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  2. Katya Dee

    Chapter 1

    - I - It was late Thursday morning, and Raven was bored out of his skull. Fridays through Mondays weren’t too bad; in fact, they were pretty damn good. Julian’s weekends started on Fridays, so boredom was naturally out of the question. On Mondays, Raven would usually catch up on his sleep and heal somewhat if the weekends got out of hand (which was the case quite often). However, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays would turn into slow crawling eons of hell itself. There were only that many books he could read (and he wasn’t much into reading to begin with), and he could only handle several hours of staring into the computer or TV screen, which left most of the day filled with nothing but empty waste of time. He looked at the clock and sighed -- it was only 11:30 in the morning, and he already got his TV fix for the day. He sat by the open window, smoking lazily, and remembering that old saying, which went something like, ‘Idle mind is evil’s playground.’ He sighed deeply and flicked his cigarette out of the window, solemnly agreeing with that saying. He briefly considered phoning Julian and asking him to meet somewhere for lunch, but then he remembered the blond telling him last night that he had some business lunch deal to attend today. That made him sigh even deeper. Usually, whenever he felt this bored or restless, he would simply go out and pull a random job, trying to make it as challenging and entertaining as he possibly could. Now, however, that was out of the question – after what almost turned into a major fiasco several months ago, Julian was beyond paranoid whenever Raven would as much as mention something about random jobs.[1] He would start ranting about researching, planning, and some other things that immediately took entertainment out of the entire ordeal. Finally, Raven decided to go out and get some coffee and fresh air. While he was getting dressed, he regretted the fact that this morning, the blond left for work without waking Raven up, which was usually the case. They didn’t fall asleep until almost four in the morning last night, so when Raven woke up a couple of hours or so ago, he realized that he didn’t even hear the alarm go off, which didn’t surprise him much – he was exhausted last night, to say the least. Then, when he was almost out of house, he had an idea forming in his mind, and a slow smile stretched his mouth apart. He thought for a second, trying to remember which restaurant the blond was supposed to go to for his business lunch today. Then he recalled the name ‘Black Lotus’ and grinned to himself. The afternoon just became much more tolerable. He left the house after nodding a half-hearted ‘Good morning’ to the butler, who would treat Raven with so much cautiousness as if the dark-haired man was a walking and talking bomb waiting to go off, ever since Julian agreed to hire him back a couple of weeks ago. Raven made it to the restaurant at noon sharp, parked his car on the side of the road, and wrapped himself into familiar and comforting invisibility after glancing around and making sure that nobody paid any attention to him. He walked inside, completely unseen by the stern-looking maître d', and looked around, searching for the blond. He saw him almost immediately -- there he was, sitting by the large table next to the window, talking to three serious-looking men. Raven silently made his way to the table, wondering how far he wanted to push the limits of testing Julian’s self-control. Far, he decided almost immediately and threw a quick glance around. Nobody was paying attention to this particular table, it seemed, and he looked down for a few seconds. The tablecloth wasn’t too long, which was a great thing, and there was plenty of room under the table. Raven looked at Julian who was saying something about some merger, nodded to himself, and carefully sneaked underneath the table. He didn’t want to startle the blond – that would ruin the fun – therefore, he carefully ran his fingers up the pant leg in front of him, which was enough to catch the blond’s attention. Julian blinked at the sensation and looked down. Raven threw off invisibility for a second or so to let the blond see him, and immediately disappeared out of sight the minute he caught a disbelieving look of the lilac eyes. “What about smaller branches?” one of the men asked, and Julian shifted his gaze towards him. “This merger would affect every single one of them,” he said evenly, and Raven’s fingers smoothly slid up towards the zipper of his pants. “Several smaller branches will become one significant part of the big picture.” The tablecloth was just long enough to hide Raven’s invisible activity, and Julian picked up his coffee cup and brought it to his lips, drowning his somewhat short exhale in whatever was left of his espresso. “There is a chance of some smaller businesses resisting the idea,” the other man said, and Raven slowly ran his tongue along blond’s entire length, which sprung to attention with envious speed and ease. “Yes,” Julian said as evenly as before. “I am aware of possible repercussions. However, those could be avoided with relative ease...” Raven delivered several more long, slow licks before wrapping his mouth around the entire, fully hard by now, length. “...might cause instability,” someone said, and Julian cleared his throat. “Not if the problem is taken care of right away,” he said in somewhat strained voice, thrusting his hips slightly forward under the table. “The...” he cleared his throat again, casually lowering one arm and tangling his fingers in Raven’s hair. “The root of the problem, that is,” he said and picked up his coffee cup once again. “Let me focus on the financial aspect for a minute if you don’t mind,” a different voice said. “Go ahead,” Julian’s fingers tightened their grip on Raven’s hair when the brunet decided to push his testing limits a bit further by involving one of his hands and performing a quick tongue twirl at the same time, which made blond’s hips jerk harder underneath the tablecloth. “...the fiscal year...” the other man kept saying meanwhile. “The changes would be quite noticeable,” Julian said slowly, and Raven admired his self-control. “Some wouldn’t come to attention right away, but...” The blond drowned a silent moan in his almost empty by now coffee cup. “...they would be impressive in a long run,” he finished, doing his best to keep his breathing even. Raven grinned to himself and picked up speed drastically, bringing his other hand up as well. “Oh...” Julian straightened up when the tempo change caught him by surprise. “I didn’t realize I was out of coffee,” he said when his companions looked at him questioningly, his hips rocking steadily underneath the table. He cursed silently, perfectly aware of the fact that it was only a question of time before his strange squirming would become noticeable. He bit the inside of his cheek when Raven swallowed hard twice in a row, making his throat contract with sweet, torturous tightness. Then the tempo increased yet again, making the blond swear up a silent, desperate storm. He was debating whether to keep himself under control, thus prolonging the entire ordeal for God knows how long (Raven seemed to be determined not to back off until his mission was accomplished) or to let himself go while praying that he would be able to keep his composure, when suddenly, there was a shrill ringing of someone’s phone. Usually, a thing like this would irritate Julian immensely – you do not keep your gadgets in full-volume condition while trying to discuss a business matter. Now, however, he was more than thankful for that annoying shrill ringing. “I apologize...” one of the men muttered while feverishly trying to reach for shrieking gadget. It was obvious that he had no idea the phone was even in his pocket, let alone not in a silent mode. “Take your time,” Julian said rather tightly for several reasons, and forcefully yanked on Raven’s hair, pulling him off himself. “I would welcome a brief pause anyway...” He made sure his pants were zipped before getting up. “We will resume the discussion in ten minutes,” he said mildly, moving his empty coffee cup towards the edge of the table, which was a clear indication for a refill. He walked towards the bathroom without glancing back, perfectly aware that Raven was following him closely even though he could not see him. When he got into the bathroom, he scanned it quickly with his eyes, making sure it was empty, and then he closed the door and threw one of the magic streams around the doorknob, forcing it to stay locked. “You are going to be...” he started saying in a low voice, and Raven threw off the invisibility while grinning almost evilly. “Your self-control is