Chapter 27

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.


I made a trip to the flower shop on Saturday, February 14 to pick up a single red rosebud.  It was a gorgeous day, the kind of spring-like day we could get in Carolina in February sometimes.  We knew there'd be more winter, but we also know that spring wouldn't be far behind.  I was grateful it was mild because we wouldn't have to wear long johns or anything under our tuxes.

I knew Louis and I weren't really on a date that night, but since he was going to be in a tux and we'd be together all evening, I wanted to give him the rose for his lapel.  When I brought it home, Mom put it in the fridge and kissed me.  She said getting Louis the rose proved I was a romantic and she thought it was "sweet."  I just hoped Louis wouldn't think it was too mushy.

I'd never worn a tuxedo before, so Dad had to help me with the studs and the cufflinks and the tie.  I thought I'd figured out the cummerbund thingie, but when I put it on he chuckled and said it was upside down.  I still don't know how he could tell.

Louis was picking me up at 6:30, and my folks insisted he was to come in for a minute.  They wanted to see him in his outfit.  I stood around near the front door, too eager to sit down.  I was holding his rose with its little sprig of fern and a pin.   The doorbell rang, and I opened it, the rose in my left hand.  He gave me a beautiful smile and said, "Wow, babe, you look fabulous!"  Then he held up his right hand.  In it was a red rose bud!

About the same time, he saw the rose in my hand.

"Aww, baby.  You are so sweet!" he said.  I think there were tears in his eyes.  I grabbed him and hugged him and gave him a kiss.  As I did, I noticed that my parents were standing in the door to the living room.  Dad had his arm around Mom, and they were both smiling.  

Louis and I got disentangled, and he said hello to the parents.  Mom handed me a pair of scissors, and that puzzled me.  It was Louis who took them from me and trimmed most of the stem off the two roses.  It had never occurred to me that we couldn't wear them with foot-long stems on them.

He grinned.  "Unless you're gonna carry this around like some diva all night, Thomas, we have to trim them a little.  And we're gonna be too busy to carry roses around."

I blushed and nodded my head.  For a guy with straight A's in English I can really be tongue-tied sometimes.  Anyway, we managed to pin our boutonnieres, as Louis called them, onto each other.  Then my Dad insisted on getting a picture of the two of us.  Actually, he took several as we stood together grinning like idiots, arms around each other's waists.

When we got to Sunrise, we learned that Bo wasn't there.  Allen told us Bo's girlfriend had had a hissy fit and said she'd been at home alone last Valentine's Day and she wasn't about to spend another one that way.  So much for whether Allen and Bo were a couple.  Bo had gotten Josh Migliore to stand in for him.  I knew Josh casually.  His family had a restaurant in town, but I'd never been there.  He seemed like a nice guy.  And he was cute enough to make me look twice. . . until I felt Louis put his hand on my butt and squeeze.  He'd caught me ogling Josh and was just reminding me who I belonged to.

Allen grinned and asked about the roses.  "How come Josh and I didn't get roses?"

"These didn't come from Sunrise, man," Louis said, grinning at him.  "I bought Judd's to surprise him, and he surprised me by getting one for me."

"Aww," Allen said, "ain't that sweet?"  Josh just stood there looking blank.

Louis asked Josh why he wasn't working at the restaurant that evening.  He said all the wait staff wanted to work because it was Valentine's Day and the tips would be great.  His dad didn't want to show favoritism to his son, so when the chance to work at Sunrise for the evening came up, he urged Josh to do it.

"Besides," he said, "I figure the tips here will be almost as good as I'd have made at the restaurant."

Some great-looking older woman whose name I didn't catch because I was too busy looking at her cleavage told us that there were sandwiches and soft drinks and coffee in Whitney's office for whenever we wanted to take a break.  We were on duty until 1:00, when the party was supposed to be over.  People would be coming and going almost all the time, she said.  But she also said there would be a lull about midway through, and that so long as two of us were on duty at any given time, the other two could sneak into Whitney's office for a snack or just to warm up if it got chilly.

