Staying Together

Chapter One

Author's Note: This is the long promised sequel to My Jump Off & Staking My Claim. This story contains sex between consenting adult males. If reading such material offends you, close this window. If reading this story and others like it is illegal where you live, write your congressman.


"Dad, do we have to listen to this?" I griped, reaching for his Ipod before he took a swipe at my hand. I let out a loud sigh and crossed my arms, irritated with the way my entire day had gone.

"Phillip, being testy with me isn't going to get your car out of the shop any sooner," my dad lectured me. "I already said you can drive the Pontiac in the meanwhile."

"This sucks," I muttered, prompting my dad to give me a long, pointed stare as we sat at the stoplight, waiting to make a left turn that would take us home. The same stoplight where earlier in the day, my check engine light came on and started to flash. When I tried to go, the car moved, but just barely. I reached a speed of about twenty miles an hour when I knew it was something serious, so I pulled over and called my dad.

Four hours later, we were pulling out of the Chevy dealership without my Malibu. The Triple A guy said it sounded like I lost compression somewhere in my motor, and I wanted to tell him "no shit Sherlock." Instead I stood by and gritted my teeth as I watched him pull my car onto the bed of his tow truck. My dad told him which dealership to drive to, and we followed along.

I'd like to say that having my car break down was the low point of my day, but I'd be lying. Earlier in the day, I found out that the car wash I worked at was laying at least half of its detailers off, and since I was the last one hired, I'd likely be the first one out the door. I showed up for work at 8:30 sharp, which was when I was scheduled to be there, only to be told that I could work two hours, then I had to clock out. On my way home, I was trying to deduct a plan in my head to find a new job when my car flipped out on me, and I knew it just wasn't my day.

Getting around town in my dad's 1988 Pontiac Grand Am isn't exactly my idea of reliable transportation, but it was all I had at the moment. I never understood why my dad loved that car so much. I mean, on the outside, it wasn't beat up or anything, and he kept it polished, so the red paint had a nice, deep finish.

But it was so old, and to make matters worse, whenever I came to a stop, the dashboard started to vibrate, loudly. The fabric on the seats seemed to be deteriorating on its own, if that makes any sense. I could see yellow foam through the thinnest spots, and I was worried about what would happen when I had passengers. Would the fabric tear all the way? Maybe it would just wear down a little more.

The worst part about the Grand Am was that there was an AM/FM stereo with a cassette player in it. Not that the cassette player was of much use to me, anyway, because all my life, I've known it to eat tapes. I asked my dad a few years ago why he never got a new stereo for the Grand Am, and his answer was that he didn't need one.

Of course, that's because my dad's an AM junkie. He loves to listen to talk radio, and any shows he misses are downloaded to his Ipod and he listens later on. It drives my mom crazy when we're riding in the car and he switches the band from FM to AM so he can catch whatever shows he wants to hear, but I just tune it out if I happen to be riding with them.

My dad, Phillip Cassiante II, was born in Spain. My grandparents moved to the United States in the early 1970's, when my dad was just five years old, and he had to learn a new language and attend a school where he felt he didn't fit in. By the time he graduated from high school and joined the Air Force, he learned to resent his heritage and shun his native tongue. I speak fluent Spanish, but it's not allowed to be spoken in our home. "We're American's, and we'll speak English," is what he told me one day when I came home from school and told him "hola."

He met my mother, Christina, while he was stationed in Northern California and they got married right away. At some point, my dad was stationed at Langley Air Force base in Hampton, Virginia, and shortly thereafter, I was born. When I was four, my dad got out of the Air Force and we moved to Virginia Beach, but I don't remember any of that. When I was six, my sister Sabrina was born and we moved again, this time just across town into a brand new house, where we've lived ever since.


"Dude, what the fuck is this?" was the reception I got when I pulled up to my boyfriend Jarred's house in the Pontiac, followed by uproarious laughter that I know he added for effect. Jarred pretty much makes a spectacle out of himself no matter the situation because to him, everything's a joke. I guess I could have made light of the fact that he had no car to speak of himself, but that wouldn't make much sense since he had no driver's license yet either. All of that would change in a month, though, and I shuddered at the thought of Jarred Fedina behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

"Shut up, asshole," I snapped. "I already told you, the Malibu's broke down."

"Man, this thing's not exactly running smoothly," he said as he opened the door and got in. The dashboard was rattling something fierce, and I was in a hurry to get moving so it would quiet down. As soon as he closed his door, he leaned over and gave me a quick peck on the lips, then we were off.

