Castle Roland

Forever 1 - Beginnings

by Jack Schaeffer


Chapter 13

Published: 26 Feb 15

FOREVER 1 - Beginnings
By Jack Schaeffer
Copyright © 2014 - 2015. All rights reserved.

_"A beginning is a very delicate time."_
from Dune (1984) by Frank Herbert, David Lynch

After the guys left, Sam and I changed clothes in the bathroom facilities there at Waimanalo Beach Park. It was kind of awkward, because instead of changing in the open area where we had more room, Sam went into one of the stalls to swap out his clothes. So I followed his lead, but a public toilet stall is a cramped place for changing. And you have the added danger of dropping something into the open toilet. Not good. Thankfully the bathroom was reasonably clean.

To make things even more challenging, I had more damned sand in my ass. I did the best I could to get it out with my hand and then put on my cargo shorts, clean t-shirt, and top siders. I had forgotten underwear, so I was going commando. That could be risky with Sam around. He got my motor going way too easily. And those shorts showed everything. Sam came out of his stall dressed similarly. He finished his look with a huge smile, aimed squarely in my direction. I'm sure I was smiling back, because I liked what I was looking at.

"You ready to go, Jack?" he asked. I nodded to him, even though I had no idea what he had in mind. I was along for whatever ride he wanted to go on, just thrilled he wanted me to be with him. I'm so easy, at least where he's concerned.

"What are we doing tonight, Sam?" I asked, as we walked towards his truck carrying all our beach paraphernalia.

"Well, we could have gone with the guys, Jack, but I really just wanted to hang with you tonight. Is that okay?" He asked it with such an innocent, wishful expression, like me saying yes would be a Christmas present or something.

"Sure, Sam. Sounds great to me. What'd ya have in mind?" He started grinning like the happy camper he was now.

"Well I don't know about you, but I'm hungry. Let's find something to eat."

"Works for me, Sam. But only if you let me buy tonight. It's my turn." He started to instinctively protest, but then he stopped without me saying anything. He looked at me in that focused way of his, and nodded once. Decision made I guess. So we set off back in the direction of Kailua. I told Sam he should pick the place since all I knew was California Pizza Kitchen, and I was pizza-ed out.

Sam knew a shortcut through town which dumped us right across from Kailua Beach. He pulled into a parking lot next to Buzz's Original Steak House. It looked busy, but we weren't in a hurry. Inside, we were told it would be about a 20 minute wait for a table. No biggie. We spent the time laughing and remembering the fun we had had at the beach with the guys.

"Thanks for bringing me with you today, Sam. I really did have a great time. Your friends are very nice."

"They liked you, Jack. Just like I said they would. I don't know what you said to Tommy, but he's like your biggest fan all of a sudden. Said you were a great guy and he had a lot of respect for you." Sam's blue eyes were dancing with pride as he beamed at me.

I instantly swelled with pride. That Tommy would say such a thing about me, and especially to Sam, was mind-blowing. If I hadn't already committed to being his ally where Sam was concerned, I sure would be now. Before I could say anything, the hostess came to seat us.

Our waiter, Jennifer, was a very pleasant lady of about 40, full of smiles and happy to be serving us. Made me feel like a favorite aunt was taking care of us. After telling us the specials, she was off to get our drinks.

Sam was looking at the menu with a distressed look. "Damn, Jack. I didn't know this place was so expensive. I'm sorry, man. Do you want to go somewhere else? We could find a sandwich shop or something."

"Sam, I think I can handle this one meal. I've reserved a few shekels for a special occasion on my vacation. It'll be fine. Get whatever you want. I mean it, don't worry about the cost. Please."

"Yeah, but this is not really a special occasion, Jack."

"Any time I get to spend with you is special to me." I blushed as I said it, aware of how red my neck had to be. But I meant it. I was feeling overwhelmed by how deeply I was getting attached to him. This was a first for me. I wasn't just flirting with the guy. This was real. I was falling for him.

Sam was looking at me with an intense stare again. His sapphire blue eyes were penetrating, searching for an answer of some kind, I think. I tried to look away, but realized I didn't want to. I relaxed and looked back into his eyes, letting him in in a way I didn't understand. A few seconds later, he nodded once to himself, and a huge smile broke out on his face, which he tried to hide from me by looking back down at his menu. He must have liked something he saw in me.

