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 S. and Drew Hunt, who have provided inspiration, advice, and encouragement throughout the writing of this series.
What a week!
I wasn't going to see Stuart until Wednesday evening, so I had a couple of days before I had to tell him about Sunday's night's visit from – and sex with – Asa.
Monday evening after I'd finished my supper and cleaned up the kitchen, I was just settling in to read when the phone rang. It was Asa. After the preliminaries, he said, "Whitney, I just wanted to thank you for last night."
I was about to respond, but he continued.
"It was wonderful. I'd built up a lot of horniness over the last few years, and I can't tell you how great it was, the sex and the snuggling followed by more sex. I've felt euphoric (and a little tender in the nether regions) all day."
I chuckled. "I'm a bit tender down there, too, stud."
"But look, it's not just the sex I wanted to thank you for."
"Yeah. Somehow I feel better about myself. It's so good to know that a guy like you would want to do that with me. Since I left Robert I've felt like so much garbage. I know I'm good at my job, and I've concentrated on that pretty exclusively since I came to Stafford, but I've been really lonely."
"Well, you should feel good about yourself, Asa. You're a sexy guy and, as I now know, dynamite in bed." I might have stretched the point a little, but not by much. Our overnight romp had been good. "And now," I continued, "perhaps you need to open up a bit, get yourself a social life."
There was silence on the other end of the line.
"Asa, you still there?"
"Yeah. Here's the thing. And here's where I need a favor."
"If it ever got around town that I'm gay, it would be disastrous for me professionally."
"Think about it. A lot of doors that are open to me now as a reporter would very likely be slammed shut if I came out. And I just can't let that happen."
Was he exaggerating? Everyone knew I was gay, and it hadn't made all that much difference. But I was in the arts. Asa could very well be right. His credibility as a reporter could indeed be compromised in the eyes of some of the people to whom he'd thus far had regular access.
"Yeah, I can see how that might be a problem."
I heard him exhale. "I'm glad you understand. So you won't mind promising me that you won't tell anyone about last night."
At that point I was faced with a dilemma. I had already promised Stuart I'd tell him if I had sex with another man. Going along with what Asa had asked would mean breaking that promise to Stuart. What was I going to do?
"Whitney, talk to me, please!"
"I'm sorry, but I've got a problem."
"A problem?" He sounded worried.
"I've got to tell one other person. It's a commitment I've made. But I think I can assure you that he'll never tell anyone."
"This is someone like your priest?"
"No. You see, I'm in a relationship. Sort of. My friend and I promised each other we'd be totally honest if we got it on with some other guy."
"So if you do what I've asked, you break your promise to him?"
"You have a lover but you had sex with me last night? Twice!"
"Look, it's pretty complicated, but he and I agreed to an open relationship so long as we were honest with each other about what we were doing."
"Damn! I didn't know you were involved with someone. I feel terrible! Why didn't you tell me?"
"As I said, it's complicated. I'm sorry if this upsets you, Asa, but you should remember that I wouldn't have pushed myself on you. When you seemed willing, I wanted you. And we had beautiful, satisfying sex. We'd probably better not do it again, but I have no regrets. I just hope what I've told you doesn't hurt you."
"I don't know how I feel right now."
"I can understand that. Let me just say that I think you're a terrific guy. Talented. Interesting to talk to and comfortable to be with. And sexy. So, even if we never have sex again, I hope you'll think of me as a friend. I'm still here for hugs, guy, and I make a pretty good listener."
He seemed to think that over. "Oh. Well. Thanks. You're sure your friend won't tell anyone?"
"I guess that'll have to do. Thanks. See you around, Whitney."
Apparently I had really screwed up with Asa. And all I ever wanted to do was make him feel good about himself, make him feel that someone could care about him. I did care about him, dammit!
After two hectic days at Sunrise I had to face Stuart Wednesday night, when we'd agreed I'd have supper with him and spend the evening there. I wouldn't stay the night since we both had to be at work the next morning.
I called him just before I left the office, knowing he'd already be home.
"Hi, babe. I'm on my way. Do you need me to pick up anything?"
