by Tim Mead
Oh, Adam, Adam, be careful!
He and Tony had talked, which led to making out on the sofa. Adam, who had had no sexual release for a week, became noticeably aroused.
"I think I can fix that without hurting your tender ribs," Tony said with a leer.
Looking at the tent in his friend's pants, Adam replied, "Let's see if we can't find a way to take care of your problem, too.
They wound up in the bedroom doing a 69 with Tony on top. When they were both satisfied, it seemed natural to lie there and snuggle, but Adam couldn't find a comfortable position. So they dressed and went back to the sofa. They spent the rest of the day alternately talking and making out, with a break at 6:00 for more of the food Tony had brought.
When it was time for Tony to leave, Adam said, "Thanks for coming, Tony. Thanks for bringing the food. And, well, for getting me off. I needed that."
Tony grinned. "The pleasure was mine, Red."
Adam sighed. This didn't seem like the time to tell him he hated that nickname.
"Drive carefully on the way back, please. Don't want anything to happen to you."
"Are you going to be nervous about driving again, Adam?"
"I don't think so. Well, maybe a little. Anyway, send me an email when you get home, please."
Tony hugged him gently. "Yes, yes. I will. Now, you relax. I'm sure you'll be glad to be back at work tomorrow. Just don't try to do too much too soon. And if Blake wants to do things for you, I think you should let him."
Adam didn't tell Tony what Blake wanted most to do for him.
Blake didn't get back to the condo until about 10:30. Since he was no longer taking prescription pain killers, Adam had gone back to having Jack Daniels at bedtime. As he'd told Blake several times, it helped him sleep.
Blake had milk and Oreos. Adam resisted the urge to comment on how boyish that seemed.
"So what did you do today?" he asked instead.
"I went to my place and did some laundry, cleaned up, answered the mail, stuff like that. Then I went to Fridays, where I met a guy. We got to talking and wound up going to the movies. Afterwards we stopped by Nellie's for a drink. And here I am."
"Had you met the guy before?"
"So you, um, picked him up?"
Blake frowned. "Not exactly. We were both waiting to be seated at the restaurant. The place was pretty crowded. He suggested we share a table. So we did."
"You must have hit it off. Want to tell me about him?"
"He's a few years older than me. He's a detective in the Colby Police Department."
"A gay cop? "
"Who said he was gay?"
"Woops! I just assumed. So, was he?"
Blake nodded. "Yeah, he was telling me they used to have a real homophobe as chief, but there was some sort of upheaval and now things are cool."
"Interesting. I know an ex-cop from that department. He was the chief for a while. But he couldn't be the guy your friend was telling you about, because he's gay."
"What's his name?"
"Jim Grant. He's teaching criminal justice now at the University."
"Oh, Ray told me all about him. He's the one who helped get rid of the gay-bashing chief. He's a real hero in Ray's book."
"Wait a minute. This guy's tall, well-built, with blue eyes and red hair?"
"That's him! His hair's the same color as yours. Do you know him?"
"I was introduced to him once, but we never got a chance to talk. So you enjoyed your evening with Ray, then?"
Blake gave him a searching look. "Yeah. Did you enjoy your afternoon with Tony?"
"Yes, though he left not long after we'd had supper."
Soon after that Adam and Blake turned in for the night. Though, of course, not together.
The next morning Blake took Adam to campus.
"I'll go back to the condo and clear out my stuff. And I'll leave the key on the kitchen counter."
"Yeah. Okay. And, Blake, I don't know how to thank you for all you've done this past week."
"You know . . . . Well, never mind. You're welcome."
Later that morning Adam was sitting at his desk, thinking about Blake. And Tony. And the strange emotion he'd felt when he'd learned about Blake spending the evening with the young detective, Ray.
That wreck did more than bruise your ribs and cut your head. It's put your life out of kilter! You're actually dreading going back to the empty condo this afternoon, aren't you? Why is that? You were doing fine on your own until then. But having Blake there for a week . . . . It's changed things, hasn't it? And were those pangs of jealousy you felt when he told you about his evening with Stonesifer? Stonesifer with the young, toned body. Stonesifer who isn't much older than Blake. Who's a good three inches taller than you are. Not jealous, you say? Are you sure?
