With This Ring
Published on Goodreads as part of the Love is Always Write Anthology
Jason looked at the older man standing across from him and wondered how they'd gotten to this moment. He'd grown up immersed in the vitriol his father spat over his ex-business partner, that Jason believed everything his father had said. Until Jason met the man himself, and found out that events weren't quite as his father had made them appear, and his soon to be husband, was nothing like his father had portrayed him to be.
Read With This Ring
Praise for With This Ring
“A marvelous story from start to lip-quivering finish!” Bookbee, Goodreads
“What a wonderful story! I'm a total sucker for romance and this story felt very romantic to me – the courtship and especially the flowers put a grin on my face.” Wendy, Goodreads
“I loved this, it was funny, sweet, sexy, and just wonderful. Really enjoyed the characters and how it covered such a long period of time from their first meeting to the wedding.” Rachel, Goodreads
“Very full and fleshed out with interesting descriptions of compute-eeze, restaurants, decor, and the mental anguish of both father and son.” Jerry, Goodreads
“What a wonderful story! I'm a total sucker for romance and this story felt very romantic to me – the courtship and especially the flowers put a grin on my face:” Wendy, Goodreads
“I'm crying at the beautiful happy ending!” Penumbra, Goodreads
Jason hated the trade shows, not so much because of the work that was involved. The requisite preparation for each show was exhausting—hours of late night planning sessions, customizing the software, splicing together unique Power Point presentations. And then there was the physical labor that was associated with the set-up and disassembly of their displays. But all these things were simply part of the job. It wasn’t any one of these things that Jason hated.
He hated the tension he felt with his father. Every single time they got close to another show, his dad would start getting edgy, snapping at everything Jason said. Every suggestion was challenged. Every attempt to please the man was futile. Jason felt frustrated and angry, and then he’d begin to get short-tempered himself.
There wasn’t any logical reason for his father to be so nervous about these shows. The company always did extremely well, usually netting three or four new clients and a plethora of prospects. He suspected there was more to the situation than what his father let on, but it was hard talking to the man. He was so closed-mouthed about everything.
Dad had been that way for the past ten years of Jason’s life, since Jason’s mother passed away when he was only fourteen years old. That had been a rough time for both of them, and it should have brought the two of them closer together. They were all the family each other had.
Instead of bonding with his son, Robert Mathers poured himself into his work. Jason never felt as if he was wanting for anything, at least in terms of material possessions and the basic necessities of life. There was always food in the house. Dad always made sure he got to school every day, monitored the progress he was making in his classes. Jason was clothed and provided for in every way a typical middle-American teenager would be.
But Jason’s dad had grown bitter. He’d become a bit of a recluse, singularly focused on his profession. It appeared to Jason that his father acted out his life like a robot, an automaton, mechanically performing the tasks that were required of him with no emotional connection to anyone or anything. Robert Mathers had died himself when his wife passed away, and now he existed as merely a shell.
The only time Jason’s dad really showed any emotion was when he was angry, and the trade shows seemed to be the one thing that pissed him off most. At least this one would be local. They wouldn’t have to travel, and Jason hoped that this would alleviate some of the stress.
He felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket, pulled it out, and saw it was his dad. “I’m here,” his father’s gruff voice came through the receiver.
“Be right down, Dad,” Jason said.
He hurried to gather up his belongings—one large suitcase and two laptops. The rest of the materials were already in the back of the van. Jason had loaded everything the previous evening, before leaving the office. He figured that would be one less thing his dad had to worry about.
“Jesus Christ, Jase,” his dad said as he opened the side door of the van to stow his luggage, “we don’t have all day. Get a move on!”
Jason rolled his eyes and exhaled, turning away so as not to look the man in the eye. Mentally he began counting, one, two, three… It was going to be a long day, and he didn’t want to start it with an argument. “Sorry,” Jason said, “but don’t worry, Dad. We have lots of time. The setup for the show doesn’t start til 10:30, and it’s only 9:15.”
“Well, if I gotta go somewhere late, I’d rather not go at all.” It was pointless to argue with him. Jason climbed into the passenger seat.
“Don’t forget, we have to swing by the printers to pick up those brochures.”
“I got the brochures yesterday,” his dad said. “Didn’t you pack them?”
“Um…nooo. How was I supposed to know you’d picked them up? I definitely would have packed them, if you’d just told me.”
“Oh for God’s sake!” his dad shouted. “Now we have to go ten miles out of the way and backtrack to pick the fucking things up from the office. I wish you’d get your head out of your ass.”
The office was actually 3.8 miles from Jason’s apartment, a five minute drive. Jason didn’t bother correcting his father, though. Nor did he comment on the way the man was speaking to him. Jason knew his dad was just stressed, and it was probably a good thing he was snapping at Jason rather than at his peers—or worse yet, his clients.
When his father pulled into the circular drive at the office, Jason hopped out. “I’ll get em,” he said. He rushed inside and found the box of brochures on his father’s desk. When he returned to the van, his dad was calmer.
“Sorry I snapped at you,” he said.
“It’s okay, Dad. I know how freaked out you get about these things…”
“I’m not ‘freaked out’, whatever that means.”
“I mean you’re all worked up. Stressed. But you should just relax. We’ve got everything covered, and that latest program you designed is gonna knock everyone’s socks off. You’ll be a huge success.”
In reality, Jason had done more work on the software program than had his father, but Jason was trying to think of anything to lift his dad’s mood. For the past two years, Jason had done most of the programming, but he didn’t mind. For well over a decade—thirteen years, to be precise—his dad had managed the company on his own. He and a partner had started the business during the dot-com bubble of the late nineties. It was risky at the time, but they’d made a go of it. They were hugely successful actually.
Shortly after the death of Jason’s mom, his father split with his business partner. Jason was young at the time and grieving the loss of his mother, so he never really knew all of the details about what happened between his father and Glenn Braeburn, the now estranged business partner. What Jason did know was that it was very much a sore spot with his dad. The mere mention of Glenn’s name sent his father into a tirade. Whatever the falling out had been centered around must have been serious.
“Dad, we’re way early. Why don’t you pull into this Starbucks? I’ll buy us a cup of Joe.”
His father glanced at the digital clock on the dashboard and grunted. He slowed the vehicle, engaging the turn indicator, and pulled into the Starbucks parking lot. Jason was checking email on his phone when they stepped up to the counter. He glanced up at the barista and smiled, casually placing his standard order in a rather disinterested tone. “Venti non-fat caramel macchiato, please.”
“Don’t you have just regular coffee here?” His father said in an accusatory tone, as if a crime had been committed.
“Yes, sir,” the young man behind the counter nodded. “What size?”
“Dark roast, medium roast, blonde, Kona…?”
“Regular!” his father snapped. “I said I just want a damned regular cup of coffee.”
Jason felt his cheeks getting hotter. “Medium roast, grande, please.” The barista, who was much closer to Jason’s age, smiled at him and nodded.
“Not a problem. Eight forty-seven, please?”
“Eight bucks for two coffees?” his father exclaimed.
“I got it, dad,” Jason said, pulling out his wallet.
As they took a seat in a corner booth, Jason’s father was still grumbling about the price of the coffee. Well, the idea that a relaxing cup of java may steady the man’s nerves didn’t seem to have worked too well. Jason decided to try another tack. If all else failed, talk shop.
“We’ve got a great shot at picking up some heavy-weight clients with this new software,” he said. “Don’t you think?”
His dad sipped his coffee, making a face as he did so. Jason didn’t know if the drink was too hot or if his dad just didn’t like the taste. “Yeah, I really do,” his dad said. “Jason, I know I’ve been on edge lately, but I’ve got to tell you, I’m so pleased with your work. I’m so proud of you.”
Jason smiled at him sincerely. “Thanks, Dad.”
“And if your mother were alive today, she’d be proud too. It means everything to me to be able to hand down this business—this enterprise that I started with my own sweat and blood—to my own son.”
“I appreciate that, Dad. And I love it… I love my job, and in that sense I’m really lucky. But can I ask you something?” His dad just stared at him, not answering, so Jason pressed on. “Why don’t you try to relax a little, enjoy life a little more? Don’t you think Mom would have wanted…?”
“You mean go out and find someone to replace your mother?”
Jason quickly shook his head. “No, of course I’m not saying that, Dad. No one will ever replace Mom. But she wouldn’t want you to stop living your life. She’d want you to be happy. For the past ten years, all you’ve done is work. Well, I’m here now… and you said yourself, I’m capable. Why not relax a little? Go golfing, buy a sailboat, take a trip to Vegas… anything!”
His dad gave him a half-smile, raising the corner of his lip in the unique way he always did when he was amused. “Jase, your old man is almost fifty years old.”
“You’re a very young forty-eight. And so what? You’re still in the prime of your life.”
This time he laughed right out loud. “Is this a polite way of trying to get rid of me?”
“No! Dad, all I’m saying is that life is too short to waste. You’re forty-eight, not ninety-eight! Live a little.”
His dad sighed and took another sip of his coffee, this time appearing to savor the taste a little more. “Son, I think you’re the one who should heed your own advice. Why doesn’t a twenty-four year old, good lookin kid like you have a girlfriend? You’re the one who ought to be out there whoopin it up and enjoying your youth.”
Jason cocked his head to the side and nodded, frowning somewhat for emphasis. “Good point,” he said with a laugh. This would probably be the perfect opportunity for Jason to level with his dad and come out to him, but he couldn’t do it now, not when they had a three-day trade show ahead of them. He’d wanted to tell his father for a long time that he wasn’t interested in girls. It was just that he didn’t want to put the man through any more than he’d already endured. He knew how old-fashioned his dad was, and having a gay son was probably not something he’d easily embrace.
“Don’t worry, Dad,” he said, “when I find that perfect person, I’ll manage to strike a balance between work and my personal life. Right now I want to focus on the business. I’ve got this hoity toitey degree and all—which you paid for—and I wanna use it.”
“Well, I’ll make you a deal. If you make an effort to live a little, then so will I.”
“Hm, I can live with that,” Jason said. “Starting right after the trade show.”
Jason knew from experience that these trade shows tended to be rather anticlimactic. There was so much preparation involved, but the event itself was quite boring. For the most part, he’d be sitting around all day, smiling at potential customers that approached their booth, available to answer questions, and when appropriate, making small talk.
This particular show proved to be a bit more eventful than most. On the first morning they were able to capture the interest of a major manufacturing company. Their representative was a middle aged woman, and thus Jason stepped back and allowed his father to interact with the prospective customer. To Jason’s delight, the two seemed to hit it off, and they agreed to meet later that day for a late lunch to discuss some specific concerns the company had with the software.
“She seemed really interested,” Jason said, after the prospect was out of earshot.
“Yeah,” his dad agreed, obviously trying to sound casual. “We’ll have to see how it goes.”
“And what was her name?” Jason said, a slight lilt in in voice.
“Waters,” he responded dryly.
“I mean first name.”
“Oh… Laura, I think. Yes,” he looked down at the business card. “Laura Waters.”
“And she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring,” Jason pointed out.
“Well, let’s not mix business with … other things,” his dad said. “Remember our deal? After the trade show, we’ll start working on that.”
“Oh, okay,” Jason said. “If you say so.”
The remainder of the morning wasn’t too exciting. Around 1:30 Jason told his dad he was going to go grab a deli sandwich from a nearby sub shop. He’d come back and man the booth while his dad took off for the “business lunch” with Laura.
When Jason returned a few minutes later with his sandwich, he noticed that his father had spiffied up a bit. He must have sneaked off to the restroom to comb his hair, and he was now wearing his sports jacket. As the minutes ticked by, Jason found it endearing the way his dad started to become fidgety.
“Oh… I guess I’ve got to go now,” his dad said, rising from his chair. Laura had approached their booth, and Jason looked up at her, offering a warm smile.
“Are you two brothers?” she asked. “I think I can see a resemblance.”
His dad chuckled, soaking up the flattery. “This here’s my son, Jason.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” the sharply dressed business woman said, extending her hand. “I swear you don’t look old enough to have a son this age. He’s absolutely stunning though, I must say.” Although she was shaking Jason’s hand, she looked directly at his dad as she spoke.
“Thank you,” he said, as if the compliment had been more about him than his son.
After they were gone, Jason couldn’t help but smile to himself and shake his head. Crazy how middle aged men acted like teenagers when it came to romance. Well, at least Jason hoped there was a potential for romance. It well could be that this Laura was just flirting, trying to finagle a good deal.
With the showroom now somewhat quiet, Jason decided to sit down and tackle his sub sandwich. He was starting to get hungry and assumed most of the trade show attendees were off having lunch themselves. Just as he stuffed the end of the bun in his mouth and tore off a big bite, a customer stepped up—at least he assumed it was a customer.
The man, perhaps a few years younger than Jason’s father, was dressed very casually, jeans and a tee shirt. Jason couldn’t help but notice how nicely the man’s defined pectorals were highlighted by the tight fabric of the shirt. He gulped, swallowing as much of the mouthful of food as he could and allowed his eyes to trail up the man’s body until he was staring directly into his eyes.
Jason swallowed again and stood up. “Sorry,” he said, “tryin to sneak in a quick bite.”
“Oh no, go ahead,” he said, smiling warmly. “Sorry to interrupt your lunch.”
“Not at all,” Jason said. “See anything that interests you?”
“Oh yeah,” the man said, not taking his eyes off Jason’s face, and suddenly Jason realized that the man may not be referring to software.
“Uh, uh…” Jason stuttered nervously, “um, what’s your business?”
“I’m a software developer,” he said, grinning.
“Oh, I see. You’re checkin out the competition?”
“Is that okay?”
Jason shrugged, still unable to wipe the silly grin from his face. “Be my guest.”
There was something about the man that looked familiar to Jason, but he couldn’t quite put a finger on it. Maybe he’d known him from school. Perhaps he’d been a guest lecturer, or maybe his dad had consulted with him about something previously. Jason looked a little closer, and then suddenly it dawned on him.
“I know you,” Jason said. He was now no longer smiling. “You’re Glenn. You used to work with my dad.”
“My dad,” Jason repeated, “Robert Mathers.”
The shocked expression on the man’s handsome face told Jason that Glenn remembered his father well. “You’re Jason?” he said. “Little fourteen-year old, geeky Jason?”
Jason glared at him. No wonder his dad hated the man’s guts.
“Sorry,” he quickly apologized, “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just… well, you’ve grown up rather nicely.”
