Better Than Candy, Part 2… A Better Than Short Story Re-post (NSFW!!)

Happy Friday the 13th or Valentine’s Day Eve… Here is Part 2 of Better Than Candy!  I will re-post Part 3 tomorrow on Valentine’s Day. ❤

*Once again, if you ‘re familiar with the Better Than books this will need no introduction other than to remind you it takes place shortly after Better Than Good ends. If you’re not, it’s still a standalone story.  Enjoy!

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Better Than Candy by Lane Hayes

Chapter 2

Why is it that time always moves at a glacier pace when you’re anxious for something to happen and like a freight train when you would give anything to put a few minutes or hours, back on the clock?  My mom called me when her flight landed to let me know she was taking a taxi directly to her hotel.  The plan was for me to meet her there for a drink and then dinner.  She was sure to extend the invite to Aaron.  Well, she meant Erin.  I told her it would just be me tonight, but that maybe she’d meet Aaron another time.

I was a jumble of nerves when I first walked into the opulent hotel lobby with its crystal chandeliers and dark oak paneling. I checked my reflection in one of the massive mirrors flanking the reception area and decided my pressed khaki pants and blue Oxford shirt would do as I made my way to the bar area.  I spotted my mom sitting alone at a table near a window nursing a glass of chardonnay.

My mom was a pretty woman.  She had a no-nonsense fashion sense, but she took care of herself.  Her hair was a light brown with blond highlights, like mine.  (Although she assured me she paid for her blond.)  She wore it parted to the side and straight to her shoulders.  She’d never been much for anything other than basic cosmetics, lipstick and mascara maybe.  For a woman in her early fifties, she was often mistaken for ten years younger.

Her maternal senses must have sensed my approach because she turned a second after I’d spotted her and jumped to her feet to greet me.  She wrapped me in one of her signature mom hugs that had me gasping for air.

“Oh honey!  You look so handsome!”

She signaled a waiter and pulled me back toward her table, pointing to the chair across from her.  Once my order was placed, she turned her full attention back to me.  I smiled and wondered if it looked as weak as it felt.  If I wasn’t careful, she would think something was wrong.  Nothing was wrong, I assured myself.  This would be okay.

“So… how have you been?”

“Great. This is such a treat to come back to see you on my own!  And I’m looking forward to visiting my sister too.  A mini vacation!”

“Dad was too busy at work to join you?”

“Yes, we’ll come another time with your sisters.  Aunt Jill and I had planned this visit a while ago.  There is never a good time to take time off really.  Your dad will be fine.  The girls will take care of him.”  She grinned, inviting me to share the inside joke.  My twin sisters were trouble.  Not bad trouble, just mischievous.  I smiled in return.  That was the funny thing about family…I had just seen everyone at my graduation and at the time I couldn’t wait to see them off, but now I missed them all over again.  I’ve always known I was lucky to come from a tight-knit, loving group.  They were good people.

I hoped I didn’t lose them.  The thought made me feel nauseous.

“So, you’re busy studying?”

I nodded in response, taking a sip of my vodka tonic and glancing around the still quiet bar.  It was late afternoon so the crowds wouldn’t begin to gather for another hour or so.  We made idle conversation about her flight and the hotel.  I didn’t mind keeping it up for as long as possible.

“What does your friend do?  Did you meet her at school?”

“Huh?”

“Erin, right?”

“Oh, yes.  Um…right.”

“Did the dinner go well?  Did she like it?  Please tell me I’ll get to meet her.  Will she join us for dinner tonight?  You were sure to extend the invitation I hope.  Well, did you?”

“Whoa… geez, mom.”

“Sorry.  Just interested in my son’s life.”

We were both quiet for a moment while the waiter delivered my mom’s second glass of wine to our table.

“Well…”

“Mom… I have something to tell you.”

Fuck!  I couldn’t even look at her.  This was unbelievable.  This was my opportunity and I was already playing this all wrong.  I could feel myself wanting to drop it and change the subject.  I suddenly didn’t know if I could go through with it.  I took a deep breath and looked over at my mom, hating the concern I saw in her eyes.

“What is it, honey?  Are you okay?”

She had an expression on her face that seemed as worried as I was feeling ill.  I tried again.  I looked her in the eye, opened my mouth and nothing came out.  Nothing.

“Matthew.  You’re scaring me.  What is it?  Honey, look at me.”

I shook my head.  Oh boy.

“Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out.  Is she pregnant?”

“What?  Who?”  Oh brother.  She was so off base, it should have been funny.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

“Erin!  Or is it someone else?  Or are you sick?  Or…”

“Mom!  Stop!”

She stopped and looked carefully at me, giving me that mother stare.  The one that says she would figure this out with or without my assistance.  Your choice, Matt.

