STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!

Copyright 2003 by Nick Archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.

Winter Wonderland

Part 2 -- Conclusion

By Nick Archer

The digital numerals read 7:15. It was a good sign. That meant that the power was still on, and most probably, the telephone was still working as well. Power interruptions were a fact of life all year round. All it took was one errant branch brought down by wind or heavy snow to snap the delicate lines of civilization strung into these woods. I silently thanked the god of electricity.

It was way too early to be up. It was two days before Christmas and I had nowhere I needed to be. I raised my head off the pillow to glance out one of the bedroom windows. All I could see was white. There was nowhere I could go, even if I wanted to.

I should have laid my head back down and returned to the blissful ignorance of sleep. I knew I had to walk the dogs, but that chore could wait a few moments while I gathered my wits about me. I had had a restless night and awoke several times.

That morning, I couldn’t hear anything or smell anything being cooked. Jason must still be asleep.

It was then I noticed George and Mary asleep in a pile at the foot of the bed. That was strange, I thought. I remembered closing the door behind me last night when I went to bed.

They were the only creatures that slept together under this roof last night, I thought with guilt. And remorse.

Last night Jason declared his undying love for me and wanted me to reciprocate. He wanted to move in with me. I put him off and told him we’d discuss it in the morning. He seemed content with that answer.

The answer he did not accept was in response to his request to sleep with me last night.

I told him no. I was tired - it had been a long and emotional day for me -- and I wanted to sleep. I had the feeling Jason had other nocturnal games planned. Plus sleeping with Jason was something I was just not ready for. He had asked to sleep with me many times over the six years that we had known each other and I had always refused him. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Jason. I didn’t trust myself.

It was the look on his face that really hurt. I told him as gently as I could. I promised Don that I would be gentle with him and I really thought that my explanation fit that description.

The look of sadness on his sweet face was like a knife in my gut. His handsome face that I had watched mature from adolescence into young adulthood began to contort as if he were ready to cry. His beautiful green eyes registered pain and his lower lip quivered.

Yet, he didn’t cry. In a hoarse whisper he said simply, "OK. Good night." He wrapped the afghan around his shoulders and stretched out on the couch. He contracted into a fetal position and faced the opposite direction.

I laid a hand on his shoulder blade. I whispered his name. He ignored me.

"Good night," I whispered to him.

Last night, I sadly closed my bedroom door behind me and slid between the cool sheets. One of the dogs - probably Mr. Gower - protested the unusual closed door by scratching on it and whimpering.

I had always preached to Jason that actions have consequences. It was my mantra and I repeated it to him with almost religious fervor. Now the consequences of my actions were coming back to haunt me. I don’t think I ever regretted anything as much as I regretted the decision to sleep alone that night. And yet, I never invited him into my bed, even after I heard him crying alone. Why? Go tell him you’re sorry and ask him - no, tell him - to come to bed.

Still, I didn’t. After sleep avoided me for a half hour I heard Jason sobbing quietly in the living room. Apparently crying in front of me was too much of a threat.

He was still on the living room couch when I stumbled to the bathroom about 3AM. He was watching TV with the volume so low I couldn’t hear it on the way to the bathroom.

That morning, I swung my feet to the warm floor, wondering what I was going to say to him and dreading a confrontation.

I switched on the radio and tuned it to WHSM out of Hayward.

"…extremely hazardous driving conditions and dangerous wind chills. Folks, if you don’t have to go out, don’t. If you do, cover every exposed area of skin."

I knew I could count on WHSM to cheer me up.

"Here’s Chris Isaak…" I loved this song. Let Me Down Easy. It was sweet and full of longing.

Another day, you're passing by

Today's the day I'm gonna try

You don't know how much I'm hoping, how I'm hoping

Please. Oh, please let me down easy

Please just let me down easy

Can't you hear my heart is calling

You don't know how hard I've fallen for you

It was so ironic to hear that song on this particular morning.

I ran the fingers of my right hand through my hair and rubbed my eyes as I mused the previous night. On my way to the bathroom, I glanced over at the couch. Jason was still curled up there. He seemed to be asleep. I exhaled a small sigh of relief because that meant I wouldn’t have to face him - or my own feelings - just now.

Inside the bathroom, Jason had hung his jeans over the shower rod to dry. They were still wet up to the knees. I deduced he had walked the dogs before I awoke.

I relieved myself, carried his jeans to the kitchen where I placed them on the counter for a moment and started the coffeepot. I then carried his wet jeans into the utility room. A pang of guilt and remorse stabbed me when I remembered that he had worn them last night to seduce me. He had worn them just to please me. Now he probably thinks I treated him like shit. Maybe one day he’ll understand my point of view. If there is another day. For a long lingering moment, I held the soft denim material in my hands. The jeans almost felt alive.

"Jason?" I called into the living room softly.

Either he was asleep or he was ignoring me.

His jacket hung by the front door. It was still damp to the touch - another clue that he had indeed walked the dogs already.

While I waited for the coffee to brew, I took a shower. I was grateful all the utilities were up and running. I am not a fan of cold showers.

Living at the edge of the Chequamagon National Forest requires a high degree of self-sufficiency.

Of course water and sewer lines didn’t run out here, so I had my own well and septic system. The water still needed to be pumped from the ground so I also had a diesel generator in the pump house although it could only run the bare electrical essentials for any length of time. The furnace and the stove were fueled by propane, so those were operating as well. If worse came to worse, the fireplace could provide enough heat for the great room.

