We had agreed to meet in Mendocino, a small coastal community about 10 miles south of Fort Bragg. Todd wanted to show me the town and have lunch there. As I drove the windy roads I thought often about the journey Todd and I had been on over the previous 5 months. I thought of how far he’d come and how proud of him I was. I was troubled at the cheating part of what we were doing but I also knew that with me he was safe and I loved him enough to let him be whoever he needed to be. It was during this drive that I was hit with the reality of just how much Todd loved me. He had been through so much torment and struggle since our first meeting in the Home Depot parking lot. He had cried and held on to me for dear life. I had become his life preserver in a sea of darkness. His safe place. He had been up and down and back and forth but somehow he always managed to find his way back to me – each time telling me how much deeper he was falling for me. I felt as if he was beginning to realize the difference between his love for me and his love for Stacey. He was still far from being able to articulate it but he was at least beginning to understand it. I knew that when our time in Fort Bragg was over Todd would put himself through unimaginable torment at what he had done. We had discussed this in advance and I reminded him of that kernel of hope he had been holding on to. I made him promise to be strong and hang in there before we left. He promised, saying, “I just can’t let you go Jason.” “I wish that I could, but I can’t.” “I know that now.”
When I arrived in Mendocino it wasn’t very difficult to find Todd. His boom truck stood out like a sore thumb in the cuteness of the little town. I parked and called him. When we finally connected he told me to follow him. He led me to a public men’s room, and once inside, where no one could see us, he grabbed my face, pulled me to him, and kissed me passionately. He told me how glad he was to see me and how excited he was about this time we’d managed to find. We had agreed in advance that we would do whatever we needed to do to have a good time. Go with the flow and just “be.” After we walked around town for a little bit we found a cute little restaurant to have lunch. During lunch we talked a little about what was going on with me at home but I didn’t really want that to take away from our time together. Todd and Stacey were preparing to drive their son to college the day after we got back from Fort Bragg so we talked a lot about how he was feeling about that. I could tell that it was difficult for him. He still remembered is son as a two year old, running naked between his house and his mother-in-law’s house. Whenever Todd spoke of his family he did so with love and pride but there was always fear mixed in. It was as if he just couldn’t bring himself to truly enjoy them. Almost as if he didn’t feel that he deserved their love. He spoke of how proud he was of his son and what a great kid he was. I told Todd that if he felt like he needed to cry when he left his son then he should allow himself that. Todd had spent so many years fighting what was inside of him that he had never really truly allowed himself to feel because he was afraid he might slip up and someone would discover his secret. I wanted nothing more for him than to live an honest and true life but I knew that the likely hood of that ever happening wasn’t very good.
When we finished lunch, we walked back to my truck and he drove me around showing me all of the houses he had worked on throughout the years. Todd was very proud of what he had built in his business and this was evident whenever he told me about his work. After my tour I dropped him off at his boom truck and followed him the ten miles up the freeway to Fort Bragg. He found a place to leave his boom truck while we searched for a room. I had done some online research and found a cute little motel right on the beach. We drove through town and found the motel. Todd went in and decided that we should stay there. Once we were checked in we went up to the room. It was beautiful! It had a Jacuzzi tub, a fireplace and stunning ocean views. The last thing we had to do was pick up his boom truck and bring it to the motel. Then we were free to relax and enjoy our time together.
Once we had picked up the boom truck and were in our room we relaxed for a little while but I sensed that Todd was still uncomfortable. I asked if he was okay. I was right he was nervous and wondered if he was crazy for thinking that he should spent the extra $50 for a room at the regular motel he stayed at – just in case Stacey called. I told him that if it would give him some peace of mind then he should do it. He agreed and took my truck to get the room. While I was waiting for Todd to return I mixed up some margaritas and took care of some of my work emails. Todd was back in less than a half an hour and he was noticeably more relaxed. We had a few drinks and then we began to make love. I could feel Todd fighting his feelings and, unfortunately, it manifested itself in his ability to perform. He was worried that I’d be disappointed but we’d already discussed that we would go with the flow. I wasn’t worried about his ability and reminded him that if he couldn’t, I COULD! We lay in bed for a little while and then I suggested we fill up the tub and take a bath together. That’s what we did and it was nice. Todd had never had a foot massage so I gave him one and he thoroughly enjoyed it! The water was too hot though so we couldn’t stay in for very long. The hot water didn’t go well with the margaritas and Todd got very light headed.
Once we were dried off, we put out pants on and sat outside on the balcony watching the waves crash and talking. I could feel Todd struggling. We began to talk. “I have a beautiful wife, great kids, a semi-successful business, and a beautiful home.” “Why can’t that be enough for me?” “What do I have to have this!?” “Why can’t I be happy?” He wasn’t crying but I felt his pain and sorrow. He knew the answer and so did I. “You already know Todd,” I said to him gently. He looked up at me with his sad brown eyes and said, “I do?” “Yes, because the one thing you don’t have is what we all want and need to be truly happy.” I said. “What’s that?” he asked. “Do I really need to say it?” I said. He didn’t respond with words but I knew he wanted me to say it. “The one thing you don’t have is TRUTH and we all need that to be happy.” Hearing the words was not easy for him. “Okay, don’t want to talk about it anymore,” he said. With that I changed the subject.
