Necking: A Dreamspinner Press Anthology [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Jamie Freeman & Zahra Owens & JL Merrow
eBook Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: Just close your eyes and feel: soft, warm lips skimming from your shoulder to your ear, your skin prickling and tickling. Then add another set, echoing the first, layer upon layer of sensation as two sets of hands join the game, stroking, sliding, ratcheting up the heat. And when your lips part and the tip of your tongue darts out, it's met by two more in a luscious, messy, three-way kiss. This is necking, pure and hot, sending shivers of arousal down your spine. In these stories, the men come in threes: triple the pleasure, triple the love.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, Published: 2010, 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2010
by Jamie Freeman
7 Reader Ratings:
THE THANK YOU NOTE
Act I (Army)
The thank you note was, of course, my idea. Not that Roddy rejected the venture, but it was I who first voiced the idea over breakfast the morning after we met Aidan. We were sitting in the breakfast nook, the broad expanse of Central Park far below us, trading sections of the Times and juggling those horrible, greasy croissants Roddy always picks up in Soho, and I said, "I suppose a thank you note is in order."
Roddy, as he so often does, laughed at me.
"You're kidding, right?"
I shrugged. "It would be the polite thing to do."
He shook his head, dark curls flopping beneath the Aida ball cap. The embroidered Egyptian eye stared out at me from the black cloth above the bill like a poor man's chakra. I remember thinking he must have been wearing it to tease me. I had been listening to the 1976 recording of Leontyne Price singing Aida at the Met, so naturally he was showing his mock contempt for my operatic taste by wearing his populist Aida: The Musical cap, as if Elton John and the Disney company could ever hold a candle to Verdi and the Met.
But perhaps contempt is too harsh a description, for although he would deny it kicking and screaming, I know for a fact that he loves this opera. All of his subtle objections are, in truth, a pose designed to set him in not-so-subtle opposition to me. We two are a proud study in opposites. Perhaps sometimes we become caricatures of ourselves in the name of a good story. But such is life, and such is certainly the nature of our life together. There is nothing better than a good story, and all other considerations bow to the telling.
Roddy is spontaneous and funny, with a startlingly quick wit. His sardonic, jaded mask hides a passionate, loving being to whom I am enslaved, at least figuratively. On the other hand, I am, as he likes to say, "precision precisely personified." He sometimes says it as a jab, and sometimes he says it with that beautiful, toothy grin of his, and I know his love is carefully encoded in those ten simple syllables. And he is right about me. I have always had a fastidious, fussy nature, prone to fits over the state of the house, or the texture of the sheets, or the contents of the refrigerator. Even still, I cannot deny that seven years with Roddy have taught me a thing or two about letting go.
In truth, I find myself sometimes exaggerating my own fastidiousness in the presence of Roddy's utter lack of concern about most things. Again, sometimes it's about the theatricality of the gestures rather than true concern about, say, the scuff marks on the floorboard or the smudged handprints on the window.
But I am capable of letting go.
When I choose to do so.
Or when Roddy's hand grasps mine and he pulls me sideways into another life. His life, a life of carefree imprecision. A life where the moments ramble, tumbling one after another like a running brook, rather than marching past like the hands of an eternally ordered clock. And in those moments, I love him the most, as if my heart, set free from the structure of the temporal universe, expands to fill the vastness of the space around me and he becomes my universe. And I am embraced and engulfed and liberated, all in the flash of a single, glowing instant. But only for an instant.
Because the world of the clock always calls me home.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
I first met Roddy seven years ago; our anniversary is eight o'clock next Monday evening. We were both waiting to see Aida (the musical, not the opera) at the Palace Theatre in Times Square. I was there with my best friend Tasha, who had seen the show three or four times and was determined to introduce me to something glorious and inspiring. As it turned out, she did introduce me to something glorious and inspiring, but not in the way she had intended.
When I first laid eyes on Roddy he was standing in the lobby of the theater, a plastic cup of red wine in one hand and a black plastic Aida shopping bag hanging from the fingers of the other. He was breathtakingly beautiful. The kind of man one might see once in a decade and remember for a lifetime. He had long dark curls that fell loose and glossy to his shoulders. His eyes were dark, almost black in the bright light of the theater lobby; his body was toned and muscular, sheathed in ragged jeans and a tight black sweater. His hands fidgeted and he looked around the room nervously, taking sips from his wine and shifting his weight from one foot to the other. He appeared to be alone.
I was literally entranced. I stopped so suddenly that Tasha ran into me, spilling her Pellegrino and cursing loudly enough to attract the annoyed stares of a dozen red-state families and the bemused smile of the object of my enchantment. Our eyes met and something clicked inside me. I remember thinking to myself that this moment was somehow important, that looking into this stranger's eyes meant something significant.
Tasha was too frenzied (and vocal) about the water soaking through her Donna Karan blouse for me to leave her to her own devices, so I walked her back to the bar for a stack of napkins and a bit of cooing concern. When I glanced over my shoulder, the pale, dark-haired beauty had disappeared.