Food was another concern. I kept a large supply of dried, canned and packaged goods that would keep indefinitely.

The coffee had finished brewing by the time I got out of the shower. I poured myself a cup and pondered making breakfast. Since I had no idea when Jason was going to wake up, I dismissed the idea for the time being.

I ascended the stairs to the loft. A journal entry was buzzing in my brain.

Saturday, December 23, 2001

There’s an old saying that goes if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, I’m looking for recipes for forbidden fruit. I tasted forbidden fruit last night and now I want more.

I’m just looking for a recipe that will make forbidden fruit palatable to my conscience.

Right now, Jason is sleeping soundly on the couch although I know for a fact that he has been awake at least twice last night. Jason’s sleep habits are easily disturbed. Any time he’s nervous or upset he has a bout with insomnia.

I don’t think he’s eaten anything. I know Jason "forgets" to eat sometimes. I also know he uses food as a means of control. He goes on unintentional hunger strikes when he’s upset. He may even have an eating disorder.

It gives me great pain to know that I’m the cause of his insomnia and hunger.

It’s funny, everyone seemed to know that Jason and I had deeper feelings for each other including Don, Evan and even Grandma Dunham. Everyone but me. Where have I been? Was my head really that far up my ass that I didn’t notice?

Or did I block it out? Was I so intent on fathering Jason that I missed the signals? I certainly passed off all the times he flashed me as adolescent hormones. Maybe I’m the only one who considers Jason forbidden fruit.

I have many years experience on him and I’m thinking of questions that he’d never consider. What if he finds someone closer to his age? He’s never seen the "gay world:" never been to a gay bar, never had a longtime relationship, never been cruising. What if he experiences these things and then decides I’m just some old gasbag? What if he decides he’s bisexual and he wants a relationship with a woman? I’d have a difficult time handling that. What are we going to do about his future?

God, I love that boy. Right now, I just want to wake him and hold him tightly. I want to taste those lips again.

OK, so maybe he’s not forbidden fruit anymore. He’s an adult, he can make his own decisions.

I admit I want him. I admit I love him. I’m so confused. And if I - a 42-year-old man - am confused, imagine how he must feel. I would have never fallen in love with a man old enough to be my father at nineteen.

And I’m scared shitless.

So if he’s not forbidden fruit, why do I feel like I’m in such a jam? He’s no longer jailbait. He’s an adult and able to make his own decisions. Still, I’m in a pickle. His idea to move in with me is half-baked at best.

Oh, Jason my love, why does your forbidden fruit taste so good?

Below me in the loft, I heard Jason stir. He shuffled to the bathroom and closed the door.

When he emerged, I called "Morning" to him. He didn’t answer.

I heard him rummage through a kitchen cabinet for a coffee mug. When I arrived downstairs, he was pouring coffee in my Little, Brown and Company mug Evan sent to me when my first book was published.

"Hi there," I said softly. The dark circles under his eyes testified to the fact he hadn’t slept well the night before.

He avoided my gaze.

"Did you walk the dogs this morning?"

He nodded slowly. Instead of looking at me he gazed out the kitchen window.

"Thanks, I appreciate it." I fumbled around in my mental pockets for a safe conversational topic. "Do you want breakfast? I can make us something to eat."

He refused to answer me.

"Son, you gotta eat."

"Don’t call me son!" he growled. With that he stalked off to his room with his mug of coffee. Violet and Mr. Gower followed and he allowed them in his room before closing the door behind him. He hadn’t even taken any of Grammy’s cookies. Much more important things than food were on his mind.

I sighed to myself. I had lost that round, but there would be another. He was stuck here and sooner or later we’d have to face each other. For now, I let him have his space.

I wasn’t much in the mood to write so I put a video in. I selected A Christmas Carol - the classic black and white version starring Alistair Sim -- and stretched out on the couch to enjoy it.

From my vantage point on the couch, I could see his bedroom door. As I pulled the afghan over me, I could detect his scent. Mary hopped up on my chest, turned around twice and settled into a ball. Soon, she was kneading contentedly.

When the video was over, I put in A League of Their Own. I was determined to bury myself in escapism. Still, Jason remained in his room. I decided he was catching up on his sleep.

After the second video, I called my sister as I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and warmed a can of soup in the microwave. I explained the situation and gave her my regrets. She completely understood the weather situation and said that she would explain to my nieces and nephew.

I had hoped that the scent of the grilled cheese would bring Jason out of his room, but it didn’t. Maybe he’s not feeling well, I thought.

But a calmer voice prevailed: Stop worrying. He’s OK and he’ll come out when he’s ready.

I checked the local forecast. Over twenty inches had fallen. Although the snow was beginning to taper off, high winds would cause it to drift. The temperature was going to fall to ten below zero with dangerous wind chills.

I clicked the TV off and picked up a book. I carried it to my bedroom and attempted to read but the words blurred in my eyes.

Finally, I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

When I woke, Mr. Gower was licking my face again. It was almost four in the afternoon. The dog was trying to tell me that he needed to relieve himself.

Out of habit, I glanced out the window again. Snow was still being driven by the howling wind.

"You big babies," I muttered. Jason’s door was still closed. I might have asked him to walk them again, but I didn’t want to bother him. It was then I made a fateful decision. I decided I would just let them out and hope that they would come back shortly.