“Well.”  Come on, Matt.  Spit it the fuck out.  Tell her.  You are torturing both of you now.

“Matthew.  You can tell me anything.  Please know that.”

Her expression was so kind, so earnest that I honest to God, felt my eyes prick with tears.  I firmly held them at bay.  This was ridiculous.  I was a twenty-four year old former jock.  I didn’t do tears.  I did the consoling if necessarily but I wasn’t a crier.

“Yes.  Thank you, Mom.”  Another deep breath.  “Okay…here goes.  Mom, Aaron is a man.”

“Huh?”

“My special someone that you want to meet is a man, not a woman.  Mom, I’m gay.”

I did it.

Wow!  That was really fucking hard.  But I did it.  I said the words out loud to my mom.  I had done this with Curt, Dave, Jason and even some coworkers, but this was my mom.  This was bigger.  I felt proud of myself.  Until I looked across the table and saw the utter confusion written all over her face.

“Gay?  Matt, you aren’t gay.  You’re twenty-four, twenty-five this year.  You’ve had girlfriends and… Are you playing with me?  Is this a joke?”

“No.  No joke.”  I looked around the bar to gauge how much of this conversation was going to reach the tables around us.  We were good for now.

“I…I don’t understand.”

“Mom.  I am and always have been attracted to men as well as women.  I’ve just never before acted on my attraction to guys.”  (She did not need to know about the incident back in college.)

“Why now?  Who is this person?  Are you even sure?  I mean, maybe it’s a phase or something like that.”

“If it’s a phase, I hope it lasts a lifetime, Mom.  Aaron’s amazing.  A really great, sweet, wonderful guy.  So am I sure?  Yes.  I’m very sure about him.”

Silence.

I wasn’t as good at reading her as she was at reading me, but my guess was that she was completely stunned.  She didn’t seem to know what to say.

“I’m sorry, Matt.  I just…this wasn’t what I was expecting.  At all.”  She looked out the window, her fingernails tapping against her wineglass.

“I know.  I’m sure you’re surprised.”

“Surprised would be an understatement.  Who is he?  How did you meet this person?  I just don’t understand how you can suddenly decide to like men instead of women.  Is it possible?”

Now she’d taken on an air of something akin to anger.  Toward whom, I wasn’t sure?  Me?  Aaron?  Herself for not knowing like a mother should?

“Look.  You are asking me so many questions at once.  Slow down.  I…look, I didn’t just decide I like men.  I always have.  You just didn’t know I felt that way.  I didn’t tell you, because it was irrelevant to who I was at the time.”

“Did you actually like your girlfriends?  Like Kristin.  She was the one you broke up with around Christmas, right?”

She sat back as though suddenly rocked by a realization.

“You broke up with her because of this man!”

“First of all, his name is Aaron.  Second, no.  I broke things off with her because it wasn’t working.  I wasn’t interested.  Being with her felt like a chore.”

“Because you were interested in him.”

“Partly, but I didn’t start seeing him until January.  Actually, he insisted on moving slowly, so really since February.”

It’s July.  You’ve been involved with a man for months and this is the first I’ve ever heard of it.  Oh my…”

“Mom!  Seriously, I… what did you think I would do?  Call you after our first date?  This hasn’t been easy for me.  I’ve had to come to terms with a lot of things that I’m frankly still trying to get my head around.  But Mom… I’m still me.  Nothing about me… nothing intrinsic about me has changed.  You do know that, right?”

The silence was thick now and it was hard to breathe.  When she finally spoke, I was on the verge of passing out from lack of oxygen.   Geez, maybe Aaron’s flair for the dramatic was rubbing off on me.

“Matt.  I love you.  Nothing changes.  Ever.”

And just like that, I could breathe again.

“I won’t lie and say I’m happy to hear all this.  The truth is, I don’t know what to say.  But please never doubt that I love you, sweetheart.”

Tears were threatened again as I chanced a glimpse at my mom’s face.  I almost lost it when I saw the moisture in her eyes.  She gasped as emotion caught her and put a hand over her mouth to cover the sound.  Of sadness, confusion?  I fought back my own emotions knowing we weren’t feeling overcome for the same reasons.  Perhaps she was mourning the man she thought I was while I was mourning someone I could never be.  Not anymore.  I wanted my parents to be proud of me… to accept me.  I’d always been a “pleaser”, but I couldn’t play that part if it meant losing Aaron.

We quietly composed ourselves and I signaled the waiter for another drink.  I needed it.

“Mom?”

“No, I’ll stick with this one for a bit longer.”  She tilted her head toward her half full wineglass.

“So, tell me about Aaron.  He must be special if… well, he must be special.”

I smiled and finally ended up laughing.  Relief does that I suppose.  I knew this was a beginning of sorts, a sputtering start, but it still felt good.  Good to have the words spoken aloud, good to start afresh.