She was right.  There were a lot of people who arrived early, between seven and eight.  They were mostly the gray-haired set.  And they arrived in fantastic cars!  I'd never driven anything like a Jaguar or a BMW or a Mercedes.  But we had all of those plus Lexuses, not to mention some Town Cars and big Caddies.  We'd been told not to push the seats back if we could possibly help it.  I tried, but some of the women and even a man or so had the seat so close to the steering wheel I couldn't get into the car without sliding the seat back.  Louis pointed out that most cars of that sort had "memory" settings for the driver's seat, and he showed me where to find the control.  I still don't know how he knew that.  

The coolest car, though, was a two-seater Mercedes coupe that had to be from the fifties.  When you opened a door, the door and the roof swung up.  If both doors were open, it would look like gull wings.  I'd never seen anything like that.  If the car was cool, the older guy who was driving it was hot!  He looked as if he was about Whitney's age, which Louis told me was 35.  He was taller than Whitney, though, more like Louis and me at six feet.  His tux had to be tailor made because it fit him perfectly.  He had blond hair with a reddish glint to it.  Like I said, he was hot.  And my gaydar was pinging like crazy when he handed me the keys and a ten dollar bill.  

"Take good care of my baby, stud," he said, grinning.  

"Yes, sir!" I said.  As I turned to get in his car, I felt his hand brush against my butt.

When I got back Louis grinned at me.  "Down, boy!"

"Louis, who the fuck was that?"

"His name is Chave MacPherson.  He's a lawyer."

"How do you know shit like that?"

"I read the papers, Thomas.  He just left one law firm and became a partner in another. He's about to be a member of the Arts Alliance Board of Directors.  And he and Whitney are friends."

"You didn't read all that in the papers, dog,"

He grinned.  "Well, maybe not.  But I've got my sources."

As I said, we were really busy at the beginning.  Then things slowed down for a while, so we told Allen and Josh to go inside and get something to eat or drink.  It had gotten cool outside, but with our tux coats on we hadn't been cold.  

It seemed to me like there was a big crowd.  At least we were kept pretty busy most of the evening.  And I would never have believed so many people in Stafford could look so well, so great.  The women were almost all in long dresses with jewels like in a movie.  I also have to say the tips were amazing.  Most of them tipped us when we parked their cars and tipped us again when we brought them back later.  I felt like I was in some sort of parallel universe.  This just couldn't be the Stafford I grew up in.

About ten o'clock Allen and Josh told Louis and me the food in Whitney's office was great and that we should take a break.  They said to take our time since things were fairly slow at that point.

We didn't go in the main doors, `cause we knew there were people like Whitney and the president of the Alliance standing inside to greet folks.  Allen and Josh had also told us there were caterer's staff in formal wear with trays of champagne for guests as soon as they stepped in the door.  So we used one of the other doors and made our way to Whitney's office.  I couldn't help thinking back to the time when I'd been there the previous fall and Whitney was promising to get me some help with my term paper for Ms. Burleigh's class.  (I got an A on that paper on Bernini, by the way, and a B+ in the course.)

We could hear the band in the ballroom playing as soon as we got inside the building.  When we got into Whitney's office, I pulled Louis to me. The band was playing a slow number.

"Let's dance, lover."

There wasn't much room, but we pushed a couple of chairs out of the way and held on to each other and rocked from foot to foot, our foreheads together, looking into each other's eyes.

"Judson Thomas, I didn't know you were such a romantic," Louis whispered in my ear.

I chuckled.  "That's just what my mom said when I bought that rose."

"You're amazing, you know that?"

"Aww, shucks.  Not ole dumb jock me."  I was putting on an act, and he knew it.

"If this weren't such a beautiful moment, I'd kick your ass, Thomas."

"Well, lover, I'm glad it's a beautiful moment then.  What's wrong?"