"Come on!" I said to the dogs. They followed me with enthusiasm. A cold blast of freezing air startled me as I opened the front door. Mr. Gower bounded outside with enthusiasm. Violet looked up at me with questioning brown eyes before daintily stepping outside into the violent wind.

Both dogs immediately disappeared into the wind-whipped snow.

I expected to hear them scratching at the door within seconds, but they didn’t. I sat at the kitchen table and awaited their return.

I glanced at the kitchen clock. It was 3:55. Ten minutes passed, then fifteen. When twenty minutes passed, I began to get worried. I opened the front door as much as I dared and whistled. My whistle went unheeded and unheard over the howling wind. Even with their thick winter coats, I knew that the weather was dangerous.

I pulled on my heaviest pair of woolen socks and a sweater. I carried Jason’s gift that Carl had delivered the previous day to his bedroom.

I rapped quietly on Jason’s door. "Jason? Jason, I need your help."

"Come on in," he said in a tired and weary voice.

He was lying on his back with his hands behind his head. "We need to go out looking for the dogs."

"You let them out?"


He leapt out of bed and began to rummage through the drawers of his dresser. "How long ago?"

"About twenty minutes. Here," I said handing him the package. "This might come in handy."

"What is it?" He flashed me a look of disbelief.

"Your Christmas gift."

His eyes flashed me a questioning look. He sat on the edge of his bed and began to tear into the box. "Oooh! I’ve wanted one for a long time."

He stood to slip on his new duster coat. It was an ankle-length oilskin coat with a fleece liner. The duster, also known as the drover, originated in the Australian outback to protect the workers at the stations from the elements. Jason had wanted one for a long time.

"I love it. Thanks, Ben." Although he smiled for the first time that day, he made no move to touch me. No matter; at that moment I was much more worried about the dogs.

"We’d better hurry, it’s going to start getting dark any time now."

The tension was palpable as we hastily dressed. I lent Jason a red scarf and gloves that had once belonged to Christopher. He sat in the utility room as he laced his boots. "Don’t worry, Ben. We’ll find them." Luckily, the batteries in the halogen flashlight were still good. I was terrible about remembering to buy batteries.

The frigid air shocked my lungs at first and I moved the woolen scarf over my mouth to warm the air somewhat before it entered my lungs.

I tried to whistle but my lips were too cold to pucker properly.

"Mr. Gower! Violet!" Jason’s voice was full of tension. My hands and feet were already painfully cold after we circled the house. It was impossible to see more than five feet ahead of us.

Still, Jason continued to call. It started to get darker with each passing moment. The sodium vapor lamp on the pump house switched on automatically.

Jason grabbed my arm and pointed in the direction of the pump house. "I think I see something moving over there."

Sweat began to form along my hairline due to the physical exertion of trudging through the deep snow. I stopped for a moment to catch my breath.

"Ben! Around back!"

On the far side of the pump house, the two dogs were huddled together against the wall. They both wagged their tails feebly as if this simple act took a great deal of energy.

"They must have gotten lost," Jason said. He bent over and scooped Violet in his arms. "Can you carry him?"

"I’ll try."

I bent over and scooped Mr. Gower in my arms. As I attempted to straighten out, I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my lower back.

"Ouch! Shit, Jason! My back hurts."

"I’ll come back for him. You go back to the house."

"I can’t leave him here alone."

"You can’t stay out here!"

"I know! We’ll wait inside the pump house. At least we’ll be out of the wind."

"Good idea. OK, here I go." I watched him until he disappeared into the strange white twilight.

The door to the pump house yielded after a huge shove. I switched on the lone light bulb on the ceiling. I called to Mr. Gower and he found the strength to follow me around the building. Once inside, he immediately crouched down on the concrete floor and whimpered. He looked up at me with his trusting brown eyes. As I hunkered down on one knee, I felt another stab of pain.

I managed to sit cross-legged next to him on the cold concrete floor. Tears started to flow as I stroked his soft forehead. "I’m so sorry, Mr. Gower." The animal had trusted me and I had let him down. I was so stupid! I was so lazy! I should have walked them, even it if meant we were only outside for five minutes.

Then it occurred to me that Jason must feel the same way. He had trusted me. He had loved me unconditionally, just like Mr. Gower. And I had let him down.

After what seemed like an eternity, Jason appeared at the door, huffing and puffing.

"Are you OK?" he asked me. I could see the worry in his eyes - which was about the only part of him that was visible.

"Yeah, I’m fine. How’s Violet?"

He bent over to scoop up Mr. Gower. "She’s fine. They weren’t out very long. Can you make it?"

"Yeah." It seemed like several miles from the pump house to the front door. The snow stung my eyes and clung to my eyebrows and eyelashes. I lagged behind, and Jason turned around.

"You OK?" he shouted over the wind.

"I’ll be OK."

Violet thumped a greeting as Jason installed Mr. Gower in the utility room. Jason hastily set Mr. Gower on the floor and hung his coat on a peg near the front door.

He pulled several towels off a shelf and began to rub Violet. After I hung up my coat, I did the same to Mr. Gower.

"Phew! Smells like wet dog in here!"

"Thanks for your help."

"Of course. I love these old mutts, you know."

"Jase," I said quietly, "I’m sorry."

"Doesn’t matter."

"Why doesn’t it matter?"

He didn’t answer me for a long time. When he had rubbed all of Violet’s fur, he brushed her. She responded by rolling on her back. Do my belly! She grinned and her tongue lolled out the side of her mouth.

After I finished with Mr. Gower, I gathered the towels, threw them directly in the washer and started the machine.

