m/m Muscle Worship, Series 2, Part 1, Back to the Beach

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Hey guys,

I took some time off from writing after I finished the first series, which you can find under my page.  There were 19 chapters and a separate page with identifying the different characters.

I had so much fun with the guys in that series, I decided to continue on with them.  

Hope you enjoy.  As always, any feedback, positive or not, is welcome.




We lay on our bellies on the gold and blue blanket with a hexagon pattern, under my blue umbrella.  The mid-day sun is beating down on the sand around us, causing heat waves to shimmer off it.  We’re both in board shorts.  His, a solid navy blue one fits like a second skin on his 6’3”, tight, muscular body.  Mine, a bright green one, fits perfectly over my 5’11” body, which is nothing to sneeze at either. 

I’ve slowly gained about ten pounds of muscle over the past 9 months and am very proud of myself, but my 175 is nothing compared to his 240. I’m making gains with my biceps and chest, which is what I want to do, but my abs have always been my best feature.  This is due to years of sports in high school and college.  Keeping them tight and visible has been my top priority.  They are a complete six pack with inroads towards an 8 pack.  I’ve kept active with sports after college, meeting Jay, and getting my job.  I play tennis, beach and grass volleyball, disc golf, and some touch football.  Jay likes some of these activities, but is mainly a weights guy.  We hit the gym on a regular basis, but go our separate ways once there.  I’ll never be in his league, weight lifting wise, but I do pretty well for a guy my size.

I have a nice deep dark tan thanks to my Italian heritage, but the damn public beach and their ‘no nudity’ rules keep me from getting an ‘all over’ tan.  Jay on the other hand, with his Scandinavian background and blonde complexion, burns just walking from the house to the beach, which is only a 5-minute walk.  He needs to be fully clothed and wearing a hat.  I do enjoy spreading lotion on his large muscled body though.  We’ve gotten plenty of cat calls and whistles, and a lot of people staring and/or leering at us while I apply the SPF 100 lotion to him.  We both take it in stride and Jay seems to have fun playing it up when some whistles at his body.  He’ll throw a double bi or most muscular just to put on a show.

The deep blue ocean is spread out in front of us.  It’s high tide and there are a few white caps, but nothing to keep us from going back in for another swim.  We got in when we first got here a few hours ago.  We splashed around for 30 minutes or so and then got out, gingerly walking over the shells and stones at the water’s edge.  We toweled off, and lay on the blanket.  We had some light snacks and talked about Cam and Ming, Davey and Ty, and Eddie and the twins.  Everyone seems to be back on track, which is good. 

Jay’s enormous right arm is draped over my shoulders, holding me securely, yet gently to his body. His right hand casually playing with my curls. I’m getting a woody just from the feel of his fingers running along my scalp and through my curls.  It’s an almost unconscious act on his part, but it means so much to me.   

Blue skies, salt water smell, an ocean breeze, and my Jay next to me.  Today is the perfect day. 

I lean over and give him a kiss on his cheek.  He’s attempting to grow a beard and hasn’t shaved in two weeks.  I can grow a full beard in about a week thanks to my Italian parents, but his Northern European roots mean he can barely grow stubble, much less a beard.  I poke some fun at him, but encourage him all the same.  I like the new look.  It gives me something else to play with. 

I twist under the weight of his arm. He senses I want to move and lifts it up a few inches.  I turn over and lay on my back. He lets his arm down again and it pins me to the blanket. The weight makes it hard for me to breath.  I tap it a few times and he lifts it off me and sets it between us.  I rub my fingers along the short hair he has on his arm and he moans.  Yet another area where my touch arouses him.

I drift for a few minutes, close to sleep, when I sense movement.

He rolls onto his side and moves closer to me.  I look into his clear blue eyes and see excitement and mischief at the same time.  I have an idea of what he wants to do, but I want to make him work for it.  Add some spice to our lives, not that we need it.

“You look gorgeous.” He says to me. 

I smile, put my left hand on his face, and gently rub his stubble. “You do too buddy.”  I lean over and give him a soft kiss on his lips.  He reciprocates. He puts his right hand on my butt and forcibly moves me closer to him.  I can feel his erection under his shorts.  I start to get hard as well.  He feels my response, smiles, and pulls me in for another, longer kiss. 

Keeping his hand on my butt, he slowly rolls onto his back and pulls me on top of him at the same time.  My added weight is nothing to him.  I seductively slide my body up and down his midsection and he groans in utter pleasure. The hair on my chest and abs rubbing against his smooth skin turns us both on.  I can feel both our erections getting harder.  We’ll need to take care of them at some point soon.

He moves his hands behind his head and does a slow double bi flex.  I stare at them.  There are veins crawling all over them. Their denseness and their size still astonish me even after all the years we’ve been together.  I stop my movements and lean down and start to kiss him again, more fervently now.  I put my hands on his biceps and start to massage them, enjoying the feeling of the solid, rock hard muscle.  Jay knows I love his arms and tenses his muscles even more as I rub them.  I let out a guttural moan and increase the pressure on them, hoping to dent the muscle, even just a bit. 

Jay breaks our kiss, looks into my brown eyes, now surrounded by my curly hair, and teasingly says, “I’ll let you have what you want, if you let me have what I want.” He then winks at me and exhales a gust of air that pushes the curls off my face for a few seconds.  When he’s done, they float back down and encircle my face again. 

I lean back down, but don’t kiss him.  I go to his ear, blow some warn air into it, lap at the lobe for a second, moistening it, and coyly say, “Well Muscles, we can’t do it here on the blanket.  Ocean or house?”  I nibble on his lobe a bit more and before he can answer I move my hands to his chest and push myself upright.  I’m still sitting on his midsection and quickly move my hips back and forth a few times, just to make sure he’s still hard, which he is.  I stand up, quickly adjust myself, wink at him, and head to the ocean.  “You going to join me?” I say over my shoulder as I walk away.

I get to the water’s edge when I finally feel him coming up behind me like a thundering herd of wild elephants.  I feel the sand pounding and see his shadow over take me.  I brace myself for what is coming. 

Whoosh. He picks me up in his arms while in a dead sprint.  We travel into the ocean until he is calf deep in the water.  He slows and spins around twice.  I start to laugh and he joins me.  He pulls me in for another kiss and just before our lips meet, he pulls back and says, “Time to get wet again Max.”  He effortlessly tosses me 15 feet into an oncoming wave.  My arms and legs splay out in different directions, all of them looking for solid ground but not finding any. I splash thru the wave and pop up on the other side spitting out salt water.  My curly hair is plastered to my head and my hard-on is plainly visible as my shorts are now glued to my body.  I grin and see Jay moving towards me again. 

The water is waist deep, crystal clear, and in the upper 60’s. 

He easily slices through the water and walks right to me.  He bends over a bit, puts both his hands on my ass and lifts me up.  I wrap my legs around his waist and my arms around his neck, even though I know I’m secure in hands.  Now comes the real kiss.  Long and sloppy.  Passionate and sensitive. Loving and carefree.  I’m sure people are staring at us, but we don’t care.  Life is too short to worry about what others think of you or how you express your love.

As we kiss, he walks us to deeper water.  Before I realize it, the water is chest high on him.  He stops and plants his feet in the sand.  He winks at me and I know we’re not going anywhere unless he wants us to.  No wave, no matter how strong is going to move us one inch unless Jay allows it.  I grow harder just at the thought of his strength against ocean water.  A shudder runs through me.  Jay feels it and grins.  “Just what I wanted.” He says softly and moves back in to resume kissing me.  I feel his bulge getting larger too.

He jostles me in his arms and makes sure my legs are secure around his waist. He releases his left hand and brings it out of the water and flexes the bicep right next to our faces.  I don’t see it until he turns our heads towards it. 

“Hmm, is that for me?” I whisper.  My erection knows it is and responds before he has a chance to answer.

“Well, you have been a good boy recently, so yeah, you can have it.” He whispers back.  I release my right hand from his neck and curl my fingers around the top of the muscle, feeling the expanse and hardness.  My erection grows harder still.  He extends his arm, relaxing the muscle, and I get a good grip, knowing what he’s about to do.  When I have my finger planted on the muscle, he slowly, painfully slowly, starts to curl the muscle.  My fingers grope the muscle unabashedly.  As he continues to flex it, he pulls it closer to my face.  So, while my fingers are mashing at the hardening muscle, I wet my lips in anticipation for them getting in on the fun. 

The moment they meet, I swear sparks flew between his muscle and my lips.  I feel a shock in my spine and it energizes me.  I pull myself closer to Jay, my erection is pushing against his brick wall of abs through my suit.  I squeeze my legs tighter in an attempt to stop myself from blowing my load too soon.  I use my left arm to pull myself up another inch, and then close my eyes for a second to prepare myself to attack his bicep again.  I open them to see, the veins are pumping, the striations are prominent, and the short blonde hairs are standing on end.  He is just as excited as I am.  I re-wet my lips and go at him like a baby to a bottle.  My fingers claw at the muscle trying to make a dent in the now fully flexed, rock hard bicep.  My mouth covers the face of the muscle and my nose smashes into it as well.  I feel like I am trying to lick the last bit of chocolate off a candy wrapper and no one can convince me the job is done and there is nothing left. 

Then I feel it. Jay very subtlety relaxes his arm the smallest bit and my fingers dug into the muscle.  I moan.  The sensation of feeling his muscle, the fibers, the blood coursing thru it, the pulse, send me to a new high.  My erection is pulsing to new levels, which causes Jays to grow as well.

He tightens the muscle back up, then relaxes it again, just a bit.  This time my teeth nibble on the loosened skin, my tongue brushes over the hairs wetting them sloppily, and my lips are pursed and kissing the vein running across the face of the muscle. 

He pulls me close and licks my ear around the outer edge.  He whispers into my ear, “Third time’s a charm sexy boy.”  He flexes and slowly relaxes for a final time.  I dig my fingers into the muscle like they are trying to get a grip on a smooth mountain wall.  My mouth continues its assault.  Then I sense he is hardening the muscle and just as it gets rock hard again, I blow my load into my shorts.  As I spurt, I released my fingers and mouth, turn to face Jay, and bury my head into his shoulder and let loose a long pleasurable moan.  He knows what was happening and steadies me with the arm still around my back. 

After what seems like an eternity, I take my head off his shoulder.  I look into his clear blue eyes, see the playfulness and love, and move in for a thank you kiss.  We break the kiss and he says, “We’re just getting warmed up Curly.”  I smile and nod in agreement.  “Back to the house?”  I nod yes eagerly. 

He turns and walks us back to the shallow waters where he puts me down.  I’m still partially erect so I wander back into waist deep water, turn away from the beach, make sure no one is watching, and quickly adjust myself. When I turn back, Jay is staring at me with a huge dumb ass grin on his face.  I walk up and past him and sternly say, “Shut it.”  He chuckles and just shakes his head.

We get back to the umbrella and towels.  We throw some t-shirts on and I start to gather the trash and put it in a bag.  Jay grabs the umbrella, pulls it out of the sand with a quick yank.  He rolls it up and puts a bungie cord around it tightly.  I shake out the towels, careful to not shake sand onto the people near-by. I stuff them into a backpack and toss on a baseball hat.  I hand a hat to Jay too, and his sunglasses. 

We load everything into the cart and start back.  The sand is blisteringly hot, but I have my mind on other things, so I don’t let it bother me too much.  Jay takes the lead with cart in tow.  I follow, making sure nothing falls out, oh and so I can get a good look at his shapely ass.   His legs are doing all the work in the soft sand.  His calf muscles explode with the workout of pulling the cart and digging into the sand.  He seems to enjoy it. 

As we get closer to the cart path, the sand is more compact and firmer.  I catch up and walk beside him, reaching my right hand out for his left.  At the break between beach and path, we pause to put our flip-flops on.  We start on the path between the dunes to the house.  It’s still a gorgeous afternoon.  A stray cloud floats by, a few seagulls sit on the dunes, calling at us for any spare food we may have.  I shoo them away, but they return quickly and resume calling at us. 

As we walk along the path, I mention that Shae and Ro want to Skype with him soon.  Their lacrosse season is starting soon and they are looking for some workout tips to build stamina.  He says ok, he’ll call them in a few days.  He mentions his Gran want us over for dinner.  We have not seen her in a few weeks.  I say ok.  Jay says he’ll call her too and set it up.  We walk on for a bit. A few people pass us on their way to the beach.  These late comers will set up and stay until dusk, enjoying the fading light and heat.  There are dunes on both sides of the walk with grass and small flowers shrubs to help keep the dunes from washing away during storms.

I hear Jay quietly ask, “Still in the mood Curly?”  He squeezes my hand gently and caresses his thumb along the top of my hand.  I release his hand, walk in front of him, turn to face him and press my hands to my upper thighs, stretching my board shorts flat, showing off the erection, which I’ve been maintaining.   He smiles an evil smile and says, “Nice, can’t wait.”   His tongue flicks out and licks his lips.  I turn and pick up my pace. I want to get back to the house first. 

I hear Jay behind me quicken his pace too.  I glance over my shoulder and see he is practically running.  I slow to let him catch up.  When he’s about 10 feet away, I casually say, “Your backpack bounced out back there.”  I nod to it about 20 feet behind him, “You should take more care. You cannot afford to lose your lotion.”  He turns, sees it, and groans.  He drops the cart handle and jogs back to the bag.  I take the opportunity and sprint to the house.  There’s a slight decline in the path and it helps me put some distance between us.

I hear him yell to me, “Two can play at this Max.  You just wait.”  I wave a hand at him as I go down the small hill.  I get back to the house first.  I wait at the bottom of the ramp at the house.  I see his head rise over the small crest of the hill.  He sees me waiting for him and smiles.  I smile back.  As he gets closer, I open the gate door and let him enter first.  I swat his ass as he passes.  It’s like slapping granite.

Once on the deck, we take everything out of the cart.  I shake out the blanket and towels more thoroughly and spread them over the deck railing to dry in the gentle breeze.  Jay takes the umbrella out and puts it in the closet next to the house. I grab the outdoor hose and rinse the sand off the cooIer.  I unlock the sliding doors and set it inside the door.  I grab two towels from a chair just inside the door.

“I’ll shower first.” I say to Jay as I walk to the outdoor shower on the side of the deck. He raises an eyebrow.  I reach an arm into the shower and turn on the water and put both towels on a hook on the inside of the wooden contraption.

He walks over to me, untying his shorts, “We could shower together and, you know, get all the sand off each other.”  He winks at me and gives me another devilish grin.  I feel the water again and it is just the right temperature.

I raise my eyebrow and say sarcastically, “Muscles, you know we both don’t fit in this little box, given all the times we’ve tried.”  He laughs.  “Plus,” I add, “I want you to think about what you’re waiting for.”  And with that, I quickly step in, shut, and lock the door.  I know I won’t have much time, so I drop my shorts and quickly grab the bar or soap and get to work.  I lather up my face, arms and chest.   

Jay comes up to the door, knocks, and politely says, “Open the door Max, or I won’t huff and puff, and blow you.”  I pick up my shorts, hold them under the shower head and rinse as much as sand out as possible.  I toss them over the wall to him.  “What am I supposed to do with these?”  He asks.

I grab the shampoo and put some in my hair.  I say, “I can’t hear you; I’ve got shampoo in my hair.”

“Funny Maxwell…”  I hear him shake the wooden door tentatively, “Max, if you don’t open the door, I may need to withhold sexual favors from you.” 

I lather up my legs, groin, and ass.  “Just a minute please.”  I say politely in a sing-song voice.  I hear him gently rap on the door again.  I step under the shower head and let it wash over me, cleaning the soap, sand, and shampoo off. I turn the water off, shake my curls out, grab the towel and quickly dry off.  I unlock the door and Jay is standing right there, with his left forearm over the door frame.  “Jeez dude, couldn’t wait 3 minutes for me?”  I pat him on the chest and duck under his arm.  He turns to grab me, but I scoot away.  “Stay away sandman.”  He looks at me with an astonished look on his face.  “Your turn to shower.  I’ll be upstairs…”  I eye up from toe to head and pause at his midsection and whistle. He turns and quickly gets into the shower.  I walk to the sliding door into the house and consider locking it, just to piss him off a bit more, but decide not too as he may break the glass to get in.

I carry the cooler to the kitchen sink and put it in.  We can deal with emptying it later.

I head upstairs to our bedroom.  The room is painted a light blue and has wooden floors covered with an area shag rug which is dark blue with white tassels.  The king size bed has a yellow and green comforter with a floral print.  The pillows match.  There is a stand-up bureau, and some side tables and chairs, all with a nautical theme.  There’s a 46-inch widescreen TV on the wall opposite the bed.  There’s a ceiling fan over the bed, which is never really turned off.  The windows open to the ocean and I look out to see the blue water. I glance down to the deck and can just see the top of Jay’s head.  He seems to be moving quickly thru his shower. I head to the attached master bath.  There’s a huge walk-in shower and all the regular bathroom amenities. 

I glance at myself in the over sized mirror. I look pretty good.  I run a hand thru my chest hair and groan.  I need to trim it up again, which means some manscaping down below too.  I shake my head, things I do for my boyfriend.  I turn on the radio in the bathroom and tune it to the local Alternative Music station.  Cage the Elephant’s ‘In One Ear’ is playing and I sing along.  One of my favorite songs.

I grab a towel off the towel rack and put it over my head to dry my curls.  This is the part I hate about having curly hair, drying it.  I’ve thought about cutting them off, but since it was done to me previously without my permission, I quickly put that idea out of my mind. 

I bend over and start to dry, rubbing the towel around.  I feel another pair of hands join me in the job.  I think, ‘He got done his shower fast.  He must be really anxious to get going.’  I say aloud, “Wow Jay, fastest shower on record for you.”   There’s no response.  I lean up and realize, the hands are too small and bony to be Jay’s. 

Suddenly the person grabs the towel and twists it around my head and neck, cutting off air and blood.  I cough and choke.  Breathing gets harder due to the towel being wet and part of the towel cutting into my windpipe. I flail my arms in an attempt to hit the intruder, but they dodge the swings.  At one point, they grab my left arm and twist it around and pin it to my lower back in a hammer lock hold.  I reach my right hand up to the towel and try to pull it away from my neck.  The person kicks me in my right knee. I start to stagger, but the person keeps a tight grip on the towel.  He increases the pressure and I feel woozy.  I can still hear the radio, but the song is muffled. 

He drags me backwards into the bedroom and I continue to struggle.  The towel covering my bottom half comes lose and falls off.  He leads me to the bed and leans me over, face first onto the mattress.  He pushes me face into the bedspread in an attempt to suffocate me.  I kick backwards with my left leg, but he raises his leg to block it.  He puts more pressure on my head and I feel him practically get on my back.  I can feel he is wearing jeans and there is a belt buckle poking into my lower back.

I continue to struggle, and try to roll side to side, but it is getting harder.  I make one final effort and jerk my head upwards and hit him right in the chin.  I see stars and moan at the pain I feel in my head.  He grunts in pain and let’s go of my left arm and rabbit punches me in the side a few times.  I let out a howl of pain through the towel.  He then punches me on the side of my head.  I go slack.  In the encroaching darkness, I hear Jay’s voice yell, “Max?  Are you ok?”  I kick my right leg back and connect with my assailant’s knee.  He lets out another load grunt and I hear Jay start running up the steps.  His heavy footsteps are my only salvation at this point.  I hear a picture fall off the stairwell wall and the glass crash onto the steps.

We continue to struggle, twisting and turning. We slide off the side of the bed and I land on top of the intruder.  He quickly scoots back so I am between his legs.  He still has a hold of the towel. 

I hear Jay enter the room.  He angerly says, “You? How?  You should still be in jail.”

I feel my assailant pin my left arm to my side, and he reaches into a pocket and pulls something out.  I hear a quick flip and realize he’s opened a switchblade. I feel the pointy object on my left rib.  “Not another step Asswipe or your boyfriend buys it.”  I think to myself, ‘No way.  How’d he get here?’  I feel the blade push further into my side, but it hasn’t broken the skin yet.  I try not to flinch.  With him holding the blade to my side, his right hand has loosened its grip on the towel around my neck.  I can breathe a bit easier but am still in a fog. 

I’ve got to do something to give Jay time to get to me.  I debate on whether to jab him with my right arm or go for his hand holding the blade.  I’ve only got one shot at this.  I can hear Jay and the man still yelling at each other.  I can faintly hear the bathroom radio playing ‘Natural’ by Imagine Dragons but am in my own world and their voices and the radio are just background noise. 

I try to concentrate on my assailant and my situation.  I can feel the blade.  The pressure lessens then increases as he and Jay argue.  Every time he yells at Jay, he leans forward and the pressure increases.  When he takes a breath, it eases off.  I stay vey still. 

He yells at Jay, “Back off, dude, out of the room. Nice and slow.  I don’t want my hand to slip and the blade to puncture your boyfriend.”  I feel the tip break the skin.  I grunt. 

Jay snarls back, “You hurt him, and I’ll make our last meeting look like a walk in the park.”

The guy grunts and lets out an ugly laugh.  The blade backs off as he starts cursing at Jay again. 

Now’s my chance.  With his attention distracted from me for second, as quickly as I can, I reach my right hand for his left.  I miss, but still manage to grab his wrist.  I try to push it away, and it moves an inch or two, but then he pushes back, and I feel the blade enter my side and then come back out.

He releases my left hand. Surprisingly, I don’t feel pain.

I reach my left hand to where I think the blade entered and feel something wet and a bit sticky oozing out.  I distantly hear Jay take two steps to me and feel a breeze as his fist goes past my face.  I hear it connect with the person behind me.  Immediately the tension on the towel is gone and the person falls backward.  I also fall backwards onto the guys stomach.  I feel a pain in my upper back and wonder about it.  Darkness is encroaching.

Jay is yelling to me, but it is getting fainter, “Max, stay with me buddy, stay with me…”  I feel the towel being untwisted from my head and suddenly there is a blinding light in my face for a split second and then Jay’s beautiful blue eyes are looking right into mine.  He’s still talking to me, but it’s getting fainter.  As I fade out, I hear him yell, “Larry, you’re….”


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Thanks, man. I needed that. Looking forward to the next part.

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Such a good start.  I love the way that the Maxwell teases his big man, so cute and adorable how he can get Jay worked up in a fun way.

Very well written.  And that teaser...ooof!  I'm invested.  Hope Max and Jay will be ok!

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Awesome start to part 2! Can't wait for many more chapters to come with muscles and curly 💪🏻💙💪🏻

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Part 2, Fresh Start.



I walk up the long sidewalk to the old Victorian style house.  It is disheveled.  Weeds growing up between the sidewalk cracks, overgrown grass on both sides, bushes tangled and mangled.  Dirt patches with more scraggly weeds where flower beds used to be.  A few dead trees with dead leaves surrounding them. The house is in as much disrepair as the yard.  Paint is peeling and cracked.  Shutters missing or hanging on by a nail. The wood siding is warped, cracked, and falling off in places. The wrap-around porch is missing wood planks and is caked with dirt and dust.  There are curtains in every window and everyone is pulled shut.  I cannot see into the house.  I walk up the steps to the porch.  There is a creak with each step.  Old newspapers skirt along the boards with the minimal warm morning breeze, which will certainly mean a hot day. An unseen animal skitters thru the shadows and off the end of a plank into the bushes which surround the porch.  I am startled, but take a deep breath and gather myself.