But then, was Blake just making conversation, or did he tell you about the young cop purposely to make you jealous? Was he cruising at the time? He said they were both waiting for a table. Besides, despite what he says he feels about you, he never did anything to come on to you in the week he was living at the condo. He's smart, but he's not devious.
"Adam, you busy?"
He looked up to see Nigel Brewster in the doorway.
"Not really. I was woolgathering, as a matter of fact. Come on in, please." He stood and the two shook hands. When they were seated, Adam continued, "Even though you're in the next office, we haven't had a chance to chat for a while. How've you been?"
"That was to have been my question. I heard about your accident and that you were back at work this morning. I wanted to see how you are doing. All recuperated?"
"I still have a few twinges, but I'm functioning, thanks."
"That's good news." Nigel was fishing around in the pocket of his jacket. Then he abruptly withdrew his hand. "Sorry. You'd think after all this time I'd know I can't smoke my pipe inside the building."
Adam, who hated the smell of cigarette smoke, said, "I wouldn't mind. My dad smokes a pipe. But, as you said, it's against the rules."
"I really must apologize to you," Nigel said, recrossing his legs.
"For what, having an urge to smoke?"
Nigel smiled. "No, not that. I recall saying something the first time we met about having you to our place for supper. And, obviously, we haven't done so."
"That's all right. I know how busy things are at the beginning of the semester."
"I should tell you what's been going on. Better you hear it from me than from the department grapevine."
"I was offered a position at the University of Hull. I really wanted to go. That's in Yorkshire and not the South of England where I'm from, but it's England, and I liked the people I met. From what I could gather, it's an up and coming place."
"You were there for an interview, I take it."
"But you didn't accept their offer?"
"Yes. Don't want to make too much of it, but my wife simply dug in her heels and said she wouldn't go. My sons were quite upset about leaving their school and their friends here. So it came to a choice between the Hull position and my family, really."
"I can imagine that was a tough decision."
"Well, I admit I wanted to go back to England. But, hostages to fortune, you know. I wasn't about to leave Kate and the boys."
"I must say, I admire you. Is there any chance that you and Mrs. Brewster could move to England after your sons are in college?"
The skin around Nigel's eyes crinkled. "I had thought I might raise that possibility when the time comes. Assuming, of course, that anyone back home would want me by then."
They chatted a while longer before Nigel left, saying that perhaps after the upcoming holidays Adam would come for supper. Adam noted that Nigel, after nearly twenty years or however long it had been, was sufficiently Americanized not to call it "tea."
Are straights more loyal to their partners than gays? The legend is that gays are notorious for their unwillingness or inability to stay with one partner. But how true is the legend? Tony still mourns Harry, who died back in `02. But look at you and Brian. Fifteen years together and the relationship had been dying for several years before you woke up to the fact. Or summoned the will to do anything about it. So what about you, Adam? Do you think you and Tony could make a go of it? And how strong are your feelings for Tony when you can be so attracted to Blake?
But Blake is just a kid!
Yeah, he's twenty-three going on thirty! He's a very intelligent, very sexy man with more than a modicum of integrity, given his irreproachable behavior while he was taking care of you.
Shouldn't you call the insurance guy about a loaner car? And find out from him when you'll have a check? You shouldn't forget that Blake wants to go with you when you shop for a new car. Are you offended by that? Is he treating you as if you can't be trusted to choose something sensible?
No, he's just a young guy who likes to look at cars. Nothing presumptuous about that.
Or maybe, Adam, as he's told you, he just likes being with you and car-shopping is an excuse to spend time together.
# # #
The insurance company provided Adam with wheels in the form of a Malibu. It seemed big compared to his two-seater. Not a bad car, he thought as he drove it home.
# # #
At the end of class, Adam said, "Blake, I'd like to see you if you have a moment."
When the others were gone, Blake asked, "What's up?"
"Walk back to the office with me?"
When they were seated, Adam said, "I've never really thanked you for what you did for me last week. I mean, you gave up your life for a week and devoted yourself to me."
