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Joseph Lance Tonlet
Wes' Denial Excerpt


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Chapter 1
James Goes Home

 

Late Fall 1999

  

DARK. IT WAS SO dark, and I woke to the unmistakable sound of someone crying out in pain. The lingering scent of gun oil and male perspiration mingled with scratchy-assed sheets and restrained grunts and shuffles as I rubbed at my sleep-deprived eyes; yep, I was in the barracks at the Marine Corps Depot in San Diego, California. I’d been here for eleven weeks and only had two more to go—and I was dead fucking tired. But not tired enough to sleep through someone receiving a beating, and there was no doubt that’s exactly what was happening. The distinct note of fists hitting skin is not one that is easily confused with any other. If that weren’t enough, James’ pleas—quite obviously being ignored—intermixed with the blows.

James McDougan had been doing his very best to ignore the taunting and teasing from our coenlistees over the past eleven weeks. However, once a group of six or seven guys realized he was gay—well, it was all over. It was just a matter of time before he dropped from the program. It just hadn’t happened yet. No, although he was quiet, he had the look of someone who prided himself on finishing whatever he started. That pride, though admirable, was costing him dearly at the moment.

Lying there in my bunk, I rubbed both callused hands over my face and yet again told myself I should do something. I felt bad for the guy, I really did. But I wasn’t sure what I could do to help him. Even though I was much larger than James’ five-foot-eight-inch, one-hundred, sixty-five-pound frame, and I’d have a much easier time defending myself physically, I wasn’t about to overtly stick my neck out for him because the only thing that would do is make me a target as well. And I sure the fuck didn’t want the dreadful attention he’d been receiving drawn to me—or to the same secret I was hiding, that James hadn’t been able to. Not for the first time, I thought, Jesus Christ, it’s 1999 not 1959, how can being gay still be such a big fucking deal?

Knowing I couldn’t just lie there and do nothing, I yelled out, “For fuck’s sake! I’m trying to sleep. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I need some shuteye before 0500 hours when the goddamned CQ starts his bullshit!” My yell went completely unnoticed by the assholes beating James, but not by the CQ himself. The overhead fluorescent bulbs blinked on suddenly and the utter darkness morphed into blinding, bright light.

The next several hours were a blur of activity that saw six assholes being dragged to the brig, James being carried out on a gurney, and the rest of us being interviewed about what we knew, what we’d seen, and what we’d heard—which wasn’t much considering the shit-fucks had used the cover of darkness to carry out their cowardly attack. It was a hell of a long night for everyone. For everyone but James that is; turns out he was dead before the medics even got him out the barrack’s door. Dead from a brutal, senseless beating that I did little, if anything at all, to stop.




Chapter 2
Cold And Lonely

Early Fall 2013

 

GRIF’S LIPS PULLED away from mine and I missed them already, so I dove back in for more. We’d stepped from the boat onto the dock, both of us intending to head home after spending five wonderful days together. That was nearly twenty minutes ago; neither of us truly wanted to see this thing end, even for a night.

The few hours’ boat ride from Santa Barbara to San Diego, after my job interview with his company, had pleasantly turned into a leisurely miniretreat; five days spent aboard Grif’s Toy talking and getting to know one another. We also did a fair amount of eating, drinking, swimming, sleeping, and having tons of amazing sex. But, by far, the talking had been the best and most fulfilling part of the entire trip.

His forehead rested against mine as he caught his breath. “Jeez, Wes…kissing you is just…fuck!”

Leaning in, I nipped his ear and then pressed my nearly giddy smile into its shell. “Yeah? You like, huh?”

Rather than answer, his head turned and his mouth caught mine again. At four in the afternoon, the dock was busy with other boat owners, passengers, and deckhands, but for all I knew, it was just he and I standing there. Long gone were thoughts of Diaz, Inc., security firm contracts, his small dick—and his fears surrounding it. Everything had faded until there was nothing but his aggressive, hungry tongue dueling happily with mine.

After sliding my hands down his back I palmed his ass and ground my crotch into his. His body stiffened and I knew Junior was instantly at the forefront of his mind. Withdrawing my tongue, I grabbed his bottom lip with my teeth and bit down. He groaned and whatever he’d been thinking was once again lost to pleasure.

Nudging his head aside, my lips found the side of his neck before I sucked just below his ear—it provoked the sweetest of pants. After an unplanned five-day retreat, we both had business we had to attend to, but I couldn’t help but want more of him. “We could get dinner.”

His fingers twined almost painfully in the back of my hair as he pulled my mouth tighter to his neck. “Yuh-you know it won’t stuh-stop at just dinner.”

I did know that. Thankfully at the precise moment my fingers slipped from the hollow of his back and past the elastic of his board shorts, my leather wrist cuff caught between it and the waistband of his jock and hampered my downward progression. That’s when a provocatively feminine catcall, immediately followed by a masculine “Get a room,” reminded me we were in public.

I pulled back with a stammer. “Uh, guess we oughta cool it, huh?”

He buried his face in my chest and his body shook with silent laughter. “Yeah, I suppose. We should probably get going anyhow.”

I wanted to protest, wanted to ask for yet another kiss, wanted to re-suggest dinner, or a drink, or anything to keep him in my company. To just keep him. I couldn’t get enough, and thankfully, he didn’t seem to be able to either. Fuck, this was gonna be so damn good.

