I wish to retain all rights to this story. However, I am delighted to grant permission to any person to publish this story as long as there is no charge to the reader and as long as no changes are made to the story.

Copyright 2005. All Rights Reserved.


CHAPTER 50 — Thanksgiving

I woke the next morning on my back, to Cutter licking dried cum from my belly. The sheets were down at my pubes, and I wondered if Cutter had nuzzled them down. I cocked one eye open and saw that the black lab was lying beside me, much like he’d been the night before. His head was up and he was licking my stomach with long sweeps of his tongue, tickling me and causing my gut to clench.

I thought about pulling up the sheet, but Cutter was lying on it, and I decided to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’… or was it ‘lay’… never could remember. Dan was on my other side, backed up to me on his side. My arm lay under his neck between his pillow and his shoulder, and I thought about just rolling up to him to escape Cutter’s tongue.

But then Cutter would probably lick my butt crack. He’d certainly done that before. So I thought that getting up might be the better option. The room was bright with mid-morning light, and I wanted to phone home to wish my family a good Thanksgiving.

Carefully, I extracted my arm from under Daniel. When I did, he moaned and rolled toward me onto his back without waking. Stifling a chuckle, I pulled the sheet down to Dan’s pubes so that Cutter could have a clear shot at licking Dan’s and my cum from Dan’s belly. And then I headed for the bathroom.

I had just finished brushing my teeth and was running hot water for the shower when Dan stumbled in. He wrapped his arms around my waist from behind, and I felt his cock and balls drape my butt. Dan laid his forehead on the back of my head, and his long, soft hair brushed the back of my neck. “Mornin’ Seany,” he mumbled.

“Morning, Danny,” I said, reaching back to pat his butt. “You’re just in time for a shower.”

Dan chuckled. “I know you. You haven’t pissed yet, have you? You’d just love for me to step in so you can piss on us in the shower.”

I smiled and rubbed the back of his forearms at my waist. “You can piss on us too. Shower with me.”

Dan nodded against the back of my head and I walked us into the showers with him holding me from behind. But once in, I turned in his arms and held him, and when he rested his sleepy head on my shoulder, I rested mine on his.

We interlaced legs and relaxed against each other. Then I felt the warmth of his morning piss flow down my leg just as I released mine. “Umm,” I murmured. “If this doesn’t prove we were made for each other, I don’t know what does.”

Dan chuckled. “I can think of a few things.”

Without stepping from our relaxed embrace or even lifting my head from his shoulder, I grabbed a bar of soap and began lazily rubbing it on his back.

“See,” Dan murmured. “There’s another.”

. . . . .

Mom answered.

“Hi Mom,” I said. “Happy Thanksgiving!”

“Happy Thanksgiving, Sean,” she said.

“How are you?” she asked. “Are you having a good Thanksgiving?”

“Yeah, Mom,” I said, surprised at her friendly tone. “I am. Mrs. Reese is fixing a big, turkey dinner and the whole house smells terrific.”

Mom was quiet for a moment. “Our house smells good too, Sean. We miss you.”

“I miss you guys,” I said. And that was truthful enough. It was my first Thanksgiving away from home, and I had thought about them earlier; how they’d be watching the parade on TV while Mom worked on Thanksgiving dinner, and how Dad and Colin would be lying in the living room after dinner, watching the holiday football games without me for the first time ever. I sighed. “I do miss you guys.”

It was the best talk I’d had with Mom since Dan outed us, and it was half an hour before she passed me on to Dad.

“How are you, son?” Dad asked.

“Good, Dad. And you?”

“We’re doing well. We miss you. Thanksgiving seems a little strange this year without you.”

“Yeah. I miss being there. I think even Mom might miss me a little. We had a good talk for a change.”

“I’ve told you all along that you just needed to give her some time, Sean. We all miss having you around. I imagine it’s really come home to your mom that you’ve probably left home for good.”

I started to say that I hadn’t, because I didn’t like the idea that I’d never live at home again. But it was true. Married to Dan, I probably never would. “At least I’ll be home for a few days at Christmas,” I pointed out.

“Have you decided where you will do your ear piercing?” Dad asked.

“Here in Houston,” I said. “I think Mary wants to plan a big party. You and Colin are still coming, right?”

“I am. Dad said. And Sean, your mom might even come.”

“Why did you say ‘I am?’ What about Col… Mom might come?”

“She’s thinking about it.”

I was speechless.

“And, Sean,” Dad said. “Would you mind a suggestion from your dad for something at your ear piercing?”

“No,” I answered cautiously.

“It’s just… I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what you and Dan are planning. As you can imagine; I’ve had to sort through a few things about how I feel about it all, and well… I remembered the story of Ruth and Naomi. As you know, they had one of two or three really remarkable friendships in the Bible. Ruth’s level of commitment to Naomi was no less than what you and Dan are considering, and her pledge to Naomi is one that people sometimes recite at weddings. I think it could be even more appropriate at your ear piercing. Do you remember it?”

“I’m not sure.”

“May I read it to you?”

I wasn’t usually a big fan of Dad reading scripture to me, but I thought I knew where he was going. “Sure.”