Tasha fussed over her appearance, made a dramatic expedition to the Ladies Room, and then returned looking no different to me, but obviously feeling better about her now mostly dry blouse. She took my arm, cuddled close, and led me to our seats, fourth row center. The lights began to dim as we were squeezing past a dozen annoyed patrons and I heard Tasha gasp. She stopped momentarily, and I tried to see around her, but she was swaying a little and my anxiety level was rising as surely as the curtain on the stage. She plopped into the first of the two empty seats and I hissed at her to move along to the next seat, but once settled, she would not be moved. The curtain was nearly at its zenith when I finally squeezed past her and dropped into my seat. I looked up at the stage, and then felt a leg bump up against my own and stay there. Great, the guy next to me was Bogarting the legroom. I glanced to my left with what I hoped was a truly withering stare and I found myself looking into Roddy's smiling face. His eyes danced in the reflected light from the stage and I felt my face break involuntarily into a broad, foolish grin.
He always makes me grin like that. Even now, after seven years together, he still inspires the unexpected in me. He is wilder than I am, less inhibited. Not just sexually, but in every way. For instance, on the one-year anniversary of the day we met, we took off from work and spent the day together. I requested the day six weeks in advance; he called in sick. We went ice skating in Central Park, and then wandered down to midtown in a snowstorm, shoulders close against the fierce wind, feet slipping as the sidewalks iced beneath us. When we reached the corner of Broadway and 47th, he pulled me out of the flow of traffic, taking me by the shoulders, turning me around and easing me back against his body. I could feel his erection pushing against my back, his breath hot against my cheek as he said, "That's the Palace Theatre, baby, the place where I met my one true love." Then he spun me around and kissed me. And not just a little lip-lock, but a flat-out, nurse-and-sailor-on-VJ-Day, bend-me-over-and-drop-me-into-a-faint kiss. Public displays of emotion scare me, even in Manhattan, but that was a magical moment. I felt liberated there in his arms, freed from the emotional baggage that usually weighs me down, unconcerned about the clucking disapproval of a pair of women who passed us, or the taunting sneer of "Faggots" from a trio of college boys.
We dated for two years before we made the leap and Roddy moved into my apartment. There are many explanations for our relatively long courtship. For instance, we are not lesbians. Okay, that was an unfair jab at Tasha, who has lived with six different girlfriends in the last three years and has never lived alone or with a platonic roommate. I should retract that comment, but I think Tasha would concede there is some truth in it.
Another reason for the long courtship is that apartments are scarce in New York, and Roddy was understandably reluctant to give his up to move in with me, knowing that if something went wrong, he would be living on his brother's sofa in Brooklyn. You might wonder why I did not offer to give up my apartment and move in with him. The best way to explain that might be to give you a few adjectives and descriptive phrases: inherited, crown molding, marble and hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen, Central Park view, doorman, six bedrooms. I know. It is lavishly irresponsible for anyone in New York to have that many bedrooms and, in truth, two of them are used for storage, but as I said, the apartment was inherited and I could never bear to give it up. So there we sat, breakfasting above the world and talking about the suitability of a thank you note.
"What would Miss Manners do?" Roddy was teasing me.
"As social mores change, one must adapt the civilities of the past to the exigencies of the present, or we shall fall into outer-borough barbarism."
He cocked an eyebrow and ripped off a huge hunk of croissant between his teeth. "Oh, baby," he said through a mouthful of pastry. "I love it when you talk dirty."
I refilled my coffee from the silver carafe.
"I think it is entirely reasonable," I said, stirring cream into the dark depths.
A week ago, we were sitting in bed watching late night television. Roddy is addicted to Frasier, so most nights end with a thirty minute visit to Seattle. On that particular night, we were watching Niles and Daphne exchanging erotically charged banter and I was beginning to doze, when Roddy suddenly said, "What should we do for our seven year anniversary?"
I opened my eyes and looked up at him.
He had flipped over on his side and was lying stretched out on the duvet, his long, thick, hairy body on display in front of me. I reached out and slid my fingers down his muscular chest, across his flat stomach to the thatch of dark pubic hair, and grabbed his still-soft cock in my hand.
"What would you like?"
"A trip?" he suggested.
"St. Petersburg?" I tried. "I've never been to Russia."
"In the winter?"
"Maybe an event rather than a trip?" he asked, eyebrows furrowed in thought.
"A cocktail party?"
"A dinner party?"
I stroked him absently as I watched his eyes dance mischievously.
"Tell me what you're thinking," I said finally.
"What if we invite home a third?" he said, licking his lips and rolling onto his back so that I could more easily reach his cock. I could feel the pre-cum beginning to coat my fingers. I increased the strength of my grip, fingers tightening and sliding.
