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A Single Soul


Chapter 15


Taking Care of Your Own



Jim looked questioningly at the two men, who seemed very confused and very worried.

So, he stuck out his hand toward the younger of the two and introduced himself, "Hi, my name is Jim Flannery; and I think all three of us are a little confused right now."

"Boy, you can say that again!" said the young man, taking Jim's hand. I'm Fred Conway, and this is my father, Ed. We came down here from New York to spend two weeks with my son, who's comin' home on leave this Saturday. He's been on a two-year deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We all wanted to stay at the same place for his leave," he said, indicating the van full of people parked at the curb. "So, my wife found this house on Craigslist and rented it for two weeks. I told her not to send the guy all the money at once; but, she said he told her that he had to have the full amount in advance. Looks like we got scammed," Fred said, casting his eyes downward and his shoulders slumping.

"I'm real sorry, man; I think you did get scammed," said Jim in agreement. "See, I rented this place in May on a one-year lease. I bet ya some `jerk wad' saw the rental listing on the internet and then used it through Craigslist to pull a fast one on somebody ... namely, you," Jim said.

Fred sighed and explained to Jim how much they were all looking forward to his son's arrival. "My son's a Corporal over there," Fred told him, "and he never got to come home after he was wounded in Iraq. They awarded him a Purple Heart and the Silver Star, then sent him straight to Afghanistan ... this is his first leave."

Jim listened to Fred's story with a rapidly sinking heart. "Hey, maybe we can find you a hotel in town," he offered weakly.

"I don't think we can do that. Things have been pretty tough, financially, over the last year. This scam has pretty much tapped us out," Fred replied.

Matt, who had been waiting for Jim to return and wondered why he was taking so long, had decided to investigate and walked up to the trio. He arrived in time to hear Fred's last statement. He looked at Jim questioningly; so, Jim gave him a quick run-down of the situation.

By that time, the people in the curb-side van had left the vehicle and walked towards the four men. Fred introduced them to Jim and Matt as his wife Jewell, his mother Fran, his deployed son's young wife Nadine and their baby girl Jewell who was named for her grandmother. And the Marine Corporal's younger teenage brother.

Matt gave Jim `that look' and then asked the family to excuse them. They walked down the driveway, out of earshot. "I bet I know what you're thinking, buddy," Jim said with a knowing grin.

"Well, what could it possibly hurt?" Matt asked him. "You and Matty could stay with us at my house. Denise is heading out on her new post the morning after she gets back from Disney World with the boys, and she and I already agreed to split up anyway ... and, besides," he added, "we both know darned well that you and I'd be practically living together, anyway ... this'll just give us a perfect excuse to do it for real and in front of the whole world ... at least for two weeks!" he finished with a mischievous grin.

"You're right, Matty. Fred told me that his son earned a Silver Star and a Purple Heart in Iraq; he deserves some special treatment ... not to mention meeting his new daughter for the first time!" Jim said.

They walked back to the silent group, who were all standing around with crestfallen looks on their faces. "Hey, everybody, let's all go inside and talk. My buddy, Matt, and I have an idea that just might let you give your Marine the welcome home he deserves after all," Jim said.

"If anyone needs to freshen up there's a powder room off the kitchen and a bathroom in the hall, also one in the master bedroom. Help yourself," Jim offered. The ladies made a dash for the bathrooms, and Jim offered beers to the men.

"Dad and I'd love one; but junior, here, is only seventeen; so he'll have a soda, if you have one," Fred said. The boy looked very disappointed, but resigned.

When everyone had re-grouped in the kitchen, Jim began. "Well, folks, Matt and I are Marines, too; so, that means your son is one of our brothers. And we'd sure hate to see a fellow Marine miss out on his homecoming party. Here's how we see it ..."

Jim began by explaining that he was a recent widower and that Matt and his wife, Denise, had recently agreed to an amicable divorce. He explained that she is a Navy officer who was recently promoted and would be leaving very shortly for her new assignment in San Diego; and that would leave Matt and his two sons by themselves in their big house. He added that he and his son had already planned to move across the street to stay with Matt and his son, anyway.

"So, there's no problem at all," he finished.

The women sat there with tears of gratitude; and the men simply looked stupefied.

"And, sorry, but I won't take `no' for an answer ... it's a Marine thing, y'see," Jim added with finality in his voice. He emphasized his point by leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms in apparent defiance.

