When morning came around, grey and cold, I found myself waking in a strange room and in a strange bed, but the warm body with which I found myself entwined certainly wasn’t strange to me. I knew in an instant whose sun-streaked hair it was that I found myself breathing into, whose firm, work-fit body it was that my arms were wrapped around. I was precisely where I wanted to be.
Surprisingly, we were both still fully clothed and I could feel my morning wood straining against the confines of my pants, while also rubbing against his buttocks. As gently as I could I slid my hand down his body, before finally resting it above his own erection and rubbing gently. He let out a low, soft moan as I did so, but said nothing. I suspected that he was still asleep and so I let him be, bringing my hand back up to his chest and hugging him close to me again.
I couldn’t remember us moving through to the bedroom at all last night. I remember us standing in his living room, hugging each other and whispering to each other like the two lost souls that we were. Somehow we found our way through to here and somehow we had fallen asleep, holding on to each other, almost as if we were afraid to let go, in fear of losing each other once more.
Through the fog inside my brain I could hear the breeze picking up outside the small cabin, blowing in off the ocean and whistling through the trees that were scattered about the caravan park. I heard a vehicle head out early, most likely a holiday fisherman heading off to do his thing some place. Judging by the sound of the tyres on the bitumen roadway I guessed it had also rained at some stage through the night. A couple of women walked past, chatting happily. I didn’t care about any of that though. All I cared about was where I was and who it was whom I was holding in my arms.
I felt Aaron stir in my arms and released my hold for a moment. He rolled over and finished up lying on his other side, this time facing me, still asleep and looking like an angel. His eyelids were fluttering, ever so slightly, yet without opening, while the corners of his mouth were slightly turned up.
When he had settled once more I let my arm rest across his body again, then I leaned forward and kissed his forehead. He let out another low moan, the suddenly his eyes popped open and he was staring at me with an expression I was finding difficult to read; something between confusion and surprise. That quickly passed, however, and he soon broke out into a smile.
‘Hey, mister,’ I quietly said.
‘You sleep well?’
‘I was having a dream. You were in it.’
‘Was it a good one? Was I good?’
‘Simply awesome,’ he replied. I couldn’t be sure, thanks to the pale morning light, but I could have almost sworn that he was blushing.
I let my hand, which had been gently rubbing his back, slide down his body until it rested on the point of his hip for a moment, then let it slip down over the front of his jeans, feeling his excitement by the firmness I found there.
‘Going on the feel of that, it must have been a good one,’ I said.
He didn’t say anything in response, but I did feel him flex his cock beneath my hand several times, which only served to heighten my desire for him.
I rubbed him several times through the fabric of his jeans, then decided it was time I made a move, so with one hand I unbuckled his belt, yanked open the stud on his jeans and pulled down the zipper, before sliding my hand deep inside his boxer shorts and wrapping it immediately around his shaft. He let out a slight gasp as I did so, but his eyes never left my face as I started slowly jacking him.
I figured that if he had been having a sexy dream and had woken up this hard, he would be well primed, so it wouldn’t be long before he would be ready to explode. After a few moments of studying me carefully he eventually closed his eyes and gave himself over to the feelings of pleasure that I knew he would now be experiencing, as I slid his foreskin back and forth over the engorged head of his penis. I knew he loved that and it wasn’t long before he started uttering his first soft moans.
‘Is that okay?’ I whispered.
He soon started humping into my hand, slowly at first before then starting to speed up his rhythm, going faster and faster. I could tell that he really wanted to get off and didn’t care how.
I leaned across until our faces were almost touching, then surprised him by placing my lips over his. His eyes snapped open for a second, then closed again as he let out a deep guttural groan that soon became swallowed up as my tongue entered his mouth.
I could feel his cock growing in my hand as I continued to work it back and forth. The moment was drawing closer. I could sense his body beginning to tense, then he gave a few short, sharp thrusts and started emptying his seed within his shorts, coating the silky fabric, my hand, and everything else in the confines of those shorts with rope after rope of his precious fluids.
When he was done I rolled slightly away from him and he opened his eyes, then smiled at me.