As if sensing my pending protest, he leaned up and kissed me briefly. “We’ll talk in the morning, okay?”

~~~~~ 


“Hi, Matthew. It’s Wes De Luca.”

It’d been nearly three full days since I’d last spoken with Grif. After we’d managed to pull ourselves away from each other on the dock, we’d said our good-byes and firmed-up plans to talk again the next morning. And even though I typically wasn’t the kind to worry, I’d begun to grow a bit concerned as day three was drawing to a close and he still hadn’t returned my calls.

“Wes. It’s nice to hear from you. How are you?” Matthew’s warm greeting sounded genuine enough and didn’t seem to hold any concern at all. But there was something going on, and Matthew was Grif’s right-hand man, so if anyone knew what that something was, I felt certain it would be him.

“I’m doing well. Thanks.” Hesitating just a moment, I finally asked, “Look, you don’t happen to know….” Shit, how the hell was I going to ask if he knew where Grif was without coming across as some sort of creepy stalker? Sure, Matthew and I had spent some time together when I’d interviewed with him and Grif the week before. Diaz, Inc. was looking for a security firm and I’d met the two of them in Santa Barbara to present my proposal for the contract. But had Matthew gotten to know me well enough to trust me?

Seeming to sense my unease, he casually filled the empty phone line. “Yes, Wes. I do know where Grif is. And I realize you’re probably a little…perplexed, but please be assured that he is just fine.”

“Great.” I sighed in relief. “Do you also happen to know why he isn’t returning my calls?”

“I do. However, I’d rather refrain from insinuating myself into personal business that’s probably best kept between the two of you.”

Okay, that didn’t sound good at all. “Insinuating… Personal business… Um, what are you talking about? You’ve lost me.”

“Wes, I’d just feel better if you talked with Grif—”

“I’d be happy to.” I cut him off with as much respect as I could muster at the moment. “But he isn’t returning my calls.”

A soft, slightly frustrated sigh came through before his confession. “I know.” He seemed to contemplate his next words before continuing. “I’m going to give you a number where he can be reached—and he’s not going to take kindly to me sharing it with you—but that’ll be between he and I. Call him with the understanding that you’ll probably only get one shot. After that, he’ll likely not answer again.”

Um…okay.” I was clearly lost.

He hesitated, but his tone was kind when he spoke again. “Wes, I realize we don’t know one another very well, but I do like you. I’m admittedly putting myself in a rather precarious position here, but I honestly think you’re just what Grif….” He trailed off before starting again. “Initially, he was quite different upon your return from Santa Barbara. Much more relaxed. Happier. Look, I consider him a friend—a very good friend—but there are things he simply doesn’t talk to me about. Things he perhaps might actually benefit from talking to someone about. I feel you’ll treat him with care and respect. I think you’ve seen he’s a good man, Wes, and an even better person.”

With that, he gave me the number, bid me good luck, and said his good-byes.

I briefly paced the patio thinking about what I should say when—if—Grif answered and decided I needed a scotch in hand. If he was going to try and ditch me, and from what Matthew had said, that sure seemed like a possibility, then a scotch was certainly called for.

I poured a few fingers, grabbed my smokes and an ashtray, and headed for the patio with my phone.

The line rang so long that I’d just about given up when a sleepy voice finally said, “Uh, hello.”

“Grif? It’s Wes,” I said gently. “Did I wake you?”

There was a long silence before he finally answered. “Yeah, it’s a little late here. Um, maybe we could talk in the morning?”

Matthew’s warning echoed in my mind “…only get one shot…he’ll likely not answer again…” so I plunged forward. “How late is it?” Admittedly, it wasn’t the best “keep ’em talking” question, but I hoped it’d buy me enough time to come up with something better.

“It’s—” He paused and the familiar sounds of sheets and blankets being shuffled came over the line. “—2:30.”

Two thirty in the morning? Glancing down at my watch and doing some calculation, I quickly figured out he was five hours ahead of me. Where the hell was he?

“Grif.” I exhaled. “Not only do I suck at being coy, but I plain just don’t like it—not when it’s this important. Where are you, babe? I’m… I got concerned when you didn’t return my calls.”

“Wes, I’m just not sure this is going to work out,” he said with a resigned sigh. “In fact, if I’m completely honest, I know it’s not going to. So I’d rather just cut to the chase, save us both some disappointment, and say good-bye now.”

His normally confident and upbeat voice sounded resigned and dejected. So different from when I’d seen him last, standing on the dock, wind ruffling his hair and smiling with happiness. I could still feel his lips on mine as we kissed one last time—for the fifth or sixth time. Looking in his eyes, I could see the same hope and desire I was feeling reflected back at me. God, it was good. We were good.

Remain calm, I told myself. “Grif, I’m not asking for anything more than just talking right now.” Then, with a bit more pleading than I would’ve liked, I plunged forward. “Can we just talk?”

When he didn’t hang up, but didn’t respond either, I took it as a positive sign. “Where are you?”

“I-I just needed to get away for a bit…needed some time to think, is all.”

By the sound of his voice, I didn’t know who he was trying harder to convince—himself or me. But I was relatively sure what he was doing was trying to give himself time to forget about us. I wasn’t going to let that happen…at least not without a fight.

Attempting to keep things casual, I asked again, “And where are you doing this thinking?”

“Greenland” came his hesitant reply.

“What” I barked with much more irritation than would benefit me under the circumstances. I was pissed and I knew I’d blown the whole “being coy thing” right outta the water, but fucking Greenland? What the fuck?

 I grabbed my scotch, took a healthy pull, and asked much more calmly, “As in the country of Greenland? You couldn’t just, I dunno, go down to the corner Starbucks? You had to go to Greenland?”

 Evidently I hadn’t gained as much calm as I’d thought because he bit back defensively. “Look! I’m a grown fucking man and if I wanna go to…come to…whatever, if Greenland is where I want to be—”

“You want to be in Greenland? Is that what you’re telling me?” After grabbing the scotch, I took another swallow before trying to inject a bit more assuagement into my voice, “Seriously, babe?”

“Well…” he conceded, my fence-mending attempt had apparently been somewhat successful, “it’s kinda pretty. I mean, it might be a little on the cold side, but…still pretty. And anyway…”

I’m sure he’d stopped talking because he could hear the chuckle I was desperately trying to hide as my irritation turned to amusement.

He chuckled as well before snapping out, “Fuck you.”

Full-on laughing now, I managed to get out, “No, no. I’m just trying to imagine that conversation, ‘Captain, I’d like you to fly me to Greenland.’ How’d that go over?”

Thankfully he saw the humor and began laughing too. “God, you should’ve seen it, Wes. He just sorta stood there looking at me for a second or two. Then it was like something snapped in his head and he was, like, ‘Absolutely, sir. Greenland. It should be lovely this time of year.’ It’s fucking freezing here. Freezing!”

I wiped at my watering eyes and really needed to blow my nose. “Grif, I’m gonna put the phone down for a second. Will you please…not hang up?”

He stopped laughing. “I won’t hang up.”

I set the phone down, blew my nose, and then lit a cigarette before picking it back up. “Sorry, I just needed to take care of that before it started running down my face. I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard.”

“Me either,” he said lightly. “Are you smoking?”

“Yeah.”

“Damn, I want a cigarette, but I’m in a nonsmoking hotel. It was the only thing I could find on such short notice. Who would’ve thought there’d be so many tourists in Greenland?”

“Well, you could always bundle up and step outside,” I offered with a grin. “If you’re talking to me on a cell, that is,” I quickly added.

“No, it’s not a cell and there’s no way in hell I’m going outside and risk crystallizing my nuts. Fuck it!” The sound of digging around filtered over the phone then the unmistakable flick of a lighter followed. “I’ll pay the fine—or just buy the damn place if I have to—but I’m smoking,” he said with an easy laugh.

He sounded more like himself again and it was nice to hear. “Good, because I don’t want any harm to come to your nuts either. I have plans for them.”

He went silent for a few moments again. “Wes—”

“No, Marcus Griffin. No!” This wasn’t the time to back down, everything about the trip, about Grif, had taught me that. “I’m not listening to any more…bullshit…about your little dick. Because that’s exactly what it is, bullshit.” I exhaled knowing that this may not be the best approach, but I didn’t know of any other. “I. Do. Not. Care. I don’t know how much clearer I can be. And it’s already been established that I am going to fall in love with you, Grif.” I took a deep breath and continued much more softly, “And you’re gonna love me someday too…I just know it. So, spend a few days in Greenland—hell, spend as much time as you need—thinking about that, coming to terms with that, and then come home to me. Okay?”

“Wes?” He spoke so quietly, so hesitantly, that my heart broke a little at the uncertainty in his voice.

“I’m here, Grif.”

“I’m…completely out of my element here…and that leaves me feeling very uncomfortable.”

At least we were getting somewhere; he was sharing his feelings, and that was so much better than not talking to me. This I could work with. “I understand. I do. Look, I realize we haven’t known each other all that long, but you don’t strike me as the kind of person who just runs off—”

“No, I’m not.” He paused briefly. “But I’m also not the kind of person who, after only seven days, goes and loses his mind over a piece of ass…”

He stopped abruptly but my heart had already jumped into my throat. He’d admitted that he cared. Regardless of the crass veiling he’d tried to cloak the admission in, he cared. I swallowed hard and, with a somewhat embarrassing crack in my voice, said, “Look, I’m not asking… All I’m asking is to spend time with you. We can take this as slow as you want; days, weeks, months, years even.” I swirled the ice cubes in my glass while thinking about my next words. I needed him to hear me. “So long as I get to have your company, I don’t care how long it takes. Honest.”