"I get that. I was a Marine in `Nam for three years," Ed said, beginning to tear up himself. Fred pumped both fists into the air and embraced the women, who had begun to tear up.

"Then you understand our reasons, sir," Jim said.

"Yes, I certainly do, and God bless you two for it," Ed replied.

"Okay, then! Let's get you folks moved in, and me moved out," Jim said. "I bet that baby girl is ready for all this activity to be over with so she can get some sleep!"

Matt and Jim made quick work of gathering Kelly's extra clothes, supplies, food, and his extra crib, all kept at Jim's house for use there. Matt grabbed his and Jimmy's extra clothes and Jim picked up his guitar on the way out.

While Jim and Matt were taking things out, the ladies were bringing in coolers loaded with the Marine Corporal's favorite foods that they had prepared for him.

At one point, Matt noticed Ed carrying fishing poles into the house. "You like fishing, Mr. Conway?" Matt asked.

"Yessir, Captain, one of my favorite pastimes," the man said.

"Well, then, don't make any plans for next Saturday, and be ready to cut bait!" Matt said with a big smile.

"Aye Aye sir, I still know how to follow orders," Ed grinned.

Jim called Becky and told her to come to Matt's the next morning, instead of his house, and that he would explain everything when she arrived.

Three hours later, the Conway family stood at the door of Jim's house, bidding goodnight to Jim and Matt. The ladies kissed both of them and the men shook their hands.

"We'll never be able to repay you for your kindness," Fred said.

"Hey, whaddaya mean!?! We're Marines; we take care of our own!" Jim replied, as he and Matt left for Matt's house.

While they were carrying everything across the street, Matt said with curiosity in his voice, "I didn't know you still played the guitar."

"Oh, yeah, I kept on with my lessons after boot, and then even taught myself to play the piano," Jim said proudly. "I used to serenade Matty when he was a baby."

"Well," declared Matt, "I'm impressed ... I guess you'll just have to serenade me sometime," he added with a wink.

Once inside Matt's house, Jim pulled Matt into his arms and kissed him deeply. "I love you, Matthew Leo; you really do make me a better man," Jim said softly, "and you can be sure that I will serenade you ... when the time is right."

"Hungry?" Matt asked.

"Hungry for you," Jim said, as he licked Matt's neck; "but, let's burn those steaks, first."

Later that night, as they were tangled up in bed trying to suck each other's face off, Jim pulled away, looked straight into Matt's eyes, and said "Matty, now that we're free to make all the love we want for two weeks, there's something I want you to do for me."

"What's that, Jimmy?" Matt asked dreamily, glancing at the bottle of lube on the nightstand that he had bought especially for Jim to fuck him with for the first time.

"I want you to fuck me," Jim said flatly.

"What!?!" Matt asked with an incredulous look on his face. "Are you serious!?!"

"Yep; it's how I want to prove to you how much I love you."

Matt looked at Jim with wide eyes and said, "You don't have to do that, Jimmy. I know you love me ... but I'd love to do it, anyway," he added slyly.

Matt began to suck Jim's cock, striving to deep-throat the man, while he inserted a lubed finger into Jim's ass to begin loosening him. Slowly, and without losing his rhythm on Jim's cock, Matt inserted a second.

Moaning his pleasure, Jim whispered, "Matt, I need to feel you in me. Lay on your back so I can sit on you. I saw guys fucking that way on the internet. It looked so hot and I need to try it."

It took three attempts for Jim to adjust to Matt's penetration. When he felt Matt's balls against his ass, he knew he had gone all the way. He panted, "Fuck, man; it hurt a lot more than the movies on the internet showed; but, it was worth it ... I never thought something could feel this good," he moaned, as he used his strong legs to piston himself on Matt's rigid cock.

Barely able to control his rising orgasm, Jim gasped "Matt, I wanna be on my back and watch you up close while you fuck me," Jim managed to croak through his passion.

The couple rolled without losing contact. Jim raised his legs and rested them on his lover's broad shoulders; and Matt began to plunge his cock into Jim's ass.

Jim stared into Matt's glazed eyes and began to jerk himself off.  That caused Matt to lose all rational thought, and he began pounding Jim's butt, aiming for Jim's throbbing prostate, and driving Jim into a frenzy every time he hit it.  Jim writhed in ecstasy under Matt and his stroking hand increased speed.


"Oh, fuck, Matty! I'm gonna cum!  I'm gonna cum!  I can't hold it back!" Jim groaned in amazement.  His lips formed a silent "Oh."