It took a moment for him to get his Bible and then find the passage he wanted. “Here it is,” he began, and then he read how Naomi’s husband died, and then her two sons died, leaving her with only her two daughters-in-law, one of whom was Ruth. They loved Naomi, and when she urged them to return home as she prepared to return to her homeland, they refused. Eventually one daughter-in-law did leave, but not Ruth.

“Here’s the quote,” Dad said. “But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.”

When Dad finished, my eyes were watering; not because the passage was beautiful — it was. But there were tears in my eyes because I knew for certain then, that Dad understood Dan and me. He really understood.

. . . . .

The last time I had talked to Colin on the phone was not long after his football team had made it to the regional playoffs before losing. As long as we had talked about football, he had sounded fine, but other than that, he didn’t seem to want to talk at all. And when Colin answered the phone this time, it was more of the same.

After barely saying ‘hello,’ he said he had to go. “Mom’s got dinner ready.”

“Colin,” I asked, “is everything OK?”

After the briefest of hesitations, he answered. “Sure.”

“It’s just that you haven’t been very talkative lately.”

“I’m fine, Sean. Really. I’m fine.”

“Colin,” I said. “I miss you. I miss you a lot. And I love you, dude; you know that.”

A warmth came back into Colin’s voice. “I love you, too, Sean, and I miss you as much as you miss me. There’ve been plenty of times lately that I wished you were down here.”

“Like when?” I asked.

He hesitated a moment. “Later maybe. I really need to go. Mom’s putting the food on the table.”

. . . . .

I was more than a little puzzled as I rejoined the Reeses. They wouldn’t be ready to eat for another hour, and so I pulled Dan to one side to tell him about my phone conversations.

“So suddenly your mom’s thinking about coming to the ceremony and Colin’s not talking to you. What do you think’s going on?”

I shrugged. “I don’t have any idea. But I don’t have a good feeling about it. I wonder if something’s happened. I wonder if Colin’s OK.”

Dan rubbed the back of my neck. “Colin will tell you if anything important happens.”

“I wonder… do you think he’d tell me if he got Heather pregnant?”

Dan frowned. “Probably. But if he did get her pregnant, that would hardly be something that’d put your mom in the mood to come to our ceremony.”

“Maybe that’s something different. Maybe Colin hasn’t told them.”

“Told them what?” Dan asked. “You don’t know that anything’s happened.”

“Something has happened,” I said.

Dan leaned his forehead to the side of mine. “It can’t be anything that serious. If you’re really worried, phone Colin again later. Make him tell you if something’s up.”

I nodded. “Yeah. Maybe I will.”

. . . . .

Mary set the meal in their formal dining room and had the table looking like something from a magazine. I thought of my family back home, probably sitting around the kitchen table.

Dad always had a special prayer at Thanksgiving; one where he thanked God for what usually seemed like every, little thing that had happened the previous year. It always drove us kids crazy to sit at a table, spread with an incredible feast, and have to wait patiently through all that. But what was really funny was that today, I missed that. The Reeses started their Thanksgiving dinner by simply saying one or two things they were thankful for. Dan and I, sitting across from each other, didn’t get much past being thankful for each other.

Somehow, it seemed to me that being thankful to somebody was important. I didn’t make a practice of talking to God. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I had, or even if I believed in God anymore. But as we sat there after saying what we were so thankful for, quietly in my heart, I told God how grateful I was for Dan and I hoped that didn’t offend him. And I thanked him for Colin and asked God to take care of him and not let anything be wrong at home.

Almost immediately, Mary wanted to launch into plans for the “ceremony.” She seemed pleased to be able to plan something that was at least a little like a wedding, and yet have the freedom to plan things differently for something as unique as an ear piercing allowed.

The first thing was to establish where the piercing would take place because that could set the tone. “After all,” she said, “you would have one type of ceremony in a formal dining room and a completely different kind if your ceremony was outside, like at a park.”

“Inside,” Dan said immediately. “It could be cold out at Christmas.”

“Outdoors does suit us, though,” I said.

Dan grinned. “Naked would suit us.”

Mary gasped. “Don’t you even think of trying a nude ceremony!”

We all laughed at that one, and I had trouble stopping. Roger eyed me as I struggled to become serious again, only to break into new guffaws.

“What it is,” Dan explained to Roger, “is that Seany has a mental picture of all you old folks in the buff, trying to act formal.”

“And…” I gasped. “The look on my….” I tried a deep breath. “On my mom’s face… if… we told her…” I broke up again.

“To come naked?” Dan finished.

I nodded.

. . . . .

After we agreed to let Roger and Mary foot the bill for our ceremony, it only seemed right to go along with Mary’s idea of using their country club as the location and the Friday after Christmas as the date. Roger thought he could explain the nature of the proceedings to the management without them freaking; and Mary particularly liked a room the club had with large glass doors to a balcony which overlooked a large water trap and pine-lined fairways. “Even though you’ll be indoors,” she pointed out, “you’ll have a wonderful view outdoors.”

We settled on a guest list of about two dozen and left up to Mary the choice of food. We agreed that there would be dancing, but no guys dancing together until after my mom and dad left. And mainly to satisfy Mary, we agreed that attire would be formal for the wedding (we didn’t call it that) party.

