B & G
The following fictional narrative involves sexually-explicit erotic events between men. If you shouldn't be reading this, please move on.
In the world of this story, the characters don't always use condoms. In the real world, you should care enough about yourself and others to always practice safe sex.
The author retains all rights. No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the author's consent.
Thanks and love to Tom for always patiently and carefully doing the editing chores, and to the rest of my Nifty Six colleagues.
>From Chapter 6:
Gabe seemed to concentrate on his driving. I wondered if he were having thoughts similar to mine. He did nothing to interrupt my reverie until we were about ten minutes from home. As we were waiting for a traffic light to change, he looked at me and asked, "How do you happen to know Guy Mannington?"
"He introduced himself to me at the gym one evening last week after my workout."
"Oh." The light changed, and he drove the rest of the way to my place without saying anything. That's all he said: "Oh."
I wondered how he knew I'd even met Guy. And then I began to wonder if he knew what had transpired between Guy and me. Could he be jealous? `Jesus!' I thought. `I've never had sex before in my life until last week, and now my lover is jealous.'
When he pulled up in front of my building, I asked, "Want to come in and watch the bowl games? I could probably rustle up something for us to eat after a while. I'm sure the eggs benedict won't stick with you too long."
Keeping both hands on the steering wheel, he said, "Uh, Brent, this has been fabulous, and I owe you bigtime. But right now I think I'd better get home."
"What's so important that you've got to do on New Year's Day? Come on! We have lots to talk about and, I hope, lots of lovin' to do."
"I really need to check in at B & G and see that everything is okay over there. I'll call you, okay?"
"Well, yeah, if you're sure you won't stay."
"Thanks, Brent. As I said, this was a beautiful interlude. I'll find some way to repay you."
"Gabe, I'd hope by now you wouldn't be thinking in terms of repaying me. It has been the best two days of my life."
He gave me a wan smile. "You're sure?"
I leaned over and gave him an ardent if unskillful kiss. "I'm sure. You go do what you have to do. But call me, please."
I got my satchel and garment bag from the back and walked dejectedly into the building.
It was jealousy, pure and simple. Looking back on it, I'm ashamed of myself.
While Brent and I were having our fantastic New Year's Eve fling, I was able to put out of my mind my worry about what Guy had asked me on parting a few days before: "Your plans wouldn't have anything to do with that sexy Brent Collins, would they?" How did he know about Brent and me? I supposed he could have seen us together, but he never came to music or theater performances, at least not that I'd ever noticed.
I felt like such a shit when I left Brent on New Year's afternoon because he really had planned and paid for our night at the opera, which hadn't been cheap. But by the time we got back to town, I couldn't escape the visions of Brent on his back being screwed by Guy, who screwed every good-looking man he saw. Or at least every hunky gay man. I knew from experience how hard he was to resist. Brent had assured me that his ass was virgin, but I wondered even about that. And then I felt guilty for doubting him.
Whatever. I was too confused to allow myself to be with him on New Year's afternoon and evening, though I wished all that time I were there. Does that make sense? I missed him terribly, but I was so jealous that I was afraid I'd do or say something that would destroy the wonderful connection we'd just made in Cleveland. I thought it better to absent myself than to risk being hurtful.
Then I told myself that was all rationalization. I told myself that Brent didn't even know I was gay until I came back from Christmas, and he had the right to sleep with anyone he wanted to, that he didn't owe me anything. But we had been seeing each other all fall term. I supposed I was feeling as if he and I had some sort of understanding even before we came out to each other after Christmas.
I had been jealous of his running around so much with Rae Menzies, but somehow this was worse, probably because I knew he really liked Rae, and I also knew that Mannington specialized in casual sex. Frequent casual sex. No emotion. No strings. No regrets. Guy could be charming, and he was one hot little stud. But I was furious to think that he had somehow besmirched my Brent.
Then it occurred to me that until New Year's Eve, when he told me about the attack on him in high school and his reaction to it, for all I knew Brent had had a lot of sexual experience. It was his assurance that he was giving me his cherry, specifically his tight little ass, that night that set off my anger toward both him and Mannington.
So it seemed best to try to get my head straight before I saw Brent again. I knew I would miss him, though, even as I was distancing myself from him.
