Todd arrived at my house at about 11:00am. I showed him around and teasingly asked him if my home looked like a home of someone that would blackmail him. He laughed but I sensed his relief which meant that I had achieved what I had intended by inviting him to see my house. Yes – getting my drain fixed was a bonus but I also knew that if Todd could see where I lived and see that I had just as much at stake as he did that it would quickly extinguish any lingering thoughts he may have about my intentions. My plan worked so well that he told me that he looked forward to the day that I could see his home.
As Todd was working on the drain I took a shower. I got out of the shower just in time to find Todd testing his work. “No leaks!” he said when I came to check on him. I was relieved because leaks would have meant a trip to Home Depot and less time alone with him. “Great!” “Thank you so much!” I said. Todd gave me a big hug and wished me a happy birthday as he planted a big kiss on me. I had to pull away from him quickly because I knew it would have been very easy to lose control of my senses.
As Todd took his tools out to his truck I whipped up a batch of margaritas to take with us. We had already decided to try a different Motel 6 because it was closer to my house. I locked up the house, hopped into my SUV and Todd followed me to the motel. As we pulled into the parking lot of Motel 6 I noticed that there were two much nicer hotels next to Motel 6. Todd had already agreed to cover the full cost of the motel as a birthday gift to me so I asked if he might be open to looking at the two other hotels next door. He agreed to check one and I would check the other. Both wanted a $250 deposit in lieu of a credit card –which wasn’t a problem for Todd but I hadn’t thought about how uncomfortable going in and speaking with someone might make him feel. I picked up on it the second I got into his truck. He said he’d be fine but it freaked him out a little to have to actually talk to someone. He assured me that he’d be okay.
We decided on the nicer of the two hotels and I booked the room. Compared to Motel 6 this place was the Ritz! I told Todd to take a shower to relax – which was now standard procedure and I poured him a margarita as I waited for him to shower. I had started bringing my laptop when we met so that we could listen to music. Todd loved the CDs I made for him and some of the songs touched him so deeply that he’d burst into tears.
When he finished in the shower Todd crawled into bed next to me and kissed me as he again wished me a happy birthday. The sight of him naked was enough to get me going. For a man of 44, he had the body of a 25 year old and what he lacks in stature he more than makes up of for in “size.” He has the most beautiful uncircumcised penis I have ever seen. Not too wide but wide enough to know it was there and it has a perfect upward curve that makes it very easy for him to make love to me missionary style. As we began making love I sensed, immediately, that Todd was disconnected from me. I put my hands on his face and pulled him close to me as I asked him what was wrong - but I already knew. He was still struggling with having made contact with the hotel clerk and it had thrown him off. “It scares me sometimes how you can read how I’m feeling without me having to say a word,” he said. I told him that he has to learn to talk to me about that stuff before he does it. I told him again that he doesn’t have to take care of me like he takes care of the rest of the world and there is no reason for him to put himself in a situation that is going to cause him stress. I should have known better than to send him in but I was so excited to be with him that I wasn’t thinking clearly. We talked for a little longer, drank a little more margarita and suddenly he got the grin on his face that I had come to love. “There you are!” I said excitedly. “I was wondering when you’d show up.” And with that Todd had pulled himself out of his haze of stress and we spent the rest of the day making love over and over again. We stopped at one point to order a pizza. Todd told me over and over again how happy and lucky he felt that I hadn’t let him go and he asked me again to be patient with him. Of course, by now, it was clear to me that we had both made the right decision in continuing to see one another but I cautioned him to be prepared for the rough patches that were sure to come. We talked about his impending trip to Hawaii and the stresses that it was going to put on him. He said he would call me as soon as he got there and I was so surprised by those words that I burst into tears and buried my face in his neck. As he had done the last time I did this, Todd reached down and gently lifted my head until my eyes were locked to his. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Don’t you want me to call you?” I was shaking as I said, “Yes, but I didn’t want to put it in your head that you had to.” “I was preparing myself to hear nothing from you and it was killing me.” I was now sobbing as I said, “I’m going to miss you so much but I am so proud of what you are doing!” “You are such a good man, you have no idea!” “But I’m also terrified that you won’t come back to me.” Tears were now rolling down Todd’s face as he said, “I need you Jason.” “I don’t think I’ll be able to get though it without talking to you.” “I know that I’m going to need to lean on you.” “I promise I’ll come back to you.” “I just can’t be without you.” “One way or another I’ll figure it out.” His words brought me comfort because I had grown to realize that Todd was not the kind of man that said things that he did not mean. Moreover, with Todd, I had become the kind of man that did not speak with selfish or “leading” intentions. I’ve always had a way of manipulating men into saying what I wanted to hear. I suppose I inherited that from my birth-mother and her mother before her. From the moment I met Todd I intentionally steered away from doing this to the point that I’d say little out of fear of leading the conversation in the direction that I wanted it to go. I have never been so committed to hearing the truth and not simply what I wanted to hear. Todd wasn’t the only one that was experiencing a different side of himself. With Todd, I am honest, true and I speak with honesty and sincerely whenever I open my mouth. There are no games. There is no manipulation. It is simply the purity of our love that, at times, requires no conversation at all but communicates everything in a touch or a look. Whenever Todd speaks to me he speaks with sincerity and from his heart. We were both crying now and we hugged one another tightly as he whispered, again, “I just can’t believe how hard I fell for you.” “It’s unbelievable.” Then, jokingly, he said, “Do you think Chad will miss you if I fly you to Hawaii and get you a room down the street?” We laughed together at the absurdity of what he had said but secretly we both wished it were possible. What I didn’t tell him was that if he had truly needed me to be there I would have found a way to have made it happen.
As my birthday day with Todd came to a close I asked him to promise me again that he’d come back to me when he returned from Hawaii. He made the promise and I believed him. Our intent in spending my birthday together was that I wouldn’t see him again until he returned from Hawaii but we should have known better. I sat in Todd’s truck with him after we left our room and we talked for awhile. He had played me a couple of songs on a CD he’d taken from his son that made him think of us. I copied the CD onto my laptop as we sat and talked about how much we’d miss one another. Todd was laughing as he told me to be prepared for when he got back because he was going have quite a lot of pent up energy to release. When the time came to say our goodbyes it was, by far, the most excruciating of our goodbyes. Although he’d promised to come back to me, my childhood of devastating disappointments managed to plant a permanent seed of doubt in my head whenever such promises were made to me. But I knew that I trusted Todd and that gave me the strength to get in my SUV and drive home.
Chad picked up dinner on his way home from work and he and I sat together and ate that night. We made small talk and I thanked him for the nice card he had left me that morning. It wasn’t easy for me to push Todd out of my head but I knew that I had to. He was going to Hawaii to renew his wedding vows and that needed to be his focus. Deep down I knew this but I also knew that I really wanted to see him again before he left. Instinctively I knew that he felt the same way.
My birthday had been on a Wednesday and I was not scheduled to return to work until the following Monday. I usually take a day or two off around my birthday because it’s on the 1st of July and usually lands right around the July 4th holiday. As he had promised, Todd called me the day after my birthday. He wanted me to know that he was doing okay and had a wonderful time spending my birthday with me. He told me again how much he loved me and how he still couldn’t believe he’d found me. He sounded strong and happy – which made me happy – as well as relieved. Todd has a tendency to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and if he has a rough night of guilt and doesn’t sleep well, the following day he gets himself worked into a frenzy of guilt and fear. There was no hint of that on this day and it made me hopeful for the future. We talked for about an hour before he had to go but before he said goodbye he asked me to call him the following morning around 10 or 11. He had to work and would have some time to chat. He said that he loved hearing the sound of my voice. Of course I agreed.
