The Long Road HomebyDWSimon©
There I sat, on the airplane, flying home. For the first time in six years I was back. God! I'd missed this place. The flight from London was long and boring and I was too excited to sleep. Of course, I was still on London time, eight hours difference was going to be tough to get used to. I couldn't wait to see Jessica. We met in high school, she a lowly sophomore, and me the big senior on campus. But we were both misfits and we clicked. Despite the age difference and all the other quirks, we became best of friends. She was the first person I told that I was gay. She just looked at me, said 'duh' and that was the end of it.
When the plane touched down, I was almost too giddy to stay in my seat. I still had customs to go through. I made it through in no time. Twenty-four and I was on top of the world. I had gone to college in London and then got a job with a telecommunications company. When an opening became available in Seattle, I jumped at it. I was home. As I got off the train, near baggage claim, there was Jessica, jumping up and down and throwing herself into my arms. I almost fell over. She was a little dynamo, almost a foot shorter then my six-four. Standing beside her was her boyfriend of four years and another guy. I had no clue who he was, that was until she introduced me. His name was Tom. So this was the Tom I'd heard so much about.
Tom stood at five-eleven. He was perhaps thirty or forty pounds overweight, but still had a great look about him. He wore a v-neck shirt and he had a nice sprouting of hair showing. His hair was like spun honey. He had blue eyes and was just about the cutest person I'd ever seen. I fell instantly in lust with him. When he shook my hand, I actually felt the jolt to my toes. This was interesting to say the least.
We grabbed my bags and headed out. The four of us crawled into Jessica's little car, Tom and I sitting in the back, squeezed in. My frame was hurting, even behind Jessica's scooted up seat. Her boyfriend Mike was almost as tall as I was, so Tom was definitely squished. But we made the best of it. I was going to stay at Jessica's until I found an apartment.
We stopped off for dinner at my favorite hang out. Basically, if the beatniks were in Seattle during the grunge period, this would have been their hangout. The place was smoke filled and served the best damn greasy food on earth. It wasn't until I'd taken my first bite that I knew I was really home. Mike and Jessica got into a fight halfway through dinner and took it outside. I think more to make out after than to spare the other patrons from their argument. I took the opportunity to talk to Tom.
"What do you do Tom?"
He was sitting across from me and gave me his smile. It was open and honest and I got a sappy grin of my own just looking at him. "I'm taking a few classes and working part time at a video store."
I chuckled. "It's better than my part time job while I was going to school." At his quizzical look, I added, "I worked in an adult bookstore."
He started laughing. "I bet you have some tales."
I wondered if he could handle that it was a gay bookstore. No time like the present. "Yeah, there were more guys fucking in the back then most night clubs I think."
He raised his eyebrows at that. I felt a moment of panic, that perhaps I'd overstepped my bounds here. "You probably heard quite a bit, if not saw it outright." He winked at me. "Pick up any pointers?"
I relaxed. Gay or not, at least he wasn't uncomfortable about it. "Only when Larry the Moaner came in. He usually got applause."
We both laughed heartily at that. Jessica and Mike came back, hand in hand. Mike had always been the romantic in the relationship. The man would hold Jessica's chair. He'd show up after work with a bunch of flowers just because he could. They fought a lot, what couple doesn't, but there was so much love in his eyes whenever he looked at her. More than once I'd been jealous of Jessica. Not that I wanted Mike for my own, but I was so damn jealous that she had someone who doted on her. He did. He worshipped the ground she walked on. The man was probably the most patient person on earth to put up with Jessica, but to look at him; you just knew he was gone for her.
They sat down, both of them with silly, stupid grins on their face. I'm sure they often picked a fight just to have an excuse to do the whole make-up make-out session. Jessica sat down beside me in the booth and leaned in and whispered in my ear. "So, what do you think of Tom?" I grinned at her and she nodded. Shortly after we finished eating then left. As we dropped Tom off, he promised to show me around, run me to a few places, as I got ready to start my new job. I really appreciated it.
Monday hit and Tom was right on time. We headed out to look for apartments. It was easy. I found the one I wanted first try: two bedrooms, large living room, with a nice fireplace and balcony. It was a bit pricey, but I didn't care. I took Tom out to lunch and learned more about him. He was turning twenty-one in a few weeks. I told him that he had to have a party. He demurred. His parents were both alcoholics, so he didn't even want to contemplate drinking. I admired his courage, but I told him you don't have to drink to party.
