Journey to Love
Chapter Twelve: Fourth Of July at Grace House
edited by Cole, Peter and Scott
Preface warning apply
It took an hour to get the low stage set up and the lights and amp cases on it. All that would have to be done Saturday was removing the protective cases from the equipment. Since they had not used amps or any electronics when they played the Halloween party, I asked Chuck about it. He said the Churchville Moonshiners had resisted using amps until they realized they could play outdoors and be heard if they had them.
I commented on the fact that Mr. Moffitt looked pretty old to have a grandson in his teens. Afton laughed. “He'll appreciate that. By the way, I'll be eighteen in a couple of weeks. Granddad is the youngest of the Moonshiners. Mr. Hanger is the oldest. He's sixty-six, granddad's sixty-two. They have played together for years and when granddad retired at sixty-two, they all let their beards grow out and didn't trim them and changed their dress, wanting to look old.”
The men setting up the 'surprise' had worked on the racks and, I guess, finished since they covered everything with blue tarps and left. Those setting up the barbeque had finished and left as well. The Moonshiners had checked out everything and were ready to go. As they were preparing to leave, I invited them to go swimming. Jesse had a date and the Moonshiners said they had to get back as well. “Guess we better go too,” Afton said. “Long walk to Churchville.”
“I can take you,” I said, and the three who remained seemed delighted. Sam invited the three to stay for supper and they called their mothers to get their OK. Sam and Brad headed for the Jeep, holding hands and exchanging kisses. Chuck and Afton kept glancing at them and smiling.
“Do we wear our boxers?” Don asked, slyly.
“If you want to, but we always go skinny-dipping.”
“Hell, yes!” Chuck said, grabbed Afton's junk and the two started stripping. Half a minute later they were in the pond.
I was almost undressed when I noticed Don was not undressing. “Problem?” I asked.
“Kinda,” Don blushed. I saw the tent in his pants and laughed.
“Happens to all of us. Don’t worry about it; none of us will.” I laughed, stripped off my trunks and jumped in the pond. I surfaced just in time to see Don headed for the pond. He was the smallest of the three, but I got a glance of him before he was in the pond and he was packing, really packing.
We stayed in the pond until we were too warm, crawled out and lay in the grass in the late afternoon sun, never bothering to put anything on. I had noticed Chuck and Afton seemed to be more than just friends and cousins and now they lay on their sides, gazing into each other’s eyes, holding hands. “Guys,” Don said in a voice that was clearly a warning and reminder.
“Don't worry about me,” I said quickly. “I have two dads, remember? How long have you two been boyfriends?”
We all four sat up and Afton said, “That's kinda hard to answer. We've lived next door to each other since we were born and have been best friends practically from then, but I guess I admitted I was different when I was thirteen, although I had known it since I was ten or so. I don't know when I fell in love with Chuck. One morning I just woke up knowing it. I was terrified. Chuck was a football hero, had girl's hanging all over him and got laid about as often as he ate. He was obviously straight. I knew I could never tell him how I felt. Besides, there was another guy our age in Churchville who had been caught sucking off a college guy in Harrisonville and he was tortured to the point where he offed himself.”
“Me?” Chuck asked. “It never occurred to me I was different from any other of the jocks I hung with. When I got horny, I got laid. Wham! Bam! Thank you, Ma'am! Must have been OK for the girls because they kept coming back. Then prom night came.”
“Prom night, Chuck and I were double dating,” Afton said. “We had rented a room in Harrisonville and Chuck was going to make sure I got laid. Well, it didn't happen. We were dating sisters and just after we left the prom, Chuck's date got a phone call. Their brother had been drinking before he arrived at the prom and he and his buddy had managed to hide a couple bottles in the ballroom, so they kept drinking. When the prom was over, they left, headed for Harrisonville and ran into the back of a fourteen-wheeler. They were traveling in excess of ninety-five miles an hour. Our dates' brother was driving. He and his date were DOA when the state troopers arrived.”
“That was end of prom night,” Chuck said. “Our dates' parents took the girls home and Afton and I headed home. About half way there, I had to pull over. I was sick. I managed to get out of the car before I upchucked. Afton was right behind me, heaving too. When we had finished, I found a bottle of water so we could wash our mouths and we got back in the car, but just sat there. I realized that I was looking at Afton and having a feeling I had never felt—no, wrong word—had never acknowledged before. Suddenly, I thought of the two dead teenagers and asked what if something happened to Afton. How would I live without him? I burst into tears and cried uncontrollably for almost half an hour. When I finally stopped, I looked at Afton, and saw love in his eyes as I had never seen it before.”
