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    Wayne Gray
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Ash and Ember - 28. Unchained

04 March 2019, Monday 1:59 a.m. (Pacific Time)

William hung up the phone. Grant had just told him of his plans to propose to Troy, and to have all of their friends from Vermont present for it.

He closed his eyes to imagine it - his son standing next to Troy, happy and complete. At first, he didn't know what he would feel. The idea of his son marrying a man was, on its face, a bit of a shock to him. But as he thought about it, and as he recalled the sound of Grant's voice when he spoke about Troy, William only had one thing that rang in his mind.

Finally. My son is happy. Finally.


05 March 2019, Tuesday 10:39 p.m. (Pacific Time)

The following day, Sandra watched William from her spot on the couch. She knew him, and something was up. She had noticed Grant's name on a reservation for a group in mid-April and had mentioned it to her husband earlier in the day.

He had acted surprised, but he must have forgotten that Sandra had the same access as he did to their reservation system. She could see the user name of the person who had reserved Grant's group. She knew that it was him.

What are you and Grant up to, William? She eyed him as he worked outside with their crew. Soon, he walked past the window, and there was the sound of the door as he entered.

A few moments later he appeared in the doorway to the living room.

"Hello, Sandra." He smiled at her and approached.

Looking up at him, a subtle smile played on her lips. "Hello, William." She patted the couch beside her. "Would you sit with me for a while?"

He nodded and sat next to her. Taking her hand in his he asked, "Do you need anything? Can I do anything for you?"

Sandra nodded. "Actually, yes." She smiled, as sweet and innocent as she could manage, then went for the kill. "You can tell me what the true purpose of Grant's trip here is."

William swallowed, the sound audible. "Uh, I'm not …" Sandra watched as he realised he wasn't going to get away with anything. He bit his lip. Finally, he sighed. "Well, he wanted to tell you. I suppose he hasn't called yet."

"He has not." Sandra watched him. "And, he wanted to tell me what?"

With a chuckle, William shook his head. "Damn it." He patted her hand and looked into her eyes. "Okay. Well, he's bringing all of his friends here to witness his proposal. He's going to ask Troy to marry him."

A wave of chills traveled down her body, and Sandra closed her eyes.

William squeezed her hand. "Sandra?" She heard the worried tone in his voice. "Sandra, it's his choice. We should support …"

"Where are they staying?" Sandra interrupted him and opened her eyes. "His friends. Where are they staying?"

It was obvious William didn't expect that question. "Uh, they're going to rent the place on the highway. Or they're going to try. It may already be booked."

"They won't." Sandra watched William's eyes as the man tried to process where she was going. He started to say something but she beat him to it. "Have the guest cottages reserved for them. The whole time they're all here. No charge."

William stared at her. Sandra reached and she clasped both of his hands in hers. And, finally, she smiled.

William laughed, and Sandra joined him with a grin.


08 March 2019, Friday 5:51 p.m.

Troy watched as Beth came down the stairs. A beautiful, blue dress hugged her body, and set off her sapphire and silver earrings. Getting to the bottom of the staircase, she turned in a circle with a grin.

Troy whistled. "Looking good, Beth!" He smiled. "Man, he's not gonna know what hit him."

She laughed. "I sure hope you're right." Troy found it incredibly cute that the usually sure woman was so nervous.

Grant walked around the kitchen bar and raised his eyebrows when he saw her. "Wow. Don't give the man a heart attack, Beth!"

She laughed again, open mouth, a full and beautiful sound. Her joy was infectious, and the men grinned at her.

There was a knock at the door, and Troy moved toward it. "I've got it."

He opened the door, and Rhett stood there. Wearing tan dockers with a brown leather belt, brown boots, a light blue button up shirt, he had chosen a cute plaid vest to go over that. He'd recently bought new glasses too, and the thin frames with rectangular lenses suited his face very well. He had a single rose in his hand and smiled sheepishly at Troy. "Hi, Troy."

