Sometimes Life Is a Gift, But Sometimes It Just Sucks
During the late May week that my body purified itself from my need for drugs, my guardians, the Capshaws, turned into my own mother and father. Nobody forced them to stand in the gap for me and guide me through it. They insisted, and I was too humbled and sick to do anything but let them. For a year and a half they had been a guiding force in my life and had treated me like their own, and I had no way to pay them back. It made me feel ashamed until I sat down with Robert and… I mean Dad and Mom, the weekend after.
I was still washed out, sweating and frail, perched at their breakfast counter drinking hot tea and watered-down apple juice and eating eggs and toast, the first substantial food that I hadn’t puked up in days. Dad had to go into the office because he’d taken most of the week off to be with me, and he had some reports to file. He was just finishing up his coffee when I told them I’d find a way to make it up to them.
He grinned at me and ruffled my hair affectionately. “Don’t feel like you were an imposition. You’re family, Dax. If you want to repay us, then do it by staying off the pills.”
I had no intention of relapsing. The drugs were out of my system and out of my apartment, although I held on to the liquor and some weed which I didn’t consider problems. I was done with self-medicating to the extent I had used. It had nearly killed me. I had to focus on enrolling in summer classes at the college, getting another part-time job and eventually settling on a career. At nineteen, my childhood was over and done with and, while I might have needed the drugs to make me forget the past, I didn’t need them to fuck up my future.
Dad left, and Mom sat down next to me. She looked uncomfortable for a minute, but we have a good rapport, and can usually talk about any subject. “Please tell me what happened the last time you saw Michael,” she said, refilling my cup with hot tea.
Looking into her sympathetic eyes that were the same color as his, I knew she wasn’t talking about her birthday over three months past. Nor did she mean the following afternoon when I witnessed Michael’s terror of his violent boyfriend, Isaac, forcing him to disclose the abuse. No, by her question, I was nearly certain she meant the way Michael had shown up at my apartment later that afternoon to throw about all manner of unpleasant accusations. Oh, and also to kiss me.
I must have looked like I was going to refuse, so she gently revealed what she had already learned. How Michael had come home that February night in a hot temper, hair mussed and lips bruised, refusing to discuss his whereabouts. They hadn’t been difficult to guess. I was the only person who could infuriate him that way. And then Mom told me how, in my fevered state of detoxing, I had rambled on and on about how dying would make Michael happy. There was a restless coherency just under the surface of my delirium, and when she asked questions I had mumbled answers to them. So our fight wasn’t a secret anymore.
The weird thing was, as intoxicated as I had been on that winter night, I remembered everything. Michael’s rage for the intervention, suddenly finding myself in his arms as if I was waking up from a dream, and my offended response to it. The worst was those hurtful, humiliating words between us. Still slightly on edge from my drug withdrawal, I described how we’d tried to injure each other with harsh taunts before he slammed out of my life.
“Oh Dax,” Mom remonstrated. “Here, I was hoping you and Michael were finally maturing enough to get over last May. Can’t the two of you just let the retribution and anger go?”
I hung my head in shame, knowing how childish we were acting and how much it hurt the Capshaws. In almost every sense of the word, this was the worst kind of sibling rivalry, but very few ‘siblings’ have ever been former lovers. The bitterness persisted over Michael cheating on me and our love-hate relationship that wouldn’t allow us to stay away from each other, willing to neither forgive nor forget. I was at the point where I simply wanted to wash my hands of him and work on putting my life back together. In fact, my newfound sobriety probably depended on it. I didn’t need the stress of his immaturity to drag me back down.
Mom was observant and smart, the glue that held the family together. She didn’t seem to have any problem with her son and me being gay, not even that we slept together secretly for the last half of our senior year in Michael’s bedroom. It just went to show how cool she was to wish out loud that the two of us would forgive each other, push past our anger and guilt and get back together as a couple. Not that I wanted or expected this to happen, but it was nice that she didn’t judge me.
In finishing up, Mom told me that Michael had overstepped his bounds with his visit since I’d made it clear in October that he wasn’t welcome at my apartment. She praised me for staying civil on Christmas Day and her birthday, which she recognized must have been difficult after last year’s fallout. She was also grateful for my caring and foresight afterwards because I was acting in Michael’s best interests, even if he was too angry to acknowledge it.
“Dax, both of you boys need to sit down and talk about what is going on. I think you have made more progress than Michael, but it’s never going to end until one of you just decides to stop blaming the other. And yes, there are mistakes on both sides, and both of you bear the responsibility for fixing it. Frankly, it worries me that your arguments are turning so malicious.”
I swallowed convulsively, knowing I was putting her and Dad in an untenable position. They loved me like a son, but Michael was their son. The only way I was going to come out in any kind of positive light was to be blameless, but Michael had a way of getting under my skin. I had a therapist to talk to about my life challenges instead of unloading on him, and that made me remember a discussion from six months past.
“Do you know,” I asked her, “if Michael ever got counseling over Isaac.”
She thought awhile. “Dad and I told him to make an appointment, but I don’t know if he followed through.”
Michael should have been a golden child. Raised in a loving upper middle-class home with dependable, hard-working parents who showered their children with affection and every advantage money could buy; he had it all going for him. Good looks, intelligence, general likeability and enough poise to overcome the obstacles of being gay, he nevertheless tended to be immature, somewhat deceitful and showed a decided lack of security. When we were closer I used to laugh at his lack of common sense, but it really wasn’t funny. He was like a clinging vine, unable to understand that his betrayal of me was a huge issue in light of any hope of a future between us.
“I have to tell you,” Mom confessed as if she was reading my mind. “Michael asks about you whenever he calls. He is concerned about you, probably because of your drug use, and we have fallen into the habit of… well, I guess you could call it gossiping. This is your life and you deserve whatever privacy you need.”
“I think I’d prefer you don’t talk about me, good or bad,” I told her sadly. I became more confident as the words tumbled out. “We used to be close but it’s over between us, and we’re like poison to each other now. I’d rather not listen to anything about him either.”
I really believed this was the truth. Part of me still loved Michael, but I had let him hold me back. While my welfare, especially my sobriety, wasn’t a secret, he was my past. I firmly intended for him to stay that way, no matter how he felt, and I refused to admit even liking him as a friend. No trust, no forgiveness. Michael might want me back in his life, but it was something he’d have to deal with. I might not be fully accountable either, but friends didn’t treat people the way he did. I needed to work him out of my system and move on.
I returned to college in Humboldt at the end of February to a pleasant peace. My life became very routine, boring even. I appreciated boring, especially considering the alternative. No verbal abuse that emasculated me, no irrational anger that made me flinch and want to hide, and no cuts, bruises or broken bones. Isaac seemed to come to his senses and walked away without creating drama. He was disciplined by the college administration in a way that seemed mild considering the offenses, but by then I just wanted it finished. Isaac did not argue the restraining order. Except for an occasional unfriendly insult from one of his friends, there was no trouble.
