Welcome to the Family

A Sanitaria Springs Story

By Israfil & Dabeagle

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~Jake~

The word that sprang to mind was ostentatious. If ever there was a word of the day that applied in my life, that one did as far as this hotel was concerned. The hotel soared several floors up and was as wide as a city block, completely blocking the ocean behind it. The lights were on and my eyes were drawn to the enormous archway in the center of the building—it was five stories high!

Jon patted my leg and hopped from the car, clearly happy to be able to move again. Before I climbed from the car, I sent my father a quick text to let him know we’d arrived safely. I reached for the door handle but the door pulled from my grasp and Jon stood behind it with a little smile. He gave a stiff legged-bow as I started to exit the car and I rolled my eyes at him.

“Playing my servant again? I told you what the rules would be,” I reminded him.

“Bow tie and no shirt, got it,” he said and grinned insolently.

“Leave the role play for later, guys,” Geoff, Jon's arrogant odler brother, commented without even a backward glance as he strode towards the doors.

I decided to drop it, and I stretched ungracefully as my body recovered from being crammed in the car for so long. I strolled to the trunk to take possession of my suitcase, but was confused to see Richard, Jon's responsible eldest brother, watching a man in dark pants and wearing a coat with gold trim lift our bags out and place them on a cart of some kind.

The cart's handles had some sort of brass or gold coating and the cart looked expensive. If that was how they moved luggage, I began to feel uncomfortable about the way the rest of the hotel would look.

The lobby was sumptuous. Marble floor tiles, glittering overhead lights and elegant, lacquered wood filled the space. Expensive looking chairs and loveseats dotted the area and my sense of not belonging grew stronger.

“You alright, Jake? You look a little sick.” I looked at Geoff and he smiled. Something predatory lurked in that smile and, rather than answer him, I turned to Richard.

“Um, Mr. Ellesier?”

He turned and raised an eyebrow. “I thought we had an agreement?” he responded, a wry smile on his lips.

I blushed. “Richard. I was wondering if I could give you a little bit to help with the cost of the room?”

Richard’s gaze flicked from my face to Jon’s and back. “That’s very conscientious of you, Jake. But you are our guest.”

Jon tugged at my arm and I looked at him. “Cut it out, babe. Don’t worry about the cost.”

“Easy for you to say,” I muttered under my breath. Jon took charge of our key cards and handed one to me.

“I don’t think you’ll be anywhere without me, but just in case,” he said with a grin. I looked at the card, read the room number off the sleeve it was in, and slipped it into my pocket. “Hey, you okay?”

I looked around, taking in the opulence at a glance. “This is a little overwhelming. I’m not sure why we need so much...overindulgence.”

“Simple,” Geoff said, butting in as he passed us by. “We deserve every damn penny of it. That’s why.”

Jon shrugged and grinned while I glared at Geoff’s retreating back. “Come on,” Jon said, oblivious to my perturbation, as usual. “Let’s go see our room.”

“What about our bags?” I asked as I looked around for them.

“Um, bellhops. Our bags are being delivered to our rooms right now.”

“What? Why? I can carry my own bag!” I protested.

Jon frowned lightly. “It’s just how things are done. Come on.”

Feeling overwhelmed I followed Jon to a bank of elevators. Even the doors on the elevator were overdone to the point of giving rise to thoughts of a monarchy in my mind. Who needs this level of...I mean seriously? Whose ego needed to be stroked to this point? Oh. Geoff. Okay, maybe I understand a bit more now why we were in this particular hotel. If anyone thought his ass needed pampering, it was Geoff.

Jon led us confidently to our room. I had to admit he was in his element, knowing things I didn’t and showing off a bit. There was a side of me that liked Jon appearing to be in control, guiding us. I just needed to temper his direction from time to time. He slid the keycard home and we entered the room. I stopped in the doorway and looked around. With an internal sigh of relief I noted the room was toned down visibly from the lobby. The carpet had a modern geometric design and the nightstands and dresser were sleek but not gilded or gaudy. Just past the large bed was an archway leading into a small sitting area with a chair and loveseat. As over-the-top as the other parts of the hotel had been, the room was more understated elegance. Crown molding adorned the ceiling. Blues and cream colors came together to tie in nicely with the carpet and made for a visually relaxing setting.

At the far end of the room, the floor to ceiling curtains were open to a breathtaking view of the ocean. I drifted across the room and stood at the window, watching the lights of the city bounce off the water as it rolled. I looked from side to side, wondering if there was any light that would let me see more, but it was too late, the day had already died and with it its light. Instead, reflected light on the waves flickered and blinked, looking like winking stars on a liquid sky.

“What do you think?” Jon asked in a tone that was unfamiliar to him, but I didn’t take the time to analyze it.

I glanced at him quickly over my shoulder and smiled before looking back out at the sparkling water. “Oh, wow. I mean, this is so beautiful, Jon! I can’t wait to see it in the morning.”

“There’s a door, there. Leads to a small balcony. Probably cold as shit but if you want….”

I turned to look back at him. My heart was overflowing, my chest felt as if it couldn’t contain my excitement and my tongue danced with adjectives to tell him just how excited I was. But it all stopped cold as I saw him examining a small bottle of liquor from the mini bar. He looked at me and grinned.

“Maybe we could have a drink out there to warm up, huh?”

I narrowed my eyes. “Planning on staying drunk the next few days?”

“No,” he said petulantly. “I thought we could have a drink together. Geoff and I—”

“I’m not Geoff,” I snapped.

Jon’s eyes narrowed. “I can handle it. If I want a drink, I’ll have one.”

I glanced around the room and spotted my suitcase on a stand. I strode to it and said, “Fine. Not like I can stop you. Just do me a favor? If you decide to get wrecked, do it in Geoff’s room.”

“Whoa, hold on!’ Jon protested.

I hate when he drinks. I hate it because he overdoes it. If he could he’d drink daily. I know it isn’t good for him, and he doesn’t care about that. No, he’d rather follow goddamn Geoff, a bad example if there ever was—

“Hey,” Jon said as he pulled on my arm. I jerked backward and folded my arms and looked away. I wasn’t completely sure, to be honest, why so suddenly I was so flustered, but I sure as hell was. No, check that. I didn’t want to watch Jon work on his cirrhosis-of-the-liver achievement. I wanted him healthy and with me for a long damn time.

“What?”

Jon frowned and let out a sigh. “Okay. I won’t do the mini bar. Happy?”

I looked at him and nearly blew a blood vessel in my forehead. “Happy? Why? Because you are telling me you won’t get drunk in our room? You think that’s what I care about? Because you’re doing what I say you should? Think I want to be in control?”

“Well, isn’t it? I mean you just told me...what the hell am I missing here?” Jon demanded.

I glowered at him. He kept up his defiant look. I turned and began pulling out clothes to change into for dinner. “I hate how you seem to want to drink every day. Everything is an excuse to hoist a beer or down a bottle of wine. You even drove drunk for five hours from Boston all the way home.”

“Hey, five hours and I didn’t get into an accident until I was home. That’s impressive, no?” Jon asked with a chuckle, trying to make light of it.

“Landed you in the hospital,” I said sourly.

“Well, I’m not driving here,” he muttered.

I shook my head as I gathered my clothes to my chest. “Jon. You don’t get it. It’s not that I want to tell you what to do, and I don’t get any thrill from guilting you or fighting with you so you'll pay attention to your own health. I want you to be around and healthy. A little moderation, some control on your part. One drink once in awhile is one thing but—be honest; with Geoff home last night, how much did you drink?”

Jon looked away and scowled.

“Exactly. Now you’re getting excited about the mini-bar. How many drinks will you have with dinner?” I shook my head and moved past him toward the bathroom door.

“Where are you going?”

“Into the bathroom to change.”

“What? Why? What was the point of your new underwear if you’re going to change in there?”

I looked back at him and felt a little stitch in my chest. “It didn’t matter when I sent you a picture. Why should it matter to you now?”

“Jake….”

I closed the door and set my clothes down on the counter. I steadied myself on the marble countertop and took deep breaths that shuddered out of me. I didn’t want it to be like this. I wasn’t his mother or his nanny, but when he started acting the way he was right then, every protective instinct I had came roaring out of me. I hadn’t accepted that I couldn’t protect Jon from himself. It probably wouldn’t take many of these disagreements to cause something more permanent between us. I could see Geoff now, in my mind’s eye, sneeringly asking Jon if his babysitter gave him permission to have a drink with him.

To clear my head, I tried to focus on my surroundings. The countertop was green marble shot through with lightning-like streaks of white. The mirror had a frame with some tastefully-elegant gold leaf as an accent. The walls were a neutral color, but behind me, clearly apparent in the mirror, was a large shower with travertine tile walls and a clear glass enclosure. My mouth went dry as I pictured showering with Jon. Running soapy fingers across his back or pretending to wash his chest as his nipples hardened into chips of stone.

With a sigh, I pulled off my shirt, kicked off my shoes and jeans. I slowly put on the clothes I’d picked out to impress Jon and not embarrass him in front of his family. Cinching the belt I picked up my shoes and clothes. I had no right to tell Jon what to do; no one did. I couldn’t help myself, it seemed, when I felt he was making a bad decision, but I needed to find a better way to express it before he got sick of my nagging. With a final glance in the mirror, and the image in my mind of that steaming shower packed with the both of us, I let out a heavy sigh and opened the door to tell Jon he wouldn’t hear anything else from me about drinking.

At least that was my intention. The first thing I noticed was Jon’s shirt on the bed. The lone bed in the room. A close second, but irreversibly tied to that bed, was the man standing beside it. I’d never told him, but he was too smart by half so there was no telling if this was on purpose or not. But there Jon stood, sneakers kicked away and in his jeans - quite possibly the sexiest look Jon had in his arsenal in my opinion. For a moment his face was turned toward the window; heat rushed to my face as desire flooded through me. If I fought with him about drinking, and seeing me and not able to say a kind word, would we still sleep in that bed together? Would we…. No, we wouldn’t. Not if I made him miserable. I didn’t know how to take care of Jon, I didn’t know how to convey the urgency of my fears without aggravating him.

My mouth went dry and Jon turned his head, catching me as I stood there, forgetting to breathe because I so badly wanted to touch him. My whole body felt as if it were one giant sweat gland. I licked my lips and turned away as a smile touched Jon’s lips.

I occupied myself by folding my clothes. “Is there a washer?” I asked inanely, anything to distract myself from ogling him. That had to be uncomfortable, being stared at like that. “I only wore these today but I could wear them again.”

“The hotel has a laundry service, if you want,” Jon replied. He was close behind me. I shivered. My eyes darted to the bed and my mind was filled with the thought of him on that bed, just as he was now, and how I’d kiss him...and things would just get out of hand from there. I dropped a hand and adjusted myself in embarrassment and felt ashamed at my naked desire.

But why? I wanted this! I wanted him. As I stood, steadfastly not looking at him, the sound of rustling cloth filled my ears. The sound of his jeans sliding off. I whimpered and I may not have been able to keep him from hearing it.

“Jake? You okay?”

