Blessed by the Sunbyikhneumon©
Depictions of unprotected sex in this story are to be understood as taking place within the context of a committed monogamous relationship.
"Are we there yet?" Jeremy grouses from where he sits slumped in the passenger seat, not opening his eyes.
"Almost there, babe," I respond, reaching over to pat his left thigh. His grouchy demeanor is all an act, I know. Jer's been looking forward to this outing as much as I have, if not more. But he's not a morning person — I learned that right at the start of our relationship, so I'm long since used to it now — and after crawling out of bed at the crack of dawn, I think he feels he has to complain just for form's sake.
It is a long drive, I silently acknowledge to myself, well over an hour from Long Beach, with a fairly demanding hike following that. This tradition was a lot easier to maintain when we lived in Aliso Viejo, a convenient fifteen miles up the freeway. But it's our anniversary tradition, all the more meaningful now in light of what happened just a few days ago.
Our freeway exit comes into view at last, and I breathe a sigh of relief, rolling my shoulders to relieve the tension of driving. Jeremy feels the change in velocity as we take the offramp, opens his beautiful sleepy brown eyes, and sits up to look out the window. "Looks like it'll be a clear one," he observes, studying the sky. I nod absently, focused on navigating around a surfboard-laden pickup truck. Southern California beaches in June can be a dicey prospect. Jer and I have spent a couple times down here bundled in sweatshirts and jeans, waiting in vain for the sun to peek through the clouds. June gloom, they call it. It seems luck is going to be with us this trip.
The long narrow stretch of road leading to the state park takes us right past "The Boobs," the twin domes of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. I hear Jeremy snicker softly to himself as we drive by. For some reason that juvenile nickname never fails to get a rise out of him. Personally, I prefer the more morbid jokes about glow-in-the-dark radioactive fish being spotted in the nearby ocean.
The park ranger glowers at us suspiciously when I pay the day-use fee at the park entrance. He knows, or thinks he knows, why we're here, and doesn't approve. I pretend not to notice his hostility, politely thank him, and Scotch-tape the grudgingly proffered parking permit to the inside of my windshield. Moments later we're through the gate and heading onward toward our destination. It'll be yet another ten minutes' drive to the parking lot, past a long stretch of campsites and coastal scrub lining the bluffs above the Pacific. The breeze coming through the open window teases my nose with the bittersweet aromas of sage and fennel and just a hint of salt water.
Our early start this morning has paid off, as has our decision to play hooky from work and come down here on Friday, the day of the solstice, instead of waiting for Saturday. Many times on summer weekends there isn't a parking space available, but today I have no difficulty finding a spot.
Jeremy is out of the car and stretching gratefully before I even have the key out of the ignition, his earlier irritability already forgotten. I pause to admire the way his shirt rides up on his torso, exposing a delectable strip of bare skin. I woke up naked next to that body just a couple of hours ago; how can a mere few inches of his midsection have me mesmerized like this? As if he could hear my thoughts, Jeremy's eyes snap to mine. Busted. He laughs, and slaps the roof of the car, causing me to jump. "Get moving, Eric, you can admire the scenery later," he calls out.
I wind up admiring the scenery throughout the entire precarious trek a hundred feet down from the top of the bluff to the beach. Jeremy's sturdy legs and rounded ass dance enticingly inside his cargo shorts, ahead of me and just out of reach the entire way. There's a grace to his movements that never fails to enthrall me, so different from my own stiff, angular stride. I could easily convince myself that inside his head he's always listening to some exotic Latin beat, a personal soundtrack he carries with him wherever he goes.
We're an exercise in contrasts, the pair of us. I'm lanky, all long legs and neck, skinny limbs and flat pecs. Even though we're within an inch of each other in height, my build always gives the impression that I'm much taller than Jeremy. He's solid, compact, and well-muscled, built for strength and endurance. I'm dirty blond and gray-eyed, and, thanks to my Irish mother, pale-skinned with a tendency to redden if I don't drench myself in sunscreen. Jeremy inherited his silky black hair and brown skin from his Mexican-American father. "Cinnamon and sugar," our friends call us, whenever they think they can get away with it. I flash them my best disapproving Spock eyebrow whenever I hear it. Jeremy just laughs.