Chapter 3

After a couple of months I had to admit my “coming out” fresh start was more of a non-start where my family was concerned.  There was no theatrical showdown with tears and ugliness.  No one disowned me.   They just ignored my revelation entirely. At first I didn’t notice.  I was frankly too busy and when you factored in the geographical obstacle of Pittsburgh being over two hundred miles away from DC, it became a matter of out of sight, out of mind.  I didn’t begin to clue in until after I found out I’d passed the bar in late October.  It was a major milestone and my parents were extremely proud.

“Oh honey!  We’re thrilled!”  My mom was practically screaming in my ear.  I could picture her jumping up and down in elation.

“We’re very proud of you, Matt.  When will see the new family lawyer next?  Will we have to wait till the holidays?”  Dad was on another line and the connection sounded a little weak.

“Probably.  I was just assigned to help out on a new government contract one of the partners is preparing.”  I smiled into the phone when I heard my mom squeal on the other end.  “The thing is… there’s a deadline which may make it difficult for me to come home for Thanksgiving.”

There was a stilted silence on the line for a second longer than normal.  My dad filled it in quickly with a comment about not working too hard, but he was obviously trying to avoid any awkwardness.  He signed off claiming he had something pressing to take care of in his home office, leaving me to my uncharacteristically silent mother.

“You there, Mom?”

“Yes.  If you can’t come home, where will you go for Thanksgiving?”

“Aaron’s parents’, probably.”

Dead silence.

And that’s when the proverbial light bulb went on.

I’d noticed in past conversations when I brought up his name in a general sense like  “Aaron and I went to…” or  “Aaron made dinner and…”, the topic was changed.  I figured it was a matter of time and they weren’t ready to hear about Aaron and me in any detail.

The holidays were sacred to my mother…an extremely important traditional season for family gatherings.  She wouldn’t be able to ignore Aaron’s presence in my life during this time.  If a showdown was imminent, this was most likely when it would occur.  I sighed deeply and massaged the bridge of my nose hoping for the best.

“Honey, I understand you’re busy, but… the holidays are for family and since he is a new friend of yours maybe…”

“Mom.  This is a weird conversation to have over the phone, but I’m going to try…  I…”  I stopped and looked out the huge picture window in Aaron’s small apartment.  He’d gone out for a run and if I wanted to finish this conversation before he returned I needed to figure out how to firmly but kindly deal with someone I loved and respected without causing unnecessary hurt.  I was like a bull in a china shop when it came to important emotional exchanges, so chances were good I’d fuck it up somehow.

“Mom, Aaron is my boyfriend.  He isn’t a random friend.  I don’t know what the holidays will be like with my work schedule but…”

“Okay, I understand.  I have to hang up now.  I have something on the stove. I love you Matt and I’m so very proud of you.  Bye hon.”

What the fuck?  Her “I understand” was definitely code for exactly the opposite, but I didn’t know how to handle it.

“You alright?”

I turned at the sound of a soft Southern infused voice.  It was Jay, Aaron’s best friend and the look of concern on his handsome face told me he’d heard some of my conversation with my mother.

“Sorry to barge in.”  He jiggled a set of keys and then tossed them in the orange bowl on the small kitchen table.  “I knocked but you didn’t hear.  I told Aaron I’d drop these off.  He said you needed a spare and… what’s troublin’ you, honey?”

Jay was a lot like Aaron in many ways.  He was an out and proud confident gay man with a joie de vie.  He was also smart, funny and really good-looking. If anyone told me he modeled for Ralph Lauren ads, I’d believe them. Jay was a couple of inches taller than me with a slim toned swimmer’s body.  He was always friendly and easy company, but he was extremely protective of those he loved, like Aaron.  Thank God he liked me.

“Family shit.”  I shook my head as I walked over to greet him.

“Matt, I sympathize darling.  No disrespect intended here, but you know Peter’s mother’s a shrew… so if you need any advice on how to deal with difficult mommas, I may not have all the answers but believe me, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years.”

I laughed.  I’d heard some funny stories about Jay’s long-time partner, Peter’s wacky Italian Catholic mother.  No doubt he did have some experience to draw from.

“My mom’s not that bad.  She’s just not used to the idea of me being… with a man.  I knew this wouldn’t be easy but I have a feeling it’s harder than I thought.”

“It’s difficult.  Certainly.  But you have to keep your life separate from theirs.  Ask yourself if you’d be happier living the life they want for you…”

“That’s just it!  No one talks about this shit where I’m from.  No one asks what you want out of life unless it’s in a general way… you know, what do you want to be when you grow up?  Where do you want to live?  The rest… it’s assumed, expected.  Me telling my mom about Aaron has upset some kind of balance and I don’t know how to get it back.  Or if I ever will.”