"You want a third?" I asked, my voice low. My own cock began to grow at the thought of another man here in our bed. It was something I thought of occasionally, most often when I was out somewhere with Roddy and a particularly beautiful man wandered into the frame with him. I would see the two beautiful men and want to capture them both, bringing them together at the epicenter of my desire, pulling their bodies into a fleshly triad with my own. The idea of a threesome was a significant turn-on.
"Yes," he breathed. "With rules, of course."
"Of course," I said, my breathing becoming heavier as I felt his muscles straining and squirming next to me. I increased the pace of my hand job, pulling his muscle in the peculiar rhythm I knew made him wild. I brought him quickly to a breathless climax and watched the cum spurt up onto his chest and stomach. I slid my hand through the sticky mess, and then kissed him hard on the lips. He met me with a vigor that surprised me. I slid on top of him, knees straddling his thighs, using his cum to lubricate my cock and bringing myself quickly to orgasm. I groaned as the cum splattered across his stomach. I leaned down, my left arm supporting me, but shaking in the quaking aftermath. I kissed from the center of his chin across the line of his jaw and stuck my tongue in his ear. He squirmed beneath me.
"A third it is, my love," I said.
Over the next few days, we articulated rules as feverishly as we had, less than a year before, planned and articulated the itinerary of our three-week tour of Austria, Germany, and Poland. The rules I offered were, in a way, more like travel tips than an itinerary of desires. I proposed a complicated set of safe sex rules, though Roddy and I had given up any semblance of safe sex between the two of us years ago. So interactions between either or both of us and the third would be governed by one set of rules, while interactions directly between Roddy and myself would not. Or was that rude? I considered making a flow chart.
I proposed a complex screening process and some basic security measures.
Roddy looked at me one evening and said, "Army, you're not taking this very seriously."
"I don't know what you mean," I said.
"I want to set emotional boundaries for us," he said.
I nodded, but in truth, I had difficulty imagining the contingencies upon which such rules would be necessary or could, indeed, be developed. In my mind I could not imagine loving anyone else as deeply as I love Roddy, nor could I imagine how a single sexual encounter could possibly escalate into something dangerous. But Roddy wanted agreements on an array of potential emotional complications, and I was more than willing to oblige.
When we had finally hammered out an understanding that left us both feeling a little foolish and exhausted, Roddy placed an ad on Craigslist and the next morning we had about a hundred email responses.
We waded through them, becoming increasingly discouraged. I automatically deleted any email in which "your" was used instead of "you're." Roddy deleted any email in which the author used the "words" cuz, ttfn, boi, lol, or ciao. We were left with only a handful of viable responses. We read on as the responses continued to trickle in.
Finally, on the third day of photos of tired dicks and asses spread entirely too wide, and typed messages cobbled together from rude, misspelled, frightening sentence fragments, we found a charming, well-written email.
Aidan described himself as thirty-five (the same age as both Roddy and myself), athletic, economically self-sufficient, discreet, thoughtful, and funny. In his email he referred to himself as a red-headed Han Solo and sent us a photo of himself dressed in the Han Solo outfit from the original Star Wars movie: blue pants, black vest, and a white shirt. He held a blaster in one outstretched hand; his head was tilted in a rakish grin, and he seemed to be standing on the steps of a full-sized Millennium Falcon. Roddy and I meticulously studied the photo but were unable to determine whether it had been staged or photoshopped.
Roddy loved the photo from the moment he saw it; I initially found it a little odd and obsessive, but Aidan was clearly adorable and the photo grew on me. After some debate, we decided to meet him in the coffee shop across the street and, if things went well, we could invite him back to our apartment.
* * * *
Act II (Roddy)
The thank you note was my idea. Or at least, the concept of expressing our gratitude for an amazing night of sex and fantasy was my thing, not Army's. I actually suggested we send Aidan flowers. It seemed an extravagant, romantic gesture, something I could really get behind, but Army was afraid he would misconstrue the emotion behind something so over-the-top. I shrugged and dropped the subject, picking up the Arts section, but staring beyond it into the morning fog, which was just beginning to fade from the green hills of the park.
"I suppose a thank you note is in order."
I had to laugh at that. Army just wanted this to be his idea; sometimes he's so transparent.
"You're kidding, right?" I said.
Army shrugged. "It would be the polite thing to do."
I made some comment about Miss Manners because he always rises to her defense, and he made some reference to the fact that I lived in Brooklyn for a while after college, and then we agreed to send a thank you note.
The evening we met Aidan, both Army and I were nervous, bickering and laughing as we rummaged through the closet looking for the perfect attire for the evening. I settled on a pair of black and white patterned boxer briefs that I imagined accentuated my considerable package. I tugged on a pair of fashionably ripped jeans, black Chuck Taylor high tops, and a tight black T-shirt with Revenge of the Jedi emblazoned in red across the front.
"That shirt is incorrect. Did you get that on Canal Street?" Army said, pacing back and forth, still naked and undecided.
