The Magic in Your Touch Ch. 02bywavyscribe©
Nate woke to the feel of gentle but rough fingertips soothing the swollen skin of his face. He opened his eyes to see the beautiful blues of Brandon Nash staring down at him.
“Wake up, Nate. We’re here.”
Nate shook himself in a bid to wake up. “I still say I can stay by myself. I hate to put you out like this.”
“We had this argument back at the hospital, Nathan. You’re stuck staying with me tonight. Might as well make the most of it.” Before Nate could argue again, Bran got out of the SUV and moved around to the passenger side to help him into the house.
When Brandon first insisted on taking Nate home with him, Nate expected to be carried to a small apartment or a modest, two-bedroom starter house. He never expected to be taken to a sprawling farmhouse located on several acres of private land.
They went in by the back door, through a nice-size mudroom into the kitchen. It was absolutely perfect. The stove was a refurbished thirties-model gas with six burners and a griddle. The cabinets were natural-stained, knotty pine with black iron hinges and handles. The granite countertops were spotless, but to Nate they looked like they hadn’t been used in a long time. A picture window along the far wall would capture most of the early morning light. Nate could just picture himself cooking breakfast for half a dozen smiling kids all clustered around the central work island. The minute he realized where his thoughts were taking him, he forced his mind back to the reason why he was here. Someone was out to get him. The fact that being with Brandon made him feel safer than he had in years did nothing to improve his mood. He’d learned his lesson about depending on other people.
Brandon broke into his thoughts by saying, “There are six bedrooms upstairs, but I’m going to put you in the one closest to mine so that I can hear you if you need me.”
Nate barely had time to nod before he heard the thunder. No, not thunder exactly, more like feet. Large feet coming towards him at a dead run. He looked up just in time to see a giant blue-gray shadow pummel him to the ground.
“Sasha! Down girl. Dammit, I said down.” Brandon pulled the Great Dane off of Nate as fast as he could, but not before she gave him a healthy kiss right on the mouth.
Brandon lead her over to her food bowl and filled it with dry food. Once he was satisfied that Sasha was well occupied, he returned to help Nate up off the floor.
“I’m so sorry, Nate. I guess my mom must’ve come by to walk her and forgot to put her back in the sun porch where she stays while I’m at work. Here, let me help you up.”
Nate allowed Brandon to pull him to his feet. “Damn, that thing is a horse, man.” He looked over to where Sasha sat on her haunches chewing a mouthful of kibble. Now that she wasn’t perched on his chest trying to slobber his face off, he had to admit she was a fine looking animal. “She is kinda cute, though.”
Brandon beamed with a look Nate could only describe as pride. “She’s a beauty, isn’t she? Imagine how pretty she’ll be when she’s full grown.”
“You mean that monster is still a puppy?”
Sasha looked up from her food bowl as he said it, her big brown eyes focusing on Nate. She stared at him for a full minute before turning away and trotting out of the room.
“Uh oh. Looks like you hurt her feelings.”
The grin on Brandon’s face was catching. Before he knew it, Nate found himself smiling back. “If you expect me to feel sorry for her, forget it. Any dog that has free run of a house this size and an owner that worships the ground she walks on is not exactly a sympathetic creature.” He looked around the kitchen. “From what I’ve seen of your house, it’s magnificent, by the way.”
“Thanks. Hey, let me give you the grand tour.” Brandon led Nate through the house, pointing out favorite pieces of furniture and sentimental treasures along the way. With each step he took, Nate was more and more impressed with Brandon’s home. Finally, he led him to a bedroom at the far end of the upstairs hall.
“My room is just across the hall. Let me put fresh sheets on the bed and you’ll be all set.”
Brandon walked down the hall and came back with a handful of linens. Nate helped him strip the bed and put on the fresh sheets.
“So, what do you think of the place?”
“It’s great, but isn’t it a lot of house for a single guy?”
Brandon nodded. “Yeah, but like I told my mother when I bought it, I don’t plan to be single forever. Someday I hope to meet a nice guy, settle down, and adopt a houseful of little Nash’s.”
For some reason the thought of Brandon settling down with someone else made Nate queasy, but he refused to think about the reasons why. Instead, he said, “So, how did you come to buy this place?”
