Chapter 12

Three days after Jack had invited Ennis to his home for Christmas, the semester ended, and they would be leaving for West Virginia in a couple of days. Jack was looking forward to introducing his boyfriend to his family; he knew that they would welcome him and make him feel at home.

When Jack came out and his parents had offered their support, they had also said that if and when he started dating, then he was welcome to bring someone home to meet them, but only if it was serious; they didn't want just anybody in their home. Jack knew it would be okay; he was very serious about Ennis, and he had called his mother back to tell her that this was for real. She was happy for him and promised to do whatever she could to make Ennis feel welcome.

Right now, they were helping Lureen to pack her things. She was going home to Texas and was looking forward to it. She'd considered taking part in a barrel racing event over the holidays.

"Christ, why do girls have so much stuff?" Jack muttered as he brought more of her clothes out of the wardrobe. Lureen rolled her eyes.

"Because we do. You guys are always so scruffy. Even you, Jack. You ain't though, Ennis," she added thoughtfully, looking over his shirt, neatly tucked into his jeans. "You're always lookin' presentable. I guess opposites attract..."

Jack smiled and looked at Ennis, eyeballing his ass through his jeans. "We sure do." Ennis smiled back and started to help Lureen fold her clothes. Jack sighed and stretched.

"I'm gonna go to the bathroom," he said, waving a hand as he left.

"Lazy bastard," Lureen called after him, and she could hear him laughing. Ennis smirked and they went back to work. After a few moments, Lureen turned to him.

"So...gettin' ready to meet the parents?" she asked, smiling in amusement. Ennis nodded.

"I guess. Never expected this, but...ain't like I've got somewhere else to go." He looked downcast, so Lureen put a hand on his arm.

"Ennis...I'm real sorry about your daddy, but you can't keep blamin' yourself. You'll just make yourself ill. I know that families can be like that. I'm from out West too, remember? That's just how they are out there, an' there ain't nothin' we can do. You've just gotta keep goin'. An' think about what Jack's done...he's invited you to his home, an' his family's all for it. My mama always told me to count my blessin's...did your mama ever say that?"

"Yeah," he admitted. "She did. An' yer right, Lureen. I'm real lucky to have Jack." At this moment, the man himself came back into the room and smiled.

"Everything okay?" he asked, and Ennis's eyes lit up at the sight of him. Jack was the love of his life; he was sure of that now. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with him.

"Just fine, Jack," he said quietly, still looking at him. Jack gave him a funny look at the way he was staring at him, but then smiled. Sometimes no words were needed.

"Good." He went back over to the wardrobe and retrieved more of Lureen's clothes. The suitcase was getting full now and they were almost done. Last to go in were Lureen's hair products, and they managed to close it.

"Why is it that I seem to have more now than I did when I came?" she mused, looking down at it with her hands on her hips. Jack nudged her.

"Because you're addicted to shopping," he reminded her, and she grinned.

"Guess so." She sighed and turned to them. "We better get movin'."

"What time's your flight?" asked Jack; he had offered to drive her to Bradley Airport in nearby Connecticut so she could fly home. Ennis, meanwhile, had decided to get some sleep. He was still a little drained by the conversation with his father.

She checked her watch. "About four hours. It'll take us an hour to get to the airport, an' you know they always take ages to get goin'. Maybe we could go in about an hour?"

"Sure. Let's get some lunch." They all headed to the diner, enjoying their last meal together of this year. It was colder than ever now, and a light snow was falling. There was something very romantic about it, and Jack just wanted to snuggle close to Ennis and bury himself in his warmth. Maybe they could do that at the manor.

An hour later, Jack and Lureen were bidding goodbye to Ennis. Lureen took her things down to Jack's car, while he stood in their room with Ennis, their arms around each other and mouths meeting in firm kisses.

"Be back in a couple hours..." Jack whispered, kissing at Ennis's face. They brought their foreheads together and looked into each other's eyes, sealing their connection.

"I know, but...gonna miss you. You sure the car's okay?" Ennis asked, looking apprehensive.

Jack smiled. "Yeah. Had it checked and everything. It's fine, cowboy. Don't worry, okay?"

