This is the fifty-ninth chapter of an ongoing series. I have appreciated all the comments, questions and encouragement I've received from readers and hope to continue hearing from you. I try to answer all messages promptly. If I'm slow at times it is only because of the pressure of work or travel.
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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"Am I taking you back to your hotel, or do you want to go to my apartment?" I asked Roger as I drove the yellow Firebird down through the hills from Dex Cohen's estate.
"I think," Roger grinned, "the standard line is 'your place or mine?'"
When we were onto the next straight bit of road I gave him a quick sideways grin and said, "I was hoping you'd want to see my apartment, but there sure isn't room for a wrestling match."
Roger's laugh was spontaneous and genuine, deep and hearty and masculine. "Well, I guess we'll have to improvise."
"My place then?"
We drove on in silence for a while as I worked my way down through the hills. We eventually came out onto Glenoaks Boulevard. In Burbank I cut over to San Fernando Road and then into Glendale, onto a newly completed link of freeway. I was beginning to learn my way around the sprawling city and it seemed as if everywhere I went new bits of highway were being opened every day.
"I can find my way back to Alvarado Court," I said to Roger at one point, but I don't know if I could find Dex's place on my own."
"I'm impressed by how well you're doing, Rob. I still get lost every time I try driving on my own in LA."
"It sure isn't like driving in Oxford, Mississippi," I said with a smile.
"Or even Memphis," he laughed.
I looked over at him again and was struck by the handsomeness of his face in the gentle glow from the dashboard. Then looking forward to confirm the source of the light, I saw the little illuminated clock said nine thirty. It was still early for a Saturday evening.
"You know," I said as we made our way further south and east along the base of the foothills, "one of the few times I actually tried to drive on my own in Memphis I got on a bridge approach by mistake and ended up in Arkansas before I could figure out how to turn around."
Roger laughed again, dispelling some of the awkwardness I was feeling. "I think that happens there to everybody at least once."
I was excited and realized I was already a little aroused. The idea of actually taking Roger Bardwell home to my apartment at Alvarado Court was like a long held dream coming true. I'd fantasized about him for four years, since first meeting him my freshman year at Ole Miss, but now it seemed as if something was finally going to happen between us and I felt as nervous as a teenager on his first date.
Before leaving Dex's party we'd changed back into the clothes we'd arrived in. Now, driving toward home, I wondered how long we'd be in those clothes once we arrived at my place.
"Did you ever get in the pool at the party?" I asked when we'd stopped for a light at Sunset.
"No, I just relaxed and watched the festivities. I was glad to get a bit of sun."
"No tan lines," I cracked, looking over at him. He smiled back, probably sensing my nervousness.
"There's a pool at the apartments," I went on. "This time of night there may still be a few people hanging out, but if you want, we could go for a swim."
"Yeah, maybe," Roger said, "but I think I'd rather just take a quick shower, if you don't mind. I do need to rinse off the suntan lotion."
"Sure, Roger, that's no problem." Feeling a little bolder, I said, "then what do you have in mind?"
Roger turned a little more toward me and smiled. "I won't put any pressure on you, Rob, but I think we've both been thinking about that and I guess you more or less know what I'm hoping will happen."
"I've been thinking about it ever since Dex told me you were going to be in town," I admitted. "Well, actually, I guess I've thought about it ever since I met you my freshman year."
Roger laughed as he reached across with his left hand and squeezed my shoulder. "You are a patient man."
"Well, I didn't have any choice. You told me you didn't mess around with students."
"So you're okay with me staying over?"
"I'd really like that," I said as I turned into the alley behind the apartments and pulled into my section of the long carport.
The pool area was in as big a mess as it had been the night before so I was glad Roger hadn't opted for a swim. No one was around but there were beer cans everyplace, which upset me. I wanted to make a good impression and I wanted Roger to see what a special place Alvarado Court really was. The litter around the pool made the place look like it was populated by a bunch of slobs. Why couldn't they just put their trash in the bins which were provided?
