Chapter 11

August 7th, 2009

Things were improving for Ennis and Jack, and Junior had settled in well to her new home. Both men were looking forward to their anniversary trip and felt like they needed the time away. A chance to be alone together didn't come often for parents of young children, so they relished having this time.

Their date the other night had been wonderful, and Jack told Ennis that he couldn't wait for their next one. It would likely be after they returned from Vermont, but Ennis made a mental note that he had to give Jack more than he was at the moment. He never wanted to lose Jack over a lack of attention, even though Jack understood how Junior was a priority too.

On Friday morning, they were lying in bed together and slowly kissing, just revelling in the quiet before they had to get up and face the day. This was probably Ennis's favourite time of day, even more so than at night when they came together to make love. But he did enjoy that time, too. Truth be told, he enjoyed every minute of being with Jack because it was always such an incredible feeling.

He ran his hand down Jack's back as they kissed, Jack pressing himself closer and running his tongue around Ennis's mouth. Ennis could hear him moaning and feel him breathing, and he never wanted to leave this bed ever again. Jack just felt so good here next to him, in his arms and kissing him like there was no tomorrow.

"God, I love you," he breathed when Jack released his lips. Jack lowered his head to Ennis's neck and started kissing there instead. Ennis's eyes slid shut in pleasure as Jack lavished attention on him, and his hand found Jack's. He heard a soft clinking as their wedding rings touched, and the thought put a slight smile on his face. They were legally married and nobody would take away what they had.

"Love you too," Jack whispered, rising up and smiling down at him. He loved seeing Ennis like this; so relaxed without a care in the world. He'd only ever wanted Ennis to be happy, and it seemed to him like they'd reached that point. Their life was far from perfect, but they were very happy together and they could work on their issues as a team.

Jack paused from his kissing, just looking down at Ennis and twirling a curl around his finger. "Baby...I hope you much you mean to me..." he whispered, and Ennis squeezed his fingers, looking into those deep blue eyes that went straight to his heart.

"I do, Jack...I really do..."

"You're the love of my life," Jack went on, needing to say these words to Ennis. "And I can't wait to see what the rest of our life together brings us."

"Me neither..." With that, Ennis pulled Jack's mouth back down to his and kissed him deeply, winding his tongue around Jack's.

Knowing that Junior wouldn't be awake for a while yet, the two of them snuck out of their bedroom and down the hall to the bathroom to take a shower together. Ennis turned the water on and pulled Jack into the stall as it started to steam up. "Gonna have some fun in here, bud."

"Sounds good to me." Jack found himself turned around to face the tiles as Ennis washed his back, taking it slowly and making him sigh. "Ennis..."

When he was loose-limbed and aroused, Jack turned his head to face Ennis. "Bud...can we...?"

"Whatever you want, darlin'," Ennis murmured in his ear, pushing him closer to the tiles and kissing the back of his neck. Just as he was preparing himself with the soap, he saw Jack turning around.

"Wait," he breathed, looking into Ennis's eyes. "Wanna do it another way. Like that first dream I ever had of you..."

"Where I lift you up an' fuck you against the tiles?" Ennis asked, eyebrows raised. They were older now and he wasn't sure he could do that, but he would give it a go if it was what Jack wanted.

"Yeah," Jack replied, nodding. "If you can." He lifted one leg and wrapped it around Ennis's waist, and was somehow lifted up into Ennis's arms, both legs now around his lover. Fortunately, there was a bar installed in the shower for such adventures and he held onto it as Ennis got himself into position, trying to find a way in. "There you go..."

Ennis pushed himself upwards into Jack, grinning breathlessly at his achievement. "Wasn't sure we could do this anymore...guess I was wrong. You ready for a good fuckin'?" he asked, and Jack claimed his mouth in response.

It wasn't easy or smooth, but he managed to thrust upwards and Jack clung to him, head knocking backwards against the tiles. Fearing that Jack would hurt himself, Ennis managed to pull Jack's head forward to his shoulder, taking care of him even in the heat of the moment. "Darlin'..."

Neither of them lasted long, and Jack's legs were soon sliding down; he was unsteady on his feet so Ennis got them both out of the shower and cleaned up, and then carried him back to their room, depositing him on the bed before pulling out clothes.

"Hey," Jack protested at being unceremoniously dumped like this. "What gives?"

"Daylight's burnin', bud...better get breakfast started." Jack sighed and got up, goosing Ennis as he passed.

"Fair enough. But I'm gonna get you good later," he informed his lover, and Ennis smirked.