Why should I be scared?  I’m 17, 6’2, 200lbs, solid body.  Mostly muscles, but have a tendency to get sloppy with my workouts and have slipped somewhat recently.  I’ve been living with my Gran for a number of years since my parents passed away.  She is the iron rod which has kept me on the straight and narrow. She’s in her 80’s, thin and scrawny, with bones which remind me of dry pasta, but she still packs a mean punch and a wicked tongue.

We’ve had many disagreements over those years, but my love and respect for her always made me see the knowledge in why she did things to me, and for me, during my life. 

Like today.  She came into my room around 8, woke me from a peaceful sleep and told me to head over to this house and knock on the door.  I am to do whatever the owner needs me to do. I started to protest, giving some lame excuse about meeting friends and going to the gym to workout.  Gran just looked into my eyes, and said, “Bullshit.” Then she knocked me upside my head.  I stare into her steely gray eyes, she stares right back into my clear blue eyes and she says, “Did I stutter or are you trying to see if I’ll hit you again.” She waves her hand over my body and says, “You may be big and strong and all that stuff, but you can be dumb as a pile of rocks sometimes Jason.”  She hovers over me and looks me dead in the eyes again and says softer, “Now, I’ll say it again, did I stutter?”

“No Gran.”  I say humbly, breaking my stare.

“Good.  Get your feet in gear.”

“Yes ma’am.”  Gran puts her right hand on the side of my face and gives it a gentle pat and leans down and kisses the side of my head. 

She then runs her fingers thru my crew cut blonde hair and says, “You need a haircut.  Get it done by the end of the week.” 

“Yes Gran.”

And here I stand, among the debris and garbage.  I straighten up, walk up to the door and push the doorbell.  Nothing.  Not surprised as I roll my eyes.  I knock on the door and the panes on the windows rattle like they are about to fall out.  I put my ear close to the door to see if I can hear anyone inside.  Nothing.  I wait a minute and listen again.  Still nothing.  I knock again and listen intently.  I hear footsteps.  They sound like they’re a mile away.  They’re shuffling along.  After about a minute, I hear someone undoing a chain lock. 

The door creaks open and there stands a boy about 13 years old, or so I guess.  He’s about 5’4, 110 lbs.  Shaggy blonde hair hanging down over his green eyes and ears.  Bare footed, wearing a ratty pair of gym shorts which seems to be a size too big for him.  His t-shirt is white, or would be if it were washed.  There are holes in the shirt and seems to be worn out. He stands there and stares at me, kind of like Gran does, but I think he’s checking me out.

“Hello.  My name Jason, but my friends call me Jay.”  The boy is still just looking at me.  “My Gran sent me over.”  The boy nods and backs up a step.  I step into the house and he shuts and re-chains the door.  It is cool inside, almost cold.  I do not hear an air condition or fan going, so I wonder how they got it so chilly. I glance around. Due to the curtains, there is not much light.  Furniture is sparse, but what I see of it, it is of good quality, just covered in clear plastic or dust, or both.  There are portraits on the walls, but I do not know the people, possibly the owners of the house and this kids relatives.  I look down at him and he is still staring at me. 

A shaky female voice rings out from a side room, “Who was at the door Xander?” 

Xander scampers off to the room and I hear him talking to the lady, but cannot make out what he is saying.  “Well, show him in, don’t be rude.” And I hear a cane strike him and he yelps.  He reappears and is rubbing his left arm.  He nods his head toward the room and I walk over.  There is not much light in this room either, but I see an elderly lady sitting is a dark brown Carrington court wingback chair.  She is wearing an older style floral print dress and has a navy-blue wool sweater on. She has thinning blue gray hair which is neatly pulled back. Her frail legs are propped up on a matching ottoman and she has slippers on her feet. There are matching end tables on either side of her, one has a tall glass of ice tea on a tile coaster, and the other has a pair of horn-rimmed glasses with a chain sitting on top of a thick hardback book.  There is a sofa across from her covered with a croqueted afghan which matches the sofa perfectly.  The two side walls have built-in bookcases and are filled top to bottom with hardback novels. There is a fireplace on the end wall, and it looks well used.  The wood for the bookcases and fireplace seems to be Mahogany or a Dark Cherry.

“Hello Ma’am, my name is Jason and my Gran sent me over.  She said I to do whatever you need me to do.”

She glances at me, a slight smile appears on the corners of her mouth as she says, “Mow the lawn, take out the dead trees, and pull the weeds, today.  There is a push mower and shovel in the tool shed.  Xander will show you.” 

“Yes ma’am.”  I turn to leave, but she clears her throat.  I turn back around. 

She eyes me up and down again and says, “Keep your shirt on.  I don’t want the neighbors gawking at you or your half naked body.  Lord knows what they’ll think of me.”

“Of course, ma’am.”

Xander leads me out of the room, down a short hallway, thru the kitchen which hasn’t been updated in a very long time, to a backdoor.  This one also has a chain lock.  He undoes the lock, tugs on the door which slowly creaks open, almost like it wants to stay shut.  We cross another covered porch, down another set of creaky wooden steps, toward the tool shed.  We walk thru more grass, which is nearly knee high on me.  I want to ask Xander when the last time anyone cut the grass was, but get a feeling he will not respond. 

We reach the shed and I see a rusty pad lock on the old wooden door.  It is locked.  I look down to Xander and ask, “Do you have the key?”  He shakes his head no.  In my mind, I roll my eyes.  “Is there one?”  I ask and he shrugs his shoulders, meaning he doesn’t know or want to tell me.  “I don’t have time to search for it.”  I size up the lock and determine I can pull it off.  “Kid, cover your eyes.”  He does and turns away.  I grasp the lock, flex my bicep, tense my body, and give it two quick tugs.  It comes off the door with a shower of splinters and a few small chunks of wood.  Xander turns back and his face brightens for a second and then falls back to neutral again.  I toss the lock to him.  I pull the doors open and enter.  It’s dark inside, but I pull on a drawstring light.  I search for the push mower, but do not see it.  I look down to Xander and he points to Craftsman manual push mower.  His expression doesn’t change, but I let out a grown. 

Gran must be having a good laugh at my expense right now.  Hot as balls out and I get to push mow a whole yard with a manual mower then weed the gardens as well, all while keeping my shirt on.  I’m going to sweat thru this thing in about 15 minutes. 

I turn to ask the kid if he will help me rake up the grass clippings, but see he has left and is walking back to the house.  The lock is on the ground next to the door.  I turn back around and make my mind up to get to it.  I maneuver the mower out, find a rake and trash barrel.  I search for the weeding tools and find a hoe, spade, and clippers.  I search for some gloves, but don’t see any.  No shock there.

I start to mow.  It’s hard work due to the grass being over grown, but I manage.  I’m about 20 minutes in and I’ve sweated thru my shirt, as I knew I would.  I keep mowing.  After an hour I take a break, grab the rake and barrel and collect the clippings.  Sweat is pouring off me, clippings are stuck to my whole body.  The sun is beating down and the humidity has gone up.  Good thing I put on a heavy coating of sunscreen or my pale white ass would be beet red by now. 

The trash can is full of clippings. I walk up to the backdoor of the house and knock on the door.  Xander answers after a few minutes.  “Do you have a couple large plastic bags for the grass clippings and weeds?  The trash can is getting full.”  He holds up a finger indicating I should hold on for a minute.  He disappears into the house and returns a few minutes later.  In one hand are the bags.  In the other, a large glass of ice water.  My face shows my appreciation.  I still say, ‘Thank you very much.”  He nods.

He backs into the house and shuts the door.  I walk to the end of the porch and sit on the top step to enjoy the glass of water.  There is a bit of shade where I’m at, and the water quenches my thirst.  I rub my forearm across my forehead to wipe away the sweat and grass and realize I’m just smearing it around.  I should have asked for a towel.  I flex and relax my biceps.  The heat of the day feels good on my body.  My arms and legs are warmed up.  I feel refreshed from the water.  I head back to the yard.

I start to rake up the clippings when I hear a voice call out to me. “Nice some help?”  I turn to see a black guy walking up the driveway.  He’s about my age and size. 

I respond, “Sure.” And reach my hand out to shake his.  “I’m Jay.”

“Ty.”  He says.  He’s got a firm grip.  Bicep bulges in the skin tight t-shirt.  Quads and calves are impressive.  He must be an athlete and hit the gym on some sort of regular basis.

“Haven’t seen you around?  Are you new to the area?”

“Yeah, moved in about a few weeks ago.  Figured today was just as good as any other to wander around.”  I nod noting his North Eastern accent. “You live in this big house?”  He asks looking around the yard and nodding at the house.

“Nah, just doing some yard work for the owner.”  This time he nods. “Any help would be appreciated, thanks.”

He grins and jokingly says, “I need a workout today.  Been slacking for a few days.” He grabs a rake and I go back to the push mower.  We start at it.  With Ty’s help, the work moves much quicker.  We get the rest of the yard mowed and raked in another hour.  There are 4 bags of clippings sitting next to the shed, in addition to the garbage can I had already filled.  We take another break and I head back to the porch to ask for more bags.  Ty is right beside me.  He’s just as sweaty as I am.  His t-shirt and shorts are stuck to his body too.  He’s got a nice set of abs on him to boot.  Whole package.  I’ll need to ask what sports he plays.

I knock on the door and turn to him and say, “This may be a while.  The last few times I knocked; it took a few minutes for someone to answer.”  Ty raises an eyebrow questioning me.  Sure enough, I wait a minute or two and knock again.  I hear Xander shuffling to the door.  I hear the chain coming off the lock and the door opens.  He stands in the doorway and looks up at me.  He sees Ty next to me and a bit behind me.  He looks him up and down and looks back to me with no change to his expression.  “May we have some more bags please, and possibly some water and a couple towels?”  Xander holds up a finger and backs into the house again.  He comes back a few minutes later and motions for me to come in. When Ty starts to follow, Xander holds his hand up indicating he needs to stay outside.  Ty raises his eyebrow again.

I follow Xander back into the house and back to the parlor where the old lady was.  We enter the room and Xander stops to allow me to approach her.  I guess he doesn’t want to get in her cane swinging range again. She’s still in her chair with a glass of iced tea next to her.  She puts down her book and lowers her glasses.  “I see you made a friend.” She says, obviously referring to Ty. 

“Yes ma’am.  He walked up the driveway a while ago and offered to help.  I hope it is ok?”  I think to myself, if it’s not, I’ll have some explaining to do to Gran when I get home early.

The old lady eyes me up again, as if she knows what I’m thinking.  She says, “I’m not entirely fond of nig – sorry, black folk, but will let him help you, today.  Let him know he needs to keep his shirt on too.” Xander must be watching for an upstairs window and have diarrhea of the mouth.  She looks back into her book.

“Yes ma’am, thank you.”  I stand there for another moment and she glances back up and stares into my eyes.  She lets the book fall into her lap, still in her hands.

“Is there something else?” she asks impatiently, a finger tapping the side of book.

Unsure of what her response may be based on her recent remarks about Ty, I simply ask, “May we have a couple towels and some more water please?  It is very hot and humid out.”

She continues to look into my eyes and flatly says, “Xander, put a pitcher of ice water on the back porch with some towels.”

“Thank you.”

She picks her book back up and starts to read.  The conversation is over. Xander leads me back to the backdoor where I find Ty, sitting on the porch step, cooling off, and waiting for me. 

I walk over to him and briefly relay the conversation, leaving out the derogatory remark.  He rolls his eyes.  Xander has disappeared again and comes back rather quickly with the water and towels.  This time he hangs out at the door for a few minutes, watching us towel off and drink the water.  He spends most of the time staring at Ty.  He seems to be ogling his chest and arms, which are pretty impressive, if I say so.  But then I see his eyes wander south a bit.  Not sure why he’d be checking out Ty’s junk?  It cannot be the first time he’s seen a black person, although, given the old ladies opinion of them, maybe it is. 

All the sudden we hear him speak.  It’s a soft tinny voice, with not much force behind it. He looks at Ty and innocently asks, “Are you hung like a horse?”  I nearly spit out my mouthful of water.  Ty just stares at the kid.  I’m wondering what he’s thinking and if I’m going to have to hold him back.  The kid is obviously naïve and probably doesn’t know any better.  He continues, “My grandmother says all black men have penises as big and thick as a horse.  I saw a horse once and wanted to compare.”  I’m peeing my pants and trying not to laugh.  I keep an eye on Ty as we’ve just met and I don’t know how he’ll react. I want to be ready to tackle him if he goes after Xander.

Ty stares at the kid for a moment, looks over to me.  I don’t budge and try not to look at him or I’ll bust out laughing.  He turns back to Xander and then walks over to him.  He squats down in front of him and softly says, “Xander, that really isn’t an appropriate first question to ask another guy, especially a black person. Have you ever seen a black man before Xander?”  He nods yes, but my guess is, not up close.

Xander stares at Ty and reaches out and touches his forearm.  He asks Ty another question.  “Are you strong as an ox?”  I let a giggle out.  Ty’s shoulders raise and lower with a deep sigh.  Xander continues, “Nana says black men are strong too.  I watched Jay tear the lock off the shed door, and figure if he can do that, you must be stronger than he is.”  Ty looks back over his shoulder at me and I just shrug.  He turns back to the kid and asks, “How strong do think I am?”

“I dunno.” And I believe him.  I’m interested in seeing what Ty can do.

“How about this.” And Ty stands up, bends over and picks Xander up by his waist and lifts him over his head. His eyes go wide and he opens his mouth, but nothing comes out.  Ty lifts him up and down a few times, his biceps barely registering the kids’ weight.  He then spins him around and Xander’s hair goes flying off his face.  As Ty slows down, Xander’s hair falls back around his face.  He’s wearing a big smile now.

He walks over to me and hands him off to me.  Xander’s back is to me and he is facing outward.  Ty takes a few steps back and tosses up a pretty striking double bi.  I’m impressed and let out a low whistle.  Ty walks back towards us and turns so his right arm is within Xander’s reach.  “You want to feel it?”  Xander slowly nods yes.  Ty relaxes and then retightens his arm and the muscle seems a bit bigger, stretching the fabric of his t-shirt to the limit.  He gently says, “Go for it buddy.”  Xander reaches his small hand out and tentatively touches the muscle.  Ty bounces the muscle, and Xander gasps.  His little hand gets bolder and he starts to feel more the muscle.   He reaches out his other hand and Ty repositions himself so Xander can feel up his bicep with both hands. 

This goes on for a few minutes and mind you, I’ve been holding up this 110lb kid by the waist the whole time.  But he is enthralled by Ty and his muscles. 

After a few minutes of flexing, Ty ends the show with a nice most muscular.  I put Xander back on the ground and he says, “Thank you.” He then disappears through the backdoor.  We hear him put the chain back on the door.

I look at Ty and say, “I guess he’s satisfied.”  Ty laughs.  “We better get back to it.  With this humidity building, a pop up thunder storm could roll thru at any point.”  Ty nods.  I add, “Nice arms, work out much?” He just laughs at me.

With the grass mowed and bagged, we turn our attention to the weeds.  There are plenty of areas to choose where to start.   We walk around to the front of the house and I pick one of the flower beds next to the porch.  Ty takes one on the other side of the walk.  We start a conversation.

I begin, “Looks like you know your way around a gym. I belong to the gym right off Route 1.  Have you joined one yet?  I can bring you in as a guest if you’d like to check it out.  It’s got a nice variety of free weights and a bunch of machines including 3 flat benches, a decline and incline press bench and 3 squat racks.”

“Sounds nice. Yeah, I’d like to check it out.  I haven’t had time with moving and all.  My parents have me doing so much around the house, moving furniture, painting rooms, and just general maintenance to the house.  I need to get out and get back into a gym routine.  You also look like you know your way thru the weights section.”  I laugh.  He continues, “Play any sports?   Guessing the school has a football and wrestling team?”

“Yeah, I actually play on both those teams.  I’m left offensive tackle.  Gotta keep the QB’s blindside safe.”  We both grin at that.  “I wrestled in the 182lb class last year, but now weigh 200.  I’m trying to decide if I want to slim back down or move up a class.  I’d need to drop 10 pounds to make 182 and I’m not sure I want to lose the muscle and strength I’ve gained.  What class did you wrestle in?”

“Last year I was 182 too, but I’ve only put on 6lbs since the season ended, so it looks like I may be in the 195 class.   I may need to slim down.  I don’t think I could take you on my best day.”  He waves his hand up and down my body.  I blush.  “Don’t be embarrassed.  It’s a compliment.  Dude, you look like a stud and I’m sure most guys are afraid when they see you walk onto the mat.”  I shrug my shoulders.  He’s right.  I went unbeaten last year until the semi-finals at states.  Lost in a slug fest.  Ty continues, “For football, you might be protecting my blind side this season.  I’m going to try out for QB.  I was QB the last 2 seasons at my prior school.”  I nod in acknowledgement.

“With that arm, I’m sure you can unleash a rocket if you need to.”  He grins widely.

We continue working our way around the different flower beds in the yard.  The work is hard, but having someone to talk to makes it easier.  We take breaks every hour or so and notice Xander leaves out a pitcher of ice water and fresh towels for us every time.  I jokingly mention to Ty, “I think you’ve made two friends today.”  He laughs in response.  I check my watch and see it’s about 2:30. 

We’ve completed weeding the beds around the house.  We start to hit ones out by the property line.  I look to the sky and see some clouds have drifted in.  I look over to Ty and say, “Keep an eye out.  One of those could turn into a thunderhead at some point.”  He glances up and nods. 

We keep at it.  My shirt has been stuck to my body since about 10am.  It feels like a second skin.  The short sleeves have cinched up to my arm pits and my biceps are on display.  I flex them once in a while for shits and grins.  They’re about 17 inches right now, but I hope to grow them over the summer so when football starts, I have a head start in the weight room.  I glance over to Ty who is working the next bed over.  There is a dead tree in it.  He’s trying to pull it out, but it’s being stubborn. 

I walk over and say, “Need help getting it out?”

“Yeah, that’d be great.” He grunts tugging on the trunk. “Let’s dig around the trunk a bit more and then we can try rocking it back and forth to wiggle it out.”  I nod and we begin.  We get the dirt and rocks cleared away and start to rock the trunk back and forth.  It’s moving, but not coming up.  Ty says, “You keep pulling, I’ll jam my shovel under the truck and try to cut the tap root.”

“Ok.”  I squat down in the trench next to the tree and wrap my hands around the trunk.  I brace my legs and my quad muscles come into relief.  I notice Ty glances over and sees my legs. He quickly looks away and goes back to shoving the shovel under the tree a few times.  I continue rocking the tree and can feel it getting looser.  “Keep going. It’s almost free.”  I keep my legs braced, squat down a bit more, and get a new grip lower on the ball of dirt around the tree.  Any dead leaves which had remained on the tree are now on the ground around us, or stuck to our sweaty t-shirts.  I am covered in dirt, as is Ty.  I am vigorously rocking the tree and can feel it coming loose.  I take a deep breath, strain my body and give one mighty pull as Ty hits the taproot one last time and breaks it.  I start to stumble backwards, but steady myself.

With the taproot broken, we go back to removing dirt and rocks from under the mound.  Once the mound seems small enough, I get back into the trench and squat down again to lift it out.  Ty speaks up, “Need help with that.  Two people may be better.”

“Nah, I’m a stud, remember?”  We both laugh.  “Can you get the wheelbarrow from the shed? I can lift it out, but probably can’t carry it all the way to the shed.”  He goes to the shed and returns a minute later with the wheelbarrow. 

“We better speed this up Jay.  Those clouds are getting darker.”  I look skyward and see what he means.  I also feel the breeze picking up.

“Ok. I’ll lift the ball out of the hole and put it there.” I point to a spot right next to the hole.  “Once it’s out, we can tilt the barrow over and slide it in.”  I get down again and hug the ball of dirt and roots to my chest.  I take a few deep breaths, inhaling dust and dirt.  I close my eyes, concentrate on the weight, and slowly lift using my legs. Roots grate against my quads, dirt crumbles off and rolls down my legs, and the trunk slides across my right cheek.  I guess the weight of the tree and ball to be around 200lbs.  Not too bad.  I think I could carry it to the shed, but why chance an injury.  I easily lift it out of the hole and Ty has the barrow ready for me.  I slide it in and then grasp the sides.  We steady the barrow and then turn it upright.  As we finish, I feel the first drops of rain hit me. 

Ty hefts up the wheelbarrow and starts for the shed.  I walk around and collect the tools and bags of weeds.  By the time I get back to the shed, it’s a downpour.  I’m already soaked with sweat, so the warm rain feels pretty good.  I decide to stand in the rain and let it wash off some of the dirt and grass clippings. Ty takes a hint and does the same.  I am tempted to take my shirt off, but don’t because the old lady may be watching and I don’t want her to get upset with me.  As I’m running my hands thru my crew cut blonde hair, Ty nudges me and glances over to the porch.  Xander is sitting in a chair just watching us. 

I move back into the shed.  Ty follows.  In a low voice he says, “Is it me or is Xander just a bit off.”

“Oh, it’s definitely you.”  I say sarcastically.  Ty glowers at me.  “Nah, I think he’s led a sheltered life and probably doesn’t have too many friends.  You may be the first black guy he’s talked to or touched.”  Ty raises an eyebrow.  “Think about it.  The questions he asked are not normal for any kid with a computer these days.  The old lady probably doesn’t see a need for one.  Her parlor is loaded with books. She probably thinks that’s all Xander needs to be educated.  As for you being the first black kid he’s talked to, I’ve never seen Xander at school or on the bus.  This is, unfortunately, a mostly white neighborhood, so…”  I shrug my shoulders and Ty nods in understanding.  “She probably home schools him, or at least has someone come in to teach him.”

We unexpectedly hear, “Jay! Ty!”  We both look out the shed door and see Xander standing on the porch steps with bath towels in hands, shaking them at us. 

I glance at Ty.  We both nod and sprint thru the downpour to the porch.  We leap up onto the porch and out of the rain.  Xander approaches and hands each of us a towel.  We both start to dry our heads off.  Xander says, “Nana said it would be ok to take our shirts off to dry off since no one can see you back here.”  Ty raises an eyebrow, but I’ve already slipped my sneakers and socks off.  I’m shedding my shirt and stepping back into the rain to get more of the dirt, grass, and sweat off me.  Ty seems tentative, and I can understand why. 

I taunt him with, “Dude, the rain feels good.”  He turns away from Xander, slips off his shoes, socks, and t-shirt.  He steps into the rain next to me. God damn is he built.  The t-shirt, even when it was soaking wet and clinging to his body, didn’t do him justice.  His nipples are prominent and his abs are cut and are a clear 6 pack.  Biceps have to be close to 17 or 18 inches.  My jaw drops and I say, “Damn dude, I need to step up my workouts to stay ahead of you.”

