By John Yates
London Autumnwas the first story I posted on NIFTY, on June 8, 2001. This version was revised and reposted on July 14, 2003.
This story is a work of gay erotic fiction depicting sexual acts between consenting adults. If such stories are not to your liking or if you are not of legal age to read such stores in your jurisdiction, please exit now.
This is a work of fiction and in no way draws on the lives or any specific person or persons. Any similarity to actual persons or events is entirely coincidental.
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It was a damp September evening and my feet made dull marks on the wet pavement as I walked toward David's club. Then my footprints were quickly erased as the water flowed back, obliterating my steps and any record that I had passed that way. "Life's like that," I thought, looking back at the way I had come. We pass through a place, a time, we effect the lives of those whom we know, but in the long run, there is little or nothing to show that we have ever even been here.
A few special people, of course, leave their mark on the world, the writers of great books or the painters of great paintings. But for most of us, live is quite anonymous. I think when I first realized that, some five or six years ago, I was free.
I had come to London for three days of meetings and had stayed on after my work was done to renew my love affair with the city and , of course, to spend as much time with David as our schedules permitted. If he and I could not spend every minute together it would at least give me a catch up with a few other old friends and remind myself of anther time, another life.
I had spent three years in London in the late 60s and had been back for brief but frequent visits over the intervening years. The neighborhood where I had first lived in London, in a small flat on a quiet square off Gloucester Road, was amazingly unchanged. I had walked through the area just the day before. The area where I had worked, on the other hand, was unrecognizable. Newer taller buildings had replaced the old Victorian brick. Street names were all I had to go by and my orientation was confused.
David Winthrop was my closest friends thirty years ago, and one of the few friends from that time with whom I had really stayed in touch. We had written regularly over the years and, after our marriages, our wives had supplemented our contact with their own regular correspondence and the annual exchange of cards and presents at Christmas. Not only had our wives become friends but over years our entire families had become close. In many ways we are closer to the Winthrops than we are to some of our actual relatives.
We were their children's God Parents and they were God Parents to ours'. We always saw them when in England and David and his wife had visited us on four different occasions in the Unites States. And, of course, David and I got together every few months due to my frequent business trips to England. When I let him know he was going to be in London he had immediately arranged to also stay in town for a few days rather than go home to their place in the country each night He and his wife Bess now lived in a village near St. Albins, where they had recently bought a lovely old house, somewhat smaller than the one they had when their three children had been growing up, but far more elegant.
The day after my meetings ended David called to invite me to join him at his club at half passed six for drinks and then go on to dinner and a long evening of catching up. That gave me time to finish some shopping and make one last visit to my tailors, the same firm I had used all those years before and on most visits since. "Of course we have your patterns on file, Mr. Yates," they had said when I entered the small shop on Savile Row. The business of choosing fabrics was done in minutes and within a few days my order would be finished, in time for me to wear my new jacket on the flight home.
I left my hotel that evening and walked the short distance to Pall Mall. I wondered, as I walked toward David's club, if the damp streets were the result of some sudden shower. When I had returned to my hotel the streets had been dry. And now the sky was as clear as it had been an hour or so earlier. Droplets of moisture hung on trees and shrubs, glistening in the lingering light. England, in the early autumn, glows in the last long evenings. I felt as if I was a young man again.
My thoughts sped back over the thirty years since I first met David. By almost anyone's standards my life had been a success. I had made a real mark in the financial world and now enjoyed the fruits of my success. I had been married to the same woman for over twenty-five years and, again, by almost anyone's standards, it had been a happy and successful marriage. Joyce and I had raised two fine kids. Both Sharon and Todd were now through college and doing exciting and useful things. Perhaps our marriage had lacked a certain passion but both Joyce and I were content. At fifty-five I was still active in the companies I had formed and still enjoyed the bustle and rush of my professional life. Joyce was involved in a dozen different social and charitable activities and made a real contribution to the life of our community. To some, perhaps, our marriage lacked spark, but what marriage didn't after so long. We were happy together. And if I wasn't one of the chosen few who would leave some lasting mark on the history of the world, so what? I was happy, successful and loved.
My thoughts went back to David. He had been among the first men I had met when I arrived in London in 1968. He had been a "golden boy," newly down from Cambridge, where he had been a star athlete and a star scholar. When we first met he had a dozen young women after him and almost as many old City firms bidding for his talents and his name. He had made wise choices in both departments. Bess had brought beauty, grace, social position and financial connections.
Like Joyce and me, they, by all lights, had a happy marriage. On the professional side, David had joined a well regarded private bank, risen to be its senior partner and transformed it from a small English institution into a major player in the world of international finance.
As I entered the ground floor lobby of David's club I was greeted by a stern, elderly man, dressed as any proper English butler should be dressed, but if fact, few are. He asked me to sign the guest book and told me that Mr. Winthrop was awaiting me in the Members' Lounge.
I climbed the wide stairs from the entryway to the first floor and upon entering the beautiful room I was struck by my memories of it. Dark paneling, forest green carpets on which lay some warn but still lovely Oriental rugs, leather furniture and soft light all came together to say "privileged, established, Old England." At the far end of the room a well banked fire flickered in the huge fireplace. I knew many rooms in America which were designed to capture this atmosphere, and none which succeeded.
"John," David said when he saw me, "thank God you made it."
"I'm not too late am I?" not getting the point of his thanksgiving.
