Ash and Ember

Ash and Ember - Chapter 12: Coming to Grips

Ash and Ember - Chapter 12: Coming to Grips

24 November 2018, Saturday 6:03 AM

Grant came awake to the sensation of a bristly face as it rubbed the back of his neck. Troy held him tight, and as much of their bodies as possible pressed together. Grant's heart beat a little faster when he realized that Troy had an erection.

"Good morning," Troy said, in his rough morning voice. He continued to gently rub his face against the skin of Grant's neck.

'God, this feels so natural to me,' Grant's mind struggled with how good, and easy things with Troy were. But he also liked how Troy felt against him. "Mmmm. G'morning." Grant grinned, and he stretched. "Someone's awake below the waist."

Troy chuckled. "Well, that's your fault." Troy's hand slid down Grant's front. Grant inhaled as it gently rubbed his own, wakening penis. "Feels like someone else is on the way too." His voice was a husky whisper in Grant's ear.

Grant didn't answer. He straightened his body so that Troy could more easily get to him. Troy slipped his hand beneath the front of Grant's briefs, and his warm fingers circled Grant's now-erect member.

"Tell me to stop, and I will, Grant. Okay? Anytime I do something you don't want, just say so," Troy said, his voice strained and laden with desire.

"I don't want you to stop." Grant reached back and gripped Troy's hip, while Troy began to slowly move his hand up and down Grant's shaft.

Troy lay soft kisses on the back of Grant's neck, and his breath felt warm on Grant's skin.

It was almost as if Troy was keyed directly into what Grant wanted. He took cues from Grant's moans, and how he twitched and moved. And soon, sticky precome began to form a wet spot in Grant's underwear and to lubricate Troy's hand.

As Troy stroked, he also moved his hips. Though they both wore underwear, Grant still felt the pressure of Troy's long cock as it rubbed against his backside. Grant never thought that could possibly turn him on. But it hooked into a part of his brain that had never fired before, and Grant found it wildly erotic.

Troy's breaths began to pick up, and his hand stroked faster. "Ah god." Troy sounded a little surprised. "I can't belie…" Then his body went rigid behind Grant, and his hand stopped. Grant gripped Troy's hip hard, and the man grunted behind him as he came. His load shot into his shorts, and he continued to hump himself against Grant's rear.

"Wow." Troy finished, then he resumed stroking Grant.

Grant was close himself. The dark-haired man's head went back, and his hand squeezed Troy's hip. "Don't stop. Don't stop." Grant writhed against Troy. His mind offhandedly noted the slight moisture he now felt on the back of his briefs, and he could now smell semen. It only added to the experience, and it drove him forward.

Grant inhaled, and then he held his breath. Why he always did that as he was about to get off, he didn't know. But it was just how he worked. His stomach muscles locked, and he shot. He expelled his breath in a grunt and began to breathe again - taking great gasps of air.

Slowly, the sensation ebbed. Troy's hand still gripped him, but now it was still. Both men lay there, content, and sated.

Troy chuckled behind him. "THAT'S the way to wake up."

Grant couldn't disagree.

24 November 2018, Saturday 2:19 PM

Troy looked one more time at the siding. He checked to make sure the paint he put on earlier blended into the rest of the house. It seemed nearly perfect to his eye. He'd give it a day after it dried completely before he called it good.

He started to re-enter the house when his phone buzzed in his pocket. Troy took a look at the machine, and he smiled.

"Hey, Natalie." He opened the door and glanced into the living room. Grant was in the middle of his yoga set, and he tried an asana that traditionally gave him trouble. It was some weird modified headstand, and it looked impossible to Troy. But Grant was doing it. His body rocked a little back and forth as he struggled to maintain his balance, but he was doing it. Troy shook his head in wonder.

"Hi, Troy. How's it going?"

"Good. Just puttering around the house. No bites on my ad, so going through my list of chores to get done here." Troy stared at Grant as his core muscles flexed in their effort.

"Nice." Troy could hear Natalie's good mood over the phone. "So, I called to nail down details of the ski trip. Did you have a chance to talk to Grant?"

"Yeah. We talked about it. He's in."

"Awesome. And tell him not to worry, I booked a room with two beds," Natalie said, her voice a bit amused.

Troy bit his lip, and he walked back to the side door. He exited to the porch and closed the door behind him. "Ah, actually, I think one bed will be fine, Nat."