Ty looks over at me, glances up and down, and says, “You’ve got nothing to worry about stud.  You got me beat.”  I notice a bulge in his shorts.

My brain suddenly shifts sideways.  Ty’s gay.  Should’ve picked up on it earlier when he was flexing for Xander, but missed it.  I open my mouth, but shut it.  I continue to look at Ty with the rain pouring down on us.  He looks at me and sees me staring.

“What? Oh.” He realizes why I’m staring. “Yeah, I’m gay. Surprised it took you this long to figure it out.”  I just stand there.  “Hope this doesn’t change anything.” 

I immediately, almost too quickly say, “No. Of course it doesn’t.”  He continues to look at me as if I’m lying to him. The rain continues to pour down on us.  I hear a rumble of thunder in the distance.

“Well, you can stop staring at me.  I may be the first black guy he’s seen.” He nods toward Xander, “but I cannot be the first gay guy you’ve seen…”

We move back onto the porch and start to dry off.  Xander is there listening to everything.  His Nana will be getting an earful at some point soon and I’m sure she’s going to have opinions about it.

I respond sheepishly, “No, you’re not.  I’m sorry for staring.  It just kind of took me by surprise.” I pause and honestly say, “No, it did take me by surprise.”  Ty arches an eyebrow.  I explain, “I can usually get a pretty good read on people and all through our talks today, it never occurred to me you were gay.  When you were flexing for Xander, I figured you liked showing off.”

“I do like showing off.” He says waving his hands up and down his impressive torso.  “It took a lot effort to get this body, why not show off.  Also, yeah, I hide it well.  Or, I try to until I see a smoking hot guy.”  He looks me up and down like he’s eyeing up a bowl of ice cream and licks his lips.  He then cracks a wicked smile and starts to laugh.  I get it.   Now he’s just messing with me.  I start to laugh as well. 

We finish toweling off and wring out our t-shirts. We slip the t-shirts back on, even though they are still wet, at least they’re not laden with water.

“How are your parents with it?”

“It was difficult at first.  I came out to them about a year ago and my mom was actually more upset than my dad was.  She gave me the whole “God this and God that” speech.” I nod in understanding. “After a while everything calmed down and we settled back into our same old routine.  They’d yell at me for being lazy and I try my best to keep up appearances.”  That generates a raucous laugh from me.

“I knew I liked you for some reason.  I foresee us having a great time at football and wrestling.” Ty looks at me and casts his eyes downward.  I get it and say, “Dude, not telling a soul.  It’s your thing and I will respect your wishes.  I’ve got your back and if anyone gives you grief, you let me know and I’ll set them straight.  Sorry for the pun.”  He looks back up and grins.

“Thanks Jay, appreciate that.”  He walks over and we ‘bro-hug’.

I look around and see Xander has disappeared.  The backdoor is still open, so he may have gone inside.

I check around the corner of the porch, but do not see him.  As I turn back around, he emerges from the kitchen door.  He has platter of cookies and some more water for us.  Since I did not have lunch, the cookies are like manna from heaven.  I grab a handful and sit down and start to chow my way thru them.

Ty looks over at me with his handful and says, “Last meal buddy?”  I have crumbs on my face, shirt, and shorts. I laugh, stand up, and shake them off.

Xander walks up to us and says, “Nana says you can go for the day.  The rain will be continuing for a while. Come back tomorrow at 10.” He looks at Ty and says, “Nana says it’s ok if you come back too.”  He holds out an envelope to me. I take it and Xander walks back into the house and we hear the chain being put back on the door. 

I look over to Ty and says, “I guess our work here is done for today.”  He laughs.  I open the envelope and there is $10 in it.  I show Ty the bill and we both roll over laughing.

We wait a bit longer on the porch for the rain to let up, but want to leave as soon as we can.  After about 10 minutes, it abates and we walk down the driveway.  At the bottom, I turn to Ty and say, “Thanks again for your help.  It means a lot to me.”  I hold the envelope out to him. “Take it.”  He has a shocked look on his face. “My Gran told me to come here and do what the old lady wanted.  You didn’t need to help me. I wasn’t expecting to get paid.  You take the money and have some fun with it.”

“You sure?  You worked just as hard as I did and deserve at least half.”  I nod no and wave my hand at him.  “OK, thanks.  I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”  He comes in and we ‘bro-hug” one more time.

I turn and walk home in the rain, which has picked up again.  I don’t mind. 

I get home, grab a towel from the mudroom, and walk into the kitchen where Gran is getting dinner ready.  “How was your day Jason?” 

I sit at the table and she sits next to me, facing me, “It went well Gran.  We got a lot of work done.”


“Yeah, I made a new friend, Ty.”  I briefly recount the day to her as she listens with rapt attention. 

She puts her hand on my face, rubs it up and down and says, “See.  And you wanted to be lazy today.” She stands up, kisses my forehead and says, “Go get cleaned up.  Dinner will be ready soon.  Maybe you can invite Ty over one night.  I’d like to meet him.”

“Yes, Gran.”  I walk out of the kitchen towards the steps to go upstairs, thinking of the interrogation Ty is in for if he visits.  I chuckle to myself.

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Part 3 - Fresh Start part 2


Jay and I became friends the summer between our Junior and Senior years.  We met the day I saw him mowing Miss Mattie’s lawn. I walked up and offered to help.  From that day on we were nearly inseparable. 

We went back the next day and finished weeding the gardens and pulling out the dead trees.  Trust me when I say, Jay may be a beast now, but even in high school he was the strongest kid.  He’d lift dead trees out of the ground, after we’d dug a moat and loosened them, but he enjoyed flexing his muscles and lifting really heavy objects. He said it was his off-season lifting routine.  

Xander, Miss Mattie’s grandson started to hang around.  He’d sit on the porch and watch us lifting the trees or rolling the wheelbarrow which was loaded with debris and rocks.  He wouldn’t say anything, but always seemed to keep an eye out for when we were flexing.  I’d catch him staring at me a few times, but he would quickly look away.  

After we finished the yard work, she had us clean up the porch.  That was another mess entirely.  The porch was in such disrepair, it would have been better to rip it off and start fresh, but she told Jay that was not option.  She said she’d pay for any materials we needed to fix it.  Jay and I went to the local lumber yard with a couple planks he yanked up.  The guy there took one look at them, laughed at us, and then saw we weren’t kidding and scratched his head.  He did some digging and found a close match.  I had figured out how much was needed and he ordered it.  He said it’d take about a week to arrive.

We let Miss Mattie know and she said she didn’t need us for anything else until the wood arrived.  We both breathed a sigh of relief.

I took Jay up on his offer to try out his gym.  He said ok, but it came with a price, I’d have to meet his Gran.  I said fine, what harm could there be in that.  Oh boy, was I in for a shock.

I’d found out Jay only lived a few blocks over from me. We were walking to the gym as it was only a mile or so from where we lived.  On the way he said, “Trust me Ty, the FBI has nothing on her.  If she wants to know something, she’ll get it out of you.  In some cases, she’ll wheedle it out.  In others, you’ll just give up and spill the beans.”  We both laughed.

We arrived at the gym, Jay signs in and gets me a guest pass.  We stow our stuff in the locker room.  I check it out.  There’s an indoor pool, a sauna, a whirlpool, and a lap pool.    We head upstairs to the weight room.  The room is quite large.  It is broken into different areas.  One has all cardio stuff. Another has the free weights and benches. The third area is where the squat racks, flat benches, and plates are kept.  It’s a nice set up.  There is also an area for warming up which is covered with AstroTurf.  There are some pads for stretching and balls for stability exercises. 

We skip past all of that and head right to the area with machines and plates.  Jay says today is his chest day.  I say fine and say we should align our routines so we work out together.  He agrees.

We do some warm up stretches and find an open flat bench.  He loads a 45lb weight on each side and glances at me to make sure I’m cool with it.  I nod yeah. 

I slide onto the bench first and get the party started.  I take a nice shoulder width grip and un-rack the bar.  It’s been a few weeks since I’ve worked chest, so I take the warm up reps nice and slow, making sure my form is still correct.  It is, so I whip out 10 reps. 

I look up and Jay is standing behind the bench, spotting me, but it looking around the gym. “Ahem.  You realize I could have dropped the bar and seriously hurt myself.  That’d leave you with no star QB to protect.” 

He looks down and calmly says, “If you couldn’t pump out 10 reps of 135, maybe I should be looking for a new QB.”  He raises an eyebrow and then breaks into a wide grin.  “Dude, I had you.  Your form looked good and the pace was nice.”  I grin back and slide off the bench.

Jay gets on and positions his hands a bit wider than mine.  He’s working his outer chest.  He smoothly lifts the bar off the rack and quickly and efficiently pumps out 15 reps.  I sarcastically say, “Watch out, big man in the gym.”  He laughs back at me.

He slides off, grab a couple 10 pounders and looks at me.  I nod yeah.  Don’t want to overdo it, but want to get a good workout going.  I’ll slowly increase the weight.  If Jay outpaces me, that’s fine.  We add the weight and I slide back onto the bench.  Jay once again gets behind me and casually watches me as I lift the bar off.  I get thru 8 reps and see he’s still not paying attention.  On the 9th rep, I drop the bar to my chest and begin to push it up.  I pretend to falter and cock my left elbow out a bit.  The weight becomes unbalanced and shifts on me.  It starts to collapse back onto my chest.  Before I know it, Jay’s reached down, grasped the bar and curled it up, out of my hands.  He reracks and stares down into my eyes.  He mockingly says, “If you’re going to fake dropping the bar to get my attention, do it with some real weight on it.  155 is pretty lame, even for you Ty.” 

“Dude, had to make sure I had you’re paying attention.”

“Just because I’m not watching you 100% of the time, doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention.”

“Point taken.”

“Now can we move on to some real weight?”  I nod and he pulls the 10’s off and grabs a pair of 35’s. “Try not to drop this weight while putting it on the bar.”  I roll my eyes at him.  He says, “Gotta make sure you can handle the big boy weights.” 

I come back at him and say, “Comedian in the house everyone.”  The guys on the bench to our right look over to us, size us up, and turn away.  I look over to Jay and he just shakes his head, meaning don’t worry about them.

He slides onto the bench and casually takes the bar into his hands.  He lifts if off and pumps out another 15 reps.  I’m thinking to myself; I need to move up from 10 reps to 15 reps if I’m going to get stronger and bigger. 

He slides off and I get on.  He looks down and says, “Take your time.  I’m only joking with you about pushing more weight.  Go at your pace, not mine.”

“Ok.” I lift the weight off.  It’s definitely heavier.  I start the set.  I get thru 9 reps pretty easily.  Jay’s watching me the whole time.  I can see his blue eyes looking intently into mine, making sure I’m not going to falter.  I start to slow on the 10th and 11th.  By the 12th rep, I’m maxing out.  I can hear Jay calmly giving me encouragement.  I get the 12th up and want to do at least one more.  My chest is heaving.  I can feel the blood rushing thru it.  I’m taking big gulps of air.  I slowly lower the bar.  It taps my chest and I exhale and push it up.  It moves ever so slowly. My feet are dancing on the floor.  My back is arched, but hopefully not too much.  I know I don’t want to pause because gravity will take over and that’ll be it.  I keep pushing and am breathing heavily, literally spitting the air out of my lungs through my nose and mouth.  Jay has his hands within inches of the bar so he can grab it if I really do falter.  That thought clicks in my brain and I find a reserve of energy and push the bar up the last few inches.  Once my arms are straightened, I move the bar back and Jay grabs it and reracks it for me. 

He reaches down and pats my shoulder and says, “Nice job.  Knew you had it in you.”

“Thanks.”  I lay for another moment to let my body relax.  In the meantime, Jay pulls the 35’s and puts another 45 and 10 on each side.  I sit up, see the new weight and say, “It’s all you buddy.” 

Jay smiles, moves to the bench as I get up and move behind it.  “I should be good, but just make sure my form is good.  I’ve can get sloppy with the heavier weights.”  I nod ok and he slides under the bar.  He takes a minute to properly position his hands, still going with a wide grip. 

He closes his eyes, takes a few deep breaths, arches his back, pounds his feet into the mat, opens his eyes, and exhales as he lifts the bar off the rack.  He holds it up for a second to complete his exhale.  As the bar descends, he inhales.  His chest expands.  His nipples show thru his now skin tight t-shirt.  Damn, they’re big and prominent.  The bar touches his chest and he let it sit for a second.  He begins to push it up.  He’s exhaling.  I can feel his warm breath on my shirt and face as I look down at him.  His form is perfect.  I can see the space between his pecs thru his shirt too. 

My unit twitches.  Damnit.  Not here, not now.  Not with Jay, who I know is straight.  I causally move my legs to adjust my junk. 

Jay continues his set.  He’s on the 3rd rep.  Form is still perfect.  He’s slowed, but only a bit.  He’s powering thru. I focus on the bar, not his body.  He’s staring at the ceiling and I can see his clear blue eyes under the bar.  They see me, but do not register my presence.  He’s in his own world. 

He’s on the 6th rep.  I lean back and take a breath.  He’s still going steady and strong.  Form is good.  I glance back at his chest and arms.  Damn.  His chest wants to tear the thru the shirt.  He’s starting to sweat.  There are beads of moisture on his forehead and upper chest.  His arms are getting pumped.  The amount of blood travelling thru them to keep them oxygenated must be huge.  My junk twinges again.  This time it has a mind of its own.  I start to tent.  Fuck.  I place one leg on a support brace on the bottom of the bench and, as casually as I can, lower my right hand and adjust myself by pushing my unit down.

He’s on his 9th rep.  No slowing.  I continue to watch the bar and glance to the right to the guys.  They’ve stopped their set and are watching Jay.  They’re about our age.  I’m guessing they know Jay.  Their bar has less weight on it.  I glance back to Jay and he’s on rep 13.  I look down and he smiles up at me and casually says.  “Two more Ty, then it’s your turn.”   My mouth falls open.  I’m dumbfounded he is able to calmly speak to me while pressing 245.  I was barely able to breathe with 205 and here he is.  I know he’s not showing off, he’s just stronger than I am.

He finishes, racks the bar, and slides out from under the bar.  He sits up on the bench, twists his neck around and I can hear it cracking.  He puts his arms over his head, intertwine his fingers, inverts his hands, and pushes upwards stretching his triceps.  He stands, keeping the stretch.  His shirt has pulled up and his abs are visible.  Obviously, I’ve seen them before, when we were doing the yard work, but something about them today, turns me on.  I look towards a different part of the gym so I don’t pop another tent. 

I hear the guys at the bench next to us say to Jay, “Nice work Jay.  Getting some training in before football practice starts?”

“Yeah, something like that.  I need to make sure I can keep the opposing team away from our new QB.”  Jay nods in my direction.  I nod back at the two guys.

Jay introduces me to them, “Ty, this is Peter and Scott, otherwise known as Otter, don’t ask.” 

Otter rolls his eyes. “Really dude, I’ve JUST MET Ty and you’re already dissing my nickname to him.” 

“Hey, he needs to know everything about his Tight end and Center if he’s going to be effective.”

Otter is a hulk of a kid. He looks to be around 5’ 10”.  He must weight close to 200 lbs. and looks solid.  Not all muscle, but his legs seem like once they’re dug in, nobody is moving him or past him.  Peter is a few inches taller, but looks to weight 185ish.  His legs also look solid, but his chest and shoulders are piled with muscles. 

“Yeah, well…I’m sure he’ll hear the story at some point, probably from blabbermouth here.” Otter nods to Peter, who grins an evil grin and nods yes. 

“Ok ladies, back to it.  These weights aren’t going to lift themselves and we have only 4 weeks before late summer workouts begin at school.  I need you in top shape for the coach.” 

Peter and Otter wander off to a squat rack and start their sets.  Jay comes over to me and says, “Otter’s a nice guy, hangs around Peter too much, but eh, what are you going to do.  Just watch out for Peter.  As Otter said, he does have a big mouth and spreading secrets is something he likes to do.”

“Noted.”  And I think to myself, ‘control your dick.’

We get back to it and walk to a pair of adjustable benches.  They’re sitting in front of a couple racks of dumbbells. Jay grabs a pair of 35’s and I grab some 25’s.  We set the benches at a 45-degree angle and start with incline presses.  15 reps.  After we finish, he gets up and grabs a pair of 25’s and does incline flies for 15 reps.  I instead opt to do some pushups and get on the mat and do 10.  I then grab a 25 lb. plate and ask Jay to put it on my back, in the center.  I then do another ten reps.

“Oh, big man trying to one up me.”  He says mockingly.

I respond, “Eh, just something a little different.” He nods in approval.

I grab another pair of 35’s and begin my next set of presses.  Jay moves up to 50’s and pushes out 20 reps, grunting on the last 3. 

I get down to do my next set of pushups and Jay is right next to me, but with a 45 lb. plate. I glance at him, he winks, and I just sigh.  I do my whole set with the 25 lb. weight.  He does his whole set as well.  He finishes, stands up and says, “I like it.  I going to have to incorporate it into my workout.”

We finish our third set of both presses and pushups.  We head back to the flat bench and Jay puts 35 lbs. weight on each side.  I look at him and jokingly say, “Kind of light, even for me, wouldn’t you say?”

“In most cases, yes” He says smiling, but continues, “But for this set, the object is lower the bar to a 5 count and raise it to a 5 count as well.”  I look at him puzzled.  “Let me show you.”  He slips onto the bench, grabs the bar, and lifts it off.  As he starts to lower it, he counts out ‘1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, 3 one thousand, 4 one thousand, 5 one thousand’.  The bar is now resting on his chest.  He begins to lift it at the same pace, and when he reaches 5 one thousand, his arms are fully extended.  He looks up at me and says, “Do this for 5 sets of 5 reps.  First time out, you’ll really feel it by the fourth set.”  He does another 4 reps and I see a sweat start to break out on his forehead.

He gets up.  I get onto the bench and start my set thinking ‘this is going to be easy’.  By the 3rd rep I’m beginning to sweat.  ‘Ok, maybe he was right’.  I finish my first set and my chest and arms are shaking.

Jay just says, “See.”  He walks to the bench next to me and puts a 45 and a 10 on each side.  He slides onto the bench and begins his second set.  His chest starts to explode.  He is sweating and his t-shirt is getting wet.  His nipples are pushing thru and are rock hard.  I feel my unit start to respond.  I turn away and lay back down on my bench.  I take a few deep breaths and my erection fades.  I lift the bar and start my set.  I barely get thru the 4 reps, struggling to finish as my arms are shaking violently.  I rack the weight and pause for a minute to let my body recover.  When I feel better, I complete the 5th rep.  I rack and sit back up.  Jay is already on his 3rd set and is moving smoothly.  He’s on a completely different level.  Now his arms and chest are really pumped and full of blood.  One look and I start to bulge.  I look away, but right into Peter’s eyes.  He sees my erection, looks at Jay and grins his evil grin again.

‘Fuck.’ I’m caught, I think to myself. 

He saunters over to me with a knowing smile on his face, “Nice woody Ty.  Thinking of anyone in particular?  Maybe a cute blonde with muscles.”

“Fuck you Peter.”  Is the best I can do.

“No Ty, that would seem to be what you want to do to Jay.”  I stand up and get in his face.  Jay hears the commotion, cuts his set short, stands up, and comes over to us.

“What’s going on?” He says in an exasperated voice, “Peter, what you are you gossiping about now?”

“Nothing.” He says nonchalantly. “Just that Ty here, is getting a woody watching you work out.  I’m thinking he has other plans for you when he’s QB’ing.  Maybe give you a secret handoff?” 

Jay’s face gets red, but he doesn’t say a word.  He just grabs Peter’s arm, twists it around his back and starts walking to the stairs. Peter yelps in pain, but has no choice.  I follow and I see Otter start to follow too.

We descend the stairs and get to the locker room.  Jay makes sure no one else is in it.  He pushes Peter back into a locker with a bit of force, crowds his space, and demands, “Spit it out Peter.  What do you want say about Ty?”  Peter just looks at him and keeps his mouth shut.  Jay balls his left hand into a fist and brings it up to Peter’s face.  He doesn’t flinch. “Really, I could do some damage to your pretty face if I wanted to.”

“Yeah, but then where would you be? You’d be off the football and wrestling teams for sure.”  Peter is just riling Jay up.  “Well, maybe that’s what you really want, to be able to spend more time with Ty here, you know, ‘lifting weights.”  He air-quotes the last part.  Jay’s fist comes flying out of nowhere and slams into the locker next to Peter’s head.  It clangs open and shut and open again.  Peter is visible shaken.  There is a dent in the locker door.  Otter and I gasp.

Jay’s fury comes thru his voice although he is remarkable calm, “I’ll ask you one more time Peter, what do you want to say about Ty?”  He balls up his other fist and raises it to Peter’s face.  Peter glances down, sees it, but is unphased. He looks at Jay, then looks down at his t-shirt and pulls a fuzzy off.

Jay backs off a bit, giving Peter some space, who relaxes a bit and exhales.  Jay then quickly moves back in, puts his hands under Peter’s armpits and simply lifts him off the ground by about 6 inches.  He’s holding him up like he’s holding a child.  The sheer power in the move causes me and Otter to back up a step.  Peter’s face goes pale.

Jay says fiercely, “Now that I actually have your attention,” He softly asks the next part, “What did you want to say about Ty?”  He bangs Peter into the lockers a few times.

Peter is shaken and stunned by Jay’s power.  He blurts out, “Ty’s gay.”

“And how did you come to this realization?”  Jay asks while banging Peter into the locker a few more times.

“He was getting a hard-on watching you lift weights.” His eyes shift from Jay to me.  He looks to Otter for support, but Otter looks at me.

“And that makes him gay?” Peter makes an attempt to shrug his shoulders. Jay continues, “If that were the case, half the guys at the gym would be gay, including some other people in this room right now.”  Jay removes his hands from Peter’s arm pits and he drops to the ground.  Jay is still staring at him.

Peter says in a relaxed voice, “I’m not too sure how many other teammates want a gay quarterback on the team, especially our center.”  He nods towards Otter.

I speak up, “Peter just so you know, I had a conversation with Coach Roberts yesterday.”  Jay turns to look at me with a quizzical look on his face.  I say, “I was going to tell you later today, but now seems a more appropriate time.”  He nods and I look back to Peter, “I explained I was gay and hoped it would not impact his decision to make me quarterback.  He asked me why should it.  I said there are some people who are still not comfortable with gay athletes.  He indicated that’s not an issue with our team.”  I raise an eyebrow at him.  “Is it an issue with you?”

He just looks at me with a smart look on his face.

Jay turns to Otter and gruffly asks, “You got a problem with Ty being gay?”  

Otter quickly says, “No.”  Maybe a bit too fast, but I realize why. “Him being gay is not issue.  I got an issue if he can’t pass the ball or maneuver in the pocket.”

Peter chuckles and says, “Maneuver in who’s pocket, Otter?”

Jay’s right fist comes flying out of nowhere and hits the locker to the right of Peter’s face, denting it as well.  It bangs open like the other one, but hits the side of his head.  He angerly says, “Ouch! Fuck.  What the fuck is wrong with you, jackass?”