Next, we agreed that our dads and Colin would stand with us. “Or be our seconds,” Dan said with a smirk. “Like a duel. To hold either of us down if we balk at getting stuck.”

I cocked an eyebrow at Dan and he realized the double meaning I had gotten out of that remark. He stifled a laugh.

Then when Mary found out that my mom was actually considering coming to the ceremony, she said she would call Mom that next week so the moms could plan to be the hostesses of the event.

“How about afterward?” Roger asked. “You’ll have a couple of weeks before you have to be back at school.”

“We haven’t really talked about it,” I said, “other than maybe going camping. Maybe tour state parks.”

“I had an idea,” Dan said quietly. The rest of us turned his way. “I was just thinking… well… Sean has a friend in San Antonio – the guy we did the landscaping work for –anyway, the guy has a room available for rent and I thought maybe Sean and I could set up there after Christmas and I could commute to UT this coming semester.”

My heart skipped a beat. What an idea!

“From San Antonio?” Roger asked with a deep frown.

“It’s not that far,” Dan said.

“From down by Trinity,” Roger said, shaking his head, “all the way up to UT. No matter how you go – up 281 or 35 – you’re looking at an hour and a half to two hours each way.”

“Not the way I drive,” Dan said.

That only deepened Roger’s frown.

“Dad,” Dan said. “If Sean and I were a regular married couple, you wouldn’t dream of keeping us apart; not with our schools as close as they are.”

Roger shook his head. “We’re only talking about a few months; one semester, Daniel. I don’t like the idea of you commuting all that way, every day, especially in winter.”

“Not every day; just weekdays,” Dan said.

Roger and Mary rarely said no to Daniel, but I had a feeling that Dan would have a hard time swaying Roger on this one. Mary at least looked sympathetic.

“Exactly,” Roger said. “You’ll still be able to see each other on weekends. I’m sorry Daniel, it’s not a good idea.”

“I’m eighteen, Dad,” Daniel reminded. “And Sean and I are going to be married, no matter what we call it.”

“And we’re paying the bills,” Roger reminded back. “I’m just not comfortable with you trying to keep up your studies with that kind of commute.”

Dan stood impatiently from the table and started to leave the room.

“Dan, come back,” Mary called.

“I’m just going to the bathroom,” Dan said.

“He’s letting himself cool down,” I explained after Daniel was gone, smiling apologetically. “It’s really hard for us, sometimes, being apart.”

Roger nodded. “I understand, but we aren’t talking about that long a time, Sean, and many, many other couples have done it.”

“Gay couples?” I asked.

Roger leaned back and looked at me, considering.

“It’s different for us,” I explained quietly. I glanced at Mary, unsure of how frankly I could speak to the two of them.

Roger saw the glance. “Be honest, Sean,” he said. “Don’t assume that I know much about what you two face simply because I’m a psychologist. Mary and I,” he glanced at her. “We want to understand.”

With another glance of my own toward Mary, I took a deep breath and decided to give it my best shot. “Look,” I said, “gay sex is damned easy to come by when you know where to look; easier than straight sex. Dan and I could be out with other guys all the time; it’s that easy. But we don’t; we hold back. I don’t mean that we don’t do anything with other guys. We each have one or two special friends…”

Roger frowned and Mary looked confused.

“It’s hard to explain,” I said. “But with us being apart so much, it’s what works. You see, with us being apart and there being so much opportunity out there, sooner or later we’d give in to some of those opportunities. If Dan and I were to break up because one of us had been with another guy, we would have broken up within weeks of ever getting together. Instead, we’ve made choices to stick together no matter what.”

“That’s not what a marriage is,” Roger said quietly.

I noticed Dan standing in the doorway, watching. “Look,” I told Roger. “I don’t know how romantic our love sounds to you. I just know how strong our love is. We aren’t like a straight couple, Roger. The rules are different. Hell, I’m not even sure how much we’re like other gay couples. I just know that I love Dan more than my own life, and I want to be with him; to always be with him. Maybe when we can finally live together, we won’t need anyone else. I can tell you that anytime we’re together these days, we’re really happy. And when we’re apart, we miss each other more than you can imagine.”

Roger studied me. “Do you worry that Dan will meet somebody else?”

I glanced at Dan. “I don’t know,” I admitted. “In the past I did, but now…”

Dan returned to the table, and Roger confronted him. “How about you, Daniel? Do you worry that Sean will meet somebody else.”

Dan looked me in the eye. “Sean falls in love pretty easy. He just loves people; especially someone he’s… been with. That’s just who he is.” Then Dan shook his head. “But it’s different with Sean and me. It will always be different with us.”

Roger’s brow creased and he shook his head slowly. “It’s not just how Sean is,” he said. “Physical intimacy is meant to bind people together. That’s how we evolved; the species required it. You see, lifelong parental pair-bonding is necessary for the raising of children who require years to reach maturity. Sex evolved in support of that and involves powerful emotions; emotions that tie people together. You both should worry if each of you is having sex with other people.”

“You’re not sounding much like a behaviorist,” Dan pointed out with a smirk.