Natalie was quiet for a few beats. "Troy, did something happen?"

"What? Uh, no." Troy scratched his head. "No, but we talked, and he's fine bunking with me." Troy should have realized Natalie would question him on the change. Silently he cursed her inquisitive nature. "Besides, it's probably cheaper with one bed, right?"

"Well, yeah." Her tone was still a little suspicious. "Okay, I'll change it to a single bed. It'll save you guys $20 a night."

"Cool, thanks, Nat." Troy blew out a relieved breath.

"Troy, I HEARD that." Natalie's voice was now sure. "Something DID happen! Tell me what happened!"

"Fuck," Troy mumbled. "Nat, no. I can't say anything, okay?" He rubbed his face. Grant was just figuring things out for himself, and he didn't need Troy's friends knowing every bit of his business. He surrendered a minor point. "Okay, yes. Something happened. But that's all I'm telling you."

"Wow, Brian was right. Again!" Natalie sounded happy, annoyed, and surprised all at once.

Troy laughed. "Nat, you can't say anything, all right? I mean, Grant is still trying to figure things out, okay?"

"Oh man. You guys did it." She laughed on the other end. "That's so awesome!"

Troy hung his head. "Nat, damn it." He couldn't help but laugh. "We just," he shook his head, "no, I'm not going to talk about it." He grinned. "Tricky woman."

Natalie laughed the sound a little evil. "Maybe!" She made a satisfied sound. "Troy, your secret is safe with me, don't worry."

"Okay. Thanks, Nat. If anything changes for us, I'll let you know. But it sounds like we're good to go. I'll get you the money for our part soon."

"Sounds good. Have a good day, Troy. Say hi to Grant for me!"

"I will. Bye, Nat!"

Troy hung up, and he looked down at the phone. "That woman." Troy grinned, then he walked back into the house.


24 November 2018, Saturday 2:26 PM

Natalie hung up, and she did a happy little dance in her kitchen.

"So," Natalie jumped at Brian's voice. He must have come down the hallway while she was on the phone, and now he stood and stared at her. "What secret is safe with you?"

"Oh, uh." Natalie licked her lips nervously, and Brian came around the bar to enter the kitchen. "Nothing." She waved her hand as if it were inconsequential. "Troy, uh," she struggled to come up with something. She wasn't in the habit of lying to Brian, but she also made a promise to a friend.

"Nat." Brian stepped close. Both of his hands rested on her shoulders - warm, strong, and comfortable. "Does this concern Grant?"

"Uh," Natalie bit her lip. "Brian, I promised."

Brian smiled at her. "You're so good." He put one hand on the side of her face, and his thumb pushed a rebellious curl of black hair out of her eyes. "But, it does concern Grant, doesn't it?"

Natalie made a little sound. "I can't tell you."

"You're not telling me." His arms circled around her, and he rubbed her spine. Her breath caught in her throat as he began to massage her back. "I'm guessing."

"Mmmm." She let herself go limp against him.

He rubbed her, and he looked down with a smile. "It DOES concern Grant, right?"

A wave of chill bumps ran along her skin as he massaged her stiff back. "Brian," he kept at it. Natalie sighed. "Okay. But you can't tell anybody, all right?"

Brian grinned. "I promise."


25 November 2018, Sunday 4:48 PM

Grant sat at the kitchen table, and he tapped away on his laptop. He struggled to focus on the chart and his pre-work for his patient load on Monday.

Troy was outside looking at the windows. A year before John died they replaced all of them, and he wanted to see how they were holding up.

Grant bit his lip as he thought about Troy, and he sat back in the chair. Much of yesterday the two of them were together. A lot of that was spent in physical contact, which led to more intimate moments.

Grant never had so many orgasms in a day. Though nothing they did was risky - it was all touching, rubbing, and kissing. But Grant found himself more aroused and interested in sex with Troy than he had ever been before.

That was still a little unsettling. Being gay never occurred to Grant. It wasn't something he thought about or anticipated about himself. But here he was, looking forward to the next time Troy came into the house and approached with a predatory, hungry stare.

The sex he had with women was always difficult, and Grant had trouble, physically, making it happen. But he could get an erection by merely thinking about Troy. Though he couldn't deny it, that didn't mean it was any easier to accept.