Troy grinned at him. "Hi, Rhett." He looked Rhett up and down. "Looking good, man." He stood aside. "Come on in. She's waiting for you."

Rhett stepped inside, and Troy followed him down the hall. Rhett stopped to stare at Beth.

Beth slowly shook her head, and a hand went to her mouth as she looked at Rhett. Troy thought she would cry. Instead, she smiled and stepped close to him. "Is this for me?"

Rhett blinked. Looking down at the rose, he nodded. With a smile, he handed it to her. "Yes. It's for you." He bit his lip and gave a shake of his head. "You really put it to shame, though. I never thought I'd think a rose could be ugly." His blue eyes looked at her with such wonder. "But next to you, it is."

Beth took the flower, her fingers trembling. "Boy, you need to stop saying things like that to me." She laughed, but her voice wavered. It was obvious she liked what she heard from him.

Troy felt almost like he and Grant weren't even in the room. Beth and Rhett seemed to forget they were there.

Taking her hand, Rhett's gaze never left her face. "Our reservation is at six-thirty. We'll be early." He smiled a little. "Are you okay hanging out with me until then?"

Beth grinned. "I think I can manage."

Troy and Grant bid them goodbye, and Rhett and Beth left the house, hand in hand.

As the door closed behind them, Troy looked at Grant. "Wow!" He laughed. "I have a feeling things between those two are going to get really serious, really fast."

Grant stepped up next to Troy, and instead of answering, he hugged him. Troy embraced him back, confused but fond. "Uh, are you okay?"

Grant nodded against Troy's chest. Over the last few days, Grant had been acting differently. He was always affectionate and loving, but now, there were these moments of overpowering, quiet emotion from him. Troy felt their connection grow even stronger, something he hadn't known could happen. It had already been intense. But now, it rivaled what he'd had with John.

Grant reached up, pulling Troy down, and gently kissed him. It was a languid, lingering moment. Troy's brain lit up with those same fireworks, and he found it hard to hold onto any semblance of control. After a bit, Grant's lips smiled against Troy's, and he leaned back to look at him. His eyes roamed over Troy's face. In them was sureness, confidence, and yet a deep need. It nearly took Troy's breath away to look into those brown pools.

Troy let Grant lead him upstairs by his hand. Once in their bedroom Grant, undressed them both while they kissed, touched, and communed, skin-to-skin. Soon, they were both naked, and Troy found himself gently pushed down onto his back, on the bed.

Straddling his hips, Grant kissed Troy. Grant's eyes were intense, open, and expressed such a desire. Troy swallowed as Grant began the process of settling on his erect penis. "I love you, Grant." Troy sighed, arching his neck, his eyes closed. Grant slid down, enclosing Troy's cock in pressure and warmth.

"I love you, Troy." His voice was soft, but absolutely sure. Settling on Troy's groin, Grant sat there, unmoving. He breathed and seemed happy to simply feel Troy inside him. Grant's dick was hard, and the tip glistened with a drop of precome that had leaked out of him. Troy put his hands on Grant's small waist, and he gazed up at his lover. Somehow, Troy knew he needed to let Grant control the pace, and he smiled up at his man.

Grant smiled back. He began to flex his strong core, moving his hips up and down.

It was slow but intense. Troy groaned. He stared up at Grant as the man slid back and forth. Grant looked down at Troy. It seemed that he was making this particular moment all about Troy. Grant wasn't stroking himself. He only looked down, watching Troy's face, and listening to the sounds Troy made.

Unwilling to allow for the selfishness of having the only orgasm, Troy wrapped his hand around Grant's wet, very hard cock. Grant's eyes slid closed as Troy began to stroke him. Grant's hips never stopped their slow, constant motion.

Troy watched Grant as he let his head loll back. His eyes opened, but they were halfway rolled back in his skull.

