Temptation: lure, attraction, pull, seduction.
Glenn is tempted by Daryl.
I'm in the mood to do something reckless. Like get laid at my boss's house if someone tempts me. Someone male of course. I had a couple of girlfriends in my teens but I haven't been interested in girls for years. Not even in high school really – I was just curious.
My boss is Dale Horvath, managing partner of the mental health clinic I joined two years ago with my brand new psychology degree in hand. Is it weird for a therapist to be obsessed with sex? Physician heal thyself! But I'm not usually obsessed, I'm just horny tonight.
Dale's wife Andrea likes to entertain and she's good at it so even a cocktails and canapés thing like this will be interesting. She's a lawyer and always invites people from both her world and her husband's and invitees are encouraged to bring a guest so it's an eclectic mix. You never know who you might meet here. Dale's mechanic Jim has shown up before but I don't see him tonight.
Since I'm not here primarily for sexual fulfillment I mingle after being greeted by Dale and Andrea. I say hello to Amy who's interning at the clinic. Little nepotism there since she's Andrea's younger sister but I've worked with her a couple of times and she's earning her place.
Vic Morales and his wife Miranda tell me they're taking their kids to visit family in Birmingham over spring break next week. He's a nice guy but also a family man and I'm not so I have to feign interest. Shouldn't I be genuinely interested in other people and their lives? Patients, yes. I'm getting paid for that. I know how that makes me sound but I assure you I'm not unique in my attitude. Therapists are people, too. We can't be caring and committed every second.
Rick Grimes introduces me to his wife Lori. Rick is the sheriff of a small town near Atlanta. I was assigned to evaluate a prisoner a few months ago. I didn't do anything spectacular but Rick was impressed. It's not like I saved his life although I may have helped his career a little.
I haven't had a drink yet so I work my way around to the bar in the corner. I don't really like the taste of alcohol and would rather have a soda but that seems wimpy so I man up and ask for scotch. I glance at the nameplate on the barkeep's shirt and say thank you to Randall. I'm always polite to service staff. I delivered pizza while I was in college.
There's a man standing with his back to me and I can't help noticing how well his gray slacks fit. He's holding a beer bottle in one hand and the other hand is in his pocket which tightens the fabric just enough to hug his ass. He's wearing a blue shirt with the cuffs unbuttoned and folded back. His shoulders are broad and his arms look strong. I'm tempted.
The man turns to the bar. His eyes match the shirt and he has a scruffy chin, not a goatee really, just enough facial hair to make him look extremely fuckable. He reaches for a bowl of nuts, picks one out and pops it in his mouth. I'm fascinated watching him chew a cashew.
I sip my drink and look in the bowl. "Brazil nuts – my favorite."
"You like big nuts, huh?"
I smile. He didn't say it in a flirtatious way, more like guys sharing an adolescent joke. But in my professional opinion any man making a joke like that to another man is likely to be open to taking the joke further.
I offer up my name: "I'm Glenn."
"Daryl," the man replies.
"I work with Dale Horvath. How did you end up here?"
"Came with the better half," Daryl says, glancing around a little nervously. There's a ring on his left hand.
"Ah, doing your duty. Business events, in-laws, movies you would otherwise never watch. If you feel like taking a break, there's a room down the hall. I need a break, too."
People are milling around so it's easy to slip out. There's a bathroom next door and with fluid intake others are going in and out. I pass it and go down two more doors. It's a small sitting room with a couple of armchairs and end tables. Daryl seems ill at ease now that we're alone together. He stares at his hands turning the bottle.
"You don't know many people out there?" I ask to get him talking.
Daryl shakes his head. "I'm not so good with strangers."
"What do you do?"
"I own Dixon Outfitters. Co-own. It's me and my brother. Hunting and fishing and outdoors equipment, stuff like that."
"You must have to talk to people at the store."
"Well, sure, customers. That's different. They come in wanting something."
"I want something, too. You probably know that."
"Are you interested?"
Daryl is biting his lip. He hasn't looked directly at me since the bar. His eyes slide away from mine and settle on my ear.
"Right here?" he asks.
"I locked the door on our way in."
"What if I want to leave?"