I decided to let Jason brush Mr. Gower if he so chose. I was going to fetch some aspirin for my back.

As I stepped out of the utility room, I could hear Jason sniffling. "All I ever did was love you," he said tearfully. He was barely audible over the washer. "All I ever did was love you and you hate me." Jason’s back was to me as he continued to brush Violet.

"I don’t hate you!"

He stood and faced me. His cheeks and ears were still ruddy from his outdoor adventure.

"I love you, Jason. I love you with all my heart. I’ve watched you grow up and I never stopped loving you. I was scared. I still am."

"What are you scared of, Ben? I could never hurt you."

"I’m an old guy, Jase. You’re young and cute. You could have your pick of anyone - male or female. Why me?"

"Because you believed in me. You were always there for me. You love me unconditionally." His handsome heart-shaped lips formed a grin. "And because you’re such a stud."

I chuckled. "Oh, Jason…"

He embraced me. He held me for a long time and gently stroked my hair. The dogs, tired of waiting for their humans, left the utility room in search of something to eat in the kitchen.

"Ouch! Not too tight. My back hurts."

He laughed. "My old man…"

"Watch it, kiddo, your next word may be your last."

He kissed me. Our lips met again for only the second time in six years. In that kiss I felt relief and finality. I knew it then. I was in love with him.

"Does this mean I can sleep with you tonight?" he asked with his lips still touching mine.


His emerald eyes lit up like headlights. "Really? You mean it?"

"Yes, Jason."

"What about moving in?"

"We still have some issues to work out about that."

His face registered disappointment, but only for a brief second. "I’ll take that as a yes."

"Take it any way you want," I said just before I pushed my tongue into his mouth.

He kissed me with passion. When I slid my tongue in his mouth, I could feel a slight suction. He moaned in his throat.

"We’d better get out of these wet clothes," I suggested.

"Excellent idea." In a flash, his long, slim fingers worked their way to my fly, and before I knew it, my jeans and underwear were at my ankles, and he was on his knees in front of me.

Just before he took my cock in his mouth, he grinned a lewd and mischievous smile at me.

"Oh yes, Jason," I moaned as I rubbed my hand across his short blond hair. "Oh, that’s so good. Suck me. Yeah, suck me."

He wrapped his arms around my thighs and pulled me closer. I could feel my cock against the back of his throat and his lips on my pubes. He held it there for a long moment before releasing my cock and taking a deep breath in through his nostrils.

"Oh," I moaned. "Yes, baby. That’s so good. Mmmm, yes. Suck my cock!"

Suddenly I had an inspiration. "Stand up."

"Why? I want to finish you."

I put my hands under his armpits and lifted him off the floor. I felt a twinge in my back, but I ignored it. As my lips met his, I could taste myself on his lips. I guided him over to the washer, which was now in the spin cycle. I lifted him up on top of the washer and felt another stab in my lower back, although this one was less sharp.

I knelt down and began to unlace his army boots. I have a major boot and shoe fetish and the process of unlacing his boots was extremely erotic to me. My cock was hard the whole time and it continued to ooze. I smeared some of the precum on the toe of his right boot. Jason exhaled in anticipation

Once his boots were off, I pulled at his jeans and long insulated underwear. When his beautiful boycock was exposed, I hungrily devoured it. My well-trained throat muscles admitted it and then caressed it. I had timed it perfectly. The washer was still spinning the load of towels, and combination of the vibration of the washer plus my sucking caused Jason to scream.

"Ahhh-h-h! Shit, Ben!" He slapped the top of the dryer with his palm and it sounded like a metallic bass drum.

"Ben!" He screamed in a falsetto voice. His balls retracted, his abdomen tensed into a six-pack and he lifted his butt off the washer. And then he shot his load in my mouth. I responded by cumming all over the front of the washer.

His cream tasted sweet, and I grinned at him.

"Oh my God!" He panted for a few moments and propped himself on his elbows back on the washer with his Adam’s apple pointed at the ceiling.

Mr. Gower and Violet stood at the doorway of the small room. They wanted to see what all the commotion was about.

"God, this is good! I didn’t realize I was so hungry!"

"There’s more."

"Could I have another sloppy Joe? And maybe some more potatoes?"

I grinned as I picked up his plate. As I headed into the kitchen I affectionately ruffled his hair. "I’m glad you have a good appetite." I figured a little positive reinforcement was a good thing. I had dimmed the lights again, except for the Christmas tree and the lights around the windows.

We were seated at the table in the dining area of the great room. I had lit a large candle centerpiece on the table and it scented the air with a sweet apple cinnamon fragrance. The flickering candlelight was also very romantic.

I spoke to him from the kitchen. "The sloppy Joes were really something I just threw together. I forgot to defrost something. Which reminds me; I’d better take the turkey out of the freezer if it’s going to be defrosted in time for Christmas."

"Turkey with all the trimmings?" Jason asked enthusiastically.

"Yup. I got a 25-pound bird. It was on sale at the Co-op. God knows we’ll have leftovers for weeks." I returned with his plate to the dining area. He was smiling and his eyes sparkled in the candlelight.

"You’re not going to eat any more?" he asked as I set the plate down in front of him.

"I’m full. Besides, I had lunch."

"Oh, yeah."

"Let me ask you something Jason," I said as I sat adjacent to him. "When did you realize that you loved me?"

