Chapter 13

December 12th - 20th, 2003

Over the next week, Ennis found himself settling in well to the Twist Manor. The entire family was very friendly and welcoming, and completely unlike the people from back home. Everything was so quiet and rigid back in Wyoming, but this house was full of life. Jack's little sisters were very sweet and his parents were very welcoming. Ennis kept having thoughts that maybe one day he could live here properly with them; maybe in the summer when the year was over. But that was way into the future, and they had things to think about now.

Jack showed Ennis the rest of the manor as the days passed; he took him to their own library, which was quiet and a perfect place for them to do their assignments. He briefly showed Ennis the tennis courts, but neither of them was all that interested in the sport. He then showed Ennis the stables, where his eyes lit up at the sight of their horses. Jack smiled as he watched him move around, looking at the horses and getting to know them. He too was having thoughts of Ennis moving in here permanently.

They sat in the library one quiet day, next to the window where they could see snow silently falling. Their books and notes were spread out as they sat opposite each other, and Ennis really enjoyed the notion of being here in this quiet part of the house with Jack. It felt as if they were the only two people in the world.

"Hey, do you know when Lureen's gonna call?" asked Ennis, looking up at Jack. He shook his head.

"No, she just said that she'd call when she could. She was on about taking part in some barrel racing over in Texas, so that's probably taking up some of her time. I miss her too, to be honest. She really helped us out, didn't she?"

Ennis nodded. "Yeah, she did." He then looked over Jack's face, his eyes twinkling at him. He smiled a little at Jack, who gave him a funny look.

"What?" he asked, smirking a little. Ennis shook his head.

"Sorry, I just...can't believe all this. We've only been together nearly three months, an'...here we are. I'm at your family home, everybody's real nice...just wanna say thank you, Jack."

Jack smiled. "That's alright, Ennis. You know I'd do anything to help you out, especially after what happened with your father. I love you, cowboy, and that's just how it is. And my family are nice to you because you mean so much to me. And I bet they like you for you; you're a really great guy, Ennis..."

Ennis shifted. "I dunno about that...I ain't perfect." Jack shrugged.

"Hell, nobody's perfect." He tilted his head. "But you're perfect to me, Ennis. That's all I care about." Ennis blushed.

"Jack...I dunno what to say. Um...right back at you." Their hands slid across the desk to link together, fingers squeezing gently. Jack sighed happily as he gazed at Ennis.

"You wanna go downstairs and get some lunch?" he asked, and Ennis nodded.

"Yeah, sounds good." They packed up all of their things and left them in their room, noting that the sheets had been changed and wondering what the maid might have thought about their old ones. Still, Jack reasoned that they probably weren't the only couple in the house having sex, so the maid was likely used to it by now. As far as he was concerned, they had every right to be sleeping together here.

They headed into the kitchen to find Jessica in the fridge, hunting around for some food of her own. "Hey," said Jack, and she brought her head out of the fridge to grin at them.

"Hey, guys. How's it going? Just looking for some lunch."

Jack nodded and they moved forward. "We were thinking of the same thing. What are you having?"

"I was thinking maybe I'd have a bit of fried chicken," she replied, bringing out a box, and they looked at each other with secretive grins on their faces. That brought back a lot of fond memories for them.

"What?"

"It's just...you know over at college, how we share a room? Well...we always tend to have lunch in our room together, and...that's what we have," said Jack, grinning. Jessica nodded.

"Right. Well, you want some?" They nodded and helped her to prepare the meal. When they sat at the table, Jessica cleared her throat.

"Can I ask you guys something?"

"Sure."

"Well...how did you guys get together? How did you know it was okay to make a move?"

They told her everything; how they had been friends, and grown closer over the first month. They talked about their dreams of each other that triggered their own feelings, and how awkward it had been to be around each other. They then told her about their locker room encounter and what the end result had been. By the time they were finished, the chicken was ready and Jessica looked fascinated.

"Wow...that's quite something. So you each had feelings for each other, but thought the other wasn't interested?"