‘Thank you,’ he quietly said. ‘I’ve been needing that for a couple of days now.’
‘You’re welcome,’ I replied, as I then pulled my semen coated hand from his shorts and held it up between us.
We both giggled at the sight of it, before I sat up and looked around me. The thought of cleaning it up myself did actually cross my mind, but I soon dismissed that idea when I noticed a box of tissues sitting with the copy of Shifting Sands on the table beside his bed. I reached out and pulled several of them from the box, then wiped my hand down.
‘So, that’s how you spend your spare time, eh?’ I said, nodding towards the bedside table. ‘My book in one hand and tissues at the ready in the other!’
For the second time that morning he blushed, then quickly turned away and got up off the bed.
‘Shit, I need to get out of these shorts,’ he complained. ‘Urrgghh, what a mess.’
I got up and walked around to his side of the bed. ‘Let me help you,’ I said to him.
He looked up into my eyes. I wasn’t sure if what I saw there was embarrassment or not, but there was definitely something in his expression that concerned me.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked. ‘I didn’t mean to …’
‘No, it’s fine,’ he said, cutting me off. ‘It’s not you. It’s me. I’m just still getting used to all this again.’
‘All this what?’
‘You know … having someone around. Having someone have a bit of a friendly dig at me. I’ve been on my own for a while, but after everything that happened it’s just that …’
‘Shhhhh … you don’t need to explain anything to me.’
‘But I want to. I need to,’ he said.
Before he went any further he dropped his jeans and his boxers, then grabbed a dirty t-shirt from the floor and roughly wiped himself down with it, before dropping it back where he had retrieved it from.
‘My doctor …’ he said, as he sat back down on the edge of the bed, ‘she said there would be times when even the smallest things that could happen might set me off, or send me back into a deep …’
He stopped, unable to complete the sentence, although I suspected I knew what it was that he had intended to say.
‘Depression?’ I gently prompted, while I sat down beside him.
‘And by doctor, you mean, psychiatrist?’
He nodded again, but could only stare at the floor.
‘It’s nothing to be ashamed of,’ I said.
‘I … I used to think it was, you know. I used to think that because I went to see a shrink there must have been something seriously wrong with me. That I must have been some kind of basket case or something.’
‘You’re nothing like that.’
‘I know that … now. But when you are in the middle of having all that happen, the strangest things go through your mind.’
‘I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for you. The guys said they were watching out for you though, so no matter how bad it would have got, they would have been there for you.’
‘I know. And they were there for me, they really were. It was Jay who helped me the most though. He had been through it before, of course, but that was long before any of us had ever even come on the scene. He had Scott to help him back then, and it wasn’t until after that they became lovers. I had Jay, but then, after, there was still this emptiness. I craved someone to hold me at night while I tried to sleep … someone to dry away the tears … someone just to touch me. But there was no one, so no matter how much good Jay did me, it was never enough, it was never what I really needed.’
‘I’m … so sorry,’ I said, with tears starting to come to my own eyes. I hugged him to me.
‘You don’t need to be sorry. It has taken me a while, but I’ve slowly managed to get my head around the fact that there’s nothing wrong with me that hasn’t been wrong with someone else before. It’s something that can be treated … and … is being treated …’ he said, while looking up at me again, his eyes searching for some kind of reaction.
‘I don’t care if you are still being treated,’ I said firmly. ‘Whatever it takes to make you totally well again we’ll do. Together!’
At that he let out a huge sigh, as if he had been holding his breath, waiting for my reaction.
‘Oh god. I was so scared that once you …’ he began, but I cut him off by placing a finger over his lips.
‘Whatever it takes,’ I repeated, before hugging him once more.
When we parted he said, ‘Thank you. I’m glad I’ve told you.’
‘I’ve had this feeling that there was something you hadn’t shared with me yet, but I knew that you would talk to me when the time was right. Just promise me one thing …’
‘No more secrets. If there’s something you need to talk about, you’ll talk to me?’
‘Thank you. So, you said you were being treated. What sort of treatment? Do you have to take medication or anything?’
‘Yeah, just some tablets that I take if I feel like things are getting too much for me.’