No. I’m about to attack you and we’ll miss dinner. I’m okay with that but your brothers may want an explanation. I’m sure Geoff would supply one to your entire family. I pictured him smiling smugly and telling the dining room in general that we were in our room, fucking like bunnies.

I was so mortified that my ardor for Jon was nearly gone. Well, what do you know? Geoff was good for something. I turned and Jon was standing there, completely without conscious thought that he was in just his underwear, dress pants hanging in one hand. I felt sweat break out on my forehead in response to the flames that were surely burning my skin from my skull. How could Jon not know how his being dressed down affected me? Me, who desired him in every way? Remembering he wasn’t interested in the selfie, I considered that maybe I should temper my passions.

“Um,” I said and tore my eyes from him. Shit, think of Geoff, think of Geoff. “Um, should I know anything about the family we’re going to meet tonight?”

I heard the cloth sliding and, from the corner of my eye, saw he had pants on. Without his shirt I still wanted to pin him to the bed and keep him more than busy all night, but without the jeans—no idea why—I could resist. Unless he kissed me or something. Then he was going to lose his V-card. Oh, me too.

“Right. Um, two people will be joining us. My uncle Michael was my dad’s younger brother and I think he’ll ignore you, mostly. I’m not sure why, but Richard always seemed afraid of him. I never really got an explanation but I think it had to do with Michael wanting custody of Geoff and me after my parents died.”

I turned toward Jon, who was buttoning his shirt up. He was barefoot in dress clothes, and I still wanted to jump him; there is something undeniably sexy about the duality of dress clothes worn well and the counterpoint of the casual nature of bare feet. He wasn’t wearing jeans, I reminded myself, and though he was still edible, my desire was controllable now.

“Really? Was he close to you both? How old was Richard?”

Jon looked up at the ceiling in thought, and I grabbed my black all-purpose socks from my suitcase before sitting down on the edge of the bed to put them on. I was mildly disappointed that Jon didn’t notice my own bare feet, or didn’t comment. Perhaps Derek and I had been wrong about that idea. I suppose it proved how little I really knew of Jon, no matter what I imagined.

“Richard was twenty-two - no, three.”

“That’s young. Did your uncle think he couldn’t handle it?” I glanced at Jon as he pulled his belt through the loops of his pants.

“I’m not sure. I got the impression he didn’t trust Richard and I think Richard was afraid if Michael got us we’d never see one another again. Apparently I’m my uncle’s favorite nephew, don’t ask me why.” Jon sat down beside me and started to pull his socks on while I slid my feet into my new dress shoes.

“Michael adopted a son, Jeremy. Jeremy plays for your...um, our...he’s gay. Uh, since you’re the new guy he’ll probably be curious about you. He might hit on you.”

“Oh? Is he cute?” I asked.

“Why would you ask me that?” Jon demanded. I glanced over to see him scowling at me and I grinned.

“Well, you said he might flirt. Don’t you—”

Jon smiled in a predatory way and cut me off. “If he tries anything, I’m sure he’ll look very cute in a nice suit. In his coffin. Although, if he touches you, it may not be an open casket.”

I looked at Jon for a moment and then burst out laughing. “Really? Feeling territorial?”

“Fuck yes,” Jon said as he gained his feet. He glanced at me from head to toe and said, “You look nice.”

Nice? That’s it? Nice? Well, he made swimsuit jokes when I sent him a selfie in supposedly sexy underwear. Well, maybe the underwear was sexy but the person wearing them wasn’t. If he really liked what he’d seen, Jon was bold enough to say so. Apparently all my clothes rated was a ‘nice’.

“Thanks,” I replied. Deliberately, I said, “You clean up all right, too.”

Jon stepped into his dress shoes and then walked the few short steps to me. He placed a hand on my shoulder and turned me away from him. ‘What the fuck?’ ran through my mind, but then he wrapped his arms around me and rested his head on my shoulder.

“So, you really are happy with the view?”

I relaxed back into him. “My God, Jon. It’s really breathtaking. We got so lucky to get this view. I’m going to enjoy it every day we’re here.”

Tension I hadn’t known was there left his body as he pressed toward me ever so slightly and nuzzled my neck. “In the summer, I’ll bring you back here. Maybe we can go sailing. Would you like that?”

“Jon,” I said warningly and began to turn in his arms, but he held me fast. “That would be expensive. I don’t even want to know what this room costs because I’ll be mortified and feel like a charity case.”

“Jake,” he said and squeezed me lightly. “I love you.”

Of course, my resolve melted. “I love you, too.”

“Babe. I know money is a matter of reality for you, so let’s talk reality for a minute.” I nodded and he continued, speaking into my ear and making me shiver. “Coming here is something my family does. I’m going to be here. The thing is, standing here with you makes me think: Why come here alone? What’s the point if I could be sharing it with you?”

My heart nearly exploded in my chest and I turned around, twisting past his efforts to bind me in place. I looked up into his face and found no smirk, no smugness. His face was open and as easy to read as it was when we were alone in his home or mine. He’d done it again. Every tiny cut he’d made, knowingly or not, was wiped away by his words. They weren’t flowery - no, they were quite plain. Powerful beyond measure in their directness, and they made my heart swell with pride and love for him. I shook my head at him.

“I have been so...anxious about this trip. I’ve been obsessing and trying to be perfect for you and your family.” I plucked at the front of my shirt for emphasis. “I was frustrated and you were aggravating me and….” I paused and, seeing his expression growing troubled, reached up and placed my palm on the side of his face. Much as he had what felt like so long ago, his head tilted into my touch while not breaking eye contact.

“You have an uncanny talent, Jon. You take my mind to the brink with doubt and worry and fear, filling me with more questions than I have answers for, and then, for one beautiful moment, your true self comes out and every reason I love you comes back to me like a...” I glanced toward the window, looking for the right thing to say. But, then it was obvious. Looking abck I said. “Like a wave on the beach. I get overwhelmed with how you can say just the right thing and....Jon, I love you. So much.”

Jon’s face slid from troubled to, dare I say it, lusty? Hungry? A hot fire had been set somewhere in him. I had no time to comb my vocabulary for the appropriate adjective as his lips closed the distance between us and I was lost, devoured by a kiss filled with more urgency than I’d ever felt from Jon. This is it, I thought. In my marrow I felt it. Jon desired me. Right now, in this moment. Jon. Wanted. Me.

Jon’s hands suddenly became active, pulling my shirt untucked. My breath locked in my throat as he ran his hands up my sides, around my back and pulled me tightly to him, turning his head and kissing me deeply. Hurriedly I copied him, my fingers caressing the skin of his back, alternatively pulling him closer and relenting in order to roam anew. I felt his excited state pressed against my abdomen, and my heart raced faster with the proof of his desire.

With a growl that stimulated my erection, he leaned back, grabbed my shirt and yanked. Buttons popped and tiny sounds of ricochets could be heard as they hit a few hard surfaces. I looked down at my exposed chest, the very same one he’d seen in my selfie that he’d not commented on. Self-consciously and with a sense of dread cooling my romantic emotions I looked up into Jon’s face to gauge his reaction.

His eyes were fixed, wide. His lips had parted slightly. He stared and, in direct contrast to the act of destroying my shirt, he reached out slowly, almost reverently. My stomach muscles tightened as the tips of his fingers made contact. He ran them up over my stomach sending a shiver through me. My entire body flickered with chills and heat, a confusion that I noted but couldn’t examine in my hurricane of emotions. Leaving trails of heat and ice, he dragged his fingers to my chest, and deliberately ran the pad of his thumb across a nipple. I gasped and shuddered. His eyes flicked up, gaze focused on mine.

“Jon,” I whispered and my hands moved involuntarily, twitching with indecision that pulled at me; should I touch every inch of his body or hold steady while he explored mine? Yet a small voice asked if Jon could truly ever like what he saw before him? “Do you...like what….”

His thumb stroked again and his other hand rose to my shoulder and shoved my shirt backward, and it fell back and tangled my arms. Leaving his hand on my shoulder to hold me in place Jon leaned in and attacked my throat while softly stroking my nipple, and I clutched at him, tossing off the ruined shirt as quickly as I could and then wrapping my arms around him. Jon seemed not to notice. He continued the sweet torture he was so good at and added in the near-orgasmic sensation of stroking my sensitive nipple, which was now approaching bedrock-like hardness.

My thought process shorted out and I shoved him backward, where the back of his knees hit the bed and he sat down hard. His face was bewildered, but I didn’t see it for long as I straddled his lap and kissed him as I worked the buttons on his shirt feverishly with my hands. Ever the clever boy, Jon started undoing buttons from the bottom, and within moments his shirt was off. With my libido so firmly in charge that nothing short of a detonating nuclear device would distract me, I pushed him back and rather than diving for his neck, I latched my lips onto his chest, completely covering the aureole and flicking my tongue quickly over the hardening nub.

Jon’s groan of bliss, his fingers tangling in my hair, were nearly enough to cause me to spontaneously orgasm. Doubts cleared from my mind. I was high, filled with the rush of nearing my first time. With Jon.

As it happens, Geoff is apparently the equivalent of a nuclear device. A loud banging thundered through our room causing us both to jump slightly.

“Come on. Dinner time,” Geoff hollered and thumped the door again.

“Fuck him, don’t stop,” Jon whispered heatedly, his eyes locked to mine. “Maybe he’ll think we already went down.”

“Go down? I was hoping,” I said breathlessly and dove down on his chest, but to the other nipple. Jon hissed and Geoff began to alternate pounding with a fist and kicking the door.

“I know you’re in there! You guys have all night for that! I’m not going down by myself.”

“Jeremy isn’t the only one in danger of a closed casket funeral,” I growled. Apparently mentioning funerals was enough to break Jon’s mood. He sighed and then laughed lightly before pulling me up to his face.

“Coming!” he hollered to Geoff.

“I said you can do that later!” Geoff yelled and kicked the door for emphasis.

I looked down into Jon’s eyes. “I wanted to hear you say that with a slightly different tone,” I said daringly.

Jon’s eyes sparkled. Please, Jon, say the right thing, I thought. Don’t be Geoff’s brother. Be my Jon.

“Well, I guess the foreplay is over.”

I paused. I wasn’t sure if this was Geoff’s Jon or mine.

“Does that mean...did you...was I—”

“Babe.” So much was conveyed in that one word, and I relaxed. His hand snaked up behind me and tangled in my hair, pulling me down for a short kiss.

The door thundered and shook in its frame. “God damn it, Pinter! I’m hungry, I need a drink and I’m not facing those two alone! Fuck him later!”

“I don’t think I like your brother,” I growled at him.

“He’s just hangry. He’ll grow on you. Maybe.” We stood up, and I definitely was reluctant to do so. Jon picked up his shirt but I couldn’t help but give one last caress to his exposed chest. He stopped dressing and smiled down at me.

“You need a new shirt. I was saving it for tomorrow, but I guess you’ll be okay if I buy you one to replace the one I destroyed. Right?”

“Sure. You have my permission to replace any shirt you rip off me,” I joked.