Jay nodded solemnly before heading toward the small galley style kitchen.  He pulled out a bottle of wine and held it up in question.  I smiled wanly and sat at the table while he poured us each a glass of chardonnay.

“Maybe your mom is more like mine… with the big difference being that I came out at eighteen and while I wasn’t overt like someone else we know and love, it wasn’t a giant surprise I was queer either.  Your mom needs to meet him, Matt.  She needs to see you two together, see how happy you are, but even then… it will take some time.”

“Are things better with Peter’s mom?  I mean, has it gotten easier with time?”  I took a sip and almost spit it back out.  Jay’s expression was comically hysterical.

“She’s a dragon.  A five foot two witch.  My personal nightmare come to life.  Thank God she lives in another state!  The truth is I’m never going to win her over.  It kills me on one hand because I’m so good at mergers and acquisitions of a friendly nature, but I will never win against her old religious doctrines.  So I’m as kind as can be.  Occasionally I feel like I can taste blood in my mouth from biting my tongue so hard and other times, I can laugh.  But I love Peter.  I won’t give him up to make her happy.  It’s that simple for me.”  Jay stood to take the bottle of wine back to the kitchen.

He and Peter had been together for years now.  Both were strikingly handsome and tall, but after that, it was a matter of opposites attract.  Where Jay was friendly and open, Peter was intense and serious.  I was pondering the many ways Aaron and I were different when I heard a rattling noise.

“What the… Where did you…?”

The conversation candy hearts.  Oh.  I could feel my face heat at the memory of what we’d done in the kitchen the last time the ubiquitous candy box appeared out of nowhere.  Jay’s wide, knowing grin told me no explanations were needed.  He took a sip of his wine peering at me over the rim thoughtfully.

“That boy is a hopeless romantic.”

“Huh?”

“I know Aaron.  I’m thinking he saved these from last Valentine’s Day… that’s all.”

“He said he found them but…”

“No way.  He doesn’t save crappy candy from a holiday rendered meaningless if you don’t have someone to share it with.  These are a good luck charm.”  Jay expression was a touch smug but there was a bit of warning in his eye.  He was silently letting me know if I broke Aaron’s heart, candy or otherwise, he’d kick my ass.  “I wouldn’t be surprised if these lasted until your first real Valentine Day together.”

Jay quickly changed the subject and although I was grateful for the topic change, I loved the sentiment behind his words.  I knew Aaron loved me but was afraid to say the words aloud.  Our beginning as a couple was slightly clouded by the specter of my “coming out” and all indications were that until something was resolved with my family, Aaron might not trust that we’d make it in the long run.  Maybe Jay was right about the candy hearts being a silly talisman to ward off real life issues.  We started seeing each other romantically around Valentine Day, so it oddly made sense that Aaron would superstitiously keep a memento of hope for our future in a heart shaped form.   The sweet vulnerability of the thought alone made me love him just a little bit more.

 

We made it through the holidays drama-free.  I spent Thanksgiving with the Mendez clan and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  It was hard not to love his family.  They were very warm and welcoming.  Their large family home outside of Baltimore was filled with the fragrant smells of turkey and all the trimming with a dash of Latin flair.  Spanish was spoken as frequently as English and kids ran down the halls and in between adults like demented monkeys.   His brother and dad were big sports fans so conversation tended to center around football.  There was no drama, no awkwardness about being their son and brother’s boyfriend.  They loved Aaron and they accepted me without question.

I went back to Pittsburgh for Christmas.  While I enjoyed seeing everyone, I couldn’t shake the feeling there was an undercurrent I couldn’t quite grasp.  It was as though my parents were trying too hard to make things “normal”.  I mentioned Aaron’s name in passing a couple of times in conversation with my brother and sisters, but my mom’s watchful eye kept me from officially coming out to them.  Without words, she was pleading for me not to make waves or create any awkwardness during the holiday.  I went along with it because she was so adamant but I hated being back to lying about my life to keep the peace.  I wanted everyone who mattered to know I was with Aaron, whether my parents acknowledged it or not.  They were going to have a hard time ignoring it when we moved in together after the New Year, I mused.

Chapter 4

“The living together part… are you sure?  I mean… I want to.  I do.  I just want you to remember it’s me you’d be living with.  Are you ready for that?  Not that long ago you were telling me I’m high maintenance and crazy and…I doubt that will change much.”

“Yeah, I’m ready for it, baby.  I like your brand of crazy.”  I was smiling so hard my face hurt.

We decided before Christmas to move in together.  His place was too small and mine came with roommates who were ready to relocate as well.  Aaron wanted to stay in the Dupont Circle area where he currently lived.  It was gay friendly and centrally located.  Worked for me.  I honestly didn’t care where… I was just happy he said yes.