"Of course you're not, just so very glad to see you." He put his left arm around my shoulder and drew me into a close but careful embrace, all the while holding his drink in his extended right hand. "This is John Yates, Henry," he said, turning to the man with whom he had been talking. "John, this is Henry Wells, whom I have known almost as long as I've known you."
"My pleasure, Henry," I said as David discretely called a barman and asked if I was still drinking whiskey.
"Yes, please," I said, knowing that here whiskey meant Scotch. "A little water, no ice."
"Well," John chuckled, "I am glad to see you haven't lost your English ways."
"Only for your benefit," I teased him back, "at home I drink Bourbon with as much ice and water as the glass would hold."
He looked astonished for a second before his handsome face broke into a wide smile, "you are joking, of course."
"Yes, I'm joking. You taught me well."
"I should hope so," he said in a noticeably quieter voice as he led Wells and myself to chairs by the glowing fire.
"A fire in August, David? Are you British getting soft?"
"Only for show, John. I really think they do it for you Americans."
"Well, in any case, it is just the right touch. I was remembering as I came in what fond memories I have of this place, especially this beautiful room."
"Yes, the grand rooms on the first floor and the cramped bed rooms upstairs," he said, again with a knowing smile. "You do have fond memories of them as well?"
"Very fond memories, David," I said, wondering what our Mr. Wells was making of David's not too subtle comments.
David obviously read my thoughts. "Don't worry about Henry, John. He knows his way around the upstairs too. So," he said, changing the subject, "did your meetings go well?"
"Yes, thanks, very well."
"And I suppose we well be reading all about it in the Financial Times. Another big Anglo-American merger?"
"Well, you won't be reading `all about it,' but, yes, I think we will pull both of our economies up a notch or two."
"And put a million or so in your own pocket in the process, no doubt," David added with a smile.
"Not in my pocket, David. You know better than that."
"Quite. Wouldn't want to pay any unnecessary taxes on the proceeds. In one of your numbered Swiss accounts then."
"Switzerland lost its appeal when they started sharing records with the government guys. These days small offshore banks in small Caribbean republics seem to get a lot more of my attention."
"Well, don't forget to let me know if we can provide any assistance."
"Actually, I have already told one of my people to give you a ring on Monday. I think you could very well play a role."
"Well done, John. You have now officially made this a business meeting and assuaged my guilt, if I had any, of putting the tab on my expense account."
"Always glad to help."
Harry smiled at our comments and I got the impression he had heard it all before.
We sat back enjoying our drinks and the glowing atmosphere of the Members' Bar. I looked over at David and marveled again, as I had each time I had seem him over the last few years, at how handsome he was and how youthful he still seemed. His brown hair was impeccably groomed and shown in the soft light of the fire. His elegant suit accentuated his athletic body and I smiled knowing that it had been tailored by the same old firm I used.
"How long have you been friends," Wells asked.
"Oh, Harry, John and I have known one another for over thirty years. In fact, it will be thirty-one years this October," David responded. I knew he and I could both provide the exact date of our first meeting, if asked.
"I can't help notice how much the two of you are alike. You could be brothers, you know."
"You aren't the first to say so," David said. "John and I have always joked about being twins who were separated at birth, him to be shipped off to the Colonies and me kept here to be raised on the old sod."
"Well, not twins, Harry," I quickly added. "David is considerably older than me."
"Really, John, not fair."
"But true," I said with a smile.
"All of seventeen months," David said to Harry, "and John will never let me forget it."
"I wouldn't have known if you hadn't told me," Harry said, appeasing David's wounded vanity. "Your friendship seems to disprove the old adage about opposites attracting."
"Oh, opposites do attract," David said, smiling at me. "We are complete opposites."
"Well, not in appearance in any case. I will stand by my original observation; you could be brothers."
"And so we are, Harry, so we are," David went on, bestowing on me one of his most radiant smiles.
"Really, David," I said in a stage whisper, "you make it sound almost incestuous."
"Brothers in spirit, John, nothing incestuous about that. And I remember when we first met we put it about that we were cousins. Cousins can get away with a few things brothers can't."
Harry blessed us with a rather wicked smile and finished his drink. "Oh, I've known a few brothers who were amazingly close. But in any case, John, it has been a pleasure meeting you. I hope you two have a grand time catching up, but I must say good-bye. I'm meeting my wife for dinner in half an hour."
"Yes, Harry, it's been a pleasure. I will hope to cross paths again."
"Oh, you will, John," David commented. "If you do any business with us at Shield's you will probably run into Harry. He is one of our most favored clients."
With that Harry shook hands and was off, leaving David and me and the hovering waiter to settle the business of a second round of drinks.
We were silent for several minutes and I realized as I came out of my revere that David was staring at me as intently as I was staring at him.
"It's been too long, babe," he said, his voice low.
"Yeah, anything over a month is too long."
"I was beginning to think you didn't love me any more."
"Sure, David, after thirty years. You know better." It was our regular routine. He smiled and I reached out to touch his long elegant hand which draped over the lather arm of his chair.
"So how are Joyce and the kids?"
"Fine, but you know that. Joyce and Bess talked a week or so ago."
"Yes. Bess told me they were working on a plan to rent a house for all of us in the Bahamas for a couple of weeks just after Christmas."
"Yeah, but that's a long time off."
"Almost five months. I'm glad you were able to get over now."
"Me too," we were silent again, looking at each other then looking at the glowing embers of the fire. "So are we going to dinner?"
"I think we'd better. It may be a long night." David called the waiter over and signed for the drinks. I would get dinner.