“Deal.” He unfolded the shirt he’d bought for me at the mall the previous week, and I realized just how long he’d been planning to bring me with him. I felt incredibly good that he’d begun laying plans to get me to himself for days. He held the shirt up like a coat and I turned, sliding my arms into each side and turning to face him.

His eyes darted all over my face, then my chest, taking in the open shirt on my frame. Jon’s tongue darted out and licked his lips before he glanced back at the door briefly.

“Security might come up if he attacks the door again. But I’m willing to risk it if you are,” I told him.

Jon looked at me with a hungry look, one that made my knees turn to jelly. “Later. We have days.”

I shivered in anticipation.

We exited the room a few minutes later to find a cranky Geoff in the hallway. “Jesus. I didn’t know you two were so horny that you couldn’t wait for dinner first.”

“Weren’t you the one that said to get a room?” I asked flippantly. Jon looked at me in surprise and burst out laughing.

The corners of Geoff’s mouth crinkled.

“There you guys are. I wasn’t going down there by myself,” Richard chided us as we approached the elevator where he paced.

“Brody, what the hell happened with my room?” Geoff demanded.

“What’s wrong with it?” Richard asked in a tone I recognized; he’d used it on Jon often enough. For Richard, it was playful, yet his face was entirely neutral.

“I got a great view of the building next door, that’s what,” Geoff complained. “I like a room with an ocean view. I had dibs; you know I get one every time.”

“My heart bleeds for you,” Richard said with a roll of his eyes. “Well, I guess the guys you find on Grindr will have to want something more from you than just an ocean view. Jon? Any problems with your room?”

Jon looked at me and I leaned into him and smiled, probably quite dopily. Obviously Jon had lobbied for us to get that room. He’d done that for me, just to make me happy. He turned back to Richard and replied, “Nope. Perfect.”

We stepped into the elevator and Geoff was glancing at Jon and muttering darkly while Jon smiled back at him, clearly unconcerned. I couldn’t help but smile at Jon and his display of fearlessness at his older brother. Take that, Geoff. Naturally there was also the high I was feeling from Jon having definitively taken us farther than we’d ever been. I could still taste the skin of his chest, revel in the smell his body. The very idea had me getting hard again, and I wasn’t sure I could make it through an entire meal without dragging him bodily up to our room.

Think about Geoff, think about Geoff. Note to self, never tell Jon I think of his brother to get out of the mood. That’s just weird.

We exited the elevator and headed to an ornate dining room. Richard informed the maitre'd that we were meeting another party. He was told our table was being readied and invited us to meet our party in the salon to our left. We followed Richard, walking through an archway into yet another opulent room with overstuffed furniture and marble everywhere, we followed Richard. As we approached, two people stood up, one older and one younger.

“Oh, Dad said you were bringing a friend,” Jeremy said to Jon with a smile. “So nice to meet you!”

Once I’d released Jeremy’s hand I was shocked and immensely pleased when Jon’s hand fumbled by my own, and then he interlocked his fingers with mine. Jeremy lifted an eyebrow.

“Jeremy, Uncle Michael, I’d like you to met my boyfriend, Jake Thayer,” Jon said in a scratchy voice. Geoff turned his head and his face registered clear surprise. Take that, Geoff! More than petty spite for interrupting us, I felt a surge of confidence and utter pride in Jon for taking the bull by the horns. Geoff’s Jon would be off drinking in a corner. My Jon...he’s fearless. All-powerful. Also, all mine.

The elder was introduced to me as Michael. He nodded at me, but that was the extent of the greeting. The younger, Jeremy, was a contrast to his father in many ways. In addition to the obvious age differences Michael was taller than anyone else in our group. He had a small beard of dark hair with hints of grey that followed his jawline and surrounded his mouth, trimmed short. His green eyes darted, full of intelligence, missing nothing but lacking warmth. His suit spoke of success and confidence, and the overall image was of a charismatic man trying to radiate the aura of a good, decent man.

Jeremy, on the other hand, had hair to spare and had it meticulously coiffed. When I shook his hand, I was struck by its softness and slight grip. He was slender yet had wide shoulders that framed him in an angular but masculine way. His face featured high cheekbonessharp enough to cut glass, a bow-like mouth and glittering eyes filled with intelligence.

We sat on a large couch and Jeremy took a seat across from Jon and me. Jon looked slightly annoyed but I was as relaxed as could be.

“So, wow!” Jeremy enthused. “When we heard you were bringing a friend we assumed...but, wow!”

I smiled widely at his energy. “Surprise!” I replied to him, feeling a bit giddy.

“Totally! How long have you two been dating?”

“Almost a month,” I replied and smiled again, like a lovestruck idiot, at Jon.

“We’ve known each other for almost a year, though,” Jon added in, clearing his throat. His hand, which had let go of mine when we’d moved to sit, now rested possessively on my thigh. Tracers of fire ran up my leg and all I could think—No! Think Geoff, think Geoff! Whew!

“Oh, wow! That sounds like a bromance that turned to romance, am I right? I’ve read about those, where a guy who thought he was straight ends up falling for his gay best friend. There is a whole sub reddit devoted to that! How did it feel, turning a straight boy?” he asked me and eyed Jon speculatively.

“I didn’t ‘turn’ him,” I said, some of my good humor evaporating. “We fell in love.”

“Is it crazy for you, Jon? You’ve always been kind of girl crazy. Remember that girl on the boardwalk?”

“Shut up, Jeremy,” Geoff said conversationally. “Jon believes he’s in love and bringing up a hookup is in poor taste. Of course, poor taste abounds here, but unless you’re trying to start something... if you are, rethink it.”

“Something wrong?” Michael asked, taking note of Geoff’s tone of voice.

“Not at all. How’s business?” Geoff asked, not so deftly turning the conversation. Huh. Points to Geoff.

Jeremy smiled at us apologetically. “I don’t mean to be trouble. Jon has always been handsome and it’s kind of a shock to see him switch sides. You understand.”

I lifted the corner of my mouth and glanced at Jon, whose mouth was already open and ready to rip into Jeremy. I quickly covered his hand with mine, pinning it to my leg. He jerked and looked down at my hand and I turned back to Jeremy.

“Jon is way more than a pretty face. I’m nothing special, but I like to think I did something no one else did.” Jeremy’s eyes opened a tad wider and his mouth opened slightly. “I noticed Jon was a wonderful person. I took the time to find that out. I also don’t think of Jon as gay or straight or bi. The only label I care about is that he loves me. Maybe that label is boyfriend. It’s kind of an exclusive thing.”

Jeremy’s eyes glittered with amusement and he grinned at me. “You may not think you’re special, but honey, what you just said is some rare shit. And, Jon? I’m sorry. Really. If you want the unvarnished, it’s that seeing a guy like you in a committed relationship with a guy gives me hope about guys I thought might be impossible. Did you think dating him would be possible?” he asked, turning to face me.

“It still isn’t. At least not for you,” Geoff interjected.

Jeremy turned his gaze and it shifted subtly, though I couldn’t guess as to the purpose. “Who are you fucking, currently?” he asked Geoff.

“No one. Something tells me that wouldn’t be very good table manners. I thought our dear uncle raised you better, Jeremy.” Geoff looked down at his phone suddenly and then frowned at Jeremy. “Funny. I’d need to drink a hell of a lot more.”

Jeremy laughed and lifted his phone from the seat beside him. A well known hook-up app was active on his screen. Geoff’s profile was open on the screen with a scantily-clad Geoff looking out. Geoff had a decent body, I admitted to myself, but it didn’t make my heart race like Jon’s did.

“Wow, Geoff,” I said. “Looks like you’re searching for a deep relationship.”

Geoff looked down toward his crotch and back toward me with a smirk. “There are other kinds of depth.”

“Do you have a profile?” Jeremy asked me.

I smiled and looked at Jon, addressing him. “No need. I have everything I want.”

A smug expression filled Jon’s features, and he looked at Jeremy in triumph. It was faintly amusing that Jon felt threatened. As much as he can aggravate me, I love Jon deeply. Jeremy giggled a little and settled into asking about school. He was attending Bard and had interests all over the spectrum. As we moved to dinner he told us stories about people at school and some parties he’d attended. He talked about guys he was interested in and Geoff occasionally butted in to make the odd comment.

“Are you seeing anyone?” I asked. “Sorry if that seems too personal. You already know all about my relationship….”

“I was,” Jeremy said and his voice dipped into disappointment. “I was working the ticket booth for a recent theater production and he was one of the lighting staff. He was kind of damaged but in a lot of ways it made me feel more compassion for him. In the end he wanted the redheaded backup singer.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said.

“Don’t be. It’s hard to compete with someone’s primal need for boobs,” he said, though his voice was still tinged with regret. Ouch, he’d been left for a woman. “Did you ever worry about that with Jon?”

Jon tensed and I sensed he was ready to fly across the table, again. Quickly I interjected. “I always worry that someone will catch his heart, sure,” I said conversationally. “As you noted, he’s good looking. Jon is deeper than he may appear to some people and, unless someone takes the time to find that out, I think he’ll stay with me.” I looked at Jon and smiled. He had a mollified expression on his face and I mentally let out a sigh of relief.

“Ugh, I’m so jealous. You guys look perfect together,” Jeremy said with a grin.

“They’re here to fuck each other, not get into a three way,” Geoff supplied, breaking the tone of civility.

“Oh? Is the orgy in your room, then?” Jeremy replied easily. “I can see you celebrating bacchinalia in your suite.”

My interest piqued I asked, “What’s that?”

Jeremy turned his gaze to me and explained, “I learned about it in the history class I took. The Romans had this festival where they basically got drunk and fucked for days. If anyone would revive that, it would be Geoff, don’t you think?”

Jeremy and I looked at Geoff while Jon shook with silent laughter next to me.

Geoff tipped his wine glass and said, “Me? Lord of drink and sex? That’s a religion I can believe in. Cheers.”

Geoff and Jeremy definitely enjoyed sparring verbally with one another and I couldn’t help but note the same correlation between Jon and me; Jon seemed to enjoy that with me, sometimes.

Once our meals arrived there should have been less talking but instead it seemed only to increase. Geoff was drinking wine by the bottle, it seemed, and Jon was eyeing his own wine glass. I sighed inwardly. I did tell him I just wanted him to be safe and not drunk. I worried he was a borderline alcoholic, but he’d already said he’d not touch the mini bar, and to be fair, Jon had curtailed his drinking a lot in the past four weeks. A glass of wine with dinner seemed perfectly reasonable, yet he wouldn’t ask since I’d been so concerned earlier.

I plucked Jon’s wine glass from in front of him and turned to Geoff. “Geoff? The waiter missed Jon’s glass; would you mind?”

Geoff eyed the glass and then his bottle, probably weighing how much less wine that left for him. He likely remembered the hotel had more than one bottle on hand and filled the glass. I turned and proffered the glass to Jon, who took it with suspicion.

“Um, what gives?”

I resumed cutting my meat. “I’m not your babysitter. I don’t get to make rules for you. All I ask is that you not get drunk. Moderation, baby.”