He smeared a baked potato wedge in ketchup and popped it into his mouth. He chewed thoughtfully and swallowed. "I guess it was about two years ago, when I was a senior in high school. I mean, I always loved you. But I guess that year, I figured out I loved you more than just a father."

He took a bite of his sandwich and smiled. "I always hated Chris."

I laughed. "As you would say, ‘Well, DUH!’"

"And I don’t think he liked me much either."

"You’re right. Chris was insanely jealous of you."

"You have no idea how much you meant to me. Remember how you used to call me every other Thursday night at 8? I used to sit by the phone for hours waiting for your call. I counted the days until you were coming back up here. Do you know I saved every card, every note, every scrap of paper you ever wrote me? I printed out all the emails you sent me and put them in a binder."

I was astonished. "You did?"

"Hell, yeah. You were like a hero to me. I idolized you."

"That’s the sweetest thing anyone ever said to me."

He took a couple more vast bites of his sandwich before he continued. "I was ecstatic when you told me you were gay. I pretty much had it figured out by then, anyway, but when you confirmed it, I was in heaven. I already knew I had feelings for men but I denied them."

He reached across the table and squeezed my hand. "I always wanted to be alone with you. When you and Chris were still together, I tolerated him. I knew I would have to put up with him in order to be with you. Still, my favorite times were when it was just you and me. Remember the time we went up to Bayfield and took a ride on that floating plane?"

"That was fun."

"Oh, that was so neat! And when you took me camping at Copper Falls, I was in heaven. I was so glad Chris didn’t want to go."

I snickered evilly. "Yeah, Christine was afraid of getting her nails dirty. Her idea of roughing it was Holiday Inn." I paused. "So, why were you always waving your dick at me?"

He smiled ruefully. "Well, DUH! I wanted you, Ben. Even back then. I guess it was my way of saying, ‘it’s OK if you touch me.’"

"But of course, it wasn’t OK."

"No, it wasn’t. I know that now." He grinned and shrugged. "You did the honorable thing. Although I practically threw myself at you and I was disappointed you would never touch me, I’m glad you didn’t."

He paused to finish his food. There was a question burning in my mind, but I wasn’t sure if I could ask it. "So what about…."

"What about what?" He pushed his now-empty plate away.

"What was the deal with Mandy?"

He sighed. "I was horny and Mandy practically begged me to go to bed with her. She had given me head several times. I guess I wanted to find out for myself what the big deal was. All the other guys on the football team were always talking about getting laid. I wanted to find out for myself." He looked at me with eyes that pleaded for understanding. "It was the first time I ever fucked a girl."

"I believe you," I said quietly.

"And the last," he added with a disgusted look on his face. "Pussy is not for me." He grimace to illustrate his point. "Part of the reason I did it was to prove to myself that I wasn’t gay. Jesus, did that ever backfire! All it did was prove to me how much I loved you. The whole time I was with her, all I could think about was kissing you and holding you. Not to mention that I got her pregnant." He stared into the flame of the candle. "Did you know she was going to have a little boy?"

I nodded sadly; I did know that.

A tear trickled down his cheek. "I wanted to be a father. I was looking forward to it." He looked up with moist eyes. "After all, I had a great role model."

"Oh, God, Jason. Please!"

"Really, Ben! When I graduated, and then Mandy found out she was pregnant, I wanted to prove to you that I was a responsible adult by working full-time and supporting my kid." Tears were flowing down his cheeks. "That backfired, too! When I decided not to go to college, it only made you mad."

"I’m so sorry about that…."

"Let me finish," he interrupted. "You have no idea what it’s like growing up in a town like this. You’re from Chicago. Here, everyone knows everyone else’s business. I knew I was gay. And then on top of that - I realized I was attracted to older men. I’m not a kid anymore, Ben. I tried to prove that to you. I’m an adult. I can make my own decisions. But you still treat me like your son. That’s why I get mad when you call me ‘son.’ I don’t want to be your son anymore."

"Yeah, you said that before. But why me, Jase?"

"You really don’t know how much of a stud you are, do you? You really have no idea! Those beautiful eyes of yours. That hair, with a touch of gray. Your goatee. Your hairy chest. That smile. You’re like the Mel Gibson of the northwoods. I’m not the only one who’s attracted to you. Every woman in town wishes you were straight.

"Don’t get me wrong, Ben. I’ll be eternally grateful to you for the things you did for me when I was a kid. You showed me things and taught me things and took me places I never would have seen or done or learned. You watched out for me. You took care of me. You made sure I did my homework and that I was eating. But, now I want more. I can take care of myself. I want to share your life with you as an adult. That’s why I don’t want you to think of me as your son anymore."

For me, that was the core problem. Jason was still a kid in my eyes. He was that thirteen-year-old boy with huge hands and feet and a voice that covered several octaves every time he spoke. Could I let that image of him go? Could I release the belief that he was forbidden fruit? He reached across the table and took my left hand again.

"You took your ring off," he said quietly.

"Oh, I took it off when I went to bed last night. I guess I forgot to put it back on."

"Where is it?"

"I think I put it on my nightstand."

He rose from the table, entered my bedroom and returned with the ring in the palm of his right hand. He hunkered down on one knee next to my chair.

"Are you ready to let Jason the boy go? Are you ready to let the whole daddy thing go?"

Tears brimmed in my eyes. Not trusting my voice, I simply nodded. Yes, I was ready. I didn’t care what the consequences were. I just wanted to love him.

He slipped the ring on my finger for the second time in twenty-four hours. This time, it would stay there.

