Maybe he would be enjoying himself if Colin were there with him but Colin had to work, same as he did, only Colin’s work happened to be back in San Francisco and not on St. Croix where Brian was enjoying (relatively speaking) an all-expense paid vacation courtesy of the resort in order to come up with a brilliant, new marketing campaign. No, Colin was up to his elbows in paperwork for the latest acquisition (i.e., takeover) his company was handling and couldn’t spare a week to get away with his lover. “You have your work and I have mine,” he’d said and sent Brian off with a kiss and an admonition to “play safe”. Brian did not doubt that, if the occasion arose, Colin would take advantage of his lover’s absence to sample San Francisco’s finest and he fully expected to do the same on St. Croix and then return to their loft ready to resume their life together. They’d been a couple for a few years now, having met when Brian’s firm was attempting to woo Colin’s company away from their current advertisers. The company's partners had been suitably impressed and had retained Brian’s firm and Colin had been suitably impressed and had asked Brian out. Six months later they had put their much smaller respective places up for sale and purchased an immense loft on the Central Waterfront not too far from the Financial District and the Embarcadero.

They had an arrangement: either of them could fuck around as long as it wasn’t in their place and as long as no one got hurt. Which meant no emotional involvement on their part with their tricks and no one slept in their bed but them. It had worked for three years and Brian saw no reason for anything to change in the foreseeable future. They were comfortable with one another even if their relationship lacked the fire it had once had. Fires could be banked and yet still burn. They were two of the A-Gays and they enjoyed their status: enjoyed the tasteful dinner parties they threw once a quarter, their joint vacations in international hot spots, the looks they garnered whenever they ventured out together for a night on the town. They loved one another or, at the very least, liked one another immensely, and if they weren’t in love with one another, what of it? Lots of guys fell in love on a weekly basis and had shit to show for it. They had an amazing home, and an enviable life, and the financial and personal freedom to do as they pleased. It was enough.

At least it had seemed that way in San Francisco. Here on St. Croix, however, Brian began to wonder if maybe there was something more to life than being comfortable. Once he wouldn’t have even considered being in a relationship but he’d gotten older and wiser and hadn’t pushed Colin away when he could have. Only now, the thought that he still might be missing out on something had begun to gnaw at him. Was this what he truly wanted his life to be? Comfortable? Safe?

A month and a half ago Colin had come home and dropped a Bulgari box in his lap. Inside had been two rings. White gold. Industrial looking. Brian had cocked an eyebrow and Colin had shrugged. “In case you were thinking about it,” he’d said and Brian had studied the rings for a moment, then put them away in his dresser.

Two weeks later, over dinner Brian had asked, “So if we do it, what would it mean?”

”Whatever we want it to mean,” had been Colin’s answer and the rings had stayed in the dresser drawer.

Brian didn’t know what he wanted them to mean but he wanted them to mean something. He’d been raised Catholic, Colin too, they were both aware of the connotations and commitments connected with exchanging rings. A week hadn’t gone by that Brian hadn’t taken them out and looked at them, trying to come up with a good reason for saying yes. Or no.

Which was why he was sitting at the bar in the resort restaurant knocking back his third shot of rum. Ordinarily he wouldn’t have had rum but he was in the Caribbean so when in Rome… The glass empty again, he gave the bottle of rum on the shelf a look, then decided that what he really needed was some fresh air. So he paid his bill and headed outside.

Slipping on his sunglasses, he noticed a young blond fighting with the strap of a portfolio which had somehow gotten stuck in the automatic door. As he knelt down to tug at the strap, that was hooked around some hidden mechanism, he didn't see the bellboy approaching him with a cartload piled high with luggage. And, of course, the bellboy couldn’t see him. Rolling cart, kneeling man, foreseeing a disaster, Brian lunged for the tourist and swept him away from the door, leaving the portfolio to be run over.

About to yell at his savior, the man saw the cart pass and realized how close he'd come to being flattened and muttered, "Thanks," with a rueful grin.

”No problem,” said Brian. "Good thing portfolios are already flat." He wouldn’t have even paid any additional attention to the guy but then he smiled and what had been a handsome face suddenly became a beautiful one and Brian found that he couldn’t look away.

"Justin, what the hell happened?" another young man asked as he came through the doors. He bent over and untangled the strap and handed over the portfolio.

"You know me," he said laughing a bit. "Somehow the strap came loose and got caught. Luckily, there must be a superhero convention in town because he," indicating Brian, "saved me from a fate worse than death."

"Death by luggage cart," Brian explained, then held out his hand. "Brian Kinney, superhero at large."

Taking it, "Justin Taylor, clumsy artist." All the while they’d been talking, Justin's eyes had never left Brian's face.

With a wave, "Arthur, Art Nelson, clumsy artist's boyfriend."

Just then Brian noticed Justin's tee-shirt. I Love Art. Snickered. "Did the boyfriend or the shirt come first?"

Laughing, Justin said, "The shirt."

"Sometimes I think that's the only reason he hooked up with me in the first place," joked Art.

"Then it's a good thing it didn't say, 'I Love Giving Head.' " Both Brian and Justin laughed while Art blushed and seemed to be looking for a hole to disappear into. Nodding, Brian took his leave of the couple as they went up the desk to check in. Passing through the automatic doors to the outside, he suddenly glanced around and there was Justin looking back at him. Interesting.

"So how's the takeover coming?" Brian asked, stretched out on the king sized bed in his suite, taking a little rest after a late dinner and a long after dinner walk.

"Like Barbarians at the Gate, only bloodier," replied Colin. Sighed. "I wish I could be there with you."

"The water's perfect, the sand's perfect, sky's perfect. Guys are perfect. I don't know what the fuck their other advertising firm was doing because this place could pretty much sell itself."

"But you'll do it better."

"Sexier," said Brian.

"Definitely something you know about." Pause. "Any beneficiaries of your sexiness?"

Brian smirked. "Is this your not so subtle way of asking me if I've been tricking?"


Sliding his hand down inside the front of his lounge pants, Brian stroked his cock. It had been hard since before he'd called Colin and he was sure his lover had been in the same predicament. "Not a bite," he reported. "Not even a nibble." Stroke. "I might as well be wearing a chastity belt."

Colin laughed abruptly. "Now that's a sight I'd love to see: Brian Kinney in a chastity belt. Would I get to hold the key?"

"Only if you'd unlock me."

"I'd love to," murmured Colin. "Take out that long, thick cock of yours and stroke it. Suck it 'til you start to drip and then lick up all that precum dripping down the head."

"Mmm." He was dripping already. Colin knew him well.

"Get you hard and then ride your dick like there was no tomorrow."

"Yeah." Brian loved it when Colin talked dirty to him as Colin wasn't big on vocalizing his needs. They'd been together long enough for Brian to know what he wanted and he hadn't failed yet to please his lover. "Ride it, baby."

"Yeah," moaned Colin. "Oh fuck."

"I wanna come in your ass." He rubbed the tip, getting his fingers wet and then he pulled on his cock. "Feel it. Feel it, baby. Feel my cock." Tug." Fucking your hole. Slamming into your ass." Tugging harder. Harder. "Fuck," he gasped. "Fuck, I'm coming. I'm shooting, I'm shooting up your ass." Cum splattered his torso and he rubbed it over his belly listening to Colin pant.

"I can feel it. I'm so hard. I'm coming."

"Don't come yet. Hold it. Hold it." It was a game they'd play, seeing how long Colin could hold out before coming on command. He'd shoot so hard he'd cum on Brian's face. Brian loved the feel of Colin's cum on his cheek.

"Brian!" His voice sounded desperate, he wouldn't last too long tonight.

"Come on, baby, just a little longer, just a little—"



"Oh! Oh…" His voice trailed off for a while as he came.

"Am I drenched, baby?"

"All over your face and neck," came the whispered response eliciting a final throb from Brian's cock. Then, surprising his lover, Colin continued with his fantasy. "And then I lick you clean, lick your face and neck and cock, and then you lick me clean, suck the cum from my ass, and we get hard again and fuck some more."

Brian chuckled softly, his dick stirring again. He could just see Colin stretched out before him, asshole hungry for his cock again after having just been fucked. It was one of his favorite views. "You must really miss me."

"Nobody does it like you do."

Which probably meant that Colin had been out sampling someone else's goods. Which shouldn't have bothered him. Hell, it didn't really bother him. Other people had nothing to do with them. He knew Colin liked to top and, since he wasn't the world's best bottom, he understood if sometimes Colin went out to get that itch scratched. He frowned. But if Colin were bottoming for other guys… He shook his head free of the vision and wiped his hand on his pants. "I should go. I'm pretty tired," he lied.

"Mmm," murmured Colin. "I'll talk to you later."

"Later." He hung up the phone and rolled over onto his side and plucked at the comforter.

Ever since he’d turned thirty, he’d begun jogging in the mornings and, as beautiful as San Francisco was, it couldn’t compare to running down the beach on St. Croix. He got up as close to sunrise as he could and ran while the beach was empty, lulled into an easy rhythm by the sound of the waves crashing to shore. He could see himself retiring to a place like this in another twenty years. He knew Colin was probably already planning for it, probably already had a list of places for them to look at. He was nothing if not efficient. Thorough. Meticulous. Anal. Brian snickered. They both were. It was one of the ways in which they were compatible. He supposed people called them gay clones behind their backs, after all, they were so much alike: tall, dark, and Irish; both handsome; each at the top of their profession. Colin even dressed as well as Brian; their walk-in closet was filled with designer clothes on all four sides.

So why was he feeling vaguely dissatisfied with his life?

He slowed down to a brisk walk and then a saunter, ambling down the beach.

He had everything he’d ever wanted, more even. Why wasn’t it enough? He used to say that there was no such thing as enough and he supposed he still believed that deep down. Otherwise, why work so hard still? Why fight so hard to win? Why worry about a relationship that wasn’t broken?

So intent was he on his problems that he almost stumbled over what he supposed was an inordinately large piece of driftwood. Instead, as he regained his balance, he realized it was the man from the day before, the one whose life he’d saved. Ah… “Justin,” he said, snatching the name out of the recesses of his mind.

His smile lit up the beach. “Yeah. Brian, right?”

Nodding, Brian said, “I’m used to being the only person up this early.”

Justin scooted over on his blanket and motioned for Brian to take a seat, which he did. “I wanted to watch the sunrise. It’s so beautiful here,” he replied, brushing back the hair from his face. The wind was blowing a bit.

In silence, they watched the sun come up over the ocean. Brian couldn’t remember the last time he and Colin had watched the sun rise or set. The attorney probably found more beauty in a well-executed takeover than in nature. Brian wasn’t much better. When was the last time he’d even looked out over the bay? Despite the fact that that had been one of the loft’s major selling points, how often did they take advantage of it? Unless one of their guests mentioned it, they took it for granted. Much like their lives together.