"You're welcome. But you know –"
"You don't need to say what I think you're about to say. Let me go on, please. There's no way I can ever pay you back for becoming my nurse and companion. So, not as repayment but as, perhaps, a thank-you, I wondered if you'd be free to have dinner with me Friday or Saturday evening. I've never been to Adrian's, and I thought we might try it out. Have you been there?"
"Yes. The atmosphere's kind of stuffy, but the food's good. Of course we'd both have to wear jackets and ties."
"Is that a problem?"
Blake grinned. "No, I'd do that for a date with you any time."
A date? Hadn't thought of it as a date.
Returning his grin, Adam said, "If we did it Friday evening, you'd still be free to pursue your usual Saturday night activities."
"Bastard! That's cold! You make me sound like a whore." He clasped his hands behind his head, slouched down in his seat, causing his package to be a bit more prominent. "Which, I suppose I am in a way. Except I never accept money."
"I'm not sure I want to continue this line of conversation, but did you email your father about your evening with Ray Stonesifer?"
"And that is your business . . . how?"
Adam had to force himself not to look at the prominent bulge in Blake's jeans.
"It's absolutely none of my business. I'm sorry I asked."
"Well, since you admit that, I'll tell you I only email the old man about guys I've been in bed with. And, so you'll know, Ray and I had a purely platonic evening, just two gay guys hangin' out."
Rather than consider the startling little leap his heart had given on learning that nothing had happened between Blake and the hunky young cop, Adam said, "We're both within walking distance of Adrian's. Suppose we meet there at 7:00 on Friday evening?" That was good, that sounded as if he had everything under control. "And I'll take care of the reservations."
They were working on their entrees when Adrian Lynch came to their table.
"Dr. Craig, it's good to see you again."
"Call me Adam, please. And it's good to see you. I very much enjoyed the, um gathering, you and Tom hosted a while back."
"We got your thank-you note. Very old school, but appreciated."
"Adrian, let me introduce Blake Bellamy."
Blake half rose, and the two shook hands.
"I've seen you around, I think." Adrian smiled. "At Nellie's, maybe."
"That's possible." Blake didn't return his smile, Adam was interested to note. "Good to meet you."
Wonder what it is about Lynch Blake doesn't like.
"Well, gentlemen, I just wanted to welcome you. I hope everything is to your satisfaction."
"Everything's wonderful," Adam said.
"Yeah," Blake added, loosening up a little. "You must have a great chef."
"I do. And I'll tell Albert you said so. He'll be pleased." Adrian smiled again and moved on.
"So you got invited to the Queers' affair?"
"Yeah. I live in the same building, remember? He and Tom Nielsen are both on the top floor."
"What do you think of our host?"
"Not to be superficial, but for starters he's gorgeous."
"Yeah, I'd do `im. Except I hear he's strictly a top."
"Surely Tom doesn't talk about things like that."
"No, but there was a time not so long ago when those two weren't together."
"I thought they'd been friends for ages."
"I think they were school buds. But they didn't become lovers until fairly recently. Before that, or so I've been told, Adrian had one good looking young college stud after another at intervals of a few months to a year."
Feeling only a little guilty about gossiping, Adam said, "So he was something of a gay Lothario, huh?"
Blake chuckled. "Good word."
The table talk turned, as it often does, to other topics.
Over their crème brulee and coffee Adam asked, "What are you doing for the holidays?"
"Nothing? You mean you're staying here?"
"Well, I'm sure as fuck not gonna hang my stocking over the parental fireplace. And Gran's going to Hawaii with a couple of friends."
"We can't have you alone! Stay with me." Did I just say that? Well, it's out there now, and I'll stand by the offer.
"Adam, first of all, I'm a big boy. I can manage on my own. Second, you don't want me for the whole two-week vacation. Third, I have to study for finals. I think this calendar where finals are two weeks after the holidays sucks." He paused. "Fourth, won't you be spending time with Tony? Or your parents?"
