The Man from Swift Current
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 105: It’s a Matter of Priorities

Tyler stared into Joey’s eyes, as he ran his fingertips along his jawline to his chin.   Joey took Tyler’s hand in his, and brought it to his lips.   Joey said, “I love you so much, Tyler.”

Tyler smiled, and said, “I love you more than you know, Joey.   Do you remember our first date?”

“How could I ever forget?   You looked so cute that night at the club,” Joey responded, grinning at his fiancé.   “I had a hard time fending off the other guys.”

“You were doing a pretty good job of it, until we got on the dance floor,” Tyler said, running his hand over Joey’s chest.

“Then things got real steamy,” Joey laughed.   “I had never been to a gay dance club before, and I was really shocked when other guys started caressing my body, while we danced.”

“You were so turned on by it, you shot a load right there on the dance floor,” Tyler said.

Joey blushed and said, “I’ve never been as embarrassed as I was that night.   I couldn’t believe I let myself get so turned on, just dancing!”

Tyler smiled.  “Remember you shot another load, later the same night; only that time it was slow dancing with me.”

“That’s when I knew I needed you in my life,” Joey said.   “I figured if I was hot for you on the first date, it could only get better!”

“But you were so mad at me later that night, when I told you that you would have to wait to have sex with me,” Tyler said, putting his hand up to caress Joey’s face.

Joey looked away from his lover.   He felt terrible about getting so angry at Tyler.   He had gone home, and had decided that he wasn’t calling Tyler again.   He couldn’t believe Tyler wouldn’t have sex with him!   Tyler put his hand under Joey’s chin and turned his head, until he could look into his eyes.   Joey said, “I’m sorry for getting angry with you.   You were right to make me wait, until you knew we could have a permanent relationship.”

Tyler said, “We need to talk to your lawyers in the morning about the new arrangement for the children.”

Joey nodded his head in agreement.   “Your parents have been really wonderful to me.   I thought they would disapprove of me; knowing I’m in the middle of a divorce, and have two children.”

“I told you they would accept you, because I love you,” Tyler said.   “Dad was very surprised, when you asked his permission to marry me.”

Joey grinned and said, “I know.   I intentionally did that, because I knew it would win me points with him.”

Tyler laughed and kissed Joey.   “You did do that!   You noticed, he said he appreciated your willingness to ask him for my hand in marriage; even though he knew we were already engaged.   I think it was a positive thing for my Mom to see you respect them.”

“I don’t want to mess things up with my future in-laws!   I want them to learn to love me, as they do you,” Joey said, rubbing noses with his lover.

Tyler said, with a lecherous grin on his face, “However, NOT in the same way!”   Tyler began kissing Joey as he ran his hands over Joey’s wiry frame; stopping to outline each muscle with his fingertips.   Joey’s skin tingled everywhere Tyler’s hands touched him.   He had never felt as alive as he did in Tyler’ arms!

The next morning dawned bright and cold.   It had snowed during the night, leaving a bright white carpet, muting the sounds of the neighbors leaving for work.   Tyler awakened early and managed to slip out of bed without waking Joey.   He stood at his bedroom window, looking out over the snow-covered landscape.   He loved the snow!   It only snowed once, or twice a year here; and he remembered the great times he had had building snowmen, going sledding, and having snowball fights with the neighborhood kids.

He turned from the window, and leaned down to retrieve his underwear.   He slipped them on, before stepping out into the hallway.   He crossed the landing to the bathroom.   He quickly relieved himself, and returned to his bedroom.   He paused in front of the mirror hanging on the back of his bedroom door.   He looked at his reflected image in the dim glow of the approaching sunrise.   He had let his sandy blond hair grow out, and it formed a halo around his head.   He tried to smooth it down with his hand; but, it wouldn’t cooperate!   He snickered, as he realized he looked like he had stuck his finger into a light socket.  

His hair was very fine and very straight.   Tyler smiled at the memory of Joey’s fingers playing with his hair.   He felt a stirring in his loins, as he remembered their passionate lovemaking last night.  He was so lost in thought, he jumped when Joey came up behind him and slipped his arms around his waist.   “Good morning, lover.   I was missing my stud.”   Joey kissed the back of Tyler’s neck.

Tyler grinned and said, “I was thinking of you, too.”

“You did have a dreamy look on your face,” Joey said.   He released Tyler and said, “I’ll be right back.”

Before he reached the door, Tyler said, “You need to wear something, or you might embarrass yourself.”

Joey stopped and asked, “Don’t you have a bathrobe, or something I can use?”

Tyler opened his closet and pulled out his black terry cloth bathrobe, handing it to Joey.   “Thanks,” Joey said, slipping it on and opening the door.   He was back before Tyler had a chance to return to their bed.

Joey dropped the bathrobe and climbed in beside Tyler.   Joey said, “I want to fuck you, Tyler.   Then, I want you to fuck me.”

Tyler didn’t answer Joey directly; instead he pulled Joey closer to him and began kissing him passionately.

Later that morning, they drove to the law offices, to meet with Joey’s lawyer.   They entered the reception area.   The secretary immediately conducted them to the inner office.   The lawyer, Gurvais Aledo, stood up to greet them.   Gurvais was a diminutive man.   He was 165 cm (5’5”) with his shoes on, and had a very slight build.  He had a crooked smile, and a nose that looked like it had been broken a time, or two.   His eyes were jet black under delicate black eyebrows.   He kept his hair cut short, military style.   He smiled at his client and shook his hand.   “Mr. Malone.   What can I do for you today?”

Joey said, “I need to run a custody proposal by you.”   He turned to Tyler and took his hand.   “However, before we talk about that; I want you to meet my fiancé, Tyler Damasiewicz.”

Gurvais raised his eyebrows in surprise; but managed to smile and extend his hand.   “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Damasiewicz.   Gentlemen, please sit down.”   Joey and Tyler settled into the chairs in front of Gurvais’ desk, and he returned to his seat on the opposite side of his desk.  “So, Mr. Malone, what is your proposal?” he asked.

“Since Tyler and I are now engaged to be married, I will be moving to Spain to live with him,” Joey said.