We walked out into the damp evening air. The last of the day hung in the western sky as we walked through St. James Square. Neither of us had spoken, neither of us had asked where we would eat. We both knew and, as if on auto-pilot, headed toward Jermyn Street and "Époque." It had been our restaurant, our place, for almost as long as we had known one another. It is a small restaurant and not well known. But the food is always excellent and the atmosphere restful and quiet. We had known Jean, who runs the place, since he was a boy and his parents were in charge. We could go a year between visits and he would always greet us by name when we returned, always taking us without asking to the little table in the back left corner of the dining room. When we had, on occasion, been in with one or both of our wives, he arranged a table for us at the front by the window, knowing that the little table in the back was ours alone.
"Are you staying at the club," I asked as the waiter brought menus.
"Officially, yes. I took a room, of course, if only for appearance sake. But I assume we'll heading for your suite at Gray's."
"Those rooms at the club were wonderful when we were young but I think they seem a little small now."
"You never complained."
"No," I smiled and reached out for his hand. "Any harbor in a storm."
"And as I remember, we were often in a storm." His handsome face broke into a warm glow remembering.
"Storms of passion," I smiled again.
"Passion and lust."
"But it wasn't too long before all that subsided and we faced up to the fact that we were really in love."
"Thank God," he said, "I don't think I could have taken the first phase of our relationship much longer. It was exhausting."
"Exhausting but wonderful."
"What came later, when we knew we were really in love, that was wonderful."
"Yes, but the first few months were sheer madness."
"Yes," I whispered, "madness tinged with a kind of ecstasy I had never known before."
"Did we do the right thing, John."
"You always ask me that, David."
"And you always give me the same answer."
"What else could we have done?"
"Quite. No regrets but the `what ifs' still haunt me."
"Don't let them, David. We've had the best of both worlds. Not many people have been so fortunate."
"There are still those moments when I wake in the middle of the night and wonder what it would have been like to always have you there in bed by my side."
"I know," I added. "I walked into a museum in Boston a few weeks ago and saw a painting which just blew me away. My first thought was `oh, I want David to see this.'"
"But if we had stayed together, just the two of us," he paused and looked into my eyes as Jean opened and poured one of the fine reds he knew we loved.
"Could we, would we have stayed..."
"I knew what you were asking," I said, "and was answering you. Yes, we would have stayed together, and we would have had a wonderful life. But that isn't the way it was or is. I have Joyce and the kids, you have Bess and your family. And we still have each other. It really is the best of both worlds, David."
"I know," he said, his voice low and resonant. He inhaled the fragrance of the deep red wine and then put the glass down without sipping it. "But the questions are always there."
"If we had stayed together, David, never married, lived on here in London as a happy, aging couple, we would have had a very different life, but there would still have been questions, just different ones."
"I wish I had your capacity to just enjoy life and get on with it."
"Oh well, David, that's one of the things I love about you. You are my philosopher."
"Yes, for better or worse," and with that he caught Jean's eye and motioned him over. "So what are you going to feed us tonight, Jean? Something wonderful, I trust."
"Yes, Mr. Winthrop, we have a wonderful ragout. I think you will enjoy it."
"Excellent, Jean," then turning to me he asked, "John, what do you say?"
"Perfect, Jean, You couldn't have done better."
The evening passed slowly but neither of us seemed anxious to hurry it along. The food was wonderful and the wine a perfect accompaniment to the rich flavor of beef and herbs which dominated the ragout. It was followed by an excellent assortment of cheeses and fresh fruit. David and I lingered over coffee and cognac and reveled in the gentle joys of being together again. It was almost ten when we left the little restaurant to walk the short distance to my hotel.
When I was first sent to London as a young man, the firm I was with had been using Gray's for years, perhaps as long as the firm had existed. Gray's was what the British used to call a "Private Hotel," as opposed to the large commercial establishments. It had been in business and in the same family from early in the nineteenth century, and had changed little over the years I had known it. In the 1980s it had been acquired by one of the large British hotel groups which spent millions remodeling it. It still retained its nineteenth century charm but smaller rooms had been thrown together to form larger rooms and suits and crotchety old plumbing had been replaced with very elegant modern baths. Prices had, of course, quadrupled, but what in London hadn't. The restaurant still served roasted meats from a trolley and the bar was still much like a private club. In all my years of coming to London I had never stayed in another hotel. It had been my home for almost two months in 1968 before David helped me find flat. Despite the many changes over the years, the staff still knew me and seemed to regard my frequent returns as a genuine homecoming.
David stopped to talk with an old doorman who know us both while I went on to the desk to retrieve my room key. There were three messages but none that couldn't wait until Monday. We shunned the lift and mounted the stairs to the second floor, turning left along the narrow corridor to my corner suit. It consisted of a small setting room and a single bedroom with one large bed, not as large as an American "king," but quite generous just the same. Beyond the bedroom was a large bath with both a built-in tub and an oversize shower. In the opposite direction, off the living room was a small serving pantry and bar. The windows looked down into the narrow street which run along the south side of the hotel, and across it to a row of red brick buildings which had originally been private homes but were now commercial establishments and offices. Few could now afford to live in Mayfair.
"Drink, David?" I asked as I bolted the door behind us.
"No more, John. The brandy was all I need."
As I turned from the door David drew me into a close embrace. His lips met mine and we lingered there in the entry way, caught in a gentle, loving kiss. "God, John, I've missed you."
"Likewise," I managed to add in the brief second our lips parted.
"Let's shower together, like the old days."
"And then to bed."