The moment was broken by Jennifer's return with my iced tea and Sam's water with lemons and limes. Sam ordered a New York strip steak with baked potato and I ordered the smaller cut Prime Rib with no potatoes. We both helped ourselves to the extensive salad bar and returned to our table.

"Jack, can I talk to you about some things?" Sam suddenly asked.

Ever curious, I replied, "Of course. Talk."

He sat up a little straighter in his seat, wiped his mouth with his napkin, and settled himself into a determined position. "Okay, here goes," he started.

"When I met you the other day, I thought I was just there to clean a pool, same as I do every day. I usually don't even see people at the houses we service, or if I do, it's mostly older folks who smile and keep their distance. No problem. But were there, and you were hurting and...and I don't know, I suddenly...cared about you. I wanted to make the pain in your head stop. I started running off at the mouth and telling you what to do and making a mess of it." He looked down, like he was embarrassed and needed to apologize for something. I thought about interrupting him and telling him he did nothing wrong - far from it - but something inside me said let him talk. So I did.

"The thing is, Jack. I couldn't stop thinking about you after that day. And it sort of freaked me out. Ever since Jeremy left me, I have been kind of dead inside. And I was okay with it. I mean, I was in no condition to be in a relationship with anyone. To be honest, I had no desire whatsoever, even for sex. Not for the longest time. I came out here to Hawaii to escape the pain and my fear of a future without Jeremy. I guess somewhere along the way I got over him. At least I think I have. I don't hurt inside when I think of his name anymore. I even understand why he did it - sort of." He stopped to catch his breath and eat a few bites of his salad.

I took a chance and asked him, "Sam, would it help if you told me a little more about him? You don't have to - I won't pry. We never have to talk about it ever if you don't want to. I'll understand." He looked at me with tears welling up in his eyes.

"Jack, I haven't talked about it much to anyone, except Tommy. And my sister a little bit." He paused, trying to make his decision to continue or not. He looked at me, and I tried to stay as relaxed and open as I could. I so wanted to help him, but I had no idea how. He nodded once, again to himself, and took a deep breath, then blew it out.

"Alright, Jack. Here's the story..."

Sam arrived at UCLA from Connecticut, where he grew up, a freshman with no friends on campus. His new roommate, Michael, was a basketball player, and a player with the ladies, too. He made no secret of it, and tried to entice Sam to join him on his sexcapades. After a few awkward conversations, Sam finally told Michael he was gay. Michael backed away from him, physically and socially, eventually telling another guy on their dorm floor. Scottie was a redneck hick from the backwoods of Georgia and full of himself. He and Michael started taunting Sam at dinner one night in front of a bunch of the other guys in the dorm cafeteria. Tommy Barlow, who turned out to be Scottie's unfortunate roommate, finally stood up and told both of them to knock it off. Michael and Scottie stood up and challenged Tommy with the usual "who's gonna make me" crap, and surprise, surprise, half the table stood up and said, "we are." The taunting ended.

It also resulted in a quick conversation with the resident director. Tommy and Sam, who had just met one another, told the RD about their rooming situation, and wanting to avoid any dangerous situations, the RD made an executive decision on the spot. The next day, Michael moved in with Scottie, and Tommy moved in with Sam. Thankfully there was no more trouble between any of them. Michael and Scottie very shortly afterwards pledged a fraternity and moved out of the dorms at the end of the first semester.

Sam was now out, at least to a lot of the guys in his dorm. But he wasn't looking for any hookups or a relationship. He didn't believe in random sex with strangers. A couple of times he started what he thought was a friendship, but the guy would eventually reveal all he really wanted was sex with him.

Jeremy was different. They met halfway through their sophomore year in a required history class for pre-law majors. Jeremy was kind, sweet, and seemed genuine enough. It was nearly two months of almost daily get togethers before they shared their first kiss. It was Sam's first time with a guy. His only other sexual encounter had been jerking off with a straight buddy from high school on an overnight camping trip. It never happened again, and they never talked about it.

Sam was overjoyed to be with Jeremy. Things progressed slowly, eventually leading to a more sexual relationship. By the end of the school year, they decided to get an apartment together off campus for their junior year. They coordinated their schedules so they had most of their classes together. They also started thinking about which law schools to apply to the next year.