Adam held up his hands. "Okay, okay. Enough counting reasons! I confess I'll have to go to Westerville at some point. Haven't seen the folks since summer. I haven't talked with Tony about his plans, but I imagine we'll get together sometime during the holidays. Still, I don't like the idea of you having to spend them alone. I imagine like most university towns, Colby is deserted between Christmas and New Year."
"Thanks for your concern, but I'll be okay. Honest." He finished his coffee and set the cup on its saucer. "Now, when are we gonna go buy you a new car?"
"How about tomorrow?"
"Deal!" Then he paused, staring at Adam.
"Tilt your head a little to the right."
Though puzzled, Adam did as he was asked.
"Oh, my god! I think the hair along your scar is growing in white!"
"Are you sure? Maybe it's just something about the lights."
"You could be right. But take a look when you get home."
On the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, Blake thanked Adam for the meal. Then he asked for and got a hug. Adam was aware of the younger man's erection, even though Blake did nothing so blatant as thrusting it against him.
Later, as he stood in his bathroom, head tilted to catch the light over the mirror, the very short hairs running along his mostly-healed laceration were indeed silver as Blake had said. There'd been a touch of that at his temples for a couple of years, but as his hair grew longer, the silver streak was going to be dramatic.
That's freaky! Wonder if I can color it? Or I could shave my head. No. I'd rather have the blaze than be bald. That may come soon enough. I'll have a surprise for Tony next time I see him.
# # #
The following day, Saturday, he and Blake went car shopping as planned. They looked at several kinds of small SUV's. After a long day Adam took Blake home in his new silver Honda CR-V with four-wheel drive. Blake had urged him to get a black one, but the salesman pointed out that from November until April any car in that part of the country was covered with salt most of the time. Adam appreciated the point and decided on the silver because it was the closest to the color of highway salt mixed with dirt, despite Blake's teasing about how stodgy the color was: he called it "salt gray."
It occurred to Adam as he drove home that he wouldn't have needed a vehicle like that if he weren't planning to do a lot of driving between Colby and Ann Arbor. When he said as much, Blake reminded him that he was going to Columbus in a couple of weeks, and the weather at that time could very well make him appreciate the AWD capability.
# # #
The next afternoon Adam called home. His father answered the phone.
"Adam! It's good to hear from you. Your mother and I were going to call you sometime today. How was your first week back at work?"
"Busy, Dad. It's that time of year."
"I think I meant to ask about your health. How are you doing?"
"It's been two weeks, so the ribs hardly hurt, unless I reach for something. And the scalp thingie has pretty much healed." He chuckled. "But you'll be surprised when you see me."
"Nothing too terrible. They had to shave part of my head to sew up the scalp wound. So Blake cut off the rest of it. You haven't seen me in a buzz cut since I was a kid."
"Oh. Well, eventually you can let it get as long as you want, I suppose."
Adam decided not to mention the silver streak.
"So, how are you? How's Mom?"
"Both well. She's hovering here, so I'd better put her on."
"Adam, dear! How are you?"
Adam went through the business about his health again, reassuring his mother that he felt fine.
After they had chatted a few minutes, she asked, "You're coming home for Christmas, aren't you? It's been ages since we've seen you."
"Yes, I'm sorry I haven't gotten home." I'm forty years old, but I'm still their kid. "That's one of the reasons I'm calling. You remember talking with Blake, who took care of me after the accident?"
"I certainly do. He seems to be a very mature young man."
"He is that. And I found out that he's going to be alone here in Colby for the holidays."
"He certainly is not! You'll bring him with you!"
Adam laughed. "I thought you'd say that. But I may have to hogtie him to get him down there. He's very independent, doesn't want to be a bother, doesn't want to intrude on our family Christmas."
"Nonsense. You tell him I said he was to come. If he gives you any trouble, call me and let me talk with him."
"Yes, ma'am. If he's smart, he'll know when to do what he's told."
She laughed. "Adam! You make me sound so bossy. I wouldn't tell him to do anything. But I can be very persuasive. Meanwhile, see if you can find out what he likes to eat. What his family does at Christmas."
