Chapter 1

June 15th, 2009

Ennis whistled to himself as he prepared breakfast for himself and Jack, half-listening to the morning news on the radio. It was another beautiful summer's day and it was almost like a dream; everything just seemed perfect here.

He could hear the shower running, as it did every morning. He preferred to shower in the evening, unless they were in the mood for taking one together. They had settled into their routine fairly quickly; after all, they had been living together for five years now. They'd lived just off campus since 2004, and had been living here in Provincetown since the previous year. Things had progressed fairly quickly after the move to the coast; their first wedding anniversary was fast approaching.

The shower stopped and Ennis smiled to himself, looking forward to seeing Jack. They'd seen each other already this morning, after waking up, but still. He loved it every time he clapped eyes on Jack; his husband was just so beautiful to him.

Jack emerged from the bedroom and spied Ennis preparing breakfast, a smile spreading across his face. He came up behind Ennis and wrapped his arms around him. "Good morning," he greeted, kissing Ennis's cheek.

"Mornin', bud," Ennis replied, smiling. Even now, he still hadn't quite lost his Western accent. He knew that Jack liked it and he didn't want it to disappear. "You doin' good?"

"Mmm, yep." Jack peered over his shoulder and sniffed. "Smells good...looks good, too."

" know I like cookin' for you," Ennis told him. "You lookin' forward to work today?" Jack was still an intern at the local counselling clinic, but Ennis knew he was doing well and could soon be looking at being hired properly. The same could be said of him; his boss at the animal clinic was pleased with his work so far. They were still living off Jack's inheritance and weren't in dire need of money, so they had the opportunity to build up their work portfolios.

"Yeah, reckon so," Jack replied as he let go of him, heading for the coffee pot. "It's going pretty well. Haven't really encountered anybody too challenging yet...but I want to put my degree to use at some point. Hopefully I'll get to do more soon."

"It'll happen," Ennis assured him, dividing the food onto their plates. "You're good at what you do an' I bet they know that. You could end up bein' hired by the end of the year, I reckon."

Jack smiled at him over his coffee cup. "Thanks, bud. I bet you're gonna do well too. You're good with animals. You' a kind of gentle nature." He moved towards Ennis and whispered in his ear, "But you can still pound me into the mattress when you get going."

Ennis rolled his eyes and brought the food over to the table. "Is that all you can think about?" he asked in mock exasperation. "You've got sex on the brain, Twist."

"Only 'cos of you," Jack told him as they sat down. "You drive me crazy."

"Are we gonna talk about this over breakfast?" Ennis asked, shaking his head. Jack shrugged.

"Okay." He fixed Ennis with a look. "But...I was thinking of you while in the shower. And...not just about sex. I always think of you, Ennis, when we're apart."

Ennis covered Jack's hand with his own. "Me too, darlin'. I'm always thinkin' of you. Guess it proves how much we love each other, huh?"

Jack nodded and smiled widely at him. "Sure does." They took their hands back and started eating, talking about the day ahead of them. They would normally meet up for lunch since they had the same length of time for a break, and would come back home later. They'd made a deal that whoever got back first would start dinner; it seemed fairer to them. It hadn't been easy to figure out who did what around their home, but they'd managed to make it work. Ennis tended to make breakfast since Jack showered in the morning, but Jack usually made dinner anyway since the counselling clinic was closer to their apartment and he made it back first.

"When's Lureen comin' over?" Ennis asked, thinking of their friend who had moved to New York. She came over at least once every couple of weeks to see them, as they had remained very good friends. Lureen was doing well as a dancer in the big city, and was thinking of becoming an instructor.

"Next weekend," Jack replied. "She's kinda busy so she doesn't have a lot of free time."

"Glad she's doin' well," Ennis said, and Jack nodded. "Looks like everythin' worked out okay. She seein' anybody?"

"I think she mentioned a guy who lives in her building...think she went out with him a couple of times. Remember when she was trying to help us? Like when I was attracted to you and didn't know what to do?" He grinned, recalling how scared and unsure he'd been. He didn't know what might have happened if Ennis hadn't returned his feelings. They certainly wouldn't be here now.

"Yeah, I remember," Ennis agreed, also remembering that time. He too had felt confused and lost, but for different reasons. "Anyway...sure am glad that things worked out for us. You know I'm happy here with you."

"I am too, cowboy," Jack said softly. "You make me happy, just like you promised you would."

Ennis smiled and they continued to eat, both feeling blissfully happy on this beautiful summer's morning. Life drifted from one day to the next in their corner of the world, and there was very little drama here. Provincetown was a safe place for couples like themselves to live, and they were glad to have somewhere like this.

