This Magic Place -- Chapter 7

   I opened my eyes, and the half of me that was awake could see that it was light outside. I looked at my watch and was surprised to see that it was 5:00 already. Time to get my halves together, get up, start breakfast and get my loved one fed and off to work. I turned around on the bed and looked at Dac lying asleep. I liked looking at him. His hair was tousled and down across his forehead. I gently pushed it back. He was lying on his stomach with an arm outstretched and his leg brought up. He looked so peaceful and content. He muttered in his sleep, smiled and rolled onto his back.

    He opened his eyes, looked at me looking at him. He smiled, "Good morning, I love you."

    "Good morning and I love you, too. Shower time and today's the big day."

    He rolled back on his stomach, his face into the pillow, and a muffled, "Oh, let's just stay in bed and maybe it'll all go away."

    "Yeah, I wish, love, but it's just not going to go away." I lifted the sheet, admiring his body. "Oooh, that's gotta be the nicest butt I've ever laid eyes on."

    He rolled back with a warning expression on his face, and in very clipped, evenly spaced words, "Don't even entertain the thought."

    My face was a portrait of innocence, "Who, me? I was just going to rub it a little bit."

    "David, you're as transparent as a glass of water."

    "Well, it looked to me like it could use some nice rubbing."

    "It's fine, thank you. I'll let you know if I need it rubbed."

    I grinned at him, "Well, I can see something else that could sure use some rubbing."

    "Leave him alone," as he began moving toward the edge of the bed. "You practically drove poor Fred crazy last night. And me, too, for that matter. Besides, I gotta go to work today."

    "You didn't enjoy?"

    "I loved it and you darned well know it, but I gotta go to work."

    And I suddenly lunged toward him and pushed him back down on his back, straddling him with my hands on his shoulders, the suddenness of my attack, startling him. His eyes got wide as he looked up at me, my face only inches away from his. "I'm going tell you something you need to know about me, Dac," I growled at him.

    "What? What's wrong?"

    "I LOVE YOU," I practically yelled it and leaned down and gave Fred a big sloppy, smacking kiss and ran into the shower before he could get off the bed.

    "DAVID!," he hollered at me, "one of these days . . ."

    I was laughing fit to kill as I started the shower. "Yeah, yeah, yeah," and he came marching into the shower, with Fred all swelled up and sticking straight out, trying very hard to maintain his dignity and not smile -- which is pretty hard to do when you're stark naked with a hard on. I just smiled and started washing his back. He finally looked over his shoulder and grinned at me.

    "You nervous about telling the men?," I asked him, as we were preparing breakfast.

    "Oh, a little, I suppose," as he was getting things out of the refrigerator and putting them on the table, "although, I pretty much know what their reaction is going to be. At least I think I do."

    "Yeah, I think we pretty much covered that the other day or whenever it was we talked about it." I started breaking eggs into a bowl. "So what're you nervous about?"

    "Confrontation, mainly. Malcolm's probably going to call us a bunch of names -- me in particular, and I'm going to get pissed and probably can his ass on the spot and I'm really not looking forward to it. I mean, I don't want to give him -- or anybody, for that matter -- a lot of grief but I'm not going to take any mouth off him."

    "No way around it; is there?"

    "No, not really. Oh, well, this time tomorrow morning everybody in the county'll know about us."

    "Yep. Sorry about it?," as I started taking up the bacon and starting the eggs.

    "Sorry it has to happen this way but not sorry that I love you, David. Nobody's going to tell me it's wrong or sinful. Least not to my face, anyway."

    I leaned down and kissed him, "I'm proud of you, Bud. Not to mention you're good looking and sexy as hell."

    "I am? Why are you proud of me?," as he looked over at me.

    "For being honest. With yourself, about us, for standing up for what you believe in."

    "Well, you're the same way, David."

    "Yes, I know, but I've had a bit more experience living with this than you have."

    Dac looked at me, "You know something? I still don't consider myself to be homosexual."

    "I don't understand," as I looked at him.

    "I'm not attracted to men. I never have been. Although I got to admit I haven't been attracted to women for some time. But I am in love with a man. You. I was attracted to you the first day we met. Man, you wouldn't believe some of the things that went through my mind that day. I still can't quite believe it. I've never had those thoughts about anyone, certainly not a guy."

    "For instance?"

    "Like what it would be like to make love to you, what you looked like naked, how big it was, how much hair you had around it, what color it was, what it would be like to suck you, to feel myself deep inside you. To kiss you, to hold you in my arms. To tell you all sorts of things. Shit, I'm getting embarrassed. That's what I kept wanting to talk to you about that day at the fishing spot, but I just couldn't let go."

    "No reason to get embarrassed about it now. And I had the same thoughts about you, if you want to know. And we both understood why we couldn't let go of some of those thoughts. We just didn't know each other that well."

    Dac walked over to the stove, next to me, "What thoughts did you have about me?"

    I glanced at him, "Same as you. I wanted to see you naked -- actually, I wanted to take your clothes off you and then put my face in your crotch, smell you, lick you. Get my hands on your butt, too."

    And he gave an embarrassed little laugh, "What is it with you and guys' butts?"