“Mr. Braeburn, is there anything I can help you with?” Jason said defensively.
The man stood there for a moment before responding. Finally he shook his head. “No, but Jason, it was so good to see you again. Your dad must be really proud of you… the way you’ve followed in his footsteps.”
“Thanks,” Jason said curtly, offering no commentary.
“Well, I’ve got to head back to my booth. I’m clear on the other side. Maybe we can chat more … before the show’s over.”
“Maybe,” Jason said flatly.
As Glenn walked away from the table, Jason couldn’t help but look down at the man’s perfect bubble butt. For a dude in his forties, the guy was built. Too bad he was such an asshole.
When Jason’s father dropped him off at his apartment that evening, the dynamic between them had made a complete one-eighty from where it’d been that morning. His dad was smiling, animated, and appeared genuinely happy. He’d made a big sale with Laura and already had plans to fly out to Dallas the following week to introduce the software product to her manufacturing company.
Jason suspected that his father’s good mood was due at least partially to something more than just making a sale. “You two seemed to really hit it off,” Jason said. They were parked in the lot outside Jason’s apartment building.
“Oh… Laura and me, you mean?”
“Yeah, she seems like a real nice lady. Very attractive too.”
His father shook his head slightly, trying to frown, but then suddenly burst into a broad smile. The head-shaking became an emphatic nod. “Yeah, she is quite the looker, isn’t she?”
Jason laughed. “Good.” He patted his father on the shoulder. “She is single, isn’t she?”
“Divorced,” he said. “She has two grown children.”
“Perfect,” Jason said.
“Now, don’t go putting the cart before the horse. We just met, and … well, this is strictly business.”
“Oh, okay. If you say so.”
“I do say so,” his father insisted. “I’m not about to jeopardize a sale by getting involved…”
“Dad,” Jason interrupted. “Jeopardize it. Who cares about the sale? You obviously like her. Besides, who says you can’t be friends with a client? Who says you can’t be more than friends? You own the company, after all.”
“I learned a long time ago how dangerous it is to mix personal relationships with business.”
“Well, if that’s how you really feel, give the account to me,” Jason suggested. “I’ll handle the business and you can pursue the personal.”
“Hm,” his dad said, as if thinking. “Nah, I think I might enjoy a trip to Texas.”
“I think so too,” Jason agreed. “But you need to get over your fear of mixing business and pleasure. Nobody ever said work had to be a drudgery. Have some fun, enjoy yourself while you’re out there. And if something does happen between you and Laura, you can hand over the account to me so there is no conflict of interest.”
“We’ll see,” his dad said. Jason grabbed the door handle to let himself out. “Jason, thanks. Thanks for putting up with your old man.”
He again reached over to place his hand on his father’s shoulder. “Dad, you don’t have to thank me. Putting up with a dad like you is easy. I’m just glad the trade show’s gone so well. You made the big sale today. I’ll try to do my part tomorrow.”
“Have a good night son.”
“Hey, I can drive myself tomorrow. It’s a gym day, so I’ll just take my own car.”
“Okay, wanna meet at that coffee shop around ten?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
When Jason got up to his apartment, he first checked his mail and then hopped into the shower. He couldn’t help thinking about the man he’d met earlier that day, his dad’s former business partner. Jason was not about to mention to his father that he’d seen Glenn at the show. It would have ruined his good mood and possibly spoiled the whole day.
What was it that had happened between them? It must have been something pretty serious. His dad was not the type of man to hold a grudge like that. He really wasn’t a hateful person in general, but when it came to Glenn, Jason’s dad despised the man.
In a way, it made sense that his father wouldn’t like the guy. He did come across as kind of cocky. He barely knew Jason and he’d called him a geek. Jason had been called names like that all his life, and frankly, it stung a little. He had to admit that back when he was in high school, he was rather geeky. Even today, in the technical sense, he was about as geeky as they came. Though, now he was a computer nerd.
About the time Jason headed off to college, he began to become aware of his self-image. He got himself a new haircut, short and stylish. He got rid of his glasses and replaced them with contacts. The year he graduated college, he had laser surgery so he’d no longer even need the lenses. He started going to the gym, bought new clothes, even had his teeth whitened. So yeah, he could understand why Glenn would be surprised by the change in his appearance.
Well, he was only fourteen the last time the man had seen him. He had thick coke-bottle glasses and a mop of unruly hair. He may have even still been in braces at the time. And of course he was skinny as a bean pole. Even now, he still was slender, though he did have some definition and muscle tone.
Jason examined his reflection in the mirror before climbing into the shower. He felt somewhat proud, realizing he’d transformed himself the way he had. It wasn’t so much that he was narcissistic, but more that he was thrilled to have caught the eye of a man like Glenn.
If he remembered correctly, Glenn was about six or seven years younger than his dad. His father was thirty-five at the time Jason’s mother passed, which would mean Glenn had been about twenty-eight or twenty-nine, and now he was about forty-one.
He sure didn’t seem forty-one to Jason. He could have easily passed for thirty or thirty-five. Maybe it was because he still had a full head of hair and a nice body. And that pair of jeans he’d been wearing. Wow!
Jason was surprised by the fact that his thoughts of Glenn had inspired a response from his joystick. Looking down, he saw that Mr. Happy was smiling… and throbbing a little. He took hold of himself, stroking slowly, as he continued to stare into the mirror. He thought about those dark eyes that had stared at him earlier in the day, checking him out. He thought about the hard, chiseled chest that had been so visible beneath Glenn’s form fitting t-shirt. He wondered if that chest was as hairy as he imagined it to be. Yeah, hadn’t he noticed a couple dark hairs around the collar?
Jason had always been drawn to men like Glenn, mature and masculine. He liked the fact that they were so much more experienced. They already had embarked upon a journey, a pathway to success. The idea of a man like that being in Jason’s life was comforting, not to mention hot. As he thought about the possibility, Jason stopped staring at his reflection and closed his eyes. He visualized Glenn with his muscular biceps and narrow waist. He thought about how that ass had looked in those tight jeans. He remembered the earthy, masculine smell of his cologne and the deep resonating tone of his baritone voice.
“Ughhh,” Jason gasped as his body convulsed and a spurt of cum erupted from his cock. It was followed by several more in rapid succession. After he was spent, he leaned forward against the mirror, gasping for breath. He used a towel to wipe up the mess and then climbed into the shower.
“That was stupid,” he scolded himself. “Even if I did like that dude, there’s no way in hell anything could ever happen between us, not with the history he has with my dad.”
Whoot whew! Jason whistled as he stepped into Starbucks. His father was sitting there already, wearing his best suit, and it looked like he’d gotten a haircut. “Dad, why the fancy duds?”
“Oh… well, I only have a couple suits, and I couldn’t wear the same one two days in a row.”
“Ah, I see, and you got a haircut?”
“Last night on the way home.”
“This wouldn’t have anything to do with our new client would it?”
His dad ignored the question, motioning for Jason to sit down. “Non-fat caramel something-or-other,” he said as he pointed to the disposable Starbucks cup in front of Jason.
“I’m impressed,” he said. “You remembered.”
“And I decided to try something more daring myself.”
Jason started laughing. “Well good. Before you know it, you’ll be drinking lattes and cappuccinos and you’ll have your very own customer rewards card.”
“Uh… I don’t think so. Baby steps. Okay?”
“Baby steps are fine,” Jason smiled. “But seriously, you look great. I like your haircut. And your suit.”
His dad took a deep breath, and for a second Jason was concerned, sensing something may be wrong. Finally his father spoke. “Jase, I gotta ask a favor.”
“Would you mind manning the booth this afternoon by yourself? I need to take off around four.”
“Not a problem.” Well that was a relief. He thought something was wrong. “Is something wrong?” he asked, just to be sure.
“No, not at all. I got a call last night from Laura. You know, the new client. She asked if I could have dinner with her, and I sort of… uh… made reservations.”
Jason beamed at his father. “Cool. Go ahead, have a good time. If you want, take the whole day off. Dad, I can handle the trade show by myself…”
“No, no, no. I don’t need the whole day. Leaving a couple hours early will give me plenty of time. Our reservation isn’t til five.”
Day two at the trade show proved to be busier than the first, and Jason was surprised how quickly the hours flew by. When he looked at the time on his cell phone that afternoon and saw that it was already after three, he reminded his father that he’d better get ready to leave.
“You sure you can handle this by yourself?” his dad asked. “I can reschedule…”
“Dad, don’t be crazy. We haven’t been that busy.”
“Okay, then. I think I’ll head on out then, make a pit stop in the restroom and then meet Laura at the bar.” Jason thought it was a good plan. Maybe his dad would get there in time to toss one back before she got there, calm his nerves a bit. His dad was like a sixteen year old preparing for the junior prom.
“I got it, Dad … just please, don’t drink and drive.”
His father gave him an incredulous look, as if to say “Are you crazy?” It was an odd role reversal, and Jason laughed as he realized he was giving his father his own advice.
“Don’t worry,” his dad said, “I haven’t completely lost all sense of responsibility.” He winked at his son, clapping him on the shoulder before he took off.
The remainder of the day wasn’t too exciting. Jason got a chance to mingle a bit with the techies from the booths on either side of him. He was at a nearby table talking to one of these vendors, a young lady from Seattle, when he noticed a customer over at his own booth. He excused himself and spun around to head back to his station but noticed that the “customer” was Glenn Braeburn.
Jason took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and headed to his display. “Hello again,” he said in his most formal tone.
“Hi,” Glenn said, offering a thin smile. “I wanted to stop back and apologize for yesterday.”
“Hm, what do you mean?” Jason decided to be a bit coy.
“I mean… well, I didn’t mean to offend you. I wasn’t calling you a geek…”
“Well, I am a geek,” he admitted. “Nowadays, that’s a compliment.”
“Regardless, I shouldn’t have said what I did. You’re anything but geeky… I mean, at least in terms of your appearance.” He took a deep breath, then reached up to rub his forehead. “Am I making a fool of myself?” he asked, laughing nervously.
Jason smiled. “No … well …. Yeah.”
Glenn shook his head rapidly back and forth. “I thought so. Can I start over.”
“Look,” Jason said. “No harm, no foul. I’m not offended. I will say, though, that I’m a little sore. After you called me a nerd, I got up this morning and went to the gym. You motivated me to do an extra strenuous workout, and now I’m feelin the burn.”
“Aw, well, now I do feel like a jerk, but by the looks of you, this wasn’t your first workout.”
“I could say the same of you,” Jason observed. Again Glenn was dressed casually. Today it was a button down short sleeve shirt, displaying the man’s beefy biceps.
“Getting old,” he conceded, “and I have to work hard to maintain my girlish figure.”
“Girlish?” Jason guffawed. “I’d say it’s more like 110% pure man!” Did I just say that out loud?
Glenn raised his eyebrows and then grinned. “You’re making me blush,” he said. “Hey, are you about to wrap things up here?”
Jason pulled out his phone to check the time. “Uh… yeah, actually. I didn’t realize how late it was.”
“I’m gonna stop at the bar,” Glenn said. “Care to join me for a drink?”
Jason thought for a moment, unable to stop staring at the man in front of him. “You know, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea…”
“You and my dad… your history.”
“I feel terrible about what happened between us,” Glenn said. “And I wish your dad didn’t hate me so much. Believe me, I’ve tried to talk to him. I tried many times …”
“What exactly happened?”
“It’s a long story. Jase, let me explain it over drinks.” He was already taking the liberty of using a nickname.
Jason took a breath and exhaled slowly. “Sure, why not. Give me fifteen, and I’ll meet you there. I’m gonna pack up and tote a couple things out to my car.”
“I can help,” Glenn offered.
“Nah, I got it. I’ll meet you … I promise.” He saw the skeptical expression on the man’s face. “I swear, I won’t stand you up.”
“Okay then. See you in a few.”
Actually, the thought of blowing the guy off did cross Jason’s mind. He didn’t really need fifteen minutes to load the car. All he had to take with him was the two laptops. The rest of the materials were part of the display and would stay right where they were for another full day. He was trying to buy time. He needed to think about this for a few minutes.
There was something about that guy that made Jason’s heart rate increase. God, was he sexy. And that voice! Fuck! But hurting his father was the last thing on earth Jason wanted to do. His dad would be furious if he found out Jason had had drinks with Glenn Braeburn. On the other hand, maybe this would give Jason an opportunity to dig into their history and learn what had really happened. Maybe he could help his dad and Glenn make amends.
After locking the laptops in his trunk, Jason stopped off at the restroom to check his appearance. “What are you doing?” he asked himself as he stood in front of the full length mirror. He knew he was playing with fire. Jason knew his father had always been supportive of him, and for the most part did not interfere in his life. He hadn’t pressured him during his decision-making process while choosing a college. He hadn’t flinched when Jason informed him that he wanted his own apartment. He didn’t even say a word when Jason bought the more expensive car that he’d be making payments on for the next three years.
But if there was one thing that Robert Mathers was passionate about, it was his dislike of Glenn Braeburn. The last thing Jason wanted to do was betray his dad. “I’m just gonna find out what happened,” he said to his reflection. “This has nothing to do with … with anything other than that!” Or did it? Since yesterday afternoon, when he first laid eyes on Glenn, he seemed to be all Jason could think about. And it wasn’t simply the fact that the guy was hot looking. There was no denying that fact, but the way he spoke to Jason and the way he looked at him when he spoke—it stirred something within Jason—excited him in a way he hadn’t felt in a long time. Christ, he’d never felt that before.
What would it hurt to talk to the man? Get his version of the story. How could this be a bad thing? It may help him to understand his father better. Jason would just have to suppress his own feelings and not allow himself to start thinking with his small head. No matter how good looking the man was, no matter how sexy his voice or how incredibly delicious he smelled—no matter the fact that his eyes were so dark and sensual that they pierced Jason’s soul when he looked at him—he wasn’t going to let on that he even noticed any of those things.
He straightened his posture, squaring his shoulders, then nodded his head and took a deep breath. Ready or not, here I come.
Glenn’s warm smile was the first thing Jason noticed as he took a seat across from him in the bar. They had a table in the corner, but it really didn’t matter. The bar wasn’t too busy. Before Jason could speak, the bartender approached to take his drink order.
“Um.. do you have Heineken?”
The bartender nodded. “On draft.”
“Perfect,” Jason said, smiling. The bartender was cute, about Jason’s age, and for a second it seemed the guy had just winked at him. But then he was gone.
He looked over at Glenn who was smiling. “You don’t even notice, do you?”