 ~~~~~
 

Grif was still in Greenland and today marked the end of week eight. My cell phone rang at almost five o’clock on the nose—which meant it was 10pm Grif’s time. Despite the countless hours we’d spent talking, my heart still thudded with the anticipation of hearing his voice again. We’d spoken every night for the last two months and long gone were the hesitant, tentative, sometimes awkward moments when the conversation turned toward our budding relationship. Organically, our conversations had steadily grown easier and far more intimate.

Sliding the answer button, I nearly chirped out, “Hiya.”

“Hey, Wes. You sound like you’re in a good mood. How was your day?”

“Better now. It’s so nice to hear your voice.”

“I thought about you a lot today too. Were you able to pick up the key from Matthew without any problems?”

My guys had begun installing a full security system in Grif’s Bankers Hill home today and I was supervising every detail. Window and door alarms; interior and exterior motion sensors—which would not only turn lights on, but also start the video recording software that was being installed later in the week; panic buttons spread throughout the house and property that tied directly into both San Diego PD emergency dispatch, and to my private security team as well. There would also be retrofitting of the exterior doors and windows to take advantage of the latest technology in security, and lastly, modifications to the home office so it would also act as a safe room.

Grif had granted De Luca Security the contract for Diaz, Inc. several weeks back and with all the paperwork settled, I had gotten started. My first priority was his primary residence and, much to my surprise, he’d given me free rein—with only one stipulation: he didn’t want the security to be visible. Understandably, he wanted—above all—for it to still feel like home. In fact, he found the entire notion rather ridiculous and had only agreed when I pointed out that he’d sought out and hired a security firm. To which he quickly reminded me that it was only at Matthew’s insistence that he’d done so.

“Yes, I’m at your place now. Matthew arranged to meet me here with the keys. In fact, he hung around for several hours just observing. He’s a really good guy, Grif. And he’s actually got a wicked sense of humor when he lets it show through. A bit dry, but wicked nonetheless.” I reached over and grabbed a smoke, then lit it up. “It’s been a good day. Everyone’s gone now and I’m sitting on your deck, enjoying a bit of your scotch—I hope you don’t mind.”

“I’ll be sure it’s billed back to you,” he quipped with a chuckle. “Of course I don’t mind.”

“Thanks. And how was your day? You and Pavel have fun?” I intentionally tried to keep the annoyance out of my voice.

“Wow, you really are jealous, aren’t you?” And instead of waiting for me to answer, he let his mischievousness continue.  “Yes, we’ve had a very nice day; we haven’t left my hotel room since last night, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to walk tomorrow—let alone sit.”

I heard the low growl before I realized I was even making it. “Grif…!”

“Shut up, you damn fool, you.” He laughed. “I got his big Ukrainian ass up at the crack of dawn and we flew up to Nuussuaq to go kayaking. I know I’m not a morning person—not by any stretch of the imagination—but Pavel is downright mulish before 7am.”

I heard him light his own cigarette and thought with a smile that he would actually end up buying the damn nonsmoking hotel before all was said and done.

“Anyhow, we flew up, met our guide, and kayaked the Tasiusaq Bay. It was really cool making our way around these huge icebergs. It was so quiet and the only sound being made was our paddles hitting the cold water…and the occasional seal breaking the surface. Even though it was a spur of the moment, sort of whirlwind trip, it was completely worth it. But I’m sure Pavel’s dead-to-the-world in his room now. He’s a helluva big and strong guy, but he doesn’t have much stamina, ya know?”

Grif fell quiet for a moment. “Wes?”