At some point, Sam and Tommy had a serious conversation about this relationship. There was something about Jeremy which concerned Tommy, but he couldn't put his finger on it. All he could say to Sam was to be careful - he didn't fully trust Jeremy, but he didn't know why. But Sam was his friend, so in the end, he helped Sam move in with Jeremy the next semester, and he was a frequent guest in their apartment. If Sam wasn't with Jeremy - which wasn't often - he could usually be found hanging out with Tommy.

Sam eventually told his family, who already knew he was gay, that he had met someone, and it was becoming serious. His parents wanted to meet Jeremy, as did his sister and brother-in-law. He tried to set up several visits with Jeremy over the summer between junior and senior year, but Jeremy kept changing the plans, citing work issues. Both he and Sam were interning at different law firms in different states, Sam in Connecticut, and Jeremy in Arizona. Being away from Jeremy for ten long weeks didn't help, either. Sam was getting very frustrated sexually; he assumed Jeremy was in a similar state, though they never talked about it directly.

Senior year started pretty much like they had not been apart at all. The sex was better than ever, and the highlight of the first semester was getting the results of their LSAT exams and ultimately being accepted to Washington University Law School. Jeremy had also been accepted to Arizona State University's law school, but decided to join Sam in St. Louis. Sam was awarded a full ride scholarship as an early Christmas present. His father was over the moon.

Sam tried again to have Jeremy join him and his family over the Christmas break, but Jeremy discovered his mother had been diagnosed with skin cancer and he decided he needed to be home with her for the holidays. Sam, being Sam, understood and did his best to explain the situation of the missing Jeremy to his parents.

Then in early March, everything fell apart. It was a Friday evening, and Sam and Jeremy had enjoyed a nice meal at their favorite restaurant. Being college students on a fixed budget, eating out was a real luxury. But they both felt like splurging a little, and they eventually found themselves in a secluded spot where they could hold hands and talk without fear of attack. Sam took the opportunity to tell Jeremy he had fallen in love with him, and hoped they would spend the rest of their lives together.

At first, Jeremy said nothing. Then he made some half-hearted comments about mutual feelings without really saying he loved Sam back. They called it a night and walked back to the apartment, Sam feeling unsure in their relationship for the first time.

The next morning, things seemed more normal, and they spent a great day together, bumming around and taking care of the apartment. They did some studying in the afternoon and then Jeremy said he needed to go out for a few minutes. He would be back soon. Sam paid no attention. Jeremy was occasionally going off by himself - said he needed space sometimes - and Sam of course gave it to him, no questions asked.

After four hours had passed with no Jeremy, Sam started to get worried. He called Tommy to see if he had seen him or had any idea where he might be. Tommy tried to reassure Sam, but there was something in Sam's voice that concerned Tommy. Before he could ask Sam what was really going on, Jeremy suddenly arrived back at the apartment. Sam and Tommy hung up, and Jeremy started pacing the living room floor, clearly agitated.

After several urgent promptings from Sam, who was now very worried, Jeremy started talking.

When he first met Sam, Jeremy had just discovered he was starting to be attracted to guys. Previously he had had sex with two different girls, though he had never told Sam about this. Each time the sex had dwindled and Jeremy had lost interest. He assumed maybe he wasn't as straight as he thought, especially when he met Sam and he got excited being around him. So he entered into the friendship with Sam, and then the deeper sexual relationship which followed. But the idea of being gay was not something Jeremy was happy about. In the end, he just didn't want to be gay, despite his friendship with Sam.

Over the previous summer, Jeremy had had an affair with a young female secretary in the office where he interned. It was just sex, but it was exactly what he wanted, no strings attached. He was still attracted to men - and Sam especially - but he was becoming more and more disillusioned with being in a gay relationship. It didn't help Sam was constantly putting pressure on Jeremy to visit his family. For Jeremy, that was the sign the relationship was becoming permanent, and he just didn't want it.

He had lied about his mother having cancer - she was fine. It was just the excuse he gave Sam to avoid having to go to Connecticut for Christmas holidays to meet Sam's family. He knew Sam would give in under the circumstances.

