THOSE GOLDEN EYES
The following days slipped by too fast. The hours they both worked dragged too slow. They took turns playing host to each other at night. Dave talked Joe in to running with him on the mornings that he stayed at his place. The other mornings Dave compromised by sleeping in that extra hour, although, they usually did very little sleeping.
It was Saturday morning again. It had been a month since they met. They jogged up the street towards Dave house. They were laughing and horsing around, playing grab-ass like a couple of kids as they cooled down from a three mile jog. They didn't notice the big black Lincoln parked in front of the house, nor the large plump old woman dressed in black, standing on the porch, arms folded under her ample breasts, her gray hair pulled back into a severe bun at the base of her skull, nor the stern frown on her dumpling face. Dave whispered something intimately smart-assed to Joe. Joe grabbed him around the neck and planted a big sloppy kiss on his cheek. Dave pulled away and started up the lawn when he heard her. Her strident voice cracked the morning. It was Mrs.Way.
"It had been reported to me that this was happening. William is barely in his grave and you are already out playing around on him. Have you no respect, David Gates?"
Her strident harsh voice sent cold chills down Dave's back. Joe froze as though he had looked upon the Medusa. Dave strode across the lawn and stopped at the bottom of the steps looking up at the daunting old harpy who was blocking his way onto the porch. Although he showed her respect for being the mother of his deceased lover, he had no love for the woman.
"Bill has been dead for over a year now, Mrs. Way."
He had never in all the years that he had known the woman been invited to call her anything other than Mrs. Way. Where as Dave's mother had told Bill to call her Mom or Jean from the beginning of their long relationship. But then, there was a universe of difference between Bill's unloving, and unlovable mother and Dave's warm generous mom.
"My late husband has been dead for forty-three years and I am still in mourning for him." She was imperious in her pronouncement.
Dave looked up at her.
"It is your choice to waste your life in that manner, Mrs. Way. I certainly don't know why you would since you despised the man.
As he spoke he stepped off the walk, grabbed the post on the corner of the porch and swung himself up onto it. Now at eye level, the old crone was not so intimidating.
"Bill told me once, Mrs. Way, that he did not want me to throw my life away mourning his passing. He wanted me to continue living and to find someone to share my life with. He didn't want me to become, in his own words, a bitter old crone like you."
She ignored his insult and attacked again.
"It's shameful the way you have already forgotten him, after all he did for you."
"And I did as much for him, Mrs. Way."
"Hmpf." She replied.
"Have you visited his grave even once?" Dave asked. "I have never seen any flowers on his grave accept the ones I've placed there, Mrs. Way. I have visited his grave weekly. How many times have you?"
She stared at him with eyes filled with hatred and then tried a different tact.
"I did not contest William's will out of respect for my son. I regret that I did not. You do not deserve anything he left you."
" You didn't contest because your lawyer told you there was no way you could win. Bill knew you would try, even though you have more money than God. He made sure that his will was airtight, just as his dad did with his will. There has never been a way for you to touch Bill's inheritance."
"I'll figure some way to get you yet." She stomped down the three steps, turned and shook her fist at him. "You made my son queer. I'll never forgive you for taking my chance for grandchildren from me."
"The grandchildren you never had are very lucky that they didn't have to know you, Mrs. Way. Now go back to that big empty mansion and leave me alone. You may keep in mind, madam, that it is my house you are living in. Bill had hoped I would toss you out on your ear. But you are Bill's mother, so I won't do that. You may live there until you die."
She turned and strode to her car. She screeched, "Jeffery, the door."
The skinny chauffeur jumped out and ran around to open her door. She glared at Dave one more time before the door, with it's darken window, hid her from view. Jeffery smirked at Dave as he slithered back around the car. Dave ignored it, walked down the steps and held out his hand to Joe who was still frozen on the spot.
"Come on, let's go shower. We both have to go to work today."
Joe trotted across the lawn, but ignored Dave's hand as he stared at the departing black car.
"Wow, what a harridan. That was Bill's mother?"
"Yeah, that's her."
"So what was that all about? I mean, why would she care what you do at this point?"
"Well, it's a long story."
They were in the house now. Dave pulled his sodden sweat shirt over his head, as they headed up the stairs to the bedroom. Joe followed suit. As they pulled off their shoes and shucked off their shorts and jock straps Joe kept eyeing Dave, waiting to hear more. Dave sat on the edge of the bed, deep in thought, unaware of Joe's curious stare. He sighed. Joe sat down beside him, and took his hand in both of his.
"Is it that bad?"
