This is the sixty-first chapter of an ongoing series. I have appreciated all the questions, comments, and encouragement I've received from readers and hope you will continue to write. I try to answer all messages promptly. If I'm slow at times it is only because of the pressure of work.
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"We don't have to," I'd said when Roger suggested we go off to church together. We'd just had sex for the second time within a few hours and the idea of getting dressed and looking respectable as we went off to take part in a religious service seemed odd, to say the least, probably even sacrilegious.
But Roger prevailed and by eleven o'clock he and I were seated side by side in the souring Romanesque nave of St. John's on Adams Boulevard.
The service was wonderful. The music was so professional that it made me blush at the memories of the amateur, but well intended efforts of our choir at home.
I was surprised to realize that Roger knew his way thought the liturgy and went through the responses, prayers and the creed without ever looking at the prayer book.
The rector preached on a portion from the first reading, "The Lord said to Abram, `Leave your own country, your kinsmen, and your father's house, and go to a country that I will show you.'"
I expected he was going to say something about leaving the comforts of our routine life to strike out into the unfamiliar and uncomfortable. I'd heard him give a sermon on that theme the first time I'd been at St. John's and suspected it was one of his favorite topics.
To my surprise, however, he talked about a somewhat different aspect of the passage. He began by saying that the ancient Rabbis suggested that the passage meant that Abram was called to go into a strange land, but that it also showed us how we are to live each day of our life, in the expectation of new insight, new understanding, never allowing ourselves to become complacent, and never allowing ourselves to think that we understood God.
After the service we were approached by two women who had greeted me before. They invited us to join them in the parish hall for coffee, something I'd enjoyed on my previous visits. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when, as soon as we'd entered the hall, we were approached by Thomas Patterson, the older man with whom Roger and I had visited briefly at Dexter Cohen's party the previous evening.
I'd not remembered seeing him at St. John's before and had no idea he attended services there.
"Well," he said, coming over to us, "I'm glad to see you survived Dex's bash."
"Barely," Roger laughed.
"They can be a little exhausting," Patterson chuckled. His eyes darted from Roger to me, lingered a moment and then returned to make a closer assessment of Roger. Speaking directly to him, he said, "I understood you were only in town for a short visit."
"Yes, I'm flying back to Memphis this afternoon," Roger said.
"Memphis? I was told you taught at the University of Mississippi."
I was beginning to get the feeling that Roger had caught Patterson's eye and, I suspected, his interests were not just professional. It was clear Patterson had asked someone a lot of questions about him.
"That's right, but Oxford is too small for direct flights to and from LA. I'm heading to Memphis to see a friend for a couple of days, then drive on home from there."
"Ah," Patterson said, "excuse an old fellow's curiosity. I assure you, it's completely harmless."
"Quite all right," Roger laughed. "I'm flattered you'd be interested, but I do wonder why."
"Oh, it's just that I understand you're helping Peg Solanski with one of her current schemes. She and I have been friends for ever and I rather had a feeling I might be of some service."
"I suppose you know then that I'm flying to London in a few days to do a little undercover work for her."
"For Dex, too, I suppose."
"Mostly for Dex, actually, but he doesn't know that yet."
"Oh," Patterson almost purred, "I do love a little intrigue."
"Did Peg also tell you that I'm taking Rob here along as my aide de camp?"
"She did say he was going," Patterson said, looking me over again, "but I suppose I got a rather different idea of his duties."
I decided on the spot that I didn't like the man.
Fortunately, at that point we were joined by others, including the Rector, who visited a short while before Roger made our excuses and we got out of there.
"This young man seems to consume about four thousand calories a day and I need to get him fed before he goes limp on me."
It wasn't a wise choice of words.
"I simply can't imagine that happening," Patterson said with a wry smile.
With a general sense of discomfort on my part, Roger and I slipped away.
"What's with Patterson, anyway?" I asked when we were outside.
"Oh, I suspect he's just one more bitter old queen," Roger laughed. "They're all over this town, Rob, and you need to be careful. Most of them are just gossipy old betties but some of them can be spiteful."
"He gives me the creeps."
"I'll ask Peg if he's for real or just one of those old men who picks up a little stray information and tries make himself look important."
We reached my car and headed off for the Marina Del Rey, were Roger had made a reservation for lunch.
"I bet Patterson is just one more old guy on the make," Roger said as I pulled away.
"That much was obvious," I said, still annoyed at the man's overt ogling of Roger.
"Oh, I don't mean like that," Roger laughed. "I'd bet he's harmless. I just meant he's probably trying to get himself a little work."
