This is the fifty-third chapter of an ongoing series. This chapter continues the story of Rob Ballinger's life after his arrival in Los Angles in the summer of 1972.
Thanks again for all your comments on this series. I always appreciate hearing from readers and try to answer all messages promptly. If I'm slow at times it is only because of the pressure of work or my somewhat demanding travel schedule.
Andrew has continued to give much needed proofing and editorial help, for which I am sincerely grateful. I could not post chapters as quickly as I've been doing without his invaluable assistance.
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There are a lot of people who think life is made up of good and bad, black and white, but my experience suggests that it's really more accurate to think of human experience in shades of gray.
There are grays so light you might take them for white and grays so dark that you'd swear they were black. But they are all shades of gray, not the sorts of absolutes conservative philosophers and fundamentalist theologians like to suggest.
I guess what I'm saying is that there are a lot of things in life which aren't that clean, that neat. There are good things which may happen at the wrong time, or at least at an inconvenient time. There are things we've all wanted which didn't come our way when we could have made the most of them and then turn up at the damnedest time when we'd least expect and could not make of them what we'd hoped or dreamed. I guess that's life.
On Monday afternoon I arrived at the NSB studios, parked the yellow Firebird and walked to Dex Cohen's office. As soon as I walked into the large outer office May spotted me and motioned me over to her desk.
She was talking on the phone but held up one finger and smiled.
"I understand, Mr. Cheever," she said politely into the telephone. "I'm really sorry Mr. Cohen hasn't gotten back to you and I will give him your message."
There was a pause while she seemed to be listening. She smiled at me and held up one finger again.
"Well, certainly, sir. You enjoy your time at Sing Sing. I know they must appreciate what you are doing there."
With that she ended the call, smiled again and said, "just a moment, Rob." She flipped a switch on the intercom unit and waited. A few seconds later Cohen's voice boomed over the speaker.
"Yeah, May?" he said.
"Mr. Ballinger is here, Mr. Cohen. You said you wanted to see him when he came in."
"Yeah, May, send the kid in."
She smiled and motioned toward the big double doors.
I nodded my thanks and went in.
"Rob, baby," Cohen boomed as he got up and came around the huge desk to great me. I held out my hand to shake his but he threw out his huge arms and drew me into a quick hug, slapping me several times on the shoulders as he pressed my chest firmly against his.
"Great to see you kid. I've been hearing good things. I guess you shook up the Faerie Queen real good."
I blushed but said nothing, not being exactly sure what he was referring to.
"Look, Robby, your old buddy Roger Bardwell is coming into town and I'm having a little party for him at my place on Saturday. I figured maybe you'd like to come, in fact, Roger suggested I ask you but I told him I'd already thought of it myself." He was grinning like a Cheshire cat.
"That sounds great, Dex," I said, not knowing how to respond.
"Well, I'm just having a few guys, nothing fancy, just swimming and steaks. Bring your Speedos and let us see that hunky body of yours."
I blushed but managed to say I'd be there.
"Good boy. Ask May for a map and show up anytime you want. People will start coming about three and we'll probably get around to eating about seven."
I thanked him as he pointed me toward the door. As soon as I came out into the reception area, May was on her feet, handing me a little card with the address and phone number of Cohen's house on one side and a little map on the other.
By the time I got away from Cohen's office it was after three o'clock and I figured I might just as well drop by Nita's office, rather than call her later. I found my way through the maze of cubicles and was relieved to see she was there. She was on the phone but when she saw me coming she waved and pointed to a chair beside her desk. It seemed as if much of the work of Hollywood was done on the phone but, like May, Nita finished her conversation almost as soon as I arrived.
"Well, Sugar Plum," she smiled, "did you get my message?"
"Yeah, I was going to call you this evening but I had to come in to the studio so I figured I should just drop by."
"Well, I'm glad you did. Are you settling in?"
"Yes, Nita, thanks. The apartment is great."
"Did you get a car yet, Rob?"
I have one on order but the agency gave me a loaner to drive until my own buggy gets here."
"So you could find your way out to my place one night this week."
It sounded like a statement, not a question.