"Can't help it, Jack. Don't want nothin' to happen to you." They kissed again and Jack held Ennis close.

"I'll be fine. Tell you what, I'll send you a text when I drop her off, alright?"

"Okay. Be careful, darlin'..." Ennis whispered into Jack's ear.

They kissed a few more times and then Jack reluctantly prised himself away from Ennis's embrace, smiling at him. He was then gone and Ennis sighed, feeling as if a part of himself had just left the room.

Jack and Lureen talked and laughed on the way to the airport, and she waved as she left him in the car, promising to call when she could. Jack turned the car around and eagerly began the journey back, wanting to be alone with Ennis again. It was as if being together charged their batteries for when they were apart, keeping them going until they were together again.

Two days later, the semester was finished, and Ennis and Jack were packing up to leave for West Virginia. Jack was very excited to introduce Ennis to his family and he knew in his heart that they would accept him. Even his father, who stood tall as the man of the family, was a very nice person who cared about him and his siblings. He knew that his father would be proud to have someone like Ennis in his house; someone who cared about him and made him happy. And Jack had a feeling that his sisters would love him.

Jack decided to tell Ennis about the family home on the way there, and he knew that Ennis would love it. He no longer felt embarrassed about his personal wealth compared to Ennis; just because there was a financial difference between them didn't mean that they couldn't love each other. Jack had a considerable inheritance that he'd tried to keep under wraps with respect for Ennis's feelings. He wanted to invest it in a future with Ennis, one that they could enjoy without having to worry.

They were in their room, packing their suitcases on their respective beds and occasionally talking. Just like with Lureen, they found that they had more things to pack than they had brought with them. Jack finished first and was struggling to get it all in and zip it up. He grunted and then sighed. "Ennis?"

Ennis turned. "What's up?" Jack looked at him helplessly, needing some assistance if this was going to be done.

"Could you help me with this?" he asked, and Ennis nodded, smiling at him.

"Sure." Ennis sat on the suitcase, pressing down as much as he could. He was irresistibly reminded of when he was riding Jack. As he kept the suitcase down, Jack reached around and managed to zip it up. Ennis got up and Jack patted the suitcase happily.

"There. We make a good team, right?" he asked, smiling up at Ennis, who put an arm around him, squeezing him tightly and planting a kiss in his hair.

"We sure do." They got Ennis's suitcase packed and zipped up. They looked around the room, double-checking that they had everything with them. When they were satisfied, they used the bathroom and then headed downstairs in the elevator, eager to get on the road and to West Virginia.

They ultimately decided to put Ennis's truck in a secure garage on campus, locking it up for the holidays, and take Jack's car to his family's house. They wanted to spend as much time together as they could lately.

They drove for a few hours through Connecticut, enjoying the sunshine and the good company.

"So whereabouts do you guys live?" Ennis asked as they drove along the road. Jack cleared his throat.

"Well, the manor is a little ways outside Elkins. Really nice area, really lush. You know? It's so beautiful in the summer. You remember how I said my family's really big? great-great-great-grandad built the manor, back in the 1920s. It's been passed down my family, right until my dad. My big brother was set to inherit it before he moved, so I'm thinking it might go to me, if I want it. I'm not sure yet. Everybody's scattered all over the country, and we all get together once a year, at Christmas. So it's gonna be a full house when everybody's there. But the thing is, the manor's huge. Got loads of bedrooms so we're not all on top of each other. Everybody gets their own space and there's plenty of freedom to wander around."

Ennis was nodding as Jack spoke, already forming in his mind an image of what the manor might look like. "Wow...that sounds great, Jack..."

Jack smiled. "It is. There's some stables too; we've got some really beautiful horses that I know you'd love." He looked at Ennis, seeing the interest there. "And we have some tennis courts too, but we only really use them in the summer. But I'm telling you,'s a brilliant place. The main family room has this giant fireplace that we all gather around in the evening. We could snuggle together in a big armchair, if you wanted...nobody would bother, you know."