He struggled to banish the odd feeling of guilt every time they messed around. He knew he was doing nothing wrong, but something made him feel as if there was an intrinsic problem with his attraction, and with the act itself.

Troy seemed to realize it, and he always gave Grant space afterward. Grant would hate himself a little, then a couple of hours later he would be right back, kissing, and touching Troy. He felt a bit as if he had whiplash - one moment he was grinding on Troy, and the next he was in the shower, feeling ashamed for what just happened.

'It makes no sense.' He stared, unseeing at his computer screen. 'There's nothing wrong with it. There's nothing wrong with you.'

The side door opened. Troy stepped inside with a shiver, closed the door, and he grinned at Grant. "Hey."

Grant smiled back. "Hey. How do the windows look?"

"They're good. I thought they would be, but I wanted to make sure." He sighed. "I like to stay busy, be productive when I don't have paying work." His face screwed up into a frown. "No hits on my Craigslist ad for a few days. I'm seriously considering paying Aaron to do a little work on my website, and get it going again."

"Yeah?" Grant closed the laptop. He wasn't getting very far anyway. "Did the site work?"

"Yes. I came up in online searches, and I was pretty busy." Troy looked toward the side yard, which was also the direction of the neighbor's house, and he rubbed his chin. "I'm gonna go check and see if Aaron is around. We may talk some business."

"Okay." Grant looked back down at the closed laptop, a little lost in his own head.

"You all right?" Troy stepped over beside him and looked down.

Grant took a breath. "Yeah." Then he frowned. "I don't know." He laughed at himself. "I think I will be. But I'm just adjusting to this new," he searched for the right words, "ah, this new way of thinking about myself."

Troy stood a moment, then he knelt beside Grant's chair. The dark-haired man glanced over at Troy. "Grant, you're still the same person." Troy's green eyes looked earnestly at him. "But, if things are moving too fast, or they're weird, or whatever, then say so. We'll put the brakes on the physical stuff."

Grant swallowed, and he rubbed his face. "I LIKE the physical stuff." He shook his head. "I just feel guilty about liking it. I know I shouldn't feel that way."

"Knowing it is different from feeling it." Troy had an understanding look on his face. He gave Grant a patient, knowing smile. "Look, I went through this too. I think most of us do. Even if you're in a really supportive home, there's still an adjustment." He grimaced. "And if you grow up like me, there's a BIG adjustment."

Grant remembered what Troy told him about his family, and how terrible they were to him. "Yeah." He thought about his own family, and how important it was to them that he be the perfect son. They groomed him to be something they could point to, something they could lord over his aunts, uncles, and their friends. It took Grant leaving home before he realized it. He was a weapon - a weapon of conspicuous consumption, and one-upmanship.

His parents had no gay friends. Though he couldn't remember them having an opinion on the topic, he had a suspicion they wouldn't be pleased by his newly discovered revelation about himself. That made his stomach hurt, simply thinking about it.

"Hey, Grant." Troy pulled up a chair, and he sat. Now his face showed concern. "What about this is tripping you up? What's stressing you out, because I can see you're stressed."

Grant rubbed his hands on his pants. "Ah, just people knowing, I guess." He bit his lip, and he made an angry sound. "I don't know why this is bothering me so much."

Troy put a hand on Grant's back, and he rubbed gently. "You get to pick and choose who knows, Grant." He shrugged. "For me, I was sick of hiding. I don't exactly wear it on my sleeve, but I also don't lie about it. Not for anybody."

Grant frowned, and he nodded. Then he smiled and laughed a little. "Man, that sounds so great, in theory."

Troy gave him that knowing smile. "Yep. It's harder when you get down to it. You never really know how someone is going to take it." Troy shrugged. "But that's not your issue, Grant. That's theirs."

Grant knew what Troy said was true. Intellectually, he realized it. But emotionally, it made his stomach drop to think of telling his family.

Troy still watched him. He patted Grant's back. "It's just gonna take time. It's something we've all got to work through." He let his hand go up, and rub the back of Grant's neck. "But if there's anything I can do to help you with it then let me know."

Grant let his neck relax, and Troy started to rub the tense muscles there. After a few squeezes, Troy stood up behind Grant's chair. He began to massage Grant's shoulders and his neck. "Mmm. That helps," Grant mumbled. Troy continued, and Grant could feel the tenseness lessen as Troy worked. Though, he also felt a little guilty about holding Troy up. "Don't," Grant wet his lips, "don't you have to talk to Aaron?"