"Fine by me," he whispered to himself. He watched Jack getting dressed and thought about how lucky he was to be with someone like this. He knew for sure that Jack was his soul mate and other half, and that was just it. He couldn't wait for their trip; in his heart he knew it would be very special and that Jack would love the romantic evenings he was planning in his head.

The morning passed as normal, with Ennis and Jack going to work while Amy took care of Junior. Everybody had settled into this routine fairly well and Jack was becoming more used to having Junior around. He liked being around her and had learned a lot about her already, and he had to admit he wanted to know more.

Ennis found himself very busy at work, swamped with papers that needed to be organised and couldn't meet up with Jack for lunch, giving him a quick call to apologise.

"I just can't make it, bud," he said to Jack, trying his best not to make any mistakes with the paperwork. As much as his boss liked him, he couldn't afford to screw up. "Can't get away..."

"It's alright, Ennis," Jack reassured him as he slowly walked down the street. It felt strangely lonely without Ennis. "I was thinking...maybe I could go by the girls' place and see Junior. What d'you think?"

Ennis smiled at the thought of them bonding, and he nodded to himself. "That'd be great, Jack. I reckon she'd like to see you." Jack scuffed his feet on the sidewalk, hearing the gratefulness in Ennis's tone. He knew that Ennis had been trying to get them to spend time together.

"Okay. So I'll see you at home, then."

"Yeah, you bet. Bye, darlin'."

"Bye." Jack clicked off and headed over to Amy and Jessica's apartment, feeling somewhat nervous. It wasn't often that he spent time with Junior without Ennis around, and he hoped that he could do this. But Amy was there and he could talk to her if nothing else worked out. She was a friend and would listen to him ramble if he needed to.

When Amy led him inside, he was greeted by an excited squeal. "Jack!" Junior came running up to him and hugged him around the knees, bringing a smile to his face. This little girl loved him like a second father, and he hoped that one day he would feel like that.

"Hey, Junior. You okay?"

"Where's Daddy?" she asked him, and he sank down to one knee to look her in the eye. She reminded him so much of her father, and the thought comforted him. She was a little piece of Ennis, and that was a good thing.

"Sorry, honey...he's gotta work through lunch. But I thought I'd come and see you...that alright?" She smiled at him and nodded, taking his hand.

As she showed him the drawings she'd done, Amy watched them while preparing lunch. She'd heard from Jessica that Jack had been having trouble with adjusting to Junior's presence in their lives, but that he'd promised Ennis to make more of an effort. It was clear to her that Jack had come here on purpose since Ennis couldn't make it to lunch; he wanted to spend time with Junior and get to know her. Junior was a lovely girl and the circumstances of her birth weren't her fault; this was just the way the dice had rolled.

"Jack? Can you come here and help me with this?" she asked him, and he got up. When he was closer, she looked at Junior. "I just want you to know...I can see the effort you're making. I think Ennis would be proud of you."

Jack nodded, looking at his stepdaughter. "Yeah...maybe. It's still not easy, but...I'm learning. can't help but like her. I still find myself wishing that she was ours...mine and his, together. But that's the one thing we can't have together, no matter how much we love each other."

"I know," she replied, shaking his shoulder. "But it's okay...Ennis knew that when he decided he wanted to be with you. He knew that you'd never have kids together and he didn't know that Alma was pregnant. As far as he knew, he was never going to have kids. But he chose you anyway because he loved you." She sighed. "Ennis made his choice, and it was the right one. He's accepted that he can't have kids with you. And he's made his peace with it because...there's no other choice. He can't stay hung up on something that he's got no control over. He loves you despite all that."

She smiled at him and continued to prepare lunch, knowing that she'd given him a dose of reality to think about. Ennis didn't have to come back to the dorm room six years ago, and he didn't have to tell Jack that he wanted to be with him. He could have run away and gone back to Wyoming. When Alma had turned up on campus, Ennis could have taken the easy way out and gone back with her.

But he hadn't. He'd stayed because he was in love, and because he'd wanted to be with Jack. Amy was right; Ennis had made his choice. Ennis had even told him that he'd never have gone back with Alma, not even if she'd told him she was pregnant. Jack had been humbled to hear this considering that Ennis had given up a "normal" life and family to be with him, and that was why he had to make the effort with Junior now. He owed it to Ennis for choosing him.

With this thought, he went back over to Junior and sat down next to her, and Amy could hear them chatting away to each other like a father and daughter. She just had to tell Ennis about this. She slipped down the hallway on the pretext of going to the bathroom and pulled out her cell phone, intending to send a message to Ennis.