"Do you ever listen to a word I say?" I asked.
"Why should I? You always seem to repeat yourself." He grinned at me.
"I told you this was an early promo from Lucasfilm. The original title of Return--"
"Right, right. I remember," he said, cutting me off and pulling on a pair of khakis.
He chose a carefully ironed blue chambray shirt, pale blue socks, and his favorite Gucci loafers.
When he was fully dressed, adjusting the lines of his shirt, shooting his cuffs, and smoothing his pants, I walked up to him and grabbed him in a bear hug.
"Are we even going to the same party?" I asked.
He laughed, "God, I hope so; I have no interest in going without you."
We kissed, and I felt that easy feeling I sometimes get when we're together. It's like that moment when I'm flying home to visit my family and the plane dips down over the Thames on the final descent into Heathrow; or the view of the Dover cliffs from deck of the ferry from Calais. Holding Army in my arms is like coming home from a great distance.
When we arrived at the coffee shop doors, Army opened them with a flourish and we walked inside, buffeted by a sudden gust of icy, wet air. I looked around the room and spotted Aidan immediately. He looked exactly like his photo, which was a bit of a surprise considering the almost universal photographic prevarications of online dating ads, and when he smiled, he made my stomach lurch, he was that beautiful.
I must have stopped in my tracks, because I felt Army's hand in the middle of my back and I heard him whisper, "Are you okay, baby?"
I nodded and walked over to the booth.
"Aidan?" I said.
"Yes. And you must be Roddy," he said, holding out a heavy, muscular hand. "And Army."
He was wearing a green cashmere sweater that made his emerald eyes glow. His hair was cut short and styled to look as though he had just tumbled out of bed. I could feel the beginning of an erection in my jeans.
We talked for a while, ordering coffee and splitting a large wedge of steaming cherry pie. He was charming and smart and surprisingly genuine.
"You're English?" he asked me at one point.
I nodded. "And you're Southern?"
"Georgia," he said, his tongue dragging the word into three honey-sweet syllables.
I stumbled a little over my own nervousness, but Army was suave and funny, and I felt like he was carrying me conversationally. There came a moment in which we all three looked at each other and we knew this was going to happen. Nobody said anything, but Aidan gave us this stunning smile. I smiled and felt my cheeks flush.
"So y'all live around here?" Aidan said.
Army grinned and called to our server. "Sandy, would you please bring the check?"
When we got back to the apartment it was dark outside. There were a few low lights scattered around the living room, but the glow of the city provided most of the illumination. There was a full moon and the sky was cloudless, the view extending across the park, all the way to the East River and into the distance, a vast sea of lights. It was a view that routinely stopped people cold, and Aidan was no exception. He walked across the living room and stood staring out into the night.
"Amazing," he said. "This is the view that tucks y'all in every night?"
"Yes," Army said, walking over to stand next to him. "And it's impossible to tire of it."
I watched the two of them standing several inches apart, Aidan in his loose-fitting jeans, Army in his khakis, and desire leapt up inside me. I walked up between them and put an arm around each of their waists. I pulled them both toward me, forming the base of a momentary triangle. Aidan turned and our lips met. He was tentative, receding a bit under my exploring tongue. I leaned back, and Aidan turned to kiss Army. I watched the man I loved kissing this gorgeous man we had just met and I felt my cock harden in my pants.
Having sex with someone for the first time is always a negotiation of sorts. Even the most accomplished of lovers grapple with the pace, and the repertoire, and the order. When Army and I fell into bed the first time we found a gentle pace in which I took the lead, undressing him, pulling him down on the bed, kissing him, and then going down on him. When his arousal began to peak dangerously he changed the pace, taking control from me and pulling me roughly onto his stomach, pulling out a condom, and easing himself into me. This subtle power shift happened so easily that neither of us could have explained how it happened. It was not a natural shift of temperament, the bottom assuming the submissive role, the top dominating, because we were both unrelentingly versatile in those roles. It was not a subconscious recognition of the overall power dynamic in our relationship, because in that, too, we were a partnership of equals. That easy shift from one pace to another, from one power dynamic to another, could more accurately be attributed to the emotions of the evening, to the momentary whims of our bodies.
And so it was with Aidan that night. We eased into a pace in which the focus shifted from one of us to each of the others in turn.
The kissing led us to undress in front of the huge window with the darkness of the park below us and the glittering wonderland beyond. Aidan's body was gym-toned and smooth except for a forest of curly red hair that clustered around his thick cock and heavy balls. His legs were long and lean with only a sprinkling of red hair dusting his calves. When the three of us were completely naked, I stepped back to look at Aidan and Army, standing several inches apart, looking into each other's eyes, their breathing heavy, their erections thumping with their racing pulses. The three of us were close in height, all within an inch or two of six feet, but Army and Aidan were leaner than I am, a pair of long hairless runner's bodies in sharp contrast to my own thick-cut, wide-shouldered bulk.