The final straw was Sam telling Jeremy he loved him. Jeremy knew he would never be able to love Sam the same way. The fact was, he didn't want to. He liked the little slice of life they had carved out together. It was fun and it worked, but there was no way he was going to go any further with a guy.

And then Jeremy revealed his final secret. He had been in a hidden relationship with Virginia Martinez, another pre-law student in their class, for most of the year. They met in a study group and just clicked. He was thinking he may be falling in love with her, he wasn't sure. That's where he had been disappearing to when he said he needed space. Jeremy had just spent the evening with her, and decided it was time to end his relationship with Sam.

For his part, Sam was silent as Jeremy confessed all his deceptions. At one point he sat down in a chair far away from where Jeremy was standing for fear he was going to faint. He put his head down between his legs as Jeremy prattled on about his concerns and his needs and his lies.

When he finally got around to telling Sam it was over, Sam knew there was nothing left to fight for. So much of what he thought he had with Jeremy had been built upon lies. He felt broken and destroyed, by the only man he had ever allowed himself to love. To love and not be loved in return was the cruelest joke of all.

Jeremy went silent, and Sam stood up and stared at him, not knowing what to say, and desperately not wanting to fall apart in front of him. So he politely said he needed Jeremy to leave and not be there that night. Jeremy said okay and turned and walked out. No fight, no screaming, no threats. Just...over.

Sam called Tommy and before he could get a word out, he broke down and sobbed. He dropped the phone and Tommy heard him wailing in pain. Within minutes, Tommy was pounding on the door and a broken Sam let him in and collapsed into his arms. It took Tommy several hours to piece him back together again and figure out what had happened. Tommy pledged to have Jeremy physically destroyed for what he had done, but Sam made him promise to do nothing. It wouldn't be right. Tommy just shook his head and seethed.

Over the next few days, Jeremy moved his stuff out of the apartment under the watchful eye of Tommy and another guy Tommy brought along for muscle, in case things got out of hand. There was no mistaking Tommy's hostility, and Jeremy wisely avoided any provocation. Sam stayed away, not wanting to see Jeremy.

The worst part was they had so many classes together. It required them to see each other every day. Classmates who had seen them as a couple for years, now cringed when they arrived, knowing something very bad had transpired between them. It eventually got to be too painful for Sam, and at Tommy's urging, he sought help from the Dean of Students. They worked out a plan where Sam could complete his course work and protect his GPA and not have to attend classes more than once per week. Jeremy got the hint and started missing those classes which Sam attended.

The idea of having to see Jeremy at Washington University in the Fall was too much for Sam. That's when Tommy suggested he wait a year. Jeremy would get a year ahead, and they shouldn't have classes together then. Sam needed the scholarship money to get his degree, so another college was out of the question. It seemed like the best option. Tommy filled in the gap year by setting him up in Hawaii, working for his dad.

It had taken the better part of an hour for Sam to tell me what had happened. Our steaks were devoured along with everything else on our plates, and as a result, neither one of us was looking for dessert, despite Jennifer's pleasant urging. Thankfully she had left us alone while Sam was talking.

Sam ordered coffee, and I stuck with my iced tea. I had not said a word through dinner - I didn't want to interrupt his flow. It was a tough story to hear. I'm sure it was hard to tell, and even harder to live through. My heart ached for Sam. I understood now what Tommy meant when he said he couldn't see Sam go through that again.

"So, Jack. That's the sad saga of Jeremy Reynolds and me." He sat back and looked at me intensely, like always, waiting for a response. I was seeing a fragility in him not normally visible. I needed to be very careful in how I handled this part of him.

"Sam...first of all, I wish with all my heart you didn't have to go through any of that. What he did was awful and there is no excusing his actions. I can't imagine the pain you felt, but I'm glad you said you aren't hurting anymore over him. I'm sure it's been a long, slow road to recovery." He nodded his head.

"Second, and I said this to Tommy this afternoon, as long as we are friends, which I hope is a long, long time, I will never be dishonest with you. You will always know where you stand with me. And with Tommy, as I'm sure you already know. He's definitely got your back. Me too, Sam. You can count on us. I promise."