“What if it doesn’t go well?  What if you get sick of me?  Ugh…or what if you’re too messy?  I don’t do well with chaos not of my own making.  What if…?”

I put a finger to his lips.

“Shh.  Aaron.  I can make no guarantees this won’t be a fucking disaster, but…”  I reached for his chin when he looked away from me, seeming upset by my honesty.  “But, I don’t think it will be.  We aren’t total idiots.  I know things about you…you are a clean freak and you listen to techno club music at an excruciatingly loud volume.  I, on the other hand, am not a total slob but dishes in the sink don’t bug me the way they bug you-”

“My skin crawls thinking about it…”

“I know.  Look, we’ll just have to compromise, right?  I’ll try to be neater, and you’ll have to agree not to blow my eardrums everyday.  And then there’s television.”

“What about it?”  He tried for nonchalance but the guy was addicted to his reality programs.  He peered through the longish hair covering his right eye.

“I like sports.  We’ll have to share the big screen baby.”

I leaned back to observe Aaron and tried to gage whether or not I’d scared him off.

“You aren’t going for the easy sell, are you Matty?”  Aaron crossed his arms over his chest.  I laughed.

“All I’m saying is that we’re different, which is probably why we’re together in the first place.  Sometimes those differences may make living in the same place a little challenging but the truth is… I wouldn’t have suggested it if I didn’t think it would work.”

“I want to believe you, but I think you like a challenge too.”

“Maybe, but I’m not a glutton for punishment.  I love you, Aaron. We’re already practically living together except I’m paying rent for an apartment in Georgetown I’m never at and I haven’t given you a dime in rent.  It’s financially a good move too.  See?”

“Do I get to decorate?”

He was back to feigning nonchalance, but it wasn’t working.  I rolled my eyes at his purely rhetorical question.  Of course he would decorate.  He knew I didn’t give a shit about color schemes and accessorizing.  Aaron jumped suddenly from my lap and returned a minute later resuming his perch straddling my thighs with his cock grinding against mine in invitation.  I had a feeling he wanted to tell me something and not just that he was horny.  I waited patiently for him to speak.  Instead he leaned into me and gently kissed my lips.  I smiled but still waited, knowing he had something on his mind.  He picked up my hand and turned my palm face up before dropping a candy heart in it.  I chuckled.  I hadn’t seen these since Jay found the box in the kitchen a few months ago.  It was officially pre-Valentine season though.  They would be easier to come by now.  I looked at the pink heart in my hand and read “Gracias”.

“You’re welcome.  How did you find these in Spanish?”  I knew there was more going on than him buying these in the language of his heritage.  I just wasn’t sure what it could be.

Aaron shrugged and slipped the candy between my lips.  “Oh Matty, you can find anything online.  And don’t worry.  We’ll find an amazing place and I’ll be sure to decorate it “macho chic”!”

I didn’t know what that meant but I was pretty sure I didn’t care as long as we were together.

 

“I’m James.  So nice to meet you both.  Richie told me to take you to see 7A.   It’s absolutely exquisite!  You will love!”

Richie?  The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place it.  I gave up and followed.  James led us to a brightly lit floor chatting amicably with Aaron about the friendly residents and fabulous amenities one only finds in newer construction.  I kept quiet wondering if all these wonderful things were affordable.  I didn’t want to spoil either of their fun.  James was unfailingly professional and extremely enthusiastic.  Aaron was the perfect audience.  When James opened the door to 7A with a flourish, Aaron gasped appreciatively as if on cue.  I rolled my eyes and stepped inside.

I almost gasped too.  It was incredible.  The floor plan was open with wide plank hardwood flooring and high ceilings.  A state of the art kitchen with an island sat at one end of the large room while a small fireplace denoted the living area on the opposite side.   A bank of floor to ceiling windows framed one long expanse before curving to include a small portion of the adjoining kitchen wall as well.  The walls were a brilliant white (which would be the first thing Aaron would seek permission to change, I bet), the wood floors were a light faux distressed grey while the kitchen featured black granite countertops and black state of the art appliances.  Three small pendant lights hung over the island.  Everything about the space was beautifully understated, shiny, new and modern.

“There are two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  But the best thing is that they are on opposite ends of the main living area.  So should you have houseguests, you aren’t on top of one another.  I’m going to leave you two to explore on your own for a few while I check on another unit.  I’ll be back in ten!”

The moment the door shut, Aaron lunged into my arms.  His hands were everywhere.  On my ass, in my hair, down my back, up my chest.  He fused his mouth to mine.  I pulled back slightly to look into his luminous eyes.

“Stop.  We can’t do anything here.”  I kissed his nose to soften my words.