Brandon finished smoothing the covers and sat down on the edge of the bed, motioning for Nate to do the same. After Nate was seated, he said, “Actually, my dad was born here. My great-grandfather built this house in nineteen hundred. My granddad bought it from him when he married in nineteen-forty. Grandpa went of to war and left my grandmother to set up housekeeping. Counting my father, they raised ten kids in this house. When it came up for sale last year, I couldn’t stand to see it go out of family hands, so I bought it.”
“What about your grandparents? Did they pass away?”
“No way. Those two are going to live forever. My grandmother said she couldn’t stand another Illinois winter, so she and Grandpa moved down to Florida. They used the money from the sale of the house to buy a condo. Grandpa wanted to go to California, where they film Baywatch, but Grandma wasn’t going for it.”
Nate chuckled. “They sound like a couple of real characters.”
“All four of my grandparents are. My mom’s folks still live here in Reed. My Grandma Taylor is something of a hypochondriac, so I imagine you’ll be seeing her real soon, especially since her doctor retired. Grandpa Taylor used to be the Reed County Fire Marshall. Now he spends all his time trying to keep track of Grandma’s ailments. I hope she won’t bombard you with complaints.”
Nate smiled. “I don’t mind. I have several patients who just need a little attention every now and again.”
“Yeah, and you don’t charge them, either.”
“How did you know?”
“You know the lady that does your billing?”
“Marcia? She’s a real sweetheart.”
Bran grinned. “Yeah, she is. She’s also my cousin. She’s told everyone in the family about the gorgeous new doctor who only charges the patients who can afford it. Doesn’t that hurt your practice financially?”
While he was talking, Bran had scooted closer to where Nate was sitting. Nate tried his best to ignore the desire he felt curling in his belly. Instead he concentrated on the question. “Actually, no. Amy and I are both trust fund babies. We have enough to help out our patients here and there.”
Brandon nodded. “You said back at the office that you were on the outs with your parents. I take it they aren’t the one’s responsible for the trust fund.”
Nate fought to keep his voice neutral. “No. My father’s mother, Grandma Morris, set up my trust. She also set up the trust for Amy. My dad was an only child and he and my mother had two boys. I think Grandma thought of Amy as the granddaughter she never had. She always hoped that Amy and I would marry someday” He couldn’t stop the smile that crossed his face. “When I was fifteen, I told her in no uncertain terms that marriage to Amy, or anyone else of the female persuasion, just wasn’t going to happen.”
“Oh, man. You came out to your grandma?”
“She’s the first person, besides Amy, I ever told. I thought sure she was gonna freak. You know what she said?”
“She said, ‘Nathan, I have something I want to tell you. If you listen to nothing else I say, remember this: choose a man with a large penis. People who say size doesn’t matter are generally the folks who don’t have much to brag about in the crotch department.’ Then she said, ‘Your grandfather, God rest his soul, had a nice eight-incher. Lord I miss that man.’”
Brandon was shaking with laughter. “Talk about my grandparents being characters. Your grandmother sounds like a hoot.”
“Yeah, she was. The day after I told her I was gay she set up my trust. She put the same amount in trust for Seth, but that was just to be fair, not because she thought he’d ever need it.”
“What about Amy’s?”
“She set that up back when we were in the third grade. Amy’s dad ran out on them when she was just a baby, so her mom had to struggle to make ends meet. Grandma set up the trust so Amy could go to college, but in typical Grandma Morris fashion, she put in enough for ten kids to go to medical school, same as she did with mine. Amy and I do our best to return the favor by helping out our patients. Those that can afford to pay, do. The rest we try to work with.”
“You’re a good man, Nate.” Brandon was silent for a minute. Finally, he said, “This probably isn’t the best time to mention it, but while you were asleep in the truck, I got a call from my deputy, the one I sent to gather evidence back at your office.”
Nate rubbed a weary hand over his face. “Let me guess. Nothing incriminating was found, and no one saw anything.”
Brandon got up and walked over to the window, staring out into the darkness. “No, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t find out who did this.” He walked back to where Nate sat and crouched down so he could see him better. “Think, Nate. Who do you know that might have it in for you? A family member? A former lover, maybe?”
It was Nate’s turn to get up. He moved so quickly, he sent Brandon sprawling. While Bran rose to his feet, Nate paced the bedroom.