He looked over and down at Justin. “Hmm?”

”You looked so far away.”

”I suppose I was,” he admitted. “Where’s Art?”

”Asleep.” Justin began tracing doodles in the sand.

”I know you’re an artist; what does he do?”

”Real estate. His family has money so he got into real estate development to keep him out of trouble and he liked it. He’s really good too.”

Brian smirked. “You meet at the country club?”

At that, Justin laughed. “Hardly. My family does okay but we’re not quite in the country club set. Besides, they all live in Pittsburgh—“

”No shit. That’s where I’m from.”

”No way.”

”Way,” teased Brian. “So go on with your story.”

”Anyway, we met after I moved to New York. He came to this show I was in and we started dating and there you go.” He glanced at Brian from beneath thick, blond eyelashes. “What about you? You still live in the Pitts?”

He shook his head. “Nah. I moved to San Francisco years ago. I’m in advertising. That’s why I’m here. The resort is one of our clients.”

”Is there someone waiting for you back in San Francisco?”

”Colin. We’ve been together almost three years now.”

”Why didn’t he come with you?”

”Work. He’s, ah, he’s a corporate attorney, specializes in mergers and acquisitions, and they’re working on this huge takeover bid. He’ll probably sleep at the office until it’s done,” he said, only half-joking. They both took their jobs very seriously and devoted vast amounts of even their free time to work. But they loved it, thrived on the excitement. At least, he used to. Maybe still did. Only… He was beginning to question why. He had a partner he felt as if he rarely saw; a beautiful home in which the most he did some weeks was sleep; and a son whom he visited once, sometimes twice a year. His work defined him; he didn’t even know who he was outside of being an advertiser. He didn’t have hobbies, didn’t have interests except for playing pool once in a while and going out clubbing three or four times a month when they could manage it. He remembered how much he’d loved to read when he was a kid and in college, yet he couldn’t remember the last time he’d read a book for pleasure. Not even here when he could spare a few hours a day lounging around the pool or out on the beach.

”Art’s like that sometimes,” Justin said, breaking through Brian’s thoughts once again. “Guess I am too. When I’m really onto something, really into a new painting.”

”Yeah,” he said noncommittally, then got up and gave a little salute. “I should get going. Finish my run before the mouth-breathers show up.”

Justin laughed. “Brian!”

”Later.” He began to jog away but not before hearing a soft, “Later.”

Having met with the resort manager for breakfast, Brian had the rest of the day to explore. Still feeling a little tense from his early morning ruminations, he decided to partake of the massage services available. Fifteen minutes into the massage and he could barely remember his name. When the masseuse tapped him on the thigh to get him to turn over, he moaned and did so begrudgingly. At the end of his session, he was feeling no pain. With a smile on his face, he went in search of lunch. Rather than going over to Christiansted, he remained at the resort and went to eat out in the open-air dining room. While waiting for his salad, he glanced around at his fellow diners and spotted Justin and Art sitting not too far away. As if he knew he was being observed, Justin turned and smiled and waved. Brian nodded, not being a waving kind of person unless he was being sarcastic, and Justin beckoned him over. About to dissent, he decided what the hell and carried his glass over with him. Took a seat to Justin’s right. “Are you sure you don’t want to have a romantic lunch alone?” he asked, feeling very much the third wheel.

”No,” said Art, “we’re not one of those kissy kissy couples, are we?”

Justin agreed. “And we like meeting new and interesting people. Are you an interesting person, Brian?” he teased.

”I find myself endlessly fascinating,” he said to Justin’s amusement.

”So,” began Art, “Justin tells me you’re in advertising.”

”I’m the best.”

”And so modest,” said Justin with a twinkle in his eye.

”Modesty’s for losers,” Brian replied then fixed Justin with a look. “Are you modest?”

”As a church girl,” Justin answered and Brian laughed.

”You’ve obviously never met the girls that went to my church.”

”Maybe I have,” said Justin and he laughed as well.

Flagging the waiter over when the man came looking for him with his salad, Brian wondered about Justin’s relationship with Art. Whereas Justin was vivacious and witty, Art seemed, well, plain would probably be the kindest word to describe him.

”That all you’re eating?” Justin asked, looking at Brian’s salad as if it consisted of a carrot and a piece of lettuce when, in fact, it was a meal-sized portion. Before Brian could answer, another waiter brought Justin and Art’s lunches over.

Raising a brow at the massive burger and plethora of fries that took up every available bit of space on Justin’s plate, Brian said, “Not all of us can have the metabolism of a gerbil on crystal meth,” as Justin was rather slender despite the amount of food he apparently consumed on a regular basis.

”That’s nothing,” Art told him, “you should see him at dinner.”

”I’m a growing boy,” Justin said in his defense.

”What are you growing into?” asked Brian, lips curled in a grin.

And Justin snickered and began attacking his food.

They passed a pleasant lunch together and, afterwards, Art mentioned that he’d like to go play a round of golf. At Justin’s rolled eyes, he said, “I know, I know, you don’t want to go.”

”I hate golf.”

”I’m sure I can find someone to play with,” Art assured him. “So what are you going to do the rest of the afternoon?”

”Go for a swim, maybe. Do some sketching.” He turned to Brian. “What about you?”

”I’ve got some work to do and then I figured I’d play it by ear.” Meaning if something or someone caught his eye, he wouldn’t be averse to spending a little quality time up in his room. He hadn’t tricked since he’d gotten to the island three days ago and he couldn’t be certain that every night Colin would be available for phone sex. So far they were two for three. Besides, he was getting sick of playing alone.

”I was thinking about going snorkeling around Buck Island tomorrow.”

”Justin—“ began Art.

”Look, I’m not going to sit around watching you play golf or sleep. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to but I’m going.”

Folding his arms, Art said, “I just don’t enjoy snorkeling.”

”Well, you can sit on the beach and read if you want.”

”Maybe I’ll go horseback riding tomorrow while you’re snorkeling.”

”Whatever you like.” Turning from Art, Justin fixed his gaze on Brian. “You snorkel?”

”I have. In the Bahamas. Colin and I went one year.”

”Perfect.” He turned to Art. “See? I won’t be alone and you won’t have to worry.” To Brian, “You’ll come, won’t you?”

And Brian smirked. “Why not?”

Only, when he’d returned to his room, it was all he could do to take a deep breath and remind himself that not only did he have a partner, Justin had one as well. One who’d probably check him for fingerprints after his day of snorkeling with Brian. “Fuck!” Why’d the one guy on the island he’d shown any interest in have to be in a relationship? Not that he thought there was something sacred about being in a relationship; it’s just that it made things more difficult. It was easier to set up assignations if you didn’t have to worry about a jealous lover.

But worse than that, he actually liked Justin. The young blond had a good sense of humor; and he didn’t go along with whatever Art wanted like some dick-whipped houseboy, he had his own opinions and he thought for himself. And, of course, it was hard to miss that he was hot as hell. Brian could only imagine what it’d feel like sliding into that ass.

Falling back on his bed, he willed his hard-on to subside. There was no way he was going down to the pool sporting a woody like some kind of horny teenager.

Ten minutes later, he decided the hell with it and jerked off in the shower before changing into his swimsuit. Checking himself in the mirror, he thought, I’d do me, and slipped on his sunglasses. Towel around his neck, he made his way down to the pool from his suite, garnering a number of appreciative looks from guys trolling the walkways. Unfortunately for them, he only had eyes for one guy. Who was at that very moment floating by the side of the pool garnering appreciative looks of his own. Brian tossed his towel on a free chaise lounge and slipped into the water next to Justin.

”Hey!” exclaimed the blond. “You made it.”

”Didn’t have anything better to do.”

Catching him in a lie, Justin said, “I thought you had work.”

”It can wait. I was only going to jot down some preliminary ideas but I think I’ll wait until after we go snorkeling.”

Justin’s eyes lit up and he grinned like a schoolboy who’d just hotwired a Porsche. “Thanks for going with me. Art can be such a mother hen sometimes. Like he couldn’t get hit in the head with a golf ball or something.”

Brian laughed at the image. “Personally, I think golf is unnatural.”

”And boring.”

”And boring,” Brian agreed.

”Besides, you can play golf back home but you can’t go snorkeling off Coney Island.”

”Frisco either.”

Justin kicked his feet lazily. “What’s it like?”

”San Francisco?”


”Great views, which I never have time to see. Great food—“

”Which you never have time to eat?” suggested Justin.

”No, we do manage to eat out a lot. Neither one of us is that good of a cook. I’ve mastered boiling water for pasta and grilling steaks—rare.” Justin scrunched his nose. “Plus, I end up entertaining a lot of clients so I’ve been to all the best restaurants in the city.”

”Having salads,” teased Justin.

”Have to watch my figure. If I don’t, no one will.”

Justin shook his head. “I don’t believe that. You’re too thin. You could stand to gain some weight. And you’d still be beautiful,” he said before he realized that he’d said it. When he did realize what he’d said, his cheeks turned a warm rose color.

Brian cocked a brow but, beyond that, gave no other indication of his amusement.

Attempting to redirect attention away from his red cheeks, Justin said, "So do you still have family back in the Pitts?"

"My mom and sister are there but I haven't spoken to them in years. My sister's a cunt and my mom thinks I'm going to hell because I'm queer. Needless to say, we don't converse much. My best friends are still there and my son."

"You have a son?" Justin's face registered his surprise.

"It happens. Even to queers."

Justin chuckled. "How old?"

"Four." He thought about the last time he'd visited Gus, seeing his own eyes staring back at him from a face that was so like his own had been at that age, only happier. Would have been even happier still if he got to see Brian more than one or two times a year. But he had a good life with the Munchers and his daddy spoiled him when he did see him so it wasn't too bad.

"I bet he looks exactly like you."

"He's got his mother's nose but other than that, he's all me."

"I used to wonder what it'd be like to have a child."

Hearing the sadness in his voice, Brian said, "You still can. You're young. Unless you're sterile," he teased and Justin scrunched up his nose the way Brian had hoped he would.

"I am not sterile." His smile faded a little. "But Art isn't really interested in kids. He came from a pretty big family and he hated it."

Although a tiny voice in the back of his head told him to stay out of it, he couldn't. "What does that have to do with you?"

"We're partners," Justin explained as if Brian were not in a relationship and didn't understand. "We'd both have to agree."

"Ah, compromising," said Brian in a singsong voice.

Justin laughed as Brian had intended. "Why do I get the feeling that's not something you do very well?"

"Cause it's not." He smirked. "Luckily, I'm pretty irresistible so I get my way most of the time."

"Only most? Not all?"

“I’m going for a swim,” he announced, refusing to answer the question, and pushed off from the wall, slicing through the water with barely a ripple. After a moment, Justin followed grinning.