A single tear fell out of his left eye while he gazed into mine. He did nothing to stop it or acknowledge it. He just looked into my soul with those deep blue eyes of his, and I let him in, the first person ever I had invited to do so. I was hoping he could see and decide for himself I was someone he could trust. It was a big step for him, as well as for me. After a minute or so, he did what I'd seen him do several times now: he nodded once to himself - the decision was made - and then his face slowly morphed into a smile. I could have cried right then, myself. He had decided he could trust me and I could not believe how it made my heart sing.

There was a crowd waiting to be seated, and as we had had our table for a long time, I flagged Jennifer and handed her my Visa card. I didn't want Sam seeing the black Amex card, in case it raised suspicions about money. Sam excused himself to go the restroom while I waited for the check to sign. I was just putting my card back into my wallet when Sam returned to the table.

"All set?" he asked.

"Yep, let's go." We headed out the door, past the people waiting their turn for a table. The sun had pretty much set, so it was getting darker now. Sam surprised me by stepping off the curb and heading across the street towards the beach, instead of his truck. I followed. He apparently had more plans.

I caught up to him in two steps, and he started with his hand hovering near the small of my back. Oh how I loved it when he did that. It made me feel so safe and covered. I figured it was just second nature to him - he wasn't even aware he was doing it. It made it all the sweeter to me.

Just across the street there was a parking area at the beach with a couple of small building structures nearby. We walked past those and then followed a sidewalk which framed one side of the flat, grassy area fronting the beach. At this hour there were not a lot of people around. Sam led us to a bench and motioned for me to sit down next to him.

"Thank you for dinner, Jack. I enjoyed my steak very much. That's two steaks I've had in one week with you. Woo hoo!" We chuckled together. Then his face got serious again.

"Jack...I'm not sure how to say what I want to say to you." He stopped, trying to collect his thoughts. I kept my mouth shut and let him.

"Okay, here's the thing. Like I said before, since I met you I've been thinking a lot about you. Actually, I never stop thinking about you." He was facing the water as we talked, but I saw him blush. My big guy blushed! I smiled and waited for him to continue.

"I like you, Jack. A lot. As a friend, you have been amazing this week. I feel like I've known you my whole life. It's like there's this connection between us and I can't figure out where it comes from. But I like it. And I trust you. That's what is the most surprising thing of all to me. I never thought I'd trust anyone but Tommy ever again." He turned to look at me, again with a seriously intense look on his face. "You're amazing, Jack Schaeffer." It was my turn to blush. I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing.

Sam was still trying to communicate something to me, and he was getting frustrated with it. He was mentally thrashing around for the right words.

"Sam," I said, gently. "Just tell me..."

He turned to look at me, sighed, then grinned. "Jack...I can't stop thinking about you. You're a great friend, and I don't want that to ever change. But...I am also very attracted to you, more and more everyday, in every way a man can be. And...I want to know if you feel the same about me?"

I'm sure my mouth dropped open as I looked over at him. His declaration left me speechless. He had just said the words I had wanted to hear from him so badly - since I first laid eyes on him, really. Now I had a flood of emotions and hormones and adrenaline and who knows what all else racing through me. I needed to say something, but my mind was a jumbled mess. I was scrambling for a coherent thought when Sam parroted my previous words."Jack...just tell me." He was grinning. I think he could already tell how I felt.

A new wave of emotion rose up, and with them came the tears. Tears of joy, of happiness, of dreams come true. I let them fall slowly as I tried to speak through the glorious lump in my throat.

"Sam...ever since last Monday, I have thought about nothing but you, either. I felt the connection to you, also. It was just there, as if it had always been there. But not knowing if you were gay or not, all I could let myself hope for was you would be my friend. I need you to be my friend, Sam, more than anything. I can't imagine not having you in my life, no matter what happens from here on out. answer your question...yes, I absolutely feel the same way about you." I wiped my eyes with my hands and shook them. I was grinning so hard my face hurt.

He just looked at me, his eyes beaming. He was so beautiful. I saw a peace descend over him, like someone changed his whole point of view on life and he was instantly reset, good as new. It was a marvelous sight to see. I wanted to reach out and touch him, but I was too scared. It was enough we had acknowledged our mutual attraction.

"Jack...what an amazing, unexpected surprise you are. I can't believe this is happening. I just never expected to feel this alive again. And it's all because of you."

"But Sam, I didn't do anything. You're the one who's been helping me."

