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This story is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people, living or dead, is entire a coincidence. As the author, I retain all rights to this story, and it cannot be reproduced or published without explicit consent from me. This work is copyright © 2014 by Steven Wells.
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John's Journey Forward
"Are you guys busy next Saturday?" I asked.
"No, why?" Kerry asked.
"We want to invite you two to join us for dinner at our apartment," I suggested to Manuel and Kerry. "You haven't seen our place yet!"
"We'd love to!" Manuel enthused. "What time and what can we bring?"
"How about 7 pm and nothing," I added.
"We will be there promptly at 7!" Kerry responded.
"And, Noel," Manuel began. "We are really, really proud of you! We know you are going to be very successful. For a firm like Haney Dawson to even think of hiring you is a compliment to your talent!"
"Thanks," Noel said quietly. "It means a lot to me that you are excited for me... and for John, too!"
After a few more pleasantries, we ended the call.
"That felt good!" Noel admitted to me. "Now, we have a little time before we need to get dinner ready. I was hoping my boyfriend would be interested in some serious kissy face and body ravaging! That would feel even better!"
Chapter 07: One Down, Another to Go
Saturday arrived and Noel and I busied ourselves preparing dinner for his brother Manuel and sister-in-law Kerry. On Saturday morning, we do the shopping at the grocery shopping, liquor store shopping, and finally dessert shopping at a local bakery, Flour.
"This is sort of exciting," I told Noel as we pulled out the ingredients for the main course. "We are hosting our first gathering at our apartment!"
"I know!" Noel responded. "I only wish it could be more inclusive of our families."
"Another time, sweetie," I reassured him. "We will make things better at some point. We just need to take our time and let things work out on their own."
We continued working on the meal. Our main course was a simple sirloin tips in a mushroom sauce that Noel had found online. We were roasting the cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini. The sirloin tips was to sit atop a sundried tomato risotto. As Noel cut the vegetables for the salad, I started on the crab dip appetizer. We cleaned the kitchen and sat at the sofa with a glass of wine before our guests arrived.
"This has been a fun day, boyfriend," Noel admitted. "It's been nice working together in the kitchen. I didn't know it could be so much fun to cook with the man you love!"
"I've enjoyed it, too!" I effuse. "We will need to do this more often. Maybe we can even do a joint family thing if everything goes well!"
"Don't count your chickens, John!" Noel said as he took another sip of wine. At least he was smiling. "I am still not looking forward to telling my mother about: One, being gay. Two, having a boyfriend. And, three, being HIV positive. I think she will send off rockets when she hears the news!"
"At least your brother will be helpful," I told Noel. "I am guessing that you will be able to tell your other brother at some point, too."
"I think Jorge will be okay with the news," Noel answered about the time to doorbell rang.
When we opened the door, we were greeted by a package laden Manuel and Kerry.
"We come bearing gifts," Manuel announced. "There is a housewarming gift, a congratulations on the new job gift, and a thank you for having us over gift. And, so you both know I haven't turned totally daffy, this was all Kerry's idea."
Kerry pulled us both into a hug as Manuel set the gifts down in the hallway, "You two look terrific! And, Noel, I have never seen you happier!"
Once Manuel had deposited the gifts on the floor, he, too, hugged us both, "We are so excited to be here!" Manuel turned to Noel, "I told our mother that we were joining you two for dinner at your apartment tonight. She was full of questions. She was certain that we would starve tonight because, as far as she knows, you can't even boil water."
"She didn't go ballistic?" Noel asked.
"No," Manuel answered. "However, I think Kerry and I will be questioned extensively tomorrow about your well-being."
"Just tell her I am a fat Hispanic pig now," Noel told his brother as he smiled. "She would like nothing better than for me to be as big as she is! Now, what would you like to drink?"
"White wine," Kerry suggested.
"Beer," Manuel responded.
"Coming up!" I said as I headed into the kitchen to get drinks.
Noel and I had set out cheese and crackers and the crab dip with veggies for dipping. When I brought out the drinks, we took seats on separate sides of the coffee table.
