I have not seen the galleries - can't believe what I've missed. And AMS was mind blowing. The amount of cock sucking and fucking in a 6 hour period is unbelievable.
I have not seen the galleries - can't believe what I've missed. And AMS was mind blowing. The amount of cock sucking and fucking in a 6 hour period is unbelievable.
Unfortunately the park was kind of dead when my best friend and I went up there that morning. We were actually on our way up to Vancouver, BC. Luckily the sun came out there, but in Seattle it stayed cloudy all day! We picked the best day to head to Canada!
I didn't get a chance to visit Volunteer Park (where the guys toss the Frisbee). There was just not enough time to fit everything in. However, next time I head to Seattle I'll make that a priority!
Without further ado...
We walk into the room, pulling our suitcases behind us.
I look around. "If it's possible, the room looks even more magnificent than the lobby."
"Then I guess it's possible. They weren't kidding when they called this place the best hotel in Portland."
"So, which bedroom do we get?"
"Hmm... We should obviously save the biggest one for Patrick and Damon, since they're the ones getting married and all. But after them, first-come, first-served?"
I point to one of the bedrooms on the right side of the suite. "How about that one?"
"Works for me."
We pull our suitcases into the bedroom and unpack a few essentials. We then head back into the living area to admire the view outside the window. The hotel is just a few blocks away from the Willamette River, and we have breathtaking views of the Columbia River, the Gorge, and Mount Hood.
James wraps his arm around my shoulder, caresses it a few times, then sighs. I turn my head to look at him. "What's wrong?"
He continues to stare out the window and into the distance. "Being here again just brings back so many memories."
"Memories of what?"
He takes a deep breath. "My first boyfriend lived in Portland."
A few more seconds pass before he continues. "His name was Jeremy. We met in Seattle. He came up for Pride, and he ended up standing next to me at one of the parades. That's how we met. That was about eight years ago now, I think. God, so much has happened since then..."
I rub his back. "You don't have to talk about it if you're not comfortable-"
"-No, no, no, it's OK. It's just been a really long time."
"Was it serious?"
"Oh, was it. I fell in love with him, hard. I mean, he was my first, so it was only natural." He sighs quickly. "After Pride, he went back home and we stayed up late so many nights and just talked - about everything. I went down and spent a few weekends with him. We eventually made plans for me to move in with him, and when December rolled around and I got a break from college, I put those plans into action."
"Yeah. I was about 20 at the time. Dad was a bit wary of the whole thing, but he sat me down one day and told me that I was an adult, and that I was responsible for making my own decisions. I felt a bit tense, but then he told me he brought me up the best that he could, that I had a good head on my shoulders, and that he knew the decision I was making was the best for me." He wipes a tear from his eye. "I think that's when he finally accepted me for who I really am. He was always uncomfortable bringing it up before that. It all changed in that moment. He told me he loved me and that he would always be there for me."
I take his hand in mine and squeeze it.
"So luckily he kept his promise. Jeremy and I eventually broke up and I moved back home."
"Why did you two break up?"
He turns to me. "Oh, I don't want to get into that right now. Maybe later. I'd rather focus on what I have right in front of me."
He leans in closer and we kiss a few times. He grabs the back of my head, pulls me closer, and we kiss more passionately. I move my hands down to his ass and massage and squeeze it as he lets out soft moans of pleasure.
James turns and leads me to the couch and we sit down. As we keep kissing, he places his hand on my knee and moves it higher and higher along my thigh until he reaches my cock, grabbing and massaging it through my pants. I shove my tongue down his throat and kiss him more passionately than before. We are getting so into it, I hardly hear the door unlock and open.
"Ooh, are we interrupting anything?"
James looks over at the door. "Not at all, Damon. Come on in." He smirks and whispers at me, "I guess we'll have to continue this later."
Damon and Patrick enter the room with many bags in tow. James and I get up and walk over to help them; I hold the door while James helps carry their bags in. Freddie, Charles, and Hadim follow suit.
"How was the drive?"
Patrick sets his bags down near the couch. "Oh, the usual. Tie-ups in Seattle and crossing into Oregon."
James snorts. "I didn't know you were into being tied up."
Everyone chuckles. Damon retorts, "I guess there's a lot we're going to be learning about each other this weekend."
James points out which bedroom we've already taken, and we help the guys move their bags into the other three bedrooms. Once they're all settled in, we head back to the living area and sit down. James cuddles up next to me on the couch, while Freddie sits next to us. Hadim, Charles, Damon, and Patrick all sit in chairs on either side of us.
Patrick turns to James. "So how was your drive in?"
"Well, Brad did the driving. I talked to Paul."
Everyone is genuinely surprised to hear the news. After a few seconds, Charles chimes in. "What brought that on?"
"He had started calling and asking for me at work, over and over, every single day. I kept refusing to talk to him, but Dad convinced me to call him back. I truly didn't expect what was coming."
Everyone sits in silent anticipation, until Hadim speaks up. "And? What was that?"
"That he's actually been gay this whole time, and that he cheated on his wife, who then ran away with their kids to Illinois."
Everyone's jaw drops.
"And that was my reaction."
Damon sits with a puzzled expression. "How are you not in hysterics right now?"
"Honestly, I don't think all the news has sunken in yet. It's way beyond anything I could have expected. One thing is for sure, though - I am definitely in need of a drink. A strong drink."
I chime in. "Like one of my 'world-famous lemon drops'?"
"That would be amazing, babe. Can you make me one?"
"With what? I didn't bring any ingredients."
"No-" A devilish grin washes over his face. "-But I did. They're in my suitcase."
I smile and shake my head, then walk inside our bedroom and open his suitcase to find all the ingredients for making lemon drops. So that's what I heard rattling around. I grab everything and head into the kitchenette.
Charles eyes me as I walk in. "Damn, James - you save any room for clothes in that suitcase?" Everyone laughs.
While the guys continue conversing, I set everything on the counter, then turn and search through the cabinets until I find the glassware. I grab a martini glass and set it on the counter. I collect some ice out of the freezer, shake up enough lemon drop for James, and pour it into the glass. "Order up!"
I walk over and hand the drink to James. He takes a sip. "Perfect. Thanks, babe." He turns to the guys. "I swear, these will be the death of me."
I sit back down next to him.
Patrick leans closer. "That looks delicious. Mind if I try some?"
"Sure, Pat. Go ahead."
James hands the glass to Patrick, who takes a small sip and sets it back down. "Damn, these are good. James, this one is a keeper."
James chuckles. "Thanks, Pat. I'm glad you think so."
Patrick smiles and winks at me.
James continues, "All right, guys, enough about me and my dysfunctional family. This is your weekend. You're getting married!"
Patrick and Damon laugh excitedly and everyone has smiles all around.
I ask, "What time will the rehearsal and dinner be tomorrow?"
Damon answers, "So the plan is to have the rehearsal at 5 and have dinner around an hour or two after that."
James places his hand on my shoulder. "Hey Brad, do you want to try on Charles's suit tonight to make sure it fits?"
Patrick responds, "Yeah, that's a great idea. One less thing to worry about tomorrow before the rehearsal."
"Sure, I can try it on tonight."
Charles stands up and heads for his room. "I'll go and grab it for you." We wait for a few seconds until Charles returns with the suit. "Here you go."
"Thanks. Can you head to the bedroom with me, James?"
