This story is posted for the exclusive enjoyment of readers of the Nifty Archive. While you are free to make a personal copy, no copy of this manuscript may be published, copied, posted to another web site, or otherwise disseminated without express permission from the author, who retains copyright.

The contents of this story are fictional. Any resemblance of characters to living or lived persons is strictly coincidental. Certain characters engage in sexual acts which may or may not be legal in the state or country in which a reader may reside. Any reader with objections to graphic descriptions of sexual encounters between males who may or may not have reached the legal age of consent, or whose local, regional, state or national jurisprudence prohibits such descriptions, should not read further.

-- by EastBayJag

Chapter Two - Mediterranean

It was the first time I'd been to Maui - and the plane landed 45 minutes early, at three instead of 3:45, on the 21st of March. Bill and I had promised ourselves that one day we'd "do" Hawaii, but there was always another destination that lured us first. Walking through Kahului airport, I felt right at home - I could almost have been in Florida - except.

Except that the terminal was open to the outdoor air, there were low mountains, the humidity was lower, the temperature seemed more moderate, the sky a little more blue, the people (other than the tourists) a little younger, healthier, somewhat Polynesian on average. Lots of pudge, though. I was surprised to see that even the younger "native Hawaiians" were on average carrying around a bit of extra weight - at least at the airport.

After my bags arrived - in just minutes, which startled me - I caught a shuttle bus to the car rental place, and after a few minutes, loaded my bags into a Dodge something-or-other. It was low, sat four, had plenty of cargo space under a hatchback kind of trunk, and had a funny key I hadn't seen before. It also had more power than I expected, which I realized when I was halfway to Kihei from the airport and looked at the speedometer. I was doing 70 in a 45 mph zone. Oops! But when I slowed to 48, I was the slowest car on the four-lane road. Some things just don't change much from one state to another.

I found the condo with no problem, in Kihei near the center and not far from where the investment property was situated. But there was time for that - I had an appointment to see the broker the following day. There was no food in the condo, of course, but the caretaker who checked me in gave me a rundown on the nearby supermarket and the Safeway a few blocks away, so well before the time the sun was to plunge into the ocean I had already walked over to the small supermarket on the corner to procure coffee, some eggs, milk and orange juice, a couple of veggies and a chicken breast for dinner, a frozen microwave meal for backup, and some odds and ends. Prices were outlandish, but how much food does one person eat? Besides, I could write it all off as travel expense on my taxes.

A little past 6 o'clock, I wandered over to the beach to watch the sun set, as the caretaker recommended.

"Everyone goes to the beach at sunset to watch," she told me. "It's a tradition to the Islands, because Pacific Island sunsets are about the most beautiful on earth."

The condo was only a couple of hundred feet from the beach, so I walked - thinking of how Tina would have enjoyed rolling in the dry white sand and running along the wave tracks. The palm trees and hibiscus, the smells of flowers I didn't recognize, the ocean at the end of the road, together gave the little dusty road the same feel as a little road Bill and I had walked in Tunisia when we were there on vacation some years ago.

There was a small group at the end of the road's dead-end at the beach, almost all of them with a beer or a glass in hand, facing the water, one guy sitting on a log that marked the end of the street. I was no more than ten feet from them when a big heavy-set guy turned and saw me, nodded and boomed out: "You can't watch this without a beer, man! Here, catch!"

While he was talking, he bent down to a small cooler at his feet, grabbed a bottle and tossed it at me gently.

"Thanks!" I grinned. "Don't know the traditions, yet."

"Just get in?" said a slight woman next to him. She looked at my legs with the light Florida tan. Or maybe she just wanted to look at something besides my mug. Her head was swathed in a green towel, as if she'd just washed her hair, and she was wearing cranberry-colored shorts and a cream T-shirt that only partly hid the fact that she was not wearing a bra, but had very little droop.

"Landed at three," I said. "Had to see my first sunset before I got a little shut-eye."

"Long way from home?" asked the big guy.