"Nope. We're just having casserole and a salad. And I'm making bread pudding with Jack Daniels sauce for dessert. Sounds like a pretty starchy meal, doesn't it?"
"Sounds wonderful. I'll be there in half an hour."
I was frazzled from the flurry of last-minute details concerning the gala that weekend. There was a committee in charge of each facet of the event, but it seemed they all wanted to run everything by the new director, just to be safe. As if the new director knew what was going on. They'd all been through a gala before. I was the one who hadn't.
I needed to get with sweet, calm Stuart and unwind. But I had to tell sweet Stuart about my night with Asa, and I was afraid he wouldn't be so calm after that. When I got there he hugged me, took my coat and hung it up, and hugged me again. I could get used to that sort of greeting at the end of a busy day.
"Whitney, I've got chardonnay to have with the casserole, but you look as if you need some of the Jack Daniels. Must have been a bad day?
I grinned at him. "Do I look that bad?"
"You always look good to me, but you also look tired and I could feel that you were tense. Get your shoes off while I fetch the booze. Meet you at the sofa." He brought me my glass and then said, "I'll be right back. I'm just gonna check the casserole. The salad's made and the wine is chilled."
He came back with his drink and flopped down beside me. Holding the glass in one hand, he put the other arm around me and pulled me closer. "Wanna tell me about it?"
"Stuart, you put me to shame. It's like a zoo at Sunrise this week, but that's to be expected. Everything's under control. Sorry if I seemed down. I'm not, really. And I'm sure you're just as tired as I am. What's going on at Stafford High?"
We chatted about events at our workplaces as we sipped the JD. I admit that the warmth of Stuart's big body next to mine and the booze inside had me feeling relaxed and content pretty quickly.
Dinner, though simple, was delicious. Stuart's casserole had basmati rice, chicken, green bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, some sort of cream soup base, and a hint of curry. He sprinkled toasted almond slivers over the top. That, plus the chilled white wine and a mixed salad made for a very satisfying meal.
The piece de resistance, though, was the dessert. I'd been brought up on bread pudding. Our cook made it a couple of times a month. She was always apologetic, as if it were farm food, not worthy of being served to the Pells. But my brothers and I loved it. She served it with a lemon sauce, however. Stuart's bourbon sauce (yes, I know, JD isn't technically bourbon) was to die for. I managed to forget the chore that lay ahead of me as I pigged out on the rich and filling pudding.
After we had cleaned up the kitchen and were back in the living room, I would have been content to take a nap. Or perhaps that was just some sort of internal mechanism to keep from doing what I knew I had to do.
Just as I was forcing myself to sit up a little straighter, Stuart asked, "Are you going to tell me about it now?"
"I don't know, Whitney, but something's on your mind. Might as well tell me as stew about it."
I sighed. "Yeah, you're right. I just don't know how to do it."
"I remember reading somewhere a guy said, `start at the beginning and go right on through to the end.'"
I gave him a weak smile. "That's a lot of help."
"Come on, babe, what could be so terrible?"
"Asa Dean and I had sex. Twice." I blurted it out almost before I knew what I'd done. I might as well have slapped his face.
"You and the reporter? When? Why? God, Whitney, do you sleep with every gay guy you meet?"
I was almost offended by his last comment, but then I realized that since coming to Stafford I'd had sex with five different guys. In fact, Father Gary and Jerome were the only gay men I could think of I hadn't slept with. And Judd Thomas, of course.
He seemed to be forcing himself to be calm. "Do you want to tell me why I shouldn't just call you a slut and ask you to leave?"
"At least I'm telling you. I promised you that."
He was quiet for a moment. "Yes, I'll give you that much. And I did agree that we wouldn't have to be monogamous for a while."
I relaxed just a little.
"But dammit," he said with tears in his eyes, "you didn't waste much time finding somebody to fuck, did you?"
I wanted to hug him, but his body language told me that wouldn't be a good idea. "It's not what you think. I didn't go looking for somebody to jump in bed with. I told you that Asa has always reminded me of a lost little boy, that I thought he needed someone to hug him, to soothe him, to buck him up a little."
