On Sunday afternoon after the Mayor's Carnival Brunch, I returned to the apartment to find Brent already there, zonked out on the king bed. 'What a guy,' I observed proudly, as I walked into the bedroom. I stripped and joined him under the sheets. Like me, he was 'au naturel.'
We probably spent about an hour sleeping and snuggling. At some point, he woke up and stroked my hair as he said, "Hi, Doug. I missed you."
"Thanks, me too. I'm absolutely beat from this weekend of partying." It was about 1500.
"Whatcha got planned for tonight?"
"Well, after another couple of hours snuggling, I thought we'd get dressed and have a nice early dinner at Cielo. I made reservations for 1830."
"Sounds good to me." Holding him with my chest to his back, we both drifted back to sleep.
Around 1700, we stirred and started a tender session of gently touching, probing and feeling each other's bodies.
"Turn over," he said.
As I rolled over onto my stomach, he raised himself and straddled my legs. Reaching for the body lotion in the nightstand drawer, he poured some on my back and started kneading the muscles in my shoulders and neck.
"Ohhh, fuck, yeah," I mumbled to the pillow. Like an expert, he continued to work the kinks out of my neck and upper shoulders.
"You've earned this. Let it all go."
After lightly kissing me on my neck, he scooted down and moved to my lower back and glutes, using his thumbs to work my butt muscles. "Why haven't you done this before? You have a great touch."
"Guess we've never had the time. Got to get you back in top form cuz partying with those straight boys has tuckered you out."
I decided not to mention my talent search and Trev yesterday. He bent down and kissed each cheek before using his powerful thumbs to open my pucker for access. Using his expert tongue, he gently lapped the entire area starting at the perineum. "Ohhh," I uttered as his tongue started darting into my pucker. "Babe, what are you up to?" As much as I wanted to, I was really too tired to be a very good fuck right now. 'Maybe later,' I was thinking.
"Shhh," he uttered as he rose from my bottom. "This is all about you today, stud." Brent gently rolled me over and shifted positions. Soon we were tenderly kissing and licking each other's cock and balls. Both hard, we simultaneously took each other in our mouths. After a slow measured sucking and manipulation, we both released the 'tension' from our bodies.
"I needed that. Thanks." I helped him up so that we were face to face. We shared a warm kiss and embrace. 'This,' I decided, 'is more like two people who love each other.'
"It's a two-way street. This has been one of the few times recently that I enjoyed getting off," Brent murmured. He moved in and kissed me deeply.
"We'd better get going," I suggested as I rose up on my elbows. "It'll take about 20 minutes to get to Cielo. You wanna shower first?"
"Perfect, but I won't be long. You'll be right behind me?"
"You got it."
We both went into motion: He in the shower and me at the sink. About five minutes later we exchanged positions. In record time, we were pulled together and out the door at 1810.
As we drove to Cielo, I thought about our afternoon interlude. I was pleased with my planned assertiveness and the not-so-subtle message. 'Just right,' I concluded.
Arriving at the old turn-of-the-century Victorian mansion, I was curious about Doug's selection of a dining venue. This was primo romantic and you had to have a mission in mind to bring anyone here. 'I hope we're on like missions,' I thought. But I was also aware that some men used a setting like this to announce unpleasant news. We parked on the street and walked in.
"Mr. DiMarco, how nice to see you again," came the greeting from the hostess.
"Hi, Stephanie. Let me introduce you to my good friend, Brent."
"Oh, I've met Mr. Williams before. Hello, Brent."
"Good evening," I said sheepishly. 'Doug had to know that this was one of the favorite dining spots for my clients as well,' I analyzed, 'didn't he?'
"How about my favorite table?" Doug asked.
"It's been reserved for you." We walked back into a quiet dark alcove lighted only by candlelight.
"We're both full of surprises," I said. "Guess you've been entertained here before?"
"Yes. But that was business. This is pure pleasure, Brent."
We both asked for a glass of chardonnay and studied the menus. We decided on crab cakes, spicy pork dumplings, grilled beef tenderloin, and sea bass.
"A quiet dinner, away from everything, is way overdue. I don't want to talk about work. This is about us - where you and I fit into the bigger scheme of things."
"You mean...us in a private sense?" 'Shit,' I thought, 'is this the point where he kisses me off for the new guy?'
"Yes. What our relationship is - and where it should go."