"Yes, then to bed."
As we undressed in the bedroom, standing side by side, hanging our clothes together in the fitted cupboard. David turned to me with a sly smile on his face. His eyes moved down my body, clearly taking stock.
"You seem quite fit."
"You look pretty good yourself, bud."
"Working out a lot?"
"Of course. I know if I don't you will call me on it."
"Can't have my favorite body falling apart."
"It gets more difficult, though. I don't suppose you notice."
"Oh Lord. I wish I could say I didn't. Every year seems to bring some new challenge."
David swept his hand over my shoulders and down my back as I hung my trousers in the cupboard. When his hand reached my buttocks it rested there, gently stroking my sensitive skin.
"Shower?" I saw as he turned that he was already aroused.
We walked together into the bathroom and David continued to caress my back and buttocks as I adjusted the water. "Shall we?" I asked and stepped into the large shower enclosure. David followed, reaching behind him to close the glass door. Light from overhead reflected off the marble walls, a mottled brown not unlike the patina of aged bronze. Our bodies shown in the subdued light, glowing like a Rembrandt. David smiled at me, his body pressing against mine.
"You've got a beautiful tan," he whispered.
"Look at yourself," I said. "I think the designers chose the marble for these bathrooms to flatter the guests.
"You're right," he said, looking at his own extended arm. "Nice touch."
"You know Gray's. They do everything they can to make your stay memorable." I put my arm around his body and drew him to me. We fit together well, had done for thirty years. The warm water flowed over us as his mouth found mine. "Yes, very nice touch," I whispered as our lips parted for a second. Our hands moved over one another with a growing urgency, lathering up the wonderful English scented soap, rinsing it away under the torrent.
Clean, refreshed and moving toward passion, we dried ourselves and each other and went along, still naked and damp, to the large bed, which had been carefully tuned down by the evening maid.
"Want my mint?" I asked David, tossing the candy across the bed to him.
"I had something else in mind."
"You don't want to suck on a candy?"
"A sweet, John, remember where you are."
"A sweet then,"
"Yes, I was thinking about sucking on one, just not a mint."
We met in the middle of the cool bed, our bodies rolling together as if they had never been apart.
David pulled me over on to him, my body pressing down on his from lips to toes, hard, throbbing together in the warm press.
"God, I missed you," David whispered as his tongue did magical things to my ear.
"I know, me too."
His hand crept down my back, found the mound of my buttocks and pulled me still closer against him. Our conversation moved beyond words as our mouths were too occupied to speak and our bodies found their own language. I moved down a little so I could kiss his chest, seeking, probing, teasing, inflicting just a little pain with my teeth. David moaned. I knew he loved it when I did that.
His hands roamed over my back and shoulders as I slid still further down, found him swollen and throbbing and took it into my mouth. David tasted like David, the first man I had ever known, the only man I had ever known in the intimacy of complete abandonment, and the only man I had ever loved.
As my lips slipped down over him I had a momentary flash of wonder. Could I do this? Could I still do this? I remembered the first time I had taken him into my mouth, driven by love and lust and trembling with fear. He was large, not gigantic, but big, and it seemed impossible that I could take him all the way into my mouth, down into my throat as he and already done for me a dozen times. In those first encounters, over thirty years ago, he had taken me to levels of pleasure I had never previously known and he had never asked me to do the same for him. He was infinitely patient, just loving me and letting me find my own way. I had wanted to for days before I finally tried. That first time, when he pushed against the back of my mouth, nudging the entry to my throat, I had gagged badly, almost to the point of retching. "Easy, lover," he had whispered, "you have to take it very slowly."
I had tried again, slower the second time, letting my throat get used to the idea of his presence. I had swallowed just as I pushed down on him again and felt the satisfaction of him slipping deeper into me. It had seemed so natural once I knew the way.
But now, away from him for over five months, I felt inept again. He hit the back of my mouth. I didn't gag. I opened to him a little and he was in, deep in my throat, my lips pressing against him, nuzzling him, feeling him pulse deep in me. It's a little like riding a bike, I thought, the body remembers even when the mind doesn't. I held him deep in me, not sucking but letting my tongue massage the under-side of his beautiful shaft. Like riding a bike, I thought, or using a computer keyboard. Once, when my daughter was about eight or nine and trying to teach herself how to type, she had come to me and asked where the "P" was located. I couldn't remember. Yet when I sat down at the old typewriter she was using, my right little finger shot out to the "P" without prompting. The body remembers such skills when the mind fails us. Making love to David was much the same. I found myself and him falling into the old familiar patterns, his hand sliding over my shoulders, moving up to the back of my head, his fingers combing and then twisting my hair, all the things he had done a thousand times before.
"Oh, John," he whispered. I knew he was close. He always came quickly the first time. I wanted him to come and made no attempt to hold him back. Once he had gone over the edge the first time he would be able to slow down and make the kind of slow, leisurely love to me that I so longed for with him.
I felt him quiver in my throat and backed off until only the head was in my mouth, resting on my tongue. Then the torrent came, pulsing again and again with the familiar taste of his seed.
He whispered again, "I love you so."
I remembered the first time, over thirty years ago, that we had made love. When, I should say, David made love to me.
I had gone to his little room at the club, knowing what he wanted, wanting it too. I was afraid, not sure if I could do it. I had never had sex with a man.
"You're new at this, aren't you?" he had asked.
"Completely," came my whispered response, "and a little scared."
