The rest of September moved rapidly to a close after we returned to Memphis. My orders came during the last week. Rather than going to San Diego, and the Coral Sea, I would be flying to Newport News, Virginia. I would be part of the skeleton crew for the shakedown cruise on a new aircraft carrier due to be commissioned and then sailed to the San Diego North Island homeport. 15 October was my detachment date, reporting to the U.S.S. John Stennis three days later. Sunday, 30 September, would be the last day of the pool operation, and on Monday, Jim would join me in securing the facility for winter. Funny, while we had become quite friendly, I hadn't seen much of Jim for the past couple of months. He always seemed to be very busy.
Mike was present for his daily late swim, Thursday afternoon. I did my closing paperwork in the locker room while Mike got dressed.
"You up for a quiet dinner tomorrow night at the apartment?" he asked. "I plan on taking off early."
"That's fine, babe, as long as you're doing the cooking." Looking at Mike, I chuckled and added, "I'm glad my man knows food."
After pulling up his black boxer briefs, he walked behind me and placed his large hands on my shoulders. "Buddy, I'll handle the food if you'll handle me." With that he ground his cotton-covered package into my butt while moving his hands down to my pecs and nipples.
"Look who's handling who," I muttered with a smile.
"I think it's 'whom', but that's splitting hairs," Mike said with a laugh. "This is just a sample of what I've got planned for you tomorrow." He leaned over for a kiss on the cheek before returning to his locker to finish dressing. Except for an occasional touchy-feely moment like the one that just occurred, we both toed the line on not starting any physical mischief in the locker room. "I'll give you the whole enchilada when I get there."
"How come you're getting off early on Friday?" I stowed my clipboard away and started dressing.
"Taking some personal time off. Tomorrow is a big surprise for you." He smugly looked my way.
"That big surprise I get every week...though I don't think I'd call it an enchilada," I replied with a laugh. "Seriously, wassup?"
"I'll be in town tomorrow afternoon to do food shopping. You'll find out at dinner."
"You're being very mysterious. But if you get the food, I'll buy the wine."
"You're on. I'm grilling steaks. Are you going to the apartment tonight?"
"Yeah. Beth, Phil and I are going to see a new Meryl Streep movie called "The Bridges of Madison County" this evening. Clint Eastwood's in it as well as being the director. I'm leaving as soon as I lock up," I concluded while tucking in my chambray shirt.
"Clint Eastwood in a chick flick? Whatever happened to Dirty Harry?" Mike said. "Hmm, have fun. I'll see ya tomorrow then." We traded kisses as he exited by the back door.
Walking back to the club building, I was bursting with excitement about my surprise for Dave. I could hardly believe it. I went into the bar and found Doug. I had asked him to join me for a drink because I had some big news to share.
Doug stood as I approached the corner booth. There was a happy hour pitcher of beer and two frosted glasses on the table. He must have just arrived because my glass was still cold. "Hey, Doug," I said as we shook hands. I eased into the booth and added, "Looks like the beer fairy has been here."
"Fairy this," he uttered as he discretely grabbed my crotch under the table.
I smiled and said, "Mr. DiMarco, have you no honor? I'm a married man." We both smiled, as he used his free hand to pour a beer. Our friendship had settled into a brotherly relationship. Well, a gay brotherly relationship.
"And so, Mr. Cole, what is the big news?" We both took a good swig.
"I got my orders this morning."
"Since you're smiling, I assume that you like them?"
"Yep. Big time." After taking another swallow of beer, I continued, "After taking the first two weeks of January to close down this place, I'm being transferred to the 'O' Club at North Island as the club officer." I was beaming brightly.
"San Diego? No fucking way! Mike, that's great news. How did Dave react?"
"I'm going to tell him when we have a special dinner tomorrow night."
Doug looked earnestly at me and continued, "He's going to be one happy camper. And I am, too." He motioned me to raise my glass, and we clinked the two together. "With San Diego only a two hour drive from L.A., we can all get together often."
"You're still planning on living at home for a while?"
"Exactly. Mom and dad's place is a great location, and there's plenty of room. Until I know exactly what kind of money I'm going to make in my position with the production company, I need to keep the overhead manageable. I have a feeling that it'll be peanuts to begin with. But, we'll have plenty of time to see each other. I've got lots of places to show you."