I should have been a happy man, but I wasn’t. I was miserable with guilt. Dax was responsible for my freedom, and I had repaid him with anger. I'd stormed into his apartment with ugly accusations and told him I regretted ever meeting him. I taunted his drug addiction. It was cruelty beyond the pale, and I cringed at every memory.
The images were even worse. I could tell by looking at Dax that he was truly suffering from his drug use, and it was making him paranoid and erratic, but did I feel any sympathy? No. I backed him up against a wall because he was so high he laughed at something I said. And then… and then, Dax melted into a puddle of need and want, the pain in his eyes speaking to me and showing the way I could fix him and make him whole again. I wanted Dax to trust me, but this was not the way. I let him kiss me, and I just lost myself.
Until he came out of what looked like a trance and realized what we were doing. I was never as surprised as when he shoved me across the room and tried to blame me. I understood now, but at the time I got mad. That was when I disengaged my brain and opened my mouth to spew out such venom, bashing Dax with his flaws and weaknesses to say I didn’t care what happened to him and I never wanted to see him again.
And that was nothing near the truth, because I love the man. I wanted to take back every ugly, hate-filled word I said, but it was too late. I needed my Dax back. But with how I kept sticking my foot in my mouth, that was never going to happen. Fourteen hours away from home, and how was I going to show him I was sorry?
In my new, post-Isaac life, I went to class, partied in the way of most college freshmen away from parents for the first time and made new friends. I got a delivery job with a Chinese market which kept me honest, and gave me a new appreciation for a certain blonde boy who had to work to pay for college and make rent instead of just earning some spare change to buy beer.
I got to know my roommate better, and he introduced me to a quiet, nerdy brown-haired gay boy from his high school with dark, penetrating eyes and a compact build. We started seeing each other casually and slowly began fumbling with sex, nothing serious and definitely not long-term. He wasn’t out and I wasn’t going to take on a closet case ever again. We were just indulging our sexual needs, and I never slept over. Mostly, the reason I couldn’t get into him was because he wasn’t Dax.
Even keeping in regular contact with my family, I was lonely and missed them. They needed to know I was alright after Isaac, and I assured them of my safety. My favorite topic with them was Dax, and they shared what they knew. Leaving out the insults part, I told them a little about my last visit with him and how Dax had been almost catatonic, he was so high on drugs. I begged them to keep an eye on him. It was clear I still had deep feelings for Dax, and they wanted us to bury the hatchet. If only wishing made it so.
Spring break was upon me, and I wanted to enjoy the experiences most kids my age got out of the short vacation. Many of the other college students I knew had cool plans for various party spots, mostly involving warmth and sunshine- Cabo, Palm Springs, even Florida and the Gulf Coast. In the end, I joined up with a small group of fellow classmates who planned to ski in the Sierras. I had a wonderful time and made new friends.
March passed into April, and suddenly I was looking at the end of my first year of college. To be honest, after all the drama of the first nine months, it caught me by surprise. The awful summer between high school and my freshman year after Dax and I broke up, getting back together with Isaac and learning what a mistake I’d made through all the drama of his many forms of abuse, and suddenly the smoke cleared and it was time for finals. Along with the general feeling of ‘look at me, I made it’, there was such a peace with contemplating returning to Santa Bella a free man and having no ties on me.
Regardless of all this, I missed Dax so damn much that sometimes it made my body ache. My emotions were in this dizzying whirl every time that damned kiss popped into my brain. I thought about it almost every day. When I jacked off, it was his strong hands on me, his beautiful lips I kissed and his moaning that made me cum so forcefully. It hurt knowing that I should've walked away that night, but I was immature and had acted out of spite. I knew I had no right to care about him, but I couldn’t help it.
Once May arrived, two bleak dates kept cropping up in my mind, heralding an unhappy anniversary. The afternoon Isaac had returned to haunt me and three weeks later when I betrayed Dax. The memories made me cry. They were a documentary of the five best months of my life when I had Dax in my arms. But the aftermath, permanently etched on my brain, was shattering. He made me happy, and I made us fall apart. He loved me, and I brought betrayal and suspicion to kill our relationship. It ate me from the inside out with shame. I begged the Fates to let me make it up to him, but I was sure I was probably too late.
I comforted myself by humming songs I loved, and one of them was by 3 Doors Down.
And all these days I spend away
I’ll make up for this I swear
I need your love to hold me up
When it’s all too much to bear
And when the night falls in around me
And I don’t think I’ll make it through
I’ll use your light to guide the way
‘Cause all I think about is you
That was exactly what he meant to me, and I needed him to guide me through this confusion and pain. I refused to give up and acknowledge that Dax was lost to me and I should forget him and move on. I think I was more in love with him now than I was in high school.
The spring term at state college at Humboldt ended in May, and Mom and Dad began acting funny about me coming home. If I put all my gear from my dorm into storage, I could've flown home easily but they encouraged me to do something fun, albeit safe, even offering to finance a short vacation to anywhere I wanted to go within reason. It was the oddest thing, like they wanted to delay my arrival back in Santa Bella, but why?
Over recent months I had teamed up with a group of four other guys of similar interests in my dorm and we had all become close friends. By some coincidence, we five lived in a straight line down the California coastline, and a boy who resided in Orange County had his SUV at school. He volunteered to drive us home and drop us off one by one in return for sharing a few days at each place, and my parents jumped at it and said I should. It was fun to visit my friends and their families, but the impromptu vacation meant that I didn’t make it home until early June.
I was eager to see my family, but even more, it was difficult to contain my excitement in being home again with Dax. I vowed this summer would be different, better than last, and hoped to have the opportunity to apologize for my behavior in February. Maybe I could make it up to him and once he got over his anger he’d let me hang with him. I had decided to bite my tongue, swallow my pride and plead terminal insanity- anything to make him absolve me of my big mouth. I could hardly expect he’d forget my cheating on him, but maybe he would overlook the disastrous aftermath. I wanted only to be friends again.
Within the first couple of days at home I began to notice that Mom and Dad didn’t talk about him. At all, not even to bring up his name. In fact, it was such a complete turnaround from before, when a lot of our cell phone conversations were about him, that I finally had to ask.
“What’s up with Dax?”
I expected the sad reply that he was hopelessly mired in drugs, and I wondered if Mom and Dad had finally thrown in the towel because watching him broke their hearts. Or maybe they got in his face about it, and he was so angry he dropped out of our lives. Nothing prepared me for their answer.
“He’s fine,” Dad said, end of story.
It was not enough, but they wouldn't answer any but the most general of questions about him. When I expanded my inquiries, their answers were concisely vague, leaving no doubt they weren’t planning of supplying any detail. I was confused and felt censured. Finally I asked Mom why one night as I was helping her prepare dinner.