“And our relationship is so much more than that,” I said. “It’s much more than sex. Maybe for gay couples it has to be.” Then I had an idea. “Do you have a Bible?” I asked.

Roger rocked back in surprise.

“I’ll get it,” Dan said.

“I think my dad understands us,” I explained. “He suggested a passage to me today for our ceremony.”

Dan brought in the Bible, and I found the passage and read it to them… well actually, I read it to Dan, putting my own commitment into the words. When I looked up, Dan’s eyes were damp, and that didn’t happen very often.

I turned to Roger. “What Ruth said had nothing to do with sex,” I said. “But everything to do with love. And that’s the kind of love Dan and I have… along with the… the… intimacy we have in bed.”

Roger reflected, and then nodded and glanced at Mary for confirmation. “We can understand that,” he said. “But don’t be foolish Sean – you either Daniel. Sex is incredibly powerful. Always keep in mind how sex works. Between two people – only two people – it binds; it ties together. But sex with many partners can dissolve those bonds.”

Dan glanced at me, and like him, I was thinking about many things.

“Well,” Mary said brightly. “Anybody ready for pumpkin or pecan pie?”

. . . . .

We didn’t talk any more about renting Lenny’s spare room that afternoon. After dinner, we cleared off the dishes, and then Mary chased us from the kitchen and out to the den to watch the Cowboys game.

When I lay down on their long, overstuffed couch, Dan grabbed a throw blanket and crawled in behind me, spooning me. I shot a worried glance at Roger, who made a point of keeping his eyes on the TV.

Dan put an arm over my waist and snuggled in behind me under the blanket. Before long, Roger fell asleep in his chair. Dan meanwhile, pulled up the front of my shirt and rubbed on my belly. I could feel his lips on the back of my neck and his growing erection against my butt.

“Let’s go watch the game in our room,” Dan whispered.

I twisted back and smiled. “I was starting to worry,” I whispered quietly, “that you were going to try something here.”

He grinned. “I thought about it.”

After elbowing him gently in the gut, I got up and took his hand to lead him to the bedroom.

Dan turned on the TV and found the game. “Lie down, Seany,” he said, pushing me toward the bed.

I eyed him suspiciously.

“Seriously,” he said. “Just lie down and enjoy the game.” He pushed me gently onto the bed and I turned on my side where I actually could watch the game, but I expected him to spoon me and have my pants down before long.

Instead, he sat behind me, the side of his hip against the small of my back. He reached under my shirt and rubbed my belly. “Does that feel good?” he asked.

I nodded.

Leaning over me, he smoothed back my hair and his eyes roamed my face. “I’m not sure why, Seany, but I’m sure feeling a lot of love for you right now.”

“All the wedding plans,” I suggested. “And talking about living together.”

“Maybe,” he said. “That Bible verse was cool, by the way.”

I nodded. “Sorta fits.”

Dan smiled. “I like feeling a lot of love for you.” He bent down over me and kissed my lips gently. “You enjoy the game,” he said quietly.” Let me enjoy your body.” Dan’s eyes dropped to my chest, and he slid his hand farther up under my shirt to firmly caress my pecs. “Damn I love your body!”

He slipped his other hand under the back of my shirt, feeling the muscles of my back. His hands soothed me, though that wasn’t what he had in mind. Dan was doing what I sometimes did with my hands when I was simply admiring his body.

Moving back, Dan bent and placed his mouth on the hollow above my hip, just above the waistbands of my briefs and shorts. Then pushing my shirt up as he went, he nibbled up my side, taking little nips as he went. I sucked in my gut as he drew his fingers down my belly and over the bumps of my abs. He pushed my shirt even higher and I leaned up long enough for him to pull it off.

I lay back down on my side, and Dan spent several minutes exploring every seam of every muscle in my torso with his fingers and lips. He lifted my arm and held his nose to my armpit, taking several deep breaths. He pushed my shoulder forward and slowly drew his tongue in a line from the back of my shoulder to the back of my neck. He chewed there, and then down between my shoulders while squeezing the muscles of my arm and side.

The Cowboys scored to pull ahead in the game, but I barely noticed. What Dan was doing, completely relaxed me.

He rolled me to my back, and spent time sucking on my belly and chest. As he moved, his soft hair brushed lightly across my skin. When he leaned forward and sucked at the nape of my neck, the scent of his hair filled my nostrils. At the same time, he nuzzled in, breathing deeply of the scent of my hair.

I moaned softly and Dan lifted his head. His gaze traveled slowly over my features, measuring… appraising… remembering. His eyes rested on my lips and he slowly touched his to mine. Then he resumed his surveying, southward, down my chest and stomach once more.

He unfastened my shorts and tugged them down. I lifted my hips and he pulled my shorts and briefs off. Then he turned me onto my stomach and trailed his fingers slowly down the muscles along my spine and onto my butt; then down the back of my thighs.

He caressed, he kneaded, and he kissed. He lowered his face to the back of my thighs and took long sniffs between my legs while squeezing and feeling the backs of my legs.

I felt his cheek as he laid his head on my butt. He blew on the little, gold body hairs that fanned out at the top my butt and then he kissed me, right at the top of my butt crack.