"This is more important," Troy said. "Besides, that can wait. I want to make sure you're doing all right." He sighed. "I feel a little responsible for things."

Grant smiled, and his eyes fluttered as Troy hit a particularly tight spot. "I'm pretty sure I'm not just gay for you, Troy. I would have had to have dealt with this at some point." Grant then inhaled. "Oh, wow."

"What?" Troy's hands stopped moving, and they rested on Grant's shoulders. "What's wrong?"

"Uh, that's the first time I've said 'I'm gay' out loud." He took a long, deep breath, and he let it back out. "Wow."

Troy resumed his rub. "There will be a quite a few more 'firsts,' Grant." He leaned down and put his face by Grant's ear. "I'm honored, you know. To get to tag along with you during this time of your life."

Grant smiled and nervously laughed. "Is it weird, that I'm glad it's you? That you're the one to, uh, to touch me. And to show me how this all goes?"

"It's not weird. I'm pretty happy to do it." He grinned. "I mean, you're fucking hot."

Grant laughed. "Well, thanks." He leaned back and looked up at Troy. "You're pretty handsome yourself, Troy."

Troy smirked. "Listen to you; already charming the boys." Troy smiled down at him. They both stared at one another, then Troy leaned down, and gave Grant a gentle, searching kiss.

A few minutes later, Grant allowed the tall man to pull him up by his hand. Then Troy led Grant to the bedroom. Troy had such a pleasant expression on his face as he lay Grant back on the bed.

The dark-haired man looked up at him and squirmed to get out of his jeans. 'Yep. I'm definitely gay.'


25 November 2018, Sunday 6:12 PM

Troy sauntered over to Aaron and Georgette's house. He had spent a leisurely, slow, and sensual hour with Grant. His face still tingled from Grant's 5 o'clock shadow, as did his neck from the soft nibbles the dark-haired man lay on him.

Below the waist things were similar. Grant wasn't quite brave enough to try tasting him. But he loved to rub, stroke, and otherwise handle Troy's cock. Troy had no complaints.

Grant was busy cooking, while Troy walked over to see the neighbors. Troy stepped up on the front porch, and he knocked on the door.

It wasn't long before Georgette answered. "Troy!" She stood aside. "Come on in. We're sitting down to dinner. Did you and Grant want to join us? We're having lasagna, so there's plenty."

Troy immediately noticed the inclusion of Grant. "Uh, no thanks, Georgette. Grant is making something now." He made a face. "Sorry about crashing your dinner time."

"Oh, no problem." She followed Troy inside.

Troy walked in, and Aaron was serving up lasagna onto a couple of plates. He looked up at Troy and grinned. "Hey! How's it going, man?" Troy started to answer, but a frown from Aaron interrupted him. "Where's Grant?"

Now he knew something was up. "Grant's home." Troy crossed his arms over his chest. "Okay. Why did both of you ask about Grant?"

Georgette and Aaron glanced at one another. Troy could almost feel the guilt pass between them. He put a hand over his face and shook his head. "Wow. Natalie. Damn it. She couldn't keep it to herself."

"Nat didn't tell us anything!" Georgette said, her tone defensive. She looked at Aaron again, and she grimaced. "Brian did."

Troy groaned. "Damn it. Damn it."

"Dude, we're not gonna tell anybody," Aaron said. He got a lecherous expression on his face. "So, are you guys just messing around, or are you gonna try dating him?"

Troy let his hands flop down to his sides. "Neither? Uh, both?" He shook his head. "I don't know!" Troy felt a little bit of panic. He knew Grant might take all of Troy's friends knowing they had messed around as a betrayal of his trust. "Look, you guys really can't say anything to him! He has to be the one to tell you, okay?"

"Yeah!" Georgette pulled out a chair, and she sat down. She picked up her fork. "No problem. We can keep a secret."

Troy looked incredulously at her. "That has been demonstrated to be false - repeatedly."

Georgette made a face and tried to defend herself, but she had no example to stand on. "Harrumph!" She glared across the table at Aaron, who was trying not to laugh at her.