"While we are getting a buzz on, why don't you open your gifts," Manuel suggested. "I can't wait to see what Kerry picked out for the two of you!"
"He was part of the decision making process," Kerry said.
Manuel handed us the packages in the order to be opened. "First, we have the congratulations on the new job gifts. There is one apiece. And, you two can fight over which one you like better!"
Noel went first. Paper flew as he unwrapped a black Fossil workbag. "This is nice! Not too big. Not too small. And, it's a great color—black! Thanks, guys!"
"Your turn, John," Kerry gave me the go ahead to open my gift.
"You didn't need to get me anything, guys!" I said as I slowly removed the wrapping. "Perfect!" It was a bag just like the one they had given Noel, except it was dark brown. "Now, I can be like a real professional and not carry everything I own in a backpack! Thanks!"
"We thought you might like these," Kerry added. "We looked at leather ones, but Manuel suggested these because they will withstand the wear people give the bags."
"Now, the housewarming gift!" Manuel said as he handed a somewhat large package to both Noel and me. "If it were you, bro, it would be bricks. But, since John is in the picture we decided on something more practical."
"Thanks for the warning, bro," Noel answered. "John, do you want to do the honors?"
"Nope," I answered. "You do it!"
"Okay," Noel said as he ripped the tissue paper out of the bag. "Holy shit! Champagne flutes! Waterford, no less! Ours are from the Dollar Tree!"
"They go with this," Kerry added as she handed me the last bag.
I took the paper out of the bag, "Domaine Chandon Brut! And, it's cold! I think we need to pop this baby open!"
After we finished hugging Manuel and Kerry, Noel and I quickly washed the champagne flutes and opened the bottle. Once we each had a glass of champagne, Kerry offered a toast. "Here's to the two of you! May you live long and prosper. You two look so, so happy together! Don't let anything come between you. You'll do wonders in this world! Cheers!"
The four of us clinked glasses and took a sip.
"This is a whole lot better that that cheap stuff we had a few days ago!" Noel added. "Thanks guys. We really appreciate everything. Not only the gifts, but the love and support."
We continued our bantering in the kitchen while Noel and I finished dinner. The four of us grabbed food laden plates and made our way to the thrift store dining room table.
"We found this table and chairs in the thrift store a few blocks away," Noel explained. "At some point, we want to get something a little more tasteful."
"When we first got married, we ate off milk crates," Manuel told us. "I have a question for you, John."
"Shoot," I told him.
"Have you told your family about being gay yet, John?" Manuel asked me.
"No. Not yet," I told the group. "They are conservative, Hispanic Catholics, but I don't think they will disown me. I am fairly certain there will be a lot of drama when I tell them. But, I think my parents are going to be okay with me being gay. I'm not certain about my grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins at this point. I have a twin brother who is also gay. He and I will probably come out of the closet to our families together."
"That should be fun!" Kerry answered. "There is safety in numbers!"
"So they tell me," I responded to Kerry's quip.
"What's your brother's name?" Manuel asked.
"Anthony," I told them. "He's not Tony. He is Anthony!"
Two weeks to the day after we had dinner with Manuel and Kerry, my brother called. "John! I have some news on my part."
"I hope it is good news!" I told him.
"It is good," Anthony affirmed. "I met a guy. We've gone out three times. I like him a lot. Do you and Noel have time this afternoon to meet us for coffee sometime? Maybe the Starbucks not far from you?"
"Let me check with Noel," I said as I went to find Noel. I found him in the kitchen working on dinner. "Noel, my brother wants to know if we can meet him at Starbucks this afternoon. He's met a guy and he wants us to meet him!"
"Sure," Noel told me. "They can join us for dinner, too! I have enough lasagna to feed half of Cambridge."
"I'll ask," I told Noel before turning my attention to my brother. "We can definitely meet you. Noel asked if you two would want to join us for dinner. He's made a ton of lasagna—which smells terrific!"
"I will need to check with Terrance," Anthony said. "Can I let you know a little later?"
"Of course," I told him. "What time do you want to meet for coffee?"
