Chapter 2

Ennis and Jack were making out on the sofa as they waited for dinner to cook. Both of them liked passing the time in this way, and Jack was busy exploring Ennis's neck while he lay on top of him.

"You drive me crazy," he breathed, nibbling at the sensitive skin. When Ennis did this to him, it always made him hopelessly aroused, so he figured he was getting his own back.

"Damn, Jack," Ennis whispered, tilting his head to give Jack further access. "Love it when you do that..."

"Mmm..." The oven timer went off just as Jack was reaching for Ennis's belt. "Fuck."

"Guess we'll have to wait for that," Ennis commented as Jack got up and headed for the kitchen. "Somethin' to look forward to..."

"You bet, cowboy. Gonna get you good after."

"Can't wait," Ennis replied with a grin when he saw Jack's ass moving so snugly in his jeans. He'd never admitted it, but he loved looking at Jack's ass. He especially liked doing so when he was fucking Jack from behind, and could see himself moving in and out. He shifted in his seat and tried to will his arousal to go down. Fortunately, Jack didn't notice his little problem and carried on with what he was doing.

Both of them were looking forward to their anniversary, and the trip that they were planning. Even though they always celebrated the day they first got together, this was special. They knew it was a huge privilege to be legally married; not every gay couple had that. Even now, only a couple of states allowed people like them to get married.

Ennis looked at Jack as he thought of this, knowing in his heart just how lucky he was to be here. It hadn't been easy while they were still in college, and nothing had been certain even when they had said they loved each other. But he figured that his breakdown near the end of their first year together had changed all of that. He'd told Jack that he was prepared to deal with whatever came their way, and Jack had accepted this.

He was very grateful to Jack for helping him so much during that time. He was no longer afraid of something happening; not to that degree, anyway. And if they ever read about a hate crime happening, he never jumped to the conclusion that the same was going to happen to them. It was never a guarantee just because they were gay.

Ennis got up and came up to Jack, kissing his cheek before heading for the bathroom. Jack stared after him, wondering where that had come from. He smiled to himself; Ennis did have moments where he could be very sweet and this was one of them. Jack lived for those moments, and they came fairly often. He was still so much in love with his husband and he knew that they could handle anything as long as they stuck together.

They sat down to eat and Jack poured a little wine for them both. These days, it felt as if they had a lot to celebrate with how well life was going for them. He still had the occasional thought of talking to Ennis about them somehow creating a family, but there was time for that. They weren't yet thirty, after all, and they had their entire lives ahead of them. But he did still think of the possibility and knew that he wanted to have a family with this man.

"This looks great, bud," Ennis told him as they started eating, and Jack smiled.

"Thanks...I know you like anything with chicken, so I figured I'd make you something you'd look forward to. And you can clean up after." Most of the time, they shared chores but neither complained if they did things on their own.

"Fair enough." As they ate their way through the meal, Ennis kept looking at Jack. How on earth could he be here right now, a former ranch hand from Wyoming? Surely this kind of life was unattainable for someone like him, yet here he was. He was in love, married and living a good life in a beautiful place. Surely nothing could go wrong for them now.

"You know, I was thinking about that trip we've got planned," Jack started, not noticing that Ennis was staring at him. "I think it'd be good for us to go out into nature...but where are we gonna go? Vermont? Wyoming?"

"Um...dunno," Ennis admitted, twirling his fork. "Think...Vermont might be better. Ain't sure I ever wanna go back to Wyomin'."

Jack nodded. "I know how you feel about it, bud. We don't have to go there if you don't want to. So...we'll go to Vermont." He smiled. "I can look online for a cabin that we could rent. One with a big bed, like you said."

Ennis's cheeks reddened and he looked down at his plate, already thinking of what they might get up to in that bed. The thought was very appealing and he couldn't wait for it to happen.

"Sounds good. An'...maybe we could go fishin' or somethin'. We don't really get the chance to do that much." It was true; they hadn't been to a lake for a long time and they missed doing that together. They both liked to get back to nature and just take things slowly for once.

"Yeah, sure," Jack agreed, and he lifted his wine glass, looking at Ennis over the brim. "I love you, you know."

Ennis smirked. "Love you too, darlin'. An' I'm lookin' forward to us spendin' our first weddin' anniversary together. It'll be fun out there in the woods."

"Yep." Jack lifted his glass in a toast and they continued with their meal, looking at each other and reflecting on everything they had built. They'd come so far and things were going so well for them, and neither of them could wait to see what was in store for them.