Gurvais nodded his head in understanding.   “So, you want to change the custody arrangement for the girls.”

“Yes, that’s right.   We thought it would be easier for all of us, if the girls spend their summers with us; and remain with their mother during the school year,” Joey said.

“Have you decided to abandon your efforts to secure full custody of the girls?” Gurvais asked.

“I don’t think I would win that battle; especially now that I’m going to marry Tyler, as soon as the divorce is final,” Joey said.

Gurvais said, “Yes, you would be right in that assumption.   In fact, if your soon to be ex-wife were to find out; you might lose all of your parental rights.   The judges here are not very friendly toward gays.”

“That’s why I want to move to Spain.   We won’t be here; where nosey neighbors can call my wife to let her know I’m married to a guy,” Joey said.

“That is a very good move on your part; however, you may have problems with getting her to accept an agreement where her children are away from her for such a long period of time.   Do you have a plan with regards to child care?” he asked.

“Yes, we’ve given it a lot of thought.   Tyler has a house with a maid, a housekeeper, a gardener and butler.   I’m sure we can hire a nanny to watch the children, while I’m at work.   We are leaving for Spain next week,” Joey said.

“You should be prepared to show that you have those arrangements already made, when we appear in court.   I will write up the new custody arrangement, and will call you when it’s ready.   Then, I will contact her lawyer,” Gurvais said.

“Thank you,” Joey said.  

He stood up, as did Tyler and Gurvais.   They shook hands and Gurvais saw them out of his office.   He closed the door and shook his head.   He thought he had seen everything; but this was a new twist he hadn’t seen.   Most couples stayed close by, to maintain a close relationship with their children.   He couldn’t believe Joey was taking off for Spain, before the divorce was final.  He returned to his desk to make a few notes, before calling his secretary.

Joey and Tyler returned to Joey’s car.   Tyler said, “I don’t think your lawyer likes the fact you’re leaving the country.”

“It doesn’t matter what he thinks,” Joey said, heatedly.

Tyler said, “I agree with you about that.”   He put his hand on Joey’s arm, and said, “Do you know we could be married in Spain?”

Joey smiled and replied, “Yes, I did.   They also allow gays to adopt children; but we have to be legal residents of Spain.”

“We will be by the time your divorce is final,” Tyler said.

Joey started the car and drove to the Stetson’s.   He pulled into their driveway.   He turned off the engine and looked at Tyler.   “That is Kathy’s car.   I wonder why she’s here.”   He thought something must have happened for her to be here.   Joey’s lawyer had arranged for social workers to be present to monitor the condition of the children each time the children were handed off to the other parent; as a precaution against charges of child abuse, or neglect.

Tyler said, “I hope she isn’t arguing with her brother.”

A look of concern crossed his face.   “I hope she doesn’t cause a scene.”

They got out of the car and entered the house.   They walked past the kitchen to the family room where they found the Stetsons with Kathy and the girls.

Joey looked at Kathy, and asked, “Where’s Andrew?”

She answered, “He had to go to work today.   I thought I would drop the girls off here instead of at our agreed neutral location.   I hope that isn’t a problem?”

 Joey said, “It’s not a problem, as long as you contacted Mrs. Munson.”   He turned to Tyler and said, “Tyler, this is Kathy.”

Tyler acknowledged the introduction with a nod of his head.   “It’s nice to meet you.”

Kathy said, “Same here.”   She briefly met Tyler’s gaze.   His eyes bore into hers with an intensity that made her uncomfortable.   She lowered her eyes, before looking back at Joey.   “I had better be going.   I’ll meet you at the usual time and place to pick up the girls.”

“Did you call Mrs. Munson?” Joey asked.

Kathy shook her head.   “You can call her, since it’s your problem.”

She got up and brushed past the guys on her way out.   They heard the front door open and close, as she left the house.   Joey asked, “Where are Greg and Cory?”

Ray said, “Greg and Cory left before she got here.   At least she called before she dropped in with the girls.”

Joey sat down on the couch, and Rachel climbed up on his lap.   Sarah was cruising from one piece of furniture to another.   She had just learned how to walk, holding onto things; but, still didn’t have much stability when walking independently.   He pulled out his cell phone and punched in Mrs. Munson’s number.

She picked up the line, “Hello, Mr. Malone.”

“Hello, Mrs. Munson.   Kathy brought the children here, instead of our usual meeting place.   Would you mind meeting me here?”

“Not a problem,” Mrs. Munson said.   “I’ll be over in a few minutes.”

Joey ended the call; then called his lawyer.   When Mr. Aledo’s secretary answered, Joey said, “May I speak to Mr. Aledo?”

She said, “Please hold, Mr. Malone.”   She had seen Joey’s cell number flash up on her caller ID, and knew who was calling.   She put the call on hold and then rang Mr. Aledo.   “It’s Mr. Malone.”

Gurvais said, “I’ll take the call.”   He picked up the other phone line and said, “Hello, Mr. Malone.”

Joey said, “We have a problem.”   He explained what had happened.

Gurvais said, “Since this will be your last weekend with the children, until the court date, do you want me to stir things up with her lawyer?”

Joey thought about it a moment, then said, “No, I guess not.”

“Okay, I will call you tomorrow.   The paperwork is almost ready; but I will need to review it one more time, before I present it to you,” Gurvais said.

“Okay,” Joey said.   He ended the call.                                                                                    

Rachel looked up into her dad’s face.   She held up a sticky, red lollipop and said, in a wee voice, “Daddy, I’m all sticky.”

He smiled at Rachel.   “Let’s get you cleaned up.”   He stood up with her, and carried her into the bathroom.   He sat her down on the floor, and retrieved a wash cloth from the vanity drawer.   He turned on the water and let it warm up to the right temperature.   He doused it with water and wrung out the excess.  He knelt down, and took the lollipop from his daughter’s hand.   “Let’s throw that away.   Okay?”

Rachel nodded her head.   Her big, bright blue eyes looked up at Joey; full of trust, knowing her Dad would take care of her.   She relinquished the sticky treat to her Dad, who threw it away.  

