"What do you mean? What's going on? Where is Marcus?" Mom glanced past the two of us.
"He's gone off with... I can't... This really can't be happening."
Dad looked confused.
"Tony, you need to calm down and explain what's going on. I tried to introduce Marcus to Adrian, an incredibly gifted and famous photographer. Apparently, they already knew each other. And now they've gone off for a drink together. I'm confused and you're borderline frantic."
"Baby, this isn't like you. Take a deep breath and talk to us."
"Okay, Marcus and Adrian do know each other. When Marcus was a sophomore in college, he fell in love with a senior. That senior was Adrian. They were in a photography class together. Marcus was head over heels. Things were amazing at first. At the end of that semester, they spent most of Christmas break traveling around New York City taking photos. Marcus said they worked twenty hour days. He made it sound amazing.
"Unfortunately, when Marcus returned to campus for the next semester, he caught Adrian cheating on him. He was devastated.
"We really only talked about it once, so I only know a little bit of the story. I guess Marcus forgave Adrian. But Adrian continued to cheat on him, and Marcus continued to go back. By the end of the semester, Marcus was at his breaking point.
"Just days before the year was over, Adrian suddenly disappeared. Marcus never got a phone call, a note, or any explanation. Adrian just vanished without a word.
"A few years later while in law school, Marcus got a short note from Adrian telling him the life they each wanted wasn't the same. That's the only contact they've had in twelve years.
"Marcus never really recovered from that experience. He hasn't been serious with anyone until me. He confessed part of the reason he never told me how he felt: he was afraid to open his heart again. I mean this amazing man never let himself love again because he was hurt so badly by Adrian.
"Not long after we were here for Labor Day, Marcus flipped out on me when I simply fell asleep helping Keith study. He completely over reacted...
"And now I'm doing the same thing... Shit."
I sat there for a minute thinking about the situation.
Dad finally spoke up, "You're saying Marcus had a relationship with Adrian in college. He was hurt badly and just now was the first time they have seen each other since."
"Yes. And now they've gone off together. I really don't know what to think."
Mom gently placed her hand on my arm and said, "You need to calm down. Marcus loves you more than anything in the world. You just need to give him some time. It seems to me this might be the chance for him to get closure; the chance to speak his mind about the hurt from all those years ago."
"I know. But what about those unresolved feelings. And seriously, how do I compete with Adrian? I mean he's incredibly talented, rich, good looking, famous..."
"Anthony Michael Wallace, what has gotten into you? This isn't like you. What would make you think you need to compete?"
"I don't know. I don't know what to think. Marcus barely explained the whole relationship with Adrian. He seems so different when he thinks about that man. I just don't know what to think. I mean we were in New York City and Marcus saw some of Adrian's work at the museum. The look on his face was just plain worrisome."
"Look... Marcus isn't Jared. He'd never hurt you. Besides, you can't believe he would go back to that mess. This is just about getting some closure." Mom seemed to think if she said it then it must be true.
Dad took a sip of his beer. He gestured for me to do the same.
"Tony, stop and think for a minute. Has Marcus ever done anything to make you think he could walk away from what you have? Seriously, you are overreacting. Let's have a nice dinner. I'm sure Marcus will be texting you before you know it."
"Really Baby, you'll see, you'll be hearing from him in no time." Mom tried to reassure me.
"Okay, I'm sorry. I just hate this whole thing..."
I took a deep breath. They were right. I was blowing things out of proportion. However, a part of me was still reeling from just the appearance of Adrian, I couldn't even image what Marcus was thinking. I didn't want to ruin what should have been an amazing day for my father, but I couldn't shut off that part of my brain.
I tried to carry on with my parents as though everything was fine, but my head was still spinning. Fortunately, Dad was recounting his day and I wasn't needed to participate much in the conversation. Mom kept giving me looks and I smiled back at her. I knew neither one of them believed I'd calmed down, but thankfully they never pressed the point.
We finished dinner and headed off to our rooms.
"I know you are going to sit and stew. Just remember Marcus loves you more than anything. Why don't you call one of your friends and take your mind off things. Marcus will be back before you know it. We will see you in the morning at brunch before the gallery opens." Dad gave me a hug.
"Okay, I'll see you guys in the morning. Sleep well."
