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by j.d.davis March 25 2005 

The cursor winking on the blank screen was almost hypnotizing.  Jack gazed at it for several minutes, drew a deep breath, then continued his e-mail to PDX91:

To answer your question, my wife and I divorced three years ago. I could give you my reasons but there are always two sides to every story and her reasons are just as valid as mine.  We both still live in the same area but no longer have any contact. I heard she was seeing someone and I hope he can make her happy. My work keeps me very busy and I haven’t had the time or the inclination to get back into the dating scene. I’m not even sure I want to be involved with someone again, although I miss the companionship. It’s not always easy to return to an empty apartment every night, and, yes, I get lonely some times. How about you?

Jack pressed send. He had been e-mailing PDX91 for several weeks. He had signed on to a singles group one evening when he had been feeling particularly down and his mysterious correspondent had sounded interesting. He liked the anonymity, could be more open than he would have been face to face, and had found an empathetic audience. Their contact had developed from weekly to almost daily e-mails, and Jack realized he looked forward to signing on each night to see what PDX91 had to say.

The next evening, Jack found the reply.

From PDX91 to JON38:

I was very impressed by your candor and obvious respect for your ex. So many people would have given their side of the story without acknowledging the validity of their partner’s position. I can understand your reluctance to get involved in the dating scene. It’s hard to get back ‘out there’ after a long-term relationship has gone sour. It’s certainly a risk I am unwilling to take at the moment. Too many bad experiences in my past . . . I find comfort in good friends and am beginning to count you as one. Is that presumptuous of me?

            From JON38 to PDX91:

No, not presumptuous at all, I consider you a friend also. Work was horrific today and I was glad to get home, kick back and relax. I look forward to reading your messages and find I can be more open about certain matters than I would normally be. The anonymity helps, don’t you think? We can say what we want to without the constraints of conforming to social niceties. Do you think you will ever be ready to date again? Or are you content to live alone and find solace in your friendships?

            From PDX91 to JON38:

You’re quite right, the anonymity does help. To answer your question, I would like to find someone to share the rest of my life but dating just doesn’t appeal. I’m thirty-two years old and the singles scene seems to consist of youngsters just venturing out there and desperate ‘older’ men who are not interested in the middle-aged! That sounds harsh, I know, but in my experience all too true. They are looking to recapture their youth with young flesh and do not seem to ‘see’ anyone over thirty! I guess I’m becoming cynical as I get older.

            From JON38 to PDX91:

And here was I thinking I had cornered the market on cynicism! I understand where you are coming from, though. I’m thirty-eight myself – original address don’t you think – and find I have become invisible. Eyes just slide right on by me! Although there was one voracious-looking harpy who had me running for the door – must have been seventy if she was a day! Not that I have anything against older women showing an interest, but definitely not my scene!

            From PDX91 to JON38:

So your name is Jon? You can call me Sherlock! Seriously, am I breaking a cardinal rule by destroying your total anonymity? We still wouldn’t recognize each other if we passed on a crowded street! Just, if the 38 is your age that leads me to think . . . Hold on – we’re not doing that Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan thing, are we? No, please!          

From JON38 to PDX91:

Meg Ryan? If you look like Meg Ryan I’ll be round in a flash! (It was one of my wife’s favorite movies, before you ask!)

            From PDX91 to JON38:

More like Tom Hanks!

From JON38 to PDX91:

I’m sure you are doing yourself a grave injustice, but you made me laugh! I am truly enjoying our correspondence. You are so much fun to chat to! At the risk of sounding presumptuous I would say that you are obviously clever, witty and have a great sense of humor.

Dare I venture into movie land and repeat Tom’s burning question – Should we meet?

From PDX91 to JON38:

Pride and Prejudice and a red rose? Brave of you! There’s something you need to know about me before you make a proposition like that! Honestly, I’m not sure I want to go there so perhaps not; don’t want to spoil what has become an important friendship to me. Although I am tempted.


            Jack contemplated this last message and was surprised to find himself feeling disappointed. What could PDX91 have to hide that was so bad? Still, she had said she was tempted. Perhaps with a little more persuasion she could be encouraged to overcome her reluctance.