"I already know a bit about his food likes and dislikes. But his relations with his family are strained. His father's a bas-- that is, a really domineering sort, and I think the mother's the mousy type."
"You haven't brought anyone home to meet us since you first met Brian. Is this young man your lover?"
"No. As you know, he's 23."
"That's no answer, Adam."
"Well, he's my student and my advisee."
"That's still no answer, Adam."
"He's my best student. He's really intelligent. He's good company. And I don't know what I'd have done without him that first week out of the hospital. But no, he isn't my lover. I just don't want him to have to spend all his time alone in his apartment during the holiday break."
"I see. Your father and I'll look forward to meeting this young man." She paused. "So, is he a hunk?"
She laughed. "Would you like me to call him? Never mind. I'm going to do it. Give me his phone number. I'll make sure he comes with you."
# # #
Adam intended to call Tony and see what his holiday plans were. He definitely wanted the two of them to have some time together. But it was a hectic week, with the end of term approaching soon after the holiday break.
On Tuesday evening he received a phone call from Jim Grant, with whom he hadn't talked since he'd called to thank Jim and Jake for the flowers.
"Hey, Jim. How are you?"
"Good, good. How's your recuperation coming?"
"I'm almost as good as new, thanks."
"How are you doing with the teaching? Getting used to it by now, I hope."
"I have a great new respect for teachers at all levels. After all those years on the force, I'd never have expected to have nerves before walking into a classroom."
"Still? The semester's almost over."
"Yeah, it's easier now. Jake says, though, that he's always nervous before he walks into the first classes of each semester."
"Uh huh. I know all about that. And Jake's okay?"
"Yes, he's just as bossy as ever. Ouch! He's right here, as a matter of fact."
"And I'm not bossy," Jake's voice said in the background.
Adam chuckled. He thought Jake one of the nicest men he'd ever met.
"So, Adam, we're calling to invite you to a meeting of the CQ's. We've persuaded Adrian to let us host this one since it's on the afternoon of New Year's Day when he and Albert will be wiped out from the big evening before."
"That's thoughtful of you guys. I'd love to be there."
"We're having a buffet meal. Come about 2:00. We're assuming everyone will have sobered up by then and will be able to face food."
"Sounds great! Can I bring anything?"
"No, thanks. Jake and I have it covered, with a little help from Adrian and Albert and Tom. But we have a suggestion."
"We're asking that each guest donate the cost of a meal to the Point Foundation."*
"Will you be bringing Tony with you this time?"
"I certainly shall if he's available. He and I haven't discussed holiday plans. I was going to call him in the next day or so."
"Well, no hurry. Bring him along if he'd like to come."
"I'll let you know after I've talked with him. And, Jim, thanks."
"We're looking forward to having you with us. You remember how to get here?"
"Indeed. Give Jake a hug for me."
"With pleasure. Hugs from both of us."
After he and Jim had hung up, Adam punched in Tony's number.
"How's the sexiest bookseller this side of the Appalachians?"
"And how many sexy booksellers do you know the other side of the Appalachians?"
"None as sexy as you. How are you, Tony?"
"I'm great. How are you?"
"Just about completely mended, thanks."
"Good to hear it. I was going to call you. Wanted to ask about your holiday plans."
"Two great minds with but a single thought. I'm calling to discuss that very topic."
Chuckling, Tony responded, "Your call. You go first."
"Okay. First of all, I'm eager to see you. But Christmas is out. Command performance with the parents. On the other hand, we've been invited to a Colby Queers' buffet on New Year's afternoon."
"I'd think Adrian would be busy that day."
"He's not hosting it. Jake Handley and Jim Grant are. They've a big old house in the country. I understand the restaurant will be closed on New Year's Day, but of course the night before is a big one for Adrian."
"So, could you spend a while in Colby with me, and we could go to the buffet?"
"Sounds great. Thanks for including me. Did you ask if we could bring anything?"
"Yeah, but they have a great idea. They've asked all the guests to contribute whatever they feel like to the Point Foundation."
"It's an outfit that gives college and university scholarships to worthy GLBT students. You can Google them and check out their website if you want to."
"I'll do that."