"Yeah, I remember you said something like that. So you bucked him up by fucking him?"
"You aren't going to cut me any slack, are you?"
"Just go ahead with your story, please."
As I sat there wondering what to say next, I could tell that I had really screwed things up with Stuart. He was holding back tears. I'd really hurt him.
"It's hard to explain it, Stuart. He was there, looking so sad and needy. I think my feelings were partly paternal. Or, who knows, maternal. He asked me to hug him. I did. The next thing I knew we both had hardons and were in the bedroom. He hadn't had sex since he left his sadistic partner back in New York, and he was horny. I thought if I refused him he'd be crushed. I think it took all the guts he could summon up to ask me to fuck him."
"Whitney the good Samaritan, always there with a mercy fuck?"
"Ouch! And you know, he said he didn't want a mercy fuck. I assured him it wasn't, though I suppose it was, in part. But he was not only needy, he was hot. If it helps any, I've talked with him by phone and told him that it won't happen again."
"Until he or someone else `needs' you to screw him?"
"No, that's not going to happen."
"I wish I could believe you."
"Oh, and, though I hate to ask you for anything right now, there's something else."
He gave me a "what next" look, but he merely said, "Go ahead."
"Asa called me today and asked me to promise not to tell anyone about our having sex. He said that it would seriously jeopardize his effectiveness as a reporter in Stafford if he were known to be gay."
"And you said . . . ?"
"I told him that I had to tell someone, that I was in a relationship and we'd promised to be honest with each other if we had sex with someone else."
"Did you tell him who I am?"
"No, but I did assure him that I thought you wouldn't tell anyone."
"Well, yeah, I wouldn't want this to hurt his career or anything."
"Thank you for being understanding about that."
"How did Dean react when you told him you were in a relationship?"
"He was upset. Said he felt terrible. That he'd never have come on to me if he'd known."
"Did he really come on to you?"
"Do you want the details?"
"Just answer the question, please."
"Well, he was breathing on my nipple through my shirt and that gave me a hardon." Stuart closed his eyes and took a deep breath while I went on. "Then he grabbed my stiffie. I think he got carried away because he was physically close to a man for the first time in five years or so. I confess he had me aroused. So part of what I did was because I thought he needed it and part because I was admittedly turned on."
"You were able to say `no' and walk out on MacPherson last Friday night. How come you didn't do that with Dean?"
This was the most difficult interrogation I'd sat through since I defended my dissertation. "Because Chave is a manipulative bastard and Asa is a sweet, needy boy."
"Boy, bullshit! He's my age!"
"Yeah, I guess he is."
"Sorry, I'll be right back." He got up and went to the lavatory, where I could hear him urinating. Then he washed his hands. I knew this wasn't going well. I tried taking deep breaths to calm myself.
He came back into the living room and sat opposite me.
"I don't think I can do this."
My heart sank. "Do what?"
"Keep our agreement about waiting until Easter."
"It seems like an obvious thing to say, but I'm going to say it anyway. It was just last weekend that we agreed we'd try to make a go of it as a couple. And now, on Wednesday, you're telling me that Sunday night you had sex with Asa Dean. How would you feel if I told you on the night after we'd been together I'd had sex with someone? Someone whose hot breath on my nipple got me all fired up? Made me forget what you and I have going? Even if I thought I had sufficient reasons for having sex with the guy, how would you feel?"
Talk about a wake-up call! I knew exactly how I would feel: I'd be both furious and heartbroken.
I swallowed. "I guess I wouldn't like it much."
His face looked momentarily less stern. "I'm relieved to hear that. Now, tell me, would that be just because your ego was bruised if I had sex with someone else?"
"No, Stuart, no! I'd be hurt. I'd worry that you didn't care for me as much as I thought you did."
He didn't say anything. He just raised both eyebrows and nodded. Quod erat demonstrandum. He'd made his point.
"You know how much I care for you," he said. "I told you Saturday that I was ready for an exclusive relationship with you. You weren't willing then to say the same to me. Now I wonder if you ever will be."