"That'll be great. I don't know the West Coast at all."
"I'll be your official guide when you get out there. And, when Dave's ship is in port, we can show him around." He paused and refilled our glasses. "And now, my man, I've got some news for you."
"By the smile, I'd say it's happy news also?"
"Happy doesn't describe it." He paused and lowered his voice level. "Brent got his orders today, too. He's joining some flag command as a Yeoman at the Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego."
"That's great. Our little family unit doesn't have to break up." We both were smiling smugly. Suddenly, Doug's eyes got larger.
"Mike, I just got a great idea. Why don't the four of us get a two-bedroom apartment? You and Brent could live there full time, and Dave and I would have a place to flop when we're in town. Maybe you and Brent could take care of two-third's of the rent, and Dave and I could contribute the remaining third."
"That could work." Brent and I got along very well. Officer-enlisted status didn't mean squat to me off base. "I wonder where we could rent?" I asked with excitement.
"Best place would be an area called Hillcrest. Very close to the San Diego Zoo. It's centrally located, so that each of you wouldn't have a long commute to either base. And the place is gay as a goose."
"Some really hot bars there, but I figure that you and Brent can chaperone each other."
"Maybe he could help ease my tension on occasion?" I said with a smirk.
"No fucking way, Jose."
After checking with all the bartenders and the evening manager early afternoon Friday, I went to the BOQ to change into civvies and make the commute into town. I arrived to an empty apartment around 1500. 'Dave must be out on errands,' I decided. This allowed me time to continue on to Kroger's for steaks, vegetables and salad. Driving further, I picked up a banana cream pie that Dave loved at Sweet Solomon's Bakery. They had a killer graham cracker crust.
I returned at 1630 and discovered that Dave was back. As he approached me in CK briefs and nothing else, I eagerly waited for his welcoming kiss and caress. "Hi babe, missed you," he said, coming up and nibbling my lower lip while cupping my ass with his warm hands. I set down the groceries and pie box on a nearby table.
"Hon, you know how to make me feel welcomed," I replied. "I never tire of being around you."
"Hmmm." He moved his groin into mine and started rotating. "Is this the way Lucy and Desi started?"
Pulling my hand up behind his neck, I started rubbing his short-cut hair. "What are you, some kind of trivia queen?"
Dave pulled away and grinned. "Queen? The whole barracks watches Nickelodeon at Night and all these re-runs. Queen my ass." He assumed fake-pout mode.
"Your ass is what I have in mind later." With that, I launched into a full-frontal kiss. I breathlessly withdrew and added, "I hardly think of you as a queen."
"I know." He resumed our kisses. Finally, he rested his head on my shoulder. With a final hug, he said, "This is just part one." Pulling away, he took the grocery bag while I retrieved the pie box.
In the kitchen, while I unpacked this afternoon's purchases, Dave said, "It looks like Mr. Cole and Mr. Swenson are going to eat pretty well tonight."
"Gotta make sure my man is well fed." I replied as I organized the food.
"I found a terrific 1991 Camus Cabernet Sauvignon today in a little liquor store on sale, for 15 bucks. They obviously didn't know what they had."
"Wow. My cost would be around $60.00, wholesale. Good shopping." I turned and gave him a light peck on the lips.
"Your personalized wine appreciation classes have come in handy."
"And classes will continue next semester," I replied with a shit-eating grin.
"We can talk about it over dinner. How was the movie last night?" I walked to the closet area and changed into cargo shorts and a tee while Dave gave me a short synopsis of the movie.
Returning to the kitchen, I prepared the salad and heated the water for cooking the broccoli. "Babe, if you'll watch the water, I'll go below to turn on the grill and start the steaks." The apartment complex had a common gas grill for our use by the pool. Before leaving, I added, "It might be a good idea to open the wine and let it breathe."
"Good idea. Then I'll put some clothes on."
After turning on and lighting the grill, I waited for the heat to peak before placing the two New York strip sirloin steaks on the fire. Closing the lid, I returned to the apartment to see what else was needed. Dave had set the table and the Camus was open. I could hardly wait to sample Dave's fantastic bargain. As I walked into the kitchen, I was handed a large cocktail glass filled with a chilled, clear liquid.