Gabe never called me on New Year's Day or that evening. I knew what the problem was, or thought I did. Guy must have told him about the night we spent together while he was at home for Christmas. He was hurt. He felt betrayed.
In my own defense, I told myself that I'd had no commitment from Gabe when Guy gave me my sexual initiation. At that time, I still didn't know whether or not Gabe was straight. But I could see how he'd feel, knowing that while he was out of town, I was fucking Guy Mannington. If the situations had been reversed, I'd probably have felt the same way.
Of course, as I thought about it, I realized that Gabe had probably had sex with lots of men. And that didn't bother me. He was older, and it made sense to assume he was more experienced. After all, he hadn't had a trauma like the one in high school that sent me into a protective shell for eight years or so.
The next morning was Friday, and I decided to work out. If I happened to run into Guy Mannington, so much the better.
The gym was open. There was a beefy student at the main desk checking university ID's, but he wasn't the one I'd seen before. He was really sexy, but I won't go into that. As you might expect, hardly anyone was crazy enough to be working out on January 2, but there were a few who were as hardy or as foolish as I was. I showered, being very careful not to check out the two other guys who were there, dressed, and walked to Coach Mannington's office.
Surprisingly, he was there.
"What's the matter, Guy, you don't have a life? You've got to be in your office during the holidays?"
He stood up and came around his desk. I was startled when he hugged me.
"Happy New Year, Brent. Good to see you!"
"Yeah," I managed to say as I returned the squeeze. "You, too."
"Care to sit?" He smiled at me as if my showing up had made his whole day. But then I think he smiled like that at just about everyone. Momentarily, my cock began to twitch. He was a sexy little stud, with his blue eyes, blond hair, great bod, and that cute smile.
"To answer your question, I'm looking through class lists for the new term, which starts Monday."
"Oh, yeah, I haven't been to my office in a day or so. I'll bet my class lists are there, too."
"So, Brent," he said, twinkling at me, "what brings you to my smelly office on the day after New Year?"
His office, like the whole building, smelled faintly of jock straps and testosterone. If I worked there, I'd have a hardon all the time.
"Can't I just stop in to say hello?"
"Sure. You looking for some more, uh, `lessons'?"
I chuckled. "Nope. But, look, Guy, I want to thank you for taking me in hand, so to speak. That was a landmark night in my life. You are one hot, sexy, man, and you are a wonderful teacher. I can't tell you how grateful I am for what you did for and with me. Not to mention how exciting it all was."
He gave me another twinkly smile. "You're more than welcome, Brent, and the door's always open for a refresher course."
"Thanks, Guy. I'm flattered."
"No need to be. You're pretty sexy yourself."
"Again, thanks." I paused a beat or two. "Now, I have to ask you a question."
"I thought so. What's the question?"
"Have you told Gabe Sutton about what you and I did together?"
He looked disappointed. "Of course not. I'm not the sort of `guy' to kiss and tell."
"I'm sorry to be pressing, but this is important to me."
"Yeah, I know from what you told me that you have a thing for Gabe."
"Well, I may have a thing WITH Gabe now, but there's suddenly this problem. Have you talked with Gabe since you and I had our, uh . . . ?"
He grinned. "What we had was a night of passion, Brent. You fucked me, and I loved it."
I winced. "Yeah, so have you said anything to Gabe about that?"
"Nope. Like I said, what you and I did is our business, no one else's."
"Guy, think about this, please. Did you say anything at all to Gabe about us?"
He frowned. "Not really. He was in here a few days ago. It seems to me he told me he had big plans for New Year's Eve. I simply asked him if they might involve you."
"Guy, so far as Gabe knew, you and I don't know each other. From his point of view the only way you could know that I had a thing for him was if I'd told you."
He processed that. "Jeez, Brent, I'm sorry. I hope I didn't make problems between you two. I know what you told me about saving yourself for him. How did that go, by the way?"
I grinned. "None of your business, actually. But thanks, Guy. Now at least I know how Gabe found out you and I know each other. Maybe I can deal with his problem."
"The hunk is jealous, is he?"
"Yeah, I'm afraid so. It's too complicated to explain, but I think he is."
"Would it help if I explained to him what did – and didn't – happen?"
"Oh, no, I don't think so. But thanks for the offer."
As I stood, Guy came around his desk. He hugged me again.
