BETWEEN THE SESSIONS
Here it is. Dedicated to my baby, Paul (GET WELL SOON!) who provided the info on Stockbridge and the peculiar method of giving directions in Massachusetts. One of the directions is a direct quote from Paul's grandpa! Anyway, I will now run for cover. Enjoy! (Remember, its just FICTION! LOL!)
Leo Chang leaned back in the booth and watched Justin struggle with chopsticks and a slippery dumpling. He smiled and shook his head as the dumpling slithered past Justin's plump rosy lips and into the security of his mouth, leaving a slim trail of sauce on the front of his shirt.
"Good!" Justin exclaimed, trying to snare another off the communal plate. Leo grabbed one with an elegant maneuver of his own sticks, and extended it across the table to the younger man who smiled and then snapped it like a baby bird feeding from the beak of its parent.
"If you weren't so adorable and talented, I'd let you starve," Leo teased, and Justin beamed at him.
"If you would let them bring me a fork, it wouldn't be a problem."
"Don't be vulgar. You may be Anglo, but you needn't be a VULGAR Anglo!"
"Never that," Justin insisted, swigging a long draw of Tiger beer, straight from the bottle. He loved the authenticity of Chinatown, especially with someone like Leo along, who not only spoke Cantonese, but also knew which hole-in-the-wall had the best food.
Over the course of introductions to people in the art community, selecting work from his portfolio to be displayed in Leo's gallery showing of undiscovered, young artists, and working through Leo's connections to get a leg up on the NYU fine art program, the two of them had become fast friends. Age and cultural differences didn't pose a deterrence. Leo was cool, elegant and connected. Justin was talented, charming and hot. Both were gay. Both were involved in relationships, so the sexual pressure was off. It was a match made in Soho Heaven.
"Why didn't you ask Brian to join us for lunch?" Leo asked casually as the next course was served. Justin shrugged.
"He's out of town on business. Where's Bill?"
"Passing gas, again." That inside anesthesiologists joke always brought a naughty smile from Justin.
"What exotic locale drew the handsome Brian?"
"I don't know how exotic it is, but he's in Boston for a couple days."
"Since when is Boston interesting?"
Leo looked pensive, and then became very engaged with his food. Justin moved in with laser dexterity. "What's wrong? What's in Boston?"
"Not what. Who."
"Jeffrey. He's from Boston. His family is there. He's visiting."
Justin frowned, placing his chopsticks on his plate. "Of course. Jeffrey. Are you sure he's there?"
"Let's confirm, shall we?" Leo flipped open his mobile and punched in an auto dial number. Justin tried to stop him, but Leo waved him away like a pesky insect. After a couple rings, he said, "Laura, darling, it's Leo Chang in New York! How the heck are you? How is your handsome husband?" He rolled his eyes at Justin who smiled tensely. "Yes, and I've heard it rumored that it's going to be placed at auction at Sotheby's, but so far, no luck. I'm watching every catalogue that comes out of any major auction house and will let you know at once! Listen, I heard a rumor that you have New York family visiting you, is that true?" He nodded at Justin, who sank against his seat. "But the lovely Hannah, as advanced as she may be, didn't come there alone, now did she? Oh, I see. Well, aren't you wonderful grandparents? Where is our dear boy?" He shrugged and Justin perked up slightly. "How mysterious. He must have a secret rendezvous planned. Alone? Are you sure? How sad. When does he retrieve his daughter? Um-hum. No, don't even bother to tell him. I'll see him when he gets back to the jungle. You take care, now, darling. Tell hubby I said hello and kiss Hannah for me. You bet. Bye-bye." He ended the call and sighed.
"Strange. He dropped off Hannah with his parents in Boston and said he just wanted to be alone for a few days. She said he went somewhere inaccessible, but I have the feeling she knows how to reach him." "At least it isn't Boston. And Brian is in Boston. I talked to him at the Ritz Hotel last night. Besides which...do you think I need to worry about Jeffrey, Leo?"
"Worry? Why worry, doll? What do you gain from that? But would I be very cautious of Jeffrey? Well... he's one of my oldest friends. I adore him."
"The man is a saint, great father, generous friend, and a healer of children..."