Explaining my relationship with Jarred is hard. On one hand, he drives me up the wall. He's rude, he's thoughtless, he's selfish and he doesn't have a romantic bone on his body. He's even cheated on me. Growing up, I always had an idea of how having a boyfriend was going to be. I pictured flowers, poetry, holding doors open and someone carrying my books home from school. Maybe a phone call at a random time of the day just to tell me that he loved me, or a love letter now and then.

Of course, none of that ever materialized with Jarred. Instead, I got a boyfriend who was who he was, and he wasn't changing for anyone. Which was why at some point over the summer, I lost my patience with it all and cheated on him too.

I found someone that I could pick flowers for, write poems, do more than just hold doors open for and someone who appreciated and deserved random displays of affection that I showed him. Someone I could spend an entire day cuddling with, who didn't ruin our romantic moments by farting or turning the TV on to see what was on. A guy whose idea of tenderness didn't automatically conjure up thoughts of his hand on the back of my head and his dick in my mouth.

Andrew Stout was everything I didn't have in Jarred, and it wasn't long before I was head over heels in love with him. The ironic thing was, if it weren't for Jarred's cheating, Andrew and I would have never met. That's because before I cheated with Andrew, Jarred cheated with him. Of course, at the time, Andrew had no idea that Jarred and I were a couple.

When we first met, I thought he was just some kid Jarred knew from church, because that was what they said. Then, a few months later, we met again at a party and I was instantly taken with him. He had such a sweet smile, and even though he was high as a kite at the time, I could tell that he had a great personality.

The next day I was with Jarred when he called, hysterical. He had a bad fight with his dad that had gone too far, and he didn't want to go home. Cruelly, Jarred didn't want to help him, and that was when I found myself interjecting, eager to do anything to keep him out of a violent situation. When he told us what his dad did to him the night before, my heart broke. Jarred brushed it off like it was nothing, and I couldn't believe it. Of course, now that I know everything, it all makes sense to me, but at the time, I just didn't understand how he could be so blasť about something so serious.

Over the course of the afternoon, Andrew and I got to know each other well enough that I wound up insisting that he come home with me. I introduced him to my parents as a new friend, which was the total truth, then I told them that he'd be spending the night. During the day, we'd hang out with friends or just kick it at my house, and every night for a week, Andrew stayed with me. It was during that week that our relationship really flourished and we discovered that we had feelings for one another. I had an idea that he was gay, but he hadn't confirmed it and I was scared to make the first move. When he finally came out to me, everything we felt for each other came flowing out of us like a swollen river, and we spent the night in each other's arms.

Sometimes, though, the things that seem meant to be, just aren't. I wanted to be Andrew's one and only, and I was for a while. Unfortunately, though, I'm ashamed to admit that he wasn't mine. Because like an addictive drug that coursed through my veins and altered my DNA, I was hooked on Jarred Fedina. I love him more than I can say, and I can't quit him.

I admit that we're bad for each other. We fight, sometimes physically, and we say hurtful things to each other. I constantly remind him of his shortcomings, even the ones he can't help. I know he would die if any of our friends ever found out, but Jarred suffers from mild dyslexia and has a hard time dealing with it. He gets frustrated easily when he's trying to read something, and when we were a lot younger, he had trouble telling time.

One day we were fighting about something, and he called me a name, one I can't even recall anymore, and I viciously brought up his dyslexia. I don't know why I did it, but I did. And it hurt him badly. He just lowered his head and walked out of the room, and of course I instantly regretted it.

There have been other times that we've fought and I've mentioned the fact that his house wasn't as big as mine, and that his mom had to work and mine didn't. I know it's petty as hell, but he has his moments, too. Like tearing up the program from my grandpa's funeral, and saying that my dad's an illegal alien. Of course, the day he crossed the line with me was when he threatened to out me to my parents. I told him that if he ever even said he was going to do something like that again, that I would put him in the hospital.

But then there are the moments when we're together, and he removes all doubt from my mind that we should stay together forever. Like a hypnotist, he puts me in a trance and controls my thoughts and actions. He holds my hand and smiles at me, or he rubs my back instinctively. It might be because he wants me to know he cares, but I think it's because deep down, it's all he knows. When he's touching me, his hands are in their rightful place. Not crudely, either, just in general. Even when we're bickering, we're touching. We're holding hands, or one of us has a hand on the other's shoulder.

The other day, I was in his garage, rebuilding a carburetor with Jarred's dad. Jarred was supposed to be helping, but had gone off somewhere when he lost interest. Right in the middle of what we were doing, he rejoined us and walked up behind me, sliding his hand up the back of my shirt as he rested his head on my shoulder and watched me work. It was a small gesture of affection, to be sure, but it's those small moments that sweep me right off my feet and remind me why I love Jarred the way I do.

And his ability to come up with random ideas out of nowhere that always ends up leading to a good time. This afternoon was no exception, either, because as we were driving my dad's Pontiac to McDonald's for something to eat, he turned and flashed me a smile.