    "Just my guy, among several other things you have that's awfully exciting. It's so compact and tight and round and smooth and firm and the hair that kinda peeks out from your crack just makes it so overall nice looking and I just love getting my hands on it and squeezing it and the smoothness of your skin and kissing you there and on and on."

    "David, you're embarrassing me." And he actually said it with a straight face, too.

    I did a double take, "Oh, get serious. After all the things we've done to each other and with each other? And the things we've said to each other? I hardly think so." I looked at the wall clock, "C'mon, Bud, let's eat. You've only got about 20 minutes before the men will be here." We said grace and began breakfast.

    Dac got up from the table, gave me a kiss as he was putting on his jacket and got a pat on the butt and went out the door.

    I cleaned up in the kitchen and got the brisket out of the oven and took a look at it. "Well, good morning, Mr. Brisket, did you get all nice and done in the oven last night?," and got a loud meoooooowwww in response and there was Tiger, as though she had suddenly arrived in a magic cloud of smoke, sitting on the work table looking at the brisket and me (but more at the brisket) and meowing piteously as though she hadn't been fed for a week or so. What a ham.

    I looked over at her, "Oh, you poor thing, I suppose you're trying to tell me you're dying of starvation and barbecue is the only thing that will save you from impending death?"

    "Meow, meow, meoooowwww!"

    "All right, all right, I suppose you're worth it," as I went over and got her bowl off the floor. I sliced off a small portion and cut it up and put it in the bowl for her. "C'mon, nuisance, wanna eat?," and got a quick meow as she jumped off the table and had her head in the bowl practically before I got it set down.

    "You're going to be the only cat in the county that smells like onions and hickory smoke. You know that?" She was so busy going at it I didn't even get a response.

    I got the brisket out of the baking pan and put it on a cutting board and started thin slicing it. That finished, I put it in a covered serving dish and returned it to the oven and turned it down to barely warm. Next was a cabbage which got shredded, seasonings and dressing added and put in the refrigerator. And finally, a relish tray with pickles, olives, Jalapeno peppers and assorted chilies, pickled peppers and whatnot, also going in the refrigerator. And lunch was ready.

    I went upstairs, shaved, changed clothes and headed out the door. As I got in the Cruiser, Dac came over and stuck his head in the window.

    "Hi, sure would like to give you a big kiss," he said.

    "I'd like to give you one, too. Guess where, but . . ."

    "Yeah, I know where. Where're you heading?," he asked.   

    "The bakery. Gotta get some hard rolls for lunch," I said. "We need anything from the store?"

    "Yeah, milk, we're almost out. Butter if you don't have some on hand somewhere."

    "We do. There's a case in the freezer. I'll pull some out when I get back."

    "Okay, I'll see you later." He gave me a warning look, "Don't you be patting any guys' butts in the grocery store."

    "I wouldn't have to if you'd ever let me get hold of yours," I smiled at him as he walked away and I drove off.

    I got to the bakery, got the hard rolls and then to the grocery store. Didn't see any guys that I was interested in patting anywhere, paid for the milk and headed out the door and on home.

    I pulled up in front of the house and Craig's car was parked in front of the guest cottages and he and Dulce were unloading boxes and clothing.

    "You getting everything taken care?," I asked as they came out for another load.

    "Oh, yeah, Craig's been a big help. I've practically got everything moved out of where I was staying in town," Dulce said.

    "Yeah, a few more boxes from my place and a couple from hers and we'll be moved in," Craig said. "One more trip should do it."

    Dulce looked around, "It's so quiet and peaceful. It's really going to be nice living and working out here."

    "Yeah, I noticed that, too," Craig said. "It was so noisy where I lived. The peacefulness and fresh air will be a nice change."

    "It takes a bit of getting used to, but you'll like it once you do and I think you both will like the work a lot better since you'll be running your end of things rather than taking orders from someone all the time. Either of you need anything in the way of supplies, tools, anything for the apartments, whatever?"

    They both shook their heads no. "Okay, well, I guess it's time to get this luncheon set up. I'll talk to you later," and headed for the house.

    I decided to have the men seated at the work table as the kitchen table was too small. I got a tablecloth on it and put out plates, glasses, silverware and napkins. That should do it. I'll start putting food out as soon as the men come in, I thought to myself. And no more than I had the thought than Dac and Owen came through the door laughing about something. The other men were behind them, and Malcolm last.

    I turned from what I was doing, "Hi, I'm glad you could come for lunch. Have a seat and the food's on its way." I got the food on the table and the men didn't waste any time getting started, passing dishes back and forth. The conversation was lively with a lot of bantering and wisecracking between them. I joined in the conversation here and there and had an opportunity to observe the men individually.

    Owen was blond and blue-eyed with a medium build and a smile on his face most of the time. Looked to be in his mid-30s. Laid back and relaxed with himself, intelligent, good table manners. Very likable.

    Mario, the dark one. Somewhere in his 20s. Probably Italian, I thought judging from his slim, good looks, name and dark coloring. Quiet but with a ready laugh and quick wit. Friends with everyone. Anthony spent as much time watching Mario as he did anybody else or the food on his plate.