"I love you, Ben Strickland. I want to be your man, not your boy. I want to be your equal. I don’t want you to take care of me. I don’t need you to support me. I still may need your help from time to time but I don’t want to be your boy." He patted my hand. "Besides, Grammy Dunham will be so disappointed if I give her back the ring. In her mind, she’s got us married already!"

I laughed. The tension of the moment was broken. I wiped my nose on a napkin.

Finally, I found my voice. "It’s not going to be easy. Even within the gay community, there’s going to be lots of stereotyping and prejudice. This will be a major scandal in town. Everyone will assume I’ve been boinking you all along."

"The stupid and ignorant people will. We’ll know the truth."

"The list of stupid and ignorant people will probably include your mother and brothers."

"No loss. My ‘mother’ never had her priorities in order. Her top priority was getting laid. My brothers and I were mostly in her way."

It was a blunt but astute observation. I agreed with him but it would have been unseemly to admit it. I’m of the conviction that if you bring children into the world, they are your top priority until they are adults. All a parent’s needs take a backseat. Misty, tragically, had lost sight of that.

I pulled him to me. He hugged me tightly.


"Your back again?"


"How about we get naked and I massage it for you?"

We straightened out the kitchen, put the leftovers away and loaded the dishwasher. Jason soaked a hand towel in hot water and wrung it out.

I was naked and face down on my bed. Jason placed the hot towel on the small of my back and the warm moisture eased my muscles.

"How did the cats get in my room last night? I’m sure I closed my door last night." I asked with a smile on my face.

Jason was sitting on the edge of the bed. "When I looked in on you during the night," he admitted quietly. "I guess it was about 2 in the morning. The second I opened the door they were inside! They jumped on your bed and I didn’t want to wake you by chasing them out." He patted the towel. "How does that feel?"

"Much better."

He straddled my hips and removed the wet towel. He started massaging my lower back.

I grunted.

"Is that OK?"

"Better than OK. It’s awesome. Where did you learn massage?"

"From books at the library. When I played football I was the unofficial team trainer. I learned massage so I could touch all those jocks and get away with it."

"You little schemer."

He laughed. "Well, it worked, didn’t it?"

I imitated a dumb jock voice. "’Uh Jason. I got a cramp in my groin. Could you massage it for me?’"

He laughed again.

"So did it work? Did you get inside anyone’s jocks?"

"At least once."

"I knew it."

"What do you mean?" His hands were still working my lower back. His hands were magic.

"I mean, young man, that last night was definitely not the first blow job you ever gave."

"Well, yeah, I messed around when I was younger. I was just as horny as any other guy. Waving my dick at you wasn’t working, so I had to settle for guys my own age."

"Names, please?"

He slapped my right buttock. "You are so bad!"

"I want names and positions."

He giggled. "Cody Fairweather. I did him a couple times when we were thirteen or fourteen." Cody was part Native American and a good-looking kid. He reminded me of the Ed character in Northern Exposure. He had long, dark hair, smoldering eyes and a slim build. And, like Ed, he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the marquee.

"Which football teammate did you nail?"

"Tyler Mroz."

"Way!" Tyler was probably the second-best looking young man in Winter. He had quite a powerful build on him; he was always sort of a big boy. But when he graduated from high school, his muscle turned to fat as a result of too much beer, too little exercise and a general lack of caring on his part. "Good job! What a babe he was! Anyone else?"

His hands stopped massaging my back. He lowered his voice. "Jeff and Jeremy."

I rolled over to face him. He was still straddling my hips. I reached up and touched his jaw. "I never knew," I whispered. I was shocked. This was a total surprise to me. I thought I had known everything there was to know about this young man.

"That’s because they threatened to out me if I told anyone. It didn’t happen very often. And when it stopped altogether once I joined the football team."

"Oh, Jase, come here." I pulled gently on his arm.

"Wait. Let me put this towel in the bathroom."

I heard him brush his teeth in the bathroom. When he returned, he turned off the lights in my room, leaving only the clear Christmas lights around the perimeter of the two windows. He performed a delightful little striptease act before sliding under the covers with me.

"Kinda early for bed, isn’t it?" I asked him.

He kissed me with an impish grin on his face. "Maybe I had other things planned."

"I gotta tell you, Jase, I’d better take it easy on my back."

He kissed me again, this time but this time he slid his tongue into my mouth. "That’s OK, Ben. We’ll have lots more opportunities."

I didn’t want to burst his balloon with the hatpin of reality. Not just yet. In my mind there were way too many issued to be resolved before he moved in. But my heart told me that he was moving in, no matter what.

We were chest-to-chest and holding each other tightly. George and Mary slinked into the room and both hopped up on the foot of the bed.

"Oh, God, Ben!" he whispered. "You don’t know how long I’ve waited for this. I dreamed about it. I fantasized about it." Even though his eyes looked dark in the dim light, I could see them sparkle with love.

He ran his fingertips across my cheek. "I love it when you have some stubble. It looks so sexy." He kissed my nose. "So, when the weather clears and they plow us out of here, we can go get the rest of my stuff. Right? Ben?"

"We’ve got a few things to discuss before you move in." I regretted those words as soon as they left my lips. I hated to put conditions on my love, but dammit, he needed to get out in the world. He needed to discover what was out beyond Sawyer County. Most of all, he needed to discover what was in himself.

"Uh oh. I don’t like the sound of that."

"What do you want out of life, Jason?"

