Chapter 8

July 10th, 2009

Six days after the celebrations in town, Jack and his mother were making preparations over the phone for a visit. It had been agreed that she and his father would be bringing his two younger sisters and a couple of younger cousins that wanted to go to the beach. He'd invited his brother in New York to join them with his girlfriend (who was actually now his wife), but they both had to work a lot over the next few weeks.

Still, things were going well for all of them. He and Ennis had thoroughly enjoyed their bath date, and Jack had arranged the sandalwood candles around the bathroom for their enjoyment. There had been wine and soft music playing, and it had been very romantic.

"A man could get used to this," Ennis sighed as he settled between Jack's legs, leaning against his husband and listening to the music. Jack kissed the back of his neck and sipped his wine.

"Sure could. I just figured we needed something like this, Ennis...something romantic..."

"Yep." They clinked glasses and just revelled in the quiet around them.

Jack thought about this as he was on hold, waiting for his mother to retrieve the plane tickets so they could agree a time to meet. When he and Ennis had finished with the wine, Ennis had turned around with a gleam in his eyes; red wine always made him horny. They'd had a lot of fun in the tub before growing cold, upon which they had retreated to their bedroom for round two.

He was very relieved that their sex life hadn't suffered too much in the light of their problems; that was the last thing he wanted to happen. He loved Ennis so much and never wanted to go for too long without their physical love. He couldn't possibly imagine having sex with a complete stranger at random, like a lot of gay men did. For him, sex had mostly been about love. He hadn't loved the girls he'd been with in high school, but now it was different. As far as he and Ennis were concerned, sex did equal love because there was no way they could separate the two.

"Jack?" came his mother's voice, shaking him from his thoughts.

"Yep. Did you get them?"

"Sure did. We've got a flight at eight in the morning on the seventeenth. We should be there for around nine or so."

"Okay. I don't think my car's big enough to take you all, so I can pick up the kids and you guys could take a taxi or something."

"That'd be fine, Jack. How's everything there?"

"All fine. Ennis and I are okay right now, thank God. I really don't know what I would have done if we'd broken up." Ennis, who had just walked into the main room from the bathroom, heard this and stopped, staring at Jack. Clearly, their fight was still getting to him. "I just...I don't ever wanna lose him, mom. He' soul mate, you know?" Ennis smiled at these words and leaned against the doorframe, watching Jack.

"I know, honey. And I'm sure you'll be fine. I can't wait to see you boys again, and to meet Junior."

"Yeah. Can you handle being called Grandma?" he asked her with a grin.

" was bound to happen one day, one way or another. I always figured your brother would be the first, to be honest. Any news on that front?"

"No, they haven't said anything. I'm sure he'd let you know if there was."

"Yeah. Anyway, I better get back to what I was doing. Give my love to Ennis and Junior."

"Will do. Bye, mom."

"Bye, honey." Jack clicked off and jumped when he felt Ennis's hand on his shoulder.

"Damn it, Ennis..." He turned to see a strange look in Ennis's eyes; he couldn't really figure out what it was. "Ennis?"

"That fight we it still gettin' to you?" Ennis asked softly, feeling sorry for Jack that he'd been suffering alone. Jack sighed.

"Well...not really. But I can't stop thinking about what might have happened if we hadn't made up. I don't want it to ever get to a point where one of suggests a...divorce." Even just saying the word made him shudder; it was so final and bleak. Ennis pulled him close, kissing the side of his head.

"It ain't gonna happen. To be honest...I can't see either of us bein' able to say that each other. I don't wanna be without you, Jack. Not after everythin' we've been through."

Jack took several deep breaths and tried to calm himself, knowing that breaking down wouldn't do him any good. "Yeah."

When Jack was okay again, Ennis released him and kissed him on the lips. "Right then...what d'you want for dinner?" Jack laughed at Ennis's ability to cheer him up no matter what.

"I don't know. You're the chef tonight. Maybe I should get you one of those 'Kiss the cook' aprons, you know?"

"You know you don't need an excuse to kiss me, Jack," Ennis replied as he started rummaging in the freezer, and then the fridge. Jack grinned when Ennis bent over, admiring the sight before him.

"Nope, sure don't..." Ennis realised that Jack was staring at his ass and rolled his eyes.

"Put your eyes back in, Jack. Ain't got no time for that," he said as he straightened up.

"So does that mean I'll get some later?" Jack asked slyly, sidling up to him and letting his hands wander. Ennis squirmed away with a grin.

" might just get lucky later on." Jack nodded his approval and left him alone to cook, heading for the sofa to watch some TV. He loved being like this with Ennis again; even just hitting on each other could be a lot of fun because they knew where it would end up later on. Jack was already looking forward to the night ahead that Ennis had tempted him with.