“Yeah?”

“I have a few more questions I’d like to ask you, but…”

“But what?”

“Well, I don’t want them to come across as an interview or something. Can we do the Question Game?”

I laughed. “Well, I aced the last interview I had. I’m not sure I’ve told you about it yet. It was with this smokin’ hot rich guy…I wanted the job real bad and I ended up landing it.”

Now it was his turn to bark out a laugh. “I’m not sure what dumbass would hire a Ned like you!”

“A what?”

“I’ve been thinking about shortening Neanderthal to Ned…cuz I have a feeling I’ll be using it quite a lot.”

Ha! Well, neither you nor the guy who hired me seem all that bright, so I’m not convinced you’re the one who should be picking out nicknames. But, I’ll admit, what you lack in smarts you make up for with hotness, so I may let it slide.”

“Fuck you, NED!” he shot back, but the smile in his voice was clear.

Grif had come up with the Question Game a few weeks back and I really enjoyed the easy, relaxed way it allowed us to ask direct questions of one another. The premise was simple: he’d ask me a question, I’d answer it, and then he’d answer his own question. Then it would be my turn to ask one of him.

“Yep, Question Game. Sounds good.” I snubbed out my cigarette, pulled another chair over, and propped my feet up.

“Okay, here goes. Politically, would you consider yourself a Conservative or Liberal? Or somewhere in between?”

“Unequivocally a Liberal,” I said quickly. “My dad actually worked for both of the Clinton/Gore campaigns. Then, right before I entered the Marine Corps, we both volunteered for the Gore/Lieberman campaign.” I hesitated before asking, “You’re not a Conservative, are you?”

He chuckled. “Um, that would be a big ‘no’.”

That was a relief. Granted, after spending time with him I didn’t expect Grif to be anything but a staunch liberal, but the confirmation was still nice to hear. “Thank goodness. So, my turn, huh?”

“Yep.”

Hmm…okay, if you could only choose one, would it be love or sex?” I knew in my heart what his answer would be, but I wanted to hear the words. And I also wanted to give my own answer to the question.

He chuckled. “That’s an easy, one. Love. Without question.”

“Me too."

“Okay, since we seem to have moved to deeper questions, I have one about your military service.”

“Sure. What would you like to know?”

He paused a few heartbeats. “Did you ever…take someone’s life? I mean, I’d understand if you did, or if you’d rather not talk about it.”

“No. It’s fine.” I took a deep breath, thought about the truth, but just as quickly buried it. “Fortunately, I never directly…no, at least not that I’m aware of. Meaning, my team was assigned to hotspots around the globe; everyplace from Iraq, to Afghanistan, to the DR Congo, to Thailand, and countless places in between. We had to make tough, snap decisions. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell which bullet brought the bad guy down, ya know?” Again, I thought about how much of the truth I dared share, and decided my answer had technically been an honest one.

He didn’t respond right away, but I heard his soft exhale. “I shouldn’t have asked that. You were in the military, of course you—”

“Grif, there’s nothing you can’t ask me. Nothing. Okay?” Except for the tattoo. Don’t ask about that. 

“Sure,” he answered faintly.

“So, my turn again. Let’s see.” I hummed into the phone. “Entertainment wise, reading or TV?

Ah, that’s an easy one: without a doubt, reading.”

“Oh really? What do you read most often?”

He paused. “Well, you did stipulate ‘entertainment’, so…”

“Yeah?” I smiled.

He laughed, and there seemed to be a hint of embarrassment in it. “I like trashy romance novels. In fact, the trashier the better.”

“Well, I can’t judge based on trashy. I love The Real Housewives of—”

“No!” he gasped. “Wes! You do not!”

His sense of humor, and that he got mine, was one of the things I enjoyed most about him. “Hey, hey, hey! I didn’t poke fun at your Dean Does Dallas, or whatever.”

Psh! It’s not even remotely the same. And besides, romance isn’t porn…well, um, it’s not only porn.” He laughed. “Okay, my turn. Hmm…I’ve got it…and this is important; sweet or dill pickles?”

 After poking around the galley on Grif’s Toy, I knew he loved sweet pickles—there’d been jars of them in one of the cabinets. I decided to have a bit of fun with my answer. “Without question, dill. I mean, who on earth eats sweet pickles? They’re just plain wrong! Like just…ew… really, really nasty.”

He made a somber sounding tsk-tsk. “Wow, I’m afraid that may be a deal breaker.”

With a snort, I continued with my mock repulsion. “If you’re telling me you actually put sweet pickles in your mouth—the same mouth you used to kiss me? You might be right…that just may be a deal breaker!”

Like every night, we spent the next several hours talking about everything from books, to movies, to music, to volunteering and philanthropy, to human rights struggles, and the environment. I wasn’t particularly surprised that our weeks of talking had confirmed we shared common ideals and beliefs on all the important things.

Eventually, I ventured back to the serious side. “So, this is probably the most important question I’ll ask tonight…” But then I had second thoughts and paused; what if his answer wasn’t one I wanted to hear? Or what if he felt like I was pushing him? But, on the other hand, there hadn’t been a truly uncomfortable moment between us since nearly that first conversation two months ago. So I plunged ahead. “It’s been a while now, Grif. Are you any closer to coming home?”