I watched Aidan drop slowly to his knees in front of Army, sliding his hands along Army's thighs, cupping his balls, then tugging on them, bringing his cock down until it was parallel to the floor, then engulfing it between his thick, red lips. A shudder went through me and I thought for a moment I had groaned aloud, but realized the sound had come from Army. I walked over and stood beside Army, my cock close to Aidan's face. I leaned over and kissed Army, my mouth covering his as I felt Aidan's wet mouth slide onto my cock. I moaned, and Army kissed me harder, pushing his tongue between my teeth and reaching out to pinch my left nipple. Hard. I gasped and then Aidan was standing beside us, pushing his erection between our bodies, his mouth joining our kiss, three tongues competing for entry into three mouths. I felt desire rising in me, a frantic feeling that was unfamiliar to me. I felt faint for an instant, that cold feeling behind your forehead when the adrenaline has spiked and you know you have to burn it off or overload. I reached out and pulled the two men close to me, becoming, for the moment, the apex of our dynamic triad. They kissed me, their hands roaming across my chest, my hips, and my ass. I felt a slick finger sliding between my ass cheeks.
"Let's go to the bedroom," I said, my voice strong and guttural, unfamiliar enough that I saw Army look up to see which one of us had spoken. Desire flashed in his eyes and he kissed me so hard I took a step back, my hand reaching out to grasp Aidan's long fingers between my own. Army drew back and headed down the hallway toward the bedroom. I looked up, kissed Aidan and led him by the hand, my eyes never leaving his as I backed down the hall toward the master bedroom.
The bedroom was dark, but like the living room it had a floor to ceiling window open to the night. Army had crawled onto the white duvet cover and lay watching me as I led Aidan into the room. He was again transfixed by the view.
"I can't believe the beauty of the view y'all live with," he whispered.
I followed him to the window, standing close behind him, my cock aligning itself between his buttocks. I wrapped my arms around his waist and rested my chin on his shoulder. We stood pressed together looking out into the night.
I felt Army stand close behind me, mimicking my own stance, and sandwiching me between their lean bodies.
The exploration of foreplay seemed to last for hours, and when I finally rolled on the condom and entered Aidan, he gasped and then groaned as my thick cock slid into him. I looked down at him lying on his back beneath me, legs raised along the length of my body, ankles resting one on each of my shoulders. His eyes flashed in the half-light. I leaned forward to kiss his lips, folding him nearly in half, and then felt Army ease his long unsheathed cock into my ass. Arousal rippled down my body like a wave of electricity. I felt Aidan reaching up to run his hands across the goose flesh that stippled my arms and legs.
I held his legs and pushed deeply inside him, watching his pupils, dilated with desire and darkness, his face slack with pleasure. He moaned as I found my rhythm. Behind me I could feel Army easing into a rhythm he knew I liked. I was overwhelmed by the physical sensations of Aidan's muscles pulling me into him and Army spearing me from behind. I was lost in a cloud of red; my shout when I came, as Aidan told me later, reverberated off the window, echoing back onto us like a wave. I felt Army come an instant later, and then Aidan, spewing cum up into the air and coating his chest and stomach. I leaned forward, heat rising off my cheeks, a human radiator, and I kissed Aidan, pushing my body heavily onto his and feeling Army collapse onto my broad back.
We disentangled ourselves and staggered to the shower, a custom job that was easily large enough for the three of us, and soaped ourselves off. I could see Aidan's eyelids drooping as I soaped his chest.
I looked at Army. He nodded slowly.
"Do you wanna stay the night?" I asked.
"Mmm-hmm," he said, eyes closing. He reached out unerringly and kissed each of us in turn.
We slept entangled in each other's arms, Aidan tucked in between us in a surprisingly easy and uncomplicated sleep.
I woke early and made coffee, then sat in the living room and watched as the sun rose, fiery and elegant. Aidan came into the living room naked, rooted through the piles of clothes and found his underwear. We exchanged good mornings, and he stumbled into the kitchen for a mug of coffee.
He came back and sat next to me on the sofa, his body close to mine, his long legs stretched next to mine on the coffee table. We alternated between companionable silence and charming morning-after banter until Army arrived naked with a mug of coffee in his hands. He joined us on the couch and I remember thinking how strange it was, how easy it was, just being there with both of these men.
When Aidan left, Army and I made love again, and then showered again. Army gathered his newspaper, and I dug out the bag of croissants I always bring him from his favorite bakery in Soho as we discussed the suitability of flowers or a thank you card.
* * * *
Act III (Aidan)
I answered the ad on a whim, not expecting a response. In New York it wasn't like back home where the competition was minimal. There were over eight million people in New York, with over a million gay men, and I never seemed to connect with anyone. I would sometimes meet guys around, you know, at Saks in the menswear section, or in a bar, or even in Starbucks--a completely underrated pick-up spot in my book--and sometimes we'd go to his place and fool around, or maybe just talk until we ran out of interest.