After dinner, the pair of them spent a couple of hours in front of the TV. Around nine, Jack turned the TV off and started giving Ennis a very familiar look; the one that told Ennis he was wanted in the bedroom. Ennis smirked and went to lock up, having done this a few hundred times already since they'd started living together.

He joined Jack in the bedroom, seeing that Jack was waiting for him. They moved close together and exchanged a soft kiss, Ennis gently resting his hands on Jack's hips. "C'mon, let's get in..." Jack nodded and they moved to their respective sides of the bed, eyes watching each other as they undressed and got under the sheets.

Ennis turned to face Jack and ran a finger down his cheek. "How'd you want it tonight, bud?"

"Hmm," Jack replied, wondering what he wanted tonight. They had a wide repertoire of what they did in bed, so there was always plenty to choose from. It was one the things that kept their sex life so alive. "I'm thinking...I wanna tie you up...and maybe...fuck you, if that's okay? You got my ass plenty of times last night."

Ennis bit his lip and nodded, anticipation building up inside him. " get to it, then." Jack kissed him hard and rolled on top of him, plunging his tongue into Ennis's mouth and drawing a moan out of him. He loved being able to make Ennis aroused like this; to get him to make those sounds. Just as they were getting somewhere, Ennis broke away.

" don't have to ask me if you can fuck me. You know I don't have a problem with it. prefer it when we ask?" he asked, feeling puzzled. Jack lowered his eyes; he'd never really stopped feeling like he had to ask Ennis if it was okay.

"Sorry, I just...old habits die hard, I guess," he said sheepishly. "Okay then." They kissed again and he reached for the nightstand, pulling out the length of red silk they kept in there. He could remember them buying this bed, making sure to get one that had bars for a headboard. It was just easier that way. "You ready?"

Ennis nodded again, a trusting smile on his face. He could trust Jack with his very life; he knew that more than ever. Jack took his hands and tied one end of the silk around Ennis's wrists, and then tied the other to the top bar over Ennis's head, a gleam in his eyes. His hard erection rubbed against Ennis's as he moved, and Ennis had to bite his lip again to keep from moaning.

When they were ready and Jack had prepared himself generously (he hated running the risk of hurting Ennis), he gently spread Ennis's legs and got into position, their eyes locking together. With an encouraging nod, Jack started to push himself into Ennis and watched his husband's face. Ennis's eyes were half-closed out of sheer pleasure, and Jack was pleased to see it.

He found his way fully inside Ennis before leaning in close. "I love you, baby," he whispered in Ennis's ear, knowing that Ennis loved it when he called him that. It was the most precious endearment they had for each other, and they usually only said it in this room when they were completely alone. Ennis opened his eyes and smiled, feeling the gentle pressure of the man he loved inside him. He gulped and gazed up into Jack's soothing eyes.

"I love you too," he breathed, and Jack nodded. Jack then lowered his head again and started moving, taking it slowly at first and just watching. How far they had come since the secretive nights together in their dorm room, keeping their relationship private apart from Lureen. It was fortunate that they had been roommates; for a number of months nobody had suspected anything, and it had helped them to form their relationship and just focus on each other. And now they were here, with everything they had wanted.

Jack leaned in and pressed their lips together, moulding his mouth against Ennis's and feeling the soft wetness of Ennis's tongue against his. Things could get messy when they became intimate, probably because they were both men who were able to take it hard, but neither of them cared. The sheets could be washed, they could bathe and there would be no trace of their lovemaking. But they were able to have sex without protection, and in that they could release into each other, coming hard and deep and making their mark.

He thought about all of this as he made love to his husband, increasing the pace and feeling Ennis shaking as he neared the edge. He fell into Ennis's arms so that their chests pressed together tightly, and he couldn't help but thrust quicker and harder, trying to reach that place where everything made sense. "Oh God, Ennis," he breathed, gritting his teeth as he felt the explosion coming. "Oh, fuck, I love you..."

Ennis's head was flat out on the pillow and he strained against his bonds, wanting to touch Jack and yet liking that he was completely at Jack's mercy. "Darlin'...darlin'..." he whispered over and over, squeezing Jack and finally being rewarded for his efforts. Jack came inside him with a yell and he shot between them, coating Jack's stomach and bucking up against him, effectively ejecting Jack from his body as they finished.

Jack collapsed onto Ennis's chest, breathing heavily as he tried not to pass out. Even though he had been the one in charge, Ennis had still found a way to gain the upper hand by squeezing him; this was one game that they both loved to play.

He reached up and undid the silk bonds, allowing Ennis to wrap him up in his arms and hold him there, neither of them able to move much. It didn't matter; they had the rest of their lives for talking.

