“Come with me.”Erick slid off the side of the raft into the Chattahoochee River.Todd laughed and asked if he felt better.
“Come in with us, Eron and Flo.Timmy and Pate jump in; come on.Let Nash manage the raft for a few minutes.”
The guys were enjoying whitewater rafting down the river as they headed toward Atlanta, aka Hotlanta, during the annual Gay Fest.In honor of their time together, Todd had made a batch of “Hooch,” which was essentially corn liquor, but Hooch was also the nickname of the river.Todd had also done his homework and was pointing out geographical features along the way.He particularly liked the granite outcroppings, especially when the granite drop-offs were in the river and provided exciting rafting.Nash was in the stern and would guide them through the rapids while all of the men were paddling like crazy.None escaped without being soaked, but that was part of the fun.After completing one run, Pate said they all were screaming like seventh-grade girls, especially Tayloe.
Tayloe glared at Pate and stuck his tongue out.
“Yep, just like a girl, sticking your tongue out at me.Bring it over here and stick it down my throat.Come on Flo, bring me moe.”
They were all hooting and hollering.
Well, all except one.Flo.Someone had already asked Tayloe about his name, Flo.The handsome man who asked wasn’t sure if his name was part of the proud southern tradition of giving men drag names. Todd immediately said that his brother’s name was Florenzo, and the family had shortened it to Flo.Tayloe was still not amused.The man had a quizzical look on his face and asked if they were Italian because they sure didn’t look it.
“Old family name, old family name,” was all that Todd would say.Pretty soon, everyone on the river was calling Tayloe by the name Flo.He realized there was no need to fight it.
The seven men were having the time of their lives.They had all flown down mid-week to meet Todd after he told them of the four-day event.They had planned a break from work and school.Jan was happily covering Erick’s classes for two days, and Nash joined them in the revelry.Pate and Timmy had the luxury of making their own schedules.The seven of them had rented a raft for the Expo and were on the look-out for an eighth man to pair up with Nash.
The men wore swimsuits that Todd had custom made for the event.They were blue and gold stretch fabric with EU stitched on the seats, referring to Emory University, where Todd was in his medical school preparatory program. Todd said they all had to dress right. Timmy gave Todd a strange look when he said that and then blushed when he understood the meaning.They all had on matching aviator shades, baseball caps emblazoned with a rainbow flag, and Tayloe had bought a tube of zinc oxide for them to smear on their noses and lips.They looked hot!
Nash was thankful for the aviators because he couldn’t help himself from staring at all of the gorgeous men both on the river and on the shore.
“I don’t think I have ever seen so many good-looking men at one place in all of my life.There are a thousand husbands here just for the picking.”
Todd laughed at Nash and told him to calm down.
“There may be one here for you, but remember you have to return to Williamsburg on Sunday.This weekend is a divertimento.You don’t want a boyfriend 500 miles away.”
“Nope, but I wouldn’t mind knocking off a piece this weekend.You have no idea how long it has been since I have had any.”
“No, and we don’t need to know about your dry spell.”
They all laughed and grabbed beers.
Nash didn’t realize that he was under constant scrutiny by many of the men.He thought he looked like a big oaf.That is one of the reasons that he swam every day.He was bulked up for football, but the swimming gave him a trim waist and tight butt.The football team had a weekend off, which was unusual, so at the last minute, he decided to come.The coach had said they would scrimmage that week, but Nash told him he had to be in Atlanta.Nash said it was very important – life or death.Nash knew he would just die if he missed the Hotlanta River event. The coach, however, was getting tired of Nash’s excuses for being away.He was questioning Nash’s devotion to the team.Most football team members loved Nash’s affable nature, and now he was their “gay mascot” player.Most of the team loved his bravery in coming out and continuing to be a first-class sportsman.There were the nay-sayers, but they were a minority of the team.One day in the shower, one of the team members said he had Nash’s back; Nash shot back with a retort that he was a top man and not taking it up the bum.He offered to have the other guy’s back.When the guy turned and bent over, the laughter from the team was explosive.Nash knew how to be a team player.
The EU gold and blue raft was the talk of many of the men at the event.They were seen as a team.There were lots of hot men, but few matched this team, which was enjoying the event while having fun, being supportive of each other, and showing genuine affection and love.They were constantly laughing as they enjoyed their silliness.When things would start to calm down, one of them would start singing, “Flo, Flo, he don’t know.The man he’s got is a Romeo.”Men on other rafts would start singing along.Finally, after getting over being embarrassed, Tayloe stood in the middle of the raft and took bows after everyone stopped singing.After that, he was known by everyone on the river.Eron started calling himself Romeo.