Ennis and Jack looked at each other and linked their hands together, smiling at each other. They could look back on it with irony now, but would never forget how hard it had been during that first month. "Pretty much. But I'm glad we finally got on the same page." Ennis nodded and squeezed Jack's hand.

"I bet. You guys are a real inspiration, you know that? I'm just hoping that I can find someone..."

Jack clapped a hand to her shoulder. "You will, don't worry about it. Everybody finds that someone in the end. We're just lucky that we found each other at our age; we've got our whole lives ahead of us."

An' I only wanna spend it with you, Ennis thought as he looked at Jack. He was his soulmate, and this was how it would always be from now on.


Later that day, Jack decided to spend some time with his little sisters, and Ennis decided to hang around the house and stables, exploring some more. Jack's parents had given their permission for him to wander around as much as he liked, so he decided that it might be fun to see what the house had to offer.

He made his way out to the stables, and walked down towards a beautiful brown mare that he'd taken a shine to. He let himself into her stall and grabbed a brush, his calm demeanour making her trust him. He'd always had a knack with animals. She carried on drinking from her trough, allowing him to brush her flanks.

Ennis heard a noise and jumped, looking out towards the door. Jack's father stood there, smiling a little. "Hey there, Ennis."

"Oh, hey. Um...I was just...thought I'd spend some time with her..."

Richard nodded, moving towards him. "Sure, no problem. You're more than welcome to spend time with the horses. At least I can be sure that you know what you're doing, right?"

"Um, right. So, um..." His voice died in his throat; although Jack's father was perfectly nice, Ennis couldn't help but feel intimidated. Every time he met his eyes, he remembered exactly what he did to this man's son on a regular basis. Ennis knew that his own father would flip if he knew that Jack fucked him regularly, so this might also be true for Richard.

But to his relief, Richard sensed his discomfort. "Don't worry, Ennis. I've had a long time to think about it, and both me and my wife have come to terms with it."

Ennis nodded. "Um...Jack told me it was hard for you at first, with the whole HIV thing an' everythin'. But, um...sir, you gotta know how much I care about him. I love him somethin' fierce." He felt the need to try and prove to this man how much he cared about Jack.

Richard smiled. "We know. We can see it when you two look at each other. We trust you both enough to know what's right for you. Only the two of you can decide what's best for you, and that's okay." He sighed and folded his arms. "We can't deny that it was hard for us at first, but that's all done with now. He's still our son, after all. He was like this before we knew, so it's not as if he's suddenly changed."

"That's right," came a voice from the doorway; it was Karen. She came to stand next to her husband, linking her arm in his. "No matter what, he's still our flesh and blood, and we still love him. And we know he loves you, Ennis. It's clear as day to anyone who sees you two together. Even his aunts and uncles and his grandmother can see it, so there's no use trying to play it down to respect our feelings. We know it's genuine, and that you really care for ech other."

Ennis breathed a sigh of relief. "Well, um...thank you. I really do love him a lot, and...it means a lot to me that you were willin' to have me here with him."

They both smiled back. "It's okay, Ennis. When Jack called me to tell me what had happened with your father...I just knew that he was going to ask to bring you here, and the way he speaks of you...I just couldn't say no. He cares a lot about you, and...we're the ones who should be thanking you."

He raised his eyebrows a little. "Huh? Um..how'd you figure that?"

"Well...when he realised he was gay, and before he had the courage to come out, he was really miserable. Wouldn't eat, became distant...we know why now, but at the time we couldn't get him to talk to us. Now he's so happy...he's sure of who he is, we accept him, and now he has you. If you ask me, I don't think he could ask for more. You love each other, and from what he tells us, you're happy. That's all we could ask for as parents; that our children are happy. So...thank you, Ennis, for making our son happy."

Ennis genuinely smiled then, relieved and pleased by the praise. He had the approval of Jack's parents, and this gave him confidence. Even if his own parents would never come around, he had a feeling that he would always have Jack's on his side. That was something to think about.

After talking to Jack's parents some more about what Jack had been like as a child, they all headed inside and he began to look for his boyfriend, wanting to tell him how wonderful his parents were.