“I was hurting for Chuck, but confused about what was going on until he grabbed me and crushed his lips against mine. 'God, Afton,' he said, 'I never knew I loved you the way I do,' and kissed me again. He certainly had more experience and practice at that than I did . . .”
“But Afton learned fast,” Chuck laughed.
“And we've been practicing ever since.”
“Told anybody, besides Don, I mean?”
“Jess knows. He doesn't accept it, but he's loyal. My mom knows. She came up to get us out of bed a couple weeks after the prom and we had not made sure the door was closed. Afton was lying on top of me and we were practicing Frenching and humping.”
“What did she do?”
“She said we needed to remember rooms had doors and doors have locks and left. Had she sent my dad up to get us out of bed, we'd probably not be here.”
“Neither my mom nor dad would allow me in the house if they knew,” Chuck said.
“How about you, Don? How do you feel about these two?” I asked.
“They're damn lucky,” he smiled, then, getting a pouty look on his face, said, “Hell, I've never even kissed a boy for practice.”
“How about kissing the kid, Derek?” Chuck laughed. “He was tested for hoof and mouth disease last week.”
I blushed and Don said, “Wouldn't mind your having my first kiss.”
“Then come here,” I laughed. It was definitely a first kiss and I was about as poor a kisser as he was. We broke the kiss and all four of us had a good laugh as the combination of the kiss and still being naked had its usual effect. We went back into the pond for fifteen minutes, showered, dressed and headed for the house. On the way I told Chuck and Afton they should tell my dads they were gay and lovers so they could just be themselves—and so could Brad and Sam—and they did. Don and I became close friends for the rest of the summer, exchanged some kisses and jerked off together, but nothing more.
Everything we had to do for the picnic was done except for those things that had to wait until later in the afternoon, so we slept in on Saturday. Sam and Brad were still in their room when I got up, showered, dressed and went downstairs. Brad had been so busy at the Center with the aquatics camp and all the other programs and preparing for the next camp that his and Sam’s time together had become very precious. I hoped they would just enjoy their moments alone in their room this morning since I was planning to fix breakfast.
I was ready to put biscuits in the oven when Sam appeared looking very happy. “You must have had a good night,” I laughed. “You are practically glowing.”
“A very good night and a very good morning, thank you very much! One day, Derek, you'll have a wonderful man loving you and whom you love and you'll know.”
“You know, Dad, we have talked about Brad and his life, but we have never talked very much about yours and how you met Brad.”
“True enough. Well, I grew up in small town Georgia. My mom and dad were both from old, very old, Georgia families. We were, frankly, well off and had been for generations. I was the only boy out of five children, and the baby. Needless to say, I was a pampered brat. My job was to raise hell, but no offspring, until I was married to a nice, virgin, genteel girl and nine months later have an offspring, which had better be a boy to carry on the family name. By the time I was thirteen, I knew I was gay, but was so far back in the closet daylight never reached me. I was a good student—to be otherwise was not accepted, it was a low class thing to be ignorant—good athlete and fucking any girl that would lie down a minute, but, to be honest, I preferred my own hand. I often got physically ill fucking, but managed to hide it.
“Then, my senior year in high school, a new judge was appointed for our area and bought the plantation next to ours. He had a son my age, also a good student, athlete and very popular with both sexes. We got to be good friends and hunted, fished, played sports, went boating, camping—most everything except double date. On a weekend camping trip the summer after we graduated, I asked him about that and he told me he wasn't into girls. I knew I had very strong feelings for him and as we talked, he told me he had the same kind of feelings for me. He kissed me and my world exploded. Over the rest of the summer, we moved from sucking to fucking each other. I guess I should call it lovemaking, but while there was definitely love in the mixture, it was seventy-five percent lust, raw sex. We simply couldn't get enough of each other or at least sex with the other.