"You said you live in Sierra Madre," I said. "I found it on a map."
"Sure do, sweetheart, it's a ways but you can find it easily enough. She reached into the lower left drawer of her desk and extracted a card not unlike the one May had given me moments before. "Friday or Saturday, take your pick."
"It will have to be Friday, Nita, if that's okay."
"Sure, honey, gives me less time to think to fidget before the night in question." She didn't ask what I had going on Saturday.
I walked back through the vast NSB complex and was unlocking the yellow Firebird when Billy came bounding over.
"Hey, Rob," he called from about a hundred yards away. As I turned and looked in his direction he stopped suddenly and stared at the car. "Oh, man, Rob," he said, his voice filled with awe, "is that your car?"
"Hi, Billy," I said as he closed the distance between us. "Actually, it's a loaner. Mine will be here in a couple of weeks."
"You settled on a Firebird?"
"Yep, but all black, not yellow."
"Awesome, man, truly awesome!"
"Well, hey, when I get it I'll take you for a ride."
Billy was beside himself. He went on and on about the car and how excited he'd be to see the one I had on order.
I couldn't help noticing the improvement in his skin and commented on it.
"Oh, thanks, Rob," he nearly purred. "I've been using the lotion twice a day and my doctor says in a month or so he'll be able to start some kind of abrasive treatments to remove the scars."
"Well, you're really looking good, Billy," I told him again and it was true. His skin, while not without a few blemishes, was much, much better. I couldn't help wondering if his back and shoulders were similarly improved. He was excited by my choice of cars and clearly very pleased that I'd mentioned his improved complexion.
It took another five minutes for Billy to settle down and he really only calmed down because he was paged over the carpool loudspeakers saying he was needed in the office.
"I guess they need me to drive somebody," he said, looking rather dejected.
"Well, I need to go anyway, Billy, but I'll give you a ring as soon as my car arrives."
He grinned, extended his hand shyly and we said goodbye.
When I got to Hank Shear's antique shop it was just after five o'clock and I was afraid I'd missed him. The door was locked but there was a light on in the back and when I knocked he came to the front. When he saw it was me, he smiled and unlocked the door.
He was more casually dressed than he'd been on my earlier visits, wearing a pair of tan slacks and a white polo shirt which showed off his body and his tan. He was a good looking man.
"I'd given up on hearing from you today, Rob," Hank said with a smile.
"I was afraid I'd missed you. You close at five, right?"
"Actually, I don't open at all on Sunday or Monday."
"I guess I was lucky to find you then."
"Well, most Mondays I'm here, unless I have some personal business to attend to. I use the day to catch up and for getting the shop in order." He led me back to the rear of the shop. "I got an amazing deal on these pieces, Rob, and thought I'd give you first chance at them. If you want them I'll sell them to you with my usual markup. If you don't want them, I'll double that when I put them in the shop."
As soon as I saw the matching chair and footstool I knew I wanted them. They were made of dark oak with leather upholstery in a still darker brown, actually almost black.
"I don't think the leather is original but it's old and it's in good shape," Hank said. "I went over it with a leather restorer, an oil which should keep it supple for quite a while. If you take the pieces I'll give you a bottle so you can go over them once in a while."
The chair had a rather primitive mechanism which allowed the back to be adjusted from nearly vertical to about a forty-five degree angle.
"These were the recliners of their day, Rob," Hank said as he demonstrated the chair's adjustable back.
"How much would they be, Hank?"
"Well, as I said, for you, four hundred for the set. I'll price them at eight if I put them in the shop and I've seen comparable pieces going for as much as a thousand."
I was surprised that any twentieth century American furniture sold for so much.
"I want them, Hank," I told him, "but I won't have enough to pay the entire price right now. Can I arrange some sort of lay-away plan with you?"
"How much can you give me now?"
"Two hundred," I figuring quickly. "I could give you half now and then one hundred the first of the month and the final hundred the first of the month after that."
"There will be sales tax on top of the four hundred, but if you can give me half I'll let you take them now and pay the rest as you suggested."
"You're sure? I don't mind leaving them with you until I pay the entire amount."