"Absolutely. We'll be right back, guys."
James and I head into the bedroom. He sets his drink on the nightstand and lies back on the bed while I take off my regular clothes and pull on the suit - shirt first, then pants, and finally the jacket. It's a remarkably good fit.
"What do you think?"
He makes a spinning motion with his finger. "Turn around. Let me get a good look at you."
I do as he says, then stop to face him again.
He stands up and takes my hand. "You look so stunningly beautiful, Brad. You're gonna look great on Sunday."
We embrace, and then kiss as we pull away. He says to me softly, "I'm pretty beat. How about we show the guys the suit, and then head to bed?"
"Sure. It's about time I got into a horizontal position."
We walk out of the bedroom to show off the suit to the other guys, who cheer and wolf whistle at me as I step out.
I walk over to Charles and place my hand on his shoulder. "Thank you so much for letting me borrow your suit."
"Think nothing of it. I'm glad it fits you so well."
James speaks up. "Well guys, Brad and I have been through a pretty exhausting day. We're going to go turn in and we'll see you tomorrow."
The guys wish us a good night. James takes the final sip of his drink, and then we head back into the bedroom.
I take off the suit and carefully hang it up in the closet while James takes off his regular clothes. We go through our regular nightly routine and crawl under the covers.
"James, I have a question for you."
"Do you ever think about being here with Jeremy from time to time?"
He sighs. "Yeah. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. He and I were in love, after all. We did lots of things together here. Even though it's been several years since he and I have broken up, he still holds a special place in my heart. I hope he's happy wherever he is."
"And are you happy? Right now?"
He brushes my hair with his hand. "Of course I'm happy right now. How could I not be?" He leans down and kisses my cheek. "Are you?"
"Never been happier."
He wraps his arms around me and we hug tightly. As we pull away, he whispers in my ear, "Pleasant dreams."
I roll over and he spoons me from behind. We drift off to sleep.
Amazing update! Definitely worth the wait. Further look into James past relationships. I think it will be interesting to find out why James and Jeremy broke-up. Kind of surprising James opened up that much about his prior relationship now, with what had just transpired with his brother. This was a very emotional time for him.
Good update, and as vater said, worth the wait
Looking forward to part 45
How wonderful to return from a week away and find our guys settling in for the wedding. Vater is right. It will be interesting to delve deeper into James' past. There is a bit of mystery surrounding his and Jeremy's breakup. Excited and anxious to read more, AG.
The next part is written! I've been incredibly busy as of late, but have seemed to conquer my writer's block and finished out Part 45. It just needs to go through proofing before I post it. I kind of surprised myself; it's MUCH longer than any of the other parts I've written. In fact, it's almost twice as long as the longest part I've written so far. So, when I get around to posting it (hopefully sometime during this week), you may want to devote a bit more time than usual if you want to read it all in one sitting. I believe it will be very captivating, so make sure you leave plenty of time!
Pleased to see that there is another chapter almost ready - eagerly awaiting its publication
Awesome story. I love your writing style, so easy to read and the story line keeps you wanting more.
Keep up the good work. Hope to see the next part soon.
So, since I wrote much more material than normal, I've decided to split the next part into two. The first part is ready and will be here momentarily. The next part I hope to have finished up for you guys by the end of the week. I feel I should keep the parts within a length you guys are used to, so that's why I decided to post the next part in a "two-part series" if you will.
Thanks for the comments, and happy reading!
Aaaaaaand I will make you wait no longer!
I stir awake from the feeling of James caressing my chest. I turn my head to look in his direction.
He cracks a smile. "Good morning, cutie."
"I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing you say that."
"I'll never get tired of saying it." He brushes my cheek, then continues caressing my chest and plays with my nipple. "How'd you sleep?"
"Pretty well, I guess, considering how exhausted we both were yesterday." I open my mouth wide to let out a yawn.
"You look like you could use something to help wake you up."
He suddenly slides his hand from my chest down to my morning wood and begins stroking me vigorously. I gasp from the sensation, but his hand feels amazing. I can sense myself very quickly getting close - not surprising, considering we haven't messed around for a few nights. Right before I climax, James rolls over on his side and shoves his tongue down my throat, and we passionately kiss, which pushes me over the edge. After my own orgasm subsides, James lies flat and finishes himself off.
I turn to him. "When you said 'something to help wake me up', I wasn't quite expecting that. I was imagining something more along the lines of coffee."
He smiles at me. "Coffee certainly doesn't have the same effect."
"You're right about that."
We kiss again for a few seconds before heading to the bathroom to shower and get ready for the day. We get dressed and head out to the living area.
"Mornin', sleepyheads," Charles greets us as we make our appearance. It looks like we are the last ones to get up.
"Good morning," James replies back.
Hadim is sitting at the counter. "We ordered some fresh fruit from room service and there's coffee in the pot."
Freddie remarks, "It's all organic!"
"Grand!" I grab a few pieces of fruit and pour myself a cup of coffee - well, with the way I drink coffee, it's more like a cup of milk with just a few drops of coffee and lots of sugar. James follows my lead and starts grabbing some fruit and a cup of coffee.
Patrick turns our way. "How'd you guys sleep?"
James answers him, "Very well, thank you. The bed is very comfortable."
I nod in agreement. "This whole hotel is magnificent. Thank you so much for inviting James and me to stay with you guys."
"No, thank you for being here with us. You guys are great company; we love having you around."
Damon remarks, "Yes, but we need to get a move-on. Busy day ahead."
* * * * *
After getting dressed, the seven of us pile into two cars and head to the church. We find parking spots and head inside.
A man and woman are standing near the altar, talking to a minister. They are all in their fifties, perhaps sixties. The woman frantically waves her arms around as she speaks. "Now, you will make sure to follow the exact order of events I've provided to you, yes?"
The minister looks timidly at the woman. "Yes, ma'am. I'll be sure to." The minister glances our way, which prompts the couple to do the same. The woman raises her arms in the air, almost hitting the minister with her left hand. "Boys!" The three then begin making their way to us.
I whisper to James, "Who is that crazy woman?"
Patrick overhears me and answers, "That would be my mother."
"Oh." I feel my cheeks starting to burn. "Sorry."
He chuckles. "Don't be."
The minister and Patrick's parents reach us. His mom hugs Patrick and Damon and smothers them with kisses. "You boys look so handsome!"
"Er, thanks, Mom. What are you and Dad doing here so early?"
"I have to make sure everything will be perfect for tomorrow!" She pinches Patrick's cheek. "Only the best for my wonderful son."
"Thanks, Mom. I appreciate it. I want you to meet some of my friends. This is James, and this is his boyfriend, Brad. James and Brad, this is Olivia, my mother, and Troy, my father."
James and I begin to reach out to shake Troy and Olivia's hands, but they both open up their arms and hug us instead. "We're pleased to meet you boys. Any friends of Patrick and Damon are family to us."
Patrick looks at Damon. "Are your parents on the way?"
"Yep. They should be here in about 10 minutes or so."
The minister speaks up. "Well, while we wait for them, is there anything else we need to go over for the ceremony, Mrs Johnson?"
"Oh yes, Minister! Now that I have the two future husbands here, we can find out how everyone should stand so that the light hits them in just the right way. Follow me, boys!"