The next day, Tom took me around to car dealers. I ended up buying a Ford pickup. The way things were coming together; I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Little did I know it would happen about two months later.
Tom and I had been spending a lot of time together. We had similar senses of humor. We got along great and it made me feel good to be around him. We'd go catch a movie on his off night. He helped me move in my stuff and even arranged my furniture. It got to the point where he even started sleeping over at my place because he hated the flophouse he lived in. I liked making dinner for him. I liked having him there. I was falling and falling fast.
Tom was a hard man to figure out though. He was probably the most hands-on person I'd ever met. He was always touching me. He'd hug me. He'd rub my shoulders. He was constantly touching me. He'd sit by me in the movies and sling his arm behind me. It wasn't touching me, but it was familiar. Well, no one really touched me unless it was at a club or a female coworker. Jessica and Mike were both really demonstrative, but they were like family. I hardly knew Tom. It sent so many confusing signals. It was like he was flirting with me, telling me it was okay to touch him.
But the strange thing was that, except for my returning his hugs, he'd get uncomfortable if I touched him in any other way. I went to brush a stray hair off his shoulder and he'd pull back. Yet he'd do the same for me. His words said back off, his touching said to go for it, and it all confused me. Any other guy I'd have either known to make a move and kiss him or been punched in the face for being forward. His attitude was like he was telling me to back off, but not go too far away. By the tenth night he'd slept on my couch, I was a walking ball of lust, confusion, and affection. I really cared for the guy. He made me feel special and needed.
I can cook; really cook. I never got any formal training, but I could make some people weep over some of my dishes. Tom kept going back for seconds or thirds of whatever I made and actually moaned a couple of times when he'd eat my cooking. Probably the most frustrating part about being Tom's friend was that he hardly ever talked. Oh, he'd speak and hold a conversation. But he wouldn't talk about anything personal. Many times I'd ask him if he was okay. I'd get a nod. It was frustrating to say the least. If he'd just talked to me, I'd have known where I stood. But he wasn't one for talking.
I got up early one morning to find Tom sleeping on my couch, his blanket down around his ankles, wearing nothing but a light blue pair of briefs. I must have stood and stared for a good ten minutes, watching him twitch in his sleep. All I saw was his cotton-covered ass and I was hard. I needed to get laid. This was ridiculous. But I didn't want to not be with him. I needed answers.
Jessica and I sat down one day, because I needed to know if what I was feeling and if the signals I was getting were real or not. I admitted that I was in serious lust with him. It should have been obvious. I mean, my tongue practically hung out and panted every time he entered the room. Jessica looked at me and ruffled my hair, muttering under her breath about 'silly gay men.' She wasn't much help. Tom had always played things close to the vest. She knew he was at least bi, if not downright gay, but she saw no evidence of either. As far as she knew, he was still a virgin. Well that was no help.
Since I didn't know one way or the other, I decided to play it by ear. I'd let him lead me. The man flirted, but it was almost halfway. Like he wasn't sure of what he was doing. If I'd respond too heavily, he'd pull away. He'd always start it. I was really confused. Virgin or not, this was confusing. Sometimes he'd seem interested, other times not at all. I slowly ramped up my seduction. I'd touch him, innocently at first, then more and more intimately until he'd pull away. Each time, I'd get closer and closer to having him be mine. One night, he stood and walked away after some light caressing, but the tent in his jeans was obvious. He was enjoying what was happening. But it wasn't progressing at all. We'd both be in our fifties before I got him into bed. I was getting ready to ditch the whole thing until one night.
We'd gone to the movies. Tom didn't want to go home. Who could blame him? Four guys living in a two-bedroom apartment. His roommate had a girlfriend who was over most of the time. So he got real familiar with my couch. But that one night...