If there are a million stories in the naked city, there are about nine hundred thousand that are too boring to finish reading.
Back home I found it easier to meet guys, even though it was a small Southern town and there was a lot of fear back there. But when I did find someone, we usually got along okay and I was never robbed at gunpoint like that one time in Queens.
My roommate Jake always says I'm just being too picky, too critical of the guys I meet, but to me there's just something about the gentle art of conversation that's important. I'm not so hard up that I'll just go with anyone to get laid. Jake, of course, says that's part of my problem, but to me there's gotta be something more; even if I know it's just going to be a one-night thing, I still want a connection.
Jake makes fun of me because I have this thing about meeting tourists. He laughs and laughs about that, but I think there are probably two reasons I end up meeting these guys from out of town. First, I'm new in town myself, so on the weekends I still like to do tourist shit like taking the Circle Line Cruise or going to the museum at the Intrepid. And second, they talk like me. I've got this heavy Southern accent and when I open my mouth, people know I'm just a good ole boy. And when the Georgia boys come to the big city, they like a little taste of home before they hit the hay. I'm happy to oblige them, 'cause they're usually talkative and solicitous and funny, and the kind to offer you room service in the morning.
Jake likes to tell people I'm on a first-name basis with half the hotel doormen in midtown, but there are only five or six who know my name, and two of them know my name because they've shouted it out in the throes of passion. Yeah. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
Does that make me sound like a slut?
Momma is always worrying about me getting "the AIDS." She sends me these big boxes of condoms she buys at Sam's Club, and I tell her they give away free condoms everywhere in this city and to send food or DVDs instead, but she still sends me these boxes of Trojans or LifeStyles. I'm embarrassed to say that her confidence in my prowess far outstrips my actual need, so there are currently three cases of condoms stacked in the cabinet above the refrigerator in my apartment. Even Jake and I combined can't keep up with the flow of lubricated latex concern coming from Momma.
Daddy, on the other hand, pretends he doesn't know I'm a gay boy. He sometimes asks if I've found a pretty Yankee debutante to settle down with, and I laugh and humor him because he loves me and because it's the best he can do. And sometimes I'm just too sad about the whole thing to answer him, so I just put on a fake little chuckle and hope he can't hear the sadness coming to him from across the miles.
But my life here isn't sad; I love this place and everything about it. I'm stumbling around the city, sleeping with my Southern brethren, working at a software start-up company and making pretty good money for New York. I mean, I only have one roommate and we've got a one-bedroom, not a studio. And I'm starting to settle into my life here, finding things I love and drawing them close, making them mine.
Like the Metropolitan Opera, for instance.
When I was a kid, Momma used to tell me about singing in the Atlanta Opera before she finally accepted Daddy's marriage proposal and moved back to Calhoun to get married. She sang in the chorus of a couple dozen big operas, and when I was little, she would sing for me. Mozart and Puccini and Barber and her absolute favorite, Verdi. I remember her telling me the story of Aida, of the hidden passion of Radames and Aida, and the moment in the opera when Amneris recognizes the joy on their faces for what it truly is. My mother sang Vieni, o diletta, appressati in the clearest, most beautiful mezzo-soprano. Her voice was so high and mournful it made me think of a caged bird. I remember crying quietly at her feet as she stood by the fireplace singing in German or Italian, or in a high, foreign-sounding English that to me was equally alien and beautiful and soaring.
And so, when I arrived in New York, I sought out the Metropolitan Opera, buying cheap tickets and sitting in the darkness, enfolded by the magic of the operas I knew only through the tones of my mother's soaring mezzo-soprano and her sometimes inaccurate, spotty narration. I was transfixed and transported.
Jake hates opera, so when I'm at home, I spend a lot of time plugged into my iPod, surfing the internet or lying in bed dreaming of Radames or Rodolfo or Figaro.
It always comes back to the men. There is no escaping them, no matter how we try, and so, when Jake called me over to look at an ad he'd found on Craigslist advertising for a third, I was intrigued. The ad was funny and smart and brief, but there was something about the wording or the cadences that made me think of an aria. So I answered the ad, and, as I said before, I did not expect a response.
When the response came and I took an uptown bus through the frozen night, I remember looking up at the full moon and wondering at my lunacy.
And then I saw them coming through the door and everything changed. They were beautiful, like a matched set of china figurines, delicate and pale. Roddy with his English accent and Army with that clipped, Connecticut accent that made him sound like a male Katherine Hepburn. And then I realized that beneath the leather jacket, Roddy was a thick muscle bear, and beneath his tweeds Army had the build of a Harvard rower, long and lean and wiry. They were entrancing, and the sex was spectacular. The power of three, and nobody left out in the cold. Although I knew in my mind I was the outsider, they treated me as an equal. I felt something like a power shift, like the energy of the evening was focused on each of us, one after the other. And I felt so included. When I curled up in bed between them, I felt truly, completely at home for the first time since I left the hills of North Georgia.