Neither of us said anything as we climbed the stairs to my apartment. I unlocked the heavy rough hewn timber door and stood aside to let Roger enter in front of me. Once in, I reached behind him to flip the light switch on the wall just inside the door.
"Very nice, Rob," Roger said, which pleased me more than I'd expected.
He walked immediately to the Stickley desk and ran his fingertips gently over the fine old surface.
"This doesn't look like the furniture you typically find in a furnished apartment," he said, turning toward me.
"That desk and chair and the library chair and stool are mine," I said, pointing toward my newest acquisitions. I bought them here, since I arrived. They're both original Stickley pieces, probably made before the First World War."
Why was I going on? I was nervous, just having Roger in my apartment, but I didn't need to run on like a silly kid.
"I don't know much about the market for authentic Arts and Crafts pieces, but I bet they put you back a bit."
"Yeah, too much, but since I have a furnished apartment at no cost to me, I figured I might just as well use the next two or three years to start getting some furniture together, pieces I know I'll enjoy for a long time."
"I guess you could tell by the way I have my own house furnished that I'm especially fond of Edwardian furniture, but I must admit these are beautiful pieces."
"You prefer the first decade of the twentieth century and I seem to be going for the second."
"Yes, I guess that more or less says it." Roger looked around a moment longer, then turned to me and asked, "could I get that shower now?"
"Oh, sorry, Roger, come on back and I'll show you where everything is located."
As I passed the desk I turned on the little lamp put there and then flipped off the living room lights as I led Roger back down the corridor to my bedroom and showed him the bath.
"Go ahead and shower, I'll get to it after you finish," I said and left him to it. A few minutes later he rejoined me in the living room, wearing only the pair of gym shorts I'd offered him. "Do you want anything, Roger, coffee, tea? I think there's an opened bottle of wine." I was remembering the bottle Hank had left the previous Tuesday.
"Stop fidgeting, Rob," Roger said.
"Maybe I'll go ahead and take a shower now."
"Good, is it okay if I stretch out on the bed?"
"Sure, relax, I'll be quick." I hurried off to the bathroom and when I finished, Roger, true to his word, was stretched out on my bed, propped up on one elbow as he flipped through the copy of Call the Dark Waters I'd been working from.
"How you doing?" he asked as I came into the room.
"Okay," I said as I continued to dry myself.
"Come over here, Rob. I think we need to talk," Roger said as he closed the book and lay it aside.
"Do you mind if I turn off the light?"
"Suit yourself," he smiled. I flipped off the overhead light, leaving the room illuminate only by the gentle glow from the desk lamp, shining down the length of the corridor.
In the subdued glow, Roger's tan body seemed to glow.
I sat down tentatively on the edge of the bed.
"Mind if I ask you something?"
"Of course not, Roger."
"Well then, I'll just get to the point."
"Are you assuming you and I are going to have sex."
I think I blushed at his directness. "Well, yeah, I guess I am."
"Okay, good. We can relax and not play games then." He looked at me intently for a moment or two. "I guess you know I've always wanted us to get together. I've just never felt right about having any sort of intimate relationship with a student. I think you understand that, don't you?"
"Yes," I admitted. "I understand and I've always admired you for feeling that way, even though I have to admit, I was a little hurt when you turned me down."
"Well, now things have changed."
"Yes," I said, still sitting rather stiffly on the edge of the bed. I wanted to make some sort of physical contact with him but somehow felt it should be his move.
"There are other considerations now, though," Roger said and I felt my heart take a leap. Was he now going to say there was some other obstacle?
"Well, for a few weeks, at least, we're going to be working and traveling together. Some people might still say I was in a sort of privileged relationship with you, Rob."
"Does that matter, if we both want to be together?"
"It doesn't matter to me, not like it mattered when you were an undergraduate and I was one of your professors. If others knew we were having sex, they might think I was taking advantage of you, or that you were trying to gain some sort of advantage over me by offering me sexual favors."