Dave looked up into Joe's golden eyes. Once again he silently told Bill how lucky he was to be loved by this man. He forgot the question. Joe smiled, seeing the love in Dave's eyes.
"Dave? We have to talk. I heard a lot today that you have not told me about."
Dave looked up at him, his face blank. His thoughts had been far away.
"I thought I was going to marry a lowly shop keeper. Now I hear that you are a wealthy eccentric."
That brought Dave back to the present.
"I'm not eccentric. I'm as normal as you." He grinned. "Let me change that. A normal guy wouldn't go around designing and building award winning towers just because he got a whim, now would he?" He sighed, staring at the sweaty sock in his hand. "Yeah, Joe, I've got millions. I forget about it most of the time. I don't need it. I didn't want it. But Bill insisted that it go to me rather than his mother. God knows she doesn't need it. I don't need it either. I'm happy the way I live, Joe."
Joe bucked his head in a nod of acceptance. He didn't understand it, but then he had always had the money to do what he wanted. He lived in the standard in which he had been raised. Dave obviously did too. Dave lived in his modest two bedroom home in an older neighborhood. Joe lived in the penthouse of the most prestigious building this side of Chicago.
As the days and weeks past, they continued trading off where they slept each night. Dave seemed to be accumulating more and more clothes in Joe's penthouse. Joe always took his clothes with him when he left Dave's in the morning. While Joe had been aware of this from the beginning, it took Dave awhile to realize it. When he did, he felt hurt that Joe continued to be just a guest in his home, while he had just made himself at home at Joe's. As he thought about it he wondered if he had over stepped the bounds. Maybe Joe wasn't yet comfortable in the relationship. Maybe he should step back and give him space.
It was the middle of the afternoon as he sat at his desk mulling this over. He knew Joe wouldn't be home for at least four hours. He decided to remove his clothes and stop being so presumptuous. He walked home, got his car and drove to the Tower.
He parked under the portico and walked up to the desk. Tim had just come on duty. He smiled a Dave.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Gates."
"Hi, Tim. I've been leaving my clothes here. I need to gather them up and take them back home. I'm going to have to start coming over to dress if I don't."
"No problem, Sir, go right on up."
The young guard opened the elevator for him. Dave ascended to the penthouse. He hadn't realized that he had accumulated so much. He went to the kitchen for a grocery bag which he filled with socks and underwear. With the handles of the bag over his arm he hugged all of the hanging clothes to his chest and heaved them off the bar. He managed to open the elevator and punch the right button to descend to the lobby.
As he approached the car he had no idea of how he was going to get the trunk open with out dropping everything. Tim ran to give him a hand. He took the load from Dave and allowed him to fish the keys out of his pocket. He opened the trunk and Tim dropped the load into it.
"Thanks, Tim. I don't know what I would have done.
"No problem, Mr. Gates. Glad to be of service." Tim acted like he wanted to say something more, but seemed uncomfortable about it. Dave looked at him. Tim looked worried.
"Is there something you want to say, Tim?"
"Yes, Sir," he cleared his throat, "I was just wondering if this" he nodded at the trunk, "means that you won't be returning. Sir?"
"Oh, I'll be coming back, Tim. Don't worry your head about that."
"I'm glad to hear it, sir. If I may say so, it's been nice to see Mr. Paolini so happy lately."
"I apologize, I didn't mean to embarrass you. It's just that Mr. Paolini had always been so introverted until he met you. He's such a nice man. I'd hate to see him sad again."
"Well, Tim, I promise to do my best to keep Joe smiling."
Tim was helping old Mrs. Yorkland get her groceries into one of the regular elevators when Joe entered the building. Joe simply used his card key to open the elevator himself, so Tim didn't have a chance to tell him that Dave had removed his clothes but that he would be coming back.
Joe started stripping his work clothes off as soon as the elevator door closed. He stepped into the foyer with them draped over his arm, his boots in his hand. He headed directly into the bedroom, dropped the clothes on a chair and went into the bath.
He turned the water on in the shower, and adjusted the temperature. As he started to step in, he stopped. His subconscious mind had caught that there was something not right in the bedroom. He turned and walked back in to the room. He looked around. The top drawer of the dresser was not closed completely, and the closet door was open. He glanced into the closet. The side he had allocated to Dave was empty. He turned and opened the drawer. Dave's things were gone.
He sat down on the edge of the bed. His mind in a quandary. What did this mean? Ice gripped his heart. Dave had moved out without even saying a word. Why? This morning they had parted like every other morning since they had met. And yet, Dave had moved his clothes out with a word.