He found Jack with his head in the fridge, looking for a drink. He crept up behind him and slipped his hands around Jack's waist, and Jack jumped.

"Easy, bud, it's just me," he said softly in Jack's ear, and he relaxed.

"Hey, cowboy, wondered where you'd gone." Ennis hugged him happily.

"I was in the stables brushin' down that mare...she's real beautiful, ain't she?"

Jack nodded. "Yeah, sure is." He twisted his head to look at Ennis. "You okay?"

Ennis nodded back and kissed his cheek. "Sure am. Yer parents came out an' started talkin' to me. Told me how they could see that I mean a lot to you, an' that you love me." Jack smiled.

"Well, I do. You know that." Ennis squeezed him in response, loving how he felt in his arms, like he belonged there.

"I sure do. An' they thanked me for makin' you happy...said how you're much better off than last year."

"Mmm...well, they're right. I'm so much happier now, Ennis...and most of it's because of you. I'm really grateful to have you here with me..."

Ennis pressed their cheeks together. "I'm always gonna be here, Jack...promise you that." Jack closed his eyes and smiled dozily, relishing the feeling of being in this man's strong, protective arms. He felt complete, and utterly at peace.


A couple of days later, Lureen finally called. Ennis and Jack had spent a lazy morning in bed, kissing and slowly making love as the snow fell outside silently. Ennis was really starting to love being here at the manor, especially with a family like Jack's. He was already starting to feel like one of them, and he hoped that they felt the same way about him. Jack's parents had already told him that they accepted their relationship and welcomed him into their family, and he was starting to feel more relaxed around here.

Both of them had been thinking about the possibility of Ennis spending the summer here with them, but neither of them knew how to approach it. Jack wasn't sure if Ennis would want to, and Ennis felt like he would be pushing his luck if he asked. They were on the same page about most things, but they could still mess up from time to time. Both of them knew that they needed to discuss the future at some point.

At around eleven, they finally rolled out of bed and took a shower together, soaping each other up and jerking each other off, smiles on their faces when they were done.

Hand in hand, they made their way down to the kitchen in search of food, finding it empty. They made themselves sandwiches and got a bowl of chips, taking them into the living room and stretching out on the sofa together. Jack sighed happily as they began to eat.

"I could really get used to this," he said, looking over at Ennis, who smiled back.

"Yeah, me too." They looked at each other, but couldn't address the situation at hand. They decided to leave it for now. Just then, Jack's phone rang in his pocket. He smiled when he saw who it was.

"Hey, it's Lureen." Ennis nodded, smiling back, and Jack flipped his phone open. "Hey, Lu."

"Hey, Jack!" she said cheerily, sounding excited about something. "Guess what?"

"Well, it sure sounds like something's going on. What's up?"

"I took part in some barrel racin', like I said. I won first place!"

"You won first place?" he repeated for Ennis's benefit, and he saw Ennis smile his approval. "Congratulations. What did you win?"

"Four hundred dollars an' a new belt buckle. It was so much fun!" Jack could just picture her jumping up and down with happiness. "Is Ennis there?"

"Yeah, he is. I'll put you on loudspeaker." He did so and moved the phone closer to Ennis.

"Hey, Lureen."

"Hi, Ennis! How are you settlin' in with Jack's family?"

They smiled at each other over how she always got straight to the point. That was just one of many things that they loved about her. "Pretty good, thanks. They're all real nice."

"That's great. I know you were nervous about meetin' 'em, so...I guess you didn't need to be, huh?"

"I know. But it's been great. I'm real grateful to Jack for thinkin' of this." He smiled at his lover, eyes sparkling. Jack smiled back.

"I bet you are, Ennis. Anyway, I just wanna say Merry Christmas for Thursday. I dunno if I'll get the chance to call until afterwards. So...hope you have a good holiday, guys."

"Yeah, you too, Lureen. So you'll call sometime before the New Year?"

"I will. I better get goin', then. Bye, guys."