He didn’t respond right away, so I held my breath and waited. Finally, to my relief, he answered, “Yes, I’m getting closer, Wes. Much closer.”

 ~~~~~
 

The crew and I both watched as the ground marshaller directed Grif’s pilot into place with a series of signals, using orange wands. Once the Gulfstream G450 had come to a stop and the engines were killed, a small army of personnel quickly swarmed the plane and began their work. My eyes never left the marshaller, and he finally brought one of the wands to the brim of his hat; my signal that it was safe to approach the plane. I did so just as the door opened and the stairs began unfolding. Not missing a step, I hopped onto the bottom one and then took them two at a time until I stood in the luxury cabin.

Grif was still seated, shoving a mountain of papers into a soft-sided leather messenger bag. I had to stop and catch my breath; I couldn’t believe, after more than two months, he was actually here—he was home. And he was even more handsome than I remembered. Hell, he looked like something right out of an L.L.Bean catalog, wearing hunter green cargo pants, hiking boots, and a black and green checked shirt. He’d likely shaved this morning, but sexy late-night dark blond stubble now covered his cheeks and chin. Damn, he was incredible looking.  

He didn’t initially look up, probably assuming I was a member of the ground crew, but when his blue eyes met mine my chest tightened. He had no idea that I’d be here and I wasn’t exactly sure what his reaction would be—but I didn’t have a choice; I had to come. Now, as I stood there taking in the sight of him, my throat tightened to match my chest and my eyes began to sting. Jesus, he was such a man, and he was beautiful, and he was mine.

His eyes lit and the corner of his lips quirked as he stood. “I’m gonna end up firing Matthew…his loyalties are supposed to lie with me…not some Ned like you.”

I smiled back. “Yeah, well, I threatened him with the loss of something much more precious than his job if he didn’t give me your flight plan.”

I walked over, stopped just a few feet from him, and I had the overwhelming urge to grab him and pull his body into mine. Instead, I said with a grin, “And Matthew, like most guys, would rather his gonads remain attached to his body.”

He laughed and softly shoved at my chest but didn’t remove his hand as the heatless blow finished. His warm palm rested against my left pec and he looked up. “Your heart’s beating really fast.”

I looked down at him, covered his hand with mine, enjoying his touch too much to be embarrassed by my racing ticker, and used my other to slide along his strong jaw. “Grif, I’ve missed you so much,” I whispered as I ran my fingers through his sand-colored hair just above his ear—it was much longer than the last time I’d seen him—and finally letting them come to a gentle rest at the back of his neck.

He nodded and said in an equally whispered voice, “Me too.”

After a few moments, he closed the small gap between us, reached up and wrapped his arms around my neck. I couldn’t hold back any longer and quickly grabbed him by the ass and lifted his body into mine.

He yelped in surprise, then just as quickly wound his long, muscular legs around my waist, and grinned. “Somehow I’d managed to forget just how big—and freakishly strong—you are.”

I winked at him. “Six foot three, two hundred and fifteen pounds of pure muscle, and all yours, babe.”

His head tilted back and he barked out a laugh. “‘Modest’ and a ‘Ned’, you forgot those!” Those gorgeous eyes settled back on mine, the heat returning to them, as his tongue darted out and nervously licked at his lips. “Next to you I feel small in comparison.”

We both knew his sexy emphasis of the word small had absolutely nothing to do with his five foot ten, hundred eighty pounds, and everything to do with the secret he’d shared only with me.

I hugged his firm body closer to mine and buried my face into the side of his neck as a single bleat noisily escaped my chest before I could choke it back. “Griiif, Griiif, Griiif,” I moaned repeatedly while running my lips across his warm neck. The tiny whiff of his scent I’d caught as I entered the cabin now filled my nose and mouth as I dragged the tip of my tongue to the front of his throat and ended with my lips on his chin.

He cooed, “Wes,” and held me tighter. “Jeez! You make me feel so…wanted. I’ve never—”

My lips brushed over his and I kissed him lightly, slowly, feeling every place our mouths met. His legs tightened and he almost purred as I slid my tongue past his lips. He tasted of scotch, and Chocolate, and manliness. I couldn’t get enough and soon the soft dance of our tongues heated. I managed to snag his between my teeth and held it there while sucking on it intently. He moaned, opened his mouth wider, and ground his crotch lightly against my abdomen.

When we finally parted, each of us trying to catch our breath, I rested my forehead on his and whispered, “I understand if you’re not ready to say it yet, but I am.” Pulling back, I caught his eyes again. “I love you.”

A soft clearing of throat sounded from somewhere behind us. “Um, sir? The ground crew would like to…finish up.”

Both Grif and I looked over and saw who I assumed was the pilot standing in the doorway. Grif whispered playfully in my ear, “Let me down?”

I smiled and growled, “Nope. Never letting you go again.”

He chuckled, fingers playing with the hair at the nape of my neck. “I thought you were gonna let me take this slow.”

“Two months is pretty damn slow in my book.” I held him tighter. “Tonight I wanna sink into you, fill you up, remind you of who you belong to.” I captured his mouth again, sliding my tongue back into him, sucking in his taste once more and leaving mine behind as I pulled away. “You are mine, Grif,” I breathed against his lips. “I’m gonna give you all the time you need to come to terms with that. But, make no mistake, you are mine.”

“Wesss,” He moaned as my hands palmed his muscled ass.

“Sir? Should I…?” came the pilot’s renewed question.

Grif’s posture stiffened as he regained his composure. “Yep, Captain. We’ll be right out.”

His lips were at my ear and he whispered right before clamping down on my lobe, “Put. Me. Down. You damn fool, you. Don’t make me hurt you.”

 ~~~~~

I watched as my slick cock slowly disappeared into his tight, jock-clad ass. Fuck, I’d never felt or seen anything better in my life. He was lying on his side and I pulled his back up next to my chest once I was finally, fully seated inside him. Snuggling us up against each other, I sighed in contentment and relaxed. My fingers languidly played with one of his hard nipples—softly rolling and plucking the sensitive nub. God, he loved having his nipples played with, and I was thrilled to be the cause of his pleasured murmurs.

After a few minutes he panted, “Wes?”

“Yeah?” I asked, almost in a daze, dragging my tongue across the soft skin of his neck.

“Are you gonna…um…move?”

“Not right now. Just be still and feel my cock in you, babe. Just feel me inside you.”

Ten minutes later he was nearly writhing as my hand drew lazy circles on his sculpted chest and my lips continued to trace the corded muscles of his neck.

He placed his palm on the back of my hand and pressed down firmly to stop its movement. “Wes! Enough, goddammit. Fuck me!”

When my only response was another languid kiss to the back of his neck, he murmured, “Jeeesus! Pleeease!

I conceded with a smile and rolled my hips—dragging out just a few inches and then slowly sinking back in—sliding along his spongy bundle of nerves over and over with each roll. He turned his head and sought out my mouth. As we kissed I felt him moving my hand down his chest, over his abs, and then my fingers felt his soft, silky pubes for the first time as he slipped them beneath the jock’s waistband.