“Nothing buddy, why do you have an issue Ty being gay?”  Peter just stands there, partially terrified, partially petrified.  Jay crowds into Peter’s space again, puts his hands on either side of his head and quietly says into his face, “Here’s how this ends today, you listening?”  He raises an eyebrow and Peter nods yes.  “Good man.”  He pats him on the side of his face, a bit roughly. He continues, “You will not say one word about Ty being gay, to anyone, even your family, cuz I know you’ll have big mouths.” Peter’s mouth comes open, but Jay cut’s him off, “If I hear anyone outside of this room make even the slightest joke about Ty’s sexual preferences, you will become part of the locker you’re standing against.”  He moves even closer and they are now nose to nose. “Am I clear?” he whispers.  Peter is frozen. Jay screams at the top of his lungs, “Am I clear?”  Spit comes out and some lands on Peter’s face and shirt.

“Yes.” Peter whispers.

Jay immediately backs up, straightens Peter’s t-shirt and casually says, “Good to hear.”  He pats the side of his face again, but much more gently. “You can go now.  I expect to see you here tomorrow.  It’s shoulder day for you two, if I remember correctly.” He looks over to Otter who nods yes.

Peter moves to a side, composing himself, and walks to the exit.  He turns around, looks at Otter and asks, “You coming?”  Otter looks at Jay, who just shrugs his shoulders.  Otter slowly moves toward the exit and follows Peter out. 

I watch them leave.  When I turn around, Jay is sitting on a bench, head in his hands, breathing heavily. I walk over and put a hand on his shoulder and give it a gentle squeeze.  He looks up.  His face is red.  I say, “You didn’t have to do that.”

“Yes, I did.  If I hadn’t, your secret would be all over school by days end.”

I’m at a loss for words. I humbly say, “Thank you.”  I stand there in silence.  “What if he goes to coach and tells him what you did?”

“Yeah, that may an issue, but I’ll call coach tonight and have a talk.”  He stands up and heads to the urinals.  A few minutes later I hear water running and then a paper towel being ripped off for him to dry his hands.  He comes back into to the area and says, “Let’s get out of here.”  I nod.  We grab our bags and head out.

We walk to the front desk and Jay asks if Carlos is around.  The attendant says yes and calls into the back for him.  Carlos walks out front, sees Jay and his eyes light up.  “Hey Jay, what’s up buddy?”  He walks up to him and they do a bro-hug.  “Haven’t seen you in a few days and figured Gran had you sequestered for doing something silly again.” 

Jay grins and sadly says, “After what just happened in the locker room, she may.”

“Uh-oh, what happened?”  He notices me, reaches a hand out and says, “Hi, I’m Carlos.”

I nod and reply, “Ty, nice to meet you.”  He nods back.

“Let’s go back to my office.”  He leads us back to a small cubical and pulls up two chairs.  We sit.  “What happened?”

Jay quickly explains and when he gets to the part of me being gay, turns to me.  I nod ok, and he continues.  Once he’s done, Carlos settles back into his chair, runs his hands through his dark black hair, sighs, and looks at Jay, then at me.  He slowly says, “Jay, I’ve known you how long, 6, 7 years?” Jay nods. “I remember the first time Gran brought you in here.” He looks to me and says, “Jay was a little fireball, all attitude and swagger.  Him against the world and woe-be-tide anyone who got in his way.  He thought his fists would solve all his problems, but they seemed to just cause more.” He looks into Jay’s eyes, “Am I right?” Jay sheepishly nods yes.  “While, I don’t condone Peter’s actions and I’ll be having a talk with his parents,” My eyes go wide and Carlos sees it, “Without divulging your secret.” I relax. “And explain to them his actions are not what our gym stands for.  I’ll suspend his membership and if he decides to change his ways, we’ll review to let him come back.”  Jay nods.  “As for you Jay, obviously you will need to pay for the damage to the two lockers,” Jay nods again, “And I will need to call your Gran and have a talk with her about today’s incident.”

“I understand.”  Jay is staring at the carpeted floor.

“I will grant you the curtesy of speaking to her first, due to situation.”  Jay looks up and his eyes say thank you.

“Yeah, once we talk, I’m sure she’ll be calling you anyways.”  Carlos chuckles and nods in agreement.

Carlos looks at his watch then says, “If I remember correctly, Gran will have dinner ready for you in about an hour.  You need to get home and have your talk.”  Jay looks at his watch and nods. 

We get up to leave and handshakes are done all-around.  Carlos hands me a week’s worth of passes as a way to get me to come back.  I graciously accept them.

As we’re walking home, Jay is quiet and sullen.  I tentatively ask, “Buddy, you going to be ok?”  He glances over to me and slowly nods yes. “Ok, just making sure, cuz you don’t look it.”  I pause again and he keeps his eyes focused forward.  “What you did back there, in the locker room, I won’t forget it, ever.” 

Now he stops.  He turns to face me.  He spits out, “Peter is an ass.” I’m taken aback.  I’d never heard Jay curse, much less put someone down like that.  He sees my confusion and continues, “I thought I knew Peter well.  We’ve been friends for a long time, but I guess he’s changing into someone different, someone I may not want to hang around with.”

“Jay, don’t let me come between your friendship with him.  If I’m the reason…”  He’s shaking his head no. “But…”

“Ty, I should probably thank you.  Because of you, I now know what he’s really like.”  I stand dumbfounded.  “I’ve known you what, a week or so?”  I nod yes, “And I consider you a good friend.  You’ve told me a very personal aspect of your life that you probably wouldn’t share with just anyone.”  I shrug my shoulders in agreement.  “Peter took your secret and threatened to spread it around as if he had a right and obligation to do it.  That’s what really bothers me about what happened back there.”  I nod in understanding.  “I just hope Gran sees it that way.  A puzzled look comes over my face.  “You’ll see when you meet her.”  He turns and starts to walk again.  I watch him go and then start after him.  We walk the rest of the way in comfortable silence.

We reach Jay’s home.  It’s an immaculate two-story colonial with cream siding and dark blue shutters.  The front door is a muted yellow, which blends nicely with the other colors.  The driveway is made of red brick pavers in a basket weave pattern.  There are Japanese maples in the front yard and boxwoods line the driveway.  There are white dogwoods and trimmed purple azaleas across the front of the house with irises and rose bushes between them.  We take a path of slate pavers to the far side of the house and pass through a Clematis covered arbor and gate to the back yard.  It’s just as manicured as the front.  Large elm trees ring the fenced property.  There are two large flower gardens in the yard.  One holds a mixture of Lilies, more Roses, and some Hosta’s.  The other has a wide variety of cutting flowers like Dahlias, Zinnias, Gladiolas, and Lavender.  My mom would be jealous.  Through an open window I can smell a peach pie and pot roast.

We get to the backdoor and Jay leads us into a mudroom.  We slip off our sneakers, and he pokes his head around the corner, and says, “Hey Gran, we’re home.” 

I hear her coarsely say, “So I can smell.”  I think uh-oh, that’s not a good sign. “Well, don’t hide your friend in there, bring him in.  He nods to me and we enter the kitchen, me more tentatively than Jay.

I spot the pie on the window sill cooling.  I see the oven is on and a light lets me see the pot roast cooking.  I also smell freshly made rolls.  Gran is standing at the stove in an apron and a wooden spoon in her hand.  She’s stirring a pot.  She turns and I see her steel gray eyes.  She looks right into my eyes and sizes me up in about 2 seconds.  I feel naked in front of her.  I turn my head and look around the kitchen again. 

My thoughts were that it would be something out of the fifties, but it is completely updated and modern.  She has a gas stove with 6 burners, a side by side refrigerator, an oversized deep welled stainless-steel sink with a detachable nozzle.  The upper cupboards are glass covered, not wood panels and have brass handles.  The lower ones have wooden doors and also have brass handles.  There’s an upright mixer from KitchenAid and it looks well used.  There are a slack of Blue Willow plates sitting on the table with matching utensils.  She looks at Jay and says, “Jason, the table isn’t going to set itself.”

“Yes Gran.”  He grabs everything and disappears into the dining room, which is right next to the kitchen. 

I move toward to the room to help, but Gran cuts me off and says, “He can do it himself.  We need to get acquainted.” She gestures to the table and we sit opposite each other.  She picks up her glass of ice tea and takes a sip while eyeing me up again.  “So, you helped Jason last week at Mattie’s?”  I nod, too frightened to speak.  “That was very nice of you.”  I nod again. She continues to look at me but shouts to Jay, “You didn’t tell me he was a mute.” My mouth falls open, but nothing comes out.  She sees it and says, “Making progress.”

“Gran, please be nice.”  Jay says from the other room.

“I am, Jason.  You should see him.  He’s like a deer in headlights.  What did you tell him about me?”

“Just the usual.”

“Oh, well there’s the problem, you probably exaggerated.” She looks at me and softly asks, “Tyler or Tyrone?”

“Tyler.”  I say with some confidence.  I look her in the eyes, ready for her next question.

“Good. That’s a start.” She continues in the quiet voice, “Tyler, regardless of what Jason has told you, I’m just a feeble an old woman looking after her wayward and troubled grandson, trying to keep him from becoming a burden on society.”  Her eyes blaze up in excitement.

I crack a smile knowing she is pulling my leg.  “You’re good ma’am.”

“There we go.”  She stands up, walks over and pats me on the shoulder.  “Now go help Jason.” And in a slightly louder voice says, “Make sure he’s putting the forks on the correct side of the plate. You don’t know how many times he puts them on the wrong side.”

“Gran, I was 8 when the last time I did that.  9 years ago.”

“Seems like just yesterday.”  She responds with all seriousness and winks to me.

I walk into the dining room and it is as immaculate as the kitchen.  The table is a Rowyn Wood Extendable table with matching chairs.  Against one wall is an oak china hutch, filled with crystal bowls and more Blue Willow platters and serving dishes.  There is a matching oak buffet table along another wall.  On top is a vase filled with flowers from the garden.  The walls are a muted pea green and the windows to the back yard have matching curtains and sheers.  The oriental rug under the table has an Islimi floral pattern and the gold color is a nice contrast to the walls. Jay has finished setting the table and is checking to make sure everything is in its correct spot.

Gran walks into the opening and tells us dinner will be in fifteen minutes.  “If you’re not here when the food is ready, you miss out.”  She reminds us of the peach pie cooling on the window sill.  Jay nods toward the front hall.  I follow. We pass a number of photos on the walls, but I only have a chance to glance at them.  The hall has a long runner carpet on it with a pattern which matches the dining room rug.  The stairs are hard wood and have another runner carpet going up it.  There are more photos on the walls. 

We hit the steps and I tentatively ask, “Was she joking about the fifteen minutes or else?”

He turns and with all seriousness says, “About some stuff, she jokes, but never about when dinner is going to be ready and that you’ll miss out if you’re not at the table.  It happened to me a few times when I was younger and let’s just say, I’ve learned from my mistakes.”  I chuckle and so does he.

At the top of the stairs Jay points to a room for me to use to change.  He heads to the bathroom and I hear the shower being turned on.  He re-emerges, says he’ll go first, and heads to his room to strip.  I duck into the room he pointed at and close the door most of the way.  I look around and see some trophies and more photos.  I look at the trophies and see the name Matthew Jason on most of them.  Must be his father.  There are about 10 bodybuilding and wrestling trophies on the shelves.  I see photos scattered about too.  I look at one and see the spitting image of Jay in it, but it cannot be him as this man is standing next to his wife, who is holding a baby.  There is a 5-year-old or so standing in front of them. Has to be Jay based on the blue eyes staring into the camera. 

There are some other photos around, one or two show his dad on stage holding a trophy, another is him at a wrestling meet with his arm raised.  His father was huge in the photos.  Now I know where Jay gets it from.  A couple more photos show just Jay and a younger Gran.  Jay looks to be 7 or 8.  His blue eyes have a sadness in them.  One shows Jay with a black eye. There’s a quick rap at the door and Jay pokes his head in and says, “Shower’s all yours.”  I say thanks.

I head into the bathroom.  Jay left a towel out for me and left the water on too.  I strip and hop in and begin to wash off the day’s grim.  Thoughts of Peter and his action make me mad.  I then think of Jay in the locker room and what he did for me, and to Peter. 

My mind drifts. 

I’m in the locker room again, but this time Jay is holding me up with one arm around my throat.  He’s not choking me, but I’m a good 6 inches off the ground.  His bicep is barely flexed. He has a snarky grin on his face.  He pulls me close to him and flexes his other arm and puts it right in my face.  He snarls, “How do you like that?  Want me to push it harder into your face?”  He does and the muscle pushes right into my nose.  I breathe in his aroma.  It’s a musky scent mixed with man sweat. I wrap my fingers around the muscle and squeeze.  He laughs and flexes harder, showing me his strength and that I am powerless against him.  He pulls me even closer and I feel his erection push into my upper thigh.  I get excited and feel my own erection starting. I sigh heavily.

The scene changes.  Now we’re in the weight room and Jay is laying shirtless on the flat bench with the bar loaded up to 405 lbs.  I’m straddling his rock-hard midsection and watching him press the weight as if it were nothing.  He’s up to 20 reps and the bar is mid-air when he leans his head up and says, “Like what you feel big guy?”  He winks at me, does a slow pec roll, and tightens his abs.  I reach my hand to his pecs and caress them.  I tweak his nipples; he smiles at me.  While still holding the bar in the air he casually says, “That feels nice little man, but you can be rougher than that.  I won’t break.”  He winks at me and flexes his chest making his pecs feel like granite.  I massage the muscles.  I feel his erection start to grow and poke me in the ass.  He grunts and does another ten reps with ease.  My erection tents my black mesh workout shorts.  I move a hand down to it while the other continues to worship him.  I close my eyes.

The scene changes again.  I standing next to Jay as he is on the ground in a pushup position.  He says, “Well, that’s 50 with no extra weight.  Ty, jump on my back, I need some resistance for the next 50 and you should be enough.”  Next thing I know, I’m on his back, face down with my hands wrapped around his chest and feeling his rock-hard nipples, and he is punching out reps with ease. I again breathe in his manly sweaty scent. I stir.  As he lowers us, I feel his ass squeeze around my dick.  The sensation causes my erection to become powerful.  He continues this with every rep.  He gets to 40, turns his head, and asks, “You ready for the big finish little man?” Before I have a chance to answer, he kicks it into high gear and whips out the last 10 reps.  I find my hands are groping his chest and triceps, feeling the muscle explode with every movement.  He gets to 50 and yells, “Boom!”

I’m back in the shower and I see there is a white streak on the tiled shower wall.  My left hand has cum between the fingers.  I think to myself, ‘fuck, fuck, fuck, not Jay.  He’s my best friend and he’s straight.’

Jay knocks on the door and I hear him say, “2 minutes buddy.  Get dried off and down to the table. I’m heading down now.”  I yell back ‘ok’.  I rinse off and grab a towel and quickly dry off.  I move back to the spare room, will my still stiff cock to go limp, and throw on my change of clothes and some deodorant.  I head down and step into the dining room as Gran is putting the salad and bread on the table. 

She glances up and says, “I guess Jason put the fear of no food in you?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“You’re a guest, I would not have withheld dinner from you…this time.” She eyes me up. “Next time, you’re considered family and all bets are off, got it?”  The steely gray eyes pierce mine.

“Yes ma’am.”

“And Tyler,”

“Yes ma’am”

“Stop calling me ma’am.  I know you’re being polite and were raised with manners, but from here on out, you call me ‘Gran’.”

“Yes ma’am, err, Gran.”  She nods.

Gran goes back into the kitchen and returns with a platter with a lid on it.  Jay follows with two bowls. One has garlic mashed potatoes and the other French cut green beans with bacon. I offer to help get anything else, but she waves me off and tells me to sit.

I wait for them to sit and take the open seat across from Jay.  Gran is to my right at the end of the table.  She reaches out and takes our hands and asks, “Jason, would you like to say Grace, if you haven’t forgotten the words.”  She looks at me and gives me the slightest wink.

“Yes, Gran.”  He recites the prayer.

When he’s done, Gran pulls the lid off the platter to show the still steaming pot roast.  There are carrots and onions surrounding it.  She starts passing the salad around. I take a fair-sized portion and pass the bowl to Jay who is not ashamed to load his plate up.  Pot roast is next.  I take a smaller piece and pass the platter.  Gram, watching me says, “Stop. Tyler, what are you doing?”

I look at her with confusion. She glances at my plate and says, “You’re a growing boy, eat like it.” I blush.  “I made enough food for 6 people,” She spreads her hands over the plates full of food, “and you’re taking half helpings.  Stop being polite, you are family now, eat like it.”  I glance over to Jay, who avoids eye contact the me.  I’m on my own now.  “Don’t look to him for help.” She chides me. I see Jay quickly smile and glance up and back down. “Jason, pass that platter to me.” He does. “Tyler, give me your plate.” I do.  She loads 2 more pieces of pot roast onto the plate, then scoops on some carrots and onions.  “Are you able to get your own potatoes and beans, or should I do it for you?” She asks in the most sarcastic voice I’ve heard.  I look into her eyes as she passes my plate back to me.  The corner of her mouth curls up ever so slightly.  I wink at her.

I set the plate down and take a large helping of potatoes and beans.  She nods in approval. 

Dinner has officially started.  She leads off the conversation and we get the basics out of the way.  Only child, parents are still married.  Dad is an Engineer, chemical, not a train.  Mom is a Real estate agent and sings on Sundays at church.  Gran raises her eyebrows, looks at Jay and says, “God fearing people, Jason.  Keep this one around, you’ll need him.”  I chuckle and Jay just shakes his head.  Moved here a month ago for dad’s job.  Will be starting quarterback in the fall and hope to make the wrestling team after that.  She nods in approval and pushes the bowl of beans toward me, basically telling me to take seconds.

There is a lull in the conversation and Jay clears his throat.  “Um, Gran, there is something I need to talk to you about.”  Gran sets her fork and knife on her plate.  Jay does the same.  Uh-oh, this is going to get serious. 

I ask, “May I be excused?  You will want some privacy for this.” I start to stand. Gran gives me a look to sit back down.  I do. 

“What is it Jason?”  As her head turns back to him. Jay looks to me and I nod, giving him all the encouragement and support I can, from across the table.  It does not go un-noticed by Gran. “What did you two do?  Out with it, Jason.”  There is a gentle forcefulness in her voice.

“Well, you see Gran…” and he goes thru the incident at the gym from the beginning. When he gets to the part of me being gay, he pauses, looks me right in the eyes and waits.  I nod that it is ok.  I see his chest relax and he continues the story. 

Gran does not interrupt or say one word.  She nods here and there.  When he’s let out that I’m gay, she looks over to me, reaches her left hand out and puts it on top of my right hand.  She squeezes gently.

He finishes by telling her about his visit with Carlos.  Her eyes light up and she says, “Good for him.  I always knew he had a backbone and wouldn’t put up with people like Peter.”  She looks into Jay’s eyes and says, “Yes, I will be calling Carlos after dinner and I will let him know you will be working at the gym to pay off the damage to the lockers.”  Jay nods, knowing that was going to happen.  She looks over to me and says, “Peter has always been mean-spirited.  I do not know what Jason saw in him to consider him a friend.” Jay sits in silence.  Gran is taking over. “I will be having a conversation with his grandfather this Thursday at Bridge.  Thomas will put the fear of God back into Peter about his blathering.”

I say, “I’m sorry I’ve caused problems Gran.  I did not mean for Jay to get in trouble with the gym or you.”

She waves me off. “Tyler, there is one thing I have tried to instill in my wayward grandson” She says with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.  She waves her right hand to him, “And that is to be a better person and true friend.  Always try to avoid violence and only use it as a last resort.”  I nod thinking there may have been a non-violent way to ease the situation today.  She turns to Jay and says in a most sincere and loving voice, “Jason Matthew, you made me proud today.”  She reaches her hand to his cheek and gently rubs it.  Jay and I exhale at the same time.  “While there may have been a better way to handle Peter, what you did was in the best interest for Tyler.  I’m sure he appreciates it.”  She looks at me and I nod. 

She says to me, “There are more ‘Peter’s’ in the world than ‘Jason’s’, and you may not always have this Jason around.”  She nods her head in Jay’s direction.

“I understand Gran.” And I look across the table into Jay’s bright blue eyes, which are alive again.

She firmly states, “Now, finish your meals, there is Peach pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert and Tyler,” She looks me up and down and says, “You look like you’re withering away to skin and bones, unlike Jason here.” I practically choke on the pot roast and Jay rolls his eyes. “I will need to need to meet your parents and show them how to cook for a teenage boy.”  She flashes a wicked smile at me.

“Gran,” Jay says, “I’m sure his mother knows how to cook.”

She waves him off again and leans her boney elbows on table, looks me right in the eyes, and says, “So you’re gay, do you have a boyfriend?” My mouth falls open and before I can say anything, she says, “If not, my bridge partner Samuel’s grandson might be free.”  I laugh and Jay groans.


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Wow, such detail and drawn out characters.  This reads like a good novel.  Thanks!  And, of course, we want more.

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Part 4 - Green Eyes


It’s a chilly Friday night and I decide I don’t want to spend another night staring at the TV in my condo. I am a quiet person, but have a secret kinky side.  I keep to myself at work and have very little in the way of a social life, except work and the gym.  I venture out to the local bar. I enter from the cold and walk thru the crowd toward the bar.  The room is crowded, but people are starting to filter out as happy hour is ending and they want to go out and grab a bite to eat. 

I know the bar is the local hang out for gay men, but I am not looking to meet anyone, much less talk to them.  I want to have a beer and just look around. 

The bar is a step up from a dive, with dark wood paneling and booths with high backs.  There are a few square tables around the floor and a line of stools circling the bar.  It has changed owners a few times in the past few years.  With each new owner comes a change to the décor and crowd, and the bartenders.  There are two cute guys there now.  One has dark brown hair and biceps popping out of his short sleeve shirt.  He also has a cute, tight ass and a thick beard.  The other is a rough looking red head.  Bearded as well, but a scruffier looking guy.  He also looks like he hits the weights.

Now as the local gay bar, the lights are at the perfect brightness for guys to check one another out, but just dark enough for them to do it in a casual way.  They serve bottled beer for the most part, some liquor, and the greasiest food this side of fast food.  It’s funny that a gay bar, where guys are wearing the tightest fitting clothes in order to show off their bodies, serves the worst food for a guy looking to show off his body. 

There are a couple pool tables and dart boards in the back room and neon beer signs still hang over the bar.  There’s a large chalk board on one wall advertising the newest selection of beers on tap.

There are a couple seats open near the end of the bar and I walk up to one and toss my jacket onto a stool. I scan the room, but do not see anyone I know, gratefully.  I turn back to the bar, order a beer from the cute bartender with orange hair.  He looks me over and grins before turning to another customer.  I start to watch a hockey game, there’s karma for you.  

Eventually I see him across the bar.  He’s staring right at me and once he sees that I’ve seen him, he gets off his stool and starts to walk over. 

From a distance I can see he has the deepest green eyes. I am captivated and a bit intrigued. 

