God Only Knows What I'd Be Without You
Despite the beer, Michael was not intoxicated. With expert precision and by taking the side streets to my apartment, the twenty minute drive from the club took twelve. I was trembling with need by the time we arrived, and we lost no time parking and getting inside. No sooner had I locked the door behind us than Michael had me turned around and slammed up against the wall. Neither of us had bothered to turn on a light, and his mouth swooped down on mine: blistering, brutal, taking me hostage without setting ransom. I was exactly where I wanted to be- within his embrace in the inky, warm darkness with his tongue stuck down my throat and our cocks hardening to our heartbeats.
“All night, Dax,” Michael whispered roughly. “You played me all night so I hope you’re ready for me.” I shivered at the raw dominance in his voice.
Michael’s words left my knees ready to buckle and only the presence of his upper body held me in place. I could feel his chest heaving as I stared up directly into his golden eyes. His hands locked into the front of my shirt to drag me closer, and I let him confine me in the prison of his chest and shoulders as our passion met and entwined.
“I think someone is ready for our ‘anything’ session now?” I was trying to be flippant. “Like three orgasms in the past twenty-four hours weren’t enough for you?”
He lifted his mouth from mine with a raised eyebrow. “Just remember who made the deal,” he answered quietly. “I’m going to fuck you into tomorrow...”
“Is that a promise?” I squeaked, knowing and not caring that I was playing with fire by pushing at his tenuous link with composure. “My dark side wants to come out and play with your dark side.”
His eyes went black with sheer lust. “Don’t tempt me, Dax,” he warned, gripping my messy braid firmly and pulling. I moaned at the sensation of near-pain in my scalp. “I know ways to keep you on edge for hours.” His gaze hungrily raked my body before stabbing mine in grim determination. “Take everything off.”
Michael released me and stepped back. Undress, huh? Knowing the devastating effect it would have on him, I flicked open the front of my shirt and stretched towards the ceiling like a cat. With a calculated smile I slowly turned my back on him, my eyes never leaving the face of the man I adored. I shifted the black cotton up my shoulders an inch at a time to bare my arms in a tortuously slow striptease, gyrating exotically to distract him. The soft material sensuously grazed my skin, and I shivered as the night air touched me.
Michael leaned against the front door as if he was going to fall over, so aroused he was shaking. Eyes huge and stare feral and predatory, his mouth hung open in blatant desire. His erection was making a damp spot in his jeans. I could feel his heat from the five feet separating us, and I couldn’t breathe.
It was kind of funny how we were trying to outdo each other in ramped up, eye-popping foreplay, but I didn’t dare snicker. I trembled as much as Michael did, already imagining his hands on me and how they would taunt and tantalize me once I was naked.
The shirt finally slipped off my wrists and fluttered to the floor, and I wasted no time moving on to the tank. Gripping the bottom, I lifted it gradually, accentuating the bump and grind by popping my hip and strutting like a pole dancer. I heard Michael growl and my gaze lowered to his crotch where his cock was trying to rip through the stitching of his jeans. My own member was trapped painfully behind the tie strings of my tight leathers, and the undulations of my lower body only increased the pressure. Still, I felt I owed it to Michael to put on my best show, and it took nearly two minutes before my tee went flying into the living room.
Flinging my arms out I spun around, and he attacked me. Literally! Shoved once again into the wall with a solid thump, his mouth tore at my lips and his hands wisped everywhere across my skin.
“You play a risky game, Dax,” he moaned between kisses, shrugging out of his own t-shirt and shoving his thumbs hard into my nipples. I cried out, leaning forward and imploring for more. “Let’s see how you like it when you’re begging me to let you cum.”
With that he drove his twitching hard-on forcefully into my own and rolled his hips, and I nearly came undone then and there. I moaned at the assault on my body; his mouth sucking and biting my neck, shoulders and chest and leaving marks everywhere, his fingers pulling at my nipples until they were red, puffy and over-sensitive. My hands worshipped the skin of his torso, kneading the taut musculature underneath with loving fingers and padding across his stubbly jawline to trace his ears and wind in his hair. I was so turned on, my dick was leaking like a faucet and I could feel my own ever-widening wet spot.
His hands snaked under my ass. “Up,” he commanded. I draped my arms over his shoulders and held on to his hair, kissing him hard and deep. Enfolding my legs around his hips and locking ankles, I wiggled closer and my cock was tightly caught by inflexible pants between firm bodies. Michael carried me to the bedroom, both of us panting in needy expectation and our lips fastened together as if glued. He lowered us to the sheets in one unit, and I held him in my arms while we made out, memorizing the slight bitter aftertaste of beer on his tongue and smelling the hot, musky scent hinting of Santal that was uniquely Michael.
“You’re too much, stripper boy,” he whispered, licking my jaw with a moan. “Too hot to wait for and too sexy to do slow. I need you right now.”
“I’m all yours.” I ached with lust. I couldn’t breathe.
Michael reached down to unfasten the laces of my low pants, and I groaned when he made contact with my weeping dick. His fingers gently skimmed the bare skin between navel and the top of my pubic bush. It was going to end all too soon from his touch alone and I knew I could untie the clothing faster than he was able so I forced his hands away. He left off to work on his own fly, and I heard the pop of buttons and felt him kick his jeans and boxers off. Peeling my leathers down my legs as fast as I could, I precariously tilted in the process, and my erection burst forth gratefully once released from its confines, eager to be stroked.
Now naked and twisting towards each other, Michael locked eyes with me and lunged desperately. Our mouths found each other in a snarl, and his tongue thrust against the seam of my lips, asking me to let him in. There was nothing gentle or slow in this kiss; it was pent up recklessness and obsession and fury, punctuated by loud gulps of air through our noses. I felt like I was going to pass out.
He grunted his own need. “Let me get you ready. On your knees, Dax.”
He grabbed the lube from the nightstand while I stretched out, my ass in the air. Michael stroked first the globes and then down my crack. Plying his hands to stretch and soften, he grazed my sensitive bud and I whimpered. I heard him pop the top from the tube. Cool gel against my heated opening made my breath hitch momentarily. “Sorry,” Michael apologized as his finger entered me and began to saw back and forth. A second finger joined the first to scissor inside, followed by the third, and all I felt was exquisite anticipation. We had been primed for hours, and I was beyond impatient.
“I want you centered on the bed and on your back for me.” Michael pulled his fingers from my open sphincter, leaving a deprived vacancy. He opened a condom and rolled it on before coating himself liberally with lube. I turned over and spread my legs, and he knelt between them. Nearly bending me in half when he lifted my ankles to drape them over his shoulders, he wiggled closer. “I’m warning you now,” he grunted. “I’m won’t be gentle.”