She pursed her lips, studying me as if not sure what to say. “In no way do I want to hurt your feelings, but Dax asked us not to discuss him with you anymore. He’s trying to make a full break and has his own reasons for requesting privacy.”
“That’s bullshit and totally unfair…” I protested, but Mom cut me off.
“Stop it, Michael,” she said sternly, measuring out a half-cup of salsa for a chicken dish we all liked. “I’ll tell you exactly what Dax told me, and then maybe you’ll understand. He said that the two of you are poison to each other, and I agree. When you pull crap with him like you did that night in February, you put incredible pressure on him. You know he’s fragile, what with the drug use and all, and I won’t have you making more trouble for him.”
Oh god, Mom and Dad knew about February? But naturally, I didn’t know when to shut my mouth, and when I protested the bias, Mom, who was a low-key person and usually fairly easy-going with us kids, exploded in anger.
“How can you stand there acting so innocent when you more or less criticized him for losing his mother and judged him for the way she had raised him, like her neglect and abuse is his fault?” Her eyes were snapping fire. “Even if what you said about his drug use is to some degree factual, you were intentionally cruel to him. I know you aren’t solely to blame, Michael, and we love you dearly, but you have to stop making Dax your scapegoat.”
Fuck it, Dax had snitched and told my parents the whole story about that afternoon, and Mom was ensuring that I knew exactly how livid they were over it. Everything she said boiled down to me not taking into account how much his upbringing affected him when, as the person who was once his closest confidante, I should have the most understanding. To put it mildly, they were supremely disappointed in my behavior.
“Mom,” I whined. Her anger left me with my mouth flopping open, like a fish out of water, in pitiful denial that both of us knew would be a lie if I pursued it. Instead, I just made excuses.
“I was angry because he had made me tell you about Isaac’s abuse, and none of us knew what would happen when I returned to Humboldt. I mean, I was lucky because Isaac just let it go, but what if he hadn’t? What if he kept harassing me?”
Mom set her mouth in a thin line. “I will get into how your father and I could have prevented that scenario if you had been honest with us in the beginning, but for now you need to think about Dax because you aren’t off the hook quite yet.”
She had this look on her face that told me there was no way she was going to let this go, and I settled in for a long lecture. Mom is cool, but she never does anything by half-measure, and that includes a good scolding so we knew exactly what we did wrong.
“Just for a minute, I want you to put yourself in Dax’s place. Experiencing the person who was once your best friend that you're supposed to love and angry when you tried to protect him who then storms into your apartment to chew you out for doing your best to help. You forced yourself on a hurting kid who was too wasted to defend himself and then insulted him.”
I groaned in humiliation. Mom had shown me that I had no excuses, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t try to make them. It was kind of a sickness, and not in a good way, how I twisted the truth to take the pressure off myself to avoid blame. The honesty I needed just wasn’t there because who would want to own up to my over-the-top mistreatment of Dax?
But, true to myself to the end even it took me over a high cliff, my entire focus centered on self-preservation. I was very embarrassed over her reprimand and how fucked up it was that Dax had turned into such a bastard to go whining to Mom and Dad and make me look bad. It was one thing for me to admit my transgressions but totally different for him to rat me out. Not that he was the only one to blame, but all I could think of was how he seemed to be trying to steal my parents away so they’d side against me.
“Did you ever follow through on your counseling visit?” she asked.
Well no. I hadn’t seen any need. What Isaac had done to me was so short-lived and didn’t affect me all that much. I had gotten over it on my own without the help of professionals, and I certainly didn’t want to embarrass myself by confessing I’d let my boyfriend push me around and turn me into his punching bag. Here I was, six-foot-two, and I had cowed before his fists. It wasn’t anyone else’s business.
Mom said it was time for me to take the advice Dax had given me six months before and go into therapy. She said I had residual issues with the assaults, not to mention the constant criticism and name-calling I'd suffered. Refusing to admit anything I just sat there, and it was easier for me to blame Dax and smolder in anger. I was glad that Mom wasn’t looking at me right that moment because she didn’t see me roll my eyes. I almost laughed aloud when she reminded me how Dax had been in counseling for well over a year and it was helping him. I secretly disagreed; he had a lot of unresolved issues, his drug use being the worst one.
Once I half-heartedly promised to attend therapy if she set it up for me, Mom finally accepted my apology. I decided it was only one hour a week needed to humor my parents and maybe I wouldn’t even have to do that. All it took was rescheduling a couple times and finally promising to call back without truly intending to. I was great at coming up with other ways to spend my time and put off contacting a counselor until it was forgotten. In the meantime I earned my way back into their good graces.
Despite the early drama over Dax, I was looking forward to a relaxing summer even though I knew I’d have to knuckle down and adjust to house rules again. Living the wild-party life in my college dorm meant nobody except the administration and RA really cared if we were underage as long as we drank responsibly. The idea was not to be telling your business to the whole world and definitely don’t get caught. So, careful I was… in all ways, not just appearances.
My grades had been decent, and I even had several hundred dollars more in my bank account because of my Chinese take-out job. Not sporting any piercings or ink, I hadn’t acquired an interest in sitting around blazed on weed. The only sex I indulged in since jettisoning my ex had been safe, casual and low-key with the one quiet boy and his nice body that I didn’t mind taking into my bed on occasion but didn’t want a LTR with. I wasn’t bringing any crazy, punk-ass boyfriends home to meet the folks.
Mom and Dad seemed to be satisfied with my newfound self-reliance and adult attitude. They were grateful that Isaac’s problems with me simply evaporated after the New Year and the rest of my second semester was prosperous and peaceful. I was careful not to inquire about Dax more than what they wanted to share, but I was shocked when my father told me to steer clear of him altogether. Figuring that all he needed was time and I could wait, I hung out instead with some of the guys I knew from high school. They weren’t really my ‘group’, but they were fun.
Every once in awhile, my parents forgot I was around and broke their own rule to talk about Dax with such emotion it was if I was privy to a sacred moment. Something important had recently changed in his status, but when I requested further information they answered with a vague ‘he’s good’ and left it at that. I was curious over what had prompted the difference, but they would not let me pry into his life and reminded me that Dax wanted it this way. Confusion welled up inside me, this time due to my feelings of inadequacy, like he was taking my place in the family. I knew I was acting peevish.
Sometimes on a Tuesday my parents would ask me to make myself scarce, and I knew they had asked Dax to come to dinner. I guess he only had Tuesday nights off from his restaurant job. I wanted so badly to hang around and try to see him, to talk to him, even if it was just to apologize. However, I knew if I ever wanted anyone to trust me I had to follow instructions, so I would eat early and plan something with friends. At times all I could arrange was to disappear into my bedroom, and I made myself scarce.