I walked into the room and slumped against the wall. I'd sent Marcus a text earlier but still hadn't gotten an answer back. I stared at the phone.
Suddenly, I got an idea. My father was right I could call a friend. I rang up Danni.
"Hello? What's up Tony? We just got back from dinner. We play Chicago for the next couple of weeks. It's nice to settle in for a few days."
"Danni, I need to talk to you..." I started to choke up.
"What is it? Did something happen to you? You seemed to be completely over your attack. Calm down, we can talk this out."
"That's not it. It's Marcus."
"Okay, calm down. Talk to me, has he been hurt? What's going on?"
"We are in Boston at my father's exhibition and who shows up at the show but Adrian. Well, of course, my father had no idea the history. He was all excited someone as famous as Adrian loved his work. When Adrian and Marcus saw each other, it was bizarre. The next thing I knew, the two of them were leaving together with me standing there. I don't know what to think... what to do... "
Danni started quietly, "Look... I was there for the whole Adrian disaster. I saw the highest highs and the deepest depressions. I spent a lot of time trying to help him get over that man. I also know the stupid fucking note Adrian sent years later just festered in the wound.
"He threw himself into law school. Not that Marcus ever had any problems in school, but he became obsessed. He had no desire for any personal life. Even after school, it was all we could do to get him to even date. I'm not sure he dated five people in all those years. Only Scott is still around, and I think that's because Scott kept hoping to re-ignite things.
"Tony, you know that Marcus went years without opening his heart. It was so hard to watch him keep the walls built. Even with you, he kept you at an arm's length. He was totally in love with you, but wouldn't open up and let you know how he felt. You can't imagine how hard I pushed him to talk to you.
"Marcus never got over Adrian. You know that. He went through hell and back when they were together, and then after Adrian walked away, he never fully recovered; until you... "
"I know most of that. Danni, do you think those unresolved feelings could bite me in the ass? Could I lose Marcus?"
He hesitated. Or maybe I just felt like it was the longest pause ever...
"No. Marcus loves you more than anyone who has ever come into his life. Even in its highest high, his relationship with Adrian pales in comparison. Right now he's probably singing your praises and giving Adrian a piece of his mind. There is no way he would ever go back to that mess. I know this is fucking frustrating for you, but you have to trust Marcus.
"Tony, I know you. You are freaking out. But you need to stop right now. We are talking about Marcus; he's getting a shitload of hurt off his chest right now. Adrian may have been able to talk him into forgiving him over and over again when he was nineteen. But now Marcus has a real relationship, with you, amazing, wonderful, loving, drama queen Tony." He burst out laughing.
"I mean it. You have nothing to worry about. Tony, Marcus loves you. Adrian is an incomplete chapter from the past. Marcus is finally getting the chance to get an ending on his terms. Trust me. Better yet... Trust him."
"Thanks. Danni, you're right; But drama queen?"
"There he is. You are going to be fine. I'm not going to tell you to relax; I'm not stupid. Seriously, things will work out fine. Let me tell you about the tour... "
And so he did. It was a great distraction. Danni's storytelling kept my mind occupied. Soon it was midnight and I was nodding off.
"Goodnight Danni. Thanks for helping me get a better perspective on Adrian and Marcus. I just wish he'd at least return my text or something."
"Get some sleep. I have a feeling you guys are going to be spending a lot of time talking about this later."
I tried to sleep. I must have nodded off, briefly. When I looked at my phone it was after two in the morning, still no word from Marcus. I began to think the worst again. I curled up and began to sob. I must have dozed again. Suddenly, I felt arms around me and a body pressed against my back.
My first reaction was utter relief. I pulled his arms tighter around me. I softly began to cry.
"I'm sorry. I never meant to be so long. Please don't be mad. I really needed to do this; I needed to get free from the past. Please understand."
I nodded and pulled him closer. I barely could choke out a response.
"W-we need to talk about this. I was embarrassingly f-frantic earlier. I flipped out in f-front of my parents, and then ended up calling Danni."
"Fuck... I'm sorry. I didn't think about how you would react. I knew I needed to finally get Adrian out of my head, but I didn't think about your feelings. I'm so very sorry. I love you. I will never stop loving you.