Patrick and Damon walk behind Olivia, Troy, and the minister up to the altar. The rest of the guys and myself find seats near the front of the church and watch as Olivia positions everyone, even the minister, a few inches this way, and then a few inches that way, until everyone is exactly where she wants them. It's hard for me to stifle my laughter, but I manage somehow.
We hear the doors at the back of the church open and see another man and woman enter. These must be Damon's parents. They rush up to the front of the church, and the guys all stand up to greet them.
"We're so sorry we're late."
Damon hugs and kisses his mother, then shakes hands with his father. "Nonsense. We only just got here a few minutes ago ourselves."
Patrick greets Damon's parents, as well. Damon then introduces James and me to his parents, Barry and Geraldine.
The minister speaks up. "Now that everyone is here, Patrick, Damon, are you ready to do the run-through?"
Patrick answers him, "Yes, Minister, I believe we are. Mom?"
"We're following you!"
Patrick, Damon, Troy, Olivia, Barry, and Geraldine make their way to the back of the church. A few seconds later, an organ starts playing, and I just about jump out of my seat. I look back and notice an organist perched up on a balcony way in the back of the church. I didn't know we'd be having organ music!
Troy and Olivia are the first ones to walk up the aisle. When they reach the front, they stand to the left of the altar. Barry and Geraldine follow and stand to the right of the altar once they make their way up. Everyone stands as Patrick and Damon walk up, and we all sit as they meet the minister at the front and the organ music comes to an end.
"Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the joining of Patrick Johnson and Damon Brown in holy matrimony. Marriage is the utmost and deepest commitment two people can make to one another. Patrick and Damon have decided to be united in that commitment together, and have chosen to do so in the eyes of their families, friends, and God." He then looks at Patrick. "Do you have your vows ready?"
"Yes." Patrick then looks straight into Damon's eyes and takes his hands. "My dearest Damon, there is no one else in this wide, wide world who I would want to marry more than you. You have been by my side through my happiest moment and my darkest hour. If it weren't for you, I don't know where I'd be today. I probably wouldn't be here at all. You have given me so much, without asking for anything in return. But I am ready to give my life, my love, myself, my everything to you."
"Patrick, I have never felt closer to anyone else than I have to you. You have taught me so many things about myself, and you bring out the best in me. You showed me that I can love and care for someone else when he needs it most, to put someone else's needs above mine, and that I'm strong enough to stay by your side in the best times and the worst times. My greatest wish is to experience all that life has to offer with you by my side."
The minister speaks up, "And now for the rings."
James rests his hand on my thigh. I take his hand in mine.
Patrick pretends to slip a ring on Damon's hand. "Damon, I give this ring to you as a symbol of my love and devotion. I ask that you wear it in remembrance of this day, our life before, and the many years to come."
The minister looks at Damon. "Damon, do you take Patrick to be your lawfully-wedded husband, to love and honor him in everything he does, to be honest with him, faithful to him, and to remain by his side, until death do you part?"
"I do." Damon then slips an imaginary ring onto Patrick's hand. "Patrick, I give this ring to you as a reminder of my undying support and love for you. As you wear it, always know that I will continue to love and support you, no matter the circumstances."
"Patrick, do you take Damon to be your lawfully-wedded husband, to love and honor him in everything he does, to be honest with him, faithful to him, and to remain by his side, until death do you part?"
"By the power and authority vested in me by your friends, family, all those who support you, and God, I now pronounce you husband and husband. I invite you to kiss each other and take your first steps as a loving, devoted, and married couple."
As Patrick and Damon embrace each other and kiss, the organist starts playing again, and we all stand and applaud. Patrick and Damon hold hands as they walk to the back of the church, followed by Barry and Geraldine, then Troy and Olivia, and finally the minister.
As the organ music dies down, I turn to James. "Wow, those vows! They must really love each other."
He chuckles. "They fucking better - they're getting married tomorrow!"
* * * * *
We say our goodbyes to Troy, Olivia, Barry, and Geraldine after a very filling and enjoyable rehearsal dinner, and the seven of us head back to the hotel. James and I go to our bedroom to change out of our suits.
James walks up to me and starts undoing my tie. "You know, Brad, you look absolutely fucking handsome in a suit."
"I'm glad you think so, because these shoes hurt. It's almost like wearing high heels."
He laughs. "You've worn high heels?"
"I don't make a habit out of it, but I have been known to be in a drag show or two."
"Won any awards?"
"Well, then, I hope you can stand to wear the suit at least one more day."
I smile at him. "I think I can manage."
"Good. Now let's get you out of the rest of these clothes." He continues to undo my shirt, and then my pants.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Sure, Brad, what is it?"
"Patrick and Damon's vows to each other seemed really deep and profound. Why? What caused them to be so devoted to one another?"
"Umm..." James pauses, and then takes a deep breath. "That's probably something you should ask them."
"Oh, I hardly know them. I'd feel uncomfortable bringing it up."
"Well, let's go out there and I'll bring it up, and they can fill you in on everything."
"Yeah, and if it'll make you feel better, I'll make you a lemon drop."
I give him a kiss. "How can I say no to that?"
He winks at me. "You can't."
We continue taking off our suits, get dressed in regular clothes, and join the rest of the guys outside. James mixes up a lemon drop and hands it to me, then sits next to me on the couch.
To be continued...
I love it. I can just see Olivia guiding and directing this wedding as though she had been nominated for an Oscar. I'm sure this is fairly common for the minister, as it should be. Weddings need to be perfect. The vows are inspiring and as Brad says, really deep.
But here we have a bit of new trivia about Brad.....wearing high heels and being an undefeated winner as a two time drag personality. How fun it that?????? Serve me up a lemon drop, AG.
You keep expanding the dimensions of your story and inserting subtopics to explore at a later time. You keep impressing us with the story line itself and the quality of the writing. Thanks for your commitment to "Brad" and to our enjoyment and entertainment. Drag? What the fuck was that? Oh well, As the World Turns!
^Thanks Craiger and truxtun! I appreciate your comments, as always. The drag thing - not sure if that's going to turn into anything more than a little factoid about Brad. The story goes wherever my typing fingers take it at the time. I like to keep it interesting, but I hope I strike a good balance with those extra dimensions. Sometimes I lose interest in stories that leave too many threads unraveled.
The next part will be ready for posting tomorrow. Until then!
James turns to Patrick. "So, Brad wants to know more about you and Damon."
"Sure, Brad, what would you like to know?"
I give James a mean look. "Thanks for making this easy for me."
He winks at me. "You're welcome, babe."
I take a large sip of my lemon drop, and then look back at Patrick, who is patiently waiting for me to continue. "I was just blown away by how solemn and deep your vows were to each other. I'm curious and want to know more about how you two have gotten so close."
"Of course, we'd be glad to share our story with you." He looks at Damon, and they grasp each other's hands. They seem like they've told this story quite a few times. Patrick starts, "I knew I was gay and came out at a pretty early age - it was around seventh or eighth grade if I remember correctly. My parents probably knew that I was gay even earlier than I did. They always accepted me. That was part of the problem, that they were so nonchalant."
I finish taking another sip. "How could that be a bad thing?"
"Well, I developed a pretty big crush on one of my classmates in high school - a big crush. His name was Adam." Patrick gets a dreamy look in his eyes. "He was tall, kind of a dirty blonde, played football... and he was straight-"
Damon butts in. "Of course."