"Where do you want it to go?" 'Not down the drain, I hope.' Doug seemed to be having a difficult time articulating what was on his mind.
"Where ever you want it to go." He looked into my eyes deeply.
'I've got to steer this conversation,' I decided, 'into my territory. It isn't going anywhere this way.' I paused, took a deep breath and said, "Okay, cards on the table. I want to know you as more than a friend."
"More than a friend? You mean..."
"I'm pretty sure I love you." 'Yeah,' I resolved, 'now it's out there.'
In the darkly lit alcove, he grabbed my hand.
"No more than 'pretty sure'?" Doug queried. "I have a love for you that is only getting stronger by the day." He squeezed my hand hard.
"A love for me? What does that mean?" I asked, with my eyes getting larger. 'Okay, make him lay it on the line,' I thought, 'force the issue.'
"Brent, I love you and want you to be my partner for life," Doug blurted out, charged with electric emotion.
'There,' I quietly rejoiced, 'he said it.' My eyes felt strange - like I was ready to release a torrent of tears.
"Truth? I started falling in love with you last fall," I softly replied. "Now, I couldn't be happier." Looking around, and seeing no one looking at us, I grabbed his hand and kissed it. "Pinch me so I know this is for real." We held each other's hand...grinning and staring into each other's eyes as time seemed to stand still.
"Brent, are you sure?" He started massaging the back of my hand with his thumb.
"I've never been surer about anything in my life," I added and started laughing.
Doug smiled with a questioning look and asked, "What's got you going?"
"Oh, babe, I was really afraid, when we arrived, that this was a dinner where you were going to say goodbye, for someone else, and were letting me down gently."
"Never. That will never happen," Doug replied and ferociously squeezed my hand.
"Where do we go from here?"
"Here's the way I see it. I'm out of the Navy at the end of the year. You've got one more year, and then you're free. We should start making some plans."
At that point the server brought the two chardonnays. He looked at our hands with an approving smile before leaving the table.
"A toast, to us." We raised and lightly touched the glasses.
We sipped and looked into each other's eyes. Time to discuss the big picture. "I know you want to get back to L.A. for a career in film and I could very easily follow you out there when I get out. But it would mean being away from each other for a year."
"I'm retiring from our second job when I leave the Navy. Tan Man already knows this. In fact, I may join their Argosy Productions independent film division when I move back to L.A. When I do move, however, we can get together on weekends either here or there. I know that you will want to work next year to build your savings. By the time you get out of the Navy next year, you'll be on financially solid ground."
"You make it sound so simple."
"It's not simple but it's the best we can do. By the way, have you thought about what you want to do when you get out?" Doug looked into my eyes as he took another sip of the wine.
"My transcripts and SAT's are good enough for me to apply to one of the schools out there. Probably either your school or USC."
"USC is probably more prestigious but it's located in a crummy part of town. UCLA is in the center of everything - geographically and politically. The Westside is where it happens in L.A. Places like Pasadena, Orange County and the Valley are just supporting players."
"Then UCLA it is. I can start the paperwork after the first of the year." I decided that I should phone for catalogues very soon and review all my transcripts.
"Whatever you decide, I'll support it. I've thought about this long and hard and I love you with all my heart. This is not a casual thing for me, nor easy for me to say." He reached over and grabbed both my hands. "I've never said it before, to anyone."
"I'm committing to you, lover. Let's have dinner then get back and celebrate before we return to the base," I replied, enthusiastically.
"Correction, sailor. Let's go back and consummate our love aggressively," Doug said with a laugh.
Our first course of pork dumplings and crab cakes arrived. At this point in our lives, it could have been peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We were absorbed with each other.
And consummate aggressively, we did. Brent and I validated our love for each other that night a couple of times. My energy was on the rebound.
Back at the base on Monday, we all concluded that we had survived the Carnival Memphis experience just fine. Admiral Clifton and his wife were ecstatic about our PR contribution to the community. Our stock, especially Mike's, was at a high point.
In the afternoon I got a call from Tan Man. He told me that Brent and I were requested to be available for an assignment in L.A. in the middle of July. For planning purposes, we both needed to take leave time on the Friday before, and the Monday after the weekend. When I found out that $5,000.00 would be deposited into each of our accounts, plus all expenses paid, I was less upset about the disruption to our lives for this special client. 'And it'll be nice to travel with Brent,' I decided, 'and show him around.'