It wasn’t that they didn’t love me or wanted to be unkind. Like my words circling around to trap me, Dax was a valued member of the family, just as I had drilled into Isaac’s head. Not only that, he was just as uncomfortable being around me as he'd been during the school year, and Mom and Dad seemed to be protecting him. Hearing that he wasn’t ready for my apology made me angry. I burned in resentment and that added to my guilt.
The end of my college freshman year had, of course, meant finals, and I felt fortunate because good grades came easy for me. I had slacked off somewhat in the middle of the term, and with me crashing near the end I was sure I was going to fuck up this part of my life as badly as my personal side. Somehow I still managed near straight-A’s.
Except for the week I took off to detox, I was caught in a time crunch. The cold-turkey way I quit the pills sapped my strength, but I enrolled in a couple summer classes. Combined with a forty-hour workweek, it was killer. I had no idea what I wanted in the way of a career, but I still had time to declare a major. I got my old job back at the seafood restaurant so I wouldn’t have a lot of empty time on my hands over the summer to be lonely.
I stopped using and went back to work. Everyone I knew said I looked great without claiming to have known what had changed for me. I could hardly believe that and thought that so many people must go around with blinders on, not paying attention to others because they’re afraid of opening themselves up to someone else’s sorrow. It’s hard to extend a hand when you don’t know how far-reaching the assistance required of you might be.
No matter. I started regaining the weight I’d lost because of the drugs and filled out. Seaview College had an open door policy in regards to their weight rooms, and I began working out occasionally. I spent a lot of time at Mom and Dad’s helping around the house and yard. They were my family now, and I needed to make myself useful.
Without my quite realizing it, spring had passed into May and the first anniversary of The Day rolled around. Psychologically, I felt the pull to lose myself in chemical comfort, but I refused to give in, at least to the drugs. Instead, I indulged in beer-infused reflection, maybe unwisely after my recent rehab. It was only for two hours, and for that awful time, between the hours of three and five, I just sat in my living room feeling sorry for myself and judging myself severely for being so trusting. I even had some pity for Michael.
By mid-July I had been sober for almost seven weeks. I decided to seek out Milo Patterson, my friend from the bar that I’d met in late winter. I needed to show him that I’d kicked my drug habit and hoped he would live up to his word when he said he wanted a relationship without the addiction problems attached. I didn’t try to kid myself about being in love with him, but I was ready for a commitment and hoped my feelings would grow. My one worry was that Milo’s classes had ended two months before, and I didn’t know if he was a local kid or not. I only had an address, no cell number.
Luck was not on my side, however. On a spring evening I drove to the apartment building which, except for two young teens skateboarding in the parking lot, looked deserted. I went to his door and rang the doorbell, but the porch had a dusty, neglected air. The skateboarders looked at me curiously. “Milo’s gone,” said one.
“Is he at work or school?” I inquired. The two boys conferred, wondering if I could be trusted with the information. I think my age worked in my favor.
“Nah, he’s gone-gone,” the other said. “Milo moved out last month.”
I sat in my truck and sorted out my feelings. I frowned, figuring that fate had a hell of a black side. I should’ve kept in touch Milo like he asked because I didn’t personally know anyone who was a mutual friend. Hell, he probably never expected me to kick my drug habit. It was like I was the epitome of Murphy’s Law— if there was a way that anything bad could happen, it would. I was beginning to think I must be one of those people who were destined to always be unlucky in love, but I tried not to let it get me down. It just meant a shift in my plans and a return to the dating scene which I suck at. So was this me getting jaded at nineteen?
Well, not quite. A week later I met this very cute guy in his early twenties at another dance club and fell instantly in like. Se la vie.
Brendan Appleby was from a little hick town called Derrington in central Missouri- or Misery, as he called it. A senior on a sports scholarship at a university in San Diego, his major was math and teaching, and he was a sprinter on the college track team. Yeah, he was another example of how I liked my boyfriends several years older than me. At this rate I would never be an alpha male, but I enjoyed the safety of being looked after.
He had grinned a captivating smile at me from the other end of the bar where he was nursing a whiskey and soda, the lighting catching the natural sun-kissed highlights in his chocolate hair and the like-colored hairs on his forearms, and I lifted my own shot glass to him and made my way down to join him. Four hours later when they were closing the joint down we were still talking at a corner table and laughing at anecdotes about our lives.
Brendan seemed to like me too, but we took it slow. I made it a point not to get naked on the first date, guarding my heart and all. We dated innocently, going to clubs to dance, seeing a couple of action-adventure films at the cinema and eating lots of pizza. He loved pizza. He liked to cuddle in front of the television in the apartment he shared with his female cousin, Lauren, and her best friend. The girls were cute in a non-sexual way, and Lauren was protective of him. She called him an innocent lamb. Brendan was stunning.
Not at all like Michael or Connor, Brendan was slightly taller and thinner than my five-foot-ten frame and had a well-defined musculature, especially in his lower torso, with a curvy ass and long, strong legs and thighs from running. His golden skin could not hide his frequent blushing. His fringed eyes were sky blue, and his short, brown hair was curly and very shiny. He had the face of an angel, and his highly-accented southern drawl was boyishly cute.
Brendan’s personality was very different from anyone else I knew. For one thing, with the exception of an occasional ‘damn’, he didn’t curse and didn’t like it when I did either. That created something of a challenge, believe me. The only liquor he drank was Jack Daniels, my favorite, but in moderation, and I cut back too for his sake. He had down home country charm, good southern manners and a rare honesty that I thought was very sexy. He didn’t smother me in phony compliments, so what praise he did give was from the heart.
Brendan said he was from a large, traditional family and had been an obedient church-going kid before breaking away for college. His family didn’t know he was gay, and he purposely chose a California school because it was the Pacific coast and as far philosophically from Missouri as he could get. Here was the freedom he needed to fully explore his sexuality without recrimination. He was careful who he shared his life and body with, and In his three years since moving from Derrington, he’d only had one short-term boyfriend of any significance.
Brendan had a sincere sweetness about him that was almost pure. Always polite and asking consent before initiating anything, he was quiet but expressed his desires well. The sex shit… uh, stuff… that was kinky and obviously dominating made him very uncomfortable. We had spirited debates on every subject we could think of. He said he didn’t even know he was gay until college and wasn’t a virgin by any means, but he was certain that if his parents found out they’d probably kick him out of the house.
The first time we came together was in my apartment. It was much shabbier than his, but in mine we had a privacy he couldn’t get with the two girls around. His cousin was a nice girl but an unmerciful tease, and the one advantage to me was that she knew how to get him worked up and blushing becomingly. Lauren rolled her eyes and made pseudo-snide comments when we snuggled in their living room, but she was okay. She had guarded Brendan’s secret from his bigoted family since his arrival.
