Rick closed the door to the hotel room, and started walking down the hallway. He realized Glenn was in bad way. He had known Glenn had been severely traumatized by John and his friends. However, he didn’t know they had done it multiple times, or that they had tied him up, and gagged him. His mind just couldn’t fathom what kind of person would do such a vile thing to a young child. Never, in his worst nightmares, had he ever imagined anyone would be as depraved and malevolent as to rape one of their own family members. He had heard gay advocates’ statements that most sexual assaults came from heterosexual males, specifically, male family members, when a child was involved. That statement had taken on a new meaning for him, as he heard Glenn’s recounting of what happened that fateful day.
Rick left the building, and walked over to their car. Instead of getting their luggage, he opened the door, and climbed into the front seat. He leaned his arms on the steering wheel, and put his head in his hands. Rick asked himself, “What am I going to do to help Glenn? I’m not a professional counselor. I don’t know the right words to say, or things to do, to help Glenn. So far, I have only managed to make things worse. When he told me I had caused his world to fall apart, I felt like he had sucker punched me, and kicked me, while I was down. It hurts me deeply to know he blames me for his mental and emotional distress. I know he said he blames himself as much as he does me, but that doesn’t stop it from hurting. How can he blame me for his problems? I wasn’t the one who hurt him, in the first place! I’m not the one who has the problems with flashbacks, and other emotional issues!”
He stopped in mid-thought, and realized he was becoming angry, and being angry wouldn’t help Glenn. Rick reached deep inside himself, and found he could relate with Glenn’s pain on a certain level, because it seemed to mirror how he felt about his family disowning him. He didn’t deserve to be treated that way by his family, and Glenn certainly didn’t deserve to be raped by the very person he idolized and trusted.
Rick was startled by a tap on the car window. He looked out the window to see the face of an elderly gentleman, peering in at him. Rick turned the key in the ignition, so he could roll down the window.
The old gentleman asked, “Are you okay, son?”
Rick smiled, and replied, “Yes, I’m okay. Thank you for asking.”
“I was worried something was wrong, when I saw you were slumped over the steering wheel,” he said.
Rick reassured him, “I’m okay. Just a little tired is all.”
The old fellow smiled, and nodded his head. “You had best be going inside, and getting to bed, then.”
Rick nodded his agreement. “Yes, sir.”
Rick rolled up the window, and got out of the car, as he watched his would be rescuer make his way into the hotel lobby. He got out of the car, and grabbed their gear from the back seat, following the old man inside. He opened the door to their hotel room, and saw Glenn on the bed staring up at the ceiling. He put their things by the door, and closed it. He walked over to the bed, and sat down next to Glenn. Rick took his hand in his.
“Sweetheart, are you okay?” Rick asked, worriedly, stroking the back of Glenn’s hand with his thumb.
I mumbled, “No.”
Rick leaned closer, and looked into my eyes. “I didn’t hear you, Babe.” It took a while for my eyes to focus on his. He asked, “Are you okay?”
I replied, “No, I am not okay.”
Rick’s face grew concerned. “What can I do to help?”
“Just hold me close,” I responded.
“Let’s get you comfortable first,” Rick said. He took off my shoes, and stripped off my clothes. He made me get under the blankets; since I had started to shiver, and I had goose bumps all over my body. He stripped, as well, and climbed in next to me. He pulled me close, and I laid my head on his chest, willing my body to stop shivering. I clung to Rick for his body heat. I was chilling so badly, my teeth started to chatter. Rick held me tight the entire time. I don’t know how much time passed, before I finally stopped shaking.
Rick released me from his embrace, and ran his fingers through my hair. His touch had a calming influence on me, which allowed me to relax. The next thing I knew, Rick was kissing me awake. He looked into my eyes, and said, “You've been asleep for nearly three hours, Babe.”
I blinked my eyes, as I tried to remember where we were. My memory returned slowly. It took a few moments for me to remember we were in a hotel in Thunder Bay, and I had fallen asleep. I smiled, and said, “Thank you for helping to calm me down.”
Rick smiled. “You’re welcome, Babe. You had me worried.”