Ennis was lying on his back, letting his mind go blank as he enjoyed the sensations running through his body. Jack's head had disappeared under the sheets and was now between his legs, lavishing attention on him. He felt very relaxed but also straining for release, his neck arching a little.

Things were going very well for them at the moment; he and Jack were soon due to start planning for their anniversary trip in August. They had agreed on going to Vermont and renting a cabin for the week of the twelfth. Since it was their first wedding anniversary, they both wanted to make it as special as possible.

Jack felt himself rubbing against the sheet as he sucked at Ennis, both hands occupied; one was stroking Ennis's stomach where he was particularly sensitive in these moments, and the other was making its way underneath to the dark passage. Jack had a feeling that when his finger penetrated Ennis, that would be enough to send him over the edge. He liked how it wasn't just about the act itself, but about doing different things at once. He loved using every trick he knew on Ennis to make him feel like he was on cloud nine.

"Jack..." Ennis sighed, head falling to the side as his hips bucked slightly. "I...I'm close..." Jack glanced up at him, seeing the look on his face. It was as if he had forgotten the world and even who he was; like he was somewhere else entirely. Jack liked making Ennis feel this way and was happy that he was the one doing this.

He let go for a moment to breathe, and rubbed Ennis's stomach. "S'alright...let go, Ennis...let it out..." When he dived back in, his finger reached its target and pushed in, moving around until Jack found what he was looking for. Ennis kept bucking his hips and was groaning, straining and gasping for breath. Jack sucked a few more times until he felt Ennis coming into his mouth, the unique taste running down his throat as he took it all, his own hips bucking until he started spilling onto the sheet.

"Fuck, Jack!" Ennis gasped out, thrusting helplessly into Jack's mouth and staring wide-eyed at the ceiling. He collapsed back down, breathing heavily as his head spun. Jack looked up at him, now also spent and satisfied. He smiled and crawled up Ennis's chest, glad to see Ennis like this.

"Enjoy that, cowboy?" he murmured, draping himself over Ennis and kissing his husband's neck. Ennis made a soft purring sound in the back of his throat and his hand found Jack's.

"Yeah. That was somethin' else. Always seems to get better with us, every time..."

"I know. Thought it was supposed to get worse after getting hitched," Jack mused, watching their fingers playing together. Ennis shrugged.

"Maybe, but it ain't like that for us. Hope it never does, either. Can't imagine us bein' married an' not doin' it regularly. Couldn't live like that, Jack."

"Yeah...but you day we're gonna be old men, and we won't be able to do it. Our bodies won't be able to cope." He looked up to see the deep brown eyes watching him. "Could you live with that?"

"If we're old, yeah. I might not feel like doin' it by then anyway. They reckon yer sex drive goes down when you're a lot older."

"Hmm." Jack folded his arms on Ennis's chest and rested his chin on them, still watching Ennis's face. "I hope that doesn't happen for a long time yet."

Ennis stroked the back of his neck, liking the feel of Jack's damp hair between his fingers. "It won't, darlin'. I promise. We're gonna keep doin' it regular until we just can't anymore. That okay with you?"

Jack grinned at him. "Sure thing. I love you, baby..."

"Love you too...come up here." Ennis tugged at Jack to pull him up, and their lips met. Jack kissed him deeply, pushing his tongue into Ennis's mouth as if trying to count his teeth. Ennis's hands travelled down Jack's muscled back until he reached his ass, rubbing and stroking. Jack shivered with delight and bucked slightly, breaking away.

"You wanna go again?" he whispered, and Ennis shrugged.

"Figured I'd give you a little somethin'...shut up an' stay still." He moved his hand and pushed a finger into Jack, smirking when Jack's eyes widened. Jack gulped as Ennis started searching for the sweet spot, head falling to Ennis's shoulder. Both were hard by now and their erections were rubbing together, Jack whimpering into Ennis's neck and unable to move.

Ennis kissed Jack's skin as he fingered him, knowing that Jack liked this and that it drove him crazy. Jack was soon shooting between them and groaning into his neck, making Ennis shoot up onto his chest soon after.

Jack collapsed onto him, his vision swimming as he tried to figure out who and where he was. His brain just didn't work when he came like that, and needed a moment to rewire itself. He sighed and relaxed against Ennis, making a contented sigh. "I love you..."