Erick realized that Todd was almost maniacal in his devil daring antics while they were having fun.Todd knew no fear. He was being reckless, which bothered Erick. As they paddled the raft toward a sandy shore where they would spend the night, Todd was standing in the raft and shouting out to other teams.Erick was sitting and holding Todd by the waist so he didn’t fall over.Suddenly, Todd jumped from the raft and was swimming to join another group of men from EU.Erick had never seen Todd so boisterous and careless.Tayloe got Erick off to the side and asked what was going on with his brother.Erick had no answer.
The guys had decided to spend the night along the shore, so they unpacked their eight-man tent, and Nash hoped that he would find someone to fill the empty space.He kept eyeing a slim young man who spoke with an English accent.The man’s black hair and green eyes shimmered in the late afternoon sunlight.The treasure trail that went from his square pecs to the waistband of his speedo made Nash stiffen.The two kept making eyes at each other until Nash gathered the courage to walk over to speak with him.
“Hi, my name is Nash, and I think you are about the most handsome man here.”
The young guy blushed and looked at the ground.He then tilted his head up and spoke to Nash.
“No, you are the most handsome here, by far.I feel like I know you, but that is not possible, as I am new to your country.I’m Griffith Manners.”
The handsome man reached out his hand to Nash, and when Nash grabbed it, he pulled the smaller man to his feet.The man bumped into Nash’s broad chest and then looked up at the smiling face.
“Well, I think you should come to have some supper with us, and we can get to know each other better.”
The man’s brilliant smile told Nash everything he needed to know.They walked over to where the Blue and Gold team had watched the encounter between the two men.They were grinning at their friend.
The supper was simple and joke inducing.They ate grilled Vienna sausage, baked beans, and toast.Everyone was groaning about the food but scarfed it down anyway because they were starving after being on the water all day.Todd continued in his revelry and said they would have a farting contest in the tent that night - whoever was the last to survive in the tent won an unnamed prize.Nash was embarrassed that his new friend was experiencing his friends being so vulgar until Griffith said he had always won several such bets at Eton.
“So, you’re not turned off by beans on toast?”
“Quite the contrary.It is a staple in my family.People proudly serve Heinz baked beans on toast in England.”
“Yes, it is also served at university quite often.”
“What university do you attend?”
“I am at Christ Church College, Oxford.”
Nash and Griffith suddenly stopped talking and realized they had seen each other at a Sunday morning service at the cathedral at Oxford.They started smiling at each other as Nash reached over and took Griffith’s fingers in his.Griffith was singing in the quire that Sunday.They had eyed each other throughout the service, and then each had gone in separate directions.Nash had to get to the airport, and Griffith was meeting his roommate for lunch.Neither thought they would ever see each other again.Griffith was the first to speak.
“I don’t believe in coincidences.”
“Neither do I.”
“Good.We have just a few hours before I have to leave, and we have a lot to discuss.”
Dinner was finished, the trash was collected, and then the guys decided to find more wood for the campfire.Tayloe had bought a radio, and they found a channel in Atlanta that played disco music.It wasn’t long before they were up dancing around the fire.After some intense dance moves, they fell into couples on the sand.
It was Timmy who made the faux pas.He said it would have been fun if Yonatan and Matan were with them.Todd’s response surprised everyone.He quickly said he was glad they weren’t present.He then went on in a tone mimicking Yonatan explaining why they couldn’t possibly be away from the children for four days.He was starting up again when Erick looked at him and said they had heard quite enough.There was an uncomfortable silence afterward.It was clear that Erick was upset while Todd had a look of defiance.Yonatan and Matan were family to Erick and Eron, and they would not countenance anyone speaking badly about them.Even their partners.
Griffith was the one who broke the silence by asking where everyone was from and what they did.When it was Griffith’s turn, he said his family lived outside of Bakewell.
“Like the tart?”
“Precisely.We have one on Sundays when I am home.”
Nash then inquired about the work of his father.
“Well, he looks after the estate.The castle is always threatening to fall in on us.It is quite a bit of work, and then there are the tourists wandering the first floor, the chapel, and all over the gardens…”
Griffith realized that everyone was looking at him rather oddly.
