The Food of Love

by Bensiamin

Chapter 2

So, I'm continuing to type this journal for David. My typing is slowly getting better, as in faster and fewer mistakes. I'm a long way away from getting a good grade in Miss Crawley's Touch-Typing class though! We've worked out a system too, where every couple of days, no more than every three days, we get together and talk about what David wants to put in the journal, then when we've got that outline, he starts talking to me the way he would have written it up…or typed it up. It's not really dictation, because we talk about it a little. Like "you really want to say that?" or "isn't there a better way to say that?" Which is kind of funny—I'm about to start college, and I get to ask my boyfriend who has a master's degree questions about his English usage! Go figure! Anyhow, it's working, and I'm also learning a lot more about journaling and in a neat way about how my Sexy Man thinks and how he decides what's important to him and for us. We agreed that since I'd typed up most of the first chapter while he was still recovering from his concussion, that we'd keep going with me kind of narrating until he was up to take over again.

I guess that last paragraph would be considered an aside! The last chapter ended with David typing his resignation letter.

The next morning, we were finishing breakfast after Gary had headed out to mow, and Will called. He'd gotten back from vacation with his family the night before. He told me he'd heard about the bike wreck and wanted to come over and see us. He was there in fifteen minutes. I saw him pull up and met him at the front door. He was smiling widely, and his eyes were sparkling. "Bro, it's so good to see you. I missed your grin and those cute dimples." Then he pulled me in for a big hug. I mean a real hug, body to body, not one of those fake ones that guys usually do with each other.

I grinned back at him. "Hey, I still love you like I did before you left, but you know I save the sexy stuff for my boyfriend, but it's super seeing you too. It's been kind of nuts for the last ten days, but things are good now."

His next question was about David, "So, he's Okay? I heard about the wreck and the concussion while we were gone. He's gonna be okay?" He still had his arm around my shoulder. I nodded, "Yeah, he's gonna be fine. I'll fill you in on the details."

"Are you Okay?"

"Once I got over being freaked and knowing he wasn't gonna die, and then after he came back from the concussion—like he was in a fog for a week, yeah, after that I've been fine. I'll fill you in on the gory details, but come see David. I know he wants to see you too."

It was like old home week with the hugs and "how are you's" but it was great cause Will was my best friend and really close to David too, now that we'd done that intervention and he'd had some counseling sessions with David who helped him sort out being bi. We all sat down, and he was full of questions, and we walked him through all the details, including starting physical therapy next week.

Will looked at me and said, "So how come you're not mowing. Have you had to be David's nurse?"

I smiled and nodded, and was trying to not make a big deal out of it, but David cut right in. "He has, and he's been the best. You don't know what can happen till it happens. I can tell you now that it's almost impossible to wipe your ass when your shoulder is immobilized and in a sling. And then there's taking a piss and getting dressed. They're not easy either. You pretty much get over being embarrassed about that stuff real fast."

Will had started out shocked or surprised, but realized David was making a joke out of it, and we were all laughing along by the end. He was telling Will how funny it would all seem when the two of us got alone and I could fill him in on the nitty gritty and how helpless he'd been. But then he told Will that I'd been a great nurse and the best boyfriend, and that you find out about the real person in difficult times, and he got through it because of me. That blew my mind, I mean he'd told me, but now he was saying this out loud, and I was getting emotional, and he reached across the kitchen table and put his hand on mine.

Will was smiling. "You know, you guys, my parents love each other and stuff, but I've never seen two people that care about each other so much or be so open and honest with each other. I just hope I'm lucky enough to find a relationship like yours." That blew my mind too. I wrote down what he said a little later so I wouldn't forget it.

It was time to change the subject. "When's your next BMX race? Didn't you tell me you had the hots for some other rider dude, the one with red hair? What's up with that?"

He smiled shyly, then glanced at David like he wasn't sure he could talk about it. David grinned, "Hey, Will, you can tell me anything you want to, no problem. And in this house, you can talk openly and freely about anything. So, there's this redhead huh?"

"Well, it's not like there's anything going on. You know, it's still early in the race season, and I met him a couple of meets ago, and we kinda hit it off, he's cool, and I like him." He paused and looked at David and then me. "Okay, it's more than that. He's hot and I'm attracted to him. He's got this beautiful wavy red hair and beautiful blue eyes, sad looking blue eyes like a puppy, and the sexiest lips. Anyway, I think he likes me. I'm hoping to see him at the race on Saturday. He lives in Salem, so it's not like he's close and we can see each other all the time. Anyway, I've been gone for two weeks and I don't know where it's going, or where he's at or even if it can go anywhere."

David smiled appreciatively. "I can see there's something there."

"Can I say it?"

David coyly said, "Say what?"

Will smiled innocently and then said to David, "Do you remember our first counseling session and what you told me about certain boys and what they can do to you?"

David's smile widened and he nodded. Will went on, smiling but acting a little embarrassed too. "Well, he makes my cock twitch."

David broke into a grin. "If he's got half a brain and has any sexual motivation, he'd be all over you in about two minutes."

Will about choked!

I said, "He means if he's smart and horny he'll be all over you, but he's too polite to say it that way. And, I'm impressed you remember that line about boys that make your cock twitch! I told you that you'd make someone a sexy boyfriend, didn't I?"

We all cracked up, and after we talked about Saturday's race and I asked, "Have you called him since you got back?"

Will looked at me blankly.

"Dude, you've got a phone at home, right? He's got a phone at home, right? You've got to have his phone number. If you haven't called him already, and it looks like you haven't, you should call him and tell him you just got back and you missed seeing his smiling face or his red hair, or whatever, and you can't wait to see him this Saturday. You know, re-establish the connection."

He looked momentarily embarrassed, then smiled kind of weekly, but I could see his eyes light up. "You think that'd be Okay?"

I could see David just watching. "Of course, it'd be Okay! You're race buddies. If he's not interested in you, then it's just about the race on Saturday. If he is interested in you, then you'll put a spark to his tinder, and you can see what happens Saturday. You've got wheels. Maybe you could give him a ride, you know where you could stop at some out of the way place, like by a lake or something, and watch the submarine races."

If we'd been in the living room Will would have thrown a pillow at me. He was blushing really red, but then he calmed down. "Do you guys talk about all of this stuff like this all the time?"

Before I could make another kind of offensive comment, David jumped in and said, "Will, it's just being open and honest about what's going on. If Red was a girl instead of a boy, would any of this feel weird?"

He shook his head. "See," David went on, "it's about getting over the sexual hang ups. And about talking about it openly too, I'm guessing you don't have these kinds of conversations with your parents."

"That's for sure." Then he asked what our schedule was with the house in Portland and stuff.

I looked at David, and he nodded, and then said, "Can you keep a secret?" He knew the answer but was being conspiratorial, like in a good mystery novel.

Will grinned and nodded, and David told him he was resigning the next day so we could get to work on the house and move in the next month. "Wow. That's cool. I mean, scary cause you guys won't be here, but it's cool for you."

"It's cool for all of us, because you're my best friend, and you're invited any time." I stared him down, so he knew I meant it. "That means bringing Red, or whatever his name is, if you want to, right Rev?"

I grinned at David, and he grinned back, making those wiggly eyebrows at Will.

"Listen, why don't you two go for a bike ride or go do something? You need to catch up. I'll be fine. If you want to come back for lunch, I'll have something simple together. I almost don't need this sling anymore." That was so cool of David to do, so I asked if we could take the El Camino and go down to the BMX track. He nodded and said, "the keys are on the counter."

Spencer hadn't been fooling when he told us how fast the time would go by. With David having physical therapy three times a week and me having to drive him to the clinic, and getting organized about the utilities on the house and David planning for his last two Sunday services, it seemed like it was just like that and there we were: his last Sunday in Newberg.

We'd filled Gary and Lois in on the plan, of course, and they were fully on board once they understood what Spencer had been saying and how much sense it made. "I guess it goes to show," Lois said, "that we're young enough we haven't had to deal with these responsibilities before, so we don't understand what it takes to get it all done."

David made a big deal out of typing his resignation letter, but it was only a couple of paragraphs long, so it was kind of funny to watch. I asked him how he felt about it while he was typing, and he asked me back what I meant.

"I mean how do you feel, like happy or sad?"

He said he didn't feel either. He was just doing it because it needed to be done to move on. I quietly got up from the other chair in the office and walked behind him. He was still sitting in his office chair, proofing the letter that was still in the typewriter. I slowly slid my arms around him, making sure not to squeeze his bad shoulder. I felt his head tip back like he was responding, almost like he was reaching back to meet me in some kind of dance.

I kissed the top of his head, and rubbed my face in his hair, and then I squeezed him. He couldn't squeeze back cause I was behind him and had my arms around him. "Do you feel that?"