From JON38 to PDX91:

I’ll take the fact that you are at least tempted as a positive sign. To be honest, I was more than a little disappointed at your refusal. I certainly don’t want to put any pressure on you, but I’m going to take a big risk here and tell you that I spend more time than I should thinking about you. I wonder what you look like, what you are doing at a given moment, whether you like jazz, chocolate and cold, crisp mornings?

From PDX91 to JON38:

Jon, I’m a man.

            Paul wondered if he had the courage to actually press send. Like Jon, he had spent a lot of time thinking about his correspondent. He liked the sound of him, but he had led Jon on, knowing he thought he was female. Not originally, not intentionally to begin with, but the crack about Tom Hanks had gone over Jon’s head. He would be sorry to lose their friendship but it was inevitable. He would miss the daily e-mails; the anticipation as he checked his inbox had become a high pointin his life.

            He sighed heavily and hit the button. There was no reply the next day and Paul resigned himself to the inevitable.

From JON38 to PDX91:

So? We’re still friends, aren’t we? Do you think we should meet?


            Paul stared at the screen, disbelieving. Didn’t Jon get it? Or was he imagining they could be drinking buddies? Go to football games together? Paul’s heart was pounding and he felt the heat in his face. Was his reaction excitement that Jon had re-established contact, anger, relief or hope? After careful thought, he decided it was relief. Jon still wanted to be friends, although the basis of their friendship would now shift to something more casual, less intense. Still, he enjoyed the contact and was reluctant to let it go. He had to be completely honest with Jon and leave it to him. He had already given him the opportunity to bow out and had been astounded when his inbox revealed a reply.

From PDX91 to JON38:

I have to admit I was astonished to receive a reply to my last message. When there was no immediate reply I assumed you were angry or disgusted. I am sorry I misled you. I have enjoyed our correspondence and if it hadn’t been for Meg and Tom we could have continued on obliviously. I should have been more open once you revealed the information about your divorce, but I was reluctant to lose contact with you. Apart from the difference in sexual orientation, I feel we have a lot in common and could be good friends. Are you sure you still want to meet?

From JON38 to PDX91:

I choked, I admit it! I’m sorry it took me so long to reply but I had to take the time to think this through. I WAS angry for a while, I don’t like being misled, but I was not disgusted! I have never judged people by race, color, religion or sexual orientation. I either like them or I don’t – and I like you! Little has changed, except you prefer guys, and I am open-minded about that. I shall refrain from any more mushy stuff like your preferences regarding chocolate and cold mornings! And, at the risk of giving you too much information, I did have certain experiences before I met my wife. College stuff, admittedly, experimental . . . I have no bad memories, however, and I am definitely not prejudiced.

Let’s meet somewhere neutral – you suggest the time and place.

From PDX91 to JON38:

You make it sound so easy! Wow, I don’t know what to say. Are you SURE?

From JON38 to PDX91:


From PDX91 to JON38:

Okay. Let’s meet at the cocktail bar in the Regency Hotel on Wednesday at 7.30. It won’t be busy then, not like on a Friday or Saturday night, and we should find each other without too much trouble. How will we recognize each other? Sorry, but I’m not doing the red rose thing!

From JON38 to PDX91:

Neither am I. Quick description – I’m six two, salt and pepper hair, will wear jeans and a leather jacket. By the way, you know my name is Jon (Jack, actually). Who are you? Or do I call you Tom?

From PDX91 to JON38:

Sorry, I should have said earlier. I’m Paul. Five ten, ordinary brown hair, green eyes; jeans and leather jacket sounds about my style, too, although I don’t want to look like a twin!

* * * * * * * *


            Wednesday, 7.40 and still no sign of Jack. Paul sat at the bar nursing a Canadian Club on ice, beginning to think Jack had changed his mind. He wouldn’t blame him, although he would be terribly disappointed. He would give him until eight, then go home and lick his wounded ego. He looked at himself in the mirror behind the bar, seeing someone ordinary, nothing special, and tried to wipe the anxious look from his face. A man was walking up behind him – tall, slim, silvery hair. He swung round and looked at the stranger.

            “Paul? Sorry I’m late, traffic was a bitch!” Paul grasped the extended hand and shook it firmly.

            “Pleased to meet you, Jack. Can I buy you a drink?”

            “Scotch and water, please. Thanks.”