What I said next surprised me. "But I am! That's why I told Asa there would be no repeat of what happened Sunday night."
"You mean it?"
"Yeah, I do." And, I realized, I did mean it.
"How do I know I can trust you, especially in view of Sunday night?"
"I've never broken a promise to you, big guy." My voice caught at that moment. "I refused to promise Asa not to tell anyone about our night together because I wouldn't break my promise to you."
"Yeah, I'll give you that."
"So," I asked hesitantly, "where does that leave us?"
"If I heard correctly, a moment ago you suggested you might be willing to commit to a monogamous relationship with me?"
"Because I'm conveniently available? Not terribly complicated? Neither needy or domineering?"
I wanted to crawl under the sofa. Then I saw the hint of a smile.
"No, dammit! Despite the fact that you've been making me feel like shit for the last half hour (not that I don't deserve it), what we've had is very special, and I've almost fucked it up. I don't want to do that. I promise to try as hard as I can not to. If you're still willing, I'd like us to be a couple. Just us. Nobody else. Is it too late for that?"
He came over and sat next to me, taking me in his arms and kissing me. I was giddy from the tension of the discussion we'd had, and the relief I felt made me collapse against him. For an embarrassing moment I thought I must seem like the heroine of a harlequin-type romance.
"Is it too late for us?" he said, setting me up straight and grinning at me. "Probably not. But it's got to be exclusive. No lapses. No excuses. I love you, Dr. Pell, but if we're a couple, your cute little ass belongs to me. Just me. Got it?"
"Yessir, Mr. Blount. I got it."
Later, after a hot session in his bed, I was dressing to go home.
"So you got your ticket for the Gala, didn't you?"
"Oh, yeah. I can't wait to see you in a tux."
"Wanna be my date?"
"I don't know whether that's a good idea. I'm not sure Stafford's ready to see us dancing together yet."
"Well, you could still be my date."
"Look, babe, you're the big cheese at Sunrise. You're gonna be busy all evening being the host of that affair. I'll be there. I hope we'll get a chance to talk some. But I'd only be in your way as your date."
"Bite your tongue! You'd never be `in my way.' But you're probably right. I'll probably be schmoozing the guests from start to finish. And I'll have to be there early and stay until the last dog is dead."
"So, we'll see each other there. And, Whitney, there's something I want you do for me."
He chuckled. "Hey, I like the sound of both those words. What I want is for you to wear your hair down Saturday night. Promise me you'll do that."
"How could I refuse?"
"And no flirting with the cute guys."
"You're the only guy I'll flirt with, okay?"
"I'll hold you to that."
"I don't deserve you."
"Probably not," he said, trying not to grin.
The Wednesday morning before the Gala the local news section of the Sentinel had an article which noted that prominent local attorney Burke Davis had taken on two partners, Chave MacPherson and William Stanley. The new firm was thus to be called Davis, MacPherson, and Stanley.
I called Burke that evening to congratulate him. He told me he was thinking about moving out of the house he'd shared with his wife for many years..
"More troubles with Marcy?" I asked.
"Want to tell me about it?"
"Jonny, you won't believe this. Or maybe you will. When I told her at dinner a day or two ago about the new partnership, she pitched a fit. She said I'd no doubt let Chave and Bill sleep with me so that I'd make them partners!"
"Exactly. Those guys are as straight as they come, so far as I know." He chuckled. "I told her she was delusional, but I couldn't help adding that I wouldn't kick MacPherson out of my bed if I found him there." I chuckled but waited for Burke to go ahead. "She had another hissy fit, of course. The woman's around the bend. I've tried to persuade her to get counseling, but she says she doesn't need it. I've offered to go with her, but she still refuses. Says the problem's all mine."
"I'm so sorry, old friend. Anything I can do?"
"Not really. I don't know when I'll be able to get back to the book group, but it's nice to know that you and Frank are available if I really need to vent. How is Frank, by the way?"
"He's fine. Would you like to talk with him?"
"No, but give him a hug for me. He's really been very patient about the amount of your time I'm taking up these days."