“What happens,” I asked softly, “when we get old? What will you do when I get an old man’s butt?”

He slid up over me, laying his body on mine, and placed his mouth at my ear. “By then,” he whispered, “we will have made love a few thousand more times and I will have fallen in love, even with your wrinkles.”

“I’m not going to get wrinkles,” I protested.

He laughed and wrapped his arms under my chest. “Seany,” he said. “I’m always going to love you, wrinkles or no wrinkles, butt or no butt. But I bet you’re one of those guys that gets more and more handsome as he gets older.”

“Hmmph!” I mumbled.

He laughed and rose off me, drawing his hands down my side and his lips down my spine. He rolled me onto my back, and then knelt beside me, looking slowly up and down my body. He pulled off his shirt and then stood to step out of his pants and underwear.

I watched his cock spring free. His erection wagged for a second after his pants dropped. Then he leaned over my legs and slid his hands up over them, spending extra time on my thighs; my runner turned swimmer thighs. Then with a hand inside each of my knees, he spread them, kneeling up on the bed between my legs.

He pushed my knees out wide and pressed them down on the bed, stretching me. He paused, gazing down at my naked crotch, and I grew hard. He watched as my cock first rolled to the side and then straightened up my belly. He bent down and buried his face between my legs, and nuzzled under my balls.

Having long forgotten the football game on TV, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the pleasures Dan was taking.

It was later when he lay on his side at my bottom and lifted my legs over his side. The lube was on the nightstand, but it better suited the mood for Dan to simply use his spit to lube us. He felt hard and thick when he pressed in, and I was glad for the momentary discomfort, the little bit of pain. It focused me; it made it real, and it cost me something that I could give to Dan.

He bent at the waist to hug my torso. Our legs got twisted with one of my legs clutched between his. My shoulders were flat on the bed, and one of his arms was under my back. He slid his other hand from my waist to between my legs.

Dan sucked my nipple and rolled my scrotum in his fingers. “Tell me if I get you too close,” he whispered and then closed his hand around the base of my shaft.

I covered the end of my cock with my hand when I came so that I wouldn’t shoot all over myself or onto the sheets, and my cum pooled in the midseam between my abs. When Dan pulled out and moved up over me, he lay down on me, and my cum spread between our bellies.

His blue eyes looked down into mine, and his pale hair hung about our faces. He kissed me, and then wrapped his arms behind my neck and pressed his cheek to mine.

I felt him relax, and I reached for a corner of the covers, pulling them over us the best I could. Under them, I stroked Dan’s back until I was sure he was asleep, and then I dozed off as well.

. . . . .

The door opened and Cutter bounded into the room.

“Shit! I’m too late,” a young, male voice said. “I was hoping I’d catch you in the act.”

I opened one eye.

“Hi Scott,” Dan mumbled into my neck.

“Nice,” Scott said, catching my eye. He was in canvas pants and an old, wool sweater. His brown hair was gathered at the back of his neck and hung down to the middle of his back. I couldn’t decide whether it needed washing or simply had a healthy sheen, and it was hard to tell whether he had started a beard or simply hadn’t shaved for a couple of days. I always liked that about Scott; he was natural. Well that, and tall and good looking.

He sat down close to my side, opposite to Dan, and he bent to kiss my cheek. “Hi, Sean Sullivan,” he said quietly. “You look good in bed.” He lifted the edge of the covers from our middle and looked underneath. “You both do.”

Cutter jumped up onto the bed on Dan’s other side, and Dan rolled off me and onto his back to hold Cutter back. When he did, he took the covers with him.

Scott grinned down the length of my body as I unsuccessfully tried to grab back some cover. I started to roll toward Dan, but Scott stopped me with a hand to my shoulder. He pushed me firmly onto my back, and chuckling, drew a fingertip down my still-damp belly. “You need a washrag. I’ll get one.”

Well, it wasn’t like he hadn’t seen me before. I put my hands behind my head, relaxed, and waited until Scott returned from the bathroom with a warm washrag. He sat down beside me again and gently cleaned my belly.

“So how’s school here,” Dan asked. “You like good ol’ U of H?” Cutter had settled down beside Dan who now lay on his back beside me.

Scott leaned across my middle and lifted the cover from Dan’s middle, taking the washcloth to him next. “I like it,” he said. “Your dad likes it. How’s UT? How’s Trinity?”

We talked for while, and it seemed funny to me; the three of us talking as if Dan and I weren’t naked, and Scott wasn’t lying across the top of our bare legs.

The door opened again and three guys walked in, led by Robert, whose black hair looked thicker and whose body looked lankier than the last time I saw him. He saw us and grinned broadly.

Scott sat up, and Dan and I scrambled to pull the covers over our middles. “Doesn’t anybody in Houston ever knock?” I asked.

“We’ve gotta start locking the door,” Dan said with a groan.

“Hey,” Robert said, “your mom sent us back.”

The next guy to walk in after Robert was on the short side of medium in height with a thick shag of red hair, almost the same dark shade as Colin’s. His black wool slacks hugged his narrow hips and mounded butt, but hung loosely down his legs. His long-sleeved black sweater-shirt snugly fitted his compact torso.

