Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

I am incredibly excited to share with you the new cover for Mastering the Ride recently designed by The cover features gay adult film model Trent Diesel (@TrentDiesel69) in an image he shot specifically for this novella. 

Mastering the Ride will be released September 14th by Dreamspinner Press.

What’s it about?
The story Mastering the Ride is about Josh, a young gay submissive man who is searching for the Master of his dreams. After being released by his most recent Dom, he takes the advice of his trainer and accepts the invitation of a Dom who lives on a ranch in Montana. With his new Master, Wade, he may just find what he’s looking for…and more.

Draft Excerpt:

Spread your legs…wider…
Josh shifted his weight from one knee to the other as he widened his stance and felt the rug grate across his skin.  He balanced himself with his palms on the couch, something he never would have needed to do while sober.  The muscles in his thighs burned with tension but the pain just added to the thrill.  Steadying himself, he reached down with both hands and began with soft, brief touches.  Stroking his shaft with his right hand, he let his left brush lightly on the top of his thigh.  With his eyes closed, he could almost imagine that the hands belonged to his Master.
Not bothering to censor his needy whimper, Josh tightened the grip on his cock and rolled his balls gently in his fingers.  He felt wanton and exposed in that position, everything accessible to his Master.  It excited him to imagine the look of hunger upon the unseen man’s face as he watched his boy perform for him.
Sneaking his fingers a little farther back, he rubbed the small patch of skin just behind his tender pink sac.  In reaction, his other hand to move a little faster.  Naked and spread in the middle of his small living room, Josh worked his body, making it beg for release.  Spitting into his hand, he no longer cared about modesty or shame as his hips began to move against the rhythm of his strokes.  With slow, teasing thrusts of his pelvis he fucked his tight slick fist.
That’s it, my little whore… pump those sweet hips for me… fuck your hand… Show me how badly you want to come for me…
The words exploded in his head, and sent cascading ripples of white hot need down his spine.  Josh’s hands shook as he pulled down on his balls trying to keep himself from coming without permission. Twisting his other hand around the head of his cock on every stroke, he fought the blinding force of the orgasm that threatened to envelop him.
For what felt like hours, he begged that small part of his subconscious mind where his imagined Master dwelled.  He begged to be allowed to come.  Even though he was only really begging himself for permission, Josh savored the torment.  Edging was one of his favorite things because it made the orgasm that much more intense.  The rare times he controlled his own pleasure, he always held out as long as he could.  Just as his balls drew up close to his body and his cock became impossibly hard, he heard the voice again.
I want you to shoot in my hand boy… Come all over my fingers and I’ll let you lick them clean.
 The arbitrary thought, something that he’d never consciously considered, triggered the eruption in his groin.  With a low grunt, Josh pumped semen onto the center cushion of his worn leather couch, splotches of pearly come dotted the contrasting brown surface.  His vision swam in front of his eyes as the alcohol and the orgasm fought his consciousness.

Copyright (c) 2011 – J. P. Barnaby


All the Wrong Reasons

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Free Fiction, M/M, Short Story

Copyright (c) 2011 – J. P. Barnaby & Liz Sentry
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All the Wrong Reasons
J. P. Barnaby
Liz Sentry