Aaron attempted a rescue. "Look, it's only going to stay in our circle. You know that, Troy." He smirked. "You can't ask one of us to keep a secret from the rest. That's against some kind of rule." Georgette nodded vigorously in agreement.

"Guys, this is not some surprise birthday party that SOMEONE," he glared at Georgette, "ruined. This is serious." Troy sighed. "Grant is just coming to terms with things, okay? Please, PLEASE, don't screw this up for me."

"Screw what up, Troy?" Georgette zeroed in like a shark. "What are you hoping to get out of Mr. Grant?"

Troy frowned, and struggled. "I, uh," he finally shook his head, and he deflated a little. "I don't know."

Both of his friends looked at him. Aaron smiled. "Troy, man. We're not gonna screw anything up for you. Okay?" He glanced at Georgette, then back to Troy. "It's, ah, it's obvious now that Grant means something more than a fling to you, right?"

"I don't," Troy's face fell, and he looked down. 'Fuck.' He couldn't help but think of John. His mouth worked, and he looked up. "Do you guys think I'm an awful person if maybe I do want something more with Grant?" He sighed. "I feel a little like I'm pissing on John's grave, you know?" Troy's voice cracked, and he frowned at himself.

Georgette stood up, and she went to him. "Oh, Troy! No!" She put her arms around him. Aaron got to his feet, and he put a hand on Troy's back. "No. Never. Your John would be so happy! He wouldn't want you to go through life alone. You know that."

"Yeah, man." Aaron patted his back. "He was all about you. He was all for making it about you." He smiled sadly. "He'd be pissed if you just pined away because he's gone."

Troy squeezed his eyes shut. He fought hard against crying, and he managed to avoid it - only just. He exhaled, deep and through his mouth. He finally nodded. "Yeah. I know." He laughed. "You're right. He'd be pissed."

Troy stayed a little longer and talked to the pair while they ate dinner. Then he got up and headed back to his own home. He felt better about things. His friends were all good folks, and they made a lot of sense. As he got to his front door, Troy stopped and burst into a full laugh. Then he spun on his heel, shaking his head at himself.

"I still need to ask Aaron about the website." With a snort of amusement, he walked up and knocked on their door, one more time.


25 November 2018, Sunday 8:47 PM

"Yeah?" Brian nodded as he spoke on the phone. He looked over at Natalie and she, in turn, watched him and his expressions as he talked to Aaron. "So he admitted he's looking for more. Well, we all could see it. How they both look at each other, and how they act."

Natalie came to sit beside him on the couch, and Brian put his thick arm around her. "Yeah, I know. I'm a little worried about Troy too." Brian's jaw clenched and relaxed as he listened. "Well, I think we need to get to know Grant a little better. You know? Before we can really judge him." A moment passed then Brian sighed. "Yeah, I know he helped Troy. He helped him plenty, I get that." Brian squeezed Natalie. "I guess I need to know if it's for the right reasons. I don't think Troy can handle things going sideways on him with this guy."

Natalie watched Brian's face. The big man loved Troy. And when he disappeared, Natalie thought Brian would go crazy in his zeal to find his best friend. Natalie knew Brian would do anything for Troy. And that included breaking a certain black-haired newcomer in half if he thought that was what was needed. 'I swear, Brian has a man crush on Troy. If he were gay, he'd be all on that.'

Brian's eyes widened, then he sat forward. "Oh, that's a great idea." He slowly grinned. "Yeah. Let's do it. You guys wanna host?"

Natalie frowned as she tried to puzzle what they were talking about.

"Okay. Oh man, this is such a great idea. Oh! But we have to make sure to do it in order. First, Firefly, then Serenity." Brian grinned at Natalie, and she flopped back on the couch.

"ANOTHER Firefly marathon?!!? Oh god."

"Hang on Aaron. I have to set someone straight here." Brian held his hand over the phone. "Woman! This is a test! If he doesn't like Firefly, then he's not good enough for Troy."

"No, then he's not good enough for YOU." Natalie rolled around on the couch in only half-pretend agony. "Ughhhh."

Brian sniffed at her, then he went back to the phone. "Aaron? Yeah. Yeah, she is. I know." He looked at Natalie, obvious disappointment on his face. "Yeah, right? I'd take Troy if I were queer too."

Natalie grabbed the pillow on the couch, sat up, and nailed Brian before he could defend himself.

Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts about the chapter at the following email address link.   Wayne Gray

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