"Me too, Buddy!  Here it comes!  Oh, Jimmy ...!!" 


As the two men climaxed together, they locked eyes in gasping wonder, their minds and bodies silently screaming in the most intense orgasm that either of them had ever experienced.


Jim's cock spurted huge loads of cum between their chests that seemed to cement the two men together as never before; simultaneously, Matt unloaded a torrent into Jim's grasping ass.


They looked at each other for a moment, their bodies shaking with the moment.  Exhausted, and still imbedded in his lover, Matt suddenly collapsed onto Jim's torso and kissed Jim deeply.

"That was well worth the wait," Jim managed to mumble into Matt's mouth.

After several minutes spent trying to control their ragged breathing and somehow think more rationally, the two untangled themselves from each other and staggered into the head.

Barely ten minutes later, they were back in the bed and deeply asleep in each other's arms ... until Kelly's monitor squawked and woke them at 0100.


The next day, when Becky arrived for work, Jim was out on his run, and Matt filled her in on the story of the Conway's.

"You two are about the greatest guys I've ever met. You just watch; you'll both get paid back a hundred-fold for this kindness," she declared.

"Becky, neither of us wants anything in return. It's just the right thing to do," Matt explained.

Jim came in, greeted Becky, showered, and headed for the base to report for duty. Matt walked the dogs and then went into his home office to work on some reports.

After lunch, Matt called his dad and told him about the situation with the Conways. Frank heartily agreed with Matt's plan to bring the entire family to Frank's on the upcoming Saturday for a day at the beach and to give the men a chance to fish.

"You know, Son, you two just keep making me proud," Frank told him.

"Well, I had the best teacher in the world," Matt replied.

At 1400 hours, Jim's Commanding Officer called him into his office.

"You wanted to see me, Sir," Jim said, standing at attention before his CO.

"At ease, Gunner. It seems you've caught the attention of the old man (referring to their Commanding General)," the CO said to Jim.


"The family that you've given your house to called his office and told him the story. Of course, the General wants Public Affairs in on it; and, I must say, he was also personally very impressed by your actions."

"It's really nothing, Sir; that Corporal is a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient; so Matt and I thought he deserved a special welcome," Jim said.

"Well, I think it's pretty damn special, Gunner; you continue to make me proud," he said, giving Jim a quick salute and reaching across his desk to shake Jim's hand.

"If it works for you, the PA office would like to send someone from the Globe over tomorrow to interview you and that family. They agreed to do it; and they told me their son is due in at 1000 tomorrow, so the interview is scheduled for 1500 hours. And, they want Captain Leo there, of course, the CO concluded."

"Aye, Aye, Sir; we'll be there," Jim said, and was dismissed.

Later, when he walked into the house from work, Jim told Matt about the interview, and Matt agreed to participate. Matt told Jim that Fred Conway had invited all of them over for a big, home-cooked lunch at Jim's house to welcome the Corporal home.

"Works for me; we have to be there for the interview, anyway," Jim said.

"I spoke with Denise and the boys today," said Matt; she said they were wearin' her out. She's also very proud of you for giving up your house; but, she did add that you probably weren't sleeping there, anyway," Matt said with a big smile.

Jim laughed, grabbed Matt and kissed him.

That night, the two men repeated the intense sexual session they had performed the previous night, with one exception. Matt took his turn on the bottom.

Afterward, as they lay together trying yet again to regain their senses, Matt mused aloud, "Frankly, I'm not real sure which position I liked more, top or bottom. I guess we'll just hafta keep switching back and forth until I can figure it out," he concluded with a crafty look on his face.

"That works just fine for me, Buddy," Jim replied, spooning his lover and kissing the back of his neck.

The next day, the two of them, with Kelly in a stroller and the dogs in tow, made their way across the street for the luncheon.

As they all trooped their way into the house, Fred's wife immediately took possession of Kelly and began to woo him. Matt smiled, gratefully.

It was at that moment that they encountered the returning solider, who looked as if he stepped directly out of a Marine recruiting poster. At six feet tall, he was all muscle and poise. When he saw Jim and Matt, he snapped to attention and gave them his best salute, which they returned. He remained at attention.

"At ease, Marine," Jim said, "you're on leave and we're not in uniform," Jim said.