“Good,” I husked back. “Take me. I need you to fuck me hard.”
Michael’s cock bounced as he tilted and pressed the head against my stretched bud. With a pop, he was inside, and my hips pushed back in response. The sharpness of insertion dulled almost instantly, and I enjoyed the familiar ache that only he could give me. My thanks were offered in joyfully taking his manhood into my most private place and with the moans that escaped my mouth as he began to thrust.
Michael didn’t lie about anything… or about ‘anything’. He went flat out from the start, sinking completely into me all the way to his pubic bone by the third plunge. He pulled my legs down, and I snaked them around his ass to draw him further inside me and basked in how full he made me feel and the way our connected skin began to sizzle with fire under the intensity. In and out, his cock sought more depth and he corkscrewed to locate my prostate. I moaned my relief when his long dick scraped against it, and he zeroed in to penalize me for torturing him all night.
“Damn,” I whispered, tendrils of pleasure curling around my core and pushing outward. “Oh Michael, oh damn.”
Michael took total charge and drove into me relentlessly but at his own pace. He paid me no attention when I tried to coax him to fuck me faster and harder. Up into near ecstasy he guided me and back down when he felt I was too close to my orgasm; over and over he denied me. He wouldn’t even let me touch myself. I begged, I threatened, I whimpered, I cajoled all to no avail.
Michael’s cock kept me on edge with long, drawn-out strokes as I writhed in nearly intolerable rhapsody beneath him. Dripping precum followed gravity, and I felt as if my body had been set ablaze. I lost the ability of coherent speech, knowing my thoughts would soon follow. Awash in sweat that pooled in the planes of my torso and besieged by a thousand different sensations all at once, I clawed frantically at his ass. It was sexual abuse, plain and simple, in its most enjoyable form.
After what felt like forever, I sensed a change in Michael as his rhythm faltered and he began to piston into me with short, hard jabs. “Ah Dax, I can’t hold back,” he panted, grabbing my hips tight enough to bruise. He wrapped his fingers around my aching erection and stroked firmly. It throbbed in time to my heartbeat, and I moaned. I was so close, I didn’t just see the stars behind my eyes; I felt them as waves of intense bliss roiled through me.
“Fuuuccck,” I moaned, knowing I was about to cum harder than ever.
With a hoarse cry, Michael erupted. I felt his cock pulse just as he released deep inside me with sharp thrusts peppering each of his emissions into the condom. His orgasm set me off, and my balls tightened inside me as I lost all control and began to shake. I gasped his name, my back arched and I spurted my seed in long streams across my abdomen to mix with our sweat. Cobweb-like splatters covered both of us, and still my climax didn’t end. Then I faded into gray.
“Dax. Dax?” I opened my eyes to find Michael hovering over me, looking alarmed. “Are you okay, babe?”
“What?” I gave Michael a tentative smile and assured him I was fine. I could only suppose that I’d momentarily passed out.
“I never had a man faint for me before.” He stretched over me with a relieved grin.
“I didn’t faint,” I groaned, trying to catch my breath. We both still wheezed like racehorses after a Triple Crown race. I reached for him and seared his lips in an ardent kiss as I caressed his ass. “Fainting is what girls do. Want me to prove I’m not a girl?”
“Don’t get me going again,” Michael warned me quietly. “I don’t have the energy for another round.” He hugged me firmly and I relaxed against his warm body as time came back to the present.
Truth be told, I didn’t either but I was giddy. “What, are you getting old?” I teased. “Can’t go at it like a teenager anymore?” Michael stared down at me with a bemused expression and began to laugh.
Hot and sticky, we moved to the bathroom for a quick rinse in the shower, holding on to each other so we didn’t fall over. The warm water only exhausted us further, and we were almost asleep by the time I shut off the tap. We helped each other dry, and there was nothing sexual about our touches, simply comfort and support. We crawled into bed, and he spooned behind me and threw his arm over me, hugged in tightly under my own.
“God, I love you,” he whispered softly, planting a kiss on the nape of my neck. “You make me feel so complete.”
His sentiment nearly reduced me to tears. “I love you back,” I answered drowsily. “We’re going to be alright.” And this was true, I knew it. I had never felt so much tranquility. It was like I didn’t want to take a breath without him.
I was glad the next day was Saturday because Michael and I didn’t stir until nearly ten o’clock. I came awake to his fingers gently massaging my balls, and I looked back to see him grimacing at me in amusement. “I thought that would bring you around,” he kidded. He held me tightly and nuzzled me in all my erogenous zones.
I rolled over to face him, and he lowered his mouth on mine. Mmm, I loved waking up to Michael in my bed. I was familiarizing myself with his body too- the long curve of his neck that I loved to suck on and bite, the powerful musculature of his chest and abs, and his steely, thick cock that filled my slick hole so completely. Slow and gentle as the kiss was, it didn’t take long for my own dick to wake up and pay attention like a good little soldier.
Despite sleep and last night’s shower, Michael looked well-sexed and adorable. His auburn hair hung in a wave over his eyes which glowed drowsily, almost the color of topaz in the dim light of the closed blinds. The bed sheet was kicked off our feet, and the golden skin of his arms and legs contrasted with the less tanned area around his groin. His cock was hard and dripping in rampant arousal, and I knew I could find some way to look after his problem.
This had to be quick if it was going to happen at all; I’d promised the Capshaws I’d be at their house by eleven. As insatiable as Michael found my ass, we didn’t have time for him to fuck me. I flipped myself lengthwise on the bed and inhaled Michael’s cock, immediately getting my lips, tongue and throat muscles in on the action. He moaned around mine, sucking and nibbling at the head and licking across the flange, turning me into a writhing mess. I felt my tool lodged deep in his throat, and it only took ten good bobs before he sent me crashing into a mindless orgasm. Except for swallowing his creamy cum almost automatically, I wasn’t even aware that Michael was in the midst of his own. We cleaned each other up and spent a few minutes in contented afterglow.
“We’re going to kill each other by the end of the weekend,” Michael joked, stroking my hair out of my eyes.
I tapped his nose. “If it’s with you, that’s fine with me. At least I’ll die happy.”
Getting up, we ate cereal together and dressed in tattered shorts and t-shirts that had seen better days, all the better for chores neither of us objected to getting dirty for. Michael reminded me of his folks' dinner invitation so we took a change of clothes with us when we left the apartment. I pulled my truck up right on time, and we found Mom and Dad just finishing up lunch in the kitchen.
Mom took one look at us with our hands clasped together and broke into a loving mom-knows-best kind of smile, her eyes sparkling. She’d almost hung up her Cupid’s wings over us, but the evidence that we had rekindled our romance was quite obvious with our delighted grins and linked fingers. She made her way over to give us both squeezes and kisses, reaffirming that we would be staying for dinner.