“What the hell do you mean, ‘God made me this way’?” My father asked me, his face nearly purple with rage. I knew he wasn’t going to take my coming out well, but I hadn’t expected him to get so angry. “God doesn’t make freaks, this is all on you boy.” He snorted, and then walked away. Looking to my mother, hoping that she would at least have an open mind; my heart broke to see tears on her face. She shook her head slowly.
“Cameron, have you even tried dating a girl, I mean,” she started, her eyes darting around the room. I noticed with a sinking realization that they were trying to focus anywhere but on me. My own mother wouldn’t even look at me. Why had I done this now? I could have gone off to college next year and never said a word. What have I accomplished besides making my own parents hate me? Her voice dropped to a whisper “have you tried not being gay?” I almost laughed out loud at her. Had I tried not being gay? Like I fucking wanted to be someone that people despised on principle. Turning on my heel, I left the room and took the stairs two at a time, almost running to get away from them both.
They were still trying to decide whose fault it was that I turned out to be a fag. My father hurled at my mother that she coddled me too much, that she turned me into a sissy. I had caught that little tidbit just as I passed my last school picture hanging at the top of the stairs. My mother had sneered back that he never made the time to play sports with me as my hand had turned the knob on my bedroom door. I flung myself on the bed, and turned on the iHome sitting on my bedside table. A flurry of loud angry notes exploding from speakers, almost as loud as the screaming voices in my head, drowned out my parents downstairs. The loudest voice sounded conspicuously like my older sister, even though she was probably sitting in her dorm room. She was telling me that I was an idiot for thinking they would accept me. Now, I wished to God that I had listened.
Why couldn’t they understand that I was still a normal teenage boy? I still had the same homework, the same posters on the wall, even the same desire to be a computer engineer just like my dad. Looking over to my desk, I saw the on laptop in pieces across the work surface. I had been putting in a new motherboard when I got the brilliant idea that now would be a good time to come out to my parents. Rolling off the bed, I sat down at the desk and picked up the soldering iron. My dad had been the one to teach me how to do this. He always loved showing me the ins and outs of computers in the hope that one day I would be a whiz at them, just as he was. He had been right. I could take them apart, program them, network them, and pretty much do anything else I wanted with them. College was just a formality at this point. I hoped I would still get to go.
Now, they had every reason to donate my college fund to charity.
I started to hyperventilate as the impact of what I’d done settled over me. The fear rooted itself deep as I wondered if he would kick me out. Would this ostracize me from my family? How could I have been so stupid? Tossing the dismantled laptop to the floor, I turned on my own quad core PC. It had been finely tuned, and over clocked for peak performance. When everything had loaded, I logged into my chat software and immediately went invisible. There was only one person I wanted to talk to right now, and I really hoped she was on. She wasn’t. I sighed and picked up my cell phone.
It rang only once before she answered.
“Ali, are you busy? I could really use my big sister,” I said, and even I could hear the tears threatening. At that moment, I just needed someone who would listen, someone who would love me no matter what I said. Foolishly, I had thought that would be my mother. The tears started to fall as I realized how wrong I had been.
“You told them, didn’t you?” she asked with a sigh. I sniffled, wiping my tears on my sleeve and nodded. Realizing she couldn’t hear me fucking nod, I mumbled my acknowledgement. She was silent for a few minutes. The murmur of voices in the background stopped abruptly with the slamming of a door.
“Are you okay?” she asked quietly.
“I don’t think so,” I responded, the tears falling in earnest now. We talked for nearly an hour, her words of encouragement beaded on the surface of my heart, like water on the hood of a car. They could not sink in with my heart so full of despair.
I went back to school, I went back to my part time job at the library, I went back to doing everything I had done before – but there was no joy in it. My friends, the ones who were still in the dark about my sexuality, tried to console me but it was useless. They didn’t understand. No one understood. Now my parents were steadfastly ignoring me. I wasn’t sure if it was because they didn’t know what to say, or because they were disgusted with me. There was little recourse for me either way. I just continued to exist, for the sake of existing.
Then, one night nearly a month later, the storm broke.
I came home to find both of my parents sitting in the living room waiting for me. A man I had never seen before waited with them. Instantly wary, I set my bag down by the door and walked into the room. He perched on the edge of a winged back chair by the fire, while my parents occupied the couch. They all looked somewhat nervous, and I started to get a bad feeling. The man dressed in plain, almost deliberately ordinary clothes—a sweater turtleneck and jeans. I got the feeling that he wanted me to feel comfortable with him. Well, he was failing miserably, because all I felt was anxious.
“Cameron, darling, would you come and sit with us. We’d like to talk to you,” my mother said, her voice shaking slightly. Oh God, that didn’t bode well. I considered grabbing my bag and making a run for it, but where would I go? I didn’t have anyone, any home that I could go to besides this one. I sat down in the only other chair in the room. It was a straight-backed wooden thing that always made me feel like the subject of an inquisition. That feeling intensified exponentially as they all watched me.
My mother picked stiffly at the sleeves of her grey silk blouse, avoiding my eyes. I looked to my father next, but he was watching the man who had sat forward towards me. The fear bubbled in my stomach like acid, churning what little I’d eaten, making me a bit nauseated Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes for a fraction of a second, willing the fear to dissipate. It only swelled as he started to speak.
“Cameron, my name is Dr. Albert Snow,” he said, pushing the graying hair back from his wrinkled, once pointed face. “Your parents asked me here because they want me to help you,” he said, in a painfully pleasant voice.
I sat there stoically while the man, this “doctor”, spelled out the philosophies and strategies of The Center. I listened as he threw around terms such as “gender- affirmative therapy” and “cognitive-behavioral intervention”. My mind began to go numb as I realized that my parents had brought this man here to tell me that they were locking me away until I was no longer gay. They might as well have been locking me away until my eyes were no longer blue or until I grew a fucking uterus. Why was this happening? Why didn’t they understand? It wasn’t until every noise in the room stopped that I realized that my dad had asked me a question.
“I’m sorry?” I responded.
“Are you willing to undergo treatment at The Center?” My father said again with an air of finality. He had solved the problem of his gay son; all that remained was to document his time like a good worker bee, and move on to the next problem.
“Do I have a choice?” I mumbled.
“Of course you do,” my dad answered, and I felt my body relax in relief until he started talking again. “You can go to The Center and straighten yourself out, or you can go upstairs and pack.”
A week later, I kicked off my summer before college by walking into The Center with my parents flanking me like guards, and my head held in shame for what I was about to do. I listened to the director explain to my parents about rules about what I could bring with me, and about visiting hours I held little hope they would attend. I sat blankly staring at my hands wondering what lie they would be telling the people at the country club. Cameron is at camp. Cameron is participating in a computer science program at his new school, and we are just so proud. It would never be the truth. The truth was that I was selling myself to The Center for a hope at redemption with the only people in my life that mattered.
My father shook my hand, and my mother left an absent kiss on my cheek before I watched them walk out of the front door of The Center. Hand-in-hand, they abandoned me to my fate. All I could think about was the time that they took me to the Texas State Fair when I was eight. Back then, I still worshiped my parents. They were my whole world. My dad had enthusiastically talked to me about the exciting new technology they were starting to incorporate into horticulture and farming practices. I listened to every word from my hero’s mouth, not understanding a word but excited that he wanted to share it with me. Then they had indulged me with cotton candy and corn dogs. My strongest memory of that day, though, was them each taking one of my hands and swinging me every forth step between them. I could still see the love and the laughter on their faces. The image consumed me as I watched the backs of these same two people walking away from me, clutching to each other’s hands, the space for me eradicated by my own naiveté.
“Cameron, this way,” a voice behind me said. I mechanically picked up my suitcase, and followed the man down the hallway. I think he said his name was Steven. He pointed out the rec room, the cafeteria, the laundry, the various session rooms, and the hallway in which Dr. Snow’s office was located.
My mandatory sessions with him started in an hour.
Finally, we entered the dormitory wing. As we walked down the hallway, I looked into the open doors of the rooms we passed. Some boys were intently writing in journals. Others turned to give me blank looks before empty eyes returned to looking out the barred windows. No matter how hard they tried here at The Center, they could not get these particular caged birds to sing.
Some boys stepped into the hallway to gawk at the ‘new boy’, and quietly whispered amongst themselves. Their stares nearly bored a hole in me as I passed. They were stares of judgment, stares of lust, and some were even stares of empathy. None of these stares contained any measure of hope.
“This is your room, Cameron,” Steven announced pointing into the small, dank and barren room. Infested by some warped version of Noah’s Ark, there was two of everything in the bleak institutionalized room. Two desks bolted to the floor, two dressers built right into the wall, and two sets of uncomfortable looking bunks.
“How many boys to a room?” I asked him.
“It used to be four to a room when The Center opened,” he explained, gesturing to the two sets of bunks, “but now most rooms are one or two boys.” Briefly, I wondered if business was bad because they failed to meet their objectives, or if people were realizing that homosexuality wasn’t something you could cure. I never once thought that the beds were empty because of their success. “You are on your own for now. So, get yourself settled, and head to Dr. Snow’s office in an hour. Don’t forget your journal!”
Minutes melded into hours.
Hours melded into days.
Days melded into months.
I remained incarcerated in The Center, forced to endure the rigors of a hollow routine. My only solace was that classes would be starting in a few weeks and I would have to leave soon to move into the dorm. I would live permanently ensconced in the closet.
For now, I merely existed, stumbling like a decapitated corpse through the beige concrete block hallways. The familiar faces were reflections of my own confusion and despondency. Sad boys imprisoned for simply wanting to love how our hearts and minds dictated. So much for living in the land of the free and the home of the brave, apparently those ideals didn’t apply to us. Reflecting on the concessions I’d made to end up here, I wondered what promises these other boys were clinging to in order to survive the psychological battering of being told daily that you are fundamentally flawed.
Tuesday afternoon sessions are the worst, so I was already irritated as I sat in the common area waiting for it to start. That’s when I first saw him. He was lead in the front doors by a man in full Marine dress uniform and a woman in a crisp peach suit. He was wearing a pair of khaki pants and a starched stiff button down white shirt topped with a navy blazer. He shared his father’s chiseled jaw and tall, lean build. Despite his recently shaved cut, I could tell it was the same color as his mother’s tightly coiffed hair. I heard some whispers around me, but the buzz of the others and the shine of his shoes could not detract me from the purple and blue that decorated his right cheek. Involuntarily, my hand raised to my own cheek tracing on my own face where his was bruised, shocked at the thought of someone being beaten into submitting to this treatment. I was making a desperate grasp at my college fund in coming here, and here was that boy who was risking so much more. I suddenly felt very weak and a coward, as I watched the boy, head held high, march into the director’s office.
“That’s Josh Pennington,” the boy next to me whispered, noticing the direction of my stare.
“Do you know him from school?” I asked.
“No,” he laughed without humor. “He’s been here before.”
I always thought that this was a one-time deal, pass or fail. It never occurred to me that my parents or anyone else’s for that matter could continually torture us with this place until we were miraculously straight. The despair that had been building throughout my stay here, intensified until it smothered me. I couldn’t face group today, I didn’t have the strength to pretend. Nearly turning over my chair as I stood, I forced myself not to sprint as I made my way to my room.
The footsteps in the hallway alerted me that they were coming, but I had only just sat up in my bed when Stephen showed Josh Pennington into my room. After having no roommate for months, it felt a little odd to have him here. He nodded once at me, not bothering to introduce himself, and crawled into his bunk curling in on himself and staring blankly at the wall. I had the strangest urge to hold him in that moment, this boy that I had never even seen. Josh Pennington reminded me forcibly of a dog that someone had beaten for most of his life. The dog always went back to his master to lick his hand, trying to gain his favor, only to be kicked again for his trouble. This beautiful boy, whatever his failings, was broken and my despair was suddenly replaced by compassion.
In gender affirmation group therapy, affectionately referred to by most of the clientele as GAG therapy, I finally heard the new boy speak. Reserved, but articulate, he answered the questions that the group leader posed to him, but otherwise remained quiet. It was clear that he was here to appease his parents, most likely to avoid another beating. I participated as much as required, but my quiet, new roommate distracted me. He stared at his fingers while the others talked, and seemed to be subtly, yet rhythmically, tapping on his thighs. The only time he ever looked up was when I spoke, and I almost thought I saw a ghost of a smile dancing on his lips.
I didn’t see Josh again until that evening at dinner. Other boys who had served their time with him before surrounded him at the table. Apparently, he wasn’t the only repeat performer. I watched him laugh and converse with the boys. They seemed to hang on his every word, and I couldn’t blame them. He was a beautiful boy, and very charismatic. Despite his home life, he had a natural confidence. I wondered if it killed his spirit to be here and tell the lies required for escape from this prison, as it did for me. From my lonely table across the room, I saw what no one else was seeing. Though he was laughing and sharing stories, Josh was not touching one bite of his food. I have never known a teenage boy who didn’t eat, and the only time I never ate was when I was sick or upset. That is the first moment I saw through his facade.
Later that night, we both sat quietly in our room; we were both in our beds scribbling away in our journals for the next day. I was struggling with my wording, trying to say what I thought they wanted to hear while trying to stay true to myself. I was working on dancing a dance of ambiguity. Josh, on the other hand, was whipping through his with amazing speed. The speed of a person seasoned in the art of lying. Soon he was tossing his journal onto his desk and leaning back in his bed closing his eyes and humming softly to himself. Only the rumble of his stomach disrupted the dreamy melody falling from his lips. He rubbed his abdomen quickly giving me an apologetic look and I returned it with an understanding smile. I shut my book, and reached behind me into the bottom drawer of my desk for an apple, granola bar, and a pudding cup that I snuck into my jacket pockets at dinner. I tossed them across the room and onto his bed. He looked up at me in happy surprise.
“Where did you get this?” He asked looking down at the food in front of him.
“I thought I might get hungry later,” I shrugged, doing my best to pretend it was no big deal.
“You could have gotten in big trouble if you were caught,” his brow furrowed in concern as he looked from the apple in his hand before he raised his eyes to meet mine.
“Well, at least now I won’t lose a night’s worth of sleep listening to your stomach eat itself,” I said before returning to my journal.