June 17th, 2009

Ennis was busy working at the animal clinic, in the kind of environment he liked best. Even though he hadn't wanted to take over his father's ranch, he did still want to work with animals and this had seemed like the logical solution. Inspired by Jack's potential hiring over at the counselling clinic, Ennis had decided to work a little harder and get himself noticed by his boss. To his surprise, he didn't feel jealous of Jack's success; he knew that the same could happen to him soon.

At the moment, he was busy feeding a newborn hedgehog that had been found in the grassy area north of the town. Jack's love of baby animals had rubbed off on him, and he'd always liked taking care of the young back on the ranch. He sat there with the little one in his arm; it had been found abandoned on its own, no sign of its mother or any siblings. Jack had always said that he had a gentle nature, and maybe he did.

Wonder what it'd be like if we had a kid? he thought to himself, and then blinked. Where the hell did that come from? They had discussed a family now and then, but always in a hypothetical way; they had never made any concrete plans or even had a serious conversation about it. But now that the thought had entered his mind, it wouldn't let go. What would it be like for them to have a family? Obviously, they would have a lot to plan given that they were both guys, but still.

He shook his head and concentrated on what he was doing, seeing that the hedgehog was full and falling asleep. He put it back onto its bed in the cage and left the room, needing to clear his head.

When he entered the reception area, he was greeted by a large and friendly Labrador, golden in colour with deep brown eyes like his own. He knelt down to pat it and saw that it belonged to their friend Mark, who also happened to be their lawyer. He'd been a great help to them when they'd first arrived, advising them on their wedding and all the legal details they needed to know.

"Hey, Mark," he greeted their friend, standing up to shake his hand. "Didn't know you had this guy."

Mark nodded, looking a little tired. "Yep. Me and Daniel have been talking about it for a while, finally got one and now he needs his shots. Figure it'd do us good when one of us has to work late."

"Right...he sure is friendly. How's it going with you guys?" Mark and Daniel lived a few blocks away from him and Jack, in an apartment amongst the shops further back from the beach.

"We're good, thanks," he replied, stroking his dog. "Been talking about getting married, actually. Ever since I helped you guys, I can't stop thinking about us doing the same. Since it's legal, and we love each other, we might as well take advantage of it. Do things change much when you get hitched?"

"A little, maybe. Things seem more...permanent. And it's great to know that it's legal; like we really are equal to straight people. Did you hear about that Proposition 8 over in California?"

"Yeah, I did. Talk about homophobic. I sure as hell hope that we don't have to deal with that here, ever."

"I reckon we'll be okay." He then looked down at Mark's dog. "You know, I'm not busy right now. I could do the shots for you; I'm allowed to do that."

Mark nodded and followed Ennis through to the back. It was true that Ennis was allowed to give shots; they were already measured out and ready to give and his boss had even said that he was allowed to do it. Ennis hoped it was a sign that maybe soon he would be hired.

As he worked on the dog, whose name was Sandy, he decided to ask Mark's advice on children. "Listen...I've been havin' these thoughts. an' Jack maybe havin' kids one day."

"Wow...that's a huge step. You guys talked about it?"

"Now an' then, but...nothin' for sure. Was just wonderin' what you thought."

"There's a lot to consider, but I'm sure you know that. For one thing, which way you want to go. Egg donor and surrogacy, or adoption. Both could take a long time, not to mention a lot of money. But it's not undoable. You would have to discuss it with Jack thoroughly and make sure he's ready for kids. Because if he isn't and you do it anyway, it could cause problems. I'm sure you don't need that."

"That's true." Ennis finished with the shots and gave Sandy a pat while he rested. "Well...I know I'd have to talk to him, but...I'm thinkin' he might be ready. Things are goin' well, an' we're happy. We did always say that we wanted a family one day." Ennis smiled to himself. "I know I want one with him, though. However we decide to do it, we'd be creatin' a family."

Mark nodded and saw that Sandy was ready to move again. He put the leash on and extended a hand to Ennis. "Thanks a lot, Ennis. And if you guys do decide to go for it, with somehow having a kid, you know where I am."

"Right," Ennis replied, shaking his hand. "Thanks." Mark left and Ennis sat down, thinking. Some part of his heart told him that Jack was ready for kids, and he himself was. Maybe it was time for this next step.

His phone buzzed in his pocket and he opened it to find a text from Jack.

Gotta work through lunch, loads of paperwork. Can't make it but there's plenty in the fridge at home. Love you xxx

Ennis sighed to himself; it wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last. Still, he would be seeing Jack later and that was all he cared about.