“I’ve already told you; I don’t know who did this. Besides my parents and brother, Grandma Morris was the only family I had. She died right before my eighteenth birthday. When I was twenty-one, I told my parents I was gay. The next day I got served with a restraining order informing me I was no longer allowed within a hundred yards of my parents or my brother. The day after that I got a certified letter from my dad’s attorney informing me that I had been cut out of my father’s will and any further contact between me and my family would be handled through the lawyers.” He ran his fingers through his hair and whirled back to face Brandon. “Why do you think my grandmother set up that trust? She knew my father would never tolerate having a faggot for a son.” He sank back onto the bed feeling more alone than he’d felt the day his whole life had fallen apart.
He forced himself to finish it. “As for former lovers, there was only one, and he left the day after my parents disowned me. So you see, no one from the past cares enough about me to even talk to me, much less soil their hands knocking me over the head. I doubt any of them even knows where I am.”
Without saying a word, Bran walked over and pulled Nate to his feet.
“What are you doing?”
“You’re in need of some therapy. I’m gonna provide it for you.”
Nate eyed him suspiciously. “I’m not sure I like the sound of that.”
Bran gave that heart stopping grin that gave Nate goose bumps. “Do I look like the kind of guy who would take advantage of a man with a concussion?”
“Well. . .”
“O.K., don’t answer that. Look, let’s get you some aspirin for your head and then I’ll take you somewhere that’s guaranteed to make you feel better.” He gave Nate his most sincere smile. “No funny business. I promise.”
Nate wasn’t sure why, but for some reason he trusted Brandon. For that reason, he downed the pills Bran gave him and found himself following him through the kitchen towards the back door. When they got to the mudroom, Brandon said, “Here, wear one of my jackets. It’s cold out there.” He handed Nate a thickly-lined, brown leather jacket and grabbed a blanket from a deacon’s bench stationed by the door. Whistling for Sasha, he ushered Nate outside.
The air was cool, but dry, and Nate found the bracing affect of the slight breeze strangely relaxing. Sasha walked between them, her ears cocked and head held high. They walked for several minutes in silence, until Brandon pointed to a rise in the distance.
“See that hill over there?”
“That’s where we’re going. You able to walk that far, or do you want me to carry you?”
Nate snorted. “Like you could.”
Brandon’s leer was so sexy, damned if Nate didn’t get hard again. Six years without a response to a flesh and blood man, and now, after less than three hours in Brandon’s company, he was so horny he needed fresh boxers.
Just when he thought he couldn’t get any harder, Brandon said, “Baby, I could carry you if I wanted to, but once I get you in my arms I’m sure I can think of better things to do than hauling you around.”
Nate’s mouth went dry. “Look, Brandon—”
“Relax, Nate. I’m not gonna jump you. Hasn’t anybody ever flirted with you before?”
Nate shook his head. “It’s been a while.”
“Sexy guy like you? I find that hard to believe.”
“Amy calls me a turtle. She says once I get hurt, I hide out in my shell so no one can touch me again.”
“Maybe it’s time to change that.”
Brandon led him to the top of the rise and said, “Close your eyes.” Nate could hear him shaking out the blanket and spreading it on the ground. A warm hand closed over Nate’s cold fingers and pulled him forward. The same strong hands exerted gentle pressure on Nate’s shoulders until he was sitting on the ground. He felt Brandon slide down next to him. “O.K., Nate. Open your eyes.”
Nate felt the breath catch in his throat as he looked out on the scene some fifty feet below. He and Bran were seated on a bluff overlooking an open field and a large pond. On the other side of the field was a wall of trees, all sporting their fall leaves. The reds and yellows cast their reflection on the moonlit pond, giving the whole valley a magic effect.
“My God. It’s unbelievable.”
Brandon nodded. “I come here when I want to think, or when I have a problem and need to step away from it for a little while. I used to spend the night with my grandparents just so I could sneak out here after they went to bed.” He paused for a moment, considering his next words. “I spent a lot of time out here the summer I realized I was gay.”
For some reason, Nate had never considered that Brandon might have had a hard time dealing with his homosexuality. He was so confident, Nate just assumed he’d always been that way. “How old were you?”
“Fifteen. At least, that’s how old I was when I finally admitted it to myself. I think on some level, I always knew I was different, but fifteen was the age when I couldn’t hide it anymore.”
“What happened when you were fifteen?”
Brandon grinned. “Billy Watson. He got into his daddy’s porn stash and brought over some girlie magazines. Billy got hard from looking at the pictures and I got hard from watching Billy. Those naked women did nothing for me, but the bulge in Billy’s jeans made my dick puff right up. I knew at that moment that I couldn’t hide it anymore. At least, not from myself. Telling everybody else was a different story entirely.”