    Anthony, the puzzle and the youngest of the group. Slight of build, light complected, light brown hair, pale blue eyes. Nice looking guy. Spends more time listening to the other men, Mario in particular, than in the conversation himself. His face doesn't give his thoughts away. I wondered what he was thinking about. And I wondered if he and Mario were more than friends.

    And finally Malcolm, the oldest, probably in his 40s. Black hair, pock marked face, overweight. Eating, not saying anything. Occasionally looking up at one of the other men. Eyes brooding, unfriendly. Almost as if his mind were off somewhere dwelling on some fevered passion of his own. If it could be said that the other men gave off good vibes, then his definitely were negative.

    Mario and Owen had finished eating and were sitting politely while the others finished up. I looked over at Dac and he caught my glance and nodded imperceptibly. Anthony finished up, leaving only Malcolm still eating -- his third sandwich.

   Dac stood up. "Okay, guys, I got an announcement to make. This isn't work related so don't get all worried. This concerns something else."

    He took a deep breath, glanced over at me, "David and I have become domestic partners, we have committed ourselves to each other and are living together. We are planning a commitment ceremony for later on. And it goes without saying that David and I hope all of you will be able to come and join in the celebration.

    "This doesn't affect your work in any way. Things will go on as before. I'll still be your boss and we'll finish the project here and start on another one the same as we have in the past."

    Anthony turned to Mario, and in a whisper loud enough to be heard, "What's a domestic partner?"

    Mario leaned toward him, "I'll explain lat--"

    "It means, little Anthony," as Malcolm stood up, angry and red in the face and in a loud voice, "that your boss here and this person he is working for are nothing more than butt fucking queers! That's what he's saying, little Anthony. What he is not saying is that he and his partner are going to burn forever in hell for it. And the Lord--"

    Mario turned toward Malcolm, angry, "Why don't you just shut the fuck up, Malcolm, this isn't the time or place."

    "It's always the time for the Lord," Malcolm hollered, if possible getting more red in the face. "The Lord will punish those who have sinned. You," he yelled, pointing a finger at Dac and I, "Will suffer the everlasting damnation, the Lord will punish you, you will burn forever." Malcolm was practically foaming at the mouth.

    White faced, Dac stood up, hands clenched into fists, "MALCOLM!, SHUT UP! NOW! One more word out of you and you're gonna be looking for another job--"

    Malcolm turned toward him with a look of pure animal hatred, "I wouldn't work for you one minute longer, you Godless, sick, disgusting perverts," and suddenly remembering he had a half-eaten sandwich in his hand, threw it almost the length of the table, hitting Anthony in the side of the head, barbecue sauce running down his face, turned and stomped toward the door, thundering one last time, "The Lord will punish you and make you burn," and he looked at Dac and I, "and I will be glad for it." The door slammed on his way out.  And in the heavy silence that followed, we could hear the coughing protest of his pickup as he gunned the engine unmercilessly toward the main gate and out of our lives. Or so we thought.

    Mario had turned toward Anthony and was wiping sauce off his face, talking quietly to him.

   I walked over to Dac just as Owen came up, "Mr. Rinehardt," he said, "The food was excellent and I really had a good time. This has been the most exciting luncheon I've ever been to. I sure hope you'll invite me to the next one," and smiled.

    Dac and I burst out laughing. "Thanks, Owen," Dac said.

    "Same here," I said.

    "You know," he continued, "I have a cousin that's gay. We grew up together, so I know a little about the subject and about some of the religious arguments. I don't have any problems with the two of you. If you and David are happy together, then I'm happy for you. And I'll be happy to work for you. And I'll be at the commitment ceremony and you better have plenty of beer."

    "Hey, congratulations," said Mario as he and Anthony walked up

    "Same here," as Anthony reached out to shake Dac's hand. "Congratulations, Dac, David. I'm happy for you both."

    We stood around talking for a bit and then the men left to go back to work.

    I started picking up things from the table and glanced over at Dac and he was sort of looking out into space, neither sad but not particularly happy, either.

    I grabbed a chair and sat it down next to him, "You know, some of the many, many reasons I love you so much is because you are so loving, kind and gentle, so generous, willing to help, to listen, to laugh, and you care about and try and see the good in other people, and you have all these good stories that you tell me all the time. And you have the sweetest smile I've ever seen and I love you, Dac. C'mon, Bud, don't beat yourself to death over this. It had to happen. One way or the other, it had to happen."

    He looked at me for a moment, "You always know what to say to me; don't you?"

    "I try, love, I try."

    He stood up and gave me a big hug, "I love you. And I better get back to work."

    I finished cleaning the kitchen, decided that we were going to have left-overs for supper and since some of the trees were beginning their fall turning, decided to grab my camera and go for a walk and get in some photography.

    Rather than going north through the clearing into the woods, I decided to head south of the house as there were several stands of Aspen and maple that would be good for distance and close-up shots. Also, southeast of the house, there were several groups of Lombardi Poplar, which would be good for distance shots as they stood like sentinels, their pencil-like height a contrast against the backdrop of the mountain range.