"Yeah. It feels good."

"Oh, good. You can feel it, and it feels good?"

"Yeah, I always love it when you hug me and kiss the top of my head that way. When you rub your face in my hair, I feel like I'm on cloud nine, or something."

"Okay, good. I'm just checking that you can still feel cause a few minutes ago you told me you weren't feeling anything about writing that resignation letter. Let me make sure."

I squeezed him again. "Can you feel that? Are you sure you can feel it?"

He was quiet for a minute, then softly he said, "I was doing it again, wasn't I?"

I nodded while I hugged him and kissing the top of his head again, loving the feeling of his hair rubbing against my face. "Yep, you said you weren't feeling anything. You're resigning from your first job, your first pastorate. You're moving onto what's next and you said you weren't feeling anything."

"I'm sorry. You know, it's just the way I am. I guess it's the way I grew up. Things change, you close the door, you move on, you get used to the loss, you make sure you don't feel, because that way you don't have to hurt."

"So, does it hurt. I mean resigning. Does it hurt typing your resignation letter?"

He was quiet again. Finally, he said, "No, hurt is the wrong word. It's more like bittersweet. There's a sadness to the leaving part, after going to seminary and all. But it's not just that, it's what's best overall, it's what's best for us. We're starting this new life. I'm happy about that. There's a new job, you're going to college, we'll be together, we're building a new family with Lois and Gary and your Dad. So, this is what I want to do."

"Go on."

"And you're right. My natural reaction was to stuff my feelings, to act like I don't have any. I guess I should be totally bummed because I'm having to resign, or totally overjoyed because we're moving on. But I don't feel either of those. What's wrong with me?"

"I think those feelings are in there. In my heart, the David I know and love, has those feelings." I was murmuring into his hair, holding his right arm so I wouldn't hurt it, and stroking his left arm so he'd feel my affection. "It's just that those feelings get stuck away in some compartment. I'm certain they're in there, because the David I love is the most caring and feeling person I know when it comes to other people. He just has trouble feeling when it comes to him."

He was still quiet, but I heard a gasp or two, and I didn't want to make him cry.

"Do you think you could talk to the David I know and love, and maybe get him to loosen up a little on those compartments? You know, let those feelings out, not be so uptight and controlling when it comes to feelings like that? I mean, he's trying to heal, from this bike wreck and stuff, and holding all those feelings inside can't be good for him. Do you think you could talk to him about it, so he'd like loosen up a little?"

I was kissing the top of his head as I finished, and was stroking the sides of his face, running my fingertips up across his temples and into his hair when I felt his left hand come up and take my left hand and pull it down across his face, to his lips, where he kissed my fingertips. I could feel the wet, the tears on his face, and kissed the top of his head again, and gave him a soft hug with my other arm.

"Babe, it's Okay. I love you more than anything. It's not an end of the world kind of thing. You've just got to not shut your feelings down. You know, I'm a kind of selfish kid, and the last thing I want is that certain of those feelings get shut down. Can you guess which feelings I'm talking about?"

I was kind of giggling toward the end there, and pulled his chair back and swung it around so I could kneel between his legs and hug him hard around his waist, with my head in his lap. I felt him stroking the top of my head with his left arm, running it down my back and back up. It felt so good.

"I love you Jackson, and this just goes to show how much I need you."

"Yeah, well, that goes both ways." I hugged him again, loving the feeling of him stroking me, my arms wrapped around his waist, my head in his lap, us joined together in this neat physical way.

There's something about having your boyfriend's head in your lap! Or, having your head in your boyfriend's lap! In spite of what we had been talking about, in spite of the emotion we'd been dealing with, I felt him getting hard. So, I did what any caring and loving boyfriend would do. I turned my face a little and blew my warm breath through his shorts onto his cock.

Then he really started getting harder. He was wearing khaki shorts with a zipper. I undid the snap at the top and then the zipper, and carefully reached into his boxers. He was still stroking the back of my head, his fingertips running through my hair. He wasn't fully hard, so I could easily pull his cock out of his boxers without hurting it, and I just held it in the palm of my hand, watching it get fully hard. I slowly rubbed my thumb around the head to help him along, and only when he was fully hard, did I look up at him.

The tears were gone, and his eyes were shining, and his expression was pure love. I smiled back at him as lovingly as I could, and then softly I asked, "You're feeling this, right?"

He groaned.

"I want to make sure you're feeling this. You have to tell me, so I'm sure."

He groaned again, then said, "I'm feeling the most incredible sensations. Sensations like I never thought I'd feel in my life. They're sensations that my Lover Boy is creating because he loves me, and his loving me makes me feel. It makes me feel like the luckiest person on earth. It makes me feel like a real person. It makes me complete. And I'm not in touch with my feelings all the time, but when I am, like right now, there's no one I'd rather tell about them than the person I love more than anyone else."

I'd been watching him, eye to eye as he spoke, and I could feel his precum pooling in the palm of my hand. "I love you more than anything else too, David. You're the most loving person I've ever known. But I've got this little problem right now. I've got this love juice in my hand I need to do something about. So, first, I'm going to take care of that."

I pulled my hand off his cock, and brought it to my mouth, and licked all the precum off it.

"Now, my second problem is this." I took hold of his cock again, and looked straight at him, "but this is easy too because this is the most beautiful cock on earth because it belongs to my Sexy Man."

Then I took him in my mouth, licking around the head of his cock a few times before I went down on him. I felt him gasp right away, and knew he was pretty emotional, and that he wouldn't last long. But that wasn't the point. The point was to show him how much I loved him, and to connect that love and that bliss with his opening up and sharing his feelings.

After he'd come, I just rested my head in his lap, loving being able to watch his cock soften and shrink, and, every once in a while, as a drop or two of cum would appear in his slit, I'd lick it off. He'd shudder and stroke my head, and we just stayed like that, enjoying each other's presence and being. When we were done I raised up and took his face in my two hands and kissed his lips and then said, "I'm pretty sure I'd be willing to do that for you each and every time you are perfectly honest with me about your feelings."

I worried for just a sec that he'd be offended, or worse yet, that he'd be pissed. But he wasn't. He was David, and he understood. He didn't say anything. He just pulled me tight to him with his left arm and kissed the side of my head, and whispered, "I heard you call me Babe, and at first I didn't know what to make of it, but I've decided I love it. I may be older than you, but there are things you do for me that make me feel like you're the mature one."

I hadn't thought about it, the word had just come out. I hadn't had time to think about what he'd think, but he'd solved that problem for me.

"I didn't really think about it. But you're affectionate and attractive and sexy, and seem kind of like that to me!"

He laughed at that! "You're absolutely the best. You're like my counselor, aren't you? You're going to heal me."

I hugged him back. "It seems only fair. You've healed me a lot, and that was our deal."

"Now I've got a question for you. You're my Lover Boy, and I've called you my Lover Boy, and I always will. But that's kind of a private thing, isn't it? Is it Okay if I shorten it to 'Love,' because that's what you are, my true love."

I smiled and felt warm inside. He was connecting with his feelings.

A little while later, when we were sitting on the couch, me with my head in his lap, him stroking my head with his left arm, I said, "We need a summer project. I mean you'll be doing physical therapy, and then we're moving, but we can't bike for a while, and we can't kayak, so what are we going to do together?"

He looked at me a little blankly for a few seconds, then he began to smile. I loved it, because it had a mixture of sly and joy blended in together. "How about we read, Love?"


"Yeah, like you just said, I can't do much physical for a while, but we both like to read. I'm not doing sermon preparation anymore, or not for a while anyway. We could like have our own little book club, each of us read what we want and tell the other about it chapter by chapter. I think it'd be fun."

"Really? You'd be interested in what I want to read?"

"Well, yeah! As long as it wasn't some dumb kid's book."

"I can tell you've already got this planned out. What are you thinking about reading?"

"Well, Love," he was already loving using the pet name, "since you've made so much about our new house looking like a Hobbit house, I was thinking I'm overdue for reading The Lord of the Rings. "

"Whoa! That's a major change from theology and stuff"

"Yeah. So?"

"No, no, don't get me wrong. I think it's cool. You can probably tell me a lot of important stuff I missed when I first read it, and now I've got that hardback set of all three books that Mom gave me for my birthday. You can read those."

"That'd be cool. What are you going to read?"

"I don't know. After world history and English lit and psych, I'm thinking I need something completely different and maybe more, what's the word…entertaining. Maybe I'll go look for a novel at the bookstore. Actually, I think this could be kind of fun. And, when you get through PT, we've talked about starting to do some hiking, so maybe it's our summer of reading and hiking. That's be cool."