"Now. I don't want to wait until New Year's to see you. Is your semester so hectic you couldn't get away for a quiet overnight this weekend?"
"I think I could tear myself away."
"Well, come whenever you want on Saturday. If you get here early, though, you may have to help me tend the shop. We'll eat out somewhere and then have a quiet evening and, a late morning on Sunday, if you catch my drift."
"Love your drift, Lucarno!" Adam said with a hoarse voice.
# # #
He set out for Ann Arbor just after lunch on Saturday. There was no point in getting there too early, since Tony would be minding the shop.
This was the first occasion he'd had to drive the new car more than a few blocks, and he enjoyed the trip. It was good to sit up higher, where he could see better. And he felt less intimidated by the semis on the highway. Knowing he had a heavier vehicle with AWD gave him more confidence about driving in Michigan and Ohio in the wintertime. He wasn't quite ready to say "bring on the snow," but at least he wasn't going to spend the weekend worrying about the weather forecast.
When he entered the bookstore, Tony was helping a customer. As soon as they were alone, Tony greeted Adam with a hug and a very welcoming kiss. Then he held Adam at arm's length, studying him.
"I don't like you in a short haircut. I miss the curls. But what's this? A very distinguished streak of silver. That, I like!"
"You sure? `Cause my barber didn't do that. It's permanent. Unless I decide to color it."
"Don't even think about it!"
It was a cold, gray December afternoon, and there wasn't much pedestrian traffic. The two sat in the reading area sipping freshly made coffee. Tony picked up a book from a nearby table and handed it to Adam.
"Teddy says if you haven't read this you'll find it interesting."
The title was No Man's Land. "Reginald Hill? The one who writes the Dalziel and Pascoe procedurals?"
"The same. This, of course, is about World War I, which is your turf, isn't it?"
"Uh huh. Everyone in that generation was affected by it in one way or another, and most of them wrote books about it. As, of course, you know."
"Ted said to remind you that this is fiction, not scholarship, but he also says Hill seems to have researched the topic very well. It's about a bunch of deserters."
"Interesting. And I'm allowed to take this with me?"
"Yeah. It's not rare or expensive. Consider it a two-buck gift, compliments of Biggs and Lucarno. Or in this case from Lucarno and Danforth."
"Thanks. And thank Ted for thinking of me."
The conversation touched on a variety of topics. During a lull, Adam said, "I don't suppose Arch has remembered where he saw Vivian Clay's name."
"Not the last time I saw him. I don't want to nag him about it, but I'll see if I can casually bring up the topic the next time he comes in."
As he was closing up the shop Tony asked, "Did you bring a jacket and tie?"
"Yup. I'm prepared for anything except a black tie affair."
"Well, here's the deal. I've made reservations at Victors, which I think you'd enjoy. On the other hand, it's beginning to snow, not that that slows us Michiganders down. I've made lasagna and have it in the fridge. We could just have that with some red, a salad, and I might be able to come up with some dessert."
"I like that. We can always do Victors another time. As for dessert, you'll do."
Tony stepped back to let Adam go up the stairs ahead of him. Then as they were climbing the stairs Adam felt a hand caressing his butt.
"I like you in jeans!"
"You wouldn't like to have dessert before supper, would you?"
"As the guest, the choice is yours. But it sounds delectable to me."
After a brief stop so Tony could call and cancel the dinner reservation, they went to the bedroom, where dessert was, as Tony had predicted, "delectable." Their sex was slow and gentle. Tony seemed so concerned about hurting Adam that Adam had to hurry him along a couple of times. Granted, there'd been a few twinges in his ribs, but not enough to suppress his needs.
Afterward, wearing only fluffy navy terry cloth bathrobes, they had red wine and talked while the lasagna was in the oven. Then they had their supper with more talk.
"Wonderful meal! Is the lasagna from an old family recipe?"
"Hardly. My mother thinks cooking is demeaning. This was Harry's recipe. I don't know where he got it."
"Well, it's great, wherever it came from."
After dinner Tony provided cheddar, a mixture of cut up fresh fruit, and port.