He was wearing flip-flops and an open Hawaiian print shirt over a black pair of swimming shorts. His barrel chest was thatched with greying black hair, and his waist was the same size as his chest. "Fireplug physique," I immediately thought. His well-muscled arms had no extra flesh, though.

"South Florida," I said after twisting the screw-top and taking a quick swig while pocketing the cap. "Left at 7:45 this morning, and with a five-hour time difference, the old bod is begging for dreamland."

"I can't sleep on planes either," said a guy on the other side of the woman. "Give me solid ground, please!" He was about 50, balding and grey, with pale blue eyes and a big-toothed smile. He looked like he worked out some - well-formed physique under a fairly tight T-shirt, the standard swim shorts, slim legs and big feet in Birkenstocks.

"I'm Doug," said the big guy. "This is my better half, Angie, and that's Mort," he said, nodding first at the slight woman, then at the other guy who'd spoken, "And his partner Rob is sitting in front of him."

I looked down and saw a sandy-haired guy with a deep tan wearing a tank top, who turned to me and flashed an elfin grin and gave me a half-salute, then turned back to look out at the sea. He looked fortyish, and the sinews stood out on his neck as he turned.

"I'm David," I said. "Nice to meet you all. Been here long?"

"Almost two weeks," said Doug. "But we're not going back to Spokane as long as the credit cards last," he joked.

"Only a few minutes," said Mort at the same time.

We laughed at the confusion, and talked softly for a few minutes as the sun crept towards the surface of the ocean. There were a few wispy clouds over Kahoolawe - a little island to the west and south of where we stood - and they gradually took on a pinkish orange hue as the sky became milky and the sun dimmed from white-hot to yellow to pale orange. Then the bottom of the sun touched the horizon, and that magical moment I never tire of seeing overwhelmed me a little.

I remember seeing a movie long ago called "Walking Across Egypt," in which the character - played by Ellen Burstyn, as I recall - talked of the moment when time stood still, just at sunset. It felt like that, as the sun seemed to expand, widen at the base and flatten - not sink - then shrink away to a dot, leaving a green image in my eyes when it disappeared.

We all stood silent for the show - it was really gorgeous.

Doug broke the spell, finally. "Well, that's all for now, folks!" He mimicked the cartoon character - Elmer Fudd? He bent over, picked up the cooler, took my now-empty bottle and popped it in, and with Angie on his arm started walking back to the road. "See you tomorrow night, god willing!" he said to us all over his shoulder. "Nice meeting you, David!"

"How long you staying?" said a deep voice to my right. It was Mort's partner. Rob? I wasn't sure I'd got the name right. Have you ever noticed that some of the deepest voices come from not-very-big bodies? He only stood five foot seven or so, and couldn't have weighed more than 140 pounds, but that voice sounded like what you'd expect from a big lumberjack.

"Hey . . . Rob, isn't it? I'm here for a few weeks, looking at a place to buy. And you?"

"Oh, we live here," he replied. "I was born here. My Dad was a Navy Captain based on Oahu after the war, and when he mustered out he and my mom settled here on Maui to raise their family. I came along a couple of years later, sort of a surprise, because I'm twelve years younger than my twin brothers and my sister has twenty years on me.

"Mort is an immigrant - he came here on vacation from Chicago twenty-three years ago, robbed my cradle, and moved here lock stock and barrel the same year. We've been together ever since."

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain," grumbled Mort, now on my left as we headed up the road. "I was but an innocent lamb led to the slaughter. He tripped me, caught me, bound and gagged me, and forced me to let him have his way with me - and he will talk both your ears off if you let him."

"A marriage made in Heaven," I laughed. "What do you do here? Tourism-centered, I'd guess."

"You're going to laugh," said Rob. "Mort is an undertaker, and I'm a banker."

"Don't tell me 'Mort' is a professional nickname!" I joked. I immediately wished I could take the words back - he's no doubt heard the same tired old phrase a million times. I figured it was probably short for Morton - the name of a guy I once worked with back in Connecticut.