impressive,” he said, and the blond muttered something and pushed him against the marble counter. “This is a public bathroom...” Raven noted in an unsteady voice while Julian was yanking his pants down his hips. “Not for the next ten minutes it’s not,” Julian muttered and turned the brunet around, pushing him onto the counter without even pretending to be gentle. “Now, I have to return there shortly, therefore, I don’t have time for preparations of any sort, and you are going to finish what you started...” He let his own pants to slide down to his ankles. Raven looked into the mirror, meeting Julian’s eyes. He was about to say something but the blond didn’t wait for him to even open his mouth, entering him with one precise, hard thrust. Raven let out a low, muffled moan, digging his fingernails into cold marble, squeezing his eyes shut, and Julian froze for several seconds, letting him to adjust somewhat. Raven took a deep breath and opened his eyes. “I thought you were on a time frame...” he muttered with a crooked smile, looking at the blond in the mirror, and Julian correctly interpreted it as an invitation to move. “You might want to be quiet,” was all he said before slamming into the slender hips in front of him with immediate allegro, skipping the entire accelerando phase. ‘Quiet’ was easier said than done, Raven thought hazily when those quick, hard thrusts found their sparkling destination almost instantly. Watching the blond in the mirror didn’t help a single bit – Julian was mercilessly biting his lip, trying to swallow his own moans the best he could, and it turned Raven on even more. That and watching both of them in the mirror was doing the trick as well. They locked their gazes on each other in the smooth reflecting glass, moving in a perfectly synchronized, quickening tempo, and Raven’s throat was losing the ‘quiet’ battle pathetically. Julian panted something that Raven didn’t even try to decipher, and pressed his left palm against the smaller man’s mouth, muffling his moans somewhat successfully. Right now, Julian wasn’t even thinking of making this last long for obvious reasons; therefore, he picked up the tempo even more, making Raven lock his teeth on one of the knuckles that were pressing against his mouth. Brunet’s hips followed the maddening tempo eagerly, his restricted moans filling Julian’s palm with delightful heaviness, and the blond made a hell of an effort to tear his gaze away from the mirror and throw a quick glance at his watch. “Shit...” he muttered when he realized that it’s been almost ten minutes since he left his table. He hated the fact that he had to go back there, and soon. He looked in the mirror once again, running his eyes towards Raven’s hips, and what he saw, made his mouth twitch in a shaky smile. He kept the same breathless tempo going for several more minutes before reaching for Raven’s pulsating, begging for attention need. “Yes...!” Raven growled into blond’s palm when he felt and saw that, violently pumping his hips into the furious fist. He grabbed onto the counter even harder without looking away from their reflections. “Oh, God, yes... More!” Julian tightened his grasp and made his hand to move even faster. He felt Raven pulsate and swell in his fingers, and he locked his teeth on his lower lip hard even before the brunet groaned, “Oh, oh, yeah...!” into his palm, knowing only too well that he would follow the suit almost immediately, which he did. Raven bit onto Julian’s hand hard, trying to lock all those sounds in his throat, but succeeding at that only partially, when the furious release made his hips jerk even harder, forcing him to spill all over the marble counter. Julian hissed something unintelligible and buried his face in Raven’s hair, muffling his own moans when he climaxed as hard as his mate did several seconds ago. “Mmm,” he said several minutes later, when they stopped spasming. “This made the meeting much more interesting...” Raven let out weak laughter. “This also made my day a hell of a lot less boring,” he said in a low voice, and Julian raised his head. “That’s why you showed up here,” he muttered without even trying to make it sound like a question. “Because you were bored...” “Extremely bored,” Raven nodded with a small smile, and the blond sighed and straightened up, making Raven wince at the unpleasant emptiness. “I will need to figure out how to keep you occupied then,” Julian said evenly after quickly cleaning up and getting dressed. “Not that I am complaining...” Raven laughed softly and cleaned the counter, throwing the paper towels into the wastebasket when he finished. “Missed some,” Julian said absent-mindedly while running his fingers through his hair. “Right there,” he nodded at the mirror when Raven gave him a questioning look. “Huh,” Raven said thoughtfully and wiped the mirror. “Yes,” Julian agreed in his usual manner. “A somewhat impressive distance. Well, I have to get back to my lunch...” He looked at the brunet as if contemplating something. “You were bitching about the painting in the study for the last month or so,” he said finally, and his hand dove into his pocket. “It doesn’t go well with the rest of the house,” Raven shrugged at that. “Plus, it’s ugly, admit it.” “It’s abstract,” Julian nodded and pulled out his wallet. “It’s ugly,” Raven said firmly. “It’s a painting of a freaking purple circle that is not even shaped properly...” “Here,” the blond sighed and handed him a credit card. “Go raid some antique stores, find a painting that goes well with the rest of the house.” Raven narrowed his eyes and looked at the card. “What if you hate it?” he asked in a low voice, and Julian shrugged. “I won’t,” he promised with a slight nod. “What if I end up wasting a crapload of money on a fake?” Raven asked in the same low voice, and this time, the blond snorted. “Please,” he muttered. “When it comes to authenticity, you are better than any certified expert! You might not give a flying shit about art or whatnot, but when it comes to distinguishing between a fake and an original, my money would be on you...! And believe me when I say it,” he added a second later. “You know you originals from fakes!” “Occupational hazard,” Raven grinned and took the card. “If someone gives you any crap about the card...” Julian started saying, but Raven interrupted him. “They won’t,” he nodded, adding the card to his wallet. “Everyone knows me by now.” That was true; it didn’t matter that Raven wasn’t that famous to begin with. Whenever it came to Julian, people would somehow know that Raven was his mate even though they only announced it some lousy several weeks ago. It was as if there was some sort of a magical update when the matter was about Salamander. Sometimes, Raven wondered whether the ‘magical’ part was true. After all, Julian did control magic streams. “But I’ll call you if there is a problem,” the brunet nodded melancholically after shoving his wallet into the back pocket of his pants. He glanced at his watch and sighed. “I suppose you’d better go back there before people start wondering if coffee caused some digestion problems for you...” “Right,” Julian hemmed and watched Raven wrap himself into the shroud of nothingness. “By the way,” he said before taking off the stream, which was still wrapped around the doorknob. “This morning was the last time I didn’t wake you up before I left, just so you know...” “Sure,” Raven shrugged lightly even though he was aware of the fact that the blond couldn’t see him. “It’s nowhere near a guarantee that I won’t do it again though... And the next time...” he let out low, dark laughter. “I just might let you simply use the bathroom, instead of following you there. I just might wait for you wherever you left me... Just a thought,” he shrugged again, after seeing Julian’s expression. “I am curious how composed you can possibly be,” he said pleasantly, and laughed again at the quiet, unintelligible string of obscenities. “If you think you’ll come back home early tonight, let me know,” he sighed. “God knows how long it’ll take me to find something that doesn’t make me gag...” “I will,” Julian muttered while checking himself in the mirror one last time. “Although, I don’t think I would be able to... I am late as it is, and there are quite a few things I need to take care of today...” He released the magic stream and opened the door after he was satisfied with the last self-inspection. “I will see you at home,” he muttered before exiting the bathroom. He made his way back to the table, noting his freshly refilled coffee cup, and sat down, reaching for the creamer. “Shall we continue?” he asked after mixing some of it with his espresso, and let out a tiny smile when he felt lips lightly running over the back of his neck. “As I was saying...” [1] Refers to the events in the previous book, Debts.
  3. Rupert