“He, too, was an only son and his family was even more Old South than mine. My family expected to be able to approve or disapprove of anyone I brought home to be 'the mother of your children and of your heir' and if they disapproved, I would be expected to try again. His, on the other hand, chose his bride when she had just turned twelve. He had met her from time to time—she was a distant cousin—but did not know her. Beginning in mid-summer, there were parties, picnics, etc. so they could get acquainted. Then, just before we left for college, he was told their engagement would be announced at Christmas. He was, of course, not at all pleased. I was devastated. I still couldn't say I loved the guy, but it was sure the next best thing to it. He, of course, said he felt the same way, but made it clear he would not go against tradition and especially not run the risk of being disinherited.
“When I asked about love, he said, 'Look, Sam, I can get fucked when I need it. I can't have anyone know I like being fucked and live in poverty. Surely you can understand that.' I couldn't. 'Maybe you can understand this, Charlie, I will not be your on-call fucker.' The long and short of it was we split. Since we were headed in different directions, I to Duke, he to Emory, it was easier than it might have been.
“My first semester at Duke was hard and I buckled down and worked. At Christmas most of the parties revolved around Melissa and Charlie's engagement and I was expected to show up. By the time I got back to Durham, I was disgusted over the whole mess and entered what Brad calls my slut period. One-night stands, tea rooms, you name it. At least half the time, I woke in bed with someone whose name I didn't know and didn't care to know, but before many of them left, they either got a morning fuck or I did.
“I had done some pot during high school, I guess most do these days, but I started doing a lot, a lot of alcohol and then discovered cocaine. By spring break, I was a complete wreck. A frat brother Gerald and I had formed some kind of relationship which boiled down to filling in when we had no one to fuck or who wanted to fuck us.
“His family owned a beach house near Cedar Key, Florida, on the Gulf Coast. The house was more or less isolated and would have slept at least two dozen with sofas, screened porches and all. He invited me and three others to join him for spring break. His twin sister was at Salem College and she had invited four of her friends and a guy to come down with her. I expected a week of alcohol, drugs and sex and it definitely started out that way.
“Then Tuesday morning, my world did a major paradigm shift. I woke up in bed with someone I didn't know. In fact, I didn't remember seeing him before. He was damn good looking and when I saw the tent his morning wood was making in the sheet covering him, I decided I wanted him to fuck me, so reached under the sheet and grabbed his cock. A nice one! He opened his eyes and asked, 'Just who the hell gave you permission to touch my dick?' I replied that I thought fucking last night pretty much took care of that. 'And just what makes you think you fucked me or I you last night?' I was thunderstruck! I wake up in bed with a guy and he asks why I thought we had fucked. Turns out, we hadn't.
“‘I’ll tell you what happened,’ he said, ‘as you probably don’t remember much of any of it. The girls had gone into Jacksonville Sunday and weren’t going to be back until late Tuesday. The guys started a drinking marathon. I kept up with them until I reached my limit. I didn’t get drunk, and I don’t do drugs, and I'm not into fucking strangers—too dangerous these days. What I’m trying to say is, you're in bed with me because I was worried about you. You had drunk so much alcohol I feared alcohol poisoning and I knew you had snorted coke earlier. You’d passed out, no one was able to help, the phone line was down and, as you know, cells are useless here. There was a storm outside and I knew there was no way I could get you out of here even if I could find car keys, which I could not. I had to do something, so I stuck my finger down your throat until you puked, then managed to get salt water down so I stuck my finger down your throat until you puked, then managed to get salt water down you so you'd keep puking. When the water coming up looked like the water going down, I kept pouring plain water in you until you kept some of that down. I brought you up here and lay down beside you, frankly, worrying about waking up beside a dead body. You are not only an asshole, you are a stupid asshole, but you know something? There's an Indian belief that when you save someone's life, they belong to you. Well, asshole, you belong to me and I am going to straighten you out or kill you trying.’
“I asked him why he’d done all that, and he said my sister was a great friend and I wasn't going to give her the pain of burying her only brother if he could help it. He sounded as if he meant it. Maybe it was part of the hangover, I don't think so, but anyway, for the first time, I really looked at him, gazed into those brown eyes and, Derek, I fell head over heels in love. I really did. Since that day, my love for him has only grown deeper, but I was in love, really in love, that morning.