The next Monday he started physical therapy. The doc had said it was about range of motion, so he had three sessions a week for two weeks, and we were both shocked and amazed how little he could move his arm when he got it out of the sling. The PT wasn't surprised at all and said so. After thirty minutes of various movements and exercises, he told David his shoulder was going to be sore after the session, but was surprisingly responsive and that he should try to ditch the sling. He also gave him a sheet with a few exercises to do on the days between PT, telling him that the way it looked, if he did the basic exercises on the alternate days and the weekends, and then got pushed a little during the PT sessions, he's likely have pretty much full range of motion back in a relatively short time.

David wanted to know how much of that would be from the PT and how much the cortisone shot? The answer: it was both, working together synergistically. The secret was going to be that the steroid shot took away the pain and inflammation and made the recovery happen much more quickly, but the key would be not to overdo it, or strain it or worst of all, to injure the shoulder. Go slow, go careful, and by Fall he'd be back to normal.

On the second Monday we had the PT appointment in the morning so we could meet Prof. Higgins for lunch and take possession of the house. We met at a restaurant in Sellwood, and then afterwards, met the realtor at the house. David signed the last of the papers, was handed the keys, and then we got a quick walk through to show us that all the furniture was out, and it was cleaned up for us. Then the realtor left, and we had a slower walk through with Prof. Higgins.

He was so happy for us, and quite complimentary on the house. I had to say, "Don't you love the front, the way it looks like a Hobbit house with the shingled roof that rolls over the edge?"

He grinned, knowing just what I was getting at. Then he turned to David. "I'm not trying to push my way in here, but you're still living in Newberg and I live close by, and if I can help, I will. When the house was inspected, how did the inspection report come back? Any major problems or deficiencies?"

David shook his head, "No, there wasn't anything in need of repair or replacement."

"Have you thought about what you want done? Not that it needs remodeling, or anything?"

"We've talked about maybe some decorating or painting when we bought it but honestly with the concussion, this is the first time I've thought about it since. What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking you two guys are pretty hip and have good taste, but maybe you need some decorating help."

David looked at me, and I grinned and looked at Prof. Higgins and said, "Yeah?"

He grinned back and said, "My wife has done quite a bit, not just in our home, but working in a design studio and helping friends out. Would you like me to ask her if she'd be up for providing a little assistance?"

We both grinned at that. We told him our plan was for David to resign and then to get moved in as soon as we could, and he said he'd talk to his wife when he got home and then call us in the evening to let us know if she would help and how soon we could get started. After he left, we walked around a little more, I checked out the tiny cellar and went up into the attic (no ghosts!) and then we walked around the yard. The front of the house had nice flower beds with some bushes, but the back was pretty plain, with a couple of flower beds, lawn and a few trees.

On the way home we talked about what was possible, and we both agreed that even if it was just some painting, it would be hard to do it long distance. We knew we needed some help. So, we were pretty thrilled when Prof. Higgins called that evening with good news and put his wife on the phone with David.

When they were done, he was smiling, and said, "Her name is Marcia, and she has done quite a bit of interior decorating and wants to help. I got the impression that her husband 'strongly encouraged' her, but she's also a really nice person. So, we're going to meet her at the house Thursday morning, and I'm thinking that tomorrow we drive back, with that list of utility offices that the realtor gave us, and get as much of that done as we can. Anything left over we can do on Thursday after we're done meeting with Marcia."

I grinned. David was in planning and execution mode! This was great.

The next day we got the electrical service set up, water established with the city, and an account opened for oil delivery for the oil furnace. The phone was more complicated. We got an order placed, but it would take a week or two. Oh well. We'd have power and water the next day, so we were ready to go.

Lois and Gary, but especially Lois, were really excited about the plans for the house and wanted to know every detail and when they could see it, and how they could help. I could see that one part of David wanted to involve her, and so did I, but this was going to be our house, and she'd be welcome any time. We had to make it ours, though. Just like she and Gary had to make this house theirs after we left.

We got there early on Thursday, and had the house unlocked when Marcia arrived. It was neat to see her again. She was for real, and not about to be rushed into anything. We spent at least five minutes on the front sidewalk looking at the lines of the house from the street, talking about the architecture and colors and attributes. It was all new to me, but I learned the style was called English Cottage Bungalow because it had multiple gables, was one story with a brick exterior, had one or more fireplaces, a side entrance and in this case cool leaded glass windows and what she described as a "very cute and attractive" rolled over and shingled roof on the front side.

I asked her if she thought it made it look like a Hobbit house, and she grinned and said it was just what she was thinking. We walked around the exterior and her comment was that it was in good condition, with very little work needed outside.

She was equally upbeat when we walked through the interior. We all loved the living room with the leaded glass window that looked out on the street, and the adjoining dining room that led through to the kitchen. She went out of her way to make the point David had talked about when we'd started looking, that all the original window frames and case work, and all the original wood floors were still in place, and that most importantly the floors didn't need to be re-finished.

When we got to the kitchen, I hadn't noticed the stove before, but she let us know we had a real winner in the O'Keefe and Merritt that had four burners and a griddle on top plus two ovens. Suddenly I could see us, or more correctly, David, cooking breakfast on that stove.

As we walked through the three bedrooms, it dawned on us that the decorating had been done by a lady with lots of light pastels, like pink and dusty rose, and she asked if we wouldn't like the colors changed to something more masculine with stronger tones? We looked at each other kind of embarrassed, and she grabbed our hands and laughed. "You haven't done this before, have you? Don't be embarrassed. That's what I'm here for, to help you figure out what you want that you probably can't put into words."

We pretty quickly decided which was going to be the study and which the guest bedroom, and she loved the idea of a study, and was talking about stronger colors for the bedrooms, and was very positive about the tile work in both bathrooms. By the time we got back into the living room, she'd formulated some ideas, and had some painting color suggestions for the bedrooms and study, as well as the walls in the bathrooms. She made clear the kitchen needed re-painting though the linoleum was in good shape.

"Now, boys, what is the vibe you want the living room and dining room to have?"

Neither of us knew what to say, so she went on. "Think of it this way. It's not just the first two rooms you walk into each day when you come home, but when you have guests, and I'm certain you will be entertaining, it's the vibe your guests will encounter when they walk through that front door. So, what is the feeling you want to create."

I looked at David and grinned. "See, it's feelings again!" He smiled back.

Then he said, "Well, welcoming and happy for sure. I don't want it to have a feminine feeling, but I don't want some butch feeling either or a cold modern look." He looked at me. I nodded, and said, "it should be warm and welcoming, and somehow reflect us, and go with the style of the house. Does that make sense?"

David went on, "Marcia, you know us fairly well now, and you do this kind of work. What do you recommend?"

She smiled. "Well, the house has its own character, and it faces west, but across the river is the Palatine Hill, so you won't get much evening light in here. That says to me a light color, and this living room has that nice molding a foot below the ceiling and the wall curves up to the ceiling, so I'd suggest a kind of sky-blue color on the walls and a white ceiling from the molding up. You don't want to get carried away in here because you have that lovely leaded glass window that will make interesting lighting effects, and the fireplace with its very cool tile, plus the wood door and window frames and the original wood floors. On the other hand, in the dining room, which is further into the house, you have the opportunity to liven it up a little bit, and I'd suggest finding a really cool wall paper to use in there, and then in the kitchen, which will receive morning light, but no direct light the rest of the day, that you use a bold and bright color."

She'd been looking at me, with a subtle smile on her face, and I said, "And that bold and bright color would be what?"

"How about a sunflower yellow?"

As soon as she said it, I could see it, and it blew my mind. "That sounds far out to me." David nodded. She and David talked about the paint colors for the other rooms, but I'd been caught up with the idea of a patterned wallpaper and all these patterns were boiling through my brain, and the sunflower yellow paint in the kitchen.

By the time my reverie was over they were talking practical realities, and I heard Marcia tell David she had a reliable painting contractor who could also do the wallpaper. There was one really cool moment when I felt David kind of panic about whether this would all work out and Marcia said, "David, you're my friend. You'll be working with my husband at the college. That should be enough to tell you I'll make sure it will all work out well. On top of that, I've gotten to know you two, and it was lovely to have you in our home for lunch the day you visited the campus. I want this to work out well for another reason. We're friends now, and I fully expect to be invited to various functions here, and of course I want to enjoy that!"

She was smiling widely, and it was infectious. There really were a lot of good people in this life! We left it that she'd talk to the painting contractor, and we gave her a key to the house. She said she'd call as soon as she had things lined up and we'd go from there. She called us on Friday and said she was meeting the painting contractor at the house on Monday.

The next day I walked into the living room and David was reading The Fellowship of the Ring. That blew my mind. I sat down next to him, and he looked up smiling. "I decided I needed to get started. There's three books in this trilogy, and each one is pretty long."