    Chapter 3

    Really enjoying this so far, thanks.
  4. Today
  5. Guilhelin

    Chapter 14

    Noooooooooooo I caught up, but I just started an hour ago 😧
  6. I'll be posting (what I think of as) an important Pride poem on Thursday. I'd be honored if you all could give it a look at least :)


  7. flesco

    Oce Chapter 4

    Excellent chapter! The corporate entity has been quite busy during the 12 months on Pitcairn Island. Dad seems to be very busy and will have some new projects for Trenton upon his return to home base on Wake Island. I’m definitely looking forward to the next chapter! 😃❤️
  8. flesco

    Oce Chapter 3

    Outstanding chapter! The development and upgrades are well underway and the local residents are pretty happy with their new homes and communities. The technology and science required are certainly advanced, and the costs being funded by a single corporate entity is pretty amazing. I’m still looking for a new relationship for Trenton, he deserves it. I’m definitely looking forward to the next chapter! 😃❤️
  9. James B.

    Chapter 14

    I have to say I totally agree about Spencer and Kessler. I was thinking maybe one or both were gay, but it's still early in the story anything could happen. As far as Powers coming out that was a shock. Now as far as the missing kid I'm wondering if maybe him and Bowden might have been fooling around and the kid couldn't handle the pressure of being gay. Maybe this missing kid is Spencer's father.
  10. I am so upset right now, I have the shakes. I don't remember the last time I was upset to the point of involuntary shaking. When I first started working, part of the paperwork process involved naming a beneficiary should anything were to happen to me. I don't have any kids, but my sisters do. One of my sisters is married and the other isn't, so I figured "hey, the male child of my unmarried sister makes sense." He'd need it the most right? 

    Fast forward to present day. Everything has to be updated and more forms need to be filled out in terms of 'severance' since I'm finally leaving that job. 

    Somewhere in-between present day and the day I was first hired, my nephew grew into a young man and left the family on bad terms. But, he has a life of his own now. 

    I thought "well, I may not be happy about his choices in life, but he's still my nephew" and I never removed him as my beneficiary because I'm still childless and will likely not be able to have children at this point in my life or ever. 

    Well, it just so happens that some time in recent history, my nephew's private information seems to have been leaked. I was never made aware of this. Having no knowledge of that incident, I sent him a message that I needed a copy of his ID for an update on the paperwork for severance at my job. The words "important" and "as soon as possible" were used, because my last day working for them is this Friday. 

    Well, that simple message apparently opened up a can of worms on his end. He became paranoid and not only refuted my claim, but called me a liar more than once throughout our interaction. "I don't believe you." He responded. "I don't feel you're being honest with me."

    Why would anyone lie about something as important about naming a beneficiary? 

    Now I have to go back to work tomorrow and explain this whole mess to see what I have to do in order to remove him as a beneficiary, if he's so adamant about not trusting the aunt he grew up with enough to send her a copy of his ID. If they require his signature to do it, I'll likely break down in tears. 

    I mean, as it is, I feel I'm going to have to cry myself to sleep if I'm ever going to get any rest, as I'm too shaky and upset to fall asleep by my own means. 

    I guess there's no rest for the wicked even when they try to do a good deed.

    1. Headstall


      That sucks. :hug: Families are hard sometimes.

    2. Page Scrawler

      Page Scrawler

      So sorry you have to endure this, sweetie.   :hug:  I hope things work out for the best.