"But?" Justin persisted.
"Jeffrey wants what Jeffrey wants and Jeffrey always gets what Jeffrey wants."
Justin met his eyes, trying to peer beyond that forced Asian inscrutability that was so much a cliché and yet not entirely untrue.
"He says he doesn't want Brian as anything more than a friend."
"How old are you, baby blue?" Leo teased.
"Older than I look," Justin said with a frown. "It's no shock to me, Leo. I told Bri from the very beginning that Jeffrey was after him. I saw it, and I told Jeffrey I was on to him the first time we met."
"I've fought long and hard and been through an incredible load of shit to be where I am now with Brian. I'm not giving him up to some so-called saint with a stethoscope. If he wants Brian, he'll have to pry him out of my cold dead hands. I'm through playing the free choice game. He's mine. I earned him. I put up with his crap. I finally got him to tell me how he feels about me, and no one, NO ONE, is coming between us now. Period." He sighed, suddenly deflated. "I really love him, Leo."
Leo smiled and touched his own beer bottle to Justin's, in a salute. "Of course you do, darling boy. My money's on you, kid. I would love to see Jeffrey bested at his own game by a blond twink. No offense."
"No offense taken. This blond twink exterior conceals the heart of a damned mean brunette!"
"Poor Brian," Leo said softly, shaking his head. "Solomon's proclamation will have nothing on this struggle and he's the baby in question."
Justin just smiled, strangely relieved to have his worst fears about Jeffrey confirmed by someone who knew him. He had been wondering if he was wrong about Jeffrey and whether he was being unreasonable to question their friendship. Now he knew his initial instinct was accurate. He could fight what he understood. It was tilting at phantoms that was so difficult to do.
Brian was exhausted. He finished his meeting mid-day and immediately left Boston for Stockbridge. It wasn't easy getting from Jeffrey's receptionist that he left his daughter with his parents and was staying at the family's rustic retreat in the Berkshires. She knew Brian's name from setting up various meetings between Jeffrey and Brian, and he used that to build a credible story that Jeffrey was expecting him and that Brian had misplaced the location and was unable to reach Jeffrey by phone. She explained there was no phone and that there was no mobile service where he was, but that his pager worked. He dissuaded her from paging, but took whatever he could get from her by way of specifics, and planned his journey accordingly. Beyond the name of the town, his directions were scant.
He set up a meeting with a Boston client because he needed to pitch to that client, but also because it was the perfect cover. He rented a car on his second day in Boston, and then drove three hours in dismal, sleety weather towards the border between New York and Massachusetts. The drive gave him time to consider what he was doing, but he was no happier with his actions, upon reflection, than he was when it was just an impulse. Brian Kinney didn't chase. And what was this if not a pursuit? He told himself it was to clarify things with Jeffrey, to reassure him he hadn't callously blown off his declaration of love. He wanted to explain why it was impossible between them, because of his strong feelings for Justin, and how he hoped they could remain friends. He never wanted to cause Jeffrey any pain. These were the things he wanted to say, or so he told himself, as the scenery changed from urban to suburban to rural.
The signage to Stockbridge was well marked. It was a tourist Mecca, an historic village preserved in time in the heart of the Berkshire mountains, and home of the Norman Rockwell Museum. He was told to go to the general store, once there, to get directions to the Walker cabin. When he arrived in Stockbridge, it was hardly a one horse town with a general store. In fact, he saw nothing that passed for a general store in this elegant village of upscale restored homes and art boutiques. He pulled into a gas station to fill up. His heavy sweater over jeans, topped with a long leather coat, hardly felt warm enough in this icy wind, laced with occasional pellets of sleet. He filled a tall Styrofoam cup with bitter self-serve coffee from a bar near the register, and then approached an older man cleaning the floors with a dirty mop.
"Excuse me, but are there vacation cabins around here?"
The old man stared at him as if he were from Mars. "There's hotels, young man. Can't miss `em. Across the street."
"No, I'm looking for a cabin belonging to the Walker family."
Brian shrugged. "Maybe. Where is that?"
"On Elm Street, big white house with red shutters."