"Then you go. But if you're curious … If you like what you see as much as I do …" I put my hand on his leg. He doesn't flinch.
"What would we do?"
"Whatever we want. Whatever feels good." I take the bottle from him and put it on an end table. "Can I kiss you?"
Daryl looks surprised like he didn't expect that to be part of the deal. But he nods. I get up and sit on his chair arm and lean down. He turns his face up and our mouths meet. He doesn't open his mouth but it's not closed tight either. His lips are almost soft at first but firmer as he returns the pressure. They feel a little chapped and I like the roughness when he starts rubbing his mouth against mine. I move my hand up his leg and feel his hand between my legs. It's obvious we're both at the same stage of arousal. Daryl is making sounds … wait, that's me … no, it's both of us.
I lean back. "Do you want my mouth someplace else?"
"I kind of like where it was," he says. "Your hand is good, too."
Mutual masturbation. I'm in. I love getting blown but I'm also a kisser and I'm glad Daryl wants to continue. A minute later our pants are open and underwear pulled down. I straddle him so our cocks are pressed together, hands joined around them. Our mouths are open now and our tongues are imitating our cocks. It's going too fast. I'm not going to last long and it doesn't sound like Daryl is far behind. Normally I'd like to slow down, hold off, but in these circumstances we can't take as much time as we might like. Oh, god, we're going to make a mess. My other hand scrabbles in my pocket for a handkerchief and I get it out just in time.
Our foreheads are on each other's shoulders. In between my pants I can hear Daryl's labored breathing. When I pull away, his eyes are closed and his mouth is slack. He looks pretty much like I feel. I don't want to move yet but we've been gone long enough. There's a powder room in the corner and if the bathroom in the hall is in use someone might want this one. Although the Horvath house is huge and there are plenty of bathrooms scattered around.
"We should clean up," I whisper.
Daryl nods and gets up still holding me and carries me to the closet that was converted to a half bath with sink and stool. What the hell am I going to do with a handkerchief full of cum? I don't want to leave it behind and I can't carry it around. These things never seem important before the main event. I rinse it, wring it out, wrap it in a couple of tissues and stick it in my pocket.
Daryl leaves first, with his beer bottle. I saunter out a few minutes later. Time to circulate again.
I chat with Dr. Greene and Maggie, who was in college with Andrea's sister Amy. Hershel is a true old gentleman of Georgia, a veterinarian, and a widower since Mrs. Greene died last year. The younger daughter Beth is 17 and took it particularly hard. Then her boyfriend Jimmy was killed a few months later and Beth was suicidal for awhile. I'm glad to hear she's doing better now.
Morgan Jones is talking with the Grimes'. They've got sons about the same age. I recognize Otis and Patricia across the room although I don't know them well. Daryl is with them and a woman I've seen but not met. I think her name is Carol. Cute – their names rhyme.
Time to go. Dr. Jenner and Jacqui Prescott just left together and a few others are heading for the door. Daryl and I are going on to dinner. His choice since he had to attend a function he's not very comfortable at. I catch Daryl's eye and he leaves the group without showing his eagerness to be gone. We say goodnight to Andrea and Dale. It's not quite spring and the evening is cool. My car is a block away.
"I feel better than I did when we got here," Daryl says.
"Because it's over or because of the sex?"
"I recall you saying something about my freaky role-playing games when I suggested it on the way over."
"I take that back. Sorry I was late. We would have had time before we left."
"It worked out."
"Yeah, that was all right." Daryl sounds very satisfied.
"Which is not to say that we can't repeat it at home."
"Count on it." Daryl paused. "I was late because Merle called. He gets out of rehab next week."
"He should stay with us for awhile."
"I'll tell him but he probably won't."
"How did he sound?"
"Good. For now. But I'm afraid it'll be like last time. Clean and sober for awhile, maybe a year, and then it'll start up again."
"Always a possibility but maybe not this time."
"I hope not. You didn't sign up for this."
"Yes, I did, Daryl. I love you."
"Love you, too."
"We both come with family baggage."
"But yours is in Michigan."
"Did I tell you Mom and Dad are getting sick of snow? Pretty sure they'll move here when they retire."