"Yes you did, Jack. Somehow getting to know you has fixed a bunch of broken stuff inside of me. I have hope again, Jack. I thought I had lost that forever."

Hope. Such a powerful thing. I knew what he was talking about. I had lost all my hope, too. But Amanda Franklin gave it back to me, in the form of an idea of the kind of man I could become. Sharon and Billy had added to my new vision, and now I was trying to be that man. Maybe I had inadvertently done the same for Sam. I helped him remember the man he had been before Jeremy - and the man he could be again. And in the process, maybe, just maybe, he would become my man.

As happy as I was at this blessed turn of events, I still had a very big problem. I had no idea what to do with him. None. And I was terrified of screwing things up. I was going to have to rely on Sam to be the gentleman and guide me through this.

"Sam, I need to ask you some questions."

"Fire away, Jack." He smiled gently at me, and I tried to relax.

"Okay. I don't know how to say mean I am definitely attracted to you - most definitely." His smile grew larger, and I blushed. "But...Sam...I have no experience with any of this. I...I have never done anything with anyone, Sam, ever. I mean I know nothing. And...well, I...I'm scared of doing something wrong. I don't want to disappoint you." I buried my face in my hands, hoping he couldn't see the shame I felt for being ignorant about sex and relationships.

Sam put his hand on my back and gently rubbed it. "Jack, look at me for a minute." I dropped my hands from my face and sat up, turning to face him. I could do this. I might be afraid, but I could do this.

"First of all, Jack. We won't do anything the other guy doesn't want to do. Ever. No matter how long we are together. Agreed?" I nodded my head vigorously.

"Next, we go at a mutually comfortable pace. I'll be honest with you, Jack. I'm not exactly ready to have a heavy sexual relationship. I'd be content to just hang out with you more, show you the islands, spend more time with you. Don't get me wrong, I think you're a hot guy, and I definitely respond to you, if you know what I mean. It's just, I'm not the kind of guy who jumps into bed right away, no matter how strong the attraction. Does that make any sense?"

I breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Yeah, Sam. I get it. And it sounds good to me, too. And I do know what you mean - my body responds mighty strongly to you, too. I've had to be creative trying to hide it from you and the world."

"So, think I'm hot, do you?" He was grinning like a smart ass again.

"Not even a little bit, you jerk," I replied, laughing and shoving him lightly on his shoulder. He pretended to fall off the bench and we both broke into hysterical laughter. It wasn't even that funny, but it felt good to laugh, releasing the recent tension.

When we calmed down a few seconds later, it was time to go. My watch said it was 8:30 and Sam still had to drive home. Unlike me, he had to work tomorrow.

"Sam, thanks for another greatest-day-of-my-life. They are piling up when I'm with you. But I think you should take me home. You have work tomorrow and I need to...well, I don't know what I need to do. But I'll think of something. You are coming out to do the pool at the house tomorrow, right?"

"Yep. Should be there around 3."

"Will you stay for dinner?" I asked, hoping for a yes.

"That depends. Will you make me dinner and then sit across from me in the candlelight and look as beautiful as you do right now?" I felt the heat all the way to my toes. Geez, this guy is gorgeous and romantic. I'm toast.

"It would be my pleasure, Sam. Most definitely my pleasure." I grinned at him and he grabbed me around my shoulders and side-hugged me. There is nothing better in the world than having his arms around me. I was hoping for a lot more hugs in the future. Baby steps, Jack. Baby steps.

We climbed back in the truck and he drove me home. We sat in the driveway, neither one of us really wanting the night to end, but knowing it had to. Otherwise he was going to be spending the night and neither one of us was ready for that. At least I didn't think I was.

"Sleep tight, Jack. I'll see you tomorrow afternoon."

"Anything in particular you'd like for dinner?" I asked.

"Surprise me. Just no sushi. Can't do sushi." Ewww. I made a face to match his. No worries.

I looked at him and he returned my gaze across the truck cab. I grabbed his one hand briefly and then let go. "Thank you for today, Sam. And please call me when you get home. And don't say it, you!" I was wagging my finger at him. He had his smart ass grin going.

"Thank you, Jack, for everything. I'm so glad I found you." He suddenly looked like he was going to cry. I needed to let him get out of here with some dignity.