Brian sighed. "No, it's a CABIN. Rustic. On a pond or a stream or something. In the woods."
"Yes," Brian said with forced patience. "In Stockbridge."
"Nothing like that here," he paused. "You mean the other Stockbridge, mebbe?"
Brian glanced over his shoulder as if expecting to find Abbott and Costello lined up for the next comedy routine. "There's another Stockbridge?"
"On the map? Because I looked at the map and there was only one Stockbridge."
"Mebbe on the map as West Stockbridge Center."
Brian smiled tensely, forcing a calm he didn't feel. He was tired. He was stressed. He didn't need this shit. "I see. Can you tell me how to get there?"
"Can't get there from here."
Brian narrowed his eyes at him. Did he have sucker stamped on his forehead or what? "Why can't I? Is it Brigadoon? Does it disappear into the mist, only reappearing on certain pagan holidays?"
"No need to get mouthy with me, young man."
Brian stopped, recalibrated his approach. "Sorry, I'm just tired and frustrated and my wife is waiting for me there. I'm late, and she'll be worried." An easy lie, calculated to elicit the old man's sympathy. "Your wife, eh?"
"You sent your wife to a place and you don't even know where it is?"
"It's her family's place. I've never been there," he couldn't believe he was making up a fantasy world just to get this guy's assistance.
"Shoulda got directions, son."
"Please. There has to be a way to get there from here. Give me some guidance, will you?"
Armed with directions more complex and confusing than the Normandy invasion plans, Brian returned to his rented SUV and left civilization on a quest. Paved roads gave way to dirt roads that gave way to ruts in the grass that became miraculously paved again, later. He was surrounded by pine trees that loomed dark and foreboding, an endless army of conifers stretched all the way up the mountainside. He passed neither cabin nor trailer nor other vehicle, and just when he was ready to give up, he came across a general store in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
There was no reason this store existed that Brian could see. Its weathered exterior and ancient Coca Cola tin sign indicated it had been abandoned long before he was born. Smoke curled from the chimney pot, suggesting life huddled within. There was an old pickup and a rusted Ford Fairlane parked out back. He got out of the SUV, stretching his cramped limbs, and ducked inside the store quickly to escape the cold. He felt as if he had walked onto a John Ford movie set, and the stage coach was overdue. Creaky hardwood floors complained under his weight and a black iron potbelly stove was providing the smoke he saw from the outside. Barrels held provisions, and behind the long, scarred wooden counter was a floor to ceiling shelving unit stocked with canned goods, medical supplies, pet food and other necessities.
Bolts of fabric leaned against the counter, and fishing gear and farm implements took up most of the floor space. Two men, seated at a rickety table, sipped hot coffee and played chess. Brian looked for a sign marking the way to a bathroom, but saw nothing. So he decided to take care of that on the road. God knows, there was no one around to see him do it. "Excuse me, but..."
"Lost?" One of the men smirked.
"Not sure, I..."
"You're lost alright. If you're here, you're lost."
"Ok, maybe so. I'm looking for the Walker cabin."
"They expectin' you?"
"Yes," he lied, relieved that the man at least knew what he meant.
"Then why didn't they tell ya how ta get there?"
"Ok, look. I am lost. Can you help me?" There was no room for pride in this backwoods.
"Don't know no Walkers."
"But... please. I'll pay."
The men exchanged a look, then laughed. The other man spoke up.
"Don't want your money, sonny boy."
Brian tensed at his use of a nickname his own father called him. He almost asked, "What do you want? A blow job?" But he thought better of it. He was at their mercy.
"Most cabins owned by city folk are up near Camp Kingsmont."
"Where is that?"
"Up in the hills. High."
"Which hills? Where in the hills?"
"Half mile from the New York border."
"Which is WHERE?" Brian asked, exasperated, and the man shrugged.
"Only one way ta get there."
"Could you share that one way with me?" Brian had learned there was a peculiar rhythm to getting directions around here.
"Drive straight on til you reach that cabin that used to be painted red, then turn left."
"Wait. If it used to be painted red, what color is it now?"
"Why, it's gray of course."
"Naturally. Go on."