"You wouldn't see it that way, would you? You wouldn't suspect I was only having sex with you because I felt I could gain from it."
"No, but I think it's better for us to have all those issues out in the open. I'm not concerned about what others might think. I assume we'll be discreet and my guess is that no one else will suspect we're sleeping together."
"Good," Roger said, "okay then."
I stretched out then, lying beside him on the bedspread. We'd made no move to turn the covers down. We lay side by side for several minutes, me on my back, looking up at the ceiling, Roger still propped up on one arm, looking over at me, a foot of so of space between us and neither of us making any move to touch the other.
"I'd like to ask you something else."
"Yes?" I said, turning a little toward him.
"I know from what you said earlier, Rob, that you've been with other men," he paused and then added, "women, as well."
"I don't want to know names, but would you tell me how many of each?"
I lay there for a minute or more, wondering why Roger would ask that, then realizing that, whatever his reason, I really didn't mind answering his question.
"Six men," I said without further hesitation, "two women."
I really didn't want to count the nameless man I'd met on the beach or acknowledge the anonymous sex we'd had. But when I thought about it, I realized I had to include him. It may have been anonymous, but it wasn't impersonal. For the duration of that strange episode, I had joined my body with his, shared the most intimate union two human beings can share. Even thought it was anonymous and I now wished I could deny it, it was a fact, a part of my own history.
"Good?" I asked, "why good?"
"Well, first, I rather like being your seventh. You've had enough experience to be comfortable with yourself and with another person. It's also good that you could give me an exact number. That suggests that you've considered each one of your former partners as an individual, a person, not just some impersonal convenience to be used for your own pleasure and then discarded when you were finished with them."
I think I blushed again, thinking of that one impersonal encounter.
"Well, in one case, I guess I have to admit I used a man in a very uncaring manner."
"But not, I trust, against his will."
"Oh, definitely not against his will."
"But it was an impersonal encounter?"
"Yes, impersonal and even a little sordid."
"I hope you were careful."
"Do you know Coach Harlow Rankin?" I laughed.
"Sure, the grand old man of Ole Miss football."
"Well," I began and then "he more or less drilled 'careful' into all of his boys."
"Good, I've very glad to hear it."
"I guess you know all the guys in the football program call him 'Father.'"
"Yes, I knew that. I assumed it was because he was the high priest of sports at Ole Miss."
"No," I laughed again. The opportunity to be so casual and relaxed with Roger as we lay side by side on my big bed, dressed only in flimsy shorts, was helping me to relax and get over my nervousness about being with him. "We called Rankin 'Father' because he addressed all of us as 'son.' I think he really saw us as his kids."
"Well, maybe that's why he drilled 'careful' into all of you. What exactly did he have to say?"
I laughed again remembering Rankin. "'If you boys are going to put your little pee pee in places it doesn't belong, you better be sure you have a wall of protection between you and God knows what.'" I paraphrased him, doing a fairly good imitation of Father's unique voice.
Roger laughed and, for the first time, reached over to grasp my arm. It was the first real physical contact between us. It was a warm and caring touch.
He smiled at me but said nothing.
"Roger, you said it didn't matter that I've been with six different guys."
"Yes," he said softly as he continued to stroke my upper arm.
"Would it have mattered if I'd said fifteen, or a hundred?"
"What matters is that you remember each one, that you haven't just been out having sex with anybody willing to go to bed with you. I was pleased you gave me a specific number, not just some vague reply like 'maybe a dozen,' or 'a couple of hundred.' The number doesn't matter. They really don't mean all that much. What shocks me is when people don't know or care how many people they've been with."
"So can I ask you the same question?"
"Sure, Rob, you can ask me anything you want. I'll always answer you truthfully, so you need to think before you ask and only ask the question you really want the answer to."
I thought for a moment about what he'd said and realized I really didn't want to know.