“What?” Jason said.
“When guys flirt with you like that…”
“What are you talking about?” Jason felt his cheeks getting warm. He hoped he wasn’t blushing crimson.
“Well, you should get used to it,” Glenn said. “I’m sure it’s not the first time, and it definitely won’t be the last.”
“I swear I have no idea what…”
Just then the bartender returned, placing the draft beer in front of him. “Wow, now that is fast service.”
“We aim to please,” the slender blond said, this time with a much more obvious wink.
Jason coughed and covered his mouth. “Uh… well, thank you.”
“You need anything, just let me know.”
When he was gone, Jason looked up at Glenn, who was smiling. “I rest my case,” he said smugly.
Jason shook his head slightly. “Mr. Braeburn, we’re supposed to be here to discuss business.”
“Business? I’m not sure that’d be wise. Your father definitely would not approve of you discussing business matters with the likes of me…”
“You know what I mean. Family business. You said you’d tell me what happened—your version of it anyway. If you just want to tell lame jokes and make sarcastic remarks, I’ll leave right now and save us both the time.”
“Jason … I’m sorry.” Glenn leaned back in his chair. “I’m not doing too well, am I? This is the second time in two days I’ve started off on the wrong foot. Look, I’m a little nervous here. Can you maybe… uh… cut me some slack?”
Jason stared at him quizzically. Nervous? He sure didn’t show it. “Why are you nervous?” Jason asked, drawing a sip from his beer.
“You have no idea how charming you are, do you? Ah, the beauty of youth. Of course you don’t, and if you did, well, you wouldn’t be all that charming after all.”
“Speaking of nervousness, when you say things like that, you don’t exactly calm my nerves.”
“I’m just making an observation. You’re young, attractive, and obviously very bright. How could I not notice that? And you’re very professional and mannerly.”
“How about you stop flattering me, Mr. Braeburn, and tell me what happened between you and my dad?”
The older man took a deep breath and his face got serious. “Okay,” he said, “but please call me Glenn.”
“As you probably know, I’m a little bit younger than your dad. When we started NHS, your father was the primary investor. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I invested all I had.” New Horizons Software was the company name. “Your dad relied on me for technical expertise. It all was new to him—well it was new to both of us really—but he had more of a business background, and my field was purely IT.
“Around the time your mother took sick, we landed a really big client. Well, actually it was your dad who got the account. It was a really difficult time for him. It was hard on all of us, as you may well remember. Your family was at the hospital a lot, and even after your mom came home, your dad didn’t really leave her bedside.” Jason remembered all too well. His mother had insisted that she be brought home to be with her family, to die with dignity.
“Not wanting to lose the account, I assured your dad that I would handle everything. I took over the project, and when I got into the program… well, to be honest, it was just a clusterfuck. It was a mess, and I pretty much had to scrap the whole thing and start from scratch.”
“What was wrong with it?” Jason asked. He wasn’t gonna let the man snow him. He hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck.
“All the binary codes were jazzed. There were so many bugs and glitches, and it was not what the customer had ordered. And remember, this was a major client.”
“Okay,” Jason said. “Go on.”
“So I started over, but I had to hurry. We were facing a deadline. I had less than forty eight hours to get the software ready, and I worked round the clock. I made it, though. I got the job done, and the customer was thrilled.”
“So what was the problem? This doesn’t explain anything…”
“The customer, who’d been a long time business associate of your father’s, confronted him. Although he was pleased with the product we delivered, he was disappointed that your dad would have handed off such an important project to a junior associate…”
“Why didn’t he just tell the man what the situation was? Why didn’t he tell him about my mom?”
“That’s your dad. He doesn’t believe in excuses. He thinks that family and business are entirely separate, and one should never interfere with the other.” Boy, that was the truth. Jason had heard his dad make that statement, verbatim, a million times. “So I guess their conversation got pretty heated. Your dad was very emotional at the time, and it was completely understandable. But he said things that he couldn’t take back. He told the guy exactly what he could do with the contract and where he could shove it.”
“Oh shit,” Jason said.
“Well, I wasn’t too happy myself, not after having spent so much time.”
“Right,” Jason said, nodding. He totally understood, and he also knew what his dad was like when he was under stress.
“But I sucked it up and assured your father everything would be fine. We had a big trade show coming up the following week. It was only days after your mother’s passing, and I suggested that he take some time off and let me handle it. I was sure I could find a buyer for the software… maybe with a few customized alterations.
“Of course, your dad wouldn’t hear of it. He insisted that he needed to work. It seemed to be how he grieved. He threw himself into his job.”
“Yeah, I remember,” Jason said. He felt his eyes becoming moist. He didn’t want to cry in front of this man.
“Jason, are you all right?”
He nodded, “Go on… please.”
“Well as luck would have it, there was another customer at the show who happened to be looking for a software similar to what we… or what I… had designed. Your dad was the one who made the initial contact and sales pitch. Well, then when your dad pulled up the software to do a demonstration, he didn’t recognize anything. Of course he didn’t, because it was entirely different than his original prototype. I’d had to change everything.
“He was embarrassed, and frankly, pissed. But I stepped in and took over, walked the customer through a demonstration, and the customer loved it. Jason, the sale was in the bag. We had the fish on the hook and all we had to do was reel him in.”
“Let me guess, Dad freaked again?”
Glenn slowly nodded. “Freaked isn’t even the word for it. He went ballistic. It was ugly… really ugly.”
At this point, the tears were streaming down Jason’s cheeks. “It was the grief,” he said. “It had all come to a boiling point.”
“I know,” Glenn said. He reached across the table and placed his hand atop Jason’s. “Jase, I’m so sorry.”
“I just can’t imagine his pain. He was lashing out because he didn’t know how else to cope.”
“Yes,” Glenn said. “But he went into a tirade, accusing me of sabotaging him. He said things that were… well, they were just awful. He said I was a backstabbing son of a bitch and a thief. He said I had betrayed him by stealing his prototype. Jason, I didn’t even use his prototype. I scrapped it and started from scratch. Plus I hadn’t stolen anything. The software program belonged to us—to both of us.”
“What happened with the customer?”
“Oh it was a big ugly scene. We were asked to leave, and then we had it out again back at the office. Your dad told me he was buying me out, and I said fine. I was angry myself. At the time, I wanted to deck him, but I just kept reminding myself of his loss.
“I took the buyout from your dad, but I still had the prospective client’s business card. I contacted him, and he hired me. For three years I worked for his company and designed the software he’d originally requested. When your dad found out, he was even more furious and insisted that I had stolen from him.”
“But now… you don’t work for this company anymore?”
“I started my own company,” Glenn said. “I’m really not a corporate person. I’m not much of a business person. I’m an IT guy.”
“Yeah? Me too.”
“Jason, I never meant to hurt your father, and I sure as hell didn’t steal from him. I should have insisted he take some time off to focus on his family. I never should have allowed him to go to that trade show only days after your mom …”
“You couldn’t have stopped him,” Jason said. “I know how he is. He’s bullheaded and stubborn. Even my mom used to say that. She was the one person who knew how to calm him down when he was upset like that.”
“Jase, are you okay? I’m sorry this is so painful.” The story had brought up a lot of memories. A lot of emotions Jason hadn’t allowed himself to feel in a long time.
“I’m okay,” he said. “It’s just… I was only fourteen at the time. I didn’t understand anything. I didn’t know why Dad wasn’t there. I’d lost my mom, and it felt like…”
“It felt like you’d lost them both.”
“Yeah. I don’t know why I’m being such a crybaby.” He picked up a bar napkin and wiped his eyes.
“Aw, Jason,” Glenn said. “Who wouldn’t be emotional? You’re human, and this is your dad we’re talking about.”
“Glenn, my dad’s not a bad person. He just doesn’t know how to cope with his own feelings. He like has two emotions—if you can even call them emotions—contentment and anger.”
“I don’t think he even cried at the funeral. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him cry. He doesn’t know how to express himself. When he is upset or hurting or afraid, all that comes out of him is anger. The more intensely he feels something, the more violent his rage is. You should have seen him yesterday when we were getting ready for the show. I knew he was nervous, and he just kept snapping at me.”
“These shows probably aren’t easy for him,” Glenn suggested. “I mean, with his history.”
“Yeah, that makes sense.”
The waiter was back with another round of drinks. “You know, if I’m gonna drink, I gotta eat something,” Jason said. “Can we see some menus?”
“Sure,” the bartended said, smiling. If he were any friendlier, he’d be curtseying, Jason thought.
“I was going to suggest that,” Glenn said. He was now smiling broadly himself. “But I was afraid. If I asked you to dinner and you said no, it’d be a crushing blow to my fragile ego. I don’t deal very well with rejection.”
Jason laughed. “Ha! Well, it’s not like a date or anything.”
Glenn just looked at him, still smiling.
“So does your dad know about you?”
Jason’s smile quickly vanished as he shook his head. “Are you kidding? How could I even think about telling him? But… uh… how did you know?”
“Wait… are you saying…?”
“I came out of the closet years ago,” he said. “The company I went to work for was very progressive. They were one of the first to offer domestic partner benefits.”
“Do you … uh… have a domestic partner?”
Glenn laughed. “I had a boyfriend for eight years, but I’m single.”
Jason felt his heart beating faster, but he willed himself to maintain his casual demeanor. “What happened?”
“Long story,” Glenn said.
“Ah, another ugly separation?”
“Stephen passed away two years ago. Cancer.”
“Oh… Glen, I’m so sorry.”
Jason felt like a jerk for saying the wrong thing, for making the assumption he had. “That must’ve been hard. I can’t imagine.”
“It was just so sudden,” Glenn said. “He was a perfectly healthy thirty-two year old man, then BAM. He went in for what he thought was a routine checkup. They diagnosed him with lung cancer, and he’d never smoked a day in his life. Two months later, he was gone.”
“Unbelievable,” Jason said, shaking his head. “What was he like?”
Glenn smiled, staring for a moment over Jason’s head, as if thinking. Visualizing, perhaps. “He was wonderful. The complete opposite of me.”
“He was very outgoing. Artistic. High energy. Slender like you but a little shorter. He did graphic design.”
“Oh wow, two computer geeks sharing the same household.”
“Uh… well not really. He did have to do a lot of his work on the computer, but he also painted. He was a phenomenal illustrator. We had a life sized portrait of Cher in our living room.”
Jason burst out laughing. “Wow. You’re right. He doesn’t seem much like you. I can’t picture it.”
“It’s in our guest room now. I actually started to grow accustomed to it, hated to take it down, but after a while, it was just too hard—too painful a reminder.” Jason wondered how long it would be until Glenn stopped using plural pronouns. He probably never would. His father still did it even though his mom had been gone for a decade.
“We better look at these menus,” Glenn said, “before you get me bawling too.”
“I don’t mind seeing a grown man cry,” Jason admitted.
“Well that’d be a pretty sad way to spend a first date… both of us crying.” Suddenly he stopped and set down his menu. “Did I just say that? I mean… that’d be a sad way to spend a first business meeting.”
“Could you imagine?” Jason said, chuckling to himself. “My dad would absolutely shit his pants if we did… uh date each other.”
“I’m almost old enough to be your dad.”
“You’re seventeen years older than me. I figured it out last night…” It was now Jason’s turn to be embarrassed by saying too much.
“Ah, so you were thinking about me last night?”
“A little,” he confessed. He put his head down, staring at the menu. Without looking up, he daringly plunged forward. “Glenn, I’ve always been, uh, drawn to older men, to be honest.”
“And with you, well you just don’t seem that much older. You’re very young-looking for your age.”
“Thanks a lot,” he said sarcastically.
“Sorry, I guess I didn’t say that exactly right. I just mean to look at you I’d have never guessed you were in your forties if I hadn’t known you.”
“Just barely in my forties,” he corrected.
The waiter was back and they placed their orders. For the next two hours they chatted amicably. At first it was entirely shop talk, Glenn telling Jason about a software platform he’d been working on. Jason related some stories about his college experience, then told Glenn about his apartment. They talked about their workout routines, home décor, music, and movies.
Jason didn’t remember the last time he’d felt so relaxed. Glenn was interesting and funny and very intelligent. Their age difference seemed non-existent as they shot the breeze with each other, until finally Jason pulled out his phone to check the time.
“Holy crap, it’s after eight o’clock,” he said.
“Maybe we ought to quit taking up space here,” Glenn said.
“Yeah, I gotta get goin,” Jason said as he pushed his chair back.
“Are you gonna be all right to drive?” Glenn asked.
“Oh yeah. I only had three drinks, and it was with food.”
“Are you sure? I’m staying here at the hotel…”
Jason cocked his head slightly to the side and smiled. “Are you inviting me back to your room?”
“Jason, I’ve enjoyed talking to you.” He reached across the table and placed his hand atop Jason’s. “I guess I’m just stalling—not ready for you to leave yet.”
“I like you too,” Jason admitted. “But I can’t.” He shook his head and bit his lower lip. “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that to my dad. It would crush him if he…”
“He doesn’t have to know…” The look in Glenn’s eyes told Jason he realized immediately that it was the wrong thing to say. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Of course, you’re right.”
“Maybe we can figure out a way to still be friends?”
“I’ll be here a couple more nights. I’m not flying back to Houston until Friday morning.”
“Maybe I’ll catch up with you tomorrow,” Jason said.
“I’d like that.”
Jason took a shower when he got home before logging onto his computer. Purely out of curiosity, he Googled Glenn Braeburn. He found the link to Glen’s company website which he spent a few minutes checking out. Then he looked up Glenn’s Facebook page. He did not want to “friend” Glenn because he knew his father would be able to see, but he did look through Glenn’s photo albums.
Stephen was exactly as Glenn had described him, or at least in the pictures he appeared to be. Very bubbly and happy-go-lucky. Perhaps a bit campy at times. Jason couldn’t help but smile. He could see himself in a role like that, beside a man like Glenn.
Sadly, he knew it was an impossibility. The last thing on earth that Jason would ever do was hurt his father, not after all the man had been through. He knew that all Glenn had told him about their falling out had to be true. Jason could visualize it with his mind’s eye—his dad hurting so badly, mourning the loss of his beloved wife, then just snapping. It had been an emotional meltdown. It all made sense.
He wondered how his father’s evening had gone with Laura. It was now almost ten o’clock, and Jason wondered if his dad were home yet. He didn’t want to call him in case … well, in case the date was still in progress. He smiled to himself as he remembered how excited his dad had been. Hopefully the date had gone as well for his father as his own night had been with Glenn.