    3. Valkyrie


      Ugh... sorry he's putting you through this.  :hug: 

  11. flesco

    Chapter 14

    Excellent chapter! This is an outstanding story with interesting characters, I’ve just read the entire story to date, and am really impressed. The character development is moving at an appropriate pace. The mystery behind Spencer and the missing counselor from the past is adding some intrigue to a developing story. I’m wondering about Spencer and Kessler who seem to have a genuine affinity for each other. Kessler and Smits should not have listened at the window. I’m definitely looking forward to the next chapter! 😃❤️
  12. Headstall

    Twin Stars

    This is so typically Cia, which means to say there is nothing typical about it. I see so many possibilities here, yet have no idea where you would take it if you took us on a journey... and I'm all for a journey with these characters. As always, you leave me wanting more... cheers... Gary....
  13. Katya Dee

    The Dreamtrap

    This is a sequel to Debts -- it picks up where Debts left off. (book IV in the series)
  14. jamesm

    Oce Chapter 4

    I agree with mikedup. I feel danger ahead for some reason that I can't explain. Quokka you are a fantastic writer and we love all of your stories. I just wish you would have continued some but maybe that is just me.
  15. Tyler woke up the next morning and immediately headed to the bathroom to shower and clean up. The previous night with Drake had played over and over in his mind the second he got home until he finally couldn’t help himself and laid there, stroking himself while he thought about Drake. It had been the best orgasm of his life at that point and all he could think about was seeing him again. He tried to be quick about cleaning up, but he also wanted to make sure he was thorough. He wanted to look his best for later. Wrapping the towel around his waist, he headed back to his bedroom to find some clothes to wear. He had gotten some shorts on and was reaching for a shirt to wear when his phone rang, letting him know he had a text message. He picked it up and saw a text from Jacob. “Can you come help me paint today?” Tyler grimaced. He was hoping to spend more time with Drake, even if he wasn’t exactly sure where that was headed. He didn’t have any time to respond before he got another text message, this time from Drake. “So, anything you’d like to do today?” Tyler groaned. He didn’t want to disappoint Jacob, but he also didn’t want to pass up a chance to spend time with Drake. After debating it with himself, he decided he could do both. He sent a message to Jacob that he would be over soon and then one to Drake, telling him he’d be free later this afternoon. He got positive responses from both and then changed into some old shorts and shirt before heading out of his room to grab something to eat in the kitchen. His mom was sitting at the counter with a magazine in her hands as he walked past. “You look like you’re in a hurry this morning,” she remarked as she looked over the top of the page she was reading. Tyler smirked a little as he reached into the fridge and poured himself a glass of orange juice. “Jacob texted me just now and asked if I could come out and help him with something.” A smile played across her lips as she asked, “what kinda help are you going to give him?” He couldn’t stop himself from smiling a little. “Painting, Ma, painting,” he said knowing exactly what she was hinting at with that look on her face. She shrugged dismissively. “Well, maybe later you can take him out for a drink or something. Then he might show his appreciation for all your help.” Tyler blushed as the image of Drake in his mind from last night and the kiss they shared started to get pushed aside as thoughts of Jacob took over. All the things he thought about doing with him in the past few months replayed in his mind. He wondered for a split second what it would’ve felt like being kissed by Jacob like that. “Don’t see that happening, Ma.” “Tyler,” she got out of her chair and stepped over to her son. “Don’t you want a boyfriend or… something…?” He rolled his eyes. “Ma… I can handle it. Besides… I met a guy last night.” “Well, why are you goin’ out wasting your time with this Jacob boy?” “He’s not a boy, Ma. He’s a friend.” Colleen shrugged. “If you say so.” She smiled mischievously as she added, “so, tell me about the other boy.” Tyler groaned but it quickly turned into a chuckle. “He’s not a boy either. And you’ll have to wait to hear more once I know more.” “Okay, sweetheart.” She stood aside as he finished his juice and went to grab his boots. “Just be careful driving.” “I will, Ma.” He sat to quickly pull his boots on and laced them up before grabbing his keys and heading out. It took him about fifteen minutes and a few extra turns to get to the Howard & Howard Orchard. He had only been there a couple times before and had forgotten which turn led him up to the house. Once his truck crested the driveway, he could see Jacob next to his new workshop readying a spray painter. Jacob waved to him as he got out of his truck and headed over to him. “Thanks a lot for helping. I got two sprayers so we should be able to make quick work of this.” Tyler smiled. “Already knew I’d say yes?” “Well, not exactly,” he said, his smile fading a little. “Dad wasn’t feeling up to it this morning. He’s inside, laying down.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” Tyler replied. “He’s not sick, I hope.” Jacob turned away and headed over to the paint cans as he said, “just not feeling like himself today is all.” The subject seemed a sensitive one for Jacob, so he let it drop and followed him over to start getting set up. Jacob ran him through the basics on how to operate the machine before they both started at the front and moved to opposite sides of the building. As much as Tyler enjoyed spending time and generally just being around Jacob, when it came down to working, he rarely ever spoke. He could become so focused that everything else seemed to no longer register to him, including Tyler. With them working on opposite sides, it also meant that he wouldn’t even see Jacob until they met somewhere along the back of the building. He suppressed his disappointment and focused on carefully spraying the paint up and down the building, using one of the ladders to get to the top and then slowly work down. It wasn’t until the sun was overhead that Tyler finally met up with Jacob along the back of the building. By then, they were both sweating and exhausted. But the small smile of pride on Jacob’s face when he saw the work completed gave Tyler a small thrill inside him, thinking that he helped make that smile possible. They headed back to the barn to clean off the sprayers and put away any of the leftover paint. “Did you wanna go get something to eat,” Jacob asked as they walked out of the barn. “Uh,” Tyler wasn’t sure what to say. He wanted to spend more time with Jacob but there was also Drake still to consider. “Sure. Where did you wanna go?” “We could go to the sub shop,” Jacob offered. “Quick and easy.” Tyler nodded and then smirked. “I’ll even drive, if you want." Jacob chuckled a little, though Tyler noted the smile on his lips didn’t reach his eyes. “Alright then. Let’s go.” The two of them headed over to Tyler’s truck