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Warning: This story deals with mature subjects such as suicide, attempted murder, and religious bigotry. If you are sensitive to any of these subjects, please consider not reading the story.

Any Day - 20. Toni


Except for the finishing touches, the house is completed ready for Lenny's arrival.

Adrian held the sketch up to the light and rechecked the living room layout. He knew he had been fussing with the arrangement for the past twenty minutes, but he wanted to get everything looking right. Two Chesterfields sofas and two matching armchairs in burnished brown leather sat around a Persian rug and a teak Thai coffee table, facing the newly restored open log fireplace, effectively zoning the front of the room from the back.

“It’s perfect, buddy,” said Toni, her hands on her hips.

As usual, Toni had her blonde hair tied up with a red polka dot silk scarf and wore a pair of denim dungarees over a white tee, looking like a second world war poster for female manual workers. Even peppered in grime and dirt, she managed to look sexy. Jack certainly thought so, because she kept telling him lay off every time he snuck up behind and wrapped his tanned muscled arms around her, after they had finished helping him shift another piece of furniture in place.

“Lenny is very exacting. And I don’t want him to have to move anything around again when he gets here.”

“Aww, that’s so sweet,” said Toni.

“I’m looking forward to meeting this guy who has you all hot and bothered,” said Jack.

In only a black singlet and denims, Jack looked like a lean model off the front cover of Men’s Health. An intricate tattoo sleeve covered his muscled right arm, from shoulder to wrist, and the head of what appeared to be a lion sat between his firm pecs and poked its head above the cut of his vest. Even following an afternoon of moving furniture, his black slicked-back hair and long stubble looked perfect and defined his tanned masculine sexiness. Right now, Jack pulled Toni onto his lap in a corner of one of the leather sofas. Adrian wanted to tell them not to get dirt on the leather, but they had been apart all week and he knew how that felt.

“Not as much as me,” said Adrian.

Toni laughed, jumped up and pulled the sketch out of Adrian’s hands.

“Ade, the only things lacking in this room are chinaware for the dresser shelves, cushions for the settees and artwork. Those walls are far too bare.”

“That’s Lenny’s call. I wasn’t sure what his choice would be.”

“You should be framing these and putting them up,” she said, waving the sketch at him. “They’re fantastic. If he doesn’t want them, I do.”

“Is it beer time, yet?” asked Jack, heading for the fridge.

Adrian and Toni had stocked up on supplies during the week, now the house had a working kitchen. And Jack had bought food items with him, according to Toni. But they still had the basic kitchenware Adrian had brought from his home. At some point, Lenny would need to decide on pots, pans, plates and cutlery. Adrian checked his phone for the time, four-fifteen, just as a message popped up on his display.

Lenny: Five minutes away.

“Okay then. I think we all deserve some down time. Lenny’s almost here. Let’s sit around the dining table until he arrives. Have you thought about where you want to go for dinner tonight?”

“I’m cooking,” said Jack.

This was news to Adrian. He took a seat at the table opposite Toni, and peered at her quizzically.

“He insisted,” she said, with a shrug. “And believe me, you won’t be disappointed. Jack is almost as good in the kitchen as he is in the bedroom.”

“Okay. TMI. Are you two going to try to keep the noise down tonight?”

“Funny,” said Toni. “I was going to ask you the same thing.”

Jack barked out a laugh and brought a fistful of beer bottles to the table. With a flourish, he twisted off the tops in turn and thumped them down on the table top.

“And I am christening your oven tonight. Toni tells me neither of you are vegetarian, so I’m cooking us my own signature beef bourguignon served with new potatoes—”

“You can’t. We don’t have a casserole dish,” said Adrian.

“Way ahead of you,” said Jack, taking a seat next to Toni. “I brought everything with me. Toni warned me. Everything’s already prepped, sitting in the fridge, and ready to go. And the oven’s already pre-heating. Just needs popping in for three hours. I’ve even brought plates and cutlery from home. All you have to do is sit and eat.”

“He’s a proper little housewife, isn’t he?” said Adrian, to Toni. “Fetching us beers and now cooking.”

“You’re forgetting,” said Jack, taking a seat. “I’ve already been there, done that.”

Jack was the first trans man Adrian had ever met. Or at least the first he had known about. Toni had tried to explain the kind of shit he’d had to suffer—hormone replacement therapy, sex reassignment surgery, and so much more—to get his body looking the way he always wanted, and she had stood by him every step of the way. Adrian had seen pictures of Jack when he had been Jacqueline—a lifetime ago—and wondered if the decision had put a strain on their relationship as two frankly beautiful and totally-in-love lesbians. But seeing them together now, he realised he didn’t need to ask.