            Jack slid onto the stool next to Paul and waited until the barman placed a glass in front of him. He took an appreciative sip then said,

            “Shall we find a booth?” Paul nodded and they moved away from the bar, seeking the privacy they required. They sat opposite each other, quietly assessing one another.

“Sooo,” Jack drawled. “We finally meet.”

“Yes, finally.” Paul winced at his inane reply. “I’m really nervous,” he admitted frankly. “I guess I still don’t believe you’re okay about me.”

Jack smiled slightly at the younger man. Despite his nervousness, Paul was an attractive individual. The amazing green eyes dispelled any ordinariness from his countenance. He was tall and slender, immaculately turned out and had a charming smile when he responded to Jack’s.

“I’m nervous, too,” Jack replied. “But, hey, what do we have to be nervous about? We’ve been chatting for months now, know a fair bit about each other, we’re friends right?” Paul visibly relaxed.

“Yes, we are,” he said, feeling the tension slipping away. Jack was very easy to be with. Paul was registering all the physical attributes of the man opposite him. The silver gray hair was deceptive because it was the only indication that he was nearly forty; he must have gone gray prematurely because the lean, muscular body and handsome, open face were that of a man much younger. He had kind, dark brown eyes with laughter lurking in their depths.

“Like what you see?” Jack asked after a few moments. Paul felt himself blush.

“Sorry, was I staring? I didn’t think you would be quite so attractive.” He bit his lip and looked away. “Oh God, that wasn’t a come on, honestly,” he added hastily. “Just opening my mouth before engaging my brain!” To his amazement, Jack laughed.

“Relax, Paul. Hey, we’re just here to get to know each other a bit better, and the physical presence is all part of that, right? I’m flattered you find me attractive. You’re a good looking guy yourself.”

Paul could not think of any suitable reply to Jack’s comment, and found himself gazing into his drink. He peeped up through his eyelashes to catch Jack’s expression and Jack blinked. Paul couldn’t go around pulling tricks like that – those vulnerable puppy eyes would melt the hardest heart.

“Want to grab a bite to eat?” Jack said, anxious to get Paul to relax more.

“Sure.” Paul smiled dazzlingly and Jack felt himself react again. “Do you want to eat here? There’s an Italian place just round the corner if you don’t want hotel food.”

“Italian sounds good,” Jack said easily and they finished their drinks before walking the short distance to the restaurant.


* * * * * * * *


Jack and Paul fell into a routine of meeting once a week to enjoy a meal together, slowly becoming very good friends. They talked about everything and anything, usually ending up in fits of laughter, totally comfortable with each other. They still e-mailed each other, although not as often, usually to make or sometimes break arrangements, share a particularly good joke, or occasionally just to touch base.

They had planned to get together one Friday night at a newly opened restaurant. Paul had arrived early and was watching the door, waiting for Jack to arrive.  He was astounded to see him walk in talking animatedly to a beautiful blonde woman. He escorted her to the bar and bought her a drink, her hand touching his arm with a familiarity that twisted Paul’s insides. Confused and hurt, Paul got to his feet, ready to flee the scene.

He knew Jack was straight but the blatant evidence of his heterosexuality cut him to the quick. Paul had admitted to himself early in their relationship that he found Jack extremely attractive, but he had never shown his feelings and had been careful to maintain an air of neutrality. Even when they occasionally talked about sex, he had preserved a careful demeanor. Jack had talked about his marriage sometimes, had confided some details of his past life, including the episodes at college to which he had referred in his e-mail. Paul had responded naturally, revealing he had had a long-term relationship several years earlier, entertaining Jack with some of his more outrageous exploits.

They had become truly good friends and Paul treasured that for what it was worth, and it was worth a great deal to him; enough for him to control his emotions. He had grown to love Jack, he admitted it. Jack called him his best friend and he was happy to fill that role. But seeing Jack with a woman had broken through his carefully constructed façade and he felt a raging jealousy. His hands were shaking and he knew he could not face Jack in his current state.

He would not be able to leave the restaurant without Jack seeing him, so he headed for the restrooms. Splashing cold water on his heated face, he watched himself in the mirror. ‘Fool’, he berated himself, ‘you stupid, bloody fool!’ The door of the restroom opened behind him and Jack came in. Paul groaned inwardly but turned to face him.