He laughed, giving me a friendly slap on the shoulder. "I trust you for it," he grinned. "I know where you live in case I need to send my big mean collection guy looking for you. Besides," he added, "it will help me to get them out of the storeroom and make room for some other pieces."
"Can you deliver them for me?"
"Just say when."
"Well, actually, I'm going home now. If you want to bring them this evening I can give you a check."
"Anytime, Rob," he smiled again. "Hey, a check . . . does that mean you got an account opened?"
"I'd opened it when I bought the desk. I just hadn't received the checks yet."
"Well, congratulations, Mr. Ballinger, a local bank account and all! I guess that makes you an official Californian."
"Um, maybe so."
"Well, I need to finish up here but if you'd help me load them in my van before you head home I can be there in an hour or so."
I looked at my watch. It was five-fifteen and I'd just spent four hundred dollars in less than a quarter of an hour.
"Would you like to have dinner with me, Hank? I can do a mean stir-fry."
"Hey," Hank grinned, "that sounds great but you know what sounds ever better?"
"How about a quick dip in your pool?"
"Sure," I said. "I'll get dinner all but ready and we can eat after we swim."
"I'll bring a bottle of wine and be at your place about six-thirty."
We manhandled the big chair and matching footstool into Hank's van, which was parked in the alley behind his shop. By five thirty I was on my way home, trying to remember if I had everything I'd need to fix supper for Hank and me. That in turn led me to realize that Hank would be my first dinner guest.
Back at the apartment I got out of my slacks and polo shirt and pulled on a pair of yellow Speedos and then, over them, a pair of loose gym shorts. I grabbed a T-shirt but left it lying on a chair by the door with a couple of towels, ready for the pool when Hank arrived.
In the kitchen I prepared vegetables and boiled rice so we could get food ready quickly when we came back up from the pool.
I sat at the desk I'd bought from Hank earlier and wrote him a check for two hundred dollars, the first half of the purchase price. I added it to the pile of towels so I wouldn't forget it.
After that I went on to some furniture moving, making room for the new chair and footstool. It was no problem because there was an old overstuffed chair in the corner of the living room which I had always hated. I moved it to the smaller bedroom and made a note to call Nita the next morning to see if she could have it picked up and stored.
I'd barely finished all that when there was a knock on the door.
It was Hank, of course, and I asked him to come in and look at the space I'd cleared. He'd changed from slacks to shorts but was still wearing the same white polo shirt he'd had on earlier.
"Great," he said, "your new pieces will work well there. Do you want to help me bring it on up now, or wait till later?"
"Let's get it now," I said.
We went down to the carport where he'd parked his van and unloaded the chair, which we carried up between us. It was heavy and a tight squeeze but we got it in and in place and then went back for the footstool, which was smaller and lighter and a lot less difficult to move. While I fiddled around with them, changing the position of the chair slightly and moving it out a little further from the corner, Hank went back to the van one more time and returned with a couple of books in one hand and a shopping bag in the other. He put the books down on the desk and then extracted two bottles of wine from the bag.
"I didn't know what you liked, so I brought a red and a white."
"Great," I said, stretching out in the chair and putting my legs up on the footstool. "Do you want to put the white in the frig?"
"Yeah, I guess I should," he replied, finding his way into the kitchen.
"That chair and footstool really look at home here, Rob," he said as he returned.
"They're amazing," I said as I got up and just stood looking at my new acquisitions. "I'm really glad you let me have a crack at them before somebody else bought them."
"My pleasure," he smiled, putting his arm around my shoulder. His hand on my bare skin felt warm and friendly. I liked his touch. "In my business it's building relationships with repeat customers that really counts."
"Do I qualify as a repeat customer after just two purchases?"
"Well, maybe not yet, but you're definitely on your way," he smiled again, giving my shoulder a little squeeze. "Now, I've worked up a sweat. How about a dip in the pool."
"I'm all set," I said. "Do you want to change?"
"No, let's go on down. I have trunks on under my shorts."
"Yeah, me too." I grabbed the towels and my T-shirt and, in doing so, spotted the check I'd written earlier. "Here, Hank, let me give you this now so we don't forget it later," I said, handing him the check, which he folded and put in his wallet.