"Okay, who is the client and why does he want to import talent from Memphis when every hot dick in the universe is in L.A.?" I asked over the telephone. I had never actually met Tan Man. His telephone was always secure through the exclusive use of rotating phone lines with the aid of his in-house computer system.
"First, the client is Sam Barron, partner in the Creative Artists Management agency. Second, he is looking for two attractive, intelligent, young men who don't have that jaded Hollywood attitude. You guys have a wholesome look and natural bearing that is very appealing. And you both have an intellectual level of excellence that eludes many of those Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise wannabes out there."
I knew the name. A guy in his late-thirties, Sam Barron was the glue and leader of the hottest talent agency in Hollywood. Actually, it was Beverly Hills but everyone hung onto the Hollywood moniker. I knew, with the amazing roster of talent he represented, Barron could package a deal with above-title talent, director and writer...and sign the deal at Morton's in one evening. Big player. I was also aware that my future out there could be assured, although with strings attached. "Okay, you got me, and I'm sure Brent will go along. What's the deal?"
"Sam is entertaining some investors for a movie he is packaging. He's gone to the next level - merging talent with finance - and the studios will have to bend to his demands even more. The investors are from the Middle East and he knows that the two principals are interested in men. Your reputations precedes you two."
"We'll be the deal maker?"
"Yes, something like that. You fly out Friday morning, stay at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, and return Monday. That night at Morton's, they'll be signing the deal - just the three of them. Pretty simple. Sam has a home in the Hollywood Hills that will be used for entertaining that weekend."
"Let me know the flight times. By the way, can you spring for one more night at the hotel and get us back on Tuesday? That will give me a chance to see my folks and introduce Brent. What kind of clothes should we bring?"
"No problem...I'll take care of one more night. For wardrobe, I have both your sizes and the clothes required will be in your suite, with my compliments. What's the deal with bringing Brent to meet the folks? Sounds serious to me."
"Could be," I answered coyly.
"Well, whatever happens, I wish you two the best of luck. You and Brent have been very good for the firm."
"Hey T, it's also been a pleasure doing business with you. Talk to you soon." 'He must be making some serious bread on this deal,' I concluded, 'if he's springing for an extra night and our clothes.'
I was finally getting back to a normal life after the Carnival partying. This weekend was capped off by July 4th on Monday. It was Dave's 21st birthday, but we'd both be working. The Club hosted an annual cookout at dusk with chicken, ribs and all the traditional cookout food. For ten bucks per adult, we included draft beer. The kids got in for three dollars. The day was subsidized by the Admiral's morale entertainment fund so that the Club could break even. It being a family and date affair, I planned on 500 guests. That meant renting extra tables, chairs, and equipment, with the event spilling out to the grounds surrounding the pool. As everything would be self-serve, my crew could handle it. At the pool, the relief lifeguard and Jim Weiss would help Dave assure that there were no accidents.
Doug informed me about his growing relationship with Brent that night. "Well bro, it sounds pretty serious," I commented as we drank a beer in the BOQ Bar at a quiet table.
"I was pretty nervous. I've never had this happen before - admitting to loving another person, let alone a guy. I gotta thank you, Mike, for pushing me into taking the next step."
"Been there, done that," I replied with a smirk. "Any regrets? No, 'what the fuck did I do' regrets the next morning?"
"Absolutely none. This is the real deal for both of us. In fact, we are both going to L.A. for a long weekend in a couple of weeks. I plan on introducing him to my folks."
"They know you're gay?"
"That's the first barrier to hurdle. I'm going to see them after that weekend, Monday for lunch. If everything goes well, I'll bring Brent into the scene that evening for a nice dinner somewhere. We're going to return Tuesday."
"And if the lunch doesn't go well?"
"Then they've lost a son and Brent and I will go on alone. But, I've dropped some very serious hints to mom over the past year and I'm going to have a long talk with her on the telephone next week. I hate to come out long distance, but time is not on my side. And, I need her to soften up dad."
"Good luck. By the way, Dave mentioned that his family owns some sort of summer cabin up in the Minnesota lake country. It's rented out all summer. But, he's reserved it the weekend after Labor Day. He wants us all to go up there for the holiday. What do you think?"