From the corner of my eye I saw him smile and sip from his glass.

Truth be told I was a little surprised that Jon had heeded my admonitions as much as he had. If I’d been a little less puritanical about the mini bar, he might not have gotten frustrated with me. Sometimes I wondered how he put up with me.

“God, the food here is so good. Dude, did you try one of those bacon wrapped scallops?” Jon asked, pointing at his plate.

“No, I didn’t,” I said while shaking my head. “Richard ordered so many appetizers I just didn’t have room for everything. As it is you may have to roll me back—hey!”

I was cut off as Jon speared the scallop and twirled it in front of my face, grinning, and pressed it to my lips. I felt a little silly and my face warmed up, but I opened my mouth obediently and he pushed the scallop in. The mix of flavors washed over my tongue and I widened my eyes as I chewed.

“Great, huh? They’re my favorite,” Jon told me.

“And you saved one for him? God, so romantic,” Jeremy said with a smile on his face.

“Look, Jeremy,” Geoff said, “I saved you the last—whoops!” So saying Geoff gulped the last of the wine in his glass. Geoff’s eyes had a slightly glassy look and he turned to me. “You know, if you’re going to be a true Ellesier you have to have a glass with us. Where is that waiter?”

“Jake’s not a drinker,” Jon said uncertainly. Looking at me he asked, “Would you like a glass, though? Maybe a half to go with your meal?”

I shrugged with just one shoulder. “Okay, a half glass.”

“Jeremy,” Geoff spoke again after asking the waiter to bring another bottle of wine, “You have to let go of this obsession with saving everyone. This lighting person? Be honest, how much of your interest was about him and not playing the white knight like always?”

“Well, it’s not exactly something you can quantify,” Jeremy replied and shrugged. “I felt a connection and that made it worth finding out. I don’t regret it, I know more now but seeing my cousin and his adorable boyfriend so happy, it makes me want to take risks.”

It sounded like there was something of a pattern here, or at least a history. Before I could decide whether or not I wanted to ask about it, I felt Jon tense beside me again and, of course, it was because Jeremy had complimented me. Enough was enough. “Jon? Do you know if they have a recipe book on sale? Maybe I could make these scallops for you at home. Do they have a gift shop or something?”

Jon turned his gaze to me, momentarily derailed by my question. “Uh, I don’t know. I can find out.” He stood, and with a glance at Jeremy, headed toward the lobby. I turned my focus to Jeremy.

“Listen,” I said, pitching my voice low. “I’m not sure if trying to provoke my boyfriend is a game around here or what. But calling me adorable and things like that makes him unhappy. Only he gets to say that. If you’re doing it on purpose, cut it the fuck out. If not, please be more aware.”

Jeremy leaned back in his chair, clearly not upset with my words. From the corner of my eye I caught Geoff staring at me, mouth slightly open.

“I don’t mean to upset him, truly,” Jeremy replied. “He really will need to get over that, though, because you’re attractive and anyone can see that.”

“I am not,” I snapped. “I wouldn’t like someone seeming to hit on him in front of me, either.”

“You’d prefer that to happen behind your back?” Jeremy asked and then laughed. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. In seriousness, I love what you’ve done with Jon. He’s a different person with you, more mature. I think you’re making a man of him.”

“Is that what you’re waiting for? Someone to make a man out of you?” Geoff snorted. The wine arrived and Geoff slopped my glass about three quarters full. He tilted the wine bottle toward Jeremy, who diffidently held his glass out and Geoff poured.

“Oh, I’m a man. I’m just waiting for another one to come along,” Jeremy replied to Geoff. He tilted his glass in mock salute and sipped from it. “Oh, this is very nice. Did you pick the wine, Geoff?”

“It’s tradition. We got lucky, I suppose, the first year we came. This wine was recommended and it’s excellent. Are you going to try, teetotaler?” Geoff asked me. Though he was teasing, there was no bite to this tone, just him casually being a jackass. Jon reclaimed his seat and sighed.

“There isn’t a gift shop. I could try asking the chef how it’s made, if you want.”

“Maybe we’ll just look up some recipes and experiment,” I told him. He tilted his head from side to side and smiled at me.

“Do you guys cook together?” Jeremy asked.

“Pinter,” Geoff interrupted. “We’re doing a toast.” Obviously he was getting lit. I guessed he wouldn’t be happy unless everyone around him became alcoholics. Then, he opened his mouth once more, lifting his glass. “To the future Jake Ellesier, wife of Jonathan.”

“Shut the fuck up, Geoff,” Jon snapped. Shit, after successfully managing Jon’s anger through dinner, Geoff had managed to rile him. Of course, I didn’t like being referred to as a woman, either.

I lifted my glass and tilted it toward Geoff. “Sleep on your side, Geoffrey, so you don’t choke on your own puke.” I sipped my wine while Jeremy covered his mouth and snorted loudly in laughter. I looked at Jon, whose mouth was quivering as if he wanted to laugh but was still unhappy about Geoff’s remark. I lifted my glass toward him and he picked his up. We tapped the rims and sipped, looking into one another’s eyes.

“Fuuuck,” Jeremy whined. “Jon, you are the luckiest bastard in the world.”

Jon flicked his gaze to Jeremy and back to me. “I know.”

“The dessert cart is headed this way. Is anyone interested?” Richard asked, oblivious to the goings on at our end of the table.

“Babe, don’t get the tiramisu. Yours is so much better,” Jon told me as he looked past me and, presumably, toward the cart.

“Seriously?” Jeremy asked.

“I know, right?” Geoff replied. “Just wait, they get even more annoying.”

The cart came by and we made selections. The cart only held samples; an actual dessert that was ordered would be along shortly. I turned to finish up my dinner, which had been very good, and my glass of wine so that it wouldn’t be wasted. Even if I was accepting that the Ellesier’s were treating me to this trip as their guest, Jon’s guest, It’d be rude to leave food on my plate.

“So, seriously?” Jeremy repeated. “You bake and cook? Or is Jon just making you sound too wonderful to be believed?”

I laughed and looked at Jon who appeared faintly amused. “Jon and I bonded over my baking and his self-defense. We taught each other.”

Jeremy cradled his wine glass in both hands and hunched forward, letting his eyes flick back and forth between Jon and myself. “How did you know when you’d fallen in love? What did it feel like?”

I stopped to consider. Was there a moment when a switch flipped and I knew I loved Jon? Was in love with him? It had been gradual, building trust, and a relationship but was there some light-bulb moment where it all came together for me? I was surprised, shocked really, to be pulled from my thoughts as Jon spoke.

“He kissed me and told me either we’d be boyfriends or the best of friends, but if it was to be friends, that we’d date others.” Jon’s voice was low and his face, as I looked at him, was serious.

“And you didn’t want to date anyone else?” Jeremy asked breathlessly.

“Sort of,” Jon said and looked at me. “I didn’t want him dating anyone else.”

“And you?” Jeremy prompted me. “When did you know?”

Geoff groaned and began to gulp his glass of wine, no doubt sick of the romantic talk. With a devilish amount of glee I said to Jeremy, loud enough for Geoff to hear, “I saw a dick pic of him. I just had to lock that up.”

I really shouldn’t have taken such pleasure in Geoff’s sudden coughing. Jon snorted and Jeremy laughed musically.

“I don’t buy it for a second, but you sure are an Ellesier. Bravo!”

I looked at Jon and he smiled, tilting his head forward. “See? Told you that you we’re family.”

“I’m not going to be your wife,” I said primly and he rolled his eyes.

Dessert arrived and a pot of coffee with it. It was delicious and I felt contented with the good food filling my belly and the surprisingly pleasant company of Jeremy and, of course, Jon. All in all I felt it had been a good meal.

We stood from the table a short time later and I was surprised when Geoff patted my shoulder and muttered, “Welcome to the family, you poor bastard.”

I glanced at Jon, but he hadn’t heard. I walked to Richard and thanked him for dinner. Michael raised an eyebrow at me.

“That was polite of you. I didn’t realize Jonathan had any leanings toward men. He seems to be a new man, with you. Do you take credit for that?” he asked, his tone indicating it was a rhetorical question.

“No, Mr. Ellesier,” I replied. “This person has always been there for anyone that cared to find him. It’s a pity so few have taken the time to do so, but their loss is my...boyfriend.”

I smiled and nodded to Richard, who sported a partial smile.

“Are you guys going out?” Jeremy asked, falling in beside Jon and me.

“Do you want a walk, babe?” Jon asked me.

“I think it’d be too cold. I could use a nice shower. Is there something else you wanted to do?”

“Um, we usually get together in the bar after dinner. A little nightcap. Richard buys and...well, we can skip that and go upstairs if you’re ready.”

“No,” I said and hooked my arm around Jon’s. “We should join them. Just to be sociable.”

Jon smiled brightly again and Jeremy joined us in the bar. Geoff already had a glass of wine and Richard was standing stiffly next to Michael, who seemed slightly more relaxed yet not comfortable. We sat and Richard brought over a set of decorative glasses with amber liquid inside. A snifter was passed to each person and Richard raised his glass.

“I’d like to welcome our extended family—Uncle Michael, Jeremy and Jake. Gathering here has become tradition for us Ellesier brothers and I’m glad we can share our tradition with you all this year. Good luck and good fortune,” he said and tipped the glass toward the group. One by one glasses tinkled against each other and Jon placed a hand on my arm, leaning close to whisper.

“This is cognac. Just sip it.”

I nodded gratefully. I’d probably have slugged the whole thing and been drunk or something. Experimentally I sniffed the liquid and the scent shot through me, settling somewhere near my feet. I sipped, just a taste, and a sweet, peachy burn left a smoking trail down my throat and settled warmly in my stomach. I coughed lightly.

“Wow.” I looked at Jon sipping from his glass as I savored the flavor settling in my mouth. I realized if I kissed Jon, I’d get the sweet mingle of this cognac as well as the intoxicant that was his own flavor. Geoff finished first and stayed at the table nursing his wine. It seemed odd to me to switch between the two, but then I thought Geoff a mystery anyway. He was deep in conversation with Jeremy, which was odd, too, considering their sparring at dinner.

Richard and Michael stood nearly as one and bid everyone a good night. The two men left and I continued to sip the liquor standing beside Jon. He smiled at me, the liquor relaxing him a tad.

“So, still mad at me for dragging you with me?”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “You’re a dick. Of course I want to be with you, but you could have asked me, first.”

He let his head tilt to one side and he smiled. “I know. I should have. But...you’re here now. That’s the important part.”

I looked down at the glass and turned it in my hand. “Jon? Do you think I’m attractive?”

He snorted. I lifted an eyebrow at him and he grinned and nodded at me, a little dopey. Goof.

“What do you find attractive?” I asked, leaning back in my chair and keeping my voice low. I sipped my drink as I waited for him.

“You.” His look was unreadable.

“What does that mean?” I asked. I glanced around the bar but no one was nearby, music was playing and Geoff and Jeremy were deep into some quiet, intense discussion. Turning back to Jon I sipped again and looked at him over the rim of the glass.