We got home from the movie around nine. We sat on the couch and talked about it. What we liked, what we didn't and whom we thought was cute. He got me laughing. I was laughing for a few minutes. When I wound down, he was staring at me. My body calmed and began to strum. This wasn't a stare. This was a look of hunger. There was more in that one look then anything else he'd ever shown me. He was normally so damn closed off, but in that moment, his defenses were down and all I saw was hunger. I moved in and took his lips. I tasted him, moving over him slowly. After a few devouring moves with my mouth, my tongue darted out to taste his lips. I moaned. Then I was moving my tongue against his teeth, then deeper into his mouth.
Tom tried to meet me, but this was obviously a new experience for him. I kept kissing him, wrapping my arms around him. His hands were unsure as he held then slowly embraced me. My need rose quickly. I pulled back and began ravishing his face with kisses all over. Neck, cheeks, brow, nose, chin and everywhere else my lips could reach I kissed him. I started chewing on his earlobe when his whole body trembled and his hands started roving over my back. I stood and pulled him with me.
When we got to the bedroom, I pulled Tom's shirt off. The light was dim, but I could see his chest, gilded with honey colored chest hair. He was muscular under that layer of softness. I lowered my neck and took his nipple in my mouth. He shuddered under my lips. I skimmed my hands down his belly and undid his belt then the snaps on his jeans until they fell to the ground, pooled at his feet. I shucked my own shirt then dropped my pants. I pushed him on the bed and followed him down, lying on top of him, kissing him. He trembled under me.
I rolled to the side, so one hip rested on the bed and my leg was over his. I could feel him hard against my thigh. My own erection pressed into his hip. After I pulled away from the kiss, I rolled him onto his belly, moving over him, giving him my weight. I pressed my lips against the back of his neck, feeling Tom shudder. I moved lower and lower, kissing along his spine as I went. My hands caught in the waistband of his briefs and I pulled them down, kissing my way across his ass and legs. I pulled his underwear off his feet, sitting on my heels. I looked at the long length of Tom, his honey colored hair dusting his legs, thickly in his crack and at the small of his back. I noticed he was shaking. This wasn't the trembling of desire or the shivers of cold. He was shaking hard with fear.
Now I had a reputation in London. From my first encounter until the last man I slept with, I was quickly known as the Yank who went all night. I only slept with each guy once or twice, but I did get the most out of each encounter. But I never once took what wasn't freely given. Tom was terrified. I slipped up beside him, turning his face to me. His eyes were big and round. I cupped his face in my hands and kissed his cheek. I was so damn hard. I ached with the need to free myself from my briefs and sate my desire inside him. But I stopped. He wasn't ready.
"Hey, hey, hey. Tom." He looked at me, actually focused on my face. "We won't go anywhere you aren't ready to go."
His face sort of crumpled. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm not ready."
I nodded and curled my body around his. I spooned against his back, letting him feel how much I wanted him. But that was as far as it would go. I kept stroking his hair, running my fingers through his generous chest hair. I murmured soft words to him until the shaking stopped and he fell asleep. It wasn't his fault I fell in love with him at that moment.
I woke up the next morning alone. I wasn't that surprised. Tom had early classes and I was ready to go to work. I must have had a silly grin on my face the entire day. I couldn't stop smiling. It still amazed me. I wasn't some blushing virgin. I'd gotten around in London. But this was so different. It was so much more than I'd ever known before. After work, I decided to head over to Jessica's. Tom usually hung out there after classes, so they could both relax and wind down from their week.
When I pulled in at Jessica's, I saw Tom's car in the driveway. I barely shut the engine off before I was bounding up the steps. I didn't even knock, just walked right in. Jessica spotted me first and bounded over the chair to get to me. She was grinning ear to ear and threw herself into my arms. "Jimmy! Tom just told me the wonderful news."
I started grinning. Wonderful news? This sounded so promising. He felt it too! He had to. "What's the good news?"
Jessica looked over at Tom and beamed, "Tom's getting married."
That stopped me. Married? My throat was so thick; I couldn't swallow, probably because my mouth had gone dry. My heart was pounding, from somewhere in the vicinity of my feet. I looked at Tom, really looked at him. He wouldn't meet my eyes. Pain sliced through me, as if a thousand knives had just carved their way through my heart. What the hell were you doing with me last night if you're engaged? I never said it. It lodged somewhere in the vicinity with all the other things I've ever wanted to say but stopped before they left my mouth. I never seem to be able to forget those sayings. They stay with me and often haunt me later.