"No," laughed Mort. "My parents must have seen "It's A Wonderful Life" too many times - my first name is Mortimer."

"I don't think I've ever met a Mortimer in real life," I said. "Really unique. Strong."

"In my business, you gotta be," he said. I could detect his Midwestern accent, now.

"In the 'Land of the Obese' slinging people around takes plenty of effort - especially when you add in the coffin! Last month I actually had a 500 pound man who had to be cared for before he was shipped back to Nebraska or Iowa, something like that. His liver was four times normal size."

We had a gentle laugh and I said good night as I turned into the street where my condo was, while they continued on to their destination, a restaurant on the main drag. They'd invited me to join them, but I was a little too fuzzy from fatigue and the long plane rides, and just wanted to get a little food in me then sleep until I had to get up for the meeting with the realtor. I never discussed my situation with them - but I assumed they knew I was gay. I mean, doesn't everyone know these days?

"See you tomorrow, maybe" said Rob as they sauntered off. "We go to sunset there almost every night."

Back at the condo, I zapped the Swanson's in the microwave - too tired to do the fish - and was in bed before 8. I thought briefly about a quick hand job, but was deep in sleep before I could decide.


I walked into the Real Estate agency a few minutes before the scheduled meeting time, and was immediately announced. The receptionist offered coffee with choice of bagel, doughnut, bearclaw or toasted english, and the agent zipped out the door before I could reply. A GQ special - top-of-the-line blazer and crisp slacks, slightly bleached-looking locks coiffed carefully, perfect skin and green eyes of the limpid kind. Masculine, but gay as a goose.

"Mark Foster," he said, offering a strong handshake. Big hands and dark hair on the backs of his fingers, a nose that looked suspiciously like an off-the-shelf construct. "Welcome to Kihei, Mr. Jamison."

"A gauge of the market," I thought, as I followed the toothsome agent into his lair behind the receptionist. He strode athletically, sort of on the balls of his feet. The creases on the backs of his trousers were crisp. I wondered how someone could sit in a chair and not flatten the creases. "If there hadn't been the crash in real estate markets, this guy probably wouldn't give me the time of day."

But conditions were on my side, at least for now. We quickly sank into the specifics of the property, the situation with the bank, which was willing to negotiate price. Mark's emphasis on the willingness of the bank to negotiate made it clear that the bank was semi-desperate to offload the property, and no-one was biting on the bait.

All the while we were talking, I had the not-quite-distinct impression that Mark was subtly flirting, but not sure of whether I was responding in any way.

"Probably the standard procedure," I thought to myself. "Seduce the mark if it will advance the sale." I almost giggled at the connection of his name to his target. "Still . . . "

I pulled up with a start in mid-conversation. I was actually thinking of what it would be like to bed this number. The first time such a thought had crossed my mind since I first met Bill, and the first serious thought I'd had about sex since February of last year.

" . . . and the cash flow after principal and interest and maintenance but before deprecation would work out to about 8% if occupancy is 70%, the average for the last five years for this type of unit, at the listing price."

"What are the comps?" I asked.

He looked at me a bit quizzically.

"I mean, what's the current occupancy rate of condos, say for the last twelve months?" I asked a bit evilly.

"Uh, its way down," he responded, looking sheepish. He was looking at my hands, resting on the table.

"Just how far down?" I prodded. "Remember, you're working on my behalf here, not the bank's."

"Oh! No, I wasn't being coy. Just embarrassed that I went into sales mode. I know I'm acting as your agent here - it's just that there haven't been any buyers sniffing around for months. Some of the top properties are running below 30%," he said softly. "And there are plenty of condos in the Kihei area that are running below 20% - especially the higher-priced ones that owners haven't cut rates on by more than 30 or 40 percent.

"That's why the bank is in panic mode. They're probably looking for $300,000 a unit, as I told your broker in Connecticut, but I think you could negotiate a much better price. I'd suggest you consider making a low-ball offer and then gauge their reaction."