We went down to the pool and found we had it all to ourselves. It was late on a week day, not a popular time for neighbors to be swimming. Without waiting for Hank to get his shorts off, I pulled mine down and tossed them onto one of the cha1ses lounges and made a shallow dive into the warm water. When I reached the end of the pool I turned and leaned back against the side of the pool, waiting for Hank to join me. He'd pulled off his sandals and shorts and shirt and was standing watching me with a slight smile on his face.
His pale blue swimming suit was tight but not as brief as my Speedos. The square-cut legs hugged his thighs and the waistband was cut low, revealing a thin trail of hair which ran from below his navel. Other than that slight trail, his body was as smooth as mine. He was a good looking man, not heavily muscled, but clearly in good shape.
After a moment's pause he dove into the water, swam the length of the pool under water, and surfaced a couple of feet from me, a slight smile still on his handsome face.
"If I lived here I'd be in this pool a couple of times a day," he said.
"Yeah, I really enjoy it," I agreed.
"Too bad it's not less public."
"Yeah?" I responded, wondering what he was thinking.
"Yeah, I grew up swimming naked and still prefer it to swimming suits."
"Oh, man," I laughed, "I always think the same thing." I looked at him and felt comfortable enough to add, "I got here with no tan lines at all and keep thinking it would be so nice to be able to stretch out naked in the sun after a swim."
"If you like nude swimming, I can take you to a couple of places I know."
"Really, near by?"
"Well, not too far. There are "clothing optional" beaches up and down the California coast and a lot of inland lakes and rivers where skinny dipping is allowed."
"You mean designated places?"
"Sure. If you'd like, we could check out some of them."
"Did you say the shop is closed on Mondays?"
"I don't open on Sunday or Monday, Rob. Take your pick."
"You've got a date, Hank. How about a week from today?"
"Sounds fine to me," he grinned.
We puttered around in the pool a while and swam a few energetic laps. I found a ball someone had left by the pool and we started tossing it back and forth, then got into a little water fight which ended up with us wrestling together as we laughed like a couple of kids. He was stronger than I'd expected and we were actually pretty evenly matched. When we finally got out and dried off it had gotten cool enough that lying by the pool wasn't too appealing so we headed on up to my apartment.
"Would you like a quick shower, Hank?" I asked when we got inside.
"Yeah, getting the chlorine off would be a good idea."
"You go ahead," I said, pointing toward the bathroom. "I'll get things started and rinse off when you finish."
"Got ya," Hank grinned as he traipsed off to the bathroom.
I went into the kitchen area, dressed only in my Speedos, and got the food started. Assembling a masterful stir fry is really quick work, once you have all the ingredients prepared, which I had done before Hank arrived. I heated a little oil in a wok, added garlic and got the vegetables started, beginning with the sliced onions and carrots so they'd have the longest time to cook.
When I'd lived with Steve and Daniel and Sammy in Oxford, stir fries were among our most popular and convenient meals. We'd all cooked and we'd all gotten quite good at turning out some great quick meals.
I added a little more oil and a few dashes of soy sauce and by the time I was ready to stir in the softer vegetables, Hank was back. He'd returned from the shower with only a towel wrapped securely around his waist. He stood close and his body smelled fresh and clean. I gave him a quick glance and grinned. Maybe the conversation about going skinny dipping together had been enough to let him know I had no qualms about being naked in front of other men, or having them naked in front of me. It could be an interesting evening, I thought as I handed him the big wooden spoon.
"Just keep all that stuff moving," I said as I went off to take a quick shower. I was back in five minutes and following Hank's lead, was dressed toga style in another of the big white towels.
"This is smelling great, Rob," Hank said as I returned and took over the cooking. "What's left to do?"
"I boiled some brown rice and we can stir it in now. I don't have any meat but if you want, I can add a few eggs and scramble them in."
"That sounds good," he said. "What about the wine, red or white?"
"Your choice," I said, looking back over my shoulder. "There's a corkscrew in the left top drawer."
"I think I'll go for the white. Where do you have glasses?"
"In the cabinet beside the sink," I said as I stirred in the last of the rice and grabbed four eggs from the frig.