It was two weeks after we met, and we had spent the evening dancing at a large warehouse-turned-club down the street from Cobbles. I had stopped smoking along with kicking my drug habit, and Brendan didn’t smoke either. The tobacco-swirled atmosphere was worse than usual and getting to both of us. We left choking and eyes watering, picked up some fast food and ended up at my place. Cheeseburgers and fries with Jack is a weird taste experience.
Brendan came up with the idea of sharing fries by gripping one end with his teeth and having me bite the other half off, and every piece meant a shared kiss. By the time the fries were gone, Brendan was straddling my lap and had both of his hands wound into my hair, kissing me fiercely, letting me know he wanted me. His warm, pink lips were so soft on mine and tasted of ketchup and salt. I could see the outline of his dick pressing against the zipper of his shorts, and I already felt the room in my crotch shrinking in my tight pants.
Brendan’s tongue probed my mouth, and we lost our breath, kissing passionately. He was so sexy. I grabbed his ass to pull him closer into my groin so we could grind into each other as I wrestled with his tongue. I reached out to feel all the little spots on his upper body- the shell of his ears, the hollow of his throat and across his collar bones- that I loved. His eyes were slightly out of focus, and my touches made him sigh against my lips. My mouth followed my fingers, and just his nearness made my senses swim.
Brendan jumped up, pulling on my arm, and we shucked off sandals, shorts and t-shirts as we ran to my bedroom. Our hands were immediately all over each others’ bodies, stroking down faces and across muscles, tweaking nipples as we moaned in pleasure. Brendan’s were flat and brown, surrounded by golden areola’s the size of quarters, and they shriveled into little knots when I licked them. We were breathing in short, hard gasps. Little jolts went straight to my straining cock bobbing against my abdomen and dripping precum down the head. Brendan’s dick, uncut, thick and at least seven and a half inches long, leaked profusely from the dusky pink tip.
I pushed him down by his shoulders to make him sit on the bed. Grabbing his hips to slide him to the edge of the mattress so his legs hung over the side, I knelt between his strong thighs. Brendan leaned back on his elbows, gazed down his agile, golden body at me and smiled, chest heaving in anticipation. With one hand I took his balls to pull gently on the sac and run my fingernails up it. With a sharp intake of breath, the muscles in Brendan’s torso went taut. When I bent over his musky cock and my lips opened to slurp the flared head into my mouth, he groaned loudly and his eyes glazed over in lust.
Gently I pushed the foreskin back and ran my tongue over the slit, bringing more of his precum to the surface and sucking its saltiness into my mouth. As I began to slide up and down his pole my tongue fluttered over the veins and across the sensitive underside causing Brendan to buck and throw his head back, whimpering. In a sliding rhythm my mouth and hand synchronized as I sucked, taking him deeper into my mouth with every downward movement. Soon I had sunk to the base, my nose nestled in his dark pubic curls. “Oh Dax,” he moaned.
Brendan’s groin was rolling under me as he strained towards his climax. I shivered watching him, the sight of his slim, twisting body so arousing. Reaching between my legs, I wrapped a hand around my own hardened dick. My fingers gathered up the dripping precum and brushed across the head, making me jerk from my own touch. I groaned as I rubbed my cock with a well-practiced hand that soon had me panting and focused.
I worked each of us simultaneously, feeling the intensity build inside me and begin to spread out through my limbs. Both of us were sweating and grunting, and I could feel my release crawling closer and pitching steeply. Brendan was writhing everywhere, scarcely aware of his surroundings. His hand was knotted in my hair, pulling hard, which turned me on even more. His hips lifted to drive his cock frantically into my mouth. Every time he slid his tool down my throat my tongue fondled his hardness; every reverse brought me sucking firmly on him.
Brendan was babbling, his other hand clutching the quilt, every sound from his open mouth beautiful to my ears. I saw his body suddenly tighten and felt his cock swell. His eyes fluttered open as he quietly moaned, “oh, oh,” and his smoothly toned back arched in a half-circle. He came hard in my mouth, his eruption filling it with his essence. He mewled as ropes of his salty cum coated my tongue and I swallowed and sucked him clean.
With short, fevered strokes on my cock, Brendan’s rapture swept me over the top, and I felt a flash inside my head and tingling all over. I called out Brendan’s name in a growl, my flesh pulsing with power that began in my balls. I quivered and clutched at Brendan’s thigh for support as I unloaded streams of my sperm onto the wooden floor.
Both of us winded, Brendan hauled me to my feet and pulled me down on the bed beside him. We nuzzled each other in sweet kisses as he stroked my cheek and I ran my fingers through his soft curls. “Oh Dax,” he drawled quietly before giggling at the slightly dazed look on my face. “You’re good at that.”
I laughed along and gave him a firm, searching kiss to show my appreciation. We were still half-hard, and I looked into Brendan’s astonishingly blue eyes, feeling a connection. He blushed pink and grinned. “Can I… you know… with you?”
I couldn’t help but tease a little. “The word is ‘fuck’, Brendan, and it isn’t wrong to say it.” He blushed even more and then moaned as my hand roamed over his groin to find his dick and bring his erection back to full. All it took was some fevered stroking with a little twist of the fingers, and I was hurriedly fishing lube and a condom out my nightstand drawer.
“Dax, I want you on your back under me,” Brendan husked against my lips. “I want to see your face when you...”
He grabbed one of my pillows and settled it under my hips before taking the lube and squirting some on his fingers. I pulled my knees to my armpits, exposing my puckered hole to him. Looking at me with hungry eyes, Brendan leaned over to prepare me with scorching kisses as he rubbed the lube into me and slowly inserted his finger to the middle knuckle. My breath hitched; it had been awhile since I’d been with anyone and I found it hard to relax. “Shh,” Brendan comforted me, stroking my hair. “I’ll go real slow, Dax.”
I closed my eyes and just let myself feel and enjoy. The second finger went up my hole, scissoring, stretching and stroking me, and by the time Brendan added the third I had broken out in a sweat and my hips were dancing on the mattress. He tapped my prostate and I groaned. “Now, Brendan, now please… need you,” I entreated him breathlessly. He rolled a condom down his stiff shaft and slicked it up.
Brendan moved into position and placed a hand low on my abdomen under my navel. With his other, he fed his cock into my red, well-lubed pucker until the head broke through the constriction of the ring. I arched my back and breathed deeply, feeling the burning and pain and fullness. I bore down, and Brendan kissed me hard as I relaxed. The rawness diminished to a dull ache almost right away, and Brendan began sliding his large dick into me inch by inch until he had me impaled to his balls.
He stretched me and I loved it, had missed it. With deep strokes, Brendan began to slide in and out of me, and we both moaned at the same time. He shifted his direction by a fraction, sliding over my prostate, and oh god! With his hand on my stomach it was like the small gland was being trapped between, and my cock thickened quickly. Already I felt the exquisite pleasure building inside that signaled I wouldn’t last long, and Brendan took my cock in his hand to squeeze and stroke it. Both of us were in our own worlds, sweating and groaning.