“It means you,” he said and shrugged.

I frowned lightly. “But, like, what? Eyes? Face? Hair? Feet?” With a deep breath and leaning in a bit, even though I’d already ascertained no one could over hear, “My ass? Chest? My...?”

Jon sipped the last of his cognac and set the glass down. He gave me a mellow smile, one with a slow heat building.

“Yes.”

My heart stopped for a moment. Did he just…? He did. He did! He leaned over to me to whisper in my ear and I leaned over to hear him. I was startled when his tongue lapped the edge of my ear. “Geoff is busy. Pretty sure he won’t be kicking any doors down.”

I glanced at his eyes, warm with the same desire I’d seen in our room earlier. I gulped the rest of the cognac, coughed and smiled. Shower or straight to bed? Maybe some of both. I didn’t really care because the bottom line was Jon had just asked me to join him. He took my hand and I walked beside him, heart hammering and erection already straining my pants as we boarded the elevator.

--Jon--

The sheer physical need was almost painful and I had to force myself to walk normally instead of dragging Jake to the elevator. The primal desire and lust I’d felt in the room before dinner had never quite left but had receded to what felt like a dull rumble in the back of my head during the meal. Now it was back in force, and I could barely think clearly.

The elevator doors closed in front of us, and I risked glancing sideways at him. He saw me looking and smiled, his hand tightening around mine. The only thing stopping me from kissing the breath out of him then and there was the possibility of someone coming in. Still, the floors ticked by and we were still alone. Jake fidgeted beside me and I’d just decided to take my chances when the elevator halted with an obnoxious ding and the doors slid open.

I don’t think I managed to completely wipe the scowl off my face, because the guy took a step back uncertainly. He and the woman he was with were both dressed up for a night on the town. “Uh, going down?” he asked. With my head where it was, I couldn’t miss the unintentional innuendo. Normally it would have been funny, but now it just reminded me what I was delaying by talking to this idiot.

“Up,” I replied curtly. He nodded and the doors seemed to take forever to close again. Jake reached out and pressed the button with what looked like a lot more force than needed, and I couldn’t help smiling.

“I think you scared them a little,” he chuckled.

“Good,” I growled. The elevator chimed again - for some reason sounding way less obnoxious now that we were on our floor. “Finally,” I muttered, striding into the hall, Jake keeping pace with me, both of us going as fast as we could without breaking into a full-on run to our room. We both fumbled with our key cards, each thinking we could get the door opened quicker and instead just got in each other’s way before we finally spilled into the room.

The instant the door clicked behind us, Jake threw his arms around my neck and kissed me hard. I returned it and slammed him against the wall, one hand running through his hair, the other wrapped around his waist, already furiously untucking his shirt. I broke away from his lips and worked my way down his jaw line to his neck.

The answering moan almost made me rip open his shirt again, but I managed to stick to just unbuttoning it while he yanked mine from my waistband. “Too...many...damned clothes,” he growled.

“Tell me about it,” I muttered, pushing his arms away so I could slide his shirt off his shoulders before pinning him to the wall one more time. I paused for a split second, looking down at him; his eyes were wide with excitement, his chest expanding in and out with his heavy breathing. I could already see a slight sheen of sweat on his skin and bent to lick it off before gently biting at his nipple as he’d done earlier. His hands slid under my shirt and ran up the small of my back for a moment, and before I could start undoing his pants, I felt his hands come around and push against my stomach, shoving me away. I stumbled back and looked up to see him grinning widely.

“I can’t take it anymore,” he said, strode forward and almost tackled me to the couch. Straddling my hips, frowning the way he did when concentrating hard, he efficiently unbuttoned my shirt before diving in for a hungry kiss. I leaned into it, feeling my shirt slide down my arms to the couch before freeing my hands to wrap around his back.

We came up for air and I considered flipping him onto his back right there, but decided that wouldn’t work. Jake’s first time, our first time, had to be done right. I’m not the type to stress out over candles and mood lighting and all that, but this still deserved more than a chaotic romp on the couch.

There was also the fact that I...wasn’t completely sure how far I was ready to go. The feeling was completely alien to me since I’d never been uncertain about sex before. But here, the roles weren’t clear like they had been with girls in terms of who did what. I’d always imagined myself as the top when Jake and I finally went all the way but which was Jake? Was he a top too? A bottom? Both? I literally had no idea. Somehow, this didn’t seem like the right time to have that conversation, and it didn’t feel right to expect him to do something I knew I wasn’t ready to do myself.

So we’d go slow. Or at least as slow as you can while still taking off all your clothes. But couch sex could wait.

He gave a contented smile and I returned it, giving him a quick peck on the lips. “Come on. Let’s go to bed.”

He frowned. “Don’t you want to shower first?”

No, I didn’t want to bloody shower first. I could see where he was coming from, but I’d waited long enough, thank you. Aloud, I said, “We're probably going to after anyways,” giving him a cheeky grin.

He laughed. “Fair enough.”

I wished I could pick him up and carry him to the bed like this - I might have been able to but waddling through the room smacking into furniture seemed like a sure fire way to ruin the mood. Instead, I reached down and patted his butt. He got the message, stood up and took my outstretched hand. I led the way toward the bed with my heart hammering.

The time had arrived. I was actually going to bed with a guy. Jake. My nerves buzzed and I was filled with anticipation. Even my worries about what would go where faded as I turned toward him and he, somewhat unfairly, pushed me back where I landed a little ungracefully on the bed.

“Hey!” I complained.

Jake looked down at me and my anticipation soared. His look was hungry, no doubt, but in a way I couldn’t define - no one had ever looked at me the way he did. Whatever it was, it made my blood pressure go up. He reached out and pulled on my toes, which momentarily confused me, but then my socks slipped free and then he was pulling on the cuffs of my pants.

“Hey,” I said again. He glanced up and I flicked my gaze down to my belt and then back at him. Normally I would have yanked my pants off long before, but I wanted everything about this to be different - in other words, not all about me. Jake crawled up the bed and, with fingers shaking, tugged at my belt. He was nervous.

I reached my hands out, not completely steady, and pulled on his belt. There was a lot of fumbling, more than I’d done since my first time, and we awkwardly pushed each other’s pants off. It was sort of comical and we actually started to giggle a little as we struggled. We wrestled around slightly and when I flipped him around the look on his face took my breath away. Lust? Some. Excitement, nervousness? Plenty. Fear...maybe. And love, man. So much. He sees me like no one else does. Maybe he sees me the way no one else can.

I dove for his face and our passions escalated. Our hands moved with purpose, mine most of all. I sat up and looked down at him with his new, form fitting underwear and then they were gone. I moved backward as I pulled them down and, once removed, I pulled his socks off to get the last thread off of him.

God damn!

Some things about that night stand out more for me than others. The only comparison that comes close is that I can still remember most of my first time ever having sex with a person just because it was first. This was so much more. My memory is seared. Outside of a locker room or porn, I’d never seen another guy naked, and none could compare to Jake. Where I’d normally see boobs there were firm pecs and a soft, flat stomach followed by a decidedly non-feminine and straining dick. For a moment I recalled his asking me about different parts of him and which attracted me. No, if I found him attractive. Raking his form as I stroked the tops of his bare feet and moved my way up, I mentally ticked the boxes of my attractions. Feet? Oddly, yes. Legs? Assuredly. Abs, chest, nipples? All present and causing desire. His face, those eyes, the lips that...yes. Hell, yes. I was also checking a large yes next to his dick. In my mind I’d been almost shy about whether or not I wanted to see his, and now that I had, I wanted to see more of it.

Physically, everything felt different from my hands stroking his skin, especially his legs which had curly blond hairs where with previous partners there had been shaved smooth skin. When I lay atop him, when we ground into each other, I felt his hard erection pressed firmly against me, skin hot and slick against my stomach. He pushed up against me, very male and it was very, very right.

After that there are just flashes in my memory; recollections of tiny, breathtaking moments. The way it felt when he put his hand on my dick the first time. The way it felt when I put my hand on his - the only one I’d touched besides my own. The way he looked at me, the emotional swirl in his eyes before he went down on me. The way it felt, physically and emotionally, to go down on him. Better than any sex I'd ever had, bar none.

Ecstasy.

Some unknown time later, we lay under the covers, pleasantly tired and staring at the ceiling. Jake shifted his head to my shoulder and turned sideways.

“That was amazing,” he stated simply. I could feel his jaw move against my skin as he spoke.

I smiled as I bit back a cheeky response. “Was it worth the wait?” I asked instead. Jake craned his neck to look up at me.

“Absolutely,” he replied with feeling. I sat up a little bit, dislodging him when I rolled over for a kiss, pinning him under me.

That went on for a few minutes before I flopped on my back again with a sigh. I wasn’t ready for round two just yet. What would we do? The same thing? More? Having crossed this first line though, I felt a little more confident, enough to ask a few questions at least. The strange thing was that I... didn’t feel strange. I’d just hooked up with a guy - a pretty solid divergence from my sex life so far - but what I’d done with Jake just felt natural. I could go further, maybe. Whatever he said, we’d figure it out. I opened my mouth, not sure how to ask-

“Jon?” Jake asked, beating me to it.

“Yeah?” I turned my head slightly.

“I wanted to ask… I mean, it’s kind of personal.” Maybe he was going to bring it up first. Probably easier for me that way, actually. This would bring up the issue of what I’d say but at least I didn’t have to ask.

“Shoot.”

“Well, maybe personal is a bad...ugh. I just am wondering...you seem...okay?”

Okay, that was...odd. “I’d say pretty great,” I answered with a smile, going for the joke response.

He flopped away from me and onto his back. “Argh! You’re going to make me say it. This is the Geoff in you.”

“No, I’m going to make you say it because I’m not a mind reader. Dude, I was just kidding around. What’s up?”

He sighed and rolled his head toward me. “Jonathan. You’re not that dense, not even close. We just...you know. I know I’m totally, um, happy. But then the idea of us having sex never, you know, bothered me.” He paused. “I’m just wondering, I guess, if it was good for you?”

I propped myself up on my arms. “Jake,” I said firmly, “it was awesome.” He didn’t say anything, just kept looking at me, sheets curled around him, blue eyes fixed on me. Here he was, doubting himself again. It killed me that I couldn’t take that away and show him once and for all that he was good enough. I almost sighed but caught myself just in time, knowing he’d misinterpret that. See? I can learn.

Turning on my side, I reached out to his shoulder. “Not just that but...it felt right. I definitely want to do it again, if that’s what you’re wondering. Probably in the next few minutes, if you’re down.”

He blinked once and then smiled widely. “I’m ready whenever you are,” he said and chuckled. “This…” he waved his hand around aimlessly, “is fantastic. I feel like I’m in the middle of a dream or something.” And he was afraid he would wake up; I could sense that. Jake seemed to think he didn’t deserve good things in his life - that they would all turn out to be fake or temporary. Showing him he was wrong would take a while.

He looked at me, eyes moving slightly as he took me in. For my part I let my eyes roam also. It was a new experience considering my other hook-ups usually ended with me leaving as soon as the condom hit the garbage can. But now, I was content to just look at him. I was pulled from my study by his low chuckling.