"Sounds like a great escape. It will be cool at night for some great snuggling by the fireplace, if he has one. And I can make sure he's off the schedule at the club."
"Great, it's good to know people in high places," I said with a grin. "I'll tell Dave that he'll be sprung and you two are in on the trip. I'm sure Brent is bringing him up to speed about you two?"
"Yeah. They're developing a close friendship. Like us." We toasted with the beer mugs.
"I'm going to take him out for a birthday dinner Saturday night. Any suggestions?"
"It's gotta be Cielo. Let me call Stephanie, who runs the reservations, and make arrangements for you."
"That would be great," I replied. "I want to make this a special day for Dave."
By Saturday, I was really jazzed about my birthday dinner with Mike. He wouldn't tell me anything about it except to bring my dark maroon tie and a white button down dress shirt. Because of the busy weekend activities, he wasn't going to arrive until Saturday noontime.
Beth, Phil, and I were sitting around a table poolside. Beth had prepared a light lunch for the four of us, and we were waiting for Mike. I contributed a six-pack of Heineken's in cans.
"Ready for your birthday celebration tonight?" Phil asked.
"Sorta. It's top secret. He's got something planned...that's all I know."
Turning to the gate, Beth announced, "Speaking of the guy." She waved as he approached us.
He was wearing his new jammers and looking very hunky.
"Hi, guys." He walked behind me and placed his hands on my shoulders. I leaned back slightly. Squeezing my neck, he leaned over and pecked Beth on the cheek. She grinned and he next shook Phil's outstretched hand.
"Sit down and grab a beer," Phil said as he opened a can and placed it in front of Mike.
"Thanks." He took a long pull from the can and smiled. "This hits the spot."
Beth took the sandwiches and potato salad from a cooler and arranged the food on the table. "So where are you taking our birthday boy?"
"That will be known in good time," Mike replied with a mysterious smile. Turning to me, he concluded, "But this chow should tide us over until dinner." He winked and squeezed me on the thigh.
"Guess I'll just have to be patient," I replied as everyone grabbed for a sandwich.
Everyone enjoyed lunch and the light conversation. About an hour later, Mike and I thanked Beth for the food and got up from the table. I winked at Beth and Phil with a shit-eating grin as we left.
Up in the apartment, we fell into the now familiar, comfortable, molded embrace. As Mike held me tightly, our mouths came together, parting for our tongues to reacquaint each other. He then proceeded to kiss me on my eyes, forehead, and cheek before nibbling on my ears. I was definitely squirming as he tongued my left ear.
"I missed you," I said with a low, husky voice.
"Me too. When I was dancing with those Memphis post debutantes, all I could think of was this fantastic man waiting for me. I love you."
"Hmmm. We're going to make up for this time away from each other."
While Mike was advancing with oral foreplay, my hands gently massaged his pecs and armpits. As he teased my ear, I gently squeezed his nipples. I heard a small gasp. As he continued to kiss me, his hands came behind my hips. As he massaged my gluts, he pressed our midsections together and started grinding his crotch against mine.
We went over to the bed and dropped our trunks to the floor.
"Your bed is ready, Sir," I said playfully.
"Lead the way, Airman."
I crawled into bed and looked lovingly at this gorgeous tall male specimen with an erection reserved just for me, and said, as I eased down on my back, "I've got an itch, Ensign Cole."
"Where exactly do you itch?"
I slowly raised my knees and brought my arms under them. "Do you see anything that needs scratching?" I slowly licked my lips.
"Oh yeah. I see the problem."
Afterwards, we cuddled and took a nice nap, intertwined in each other's arms and legs.
We were ready to leave around 1900. He was dressed in his black jacket with a club tie and pale ivory shirt. As I finished tying my tie, I returned to the main room and saw Mike holding a jacket for me. "Happy birthday, babe," He said as he walked behind me to assist me into the beautiful blue Polo blazer.
It fit perfectly.
I turned and leaned up to him to offer an appreciative kiss. "Thanks, hon."
"You look great in the jacket." After a longer kiss, he took me by the hand and we walked out of the apartment and down to his car. He gallantly opened the passenger door for me and gave me a playful goose.
"Watch it, Mister," I said with a snicker.
Driving to the secret restaurant allowed us to talk about the little things that you only share with someone important in your life. He told me that the guys were joining us for the long weekend up north in September and that Doug would take me off the schedule. After a fairly short drive, we pulled up to this beautiful old mansion with gas-lit lanterns, a wrought iron fence and an aged brick walkway. The brass plaque stated "Cielo" in understated elegance.