Their eyes met for a second, and Ennis shifted. "Maybe, Jack. I'd sure like that, and if you say that nobody would bother, I believe you. But...I dunno. Guess we'll see when we get there."

"I understand, cowboy. No big deal. There's another thing too. We're allowed to share a bedroom. My ma said it'd be fine, since we're already sleeping together. Relax, Ennis, it's okay. She's fine with it."

Ennis looked at him. "You sure? I don't wanna go offendin' her..."

Jack shook his head. "It's okay, she's cool with it. I'd sure like to share a bed with you, you know. The quilts are so thick and warm, you'd love them. We'd be real comfy."

"Well...wouldn't be the worst thing, I guess. I'd love to do that too. Be nice to hold you under a warm quilt..." he trailed off, already thinking about what it might be like. He would love to hold Jack close; wrap him up in his arms and thank him for being so loving and caring.

They drove for a few more hours until they reached Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They took a room in a motel and made use of a sturdy yet scratchy bed. They made love for about an hour, exploring each other thoroughly and getting a huge thrill out of doing this in public, away from the privacy of their room. Jack then turned onto his side and Ennis spooned around him, rubbing his stomach and kissing the back of his neck. He was immensely grateful to Jack for helping him when he'd been in trouble. Jack had stepped up and solved the problem right away, and Ennis would never forget it. He would love Jack for the rest of his life, he was sure.

The next day, they reached West Virginia in the early afternoon. It was a truly beautiful area, and Ennis could tell that during the summer, it was a very lush area. Right now, though, there was snow everywhere, covering the ground and hanging from the trees, giving it a winter wonderland kind of feel. He looked out of the window in interest; it had been so different on the drive towards Massachusetts in August. Jack caught the expression of wonder on his face and smiled to himself.

As they drove, Jack pointed out a few areas of interest, including a national park and his old high school. Ennis felt as if he was discovering more and more about Jack as time went on, and he liked it.

Jack rounded a corner and started driving up a small hill, and the family manor came into view. Ennis's mouth opened slightly; it was absolutely beautiful. It was a Tudor-style, two-storey sprawling mansion that stood quietly on the hill, and it struck Ennis then just how rich Jack's family must be. He swallowed down his nerves and searched for Jack's hand, finding it and squeezing his fingers. Jack sensed how overwhelmed he was and squeezed back.

"You okay?" he asked, glancing at him as they neared the manor. Ennis could see a deep blue Toyota parked outside, just like Jack's.

"Yeah, I'm fine," he answered, trying to smile. Jack nodded and carried on driving, parking next to his mother's car and turning off the ignition. Ennis gazed up at the mansion, thoroughly impressed by what he was seeing. He could picture himself spending Christmas here with Jack.

"'s beautiful, Jack..." He looked across at his lover, who smiled.

"Sure is. You ready to go in? That's my mother's dad must be out."

Ennis nodded and they got out, crunching up through the snow and to the front door. There were thick bushes around the front door, which was made of a deep mahogany wood. Jack hoped that Ennis wouldn't feel too intimidated by his wealth. He wanted Ennis to feel at home here. They exchanged a quick kiss for good luck and Jack whispered words of encouragement to him.

Jack took a deep breath and knocked at the door, hoping that everything would be okay. He gave Ennis an encouraging look and Ennis tried to calm his nerves. After a couple of seconds, the door was opened by a red-haired woman; clearly in her forties but still very beautiful. Her face lit up when she saw Jack.

"Jack! Come here, honey!" They embraced warmly and then turned to Ennis, immediately realising who he was.

"Ma, this is Ennis," he said shakily, hardly daring to believe that he was doing this for real. Ennis cleared his throat and offered his hand.

"Um, afternoon, Mrs Twist," he said, trying to smile. Jack's mother shook his hand, smiling warmly at him.

"You too, Ennis. Please, call me Karen. Jack's told me a lot about you."

Ennis nodded. "Yeah, he's told me a lot 'bout you guys, too. Sure am grateful that you can have me here for Christmas, ma'am."

"Oh, it's no trouble," she said, waving a hand. "Come on in out of the cold, then. Your daddy's gone picking up your grandma, Jack; he should be back soon."