* * *
We met here at San Onofre, six years ago. He was visiting with a group of friends, both excited and a little intimidated by his first time visiting a nude beach. I was — well, there's no delicate way to put this — I was there cruising for sex.
I was only twenty-three and horny as hell. Not long into my studies at the university in Irvine, I'd learned about San Onofre, and heard that guys would sometimes go down there to hook up. There was no nightlife to speak of in Irvine, and I wasn't much into the drinking and drugs scene over in Laguna Beach. Besides, I was still living with my parents until I graduated, so I couldn't bring anyone home, and the thought of going to some stranger's home creeped me out. Trolling the beach for hookups had its own risks, with a high potential for entrapment and disease, but I allowed myself to indulge whenever the need got too intense to ignore.
I'd quickly learned that sex on the beach was a huge turn-on. The simple act of shedding my clothes, of being bare to the sun and the wind, felt like letting go of a lifetime of inhibition. As long as I was careful and always carried protection with me, I could give in to my body's craving for touch without having to deal with the uncertainty of first dates or the awkwardness of trying to make conversation with strangers in a bar or club. Down here, it was just men like me letting loose together, no pretenses or expectations beyond having a hot good time in the great outdoors.
Six years ago the solstice was also on a Friday, and, just like today, I was at the beach playing hooky from work, anxious to scratch the itch. Jeremy and his friends were in the middle of a vigorous game of Frisbee when I passed their way and paused to admire the view. What? I was single and on the prowl, and they were a bunch of healthy young males engaged in naked athletic pursuits. Of course I was going to check them out! As I watched, the ever-present Pacific breeze stilled for a moment. Just then, something must have spooked the crows that nested in the crevices of the sandstone cliffs above our heads. An entire flock of them — a murder, I've heard it called — came bursting out, cawing wildly, wheeling over our heads, and drawing my eyes out toward the ocean.
What happened next is a matter of controversy. What I saw, and Jeremy backs me up on this, was the most perfect specimen of manhood I had ever laid eyes on, tall, tan, golden-haired, and big in all the right places, striding naked out of the surf, with dazzling sunlight reflecting off the spray and foam around him. I stood there slack-jawed at the vision. Jeremy saw him, too, and swears the guy even winked at him. Of course, Jer happened to be pursuing an errant Frisbee at the time, and in his distraction he plowed right into me.
When I found my bearings again, the blond vision had disappeared, and I was sprawled out in the sand with my arms pleasantly full of a nude, extremely cute, extremely apologetic little Latino stud. My dick, which had been hovering at half mast all morning, was fully erect and happily nudging against his balls. Even better, his thick uncut tool was equally hard and leaking pre-cum where it pressed into my abs.
Once they had made sure neither of us was hurt, Jeremy's friends politely pretended not to notice our rampant arousal. They invited me to join their game, and I gladly accepted. They were a relaxed, friendly bunch, and in my enjoyment of their company I quickly forgot about my original intent in coming to San Onofre. No one seemed terribly surprised when I wound up accompanying Jer to his apartment at the end of the day. I was probably the only one to be surprised when I found myself spending the entire weekend with him and asking if I could see him again the next day. And the day after that.
But every one of Jeremy's friends claimed not to have seen the blond muscle stud whose appearance had led to our collision.
* * *
At last we've reached the base of the cliffs, after a long, steep quarter of a mile, and my calves are aching. Jeremy looks unfazed. Showoff. He does hand off the cooler containing our lunch to me, though. We turn left and make our way past the deserted lifeguard tower toward the unofficial nude section. I smile as usual at the bizarre faces and creative graffiti carved into the soft sandstone of the bluffs. We bypass the "straight" zone, where a handful of naked men and women are already playing volleyball, and, studiously ignoring the sign and ineffectual section of chain-link fence marking the boundary, continue on to the quieter territory of the Marine base beyond.
This is no-man's-land, outside the jurisdiction of the park service and infrequently patrolled by the Marines. I've been here when they've held round-ups, escorting dozens of trespassers off their property and back onto the narrow, rocky, 500-foot stretch where the rangers grudgingly tolerate nude use. Most of the time, though, it's dotted with colorful beach umbrellas and lounging sunbathers, scofflaws like us, seeking elbow room.
