by Tim Mead
A beautiful November Sunday afternoon, a little over eight months since Jeff and Sam had patched up their brief estrangement over Paul. The two men were in the Auburn, top down, heading south on Route 27, just passing through Davenport.
As they were getting into the car in Winter Park, Sam had cleared his throat and asked, "Would you like me to drive?"
Jeff knew how much Sam loved to drive the car.
He tossed Sam the keys. "Take us home, Jeeves."
He opened the passenger door.
Sam seemed to reconsider. "Oh, I shouldn't have asked today. You just won best in class. You should drive the old lady home."
"I drive her all the time, babe. And I think of her as our car."
"You don't have to twist my arm. But I think of her as Phil's car. Is that weird?"
"Not a bit."
"I really thought that 35 Packard Victoria was gonna take our class."
Sam`s smile still made Jeff's knees weak. "But Agatha was greater."
So there they were, attracting stares, waves, honks, and the occasional hoot on their way home.
With Sam doing the driving, Jeff more or less zoned out. He was thinking of all the things that had happened since they'd straightened out the Paul problem last winter.
Not everything, of course, had been perfect. Life wasn't like that.
Macey was still engaged, but she seemed to be holding off. Her Captain George was thinking of staying in the Air Force for another hitch. If so, he'd be reassigned somewhere else, and Macey wasn't happy about that. She liked her job, didn't want to follow him from posting to posting. And didn't see herself in a long-distance relationship.
Jeff was saddened to think those two were having issues, especially since Macey had been so excited when they first became engaged.
Paul Moretti had given up on his campaign to seduce Jeff. He seemed to be avoiding Lake Polk. Sam had heard rumors at work that Paul had set his cap for the new young priest at the church his family attended in Sebring.
At Sam's urging, Jeff had taken Agatha to the Parkerville Classic Car Show in the spring. Stan agreed, reminding him that he needed to show the car to meet the terms of his uncle's will. The Parkerville event wasn't a national show, like the one at Charlotte Island, but it attracted many fine cars from the Southeastern U.S. It was winning best in show there that encouraged Jeff and Sam to enter the old gal in the Winter Park Show. And in the late winter they would be taking Agatha back to the Concours d'Elegance at Charlotte Island!
Everything, in fact, had been wonderful for Jeff. Or almost everything. Their relationship had hit a major sticking point when Sam kept resisting Jeff's invitations for him to move in. After all, as Jeff kept pointing out, there was that big house where they'd have loads of space. And privacy. And they'd be together!
Jeff loved "playing house" with Sam, going to the garden centers to buy new plants for the flower borders, washing their cars on Sunday afternoons, polishing the sterling silver flatware Phil and Buddy had loved to use when entertaining. He even enjoyed grocery shopping with Sam, though that usually had to be done evenings or on Sunday afternoons because Sam was working at the family store.
Jeff had started by dropping hints about how nice it would be if Sam actually lived there, how much he'd enjoy waking up every morning in bed with his lover, how he'd like to throw an occasional dinner party with Sam as resident co-host.
Sam had explained that he'd love to share quarters with Jeff, and that he'd like living with him in Phil and Buddy's place. But he worried about what moving in with Jeff would do to the family business. They talked about it with Stan and Doug, who'd encouraged them to live together. "Things have changed since Doug and I had our problems," Stan pointed out. "Looking back on it, most of the opposition to my being city manager came from a few homophobes in the police department and some of their redneck friends. Since we bought this place and started fixing it up and I opened my practice, people have mostly either ignored us or have been openly friendly and accepting."
Still Sam had hung back. To the point where their relationship had become a bit strained. Jeff understood Sam's reluctance, or he tried to convince himself he did. But, especially after listening to Stan and Doug's advice, he was convinced so long as they were discreet, didn't flaunt it too much, their living together wouldn't cause big problems.
It was Sam's parents who finally persuaded him to move in with Jeff. "Half the damned town knows you're gay, son," his father had said, "so they won't be surprised. And as far as I'm concerned, if some of them quit buying their doorknobs and shelf brackets from us, well, screw them. We're doing all right. And you might remember that when Phil and Buddy lived in that house, they were respected pretty much throughout the community. So you keep showing up at church, turn up at Chamber of Commerce lunches, support the downtown events, and you might be surprised at the way you're treated."
"We'd miss you if you moved out, Sammy," his mother had said, "but you boys belong together. And we're always right here if you need us. I'll expect you for Sunday dinners."
And they'd been right. True, there were people who wouldn't look Jeff in the eye when they ran into him on the street, but no one had been overtly unpleasant, and most people were friendly. Sam pointed out that, because the new housing industry was still in bad shape, a lot of people were choosing to fix up the homes they had. And they'd seen no falling off of business he could attribute to his and Jeff's sharing the house.
Remembering how the two had celebrated the night Sam had officially moved in still gave him shivers.
"You all right?" Sam asked.
Ian had transferred to Gainesville back in June, and he'd wasted no time in finding a boyfriend. Juan had visited Ian and his mother in Lake Polk a couple of times during the summer, even turning up at the July car show downtown. The boys had invited Sam and Jeff to come up the next weekend to see the Gators finish their regular season against Furman, and they'd agreed to go. Although it would go against his grain to root for the Gators, Jeff, a Seminole, was looking forward to a football afternoon, to seeing Ian and his new friend, to a weekend getaway.
The week after the car show was Thanksgiving. It was hard to believe that it would be his second one with Sam. This year they were hosting the holiday dinner. They'd invited Stan and Doug, the senior Dudeks, plus Ian, Juan, Ian's mother Helen, and Doc Frye, Ian's former linguistics prof at Haven State. The latter two had been dating regularly since spring. Jeff and Sam were going to do the turkey; the guests were bringing the peripherals.
It was significant that Stan and Doug were coming. Mark Mason had recovered sufficiently that, though he'd always need a cane, he had been back to work for over six months. Thus, Stan and Doug didn't feel the need to fly to Cincinnati at the airlines' busiest time of the year.
Jeff sighed with contentment, giving a silent prayer of thanks to his uncle. After all, he now had a beautiful home, two fine cars, a new hobby, friends in Lake Polk, even a collection of rare and expensive dildos, though the latter was as much an embarrassment as anything else. He was sure Phil and Buddy were happy that he'd been showing off their classy Agatha and that he was sharing their beautiful old home with Sam, the man he loved.
Most of all, of course, he was grateful for Sam. And it was the classic car connection that had brought him and Sam together. Cars, house, lifestyle, and lover. So, yes, for sure, Thanks Phil! You left quite a legacy.
"Dude, you're a million miles away."
Jeff saw that they were passing the Lake Polk Mall.
"Sorry. Just thinking happy thoughts."
"What about food thoughts? You want to stop somewhere for supper?"
"How about Plan B?"
Sam grinned. He'd taken the thong off his pony tail, allowing his hair to flow in the breeze. He looked positively edible.
"And that would be . . . ?"
"Let's do the lasagna in the freezer. We can change clothes and then have some wine on the porch while it's baking."
"Can't think of anything nicer, hon."
For a moment, Jeff couldn't either. But then he turned to Sam, returned the grin, and asked, "Afterward would you like to play with my dildo collection?"
Sam snorted. "I'd rather play with the real thing. You have the only phallus I want."
Jeff's "real" phallus twitched. "In that case, let's go home, Jeeves."
As always, thanks to Drew, Tinn, Mickey, and Tracy.
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