“Hey, Paul,” Jack greeted him with a smile. “I wondered if you’d arrived. Did you get a table?”

“Yes,” Paul said shortly, “but I think I’m going to have to cancel. I’m not feeling too good.” Jack was all concern.

“Why didn’t you call me?” he demanded. “You didn’t have to come down here if you weren’t well.” Too upset to choose his words, Paul responded tartly,

“I was feeling okay when I arrived.”

Jack caught the tone and looked at his friend, noting the flushed countenance and the hurt in his eyes. The color could be due to a fever, but the expression had a different cause. Figuring it out, Jack couldn’t resist a small smile. Paul was infuriated and opened his mouth to respond but Jack forestalled him.

“There’s someone I’d like you to meet,” he said softly. Paul could not believe his ears.

“No,” he said violently. “Just let me leave, Jack. I’d like to maintain a little dignity!”

“I insist,” Jack replied and taking a firm grip of Paul’s arm he led him back to the bar.

“Karen, I’d like you to meet a good friend of mine,” he said to the blonde. “This is Paul.” Karen smiled coolly and murmured,

“Pleased to meet you, Paul.” Jack turned to Paul and smiled again.

“Paul, this is Karen, my ex.” Paul gaped and then flushed.

“Oh,” he said helplessly, and then watched as Karen’s face changed subtly. There was an odd expression in her eyes as she assessed him, then she turned to Jack.

“Well, I see you’ve finally moved on,” she said in a careful tone. Her eye registered a movement in the distance and she added, “You’ll excuse me, Paul, but I think my friend has arrived.” She slipped from the barstool and nodded to Jack before walking over to the door. She kissed the man waiting for her and they were shown to their table. Jack watched her, his expression unreadable, and then turned back to Paul.

“Where’s our table?” he asked and Paul silently led him to their places. Jack studied the menu, giving Paul time to collect his thoughts, waiting for the outburst. Paul surprised him, however, with a quiet question.

“What did she mean, Jack?”

“About what?” Jack seemed confused, although Paul doubted he was.

“She said ‘I see you’ve finally moved on’. What did she mean?”

“How should I know?” Jack shrugged. When Paul waited for further comment, he added, “Perhaps she assumed we were together.”

“Well, obviously! You introduced me; she would realize we would be having dinner together.” He sipped at his glass of water, trying to collect his scattered wits.

“Don’t be dense, Paul,” Jack said lightly. Paul choked and spluttered, so Jack slapped him on the back. When he had recovered, Paul returned to the conversation.

“Are you trying to tell me your wife – “


“Okay, ex-wife, assumed we were a couple? Why would she think that?”

“Maybe she had reason to,” Jack replied. “What do you want to eat?” Jack beckoned the waiter, obviously unwilling to pursue the topic further. Paul politely subsided and they ordered their meal, but as soon as the waiter had left he said,

“Jack, I really think you owe me an explanation.” Jack sighed.

“Yes, I suppose I do. But not here, Paul, not now, okay? Can we just enjoy our meal? Please?”

Paul let it go and they enjoyed their customary evening’s entertainment. As they were leaving, however, Paul said,

“Jack, will you come back to my place? I think we need to talk.”

“Okay,” Jack conceded. “I’ll follow you.”

Jack had been to Paul’s apartment several times, just as Paul had been to his on occasion. They did not make a regular thing of it, maintaining a little distance, preferring to meet at a bar or restaurant. Jack was familiar with his surroundings and would normally relax, but the prospect of his conversation with Paul was making him tense. Ever the good host, Paul offered him coffee or a drink. Jack settled for a Scotch and took a seat on the couch. Paul poured the drinks and then joined him, sitting at the opposite end, facing Jack. He said nothing, just waited for Jack to talk.

Jack sipped his drink and gathered his thoughts. His first comment came out of left field, catching Paul completely by surprise.

“Why were you so upset?” he asked. “You were going to leave, weren’t you?”

“Attack the best form of defense?” Paul riposted. Jack was silent and Paul gave in.

“I didn’t know she was your ex,” he said. “I thought you’d moved on!”

“And you thought that would be the way I would do it?” Jack was incredulous. “Don’t tell me you actually thought I would do something that hurtful to you!”

“I didn’t want to think it!” Paul burst out. “You have no idea, do you? You haven’t a clue!”