Both of them wondered now and then where their life together might lead them, and what the future might hold, but there was no rush for that. Life was good and they loved each other very much, and that was all they needed to know right now.

Jack entered the clinic and the receptionist nodded at him with a smile. He was good friends with everybody he worked with and was happy working here. It seemed to him that everybody who lived around here was either gay or very accepting, and he knew it was good for himself and Ennis. They could concentrate on their relationship rather than worry about homophobic bigots that would have it in for them.

"Morning, Jack," Jessica said to him as he approached her. She and her partner Amy lived near him and Ennis, just around the corner from their building, and they got on well. He knew that they hadn't been together long, but both had talked about getting married one day. Jack thought that they were very lucky to live in a state where they could legally marry; there were still very few that allowed this.

"Hey, Jess. What's going on this morning?" he asked her, and she consulted her books.

"Well, Dan wants you to sit in on a meeting at ten. And he mentioned that he has a project he wants you to work on."

Jack raised his eyebrows. "A project? Really..." That was unusual; this had never been mentioned to him before. Maybe he really was moving up here.

"Yeah, he seemed pretty happy about it. You're doing well, Jack...anybody can see how dedicated you are. I reckon you'll be hired by the end of the year."

"Ennis said the same thing this morning," Jack commented, smirking, and Jessica smiled.

"Guess he knows you pretty well. Isn't your wedding anniversary coming up soon?"

"Yep...August 12th. Don't know what we're doing for it, though."

"How about a copy of the Kama Sutra?" she suggested, her grin widening. Jack laughed.

"Good idea...we've nearly worn out our copy," he replied, and they dissolved into laughter. He liked being able to talk to someone about his relationship with Ennis; Lureen was great but they didn't see her often. At least Jessica understood what it was like to be involved in a same-sex relationship.

Their boss, Dan White, came through the door and spotted Jack. "Hey, good morning."

"Hey, Dan. Jess told me about a project you want me to work on?"

"That's right. We've got a meeting at ten I want you to sit in on, and we can talk about the project after. I think you'll like it," he told Jack, who nodded. "Until then, there's just some paperwork I'd like you to file away. In the office."

"Okay, thanks." Jack nodded at them both and headed down the hall towards the filing office, wanting to do whatever he needed to impress his boss. While money wasn't an issue for them, he still desired to have a good career and make something of himself.

As he worked, he found his mind drifting towards Ennis as it usually did. He couldn't help it; he loved Ennis very much and they were so happy together. Jack was secure in the knowledge that they would be together for the rest of their lives, so there was no real need to reassure each other of this. But he still liked it when they confirmed their love and commitment to each other.

He sat in the meeting as requested, which was a board director's meeting. Jack wondered why he'd been asked here, and he hoped that it was due to a possible hiring.

Afterwards, he followed Dan into his office and sat down. "So...what did you want to talk to me about? What's this project?"

"Well, I'm very pleased with your work, Jack. You've been with us for almost a year now, and you've impressed everybody. That's why I wanted you to sit in the meeting; because...I've been thinking about hiring you."

Jack grinned. "Oh...well, that's great. Thank you..."

"You're welcome. The project I have for you will demonstrate your abilities and will, hopefully, show us why you would be a great asset to the team. You said you wanted to go into counselling, so this is your test." He reached into his desk and pulled out a file. "I want you to put together a portfolio of sorts. There's a patient at the local hospital who's been put in touch with us. He was in Afghanistan and is showing signs of PTSD following a double leg amputation. He's been referred to us upon his release from hospital and is in need of counselling."

"Right," Jack said, wondering what exactly he would have to do. Dan cleared his throat before continuing.

"So, he's going to come here a few times a week. Now, Dr Green will be counselling him, as she is qualified to do so. But she will be supervising you as you assist her. You will need to put together a portfolio of the client, your thoughts on the matter in relation to PTSD and what you think needs to be done for him. Dr Green will be assessing you on how you contribute to the needs of the client and how you perform."

Jack couldn't believe it; this was an incredible opportunity for him to gain some experience and also get himself hired in the process. It was exactly what he needed. "Dan, I...I don't know what to say. This is amazing."

Dan smiled. "If you accept, you can get started right away. He'll be released tomorrow and will start coming here on Thursday. I thought it was high time you had the opportunity to demonstrate your skills to us."

Jack smiled back and knew he could do this. "In that case...I accept. I'd love to do this."