Jack nodded and they made their way inside. Ennis's mouth opened again at the sight of the interior. In front of them was a large hallway, and he could see an overhead balcony at the top of the stairs, leading to the second floor. There were a number of rooms on either side, and the whole room gave a welcoming feeling, drawing him in.

"Um...this is a real nice place, Mrs Twist," he said in awe. She exchanged a smile with Jack.

"Thank you, Ennis. Come on in to the kitchen, boys." She walked off and Jack briefly grasped Ennis's hand.

"Hey, you sure you're okay? Sorry if you feel intimidated..."

Ennis shook his head. "I'm fine, really. Just a lot to take in. I'll be fine." He smiled at Jack and they followed Karen to the kitchen. They took a seat at the kitchen counter and she brought out some homemade cookies for them.

"So, Ennis...Jack told me you're from Wyoming, right?"

"Um, yeah. Sage, near the Utah border. I live...uh...lived with my parents on their ranch..." He lowered his eyes, remembering the hateful words that his father had spoken to him. Karen sighed.

"I'm sorry about your father, Ennis...Jack told me what he said. Are you okay?"

He shrugged. "Tryin' not to think on it too much. Just glad that I had somewhere to go for the holidays." He looked between them, a grateful look on his face. Jack put an arm around him.

"You'll always have somewhere to go, Ennis," he promised, smiling at him. Karen caught the look of adoration that passed between them and she smiled, pleased that her son was happy at last.

A few minutes later, they could hear voices in the hallway; Jack's father had returned with his grandmother. Jack nodded encouragingly at Ennis, who took his hand for a moment. They came in and Karen jumped up to kiss her husband. He and Jack's grandmother then turned their attention to the boys.

"Oh, you must be Ennis," said Jack's father, smiling and extending a hand. Ennis got the impression that while he was the patriarch of the house, and was probably one of those men with a strong backbone that stood tall, he also seemed to be kind and protective. Ennis was already feeling quite welcome in this house. "Nice to meet you, I'm Richard."

Ennis nodded and shook his hand. "Thank you, sir. You too." Jack grinned and hugged his father and grandmother.

"Ennis, this is my mother, Janet Twist," said Richard, indicating his mother. Ennis shook her hand and she smiled.

"He's a handsome one, Jack," she said to her grandson, who blushed and grinned. She'd always been good at voicing her thoughts.

"Yeah, he is," he admitted, glancing at Ennis. The four of them spent the next hour in the kitchen, talking about all the family members that would be coming to stay. Ennis was already starting to feel like one of the family.

Later in the afternoon, relatives started to arrive, including Jack's aunt, uncle and cousin from Pennsylvania. Greetings were exchanged and Jack took Ennis and his cousin Jessica into a sitting room on the opposite side of the hallway so they could relax.

"So, what's new?" asked Jack as he and Ennis sat comfortably on the sofa, and Jess took the chair near them. She smiled serenely to herself.

"Well...something pretty good, actually. Listen...for a while now, I've been doing some thinking about myself." She sighed. "I'm a lesbian, Jack."

The pair of them looked surprised, and Jack leaned forward. "Really?" He hadn't been expecting that.

She nodded, looking happy. "I've been feeling like this for ages, but never had the guts to really think it through. Then last year, when you came were so happy. I saw how your parents accepted you, and how the family supported you. After that, I wasn't so scared of the whole thing. I thought about it more and more...and came to a decision that it wasn't something I had any control over. Like with you, it's just who I am."

Jack nodded and boldly took Ennis's hand, squeezing his fingers. Ennis smiled back at him. "It is, Jess. Are you happier now?"

Jess nodded, smiling at them both. "I sure am. And I know you are now, too. I'm really happy for you guys."

They smiled at each other, and Jack knew that he'd done the right thing by asking Ennis to come here. This would be good for both of them.

More relatives arrived a little later, and Jack had been right; he did have a big family. His little sisters loved Ennis, and shared a passion for horses. He thoroughly entertained them with stories of his life on the ranch, trying not to feel too sad about the fact that he would no longer be going back.