Dan’s eyes went immediately to the red-headed guy. Mine went to the guy behind him; a tall, extremely thin blond with wet-looking, short hair, a short leather jacket, and jeans with a very full-looking pouch. He had a long neck, high trapz, and a young face; a boy’s face. Despite his height, he looked to be no older than Ry.

I think what caught my attention was that he looked shy, and maybe a little sad. Our eyes met and he looked away, then back. He smiled shyly and looked away again.

Dan and I sat up, scooting back to the headboard while pulling the covers over us from the waist down. Robert sat down on the bed, opposite Scott while the redhead explored the room, stopping to examine himself in a mirror, and the blond stood at the foot of the bed.

Dan watched the redhead, I watched the blond, and Robert introduced everyone around. Walter was the redhead and he looked as self-confident as Benjamin, the blond, looked shy. None of them acted like it was at all strange to walk in on two guys naked in bed. So we didn’t either.

That’s not to say that they didn’t frequently glance at our bodies, and Robert gave Daniel’s thigh a friendly rub through the covers. “We’re delivering invitations,” Robert said.

“To what?” Dan asked, laying his hand on Robert’s to keep it from moving higher up his thigh.

“A party, what else?” Robert asked with a grin, leaving his hand on Dan’s thigh and giving it a squeeze. “But a different kind of party.”

“All your parties are the same kind,” Scott said, stretching out beside my legs and propping himself on his elbow next to my lap.

“You like ‘em,” Robert said, simply. “But this one is going to be different, it’s gonna be a baths masquerade.”

“A what?” I asked.

Robert wriggled his eyebrows at me. “Haven’t you ever heard of gay baths?”

“I’ve heard about them,” I said, defensively. Lenny had mentioned them, but only as some place he’d never go.

“Ah, but you’ve never been to one, right? And certainly not a good one; there aren’t any in Texas.”

“Yeah, and now you’re going to tell us how great California is,” Scott said.

“And Stanford, of course.” Dan said with a grin.

“Of course,” Robert agreed. “Best school in the country.”

“Give us a break,” Scott said. “You only went there because it’s next door to San Francisco.”

And it’s the best school in the country.”

“How’s San Francisco?” I asked, with a glance at redheaded Walter who was still preening himself in the mirror.

“Absolutely, fuckin’ incredible!” Robert said. “The whole place is gay. You can get picked up, just walkin’ down the street.” He winked. “Believe me.”

“Spending a lot of time on the street are we?” Scott asked.

“Catty, are we?” Robert answered with a frown.

Scott shrugged, and slipped his hand under the blanket to touch a finger to the side of my thigh.

“Anyway,” Robert continued, “besides great clubs and bars, San Francisco has incredible baths. I’ve been to two with buddies of mine. You wouldn’t believe…” Robert kicked off his shoes and scooted closer to Dan, pulling his legs up into a lotus position and leaning closer, warming to his topic.

“You wouldn’t believe these places. When you check in, they give you a locker and a towel, or you can rent your own little room. And then you walk around in just a towel. And there are dozens… and I do mean dozens of great looking guys, all horny and all walking around in only towels… or carrying them over their shoulders. Guys are everywhere, cruising each other, having sex or taking each other back to their rooms. I mean… these places are big. Like one has four floors. Down in the basement, they have a pool, a big hot tub, sauna, and a steam labyrinth with lots of little tunnels and nooks, and oh… a snack bar. The second floor is where you check in, and they’ve got lockers and private rooms, a room with some couches and a TV showing porn.”

Benjamin sat down on the end of the bed close to my feet, watching Robert, but he knew I was watching him. He wasn’t beautiful. Yet, he wasn’t ugly. He was tall and thin, the same way a newborn fawn is tall and thin. He seemed vulnerable, and then it hit me. He reminded me of Trevor and maybe even Colin; the last possible people I’d want under the influence of someone like Robert.

“On the next floor,” Robert continued, there’s a weight room where guys work out in jocks or even naked. In a back corner, they have a little dance floor where guys dance in towels or naked. There’s a maze with lots of corners where guys make out and have sex. And there are a couple of black rooms, where you have to crouch to crawl through a small opening, and once you’re inside, it’s like pitch black and all sorts of things go on in there. And then on the top floor there’s a room with a rear projection screen showing porn, and pillows and cushions scattered all over the floor. There’s a room with a bunch of couches and there’ll be some guys relaxing and some guys talking and some guys sleeping and some guys screwing – if you fall asleep there, you can expect to wake up with someone sucking your cock or feeling you up.”

“And in the back of that top floor,” he said, leaning closer over Dan and me, is another little maze and then the orgy room. It’s a big, round room with a seat all the way around on the wall and in the middle is a big, raised, round platform. And there are guys all over, having sex. There are even lines of guys lining up to fuck a guy or for some guy to suck them off.”

“It sounds gross,” Scott said, earning another frown from Robert.

“Aw fuck you, Scott. I’ve seen you at parties. This isn’t that much different… although,” Robert said, sitting back, “some of it is a little raunchy and every once in a while, some chub or old guy follows you around. But” he quickly added, “just about all the guys are pretty hot – I mean, all you’re wearing is a towel; if you’re ugly, it’s pretty obvious. And like, I never did the sex out in public thing. I always took guys back to my room with me or went with them to their room.”