" you too, darlin'." Ennis wrapped his arms around Jack and hugged him, his heart soaring with the love he felt for Jack. Before they'd met, he'd never thought it was possible to love one person so much. Yet here it was; he was lying here with the love of his life and they were very happy. He knew that things were far from perfect for them right now, with the issue of the parental rights documents and the adoption, not to mention Jack's conflicting feelings. But they would be okay; he was sure of it. When they were together, Ennis felt as if they could handle anything.

He looked down to see that Jack had fallen asleep, and smiled. Jack looked like an angel when he slept, yet Ennis had never told him that. Maybe he would at some point; Jack would love to hear it.

July 12th, 2009

On Sunday morning, Ennis and Jack were making concrete plans for their trip to Vermont. After doing some research on the internet, they had found a cabin available for rent just outside Groton State Forest, right next to a lake. It looked like the perfect place for them to spend their anniversary, so they were deciding on how they would go about it.

Jack was currently on the phone trying to call the owner of the cabin to see if it would be available, while Ennis was browsing flights. So far, he couldn't yet find any for August but he figured that would change as the month wore on.

"Hey, I'm looking for a Mr James Peterson. Oh, right. Well, I'm interested in renting your cabin in Vermont for a week in August, if it's possible. Yeah, the one by the lake outside the Groton Forest. My husband and I are looking for a cabin for the week."

Ennis smiled at him, liking the word husband more and more every day. At first, it had felt a little strange to be married to another man, especially legally, but now he was used to it. He hadn't expected any of this, but he couldn't be happier. He loved Jack very much and would do anything to make him happy.

"Okay, that's great. We don't have a flight yet; we can't find any for August. Alright, I'll call you back when we have one. Thanks, bye." He hung up and sat back down. "He says we're welcome to use it for that week. When we have a flight booked, I'll call him back and he can meet us there with the key, and so we can pay him. Sounds good, right?"

Ennis kissed him in response. "Sure does. I know we need some time away together, Jack. I reckon we deserve it after everythin'. Just you an' me, an' we can be as loud as we want."

Jack grinned and squeezed his fingers. "Yep. Seriously, though...I know what you mean. It hasn't been easy lately, and we need some time alone. Don't get me wrong, Ennis...I like Junior. But...sometimes I want it to be just us. And maybe that sounds selfish, but-" Ennis put a hand over his mouth.

"It ain't selfish, Jack. All parents need that, an' we're no different. Like I keep sayin'...I'm Junior's dad but I'm also yer husband, an' we've just gotta find the balance. I know I should pay you more attention than I probably was, but...this is what bein' a parent's all about, I guess. Findin' time for each other an' not just our kid."

Our kid, Jack thought to himself, the words sinking in. He wasn't sure if he thought of himself as any kind of parent to Junior yet; he kept trying to bond with her and be a father to her but something just wasn't right about the whole thing, and he couldn't figure out what it was.

He'd tried, of course. It was partially because Junior would never truly be theirs together, and because of their history with Alma, but he didn't think that was it. He hoped that he would figure it out soon; maybe then he would be able to move past this.

Ennis caught the look on his face at the words and shook his head. "It's okay, Jack. Don't think on it too much if you don't wanna." He kissed Jack's cheek and went to get them some more coffee; wondering when Junior was going to wake up. Since it was Sunday and they didn't have anywhere to go, he figured she could sleep in.

When they had more morning fuel inside them, they browsed together to look at the area where the cabin was located. It was a beautiful area, looking quite secluded and private. They knew immediately that they had made the right choice; it looked so romantic.

"I'm looking forward to this," Jack sighed, wrapping his arms around Ennis's waist and resting his head on his shoulder. Ennis laid a hand on Jack's arm.

"Me too. An' look at that lake. Reckon we could go fishin' there."

"Hmm...there's only one pole I want during this trip, Ennis. And it's not a fishing pole," Jack murmured in his ear, making him grin.

"Yeah, I think you proved that the other night," he replied, and Jack laughed.

"Can't help it. All those inches...hard as a rock...don't wanna waste it. I'd rather have it down my throat..." He kissed Ennis's neck, feeling frisky with all this talk. "Or maybe...up my ass," he breathed into Ennis's ear, biting it softly. Ennis gulped and felt himself becoming aroused. Images filled his head at Jack's words; images that he knew very well. Junior could wake up very soon and he didn't want her to catch them like this.

"Jack..." he protested. "We can't...Junior..." Jack paused where he had been placing little kisses on Ennis's jaw and inwardly sighed. All he'd wanted was some love from his man.

"Right," he replied, breaking away. "Yeah, she'll be up soon. What d'you want for breakfast?" he asked as he stood up, heading for the fridge. It was as if a layer of ice had descended upon them; the mood had dropped considerably.