Hanging out by the pool for a couple of hours talking about the places they'd been, and art, and life in general, Brian and Justin parted late afternoon: Justin to wait for Art to return so that they could have a romantic dinner for two and Brian to sit in his room brooding. Not in the mood to dress for dinner, he decided to have room service bring something up and then, after it had arrived, he sat staring at the plate, appetite having fled. It was too early to call Colin and, even if he did, what would he say? I miss you? I wish you were here with me? I’m lonely? Brian Kinney didn’t say those kind of things. And if he did, Colin would only tell him to go out and have some fun, fuck some guy and get it out of his system. Only the guy he wanted was with someone else and it was fast becoming a problem, this little island resort obsession of his. And why in hell had he agreed to go snorkeling tomorrow? Because you want him, he said to himself. And he did. He wanted Justin Taylor.

Hours later, he'd failed to reach Colin and had jerked off thinking of a certain blond artist. To take his mind off Justin, he got dressed and headed for the resort's dance club. Maybe a few drinks and a few turns around the dance floor with a couple of hot guys would do the trick. Maybe a few tricks would do.

Having traded his dark, urban dance clothes for something lighter and suitable for the tropics, he entered the club and made his way to the bar. More than a few eyes followed his progress. Good so far. Ordered a Beam. Better. Another. Better and better.

A guy, gathering his courage, made his way over and gave Brian the eye. With a lift of his finely arched brow and a purse of his lips, Brian accepted the offer and they melded into the crowd. Brian hadn't been out dancing for weeks but he never had been much of a dancer, he was more of a presence. Usually his dance partners did all the work and he swayed a little to the music and it was more than enough. Seemed to work this time as well. The guy was showing off his best moves yet all eyes were on Brian. One pair in particular he recognized even though he only saw them in flashes as they appeared between the gyrating bodies around him. They moved closer. Closer.

Justin. In a pair of white jeans and a shimmering tee. Something cool-looking on a hot night. But he wasn't cool, no he was on fire. Cutting in on Brian's partner, Justin took his place and the heat got kicked up a notch. Brian scooched down and crossed his arms behind Justin's head while the young artist writhed in his grip, hips rotating, ass pumping as if they were alone rather than in a room full of men. A jean covered crotch ground itself into his and Brian yanked Justin to him. Closer. Closer. His cock was aching, pressing against the inside of his fly and he wanted to, needed to unbutton his pants and bare Justin's ass and fuck him—


A little dazed, they turned and broke apart from one another at the sound of Art's voice.

"Mind if I steal my partner away?"

One glance told Brian that Art had been turned on by their display. As had Justin. He'd felt the blond's cock pushing against his own. He imagined them rushing back to their room and fucking. Art thrusting inside Justin's— He stepped away from the young artist and Justin allowed his partner to take his hand and lead him off the dance floor. Watching them go, Brian waited a moment then, ignoring the invitations extended to him, he left the club.

So they went snorkeling the next morning and there were probably a hundred different instances when Brian wanted to take Justin aside and kiss him. But he didn’t. He kept his hands to himself and played the dutiful companion and had an enjoyable morning. And if he sometimes got a boner watching Justin swim ahead of him, he wasn’t the only one sprouting wood. He’d seen the front of Justin’s trunks tented more than once during their excursion. So they were attracted to one another, so what? Justin was there with his partner and that was that. Last night had amply proven that. Justin and Art had returned to their room to fuck and Brian had gone to his and had another solo session in the shower.

Snorkeling tour of the barrier reef over, they went back to the hotel and Justin suggested they have lunch out on the beach. Brian accepted. They were to meet down at the bar. Only somehow Justin ended up following Brian to his door and didn’t protest when Brian pulled him inside and pushed him back up against said door. In an instant their lips pressed together and Brian had his hands down the back of Justin’s trunks feeling his voluptuous ass and Justin’s nimble fingers were stroking Brian’s cock and the next thing they both knew they were stumbling towards the bed, briefs around their ankles.

Justin arched his back as Brian’s fingers eased inside him. His legs hung over Brian’s shoulders and he fisted the comforter hungry for the feel of Brian’s cock. It pushed inside him and they both groaned, moaning and grunting as they fucked…

Actually, that didn't happened. They went snorkeling, they returned to the hotel, Justin suggested that they have lunch out on the beach, they each went to their respective rooms, Brian got off in the shower—again, and they met at the covered dining area outside where they picked up the food Justin had ordered. Brian had confiscated a blanket from his room and they settled down and watched the ocean and one another surreptitiously as they devoured their meal. Finally, Brian tossed the remains of his sandwich onto his plate and pointed to the pad Justin had next to him. "What's that?"

"Sketch pad."

"Am I so boring you have to amuse yourself?"

With a bright smile, Justin shook his head. "I was hoping you'd pose for me."


"For a sketch?"

"What's in it for me?"


Brian pretended to give it serious thought. "Okay. Where do you want me?" he asked and he was certain Justin had picked up on the double entendre as evidenced by the appearance of a flush of color across his cheeks.

"There's fine," he told Brian. "Just sit still." Justin opened his pad and studied Brian. "You're too stiff."

You have no idea, Brian thought, glad that he'd worn a pair of loose cotton drawstring pants.

"You need to relax."

"I am relaxed."

"Okay," Justin said, "tell me something about yourself."

"Like what?"

"Something you've never told anyone else."

He didn't even have to search his memories, he had so few secrets that he'd kept from his friends. "My sophomore year in college, I slept with this professor I'd had freshman year."

Justin's bright blue eyes widened. "No way."

"We saw each other once or twice a week all of fall semester." A smile crept across his lips. "His name was Sam and he was the hottest guy I'd ever seen. Still haven't seen too many to top him since."

"What'd he look like?"

"Tall, light brown hair, green eyes."

"Sounds a lot like you," Justin pointed out, his pencil moving rapidly across the page.

"I guess. Except my eyes are really hazel, they only look green in certain kinds of light."

"I like your eyes," Justin said, blushing again.

"God, you're fair-skinned."

Justin ducked his head. "I know. I burn really easily."

"Maybe we should—"

"It's okay, I slathered on a bottle of sun block after I showered," he said and Brian shifted again imagining a naked Justin, wet from his shower, water glistening on his pale skin.

"There's so little sun in San Francisco, I have to go to the tanning salon," Brian confessed. "I love it here."

"I bet if you could you'd go naked all the time."

"Definitely," Brian grinned and Justin looked away from him and back down at his drawing.

"Tell me more about this professor."

"Not a lot to tell. We weren't in love or anything, we just enjoyed one another's company. And the sex was good. Fuck, the sex was amazing. He could make me cum almost just by whispering in my ear. Course, I was twenty, I was horny most of the time." Brian laughed and shook his head at the memories. "Still, he taught me a lot."

"Why'd you break up?"

He shrugged. "Like I said, we weren't in love, we were just fuck buddies, friends with benefits. He fell for this new adjunct in the spring and that was that. I remember laughing when he told me he had fallen in love with the guy the first time he'd met him." His lips curled in a small smile. "I couldn't imagine it." But I can now.

"And you never told any of your friends about him?"

"Nope. Not even my friend, Lindsay, and she and I were in college together. I don't know, it just seemed like... it was something private, just between him and me."

"And now me." Justin brushed back a lock of hair. "Why?"

Brian studied the blond's face: the plump lips, button nose, blue eyes that glistened in the light. He wanted to touch him so badly, wanted to ease him back onto their blanket and cover his pale skin with kisses. And he imagined Justin wouldn’t have protested. “How much longer are we going to do this?”

Justin closed his sketch pad. "I'm finished."

Fixing Justin with a hard look, he replied, “Don’t play with me.”

Looking away, Justin focused on a seabird perched over the waves snapping at something in the water. “I have a partner.”

”So do I.”

”Then there’s nothing to talk about.”

”Except that there’s something going on between us.”

”There’s nothing going on between us,” Justin said hotly.

”Fine.” Brian stood. “Return the blanket to the hotel when you're done. I’ll see you around.” But before he could take five steps, he heard Justin calling to him. Wanting to walk on, he couldn’t. So he paused and waited for Justin to catch up.


Turning, he asked, “What?”

”I…” Justin couldn’t meet his eyes. “I love Art,” he whispered.

”Then I hope you're happy together,” said Brian and he began to walk away again.


The word stopped him in his tracks.

”I feel something for you. I can’t explain it.”

”Why do you have to?”

”Because I can’t just fuck you and forget you!”

”Then don’t. Don’t forget me,” Brian told him, moving in to take him in his arms but Justin moved back out of reach.

”I’m committed to him.”

Brian studied Justin’s face, reading the conflict in his expression. He nodded once, gave a sad smile, and said softly, “Enjoy the rest of your vacation.” Without looking back, he returned to the resort and cloistered himself in his room for the rest of the afternoon. But he couldn’t stop thinking about the blond haired artist. About the way his smile brightened an already sun-filled day; his sharp mind and ready wit; his beauty. Never having had a taste for blonds, especially blond twinks, Brian had to admit to himself that he was falling for Justin. Hard. And to hear him say that he was committed to Art, that he loved him, hurt.

He’d laid down but found himself unable to remain on the bed. Standing, he went to the window and glared at the world. How could his life get so fucked up in only a handful of days? He had a partner waiting for him at home, in their home, a home they’d bought and decorated together, a home in which they managed to have a rather nice life.


When had he ever settled for nice? When had he ever settled? Never. He lived life to the fullest, always had. So why stop now?

If you do this, if you go after him, you could fuck up everything. Your life and Colin’s and Justin’s and Art’s, he told himself. But if I don’t… He rested his head against the window and closed his eyes. This could be my one chance to be happy, to really be happy, because if he was honest with himself, he knew that he wasn’t through no fault of his own or Colin’s. He just wasn’t. He was content and if he had to live the rest of his life like he had the past three years he could do it. Only problem was he’d always know he was missing out on something even if he wasn’t sure that he and Justin could have worked out. There’d always be this nagging feeling that he’d made a mistake by not going after the blond. But Justin had made it clear that he was committed to Art.

Turning from the window, Brian sat in an armchair and stared at the tabletop, not seeing it. The best thing to do would be to break it off with Colin, to return to San Francisco and move out of the loft, find his own place again, and—and what? Be alone? Start looking for another partner? Why give up what he had for the chance that maybe he might be able to find something better with someone else? And what if he didn’t? Then he would have given up being content, comfortable to be alone? Miserable? But if he went to Justin, maybe he could convince him to give them a chance, to take a chance on finding something better with him than with Art.

As he often did when he was upset, he began biting the edge of his thumb but his hands were shaking so badly, he ended up clasping them together in his lap. He checked the clock on the wall; it was too early to call Colin, he’d be at the office for another four or five hours and he couldn’t call him there without alarming him. And even if he did reach him at home, he couldn’t say what he really wanted to which was, ‘I’m just calling because I need to talk to you and convince myself not to make the biggest fuckin’ mistake of my life.’ Only, not going to Justin was beginning to seem like an even bigger mistake.