Dad gave us both one-armed man hugs, loving but not as enthusiastic. “You boys look tired,” he declared. It was only when Michael caught my eye and we began to chuckle over his stating the obvious that he realized the explicit meaning of what he’d hinted at, and Dad turned redder than I’d ever seen.
See, Dad allows that Michael and I are gay without prejudice, although he has a harder time accepting it than Mom does. My theory falls on Michael being his only son, and the whole wanting grandkids by him to carry on the family name bit, not actual disappointment in his homosexuality in itself. Finding out the way he did, with Isaac using the knowledge as a weapon to try to manipulate the Capshaws into throwing me out of the house four years ago, didn’t sit well either. For the most part, I think if he could to be honest, Dad would admit he is uncomfortable with us being lovers. I’m not blood-related, but he considers me his son, and it must be tough to try to explain what Michael and I mean to each other to people who don’t know the circumstances.
Mom saved the day by changing the subject, explaining how she’d invited Jana, Linnie and their husbands to eat with us. Michael hadn’t seen our nephew, Nathan, since May. At fourteen months, he’s an age where he’s changing a lot. Michael missed him learning to walk, and Nathan is now trying to say a few words. He has that entire inquisitive, adorable baby thing going for him, and everyone fights over him.
We broke out the gardening tools to begin our work, but Dad decided to take advantage of having two able-bodied men around to help instead of one. Rather than mulching lawns and pruning trees, he chose to have us repair the crumbling sections of the slump stone wall that surrounded the patio and held up the terraced garden in the back yard. Michael and I went to the local Home Depot with him to buy masonry supplies. Dad gave detailed instructions on how to mix the concrete in the wheelbarrow, center the rebar and set the unwieldy blocks before leaving to tie up fruit trees along the side of the house, satisfied that we were competent on our own.
It took hours in the blazing sun, and Michael and I worked hard like a well-oiled machine. Well, kind of. We both had bruised and bloody fingers from getting them pinched between blocks, and burning cement streaked our legs. As the temperature rose, I clipped my braid up off my shoulders and groused about cutting my hair, earning a light slap on my arm and an insistent “don’t you dare” from Michael. “I love your long hair, Dax. It gives me something to hang on to when I fuck you, and I love the sounds you make when I pull it.”
I blushed, glancing around hastily to see if Mom was nearby before giving him a hard kiss on the lips. She had been delighted to keep us supplied with snacks and soft drinks as we labored, happily content over us in love and having us home at the same time without us squabbling. She’d hover unobtrusively and keep us company for awhile before disappearing back into the house to prepare the evening meal.
Shirts naturally came off in the heat of the day. I mopped sweat off my face with mine before tossing it on a lawn chair. I really wasn’t thinking about it until Mom stepped out on the patio with glasses of iced tea, and she raised her eyebrows at me. “Good heavens, Dax, what did you do to yourself?”
I glanced down and around and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but Michael took one look and nearly fell over from a burst of laughter. “Damn, Dax, it looks like you went a couple rounds. You had better put your shirt back on before Dad sees.”
I ran for the bathroom mirror. The entire upper half of my chest from armpit up to chin was covered in bruised love bites from last night’s wild love-making. Compliments of Michael.
He walked in carrying a sleeveless navy A-shirt he’d dug out of a box in his bedroom and handed it to me, still laughing. “Thanks, asshole,” I bit out. “I guess we need to revisit those rules we set in high school.” But I couldn’t suppress a slight smile.
“Hey, Dax, remember in our senior year when I gave you that hickey and Dad saw it? He thought you’d been making out with some girl and you had to listen to the hour-long Capshaw Sex Talk…”
I shrugged the borrowed shirt on, threw a hand towel at his face and stomped out to more laughter.
Yes, of course I remembered… the discomfort of trying to wiggle out of a thoroughly embarrassing situation without lying and Dad’s lecture about the birds and the bees, slanted towards females and showing them respect, of course. He had absolutely no goddamn idea that Michael and I were enjoying sex almost every night just down the hall from him and Mom. It was curious, thinking back on it now, that for the first time ever I could recall the events of those months without rancor or distress, and I had to credit having Michael back in my life for it.
Dinner that night was uncomfortable.
Michael and I had showered after finishing the wall and terraces, and Mom declined our help with dinner in the kitchen saying we'd helped enough. We lounged around waiting for the family to arrive: Linnie and Vince, and Jana, David and baby Nathan. I’m nowhere near as shy as I used to be, but I still have difficulties being completely myself around others, and that includes the Capshaw girls, as loving as they are. Like with Dad, I was nervous over publicizing our relationship. It’s one thing to be gay; it’s quite another to be fucking their little brother. Michael was squeezing my hand and murmuring endearments in my ear, but all he managed to do was make me feel more anxious.
“Stop worrying, Dax,” he soothed. “Nobody is going to treat us any different, and if they do, it’s their problem. I’m sure they’ve known for years that I love you. You just had to run away fast enough until you caught me.”
“Haha, very funny,” I scoffed. But it was the truth. I had been running from this moment my whole life and now that it was upon me, I was scared to death. After Brendan, trusting anybody enough to let him into my heart space long term was not me. For as long as I had been searching for someone I adored like Michael to fill up my dance card, I wasn’t sure if I was equipped to handle a commitment lasting longer than a year.
Linnie and Vince arrived first and made a beeline for us as soon as they stepped through the door. It was obvious that Mom had informed the sisters of our happy news because she walked right up to us with a quirky smile, staring at our clasped hands and greeted us with hugs and a simple, “Hi Michael, Hi Dax.” Vince followed right behind, mimicking his wife’s behavior and addressing us in a falsetto rendition of her welcome, breaking the ice.
Surprisingly, it was Jana’s husband, David, who seemed the most uncomfortable. He was the staid brother-in-law, a radiology technologist at a San Diego hospital but always accepting of us in the past, albeit as separate entities. But tonight, his hellos were forced. He stared at Michael and me sitting intimately close together as if we were a mildly distasteful something in his mouth and visibly flinched when Michael put his arm around my shoulders.
“Don’t lose sleep over him,” Jana comforted with a soft smile several hours later as they prepared to leave. David had already departed to strap a sleeping Nathan into his carseat. “He just needs time to get used to this. It isn’t you two; it’s an overly-sensitive gay couple he works with at the hospital who are very aggressive about their lifestyle, and it makes him nervous. He’ll come around, wait and see.”
It was nearly ten when I unlocked the apartment door. Michael had that gleam in his eye, maybe slightly less aggressive than the night before, but the nudge in his groin that I’d watch grow into a tent in his shorts on the ride home left no doubt what he intended once we arrived. And suddenly I didn’t mind that we had spent hours in hard manual labor in the hot sun or that my ass was still a bit sore from last night.