His hair is sandy brown with blonde highlights and it’s a bit longer than most guys would keep it.  He’s going for the surfer boy look, but I can tell he would never think of putting it up into a man-bun.    He looks to be about my size, 5’6” but a bit heavier, maybe 165lbs. He’s wearing a solid navy-blue muscle t-shirt on this frigid night, but not a single hint that he’s the least bit chilly.  Based on what I can see, he’s solid muscle, square jaw, perfect sideburns, and a very kissable nose.  Not a trace of a five o’clock shadow.  White teeth, no overbite, of course.  I spent 3 years in braces to get mine to resemble something close to straight.  I’m 5’6, 150lbs, on the slim side, and have dark blue eyes and straight black hair due to my Asian heritage, but this guy is the real all-American man package.

As he walks over, I think for sure someone is playing a joke on either him or me.  Since I did not see anyone else in the bar that I know, maybe he got the short end of the stick or wants to prove to his buddies he can pick up anyone based on his looks.

He sits down next to me am and I notice the large navy-blue muscle t-shirt is a bit tight around his chest.  He has on loose fitting Lee jeans, classic cowboy boots, and a perfectly sized belt buckle. Gratefully no sunglasses tucked into his shirt or on his head.  Also, no backward turned baseball hat.  There are a few chest hairs popping out the top of the shirt and his skin is tanned.  His right bicep is resting easily on the bar, but might as well be flexed for as big as it is.  Must be 15 or 16 inches. I glance at it and he twitches the muscle, not showing off, but in a ‘yeah, I know I have big arms’ way.  I follow the arm up to his deltoids which the straps of the t-shirt are hanging off of.  I see part of tattoo on his neck.  I’m then looking into those deep green penetrating eyes.

He smiles a warm natural grin and in a cheerfully SoCal draw says, “Hi, my name is Cam.”  Of course, the perfect man would have a honey smooth voice.  Just deep enough to stir my inners, but not too deep so as to be a growl.

I tense up, become embarrassed, and quieter.  I mumble in my crackly Philly accent, “Hi, I’m Jiao-Long Ming.” I look down at my shoes, away from him.  Now I know this is a joke and it’s on me.  No way this guy would ever look at me, much less speak to me, unless there’s a bet.

He sticks his hand out and I tentatively shake it. He has a firm grip.  I can feel the muscles in his fingers and forearm working.  I glance up and he’s still smiling and I notice he’s now staring into my eyes like he is looking into my soul.  I stare back into his eyes and suddenly feel at ease.  I blink and look away. My mind begins to scatter and I want to look around the bar again to see if anyone is watching him or me. 

He’s still looking at me and must see I’m nervous as hell.  He calmly asks, “So Jiao-Long Ming, I’ve never seen you here before? Are you new to the area?”

I hesitantly say, “Nah, I just don’t go out much.”  I add, “Most people call me Ming.  Only my mom calls me by full first name.”

His face brightens and he says, “Well Ming, it’s great to meet you and I’m glad you decided to venture out tonight.  This place is nice, but it’s always filled with the same guys trying too hard to be something they aren’t, if you know what I mean.” He gives me the side wink and I chuckle softly. I wonder to myself if he’s one of those guys. 

Doubt creeps back into my mind and I break eye contact with him.  I turn back to the bar and wave to the orange haired bartender to bring me another beer.  I ask Cam if he would like one and he says sure.  I hold up two fingers and the bartender nods. 

I cautiously ask, “What do you do?” and think to myself, besides look as hot as a Greek god. 

Cam looks into my eyes again and responds flatly, “Well, when I’m not being a Greek god, I like to hang out at local dive bars and troll for hot guys who don’t get out much.”  He winks at me.

I nearly spit out the beer in my mouth and choke on the bit in my throat.  He laughs and pats me on the back to make sure I’m ok.  I look at him and open my mouth, but then just shut it.  There’s no way he knew what I was thinking.  Pure coincidence.

“Actually Ming, I work as a street mime.”  He says it very casually, I almost believe him.

I raise an eyebrow and say, “I think I would have noticed you.” As I look him up and down with my eyes thinking bodybuilder or personal trainer.  His t-shirt is so tight, I can see his abs through them and his nipples are protruding as well.  His jeans are loose and baggy, but I’ve got a pretty good idea what’s happening under the Lee’s.

He smiles and casually says, “How about underwear model?”  His eyes twinkle. “How about you?”  He leans back to size me up and instinctively I slouch over and pull my shoulders in tight.  “I would say desk jockey at some big company, if not the CEO.”  And a coy smile crosses his face.

I casual say, “I’m an underwriter and for local insurance company over on Front Street, so you pretty much nailed it.”  I continue saying, “Well, underwear model would be more appropriate given your body.”

He grins back. “How about bodybuilder?” As he playfully bounces his pecs.

I nearly spit my beer out again. I try not to raise my voice, but I can tell it’s louder than I’d like. “Ok dude, you’re starting to freak me out.”  I slip off my stool and start to back away with my left arm raised in a defensive posture. The bartender has looked up and is walking back to our end of the bar.  There’s concern on his face.  Cam is staring at me with completely innocent puppy dog eyes. “That’s the second time you’ve said something I was thinking.  First time was Greek god and now bodybuilder.”  I silently think he also knew what I did for a job. 

The bartender can see the distress on my face and asks if everything is ok.  I toss a twenty on the bar and back away toward the door. I notice some people glance at me, but I ignore them. When I reach it, I push it open and step back into the chilly December air. The door shuts and I feel a bit better. I turn to start to walk home, but fuck, my coat is still inside.  I put my hand on the long brass handle, but decide to not go back in.  Something’s up with Cam and I don’t think I want to know.

I get about a block away from the bar when I hear someone calling out for me.  It’s not a Southern California draw, so it’s not Cam.  I slow and turn around.  It’s the bartender.  I think his nametag said Kyle.

I blow warm air into my cupped hands as he catches up to me.  He asks, “You ok dude? You bolted out so fast you forgot your coat.”  He holds it up and a sigh of relief passes over my face.  “It’s too cold to be out here without one.”  He hands it to me, I slip it on, and button it up.

“Thanks, Kyle? Right?”  He nods yes and we shake hands. “I’m Ming.  Yeah, that guy that was with me, Cam, started to freak me out.” A look of concern comes back over Kyle’s face.  I wave if off and say, “I don’t think he wanted to hurt me, but there was something in the way he looked at me.  It felt like he was looking into my soul.  I know that sounds crazy.”  I chilly breeze whips up the street, stirring some leaves and discarded newspaper.  Our breaths freeze as we exhale.

Kyle shrugs his shoulders and says, “Not really.  Lot of weird people in a city this big.  He didn’t threaten you, did he?  If he did, I can call the cops.  I can also have him banned from the bar.  We don’t need people like that in there.”  I give Kyle a quick once over.  Pretty solid looking guy.  He’s probably my age or a year or two younger than I am.  About 5’11”, 200lbs.  Guessing he can hold his own in a fight.  I can tell he’s a regular at whatever gym he goes to.  He’s got bright orange hair, a few days stubble on a rough looking face. He’s got on the standard bar outfit, black polo shirt, black jeans, and black sneakers.  But there is something in the way he’s talking to me, it’s calm and normal, unlike the bizarre conversation with Cam.

“No, he didn’t threaten me in any way.  No need to get the cops involved, but thanks for the concern.” I tentatively ask, “Has he been in the bar before?  I don’t get out much and yours is the closest bar I can get to.”

“Never saw him before tonight.”  I scrunch my face.

“Hmmm.  He made it seem like he’s a regular there.”

“I work almost every night and all-day Saturday, but I can’t say I’ve seen him.  He must have been lying to you.”

Fuck, fuck, fuck, “Yeah, guess so.  Well, thanks for bringing me my coat.  It was very nice of you.”

“No problem.  I gotta get back. Maybe I’ll see you again?”  He winks at me, turns around, and starts to jog back to the bar.  I watch him as he recedes.  He’s got a nice-looking ass.

I turn and continue home, blowing warm air into my cupped hands.  Well it certainly has been a different evening than I was expecting.  Met two really good-looking guys, one an apparent nut job, the other a normal hardworking guy, who has a really cute ass. 

A few days pass uneventfully.  Suddenly it’s Friday night again.  Do I hit the bar again?  I’d like to see Kyle, but pass on Cam.  Nay, stay inside tonight.  I’ve got some beers here and can whip up something to eat.

Kyle said he works on Saturday, all day.  I’ll go over tomorrow and have a drink and talk to him.  So instead of going drinking right now, I decide to head to the gym for a quick workout.  It should be pretty empty on a Friday at 5.  I toss a change of clothes into my gym bag and head out.  They gym is only 4 blocks away.  I’m bundled up as it’s still pretty chilly out. 

I get about ½ way there and see someone on the other side of the street heading in my direction.  Oh fuck, it’s Cam.  He’s got on a leather jacket and baseball hat, but I can still tell it’s him based on the swagger in his walk and his piercing green eyes.  I don’t think he’s seen me.  I swiftly squat down behind a car and pretend to tie my sneaker to avoid someone stopping to ask if I’m ok.  I peek up thru the car window and see Cam has passed by and is still heading the other way.  I stand up and quickly head to the gym.

I get there, check in, and head to the locker room.  I change and head out to the exercise floor.  Like I thought, not too many people here.  What do I want to do today?  I did legs Wednesday, Chest and back yesterday.  I’ll go light and jump on the elliptical.  I stretch out for 5 mins, get the blood flowing and then head to a machine in the back row, near a corner.  My own private space, where I can pop in my ear buds and listen to some Kongo’s and Airborne Toxic Event in peace. 

I select the weight loss program and hit start at same time as I begin Airborne’s album.  I found the album has the perfect mix of fast tempo and medium tempos songs which allow me to work up a great sweat in 35 minutes. 

There is TV on the far wall and the local evening news is on.  The volume is off, but the closed-captioning is turned on.  I glance up every once in a while.  Major news stories, boring.  Sports, who cares, the local teams are not doing well right now.  Weather, cold and snow possible.  Duh, it’s winter in the northeast.

Towards the end there is a local interest piece on new small businesses in the area.  It’s a pre-recorded piece and the correspondent is standing outside a new store a few blocks from here.  The name of the store is Surf and Stuff.  The camera pans down to the owner and they start to chat about the store and what it offers.  I wonder to myself why would a surf shop open in a cold northeastern city which is 90 minutes from the coast? It’s a recipe for disaster.  They head inside and to my surprise it’s not ‘surf’ as in ‘Surfboarding’, but surf as in ‘surfing the internet’.  All types of tech stuff to help people get the most out of their computers.  They offer mouse’s, monitors, programs, headphones, some games.  The cameraman walks around the store panning in and out on the shelves and counters. 

All the sudden I freeze.  The camera pans up to a person behind the counter and it’s Cam.  He’s got his big cheerful SoCal smile going on and looks great in a tight green polo with his nametag pinned to his shirt, right on his left pec, very close to his nipple, which I can see poking out right below the tag.  His green eyes match the shirt perfectly, of course.  His biceps look pumped and are filling out the sleeves so they look to be stretched a bit, like he’s showing off their size to everyone watching.  My groin stirs.  Fuck, he looks hot.  And just as quickly the camera moves on.  I keep staring at the screen half hoping it will pan back to him.  What am I thinking?  This is the guy who freaked me out a week ago, now I’m lusting after his hot body?  Am I crazy? 

I snap out of it, realize I’ve stopped pedaling the elliptical, and that I have a boner.  I casually glance around to see if anyone can see my tenting shorts.  Nope, I seem to be in the clear.  I decide to end the exercise.  Something more important has come up which needs taking care of.  I step off the machine, grab some paper towels, and quickly wipe down the machine. I head back to the locker room and hastily get changed.  My erection is fading, but I keep the image of Cam’s pec and nipple in my mind so that it doesn’t fade completely. 

I leave the gym and start to head back to my condo.  Still cold out.  I zip my jacket all the way up and pull my hat down tight over my head.  I sling my backpack over my right shoulder and push my hands into my jacket pockets.  I’m walking into a stiff headwind.  Feels like snow at some point. 

I’m three quarters of the way home when I slam into someone.  I’ve been looking down at the sidewalk to keep the wind out of my eyes, just following the person a few steps in front of me.  Never even saw the person who hit me.  We hit left shoulder to left shoulder.  Theirs’ is more solid than mine.  I twist around on the slippery pavement, lose my balance, and go down.  Not too hard, but too fast for me to get my hands out of my pockets to break my fall.  My ass hits the frozen pavement and I let loose an angry expletive, “Fucking hell. Watch where you’re going buddy.”

“Sorry dude, didn’t see you.”  Uh-oh, is that a SoCal accent I hear.  I lift my head and yup, it’s Cam.  He looks down at me, smiles a crooked smile and sarcastically says, “You talk to your mother with that mouth Jiao-Long Ming?”  He pulls a hand out of his pocket and reaches down and offers to help me up.  I hesitate and he sees it.  His eyes soften and he says, “I’m sorry Ming.  I didn’t see you either.”  I hesitate for another second then pull my right hand out of my pocket and reach up.  He grasps it and easily pulls me upright.  I swear I could see his bicep flex thru the jacket, even though it’s big and bulky.  “Are you ok?”  He asks with genuine concern.  People are rushing by us to get out of the cold. 

“Besides a bruised ass and ego, yeah, I’m good.”  I say with embarrassment in my voice.  I look away.  He’s trying to be nice, but I can’t get our first meeting out of my head.  What if he’s a nut job?  I feel the wind pick up and think, I need to get home.  He’s still looking at me with those green eyes.  I need to be careful or I could fall into them and never find my way out.

He says, “Well, take care and keep your head up.”  I glance into his eyes and see he’s disappointed.  He starts to turn away. 

Fuck, “Cam, I’m sorry.”  He stops and turns back. “Um, do you want to grab a beer or something?”  His face lights up. 

“Yeah, that’d be great.”  He says exuberantly. Crap.  I’d hoped he was busy or on his way home.

“Where do you want to go?” 

“How about back to the bar we met at last week.  It seemed pretty decent.” 

Ugh.  Not where I’d like to go.  My mind goes into overdrive trying to think of another gay bar in the area.  I think of one, but its 6 blocks away and is a real dive.  Dammit.  “Ok.”

“Great.”  We start off.  “I like that bar; it’s got a nice homey feeling.  Food isn’t what I’d eat, but their beer selection is rocking.  It’s hard to find DogFish Head or Victory beers outside this area.” 

I nod and listen to him ramble and make small talk.  I contribute as little as possible.  I need to feel him out and make sure he’s not going to take me into an alley and rob me.  The walk only takes 5 minutes.  We enter the bar.  I spot Kyle behind the bar.  He’s helping some guys on the far side of the bar. 

The bar is still pretty crowded with a dinner crew.  We find one stool near the end of the bar.  We take our jackets off and pile them on the stool and I put my gym bag on the floor.  I lean over the bar and when Kyle turns around, I wave to him.  He sees me and his eyes light up, and he walks towards me.  He dries his hands off on a towel tucked into his belt, extends a hand, smiles, and says, “Hey Ming, how are you on this chilly Philly night?”  He sees Cam behind me and his smile disappears and he looks at me with all seriousness and continues, “Isn’t this the guy who freaked you out last week?  Is he still bothering you?”  He nods to Cam and very loudly says, “You.”  Cam looks at him, “Yeah, you.  You bothering Ming again?”  Kyle is staring at him like a protective big brother.  “Do I need to ask you to leave?”

“You can ask, but I’m staying.” Cam says defiantly.  He puffs his chest out a bit and puts his hands-on hips and his lats flare.  He sucks in his stomach and I can almost see his abs thru the shirt. 

“Really?”  Kyle comes around the end of the bar and has picked up a bat from behind the counter.  He gets in Cams face.  “I think this bat and I have a different opinion about that.”  Kyle’s eyes are ablaze and his knuckles are white from the grip he has on the bat.  He pats the bat head into his right palm a few times.  Cam doesn’t even flinch.  Kyle’s biceps flex and man, they’re bigger than I thought they’d be.  He could do some damage if he swung the bat in anger.

Before the situation escalates out of control, I get between them, look at Kyle, and ask, “Can we talk for a minute, please?”  He looks me in the eyes, back to Cam, then back to me and gives me the slightest of nods.  He looks back at Cam as we walk away.  I put my hand on his forearm and lead him to the other side of the bar and turn him away from Cam.  He opens his mouth, but I put my hand up and cut him off.  I gently say, “I know what you’re going to say, but we literally ran into each other on the sidewalk and he accidently knocked me down.”  Kyle’s eyebrows go up like he’s questioning if it was an accident.  “He seems truly sorry and I want to believe him.” 

Kyle looks at me again like I’m crazy, but then his face softens and he says, “Ming, you’re too nice.  If your first impression was that he’s a nut job, stick with it.  I think he’s a bit off.”  I glance over to Cam and he’s half watching me, half looking around the bar.

“I just need to know for sure.  If I think he’s going to mess with me, I’ll ask you for a Coke.  You can then go to town on him with your bat, ok?”  I smile a half smile.  He reluctantly nods ok.  I put my right hand on his left forearm and can feel the muscles twitching.  He wants me to be wrong so he can swing the bat.  He looks me in the eyes and I think ‘am I picking the wrong guy’?

Kyle turns and heads back behind the bar.  He puts the bat on a floor cooler for glasses, within his reach, and in a spot where Cam can see it.

I head back to Cam.  He leans in close and asks, “What the fuck was that all about?”  I turn him around so his back is to the bar. It’s time to get everything in the open and see if this guy is a nut job or not.

I take few breaths and say “I guess it’s my fault.” He looks at me suspiciously. I start off, “Remember last week when we met?”  He nods and a grin comes over his face, like he’s remembering a happy time.  “Well, you did freak me out, and when I left Kyle brought me my coat and we talked about you.”  His smile disappears. “I told him what happened and he was all set to call the cops on you and ban you from the bar.”  He tries to turn around and look at Kyle, but I grab his bicep and keep him from turning.  His arm is partially flexed and I can feel his muscle balling up. “Please, answer a few questions for me Cam.”  He turns and looks into my eyes with his deep green ones. 

He gets a bit defensive and questioningly asks, “What’d I do wrong Ming?”

“Well, why did you come over to me, of all people?”  His forehead scrunches. “I mean, there were a ton of good-looking guys in here last week.  You could have had your choice of any of them.” His face softens. “Have you seen yourself?  You are pretty good looking.”  He blushes.  “Why me?  I’m nobody compared to them.  Skinny, not too muscular, Asian guy.”  I hear myself say the words and now really want to know.

In his soft SoCal voice, he replies, “Well Jiao-Long Ming, you’re too hard on yourself.”  I blush. He puts his left hand on my right wrist and his thumb rubs my skin. It feels nice, soothing.  “Do you remember what I said last week about this place?  Most of the guys here are trying hard to be something they’re not?”  I nod yes.  “I’m one of those people.” He quietly admits.   “You walked in and were self-conscious. I could tell you had not been here and just wanted to have a beer.” I blush and he continues with a goofy voice, “You weren’t ‘on the prowl’ looking to pick up a guy.  You weren’t pretending to be anything.  You were being yourself.” His voice softens a bit as he comes a fraction of an inch closer, “I like that in a guy.  It speaks volumes to his character.”  I glance down to the floor.  “As to why you? Dude, you don’t give yourself enough credit.  We’re about the same height and pretty close in weight.  Yeah, I work out a bit more than you do, but you’re fucking cute as hell.”  He puts his hand under my chin and lifts it up so we’re looking into each other’s eyes. “Anyone would be lucky to have you spend time with them.”  I continue to look into his eyes and see he’s being completely honest with me.

Now I’m partially embarrassed but continue with my questions. “What about the “Greek God” and “bodybuilder” comments?  How could you know exactly what I was thinking?”

He breaks into a soft chuckle.  “Ming, your face gives you away in just about everything.”  He almost sounds condescending, but I know he doesn’t mean it that way.  “Yeah, I was playing with you, but you were ogling my body from the moment I got up and walked over to you.”  He’s not wrong.  I was looking him over like he was a side of beef.  “If I remember, I was wearing a tight muscle T?” I nod and feel my groin stir at the memory of his muscular body on display. “Well, I was trolling for guys that night.  Got to show off the goods if you want to hook up.”  He flexes his left bicep as if he’s proving a point. “But then I saw you and it went out the window.”  I sigh and think maybe. “As to the comments, when a guy stares at your body and salivates over your muscles, they assume you’re a bodybuilder or something close, so those are logical answers to the “what do you do” questions.”

“Ok, I guess so.  Sorry if I was ogling your body.  I didn’t mean to.”  He laughs it off.  “Last question, how did you know I was an underwriter?  It can’t be that obvious?”

“No, it wasn’t.  That one took some time.”  He pauses, glances around, and looks into my eyes.  I wait.   He leans in close like he’s a magician about to reveal his secret to how he performs an illusion, “Ming, you still had your work lanyard around your neck with your badge.  It listed your full name, the company, and your department.”  He leans back and winks at me.

I stare blankly at him for a moment.  “Fucking hell.” I say a bit too angrily and loudly. The people around us turn and glance at us.  Kyle turns toward me and his hand reaches for the bat.  I glance at him and nod no, everything is ok.  I look at Cam and say, “And you couldn’t fucking tell me?  Dude, all this bullshit could have been avoided if you’d just said something.”  I’m pissed, but not sure if I’m more upset with Cam or myself.   His smile has disappeared and he’s got a blank look on his face.  I get up and walk away. 

Cam reaches for my arm and says, “Ming, come on.”, but I shake him off. 

Kyle meets me as I pass the end of the bar and he walks with me a few steps. I distantly hear him say, “You ok Ming?  Do I need the bat?”  My brow is furrowed and my mind is racing.  He grabs my forearm and pulls me to a stop.  “Ming?”  He’s staring right at me and is very close.

“No.” I say a bit harshly and jerk my arm from him. I take a breath and calm myself.  I take a step back and say, “I’m sorry Kyle.  I didn’t mean to direct my anger at you.”  He shrugs it off. I close my eyes and take another deep breath and say, “It seems Cam is an ok guy and I’m partially to blame for last week.”  He raises an eyebrow and I quickly explain.

“You sure?” He asks when I finish.

“Yeah.”  I take another deep breath and go over my conversation with Cam.  “He actually seems like a decent guy.  I’m going to give him another shot.”  I pat Kyle on his forearm and look into his eyes like I’m looking for his approval.

“Ok.  I’m here if you need me.”  He winks at me and walks back behind the bar.  He moves the bat off the counter and back to its original spot.

I gather myself and walk back to Cam who has been watching me the whole time.

I say, “I’m sorry.”  He grins, leans over, and kisses me, taking me by surprise.  I put my hand on his chest to push him away, but he grabs my hand and keeps it where it is.  He flexes his pec and I involuntarily feel him up.  I can feel him grin while we’re still kissing.  We break our kiss, he looks me in the eyes, and comes back in and kisses me on the nose.  I grin. 