Just as he was about to say something, there was a sharp knock at our door, Josh had the food under his pillow before the door was thrown open and Steven was standing before us. We both looked over at him, and he seemed shocked to see the serene scene in front of him.
“Everything OK here?” He asked looking at me.
“Yeeesss…” I said confused. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
Steven tossed Josh a pointed look, before speaking again, “Make sure you do your journal for tomorrow, Josh.”
“It’s done,” he said gesturing to the book on his desk.
“Well, don’t bother Cameron while he works on his,” he said pointedly.
“The only thing I might have been bothering Cameron with is my humming, which wouldn’t be a necessary torture, if you guys would allow us to have music in our room,” he said. “Unless you want to let me into the music room now?”
“You can wait for your assigned time, Josh. Nice try though,” Josh sighed and shrugged. “Good night, boys.”
“What the hell was that about?” I whispered after Steven closed the door.
“I might have been caught in a compromising position with a former roommate,” he said with a slight blush, but an unapologetic smile on his face.
“Oh,” I said and blushed a little myself.
The next few weeks were full of the same routine I had been living with the exception that I was starting to get to know my new roommate. Everything was so easy when it came to him. Our conversations flowed easily over topics such as movies and music. Beyond that, we could spend hours of comfortable silence as we read or wrote. I had never met anyone in which everything was so effortless.
Josh was also showing me the balance of beating The Center at their own game. We became a team. Both of us occasionally dropping hints about girls that the other seemed to be interested in. Mine was a girl I insisted was “just a friend” back home. Josh’s was the admissions administrator from Harvard’s School of Music. It was hard to stifle a smile every time I saw the pleased look on the staff members’ faces as they looked proud at the work they were doing when we spouted our lies. We would laugh together once we were back in our room at night at how Stephen frantically scribbled with a triumphant look when Josh said he mentioned that I received another letter from my friend “Jenny”. My sister Candy had really sent the letters. Josh really was communicating with a woman from Harvard, but it was strictly about getting the final pieces of his portfolio in before school started in the fall.
We also talked about the freedom of eighteen that was just within our grasps. Harvard had accepted Josh into their pre-law program. He wanted to advocate for those of us who were voiceless under the banner of the law, though he admitted that his parents were living under the guise that he was going into corporate law like his grandfather. He told me that he had also conversed with the head of the music school, and hoped to minor in concert piano. I couldn’t help myself as I felt the smile grow on my face as he talked of his passion for music. When I told him of my acceptance to M.I.T., and my love of computers and electronics, I saw an excited gleam in his eyes.
“You realize we will both be in Boston,” Josh said with a smile.
“I had realized that,” I said looking down at my hands before raising my eyes to meet his. “It will be nice to be starting out in a strange city with a friend.”
“I am happy that friend will be you, Cameron,” Josh said softly.
A loud knock at our door startled us, and both of our eyes went wide as Dr. Snow entered the room.
“Good evening, boys,” he said in his falsely saccharine way. “Cameron, I hear you are quite good with computers.”
“Yes, sir,” I choked out and coughed to clear my voice. “I am.”
“I was wondering if I might enlist your assistance,” he answered. “The monitor’s machine in the multi-purpose room is giving us fits. Might you be able to take a look?”
“Yes, sir,” I said getting up and following him from the room.
I sat down at the machine and did my diagnostics while Dr. Snow perched in a nearby chair until I had my answer.
“I can fix this, sir, but it will take at least an hour depending on how deep the problem is. You’ll also want to order a few parts for this machine, because this drive won’t hold up for long,” I said looking at him.
“Thanks, Cameron,” he said. “I don’t know how we can repay you for your kindness.”
At that moment, looking across the room to the corner, inspiration struck along with a sudden surge of bravery.
“Well, sir, music makes the tediousness of this task go faster. Might Josh be allowed to come down and play while I will work? I know he has been trying to finish a piece for his portfolio for Harvard,” I said innocently, then just to secure it in the way Josh was teaching me, I added. “You know…I think he is just trying to impress that admissions girl that keeps reminding him of his pending deadline. I think he is stalling so he can keep talking to her.”
“Is that so?” Dr. Snow said looking pensive, but the slight smile on his lips betrayed him.
“I think she is really impressed by him, too,” I added. “I’ve never heard him play, myself.”
“Well, I think it would be alright for him to come down, while you work, if in fact you think it will only take an hour or so,” he said standing.
“Yes, sir,” I nodded. “Shouldn’t be any longer than that, and I can install the new parts when you get them.”
“Very good,” he said walking towards the door. “Just bring the list of what is need to our session on Wednesday. I will send Josh down, so you can both get some work done.”
I turned back towards the computer and started clicking around as he walked out the door of the room. A few minutes later, a confused Josh came back in through the door, clutching his composition book.
“How the fuck did you swing this, Cameron?” He said walking towards me his face shifting from confusion to glee as he saw the stupidly wide grin on my own face.
“Southern charm, friend. Southern charm,” I said leaning back and putting my hands behind my head. He barked out a laugh, before his face got serious.
“Thanks, Cameron,” he said softly toying with the edge of his book.
“It was purely selfish. It is too damn quiet in here, and plus, I have never heard you play,” I said smiling.
“Any requests?” He asked as he walked toward the piano.
“Whatever you want to play, Liberace,” I laughed. He glared at me. “I’m teasing. I thought you were writing original stuff for your admissions.”
“I am, but I usually warm up with more familiar pieces,” he said setting up his book and settling on the bench.
“You play. I’ll listen,” I said starting back to work on my own project.
I ran tests and checked settings as Josh started with running through some scales to warm up. Part way through his warm up, Steven poked his head into the room, no doubt to spy to make sure this wasn’t all a ruse. I barely gave him a glance before going back to my work. Josh, whether feigned or not, didn’t appear to hear him. Steven, seeming satisfied with what he found, left the room. A moment later, the scales gave way to the music.
I had never heard anything more beautiful.
He had been tossing and turning for nearly an hour, and I found myself unable to sleep because of his distress. I wanted so much to just roll from my uncomfortable, institutional bunk and crawl into his. I wanted to hold him. I wanted to take away his demons. The moonlight filtered in from the high windows and illuminated his form, momentarily stilled as he rested on his back. One of his hands gripped the sheet, as if it was tethering him, as if he would truly be lost without it. The other hand rested on the smooth, soft skin of his stomach, just above where the sheet lay across the top of his sleep pants. He slept like this every night, in only a crisp, perfect pair of sleep pants that appeared to be brand new. Even in prison, he reflected on his parents and they wanted him presentable at all times. They wanted him to be a good little soldier.
The bruise on his side, the one that overlaid his barely visible ribcage, was fading now, but not completely gone. My insides burned just thinking about someone hurting him, but seeing it made me angry. It made me sad. It made me protective. No one had the right to hurt this boy, least of all for something he could not control. The injustice of it made me want to run to my parents to get them to help. Unfortunately on that score, I was in little better position. They had made it perfectly clear that this was a test, and God help me should I fail.
Josh shifted again, and a low moan escaped his lips. Whether it was from sorrow, or from pain I wasn’t able to tell, but it caused my heart to throb painfully in my chest. The temptation to hold him overpowered any other judgment, and silently, I rolled off my bunk. The linoleum floor was freezing beneath my bare feet, as I padded across to where he lay. It was only then that I saw my dilemma. He was lying in the center of the small bed prohibiting me from climbing into it without waking him. I knelt lightly next to the bed, contemplating when he started to stir again. Now that I was closer, I could him his soft whimpering, and it tore at me. The soft, nearly inaudible phrase “mom, please’, caused my throat to burn. I reached over and laid my hand on his.
He came awake with a start, and cringed from me before he got a good look at who was kneeling at his bedside. Then, our eyes locked, and that last wall fell away. He scooted to the very back edge of the bed and came up on his side to face me. I didn’t even wait for him to pull back the blankets before I tore them back and climbed in with him. Pulling him into my arms, I felt the soft scruff on his cheek against my bare chest. I didn’t have a lot of experience sexually, with guys or girls, being relatively shy and unsure about myself, but as his cheek grazed my nipple I felt a jolt of sheer need. My body flushed with heat, and I was afraid he could feel it. I didn’t want this to be about sex. I wanted it to be about comfort.
Josh had other ideas.
When our lips met, the raw emotion and devastating arousal coursed through my body with such intensity that it honestly frightened me a bit. Never in my life had I dreamed that I could feel like this about another person. Sure, I’d rubbed a few out in the shower in my time, but that was nothing compared to this. The moan escaped me before I could stop it, and before I realized what was happening, I was underneath him. The entire length of his body pressed against mine, and my breathing was now shallow and rapid around our frenzied kisses. Unable to stop myself, and shocked by my own audacity, I wrapped one of my legs around his waist. He responded by rubbing his hips against mine, as I groaned softly into his mouth.
I wanted him.
Where we were, even who we were, those things were irrelevant in this moment. My heart sang as his hand sought out mine. Our fingers intertwined without any conscious effort, without even breaking our kiss, as if they were meant to be that way. The emotion of the moment astounded me. It was like love at first sight, love at first kiss, only stronger.
It was so much stronger.
We lay, half-naked, kissing and talking and the heat of the moment never waned. I was hard as he licked the spot on my neck just below my ear, and I was hard when he told me about how he wanted to lay me across his piano, and I was hard when he rubbed my erection through my pajama pants. Yes, I was certainly hard then. He had just slid his hand beneath my waistband and was stroking me skin on skin when we heard a noise in the hall. We both froze.
The door banged open and Stephen stood there with two hard-faced guards.
“You guys need to get up and get dressed,” he sighed, “Dr. Snow wants to talk to you both. Your parents have been called.” I felt Josh shaking on top of me, jerking his hand out of my pajama pants. Slowly, we started to get off the bunk as the guards closed the door, presumably to give us time to dress. Josh ran to his dresser and started pulling out clothes, stuffing them into a duffle. The few things he had here fit easily into it.
“Josh, what are you doing?” I asked him, still terrified by the prospect of my parents finding out about what just happened. They would imprison me here through my first year of college. Rather than working with computers, I would be learning how to tow the line. The dread was so overwhelming that I had to sit down at my desk while I watched him feverishly finish packing.
“I can’t stay here, Cameron,” he panted, now starting to dress. “He will kill me.” The look on his face showed me that he wasn’t kidding, and that he wasn’t exaggerating. Whatever kind of relationship Josh had with his family, he truly believed that his father would end his life over being found in bed with me. Opening my drawers, he started to throw my stuff into his duffel as well.
Utterly dazed by the surreal actions of this desperate boy, I pulled down jeans and a t-shirt and started to dress. I didn’t bother trying to stop him from packing my stuff. He would just have to put it back when we returned to the room anyway. Okay, I’m sure they’d split us up, but the point was, we could not escape. We were trapped. If packing helped him to feel better though, I wouldn’t deny him.
I was just putting on my shoes when the door opened again.
“Josh, why do you have your stuff packed?” Stephen asked with a note of surprise. “There is no reason to think that Dr. Snow would make you leave?” Defiantly, and with more bravado than I’m sure he felt, Josh wrapped the strap for the duffel around his shoulder pushing it behind his back.
“I’m not letting you bastards get your hands on my stuff like last time. Half of it was missing by the time I got to my new room. I’m taking it with me!”
“Okay, Josh, okay,” Stephen replied, putting his hands up in front of him in a futile effort to calm Josh. “Bring your stuff if you want, just come with us. Everything will be okay, you’ll see.” Josh snorted, but allowed them to lead him from the room. I followed close behind.
When we got about half way down the hall, Josh doubled over, overcome with the grief of having to face his parents, no doubt. The guards sighed, and Stephen bent down to console him. What happened next was so fast that I almost missed it. With a quick move that could only have been learned from his military father, Josh nailed Stephen in the balls. Stephen doubled over, and Josh collapsed to the ground. The guards stood over him, and Josh rolled quickly to use the heel of each sneaker to do nail each of them as well.
Run!” he yelled into my stunned face.
Unable to believe what I had just witnessed, I scrambled after Josh as he raced down the hall. Our sneakers squeaked as we raced around the corner, and ran full tilt down the dormitory hallway. At the sound of the first guard’s voice yelling for us to stop, Josh grasped my hand and barreled through the door of the game room. He expertly navigated us in and out of the interconnected rooms of the Center. I stumbled along beside him and often behind him, but we held tight to each other’s hands as if our lives depended on it. Finally, Josh pulled us into the laundry and locked the door. We slid some large boxes in front of the doors and hid amongst the numerous machines, trying to catch our breath. Josh was soon kneeling in front of me, taking both of my hands in his.
“Come with me,” he pled looking deeply into my eyes.
“Where?” I asked my own eyes desperately searching his for the answers I was hoping he held.
“I have an aunt and uncle in Washington who will take me in. They told me to call them the next time my dad hit me. I just didn’t have time before they dragged me here. I just know they would let you stay too, Cameron, please!” Josh asked frantically checking the door as much as he begged with his eyes.
“Washington, Josh? How will we get there? We have no money,” I was desperate to believe that we could do this, but I was afraid of what would happen if we failed.
“We’ll get there,” Josh assured me cupping my face in his hands and kissing me solidly. “We have to go now.”
The voices were getting closer, and I still sat there wavering. Could I do this? Could we do this? We could hear people approaching the laundry, and both of our heads flew up to the door.
“Cameron, baby, please,” Josh begged, his eyes filling with tears. “I don’t want to leave you, but I cannot let them send me back. Please, Cameron, let’s go!”
The last part came out frantic and he got to his feet holding out his hand out to me. Just then, someone started fumbling with the door.
“It’s locked,” the loud male voice yelled out down the hall. Next, we could hear the clink of keys approaching, and I jumped to my feet staring at the door. Josh started backing towards the back wall with wide, scared eyes.
“Cameron,” he hoarsely whispered beckoning me with his hand as he continued to back towards the large window at the back of the room.
I watched as he picked up a laundry cart and hurled it through the plate glass window, kicking out the rest of the glass. I froze once again as the key scraped into the lock. Josh saw the doubt in my eyes, and his eyes saw the green expanse that spelled freedom ahead of him. He grabbed me forcefully by the back of my neck and crashed his lips to mine in one last desperate kiss that spelled out his good-byes and his apologies for the fact he was about to leave me behind. He broke the kiss and touched his forehead to mine, his eyes boring into my own, and then he was gone.
As I watched him run across the dark expanse of the grounds in front of the center, my heart nearly broke. That last kiss, the one full of quiet desperation, still burned on my lips. I had never met anyone that understood me like Josh did. Nor, anyone that loved me as he did.
There was no fucking way I was letting go of that.
“Josh!” I screamed as I climbed quickly through the destruction that used to be a window. He turned, and the smile that lit up his face made me realize that no matter where we ended up, he would always be my home.