"Baby, you really make me sad when you put yourself down.  You're not a dumb jock.  I know that and you know it, too.  You're smart.  I'm not sure what your GPA is at the moment, but I'll bet you're close to 4.0.  And you're sensitive, too.  Really tuned in to other people.  So I don't wanna hear any more of that dumb jock shit, got me?"

He whirled me around, bent me over, and kissed me.  The kiss lasted a long time.  When we straightened up, I saw Whitney standing in the doorway, smiling at us.  He had his hair down.  I'd never seen him when he hadn't had the pony tail.  He looked fantastic. It wasn't way down his back or anything, just to below his collar.  It gleamed in the light from the hallway.

"Sorry guys, don't let me interrupt," he said.  Then he vanished.

"He's so cool," I said.

"Oh, yeah!" my lover answered.


I'd gotten myself a new set of cufflinks and studs for my tux.  The old ones had been mother of pearl and gold.  That wouldn't go with the turquoise and silver earrings Stuart had given me.  So the new ones were plain silver.  If you looked closely, you'd see that they were in the shape of a small rope or heavy cord tied in a knot.  

As I tied my tie, I mused about the collars on the shirts men wore with tuxedos.  I was of the generation that wore wing collars.  I thought that was cool because I had seen pictures and movies from and about the 1920's with people like Scott Fitzgerald in formal suits with wing collars.  I also knew that my father and my older brothers wore formal shirts with straight collars.  Maybe that's why I didn't like them.  At least not for me.  I decided to keep tabs on which guys were wearing what at the Gala that evening.

All of this, of course, was just a ploy to keep me from worrying about how things were going to go.  Past galas had been big money makers for the Alliance, and I didn't want the first one on my watch to be a flop.

I got there at 6:00.  Sunrise was once again a Southern mansion.  There were flowers everywhere.  The caterer's crew was wearing black formal trousers and white shirts with black bow ties.  And the band who'd come up from Palm Beach was setting up in the ballroom.

A mob of people were scurrying around. In addition to the caterers and the band, Michelle Farley and her committee were there, checking to make sure that everything was in readiness for the big bash.  Jerome looked splendid in the tuxedo we'd gotten for him.  The Alliance had paid for the rental.  He seemed to be the soul of calm.  I put my arm around his shoulders and thanked him for all he did.  

He grinned.  "Whitney, you look great with your hair down, man.  But you're tense.  Relax.  It's all gonna be okay."

"What about Gary?"

"Oh, he'll be here directly."

I felt at home.  "Directly" used in the sense of "after a while" was unique to my part of the country.  

Jean, too, was there, transformed from trusty assistant to elegant matron in a dark blue dress.  She pulled her husband Ralph over to say hello.  He smiled as he shook my hand and asked, "So, Dr. Pell.  I'll bet you have butterflies this evening."

"You know it!" I replied, smiling back at him.

"Don't sweat it.  These people do this every year, and by now I think they've got the hang of it.  Now, if you'll excuse me, Jean has me checking the silent auction items one last time, and I'd better get to it.  I'll see you later, probably."

"Thanks for helping out, Ralph."

He simply waved and went back to his assigned chore.

I hugged Jean.  

"Miss Jean, I don't know what we'd do around here without you.  And may I say you look absolutely fab, girl?"

She giggled at that.  "Ralph's right, boss.  This looks like chaos now, but everything will be ready by 7:00.  And, by the way, you're gorgeous with your hair that way.  You should wear it down more often."

"Thanks.  You and Stuart both asked me to lose the pony tail for this event, so how could I refuse?"

"Where is your big, sexy friend?  He'll be here, won't he?  I'm surprised he didn't come with you."

"Oh, he'll be here.  We just didn't want to make too much of the couple thing tonight so as not to offend the more conservative of our Alliance members."

"Well, I know there'll be at least one gay couple here this evening."

"You mean Louis and Judd?"

"No, but they're so cute, aren't they?  I meant among the guests.  Jon Baker and his partner will be here together.  Or at least they bought tickets."

"Good for Jon and Frank!  Now, doll, what can I do?"