“I know,” I replied. “I’m sorry, Rick, to be such a burden to you. I can’t control when those bad memories surface. My therapist called them flashbacks, because of their intensity.”
“Whatever they are, I don’t like it when they happen, because I don’t know how to help you,” Rick said.
“You do what you did this time - hold me close, and wait for it to pass,” I said, as I smiled weakly at him.
Rick lightly ran his fingers along my jaw line. “I love you, Glenn.”
“I love you, too,” I said, and kissed him tenderly on the lips. “I have the best guy in the all the world for a boyfriend.”
Rick smiled, and said, “No, you’re wrong, Glenn. That would be me who has the best guy in the entire world for a boyfriend.”
I buried my face in his chest, and breathed in his masculine scent. I felt his fingers playing with my hair. Rick likes twisting it around his fingers, then running his fingers from front to back, making my hair stand straight up on my head, making me look like a hedgehog. He did just that, and laughed. “I think I should call you my pet hedgehog.”
I lifted my head, and grinned. “No, I don’t think so, or I get to make up my own nickname for you.”
Rick’s grin broadened, and he said, “Okay, let’s see what nickname you would choose for me.”
I thought for a moment. I originally had planned to pick a goofy one, but then decided to be serious about it. I looked deeply into his eyes, and said simply, “I would choose to call you Superman, because you’re my hero.”
Rick held my gaze, as he realized I wasn’t joking with him about why I chose Superman for his nickname. His eyes grew bright with tears, and he swallowed hard, as he tried to keep control of his emotions. Then, he smiled, and asked, “Do I get to dress up in tights and wear a cape?”
I laughed at the visual that question presented to my mind. I replied, with a wide grin, “I would love to see you in tights and a cape.”
Rick said, “I would wear them only for you. If you ever dared to tell anyone…”
I interrupted him by putting my fingers to his lips, “You don’t have to wear tights and a cape for me, Babe. I would much rather have you naked in my arms!”
“Is that an invitation to seduce you?” Rick asked, in a husky voice.
I didn’t answer him directly. Instead, I cupped his face between my hands and kissed him passionately.
A good while later, Rick pulled me close, and whispered in my ear, “I'm starving. Are you ready to get something to eat?”
“Yes, I’m hungry, too. But, I want to enjoy being next to you for a few more minutes. You make me feel so safe and warm I don’t want to move, just yet,” I said, tracing our secret code on bare chest.
Rick smiled, and said, “Let me guess. You are sending me a message using our secret code.”
I raised my eyes to meet his. “Yes, it’s 8-3-1-4.”
Rick took my hand in his, and raised it to his lips. “I will love you forever, Glenn.”
I was feeling much better than I was a few hours ago. I smiled at Rick, and said, “I know what I will call you from now on – Dr. Rick.” Seeing Rick raise his eyebrows in puzzlement, I quickly added, “Not counselor or therapist, but doctor. You always know what to do to help me – hug me, hold me, and love me.”
Rick leered at me, and asked, “Does that include having sex with you, too?”
I laughed, and amended his thought, “Yes, it includes making love to me.”
Rick smiled, and nodded his head in agreement. “I understand the distinction you made between having sex and making love, and I agree with you. However, you have to admit rough, raw sex is sometimes just as good.”
“Okay, it can be very satisfying, if it is with the one you love,” I responded. “It’s wonderful because I love you and you love me.”
Rick’s stomach interrupted us, with a loud growl. Rick laughed. “Dr. Rick says, “It’s time to eat.”
I laughed, and placed the palm of my hand on his stomach. Rick automatically tightened his abs at my touch. I love the feel of his six pack abs. I said, “That wasn’t the Dr. Rick I know. That sounded more like the tiger who lives inside Dr. Rick!” My fingers traced the outlines of his abs.
“Do you mean the tiger that loves rough sex?” Rick asked, with a broad grin. He pulled me close, and kissed me, before I could answer his question. Our kiss lengthened into a very passionate one leaving me breathless, when Rick pulled back to look at me. “I take it that the answer is yes!”