"You'll be on Wilson Road. It's the only road, but its not marked. Just drive up that road til you see the small lake. Cabin is on far side of the lake, if it's the one I'm thinkin' of. Up a long dirt driveway. Has an iron stake on one side of the road that holds a sign sayin', `Private Property, No Trespass'. I think that may be the Walker place."
Brian sighed, combing through his hair with his fingers in a nervous gesture. "Thanks. Do you have wine?"
"Boxed wine over there. White or red."
Brian saw that he didn't mean a box full of wine bottles. He meant boxes containing bulk wine.
"Anything in a bottle?"
After buying two six packs of beer, Brian set out on the last leg of his journey, feeling as challenged and adventurous as a pioneer.
When a lake finally came into view, placid, dark and still, he began to relax, at last. Hardwoods ringed the banks of the water, their limbs stripped bare for winter. He imagined it was beautiful here in the warmth of summer, with a canopy of leaves to provide shade. He was so engrossed in the scenery, he almost passed the drive. He braked sharply and read the no trespassing sign before turning onto the dirt driveway that stretched far up the hill, with no house immediately in sight.
Finally, the structure emerged from a brace of evergreens. An unimposing cabin with weathered, shingled siding and a wrap around porch offering views of the lake on one side, the mountains on the other, was fronted by a shiny BMW SUV. Brian parked his car, hesitated, looking back from where he came. Night began to cover the view like a big black blanket being drawn across the skies. He knew, no matter what happened now, he could never find his way back in the dark. He was trapped.
Picking up the beer, he climbed the steps to the porch, hearing the strains of tango music coming from within. He knocked on the door that was painted a fading shade of blue. The old rockers on the porch, straight backed with rope seats, looked strangely comfortable and inviting, if not for the frigid weather. Finally Jeffrey responded, standing there in a heavy flannel plaid shirt over a thermal undershirt, worn jeans and hiking boots. He was in need of a shave, and his hair was rumpled. Brian thought he had never looked more handsome. After recovering from his initial shock of seeing Brian standing there, he stepped aside, motioning for him to enter.
The main room of the cabin was just as Brian pictured it. Scuffed wide plank wooden floors, paneled walls, high beamed ceilings and a central stone fireplace. The open kitchen area was rustic, with a cookstove large enough to accommodate both Hansel and Gretel, and a parson's table with benches for seating. A rough textured leather sofa and oversized chairs clustered around the fireplace. He could see Jeffrey had been stretched out on the couch under a plaid afghan, reading a book, a glass of wine on the floor beside him while music played on a portable sound system. Above the fireplace was a huge, mounted wide mouth bass with a brass plaque crediting its captor, "Jeffrey Walker, August 8, 1979."
"Surprise," Brian said with a tense smile and Jeffrey nodded.
"Big surprise. How did you ever find me?" He took the beer and placed it in the mud room off the kitchen. It would stay cold in that unheated space. The tiny ice box in the kitchen wouldn't hold a couple six packs and much else.
"Frankly, Jeff, I don't know how I found you. It's a modern day miracle. This cabin gives Butt Fuck, Idaho cosmopolitan status."
Jeffrey smiled and hung his leather coat on a hook near the door. "It is a bit remote."
"Yeah, like Neptune is a bit remote," he warmed himself at the fire, glancing at the framed family photographs on the mantle. Jeffrey, his two sisters, his parents, at various ages. Attractive waspy family, with two brunette children who resembled the father, and one blonde, Hannah's biological mother, who resembled the mother. "I'm surprised you have electricity up here."
"We didn't, for years. Now we have a generator. Runs on gasoline. I turn it off later and get by on lanterns and candles. Reminds me of my childhood."
"Don't you freeze?" Brian noticed a couple small space heaters, and Jeffrey shrugged.
"By then, I get under the eiderdown and there's a fireplace in the bedroom."
Jeffrey sat on the couch, staring at Brian as a silence stretched out between them. Finally, Brian sat beside him and sighed, beginning to relax from the tension of his trip. Jeffrey poured him a glass of red wine and returned to his prior seating.
"Brian, why are you here?"
"I had to talk to you."
"Now? Here? It couldn't wait until I returned to Manhattan?"
"No, it couldn't wait."
"Then here we are."