“What’s so funny?” I asked, noting he wasn’t looking at me. He wiped his eye and looked at me with a smile.

“I was just thinking - don’t ask me why this thought popped into my head - but when we had that big argument after you threatened Trace?”

“One, it was a discussion,” I corrected, holding up a finger. “And two...that was also a discussion.”

“Whatever. There I was breaking everything down in my head, wondering if it would be possible that you could ever be interested in me and you, who are famous for trying to change the subject-”

“Ready for round two?” I pulled him closer and he scooted over willingly and laughed.

“I rest my case!”

“Yeah? So now that you know how interested I am in you, what were you saying?”

“Just...nah, nevermind.”

“Goddammit. Now I have to know what you’re going to say.”

“Don’t worry about it.” He leaned in for a kiss, and I almost let him get away with it. Almost.

“Uh, no. You get to the change the subject but I don’t?” I dug my fingers into his ribs, the tickling threat clear.

“Ah! Okay! Just you threw out some story about a mental hospital to try and throw me off your scent! No tickling!”

Oh. That. I was about to tell him we’d talk about it later before realizing that would just be what he was expecting. Sure, he might let it go but I don’t always like playing into people’s expectations. I rolled away onto my back once more. I could really use a drink right now.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t asking about anything, Jon. It was just a stupid thing I remembered.” His voice was tremulous, as if he were afraid.

“No, it’s fine. It’s something we need to talk about. Just, let me get my thoughts together, okay?”

“Really, Jon. I don’t want to ruin things. Tonight is...it’s perfect. How about we promise to talk about it tomorrow?”

“Jake, I brought it up. This is on me, and this is as good a time as any.” I turned to look at him. He was watching me carefully, his expression a mix of concern, regret and uncertainty. I took a deep breath.

“After my parents died, I…” I closed my eyes. “I didn’t cope very well.”

“Stop.” He slid over, the sheets making a soft susurrus as he snuggled close to me. “You don’t have to say anything.”

“You’re going to have to find out sooner or later,” I insisted, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Part of me wanted to accept his offer, but now that I’d started I needed to finish it.

“Actually, no, I don’t. I don’t like seeing you hurting.” He squeezed me slightly. “I love you, Jon. You don’t have to say anything you don’t want to.”

“Jake.” Something in my voice stopped him. “Please.” I needed to say the words to someone. I needed to tell this story to someone who would listen without any preconceptions or judgments. Who wouldn’t tell me what to feel or what to think.

“My mom shot my dad. Then herself.” I felt his intake of breath against my chest. “Richard found them. Geoff was there too. I was out of the house that day. I came back and the place was crawling with police cars and they were loading up the ambulance…” The sirens and the flashing blue and red lights still played in my head whenever I thought back to that day - I don’t think they ever really stopped.

“I don’t know why she did it. Not really. Richard claims they were always on a hair trigger but that’s not totally it. They loved each other.” I paused, considering how much further to go or skip ahead. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. “Dad - he was kind of tough on Geoff. He...I think he hurt him. I think that night he went too far and Mom tried to stop him and…” My voice seemed to dry up and the ceiling began to blur.

“Shh, shh, baby. It’s okay,” Jake said softly and pulled me closer. “I’m right here and you’re safe. You’re okay, Jon.”

“That’s just it though.” I could feel the tears on my cheek but I wasn’t exactly crying. “I thought I was safe and I think I was but… I didn’t see it. I didn’t want to see what he did to Geoff and I didn’t see how...how they were. My parents, I mean. I always thought that there must have been signs I missed or something.”

Jake’s hand moved slowly across my skin. “How were you supposed to know? Look at my mom. She got away with drugging me for years. It’s common enough that people don’t think too much of a kid on meds, and who really wonders if a parent is...rough on their kid? I don’t even know that I’d know what to look for.

“If you really think that might have been possible, then being there for your brother is the best thing you can do. I know because I have people there for me now and...I rely on that.”

“No one tells me anything though!” I felt like I was whining but I couldn’t help it. “It’s like fucking pulling teeth to get anything out of Richard - and Geoff...it’s more trying to figure it out through what he doesn’t say. They’re both cryptic assholes.”

He sighed, his breath moving across my skin. “Well, think for a second. I think that if my mom had been beating me I probably wouldn’t be in a rush to talk about it. As it is, it’s no fun to tell anyone what she did to me, neglecting me for so long. And I went along with it.” Not for the first time, I felt a rush of anger at that woman. If I ever met her I would have a few things to say. He shook himself and continued. “Maybe they know something more and maybe it’s not so easy for them to talk about, either. I guess, one day, you have a right to know, though. After all, they were your parents, too.”

I sighed. “And that brings us to how I ended up in the loony bin.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Jake chided me with a nudge. I shrugged.

“It’s the truth. I went off the rails. My parents, it’s like I missed them and hated them at the same time. I was so angry at them for leaving me. I wanted to know why. And I was scared. I knew I was closest to my parents, even then, and I was always, well, proud, I guess, to be their son. I wanted to be just like them.” Saying that now left a foul taste in my mouth along with a dull ache. I missed that pride; it had been replaced with disappointment. “After that, I started to worry I could end up like my dad or my mom. Guess I was so worried about going crazy that it drove me crazy.” I smiled weakly at the dark humor and glanced at Jake. He wasn’t amused.

“It...got kind of bad. Finally, Richard decided I needed professional help.” I sighed. “I was so angry at them for the longest time after that. It felt like they had given up on me, you know? Decided I was a lost cause and locked me up. It took me a while to get over that.”

“Did they try? Like, how long before they decided you needed the extra help?”

“Um. A while. Maybe like two years?”

“My dad had me see a therapist, too. She told me something that I think you should hear. She said that when people don’t care about their kids or other loved ones, then they don’t get them help or therapy. You know I don’t always agree with your brothers,” he said and I snorted. “I’m always on your side. Here, though, I think they tried to do the right thing. And, Jonathan...that doesn’t make you crazy. You were grief stricken. You needed support and they didn’t know how to give that to you so they put it in more capable hands.

“Could they have done better? No doubt. But...maybe it was what they were capable of since they must have been dealing with pretty complex emotions if your suspicions are correct.”

“I know they love me. I forgave them some time ago and know why they did it.”

“But it still bothers you?”

“It’s not exactly something I’m proud of. I was so broken that my family needed to put me away for a bit? That’s not exactly an ego boost.”

“Actually, you mean because you were human and not to mention, just a kid? Jon, sweetie, you’re being too hard on yourself. I know, I know,” he said and held a hand up. “You’re amazing, make other men jealous for miles around, but you know what? Every once in a while it’s okay to just be human. In fact I like it a lot when you’re not trying to be someone else.” I couldn’t help but smile at that.

“Well, that’s good, cause I don’t know any other way to be.” A frightening thought hit me with a chill. “Jake,” I said, meeting his eyes, realizing what I had to tell him and knowing he wouldn’t listen. “What if, I know that I’m my own person and all that, but, I mean, they helped me figure it out in...in there, but I’m still their son. If I start getting...I don’t even know, but if I ever start to lose it, I want you to run. Don’t try and save me, don’t try and stick it out. Run.”

My parents had loved each other, possibly more than their own children, like my brothers, and sometimes I, believed. I couldn’t bear the thought of Jake ending up like my mom. Sometimes love can get you killed.

“Jon. I’m still my mother’s son. Whatever happened with them...that’s not contagious. Besides that, we’re family and I’m not leaving you alone. Not ever. I won’t run from you.” He paused and I opened my mouth to protest but he spoke right over me. “No. If ever you need help again, I’m going to get it for you. I’ll move mountains to make you whole again. You don’t get a vote this time.

“I won’t give you up. Not without a fight.”

I smiled. “Not like I can stop you.” We kissed. And then I did my damndest to leave that crap behind me and focus everything on Jake. Why did I let him cover himself with that damn sheet?

~Jake~

“I’ll be back, then we can go out,” Jon said and then the door to our room closed.

I stretched languorously on the sheets, enjoying the feel of the material against my skin. It was rare enough for me to be nude, let alone on top of the covers, yet I felt no shred of the self-consciousness that had plagued me before last night. I rolled over and pressed my face to the space Jon had lain in and breathed in his scent. Satisfied. Contented. Gratified. Fulfilled. All of them were true, yet none fully covered the serenity I floated in.

Although Jon had left, walked to Geoff’s room because Geoff had demanded it, I didn’t miss him. Rather I was filled to the brim with delighted anticipation for his return. I’d hold off on a shower until then, I decided, in the hope that he’d join me. It needn't be sexual, though his naked body would tend to make that a foregone conclusion. More than that it would be another memory, another fortification against the idea of going home, back to our lives. Separate lives in separate homes and separate beds.

With one last inhalation I rolled from the bed and padded into the bathroom to relieve myself. With Jon gone to tend to his brother I decided now would be a good time to call my dad and wish him a happy Thanksgiving and to call Derek and let him know that my questions had been answered and my body and mind were sated. Beyond sated. My body couldn’t contain it; my love and confidence overflowed.

I went to my suitcase first and pulled out a pair of sweatpants and pulled them on. Somehow it felt wrong to speak to my father casually while walking around starkers. I would say that walking around like that would let Jon know, upon his return, that I was available and willing but why restate what he knows so well at this point?

“Hi, Dad. Happy Thanksgiving.”

“Hi, Jake. Thank you, and you too. How’s the hotel?”

“A little over the top, but our room is great. Very elegant and we have an ocean view. I’m really glad I came,” I told him as I started rummaging in my bag for my bathing suit and a shirt. Stupid things were crammed in there somewhere.

“That’s great, son. Is Jon being a gentleman?”

“In every way, Dad,” I said with a chuckle. “His family was fun, for the most part. I liked his cousin, Jeremy. He was a little stereotypical in the way he talked, but the enthusiasm was sort of cool.”

“Stereotypical how?”

“Oh! He’s gay. His father is Jon’s uncle. I understand he was adopted.” We made a bit of small talk and then hung up with an exchange of I love you’s and promises to call.

I slipped off the sweats and pulled on the bathing suit and then my tee shirt. I crossed the room, mesmerised by the drops of molten gold as they bounced off the water. The water stretched out and it was easy to think the world was covered in water. From inside, warmed by the sun, I needed very little imagination to think it was summer outside. The water looked incredibly inviting. Of course, standing there brought me back to earlier that morning and the first time I’d looked from the window.

I’d woken with a bladder aching for release. Beside me, Jon slept on his back, lips slightly parted. I’d woken up next to him before, of course, but beneath the covers I knew he was as bare as I and that, friends and neighbors, was a wonderful new development. I'd slipped from the bed and crept quietly into the bathroom so as not to disturb his sleep. It was still early and I was looking forward to going back to sleep curled up next to his warm, naked body.