"Don't be. If you want it," he had said, "just relax and let me do it." He had led me to the bed and sat beside me. He put his hand behind my head, ran his fingers through my hair and then gently pulled me to him, causing my head to rest on his shoulder. He made no attempt to kiss my mouth, I think he guessed I wasn't ready for that. But his lips moved slowly over my temple and ear, just brushing against my skin and sending shivers through my body.
I had known him then for about six weeks and had been attracted to him from the day we met. He was so self assured, so confident. He moved with the strength of an athlete and the grace of a dancer.
Everything he did was done with elegance and style. When he entered a room all eyes turned in admiration and he responded to both men and women with a kindness and courtesy which could only be called courtly. I realized that when I was with him, I too, was treated with special deference. It was as if his sense of self was contagious, transferable to me when I was in his company. People said we looked alike and asked if we were related, if we were brothers. David always smiled and said I was his colonial cousin, which was not true, but was accepted as fact. To this day I am often introduced as "David Winthrop's American cousin," and I never object or correct. In certain circles in both Britain and America it has been accepted as truth. If nothing else it is an easy explanation for our intimacy.
He knew everyone of consequence and yet he treated the most esteemed and the most lowly with the same kindness, indifferent to the structured nature of British society.
I had come from a prominent and successful family. My father was an attorney and my grandfathers and uncle were doctors. But social rank in my Midwestern American culture was more a matter of affluence and profession than of inherited position. Needless to say, I was somewhat overwhelmed by David and his friends.
Sexually, I was experienced with women but not with men. My university days had been devoted to the hard work earning good grades. Although I had belonged to one of the more prestigious fraternities, there had been little time for social activities. The one claim on my structured schedule which I had allowed myself had been to keep in good physical shape. I high school I had run track and swam on our modest team. When I was sixteen my coach had introduced me to weight training and I had continued it thorough my four years at college, honing my body to a lean perfection in which I took considerable pride. Both David and I still make an effort to keep in good shape.
When David and I met in the autumn of 1968, I had just arrived in London. I and was working as an international accounts manager at "B.R.G.," a large and successful New York based commodities brokerage house with offices in London and half a dozen other cities. The company was later absorbed into on of the great multinational corporations. It was the first merger I worked on. But in 1968, the London assignment was a prestigious position for a young man like myself with no credentials other than an new MBA from a well regarded university. I turned twenty-four that November and was out to conquer the world.
David was just a year and a half older than me, actually seventeen months older as he was quick to remind me. He had done a first at Cambridge and stayed on to complete a masters before coming down to London with a pocket full of offers.
We had become close friends from our first meeting. He told me later how attracted he had been to me, to my "American freshness," which I would have called naiveté. With his connections and charm we had gone together to every significant social event of the season. My standing at B.R.G. was improved considerably by my sudden social prominence.
The second week I was in London David had taken me to his "sports club" in Bloomsbury north of the University of London and the British Museum. He had insisted on signing me up as a new member. The place was Spartan, very different from his elegant social club in Pall Mall. Its facilities were primitive by American standards, even in the 1960s, but there was an exercise room with adequate and rarely used weight training equipment. I quickly learned that in aristocratic England the emphasis was clearly on sports, or "games," as David explained, and not on physical training, per se.
But as David insisted on introducing me to appropriate English sports, I insisted on introducing him to weight training. The results were mutually beneficial. I hadn't been exercising since I had arrived in London and my sloth was beginning to show. With David's insistence I learned to love handball and tennis and even managed to become a decent cricket player, which made me something of a celebrity, the rare American who even understood the game. David, on the other hand, honed his already fit body into anatomical perfection.
I couldn't help watch with pride the progress David made in an amazingly short period of time as we worked out together two or three times each week. Our routine was always more or less the same. We would meet after work and play handball or tennis. Afterward we would work out in the weight room, pushing each other to new levels week by week. Then we would stand under the steaming water in the in the grim old shower room, letting the hot water pummel our tired bodies.
The first time I saw David naked I was surprised by several things. He was beautifully fit, but that I expected. But, in addition, his skin was of a rather darker tone than I would have expected of someone with rather light brown, or dark blond hair. He certainly had none of that gray, pasty coloring so common among the sun starved British.
Secondly, I was surprised by his surprising lack of body hair. There was a little under his arms and a small pubic patch and that was about all. His body hair was all of the same burnished golden color as the lightest highlights on his head.
Then the second or third time we were alone together in the large six man shower David surprised me further by openly producing a razor from the little waterproof bag he had brought along and shaving his scrotum and the area behind it. When he saw my look of curiosity, if not surprise, he had laughed and said, "hold over from my school days."
"When I was thirteen I fagged for an upper form boy. He was his form's proctor, actually. He rather liked younger boys and when I began to grow a little more body hair than he liked he showed me how to shave and trim it."
"And you've kept it up?"
"Yes. Does it shock you?"
"Yes, I guess. A little, anyway."
"Well, as the shepherd said, `don't kick it till you try it.' I find it very pleasant and it certainly improves the sensitivity."
It was also during those first showers as well as when we were changing together that I noticed David was often looking me over with considerable attention. At first I took his frequent scrutiny to be just a mark of his friendship and his interest in my improving physique, but as it continued I began to wonder if his interests in me were, perhaps, not entirely chaste. I had heard many stories about homosexuality in British society, stories about the culture of boys' "Public Schools," of which David was very much a product. His comment about "fagging" for an older boy added further credence to such thoughts. I wondered about his interests but said nothing, realizing that my own attitudes toward David were very mixed, and to me, very confusing.