"Can I hold you for a little while and try to get some sleep. I promise to tell you everything."
"The gallery opens at one; we have brunch with my parents at eleven-thirty. They are going to want to know what happened. I'm afraid I freaked out a little after you left."
"Please turn around and look at me."
I shook my head. I didn't want him to see my red rimmed eyes.
"Babe, please. I need to look at you."
I shifted in his arms. When I finally turned to look at him, he smiled at me.
"I love you. You never have to worry about anyone coming between us. You should know that... I'm sorry I left so abruptly. I was in shock. I never expected to see Adrian standing there. I will admit my first reaction was to punch him in the face. All I felt was seething anger, and then it washed over me. I knew I needed to put whatever emotions remained to rest.
"I'm sorry. I never considered your feelings. It was all response and no thought. I have never had a conversation with you about Adrian after that idiot reaction of mine to Keith. At the time, I didn't think it was necessary. And then my space cadet move in the museum, I should have stopped and talked to you after that trip. You couldn't know what I was thinking... how I was feeling.
"But, I was completely selfish; I just wanted to close that part of my life for good. I thought I'd put it all past me. There was no reason to go into it with you. Unfortunately, I was kidding myself. The worst part is you would have been happy to listen.
"Babe, I know you are upset with me. You have every right to be angry. Please forgive me. I promise to fill you in on all the gory details. Can we try to get a couple of hours of sleep first? Please."
"I don't know. Marcus, I hate the way I felt when you walked away. I didn't know what to think. I didn't know what the hell was going on, or even where you were. And then you didn't answer my text... I was beside myself."
"God, I'm an ass."
"No, but I was confused and frantic. I thought... I don't know what I really thought. I knew I was overreacting but I couldn't stop. Marcus, I told you after my accident. You are my whole world. I couldn't bear the thought of you wanting to re-... whatever with Adrian. How could I possibly compete with him?"
"Like that... You called me Tony when you left. It felt like a knife cutting into me. I know I'm being a drama queen, hell, Danni even called me one. But... Fuck; now I'm taking it out on you and working myself into another frenzy... "
"Don't you dare tell me to relax."
He calmly said, "I didn't mean it like that. I don't want you to work yourself into a headache. You have every right to rage at me. I'm sorry."
He slowly brushed my cheek with his fingers. I burst into tears. He pulled me close and I continued to sob. He held me tight, slowly rubbing my back. I started to calm down slightly. He moved my head back and kissed me.
The tears stopped and I began to respond to the kiss. He continued to gently stroke my hair and kiss my lips. I grabbed his face and began to fervently kiss him back. I couldn't get enough. My entire body began to react. I could feel his reaction at the same time.
I started to move against him, the need increasing. I moved so I was on top of him still rubbing, hardness against hardness. Frantic and frenzied, I completely stopped thinking; Movement causing sweat. Sweat increasing the pleasure; pleasure causing loss of all control.
Suddenly, Marcus grabbed my hips and stopped the motion. I whimpered. He reached on the nightstand for the travel bag and retrieved the lube. With one hand, he pulled my head back down and started kissing me again. The other hand lined up my cock, and then he pulled me into him. He looked me in the eye and nodded. I began to thrust.
I was already on edge. I started thrusting wildly. The moment he began to cum and his ass clamped down, I exploded. When it was over I collapsed on top of him.
"That was incredible. You are unbelievable. You are my whole world, too. No one can compete with you. Don't ever think otherwise."
I lay there for a moment. Not sure what I was feeling. He moved me off of him and then rolled onto his side and smiled at me.
"Our first make-up sex... Almost makes me want to have more misunderstandings with you."
He nodded his head. "Babe, I promise you we will talk about Adrian. I'll fill you in on the past and tell you about the last few hours. But, don't ever doubt my love for you. I handled this whole thing badly from start to finish. Forgive me, please."
"Marcus, of course... Was there ever any doubt? You knew I'd forgive you, but I really need to know everything."
"I know. You will. I promise."
"I'm afraid if we drop it now that will be the end. I guess you got closure, but I feel like I'm going to be left hanging."
"I made you a promise. I will keep it."
"I'm not sure four hours of sleep will do us much good, but it's better than nothing. You need to hold me like you'll never let go."
