Chapter 49: Coming Together, Parting
The following fictional narrative involves sexually-explicit erotic events between men. If you shouldn't be reading this, don't.
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.
I want to recommend a story just posted in the Beginnings section of the Nifty Archive. Check out dimercer's "Thaw in Winter." I think readers of "Dr. Tim" will enjoy it as much as I did.
Thanks as always to Tom W., who does the beta reading for me. Thanks also to Evan, Patrick, Ash, and Mickey.
Danny and I were on our break. We'd gone to the staff lounge. I was having a Coke, and he was having black coffee. He said he had to study late when he got home.
I was just looking at him, thinking how gorgeous those brown eyes were, thinking how lucky I was to have him as my boyfriend, when he said, "Jare, you're gonna start at the University this fall, right?"
"Yeah, babe. You know that."
"Just making sure. Are you planning to live at home?"
"I've been coaxing the olds to let me live in a dorm."
"Why would you want to do that? They're noisy. You won't be able to get any work done there."
"Well, I just kind of wanted to get away from home. You know the only reason I'm going to the university here is because you're here. I've always kind of wanted to go away to school. Jessie's going to Carnegie-Mellon, and I'm a little jealous. I'll miss her, but we both talked about it and decided that we need to be apart `cause we may be relying too much on each other. Does that make any sense?"
He made a kiss with his lips and then grinned. "Sure, babe. I understand what you're saying. In fact, the reason I brought it up is that I wondered if maybe you and I could share an apartment."
"Oh, wow! That'd be so cool! Would my share of the rent be a lot more than the cost of a dorm room?"
"A little, maybe, depending on what we can find. And you'd be able to get lots more studying done that way, `cause you know I'm gonna ride your tail to see that you get good grades."
"Ride my tail, huh?" I leered at him. "Sounds like it's gonna be a great year."
"Well, look, Jare. I've been saving money by staying at home this year. Literally. I've even saved some money from my high school jobs. I've got a little my grandmother left me. And I want to get out of the house. So if your folks will let you live with me, we'll have a place of our own."
"Oh, man! I'd really love that!"
"It might be harder to make friends if you aren't in the dorm."
"I don't need any friends if I have you."
"Well, there's something else, something I've been thinking about."
"Yeah. We could start going to the GSA meetings. We might get to meet other people there. Could be a good way to make some friends."
"Just so long as you don't find some hunk and dump me," I said, tensing up.
He put his hand on mine. "Never happen, Jare, never happen."
I think I sort of bounced my way through the rest of our shift because I was so happy just thinking about living with Dan.
* * *
The weather had been nice for April, so Tim and I were enjoying our early morning runs. David usually stayed in bed until I got back. Then we'd shower, sometimes together, have breakfast, and go our separate ways for the day.
One morning Tim and I had been talking about the impending visit of Stan and Doug to see Mark and Cedric play baseball. Tim was worried because Rick was coming to town. Doug had agreed to see him, and he was concerned that that might not go well. He had told me all about the visit to Chicago and the subsequent talk with Doug about Rick. Timmy was obviously very fond of Doug, as we all were, yet he said he really liked Rick and looked forward to having him here as a friend and colleague. No wonder he wanted everything to work out smoothly.
"This is going to be difficult for both Doug and Rick," he'd explained. "I think they'll both feel a lot better about themselves after it's over. At least I hope they will."
"I'll pray for them both, Tim."
He grinned and put his hand on my shoulder. "It couldn't hurt, Max, could it?"
When I got back to the town house, David was still asleep. I stood for a moment looking at him. He was on his side, his beautiful hair covering his face. He looked so peaceful, innocent almost, that I hated to disturb him. But he needed to be awakened. I brushed his hair away from his face and kissed his cheek.
He rolled onto his back, grabbed me, and pulled me into a kiss. "Morning, Sunshine!" he said afterward.
"Don't call me that! That's what Debbie calls Justin. Do you think of me as a kid? I'm older than you are."