I nodded my head, and Rick laughed. “Time to eat.” He released me, and got up off of the bed, turning to help me up. For a moment, I stood in his warm embrace, and savored the feel of his arms around me. He put his hand under my chin and raised it, until he looked into my eyes. “Make no mistake, Glenn, I'm in this relationship for the long haul. I will do whatever it takes to keep you, including being your superhero.” His words deeply touched me, and started the tears flowing down my cheeks. He moved his hand from my chin to my cheek, and wiped my tears away with his thumb. “No more tears, tonight, Babe. I want you to be happy, and we will work together to make that happen.” I nodded my head, and melted into his embrace.
Rick held Glenn close, and reflected on the commitment he had just made to Glenn. The words had come naturally to his lips, as the right thing to say; but what had crystallized in his mind, at that moment, was that those weren’t just words. They had come from deep inside his heart, and had resonated throughout his entire being. To him, those words had become as binding on his heart as any wedding ceremony. He had just made a promise to Glenn that was as unbreakable as any contract, or vow, he could have made, otherwise.
He put his chin on top of Glenn’s head, as he held Glenn in his embrace. It seemed they had become one person during that moment, bringing time to a standstill.
I leaned my head against Rick’s chest, and listened to the steady beat of his heart. I felt Rick’s chin on the top of my head, as he tightened his embrace. He held me very close, as if to eliminate any space between us. I felt very safe and warm in his arms. I molded my body to his, and relished the touch of his skin next to mine. I thought to myself, “This is why I love Rick so much – when he holds me in his arms, I feel loved and sheltered from the world. This must be what it’s like to be in paradise.”
Our perfect moment was interrupted again, by Rick’s stomach. We both laughed, as Rick released me. Rick said, “Let’s get a quick shower, then we can find some place to eat.”
Rick led me to the shower, and turned on the water. He adjusted the temperature, then we stepped under the water together. We naturally went into each other’s arms, as the warm water cascaded over us. Rick pulled back, and said, with a grin, “No sex in the shower. I’m hungry.”
I laughed, then kissed him on the lips, before turning to the task of washing my lover boy’s body. He returned the favor, and we turned off the water and dried each other off. We helped each other dress in clean clothes. We left our hotel room, and stopped at the front desk to ask about good restaurants.
Rick asked, “Can you tell of us a good place to grab a bite to eat?”
The gentleman’s name was Bob, according to his name tag. He replied, “I like Gargoyles Grille and Ale.” He pulled out a map of downtown Thunder Bay, and drew a line on it from the hotel to the location of restaurant.
Rick said, “Thank you.”
Bob said, “I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.”
We walked out to the car, and Rick drove us downtown. We found a parking spot across the street. Rick took my hand. We crossed to the restaurant, and entered the establishment.
The host asked, “Do you want a table, or do you want to sit at the bar?”
Rick looked around the restaurant, and said, “We want a booth.”
While Rick was talking to the host, I was looking him over. His name tag said his name was Jack. Jack looked like he was my age. He was my same height, with dirty blond hair, brown eyes and dark brown eyebrows. He had a little stubble on his face that made him look really sexy. He had a lithe, wiry quality about him. He had diamond studs in his ears and a pierced left eyebrow that had a ring through it. He caught my eye, and grinned, showing a beautiful set of perfectly white teeth.
“Welcome to Thunder Bay. Are you guys staying in the area for a while?” Jack asked.
I smiled, and looked at Rick, “I don’t know. We haven’t talked about how long we are staying.”
Rick squeezed my hand, and returned my smile. “We just drove around the lake from Pukaskwa National Park.”
“We just finished a canoe trip along the shoreline,” I said.
Jack nodded his head. “I have done that a couple of times with my family.” He looked around, and saw our table was ready. He said, “I’m glad you stopped in to visit us at Gargoyles. Please follow me.”
He led us to a booth, and left us with a couple of menus. The waiter took our beverage orders. He returned with a beer for Rick, and a soda for me. We placed our food order, and the waiter left us to ourselves.
Rick smiled across the table at me, and took my hand. “What do you want to do for the next few days?”
“I want to visit with our friends in Minneapolis, then we need to head back to Atlanta. I want to delay our return as long as possible; but, I also need to practice that concerto some more. I don’t want to make a fool of myself in front of all those people,” I said.