    This area had not been sodded and was overgrown. Occasionally there were wildflowers, some quite attractive such as the ones I was now looking at. A variety of daisy, I thought. These had the typical spear-shaped petals, but they had blood red centers and then I noticed another clump with blue-gray centers and yet another with maroon centers. I got out my close-up rings and began snapping different angles of them, thinking that some of them, enlarged and framed, would make an attractive addition in the library.

    There are times when you are doing something else and your imagination seems to sneak into your conscious mind as if on little cat's paws and suddenly you have in front of you a whole new horizon of mental pictures you never expected. I had been adjusting the camera focus for one of the blood-red daisies that had a metallic looking ant crawling across its center when suddenly the vision of a whole field of these little flowers sprung into my head. In my imagination, there were stands of Aspen, with their leaves making slapping noises in the breeze and when the wind blew just right, the leaves of the poplars sounded like the rustling of paper. Dac was standing among one of the clusters of trees, smiling, half obscured by the trees and partly in their shadow. As I looked closer, he began moving out of my vision, his hand outstretched and smiling, almost beckoning to me, as he slowly receded and disappeared.

    And suddenly, I was back in the field, the vision gone, wondering. Imagination? Who knows? Don't these things happen to us all?

    I finished shooting the daisies and walked on toward the Aspen in the distance. The breeze was slightly cool, the sun warm against my arms and face. I could hear the sounds of birds, meadowlarks, mockingbirds, and the cawing of crows in the distance. In the evening, I wondered if I would be able to hear the sound of turtledove and whippoorwill. I hoped that I would.

    I got my shots of the Aspen and had squatted down, smoking a cigarette and looking off in the distance when I felt something brush against my leg. I whirled around and was greeted by a meow.

    "Tiger, what are you doing here? You're supposed to be guarding the house against burglars and things that go bump in the night," and got a couple of loud meows in response.

    "Oh, c'mon, let's head back. It's almost time for supper or is that why you're out here? To bring me back?," another couple of meows.

    I crossed the clearing, coming around the corner of the house toward the front door. Mario and Anthony were standing by the front steps talking to Dac, Owen, apparently, had left.

    "Hi," as I approached the men.

    Mario turned toward me as I walked up, "Anthony and I were wondering if we could come out some evening and talk with you and Dac privately. Maybe this week, if possible?"

    "Sure, we'd be glad to," I said, glancing at Dac. "But tonight and Wednesday evening we can't, so it will have to be Thursday evening. Would that work?"

    "Yeah, great," Mario said. "What time?"

    "Oh, why don't you call around 7:30 and we can go from there; okay?"

    "That'd be fine. Thanks, Mr. Rinehardt."

    "Mario, my name is David; Mr. Rinehardt makes me feel so old that I think I need a private nurse."

    He chuckled, "Okay, David. Thanks."

    "We'll call Thursday around 7:30 and thanks, David," as Anthony finally spoke up.

    I looked over at Dac, "What was that all about?," as we waved goodbye.

    Dac put his arm around me, "Well, I know but it's confidential and it'd be better for them to tell you. They will. What's for supper, I'm starving?"

    "Yeah, you didn't eat much for lunch," I said. "Bet your tum must be pretty empty."

   "I was a little nervous, but I'm not now. And yes, my tum is about to attack."

    "Well, it's just left-overs, I'm afraid," I said.

    "Oh, good. That barbecue and cole slaw was really excellent. My mom used to make cole slaw and it was almost as good as yours."

    "Well, let's get things warmed up and get you filled up, then."

   "You get some good shots this afternoon?," as Dac stood at the sink washing his hands.

    "Yeah, I think so," as I began getting things out of the fridge. "Some really good shots of some daisies I ran across. If they turn out okay, I'll have them enlarged and hang them in the library. Then I got some distance and close-ups of the Aspen and poplars in the southeast part."

    "You know," Dac said as he glanced over at me with a wicked grin, "I've thought several times it would be kind of neat if you got some pictures of me sort of standing in the Aspen with a big smile and not much else."

    I stopped what I was doing and looked over at Dac, as he turned back, setting the table. "Were you thinking about that this afternoon while I was out there?"

    He looked over at me, "Yeah, why?"

    "Because I had almost that exact same thought. Sort of a fantasy, I guess. You were standing in the Aspen, partly obscured. You didn't have any clothes on and you smiled and put out your hand and stepped back and sort of faded, then disappeared."

    Dac had stopped what he was doing and was just staring at me. "Damn, that's spooky." He didn't say anything for a moment, "You think it was coincidence?"

    "I guess, for want of a better explanation, which I don't have. Well, let's eat. Give me some hands, Bud, so we can give thanks."

    Grace said, we began supper. "Oh, I love good barbecue, and this is the best I've ever had, David. How do you make this?"

    "Well, I make my own sauce and can it. There's a bunch of pint jars of it in the pantry. That's the main part of anything barbecued. That and slow cooking."

    Dac looked across the table at me, "Would you teach me how to make it?"

    I looked up in surprise, "Dac, I'll show you how to make any of the recipes I use. No big secret. And I imagine Dulce would do the same. Oh, damn, I just remembered, they start full-time tomorrow. I haven't even thought about it or made any plans."