Unable to hold out longer, Troy's voice had a desperate edge. "Grant, I'm gonna get off." Grant grinned and looked down to watch him.

With a gasp, Troy bucked up into Grant's body. All the while, Grant's intense, focused stare held Troy's gaze. Then, at the tail end of Troy's orgasm, Grant's jaw dropped, and he inhaled.

Grant locked up, gritting his teeth. Then he let loose. A rope of come shot out of him, onto Troy's chest. He resumed breathing in a gasp, and Troy continued to stroke his handsome boyfriend until he'd finished.

Blowing out a satisfied breath, Grant smiled down at Troy. He made no immediate move to get off of him, remaining on top of his hips. His eyes took in all of Troy's face, and Troy watched as Grant's expression shifted to nervous.

God, what are you thinking right now? Troy reached up and he put a hand on Grant's cheek. "You okay?"

Closing his eyes, Grant leaned into Troy's touch. He turned his face to kiss Troy's palm. Then he looked back down at Troy. "I'm better than okay." He smiled, the expression bright and happy. He patted Troy's chest. "Come on. Let's clean up quick. We've got dinner waiting on us downstairs."

After Grant used the facilities Troy followed him into the shower for a rinse. Then the two lovers put on shorts and walked downstairs together, arms around one another's waists.


17 April 2019, Wednesday 6:42 p.m.

The next five weeks passed in a blur of anticipation, stress, and preparation, though one major worry had been crossed off of Grant's mind.

Taking some clever and sneaky work, Grant had finally discovered Troy's ring size. One evening after Troy had a long, hard job, he came home incredibly tired. The man passed out on the couch before he could even eat dinner. Grant had used the opportunity to gently measure his finger with a length of thread.

"Eight and a half will do it." Grant had mumbled to himself as he put in his order. Troy had long, strong fingers, but they were also thin and lean, just like the rest of him. A couple of weeks ago, the rings had finally arrived.

Grant had them delivered to his work. He secretly examined them, thrilled to discover that they were works of art. He'd wanted something unique. Something that would turn into a treasured reminder of their connection.

He'd chosen titanium rings with inlays of metallic meteorite. They were very handsome pieces of jewelry. As Grant stared down at the pair of rings that rested in his palm, he had to breathe through his emotional response. You can't be a mess at work, man. Rhett will wonder what's up.

He had put them away in a tiny paper packet, and that had gone into his wallet. He wanted the rings with him, always.

Everything was lining up. Rhett and Beth both wanted to go on the trip to the winery, along with all of the rest of the group. They had become a pair over the last few weeks. Beth had moved to a little apartment in town, one close to Rhett's. The two often walked the few blocks between them to see one another.

There was more good news on that front too. Beth had gotten her teaching credential in the state, and then she landed the job, teaching first-graders for the local elementary school.

Grant sat at their table, staring down at his plate of food. He tried to think about anything but the proposal, but they were all flying out the next day. They'd booked their flights as a group, and they had planned to do the same for the hotel accommodations. But Grant was hit with a surprise from his parents concerning that. His mother had called a couple of days after he'd first planned about the trip, and she let Grant know that they would all stay on the grounds.

His friends had been surprised and happy about the change. "Hell, I guess it's nice to know the son of the owners!" Brian grinned at him when Grant told the group of friends the news. Now, the only expense to them was the airfare.

It was all falling into place. Everything pushed him forward - everything seemed to click and fit, the closer the day approached.

Grant's stomach felt full of butterflies, and he mentally went over his plan repeatedly.

The door opened, and Troy entered. Grant sat up and tried to gather himself. Relax. You can't show any sign of what's to come.

Troy walked into the kitchen, grease on his clothes, hands, and a spot on his face. His toolbelt hugged his hips, and Grant smiled at him. "Hey." Grant swallowed, marvelling at the sight of Troy. My god, I want him to be mine.