“Daddy is going to wash your face and your hands,” Joey said.   He had taken a parenting class with Kathy, after Rachel was born.   He remembered he should always tell the child what he was going to do, before doing it.   He gently wiped the child’s face and hands, removing the sticky, sugary red mess from them.   When he was done, he said, “All done.”   He held her hands and said, “See, there’s no more sticky stuff.” 

He helped her to her feet.   As he, himself, stood, she lifted her arms and said, “Up, Daddy, up.”

He smiled at her, and said, “Okay, I’ll carry you.”   He bent down and picked her up.   Once in his arms, she put her arms around his neck and leaned her head on his chest.   It was moments like this that reminded him how precious his girls were to him.   As he walked back into the family room, he was having second thoughts about leaving his little darlings for such a long period of time.

His face must have reflected his conflicted state of mind; because Darla asked, “What’s wrong, Joey?   You look like the sky just fell.”

Joey sat down next to Tyler, who was holding Sarah on his lap.   Rachel released her hold on her Daddy’s neck and turned around and sat down on his lap.   Before Joey could answer her question, Darla said, “Hang on a moment, guys.   I want to get a picture of you two with the girls.”   She got up from her chair and grabbed her camera from the bookcase.   She turned it on, and waited for it to focus.   She said, “Okay, everyone, smile for me.”   They followed her direction.   She said, “We need to take one more, because Sarah wasn’t looking at the camera.   Sarah, honey, look this way.”

Tyler pointed at the camera, “Look over there, Sarah.”

She looked at the camera and Darla snapped another photograph.   “Good.”  She walked over to show the guys the picture she’d just taken.

Joey took the camera from her hands, and showed Tyler and Rachel.   Sarah reached for the camera, but Joey said, “Just look, Sarah.”   He pointed to the screen and put his finger on the image of Sarah.   “Look, Sarah, it’s a picture of you.”

She made some gurgling noises that sounded like, “Me, me.”   Joey understood what she meant, and said, “Yes, it’s you, Sarah.”   He handed the camera back to Darla, who returned to her chair, and sat down.

Darla said, “Joey, you didn’t answer my question.   What is bothering you?”

He put his arm around Tyler’s shoulders.   Tyler turned his head to look at Joey.   “What?”

Joey said, “I’m having second thoughts about not seeing the girls for such a long time.”

Tyler nodded his head.   “Dad told me you might not be ready to move to Spain, because of your girls.”

Darla looked from one to the other and asked, “What is this all about?”

Joey explained their plans to leave for Spain the following week.   He ended by apologizing to Tyler, “I’m sorry I’m such a mess, Tyler.”

Tyler said, “I understand.   However, you need to decide soon what course you plan to pursue.”

Joey nodded his head.   He understood what Tyler was saying, as well.   He knew Tyler would only wait so long, before he decided to move on with his life.   Tyler had told him he was more than willing to wait for him to figure things out; however, he had also warned Joey not to take too long in deciding where they stood as a couple.

He looked away from Tyler’s searching gaze.   Tyler reached over and took Joey’s hand in his.   He gave it a reassuring squeeze.   “I know I’m asking you to make a sacrifice for me.   I’ve also made it clear I’m more than willing to become a stepfather.   I love children, and I particularly love your children.   They are part of who you are, Joey.   You are a good father to them.”

Joey looked into Tyler’s eyes.   He saw Tyler’s love and compassion reflected there.   He knew beyond any shadow of a doubt this man loved him.   This knowledge made his heart feel like it was going to burst from his chest.

At that moment, they heard the front door open and they heard Greg and Cory come inside.   They walked into the family room, and Greg looked at Joey and said, “I just saw Kathy in the parking lot.   I thought you said she wouldn’t be stopping by here.”

“She wasn’t supposed to come here; but, she violated our agreement and dropped the girls off here,” Joey said.

Cory said, “It’s a good thing she didn’t see us.   We don’t need to hear her vile and evil thoughts about gays.”

“About us, in particular,” Greg added.

They walked over and sat down on the loveseat.   Greg draped his arm over Cory’s shoulder and said, “How are my nieces?”

“They are doing well,” Joey said.   He looked down at Rachel and said, “Why don’t you go see Uncle Greg and Uncle Cory?”

Rachel shook her head, “No, Daddy.”   She turned and grabbed his shirt with both of her hands.

Greg said, “Don’t force her to come to me, Joey.   She doesn’t know me very well.   Remember, she was pretty little the last time she saw me.   Give her some time to get used to me and Cory.”

Over the course of the next two days, Rachel and Sarah grew accustomed to their two uncles being around.   They also really liked Tyler.   The four men were often found in the family room, lying on the carpet with the girls climbing on top of them, or playing games with them.   Tyler had the best dramatic reading voice of the four; and was often handed books to read to the girls.  

Just after dinner of their second day with their Dad, Rachel approached Tyler and looked up at him.   She held a book in her arms, which she handed to him.   “Read, please.”

Tyler smiled and responded, “Yes, I’ll read to you.”

Rachel climbed up on his lap and Tyler began reading to her.   When he had finished, Rachel wiggled down off of his lap, and walked over to her Dad.   Joey was holding Sarah on his lap.   She had fallen asleep in his arms.   Rachel said, “Sarah is sleeping.”

“Yes, Sarah is sleeping.   Are you ready to go?” Joey asked.

Rachel nodded, “I want Mommy.”

“Okay, we need to get your coat and your bag,” Joey said.   He stood up and placed Sarah in her car seat.   He walked out into the hallway to retrieve Sarah’s coat.   He handed Rachel hers, and helped her put it on.   He went back into the family room, and put Sarah’s coat on her.   He buckled her into her car seat.   He looked over at Tyler and asked, “Do you want to go with me to drop of the girls?”

Tyler grinned and responded, “Of course.”

Darla said, “Good bye, Rachel.”  Rachel ran over and climbed up on Darla’s lap.   Darla gave the little girl a hug, and received a hug and a kiss in return.   “I’ll see you next week, Rachel.”