We barely made it inside. Without speaking, we both seemed to intuitively know we were overdressed. Our sole imperative was to strip as quickly as possible, and we threw off clothes as we ran through the apartment. My brain sifted through idyllic dreams of falling into the cool sheets with a thrashing Michael and making love together all night. As they spiraled into lurid fantasy, my dick hardened even more.
Michael pulled off the hair tie fastening my braid and gently separated the strands, and I groaned. “I love running my fingers through your hair,” he said, kissing me behind my ear.
“Only you get that privilege,” I asserted. “Just like last night at the club; others may look but not touch.”
“Good to know you’re keeping your wild side under control.” He rumbled, walking me backwards to the bed and pushing me down. He sat beside me. “It’s too bad I can’t keep my wild side hidden as well, Dax. I can’t help but mark you and show the world you belong to me. Sorry.” His mouth hovered at the junction of my neck and shoulder and I felt his teeth bite into my skin. Pleasure and pain mingled; I knew he wasn’t sincere at all about his apology and didn’t care one bit.
I lifted my head and reached up to pull his mouth down to mine, and a timid breeze through the window brought a subtle waft of sweat and sex. The touch of his warm lips brushing against mine caused a bolt of excitement to rush through me, and I kissed him gently, taking him in my arms. We fell back on the bed. He opened his mouth to accept my tongue and the kiss became more urgent. My heart pounded so hard it hurt, and Michael’s echoed back.
The kiss went on forever, tasting and sliding inside our mouths to caress tongues and teeth. I tilted my head down to brush kisses over his chest, and he cried out when my lips captured a nipple. I licked the areola and sucked it into my mouth, feeling it shrink and pebble. My fingers traced down his soft skin and circled his waist, rubbing circles on his hip bone, and I gripped his shoulder to steady him. I could feel myself getting warm with desire.
With one hand, Michael reached over to massage the nape of my neck and wind into my long hair. The other snaked down my torso to my cock, and he wrapped his fingers around it and squeezed. It throbbed in his hand which slid up and down the length, and I moaned into his neck. Faster his hand worked me, gathering precum to ease the friction, and I arched against him. “You enjoy making me suffer.”
“You love it, Dax.” We just looked into each other's eyes and knew it was time. Michael groped for the lube and a condom out of my drawer while I fixed a pillow under my hips and relaxed into it. I bent my knees and drew my feet up close, and Michael sunk a finger inside me to get me ready for him. He was quick but unyielding, sawing and scissoring with lubed digits until my ass was open and loose. Every deep stroke sent a jolt to my prostate, starting a blaze within me. Then he withdrew his fingers and unfurled the condom over his erection.
Throwing my knees over his elbows, I let him stretch me wide so that my ass was in perfect position for him. He probed my bud with his stiff latex-covered cock and I felt only a twinge when he slid into me. More than any other sensation was the familiar and loved fullness, and he let me adjust until I was ready for more. “Your ass is like a warm hug,” he moaned, kissing my upraised knee. “So tight, I could stay here all day.”
“Nobody fills me like you do, Michael,” I answered in return.
Slowly he pressed forward in a rolling motion, and I pushed back. An inch at a time driven deep, extracting to the head of his cock until I could feel his balls smacking me. “You are so beautiful, Dax,” he said softly, his hands splayed on my shoulders to steady himself. Sweat shone on both our bodies, his heavy with his woodsy scent, and he rolled his hips into me. “I can see every emotion on your face.”
With Michael filling my passage and driving into me in a steady rhythm, I couldn’t answer back except in a whimper. My fingers moved over his body without thinking, sliding through slick skin to play with his nipples. He lay down and rested his head contentedly on my chest while our hips rocked back and forth. This wasn’t the frenzied mating of two horny teenagers; this was being made slow love to by a mature man who wanted to please me in every way and knew exactly what to do.
We kissed deeply. His pace was unbroken and he nailed my sweet spot with each drive. I lost myself in his love-making and his body melted into mine. Then his stroke changed to short thrusts and began to pound me. The next few minutes went by in a blur of arousal, and I writhed under him. As we soared towards completion, Michael took my cock in his hand to pump.
“I am so close, Michael, so close,” I panted. The muscles of my groin began to twitch.
“Let go, Dax,” he gasped back.
We couldn’t have been more synchronized if we tried. My thighs and abdomen went taut as my release filled Michael’s hand, making my toes curl in pleasure. He shot his load into the condom inside me even as his back arched away and drove his spasming cock deeper. Twisting, moaning, feverish caresses in near perfect ecstasy. Our shallow breathing evened out, our bodies relaxed and Michael collapsed on top of me. I dragged him down in a crushing kiss, and we rolled to lie side by side.
“It just keeps getting better, babe,” he whispered, holding me tightly and rubbing my shoulder in a way that was making me sleepy. “High school has nothing on this, not even close.”
“We keep getting better,” I corrected. “We’re learning how to communicate and live together.”
Michael stared at me. “Is that what you want- to live together?”
“Of course I do!” I wondered how he could doubt me and then remembered his promise to not assume. “Once I finish my internship and you’re done with school, we can decide on our future and move in with each other.”
“Okay.” It was a simple agreement made tumultuous by the hunger burning in Michael’s expression and I snuggled into his chest.
Tears filled my eyes. “What you said yesterday might be true, but I’m nowhere good enough for you.”
He scowled at me in mock annoyance. “None of that, Dax,” he said. “It’s time to stop beating ourselves over what happened three months ago or three years ago. Stop worrying about the past and start making our future better. We’ve both had enough of the stupidity stage of our relationship so let’s enjoy just being together.”
“Good enough for me,” I sighed and I kissed his chin.
The following morning I woke up before Michael and jumped out of bed for a shower. I was already half-dressed by the time he opened his eyes, much to his dismay, but the day had been wholly planned out before his arrival. The temperature was slated to rise to nearly ninety degrees, so we geared up for it in shorts and sleeveless tees. We ate breakfast at a little downtown café and went grocery shopping after deciding to grill steaks for dinner. By the time I washed two loads of laundry, it was nearly 11:30 and time to join our friends at the park.
We had thought to pick up his baseball bat and mitt when we were at the Capshaws’ the night before. Michael drove to the field and he could see I was nervous and patted my thigh. My anxiety was more about possible criticism over our back-and-forth relationship than anything else- until I remembered that none of these people had been our friends when Michael and I were together the first time. Besides, four of them already knew I was in love with this wonderful guy next to me in his cargoes and Chapman University ball cap. I tugged the scarlet-red bill of a similar SDSU cap down low on my forehead as we stepped out of the Nissan.