I just stared. My lips tried to form a smile, but it didn't last more than a few seconds at a time. I know my face heated up, was probably glowing red. I'm sure Jessica felt my hand tremble from behind her back. So I did the only thing I could do. He didn't know how I felt. He need never know. "Congratulations Tom."
I tried to put all the sincerity I could into it. I tried to sound happy and joyous, when all my heart could do was rip further into smaller pieces. I turned to Jessica, my face as stoic as I could make it. "Where's Mike?"
Jessica grinned, "He'll be home soon."
I kissed her cheek. "Great. This calls for a celebration. Why don't I take everyone out to dinner to celebrate?" Turning to Tom, I said, "Why don't you get your fiancée to join us?"
Tom looked even more uncomfortable. He looked at me with a look I couldn't recognize. "I can't."
I shook my head in confusion. "Why can't you?"
Tom smiled; the same smile that I had grown to love these past few weeks, the one that screamed of joy and happiness. "She lives in Texas. It would be kinda hard for her to join us."
Texas? What the hell? "And you're getting married to her? Are you moving to Texas?"
Tom laughed. "No. She's moving here. She wants to go to school here."
This seemed to be getting worse. I half expected some cheesy horror music to start playing or munchkins to walk through, just so I knew it was some bad dream. "When is the big day?"
Tom looked away. "As soon as the quarter is over."
Two months. I took it all in: what happened last night, the giddy, wonderful feeling from today, and then this. My brain was about ready to cave in. I was saved by Mike's coming home. Jessica grabbed him and they disappeared into the bathroom so he could shower. I took that time to talk to Tom. I was hurt and I knew it was the wrong time. Hateful things get said when someone is this emotionally distraught.
"If I hadn't stopped things last night, would you have told your fiancée?"
Tom looked like he'd been slapped. "Last night shouldn't have happened."
Now I felt like I'd been sucker punched. "You did nothing to stop me. Nothing Tom!"
He nodded. "I know."
That took the energy out of my argument. "Why didn't you tell me? I wouldn't have kissed you if I'd known."
Tom looked confused. "Tell you what?"
What the hell? "That you were getting married."
"I didn't ask her until today."
I actually sat down. Right where I was, on the ground. My head hurt. My heart ached. My butt was bruised. I looked right into Tom's eyes. They were concerned, but there was nothing else there. "What the hell has been going on Tom? What has the last few months been?"
He looked away, but not before I caught a flash of something, guilt perhaps, in his eyes. "What are you talking about?"
Disbelief was loud in my voice. "You were there."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
I tried to laugh, but it wasn't happening. "You don't know..." I stood up. I dug out my wallet and grabbed four twenties. "Why don't the three of you go? I just realized I forgot something that I need to do."
I walked out. I got in my truck and drove off. I got on the freeway and headed out. I didn't stop except for gas. I filled up twice and the next thing I knew, I was in Reno. I spent the next 24 hours in the casinos, losing money, winning money, breaking even. It didn't matter. I wasn't paying any attention. I just wanted something mindless to take away the pain.
About four Sunday morning, I was thinking a bit more clearly, realizing I needed to hit the road soon if I was going to make it back in time for work. I was walking out of the casino, towards valet parking when I passed a twenty-five dollar slot machine. I had a hundred dollar bill in my pocket; so I figured what the hell, give it a try. I slid it into the bill reader and got my four credits. I hit the button for two credits and spun. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Nothing. Then I spun again. Last two credits. I looked up as I pushed the button, wondering what I was looking for: a red, a white and a blue seven. The first wheel stopped: red seven. The second wheel stopped: white seven. The third wheel stopped: red seven. I won two hundred credits. I won five thousand dollars! I was so shocked. I wanted to spin again, but I couldn't. The casino had to pay me and have me fill out forms for taxes. While waiting, I dug in my wallet, to see if there was anything else there. Nothing. I checked my coat pocket. I found another hundred in my inner coat pocket, my emergency money. I took it out and put it in the machine next to the one I was playing. Four credits. First spin, I won two credits. Second spin, nothing. Third spin: red seven, white seven, and blue seven; one hundred thousand dollars! I wanted to pass out or faint or scream at the top of my lungs. Instead, an elderly lady behind me did all three.