Since that night, several times I've dreamed of sleeping between the two of them, safe in their mutual embrace. I've thought about contacting them; Army and I traded contact information, but something has been holding me back.
Until last night.
I was late coming home from work. I'd stopped for Chinese takeout and it was all I could do to drag myself up the four flights of stairs to my apartment. My roommate Jake was out somewhere, but he'd left a pile of mail on my bed.
I dropped my coat on the bed, flicked on the television and changed it to Lifetime, looking for something funny and sweet to soothe my nerves. I'd had a vicious day at work: picture Deliverance, but meaner and more humiliating, with crappier music.
I dropped down on the bed, rooting through my carryout bag and pulling out a paper carton of steamed dumplings. Say what you like about the Big Apple, but this place has the best Chinese takeout in the known universe. I dug around in the carton with a chopstick, spearing one of the slippery dumplings and allowing my taste buds to be transported to spiced-pork-based-meat-product heaven.
I glanced down at the pile of mail on the bed and noticed a thick off-white envelope that didn't look like a bill. I never get any real mail, so the envelope immediately sent a little shiver of excitement up my spine. To be honest, I thought it was a check from my grandmother. She's got piles of money lying around her house like furniture. It's family money that her father managed to hold onto through the Great Depression, and she's determined to hang on to it so she can die the richest woman in Calhoun, Georgia. That being said, she is sometimes spontaneously, lovingly generous to me, especially since I started sending her programs from the operas I've seen at the Met. She's always been my mother's greatest fan, resentful of my daddy's refusal to let her sing professionally, so her support of me may be a jab at Daddy, but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the wallet. So when I saw that envelope, I thought maybe there was a check inside, my full legal name carefully rendered in exact loops and slashes, the amount starting with a precise digit or two followed by two perfect oval zeroes and a decimal.
I set the food aside, pushed off my shoes and drew my legs up onto the bed, sitting Indian style and pulling a blanket across my lap. I'm still not used to these New York winters and I'm pretty sure I could see my breath misting in the frigid apartment air. Maybe I should use the money to buy a space heater instead of a ticket to Aida.
I glanced up at the television. Frasier. Niles was running around ironing his suit and getting ready for his big Valentine's Day date. I stopped to watch, riveted, laughing out loud. Schadenfreude. I love that show.
At the first commercial break, I looked back down at the mail. I picked up the off-white envelope again, turning it in my hand. Elegant. Expensive. Vellum as fine as linen. Not from my grandmother. The black ink and strong hand were precise and even like hers, but the letters were different, unfamiliar.
I tore the envelope along the seam and pulled out a single sheet of paper folded in half.
The note made me grin and probably blush. I was glad Jake was out somewhere and not looming over me ready to laugh at my sensitivities. When I got to the end of the note and I saw the phone number printed neatly across the bottom of the page, I felt that musical theater lump in the throat that everyone's always singing about.
I picked up my phone and stared at it for a while. My mind was reeling, but I knew if I didn't dial the number now, I'd chicken out.
I punched the numbers and hit send.
It rang three times.
"We were afraid you wouldn't call." The voice was soft but loose, self-consciously sardonic. It was Roddy.
"How could I not, Roddy?" I said.
Roddy chuckled and said, "You knew it was me."
"You have that there English accent 'n' all, ya know."
"Damn, that was my best imitation New England accent."
"Kinda sad if that was the best you could do." I laughed. "More 'Merry Olde' than 'New,' I'm afraid."
"Oh, come on, you didn't think it was Army? Not even for a minute?"
"Nope," I said. "It's that damn accent--you're apparently incapable of disguising it--and, of course that sexy, baritone rumble of yours; I have a good memory for beauty."
"Bold recovery," Roddy said.
"I thought so." What the hell am I doing? Who is saying this stuff?
"Direct, yet flirtatious."
"Uh-huh." I said. "Us Southern boys can be direct when the need arises."
"And has your need been... arising?"
"Why yes, sir, so kind of you to ask. I'm afraid it has." As a matter of fact, I could feel it at that very moment, pushing against the inside of my trousers, begging to be let out to play. I stretched my legs out on the bed, pulling the blanket up over them.
"Needs must be addressed, of course."
"And what have you been doing to address your needs?"
"Literally or figuratively?"
"A little of both, I reckon."
"Oh, I like the thought of that, Aidan." Roddy's voice dropped to a silky purr. "What else are you doing? Right this minute, for instance?"
"Oh, well you caught me between mooning sessions. At the moment I'm watchin' Frasier and eatin' steamed dumplings."
"Dumplin's?" Roddy was making fun of my accent, but it made me grin like a fool.
"You might know them as dump-ling-g-s." I enunciated the consonants carefully, stressing the P and the G like an elocution teacher.
Roddy laughed and asked, "Are you naked?"