"Loiter near the main entrance.  We always have a few Alliance members who come early to see if they can help.  If you get any of those, tell them everything's under control.  You will need to greet people for a while until the official greeters get here."

The "official greeters" were members of the Alliance Board who had agreed to act as hosts for the evening.

There was such a flurry of activity that I still feared everything wouldn't be ready by 7:00 when the first of the guests were to arrive.

I shouldn't have worried.  They talk about Yankee efficiency, but you should see a bunch of North Carolinians about to throw a serious party!  

The affair was scheduled to last from 7:00 until 1:00.  It all passed surprisingly quickly and, looking back on it, I realize a number of images are etched in my memory, or perhaps painted in bold acrylics in my memory, but I don't have a chronological recollection of all that happened.  

People drifted in and out all evening.  Some came early, had champagne or something harder, sampled the hors d'oeuvres, made sure they were seen, and then left for other parties or other, less public activities.  Others arrived late, having been to dinner at some romantic spot first.  And some arrived early and stayed late.  

Who came?  Everybody who was anybody in Stafford, it seemed.  Our mayor and several members of the city council.  A judge or two.  A respectable number from the medical and legal communities.  Most of the town's arts community, including several who taught classes at Sunrise.

Although one might at first glance expect this to be a couples' affair, a number of singles showed up.  The Alliance had a number of widows who were to varying degrees involved in its activities, and it seemed that most of them came.  This was, after all, our biggest social event of the year.  There were also a few unattached men.

Across the room at one point I saw Chave chatting amiably with another lawyer, a sleek, well-dressed fifty-something and his equally sleek wife, about the same age.  How did I know?  He just had the look.  I asked Jean later who the couple were.

"Oh, that's Henry Estes and his wife.  He's the guy who persuaded his partners to write the nice check that Chave presented to the Alliance."

"Oh.  We did write their firm and thank them, didn't we?"

She grinned.  "Of course we did."

"I'll try to introduce myself to Mr. and Mrs. Estes when I can."

"Yes, you should."

"Wait a minute.  Didn't I read that Chave had left Gates, Brownlee and Estes to become a partner in another firm?"

"You sure did.  He's now a partner with Burke Davis, who's been a big name in this town for a long time."

"Interesting.  It looks as if Chave left on good terms.  He and Estes seem friendly enough."

"Yeah, they do."

I remembered vaguely that Jon Baker and Chave's new partner, Burke Davis, were friends.  In a small city like Stafford, the patterns were intricate.  And fascinating.

Later that evening I found myself near the Estes, so I introduced myself and thanked them for his firm's gift to the Alliance.  Henry asked me to call him Hank and introduced his wife, Ruth.  They said they'd been members of the Alliance for years and were grateful that we added so much to the arts scene in Stafford.  "In fact," Hank said, "Sunrise pretty much is the arts scene here."  I thanked him.  We chatted a few minutes longer before we were swept away to different clusters of people.

I remember looking around the room and thinking how colorful the women's dresses were.  Because of the occasion, many of them were shades of red, pink, and burgundy.  But there were all colors, most of them jewel tones, probably because it was February.  I suppose if it had been spring, there would have been lots of pastels.  Anyway, it was a colorful sight.

The men, of course, were all in dark clothing.  Most in tuxedos.  The rest were in black suits or navy or black blazers and dark gray trousers.  Except for one man.  He was wearing a green blazer and red and green plaid slacks.  I shuddered.  I'm all for being one's self, expressing one's individuality, and all that.  But this guy looked more pathetic than anything else.  I don't think his outfit was an in-your-face sort of thing as much as he thought he was being really smart.  Then I was chastened to wonder if people ever thought that of me when I was wearing jeans with a sport shirt, tie, and sport coat.  Perhaps the problem was that the guy in the loud outfit was fat, red-faced, bald, and sweating.  Maybe if he'd been young and cute I'd not have found him so tacky.  Then I dismissed the whole thing, fearing that I might be more like my arrogant brothers than I had ever wanted to admit.