Once we had cooled off from the hot bath we got back into bed and began to kiss and embrace one another. That look of adventure came across Todd’s face and I knew what it meant. He wanted to try being on the receiving end of making love again. I was more than happy to oblige. We took our time getting Todd relaxed enough and when he was ready – he was REALLY ready! I was a little nervous when we started because I still had the memory of our first time doing that in my head. I didn’t want Todd to have to deal with a week of discomfort but he quickly showed me that my worries were for nothing. As much as Todd enjoyed it the last time we had switched roles, this time he was experiencing an entirely new level of ecstasy. I had shown Todd how to guide me with his legs during our last experience down this road. By wrapping his legs around my back and pulling me to him with his legs I would know how much force and how fast to go. He took to the concept very quickly and this time, despite needing a refresher, he was insatiable! His legs were like a vice grip around my back and his arms were intertwined with mine as he pulled me to and from him with a surprising amount of force and frequency. As I looked down at him, I could see how surprised he was by his enjoyment of what we were doing. The last time we had made love this way he had one request; that I not orgasm inside of him – which for me was no easy task but I knew that he wasn’t ready for that. I knew that he would be completely freaked out after the fact and I loved him enough to let him enjoy the experience without the aftermath that would surely be the result if I had released myself inside of him. This time was different though. This time Todd had was achieving new levels of pleasure. So was I! Being inside of Todd and seeing that he was experiencing so much pleasure brought me to new levels of pleasure and excitement. Each time I got close to orgasm I would stop and hold Todd tightly. Unlike the last two times we had tried this, this time Todd began to master the concept and he pulled me to him with a great deal more force and frequency than before. For a novice he was really taking it! At one point, when I was close to orgasm, I told him that I had to stop but he told me not to. I’ve never been good at split second decisions – especially if it the choice would benefit me. In the case, as hard as it was for me, and as much as I wanted to release myself inside of Todd, I knew that he still wasn’t ready for that step. It, literally, took every ounce of control I had in me but I looked down at him and said, “No Todd. Not like this.” He told me again that he was okay with it but I said, “You’re not ready yet Todd and I love you too much to watch you go through what I know you will if I do that.” “When you’re ready for that step we can talk about it in advance and then we can go there, okay?” Once Todd came back down to reality I could see that he appreciated that I had kept my senses about me and he knew that I was right. We continued passionately making love for another half an hour and Todd continued to surprise me with the level of thrust he could – and wanted to – take. At one point he grabbed my hips and pulled me over and over to him as hard as he could, he threw his head back and cried, “Oh God Jason you are making me SOOO gay!” The sweetness and naiveté in his voice was hysterical and we both began to uncontrollably laugh. I looked down at him and said, “Um, I’m not making you anything Todd, I m only bringing it out.” We continued making love this way for a little longer before switching back to our usual roles.
When we had finished making love we decided to go to dinner. We found a nice place to eat on the wharf. During dinner I could see that Todd was struggling again. He was happy that we had made the trip but he was still fighting himself and he was terrified at the thought of Stacey finding out. I continued to remind him that I would do what I had promised and keep him safe and doing everything possible to make sure Stacey never found out. Todd talked about how he felt badly that he had not been as good of a husband as he could have been. I was certain that Stacey wouldn’t agree with him but I also saw an opportunity to talk to him about what I had been witnessing. From the moment we arrived in Fort Bragg I could feel Todd fighting himself. I had a strong feeling that he was like this in his everyday life. I explained to him that if I could sense it after such a short time, Stacey most definitely could. He wanted to be happy and totally enjoy himself with me but he was torn. He was torn between what he wanted and who he really was. I told him that he had to learn how to accept who he was or he’d never be happy. Over the course of their 25 year marriage I was sure that there had been many, many times when Stacey could feel what I was feeling. Feeling as if Todd was there but something was off –not quite right. But Stacey did not have the insight and knowledge that I had. She did not know what Todd was fighting – or that he was even fighting. My suspicion was that the only place Stacey could go when Todd was like this was to internalize it and make it about her – somehow her fault. Todd didn’t like hearing this but he knew that I was right and by now Todd had grown to completely trust me. I knew that but I also started to realize that his trust in himself was what was causing him so much torment. I knew how much he loved Stacey and I knew how he hated lying to her. It had been eating at his soul for more than 25 years. He used to tell me that there were times when he’d be standing in the kitchen or in the bathroom with her and want to blurt it out. He just couldn’t bring himself to do it. I understood that feeling all too well. Most people that are gay have gone through that at some point and it is a feeling that we never forget.
After dinner we went back to our room and I could see that Todd was exhausted. He told me that he wasn’t sure if he could perform. I told him not to worry about it. We could just lie together and snuggle. He was relieved. Of course we did start and stop a couple of times but that was fine. One of the great things about being with Todd was that it didn’t have to always be about sex. We had formed a deep connection and that was enough to sustain us both. I enjoyed being with him and he enjoyed being with me. There had been a few times when he just didn’t have the mental strength to perform sexually and I never took it personally. The amount of pressure he was under would be unimaginable to most of us so the simple act of holding him was enough to keep us connected. He has spent his entire life under this pressure in one form or another and I so desperately wished I could take it away from him.