"Good luck with Gabe, Brent. But if things don't work out between you two, and you just want some fun in the sack, I'm here. Okay?"
I laughed. "Thanks, Guy. I'll remember that!"
As I walked to my office to check my mailbox for class lists, I thought about Guy.
He was what he was. He was sexy. Great body. Always, so far as I could tell, pleasant. He seemed to have a sweet nature. And, I gathered, he had sex with anyone that took his fancy. It would be very hard, I suspected, for any gay man to resist him. And I wondered if that included Gabe. Perhaps that was part of the problem.
I spent some time working in my office, getting ready for the start of classes on Monday. When I had arrived at the office, I found on my desk a small brown envelope which contained a key to the studio I'd be using with my two horn students. I went down, opened it up, and looked around. It had an upright piano along one wall, a small desk, and some chairs and music stands. I played a little on the piano to test its action, to get its feel. It was adequate, certainly, to my needs.
Deciding I needed to practice, I went home, got my horn, and came back to the studio. Now, at least, I wouldn't have to snag an empty student practice room whenever I wanted to practice. Unless my trumpet colleague was using it, I had my own practice room. I spent a couple of hours with the instrument, and then went back to my empty apartment.
I'd spent many a lonely Friday night in my life. That went with closing myself off from the world as I had. But this Friday night, after the splendor of New Year's Eve, the thought of being alone, of being separated from Gabe, was chilling. I really needed to be with my man, to make things right, to get on with our lives.
I didn't go to campus on New Year's afternoon as I told Brent I would. Instead, I sat in my apartment and brooded, feeling sorry for myself, pissed with Guy Mannington, and disappointed with Brent. Not that I had any real evidence to suggest I should be either pissed or disappointed. But there I was, alone, miserable, telling myself that those two had hurt me.
The next morning, Friday, I got up, fixed myself a substantial breakfast, and went to campus. I spent the morning checking, monitoring, making sure that heating and security systems were operating as they should be. It was noon before I knew it, and I was grateful to have gotten through the morning. Being away from Brent was torture, but I was afraid to be with him for fear of what I might say – or might learn about him and Mannington.
When I got home, I heated some canned soup for lunch. After I had cleaned up the slight mess, I flopped on the living room sofa. I thought back to the couple of times the previous year when Guy and I had been together. It had been pretty spectacular, actually. He was one really sexy little stud, and he was a genuinely nice man. I learned that he had no morals where sex was concerned. He'd offer to fuck anybody who took his fancy, and apparently he wasn't often refused.
Before I knew it, I had my jeans and boxers pushed down over my hips and was slowly fisting my tool as I thought back to the time when I had fucked him. He had come up to me at my locker as I was dressing after my post work-out shower, introduced himself, and invited me back to his office. The next thing I knew, I was fucking him over his desk. A day or two later, I'd invited him to my place, and we spent a long night of sucking, rubbing, rimming, and eventually, of his fucking me. It was hot, steamy, memorable sex.
After that, however, although he always had his twinkling smile for me, he always had a reason why we couldn't get together for more sex. Eventually I got the idea. I figured I was another notch on his bedpost. We were always friendly, but the sex was over. I moved on, and, obviously he moved on, too. Except he apparently moved on and on and on.
By the time I had pumped myself to ejaculation, it was to memories of Brent and New Year's Eve.
That afternoon I holed up in my house. I was feeling guilty about the thoughts I'd been having about Brent, realizing that I was setting up a double standard. I'd had sex with Guy Mannington, but I was jealous to think that maybe – and I had no real evidence – Brent had had sex with him, too.
So, whereas I had withdrawn from Brent the previous day out of anger, a sense of betrayal, now I couldn't face him because of my sense of guilt.
About 2:30 the phone rang. I almost didn't answer it. Almost.
"Gabe, love! How'd you know it's me?"
"I have Caller ID."
"Oh. Okay. Do you have salad makings at your place?"
"Yeah, but – "
"What about some red wine?"
"Got that, too, but – "
"But nothing. I'll be there at 6:00 with a pizza. How do you like yours?"
"Everything but anchovies, but – "
"But nothing. We've got to talk. See you at six."