He chuckled. "Yeah, by a year. Sorry old man! But you know, you do have a boyish look about you, especially when you're all ruddy from your run with Tim. Now, get out of those clothes and get in here with me. We have time for a quick roll in the hay, don't we?"
"Well, if it was very quick. But, David, I'm pretty sweaty."
He pulled down my sweat pants and then my jock and grabbed my dick. "You smell delicious to me, stud. Now get those shoes and things off."
His schedule was tighter than mine, so, figuring if he had the time I did, I quickly got naked and jumped on top of him.
He stuck two fingers in my mouth, which I obediently sucked. Then, before I knew what happened, he had rolled us over, pushed my head down on a pillow, pulled my rump in the air, and stuck both saliva-slick fingers up my chute.
It was not a long, leisurely fuck. He did me quick and hard. And I loved it. He reached around me and grabbed my cock as he was pumping in and out. He came before I did. When his cock went limp, he pulled out, rolled me over, and finished me off with his mouth.
"Damn, David. That was like being hit by lightning."
He chuckled. "Did I shock you, Maxie?"
"No, but it was quick, electric, and very intense."
"You do have a way with words, love. Must come from hanging around with the professor. Now, we've gotta hit the showers. I'll let you shower with me if you promise not to mess around."
"Aww, I wanted to mess around."
"No time this morning. I have an appointment with the boss at 10:00, so I've got to get to Cleveland."
David had recently gotten the Corvette out of winter storage. "You'll be there in plenty of time if you don't get arrested for speeding," I said, swatting him on his delicious, muscular ass.
It was just after noon when I got a call at the church. "Hey, lover, what say we drive over to Montrose and have dinner this evening at the Macaroni Grille?"
"What's the occasion?"
"Well, it's a pretty nice day, and you haven't had a ride in my little red wagon since fall. Besides, you like that restaurant, don't you?"
"You know I do. Sounds great. You sure there's no special occasion?"
"Well, I have some news for you. About my job. So this will be kind of a celebration, maybe."
"Bastard," I laughed. Then I realized where I was. Fortunately there was no one around to hear me. "You're just going to leave me wondering all day?"
"Yep. You'll just have to contain yourself until this evening. Gotta go. Love you, Max!"
I had a busy afternoon, so there wasn't much time to wonder what David's news was. When I got home, I changed out of my clericals. Macaroni Grille is a fairly casual place, so I put on a pair of khakis, a checked sport shirt, and a pullover sweater.
When David got home, he gave me a quick kiss, said, "You look good, Max, very preppy. Let me get out of this suit and we'll go."
A few minutes later he had changed into khakis and his jade green turtleneck. Oh, and he'd unfastened the pony tail, so his hair was hanging down in all its curly, carroty glory. "Damn, you're sexy, Taylor," I said.
He grinned and said, "We aim to please."
I groped his package and said, `Oh, you please, babe. Never doubt it."
He gave me a strange look. Then he grinned, grabbed his car keys from the table beside the front door, and said, "OK, let's go."
We hit the restaurant at a lull between the older, early crowd and the younger set, so we were shown to a table right away. We refused the jug of house wine our server wanted us to order. David, who usually doesn't drink when he's driving, ordered a scotch neat. I wondered if that meant he was tense about something, but didn't say anything. I ordered a glass of soave. When in Rome, and all that.
After we had our drinks, salad, and bread, I couldn't contain myself any longer. "OK, David, you've kept me guessing long enough. What's the big news?"
He took a sip of his scotch. "Well, part of it is really great, Max. But I'm not sure how you're going to take the other part."
"Now you're being mysterious. What IS it?"
"I'm getting a promotion. A lot more responsibility, less traveling, big raise."
"David, that's tremendous. You've thrown yourself into this job, worked your ass off But you haven't worked there all that long. It's wonderful that you're getting this sort of recognition so soon. Congratulations, lover. I'm really proud of you!"
He'd been smiling, but at that point he looked serious. He put his hands out to me across the table and I took them.
"Yeah, well, there's a catch, Max."
"Which is . . . ?"
"It involves a transfer."
"A transfer?" Stupid thing to say. I had heard him perfectly well. "To where?"