Once I’d relieved my bladder, however, I was distracted by the ocean view from our window. Rather than climbing back into bed, I'd crossed the room, my bare feet a mere whisper on the carpet, and I stood before the window without any shame that my bare body was exposed to the world. Rather, my eyes moved constantly as I soaked in the majestic beauty of the ocean as it rolled toward the floating walkways at the back of the hotel. Birds wheeled in the air and the water sparkled like the Fourth of July, reflecting light back at me in a breathtaking display.

The hotel had not impressed me. The dining room, the lobby, the bar - none of them had invited me nor made me feel welcome. The ocean, though...the natural beauty on display, brought to me by my wonderful boyfriend, now that was staggering. I stared out in fascination, trying and failing to drink in the entire tableau at once.

“Do you like it?”

I looked over my shoulder at Jon, who stretched and gave me a lazy, satisfied smile. He knew I liked the view, but he also liked that I told him so. Who am I to deny him anything?

“It’s gorgeous, Jon. I’m just trying to drink it all in,” I told him with a smile. I returned my attention to the window and the glittering ocean beyond it. I heard Jon get out of bed and head into the bathroom. The room was so still that, moments later, I heard his bare feet pad across the carpet. Pleasure radiated from me as his fingers traced around my hips before meeting on my abdomen; they laced together there. I leaned back into him, savoring the feel of his skin pressed to my own. Sensual it certainly was, though not yet sexual. Instead, my brain was busy to the point of overload as it tried to catalogue each fantastic point of contact with my boyfriend while my eyes fed on the wonder before me.

I turned in his arms and hugged him, resting my cheek on his chest. “Thank you, Jon.”

He twitched in my arms, perhaps in surprise. His only response was to kiss my hair and let a hand wander along my spine. Of course it did turn sexual then and moments later we were back in bed and slowly cataloging each other’s bodies. Afterward I’d lain on top of the covers with him, tracing lines on his skin and drowning in the image of the sun kissing his flesh—all of it. He reminded me of a painting by an old master, one where the light made the skin glow, except that this was more erotic than any painting I’d ever seen.

It was not just the nudity, which did play a definite role. I cannot discount watching as his cock twitched and went from semi-hard to hard and back in response to my feather light exploration of his body. Being pressed to his side, not speaking was soporific. Perhaps opiates originated with the chemicals in the brain that were released when lovers lay close together, partaking of the object of their affections.

Of course Geoff had called and, even though the phone wasn’t pressed to my ear, the demanding urgency of his tone was plain. Jon had hung up and sighed.

“I have to go to Geoff’s room for a few minutes.”

“Okay,” I replied while tracing up the muscle of his thigh. “Do you think you’ll be long?”

“With Geoff it’s hard to say,” he replied with a chuckle. My fingertips passed the front of his hip and he shivered and grabbed my hand as the light trace over his abs was ticklish to him. He sighed as he looked at me and then climbed from the bed and, regretfully, pulled clothes on so that he’d be decent in the hallways.

I’d seen so many sides of Jon in the past twenty-four hours. Playful as he clowned around when we got out of the car; prickly when he thought Jeremy was challenging him at dinner. I wasn't sure what to call it when he went off to find out about that cookbook for me; he had to know it was a diversion. I can’t leave out the smoldering looks as we finally went to bed together and how he didn’t hesitate whether it was kissing me, undressing me or blowing me.

Then there was his fragile side, which I think was larger than I ever suspected. The things he worried about, the heavy emotions he still dealt with about his parents and how things played out afterward. It may not be fair to think this, but Richard should have sought help for Jon right away, not waited for him to completely break down. I can see waiting a few months - after all he was grieving, too - but two years? That was incompetence on a level I’d not have associated with Richard. It hurt to think of Jon slowly crumbling over that time and not getting the support he needed.

I couldn’t say that to Jon, though. Richard was his brother, and if I were critical of him I’m sure Jon wouldn’t like it. Still, a lingering feeling of resentment toward Richard and Geoff for that failure lurked just beneath the surface of my rational explanations to Jon the night before. Then, of course, he tried to be noble and selfless in telling me if he started to head down that road to depression that I should simply abandon him. As if!

No, Jon. We made a deal. Even if we don’t date, we’re family. I’m not leaving you to face anything alone, not ever. It’s hard for me to imagine someone gaining the amount of trust I have in Jon. While I trusted Derek and Hamster, and to a degree the other guys in so much as asking their opinions, it wasn’t the same. I liked Derek, I liked hanging out with him, but he didn’t pull on pieces of my soul when I saw him. When I saw Jon, unless I wanted to kill him, a part of me leapt with joy, and that only grew stronger when he smiled at me and grew affectionate.

I sighed and smiled to myself. I was on top of the world, and, so thinking, I called Derek. I enjoyed the fact that Derek had become my confidant. I trusted him without a doubt, and he seemed to take joy in helping me with my relationship. His boyfriend, Hamster, was completely amicable and perfectly amenable to loaning me his boyfriend or even his own ear depending on what my goal or need was. I wanted to try and do something nice for them in gratitude because even though some of what they’d said hadn’t applied, the distraction and sounding board they provided were worth their weight in gold.

The phone rang twice before I got him. “Hey, Jake. Happy Thanksgiving!” Derek said in greeting.

“Hi, Derek, same to you,” I replied, already grinning.

“Okay, the required crap is out of the way. Gimme the dirt!” he said and then laughed. He sounded so excited, I laughed along with him.

“Oh man, Derek. I don’t want to come home,” I told him. “I want to stay in this room forever with Jon and just order room service.”

Derek cleared his throat. “Must be quite a room.”

We both chuckled, and I walked over to the window. “He’s really wonderful. I told him how I’d never seen the ocean and he made sure we had a room with an ocean view, just for me.”

“Damn, Jon’s got some skills!” Derek replied.

“Apparently his brother, Geoff, was supposed to get the room with the view, but Jon must have fixed it for me. Let me tell you, the view is epic. I think I want to live next to the ocean whenever I decide to let time start moving forward again.” I placed my hand on the glass and leaned forward, entranced again by the sparkling water.

“So do I have to ask about dinner and his family, or can I just ask if the underwear did their job?” He sounded giddy as he asked, excited for me and pleased as my confidant.

“The underwear was a flop,” I admitted. “But I think you’ll be interested to know why.”

“Interested? Uh, yeah. What happened?”

“Oh, man, Derek,” I said dreamily, my smile nearly splitting my face. “We were downstairs in the bar—”

“What?!”

“Richard bought a celebratory nightcap, relax,” I said with a chuckle. “Jon was sober as a...a...he was sober. Anyway, you know how I was worried about if he was actually attracted to me or not, of course.”

“Of course.”

“Well, I asked him if he was attracted to me.”

“Wait, you mean just straight out asked? What did he say?”

“Well,” I said, dragging the word out. “He just said yes, but I wanted him to be more specific. So I asked him what he was attracted to and gave him a few examples like hair, face, chest—you know?”

“Yeah, and? What did he say?” Derek asked excitedly.

I smiled widely again. “He said yes.”

“He...oh, wow. That’s fucking slick! He just said yes? Damn.” Derek paused. “So did you guys get it on then?”

I started wandering around the room, filled with a jittery, nervous energy as I spoke, sitting on the bed and then standing restlessly. “We did. Holy shit, we did,” I told him.

“Yes! Was it what you hoped for?”

I sighed into the phone. “Man, Derek. The first time was so hot and—did I tell you he ripped my shirt off? I mean, buttons will be found in this room for years!”

“He—whoa, back up! What’s with the clothes ripping?” Derek demanded.

“Yup!” I said with a note of satisfaction. “It was before we went down for dinner. He was getting changed and he said something monumentally romantic, as he does.”

“As he does,” Derek echoed.

“And next thing you know he ripped my shirt open and we were getting into it before his brother kind of cut us off by kicking and banging on the door and telling Jon, and everyone on the seventh floor, to fuck me later. That guy,” I muttered.

“Clearly, though, this shirt ripping set the tone, right?” he asked eagerly.

“Totally,” I agreed. “When we came back up to the room I already knew we were headed to bed. I had no problem going right after him and—hey, I just thought of something. What was up with the pineapple thing you and Hamster told me about?”

“Well, tell me if you spit or swallowed and I’ll tell you,” he said with a laugh.

“Uh. Well, there was a lot but, overall I’d say...swallowed?” My face was flushing with remembered excitement.

He laughed again. “Pineapple makes the cum taste sweet. If you want to, and a lot of guys like it when their man swallows, it makes it better. Of course, guys also like blowing their load on someone’s face, or like in porn, it can be on their back or whatever.”

“Huh,” I said thoughtfully. I’m not sure about the face. What if I got that in my eye?

“So was Jon good with it all? He didn’t weird out?”

I turned in place. “He started in the elevator on the way up to the room.”

“Jon was...starting? What does that even mean?” he replied with a laugh.

“I was so nervous and excited but Jon was really clear. He wanted it. Wanted me. I did, you know, ask after we did it. You know, if he liked sex...with me.” I sat down and then popped to my feet again, unable to hold still.

“And I’m guessing he said yes again?” he asked in a teasing tone.

“He said it was awesome. Then he really opened up to me. Derek it was...just beautiful. Then, after talking...we didn’t talk for a while.”

“I can hear you smiling!” he said in a teasing tone and laughed again.

“As far as I could tell, he was totally committed to it last night and this morning.” I nodded though he couldn’t see.

“Whoa, this morning? Making up for lost time, Thayer?” He teased.

I sighed a happy sigh into the phone. “Derek, he was so wonderful. All those questions I had about whether a guy could turn him on, if I could turn him on, were answered so emphatically that it seems stupid for me to have wondered. Plus, knowing that I didn’t need special clothes or jewelry or something to make him want me...I mean, he is attracted and turned on by me, Derek. Just who I am sets him off; how fucking lucky can I be?”

“That’s fantastic,” he replied warmly. “I’m so glad for you, you don’t even know. Does Jon seem different this morning?”

I thought for a moment. “Well, he seems comfortable, actually. I don’t know if he’d been nervous, before, but….”

“He exceeded your expectations?”

“Exceeded? Shattered. Destroyed. Obliterated. I need a fucking thesaurus!” I said with a laugh. “And you know what? Having done it once, I’m so unstressed. Like, I know we’re going to fuck at some point but I don’t even care when, now. It’ll happen. I’m just so...goddamn. I’m so in love, Derek. I didn’t think I could love him more than I already did, but...after all the disappointments I’ve had with people—at school, my mom, even the doctors that let her drug me up...it’s so hard for me to trust.

“So to stand here and tell you my heart is safe with him and that I’ll guard his like a lion, it's almost hard to accept. But that’s what I feel in my heart and what I know in my head. Jon’s mine. He’s really, really mine.”

“I’m so happy for you,” Derek said and sighed contentedly. “But tell me. If the underwear didn’t help, what about the socks? Were we right about the feet?”

“Hmm. I’m not sure the underwear didn’t help at all,” I mused. “After all, if it’s just me that turns him on then seeing more of me is a help, right?”

“Yeah, I see the logic. I hope so because you looked good in those new pairs,” Derek said. “But the socks. Did he even touch your feet? Say anything about them?”

