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“Listen to me, Glen. If you don’t give up that bike, you’re going to kill yourself. You’re entirely too reckless—about everything. I don’t care. I don’t want you too—”
The man blanched and dropped the cell phone on the floor between the carrots and the tomatoes.
Nathan, who was just wheeling his cart into the fruit section not far away and had picked up an apple from a bin also blanched. His response was more extreme, though. He abandoned his cart, reversed direction, and disappeared around the corner of the bread aisle. He was sitting on a bench in the little park across the street from the grocery store when Gordon Drummond found and approached him.
“I’m sorry, young man,” he said as he came up to the bench. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. It’s just that you frightened me—no fault of yours, of course. May I sit? And, oh, here are the groceries you had in your cart. I saw through the front window of the store where you went off. Not far, so I’m afraid I’ve upset you. Please accept these as my apology for scaring you.”
What could Nathan do? The man was holding out a grocery bag to him—his groceries. And the man had bought them with his own money. Nathan looked at him and then had to look away. He was a very nice-looking man, handsome even. He was probably in his late forties or early fifties. Trim. It was clear he took care of himself. Tall and slim and distinguished looking. A professorial man, probably, just like Howard had been. Very much alike with Howard. Gray sideburns, but he’d kept most of his hair and it was dark, maybe with a few gray highlights, and cut expensively. In fact, everything about him exuded expensive and good grooming—and maybe slight tones of the effeminate. Professorial, just like Howard. That’s not what had given Nathan the most fright, though.
Nathan motioned for the man to sit down beside him. He was wearing expensive loafers. Not tennis shoes. That, like nothing else in a laid-back place like Key West, spelled well heeled and very proper to Nathan.
“I feel I must explain what made me react to seeing you back in the store.”
“No, it’s OK,” Nathan answered. “Thanks for buying the groceries, though. Let me pay you back.”
“I feel I must tell you. You see, I’ve just come from a therapy session, and I was told not to keep it bottled up.”
Nathan laughed. It was involuntary and more of chuckle, and he was mortified that he’d done it. He gave the man a stricken look and said, “Now I must apologize. You’ve been so nice, and I’ve laughed inappropriately. It’s just the coincidence of it. I’ve just come from a therapy session of sorts too—but with a bartender who should have been menacing but wasn’t, so mine was a lot less professional and expensive than your session was, I’ll bet—and I was given the same advice. To open up and talk about what’s upsetting me. And I didn’t leave the store because of you, it was because of something you said on the telephone.”
“Something I said on the phone?”
“Yes. You were talking to someone named Glen.”
“Yes, yes, one of my sons.”
“And you were warning him about riding his bike—his motorcycle, I took it.”
“Yes. He’s quite reckless and has gone all leather and all. He’s an adult, but a father still worries. The tattoos were one thing. But a motorcycle . . .”
“It was just so jarring, coming out all unexpected like that. You see I recently lost someone named Glen. He died in a motorcycle accident. And hearing you . . . it was a shock, that’s all. Not your fault at all. And I’m sorry. I don’t mean to distress you about your own son. Just because one Glen on a bike . . .” He tailed off in what he was saying, sensing that he was just spiraling down in what he shouldn’t be saying.
“What an unfortunate coincidence. I understand completely. A very good friend, was he?”
“He was my lover. In New York.” Nathan surprised himself. He couldn’t have said this in New York to most of his friends, let alone to someone he hadn’t ever really met yet. It must be the effect of the atmosphere in Key West that permitted him to say this to a stranger down here—to admit that he had a male lover. Of course, from the looks of this man and the way he carried himself—and because they were in Key West—Nathan pretty much assessed him as gay as well, despite having a son.
Nathan almost laughed again. Ralph had told him that Key West had that effect on gay men. “It happened three months ago and I just couldn’t shake it. It leveled me. That’s why I came down to Key West. Just yesterday. I’m considering moving here.”
“Ah,” the man said, obviously keying on the male “lover” comment.
For a moment Nathan was afraid he’d been too open, that he’d been wrong about this man, that he’d said something distasteful to him. Still, it seemed the man had moved a little closer to him on the bench.
“You can’t believe how well I understand that,” the man said. “I’m Gordon, by the way. Gordon Drummond. That’s why seeing you in the store back there rattled me so. Sorry, I’m not saying this well.”