"Well, that's the thing, babe. It's California."
David had told me he loved California. He had friends from his undergraduate days who'd move to the San Francisco area, and he'd visited them the previous summer. My mind was filled with all kinds of thoughts. Was our relationship over? Would he take the transfer? Could I reasonably expect him not to? Was I prepared to move to California? Well, he hadn't asked me to do that anyway. Why had he chosen to tell me this in a restaurant? Was he afraid I'd make a scene? Was this the legendary meal where he takes me out to a nice place to tell me he's dumping me?
"Max, come back! Where'd you go? Aren't you going to say something?
Truthfully I didn't know what to say. So I stalled for time.
I drank the last of my wine and signaled the waiter for another. "Did you say yes? You are going to take the promotion, aren't you?"
"I asked for a couple of days to think about it. Told my boss I needed to talk with you."
"David, I can't stand in your way. I couldn't ask you to give all that up because of me."
He looked at me. At first I thought it was a very serious look, but then I saw a hint of a smile in his eyes.
"Max, why don't you come with me?"
"Oh, well, David, I don't know. That is, I'd, uh, need to think about that."
Mercifully, the server came with our main courses, salmon for David and tagliarini for me.
"Thing is," David said while chewing on a piece of bread, "I have to tell them Monday whether I'm going to accept the job."
"What are the consequences if you turn it down?"
"Oh, I could keep doing what I'm doing. But this is a pretty big deal, Max. If I turn this one down, I don't know whether I'd be offered the next one that opened up. Besides, it might be in Bumfuck. And this is in the Bay Area. You went to school out there. You know what a great place it would be to live."
"David, I am really pleased, love, that you've gotten this recognition. And, of course you must take the new position. I just don't think I can go with you."
"I know it's a big step, Max. Just promise me you'll think about it. Maybe we can talk again Sunday when you get home from church."
The rest of the meal was pretty quiet. It seemed obvious to me that our relationship would be over if I didn't go out there with him. I had a lot of thinking, and perhaps some praying, to do before Sunday night.
* * *
The next morning as Max and I warmed up before our run, he told me about David's promotion and transfer.
"Does that mean you'll be going with him?"
"Well, he's asked me to. But I just don't know, Tim."
I wondered what his reservations were, but I didn't ask. I decided he'd tell me whatever he wanted me to know. So we ran. He didn't say anything more about it as we did our cool-offs, and I didn't press him. He seemed, understandably, preoccupied.
When we got back home, I hugged him. "Max, it's time for you to think first of yourself. You aren't in the habit of doing that. Promise me you'll do what's best for you."
He squeezed me. "Thanks, Tim. I think it's a matter of the lesser of evils. I don't want to go to California. I had enough of that place in seminary. I just feel out of place there. But if I stay here, it obviously means my relationship with David will be over. Oh, we will always be friends, but you can't sustain a love affair when you're that far apart."
"Indeed. I'm wondering what's going to happen with Ced and me when he's in Ann Arbor for the next two or three years."
"Well, I guess I'll see you at the game this afternoon. When do Stan and Doug and Rick arrive?"
"They are all flying in this morning. As you know, Stan and Doug are staying here. It's great of you and David to put Rick up. He said he wouldn't mind staying in a motel."
"Nonsense. I'm looking forward to meeting him. As I understand it, Doug has more or less already forgiven him, and it's just a matter of them getting together so Rick can apologize and Doug can accept his apology."
"Well, I expect it will be pretty emotional. I'm trying to figure out how to manage this so Rick and Doug can have some privacy."
"No problem. You've got my key. I'll be at the church all morning, and David's at work all day. He won't be able to come to the game. So, when Rick gets here, bring him over, show him the guest room and have him put his things there. Then if you want to let him and Doug have some privacy for their reconciliation at your house, you, Stan, and Ced can come over here."
"Ced won't be with us until after the game. But Stan and I may come to your place and hang out if Rick and Doug want privacy. If, that is, I can pry Stan away from Doug's side. When he was here last time, he acted as if his main purpose in life was to protect Doug from Rick."