By pure coincidence his phone rang as he was thinking on these things. He looked down to see it was his father. “Hey,” Jason said, trying to sound cheerful yet casual.
“Hope I didn’t wake you,” his father said. Jason knew just by the tone of his voice that things must have gone well. The lilt in his dad’s voice told Jason his dad was happy.
“Nah, not at all. Just got out of the shower, and I’m checkin email. How was your evening?”
“Oh, it was fine.”
“Fine? Just fine?” Jason teased.
“Well, maybe a little better than just fine.”
“Great,” Jason said, smiling as if his dad could see him.
“Uh, that’s kind of why I’m calling,” he went on. “Laura is leaving tonight to head back to Dallas. She wants me to fly out there tomorrow so I can do a presentation for her company.”
“Fantastic!” Jason said.
“But we have the last day of the trade show.”
“Don’t worry, Dad, I’ve got it covered. You go ahead and go.”
“Of course I’m sure,” Jason said.
“Well, I can bring the van over to you tonight if you want. You’ll need it.”
“Nah, I’ll just drive to your place in the morning and pick it up. I’ll park my car in your garage.”
“Yeah, that was what I was thinking, but I really don’t want to inconvenience you. Son, I don’t want you to feel I’m dumping all this on you.”
“Dad, it’ll take me ten minutes to tear down the display, and besides, the last day of these shows is always really dead. Trust me, your trip to Texas is a lot more important than this show…” He waited a few seconds when his dad didn’t immediately respond. He could hear a female voice in the background.
“Sorry, Jason. Still there?”
“Yeah, still here,” Jason said, suppressing a laugh. “Are you still there?”
“Oh … yeah. Well, I guess I better get going. You have your own set of keys, right?”
“I’m all set dad. Get a good night’s sleep before you head out.”
“Sure enough,” his father said. “And Jason…?”
“Thanks. Thanks for everything, son. I really appreciate…”
“Don’t mention it. I love you, Dad.”
“Love you, too … Oh wait! How long will you be gone?”
“I’ll be back Monday or Tuesday. Laura’s gonna give me the grand tour of Dallas over the weekend.”
“Enjoy. Night, Dad.”
Now wasn’t that an interesting turn of events? At least Jason wouldn’t have to worry about his dad accidentally bumping into Glenn at the show tomorrow. Or ever. Maybe this would give Jason one more chance to spend a little bit of time with the man. He knew it couldn’t go anywhere, but he enjoyed Glenn’s company.
He scrolled through Glenn’s Facebook profile and found his email address.
Thanks for a great time at dinner. It was really great to see you again. Listen, my dad is going out of town for the weekend—leaving first thing in the morning tomorrow. Thought maybe we could get together again tomorrow night.
Hope I’m not being too forward or overstepping my bounds.
When Jason got up the following morning, he was disappointed to discover that there was no reply from Glenn in his inbox. Perhaps Glenn hadn’t checked email, or worst case scenario, he’d read the email and deleted it. Jason knew he was getting ahead of himself. He’d already told Glenn that nothing could happen between them, so why would he expect the man to be willing to even waste his time?
He wanted to kick himself. Sending the email had been a really bad idea, and it just made him look pathetic. What he really needed to do was focus on his job. This was a time in his life when he had a chance to really succeed. Eventually, after his father completely came out of his slump and moved on with his life, Jason would consider pursuing some romantic interests.
When he got to his father’s house, his dad was already gone. He found a note on the table informing Jason that he’d left around 6am, again thanking him for covering the trade show. He decided to use the restroom real quick before he took the van and headed over to the hotel. Jason was zipping himself up when he looked down at the counter and noticed a hairbrush. It definitely didn’t belong to his father, and by the color—bright pink—Jason assumed it was the property of a woman.
So Dad, you had yourself a houseguest last night. Of course this was not a really big surprise. He’d heard her voice over the phone when he was talking to his dad, but his father had told him that Laura would be leaving that evening. He probably didn’t want to admit to his son that he and Laura had spent the night together. Jason smiled as he stared at the brush. It was okay. He’d allow his dad this secret.
As he’d expected, Jason found the trade show to be rather uneventful. Attendance was sparse all morning. For the most part, he spent the first few hours chatting with other vendors. Around noon, Jason was surprised when he looked up and saw a floral deliveryman walking down the aisle carrying what appeared to be a huge arrangement of roses. Jason grinned, realizing someone was about to get a nice surprise.
When the deliveryman stopped in front of his booth and said, “New Horizons Software?” his jaw about hit the floor.
“That’s me,” he squeaked.
“These are for you,” the man said, handing him the bouquet.
Flabbergasted, Jason just stood there. “Oh… well, thank you. Thank you very much. Oh wait!” He reached in his pocket and retrieved a couple bills to tip the man.
The young man shook his head and held his palm up. “I’ve been instructed not to accept a tip from you, Mr. Mathers. It’s already been taken care of. Enjoy.”
This was the first time ever in Jason’s life he’d received flowers. He reached into the bouquet and pulled out the card.
I too had a wonderful evening and would be honored to spend some more time with you tonight. Please meet me in the lobby at five.
One of the ladies from a neighboring booth rushed over. “Those are gorgeous!” she exclaimed. “Who’s the lucky girl?”
He looked at her and smiled, holding out the roses for her to smell. “Me!” he said proudly. “I’m the lucky girl,” and then laughed as she stared at him, puzzled.
The day seemed to drag, slower than ever, and Jason wished that Glenn would just mosey over to his table. He debated taking a walk himself and finding Glenn’s booth, but there was a part of him that was really enjoying the anticipation. He liked Glenn’s style. He could have easily answered Jason’s email or even come to see him, but it was so much more romantic to send the flowers.
Romantic? Jason had to pause and think about it. This wasn’t where he wanted to go. In fact, it wasn’t even an option, so why was he allowing himself to think these thoughts and feel these feelings? Perhaps the short answer to this question was that he was allowing it because he could… at least for now. His dad was out of town and wouldn’t be back for at least five days. Jason had already made it crystal clear to Glenn that they didn’t have a future together, but they did have a day. An evening. A real date.
By four o’clock he couldn’t take it anymore and began packing up his suitcases. He had his displays disassembled and his brochures boxed up by 4:30 and began toting them out to his van. By 4:45 he was done with the trade show and sitting in the hotel lobby.
Ten minutes later, when he felt a hand on his shoulder, he turned to look up at Glenn’s smiling face. “You got my note, I see.” Glenn was dressed sharply, wearing what appeared to be a rather expensive suit.
“Note? What note?” Jason said innocently. “I’m just sitting here trying to relax after the trade show. Checkin my email.”
“No… I sent this hot guy an email last night, but he never responded.”
Glenn shook his head and frowned. “His loss,” he said.
Jason stood up to face him, beaming. “Thank you for the flowers,” he whispered. “They were beautiful. I’ve never had a man send me flowers.”
“I thought they’d be able to express my feelings far more eloquently than anything I could say in an email. Jason, I really enjoyed our conversation last night. I like you… a lot.”
“I like you too,” he said. Damn, he felt like a junior high kid. The butterflies were going crazy in his stomach. “So, what’s on the agenda for tonight?”
“Well, I made reservations, and it looks like our ride may be here now.”
“Our ride?” Jason turned toward the hotel restaurant, expecting to see a taxi cab parked out front, but all he saw was shiny, black, stretch limo. “What…?”
“Come on,” Glenn said, placing his hand against the small of Jason’s back.
“You rented us a limo?” Jason said, astonished. He couldn’t believe it. Jason had never ridden in a limousine. Even in high school, when many of his friends had rented limos for the prom, Jason had opted for affordability and practicality. He’d borrowed his father’s Ford Taurus. “Glenn, I don’t know what to say…”
“Well, hopefully you’ll say you’re hungry,” Glenn said. “Otherwise, this all will have been a terrible waste.”
Jason wasn’t exactly feeling hungry at the moment, but he was certainly swept off his feet. “I hope I’m not… uh… underdressed,” he worried aloud.
“You look spectacular,” Glenn assured him. Jason was wearing a dress shirt, silk tie, and pleated dress slacks, but he had elected not to wear a jacket that morning, thinking it would be a somewhat casual atmosphere on the last day of the trade show. “Believe me,” Glenn said, “all eyes will be on you. At least all two of mine.”
Jason felt a bit overwhelmed and slightly self-conscious as they climbed into the limousine. After the chauffeur had closed the door and assumed his place behind the wheel, he turned to speak to them through the window. “Gentlemen, have a wonderful evening. If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know. If you prefer privacy, use the controls to the right of the window. Feel free to avail yourself of anything in the mini bar.”
“Thank you,” Glenn said. “I think privacy would be nice.”
“Very well, we’ll be on our way then.” The driver then raised the tinted window, and suddenly the two of them were alone.
“Care for a drink?” Glenn offered. “Champagne?”
Jason shook his head. Suddenly he felt a bit out of his element, as if he were play acting. He glanced around, taking in his surroundings and at last his eyes landed on the man beside him. “I think you’re wrong,” Jason said. “I think people are gonna be staring at you tonight. You look really sharp.”
“I did okay cleaning up?” Glenn asked with a laugh.
“More than okay.” Jason felt the older man slide his arm around Jason’s shoulder. “I can’t believe you did all this. The flowers. The limo… uh… wow.” Jason was nervous, and when he got that way, he tended to ramble. But as Glenn looked into his eyes, he suddenly grew silent.
“Jason,” he whispered, “can I kiss you?”
Jason’s nod was barely perceptible, even to himself, and as he leaned into the older man, placing his hand against Glenn’s firm chest, he felt the crush of his lips against his own. Jason’s heart pounded in his chest as Glenn reached up to place his palm against the side of Jason’s face. The touch of both his hand and lips was gentle, but as Jason responded, Glenn’s kiss grew more ardent.
They separated, but only briefly and then Jason shifted his position, leaning further in and grabbing hold of Glenn’s shoulders. He pressed his lips once again against those of this man he’d been obsessed with for the previous forty-eight hours. He inhaled the inviting scent of his cologne, felt the firmness of his sculpted upper body as it pressed against his own, and delivered the most passionate kiss of his life.
Glenn responded by at first receiving Jason’s advances, but then began to chase the kiss. He wrapped his arms around Jason’s shoulders, guided him back into his seat and leaned over him, drilling his tongue into Jason’s eager, hungry mouth.
Jason gasped when they slightly pulled apart. Glenn was now staring into his eyes. “God,” Glenn whispered. “I’ve been dying to do that for days.”
“We only met a couple days ago.” Jason’s own voice was barely audible.
“From the moment I saw you, before I even knew who you were…”
“Glenn… what about…?”
He wasn’t able to finish his sentence because his mouth suddenly became occupied once again. He leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes as Glenn proceeded to ravage him, showering him with kisses, and when his lips were not pressed against Jason’s own, they were buried in his neck, against his cheeks, nibbling his ears.
“Oh God,” Jason said, exhaling.
At last Glenn pulled away, but Jason was so aroused he didn’t want it to stop. “We’ll be there soon,” Glenn said. He straightened himself in his seat and grabbed hold of Jason’s hand. “I… uh… Jason…”
Jason took a deep breath, squeezing Glenn’s hand before releasing it. He reached up and covered his face, rocking back and forth slightly. When he pulled his arms down, he allowed one hand to rest atop Glenn’s thigh. “That was intense,” he said.
“I’ve been trying to restrain myself,” Glenn admitted. “Last night, it was all I could do not to drag you back to my room and… and…”
“I know,” Jason said. “I felt the same way, but this is so complicated.”
“It’s not complicated unless we allow it to be. Let’s just enjoy tonight. Let me give you a wonderful evening. Please.”
“Okay,” Jason said, smiling. He turned to look directly into Glenn’s face. “I’d like that.”
Glenn took Jason to Mizuna’s, a comfortable yet elegant restaurant in Denver which provided a quiet, romantic atmosphere. Although Jason had lived in Denver his whole life, he’d never been to this restaurant. He and his father had lived a lifestyle that was quite pedestrian and utterly unpretentious. The fact that his dad was both frugal and practical had blinded Jason to culture and the “finer things in life” that were all around him.
It seemed ironic to Jason that his previous meetings with Glenn had given him the impression that the man was very common. He’d worn blue jeans and sneakers. He talked about things that were familiar to Jason—music and movies and pop culture.
When it came time to order, Jason didn’t know where to begin. “How about I take the liberty to order for us?” Glenn offered. Jason quickly nodded his assent. Glenn ordered them the striped bass. “I hope you like fish.”
“Sure,” Jason said.
An hour later, when they were back in the limo, Glenn turned to Jason, taking him by the hand, and said, “You’re not enjoying yourself, are you?”
“Oh my God, of course I am. You’ve given me an amazing night… a ride in a limo, a killer meal at a fancy restaurant…”
“Of which you barely took two bites.” Jason felt bad. He didn’t know how to respond because the last thing he wanted to do was sound unappreciative. “I really fucked up, didn’t I?”
“No, no, no, of course not,” Jason said.
Glenn leaned forward and pressed the button to lower the window. “Hey, can you take us downtown?” he asked.
“Downtown?” Jason asked.
“I’m fuckin dying for a corn dog,” Glenn said.
Jason beamed. “Me too.”
When the driver dropped them off on Colfax Avenue, Glenn rewarded him with a sizable gratuity and thanked him. “We’ll catch a cab back to the hotel,” Glenn said.
“Sir, I’d be happy to wait. I’m at your service for the entire evening.”
“Go on,” he said, “take the rest of the night off. We’ll be fine.”
“Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.”
A few minutes later they were stuffing their faces with corn dogs and chili cheese fries. Jason laughed when Glenn’s elbow slipped off the table as he was about to bite into his mustard-slathered corn dog and got a big glob of mustard smeared all over his chin. Jason reached over the table and wiped Glen’s face with his finger.
“Oh thanks. Geez, you’d think I’d never had a corn dog before…”
“Careful,” Jason said. “You’re gonna ruin your expensive suit.”
“Fuck the suit,” Glenn said. “Jason, I’m sorry about tonight. I was trying so hard—too hard—to impress you.”
“You succeeded,” Jason assured him.
“Let’s say we go have some fun,” Glenn suggested.
He then took Jason to all the gay clubs in town. Most were close together, within walking distance. They did shots and danced, and Glenn even gave Jason a sampling of his Karaoke skills. By three o’clock when the bars were closing, Jason was feeling a bit tipsy.