The phone ringing drew him out of his funk. He’d had dinner alone in the room, not wanting to risk running into Justin. “Yeah,” he said, knowing it was Colin.

”What’s wrong?” Colin asked.

”Nothing.” That would satisfy him. They were alike in that regard, didn’t push, didn’t have to vocalize everything they were feeling, didn’t have to know everything that was going on in the other’s life even though, theoretically, they shared their lives. Of course, this would be the one time that Colin deviated from the script.

”You just sounded a little down.”

Lying, he said, “I guess I miss you.”

”Miss my ass,” Colin said jokingly but it made Brian angry.

”Maybe I miss you and maybe it has nothing to do with your fuckin’ ass!” he yelled.

”Bri?” Sounding worried. “What’s wrong?” he asked again.

What could he say? Rubbing his face, he sighed. “I’m just tired. And tired of the sunshine.”

”Don’t worry, you’ll be back home in the gloom and doom soon enough.”

”Yeah.” Brian could see Colin’s forehead wrinkling as he tried to figure out which approach to take with his partner now that it had become obvious to him that something was very wrong. Knowing Colin, he’d go right for the jugular now that his previous tactic had failed to garner the truth.

”You pissed with me?”


”Then what is it? And don’t give me any bullshit about being sick of the sunshine.”

”I…” He couldn’t say it. But he didn’t have to.

”You meet someone down there?” Just the slightest catch in Colin's voice but it was enough to tell Brian that he was hurting him.

Saying nothing, unable to, he listened while his partnership fell apart.

”You fuck him?”


”But you want to.” Not a question but he answered anyway.

”It’s not about that.”

”Of course not. It’s about you breaking the rules. It’s about you fuckin’ with something good. Throwing us away. You really want do that for some piece of ass you haven’t even had yet?”

Time to come clean. “I feel things for him.”

”And you don’t feel anything for me?”

He could see Colin's clenched jaw in his mind. ”I didn’t say that.”

”I thought you loved me.”

He almost laughed. “Colin, we were never in love. It was easy for us to be together so we were.”

”But not anymore,” said Colin, his voice soft and pained. Then he added quietly, "I did love you, Bri. What do you think those fuckin' rings meant?"

Christ. ”Colin… I’m sorry.”


”I am. I never—“

”Don’t fuckin’ say that to me! Goddamnit. Fuck you, Brian.”

Brian heard a rattling, knew Colin was at the bar in the great room pouring a drink. Fuck, he wished he had one as well. Now that he’d fortified himself, Colin was ready for battle and whatever vulnerability Brian had heard in his voice was now gone.

”I want the loft.”

Understandable and he was too tired to negotiate. ”Fine.”

”I’ll buy out your half and you can do whatever the fuck you want. I’ll start the paperwork.”


”You can stay in the guestroom until you find someplace else.” Brian could hear the ice tinkling in the glass as Colin finished his drink. “Three years, Bri, three good years. Gone.”

”I know.” He had to fight to keep the panic out of his voice. His partner, his home… gone.

”There’s no going back after this,” he warned.

Trembling, Brian said, ”I didn’t expect there to be.”

A deep breath on the other end and then, “I’ll see you when you get back.” The connection was severed.

Brian held the phone in his hand until it began to complain. Placing it back in the cradle, he pillowed his head on his folded arms and let the tears begin. They were over. His throat was so tight, he could hardly breathe.

An early morning meeting meant he couldn’t hide out in his room avoiding Justin. He had to get up, dress, and walk down to the dining room as if nothing was wrong, as if he hadn’t thrown away something important. He could only hope that Justin and Art weren’t there. If he had been a religious man he would have prayed. But he wasn’t, so he didn’t. But he should have. The first face he saw as he entered the covered space was Justin’s. Hoping to avoid the blond, Brian was about to move through the dining area in search of his party when Justin raised his head and their eyes met. Brian looked away as Art laughed about something. He wanted to scream. This was too painful, he shouldn’t have to go through this, but it was his fault. He’d let it happen, let him and Colin fall apart and this was his punishment. To watch Justin be happy with someone else.

His meeting had gone well despite Justin’s presence in the dining room. He’d been able to concentrate on what the resort manager had to say in response to his initial ideas and it had been a very productive session. He’d assured the manager that his time at the resort hadn’t been wasted and was confident that he and his team would come up with a winning ad campaign.

And then he’d returned to his room and sat on the bed, listless and depressed. An hour later and he still hadn’t moved. He would be leaving the resort tomorrow, headed back to San Francisco and his shambles of a relationship, having to face Colin and Colin’s anger. If only he could put it off for a few more days, except he didn’t want to spend another day at the resort, watching Justin carry on with his life as if nothing had happened between them. Of course, nothing had happened between them, to them. Apparently, it had only happened to Brian since he was the one with the fucked-up life and Justin was still going merrily, happily along.

He wanted to break something, wanted to smash something, watch it shatter the way his life had. He had to get out of this room, had to go someplace where he could forget about everything. Only, everywhere he went, there he was. Still, being out in the fresh air might help. Throwing open the door, he came face-to-face with Justin.

”I’ve been standing out here for the past fifteen minutes, trying to decide what to do.” Brian started to close the door in his face but Justin stopped him. “Please, just… just talk to me.”

”Nice weather we’re having.”

”Don’t do this.”

”Do what? What have I done to you? You’re not the one without a fuckin’ home to go back to!”

Placing a hand on Brian’s arm, Justin said, “What?”

”We split up." He paused to keep his voice from breaking, started again. "I couldn’t lie to him. I couldn’t pretend that I didn’t feel something for you. So I told him and now it’s over. But you don’t have to worry about that. Just go back to your room, your lover, your life and leave me the hell alone,” he said, reaching out to push Justin from his suite.

”He’s gone.”

Brian stopped mid-push. “What?”

”He’s gone.”



Shaking his head, Brian said bitterly, “So when the cat’s away, the mice will play? No deal.”

”I thought we could figure out what to do.” Before Brian could throw him out again, Justin said, “I think that I’m falling in love with you," he confessed. “I don't… I’m scared, Brian.”

Brian pulled Justin inside the room and shut the door behind him, drew the younger man into his arms and held him. "What the fuck are we going to do?" Rubbed Justin's back with his thumb. "I feel like I'm losing my mind."

"Did you really break up with Colin?"

"Over and done with." So inadequate.

"Weren't you scared?"

"Terrified. But I was more afraid of living my life knowing that I'd missed out on my chance to be happy."

"Weren't you happy with Colin?"

"I was… content."

"What if I'd said no?"

"You haven't said yes yet." Gazed into Justin's eyes. "Are you saying yes?"

Justin hesitated. "Brian…"

"Of course not. Because you're not an idiot, risking your entire fuckin' future on a stranger," he spat, moving away from Justin but Justin caught hold of his hand and stopped him.

"I'm not saying no." Brian nodded and let Justin lead him to the couch where they sat, thighs touching. "How do we know this isn't just some kind of vacation thing? You have your life and I have mine. How do we give up everything on the off chance that we might be happy together?"

"I already have." Turning his head, he blinked back a tear. He'd made a mistake and now he'd pay for it. Whatever Justin felt for him wasn't strong enough to last beyond this place. So he'd leave tomorrow and not look back and not regret what he'd done. He was strong enough for that.

"What if we give it six months?"

Justin's words surprised him and for a moment he was speechless, then, "What did you say?"

"Six months. We go back to our lives and in six months we meet up and if we still feel the same way, we give it a shot."

"Six months?"

"I need to be sure, Brian."

At first he wanted to say fuck it and tell Justin where to stick his six months but the more he thought about it, the more he understood why Justin needed time. Hell, if he'd been thinking before he'd burned his bridges with Colin he would have done the same thing. Or maybe he wouldn't have. He knew what he and Colin had wasn't what he wanted. Who was he to blame Justin if he didn't feel the same way about Art? "All right," he said. "Six months. But I think you ought to know exactly what you're getting."


"You should meet my son. And the rest of my crazy-assed family." Of course, crazy didn’t begin to describe them.

"Go back to Pittsburgh?"

"Just for a day. You said you were from there; you can visit your family too. We'll do the meet and greet. Unless," he added, aware of how it might look to Justin's family, "you think it'd be better if I didn't. I know your circumstances are different from mine. I don't want to push, Justin."

Looking down at his lap, Justin said in a hushed voice, "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." He slipped his hand into Justin's. "You'll come and see Gus though, won't you?"

The young man smiled as he raised his face. "I'd love to meet your son."

As he'd wanted to for days now, Brian brushed his lips across Justin's, felt an answering pressure and deepened the kiss. Then Justin pulled away. Disappointed, Brian, nevertheless, understood. “It’s okay. I shouldn’t have.”

”I wanted you to,” said Justin. “I want you...”

”But we should wait,” Brian said, supplying the rest of Justin’s thought. Giving a crooked smile, Justin nodded. “Six months, huh?”

”Six months.”

”You’re worth it.” Justin’s smile grew and he wrapped his arms around Brian and held him.

Having touched down in Pittsburgh, Brian and Justin collected their luggage and caught a cab to Lindsay’s house. He’d called her from St. Croix to tell her he was dropping in to see Gus and was bringing a guest. She hadn’t quizzed him on the phone but he could tell she’d wanted to. He knew he’d have to answer a shitload of questions once he arrived with Justin in tow. And how could he explain? What exactly was Justin to him? They weren’t lovers yet they were more than friends. Less than friends with benefits.

A few minutes from the house he called and let them know he was close. As he’d expected, Gus came flying out of the front door as soon as they dismounted from the cab.


Even though he didn’t see Gus a lot, he did call him at least once a week and he emailed pictures of himself and got pictures back in return: of Gus at home, scans of his drawings. Hugging the toddler, Brian asked, “How’s my Sonnyboy?”

”I missed you, Daddy.”

”I missed you too.”

Gus looked around Brian’s head at Justin. “Who dat?”

”That’s my friend,” he settled on that, “Justin. Say hi.”

”Hi, Justin.”

”Hi, Gus.”

Brian smiled and put Gus down. “Better get this over with,” he murmured to Justin and they carried their bags into the house even though they’d planned to spend the night in a hotel. Separate rooms. Lindsay let him put down his suitcase before she hugged him, Mel hung back, only raising a brow when she saw Justin. Brian made introductions. “Lindsay, Mel, this is Justin; Justin, this is Lindsay and Mel, Gus’ mothers.”

Gus piped up, “Justin is Daddy’s friend.”

”Do tell,” said Melanie. “Where’s Colin?”

That was Mel all right, go right for the kill.

”He’s at home. Working. I told Lindsay that when I talked to her. Don’t you two exchange information on a daily basis?”

”Brian and I met in St. Croix,” said Justin. “I was there with my partner.”

At that, even Lindsay looked a bit surprised. “Bri?”