"Well, you have to admire his loyalty."
I grinned. "His loyalty began to look a lot like pig-headedness. Anyway, thanks for the use of your place, Max. And you'll be with us for lunch?"
"Yeah, if you're sure you want me."
"I may need you to help referee if things don't go according to plan. And I'd feel a lot better just having you around, especially since Ced won't be here."
"What are we doing about lunch?"
"Ced took my car this morning and left his SUV, so there'll be room for all five of us. We'll just go somewhere and grab something."
"Well, if for some reason things go badly, let me take Rick to lunch. If the worst happens, he and I may not come to the game."
I put a hand on his shoulder. "Pray that the worst doesn't happen. But thanks for being willing to deal with it if it does." We hugged again. "And, about David, please let me know what you decide about the transfer. Is it all right if I tell Cedric?"
"Of course. But let's not say anything to the others until we see what's going to happen."
"Right. Later, Max. I love you."
"I love you, Timmy. Later."
I raced into the house, shaved and showered, dressed, grabbed a bowl of cereal and a glass of o.j. and began to get ready for our visitors. Actually, there wasn't all that much to do. I put clean towels in the guest bath. We kept clean sheets on the guest bed, so there was nothing to do there. I wandered around and straightened things up a little, and then said "Hell with it. They're friends."
Rick was the first to arrive. We hugged, and I asked him how he was.
"Tim, I'm practically shaking. I'm scared to death."
"I understand how you feel, Rick. But I think you shouldn't worry too much. From what Doug said after Cedric and I told him your story, I think he understands why you did what you did. You may find Stan a bit prickly, but he'll come around because he loves Doug."
"I hope you're right. Thanks, Tim for setting all of this up. I'll always be grateful to you for helping me make my peace with Doug."
"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I'm glad for both your sakes that this worked out. Now, let's take your things over to Max's. He said he was sorry he had to be at St. Peter's all morning, but that you were to make yourself at home and he'd see you at lunch."
I took Rick over to Max's, gave him the key, and showed him where things were. He said he needed to hang up some stuff and use the john and would be back over to my place in a few minutes.
I had barely gotten back to my house when Stan and Doug pulled up. Stan had rented a black Mustang convertible and, despite it's being only about 55 degrees, they had the top down.
After a hug from Doug and a kiss from Stan, we took their things inside and up to their room. I asked about their flight, which they said was a little bumpy. I put on a pot of coffee, and before it had finished dripping, the doorbell rang. It was, of course, Rick. I stood aside to let him come in. Both Stan and Doug stood. There was a moment of total silence, as if everyone in the room had stopped breathing. Then Doug simply held his arms out to Rick.
Stan took one step further away from Doug as Rick went to Doug. The two of them hugged, and both had tears streaming down their faces.
I gestured with my head to Stan to come with me, and he followed me to Max's house, only a few doors down the street. When we got there, we couldn't get in. I remembered that Rick had the key, and he'd obviously locked it when he left.
"Well, Stanley, it's a beautiful day for a walk."
"You think they'll be all right?"
"Yes, I'm sure they will. They need to be alone. Rick isn't going to do anything to upset Doug, and, unless Doug has had a radical change of heart since you two were here last, he's not going to hurt Rick."
Stan looked at me and grinned. "This is as good a time as any to apologize for being such an asshole when we were here before. When we got home, Doug made me see how he felt about it. Most of all, he wanted to know that what Rick did wasn't out of malice. He was so happy to hear what really happened that he was ready to forgive him right away. And then he worried that he'd been wrong in avoiding Rick for all those years. He felt guilty for the guilt Rick carried."
"Your Doug is one very sweet man."
"Oh, Timmy, he is that, for sure."
We walked for about forty-five minutes. Stan reiterated that he thought Rick should have sought help from somewhere, most obviously his father, instead of caving in to his fraternity president. I admitted that he probably should have. "But that's water under the bridge, Stan. Both Rick and Doug have suffered enough, and they both obviously had deep feelings for each other back then. It's time for both of them to put that episode behind them, and I'm happy to think they can do it and be friends now."