Jack's here. Him and Junior doing really well :)

Ennis picked up his buzzing phone and saw the message from Amy; a smile spread across his face and he felt immense relief at this news. For the past two months, all he'd wanted was for them to bond, and now it was happening. Everything was coming together for their family.

August 10th, 2009

On Monday morning, Ennis and Jack were finally setting off for Vermont. They'd booked the week off as soon as they'd decided where they wanted to go and their bosses were fine with it. Junior would be spending the week with Jessica and Amy, so everything was sorted for them to take a romantic trip away together.

Over the last few weeks, Jack had been browsing more of the area where their cabin was situated and he had to admit that it looked wonderful. He could imagine lying in that pine bed with Ennis early in the morning, just relaxing and listening to the birds sing outside. A smile crept across his face every time he thought of the surprise he had in store for Ennis.

As they were getting together their carry-ons, Ennis slipped up behind Jack and pulled him close. "Mmm...lookin' forward to this. In just a few hours...we'll be out in the middle of nowhere an' we can be as loud as we want..."

Jack grinned, covering Ennis's arms with his own. "Sounds good to gonna make me howl at the moon?" Ennis kissed the back of his neck.

"Gonna make you do more than that," he replied, mouth close to Jack's ear. It was tempting for them to just go back to bed and start off the week in style, but they didn't want to miss their flight. Both of them were already thinking of the bathroom on the plane, and what they could get up to in there. The flight itself would be less than an hour, so they had to spend their time wisely. Jack hoped that Ennis wouldn't get sick on the way; not for the missed sex but because he hated seeing Ennis so weak and ill.

Ennis eventually let him go and turned to his own bag, and Jack cleared his throat. "You reckon you'll be okay up there?" he asked, and Ennis shrugged.

"Dunno. But it's only an hour...might be alright." He gave Jack a look. "You thinkin' of that Mile High Club, Jack?"

Jack turned to face him. "Ennis...that's just a bit of fun to make the time pass. It doesn't matter if you get too sick for that, not to me. We've got a whole week ahead of us for that stuff. I asked because...I don't like seeing you that way. All sick and hurts me too." Ennis sighed and pulled him into his arms.

"I know. But I can't say if I'll be okay or not. I might be...but we'd better bring some paper bags, just in case." Jack nodded and kissed him before heading out of the room, intending to retrieve the bags. Ennis watched him go, touched by Jack's caring nature.

About half an hour before they had to leave for the airport, Amy came over to collect Junior and to bid goodbye to Ennis and Jack. She knew that they needed this.

"Have a good time," she said as she hugged them. "Try not to wear each other out too much." Jack smirked at Ennis while she was looking the other way, his video camera safely away in his luggage.

They got to the airport and were faced with the long wait before they could progress further inside; both of them hated having to wait a few hours before being able to go through. Ennis noticed that Jack was a little sleepy, so he pulled Jack down and guided his head onto his lap, stroking Jack's hair. "You look tired there, darlin'..."

"Yeah..." Jack sighed, looking up at him. "Someone kept me up late last night..." He smiled and took Ennis's hand. "But I'm not complaining...sure is good with you. Always was."

Ennis squeezed his fingers. "I really am lookin' forward to this, bud. Just you an' me. I love Junior to bits, but..."

"Sometimes we just need to be alone," Jack finished for him. "I reckon all parents feel like that. We're married...we need this time alone." Ennis nodded and watched as Jack closed his eyes, starting to doze.

Eventually they were allowed to go through and bought themselves some coffee, sitting by the windows and watching as planes came in and flew out. Despite how impressive it was, Ennis had to admit he was nervous. They didn't fly often and Jack didn't like to see him sick, and he was grateful for that. But he'd wanted their anniversary to be special and there was only so far they could go by car.

About an hour later, they got onto the plane and Ennis grasped Jack's hand, unsure of how he was going to react when the plane took off. Jack covered their hands with his free one and kissed Ennis's cheek, trying to calm Ennis down.

"Gonna be okay, baby," he said softly, stroking Ennis's arm. "I know you don't like it, but...I'm here. You'll be fine..." He leaned in close to Ennis and whispered in his ear, "I'll look after you, I promise." Ennis managed to smile at him and squeeze his fingers. Jack tried not to wince at the intensity of his grip.

"I know it'll be worth it, Jack," he said quietly, breathing deeply. "Just...gotta get through this." Jack handed Ennis a paper bag just in case and rested his head against Ennis's arm, just to be there for him.