“I know.  Good thing we took a little of the edge off before we ventured out, don’t you think?  I’m so fucking horny and this place is making it worse!”  Aaron stood on his toes and licked my jaw, kissing a path down my neck before he looked back up at me with an innocent expression.  Asshole.  I adjusted myself and stepped away from him.

“This is really nice, babe.  But…”

“I know what you’re going to say, but let’s not think about that right now!”  He jumped back and danced away into the kitchen.  “Just imagine, Matty… You wake up in the morning and I do my best “I Love Lucy” impression, “Good morning, dear, would you like a cup of coffee?”  I’ll present you with a lovely cup of your favorite roast before I turn back to this outrageously gorgeous stovetop to create a culinary masterpiece for you.  What would you like?  Maybe an omlette?  Nothing blase though.  No!  I’ll chop red peppers and sweet onions and I’ll…”

“Will you be wearing an apron?”

Aaron’s eyes lit up at my unexpected question.  He giggled and batted his eyes mischievously.

“Yes.  And nothing else.”

I gulped audibly.  Damn.

“Aar…”

“Can you picture it?  I don’t just mean the naked omlette.  The two bedrooms are ideal!  You can play your guitar or use the other room as an office and say I’m tired and want to rest in our spacious master bedroom… no worries!  Win win!  It would be great for entertaining too!  I could have my nephews over!  Or even your family!  What do you think?”

“Aar…”

A soft click at the front door announced James’ timely return.  Aaron took one more longing glance around the space before we both followed him out. James urged us to decide quickly if possible as another couple wanted to see the condo tomorrow for a second time.

“We understand.  I don’t think you told us the monthly rent.”

James gave me a blank stare and then turned to Aaron.

“Didn’t Richie talk to you about…?”

“Yes yes.  Don’t worry.  We’ll talk and I promise to call you back tonight!”

Something was up and as usual, I was a step or two behind.  I let it go.  Numbers didn’t lie.  If we couldn’t afford it, we couldn’t afford it.  Period.  It didn’t matter how amazing the place was.

“So, how much?”  I gave him a sideways glance as we made our way by foot back to his small one-bedroom apartment nearby.

He gave me the amount and I almost choked.  It was a deal, but it was still way more than I paid now.   It turned out that Richie, the owner, was the artist friend of Aaron’s I’d met almost a year ago at a photography exhibit.  He and his partner were moving to Europe for one year and needed to rent their newly purchased condo.  When they heard Aaron and I were in the market, they made a special deal because they preferred leasing to people they knew and trusted.

“Does that mean no?”

He looked crushed.  Fuck.  I did the calculations in my head quickly and told him my concerns.  I didn’t hold anything back.  If we had to deal with financial catastrophe right from the start, we would be doomed.  Aaron paid a lot to live on his own, so it was beneficial for him to pay half of the rent Richie was asking.  He offered to put more in to make it work because it was still less than he paid now.  My pride wouldn’t let me agree.  It was important to me that we split the cost evenly.  There was a part of me that wanted to be the guy who paid more, the guy to take care of him.  He’d rake me over the coals for thinking it in the first place, so I wisely kept my mouth shut.

“We have to decide tonight?”

He nodded.  I took a deep breath.  Why the fuck not?

“Okay, let’s do it.”

“Really?”

Aaron stopped in the middle of the crowded sidewalk on Connecticut Avenue and gave me one of his full-watt beautiful smiles.  My heart skipped a beat as I looked down at his gorgeous face.  Knowing I had something to do with that smile made me feel like a fucking superhero.  I had never been one for public displays but this time I didn’t care who saw.  I kissed his full lips then his nose before placing my arm over his shoulder and tucking him close to me as we walked back to his old apartment.

Chapter 5

We moved in to our fabulous new condo the first weekend in February.  While I was excited about our new place, moving was one of my least favorite things.  I hated packing, lifting, unpacking, reorganizing.  Aaron however didn’t seem to mind it one bit.  He was anxious to get to the fun part… decorating.  I felt my eyes glaze over when he started talking about new pillows, sheets and towels.  In all fairness there was a particular reason he was so crazy about getting organized and decorated.   My mother was coming for an impromptu visit no doubt planned the minute she heard we were living together.

She planned to be in DC for two days the second week of February.  As her visit drew near so did Aaron’s anxiety.  He didn’t act outwardly nervous, but his compunction for order became more amplified and he was obsessed with finishing the guest “suite”.  Aaron wanted everything to be perfect.

Since it was my mother’s arrival driving his compulsion for perfection, I let him talk me into going to one of those giant bedding warehouses a couple of days before she was due to fly in. Supposedly we were making a quick trip to pick up a couple of towels for the guest bath.  I didn’t understand why we needed them to begin with.  Aaron owned what seemed like dozens of towels already.  Surely there were a few to spare for the second bathroom.  He pulled his Ray Ban sunglasses down his nose and eyed me carefully.