"Tim, for a young twerp, you're a pretty wise man."
I laughed. "Thanks, I think."
"So, you think Modarelli will fit in well here?"
"From the two times I've been with him before today, I'd say yes. Ced and I both liked him immediately. I'm looking forward to having him as a colleague and, I hope, a friend."
"Then so be it!" Stan said, clapping me on the shoulder.
When we got back to the house, Rick and Doug were drinking coffee in the living room and having an animated talk, about my book, as it turned out, which both of them had read as soon as Stanford U P published it. As Stan and I entered, Rick pointed to Max's house key on the coffee table and said, "Sorry guys. What did you do?"
"We took a nice walk," Stan said. "Is everything OK here?"
"Yes, Stanley, everything's fine. We've had a lot to talk about and we're not nearly caught up yet, but we're working on it. Now, there's still lots of Tim's coffee in the kitchen, so why don't you guys get some and come back and sit with us?"
Stan took a deep breath, smiled that multi-megawatt smile of his, and went with me to the kitchen.
The coffee was gone but the conversation was still flowing when Max rang the doorbell. He had changed out of his clericals. He hugged Doug and Stan and then I introduced him to Rick.
"Dr. Modarelli, Rick, I'm happy to meet you. I've heard a lot about you."
Rick chuckled, "Yeah, it's Rick. And I dare say you have heard a lot about me, Father, and most of it bad."
"Hey, it's just Max. And I sense a lot of love and good will in this room right now. Besides, I remember how impressed with you Cedric and Tim were after you were here for your interview process. It's good to have you with us."
"Well, you're generous to put me up. You and your partner. Where is David?"
"He had to work all day, sends his regrets that he can't come to the game with us. But he'll be with us for supper." Then he looked at me. "How about the others? Can they make it?"
We had arranged for a party room at a local restaurant for supper.
"Just about everyone. Mark and Lori, Steve and Becky, Chaz and Trey. Only Philip of the group that went to Florida won't be here. He begged off. Don't know what's with him. I fear all is not going well with him and Geoff, but I don't know what the story is."
"Well, is anybody else hungry?" Max asked. "I know I am."
So we all got into Cedric's SUV and went to Applebee's for lunch.
The weather held and it was a beautiful afternoon, sunny, nearly 70 by game time. We all managed to sit together. Rebecca and Lori, who were sitting with some of the other girlfriends of the teammates came over before the game started to say hello. We introduced Rebecca to Stan and Doug. Lori, of course, had met them when she and Mark visited Lake Polk during the holidays.
When play started, Max and I sat with Rick and managed to fill him in on who Chaz and Trey were. He was curious about how I had come to be part of such a close circle of undergraduate friends. I told him partial truths, I'm afraid, because I wasn't about to go into that dreadful weekend a year earlier that brought us together.
It was a pleasant afternoon. Everyone was in high spirits, and we were all paying especial attention to Mark and Ced, cheering when they came to the plate or when they did something good on defense. Mark got two hits and Cedric three. Mark, moreover, helped turn a game-saving double play in the top of the 9th inning, and we beat Bowling Green by 8-7.
* * *
When the others left Doug and me alone at Tim and Ced's house, I was more nervous than I've ever been, I think, much more nervous than when I had to do the oral defense of my dissertation. But as soon as they were out the door, Doug hugged me, led me to a chair and told me to sit. He sat facing me.
I won't summarize the whole conversation. Enough to say he forgave me. He was very understanding. I sat there, listening to him, tears streaming down my face. When he saw that, he hugged me, and I began to sob against his chest.
When I got control of myself, I asked him to tell me about his life in Florida with Stan. He told me about the troubles they'd had after they were outed and about the group from the university coming down to support him when he decided to picket the diocesan headquarters in Waltersburg. When he talked of Stan, his eyes lighted up and I knew he really loved him. I love Doug, too, but I know he's happy with Stan, so I'm content.
We talked about the group of guys who called themselves the "Brotherhood" and had gotten around to comparing enthusiasms about Tim's book when Stan and Tim got back.