My reverie was interrupted when Chave appeared with a sixty-something couple.  The woman was elegantly coiffed and made up.  Her ice blue satin gown looked expensive, and it was very smart.  The expression on her face, however, suggested that she'd smelled a fart, and she seemed ill at ease. The man with her was another lawyer.  (By now you shouldn't even ask how I know.)  But this guy seemed pleasant.  He was silver-haired, and balding.  He wore glasses.  His face looked a little drawn, but he had a very nice smile.  

"Whitney, I want you to meet some folks," Chave said.

`Hey,' I thought, `he's got my name right!'

I waited for him to make the introductions.

"Marcy and Burke Davis, this is Dr. Whitney Pell, the director of the Arts Alliance."

Oh, so this was Chave's new partner and boss.

I was taught not to offer to shake hands with a woman, to wait for her to make the first move.  I know that's considered a sexist idea these days, but that's the way I was brought up.  I didn't have to wait, though, because Mrs. Davis offered me her hand.  I was uncertain for a moment, however, whether she wanted me to shake it or kiss it.  Since I don't kiss nobody's ass nor nobody's hand, I shook it and told her I was happy to meet her.

Then I offered my hand to her husband, who shook mine with a firm but not crushing grip.

"I know you folks are generous contributors to Sunrise.  It's a pleasure to meet you finally and to thank you for your support."

Mrs. Davis gave me a hint, just a frosty hint, of a smile.  Burke smiled broadly and said they'd always enjoyed the exhibits and concerts provided by the Alliance and were happy to be members.

"And I should offer congratulations to you," I said looking at first Burke and then Chave, "on the new partnership."

Marcy glared at me.  I had no idea what I'd done to piss her off.  In a moment she composed her face and looked over my shoulder.  

We chatted a few minutes longer, and then they moved on.  As Chave steered the Davises to someone else he wanted them to meet, he looked over his shoulder and pursed his lips into a kiss.  I hastily looked around to see if Stuart was anywhere near.  I didn't see him, so I relaxed a little and went to chat with someone else.

Later in the evening, I saw the Davises again several times.  I noticed that Mrs. D. seemed all smiles and graciousness as she talked to people.  When she thought no one was looking, however, her face was stony.  Something was clearly bothering that lady.

My lover was there, of course.  He was so beautiful in his tuxedo that I had trouble breathing each time I looked at him.  He was charmingly discreet.  He'd wander past, a drink or a little plate of munchies in his hand, exchange a few words, and drift on.  I understood his discretion, but I wanted to grab him and proclaim to the assembled throng that this man was sleeping with me.  (I noticed, by the way, that he was wearing a long collar rather than a wing collar.  I'd forgotten to conduct the survey I'd thought about earlier, so for the rest of the evening I tried to be aware of who was wearing which type of formal shirt.  What I discovered was that Jon Baker and men of his generation for the most part wore the long collars.  Everybody in the 30 to 50 year old category seemed to wear the wing collars.  But the few twenty-somethings there were a mixed group, some wearing one, some the other.  For what that's worth.)

Once while Stuart had suddenly materialized, Asa Dean came over to us.  He was wearing a dark suit with a white shirt and a silver four-in-hand tie. I'd never seen him so dressed up, and I must admit he looked very appealing.

"Whitney, this is quite a do.  I've known about these galas, but I've never been willing to spring for the cost of a ticket."

"Asa," I said, shaking his hand, "good to see you.  Let me introduce Stuart Blount."

"Hi, Asa," Stuart said, giving me a look.  "I'm a fan of your articles in the Sentinel.'

Part of me wanted to disappear, but I was also fascinated.  The two chatted for a few minutes.  Asa knew that Stuart taught art at the high school.  I supposed he'd learned that when he was writing his article about the "gay threat."  I didn't think there was any way he could have known that Stuart and I were lovers, but as he walked away, he grinned and gave me a thumbs up.  I grinned back and winked.  