The usual gang was standing near the bleachers at Oak Street Park. Grant Packard and his twin, Greg, along with Emily who was dating him; Carla and her boyfriend, Streeter; and Lauren and her cousin, Zach, who was Brendan’s brother. Lauren had texted me previously asking if she could bring Brendan with her, and I told her I didn’t mind if he behaved himself. However, he was moody and had declined the invitation.
“Hey, it’s Michael!” Startled greetings filled the air and seven pairs of eyes turned to watch us mosey down the sidewalk. “How’s it going?”
With the exception of Lauren and possibly Grant, his arrival was completely unexpected. Not that they were rude, but I was more or less ignored. He waved as we made our way towards them, hand in hand.
Fist bumps all around punctuated with questions about how busy everyone was, and Michael was introduced to Zach. A self-conscious silence settled on us, but Emily grinned at me and nudged Carla who was gawking at Michael. Grant had a knowing twinkle in his eye, and I saw him nod at him conspiratorially. Greg said, “Are we going to play ball or stand around?” We laughed and it cleared the air immediately.
Our games were always played against groups of mostly friends made up of former Santa Bella High classmates and local college students. Today’s team was a larger crowd, but we were evenly matched, despite the fact that we had three females on ours. What Emily, Lauren and Carla lacked in their willingness to get dirty sliding hard into base or rolling in the grass to catch a fly ball, they made up for in other ways. Carla had been on her high school softball team and won trophies for her batting stats. Lauren was a crackerjack pitcher with dead aim. And Emily was an outstanding utility player; put her in just about any position and she performed.
Regardless of not playing the game for almost a year, we quickly shook off our dusty skills and got it together. Emily, the designated team captain for the day, sauntered over to me as I stretched out my stiff leather glove and prepared to take to the field. “You’re playing shortstop,” she informed me. “Pay attention out there.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I teased. I glanced over at the Packards who were talking to Zach. “Are you still with Greg?”
Emily turned pink. “Yes, happy as can be. He’s a nice guy.” She looked at me directly, raising her eyebrow. “And it looks like you and Michael are together at last. How is it going?”
I couldn’t help but tease as was our usual. “He’s boring as can be but we’re getting along okay.”
Emily stuck out her tongue, knowing it was in fun. “Boring huh? So what’s up with the hickeys?” She touched a bite mark on my neck, and I blushed. “All kidding aside, dare I say that you and Michael must be doing something right because I haven’t seen you look so content or happy in like… hmm, I don’t know when.”
“It’s all good. We’re learning from each other and taking it slowly. You know what it’s like.” I shrugged.
She nodded at me with a smile and was about to answer when Carla yelled that the game was beginning.
It was a different kind of day with our crowd than I’d ever experienced. Secure in being with my man and happy to see my friends with some sports thrown into the mix. Not that I expected them to make things awkward for us, but it was refreshing that we could just be ourselves.
With Michael around I had some difficulty concentrating on the game if I wasn’t at bat or playing the infield. Holding my hand, his arm slung around my shoulder or just squeezing my knee, he was always touching, as if to assure himself I wasn’t going anywhere. I rested on his strength and it felt good to share what each of us needed with the other.
I was a little inquisitive wondering what everyone else thought. I noticed Greg and Emily chatting easily with Carla and Streeter, and Grant and Lauren discussed switching pitchers because her arm was sore. As I watched the rest of my teammates, the only person who kept his eye on us was Zach, and he smiled back at me. I think his curiosity was influenced mainly by not seeing me since the disastrous party at Lauren’s and his curiosity over what kind of man had replaced his brother in my affections.
Third inning, I was up to bat after Greg in the on-deck circle, and Lauren stood at home plate. Michael would follow me in the batting order, and we huddled at the backstop avidly watching the pitcher. I’m nothing close to a power hitter because I’m not much of a natural athlete, but today my eye-hand coordination had improved, even if my only at-bat so far had resulted in a strike-out. I just play for fun and considered myself lucky that the team accepts me as I am. Michael gave me a soft kiss of confidence and mumbled that I would be alright. I just happened to look down at his cargo shorts that were bulging in the crotch, and that quick peck turned into longer and deeper.
Vaguely, I heard cheers from the other team as Lauren was thrown out at first. “Hey, Dax, you’re on deck,” Grant called, walking to the batter’s box. Michael refused to relinquish my lips and I was completely in my comfort zone, much to my surprise.
“Dax?” he called again. I held Michael about the waist, and we tried to ignore Grant’s good-natured whining. “Come on, guys!” Peripherally, I saw Michael raise his hand and playfully flip him off.
“Gotta go, lover,” I murmured. “We don’t want them kicking us off the team for unsportsmanlike conduct.”
“It’s not unsportsmanlike,” he smirked, wiping a speck of dirt off my cheek. “I’m your cheerleader.”
I laughed. “I’ll be sure to buy you a pair of those tiny, sparkly short shorts. You can model them for me, okay?”
“If you buy yourself a pair too.” His eyes smoldered, and I felt my cock twitch. So not a good time.
I gave him a peck on the cheek and trotted out to home plate to focus on the incoming pitch, not my boyfriend. The ball sailed right across the middle towards me, and I hit it hard. I managed to get to second on my line drive into the outfield between first and second base. Then Streeter made the third out with bases loaded and we switched sides.
Forty minutes later and we were in the middle of the sixth inning, getting ready to take our at-bats again. Neither team was hitting well, but we were down 5-3. All of our points were due to the girls- Lauren had taken a lead off of first and Emily was on third when Carla hit a home run. I watched a Dodge Dakota pull up to the curb and a lone figure climb out and start meandering down the hill. Brendan had decided to show up after all.
Michael frowned. “Please, don’t start anything,” I warned, grabbing him by the arm. “Be nice.”
“He just better watch himself.”
Brendan drew closer, staring directly at me, and I felt Michael tense just before his hand encircled my waist protectively. “Do you want to play?” Lauren called. He was shaking his head no until Zach began to chide him in a brotherly way about getting shown up in front of a bunch of strangers. With a grudging smile he finally gave in and joined us in the dugout. Even though Brendan was sitting on the other end of the bench, Michael made sure to place himself between the two of us. Protective much, and yet, I liked having him watch out for me.
Zach’s double in the eighth with Michael at first and me on third after a walk sparked a rally that put our team up by three points by the end of the inning, but our opponents came back to win the game, 9-8. They proposed going out for beer, but Lauren graciously declined because Zach was underage, and Grant and Greg had plans. The eyes in the back of my head were picking up clues from Michael that he was in a hurry to get away from the crowd too.