Rachel climbed down and ran after her father.   Joey and Tyler were waiting for her by the front door.   Joey asked, “Are we ready to go?”

Rachel looked up and said, “Ready.”

They walked out to Joey’s car.  Tyler helped buckle Rachel into her car seat, while Joey secured Sarah’s car seat.   They drove to the appointed meeting place, and arrived at the same time as Mrs. Munson.   Mrs. Munson got out of her car, and walked into the law office.   She turned to Joey and asked, “How were the children?”

“They were perfect little angels,” Joey said, smiling.

Mrs. Munson smiled.   “They are cute little things.”

Kathy and Andrew pulled up in Andrew’s car.   Kathy got out and walked into the office.   Rachel shouted, “Mommy!”

Kathy picked up her daughter and Mrs. Munson carried Sarah in her car seat.   Joey handed Kathy the girls diaper bag.   Kathy said, “I’ll see you next week.”  

Joey and Tyler followed the women out of the office; then climbed into Joey’s car.   Joey watched, as Mrs. Munson and Kathy loaded the girls into Andrew’s car.   When they were done, Mrs. Munson waved to Joey as she returned to her vehicle.  

Joey looked over at Tyler and said, “I’m going to miss my girls.”

Tyler said, “I’ll miss them, too.”   He thought for a moment, then said, “Joey, you don’t have to come with me to Spain, until you’re ready.   My classes begin again on January 8th; so I have to be back in Spain by then.”

Joey said, “Let’s go out for dessert.   I want to spend some time alone with you.”

He drove to Baskin-Robbins, and pulled into the parking lot.   Tyler laughed.   “I can’t believe you want ice cream in the middle of the winter.”

Joey grinned.   “I love ice cream.”

They got out of the car, and entered Baskin-Robbins.   Tyler said, “I want Rocky Road.”

Joey ordered a one scoop cone for Tyler, then said, “I want a two scoop cone with butter pecan.”

They sat down to eat their ice cream.   Tyler said, “I know you are struggling with the idea of leaving your girls.”

Joey nodded his head.   “You know me too well.”  He noted the emphasis Tyler put on the word ‘your’ girls, making it clear he didn’t consider himself part of Joey’s family.

“I think you need some time to figure out what you want, Joey.   At this point in time, I think you should stay here with your girls.   I do not want to be part of a situation, where I will be the bad guy for forcing you to choose between me and your girls.   It’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to you, or the girls.   As I have said before, I’m willing to play the role of a stepfather, and I’ve offered as much support as I can to you and your girls; however, if we’re to be married, you need to be where I am.   If that is more than you can handle right now, we should call off our wedding plans.   I’m beginning to think you need to find someone who wants to stay close to your children’s mother, so you can see them every week.”

Joey said, “But I want to be with you, Tyler.”  His expression showed the internal torment he was going through.

“Yes, you want to be with me only if I agree to stay in Virginia so you can be near your girls.   Let me be very clear, Joey.   I have no wish to see my husband’s ex-wife every week of our married lives.   Not only that; your girls are the light of your life, Joey.   It’s not me and never has been,” Tyler said.   “I’m just a good fuck to relieve your sexual frustrations.   I’m not into being some guy’s sex toy.”

“But it’s not that way,” Joey protested.

“Isn’t it?” Tyler asked, raising his eyebrows.

Joey looked into Tyler’s eyes; but looked away because he knew Tyler was right.   His girls were more important to him than Tyler.   He had made that very clear to Tyler over the last two days.   He didn’t blame Tyler for ending their relationship after the way Joey had treated him.

After the silence dragged on for several more minutes, Tyler said, “Please take me home, Joey.”   He stood up and they left the ice cream parlor.

They rode in silence to Tyler’s house.   Joey parked the car, then turned to Tyler.   “I’m sorry, Tyler.”

Tyler held up his hand, and said, “Don’t make it worse than it already is, Joey.   If you were really sorry for treating me so poorly the last two days, you would have changed your behavior toward me; but you didn’t.   My only regret is I gave you my virginity; when I had promised myself not to have sex with a guy, until I met the man I was going to marry.   I let you use me to satisfy your sexual desires, and I was too stupid to recognize it for what it was.   Good bye, Joey.”

Tyler opened the door, and got out of the car.   He walked into his house, and shut the door.   He walked upstairs to his bedroom and threw himself on his bed, letting his tears water his pillow.

Joey sat, stunned, in his car.   He still couldn’t believe Tyler had just dumped him!   He knew he had behaved poorly the last two days; but he had no idea it would end like this.   He drove to the Stetsons and pulled into the driveway.   He could see that Greg and Cory were home.   He turned off the car and got out.   He entered the house and went into the kitchen.   Ray and Darla were seated at the table with a cup of coffee.

Darla asked, “What’s wrong, Joey?”

“Tyler dumped me,” Joey said, as he sat down across from them.

Darla looked at him in surprise.   “I thought you guys were engaged to be married.”

“We aren’t engaged, anymore,” Joey said.

Ray asked, “What happened?”

“I screwed up big time,” Joey said.   He narrated the evening’s events and finished by saying, “Tyler’s right.   It won’t work between us, until I know what I want.”

Ray said, “Tyler has a good head on his shoulders.   You know he is a real catch, and you’re letting him get away.”

Joey looked at Ray in astonishment.   “What are you saying, Ray?”

“Why do you think Kathy is trying to find another guy?” Ray asked in return.

“She doesn’t want to be alone,” Joey said.

“Exactly,” Ray said.   “Has she been shy about what she wants?”

“No, she hasn’t,” Joey said.   “But what has that got to do with me?”

“Who are you going to be with when you don’t have the children?” Ray asked.

“No one,” Joey responded.

“Is that what you want?” Ray said.

“No, but I want someone who will love my girls as much as they love me,” Joey said.

“Aren’t you being just as selfish as Kathy?” Ray asked.

“I don’t understand,” Joey responded.

Ray said, “You want someone to love you and the girls; but you aren’t willing to put them first in your life.   That sounds like an uneven exchange to me.   You want everything from him, but you aren’t willing to give anything in return.   Isn’t that what Kathy did to you?”