”It’s complicated.” Just then Gus saved him from having to fumble through an explanation by tugging on his arm.

”Daddy, you bring me a present?”

Sweeping the little boy up in his arms, Brian said, “Lots of presents.”

”You’re spoiling him.” That was Lindsay’s complaint every time Brian showed up to see Gus.

”You’re a good boy, aren’t you, Gus? You deserve to be spoiled a little, right?”

”Right,” echoed his miniature look-alike.

Grabbing his carry-on bag, Brian ferried it and Gus to the sofa and gave Gus the presents he’d brought him in St. Croix. Leaving Justin to the mercy of the Munchers.

As she always did in awkward situations, Lindsay fell back on her early training as a future lady of the manor. “Can I get you anything, Justin? Coffee, tea?”

”No. Thank you,” he replied. Then added, “I suppose you’re curious. About me and Brian.”

”Just a tad,” Mel said dryly.

”We met—“

”In St. Croix, we got that much.”

Lindsay frowned. “Mel.”

”Stop interrogating him,” Brian told them, Gus having scampered off to take his presents upstairs.

”Then maybe you’d like to tell us what’s going on?” asked Lindsay.

Brian gestured to the space beside him; Justin came and sat. The two women made themselves comfortable as well. “There’s not much to tell. We met and we felt a connection—“

Mel interrupted, saying, “You sure that wasn’t just your cock?” Lindsay gave her a look and she shrugged.

”We haven’t fucked,” Brian clarified for them. “Like I said, we’re friends.”

”And…?” prompted Lindsay.

”And we don’t know what else.” He hesitated before saying, “I should probably tell you that Colin and I are splitting up.”

”Over this?”

”I told him about Justin and… “ He looked off at the stairwell. “There’s no point in pretending.”

”What about you?” Mel asked Justin. “You said you were in St. Croix with your partner.”


”We’ve got some things to work out, which are none of your business,” Brian said, brows drawn together. The conversation was over. He’d revealed as much as he was going to to the women and it was time to drop the subject. Besides, he knew once Debbie found out about him and Colin and Justin he’d have to explain himself to her and he wanted to save his strength for that ordeal.

Knowing he’d come to the end of his patience, Lindsay said, “Fine. But you were going to take Gus for a week this summer.”

”I still am. Just because Colin and I split up, doesn’t mean I’m turning my back on Gus.”

”You turned your back on your partner, on a man you supposedly loved—“ began Mel.

”You don’t know shit about me and Colin!” Brian bellowed.

”I know that for the first time in your life it looked as if you were finally settling down and growing up,” she retorted.

”I don’t need Colin for that.”

”No, you’ve got your boy toy.” She inclined her head in Justin’s direction. “Sorry.”

”I’m not a boy,” said Justin, “and I’m nobody’s toy. If Brian and I decide to make a life together, that’s just what we’ll do. And Gus would be a part of that life,” he added, just to clear up any confusion on that point.

Just then Gus came back downstairs cutting the terse conversation short. Brian took the opening and announced that he and Justin had to leave. Which didn’t sit well with Gus. It took another fifteen minutes to calm him down and assure him that he’d see his daddy again before he left the next day. Right now Brian and Justin had to get out of there before Brian said something he’d regret.

”Why don’t we take him with us?” Justin suggested. “We could bring him back after dinner.” He looked at Lindsay. “If that’s okay?”

”Yea!” yelled Gus. “I go with Daddy.” He was already to the door and trying to pull his jacket down off the coat tree. None of the other adults wanted to deal with a crying, cranky four-year-old so they agreed.

The cab took them to the hotel where Brian and Justin would be spending the night and the two men checked into their respective rooms. As Brian set down his bags, Gus asked, “Where Colin, Daddy?” He was used to the other man coming to visit with his daddy.

”He’s back home. In San Francisco.”


Brian pulled Gus over to him and stood him between his legs as he sat on the couch. Gus looked so much like himself at that age, it was as if he were in some kind of Twilight Zone episode, talking to his younger self. “You miss him?”

”I like Colin.”

”Yeah,” said Brian, stroking his son’s arm absentmindedly. Had he done the right thing, breaking things off with Colin? He’d been good with Gus, showing more patience with the little boy than Brian had sometimes. Could he expect Justin to do the same, to be a father, albeit a long-distanced one, to his son? Even though Justin had said he wanted children, wanting and having were often two different things. Still, Justin had talked with Gus on the cab ride over and made him giggle and Gus had been at ease with him even though Justin was a virtual stranger.

Then, as if he’d come to the conclusion after a lot of thought, Gus said, “I like Justin, Daddy.”

And Brian smiled. “I like Justin too.” Maybe things would work out after all. That is if Justin chose him after their six-month separation. Before he could delve too deeply into those thoughts, there came a knock at the door. Justin. “Ready to go see Deb?” Brian asked him but it was Gus and not Justin who answered.

”Debbie! Come on, Daddy. Go see Debbie.”

”He loves her,” Brian explained unnecessarily.

”I can tell,” Justin replied with a smile.

The fuss Gus made was nothing compared to the noise Deb made when Brian walked into her house with Gus and Justin. She hadn’t seen Brian in almost a year and she never felt as if she saw Gus enough. “Hey, Gorgeous Gus,” she said, hugging him tightly and placing a bright red kiss on his forehead, which he wiped off being used to it. “And you,” she said to Brian, pointing an equally red fingernail at him, “come here.” So Brian submitted to being hugged almost to death and kissed on the cheek. He too wiped off the lipstick print although he was glad to see her. “And who’s this?” she asked, checking Justin out.

”Justin,” Gus told her. “Daddy’s friend.”

Raising her brow, she said, “Really? You want to explain this or do I have to drag it out of you?”

”Got any coffee?” asked Brian.

”Sit down,” she told them and added, “and I want to hear the whole story, no leaving shit out.”

Gus giggled. “Debbie said—“

”I know what she said, young man, and don’t you repeat it,” Brian ordered.

Not interested in coffee, Gus took his truck which he’d brought with him and played on the floor.

Seeing the slightly panicked look on Justin’s face, Brian assured him that it would be okay. “She barks but she doesn’t bite. Much.”

”You tell Michael you were coming?” she asked from the kitchen.

”It was unplanned.”

Coming back into the living room, she studied his face making him feel all of seventeen again: awkward and confused about everything. “What’s going on, kiddo?”

There was no point in pussyfooting around with Deb, she knew him too well. ”I broke up with Colin.”

”Justin got anything to do with that?”

”Maybe,” he replied; then, “No. I mean, Justin and I aren’t together.”

”Could have fooled me.”

”It’s complicated.”

”I can tell you love him.” Brian looked surprised. “The moment you walked in the door with him, I knew. And he loves you too. So what happened?”

”I was in St. Croix on business. Justin was there with his partner. I didn’t mean…” It sounded so stupid, ‘I didn’t mean to fall in love,’ but he hadn’t.

”Love happens, honey. Can’t stop it.”

”But we’re not together,” he said softly.

”And what does that mean? That you haven’t fucked? Is that all?”

”We’re giving ourselves some space,” Justin explained. “Six months. And after that, if we still feel the same way, then we’ll have to make some decisions.”

”It’s just time,” she told them. “You’ll be together, you’ll see.” When Justin smiled at her assessment, she said, “So, Sunshine, what do you do?”

His smile widened. “I’m an artist. I live in New York. But I’m from Pittsburgh.”

”No shit!”

Another giggle from Gus.

”Your family still live here?”

”Yeah, but I haven’t spoken to them for years.” At Brian’s questioning glance, he explained, “They pretty much washed their hands of me when I came out. Couldn’t wait for me to leave home. They paid for school but I was on my own. When I graduated from IFA, I headed for New York.” Paused. “That’s where I met Art, Arthur,” he explained. Both he and Brian avoided looking at one another.

”Honey, listen to me. I know you must love this man, Art, so I won’t tell you to forget about him. But you have to do what makes you happy. Brian will survive. I’ve known him most of his life and he’s a survivor. Doesn’t mean it won’t hurt him if you decide to stay with your partner but it won’t kill him.”

Brian hoped that it wouldn’t because he didn’t feel at all confident that Justin would choose him at the end of the six month period.

Debbie insisted they stay for dinner, she wouldn’t hear of them leaving and eating at some restaurant. At Brian’s request, she didn’t call Michael and tell him Brian was in town. Michael would be angry and hurt but Brian didn’t think he could handle dealing with anything, anyone more. Michael had never understood why Brian had left the Pitts and moved all the way across the country and he wouldn’t understand Brian throwing away his life with Colin for something that wasn’t a surety.

At some point in the afternoon, while Justin was keeping Debbie and Gus entertained by drawing their portraits, Brian went upstairs to Michael’s old bedroom to be alone. He could remember all the times he’d come to the house, fleeing his own family, and holed up in this room, Michael assuring him that one day he’d escape his father and mother and Claire and he had. He’d done everything he’d set out to do and accomplished a few things he’d never thought about: become a success, a father, a partner. Now he didn’t have a partner anymore. Deb was right, he’d survive life without Colin and life without Justin but maybe it wouldn’t be the kind of life he’d grown to want. Maybe he’d become bitter and angry just like his old man. Christ, he’d never wanted to be anything like Jack Kinney.

The door opened behind him and he half-turned to see Deb enter the room and shut the door. “What’s up, kiddo?”

“I really hurt Colin.” Grimaced. “He said that he’d loved me.” Shook his head. “And I couldn’t say the same, Deb. What the fuck was I doing for three years?”

”You cared for Colin. I could see that. We all could. Maybe it wasn’t love but it was enough for him.”

”We were on our way to becoming Joanie and Jack. Staying together just because.”

”No,” she said firmly, “you’re nothing like Jack Kinney. You might not have loved Colin but you were a long way away from being Jack.”

”I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. Six months from now, Justin is gonna tell me that he’s staying with Art and then what? It won’t kill me,” he told her, agreeing with her assessment, “but I sure as hell won’t be happy.”

”You tell him that?”

Negative. “I can’t. I won’t put pressure on him. He has to make up his own mind. Do what’s right for him.”

She rubbed his arm. “Christ, kiddo, you don’t make it easy for yourself, do you?” Smiled.

”I keep thinking maybe I should go home and tell Colin I've changed my mind, it was the sun, the beach, bad E, something, anything. But I can’t. I’ve hurt him enough.” Then, “And it’s not what I want.”

After taking Gus back to the Munchers and calming him down, Brian and Justin returned to their hotel. Tomorrow they would part at the airport: Justin flying to New York City and Brian heading back to San Francisco. Standing outside Brian’s door, they fell silent, unable to find the right words to say. Finally, Brian said, “I’d invite you in but I don’t think I’d be able to let you leave.”

Justin’s hand alighted on Brian’s chest. “I wouldn’t want you to.”