“Shit, I really envy you, Jack. Well, both of you.”

“Envy?” said Jack, peering over at him in puzzlement. “Seriously? Why?”

“Okay,” said Adrian, holding his hands up in defence. “I know you’ve been through a lot of shit, but when I look at you now, hell, when most men look at you, whether gay or straight, I reckon they’re all a little envious. Gay men because they want to sleep with you, straight men because they want to be you, especially seeing you with this beautiful woman on your arm. As a couple, you look perfect, and you get to go anywhere you want hand-in-hand, to touch and kiss in public, and nobody blinks an eye. And if they do, it’s only because you’re a hot couple and they’re jealous.”

Toni and Jack turned to each other, chuckled and pecked each other on the lips.

“It does have its perks,” said Toni, sadly. “But it wasn’t always this easy, Ade. And neither of Jack’s parents speak to him anymore.”

“Well, if it’s any consolation, I know how that feels. Or did. My mum talks to me again, when she can find the time. But I just wanted you to know how proud I am of you, and how much I love you both.”

Jack turned to Toni then and pulled a face.

“You never told me Adrian was such a big sap.”

“He’s in love. What do you expect?”

“I am not—”

But Adrian could not finish the sentence, because the truth hit him like a bulldozer. He had never really felt anything similar since Stephan, the friend who had trodden his heart into the mud. But he really missed Lenny.

“Uh-huh,” said Toni grinning. “Hey, have you thought anything more about what I said? Chatting with that friend of mine, Tom Bradford? I told him about you, and I know he’s desperate for good, reliable builders. And more importantly, you would fit in so well. Unlike Norwich, they have a shitload of work on right now with new-build homes, and they’re struggling to get experienced builders. And I also know for a fact that he pays top dollar.”

“I live in Drayton, Toni. His outfit is based in Greater London, isn’t it?”

“Yes, and you have a truck. Two and half hours and you’re in the heart of the capital.”

“But you know these kinds of jobs aren’t for a day here and a day there, they go on for weeks. And I don’t relish doing that drive every day.”

“Then don’t. Isn’t there someone you could stay with in London? Look, you don’t have to call Tom if you don’t want to, I just thought it might be nice to move on from this dry spell. I like Pete Ross, I really do, but he’s let us both down so many times recently with the promise of work.”

“Let me think on it. Maybe another beer might help, Jack.”

“Bloody cheek,” said Jack grinning, but got up from the table and headed to the fridge.

“And can you get one for me, too?” came a voice from the front doorway. They all turned to see Lenny standing there, a bag in hand, his eyes scanning the room, a huge grin on his face. Nobody had heard him enter. “Wow. Will you look at this place. Amazing.”

Adrian scraped his chair away from the table and strode over to Lenny. After dropping his bag, Lenny pulled Adrian into a really fierce hug that lasted longer than usual. Had they missed each other equally?

“Like what you see?” asked Adrian, pulling away. Maybe it was his imagination, but Adrian thought he sensed some hesitation in Lenny, a slight nervousness or apprehension.

“Yes,” said Lenny looking around again, before bringing his gaze back to Adrian. “The house looks great, too.”

Adrian grinned then, his insecurities melting away.

“Come and meet the gang.”

Within the hour, after introductions and a couple more beers had been consumed, they sat laughing together like old friends. Jack got up partway through to put in the casserole, and before long delicious aromas began to fill the living room space. Adrian sat back and smiled, listening to Toni explain to Lenny about the changes to the electrics and the lighting plan he had agreed for each room. Already the house had begun to feel like a home. When she asked Lenny about the dresser, he explained how he had already come prepared.

“I’ve got a car boot full of things I picked up at our warehouse. Staffordshire plates and platters to go on the dresser shelves, beautifully designed with matching floral patterns. Cutlery sets and assorted cushions for the sofas. The only thing I haven’t shopped for is modern kitchen appliances; toaster, blender, coffee maker, other things that might come in handy. I thought we might do that this weekend, Ade.”

“How about paintings for the walls?” asked Toni

“Tough one, that. I’m going to leave that until last. But I do have a few ideas up my sleeve that I’m going to run by Adrian first.”

“And the burning question,” said Jack, from behind the kitchen island. “Is what are you going to do with the place, now that it’s almost finished?”