‘No,’ he replied, while shaking his head.
We sat there for a few moments, holding each other, and with our foreheads resting together.
‘Tony,’ he said after a little while. ‘I hate to spoil the moment, but don’t you have to be somewhere today?’
‘Yeah, I do. But only if you’re going to be okay?’
‘I’m fine,’ he answered.
‘Okay then. So, what time is it?’
‘A bit after seven.’
‘I guess I had best make a move. I’ll have to go back to the guys place and shower and change.’
‘So … you want to borrow my new truck then?’ he said with a smirk.
‘Yeah, I meant to talk to you about that … there were a few … errr … conditions attached.’
‘I figured that there would be,’ he chuckled.
‘You can have it back once I get my car down here.’
‘And when will that be?’
‘That’s another thing I need to talk to you about.’
‘Look on the bright side! You’ll have a few more days to spend with Betsy!’
‘Good on ya! Now you’re really making me suffer. If I have to go find my meds …’
‘Please don’t joke about that sort of shit!’ I gently scolded him.
‘Sorry. I promise I won’t.’
Pulling him to me I kissed him on the lips. It was a firm kiss, with passion, and one which lasted.
‘I think I’ll be finished around lunch time, perhaps a little after one o’clock.’
‘Where will you be at?’
‘The library in Macquarie Harbour, then after that I’ll come straight back here. Do you have anything planned for this afternoon?’
‘Not too much today, but tomorrow I’ll be pretty busy.’
‘Okay, then. I’ll see you this afternoon. Oh, and don’t forget to put some pants on before you go outside!’ I said, as I placed a hand on his lap and gave his privates one last tug.
* * *
Leaving Aaron there, I quickly dashed back to Avalon, pulling up outside the guest house a few minutes later. It wasn’t yet seven-thirty, so I figured I still had plenty of time for a shower and change of clothes, before heading into Macquarie Harbour.
As I stepped from the truck I looked toward the house, where I found Matt and Luke leaning against the railing on the back deck, with coffee in hand.
‘Seems like someone got lucky last night, then!’ I heard Matt say.
I could only shake my head and smile at him. Sometimes I wondered if he would ever grow up, but truthfully, I hoped he never would.
‘What’s that mean? The shake of the head? You mean you missed out … and after buying that expensive present too?’ he teased.
‘It’s a bit more complicated than that,’ I said as I joined them on the deck. ‘Hell, we didn’t even get undressed. It’s not all about sex, you know.’
‘Yeah, mate. We know,’ Luke said. ‘Matt’s just having a dig, as always.’
‘Ya think?’ I replied, which received grins from both of them.
‘So, how is he?’ Luke prompted.
I thought for a few moments before I answered. ‘Just between us, and no one else please, did you guys know that he’s been suffering from depression? And that he’s on medication and has been seeing a shrink?’
The two of them looked at each other, their faces blank, before they both shook their heads.
‘We knew about all the issues and what happened when … well, you know … but we didn’t know it was anything more than that. Are you sure?’
‘Yeah. We had a talk about it this morning. I almost set him off again when I had a bit of a friendly jibe at him, but he seems to be able to control things pretty well now,’ I said. I leant back against the railing and rubbed my face with both hands. ‘I really had no idea things were that bad for him,’ I said. I heard my voice tremble slightly as I did so. Luke must have heard it too, because straight away he pulled me into a hug.
‘He’s going to be fine,’ he whispered into my ear. ‘You’re the best thing that has ever happened to him. You know that, don’t you?’
‘I’m also the cause of everything that has happened to him.’
‘NO!’ Luke reprimanded. ‘What happened, happened. It was a result of a number of things that were going on, almost all at once, so no one person is to blame. When are you going to get that through your thick skull?’
‘He’s right you know,’ Matt added, while joining in and gently rubbing my back.
‘Then why do I feel so bloody guilty?’
‘Because you love the guy,’ Matt said. ‘And we all feel exactly the same, so you’re not on your Pat Malone there, sunshine.’