“I don’t want it to end,” he whispered into Glenn’s ear. They were standing at the bar, and Jason was leaning against him, his head buried in Glenn’s chest. “I’ve never had so much fun in my life.”
“Don’t leave me,” Glenn said. “Come back to my room… please.”
Without a word, he grabbed Glenn’s hand and allowed himself to be led out of the bar and into a cab. Ten minutes later, he was alone with the man in his hotel room, and suddenly Jason was feeling very sober.
“You’re beautiful,” Glenn whispered as he unbuttoned Jason’s shirt, delivering a sweet kiss after finishing with each button. “Inside and out.”
“Glenn…” Jason released a breathy sigh, his voice raspy, yearning. Glenn was down to the fourth button, now running his fingertips across Jason’s exposed chest.
“So smooth,” Glenn said. He leaned forward to kiss Jason’s chest, wrapping his lips around one of his nipples. When Jason felt his tongue, he threw his head back, moaning. The soft touch of Glenn’s fingers sent chills throughout Jason’s body. Those hands, they were so strong and masculine and yet conveyed such a gentle, loving touch.
As Glenn descended his body, Jason felt the man’s tongue trailing down his abdomen, finding his navel, all the while deft hands grasped the button and fly of Jason’s slacks. Jason looked down, taking in the sight of this gorgeous man now kneeling at his feet. Reaching out, he rested his palms atop Glenn’s shoulders, partially to express affection and partially to steady himself.
He sensed the eagerness of this man kneeling before him, undressing him. He felt as if he were being worshipped, lovingly adored. And Glenn wasted no time, suddenly appearing nearly frantic. He tugged at Jason’s waistband, pulling his pants and underwear down to his thighs as Jason’s throbbing arousal was finally freed.
That mouth—oh God, that amazing mouth! Glenn devoured him with one smooth movement. The sensual feel of that tongue against his raging hard-on caused Jason to moan uncontrollably. By pure reflex he gripped the man’s shoulders tightly and tossed his head back.
When he again looked down, Glenn was staring up at him as he sucked. There was no question about it, this man was not a sexual novice. He cupped Jason’s ball sac with one hand and held the base of his prick with the other. He had used his spittle to slickly coat the entirety of Jason’s throbbing, seven inch shaft and was now using his hand as a sheath. As he expertly bobbed on Jason’s cock, his hand and mouth worked in perfect harmony. He incorporated them together in a manner that gave Jason’s cock not even a millisecond of reprieve.
Jason’s breath caught in his throat, and he felt momentarily lightheaded, perhaps from involuntarily holding his breath. Without even knowing he was doing so, he began to rock his hips back and forth. So as not to discourage him, Glenn released his balls and slid his free hand between Jason’s legs, pressing his palm against Jason’s buttocks. Jason felt as if Glenn were urging him in deeper, coaxing Jason to fuck his hungry throat.
As soon as Jason pulled his hands from Glen’s shoulders and wrapped them around the sides of the man’s face, Glen released his grip on Jason’s shaft. He wrapped both hands around the globes of Jason’s ass and began forcing Jason to powerfully thrust his hips.
“Ah fuck!” Jason cried, looking down to watch his cock piston in and out of Glenn’s expert, cocksucking mouth. He held tightly to his head as his primal, animalistic nature took over. “Fuck, man! Glenn… oh god, Glenn! I’m gonna fuckin come!”
When he reached that incomparable point of no return where he was right there—right on the very edge—and it was too late to turn back, Glenn devoured him. He slid all the way down his shaft, taking its entirety to the root, and Jason blasted his load straight down his hungry throat.
As quickly as that assertiveness had overtaken him, it dissipated. Suddenly he no longer felt like a wild animal, but more like a whimpering, helpless little boy. As he stood there trembling, Glenn rose to his feet, now towering over him, and wrapped him in a powerful embrace. He pressed his cum-coated lips against Jason’s, driving his tongue into Jason’s gasping mouth.
“Glenn, oh my God. Oh my fucking God! I’ve never…”
Before he knew what was happening, Glenn had steered him to the bed, and Jason was flat on his back. Glenn was atop him, kissing and groping him as Jason giddily squirmed beneath his incredibly masculine, muscular, hirsute daddy.
Jason clawed at Glenn’s clothing, fumbling for the buttons of his shirt. Glenn slid Jason’s pants and underwear the rest of the way down his legs and then assisted in undressing himself. Jason had to get those clothes off him. He had to feel that solid, muscular chest, those strong biceps, that tight abdomen. As soon as the shirt was off, Jason buried his face in the soft hair of Glenn’s chest, finding a nipple and tugging at just the tip with his teeth.
Glenn moaned his approval, rolling onto his back. Now Jason was atop him, kissing him, making love to the man’s body with his mouth. He was his bear, his big, muscular daddy, and Jason couldn’t get enough of him. He slid down Glenn’s chest, grasping for the man’s belt buckle. He continued to suck and nibble his nipples while Glen ran his hands over Jason’s narrow shoulders.
Glenn had complimented him, saying what a nice body Jason had, but Jason knew he’d never be a body builder, no matter how much he worked out. His was more a swimmer’s build, and he’d always idolized men who were built like Glenn. Big broad shoulders, powerful chest, and bulging biceps.
And when Jason finally managed to peel open Glenn’s fly, he dove for the prize within. A long slab of uncut meat, much thicker than Jason’s. He took a deep breath, inhaling Glenn’s musky scent, and then opened his jaw wide to accommodate Glenn’s girth. As he wrapped his lips around it, he savored the taste, pressing his tongue firmly against the underside of his shaft. He used one hand to pull the skin tightly down the shaft and then tried as best he could to mimic the expert blowjob he’d just received.
Sucking Glenn was almost enough to make Jason come a second time. He hadn’t even lost his hard-on. But Glenn was obviously far more experienced. He didn’t get his rocks off after only a few moments of oral pleasure like Jason had. But as Jason looked up at him and saw him staring down, his face twisted in an expression of ecstasy, he felt encouraged, and doubled his efforts to please his man.
After what seemed an eternity of steadily bobbing his head, deepthroating Glenn’s fat shaft, he finally pulled back, gasping for breath. “Baby,” Glenn said, “you make me feel so good.”
“I want you inside me,” Jason pleaded. “I want it so bad!”
Glenn slid his palms under Jason’s arms and pulled him up the mattress, positioning him again on his back as he leaned over him and kissed him passionately. “Are you sure, babe? Are you sure… so soon?”
“Yes!” Jason cried. “I’m positive.”
Glenn rolled over and pulled open the drawer of the bedside stand, pulling out a tube of lubricant. He turned back to Jason, kissing him again. “I’ll be right back.”
Jason bit his lower lip as he watched Glenn’s bare ass when he walked across the room and disappeared into the bathroom. Seconds later he reemerged, carrying a packet of condoms. “I already had the lube in my drawer. I needed it last night when I was thinking about you.”
Jason grinned. “Really?”
“You’re the only thing I’ve been able to think about since Monday morning when I first saw you.” He sat down on the mattress beside Jason. “You have the most beautiful body I’ve ever seen. Smooth and tight… so magnificently toned.”
“Look who’s talking,” Jason said.
Glenn laughed. “I’m big and burly, but you… you’re like the statue David. You’re a work of art.”
Jason felt his eyes growing moist as he looked into the man’s face. The only thing he could do was lean forward and kiss him, cupping his palms around the side of Glenn’s cheeks as he showered him with affection.
“Jason, I don’t want to insult you, but I have to ask…”
He shook his head. “It’s not my first time,” Jason said. “But I haven’t… uh… I haven’t done it a lot, and the couple times I did, well, it wasn’t great.”
“I’m so sorry,” Glenn said, shaking his head. “I’m sorry someone didn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. How could they not? How could they not worship and adore you? You’re so… so perfect.”
The man slid himself between Jason’s leg’s gently using his palms to spread them apart. He leaned forward and grabbed a pillow from beside Jason’s head. “Lift up,” he said, sliding it under Jason’s bum. “We’re gonna do this slowly, and if you feel pain, you stop me.”
Jason shook his head.
“Yes,” Glenn insisted. “Promise me. This isn’t supposed to hurt.”
“Okay,” Jason agreed. He nodded his head as his heart began to pound more rapidly in his chest. It was such an odd feeling. He wanted it so badly, and yet he was afraid.
Glenn picked up the lube and squeezed some onto his finger. He grabbed hold of each of Jason’s ankles and pushed them upward into the air. “Pull your knees back toward your chest, babe.” Jason obeyed.
He lay there staring into Glenn’s face as he felt the finger probing the exterior of his hole. “That feels good,” Jason said. Gradually the finger entered him. “Oh man… it feels so good.” He was rotating the finger, using a swirling motion, and it felt incredible. In a way it tickled, but not exactly.
When he pulled out, Jason felt empty. He squirmed a bit on the bed, impatient, and clutched at the bed coverings. “Hold on, kiddo,” Glenn said with a laugh. More lube was applied, and then two fingers inserted. Glenn started thrusting his fingers into Jason’s now-relaxed hole. “Oh God!” Jason cried as Glenn found his sweet spot.
“You like?” he said. He reached up and grabbed hold of Jason’s throbbing cock.
“Glenn, no! You’re gonna make me… uh… you’re gonna make me come.”
Glenn smiled, still gripping his prick but not stroking. “Oh you’re gonna come again,” he said. “I promise.”
Glenn continued to probe his ass, fucking it with his fingers. He added another digit, then one more. Finally he pulled out. Glenn pushed himself back on his haunches as he tore open the condom, then rolled it onto his raging hard-on. After applying lube, he once more took hold of Jason’s ankles.
He slid closer and instructed Jason to rest his ankles against his shoulders. As he leaned forward, Jason felt the weight of the bigger man atop him. He reached up and grabbed hold of Glenn’s neck, pulling his face toward his own. They kissed, probing each other’s mouths with their tongues. “Do you want me inside you baby?” Glenn whispered.
“Yes,” Jason pleaded.
Glen took hold of his sheathed cock and positioned it against Jason’s hole. It was now relaxed; the sphincter had stretched from Glenn’s finger ministrations. “As I go in the first time, bear down,” Glenn instructed him. “Do it just like you’re having a bowel movement.”
“Really?” Jason said, biting back a laugh. He was nervous again, and starting to lose his hard-on.
“Trust me,” Glenn said.
He slowly eased himself into Jason, and the feeling was much what Jason had anticipated. Regardless of the fact that Glenn had so diligently and painstakingly prepared him, it still hurt like a motherfucker. He bit down on his lower lip. “Bear down!” Glenn said. Jason obeyed.
The pain immediately stopped, but so did Glenn. “Now relax.”
Jason took a couple deep breaths, staring up into Glenn’s eyes. Finally he smiled. “Okay.”
Glenn continued, sliding in a little further. “No pain?” he asked.
Jason shook his head.
Glenn thrust the rest of the way in. “Ahhh,” Jason moaned, smiling.
Glenn proceeded to make love to him. Jason had no idea anything could feel this good. Over and over, he plowed the head of his prick against that spot… that amazing spot he’d found with his fingers. Jason was rock hard, on the verge of losing it, as he cried out, “Glenn! Oh God… I can’t hold back.”
Glenn thrust into him one final time and Jason erupted. He looked up into Glenn’s face and saw it twisted into a look of sheer exhilaration. “Unngh!” Glenn moaned as he drained himself inside of Jason.
Suddenly the man was on top of him, kissing him passionately, and Jason wrapped his legs around the man’s waist, buried his tongue deep into Glenn’s gaping mouth. “Ah fuck, that was so hot!”
They lay there, completely spent, in each other’s arms, smiling and laughing. Glenn rolled onto his back and Jason lay his head in the crook of his arm. “I love your chest,” Jason whispered.
“I love your tight little bubble butt.”
“I love your fat cock.”
“I love your smooth body.”
“I love everything about you.”
“Shut up and kiss me.”
“We have one more day together,” Jason said. “Why don’t you come over and see my apartment?”
“I’ve been thinking,” Glenn responded as he looked in the mirror. He was shaving while Jason pulled his pants on. They were still in the bathroom after sharing a shower. “I might be able to change my flight, go back on Monday.”
“Really?” Jason said. He stepped up behind the most gorgeous man in the world and hugged him around the waist. He pressed his face against the center of Glenn’s back.
“If you don’t make me slice my throat, that is,” Glenn said, laughing.
“Sorry,” Jason said, releasing him. “No, please don’t cut that beautiful face.”
“Now I know you’re just flattering me. This face hasn’t been beautiful for about ten years.”
“What are you talking about?” Jason said. “You’re incredibly handsome.”
“Jason, you make me feel so young.”
“You are so young. You’re forty-one. That’s not even middle aged.”
“You better stop it or I’m gonna kiss you, smear all this shaving cream all over your face.”
“You’re gorgeous! You’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen!”
Glenn tossed his razor in the sink, spun around and grabbed Jason, pulling him into himself. Jason melted into his embrace, kissing the man squarely on the lips. When he pulled back, he had a white mustache.
“I warned you,” Glenn said.
“You better let me finish getting dressed,” Jason said. “Or we’re gonna need to take another shower.”
Glenn shook his head. “Ah to be your age again. How many times can you come in one day?”
Jason cocked his head, thinking. He held up his hand and counted out on his fingers. “The shower was the sixth, I think. Or was it seven? That is, if by ‘day’ you mean a twenty four hour period.”
“Unfucking believable,” Glenn said, shaking his head once more. Jason laughed.
Monday morning, Jason woke up before Glenn. He crawled out of bed quietly, careful not to disturb the man with who’d spent every single minute of the previous four days. After using the restroom and making a pot of coffee, he took a cup outdoors and sat on his balcony.
A bittersweet feeling washed over him. The weekend had been so wonderful. He and Glenn had a wonderful time. It wasn’t entirely about sex, but they certainly got their fair share. They also cooked together, went to a movie, went out to eat. On Sunday, when Jason was sure the office would be empty, he took Glen in to see where he worked.
They had so much to talk about and were compatible in so many ways. First and foremost, they both were techies, but more than that, their personalities blended. Glenn was a bit more outspoken and extroverted, and Jason loved that about him. He liked that the man took charge. He liked that Glenn was decisive but not bossy. He was self-confident but not arrogant.