We moved into position. Marcus reached around and did just that. We drifted off. For me it was restless, dozing off and on. I would start to sleep and then wake suddenly; needing to make sure Marcus was still there. After what seemed like no time at all my phone started to ring.
"Tony, it's Dad. You need to meet us in about a half an hour for brunch. I'm just calling to make sure you guys are up."
"Umm, yeah, I guess we will see you in thirty minutes. We'd better get moving."
"Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, it was a late night. We will see you in a few... Bye, Dad.
"Marcus, we need to get going. It's after eleven. We are going to be late."
"We can shower together to save time. I promise no funny business. Can you wait until we get to brunch for your coffee?"
"Yeah, I guess."
Marcus started the shower and let it warm up. He moved into the tub and held the curtain for me. We cleaned each other lovingly; the moment he began to wash my hair I lost it. He held me close and rinsed my head. After he turned off the water, He put his hand under my chin and kissed me.
"Anthony Michael Wallace, I love you. I'm sorry about last night. You will get your explanation. I will tell you everything."
"I know. I just don't know what I would have done... "
"It will never happen. Don't even think about it." He pulled me in for a kiss. "Let's get ready for brunch before we are really late."
We arrived at the hotel restaurant about five minutes late. My parents were already seated at a table. Mom had a concerned look on her face as we sat down.
Marcus started quietly, "I owe both of you an apology. It was a complete shock to see Adrian yesterday at the show. I should never have left without an explanation. It was rude and inconsiderate. I am truly sorry. Adrian was unfinished business for me. I allowed my emotions to take over and didn't think what it would mean to you. Any of you... "
Dad spoke up, "Apology accepted. Are you two okay?"
"Your son has forgiven me. He deserves to get a full explanation. He will get it soon. I love him more than words can express. I needed to have the conversation with Adrian, but I wish I'd handled things differently."
Mom was still staring at me. Her look had not changed.
"We are good. You both were right. I overreacted 'a little'. I'm sorry. I think we just need to enjoy today. Yesterday will work itself out."
I smiled and looked around for the wait staff.
"Don't worry son. Your coffee is on its way. Check out the menu; your mother and I are ready to order when drinks are delivered."
My parents didn't bring up the previous day again. Brunch was excellent if subdued. The afternoon flew by and soon enough the show was over. Marcus and Dad were meeting with the gallery owner. Mom and I walked around the gallery while we waited.
"So, your Dad's retirement party is in three weeks. I'll make sure you guys get an invitation in the mail. You need to be here. I know things are crazy between the wedding plans and the new house, but you know how much it would mean to him."
"Of course, we will be there. Nothing could keep us away. Is it a surprise party?"
"No, he knows about it. It would be nice if you could come up on Friday and stay through the weekend."
"I'll let Marcus know right away so he can arrange his schedule. I still can't believe Dad is actually retiring. It's so cool for both of you."
"Yeah, we are both looking forward to retirement. It will be nice to be able to just do whatever we want, whenever we want. Travel, work in the garden, or visit you and Marcus."
Marcus and Dad finally finished with the gallery owner and walked over to us. They were both grinning from ear to ear.
"Well, you both look like the cat that swallowed the canary. Tell us what's going on." Mom got between them and hugged them both into her.
Dad began, "Well Jasper, the owner, has offered me another show. He wants me to pull together another forty pieces for next year. I guess thirty-two pieces sold over the two days."
"Actually, he wanted a show for Labor Day weekend, but Sam begged off trying to pull something together that quickly. Plus, he still owes Crystal another show this summer.
"Babe, how soon will we be able to head to New Hampshire again?"
"Actually, we need to come back in three weeks. There is a retirement party to attend."
"Excellent. That sounds perfect. What do you all say to a celebration dinner? I think Tony and I are going to call it an early night and head for home right after breakfast tomorrow."
Mom smiled, "I'm in the mood for a seafood meal. I know my son is always happy to get a lobster for dinner. There must be a good place somewhere in this city."
"I know just the place." Marcus said and pulled out his phone.
Marcus grabbed my hand and we all walked to his Lexus. A thirty minute drive had us south of the city on the route to Cape Cod. Marcus pulled into the lot of a small restaurant on the shore. I gave him a questioning look.