and got in and headed into town. Tyler made small talk about work the previous week and Jacob paid attention and commented a few times but mostly stayed quiet. When Tyler glanced over at him, he saw Jacob staring out of the window with an almost wistful look on his face. “So, how come you seem so out of it today,” he finally asked. Jacob blinked as if to pull himself out of whatever inner thoughts he had been ruminating over and shrugged. “I’m fine. Just been thinking a bit.” “Thinking about what?” “Just… stuff…” Jacob looked out the windshield at nothing with a sardonic smile for a moment as he added, “old memories. Nothing to worry about. I think I just need something to eat.” Tyler wasn’t buying it, but he also didn’t want to pry. After knowing him for a couple months now he was getting a better feel for Jacob’s moods. And right now, wasn’t the best time to ask too many questions. He pulled his truck into the sub shop parking lot and parked. When they got out, Jacob mumbled something about getting his dad something to eat while he’s here. They ordered their sandwiches separately and grabbed some bottled waters before sitting down. Once they were a few bites into their sandwiches, Tyler’s curiosity finally prompted him to speak up. “I got a question for you.” Jacob looked up from his sandwich and waited. Tyler squirmed a little uncomfortably in his seat. He didn’t want to pry but he felt he had to ask the question that had been bugging him for a while. “You call Mr. Howard ‘Dad’ from time to time, but you also call him ‘David.’ So, I mean, you don’t have the same last name. How come you live with him or is he really your dad?” Jacob chuckled silently. “Yeah, I guess to someone else it does sound odd. No, he’s not my biological father. My real dad died a few years ago. I’ve been living there the better part of twelve years now. Since high school.” “Ok, but why?” Tyler could see his clear blue eyes start to cloud over. Jacob sighed and was quiet long enough that Tyler thought maybe he had stepped over a line. When Jacob spoke again it was with a softer voice. “I’m there because I’m needed. I was… his son and I… Things happened. I did something I’m not proud of and I hurt someone I cared about, and I lost everything in the process. It’s taken me awhile to get back on my feet. I’m not gonna go into details other than to say his son hasn’t been home in years and I’m to blame for that. I dunno, maybe I should have left or even should leave now. But… He’s the only family I have left in this world and I don’t think I can manage without him.” His explanation sounded plausible but there he was still a little confused. “Why can’t you just talk to him and make up?” One side of Jacob’s lips lifted slightly, looking almost amused at the simple question. “I would if I knew where to find him.” Tyler felt like an asshole for bringing it up. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t any of my business to ask. I just… I dunno, it’s probably Ma’s bad influence on me being so curious about other people’s lives.” “No need to apologize,” he assured the younger man. “Let’s finish eating. I’m sure you got better things to do with your Saturday than sit around with me.” “What are you gonna do the rest of the day?” Jacob shrugged. “Gonna move what lumber I have into the new place and then take stock of what I got and what I need. Go from there.” Tyler nodded. “Sounds good. I got some plans today. I think.” Jacob smirked as his head tilted curiously. “You think?” Tyler rolled his eyes and blushed slightly. “There’s this guy…” “Oh,” he replied, suddenly understanding. “Well, make sure you stay safe. Never can tell with some of these guys.” He ignored the feeling of his cheeks flushing at the thought of what he might need to be safe about tonight. “I’ll keep that in mind.” They finished their lunches and Jacob got another sub for David before Tyler drove back to his house. Once Jacob thanked him again, he headed back home for another shower and hopefully no more interruptions. He went a little faster than he had that morning. As soon as he was out of the shower, he texted Drake to let him know he was free for the rest of the day. He put on the same clothes he had on earlier before going over to Jacob’s and then sat down on his bed and waited for Drake’s reply. He wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted to do with Drake today, but he knew that’s who he wanted to spend his time with. Even as he thought about Jacob, he could tell there wasn’t much interest from him about what he had planned. Also, Drake mentioned knowing Jacob the night before and didn’t want to bring it up with him. Of course, now he had more to ponder about Jacob. He wondered what happened between him and Mr. Howard’s son. Maybe they dated and something happened? Jacob looked uncomfortable talking about it and that dissuaded him from asking more. Whatever it was, Tyler hoped Jacob would be okay and maybe someday they could talk about it more. He laid there on the bed, playing games on his phone while he waited for a response from Drake. In the back of his mind he wondered what they would end up doing or how late they would be doing it? His mind suddenly seized on an uncomfortable thought. If things went as far as he hoped, he had no idea what to do or how to do it. Watching porn online was one thing but he knew half of that was fake anyway. How was he really going to get things started if Drake wanted to make out or… anything else? Drake’s text came later as the afternoon waned, asking him if he wanted to meet for dinner. Tyler wasn’t all that hungry after his lunch with Jacob, but he did want to spend time with Drake and get to know him better. They decided to meet up across town at an Italian place not far from the bar. When Tyler went to leave, he didn’t mention to his mom what he was doing as he left. As he drove, Tyler got more and more excited and nervous. He wasn’t sure if what they were doing was going to be considered a date. He had a lot of fun with Drake the night before, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready for something that serious. Also, there was Jacob to consider. Maybe all the things he was sharing with him meant he was interested in him and wanted to spend more time together? He wasn’t sure what he wanted at this point. For now, he would just go with whatever felt right and see where it leads. When he arrived at the restaurant, he saw Drake leaning against an old Hyundai, wearing a pair of shorts and shirt. Tyler parked near him and got out of his truck and came around, smiling with more confidence than he felt. “Sorry I was busy this morning. Something came up.” “Don’t worry about it,” Drake replied as his face brightened with a smile that gave Tyler a warm feeling. “I don’t expect to take up all your free time.” They fell into step with each other as they headed up to the door. Tyler was quiet until they were seated. As he looked across at Drake, he was suddenly remembering he had no idea what he was doing. “So…” Drake’s blue eyes twinkled in the light as he smiled. “Relax. We’re just getting a bite to eat. I didn’t mean to scare you or anything last night. I’m sorry if I did.” “No, you didn’t scare me,” Tyler said, finding his voice again. “I just… I don’t want to disappoint you or anything.” Drake gave him a curious look. “How could you disappoint me?” Tyler shrugged. “I’ve… never done this before.” Drake’s eyes scanned the immediate area for any eavesdroppers. “Done what, exactly?” Tyler’s head bobbed as he said, “you know… anything.” “Wait,” Drake blinked, suddenly realizing. “You mean… you’re a virgin?” Tyler’s cheeks blushed bright red. He knew he shouldn’t have said anything. “I’m sorry. I should just go.” He moved to get up, but Drake grasped his wrist. “Tyler, wait.” He put on his best face to try and put him at ease. “Sit down. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Tyler regarded him for a moment and slowly sat back down, still looking uncomfortable. “Honestly, I’m just surprised is all. I don’t think any less of you because of it, if that’s what you’re thinking.” Tyler was still feeling uncomfortable and unable to say anything. Thankfully, he was rescued by the waiter who arrived to take their orders. They sat there, giving their orders while Tyler was trying his best to look natural. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief after the waiter left to get their drinks. “I don’t… I don’t really know what to say about any of this.” “You never dated? Even in high school?” He shook his head. “I just… I kept my mind off of guys while I was in school. And, since then I guess I never really got the nerve to do anything.” “‘Cause you’re in a small town and you know everyone talks to everybody,” Drake nodded in understanding. He smirked and shook his head. “You’re not entirely wrong, you know. The thing is, small town life isn’t as bad as you make it out to be. There’re people here you’d be surprised to find they’d be more than a little interested in getting to know you better. If you gave them a shot.” “Like you,” he asked. Drake grinned slightly and Tyler was surprised to see his cheek redden slightly. “Maybe. That’s up to you, I guess. I know I like you. You’re fun to be around. Last night was probably one of the best times I’ve had in a long time. My only regret is that it ended so soon.” Tyler smiled and felt a little more relaxed hearing that. “I kind of felt the same way.” “You could’ve invited me back to your place for a drink, you know,” he replied with a playful smirk. The idea of Drake in his mom’s trailer wasn’t a pleasant one. He hated the trailer park and always felt ashamed of having nowhere else to go. “You could have invited me back to your place to, you know,” he offered back before adding, “if I hadn’t been so tired from working all day.” Drake laughed softly. “I’ll keep that in mind.” The waiter returned with their drinks giving them both a chance to ease off the topic. “You know, it occurs to me I still don’t know nearly as much about you as I’d like.” Tyler took a drink and shrugged. “Go ahead and ask.” “Well, what about your family life? You haven’t mentioned your mom or dad.” Tyler grimaced slightly. “I live with my mom. Dad dumped us when I was a kid. Used to live in Philly, but she and I had to move here because he did a good job making sure she got next to nothing in the divorce. I haven’t seen him in years.” “I’m sorry. Sounds a lot like my family situation. Except my mom disappeared when I was ten.” “No need to be sorry. Just how it is. How come you just didn’t stay in St. Louis?” Drake sighed but his lips remained in a small smirk. “After Max died, there wasn’t much there for me. Too many memories, I guess. His sister offered to let me stay in the house so long as I paid her rent. He and I didn’t have any legal arrangements and he never got around to putting me in his will so when he up and died on me I was kind of left with nothing.” “He was an older guy?” He chuckled and shrugged. “Depends on your idea of old. But, no, not really. He was only forty-nine when he died…” Despite himself, the light in his eyes dimmed slightly as he thought back. “I was almost twenty when we met. He claimed he knew I was a good kid right off. Took me in, cleaned me up and got me a decent education. He was the sweetest, classiest guy I’ve ever known. We had all these wild plans about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. We had a good time together. But, before we knew it, he got cancer and I had to spend a year watching him wither away in front of me.” He looked into his glass with a rueful smirk for a moment before he looked back up at Tyler. “He’d be fifty-six today if he was still here. So, yeah, I guess he was a bit older than me but that didn’t stop us from loving each other.” Tyler looked sorrowfully at him. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” Drake grinned. “Don’t sweat it, handsome. Shit happens. I think we both know that. Anyway, I should be asking you the questions. But I’m glad you asked about Max. I like remembering him.” “You haven’t been in a serious relationship since him?” He shrugged. “Not for want of tryin’... There’s been a few times I thought I might have found the right guy but…” he shrugged again and smiled slightly as he put his lips to his glass. “Nice to know I’m better than average, I guess.” He laughed and replied, “you definitely are that. So, what is it you wanna do with your life exactly?” Tyler was caught off guard by the question. “I was hoping to go to college out of high school but there was no money for that. Probably sounds stupid, but I was hoping to get into accounting. But I like the job I’m doing now. What matters is that it pays the bills and helps me keep a roof over me and Ma’s head. Beyond that, I’m fine with whatever it is I gotta do.” Drake nodded. “Your mom is very important to you.” “She’s all I got.” There was a moment of silence between them as Drake looked into his eyes. “Well… she might not be the only thing…” Tyler blushed and smiled as he was overcome. A few minutes of silence hung between them before the waiter arrived with their dinners. They ate in relative quiet, occasionally commenting on the food and the other patrons. As the time passed, Tyler again felt that same feeling he had the previous night. How comfortable Drake made him feel just being around him. True, he’d felt uneasy talking about some rough subjects, but Drake never made him feel like anything he said was questionable or insignificant. It was after they were done eating that Tyler excused himself to go to the bathroom. He moved through the dining area to a smaller room with a bar and more intimate two person tables. As he made his way through, he heard a familiar voice and laugh. Tyler turned his head towards the corner of the room and saw Stacy sitting there with another guy from work. Ken, if he remembered right. He hadn’t worked with him often but saw him in the office enough to know his face and name. They seemed to be enjoying themselves from the sounds of it. From the way they were looking at each other and how Ken had his hand on her thigh under the table, it was obvious they were more than just two friends catching up. Without really knowing why he was doing it, Tyler pulled out his phone and took a couple quick pictures of the two of them together before heading into the bathroom. He stood there at the urinal thinking about what he was going to do. This situation had been going on long enough for his taste and he couldn’t in good conscience keep turning a blind eye when Andy was his friend. He could just