"Very well. You can see Dr Green after lunch so she can tell you what needs to be done. And...I wish you the best of luck." He extended a hand across the desk and Jack shook it, determined to prove himself and finally get his career started. He couldn't wait to tell Ennis about this; he knew his cowboy would be very proud of him.

Ennis and Jack met up for lunch on the front, in a small café that had a great view of the bay. They enjoyed living in this resort town, and were happy to make their life here. Both fondly recalled their first spring break together, when they had driven over here and fallen in love with the place.

Jack was the first to arrive, and he was brimming with excitement over the project he was to handle. He'd met with Dr Green; Emily was a very likeable woman and understood how much Jack was looking forward to this. He knew that he would have to impress both her and Dan if he was going to be hired at the end of it; the project would take the entire summer and most of the fall season, ending around October. Emily's goal was to counsel the veteran in need of help, and Jack was basically going to be her assistant. It would give him the chance to prove himself.

As he waited for Ennis, he sent a text to his mother to tell her that he had some big work-related news, and that he would tell her later. He knew that his parents were proud of him for how well his life was going right now, and that Ennis's mother was proud of her son.

Just as he was thinking about all of this, the door to the café opened and the love of his life walked in, searching around for him. Jack grinned as their eyes met and Ennis came over, smiling widely.

"Hey, bud," he greeted Jack, leaning over to kiss him. Jack always did enjoy it when Ennis kissed him; their mouths just seemed to fit together perfectly.

"Hey yourself," he replied as Ennis sat down, taking a menu. "I've got some great news about work and I've been dying to tell you."

"Okay." The waitress took their orders and Ennis raised his eyebrows. "So, what's goin' on?"

Jack took his hands and rested his own over them. "Well, I was talking to Jess this morning, at the front desk, and Dan came out of his office looking for me. He said he wanted me to sit in on one of the board meetings."

"Really? How come?" Ennis asked, looking puzzled. Jack grinned.

"Well, he also said he had some big project for me...said that it could lead to me being hired by the end of the year."

Ennis's mouth fell open and his eyes widened. "Oh, darlin'...that's great!" He kissed Jack again and saw the light in his eyes. "What is it?"

Jack gave him the details of what he would be required to do, and Ennis could see how enthusiastic he was already. He knew that Jack had been looking for a chance to prove himself and show his skills, and now it was here. Ennis could feel pride surging through him and he squeezed Jack's hands.

"Bud...that's great. I'm proud of you, darlin'...they're seein' how good you are an' givin' you an opportunity. When do you start?"

"On Thursday; that's when the guy starts coming in to see Dr Green. I'll be shadowing her, learning more about counselling...and my own skills will be assessed through the portfolio and how well I help her." He sighed. "I still can't believe it..."

"Me neither..." Ennis smiled at him and could feel the waves of happiness emitting from Jack. Life was going their way and it seemed to him that their future was secure.

The food arrived and Jack was finally breathing normally again; he'd had an adrenaline rush all morning and could now relax. "I sent a text to my mom, saying that I've got some big work news. I'll tell her more later when we get home."

Ennis nodded. "Yeah. Bet they'll be proud of you, too. An' I could tell my mama; she'll wanna hear it too, you bein' her son-in-law an' all."

Jack smiled. "Right." A thought of Ennis's deceased father flashed through his mind, but he decided not to say anything. The anniversary of his father's death was next month and he didn't like reminding Ennis of it. Their relationship had never been repaired and Ennis's father had never been able to accept the choices that Ennis had made in his life; leaving to go to college instead of staying on the ranch, breaking up with Alma and choosing to be with Jack instead, and then deciding to marry Jack out here.

They continued to eat, and Jack's leg wrapped itself around Ennis's ankle as it often did when they were sat at a table together. It was as though his body was trained to seek out Ennis's and latch on somehow, just because they were in love.

"Know somethin'?" Ennis asked as he enjoyed the feeling of Jack's leg around his.


"Since yer doin' so well an' you've got somethin' big comin'...reckon I oughta give ya some kinda reward." His deep brown eyes peered at Jack and it was plain as day what he meant. Jack grinned.

"Well...I won't say no to that, cowboy. What did you have in mind?"

" about me fuckin' yer brains out all night?" Ennis replied, smirking. Jack could feel himself becoming aroused and he shifted.

"Sounds good to me...but only if I can fuck your brains out, too." They did switch now and then, and he knew that Ennis had no issues with being topped. They had sex pretty much every night unless they were too tired, and Jack topped at least once a week if not more. They were lucky to have such a healthy sex life, and knew that it was born from a strong relationship that was almost six years going.