Jack was busy working through his lunch break, hating that he couldn't spend it with Ennis. He liked meeting up with his husband for lunch to discuss their morning and just to be together. Still, he knew he had to prove himself now if he was going to be hired, so he was willing to do whatever he had to. He knew that Ennis understood how important this was, and they would see each other at home anyway.

As he worked his way through the files, his cell buzzed on the desk; it was his mother.

"Hey, mom."

"Hi, sweetie. Hope you're not too busy."

"Have to work through lunch. What's up?"

"I was wondering about your big work news. What's going on?"

"Right. Well..." He proceeded to tell her of the wonderful opportunity he was being offered, and he could hear the pride in her voice when she spoke.

"Oh, Jack...that's great! Your boss must be seeing that you're a good worker. I bet Ennis is pleased for you."

"Yeah, he is," Jack affirmed, smiling to himself at the mention of Ennis's name. "We're...we're doing really well, mom. Things are great for us right now."

"I'm glad to hear it. I know you were miserable before you came out, and for those months before you got together with Ennis. I'm so glad to see you happy now. So...what's next on the cards for you two?" He heard the question in her voice and knew what she was hinting at.

"Mom...are you asking about kids?" he asked her, the thought flitting through his mind.

"Well, I know you haven't been married for long, was just a thought."

"Yeah...I don't know. We've talked about it, but it was always hypothetical. It was a someday kind of thing, you know? I thought we'd be thirty before thinking of a family. Give us time to enjoy married life, you know? We're only twenty-five, you know."

"I know, honey. And I don't want to put pressure on you. Things like that should only happen when you're ready. Anyway...I need to get lunch started over here. Take care of yourself, okay? And give my best to Ennis."

"Will do, mom. Love you."

"Love you too." Jack hung up and stared at the wall, digesting what his mother had said. He'd been thinking that he and Ennis were too young still to start thinking of a family, but now that he thought about it...

Could we handle it? he wondered, twirling his pen over in his fingers. There's the whole money issue to deal with, since we're not earning yet. And what about actually being around to look after the kid? We both have to work. I don't know if it could happen right now. And...what if it's too stressful, juggling work with childcare? What if it causes problems?

Jack wasn't entirely sure what to do with this thought, but it wouldn't let go of him. Maybe, just maybe, it would work out. He could imagine what it might be like with a kid; days at the beach, donkey rides, walks in the sounded good. But he knew that they had to be practical; there was a lot to think about before taking those first steps.

I love him, Jack thought to himself simply. And he loves me...we're really happy and I know we're gonna make it. Maybe...we could at least talk about it?

He was lost in thought when there was a knock on the door, and Jessica entered. "Hey. Dan wants these dealing with, too." She dropped the papers onto his desk and saw the far-off look in his eyes. "Earth to Jack..." He blinked and finally saw her.

"Oh, sorry Jess. Was miles away just now."

"I'll say. What's with you?"

" mom just called. She's hinting about grandchildren, and..."

"And...what? Are you thinking about it?" Jessica asked, looking intrigued. Jack shrugged.

"I don't know. We always saw it as a someday thing, that would happen years from now. But...after talking to her, I'm starting to think differently." The thought wouldn't leave him alone now that it was in his head.

Jessica leaned on the desk, arms folded. " obviously know that there's a lot to think about. Money, juggling work..."

He nodded. "I know. But...I love Ennis and we do want a family together. And if it's meant to be, then surely it'll work out, right? It did for us when we got together. Is it too crazy? Too soon? We haven't been married for a year yet..." He knew that some people had kids after just a few months of marriage, but he wasn't sure if it was right for them.

"But you've been together for almost six years," she reminded him. "That's a long time and I bet you would've married sooner if you hadn't been so focused on your studies. Right?"

"Maybe," he replied, looking up at her. If they had simply met somewhere else, without being at college, would they have been married for longer by now? It was true that they'd wanted their studies out of the way before settling down properly, so maybe Jessica was right. "I don't know, Jess. I think...maybe we could at least talk about it and I could see where he is. If he's not ready, I don't wanna force him. That'll just spell disaster."

"I know. But...I know you guys pretty well, and I've got a feeling that Ennis might be ready for a family. You never know unless you try. So...give it a shot." She straightened up and smiled. "I've gotta get back to work...but let me know how it goes." He nodded and she left him to his thoughts.

The more he thought about it, the more it appealed to him. He wanted to have a family with Ennis and that was the end of it. He would talk to Ennis tonight, after work and over dinner. Maybe they really were ready for this next step, and there was only one way to find out.