"Absolut Citron, of course." Dave knew I love a shaken Absolut Citron martini with a lemon peel.
"Thanks, babe. You always know how to make me happy." We lightly clinked our glasses and sipped slowly. "I'm going to take this down while I tend to the steaks. Would you put the broccoli in the pot when the water comes to a boil?"
"Yes, my chef." Dave said, and winked as I returned to the grill below. It was time to turn over the steaks.
While watching the meat cook to perfection, I thought about these last five months. How lucky was I to be able to continue our wonderful relationship together out West? I had won the mega-lottery. I pulled the medium-rare steaks off the grill and returned with the charred beauties on a platter.
Dave had set the salads at our place settings. In the kitchen, I arranged the steaks and vegetables onto two plates and returned to the dining table. As we sat down, Dave poured a taste of wine in my glass. I gratefully tasted this robust, red California wine with all its complexities of the earth and fruit. "This wine is marvelous. Thank you." He poured more for me before filling his glass half-full.
"Mike, I'm dying to know what this surprise is. That it's our fifth month anniversary is hardly a secret." We both drank the wine and started slicing the meat.
"Now that you mention it, happy fifth. And here's to many, many more." We clinked glasses again.
"And then you said something about me continuing with your wine classes. What gives?"
"Excellent question. Tonight, I want to talk about our future. You're leaving for your ship in two weeks. I want to discuss what's going to happen with us once you're gone." I looked at him in a solemn manner.
"I didn't plan on falling in love," he replied. "I don't know what the answer is." He stared down at the plate contemplatively.
"Well, I've found a solution," I said brightly.
"Solution?" He looked up at me in a curious and hopeful fashion.
"I got orders today transferring me to a new club somewhere on a base called 'North Island'." I looked into his eyes as he slowly registered that we were going to be together in San Diego.
He jumped up from the table and came over to give me a big hug. "Oh, shit, Mike, I couldn't have dreamed for this to happen. When did you find out?"
"Yesterday. I know I was a little deceptive, but I wanted to wait until we were together like this to share the news." I stood and kissed him. "Let's sit down and eat while the steaks are still warm."
Returning to his seat, he continued, "This is wild. I didn't have a chance to tell you that Brent is also being transferred to San Diego. To Miramar."
"I know. Doug and I talked about that and batted around some ideas. How would you feel if Brent and I shared a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego that you would use as home when you're in port, and Doug would have available when he visits Brent?"
"I love it."
"If it'll work out, a lot of problems on logistics could be solved." I then gave Dave a rundown on the arrangements that Doug had suggested and the Hillcrest neighborhood.
"Mike, if you don't mind, I have tons of furnishings we could use from my old home in St. Paul. They have special meaning, but they're just gathering dust in storage at Bekins."
"If what's in storage is anything similar to what I saw at Gull Lake, I'm all for it."
Dave shot me a goofy grin as he took another sip of the classic Cabernet. "Mom collected a lot of antiques and classic furniture. I've also got her art collection. I'll ship it out to San Diego and we can pick what we want."
I felt very pleased that our tight group would be in Southern California together. Mike was one happy man. I didn't want to reveal that Brent had been busy networking with that crusty, old chief in the admiral's office to arrange the transfers for Mike and himself. That knowledge would remain between Brent and me.
Pulling into a parking spot by the apartment, I noticed that Jim had already arrived. I had asked Jim and Trev to meet me Friday at 1900. Getting out of the car, I greeted Jim with a handshake at the front door and a friendly hug. He understood that we were friends and colleagues only.
"Doug, I'm glad that you, Trev and I are getting together tonight. We've all been so busy," he said with a grin.
"Yes, busy it has been. We're about to go into the convention season." Both Jim and Trev had adapted well to the work. They both had a realistic attitude about their roles and respected Tan Man's judgment about clients. We had gotten used to calling him 'T'.
"Are we all booked tomorrow night?"
"Yes. And I think you're pulling an all-nighter." I squeezed his shoulder as I unlocked the door, motioning him to enter first.
"So I'm told. But I don't know where it will be."
Turning on the lights, I walked to the kitchen. "How about a beer?" Jim gave me thumbs up. When I returned with two chilled cans of Bud Light, we sat on the couch. Pulling the tab, I said, "Actually, you'll be entertaining here."
