Now That You're Here - The College Years
By the time Matt and David returned to the rest of the group, everyone had decided on a movie and had set it all up. Justin looked at Matt closely, but a quick nod told him that everything was okay and the matter of David and his family was dropped. Matt was sure that there would be a lot of speculation as to why he ran from the room, but he trusted Justin to handle it the best he could and to let him know if he had anything to worry about. The movie was decent, and everyone seemed to get lost in what was happening on the screen. They were about half way through when Dane’s phone went off. He jumped up quickly, not wanting to disturb anyone, and left the room.
“Hey,” he answered as soon as he was in the kitchen. “Are you out the door?”
“No. I’m so sorry, Dane. I’m not going to be able to make it. Shana talked her mother into letting a few of her friends stay over. Now Maddie’s sleeping and the girls are up watching scary movies. I can’t just leave. You’re not mad, are you?” Michael asked. His voice was barely above a whisper.
He was mad. He was mad as hell, but not at Michael. He was mad at himself and the situation he put himself in. “No, it’s fine.”
“Baby, don’t be like that. I’m really sorry. I promise I’ll make it up to you. Just don’t be mad at me,” Michael pleaded.
“I’m not mad. It’s okay. Really. I was going to text you and cancel anyway. I’m still at Brian’s and we’re all over here having a good time. I didn’t want to leave.”
“Yeah, listen. I’ve got to go. Everyone’s waiting for me,” Dane said, trying his best to sound casual when he was fighting back tears.
“Dane, maybe we can…”
“I’ve gotta go.”
Dane didn’t even wait for a reply. He just ended the call and let the tears fall. He knew it was stupid to cry. They didn’t have important plans. They were just going to meet up for an hour so they could spend a little time together. The problem was that it wasn’t the first time their plans got cancelled. Or even the second. It happened regularly. Michael always promised to sneak away so they could spend a little time together, but then almost always called with some excuse as to why he couldn’t get away. And Dane fell for it every time. He believed every promise like a dumb ass and ended up with his heart broken every time. He needed to put an end to things. He needed to tell Michael that it was over. He just wasn’t sure how to do that. Overhead lights turning on pulled him from his thoughts and he turned around to find Chris in the doorway. He quickly wiped his eyes.
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you were…” Chris stopped when he saw that Dane was upset. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah…I…uh…” he couldn’t continue, his eyes betraying him by refusing to stop releasing tears. “It’s nothing. I just…I’m kind of having a bad day.”
Chris was immediately concerned. This was the same guy who tried to kill himself the year before. “Dane, if you need to talk to someone, you know Zan and I are always here for you.”
Dane tried to force a smile. “I know. I just…it’s alright. I’ll figure things out on my own.”
“You know, I don’t want to push you or anything, but after what happened last year…” Chris trailed off.
“I’m not going to kill myself, Chris,” Dane said quickly. The thought never entered his mind. “I would never leave Julia like that.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear that. But I’d still like to help you. I was just thinking of making a snack run. Why don’t you come with me and we can talk on the way, away from everybody?” Chris suggested.
Dane wanted to refuse, but a part of him was desperate to talk to someone about what he was going through. “If I talk to you, what I say stays between us, right?”
“Alright,” Dane relented.
“Great, I’ll go let everyone know where we’re going and meet you at the SUV,” Chris said before disappearing. He didn’t want to give Dane a chance to change his mind. He walked into the living room and announced that he and Dane were running to the store. Everyone was so engrossed in the movie; nobody really paid any attention to him, except for Zander, of course. He followed Chris to the door, waiting until they were alone.
“Is everything alright?”
“I don’t think so. I found Dane in the kitchen. He was trying to pretend that nothing was wrong, but he had been crying. He told me that he wasn’t going to try killing himself. He said that he’d never leave Julia like that, but I’m still worried. Something is definitely wrong and it doesn’t seem like he’s handling it very well. I’m going to try getting him to talk to me.”
“Oh God, I just hope he doesn’t need a place to stay or we’re going to end up sleeping in the garage,” Zan teased, trying to lighten the mood. “Okay, you go see if you can help with him. I’ve got some thinking of my own to do here. We’ll compare notes later.”
“Do I even want to know?” Chris asked tentatively.
“I don’t know, but you’re going to,” Zan laughed before kissing Chris deeply. “I love you. Good luck with Dane.”
“Love you, too. Be back soon.”
Dane wasn’t stupid. He knew exactly where they were headed before Chris even pulled the SUV into the river parking lot. “Why am I not surprised?”
“Come on, I know this is where you guys all hang out. I thought that you might feel more comfortable talking here. Shall we get out and chance getting wet if the rain starts again, or can you talk sitting down? I know Brian’s more of a pacer.”
“No, this is good,” Dane assured him. He didn’t know where to start. “So, there’s this guy.”
“I figured,” Chris said when Dane didn’t continue. “So what’s wrong with him? There’s obviously a problem if it has you this upset?”
Dane took a deep breath. “Oh let’s see, he’s 29, married with two children and one of my professors.”
“Oh,” Chris said, at a loss for words. “Um…okay. That’s…I don’t even know where to start.”