Brian glanced at Jeffrey's classic profile and sighed. "When we were in that chat, when you told me...what you said, Justin came up to me at that moment. I had to hang up. He was already pissed at me and I was in no mood for a fight."
"I understand, Brian."
"No, you don't. Look, I didn't want to just drop you an email or leave you a message. I know you've been avoiding me. I know I hurt your feelings. I had to talk to you face to face. To tell you...to say how much it meant to me, what you said."
"Yes, Jeff, of course it did. You know how much I like you."
Jeffrey reached over and covered Brian's hand with his. Brian didn't withdraw, acknowledging the little thrill he got from this contact with a frown. "Did you come all this way to tell me you were in love with someone else and there was no future in it for us but you hope we can continue to be friends?"
Brian's eyes widened with surprise. "Yes. Exactly."
"Brian, you don't fly to Boston and then trek into the wilderness for hours to kiss somebody off. No one is that considerate, and you definitely aren't. What you would do is let even more time pass, and then, one day, in Manhattan, you'd ask me to lunch and we'd both act like it never happened. That's what you would do."
Brian smiled slightly. "Actually, the old Brian would just never call you again at all. But I've been in analysis, as we've discussed, and I'm trying to become more human. Admittedly, it's been a struggle. I'm like a colt learning to walk, wobbly and unsure."
Jeffrey stood and offered Brian his hand. "Let's dance."
"Yes, the music is perfect, the tension is thick, let's see how much you retained."
Brian stood, helped him slide the couch back, creating a line
of dance. They clenched each other and moved into the sliding embrace of the
tango. The feel of Jeffrey's body so close to his own, of their thighs performing
an intricate entrechat as they walked, was exhilarating. Brian closed his eyes
and let the sensuality of the dance engulf him. When Jeffrey finally stopped
him by pulling him up to his body, Brian met his gaze with a tense smile. "How
did I do?"
"You're a natural." Jeffrey kissed him and Brian let him, relaxing his lips and admitting his tongue into his mouth. He felt Jeffrey's hands wander down his back, over his buttocks, cupping his ass and pulling him against his pelvis. Brian encircled his neck with his arms and deepened the kiss, realizing only now how hungry he had been for his touch. They kissed for what seemed an eternity, then Jeffrey broke it off, took his hand, led him into the bedroom. A fire burned in the stone hearth and the antique brass bed was tall and piled high with pillows and a thick eiderdown duvet.
"Jeff, I...I don't know," Brian heard himself say, unable to believe he was questioning whether to proceed with a sexual encounter, especially when he was so hot for his potential partner. Jeffrey smiled and sat on the edge of the bed, reaching out to hook his hand in the waistband of Brian's jeans and pull him forward.
"Yes, you do know, Brian. This is why you're here. This is what you want. We both know it." His smooth hands reached under Brian's sweater, slipping up and down his taut abdomen and over his hard pectorals. Brian sighed, eyes closing, head back. Jeffrey unbuttoned his fly and reached inside, freeing Brian's cock from the cover of the denim. He was already semi-erect and as Jeffrey stroked him gently, admiring the look of him and watching him fill and expand, Brian let go of his inhibitions towards Jeffrey and moved into the familiar role of sexual predator.
"Suck it," he whispered hoarsely, and Jeffrey looked up at him and smiled.
"Don't rush it. I intend to savor every second of this, Brian. I want to worship your body. I want to memorize it. I want to make you feel like you never have before."
Brian smiled. "I don't think that's possible."
"We'll see." Jeffrey threw off his flannel shirt, followed by his thermal. His torso was cut and smooth. Brian was a little surprised by how toned he was, knowing he had scant time to work out. Jeffrey then unzipped his jeans and stepped out of his boots and socks, sliding off his pants. He wore nothing underneath. He stretched out on the bed, propped up on pillows, his engorged cock resting against his groin. It was big enough, Brian noticed, plump, with full, high testicles, smoothly shaven. "Get naked. I want to look at you," Jeffrey demanded, stroking his cock in a leisurely manner as he watched Brian take off his clothes. "I love your body," he coaxed him. "Tall and slim and elegant. I don't like muscle queens. You're beautiful."