"Let's go camping tonight," he said, and I returned his smile with a grin of my own.

"KOA?" I suggested, and he nodded. "Okay, let's do it."

"You feel like calling the guys?" he asked, and I shook my head no.

"Let's go alone," I said, reaching over and caressing his cheek. Our tender moment was interrupted by the sound of a horn honking, prompting us to look to our right, where a car load of girls were watching us with amused expressions. I didn't recognize any of them from school, so I blatantly motioned for Jarred to lean over, then I planted a wet kiss right on his lips. We both turned and smiled lewdly at our audience, then the light turned green and we took off.


One of my dad's toys as a younger man was a tent trailer. Now, I don't see many around, but I imagine that back in my dad's heyday, it was a regular pussy magnet. When we moved from across town, my dad bought an RV and I inherited the tent trailer by default. I say that because by the time I was seven or eight, I had figured out how to open it up and unfold the tent. Over my mother's objections, my dad let me spend the entire night in the tent, and from then on, it was mine.

When I was eleven, my dad hooked it up to his truck and drove it to the KOA campground, which was less than a mile from our house, for me and my friends to camp out on our own. It was the most exciting time for me, because he actually trusted me enough to let me stay the night on my own. Jarred was there, and so were about three other friends of ours. All of our parents were okay with it, and throughout the night, they took turns checking in on us to make sure we were alright. By the next summer, no one was coming by to check on us anymore and we had free rein.

Luckily, the Pontiac has a trailer hitch on it, and the tent trailer's light. So light, in fact, that I picked it up at the front end and pulled it around to the driveway from the back yard with almost no effort. I let my folks know that I was gonna be at the camp ground that night, and they saw me off with a wave and a "Have a good time."

While I was setting up the tent, Jarred built a fire and unloaded the ice chest he packed. By the time I got the tent set up, Jarred was setting two large tree stumps side by side so we could sit and enjoy the fire. Darkness was just starting to fall, and the glow of the flames was reflecting off of my boyfriend's face, setting off his features magnificently.

I took my place on the stump next to his while he reached down into the cooler and grabbed me a beer. I'd never given any thought about just who goes out and buys Original Coors, but that's what Jarred wound up with. I'm guessing that his dad must drink it, but it seems like a random choice. Everyone I know that drinks Coors, drinks Coors Light. In fact, as I thought back on it, I couldn't remember a time when I ever saw anyone drink an Original Coors.

Once I cracked the beer open and took my first drink, though, I was pleasantly surprised. It went down smoothly, and had a great taste. While we were drinking our beers, I took the initiative and wrapped my arm around Jarred's shoulders, pulling him close to me as the fire raged.

"I love you, babe," I told him softly. With that, I felt him start to nibble on my neck, then he blew lightly into my ear, which drove me crazy. Before I knew it, our legs were tangled up and we were locked in a passionate kiss. When we finally broke it, we smiled at each other dumbly. Just then, I heard a rustling nearby, so we separated and waited as a man, his wife and their three kids walked by our campsite with towels around their necks, obviously on their way back from the pool.

As the night wore on, we each took a few more beers to the head, then we piled into the Pontiac to smoke a bowl of green. Once we ashed it, we moved back out to the fire, where we kissed and cuddled again until the fire started to die down and it was safe to get in the tent.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up to drain my bladder. I opened the tent and got out, walking over to the rear end of the Pontiac. In the middle of my piss, I heard Jarred get out of the tent and follow suit, only he made a point of walking over to the fire pit, where a few embers were still glowing. Once he extinguished what was left of our campfire, we got back in the tent and snuggled up close as we let the crickets and frogs sing us a lullaby.

As I lay there in the crook of Jarred's arm, I gave our relationship a lot of thought. Sometimes it seemed like we were in a doomed relationship, and that as long as we were a couple, we'd never find happiness together. Then I thought about my friendship with Jarred, and what it meant to me before we were dating. Things had changed so much between us in the last year that it didn't seem likely that our friendship would endure any kind of a breakup.

And maybe that was what I feared the most when I thought about leaving Jarred. Because as much as I love him, I know that a life with him will be a life full of compromise. Not the good kind of compromise, either. The kind of compromise where I work and he doesn't. The kind where I keep track of the bills and he overdraws our bank account. The kind where he messes the house up and I clean up after him.

I don't even know what brought all of that on, because we were having a nice evening, just the two of us. But maybe that was what I was scared of facing. A future where it was just me and Jarred. I finally took a long breath and let it out slowly, nuzzling my head into his arm before I settled into a troubled sleep.




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My Jump Off


On The Bank at Gay Authors

If By Chance

What's The Difference Between Me and You?