As I cracked the eggs into a little well I'd made in the center of the other ingredients, Hank returned with two glasses of the chilled wine.
"Here," he said, placing one glass on the counter by the range, just to my right.
"Thanks," I said, turning slightly to give him a little smile.
Hank stood beside me, watching as I scrambled the eggs and then stirred them into the rest of the ingredients until they broke up and mixed. I glanced over at him again and found him watching me intently. He was just a little shorter than me but we stood almost even.
As the stir fry finished cooking I picked up the wine glass and took a tentative sip. It was nicely chilled and had a sharp, clean acidic edge.
"Um," I said, "I like the wine."
"I don't know much about wine," I said, "but I like this."
"If you're going to live in California you'll have to learn the basics. Our regional wines are getting very good and they've become a constant topic of conversation."
"Aren't most of them made further north?"
"Yeah, Sonoma and Napa mostly, but there are some good vineyards near Santa Barbara now, too."
He put his hand around my waist, just above the top of the towel and ran one finger under the edge, stroking my hip bone lightly. I turned and smiled at him again, letting him know I was very receptive to his touch.
"I guess we need to eat this now," he whispered.
"If we don't, it'll be a soggy mess later."
"Well, let's go for it then," he said. "But I can think of a couple of things I'd rather do right now."
"Yeah, dessert." he grinned.
We dished out the food and I carried it to my little dining table as Hank came along with the wine.
"Well," I said, smiling across at him, "bon appetit."
"Cheers," Hank added, lifting his glass. I touched mine to his.
The light had dimmed and I'd not turned on any of the lamps. The soft glow of the fading sunlight played across Hank's bare chest, delineating his pectoral muscles and the sharp curves of his wide shoulders.
"You're my first guest," I said as I sipped the wine.
"Any kind of guest."
"Well, I'm honored." I watched as he tasted the food with apparent pleasure.
"Hank," I said after a few minutes of silence while be both ate, "we've been sort of flirting around here and I guess it's obvious I'm okay with that."
"I was hoping so," he smiled.
"Well, we hardly know each other and the truth is I'm not very good at causal encounters."
"I know," he said, his smile replaced by a more serious expression, "I feel the same way."
"Would you mind if I asked you a few questions?"
"No, Rob, ask away."
"Well, for starters, I was wondering how old you are?"
"Thirty- six," he grinned. "How old are you?"
"See, that wasn't so hard was it?"
"No," I laughed, "but the questions may get tougher."
"I'm pretty tough," he said. "I can stand it, but just remember, I may be asking for equal candor from you."
"No problem." I waited a moment while I took another bite of the stir fry and another sip of the wine. "Are you married, Hank?" The question wouldn't have occurred to me if he hadn't been such a good looking and straight acting guy."
He lowered his eyes to the table, avoiding my gaze and I knew I'd hit on a delicate topic.
"Yeah, Rob, technically I am."
"For a long time?"
"My ex-wife and I were married for twelve years. We dated in college and got married the summer after we graduated. We separated two years ago and about six months ago we filed for divorce." He paused and then added, "it isn't final yet."
"Were you and your wife happy together?"
"Yeah, I think we were, for the first few years, anyway."
"Yeah, a daughter, Karen. She's nine now."
"Living with her mom?"
"Yeah, but I have visitation rights. I see her a couple of weekends a month and have her for two weeks each summer." He paused again and then, looking sort of sheepish, said, "I would have told you all this, Rob."
"I'm sure you would have, Hank, but maybe it's best that we get all the facts out in the open."
"Yeah," he said again, "I know you're right." He'd stopped eating and was running his finger around the rim of his wine glass, causing a faint humming sound. "Anything else you want to know?"
"Sure," I grinned, "everything."
"That might take a while."
"Well, hey," I said, leaning back from the table a little, "we've got all night."
He smiled back and said, "is that an invitation?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
He reached across the table and ran the tip of one finger over the back of my left hand. I smiled at him and turned my hand over so he could make a little tour of the palm.
"I guess I don't have to ask if you like men," I grinned.
"No, and I guess I don't have to ask you either."