“About what?”

“About how I feel about you!” Paul’s strict control over himself had slipped away. Furiously, he yelled at Jack. “I love you, Jack, I’m in love with you. I’m sorry, I’ve tried to hide it, but when I saw you with her . . .” He stopped abruptly, appalled at his words. ‘Oh God’, he thought, ‘what have I done!’

Jack carefully placed his glass on the coffee table and looked steadily at Paul.

“I’d started to suspect something,” he said, very carefully. “Karen spotted it immediately. She was always good at relationships.”

“That’s what she meant? We’re friends, Jack, that’s all! There was nothing for her to spot!””

“It’s not all, Paul, you’ve just admitted it.” Paul closed his eyes, his face a mask of pain; then he rose to his feet.

“I think it’s time for you to go,” he said, refusing to look at Jack. Jack stayed where he was.

“I don’t think so, Paul,” he said. “In fact, I’m thinking the exact opposite.”

“What are you talking about?” Paul was anxious for Jack to go, barely able to control his tumultuous feelings. He was hurt, angry, miserable, defeated. He wanted privacy so he could scream and throw things, cry his heart out, get drunk, whatever. Why wouldn’t Jack go?

“I’m thinking it’s time for you to come,” Jack responded facetiously. Paul’s jaw dropped open.

“Wh-what did you just say?” he asked incredulously.

“You heard.” Jack gave a short laugh, finally rising to his feet.  Paul backed away as Jack looked like he might actually be trying to touch him.

“What? You know I’m not good at saying this stuff, Paul. That’s why I like e-mailing you, it’s so much easier. Did you really mean what you said?”

“I said a lot of stuff,” Paul retaliated, but he was beginning to smile, the tight knot in his chest gradually unraveling. “What are you talking about?” Jack flushed.

“Aw, crap, Paul, you know, dammit!” Paul raised a hand to fend Jack off as he moved purposefully towards him.

“Say it, Jack!” he demanded. Jack stopped, his shoulders slumped in defeat.

“About loving me,” he whispered, head bowed. “Did you mean it?”

“Yes, I did.” Jack looked up and Paul’s breath caught as he saw the blaze of joy in those brown eyes. But still he fended Jack off. Jack groaned.

“You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you?” Paul smiled and nodded.

“Okay, I can do this,” Jack huffed. “I love you, too,” he muttered rapidly and grabbed Paul in a bear hug. “Just don’t expect me to say it again!”


“Well, not too often!” Paul laughed and relaxed into Jack’s arms. There was a long pause while Paul waited for the next move. When nothing else happened he pulled slightly away. Jack was blushing furiously, looking anywhere except at Paul.

“What’s the matter?”

“I-I know this is stupid – “ Jack stammered.

“What, Jack?” Paul’s voice was gentle. Then it dawned on him. Jack had absolutely no clue what to do next. Taking matters into his own hands, Paul cupped Jack’s jaw and moved in for a kiss. Lightly brushing his lips over Jack’s, he waited for Jack’s response. He did not shrink back or move away, but nor did he return the kiss. He just stood quietly, apparently waiting for something else to happen. Paul made an exasperated little noise and kissed him again, his lips moving over Jack’s, the tip of his tongue licking his lower lip, probing gently, seeking admittance, undemanding.

With a groan, Jack opened his mouth and finally returned the kiss. Their tongues met and tangled, then Jack’s alpha side resurfaced and his arms tightened around Paul as he became aroused. Paul could feel his erection stiffening against his thigh, his own penis swollen and heavy with desire. He pulled out of the kiss gasping for breath, but moved in closer, his groin rubbing against Jack’s. Jack flinched and Paul stopped immediately.

“I’m sorry,” Jack mumbled.

“Sit down,” Paul ordered quietly. “Jack, please, sit. Let’s talk about this.”

Jack sat down, a mixture of resentment, lust and confusion evident in his expression. Paul sat beside him, his arm brushing against Jack’s, their thighs touching. Paul took it as a good sign that Jack did not move away from the contact.

“Okay,” Paul said, taking a deep breath. “You talk the talk, Jack, but it’s not that easy, is it? No good making humorous quips about me coming instead of you going when you can’t handle intimate contact.”