He grinned and pulled me down for a kiss. "Have you figured out what you're going to read?"

I had to be honest. "No, actually I hadn't even thought about it. But you're serious and I should be too. So, here's the deal. You stay here and read, and I'll get my shit together right now, and go down to the bookstore and make the decision and come back here and plant my ass next to yours and start reading."

He grinned like he'd just won a hand at poker. When I came back forty-five minutes later and sat down next to him, he looked up casually, like he really wasn't interested, but his eyebrows were wiggling.

I said, "What? Are you curious?"

He kept wiggling his eyebrows. I showed him the cover of two books, and he gave me a look of mock disgust!

"Yeah, I know, they're novels, and ones a war time thriller novel, but the lady at the bookstore said it is incredibly well written."

"Oh, really? What's it called?"

I showed him the cover. " Eye of the Needle . Hmm, looks like a real thriller. Are you up for that?"

"Yeah, really. I told her I was burned out from too much English Lit and Psych reading, and she said she understood and had just the thing for me, a great new book by this really good English author named Ken Follett that's set in World War II. She said I'd love it, and she could guarantee that I wouldn't be bored, and it would cure my burn out! Then when she found out I'd taken Psych last year she said I should also read this one?"

"Hmm, Ordinary People ? What did she tell you about it?"

"That it came out over a year ago, was a best seller, involves quite a bit of psychology, and then she said because I'd taken English lit I'd probably like the author's writing style which alternates between the first and third person, for the son and the father in the story."

"They sound like very different but interesting reads. It'll be fun to hear you summarize the chapters."

"So, where are you? Are they all still in Bilbo's house for the birthday party?"

"Well, yeah. The story is just getting started, and an eleventy-first birthday is pretty important." He hugged me and kissed the top of my head, and we read together for a while.

Monday night Marcia called us and told us she needed to meet with us the next day to choose paint colors and the wallpaper for the dining room. We were on our way!

The drive into Portland the next day was energetic. I told him that I'd noticed how much more energetic and into it he seemed in bed the night before. At first, he grinned, reaching over and stroking my thigh. Then he said he hoped he hadn't been missing in action, that I deserved better. That choked me up. I told him everything was fine, and he pulled my hand over and kissed the fingertips and smiled at me.

David was more and more engaged. His resignation letter had been accepted in a positive light. The congregation was bummed, but the Session understood, and no one was arguing or being difficult because of the bike wreck and the concussion. I knew Spencer had done his piece talking to all the Session members, so it wasn't a big emotional deal. Which was just what we needed.

It was time to ask a question that had been on my mind. I put my hand on his thigh, over the console, and stroked with my fingertips.

"So, I've got a question for you. Now that the Session and church know and are cool with your resignation, are you going to call that Talbot dude, or wait for him to hear about it and call you?"

He paused, then said, "Good question. I guess I've been avoiding it, but I should take the bull by the horns and call him so it's on my terms. Isn't that what you're getting at?"

I nodded and smiled, and he smiled back and grabbed my thigh over the console!

We met Marcia at a design studio in the industrial east side, and it was amazing just how much there was too choose from. For a kid from a farm town it was just mind-blowing. What was so cool was that Marcia was channeling our choices in certain directions she thought appropriate, but she wasn't telling us what to choose. She was giving us options. The paint colors were pretty easy, and when it came to the wallpaper, David just deferred to me. I was lost in all the colors and patterns but wanted him to be part of it, and Marcia slowly moved me through the choices till it got down to a few that had what she described as a "wonderful balance of color, pattern and texture." Like I understood that!

I was really getting off on it all and kept pulling David in to look at this one, or see that one. I finally figured out that he was being part of it, but he also wanted me to have the final say on a couple of things. Where we ended up was a far-out wallpaper that had flowers and vines, with a subtle mix of birds in the vines. She told us not to be afraid of the colors, that they weren't tropical, they were natural, and they would look that way on the wall, it would all come to life and be bright and vibrant, but not showy or garish. I was impressed. How can someone see colors and patterns that way and transfer it in their mind to an application on walls in a room and see what it would look like? I guess it's kind of what a music composer or arranger goes through when they create. I also locked down the sunflower yellow for the kitchen. She pointed out that meant a neutral color for the refrigerator, and we agreed on white to match the stove.

At any rate, after a couple of hours we were happy, Marcia was happy, and we turned the rest over to her. That is until she asked us what furniture we had for the house once it was ready? Again, it was something we knew we were going to have to do because we were leaving all the furniture in the Newberg house for Gary and Lois, but we just hadn't worked it out yet as something we had to do. That's when Marcia said we needed to go have lunch together.

Lunch was eating, but mainly it was a heart-to-heart about what we wanted the place to look and feel like. We'd both taken so much for granted we were blown away and embarrassed. Basically, after we went back and forth and she challenged every dumb thing we said, it kind of came down to her saying "Okay, you like the house and that it has the original wood floor and all the case work, right?"

We nodded. Kind of like a couple of middle school kids.

"Okay," she went on, "then that means you like the furnishing and architectural style from the early 20 th century. So, you know what that says to me?"

We had no choice but to say "No."

"That means you're not going to be buying much new furniture, because it wouldn't fit. So, here's what I suggest. In a week or so, after you see the change the new paint colors and the wallpaper make, we go shopping at some antique or used furniture places. Don't panic, that doesn't mean they're junk. Actually, Sellwood has a couple, and there are a few more downtown. We just need a list. Like a couch and two armchairs for the living room. A dining room table and chairs with sideboard for the dining room. Nothing more complicated than that."

We must have looked pretty clueless because then she said, "the lucky thing for you guys is that used furniture is a lot less expensive than new, and for the vibe and feel you want, you have about a fifty-year range of furniture styles to choose from. Art Nouveau furniture might work in some instances, like maybe a standalone bar. Craftsman style furniture would work for armchairs. The trick will be in the balance. But, don't panic. This will be fun. We're going hunting. We'll find great stuff it will be fun. Just for the record, this is the way Carter and I started out. We weren't well-to-do college professors. He was a PhD candidate and I was still in college and we were trying to make ends meet, and when we finally scraped enough together to buy our first house, we were working all the options to afford to furnish it. A lot of it came from Good Will. It's just the way it was. And, for the record, if you happen to like or prefer more classic older styles, then guess what? You get the type of furniture you prefer for a lot less money! So, plan on it, we'll have fun doing this!"

And that pretty much described the next couple of weeks. While the painters were doing their thing, Marcia was hauling us around to antique malls and used furniture stores, carefully guiding our decisions so we weren't doing something "dreadful" like mixing Duncan Fife style with Bauhaus in the same room! The result, though, at the practical level I cared the most about, was that none of the furniture was new…except the beds, of course! And, most importantly, after she'd helped us pick out some rugs and when the furniture got delivered, it didn't just look lived in, it looked like it went with the house. That was so cool.

The next morning, first thing, David called Talbot. We were in the church office and he said he wanted me there for moral support. I didn't get it, cause I knew he could handle this guy, but I went along just because! David was amazingly emotionless and matter of fact when the call started. After he said hello, he just said, "I doubt you've heard yet, but I tendered my resignation to the Session last week, and will be leaving this pastorate next week."

He was quiet after that, and I could tell the phone line was quiet too. He'd held the received away from his ear and Talbot wasn't saying anything, and David was smiling. Finally, Talbot's voice came over the line kind of sputtering, talking about how he could do something like this on such short notice, and at the worst possible time of the year. In other words, whatever he could say to try and intimidate David.

David let him talk, then quietly and forcefully said, "Spare me! I've resigned. It's over. I'm taking a ministry-related position at a college in Portland. I've discussed it in detail with Session, and they were pleased that I resigned now, rather than waiting till later in the summer because they said it was the slowest time of year and the most opportune for identifying and interviewing candidates. So, I'm sorry if it interferes with your summer vacation plans. However, there it is. I'm conducting the service this Sunday and will be departing in the days following."

I could hear Talbot try to say something, attempting to take control of the conversation, but David quietly but strongly said, "It wasn't a pleasure to work with you, but I think we're done here. Goodbye."

And, that was that. David looked at me and said, "Good riddance! I know his main beef was that this is going to put a crimp in his summer plans. Well, tough shit!"

I was grinning like a kid, seeing my Sexy Man close the asshole down just like that. It was so great!

On the days we weren't driving to Sellwood, I took David to PT, and we did stuff around the house and read. With all the decorating and driving back and forth and stuff, reading had been kind of spotty for both of us, but we managed to get in synch and decided it was time to start our book club sessions.