“It’s casino oyna fine. Take your time,” Nathan said. “You were telling me what had upset you and here I swept in and told you my problem. Please, why did I upset you? And my name is Nathan. Nathan Thorne.”
“I’ve just lost someone too and am having trouble with it. A lover too. A young man. A young man as handsome as you are. There for the briefest moment, when I saw you, I saw my own Bo. He was blond too. Just like you. And I . . . I . . .”
He was suddenly wracked with sobs and collapsing in on himself. Instinctively, Nathan put an arm around his shoulder and patted his arm with his other hand, whispering how it was fine, that he should cry if he needed to. And he was tearing up too. Not sobbing like Gordon, but able to let the tears flow like he hadn’t been able to do in New York, where most thought that he and Glen had just been good friends and nothing more.
He wasn’t tearing up just for this suddenly somewhat effeminate—so much like Howard when he was under stress—and vulnerable man for his loss but also because of his own loss—for a loss Nathan had yet to fully come to grips with. That he hadn’t was a major reason he was seeking a change of location.
“I’m so sorry,” Gordon said, reaching into a pocket and bringing out a handkerchief and blowing his nose. Nathan watched him then very carefully refold it and put it back in his pocket. So much like Howard. So precise, slightly womanish. In a way that normally should put Nathan off, but, strangely enough, it didn’t. It made him feel protective. “I’d like to say that I don’t break down like this very often, but that would be a lie. I miss him so much, and I wear my emotions on my coat sleeve.”
So did Howard.
Without giving it a thought, Nathan put a hand under Gordon’s chin and raised the older man’s face. He had a wan smile on his face and the tears in his eyes made his watery blues shimmer. Nathan leaned in to him and tenderly kissed him on the lips, just as he did with Howard when Howard was being vulnerable like this. Gordon’s mouth instantly opened to him, returning the kiss, hungrily. In shock, though, he then pulled away.
“Oh shit,” Nathan muttered under his breath.
“What?” Gordon asked in a nervous voice.
“Sorry again,” Nathan said. “Another personal tragedy, I’m afraid, that the moment has wrenched out of me. You spoke of me reminding you of someone, and you remind me of someone as well. Someone other than the young man I’ve already told you about.”
“Me? I remind you of someone? Who?”
“My lover before Glen. Howard. He was very much like you. And in age too. I was with him for several years. A professor. My professor in acting school—and an older actor on the TV program I work on. I’m a TV actor, by the way. I play on the drama series The Pinnacle.”
“I thought I recognized you from somewhere. Maybe it was more from there than being identical to my Bo that caught my attention. In truth you are even better looking than he was, more sensual. Uh, sorry for saying that. My therapy sessions have a tendency to leave me more open and honest for several hours—before society can clamp down on me again.”
“I think we’re saying ‘sorry’ too much,” Nathan murmured. It drew a shy smile from Gordon.
“This professor of yours.”
“He died too. I was with Glen for less than a year. He was like a bright flame. I was with Howard for five years. He was steadier, more of a life’s partner. Cancer. It was cancer that took him. I had a year to adjust to that, though. With Glen is was just a fire blazing up and then totally extinguished in an instant.”
“And this professor, Howard. Was he your first? You first lover? I’m sorry. I shouldn’t pry like this.”
“No, that’s fine. No, no, he wasn’t my first. But that’s enough tragedies for me to spill out. I feel like I’m intruding on you.”
“Nonsense. I’ve never felt so . . . comforted about Bo. I can’t say that I’m sorry about this.”
“Or about me impetuously kissing you?”
“No. That least at all.”
It seemed like he wanted to say something else at the point but that he thought better of it. What he did say was, “But you say you were thinking of moving down here from New York.”
“Yes, I am. My role on the TV program has pretty well run its course, and I feel like I need a change of scene for a while. I plan on looking at places while I’m down here.”
“How ironic. I have been planning to move back to the Northeast myself. Maybe even to New York. I’m about to put my house here in Key West on the market.”
“You are? And I’m looking for a house. Maybe—”
“Oh, I doubt it’s for you.”
“I’d like to see it, though. At least as something for comparison. Is it large?”
“Four bedrooms and 2,800 square feet. It’s not far from here, on Georgia Street, the small two-block part near the Atlantic shore. Pretty big for Key West—and for a single occupant. Though I’ve had my sons visit frequently. And expensive, I’m afraid.”
“I’m canlı casino hoping to get two million, three hundred thousand for it. Sorry, real estate in Key West is extremely expensive.”