We ate at a restaurant overlooking the water which had a huge Sunday buffet. It was one of the most sumptuous assortments of food I'd ever seen, and even though the Marina Del Rey was not nearly as developed in the early seventies became later, it was still an amazing sight. The marinas themselves were, to my inexperienced eyes, crowded with huge boats of every sort.
The buffet tables were grouped by the types of food served so there were specialized sections, one with seafood, one with a vast assortment of salads, still another area of deserts. At one side a man was making waffles and omelets to order and at another table a man was carving meats of various sorts. It was larger and more varied than the assortment than the food served at Cohen's pool party, but without the barbeque. Such restaurants have since become more common but I'd never seen such a vast array of food before.
Roger smiled at my amazement and said, "go get `em, kiddo."
By the time we left for LAX, I was stuffed. I knew I'd never want to eat again.
I'd not been back to LAX since the day I arrived in Los Angeles and that seemed like ages ago. I'd not been driving when I arrived, of course, so leaving Roger off was my first experience at navigating the huge elongated circle which served the various terminals.
Roger had said parking and going in with him was out of the question, which seemed odd to me but I soon saw what he meant. When we arrived at the appropriate departure area, I parked, not turning off the engine, and got out just long enough to open the trunk and help Roger unload his bags. He was traveling light and could easily carry his own baggage. We put has bags on the curb and he gave me a big hug.
"I'll see you in ten days or so, Rob," he said. "Peg will keep me posted on your passport and as soon is they have it in hand, they'll make our reservations."
"Okay, Roger," I said, feeling rather overwhelmed by the whole idea of going off to London with him.
"One more thing."
He leaned in and kissed me on the lips. It was a gentle kiss and it didn't last too long, but there was clearly passion behind it.
"I guess we wouldn't do that in Oxford, Mississippi, but I think here nobody will even notice."
I have to admit, I was shocked, so shocked I didn't really respond, but as he released me for his grasp and I couldn't help smiling. It seemed audacious of him, but despite myself, I was pleased.
As I looked around I was people surging around us and paying no attention at all. I found myself wondering how long it would be before two men could kiss in public in Mississippi and not risk getting run out of town on a rail.
"See you in a few days, guy," Roger grinned as he turned and left.
I stood there rather numbly, still recovering from the shock of Roger's kiss, as he went off into the terminal and was soon lost from my sight in the teaming masses.
"Excuse me, sir," I head a male voice saying, which brought me back to my senses. I knew I was going to get accosted for displaying wanton behavior in public. When I tuned around I was facing a cute young guy, probably about my own age. It took a minute longer for me to realize he was dressed in some sort of police or security uniform. "You'll have to move you car, sir. This is a restricted zone."
"Oh, yeah, sorry," I stammered as I circled the yellow Firebird, got in and headed back across the city toward Alvarado Court.
I'd not really gotten to know many of my fellow residents, although I did know a few of their names. Most of them knew my name and they seemed to be a friendly lot. As I walked through the pool area a few of them called to me, inviting me to join them for a swim and maybe "grilling the cow," later on.
I laughed, thanked them, but headed on up to my apartment, saying maybe I'd join them later. From what I'd seen the Alvarado Court pool parties tended toward a lot of beer and a lot of loud talk. Several of my fellow residents reminded me a lot of my brother Tim, his fraternity brothers and the girls they always had hanging around.
When I reached my apartment I phoned Nita. I'd told her I'd call on Sunday and this had been my first chance. I must admit I was sort of relieved when she didn't answer. After a few rings, her message machine clicked on with her prerecorded greeting. I left a short message saying I was sorry I'd missed her but would call again soon.
It had been too long and I'd had too much rich food since my last trip to the gym, so I decided to brave the weekend crowds and get in a good workout.
I'd fallen into the habit of washing my gym clothes as soon after a workout as possible, then just folding everything and putting it back in my bag, so it was ready whenever I wanted it. It therefore only took me a minute to run in and grab my bag and head out again.
As I went back by the pool, I got a few jibs about hurting myself with all that heavy lifting and how I shouldn't hang out at the gym so much. I laughed good naturedly and suggested, from the developing beer bellies on a few of them, they might do well to join me.
Ten minutes later I was walking into the ABS on Vermont and the first person I saw was Billy Bowen. I'd not seen him for a while and it was obvious that he'd made progress, both in honing his physique and in clearing up his skin.
"Hey, Billy, I said over the noise of the Sunday afternoon crowd, "you're looking great."
He beamed at my compliment and stuck out his hand. I reached for it but pulled him into a friendly hug and gave him a slap on his back. He was wearing loose gym shorts and one of those very loose sleeveless tops which had such deep neck and arm openings that much of his torso was revealed. As I held him to me I got a good look his shoulders and saw that, like his face, all of his skin which I could see was completely clear.