I stilled our hands and gently broke the kiss. As I opened my eyes, I caught his and watched a salty drop escape one corner and slide out of view down his cheek. I began to pull my hand back knowing his deep fear of being touched—or even being seen below the waist—but his grip tightened, stopping me from pulling away.

“Hey,” I said softly, nuzzling my nose against his. “Why all of the sudden…? We don’t have to—”

“Sure we do,” he nervously interrupted.

I shook my head gently. “No. We don’t.” Running my fingers through the soft, curly hair—but making no move to go lower—I leaned in and kissed him tenderly, hoping to convey just how much I wanted him. “I’m thoroughly content with doing exactly what we’re doing right now and I don’t need anything more.”

Although he seemed completely composed, more tears began falling. “Right now.”

Confused, I asked, “What do you mean?”

“I mean you’re okay with just this right now. But what about next week, or next month? Will just this still be enough? I can’t bear not knowing anymore, Wes. Not knowing when you’ll finally reach the point of calling it quits because I can’t give you…. Yeah, it’ll hurt like fuck if this ends tonight, but I’ll be able to get over it.” He turned his head, rested his cheek back on the now damp pillow, and looked out at the moonlit backyard. “If this goes on much longer…if I let myself fall deeper…I’m not sure I’ll be able to take it when it ends.”

He was quiet a few seconds and then mumbled in a broken voice, “As good as this feels—and make no mistake, it’s the best feeling I’ve ever known—it’s always tainted with the sickening knowledge that it will eventually end.”

“Babe—” I started but he cut me off.

He sighed through trembling lips, “No, Wes. I need to know. Tonight.”

It’s not that I didn’t want to touch him—I did. But it wasn’t out of curiosity; I already knew, no matter what I might feel if I moved my hand lower, I wasn’t going anywhere. He was mine, he just didn’t believe it yet. I also had a pretty good idea of his size, from his holding up my finger in the pool aboard Grif’s Toy, and saying, “This is about what I can give you.” No, I wanted to touch him for one reason and one reason only: doing so would enable me to offer him even greater pleasure. When he shot I wanted him fucking screaming out my name. No matter how large or small his dick was, I was pretty damn confident in my skill as a lover, and I’d make it happen. My fingers began to tremble in anticipation of his eventual cries of ecstasy.

“Okay, babe, okay.” If this is what he needed to take us to the next step, then I didn’t have a single reservation in doing it. “How do you want it to happen? Slow and teasing, or quick and to the point?” Feeling his body tense at my agreement, I steadily sunk my teeth into the tender juncture of his shoulder and neck and laggardly rotated my hips against his ass. He sucked in a breath at the juxtaposing sensations and moaned out in pleasure. Yeah, there was no doubt he was going to enjoy my darker side…I just needed to move him past this single hurdle. “Because, if you believe nothing else, Grif, believe this: no matter what your jock holds, it’s not going to make any difference in how much I want you.” I paused to lick the darkening spot I’d just created, then added, “So, you decide what’ll give you the most satisfaction. We both know your greatest fear, and probably one of your biggest turn-ons, is Junior’s size being discovered.” I bit down sharply again…oh, that was gonna bruise nicely.

“Fuck, Wes!” he cried out, and tilted his head to give me even greater access to his neck.

I rolled my hips again, scraping my thick cock over his prostate, and grinned. “I’m already doing that.”

“Slo-slowly,” he murmured hoarsely. “Just like you’re fucking me now…I wan-want….” He swallowed and said even more quietly, “I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I want the fear to last…it makes me….”

“It makes you fucking hot, doesn’t it, Grif?”

He nodded. “Yes.” But the reply was so soft, if I hadn’t been listening for it, I’d have easily missed it altogether.

I slid my hand up and out of the jock and my fingers followed the silky, dark blond trail of hair to where it ended at his bellybutton. Fingering it, I whispered, “So, you’ll get it tonight—at some point—my hand will be on your little dick and you’ll finally know what it feels like to have another man touch you.”

“Wesss,” he gasped.

His whimpers, his fear, his need clawed at me and I ground my cock down into him, deep and hard, sending shivers of pleasure through us both. “So, how about making this first time real memorable? Whaddya say to just a small taste of Chocolate, babe?”

Oh, how I longed for him to say yes. To allow me just the tiniest bit of darkness. It’d been so long. Not since Thomas and Henrik, years ago, and I yearned for it. But I didn’t want it with just anyone; I wanted it with someone who’d appreciate it. I wanted it with him.

“I-I’d like that,” he said, but sounded a little unsure.

“Are you certain? We don’t have to. I never want you to agree just to please me. I won’t enjoy it—can’t enjoy it—if it’s not mutual.”

I ground into him again, slowly, deliberately and ran my hand lightly up the center of his smooth chest, pausing at a hard nipple. Faintly, I ghosted my fingers over it—teasing him—knowing he always wanted more when it came to them.

“No, I want to.” He buried his face, which had begun to redden with embarrassment, slightly deeper into the pillow. “I-I’ve thought about it—a lot—when I’ve jerked-off. It’s just knowing what’s coming…Junior…has me scared shitless.” He arched his chest forward in a desperate attempt to obtain more friction for the needy nub. “More of that, Wes,” he almost begged.

He wanted it! Jerked-off thinking about it! Thinking about me and Chocolate—together! Oh. Fuck. Yeah!

“But…I thought we’d talked about fucking…being reserved for Vanilla?” he questioned, almost breathlessly, as I softly pinched the hard, brown point on his chest.

“We did. I’m not suggesting we change that; I want something that belongs only to Vanilla.” I paused to enjoy the feel of his ass clamping down on my cock as I softly flicked the tender skin of his nipple; each tweak caused him to bear down and, consequently, shot the most wonderful sensations through my dick. “I’m not proposing ‘full Chocolate’, just a small taste.”

His eyes closed as he gently swayed his head back and forth—clearly appreciating my attention—and he whispered, “Yes.”

I needed no more of an answer than that. “What’s our stop word?” We’d discussed all of this, starting back on Grif’s Toy, and then continued talking about it over the last two months, but I wanted to be sure. I needed to know that he was certain of the word’s power—that he felt there was security in it.

“It’s Vanilla.”

“And you can use it anytime, right? Anytime you want to stop anything for any reason, right?”