The young man reached out with both hands and shook first Jim's hand, then Matt's. "Gunner, Captain; my name is Andrew Conway. I really appreciate what you're doing for us. Thank you so much. You don't how much this means to me and my family. I'll never forget it," the young man said.

"Okay, folks, now listen up," Jim's baritone rang out. "Enough with all the thank you's; we're just glad we were able to do it for you. This young soldier deserves it," Jim said with finality.

Soon after stuffing themselves with all of Andrew's favorite dishes, the doorbell rang. Fred answered it, turned to everyone and said, "Looks like more than just one reporter showed up."

The reporter from the Globe explained that word got out to all the local media and now ten reporters wanted the story.

With the entire Conway clan trailing behind, Jim and Matt walked out onto the porch to confront the gang of reporters gathered on the front lawn. Some of their neighbors had noticed the activity at Jim's house and stood watching from the sidewalk in front of the house.

After the few basic questions reporters always asked to orient themselves, Jim noted that some of the questions contained racial inferences. That began to piss him off; he became more and more agitated. One of the reporters then asked Fred if he felt comfortable staying in an all-white neighborhood. That question pushed Jim over the edge.

"All right, that's enough," Jim barked in his best command voice. As the reporter started to speak again, Jim placed the palm of one hand directly in front of the offending reporter's face, "Did I breathe, and make you think I was done?" He asked quizzically. Jim just stood there, staring down at the offending reporter, who seemed to back off.

Looking out over the crowd of reporters and to the sidewalk, he called out, "Smith, Choi, Wilson, Newman, Lee, Jones, Warrington, would you join us, please?" The six men and one woman, three of them Black, one Asian, one obviously Latino and one White, some still in their uniforms, joined Jim on the porch and stood behind him, as a group.

"The seven people standing behind me are my neighbors. Now, if you look carefully, you might notice that only one of them happens to be White. Even with your limited intelligence," making eye contact with the offending reporter, "you would have to concede that this is not an `all white' neighborhood. This is a neighborhood of Marines and Sailors. That is the only distinction we make on this entire block, and that is for a good reason. Because there are two types of people: MARINES and those who wish they were," that got a laugh from everyone except the reporter whom Jim was dressing down.

Jim continued, "There is nothing about this story that should even mention `race'. This is a story about the family of this young Marine," he said, placing his hand on Andrew's shoulder, "who served his country in two wars, was wounded, and then awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star for Gallantry in Action. It is the story of a family that was scammed by an unscrupulous person, which almost kept them from honoring their son with the `welcome home' that he so clearly deserves. Fortunately, my friend, Captain Leo, and I were available to help remedy the situation. End of story. End of interview."

Now, if you'll excuse us, we have some celebrating to do!" said Jim.

All the Marines, including Ed, gave a loud, "Oorah!"

Jim turned his back on the reporters and motioned for the Conways and all the neighbors to follow him into the house.

As they all gathered in the living room, Ed put his arm around Jim's shoulders and said, "My friend, you are one righteous soul."

"No, sir, I'm just a Marine," Jim said.

After many introductions and much chattering, the neighbors began to filter out the door. The Conway's invited Jim and Matt to stay for dinner; but, they begged off. Before they departed for Matt's house, however, they had one more surprise to reveal, for Andrew and his wife.

Finn owned two condos in an ocean-front complex, just up the beach from his house, and one was not rented out that weekend. So, he had told Matt and Jim that he wanted to offer it to the young couple for that night and Sunday night, at no charge; so they could be alone and get reacquainted with each other. He also arranged for a dinner at the onsite Italian restaurant, at his expense.

"Andrew," Matt said, "your mom has already packed you and your lovely wife a bag; and here are the keys to my car. There's a piece of paper on the front seat with all the directions you need to get to the beach and find your way around down there. You and Nadine have two nights to yourselves in an ocean-front condo, a gift from my father and his business partner; so, go and enjoy yourself."

"Oh, wow!" Andrew exclaimed.

"Now grab that pretty young wife of yours and make tracks. You're wasting valuable time, son," Matt grinned.

Andrew and Nadine hugged Matt and Jim. "I don't know where you guys came from; but, I am sure as hell glad you did!" Andrew said to them as he and his wife headed out the door.

Later, when they arrived at the condominium, they were stunned by its beauty and the view, not to mention the iced bottle of champagne and bowl of strawberries with whipped cream that they discovered in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, Matt and Jim fed Kelly and the dogs, and then sat down to dinner, enjoying the quiet and the opportunity to just be together.