It was funny how his perception had changed. His very first reading of Glenn was that he was a tad cocky. Jason wasn’t sure at this point if he’d initially been wrong or if he’d just gotten to a point where that cockiness had grown on him. Hell, it didn’t really matter. Jason liked everything about him, and if truth be told, he probably liked him at least partially because of his cockiness.
Jason had always been the nice guy. All through school, everyone who knew him, considered him to be friendly and courteous. He had a very laid back, tolerant personality. He was, in a word, non-confrontational. Even with his father, he knew how to communicate with him, calm him down without having the situation escalate into an argument.
He was glad that Glenn was a little different. He liked the fact that Glenn didn’t shy away from confrontation. He liked that he took charge.
The bitter part of Jason’s morning was the reality he was facing. Glenn would be leaving that afternoon. He’d be gone, and Jason’s dad would be back. It really sucked because it wasn’t just a matter of keeping a relationship a secret from his dad. If Glenn lived in Denver, that might actually be possible. Jason had his own apartment, and he led his own life. His dad didn’t need to know who he was seeing.
But with Glenn living in Houston, Jason didn’t know when he’d see him again. It wasn’t like Jason could just tell his dad he was leaving for a few days or even for a weekend. Most of the time, Jason worked on Saturdays, and when he was away for any length of time, he told his father.
As wonderful as the weekend had been, Jason knew that whatever he had with Glenn had to end, and he felt sick about it. He felt as if he could just break down and ball. It was crazy of him, really. He’d only known the man a few days. They’d met the previous Monday, had drinks on Tuesday, gone out on Wednesday and then followed it up with a four-day love nesting in Jason’s apartment.
It was a wonderful affair, but that was all it was. That was all it could ever be.
“Don’t look so sad,” Jason turned to the voice behind him.
“Good morning,” he said.
“What’s wrong? You’re deep in thought,” Glenn observed.
“You’re going away today. I’m feeling a little… I don’t know. Melancholic, I guess. It was so beautiful that I don’t want it to end.”
Glenn stepped over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Babe, this is just the beginning. Just because I’m going home doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to see each other.”
“Oh? And how would that be?”
Glenn shrugged and smiled at him. He leaned over and kissed Jason on the forehead. “I’ll fly up every chance I get. I’ll fly you down to Texas. We’ll have weekends, holidays, vacations… until we’re to a point where we’re ready to make some serious decisions.”
“Glenn…” Jason sighed. “I can’t do that. You know I can’t.”
“Okay, then we’ll decide right now. I won’t go back. I’ll move my operation here. I’ll open an office in Denver. I design fucking software. It doesn’t matter where I live.”
“We just met, and neither one of us is ready for that yet. You don’t even know what my farts smell like yet. You haven’t even figured out what a horrible singer I am and that I’m anal about my CD collection.”
Glenn laughed. “I’ve smelled your farts, and I do know those things about you. I heard you at the karaoke bar, and you’re anal not just about your CD collection but about everything.”
“That’s not my point.” Jason reached up to take Glenn’s hand. “I’ve loved the time we had together, but it’s too soon to take up a homestead together. And what am I supposed to tell my dad? He doesn’t even know I’m gay.”
Glenn stepped over to the empty lawn chair beside Jason and took a seat. “That’s not a question I can answer for you, Jase. But I do know that at some point you’re gonna have to tell him about yourself. Don’t you think he’d want to know?”
“I don’t want to hurt him, Glenn. He’s been through so much. I don’t wanna disappoint him.”
“Let me ask you this. What do you think is more hurtful: when someone you love lies to you or when they’re different than you?”
“That’s not fair, and you know it. I’ve never lied to my father about who I am. I just haven’t told him.”
“That’s a lie of omission.”
“Call it what you want to,” Jason said, sighing. “The point is, even if I told him I’m gay, how could I ever tell him about you? You know how he is.”
“Jason, I hope you’ll give this some more thought. I don’t want to be unfair to you, but essentially what you’re saying is that you’ve chosen your father over me. No matter how close we get, no matter what we mean to each other, I’d never put you in a position where you had to make that choice. But right now, you’re making it on your own.”
Jason stood up and grabbed hold of the railing. “You just don’t understand! I don’t even have a choice.”
“So you’re saying there’s no hope for us? You’re not willing to even make an effort to work out some sort of solution—some way for us to see each other?”
The hot tears began to stream down Jason’s cheeks as he felt the emotion sweep over him. “Glenn, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to do.”
“You have my number. I want you to give it some more thought. I’ll call a cab.”
“Wait! Do you have to go already?”
“It’s after ten o’clock. My flight leaves at one and it’s an hour drive to the airport.”
“I don’t want you to go.”
“But I have to. You said so yourself,” Glenn reminded him.
Jason stood on the balcony for the next forty five minutes until he saw Glenn get into his cab and leave his life for good.
“Wow,” Jason said, “you come back tanned, relaxed, happy—in the best mood you’ve been in years. You need to take more trips to Texas.”
It was their first day back to work and Jason was in his father’s office with him. “This coffee is terrible,” Robert said. “I wonder if I could get Janine to run over to Starbucks.”
Jason laughed. “Dad, it’s the same coffee you’ve been drinking for the last five years. You want Starbucks, I’ll make a run over there. I’ll check with everyone else to see what they want.”
“Nah, you don’t have to. I’ll deal.” He turned toward his computer screen, whistling as he read through emails. He was like an entirely new man. Smiling, laughing … and now even whistling.
“You got more than just a big sale down in Texas, didn’t you?” Jason asked.
His dad grinned. “I had a good time, sure. And what’d you do this weekend?” He looked up from the monitor to make eye contact with Jason.
“I input all the data from the show. We made a hundred fifty-three contacts which I added to the database. I also worked on the Huntington software and …”
“In other words, you worked all weekend. You didn’t do anything fun or relaxing like we agreed.” His dad pushed his chair back and clasped his hands behind his head.
“I didn’t even come in to the office,” Jason said, raising his hands, palms out. “Ask Janine or Devin. And I went to a movie. And I ate a corn dog, for Chrissakes.”
His father laughed. “Jason, when was the last time you took vacation?”
“Uh, I don’t know. I’ve only been home from school for two years.”
“I just had a vacation. I haven’t worked since last Wednesday. I already told you I didn’t come into the office…”
“Jason, you’re on vacation starting immediately.”
He jumped out of his chair, shaking his head. “No, Dad. I have way too much…”
“A deal’s a deal,” he said. “I want you to go home, put on a pair of shorts and grab yourself a beer. Then you’re gonna open your laptop and find a travel agent and get the fuck out of here for the next two weeks.”
“I can’t do that, Dad. Please.”
“Do you know how big this account is that we just landed?” His dad asked. “One point seven million dollars, and it’s all because of you, son. You designed it! You created the demos and the Power Point presentations, and you even handled all the details of the trade show.”
“And you sold it! Dad, I had nothing to do with that sale. It was 100% you!”
“Son, I’m proud of you, and I love you very much, but please don’t make the same mistakes I have. There is more to life than work.”
This made no sense. Jason’s dad was praising him while at the same time informing him that he was being banished. He knew he should be grateful for the time off work, but it felt more like a punishment to him. “Dad, if you’re so proud of me, why are you trying to get rid of me?” He placed his hands on the edge of his dad’s desk and leaned forward.
“No, it’s not like that,” his father said, staring directly into his eyes. “You know I’ve been very lucky. When I met your mother, I fell head over heels for her. I never really understood what she saw in a guy like me. I was so blessed.
“But I wasted those years. All I did was work. I worked twelve, fourteen hours every day. We never took a vacation together, other than our honeymoon. We hardly ever went out for a romantic dinner or even just to do something fun. Then, all of a sudden, it was too late.”
“Mom was very happy,” Jason said. “She loved her life.”
His dad nodded. “Yes, but that’s not the point. I’ll always regret not doing more for her. You’ve heard the saying that when you walk through a graveyard you never see the epithet ‘I wish I’d have worked harder’ on a tombstone.”
Jason’s dad pushed his chair back and stood up, stepping around the desk. He placed his hand on Jason’s shoulder.
“Dad, I’m glad you met someone who makes you happy. Maybe you should be the one to take a vacation.”
He smiled. “I’m going to. I’ll be going back to Texas next month for the installation of the software. I’ll be on site until after we go live, and then Laura and I are going on a cruise. I’m gonna need you here to handle everything while I’m gone, which is why you’re going on vacation now.”
“No arguments. I’m both your father and your boss, and I won’t tolerate any insubordination.”
Jason rolled his eyes. He took a deep breath and then sighed dramatically. “Okay fine. If you can go to Dallas, then I can go to Houston.”
His dad smiled and nodded. “Sure. You can go wherever you want. But what’s in Houston?”
“I have a friend there. Someone I knew in college,” he lied.
“Okay.” His dad lightly slapped his shoulder. “There ya go. So get the hell out of here. Time’s a wastin.”
“Sure you don’t want me to run to Starbucks for you?”
Jason had been separated from Glenn for less than forty-eight hours, but it felt like a year. He sat in the coach seat waiting for the seat belt light to go off. It was the part of every flight that was most maddening to him. He just wanted off the damn plane so he could again be in the arms of the man he…
What? The man he cared a lot about? The man who made him happy? Glenn was the first person in Jason’s life that had ever made him feel this content. It was like Glenn worshipped the very ground that Jason walked on, and no one had ever been that way with him. To be honest, the feeling was mutual.
After Glenn left Monday morning, Jason was heartbroken. He was angry and bitter and frankly, very depressed. So what did he do? He worked. He went in to the office that afternoon and worked until almost midnight. When he told his father the next morning that he hadn’t stepped foot in the office, it was a bald faced lie.
Then after his dad informed him that he was on vacation, Jason was afraid to even call Glenn. He had every right to be angry with Jason. It was a wonder the man even would speak to him. But when he answered the phone, he sounded thrilled. He was excited just to hear Jason’s voice, and when Jason told him about his vacation, Glenn was ecstatic.
“So what are you waiting for?” Glenn asked. “Get on a plane and get your sexy little ass down here!”
Jason laughed. “I have a flight booked tomorrow morning.”
“You couldn’t get one earlier?”
Jason liked that about Glenn. He liked the way he was impulsive enough to do something just because he wanted to. Regardless the cost , impracticality, or inconvenience, if he wanted it, he went for it. Jason had booked the early morning flight in order to save himself a hundred bucks. It just seemed the logical thing to do.
As he sat there on the plane waiting for it to pull into the terminal, he was kicking himself. He should have taken the more expensive flight last night. He’d already be in Glenn’s arms. They’d already have made love at least four or five times.
After de-boarding, Jason made his way through the terminal toward the security checkpoint. He knew Glenn would be waiting on the other side, and he quickened his pace, dashing hurriedly around the slow moving pedestrians in his way. At last, there he was.
Glenn rushed over to him, scooping him up into a tight bear hug. It was like they hadn’t seen each other in years, and Jason couldn’t stop smiling.
“Mm,” Glenn said. “You smell so good.”
“I smell like puke,” Jason complained. “A baby spit up next to me on the plane.”
Glenn laughed. “See, you should have taken the late-night flight. Nobody brings babies on the red eye.”
“Well, I’m just glad to be here,” Jason said, wrapping his arm around Glenn’s waist.
“Yeah. I’m hungry for you,” he whispered.
Glenn bit his lower lip, staring directly into Jason’s eyes. “Don’t tempt me. I swear to God I’ll find us a supply closet.” He glanced around, feigning an inspection of their surroundings.
“Come on,” Jason said. “We need to get my bags. I’m warning you though, I don’t travel light.”
“I should have known.”
Houston was fabulous, beginning with the passionate four-hour lovemaking session at Glenn’s home. The couple stayed in the entire first day, made a huge dinner together that evening, and watched movies on Glenn’s big screen in the den where they again made love before falling asleep in each other’s arms.
The next day, they went to the gym together in the morning and in the afternoon rented bicycles. Glenn took Jason to a rodeo that evening where they indulged in Texas barbeque, followed by a stop on the way home at the ice cream stand where they each got enormous sundaes. Jason laughed as he pointed out how counterproductive it was to work out all day and pig out all night. They went back home and worked off most of the calories in bed.
Friday morning Glenn took Jason into the office where he introduced him to his staff. The feel of Glenn’s workplace was much like Glenn—casual and easy-going but highly productive. Jason found a corner where he set up his own laptop, thinking he’d just stay out of the way, but when Glenn called him over to show him a software platform he was working on, Jason soon got sucked into the project. “Wait! Go back,” Jason said. He leaned in front of Glenn and took over the keyboard, typing rapidly. “There. Try that code.”
“You’re a genius,” Glenn smiled, kissing the back of his neck.
For the remainder of the day, they worked together. “Well, I guess you won’t be in a hurry to come visit me again,” Glenn said as they were locking up the office at eight o’clock that night.
“What do ya mean?”
“You come down here for a vacation, and I put you to work.”
“Glenn, what are you talking about? These past four or five hours have been the highlight of my trip. I love that stuff.”
Glenn shook his head. “You really are a geek, aren’t you?”
“Your mouse clicks really turn me on,” he said with a bit of a growl.
“Oh?” Glenn said, pushing the door to the office back open.
“Don’t we have a dinner reservation?”
“It can wait.” He grabbed Jason by the shoulders and steered him back into the office. Before he knew it, Jason was lying flat on his back, stretched out over the top of Glenn’s desk.
The two weeks that Jason had with Glenn escaped way too quickly. Almost every day, even those when Glenn had to work, included something adventurous. Jason had never before been golfing and had always assumed it would be boring, but he went with Glenn and loved it. Jason had never tried Lebanese food and was a bit intimidated when he first looked at the menu of the restaurant Glenn had sprung on him, but he loved it. Jason had never eaten oysters or sushi or real Texas chili, but he tried them on Glenn’s insistence and he… didn’t love them. He hated them! But he was grateful for the experience.
He was grateful for every single minute with the man, especially when he happened to catch Glenn staring at him. Jason would be doing something, minding his own business, and he’d look up to see Glenn frozen, as if mesmerized. Jason would smile.
“Are you entranced?”
Glen slowly nodded. “By you,” he whispered. Then five minutes later they were naked…
Well, sometimes it happened that way. Other times it was enough simply to realize he was the object of this man’s affections. He didn’t completely understand why. Sure, he got that he was young. Of course, that had to be appealing to a middle aged gay man—having a young, twenty-something boyfriend. But why him? There were so many from which he could choose.