While David approved of Gray's as a proper hotel for a "rising financial magnate," he considered it, at best, a temporary residence. He insisted on helping me find a furnished flat at an acceptable price in an acceptable neighborhood. The weekend I moved from Gray's to my new abode, David had managed everything. He even arranged the loan from his mother of a few pieces of very elegant furniture and some very good pictures which made the flat seem suddenly elegant. I said he was doing too much.
"Nonsense," he had said, "I expect to be spending a good bit of time here myself," and had given me a rather knowing glance. I hadn't quite known what to make of his comment and was even more confused when he added, quite casually, "some very pleasant days and even more pleasant nights." It had been the first time that David had made any comment which could be regarded as sexual and I was completely caught off guard by it. But as confused as I was by his somewhat suggestive comment, I couldn't help but think about it. The first few nights I lay alone in my large, new bed, I thought about David being there with me. On at least two occasions I woke in the throws of very erotic dreams in which he played prominent roles.
The following Friday as we were leaving his club for a dinner party a few streets away , he asked me what I had planned for the following day. "Some shopping is all," I'd said.
"Good. I'm taking you to lunch and then the rest of the day is mine."
I had met him on Saturday, as instructed, at his club for lunch. Afterward we walked to the National Gallery. I had been there several times before on my own and knew the general layout of the imposing building. He had guided me through the great Renaissance rooms and on to a more modest gallery containing a group of small and very elegant seventeenth century drawings. We had crossed from the cool, analytical style of the Renaissance to something much richer and more lush. David motioned toward a drawing by Poussin as he sat on a long, low bench and patted the space beside him, indicating that I should join him. The room was small, compared to the large galleries we had traversed, and we had the space entirely to ourselves. The room seemed to be off the main track so far as the large weekend crowds were concerned and even thought we sat there for at least half an hour, our privacy was never violated.
"Tell me what you think of that drawing," David said, gesturing toward the picture directly in front of us.
"It's very beautiful," I said, not feeling confident to make a more detailed analysis.
"Of course, it's beautiful. But tell me what you see."
I looked again at the picture, realizing how much detail had been packed into the subtle composition of dark line on ivory colored paper. "Well," I began, "I see two young men reclining by the side of a lake. Or perhaps it's a stream."
"Bugger the stream," David almost growled, "tell me about the two young men."
I looked more closely and saw that the youth on our left was looking up into the sky or the overhanging branches of trees. His right hand shaded his eyes. The youth on our right was turned slightly to his right and was looking intently at his companion. In the small space between their almost nude bodies their hands were clasped. Both young men were covered by only the most scant fabric drape which clung to their muscular bodies revealing every detail of the covered parts. Their exposed torsos were muscular and beautifully delineated. I realized at once what David wanted me to see.
"They're in love."
"Damn right they are," he said, his voice now a low, rich whisper which seemed to emanate from deep in his chest. "And I, for one, don't see a thing wrong with it."
"No, nothing wrong," I said, my voice equally soft, just above a whisper. How could I argue with what was so clearly a fact. And as I responded I realized that David's hand had moved across the smooth wood of the bench to grasp my own, mirroring the position of the figures in the drawing.
We sat there frozen in time for what must have been several minutes. My eyes moved over the drawing, absorbing its detail. To this day I can remember it, my memory assisted, no doubt, by the fact that the following Christmas David gave me a beautifully framed etching based on the original drawing. It is still one of my most prized possessions. I saw how the artist had rendered the taut muscles of the youth on the right, his body tensed and ready to respond to any movement his companion might make. The figure on our left was relaxed, acquiescent.
When I turned from the drawing to face David I saw that he had not been looking at the picture, but at me. His face melted into a gentle smile and then he said, softly but with considerable force, "tonight we are going to have supper at the club and then I am going to take you up to my room and make love to you."
I didn't protest. There was nothing to protest.
We had gone on to the sports club that afternoon, where David and I had played a hard, driving, aggressive round of handball. I had never seen him so determined to win. Afterward we had stood facing each other in the Spartan shower. It had been a busy day at the club and the hot water supply must have been nearly exhausted. We stood under the showers feeling the barely warm water pour over our hot bodies. Every time I looked up I found David with a slight smile on his face staring very openly at me, his eyes expressing a kind of hunger, moving over my body. I couldn't help becoming very aroused.
Later, back in Pall Mall, we had shared a wonderful meal. David had ordered in advance and everything had been chosen with great care. It was a light meal, cold roasted pheasant and hot roasted potatoes, a very dry white wine and a salad of wild greens and raw mushrooms. Afterward we had sat by the fire in the Members' Bar and had coffee and brandy. "Desert will come later," David had said.
And so, at about ten o'clock that Saturday evening in late November, 1968, I had found myself alone with David in his little room on the third floor of his stayed old club in Pall Mall. He had rummaged in the drawer of the bureau and produced a couple of candles and some matches. Neither of us smoked so it was good the matches were provided. He put the candles in a pair of little stands, lit them and then turned off the electric lights. The room took on a soft glow with the flickering light. "Every hotel or club bedroom in Britain has a couple of candles," he said, answering my unasked question.
"Yes, I found some in a drawer at Gray's. In case of power outages, I supposed."
"I think it's a holdover from the War," he responded, "part of our collective British conscience." I knew he was making small talk, giving me time to settle down, time for my nerves to settle.