When they'd cleaned up the kitchen and the last of the wine, they settled on the sofa and watched four episodes of a British political drama Tony had acquired on DVD. It had run some years back on PBS, but Adam had missed it. He enjoyed the program. He enjoyed even more relaxing on the sofa, cuddling and occasionally making out with Tony.
It was well after midnight when they went to bed, though not too late for another round of easy-going sex.
When Adam woke up, it was just after 10:00. He heard the shower running, which explained why he was in bed alone. Which meant there probably wasn't going to be any more sex. He was at first disappointed, but then a certain tenderness from the previous day's activities suggested it might be too soon.
He was stretching, ready to throw off the covers and get up, when Tony came back into the room naked, toweling his hair.
"Wow! That's a nice sight to wake up to."
"Thanks," Tony said as he draped the towel around his shoulders. "Would you like to get a shower while I fix breakfast?"
Breakfast sounded good. Nothing like sex to give a guy an appetite.
"If you'll wait, I can help with breakfast."
"I think I can manage. Just come and keep me company when you're finished in the bathroom."
After Adam had shaved, showered, and dressed, he went downstairs to the kitchen.
Handing him a glass of orange juice, Tony said, "Look outside."
It was still snowing, now with big, lazy flakes.
"The forecast says it's going to give us half a foot or more before it's over."
Adam couldn't help tensing up. "Then I'd best be on my way, hadn't I?"
"I understand that you're still a bit apprehensive. But take time to have some breakfast. They'll keep the roads clear, and there aren't supposed to be any high winds, so you shouldn't have to cope with drifts."
Tony fixed pancakes, scrambled eggs, and sausage patties. Adam felt as if he were being fortified before venturing out into the blizzard.
"Looks like I'll get to try out the all-wheel drive feature on my car."
"You know that's only useful when you're in fairly deep snow. I'd be willing to bet you don't need it."
As it turned out, Tony was right. The Michigan and Ohio DOT's had done their job: the roadways were clear all the way back to Colby. Adam wasn't disappointed that he hadn't needed his AWD, but he'd enjoyed the security of his new vehicle. Which, he noted as he got out of it, was now covered with salt.
The first thing he did when he got home was to use the toilet. Then he emailed Tony that he'd arrived safely. He was working on his preps for the next day when the phone rang.
"Adam, it's Blake."
"Hey, guy. What's up?"
"Well, I wanted to make sure you'd gotten back okay. How was the trip?"
"The roads were no problem. Thanks, though, for being concerned."
"No, I mean it!"
"So do I. But look, the second reason for calling is that I've accepted your mother's, um, invitation for Christmas. She says we've got to arrive no later than Christmas Eve afternoon and leave no sooner than the morning after Christmas. And we can stay a lot longer than that if we want to."
"I'm glad you're coming with me, Blake. But I think two nights with my parents is enough. Don't get me wrong, they're nice people. But being with strangers at Christmas will be awkward for you, I suspect."
"Your mother's a bit, well, forceful, but I think I'm gonna like her." He paused for so long Adam was about to ask if he was still there. Then he continued. "I still feel like I'm intruding. You and your folks don't have to be bothered with me, especially not at a time like Christmas. But I admit I like the idea of having the time with you. So if you're sure it's okay, I'll come along."
"I don't know how I can make it any clearer. I want you to come with me. And I'll bet Mom was pretty clear about it, too." He realized he wasn't just being kind. He really looked forward to spending more time with Blake.
Blake chuckled. "Oh, yeah! But you'll have to help me figure out what I can take each of them for Christmas."
Adam said he'd give the matter some thought. He hadn't even decided what he'd get his parents yet.
"It's a while yet until Christmas. Don't want you sitting in your lonely apartment from now till then."
"What makes you think I'll be lonely?"
"Oh! Well, I, uh. . ." Adam knew he was blushing.
"Relax, prof. Maybe we can get together before we take off for Westerville. I'll check with you after class later in the week, okay?"
"Sounds good to me. Let's do it!"
*This is the website mentioned above: www.pointfoundation.org
To Be Continued.
Thanks, as always, to Drew, Tinn, and Mickey.
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