“I know,” Dane sighed. “In my defense, I didn’t know he was married with kids when we started seeing each other. I only knew about the professor thing. And I know that was wrong. He’s just so…I don’t know. I’ve never felt like this about anyone before. But it sucks. We never get to see each other. He promises that he’ll be able to get away and then ends up calling and cancelling, like he did tonight. And I know I should just end things. It’s the right thing to do, but I can’t. As selfish as it sounds, I don’t want to. I…I’m in love with him.”
Chris sighed. He didn’t want to lecture Dane. He just wanted to help him see how really wrong the situation was. “Dane, do you remember when Zan moved out last year?”
“Of course. We were all shocked. We always figured you guys to be the perfect couple. Brian said that you and Zan just needed some space. Thank God you worked it out.”
“Yeah, thank God, but it was more than just needing space. I was really stupid. When Brian and Justin had the accident…I don’t know. It kind of messed me up for a bit. Everything was so crazy and there was this guy from work…we just…”
“Oh my God, you cheated on Zan?” Dane exclaimed in horror.
“Definitely not one of my finer moments,” Chris laughed humorlessly. “The thing is, I hurt Zan more than I ever thought possible. He was devastated. Not only by the actual affair, but by realizing that I was lying to him constantly about where I was going and what I was doing. I almost ruined every bit of trust he had in me, not to mention what it did to Brian and Justin. I almost lost my family.”
“That sounds horrible and I’m so glad that you guys worked it out. You seem more in love than ever and Zander seems happy,” Dane replied.
“He is and we are, but it wasn’t easy. My point is that cheating is wrong. The whole time I was with this guy, I would try to justify my reasons for doing what I was doing, but there is no good reason for hurting someone like that.”
“But Michael’s situation is different. He’s a gay man trapped in an unhappy marriage. He never should’ve gotten married in the first place and only did because he got her pregnant in high school and their families forced them. It’s not fair that he has to live his life in the closet,” Dane pointed out.
“No, that’s not fair, but it’s his choice. Look Dane, I’m not an advocate for divorce, but if this Michael is really that unhappy, he could always walk away. I’m sure it would be hard, but in the long run it would be better for everybody. I mean, does his wife even know that he’s unhappy or is he walking around pretending to be the perfect husband? She doesn’t deserve to be lied to. She also doesn’t deserve to be stuck with a man who doesn’t love her when there’s a possibility to find one that does,” Chris told him. “But truthfully, I don’t care about them, I just care about you. Dane, you’re still so young. You don’t need to be caught up in this. If you walk away before you get in any deeper, I promise that you will get over him and move on. You have all of us, and of course Julia, to help you through until you’re able to forget him.”
“God, I wish it was that easy,” Dane sighed. “I’ve thought about walking away so many times, I just don’t know how to do it. And I have to see him three times a week at school. Classes still have another month to go. Maybe if I wait until then…”
“The longer you stay, the harder it’s going to be.”
“Yeah, I know…” Before Dane could finish his thought, his cell phone rang. He knew who it was without looking and thought about ignoring it, but he couldn’t do it. “Hey.”
“Baby, I’m so sorry. I know you’re really upset with me right now, but I promise to make it up to you. What are you doing tomorrow? How about if we spend the day together? I’ll pick you up around ten, take you to breakfast, and then we can go from there. Anything you want to do,” Michael offered.
Dane instantly forgot about Chris sitting in the SUV with him. “Are you sure you can get away? You’re not going to call me and bail on me again, are you?”
“I promise. I am yours for the entire day,” Michael assured him. “So what do you say? I’ll meet you tomorrow at ten at our place?”
“Okay, I’ll be there, but you’d better…”
“I will,” Michael said, interrupting him. “Thank you, Dane. I promise things are going to get better. I’ve gotta get back. I can hear the girls getting louder and louder. I love you.”
Dane’s heart skipped a beat at hearing the declaration for the first time. “I love you, too.”
Chris listened to the one sided conversation and knew he’d lost the battle. He waited until Dane said goodbye and then turned to him. “Do me a favor and be careful? I really don’t want to see you hurt. And promise me that if you need someone to talk to, you’ll come and find me? You’re not alone in this. You know how to reach me.”
“I will,” Dane promised. “And I meant what I said, I’m not the same person I was last year when I swallowed those pills. I’d never do something like that again, I swear.”
“I’m glad to hear that. There are a lot of people who would be very upset if something happened to you,” Chris assured him. “Now we’d better get back before everyone starts wondering where we are.”
“Now talk,” Matt said as soon as he was settled.
He and David had stayed at Brian’s house for a little while longer before making their excuses and heading home. As it turned out, having to drive five hours to get back to school the next day turned into a good thing when needing an excuse to leave early. Once they were back at Matt’s house, they locked up and went upstairs. Matt had decided to take a shower, wanting a few minutes alone to get his head together, but now he was ready. The conversation they were about to have was important to them and any future they might have together.
David sighed. “Look, I know you don’t understand why anyone would keep something like this from someone, but you have to look at it from my point of view. I know it probably sounds cliché, but when people know you have money, it’s hard to know who your friends are. I’ve been hurt in the past. Boyfriends have found out exactly who I am and then suddenly they have one emergency after another. Can I loan them this or can I spare that. My mother needs a kidney. I swear, I’ve heard it all. I hate it. I didn’t choose to be born into this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice knowing that I’ll never have to worry about money, but I’d be just as happy having a normal family. After so many times, I learned it’s better to keep certain information to myself. At least during the early days of a relationship. I just need to know that a guy likes me for me and not my bank account,” David explained. “I swear, it’s nothing personal and I planned on telling you soon. In fact, I planned on telling you much sooner than I normally would have.”