"This place is owned by my friend Richard's family. They have the best clam chowder I have ever eaten. I called ahead to let them know there would be four for dinner. The restaurant is small and always packed. Trust me. You'll love the place."
We did. Marcus was absolutely right about the clam chowder. Unbelievable and delicious, it was full of clams, bacon, carrots, and potatoes, and was served with homemade oyster crackers that melted in your mouth.
Mom's seared scallops, Dad's grilled swordfish, and Marcus's mussels were all cooked to perfection. I choose broiled stuffed lobster. The stuffing was full of crab meat. The lobster was as sweet as any I'd ever eaten.
The owners visited with us during our meal. They obviously loved what they did, funny and full of joy; they added to the experience. Kidding Marcus about not visiting often enough and making us all feel like part of the family, they insisted we stop again soon. When Marcus told them of our planned week at the Cape, they made us promise to stop on the way down.
It would have been a perfect night, but I continued to allow the thought of Adrian to invade an edge of my brain. I put on a good face, but every now and then Marcus would catch me staring at him and he would nod.
The four of us split a couple slices of cheesecake with fresh strawberries and called it a night. As we drove back to the hotel Marcus held my hand. He smiled at me with those cobalt blue eyes, and my heart melted. I took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. Most of the stress from the weekend flowed out. Marcus brought my hand to his lips and kissed the back. He reached over and wiped a tear from my left cheek; a tear I hadn't even felt leak out from my eye. I still wanted to hear what he had to say about Adrian, but at that moment I no longer felt uneasy about it.
We said good night to my parents and made plans for breakfast. Dad wanted to leave early so he could make it home in time for Memorial Day services at the cemetery. My father's best friend from high school had been killed at the end of the Vietnam War. He never missed a Memorial Day and a chance to remember his friend.
Marcus and I got ready for bed. We settled in with my head on his chest. He kissed the top and took a deep breath. I lifted my head and kissed him.
"I'd like to leave these feelings here. If you feel up to it, I want to talk about Adrian. I don't want to bring it home. Does that make sense to you? I know we are both exhausted so if you don't want to do it tonight I understand. But, I would rather leave it in Boston."
"I understand. I need to look at you though. I can't do this talking to the top of your head."
I sat up and grabbed a pillow. I felt myself start to clutch at the pillow and rock slightly.
"Babe, please try to not be so stressed. I thought we were good tonight. You seemed to be okay on the way back from the restaurant."
"I was... I am. Sorry... I don't know why this makes me feel so tense. I think I feel guilty about making you do this now. I hate to put you through this, but I don't want a shadow lurking... "
"I understand. Don't feel guilty."
I kissed him and put the pillow back. I consciously made an effort to be motionless. I gave him my complete attention.
"I hope you won't think less of me after this story. I'm a little embarrassed."
I already told you how Adrian and I first met. He swept me off my feet completely. His confidence enveloped me. That first semester together was magical. I loved being with him no matter what we were doing.
It's funny looking back years later, I forgot about the nights he spent complaining about his father's plans for him. He needed to find a way to get out from under his thumb. I encouraged him to follow his dreams, not to settle for a life he didn't want. I didn't know I wasn't a part of those dreams at the time, that I could only be part of his life if he settled. I thought I was being supportive and deepening our relationship. I was so very wrong.
I suppose I should have seen the signs. While we were in New York over break, I started to be less of a boyfriend and more of an assistant. We shared a bed, but really weren't physical during that time. I thought it was due to exhaustion. I didn't realize when I was in the hotel room downloading shots Adrian was fucking around with the hotel staff, random strangers in bars, and even going to adult book stores. He was slowly becoming an adrenaline junkie. Our relationship was becoming less and less important to him.
I got home from New York exhausted. I slept for two days. I spent a couple of days getting ready to return to school. I packed my car so I could leave the next morning. Unfortunately, my father and I fought about how I wasted my vacation following some boy around New York. I got so angry with him I stormed out of the house and drove off to school. I wasn't expected until the next day, so I surprised Adrian. He was fucking around with two meaningless guys.