Joey couldn’t meet Ray’s eyes.   He had to admit to himself Ray was right.   He had made it very clear to Tyler where his priorities were, and Tyler wasn’t very high on that list.

Darla said, “Ray, you’re being too hard on Joey.   I know Joey loves Tyler; but I also know he loves the girls more than anything else in his life.”

“If he really loves Tyler, he’ll get back in his car and go get his man.   He needs to fix what’s wrong between them,” Ray said.

“Tyler ended it, tonight,” Joey said, in despair.

“No, he didn’t end it; unless you let him,” Ray said.   “He’s crying out for reassurance that you love him.   You need to get back over there, and make him understand he is your number one man.   If you let it stand as it is now, it will be over.”

Joey thought about it, then stood up to leave.   “Thanks, Ray.”  

He went out to his car and drove to Tyler’s house.   He parked his car.  He got out and walked up to the front door and knocked.   Louise opened the door.   She saw Joey and said, “Thank God you came.   Tyler is in really bad shape.”

Joey looked at her in alarm.   “What happened?”

“He’s been in his room, since he came home.   I’ve heard him crying, but he won’t open the door, when I’ve tried to comfort him.   Maybe you can get him to open the door,” Louise said.

Joey pushed past Louise, and went up the stairs two at a time.   He tried the doorknob to Tyler’s room and found it locked.   He knocked and said through the door, “Tyler, please let me in.”

There was silence on the other side of the door.   He was about to knock again, when the door opened and Tyler let him in.   Tyler’s tear-stained face tore at Joey’s heart strings.   His eyes were red from crying, and he looked totally miserable.   Joey pulled Tyler into his arms.   Tyler resisted him at first; but Joey said, “Please, Tyler, give me a second chance.   I know I messed up; but, I can’t live without you.   I need you.”   Joey knew he had won a reprieve, when Tyler relaxed in his arms.  

Greg looked at Cory and said, “I wish we were back in Minneapolis.   I love going dancing with the guys.   I want to go dancing with you; but I don’t know of any gay dance clubs around here that will let us in.”

Cory nodded his head in agreement.   “I don’t know of any either.   It kind of sucks we’re married and can’t get into a bar, because we’re still under age,” Cory said.

“As much as I love your parents, Cory, I really don’t want to be here,” Greg said.

Cory said, “I completely understand, Greg.   Returning to Virginia has brought back a lot of bad memories.   You’ve had nightmares nearly every night, since we arrived.   I’ve had to shake you awake, because you keep trying to defend yourself from your Dad’s blows.”

Greg said, “It has almost been a year since it happened.   I thought I was getting over the nightmares, Cory.   I really thought I could move past it, until we drove by our old house the other day.”

Cory looked into Greg’s eyes.   “I’m here for you, Greg.”   Cory put his arms around Greg.

Greg had been holding it together for most of the week; but at Cory’s touch, the tight knot of emotions that had been building inside him all week exploded.   He collapsed into his lover’s embrace, and the tears began coursing down his cheeks.  

Cory stroked his hair and patted his back to help console him.   “It’s okay.   Everything will be alright.”

It was quite some time, before the emotional storm abated to a point where Greg was able to pull back from the abyss of misery, waiting to engulf him.   He had to remind himself life wasn’t all bad.   Cory’s arms held him tight and he heard the beat of his lover’s heart, where he had pressed his ear to Cory’s chest.   The rhythmic sound of Cory’s heartbeat somehow comforted him more than anything Cory said to him.   It’s constant, steady beat seemed to say to him, “I love you,” over and over again.   He knew it was his imagination; but, at the same time he knew that Cory really did love him.

He pulled back and looked deeply into Cory’s eyes.   “Thank you for loving me, Cory.”

Cory raised his hands to Greg’s face, and wiped away the tears lingering there.   He leaned forward and kissed Greg.   “We will get through this together.”

Greg said, “I’m sorry I’m such a basket case.”

“You shouldn’t be sorry for what you can’t control,” Cory said.   “We both have deep wounds that have yet to heal.”

“Do you think we should try to visit my father in jail?” Greg asked.   “Our therapist thought it might help me, if I could confront my Dad about what he did to us.”

“It depends on whether, or not, your father has any remorse about what he did.   If he still feels like he was on a mission from God to kill you, it wouldn’t be good for you to see him,” Cory said.

“How am I going to know if he feels sorry for what he did?” Greg asked.

“You won’t know until you see him,” Cory said.

Greg nodded his head.   “You’re right.   I guess we’ll have to wait until we have more information about him; because I don’t want to see him if he’s still in the same frame of mind he was in when he attacked us.”

Cory said, “Greg, let’s drive into DC and see the monuments.   I like walking through them at night.”

“Okay,” Greg said.   The two of them stood up from the couch and walked toward the door.   Greg stuck his head into the kitchen.   “Mom, we’re going for a drive.   We’ll be back in an hour, or so.”

Darla looked up from the magazine she was reading and said, “Okay.   Call if you decide to stay later; so we won’t worry about you.”

“Okay,” Greg replied.

They walked out of the house, and climbed into their car.   Greg navigated through the streets of the subdivision and out onto the main road.   Once on the freeway, he opened up the engine and let the Ferrari speed down the pavement.

Cory said, “Greg, you’ll get a ticket, if you don’t slow down.”

Greg acknowledged Cory’s concern, “You’re right; but I have a need for speed.”   He raised his foot off of the accelerator, and the Ferrari began to slow to a more acceptable rate of speed.   Greg looked into his rearview mirror and saw the flashing lights of a cop car.   He sucked in a huge breath and looked over at Cory.   “I think I just got a ticket.”

He slowed and signaled a lane change, intending to move to the far right lane in preparation for pulling off the road.   He was much relieved when the state police car zoomed past him, and continued up the freeway at top speed.   He gave a sigh of relief, and turned to Cory.   “That was close one.”

“Yes, too close, Greg.   You need to be more careful when you decide to speed,” Cory said.