The end was sudden and so intense I saw blinding blue light behind my eyelids. Brendan was thrusting with short, hard jabs and had leaned over me as my groin went skyward, my body caught in a tight lock of muscles and sinew. “Oh fuck, Brendan,” I screamed as my head thrashed in agonized bliss and I blindly reached out to find his bicep for support. I squeezed hard, sinking my fingers into his muscles. My first blast of cum splattered on my chest, the second on his chest and subsequent shots pooled in my navel and slid into my pubic hair and down my sides. I wasn’t aware of his passionate concentration on me.
By the time I came back to myself, my clenching ass was bringing Brendan to his own forceful orgasm and he was shuddering above me, his face slack with pleasure. “Damn, Dax, damn… oh!” His cum ejected into the condom is hot bursts and he continued to drive into me with each one. The vision of him, eyes closed, breath huffing like a freight train, swelled my heart. I wanted to laugh over how my angelic lover was quite the devil in bed.
I pulled him into my arms when his penis turned soft, his arms collapsing under him, and he sprawled against me in warm stickiness. I kissed Brendan’s damp hair as he calmed and began to breathe regularly again. I found a washcloth and used warm water to clean the cum and sweat off of both of us. Brendan was exhausted, half asleep. “You were so beautiful when you came, Dax,” he whispered, cuddling into me.
Brendan and I slept with our arms wrapped around each other and awoke the next morning to frantic kissing and mutual fondling before I had to shower and ready myself for work. Over the next couple of weeks we grew very close, and the ache in my heart eased belonging to someone. I forgot about Michael, forgot about Milo and Connor and just let myself be happy.
I began my sophomore year at Seaview College in late August, and spending time with Brendan became a big challenge with the shift in schedules. He was busy with his teaching studies, and one of things we had in common was our predilection for math. He chose to take a heavy course load, figuring he might as well dabble in some music and art classes in case he needed them for employment later. He found part-time employment on campus so he was at the university a lot. The seasonal restaurant kitchen job which employed me for twenty hours a week ended at the end of the tourist season, but I still had my full-time job unloading trucks for the store, and along with my eighteen units at Seaview I wasn’t home much either.
I took care of rent, food and my bills, leaving plenty of money in my checking account. I still had some of my mother’s settlement left, even with the money I put out for my college education and chemical indiscretions. Due to not having the necessities of life at an early age, I had a difficult time spending it now. I preferred to save money for a rainy day rather than buy things I didn’t need. It certainly wasn’t going for drugs, much to the dismay of my dealers.
I began to view my apartment through my lover’s eyes, even though he never judged me, and I saw how run down it was. He wanted me to move in with him, but I remembered my lesson from Connor and declined knowing how ephemeral love can be. I was afraid of ending up without a place of my own, and he would be graduating in nine months with no concrete plans. We weren’t able to share my place either without causing a financial mess for his cousin, Lauren, so I rented a slightly larger and nicer apartment closer to the college. Brendan was already staying with me most nights anyway. One small detail shot through my brain as I signed the lease: Michael no longer knew where I lived. It made me very happy.
I felt my heart opening to Brendan. He was perfect for me in so many ways I wasn’t surprised that we got along as well as we did. We took our relationship slow, careful to listen to each other and pay attention for any sign of dissatisfaction, but our disagreements were small. I asked for his opinion all the time, not that I didn’t trust myself but to be open and aboveboard so the small disparities couldn’t threaten us. Sex was always exhilarating. He was pleased that I was younger than him, and I usually deferred to his judgment and decisions, but he let me lead in the bedroom. Not that he took advantage of me, he was too sweet to do that, and he slowly brought me out of my shell. He encouraged me to be myself at college, and I tried for his sake.
If dealing with my parents’ secrecy and Dax’s decision to ignore me wasn’t bad enough, by mid-summer I learned that he had found a new boyfriend- Brendan Somebody. I still had not laid eyes on him once and it was driving me batty. I overheard Mom and Dad talking and from what I could figure out from the conversation that I wasn’t supposed to be listening to, they met at a club and were nearly inseparable. After a few weeks Dax brought him by on his evening visits, which was natural, so I made sure I was long gone by the time they arrived. It played havoc with my conflicted feelings, and I turned green with jealousy.
My parents surprised me at the end of the month by announcing that my older sister, Jana, was getting married in mid-October to her long-term boyfriend, David. He asked me to be in the wedding party; I was her sibling after all, but the family would have to work out the details since I would still be in school up at Humboldt.
“I think it would be wise for you to prepare yourself to be polite and get along because Dax will also be a groomsman,” Mom said lightly. But I could see the warning in her eyes and knew what she was referring to.
As we passed into August, Dax continued to see Brendan. From my bedroom one night I overheard my parents discussing how serious they were getting about each other. Brendan was invited to the wedding and reception as Dax’s date. I think I threw a CD across the room and smashed the case against the wall in rage and bitterness. I had no desire to meet this Brendan person or spend even a second with them. I couldn’t face Dax taking another lover when I still adored him so much! No matter what I did, to my way of thinking, Dax was still mine.
I went back to school in Humboldt, and with a series of gentle threats from my parents it became clear that I could no longer put off my promise to start counseling. Through the college I set up weekly sessions with a man named Regent, and the old adage— you can lead a horse to water… became true for me. Yes, I sat through the hour with him and grudgingly responded to his questions, but I did nothing in the way of sharing anything of import. I still felt it was a huge waste of time.
I returned to Santa Bella by plane for Jana’s wedding the second weekend in October which, ironically, was the anniversary of my first confrontation with Dax over his drug use. I was dreading seeing him, not just because he was bringing a boyfriend I didn’t want to meet, but to see the devastation that a year’s worth of weed, pills and the other shit had wrought in him would crush me. I had long since given up trying to get any information out of my parents, and if there was one positive aspect for going to university so far away from home it was that I didn’t have to live in the same town as him every day and worry about running into him. He was slowly killing himself and I hated watching it happen.
My parents had rented me a tux for the wedding; it was black with a mauve-gray shirt, bowtie and tails, and it had so many pieces I didn’t know what to do with them. I had never attended any school proms with a girl, being into boys, and even then I was never seriously dating anyone in the spring until Dax. But he didn’t want to be outed our senior year, so I couldn’t very well invite him. I knew Dax would be wearing a matching tux and imagined him in it, but I was fantasizing over the way he used to be. Healthy and filled out without the twitching and shaking, his long, blonde hair shiny, brown eyes sparkling. I hoped he managed to stay sober and not ruin the wedding for Jana. What was everyone thinking, asking him to participate?