Maybe he left a note. Joe looked around the room. There was no note. He wandered into the living room and then the kitchen. No note. His eyes blurred. He sat down at the kitchen table, hugging his arms to his chest. He wasn't even worth leaving a note for, just as he hadn't been worth Eric's fidelity. The pain was too much; he blanked his mind. He crawled into the inner most depths of his being, curled up and hid from the pain of rejection. He just sat there rocking his upper body. His world had crashed.
An hour and a half later when Dave arrived Joe didn't hear the elevator door open, nor did he hear Dave calling his name as he searched for him.
When Dave stepped out of the elevator he instantly felt that something was wrong. The apartment was too quiet. He went into the bedroom. Joe's clothes were laying across a chair. The drawer he had been using was hanging open and the closet door, which he knew he had left open, was closed. Dread filled his heart. He knew then that he had fucked up.
But where was Joe? He called out his name as he peeked into the bathroom. The water was running in the shower. Dave reached in an shut it off. He wandered into the livingroom. Not seeing Joe anywhere, he wandered out into the garden, all the while calling his name. He went back into the house. He stood in the doorway a moment and then headed for the kitchen. At first he didn't notice Joe sitting on a chair in the corner of the breakfast nook. The movement of his rocking caught his eye and he turned to see Joe sitting there naked and rocking, his eyes blank, his arms wrapped about his chest.
'Oh God! Have I ever fucked up?' Dave thought to himself.
There was no response from him. He fell to his knees and hugged him. Joe's arms fell limply to his sides,
"Joe? What's the matter? Joe, I'm here. Joe?"
He struggled to lift him to his feet and hugging him to his chest. Dave succeed in getting him to stand; he stood there unmoving.
"Damn, you're cold fellow. Lets get you into a warm shower."
He drunk-walked him to the bed room. It took a large effort, Joe was so much bigger than Dave. He sat Joe on the bed and stripped his own clothes off. He pulled Joe back to his feet and aimed him toward the shower. He adjusted the water temperature, duck walked him in and pulled the door closed. He turned Joe to face him. He embraced him, running his hands up and down his back, as the water cascaded on his shoulders . Joe's face rested against Dave's neck, his body relaxed . Dave raised the water temp a little. Joe start to come around. His arms came up and embraced Dave. He whimpered. He let out a heaving sigh. His whole body gave a huge shudder.
Dave notice the natural arousal Joe had every time their bodies touched. He reacted the same way, but ignored it.
"I thought you had left me." Joe whispered into his neck.
"I'll never leave you, Joe."
"Your clothes are gone."
"I realized this morning that you never leave an article of clothing at my house. And I had a closet full here. I figured I must have over stepped the bounds of our relationship, so I removed them. That's all."
"Why would you think that?" Joe asked, pushing back to look at Dave.
"Why have you never left any clothing in my home?"
Joe was quiet for a moment as he thought.
"I never even thought about it. It's just the way I was raised I guess. My mom was very strict about leaving my clothes laying around."
"Oh." Dave said, after mulling it over a moment. "I guess I was reading things into it that weren't true."
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing, Joe. My assumption was apparently wrong."
Joe pushed away. Dave dropped his arms to his side.
"What were you assuming?"
A pain flickered across Dave's face. He turned away. Joe grabbed his arm and turned him back to face him.
"Don't close me out, Dave. Talk to me."
Dave wouldn't meet Joe's eyes.
"I just get the feeling that you don't feel totally secure in this relationship. I keep getting the feeling that you are holding back. That you aren't ready to commit to this--- us as a couple. The clothes were just a bit of it. I didn't want to pressure you, so I took them back home."
"I see. The tide has turned; it's you that now waits for me.
"What do you mean, Joe?"Turning and looking into Joe's face. It was Joe's turn to look away.
"You're right, Dave. I do hold back."
"Why, Joe? I've committed myself completely to you. You are the center of my universe. What are you afraid of?"
"I haven't told you about Eric."
"Eric? There's another man in your life? God where would you find the time? Your always with me?"
"Dave. Stop it. You're assuming again. Eric is dead."
"Let's get dressed and I'll tell you over dinner."
Dave kept looking at him apprehensively as he dressed. They went directly to the basement garage and got into the Little Red Ferrari that Joe had brought back from Italy. Joe kept staring ahead not looking at Dave, which only made Dave more nervous. He drove the few blocks to GioGio's like he was demon-chased. He stalked into the restaurant, nodded at Gio and went directly to his table at the back of the room. Dave smiled and greeted Gio, giving him a hug before following Joe. When Gio inquired what was wrong, Dave shrugged and half-smiled.