He smiled. "That’s easy. I want you."

"Yeah, and now that you have me, now what?"

"Get my driver’s license back, work. I don’t know."

"You need to think about it; we need to think about it. Because I’m going to die just like everyone else."

"I’d rather not think about that part."

"Neither would I. But we do need to think about it, plan for it."

He kissed me. "OK, Ben, whatever you say." He was putting me off, and I knew it. At that moment, I didn’t care. I was holding the love of my life in my arms. That was all that mattered that night.

We talked and kissed and held each other under the twinkling lights. Finally, we slept.

The next morning, Jason sat on the edge of the bed pulling his socks on.

I ran my hand over his smooth back. "Morning, sweetie. Where are you going?"

"To walk the dogs."

I squinted out the windows. The snow finally had stopped falling, but I could see gusts of wind driving the snow around.

He twisted around and kissed me. "Mmm!" My hands instinctively roamed his smooth body. My right hand clamped around his semi-hard dick.

"Such a big boy," I murmured. "I had no idea you were so hung."

He smirked. "See what you’ve been missing all this time? How’s your back this morning?"

"Better, I think. I’ll know for sure once I get out of bed."

"No hurry. I’ll make us some breakfast when I get back." He dressed quickly and left the room. Soon, I heard the clacking of the dogs’ nails as they followed him eagerly around the kitchen.

I remember hearing the front door open and shut, but I had fallen asleep by the time he got back.

The ringing phone awakened me. Since the answering machine is set to pick up after five rings and it only rang twice, I assumed Jason picked it up. I pulled on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and set out to find my young man.

When I didn’t spot him in the great room, I called his name.

"Up here," he called from the loft.

As I climbed the steps, I could hear him chatting easily with someone on the other end of the line.

"Yeah, he told me he loves me….No, he hasn’t given me a definite answer about moving in. He says we still have some issues to work out. I know, I know, but I’m impatient. I want to move in so bad. Donnie! You are so bad!" Jason laughed.

Oh, God! He’s talking to Don! He’s Winter’s very own broadcasting system. Jason was sitting in front of the computer. He had obviously been surfing when Don called. Jason smiled when he spotted me and motioned me over. He puckered his lips and I obliged him with a kiss. Jason held the phone receiver to ensure the smooching sound was transmitted to Don.

"Yeah, that’s him. Who’d you think I was kissing? One of the dogs? Oh, you bitch!" He laughed again. "You want to talk to him? Here he is. Bye, Donnie. Love you, too." Jason handed me the cordless phone.

"What did you do to that boy?" Don demanded after Jason handed the phone to me.

"Nothing," I said defensively.

"You must have done something because he sounds the happiest he’s been in a long time. I’m so glad for you. You two make such a nice couple despite the ummm…age differential." Don was trying for understatement, I guess. "He’s such a nice boy."

I was standing behind Jason. I placed my free hand on his shoulder and gave it an affectionate squeeze. I noticed that he had surfed to the University of Wisconsin website. "He is, isn’t he?"

"I am what?" Jason asked.

"You’re a great….lover," I said. I had almost said ‘boy.’

"Well, are you going to let him move in?" Donnie asked as I crossed over to the big leather easy chair in a corner of the loft.

"We’re still in negotiations about that."

"About what?" Jason asked from across the loft.

"About moving in."

Jason stood and started down the stairs. "I think I have a solution…." His voice trailed off.

I propped my feet on the matching footrest.

"You love that boy, Ben. I know you do," Don’s voice said on the other end of the phone.

"Of course I love him."

"Then let him move in." He said it in a calm but forceful voice.

"I am, Don."

"Good boy! I’m so proud of you! I knew you would come to your senses. You two are so right, so perfect for each other…."

Don babbled on but I could no longer concentrate on his words when Jason returned to the loft wearing only a gray pair of FTL boxer briefs. My eyes drank in the virile beauty of the young man I loved. He flashed me a grin and seated himself at the computer desk. He clacked through my CD collection, obviously looking for something. He opened the CD player and pushed the tray closed. The audio program appeared on the flat monitor and began to play music.

It was a custom CD that I had burned with Jason’s help. He had shown me how to download music from the Internet and then burn them to a CD. I am fairly computer literate but Jason is the real expert. Besides, I just don’t have the time to sit and figure things out.

The CD was a collection of slower and mid-tempo music; mostly love songs. Jason teasingly called it the Mushy Mix because it was romantic.

The first song was Eve 6 - Here’s To The Night.

With a grin, he crossed the loft and sat in my lap. He laid his head on my shoulder and nuzzled my cheek. I was instantly hard. Jason was clutching something in his right hand.

"Are you still there, Ben?"

I cleared my throat nervously. "I’m still here."

"I asked you if you were going to church on Christmas."

"Oh, sorry. Yeah, if Dan gets around to digging us out by then."

"What’s going on over there?"

I looked Jason directly in the eyes. "I believe Jason’s trying to seduce me."

"Oh, for the love of Mary Tyler Moore! I’d better let you go, then. Love you, Ben."

"I love you, too, Donnie. Thanks." I pushed the button and tossed the receiver on the carpet.

"OK, you! What’s the meaning of this?"

Jason responded by kissing me. My right hand found it’s way to Jason’s cock that was also hard and straining against the soft cotton fabric.

He leapt out of my lap and pulled my sweatshirt off. "Lift your butt up," he commanded. I did as I was told and he pulled off my jeans and underwear.

"W-what are you doing?"