When six o'clock came and went, I didn't know whether to be worried or relieved. I was still harboring feelings of resentment because I suspected he'd done something with Guy Mannington while I was out of town. But it wasn't like him to be late for anything. I had visions of his being in an accident, and then I felt terrible because I thought how much I loved him and that I'd never really told him I loved him. I could see him in a hospital somewhere, the result of a car accident. Or perhaps he'd changed his mind and decided not to come?
No, surely that wasn't it. Brent just wasn't that capricious. He said he'd be here at six, and he must have been delayed somehow.
It was only 6:20 when he arrived, apologizing because the pizza wasn't ready when he got there. It was, after all, a Friday night of a holiday period, and he said the pizzeria had been really backed up. I forgot my feelings of resentment temporarily in my relief at seeing him. He gave me a big hug as soon as I had put the pizza into the oven to keep warm until we were ready for it. I had opened a 1.5 liter bottle of Yellowtail merlot, thinking that, if we had a really open talk, a .75 liter bottle wouldn't be enough. I poured us each a glass of wine.
Brent was his usual sweet self. He sat on the sofa, and I sat beside him. He touched his glass to mine and said, "To us."
Not wanting to seem churlish, I repeated the toast. I was feeling more ashamed by the moment. He was so bright and sweet. Obviously he wasn't upset with me.
We had a glass of wine, chatting about this and that, the bowl game results, the overnight in Cleveland, the cold, snowy January they were predicting. He even mentioned Rae's quartet recital coming up and suggested that the two of us go together. When he suggested that perhaps the two of us could invite her to go somewhere for a drink after the recital, I was about to renege. But then he seemed to assume that we'd still be together by then, and I didn't want to suggest otherwise.
After a second glass of wine, we moved to the table and had our pizza and salads. With a third glass of wine. When we had finished and the dishwasher was loaded, I made coffee, which we took back into the living room.
"Gabriel," he said, looking at me over his coffee mug, "we have to talk."
"Okay. Go ahead."
"I think it's you who should start. Obviously something was bothering you yesterday, and you've avoided me since. Equally obviously, it had something to do with Guy Mannington. So tell me about it."
"Maybe now is the time for you to answer the question I asked before."
"How do I know Guy?"
"I met him one day after my workout. We were the only people in the shower, so he introduced himself."
"I'll just bet he did!"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Look, Brent, Mannington will nail anything that moves. Did you two get it on?"
He looked as if I'd slugged him, but he stayed calm. "Gabe, is that really any of your business? Suppose I asked how well you know Guy?"
He was right, of course. I really was being unreasonable. "Brent, I'm having feelings like I've never had before. I apologize for being so pissy with you lately. I've been jealous, and I have no right to be."
"Gabe, sweetheart, let's just talk it out. I'll tell you all about Guy and some things about me you deserve to know. If I've hurt you, I'm really sorry. But you mean too much to me to let misunderstandings fester between us. Okay?"
"Okay. So where do we start?"
"You're obviously concerned about Guy and me. But before I explain that, there's something else I need to tell you."
"Can I ditch the coffee and get some more wine first?"
"Sure, let's both get some."
We took our mugs to the kitchen. I got out clean wine glasses, and we poured some more red. Then we sat at either end of the sofa, turned to face each other, with one leg drawn up.
Brent told me the story about his being attacked and put in the hospital by homophobic high school classmates or teammates or whomever. He explained that he had withdrawn, become asocial, practically asexual, that he had built a wall around himself throughout high school, college, and graduate school. He recognized that he was gay, not straight or bi, but he wasn't about to risk anything like that beating or even the psychological equivalent of it again. He concluded by telling me that Rae Menzies was the first person he'd ever come out to except for his parents.
"So I really didn't need to be jealous of her?"
"Silly, I told you that last week, didn't I?"
"Yes, but now I understand better. So tell me this, Brent. Explain again why you never told me until after Christmas?"
He grinned. "Why didn't you tell me you were gay? You have obviously told some others, though I don't think it's generally known on campus."
"Okay, neither of us wanted to scare the other off, in case he might happen to be straight, right?"
"That seems to be the way it was. So," he continued, "last week you were in Medina with your family. I was missing you terribly, and I had resolved that as soon as I saw you when you got back, I'd come out to you. Remember, too, that I'd never had any gay experiences. No straight experiences either, for that matter. I was a total, complete virgin. At twenty-five!"
"Poor baby. I think I know what's coming, but I understand better now. Go ahead. You met the Lothario of the phys. ed. department."