I look to Kyle and ask, “Can we have 2 Dogfish Heads, please.”  He nods and grabs the beers.  I think he smiled as he turned away.  I hope I didn’t upset him by pursuing Cam.  I can tell he has a thing for me.

I look back to Cam and we start to small talk.  I mention I saw him on the news tonight.  He laughs and says, “Everyone has been coming up to me about it.  They want to know about the shop, where it is, when I work, and stuff like that.”   I nod.  He continues, “What did you think?”

I take the bull by the horns and says, “You certainly fill out your work shirt nicely.  Didn’t leave much to the imagination.” 

He laughs and says, “I know, right.  Little secret about it.”  He leans in and softly says, “I asked for shirt a size smaller just so I could show off.”

“Well it worked.  It got my attention.”  I smile an evil grin and look towards my crotch.  Cam sees my eyes go south and follows them.  His face brightens.  “I was at the gym when I saw the piece.  It stirred something in me and I was headed home to take care of it when we ran into each other.” 

He raises an eyebrow.  “Are you still looking to take care of your issue?”  He asks coyly while flexing his arm.  It fills out the short sleeve on his polo.  Unknowingly my tongue darts out and wets my lips.  He smiles again.  “I’ll take that as a ‘Yes’.”

I look over his shoulder to Kyle and wave my hand indicating I want the check.  He nods and brings it over.  I hand him a twenty and tell him to keep the change.  He nods in appreciation and leans over and says. “Have fun.  If he gets too rough Ming, I’m here for you.” 

I lean across the bar and give him a peck on the cheek.  “Thanks, big brother.”  I wink at him and he laughs at me and turns to help another customer.

I turn back to Cam and he has his jacket on and is holding mine up for me to slip into.  I put it on and pull my hat back on.  I grab my gym bag and we leave the bar and stand outside.  I say, “I live a few blocks away, you?”

“6 blocks on the other side of Broad Street.”  I frown.  “Yeah, bit of a hike on a cold night.  Do you mind me coming over?” 

I mull it over in my head.  If things go sideways or get too weird, I could ask him to leave.  “Yeah, let’s go to my place.”

We hurry to my place.  The wind has picked up and flurries have started to fall.  I shiver a bit and Cam sees it.  He puts his arm over my shoulder and pulls me close to him.  I wrap my arm around his waist.  It feels comfortable.  We get to my place and I enter the code to unlock the door.  We enter the communal vestibule.  I go in first.  Cam follows and puts both his hands on my upper arms and rubs them up and down quickly, warming me up.  I relax.  He moves closer to me and wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me backward to him.  I can feel his erection thru his pants.  It feels good.  I grind a bit on it and pull away.  “This way.”  He lets out a soft whimper.   I turn and slyly wink at him.  He cracks a grin.

I lead him up the stairs to the third floor.  I unlock the door to my condo and we go in.  We take off our coats and I toss my gym bag into the hallway to the bedrooms.  We slip off our shoes as well.  It’s not a big place, but it has nice high ceilings and a few skylights.  There’s a small patio off the living room. It has a nice view of Center city. I see the flurries have picked up and become a steady snowfall.  I’ve got 2 bedrooms, I use one as an office, and an open kitchen with hardwood flooring throughout.  I have a large area rug in the living room.  It’s a nice open space and I have a couple pieces of comfortable furniture and a widescreen TV on one wall.  Cam is looking around, taking everything in.

“Would you like something to drink or eat?” I ask as I move to the kitchen and get myself a glass of water. 

“I’m good, thanks.” He replies while looking out the deck door.  “Nice view Ming.  Bet it’s a great place to sit outside and enjoy a summer night with friends.” 

I shrug.  “I guess.  I don’t really have too many work friends.” 

He spins around like I just slapped him. “What?”  I shrug again. “You seem like such a nice guy, I figured you’d have lots of friends and be throwing parties all the time.”  He starts to walk toward me.

I laugh.  “Sorry to disappoint you. Quiet guy here who has a couple close friends and am happy with it.”

He nods and slides close to me.  “How do you want to do this?”  He looks right into my eyes as his fingers move to my belt.  He grabs the buckle and uses it to pull me closer to him.  I put my hands on his biceps and start to massage them.  He grins and moves in for a kiss.  He’s soft at first, just bouncing his lips off mine.  He winks at me.  I smile and wink back.  I move my arms to his shoulders and wrap them around his neck.  I can feel his deltoids and traps.  This guy works out, nice.  I pull him closer and we lock lips.  His lips are full and warm.  He opens his mouth slightly and I push my tongue in.  We start to tongue wrestle.  He lets out a low giggle.  I giggle back at him.  I continue to kiss him, pulling him closer.  He moves his hands from my belt buckle to around my waist.  He cups my ass and gives it a playful squeeze.  He breaks our kiss and playfully says, “Someone does his squats on a regular basis.”  He squeezes harder and I tense my glutes.  He smiles wider and moves back in for more kissing. 

I close my eyes and let him take over.  He breaks our kiss again, but grabs my lower lip in his teeth and impishly twists it back and forth.  I giggle again.  He pushes his tongue into my open mouth.  He swirls it around, probing, getting a feel for it.  I guess he’s giving it a test drive for later.

His hands reach for my shirt and he pulls it out of my pants.  I feel his cool hands on my waist and abs.  His fingers are chilly and I squirm away.  He quickly reaches out, puts them behind my back, and gently pulls me back to him.  I feel his cold finger tips, but he is massaging my lower back and they are warming up. It feels nice. We continue to kiss. 

I move my hands off his shoulders and down past his biceps, which I unabashedly grope a feel of on the way down to his waist. He tenses them for my feeling pleasure.  I pull his shirt out of his pants and start to raise it up.  When it gets to his upper chest, we break the kiss for a second as I maneuver the shirt over his head.  I toss it aside.  He’s not wearing an undershirt. I glance at his chest and think to myself, what a stud.  My groin twitches.  I put my left hand on his chest and wrap my right hand around his back.  He moves closer.  The fingers on my left-hand search for his right nipple.  Once they find it, I delicately twist it.  Cam moans.  He breaks our kiss and says, “You can be rougher than that Ming.  I won’t break.”  He winks at me and I grasp the entire nipple in my fingers and twist, like I’m trying to pull it off.  His eyes glass over and he lets out a guttural moan of pleasure.  He pulls me closer and I can feel his erection growing as does mine. 

I rub my right hand up and down his back, warming it up.  I decide to have some more fun and rake my fingernails down his back as I deliver another solid twist to his nipple.  His eyes grow wide, I see his smile grow wider, and he puts his left hand on my ass, and pulls me as close to him as possible. 

We are mashing our noses together.  My left hand is now just flat against his chest.  I’m groping it and he is instinctively flexing it.  I sigh.  He breaks our kiss and says, “My turn.”  He uses both hands to raise my t-shirt over my head.  When my hands are over my head, he quickly grabs my wrists in one of his hands and hold them up there.  I playfully try to pull them down, but he shows off his strength by holding them up.  He tenses his upper body.  His chest and abs come into relief.  He looks down, and I follow his eyes.  “You like?” he asks.

I look up and stare into his eyes and say playfully say to him, “Eh, I’ve seen better.”

 He sarcastically says, “Really?  When and where?  I need to meet this little man and put him in his place.”

“Oh, you know, on the TV, at his job, just looking like a fucking stud.”  He gets a big grin on his face and tightens his grip on my wrists.  He gets both into one hand and brings his free hand down and flexes it right in front of my face with a loud grunt.  He forcibly puts it into my face and starts to mash it around.

He’s being too forceful.  He’s starting to hurt me. The grip on my wrists hurts and his bicep is mashed into my nose and is covering my mouth.  I try to move my head away from him, but he keeps pushing it into me. I knee him in the groin and he grunts.  He moves his bicep away from my face and angrily asks, “What the fuck Ming?”

“You’re hurting me.”  I say quietly.

His face softens.  “I’m sorry.”  He releases my hands and I take a step back. “I didn’t mean to scare you Ming.” 

I rub my wrists. “You freaked me out Cam.  I thought you were going to hurt me.  I like to be playful, but that was a step too far.”

He takes a step back too and sits on the sofa.  I go a chair on the other side of the table and sit.  He looks me in the eyes and repeats himself, “I’m sorry Ming.  I like to play rough and assume my partner likes to also.”  He’s sitting forward with his elbows on his knees and his chin in the palms of his hands.  He looks like a little kid who’s hurt and afraid.

I wait a few minutes and he’s still just sitting there.  I quietly say, “Well…”

He comes back quickly, but with awkwardness in his voice, “I know, I know.”  He takes a few deep breaths and sits back. He rubs his face with his hands and then runs them thru his hair.  He leans his head back onto the top of the back of the sofa and softly massages his scalp.  His eyes are shut.  I hear a low hum coming from him.  His head lazily moves from side to side.

Looking at him now, he does have one of the hottest fucking bodies I’ve seen.  His chest is practically hairless, just a few blonde hairs between his pecs.  His armpits are shaved too.  His lats are spread and his bi’s are partially flexed.  I can see his ribs as his chest tapers down to his waist.  His 6 pack stands out.  He has a very cute ‘innie’ for a bellybutton.  There are a few hairs leading from there down into his pants. His 501’s look a bit loose on him and there is space between his abs and the waist of his pants.   I wouldn’t mind dribbling some spit there and see where it goes. I lick my lips.  I look back up his body and see he’s looking at me.  I blush.  He quietly says, “Don’t be embarrassed Ming.  I appreciate you checking me out.” I turn away.  “Again, I’m sorry.”  I nod. “I’ll go easier until we figure out what we both like.” 

He gets up and walks around the coffee table toward me.  He stands in front of me and his crotch is right in front of my mouth. I raise my hands and put them on his waist, right on top of his belt.  I look up.  He moves his hands to his belt buckle and slowly undoes it.  He opens the top of his jeans. I can see some blonde peach fuzz.  I inhale and smell his manly scent.  I lick my lips again. I grip the sides of the jeans and slowly pull them down.  He raises his hands over his head again and the pants easily slide down to his ankles.  He kicks them off and to the side.

I almost cum in my pants.  What a fucking god.  I now see the “V” in his oblique’s as it tapers to his waist.  The “goodie trail” fades out once it reaches the top of his dick. His dick is semi-hard and just sitting there.  Not a hair on it or his balls.  I put my hands back on his waist and gently feel his abs.  He tenses them and I run my fingers thru the crevices between each one.  I slide my hands down past his dick and to his legs.

His legs are like tree trunks for a guy his size.  He’s throwing around some impressive weights when he does his squats and dead-lifts. I reach out and feel the quads.  They’re solid as rocks.  No hair on his upper or lower legs either.  I grab his legs and motion for him to turn around. He complies and turns ever so slowly.  I get a good look at his lower legs.  They are just as muscled as the front. My eyes head north to his ass.  I’m caught by surprise and gasp.  I hear him whisper, “I was wondering when you’d see it.  What do you think?” 

My fingers trace the tattoo covering his back, from his shoulders to his ass.  It’s an impressive dragon tail. I stand up and see the tail begins up at his deltoids, winding its way down his back, and disappears into his ass crack.  The detail work on the scales is outrageous, so lifelike. I find my fingers are touching it and tracing a path up and down his back thru the swirls and curves.  Cam moans again.  He’s getting turned on.  I whisper, “My god.” My mind races, so many questions to ask.  Where do I start? “How long did it take?”

“It took quite a few sessions, but overall, about 30 hours.”  My fingers are still tracing the tattoo, touching each scale to see if could be real and have texture.  They don’t.  I’m kind of disappointed.  It’s so lifelike.

It must cover about a third to half of his back.  “Why?”  I’m still in awe and ask with what must like reverence in my voice.  I stand up to get a closer look.

“That’s a story for another time.”  My fingers stop and my hand rests flatly on his back.  I slowly pull it off.  I may have gone one step too far.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to impose.” I take a step back.

Cam turns his head to me and says, “No, no.  The story is pretty interesting, but will take a while to tell.  We have more important items to take care of right now.”  He turns the rest of his body to me and is sporting one hell of a boner.  Mine, which had gone partially flaccid perks back up.  We smile at each other. 

He moves toward me slowly.  He raises his right hand and puts his palm on my left pec.  I flinch.  He pulls away and I reach out and gently take his hand in mine and put if back on my chest.  He flexes his fingers and I feel him softly play with my pec muscle.  It’s not as big or prominent as his, but it’s not too bad.  I attempt to flex my pec, but fail miserably.  He smiles at me and gives me a wink for my effort.  I put my right hand around his waist and pull him close to me.

Our lips meet.  Our dicks meet as well.  Both are pointed upward and are now trapped between our bodies.  He flexes his cock and I feel it push against my abs.  I flex them and Cam moves his left hand to them and rubs them.  “Nice.”  I can feel his hand wander south a bit and wrap around my dick.  “Nicer.”  I put my right hand on his unit and give it a gentle pull.  “Nicest.”  He says with a smile in his voice.

We resume kissing each other, standing in the middle of the living room. Just two horny bare-naked guys getting to know each other in the purest way possible.  We’re becoming more at ease with each other, figuring out what each one likes, or doesn’t like.  Cam slowly pulls away and looks me in the eyes.  I can sense he wants to go to the bedroom.  “Second door down the hall.” I turn to lead him to it, but he puts his hand on my shoulder to stop me.  I pause, turn to him, and see him smile.  He moves close to me, puts an arm around my back, and quickly bends down and scoops me up with his other hand under my knees. I gasp and wrap my right arm around his neck.  I lean to kiss him.  He accepts the kiss and stands still for a moment, getting used to my weight. He jostles me a bit, turns, and starts down the hall.  I can feel his flexed biceps as he carries me.  My erection becomes more intense. 

We get to the bedroom and he turns so I can open the door.  He carries me over threshold – hmmm, any significance to this?  

The bedroom is nothing special.  Average size, queen bed, dresser, another smaller flat screen TV on top of a cedar chest.  A tiny master bath, but I upgraded the shower to a Delta In2ition 5 spray 2 in 1 combo unit.  Best money I’d ever spent.  It has a variety of settings and I’ve found one or two I really like and constantly use. 

He walks me to the bed and sets me down on the end.  He pushes me onto my back and straddles me.  His ass is right over my unit.  He doesn’t let me enter him.  He pushes my dick flat onto my abs and starts to stroke me with his ass.  It feels incredible.  He’s gyrating his ass nice and slowly.  His hands are right below my armpits.  I reach my hands up and massage his triceps and biceps.  He leans down and starts kissing me again.  Now it’s my turn to moan. I let out a long one which started very deep inside me.

Cam leans back, grins at me, and says, “That’s more like it.”  I stare at him blankly. “God Ming, I didn’t know what else to do to get you let loose a pleasured moan.  Now I know you’re enjoying yourself.”

I reach my hand up and stroke the side of his face.  “Cam, I’ve been enjoying my time with you for a while now.  I’m just not vocal about it.  Trust me, I’m having fun.”  He smiles again and leans down for another round of kissing and gyrating.  I wrap my arms around his back and pull him as close to me as physically possible.  I can feel his fingers in my hair.  He starts to massage my scalp.  I moan again.  He giggles softly. 

I tap him on his back.  He leans up.  “Want to try something a bit different?”  He arches an eyebrow.  “Get up for a second.”  He slides off the end of the bed.  “Turn around for a minute.”  He puts his hands on his waist basically saying ‘You’ll need to turn me around if you want me to face the other way’.  I get off the bed and move close to him.  I put my hands on his cheeks and pull him in for a kiss.  I purposely kiss him on the nose.  His eyes go wide.  I look into them and quietly say, “Please.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.”

He sighs and turns around.  I move to the nightstand next to the bed and open a drawer.  I pull out a pair of adjustable Tweezer Clamps which has a jewelry chain.  I attach each clamp to a nipple and stifle a moan when the clamps squeeze shut.  I take a moment to relax before turning back around.  I also hope this doesn’t frighten him off, but something tells me it won’t.

I walk up behind Cam, gently put my right hand on his shoulder and nudge him to turn around.  He turns, see the clamps and his mouth forms an “O”.  His eyes also light up.  “You like?”  I ask softly.

He silently nods yes, his face still gazing at the clamps.  I reach my right hand out for his left hand, delicately grasp it, and bring it up to my right nipple.  I put his hand on top of the clamp.  He instinctively squeezes.  He’s gentle, a tentative cuddle.  I smile and use my left hand to raise his face up.  He looks me in the eyes.  His green eyes are full of wonder and excitement.  I take his right hand and put it on my left nipple and he grips the clamp.  He tugs at it.  Not hard, but hard enough for me to let out a soft moan.  My dick stirs.  It had gone partially flaccid, but with his hands now on my chest and his eyes staring into mine, I am aroused again. I move closer to him and wet my lips.  He does the same.  We kiss, our dicks meet again.  His is rock hard and mine responds and grows to its full size.  His eyes light up again when he feels it intruding on his. 

He pulls back from our kiss.  “I’d have never thought.”  I arch an eyebrow and crack a half smile.  He moves back in and we continue to kiss.  His hands are getting a bit more adventurous.

He syncs up his hands and tugs both clamps at the same time, with more force. The chain jostles and bumps my chest, then his. I grunt and he eases. I mumble through our locked lips, “Don’t stop, if feels good.”  He pulls on them again.  I grunt and groan and thrust my pelvis forward into his.  Our dicks grind together.  His releases a spurt of pre-cum.  It dribbles between our mashed dicks and coats our shafts. 

I put my arms around his neck and pull our bodies closer.  Sweat is forming on both our bodies.  We’re becoming slick. 

He takes his hands off the clamps, uses one to push his dick under my balls, and then he wraps his hands around my waist, grabbing my ass.   Our chests meet and he pulls my ass closer to him and up a bit.  The clamps rub against his nipples, which are now aroused as well, and sticking out. He moans excitedly. He pushes his dick under me further and uses his hands to pull me even closer. 

I get the hint and jump up a bit. He catches me.  I wrap my legs around his waist.  His biceps flex a bit.  He mashes his mouth into mine.  I pull his head closer to mine and force my tongue into his mouth.  I close my eyes and push a wad of spit into his mouth and use my tongue to swirl is around.  He fights back and we start to tongue wrestle.  He uses it as a distraction.  I suddenly feel an index finger probing my hole.  He is timid at first.  The finger just moves around the hole, stimulating the nerves and causing my hole to open and shut unconsciously.  I tighten my legs and arms, squeezing him like I am holding on for dear life.  He jostles me up and down.  The clamps rub his rock-hard flexed chest.  It’s my turn to release a spurt of pre-cum.  It dribbles out of my cock and oozes down my shaft, coating it and his abs. 

He breaks our kiss, looks me in the eyes, and huskily says, “I want to be in you right now.  Where are your condoms and lube?”  I nod toward the bathroom.  He nods back and to my surprise, hefts me up and puts me over his shoulder.  I’m staring down his back at the tattoo.  He walks us to the bathroom and says. “Where?”

I respond, “Below the left sink, left door.”  He slides over and squats down.  I hear the cabinet door open and he pulls out the condoms and lube.  I slap his ass.  He laughs and stands back up.  He then squats me three more times.  As he rises up on the last one, he says, “You weigh around 150, right?”

“Nice guess.” And I slap his ass again. He slaps mine.  He carries me back into the bedroom and throws me back over his shoulder onto the bed. 

I stare up into his eyes and then let them wander down his body.  His killer SoCal smile spread across his face.  Pearly white teeth.  Two days beard growth.  Sweat still glistening on his pecs and shoulders.  His biceps are not flexed, but they’re pumped and full of blood, making them look huge.  His chest is pumped too. He’s not breathing hard, but heavily.  With each inhale, it swells and a droplet of sweat rolls down towards his abs.  I reach a hand out and run them over the abs and he tenses them.  I sigh as I feel them up. 

I see his dick is still erect and leaking pre-cum.  I run my index finger and thumb over the tip and squeeze out a bit.  I slowly move it toward my mouth.  I slide my index finger into my mouth and taste the saltiness of the moister.  I also taste pineapple.  I glance up at him, smile, and say, “Have some pineapple recently?”  He cracks a smile and nods a bit.  I offer my thumb to him and he opens his mouth and greedily sucks on it, lapping his tongue all around it.  His winks at me and releases my finger. 

He reaches a hand down and bats the chains lightly.  I squirm as the tips of my nipples are super sensitive.  Another spurt of pre-cum escapes me.

I reach a hand to his dick and give it a few quick tugs.  It gets harder, I smile at the feel of its hardness.  Cam pushes it toward my hole and nudges it around.  I feel the warm pre-cum as it is spread around.  I sigh again.  He steps back, rips open a condom foil, and I can see him slide it on.  He looks at me and smiles and crooked smile.  He grabs the tube, opens it, and squeezes some along the length. 

I raise my legs and wrap them around his midsection.  I softly grasp his dick and guide it toward my hole.  He sets it at the entrance and with slow, but steady pressure pushes it.  I resist at first, clenching my hole.  Cam leans down, puts his mouth over my left nipple and the clamp and runs his tongue over the area.  I feel warm saliva on my chest and his tongue laps at my nipple.  I groan in pleasure, relax my body, and feel his dick slowly slide into me. 

He leans up, puts his hands or either side my chest, winks at me, and leans back down for a kiss.  I wrap my arms around his biceps, squeeze them, lean up, and mash my mouth to his.  He pivots his hips forward, pushing more of his dick smoothly into my ass.  I groan through our kiss.  He giggles.  He pushes again, but a bit too hard and fast, I wince in pain, my ass clamps shut halting his entry.  He immediately backs out a bit.  I let my head fall back to the bed.  He looks down and my pained expression eases.  He slowly pushes back in.  I move a hand from his bicep to his chest and put a bit of pressure on it indicating I’d like him to ease up a bit. He backs off.  I relax for another moment.  I‘m still getting used to his size.  He waits patiently, just staring at me.  I feel his thumbs massaging the sides of my chest.  It’s a soft touch, just to let me know he’s there.  I reach my left hand down to his right thigh and run my fingers thru his light hair.  He slowly pushes into me again.  It feels good.  I feel him getting close to having it all in me.  I exhale when I feel him bottom out.  I stare into his green eyes.  He’s staring right back at me, making sure I’m ok.  I tighten my legs, letting him know I’m well.  He eases about halfway out and then pushes back in, with the same slow and steady pressure. 

He gets a nice rhythm going.  It feels better.  We go at it for 5 minutes or so.  He bottoms out every second or third time into me.  I feel sweat begin to form on my forehead.  He leans down again and kisses me again.  I feel him push forward with a bit more pressure, but there is no pain on my side. I sigh.  He wiggles from side to side and then up and down.  It feels good.  I arch my back and push my ass onto his pole.  I feel his nuts swing up and hit me. 

He leans back down and snakes his arms under my middle back.  I hunch my shoulders up a bit to give him easier access.  I feel him wrap his hands around his forearms.  He lowers his chest to mine.  He puts his head right next to mine, his mouth is next to my right ear.  I feel his tongue lap at my earlobe.  He wraps his lips around the earlobe and coats it with saliva.  His tongue then darts into my ear.  I squirm as he softly blows warm air into it.  He tightens his grip and my nipples and clamps rub against his chest, sending waves of excitement throughout my body.  I shiver and groan. I lock my legs tighter around his waist. He pushes further into me.  He’s bottomed out again, but does not pull back. 