Todd didn’t sleep very well during our night in Fort Bragg. I’d expected as much so neither did I. We managed to doze off in the wee hours of the morning but woke up at about 5:30 in the morning. I sensed his level of stress and held him tightly. I’ve never been a big fan of making love first thing in the morning but with Todd none of my usual insecurities mattered and we made love that morning. I could feel his suffering throughout the experience of our love making that morning and it was not easy for either of us. But Todd wanted to make love to me and I wanted him to do it.
When we were finished we lay in bed for about an hour more before he had to get up and get ready to drive his boom truck to meet his crew at the job site. I didn’t want him to go but I knew he had to. I was beginning to doze off as Todd was about to leave. He came to the bed, sat next to me and I could feel him looking at me. I opened my eyes and he was smiling his warm smile down at me. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re beautiful in the morning!” “Liar!” I grunted back at him. He laughed quietly and said he had to get going and then he reached down and hugged me tightly. His hugs had always been all consuming and they had also allowed me to feel his torment. He loved me but he didn’t want to, and he knew that he couldn’t fight it but he never stopped trying. Hugs from Todd, as much as I loved them, were a contradiction of emotions; I always managed to hold on to the bright light of his soul, that he didn’t believe was there, but I knew those that loved him saw. Todd kissed me gently, told me he loved me and quietly slipped out the door.
I woke up at about 9 that morning to a beautiful sunny day and the sound of the ocean crashing against the shore. We had gotten through our getaway intact. I knew that Todd was going to struggle but I also knew that he wouldn’t run. I had made him promise me that at dinner the night before. I got up and went about the business of packing up my things. I made a few phone calls and left Todd a message that I was on my way home. As usual, I couldn’t be too specific or lovey-dovey when I left a message because he was always concerned that Stacey might check his messages. I checked out of the motel and started the trip home – back to reality and my splintered marriage.
On the drive home I stopped a few times to pick up some sweatshirts and knick-knacks for myself, Chad and our daughter. I purposely didn’t buy anything in Fort Bragg for them but I did buy something special to hang in my rearview mirror as a memory of our trip. When I got back into cell range I called Todd to discover he was only about 10 minutes ahead of me on the freeway. He sounded like he was okay but I could tell that he was having a hard time. I told him that I would call him later, after I had hooked up the trailer and was on my way home. Before I hung up I asked him what had become our substitute for “I love you” and was easier for him to process. “You still with me?” I asked. “Yes… I’m still with you,” he said softly. “You know I am.” I smiled, we said goodbye and I headed to pick up my trailer.
I got to my best friend’s house and hooked up my trailer and started my return trip home. It had been a week since I was home and I found that I was looking forward to being home again. My daughter had gone to grandma’s house for a couple of days because two of my three cousins were coming to town for a husband free, child free weekend. Chad had agreed to come home that night to welcome me home and spend some time with my cousins. When I was about 20 minutes from home Todd called and I pulled over so we could talk. He seemed okay. He said that he really enjoyed our time in Fort Bragg. As we both expected, he was having difficult moments but he had been able to pull himself out of it. He really didn’t have a choice because the following day the family was taking his son to college. He knew that he had to be mentally present for that because it was a big step for his son and for his family. We talked for about half an hour. He said he’d call me on Sunday when he had some time or possibly on Saturday when they got back.
Todd called me late Saturday afternoon when I was with my cousins. He was doing okay and told me that it had been hard for him to let his son go but he was very proud of him. He said that Stacey was having a hard time and he was trying to be strong for her. Still something felt off while I was talking to him. This time it was different though. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I could tell that there was something that Todd wasn’t telling me.
Sunday morning my cousins left and I was running errands when Todd called. He was very upset. I pulled over so we could talk. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that he thought that Stacey knew something about us. I asked him to explain because I wanted to find out if he was freaking out for nothing. Todd went on to tell me that while they were driving their son to school Stacey had gotten a text message from someone asking for her email address because she needed to tell her something about Todd. Stacey didn’t know who it was and the person didn’t want to tell her. I didn’t tell Todd at the time but I knew that didn’t sound good. But – still how would anyone know anything? “Todd, calm down. You can’t freak out at stuff like this or you’ll give Stacey reason to be suspicious.” I said. “I know Jason, I’m just so scared!” “I don’t know what I would do if she ever found out!” There really wasn’t much I could other than try to calm him down. I’d never seen him quite this freaked out before so I knew that there was something very real going on. I told him to relax and just try not to let Stacey see him so freaked out. To keep himself out of sight he was busily doing work around the house. I told him he could call me at any time if he needed to. When I hung up the phone I had a bad feeling.
Todd called me Sunday evening and he still sounded upset but he was better. He said that Stacey had told him that she hadn’t heard from her anonymous friend. I managed to calm him down some more and told him that it was going to be fine. I didn’t tell him that I wasn’t so sure.