As we proceed south, the beach begins to broaden, and the foot-bruising mounds of rocky shingle at the water line give way to smooth sand. Now begins the hunt for just the right spot to plant ourselves, somewhere far enough away from other beachgoers that we can enjoy our privacy. Jeremy is very particular about our location, and rejects several possibilities for his own unfathomable reasons before finally pronouncing himself satisfied. I drop my backpack gratefully in the place he has indicated, and proceed to strip, eager to feel the sun and the cool ocean breeze on my body. My penis immediately responds to the stimulus, springing up and waving shamelessly between us, long, slender and pale like all the rest of me.
Jer, always a bit more hesitant about dropping trou in public, waits until we have our portable cabana erected and our towels spread out just so before disrobing. Already stretched out on my towel, I watch him avidly as by degrees he bares his strong, muscular torso, lowers his cargo shorts, and finally, with one last glance around in case of prying eyes, removes his sky blue Speedo to reveal the treasure underneath.
I never get tired of seeing Jeremy's dick come into view, dangling enticingly in front of his smooth-shaven balls, the tip of the pink head peeking out endearingly from his foreskin. "Come here, babe," I urge, reaching out for his hands and pulling him down on top of me. Our lips meet, open, and our tongues entwine. For a long, sensual moment, time stands still.
Jer breaks free of our kiss before I'm ready to let him go. I protest incoherently, but he appears unmoved, though his erection is telling me a different story. "Roll over, sweetie," he commands. "We need to get you greased up before you burn." Still sulking, I obey. He makes it worth my while, though, turning the simple act of applying SPF 50 into a sensual massage, soothing away the tension in my back from holding the steering wheel and toting my heavy backpack. He continues downward, devoting extra attention to my butt and chuckling when I spread my legs to give him more access. He plants a kiss at the base of my spine as he rubs lotion between my cheeks, teasing my bud with one finger and grazing my balls with the others. I sigh with pleasure, pushing back toward him, hoping for more stimulation, but he moves on to attend to my legs and feet. "I'm saving you to enjoy later," he tells me. Tease.
* * *
The day is getting hot already, even though it's not even ten o'clock yet. We loll side by side on our towels, hands clasped, letting the sun bake the remaining tension out of our bodies. This is nice, this drowsy, erotic lethargy. So peaceful. So different from our first anniversary.
That was the year Jer had decided to break the news to his parents about his sexuality — and about our relationship. I asked him repeatedly if he was ready to take that step, assuring him in as many ways as I could think that he didn't need to do it for my sake. But as gentle and easygoing as he is, Jeremy's immovable once he has his mind made up about something. He looked at me with those liquid brown eyes and said, "I need to, for my sake, Er. You're part of my family now. My parents need to know you. And they need to know me, even if they don't like it."
And they didn't like it. Jer's father, surprisingly, was calm and polite to me, even though you could see his only son's revelation was tearing him apart inside. His mother, on the other hand, broke down crying and cursing at her son. She refrained from attacking me directly, but if she could have shot lasers out of her eyes and incinerated me on the spot, she would have done it without hesitation. I'm still not entirely sure she didn't try. Finally, when her hysteria showed no sign of abating, Mr. Garcia told us both, "I think it's time you two left. And Jeremías, maybe you'd better not visit for a while. I'll call you later when we've had time to process all this." He wouldn't look either of us in the eye as he escorted us to the door.
Jeremy told me much later that he knew what was coming the moment his father used the Spanish form of his name. Mr. Garcia called three weeks later to tell us that Jer was no longer welcome at their house. He would call his son regularly to check up on him, and take him out to dinner once a month, but Mrs. Garcia would have nothing more to do with him. Jer was also forbidden from contacting his siblings, though his younger sister secretly kept in touch with us via e-mail.
For Jeremy's sake, I tried to balance being available and supportive with keeping a low profile around his father. I would drive him to the restaurant for those monthly dinners and wait in a nearby cafe or bookstore until he called my cell phone to let me know they were finished. After two or three of these sad, quiet evenings, when I came back to pick up Jer after their meal, he and his father looked so dejected my heart broke for both of them. Even though I usually avoided touching Jer in these situations, I couldn't help taking his hand in mine, trying to offer whatever comfort I could. I felt Mr. Garcia's eyes on the back of my head as we turned to leave.