“Why?” Matt asked, almost afraid of the answer.
“Because you’re different,” David offered. “I told you from day one that I felt a connection between us that I’ve never felt before. I hated not being open with you, but let’s face it, you haven’t really given me a chance to talk to you about my life until the last couple of days. I swear, I will tell you everything right now…I’ll even show you my back statement if you want. I have one in my car.”
Matt laughed. “I don’t think that’s necessary. Besides, the money isn’t the issue. I’m more concerned about the fame. I don’t know what’s going to happen between us, but I can’t be seen in public with you right now. Could you imagine my parents seeing us on TV with the paparazzi calling us a couple? I’m pretty sure that’s not the way to come out to them.”
“I know, and I would never let that happen. I obviously wouldn’t take you anywhere that would draw attention to us. I don’t care if we never go out in public. I just want to spend time with you so that I can convince you to fall in love with me,” David chuckled.
Matt felt himself blush. “Is that your plan?”
“It is, actually. I’m not trying to scare you or anything, but my goal is for you to find me irresistible and fall head over heels in love with me, hopefully before we’re in our 80’s so that we can have some fun.”
Matt couldn’t help but laugh. David seemed so serious as he talked, his battle to hide his smile the only thing keeping Matt’s fear down. “Our 80’s, huh? That’s a serious dedication.”
“Maybe, but you’re worth it,” David replied before taking Matt’s hand in his. “Seriously Matt, I have no doubt that I could really fall for you. I’m kind of hoping that you’ll return the sentiment. Am I way off base here?”
Matt looked into David’s eyes and could see his sincerity staring back at him. He expected to be overcome with fear over David’s words, but he wasn’t. All he really felt was a warm feeling inside. “Um…no. I don’t think you are,” he finally whispered.
David smiled before kissing Matt softly. He pulled back before either of them could deepen it. “How about if we watch a movie?”
“A movie?” Matt asked in confusion. He had kind of hoped that there would be a repeat performance of the night before.
“Yeah, I think it’s better if we behave ourselves tonight. You’re not ready for more and I feel guilty for pushing you last night,” David explained.
“You didn’t push me,” Matt assured him. “I wanted it to happen. You tried to stop it, remember?”
“I know, but…”
Matt reached out and started lightly rubbing David’s cock through his flannel pants. He was rewarded for his actions when he felt David harden instantly. “Are you saying you don’t want me?”
David gasped at Matt’s touch. “No, of course not. It’s just…”
“I want to play with you,” Matt whispered as he moved closer, putting his lips next to David’s ear. “I want to feel your cock in my hands, my mouth…I want to know what you taste like.”
“Oh God,” David groaned before taking Matt’s mouth in a heated kiss. He was a good guy, but he was no saint. There was no way he could refuse what Matt was asking of him. As their kiss deepened, he reached out, trying to get into Matt’s pants. Matt pulled back quickly.
“No, don’t touch me.”
Matt laughed at the horrified look on David’s face. “Because I want to explore your body and if you start touching me like you did last night…well, I don’t think I’ll last that long.”
David chuckled as Matt’s words sank in. “Oh, alright. What do you want me to do?”
“Could you maybe…take off your clothes and just lay here?”
“I think I can do that.”
Matt watched as David stripped off his clothes and got comfortable on the bed. He was in awe of the guy’s beautiful body. He’d known since they’d met that David was in good shape. His broad chest and toned body couldn’t be hidden under anything less than a suit of armor, but this…seeing him naked…well; there was definitely not doubt that Matt was gay. His cock, already hard and ready for action tried to push its way out of his sweats in anticipation of what was to come. Matt froze in absolute desire overload.
“Hey, are you okay?” David asked when Matt stopped moving and just stared.
“God, you’re beautiful,” Matt whispered. “I could just stare at you all night long.”
“Um…thank you,” David replied softly. “I hope that’s not your plan, though.”
“What?” Matt said, pulling himself out of his daze. “Oh no…sorry. I just…I knew you had an amazing body, but I never…well, I’ve never had a naked guy in my bed before. It’s a little overwhelming, but in a good way…a very good way.”
David reached his arms out. “Come here.”
Matt quickly shed his own clothes then climbed up on the bed, moving over so that he covered David body with his own. “I’ve never done this before, so if I do something wrong, tell me and I’ll…”
David stopped his rambling with a kiss. “Unless you’re planning on grabbing my cock and pulling with all your might, you’re not going to do anything wrong. Just relax and do whatever feels natural.”
Matt took a deep breath and then kissed David deeply as he rubbed his groin along David’s, bringing their hard cocks together with delicious friction. He was enjoying being in control and a part of him wanted to continue what they were doing, but he forced himself to pull away. He was ready to explore and didn’t want to get sidetracked. The groan David let out as their kiss ended told Matt that he had wanted to continue as well. Instead, Matt began placing soft kisses along David’s jaw and down his neck before slowly making his way down to his chest. Since Matt didn’t have any experience to draw on, he simple tried to imitate what he could remember from the night before when he had been the one on the receiving end. The sharp intake of breath he heard when he gently nibbled on one of David’s nipples gave him the extra courage he needed to continue his journey further south. He stopped when he reached David’s cock, the tip red and glistening. He took the appendage in his hand, marveling in the feeling of touching another person.