At around four, Jack's older brother James arrived with his girlfriend, and he was pleased to meet Ennis. He was quite protective of Jack and wanted him to be happy. Ennis was starting to feel very comfortable here and he was grateful to Jack for suggesting this. He started to wonder what he could do for Jack in return.

An hour later, the family sat to a big dinner in the dining room. Ennis had never seen so much food in his life before, and he hoped that Jack's family wouldn't see him as a dumb, country hick. Jack had already tried to reassure him that they weren't snobs and that they were happy to have him here. And it was true; all of them were grateful to see Jack so happy and they could see that Ennis was good for him.

They all settled down and started eating, and Ennis was surprised by the level of conversation. Back at home, the three of them had always been silent at meals. But here, everybody was talkative. Family members from different states brought news from home and they talked about what was going on in their lives.

"So, you two," said Jack's aunt, who was Jessica's mother. "How long have you been together?"

Ennis and Jack looked at each other. "Um, well...since October. We were friends at first, and...things just happened." Jack smiled, and his aunt nodded. "Been really great so far."

"Yeah, sure has," Ennis agreed, looking shyly at Jack. His parents caught the look and smiled at each other. They could see how happy their son was now that he was with Ennis, and made a mental note to thank him.

The rest of the meal passed pleasantly, and then everybody cleared up and wandered off through the manor, either in pairs or threes, and Jack turned to Ennis.

"Hey, you wanna get a drink and sit down somewhere? Got plenty of rooms, we can have some privacy."

Ennis nodded. "Sure, that sounds great." They got a couple of beers from the fridge and headed through the house, looking for an empty room. They found one near the back door and sat on the loveseat, curling up together and enjoying the crackling fire. Jack had mentioned that they had a maid and a butler who took care of the chores for them. He'd been quick to point out that they were well paid and treated as members of the family.

"So, how'd you like it today?" Jack asked, looking over at Ennis and stroking his arm. Ennis smiled and rested his head on the back of the loveseat, gazing at Jack.

"Pretty good, Jack. You were right; your family's real nice. An' I admit I was worried about how they might react to me, with me bein' so different, was okay. They're great, Jack."

Jack smiled and leaned in, kissing Ennis as he had wanted to all day, gently probing his mouth with his tongue and drawing a low moan out of him. Ennis had always loved kissing Jack; when their mouths met, it was like two pieces of a puzzle fitting into place. They felt right together, as if they were meant to be like this. And both of them knew in their hearts that this was how things were supposed to be. This was for keeps.

"Mmm...Jack..." They kept kissing and Ennis slipped an arm around Jack, holding him close. They were warm and comfortable in here, and Jack would have liked nothing more than to strip them both naked and make love in front of the fireplace. But time was wearing on and they would have to move soon. After a few more minutes of kissing, they drained their drinks and decided to call it a night. Jack went into the kitchen to throw away the empty bottles and Ennis hovered at the bottom of the stairs, needing Jack to show him to their bedroom. He was looking forward to getting in a warm bed with Jack.

Jack came back and took his hand, smiling softly. "Ready to go up?" Ennis nodded, breathing deeply.

"Yeah, darlin'. Let's get goin'."

Jack led Ennis up the stairs and along a couple of hallways, occasionally seeing a family member also on their way to bed. At the very back of the house, they stopped at the room where Jack normally slept while he was here. It was a fairly large room, with a canopy double bed and a welcoming fireplace. Ennis looked around in wonder.

"This is your room?" he asked in awe, taking in the warmth that the room seemed to give. Jack smiled at him.

"It's yours too, as long as I'm here, bud. We've got an en-suite, so we don't have to leave the room if we wanna use the bathroom. You like it?"

"Yeah, it''s great. Um...we gonna go to bed?" he asked, looking at Jack and going a little red. Jack grinned, knowing what he was asking.

"Uh-huh. You wanna use the bathroom before we get in?" Ennis nodded and they went into the bathroom. After cleaning their teeth and making sure their other areas were clean, they came back into the main room and stood on either side of the bed. They stripped and crawled in, the warmth and comfort hitting Ennis immediately. He felt as if he'd sunk into a warm bath, and he could see himself settling in here just fine.