“Back in Durham, he showed up at my frat house at 6:30 the first morning we were back, came to my room and, literally, dragged me out of bed and told me to get dressed for a run. Well, it was pretty much a walk and very short. Afterward, he insisted I go to breakfast. That was the pattern until Saturday morning. There had been a big frat party Friday night and I had passed out. He found me lying in my own puke in the middle of my room. He found clothes, put them in a gym bag and marched me across campus in my boxers to his attic apartment. He just dumped me in the shower, turned the water on and left me, slumped at the bottom of the shower. After a bit I was able to get up, strip off my soaked boxers, adjust the water temperature and finish my shower. I walked out of the shower as I had just been born and he tossed me a towel and the gym bag. He had not said a word. I got dressed and we went to breakfast. I mostly had coffee. He then drove me to the frat house and for the first time spoke. 'Get everything you need for next week,' he said. I was really pissed and started to tell him to piss off, but when I looked at him, I knew immediately that would not be wise. I grabbed my laptop, books and what supplies I'd need for the week, filled a second gym bag with clothes, then looked at him. He picked up the book bag, put his hand on my shoulder and marched me toward the door.
By the time I got back to his apartment, I was really pissed and lit into him. He paid no more attention to me than if I had not been there. I was ranting and raving when my sister walked in and yelled over me, 'Shut the fuck up, Asshole.' When I turned to her, I knew at once that was good advice.
“‘Samuel Emanuel Houston, V, you are in deep shit. I've talked to Brad and asked him to straighten out your ass and while he wasn't sure he could or you'd be worth the effort; he's giving you your last chance. Either you get your act together or your ass is going back to Georgia with a note to Samuel Emanuel Houston, IV. I'll leave what the results of that would be to your imagination. Brad has agreed to give it his best shot for a week. At the end of the week, we'll see what's next. Now get your ass in the bedroom, get your clothes put away and get straightened up. You are taking us out to dinner and it'll not be Mickey D's either!’
“The next week I spent in class, preparing for class, running, working out, eating, sleeping and taking care of bodily functions, period. I went to class, came straight home and only left the room to go to the next class, go to the library, gym or whatever, escorted by Brad or Candy. Her name was actually Candler, an old Georgia surname. Neither spoke to me except when absolutely necessary. I was pissed, of course, but I was sober, I was doing well in class and even had hopes of doing well enough on finals to pull down Cs. I was also falling deeper and deeper in love with Brad. Strange, because I was pissed at him too, for the way I was being treated, for the lack of sympathy either of them was showing me. But even resenting the hell out of everything, I was definitely falling more and more in love with the guy.
“I had assumed all along he was gay, but on Friday before my 'trial week' ended Sunday, it suddenly hit me that he might not be and there was no reason to think he gave a shit for me and I realized, since he and Candy were working together on me, they were probably an item. I know it sounds dumb, but I went to the bathroom and wept.
“Sunday was the day of reckoning. Sunday morning, Candy arrived and said, ‘Get dressed for a picnic.’ We spent the day at Falls Lake, hiking, swimming and just having a grand time. We talked about everything. After the week's silent treatment, I was surprised at how easy it was to talk to Brad. Finally, he said, 'Candy, nice that your brother seems up to rejoin the human race. Welcome back, Sam!'
“I looked at Brad and saw a huge smile on his face, his eyes sparkling. Damn, he was beautiful. I smiled back at him and said, 'It's good to be back.’ Man, I was so in love with the guy I could hardly keep from grabbing him and kissing those lips of his.
“Candy looked at me and asked the big question, 'Where do you go from here?’
“I hadn't thought about that. At the first of the week I was so pissed I didn't do any creative thinking and by the end of the week, I was so engaged that I guess I thought things would return to the way they had been before, but when Candy posed the question, I panicked. I knew I didn't want to go back to the booze, the dope, the random, loveless sex. My face must have showed my panic as I answered, barely above a whisper, 'I don't know.' I looked at Candy and then at Brad and saw no answer in either of their faces. 'I don't know. To be honest, I'm afraid that if I go back to the frat house, I'll fall right back into what I was doing before -- booze, dope, sex. I know I really don't want that, but changing is scary. Could we just keep things as they are, well, maybe without the escorts?' I grinned and so it was that I officially moved in with Brad.
“One Friday morning, I realized, as I woke up on the lumpy couch, I had been living with Brad a month. The night before, he’d suggested we look for another bed over the weekend. 'We'll squeeze it in somewhere.' Then, while we were getting ready to head for school, I said, ‘Brad, I'll do supper tonight since I know you have a late class. Do you have any idea when you'll be home?'