“Oh God, Matt,” David moaned, his heart racing at the simple contact. “Please,” he begged, although he wasn’t exactly sure what he was begging for. He wanted to hold on to his control so that Matt could satisfy some of his curiosity, but it wasn’t easy when he looked down and saw Matt eyeing his package like a kid on Christmas morning.
Matt opened his mouth and used his tongue to lick the small slit staring at him, eliciting a deep groan from David. The taste, while slightly bitter, filled his senses and made him dizzy with desire. He felt his own cock leaking and knew he needed to speed things up a bit before he ruined the night by shooting prematurely. Taking another deep breath, he opened his mouth wide and took David’s cock in, surprised when it hit the back of his throat and caused him to gage. Pulling back quickly, his face flushed in embarrassment as he made eye contact with David. “Sorry,” he said softly.
“It’s okay. Just go easy. You don’t have to take it all,” David told him softly. He reached out and stroked Matt’s head. “I’m ready to explode from just your touch.”
Matt smiled at David and then resumed his first experience in giving head, this time only taking in the top half. The noises that David was making let him know that his efforts were appreciated. As he continued to play, taking in as much as he could then letting up and letting his tongue swirl around the head, he could sense David was getting closer and closer to orgasm. Wanting to offer as much pleasure as he could, Matt reached lower and took David’s balls in his hand, rolling them gently between his fingers. He was rewarded for his efforts when David began panting.
“Matt…God…that feels so good…I don’t know how much longer I can hold out…oh God…I’m gonna…”
Matt heard David’s warning and prepared for the explosion, swallowing down everything that was being offered to him. Once he was sure David was done, he gently lapped at his cock for another few seconds and then pulled back, not wanting to over stimulate him.
“Come here,” David growled as he grabbed Matt’s arm and pulled him up, taking his mouth passionately. He tasted himself on Matt’s tongue, turning him on despite the fact that he just had an orgasm. He flipped them quickly and took charge, ready to reciprocate. From the state of the hard cock underneath him, it wasn’t going to take long. Instead of taking his time exploring Matt’s body as he had done the night before, David got right down to business, swallowing Matt’s cock immediately.
“Hmmm…” Matt moaned as he felt a warm mouth envelop him. He was glad that David wasn’t going to go slow. He was already half way to orgasm. He rocked his head back and forth, trying to hold his composure for a few more minutes, and almost cried out when David released his cock. “David…please…”
David smiled at Matt’s obvious disappointment. “Shhh…relax. I’ll get you there. Just lie back and enjoy.”
Matt didn’t reply, just did what David said and tried to relax. In moments, he felt a tongue lapping at his balls and then even further until it found his puckered opening. The feeling had him jumping up in horror. “What are you doing?”
David smiled slightly. “Well, apparently I’m not making you feel good. Are you alright?”
“Yeah…I just…um…that…” Matt stammered, unable to put his thoughts to words.
“Did I hurt you?”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know…it just…you just…it was weird,” Matt admitted.
“Babe, you do know the logistics of gay sex, right?”
“Yeah…but…I’m not sure…”
“Relax; I know you’re not ready for that. I just want to make you feel good. No penetration, I promise. Okay?”
“Okay then, lie back down and let me have my fun. I promise you’ll enjoy it,” David assured him.
Matt lay back down and tried to relax, but the thought of having David…anything there…it kind of freaked him out. Enough that his hard on had started to soften. Once he was comfortable again and as relaxed as he could be under the circumstances, David resumed his ministrations. The first touch of warm lips on his cock caused it to spring to life once again. He gave in to the heat that began coursing through his body as he enjoyed what David was doing to him. Within minutes, he was panting and moaning with need. He was so wrapped up in those feelings that he was barely aware of David making his way back to his hole. All he knew was that the sensation he felt as David’s tongue teased his hole was like nothing he had ever felt before. He began begging for release and between that and the hand jerking his cock, he finally erupted with a strangled cry.
David licked Matt clean and then rose up, kissing him quickly on the tip of the nose before climbing out of bed. He had heard his cell phone go off signaling a text message right around the time Matt started begging.
“Where are you going?” Matt called tiredly from the bed.
“Nowhere, are you kidding? I’m planning on curling up next to you and enjoying the moment. I just wanted to grab my phone. It went off a little while ago,” David explained as he reached for his pants, where he’d left his phone. It was a text from his brother Dylan. “Give me a second. I need to call my brother.”
“No problem, I’ll just lie here and enjoy my afterglow,” Matt chuckled.
David smiled as he pulled up his brother’s number and placed the call.
“Hey Bro, how’s it going? I can’t believe you chose to stay in El Paso instead of meeting the rest of us in New York. What’s up with that?” Dylan asked.
“Sorry Dyl, but I had better things to do,” David laughed.
“In El Paso? I doubt that.”
“Actually I’m not in El Paso. I’m in Sierra Vista, Arizona,” David replied.
“What the hell is in Sierra Vista, Arizona?”