My Brother Benjamin

Posted: March 13, 2011 in Short Story

Copyright (c) 2011 – J. P. Barnaby

The hammer shook in Jamie Duncan’s tiny hand. The job of putting it back on his father’s garage workbench was forestalled by confusion and fear. Eight years old, he did not have the frame of reference needed to process what he was seeing. The frayed and battered tennis shoes, the ones his brother Benjamin wore every single day, were suspended about a yard from Jamie’s frightened face. Surprised amusement had surrendered quickly to shocked disbelief as Jamie noticed the white socks still peeking out from below his brother’s jeans, just above those beloved red canvas shoes.

A strangled scream, drowned in his panic, erupted from him as nothing but a strained whimper. Reaching out, Jamie touched his big brother’s leg, alien in its stillness. The younger boy could not remember a time when Benjamin had ever been so still; it was almost worse than the silence. Staggering back several feet, Jamie continued to stare at the cherry colored sneakers, terrified to look any higher and see his brother’s face.

“Benji?” Jamie whispered, his voice small and scared, it was almost as if he were trying to wake his big brother, like he did after he’d had a bad dream. In his heart, the little boy wished as hard as he could. In fact, some may have even called it prayer. He wished that Benjamin would wake up and tell him that there was nothing to be afraid of.

“Benji, I’m scared.” He thought about how his brother would sigh and pretend to be mad when Jamie woke him in the middle of the night. In the end, the older boy would always pull his blankets back, inviting his little brother in so he could protect Jamie from the monsters.

Jamie looked up to see his brother’s staring, unseeing eyes and he knew that the monsters had finally gotten Benji.

Standing as high as his little feet would allow, Jamie stretched up and pulled at his big brother’s T-shirt. He wanted to make Benji mad, to make him yell – because even yelling would be better than the silent blank stare. A crumpled piece of notebook paper fell from his brother’s slackened grip and dropped to the grungy floor. Not taking his eyes from those red sneakers, Jamie bent and scooped up the note.

Slowly, he sounded out each word like Mrs. Martin had taught him. Reading the words around the damp smudges, he thought maybe his brother had been writing in the rain.