The plane took off and Ennis's face went green; Jack saw it coming and helped him lean over, rubbing his back. "'s okay,'s okay..." As soon as the seatbelt lights went off, Jack helped Ennis up and took him to the bathroom. It wasn't what he'd expected from this flight, but that didn't matter. As Ennis's husband he had to be there when Ennis needed him. Ennis was usually the one to take care of him, but Jack was more than capable of returning the favour when he had to. He liked looking after Ennis; it showed how much he loved him and that was always a good thing.

The flight turned out to be fairly pleasant after the initial discomfort, but Ennis was in no way up for anything more than just sitting down. Jack understood this and reasoned with himself that there was plenty of time for them to have sex on this trip, numerous times in fact.

When it was announced that they were ten minutes away from landing, Jack nudged his sleeping husband, who was resting against him. "Ennis? We're here..." He gently shook Ennis awake until he sat up, blinking around at him. "We're here, cowboy," Jack informed him, and Ennis rubbed the sleep from his eyes; Jack had always found that endearing.

"Oh...right." Jack took his hand.

"You feeling okay?" he asked, and Ennis nodded.

"Better after sleepin'." He turned to face Jack and smiled at him. "Thanks for lookin' after me, bud." Jack shrugged.

"You'd do it for me," he said matter-of-factly, both of them knowing that it was true. They would always take care of each other until the end of their lives.

"Sorry that we couldn't do nothin' in the bathroom," Ennis said quietly, hating that he might have disappointed Jack. But all he got was a kiss on the cheek.

"Doesn't matter, Ennis. I told you long as you're okay, I don't care about that. There's plenty of time for that when we get settled in." Ennis nodded and tried not to throw up again as the plane started to land. Luckily, he made it just fine and they were soon back on steady ground.

After collecting their luggage, they headed out to where a rental car was waiting for them and got in, glad that the biggest part of their journey was over. Now there was only the short drive to the cabin and the scenery around them was bound to be interesting.

As Jack drove along the road, he kept thinking about what would happen after this trip. It was clear to him that things needed to change back home. He was making more of an effort with Junior and things were great with Ennis, so he had a lot to look forward to. But more than once, he'd been into the desk drawer and looked at the papers that Alma had given them. All he would have to do was sign his name and take them to Mark; it seemed so easy and straightforward and he knew it was the right thing to do. A part of him truly wanted to adopt Junior but every time he picked up a pen and put his hand even near the dotted line, he would be unable to do it. Something was holding him back; something that he was still scared of and he didn't know what it was.

He pushed these thoughts away as the forest came into view, and he kept his eyes peeled for the site. The owner, Carl Smith, would be waiting for them at the cabin so that they could pay him and get the keys. He'd seemed like a decent man and not at all concerned that two men would be sharing the bedroom, but they had yet to meet him in person.

They found the cabin, and sure enough the owner was waiting for them on the front steps. As they drove up they both took in the sight of the amazing building. It was a traditional log cabin, one storey right on the edge of the forest. They were aware of the presence of bears in the state, and Jack hoped that they weren't going to see one while out walking. That was the last thing they needed.

"Hi," Jack called to the owner as they approached him, wallet in hand. Carl stood up and shook their hands. "Jack Twist, and my husband Ennis Del Mar."

"Carl Smith," he introduced himself. "Pleased to meet you both, hope you have a good stay. That's $500 for the whole five days; the key's under the front mat." Jack handed over the money while Ennis retrieved the key. "All I ask is that you chop up firewood now and then and keep the wood box full for when you leave. There's a shotgun shed around the back in case you see any bears, but it's rare. There's also some fishing poles inside if you wanna go down to the lake."

"Okay, thanks," Jack replied, smiling and looking forward to this week. Carl nodded and tipped his hat to them.

"Have a good stay, and just leave the key under the mat when you lock up on Friday. Thanks." He left them to it, and as his car drove away Ennis came up to Jack, sliding his arms around his husband's waist.

"Alone at last," he murmured, and Jack sighed in contentment, his own hands sliding up Ennis's chest to lock around his neck.

"Yep. Just you and me...let's get our stuff inside and have a look around, huh?" Ennis nodded and they kissed a few times before unpacking the car, wondering what the interior of the cabin looked like.

Once inside, they discovered that the main area was similar to their apartment; the living room was at the front and an open-plan kitchen was at the back, complete with island. Double glass doors next to the kitchen opened out onto the back porch and a door to the side led to the bedroom; they knew that there was an en-suite bathroom through there too.

"I'm gonna like this," Jack said as they set their luggage down, and Ennis nodded. Both of them had a few plans in mind for this week, both wanting it to be an anniversary to remember. This was a testament to their love for each other and how they had strived to make their relationship work. Gay men and women had died in the past fighting for the rights they now enjoyed, and both of them felt like they had to seize these chances and make the most of their lives.