"Nonsense! You're a friend, and we're both here when you need us. Let's get together soon. I don't suppose you're coming to the Gala at Sunrise this weekend?"
He chuckled. "As a matter of fact, we are. We've always gone, and Marcy agrees that we have to put in an appearance. She says people might talk otherwise. Can you believe that?"
"Well, I'll see you there. We can at least have a drink together. Or would you rather Frank and I ignore you?"
"Damn, Jon. You may be right. I don't think Marcy would be too happy to see me talking with you, especially if you and Frank are there as a couple. Would you mind too much if we just nodded and didn't talk?"
"Not if it will keep the domestic peace for you. But you shouldn't have to put up with that shit from her."
"Too true. I don't know how much longer I can stick it out. I really think I need to get a place of my own, even if people do talk. Fuck `em."
"Well, bud, you're in my prayers. Call whenever you need me."
"I'll do that. Thanks for being there for me."
The next morning just after I signed in and took my place at the reception desk, Whitney sat down in the chair next to me.
"Hi, Jon. How are you?"
"Fine, Whitney. And you?"
"Is everything ready for the Gala?"
"Of course not. But I'm assured it will be by Saturday night. Are you coming?"
"I've not missed since I moved back to town. But this is the first time I'll be bringing a date."
He beamed. "Oh, right. You and Frank will be here together. That's great."
"What about you, are you bringing a date?"
"And what makes you think I might do that?"
"Well, you are a man about town, and surely there's somebody you'd like to squire to the Gala."
He grinned. "There's somebody I'd love to squire to the Gala, but we're not coming as a couple. We decided that I'd be too busy as host to give him the attention he deserved."
"You decided that together, huh?"
"And may I ask who this lucky man is?"
"I'm the lucky man, Jon."
"You're avoiding the question."
"Okay, okay, it's Stuart Blount."
"I thought as much. So you two are a couple now, are you?"
"We're not living together, but, yes, we're a couple. Though we're not broadcasting it about too much. He has to be discreet, teaching at the high school. But then you understand about that."
"Oh, yes. Although Frank has about decided that since he's retiring at the end of this school year he's not going to hide our relationship. `Let `em gossip,' he says."
"Good for him. I guess Stu and I still have a lot of talking to do about public opinion."
"By the way, Chave MacPherson's a friend of yours, isn't he?" There'd been rumors about those two, but I wasn't going to get into that.
"Well, yes, we've had dinner together occasionally. And he commissioned one of my pieces. I've persuaded him to become a member of the new Alliance Board."
"Did you see the article about him in yesterday's paper?"
"No, I must have missed it. What's up?"
"He has left Gates, Brownlee, and Erskine to become a partner in a new firm headed up by my old friend Burke Davis."
"I don't think I know Davis, but I've seen his name on the patron's list. He and his wife are pretty substantial contributors, I think."
"Well, they'll be at the Gala. Perhaps you can meet them then."
"Would you introduce us?"
"I don't think that would be a good idea. I can't explain, but Mrs. Davis doesn't like me much."
"Oh. Sorry. Sounds like a small town problem."
"As I said, I can't comment."
"Didn't mean to pry. Anyway, it will be good to see you and Frank Saturday evening. I'm looking forward to seeing you two distinguished educators in your tuxes."
"I've always enjoyed the Gala, and I am looking forward to sharing the pleasure with Frank. Just sorry he and I can't dance together."
"Well, you could, you know."
I chuckled. "I don't think Stafford is ready for that yet. Are you and Stuart going to dance?"
"Christ, I wish we could! But no, you're right. We won't be dancing together." He paused while I answered the phone. It was for Jean, so I transferred the call to her.
"I'd better get back to the office before somebody wants me. But I came to see you at the desk this morning because I want to officially ask you for a big favor."
I thought I knew what was coming because both Whitney and his predecessor, George, had mentioned it to me.
I played dumb. "What favor?"
"Everyone at Sunrise would be grateful if you'd agree to write a history of the Alliance. I can't think of anyone better qualified to do that. Your scholarly training and your ability to write lucid prose make you the perfect person."