We'd both been reading intermittently. Frankly after PT he'd take a nap and was still going to bed early. That meant I was reading more than him, and he'd kidded me about it, bugging him about how the World War II thriller was going, was I learning anything, and I'd blow him off and say, "You just have to wait till we sit down together and start our book discussion." I think he appreciated me being serious.

He had his last PT in the morning, and took a nap after lunch, then we sat down on the couch in the living room. David was sitting normally, but I was sitting cross-legged at the other end facing him. I knew my shorts had pulled up, but though nothing was exposed, and even I could there was a nice outline. I caught him staring at me, and when he smiled, I grinned. "Not now, my Sexy Man…but maybe later if you do well with our book discussion."

"What's the deal? Are you grading our performance, or something?"

"No, but it's important that we're serious about this, isn't it, if it's going to be worthwhile?"

He grinned back at me. "I'm betting this is how your English lit teacher sounded when you finished Frankenstein and switched to Shakespeare!"

"Can I go first?" I guess my anticipation was obvious. He ran his left hand over my knee and part way up my thigh, as far as he could reach without leaning over. I said, "Uh, uh. Not now."

He smiled and said softly, "Just a touch so you know I love you, and of course you can go first."

I started with the background story, how there's a Foreword that lays out the historical background, and a lot of it is true, namely that before the D-Day landing at Normandy, the Allies had worked hard to keep the selected landing location a secret, and even worked to get the Nazis false intelligence about other landing sites to they'd place troops and armor in the wrong location. It got so intense they even created a fictional military organization called the First United States Army Group that was set up on a base with a location and all kinds of false props to make the Nazis think the landing would be at Calais.

"How much of that did you know," I asked him?

"Truthfully, not a lot. I mean I know about Normandy and I guess I heard about the work to keep it a secret, but I didn't know about the fictional stuff to mislead the Nazis."

"Neat, huh? Anyway, that's the background, and you know that's happening in the summer of 1944 because that's when Normandy happened. The story starts back in 1940, so you've got to jump back in time with the main character, a German spy named Henry Faber, who the Germans refer to as The Needle because he uses a stiletto, and it turns out that he's got a job as a railway depot associate in London, and is watching and counting the passage of troops through London and passing that on to Germany so they can anticipate Allied troop movements and positions. Can you believe it, they've got a spy in London! Anyway, as far as I've gotten is that Faber is sending his troop info by radio one night and he gets interrupted by his landlady, who's probably looking for a little 'play in the hay' with him, but he realizes that she knows too much, and kills her with the stiletto, and then he goes right on, cool as a cucumber, finishing his radio transmission. I mean, that's hard core!"

He surprised me with what he said. "I don't remember you this engaged in reading since Frankenstein . I mean you did all the required reading, but remember how you were telling me the story line and who Frankenstein really was, meaning the doctor, not the monster, and how it was the first real sci-fi novel, and all that?" You're really into this, if you can remember all those details."

I took it as a compliment, and replied, "It's war and people are being murdered, but it's an exciting story. If the Germans had spies in England, we must have had spies in Europe too, right?"

He nodded, "Yeah, but probably not Americans. Most likely they were the Allies, so there were Dutch resistance fighters in The Netherlands, and French partisans in France. People who could speak the language, knew how to get around and had good cover. If Faber is actually a German and working in London, he must be very capable of running incognito!"

"Okay, your turn. You're not still at the house party at Bag End, are you?"

"No, no! I may be still a little slow and sleepy, but I'm not that slow. You remember a lot of the details. So, the party is for Bilbo's 111th birthday, and he gives the ring he found in The Hobbit to his cousin Frodo. But there's this weird thing where when it's time to give up the ring he suddenly gets jealous and doesn't want to, and only does because the wizard Gandalf the Grey pressures him to. So, we figure out that the ring has some real power, and Gandalf suspects that it's the One Ring, and then tells Frodo that the Ring has to be taken out of the Shire, because he can sense that Sauron's power is growing again, and keeping it in the Shire would bring Sauron's forces there."

I looked at him, "I guess this is where the reader is supposed to get the first clue that there's bad stuff coming."

He nodded, and continued, "So, Frodo sets out on the journey with his three Hobbit Friends, Sam, Merry and Pippin. And boy do they get a baptism by fire with they're pursued by the nine Ringwraiths in the form of Black Riders. They're lucky to get away because they're helped by some elves and then they get lost in Old Forest where a tree swallows Merry and Pippin. Anyway, they get rescued by this big happy guy named Tom Bombadil, who's the oldest creature in Middle-earth. Then they head to an Inn in the town of Bree…and that's as far as I've gotten."

I scooted over to David's side of the couch and dropped my head onto his lap. I smiled and asked, "Are you enjoying this? Is it more fun than Prof. Higgins study group?"

"Well, it requires less intellectual involvement, and it's more relaxed and fun. But you know what the best part is?"

His smile deepened. "That I'm doing it with you. And I get to do this when I want to."

He leaned down and kissed my forehead. I closed my eyes, as he said, "And this too," He slipped his left hand under the waist of my shorts and into my pubes. My eyes opened wide as his fingertips found the base of my cock.

We made love that night. It was slow and methodical, but David was almost acting like my love again. It felt like he was almost back to normal. He was into it and wanted to please me. I was so thrilled I could have cried. I was also happy, because I was getting pretty tired of jacking off by myself in the shower!

We'd been driving back and forth to the house in Sellwood and to stores in Portland for almost every day of it seemed like forever. On the first Thursday of August we decided we owed it to ourselves to take some rec time for ourselves and do a hike. We'd been talking about hiking in the Cascades after we moved, and it seemed like we'd better get started!

We headed south over the river and down Highway 219 through St. Paul to Willamette Mission State park, the location of one of the earliest settler locations in the Willamette Valley. We'd heard about the Park, but this was a first. It's all open fields and woodlands interspersed with wetlands, lakes and a cool beach along the river. There was plenty to do, hiking the bike and walking paths, as well as the 6 miles of horse trails, and then being able to wade in the river and hang out on the beach.

Right in the middle of the Willamette Valley, Willamette Mission State Park was over 1,300 acres of woodlands interspersed with wetlands, lakes rolling meadows and farmland. I guess you'd say it had it all: bird watching along the Willamette River, picnicking in shady orchards, fishing in the river or enjoying the scenery by foot, bicycle or horseback. It was amazingly relaxing after the last few weeks we'd had, and we both luxuriated in being able to lay on the beach in the sun. Where, of course, we fell asleep!

On the drive home to Newberg, David pulled over somewhere. I don't remember if it was a wide spot in the road, or a rest area. He looked at me, and reached up and stroked my face over the console and said, "Have you had enough of all this driving back and forth to Sellwood?"

I knew just what he was saying! I leaned over to kiss him as I said, "Yes. The paint's dry, and the beds get delivered in two days. Let's move. This back and forth shit is killing us."

So, that's how we organized Gary and some friends to have a move event the next weekend. Between the El Camino, the pickup and the trailer, we were able to move most everything we wanted in two days. The albums and some books were still in boxes in the living room, and David's theology books plus the set of World Book Encyclopedias (still in their original boxes!) were stacked in the study. There were odds and ends left in Newberg, but suddenly it was Sunday evening and we were all sitting in our new house, and Lois and Gary and Will and Tom were there, and we were all tired because we'd hauled boxes of books and records and clothes and dictionary stands and bikes and all kinds of other stuff, but we were pretty much moved.

We had the beds in the two bedrooms, a couch and armchairs in the living room, a cool round oak dining table with chairs that Marcia had found us that could accommodate up to six leaves and turn into this huge oval table that could seat ten people! We had work to do, but the moving crew could all fit in!

David had ordered pizza, and bought the makings for salad that I put together, and had a bottle of red wine that he insisted we all have at least a small glass of it. Most of us hadn't drunk much of the wine, but after we'd eaten, he stood up and said, "I want to make a toast. First, this is to our best friends and family. The only person missing from that group is JC, but he's flying this weekend, so we'll have to do this again when he can come down! Second, thanks for the help in the move—you guys are the best. This is for the moving crew! Now, we've got a new home here. Jackson thinks it's a Hobbit home because of the roll-over roof on the front, and that's cool. But, the most important part of this new home is that it's our home. I don't just mean me and Jackson, I mean all of us. All of you too. We're all family. We're a new family we created. A good and healthy and caring family, and all of you are welcome here anytime. You're part of our life. We wouldn't be here, wouldn't be where we are without you, so just know that, Okay?"

It was quiet.

David looked at me. "Jackson, do you want to say something?"

I thought for a minute and then said, "I think you said it all. Well, maybe I'd add this. We're serious. Everything David said is true. You're our family. You're welcome here any time, no matter what. By that I mean if it's good times or tough times, Okay? We want this place to be happy and healthy, but most important we want it welcoming no matter what. That's all."