The weather for the wedding weekend was clear and warm. Friday night was the rehearsal, followed by a celebratory dinner paid for by my parents for the wedding party, the groom’s family and close friends. I was very apprehensive about seeing Dax for the first time, especially with his boyfriend in tow.
Dax! He walked into the church holding the hand of tall, slim boy with curly streaked hair, very blue eyes and the kind of face you see in historic paintings of the saints. At first glance I felt a shot of relief go through me because Dax looked heavier, so he’d put on weight. He was laughing at something Brendan said, and the other responded with a romantic nuzzle into Dax’s neck, followed by a kiss. It was a very public display that Dax would’ve nervously shied away from two years ago, and he just accepted it like it was the most ordinary thing in the world. I should’ve been proud he was so out, but I wasn’t.
My parents greeted Dax with hugs and he reciprocated. I heard him address them as ‘Mom and Dad’. When did this happen? Linnie squealed and made a beeline for Dax who caught her up in another big hug. Jana also seemed happy to see him, and it was clear they had become very comfortable with each other. My family was also on good terms with Brendan. God, this was so unexpected, and all of a sudden I felt like an outsider. They were the happy family group; I was the nobody kid, simmering over what looked like a stealth takeover of my parents and sisters. With the way Brendan was holding on to Dax and cuddling with him, he seemed happy and carefree, like he was the All-American boy. Yeah, this weekend was going to be damned uncomfortable.
The wedding coordinator took over and we practiced over and over in the dimly lit church sanctuary. The only positive was how Dax was positioned next to me in the group of groomsmen at the altar. I studied him when he wasn’t paying attention, and what I saw surprised the hell out of me. Dax was off drugs. Completely and totally off the pills that had tormented his life. Gone were the red-rimmed, exhausted eyes, the confusion and shaky tremors, the skin and bones appearance. He had grown another inch and filled out and he was alert and radiant. In fact, Dax was gorgeous. I sucked in my breath and had to force myself to stop staring. My dick plumped up with longing, and I adjusted my clothes to hide it.
After the rehearsal we all adjourned to a favorite Italian restaurant where my parents had rented out the banquet room. We had a dinner of several courses. Dax and his boy toy sat at another table with Linnie, having a good time laughing and joking with her. I couldn’t help but be sullen, wishing I didn’t have to be witness to their joy and affection. I knew I was acting like a spoiled brat but didn’t care. Dax was at ease, and it was like my brother from high school was back. No, that wasn’t right either. He was much more confident than I’d ever known him, in charge of himself and looking like he’d been struck by Cupid’s arrow.
He glowed. Dax and Brendan held hands, above the table, unashamed. Brendan leaned over and whispered something into Dax’s ear, and my bro’s cheeks reddened sweetly. He gave his new boyfriend a light kiss under his jaw, fingers gently moving over the back of his hand; I saw his lips move, and it was Brendan’s turn to blush to the roots. After dinner they wandered around hand in hand talking to the other guests, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off him.
One of my aunts commandeered my attention to ask about college, and I was having a hard time following the conversation. I became more and more frustrated, knowing I had to get out of there before I embarrassed myself and said something stupid. I excused myself from her company and turned around, moving without looking and almost knocked Dax over.
I think I mumbled a ‘Hi’.
“Hi,” he said, returning my gaze. He barely smiled, although his voice was pleasant.
“Wow, you look great, Dax,” I said, sincerely meaning it. “I didn’t know you stopped using, but good for you.” There was absolutely no sign of addiction in him.
“Uh… thanks, Michael,” he said amicably with just a thin current of insecurity under the surface. “Yeah, I didn’t…” I could tell he was being polite for the sake of my family. He probably wished he were anywhere but talking to me. I was just about to move away when his new boyfriend walked up and put his arm around Dax’s shoulders. Dax snuggled comfortably into the other boy’s side, and I flushed. I looked at the floor so I didn’t give myself away. Shit!
“Michael,” Dax said, smiling at the taller, sun-streaked boy with tender pride and reaching around his waist to pull him closer. “This is Brendan, my boyfriend. Brendan, this is Michael, my uh… brother.”
“Hello,” the boy greeted me quietly. He looked back and forth between us, very confused. “Dax… what? Ah… Is this…” Brendan had a pronounced southern accent and pronounced Dax’s name in two syllables: ‘Day-ux’.
Dax laughed and fondly kissed Brendan on the cheek. “Yes, this is the Michael. He’s also kind of my brother, but not blood-related. The Capshaws are my guardians. Remember, I told you about him?”
Brendan looked over at me with a quick anger in his eyes. Oh yes, it was apparent that Dax had told him all about me. I had maybe an inch and about twenty pounds on him, but Brendan’s intensity scared the hell out of me. He looked like he wanted to rip my head off, and involuntarily I backed up a step.
“Sorry to make this family reunion short,” Dax said, acting anything but sorry. “But we have plans for later.” Brendan threw him a wickedly sexy leer, and Dax smiled back in kind, both turning away without saying goodbye.
They were halfway across the room where I was stuck, staring with my mouth open at his nerve. Dax swiveled with a sardonic grin on his face. “Do you still think you need to order my coffin, Michael?” And they were gone.
I blanched. Dax’s chilly nonchalance struck me like a slap and I couldn’t believe how much he’d changed. It was like getting clean had completely altered his personality. Or maybe it was the result of hanging out with his new lover. I didn’t like this different, confident Dax at all. It made me jealous as hell. I resented that he was making strides to move on and I couldn’t, still stuck back in last year and soaking up another big dose of regret.
I drove home in a foul mood and holed up in my bedroom, feeling completely at a loss and drinking a pilfered beer to calm myself down. Where was my shy brother, the sweetest of guys who only saw the positive and hardly ever raised his voice in anger? It certainly went beyond Brendan; I had noticed seeds of change the previous autumn when I confronted him about his drug use. And again in February when we screamed at each other in his apartment. Was this my fault? Or did the drugs wring this ugly transformation in him.
My parents arrived home a good hour after I did, ready to chastise me for ditching the party early. They came looking for me, and it was clear we were all very upset. “What is going on with Dax?” I demanded.
Mom looked at me with sympathy. “Dax was very worried about seeing you again, especially over introducing you to Brendan.”
I could definitely see why but that didn’t give him the right to treat me like shit. I raged at my parents and told them how everyone in the family had made me feel at the rehearsal, and straightaway, Dad cleared up several mysteries that had been bugging me. Dax was not the one who had whined to them about our Christmas fight, nor had he in any way tried to take my place with them.
“He stopped using drugs, didn’t he,” I demanded. “When did that happen? How?” Shooting looks between them, my parents explained that Dax wanted to keep his life private, but I kept begging them.
“I just want to know how he got clean. Is that too much to ask?”