Rick nodded his head. “Plus, you need to get your records transferred from the University of Minnesota to Georgia Tech.”
At the mention of transferring credits, I frowned. “Do we really have to stay at Georgia Tech?”
Rick furrowed his brow, and replied, “Glenn….”
I cut him off, before he could say any more, “I know, I know. We have talked about it before, and I know your reasons for wanting to return to Georgia Tech.”
Rick squeezed my hand. “I promise we will move from Atlanta, as soon as I am out of the Marines.”
“Can’t we move after we graduate?” I asked.
“We could move somewhere else, but it would have to be somewhere inside the United States. I think it would be easier to just stay in Atlanta, until I have finished my commitment to the Marine Corps,” Rick answered.
“I want us to move to Canada,” I said.
“I know,” Rick said. “But I don’t think we can, until I’m done with my military service.”
I acknowledged his point, “I agree we can’t move, until you are out of the military. You could end that pretty quickly by coming out of the closet.”
“Yes, I could, but I don’t want to end it. I like being in the Marines, and I want to complete my commitment to them. I don’t think using our relationship as an excuse to get out of my commitment to them would be the right thing to do. I have always been taught you should always keep your word,” Rick said.
“I agree you should always keep your word; but, this time, it has a huge impact on our relationship, and, more specifically, on me,” I replied.
Rick was not surprised by the direction this conversation was headed. He had expected Glenn to push back at him, because Glenn had made it very clear he was not happy with returning to Atlanta. He replied, “Glenn, we have already discussed this, and I thought we had this resolved.”
I said, “No, we left it as a stalemate, because we didn’t want to continue arguing about it. I would have been perfectly happy to stay at the University of Minnesota to finish my degree, but I want to be with you, at the same time. I don’t’ understand why you can’t transfer to Minneapolis, and still do your reserve duty from there. I know you have fears of being discovered, since we haven’t been exactly discreet about our relationship. I still think Minneapolis would be a much better environment for both of us. We have a great support network at the University of Minnesota. I’m already established in the music program, and you have met some of the faculty on campus. Your credits would transfer easily to the U. of M. Our friends would love to have us stay. Please reconsider, Rick.”
Our food arrived, and we dug in. We ate in silence, until we were nearly finished with our meal. Rick stopped eating, for a moment, and said, “I have thought about transferring to the University of Minnesota. Remember, we already checked into how many of my credits would be honored. I would have to stay an extra year to finish my degree, because not all of my credits will transfer. I have already extended my date of graduation by one year, because of my deployment. If we go back to Atlanta, I will graduate at the same time as you will. I don’t want to waste Uncle Stan’s money by extending my education by another year. If I was spending my own money, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment. I would have already transferred to the U. of M.”
“But you haven’t talked to Uncle Stan about it. He might agree to the extension, if we explain to him our circumstances,” I said.
Rick replied, “We could talk to him about it, but I don’t want to impose on his good will any more than I already have. He has done enough for me by paying for my college education, as well as providing for my room and board.”
“But he isn’t providing for your room and board, anymore. That is coming from Grandpa, now,” I responded.
“It doesn’t matter who is paying for it now, Glenn. I do not want to impose on them anymore than I have to, in order to earn my degree. I don’t like being in debt to anyone. I do not want to feel obligated to anyone, because they have been giving me charity. I fully intend to pay back every penny Uncle Stan and Grandpa have spent on my education,” Rick said.
“It’s not charity, Rick. You're part of our family, and we take care of our family,” I said.
“I know I’m part of the family,” Rick said. “But, it does not change how I feel about having other people pay for my education, or any other thing. I like being self-reliant, and independent of any obligation to anyone. I want to be able to choose for myself what I want to do, rather than being constrained by someone else’s claim I owe them, because they helped me through school.”
“I understand why you don’t want to be under obligation to anyone, but it isn’t just anyone, Rick. It’s to our family, and you are part of our family,” I argued.