“Not what…who,” David admitted. “Don’t tell Mom.”
“Ah, I see. You blew off your family during the holidays so you could go to Arizona with some guy.”
“No, technically I blew you guys off to stay in El Paso. I wasn’t expecting a last minute invite to Arizona. That was just a plus to being in Texas. Again, don’t tell Mom.”
“I promise not to say anything, but you know she’ll figure it out. You’ve never been good at hiding your feelings and you’re going to be seeing her next week. If you’re seeing someone, she’ll notice it the minute she sees you,” Dylan laughed.
“Why would I see her next week? I figure I’d have another month before I’m forced to endure a family gathering,” David told him.
“So I should tell the girls that their Uncle Dave won’t be at their birthday party?”
“Fuck!” David exclaimed, causing Matt to jump. “I completely forgot their birthday. Shit, when do I have to be there?”
“Next Saturday at one. Should I put you down with a plus one?” Dylan asked curiously.
David looked over at Matt and sighed. He’d love to bring a plus one, but he had a feeling Matt wasn’t ready to meet the whole Jackson clan. “No, I’ll be coming alone. I guess I’ll just fly in on the jet in the morning. Any chance I can get away with flying back that night?”
“Not unless you’re waiting on a kidney transplant and you get a page that they found you a kidney,” Dylan said, only half joking. “Come on, it won’t be that bad, will it? I mean, we are your family.”
“No, I’m sorry Dyl. I didn’t mean it like that. I’m just not really up to doing the family thing right now. But it’ll be fine and I can’t wait to see the girls. I can’t believe they’re going to be seven. Any idea what I should get them?”
“Sorry buddy, not a clue. What do you get for three girls who have everything? Renee is even having a hard time shopping for them,” Dylan chuckled.
“How about a pony? Don’t you have that farm not too far from where you live? I’m sure you could board a pony there,” David suggested.
“You’re joking…right? You really want to get the girls a pony?” Dylan asked incredulously.
“Well how cool would that make me? I’d beat out their aunt and other uncles as the favorite,” David pointed out as the idea took hold. “Seriously, would you mind?”
Dylan thought about it for a moment. “I guess not, but they’re going to share, right? You’re not buying three ponies.”
“No, just one. I will buy three sets of riding gear though. Do me a favor and have Renee email me their sizes and favorite colors and I’ll arrange it first thing on Monday,” David promised. “Now let me get back to what I was doing. I’ll call you later in the week and let you know what time I’ll be there. Don’t worry about picking me up, though. I’ll just arrange to have one of the drivers from Jackson Tech pick me up.”
“Sounds good, I’ll talk to you later in the week. Love you, Bro.”
“Love you, too.” As soon as David ended the call, he climbed into bed and pulled Matt into his arms. “Sorry about that.”
“You’re buying your nieces a pony,” Matt said softly.
“Yeah, I don’t know what else to get them,” David replied.
“A pony…a real live pony. Most people buy Barbie Dolls.”
“Barbie Dolls are boring,” David laughed as he looked down into Matt’s face. His smile disappeared when he saw the strained look staring back at him. “Um…is there something wrong?”
“And you’re flying in on a jet…and having a driver pick you up…you’re rich.”
David sighed. “I know, I thought we already established that. And you said the money wasn’t an issue.”
“It’s not…I mean…I don’t care that you have money. It’s just…I guess I just…I don’t know anyone with money. Hearing you talk about buying a pony…it kind of threw me for a loop. I’m sorry….it’s not my business.”
“It’s okay. I’m glad you said something. I don’t want to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. I just don’t really think about it much. I guess buying a pony would seem a bit over the top to most people. I can buy them some Barbie Dolls if it would make you feel better,” David teased.
“Don’t be an ass,” Matt laughed. “So, you’re just going to fly in to…where do you have to go?”
“Florida,” David chuckled. “Most of my family still lives in Florida.”
“Okay, so you’re going to just fly to Florida on a jet on Saturday for a birthday party, and what? Come home the next day? That’s…wow. I’ve never really been anywhere and you just go…wherever,” Matt replied in awe. “That’s kind of cool.”
“I guess. Truthfully, it’s all I know. My father was already making really good money by the time I was born so this is just my life. I don’t think about how odd it might seem to other people until someone like you mentions it. Does it make you uncomfortable?”
Matt thought about it for a minute. “No, I don’t think so. I mean, it’s not like you’re a snob or anything. It just might take some getting used to.”
“Does that mean that you plan on sticking around long enough to get used to it?” David asked tentatively.
Matt looked at David closely before answering, knowing that there was no way he could just walk away after the weekend they’d shared. He still had a lot to work out in his head, and he wasn’t ready to tell anyone yet, but there was no denying his growing feelings for David anymore. “Yeah, I think I’ll be sticking around for awhile.”
David grabbed Matt and kissed him deeply, putting his nieces, his brother and talk of money away. Matt was planning on sticking around for awhile. That was all that mattered at that moment.
Zander was exhausted by the time he climbed into bed. He had been up early, down at the bookstore trying to clean up the mess that was left after Black Friday. Business was still booming despite the popularity of e-Readers and he couldn’t be happier. The new construction would be starting after the New Year and he was starting to get a little nervous about such a big commitment. His rent was going to double as well as his staff. He just hoped that bringing a coffee house to the area was the right decision to make. He was pulled from his thoughts when Chris walked out of the bathroom naked. Nobody would ever be able to think when someone like Chris was in the room in all his glory.