“I mean, it is just home to us, though the family trust actually owns the castle.We get to live there as long as papa oversees the day-to-day upkeep. My uncle is the head of the family, and he gave us permission to live there.I suppose one day that will be my role.”
“Being head of the family or managing the castle?”
“Oh, managing the castle.I won’t be the head of the family as I have male cousins.One of them will be the next Duke.”
“Well, you will probably get along splendidly with Yonatan and Matan.They are rich also.They don’t own a castle yet, but give them time.”
Todd’s snarkiness was back.
Nash was affronted by Todd’s comment, grabbed Griffith’s hand, and said they were going walking.There were campfires all along the riverbank as different groups of men were camping.Nash realized they were still in their swimsuits, and it was getting cooler.He felt Griffith shivering, and he pulled the smaller man next to his body.Griffith looked up at Nash, smiled, and asked if he could have a kiss.Nash was completely undone as he wrapped the man in an embrace.He had never experienced anything like that in his life. He thought that romance like this only happened in novels.
The last sight that Nash had before closing his eyes was Griffith smiling at him.Nash lowered his head and met the luscious lips of the English Lord.Their lips smushed into each other, and both men groaned through the kiss.Nash’s hand naturally went to his Lordship’s perky butt, and Griffith’s arms wrapped around Nash’s neck.They lost track of time while kissing and holding each other.Someone walking by asked if they were alright or whether they were stuck together with Gorilla Glue.
They separated and then burst out laughing.
“Nash, I want to be glued to you.I know we just formally met, but I like you.I like you a lot.When I saw you sitting in the cathedral, I felt an instant connection.It was more than seeing a handsome stranger.It was an energy force field between us.You felt it, right?”
“I fell in love with Oxford while I was there.I fell in lust with you that day.I wanted to take you right there.There was a connection. I thought it was lust, but I think maybe it is so much more.”
“I knew instantly.Sometimes it takes somebody else a little more time.That is okay.”
“Talk to me about what you are doing in Atlanta.I need to know when we are going to get together again...after tonight...after tomorrow.I leave tomorrow and cannot go home until I know that we have a plan to get together again.”
“I am here for the fall studying at Georgia Tech.I am majoring in electrical engineering, which is a small department at Christ Church, so I am here to take some specific courses that are not offered there.”
“Why did you go to Christ Church if they didn’t have a strong program?”
“That is where my family goes.Nowhere else was even considered.”
“Oh, I see,” Nash laughed, “or maybe I don’t.It doesn’t matter.”
“So, are we going to sleep in your tent or mine tonight?”
“Neither.I think we have too much to talk about before I have to leave.”
“Can you grab your sleeping bag and bring it to the shoreline?We can lie here, talk, kiss, and do all of these things I want to do with you.”
Nash grinned.He thought himself the most fortunate man in the world.He ran to the tent, grabbed his sleeping bag, and brought it back to the shore.They slipped off their swimsuits once they were in the bag.
“Oh, my God.Nash.Are you a Norse God?”
Griffith was lying on top of Nash.He started kissing Nash as he told him the story of who he was.Nash then told Griffith of his life and his connection to the men he was with for the weekend.They talked until they both fell asleep.When Nash woke, he realized that he was spooning Griffith.He was poking Griffith’s back with his prick, so he pulled back because he wanted to be a gentleman.They had not talked about sex during the night.Nash realized that Griffith had awakened, and he then felt a hand guiding him into his new friend.Griffith caught his breath and then said it was a perfect fit.While they were coupled, Griffith unzipped the bag, twisted his body around, and again was lying on top of Nash.Griffith said that Brits didn’t know much about cowboys, but he knew how to ride a big bull.He then bucked like it was a rodeo.
They were in the river rinsing off when other campers started wandering out of their tents and walking into the water to wash.Nash borrowed soap from a man he didn’t know.He washed himself and Griffith.Someone else handed Nash a bottle of shampoo, and he washed Griffith’s beautiful black, curly hair.When they walked out of the river, they were not the only ones with erections.Griffith pulled on his speedo, as did Nash, and they walked over to awaken the rest of the Blue and Gold crew.
The afternoon separation was difficult for both men.They promised to stay in touch and see each other again during fall break.Nash agreed to go to England with Griffith over Christmas break unless W&M was in a bowl game.Nash’s tears were flowing freely, and even the stoic Englishman’s face looked like a wet weekend when they departed later that day.