"We can be there by two, if that's okay with you guys," Anthony added.
"Yup!" I told him. "I am really looking forward to meeting your man!"
"See you in a bit," Anthony said as we ended the call.
I sat at the kitchen island while I watched Noel clean up the kitchen, "We are supposed to meet them at 2 pm. And, I think you have used every pot and dish in the place! Do you want help cleaning up?"
"Nope!" Noel answered. "I made the mess, and I will clean it up. It won't take me long, though."
I was watching my sexy boyfriend race around the kitchen putting things in the dishwasher. "You have a great ass, boyfriend!" I told Noel.
"Thanks," Noel responded. "I'm glad you noticed."
"I always notice," I told him.
"Don't start this!" Noel told me. "We need to meet your brother in a few minutes. We could be hours late if we keep this conversation going!"
"Okay!" I acquiesced. "I'll go find something to wear."
"How about your sexy black 511 slim fit jeans and that tight white polo shirt?" Noel suggested.
"And, I will find you something to wear, too!" I told him as I retreated to the bedroom.
Once we were dressed and on our way to Starbucks, Noel asked the question I had been thinking about. "Do you think this means that you and your brother will be telling your family?"
"It might," I told him. "I, for one, am eager to get this elephant out of the room. I want you in my life, which I hope will include my entire family!"
"Let me just say this," Noel said as we neared the coffee shop. "If your experience is a positive one, it will just give me the courage to grow some balls and come out to my family!"
I saw Anthony and his friend sitting seat in the front window as we went in. "Hey, bro!" I announced as I hugged my brother. Noel did the same.
"Guys," Anthony motioned to his friend standing by his side. "This is Terrance. Terrance, my brother John and his boyfriend Noel."
We all said our hellos. Terrance—a six-foot blond haired, blue eyed muscle stud—was looking at Anthony and at me, "You two do look alike! It's like I am seeing double."
"We used to play games with people we had just met when we were in middle school," Anthony mused. "But, finally, everyone around us realized that I was the smarter twin, and the games didn't work anymore."
"We are not here to relive the lies you spew, dickhead," I told my smiling brother. "We are here to get to know Terrance. How did you two meet?"
"At the gym," Terrance answered.
"Actually, it was in the locker room at the gym!" Anthony admitted. "We don't tell everyone that little detail, but we were both naked after taking a shower. We had lockers beside each other."
"We just started talking," Terrance continued. "We were both drying off and we just started talking. I had to slip on my boxer briefs once I realized what a handsome dude Anthony was. I wasn't ready to make that statement to the rest of the locker room."
"We decided to continue our conversation over coffee," Anthony added. "Then, we had our first date the next weekend. The rest is history as they say!"
"So, Terrance," I decided to go for the jugular. "You still wanted to date Anthony after you saw how small his dick was?"
"We are pretty much equal in that respect shithead," Anthony returned the volley. "Why don't you get us some coffee to make up for your disparaging remarks, bro?"
I took drink orders and made my way to the barista. When I returned, Noel was on the questioning block.
"We met at a meeting with some friends," Noel answered.
"He knows, Noel," I told my boyfriend. "We met at an HIV support group. We both recently discovered we were HIV positive. The first night there, I thought he was cute as shit. And, as you said, bro, the rest is history."
"So, you are both HIV positive?" Terrance asked us.
"Yup," Noel answered. "It is something we are learning to live with. It doesn't define us."
"It was traumatic for John," Anthony said as he looked down at his coffee. "Hell, it was traumatic for me! That's one of the few things we don't have in common! But, bro, I don't think you want to put that on the table when you introduce Noel to the rents!"
"So, I take it you are on some kind of medications," Terrance asked.
"Yea," Noel answered. "We are both on Atripla. One tab a day. We are hoping the infection stabilizes soon!"
"Stabilizes?" Terrance asked.
"Our CD4 counts are really high because the infection was caught early in the game," I answered. "We are hoping that our viral loads reach the undetectable phase soon."
"Translation, Terrance," Anthony announce. "They are waiting for their viral loads to reach undetectable so they can ditch the condoms, right, boys?"