He led me to the bed where we sat, rather primly, side by side. It was obvious to David that I was very tense and he did nothing to alarm me. He pulled me to him and I found my head resting against his shoulder. His lips moved gently over my ears and neck and his warm breath caused my whole body to pulse in anticipation and not just a little apprehension. He made no move to kiss my lips, knowing I wasn't ready for that.
"Just relax," he had said, "and let me do it."
As he continued to caress my neck and ears, I raised my arms and placed them around his shoulders, gently pulling him to me. It took an effort, an act of will on my part to even manage that simple gesture. But it was all the encouragement David needed. He pulled back a little and slipped his hands under the lapels of my jacket, sliding it off in one smooth movement and tossing it over to a near-by chair. Over the next few minutes, with gentleness and care, every article of clothing I wore was transferred from my body to that chair, accumulating in a rumpled pile. When I was completely naked, David put his hands on my shoulders and gently pushed me back against the pillows. Only then did he stand. He rearranged my clothing, folding my trousers and placing them over the back of the chair with care. He hung my shirt and tie on one side of the chair and my jacket on the other. He folded my boxer shorts and lay them on the chair cushion. My shoes and socks he placed in prim order beneath it and then turned and began the slow, erotic process of removing his own clothes. I had never seen a man undress with such sexually charged grace. As I watched him I became fully aroused and at one point could not resist reaching out to grasp myself.
"No," he said, "no touching."
I let my hand fall back to my side.
When he was completely nude he sat on the side of the bed and his hands began to move over my outstretched legs, messaging, and caressing them. My body felt electrified by his touch and as yet there was nothing overtly sexual about it. Slowly, very slowly, my body relaxed. My muscles uncoiled and my breathing slowed to something approaching normal. Yet my penis remained completely erect, hard to the point of being painful.
When David touched me, when his hand reached out and took my penis in his hand, it was a deliberate act. There was nothing tentative about it. He stroked it several times, looking from it to my face, holding my eyes with his gaze.
"God, John, you are so beautiful."
"Rather vain on your part," I whispered.
"How do you mean?"
"Well, David, everyone comments on how alike we are. You say I'm beautiful. Aren't you saying you're beautiful as well?"
He didn't answer. His lips had found the crown of my penis and moved over it.
"How could this get any better?" I thought as the sensual threshold moved up another several notches.
David's lips were moving down over my shaft, slowly engulfing it, consuming it. As his lips pressed down into the cushion of my pubic hair I gasped, both for the pleasure he was giving me and from sheer amazement that he had taken the entire length of me into his mouth and beyond, deep into the tight, hot, moist confines of his throat.
My entire body went into a kind of sensual overload. I knew it was the beginning of the most powerful orgasm I had ever experienced but it was unlike anything I had ever known. I wanted to warm David that it was coming but I found I was incapable of speech. It crossed my mind that I should tell him. He surely didn't intend to take my seed into his mouth. But the only sound I was capable of making was a kind of deep, rumbling moan which seemed to begin in the depths of my chest and move out of me in ever direction. My body seemed to have been frozen in a powerful catatonic seizure. I could not move. Then a quaking began which seemed to shake my very soul. It jolted through me, making every muscle in my body clench and spasm. And then it was too late to speak. It seemed as if the very essence of myself was flowing from me into David in massive jolts.
When it passed I collapsed against the pillows, shaking a little like an athlete when the race is over. It was several minutes before I returned to any sense of reality.
David drew the last drops of my essence from me. His warm hands moved up over my stomach. He reached my chest and then brought his own body up over mine, stretching himself out over me so that we touched at every point, legs to legs, stomach to stomach, chest to chest. His lips caressed my neck and then he rested his weight on me and I felt more loved than I had ever felt before in my entire live. My arms went around him, drawing him still closer to me.
I think we both slept. When I was again conscience it was with an instant clarity and with a kind if happiness which seemed to permeate my entire being. The candles had long since burned out and the room was very dark. A slight gray light crept in from the heavily draped windows. David's body moved against mine but he was clearly asleep. I managed to move just enough to pull the bed covers up over us and then I slept again, not wanting to disturb him, not wanting to lose the pressure of his body against mine.
Sometime later David stirred. I woke and realized that the dull, English, November dawn had come. And with it I realized that everything had changed. I could only begin to fathom the difference the past night had made but I knew that I would never be the same again. My friendship with David would never be the same again. The world around me and my relationship with it was so jolted by the new reality that I could do nothing to make sense of it. All I could do was acknowledge that the monumental change had occurred.
The day that followed, a Sunday, was full of new marvels and new joys. David treated me with a gentleness which convinced me of his love with more certainty than his words could ever have done. He would let me do nothing to pleasure him, insisting on bringing me again and again to such peaks of ecstasy that by the end of the day my body was as exhausted as my mind was overloaded with the new reality of my existence. And despite my apprehensions, my fear of being queer, there was nothing about it which was effeminate. I never felt more fully a man; a man loved by another man, cherished, adored.
Every time I reached out to touch him, to caress him, to attempt in some way to give David some small degree of pleasure in return for all he was giving me, he would stop me, taking my hand and moving it away. "Later," he would whisper, "not now. Now just let me love you."
And so our love had begun. David had been the consummate lover. I could not imagine anyone, man or woman, who could have been more giving, more anxious to please, more patient or more kind.
Later, in the weeks that followed, David taught me the ways of love. He showed me what gave him pleasure by doing to me the things he would have me do to him. It was instruction without words, an education of the senses.
And so, on a September night earlier this year, almost thirty-one years after it all began, David lay snug against me in my suite at Gray's. And I marveled again, as I do each time we are together, that this beautiful man was my lover and my closest friend.