Daryl snorts and shakes his head. He doesn't really mind. He gets along with his in-laws although they're not officially family. We've been together three years and never felt the need for a public ceremony, which wouldn't be recognized in Georgia anyway, but we did start wearing rings after the first year. We like them and it stops unwanted interest.
"Where to?" I ask when we're in the car.
"Pancake house," Daryl says happily. He means The Original Pancake House. I should have known it would be that or Denny's or IHOP. I'm relaxed and hungry and a big breakfast sounds just right.
In the booth after ordering I tell him he looks good. Daryl always looks good to me but I want him to know I appreciate his effort tonight.
He shrugs one shoulder to deflect the compliment, as usual. "You said I always wear black and gray so …"
"You changed it up to gray and blue. I approve."
"You're the one looks good. I still remember you in those jeans and tee shirt and cap."
"I'm surprised. You got me out of them pretty fast."
"Well, you look good in anything or nothing."
"Should we get this to go? Are you going to be able to make it home?"
"We'll eat here. But I make no promises about the parking lot."
I believe him and I'm looking forward to making out a little in the car but my hopes are dashed when two of Atlanta's finest stroll in. They nod at us but don't stop. Shane Walsh and Theodore Douglas. We know them because they arrested Merle a couple of months ago which led to his second stint in rehab. They were actually very decent about the situation, much more so than Merle who was not on his best behavior. Even after he was handcuffed Merle flailed around so much that he broke his wrist. The break and the handcuffs cut off the blood supply to his hand. It was bad enough that he might have lost it; as it was he ended up with some nerve damage. I'm hopeful that Merle was brought to his senses by this but Daryl is afraid to believe it will have a lasting effect. Can't blame him – he's lived with Merle a lot longer than I have.
Daryl grins at me. "Guess we better not do anything in the parking lot that will get us arrested."
We're full when we leave and by the time we get home we're also sleepy so we agree to wait until morning.
Home is a one-and-a-half story bungalow set back among some trees behind Dixon Outfitters just outside Atlanta. Daryl and Merle own the property and they used to live together but as Merle's substance abuse required more privacy he moved to their grandparents' place 20 minutes away. It's a cabin rather than a house and it's not in great shape since the old folks passed.
Our half-story is an attic with sloping ceilings that reduce the available living space but it's still almost half the size of the first floor so we put in a bathroom and fixed it up as a master bedroom suite. The two bedrooms below are my office and a guest room where Merle crashes occasionally. I'm buying out Merle's share of the house which is fair to Merle but also does him no favors since it provides him with an income that he doesn't spend wisely.
The next morning I'm awake before Daryl so I pull the sheet back and enjoy the view. Daryl's penis is limp against his leg. It occurs to me that I think of the male member as a penis when it's soft and a cock when it's hard. Daryl just calls it a dick. I run my finger along the underside and swirl my thumb around the head. It twitches. Daryl makes a growly sound in his throat but doesn't wake. I watch his penis turn into a cock. I'm familiar with the process so I wait for each stage: pale pink flushing to dark red, lengthening and thickening before it actually erects. I can tell when it's stiff enough to lift so I spread my fingers, flourish my hands and whisper, "Abracadabra! Shazam!"
I didn't notice Daryl's eyes open. He squints at me through the morning light. "What the fuck are you doing?"
"I'm a magician. I made your cock levitate."
Daryl looks down at himself. "Not much of a trick. He always stands up when you're around." He rubs his hair, stretches widely with limbs akimbo and, since his cock isn't in the way, scratches his balls. "I need to piss."
Me, too. We stand on opposite sides of the stool and hold each other's cocks. This isn't our usual way of visiting the bathroom but every so often we like it. Bladder issues dealt with, we go back to bed and do other things that we like even more.
Over the next few days I think about Merle and what we can do for him. As a therapist I've learned there isn't much unless he wants help. Ironically, Daryl and I met because of Merle. It was the end of my junior year and I was making a late delivery to Dixon Outfitters. It was closed and dark but the order said go around to the side door. There was a man in the stockroom going along the shelves with an electronic device in his hand. I knocked and he jerked with surprise as he turned. It looked like he was so busy he'd forgotten he ordered pizza. He came to the door and let me in and patted his pockets. He was attractive as hell but he wasn't getting free pizza just because he left his wallet in his other pants.