“Well, yes,” I said with a little laugh. “When you sixty-nine there are only so many things you can reach and I can report he spent some time there.”

“Hah!” Derek said in victory. “Well, I’m glad we might have gotten some of him right. I hope he opens up to some of us so we can get to know him. What he does with you, how he is around you isn’t what anyone else sees. Do you think he doesn’t like the guys?”

“Oh, no, he’s got nothing against any of the guys. I mean, he does call them the rainbow brigade but he says it affectionately, I guess. At first I think he thought someone would try and steal me from him, but he’s all good, now.”

“Well, I hope we get to know him. How did things go with his family?”

I sat down in one of the upholstered chairs and pulled my legs up before wrapping my arm around my knees. “Surprisingly well. Richard already seemed to be inclined to like me; Geoff was my biggest worry. But, oddly, he told me ‘welcome to the family, you poor bastard.’ Not exactly a warm welcome but, hey.”

Derek laughed. “What about the other family you were meeting?”

“The uncle was okay, didn’t say a whole lot to me. The cousin was mostly nice, I liked him. Oh!” I said sitting up straight. “I almost forgot! So we were in the bar and Richard made a toast, right? He called me their extended family. I mean, he included me. So, yeah, I think I did okay.”

“Well, yeah. The in-laws like you and you got laid. So, um, was the real thing better than the picture?” he asked with a cough.

“Fuck. Yes,” I said in a deep voice and started laughing. “And I’ll tell you what else. I may have been a virgin last night but I gave that bad boy a workout like a pro!”

“A pro? He paid you?” Derek said teasingly and laughed. “Damn. Sounds like a magical weekend for you.”

“It totally is. Being in the room makes me feel like we’re kind of shielded from the rest of the world. Whenever it’s just Jon and I, he’s just...wonderful. I know how sappy I sound and like I’m totally dicked-down, but I’ve never been so happy in my life.”

“That’s totally fantastic, Jake. What do you have planned for today?”

“Funny you should ask,” I said with a smile. “Jon’s going to take me for a quick splash in the ocean.”

“What? Is he nuts? The water will be freezing!”

“I know, but I want to get into the ocean so...I’ll tell him I want to, he’ll jerk me around a little and then we’ll go.” I shrugged though he couldn’t see it. “Jon will do it pretty much because I asked him to.”

Behind me the door opened and I turned, smiling widely at Jon as he entered the room.

“Filing your brigade report?” Jon asked with a crooked smile.

“Yes, Jon, I’m calling in to brag about you,” I said and stuck my tongue out at him.

“Well,” Derek said, “Enjoy your swim and say hi to Jon for me. Wish him a happy turkey day from us.”

“I will, bye Derek,” I said and hung up. “Derek asked me to wish you a happy Thanksgiving and to say hi.”

Jon kicked his sneakers off. “Cool. You look like you’re ready for a quick swim and some hot tub time. Shall I grab my suit?”

“Please,” I said with a nod. “And the hot tub! I’d forgotten about that! It’ll feel so good after we climb out of the ocean. Shall I grab towels for us or will they have them downstairs do you think?”

Jon paused with his shirt dangling in his hand. “Wait, say what? Ocean? Are you insane? It’s frigid!”

“Please, Jon?” I whined. “Just for a minute. I’ve never been to the ocean, I told you that.”

“But, babe!” he said and let out a shuddering laugh. He took a few steps to stand in front of me and placed his hands on my shoulders. “I promised we’d come in the summer. We can swim in the ocean every day if you want.”

I looked at him steadily and thought begging thoughts. His lower lip quivered. I leaned forward and kissed his chest between his pecs and then hugged him with my face pressed to his chest.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” he said with a sigh.

“Yes!” I squealed and hugged him harder, picking him up off his feet.

“Whoa! Put me down!” he said with a laugh. I giggled and set him on his feet before pulling him down for a quick kiss.

“Get changed. No, wait!” I turned and ran to an upholstered chair and sat down facing him. “Okay, now get changed.”

He tilted his head down and to one side and kicked his hip out. “Seriously? You got changed before I got here so what do I get out of this?”

I smiled widely. “Besides a happy boyfriend? You get a grateful boyfriend that will soap your back for you in the shower after the hot tub.”

He lifted an eyebrow. “Just my back?”

I let my tongue slip from my mouth and push up on my upper lip. “For starters.”

Ten minutes later we were down on one of the floating docks. They were all deserted, of course. We toed off our sneakers and pulled off our shirts. Jon had a wild look in his eye and a grin on his face as we both shivered in the cold wind.

“This is crazy. You sure about this?”

I had a millisecond of doubt but then thought, I will never forget this. So in reply I pulled myself tightly against him, pulled him down into a kiss and then overbalanced us so we plunged in together. Holy. Shit. Cold doesn’t cover it. Frigid? Frozen? Antarctic? In mere moments we were scrambling up onto the dock, teeth chattering and speed walking with our shirts and shoes in our arms. Jon started to laugh and tell me how he'd told me so, and I laughed with him while licking the salty ocean water from my lips.

We must have looked a sight as we crossed the lobby making wet slapping noises with our feet and dripping as we went to boot. We were giggling and shivering as we crossed into the pool area and quickly slid into the hot tub.

Jon burst out laughing. “You are insane! Are you trying to kill me?”

I grinned at him and slid over beside him. “I jumped into the ocean for the first time while kissing my boyfriend. Do you think you’ll ever forget that?”

“Jake,” he said while squinting his eyes. “Do you have any idea how much shrinkage I’m dealing with right now? As my boyfriend, you need to protect my package.”

“Yes, sir!” I said with a smirk. Of course he’d not just say ‘Yeah, I’ll never forget it’. Jon is only romantic under certain circumstances and, frankly, he’d done pretty damn well that weekend as far as I was concerned.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into that,” he muttered with a small smile on his face.

“Hey, did you notice Richard included me as part of your extended family last night?” I asked him.

“Yeah. I told you that you were family,” Jon said with a nod.

“But did you know Geoff did, too?” I asked and he looked at me with his eyes widening. “Ah, so you didn’t! Oh ho! Yeah, I felt all kinds of confident after that!”

“Why?” he asked with a laugh bubbling up. “What did he say?”

I lowered my voice in a bad imitation of Geoff and added a snooty accent. “‘Welcome to the family, you poor bastard.’”

Jon threw his head back and laughed, and I giggled next to him.

“Well, that’s Geoff. I guess you’re screwed now. Shall we just call you Jake Ellesier from now on?” Jon teased, but at the end of that his humor tapered off.

“I think I like being Jake Thayer, for now,” I told him. Somehow I thought the idea that marriage was implied had turned his good humor. “I do like the sound of that, though.” I admit it, it was a moment of weakness. I did like the sound of Jake Ellesier, dumb as it sounds. I have no real attachments to ‘Thayer’. I have no contact with extended family; not even sure I have any.

“Well,” Jon said while clearing his throat. “Geoff's is the hardest vote to get, I think. Not that I doubted you, of course. I picked you, so naturally—”

I splashed him, of course. A mouthful of hot tub water takes the pompous out of a lot of things. Jon used his hand like a squeegee to wipe the excess water from his face and raised an eyebrow at me. I just grinned back at him.

“What was that for?” he asked indignantly.

“I picked you,” I said and stuck out my tongue.

“Oh, really? How do you figure that?”

“Because I told you I was in love with you first,” I said promptly.

He gave me a look that roughly translated to ‘Really, Jake?’ “Maybe I thought it first, how about that?”

I shook my head. “You have to say it and I did first. Problem was, you were asleep.”

His expression changed to one of embarrassed bemusement. “Oh? When would this have been?”

“The night you came back from South Africa. You were passed out drunk and, being as you’d gotten me a little drunk, I nearly molested you.” I narrowed my eyes. “It was a near thing. Good thing I have such self control.”

He laughed. “What does a near molestation have to do with saying you loved me?”

I regarded him for a moment before replying. “Because that’s what stopped me. Instead, I laid back on your bed and put my hand over yours and told you I loved you.”

He reddened slightly and looked away. I felt a little silly as well and fell silent. We idled in the hot tub and, once warmed up, jumped in the pool to swim for a while. Surprisingly, Geoff and Jeremy showed up as well, and Jeremy was up for playing with Jon and I as we splashed and threw each other, but Geoffrey, his royal stuck-upness, got into the hot tub and then laid out on a deck chair.

We played for a bit, and I was pleased to see that Jon didn’t get bent out of shape for Jeremy touching me as we played and, of course, I could care less if Jeremy touched Jon. If Jon didn’t want it, it wouldn’t happen. Geoff, as it happens, wasn’t to be spared.

“I kind of want to get Geoff in the water,” Jeremy commented, pitching his voice low as we treaded water in a corner. “I wish I could sling him over my shoulder or something but I don’t think I could pull it off.”

“Waking the dragon, eh? Someone likes to live dangerously,” Jon replied and I could already see the spark of mischief in his eyes.

“Yeah, he’d be pissed,” Jeremy agreed.

“Crazy pissed.”

“Which means…”

“Let’s do it. Follow me.” Climbing out of the pool after Jon, we crept towards Geoff’s chair. I had to admit, he was good looking, but his less than stellar personality definitely put a damper on it. He obviously found people to sleep with who didn't care about that or maybe he was just a good actor. All I knew was that who a person was inside trumped physical beauty for me every time.

Jeremy didn’t strike me as the shallow type, but when he paused for a second, I turned around and saw him looking at Geoff with the same look in his eye as when Jon looked at me. That couldn’t be right though - they were cousins, weren’t they?

Jon stopped as well and smirked at Jeremy. I was too late to shush him - I knew that look and that he could only be about to say something inane.

“Still stuck on that? Think you’re finally going to take a leaf out of the Lannister playbook, Jeremy?” I might not have totally understood the Game of Thrones reference but it didn’t take a genius to know Jon was being a dick. I glared at him.

“Fuck off, Jon.” Adopted or not, that snarl proved Jeremy was an Ellesier through and through. Jon just laughed, causing Geoff crack an eye at us as we got within a foot of his chair.

“Touch me and I’ll snap your necks,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Jon said with a smile. As a unit we grabbed Geoff’s chair and, as he yelled at us, threw him and the chair into the pool, where they hit with an almighty splash.

Moments later, Geoff surfaced with a gasp. “You’re all going to die screaming!” he roared, splashing over to the side of the pool. Before you knew it we had a member of the staff asking us to kindly not throw the furniture into the pool and to mind the death threats as it upset other guests. I guess when you pay six hundred or more for a room per night they don’t just kick you out of the pool.

We did finally head up to our room to get ready for dinner. We fit easily in the shower. I decreed Jon was filthy and scoured him. Every blessed inch.

The End



I hope you enjoyed the continuation of the Js storyline, as Israfil and I like to call them. Did you know there are email links at the top of each chapter to tell us what you thought? Did you know you can donate to the site for the upkeep and presentation of all the stories hosted at the top of the main page? Did you know you can buy your very own paperback copy of Wayward Son by Dabeagle? Did you know you can commission stories about your favorite characters?The more you know, you know?