They kept on eating and enjoying their break until it was time to go back to work, and with a lingering kiss they finally went their separate ways until the evening, which was full of promises and what would be a night to remember.

The pair of them worked through the afternoon and then returned home to their apartment on the front. Like the café, their bedroom window had a wonderful view of the beach and the water. They did like to occasionally go to the other side of the Cape and look out towards the ocean, but this was good for them too. They loved their apartment with its open-plan kitchen and how it was one with the living room. But they both had to admit that the bedroom was their favourite room.

Jack got home first and started cooking dinner. Because of where they lived, they'd started eating a lot of seafood and plenty of fish, and it was always fresh from the store.

As he cooked, Jack started thinking about his conversation with Jessica that morning; about his and Ennis's wedding anniversary. It would be their first, and he wanted to celebrate it in a special way. When they'd gotten together, he'd never dared to hope that one day they would be married. For one thing, it hadn't been legal back then and everything was unsure in those early days. Neither had been in a relationship with another man before, and Ennis had been especially nervous about it. He couldn't believe how far they'd come.

He heard a key in the door and grinned; he couldn't help it whenever he became aware that Ennis was around. Jack listened to Ennis entering the apartment and kept his back turned for now; he hoped that Ennis would come up behind him and pull him close.

Sure enough, Ennis spied Jack at the stove and crept up behind him, wrapping his arms around Jack and squeezing him. He kissed Jack on the cheek and made a soft, contented sound. "Mmm...glad to be home."

"Me too," Jack replied, turning the heat down and moving to face Ennis. His own arms came up around Ennis's neck and he smiled. "My favourite time of day, being here with you." He leaned in and their lips met, softly at first but then more firmly as they melted into each other's arms. Ennis just let go of all his tension from the day and focused on the man in his arms, who was pressing close and kissing him deeply. He could feel Jack's tongue in his mouth and let out a sigh, enjoying the intimacy of it.

"Damn," he breathed when they pulled apart for air, and Jack smiled.

"Yeah..." They kissed a few more times and then Jack resumed cooking as Ennis set the table. They worked as a team and knew that it was a key ingredient of a happy marriage, after love of course. "Ennis?" Jack asked as he turned the fish over.

"Yeah, bud?"

"I wanted to ask you...what are we doing for our anniversary? It's just a couple of months away..."

Ennis stood next to him, leaning on the counter. "I dunno. Never had a weddin' anniversary before, so..." He bit at a hangnail; a habit he'd held onto all these years. "You wanna maybe...take a trip somewhere?"

Jack looked at him; it was perfect. They loved going away together and it was a great opportunity. "That...that sounds great. Perfect, even." He laughed and kissed Ennis on the cheek, seeing that his cowboy had gone a little red. "Where are we going?"

"Um, dunno." Ennis shifted; there were so many places in the world that he wanted to visit, and he would love to take Jack with him, but even with Jack's inheritance they weren't rolling in money. They needed that money to live on while they weren't earning. "Well, maybe...we could go campin' somewhere. Up in the mountains maybe."

Jack nodded his approval, already looking forward to it. "That sounds good. We live on a beach and we go to Boston a lot, so...maybe out in the woods is just what we need. But...I don't wanna sleep in a tent. Too cold and hard, I reckon."

"We can rent a cabin," Ennis told him, smirking. "Get one with a big bed, so we can have some fun." He leaned in and kissed Jack's neck, making him squirm.

"Ennis...gonna burn this if you don't cut that out," he protested weakly. This was one gesture from Ennis that could render him completely helpless, especially if Ennis happened to be inside him at the same time. The feeling of Ennis's lips on the sensitive skin of his neck drove him crazy with lust and made him weak in the knees. Ennis knew this and often did it on purpose just to get him going.

Ennis took pity on him and let him go, allowing Jack to finish cooking and get the food onto their plates. They moved to the table and sat down, looking forward to the evening and what it might bring. Jack knew that Ennis was planning on fucking him more than once, and the thought alone was making him hope that the evening would pass quickly. Apart from that, the idea of returning the favour was equally appealing. He loved being inside Ennis and showing him how good it felt to be taken care of.

They spent a couple of hours in front of the TV with a beer, but then couldn't take it anymore and retreated to the bedroom. The pair of them spent a few more hours rolling around the bed and taking it in turns to fuck each other, their moans filling the room and the bed becoming a complete mess. The sheets would definitely have to be changed and washed, but they didn't notice right now. All they cared about was getting as close to each other as possible and letting their love for each other physically manifest in the best way they knew how.