Adrian looked to Lenny, who smiled knowingly and appeared calm. Adrian had no idea what Lenny planned to do, they hadn’t discussed that far in advance. Everything they’d done so far leant towards him renting Bryn Bach out, or selling the house to somebody, which felt so wrong.

“Well, the first thing I’m going to do is to throw a big housewarming party on the twenty-eighth of this month, so make sure you’re free because I’ve already put the front bedroom aside so you two can stay. After that, I’m going to keep the place for weekends away from the big smoke. I’m also going to let it out to friends and family, people I know and trust to keep the place tidy. And yes, before you ask, you are very high up on the A list.”

“In which case,” said Jack, grinning at Toni. “We’re going to open the special bottle of Chateau Margaux we’ve been saving, to share with you at dinner and to christen the house, because you’ve said all the right things.”

“We don’t have—” began Adrian.

Jack held up a hand, cutting him off.

And I also brought red wine glasses with me for this very occasion. A box of four as a housewarming gift.”

Toni giggled over the top of her beer bottle, before clinking glasses with Adrian and Lenny.

An hour before Jack served up dinner, they all showered and changed. Having the downstairs shower room made things so much easier, and when Adrian had changed and joined them downstairs, he found Jack and Toni busy laying the table, while Lenny had opened up the balcony doors and allowed the garden fragrance and the last of the daylight to flood into the living room.

“Look at that view,” said Lenny, putting his arm around Adrian. “Might get a bit nippy later, so we should enjoy the remains of the day. Come on, let’s get out of their way. Bring your beer and sit with me on the stone steps where we can savour the view.”

Adrian hummed his approval before following Lenny to the top step. Adrian’s heart swelled at the simple act of sitting beside him, their warm sides touching. Both sat watching in silence as the sun slowly descended, bathing the back of the house in yellow light, the view over the patchwork countryside spectacular in its beauty, simplicity and tranquility.

“Lenny, I need to talk to you about something.”

“Good,” said Lenny. “Because I need to talk to you, too.”

Lenny had seemed anxious from the moment he’d arrived, and Adrian wondered if he had been thinking along the same lines, about the upcoming deadline for the completion of work on the property, and what would happen next between them. He considered letting Lenny go first, but knew he needed to say his piece while he still had the courage.

“Okay, but let me go first,” said Adrian. “I’m normally hopeless with words, but I need to get this off my chest, while I’ve mustered the courage. These last three weeks have been hard without having you here. I mean really hard. But it’s made me realise that I don’t want anything casual anymore, the thought doesn’t even appeal. I only want you, to have a future with you. But to do that, I need to be really honest, I need us both to be honest with each other. Do you understand?”

Lenny had gone very quiet, but he managed to answer with a single nod.

“So before I ask and make a complete arse of myself, I need to know. Do you see me in your future, or is this simply a chapter—?”

Lenny’s head shot around quickly.

“I want you in my life, Ade. Fuck, I need you in my life, in my future. I want to grow old with you.”

A gasp of relief burst from Adrian, a breath he hadn’t even realised he’d been holding in.

“Is that it? Is that what you wanted to ask me?” said Lenny aghast. “You wondered if I wanted to be with you?”

“Yes. Well, no. Well, partly.”

“Okay. Glad we’ve cleared that up...”

They both laughed at the same time, and Adrian decided to take the next step.

“I know I’m in Drayton and you’re in London, but I’m prepared to drive to you whenever I can. Or you can come and stay with me, rather than staying with your mother. But I imagine there’s a lot more for us to do where you live. What I also wanted to know, and only if we were both agreed on being together, is how you might feel about ditching the condoms.”

Next to him, Lenny’s mouth dropped open in shock. Okay, not the reaction he had been hoping for, but maybe he needed to clarify.

“Only if you want to, and only after we’ve both been tested, of course. I’ve stayed clean all these years, but I wouldn’t expect you to agree to this without us both getting tested together. Hey, what’s the matter?”

Lenny had dropped his head forward, pushed his hands into his eyes, and shook his head slowly from side to side. Seeing this, Adrian put his arm across his shoulders and pulled one of Lenny’s hands away.

“Hey buddy, are you okay? We don’t need to—”

“No, I’m fine,” said Lenny, taking Adrian’s hand and squeezing. “In fact, I’m more than fine, I’m fantastic. I haven’t felt this alive, this optimistic, in years, the way I have these past few months or so since meeting you. So yes, whatever you want, I’m prepared to give you. And more.”