"I’m seducing you," he answered matter-of-factly. "I want you to fuck me."


"You heard me." He pulled his boxer briefs off and then opened his right hand. There in the palm of his hand was a condom and a tiny bottle of lube. He faced me and draped his thighs over the arms of the chair so that his hot ass crack was positioned over my erection.

He leaned forward to kiss me again.

"Is this your first time?"



"Well, except for my own finger, and that doesn’t count." He smooched me. "I was saving it for you, Ben. I never would let anyone fuck me. I always wanted you to be the first."

"It might be easier on the bed, especially the first time."

"I want to be able to see your face. Let’s try it, please?"

I lubed a finger and worked it in his hot hole. His hot hole accepted my finger without much problem. Shortly, I worked a second finger in.

He churned his hips up and down as his hungry hole devoured more and more of my fingers. We both began to perspire.

"Now, Ben." His throaty whisper inflamed my desire.

I slid the condom on and positioned my rod beneath his hole. The head slipped in but Jason’s face registered some pain. He was gritting his teeth.

"You OK?"

"Just give me a sec."

"Push out like you’re going to take a dump."

He followed my directions and I felt my cock making slow progress into his slick, smooth chute. When my pubes met his ass, he wrapped his arms around my neck.

"Oh, Ben, yes! It feels so good. God, yes!"

My hands went wild over my young lover’s smooth body.

"Fuck me, Ben," he whispered in my ear. "Fuck my hole."

Slowly at first, then with gathering momentum, I began to fuck his ass. Because his legs were spread and draped over the arms of the chair, he could control the rhythm of our lovemaking. He increased the speed to a frenzy in an incredibly short time. His large cock slapped against my chest.

I bent forward slightly and I found I could just get the head of his cock in my mouth.

He was breathing erratically and his balls pulled close to his scrotum. With a loud gasp, he released a huge load all over my chest.

The throbbing of his ass as he ejaculated caused me to shoot my load in his ass.

"Oh Jason, baby! Oh, man!"

Slowly, he raised himself off my pole. It was obvious that his sexual acrobatics had caused him some stiffness in his thighs.

He sat in my lap again and we kissed with fiery passion.

"Was it worth waiting for?"


We held each other for a long time, enjoying the loving afterglow of our sex.

Violet found her way upstairs and sniffed around. I pushed her cold, wet nose away with a smile.

That day, two days before Christmas, I knew that not only had I crossed the bridge, but also I had burned it behind me. I didn’t care. It was my love and passion for my handsome young lover that had started the fire.

We cleaned ourselves up and I made a lunch of soup and salad.

"I was thinking that I wanted to start school," Jason addressed his tomato soup.

"Good boy! Oops!" I covered my mouth. "I mean, good young man!"

He smiled. "I know what you meant. Anyway, I think I know a way. I can commute to the U of W Barron County. And I can take lots of internet courses."

"Do they offer a lot?"

"He-llo! It’s the 21st century, Ben!" He took my hand. "Come on, let me show you."

I pulled on a sweatshirt since it was a bit chilly. Jason settled for just his boxer briefs. He smiled at me as he pulled the chair away from the computer desk.

"Sit," he commanded. "I want to sit in your lap again."

"I thought we weren’t going to do the daddy thing," I said, a bit concerned.

"We’re not. I just like being close to you." He fiddled with the mouse and repositioned the webcam on top of the monitor. "Smile for the camera."

I did. In a few seconds, an image of the two of us smiling at the monitor appeared in the photo-editing program Jason taught me to use.

He snapped a few more including a couple of us kissing.

Jason voiced my thoughts. "What a cute couple. I have an idea! Why don’t you find a Christmasy background and we can send out e-cards?" He kissed my forehead. "I’m going down for some coffee. Want some?"


Being a writer, I knew the power of words. The same words can hurt or heal. I had often used written words to explore my innermost feelings, vent anger, ask questions and propose solutions to those questions.

At that moment, I was at a loss for words. No words could express the complete joy at finally finding my soulmate. Writing was a poor mirror of the contentment I felt. Words were inadequate to express the love I felt for Jason.

Christmas is the time when we give gifts of love. That Christmas, I allowed love back into my life. By letting go of my guilt and old baggage, I had made room in my life for love to move in. By letting go of the residual anger and resentment I felt toward Chris, I freed myself.

I grinned to myself. I composed a short email.

"Hi! Hope all is well with you! Everyone here says ‘hello.’ I’m snowed in this Christmas, but that’s OK, my new boyfriend is here, too. Thought you might want to see a couple pictures of us! Merry Christmas!"

I attached two pictures; one of Jason and I mugging for the camera, and the other of us kissing.

I hit the ‘Send’ button and sent it to Christopher.

Jason climbed the stairs with two mugs of coffee and a small plate of Grammy Dunham’s cookies.

After he set the steaming mugs and the cookies down, I placed my hands on either side of his adorable face and kissed him.

He smiled and his eyes sparkled. "What was that for?"

"Merry Christmas, Jason. And welcome home."

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome at Criticism is welcome, too, as long as you can point out specifics and make suggestions for improvement. And don’t forget to visit my website New chapters are always posted there earlier than here.

Other stories on Nifty:

Paternal Instincts, Family Instincts, Thicker Than Water.....College & Relationships

Pocketful of Stars.......................Young Friends

Resurrection Harry......................Science Fiction

Cooksville Chronicles.................Historical

Tales From the Northwoods.......Beginnings