"Haven't seen you, Rob," he said, not so much as a criticism as a statement of fact.
"Yeah, Billy, too long," I said. As I worked my way through the crowd, he followed me. The locker room was less crowded and he sat straddling one of the benches as I pulled off my clothes.
"You been here long?" I asked as I removed my jockeys and stood there rather brazenly naked.
"Fifteen minutes," he said, obviously looking me over. "I was just waiting to use one of the machines, you know, warming up."
"Right," I said as I pulled on my jockstrap and adjusted my equipment. I did it slow, enjoying the fact that he was watching. Ballinger, you are truly a slut, I told myself. I could see from the hunger in Billy's eyes that he wanted me and I was playing it to the hilt.
"Man, Rob, you got a great tan."
"Yeah? Thanks." Of course I knew I had a great tan but I played it cool.
"No lines," he said.
"So where've you been sunbathing?"
"Oh, just here and there." I knew he wanted me to be more specific but I didn't say anything more.
"So maybe we could work out together."
"Great," I said as I pulled on my gym shorts and sat straddling the bench as I got into my socks and workout shoes.
"You know, spot each other."
"Yeah, Billy, sounds good." I grabbed my T-shirt, shut the locker, and we headed back into the workout area. I walked through the machines and headed toward the free weights. I was carrying my T-shirt, my upper body bare and a lot of eyes were following my progress. Billy was tagging along behind like a well trained pup.
"So, you ready to press some weight?" I asked when we'd laid claim to one of the benches.
"Sure, you go first."
I spread my T-shirt on the bench and stretched out, flexed my arms a little, did a few stretches and grasped the bar. It was loaded with a fifty and a twenty-five on each side so I pumped three easy sets of ten each and then let Billy take over.
"Take your top off, man," I said as he prepared to lie down. "I want to see how your anteriors are coming along." Billy pulled the loose fitting top off over his head and tossed onto an unused adjacent bench. He was looking fine.
He lay back and did a little stretching and then followed my lead, three sets of ten each with no trouble at all. I stood at the head of the bench watching his body as he worked the muscles of his chest. His abs were ridged can his legs were cut. It was also obvious, even in his loose workout shorts that his crotch was bulging. I had to admit that Billy was looking very appealing.
Gees, I thought to myself, get a handle on your libido, Ballinger. It hadn't been all that many weeks ago that I'd really considered Billy a charity case. Now with a little more definition and a lot better skin, I was responding to him like a bitch in heat.
Was it just gay guys who made such asses of themselves, or was it simple male sexual chemistry? I'd known Billy was a sweet guy from the first day I met him, but despite everything he did, every needy look he gave me, I'd kept him at bay.
It wasn't as if I'd not had plenty of sex. If anything, the weekend, first Nita and then Roger, had left me very well cared for. Yet there I was, panting over Billy's increasingly appealing body, a total slave to my hormones.
Billy left his tank top off as we continued our rounds of the weights. In about forty-five minutes we were pumped.
"Time for the sauna?" He asked as we headed back to the locker room.
"You bet," I grinned. I was looking forward to it.
We stripped and took a brief shower, just long enough to get the sweat off and our bodies wet, then, wrapped in fresh towels, we went into the big sauna, which on Sunday afternoon, was packed. The lower benches were full but we stepped over a couple of guys and took a perch on the highest bench. In less than a minute our bodies were drenched.
"Wow," Billy almost a groaned, "I won't be able take too much of this."
"I know," I agreed, loosing my towel so my crotch was exposed. My balls were hanging loose and my cock was extended to its full length, although not hard. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Billy was checking me out.
I leaned back against the wooden wall and took a few deep breathes, trying to come to terms with the overwhelming heat. As I sucked in the scorching air I felt as if my lugs were being seared.
A few minutes later one of the guys on the lower bench got up and left. Nobody was moving to take the empty space so I nudged Billy. It was too damn hot to speak.
"You take it," Billy whispered.
"No, go. I won't stay much longer anyway."
As he moved down and another guy moved over so Billy ended up right in front of me, his back almost between my legs. I looked down at his shoulders and could see a few shallow pock marks were old acne sores had been. Otherwise his body seemed completely clear of any current outbreak.
I tried to relax a little and let the heat work into my muscles but it wasn't long before I'd had all I could take. When I got up to go, Billy moved too, clearing the space below me so I could step down more easily.
We walked, still naked, toward the big shower stall but Billy made a quick detour to his locker and caught up with me a moment later, just as I was getting the water temperature adjusted.
As Billy came into the shower stall, the two other guys who'd been there when I arrived, turned off their showers and left. Billy stood back at the entry to let them go by. We had the place to ourselves, at last for the moment, but I thought it wouldn't be long before others from the workout area or the sauna joined us.