"I've made it with my high school girlfriend but most of my sexual experience has been with other guys." I thought a moment and added. "I prefer guys."
"Have you been with quite a few men?"
"Not many, really. I had a friend in high school and we went on to college together. Actually, we were roommates all four years and kept our own thing going even though we were both dating girls."
"Are you still friends?"
"Yeah, but I haven't seen him for three or four years. He also got married right out of college and they moved to Oregon."
"Have there been many others?"
"Women, only my ex-wife."
"Actually, very few." He paused and looked me squarely in the eye. His finger was still making little circles in the palm of my hand and with each circuit little jolts were charging up my arm. "I had a short fling with an old friend." He paused again and then added, "actually a cousin."
"But it didn't last long."
"Only a few months. It was just after Marge and I separated. I think it was mostly the result of loneliness." He was silent again and there was a somberness to our mood. I wondered if I'd been too nosey.
When I was also silent, he said, "so is it my turn?"
"Yeah, Hank, ask anything you want."
"Are you a bottom or a top?"
His question caught me so completely off guard that I couldn't help laughing. It certainly broke the heavy mood which had hung between us. "You tell me what you think," I chuckled.
"I'd say neither, both, versatile."
"Yep," I grinned. "I like it both ways and I bet it's the same with you."
"Yeah, I could never understand guys who only like to dominate or be dominated. They have no idea what they're missing."
"It took me a while to figure out that bottoms can exercise a lot of power."
"Yeah, but the guys who are exclusive bottoms seem to me to get into a lot of head games. I don't like that."
"Maybe," I said, thinking of Rick, who was never like that. Odd, I thought, here I am doing some serious flirting with a man I hardly know and I can't get Rick out of my fucking brain. Rick's married, Rob, I told myself, forget him, move on. But in the next instance I realized that a part of me would never be free of Rick, no matter who I was with, no matter how much I might care about that new lover.
"Did I lose you there, fellow," Hank said, his voice soft and seductive.
"No, not really. I was just thinking about I guy I knew."
"Well, a guy I know, but he's married and back in Mississippi."
Hank smiled and said, "so can I ask you another question?"
"Sure, man. I'm sorry, I just got distracted." I turned my hand and Hank grasped it, holding it firmly in his.
"How do you feel about getting it on with an old guy like me?"
I laughed again. "I don't think thirty-six is old."
"Well, I guess I am still fairly frisky."
"Do you want to prove that?"
I rose from the table, leaving Hank sitting there as I went over to check the front door and put the bolt in place. As I walked back by him I said, "just stay put and let me straighten this stuff up."
He smiled but stayed at the table while I took our dishes to the kitchen. I put them in the sink and put what was left of the food into a plastic storage bowl and stuck it in the frig. Then, drying my hands, I motioned to Hank.
In an instant he was on his feet, following me down the passageway toward my bedroom. I was walking four or five feet ahead of him and as we entered the bedroom, I loosened the towel from around my waist and tossed it on a chair. Naked, I turned to face him.
Hank had stopped in the doorway and stood there staring at me. Then he loosened his own towel and laid it on top of mine. We were both becoming aroused. Neither of us spoke. I went to the far side of the big bed and began to turn down the covers, exposing the clean, white sheets. Hank stepped to the other side of the bed and between us we folded the covers and let them fall to the floor at the foot of the bed.
We both just stood there looking across the bed at each other. I'd not turned on the lights and the only illumination came from the dim evening glow entering the room from the two shaded windows.
I need to get the measurements to Mom, I thought. She'd offered to make curtains.
Why does the mind do that? Why such random thoughts at a moment like that? I was standing across the white expanse of clean sheets in the soft light of a mid-summer evening in Los Angeles, looking at a beautiful naked man I hardly knew and thinking about curtains!
"I think there may be something more we need to say," Hank said, his voice almost a whisper, but still startling after the silence.
"Maybe," I said, my own voice also low.
"Look, Rob," Hank began, "we don't know one another well at all, but I really like what I see." He paused, smiled and then went on. "I don't just mean physically, although from that point of view, you're amazing."
"Thanks," I smiled back. "I know, Hank, I feel the same way."