He grinned. "Well, Guy didn't ask me if I was gay, he told me. Said his gaydar was infallible. He invited me to his office, one thing led to another, and that led to dinner, followed by my staying at his place all night."
"Hey, wait a minute. Didn't you say your sweet little ass was still virgin until I made love to you in Cleveland?"
"Guy left you your cherry?"
"Yep. At my insistence. Look, Gabe, he was a wonderful, patient teacher. He took this guy with zero experience and showed him what to do. Gently, sweetly, and, forgive me for saying so, very sexily. I'm being completely frank here. We sixty-nined, and I fucked him. But the next morning, I explained that there was someone special, and that, though I had enjoyed my `lessons' one hell of a lot, I was saving my ass for that someone. He had no problem with that. And he guessed you were that someone. Said he'd seen us together on campus."
"I feel like such a shit, baby." I took a swallow of the red, but I was hardly aware of it. "You know, I've had sexual experiences since high school. All gay. Just not interested in women in a sexual way. I assumed that a guy as great looking and sexy as you must have had his share of sexual liaisons, no matter which side of the street he walked on. I was getting mixed vibes about that, by the way. About which side of the street."
He sat there sipping his wine, looking at me, obviously waiting for me to continue.
I set my glass on the coffee table and scooted over closer to him. I took his glass from him and set it beside mine. Then I pulled his head down on my chest and stroked his hair.
"I don't know what came over me when Guy asked me if we were going to spend New Year's Eve together. I just had this vision of you two fucking, and I was sick with jealousy. I had wanted you so bad for so long, I just couldn't stomach the idea that someone right here on campus had had sex with you and I hadn't. And, knowing Mannington, I figured if he was around you very long, he'd have come on to you."
"You seem to know him pretty well. Apparently he came on to you."
"Oh, yeah. And since we're clearing the air here, he and I had a couple of sessions of very hot sex last year before we both moved on. I haven't had anybody since, but he's got a new partner every week, it seems."
"Gabe, I know that you aren't the psychological mess that I've been," he said into my chest. "In fact, you've been responsible for bringing me out of my shell this year. I understand that you've had lovers before, and that's none of my business. I'm just so fucking grateful that you are in my life now, and I'd be miserable if what happened between Guy and me came between us."
"I didn't realize about what had happened to you back in high school," I responded. "I understand a lot better now why you were reluctant to come out to me. Shit, I was reluctant to come out to you, and I've never really denied I was gay. And I think I can understand why, after coming out to Rae and resolving to come out to me, you were in the right frame of mind to do some sexual exploring. Guy's a hot little piece, and you say he was a good teacher."
"You do understand!"
I kissed the top of his head. "I just have one more thing to say."
He sat up and looked at me, a little apprehensively, I thought. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. I want to be your teacher from now on, okay?"
His answer was in the form of one long, beautiful kiss.
It seemed there was nothing else to be said, so we propped our feet on the coffee table, snuggled, and finished the wine.
The next thing I knew, Brent was kissing my eyelids. I'd been asleep.
"Gabe, it's late, and I'd better get started home."
"After all that wine, baby, you shouldn't be driving. Guess you'll just have to spend the night here." I licked his ear to let him know I really wanted him to stay.
His face lighted up. "I was hoping you'd ask me, but I didn't want to push things this evening."
I stood, picked up the empty bottle and the glasses, dumped the dregs from the glasses and put them in the dishwasher, threw the bottle out, and said, "Let's go upstairs."
I made sure the deadbolt was thrown and the lights were out, set back the thermostat to a comfortable sleeping temperature, and we went to my bedroom.
After the tension of our misunderstanding – or my jealousy, to be honest – I felt enervated. Of course, that could have been partly brought on by all the wine. At any rate, I managed to get undressed, do the bathroom things, and climb under the duvet with Brent, who'd gotten first dibs on the bathroom.
"Oh, you don't have the bed warmed up yet," I exclaimed as I grabbed him and pulled him close. We became a tangle of arms and legs as we kissed, enjoying the warmth and feel of each other. They say that the best thing when lovers have an argument is the making up. Of course Brent and I didn't really have an argument. I'd just been stupidly jealous. Our making up took the form of kissing and cuddling. We were both tired and a bit buzzed, and we eventually fell asleep in mid-cuddle, perhaps even mid-kiss, I'm not sure.