“Yes.”

“So, I’m asking now, just like I will every time in the future, Grif, the one-word question: Chocolate?”

I rolled my hips, tweaked his nipple, bit lightly at his neck and waited for an answer—it didn’t come right away. In fact, I’d nearly come to the conclusion that he’d changed his mind. And although I was slightly disappointed, it quickly faded; how could I possibly be anything but incredibly grateful for the extraordinary man next to me.

I snaked the arm I’d had curled under my head beneath him and wrapped it around his chest. “Regardless of whether it’s tonight, or next week, or next month, Chocolate will come in its own time. I believe that, Grif, and I couldn’t be any happier than I am at this very moment.”

His breath caught as his fingers glided from my elbow, along my forearm, and finally twined with mine. He squeezed them briefly before letting go and softly whispered, “Yes, Chocolate.”

A fuse lit that was connected to my spine—it was the only explanation for the fire shooting up my back. A switch had been flipped, an oven door opened, allowing flames to jump freely out, and heat deliciously raced through me. I was free—within reason—to dominate, to control, to humiliate. All the things he continually assured me he wanted too. I wouldn’t go all-out, but I would show him just how good Chocolate would eventually be for both of us.

Ramming my cock into him mercilessly, I quickly moved the arm under him up across his chest to firmly—almost ferociously—grab hold of his throat. His gasp of surprise sent wonderful jolts of pleasure straight to my dick.

His hand just as quickly, instinctively, grabbed my wrist tightly.

I shoved my cock in over and over and hissed in his ear, “Take your goddamn hand off me, you small-dicked fag.” When he didn’t immediately comply, I used my other hand to sharply clamp down on one of his nipples, and moved my lips away from his ear, shouting, “Right fucking NOW!”

He cried out as my fingers twisted the vulnerable nub and his hand reluctantly released my wrist.

“Very good,” I gently praised while conversely continuing the relentless thrusts into his smooth heat.

“You are mine to use…to do with as I fucking please…and you will never, ever, make a move like that again to stop me. Do you fucking understand?”

 “Yuh-yes. I understand,” he quickly rasped out.

“Good. What I want is the only thing you should be thinking about.” I slammed into him over and over, the bed shook with each of my thrusts, and his body jerked as my hips hit his muscled ass. “Is that clear?”

“Yuh-yes, Wes. Yours to do with—”

“And why is that, fag? Why are you being held down and fucked like a dog?”

He was having a hard time thinking; I could see the effect my cock ramming into him, my fingers twisting his nipple, and my hand clamped around his throat were having on him—he was in near bliss. Fuck, it was an incredible sight!

“Why? Tell me why, fag.”

“Be-because…I have a small dick, Wes. That’s why. Th-this is what I’m made for…to provide pleasure to a man with a real cock.”

Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck! It was so much more than I could’ve ever hoped for—and this was just the first time. Oh my God, the endless possibilities!

“And speaking of little dicks,” I hissed as I let go of his nearly raw nipple, tightened my grip around his throat, and yanked down the front of his jock—careful not to touch his dick at all, “yours is now out in the open.”

He cried out. “Please, Wes, no….”

“Worried what I’ll see if I look? All it’d take is a quick dart of my eyes and I’d know exactly what you’ve been hiding—what you’re so afraid of everyone finding out.”

With the jock around his thighs and the back waistband almost painfully rubbing against my cock as I thrust into him, I grabbed hold of his small balls and squeezed. “Fucking little-dicked fag!”

“Wesssss!” he shouted out as his body tensed. The incessant stimulation to his prostate, the firm grip on his throat and balls, and, probably more than anything, my degrading words sent him over the edge, and as I felt the first warm stream of spunk hit my cheek, I scoffed in his ear, “You never fucking shoot without my permission. E-V-E-R!” Tears flowed down his cheeks while jet after jet of his cum hit my arm as I punctuated each of my words with hard thrusts into his convulsing body. The sight, the sound, the smell, all combined were too much, and I lost myself in it—allowed it to wash over me as my straining cock unloaded into him and marked him again as mine.

We both lay for long moments panting, trying to catch our breath. I gently eased my hold on his neck and softly rubbed my hand over his sticky chest. Kissing him on the back of the neck, I said, “Vanilla,” while intentionally leaving the front of his jock pulled down.

He was quiet—almost too quiet. I looked down at his face to see tears still flowing. “Grif?” Shit! Had I gone too far? “A-are you okay, babe? I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

He shook his head and then seemed to catch the concern in my voice. Looking over his shoulder, he reassured, “No. Not at all.” He ran a hand sloppily across his face and shook his head again. “No, Wes. Honest. I’m just a bit…overwhelmed.” Grinning up at me, he continued, “That was…fucking amazing. Jesus Christ!”

I laughed, as much in relief as in amusement at his enthusiastic response. “I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Because I…” Now it was my turn to shake my head. I knew I was grinning like a big doofus, but I couldn’t help myself. “Wow, Grif! Just wow!”

We’d both laid quietly for several long moments, when he shifted his ass a little. “I’m diggin’ that you’re still hard…inside me. It feels like…we fit.” More self-consciously, he muttered, “That probably sounded really goofy, didn’t it?”

Now it was my turn to swallow down sudden emotion. I snuggled us closer to one another, wrapped my arms around his wet chest, and ground my hips gently. Burying my nose into his hair, I knew I’d never get enough of his scent. “No, babe. Doesn’t sound goofy at all.”

Sliding my eyes down his torso, I stopped at his twitching dick. Running my thumb gently along its length, from tip to base, it jumped and caused his body to shiver.

“And speaking of still hard, look at your cute little guy.”

Fear quickly replaced the bliss in his eyes as they shot to mine.

I smiled broadly, doing everything I could to convey my acceptance of all of him. I repeated the motion, tip to base, and glanced back at his dick. “Yeah, he’s real cute, Grif. Real cute.” I brought our lips together and spoke against his. “And in Chocolate, I’m gonna make him pay for being so damn cute…and small.”