Clasping Justin’s hand in his, Brian raised it and kissed Justin’s fingers. “You should go.”

”I should.” But he made no attempt to go. Instead, he slipped his free arm around Brian’s waist, moving in closer.

His body responding to Justin’s, to the feel of his hand in the small of his back, to the smell of his cologne, to the sight of his blue eyes staring up at him, Brian almost opened the door and pulled Justin inside his room but he resisted the urge and, instead, gently pushed the younger man away from him. “I must be out of my fuckin’ mind turning you down.”

”Then don’t. I want you,” he whispered.

”You say that now but I know you. You’d regret it in the morning. So would I. And I don’t want anything coming between us, not even sex. Not even great, fuckin’ sex.” He groaned and shut his eyes.

Justin sighed. “Six months, huh?”

”That’s what you said.”

”Idiot,” he groused and Brian kissed him sweetly.

Justin got his sketch pad out of his bag and removed a sheet. "Here. I finally finished it."

Brian took it. "The sketch you started in St. Croix." It was him, sitting on the beach, smiling, eyes laughing in the bright sun. "It's beautiful."

"So are you," Justin told him, pecking him on the cheek.

”I’ll see you in the morning.”

Justin smiled. “Lock your door,” he said, “I sleepwalk,” before sauntering down the hallway to his own room.

”Fuck,” whispered Brian.

They'd gone to the airport separately after having made plans to meet in six months to the day. "Noon, at the top of the Empire State Building," Justin had said.

"So if you say no, I can throw myself off," Brian had joked.

"Can't. They fenced it in."

Now, sitting in first class awaiting his decent into San Francisco International, he didn't feel much like joking. Colin would be waiting at home. And then they'd begin the dissolution of their acquaintance.

Ordinarily he would have been annoyed by the time he'd retrieved his baggage and gotten a cab to the loft but today he wished the process could have taken longer. All too quickly he had settled into the back of a taxi and begun the trip home. Which wouldn't be his home much longer.

He paid the driver and grabbed his bags, walked up the front steps and into the building's atrium. Paused by the door to the loft. Got out his key and turned it in the lock. Opening the door, he checked the alarm. It wasn't engaged. Which meant Colin was home. Probably in the study. They'd converted one of the downstairs bedrooms into an office which they'd shared although most of the time Brian had preferred to spread out on the coffee table and sit on the floor. Said he thought better that way. He'd have to pass the study on the way to the guestroom.

As soon as he began down the hallway, Colin poked out his head. "I thought I heard the door."

"Yeah." Brian caught his bottom lip between his teeth. Colin used to say that he looked like a truant schoolboy caught playing hooky when he did that.

Nodding, Colin turned as if to go back to work.

"That's all?" Brian asked, although he had no idea why.

"What do you want me to say, Brian? Welcome home? How was your trip? Do anything interesting?"

"Fuck it," he muttered and walked towards the guestroom.

"No, fuck you," Colin said, following him. Brian turned and they stood glaring at one another. "You want to walk away from me, fine, you walk away. But I'm not going to pretend that we're parting amicably. We won't be friends. And I'm not going to try to understand you because I don't… understand, Brian." Colin's voice softened as did his eyes. "Why?"

"I don't want to hurt you."

"Too fucking late. So just tell me, tell me why you're leaving me."

"Because I think I'm in love with him."

Colin laughed bitterly. "After what? A few days in the Caribbean?" He grasped Brian's forearm. "We've been together for years. Years, Brian."

"And I've never felt for you what I feel for him."

Hand falling free, Colin sniffled. "I asked, didn't I? And you're nothing if not honest." Smiled sadly. "It's one of the things I loved about you." Of its own accord, his hand reached for Brian's face, then drew back, hovering in midair for a moment before cupping Brian's cheek. "Don't do this."

"Colin—" Suddenly his chest felt tight.

"You want me to beg? All right. I'll beg. Please…" Brian pulled away. "Please, don't leave me." He caught Brian's face between his hands and kissed him and Brian didn't fight him. Some things hadn't changed. "Stay."

Shaking his head, Brian said, "I can't." He said again in a stronger voice, "I can't, Colin."

Looking away, "You going to him?"

Still shaking his head. "No."

"Then what?" Colin huffed. "I don't understand."

"We're waiting."

"For what?"

"To be sure."

In disbelief, he asked, "So you're throwing us away for a maybe?" He backed away from Brian, gripped the side of the doorframe for support. "Did…" he began, then started once more, "did you ever…?"

Facing Colin, his eyes shiny, Brian said, "I did." Despite what he'd told Colin over the phone in St. Croix, he had loved him. Once.

It seemed to be enough. Saying nothing more, Colin returned to the study and shut the door quietly. Freed by his absence, Brian rushed to the guestroom and dropped his bags, sat on the bed and covered his face. Tears crept between his fingers and his shoulders shook.

He'd spent the past couple of hours clearing his clothes from the closet upstairs in the master suite. He didn't know how long he'd be in the loft and he didn't want to have to go up to the room he'd shared with Colin more than he absolutely had to. His toiletries he put in the downstairs bathroom, clearing the master bathroom as well of his presence. More than once he'd had to stop and take a couple of deep breaths before continuing.

It was approaching dinnertime and Colin still hadn't emerged from the study. Probably hadn't wanted to watch Brian move out of their suite not that he hadn't heard him walking back and forth.

Brian stood outside the door of the study wanting to go in and say something to Colin to make it all right between them but he knew there was nothing. At least nothing he was willing to say. He'd thought they could coexist peacefully until he found a place but he wasn't so sure anymore. Maybe it would make more sense for him to find a hotel room for a few days. But, damn it, the loft was big enough for two people; they'd lived together for three years, they ought to be able to share it for a little while longer.

Leaving the study, Brian went to the kitchen to see if there was anything in the fridge. He hadn't eaten all day and he was starving. But the refrigerator was pretty bare, as usual. It'd have to be takeout. Again he found himself at the door of the study. It didn't make any sense to order food for himself and not get anything for Colin. Only he suspected Colin would rather spit in his face than share a meal with him. Angry at the situation, at himself, he grabbed his jacket and stormed from the loft.

Leaving his car in the garage, he walked instead. Maybe it'd do him some good, clear his head.

He ate at this sushi place he liked, occupying a tiny table in the corner. Remembered the first time he and Colin had come here, after they'd moved to the loft. The first weekend they'd been in the loft, actually. Exhausted from moving, they'd gone walking in the neighborhood hoping to find something close and had stumbled upon the restaurant nestled among taller buildings. They'd become regulars.

He felt strange sitting alone, no Colin across from him regaling him with some bloody tale of a hostile takeover. No Justin talking about a show he'd seen at the Met or the Guggenheim. Suddenly Brian felt as if he wanted to flee. What was he doing? In six months, he might lose everything: Justin as well as Colin. Pinching the corners of his eyes, he swallowed and tried to calm down. He had to have faith in Justin, faith in what they felt for one another. Justin would choose him and then they'd make a life together. They would.

Returning home, he immediately knew that Colin was gone. Having lived together for so long, he could tell when Colin was around. Brian wandered around the apartment, looking at art pieces that they'd bought together; at pictures they'd taken with friends, on vacation; at CDs they'd picked up while out shopping; furniture they'd purchased jointly. So much of his life was entwined with Colin's. How would he ever extricate 'me' from 'us'?

To drown the sounds of his thoughts, he put in a DVD and pretended to watch whatever it was he'd chosen.

An hour later he was lightly dozing but he wasn't under so deeply that he didn't hear the front door when it opened. Cracking his eyes, he watched Colin walk into the great room and pause. Stare at him. He opened his eyes all the way. "Hey."


Brian shut off the DVD player, then sat holding the remote for a moment before putting it down and rising to go to the guestroom. But Colin reached for him as he passed.


Before he could respond, Colin began kissing him, touching him in all the spots he knew Brian liked to be touched. Before Brian knew what was happening, they were stumbling towards the stairs, shedding clothes as they climbed to the master bedroom. Mouth brushing over the side of Colin's neck, he came to himself and tried to pull away.

"No," Colin objected. "Please, Brian. Please." And his arms tightened around Brian's waist and drew him down upon him and Brian no longer fought what his body so obviously wanted.

Afterwards, as Colin slept, Brian collected his clothes, and packed a bag, and left the apartment.

He wasn't surprised when his assistant buzzed him to tell him Colin wanted to see him. He'd been dreading it all day. "Yeah," he said, releasing the intercom button.

Colin didn't waste time with pleasantries. They were past that. "Where did you go?"

"Hotel. I thought it was best."

"To keep you from accidentally sleeping with your partner again?"

"It was a mistake."

"The past three fuckin' years of my life have apparently been a mistake!"

"Colin." They were in his office and not the loft, there were proprieties to observe.

"What? You don't want anyone else to know how you fucked me over?"

"I've told you that I'm sorry."

"Fuck sorry. What do you always say? Sorry's bullshit." They stared at one another, tempers simmering, almost to the boiling point. Then Colin backed off a little. "You coming h—back to the loft?"


"What if someone calls for you?"

"Have them call my cell." There was no way he was telling Colin which hotel he was at. If he really wanted to know, he could cold call. Brian wasn't giving up that information. He hadn't even told his assistant.

"What do you want me to tell people?"

"Whatever you want."

Colin smiled tightly. "It felt so good. And for a moment, I could pretend… And then I woke up and you were gone." He thumbed away a tear. "I'll let you know when the paperwork's done for the loft." Brian nodded. "I… I heard you crying. In the guestroom when you first got back. So I know this isn't easy for you. And I'm glad. I'm glad that it hurts." Before he could lose it, he left, closing the door firmly behind him.

Now that he was gone, Brian slumped in his chair, so tired. So fucking tired.

Over the next few months, he struggled with starting his life over: finding a place to live—even if he hoped it would be temporarily, letting all of his friends know that he and Colin had split and putting up with their well-meaning but aggravating interference. He didn't—couldn't— explain fully what had happened and, apparently, Colin hadn't either because people continually quizzed him in disbelief. He and Colin had been the perfect couple. At least on the outside.

Most awkwardly, they had social obligations which they had to honor, which meant putting aside their personal feelings and behaving friendly towards one another. Leaving the symphony fund-raiser, parting at the curb to take separate cabs, there was a moment when Brian wanted to take Colin's hand and go back to the loft but he fought the feeling and went back to his apartment alone.

He tricked but not enthusiastically and not often. The men were never the person he wanted and he couldn't have Justin, not yet. Not yet. Just a few more months.

When he missed Justin the most, he got out the framed sketch Justin had done of him and looked at it until the pain in his chest subsided.

Gus came out for a week in the summer and was confused when Colin wasn't with his Daddy, confused when Justin wasn't either. Luckily he'd only been to the loft once so he didn’t miss it when Brian took him to his new place, just a rental, but enough for the short-term. They did all the touristy shit around San Francisco and Brian even drove over to Muir Woods so Gus could marvel at the giant redwoods. When the week was up, neither of them wanted to be parted.