"Bye, Lu," they said at the same time, and Jack clicked off his phone.

"Well, nice to hear from her, huh?" he asked, looking at Ennis, and he nodded.

"Sure was. Don't get me wrong, Jack...I like her, an' you know I like us spendin' time together, but...I like it best when we're alone together."

Jack linked their fingers together, squeezing a little. "Yeah. I do too, Ennis. Love you something fierce, you know."

"Me too, Jack." They leaned in and started to kiss, tongues finding each other and playing together. Jack brought his free hand to Ennis's neck, twirling a little in the curls and making Ennis smile into the kiss.

"Mmm..." he moaned into Jack's mouth. Jack pulled away a little and grinned.

"You like that, baby?" he whispered, sending volts down Ennis's spine, and he leaned in to kiss Ennis's neck. His hands went wandering, but Ennis stopped him.

"Jack, wait...we're in the livin' room...we can't do this here..." Jack shut his eyes and took a deep breath.

"I know...sorry, it's just...when we start kissing...can't keep my hands off you." He then opened his eyes. "You wanna take this upstairs?"

Ennis nodded and they got their empty plates and bowl away in record time. Jack then grabbed Ennis's hand and they ran through the house, heading for their room. With the door locked, they fell onto the bed and carried on kissing, letting their hands roam wherever they wanted. Clothes started coming off and limbs twined together as they crawled up the bed, eager to connect.

They got under the covers and Ennis gazed down into Jack's eyes. "Can I, um...can I ride ya?" he whispered, seeing Jack's eyes light up.

"Sure, bud." He grabbed the lube and handed it to Ennis, smiling in anticipation. Ennis quickly ran the substance over Jack and threw the tube aside. He then rose up and lowered himself down slowly, feeling Jack fill him up and stretch him a little.

"Oh God..." he breathed as he felt Jack complete him. Jack smiled and they laced their fingers together, starting a slow, rocking motion. Jack thrust up into Ennis, head pushing back into the pillow and his eyes closing. Ennis leaned over and kissed him, tongue pushing into his mouth as they continued to move, feeling their release approach swiftly. All the sexual desire from before that had built up inside them was now reaching the peak. Without warning, Jack suddenly exploded with a groan and Ennis fell forward into his arms, spilling in between them and moaning into Jack's neck.

They lay there with their chests heaving, minds still far away. Jack weaved his arms around Ennis and sighed to himself; this was set to be the best Christmas he'd ever had.


A little later, the pair of them managed to roll out of bed and decided to go outside into the snow together. Jack had told Ennis that his family owned one hundred acres of land surrounding the manor, so they had plenty of space.

It was silent outside, and it struck them both as very romantic. Knowing that they were safe here, they held hands as they walked, enjoying the quiet and the company. Jack had never been happier than he was right now; he knew that he'd done the right thing in asking Ennis to come here.

They reached a bench and sat down, huddling close together for warmth, and Jack rested his head on Ennis's shoulder, feeling Ennis slip an arm around him and squeeze his waist. He smiled and sighed happily.

"This is really nice, isn't it?" he said quietly, and Ennis nodded.

"Sure is. You've got a real nice place here, Jack." Both of them remembered their thoughts of Ennis moving here on a more permanent basis, but they didn't want to have such a serious conversation right now; they just wanted to spend some time together.

"I know. I'm really glad you're here, Ennis." Their free hands linked together and Jack played with Ennis's fingers, his heart full of happiness. "Love you."

Ennis pressed his lips into Jack's hair, holding him close. "Love you too, darlin'." Jack smiled.

"I like that name for me, you know. Sounds...right, you know?"

"Mmm..." Then a thought occurred to Ennis, and he pulled back slightly. Jack looked at him in confusion.

"What's wrong?" he asked, eyes searching Ennis's face.

Ennis looked at Jack warily. "It's just...me callin' you that...I hope you don't think that I see you as a girl or nothin'. I mean...all this ain't easy for me, so...I hope you don't think I'm tryin' to deny it by callin' you names like that."