When they were finally spent and could barely move, Jack looked at Ennis and they exchanged a smile. It wasn't often that they had a night like this, with hours of making love, but it was very welcome.

June 16th, 2009

Alma drove along the road in the rental car, enjoying the sunlight despite what she was about to do. She was headed for the airport to catch her flight to Provincetown, and she wondered what kind of reception she might get. She knew that Ennis had married his roommate Jack Twist; his mother had told her so only recently. The wedding, if she could call it that, had occurred almost a year ago. She still couldn't fathom why they would legalise something like that.

She looked down at the seat beside her, at the sleeping girl. For nearly six years, she had wanted a family with Ennis. But going to the campus in Amherst hadn't yielded the results she'd expected. Ennis had told her that he was seeing his male roommate, and that he was in love. That had destroyed all of her hopes of being with him, but now she was ready to cut off all ties. She had a new life waiting for her, and she couldn't hang on to the past anymore.

"Mama?" came a small voice from next to her. Alma looked over again and saw a pair of deep brown eyes staring at her, so like the man who'd fathered her. She wondered how they would look when she landed on his doorstep.

"What is it, honey?" she asked, a small part of her regretting what she was about to do. But it was for the best. Junior yawned.

"Where we goin'?"

Alma sighed. "I'm takin' you to live with yer daddy. He's gonna look after you from now on."

"You comin' with me?" Junior asked, blinking. Alma bit her lip; that was the last thing she wanted, and not because she didn't love her daughter. She was doing it because she wanted to start a family with her new fiancé, and an illegitimate child would not be welcomed by his family.

"Sorry, honey...I can't. But I'm gonna write to you, an' call you now an' then. An'...yer daddy lives at the beach, remember? Yer gonna have a lot of fun there."

Junior smiled. "Really? Will he take me for donkey rides an' everythin'?" she asked, her eyes lighting up. Alma gave a small smile, wishing that it could just be Ennis out there. But no; she would have to contend with his...husband. She shuddered at the thought; they had been allowed to legally marry, going against God and everything the Bible said. People encouraged it, too. What was the world coming to? She would have to live with knowing that Jack Twist was raising her daughter, and she was trying to come to terms with that.

But she wouldn't make it too easy; the legal issues were bound to eat at him somewhat and she felt a kind of grim satisfaction at the thought. Giving Jack certain rights didn't mean that she would ever approve of him or his relationship with the man she should have married.

"I'm sure he will, Junior," she told her daughter, nodding.

"Does he have any other kids? Is he married?" the girl asked innocently, unaware of her father's living situation.

"I don't think he has any other kids, but...he is married," Alma begrudgingly admitted. Even if it is an abomination, she thought waspishly. People say they can be married out there in that state...unbelievable. "You'll see for yourself soon enough."

Junior nodded, and then looked out of the window. "Mama...why ain't you comin' with me? You an' Monroe can come an' live with us."

Alma shook her head; that would never happen. Even if she wasn't engaged, there was no way she would live anywhere near Ennis and...that man. She hated Jack Twist and she'd never even met him. He had stolen Ennis away from her, and Ennis had refused to come back to Wyoming because of him. What had happened for him to choose Jack over her?

"That can't happen, honey. Monroe...wants to live in Wyomin', an' yer daddy lives out on the coast. It's too far away."

Junior fell silent, conceding defeat. She didn't understand why her mother wouldn't live with her and her father, or why her mother wouldn't tell her more about what was going on. At just five years old, there was a lot she didn't understand about any of this.

Alma thought back over the past six years as she drove on. Finding out that she was pregnant had scared her at first, given that Ennis had already left for Amherst. She'd thought that by going to see him over the holidays, she could convince him to come back with her. But all of her efforts had been fruitless; he'd confessed that he Not only that, but he was in love with a man. It didn't make sense to her; how could he love a man when they had been together just a few months before?

The thing that hurt the most was that Ennis had planned to break up with her over the holidays, and that was why he hadn't told Jack that they were technically still together. He'd broken up with her there and then just to save his new relationship, and that still stung after almost six years. True, he hadn't known that she was expecting his child, but still. If she had said something, would that have changed his mind? Would he have come back with her then?

She didn't know for sure, but she hoped that Ennis could step up for his daughter now. This little girl needed him despite everything, and Alma didn't care if Jack wasn't ready to deal with that. He'd stolen Ennis from her, and Alma was determined to get her own back in a quiet and refined way, with minimal fuss that would make maximum impact.

They're gonna pay for what they did, she said to herself as the airport came into view, leading her to her destination and what it would bring. They can't get away with what they did.