That night Chad got a text from his sister that she and their mom were planning to head down to Salinas the following day to see his grandmother. The text annoyed Chad because he hated that his family wouldn’t include him in their plans when we always tried to include them in ours. Chad has always been extremely close to his grandmother and three years ago we nearly lost her. Thankfully she pulled through but she was forced to move into convalescent hospital. Honestly, I didn’t think she’d make it a year but here we were going on three years and she just keeps improving. Still, I’ve always felt that we were on borrowed time with Grandma and I was concerned that Chad was being stubborn simply for the purpose of being stubborn. I told him that he should tell his mom that he wanted to go. He refused and said that he already had plans to do things that he’d wanted to get done around the house. One of the things that I love most about Chad is that he does an amazing job of keeping our home and our lives running smoothly but this can also lend itself to considerable inflexibility on his part. Sometimes he has a hard time seeing the bigger picture because he’s too focused on the little things that don’t really matter. Being able to see his grandmother on her actual birthday fell into this category. I tried to get him to give in but he wasn’t having it. Frustrated - I gave up.
The following morning was a Friday and we were both off work for the 4th of July holiday. When we woke up I tried again to get Chad to give in and call his mom but he was still digging in his heels. When he got up and went into the kitchen I decided to go over his head. I sent his mom a text message and asked where they were. She responded and told me they were just about in Novato and wanted to know why I was asking. I told her that Chad was being a cranky pants and I thought that they should come kidnap him and take him with them. My mother-in-law would move mountains for her children so I knew that a 25 minute trip out of the way wouldn’t even be a second thought to her. “We’re on our way” was her next text message to me. I smiled as I messaged her back that she should tell him because he’d get pissed at me. “I’m on it” came next and with that the wheels were in motion. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law showed up 25 minutes later as Chad was just finishing getting ready. He knew better than to argue with her but he made it clear to me as he was leaving that he was frustrated at having to give up his entire day. It was worth his frustration because I knew that if something were to happen the Grandma and he hadn’t gone he’d never forgive himself. Even with all that had been happening with Todd my love for, and in, Chad had never wavered. This is part of the reason that I was so tormented myself. Even with all of our problems I was still deeply in love with Chad but I could feel our connection weakening.
After Chad left I called Todd. I told him that I had some work to do in the yard but that my afternoon had suddenly opened up and I was wondering if he might like to get together for a drink somewhere. He spoke with such sincerity as he said, “Oh Jason, I’d really like to see you before I leave and I was so hoping that I could!” His words touched me and we agreed to meet at what we had begun to call “the spot.” “The spot” was where we had first made love. As I was getting ready to leave I realized that if Todd and I were to actually go to a bar or a restaurant he’d be a nervous wreck. So I decided to bring the bar to Todd. I made a batch of margaritas and grabbed a couple of beers out of the fridge, put it in a little cooler and headed off to meet him.
Todd was running late so I kept myself busy laying out my make-shift bar and sliding the front seats forward. I made a few phone calls and before I knew there was his red truck coming around the corner. I jumped out of my SUV as he was pulling up next to me and he was smiling that broad, happy smile that always made me feel like the most special person in the world. I walked up to his car gave him a kiss. “Damn! Don’t you look hot!” I said. He was wearing faded 501’s that had dirt and grease smudges on them with a wife beater tank top and a pair of work boots. “I have a better idea than going someplace for a drink,” I said. I motioned to my SUV and told him to get in. Without hesitation he complied. “I don’t think you’d do so well if we were to go to a bar or someplace public just yet so I brought the bar to you,” I said. “You think of everything don’t you?” He replied. Then he kissed me. I could sense that something was off as I asked, “What’s wrong?” “Nothing, I just had a rough night and didn’t sleep very well.” He said. “I can’t hide anything from you, can I?” I poured him a margarita and he promptly put it down and reached for me. I leaned back and he fell into my arms. “Gosh, I just can’t believe how much I love you.” “It really scares me sometimes.” He was crying softly now. “You make me feel so good when I’m with you Jason.” “It