"How low-ball?" I shot back. He looked up, directly into my eyes. He was a bit flushed. Was he blushing?

"Well, the original target prices of the units was $465,000 for the large three bedroom plus den, $435,000 for the two-bedroom plus den, and $395,000 for the two-bedroom. So a building was valued at $1,725,000, which would include a cooperative participation in the land of about twelve and a half percent. That was when the construction financing was put in place. You could throw them a bone at, say, $995,000 and at least gauge their reaction."

"Let's go see the units and layouts," I said, looking at the floor plan of the typical units in each building.

"How far are they from completion?"

"Well, we have an appointment with the bank's broker for 11 am., so another half hour to kill. Building One has been completed, with the largest and smallest units that were going to be the show condos completely decorated and furnished, and the two three-bedroom units on the ground floor complete except for the kitchen appliances, but not furnished. Three of the other buildings are completed including flooring and fittings, but not the appliances or lamps or fans, plus the final punchlist. The other two are complete structurally, but not painted or floored - appliances are all delivered and just need installation.

"The bank halted all work when they foreclosed, except for completing the roofing and lock-up needs for the last two units."

"Aren't there supposed to be seven buildings all told?" I asked. The updated plot map showed only six.

"Sorry - the builder got planning permission and conditional financing on all seven, but the seventh hasn't really been started - it's supposed to be a seven-story tower with two luxury penthouses, twelve three-bedroom units, an underground garage and so on. The bank insisted that it be built only after at least three of the six buildings sold through. I think the underground utilities are in place, but of course not connected. Of course they must be, because the electric garage doors work."

"They built the garage? I mean, the basement?"

"Yeah - it was cheaper to do all the grading and foundation work up front, but they stopped at ground level and capped the reinforcing rods or whatever they are, and covered the whole thing over to keep water and kids out. I've been in the basement, and it's dry as a bone."

"How many units are under contract?" I asked. Usually, places like this were pre-sold long before completion.

"There were seven contracts, but all of them have been canceled, according to the broker for the bank."

"How much money did the bank rake in on cancellation fees?"

"He won't say," Mark answered. "But I pulled the public records on the sales. All of them had at least 10% down, but I don't know how much of that the bank got in return for cancelling."

"Knowing banks, they probably took it all," I said. "Except for the up-front broker fees."

"There were none," said Mark. "Just the legal fees. The contractor sold all save one of the units to his regular investors, who skipped brokers to save on fees. They probably lost their financing when the panic hit. I think three of them declared bankruptcy, because those cancellations referred to court proceedings."

He handed me a big binder marked "Buyers Disclosures." More reading before bed. The story was getting more interesting, though.


We took Mark's BMW 5 Series Convertible to the site. It still smelled factory-fresh. He drove conservatively, so I managed to stay calm. I'm still a little leery of riding shotgun.

When we got to the site, there was a tall older gent with deep tan and white hair waiting for us at the gate at the end of a short street. I was introduced to Howard Helman, who was the property manager for the bank. I got the impression that he was harried, and immediately assigned him the moniker of Harried Howard.

Howard, it seemed, had double-booked and needed to get to Lahaina to meet another client, so he asked Mark to lock up after leaving and to leave the keys with the receptionist for him to pick up later.

"You've been here before, I see. How many times?" I asked Mark after Howard zipped away in a Lexus, or maybe a Honda. I can't tell the difference between Japanese cars.

"Just once on a brokers' tour. But I've worked with Howard quite a few times over the years, so he knows he can trust me to lock up when we finish."

We got back in the BMW and drove through the open construction gate, which Mark got out and closed up again before we drove up to a building set right on the beach, maybe fifty feet from the dunes. The lane leading to it was paved and so was the parking area behind the building.

There was no grass, but the sweet smell of plumeria still hanging in the air, even though the perfume usually dissipates in the early morning hours. There was a nicely-done brick path leading around the side to the central entrance of the building, under the first floor, which opened on a big 25 foot square central courtyard bare of landscaping save a large Plumeria (they call it melia in Maui) tree which had probably been saved from the bulldozers.