The night back in Denver that they’d gone to the gay bars together, Jason felt as if he were the envy of every gay man in the city. Glenn was a catch. He was uber attractive, incredibly sexy, intelligent, and by the looks of things, at the very least, upper middle class.
But when Jason caught Glenn looking at him like that, he got the feeling that Glenn thought he was the one who was lucky.
“I’m the lucky one.”
“No, I’m the lucky one.”
“No, I am.”
He thought of the chipmunks from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, arguing with each other over which one was more polite.
He didn’t want to go home. He had just three days left then he’d have to fly back Monday morning.
“We could go to Dallas this weekend,” Glenn offered. “It’s a four hour drive. I could take you to a Nascar race.”
Jason thought for a moment. It would be another adventure, one more thing to add to his list of new experiences. He shook his head.
“As much as I’d love to take a road trip with you, I don’t want to waste my last three days. I just wanna stay in. I want to make love to you dozens and dozens of times and pretend this never has to end.” He felt like he was experiencing déjà vu. It was Denver all over again, before Glenn had left.
Glenn stepped over to him and wrapped him in his embrace. He kissed Jason on the side of the head. “Baby, you know I don’t wanna push you, but if you don’t make a decision, it’s going to be like this every time.”
Jason squeezed him tightly. He knew that Glenn’s words were true. If he couldn’t come clean with his dad and be truthful, every time that he and Glenn were together would be bittersweet. Every time he said goodbye, he’d have to worry about when they’d be able to see each other again. He’d have to worry about keeping his secret. He’d have to deal with being away from Glenn.
“I’ll be flying in Monday before Dad leaves for Dallas. I’m gonna talk to him.”
“Are you sure?” Glenn held Jason’s head in the palm of his hands, staring into his eyes.
Jason nodded. “I don’t know how much I can tell him at once, but I’m at least gonna tell him about myself.”
“I’m so proud of you,” Glenn said, kissing him softly on the lips.
“You call me afterward. I’ll need to know you’re okay.” Again Jason nodded, wordlessly. “And if you have any problems, I’ll be there. I’ll fly up… or I’ll fly you back here. Whatever …”
“No. I have to run things for a few weeks while Dad’s gone.”
“That settles it then. I’ll come up there. I can work from my laptop. We’ll fly up together and I’ll stay at your apartment.”
“Yes! Yes, yes, yes!”
“In that case, let’s go see Nascar!”
Well, one of the benefits of flying with Glenn was that Jason’s seat was upgraded to first class. That did little to alleviate his anxiety about his upcoming conversation with his father, though. At least they had an early flight and got back in Denver by 9am.
“We’ll just take the cab to my place, and then I’ll drive over to the office. I told Dad I’d meet him there around ten, ten-thirty.”
“Are you going to be all right?” Glenn asked, squeezing his hand.
“Yeah,” Jason smiled and nodded. “You know, Dad’s whole demeanor seems to have changed since he met Laura. Even last night when I talked to him on the phone, he sounded relaxed and happy. He might not take it bad at all. I mean, don’t you think he must at least have a suspicion about me?”
Glenn released Jason’s hand and rested his own on Jason’s thigh, just above his knee. He rubbed it gently. “Probably,” he said. “My advice is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
“Glenn, that’s not very comforting!” Jason objected.
“What I’m saying is that your father has been known to have a volatile temperament. I just don’t want you to be hurt too badly if he overreacts.”
“Yeah, well I’m sure glad you came back with me.”
Jason made it to the office before his father arrived for the day. He started a pot of coffee and said hello to the employees who were already present. He was chatting with Janine, his dad’s secretary, when his old man walked through the front door.
His dad smiled warmly and stepped over to slap Jason on the shoulder. “Well, how was Texas? Oh… nevermind. I’ll find out for myself in a few hours.”
“Actually, it was great,” Jason said.
“Oh really?” His dad said sarcastically. “Is that why you were working while you were there?”
“Dad, I just checked a few emails…”
“So I probably don’t have to waste much time going over everything that happened while you were gone.”
“I think I’ll manage,” Jason smiled. “I’m sure I can figure it out. But Dad, I do need to talk to you about something before you go.” Suddenly Jason’s throat became dry and his knees turned to jelly. He coughed then took a sip of his coffee. He was trying to maintain a casual demeanor.
“Sure, come on,” his father motioned him into his office. Once they both were inside, his dad closed the door. “Son, is everything okay?”
Jason took a seat. “Yeah, everything’s fine. I just… well…”
“What is it?” His dad sat down on the other side of the desk.
“I don’t want to ruin your trip, but there is something I really need to tell you. It’s something that’s kind of hard for me to talk about.” He felt like a robot, as if the words were pouring out of him but he wasn’t really the one saying them. He’d rehearsed his speech so many times in his head that he was on autopilot.
“Jason, what is it?” His father’s brow was furrowed as he leaned against the desk.
“I’ve been keeping a secret about myself. Well… not really. It’s not like I was deliberately trying to lie to you, or to anyone.” Jason paused, waiting for his dad to interrupt. When he didn’t say anything, Jason continued. “Dad, I’m just gonna come right out and say this. I’m gay.”
His dad leaned back in his chair, covering his face with both hands. A wave of panic swept over him as he saw his father’s shoulders begin to shake. And then he began crying… sobbing! No, wait. Was he crying or laughing?
When his father pulled his hands away, a broad grin graced his face. His dad was laughing so hard that he was almost in hysterics. Jason stared at him, puzzled. Now Jason was the one furrowing his brows.
“Dad!” Jason said, a tad annoyed by his father’s reaction.
“I’m sorry,” he said, rising from his chair. He stepped over to Jason and placed his hand on his shoulder. “I … well, I’ve known that. I’ve known a long time. I just was talking to Laura about this last night. I’ve wanted to talk to you for a long time but didn’t know how. She said you’d come to me when you were ready.”
“Then why were you laughing?”
“I was so worried. I thought maybe you’d done something, committed a crime or something.”
“And that’s funny?”
“No. No son, you’re right. Of course that wasn’t funny, but it just was a relief, and it struck me as being comical because I immediately went from a state of worry to … “
“So it doesn’t bother you?” Jason interrupted. “You don’t care that I’m gay? Your only son?”
He shook his head. “Nope.” He started laughing again. “I don’t give a rat’s ass!”
“Dad! Did you take happy pills this morning? What is it with you?” Jason was now grinning himself, on the verge of catching his father’s infectious laughter.
His dad shrugged. “It’s love. It’s Laura. I don’t know, a combination of everything. Jason, I’ve known a long, long time about you. Your mom, when she was so sick, we talked about this.”
“So Mom knew?” Instantly Jason’s eyes flooded with tears.
“She was concerned—not about who you are—but about how I’d deal with it. She made me promise to support and love you no matter what.”
“How could she possibly know?” Jason said, his voice cracking. “I was only fourteen. I don’t think I even knew yet.”
“A mother knows,” he said, and now he seemed on the verge of tears. He grabbed hold of Jason, pulling him tightly into his chest. “Son I’m so proud of you, and I love you.”
“I love you too, Dad.”
As quickly as his father had embraced him, he let go, backing up to regain his composure. “Are you gonna be all right?”
“Yeah,” Jason smiled. “I’m gonna be just great, but I have one more thing to tell you.”
Jason’s dad grew serious. “You didn’t also break the law, did you?”
“Dad, stop it!” Jason laughed. “I can’t believe you would think I broke the law. What’d you think I did, hack into the Pentagon?”
“Well, if there’s anyone smart enough to do it…”
“No, I haven’t done any hacking. But the friend I told you about—the one I visited in Houston.”
“He’s my boyfriend.”
“I figured,” his dad said. “This doesn’t mean you’re planning to leave me, does it?”
“Oh no,” Jason assured him. “I love my job. I have no plans to leave the company. Ever.”
“Good, and what’s your young man’s name?”
Young man? Wow, this was going to be a tough one. “Dad, why don’t we talk about this when you get home? I’ll tell you and Laura all about him.”
“Oh, a mystery man, huh? He’s not a rebel or hoodlum or something, is he?”
“No, nothing like that. He’s also a programmer.”
“Well that makes sense, if he was someone you met in college.”
“Dad… go. You’re gonna miss your flight.”
His father stepped over and hugged him one more time, this time quickly, with a hard, masculine swat on his back. “I know you’ll take care of everything while we’re gone. I love you, son.”
“I love you too.”
Glenn stayed the first full week then flew back to Houston Sunday evening. He had meetings scheduled that he was not able to conduct via Skype. He vowed to be back Thursday. He would drive his car back and stay with Jason at least until his father returned from vacation.
After his father’s placid reaction to his big revelation, Jason felt a bit guilty that Glenn was even there. Guilty, perhaps, but he loved it all the same. It felt to him that Glenn was making a sacrifice for him, leaving his big home in Houston to come share Jason’s tiny apartment, especially when it hadn’t proved to be necessary.
Jason found it odd the way his father had taken the news so well. For all those years he had feared hurting his dad. Jason had worried his dad would be disappointed, possibly even angry. His biggest fear was that he would feel as if he had failed in some way as a parent. Interestingly, his father had known—or at least suspected all along. How strange, Jason thought, that Dad would ask me all those questions about girls, wanting to know when I would find a girlfriend.
Maybe his father had been in a state of denial. He’d had the conversation all those years ago with Jason’s mom, but he didn’t really want it to be true. Jason guessed that it was this new woman in his life that had made the difference.
Whatever it had been, Jason was thankful. A huge burden had been lifted from his shoulders, and this gave him the resolve to bite the bullet and confront his father with his other shocking piece of news. Not only was he gay, but he also was in love with his dad’s arch enemy.
He went over the scenario a million times in his head. Should I talk to him about Glenn first and try to reason with him? I could explain to him Glenn’s side of the story before actually revealing I’m in love with the man. Or should I tell him about my relationship first, let him blow up, and when he’s calmed down, discuss with him what really happened all those years ago?
Had Jason just acknowledged to himself that he was in love? Wait, wasn’t it too soon? How long had it been exactly? People didn’t fall in love that fast. Glenn hadn’t said the “L” word yet. Of course he wouldn’t. They’d only been seeing each other for a month. That wasn’t how it worked in real life.
But Jason knew how he felt. He’d never experienced anything like this feeling. It was a combination of so many wonderful yet powerful emotions. He was giddy and excited while at the same time peaceful and content. Some mornings he wanted to run out on his balcony, spread his arms wide, and shout out to the world, “I’ve found the man of my dreams, and I love him!”
He did love Glenn. He was absolutely certain of it, but he was afraid to say the word. What if it slipped out and Glenn didn’t feel the same way? What if Glenn didn’t want anything serious or long term? What if Jason was just a fling to him? His mid-life crisis.
All these thoughts passed through Jason’s mind during their four grueling days of separation. The only thing Jason could do was the one thing he knew how to do best. Work. He poured himself into his job, going into the office early and staying until well after dark.
Finally on Wednesday night, he couldn’t take it anymore. He’d spoken to Glenn at least three times that day on the phone, but he called him once more.
“Is everything all right?” Glenn said as he answered the phone. It was after 11pm.
“No!” Jason said. “Everything is not all right.”
“What is it, babe?” Glenn’s voice was laden with concern
“Us! Glenn, everything is not all right with us. I can’t stand this. I can’t stand not knowing.”
“Calm down, Jase. What is it? What do you mean?”
“Glenn… uh… oh God! Glenn, I’m just gonna say it. I love you.”
Jason held his breath, not daring to say another word as he pressed the cell phone tightly against his ear. Tears now were streaming down his cheeks.
“Babe, I’m so happy you said that.” He could hear Glenn’s voice choking up. “Because I love you too.”
“You do?” Jason sobbed.
“I do! I love you so much. I love you, I love you, I love you!”
“Then why didn’t you fucking say so?” Jason said, smiling through his tears. “And why the fuck aren’t you here now so I can kiss you, and make unbridled, passionate love to you?”
“I’m getting my clothes on now and will be on my way…”
“No, wait!” Jason laughed. “Wait, no I’m sorry. You need to sleep first.”
“How? How can I sleep now?”
The drive from Houston to Denver was a sixteen hour trek, so Jason did not want Glenn impulsively heading out in the middle of the night with no sleep. “Glenn, no. It’s too long a drive. You need to sleep first.”
“I hate sleeping without you,” he moaned. “I miss you. I miss the way you curl up next to me, drape your leg over my thigh and rest your head in the crook of my shoulder.”
“My hand on your chest—that amazingly muscular, hairy chest.”
“And the way you smell.” Jason could hear Glenn take a deep breath, as if that somehow helped him remember Jason’s scent. “I feel your soft hair brushing against my cheek. I keep asking myself, ‘Is this real? I must be in a dream because this angel lying here in my arms is just too damn good to be true.’”
“I’m rock hard. Being this close to you always makes me that way. God, I wish I were twenty years younger. You make me feel twenty years younger.”
“And as I lie there, eyes closed, I run my fingertips across that perfect chest. The hair is so soft, but those nipples… I find one! It’s a hard little nub, so excited by my touch. I tweak it, play with it a little, squeezing it with the tips of my fingers.”
“Oh Jason!” Glenn’s voice was a raspy growl. Jason visualized him lying there with the phone up to his ear, using his other hand to pinch his own nipple.
“I open my eyes, sliding myself even closer, up onto your torso. I lick my lips and take that little nub into my mouth.”
“Jase, it feels so good.”
“My lips around it, tongue darting back and forth, I flick your hardened nipple until you squirm beneath me. God, just feeling that body of yours pressed so tightly against me… Fuck! I’m so turned on. I’m so hungry for you. My hands now traveling up and down the sides of your sculpted abdomen. So gently, so delicately, I touch you. I’m worshipping you…”
“Jason, please don’t stop.”
He had to close his eyes as he continued, reaching down to unzip himself. “I begin kissing you. Every inch of that chest, then your neck. I’m so aroused, leaking precum as I wiggle around on top of you. I feel your hands on my back. You moan…”
He did moan.
“You grab hold of my head, pull me up for a kiss. Oh Glenn, your kisses are incredible. The feel of that bristle—that razor stubble you always have—I feel it against my chin, against my cheek. I can’t get close enough to you. I can’t get enough of my tongue in your mouth. You respond, twisting your head slightly as I grind my body against yours, my mouth against your mouth, my tongue against your tongue!”
“I pull back, kissing you, worshipping you. All the way down your body, every fucking inch of your gorgeous, perfect body. Until finally I find it… I find what I want most. What I need most. And it needs me too.”