“I’d like to see it . . . don’t worry. TV pays outrageously well, and Howard left me well fixed. I’ll get nearly twice that for what I sell in New York. He left me an apartment on Central Park.”
“Well, we’ll have to make arrangements for you to see the house then.” He’d said that tentatively, like maybe they was moving farther into something here than Nathan intended. He didn’t want Nathan to think that he was forward, although his own mind was working overtime on his hunky young man on the bench with him. Nathan still had his arm around him, and the hand that had been on his forearm had dropped to Gordon’s thigh. Gordon couldn’t hope that meant anything, though. The young man was a blond god.
“How about right now? To see the house.”
They looked into each other’s faces, and both recognized some sort of decision having been made.
“And Gordon . . .”
“Sorry to say sorry again . . . but would you mind if I kissed you again?”
This time there was no “comforting” about the kiss at all. It was deep, mutually hungry, both men shuddering, trying to meld with the other.
It was a Howard kiss, and Nathan was feeling light headed.
Gordon’s house wasn’t far away. Nathan had an impression of a modernistic, white-columned carport splitting a bank of lush palm trees on either side. A side entrance corridor under a flat roof punctuated with skylights, with plate-glass windows overlooking a pristinely maintained meandering rock garden, led down a slate-floored pathway with what looked like a bedroom through a glass wall on the right and a long, lily-filled pond, rectangular in shape with white marble edges trailing along to the left. As they entered a light-filled living-dining-kitchen great room, with glass walls overlooking lush pocket gardens, Nathan glimpsed a long, narrow swimming pool and white-rocked patio.
“Where shall we start? What would you like—?” Gordon asked.
“Your bedroom. Let’s start with your bedroom. Or am I taking too much for granted?”
They were in a lip lock as soon as they entered the master bedroom, while they tore at each other’s clothes. Nathan fucked Gordon on the foot of the bed, with Gordon on his back, his legs spread by Nathan’s gripped fists and Nathan crouched over his torso between his legs.
With Howard, Nathan had always been the top. With nearly every other man, Nathan bottomed, but never with Howard. And not now either with Gordon.
Why was he doing this? Gordon seemed willing enough. Docile and like a woman, giving in to whatever Nathan wanted, accommodating him, thanking him in sobbing whispers for everything Nathan was doing. But Nathan didn’t go around fucking older men just because they’d cried on his shoulder as they embraced and Nathan plowed their asses. But maybe it was because of Howard. Carrying a bit of guilt about Howard. Maybe not being there for him enough, understanding enough, too selfish in that last year. Maybe being with Gordon like this, so easy, with Gordon accepting him so easily, whispering his gratitude so readily. Maybe it was bringing some closure with Howard.
When both had ejaculated, Nathan pushed Gordon up onto the bed and stretched against him and held him, while Gordon quietly wept into his shoulder, snuffling how good Nathan had been to him. What Nathan heard was Howard’s voice, though.
“Sorry,” Nathan whispered, but it came out in stereo because Gordon had whispered the same thing at the same time.
They both gave a little laugh, and Gordon relaxed in Nathan’s arms.
“I was so lost in you being like my Howard,” Nathan said.
“And I in your being my Bo.”
“We shouldn’t do this again.”
“No we shouldn’t.”
“I’ve taken advantage of your vulnerability.”
“Nonsense, Nathan. I feel like I have preyed upon you. Made you feel sorry for me. It’s been so long since I’ve had a young, virile body between my legs.” Nathan heard a little laugh.
“Well, I’m being a bit overdramatic. It’s only been since Tuesday that I’ve had a young man between my thighs, actually. There are several young men down at my gym who always need ready cash. But it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed the emotions I had with Bo.”
“We won’t be doing this again, though.”
“No we won’t.”
Was that a note of regret in both men’s voices?
Gordon continued. “In a few minutes I’ll get up and make us something for our dinner. You’ll stay for dinner, won’t you? A nice shrimp salad and French bread perhaps. And there’s a luscious bottle of Pinot Grigio in the refrigerator. Sorry, I always think of the domestic when I’ve been well fucked.”
“Yes, dinner sounds good. And I have to get a tour of the house. It’s a wonderful house—at least what I’ve seen of it so far. And so clean.”
“You’ll have to come back again. You’ll kaçak casino be amazed how much cleaner I’ll make it after you’re gone. Domestication after fucking and all that.”