"Hey, Grant." Troy grinned. He looked so rugged and handsome to Grant in that moment - dirty, unkempt, tired, but happy. Troy leaned down and gave him a careful peck on the lips, so that he wouldn't get any grease on Grant.

Straightening, Troy looked over at the counter, where Grant had assembled his plate. "Oh man, that looks great. Smells good too. Thanks for making dinner." He got his food and took a seat at the table. "I'm gonna eat now, clean up later."

Grant nodded at him. "You're welcome." And as his lover started to eat his food, Grant tried to pretend the most important day of his life wasn't coming.


18 April 2019, Thursday 3:02 p.m. (Pacific Time)

Their plane landed in Napa, California. As they taxied to the gate, Troy smiled and patted Grant's leg. "This is exciting! I'm happy everyone gets to see the winery!"

Grant looked at him and nodded. "Yeah. Me too." Then he went back to staring at his hands in his lap.

Troy eyed him a moment. Grant had seemed distracted and thoughtful all day. Troy knew something was on his mind, but Grant had given him no clue as to what it could be. Troy gave a mental shrug. He'll talk to me if he needs to.

Soon, they had gotten their carry-on luggage, and they got off the plane. A few of them had checked bags, and they walked to the baggage claim to pick those up. While they waited, Troy saw through the windows that the outside world was awash in the spring sun. Oh, the vineyard is going to look amazing. He grinned as he thought about it.

A few minutes later they wheeled their luggage to the exit. Waiting in the loading zone, William leaned on the black Lincoln, and there was another car exactly like it behind him. Troy, Grant, Rhett and Beth all got into William's car, while the other four friends jumped in with Gavin, who drove the other Lincoln. As was typical, Grant got in on the passenger side up with his dad in the front.

"Hi, gang!" William grinned. Introductions were made all around, and Troy could tell William was genuinely happy to see them.

Wow, he's really giddy. Troy smiled as William spoke over his shoulder to Beth and Rhett. And he watched as William clapped a hand on Grant. The two men looked at one another, and something passed between them. It was a look, filled with meaning, love, and shared knowledge.

Troy felt a pang of, not quite loss, but of regret - that he had missed out on what could have been. As William turned to refocus on the road, Troy couldn't help but think of his own family. But soon the negative emotion was buried by all of the positivity and excitement in the car.

Beth leaned over, stealing a kiss from Rhett, though he was happy to give one to her. She grabbed his hand, and they sat happily, side by side. Troy smiled at them. "I've not seen you two in a couple of weeks. How's everything going?"

Taking a breath, Rhett shook his head. "Things are ..." He looked at Beth, as if he couldn't believe she was beside him. "Things are great."

Beth gave him another kiss and grinned at Troy. "I concur with Nurse Olson."

He made a noise. "Don't! Don't jinx me!" Rhett had yet to take his exam for his nursing license, but he was getting closer to that day all the time. "Just because I spend the money on the courses doesn't mean they're going to give me the certification."

"Oh," Beth waved a hand, "you've got this." She rubbed her thumb against his forehead, wiping away a speck of lint on his skin. She sighed, and her fingers wiggled happily as they clasped with Rhett's. "You're so smart." She narrowed her eyes at him. "And I'm a teacher - I know!"

They all chuckled. Looking at her with such open appreciation, Rhett leaned in. This time the kiss lingered a moment. Troy watched, and when they didn't show any sign of stopping, he cleared his throat.

Rhett and Beth split apart and they both looked sidewise at him. Rhett rubbed his own head and gave Troy a chagrined smirk.

Leaning over, Beth whispered something to Rhett. Her hand gently rubbed the small man's leg. Rhett flushed red, and his eyes glanced at Troy, as if he were afraid the man had overheard her.

Troy only laughed.


18 April 2019, Thursday 3:53 p.m. (Pacific Time)

"Calm down, son." Gripping his shoulders, William looked at Grant. They'd arrived at the vineyard, and William had noticed Grant's pallor and the way he kept fingering the suspicious circular object in his pocket. William had pulled Grant away from the group and set Gavin to give them a tour of the winery.