Their hatred burns like fire, scorching, consuming
The very air blisters my lungs
I can’t breathe
Acrid smoke blocks out the sun
I can’t see
Roaring Flames engulf my soul
Everything lies in ruins
There is nothing left

I’m just so tired. I can’t fight anymore.
They tell me I’m going to go to hell for being a fag and maybe I am, but it can’t be any worse than school.
I’m so sorry. Please tell Jamie that I’m sorry. I’m supposed to be there to protect him but how can I do that when I can’t even protect myself?

Clutching the note against his chest, Jamie sank to the floor and pulled his knees up trying to protect himself from the weight of his brother’s confession. He knew what it was like for kids at school to be mean. Joey Thompson had pushed him off the bars at recess a few days ago. In his child’s view, he couldn’t understand why Benji didn’t tell a teacher. They had to have teachers in the tenth grade, just like they did in third.

The reality of his brother’s death became more real for Jamie as he held the note in his hand. He wanted to run, he wanted to tell someone, but he just couldn’t leave his brother alone. In that note Benji sounded so scared. Benji would never have left Jamie if he were feeling scared.

Jamie continued to sit on the cold concrete floor below his brother’s body and waited for someone to come.

Amazon | Goodreads | Evernight Publishing

'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas: Manlove Edition

What is the deepest desire of the man who fulfills the wishes of the world?   For millennia, the one known as Father Time has selected, each new century, a man to serve in the beloved role of Santa Claus.  For the last century, Matthew Carpenter had been that chosen man.  He agreed to serve, as all before him had done, with the promise that when his time was over he would be rewarded with the deepest desire of his heart.   One hundred years of being one of the most revered men on earth and he would be given the thing he wanted most in the world.

The problem was, even with a century to ponder the question, Matthew found that he had no idea what it was that he wanted. .gr_reviews_container {width: 540px;font-family:verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;}.gr_reviews_header {font-size: 1.1em;padding: 5px 0px;border-bottom: 1px solid #d7d7d7;color: 000000;}.gr_review_container {font-size: 12px;border-bottom: 1px solid #d7d7d7;padding: 5px 0px;color: 000000;}.gr_branding {float: right;color: #382110; font-size: .9em;text-decoration: none; font-family:verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;}.gr_branding:hover { text-decoration: underline;color: 000000;}.gr_reviews_showing {color: #d7d7d7;font-size: 10px;}.gr_more_link {font-weight: bold;}

Amazon | Goodreads

The Perfect Tree (The Forbidden Room)

Master Ethan has decided that his boy Jayden should have a nice traditional Christmas for the first time in their relationship. What would Christmas be without the perfect tree?

This homoerotic short story contains BDSM, homosexual sex, and other adult content.

.gr_reviews_container { width: 540px; font-family:verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;}.gr_reviews_header { font-size: 1.1em; padding: 5px 0px; border-bottom: 1px solid #d7d7d7; color: 000000;}.gr_review_container { font-size: 12px; border-bottom: 1px solid #d7d7d7; padding: 5px 0px; color: 000000;}.gr_branding { float: right; color: #382110; font-size: .9em; text-decoration: none; font-family:verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;}.gr_branding:hover { text-decoration: underline; color: 000000;}.gr_reviews_showing { color: #d7d7d7; font-size: 10px;}.gr_more_link { font-weight: bold;}