"-So, he found out - everyone found out - and I was ridiculed, harassed, called names, the whole nine yards. I fell into a depression, and then eventually I found Damon." He squeezes Damon's hand. The two look at each other, then Patrick looks back at me. "He hadn't come out yet to anyone else, but he saw how much I was struggling, and we became really good friends. He even had a bit of a crush on me as well, right honey?"
"Oh my God, did I. Of course, Patrick didn't want to have anything to do with me romantically - he was still way too infatuated with his straight guy. Heaven knows why..."
Patrick shrugs and smiles. "I guess I just really wanted what I couldn't have."
Damon nods. "That must have been why I was so into you at the time. You were in love with someone else, but I just wanted to rush in and fix everything for you." He looks at me. "I couldn't bear to see him that sad. I had to wonder: If this is what I'm going to have to go through, I'm never going to come out of the closet. I wanted to make everything better so that I could believe things could be better for me when I came out."
"But they didn't get better - at least not back then. The harassment continued. I couldn't turn to anyone, not even my parents. Though they accepted me, they didn't think the bullying and name-calling could be as harmful as it was. They thought I was overreacting. I couldn't confide in anyone other than Damon, but it started getting to be too unbearable for him to take it all on."
Damon sighs. "I tried. I tried to be there for him, but I fell in love with him hard. He would always turn down my romantic advances because he still had a crush on his straight guy. It was so difficult for me to be a friend and listen to him and give him advice when I wanted so badly to hold him, hug him, and kiss him. It got so hard for me that I eventually had to put a stop to it and say goodbye. That's the one and only time it happened, and it will never happen again."
I take the last sip of my drink. "What happened next?"
Patrick takes the story from there. "After he called off the friendship, I was left with no one at all. The bullying continued, my parents never took me seriously, and I could not turn to anyone else. I was all alone, and my depression got worse. I had nowhere to go. I ran all out of options - except for one."
I covered my mouth. "Oh God."
"After coming home from school one day, I went to the bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet, grabbed the first pill bottle I saw, and swallowed everything inside."
Silence pierces the air while the gravity of Patrick's story sets in. James places his hand on my shoulder and takes the empty martini glass from my hand. My other hand is still covering my mouth.
"Another drink, babe?"
I nod, but remain focused on Patrick. He takes a deep breath and goes on. "Next thing I remember, I woke up in a dark room with odd colored lights to my side. I was in the worst pain imaginable, but I could distinctly feel an itch on my arm. I moved to scratch it and noticed something attached to it. I realized it was an IV, and that the colored lights were part of a vitals monitoring machine. I was in the hospital."
I am awestruck. "So the doctors must have gotten all the pills out of you."
"They did. The pain was from the stomach pumping. I'm really glad I wasn't conscious when they were doing that to me."
"So who found you?"
"Damon? I thought he cut off his friendship with you."
Patrick looks at Damon, who continues the story. "Earlier that day, I don't know why, but I had a very compelling desire to talk to Patrick. I don't know if something within me wanted to be friends with him again, or to see how he was doing, I don't know - I was just driven to talk to him for some reason.
"I went over to his house after school the same day he overdosed. His parents worked on the other side of town, and wouldn't be home for a few hours, so Patrick was the only person who could open the door. I knocked and knocked, and after he didn't answer, I started banging loudly and begged him to open the door. He never responded, of course, but something inside me told me to try the doorknob. I thought it was foolish; both of us always had a habit of locking the door when we got home. But I tried it anyway. And it opened.
"I called out to him. 'Patrick, Patrick!' No answer. I looked in his bedroom, and when I noticed he wasn't there, checked the bathroom, and saw him on the floor, with the empty pill bottle in his hand."
James returns with my drink and sits next to me.
Damon goes on. "All that had happened during our friendship - the longing desire to be with him, the unreturned romantic gestures, all the hurt - it all just went away. I wasn't angry or sad at him anymore. I wanted to - needed to - be his friend again, needed to be his source of support. I was shocked for a few seconds, but knew I had to act fast. I grabbed the nearest phone and called 9-1-1 and told them what was going on, and the only thing I could do until they arrived was lay down next to Patrick, hold his hand, and keep telling him, if he could hear me, to hold on and not let go.
"The time seemed to pass slower than ever, but the ambulance got there and the paramedics took over. I had told the 9-1-1 operator where Patrick's parents worked, and they had already gotten in contact with them and they were on their way home and got there minutes after the paramedics. There was only room for Patrick and one other person in the ambulance, so Olivia went with him and Troy took me in his car and we followed the ambulance to the hospital.
"They had to wheel Patrick into the emergency room, and there just wasn't enough space for Troy, Olivia, and me to be with Patrick at the time. We all hugged each other and they just kept telling me how brave I was and thanked me for how quickly I acted."
Patrick speaks up. "And all three of them stayed at the hospital until I woke up in that dark room. After I realized where I was, I saw three dark figures sitting in chairs. I was a bit scared because I had no idea who they were at first, but after I had a bit of time to clear my head, I realized Damon was there along with my parents. I called out to them a few times, and they woke up."
I look at Damon. "Oh my God. How was that like for you when he woke up?"
"I seriously thought I would never hear him speak again - once when our friendship fell apart, and now this. When I heard him call my name, I can't explain to you the feeling of happiness and relief I had."
"So all three of them get up and stand next to me and are just so ecstatic that I came through and was OK, even though I was in a hell of a lot of pain. I got hugs and kisses from my parents, but Damon still kept his distance. My parents decided to give Damon and me some time to ourselves to talk in private, so they walked out of the room."
"I didn't know how Patrick would react to my being there. We hadn't spoken in so long. He asked me to come closer to him, and he reached out his hand, which I took in mine. He looked straight at me and told me he was really glad I was there. I told him I was really glad he was alive. I told him I found him on the floor and was the one who called 9-1-1."
"I felt so guilty that I had inundated him with so much of my drama, and now here he was being my hero and saving my life. I told him how sorry I was for everything that had happened between us, but he just-"
"-I just told him to hush and that none of that mattered anymore. The only thing that mattered was that he was alive. And then, I don't know what came over me, but I leaned down and kissed him on the lips. Right after I realized what I had done, I stood straight up and apologized for kissing him, but I wasn't apologizing for long, because he reached up and pulled my head back down, and we kissed again."
Patrick wraps his arms around Damon. "And we've been kissing ever since!" They then kiss each other a few times and hug tightly for a few moments. James grabs my hand and squeezes it.
After Patrick and Damon break their hug, I speak up. "Thank you guys so much for sharing that with me. I have so much of a better understanding of why you love each other so much."
Damon looks at Patrick. "I almost lost him once; I don't want to lose him again."
Patrick nods. "Neither did my parents. Ever since that day, they really began caring about how the others in school were treating me, and they made sure to support me in everything I did. They have gone to great lengths even with this wedding. My mother can be quite overbearing at times, but it's only because she wants to make sure she shows me how much she really cares now. Dad, too."
Damon continues, "So, you can obviously see why I've chosen to get my PhD in psychology. My friendship with Patrick made a great impact on me, and it taught me that what I really want to do is help others overcome their most difficult challenges."
"The world needs someone like Damon. No one needs to go through what he and my parents went through that day. But, as tough as that day was, it brought all of us so much closer together, and I'm really glad it happened."