We entered the restaurant. 'Beautiful and elegant,' I thought, 'without being stuffy.' An attractive woman smiled and said, "You must be Dave and Mike?"
We both nodded.
"I'm Stephanie. Welcome to Cielo. Your table is ready...please follow me."
The dining room was bustling with activity and we weaved through a sea of diners who were obviously having a terrific evening. We arrived at a dark corner alcove and took our seats.
"Enjoy your dinner, guys. And Dave, Happy Birthday." Stephanie gave me an envelope and went back to the front.
There was a red rose on the table and a silver champagne cooler along side with a bottle of wine. I opened the envelope and read the card:
"Happy 21st, Dave! Enjoy your dinner and champagne. With love from two friends, Doug and Brent."
"Wow. This is spectacular." Mike took my hand under the table and gave it a warm squeeze.
I'm sure the candlelight reflected my eyes shedding a tear or two. "How lucky am I? I've got you in my life and people that I can count on as friends," I concluded. Happy memories of my folks and Russ came flooding back.
"Dave, we're both lucky." He took the bottle out of the cooler and wiped away the moisture with a towel as he read the label. "The boys have excellent taste."
"It's a good brand?" I asked. Being raised in Minnesota hadn't given me much exposure to fine wines. My folks had usually drunk Beaujolais or a German Riesling at dinner.
"Dom Perignon. One of the best champagnes from France."
He proceeded to remove the foil and wire cage, and gently held the cork while twisting the bottle. There was a quiet pop and small fizz. "Enjoy the bubbles, babe," he said as he proceeded to pour us two glasses. "Legally, I might add."
As he raised his glass, I brought my glass to his and replied, "Mike, to many more birthdays together."
"Count on it."
"Cheers, lover," I replied. Our glasses clinked and we drank this imported sparkling aperitif. Nectar of the Gods was an apt description.
Towards the end of dinner, I was finishing the salmon fillet as Mike was polishing off the roast duck breast. The waiter filled our glasses with the last of this fine champagne.
Mike looked into my eyes and said, "It's incredible what we've been able to accomplish as a couple in such a short time." He raised his glass and smiled before taking a sip. "But, we need to discuss what happens when you ship out this fall." He looked at me with concerned eyes.
"I hope this isn't an irresolvable challenge. I cherish our relationship." I stared back with questioning sincerity.
Looking back into my eyes, he replied, "No. Absolutely not." Taking a deep breath, Mike continued, "Once you're on the ship, you'll be out to sea for two or three months. But when you're in port, I can take weekend Naval Reserve flights out to San Diego. It's a pain in the butt, Dave, but no way am I going to let you slip away." A warm smile crept over his face.
"Well, I can live with that. This is just a short, slippery patch in our lives."
"I also have another option. We haven't heard yet about the status of the base, but scuttlebutt has it that NAS Memphis will be drastically downsized by the end of the year. If that's the case, I'll try pulling a few strings to be re-assigned out West."
"You're a man of surprises and action. I like that."
The server approached to clear and 'crumb' the table. "For your birthday celebration, the Chef has prepared a special dessert," he said with a warm smile. Turning to Dave, he added, "Happy Birthday, Mr. Swenson. From what I see, you have many reasons to be happy."
"Mr. Swenson, we've both got reasons to be happy. Happy 21st," Mike said as we lifted the bubbly to our lips. Looking around first, he took my hand and brought it to his lips momentarily.
"Thanks, sweetheart." Smiling at my man, the thought came to me: 'Where will we be celebrating my birthday next year?' Just then, the server returned with a large puffed up Chocolate Souffl rising a good two inches above the ramekin. He proceeded to portion out the dessert on two plates and topped the hot dessert with vanilla-laced Crme Anglais.
"Wow, that is special. Tell the chef how pleased we are," Mike said.
Smiling, the server placed two small wine glasses in front of us and added, "Stephanie wanted to offer you the Joseph Phelps late harvest Johannesburg Riesling, with our compliments," he said, pouring this beautiful, deep, golden-colored dessert wine for us.
"This is perfect. My compliments," Mike replied. We silently ate the souffl and drank the sweet dessert wine while looking at each other intently.