He was sitting at a picnic table under the trees replacing his cleats with sandals. Hunched over my gear, tossing my glove in the gym bag, I didn’t see Brendan walk up until he was right next to me, and I startled at his voice. “I’m leaving tomorrow, Dax, so I guess this is goodbye.”
I looked up to see his fist extended, and I bumped it. “What are you going to do about Jacob?”
“Fight for custody, I suppose.” He had a faraway look in his eyes. “I’m going to look for another teaching position outside Derrington so I can move. As long as I’m within reasonable driving distance, it won’t matter where to Sarah. Just as long as I don’t have to keep looking over my shoulder, waiting for something bad to happen.”
I clasped him on the arm and felt him stiffen, knowing that Michael was staring at us. “Take care of yourself.”
“You too, Dax.” And he moved away to join Lauren and Zach.
Emily and Greg sidled up, her casually observing me with a huge smile on her face while he looked puzzled. I mean, it had to be obvious to our friends that Michael and I were now a couple. I was zoning and watching Michael.
“Somebody’s getting some,” Greg joked, punching me on the shoulder.
“Greg, eww,” Carla whined from next to them. She rolled her eyes.
My face froze in shock at the X-rated thought, and I blushed. “Not going there, Greg, but it’s good. You know, settled between us? And I have Emily to thank for it.” She raised her eyebrows in confusion, and I added, “The advice you gave me at Starbucks? It helped.”
“I’m glad I could assist you.” She beamed at me and explained a little of our conversation to Greg and Carla.
Grant and Michael joined us, and we chattered for a few minutes before saying our goodbyes. We promised to make time for another game the following weekend.
Michael and I went back to my apartment and made dinner, or I should say, I made dinner. See, unlike Michael, I can cook. Don’t ask me how he survived the last two years of college living by himself off-campus without picking up the rudiments of food preparation, but I learned early on that I couldn’t get by on ramen, peanut butter and cheap frozen dinners. Not to mention how expensive and unhealthy fast food is.
As the steaks marinated, I used leftover pasta from the previous night’s dinner and mixed it with garlic and spices, chopped vegetables and vinaigrette dressing to prepare pasta salad. Michael set to work pulling silk from the corn on the cob and rewrapping the ears while I baked Texas toast. We took advantage of the balmy late-afternoon to sit in the shade of the patio drinking beer while I grilled the meat and roasted the corn in its husks.
It was too pleasant out to eat indoors. We balanced plates on our knees and set our second bottles of Corona on the small stand between us. Michael took one bite of the salad and moaned, tasting slowly. “This is good. Really good.” Reaching across the table, he put his hand over mine and looked me straight in the eyes. “Dax, say you’ll marry me.”
I laughed. “You’re an idiot, you know that?”
A small grin tugged at the corner of his mouth as he slid another fork of food inside. “Admit it, Dax, seriously. We can’t live without each other. We’re like magnets seeking our true north. It’s kismet.”
“Kismet, huh?” I tread the subject lightly because I didn’t want to hurt Michael’s feelings which were close to the surface. His messing around had more depth than even he knew and I nodded soberly. “I guess it is. But don’t you think we should wait until we’ve spent more than just a weekend with each other? Try actually living together first?”
Michael hadn’t let go of me, and he lifted my hand to his mouth and kissed it, his shining eyes holding mine in their tawny light. “Time is just numbers, Dax. It has nothing to do with how we feel. Maybe it seems rushed, but I have never loved anyone like I love you. I waited four years to get you back, and I’m willing to wait as long as necessary for marriage or a commitment or however you choose to formalize our partnership, providing we spend it together.”
My body was tingling, and I couldn’t breathe, like straining to listen to a faraway voice. All of a sudden it seemed as if we weren’t kidding anymore, and I was caught by surprise over how personal our conversation had become and how much I wanted the same thing as him.
“Are you proposing?” I whispered, my cheeks turning red.
He nervously cleared his throat. “I guess I am. It’s not as romantic as I’d like, but yeah.” Something in my face must have given him pause because he frowned. “Maybe you’re right. Like you say, it’s only been one weekend.”
“No, it’s fine, Michael,” I reassured him. “Let’s get you through business school and us settled into careers and take it from there. Living apart for now because we have to, but moving in together as soon as possible. Then we’ll see.”
He cut a piece of steak and tilted his head, chewing thoughtfully. “It’s funny how I feel as if I’ve been under your scrutiny all weekend. Not that that’s a bad thing, considering this is the longest we’ve been with each other without fighting since high school.” His eyes gleamed mischievously. “So does that mean I passed?”
“We both passed because we were both under inspection.” I considered what I was saying and how important it could mean for the rest of our lives. “I love you. You love me. I guess that gives us the right to make allowances and be willing to overlook the small differences that drive each other crazy. I’d rather have an imperfect you than a perfect someone else.”
Michael gave me a blinding smile even as I saw tears forming in the corners of his eyes. “I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me. Wow!” I saw the struggle on his face as he tried to get himself under control and looked down at my food. “So, Dax, I accept your offer. We’ll be imperfect together and learn to get along. Become dedicated and committed and finish school and all that important shit about establishing careers. But then I’m coming back and we’ll get married proper.”
“Fair enough,” I agreed, “but for now, can we stop being weird and eat dinner before the steak and corn get cold?”
He threw a piece of pasta at me.
Later after we were finished with dinner and had cleaned up the mess, we were spending a few minutes on the couch with our fingers laced together, languidly making out as we watched the sky darken through the open patio door. Michael couldn’t keep his hands off me as usual, not that I was complaining, but he was one horny guy.
“It’s from all those years without you,” he said wryly when I brought it up. “I didn’t have the real thing to work on my technique so I need to practice.”
There was absolutely nothing wrong with his technique. “Sex is like riding a bike. You never forget how.”
He pressed his lips against mine again and sucked in my tongue to play. “So let’s ride,” he murmured wickedly, flicking the nipples on my bare chest. Fifteen minutes later I watched my cock disappear between those parted lips. Fifteen minutes after that, I was moaning in delirious bliss when Michael finally slid into me.
We were up early the following morning. Not only did I have a full day’s work at the clinic, but Michael, who had a nine hour drive ahead of him, wanted to catch his father at home before he left for the office. From my perspective our weekend had been nearly faultless, and the two of us had settled into a kind of joyful companionship and the ability to fully share ourselves. Maybe it was a honeymoon without the wedding, but we hadn’t found reason to disagree over anything.
Standing in the parking lot next to his trusty Nissan with the trunk open, I handed him a bag of snacks and a bottle of water. I had been fighting the knowledge that Michael must return north since drifting off to sleep the night before, and I felt bereft at his imminent departure. A burst of despondency made me want to cry. Too little time we’d had over the past four days, and the future was so uncertain, not that I doubted our feelings for each other. But it looked as if neither of us was going to have any time off to visit before Thanksgiving, three months away.