“Matty, it’s a brand new bathroom.  Freshly painted in a gorgeous shade of eucalyptus.  You can’t seriously think we can put my old towels, which were purchased for a completely different colored bath in our new one.  Can you?”

“Uh…guess not.”  I lamely replied.  “Look, just… don’t torture me.  Please.  Can we do this in fifteen minutes?”

“Sure!”

An hour later, we finally emerged from hell.  I was beyond irritated.  I had been in charge of the cart, obediently following my boyfriend around like a fucking puppy while he fought to make difficult decisions regarding which shade of green was the best choice.  He stopped asking my opinion when I snapped and hissed at him under my breath to hurry the fuck up and chose any fucking shade he wanted.  I was sick of dodging small kids running in front of my cart and adults who were certainly not paying attention to their kids or carts.  Aaron looked a little miffed but he headed toward the check out counter.  His attention was momentarily diverted by a colorful display of wastebaskets and toothbrush holders.

“You’re kidding, right?”  I swear I was sweating.  I could feel my blood pressure rise with every minute I was stuck in this warehouse hell filled with pillows, towels and sheets.  I had no idea there were so many pillows in all of DC, let alone in one store.

“Matt.  You are acting like a bad child.  I am never taking you shopping again!”  He hissed back at me menacingly.

“Promise?”

A young mom with a full cart and kids bouncing around her overheard our exchange and laughed.

“You’re better off leaving your husband behind, honey.  Trust me, I know!”

We both smiled politely at her, but Aaron spared me another evil eye before he finally headed toward the exit.

Once we were back home with our new towels, I was fine but Aaron was pissed.  I was given the silent treatment for a while, and I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t mind the quiet.  For an hour anyway.  Then I did mind.

“Come on.  You can’t not talk to me all day!”

“Oh, so now you want to talk?”

“Yeah.  Let’s talk.  Come closer so I can touch you too.  I’ll be good.”  I was perched on one of the stools at the island in our kitchen, swiveled to face the hockey game on the flat screen across the room.

“You are incorrigible!”

“Hmm.  That’s bad, right?”

“Yes!”

“Okay, I’ll behave now.  Give me a kiss to make up.  Please?”  I gave him my best “you can trust me look”.  He sighed deeply and dramatically before inching over to me and standing between my thighs.  He was blocking the game on the television, but I wisely refrained from telling him so.

“Are you going to make it up to me?  Or are you just looking for a quick kiss with the hope that I’ll shift over a few inches so you can watch the Steelers?”  Wow, he was good.

“Oh, funny guy… well, let’s start with a little re-education.  The Pittsburgh Steelers, babe, are a professional football team.”  I pulled him into my arms and squeezed him tightly, burrowing my chin into his shoulder.  “Sadly their season is over, but luckily it’s basketball and hockey season.” I playfully nipped at his neck and shoulder and moved him sideways so he was no longer blocking my view.  “You are currently blocking a hockey game, although not my favorite Pittsburgh Penguins, so if you’d like to take some time to make up for my hour in hell, I will more than gladly join you… on the sofa, in the bedroom or even in that green guest bathroom with the cool new towels.  Just say the word, babe.”  I held him even tighter and tickled his sides.

He laughed, his eyes twinkling with restored humor as he stepped out of my reach and pealed off his t-shirt.

“First of all, let me re-educate you, oh forgetful one… the color is eucalyptus not green!  Hockey season lasts longer than any sport should be allowed to and…”  He easily dodged my swipe at his ass.  “And, you are making up with me.  Not me making up with you!  You are the one who behaved like a five year old!”

“You’re the one who promised not to torture me, but you did anyway.  Even that lady at the store agreed you should have gone alone!”

He stepped back between my thighs, and kissed my chin.

“She called you my husband.  Did you hear her?”  He looked up at me shyly.

“Yeah.  I did.”  I kissed his nose and wrapped my arms around his slim waist, letting my hands cup and squeeze his ass.

“It didn’t freak you out?”

“No.  You?”

“No.”

I smiled into his shoulder then deftly bent to scoop him into my arms in a fireman’s hold.  He giggled, hitting my back and kicking his legs in protest.  I smacked his ass once hard as I carried him into our bedroom.

“No more talking.  You have some making up to do.  Clothes.  Off.”

We separated for a moment to lose the jeans, socks and shoes still in our way.  Aaron turned toward the bed, his beautiful olive skin glistening with the slightest sheen of sweat as he carefully turned back the duvet.  He climbed unto the bed and leaned over to the nightstand on the far end to grab something sitting on top.  His firm tight ass was provocatively on display.  Tease.  I reached down to grab my cock, almost surprised at how hard I was already.  I was literally aching with need.