"That would be an accurate assessment, bro," I tell them. "We are getting close!"
"So, Terrance," Noel began. "Where are you from?"
"I grew up in San Francisco," Terrance told us. "I decided to go to college at Boston College. I took an administrative job at a law firm in Boston, and I liked what I saw going on around me. So, I am now doing my thing at Harvard Law at the moment. I have one more year to go."
"Just think, Noel, we will have an attorney in the family!" I told the group. "Do you have any siblings, Terrance?"
"I have a sister who is two years younger than me. I had a brother who was about four years older than I am," Terrance said sadly. "He didn't make it out of Afghanistan alive. The Humvee he was riding in hit a landmine. He and the other Marines were killed instantly."
"Shit!" I said. "I'm sorry."
"It hit us all hard," Terrance added. "My father was killed in a car accident several years before. My mother is a psychiatrist. She knew what she was supposed to do, but she was depressed for a long time after my brother's death. She finally found a counselor who has helped her get through the struggle. The three of us are still in counseling. Consider yourself lucky you have the family that you do. They may struggle with the gay thing, but at least they are all with you to support you."
"Which brings me to another topic of conversation," Anthony began. "I think it is time, at least for me, to let the rents know that we like boys instead of girls. What do you think?"
"I'm in," I said to my brother. "As I told Noel on our way over here, I want him in my life forever. And, I want him to be part of my family. So, now is as good of a time as any. When and where?"
"I have a plan if you will go along with it," Anthony continued. "I don't think it is wise to tell them at their house. There are way too many things that could become airborne. So, I was wondering if you could invite all of us for dinner one evening and spill the beans then. Maybe you could rid your living room of extra object that could be used as weapons."
"We can do that," I said to the group. "What do you think, Noel?"
"I'm game," Noel agreed. "When?"
"Next weekend?" Anthony asked.
"I'll make the phone call to the rents to invite them," I decided.
"What can we bring besides a first aid kit?" Anthony asked.
"Maybe some red wine?" Noel suggested. "We could do the steak tips that we did for my brother and his wife. If all goes well, I hope you will consider attending my coming out event! I can guarantee there will some spectacular fireworks!"
The fateful Saturday had arrived. My parents are expected at 7 pm. Anthony and Terrance arrived at 6 pm followed by Mel. We realized we needed at least one more female in the group besides my mother.
Noel and I had the dinner ready except a few minor things that needed to be done right before it was served.
"How drunk should we get them before we tell them?" Anthony asked.
"I think it would be best if maybe they had half of a glass of wine," I told my brother and the others. "A drunken rage is not what I had in mind for this evening's festivities."
With the words out of my mouth, the doorbell rang. Noel and I greeted my parents, "Mom, Dad! This is Noel Fernandez. Noel, these are my parents Gwen and Robert Ramerez."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Ramerez!" Noel said as he greeted my parents.
"It's nice to meet you, too, Noel," my mother said to Noel as she offered her hand. "John has told us a lot about you. And, congratulations on your new job!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Ramerez," Noel continued.
"Can I get you something to drink?" I asked.
"I think two glasses of red wine would be terrific, John," my father announced.
By this time Anthony, Terrance, and Mel had joined us in the entry way. After every one had been properly introduced, we ushered the group into the living room. Noel and I went to the kitchen for pour the wine for my parents.
"So far, so good!" Noel whispered.
"They just got here, Noel," I told him. "We are not out of the woods yet!"
"You have a nice place here," my father said as I handed them their wine.
"Thanks," I replied. "We need to find some other furniture. The dining room table is a little too small, especially for a group like this."
"And, which one does the cooking?" my mother asked.
"We both do," Noel answered. "It's more fun when you have someone to share the kitchen with."
"That is probably true, but I really don't know," my mother said. "Bob has never been handy in the kitchen... So, John, what news do you have for us?"
"News?" I ask incredulously.
"The news, John," my father said. "You and your brother are sitting there looking like the cat has got your tail. What is it that the two of you wanted to tell us?"
"We're gay," my brother and I both said in unison. I held my breath.