“Almost 39 years old and still the hottest man I know,” Zan said as he pulled back the covers in invitation.
“You’re biased,” Chris laughed.
“That’s true, but you really are hot,” Zan insisted as he snuggled up to Chris and placed a soft kiss on his cheek. “Now, you first. What’s going on with Dane?”
“God Zan, it’s a mess. Dane’s in love with a married man.”
“What?” Zan exclaimed. “What the hell is wrong with him?”
“Oh wait, it gets worse. The guy is 29, married with two kids and one of his professors,” Chris explained.
“Oh no…what was he thinking? This isn’t going to end well.”
“I know. He didn’t know he was married when they first hooked up, but he still shouldn’t have started anything with him. I mean, the first rule of dating in college is to stay away from faculty. The sad thing is that he’s in too deep now. This guy bailed on him tonight, then when he called while we were out to make plans for tomorrow, Dane was quick to forgive him and told him that he loved him. I have a strong desire to find this douche bag and beat his ass.”
Zander smiled at Chris’s obvious anger. The man was always there for the underdog. “I don’t think that’s the answer. I’m assuming that you told Dane that we’re here if he needs us, right? We’re just going to have to keep an eye on him and watch as this plays out. Maybe this guy will come to his senses and end the affair.”
“I hope so. Dane swore to me that he’s not the same person he was last year and that he would never even consider leaving Julia, but I don’t like him being in a relationship that is going to bring nothing but heartache.”
“Me neither, but there’s nothing we can do about it right now. He and I talked earlier today. He’s looking to make some extra money for Christmas so he’s going to come and work for me a few nights a week at the store. We’ll be able to watch over him better that way,” Zan told him.
“Good, that should help,” Chris replied. “Now what was it that you were going to tell me?”
“Okay, so do you remember when Matt walked out after finding out who David is and we were all wondering why he reacted that way?” Zan asked. “I think I know why?”
“Why? That was kind of weird,” Chris said as he thought back to Matt’s reaction.
“While they were outside, I took a peek out the window and saw them kissing.”
“Kissing? But…Matt’s not gay,” Chris said in bewilderment.
“Well that kiss wasn’t an innocent peck on the cheek. And last time I checked, straight guys down stick their tongues down other men’s throats so obviously there’s something going on,” Zan laughed.
“Wow…I don’t…wow. Of all the straight guys Brian has brought around, Matt’s the last guy I would have expected this from. I can’t…wow.”
“I know Justin has been talking to him a lot lately. When I mentioned that he seemed troubled lately, Brian had said that he was going through some stuff. I guess this is it.”
“Do you think anyone else knows?”
“No, I doubt it. From what I understand, Justin hasn’t even told Brian what’s going on and he tells Brian everything. I guess it’s really got Matt freaking out.”
“Then he probably shouldn’t be kissing guys outside our house,” Chris chuckled. “Wow, I think I’m still in shock. And damn, the first time Matt decided to switch sides and he lands a millionaire? Good for him.”
“Sorry, I couldn’t resist.”
“Behave yourself,” Zan scolded him teasingly. “Poor Matt, he must be having a hard time dealing with this if no one knows. It’s not like his group of friends are homophobic. If he’s not comfortable telling them, then he’s got to be pretty upset.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Well, Justin knows so at least he has someone on his side. And David, of course. It’s crazy, isn’t it? When I was in high school, no one ever came out and I didn’t know a single gay kid. Now everyone is so out in the open and willing to be who they are that finding someone so in the closet like Matt obviously is seems weird.”
“I know, especially around here. I really hope he finds the courage to come out. How do you think his parents are going to take it?”
“Truthfully, I think his dad is an asshole and I wouldn’t be surprised if he uses a page out of the Jack Kinney handbook for accepting gay children,” Chris replied sadly. “That’s probably one of the reasons he’s been hiding for so long. Do you think we should talk to Justin, let him know that we know, and have him reassure Matt that we’re here for him if he needs us?”
“It couldn’t hurt, although knowing Justin; he’s already told him that. I’ll pull him aside tomorrow before they head back to ASU. I think they’re planning on leaving early.”
“Yeah, Brian said that they have to go food shopping and then catch up in laundry and cleaning before classes start again,” Chris told him. “Sometimes it’s so weird to think of them as adults with adult responsibilities.”
“I know,” Zan laughed. “Especially when they come here and expect us to keep cleaning up after them.”
“Really, what the hell is that?” Chris asked rhetorically. “You know, they’re really good guys. We got lucky…well, with Brian anyway. Justin came like that.”
“I just hope we get lucky with Sophia, too. I have to say, I really feel out of my element when it comes to her. What the hell are we going to do when she hits puberty? I mean, who’s going to talk to her about the birds and bees…and about her first period? God Babe, what are we going to do?”
“Very funny…but I don’t think that’s an option. She’s going to be ten in a couple of months. I’m pretty sure puberty is right around the corner.”
Chris sighed as reality slammed into him. “Damn, why couldn’t your old man have fathered another boy? That, we could handle. Maybe we could trade her in for a different model somewhere.”