Jack's eyes widened, and he shuffled to face Ennis. "Bud...where'd this come from?"

Ennis shrugged, biting at a hangnail. "Just...don't want ya thinkin' I'm treatin' you as a girl." Jack smiled at how endearing he was when he was nervous.

"I don't think that, Ennis. Could a girl do to you what I do?" he asked with a grin, and Ennis nervously smiled back.

"Well, no...I dunno why I'm thinkin' all this. Just came up on me just now."

Jack took his hand. "Well, don't worry. I know you don't see me as a girl, and I like that name for me. Do you feel like a girl when I call you 'sweetheart'?" Ennis shook his head, and Jack continued. "There you go. It doesn't matter as long as we love each other. We're two guys, Ennis...and that's just the way it is."

Ennis looked into his eyes. "You gotta know...I ain't ashamed of us. I don't like havin' to deny what you mean to me back at college..." Jack covered his mouth with a hand.

"It's okay, Ennis. I know how you feel, and that's all I care about." He pressed his lips to Ennis's, trying to reassure him, and Ennis began to relax. He trusted Jack with all his heart and would do absolutely anything for him.

They kissed for a few more seconds, and Jack pulled away, eyes glittering. "How weird would it be if I was a girl, huh?"

Ennis smiled, now feeling a little braver. "Well...you've been known to moan like a girl when we're doin' it..."

Jack's mouth fell open in mock hurt. "Hey! What do you mean, I moan like a girl? I don't do that at all!"

Ennis smirked. "Sure do, bud. Heard you myself." Jack narrowed his eyes.

"I don't moan like a girl, asshole!" He tackled Ennis and they fell off the bench and into the snow. He tried to pin Ennis down but he wriggled out of his grip and started running. Jack got up and ran after him.

"Get back here so I can teach you a lesson!" he called after him, but Ennis kept going, occasionally pausing to grin at him and set off again before he could reach him.

Jack managed to catch up to him around the back of the house, and he jumped onto Ennis's back, knocking him down into the snow again. They rolled around together, grabbing fistfuls of snow and washing each other's faces with it. When they ran out of energy, they just lay there, not caring about the wet seeping into their clothes. Jack gazed up into Ennis's face as they held each other.

"I love you," he said, the words effortlessly slipping from his mouth. Ennis smiled down at him.

"I love you too, darlin'." He leaned down and planted his mouth on Jack's, pushing his tongue in to find his lover's and feeling him moan. Jack wound his arms around Ennis's back and melted into the kiss, feeling completely safe as Ennis held him.

They kissed slowly for several minutes, and then Jack began to feel his back becoming wet. "Mmm...Ennis, hang on," he mumbled into his mouth, and Ennis pulled away. "I'm getting wet here, can we go inside?"

"Oh, sure. Come on." He got up and extended a hand, helping Jack up and then leading him back to the house. They made themselves some hot chocolate and changed into dry clothes, sitting in front of the fire in one of the side rooms. They sat on the floor with their backs to the sofa and curled up together, enjoying the warmth after the bitter cold of the outside world. They'd had a lot of fun rolling around in the snow, but this was much better for them. Jack sighed and shuffled a little.

"I had a lot of fun today, Ennis," he said softly, looking up at him, and Ennis smiled.

"Me too, bud. Sorry if I acted a little weird..."

Jack shook his head. "Doesn't matter. I love you, and you love me, and that's all we need to know, right? Nothing else matters." He kissed Ennis's cheek and settled down again, watching the flames dance and cast strange and beautiful shadows on the walls.


December 24th, 2003

It was Christmas Eve, and the residents of the manor were scattered around the house, wrapping their presents for everybody. Jack was in their room and Ennis was in the library. Both of them had bought their gifts before leaving Amherst, and had kept them hidden fairly well. They were quite nervous about their gifts for each other, but they had a feeling that it would be okay.