Now, Grant stood in the living room with William and Sandra. Grant's mother looked on as William tried to reassure him. "Grant, you're starting to sweat." William smiled. "Calm down."

Staring at his father, Grant took big breaths of air, then let them out. He tried to slow his heart and his breathing, but the moment had come.

Grant shook his head. "I can't wait. It has to be today. It has to be now." He knew his parents had made preparations for the proposal. Champagne waited in the fridges, and they'd planned to have all of their workers present for the big moment. "I don't care about the drinks, or if more people are there." Grant nodded, his eyes unfocused. "It has to be now."

William held Grant by his shoulders, staring into his face. He wet his lips and looked at Sandra.

Sandra's eyes rested cooly on Grant. Her son and husband both knew she hated when plans were derailed, and Grant was certainly a wrecking ball at that moment.

"Grant." Sandra's calm voice snapped Grant out of his reverie, and he blinked down at her. She gave him a smile. "Son, I can tell this means a lot to you. And if it needs to be now, then it will be now."

Both Grant and William stared at her. Sandra continued, "Though you strong fellows will have to carry me, wherever you plan to do this."

Grant's face split into a smile. "Outside." He pointed out the window. "Under the oak." By the look on Sandra's face, he could tell that she approved.

Unclipping his walkie-talkie, William wiggled the device. "I'll get Gavin to take them there, then I'll get you outside, Sandra."

She nodded. Her eyes were still on Grant. Then she made a sound of surprise as he leaned down to give her a hug. "I love you, Mom." His voice was thick with restrained emotion.

"No, no." She laughed as she pushed him away. "Not yet." She sniffed and wagged her finger at him. "No emotional outbursts until the deed is done!"

Grant nodded, a grin on his face, his eyes glittering as he looked at her.

William made a motion for them to be quiet. He raised the radio to his lips. "Gavin? Please bring the group to the courtyard, near the oak."

They all listened to Gavin respond with an affirmative. The group was in one of the processing buildings, so it would be a few minutes.

"Perfect." William reached down for Sandra. "Are you ready, dear?"

She nodded and took his hand in hers. "I am." He easily lifted her, first to her feet, and then he bent and swept her up into his arms. It looked to Grant as if his father had some practice with carrying her, and he felt a pang of sadness as he remembered her new limitations.

Yet, her face didn't show any sort of mental anguish, or pain. She was adjusting. As William stepped past Grant, Sandra looked over his shoulder at her son. "Well? Are you coming?"

Laughing, Grant reached down to take the ring out of his pocket, holding it tight in his fist. Then he followed his parents outside into the sun.


18 April 2019, Thursday 4:09 p.m. (Pacific Time)

Troy and the others walked along with Gavin. They had only just started their impromptu tour a few minutes earlier when William called for them to come back to the main house. There was a little confusion as to what was going on, but overall, the mood was still high, and all were still laughing and happy.

Smiling as Aaron kept a close eye on Georgette, Troy watched him fuss over her. The woman was twenty-two weeks into her pregnancy. Though she still had fourteen more weeks until full term, it was now easy to see that she was pregnant. Her little belly was cute, and she often endured Aaron's amazed hands on the skin there.

"Oh god, I'm fine, Aaron!" She tried to wave him off as she walked along with the group. Georgette had almost tripped over the side of the walkway when she had stepped up. Aaron wasn't having it. He put his arm around her shoulders, and they walked that way the rest of the distance back to the house.

Troy shared a grin with the rest of the friends. They all circled the wagons around Georgette, whether she wanted it or not. Troy knew that though she groused about it, she loved the attention.

They came around the edge of the house to see Grant, William, and Sandra, all under the big, sprawling oak tree that grew there. Sandra rested in one of the outdoor patio chairs under the dappled sunshine, while Grant and William stood nearby.