Greg drove them to the tidal basin and circled it, until he found a parking space near the Roosevelt Memorial.   He parked the car.   They got out and walked to the Roosevelt Memorial.   They held hands, as they walked from one water fountain to the next.  When they reached the last water fountain, Greg pulled Cory into an embrace and kissed him.

They were surprised by the flash of a camera.   They turned to see a young man holding the camera.   He walked up to them.   “I hope you aren’t offended I took your photograph.   I’m gay and I’m from a small town in Alabama.   I’m afraid to tell anyone there I’m gay; not even my parents.   I saw you kissing and I wanted to remember it’s okay to be gay; so when I turn 18, I can move here where I won’t have to hide who I am.”

Greg smiled and held out his hand.   “I’m Greg and this is my husband, Cory.”

He shook Greg’s hand and said, “I’m Tim Dupree.   I’m a senior in high school, and I’m here with the Close Up Program.   We are learning how government works.”   He stopped, staring at them in amazement.  He said, “Wait a minute!  Did you say Cory is your husband?”

Greg laughed at Tim’s expression.  “Yes, I did.  We were married last summer, before school started.”

Tim’s excitement was very evident.   “I’ve never met a gay married couple.   Where were you married?”

Cory said, “We were married in Canada.”

“I’ve dreamed of meeting a super great guy who will sweep me off my feet.   We’ll be married, and we will live happily ever after!” he exclaimed.   Then an expression of sadness and despair crossed his face.   “But that will never happen to me as long as I live in the South.”

Greg said, “That’s true, Tim.   We’re going to school in Minneapolis.   It’s a nice place to be.   We have great roommates, who are gay just like us.   I can’t tell you how great it feels to be accepted as a gay man, and to have friends who understand you and don’t judge you.”

Tim nodded his head.   “I wish I could move there, now.   Unfortunately, I have to finish high school first.”

Cory said, “We’ll give you our cell phone number, and you can call us after you graduate.   We’d love to have you visit us.   Maybe you will decide to go to school with us at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.”

Cory gave him his cell number.   Tim said, “Thanks a lot.   I promise I’ll call.”   Tim scampered off to catch up to his group of fellow students.   He turned to wave at them, before he disappeared behind a wall.

Cory said, “I hope he calls.   He seemed really nice.”

Greg agreed.  “I think he will.   He seemed pretty excited to know we’re married.”

They finished touring the Roosevelt Memorial and walked to the Lincoln Memorial.   They took some photos of the Gettysburg Address inscribed on the wall.  

Greg said, “It’s ironic that the Civil War helped free the slaves; but it didn’t end discrimination against them; just like the discrimination against gays hasn’t ended with the few laws that have been overturned forbidding homosexual behavior.   I guess we should be grateful we haven’t been thrown in jail for loving another man.”

Cory said, “Being here reminds of how bad things are for gays in Virginia and in much of the United States.   Remind me never to move back here.   I wish my parents would move to another state who recognizes our marriage.   I don’t want to raise a family where hate and bigotry are the norm.”

Greg took Cory by the hand and led him outside to admire the view of the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.   “We live in a country that prides itself on freedom for all.   It makes me sad those freedoms are allowed for the privileged few.   If we dare speak up for our rights, we’re branded as troublemakers and worse.”

Cory said, “Let’s go Greg.   I’m ready to go home.”

“So am I,” Greg said.  

They walked back to their car.   Greg drove them to the Stetsons.   They walked into the kitchen, and found Ray and Darla sitting at the table.   They had their usual cup of coffee.

Greg looked at Ray and said, “I don’t know how you two can sleep drinking coffee this late at night.”

Ray said, “I enjoy a good up of coffee.   It helps me unwind.   The caffeine has never bothered me.”

Darla added, “I find it relaxes me, and I can sleep much better.”

Cory laughed and said, “I can attest to that.   Mom dozes off pretty quickly after her nightly cup of coffee.”

“How was your drive into the district?” Ray asked.

“It was okay, except for a minor scare thanks to Greg’s penchant for speeding,” Cory said, nudging Greg in the ribs.

Greg looked sheepish and said, “I admit I like to speed.   We almost got caught, tonight.   Fortunately, the cop went right past us and left us alone.”

Darla looked at Greg and said, “Please be careful, Greg.”

“I will.   Cory is constantly reminding me not to speed,” Greg said.

“You should listen to your husband, Greg,” Ray said.

Greg put his hands up in surrender, “Okay, Okay, I’ll stop speeding.”

They all laughed.   Cory said, “Good night, Mom and Dad.   We’ll catch you in the morning.”

“Good night, boys,” Darla said.

“Good night,” Ray said.   He grinned and winked at them.   “Don’t have too much fun up there, tonight.”

Greg guffawed, “That’s entirely up to my husband.”

Cory blushed and pulled Greg out of kitchen, before he could say anything else.   They made their way to their bedroom.   Greg closed the door behind them and said, “Cory, I want to fuck your brains out, tonight.”

Cory grinned and said, “I thought you might.   Let’s get a shower and cleaned up.”

They showered, beginning the foreplay that would end with a towering inferno of passion.

Rick and I were sitting at the kitchen table, talking about Mom with Aunt Mary and Uncle Dave.   I said, “I’m still amazed Mom is really leaving Dad.”

Uncle Dave said, “She’s not.”

I looked at him in surprise.   “What do you mean?”

“She doesn’t want to leave your Dad,” Uncle Dave said.   “She is trying to help him overcome some of his bad habits, by giving him the opportunity to go to counseling with her.”

“But, she moved out,” I countered.

Aunt Mary said, “She moved out to force your Dad to deal with his issues.   If she had stayed, he would never change.”

Rick nodded his head in comprehension.   “This is her way of getting his attention.”

“That’s correct,” Uncle Dave said.   “I predict they will be back together by the end of the summer.   Of course, your father could decide his pride is more important than his family.   If that happens, you mother will, indeed, divorce him.”

“It’s a good thing your mother is taking this trip to Toronto,” Aunt Mary said.   “She will have some time to think about what she really wants to do about your Dad.   At the same time, she will get to spend some time with her parents.”

“My grandparents have never really approved of my Dad,” I said.