"Jack...don't be pissed at me. You know the deal now; none of that out here while Junior's around. I don't want her seein' us." Jack didn't reply at first but stared into the fridge with unseeing eyes.

"I'm not mad," he eventually replied, pulling out the eggs and bacon. "It's okay." The truth was, he felt as if he'd been slighted. Maybe he shouldn't have gone so far while Junior was close to waking up, but he couldn't help it. They used to be all over each other all the time, no matter where in the apartment they were. It was hard to adjust to this new way of living, and Jack was starting to wonder if he could ever make it.

The morning had been tense, to say the least, so Jack went for a walk by himself to clear his head. He had been annoyed by Ennis's reluctance to go back to the bedroom, even though he knew deep down that Ennis had been right about being careful. He hated feeling like this; he was sure that he wasn't jealous of Junior taking Ennis's attention away from him. He was just struggling to get used to having her around and he didn't know why.

As he walked barefoot along the sand, he thought back to how things used to be. There was a time when he and Ennis just couldn't keep their hands off each other for long; he could remember them having a quickie in the alleyway back in Amherst a number of times, simply because they'd wanted to. They had been good times, and now Jack wasn't sure that they would ever be quite like that again.

He didn't have a problem with being more responsible and mature now that there was a child around; that would have happened even with their own child. But he did miss the times when they could neck on the sofa and not worry about traumatising anybody. Not to mention their first nights in their old apartment and now their current one; how both had been christened thoroughly. He could recall good times on the washing machine and the floor by the fire.

Maybe I'm just too used to it being just us, he thought to himself as he aimlessly wandered back to the street. We spent most of our days together back in college, and it was just the two of us at both apartments. Now we have to adjust to there being a kid around. It's not easy when he turns me away like that.

Jack felt bad for thinking that; their sex life was as good as ever in the bedroom. Ennis was still attentive and loving towards him, even in front of Junior. They just couldn't get too amorous when Junior could walk in on them, so he had to find a way of reining it in somehow. It was difficult when he was so attracted to Ennis; he couldn't always help himself and knew that had to change.

He ended up in front of their lawyer's office, and decided to ask Mark for some advice. Nobody else was waiting there, so he went straight through and knocked on the door. "Come in."

"Hey, Mark," Jack greeted him, poking his head through the door. "Are you busy?" Mark waved him in.

"Not at all, come on in." Jack sat down opposite him and sighed.

"I just...I need to talk to you." Mark nodded and he continued. "About Junior. I know Ennis wants me to sign those papers..."

"But you're not ready," Mark finished for him, seeing the problem. Jack sighed and looked down at his hands.

"Yeah. Something's just...bugging me about this whole situation. A few things are, but I've figured out what they are."

"Okay. Tell me about the ones you recognise, to start off with," Mark instructed him, folding his hands on the desk.

" of them is that I wanted to have kids with Ennis one day, somehow. And then Alma turned up with Junior...and now he's got a kid and I'm...feeling kind of left out, to be honest. Ennis is trying to get me more involved, but..." He shook his head. "I don't know. does hurt that Ennis has to focus more on Junior now, even though I understand it."

"I don't know what to tell you, Jack. Ennis does have to focus on her now, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't love you. I don't mean to pry, and you can stop me if you don't want to answer, but-"

"Our sex life," Jack answered, seeing where this was going. "In the bedroom we're fine. Great, actually. But outside of there...he still kisses me and touches me when Junior's not looking, but that's as far as it goes. There was a time when we could go further, but that doesn't happen anymore."

Mark nodded. "Well...I've provided legal advice to new parents before, and I've seen people with the same concerns as you. All new parents can find it hard to adjust, especially when they're used to it being just the two of them. All it really takes is time and effort, though I realise it's harder for you."

"Yeah. I really want this to work out, Mark. I don't want us to be coming to you and saying that we're...getting divorced." Even just saying the word was a struggle; he couldn't hold the thought in his mind.

"I don't want that, either. I'm sure Ennis doesn't. He's not rushing you to sign those papers; he's letting you get there in your own time. That says a lot for him and how much he loves you, so don't get yourself worked up over it. You still have your rights as Ennis's husband and Junior's step-father, so there really is no need for this to happen right away."

"I know. Things weren't so good this morning; that's why I'm out here on my own. But...I think I can go back now. I'll talk to him, properly, and we'll try to figure out what's bugging me so much. If we can do that...hopefully things will start to get better."

"Right. Good luck, Jack." They shook hands and Jack left, a light breeze from the water hitting his face and washing over him. One thing was clear now; he and Ennis needed to have a good talk about what was going on and their feelings, to hopefully flush out Jack's innermost thoughts and figure out what was wrong. Jack never wanted to lose Ennis and knew that the feeling was mutual, so they had to work at this. It was what a marriage was about, after all, and it was what they had promised to each other on their wedding day.