“It does need you. I need you. Oh Jason!”
“I love how yours has its own hoodie.” He hears Glenn chuckle. “I pull it back, unsheathing it, staring at the pearl of white precum. So yummy. So tasty, I lap it up, savoring your flavor. Mmm. Oh god, it’s not enough! I need more of you. I need all of you.
“I dive for it, wrapping my lips around the bulbous head. The feel of it in my mouth is heaven. The feel of your shaft in my hand as I wrap my fingers tightly around the base—it’s so hard. Pulsing. It’s on fire. You’re on fire!
“I press my tongue against that smooth, sensitive underside. I know just how to use my tongue. I know just how to make you squirm…”
“Yes, yes you do!”
Jason had his own cock out, stroking it. “Slowly at first, I want you to enjoy it as long as possible. My warm, wet mouth, silky smooth, sliding down that hard shaft of yours. I want to make you writhe on the bed. I want control of you—control of every inch of that masculine, muscular frame. I have you in the palm of my hand, and you’re so fucking helpless.”
“Oh Jason, oh please…” His voice was barely a whisper.
“All the way down, I take you inside my mouth and slide all the way down to the base of your cock. My tongue dances against your throbbing flesh. You squirm beneath me. You moan. You cry out. You beg for it!”
“Please baby! Oh god, please don’t stop. Don’t ever fucking stop!”
“Back up to the tip, my mouth is like velvet, and you love the sensation. But… but you want more. You want to thrust. You want to be as far inside of me as you possibly can be.”
“Too bad,” Jason teases. “You have to wait. You’re not in control. I’m in control and you’ll take what I give you. You’ll take it and like it!”
“Yes… oh Jason, please. Please!”
“Up and down, gaining speed, I suck you faster and hard. You lie there, gripping the bed sheets, bucking your hips. You’re getting closer. Closer and closer as I continue to suck.”
“Baby, I’m so close!”
Jason was close himself. He squeezed his eyes tightly shut as he continued, all the while stroking himself. “I can feel it! I can feel the way your body tenses, the way your cock grows even more rigid against my tongue. Your balls pull up against your shaft. You’re right there. You’re right fucking there on the brink.”
“Take me, Jase! Take me over the brink.. I beg you!”
“Unngggh! Shoot it!”
Glenn moaned loudly into his ear as Jason fired his own load. Copious jets of creamy white fired from his hard shaft, splashing against his abdomen and chest as he began to tremble.
“Glenn,” Jason gasped, trying to catch his breath. “I love you. Get some sleep and call me when you’re on your way.”
“I love you too, babe. That was so hot.”
“I really wanna get this project done. Dad’s gonna be back tomorrow, and I just want everything to be tight when he gets here.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Glenn said. “Just do whatever you need to do. I can work from my laptop.”
“Hey, why don’t you come with me? Bring your computer, and when I’m done at the office, we’ll grab a bite.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Glenn said. He stepped over to desk where Jason was sitting and began kneading his shoulders, massaging him.
“Mmm, feels good. But… we gotta get going.” Jason stood up, turned and kissed his man.
“Are you nervous about tomorrow?”
“A little,” Jason admitted. “But I’m just gonna do it. I’m going to tell him and let the chips fall.”
“You know, Jase, overall your dad’s not an unreasonable man. Even back in the day, back when we worked together, he was a pretty easy going guy. He does have that temper, but in general he’s a decent and thoughtful person. He’s already told you he wants you to be happy.”
“It was my mom who regulated him. She was the one who knew how to calm him down.”
“I can see that,” Glenn said, smiling. “You know, I was friends with your mother before I ever started working with your dad.”
“Yeah. She’s the one who introduced us.”
“Did she know about you?”
He nodded. “Yeah, she knew I was gay.”
“And you were close to my mom?”
“We were very close, yes. I loved Chris very much.”
“That’s really amazing to me,” Jason said. “Now that I know the whole story and realize the sacrifice you made. I’m sure it was a really hard time for you too, yet you worked so hard and did what you had to do to get the project done … for my dad.”
“For both of them, really. I didn’t know what to do. What else could I do? The thing your mom needed most was her family, and by me working all those hours, it allowed your dad to be with her.”
“And he never realized that? He never appreciated all you did?”
“He’d just lost his wife. I can only imagine his pain.”
“Glenn, you’ve lived through his pain. You lost Stephen…”
“That was later. At the time we lost your mom, I had no idea. I don’t hold anything against Robert because I can’t say that I would have been any different than he was if I were in his shoes. But I love you, and I hope we can make him understand…”
“We will. I promise.”
“Finally! This project was a motherfucker, but it’s done. What a relief.” Jason pushed his chair back.
Glenn was sitting on the other side of the desk, laptop open. “You ready to celebrate, then? Hungry?”
“Starving,” Jason said. He stood up and walked around the desk to stand behind Glenn. Placing his hands on the man’s shoulders he leaned down and nuzzled his chin into his neck. “I’m hungry for you,” he whispered.
Glenn turned his head slightly and they kissed. It started slowly and gradually intensified, until finally their lips were locked together and they were Frenching like a couple of hormone-driven teenagers.
The sound of the door behind them did not at first register in Jason’s mind. Other than Janine, the secretary, there was only one person who had a key.
As Jason pulled away from Glenn and spun around to face his father, all he could think was, “Holy fuck.”
“What’s going on here?” his dad said. He was staring directly at Glenn. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Dad, you’re early.”
“What is that son of a bitch doing here? Jason, what’s going on?”
Jason held up his palms in a gesture of surrender. “Dad, calm down. We need to talk about this.”
“You bastard,” Robert spat as he stepped across the room. Glenn stood up to face him.
“Robert,” he said, nodding. “I’m sorry you had to find out like this…”
“Find out? Find out what? First you steal my software then you try to steal my company… and now this! Now you’re trying to steal my son.”
“Dad, it’s not like that. Please…”
“I didn’t steal anything from you, Robert.”
Laura was standing behind Jason’s dad, her hand now resting on his arm. She appeared to be holding him, perhaps pulling him back. “Robert, calm down,” she whispered.
“Calm down! Are you fucking serious?”
“Dad, stop it. We need to sit down and talk about this.”
“You lied to me, Jason.” His dad was pointing at him, stabbing his finger directly into Jason’s face. “You told me your friend was from college. A kid you went to school with…”
“I’m sorry. How could I tell you…?”
“That’s a damn good question. How could you tell me you were betraying me? Of all the people, Jason!”
“Please Dad, it’s not like that. Please just listen…”
“Robert,” Laura said. “Listen to your son, please. Let’s sit down…”
“I’m not sitting down! And I want you out of my office. Now!” He looked directly at Glenn.
“Stop it, Dad. If Glenn goes, I go.”
Jason took a deep breath, trying to hold back the tears that were brimming in his eyes. “I love him, Dad. I love him with all my heart. Please don’t make me choose…”
“Robert,” Glenn spoke, “think about it. Think about what happened. I never stole anything from you.”
“Get out!” Robert screamed. “Get the fuck out of my office!”
“Dad,” Jason pleaded, “if I go, I’m not coming back.”
“Robert, please,” Laura said. “Listen to your son.”
“He’s not my son! No son of mine would ever do something like this to me. Go on, both of you. Get out. Get the hell out of my life.”
Jason’s mouth dropped open. “Dad… how…?”
Glenn’s arm was around him as Jason raised his hands to his face, holding in a sob. “Come on,” Glenn whispered. “Let’s go.” He turned to Robert. “You don’t deserve him, Robert. And you sure as hell didn’t deserve Chris. I just pray to God you wake up before it’s too late… before you’ve lost everything.”
Jason stood in the doorway, staring at the empty apartment, shaking his head.
“I can’t believe this chapter in my life is over,” he said, squeezing the hand of the man he loved.
“Are you having second thoughts?” Glenn asked, leaning in to whisper into his ear.
“No… no of course not. It’s just … well, this should be one of the happiest days of my life, ya know. I should be celebrating, and really I am. I’m very happy, but sad at the same time.”
“Jason, maybe he’ll eventually come around.”
“I can’t worry about that anymore, though. I’ve done everything that can be done. I’ve emailed him, called, even gone to see him. He’s cut me off, and I’m dead to him.”
“I’m sorry,” Glenn said.
“He’ll probably get the letter today,” Jason said. He was referring to his ‘goodbye’ letter, in which he’d returned the un-cashed check his father had sent him six months prior. It had been his ‘severance’. Jason didn’t want or need his father’s money. He’d already accumulated his own nest egg, and now he had a new job. Glenn had hired him immediately, and he’d been working from home.
But it was time to move on. The lease on the apartment had expired, and it was pointless to renew it. Besides, he and Glenn had decided together that it was time to make things official. They were in love, and they wanted to be together all the time. They were not just boyfriends. It was not just an affair. They were ready to declare their love publicly, to be joined officially and legally in matrimony.
Glenn’s proposal had been so perfect—so utterly romantic, just as Jason had always dreamed. They were in Corpus Christi at a restaurant along the coast, and when Glenn popped the question, Jason lost it. Right there in the Texas restaurant, he took his husband-to-be in his arms and kissed him passionately.
“Yes! Oh god, yes, I’ll marry you!”
Same-sex marriage was not legal in Texas, but it didn’t matter. They’d have the ceremony there and then fly to New York where they’d make it legal. Glenn had promised to make it special. He said Jason deserved the very best and he was going to spare no expense. Jason felt overjoyed, though he’d have been just as happy with something less spectacular. The important thing was the wedding itself—the vows they’d exchange and all that the ceremony represented.
For now, their focus was to get Jason moved. Glenn had come up to help, and the moving van had just left. They were driving back together, and by the time they got there, all of Jason’s belongings would be waiting for them.
“Come on,” Jason said. “Let’s go start our new life.”
Teri had been Jason’s friend since junior high. Back then they called themselves “BFFs”, and she was the very first person Jason had told he was gay. After high school, Teri had gone to college out east and then graduated to take a job in New Jersey. He didn’t get to see her nearly as often as he’d like, but they stayed in touch through social media, texting, and cell phones.
She stood beside him in her silk taffeta bridesmaid’s gown, gently rubbing the small of his back. “You okay?” she asked.
Jason held his hand out to show her his tremor. “I can’t stop shaking. So nervous…”
“Aw,” she smiled at him. “You look spectacular. Glenn’s gonna shit when he’s see you in that tuxedo.”
Jason bit his lower lip as he looked at his reflection in the full-length mirror. He squared his shoulders, straightening his posture, and took a deep breath. “It doesn’t seem real,” he said. “Like I’m in a dream.”
“You two are a dream,” she observed, “and I’m so happy for you.”
He pulled her into an embrace. “I love you,” he whispered.
“It’s time for me to go,” she said. “Will you be okay?”
“I’ll see you in a few minutes,” he smiled. “At the altar.”
She squeezed his hand and made her way out of the room. After the door closed, Jason glanced down at his watch. Ten minutes. In ten minutes he’d be walking down the aisle beside his groom. How could the day be any more perfect? How could he ask for anything more?
He looked up as the door opened.
“You look fantastic.”
Jason stood there, staring at the man who meant so much to him. “Dad,” he whispered.
They paused momentarily then stepped closer to each other. “Son, I’m so sorry.”
He couldn’t speak. The lump in his throat made it impossible, so he simply nodded. With his eyes filled with tears, he stepped forward, holding out his arms. His father’s embrace enveloped him, and Jason buried his head in his Dad’s shoulder.
“Dad, I love you,” he whispered. “Thank you for coming.”
“Jason, I’ve been such a jackass.”
“I know,” Jason said.
His dad pulled back, holding him at arm’s length, and nodded. His eyes were moist as he smiled at his son. “Look at you,” he said. “If your mother could only see you, she’d be so proud.”
“I think she can,” Jason whispered.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about your mom lately.” He looked down at the floor then raised his head to again look Jason in the eye. “It was Laura who really made me think about it, see things clearly. When I got your invitation I did what you probably expected me to do. I threw it straight in the garbage. I didn’t know it then, but she had fished it out and held onto it.
“She brought it to me, placed it on my desk when I was working. Asked me to think about what your mother would say to me if she were alive today.” The tears streamed down his cheeks. “I didn’t have to think long. I knew. I already knew a long time ago. She’d say, ‘Robert, you’re a stubborn, bull-headed fool. Get your head out of your ass before you lose the one person you love more than life itself.’”
“I was so angry when I lost—when we lost your mom. I was furious, pissed off at God and the world. I couldn’t believe how damn unfair it was. She was so young, so beautiful, and she had so much more to give to the world. Worst of all, she had a child, and it was so wrong that she wouldn’t get to see him grow up.
“It was so wrong that as you grew up, you wouldn’t share all those special moments with your mother. The science fairs. The band concerts. Your graduation from high school and college. And now… your wedding.
“It was this anger—this rage—that made me so crazy. I was bitter and wanted to lash out, but I didn’t have anyone to take it out on. I attacked the one person who’d helped me the most. I know Glenn didn’t do anything wrong. If anything, he saved my ass. But I drove him away, and then it was too late. I was too proud to admit my own foolishness.”
“Dad, he knows. Glenn knows how much you were hurting.”
“I have to tell you, this is going to be an adjustment. I’ve thought of Glenn as my friend, my business partner—or former business partner—for a lot of years. It’s kind of strange to think of him as a son-in-law.”
Jason grinned. “I know, right?”
“But for as long as I’ve known him, he’s always been an upstanding guy. He was your mom’s dearest friend, and I know if he loves you as much as you say he does, then he’s gonna take very good care of you.”
“We’re going to take care of each other.”
Robert nodded. “Yes. Son, I’m so sorry. Will you please forgive me?”
“Yes,” Jason whispered. “Of course, yes. And will you forgive me for lying to you?”
He nodded then pulled his son back into his arms.
“Oh my God, that’s my music,” Jason said. “Dad, will you give me away?”
He wrapped his arm around Jason’s shoulder as they headed for the auditorium.
Glenn and Jason met at the center aisle, Jason being escorted by his father. When they approached, Jason saw Glenn look his dad directly in the eye. Robert held out his hand and they shook firmly, both smiling, before Glenn took Jason’s hand.
As they walked up to the altar, Jason’s heart soared. He now knew the answer to his question about how the day could be more perfect. He and Glenn stood before the clergy, their family, and their friends, and they declared their love for each other.
When Jason looked down at Glen’s hand as he was about to slip the ring on his finger, he whispered these words: “With this ring I thee wed.”