"Mr. Martin," he said. Jeremy stiffened. I stopped and looked back. "Take care of my son."
I had a hard time answering him through the lump of anger and grief in my throat. "Always, sir."
It was foggy on the beach that summer, but Jer insisted on going for our anniversary anyway. A light, cold drizzle periodically dampened our hair and sweatshirts as we looked out over the gray ocean. I wrapped a blanket around my boyfriend and held him for hours as he cried into my shoulder.
He let the lease on his apartment expire and moved into my condo later that summer. We haven't lived apart since.
* * *
Before we know it, lunchtime approaches. Laughing at my growling stomach, Jeremy rouses himself from his torpor and opens the cooler, pulling out whatever surprises he has in store for us.
He's a terrific cook. I never had to worry about my weight until we moved in together. Now it seems like there's always going to be a little extra layer of padding around my midsection. But it's worth it for Jeremy's cooking. He started with the Mexican recipes he'd inherited from his family, and those were sinful enough, but in the last few years he's branched out. Chinese, French, Indian, Italian... I fully expect to come home to find some Peruvian or Vietnamese delicacy waiting on the table someday.
Today's feast turns out to be Mediterranean-themed: hummus and pita bread; Greek salad with chicken, olives, cucumbers and feta; a parfait of toasted almonds, honey and tart yogurt; all washed down with homemade mint lemonade. "I knew I married you for a reason," I tell him, around a mouthful. "You spoil me, you know that?"
He casts his eyes down modestly, but his smile gives away his pleasure. I reach out and lift his chin so I can look into his eyes. "Thank you. It's delicious." I kiss his lips, because they're daring me to and because I can. "You're delicious."
* * *
"Thank you for dinner, Mrs. Martin," Jeremy said, pushing his chair back from the table and moving to collect the plates. "It was delicious."
My mother beamed at him. "My pleasure, Jeremy. You leave those plates where they are and go relax in the living room. You're the birthday boy. Eric can help me with the clearing and the cleaning." I nodded at him, and he reluctantly joined my Dad in front of the TV. At least they both liked basketball.
My parents are the best. I never know that until I saw how Jer's mother treated him. My own folks had simply reacted to my own coming out by telling me they loved me and wanted me to be happy, and then proceeded to lecture me for a full hour about practicing safe sex. They had accepted Jer as a member of the family practically from the moment they met him. It was their idea to have us over to celebrate his twenty-sixth birthday.
While Mom and I cleared and rinsed the dishes, she asked, "So what are you boys' plans for this weekend?"
"We're heading down to San Onofre tomorrow. We're making a day of it," I answered.
Mom was quiet while I set the coffee maker to run. She pulled Jeremy's favorite flourless chocolate cake out of the fridge and cut slices for all four of us. That done, she laid down the knife and looked at me uncertainly.
"Eric, I don't mean to pry, but I have to ask you something."
I looked back nervously and nodded once.
"What do the two of you do down there?"
I was confused. "It's a beach, Mom. We do beach things, you know? Sunbathing, swimming? Building sand castles?" Okay, I've never once built a sand castle there, but we could, right?
Mom returned the leftover cake to the refrigerator, came back with raspberries, fresh mint, and a can of whipped cream, and proceeded to decorate each slice of cake with precisely one berry, two mint leaves, and a blob of whipped cream, just like the photo on the box. I couldn't help thinking that Jer would have done something original and creative instead with orange peel or candied ginger.
"Eric, don't think I don't know what goes on down there on that beach. I can use the Internet, too. You were going to San Onofre long before you met Jeremy. I used to see those parking passes in your car all the time when you were in college, before you moved out. You were an adult, and we tried to give you your privacy, but your father and I both knew you were going there to have sex."
I cringed with embarrassment. I'd never realized they knew that. I'd always thought I'd been so careful and discreet. What must they think of me, their son the man-slut? The coffee maker gurgled and coughed in the background.
"I don't want to see Jeremy get hurt," Mom continued. "He's a sweet boy, and he adores you. He's been through hell from that family of his. We've done everything we could think of to let him know he has another home and a family here. You two seem happy together, and we're glad to see that. But as far as I know, Eric, this is the only real relationship you've ever been in. How serious are you about him?"