When they were comfortable, they turned onto their sides and gazed at each other. They liked the fact that they could be this close and yet have room to stretch out. Being in a double bed was much better.

"Come here..." Jack whispered, leaning in to kiss Ennis, who smiled with anticipation. He always got a butterfly-like feeling in his stomach when they were in bed together, about to do something. Their lips met firmly yet gently, and Jack's hand was immediately in Ennis's curls, gripping a little as they kissed and their tongues found each other.

After a few seconds of deep kissing, Ennis boldly put a hand on Jack's chest and gently pushed him down onto his back, feeling him moan into his mouth. He straddled Jack and buried his fingers in the dark hair, kissing his neck and feeling Jack wrap his own arms around his neck. They kissed for a few more moments and then Ennis pulled away.

"Where's the stuff?" he whispered, not liking the thought of having to pull himself away from Jack. But his lover just smiled serenely, looking pleased with himself.

"In the nightstand," he replied, nodding next to the bed. "I put it in there when I brought the bags up earlier, figured we'd need it."

Ennis smiled at Jack's foresight and he leaned across to retrieve their handy tube. He kept kissing Jack as he lowered his hands and prepared himself, unwilling to let go of Jack's soft lips. Tossing the tube back to the nightstand, he looked into Jack's eyes, needing to feel him and be with him.

"You ready?" he whispered, and Jack nodded, eyes full of desire.

"Yeah, come on..." Ennis pushed Jack's legs apart and started to ease himself in. After the first time he'd done this, it came a lot easier to him now. His desire to connect with Jack overrode any hesitation he felt.

Once inside Jack, he lowered himself down and Jack held him close, wrapping him up in his arms and feeling complete. Ennis slipped his hands under Jack's back and looked into his eyes. He slowly began to move inside him; smooth thrusts that took him all the way before pulling back. Jack's eyes fell shut as he met Ennis's movements, raising his hips in time and making a soft moaning noise that drove Ennis crazy. He planted his lips on Jack's and went looking for his tongue with his own, plunging in deep like he was into Jack's ass.

Jack wrenched his mouth away, gasping as Ennis brushed against his prostate, making him shiver with delight all over. His mouth was covered again and he kissed back eagerly, loving how it felt when Ennis kissed him. He loved every aspect of their lovemaking.

"Ennis..." he moaned into his lover's mouth. "Oh God..."

They pulled apart again and Ennis thrust in as deeply as he could go, making Jack open his mouth in shock and ecstasy. It was a little painful, but in a good way. He didn't ever want it to end; wanted them to be like this forever.

"Jack," Ennis choked out, trying desperately to get to that place and knowing that it was going to be worth it. "Oh...darlin'..." He gritted his teeth and buried his face in Jack's neck, now thrusting uncontrollably and repeatedly. Jack pushed his head back into the pillow, eyes shut again as he groaned, needing release.

With a few final thrusts, they were finally there; Ennis spilled into Jack suddenly, which triggered Jack's own finish, the warmth blooming between their sweating bodies. Ennis collapsed onto Jack and panted to get his breath back, while Jack weaved his arms back around Ennis and nuzzled into his curls.

"That was wonderful, Ennis..." he whispered into his ear, satisfied and happy.

"Mmm...I ain't as good as you," came the soft reply. Jack smiled and ran a hand down Ennis's back.

"I dunno, cowboy...that was really something. You're really good, you know."

Ennis pulled himself up to look into Jack's loving gaze. "Thanks, Jack," he said, looking pleased by the praise. "Love you."

"Love you too, Ennis." They kissed once more and then disentangled themselves, eager to get some sleep and energy for the next day. Jack spooned around Ennis and kissed the back of his neck a couple of times, feeling loved and thoroughly taken care of. He had to admit that Ennis was a wonderful lover, despite how nervous he could still be. Hopefully, their relationship would grow and grow until they were both more confident, maybe even to the point where they could hold hands in public, or maybe even kiss and nobody would bat an eyelid. That would be worth all the trouble they had to go through as a gay couple, and Jack was fully confident that they would get there in the end.