"That's hardly news, dear!" my mother added. At least she was smiling.
"You knew?" Anthony asked. "How?"
"Christ guys," my father took over the conversation. "Neither one of you really dated girls in high school. Maybe you took a date to a dance from time-to-time. And, contrary to popular thoughts we may be old, but we are not stupid! So, what other news do the two of you have for us?"
"Noel is more than my roommate. He's my boyfriend," I blurt out before I lost the courage.
"And?" my father looks in Anthony's direction.
"Well, Terrance and I just met a few weeks ago, but we are interested in seeing where our relationship goes, right, Terrance?" Anthony explains. His face lite up when he looked at Terrance.
"Yup!" Terrance answered. "That is my plan at least!"
"Well, guys," my mother began as she stood and walked over to Noel. She pulled him into a hug, "Welcome to the family!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Ramerez" Noel added with a look of surprise on his face.
Then, my mother crossed to where Terrance was sitting and did the same to him, "Welcome to the family!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Ramerez!" Terrance said to my mother.
"I think we should have a toast!" Mel said. "I just happened to bring a bottle of champagne and four extra glasses."
Noel and I went into the kitchen to help Mel with the champagne. I was still somewhat in shock, "Did what I think just happened actually happened?"
"Yup," Mel answered. "You and Anthony are so cute together. But, I have to admit, what the fuck did you expect your parents to do, John?"
"I don't know," I explained. "But, they consider themselves conservative Catholics. We thought there could be some opposition!"
"It didn't happen," Mel said as she handed me the tray with the glasses of champagne on it. "Don't spill any! This is the good stuff! I left the cheap stuff in the fridge in case we were not actually celebrating tonight!"
I made certain everyone had a glass of champagne. My father stood, "I just want to say to my sons that your mother and I will always love you no matter what! And, whomever you choose as your life mate, we will accept with exuberance!"
"Thanks, Dad," I told my father after we sipped a little champagne. Anthony and I both hugged our parents.
Noel and I scurried into the kitchen to finish dinner. We left the guests to talk among themselves. "So, that went well, don't you think," I said to Noel.
"Very well," Noel acknowledged. "I should invite everyone to my show when I tell my mother! It will be a show stopper, I am certain!"
"We should invite your mother and brothers here," I told Noel. "Maybe there is something about finding a nonthreatening place to break the news."
"We will cross that bridge when we come to it," Noel said. "In the meantime, we have a dinner to serve."
Noel and I carried the dishes to the table where we were going to serve the food. He and I called our guests into the dining area.
"Grab a plate. Grab some food. Noel and I will pour some more wine!" I informed our guests.
We sat, ate, and talked. Mom and Dad wanted to know about Noel's job and Terrance's plans after law school. When we had finished dessert, my mother decided to give me some advice. "John, Anthony. I just want to say something before we go home. I have enjoyed this evening immensely. Your father and I are looking forward to many more times like this with our wonderful sons and their partners. But, before you make any statements to your grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, please let us do some leg work to help pave the way. We don't want you to be afraid to express yourselves and to live your lives with whomever you choose to do so. However, not everyone in this world will be accepting. We are not even certain about members of our family. All I am saying, is be careful!"
"In other words, mom," Anthony began. "We need to go slowly with the relatives who aren't as enlightened as the two of you!"
"That about sums it up," my father announced. "Now, we have an early morning tomorrow. We have Mass to attend, and a family lunch to deal with. Do any of you want to join us?"
"No," Anthony and I said in unison!
"I didn't think so," he added.
To be continued...
I hope you liked the direction that "John's Journey Forward" is taking. I would like to hear from anyone who reads this story.
I would enjoy hearing your comments about this story. You can write to me at MaWriterBoy@yahoo.com.
This is my 7th posting of my third story on Nifty.org. Please also see:
Sam and Chris in the College section.
Jeffery Comes Home also in the Beginnings section.
Life With Tim in the Authoritarian section (Please note, this story is not for everyone because there are several scenes depicting Master/slave and BDSM relationships. So, if you are not interested in this activity, please, please do not read this story.)
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