"Not yet." I could hear Army in the background saying, "Don't be crude, Roddy."
"I didn't think that was crude," I told him. "I kinda liked your inquisitiveness--lets me know y'all care."
Roddy laughed again. "Hang on a sec," he said, not bothering to cover the phone with his hand. "Go get on the extension. He can hear every word you're saying anyway."
Roddy came back on the line. "Army's nervous," he said.
"Are you nervous?" I asked.
"A little--" he admitted.
"Poor baby," I said. I was feeling bold suddenly, stronger and more confident than I'd felt in a long time. It was like that feeling I'd felt waking up between the two of them in bed, the feeling that maybe coming to New York had been a good decision, that maybe there was something here for me after all.
I was soaring; pumped full of adrenaline, not quite believing these two incredible men had sent me their phone number. I was flirting with a confidence I'd never felt before, joking with these beautiful guys whose bodies appeared in my mind every time I closed my eyes, whose smell surrounded me on the subway, in the office supply closet at work, in the elevator at Bloomingdales, whose whispering voices eased me into sleep each night.
I was completely and utterly smitten.
"Hello, Aidan," Army had picked up the extension. "A little what, darling?"
"A little nervous," Roddy said.
"He's been pacing for three days," Army said.
"Well, except during cocktails," Roddy said.
"No, of course not during cocktails; he's not a barbarian," Army said.
We talked for a while, voices overlapping, stumbling a little; trying to find our way through this new thing, this new three-way flirting talk. It was beautiful and awkward. I felt crazy and happy and scared, but I could hear something lurking just beneath their small talk, something that unified the two of them, but somehow excluded me. I felt a tremor of panic building.
Oh shit, maybe I've been readin' them all wrong. How could I be so stupid? Maybe they sent their number as a social formality; maybe they didn't think I'd call them and now they can't figure out how to get me off the phone. I dropped my chopsticks and set the dumplings aside. I felt my cheeks burning red hot.
There was a long silence on the phone.
Roddy broke the silence. "So would you maybe be interested in, you know, getting together again?"
"Uh...." I was so startled I didn't know what to say.
"Well, I mean, this is not a booty call or what have you, well, unless you want it to be, I mean, I don't want to take that completely off the table of course, but...." He paused.
I was grinning like a Cheshire cat, but I couldn't quite form a reliable verbal response.
"Are you still there?"
"Uh, yeah. Yeah, sorry," was all I could manage. I held the phone with shaking fingers. Keep it together, Aidan; keep it together. I held my hand out flat in front of me and watched it quiver and jump in front of my eyes.
"So booty call being set aside for the moment--"
"Roddy--" Army sighed, but he sounded amused.
"As I was saying," Roddy continued. "We thought it might be fun to get together again to maybe get to know you better? Cocktails and dinner, perhaps? Or we could go to dinner and a show.... Something like that, something social, but with our clothes on, so we can get to know each other better...." His voice trailed off uncertainly.
"What does one do on a triple date?" I asked.
"What indeed?" Roddy said. "I'm not sure how to do this."
"You've run out of steam, Roddy," I said.
"I'm afraid so, yes."
"So you want to go on a date?" I said, my tone deliberately thoughtful.
"Exactly," Roddy said; "Precisely," Army said, their voices overlapping.
"And what might your intentions be, gentlemen?" I was finally coming around, recovering my wits, letting the idea of dating these two guys wriggle around between my ears.
"I think we should like to take things as they come," Army said. "See where the circumstances lead us."
"Yes," Roddy piped in. "Nothing too serious."
"But something romantic?" I asked. "Not gin rummy and cigarettes, or the new Coen brothers movie, or Kara Walker lecturing at the Guggenheim?"
"Not until the second date--"
Army cut Roddy off. "An opera."
"Or a musical," Roddy countered.
"Something romantic and sweeping," Army said, his voice soft, wistful.
"Something we can tell the grandchildren," Roddy said.
We all laughed and then it came to me. "Gatti's conducting Aida at the Met," I said.
"I think I am quite in love with this man already," Army said.
"You just won the daily-double, Aidan baby." Roddy's voice was solid again, flirty and funny and sweet. "Maybe we could do drinks at the Oak Room."
I gave them a little of my patented sex-on-legs laugh. I could feel my erection pushing against my trousers again. I unsnapped them and slipped my hand inside. These boys'll make ya throw rocks at the church.
"And the booty call we tabled earlier could, hypothetically, come into play if this date were to be a success?" I asked.
"Definitely," Roddy said.
"Without a doubt," Army agreed.
"We can start with that, if you--"
This time I cut Roddy off. "Well, I do believe y'all got a date for the opera."
Roddy jumped back in before Army could say anything, saying in a voice both seductive and amused, "So what're you wearing now?"
"Next to nothin', baby," I said, stroking my erection and reaching with the other hand to unbutton my shirt. I could already tell that this was the beginning of something amazing.