"Hey," Jim said suddenly to Matt. I forgot to tell you. I had two very coincidental phone calls today. The first was from Finn; he was calling to say that, while going over Linda's paperwork, he found two life insurance policies. I'd forgotten we even had `em. They're gonna pay double the amount of a normal death, because of the accident. So, that adds another 500K to the kitty.

The other call was from my landlord. Seems he's been caught up in the real estate crash and is now over-extended. He offered to sell me the house for what he owes, and right now that's equal to what realtors are saying it's worth. He's trying to avoid a short sale and damaging his credit.

Finn thinks it's a great deal, since I could pay cash for it, and then keep it for a rental property, if I don't want to live there ... I guess he figures you and I'd be living together, eventually," Jim said with a knowing smile.

"Well, I'd trust Finn's advice, that's for sure," replied Matt. Now, as for us living together, do you think we're ready for that? Jim, things have moved really quickly with us and our situations. I wanna make sure it's what you want," Matt said.

A flash of anger crossed Jim's face, and he grabbed his water glass for a long drink, to maintain his composure. Then, in a measured, neutral tone said, "You're probably right, Matt; maybe things are moving too quickly," as he rose from the table, he scraped the food into the trash can. Without looking again at Matt, he lifted Kelly from his seat and said, "I'm going to take Kelly for a walk," and left the kitchen.

Once more, Jim was hurt and confused. Did Matt still not trust him, or was he trying to punish him for his mistake so long ago; or, maybe, Matt just didn't feel the same way he felt? Sighing, he had just finished strapping Kelly into the stroller, when Matt entered the foyer.

"Jimmy," he said softly, "I'm sorry; that came out all wrong."

Jim stood and, for a moment, looked deeply into Matt's eyes; they were glassy and sad.

"Would you like to walk with us?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, very much," Matt replied.

"You're right," Jim continued, "We both screwed up all those years ago; but, I realize, now, what I did wrong.   And now that I know what my true feelings for you are, I can't go back to the way it's been since then.  Every breath I take is for you, Matt, and for our boys.  I can't lose you, again," he finished.

"You don't have to prove a thing to me, Buddy," Matt said quietly as they continued their walk, "I'm sorry, too, about how all that came out.  Let's face it, Baby; we were stupid kids." 

Matt let his hand slide carefully across the handle of the stroller so it touched the side of Jim's hand and rested there. He felt his pulse quicken when he touched the man he loved. Encouraged by the fact that Jim did not move his hand away, Matt continued voicing his train of thought.

"It's just that, probably because of what happened so long ago, ... sometimes ... I still feel a little insecure ... and ... and maybe you get a little defensive, too. It's gonna have to be a matter of trust and believing in each other, I guess," he said almost breathlessly.

"We've both been through huge changes in our lives, Jimmy; and in a short period of time, too," Matt paused to collect his thoughts and to gather the courage to continue, because he was about to expose himself as he had never done so before.  With a deep breath, he went on.
"Making love with you last night had to be the single most enlightening event of my life and, believe me when I say this; it caused an epiphany for me.  That single act between us was more than just an `Oh, my God, this is what has been missing in my life' moment." 

"I suddenly realized two really important things about us.  One, it proved to me that we are a perfect match, both spiritually and physically.  And, two, it convinced me that we're truly meant to be together, that we're on the right track ... so, as long as we can talk to each other, we'll be just fine," Matt concluded nervously.

Jim could barely control his emotions, because he had exactly those same thoughts as he and Matt had drifted off to sleep in each other's arms the night before. 

Now it was his turn to take a deep breath and compose himself. He said to Matt, "I agree; and I know we'll do better than fine, Captain Leo... and I guarantee ya, it'll all be worth it," he declared, as he bumped Matt's shoulder with his own.

Matt broadly grinned his agreement. 
The two enormously relieved lovers silently made their way back home.  The misunderstanding had proven to be cathartic. Both men now realized in their minds and felt in their hearts the depth of their love for each other. 

So, it was with a new level of trust and intimacy that they anticipated another night of intense passion together.

To be continued...

Author's Note:  Thanks to all of you who have written to tell how much you're enjoying the story, I hope you stay tuned.  Also, to say a special thank you to my editor, Don, who makes this story readable.  For all the readers enjoying the stories here at Nifty, remember that Nifty needs your donations to help them to provide these wonderful stories.  How about sending them $5 Bucks, just think of it as buying a hot magazine!