"If I asked you if you knew the exact number, could you tell me?"
"And you remember each one of them?"
"Yes, some more clearly than others, but I do remember every one."
"It sounds to me as if you really try to lead your life in a ethical and principled manner, Roger," I said. "I hope I'm doing so too."
He laughed, a gentle, easy laugh. "Well, the operative word there is 'try.' I must admit the old sex drives have a lot more influence over my behavior than I like to admit, even to myself."
"I can accept 'try.' I don't think all that many people even do that."
"Most men are ruled by their dicks, not by their brains, myself included, Rob. It's the old 'Id and Super Id' argument and I guess it never ends."
"Well, you try to live by your own standards and I suspect most people never even think that through."
"If the standards aren't my own, or at least ones I've really bought into, there's no chance of me ever really living by them."
"That's good enough for me," I said after thinking about it a little.
"Good," Roger smiled. "Now, I have one more question for you."
"Well, not so much a question as a request."
"Would you mind if I kissed you?"
"Only if I can kiss you back."
He leaned over and placed his lips softly against mine. It was a gentle kiss, almost chaste. It was a beginning I'd remember, but hardly a harbinger of the passion which soon developed between us.
"Um," Roger whispered with a slight smile on his face. "That was something I've wanted to do for four years now."
"I should tell you, Rob, when you were a freshman, when you first made it clear that you were interested in something happening between us, I almost violated my own rules."
"I guess it was best that you stood firm."
"Yes, that's easy to say now, but it was hard then. You were one of the best looking guys I'd ever seen, certainly one of the best looking to ever come on to me."
"Well, you certainly got my attention, the first time I was you."
"I have to admit, though, I think you are even better looking now," Roger said, an almost teasing grin on his face.
His comment reminded me of my own appraisal of Rick when I was with him a few weeks earlier at his uncle's cabin. As a high school senior and then as a college freshman, Rick was incredibly good looking, but four years later, after the rigors of college football, he'd taken on a harder, more mature appearance which made me suspect he was at the peak of his physical beauty. In a way it was sad to think he might never be as perfect again, that at twenty-two, he, or I, were at our high point with only the slow decline of age ahead.
Yet when I looked at Roger, or at Hank, I realized that at each age, a man, or a woman, has a particular appeal which is special to that stage of their life. All we can hope for is to relish each stage of our lives to the fullest.
"A penny for your thoughts," Roger said as I lay there looking at him.
"Carpe diem," I said, as I pulled him down to me.
"Yes," Roger murmured as our lips met for a second time and our passions slowly grew. I rolled over further and brought Roger with me. On my back with my arms locked around him, I spread my legs fully and gave myself up to him.
He pulled away a little and looked questioningly into my eyes.
"You can do whatever you want," I whispered, wanting to please him, wanting to be whatever he wanted. I'd be whatever he needed me to be.
He kissed me again, harder, more
insistently this time. I moaned and opened my lips to his advances. His
tongue entered my mouth and danced with mine.
I moaned again, wanting him in me in every conceivable way.
The kiss was long and deep, leaving me breathless, wanting more. He rose up into a kneeling position between my legs and looked down at me as if he were taking ownership, surveying his new possession.
We were both breathing hard after the long kiss. My own chest rose and fell as my lungs pulled in deep, fresh, reviving air. Roger's own chest was expanding and relaxing with each breath he took.
I lay still, waiting for him to act, to take the lead. With my arms spread out at my sides, I had yielded totally to him.
Seconds passed, then moments. His hands went to the waistband of my shorts and gently pulled them down. As he did so, he backed further down the length of the bed until he was standing with his feet on the floor at the foot, my shorts now completely off, held loosely in his right hand for a moment more before he loosened his grip and they fell out of my sight below the edge of the bed.
My cock was fully hard, up against my belly, pulsing slightly with the rhythm of my heart.