Normally Nate hated to stick his nose into other people’s business, but something about Bran’s manner made him feel alright about asking questions. “So, how did you come out to your family?”
“When I was in high-school, I dated girls as a cover. I made sure I never got serious with any one girl so I couldn’t be accused of leading anybody on. Now that I look back on it, it was pretty stupid of me not to just tell the truth. I mean, Reed is actually a pretty gay-friendly town. Several of the major businesses in Reed are owned by same-sex couples. There were even a few guys in my graduating class who were ‘out,’ but I just didn’t have the balls to tell my family the truth. I decided that when I went away to college I was going to have a real relationship with a guy.” He laughed, that husky sound that Nate was coming to appreciate for its effect on his nervous system.
“Looking back on it, I think I was just desperate to get laid. I wasn’t the most mature eighteen-year-old in the world. Anyway, my first week at Michigan State, I went to one of the gay bars in the area and met Joel. He was a freshman, same as me, and at the same school. He was also just as green when it came to sex as I was. We dated for a few weeks, and I was absolutely certain we were made for each other. When Christmas break came, I couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from him, so I invited him to come home with me.” He laughed again, the sound laced with amusement at his own foolishness. “I had it all planned out. I would introduce him as a friend from school, then sneak off with him whenever I got the chance.”
“Did it work?”
“It would have, if Keith hadn’t followed us the first time we snuck out. We were visiting Grandma and Grandpa Taylor and decided to make out in Grandpa’s old tractor barn. Keith got there just as I was taking Joel’s shirt off.”
“That must have been embarrassing.”
Bran stretched his legs out and crossed his ankles. “It would have been, if Keith hadn’t been so cool about it. He said, ‘Well, it’s about damn time you got you some. Dad and I were saving up to buy you a male hooker.’ He looked at Joel and said, ‘Friend, my ass. I hope he puts out better than my girlfriend does.’ Then he went back into the house. When we got back to Mom and Dad’s place, Joel’s things had been moved from the guest room into my room. I found out later that my whole family had suspected I was gay for years. When I asked my mother how she knew and if I acted gay, she gave me a royal lecture about gay stereotypes and how those prissy and effeminate men you see in movies and on television are the exception and not the rule. She said a mother just knows things about her kids. Then she gave me a thirty minute instructional lesson on safe sex. The relationship didn’t last long, but at least I never had to hide who I really was from the people I loved again. Of course, I still can’t look at a condom without seeing my mother demonstrating how to put one on a banana.”
Nate laughed. “At least your coming out was better than mine.”
“Want to talk about it?”
Any other time, Nathan would have said an automatic “no.” Amy was the only person who knew the truth about what happened that night. Now though, sitting in the moonlight with this amazing man, wrapped up in his jacket and bathed in his scent, Nate heard the words come spilling out.
“My dad and I have always had our share of disagreements. Ever heard of the Mor-co Pharmacy chain?”
“Sure. They’re one of the largest franchises in the country.” Nate watched as recognition dawned on Brandon’s face. “Holy shit! Your family owns Mor-co?”
“Yep. At least, my dad does. He inherited it from his dad, who started out as a pharmacist in a one-horse Georgia town. When my dad graduated from college with a degree in pharmacy, Grandpa set him up with his own store. Pretty soon, they bought another store, and then another. Before grandpa knew it, he had a chain. When my dad took over, he consolidated and took the company national. He expected me to get a business degree, or at the very least become a pharmacist, so I could take over the family business. Needless to say, he wasn’t too thrilled when I decided to become a doctor. He said, “Why would you want to
be a doctor? Don’t you know we make our money off of sick people? Cure enough of them and we’ll be out of business.”
“Damn. No offense, man, but your dad sounds like a real prick.”
“None taken. And he is definitely a prick. He was unhappy enough about my choice to become a doctor, but I think he might have eventually gotten over that. Having a queer son was something else entirely.”
“What happened, babe?”
The quiet strength in Brandon’s voice gave Nate the will to continue the story. “Not unlike you, I met a guy while I was away at school. Not my freshman year, though. I was a senior. Rick Landon was my student advisor. We got to know each other while I was trying to decide which medical school to apply for. I thought he was perfect. Handsome, smart, funny: the whole package. He asked me out and I, of course, said yes. He was the first guy I’d ever dated and I fell head over heels in love with him. He wanted us to move in together, but. . .”