Walter came to stand beside Robert and gazed at Dan’s and my bare torsos.

“So what’s a baths masquerade?” Dan asked Robert, his eyes on the redhead.

Robert grinned. “I started planning it as soon as I found out my parents were going to be in Europe over Thanksgiving. They tried to get me to fly over to join them, but I told them no way, I only had a four-day break. But what I really wanted was the house.”

“Dude, you should have come here for Thanksgiving dinner,” Dan chided.

Robert shook his head. “Dude, I’ve been working on setting up for the party since I got home. This is going to be awesomely cool and my house is perfect.”

Dan leaned my way. “His folks’ new house is huge.”

“And,” Robert said, “I’m setting it up like the baths. The pool will be too cold, but we have a big hot tub, and a great sauna. We’ve got a big screen TV, a game room, a workout room… we’ve got lots of rooms. I’m even setting up a black room in an empty, walk-in closet. We’re inviting like, thirty of Houston’s hottest young studs and only giving them towels to wear. And, everybody will wear masks so it’ll be sorta anonymous; like the baths… besides, masks are sexy.”

Robert leaned back and patted Benjamin’s leg. “These guys have been helping me.”

Not if Walter gets close to a mirror, I thought.

“With an occasional break, of course,” Robert said with a wink at Benjamin and a squeeze of his leg.

“When’s the party?” Dan asked.

“Tomorrow night; eight o’clock,” Robert answered. “And I don’t have my mom’s maids coming until Monday after we’re gone.”

“You have enough towels?” I asked.

“Buying more tomorrow,” Robert said. “And I brought the masks with me.”

Walter nudged Robert’s shoulder with a knuckle. “Yeah, yeah,” Robert said, his brow furrowing. “I promised Walter we wouldn’t take long. He wants to see some ice skating special on TV later.” Robert leaned forward, confidentially. “Walter’s an ice skater,” Robert said with an I’m-doing-an-ice-skater grin.

Then Robert leaned back to look at Walter. “Hey dude, wouldn’t you like to stay a little longer and have a pre-party party with these guys?” Without warning, he gave a little tug to the covers and pulled them down Dan’s and my legs.

Walter’s eyes went immediately to our crotches. I glanced at Benjamin as I pulled the covers back up. His eyes had dropped to my crotch and he wore a slight smile.

“We’ve already had our little party earlier, Dude.” Dan said. Swinging his legs over Robert, Dan got up from the bed. He bent to grab a pair of shorts off the floor; my shorts, and he tossed them to me. Then he pulled on his; no underwear, just shorts. They all watched.

I tossed the covers off and pulled on my shorts; and everyone watched me. Rather than climb over Scott, I scooted off the end of the bed and stood up beside Benjamin. He was close to my height; his eyes appraised my chest and shoulders.

I had a perverse urge and acted on it, grabbing my black onyx necklace off the nearby dresser. “Would you fasten this on for me?” I asked Benjamin, holding the middle of the necklace to the front of my neck and turning my back to him.

“Oh-ho!” Robert said. “Looks like Sean likes my blond boy,” as I felt the light touch of Benjamin’s fingers on the back of my neck and his warm breath on my shoulders. He paused.

“Ignore him,” I said, pissed at Robert’s crudeness; especially since he was right. “I do like you, but I have a lover.” I glanced at Dan who had raised an eyebrow at me.

Dan strode over to the dresser, grabbed his necklace, and with a meaningful glance at me, strode back to Walter and asked him to fasten it on for him.

“Hey,” Robert said, “maybe you guys want to come to my house tonight. You can help and we can do a little partying early.”

“No,” Dan was the first to say. “We already told my folks we’d be around tonight.”

“But you are coming tomorrow night?” Robert said, more than asked.

Dan glanced at me. I gave a little shrug.

“We’ll talk it over,” Dan said. “Another department head from UH is having a party. Roger and Mary wanted us to come by for a while so they can show us off. It’d have to be after that.”

“Just come,” Robert said, impatiently, rising from the bed. “There’ll never be another party like it. I promise you that.” He glanced at Scott. “You’re invited too, mountain man. Try to shave and shower first.”

Scott got up from the bed as well. “Thanks, Robert. If these guys come, I probably will.” He said it, almost as a warning.

“They’ll come,” Robert said, looking at me. He gave a quick, suggestive flick of his eyes in Benjamin’s direction and smiled. “They’ll come.”

I was tempted to tell him to fuck off, but didn’t.

Robert started for the door; Walter followed, and with a shy glance in my direction, Benjamin followed him.

I didn’t see my shirt flying from Dan until it was in my face. I grabbed it and saw that Dan was already pulling his on as he followed the others out. I pulled mine on and while my arms were still up, Scott grabbed the sides of my bare waist and stepped in close from behind. “If you guys go to that party,” he whispered behind my ear, “the three of us are going to find our own dark room.

. . . . .