The game was fun and close enough to be exciting. Both Cedric and Mark played well, and the group of their fans I was sitting with were noisy in their appreciation. I was surprised that Tim, who has always seemed pretty quiet and reserved, yelled, applauded, and whistled when the home team did well, especially if it involved Mark or Ced.
During those interminable lulls that occur in all baseball games, I was able to ask Tim and Max more about the others in their group, so I would feel a little more comfortable talking with them that evening at the restaurant.
Tim had sorted out the logistics of how we were all going to get to dinner. Mark and Ced had to shower after the game and then go home and change clothes for dinner. Mark and Lori and Rebecca and Steve (with whom I had only shaken hands) were coming, I think, in Steve's car. Anyway, we got there about 6:30.
The restaurant had given us a large room with a bar setup at one end, and we were invited to have drinks and mingle for a while. I had just gotten a dry sherry when Max came over to me. He was holding hands with a remarkable looking man. Max and I are the same height, and this guy was three or four inches taller. He had shoulder-length, curly red hair, and he was incredibly sexy. I think I gasped when I saw him. Max didn't miss the gasp, either. He winked at me and said, "Rick, I want you to meet my partner, David Taylor."
`God,' I thought, `are all of these guys hunks?' I chatted with them for a few minutes, and then Trey and Chaz came over. I had been introduced to them at the game, but we hadn't really talked. Both of those guys were gorgeous. Despite his being six and a half feet tall, Chaz had a certain boyishness about him which I found very sexy. And Trey! I must say, when it comes to Trey, words fail me. Readers of this story already know what all these guys look like. I'm simply trying to give my first impressions. Of all the guys in Tim's group, Trey was the most handsome, I thought, especially if you like tawny blond hair and green eyes, classic features, and a butt to die for. But Trey had an aura about him that I can hardly explain. He exuded a warmth. Not a sexual heat, though he was, God knows, sexy. No, it was a feeling that he knew you, understood you, and liked you. I looked forward to getting to know him better as the summer wore on.
I got to meet Mark, Stan's Hunky son, and his beautiful German girlfriend, Lori. They in turn introduced us to Steve and Rebecca. I knew that Mark and Ced had been roommates for their first three years at the university, but I was puzzled about how Steve fit in. Especially since he was obviously straight. I'd have to ask Tim about that when I got the chance.
What struck me most about the group was the love that surrounded us all. There was more laughing and touching and hugging than I've ever seen in a group that size. It was a revelation to me. The two straight guys and their women seemed perfectly at home. Rebecca and Lori didn't seem to be intimidated by being the only women present, and they didn't seem to care that they and their men were the only straight people there. The women circulated, talking and laughing and touching.
It occurred to me that this is the way it should be. Here are twelve people who love one another and for whom sexual orientation is secondary to the bond they share. Amazing. Wonderful.
Then it occurred to me that there were thirteen of us. Six couples and me. And, in the midst of that happy group, I felt lonely. I wanted desperately to have what they all had. A partner. Someone to climb into bed with, to go grocery shopping with, to pick out towels with. Just then Trey came over and said, "You'll find somebody, Rick. Now that you've gotten closure on your problem with Doug, you can move on."
How did he know what I was thinking? I have no idea. But I wasn't really surprised. That's the kind of vibe I got from Trey from the beginning. I thanked him and said I hoped he was right.
About then Tim began to tap on a glass with a spoon. Eventually the group became quiet.
"Friends, I'm not going to make a speech."
Cedric grinned, rolled his eyes, and said, "Yeah, right." That got a laugh.
Then Tim continued. "I just want to do three things. First, let's congratulate Cedric and Mark and their teammates on winning an exciting game today."
There was a lot of applause and some whistles.
"Second, it's wonderful, as always, to have the Florida contingent of our group here with us. Stan, Doug, we love you, and we're glad you could be with us. This has turned out to be a very special occasion for Doug, I know. Welcome back, guys!"
"Third, I want to introduce Ced's and my new friend, soon to be a colleague in the English Department, Dr. Richard Modarelli, known to his friends as Rick."