“Paul, please – “ Jack muttered, embarrassed.

“No, Jack, we have to talk about what we’re getting into here. I know you don’t like to discuss your feelings. I can appreciate you’re embarrassed and confused, and I understand that you like to be in control of the situation. But for now you’re going to have to trust me, okay?” Jack grunted what could have been assent. Paul took another deep breath.

“Let’s review what’s happened then, shall we? One, I’ve admitted that I’m in love with you. Two, you’ve said you love me, although I’m sorry I forced you into that. No!” Paul held up a hand. “Let me finish, please, Jack. Three, you seem to think that because your ex infers we’re already lovers that you should make it so. Four, you haven’t a clue about making love to another guy, even if you did experiment years ago. Five, I seriously doubt whether you’ve even started to come to terms with the fact that I AM another guy or the fact that you have feelings for me. Am I right?”

Jack said nothing, just looked sulky.

“Am I right, Jack?”

“Yeah, okay, you’re right. But I meant what I said, Paul, you didn’t force me to say it!”

“And I won’t force you to ever again.” Paul smiled. “I know how hard it was for you to say it the first time, but if you meant it, then that’s what matters!”

“I meant it, honestly.”

“So you love me - don’t wince like that – and you want to have sex with me, right?”


“No, Jack, we have to get this out in the open now.” Jack knew Paul was right; he just wasn’t prepared for such an intimate conversation. However, he would have to give it his best shot. Paul deserved that he be honest with him

“Okay. Yes.”

“You’ll be happy to know I feel the same way about you. You’re probably freaking out about the mechanics of it; after all it’s been a very long time.”

“Stop with the long time, thank you very much! I’m not that old!” Paul grinned; Jack was beginning to calm down.

“Bad choice of words. All right - I have considerably more experience in this department so you’ll just have to let yourself be guided by me to begin with, okay? We’re not going to do anything you’re not comfortable with, so relax.”

Paul handed Jack his glass and picked up his own. He took a sip, watching Jack carefully. He seemed relaxed and deep in thought.

“Can I ask you something?” he said finally.

“Ask me anything you want,” Paul said quickly. “I’ll try to answer you honestly and truthfully. There’s a lot you want to know, I’m sure.”

“Have you ever done it with a woman or have you always been -?” Jack stopped abruptly.

“Gay? You can say it Jack. I tried a couple of times, but girls just didn’t do it for me. You could say I lost my virginity in high school – her name was Veronica, that’s all I can recall about it – but I really lost my virginity at college, and his name was Scott.” Jack laughed.

“So I’m gay,” he said in a bemused tone. “Who’d a thunk?” Paul was unwilling to let him make bad jokes about it.

“You’re not gay, Jack. Technically, I guess you’re bi-sexual. You’ve had a committed, loving relationship with a woman, you enjoyed sexual relations with her, right?”


“And I don’t think the thought of having sex with another attractive woman disturbs you in any way, does it?”


“Does having sex with another man disturb you? I mean someone other than me?” Jack had to really think about that.

“Honestly? Yes, actually, it does. This is confusing, but the fact that you are a man is secondary to my feelings for you. I’m not sure about the sex thing, I admit it, but I want to be with you. And being with you involves sex, it’s part of it.” Jack stopped, his face flushing again. “I – I enjoyed kissing you, Paul, it felt right, it was okay. Everything else . . . I don’t want you to think I’m just conducting an experiment here, I hope you understand that. I can’t really explain it – it’s like I don’t see a man or a woman; I just see you.”

Paul had to smile as an immense feeling of relief swept over him. Jack had allayed his main fear, that he was just curious, and confirmed what he already knew about the man. Jack wasn’t playing games. Jack saw Paul as the person he loved; gender just didn’t enter into it.

“I get the picture,” Paul said gently. “How would you feel if I kissed you again?”

“I’m okay with that. Kissing is good.”

Unable to resist any longer, Paul moved in for another kiss. Jack was no longer nervous, and Paul discovered several things when their lips met again. The underlying sexual attraction was evident, Jack’s passion almost over-whelming, but there was an aching tenderness transmitted through his lips. Jack engulfed him; he felt he was drowning in Jack. No words needed to be spoken, he knew then that he was desired, that he was truly loved.