Posted: January 1, 2011 in Free Fiction, M/F, Short Story

Copyright (c) 2010 – J. P. Barnaby

As she watched his fingers flow gracefully, effortlessly across the keys, his back arched lightly and he allowed his head to fall back, lost in the low cadence of the piece. His closed eyes made his youthful, stunning features appear almost peaceful, something that only happened as he found that perfect place that was his music, or as he slept. The melody was soft, almost haunting in its depth as it cascaded through the suffocating confines of his small bedroom. Long, slender fingers caressed the keys, each delicate note infused with a passion from him that very few ever saw. She considered herself blessed to have such a privilege, because it almost seemed as if his hands moved independently of each other with amazing dexterity. A rich crescendo wrapped around her as she stood motionless in the doorway sending a chill racing through her. Or maybe the chill was inspired by the long, bare lines of his back that tapered into the slim hips half hidden by his well worn jeans. His feet were bare, as they always were when he worked and cuffs of the long jeans were tucked under his heels as he worked the pedals on the floor. The way he rocked almost imperceptibly in perfect rhythm with the notes as he played was not quite sexual, but it made her tremble nonetheless.
Everything about him made her weak.
Her fingers clenched reflexively on the doorframe as she fought not to cross the mere half dozen feet that separated them and push his long hair from his eyes. For years, she had joked with him about putting it in a barrette because she was almost desperate to feel its silky texture beneath her fingers. With his head back the way it was, only a small part of his bangs covered his closed eyes. The very ends touched the deep shadows that seemed to be a permanent addition to his beautiful features while the rest was tucked back behind his ears showing much more of his porcelain skin. His pale face highlighted by a slight flush of his cheeks, and the soft pink of his tender lips, the bottom one held between his teeth as he concentrated on his work.
Briefly, she wondered if he ever watched her while she wrote and then brushed aside the thought almost immediately. Why would he watch her, there was nothing special about her? From the long, brown hair that was either always too curly or too straight, her deep set hazel eyes always held a measure of sadness, and her almost boyish frame, she was thoroughly ordinary.
A soft breeze blew though the window next to his desk, moving the curtain and allowing a ray of early morning sun to fall across his face. Sensing the change, his eyes opened and the imperfect rays only served to offset the intensity of his majestic cerulean eyes. A veritable tempest of emotion raged through them as she stared, breathless.
It was like looking into the face of God.
The music abruptly stopped, and she heard a few mouse clicks as he saved his work onto the state of the art computer that sat next to his keyboard, a thin cable connecting the two which allowed him to record his sessions.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you standing there,” he said quietly turning in his desk chair in order to face her. His gaze remained on her, not quite looking at her, as the storm continued to rage in his eyes. The way his shoulders were curling in on him, she could see that he felt extremely vulnerable, as he generally did when he composed.
“I didn’t mean to bother you…I love…listening to you play,” she replied, stammering a little under the intensity of his gaze. But, as she watched, his face slowly closed, and then he grinned that fake happy grin that he wore for everyone else, the one that hid the pain he wanted no one to see. Her heart sank. She wished that just once he would open up to her. They had lived together for four years, attending the Academy of Fine Arts together – she in the literature program while he was in music. At first, she had been a little concerned, as were her parents, that she had been assigned a male roommate, but as time passed they found that, at least domestically, they were perfectly matched. After that first year, they found an apartment together where they would remain until graduation. As they were both seniors, that time was desperately running short.
“So, what are you making me for breakfast?” he joked, the mask perfectly in place. It broke her heart to see it, and she looked away fixing her gaze on the perfectly crafted lines of the hardwood floor beneath her bare feet.
“Come on, I’ll make you some pancakes, we have a little while before class,” she said, and something of the pain she felt must have come through in her voice.
“Hey,” he said quietly, walking over to take one of her hands in both of his. She felt a hum go through her fingers and up her arms, leaving her with goose bumps. It was as if his hands resonated with some secret power, a power that allowed him to create perfectly orchestrated music from nothing. Wildly, she thought about how those hands would feel over different parts of her skin. “Is everything okay?”
The sweet sincerity in both his soft voice and gentle touch brought a lump to her throat. Not meeting his eyes, she nodded, working hard to stem the flood of emotions that was threatening to burst from her.
“You know,” he said after a moment, and she could hear the forced levity in his tone. “I checked the schedule, and I’m pretty sure it’s my day to be morose.” Her gaze turned questioning, and he merely looked over at a calendar hanging on the wall under his Breaking Benjamin poster that had been signed by the band. She followed his look and saw with a sick feeling that it was the first of the month. His father called him on the first of every month for an update on how his money was being wasted by his disappointment of a son on his little music hobby. For the first year that they had lived together, she thought that her roommate was gay because of all of the slurs that his father hurled at him during his monthly visits.
Fag-boy, sissy, pansy…
Since they’d gotten an apartment, and his father could no longer publically humiliate him, the man had started to settle for monthly phone calls instead.
It explained perfectly the haunting melody he’d been playing that morning.
Without a word, she pulled her hand from his and slid her arms up around his neck letting her forehead rest in the crook of his neck. She let herself indulge in his spiced infused with a tiny hint of citrus scent as he wrapped his arms around her waist. Standing motionless, afraid even to breathe and break the spell, she felt the heat of his naked chest through the thin tee shirt she wore. When the mask was on, he was very affectionate and flirty, but this felt altogether different.
This was just for them.
When he finally pulled back, he pressed a light kiss to her forehead and moved down the hall, no doubt to take a shower. She stood motionless, replaying the feeling of his lips on her skin, of his arms around her, over and over again. It wasn’t until she heard the shower stop that she finally went to the kitchen to start breakfast.
During her first morning break, after the poetry class that she detested, she called the machine at their apartment to see if the bastard had called yet. She was worried about her friend, he’d seemed so withdrawn when he had left for class. The insults and constant negativity were starting to affect his music as well as his grades. He had been spending more and more time on the roof of their building, isolating himself, and she knew that it was so he wouldn’t have to keep up the pretense of being happy and social. Sometimes at night, when he thought she was asleep, she would hear him throwing things in his room or screaming into his pillow. He was screaming so fiercely that even though their beds were only separated by a single thin wall, he didn’t hear her tears for him.
It was her late day, and she didn’t want to think about what state he might be in when she finally arrived home. Last month, the first had fallen on a Friday and he had gone drinking after the call he received from the old man. She didn’t know if he was trying to prove something to his father, or to himself, but when he came back to the apartment, he brought a girl with him. Cold and alone, she was already in bed when she heard the soft titters of a decidedly female voice from the other side of the wall. Bile rose in her throat as she heard the girl’s muffled moans. In her mind she imagined him kissing some perfect looking blond sorority girl, with long slender legs wrapped around his waist.
It sickened her that rather than turning on some music and drowning them out, she’d listened, desperate to hear his voice. Without consequence to her own fragile heart, she wanted to know what he sounded like when making love, something that she would never hear in her own bed. Despite her nausea, she found that the erotic sounds of the girl’s nasally voice, and his gruff moans aroused her. Putting her hand against the cold drywall, it was the closest that she would ever get to touching him.
She sobbed harder that night than she could ever remember having cried before.
Hour after hour, class after class, she was distracted by thoughts and memories of him. She prayed that his father would be too busy ruling the world to call this month, but she knew that he was unfailingly predictable in that regard. Of course she wondered if his mother had lived, would the woman have put a stop to the harassment of her son? There wasn’t much she knew about the situation except that the woman had died just before he had started college, and that he missed his mother terribly.
When her last class finally ended, she called home to see if he wanted Chinese take-out. He didn’t answer. She sighed, and picked up the food anyway before heading back to the apartment they shared. Pulling in behind his black jeep, she was relieved to see that he was home rather than at a bar picking up another random girl. She climbed the two flights of stairs to their door, surprised to find it unlocked.
“Hey, I brought food, are you hungry?” she called through the stillness creeping through the apartment like a physical presence. The quiet was unnerving; he always had some kind of music playing. She set the food on the counter and quickly went to his room. It was empty. She checked her room and the bathroom, they were empty as well. The apartment wasn’t big enough for him to hide. He simply wasn’t here, though his wallet and keys were on the counter. An ice cold shard of fear slid into her stomach as she took off at a run for the door and then the stairs that led to the roof.
At first, she didn’t see him as she scanned the roof quickly in the failing light. She searched around the dusty air ducts and padlocked power stations, her panic threatening to consume her. Heedless of the beautiful sunset view afforded to her, she continued to search the dingy space. When she reached the opposite side of the roof, her heart caught in her throat. He was sitting on the waist-high safety wall with his legs dangling over the other side. It would take nothing more than a nudge to make him fall. With her heart pounding in fear, she walked quietly to where he sat.
“Hey,” she said quietly trying not to startle him. He didn’t say anything; he just kept looking down at the street below. As she moved to stand next to him she saw that his face was completely blank, and that scared her more than anything. Resting a hand tenderly on his shoulder, she felt that he was shaking, though his tee shirt and jeans were more than adequate for the warm night. He didn’t move, he didn’t speak, he simply stared.
She made her decision in an instant.
Taking his hand, she pulled in an effort to get him to come off of the ledge. After an initial resistance, he turned slowly and planted his feet on the ground, standing before her, his face still blank. She led him inside and back down to their apartment, but rather than stopping at the table to eat or taking him to his own room, she took him to her bedroom. Laying her hand on his cheek, she waited until he looked down at her. She noticed with great relief that the mask hadn’t returned, that he was allowing himself to feel.
“Do you trust me?” she asked in a whisper, and almost immediately, he nodded. Letting her hands slide purposefully over his chest, feeling his nipples harden under her touch and over his abdomen feeling his muscles tighten, she pulled his tee shirt out from where it was tucked into his jeans. He lifted his arms, allowing her to pull the shirt from his body without argument. It seemed he was beyond that, simply craving the affection and the comfort that it might bring him. She knew that was all it would mean, but she couldn’t bring herself to stop, to deny him what he needed most.
After unbuckling his belt, she opened his jeans, and pulled them down along with his boxers. He stepped out of them numbly as she wondered if it was his trust in her, or his pain that made him so compliant. God, he was beautiful. It was the first time she had ever seen him nude, and heat flashed though her as her cheeks flushed. With her face level with the curve of his hip, she wanted to kiss him, lick him, and suck him until he was as aroused as she was. But it wasn’t about her. It was about him. She had no idea what had transpired in the conversation with his father, but she was determined to bring him back from that dark place.
“Lie on the bed, on your stomach,” she urged and he complied without emotion or comment. As he lay motionless on her bed, she couldn’t help but think about the fact that he was finally there. He was naked, and in her bed as she had dreamt about for so fucking long. Her heart ached at the lack of joy in it.
Sitting on the side of the bed, close enough so that she could feel his body heat against her hip, she opened the bottom drawer of her nightstand. Pulling the thin, sheathed rope and a box of condoms from its depths, she set the box on the surface, and unfurled the rope. He still had his face buried in his arms as she laid the rope out next to him.
“Put your arms over your head,” she whispered and he looked up at her, noticing what she held. His eyes held hers, and his gaze was imploring as he reached up and grabbed the slats of her headboard. Resting his head on the pillow, he was facing her now, but his eyes were closed. He would have looked almost peaceful if not for the pain still radiating from every line in his face. She took his left hand and rested it on her thigh as she wrapped the rope around it easily. Knotting it firmly, she took his other hand and using the longer loose end of the rope, bound his right wrist to his left. When he was secure, she left a lot of slack in the rope as she bound the loose end to the headboard. He would be able to move his bound wrists, but not separate them.
She laid her hand on his shoulder, watching for any signs of distress from him, but he was motionless. Sliding down the bed carefully, she bound his ankles to the footboard in exactly the same manner. She took one quiet moment to run her fingers lightly through his hair knowing that she would never have the chance to do so again. Then, quickly pulling off her own clothes with absolutely no flourish or pretense, she stood over him feeling more naked than she had ever been.
Grabbing his discarded jeans from the old second-hand rug that separated her from the cold hard wood floor, she pulled his leather belt from its loops. Praying that he would not hate her for what she was about to do, she doubled the worn leather in her right hand. Placing one steadying hand on his lower back, she swung the belt feeling her heart break at the loud cracking sound and the subsequent cry of pain. He didn’t ask her to stop, he didn’t protest with either word or movement. He simply lay there and let her beat him.
After the fifth strike with the belt, he started to scream.
He turned his face into the pillow, and screamed with each snapping blow. She knew that she wasn’t exacting enough force for that kind of reaction, but the sound still ripped through her. It was raw and anguished. Tears streamed down her face as she watched his slim hips writhing on the bed, as his cries of grief and loss were torn from his throat. She continued with even measured strokes, watching his skin flush under the relentless torrent of blows. His soft skin trembled, relenting around the unforgiving leather of the belt.
Her arm ached, and just as she was finally about to concede, he began to sob.
At long last, she had broken through.
The belt hit the floor with a clatter as she crawled onto the bed next to him, his body heaving with the weight of his pain. Pressing her body close to his, she stroked his back, his hair, and his tormented buttocks.
“That’s it, baby, please just let it out…” she begged, moving her hand up to stroke his long hair as his face remained buried in the pillow as it if could absorb his anguish. For a long time, she held him, trying to console him. Eventually, as the room receded into full darkness, he began to calm and soon had stopped crying.
“He told me that once I graduated, he never wanted to see me again. The only reason he paid for college was because it was my mother’s dream,” he confessed, his voice cracking under the strain. “I’m alone now,” he whispered as if he were afraid to say it aloud.
“You’ll never be alone,” she whispered back as she kissed the back of his neck gently, lifting his hair off the nape. He tilted his head slightly, giving her more room and she took that as a sign of acceptance. She moved her lips down over his shoulder, covering it with feather light kisses.
“I have wanted to touch you like this for so long,” she murmured into his skin, and she felt him lift his head to look at her, but she couldn’t bear what she might find there. She begged silently for him to just give her that one night, it didn’t matter that the dawn would destroy her. He moaned softly, whether at her confession or her ministrations she wasn’t sure, but she trailed a line of kisses down his spine. A small keening whimper burst from him as her lips trailed over the soft skin of his buttocks, still suffused with heat from the belt. The sound quickly turned frustrated as he figured out that he couldn’t move into her touch, couldn’t spread his legs. He could do nothing, but accept her sensual caresses. His muscles clenched and relaxed, over and over, almost shuddering under her careful lips.
“Please…” he moaned, and that one word caused a wild spasm of need though her belly and her already ripening sex. Trailing one trembling hand along his inner thigh, she watched as his hips thrust down into the bed. He was so turned on by what she had done that he was stroking himself on the soft down comforter beneath him. She watched him for a long moment, his flexing hips, the way his hands clenched into tight fists around the edge of one of her pillows, but mostly she listened to the out of control sounds coming from his writhing form.
Untying his ankles quickly, she helped him to roll onto his back. She could not bring herself to remove the bindings from his arms for fear that he would leave. With his head resting comfortably on a pillow, she looked her fill of him, from his red swollen eyes to his fully erect sex. Straddling over his thighs, she ran her tongue slowly up his side causing him to buck beneath her. She smiled lightly as she used her tongue to deliver barely there flicks around his hardening nipple.
“Oh God…” he whimpered straining his hips up, stroking her tender stomach with his thick erection as she pulled the bud between her lips. With maddening slowness she kissed along his pectorals moving to the other side of his chest to lavish the same attention on his other nipple. He began to squirm against the bed in earnest, completely unable to contain himself. It brought her arousal to new heights, heights she had never reached with anyone.
Turning her head to the side, she caressed his chest with her soft cheek and her hair as she slid slowly down his shaking body. Kissing along his side, and down over his hip she almost painfully avoided the aching erection straining towards his stomach. Pinning his hips to the bed, she licked and grazed kisses over his pelvic bone and heard the headboard straining as he pulled against the rope binding him to it. Looking up briefly, she saw that he had his bottom lip between his teeth and his head was pressed back into the pillow.
She smiled at the sight before running her tongue gently along the crease between his inner thigh and his hip. His erection grazed her cheek, and she moved closer, peppering his pubic area with kisses, burying her lips and her nose in the coarse hair. God, he smelled like spice and musk and sex. She reached down and fingered one of her own nipples as his whimpering got louder. The sounds were so raw, so primal, that she couldn’t stand to tease him any longer. Flattening her tongue, she ran it along the underside of his erection from the base to the head. He bucked and cried out as if he were going to come right then, but instead she captured the head between her lips and sucked.
“Oh, my God…” he cried and she opened her mouth wide and once again buried her nose in the hair at the base of his sex, only it was embedded in her throat. She could feel his muscles strain as he tried not to move, tried not to thrust into her mouth. His balls tightened in her small hand as she rubbed them lightly.
His head rolled back and forth on the pillow as she looked up at him. Eyes tightly closed, every muscle in his neck and shoulders was straining as her head bobbed lightly, stroking him with her lips and her tongue.
“Please…I can’t…” he moaned as his hips continued to grind back against the bed. She pulled away looking up at him.
“Untie me…Please…” he implored, and she felt her throat burn with the rejection. She knew it was too good to last, that he could never want her. Crawling up the bed, her hands shook as she untied the knots around his wrists, she would worry about getting the rope off the bed later. Not looking at him, she started to get out of bed when he grabbed her hand and, scooting lower in the bed, pulled her to straddle his lap as he sat cross legged on the bed.
“I wanted to touch you too,” he whispered and ducked his head to take one of her nipples into his mouth. She took full advantage of the position and drove her hands into his silky hair, holding his mouth to her breast. Crying out in pure unbridled joy, she felt his arms move around her back as he cradled her.
As much as she wanted to prolong the moment, she could no longer wait to have him inside of her. Snatching a condom off of the bedside table, she ripped it open and flung the packaging onto the floor. Moving back just a bit, his hands fell to her hips and she rolled the latex down his rigid length. With his hands still on her slender hips, he helped her to impale herself, sinking down until he was sheathed fully in her tight, warm sex. He held her there as his eyes closed as she reveled in the feeling of their union, afraid that her heart might burst.
Her arms went around his shoulders while his went around her waist, and he pulled her as close to him as he could. Gently, she rocked back and forth, causing him to thrust into her, but allowed them to remain as close as two people could get. His face was pressed against her breasts, covering them with light kisses as they made love. It was more than she could have ever dreamed.
Soon the sensations, the sheer joy of their lovemaking, overloaded them. He dropped his face to her shoulder, and she rested her cheek on top of his head never breaking their perfect rhythm. He shifted his position slightly, and then his length was stroking that tiny bundle of nerves deep inside her that would be her undoing. Faster and harder she rode him, using her legs and her hold on his shoulders as leverage. Her sex was clenching around him, tightening until she thought she would scream.
Her climax hit her with such intensity that for a moment she forgot to breathe. With her head thrown back, she clutched at him, all measure of decorum forgotten. He drove up into her, trying to prolong the feeling, but as all of her muscles tensed, including those around his sex, which was already ready to burst, he came, exalting her name as if in prayer.
They stayed like that, joined in the most intimate of ways as their breathing began to slow.
She knew that their time was over, and like any fairy tale, the magic was about to end.
Therefore, it surprised her when he lifted her slightly and pulled the blankets over them both after discarding the condom in her bedside waste basket. Spooning behind, and wrapping both arms around her, he sighed lightly into her hair. She reached back and stroked his hair as his lips found her ear and his whisper filled her soul with joy.
“You are my family now.”