“Stop…that’s not nice,” Zan giggled. “We’ll figure it out.”
“I’m only teasing. I wouldn’t trade my little pumpkin for the world. And you’re right. We’ll figure it out as we go. You own a bookstore, aren’t there books on this stuff?”
“Yeah, there are. And I’ll talk to Jules. I’m sure she can help. She was a little girl once,” Zan said.
“We can do this. It’ll be fine. And it’s not like we ever have to worry about her dating.”
“What? Why wouldn’t we have to worry about her dating?” Zan asked in confusion.
Chris smiled. “Because she and I had a long talk. I told her she wasn’t allowed to date as long as I’m still alive and she agreed. Dodged a bullet with that one.”
Zan laughed out loud. “That’s cute, but there’s no way that’s going to work. You know that, right?”
“Hey, let me live in my little fantasy world a little while longer. Ignorance is bliss,” Chris chuckled. “Now come over here. I have better things to do with my mouth than talk.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Zan replied and he went right into Chris’s arms. Their conversation was officially over.
By the time Brian and Justin went food shopping and then got back to their apartment, it was already almost eight. They had planned to leave early that morning to give themselves time to do what they needed to do, but Sophia had begged them to stay and Brian couldn’t refuse her anything. They put the food away and then worked together to straighten up and vacuum. Justin had always been more of a neat freak after being raised by his mother. Brian wasn’t quite so strict, but now that they had their own place, he seemed to want things in order. Once everything was clean to their satisfaction; they put on some music and curled up on the couch together. It was the first time in days that they were truly alone and they were ready to enjoy it.
“God, I love the peace and quiet,” Brian said softly as he tightened his arms around Justin.
“Me too,” Justin agreed. “As much as I love everybody, home is getting too crowded these days. I don’t know how Chris and Zan do it without everyone always around. They never get the house to themselves anymore.”
“I never really thought about that,” Brian replied as he thought about their situation. By the time Friday had rolled around, he had been ready to escape the craziness and be alone with Justin. He couldn’t imagine what his brother and Zan were going through. “Maybe during winter break we can stay with Sophia and they can go get a room for a couple of days. I’m sure they probably need a little time alone.”
“Yeah, I think we could do that for them. In fact, why don’t I check into it and book a room somewhere for them? We can give it to them as a Christmas present,” Justin suggested.
“That’s a good idea. I still can’t believe Christmas is almost here. This year went by fast.”
“It really did,” Justin replied. “It was a crazy year, too. So much has happened. Between that stuff with Ryan, and my parents will, finding out about Sophia, Steve getting kicked out, Jason’s attack…it’s just all so unreal.”
“Yeah, it is. I’m telling you, our lives are like a soap opera,” Brian laughed. “So, now that we’re alone, are you going to tell me what’s going on with Matt?”
“Um…no,” Justin replied tentatively. “Babe, you know I can’t talk to you about it. I promised him I wouldn’t tell anyone.”
“You and your damn loyalty. Can you at least tell me if he’s in some kind of trouble?”
“No, he’s not in any trouble,” Justin assured him. “If he was, I’d tell someone. Trust me, he’s just dealing with some stuff right now, but he’s going to be okay.”
“Speaking of dealing with some stuff, did you see the look on Zac’s face when he was saying goodbye to Jason? I feel so bad for him. He told me he was going to withdraw from the semester to stay home with Jason, but Jason put his foot down and told him that if he did, he’d be doing it for nothing because Jason would fly back to Pittsburgh.”
Justin chuckled. “And Jason would do it, too. I don’t know what I’d do in that position. I can see the ridiculousness of Zac wanting to withdraw, but I can also see his point. I can’t even imagine what I’d do if someone hurt you like that, but I know I’d never want to leave you after that. At least Jason is staying in Arizona. Zac doesn’t have Friday classes so he can head back to Sierra Vista on Thursday nights and stay until Sunday. They’ll only have three days where they don’t see each other.”
“Yeah, and Jason is living with Chris and Zan. He’s in great hands,” Brian pointed out.
“He’ll get used to the idea,” Justin said. “I just hope that they catch the scumbag that did this.”
“Me too, but remember our arrangement until they do.”
“Bri, I promised not to walk anywhere alone on campus before break, but I can’t keep doing that. It’s too hard to mesh our schedules like that. Besides, why is it that you’re allowed to walk around alone and I’m not? That’s hardly fair.”
“First of all, you can keep doing it and you will. We’ll find a way to make it work,” Brian insisted. “And second, you’re prettier than I am. No one’s going to come after me.”
Justin practically jumped out of Brian’s arms, turning around to look directly into his face. “Are you kidding me? Bri, do you ever look at yourself in the mirror? You are the most beautiful guy in the world and turn heads wherever you go, men and women. I think you’re more at risk than I am.” When Brian didn’t answer him, Justin looked at him skeptically. “Bri? School and safety aside, you do know how gorgeous you are, don’t you?”
“Jus, can we not…”
“Don’t do that, Brian. I’m asking you a serious question.”
Brian sighed dramatically, pulling Justin back into his arms. “I’m hardly gorgeous. I’m more…I don’t know, ordinary? I mean, when I look in the mirror I don’t see gross disfigurement or anything. I just see this plain guy with plain brown hair and plain hazel eyes. Nothing spectacular.”