Both the priests from Holy Trinity were there, and I noticed that both had shed their clerical collars.  Fr. Glenn and his wife Helen were there in formal wear.  At one point in the evening I noticed them doing a samba together and looking very good.  Gary was there, too, wearing a black suit with a dark tie of gold and silver geometric design.  I saw him talking with Jerome a time or two, and I saw him occasionally talking with others.  He was a sexy guy, and I hoped he and Jerome were able to be together despite the obstacles in their way.

I chatted a couple of times with Jon and Frank, and I saw them dancing together occasionally.  There were lots of other couples on the dance floor, and no one seemed at all upset.  Except that once I saw Marcy Davis glaring at them with what could only be described as hate in her eyes.  I wondered whether she was strongly homophobic.  That would explain her coldness with me and the way she was looking at Frank and Jon.  I'd have to ask Jon about that when I saw him again.

Susan Kurtz, the realtor who'd found my house for me was at the gala with a guy she introduced as someone who worked at one of the local banks.  I asked her if she'd save me a dance, and she agreed.  We'd had lunch once after the deal on my house was completed, and I hadn't seen her since.  She looked great, smelled great, and, when we got around to it, danced beautifully.  I noticed her date watching us from the edge of the dance floor.  He seemed jealous, so I suggested she'd better explain to him about me.

All bidding on the silent auction items closed at 10:30.  The committee in charge of the auction checked all the bids and gave me a list of the successful bidders.  At 11:00, the band played a brief fanfare, and I took the microphone.  I thanked everyone for coming.  I had to acknowledge Frank Erskine, who'd been the original chair of the Gala committee but had had to give it up because of the pressure of his work.  Then I introduced Michelle Farley, who'd taken over the task from Frank.  Michelle said a few words of welcome and thanks.  Then I read the names of the people who'd "won" the items on the silent auction.  I noticed that Jon Baker snagged the theatre trip for two to New York, with accommodations at a deluxe hotel and Broadway tickets.  I assumed that he and Frank were going to take that jaunt together in March.

Though the evening was by no means over, some people drifted away after the announcement of the auction results.  

I had a minute to ask Jean how she thought we did financially out of this event.  

"Well, as you know, the ticket sales barely cover our costs, what with the decorations, advertising, catering, the orchestra, and so forth.  So it will depend on how we did on the auction.  My impression is that we did well, but we'll have to wait for the committee to tally it all up and tell us.  And for some outstanding bills to come in.  We should have a good idea by Monday, but we won't know the final figure for a couple of weeks."

I hugged her.  "Jean, you're fantastic.  Would Ralph be upset if you and I had a dance?"

She grinned.  "I'm sure he wouldn't."  

So I took her hand and led her onto the dance floor.  The band had started the evening with music from the forties for the older folk present.  As the evening wore on, they played more and more recent music, so that between ten and eleven, they were playing pretty much recent rock hits.  After eleven, though, they began to slow things down again.  Jean and I danced to something I recognized as being by George Gershwin, but whose title I couldn't remember.  As we danced, I saw Stuart, Jerome, Gary, Ralph, Jon and Frank standing to the side watching us and smiling.  When the piece finished and I led Jean back to her husband, the six of them began to applaud us.  I never expected to see Jean blush, but she did just then.

By 12:30 just about everyone was gone.  I gave the caterers permission to begin unobtrusively shutting down.  Stuart had told me earlier that he would stick around until I was finished.  

I had a word with the leader of the band.  Then I went to Stuart and took his hand.  He looked a bit surprised, but he followed me onto the dance floor.  The band began to play "Lover," a song with a slow, sexy, latin beat.  The bandleader sang the vocals.

Lover, when I'm near you
And I hear you speak my name
Softly in my ear you breathe a flame.

Lover, when we're dancing
Keep on glancing in my eyes
Till love's own entrancing music dies.

All of my future is in you,
Your every plan I design.
Promise you'll always continue to be mine.

Hey lover, please be tender
When your tender fears depart.
Lover, I surrender to my heart.

I say "The devil is in you"
And to resist you I try,
But if you didn't continue I would die.