Tim came over and hugged me and said, "Welcome, Rick. Welcome to the group." And he gave me a quick kiss. On the mouth! That brought more applause, followed by comments like "Welcome, Rick!" and "Hear, hear!"
Then Tim asked us to find seats at the long table that had been set up so that we could go on with our dinner.
After dinner, dessert, and coffee, the group was beginning to break up. We were all on our feet again, saying our goodbyes. I think everyone came over to welcome me to campus and say they looked forward to seeing me again. During all that, I noticed that Tim and Max were having what appeared to be a serious conversation. David was across the room laughing and talking with Chaz. Tim put his hand on Max's cheek and said something, but he was too far away for me to understand what he said. Max nodded his head and I could read his lips when he said "I will, Timmy." They hugged and separated, Tim to go to Cedric, Max to David.
* * *
David and I stopped back at Tim's after the dinner. He offered drinks, but no one wanted any. Stan and Rick both said they'd like coffee, so Cedric put on a pot. The talk was comfortable. Apparently Rick and Doug had truly reconciled and were easy around each other. Even Stan seemed OK around Rick now, and I was relieved to see that. Tim had explained to me how intensely Stan seemed to dislike Rick, even after he had found out why Rick had done what he did to Doug.
It was midnight when David, Rick, and I got back to our place. I had to be at St. Peter's at 7:30 to get ready for the 8:00 service, so I wanted to get to bed. I gave Rick a hug, told him how happy I was that he was going to be at the university, and excused myself. David stayed downstairs and talked with Rick for a while. Then I heard them both come up the stairs. They said goodnight in the hall, and David came in.
He did his bathroom things and then came back into the bedroom, where he stripped and slid into bed beside me.
"What'll it be tonight, Max?"
"It's been a big day, and I have to be up early. Will you just hold me, David?"
He took me in his arms. "You got it, lover." He kissed me gently, stroking my hair, until I went to sleep.
The next morning the plan was that David was going to fix breakfast for Rick, who would then drive his rental car back to Hopkins International to catch his flight back to Chicago. I expected after that David would go back to bed. He really enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday mornings.
I didn't get home from church until 12:30, since I had assisted in the second service. David was in the kitchen, chopping veggies.
"We're not having the traditional Ohio Sunday dinner, Max. No roast beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans today."
"When do we ever have that?" I asked, giving him a hug.
He grinned. "You're right. Don't think either of us has ever fixed a beef roast. But today we're having shrimp stir-fry. Wanna help?"
I prepared the rice and opened a cold bottle of sauvignon blanc while he finished the stir fry, and before we knew it we were sitting at the table. I said a grace, and we dug in.
During the meal I worried because I knew David was going to ask me about coming to California with him. And I knew that my refusal to go would in effect end our relationship.
After we had eaten and cleaned up the kitchen, David startled me by picking me up and carrying me into the living room. He kissed the tip of my nose and plopped me on the sofa. Then he sat down beside me.
"Max, babe, we've got to talk about this thing."
"Yeah, David, I know."
"So you're going to tell me that you have a commitment to the church here and that it's very difficult for a priest to move, especially to a place like California, where half the priests in the country would like to be. Right?"
"Well, uh yes."
"I'll be making enough for both of us to live on, you know. But you wouldn't like that, would you?"
"No, David, I'm afraid I wouldn't. It's a matter of my vocation. I truly feel I've been called to the ministry."
He put his hand on the back of my head and smiled at me. "I know, Max. Believe me, I wouldn't expect you to give that up."
"So what are we going to do, David?"
He pulled me close to him, holding my head against his shoulder. My nose was touching his neck, and he smelled wonderful.
"I'm going to California, baby, and you are going to stay here."
"But . . . "
"Look, Max, I could turn down that promotion and stay here. And I would do that, except for one thing."
"What?" I asked, startled.
"Except that our relationship never had a chance."
I pulled away and stared at him. "Never had a chance? Why on earth not?"
"Because, sweetheart, I've seen the way you look at Tim."
To be continued.