I was crushed. I just had a fight with my father, and now my whole world came crashing down around me. I sped back to the dorms and collapsed on my bed in tears. Adrian found me there hours later. Somehow he convinced me all gay relationships worked like that... He asked me what the point of being gay was if you couldn't enjoy the company of many men. He made me question my desire for an emotional attachment.
I went back to him. At first, he was discreet about his 'play time' as he called it. I thought things were going well briefly, but then he tried to introduce another person to our physical relationship. I was still so very much in love with him I agreed. I told you before, the sex was good, but afterwards I felt worse, almost dirty. I spiraled into depression. He said I was being immature and needed to lighten up. The only change, he became less discreet about his escapades.
My self confidence was shot. I internalized everything and instead of blaming Adrian for cheating I tried to figure out what was wrong with me. He wouldn't need to find other men to have sex with if I was any good, would he?
Marcus took a deep breath.
"That's why I was so adamant about making you understand you didn't do anything wrong with Jared. I knew where those feelings came from because I'd been there. I couldn't bear the thought you would feel it was your fault. I knew how long it took me to get past it. Frankly, until you finally broke through the walls around my heart, I'm not sure I had gotten past those feelings.
"I couldn't let you go down that path.
"But I need to finish this... "
As you know, Adrian packed up and left without a word before the year was out. I managed somehow to get through all my exams. I returned home lost and confused.
Danni was an amazing friend. He listened. He screamed at me. He cried with me. He helped me go back to living day to day. He showed me my feelings weren't wrong. The one thing he never could do is break through the final wall. He couldn't get me to fall in love again.
On the other hand, I became driven. I buried myself in school. Serious students don't have time for love affairs. I graduated near the top of my class. I returned home and threw myself into work. I built a reputation and better than doubled my father's business.
Socially, I cultivated friendships both personally and professionally. I was a good friend. I rarely dated. Occasionally, Danni would surprise me with a set up or someone would ask me out. However, if they started to get too close, I flipped them into a friend. Scott is a perfect example.
I couldn't let anyone inside that inner wall. I was caring and giving. I offered the best advice to anyone who asked. In short, I was everyone's best friend. But, they were all kept at arm's length; until you...
Here was the most amazing person I'd ever met. You and I became friends, best friends, for three years. I watched you grow into an incredible man. You let me love you without trying to break the wall around my heart. You didn't recognize my true feelings. But without knowing it you kept chipping away at my resolve.
You and Jared ended; then you broke up with whatever rebound guy you had and needed to talk. I couldn't do it. I needed time to build back some of the wall to recover from letting my guard down a little bit.
When you finally kissed me... twelve years of closing myself off, of keeping people at a distance, of keeping my heart safe... were over. I could never explain the incredible emotions I felt when you kissed me. You told me, at the time, your heart exploded with joy. Mine did too. You made me whole again. You helped me get almost completely over Adrian.
Almost ... Keith caused a relapse of sorts. I was an ass. Fortunately, you wouldn't let me wallow in it. You called me on my idiocy. I knew there was still some hurt, but I thought I could manage it. I should have talked to you but I didn't.
Now, all that's left is to tell you about last night. This part is the easiest.
Remember when we went to see your therapist together after Derrick was killed? You went on and on about how you could use my love to help you pull yourself out of a panic attack. I'm not sure I completely understood what you meant until now. Last night, I used your love to help me bury the past.
It was a wonderful day. We were enjoying your father's success together. Then there he was; Adrian.
I seethed with anger at the first site of him. You clutched at my hand and that anger increased tenfold. He casually asked me for a drink, I knew it was my chance.
We left the gallery and walked towards the hotel down the street. He kept babbling on about how good it was to see me and how great it would be to re-connect. I honestly think he expected me to follow him up to his room and fall into bed with him. He walked towards the elevators.
I simply said, "No, I believe you offered me a drink."
He smiled the very same smile from photography class. It was unsettling, but I wasn't the nineteen year old he swept off his feet. I lead him to the bar. We ordered drinks and sat at a back booth.
He started to tell me about all his adventures. The amazing places he'd been, the famous men he'd bedded, and the incredible experiences of his life. I was beginning to get angrier the more he went on. He painted an astonishing picture, but it was starting to push me over the edge. Not once did he acknowledge our past, and then he suggested we move our discussion upstairs to his room.