Lover, please be tender
When your tender fears depart.
Lover, I surrender to my heart.

(Lyrics by Lorenz Hart)

Soon others joined us, and we all danced to the song.  I hoped Stuart wasn't angry with me because I had in effect outed him to the people who were still there.  He didn't seem to be.  He simply smiled.  And led.  I put my head on his shoulder and we were lost in the music until, regrettably, it ended.  

Then the band played its signature final number to which everyone present danced, including, I was surprised to note, Jerome and Gary.  One obviously married couple, noticing that there were three male couples on the dance floor, along with half a dozen straight couples, seemed to become embarrassed, and they left. When that dance ended, so did the gala.

Stuart stayed around to help Jean, Ralph, Jerome, Gary, and me do what had to be done.  Jean had the check for the band.  We'd get the caterer's bill in a few days.  I slipped out to thank the boys for being our valets and gave them each a gift card to FYE.  They all said they'd enjoyed it and had made out like bandits with tips.  They thanked me for the gift cards.  Allen and Josh left.  Judd and Louis stuck around for a minute to talk.  Then each gave me a hug, which took me by surprise.  I gave each a quick kiss and they, too, were off.


Louis was spending the night with me after the gala.  He had a change of clothes in his car so he wouldn't have to wear his tux home the next day.  Jerome came up to us as we  were leaving and offered to pick up our tuxes the next afternoon and return them along with his to the store where they'd been rented.  We offered to bring them to Sunrise, but he said he didn't mind picking them up, so I gave him my address and we both thanked him.  

As the four of us valets were getting ready to leave, Whitney came out and thanked us.  He also gave each of us an envelope which we discovered later contained a $50.00 gift card from FYE.  Allen and Josh left, but Louis and I hung around to see if we could help.  Whitney thanked us again and told us to go home.  Louis gave Whitney a hug, and Whitney responded by giving him a quick kiss.  Then it was my turn.  I wondered whether I should just shake his hand, but then I went for it.  I gave Whitney a hug, and he kissed me, too.  Even though it was brief, I enjoyed holding the solid little guy in my arms.  The kiss was nice, too.  Besides Tom and Louis, Whitney was the only guy I'd ever kissed on the mouth.

"You know, babe," Louis said as he drove back to my house, "Whitney and Jerome have lunch together every couple of weeks.  How cool is that!"

"So, the custodian and the big boss of Sunrise are lunch buddies.  That's nice."  I paused.  "Ya don't think there's anything goin' on there, do ya?"

"Nah, they're just friends.  Besides, Jerome's been hangin' with Father Gary, the curate at my church."

"No shit?"

"No shit!"

"How do you know all this stuff?"

"You keep your eyes open and you listen, babe."

"So, studly Jerome's gay?"

"Count on it!"

"You know," I said, "that Josh is a stud, too.  I've seen him around but never noticed how hunky he is."

"Dayum, babe, you're getting turned on to all the guys now that I've made you gay."  We both snickered.  "But you can forget about Josh Migliore."

"What happened, did you come on to him and get refused?"  I put my hand on his thigh to reassure him that I was just jerkin' his chain.

"No.  It's just that my gaydar gives me strong negative results when I'm around Josh.  He's a nice guy, but he bats for the other team."

When we got back to my place, we let ourselves in quietly and went down to my room.  We were pretty wiped, so we took off our rented outfits and left them where they fell, figuring we'd sort them out the next day.  We did our bathroom business and fell into bed.

"Judd, is it okay if we just snuggle for a while?"

"Fine with me, lover."

After some kissing, he lay on his back.  I was on my side, propped on one elbow.  I used the other hand to stroke his chest.  He was stroking my back.  

"A penny for them," he said.

"I was just thinking how cool it was that Whitney kissed us."

"Uh huh."

"He's really a great guy."

"Sure is."

"Hot, too." I added.

He chuckled.  "Judd, you don't know the half of it."

I thought for a minute about what he'd just said.

"Are you gonna tell me what you mean by that?  What do you know about how hot Whitney is?"