“Yes, we know,” Uncle Dave said.   “Your Dad has told me many times of how much he can’t stand his father-in-law.”

“Grandpa is a really nice man,” Rick said.

“Yes, I believe he probably is, Rick; however, you’re not married to his daughter,” Uncle Dave said.

“No, I’m not.   I’m just his grandson’s boyfriend,” Rick said, with a big grin.   He put his arm around my shoulders.

Uncle Dave smiled.   “Yes, that is true; but that’s very different.”

Rick laughed and said, “I would hope so!”

I leaned over and kissed my boyfriend.   “I love you, Rick.”

Aunt Mary smiled and said, “You two are a breath of fresh air.   I’m glad you are staying with us.”

“Who is a breath of fresh air?” Ben asked as he walked into the kitchen.   He sat down next to me and punched me in the arm.   “You can’t mean these two!”

His mother replied, “I, indeed, was referring to them.   Not that you and Janice aren’t wonderful, as well.”

Ben said, “Thanks, Mom.   It’s been a bit crowded this week with everyone staying here; but it’s been fun.”

“We’ve enjoyed being here, as well.   Thanks for letting us crash here,” I said.

Uncle Dave said, “You’re most welcome.   It’s almost like when you guys were still in school.”

Ben laughed and said, “Almost.   At least our significant others have learned what crazy guys we are.”

Janice joined us and said, “It’s been great.   I’ve really gotten to bond with Cynthia and Nancy.”

Nancy and Cynthia were right behind her.   Cynthia said, “I’m glad I’m not the only girl in our family, anymore.”

Ben laughed.   “Yes, but you are still my only sister.” 

Cynthia stuck her tongue out at Ben.  Ben stood up and attempted to kiss his sister on the cheek; but she pushed him away and said, “Don’t even try to kiss me!”

Ben laughed and said, “Then don’t stick your tongue out at me, if you don’t want to be kissed.”

She did it, again, and quickly moved around the table, when Ben moved to catch her.   Aunt Mary said, “Okay, you two.   Stop messing around and sit down.”

Nancy said, “Yeah, sit down children!”  She grinned at her cousins.

Both Cynthia and Ben turned to Nancy.   Ben asked, “Who is calling who a child?”

Nancy, still grinning, replied, “I am.”   She took refuge behind me and Rick.

Aunt Mary said, “Please sit down, children.”

Ben said, “See, Mom thinks you’re a child, as well.”

“She is, and so are you, Ben,” Aunt Mary said.   “Since we have everyone at the table, is anyone interested in playing a game of cards?”

I looked at Rick who nodded his head.   “That’s sound fun,” he said.

Uncle Dave pulled out a deck of cards and started shuffling them.   “What shall we play?  Hearts, Spades, War, Fish, Scum, Rummy?”

“Let’s play Scum,” I said.   “I want to be Scum and Rick can be Vice Scum while everyone else gets to be part of the nameless rabble.”

Uncle Dave laughed, “We’ll see how well you do.”

We played Scum until dinner time.   After dinner, Ben said, “I want to play Uno.”

Janice agreed.   “I like Uno.   It’s fun.”

Ben retrieved the Uno game from his room, and we played Uno for the rest of the evening.   It was great sitting around the table with family playing games, and talking about our plans for the future.   We were just cleaning up after our game night, when Randy and Shawn returned from visiting some friends.

Randy said, “It looks like we missed out on quite the party.”

Rick replied, “You sure did.   I won every game.”

Randy looked at Rick in surprise.   “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.   Just ask them,” Rick responded, pointing to the rest of us.

Uncle Dave confirmed the truth of Rick’s statement.   “He did win every game we played tonight.”

Ben said, “He only won because Glenn was helping him.”

“I did not!” I protested.

Shawn laughed, “We believe you, Glenn.   Can’t you tell when Ben is teasing you?”

“Sometimes,” I replied.

Ben laughed and said, “I can always get you, Glenn.”

Rick put his arm around my shoulders and said, “It’s okay, Glenn.”

I said, “I know.”

Shawn said, “We’re turning in for the night.”

“I think we’ll join you,” Rick said.

We said good night to everyone and made our way downstairs to Ben’s old room.   Rick and I sat down on our bed, as we helped each other undress.  

Shawn said, “I’m glad we went to visit Curtis and Doug.”

Rick asked Shawn, “Who are Curtis and Doug?”

Shawn replied, “They are two of Randy’s ex-boyfriends.   They got married a couple of months ago.”

“Doesn’t it bother you to be around Randy’s ex-boyfriends?” Rick asked.

“No, not really,” Shawn said.   “I’m pretty secure in the knowledge he loves me.  Besides, they’re married.”

“Have you and Randy ever considered a three-way relationship?” I asked.

Shawn raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.   “It’s never come up since we’ve been together.   Why do you ask?”

Rick looked at me and said, “I’d like to know what prompted that question, as well.”

“I just wanted to know if you have ever considered it.   Rick and I are completely monogamous,” I said, taking Rick’s hand in mine.

Rick smiled.   “I was beginning to wonder if you were hinting that you wanted an open relationship.”

“It’s crossed my mind; but I’m not ready to explore that kind of relationship, until I have a ring on my finger and a piece of paper that says we’re married,” I said.

 “That doesn’t make sense, Glenn.   If you’re going to add another person to your relationship, it would be better to do it before you’re married,” Shawn said.

Randy came into the room and asked, “Are you looking for another guy to form a threesome?”

Rick answered, “No, we are NOT.”   He gave me a look and I knew he wasn’t happy with me.

I stood up and pulled Rick to his feet, “Let’s get ready for bed.”   We crossed the hall to the bathroom.   As soon as the door was closed, I wrapped my arms around Rick’s waist.   I looked into his eyes and said, “I’m sorry if I upset you by asking about a threesome.”

Rick said, “It just made me wonder what you were thinking.”

“I just wanted to know Shawn’s views on the subject,” I said.   “Are we good?”

Rick kissed me and replied, “Yes, we’re good.”

We took care of our needs and returned, to find Shawn and Randy already in bed.   We climbed into our bed.   Rick put his back against the wall and draped his arm over me, pulling me close.