Justin pulled out of Brian’s arms once again. He got down on his knees and took Brian’s face into his hands, forcing those hazel eyes to look at him. “Babe, you are anything but plain. You are stunning. The first time I saw you, you took my breath away. Your hair is an amazing chestnut color that hangs just right in that perfect ‘just fucked’ style. Your eyes are so perfect, the color slightly changing with the light in the room or the color of your clothes. And don’t even get me started on your body. You couldn’t be plain if you wanted to. I know that I’m a good looking guy. I’m not full of myself, but I can look in the mirror and see how people could be attracted to me. But you…being around you makes me feel invisible. People see you and it’s like I’m not even there.”
Brian could see the sincerity in Justin’s eyes and had to pull back and look away. “I think you’re biased. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. The point is that I don’t want you to be walking around campus on your own until that asshole is caught. Please, just humor me right now. I’d never be able to live with myself if something happened to you.”
Justin knew that the subject of Brian and his lack of self esteem was temporarily over, but he vowed to try again another time. He even considered calling Chris and telling him about what had just transpired. He’d have to think about it more later. “Fine, I won’t go anywhere by myself for now, but I’m not doing this forever. It’s a pain in the ass.”
“Let’s see how long it takes for them to catch this guy. Then we’ll discuss it further. Now get back up here. I’m not done holding you.”
Justin sighed as he got up and settled back in Brian’s arms. The subject was apparently closed, at least for the moment. He knew Brian was only trying to protect him because he loved him. It was just hard being treated like a child. One day they’d really have to talk about that, but considering how hard Brian was taking the attack, Justin would let it go for awhile. Brian loved him. He’d just focus on that for awhile.
Dane glanced over at the clock and sighed. It’s was almost ten o’clock. The day was coming to an end. Arms tightened around him and he smiled sadly.
“Hey, what’s all that sighing for?”
“Nothing, I just…it’s been such a great day and I hate that it’s almost over,” Dane replied softly.
“You’ll see me tomorrow,” Michael pointed out teasingly. He knew that wasn’t what Dane had meant, but he wanted to lighten the mood a little bit.
“Very funny,” Dane said dryly. “Seeing you standing up in front of the class where I can’t touch you isn’t quite what I meant.”
This time it was Michael who sighed. He hated the sadness he heard in Dane’s voice and hated that fact that he was the cause of it even more. “I know baby, I’m sorry. Maybe I can sneak away one night this week…just for an hour or so. Text me your schedule and I’ll see what I can do.”
Dane took a deep breath, knowing he had to say what was on his mind and hating that he was about to ruin their perfect day. “Michael, I think we should stop seeing each other.”
“What?!” Michael exclaimed as he jumped up out of bed. “You can’t be serious.”
Dane felt his resolve weakening, but pushed on, knowing that it was the right thing to do. “We can’t keep doing this anymore. It’s not fair to Maddie, it’s not fair to the girls, and it’s definitely not fair to us. I’m sorry…if there was any other way to make this work, I’d be willing to try it, but there’s no way. I’ve spent the last three days with my friends watching as all the couples held hands and just spent time together. That’s what I want…not this sneaking around, barely getting to see each other. I love you, but I can’t do this anymore.”
“Oh God,” Michael moaned as he climbed up on the bed on his knees and took Dane’s face in his hands. “Please baby, please don’t leave me. I promise that we’ll work something out. I promise it’ll get easier. You just can’t leave me. I love you so much. I don’t want to lose you.”
“I don’t want to lose you, either,” Dane replied tearfully. “But this relationship isn’t good for me.”
“I know…I know I’ve been an ass, but that’s all going to change. You’ll see. Just don’t give up on me. Please.”
Dane’s heart was breaking. It was killing him to break things off, but he didn’t have a choice. He’d been up all night thinking about their situation and he knew he couldn’t take it anymore. The guilt over what their relationship meant to Maddie and the girls was eating away at him; especially after his talk with Chris. As hard as it was for him, he had to do the right thing. “I don’t have a choice.” He pulled away from Michael and got out of bed, reaching for his clothes. He was glad that they had decided to take two cars to the out of the way motel room they had gotten. At least he could make a fast getaway.
“Dane, please. Let’s just sit down and talk about this? We can make it work.”
The panic in Michael’s eyes pulled at Dane’s heart and he could feel himself relenting. “Michael, the only way to make this work is if you leave Maddie, and I know you don’t want to do that. I think it’s wrong to stay in a marriage just for the children; hell, I think it’s wrong to spend your life hiding in the closet instead of being who you are, but it’s not up to me. It’s your choice if this is how you want to live your life. I just can’t be a part of it anymore.”
Dane continued to dress, ignoring the pleading looks he was getting from Michael. He needed to be strong to get through the break up and get out to the car. Once he was dressed, he headed towards the door. He wanted to give Michael a kiss goodbye; their last kiss, but knew he wouldn’t be strong enough to walk away if he did. Instead he glanced over at his lover and smiled sadly. “I really do love you, Michael. I just wish it had been enough.” He walked out, closing the door behind him and made his way to the car. Once he was inside, he started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot, needing to put space between them. He knew he had done the right thing and he kept reassuring himself of that as he headed for home, tears running down his cheeks the entire way.
End of part 11
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