I feel his biceps tense up and sense what is coming next.  I try to relax my body as much as possible.  He pulls me to the end of the bed, flexes his arms, and pulls me as close to him as possible.  “Careful Muscles.  Don’t hurt yourself.” I whisper in his ear.

“You’re light.  I’ll be fine.”  He replies as he strengthens his grip around my back.  “Hold on tight.”  I lock my hands around his neck.  He slowly raises me off the bed.  I feel my ass slide down his pole a bit more.  He’s completely in me.  I squirm a bit from side to side making sure I’m able to move around.  “Comfy?”  He asks as he pulls his head back and looks me in the eyes.

“Very.”  I say softly and move forward to give him a kiss.  He kisses me back and moves his hands down my back to my ass.  I feel him cup my cheeks.  I continue to kiss him and push my tongue into his mouth.  I rub my chest up and down a bit.  The clamps rub his nipples and it’s his turn to squirm a bit.  His movements cause my dick to release another spurt of pre-cum.  It dribbles between our bodies and smears on our abs. 

“I want you to cum without touching your dick, and I think I can make it happen.  You up for it?”  He asks slyly and with a twinkle in his eye.  He arches an eyebrow waiting for my response.  I stare into his green eyes and wonder what more could he possibly do?  I slowly nod yes.  He grins a wide smile and I feel him flex his dick inside me.  “Get ready for the ride of your life Jiao-Long Ming.”

He jostles his hips up and down.  I settle onto his pole and feel the iron rod inside me.  It is warm and pulsing.  I wrap my arms around his neck and lean my head onto them.  I’m going to let Cam do his thing. 

He starts by lowering into a squatting position.  My ass is spread wide open.  I can feel the warm bedroom air on it.  His hands massage my ass cheeks and his index fingers work their way toward my hole.  They don’t enter, he just rubs them around the area, stimulating it.  Cam slowly raises back up to standing.  His fingers are now in my cheeks.  He starts to go down again.  My chest rubs against his.  I let out a guttural moan due to the sensations running thru me.  When we’re at the bottom of the squat, his fingers get closer to my hole.  I can feel him try work one into me.  I tense my ass to have some fun and make it a challenge for him.  He feels me tighten up and whispers, “Jiao-Long Ming, are you playing hard to get?”

“Maybe? You need to do some work to earn your reward.”  I softly say back to him.

“I thought I was doing all the hard work, but I guess I need to be more aggressive.”  And with that he goes a bit lower, widening the entrance to my hole just enough for him to slide a finger in.  “There we go.”  He says calmly.  He stands back up and the feeling of his finger inside me sends shivers down my spine.  He wiggles his finger a bit, pulling on the edge of my hole, and slides it in just a fraction more.  I pull closer to him.  I’m so turned on and can feel my body getting to let loose.

I take several deep breaths and try to relax.  He begins to squat down again.  At the bottom, he pushes his finger in further and wiggles it again.  “Ohhh…” is all I can say as my eyes glass over.  He giggles.  I close my eyes and run my hands over his back, feeling his muscles.  “Come on Muscles, make me cum, fucker.”  I take his earlobe into my mouth and bite it.  Not hard enough to draw blood, but harder than normal.  He squirms and thrusts his hips forward and harder.  His dick bangs bottom.  I tug down on his lobe and punch him in the back as best I can.  He starts to stand up again.  I gnaw on his lobe and tighten my legs around his waist, letting him know I may weigh less, but am not a pushover.  When he gets to the standing position, he takes a step forward and positions us at the foot of the bed.  He turns so his back is to the bed.  Without warning he falls backward and I am pulled down on top of him.  His slides out of me a bit and his fingers come out.  My chest falls to his, crushing the clamps into his flexed pecs.  They push back into me.  I snake my arms out from behind him, lean up and put my hands on his chest.  I look at him and his face is one big smile.  I grind my hips up and down twice and suddenly my body goes stiff.  My hands dig into his pecs, my ass clamps shut, my back arches forward, and my load comes flying out.

The first spurt coats him from face to pecs.  It’s a nice creamy thick load.  The second shot comes out as my dick is quivering from side to side and coats his abs.  My final shot coats his abs again. 

He jokingly says, “See, you came without touching your dick.”  I nod blankly.  He continues with a more serious tone, “I’m a man of my word Ming, trust me on that.”  He leans up and kisses me. 

I melt and release my death grip on his pecs and gently take off the clamps.  My nipples are red, enlarged, and super sensitive.  My dick is fading, but his is still an iron rod inside of me.  I cock a grin at him and shove my hips backward and down.  He smiles and puts his hands behind his head, flexing his biceps for my viewing pleasure.  I bounce on him savagely three or four times and his eyes glaze over.  He moves his hands to my hips and helps me move up and down.  As I bottom out, he pushes me a bit further down and he arches his hips up so he is fully in me.  I feel his dick start to swell and he lets out a roar as he cums.  I think to myself, “Shit, I hope the neighbors are asleep.”  The condom expands to what feels like its capacity.  He keeps his hips up while he blows his load.  He closes his eyes and his whole body tenses up.  I reach down and punch him in the abs a few times.  He doesn’t feel a thing.  I punch him in the chest.  This time he reacts and says, “That tickles, keep doing it.”  I take several more jabs at his flexed chest and my dick starts to harden. 

He sighs and says, “We need to get you on a strength training program Ming.”  He opens his eyes and winks at me.  I lean down and kiss him passionately.   I feel his hands on my back.  He runs them up and down my spine as he kisses me back.  I feel him soften and slide out. 

“That was fun.”  I say to him between kisses. 

“Yeah, it was.  Shower?”  He asks, but does not make any move to roll me off.

“In a bit, this.” I motion to our position, “feels nice.”  As I lay my head next to his and blow warm air into his ear.

“It does.”  He turns his head and laps at my earlobe.

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Part 5 - Blue Eyes.  Also, part 1 of a 2 part mini-story.  This part from Cam's perspective, the next from Ming's  Enjoy.  Let me know what you think.


“Really?”  I say across the living room to him as he’s reading a magazine and I’m doing a Sudoku puzzle.  He’s in dark blue nylon gym shorts and a loose-fitting t-shirt with an INXS logo on the front.  His black hair is messed up, but normal for our Saturday mornings.  I’m commando in my sweatpants and have a tank top on, which is a bit small on me, accentuating my pec and traps.  My hair is dirty brown with blonde highlights, and is just as messed up as his.  I moved in with Ming a few months after we met up.  We had a rocky start, broke up once or twice, but always found our way back to each other.  It’s May now and there is a warm breeze coming in thru his patio screen door of his third-floor condo in Philly.  The morning sun is splashed across the wood flooring and is giving his head a halo effect.

“Yeah, it could be fun.  A little different.  Spice things up.” He says coyly, raising an eyebrow, but not looking up to meet my gaze.  His blue eyes stay trained on the magazine, which I think he is reading, or is just holding so he won’t have to look at me.  

I clear my throat loudly, he looks up.  I take the opportunity to flex my left bicep and I see him lick his lips.  “This isn’t spicy enough for you?” I bounce the muscle a few times. “It seems to be holding your attention right now.”  I slowly let my arm relax and the bicep shrinks away.  He continues to stare at it.  I twitch it just to play with him.  I see him starting to pitch a tent. I flex again and hold it.  I stare at his bulge; he stares at my arm.  We are at an impasse.  If I stop flexing, his boner fades.  His hand lowers to his gym shorts, slips under it, and he grasps his dick.  He gives it a few soft tugs.  I smile, he smiles back.  I put the puzzle down and raise my other arm and toss up a double bi.  He smiles, then looks back down at his magazine.  He takes his hand off his boner and it starts to fade, albeit very slowly.  He’s doing his best to taunt me. 

I stand up and slowly, casually start to take my t-shirt off.  I flex my abs and pecs.  I stretch my body upward and moan as I pull the shirt over my head.  I toss it in his direction, run my hands up and down my torso, then go into a most muscular, grunting while I hold the pose.  I gnash my teeth and shake my head back and forth.  The shirt lands on the floor in front of him.  He nudges it away with his foot. He doesn’t even glance up. 

I move toward him.  I stand in front of him, untie the drawstring on my sweatpants, and let them drop.  Since I’m not wearing any underwear my semi-erect hairless dick is right in front of him.  I sway my hips and make it bump his magazine.  He looks up and says, “You’re going to catch a cold standing there naked like that. Let me get you a sweatshirt.”  And with that, he stands up, sidesteps me, and walks back to the bedroom.  My dick goes limp. 

“Fine Ming, you win, this round.” I say defeatedly. “May I ask who you had in mind?”  He comes out of the bedroom with a sweatshirt in hand and tosses to me as he walks into the kitchen.  He grabs a couple of glasses and fills them with water.  He walks back to me and hands one to me.  I drop the sweatshirt.


Not a bad choice.  Not my first, but I wouldn’t throw him out.  I stare into Ming’s blue eyes and see a fire of excitement blazing in them.  I glance down and see his erection has started again.  He’s really anxious to do this.  “Are you sure?  I don’t want it to change your friendship with him.”  Ming and Kyle have a special bond which began about the time he and I met.  Their friendship is one where Kyle is very protective of Ming and woe-be-tide anyone who wrongs Ming.  Ming looks up to Kyle as a surrogate big brother.  I’m not jealous of their relationship.  I know ours is on solid ground.  I also know Ming talks to Kyle about us and uses him as a sounding board when we hit rough patches.  The one or two times we’ve broken up, I know they had spent time together, but I’ve asked if they had sex and Ming says they didn’t.  “You know I like Kyle, but is he on board for a three-way with his little brother and his boyfriend?”  I say the last part in a sarcastic voice and Ming immediately narrows his eyes and a flash of anger passes over them.  I raise my hands with palms out, in a defensive posture and say, “Sorry, only kidding.” His eyes lighten, but only a bit.  He turns away and looks out the screen doors to his patio.  I touched a nerve.  I casually walk over to him and stand behind him. I wrap my arms around his waist and pull him into a hug.  My flaccid unit pressing against his ass crack thru his shorts.  I kiss him on the neck.  “You know I love you, don’t you?”  He nods without saying a word.  “I’d do just about anything for you.”  Another slight nod. “May I ask why you are wanting to spice things up?  I mean, I thought we were in a good place?  Have I done something wrong?  Am I becoming too boring?”  I ask the last question with a bit of uncertainty in my voice.  I don’t know where he’s coming from, but need to find out.

Ming turns around, kisses me on the lips, and says, “No Muscles.  We’re fine.”  He kisses me again, softly, and continues, “I enjoy every moment with you, sarcastic comments aside.” Ouch. “I’ve been, I dunno know, I feel like I’ve been in a rut…not us…me…sexually…and I want to branch out.”  He’s stammering and hesitating. I raise an eyebrow.  “I know that sounds silly, given I was practically a hermit when we met, but you’ve opened my eyes to so many things I want to try as much as possible, before, I dunno,” He turns away and his voice cracks, “you find someone better than me and move on.” 

I softly say, “Oh Ming.”  I gently put my hands on his shoulders and just let them rest there.  I don’t want to force him to do anything.  I put my forehead on the top of his neck, in the crux where his head meets his neck.  I let it sit there.  I take some deep breaths.  I can feel his chest inflating and deflating as he breathes.  I wait a minute and say, “You know I’m here for the long haul.”  I pull my head off him and move my hands to his upper arms and gently rub them down and up.  “Have we had a bump or two in the road, yeah, but everyone does.  Do we work our way through it?  Yes.  Where is this coming from?”

“I don’t know, my insecurities flaring up.”  He turns to me, moves a bit closer, and continues, “I wake up with you next to me, your green eyes afire, and you looking all confident and muscular.  Good ole SoCal boy with the blonde hair, surfer boy scrub,” he runs his hands thru my hair and along my cheeks, “ready to take on the world and conquer it at your leisure.  You’re just, I dunno, every guys dream, and you’re with me.”  He looks down. 

And there it is, just like when we met.  I quietly say, “Ming…my Mingster.”  I bring him into an embrace and wrap my arms around his back and squeeze tightly, but loosely.  He pulls his arms free and puts them around my neck.  I squeeze him a bit harder and whisper in his ear, “You are my everything, with your blue sparkling eyes, jet black hair, secret kinky side.”  I blow warm air into his ear.  “I think about you every day while I’m at work.  Your slim body molded against me at night, as we snuggle.”  I hug him tighter. “You with your nipple clamps on and the chain dangling down for me to play with.  Your dildo just poking out of your ass when I come home from a miserable Sunday afternoon shift at work and hoping you’ve been warming up for a long hot sweaty session.  I think of you while we’re at the gym.  I see you laying on the flat bench, making muscle gains every day.  I watch you do endless pull ups and do your cardio routine, rocking out to Twenty-One Pilots.  You ignite a fire in me that only you can quench when we make love.  I get rock hard at work thinking about what kinky idea you have for us that night.”

“See, it’s all about the sex?”  He says disheartened.

“No, my sweet lover boy.”  I say tenderly.  “I love our Saturday mornings watching the sun rise above the buildings while we lay in bed snuggling.  I love the way you put your hand on my forearm when we’re out to dinner, warding off potential suitors you see eying me up.”  He pulls back and looks me in the eyes. “Yes, I may have blonde highlights in my hair, but give me some credit.  I know guys and girls want me.  I also know…and I hope you do,” I pause and look in the eyes, “I don’t want anyone else.”  He leans back in.  “I also love when you bake me cookies, knowing chocolate chip are my weakness.”  I lean back, put my hands on the sides of his face and lick his nose.  He smiles.  I kiss him.  My unit stirs, so does his.   “Are you really sure you want to have a three-way?”  He nods ever so slightly.  “Ok.  With Kyle? He’s your closest friend.  As I said earlier, I don’t want do anything that would jeopardize your relationship with him.”

“Do you know someone else who’d be interested?”  I stare off into space trying to think of someone. He continues, “I realize he may say no and give the same reasons you just listed, but I would feel more at ease with someone I know, rather than a stranger.  It wouldn’t hurt to ask, even if he declines.”  He cracks a pleading smile.

I relent and sigh internally.  “Ok.”  He smiles.  I continue, “How do we want to do this?  Ask him at the bar while he is working or at a time when he’s off?”  Ming turns and walks back toward the sofa, thinking.  I feel the heat of the sun climbing my legs.  I continue to stand there, stark naked.  I look past his shoulder to the other side of the apartment and out the windows.  I see the buildings on the other side of the street thru the thin curtains.  The blue sky, a few birds fly by. I think, our relationship is about to take a huge sidestep, either for the better or maybe the worse.  I need to be sure Ming is not hurt.

I walk over to him, bring him back into an embrace. He says, “I can give him a call and see if he can stop by before his shift today.”  I feel his hands run up and down my back, caressing me.  I nod.  We separate.  I walk back to the sofa and pull my sweatpants and t-shirt back on.  Ming walks to the counter where his phone is.  He dials Kyle.  I hear it ringing as the room is very quiet and still.  Kyle picks up.  Ming turns toward me and says, “Hey Kyle, good Saturday morning.  Not too early for you is it?  Ok, good...Yeah, I’m good, so’s Cam…Hey buddy, would you be able to stop by on your way to work today?  We’ve got a question for you...Nah, it’d be easier to ask in person...No, nothing’s wrong…Yes, we’re fine.”  He winks at me.  “No, you don’t need your bat.”  He winks at me again.  “Cool, thanks buddy.  See you soon.” 

“Well that wasn’t awkward at all.”  I laugh.  “I guess he thought I fucked up again?” Ming shrugs.  “How much you want to bet he brings the bat anyway.” 

Ming laughs out loud and walks over to me.  He puts his hands on my ass and pulls me close.  “Muscles, you’re fine.  Stop worrying.  He’s only threatened you twice with the bat.”

“Um, three times.”

“Oh, you still count that one time?  Stop being such a princess about it.  You were wrong and you even admitted it.  That’s all that matters.”  He kisses me and gets a firm grip on my ass cheeks. “Now, go get the dry mop and make a quick pass thru this place.  You live like a slob and I don’t want him to see it.”  He turns me toward the hallway and swats my ass.

A quick 15 minutes later the place looks better.  There’s a buzz as Kyle’s at the entrance.  Ming rings him in and opens the door a bit.  He takes a deep breath.  I watch him and say softly, “There’s still time to change your mind.”  He shakes his head from side to side. “Ok.”  I walk to him and stand behind him, my hands around his waist. 

“Hey guys, you there?”  We hear Kyle yell up the stairwell.

“Yeah, Kyle, we’re here.”  Ming says back to him. 

I can hear his size 12’s clomping up the stairs, two at a time.  He appears at the door, gives it a quick knock, pushes it open, and steps into the room.  Seeing him outside of work, I know why Ming likes him.  At 5’11”, 200lbs, he’s solid guy.  He goes to a garage gym off Washington Ave and is there every weekday morning until his shift starts.  His orange hair is unruly and curling up.  He’s said he’s growing it out for a while and then is going to shave it down to a crew cut for the summer.  Still sporting a couple days stubble and I see orange hair poking up thru the top of his shirt.  Ming said he’s pretty much hair from head to toe.  I asked him how he knew if they hadn’t slept together.  Ming got red and punched me and shyly said he got a glimpse of him while he was taking a shower.  I laughed at him and he punched me again.  He’s wearing a battered t-shirt and gym shorts. 

Ming breaks free of my hold and walks over to him.  He gives Kyle a quick hug and peck on the cheek.  Kyle does the same back. 

He glances over to me and I nod to him.  He nods back.  It’s like we’re two Silverback Gorillas’ protecting our territory, which happens to be Ming. 

Ming breaks their embrace, “Do you want a glass of water or something?”  He heads to the kitchen area and Kyle and I follow.  “I thought you were on your way to work.  Those are not your normal work clothes.” Leave it Ming to notice everything.  “You going to have enough time to get home to get changed and back to work in time?”  He’s starting to ramble. 

I interject, “Ming, Kyle is a big boy.  I’m sure he knows how long it takes him to get home and then to work on time.” Ming rolls his eyes at me and Kyles glances between the two of us.

The room falls silent.  Ming starts to fill the glasses.  He finishes and hands one to Kyle.  He looks at me over Kyle’s shoulder, like he wants me to ask the question.  I raise an eyebrow and ever so slightly nod towards Kyle. 

Kyle catches my nod and asks, “Ok, guys, what’s up?”  He looks at Ming, who hesitates and looks over to me.  Kyle turns and looks at me and a cloud of frustration comes over his face. “Another fight?”  I see him clench his right fist.

I put my hands up, palms out, and say, “Ask Ming, this is his show.”  Kyle stares at me for another moment and turns back to Ming. 

“Come on buddy spill it.”  Ming looks petrified.  He opens his mouth, but it seems he’s having his doubts.

“Um, well,”  He starts out softly, “I was wondering...well we were wondering,”  He nods toward me and Kyle looks to me and then back to Ming, “Would you be interested, in um…how would you feel about…You can say no, it’s no problem.  Don’t feel obligated to say yes.”  He’s rambling again.  “You know how I feel about our friendship and I don’t want to do anything…not that we have to do anything, but I was wondering if, you know…”  He looks away and turns toward the sink.  Kyle is completely baffled and looks back at me and then back to Ming.

“Jiao-Long Ming.” I cut in, “Just ask him.”  He quickly turns and his eyes flare at me and I nod to him to get on with it.  “It’s like ripping a band-aid off, only hurts for a few seconds.”

Ming angerly says back, “Asking him if he wants to be in a 3-way with us is not like ripping a band-aid off.”  He turns 3 shades of deeper red and his mouth hangs open like he wants to yell at me, but the words won’t come out.

Kyle whispers, “Oh.”  He is now staring at Ming and takes a step to him.  He puts a hand on his shoulder and turns him so they are face to face.  Ming is so nervous; I can see him shaking.  Kyle embraces him and leans his head down over Ming’s.   They break apart and Kyle looks to me with curiosity in his eyes.  I give the slightest nod. He raises an eyebrow and I nod again. 

Ming angerly says, “I’m fucking standing right here you two. Stop with the silent conversation.  I can sense what’s going on.”  I grin and so does Kyle.  “What the fuck.”  He says hopelessly. 

I say, “We’re just making sure you’re ok with your request.”  I glance to Kyle and it’s his turn to nod.

“Mingster,” He starts out tenderly.  “I care about you like a brother; you know that?”  Ming nods like he saw that comment coming.  Kyle sensing Ming’s frustration continues, “I don’t want to mess up our friendship.” He pauses, looking for the right words, “Once you and Cam got together, I put aside all thoughts of taking you to bed.”  Another pause, “I’ve liked you since the first time we met and I thought we had a chance.  You picked Cam.  I understand that.  He’s a great guy.”  He nods in my direction.  “I don’t see how us having a 3-way would do anything but hurt all our friendships, yours and Cam’s especially.” 

Ming walks to the sofa and sits on the edge.  Kyle and I follow and I sit next to him while Kyle squats in front of him.  Ming looks up, opens his mouth again, but again, nothing comes out.  I put my hand on his back and rub it around, gently massaging him.  I know what’s about to happen and I think Kyle does too.  We’re getting ready for it.

Kyle continues, “Look at it from my perspective.  It’s almost like you want to compare me against Cam, and see if you chose the right guy.  That’s not fair to us or you.”  Ming looks up with astonishment on his face.  I hadn’t thought of that reason.  He continues, “You and Cam have a good thing, let me ask why do you even want to try a 3-way.” 

Ming hesitates and quietly says, “To spice things up.  Try something a bit different.”  He nods to me and goes on, “We’re fine, but I want to try something different.” 

Kyle’s face softens and relaxes.  “’Be happy with what you have’ is something my Nana used to say when I was young and always looking at what the rich kids had.”  Ming nods.  “You may think spicing things up by having a three-way is the way to go, but how about trying something different between the two of you?”  Ming turns toward me and I smile a knowing smile.

We sit for another few minutes and chat about mundane stuff, work, working out, new movies, meeting up for lunch one day.  Ming seems to be getting better.

Kyle takes off.  Ming and I resume our Saturday morning activities.  He does not bring up the three-way idea.  I’m sure he’s still sore about Kyle not wanting to do it. 

Saturday passes into Sunday, then Monday.  It’s mid-afternoon and I haven’t heard a word from him, which is weird.  We’re always texting each other during the day, just to see how things are.  I send him a racy picture of myself in a thong with a smiley emoji.  He doesn’t respond.  Eh, maybe he’s busy.

I get home from work, but Ming isn’t there.  He normally beats me home on Monday’s, even if he hits the gym.  I call his cell.  It goes to voicemail.  I send him a text, but do not get a quick response.  If he’s still at the gym, it’s in his locker.  I don’t panic.  Half an hour later he sends me a text back.  He was held up at work which lead him to getting to the gym later. A sigh of relief passes over me.  I text back a thumbs up and say I’ll get dinner started. 