“He thought a minute and said, 'It'll be close to 6:30, maybe later. My last class is not over until 5:00 and I have an appointment with the professor afterward, then I have one with the financial officer. I've got to see if I can get more help.' Brad's family had thrown him out and he was pretty much on his own. His adopted grandmother, Miss Grace, gave him a great deal of help, but he took as little as he could. 'How about having supper at seven? That should give me time to shower and wind down after I get in.’ I told him that sounded good to me. Sitting in my second class, I remembered again that I had been living with Brad for a month and decided to make dinner instead of supper to celebrate the 'anniversary'.
“I had always loved cooking and our cook and housekeeper, Miss Hattie, had taught me a lot. My last class for the week ended at noon, so I would have the afternoon to prepare. With that in mind, I went straight to the apartment from class, grabbed a couple of granola bars and a glass of milk and polished them off while I made a list. A look in the cabinet confirmed what I really already knew: most of the stuff in Brad's apartment came from yard sales and student cast offs. With a list in hand, I headed for a place where I could buy what I wanted by the piece and purchased pairs of glasses, wine glasses, plates, cup and saucers, flatware, salad plates, candles and candle holders. I also purchased serving dishes and utensils, a tablecloth and matching napkins. I wanted tonight to be special, to show Brad how much I appreciated what he had done for me. I put my purchases in the car and went to an upscale market where I bought a bottle of good wine, and food for dinner. I had decided to have a green salad with homemade dressing, beef tenderloin roast, Hasselback potatoes, and asparagus parmigiano. There was no debate about dessert. Brad could never have too much chocolate, so I'd do a Death by Chocolate. As I was leaving the market, I noticed a display of fresh flowers and picked up some of them as well.
“Back at the apartment, I started the Death by Chocolate and while it was in the oven, got the roast ready to cook. I cleaned the asparagus, prepared the potatoes, made the salad dressing and washed the greens and put them in the fridge after patting them dry. Dinner was now just a matter of cooking. I then tackled the living area where the table was, cleaning, moving furniture and setting the table. I must confess, it looked lovely. To make a long story shorter, just know everything went smoothly. When Brad arrived, the apartment was filled with wonderful smells and everything was on time. He put down his book bag and headed for the shower. I guess he had noticed I wasn't in my usual sloppy school clothes and when he came out of the bedroom, he was wearing a snow-white button-down shirt and chinos. He sat down in the living room and I brought out a couple glasses of wine, the first alcohol I’d had since he dragged me out of the frat house, drunk. 'I'm sure as hell not objecting, but what's the occasion?' he asked. I reminded him I had been living in the apartment for a month and wanted to show him my appreciation. He looked at me, smiled, and said, 'Thanks.'
“The meal was perfect and I thought he would kiss me when I served the dessert. Guess I was disappointed that he didn't. I had put a CD of very romantic music on the player and as we were relaxing after dinner, Brad suddenly asked, 'Wanta dance?' I grinned at him and said, ‘Sure’. After we danced to a couple songs, we cleared the table and sat on the couch, close together, and talked. Finally, at midnight, Brad said, 'Sam, thanks for a wonderful evening’, kissed me on the cheek and headed for the bedroom. I followed to get the bed linen. As I gathered it up, he looked at me and said, 'You know, you'd be a lot more comfortable sharing my bed.' Without thinking, I responded, 'I'm not sure about that,' and blushed. 'I promise I'll behave,' Brad laughed. That was the first night we shared a bed and, as we told you and DeAngelo, we have shared one every night since unless separated by school or work.”
“Did Brad behave himself?” I asked with a giggle.
“Brad was and is always the perfect gentleman. It was two whole weeks before I got up the courage to kiss him and when I did, he kissed me back. We took things easy and it was several months before we did more than suck each other.”
“Why didn't you wake me, Sam,” Brad asked as he came into the kitchen.
“You just looked too sweet sleeping,” Sam responded, kissing him on the cheek. I put a cup of coffee in front of him. Sam continued speaking, but switched his voice to that of a southern country preacher, “Besides, Brother, I was telling this young sinner how God took you and had you reach down and snatched me from the hands of the devil himself and the eternally burning fires of hell. Amen and amen.”
On that note, I took the biscuits from the oven and served breakfast.
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