I laughed. "Stop, Whitney. You're laying it on a bit thick. I've had plenty of time to think about this, and, yes, I'd like to take on that challenge. What kind of time frame are we talking about?"
"No deadline. When you're finished, we'll have something we don't have now. And I promise to make all the Alliance records available to you. The Board minutes should be especially useful. And Jean has a big collection of scrap books in the library. It's too bad there aren't many of the original founders of the Alliance still living, but we do still have some people who've been involved almost since the beginning. I'd think you'd want to interview them while we still have them around." He looked embarrassed. "Woops! I guess that sounded pretty callous."
"Well, it's true. Some day, after the Gala, let me come to your office and we'll talk further about this, okay?"
"Yes, by all means. Thanks, Jon. I'm really happy you're going to do this. If I don't see you again before you leave at noon, I'll look forward to seeing you and Frank Saturday night."
Before he could get away, I said, "Whitney, I don't quite know how to ask this question."
"Well, I've wondered if you got the roses I sent you on Christmas Eve. You've never mentioned them."
His look was one of total astonishment.
"My God, Jon! You sent those?"
"I've been going crazy wondering where those came from."
"Wasn't there a card with them?"
"Yeah, but it only said something like "Merry Christmas, Whitney."
"Damn. I've always had good luck with Carlton's, but that's enough to make me take my business elsewhere."
"Well, look, Jon, it was a lovely thing to do. And the Waterford vase made the flowers extra special. Do you want the vase back, by the way?"
"No. That was part of the gift. I inherited a lot of Waterford pieces, and I knew you'd appreciate it. You see, I felt a little guilty that Frank and I were going to have such a special Christmas and you'd be alone. I thought they might brighten your holiday."
"Stand up," he said.
I stood, and he gave me a bear hug.
"That's so sweet! What a kind and generous thing for you to do. I just wish I had known all along that it was you who sent that beautiful gift. Forgive me for not thanking you."
"No problem. It obviously wasn't your fault. I think I'm going to call Carlton's."
"You know, it was Christmas Eve, and I'm sure they were really busy. The flowers themselves were beautiful and they came at just the right time. Maybe you could overlook the slip about the card?"
"You're right, of course. And you've been puzzled all this time, huh?"
He grinned. "You'll never know how puzzled. But that's another story."
He hugged me again, said he'd see me at the Gala, and went back to his office.
On Friday, the day before the Gala at Sunrise, Louis and I were sitting in the lunch room eating and talking.
"I can't wait to see you in your tux, Judd," he said with a smile that showed lots of his brilliant white teeth. "You're gonna look so cool."
"Not as cool as you'll look, Lefevre. One of those rich old ladies is probably gonna take you home to be her boy toy."
He laughed. "I'd be kicking and screaming if she did. I only wanna be your boy toy."
"You got the job, babe."
About then Kevin Ptacek came over and sat down across from us. Fortunately, he hadn't heard our last exchange. He leaned toward us.
"I've got some more news about Jamie and Phil."
"Julie been gossiping again, has she?" I asked.
"Yeah. She says they've been withdrawn from school. They're being home schooled for the rest of the term. Julie says their parents worked out some sort of deal with the principal where they could have their assignments emailed to them and then email them back. They're even gonna take their finals wherever they are, so they'll get their diplomas, though they won't be here for graduation."
"Do you know where they are?"
"She says Jamie's in Atlanta at an uncle's house, and Phil's in Jacksonville with another uncle's family. What the fuck do you suppose that's all about?"
I thought I might have an idea. The best explanation for what happened would be that their families had found out they're gay and decided to separate them. Of course I wasn't going to say anything to Kevin, who I was sure didn't have a clue about the Albrights' sexual inclinations. I just hoped they weren't going to be sent to one of those places to be de-gayed, or whatever it's called.
"I don't have any idea," I lied. "Keep us posted, though, Kev, if you learn anything more about those guys?"
"Sure will. Later, dudes."
[If you think I haven't played fair with you about the roses, see Chapter 10 where Jon tells us he inherited Spode china and Waterford crystal.