Damon looks at Patrick. "So am I. And tomorrow I'll be marrying the man of my dreams!"
Patrick smiles. "Oh, and who is that, babe?"
We all laugh as Damon playfully punches Patrick's shoulder. "You, silly!"
James stands up as I finish the rest of my second drink. "Well, guys, I know we have a long and eventful day tomorrow. We should all get our beauty rest - especially you two."
Patrick speaks up. "Yes, I was just thinking the same thing. Telling that story always takes a lot out of me."
Damon kisses Patrick's cheek. "But I'm so glad you're still alive to tell it."
Patrick kisses him on the lips, then looks at us. "Have a good night, guys; we'll see you in the morning."
James and I retire to our bedroom and get ready for bed. We both take off all of our clothes and crawl under the sheets.
I wrap my arm around his shoulder and place my hand on his chest. "I don't know what I would do if I ever came home to you lying on the floor after overdosing."
He looks up at me. "That's not something you ever have to worry about. But if that ever did happen, there would be no one I'd want at my side more than you."
I lean down and kiss him. "I'm really glad they're getting married tomorrow. If anyone deserves it, it's them."
He nods. "You're right. Those two found love out of the worst circumstances. Just goes to show you anything is possible."
"You have a great group of friends. I really appreciate you for introducing them to me and for bringing me here."
"Of course! Now, save all that sentiment for tomorrow. We need to get to sleep."
I chuckle. "All right. I love you, James."
He turns to me and kisses me. "I love you, too, Brad." He turns back around and I wrap my arms around him and we fall asleep.
That was an extremely touching chapter, AG. So much to show that fate steps in when least expected and the veil of love can be lifted exposing the true soul mate. Too often that is not the case, however for Patrick and Damon it seems the stars were in the correct alignment.Thanks for that inspiring chapter.Craiger
Enjoyed reading the last 2 updates
The side story of Damon/Patrick got together was quite intense
lovely 'story within a story'
Wow! Just wow.
I was so excited to post that last part I forgot to include the occasional music video that goes along with some of them... Whoops!
(You may want to turn down your volume a bit - the beginning of the video is kind of loud.)
Tenishia feat Chris Jones - Memory of a Dream [Unplugged Mix]
I join your other readers, I was blown away by the latest chapter. Powerful storytelling. And you've neatly tucked away still the bombshell that James' brother unleashed. Still looking forward to the full story on that one.
The lean, mean, writing machine is back! (Well, I don't know so much about mean...)
After months of on-again, off-again writing, I've got some new material for you finally!
Also, I've done this in some previous parts, but it's not a very common literary technique, so I thought I'd explain it a little bit to help eliminate confusion. The topic is multi-paragraph quotes, where something a character says spans more than one paragraph. This page I found helps explain it, but in essence:
Blah blah blah blah blah, let's get to the story! More to come soon!Say a narrative was describing two or three people engaged in a lengthy conversation. If you closed the quotation marks in the previous paragraph, then a reader wouldn’t be able to easily tell if the previous speaker was extending his point, or if someone else in the room had picked up the conversation. By leaving the previous paragraph’s quote unclosed, the reader knows that the previous speaker is still the one talking.
The lack of closing quotation marks is a convenient clue for the reader that the quotation goes on beyond the end of the paragraph.
The addition of quotation marks at the start of each paragraph within a multi-paragraph quotation ensures that a casual or forgetful reader is reminded that the paragraph he is reading is (part of) a quotation, which he might not otherwise notice if he starts reading at the beginning of the paragraph, not at the beginning of the quotation.
The added starting quotation marks are in a way inconsistent; but the disadvantage is merely aesthetic, while the advantage is functional, and function rightly trumps form here. The inconsistency does not appear to be confusing in any way.
All of us go to a late Sunday brunch at a very nice restaurant in the Pearl District. Troy, Olivia, Barry, and Geraldine join us, and we have a great time making small talk and getting to know one another. It turns out Troy and Olivia both work at the same real estate office. I can see why Patrick went into real estate as his career. Barry runs his own software business, and Geraldine helps him out with the customers and accounting. He and I certainly had a lot to talk about.
We all head back to the hotel, with both sets of parents in tow. We sit and keep talking while Patrick and Damon go into their bedroom and change into their suits. They emerge and are looking very sharp.
Patrick bursts out in song. "All right, everyone! We're going to the courthouse and we're gonna get ma-ah-ahrried!"
Both sets of parents hug and kiss their sons and sons-in-law-to-be, and all of us congratulate them. As they head out the door, Damon looks at us excitedly. "Next time you see us, we'll be married!" Such a weird thing to say, but that's the world we live in. With that, they are out the door.
The rest of us head to the church to make sure everything is in order for the reception. Two bartenders from Freddie's bar arrive minutes later with enough liquor to put a few elephants to sleep. Hadim and Charles start inventorying all of the food to make sure we have a full buffet. James and I help out wherever we can. Some members of Patrick and Damon's extended family arrive too.
After some time passes by, we get a call from Patrick and Damon. They are now officially married! While they're on their way back from Vancouver for the ceremony and reception, we take care of a few last-minute things, and make sure the minister and organist are ready for when they arrive.
Troy, Olivia, Barry, and Geraldine wait for Patrick and Damon outside the front doors of the church. The rest of us sit right up front, and the minister and organist get into position.
James rests his hand on my knee. "This is quite the wedding."
"You can say that again."
"Do you envision your wedding being this elaborate?"
"To be honest, I didn't think I would have ever had the chance to walk down the aisle."
"Why do you say that?"
"Just because I've been in one failed relationship after another. I didn't think I'd ever meet a guy worth marrying."
He tilts his head. "Do you still think that?"
I turn my head in his direction and give him a kiss. "Of course not. You've helped me to believe that's possible again."
He smiles and squeezes my thigh.
I continue, "What about you? What do you envision your wedding to be like?"
"I've always wanted a smaller kind of ceremony. I wanted both of my parents to be there, but of course that's not possible anymore. And having my brother there is probably still out of the question."
I gaze into his eyes. His expression turns to one of slight confusion. "What?"
"Do you think we could work as a married couple?"
He smiles. "Absolutely. I'm very willing to give it a try. If I didn't think it could work, I wouldn't be sitting right here next to you."
Right as he kisses me, Patrick and Damon arrive at the church, and the organist begins playing. The sudden music startles both of us. Just as rehearsed yesterday, Troy and Olivia make their way up the aisle, followed by Barry and Geraldine, and, finally, the now ironically just-married couple. Boy, the hoops we have to jump through as gay people.
Once everyone is in position at the front of the church, the ceremony goes according to plan. The minister opens, and Patrick and Damon exchange their vows and their rings. We all erupt in applause the moment Patrick and Damon kiss. Their smiles are beaming as they hold each other's hand and practically skip down the aisle to the back of the church. Both sets of parents are just as ecstatic as they make their way down the aisle, following Patrick and Damon.
The rest of us head out of the church and make our way to the reception. Hadim and Charles spring into action, making sure all the food is ready, while Freddie and his team of bartenders start making drinks.
Patrick and Damon appear, and we all erupt in applause again. They walk up to a microphone that's set up through the PA so everyone can hear.
Damon begins, "Thank you all for being here. This is a very special day for Patrick and me, and we appreciate each and every one of you for coming.