I caught him up in my arms in a desperate hug. “Never leave me,” I whispered into his ear, my voice raspy.
“I have to go back to work and school,” Michael answered lightly, rubbing my back. “But I know what you mean, Dax, and I’ll be back soon.”
His eyes pierced mine before his lips brushed my hair and he held me tighter. “I will never, ever leave you, not willingly. You’re stuck with me. Together forever, remember? I love you, babe.”
“Love you too, Michael.”
“If you should ever leave me,” he whispered into my hair. “Though life would still go on believe me. The world could show nothing to me, so what good would living do me? God only knows what I'd be without you.”
I recognized the old Beach Boys lyrics from decades back and knew they were meant to comfort me, to show he cared about me just as much as I loved him. Releasing him, I stood back, aware of a few neighbors glancing at us with curious expressions. To them, I was the quiet, asexual guy downstairs in the corner unit with no love-life; until now.
“You drive safely, you hear me?” I told him. “Call or text to let me know when you get home.”
He shook his head, promising to keep in contact on the road. “You know, Palo Alto isn’t home for me. It’s just a stopping place while I finish college. This is home.”
I melted and tears filled my eyes, my love overflowing. He was right. It didn’t matter where we resided as long as we could be with each other. Michael nodded, thumbing the drops off my cheeks before leaning in for another brief kiss. “Now, I really must take off, babe, and you have to go to work. I’ll call you. Every day, I promise.”
Sixty minutes later I walked through the back door of the clinic, blushing and giving a devilish smile when Zeke stared at the five hickeys peeking out above the collar of my shirt and wondered aloud about my weekend.
I hated going back to Palo Alto and leaving Dax. It seemed as if our intimate moments together had passed in a blur- so fleeting and over in no time. Yet, we had worked out a lot between us that weekend, and I felt our dedication to each other had reached a new level. The biggest drawback, Dax’s tendency to blame and criticize, had not been in evidence the entire four days, and I noticed how willing he was to meet me half-way. I didn’t want to let him down.
I threw myself into the formal start of my grad program and making a good impression in my IT job. For the most part, going to Stanford felt so much like what I’d been doing for the past four years but on a higher curve. I had endless research projects in the library and term papers to write, all in preparation for my second-year thesis. Work was… well, work- a place to earn money but without any real challenge. I looked up statistics to provide background on software programs the company had in the works, but I was left with a lot of boring routine on my hands.
My OCD roommate at the condo I shared turned out to be a complete ass. He was a sophomore at Stanford on a sports scholarship, a member of the Cardinal men’s soccer team where he was seen as a potential star… and relished in it. He was a small, wiry guy, maybe five-nine at best who looked barely legal and had a chubby baby face. I’ll allow that he was cute in an androgynous way, not that I cared. The kid’s skin was milky, he wore his mud-brown hair in a very short, almost military cut and had pale green eyes that stared through people.
His mode of dress was unvarying- loose tan khakis and neutral, nondescript t-shirts that made him blend in with the scenery, but the same couldn’t be said of his personality. My impression was that this was a teenager who probably tended towards awkward but didn’t want to be thought of as weak. He called attention to himself in any way possible and chose to act loud and obnoxious. Thankfully, our class schedules, jobs and his training didn’t provide much time together.
He was standing in my doorway one night guzzling an illegal-for-him beer when he saw the year old picture of Dax and me from Linnie’s wedding. It was a candid reception shot of us in shirtsleeves, tuxes set aside, and we were hilariously making friends with Greg and Grant. We gulped champagne straight from the bottle, all of us half drunk, acting silly and bullshitting. Dax was seated on a low wall, his legs swinging free and his shiny blonde hair loose about his shoulders. I was draped over him from the back like I was getting ready to whisper in his ear, both of us sporting happy grins. Unintentionally, the picture made us look intimate, as if it was a foretelling of our life to come. Or maybe it was something in my eyes that let the desire I felt for Dax creep through.
“Who is that?” He indicated the framed photo on my dresser by gesturing at it with his can of beer.
I was picking up a patronizing vibe that disturbed me so I decided to tread lightly. “That’s my brother, Dax.”
“Brother, huh? You two don’t look anything alike.” Give the kid a few points for being perceptive.
“More like a foster brother… or unofficially adopted. My parents were his guardians.” That was all I was going to say. Dax’s history was his own business, not mine to discuss with a near stranger I was liking less by the minute.
“He looks gay,” he said with half a sneer. “Maybe it’s just the long hair.”
I was in no mood to start an argument with this boy but I glared at him. “Is that a generalized unenlightened statement like ‘that’s so gay’ or do you really mean something by it?”
I watched his eyes narrow. Oh good, a homophobe.
“Look, Sylvan… it is Sylvan, right?” I’d run into him so seldom I wasn’t even sure if I got his name right, but he nodded. It was a very unusual moniker and something of a burden to bear, and I might have felt sorry for him if he wasn’t being such a dick. I took a deep breath and looked at him square in the face.
“I don’t know what your problem is, but don’t disrespect my bro. You came into my room without invitation and started trash-talking for no reason other than, I assume, to start shit. What do you say that we do us both a favor and keep out of each other’s way?”
“Sensitive much?” He looked up at me under lowered lashes and tried to relax into something more playful and less menacing, but it wasn’t working. “Just saying…”
“Like hell you were,” I growled, feeling as if he’d provoked this discussion just to get a reaction. I wondered if he guessed about me and, therefore, Dax too. But I was not going to let myself become paranoid. I kept my personal life to myself and had not given any of the guys in the condo so much as a second glance since I moved in.
“If you actually want to be friends, fine,” I warned Sylvan. “I’m willing. Otherwise, stay out of my business.” He turned around and marched downstairs without another word, and a few minutes later I heard the front door slam.
It was getting on towards the end of September when I ran into a former acquaintance. Literally. I had stayed behind after one of my classes to ask the professor a question about a future assignment and let time get away from me. As I was sprinting through the door, another student was entering for the next lecture, and we collided. I recognized him as Ron, a kid from my dorm at Humboldt who was also a business major studying for a graduate degree.
“Hey, Michael, my man, it’s good to see you. How’s life?”
I couldn’t be late for work so I didn’t stand around talking, but we quickly exchanged phone numbers. I was glad to hear from Ron the following evening, and when he invited me over for beer and pizza, I went. I wasn’t treading on any boundaries; it was just two guys who had known each other in the past sharing food and playing Xbox games. After four months, I still had few friends to hang out with and needed the down time with a familiar face.