text the pictures to Andy and be done with it. But he didn’t want it to seem so uncaring. “Here’s some new pics of your skanky wife.” Tyler didn’t think Andy would appreciate that. After he finished his business, he stood in the bathroom and decided to call Andy instead and explain it. He called up Andy and waited while the phone rang. When it went to voicemail a cold feeling went up his spine. Andy and Stacy had two kids. If she was there and he wasn’t answering his phone, then what was happening to them? The first impulse he had was to go over to his house and make sure he was okay. Then he remembered that Drake was still here, and he didn’t want him getting involved or even know what was going on. This wasn’t anyone else’s business but Andy’s. He tried calling him a second time and again it went to voicemail. Tyler knew he was running out of options when he remembered he might be able to tell Jacob. He didn’t seem the type to tell just anyone and they were close friends. He gave calling Andy another try, and then made the decision to call Jacob. It wasn’t more than a few seconds when he answered. “Hey, what’s up?” Tyler swallowed and hoped he was doing the right thing. “Hey, ah… I’m a little worried about Andy.” “Andy? Why?” “Well… I’m out here having dinner with a friend. And I just saw Stacy with a guy. I decided to take a picture of them together, and trust me, they’re not just friends from how they were talking and looking at each other.” Tyler felt more and more unsure as he kept talking. Jacob’s voice sounded more heated as he replied, “I’ll deal with her later. Why are you worried about Andy?” “That’s the thing. I tried to call him, but he didn’t pick up. I tried again and he still didn’t pick up.” There was a moment of silence before Jacob sighed. “Thanks, Tyler. I’ll head over to his place and make sure he and the boys are okay. I’m glad you called me.” “Okay. I didn’t know who else to tell,” he said in a sort of apology. “You did the right thing. Just… don’t talk about this with anyone else, okay?” “Yeah, that’s fine.” “Okay, I gotta go. Talk to you later.” Jacob ended the call. Tyler gave himself another moment to let his nervousness about what just happened to dissipate before leaving the bathroom and heading back to his table. He spared a quick glance towards Stacy, but she seemed oblivious to his presence. As he approached his table, he could tell Drake seemed uneasy as he sat there by himself. When their eyes met, Drake immediately brightened again. The idea that he could make someone like Drake smile like that gave him a new warmth inside him as he sat back down. “Sorry for taking so long. Had a call I needed to make and didn’t want to interrupt our good time.” “I was a little worried you either fell in or climbed out through the window,” Drake said with a playful grin. Tyler chuckled. “Naw. You’re not getting rid of me that easy.” “Good to hear.” his blue eyes sparkled in the light as he smiled over at Tyler. “Hey, if you’re interested, I got a nice bottle of wine at home I’d be willing to share with you if you wanna come hang out. Things might be a little more private.” Tyler sat there looking at him, wondering if he was brave enough to actually go. He was nervous and unsure of himself, but he knew he didn’t want the night to end yet. A slow smile started to form on his lips before he finally nodded and said, “that sounds like fun. Maybe we can watch a movie or just… you know… talk.” Drake smiled and stood up. “Awesome. I went ahead and paid for the bill so we’re good to go.” Tyler got to his feet. “Oh, you didn’t need to do that.” “Don’t worry about it,” he replied as they looked in each other’s eyes before they headed to the door. Tyler followed him to their parked vehicles and got in his truck to follow Drake to his house. He fought back his growing nervousness and excitement as he drove to a small neighborhood just off the main highway that ran through town. The houses here were older and some looked run down or abandoned altogether. Drake parked his car in front of one of the better looking small homes on the street. Tyler got out of his truck and locked it before following Drake up to the door. The first impression he got when Tyler walked into Drake’s house was how nice everything looked compared to his trailer. The furniture looked old and a little worn but clean. The walls and floors were in good repair. “It’s not much,” Drake said offhandedly as he closed the door behind them, “but it’s home.” “This is great,” Tyler said with more enthusiasm than he meant to. “A lot better than my place, for sure.” Drake gave him a curious look as he smiled. “Why don’t you go ahead and get comfortable on the sofa and I’ll grab us some glasses.” Tyler stood there for a second as he kicked off his shoes before he sat down on the sofa which was surprisingly comfortable. Drake entered the room with two wine glasses and a bottle. He handed one of the glasses to Tyler before setting the other one on the coffee table in front of them. He uncorked the bottle and carefully poured the glasses half full before setting the bottle down and sitting down next to Tyler. Tyler took a sip and found it mostly to his liking. “You know, beer wouldn’t have been a bad thing,” he said casually. Drake replied with an amused tone, “you don’t like it?” “Oh, it’s fine. Just don’t think you needed to get all fancy or anything just for me.” Drake chortled silently to himself. “Tyler… It’s not about being fancy. You’re young and just starting to experience life out on your own. You should try new things every chance you get.” He took a drink from his glass and sat back a little more. “Are you just talking about wine now,” he asked with a slight smirk. Drake laughed. “No… No, I’m not.” “Well, Lord knows I still got a lot to try, I guess.” “Tell me.” Drake took another sip from his glass watching Tyler’s face. Tyler smirked and blushed a little. “I got a feeling where this conversation is going.” He drank most of the wine, finding the more he drank the better it tasted. Drake chuckled. “Okay. I’ll admit, I do find you attractive. Not sure how you feel about me so not sure where this could be headed. I know you’re nervous about the idea of having sex and I just figure maybe I could be your training wheels at the very least.” Tyler was a little caught off guard at Drake’s forwardness. He’d never heard anyone call him attractive before that he could think of. “Uh… Well, thanks. And I think you’re really hot too. It’s not that I’m nervous about having sex, really. I’m just nervous I’m not going to be that good at it.” Drake cocked an eyebrow as his mouth widened in a huge grin. “You like to do your best work the first time out, huh?” Tyler shrugged, looking into Drake’s eyes. “I like to swing for the fences.” He drained the last of the wine in his glass and looked back at Drake. He laughed, his blue eyes sparkling in the light. “No harm in that. There’s no harm in making mistakes either. It’s how we learn.” He reached for the wine bottle and refilled Tyler’s glass and his own before setting the bottle back down. “I really like you. More than like you. Not sure how far we could go, but if you were interested, it could be fun to find out.” Tyler stared into his glass. If he said yes to Drake, then he wouldn’t be able to say yes to Jacob