I felt his lips part against mine and his subsequent sigh of relief had the same effect on my heart. Things would be okay between us—I was sure of it now.

 ~~~~~
 

Although I don’t remember doing it, I must have dozed off. Distantly I had the sensation of warmth along my entire body. God, my cock felt so damn good. Easing my eyes open, I found Grif in the same position…my hard dick still buried deep inside his firm body.

“You awake again?” he whispered.

Hugging him against me, I mumbled, “Uh-huh.”

As I placed a series of small kisses to his shoulder, the bruise my repeated bites had created caught my attention, and I couldn’t help but grind my pelvis into him.

“Ohmigod,” he softly groaned.

“Yeah, I’m awake. Sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep.” I nipped at his ear and loved how it caused his body to push back more fully against mine. “Was I out long?”

“Nah, just a few minutes, actually…and it was kinda cool.”

“It was?”

His arms wrapped around mine. “Um-hum. You were sorta mumbling my name a little and grinding your hips—your dick, like you are now—into me and holding me tight against you. That you were sleeping…I don’t know, it just felt so honest and uninhibited. Just…very real.”

I slowly pulled almost completely out of him and then, just as slowly, slid back in, reveling in his pleasured moan. “Grif…” Although he hadn’t returned my declaration earlier, he hadn’t wigged out over it either. I decided to continue. “I love you and I’m so looking forward to being your partner.”

He swallowed and said quietly, “You make it all sound so easy, so simple.”

 “Ah, but you see, I don’t think there’s anything simple about you, and I’m looking forward to discovering all of your unique idiosyncrasies.” On a hunch, I ran my fingers up his muscled abdomen and then along his ribs. He reacted just as I thought he would: a burst of laughter, followed by strong hands quickly trying to catch mine.

“Do. Not. Fucking. Tickle. Me,” he gasped out between laughs. “I really, really don’t like it.”

“But what if I made it a requirement for keeping this in?” I swiftly pulled my dick from his body.

He quickly turned over, forcefully pushed me on my back, threw a stout knee over my stomach, pulled himself on top, and guided my cock back inside his body.

With a grin, he moaned. “Fuck! It’s so big, Wes.”

I knew it wasn’t a complaint, though—quite the opposite. “Ah, but you like it, don’t you?” I asked with a teasing smile.

His eyes danced. “I really do.”

I couldn’t help but notice his jockstrap was firmly back in place, hiding his cute dick from me again. I palmed the front and gave his hard firmness a long grope. His breath caught, but from the look in his eyes, it was out of fear and not out of pleasure.

I tried to keep my voice light. “You’ve covered up again.”

When he didn’t respond, I gently prodded, “You do get that I’m not going anywhere, right?”

He nodded, but it seemed hesitant. When I was about to say more, he finally spoke. “I’ve been hiding it my entire life…” He paused, took a deep breath, and then shrugged. “Can you…maybe give me some time to get used to…?”

I ran the tip of a finger firmly up and down his length, then stopped at the head and used a fingernail to scratch lightly through the taut fabric. His hips jutted forward, wanting more, and I canted mine, pushing up into him. I thrilled at the spontaneous, honest sounds the combined sensations elicited.

“Take as much time as you need, Grif,” I reassured. “I’m here to stay.”

After running a finger along the pouch’s edge, I wedged it under and snaked in until I felt the soft skin of his shaft, then I pushed my cock into him again. When his mouth fell open in silent pleasure, I rubbed along his frenulum. Smiling up at him, I tried to convey both my understanding and support, while also doing my best not to come across as coercive or insensitive to his concerns. I needed him to know that I’d neither run nor push.

With a wink, I rubbed a little more. “Would it be okay if I help you along, though? Like I’m doing now.”

His smile, although still slightly worried, was genuine. “Yeah…I think that’d be okay.” He pushed into the soft caress of my finger and panted a bit. “Feels…nice!”

“Cool. That’s all worked out, then. A bit of help now and again, and you’ll let me know if things get uncomfortable.” With a final rub, I gently slipped my finger out and ran both palms along the tops of his thighs. “And the little taste of Chocolate, was it okay? Was I okay?”

He visibly relaxed, as if glad for the change in subjects. “Wes…you were…” He broke off with a small shake of his head. “Yeah, it was really good.”

“But?”

He sat down and firmly ground against my pelvis. “No. No buts…honest. I just didn’t expect…I was just a little surprised, is all?”

“Surprised by?”

His gaze dropped to my chest as he ran his hands over my pecs, letting my chest hair slide through his fingers. I could see how much he enjoyed the fur. There would be no manscaping in my future, thankfully.  

“I guess I was surprised by how much you weren’t…you.” He took each pec in a hand and kneaded them. “Fuck, your chest is absolutely amazing.”

I placed my hands on top of his and held them still. It had the desired effect as his eyes questioningly moved up and met mine. “That was me, Grif. Granted, it’s a part of me very, very few people have seen. But it is me. That guy who wants to control, to dominate, to hurt, and to bring you to tears…he is me. He’s as much a part of me as the guy you’re talking to right now. Again a small part, but a part nonetheless.”

I reached up and slid a hand along his scruffy jaw as my eyes continued to hold his. “Just like the guy who wants to be used, who wants to be degraded and called names, he’s a part of you, isn’t he? Sure, certainly not all of you, but a part, right? A part that only a few people have known about.”

He leaned his face into my palm. “No, you’re absolutely right. But that’s not exactly what I meant. It’s just…he’s so different. And I…I liked him. I mean, the rules, the names, the ruthlessness. Fuck, Wes. Yeah, I dug him in a big way. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wanna live with him full-time, but those ten minutes…” He paused to shake his head again. “Yeah, I really liked him.”

I threw an arm over my face; as much as I loved seeing men cry—making them cry—I wasn’t overly fond of anyone seeing the same from me. Snaking my other around his neck, I pulled him down to me. Bucking up, I shoved in and out of him several times before breathing into his neck, “You’ve no idea what it means to hear you say that, because I really like being him sometimes too. We’re gonna be so good for each other—in both Vanilla and Chocolate. And, if you liked that little taste, then you just wait. I’ve already got countless painful scenarios forming in my sadistic mind. You may find that you love to hate the Chocolate me.”

“Wes?” he panted into my ear.

I released his neck and slid my hand down his powerful back. “Yeah, babe?”

Fuck me? Now? Hard?”



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