Posted: January 1, 2011 in Free Fiction, M/M, Short Story
Copyright (c) 2010 – J. P. Barnaby

It wasn’t until I was five years old that I knew, without any measure of doubt, that I was different.
My father was a large, rather jovial man, a man that I looked up to and admired more than any other in my life.  He just wasn’t particularly fast.   My fifth birthday came in the spring of 2000 with a glory that belied the nondescript sky and the post-snow pre-summer day.  I remember it clearly so many years later because it was not just the day I realized that I was different, but it was also the first time I ever saw my father fail.  Of course, parents were human and I would see it again, just as he would see me fail from time to time, but at five my parents were still super-human.  I find that poetic now. 
It was mid-April, and the snow had finally stopped falling onto our small down of Pedukka, Illinois.  The leaves were coming back to the trees, the grass had been revealed, and even the air seemed to give off a greenish glow.  Spring had finally come, and with it came a beautiful red bicycle.  It wasn’t like the old bicycle sitting in the garage with its comically painted figures on the cardboard stuck into the front of the handlebars.  The bike, that despite my father raising the seat as high as it would go, still bruised my knees as I rode.  This new and glorious machine was sleek and stylish, made of steel and chrome, and high gloss paint.  There was just one thing missing, well, a matching set of things really.
Training wheels.
My old bike, for all of its failings, was equipped with sturdy, reliable, indispensible little wheels on either side of the back wheel.   They, more than my own developing sense of balance, kept my smooth, unblemished skin from coming in direct and violent contact with the sidewalk that stretched for miles in front of our house.  That one small detail, that one minor anomaly kept me from my new gift for nearly a week.  A week of side-long glances at the object of my dreams and desires as I sat on the back patio, a week of my friends asking if they could ride my new shining machine, and a week of my father becoming increasingly exasperated with me.
“It’s time for you to be a big boy, Scotty,” he said on the Saturday following my birthday as we sat on the back porch.  ‘You’re going to be starting school once summer is over, and you will be able to ride your bike there, don’t you want that?”  Miserably, I nodded.  “Well, none of the other kids have training wheels on their bikes at school, son.  You need to learn to ride it properly, or you can’t take it to school.”
The next day my dark brown curls were security locked under a new plastic helmet, and my wide green eyes were watching my father give me instructions as we stood under the old maple tree next to the sidewalk.  I was tall for my age, so even on the new bike, so my father had to raise the seat an inch or so.  I had on a pair of my older jeans, a silent expectation that I would fail.  At least they and the old Incredible Hulk sweatshirt that I wore would give me some measure of protection from the unforgiving concrete. 
A few of the neighborhood kids stood scattered around in front of their houses conspicuously held a forgotten Frisbee or a plastic sword limply at their sides as they watched me.  Feeling like I stood in a huge and well-focused spotlight, I lost track of what my father had been saying until he lifted the new big bike onto the sidewalk with the handlebars facing the longer stretch of pavement.  Ours was just the fifth house on the street, so pointing toward Lake St. I had miles of concrete in which to figure this out.
“I won’t let go until you’re ready,” my father was saying as he held on to the back of my seat.  Reluctantly, and with more than a little trepidation, I got onto the bike.  My knuckles were nearly white from the pressure of holding on so tightly.  My hands trembled slightly with fear and excitement, and it felt like the whole bike was vibrating from it.  In that moment, I felt my determination, my sheer willpower to make my father proud solidify into a tight ball in my chest, and I felt warmer.  It wasn’t the kind of warm you felt on a hot day when you needed the sprinklers to keep you cool, it was a warm that started from the inside and worked its way out.
“Are you ready?” my father asked me with a quiet determination of his own.  I wanted to just nod, but I felt like some kind of verbal affirmation was required here.  This was a rite of passage; it was a huge step in every boy’s life.  My mother standing inconspicuously to the side snapping image after image on her old digital camera was proof of that.
“Yes, dad,” I told him quietly, closing my eyes and taking a deep breath.
And then, I was flying.
I rode fast and hard down the expanse of sidewalk with my father right beside me, his huge hand holding onto the back of my seat, steadying me.  It was amazing!  My knees didn’t bang into the handlebars, and I felt myself going faster than I ever could with the much smaller wheels of my kiddie bike.  I looked back at my father, just a glance to see the pride in his eyes as he ran next to me.  His face was flushed and sweating trying to keep up with me, and I remember clearly the moment that he no longer could. 
My father’s eyes widened with fear and apology as his hand slid off of the back of my seat.
The panic swelled inside of me as I watched him bent over clutching his side, and then I turned back to the sidewalk before me to face the unknown.   The handlebars wobbled a bit, but I continued to remain upright as my mind blocked the idea of just hitting the brakes.   I kept going, foot by foot along the sidewalk, the fear and panic being slowly replaced with something else entirely.  My father had let go, and I hadn’t fallen.  I was doing it!  I was riding without training wheels!
Only belatedly did I realize that I was riding right towards Lake Street.
“Scotty, stop!  Walter catch him!” my mother called from behind me, and I heard my dad running again.  Still, I couldn’t make my mind work through the excitement and the fear.  I turned my head to look behind me, almost imploring my father to catch me.  If I stopped pedaling, would I fall?  What did I do?  The decision was made for me in an instant when my front wheel, which had drifted off course as I watched my father, lodged in the crack between the sidewalk and the grass and the bike stopped instantly.
Unfortunately, I didn’t stop with it.
I heard my mother’s scream as I was launched over the handlebars of the new bike.  It was strange how time seemed to slow as I was airborne.  I saw the horror of my father’s face, and saw my mother running from much farther behind him.  I remember being impressed at how far I’d ridden just before my helmet covered head slammed into the ground, and I heard the tremendous crack of my arm breaking.  I slid to a stop about ten feet from my bike and started to scream. 
I screamed from the pain, and the fear, and the shock of my father’s inability to protect me as he said he would.
“Scotty, can you hear me?  Let me see?”  My father’s voice was so close, and I felt him pull at my arm and the scream came again ripping through my throat.
“Walter, is he okay?” my mother’s voice asked, and I felt tender hands unsnapping my helmet.
“I think he broke his arm, and his leg is bleeding,” he said above the sound of my crying.   My whole body felt like it was on fire, but it was especially hot in my right arm and my right leg where I had landed on the pavement.  As the feeling in my arm and leg grew hotter, the pain became sharper and more focused.  I screamed again, and I felt my father lift me from the ground and carrying me quickly back to our house. 
“What about my bike?” I whimpered as the pain peaked, and then started to subside.  The heat seemed to have peaked too because I didn’t really feel it as sharply anymore.  It was more like a warm glow on the right side of my body now.
“Don’t worry about that now,” my mother said, her soft brown hair pulled back from her face, except for the small tendrils that were stuck to her damp forehead and neck.  “Let’s just get you inside.”   My father cradled my arm tightly against his body as he hurried across our yard towards the almost cottage-like country blue house where I spent my youth. 
Of course, the house is gone now, destroyed in the fire set to cover my parents’ murder.
Gently, my father carried me through the doorway and set me down on the burgundy leather couch that was the center piece of the room.  I rested my head against the arm of the couch and my father positioned my legs on the cushions.
“Carefully, Walter,” my mother urged, tears streaming down her pale face.  It scared me, to be honest, because I don’t remember ever having seen my mother cry before.  Was I that badly injured?  I could see the blood on the torn and frayed knee of my jeans, but there was no pain.  The pain had gone away with the heat.
“Mama, it’s okay, it doesn’t hurt anymore,” I told her, hoping that this would stop her tears. Unfortunately, it just made the situation much worse.  My mother gasped, and slapped her hands over her mouth.  My father looked back at her and held her gaze for a long moment before pulling a pocket knife from his jeans.
“He must be in shock,” she whispered to him.  “I’ll get him a blanket.”  She ran over to the hall closet and pulled down a large quilt.  I wasn’t cold; on the contrary, the warm was still glowing a little inside me.  She held on to the blanket while my father sliced my jeans opening the hole that had been ripped out during my fall.  He pulled back the layer of fabric, and then he looked at my mother.  Ripping the jeans down the whole length of my leg, he searched my skin and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  Then, he took my right arm gently in his hands and moved it.  I just looked at him, trying to figure out what he was doing.  Carefully, he helped me remove my t-shirt, and I looked down to see that everything looked the way it always did.  So, why did my father look so frightened?
“Jeanette?  Jeanette his arm was broken, his leg was all cut up and bleeding, I saw it.  There’s still blood on his jeans, but not a scratch on him!  What the hell is happening!?!”
~ – ~
It wasn’t until I was eleven that I noticed just how different my parents treated me both from the way they had been towards me, and from the way other parents were with their children.  It was almost like I was a bomb they thought might go off at any moment.
I wasn’t allowed to take gym, I wasn’t allowed to go outside for recess, I was treated like an intricately spun glass antique.  They explained it to the school administration as some kind of calcium deficiency which was a rare condition that my father’s brother, Doctor/Uncle Marvin, confirmed in a note.  The condition, or so they explained to the school, caused my bones to be extraordinarily susceptible to fracture.  As such, I was imprisoned in the school office for each gym period and each recess.  I never understood this, but I was forbidden to speak about it to anyone.  That wasn’t a problem since no one at school would talk to me anyway.  Once I was identified as different, labeled as outside the norm, I became a social pariah.
It was the loneliest time of my entire life.
My parents never talked to me about why they had caused me to become a social outcast.  Of course, I know now, but then, it was a level of confusion that my adolescent life really did not need.  I had figured out that their erratic behavior must have something to do with my bike accident, the one that I’d had when I was five.  Walter and Jeanette Green became completely different people after that day, and I never saw my beautiful red bike again.
For years, I was alone, I was angry, and I was scared – until I met Andy Weber.
Andy Weber moved to our small Illinois town near the end of our sophomore year of high school.  His cheap, worn clothes, the old ratty backpack he carried, and most of all, his dark personality caused him to be almost instantly shunned by the self-important student body of Davidson High School.  I liked him instantly.  I liked the way he didn’t bow to the peer pressure, or the way he stood up to the teachers when he didn’t agree.  He was everything that I wasn’t, and I never understood how we became friends.  It must have been our shared unpopularity.  As much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself, I also liked the way his sandy hair fell over his eyes when he was writing, or the way his muscled arms flexed, barely obscured by his t-shirt when he put on his almost retro styled backpack.   The most haunting thing about Andy though, was his eyes.  It was almost like he’d lived an entire lifetime behind those deep brown eyes.  I think it was his eyes that became my downfall. 
Slowly, without any real conscious effort, we began to gravitate toward each other.  We sat together in classes, we sat together at lunch, and we looked out for each other.  After a few weeks of this, we started to become friends, and I found that his social persona was just that.  Andy Weber, the real Andy Weber, was a nice guy with a good heart.  I promised him faithfully that I would never tell.
“My mom died when I was three,” Andy had confided in me once as we sat on his bed looking through a few of the hundreds of comic books that he had accumulated over his young life.  I was never really interested in comic books, they weren’t my thing, but I had hundreds of mystery novels stacked in my room so I could relate to his love of reading.  It seemed he had the same goal I did when I read, to escape the constant barrage of insults at school, the overbearing parents, and generally just our miserable lives.  My sticking our face in a book, or a comic book, we could pretend even for a little while that we were someone else.  We could pretend that we were someone exciting, someone that people admired.
As strange and controlling as my parents were, I don’t know how I could live without either one of them.  They were my whole world up to that point.  My mom took me to school and picked me up, even though we lived less than a mile away.  My father helped me with my homework and played catch with me in the backyard, surrounded by the privacy fence.  When I asked him once why we couldn’t play catch at the park like my friends at school, he just said that he didn’t want me to get hurt. 
Maybe it was because of all of the time I had on my hands, time in my teenage years that should have been spent in social activities with my friends, but I started to get restless.  As a last ditch effort to finally break hold of my parents outrageous grasp, I convinced them to let me join the chess club.  It was just a few nights a week, I reasoned, and chess wasn’t exactly a contact sport.  In time, they relented, but I found no more acceptance among the geeks than I did among anyone else.  So, I started spending the time that I was supposed to be at chess club at Andy’s.  My parents would never have allowed this, of course, because Andy’s father worked nights.
For a while, we were alone, and I was free.
It was during these nights, alone with Andy, that I found my true self.
As I look back now, I know that those small hours of freedom cost me so much more than I had been willing to pay.
I still remember how that horrific night started, like it was a stained glass image reflected on my mind by the bright flame of my own self-hatred.   I had been at Andy’s, like every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night, because that’s when the chess club met.   It was the night I was going to finally tell Andy how I felt about him.  Sexuality was something that we never talked about.  He didn’t tell me about girls he liked, and I never told him about guys I liked, but I just got the feeling from him that what we had together was something more than just friendship.
“Andy, can you turn it down for a second, I need to talk to you,” I had told him, very loudly, over a particularly harsh speed metal song now blaring, slightly distorted, over the too small speakers.    His expression, curious but open, gave me hope.  We were seventeen year old boys about to embark on their first adventures.  My heart raced, and I felt a light sheen of sweat break out on my forehead and palms as he hopped up and sat cross legged on the bed in front of me.  Possibly sensing that what I wanted to tell him was important, he didn’t fidget or badger me as I sat quietly, playing with the zipper of the hoodie I wore. 
“Scotty, come on, whatever it is, it can’t be that bad,” he said quietly, and I looked up at him.  Slowly, he paled.  “Are you moving away?”  With his father’s job, Andy had moved more times than I could have imagined, having lived in the same house for as long as I could remember.  Andy and I had been worried since he moved here almost two years ago that his father would find another job.  He was happy here, and of course, I was happy with him being here.
“No, it’s nothing like that,” I replied with a soft sigh, trying to frame the thoughts that I wanted to convey to him.  How do you tell another guy that you like him?  How do you tell anyone?  Not for the first time, I wished for at least some kind of social skills, skills that my parents had long been denying me.
“Alright, you’re fucking killing me here, just spit it out.”  To anyone else, it would look like he was starting to get exasperated, but I could see the fear behind the façade.   I wondered if he would consider it to be bad news.
“I like you,” I said bluntly, and even though I was trying to keep my expression completely neutral, my face flushed.  I felt the heat spread through my cheeks, and down my neck.  His expression went from forced exasperation to confusion in an instant.
“I know that, I like you too?” he replied, and it came out more as a question than a statement, like there was some big piece of the puzzle he was missing.  Of course, there was.  My eyes fell to the black comforter on Andy’s bed. 
“No, I…I like you like you…” I forced out running my finger along one of the comforter seams.  If I’d have looked up, I would have seen him come at me, but I didn’t.  The next thing I knew, he was on top of me.  I prepared myself for the blows, but what I didn’t prepare myself for was the kiss.  His fingers wrapped around the back of my neck, pulling my face to his and then his lips were on mine.  It was hungry and charged heavily with emotion and need.  I’d never expected my first kiss to be quite like that when I had pictured it in my head. 
This was better.
Andy tasted like chocolate and something close to heaven.  I whimpered against his lips as he pushed me back onto the pillows and lay down next to, and half on top of me.  I loved the feeling of his weight, and tangled my bare legs with his.  Andy’s long hair fell on either side of our faces like a short curtain, just enough to pull us into our own little world.  As soon as my mind caught up to what was happening, I wrapped my arms around his strong back, and I felt his soft moan as our mouths opened again and again against each other.
I fisted the back of his silky black hair, trying to get closer.  If I could have crawled inside of him in that moment, I would have.  God it felt so good.
His lips moved down over my cheek to my neck, and I heard him murmur against my skin “I never thought I’d hear you say that to me.” 
~ – ~
 After that school year ended, I had the best summer of my life.  Andy and I got closer, I grew three inches so that I was taller than just about every guy in my class, and in the fall I would turn seventeen.  The times I loved most that summer were just lazing around in my room, listening to music and kissing.  We didn’t dare attempt any more with my mom in the house, and my mom was always in the house.  It was enough for then.  In a year we would be able to go off and have our own adventures, either together or apart, and I was really looking forward to getting out from under my parents’ control.
I should have been much more careful what I wished for.
It was towards the end of that summer that I first started seeing the shadow man. 
One rare afternoon, my mom let Andy and me go off on our own and walk down to the small convenience store on the corner of Elm and Park.  Of course, I had no bike, I’d never gotten another one after that first little red bringer of misery.  Andy left his at my house as to not antagonize my mother.  If she thought I rode on his pegs, she’d never let me go anywhere with him.  We talked about the classes we’d chosen to take in our senior year since we’d gotten our schedules a few days before at registration – another rare outing for us. 
“Yeah, thank God I got out of taking that Literature class.  I decided on Astronomy at least that will get me out of the house at night.  You took that one too, right?” I asked Andy as we rounded the corner of my street and started walking north on Elm.
“Yep, I think my dad is going to talk to your mom and see if they want to split the cost of a really good telescope instead of just buying two cheap ones.  I can come over here on Friday nights and we can do our homework.  A nice Meade would work, maybe even one with a computerized tracking system and software.  A few of the lower end models even have USB hookups for your laptop,” Andy said, and I was surprised.  Usually, Andy didn’t find anything interesting or exciting about school, but the prospect of an Astronomy course, especially one that included a really good telescope really made him engage.  His eyes below the black bangs he’d grown out over the summer were bright and excited.