"As many of you know, Patrick and I met in high school, and even though it took a while for us to realize it, we were meant for each other. We spent the next sixteen years loving each other more and more with each passing day. Now, we're thrilled to be able to call one another 'husband', and we cannot thank you enough for your support every single step of the way."
Patrick speaks up next. "To our parents, we couldn't have done it and we wouldn't be here without all of your love and support. We also want to thank our most amazing friends; without your help, none of this would have been possible." He then turns to Damon. "But what I'm most thankful for is you. You’ve never given up on me and you continue to amaze me with your capacity for love. I can't wait to see what the next several decades have in store for us, and I wouldn't want to go through them without you by my side. I love you, babe."
"I love you, too."
With that, Patrick and Damon kiss, and the reception hall echoes in applause again. They step away from the mic and we all grab food and drinks and visit amongst each other. James and I get to meet more of Patrick and Damon's extended family. Everyone seems so accepting and supportive of their relationship. That's something I've almost taken for granted, but I know James hasn't had it that easy at all.
Hours and hours of food, drinks, dancing, toasting, and conversing later, the reception comes to a close. Patrick and Damon head back to the hotel, presumably for some post-wedding bliss. The rest of us help clean up and pack away all the leftover alcohol. When we're done, we head back to the hotel, pack up, check out, and begin our journey back to Seattle.
And we have the wedding, and a delightful one as well. Brad and James also are opening up to the energy that this romantic event has caused. What will the future hold for them? I have my suspicions....and they are warm and fuzzy. The support for Damon and Patrick is phenomenal. If only everyone had the same. Thanks, AG, the wait was worth it and anticipation of what's to come is stirring........
Hey AG - so good to have your return to the story. Just like Craiger, your loyal fans will always be here awaiting your next installment. Thanks for continuing the saga of James and Brad........
Hi AG...Great to see the update! It was most definitely worth the wait. As Truxtun and Craiger both said an awesome update very nice to have the wedding take place.
Night falls before we get back to Seattle. We make our way back home along with the rest of the post-weekend traffic. We get home, bring in our suitcases, and collapse on the bed. Even though we both had a very enjoyable weekend, we are exhausted, but we muster up enough energy for a quick little romp beneath the sheets.
Since my car is still parked at work, James drops me off there in the morning. We make plans to meet up for lunch, and he kisses me goodbye and drives away.
I head up the elevator and see Eric in his office.
"Hey, Brad. How was the wedding?"
"Very touching. I haven't been to many weddings, but I don't think I've ever seen two people as in love as they are, even after sixteen years."
"Wow, they've known each other for sixteen years and they waited this long to get married?" He then gets a sheepish look on his face as he realizes what he just said. "Sorry. I guess that's something I've never had to think about."
"Don't worry about it, Eric. James and I had a great time, but I'm ready to be back here and wrap up the rest of this project. Have we heard anything from the client?"
"Yeah. That Wednesday date you picked works perfectly for them. They'll be coming in sometime that morning. Let's all meet this morning to outline what we still need to get done to prepare for that."
The rest of the team members make their way in, and we all go over what we have left to do. Everyone's about as stoked as I am to get this project finished. It's taken up a lot of our time, but hopefully we'll feel it's been worth it after we meet with the client.
I spend the next few hours doing development and testing, and watch the clock as it ticks closer and closer to lunchtime. James texts and suggests a place to eat nearby, which sounds good to me. I leave a few minutes after and meet him there.
After we place our sushi order, I look at James. "So, how's your Monday going so far?"
"How's my Monday going? You want to know how my Monday is going? As soon as I show up at the office, Dad comes to me and says, 'Paul called me late last night, and you will never believe what he told me.'"
"Did he shit himself when you guessed right?"
"Just about. We're both still a little in shock, but I've at least had a few days to process the news."
"What does he think about everything?"
"He definitely wants Paul to come see us soon. It's not doing him much good just sitting around and waiting for the investigator to get back to him."
"That's true. Has he made a decision on when to come down?"
"Not yet, but Dad is going to talk to him again tonight, and maybe they'll get something set up."
"Gosh. I wouldn't want to be going through what Paul's going through right now. I wouldn't want my husband leaving me like that, kids or no kids."
James takes my hand. "If it were me, I'd never leave you like that. Life can be hard to predict at times, but I can guarantee you I'll always be willing to make things work no matter what situation we'd find ourselves in."
I squeeze his hand. "Thanks. That means a lot to me. And likewise. I'm not one to give up easily. I'd rather work things out, too."
"Good." He smiles at me. Our lunch arrives and we make small conversation while we eat. We finish, pay, and get up to leave.
James hugs me and plants a kiss on my cheek. "I'll see you home tonight, cutie."
* * * * *
The rest of the workday goes smoothly. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with this project. I'll be so glad when it's over.
I get home and am surprised to see James isn't home yet. He's usually home before I am. I head inside and text him to see where he is. He responds, letting me know he needs to catch up on a few things at work, but that it won't take long. He asks if I'd like him to cook salmon tonight. Delightful!
I tidy up the house a bit and relax until I hear the door open and him step in. I stand to greet him with a kiss.
He sets his stuff down on the counter. "How'd your day go, babe?"
I sigh. "All right, I guess. We suggested a meeting date to our client, and they said 'yes'. They'll be coming in to see the demo in about two weeks."
"Damn. That must make you feel excited."
"It does, but I feel nervous, too. Everything needs to be perfect for that demo."
He gives me a reassuring look. "Brad, I know you can pull it off. You're a very smart and talented guy. They've got the best person working on this project."
I feel my cheeks turning red. "Thanks." I kiss him again.
"I don't know about you, but I'm starving. How about some fish?"
"That sounds wonderful."
"It's going to taste wonderful, too."
He walks to the kitchen while I put on some soft music. Dinner doesn't take long to make, and soon we're enjoying the delectable dish he's prepared. After cleaning up the kitchen, we lie down on the couch and relax, taking comfort in each other's arms. We find ourselves nodding off, so we head upstairs, get ready for bed, and crawl under the sheets.
"Thank you for cooking, babe."
"It was my pleasure, cutie."
We kiss one more time, then he rolls over and I wrap my arms around him. What a great start to the week.
* * * * *
I get to work the next day and pop myself in front of a screen - well, three screens - for what I plan to be several hours, programming the last few features of our project and testing every tiny thing to make sure all will work impeccably during our demo.
Before I can even load everything up on my computer, my cell phone starts ringing. It's James.
I pick up. "Hey babe; what's going on?"
"I just wanted to let you know - Dad just told me he spoke to Paul last night and convinced him to fly up here for about a week."
"When is that supposed to happen?"
"Paul just bought a ticket for this Friday."
"Wow, that was quick!"
"Yeah, I know."
"How do you feel about him coming over?"
"I'm a little nervous. I think it'll be good for us to see each other, sit down, and talk through some things, but I have a feeling a lot of the past hurt is going to come right back." He sighs. "Paul needs to be around family anyway. He doesn't have a lot of support where he is now."
"Anyway, Dad and I will pick him up at the airport when he comes in. Would you like to meet us at Dad's house after work on Friday?"
"Are you sure you want me to be there on the first day he's here?"
"Sure. Paul even said he wants to meet you. I think the sooner he sees a happy, successful gay couple, the sooner he can believe that he can find someone and be happy, too."