"Well, I don't mean to suggest that this will turn into more than a good friendship. Maybe it will, but I've been around the block a few times and I don't count on more too much. If something more than a good friendship should develop between us that would be wonderful, but if it is only a friendship, I want it to be a good one."
"Yeah," I said. "I agree."
"Well, I guess what I mean is that we should just take things real slow."
"Okay," I responded. I had to admit that I was relieved by what Hank was saying.
"Real slow, real easy, no pressure."
"So let's just play around a little tonight and get to know one another."
"We can have some fun and just relax and see where this is going."
"Okay," I said again.
We both just stood there, still on opposite sides of the bed, looking across at each other.
"So?" Hank's grin was mischievous.
"How about you meet me in the middle?"
I laughed. I was discovering a side of Hank's personality which I'd not really seen before, a playful, funny side that I couldn't help but respond to.
With no hesitation, I laid down and rolled over to meet him in the center of the big bed. We both lay on or sides, not touching, but looking directly into each other's eyes. He smiled again, a relaxed, easy smile, and said, "so, Rob, how are you doing?"
"Good, Hank," I grinned, unable to suppress my amusement at the awkwardness of the moment.
"How would you feel about a little kiss?"
"I think I'd feel real good about that."
"Well," Hank said, still smiling broadly, "okay then."
He moved toward me and placed his warm, soft lips gently against mine. It was nice, soft, gentle, brief, nice.
"Yeah," he said as we separated.
"Want to do it again?"
"Um, sure," I smiled back, "but maybe a little more . . . well, you know, a little more oomph this time."
"Okay," he smiled, "let's try this."
He raised up and put his right hand on my left shoulder, pushing me back gently onto the bed. Then, as I lay on my back, he moved over me so that his lower body pressed pleasantly against mine. In that position he moved his lips toward mine. He held my head between his hands. I had no intention of avoiding his kiss, but it was as if he wasn't taking any chances. When his lips reached mine he pressed gently at first but held our kiss. This wasn't a repeat of our first brief encounter, but something longer, warmer, much more intense. I felt Hank's lips part as just the tip of his tongue moved slowly from side to side over my lips. His eyes looked into mine, questioningly.
Yes, I thought, this man wants entry and I welcome him. I parted my own lips and felt his tongue gain ground. I moaned and opened wider, inviting him in. The gentleness with which the kiss had begun was soon transformed into a pleading lust. I brought my arms around him and held him to me. I spread my legs and he moved over further to lie between them, pressing his groin against mine. Our cocks were fully hard now, pulsing and wet between us. I brought my legs up to lock his pelvis to mine. Our torsos merged, our pulses raced.
He raised up a little, taking his lips from mine, his eyes were sparkling as he looked down into mine. Both of us were breathing hard.
"All right?" he asked.
"Wonderful," I moaned, wanting his mouth, his tongue.
It was so good to lie under the weight of a man I trusted, to feel the hard, thrusting heat of his body against mine, to feel again that essential closeness which for the last four years had been such a normal part of my life. I'd gone too long without it.
He again brought his mouth to mine. This time there was no hesitation. Our tongues danced and our bodies took flight. Still holding me tightly against him, Hank rolled onto his left side, then further onto his back with me still locked to him, now on top.
Hank's legs circled my buttocks and his heels dug painfully into my flesh, demanding, pressing, driving our bodies together, forcing our hot, wet cocks to jolt and pulse in the tightness between us.
He was driving his body against mine and I was responding. The rhythm of our merging was as natural as breathing, as persistent as the pounding of our hearts.
My cock slid against his, squeezed in joyful agony by the force with which our bodies met, sliding side by side in their own dampness. I felt a moan emerge from some secret place and move inexorably through my chest and along the passage of my throat. It erupted as a primal cry as my mouth left Hanks and we both erupted in a climax which seemed to take the life out of us. My head lifted involuntarily and the sound I made was like the howl of some wild beast. My seed jolted from me to mix with Hank's. We came together in a burst of joy, our cries the sound of birth and dying and rebirth.
"Oh, Rob," Hank moaned, his voice muted by fatigue.
To be continued