The next morning, we were up early and quickly showered.   We packed our things into Shawn’s car.   We said our good byes and drove over to Mom’s new apartment.   She was ready to go, when we arrived.   Rick loaded her luggage into the back of the car.   Randy climbed into the backseat with us; so Mom could have the front seat.   I enjoyed the ride to Regina, since I got to be close to my guy.  

At one point, Randy said, “Okay you two.   No making out in the backseat.”

“Why?   Are you jealous?” I asked.

Randy grinned.   “Yes, I am.   It’s not fair to watch you two making out, when I can’t make out with my husband because he has to drive.”

Mom turned and looked over her shoulder at us and said, “They are two young people who are in love, Randy.   It’s okay for them to show the rest of us they love each other.”

Randy responded, “I’m okay with them making out, Mom.   I only object to not being able to do the same.”

Shawn glanced in his mirror and said, “I’ll take care of you, when we get to our hotel in Toronto.”

“I’m counting on that,” Randy said.

We arrived at the airport and checked our bags.   Mom had managed to snag an aisle seat in the same row, where Rick and I had our seats.   I took the middle seat so Rick could have the window.   We were seated in an exit row so Rick would have a little extra room for his long legs.   Mom sat next to me.   As soon as we were in the air, I turned to Mom and asked, “Do you think Dad will change?”

“I certainly hope so,” Mom said.   “I love your father very much; but we both need to adjust how we treat each other.   I’m as much at fault as your Dad, Glenn.   I recognize that fact, and I’m willing to work toward improving our relationship.   I’ve tried to get your father to go with me to marriage counseling; and he has stubbornly refused.   The last time I mentioned it; he told me I was the one who needed to see a shrink, not him.”   She paused, and I looked over to see she was crying.  I put my arm around her shoulder.   She wiped away her tears and said, “I’m sorry, Glenn.”

“It’s okay, Mom,” I said.   “We’re here for you.”

“It’s so hard, Glenn, to see the one you love turn away from you.   I know he loves me; but his love for me isn’t strong enough for him to give up his pride,” she said.   “I refused to acknowledge it was a problem, during most of our marriage.   The events of the last couple of years stripped away the rose colored glasses I used to view my world, forcing me to face reality.”

Rick said, “I hope Dad changes his mind.”

“I think he may be giving it some serious thought,” Mom said.   “I heard from my lawyer, yesterday.   Your father asked him what he needed to do to get me to come back to him.”

I looked at Rick and back to Mom.   “Do you really think he’s going to agree to go to counseling with you?”

“I can only hope,” Mom said.   “In any case, I’m going to enjoy this trip.   I haven’t really been on my own for any extended period of time, since we were first married.   Your Grandma called me last night.   She said all of the wedding preparations are done, and they will meet us at the airport.”

“Do you know where they decided to be married?” I asked.

“Grandma said she helped the guys find a place called Pride Weddings that caters to gay weddings.   Grandma was very pleased with the private wedding space they have and it’s close to the hotel,” she said.

We spent the remainder of the flight talking about the wedding and the things Mom wanted to do, while she was down east.

Our plane landed and we made our way to the baggage claim.   Grandpa and Grandma were waiting near the carousel.   Mom hugged them both.   Mom said, “I’m so glad to see you.”

Grandma smiled.   “We’re glad you’re here.   We were afraid you might not come; given the circumstances.”

Grandpa said, “It’s about time you came to your senses.”

Mom said, “Now, Dad, I know you have never approved of Don; but, there is no reason for you to berate me.”

Grandpa said, “My apologies, Eva; however, I still stand by my statement.”

Grandma turned to us and said, “Boys, I’m glad to see you.”  Randy, Shawn, Rick and I crowded around her and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.   “You have all become such handsome men.   You should be proud of your sons, Eva.”

Mom smiled up at us.   “I am, Mom.   Believe me, I am.   I’m also proud of the men in their lives.   Shawn and Rick are wonderful.”

Grandpa asked, “Which one is your bag, Eva?”

I laughed and said, “Your question should be, ‘Which ONES are her bags?’   You know Mom can’t travel with just one!”

Grandpa smiled and said, “No, I haven’t forgotten how much luggage this particular woman likes to bring on every trip.   Even as a little girl, your mother had to take her entire wardrobe with her wherever we went.”

Mom blushed and protested, “Daddy, I didn’t take everything with me.”

“Eva,” Grandma said, a warning tone in her voice.

Mom quickly corrected herself, “Oh, alright, I took most everything.”

We grabbed our bags and mother’s off of the carousel.   We followed Grandpa outside to the waiting limousine.   Grandpa said, “I hired this limo for the next few days to take us around town.”

Mom said, “It makes me feel very special.”

Grandma said, “Your father arranged to have your brothers and their fiancés driven to fancy restaurants each evening we have been here.   They have also been to concerts and plays.”

“Dad, thank you for making this week a special one for the twins,” Mom said.

Grandpa said, “It’s the least I can do for them.   They have helped me on the farm all of these years, and have always been there, when we have needed them.   I just want them to be happy.”

We arrived at the hotel and the chauffer helped us get our luggage on the trolley.   We checked in.   Grandpa said, “I took the liberty of booking a suite for the four of you.”

“Thank you, Grandpa,” Randy said.

We got our room keys and followed the bell boy into the elevator.   He wheeled our luggage trolley into our suite and unloaded our gear.   We directed him where to put our things; then tipped him, as he left.

I looked around the suite.   It had a large sitting room combined with a dining room.   There was a small kitchen and two very large bedrooms with a king-sized bed in each room.   Rick put his arm around my waist and said, “I think we should try out the bed.   We need to make sure the mattress is in proper working order.”

Randy guffawed, “Yeah, right!   You just want to fuck each other.”

Rick grinned and said, “You should talk, Randy.   I believe your husband has the same idea.”

Shawn took Randy’s hand in his and said, “Come with me, my husband.”   They disappeared into their bedroom.

I looked up at Rick and said, “Let’s try out the bed.”

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

Pride Weddings -