After Brian returned from Pittsburgh, where he he'd been interrogated by Mikey in person, he began counting down the weeks until he was to meet Justin in New York.

He arrived at eleven forty-five and bought a ticket, took the elevator up to the observation deck on the eighty-sixth floor. It was almost twelve. Since he was there, he went outside to take a look at the view. Spectacular as always. He'd come there once before years ago, before he'd moved to San Francisco. In New York on business and had decided to take a day off to see the city.


Checking his watch, he caught his breath and turned, hoping to see Justin coming through the doors.

No Justin.

It was still early yet. No need to panic.

Twelve fifteen.

Still patient, still calm.

Twelve thirty.

Maybe traffic had been heavy.

One o’clock.

He’d been out on the observation deck for an hour, had seen New York City from every side.

Justin wasn’t coming. But he couldn’t leave yet, not yet, not without giving Justin a little more time. He felt stupid, hanging out on the observation deck and the attendants probably thought he was a terrorist or something but he couldn’t go back down and walk away. Not yet.

Two o’clock.

Getting in the elevator with a group of teenagers, he rode back down with his eyes closed. Once he left the building, he flagged down a taxi and returned to his hotel room.

Justin had chosen to stay with Art. So the only thing left to do was to check out of the hotel and fly back to Frisco. Except he couldn’t leave things like this. He, at least, needed to hear Justin’s voice, hear him tell him that it couldn’t be. He’d tracked down Art’s home number before coming to New York and now he dialed it and hoped Justin would answer the phone. Brian didn’t know how much Justin might have told Art about him.


Art. “Hi. Art, this is Brian Kinney. We met—“

”He’s not here.” Sharp.

So he knew. “Do you know how I could reach him?”


”Look, Art—“

”I don’t know where he is, Brian. I haven’t seen Justin in months.”

”What?” That didn’t make any sense, what the hell had happened? “What’s going on?”

”You haven’t heard from him?”

”If I had, would I be on the phone begging you for information?”

”Justin was bashed, not long after he got back from St. Croix.”

Brian’s heartbeat sped up. “What?”

”Some guy, some random guy, guess he didn’t like the way Justin looked, I don’t know. He took a baseball bat to his head.”

He felt faint.

”Justin was in a coma for two weeks. Was in the hospital for four weeks after that. When he got out, he left me.”

”You let him leave?”

”I couldn’t stop him!”

”You…” His head was swimming. “You don’t have any idea where he might be?”

”Brian, I’ve looked everywhere, called everyone we knew that I could think of.”

”What about his parents?”

”He wouldn’t have gone there.”


”And I called them. On the off chance that maybe they’d heard from him. Nothing.”


”Look, I’m sorry. Justin… I think he really loved you. It was crazy cause you’d only met but I could see it in his eyes when he talked about you.”

”Then why didn’t he come?” But he wasn’t really looking for an answer from Art. Brian gave Art his cell phone number and his home number just in case he heard from Justin and then hung up the telephone. Justin was gone.

Curling up on the bed, Brian began to cry. He cried for the hurt Justin had suffered; cried for his own loss, so great that he could barely fathom it. “Justin,” he whispered. Where was he? Why hadn’t he called him?

The next morning he awoke, red-eyed, and showered, dressed, packed his bag, and checked out of the hotel. There was nothing more he could do. New York was a huge city and if Art hadn’t found Justin with all of his resources and intimate knowledge, he could do no better.

Only it was easier to tell himself he should go than it was to actually leave. More than once on the way to the airport he almost had the driver pull over. Spotting a blond head in a crowd made his heart ache. How could he leave without having seen Justin? Spoken to him? What the hell did he have to go back to? A job? An empty apartment? A few days worth of memories to last a lifetime?

The flight was uneventful and long and by the time he landed in San Francisco he was ready to come out of his skin. Some idiot in the row behind him was getting married in a few weeks and felt the need to share all of the gory details with the person next to him. Brian had wanted to toss him out of the hatch.

Locking the door behind him, he went into his bedroom and dumped his carryon bag on the floor. Dropped to the bed and opened the drawer of his nightstand. Took out Justin's sketch and clutched it to his chest; lay staring at the ceiling. Tears rolled down his cheeks and onto the duvet.

One of the senior partners stopped him in the hallway on Monday. “I thought you were taking off for a week?”

”Plans changed.” That didn’t even begin to cover what had happened but it was all the explanation he was giving anyone.

”You all right?”


”You know, I didn’t want to say anything but… you haven’t been yourself lately. Not since… well, not since you and Colin broke up.”

”How did you—“

”Office gossip.”

So his assistant had talked. ”I’m fine.”

”Maybe you should take that week off anyway. Get some rest.”

And do what? Stay at home staring at blank walls, walls as empty as his life: barren, sterile. “I need to keep busy,” he said.

”I understand.”

Weeks went by and he began to bury himself in his work the way he had done in the past, before he had realized there was more to life. Except that there wasn’t anything else, not anymore. He spoke to Gus once a week and pretended everything was okay and each time he hung up the phone, it took longer to suppress the urge to scream.

Then it happened.

He ran into Colin at an exhibition. He wouldn’t have gone except that the firm did PR for the museum and he had to show up as the campaign had been his baby. He hadn’t thought Colin would be there, had hoped he wouldn’t be. But since Fate had begun kicking his ass back in September, it only stood to reason that Colin would make an appearance.

Brian arrived a few minutes before the reception was due to begin, just in time to hear the museum director’s opening remarks and to applaud politely. Making his way to the bar he ordered a Beam and stood sipping it, hoping he’d be able to leave after a decent amount of time. Eyes on his drink, he felt rather than saw Colin approach. Even after all this time, there was still a connection between them.


”Didn’t know you were a fan of German Expressionism.”

”I remembered you working on the campaign when I got the invitation in the mail. I thought… I had hoped I’d run into you.”

”Why? Got some new curses you need to try out on me?”

”I thought maybe we could talk.”

”We’ve said all we need to.”

”I miss you.”

Brian shaded his eyes momentarily. “Don’t do this,” he said, just above a whisper. “Please, Colin, just go.”

”You still waiting for him?”

”No.” He found it hard to lie even if it would have been easier.

”What does that mean?”

”It means what it means. He has his life and I have mine.” He could feel Colin’s eyes boring into him through his lowered head.

”You still love him?”

He wished he could say no that he didn’t feel anything for Justin but he couldn’t, he couldn’t own that lie.

”You don’t have to say anything. I can see that you do.” Colin pushed off from the bar.

It had been three months since his trip to New York. Christmas was fast approaching and he’d promised Gus he would come to Pittsburgh to celebrate it with him, had even promised that he’d stay at the house with Gus and the Munchers. Lindsay was after him to do daddy duty again, jerk off in another cup so she and Mel could have a second child. He still didn’t know how he felt about it but he’d probably do it. Hell, he had nothing else good in his life except Gus. Might as well add to the fold.

Since his arrival, Gus hadn’t let him out of his sight. Tugging on his hand, the little boy had shown him what must have been every piece of artwork he’d made in kindergarten, his favorite toys, his favorite places to play in the backyard, and told him all about his friend, Scott.

”Boyfriend?” Brian had asked Lindsay, teasing her.

”You?” she’d asked in return but he hadn’t answered.

Now, seated at the dining table, Gus taking a nap upstairs, he said ruefully, ”I fucked up. And now I don’t have anything.”

”What happened?”

”We were supposed to meet in New York. He didn’t show. He could be dead,” he said, his voice cracking, and he let himself cry on her shoulder, let the fear he’d felt for all those months wash over him. He hadn’t allowed himself to think about Justin’s death in San Francisco because it would have been too easy to walk down to the pier and step off. Wiping his face, he explained. “He was bashed.”

”What? Brian, no…”

”And he just disappeared. Art doesn’t know where he is.” He sniffled. “Anything could have happened to him.”

”You have to think positively.”

”That he’s alive but he just didn’t love me?” He half-laughed, half-sobbed. “I’d take it. I’d fuckin’ take it, Lindsay. I just want to know that he’s all right.”

Now that he’d calmed down a little, Lindsay broached the topic of having another child. “I think it would be good for Gus, to have a little brother or sister.”

If she thought he’d need convincing, she was mistaken. “I’ll do it,” he said; then ignoring her shocked look, asked, “When?”

”When’s the last time you were tested?”

”Four months ago.”

”Maybe we can try while you’re here.” Then she realized how heartless that would seem after his confession about Justin. “Bri… I’m sorry. We can wait.”

”There’s no point. I have to get on with my life.” The phone rang, calling Lindsay away, and Brian sat sipping the coffee she’d poured him. It had begun to cool. In time, he knew that the pain he felt would lessen.

”Brian? It’s for you. It’s Deb,” she told him and he got up and took the call.

”Hey, Deb. No, I’m not that tired. Gus had me running around for the past two hours but—Okay, I’ll come over. No, I rented a car. Fine. Yeah, I said I’d come and I will. Give me twenty minutes. Jeesh.” Hanging up, he shook his head. “She's like a Pit Bull."

”She loves you, you know.”

”Yeah, I know.” Then, “I should probably head on over there, maybe I’ll get back before Gus wakes up.”

”I wish you lived closer. He really misses you when you’re gone.”

He shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe I’ll move back to the Pitts. Nothing keeping me in Cali anymore.”

Nothing had changed at Deb’s place. Christmas still was an occasion for her to clutter up the yard and house with every decoration she’d purchased over the years. For Deb, there was no such thing as too much. The inside of the house would be the same. It was enough to make you psychotic. He’d have to remember to cover Gus’ eyes when they came over on Christmas Eve for dinner.

Giving a brief knock, he pushed through the door, calling out to her as he entered the livingroom. “Hey, Deb!”

”Kiddo!” she cried, coming down the stairs and hugging him. “Look at you. You’re not eating. Sit down.” She pushed him into a kitchen chair and began rattling in the fridge.

”Lindsay made me eat a big lunch.”

”You need a snack then.”

”I’m not five, Deb.”

”I bet Gus weighs more than you.”

”He’s been eating at your house once a week, it’s no wonder.”

Pausing with a package of deli-sliced turkey in her hands, she glanced around the room, frowning.


”I forgot to put up the Mrs. Claus, the one with the apron on. I always hang it in the kitchen. It’s in the closet in Michael’s room. Be a sweetheart and go get it.”

”I gotta work for my sandwich?” he joked but he kissed her cheek and loped upstairs. Walked into Michael’s old room and halted in his steps. “Justin?”

There, seated on the bed, was the missing blond. His hair was shorter than it had been and Brian could see a scar on his forehead, slightly darker than the surrounding pale skin. Before he knew what he was doing, he had Justin up and in his arms and was holding him tightly.