"Be safe, Sam. See you tomorrow." I got out, shut the door, and pushed away from the truck. He nodded and pulled away. I'm pretty sure he was sobbing before he disappeared down the driveway.

He wasn't the only one. I barely made it through the humongous front door before the waterworks started. I wasn't even sure why. Maybe just the pent up feelings left over from today's emotional rollercoaster ride. But I didn't care. This time I was happy to go on the ride, because Sam was on it with me.

Then it changed. Without warning, it felt like more than a decade of pent up frustration and longing to be the real me was flooding out through my sobs. I was stunned at the intensity and depth of the feelings - it was almost like I was experiencing every fear, self-doubt, and self-judgment all over again, all at once. And then just as suddenly as it had started, it was over. As if I had stepped through a doorway out of the room where all that junk was keeping me trapped. I was free and it felt wonderful.

I went to my bathroom and blew my nose and dried my eyes. I felt twenty pounds lighter on the inside. And I couldn't stop smiling. I remembered my near hysteria at Clyde's office when I had first told Sharon I was gay. It felt so liberating to be free of all the mess I had carried around all my life.

I was worn out, emotionally and physically. I needed sleep. I used the toilet, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and put all my dirty clothes from the day where they belonged. I made sure the house was locked up, grabbed a water bottle, and slid under the covers. My cell phone was on the nightstand next to me, waiting for Sam's call.

As I lay there in the dark, my mind kept wandering to images of Sam at the beach. His hands rubbing lotion through his chest hair. His phenomenally sculpted ass, outlined in detail in his wet swimsuit. The sun reflecting in those incredible blue eyes of his that owned my soul. No surprise my dick was rock hard and my hand was on it like white on rice. I was panting, dreaming of being held tightly in his arms, feeling his naked flesh against mine. I was moving my hand all over my own chest, tweaking my nipples, imagining it was Sam's hands all over me. I did not last long. Just as I started to erupt all over my chest, my phone rang.

I rode the orgasm to its all too quick end, then grabbed the phone with my clean hand before I missed the call.

"Hey, Sam," I said, still slightly panting for breath.

"Hey, Jack. You okay? You sound out of breath."

"Yeah, I'm good. I was just thinking about you."

"Good thoughts, I hope."

"Very good thoughts, Sam." I giggled. I couldn't help it.

"Jack, are you being naughty?" He was giggling a little, too.

"Not anymore!" We both burst out laughing. It felt so right.

"Geez, Jack. Now you've got me going. Again! Do you have any idea how hard it was to see you parading around on the beach today in those board shorts of yours?"

"You wanna talk hard? I couldn't get up for nearly an hour after you put on the sunscreen. I nearly passed out. Tommy was laughing at me." Now Sam was laughing again.

"Well, I guess we both have the hots for each other, eh Jack?" I could almost see his smart ass grin, but I didn't care. I was too happy to mind.

"Sam, to tell you the truth, I've got it bad for you. I know we agreed to take it slow, and I really agree with that. I do. But I'm gonna need you to help me. This is all so new for me, and I don't really know what I'm doing. I just know I'm the luckiest guy in the whole world to have you as my friend, and I don't want to screw this up. Please, Sam, stop me if I start to go too far with things. I don't trust myself right now. I'm...a little worked up, if you know what I mean." I really did feel a little out of control.

"It's okay, Jack. I'll help you. We'll help each other. And we will see where things go. I still can't believe this is happening. Until I met you, Jack, I wasn't sure I would ever want another guy again. I was too...I don't know...scared, I guess. But with you, I feel great. Can't wait to see you tomorrow. Looking forward to our dinner." Oh man, I had forgotten I was cooking for him. Now I was gonna be spazzing about putting the perfect meal together. Well, that was tomorrow's problem.

"I can't wait to see you, too, Sam. Be careful tomorrow. I'll see you around 3, right?"

"Yep, I'll be there."

"Great. Good night, big guy."

"Night, little man." He hung up.

As I drifted off to sleep, I realized my heart was now full of hope.

Author's Note: If you are enjoying this story, please take a moment to comment in the Forum on CastleRoland – you can click the link labelled "Forum Discussion" just under the story synopsis at the top of this page. Or, if you prefer, send me an email to I would love to hear your thoughts about the story.

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