just feels right.” He was speaking directly from his heart and the conflict in his soul was an ever-present reality as he spoke. “Thank you. Thank you for not letting me go Jason.” “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” “I need you.” And then, as he lay on top of me in his dirty work clothes and he began to sob as if he were a little boy again. His sobs were deep and I could feel his body wrench as he let out years of pain and frustration. “It’s okay Baby,” I said. “Let it out.” “I’ll always be your safe place.” I whispered in his ear as I held him as tightly as I possibly could. As he gathered his composure he looked down at me and said, “I’m just so afraid of falling more in love with you than I am with my wife.” This made him sob even more deeply. Now I was crying too. “Well, we’ll just have to make sure that doesn’t happen, won’t we?” I said through my tears. “I promise you Todd, I am here. I won’t leave and I’ll help keep you safe in any way that I can.” He said, “I know.” “I can’t believe how much I love you.” “I’m not a religious man Jason, but sometimes I really feel like God brought you to me to keep me safe.” Todd’s words sent a wave emotion through my entire body that caught me off guard and the only thing I could do was bury my face in his neck and weep. It was a combination of fear, joy, and frustration that brought this sudden surge of emotion. Todd was holding me tightly now and I realized that when he held me like this it was as if he was holding on to a life-preserver and bobbing up and down in a sea of darkness. For his entire life Todd has been navigating through this dark sea of hidden feelings with no support. How he had managed to survive for so long is a testament to the devotion he has to his wife and kids. I sensed that he wished that he had the strength to tell his wife but I knew that his fear always won out. No wonder he felt like I was a gift from God. I had become his life-preserver. With me Todd can be himself and let himself “be”. There are no pretenses and he knew that, in my arms, he was safe. What I had not been able to figure out for myself was whether or not I had the strength to support us both as Todd struggled to find his way.
It feels good to know that I am able to give another person such unconditional love and support - especially when that person gives it back with so much intensity and sincerity. What frightened me most was that Todd had begun a journey that he was completely unaware of. He seemed to have convinced himself that he could juggle his love and burning desire for me, with the deep love and devotion he had for his wife and family. There were times that I wanted nothing more than for Todd to figure out a way to do this but then the reality of our situation would grip my heart with paralyzing fear and anxiety. As I grew to love Todd more and more, I began to realize that the stakes in this romance were extremely high. I wasn’t sure I had the strength to walk away from Todd. How could I - or he for that matter – walk away from something that felt so right? Although my heart was, at times, torn, my soul was lost when his arms are wrapped around me and we made love. Every day I wondered if I should sacrifice the happiness that we brought to one another so that Todd’s wife and children can continue to live a life oblivious to the man that Todd really is inside. There were times when I felt that is the only realistic outcome for our story but I always came back to keeping him safe. In addition to the love I had for Todd, what kept me coming back to him was my fear that he would continue to do things with strange men in places that might get him caught – or worse; arrested. My gut instinct was that was exactly where Todd would end up if he continued down that path. Of course – this would not only destroy his marriage but will most likely fracture his life as he knew it into a million pieces. I knew that Todd understood the risks. He has told me on several occasions that he “doesn’t want to go back to that.” He hated being out and about with his family because he never knew when or if he might bump into someone that he “knew.” Everywhere he went he was always “on.” He scanned every situation, every person he met, and every place he went to make sure that he and his family are safe from his past indiscretions. I know how this feels because I do the same thing but for different reasons. For me, it’s a result of never truly feeling safe as a child. I learned early on to read every word, every fluctuation in tone, and every movement of a person’s body. This has been a “skill” that has both served me well and also caused me a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety. In short: it’s exhausting! This is part of the reason napping on weekends has become such an important part of my adult life. This is one of the many reasons I believe that Todd and I have connected on such a deep level. We understand one another to the very core and we know exactly what to say to one another to ease the pressure.