He comes in 30 minutes later, still sweaty.  He walks up to me and give leans in to give me a kiss.  I put my hand on his chest to keep him at arms-length.  “You’re awfully sweaty for a cardio night workout.”  I say with a raised eyebrow.  He shrugs his shoulders and says he went an extra 15 minutes on the elliptical and then lifted for another ten minutes.  “My little muscle monster looking to make gains.”  I put my hands on his cheeks and pull him back in for a longer kiss, no longer worrying about his sweaty shirt. 

Tuesday and Wednesday, we seem to be back to normal.  Thursday, he’s late again.  I guess he got stuck at work again.  He comes in and I notice the beginnings of a bruise on his cheek.  He comes in for a kiss and I tenderly touch it and ask, “Where did this come from?”  He touches it, looks away, and shamefully says he walked into a door at work.  “You walked into a door with your face?”  I ask not quite believing him. 

He jokingly says, “Yeah, I was having an animated conversation with Corey while walking to lunch, and was so engrossed, I didn’t see it until I turned, and ‘bam’.  I nearly went down.”  He rocks his head back to show me what happened.  I wince in pain.  “Yeah, a couple aspirin and an ice pack on it all afternoon.  I hit the Urgent Care in the building after work to make sure I don’t have a concussion.  They said I’ll be fine.”  I reach out to touch the purplish area again and he pulls back.  “Still a bit tender.  I’m going to go get a quick shower.”  He turns and walks toward the bedroom.  He yells over his shoulder, “Could you please get a small bag of ice ready for me Muscles, thanks.”

I say ok, but he’s already in the bedroom and I hear the shower turn on.  For the rest of the evening I find myself continually staring at the bruise. 

Friday morning it has turned into a real shiner.  He says it really hurts, but not enough for him to miss work.  I reluctantly say ok.  He pops some aspirin and heads out. 

I sit at the table and finish my juice and think he has not mentioned the three-way or Kyle all week.  Could he have really gotten over it that quickly?  As anxious as he was to ask Kyle and then get turned down, I thought he would have talked about it a bit more, pushed to try something different, ask someone else, anything.  But nothing.  Weird. 

Today is a short day for me a work.  Just a quick 4-hour shift from 2 to 6. I head out a bit early and stop in the bar where Kyle works, knowing he’ll be there as he opens on Fridays.  I wander in and he sees me.  He nods when I take a stool at the end of the bar.  He comes over and we shake.  “What brings you in here so early buddy?”  I shrug as my mood is darkening.  I have a gut feeling Ming is hiding something, but I don’t know what.  I’m brought out of my thoughts as he cheerfully says, “Well, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, you want a beer?”

“What?”  I say with surprise in my voice.

“Beer, drink, noon? You ok buddy?” 

“Oh, no... sorry. Hey,” Now it’s my turn to be hesitant.  Kyle senses it and leans over the bar.  I ask, almost in a whisper, “Have you seen or talked to Ming recently?” 

He leans back, obviously taken aback and asks with all seriousness, “Cam, is Ming ok?”

I look him in the eyes and say with equal seriousness, “I don’t know.”  I see his mind start to churn and his eyes cloud over.  I explain what’s happened over the past few days and that it’s nothing serious, just a bit out the ordinary.  He agrees it’s a bit odd, especially for Ming. 

“Have you asked him about it?”  He questions me.

“No, it didn’t strike me as odd until this morning.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know exactly.  Just the way he reacted to this bruise, like it was nothing.  It just hurt, but nothing else.”  I look to Kyle with a sense of dread.  “Am I over-reacting, being overprotective?”

He tries to lighten the mood by saying, “Being overprotective is my job.”  I mockingly frown at him and he grins back.  “Well, at least you reacted.” I smile. “To be honest with you Cam, I’d need to talk to him and get a feel for him.  Would you mind if I asked him to come in tonight alone?  I’ll ask him how things are going, etc, and get a look at his shiner. I’ll call you afterwards and you can join him.”

“Works for me.”  I sense of relief washes over me and Kyle sees it. “Thanks Kyle.”

“Cam, we both care for Ming.  If something’s up and he’s not telling us about it, we need to figure it out.”  I nod.  We set the details and I head off to work.  About an hour later I get a text from Kyle saying Ming is going to stop by the bar around 5:30, as he has an errand to run right after work.  I text back saying ok and that I’ll wait to hear from him. 

The afternoon passes as slow as molasses in January in Maine.  The shop seems to be slower than normal and my co-worker, Ellie asks if everything is ok as I seem out of sorts, not my cheerful stuff.  She’s a cute 20-year-old who works part-time making money for college.  She fills out her blouse like I fill out my polo.  Her mouse brown hair is cut to accentuate her round face and creamy white skin.  I just say some stuff is going on at home, but it’s fine.  She puts her hand on top of mine and says if I ever need to talk, she is there for me.  I say thanks and say I’m going to head into the warehouse in the back and do inventory to stay busy.  I tell her that If she needs me, just yell.  She says ok. 

I head to the back, unlocking the warehouse door as I go.  The warehouse is basically the adjoining rowhome which has been gutted and retrofitted with shelves and some hand carts.  The owner of the shop bought both the store front and the rowhome at the same time explaining it would be more cost efficient to have just enough inventory on hand at all times.  He keeps the store front sleek and has minimal inventory sitting out.  This helps cut down on theft as much of our stuff is higher end computer equipment.  But since we do a large amount of online business and ship from the store, we need to keep a steady amount of stock in the back.  As I enter, I see the recent shipments have arrived.  They need to be entered into the system and put onto the shelves.  I walk to my locker and strip off my work polo and toss on one of the older t-shirts I keep here, just for this occasion.  No need to get my work polo all sweaty.  If I need to head back up front, I can just switch shirts again and no one knows. 

I get the new inventory logged in, in about 30 minutes.  I then start to stock it.  The space isn’t cramped, but the aisles are narrow and the ceiling is about 11 feet high.  I’ve found it’s easier for me to just carry everything to the shelves they are supposed to be on, rather than to use the cart.  It ends up being a good workout.  The monitors come in boxes which are very awkward to carry, but end up being the best for me to work out my arms and legs.  I’ve tried stacking a few up, but end up bumping into the shelves, so I keep it down to 2 or so.  There is a ladder laying around so I get stuff to the upper shelves.  I get a good pace going and have stocked all the new inventory.  I check my watch and see it’s 6:30. Damn, where did the time go?  I strip off my t-shirt which is covered in sweat, grab a towel and dry off.  I put on some fresh deodorant, and put my work polo back on and head back to the front. 

As I enter, I see Ellie helping a customer.  She sees me in her peripheral vision.  I walk behind the counter and see my phone is sitting there.  It’s blinking, meaning I have messages.  I completely forgot I left it out here.  No wonder I lost track of time.  I unlock it and see half a dozen messages from Kyle, starting around 6.  Ellie finishes with her customer and walks over to me.  “It started beeping and ringing about 30 minutes ago. I couldn’t break free from my customer to come get you.”  She says apologetically.  “I hope everything is ok.”  I start to read the messages. 

6:00 – Hey Cam, just letting you know Ming has not showed up yet.  He’s late.  I’ll give him another 5 minutes and then shoot him a text.

6:10 – Still no word, I’m sending him a text.  I’m going to call him if I don’t hear back from him.  Call me when you get this.

6:25 – Cam, are you done work?  Still no word from Ming, now I’m getting worried.  Call me.

6:30 – Dude, get here as soon as you can.  Ming just showed up and something’s up. 

“Fuck.”  I whisper roughly.  Ellie catches my expletive. “I need to go.”

She casually says, “Well, your shift ended half an hour ago.  Just take off.”  I’m already half way thru the store and out the door when she finishes.

The bar is 8 blocks away.  I dial Kyle as I hit the sidewalk.  He picks up on the first ring.  All he says is “Get here.”  And he clicks off.  I start to panic.  I push the phone into my front pocket and break into a sprint.

Friday in Philly at 6:30. Traffic is a fucking mess and the sidewalks are packed with people leaving work and heading out to dinner.  Families with kids, old people, bikers, all on the sidewalk. I start to run thru the crowds, bumping into kids, and saying excuse me more times than I have ever said in my whole life.  I almost knock a biker into the brick half wall to my right.  He yells at me and I flip him the finger as I recede from him.  I get to an intersection and traffic is jammed up and stopped.  I half check to make sure no one is moving and sprint across it.  The next block is a construction zone for the building.  The sidewalk is under protective cover and people and crammed inside it.  I check traffic again and decide to run on the road.  I get three quarters down the block when I hear a SEPTA bus honking at me from behind. I kick it into high gear and run to the end of the block and jump back onto the sidewalk.  The bus speeds past me and I see the driver staring at me and yelling an obscenity.  I flip him off and cross the next intersection to the sounds of horns. 

I’m at the final intersection and can see the bar from where I’m standing.  I realize I’m sweating profusely and tears are rolling down my cheeks.  I can’t cross.  Traffic is zipping by on the green light.  My eyes keep darting from the light to the bar and back. My heart is beating so hard and fast it seems like everyone around me can hear it.  I see the light finally turns yellow.  I glance to my right and see traffic is not slowing down.  I step off the curb, but not into the road.  It turns red and one last car comes speeding thru. I guess their emergency is more important than mine. I am thru the intersection as it passes and at the bar door.  I yank it open and step into a shoulder to shoulder crowd.  I quickly scan the packed room. No Ming, no Kyle.  I work my way up to the bar and the other bartender sees me and nods towards the back office without saying a word. 

I work my way back to the office and open the door and time slows to a crawl. The office is small and cramped.  There is a desk with a laptop on it and two chairs.  It smells musty.  Ming is in an office chair and I take one look at him, gasp, fall to my knees in front of him, and tears start to stream down my face.  Kyle is off to one side and puts a hand on my shoulder and gently squeezes.

I reach my hands out and Ming slowly takes them into his.  I see cuts and scrapes on the backs of his hands, with some drying blood. I run my index finger over a cut to get rid of some of the blood.  Ming flinches in pain.  I stop. My eyes wander up his arms and I can see more cuts with blood.  I see a few lacerations on the front of his legs.  He’s still wearing his gym shorts and t-shirt.  There is more blood on both.  His t-shirt is green, but where there is blood, it’s now a dark, ugly purplish color.  The harsh, bright light in the office gives his skin an ugly shiny pallor.

I am hesitant to make eye contact with him.  I know it will be painful, but I need to do it.  Before I do, I ask in a quiet, subdued voice, “Who did this to you Ming?”  He is silent.  “Please Ming,” I ask pleadingly, “Please tell me, or Kyle, or the police.”

He suddenly, almost violently, forcefully mumbles, “No police.”  This makes my head snap up to face him. 

When I see his chest and face, I gasp.  There are multiple cuts on his neck and cheeks.  He now has two black eyes and his upper lip has a cut too.  There’s fresh blood coming out of the cut on his lips, which was probably caused by his talking.  I continue to stare at his face and see his beautiful blue eyes are full of pain and anguish.  A tear falls out of his right eye and travels down by his nose towards his upper lip.  It starts out clear, but picks up blood and is pink when it reaches his lip. His tongue flicks out and wipes the tear off his lip.  I reach my hands out for his upper arms, just so I can touch him and let him know I am there for him.  As my hands touch him, I can feel him flinch some more, but less than before.  I put my hands on his upper arms and want to move them up and down to warm him up, but he curls away from me and pulls his arms and legs up so he is a fetal position on the chair.  His hair is mussed and I can see some blood in it too. 

I stand up and feel Kyle put an arm around my shoulder.  I can’t tell if it’s there to support me standing, or as a show of support.  Either way, it is welcome.  My head begins to spin a bit as I take in the full view of my Ming and the violence which has occurred to him.  I wobble a bit and Kyle’s other hand comes up and grabs my arm.  He maneuvers me to the other chair and I collapse into it.

There’s a soft knock at the door.  I hear Kyle open it, say thanks, and close it again.  I keep my eyes on Ming. He slowly moves his legs back down to the floor. 

Kyle has the bar’s medical kit in one hand a couple bar towels in the other.  The towels are wet and I see a bit of steam coming off them.  He moves in front of Ming and kneels down.  He very gently taps one of the towels to a cut on his leg.  Ming jerks his leg at first but after a second is fine.  I wince in pain with him. 

I realize my breathing has been erratic.  I close my eyes and take a deep breath.  I hold it for a few seconds and slowly exhale thru my nose.  I take a few more breaths and feel my body relaxing.  In my mind I try to piece together what could have happened, but know that until Ming tells us, everything is just speculation. I open my eyes and look to Ming again.  My anger and pain are still there, but are now in the background.  My first concern is to make sure he is ok. 

I put a hand on Kyle’s shoulder, he looks up, offers me a towel, I take it, and pick up where he left off.  The towel has cooled a bit, but when I touch it to a cut on Ming’s arm, he still flinches.  The towel is turning bright pink.  Ming doesn’t seem to notice.  He’s either looking at the wall over my head or has his eyes closed.  The air in the room seems to be getting stuffy.  I look up at his face, into his eyes, and gently ask again, “Ming, please tell us what happened.” 

He quietly and slowly says, “I…made…a mistake…” then he falls silent again.  He closes his eyes and I see some tears begin to form.  I glance over my shoulder to Kyle who frowns and shrugs his shoulders, indicating he does not know what it means.  I hear Ming take another breath and continue, “I wanted to try something different and…” My first thought is uh-oh.  I turn again and Kyle has raised his eyebrows.  We’re on the same page and are getting an idea as to what happened.

Kyle asks, “How did you meet them?”  His voice has an edge to it.

“Online.”, Again, almost a whisper.

Kyle looks around the room, sees Ming’s gym bag, opens it and takes out his phone.  He opens the phone, unlocks it, (guess Ming gave him the code too) and starts to scroll thru the list of recent calls and texts.  His eyes grow wide for a second and then return to normal.  Ming opens his eyes, sees Kyle with his phone and reaches out to take it back.  Kyle turns away and Ming angerly says, “Stop.  Those are private messages.”

“Not anymore Mingster.”  Kyle says in a voice that means don’t fuck with him.  He turns, looks into Ming’s eyes and continues, addressing both of us with the same tone, “I’m going to find the guys who did this to you and cause them just as much pain.”  He looks back down at the phone, scrolls thru a few more texts, stops, and says, “I know where this address is.”  He starts to get up.  Ming reaches out and grabs his arm.  Kyle turns and sees the pain in Ming’s eyes.  He leans down, kisses him on the forehead, and runs his hand along his cheek.  He opens the door and steps out, closing it behind him.   

Ming looks into my eyes for the first time.  He pleadingly says, “Cam, I’m so sorry…I don’t know what I was thinking.  Please go after Kyle.” He nods his head toward the door. “Don’t let him get hurt or into trouble.  The guys…they’re…just…mean…Please.” 

I put my hand on his forearm and carefully say, “We’re not done here Ming.” I don’t want to sound cruel, but he’s done something to shake the foundation of our relationship.  “You need to stay here.” He nods. 

I get up and leave the office.  The bar is still crowded.  I can see Kyle behind the bar getting his jacket and the bat.  I think, ‘Uh-oh’, and hurriedly work my way thru the crowd to him.  He doesn’t see me come up behind him.    I place my hand on his left shoulder, he jerks around, sees me, and I nod to him.  He nods back, grabs a second bat and holds it up.  I take it.  We wade through the crowd.  People see the determined look on our faces and the bats and move aside.  He leads us out of the bar through the back door.  We are in the alley behind the bar.

I take a deep breath.  The air stinks of garbage, stale beer, cigarettes, and exhaust fumes from vehicles on the road.  I hear the cars and trucks braking at the light, their engines idling, then revving in anticipation of the green.  I can hear the people on the sidewalk.  Their voices are a jumble, but I can hear bits and pieces of conversations as they pass.  The stars are out, but it is clouding up and they are slowly fading.  The city lights are still bright.  The street lamp in the alley casts a harsh yellow light and creates weird shadows as it hits the dumpster and fences.  As I take this all in Kyle is pacing around the alley with a determined look on his face.  He’s pounding the bat into his right hand with his left.

He circles around me a few times, mumbling to himself, heads over to the fence, and ferociously beats the bat against a steel support pole for the fence.  He continues to beat the bat against the pole until I hear the bat splinter and break into pieces.  Shards of wood fly everywhere.  The bat is ruined, but he continues to hit the pole with what’s left of the hilt. When he’s done, the bat is just a bunch of splinters on the ground and there is a sizeable dent in the pole. Kyle is sweating profusely.  His orange hair is matted to his head and I see sweat rolling down his cheeks.  He turns, completely faces me, and in an angry voice, full of spit and fury, screams, “AAuuuggghhhh”. He then falls to his knees and begins to weep.  He angerly tosses the ruined bat away. It clatters against the fence as an unseen rodent scurries through the debris, into the darkness, and away from the noise.  He looks up to me.  I walk over to him and put a hand on his shoulder.  He is still full of rage, but his voice is unnervingly calm, “I want to go fuck those guys up right now.” I nod in agreement but know he’s having second thoughts.

I watch as he pulls his phone out of his jacket pocket, dials a number and waits for an answer.  As it’s ringing, he pulls out Ming’s phone, opens it again, and scrolls thru the messages.  I hear a voice on the other end of his voice answer, Kyle tersely says, “Hey Mack…not so good…Cam’s here with me. Ming was beaten up tonight…pretty bad…no the first time from what Cam says…don’t think it was.”. He looks up to me and I nod and hold up one finger indicating I think there was at least one other time where I think Ming was hit.  He nods and says to Mack, “At least one other time…we don’t know…he’s not saying too much…I have his phone and have what I think is the address…based on the text stream…He didn’t like that I took it, no…he’s in the bar office in pretty bad shape, cuts and bruises…yeah, let me read it off to you.” Kyle reads off the address, which is surprisingly close to the bar. 

I swivel my body around to get my bearings and realize it’s only 2 blocks over and 2 blocks down from where we are.  Kyle is still talking to Mack, but I am behind him.  I start towards the end of the block as my anger rises and a tear rolls down my cheek.  I get to the end, turn left, and take 2 steps.  I feel a strong hand on my shoulder.  I try to jerk away, but the hand is firm.  “Don’t do it.”  Kyle says.  His voice is right next to my left ear and has a stern calmness to it.  “Let Mack handle it.”  I try to flinch again, but his hand holds tight to my trap.  He evenly says, “Don’t make me pick you up and carry you back into the bar.  You know I can and will.”  I know he can.  My shoulders go slack, the bat falls out of my hand, bounces on the sidewalk once, falls over, and rolls to the fence.  I stare off into space.  He continues, “Mack has a couple of his men heading over there and 2 guys on their way here to talk to Ming.  He’s going to need you in there.”  I relent as my mind sees Ming sitting in the chair with his cuts and bruises.  My breathing becomes ragged and I almost topple over again.  Kyle quickly moves an arm around my waist and we take two steps back to the fence.  I fall back into it and slump to the ground.  Kyle kneels in front of me.  He looks into my eyes and says, “Cam, I know this is a tough time for all of us, you especially, but I need you to pull it together and be strong for Ming.”  My mouth hangs open. I want to tell him to go to hell.  Ming is my boyfriend, not his. A bunch of other mean and nasty thoughts float thru my mind.  I hear him say, “You trying to catch flies in that trap?”  I snap my mouth shut and give him a dirty look.  “Good, nice to see you’re back.  Can you stand?”  I nod and start to get up.  He offers me a hand and I take it.  He clamps an arm around my shoulder and leads me back down the alley to the backdoor of the bar.

We get to the backdoor, he turns, looks me in the eyes, and says, “You looked fucked up.”

“Yeah…well…pot calling the kettle black, Orange.”  He smirks. I say, “I’ll hit the men’s room.”

He unlocks the door and we go back in.  I head to the bathroom and he heads straight for the office.  As I push into the bathroom, there’s another guy using the head.  I go to the sink, turn the warm water on and as it gets hot, I look in the mirror and think, ‘damn, he’s right, I do look fucked up.’

I bend over and splash water on my face.  I distantly hear someone say, “Nice…ass…dude.”  I’m taken aback.  I stand straight up, turn around, and see the guy from the urinal checking me out.

He’s kind of good looking, but I say, “Sorry buddy, taken.” 

He puts on a pouty face, shrugs his shoulders, and walks up to the sink. “Well, if you ever find yourself ‘free’”, He finishes washing and drying his hands, runs a hand up and down my right bicep, “You just let me know.”  He winks at me, ogles my package, and continues, “We could have a lot of fun, muscle-boy.”  He winks at me again, turns, and as he’s leaving, slaps me on the ass.

I stand there thinking, ‘what the fuck just happened?’ Then I snap out of it.  Ming.  I hurry out of the bathroom and over to the office.  The bar is still semi-crowded.  I see the guy from the bathroom walking to the far side of the bar.  Not a bad looking ass on him. 

I get to the office door and knock, then open the door.  Ming is still in the chair, putting his phone into his pocket.  Kyle is next to him in a second chair. The cops are not here yet.  Kyle gets up and offers me the chair to sit next to Ming.  I stand in front of him, bend over, and tenderly put an arm around his shoulder and gently hug him.  I kiss his forehead, then sit next to him.  I turn our chairs so they are facing each other.  “Ming, how are you?”  He looks up, the bruises are getting worse, as they will over the next few days.  The cuts have stopped bleeding and scabs are starting to form.  He’s still staring off into space.  I put my left hand on his right cheek and carefully caress him.  He flinches again, but only a bit.  Another tear escapes his eye and rolls down his cheek. 

“Ok.”  He mumbles. “I’m so sorry.”  I shush him.  He tries to speak again, but I put my hands-on top of his.  He falls silent.  I run my fingers over his knuckles and wrists.  He looks up and I meet his eyes.  He says, “Cam.” I move so our foreheads are touching.  I shush him again.

 I quietly say, “It’ll be ok.  I’m here.” I keep our foreheads together and add, “Kyle called the cops.” He breaks our connection and looks at Kyle.  I softly say, “He had to.  You were assaulted.” He looks from Kyle to me and back again.  Another tear rolls down his face.  “Some cops went to the house and two are on their way here to talk to you.”

“I can’t.  They’ll come after me.”  I glance over my shoulder to Kyle and see his eyes flare up. 

“I don’t think so buddy.” I say.

Kyle adds, “Let them try.”  The terseness is back in his voice.  He’d love to have one of them try something.  It’d give him a reason to break another bat.

There is a quick rap on the door and it opens.  The other bartender is standing there and there are 2 cops behind him.  Kyle nods and the cops come in.  Introductions are made and they ask to speak to Ming in private.  I start to protest, but Kyle catches my eye and nods to the door.  I relent, lean down, and give Ming a gentle hug.  I say, “I’ll be right outside if you need me.”  I caress the side of his face and he puts his left hand on top of mine.  I can feel him softly run his fingers along mine in a way which means he loves me. 

Kyle and I leave the office.  As the door shuts, I turn and see Ming watching me go.  His eyes have sadness to them, but also a fear.  The fear of having to relive his story as he tells it to the cops.  I feel Kyle put his hand on my shoulder and gently squeeze, a reassurance that everything will be ok, if not today, then at some point in the future.

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