Ennis couldn't help but think of Jack as he walked back to the apartment, wishing that they could spend lunch together. But work had to come first and he wanted Jack to be hired, so he could deal with it. He knew that they would make up for it tonight.

He made his way to the front street next to the beach, the bright sunlight beating down on him as he walked. The days were always beautiful here and he loved living in a place like this. Something told him that it would be a great place in which to raise a child, and maybe the thought wasn't as far-fetched as he'd first thought. It was the next logical step for them and he did love Jack.

We'd make good parents, he thought to himself as he approached their building. A kid don't always need opposite-sex parents as long as they're cared for. An' we could find a female role model for the kid anyway. Lureen, Jessica, Amy...any woman we know. It'll work out, I'm sure. He nodded to himself, liking the idea more and more. He knew that they could handle it, and he thought he knew that Jack was ready for it.

He reached the building and let himself in, not knowing that he was being watched by someone who had once known him, but who wasn't sure that she knew him anymore.

Alma sighed to herself and glanced at Junior, who was busy with the ice-cream she'd bought her. Ennis looked so different from the last time she'd seen him, back in 2003 on that failed trip to Amherst. She'd wanted him back but he was long gone by then. What had the world come to?

She knew that she could turn around right now and leave, to not get involved in this again, but she had steeled herself. Her fiancé would want them to start a family together, and it pained her to acknowledge that there was no place for Junior there. Alma knew it was the best thing for the little girl to be with the parent who did have the opportunity to care for her, even if he did live with another man.

After a little while, she decided to go for it; to do what she'd come here to do. She might regret it afterwards, but she knew it was for the best.

Ennis whistled to himself as he prepared lunch, wondering if Jack would get the chance to eat anything and hoping that he would. He didn't want Jack to go hungry and thought about calling him, but he didn't want to make a fuss. But what if Jack forgot to eat because he was so busy? Ennis didn't want him to get ill.

Oh, fuck it. I'm callin' him, he decided, taking out his phone and pressing the speed dial for Jack's number.

"Ennis?" Jack asked when he picked it up. "What's going on?"

"Just...was wonderin' if you was gonna get somethin' to eat, with workin' through lunch an' all. Everythin' okay?" Now that he thought about it, he was kind of embarrassed for doing this. But it was too late now.

"Yeah, I've got a sandwich. I'm okay, cowboy." Jack smiled a little at Ennis's caring nature; Ennis had always been there for him no matter what. "Miss you, though."

"Me too. But we'll see each other later. There's somethin' I wanna talk to you about, bud. Nothin' bad, but..." He trailed off, needing to gather his thoughts before doing this. He needed time to prepare himself and work out what he wanted to say. He'd never been good with words but he knew he wanted to do this.

"Okay. I've gotta talk to you, too. So...I'll see you later, okay? I'll send a text when I leave."

"Alright. See you later, darlin'," he replied, and they hung up. Ennis sighed, at peace to know that Jack was at least eating while working. He turned his attention to his own lunch, thinking about the blue-eyed man who had stolen his heart.

That ain't true, he realised. Jack didn't steal it...I gave it to him. He blushed at his own thoughts and tried to concentrate, jumping when he heard a knock on the door. Wondering who on earth it could be, he headed to answer it.

The person on the other side was the one whom he'd never thought he would see ever again. "Alma?"

"Hey, Ennis," she replied cautiously, smiling in spite of herself. She had loved him when they were together, and regretted that things hadn't worked out. But that wasn't her fault; she saw it as being Jack's fault for stealing him away. "Been a long time."

"Yeah. Um..." He noticed that she was holding a small, red-haired girl in her arms and wondered what was going on. "You wanna come in?" he asked, knowing that she had come a long way and was probably tired.

"Thanks." He led her inside and she put the girl onto the sofa, leaving Ennis to stare at her in puzzlement. Why was she here, after almost six years, and who was the girl?

"So, look good."

"Thanks, you do too. How's...Jack?"

"He's good, we both are. He's at work right now."

She nodded, glad that she wouldn't have to see him. "Well...I can't stay long. My fiancé's expectin' me back soon.

"Congratulations," he replied, and he meant it. He did want her to be happy, even if it wasn't with him. "So...I take it this is yer little girl, huh? She's cute." The sight reminded him of his own desire to have kids, but he wasn't prepared for Alma's next announcement.

"Actually, Ennis...she's our little girl."

He blinked at her and then looked at the girl, wondering if he'd heard right. "What?"

She nodded. "You're her father, Ennis. She's your daughter."

Ennis stared at her with wide eyes, unable to process the information and wondering if it was just a bad dream.