"Hi, this is Kyle. I'm not able to take your call right now, so please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible." BEEP.
"Kyle, this is Karin. Please give me a call when you get a chance. Thanks. Bye for now." She hung up. "Well, that's strange."
"What's strange?" Denise asked.
Karin sat on the couch, snuggling up to her girlfriend. "Kyle changed the message on his answering machine."
"It just says 'This is Kyle', nothing about Jay." She responded, puzzled.
"I wonder what's going on."
"Well, there's one way to find out." She picked up the phone and dialed.
"Hi, Kim, it's Karin. Have you heard anything about Kyle and Jay having any problems?"
"Yeah, Kyle came home from work last week and caught Jay having sex with another guy in the middle of the living room floor."
"Please tell me you're joking," Karin replied, shocked.
"Believe me, I wish I could, but it's true. The next time I see Jay I'm going to rip him several new ones. I'm going up one side of him, down the other and back up the middle. My little brother is completely devastated. According to Tommy, he's blaming himself."
"He told Tommy and Andy that he was too old, ugly, or fat for him."
"Big way. He considers himself a twinkie because he's blond and built like a brick shithouse."
"That's bullshit. Twinkies strip and throw themselves on their backs with their legs in the air anytime a man snaps his fingers. Not to mention their 'I'll-stand-and-model-because-I'm-so-much-better-than-you' attitudes, and the fact that most of them are incapable of carrying on an intelligent conversation on any subject other than themselves. Kyle's no more of a twinkie than you and I are."
"I agree, but that's how he feels about himself."
"Why do I have a feeling that his ex is behind that? Well, we'll just have to do something about that, won't we? Do you think it would be okay if I call him?"
"I don't know. You can try. He needs as many of his friends around him right now as he can get."
"Okay, let me give him a call."
"Wait a minute, Karin. I think there's more to it than the obvious."
"Like he was threatened somehow or forced into it."
"He's an FBI Agent. He wouldn't submit to threats." Karin responded.
"Not against himself, but against Kyle?"
"Oh shit!" She cried. "Omigod, is Kyle all right?"
"Physically, he's fine." Kim soothed. "But like I said, emotionally he's pretty messed up. Tommy and Andy are keeping an eye on him and trying to be there whenever he needs them without smothering him."
Alarmed, Karin asked a question to which she dreaded the answer. "You don't think he'd do anything stupid, do you?"
"Not at all," Kim assured her, "especially with the exhibit going so well."
"What exhibit?" she asked.
"Didn't you get my message the other day?"
"No. What message?" She shot Denise a quizzical look, who simply shrugged.
"He's exhibiting some of his paintings at the art gallery, and sold quite a few. I went and checked it out the other day. I didn't know he had so many. I've only seen a handful of them, which were awesome, but compared to the ones in the exhibit, they look like a child's drawing made with crayons. He's truly gifted, and it's wonderful to see him finally get the recognition he deserves."
"Wow! That's fantastic news." She turned to her girlfriend. "Kyle's got an exhibit at the art gallery and has sold several of his paintings. We have to go check it out." she said excitedly. Denise smiled and gave an enthusiastic double 'thumbs-up'. "I don't think I've ever seen any of his paintings."
Finally, "Actually, you have. He did the one over my fireplace."
"Kyle did that? Wow. I thought you guys bought it somewhere. It's stunning." Noting the quizzical look on Denise's face, she explained. "Kyle did the painting Kim and Bryan have over their fireplace."
"You're kidding, right?"
Karin shook her head. "No, Kim just told me."
"We have to go check out the exhibit, like yesterday," Denise informed Karin excitedly.
"Gotta go. Please keep me posted. Thanks, Kim."
"Give Bryan a big hug for me and let me know if you find out anything more."
"Sure will, Karin. Later!"
"Bye-bye." She dialed Kyle's number. On the third ring, he picked up.
"Hello?" He said quietly.
All the while she was talking to Kim she hoped it was a prank. Hearing Kyle's normally upbeat voice so subdued dashed that hope into the ground. What Kim had told her was true. Her heart broke for her beloved cousin. Her voice trembled as she spoke. "Oh, Kyle, Kim just told me what happened. I'm so, so, so very sorry. Is there anything I can do?"
"Hi Karin, thanks, but there's nothing anyone can do. I just have to figure out to deal with it. Right now, I just don't know what to do."
"So, what happened? I thought you two were getting on so well?"
"So, did I, but I obviously did something wrong. Why else would he have cheated on me?" Kyle replied tersely.
"Now you listen to me, Kyle Matthews. You did nothing wrong. It wasn't your fault." Karin's voice raised a notch.
"If I didn't do anything make him cheat on me, then kindly explain to me why he did it?" Kyle responded with equal heat.
"I'm afraid only Jay could answer that. But I know you, Kyle. You would do anything to please him. I seem to recall an incident involving handcuffs that scared you shitless, but you went along with it anyway."
He shuddered at the memory of the night he had allowed Jay to handcuff him to the bed and do whatever he wanted to him. Even though they weren't real handcuffs, being made out of plastic with a release button that he could easily reach, he was still scared out of his mind, and for once in his life didn't enjoy Jay being inside him and had wished it never happened. "You knew about that?" He asked, horrified. If she knew, how many others did?
"Yeah, don't you remember telling me about it? I ran into you at the coffee shop the following morning and you were still frightened by the whole thing. It took me over an hour to get you to open up. I wanted to go smack the shit out of him over that."
"Fortunately, he never asked me to do it again. I'm not into bondage, S & M, bad porn dialogue or any of that other stuff. To me, that's not love. That's abuse." He snapped his fingers. "That's it. That's why he cheated on me. He likes it rough. From what little I saw, the guy screwing him was really rough. I saw him punch Jay in the kidney and he did nothing but lay there. I know he enjoyed it because when he got up he was hard as a rock."
"Haven't you ever had an erection when you didn't want it?"
Caught off guard, he could only respond truthfully. "Yeah, I did. Why do you ask?" he responded with an embarrassed chuckle.
"It was a physiological response to stimulus, right?"
"I guess so." Where is she going with this? He wondered.
"It's a medically-proven fact massaging a man's prostate gland can not only cause him to have an erection, but also ejaculate without any other touch or stimulus. Am I correct?"
Reluctantly, Kyle had to admit she had a point. "So, what's your point?"
"That his arousal was the result of the stimulation of his prostate, not by his enjoyment."
"Perhaps you're right." He admitted.
"You need to talk to him and find out why he did it. You need closure, so you can get on with your life."
"Jay was my life. I feel so alone."
"You're not alone, Kyle. Everyone is here for you."
"Except for the one person who swore he'd always be there for me."
Karin was at a complete loss as to what to say. "Well, if you need anything, a place to get away to, or a shoulder to cry on, you have my number. Use it." She commanded.
"Thanks Karin. I may take you up on that offer."
"You'd better. Bye, Kyle.