“Glenn, it’s especially important to not take advantage of family relationships, because we are so close to each other. It’s better to have things clearly written out in a contract format, between family members, to prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings. It is so easy to create a disaster in the family, if we don’t establish clear guidelines and expectations. Grandpa understands that, and has created a framework for us to work together. Remember how we met with the lawyer and accountant, who explained all of the legal stuff to us? Grandpa was setting clear guidelines for how we would handle business and money matters, between all of us. The whole plan is just brilliant,” Rick enthused.
“I agree Grandpa has set up a fantastic way for us to become self-reliant; and, more importantly, he has allowed us to include some of our closest friends in the same process,” I said.
“Glenn, the reason why Grandpa can include our friends is because he has codified the rules of engagement; so, there are no misunderstandings and everyone knows what is expected of them. It is not a coincidence each of our interactions with MST, Inc., has included a contract clearly stating what the terms and conditions are,” Rick said.
“But, it’s a family corporation,” I protested.
“Yes, it’s a family-owned corporation that is run according to generally accepted business and accounting principles; and that includes contracts, which outline what is to be done by each party, and the consequences of a breach of contract. There is enough formality to keep everyone honest,” Rick said.
“But that doesn’t explain why you are so adamant about paying back the money for your education. Neither of us has signed contracts with the family to repay our educational expenses,” I said.
“You are right. We haven’t signed anything, but I have never been beholden to anyone, and I don’t want to start now,” Rick said.
“Aren’t you beholden to Keith and Roger for saving you from being beat to pulp by Angie’s brothers?” I asked.
Rick looked at me, and said, “That’s different, Glenn.”
“How so?” I asked.
“They rescued me, because they saw a fellow student being assaulted,” Rick said. He saw I was about to argue with him, and added, “Yes, they are my friends and came to my rescue; but, I am their friend, as well, and would have done the same for them in the same situation.”
“Do you mean they only helped you, because you are their friend?” I said, knowing I was being obnoxious, but enjoying it, anyway.
Rick started to answer, then caught sight of my grin, and stopped. He smiled. “I don’t know why I let you get me going the way you do, Glenn.”
“Because you love me,” I said, grinning, and taking his hand in mine.
“I do love you that is true, but it doesn’t explain how you get me into these extended conversations, where I feel I have to justify myself to you,” Rick said.
“I don’t view it so much as justifying yourself to me as I see it as a means of communicating to me how you feel, and your logic for making the decisions you do. I want to understand the ‘why’ behind your actions. I can’t get inside your head, so you have to articulate it verbally for me. I admit I can’t resist challenging your assumptions, sometimes, and I expect you to do the same for me. That is only way to do away with incorrect perceptions, debunk myths and clear up misunderstandings. It’s like you said earlier, we need to have a clear set of guiding principles, and a good understanding of our expectations of one another,” I said.
Rick looked at me in surprise. “So you have been listening to me after all!”
“Yes, I have. I haven’t agreed with everything you have said; but, I have heard you, and incorporated what I liked into my own thought processes,” I said, smiling. “Yes, I think you are one of the smartest people I know, but don’t get a big head about it, though. I don’t think I could stand to be around you, if you became too full of yourself.” The expression on Rick’s face caused me to laugh. “Rick, didn’t you know I’m aware you have perfect grades at the university, and you excel at almost everything you put your mind to doing?”
Rick didn’t respond. Glenn’s statement had caught him completely off guard. He hadn’t expected their conversation to focus on his intellectual prowess.
I assumed from Rick’s expression he didn’t expect me break his cover, so I continued, “Rick, you forget we have been together for almost two years, now, and there aren’t very many things we can hide from each other. I didn’t know at the time you tried to seduce me that I not only got the super athlete with the fantastic body, but I also got the brains of a supercomputer in that head of yours. I don’t know if it's a blessing, or a curse, at the moment, but that is what I have in you, as my boyfriend.” Rick’s expression was one of utter disbelief. When he still didn’t say anything, I said, “Earth to Rick. Does it shock you your cover has been blown?”
Rick finally recovered, and said, “I didn’t realize I was so transparent.”
“You aren’t to most people. However, I'm not most people. I'm your boyfriend, and I should be pretty familiar with how you operate,” I said, with a grin. “Why do you try to hide how smart you are?”