Aaron turned back to me, his eyes ablaze with desire.  I swallowed and inched a little closer to the bed.  He settled on to his back, his dark head propped on a stark white pillow as his hand drifted lower to stroke his equally hard member.

“Mine.”

“Then come and get it.”  His tone was beguiling.  I was as turned on by the low timber as I was by his sexy naked body on display for me.

I pulled myself over him, careful at first not to touch him.  Slowly I lowered my body on top of his.  We both hissed at the first electric feel of skin on skin.  I stared down into his eyes as I bent to kiss him.  Aaron wrapped his strong arms around my neck and pulled me flat against him so that I covered him completely.  This time we gasped as our rock hard dicks pressed together, the slick from our precum creating a natural lubricant.

“Fuck, you are so damn sexy.”  I pulled myself up on one arm, trying not to squash my partner.

“So are you.”  He yanked my head lower and bit my lower lip, then sucked it.  It hurt, but in a strangely sensual way.

“Aar, baby…”  I could hardly remember what I wanted to say when he wrapped his legs around my torso.  He arched his pelvis into mine searching for contact.  It felt so fucking amazing.  But it wasn’t nearly enough.

“No.  Don’t talk.”  He took my face in his hands, staring intently.  “I want you.  I want you inside me.  Please.”

“Yes.”

He pushed me back slightly and gestured for me to grab the lube he had set beside him.  I sat back on my knees and noticed the candy heart next to the bottle.  I gave a half-chuckle and picked it up.  It said “Text Me”.  I laughed out loud and gave it to Aaron to read.  He snickered appreciatively.

“Oops, I thought it said “Sext Me”.  He pulled his legs up and rolled to his side laughing hysterically.

I don’t know why it struck either of us as particularly funny.  Maybe it was one of those odd moments when humor restores balance and reminds you to enjoy life.  My smile was wide as I stared down at my beautiful lover.  I was overcome with emotion suddenly.  I gulped once and bit my lip.  Aaron laid back wantonly with his knees bent and splayed wide, his laughter fading as his right hand slowly stroked his cock.  I set my hand over his wanting this connection.  He closed his eyes and let me take over.   I switched hands, freeing my right to explore his balls.  He was chanting my name as the mood returned to sensual.  He arched into my hand like a pole dancer at a strip club urging me on, inviting me to play.  So damn sexy.

“Matty, please…”

“Aaron, I’m gonna fuck you, baby.  Are you ready for me?”

He nodded and drew his knees up to his chest inviting me in.  I reached for the lube again and almost looked for a condom before remembering we didn’t use them anymore.  We’d both been tested after the New Year, marking a huge commitment to one another.  One neither of us had given previous lovers.  It was a new sensation and a completely mind blowing one. I breathed deeply, trying to calm myself as I lined my thick hard cock against his perfect rosebud hole.  Then I pushed.

I didn’t get far before I saw stars.  The heat was intoxicating and I felt an instant flush all over.

“Open your eyes, Matty.  Look at me.”

I obeyed and pushed inside my lover a little further.  He gasped, but kept his eyes open and focused on me.  I was overwhelmed by the sheer pleasure of being inside him with no barrier.  When I was completely surrounded by him, as far and deep as I could go, I pulled back.  Aaron groaned as I plunged in with more force than I intended.

“Fuck!  You feel so good.  Do it.  Fuck me!”

My control had been tenuous to start.  His words spurred me into motion.  I gathered him closely to me, one hand holding his right leg up as I fucked him relentlessly.  I wanted to watch my naked cock moving in and out of him, but I was already gone.  The fire was too hot and I was lost.  Aaron clutched at my shoulders and raked his fingernails along my back.  He squeezed my cock so tight inside of him that I saw a new wave of stars and knew I wouldn’t last.

“Baby, fuck… I’m so close.”

My hips worked at a frantic pace as my balls drew up.

“Come inside me, Matty.  Come inside.”

White light and stars.  Wave after wave of intense pleasure flooded my senses as I poured myself into my lover.  I heard a keening cry and knew it was me, but I wasn’t able to control anything I did or said at that moment.  I felt Aaron’s body stiffen and shudder underneath mine, then the wet heat of his release as he came between our tightly pressed bodies.  We held on to each other, loosening our holds only when the last aftershock had passed.

I pressed my forehead to his and whispered softy, “I love you”.  Aaron didn’t say anything and although a part of me yearned to hear him say aloud what I knew he felt, I wouldn’t push.  I kissed his lips and his forehead before pulling myself from my lover and flopping gracelessly on to the pillow next to him.  Aaron giggled and turned to face me.  I still hadn’t quite caught my breath.  I didn’t want to talk yet, so I gestured for him to lie on my chest.  He smiled brightly and curled into my side where he belonged.

 

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