"Whoa, this is a first for me. Why am I using your place?" We both took long sips.
"Let's wait until Trev gets here. He's picking up Chinese from a place on Poplar Avenue." Just then the doorbell chimed. "You grab a beer for Trev, and I'll get the door." I opened the door and feasted my eyes on this archetype of a Southern gentleman stud. I had chosen two hot men. "Hey, buddy," I said giving him a light kiss on the lips after closing the door.
"Doug." He wrapped his arm around my waist and lightly kissed back. Pulling away, he smiled broadly when Jim returned with the beers.
"I'll trade you a beer for that take-out bag." Jim exchanged the food for the cold beer and leaned in for a longer kiss. Releasing the lip lock, he said softly, "Good to see you, Trev."
I suddenly realized that their friendship was progressing. 'Hmmm,' I thought. 'Have we got a budding romance here?' "Jim, why don't you turn the oven on 'low' and put the food in there to keep warm. Trev, help me set the table. There will be four of us."
"Four? Is your partner joining us?" He was aware that I had not introduced Brent to Jim as an associate, and I had asked Trev not to mention to Jim who his trainer was.
Out of hearing, I answered, "It's time for the two guys to meet." We proceeded setting the table while Jim took care of the food. Just then, the doorbell rang again. Raising my voice, I said, "Jim, the fourth guest is here. Can you grab another beer and join us in the living room?" Brent and I always rang before entering the apartment...just in case.
Trev followed me as I opened the door and received my love. After he entered, I pulled him into a tight embrace and kissed him with just a little tongue. We didn't say anything. The smiles were enough.
"Here's the extra beer," said Jim, leaving the kitchen. The food's all set and...Brent?" He stopped dead in his tracks. With a bewildered expression, he continued, "Wha...what are you doing here?"
Brent walked forward and shook the hand of his bewildered barracks-mate. "For some good food, companionship and conversation."
"Doug felt it was time for you to meet his partner and your associate." Brent walked up to Jim and took the extra beer. "Let me officially welcome you to our group." He brought Jim's head close with his free hand and gave the sailor a big sloppy kiss. "I've wanted to do that since the first time I saw you in the shower a year ago."
Jim, still a little stunned, sheepishly grinned and responded, "I wish you had."
"Guys, sit down." We all gathered on the couch and easy chairs. "I thought it was time for you two to meet. While I've had you under my wing, Jim, Brent has been mentoring Trev. You're both fast learners." I hoisted my beer and the others did the same. We all silently toasted each other. "I didn't want the two of you to meet until you'd passed our training because of the Navy aspect. Jim, you've done well. I'm proud of you." Jim was beaming with pride.
Brent took over. "As you're aware, Doug is leaving the Navy at the end of the year. And I'm being transferred at about that same time. We're effectively retiring from 'the business' next month." The new associates were glued to our words.
"Jim, you asked about this apartment before the other guys arrived. I wanted both you and Trev to hear this together." The two guys leaned forward. "This place is actually rented and furnished by Tan Man. Brent and I use this as a rest stop and for an occasional evening of entertaining."
"What happens to the apartment after you're gone?" Trev asked.
Out of my pocket, I retrieved two sets of keys. Handing a set to each of the guys, I answered, "This will be your place next month. Or, like tomorrow with Jim, a place for a special client."
Trev looked at Jim and asked, "How do we coordinate this?"
"Basically like I do now. I've already cleared this with 'T'. Trev, because you live in Memphis and are a civilian with less chance of being monitored, you're going to be the coordinator of the apartment and all appointments that are booked, as of the first of November. 'T' will be going through you for all of Jim's dates." They looked at each other and nodded affirmatively. "Other than official business, you two can work out the who and the when of staying here. From what I've observed, I assume that one bedroom is all that will be required?" I smiled at both guys. They grabbed each other's free hand and smiled back, before affirming with a kiss.
"We've realized that we are more than friends," Trev offered. "Maybe with this place to get together, we'll find out just how much more."
Jim gave Trev a light kiss and got up. "I'll get the food out of the oven and bring it to the table. You want to help me?" he said directly to his friend. Trev left the living room with Jim, hand in hand.