"You're the first person I've shown this property to, though," he replied as he opened the door to the ground floor condo on the left.

"This is one of the two-bedroom units."

He went in and switched on the lights at the side of the door, then held the door for me to come in. He brushed against me slightly, as he was turning to switch on another light on the wall opposite. Neither of us made a comment, but I wondered if it had been deliberate. Hoped?

The unit was large, airy and well-built. The living/dining/kitchen area opened on to a very large brick-paved patio, most of which was under the terrace of the unit above, so it could be used even if it rained. The main room was about 25 feet long and 20 feet wide, with a wall of glass a third of its length looking into the central courtyard, and an all glass wall looking out to the ocean, with very large sliding door to the patio. The kitchen area was at the back, behind a wet bar, and extended another fifteen feet or so. The master bedroom overlooked the ocean, and the master bath had a big shower stall with multiple jets and a European-style detachable shower head on a snake.

"Top-of-the line," I thought to myself as we toured the rest of the unit. A back entrance with shower and the washer/dryer, lots of closet space, big second bedroom and a den that easily could be used as a third bedroom or a futon-equipped office. There was a plug for internet and cable TV plugs in both bedrooms and a corner of the living area as well as the den and kitchen, side-by-side fridge and all the kitchen goodies like convection-oven microwave/range hood, dishwasher and trash compactor, glass-top five-burner range top and so on.

"Everything is termite-resistant," said Mark. "All the latest in non-wood building materials - steel studs on slab, steel joists, all the latest in non-wood building materials, bamboo flooring over lightweight fiberglass/concrete sub-flooring, Black Walnut cabinetry, that sort of thing. All the details are in the buyers' packet I gave you."

The next apartment was the big one, upstairs. We went almost into the courtyard, then faced a wide set of steps up to the first floor. When Mark opened the over-wide door and stepped to one side to let me go in first, I again brushed against him lightly. Once is an accident, perhaps. Twice is flirting.

It was gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. The living area was half again as large as the ground floor unit, stretched lengthwise over the front part of the building where the entrance to the central courtyard went underneath. The ceiling peaked to about twelve feet, maybe a bit more, in height, and two great white fans lazily stirred the air. The skylights showed that there was a good two feet between the ceiling and roof. Furniture was spare but plush and inviting, well-chosen for Hawaiian atmosphere, easily seating a dozen people.

The dining table was oval, with seating for eight, and the kitchen area was as complete as any I'd seen, including the little stuff like a built-in can opener, butcher block island with a double sink in the wet bar and counter tops of that molded plastic that looks like marble. A gas fire was on the wall between the living area and the good-sized office, complete with a big mahogany desk console, bookcases, low filing cabinets and guest chair, a leather desk chair facing the window, and a small sofa that converted to a twin bed. The large terrace extended about as far out as the patio downstairs, but continued on the front of the building to the end, and those huge wide glass doors provided both the office as well as the master bedroom access.

The master bedroom was another surprise - a big four-poster mahogany bed with those things called curtain rails like my mom and Dad had in Bridgeport. Two big mahogany dressers and a pair of high chests, a low table with two wingback chairs with flame stitch jacquard upholstery, rich dark bamboo floor with thick Chinese carpets at bedside and under the table and chairs.

"I think this room alone is as big as the entire ground floor of my cottage on Sanibel," I said aloud. "I think I'd feel pretty small sleeping in that bed, in this room, alone." Oops! Where did that come from?

"I can't imagine you'd have any trouble fixing that," riposted Mark.

"I don't go for . . . " I started to say something crude about one-night stands, but stopped in mid-sentence as Mark moved a little closer to me and looked straight into my eyes.

"I mean, you're not exactly little, and you're damned good-looking, so you ought to have plenty of admirers," he said sort of softly."Just choose a likely one, turn up the A/C and snuggle up."

"I'm not . . . I mean I haven't for a long while," I half-stammered. This was leading to treacherous territory.