He stirred a little and I knew he was rousing. His warm hand slipped over my naked skin, finding my soft penis and slowly stroking it to its full hardness. I moaned and rolled over onto my back, spreading my legs for him. David lips found mine and we kissed, deep and long, exploring, thrusting, claiming the other for our own.
In so many ways David knew my body more intimately than I knew it myself. As we continued to kiss, his hands moved over me, finding spot after spot which only he knew, little junctions of nerve endings which he could play to full effect. His lips left mine and moved down along my chest, bringing each nipple to full attention, exploring the rifts and valleys of my chest and stomach as my body rose and fell beneath his touch. He came at last to my hard penis and devouring it. It was his way of taking, claiming, possessing me, and I never ceased to be surprised. One moment his moist lips hovered over the pulsing tip and the next the full length of me was embedded in his throat.
I cried out in pleasure, knowing David would not let me slip over the edge. He held me firmly, his powerful arms forcing me back down onto the bed. Then after a minute or more of his sweet torture, his mouth left me as suddenly as it had taken me and moved down with a slow, deliberate pace over my smooth balls and enter thighs. His hands spread out under my legs and he lifted them off the bed, forcing them back against my chest, exposing my most private parts to him. No access was denied, no part of me withheld. His mouth moved over the Pilgrim's Path, as David called it, stopping to caress, to bite, and most of all, to reclaim each part of me as his own. His mouth found my nether gate and surrounded it. While his lips formed a barrier against the world, his tongue began the probing which would open me to him.
I moaned in pleasure, the pleasure which caused my whole body to shudder, and the greater pleasure of the mind and soul, the pleasure of being possessed and loved. As his tongue was joined by a finger and then two, I opened to him, longing for him to come into me with the fullness of his manhood.
"Now, David, now."
"Soon, lover," he whispered as a third finger entered me, opening me more fully.
"Oh, David, please fuck me. I want your cock, not just fingers. I need your hot, wet cock."
David moved up over me, positioning his body over mine, his throbbing cock finding its goal, ready, pulsing against my ass. He supported himself over me, his muscular arms either side of my chest. His cock pushed forward, the bulbous head pushing against me, slipping past the ring of my ass and he was in me, back in me as I always longed for him to be. My body arched off the bed, impaling myself on him, forcing him deeper into me.
"Oh, yes, David," I moaned.
He pushed forward, slowly, inch by inch, until the entire length of him was in me. When he could go no deeper, he lowered his body onto mine. I reveled in his weight on me. His mouth found mine and our tongues began their old, familiar dance. With David and me there was never an issue of dominance and submission. We were both comfortable with both roles and neither of us could understand how any gay or bisexual man could not, sometimes at least, want to be submissive to his partner, especially, if as with David and me, there was real abiding love and affection and caring between them.
David and I were as joined as two mortals can be. His cock throbbed deep in my welcoming ass, our tongues flitted and probed from one mouth to the other. The length of our torsos was pressed together so that I could feel his heart beat and he, mine. With my arms and legs I drew him to me.
Slowly at first, David thrust into me.
"Yes," I moaned.
David slowly increased the tempo of our lovemaking with his usual mastery. He paced both himself and me, bringing us close to the threshold, then backing off just enough to allow us to stay just short of the ultimate climax. And so our passion continued, building, slowing, building again, until after nearly an hour, David pushed us both over the edge. I felt my own climax building and his with me. We crossed the edge, went through the door and then it was upon us. My body was racked by the building explosion, shuddering to a screaming climax as David also pulsed his love deep into the very center of my being.
It was a slow process of coming down from the euphoria of our climax. David rolled off of me, snuggled beside me and we drifted off to sleep, wrapped in each other's arms.
At some point in the gray early hours before dawn I was aware of David leaving the bed and then returning.
"Lover," he whispered, slowly waking me. "I will have to go soon but before I leave I want you to fuck me."
I was awake in an instant, my hands moving over the firm ripples of his chest. He pulled me over him, the weight of my body on his.
"I lubed my ass. Don't mess around. Just get your cock in me."
Reaching down between us I felt for his hole as he lifted his legs to encircle my hips. I found my target and pushed in, quickly, hard, thrusting, knowing he loved it that way.
"Yes," he moaned, "yes."
I was merciless, bestial. I rammed into him with increasing force, increasing speed. There was no gentleness, no subtleties, no attempt to prolong our pleasure. We were animals in the throws of lust, male, brutal, possessive. My body pounded into him as his rose to meet mine.
It was over as quickly as it had begun. I felt the blast as I erupted into him and his own seed pulsed out, trapped in the close space between our bodies. We lay there panting like runners and I knew my weight was making it hard for him to breath. But when I tired to roll off him he held me to him, not willing for our bodies to separated.
We dozed a little but it wasn't long before the day found us and we had to rise. We showered together and dressed in our well cut, conservative clothes. David borrowed a fresh shirt and underwear. Our sizes were the same.
Over a typical English breakfast in the hotel dining room we read the Times and talked about the market. Anyone seeing us would have taken us to be two typical, affluent, stodgy businessmen. Perhaps we are.
I walked him out to find a cab. We shook hands and said good-bye and as we did so, he smiled his wonderful smile and winked. It was our private language. It meant "I love you," but it also meant so much more.
"Well, John," he said as he got into the cab, "I'll look forward to seeing you in the Bahamas."
"Yes," I said, "just after Christmas. My love to Bess."