“This does mean you’ll probably have to meet my mother.”

“Fair enough. You’ve already had the pleasure of meeting mine. But I promise you this, you will never, ever have to meet my aunt.”

“Oh, yes. I didn’t ask you how that went. Should I bother?”

“She’s dropping her claim to the house. Sounds like cousin Matthew managed to talk her around. But family or not, she will never change, Ade. You should have seen the look on her face when I told her I was gay. I know your mother’s religious, but from what you tell me, she tries to do good things for other people in the community, socialising with them and getting you to go around and help out if anyone’s having trouble with their house. Yes, I know she didn’t fight for you when you really needed her support, but I sense that was more because she feared going against your father’s wishes.”

“I don’t blame her, Lenny. She told me she argued with him about me the morning after I left, and did her best to try to find me. But they had no idea where I’d gone because I dropped all contact. Finally, she did what she could, contacting her brother to keep an eye out for me.”

“But what I’m trying to say,” continued Lenny, “is that good people use their belief to promote kindness in the world, who see loving each other as the most important message for the living. My aunt is not like that. She is one of those who uses her belief as armour, to make her feel superior and protected, to lock herself away from the realities of life. Can you believe, she forbade me from using Luke’s name in her presence? The woman is damaged, Ade, she refuses to show any kind of remorse, or humanity, or kindness or courtesy. And, family or not, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.”

“Sounds like you’ve had a rough day. But if you no longer need to worry about going to court, that must be a relief. And you end up keeping this beautiful home.”

“And this beautiful boyfriend.”

Adrian’s smile turned into a small grimace.

“Ooh, boyfriend, huh? At my age? Maybe we can think of something else.”

“Partner sounds like we’re in business together. How about fella?”

“How about not. And I’m not keen on better half, either.”

Lenny chuckled.

“Let’s agree to a work-in-progress. I’m thinking we have a few things to talk about this weekend. But all that matters to me right now is that you’re going to be a part of my life. How did I get so lucky?”

Adrian put his hands either side of Lenny’s head pulled him around and kissed him full on the mouth, enjoying the sensation for a long moment, before finally pulling apart.

“I love you, Lenny Day.”

Lenny’s eyes had been lingering on Adrian’s lips, but with the words spoken, darted up to meet Adrian’s gaze. Instantly, a smile blossomed on his face.

“Yeah, me too. I love you, Adrian Lamperton.”

“Okay, lovebirds,” came Toni’s voice from behind them. “Dinner’s about ready. Or do you want to carry on making out on the terrace.”

Adrian began to stand, but Lenny pulled him down, and got out his phone.

“Toni, I promised a persistent work colleague I’d get a photo of us together. Can you take a couple, while we still have that amazing sunset in the background?”

“My pleasure.”

Adrian and Lenny sat with their arms around each other until Toni was satisfied. After that, she handed the phone back to Lenny.

“Come and eat. And remember to have a think about what I said, Ade. Maybe see what Lenny thinks. I know you need the work, and Tom’s always on the lookout for good builders.”

“Who’s Tom?” asked Lenny.

“Ah,” said Adrian, as they headed in and sat next to each other at the table. “So how would you feel about having a house guest if I were to get some work in London?”

The story is coming to a close now, but I wanted to pave out tentative steps for a future together.

Copyright © 2020 lomax61; All Rights Reserved.

Thank you for reading.

All reactions, comments,  and especially wild speculation about what happens next, will be taken very seriously.

@lomax61 aka Brian


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Chapter Comments

The story is coming to a close now, but I wanted to pave out tentative steps for a future together.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the mystery surrounding Luke's death, and the identity and motive(s) of the fire bomber, will both be solved before you draw this story to its final closure, Brian. :)  

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Great, a faux cliff hanger, what the F*&k about Colonel Mustard getting it on with Professor Plum before doing the dastardly deed????

Can someone cue the background music to Oliver Twist as we all collectively beg for several more bowls of chapters??? Just where did the lead pipe end up, I don't think Miss Scarlet is talking😝😄

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4 hours ago, drsawzall said:

Great, a faux cliff hanger, what the F*&k about Colonel Mustard getting it on with Professor Plum before doing the dastardly deed????

Can someone cue the background music to Oliver Twist as we all collectively beg for several more bowls of chapters??? Just where did the lead pipe end up, I don't think Miss Scarlet is talking😝😄

I'm not gonna pretend I got even half the refferences you threw in there but as to "collectively beg for several more bowls of chapters" I'm all for it!!😻😻

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