Brian smiled and stretched out beside him, covering Jeffrey's hand on his cock with his own, joining him in the stroke. "So are you."
"And your cock is gorgeous."
"So is yours."
With that, Brian leaned over him and kissed him, the feel of his naked flesh against his own inflaming his passion. He climbed on top of him, the gentle beginning of their touching quickly becoming more heated. Brian was driving towards a familiar goal now. His body took over for his mind. He was aching for release, shuddering as Jeffrey unrolled a condom onto his straining erection. Brian penetrated Jeffrey swiftly, painlessly, anchoring his legs over his shoulders and driving his cock in as deep as it would go. He became like an animal, fucking him and fucking him, searching for that shattering moment of release. When it finally hit, he shot so hard he cried out as if in pain, then collapsed above him, gasping. He felt the warm silkiness of Jeffrey's ejaculate gluing their bellies together, not even aware of when he came.
Within minutes, Jeffrey was urging him over on his back, kissing him, titillating nerve endings that still tingled from his orgasm. Brian smiled, pleased by his hunger, and Jeffrey smiled back, then thrust his tongue into Brian's mouth, initiating round two. They moved so they could suck each other simultaneously, and after they were both fully aroused, Jeffrey gently turned Brian onto his stomach, kissing his back, his shoulders, and his spine. He dipped down to the curve of his ass and traced the tight crevice with the tip of his tongue.
Brian moaned into the pillow and parted his thighs so Jeffrey could access his hole, feeling the waves of pleasure roll through him as the rimming began. When he was so excited he felt on the verge of another orgasm, Jeffrey stopped and Brian heard the condom package rip. He looked over his shoulder as Jeffrey slipped the latex over his dick. Jeffrey met his questioning look with a smile. "My turn," he whispered, and Brian hesitated only a moment. He seldom allowed himself to be topped, almost never in recent years, unless Justin felt a sudden urge to assert himself in that way. It wasn't that he disliked it; in fact, the pressure of a hard cock against his prostate and filling up his body was exciting. His reluctance was purely mental. Brian knew he had just a moment to decline, and he let that moment pass, crossing his arms on the pillow and resting his forehead against his folded arms as he braced for the inevitable moment of discomfort.
Wrapped in Jeffrey's Indian blanket robe, Brian was alone as he sat on the couch before the fire in the main room, the afghan covering his bare legs and feet. He smoked a cigarette and held a beer, but didn't drink from it. His hair was mussed, and he had slept some, so he had no idea what time it was. He had that languid, almost liquid feel he got when he was fucked out, but the pleasant ennui was edged by feelings of guilt and anxiety. Jeffrey was sleeping peacefully when he left the bed, and Brian was careful to cover him with the duvet as he went, to keep him warm. He listened to the absolute silence outside the cabin, only the crackling of the log fire inside providing some noise. Like in the old movies, he thought it was quiet, too quiet. Just as the sex had been good, too good. And he liked Jeffrey a lot, too much. But he loved Justin completely. And now he had definitely put that relationship at risk. Not just because he fucked Jeffrey, Justin could roll with his occasional infidelities. But because he liked Jeffrey and pursued Jeffrey and now he was intimate with him on a deeper level. He closed his eyes and thought of Justin alone in the loft, under the blue lights, trusting him to be in a hotel in Boston, sleeping by himself. He thought of his sunny smile, his brush of pale hair, his beautiful eyes and skin. He thought of how lonely he had been without him, of how his life changed immediately when Justin returned to him.
"What the hell are you doing?" He thought to himself, and then picked up Jeffrey's discarded book: Ulysses by James Joyce.
"Ever read it?" Jeffrey's voice startled him. Brian looked up to see him leaning in the bedroom doorway, cocooned inside the duvet from the bed. Brian nodded, leaning back as Jeffrey climbed onto the sofa with him, stretching out above his body and covering them both with the duvet. His naked body aroused Brian more than he cared to admit. Brian sighed and allowed his hands to wander over Jeffrey's firm skin.
"I read it years ago. I thought it was overly complex. Depressing as hell. The masturbation scene was no great shakes, and the rest of it was obtuse. Even the brothel was boring."