Not sure I want to tread this path yet.

But I'm the guilty one. I knew I could have him, right there, right now, so I just reached out to him, pulled him into me and planted my lips on his, practically forcing his mouth open with my tongue, pulling his hips into my groin with one hand and holding his head with the other.

He melted into me. A low groan rumbled in his throat as he put on hand on my back, the other on my neck, and we swapped saliva for more than a minute.

Everything moved at lightning speed from then on. My clothes ended up in a heap on the floor next to his, and I honestly can't say who took what off whom or when. I didn't want to snuggle, I wanted to make love - no, I needed to fuck this man, empty my balls, fill his void.

He went down on me when I had an unguarded moment, and my cock half-disappeared down his gullet, but he couldn't get any more in. I looked further down, and his dick was rampant, a slight gleam of drool at the tip, good sized, but not as big as me. He wasn't touching it, but it bobbed with a will of its own.

From somewhere he produced a condom and rolled it down my cock until it wouldn't unroll any more.

I've never had sex with a condom - Bill was the only man I'd ever made love with, and we just didn't use them. Ever. He committed to me and I to him, and neither of us ever cheated. I wouldn't have dreamed of it. I don't think he was ever tempted, but even if he was, he'd have refused because then we'd never be able to come inside one another again.

Tell a lie - when I was in high school, I bought condoms like everyone else, and my girlfriend at the time gave me a hand job while I was wearing one. I had hoped to convince her to let me inside her, but she never did, just beat me off. So I guess technically I have had sex with a condom. It was too mechanical to be called that, though. That awful escapade in the back of my dad's Audi ran unbidden through my head.

The result was that I started to lose my hard on. Not entirely, but Mark could tell, and immediately pumped me back up with his mouth. We both knew that I was going to fuck him, that this was just the amuse-gueule, that the entree was about to be served, and the main course soon to follow.

I lifted him back up to my mouth and explored his teeth with my tongue as we danced towards the bed. No niceties about sheets or towels, this was to be a wham-bam on the top of the duvet, no holds barred, right to the finish line.

I folded him onto the bed and into position, taking just a minute to sample his dick, suck out some of his lube to help me enter him, soften up his hole with my fingers to get it ready for me. He was spouting something, but I didn't pay any attention to the words - the message was clear.

"Oh, yeah, man. Oh sweet jesus, fuck me!"

So I followed orders. As I moved up to him, my shoulders forced his legs up, then they moved to wrap around my arms as my cock received the lube I had taken from his pretty little dick. No, not little, it was about as big as Bill's, but it was just his dick, nothing special, a source of lube for the important mission ahead.

Without a word, he reached around and took me in hand, guiding my helmet to his pucker. He couldn't have said anything anyway - I was trying to reach his tonsils with the tip of my tongue, and he was doing everything he could to let me find them, moaning a little, but definitely enjoying things so far.

Then "pop!" I was in. He winced and breathed in deeply through his nose, and his butt-lips grabbed me like a vise as he cramped from the sudden invasion. But he didn't pull back, just didn't move, kept his hand on me, neither pulling nor pushing, his other hand on the small of my back, just keeping me in place. I was gently - I think gently, but I can't remember that part very well as my mind was otherwise occupied at the tip of my dick - jerking his cock, still hard despite the invasion, drooling a little, slicking him up.

The main event is never as long as the reading of the passage takes. He pulled ever so slightly on my dick, urging a little bit more of me into him. I started fucking into him, not feeling quite right because of the condom, but my dick was oblivious in its quest for gold. Our lips still locked, he started to hum a bit, and I think I was making a noise deep in my throat, but my mind was definitely elsewhere.

I was jerking him in sequence with my mini-thrusts as I forced his passage open and moved deeper into his body.

Suddenly, he lurched up into my hips, and I hit bottom, he squealed slightly, and my helmet passed through that barrier deep inside a man that acts like an extra pair of lips on the downstroke, sucking the semen out.