Ennis finished wrapping his present for Jack and held it in his hand, heart beating a little quickly. He'd gone over it in his head a million times, remembering how they had talked about it and the conclusion they had come to. They had decided to keep things as they were for now, and he was in no hurry to change that, but he wanted to make some kind of gesture to Jack. He had a feeling that Jack would appreciate the sentiment. He really wanted to give Jack some kind of indication of the depth of his feelings, and this seemed like the perfect way.

Meanwhile, in their room, Jack was going over the same thing in his head. He looked down at his present for Ennis and thought over what they had already decided. He knew that they were keeping things as they were for now, but he still wanted to do this. It didn't have to mean that things had to change, if they ever would, but he wanted this. He didn't know if the law would ever change for them, but this would be a great symbolic gesture all the same.

He sighed to himself and put his wrapped presents in his closet, hoping that Ennis would like his gift. He then left the room in time to see Ennis approaching from the stairway. They smiled when they saw each other.

"Hey, bud," said Jack, noting that Ennis was carrying a number of gifts in his arms and was struggling slightly. "You need help with those?"

Ennis shook his head, smiling appreciatively. "Nah, I'm good, thanks. Just gonna get these in there an' I'll be down in a minute. You wanna get some lunch?"

"Sure. I'll be out here." He kissed Ennis's cheek and leaned against the wall, thinking about his present. Within a couple of minutes, Ennis was back outside and in his arms, kissing him softly. Hand in hand, they walked downstairs in search of food. The kitchen was again empty, so they made some hot tomato soup for themselves with crusty bread, and sat at the table together, looking into each other's eyes as they ate and smiling at each other. Both of them were thinking of their gifts for each other and how the other might react. They were both pretty sure that their present would be appreciated. They had gotten each other a present to open in front of the family, but their other gift for each other would be opened when they were alone.

As they continued to eat, the mood turned playful, and they were soon feeding each other spoonfuls of soup and pieces of bread. Jack had a heart-warming smile on his face that Ennis just loved to see. They occasionally leaned across to each other and kissed for a few seconds, before going back to their food.

When they were done, they cleared up after themselves and went for another walk in the snow. They sat on the same bench and made out for a while, enjoying the peace and quiet out here. Jack pulled back and looked into Ennis's deep brown eyes.

"You having a good time out here, Ennis?" he asked softly, and Ennis nodded. He truly was happy to be here, and he was very grateful to Jack.

"Yeah, real good. Thanks again, Jack...for doin' all this for me. Don't know what I woulda done if you hadn't invited me here. I was in a real mess back there, with my dad disownin' me an' everythin'..." He sighed. "Just...I'm real happy that I've got you."

Jack smiled, his blue eyes striking against the white blanket of snow behind him. "You're always gonna have me, Ennis. I promise. I love you, cowboy." He leaned in for another kiss and Ennis was happy to give one, or several. Jack's gloved hands slid up Ennis's chest and locked around his neck, his fingers lacing together, and Ennis slipped his arms around Jack's waist, pulling him closer. Despite the cold weather all around them, they were warm and comfortable and had no inclination to move just yet. Their tongues played together between their mouths and they pressed ever closer, until Jack's body was pushing up right against Ennis's. They pulled apart and looked into each other's eyes.

"Mmm...I think we've found a good way to keep warm out here," Jack commented, smiling widely. Ennis couldn't help but smile back and touch his face.

"I think you're right, Jack." They exchanged one more kiss and slid away a little, holding hands and sighing together.

"I'm gettin' cold now, though," Jack admitted, grinning sheepishly, and Ennis laughed a little.

"Come on, let's go back." He got up and pulled Jack up with him. They slowly made their way back to the manor, swinging their joined hands and talking softly. When they got back, they found Jack's parents in the kitchen, and were informed that the whole family was scattered around the house, so decided to go back to their room for some privacy.

When they were naked and under the covers, Jack looked into Ennis's eyes as he slowly pushed in. As they moved together, they wrapped their arms around each other and kissed passionately, the pace quickening and the desire building. When they had their release, they held on for dear life and moaned in unison. And when they were done, they stroked each other's faces and whispered soft words to each other, before settling in for an afternoon nap together. All was right with the world as they lay there, and their dreams were of each other.