The next morning I awoke first. I thought I had managed to get to the bathroom for my morning piss and to swish some mouthwash without waking Brent, but when I got back to the bed, he was just getting out of it.
"Be right back," he said. His long hair was tousled. He was adorable. And quite erect.
"Hurry and bring that back to me."
"That?" He looked puzzled until he saw what I was leering at. Then he grinned. "Oh! Don't go `way."
On my brief jaunt to the bathroom, I hadn't turned up the thermostat, so the house was still cold. When he got back under the covers, he snuggled up against me again and said, "Oh, that feels so good."
I put my hand around his steely cock. "Didn't go down any. How did you manage to pee? Is my ceiling wet?"
He giggled. "No, I got it all in the john, but it wasn't easy. Now, there's something I want to ask you."
"Right now, baby, you could ask me just about anything."
"Are you a bottom or a top?"
"Yes, I'm a bottom or a top. Love it both ways. Don't like labels. Why might you be asking? Got something in mind?"
He began to run his fingertips through my chest hair, causing me to shiver. "Yeah," he said, his voice husky and, I thought, a little timid. "You've got the greatest ass in captivity, and I've practically fixated on it since the first time I saw you. Would you mind if I got to know it better? A lot better?"
"No way! Not until I've had a shower."
He sighed. "Spoilsport. So, okay, let's shower."
"Wait here." I jumped out of bed, went downstairs, and adjusted the thermostat. When I got back in bed with him, I said, "Let's just wait here about fifteen minutes while the house warms up."
We had no trouble amusing ourselves for fifteen minutes. Then we took a nice, long, hot shower, dried each other off, and went back to the bed. I pulled down the duvet along with the sheet under it. "How do you want me?"
He slapped my rump. "Put your face in the pillow and stick this in the air, stud."
I hastened to do as he asked, looking forward to whatever he had in mind.
First I got a rim job like none I'd ever had before. It started with long swipes of his tongue all over my butt cheeks, moving very gradually toward my crack and then into it. Before he was finished he was probing my anus with his tongue.
"Fuck, man, you're doing that like you've been doing it for years."
"Nope. Just inspired by this gorgeous ass! I've dreamed of this for months."
When he had me thoroughly loosened up with his mouth, he stopped.
"There are rubbers and lube in the nightstand," I said.
He fumbled opening the package. Obviously he had no experience doing that. When he had it out of its foil wrapper, he put some lube on his cock, which had stayed hard while he rimmed me. Then he rolled on the condom. I wondered if Guy had taught him that, but prudently said nothing. Then he put lube on his fingers and worked it in. Soon he had me pleading with him to fuck me. He was very concerned about hurting me, and I had to keep reassuring him that he wasn't, that I could take it, that I wanted him inside me. Once in, though, he seemed to gain confidence. He varied the depth and rapidity of his strokes, and then began to rotate his hips in a circle, managing to hit my nut on just about every cycle.
"Oh, man, Brent, for a newbie, you're fantastic."
By the time he exploded in my gut, we were both sweating. He varied his position, sometimes upright, sometimes leaning down on my back and licking me. Face down, ass up, I was pumping my rod all the while, and just as he was beginning to deflate, I came – all over the sheets below me. Then I collapsed onto the sheet, into the puddle of cum, and he fell on top of me. We lay there . . . breathing heavily . . . slippery from sweat.
Eventually, he rolled off of me and said, "Well, guess we need another shower, don't we?"
"What's your hurry, hunk? You've just given me a great fuck. Let's have a little more snuggle time." I turned on my side, and he rolled over to face me. It must have been another hour before we were clean again and ready to go downstairs to fix breakfast.
As we ate, I said to him, "Brent, baby, I apologize again for being jealous. That's not really my nature, but I just -- Shit! I may as well say it. I just love you so much, I wasn't thinking clearly. Are we okay now if I promise not to be jealous any more?"
"Wait a minute? Did you just say you love me?"
I grinned. "Yeah, I've never used that word with a man before, but I guess that's what I said."
"But did you mean it?"
"Yes, Brent, I meant it. I love you."
He got up, came around the table and bent over to kiss me. Afterward, he straightened up and said, "That's good. Because I love you, too."
To be continued.