"You're as beautiful as I imagined," he whispered as he lowered the shorts I'd lent him. Then he too was naked.
I was willing for him to fuck me. I expected him to fuck me but, at least initially, he had other plans. He crept up onto the bed again, his legs between mine. He knelt there, still looking at me intently, his eyes roaming over my legs and stomach and chest.
I lay supine with my arms still stretched out to either side, acquiescent, ready, waiting for him to take me by whatever means he chose.
He placed his hands, palms spread, on the bed, either side of me, and lowered himself until his body rested on mine, his chest against my chest, his pulsing cock against mine in the hot, tight space between us. Roger's lips sought mine and we kissed again, his tongue probing gently, seeking mine.
The weight of Roger's body in mine was heaven. I moaned, a deep, contented, satisfied sound which came from the depths of my chest. I moved under him, wanting my arms around him, pulling him still closer, wanting my legs clamping him to me.
He broke our kiss to say one word. "No."
I looked up at him questioningly. "Stay still, don't try to hold me," he murmured.
I let my arms and legs drop, again spread on the bed, open, vulnerable to him.
"Will you fuck me?"
"Eventually," he whispered, "not now, not yet."
I lay very still, letting him do as he pleased, pleased by whatever he chose to do. He reached between us and grasped our cocks, brought them into alignment, released them to move together, damp, throbbing, wanting.
Roger's body moved over mine, pressing, gliding, moving in slow but varied rhythms, increasing the pressure, backing off, pressing in again. His lips were on mine, his tongue thrusting, his eyes open fixed on mine, at close range, eye to eye, almost touching, noses, pressed together, side to side, his tongue deeper now, fucking my throat.
If he keeps this up, I thought, if he keeps this up, I'll come.
Roger stopped, mid-stroke, lifting his mouth from mine, my mouth deprived by the loss of his tongue. I felt adrift, wanting contact, wanting more of him in me. He lifted his body off mine; the loss of his weight on my body was devastating, the wet, throbbing, gliding of his cock against mine was wonderful and when it stopped, the loss was more than I could bear.
He knelt between my widespread legs, looking down at me, surveying me.
"Roger," I pleaded, reaching out for him.
"Lie still, lover."
He rose up, leaving me devastated by his absence. I would have moved against him, moved under his weight until I'd come. I could not have stopped the way he'd stopped, short of release, short of . . .
He backed off the bed, separating his body completely from mine. I was still throbbing from his touch, his now absent touch. He stood in the corner of the room, the soft light from the hall playing over him, his cock still hard, wet, drooling. The same light on me, across my body, revealing my need, revealing my wanton, raging need.
"What are you doing?"
"Why? Please come back, Roger," I begged. "Did I do something wrong?"
"No, nothing wrong. You're perfect, Rob, perfect."
"Please come back."
"Be patient, Rob. I want to study you."
He stood in the soft light, merging into shadow, chiaroscuro, lost, too far away. Anyplace but in my bed was too far away.
I reached for my cock, needing release. If Roger wouldn't take me there, I'd go alone.
"No, Rob, please."
My hand moved away, my arms slumped again onto the bed.
"What?" I didn't know the question.
"How close are you?"
"Tell me what you want."
"I want you in me, Roger, please."
"Your cock. Please fuck me, Roger, now."
"Very deep, as deep as your cock can reach. Deep in me."
"Will you come?"
"Yes, with you in me, yes, I'll come."
"My cock in you?"
"What about the sound of my words, the rhythm of my words?"
"I . . . don't know."
"My words in you."
"Roger, please, at least touch me."
"Let my words touch you."
"How? I don't understand."
"The rhythm, Rob, listen to the rhythm."
"Hear the rhythm, Rob."
"Oh, god!" The muscles of my pelvis contracted in time with his words.
"Feel the words."
"Yes!" I was so near, so close.
I came, not touching myself, not being touched by him, only the force of his words, the rhythm of his incantation.
My cock jolted and I came.
To be continued.