It was hot.
“What?” he asked coming to a stop just a block south of Park.  I smirked at him, and he grinned.  Looking around to make sure no one was around, I was about to whisper to him what I’d just thought, but I saw the car on the other side of the street.  I’m not even sure now what made me focus on it.  It was a nondescript black jeep.  The soft top was down, and there was a guy just sitting behind the wheel watching us.  I nudged Andy and jerked my head in the direction of the jeep.
The guy behind the wheel looked to be tall and thin, though he was sitting.  The doors were off of the jeep, so I saw that he was wearing black jeans and a black t-shirt, even in the late August heat.  The expensive-looking sunglasses he wore obscured his eyes, but his hair was shoulder length, wavy, and jet black, hanging loose and neat from a part on the left.  His bangs hung down over the glasses, and I noticed that he had a short goatee.  He couldn’t have been older than thirty, but the way he watched us made him feel menacing.
“All black, black hair, are you sure he’s not related to you?” I asked Andy, and he shook his head. 
“Dude, you’ve never seen my dad?  I’m supposed to have light brown hair, the black is a dye,” he replied, still looking at the jeep.   “Let’s get out of here, I really don’t like the way he’s watching us, he looks like a perv.”
I glanced back over my shoulder as we made our way quickly to towards Park.  The guy did look familiar, like I’d seen him on TV, or at school or something.  I just couldn’t place it.
Of course, that wouldn’t be the last time I’d see him.
~ – ~
I saw him several more times over the next month, driving down our street, parked at the bank across the street from Andy’s house, even near my dentist’s office for my checkup.   Each time that I saw him, he never really acknowledged me, he didn’t approach me, he just sat there….watching.   It was eerie, but of course, I never told my parents, they would have locked me in my room until I was thirty as protective as they were.  A few times I wondered if they saw him, if they noticed that there was a grown man stalking their son. 
It wasn’t until my seventeenth birthday that things spun wildly out of control.
“Scotty, your father and I need to tell you something, could you come in here for a minute?” my mother asked on the morning of my birthday.  She was sitting in the living room with my father right by her side.  Whatever it was that she wanted to tell me, it couldn’t be good.  I opened the soda that I had just pulled from the refrigerator, and walked slowly into the living room.  Neither of them would look me in the eye.
I sat down in the floral armchair across from the couch, unconsciously perched on the very edge as if bracing myself for attack.  My fingers gripped the arms of the chair, and I waited.  Did one of them have cancer?  Were they going to stop me from seeing Andy?  Did they know I was gay?
“Scotty, this is going to be really hard for me to tell you, so I’m not going to drag it out.  Your father and I have decided that you’re old enough to tell you that…well….that,” my mother stammered, and that frightened me even further.  My mother never lost control of what she was saying, and I remembered feeling that suddenly, I wanted to be anywhere but in that room.
“Son, what your mother means is that we adopted you…when you were six months old,” my father elaborated, and felt my blood run cold.  I wasn’t their kid?  They’d been essentially holding me hostage since I was five years old, and I wasn’t even their kid?  The burning in the back of my throat, and in my eyes caught me off guard.  Taking a deep breath, I was determined not to cry, I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction.  My chest constricted, almost painfully as questions raced over and over through my mind.  Where were my real parents?  Did they know that there was something different about me too?  Is that why they got rid of me?  Where my adopted parents going to get rid of me too?
I remember being very scared at that point.
“Wh…why?” I asked, falling back against the back of the chair, my hands trembling on its arms. 
“Why?  Why did we adopt you, honey?” my mother asked, and her face remained composed, even though my whole world was spinning out of control.  “We wanted to help a child that had no place to go.   There are so many children in this world that…”
“No!”  I stood up, knocking the arm chair backwards so that it landed with a loud thud in the middle of the living room.  My parents, my adopted parents, looked at me in surprise.  My mother’s hand flew up over her mouth, and my father held her hand just a little tighter.  “Why the prison?  Why can’t I be normal?  I’ve been miserable since I was five years old, since you decided that I wasn’t allowed to play, have fun, or even have friends!  Now I find out that you did all of that to me, and I’m not even your kid!”  I started towards the door, and as I turned the handle I murmured just loud enough for them to hear over the sniffling of my mother “It doesn’t matter why.”
“Scotty!” my father called, the sound cut off as I slammed the door behind me.   Adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and I stormed down the stairs.  I had no idea where I was going, all I knew was that I had to get out of there.  Looking up towards Lake Street, I saw a couple of kids playing football in a yard a few houses down.  The other way, a group of teenagers stood on the sidewalk, laughing and talking.  Vaguely, I was aware that these were kids that I went to school with, maybe a year or so behind me.  It didn’t matter, it’s not like I was wanted there, so I opted to head over to Andy’s.
The door opened as my feet landed on the sidewalk, and I started to run.  I didn’t want my parents to catch up with me, or try to stop me.  Right then, I remember feeling trapped, and needing to get away from them for a while, to think.  My father yelled for me again as I ran towards the street.  I could cut through the Hammond’s back yard across the street from us and then it was just a few houses over to Andy’s house.
The scream took me by surprise, but no more so than the pristine blue pickup truck that slammed into my side.
Pain, such that I had never known before or since, exploded through my body as I felt myself cartwheel through the air.  I had a distinct impression of the windshield blowing out as my head connected with it before rolling off of the far side of the hood.  Screeching tires mingled with the screaming, and I didn’t even bother trying to put my hands up to break my fall as I connected hard with the street.
I had no idea who was calling my name.  Blood was flowing copiously onto the street as I lay there unable to move.  The sun was hot as it beat down on me, and I felt sweat starting to streak through the blood.
“Scott, can you hear me?” That was my father’s voice, shaken, frightened.  Then lower, away from me he said, “Jeanette, we have to get him out of here.”
“Walter, I called an ambulance,” someone said, and it sounded like Mr. Hammond.  Only another adult would call him Walter.  “Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay.”
I could hear the tears in my father’s voice when he asked my mother what they were going to do.  From where I lay on the concrete, I just wished that they’d get me out of the sun.  My body was on fire from the pain, and the heat.  Mr. Hammond came closer, and I could see his face.  It was then that I realized….I wasn’t in the sun.  Of course, I had heard of spontaneous combustion, but I didn’t really know much about it.  The thought occurred to me that I was starting to burn from the inside out.  Screaming as the pain peaked; I just wished that I could pass out.  Between the heat and the pain, breathing was starting to become unbearable. 
“It’s okay, baby.  It will be over soon,” my mother whispered in my ear.  I couldn’t tell if she was talking about the pain, the burning, or my life but as she said it, the pain started to subside.  I didn’t know if I was just going numb, or into shock, but I was thankful for the reprieve.   The burning stayed at just above my tolerance level and when I felt my mother’s cool hand on my cheek, I whimpered.
“Holy mother of God.…”
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph….”
The gasps when up all around me, and I couldn’t tell what the commotion was about, but the burning had started to subside.  I felt sore and drained, like I’d just run from one side of the state to the other in a matter of minutes.
“Come on, we have to get out of here,” my father said quietly to my mother and me.  The crowd that had assembled around me backed up quickly as I sat up.  As I took inventory of my limbs and my torso, I saw that I had no injuries.  There was blood everywhere, but no cuts, no broken bones, and no bruises.  If my clothes hadn’t been ripped and soaked with blood, I wouldn’t have known that I’d been hurt.  Oh my God.
My parents took away my bike after I fell.
My parents never let me do anything where I might get injured.
I was adopted.
The panic welled inside of me as I sat there on the street, surrounded by gawkers and covered in my own blood.  My heart was racing, beating frantically in my chest almost as if it were trying to escape.    I felt more than I heard my breath coming in labored gasps, hitching, punctuated with terrified sounds, so that I sounded just as lost and scared as I felt.
Questions popped like flashbulbs in my head.  Who was I?  What was I?  What would happen when people found out that I was a freak?  Who was that guy following me?  Did he know what my body did when it was injured?  I felt disconnected from my body, like it was a separate and uncontrolled entity.  Sometimes, I still feel that way, even though I know the truth.
“Come on,” my father said, pulling me up from the ground as the rest of the crowd backed up even further.  No one spoke.  No one approached us.  They just stared.  I was the noontime attraction at the zoo, the carnival freak on display.  My parents sheltered me the best that they could from the spectators, but soon we were inside of our house, safe – from them at least.
“Pack everything that you can into the back of the truck, we have to get out of here.”  My father was more frightened than I had ever seen him.  He rushed from his desk to the kitchen pulling out drawers seemingly at random.  My mother had run upstairs to start there.
“Dad…I don’t…I don’t understand…” I said, stammering as I watched him rushing around, and I could almost feel him vibrating as he passed me.  “Why do we have to leave?”
“Because you’re the missing genetic link in human evolution,” a voice said from near the door.  My father dropped the framed picture that he was holding, and it shattered on the hardwood floor.  He pulled me behind him and faced….the shadow man.
“Stay away from my son,” my father said, and his voice was much steadier than it had been even just five minutes before. 
“Jason, you need to come with me, right now.”  The shadow man looked out of the front door, and then closed it tight.  Walking over, he pulled the curtains, and then stood in front of me again.
“M…My name is Scott…” I said, still stunned at his appearance, and what had happened outside.   My whole world had just swung on its axis, and I was barely hanging on. 
“Maybe… But you were born Jason Sanders.  My sister named you after our father,” he said and his voice softened at the mention of his sister. 
“Your sister?  That would make you … what, my uncle?” I asked, my brain finally starting to catch up.
“How did you find him?”  My father seemed to have caught up too.  “It was a closed adoption, no one was supposed to know where he was, or who had adopted him.”
“Look, we don’t have time for this,” the man said looking out the window again.  “One of those teenagers was taking video, it won’t be long before that goes viral on the internet.  We need to get you someplace safe.”
“Hey man, I don’t even know your name, I’m not going anywhere with you,” I said just as my father bellowed basically the same sentiment. 
“My name is Logan Jeffries.  My sister, Dr. Melinda Sanders was your mother and an extraordinarily talented geneticist.  Your parents met while working on their doctorates, their thesis work was on fetal genetic manipulation.  They were trying to make stronger healthier babies, and as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, they succeeded – with you.”  He paused, and I took that chance to interrupt him.
“So, I’m an experiment?” I asked, starting to feel a little sick. 
“I won’t lie to you, kid.  You were conceived in order to further their research, yes.”  Taking in my expression, he hurried to continue.  “That was at first.  After you were born, your mother fell in love with you…completely.  You were the baby she never knew she wanted. “  He smiled at me briefly before his expression turned dark.  “Your father, on the other hand, never saw you as more than just an experiment.  Once the initial testing was done, and they’d done everything they could that was non-invasive, he wanted to do more extensive testing.   He wanted to see just what you could do.  The only way to do that was to deliberately injure you.  Your mother fought him every step of the way, but when you were about four months old, she came to the conclusion that he would never stop.  Your father was an ambitious man, and he wanted to start using what they had learned, he wanted to put the theoretical into application, the only way he could do that was to complete the experiment.  Your mother brought you to me and asked me to keep you safe.”  His eyes clouded over, and his voice got very thick.  I sat down on the chair behind me, knowing that I wasn’t going to like whatever was coming next in the story.
“Once I took you and started the adoption proceedings to hide you, she….she killed him, and herself,” he choked out.  It was obvious that he loved his sister very much.  Why else would he go through all of this trouble, this nightmare for a kid he didn’t even know?
“H…How?” I asked because it seemed important.
“She blew up their lab while they were both working, making sure to destroy all of the evidence of your life so that no one would be able to track you.  It was such a hard decision for her, because mankind would have really benefited from their research, but it might have led to you, and she felt she owed it to you to hide you as well as she could.”  I looked up at my dad and he was pale.
“Now that people know, someone will come for him won’t they?” he asked Logan, and I felt the ice cold fear grip my chest.  “Most likely, government people, because they can do whatever they want under the guise of patriotism.  Can you imagine an army of soldiers that can’t be injured?  How much would that be worth?  Surely it would be something indescribable next to the life of some no name kid.”
“Dad, what do I do?” I asked just as someone knocked on the front door.  Logan straightened up with a jerk and looked carefully out of the front door.
“It’s okay, it’s just your friend,” he said and pulled open the door.  Andy looked shell-shocked at Logan standing in my living room with his hand on my front door.   He walked hastily into the room, making sure to skirt away from Logan.
“Dude, Duncan just sent me a video of you from his phone.  What the hell is going on?” he asked, and I noticed that his voice was shaking.  Poor Andy, he had no idea what to think, what to feel, just like I didn’t.  Andy’s eyes kept flickering to Logan.
“Andy, I don’t have a lot of time.  I’m…I’m leaving tonight with Logan,” I tilted my head to indicate that I was talking about the black-haired man standing in our living room.   “Come upstairs and help me pack.”  I looked over at Logan and he nodded, and I grabbed Andy’s hand and pulled him upstairs with me.  I heard Logan call that I had half an hour, and then we had to leave.
Shutting my bedroom door, the first thing I did was watch the video that Andy had on his phone.  By a horrible coincidence, he had been taking video of his friends screwing around and even captured the first few seconds of the accident.  In horrified silence I watched the truck hit me, now seeing what I had only felt just about half an hour before.  The injuries looked fatal, and there was blood everywhere.  After just a few minutes, I watched, fascinated as my injures started to heal themselves.  Watching it felt like it took less time than the pain and burning that I had endured.
I remember thinking – was that really me?
I had always known that I was different, but I had never felt special or exceptional, just excluded.  As I watched the jagged red rip in my forehead slowly stop bleeding and close, something inside of me changed.  No longer the outcast, or the pariah,  I now knew the reason that I was different and it was significant.   When the screen on the phone went dark, I handed it wordlessly to Andy and pulled the huge backpack we used for camping from my closet.  As Andy watched, still apparently shocked into silence, I packed jeans, t-shirts, briefs, socks, everything that I could fit that was clean.  I took my laptop, my cell phone, and everything else of value and put it in my school bag.
There was no way that I could know what would happen, but I wanted to be as ready as I could be.  I had no money, and would be relying heavily on a complete stranger.  To say that I was terrified was an understatement.  It would take a far greater leap of faith than I was ready to do in order to trust Logan.  There was just too much left unknown and too little time.
In time, I would come to look on him as a brother, but then…
“Wha….What are you?” Andy asked, finally.  I zipped up the backpack, and sighed.  Sitting on the edge of the bed, I looked up at him, and quickly gave him an abbreviated version of the story Logan had told me.  The more I told him, the wider his eyes became until I was sure they would pop out of his head.  I couldn’t blame him, the story was rather farfetched.
Andy leaned down and picked up my school bag from the floor, slinging it over his shoulder. 
“As much as I hate to say it, and as much as it will hurt, I think he’s right – you need to get out of here,” he said, looking at the floor.  I grabbed my big backpack, checking the alarm clock beside my bed.  We had been up here for twenty seven minutes.  It was time to go.
I followed Andy downstairs and we set my bags on the floor in front of Logan, he gave me a half-smile, seemingly impressed that I followed his instructions so well.  My father handed me an envelope and I peeked inside.  There was a large stack of twenty dollar bills inside.
“That’s all we have on hand right now to help you, I’m sorry, Scotty,” my father said as he wrapped his arms around my shoulders in a hug that I thought might result in injuries that needed my special gift.  Logan took the envelope from me, and handed it back to my father who looked indignant.
“Jason’s parents were considerably well off when they died, and that money came to me and to Jason.  You are going to need that to get out of here.  I will take care of him,” Logan said quietly, and after a brief look at my mother, my father took back the envelope.
“It’s time to go, Jason,” Logan said pointedly.  With the fear battling against sadness in my heart, I walked over to my father and hugged him.  I heard a quiet sob break from him at the loss of his son.  He had loved and protected me practically my whole life, and I never once appreciated it until now.  I was a horrible son.
“You be careful,” my mother said as I held her against my chest.  I had been taller than her for several years at that point, and she was cradled in my arms like a child.  In that moment, I could have stayed like that for days even though just hours before I was furious with her.  My whole world had changed in a matter of minutes.
“I know that we have no choice in this, he is going to be hunted now and us right along with him.  If no one knows he’s with you, he will be safer that way.  Please, take care of our son,” my mother told Logan, and he nodded, leaning down to grab my school bag from the floor.  I walked behind him to the door and Andy caught my wrist.  Without thinking, I set my backpack on the floor once again, and pulled Andy into my arms.  Our lips met as my hand snaked it’s way through his hair, and the gasp I heard from my mother reminded me that I hadn’t yet told them that I was gay.  My mother found out quite a bit more than she ever wanted to know about her son that day.  I kissed Andy, burning the memory of his lips into my mind, desperate to remember. 
When we finally pulled apart, I pressed my forehead against his.
“I will miss you so much,” I told him, and it was the truth, he had been my only real friend.  Now the only person I would have to talk to was a grown man and a complete stranger.  Knowing that I would never be able to walk out the door if I looked back, I followed Logan to his Jeep.  He threw my things into the back, and I climbed in to the passenger seat next to him. 
The next thing I knew, we were speeding off into the night, driving head on into destiny.
It was just over a month later when I saw that my house had burned to the ground with my adopted parents inside.  They had given their lives….for me.  To this day, I can’t describe the horror that I feel when I think of them. 
They were the pawns, always the first to fall in battle, but the war had only begun.