They finally relented and told me about the week in May he moved home and more or less detoxed on his own. They had not been able to leave him alone, nor did they want to, or he might have died. It had been very hard for him to break his habit, but he’d been successful and had made a lot of progress since.
My parents’ account brought back memories of the end of school and how they wanted me to take my time coming home. There were so many conflicting emotions going through me I didn’t know how to feel. I let anger take prominence.
“So he’s been clean for the last five months and nobody thought I deserved to know?” I grit out, shooting glares at both my parents. “I have been worried sick about his addiction, and… and I’m the… the one who told you guys to keep an eye on him. All you had to say…” I burst into tears, partly relief, partly anger and hurt.
Dad looked at Mom, and I could read the guilt all over them. Maybe these had been Dax’s direct orders, but someone went way overboard on the secrecy, and I was the one who got screwed. I was so upset I wanted to punch Dax for his insensitivity. My life was an open book, but he acted like he was some secret agent. It wasn’t fair.
Mom came over and gave me a huge hug.
“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. We just didn’t think.” Mom explained how, as proud as he was, Dax wouldn’t have wanted me witnessing him sweating and puking, and I guess it made sense. “He was so sick,” she worried in remembrance. “But he was never weak, at least not mentally. Dax is very tough and was determined to kick the pills. He deserves a world of credit for what he accomplished.”
I sniffled, trying to calm down and see it from his point of view. As self-righteous as I was, I deserved being left out of the loop. Dax deserved a brother who wasn’t a jealous asshole. No wonder he was angry at me.
I steeled myself to get through the wedding and change my attitude towards him and Brendan. I was going to be nice for everyone’s sake, and for the most part I was successful. Dax cut quite a dashing figure in his tux, but my admiration was in quick glances, enough to add to my jack off memories. We kept to our roles during the romantic ceremony, and Jana and David made a handsome couple. The photographer snapped pictures, mostly family photos, a few of just Dax and me while we tried not to look like we hated one another. We sat at the attendants’ table with the bridesmaids and the groomsmen at the reception. He flirted with Brendan when no one was looking. Mostly I ignored him without being impolite. The day was painful. I was glad when it was over.
Two days later I returned to Humboldt to lose myself in the rest of my sophomore year and find a way to be happy without Dax.
Within a week I was contacted by Regent, my former counselor, asking if we should resume therapy. I went to talk to him and mentioned Dax and Brendan. Somehow, he knew I hadn’t been taking our sessions seriously, despite everyone’s urging. Regent wanted me to work out my unresolved feelings for Dax. And that was fine, I was ready now to acknowledge I needed his help. Just as long as he didn’t take my feelings for Dax away, I would give up any secret. The only solution I had left was to love him from afar, like a warm blanket. I would have to be happy with it until he let me get closer.
I was pleased when Jana asked me to participate in her wedding. It meant that not only did her parents think of me as their son, but I gained two sisters too. I anticipated the ceremony with trepidation, concerned about seeing Michael again who I’d steered clear of since February. I’d heard from the Capshaws that he was deeply sorry for what he’d said to me, but that’s the thing with carelessly throwing words around. You can say you’re sorry, but it doesn’t un-say them.
Jana's marriage was rather surreal. I was made welcome by everyone in the Capshaw family—all but Michael. There’s just something about him that refuses to let go, but I’ve given up trying to figure him out. He was quiet, and I picked up a curious jealous vibe from him. It was not only directed at Brendan but also at me, like he was angry I was there. I didn’t let it concern me. I was introduced to extended family members, did my duty to the groom and watched with pride as Brendan charmed all of them.
My boyfriend knows all my secrets, including what Michael did. He had taken an instant dislike on that knowledge alone, but when they met at the rehearsal dinner, Brendan was very unhappy. He claims that Michael still loves me and wants me back. It felt like déjà vu, but I’m not Michael. I know who my past is, and there has never been any doubt for me that the healthiest thing I can do is put time and distance between us.
I couldn’t tell exactly, but I don’t think Michael realized I had ditched the pills and other drugs until he saw me at the rehearsal. He looked happy but shocked at the same time. I had to admit that the surprise on Michael’s face made me laugh under my breath. I accepted his sincere congratulations with an interesting lack of curiosity, grasping that I truly didn’t care what he thought. I was eager to find Brendan and leave, both of us turned on by the romance and wanting to go back to my place to make love. But it was mean to goad Michael with the words he used in February, and as soon as I saw him turn pale I felt bad. Well, kind of.
That Friday was the night Brendan and I first talked about how our feelings for each other had grown. He was collapsed between my legs after an magnificent blowjob, his head resting on my thigh as we gently touched each other in afterglow. “I love you, Dax,” he sighed. “Truly, I do.”
“I love you too, Brendan.” I ran my fingers through his dark curls. “You make me so happy.” I meant it. I loved him.
The months slowly passed, and I everything was good, especially with Brendan. Mostly we were at my place, and it felt good waking up with him cuddled into my back. Mornings were always hectic as I prepared for work, and he had to drive to San Diego for classes. I gave him a key to my apartment so he could get in when he needed; on Mondays and Wednesdays I had class beginning at three o’clock, and he worked four afternoons a week. What spare time I had was spent with him, and we had a quiet, loving bond without the drama. We entertained ourselves in a variety of ways, and with his devotion my demons were finally quieting. I had even cut down on counseling and saw Zeke Carter, my therapist, on an as-needed basis.
School was a bit stressful as I struggled to keep my grades up, and Brendan encouraged me, seeming pleased. We talked about me transferring to a four-year school following Seaview and what I would major in. I was beginning to feel a pull towards social work or psychology, and Brendan proudly said I would make a good counselor. Work was going well too, and with the holidays drawing near, I had lots of overtime.
I still ate dinner weekly with Mom and Dad, sometimes alone, sometimes taking Brendan. They admitted that they broke down and told Michael about the week I kicked drugs because he was very upset after the rehearsal. He was angry at his parents and me for not letting him know I was clean because all this time he’d been scared to death I was going to overdose some day. That truly made me look at it differently, and it’s my fault for not even thinking about how he must have felt.
Michael seems sorry for his behavior last year. He acted so sad at the wedding, just kind of lost. Unfortunately, despite all my warnings, he’s still in love with me which is rather pitiful. I accepted his apology for hurting me eight months ago, and I wish I could do more, but Michael is going to have to make his own way. He’s just a person in my life for a very short part of it and I wished him well in his endeavors. I hoped that he found someone to fulfill him the way Brendan did me, but I couldn’t give him what he wanted.
I was feeling very light-hearted going into the end of the year and the holiday season. For the first time in over eighteen months I felt serene, like I could handle anything. Having Brendan by my side was such a blessing, and I knew he loved me. I was anticipating a nice Christmas and looking forward to my future… as long as fate didn’t come along and fuck it up.
(To be continued...)