* * * * * * * *


From JON38 to PDX91:

I believe I had an epiphany! Kissing you was the most extraordinary experience of my life. Although we have done nothing except kiss briefly (twice!), I find myself thinking about the feel of your lips, the taste of your mouth, the touch of your tongue against mine. I crave more. I want to touch your skin, kiss your fingers, explore every inch of you. I am confused, nervous (terrified, actually) but oh, so willing.

 I suck at this stuff, you know that, but I just wanted to tell you that nothing has changed (as in my feelings for you) and yet everything has.

From PDX91 to JON38:

You think you suck at this stuff? How can you write so eloquently and erotically, leaving me gasping with desire and so sexually tense I’m liable to explode? Have mercy!

            From JON38 to PDX91:

I told you, e-mailing is easy. Just don’t expect me to SAY any of this stuff to you. My tongue gets twisted and I choke on the simplest of words. The fact that my mouth is dry just from looking at you might have something to do with it, but I think it’s probably my built in anti-sap meter! Can’t imagine me murmuring endearments in your ear. Can’t imagine anything, really. Be gentle with me!

            From PDX91 to JON38:

Stop tormenting me. I cannot wait until next Wednesday. We have to begin sometime, somewhere.

From JON38 to PDX91:

My place, tomorrow night? Come prepared to stay. Come prepared for every eventuality. Get over here, dammit!


* * * * * * * *


            Jack and Paul were lying in each other’s arms on Jack’s bed. Paul’s head was resting comfortably against Jack’s shoulder, the soft cotton of his T-shirt warm against his cheek. Their bare feet were entangled, and Jack’s hand was rubbing small circles across Paul’s back.

            It had been easy to begin with. Paul had arrived at Jack’s door carrying a small overnight bag. Jack had produced a couple of beers, they’d ordered a pizza, and then, after they’d eaten, Jack had just taken Paul by the hand and led him upstairs. Paul had grabbed his bag on the way past, and it was now deposited beside the bed on his side.

They had kissed, taking their time, exploring sensations and reactions. Jack had not flinched when they brushed against each other, unable to ignore their obvious arousal. He had been willing for Paul to initiate some further contact, moaning his pleasure at the delicious friction between them. But he had pulled away as Paul had increased the tempo, flustered and anxious.  Paul had suppressed a groan of frustration and moved off to Jack’s side. As a reward, Jack had pulled him close, nuzzling his hair, smoothing the tension from his back.

Paul sighed softly, relaxing but having to bite down on the things he wanted to say. He had promised to wait until Jack was ready, to give him time to adjust to the strangeness of it all, but the strain on him was immense. He could not think of anything to say to convince Jack that the experience would be enjoyable. If Jack would only trust him enough, he could reveal so much to him. But Jack had to be willing, had to make the first move. His erotic e-mails were sheer bravado, Paul decided, teasing him to unparalleled heights of sexual tension and then denying him what had been offered.

But that wasn’t fair, either. Jack had admitted how terrified he was, but had expressed his feelings so candidly, in such tempting prose, that Paul could forgive him anything. His frustration demanded release, but he was not going to force Jack into anything. He could relieve himself later; he was used to the company of his own right hand, after all. He sighed again and Jack tightened his arm around him.

“I’m sorry, Paul,” he said softly. “I didn’t mean to do this to you, honestly. I thought I was ready. I want you, believe me.”

“I know you do,” Paul replied. “I just can’t think of an easy way to get you over your nerves. Would you be as nervous if I was a woman?”

“Not as nervous, no. At least I know what I’m doing there, have a fair bit of experience. But I’d still be nervous – performance anxiety an’ all!” Jack invariably made a joke to get lightly over difficult matters, a quip always ready so that he could avoid the ‘touchy, feely’ stuff.

“So is the problem with me performance anxiety?”

“No, Paul. I think the problem is the performance itself.” Jack cleared his throat and hid his face in Paul’s hair.

“Let’s just get past this, okay,” Paul said, a little impatiently. “There are many ways for us to make love, to give each other pleasure, to satisfy each other. You won’t help me out here, so I’m going to have to guess that what’s really bugging you is penetration.” He heard Jack choke off a sound that he could choose to be agreement. “Forget about it, Jack. We might never, ever get to that point. I’m not saying I wouldn’t ever want to try it, but don’t deny everything because of that.” He waited for a response and finally Jack’s lips moved in his hair.