    "Don't know why you'd need to. Dulce's a self-starter," Dac said, "She'll have this kitchen completely inventoried and organized, and the rest of the house, too, with lunch on its way and supper in the making. And all by 10 in the morning. Without you saying a word. And I imagine Craig will be out in the orchard bright and early making out a list of the to-dos and so forth. Neither of them are the type to sit around waiting for someone to tell them what to do."

    "Yeah, you're probably right. It's just that I wanted to--" and the phone rang.

    "--ease them into this their first day," as I headed for the phone.

    I picked up the phone, said hello, and Kevin was on the other end.

    "Is it true?," he asked.

    "Huh? Is what true?," I said.

    "Is what they're saying about you in town true?"

    "Kevin, I don't know what they're saying, I haven't been in town since early this morning."

    "They're saying that you and Dac are lovers and that you are living together. And, well, Malcolm's spouting his usual shit, but you don't want to know about that. I just want to know if it's true about you and Dac. Being lovers," Kevin said somewhat defensively.

    "Yes, it is, but let me explain. Are you listening, Kevin?"

    "I'm listening. I'm not passing judgment on you or Dac."

    "Good. Dac and I have become domestic partners. We are committed to each other. We will probably have a commitment ceremony next summer, and if you behave yourself, you'll be invited. We love each other very much. And yes, we are lovers. Now, do you understand?"

    "Yes, I do and congratulations. Very much congratulations. And I need to ask a favor, David. I need to talk with you and Dac. It's really important and I can't talk to anyone else, it's just too personal. I gotta talk with someone, and you and Dac are the only ones that I feel comfortable talking to. Or trust, for that matter."

    I thought about it a moment, "Is this an emergency, Kev?"

    "No . . . Yes. Yes, it is. I can't handle this any longer, David."

    "Okay, get in the car and come right on out. Hit the buzzer on the gate three times. That way I'll know it's you and I'll let you in. Okay?"

    "Yeah, I'm on my way," and the phone went dead.

    I walked back into the kitchen and Dac was still sitting at the kitchen table.

    "Did you hear all that?"

    "Well, parts and pieces. Kevin is coming out and has a problem?"

    "Yeah, an emergency. His words. Wants to talk with both of us. Can't wait. First thing he wanted to know was if it was true about you and me and then this other."

    Dac didn't say anything at first, "I think I know what it's about."

    "What?" I had a feeling about this.

    Dac shook his head, "Let's wait for Kevin. I might be wrong."

    I got up and made another pot of coffee and we sat making small talk 'till the buzzer rang and I let Kevin in.

    He came sailing over the rise just as I opened the door, got out of the car and walked up the front steps. If ever there was a walking definition of 'haggard,' he was it. He looked drained. A bruise on his forehead was showing an ugly blue and purple combination, and he apparently hadn't shaved in two or three days. His hair was messed up, and his ready smile was simply gone. His clothes looked as though he had slept in them, and probably had.

    He came to a standstill and said hello as Dac came into the hallway.

    "Hi, Kev," Dac said, looking him up and down, "Man, you look like shit."

    "Hi, Dac, David. Yeah, I know I look awful. Thanks, both of you, for letting me come out on such short notice, I really appreciate it."

    "That's all right, Kev," I said. "Let's go in the library where it's comfortable."

    "I'll get you a cup of coffee," Dac said as he headed into the kitchen. "Okay?"

    "Yeah, fine. Sounds good."

    We settled in the library, Kevin taking sips of coffee, trying to get his thoughts in order.

    I handed him a pack of cigarettes. "Here, Kev."

    "Oh, thanks. Musta left mine somewhere," as he lit one, taking several drags.

    He looked at both of us and sighed, "I guess there's no easy way to say this. There never is. I've known about this since I was in high school and, well, I'm gay. I've kept it a secret all these years, all through high school and college. No one knew about me. I never got together with any guy or anything like that. I met Nancy in college and we started dating and, well, we got married because I really did care for her and I thought maybe marriage would cure the problem. But it didn't. The need and desires just got worse and worse.

    "I met a guy in Taos a couple of years ago at a real estate seminar. We went out to eat together and got to talking and found out we had a lot in common. We got together at another seminar later on and well, we became friends. He wasn't married. We talked back and forth, corresponded, got together whenever I had an out-of-town conference or seminar that wasn't too far for him to drive to meet me.

    "The friendship grew and we became very close. I eventually started making up stories to Nancy about seminars and conferences that I had to attend so we could be together. I used vacation time at work in order to do that. I knew that things -- at least for me -- had went way beyond friendship and that I was very much in love with him. I knew, or at least was pretty sure, that Dwayne had the same feelings toward me.

    "Last year we got together in his home town and went to a movie and then to his apartment afterwards for a drink before I had to go back to the motel. And, well, one thing led to another and we had sex for the first time. I can't even begin to describe that experience. I simply didn't know that anything could be so beautiful. It was the most exciting, passionate experience that I've ever had. It was all that I had dreamed of and so much, much more. He told me he loved me and I told him how much I loved him and cared for him. We were so happy. I never made it back to the motel. We spent most of the night in bed together. Leaving him that morning and coming home was the hardest thing I've ever done."

    Dac got up from the chair and sat down next to Kevin on the divan and put his arm around him.