I was all the way in at last, and so began the long-dicking I love. I pulled his guts out with each stroke, rubbing my helmet under his prostate on the last part of the outstroke, his tight ass lips keeping my helmet from exiting, then rubbed it again on the way to the bottom, all the while stroking his dick in time with mine, his dick now spurting lube into my hand, making his entire length slippery and sensitive.

We were now in full heat, half breathing in each other's breath, the heat of our coupling becoming almost unbearable, his feet on my buttocks urging me in with each stroke, his dick getting harder than iron in my hand, his hands now on the small of my back and on my neck, holding us tightly together as the black hole opened in front of us, glared intensely, and started to swallow us.

On an in stroke, I felt his prostate get hard at the same time as my hand told me his glans was expanding even more, and I slowed the pace a bit, not long-dicking any more, just plunging a couple of inches in and out as his climax took hold of his body and he began the trembling that comes a millisecond before a truly great orgasm.

Suddenly, his insides grabbed me, forcing me to join him in orgasm, and we shot almost - but not quite - simultaneously, great gobs of cum into his navel and lower chest, into the rubber thing that desensitized my dick. Thank goodness, because otherwise I'd have cum on the second or third stroke. I was that horny, just hadn't realized it.

The shots lessened, the flow slowed then stopped, and we both came up for air. The whole thing hadn't taken more than two or three minutes, from the first second he took me in his mouth until the rubber filled with my seed.

"God, I needed that!" one of us said. I think it was him. Could have been me. Don't know.

We nuzzled a little, caressed some, then I pulled out of him to take the condom off. It already was. Or at least the top half. I managed to get up without touching the bedclothes and went into the bathroom, where I washed John Thomas in the sink - the water was cold! - and peeled off the remnants of the rubber.

I used one of the display towels to dry off, then wet a face cloth and brought it to Mark, who wiped himself fore and aft, not saying anything but a mumbled "thanks."

"The condom broke in the heat of the moment," I said softly. "It's still inside you."

"Oh, God!" he half-whispered. "Are you safe? I'm . . . sero-negative. For fifteen years."

"I've only ever had sex with one other man in my life," I said. "And never with a woman."

"You're joking!"

I explained to him the expurgated version of meeting and falling in love with Bill on Shell Beach those many years ago, then the stuff I've already told you about. He was sympathetic, even a little misty-eyed.

We dressed while I talked, then he told me his tale:

"I've been with Paul, my lover, for fifteen years. He's older than me, and we don't have sex very often any more. It's not that we don't love each other - we're completely committed to one another.

"But since he turned 60, things have waned pretty much in that aspect of our lives. He can't take the 'Erectile Dysfunction' pills because he has a heart condition, so we've agreed that . . . that if I need to, I can have sex with someone as long as there are no . . . entanglements."

"How old are you, if you don't mind me asking," I said as we closed the door behind us, having smoothed the bed, rinsed the washcloth and re-hung it, and making sure there was no incriminating evidence. Mark shit out the condom, too.

"I just turned thirty-two," Mark said matter-of-factly. "I was turning tricks off Polk Street in San Francisco after I ran away from home, just to survive, when Paul picked me up. I was fourteen, then. He was looking for a blow job, but changed his mind after we talked for a few minutes.

"That's quite a gap," I commented.

Mark nodded, then said: "Depends where you look at from - it's not important to me. He took me home to live with him, loved me, fed me, took me to the dentist and doctor and so on, made sure I went to school and learned everything I could, and then when I turned eighteen we made love for the first time, right after dinner at the Top of the Mark in San Francisco.

"He's a wonderful man, and I love him more than I can explain, but . . . well, he isn't too keen on doing what we just did. I enjoy being a top, but there are times when I really need . . . you know. Sorry."

"I'm not going to judge, Mark," I said as we got in his car. "It's not the job God gave me. But I won't risk an entanglement."

"Me neither," he replied.

Neither one of us ever referred to that little tryst again.

All the same I planned to make sure I got tested as soon as I returned to Sanibel, and every three months from then on . . .