“Okay. Lead the way.”

“Let’s take a shower,” Paul said and wriggled free from Jack’s embrace. “Together, Jack,” he added, spelling it out.

Jack allowed himself to be led into the bathroom. Paul turned on the spray and quickly shed his clothes, averting his gaze as Jack followed more slowly. He waited until Jack was under the spray, facing the wall, then stepped in behind him.

“Like me to scrub your back?” he asked with a smile. Jack mutely nodded and Paul ran his soapy hands across the broad, well-muscled back of the other man's body. Jack closed his eyes and gave himself up to the sensations created by Paul’s touch. The warm water was soothing and he felt himself relax under the gentle massage of Paul’s hands, hardly able to believe how good it felt. Turning around, he watched as Paul ran the tip of his tongue slowly over his lower lip, and Jack immediately wanted to feel those lips on his skin. He was aware he was hard, could see Paul’s obvious arousal, but nothing was more important than that luscious mouth. Bending his head, Jack sought another kiss, a surge of desire making him pull Paul close.

           The effect of their wet bodies touching was electrifying. They kissed hungrily, Jack thrusting his tongue deep into Paul’s mouth until they fell away from each other, gasping for breath. They looked at each other, Paul’s eyes widening as he followed the line of hair from Jack's navel to his groin and his breath hitched in his throat. Establishing eye contact, Paul carefully trailed his fingers down Jack’s chest.

            "Wow - that feels good!"

            "You feel good."

Smiling reassuringly, Paul continued his careful downward progress, and finally wrapped his hand slowly around Jack's cock, watching as Jack closed his eyes and groaned. His hand moved slowly, gripping firmly.

“Look at me Jack,” he urged softly. Paul wanted to maintain eye contact for as long as possible, offering constant reassurance, watching Jack’s eyes darken as his arousal increased.

"I want to see you come," gasped Paul, and Jack’s groan of assent encouraged him to increase the tempo, his hand moving surely up and down Jack’s straining shaft. Jack's breathing became more and more labored, and he moved in for another kiss, sucking Paul’s tongue into his mouth. Thrusting through his fist, Jack's body began to quiver as his climax drew near. Jack's eyes blurred, became unfocussed and his moans vibrated in Paul’s throat.

"Paul, I'm gonna come, I'm gonna..."

          "Yes Jack, show me, that’s it, let me see you come!" Paul urged him on.

Gasping, head thrown back, teeth bared in a feral snarl, Jack’s orgasm hit hard, coming over Paul’s belly and groin. Running his grip the length of his cock from the root to the tip, Paul milked his orgasm, watching Jack’s face as he shuddered and sighed. The sight and sound of Jack climaxing sent Paul over the edge and he quickly gripped himself, jerking roughly until his orgasm raced through him, coming hard and fast, almost falling against Jack. Jack’s arms came round his waist in a tight grip, supporting him as they let the water of the shower wash over them, cleansing away the signs of their lovemaking.

Jack moved back a little, his arms still clasped lightly about the other man’s waist. Paul finally raised his head from Jack’s shoulder and reached behind him to turn off the water. He kissed Jack lightly,

“You okay?” he asked. Jack nodded speechlessly.

“Let’s dry off and be comfortable,” Paul suggested, handing Jack a towel. They were soon back in the bedroom and Paul casually slid under the sheets, still naked. Jack followed his example and wordlessly pulled Paul back into his arms. Once he had him settled the way he liked, his arm around Paul’s shoulder, Paul’s head resting against his, he dropped a light kiss on his hair.

“Thank you,” he said softly. Paul smiled and Jack felt the movement against his naked skin.

“I’m just beginning to register that I’m lying here naked in my bed with you in my arms,” Jack said. “You got us over some heavy ground very lightly,” he added admiringly. “And that was the best hand job I’ve had in a very long time.”

“Just wasn’t your own,” Paul said. “Makes a difference.”

“You’re right about that,” Jack said, then yawned hugely. Paul realised the emotional and sexual tension and its eventual release had taken its toll on Jack.

“Get some sleep,” he murmured and reached for the bedside light.

Furthering Jack’s education could wait until morning and he anticipated taking great pleasure in doing so.


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