    "You're right, Kev, you can't describe it. The same thing happened to David and I. It was beautiful beyond words. Still is. We understand."

    Kevin looked up at Dac, the tears running down his face, "I wish this had a happy ending, Dac, so much I wish it. Four days ago, I called Dwayne at his apartment from the office after everyone had left for the day. We hadn't had a chance to talk about the things that happened that night or anything and we needed to get together. His mother answered and I asked if could speak with Dwayne. She wanted to know who I was and I told her we were business associates and had worked on some real estate projects together. And I asked again if I could speak with Dwayne and she began crying and said Dwayne was dead. He had been killed in a train wreck coming home from a seminar in Denver the day before.

    "I guess I made the sympathetic remarks that one makes at a time like that and eventually I hung up. I was in shock. I didn't know what to do. I knew I needed to talk to somebody but I wasn't sure whether either one of you would understand and there wasn't anybody else that I knew that I could talk to. So, I got in the car and started driving. I don't even know where I went. All I can remember was driving down some dirt road thinking over and over, Dwayne is gone, Dwayne is gone. I ran off the road and into some trees and banged my head on the steering wheel and I started crying and crying and crying. It seemed like I was there for hours. I remember the sun was in my eyes as I headed back to town, sick in my heart and hating God for taking away the one thing in my life that was precious, my Dwayne.

    "I got home and got hit with a bombshell. Apparently Nancy had gotten suspicious about the number of seminars and conferences out of town and overnight and she called the office to verify the dates -- so she said. And when the receptionist told her that there were no conferences or seminars on those dates, she figured I was seeing some woman on the side. There was a jewelry store receipt in there because Dwayne's birthday came up and I bought him a gift, so that just added fuel to the fire.

    "She had her bags packed and left within the hour. Took the other car. She wouldn't tell me where she was going, only that she was getting a divorce. I didn't really care, the marriage died several years ago.

    "I sat in that house ever since. I called work and told them I was sick. I got up one morning and there were a couple of empty liquor bottles on the floor in the bedroom. I must have really tied one on, but I don't remember if I did.

    Kevin was sitting hunched down in the divan next to Dac, his hands held tightly together in his lap, trying so hard to not lose control, "Dwayne's funeral was today and I couldn't go because it was for family and immediate relatives and I wasn't a relative. But I still wanted to go to the cemetery where he is buried and at least pay my last respects to him, but I couldn't even do that because I'm so fucked up in my head that I just don't trust myself to even drive. That's why I had to talk to you. Because half of me just didn't want to live anymore and the other half was scared that I'd do something about it. I was afraid to get out on the highway.

    "It hurts so much," he managed to get out. "I'm so miserable. I don't even know whether I have a job anymore or what's going to happen," and he looked up at Dac, "I don't even care."

    And he lost it, and doubled over, his hands over his face, sobbing hard, not making much of a sound.

    And Dac, very gently put his arms around him and drew him against him. And quietly started talking to him, "Let it go, Kev. Just let it go. It's okay. Everything's gonna be okay. You're gonna be all right." And Kevin put his arms around Dac and held on tightly while the tide of sorrow washed over him.

    I started to say something, thought better of it, got up and went over and sat next to Kevin on the divan and started rubbing his back.

    "I'm so sorry, Kevin," I said quietly. "So very, very sorry. You can stay out here as long as you need to. You're always welcome. Whatever Dac and I can do to help, we will."

    "I know," he said, beginning to get some control back, "and I love you both for it."

    "Kev," I said, "have you eaten anything today?"

    "I don't know. Probably not. At least, I don't remember eating anything."

    "You need to eat. C'mon, let's go in the kitchen and get some food in you."

    We all went back to the kitchen and I got Kevin set down at the table and warmed up some soup and made scrambled eggs and toast for him. I don't think he even tasted or wanted what he ate, just shoved it in his mouth and swallowed.

    "I feel a little better," he said. "Thanks, David. I'm so glad you and Dac listened to me. Don't know what I'd have done if I kept this bottled up inside much longer."

   "It always helps to talk to someone. Kevin, I want you to stay here tonight, you can sleep in the guest room -- it's the room right next to ours. It has a bath and shower if you feel up to it tonight. I think, after having told us all that you just did, you'll probably be able to sleep without any trouble. You need food and rest so you can get back on your feet. Tomorrow, Dulce will look after you -- at least in the afternoon. Dac and I will be here in the morning but we have to leave for Santa Fe in the afternoon to pick up my brother at the airport.

    "And tomorrow -- probably the afternoon will be the best -- I want you to talk with someone. He works here. He lost someone just recently and has had a pretty hard time of it, but he is a little further along than you and I'm pretty sure he would be willing to help. I think you'll like him. I'm not asking you to tell him what you told us -- unless you want to -- just get acquainted with him. He may even put you to work helping him -- in fact, I may even suggest it to him when I talk with him in the morning. Just consider him a possible friend. Okay?"

    "Yeah, fine, David. Thanks for everything. I'm feeling really wiped out and I think I'll go on to bed."

    "I'll go with you and show you where the room is," I said, as I got up from the table. I went up with him and showed him the room and told him I would check on him before Dac and I went to bed. He nodded okay and I went back downstairs.