For a long time all he could say was, "Justin, Justin." Then, once his heart had stopped racing, he asked, ”Where were you? I waited.”

”I’m sorry.”

”I thought you were dead. I talked to Art and…” He took a deep breath. “Oh God. Justin..”

The young man pulled away slightly. “I was so fucked up, Brian. I got out of the hospital and I was so angry. My right hand…”

”What’s wrong with it?” Brian asked, taking it gently between his own.

”I had to have physical therapy to build up the strength in it. The bashing… affected it. I couldn’t draw, I could barely button up my clothes.” His eyes darkened. “I couldn’t see anyone. Especially you.”

”I would have helped.”

”You couldn’t have. I didn’t want any help. I didn’t want anyone to pity me.”

”I wouldn’t have.”

”It wouldn’t have mattered. It’s what I would have seen. I was so angry, lashing out at everyone… I needed to do this alone.”

”You’re better?”

”The hand is still weak but I can draw again. Not for long periods of time but I’m getting stronger every day. I have these exercises…”

”Then why didn’t you call me? Come find me?”

”I was so ashamed of what I’d done. When I started thinking straight, I imagined you waiting for me and I hated what I’d done.” He cupped Brian’s face. “But I missed you so much. I was going crazy without you.”

As he’d wanted to do since the moment he saw Justin, Brian kissed him, lips barely touching at first and then harder as if he were trying to climb inside Justin’s body. Parting from him, he continued to hold him. “I never thought I’d see you again.” Laughed. “Especially not at Deb’s.”

”I wanted to call you but I was afraid, I didn’t know how to explain. And I remembered Deb saying she could tell how much we loved one another. I figured she’d know what to do.”

”And what did she say?”

With a grin, Justin replied, “She told me to grow some balls and stop fucking around.”

Brian laughed again. “That’s Deb all right.”

”She said I looked lost and that you were probably lost without me.”

Brian confessed. "I was.”

”When I woke up in the hospital, the first thing I thought was that if you had been with me, you would have saved me.” Soft smile. “Like you did in St. Croix.”

Brian buried his face in Justin’s neck and sniffled, tightened his grip. “I wish I had been.”

”I almost came, to the Empire State Building that day. But I thought, he doesn’t deserve this, having to put up with a cripple. So I got drunk and I slept all day until it was too late.” He gripped Brian’s arms. “But I chose you, Brian. Chickenshit that I was, I chose you.”

”I know,” and he kissed him again. “So what do we do now?”

”I go back with you to San Francisco. If you still want me,” Justin said, tentatively.

And Brian grinned. “How do you feel about the Pitts?”

”The Pitts?”

”Lindsay wants another kid and I want to be a real father, not a twice a year visitor. Besides, maybe if I’m around more, Gus won’t talk my ear off when I see him.”

Justin chuckled and nodded. “I’m an artist, I can work anywhere.”

”Then that’s a yes?”

”Fuckin’ try to get rid of me,” he bragged.

Deb looked up as Brian and Justin thundered down the stairs. “Where are you—“

”I’ve waited nine months for this!” yelled Brian and they were gone.

Rushing through the door, Brian shoved a fistful of money at Lindsay and said, “Go out to dinner. And a movie. My treat.”

"Justin?" Lindsay's hands flew to her mouth as she laughed in relief.

Smiling broadly, Justin waved and allowed himself to be dragged upstairs to the guest room.

In between kisses, they managed to undress one another, clothes tossed haphazardly around the bed. When they stood face-to-face without a shred of modesty between them, Brian cupped Justin’s shoulders and then his shoulder blades, hands sliding down the curve of his back, his buttocks. “I can’t believe you’re here,” he whispered, palms full of warm flesh. How long had he waited for this moment? "Are you real?"

Mouth hovering over Brian’s chest, he kissed his lightly tanned skin. “I’m real and I'm here and I'm never leaving you again.” He kissed his way down Brian’s lean torso, brushing his lips over nipples that stiffened beneath his touch, and along his midsection, tongue tracing the slope of his ribcage; then he knelt at his feet, looking up at him. Eyes fixed on Brian’s, Justin took hold of his lover’s cock and stroked it gently, then more firmly, fingers following ridges and veins; he kissed the tip, lips exploring the broad head, tongue playing in the slit eliciting a groan from above.


Having been denied for so long, Justin pleasured them both, humming and fairly purring around Brian’s cock as he sucked him, the sensation going right up Brian’s spine. Justin’s lips were making his head swim and the muscles in his belly kept tightening whenever Justin’s tongue found a particularly sensitive spot. His dick was throbbing and dripping copiously.

When he felt himself getting close to the edge, he pulled Justin up and eased him on the bed. Licked and kissed his way from Justin’s toes to his thighs, paying particular attention to the backs of his knees and the spot where thigh met trunk, the artist's pubes tickling his chin and neck. Pushing Justin’s legs up, Brian lapped his perineum until he began to shiver and moan. Ignoring his cock, Brian, instead, flicked his tongue over Justin’s hole.


Opening his mouth over the knot of flesh, Brian tongued, kissed, and sucked Justin until he quivered and cried out, legs weak and trembling in Brian’s grip. Finding his voice, he begged Brian to fuck him. “Please. Oh God, please.”

Brian licked a line from Justin’s ass to his cock. “Please what?” he asked, mouthing his scrotum.

”Fuck me.”


Justin gripped Brian’s shoulders. “Please.”

He kissed Justin’s belly, marveling at the smoothness, feeling the muscles flutter. “Uh-uh.”

”Brian,” he said, head lolling back and forth on his pillow and Brian crawled up him and kissed his lips.

”I won’t fuck you. But if you ask nicely, I might make love to you.”

Arching his back and rubbing his wet-tipped hard-on against Brian’s stomach, Justin whispered, “Love me.”

Brian reached for a condom and handed it to Justin. Reclined on his side as Justin unrolled the condom over his erection. Gave Justin the tube of lube as well.

”Thought you might get some action?” asked Justin, tongue peeking from between his lips.

”Never hurts to be prepared. Never know what might follow you home,” he teased. Justin squeezed the lubricant over Brian’s fingers and inhaled as one of those selfsame fingers pushed inside him. “You okay?”

”It’s been a while.”

Brian kissed him softly. “Then I’ll be gentle.”

Their lips refused to be parted as Brian plied Justin's hole with his fingers, relaxing him, preparing him. Licking Justin's lips before sucking the lower one between his own, Brian felt Justin's ass tighten around his fingers and then Justin's hips began to jut forward to take more of the fingers inside. He was ready.

One of Justin's legs over his shoulder and the other around his waist, Brian eased inside him, pausing when he heard Justin's breath hitch. When it returned to normal, he pushed forward, sliding into place. This was where he belonged.

"Yes," moaned Justin. "Yes." Drew Brian's head down for a kiss.

Brian withdrew to the tip, then thrust forward. Again. Paused.

Justin's mouth fell open and he exhaled. "Don't stop."

Brian had no intention of doing so.

Hips thrusting, muscles clenching, they worked against one another until they found a rhythm that felt natural to them. Justin's leg slipped from Brian's shoulder and he crossed his feet behind the man's back, urging him closer, toes curling as Brian rocked against him.

"Brian… Brian…" he muttered, lips parted, eyes closed.

"What?" whispered Brian.

"Fuck," Justin gasped, clutching Brian's shoulders as a spasm went through his body. His cock was trapped between their sweaty bodies: balls rubbing, cock dragging, pisshole gaping.

Propping himself up on one arm, still thrusting, Brian reached between them and caught Justin's dick in his hand, letting it slide through his fist until Justin groaned and reached down to push his hand away. But Brian fought him and wouldn't let go, kept stroking him until Justin gave a throaty cry and came. Releasing him, Brian shifted positions, supporting himself on both hands, and drove his cock inside Justin until a starburst of light exploded behind his eyelids and at the base of his spine. Continuing to pump against Justin, he dropped his head to Justin's shoulder. Felt his lover's hands on the back of his head and around his neck, stroking the nape. "I love you," he breathed against Justin's skin. "I love you…"

Moving his easel into place, Justin wrapped his arms around his waist and gazed out of the huge floor-to-ceiling windows that dominated the main living space of the loft. “I love this place.”

”I feel used,” Brian said, coming up behind him and embracing him.

”You should,” Justin told him, stroking Brian’s ring. “I only married you for these windows,” he said beginning to giggle as Brian tickled him. After Brian stopped, Justin turned in his arms and kissed him. “Have I told you how much I love you?”

”Better. After all, I’m the one who had to help you jerk off into those plastic fuckin’ cups for two weeks.”

”Thank you. I know it was a tough sell.”

Getting Lindsay to agree to having him as the father, he meant. ”Bullshit,” said Brian. “Lindsay has always wanted a little blond, blue-eyed kid but with my genes, all she was ever gonna get was a Brian Kinney clone, male or female, didn’t matter.”

Justin laughed. “God, Gus is so much like you. Same eyes, same hair, same lips—“

”Same bad temper.”

”Same good heart.”

”And he loves you almost as much as I do.” Brian suspected Gus loved Justin more than he loved his Daddy. Probably because Justin was closer to Gus in age and would get down on the floor and play with him. Brian snickered and Justin dug his elbow into his stomach. "Ouch."

”Whatever you were thinking, I’m sure you deserved it.”

”Maybe.” He nuzzled Justin’s neck and kissed his throat. “How about I help you jerk off?”

”We’re done with the cups.” Lindsay’s pregnancy test had come back positive and they were expecting their screaming, squalling, ‘ticking time clock’ as Brian called the baby, next February, a month before their anniversary.

”Who needs a cup?” Brian asked and Justin smiled broadly and pulled Brian towards their bedroom. Who indeed?



How about Brian and Justin meeting for the first time while on vacation at an upscale resort. Brian could be there on business and sees Justin at the beach, lounging by the pool or dancing at the resort night club. While there is instant chemistry between the two of them (like always)...there is only one itsy-bitsy problem...Justin is on the vacation with his very nice and committed boyfriend. Brian sensing a challenge manages to be wherever they are causing Justin to ponder his choices.


I'd love to see you tweak your magic on a B/J version of 'An Affair To Remember.' The two, both with other people, meet while on vacation somewhere.. reluctantly fall in love, and agree to meet a year from now.. ideal would be the Empire State Building like they used in the movie, but I'm sure you could also use a Pittsburgh landmark if your heart desires ;-) One of them goes there to wait for the other, only they never show up (obviously because something's happened.. like becoming paralyzed) and well, yada, yada.. I'm sure you know how the story goes. One of my favourite movies and I don't think I've ever read (?) a 'Queer as Folked' version of it.

Author’s Notes:

Not having actually seen An Affair to Remember and too lazy/cheap to rent it, at best, I can say this story was inspired by An Affair to Remember which works for me since I don’t really like retelling stories/movies plot point by plot point.

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