When Jack got back to the apartment, he could see that Ennis was sat on the sofa alone; he figured that Junior was in her room. He shut the door and made his way over to Ennis, who looked tired but pleased to see him.

"Hey," he said quietly as Jack sat down. "You okay now? I know you needed to be on your own..."

Jack sighed and pulled his legs up underneath him, taking Ennis's hand. "I'm alright, but it wasn't fair of me to just run off like that. Should've stayed and talked."

"Where'd you go?" Ennis asked, hoping that he was okay.

"Walked on the beach a little, down to the spot where we got married. I like going back there. Then I came back to town and ended up at Mark's office. I talked to him for a few minutes, about all of this."

"Yeah? How'd it go?" Ennis was talking quietly, so Jack figured that Junior could be napping or that he didn't want to start a fight.

"Well...I told him what's been troubling me about it. Like this morning, when you had to tell me we couldn't go past kissing because Junior was about to wake up. It wasn't right of me to get pissed about it. I know that things would be like this even with our own kid, and I really don't have a problem with that. It's just..." He took a deep breath. "When we got together, we were roommates. We spent most of our time together, and we were all over each other when in our room. Hell, we even had quickies in the alleyway more than once, remember?"

"Yeah, I do," Ennis replied, squeezing his hands. "I miss that, too. But...things are just different now. You think our sex life's sufferin'?" he asked, unsure of what response he was going to get. But Jack shook his head.

"No, I don't. No complaints about that, bud. It's just hard to adjust to this new way of living. Reining it in when Junior's around, 'cos I know how much I'm attracted to you, Ennis."

Ennis smiled softly and touched Jack's cheek. "You can tell me what's wrong, Jack. There's somethin'...there that you ain't sayin'. What is it?"

"That's just it...I don't know," Jack admitted, biting his lip. "I tried to figure it out, but..."

"Alright." Ennis sat up a little, determined to help Jack. "I'm thinkin' it's somethin' to do with Junior bein' my kid with Alma. Like...Junior reminds you of how I used to be an' that brings back those memories of before we got together. Like when I told you I'd just broken up with a girl an' it made you think I'm straight. Is that it?"

"Well...that does hit me pretty bad but I don't think that's it. I's more to do with the fact that you've had a biological kid with someone; that's something we'll never have together no matter how much we love each other. Unless one of us was to have a sex change..." He shook his head. "Never mind."

Ennis stroked his fingers, wishing that they could figure this out; he didn't like to see Jack suffering. " really don't know what it is? Or is it just about us not being able to have a kid?"

"I really don't know, Ennis. Maybe it's just that..." He couldn't shake off this feeling that it was more, but at least they'd made a start. "Anyway...I'm sorry about this morning. I'll try to keep my hands to myself when Junior could walk in on us, promise."

Ennis smiled and kissed him. "We can still do this, though. We've just gotta remember not to take it too far. An' keep our hands above the belt, too." Jack grinned and kissed him back, relieved that they had cleared the air. "I love you, darlin'."

"I love you too, much. I said to Mark...that I hope we never have to ask him about...a divorce." Jack gulped and looked down, then felt himself being taken in by strong, familiar arms that always made him feel safe.

"It's okay," Ennis soothed, rubbing his back. Jack held onto him, enjoying this feeling of security that only Ennis could offer him. When he was younger, only his mother could make him feel this safe; now Ennis had taken on that role as his husband. Jack didn't care how old he was, or that he was male; everybody needed to be held now and then. Everybody needed this kind of feeling with someone they loved, and he'd found it here. There had been times when Ennis had needed him, and there might be more in their future, and Jack would always be there for him.

"We've gotta make this work, Ennis. We...we need each other. No two ways about it." He closed his eyes; neither of them were aware of Junior watching them with her large, curious eyes.

At only five years old, she didn't completely understand why her father was hugging Jack like this. But she'd seen this with her friends' parents; Alma had always been alone and Junior had felt left out. She'd felt like she didn't fit in and now...things were different. She knew that her father was married to Jack and not her mother, but she still felt like all the other kids who had two parents. Seeing that Jack and her father were happy together, she quietly returned to her room.

Ennis and Jack broke apart and kissed softly, their wounds healing once more. What they had was so worth all the trouble they went to for it, and neither of them could envision a life without each other. They wanted to be together for the rest of their lives, or even longer if they could. They didn't know what would happen tomorrow or next week or even next month, but they knew they would be together through it. As the pair of them embraced once more, both felt like they could withstand anything as long as they loved each other.