Gavin took them straight to the small gathering. "Here they are, sir." He nodded at William. Gavin started to turn to go.

"Please, stay, Gavin," Grant said. His voice sounded rough, and he cleared his throat.

Troy could see something in Grant's eyes. As Grant stepped close, there was no way Troy could have looked away from him.

"I have to apologize to all of you." Grant's gaze never left Troy's face. The afternoon sun bathed his skin in a golden glow, and it made his brown eyes shine like jewels. Grant's hands were both closed tight, and there was an urgency in his manner and voice that caught Troy's attention like nothing ever had.

Smiling, Grant shook his head. "I had to get you all here." He nodded, mostly to himself, and stood directly in front of Troy. Reaching up with his left hand, he put it on the back of Troy's neck. His eyes roamed over Troy's face in that intimate, marveling way that Troy had come to love. "I had to, so you could witness what I hope will be one of the happiest moments of my life."

Grant stared a moment longer into Troy's eyes. Then he let his hand slide down the tall man's arm to kneel before him.

Troy's breath caught in his throat. He heard a couple of gasps behind him, and Troy looked down at Grant, shock on his face.

Opening his right hand, Grant's face was filled with such love, adoration, and hope as he looked up at Troy. A gray, silvery ring lay in his palm.

"Troy Beckford," Grant reached for Troy's hand, "will you do me the great honor of marrying me?"

Time seemed to stretch and slow for Troy as he looked down at Grant. Oh god. Oh god, I can't. Troy felt an overwhelming sense of duty to John and his memory. I can't betray him like that. I never even married my John. I can't. Grant won't understand, but I can't.

He opened his mouth to speak.

Don't you use my love like this! The angry sound of John's voice echoed through Troy's mind and rattled his soul. Don't you DARE use my love like this! If you want to tell him no, for you, then you go on an' tell him no, but don't you sully me this way!

His voice catching in his throat, Troy struggled mightily. Only a split second had passed, but it felt like a lifetime to him as he agonized.

John's voice came again, but this time it was gentle and soothing. Baby, you do whatever will make you happy. That's all I want.

The spell broke, and Troy laughed in relief and joy. He knelt down with Grant and stared into his brown eyes. Tears began to stream down Troy's cheeks.

"I don't know what I did." Troy's face twitched as he cried. Reaching out, he placed a hand on the side of Grant's head. "What did I do, to deserve not one, but two great loves?" He swallowed and took a breath.

"Yes, Grant. Yes." Troy smiled, tasting his own tears, and his world seemed to burst into color. "I'd love to marry you."

One more chapter to go!

Let me know what you think of this, the penultimate chapter to the story of Grant and Troy. We're almost there. Stick with me a little longer, and thank you for reading. 🙂

Copyright © 2020 Wayne Gray; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Smiling as Aaron kept a close eye on Georgette, Troy watched him fuss over her. The woman was twenty-two weeks into her pregnancy. Though she still had fourteen more weeks until full term, it was now easy to see that she was pregnant. Her little belly was cute, and she often endured Aaron's amazed hands on the skin there.

You keep mentioning Georgette’s progress. I’ve very afraid that you’ll pull another ‘Harris’ on us. Fortunately, there’s a doctor and a near-nurse on hand…

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13 minutes ago, Wayne Gray said:

The weekend was a great one. Much cheese, wine, sparkling cider and more were had.

They have sparkling hard cider?

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10 minutes ago, kbois said:

I'm sure droughtquake will chime in and agree edit

verb [ with obj. ]

1 to take an existing sympathetic character midway through a story and completely transform the motivations and trajectory in an extremely negative direction from a planned story arc.

2 an act by an author totally blindsiding his/her readers and completely fucking with their minds leaving them in a state of disbelief. 


Wayne Gray has a habit of harrisizing characters in his stories to drive his readers crazy.


early 21st cent. from the name of a character in a Wayne Gray story that first exhibited this phenomenon. 

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