"All right, Friday it is. I've got to go and get started on my work here."
"OK, Brad. I'll see you tonight."
With that, we hang up.
At lunchtime, I meet up with Gary and Harry and fill them in on everything that has happened since we last saw each other. They're just as surprised to hear about Paul's true nature as James and I were. I also tell them all about the wedding and the history between Patrick and Damon.
Harry speaks up. "So Gary, when are you finally going to ask Gina to marry you?"
"I've actually been thinking about that a lot. She and I are planning a week-long getaway to Toronto sometime in the spring. I want to go down to Niagara falls one day and propose to her there."
Harry chuckles. "Oh, that is so predictable."
I butt in. "Who cares? That sounds like the perfect romantic setting. There's beauty in the nature all around you. You and Gina can appreciate that beauty, as well as the beauty in the love you share with each other. I'd love for James to plan something like that. I can't think of a better place."
Gary looks at Harry. "See? He gets it."
I turn to Harry. "So how's your romantic life? Did you go on any dates over the weekend?"
"I went on a couple, but I don't know if I could see myself with any of them. I have a few more lined up this week and weekend, so hopefully those turn out better."
"I'm sure they will."
We wrap up lunch and I head back to the office to stare at screens and tap on keys for a few more hours.
* * * * *
Friday rolls around - the day that Paul flies into town. James didn't sleep too well the night before. He is a bit nervous about seeing his brother after years and years of not speaking to him. I would be, too.
James texts me in the afternoon while I'm at work and tells me that Paul landed safely. James and Willie are taking the rest of the day off to sit down with Paul and catch up on everything.
Near the end of the workday, Eric, the teams of developers and testers, and I hold our end-of-the-week progress and planning meeting. We have our work cut out for us for the week after, and we have a nice weekend to rest and relax before getting back into the grind. We end the meeting, and I pack up and hop in my car, destined for Willie's house.
Somehow I don't think it will be a very relaxing weekend.
Paul's arrival will make for an interesting weekend for sure. It's good that James, Willie and Paul had their meeting before Brad gets there. Hopefully the comfort level at Willie's will be good. It was good catching up with Gary and Harry as well. Poor Harry -- I wonder if he will ever settle down. If he doesn't fairly soon he will have to take on the title "Bachelor Man." That's similar to "Old Maid".....
At least Gary has some romantic plans for he and Gina. Fun chapter, AG. Can't wait to see how everything goes in meeting Paul.
With your creative gift, AG, you should have a good time developing this brotherly reunion.
Interesting? Yes. That's about all I'll reveal at this point...
We'll see if romance is in the stars for Harry. Poor guy - he hasn't had much luck, huh?
Very nice to see not just 1, but 2 more parts added to the story! thanks for the update
deff will be interesting to see what happens with Paul
I pull up to Willie's house. Wow! If you thought James's house was impressive, this place puts even the Portland hotel to shame. Why didn't I go to law school?
I get out and walk up to the front door. I can feel my heart beating faster and stronger as I get closer. I really don't know what to expect. Will Paul like me? What have the three of them talked about so far? What are they going to do about Paul's kids?
I feel myself starting to turn into an ice cube. I ring the bell.
James answers the door. "Oh good, you're here. Dinner's almost ready."
"Yeah, I decided to cook for all of us. Red beans and rice."
I step inside and he shuts the door. "A Southern dish?"
"That's right. Paul at one time got in with some Baptists in the South and fell in love with it."
"The Baptists or the red beans and rice?"
"Well, both at first. I'm sure you can figure out which one he tossed aside."
"Doesn't take a genius."
He pinches my cheek. "Even if it did, you'd still get it right."
Well, it sounds like things are going well so far...
We walk into the kitchen, which is almost the same size as my old apartment. James tends to the pots and pans on the stove, and I notice Paul and Willie sitting at a high-top table. As soon as Willie sees me, he stands up. I walk toward him and shake his hand.
Paul stands up next and shakes my hand. "You must be James's boyfriend. I'm Paul."
"Hi Paul. It's great to finally meet you. James has told me a lot about you."
An awkward silence fills the room for a few seconds until Paul continues. "I'm sure he has. He's told me a lot about you, too. You seem like a great guy."
"Thanks. James is a great guy, too."
"I know. I'm glad you have each other in your lives."
Willie pats me on the shoulder. "Take a load off, Brad. You've been working hard. What can I get you to drink?"
Before I can even open my mouth, James turns to us from the stove. "I'll get it, Dad." With a swift motion that can only come about from years of practice in the kitchen, he gives one final stir to the beans, places a lid on the pot, shuts off the heat, then grabs a martini glass and things to make a Lemon Drop.
I take a seat across from Paul as he speaks up. "James, you remind me so much of Mom with the way you move around the kitchen."
James begins pouring the ingredients into a shaker. "And you remind me of Mom for other reasons."
"Boys," Willie growls, a stern expression on his face.
James takes a deep breath, shakes the ingredients rather vigorously, then pours the resulting concoction in the glass and hands it to me. I don't think I've ever seen so much froth on a drink before.
He forces a smile. "You're welcome." He looks up at the others. "Dinner is ready."
We all serve ourselves a portion of red beans and rice and sit back down at the table. James and I sit on one side while Willie and Paul sit across from us.
Paul takes a bite and lets out a satisfying, "Mmm! James, this is delicious!"
James doesn't respond.
The next few minutes are tensely silent as we continue eating. That always seems to be the case anytime James and his father get together to eat, at least whenever I'm around. I glance up and share quick looks with both Paul and Willie. We can all tell that James is trying his best to be civil, but it's impossible to erase years and years of pain.
Willie finally breaks the silence. "So Brad, how are things going with your project?"
"Pretty well, actually. We're still ahead of schedule, and our client will be coming in about a week-and-a-half for a demo."
"It is, but that just means we'll start on the next project that much sooner."
"I would want nothing less than a long vacation after that sort of thing! You and James still planning to go to Denver afterwards?"
"Yes, as long as the roads are clear by then."
Paul speaks up. "You're not flying?"
"It's almost the same cost to drive as it is for two plane tickets. Plus, we're planning on taking some side trips along the way."
Paul continues, "So what's in Denver?"
"My mom lives there."
"And your dad?"
"He, er, died a few years ago."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that."
"It's OK. He was in the military, and even though I didn't get to see him very often, we were as close as we could be."
"And your mom's doing all right?"
"She is. She was actually up here just a couple months ago. She's a very strong woman, in every way you can imagine."
"Well, it seems like she did a wonderful job with you."
I feel myself start to blush. "Thanks."
James looks up at Paul. "You do realize he's already with someone, right?"
Paul gets a puzzled expression on his face. "What do you mean? I'm just trying to have a nice conversation."
"That's fine, as long as that doesn't involve flirting with my boyfriend."
"I wasn't flirting; I was just paying him a compliment."
"Well, find someone else for you to pay your compliments."
Willie looks at me with an I'm-so-sorry-you-have-to-witness-this expression, and then turns to Paul and James. "Stop it, both of you. Brad is sitting right there. How dare you pick a fight over him? James, Paul is well aware that you and Brad are together, and he is not trying to steal him away from you. He's just trying to be nice, something you should try for a change.