"So how are the acting lessons going?" I asked when Brent and I were alone.
"The teacher is super. I'm doing one-part scenes in the Saturday afternoon class in addition to private tutoring on Wednesdays. Next month, he's going to focus the class on three and four character scenes from various plays. He thinks I show great promise for film."
"Has Sam gotten back to you with any acting ideas, like he discussed?" I asked.
"Only that I need to take two weeks leave in January to shoot a few scenes in a new movie called "Titanic." I don't know anything more than that Leonardo DiCaprio is in it. Sam is really pleased that I'll be living in San Diego. He mentioned something about the La Jolla Playhouse and some scenes later in the year in the movie that Abe and Fred are backing."
"I'm really happy for you. Maybe we'll be working together. Sam sent me a note indicating that he would have a definite offer ready next month on that "Confidential" movie. Apparently the script doctors are tweaking the final script now."
From the dining table Jim announced, "Chow's ready."
We were all pretty comfortable, and the conversation bounced around quickly and lightly. Jim accepted his barracks-mate's status and was actually joking about the mysterious Brent who was never around. When dinner was finished and the kitchen was clean, Brent and I paired up and went to our bedroom. Jim and Trev were not far behind to theirs.
After clearing the table and stacking the dishes, Dave and I moved over to the sitting area. We still had the Camus Cabernet Sauvignon to finish. Dave lit some of the candles left over from our romantic encounter last summer. I was sitting in the desk chair after kicking my flip-flops off. After turning off all the lights, and selecting some soft FM music, he turned and started swaying to the melody. Coming closer to me, he started unbuttoning his shirt, moving his shoulders to the beat of the song.
"Oh, yeah. You know how to please daddy," I huskily uttered in approval.
"Daddy likes?" He had unbuttoned the shirt and was now slowly letting it suggestively fall from his arms. The music faded into one of my all-time favorites, Barry White's 'You're The First, The Last, My Everything'. Dave's eyes were glistening as he kicked off his Topsiders and slowly unbuttoned his Khaki shorts.
As I reached forward to help the zipper action, Dave slapped my hands away and shook his head, indicating 'no'. He lip-synched the title of the song while lowering the zipper. Turning around, I was treated to the vision of him sliding down his shorts to reveal his hot tight butt covered only with thin white cotton. Kicking away the shorts he turned around, with Barry pounding out the lyrics in the background.
"Hey, big boy, is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" he muttered as he drew nearer with a seductive leer.
"I'm happy to see you, babe, and this ain't no banana." I had to smile at his use of Mae West's legendary line. Coming nearer, he straddled the chair and slowly, in time with the music, lowered himself and started to do a sailor's rendition of a lap dance. At this point, my cargo shorts were definitely tenting.
"Are you having fun, big guy?" he whispered in my ear, as his butt started grinding against my hard member. Before I could answer, he aggressively pulled my tee up. I voluntarily lifted my arms for easy removal. With that, the music segued into another Barry White song, 'Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe'. The friction was becoming difficult to handle. Just then, Dave commanded, "Join me, lover," and pulled me off the chair after he got off my lap.
"Is this how you treat all your tricks, sailor?" I smirked, while starting to move with the beat. We danced as if our crotches were glued to each other.
He swiftly unbuttoned my cargo shorts and unzipped them in one motion. "The trick is to find what's underneath," he replied as the shorts dropped to my feet. I stepped out of them and kicked them out of the way. I still had on my boxers, but not for long. Two hands wrapped around my waist and pulled the boxers down. I had no choice but to kick those aside also.
"I'm at a disadvantage. You still have your shorts on." This time, I initiated removal of his last remaining piece of clothing - with no objections. Dave's briefs joined the abandoned apparel strewn around the deck, as his hard dick bounced up and slapped against his belly.
We started to grind our now unleashed hard cocks against each other while keeping to the beat of the music. I had been transported into an adult fantasyland. At some point, I felt the bed mattress behind my legs and I fell backwards. Dave was right beside me straddling my leg and thigh.
"I want to be inside you tonight. Are you okay with that, Mike?" He was slowly humping my thigh as he nibbled on my ear.
"Yeah, that would be good. No...make that great."
"Almost as great as our next adventure out West," Dave replied, as we got more comfortable.