After settling in, the pair of them agreed that all they wanted to do right now was sit down for a while. Ennis still wasn't feeling too good from the flight, so Jack sat him down while he unpacked, looking around the various parts of the cabin as he went.

The bedroom was everything he'd hoped it would be; a large pine bed where they could have a lot of fun and celebrate their love. There was also a dresser on one side facing the bed, and he thought of the video camera he'd bought. A grin came to his face as he thought of his surprise; he figured that Ennis would be up for it. He was a lot more confident during sex these days, and was willing to try new things with Jack. It kept their relationship strong and now they were here, celebrating their first year of marriage.

The en-suite bathroom was fairly large and he looked at the bathtub with interest, wondering if they could both fit in there and perhaps take a bath together. It wasn't about getting clean; more about relaxing and just being together.

I'm looking forward to this so much, Jack thought to himself as he put their things away for later. Ennis had told him that he had a surprise for him, so Jack left his bags alone for Ennis to unpack by himself. Knowing Ennis, it was bound to be something special. Whenever he does something, he means it. He's a man of his word and he's always been good to me.

He exited the bedroom and saw that Ennis had turned the TV on, flicking through the channels. Jack smiled and headed back over to him, sitting down and kissing his cheek. "Hey."

"Hey, darlin'," Ennis replied, putting his arm around Jack. Despite how uneasy his stomach still felt, he was happy that they were here and he couldn't wait for them to start celebrating. His things still needed to be unpacked, and he thought of the special items he'd bought back home. Jack would definitely appreciate the gesture, but there was one more surprise left for their anniversary that he was due to have delivered to the cabin. "You all unpacked?"

"Yep, just your stuff left now. You hungry or still feeling bad?"

"Dunno if I could eat anythin', to be honest," Ennis replied, and Jack gently rubbed his stomach.

"We've got some about I make you some dry toast?" he offered, and Ennis was touched by his thoughtfulness.

"Yeah, that'd be good. Thanks, bud." They kissed a couple of times and then Jack got up, heading for the kitchen. Ennis watched him from the sofa, thinking about how much he loved Jack and how happy they were. This may be their first year of marriage, but they'd been together for almost six years now. If they hadn't been in college and so focused on their studies, they might have married sooner. He could remember them hearing about the proposed changes in the law and how they had briefly discussed it.

Jack came back with the toast, having made some for himself too. Ennis found a movie for them to watch and they settled down together, Jack curled up against Ennis with his legs tucked underneath him. Everything was so quiet here, like they were the only two people in the world, and they both felt very relaxed.

"This is something else, Ennis," Jack sighed, stretching and linking their fingers together. "Could stay here all day..."

"We can do that, if you want," Ennis replied, now feeling somewhat better. "Just you an' me here, nothin' to bother us."

"Mmm...wanna make out?" Jack asked, giving him a sly look. Ennis smirked and leaned in, capturing Jack's lips with his own and drawing a sigh out of him. Jack pressed his hands to Ennis's chest and nudged at him, silently telling him to lie down. Ennis went willingly, lying back with Jack in his arms as they kissed. They took it slowly, feeling no need to rush. They had long since learned that making out didn't always have to lead to sex, and that was okay. It wasn't a waste of time as they might have once thought when they were teenagers.

Jack broke away and rested his head on Ennis's chest, rising and falling as Ennis breathed underneath him. "God, Ennis...could just lie here forever with you. Feel like I'm gonna melt or something..."

"I know," Ennis murmured, running his hands up and down Jack's back. "Darlin' you so much..."

"Mmm..." Jack rose up and kissed him again, slow and sweet. His bright blue eyes sparkled at Ennis in the deep red light coming through the window as the sun started to set. Ennis could only stare at this beautiful being in his arms, humbled that somebody like Jack would want him and nobody else. Jack had told him many times that he was attracted to him, yet he had never understood why. But all he could do was believe it and he was grateful for every day they had together. "You're the love of my life," Jack whispered, eyes boring into his. "I tell you every day that I love you...and I hope it's enough to show you just how much..."

"It is," Ennis told him, cupping Jack's face in his hands. "I know what you mean, Jack. To feel so strong that you can't describe it...I feel that every day. All we can do is say those three words an' try to show each other. An'...I know this trip is gonna do us a lot of good. Takin' the time to show each other an' to together, you know?"

"I know," Jack replied, smiling slightly. He lowered his head back down to Ennis's chest, content to just lie there and bask in what they had together. This week would do them both the world of good and they would be able to remember what was truly important.