‘He’s going to be fine,’ Luke urged, ‘so don’t go beating yourself up over it, okay? Look ahead, at what you guys are going to have. Don’t keep looking back at the bad stuff. If you want to look back, look at the good stuff, at how you met, at how you were before you broke up. There were lots of good times there. We know, because we were there with you.’
‘Maybe I … maybe I need a shrink too?’
‘No, you don’t need a shrink. But … perhaps it might be a good idea if the two of you went to see his psychiatrist together? Maybe you might be able to get a better handle on what has happened with Aaron, and maybe seeing the two of you together might give his doctor something useful to help the pair of you to move forward?’ Luke offered.
I looked at him and could see only love in his eyes. He’d always had a way of getting to the bottom of things and putting things into perspective for me. He might have only been a few years older than me, but he was more like a father to me than anyone who had ever been in my life before. He was the one person who had always been there for me, and for that I truly loved him.
‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘That’s probably the best idea you’ve ever come up with!’
‘See, and you just thought he was a pretty face!’ Matt teased.
‘No, he was always the smart one,’ I replied. ‘It was you who was always the pretty boy.’
‘Bitch!’ Matt replied. We all laughed, which seemed to help ease the tension that had been in the air.
‘Now, why don’t you go and have a shower and get a change of clothes?’ Luke suggested. ‘I’ll get some coffee and toast or something happening for you, so you can at least look like you’re awake when you head into town.’
‘That sounds good. Thanks,’ I replied, as I skipped down the few steps and headed for my room.
* * *
I arrived at the library at a little after nine, about half an hour before the event was due to start.
The room was empty of people, apart from Anne, who was at the front of the room and with her back to me, fussing over a table and placing a small posy of artificial flowers on it, just to brighten things up a bit, I imagined. There was also a tray with glasses and a jug of water on the table, while to one side there stood a lectern and microphone.
Behind the table and lectern, on the wall, there was a large banner, welcoming everyone to the Macquarie Harbour Writer’s Centre. It all looked quite impressive.
I walked toward her, down the aisle up the middle of the room, between several rows of chairs. A quick count of the chairs that had been set out came to forty, which I thought might be just a bit optimistic, going on my memories of similar events I had attended here as a student. But you could never really tell what might happen.
‘Good morning, Anne,’ I said to her when I reached the front of the hall. She turned around and looked up, appearing quite startled. Apparently she had been so engrossed in what she was doing that she hadn’t even noticed my arrival.
‘Oh, good morning, Tony,’ she said, as she came to greet me, thrusting out her hand toward me. ‘Are you all set?’
‘About as ready as I’m going to be,’ I replied.
‘You’ll do fine, I’m sure.’
‘Here’s hoping,’ I replied. ‘I see this joint hasn’t changed any,’ I added, while looking around the room.
‘No, it hasn’t. The local council don’t really have a lot of money to spend on these places, what with government funding cuts and that sort of thing. We’ve even had cuts to the writer’s group funding that we get from the government, so it makes it quite difficult to operate sometimes. Quite sad really. They keep saying that education and literacy are their first priorities, but if you want to keep improving once you get past school age there’s nothing much available for you, apart from university study, and the type of people we cater for aren’t interested in that, especially considering they would be saddled with a huge debt at the completion of their course, which the government has to pay for anyhow! It just doesn’t make sense to me, I’m afraid.’
‘No. It sounds like false economy to me.’
‘So What’s old Bill doing these days, now that he’s retired?’
‘He’ll be able to tell you himself,’ she answered. ‘I called and invited him along after you mentioned him the other day.’
‘Oh, that’s great. Thank you. This whole trip seems to have been spent catching up with people I knew in that other life I led when I lived here previously. I’ve really been enjoying myself.’
‘I’m glad to hear it.’
‘So, is there anything you would like a hand with? Has everything that you need been set up?’
‘Oh yes, I think we’ve got it all organised now, thank you. Would you like a cup of coffee before the people start arriving?’
‘Actually, that might be a good idea. It might help settle the nerves a little.’
‘Yes. Just follow me through to the kitchen and we’ll get something for you, then when everyone has arrived and we’re ready to start I’ll come back out and get you and introduce you to the audience.’
‘Okay, that sounds great,’ I replied.