Instead of sitting next to Joe as he usually did, Dave sat across from him where he could look directly at him. Joe scowled as he noticed, but didn't say anything. A waiter came over with a carafe of Chianti and two glasses. Joe picked up the Carafe and filled the glasses, handed one to Dave and tossed back the glass of wine as though it were only a shot. He sat the glass down refilled it and looked at Dave.
"I assume you're going to tell me what ever it is you have to be sorry about."
Joe nodded. He continued to stare at Dave. Dave held his gaze waiting for him to speak.
"Right after I got with my masters degree I met Eric. He was a Sophomore here at U. It took a bit, but I fell head over heels in love with him. I thought that it was the same with him. He met my passion with just as much or more of his own. I thought I had truly found my soul mate."
He continued through the whole sordid tale leaving out no detail.
"I felt like my heart had been ripped out. I thought he had killed my soul. I kept seeing him every where around campus. I would run from him every time. I could not speak to the abomination. When he would call I hung up without saying a word to him. He persisted. I finally fled to Italy. I stayed eighteen months with Gio's family. I never told anyone but Gio about why I was there. I just let them assume it was a broken heart over a girl. It was during this time that Gio came out to me and asked to come to America with me when I returned. I stayed away from anywhere that I could possibly run into Eric. He was still living in my house.
"Less than a year later he picked up a trick that beat and raped him, and then mutilated him leaving him to bleed to death. The man stole his car, TV and a few other things. He was picked up with in an hour after the crime. He was stopped for reckless driving. The police discovered Eric laying in his own blood, still alive. His cock and balls were gone. The police supposedly never found them. He died later in the hospital.
"No one deserves that kind of death. However, I didn't feel sorry for him. He asked for it.
"Anyway, the day I walked out of the bedroom after discovering Eric's infidelity, I lost my sex drive. I was scared shitless that I possibly had contracted some STD. I was tested monthly for a year. I was clean, Thank God. Still I never engaged in sex with another man until I took you home with me the night we met."
Joe stopped and drank another full glass of wine. He concentrated on refilling his glass and then Dave's. Gio had watched from across the room and had kept the waiter from interrupting. He knew that Joe was finally telling Dave about what had hurt him so badly the year he had gone to Italy. When he saw that the carafe was empty, he sent another to the table. Dave realized what Gio was doing and smiled at him. Gio smiled back and nodded.
"When I came back to the U.S., I threw myself into designing the Tower. I never even thought of any kind of recognition for it. I was taken totally by surprise with the awards it won. I had done it only to keep my mind busy. It was also at this time that I discovered your bookstore and you. I dreamed about finding a man like you. I watched how you and Bill loved and cared for each other. For a while I even stalked you, but always from a distance. I realized that I was obsessing over you. I stopped. I continued to go into the bookstore but, I never got closer to you than the length of one of the aisles. Bill caught me by surprise one day in the coffee shop. After that, I looked forward to our little chats. They were always impersonal, but I felt it was a way of being close to you."
While Joe talked his hand had moved across the table and covered Dave's.
"Joe, I've been aware for years that you were near. I fantasized about what you looked like under that beard you wore, and your golden eyes. If it hadn't been for your eyes I would never have gone home with you that first night, you know. Funny how Bill and I argued over the color of your eyes. I guess I'm the only one that had ever seen them change color."
"You are, Dave. Well, the only one alive."
"I now understand why you held back. I promise you, Joe, I will never do anything to intentionally hurt you. I will always be true and faithful to you."
"I know that, Dave. At least in my heart I know that. My brain is a little slow. You know, once burned? Please be patient with me. I'll get there eventually."
"I know you will. And you know I will always be there for you."
"Dave, I want your clothes back in my closet. As a matter of fact, I want you permanently in my home. Our home?"
"I've only been waiting for you to ask, Joe."
"Then you will move in to the eyrie with me."
Joe grinned. He turned looking for his cousin. Gio saw his expression and grinned in return. He moved over to their table.
"Gio, Let's celebrate. Dave is moving in with me. We're going to live together."
He stood up and Gio gave him a hearty hug. He then turned to Dave and hugged him.
"Congratulations, you two, you deserve each other. I am so happy for you. Come back into my office, there's some thing I need to give you."
The two men looked at him in surprise and followed him through the kitchen into his office.
"What is it Gio?" Joe asked when they were all three in the small room.
"Privacy." Gio answered. He grinned at them as he stepped out of the room, closing the door behind himself.
End if Chapter 3 and Part 1