He said, "Just a minute," and disappeared into an office. It was several minutes before he returned with the money but he included a nice tip so it was worth the wait. He looked even better to me at second glance. Maybe he would have got the pizza free after all.
"Sorry you had to wait. I can't eat all this. You want some?"
I was hungry. The pizza would do instead. "Yeah, thanks. My shift just ended."
So we sat down and ate pizza and drank sodas and talked. I found out he was Daryl Dixon and he owned the business with his brother. I told him that I had probably just delivered my last pizza because I got a paid internship for the summer and it would continue through my final year of college.
"Why are you taking inventory alone?" I asked.
"The office manager is on maternity leave and the stock boys are in high school and studying for finals. There's two more on staff but both have stuff they couldn't get out of."
"What about your brother?"
Daryl was quiet for a moment. "Merle's kind of a screw-up. He just went into rehab. And he's lucky because it could have been prison instead."
I was 21 and thought Daryl was at least five years older. Later I found out he's seven years older. I pictured Merle as an irresponsible kid not much older than me.
"Maybe this will teach him a lesson and he'll grow up."
Daryl just looked at me. "Merle is older not younger. He's 35 and he's not real teachable."
Oops. But I was liking Daryl more and more despite the brother. "Listen, can I help?" I asked. "You're already tired and this way you'll get to bed at one instead of three."
Daryl took me up on the offer. I caught on quickly and we worked steadily for an hour. I noticed every time our shoulders touched or arms brushed. I began making sure it happened. And then I reached for a high shelf and my tee shirt rode up and suddenly I felt Daryl's hand on my stomach. His little finger and ring finger slipped inside the top of my jeans and rubbed against the waistband of my briefs.
"What's going on?" Daryl asked.
"I'm not sure but it's happening to both of us," I replied.
Daryl had sounded genuinely bewildered. I was already sure he was gay, too, but I was glad that whatever this was seemed to be a first for him. We didn't kiss yet. We both knew the inventory wouldn't get finished if we did.
We got to bed at one but we didn't sleep until three.
That first time Daryl went to meet his brother alone after rehab but this time we both go. It was Andrea's law firm and recommendations from my clinic that kept Merle out of prison this time. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to bat for him. We probably should have made him accept the consequences but I know more about the Dixon brothers' background now and I wanted Merle to have one last chance.
His eyes are clear and he looks healthier than he has for a year. He's subdued which is different from the belligerence last time. He thanks me for helping and agrees to stay with us for awhile. He says he wants to fix up the Bisbee place. I hope he does. It needs to be done and it would be good for Merle. He's also going to help with the business which Daryl appreciates. These are all good signs but we know better than to bask in success.
Two days later Merle starts sneaking around to make furtive phone calls, presumably to his dealer. He really played us this time. I wonder if Daryl has noticed yet. He can be a little blind about his brother's faults. But when I see him I know he knows and it makes me furious with Merle. Daryl is not a quitter but he looks defeated and I can tell he's wondering if it's time to give up on his brother.
We confront Merle and learn that it's not what we think. Merle confesses that he met somebody and my heart sinks. Two addicts? Love among the needles? Getting involved with someone so soon during recovery is a bad idea. But Merle says she wasn't a patient. A therapist? This is even worse. I'm already planning to report her. But it's not quite that bad because it turns out there's a new program at the clinic where instructors in various sports are brought in to interest the patients in a new hobby which will also give them a physical outlet.
The doorbell rings and Merle brings back a dark-skinned woman, beautiful but severe-looking. "This is Michonne," he says proudly.
Merle announces that he's taken up fencing. Daryl looks puzzled. Barbed wire, pickets, privacy, and guys who accept stolen goods are the fences he's familiar with. Michonne explains epées, foils and sabres. She and Merle will give us a demonstration sometime. She also has a collection of katanas and other old swords.
That night after our tension-relieving activities, Daryl and I talk.
"What do you think of Merle's woman?" Daryl asks.
"Scary. Don't let her hurt me." I'm only half-joking.
Daryl chuckles. "Probably be an asset if the world was ending or somethin' but I tell you what, if I didn't have my crossbow and rifle in the house and a store full of guns across the way, I mighta been uneasy myself."