David said, "Shall we toast to that," and that's when I realized why he'd poured everyone a glass of wine.

We all took a sip, or two, or three, and then Lois said, "You understand what you said kind of even further expands on the Three Musketeers and the Fellowship of the Four idea because there's now seven with Will and Tom and JC, and knowing how you guys operate soon there'll be eight or ten or twenty! But anyway, even if it grows the Fellowship of the Four idea, this house has that cute Hobbit front on it, and that'll never change, and always remind us all of the fellowship idea. Am I right?"

David smiled coyly. "Lois, I've always thought you were a very perceptive person, and you're right. And you know what, the number of people involved doesn't matter as long as we're all true to the reason, because we love and care about each other. It's that simple. So, again, I'll say 'Cheers' and let's drink to that."

Gary and Lois slept in the guest room that night, and Will and Tom sorted something out in the living room, Tom had brought a sleeping bag and pad, and Will took the couch. Breakfast was coffee and fruit and cereal, because David hadn't sorted out the cooking routine yet, but we all had a good time. At one point, Will said he had a suggestion for the interior decorators. We all looked at him, and he said, "Don't get me wrong, I love the colors and the look and the wallpaper and the furniture. But you might think about a love seat pull out bed thing for the study. Then you'd have some overflow sleeping room. My parents have one in the family room. I'm just saying so that you know the couch in the living room is fine to sit on, but not so great for sleeping."

David seriously thanked him, and we carried on. The highlight of the conversation was when it got around to Gary and Lois. We were quizzing him about the business, and he was so proud to tell us that half of the mowing customers had expanded into being landscape customers, meaning Gary and his guy were planting and maintain flower beds and were doing some re-landscaping for a couple of the customers.

"This thing's, for real, isn't it Gary?" David asked, in a very complimentary manner.

"Oh yeah, and if it keeps up at this rate, I'll have to hire someone else part time to get through the summer. If the landscaping keeps up all summer and Fall, that'll be great. Then in the Fall there's winterizing and pruning, and before winter cleaning rain gutters. We can grow this baby!"

I couldn't resist and asked if he'd been able to bump the profit margin up. He looked at me wickedly, grinning though, and said, "You know that's not happening till I can propagate my own plants. I'm working on it, Bro, so don't worry your little head about it."

I told him how far out it was that he was making the transition to landscaping happen cause there had to be more money in it than just mowing. He just wiggled his eyebrows. That gave me the opening to say it might give him enough income that he could afford to get married. Lois jumped in at that to let us all know that now that they had an employee, they had payroll and had to keep books and probably pay taxes, but that she could see what Gary was doing was working because the monthly billings were going up, and that was a good sign. That gave David the opening he needed to put them on the spot about when he would have the honor of marrying them.

They both blushed and sputtered and stuff, but when it finally all settled down, they both said they had seriously been talking about it, and talking to Lois' parents too, and were close. It was so obvious that no one was giving them a hard time and like quizzing them about sleeping together in the guest bedroom!

Lois started telling us that after seeing how nicely the re-decorating had made our house, that they'd talked about working on their house in Newberg in bed last night. David encouraged them to go for it, since we'd only done a kind of refresh after our Mom died, moving out the parent's stuff, but the furniture and décor was all the same. He told them they should spend some time on deciding how they wanted the house to be for them, and walked them through what Marcia had asked us about the vibe we wanted in the house, not just when we walked in, but also when guests came in. Lois was really smiling about that, and I knew they hadn't just started talking about it, but that she already had a plan!

We were all happy, talking away, and David subtly slipped in that since he was leaving active pastoral ministry come fall, he didn't know how long he'd be ordained, and that they should take that into account. I wasn't sure what he was saying, but I knew for sure he was trying to encourage them to get a move on.

It was Monday morning, and Will had gotten the day off from his Dad at the auto parts store, Gary planned to go in late, Tom and Lois weren't working, so there was no time pressure. Will and I washed the dishes after breakfast, and he asked if we could take a walk and talk. I poured everyone a little more coffee, and told them Will and I were going to take a short walk. Everyone was cool and kept on talking. David raised his eyebrows.

We got less than a block before Will put his arm on my shoulder and hugged me. I grinned and said "Yeah, what's doing?" as I leaned into him. He hugged me again before he said anything.

"You were right. I called Red. Actually, his name is Kevin, and I called him after we all had our talk a couple of weeks ago, and he acted so happy that I called him. I was blown away, he got so happy over something so simple, and I wouldn't even have done it if you hadn't kicked me in the ass about it. But anyway, we talked about summer and the BMX race schedule and rankings, and then planning for the race last Saturday. Neither one of us placed at it. It was a mixed meet and there were some killer riders there. But anyway, it was cool because we got to spend some time together."

I did a David. "And?"

"And, you know we talked and kidded around during the day, but I'd done what you suggested about offering a ride, and his parents brought him to the race, but they had stuff to do back in Salem later in the day, so I ended up giving him a ride home. We loaded both BMX bikes in my car, one in the back seat and one in the trunk. Then we stopped for something to eat on the way down to Salem."

He was grinning now. "And? Come, on! I can see it on your face. Tell me?"

"Well, we like each other a lot, I know that, and we talked a lot and stuff."

"What do you mean 'and stuff?' Don't do this to me. Come on, give it up."

"Well, what made whatever happened happen was because of you."


"Well, you suggested calling him, and that got us closer and stuff, and you suggested I give him a ride."


"Well, what happened next was because of you too."

"Why are you doing this to me? You're killing me, man!"

He was grinning, but still had his arm around my shoulder. We'd gone a few blocks now, turned west toward the river, and I could see the water and a park down there. We turned again heading south, kind of making a circle back to the house.

Will kept going, "So, we're talking while we're eating, and I could feel the vibe. I just wanted to reach out and stroke his face, or even just hold his hand, but I hadn't seen anything that let me know he wanted that. Anyway, I told him I wouldn't be at the next race, the one yesterday, because I was helping my best friends move into Portland."

I looked at him like 'go on!"

Will said, "He asked me why that was more important than a BMX race that including season rankings?"

Will knew he was starting to make it painful, so he rushed on. "I told him that the people moving were my two best friends in the world, and that they were boyfriends and they were getting out of small-town Newberg and moving to Portland, and I'd give up Christmas before I wouldn't be there to help."


"Yeah, wow. Anyway, he went silent. He just looked at me. Not staring, like being hard and cold, but looking, like processing and trying to understand. His eyes can get really penetrating when he looks at you like that. I just looked back. Finally, he said, 'you just said they're your best friends and that they're boyfriends?' I nodded and told him they're the best people in the world and they love each other in such an amazing way, and I hope someday I can have a relationship with someone like they do."

Will was quiet for a minute after that. We were three blocks from home by then, so I waited for him.

"He kept looking at me, and finally said, 'Do you mean what I think you mean?' It was kind of amazing because I wasn't afraid. Go figure, me, not afraid about this. But I wasn't. I just told him they're gay, and I'm bi and because of that I can understand and envy their relationship, and on top of that I know true love when I see it, and I'm going to be busy moving my friends next weekend because that's way more important than a fucking bike race!"

I stopped and turned him towards me, my hands on his shoulders. "You said that to him? Like that?"

He nodded.

"Then what?"

"Well, it took a minute, but then it was like I could see all his defenses fall or something. Suddenly instead of this cool but kind of distant and macho BMX racer, there was just this really cute redhead who was smiling at me and was kind of stuttering but finally said, 'I, I…I'm going to try and tell you…you're so honest about yourself that it blows my mind. I, I…I'm so hung up when it comes to talking about myself, but I, I mean, I'm…I'm gay and I'm so glad you said that. I've never had a serious relationship and I just didn't know what to do. I'm Irish Catholic and my family is like really religious, and it's like totally out of bounds, like not something you can even talk about outside of confession. And then, you know, the whole BMX thing is supposed to be so macho and stuff, but I've known I like guys for a few years, and I really like you. I've been hoping that something was possible, but if you're a serious Catholic like me you're not even supposed to have those thoughts, but I do, and you know how hard it is to start.'

He just sat looking at me, kind of like in amazement, then he reached across the table and put the fingers of his right hand on top of my left hand."

"And? Geez, Will, you've got my blood pressure all high now."

"You won't believe this. I looked down at his fingers and it felt like magic, and then I told him that you suggested we stop somewhere on the drive home and watch the submarine races!"

"You didn't'?"