    Dac was still sitting at the table, drinking a cup of coffee.

   "What's this about going to Santa Fe tomorrow?," he said. "You never said anything about needing to go."

    "I told you yesterday when you--" and I stopped as I remembered, "Oh, no, I forgot. Dac, I'm sorry, really I am. I meant to tell you when you got back yesterday evening with the groceries, but somehow we got sidetracked and I completely forgot it. I really am sorry. Jerry is flying in to Santa Fe tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 to come and visit for a while. I called him while you were gone to get groceries and talking with Dulce and Craig. I was hoping that maybe you could ask Owen to take over and we could go together to meet him. I'm really sorry."

    "Do you want me to pat you on the butt and say it's all right?"

    I smiled at him, "Would you?"

    Dac looked at me with a big smile on his face, "Well, bring it over here and I'll consider it."

    I brought myself over and got a warm hug to go along with a pat and several rubs.

    "Oh, you smell good," as I started rubbing his bottom.

    "Yeah?," Dac whispered in my ear, "You wanna go upstairs and fool around?"

    "I'd fool around with you most anywhere."

    "Yeah, I know," he said, "but it's better in bed when we're both naked. Besides, you get to see my body and everything."

    "You're right, it completely slipped my mind." I moved in his arms, "Ouch," he said.

    "What's wrong?," I asked.

    "Oh, with Malcolm being gone, I was helping the men load some trash into the back of the pickup and I guess I pulled something.  Anyway, it hurts when I move my shoulder a certain way."

    "Well, c'mon, let's get you in bed. I've got some really good smelling lotion and I'll give you a backrub. I may not stop there."

    "Sounds good," he muttered into my ear.

    I pressed against him. "You got a flashlight in your pocket, again?"

   "Yeah, the one that lights you up so well."

    "That's what I thought," I said.

    "How do you want me?," giving me a wicked smile as he got on the bed.

    "Just about any way I can get you. Oh, on your stomach will be fine. Oh, I forgot," as I got up and started putting on my robe.

    "What?" Dac rolled to one side looking up at me.

    "I told Kevin I'd check on him before we went to bed. Be right back."

    "Mmmph," he mumbled, as I went out the bedroom door.

    As I got to the guest room, I saw that Kevin hadn't closed the door, which means, I thought --

    "Yes, there you are. Just what I thought," I whispered to Tiger who was curled up between his legs. Kevin was laying under the covers on his stomach with one bare foot sticking out and sound asleep.

    I didn't see any clothes laying around and lifted the covers a bit to see if he had taken them off. A bare butt and leg looked back at me and I stuck his foot back under and covered him up. Must have put them somewhere else, I thought, glad to see he wasn't sleeping in his clothes.

    I looked at Tiger, she looked at me and went meow.

    "You be good," I whispered and left.

    "Was he asleep?," Dac said, as I entered the bedroom.

    "Yeah, sound asleep and guess who's keeping him company?," I asked.

    "Tiger," he laughed. "Figures. She gravitates to anything soft and warm."

    I started rubbing some lotion together in my hands, "Now, show me where your miseries are."

    He pointed in the general direction of his right shoulder. I started at the back of his neck, working my way down, pushing my fingers deep into the layers of muscle trying to ease the tension that I found.

    "Oh, that feels so good. Oh, yeah, that helps. You do such a good job, David. Oh, yeah, that feels good. Oh, maaaannnn."

    I kept working further down, with him sounding like a little oinker, grunting, groaning, and practically squealing contentment every inch of the way. I poured some lotion on his bottom and commenced rubbing both cheeks.

    "At last, mine, all mine," I said.

    "Yeah," he practically gurgled, "I decided to give you a treat."

    "Yeah, one for each hand. What more could I want?"

    I rubbed his bottom until the skin started getting warm and then put a finger in his crack, rubbing back and forth finding his opening and easing the tip of my finger in him and he gasped, then I started working down the rest of his body, his legs, calves and finally his feet.

    "Okay, Bud, turn over and let's get the front side of you."

    He turned over and I spread his legs and positioned myself in between and began rubbing his neck, shoulders, arms and chest and all the while, Dac was gazing up at me and smiling and then whispered something.

    "What?," I said.

    "C'mere," he said, and I leaned down and he whispered in my ear, "I love you, you know that?"

    I whispered back, "I thought that's what you said. I love you, too." We started kissing.

    "Is that Fred I feel down there?," I asked.

    "Probably. He thinks he's going to get a massage. He's feeling left out of things."

    "Tell him to be patient. I'll get to him in a minute."

    Dac raised his head off the pillow and in a somewhat loud voice, "Hey, cool it, Fred, your time will come."

    I laughed, "You think he'll pay any attention to you?"

    "About as much as Tiger does, which is to say none whatsoever. Let's see, where were we?"

    "Right about here," as I leaned down again and kissed him.

    "Oh, yeah, now I remember. Umm, I love your massages."

    "Yeah? Well, I love giving my guy massages."

    "Am I your guy?," he asked.

    "Oh, you're my sweet guy, all right, forever and always."