As Billy moved to the shower head just across the one I'd taken, he put a white plastic bottle on the little utility shelf.
"Are you still using the stuff for acne?" I asked.
"Different stuff. This is to keep the problem from coming back."
"You look great, Billy," I said, looking him over. "I don't see any pimples at all."
"Yeah, it's amazing. I'll need to use the new cream for a year or so, though."
"Do you use it like soap?"
"No, I put it on after I shower and just leave it."
"I'll be glad to help," remembering how I'd spread the heavy, medicinal cream over his shoulders and back once before.
"I was hoping you'd offer," he grinned.
"It's not just your skin being clearer, though," I went on as I lathered up my chest and arms. "You've obviously been working out a lot. You've made a lot of progress."
He was obviously pleased by my attention and a big grin spread across his cute face. As we both continued to lather and rinse, I took time to look him over carefully. He had become much more defined over the last few weeks but his chest and biceps could still use some bulking up. It was in his shoulders, I realized, that he'd really made progress.
He finished rinsing himself and turned off the shower and slowly and methodically dried himself.
My eyes traveled down over his smooth body to his cock. It was elongated but relaxed, just as mine was. He wasn't as big as me on any count, not quite as tall, certainly not as heavy. His cock and balls were smaller than mine, not abnormally small, but on the short end of average. Nice, though, I found myself thinking. His body was mostly smooth but he had a cute patch of light brown hair just above the base of his cock and a sparse trail of hair running up from it to his navel. Yep, nice, I thought, and then when he turned around I gave him a second look. If his front was fine, his back was definitely extraordinary.
Billy had an amazing ass, high and round and hard with narrow hips and waist. His tapered back widened as it went up until it was crowned by wide, muscular shoulders. His neck was thin, making his shoulders look even wider, capped by his head of short, light brown hair.
The guy was adorable, definitely fuckable, I found myself thinking.
"I'm ready now," Billy said, pulling me back to the moment.
"Yeah, sure," I said. He turned, handing me the lotion, and I realized my own cock was completely hard. His eyes slowly dropped, moving over my chest and down to my crotch, were they stopped.
I wanted to drop through the floor.
"Uh, sorry Billy," I stammered, reaching for the plastic bottle. "I guess the warm water and soap, you know . . . Stroking myself with a hand full of suds . . . Sorry," I said again.
"Yeah," Billy said, lifting his eyes from my crotch and giving me a shy smile.
He turned slowly, put his hands against the tile wall and leaned forward. He'd taken the position so I could spread the lotion over his shoulders and back, but he looked for all the world like he was presenting his ass to me.
I squeezed some lotion into the palm of my hand and moved toward him just as a couple of guys entered the shower stall and took the first two positions nearest the door. I tried to keep an eye of them and, at the same time, keep my own body turned so my hard cock wasn't visible from where they were standing. The guys were talking and I don't think they were really paying any attention to Billy and me.
As I moved forward to spread the lotion over Billy's back I had to be careful not to prod him with my hard cock. Under other circumstances that might have been an excellent idea, but not there in a public shower. My mind jumped back to the two guys I'd seen fucking in the showers at Dexter Cohen's party the day before.
Surprisingly, the lotion had a nice smell, not at all like the stuff Billy had used before. I moved a little closer and spread a light coating over his shoulders. They were hard, as I knew they would be, the muscles bunched under his soft skin. Billy's body was hot, really hot. I marked it off to a hard workout, the sauna, and the warm water of the shower, but as I spread the white cream over his body he shuddered and I realized part of his body heat was from no other source but pure sexual lust.
God, I wanted him!
I moved lower, spreading the white stuff in gentle circles until I reached his buttocks. It would have been nice to keep going, to spread the lotion over his rear, to work it into his crack, to finger his ass.
"Uh, Billy," I said, "how far do you want me to go?"
"That's good, Rob," he almost groaned, reaching back without turning, giving me a little nervous grin and taking the bottle from me. "I really appreciate you help." As I went back to my old position across the shower stall, he rubbed more or the lotion over his ass and then over his chest still facing away from me. When he`d finished he looked over his shoulder at me and said, "you interested in getting a burger or something?"
`Sure, Billy, but something light. I had a huge lunch."
As we went on to our lockers Billy stayed a few steps behind me. He held his towel loosely around his waist but it was obvious he was fully erect and the futile attempt at modesty did little to hide the fact. I was also nearly hard but had managed to loose part of my erection so my own towel was able to do a better job of covering my protrusion.
I kept reminding myself to be good, be responsible, be nice.
To be continued.