My biggest fear for Todd was one that he spoke of often. Several times as he had been struggling through his guilt he eluded to the possibility that he would commit suicide if his family were ever to find out. He truly believes that his children would hate him and he would lose everyone and everything in his life. Whenever Todd speaks like this I feel as if my heart is being torn straight from my chest and I’m being punched in the stomach. Not only because I know exactly how he feels, but because the thought of him harming himself scares me to death. I’ve told him on several occasions that we always assume that things will be worse than they actually end up being but I can see in his eyes that his mind will not allow him to go a place where he might be able to devise a “plan B.” When Todd spoke of what he might do if his family were to ever find out I would be hit in the gut with the reality of just how much he truly needed me. If I were to walk away - and somehow manage to do it successfully – and something was to happen to Todd I don’t know how I could have lived with it. That thought alone was enough to make ME want to die.
As Todd and I lay in the back of my SUV that Friday afternoon, my head was racing with thoughts of what could be. We were getting ready to make love again and suddenly Todd’s cell phone rang. It was his wife. Todd instantly tensed up and I immediately reached for the controls of my SUV’s stereo to turn down the music. She was calling wondering about someone they’d known years ago. Todd did a great job but I knew how hard it was for him. The two minutes he spent on the phone with her were very tense for me. and for him. I saw Todd physically struggle and I was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to snap out of it when the call ended. This was the first time Todd’s wife had actually called while we were together. When he hung up I asked him if he was okay. “Ya, but I need a minute.” He said. He put his head to my chest and tried to get himself together. “This is going to happen from time to time Todd,” I said. “I know.” “I know.” He replied. “I actually am doing okay now; I just need a few minutes to refocus.” I was relieved, and proud of him, for having been able to work through that on his own.
After about ten minutes Todd was back and we began to make love again. As always, it was wonderful and our emotional connection made me feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Then Todd’s cell phone rang again. It was his wife. This time Todd didn’t stop. He reached behind himself and grabbed his cell phone while still inside of me. I was sure that his erection would be gone the second he heard his wife’s voice. Thankfully I was wrong! Todd got through the call without missing a beat. When his wife made her third call 10 minutes later we had already finished making love and he got through that call with relative ease. I was beginning to have hope that Todd might be able to figure things out. I didn’t want his life to be like this. I knew that his wife had a right to know but I also knew that if he ever told her it would take years. She was a constant part of my reality when I was with Todd and although I never told Todd, I too was filled with guilt.
As Todd and I lay in our post love making exhaustion he told me that we wanted to see me when he returned from Hawaii. They were to return on Monday and then leave again for their lake house on Thursday but he said that he expected his wife and kids to head to the lake on Wednesday and he planned to stay behind to get some work done. Reading between the lines I asked, “Do you think we might be able to spend the entire night together?” Todd looked both excited and nervous at the prospect but I knew better than to push the subject. A broad and somewhat devious smile filled Todd’s face as he said, “Mmmmm… that would be so nice.. Can you imagine?!” Secretly I had been imaging a night alone with him for weeks but the prospect of it actually happening seemed too much to hope for. “Let’s just see how it goes while you’re gone and we’ll decide when you get back.” I said. Todd agreed. I knew that his emotions were still a roller coaster and if he had to process this while he was gone it might be enough to send him over the edge.
Since we hadn’t expected to see one another until after Todd returned from Hawaii we considered this Friday rendezvous a “bonus.” Todd told me several times how happy he was that we’d found time to be together again because he had really wanted to see me again before he left. When our time together came to a close Todd told me that he felt good. He said that he felt like he was going to be able to work this out because he had to. Saying goodbye was, of course, difficult because we both expected that we wouldn’t see one another for more than two weeks. The following day was the 4th of July and Todd had alwasys played a large part in his community celebration. He’d be very busy on the 4th and 5th and he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to even call me. I completely understood and told him to have a wonderful time with his family and friends. We kissed several long, deep and tender kisses before we finally parted ways that afternoon. When Todd drove away in his red truck my heart was full of joy. This wonderful man loved me and I loved him. I felt lucky but I was also scared.