“So, you normally clean on Wednesdays?”
They both laughed.
“And Saturdays. I also gym on Fridays. I’ll have to shut up, though. You’ll think that I’m a slut.”
“Whatever it is, it’s kept you supple. And I understand that nothing is too much in Key West. Your speaking of food, though, reminds me of another tragedy. Do you think you could bear just one more?”
“Yes. You’re going to tell me about your first lover?”
“No. Not this time.”
“Ah, that sounds nice—the suggestion that there will be another time. But what tragedy?”
“Those groceries you bought me. I think we left them back by the bench in that park.”
Gordon turned his face to Nathan’s and they kissed. Nathan gathered Gordon into his embrace, Gordon’s rump settled into Nathan’s groin, and Nathan entered him and slow fucked him again in a side split. This had been one of Howard’s favorite positions—nearly the only one his body had tolerated in that last cancer-ridden year.
Over dinner, eaten at the long island separating the kitchen area from the dining area, the two spoke of their lost lovers, often speaking at cross-purposes of their own loved one, but that not mattering. They were both getting out what they needed to talk about, what had been bottled inside them. And they were comfortable with each other, and both recognized that, even though they were into their second bottle of Pinot grigio and a bit hazy by the time Gordon remembered he had fresh strawberries and cream in the refrigerator they could eat for dessert.
“You know, some say that strawberries are an aphrodisiac,” Gordon blurted out.
They both looked up and their eyes locked. They both were wearing silk robes from Gordon’s closet and nothing else, and Nathan’s had fallen open as he slouched on the stool across the island from Gordon.
“We can’t have sex again,” Nathan said. “That was just a maudlin fluke.”
“Of course we can’t. You are much too young for me. And we’re virtually strangers,” Gordon said.
Nathan was on his back on the bed, and Gordon was straddling his pelvis, facing away from him and toward the door and riding the cock like he was astride a desert camel, when they heard the intake of breath and both of them snapped their heads up.
“Dad? . . . and Nathan?”
Gene Drummond was only standing in the doorway to the bedroom for a few seconds before he turned and disappeared.
Nathan recognized him immediately as the young man who Nathan had been fucked by and who he, in turn, had fucked throughout the previous night. But what was he doing here?
“That’s one of my sons,” Gordon said, as he quickly climbed off Nathan and padded toward the door. “But how did he know your name?”
“Did he really say my name?” Nathan asked, knowing full well that he had. “I don’t think so. I’m sorry. I’ll take my things and—”
But when Gordon got to the bedroom door, he just shut it and turned and came back to the bed. He remounted Nathan’s cock and continued with the fuck.
“There are no secrets between me and my sons on our sexual preferences and practices,” he murmured.
It’s slightly more complicated than that, Nathan thought, but he said nothing. He was panting hard and quickening in his stroking. He was close to coming. Gordon might be old enough to be his father, but he certainly knew how to suck a cock dry. He was almost as good at it as his son was.
They were finished and cuddling when the phone beside the bed started chirping. After Gordon concluded the call, he turned, leaned over and kissed Nathan on a nipple, and said, “That was my other son, Glen. He’s across the island. Was picked up on a DUI. I have to go see about bailing him out.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“Shush,” Gordon said, laying a finger on Nathan’s lips. “We promised to stop saying sorry. I’ll be a while, but please, please, please still be here when I get home. If only for the night, to keep this dream going, I’d like you to stay and sleep in my bed. Please.”
“If it means that much to you,” Nathan said. He lay there and watched Gordon dress and then waited to hear the front door shut before he rose, gathered one of the silk robes about him, and walked out into the great room.
Gene was sitting in a corner, slouched in what passed for a designer butterfly chair from the era of the fifties, the overall style of décor in the house, a glass of scotch in his hands. He pitched his face a bit forward and gave Nathan a hard look from under his eyebrows.
“Sorry, Gene. I didn’t know he was your father.”
“My father and my lover from last night, caught fucking in my house,” Gene growled. Then his face broke out into a grin and he whistled and cheerily said, “Sweet. How does the old man’s channel compare to mine?”
“I wouldn’t even begin to compare them,” Nathan said, the relief in his voice clear.
“I feel like a swim,” Gene said, standing up from the chair and starting to take his shoes off. “Dear old Dad show you the pool? It’s great for exercise swims. Fifty-five feet long. You join me?”
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