"You boys have been stuck in this pattern ever since James came out. Time and even space apart has not changed anything." He looks straight at James. "It took Brad to get you to call Paul. No matter how hard I tried, nothing convinced you, but I'm so thankful that Brad was finally able to talk some sense into you. I never thought I would see my two boys together again, never thought anything could have been done to fix things.
"Without Brad, you two would not be here right now, and might have never seen or spoken to each other again. I should be on my fucking hands and knees thanking him, and you should be, too. You and Paul are brothers. You're family. We're family. Brad included. Whether he likes that or not right now, he's a part of this just as I am and just as you and Paul are.
"Paul knows that he said some pretty awful things to you in the past, but that was fifteen years ago. He's willing to try to make things better. Give him a chance and stop being so hostile. He's not the same as he was fifteen years ago, and neither are you. Stop treating this like you're both back in high school. You're both grown up now; start acting like it.
"I am so sick of sitting back and being the nice guy. That's what got our family into this fucking mess in the first place. I'll be damned if I'm going to let it get worse, but if it does, at least it's not because I've sat back and done nothing about it.
"I love you boys. James, I know you love Brad. Why can't you find it in your heart to love Paul, too? How can you have such a warm heart toward Brad and a cold heart toward Paul? How is that possible? I don't think I will ever understand that. You boys loved each other when you were younger. Please, whatever we have to do, let's just go back to that. You boys are all I have left. Mom died when you two weren't even speaking to each other. Please don't let it be the same for me. Find some way to fix this between you two."
I had my head down the entire time Willie was giving his speech. I glance up and see him shaking. He looks at me with the most desperate expression I've ever seen on anyone, and then gets up and walks out of the kitchen, leaving me with James and Paul. That part he said about 'whether or not liking being a part of this'? Right now - not a huge fan.
Forever seems to pass until I hear Paul speak up. "James, as much as I'd like to, I can't undo the past. I made some horrible decisions, but I didn't know any better back then. I thought I was doing the right thing."
"Doing the right thing? By basically condemning me to Hell for what you thought was a sinful life?"
"Yes. I was so mistaken, so manipulated, so brainwashed. I've realized that, and-"
James cuts him off. "You think you can just come back home and expect everything to be back to normal? Back to what it was like before?"
"It can be, if we can just agree to be civil-"
James cuts him off again and begins getting more aggressive. "Fuck civil! You don't get to come back here and tell me everything is OK. After what you put me through? It took years for me to finally accept myself. Do you have any idea how hard it is to do that when your family doesn't support you?"
"I do now."
"Well, it's a lot harder when you're younger."
"Excuse me? You have no idea how hard my situation is. I know I didn't make things easier for you when we were younger, but I'm trying to tell you I understand how it feels and that I'm sorry for everything I've done."
"Well at least I'm not trying to make your situation any more difficult."
"But you are! I have nowhere else to turn. All I have are you and Dad. And you are the only one who really understands me - the real me. No one else comes close. Can't you see that? I need you right now."
James pushes his chair back and stands up, which startles me. "You need me? WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I NEEDED YOU?!"
"Nowhere. I was scared. I ran away."
"For fifteen years! My older brother - the guy I looked up to since as far back as I can remember, the guy I shared so many good memories with. You left me with no closure! Nothing! I had to spend all this time learning how to accept myself and convince myself that it was OK to be gay."
"I know that. I'm sorry. But I wanted to come back now."
"WHY, THEN? WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU BACK NOW?!"
"Because I still love you, James, and I want to see you happy. I have never stopped loving you."
"I NEVER STOPPED LOVING YOU, EITHER. CAN'T YOU SEE THAT'S WHY I'M HURTING SO MUCH?! YOU ABANDONED ME. FOR FIFTEEN YEARS! AND NOW YOU EXPECT EVERYTHING TO GO BACK TO HOW IT WAS? IT'S NOT THAT GOD DAMNED EASY!"
James walks over to the counter and faces away from us. He leans forward against the counter and takes a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself. I think about going over to him to comfort him, but think twice and keep my distance.
Paul takes a deep breath and stands up. "You're right, James. It's not easy. It hasn't been easy for you or for me. And this isn't going to be easy for any of us.
"I can't take back the past fifteen years. I'd give anything to do that if I could. But I can't. The only thing I can do is tell you that I love you, and that I finally understand how you feel and what you've gone through.
"I came clean, and my wife left me. Took the kids right with her. It finally clicked for me. I had no one. My one and only source of support was gone. Believe it or not, she kept me grounded. Grounded in an illusion, but still grounded.
"I realized I did the same for you - I was your support - up until you came clean to me. And my wife abandoned me just like I did to you fifteen years earlier. It finally hit me. It really did. The morning she left with the kids, I didn't know when they'd be back. I tried calling, over and over. Nothing.
"I kept convincing myself that she'd be back and that everything would be all right. That lasted almost two weeks, and then it broke. I broke. I broke down bad. I had been lying to myself, trying to hold this illusion up for such a long time, since before you even came out. Yes, I've known myself to be gay for that long. I tried so hard to bury it when I was younger and was doing a pretty good job of it. Hell, a wife and two kids later, I thought I was doing a pretty fucking fantastic job. But every once in a while I faltered and needed to feel a man's touch. I convinced myself as long as it didn't happen too often and I always went back to my wife and kids, I could keep this secret hidden and that my marriage would survive.
"So yes, even though it took me years longer and I got myself involved in a lot more shit than you did, I understand. We've both gone through the same struggles, experienced the same hardships, gotten tossed around by people we love, and were left with only ourselves to pick up the pieces. The only difference is you were always a loving brother to me while I failed you. I left you to fend for yourself when you needed me the most. I can't take back the past. The only thing I can do is try to make things better now. But I can't do that alone. I can't do that if you keep shutting me out of your life.
"Please don't make the same mistake I did. I feel horrible for that, and I know I don't deserve your love or your forgiveness, but I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me anyway."
Minutes pass. The room is so quiet, so still, that I can feel my own heart beating. And it's pounding.
James finally turns around, tears in his eyes. "I just want to stop hurting, Paul."
"Then be done hurting, and start loving."
James takes a deep breath, then walks over to Paul and throws his arms around him and pulls him into a tight hug. "I never stopped loving."
Paul hugs James back. "Me neither."
My own waterworks start, and I catch a glimpse of Willie. He must have seen the whole scene from a distance. He walks into the kitchen and wraps his arms around his two sons, and the three spend a long time holding each other. I stand by patiently as we all take this moment in - something I think all of us deep down wanted - needed - to have happen.
Oceanlab - Come Home (Michael Cassestte Remix)
Well, I think the waterworks started for everyone, AG, including me. Such an intense and telling chapter. Sometimes, in order to break a barrier, yelling and shouting has to happen. Getting the frustrations out in the open helps clear the path for forgiveness. Now it's time for James and Paul to mend completely. There will always be the hurt hidden in the recesses of James' mind, and he will still remember them from time to time, however, the future willingness to forgive will help continue to push them a little deeper. Thanks for such a wonderful chapter.
Powerful chapter. You know AG, we readers don't know how much the author takes from real life experience when he creates. This saga of love and torment could be 100% fiction, solely based upon your gifted imagination. Or, it could be based upon 10% real life experience, 25%, 50%, 100%. Whatever it is, it seems real to us and that's exactly what you want. Glad your back. Continue to love your work.
What a gem of a story! Very well written! I hope you share a new chapter with us soon!