That night, we ate leftovers and played Bridge with Roger and Mary. Roger and I were partners after the fourth rubber. When I bid a piece-of-cake grand slam in spades and made Roger dummy, he left the table to make coffee and bring us cookies that Mary had baked. We were still playing the hand as he sat back down.

“What are you concentrating so hard on?” he asked Dan, who was giving long consideration to his next play. “There’s no way you can set us.”

Dan frowned, but didn’t answer.

Roger glanced at me. “I started to ask earlier today, what you boys were going to do after your ceremony, and no,” he said, raising a forestalling hand, “we can talk about you two living together, later. I had a reason for asking about your… umm” he paused and with a lopsided smile, said, “honeymoon.” He shook his head, as if to say that he was still adjusting his thinking.

His eyes met mine again. “I asked because Mary and I were going to offer you a trip to New York City for New Years, or down to Cancun, Mexico – your choice.”

My mouth dropped and I looked towards Dan.

“I’d rather be setting up our room together in San Antonio,” Dan said with a frown.

“Dan,” I said with a frown of my own. “He said we could talk about that later. Didn’t you hear what he said? That was quite an offer. At least thank him if we’re turning them down.”

Dan shrugged and played a card. He leaned back and looked at Roger. “I gave you my honest answer the first time you asked,” he said. “What I really would like to do for a honeymoon is for Sean and me to move into a place of our own.”

I played a card from my hand, watching them. Mary did the same, and then I played a card from the dummy hand, taking the trick. Roger returned Dan’s gaze. He sighed. “Daniel,” he said. “I understand; I really do.” He smiled ruefully, then. “I know this is the wrong thing to say, but… when you’re older, like I am, things aren’t always so urgent. We’re only talking about a few months and then you two will be together for the rest of your lives. You haven’t thought it through and you haven’t changed my mind; a daily commute like that will be hard on you, on your studies, on your work with Dr. Armstrong, and even on your health. If you two really love each other, you can wait.”

“We’ve already waited,” Dan said. “We’ve waited two years. And it’s because we love each other that we can’t wait any longer.”

“Make it Austin,” I said. “I can commute to Trinity from Austin.”

Roger looked at me as if I’d said the dumbest thing he’d ever heard. “That’s not solving the problem, Sean. I’d be just as concerned for you. Besides, doesn’t Trinity require you to live on campus for your freshman year?”

I nodded. “But I’ve heard of a student or two from San Antonio who commute.”

“And your parents?” Roger asked. “How would they feel?”

“Oh, my, Sean!” Mary said before I could think through my response, “Did you really mean to play that card?”

I glanced down at my hand. I should have played a spade. I wasn’t paying attention and played stupidly. “A card laid is a card played,” I said with a sigh, repeating a bridge truism.

“I distracted you,” Roger said, apologetically. “Go ahead, Mary. My partner and I will take our lumps.”

Somehow, the conversation never made it back that night to either our honeymoon or our living together.

. . . . .

By the end of the bridge game, my mind had returned to my family, and I worried, wondering if something had happened to Colin.

Dan’s mind was still on the discussions about living together, and he was quiet that night as we undressed for bed. “Leave on your underwear,” I said. I liked how he looked in his white briefs. He liked me in mine as well, and we had snuggled that way before.

Dan nodded, unsmiling, and leaving his briefs on, he crawled into bed, turning on his side, back to me.

I turned off the lights and slid in behind him, spooning his body with mine. With an arm over his waist, I pulled him to me. “They don’t have to know,” I said. “I can drive up every night.”

Dan twisted back at the waist, and in the faint light in the room, he looked up at me, considering. “The gas would be expensive, and where would we sleep? My roommate would freak.”

I rubbed his belly. “Bronco if we have to.”

“I can drive down there, too. Maybe Lenny would let us use the room if we paid him what we could afford.”

“Take turns driving?” I asked.

Dan rolled to face me. We interlaced legs and laid hands on each other’s shoulders. “And every weekend,” he said. “No weekends apart.”

I nodded and we pulled into an embrace. Dan kissed the nape of my neck and nuzzled in behind my ear. “I love you, Seany.”

“I love you… beloved,” I whispered.

We held each other and gently stroked one another’s back. I thought how wonderful it would be when we finally did live together. And then I remembered the afternoon, and Benjamin. There would still be temptations.

“Do you want to go to Robert’s party?” I asked.

Dan thought a moment, stroking my back. “You wanna plug Benjamin, don’t you?”

“Oh, and as if you wouldn’t like to do Walter.”

We each stiffened for a moment. Then Dan relaxed and when he did, I did. We continued stroking each other’s back.

“Benjamin’s skinny and awfully young,” Dan pointed out.

“Walter’s vain,” I answered.

I drew a fingertip up Dan’s spine. He did the same to me.

“It could be like a… last fling before we get married, kind of thing,” Dan said.

“We could just drop in,” I said.

No way would we stay until Sunday,” Dan agreed.

I nodded.

We pulled each other tighter and I slid my hands into the back of Dan’s briefs, feeling his smooth skin. “Of course,” I whispered, “even at a party like that, we could stick together.”

Dan chewed my ear and rubbed his growing erection against mine through our briefs. “Or stay in this bed until Sunday.”

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