Jeffrey laughed. "It's a masterpiece. You should re-read it, now that you're a grown up. How old were you when you first read it? Justin's age?"
Brian met his eyes. "Ouch."
"Am I not allowed to speak his name?"
Brian slipped out from under Jeffrey and crossed over to the fireplace, tying the sash of his robe. "Nothing has changed because we fucked, Jeff."
"Sure it did. Everything changed."
Brian shook his head. "No, Justin's still my partner. Things are no different. I'm suddenly hungry. Is there anything to eat in the kitchen?"
Jeffrey watched Brian escape the room, and smiled. Despite Brian's skittish reminder about Justin, Jeffrey knew he was right. Everything had changed. In fact, everything changed before their phenomenal fucking. It changed when Brian showed up on his porch. No, it changed when Brian decided to drive to Stockbridge to find him. When Brian didn't respond to his declaration of love, Jeffrey became depressed. He was miserable, and he felt foolish. He had never been drawn to a man the way he was drawn to Brian. When he first saw him outside the museum, with Gus, he was instantly attracted by his tall, elegant form. He presumed he was straight, and when he found out he wasn't, his attraction to him deepened. It wasn't just sex. He liked Brian. He admired his quick mind, his searing ambition, his biting wit. He felt challenged by him intellectually and he loved their playful word games.
Teaching Brian to tango was a lesson in love. Their intellectual mutuality extended to the physical similarities between them. They were perfect dance partners, perfect sex partners, perfect life partners, of that Jeffrey was convinced. When he met his rival, Justin, whom he privately referred to as the "Boy Toy", he was surprised. He thought Brian would have a more substantive boy friend, not some flashy blond twink. Talking to Justin made Jeffrey realize he was no ordinary twink, but he had no doubt he could take him. Until Brian withdrew. Until his heartfelt computer message went unanswered.
Jeffrey retreated to Massachusetts when he began to realize he couldn't control his feelings of loss over Brian's distance. He needed to regain perspective. The cabin held many sweet memories of his childhood. It always renewed him to go there, especially if he went alone. He was amused that he picked Ulysses to re-read on this trip. Irish author, Irish setting and the principal character sold advertising, strong clues to where Jeffrey's mind was anchored. Unfortunately, his depression seemed to expand in the forced isolation and the density of the novel. And then there came a knock on the front door, and the lover of his dreams was on the other side.
"I made you one," Brian handed him a ham sandwich, and Jeffrey thanked him and bit into it. He kept his eyes trained on Brian's handsome face, determined to handle this critical juncture in their relationship with appropriate finesse.
"Brian, I'm not crowding you. I know Justin is your partner. You can relax with me. I'm not in the business of causing trouble." Brian smiled and nodded, reassured by the angelic face of the noble young doctor.
"Thanks, Jeff. I don't want to mislead you. I like you too much to do that."
"And I appreciate your honesty," Jeffrey insisted. He opened his arms to Brian, smiling as he rested the back of his head on Jeffrey's chest while he finished his sandwich, content in his embrace.
Jeffrey finished his own while absently rubbing Brian's biceps with his free hand. In a few minutes they would be aroused again, and headed back to bed. Brian would convince himself he had controlled the situation, and that it was possible to have Justin and Jeffrey both intimately involved in his life. Jeffrey would let him believe that, nurture that confidence, waiting patiently for the time when Brian could be shown there was really only one choice to share his life, and it wasn't the Boy Toy from Pittsburgh.
The fire was flickering out in the hearth, leaving behind ash and a few glowing shards of wood. The heat seemed to have been transported into the men as they filled their hands with each other, stoking the smoldering sexual embers into flames.
"Let's go to bed," Jeffrey whispered and Brian agreed, content that they both understood exactly where they stood with each other.
Justin had warned him he had the sex thing down cold, but he was an infant when it came to relationships. Unfortunately for Brian, his hearing was selective when the words analyzed his character. He was still several sessions with Lydia short of understanding who he was, and what he wanted. Perhaps that explained why he couldn't have been more wrong about what was happening in that cabin in the wilderness on that night, and the impact his miscalculation would have on his future.
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July 25, 2004