We had been going at for about two hours and I was getting my ass handed to me at Skyrim. “Hey,” he said out of the blue. “You hung out with Isaac Cramer, right? Friends? He’s a year older than us with black hair and blue eyes.”
‘Hung out’ was putting it mildly, but maybe he didn’t know the circumstances so I didn’t educate him. Isaac! That asshole had been the bane of my existence since my junior year of high school, but I was too stubborn to see it until it was too late. “Yeah, I know him, but we aren’t friends, just from the same hometown. Why?”
“He’s in prison, dude.” Compounded by irony which he mistook for disbelief, I snickered at the owlish look on Ron’s face.
“No really,” he insisted. “Did you know he’s gay? Second semester of our junior year, he beat up a freshman- put him in the ICU. Fractured jaw and four broken ribs, crushed his cheekbone and lacerated a kidney. The kid had to have his spleen removed and was hospitalized for three weeks.”
“I’m not surprised,” I stated, although I kind of was, at least at the scope of the violence.
“Rumor has it that Isaac is abusive to his boyfriends,” he continued. “Well, more than rumor now. One of them filed a restraining order against him when we were freshmen and brought him up on assault charges at school, but the admin did their usual hiding their heads in the sand, meaning hardly nothing. But this last attack was too big for the university to hush up. He nearly killed the kid, so Humboldt let the law handle it. Just as they were going to trial, two other guys popped up and said Isaac abused them too, so he pled guilty and was sentenced to fifteen years.”
A dreadful shudder went through my body. Little did Ron know that I was the one who filed the restraining order and fruitlessly tried to get the college administration to back me up. How sad was it that this new assault didn’t have to happen if they’d just listened to me and had taken appropriate action. That broken and traumatized kid could’ve been me. It would have been me, I knew with certainty, if I hadn’t found the strength to break away, if Dax hadn’t saved me by intervening on my behalf and forcing me to take a stand against Isaac’s abuse.
“You okay, Michael?” Ron asked, peering into my face. “You don’t look so good. Your face is kind of green.”
I smiled and tried to shake it off. Spilling my guts about my own disastrous relationship with the stalking asshole my ex had turned into was the last thing I wanted. “I’m good. Let’s finish this game.”
No matter how frequently Dax and I texted back and forth every day, which was as often as school and work would allow, we always spoke to each other by phone before bed. Phone sex with an imaginative boyfriend is great when you don’t have the real thing. So that night after I returned to my room and we’d jacked off together, I found myself sharing Ron’s news about Isaac with him. He listened to me from start to finish without comment, and even some seconds after I finished my commentary.
“Oh sorry.” He seemed to come out of a daydream. “No, I was just thinking the same thing you mentioned- how lucky you are that Isaac wasn’t more physical with you.”
In fact, I had never confided in Dax all the ways that the older boy had hurt me when we were together, but since we were on the subject and confession is good for the soul… I explained the small things like Isaac’s unending, cruel suspicion, limiting my friendships and taking control of my time and the big issues. The first occasion Isaac had roughed me up after the weekend I’d come down to visit my family and had dropped by Dax’s apartment because I found out he was using drugs. How angry he’d been during Thanksgiving break, thinking the two of us were seeing each other in secret, his mind already made up despite how impossible the scenario.
“It wasn’t luck that kept me safe,” I shivered. “It was you pushing me to being honest. I hate to think about what was in store for me if I’d returned to Humboldt after Mom's birthday without a restraining order. Fortunately, the whole family was solidly behind me, making me face up to his abuse. There are so many awful memories I keep reliving…”
“Don’t, Michael,” he protested firmly. “Remember what you said about my history the first night you were here? That the only person who needs to forgive me is myself? The same can be applied to you. I’m not angry about what happened between the two of you anymore. It’s over. Isaac is a distant relic that needs to die a peaceful death.”
Tears filled my eyes as regret swirled around me for the lost years Dax and I could’ve been together, but for Isaac and my own stupidity. The cost had been so high. Too high, even if we were allowed a happy ending.
Dax must have heard me sniffling. “Michael, please.” I could hear the appeal in his deep voice. “You have to stop this. You can’t keep beating yourself up over something you can’t change. He can’t hurt us, particularly from where he sits, and he isn’t worth it. Isaac came back to Santa Bella with one goal in mind- to get you back any way possible. He didn’t care about you or me or that he was stepping in where he had no right.”
“But if I hadn’t ignored your warning…”
“But nothing!” Dax was not going to let me do this to myself. “He was manipulative and used his knowledge of the world to trick you. Accept that you fucked up- we both did- and move on.”
I took a deep breath, but I couldn’t stop the self-blaming and groaned. “It was never your fault, it was all mine.”
Dax easily switched into his counseling mode and reminded me of our first year of college and the words of his counselor, Zeke Carter. No matter how much I wanted to castigate myself, or in Dax’s case, he had wanted to punish me, our relationship would not have lasted, even without Isaac’s interference. Dax was hung up on closeting his gay side and had way too much unresolved trauma from his childhood for us to find happiness together.
With the usual viewpoint of adolescence, I couldn’t possibly understand how devastating my betrayal would turn out to be. Both of us were too immature to even know how to get past our issues. The journey we’d been on, though long and painful, had been necessary to toughen us up, sort out the truth and open our hearts to love each other, despite our flaws.
“Isaac’s a distraction that no longer has any meaning for either of us,” he finished. “Let go of the ghosts. We have our present and future, and I refuse to let him haunt it. Our solidarity is in our strength.”
“Do you really believe that,” I asked, hoping with all my heart he did.
“Yes, Michael, I do. I also promise I will never again hold what happened with Isaac over your head,” he vowed.
With a guilty start I realized this was exactly what I was doing to myself. Even after Dax had forgiven me that night in May, I had let my own failure come between us. He argued that I deserved to be happy too, and even if I couldn’t get those years back, I could stop feeling so guilty that it strangled our future. It was up to me to prevent the hurt from seeping into our bond. I tried to will away the last mental remnants of my betrayal and Isaac’s abuse, of what it had cost Dax and me and all the pain I had stored up inside, and I flooded my brain with peaceful images of our future together.
“I love you, babe,” I answered, taking a deep breath, “and thanks for the pep-talk.”
With that, Dax changed the subject. “You know how much I miss you. I was wondering what your schedule looks like on Fridays.”
I worked a minimum day and didn’t have Friday classes and told him so. Dax then revealed that he wanted to schedule a long weekend off from the clinic in mid-October to fly up to see me. I was ecstatic.
“That should be fun. I’m sure I’d be able to take the day off from work. I can show you the sights.” Not that I’d seen them myself. This would almost make up for the botched Las Vegas vacation.
“Okay then,” he laughed. “Three weeks from now. You set things up, and I promise to be there.”
(To be continued...)