    "Well, you're mine. No doubt about it," he said.

    I laughed. "You think we're getting a little cheesy here?"

    "You mean like corny or smaltzy? I suppose so but it's true."

    "I know. I think I better continue. Someone I know is getting a bit antsy," as I kept working my way down his chest, stomach, hips and finally into the soft, dense black hair. I poured more lotion in my hands and rubbed them together. I wrapped a hand around him.

    "You're hard as a rock," I whispered, "I've never seen you so hard."

    "I can't help it, man. You got me so turned on when you did that with your finger. And I'm not the only one that's turned on, either."

    "I know but I want to take care of you at the moment," as I poured lotion on his dick and began rubbing it all over and started slowly stroking it, gently stroking the head, down the shaft, then up again and repeating it. Slowly, feather light.

    "Oh, that feels so good. I can't believe how good that feels, David. You're driving me nuts."

    I leaned forward and began sucking his nipple and then the other and gradually moved down his body in a sort of combination of lotion and the scratch of my beard. I moved on the bed and raised his legs onto my shoulder and began licking his balls, sucking one into my mouth then the other, then licking the hair below. I spread his cheeks, letting my mouth and nose gradually slide downward into his cleft, my tongue finally finding his opening and licking across it several times, all the while stroking him slow and easy, building the intensity. Then I pushed my tongue inside him.

    "Ahhh, fuck, man. Ohh, David, David. I'm going to shoot, man. David, I can't hold it," and I rammed my tongue in him as far as I could and began stroking him harder and faster and his hands fisted in the covers and his body tensed and he cried out in a series of long, drawn-out oohs and aaahs as the sperm shot from him in thick, ropy streams, practically covering the trunk of his body. I moved up beside him and kissed him.

    "You still with us?," I asked.

    "I have never went off like that in my life. I think I broke it. David, I love you."

    I glanced downward, "No, he's still there. One happy fellow. Looks kinda petered out, though."

    "Oh, he is that."

    "Let me get a washcloth," as I got out of bed. I returned and started wiping up the aftermath of our lovemaking. That finished, I moved up and lay down beside him and he snuggled into the crook of my neck, making quiet little oohs as I held him, running my hand through his hair murmuring to him. And finally, I realized he was asleep. Oh, well, I thought, he's happy and content and that makes me happy and content and I began drifting off.

    Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up, lying on the far side of the bed, the vestiges of the horrible dream just beginning to dissipate. In the dream I could still remember how alone and frightened I was. Dac was gone and there was the laughter of insanity and madness and hate. The light and beauty and love had gone -- I didn't know how or where but it was gone and I was alone. So terribly alone.

    "Dac? Are you awake? Dac? Wake up, Dac."

    "Mmmph, David, whatsamatter?," still half asleep.

    "Just hold me," as I rolled into his arms and wrapped tightly around him.

    And suddenly he was wide awake, "You're shaking, what's wrong?," as he held me tightly.

    "Dream," I managed to mutter through clenched teeth.

    "It's okay, it's over. It was just a dream. I've got you. Everything is going to be all right, David. I love you. It's okay."

    And I began to relax in his arms and the heat of his body, and his body against mine suddenly was becoming urgency, need. I felt the heat of his hardness against me.

    "Oh, Dac, I need you. I need you so bad. I need you, man." I was beside myself with desire spurred on by my fear and the need to negate what I had just experienced.

    A pause and then he understood and he suddenly was on top of me, holding me, kissing me, his hardness thrusting and rubbing against me, then my legs being lifted and a pause and then he began entering me and I thought I was going to lose consciousness at the fiery intensity I was experiencing as his body began filling me, touching me everywhere and he was deep inside me, huge, majestic and the sperm suddenly shot from my body and I cried out, hiding my face in the crook of Dac's neck, my arms tight around him as the spasms shook me. And Dac began moving inside me, deep, long strokes and I felt myself responding immediately.

   "Oh, Dac, yes, yes," on the edge of a scream, moving down a chasm of growing intensity, burning bright, and brighter still. His body tensed and he thrust deep and completely. I exploded yet again, a kaleidoscope of bright colors as I felt his seed filling me, completing us.

    And suddenly I was crying, holding onto him as he was holding me, my face buried against him.

    "What's wrong, David? Are you all right? Why are you crying? What's wrong?"

    "I can't help it, Dac, I love you so much, I just can't help it."

    And he just wrapped his arms tighter about me and began whispering in my ear, "I will always love you, my sweet, loving David, our hearts will always be together."

    And I finally began to get control of myself and about that same time I heard -- felt, really -- Dac chuckle.

    "What's funny? Are you laughing at me?"

    "No, I was thinking we're really getting cheesy here."

    "I don't care," I said. "I like cheese. It's good for you, and it tastes good, and . . . and . . . oh, I love you so much."

    "I know and I love you, David. Now hush, my one and go to sleep."

    And he put his arms around me, and I felt warm, secure. I slept.

And there you have it for chapter 7. Yes, I know, no piano. Not going to make promises this time. It'll happen when it happens. Write and let me know what you think of this chapter -- if you're not too mad at me. I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Hope all of you get what you want. Harlequin, DacAndDavid@MSN.Com