Rick replied, “I have always tried to keep a low profile, when it comes to my intellectual abilities. I learned early on that showing how smart I am to my peers earned me their disrespect, and they often would exclude me from their circle of friends; sometimes they even bullied me. I had a very difficult time in elementary school. As a result, I decided to hide the fact I was smart behind a façade of being a typical jock – all muscles and very little brain. I have worked hard at fitting into that stereotype for so long, now; that it has become second nature for me to hide the fact I have a brain, and know how to use it. That is why I was surprised by your question. I guess I should have shared some of those early experiences with you. I didn’t intentionally try to hide it from you, Glenn.”
I smiled, and said, “I know you didn’t, because it is part of who you are. It took me a while to figure it out; because, just when I thought I knew you, you would do something that would surprise me.”
Rick smiled at me, and said, “I think I know you pretty well; but, then, you surprise me, too. Just like today. I wasn’t expecting the emotional and mental bombshells.”
I met his gaze, and said, “Neither was I. I'm so sorry I ruined our day together.”
Rick took my hand in his. “You didn’t ruin our day together. Was it stressful for both of us? Yes, it has been, but we have managed to live through it together. Plus, I had the added bonus of holding you in my arms for most of the afternoon.”
I smiled. “Yes, you did do a good job of comforting me.”
The waiter stopped by our table, and asked, “May I clear your plates?”
Rick looked up at him, and said, “Sure. Will you bring me another beer?”
The waiter looked at me, and asked, “Would you like another soda?”
“No, thanks, but I could use another glass of water,” I replied.
He left us, and returned with Rick’s beer, and a carafe of ice water for me.
Rick said, “We need to get back into our regular exercise routine. We haven’t been very consistent with our running in the mornings, and we certainly haven’t been lifting very many weights the past few weeks.”
“But you have to admit it has been nice to take a break from it,” I said.
“Yes, and I’m beginning to feel fat, already,” Rick said, patting his stomach.
The thought of Rick getting fat made me laugh. “I don’t think you will ever be fat, Mr. Lernier. You have such rock-solid abs now, it’s hard to imagine what you would look like with a beer belly.”
Rick said, “I would look like this.” He puffed out his gut, and laughed like Santa Claus, “Ho, ho, ho!”
I guffawed, “You are a poor substitute for Santa Claus, Rick. For one, you are too tall, and for another, you are too skinny, and, lastly, you don’t have a beard.”
Rick looked indignant. “What do you mean I'm too skinny?”
“Okay, maybe I should have said you don’t have the right body type,” I said, grinning.
Rick laughed, and said, “It’s a good thing I don’t. Seriously, we need to get back on our regular training schedule.”
I gave him a smart reply, “Yes, dear! Anything you say, dear!”
Rick cuffed me up the side of my head. “That’s for getting smart with me!”
“I always knew I was smart. I’m glad to hear you confirm it,” I said.
Rick rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe what a comedian you’ve become. Are you sure they didn’t switch the real Glenn with someone else, while I wasn’t looking?”
“Sorry, bud, you're stuck with the real me,” I said, grinning from ear to ear.
Rick finished his beer, before he answered me, “You are incorrigible, Glenn. I think it’s time I took you back to the hotel, where I can deal with you in the only way I know how.” Rick leered at me, and rubbed his leg against mine under the table.
I looked at him in mock horror. “Really, Mr. Lernier, how dare you talk to me that way in public?”
Rick’s wicked grin sent chills of anticipation up my spine. Instead of answering me, he signaled to the waiter we were ready for the check. We paid for our meal. I took Rick’s hand, as we left the restaurant. “Thank you for a wonderful evening, Rick.”
We crossed the street to our car. Rick turned, pinning me against the car door. He kissed me passionately. We drew a couple of whistles from passersby. When we surfaced for air, Rick grinned at me, and said, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” I replied.
We got into the Land Rover, and Rick drove us back to the Valhalla Inn. We made our way to our room, where Rick quickly helped me out of my clothes and I did the same for him. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying each other’s company!
Gargoyles Grille and Ale - http://www.gargoylesgrille.com/