I laughed. I completely burst out manically laughing. He looked at me like I was insane, actually the entire bar did.
I gestured to the bartender for another round. I took a long drink and then I unloaded on him.
"Adrian, how dare you? Are you so self-centered and clueless you think I'm going to fall back in bed with you? Do you have any idea the bullshit you put me through? The pain you caused me over and over again.
"We started out so unbelievable. I wasn't playing hard to get. I just didn't want to start anything I knew would be intense. But you chased me, was that part of the game for you? Anyway, it was unbelievable. I fell head over heels. I thought you loved me. I was such a fool, but that first semester was unreal. Or maybe not... were you sleeping around on me before New York City? It doesn't matter, actually.
"I thought we were amazing. You swept me off my feet and made me think you loved me. And then New York City, I thought our time there was incredible. I loved every minute. I went home to get ready for a new semester, and then I came back to school and found you fucking around. I was devastated, crushed; you shook me to the core. Somehow you convinced me to forgive you. I should have run the other way. Why didn't you just cut me loose? Why fucking toy with me for months?
"I lost my confidence, and my entire sense of self. As the semester went on, I became more and more miserable and depressed. My heart broke... I did everything you wanted and still it wasn't enough.
"And then you fucking vanished... no call, no note, nothing. I had no idea where you were or even if you were still alive. I was destroyed. My heart in pieces, I tried to figure out how to go on."
Adrian stood up. He looked uncomfortable and maybe a little pissed.
"I'm not done yet. Sit down and shut up. You aren't going to take this moment away from me. I've waited too long."
He sighed, but sat back down.
"I hated you, but I hated myself even more. I closed myself off. I walled up my heart; no one was ever going to hurt me like that again.
"You sent that pathetic note to me while I was in law school. The only thing it accomplished was to drive me harder, to bury my heart behind a thicker wall. I went years keeping the world at arm's length.
"And then I met Tony. You have no idea what an incredible man he is... I almost screwed it up by keeping my heart safe. But he broke through all my walls and changed my life with one kiss. One magic moment...
"I almost fucked it up. Your memory almost... But he called me on my stupidity... He loved me enough to work through my momentary idiocy... "
He shook his head and started to get up. I put my hand on his arm and told him to please sit back down again.
"You need to hear about Tony... I'm almost done."
And then I told him about you. Wonderful, loving, amazing you... He surprised me by still listening to everything I had to say. A couple of times, I thought I saw him look wistfully into the distance but perhaps not. I told him our story, about the three years we spent as friends, the kiss that changed everything, and the last eight months of indescribable joy.
When I was done, the anger was gone. The thought of our life together helped me finally get past the hurt.
"I did love you. I'm sorry for the pain I caused, but I did warn you."
"I know you did, Adrian. If I'm honest with myself, it was my choice to close off my heart. You were easy to blame, but it really was all me. But now I need to get back to my one true love. I hope you are happy and you have continued success."
"Thank you. You are an amazing man Marcus Lucas Taylor. I hope he appreciates what he has, I wish I had... "
"He does Adrian, he really does. I'm so very lucky."
At that point he smiled and offered to have you join us in his room; I laughed at him and told him he was never going to change, and it was never going to happen. We stood up and he hugged me.
I turned and walked away. When I glanced back, Adrian was making time with the cute bartender.
"Anthony Michael Wallace, I love you with all my heart. Please don't ever doubt it. Thank you for being the very best part of my life and helping to make all my dreams come true."
Tears were flowing down my cheeks. I kissed Marcus and clutched at him.
"I'm sorry I..."
He pulled me in for another kiss.
"No, I'm the one who's sorry. I didn't mean to cause you stress, or doubt. But enough about the past, I just want to concentrate on our amazing future."
"I love you, Marcus."
"I love you, too, Babe. Let's get some sleep."
Authors Note: This chapter was initially written almost two weeks ago, but David, my amazing editor, called me out on a section. Because he hasn't done that in over thirty chapters, I sat up and took notice. Well four re-writes later and here you have it. Thanks for still following along with this story it means so very much to me. If you can please donate to Nifty to keep these stories available. Any questions or comments please write me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to my husband Ray, my mentor Fitz, but especially to David. This chapter would be much poorer without his imput.