if the possibility ever came up. But Drake didn’t make it sound like he wanted to get married or anything. Just some fun. And maybe along the way he might learn something. “So, what did you think about last night?” Drake moved closer to him on the sofa. “I thought it was a good start. Though, you didn’t do much other than stand there while I kissed you.” His cheeks reddened as he looked away and smirked slightly. “Yeah. I guess I was just surprised.” He took another drink, feeling himself relax. The feeling was short lived when he felt a warm hand on his thigh. Drake put his glass on the table and gently took Tyler’s to join it. “Maybe I should try again and see if you learned anything.” Tyler’s body trembled as Drake drew nearer. Without thinking, he put his arm around Drake’s back. He leaned his head in and met Drake’s lips with his own, giving into the need to finally know what it felt like to really kiss someone. As the kiss lingered and intensified, Tyler got swept up in the moment. It was the best feeling he ever had. As if every cell in his body felt more alive than they’ve ever been. When their lips parted, it was with some reluctance on his part. His eyes opened and looked upon Drake’s gentle smile and his shining blue eyes. Tyler had a new appreciation for him. “How was that?” “That was much better.” Drake kept his hands on Tyler, reluctant to let go of him. “How much time do you have?” “I have all night, if you want,” he replied with a small smile. “Okay. I only have one request. Well, rule, really.” “What’s that?” “This is all for you tonight. Anything you don’t want to do, you just say so and we’ll do something else, got it?” Tyler’s smile widened a little. “Okay.” “And this will last until you say otherwise,” he added. “The least I can do is give you a good memory of your first time.” “So, just take it a day at a time then,” he nodded. “I think I can handle that.” “Good,” he smiled again. “Do you want to go ahead and finish the wine?” Tyler started to feel warm inside, partly because of the wine he had been drinking but it was mostly Drake and his smile. His lips could still remember what that last kiss felt like and they wanted more. Oddly enough, he knew exactly what he wanted to do but he didn’t want to seem too assertive. “I think so, yeah.” Drake picked up the glass and handed it to Tyler before retrieving his own. “There’s no rush. We have all night.” “What about the next morning?” Drake cocked an eyebrow at the suggestion. “I have no plans other than to go to work at the bar tomorrow afternoon.” “Good.” He leaned forward and kissed Drake, surprising him with his comfort. “I think we’re gonna have a long night.” He grinned and sipped his wine as Tyler looked at him and smiled. **** David was sitting quietly on the couch with his eyes on the TV screen but not really paying attention. His mind was elsewhere. Jacob had left the house hours ago and he was honestly worried for the boy. The only thing Jacob told him was he had to go help someone but hadn’t been very forthcoming. The trust between the two of them only seemed to go so far between them at times lately. Admittedly, he hadn’t been in the best of moods the last week. He’d been moody and not very talkative. If he knew what the problem was, he could fix it. In truth, he knew what the problem was but there was no remedy. He was incomplete. A part of himself was missing and he had no idea where it was or how to get it back. He heard the rumble of Jacob’s truck coming up the drive. Nothing sounded amiss from his driving so whatever it was he had been doing the last couple hours he hadn’t been drinking. He felt a small tinge of pride in Jacob that he’s stayed sober for so long now. But he was still unsure of himself. David tried to help but there was only so much he could do. He sat there patiently, waiting for Jacob to walk in through the back door. He wasn’t disappointed but he wasn’t expecting to hear the whimpering cries of children accompanying his arrival. “David, can I get some help in here,” Jacob called out. Whatever self-imposed misery he had put himself into was quickly stored away as he got off the couch and hurried to the kitchen. He passed through the doorway to find Jacob standing there holding baby Blake in his arm and his other hand holding Tanner’s. Jacob looked slightly haggard, but his eyes were lit with determination. “What’s going on,” he asked as he came up and let Jacob pass the baby over to him. Blake may be two years old now, but David still thought of him as his little baby, being the youngest of Andy and Troy’s children, just barely beating Carter out by two months. “It’s complicated. Let’s just say the boys are going to be staying with us for a while. I gotta run back out to the truck and get... well, you'll see.” David nodded as he held Blake close to him. “Go on. I’ve got them. Come on, Tanner. Let’s get you two settled in.” Tanner took David’s hand silently to be led through the house. “Shh shh… It’s okay, Blake. Grandpa’s got you now.” He kissed the forehead of the crying child to settle him down. He got the children into the family room and sat back down on his spot, changing the channel on the TV to some cartoons and setting the volume low. Tanner immediately climbed up on the couch and snuggled close to him as David continued to rock Blake gently in his arms. He heard the back door open and close again but was surprised to hear two sets of footsteps ring through the house as they headed down the hall. David felt a sense of sadness enter his heart again when he caught a glimpse of Andy passing by the doorway to the living room. Jacob walked next to him with one hand over his shoulders, guiding him to the stairs. “It’s okay. Dad’s got the boys. Let’s get you upstairs and in bed.” Jacob’s words were faint, but David caught them. Whatever happened in the last few hours seemed to have traumatized all of them. David felt like his life was falling apart at the seams. That was a feeling he had gotten used to over the last few years. Blake eventually settled down and laid in David’s loving embrace as Tanner leaned back against his surrogate grandfather and watched the TV with a blank expression. It was some time later that Jacob entered the room and sat down heavily on one of the other couches with a sigh. David could see Jacob’s face was etched with fatigue and remorse. He sat there, looking like he’d just been in a battle for his own soul and only barely made it out in one piece. “Andy and Stacy are breaking up.” He said it so mechanically, David suspected there was more going on than he was being told but with the boys right there in the room, it probably wasn’t appropriate to ask for details. “Let’s get the room in the back ready for these two. They should be in bed anyway.” David slowly rose and Jacob went to grab the small bag he had hastily packed for them before joining him to get the boys settled in for the night. When the task was accomplished, David decided to head to his own bed, feeling more tired than he felt he had reason to be. When he climbed into bed later, he stared at the two pictures on his nightstand for a moment and silently prayed that one would help him find the other. With nothing left to him but hope, he sighed and turned the light off.
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