"I did, and he cracked up, like lost it, he had tears in his eyes he was laughing so hard. Then he said, 'So you told your best friend about me?' And I said 'yeah,' that I really liked you and didn't know what to do and that's when you'd suggested the submarine races. After he wiped the tears off his face he said, 'Guess what? On the way home we'll pull off I-5 so I can show you St. Louis Ponds. They're some really cool naturally occurring ponds half-way to Salem. My Dad used to take me there fishing."

"No way!"

"Yes, way," and then he looked at me real hard, with a smile and said, 'last time I was there I remember seeing a submarine."

"No shit!" I turned and looked at Will. "No shit, he picked up the line just like that?"

"No shit. And guess what? He's a really good kisser. Like right up there with you."

"Like you've got lots of guys to compare me with! Still, Will, that is totally far out. So that was last weekend? Then what?"

"Well, we've talked on the phone a couple of times, and he was at a race yesterday. He had to go to Mass today with his family. He's still living at home this summer, till college starts and he moves to a dorm, so he has to do the whole family thing. His Mom goes to Mass every day, so that's kind of scary. Anyway, I'll talk to him tonight or tomorrow. It's pretty cool."

"It's way cool. You know you guys can come here, right? I'm not being pushy or anything, but we were serious when we said that. I mean it looks like we've got people staying every weekend this month, but we're also trying to go hiking a couple of times a week, so maybe you guys could come up for something like that and stay over? Would that be cool?"

"That'd be way cool. Maybe we'll have to come up with a reason to go to a specialty BMX bike shop, like Bike Gallery, and then stop and see you and David and go for a hike, and it'll be too late to drive all the way back to Salem!"

"Work on it, man, work on it." We were back at the house and walked in to see Gary and Lois getting ready to leave. Will and Tom left in the early afternoon, and we spent the time doing some more unpacking and then organizing the kitchen and finally cooking our first meal on the O'Keefe and Merritt stove.

The next week was running down and buying the rest of the furniture we needed, like a kitchen table, a couple of bureaus for our room, a dresser for the guest room, a desk, some end tables and a coffee table. David had added a pullout love seat for the study, and we found one of those too. The list went on and on. I was amazed, having grown up with all of it in place. David was kind of surprised too, but whenever I asked hm if we were doing Okay on the budget, he'd say something like we're fine, so I had to take his word for it. I knew Gary wouldn't be paying me for my part of the Newberg house for a long time, but I also knew that when he did, it would go into our pot, the money for our life together.

The amazing thing was that by the first week of August we had all the major stuff done. The house was officially furnished. We were living in it and it was comfortable. We'd transferred our routine too, so most mornings David was first up and if we didn't lay in bed playing huggy-kissy, he'd get right up and head off to the kitchen to start the coffee, we'd have breakfast and then decide what was on for the day. Two days in I realized this was the closest thing to a vacation I'd ever had, and the best part was that it wasn't at Disney Land or Sea World, it was here, where we lived. It was us, with time to be together and build our lives.

One night that week we had Carter and Marcia, that is Prof. and Mrs. Higgins, over for dinner. It was the least we could do after all they'd done for us. They arrived with a bottle of nice wine, and Marcia was so classy, acting so restrained, and not a bit of letting us know she'd done this or organized that. She was all about how it was our home and how pleasant it was to be there and share in it. I learned a lot from being around that woman! David was cooking his chicken breast finished with sour cream, and I did the salad. We served it with rice and some green beans and sautéed mushrooms on the side. They both oohed and aahed, but it is amazing how great the flavors are for such a simple recipe.

Over dinner Carter asked me about classes for Fall semester and what prep work I was doing? We both knew it was a joke and kind of a set up since I'd had a thing or two to do for the last month! When we were done giggling, he suggested I come by his office sometime soon and we'd look at the Fall class schedule, talk about classes, and what I could be doing to get organized in advance. He also said he'd introduce me to the choir and glee club director.

I was amazed! Who had teachers like this, I mean other than Susan, but she was a special case because she and Ellen are in a relationship, like we are. But it was so upbeat and encouraging to have a teacher care like that. I hadn't taken Susan for granted last year, but now I knew a little more about how Gary felt about his relationship with Prof. McFall at the community college. We'd asked Susan and Ellen when they could come and visit, and it wasn't possible for them with vacations and stuff until the end of the month. Gary and Lois were coming next weekend, and the weekend after that Michael and Jane were flying out from Philly for a few days. Suddenly we were in the entertaining business! Then it would be Labor Day weekend and the start of school!

It was the first week of August with only a month to go till class started, so I'd called Prof. Higgins and we arranged a time to meet on Monday, which worked great because we'd hoped to do two hikes that week on Tuesday and Thursday, and David didn't have his meeting with the Director of the Vocational and Student Ministry for a couple of weeks.

We talked for a little while about the move, living in the new house, how enjoyable dinner had been and then turned to what he called "the subject at hand." He started out by asking me if I'd read and remembered the College's mission and purpose statement? I felt a little flustered, and told him I'd read it when I completed the application, but couldn't remember the details. He smiled and told me that made me much the same as most new students! Then he spent a few minutes recapping it about how the college is concerned with the whole person, body and mind, and that the mission was to help students meet their full potential to themselves and society. Doing so included providing a solid foundation for lifelong learning, develop student's awareness in major academic areas so that their evaluations and judgments would be valid, by doing so to assist in self-knowledge and developing a philosophy of life, and so that all taken together the student would excel in their major area of study and be positioned for a successful career and to be an active and valuable citizen.

He asked me what I thought? I told him that was a lot more than I remembered from reading the application guide! He laughed at that, he actually laughed, and then told me it is a lot more. It was his interpretation of what they were about, and he wanted me to understand that it was about a lot more than just going through the motions of learning a bunch of stuff so as to take exams and get good grades and then go out and get a job.

We were quiet, because he'd had his say and I didn't know what to say. He smiled then, and said "All it really means is that we're serious about helping all our students become all they can be, to achieve their full potential. That includes academic rigor, but that's not all of it by far."

I smiled hoping this wasn't a setup. It wasn't. He went on to share a little about whey he wanted to have this conversation, namely that he'd grown to appreciate and like David as a friend, and that was happening with me, and he wanted to make sure I got off on the right foot. I told him a little about having been a poor student during the bad family times, but how that had changed once David was part of my life, and then when my so-called father had been taken out of it.

He smiled again, and said he understood a lot of that, and he didn't need to know more. What mattered was that I'd had the opportunity to do much better during my senior year of high school and I had, and he wanted to help me continue that trend. We talked about what I'd said the other night at dinner about either helping kids or teaching, and said that was commendable, but wanted to stress that I was starting my first year at a very good liberal arts college, and I should spend that year taking a wide variety of courses, sort of to round out the education, but also to expose myself to a broader range of coursework. Who knows, you may decide by the end of this year that you'd rather go into mathematics or pre-med!

I almost cracked up on that one, and he smiled too, and said, "You know I'm kidding, but you get my point, don't you?"

We then talked about the first semester offerings for Freshmen, that included English Composition, Modern or Classical Language, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, History, Literature, Philosophy and Communications.

He smiled at me. "There's eight choices, and you get to select between four and six depending on the number of credits per class. What do you think? Which five are you going to try and enroll in?"

We talked about how I'd had a year of English Lit and Psychology my senior year in high school, and he said there was no need to repeat those. That got the list down to six. I'd also had World History and Spanish, and his mind that eliminated History. He went on, that left Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, History, Philosophy and Communications plus Music since I had a Choir scholarship and that would extend to Glee Club.

I told him that all made sense, and then he dove into the details. Like in Natural Sciences, what classes from among Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physics and Mathematics. I found out Chemistry and Physics would only be required if I selected a Science major or minor, and we agreed Biology should be among the first-year courses. On the Social Sciences front, since I'd had a lot of Psych, he said it was a personal choice between Poly Sci and Sociology. The intro Communications class had a broad format and was good for every incoming student, and likewise the intro to Philosophy class would ground me in the fundamentals of philosophy.

It was suddenly dawning on me that this would be a lot of course work, as in more than I'd had to deal with last year. When I asked him what I could do to prepare, he said go to the bookstore and buy the textbooks for the classes I wanted. Read the introduction and first chapter or two to get a sense of the material. If it turned out I was unable to enroll in that class this semester, I could return the book for full credit. It was a simple and painless way to get ahead of the quarter start, and it simply hinged on deciding what the preferred classes were ahead of time!

When we were finished, he walked me to the building next door and introduced me to Robert Atkins, who was the choir director. Prof. Higgins left, and Prof. Atkins sat me down in his office and we talked music. It was pretty informal, but he was mainly trying to understand my background. He had the letter of recommendation Susan had written, and we talked about her choir, the performance we'd done, the music selections and all that. Then he asked me what other musical activities I was involved in. He had a smile on his face when he asked that question and I was immediately suspicious.

