volunteer at the reception desk when you came in.  We have people who help us with mailings, stuffing envelopes, and that sort of thing.  We have others who help park cars at our concerts.  We have people who work on once-a-year projects like our annual gala."

"Tell me about the gala."

"It's a black-tie affair.  This year it's on Valentine's Day, which is a Saturday.  We have a good orchestra, lots of food, free drinks, a silent auction.  It takes a lot of work to put on something like that, and although our paid staff all work very hard, most of the gala preparation is done by volunteers."

"I see."  He looked at me over his glasses.  "So far as you know, are any of the volunteers committing any sort of gay acts here on the Sunrise, what do you call it, a campus?"

"Yes, we sometimes use that term.  And I don't know of any `gay acts' as you put it being committed by volunteers on Arts Alliance property."  So far, so good.  I hadn't had to lie.  I don't know what I'd have said if he'd phrased a question that could have included Louis and Judd, for they were the only ones I knew of who'd done anything sexual on the premises.  Those two randy boys had been caught twice, once by Jerome and once by me.  

He looked at me and grinned.  For a moment he looked more cocky than haunted.  "Whitney, are you stonewalling me?"

"I admire your balls, Asa.  I suppose someone in my position would be tempted to do that.  But I've tried to answer your questions honestly.  I won't discuss the sexual orientation of Sunrise personnel.  But I think I know pretty much what's going on around here, and I can tell you honestly that I think that letter-writer's claim is absurd.  Just so much typical homophobic bullshit, though I hope you won't quote me on that last comment."

"Okay, I promise I won't."  

"May I ask you a question?"

"Sure, but you realize I've got to protect my sources?"

"Right.  Have you checked out any of the other outrageous allegations in that letter?"

"Last week I talked with Father Gary at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.  Even though the letter hadn't mentioned the name of the church, he was pretty upset.  He admitted that there were several same-sex couples at their New Year's Eve party, but he said they didn't do anything more than dance with each other.  Some of them hugged, as did most of the hetero couples, at midnight."  He paused and looked at me over his glasses again.  "I understand you were there."

"Yeah, I was.  And I'd agree with Father Gary.  If you're appalled by the thought of same sex couples, you'd probably be offended that there were some at that party.  But no one did anything inappropriate that I saw.  They were good kids, letting off a little steam, having fun on New Year's Eve.  There was no alcohol, no drugs, no sexual impropriety in the parish hall."

"That's pretty much what he said."

"Asa, that's the way it was."

He looked like he was about to ask another question when his stomach grumbled loudly.  "Oops!  Sorry about that.  I didn't have time to grab any breakfast this morning."
He was blushing, and I found myself attracted to him.

"Well, it's noon.  What would you think of our going someplace and having lunch?  Did you have plans?"

"No, sounds good," he said, giving me a tentative smile.

I was having trouble reconciling two facets of Asa Dean.  The "ace" reporter was obviously talented not only at writing but at digging out stories.  Yet he seemed at times so wounded.  I wanted to get to know him better.

At Friday's he insisted right off that we have separate checks.  I understood he didn't want to compromise his integrity as a reporter by letting me treat him to lunch.

I tried to sound him out some more about his take on the letter writer.  I was sure the Sentinel wouldn't have published the letter if it had been anonymous.  They'd withhold the name of the writer if asked, but they'd have it on file.  But I knew better than to ask him if he knew the identity of the person.  

"Frankly, Whitney, and this is off the record, please, I think this is just some guy with a wild hair.  I doubt that it's going to lead to violence or any sort of concerted anti-gay campaign in town.  There's no way to be sure of that, of course, but that's my hunch."

"Well, that's a relief."

"Still, it might be a good idea to take this as a signal that the community should be doing more to promote understanding between the straight and gay parts of the population."

"Interesting you should mention that. I understand that some people at the high school are trying to organize a GSA chapter."  I wondered if he'd know what that was.

He looked at me.  His brown eyes were beautiful.

"That's a start.  Do you think there's any chance they'll be successful?"

"From what I hear, it may depend on the Board of Education, and their decision may depend on whether some influential members of the straight community support the effort."

"There's no reason why I can't look into those efforts, is there?"

"None that I can see."

After that, we dropped the "topic of the day" and just chatted.  He told me he'd been named Asa because his father, who taught botany at the University of Pittsburg, had admired the 19th century botanist, Asa Gray.  He'd gone to Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, where he'd majored in English.  Then he'd gotten a Master's in journalism at Penn State.

I asked him what brought him to Stafford.  "That's where the job was.  Every year thousands more people get degrees in journalism than there are jobs.  I was lucky."

"How long have you been here?"

"Six years.  I was in upstate New York for a couple of years.  That wasn't a happy part of my life, so I decided to get out, and to look for a job where the climate was milder while I was at it."

I wondered about the comment about not being happy, but decided I didn't know him well enough to ask about it.

He asked me where I grew up and other "getting to know you" questions.  When we were through with our lunch, we paid our bills and left the restaurant.  He'd driven me, so he dropped me off at Sunrise.  

As I was getting out of his car, Asa asked, "Whitney, do you mind if I talk with some of the rest of your staff?"

"Not at all, as long as they are willing to talk with you.  I trust you not to pressure them into an interview."

"That's understood."

"Okay, Asa.  Thanks for the lift back here."

He thanked me for my time, said he'd enjoyed lunch, and drove away.

That evening after dinner I called Stuart, as I had resolved to do.  I knew I had to get things cleared up with him.  He was out.  At least he wasn't answering his phone.  Which is just as well, for I still backed off from telling him I wanted to make any kind of commitment yet.

After I got in bed and turned off the light that night I lay there for a long time.  I couldn't get Asa Dean out of my mind.  He was obviously intelligent and talented.  While not ugly by any means, he wasn't what anyone would call handsome.  Yet I found him very attractive.  I'd always gravitated toward men who were bigger than me.  Asa was a little shorter and probably ten pounds lighter than I am.  There was something about him, the sense that perhaps he'd suffered something bad and hadn't ever really gotten over it, that made me want to hold him, protect him, tell him that everything was going to be all right.

Then I thought, `Shit, Pell, so far as you know the man's straight.'

To be continued.