So, I asked him why he'd ask that since this was about choir. He wasn't fazed at all. He was cool. He said Susan had called to talk to him, after I'd gotten accepted with the scholarship, and told him to ask me about singing in a rock band. I rolled my eyes and grinned. Then I told him the bigger question was really about her. He looked at me like "what's that mean," and I told him about the choir director coming over to Will's parent's garage to coach a rock band learning a new David Bowie song. He thought it was really funny. Then he quizzed me about the rock band, the songs we covered, and what I'd sung. He said it was important to understand my performance range and comfort level. I explained about missing my junior year in choir, but that Susan felt I'd more than made up for it last year. All in all, it was a positive conversation and I really liked him and his approach.

He explained that the choral music program at Lewis & Clark aimed to provide students with high-level choral singing experiences that build on their understanding of vocal technique, expand choral methods, and enhance understanding of vocal technique. He pointed out that there were two main choirs, the college mixed chorale that performed music from all eras as well as major choral works with orchestra, and the community choir is which was open to all students and faculty and required less in the way of technical abilities. In addition, there were Men's and Women's glee clubs. Since I had a music scholarship, I would be expected to participate in the Capella Chorale, the principal college choir, as well as the Men's Glee Club. The choir practice on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Glee Club late Wednesday afternoon. He asked if I was alright with that, and I told him that was more choir singing than last year, but I'd also had band practice one a week, so it probably would work out about the same.

I filled David in on the meetings over dinner that evening, then we headed into the living room for our book discussion. I must have looked excited, because he indicated I should go first, and I filled him in on how now the story changes place and new characters come into it. Specifically, a RAF pilot, named David, who became a paraplegic in a car crash on his honeymoon, and while the Battle of Britain is fought, he can't fly and becomes depressed and angry, and with his wife Lucy, move to Storm Island off the Scottish coast.

"So, he's unhappy and depressed and moves his new wife to a remote island? Wow, that doesn't sound good for the future of their relationship, does it?"

I told him it probably didn't, but that meanwhile MI5, the British intelligence, was pretty certain they'd captured or killed all but one of the Nazi agents, and were on a nation-wide hunt for The Needle, and that they'd got the name from monitoring his radio transmission. "Then the chase starts. MI5 recruits a history professor who knows German and Germans and they start closing in. The Needle is smart and sees it coming and splits, but after they interrogate the other apartment building residents, they have his identity from a photo."

"So, he's out of London and on the run?"

"Yeah, and they're hot on his trail. Now, speaking of hot on the trail, what's doing with the merry band of Hobbits? Did they make it to the inn at Bree?" I'm pretty sure I had one of those bratty smirk-smiles on my face, the kind David loves and hates at the same time!

"Well, Mr. Know-it-all-because-you've-read-the-book, Yes, they did. And on the subject of character introductions, we meet a major one because Frodo does something stupid and gets in a bar singing thing at the inn, and when he falls down the ring slips on and he disappears…to reappear under the table of Strider. He's this tall and scary looking warrior type. Do you remember that?"

"Well, I remember the Inn at Bree and meeting Strider, whose real name is Aragorn, right? But I'd forgotten about the ring bit. But that makes sense. That's how Aragorn figures out who Frodo is and that he's the ring-bearer."


"Oh, I probably shouldn't have said that. It comes later in the story. Right, now the hobbits are just getting the ring out of the Shire."

"That's right, and then it gets interesting because Aragorn saves their lives by telling them it's too dangerous to sleep in the Inn that night, and with a letter Gandalf left for them they know they're supposed to head for Rivendell, the realm of the Elves. And then later at the top of Weathertop hill, they get attacked by the Riders, and Frodo is wounded. But they all get away, chased by the Riders, and although Frodo's wound is slowing him down, they finally make it to the river ford to Rivendell, and Elrond, the master elf creates a flood that washes the Riders away."

I know I was smiling, picturing the Riders chasing the hobbits and then getting washed away in the flood. "Pretty cool, huh? Now that I listen to you telling me about it again, I realize I probably shouldn't have blown it off as childish fantasy when I first read it. It was probably the mindset I had back then."

"Could be," David replied, "but then it's get serious for Frodo, because after Elrond heals him, he convenes a Council and they tell the story of the Ring, how Sauron forged it, and that it's Frodo's call to return it to the only place it can be destroyed, the cracks of Doom in the Orodruin mountain within Mordor. You remember that Frodo wasn't so keen on the idea, like 'Why Me?' kind of response. But then the council chooses who will form the Fellowship, and Aragorn and Gandalf and the elf Legolas and the dwarf Gimli and Boromir are all chosen to join the hobbits. So, see, at that point I guess you can say that's when Frodo becomes the ring-bearer."

I put his book on the coffee table and swung around and put my head in his lap, and reached up and stroked his face. I know I must have sighed deeply, because he stroked my face and said, "What is it, Love?"

"It's nice doing simple stuff like this with you too. You know what I mean? We're hiking and moving into a new house and then doing stuff like this together is just so cool"

He smiled back at me. "It sure is, right up there with cooking and preparing meals, just living our lives together."

We paused, reflecting, enjoying the peace and joy of the silence. Finally, I said, "What do you like best about the book so far?"

I could see him give it some thought for a minute, and then he said, "Well, the story is coming together nicely, and the plot's been laid, and we know the characters, but I'm more and more impressed with Tolkien's command of the English language, the way he uses words."


"And, I'll give you an example. Right there in that Council that Elrond called, when Frodo is doing his 'why me' thing, Gandalf says to him: Such questions cannot be answered. You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess; not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have."

I told him I must be tired and slow, but he'd have to explain that to me.

"It struck me that Gandalf is stressing it's not because Frodo's so special, as in having great merit, or being famous or even powerful or wise, but because he's who he is. Sometimes fate brings events or tasks or persons our way that we might otherwise say we don't deserve or aren't capable of, but we have no choice. We have to rise to the occasion. And if we are whole and healthy, if we know ourselves, then we can use the strength and heart and wits we have and make the best of it."

That blew my mind. Now it was my turn to be quiet, thinking about what he said. Finally, I said, kind of quietly, "That means us too, doesn't it?"

He smiled and leaned over and kissed my forehead. "It does. It's like I told Will when we had that counseling session. If you'd asked me a year ago would I fall in love with a seven-teen year old brat, I'd have said 'fuck no!' Remember that?

I did and was laughing. He went on. "But there was this beautiful brat that I fell in love with and I sure wouldn't have said I deserved it or had any abilities to make it work. But for the first time in my life I was really true to myself and found I had the strength and heart and wits to prevail."

This had suddenly gotten serious. "You also told him that if I'd been asked a year ago if I'd fall in love with the new minister at church I'd have said 'fuck no' too, right?"

He nodded, and stroked my forehead, running his fingers up through my hair. "I did, but the same thing applies to you, you knew who you were and were true to yourself, and also found you had the strength and heart and wits to prevail. And here we are."

I was looking directly at him, willing him not to look away, and he didn't. Finally, he said, softly, "what's on your mind, Lover Boy?"

I smiled back. "You are, of course. All that talk about strength and heart and wits has gotten me horny. Will you make love to me, please? I mean really make love to me. Take me? Fuck me? Be my Sexy Man? There's nothing I want more in the world right now."

He was smiling as I said what I did, and I watched the smile turn into a grin, and could see a glint in his eyes as I felt his left-hand slip under my belt and his fingers begin to dance in my pubes. He made love to me like he was my Sexy Man. One hundred percent Sexy and one hundred percent Man!

That week we decided it was time to start what we'd been talking about for months, namely doing day hikes in the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascades. Our first hike was a no-brainer tourist version, up the Columbia River Gorge to Multnomah Falls. We were smart enough to get there early, but it was still crowded. It's only a two-mile hike, but the trail is way cool, the bridge in front of the falls is pretty neat, and the falls themselves are awesome. We talked to one of the rangers and he suggested while we were out and wanting to hike that we also do the four-mile hike to Double Falls, also known as Twanklaskie Falls. He said it was only a fifty-foot drop, but a really pretty hike. We'd brought some trail mix from home, but we were pretty hungry when we got back to Multnomah Falls Lodge, so had some lunch before heading home. It was a pretty neat first outing.

Out of the blue that week, Fred called the house. I'd forgotten that I'd met him in the Spring, but he acted like he was an old friend of David's and I handed over the phone. When they were done talking, I asked what it was about, and David filled me in on Fred being the seminary student he'd met while at the Star Wars and Mythology lecture, and that he'd come down to Newberg to visit us in the spring. That's when I suddenly remembered who he was.

It was a good thing too, because David told me we were having lunch with him on Friday at some restaurant in Portland.

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