Chapter 9

July 17th, 2009

Ennis and Jack were busy making preparations for their anniversary trip, and both of them were looking forward to it. Things had been so uneasy at the moment and they needed a break. Ennis hoped that if they could just get away for a while, they could recharge their batteries and everything could be okay.

Jack's family had arrived that morning, and his mother had called to say that they were at the hotel and were planning to spend the day shopping and lounging on the beach. They were planning to visit his family at the hotel later with Junior, and a big family dinner had been arranged for Monday night. Ennis was looking forward to seeing his in-laws again, and he wanted them to meet Junior.

They were due to meet up for lunch any minute now, and Jack was waiting at their favourite café for Ennis. He'd done a lot of thinking over the past few days about his issues. While he still wasn't sure what was bugging him so much about their situation, he knew that he had to try and handle it differently. It wasn't fair on Ennis that he kept running away every time something happened, and he wondered how else he could vent his frustrations.

At the end of the day, he loved Ennis and wanted this to work. He wanted them to be a family with Junior, and he knew that something had to change. He had started doing some research on anger management techniques to try and find a way of dealing with it.

He looked up in time to see Ennis heading for him, a smile on his face. They were still very much in love and were fully committed to each other; everything could be perfect if Jack would just learn to change his behaviour.

"Hey," he said when Ennis reached him, and they kissed before Ennis sat down opposite him.

"Hey yourself, darlin'," Ennis replied. "You doin' okay?"

"Yeah, I guess. Listen...before we start talking about stuff, there's something I've gotta say." He covered Ennis's hand with his own. "I know things haven't been easy for us lately. And...I think I've been selfish about this. I've just been focusing on me and how hard it's been to adjust to having your kid around. But...I've never really stopped to think about how it is for you."

Ennis sighed, turning his hand to squeeze Jack's fingers. "'s okay..."

"No, it's not. When you broke up with Alma back at Amherst, you thought that was the end of it. You never expected to see her again, and then she turned up with your daughter. Must've been a shock for you, too. And I'm sorry that I didn't stop to think about that."

He looked into Ennis's eyes, knowing that he had to get through what he wanted to say. "Ennis, I...I love you so much. And I really want this to work out for us.'s still gonna be a while before I can sign those papers. But...I know I can't keep running away every time something happens that pisses me off. That's what I've been doing, and I hate it. We don't even really fight; I take it all out on you and then storm off. I just...keep snapping at you and make you just take it. I don't like doing that to someone I love.'s abusive, Ennis, and I hate that."

Ennis shook his head; he had been hurt by Jack's nasty words in the past, but he'd never felt like he was being abused in any way. He could understand why Jack had been like that. "Jack...don't think like that. I've never felt like you were doin' that."

"Maybe not, but it's how I feel. And I won't happen anymore. When something happens about all of this, I get angry and handle it all wrong. I've been researching anger management, and I'm trying to find a way of dealing with it differently. Things are gonna change, Ennis. They have to if we're gonna make it. I have to make this change for all of us, so that's what I'm gonna do." He nodded and kissed Ennis's hand, smiling a little. "That alright?"

Ennis looked at him fondly; if Jack felt like he needed to do this then he would be supportive. Jack was right; they did need to figure out how to handle things if this was going to work. He wanted Jack to feel like he was part of the family, so he was willing to go through whatever it took.

"Jack...if that's what you wanna do, then...there ain't much I can say to that. I...thank you. And I'm gonna do whatever I can to help, okay? There's no pressure on you to sign those papers. It'd be great if you could sign them, but I want you to only do it when you're ready." He smiled and squeezed Jack's fingers. " want somethin' to eat now?" Jack nodded and they ordered some food when the waitress came over.

As they ate, the talk turned to their coming trip. They'd done some more research on the area where the cabin lay, and despite Jack's earlier joke he was looking forward to some fishing. Looking at the interior pictures on the website, he'd seen one of the bed and could envision himself and Ennis in there, making love and forgetting everything else in their lives.

Neither of them could quite believe that they'd been married for almost a year. Their wedding day had been so romantic and everything they'd wanted, and their wedding night would always be held dear to him. While he loved doing it hard and fast when the mood struck them, he would always prefer it slow and gentle; it just felt more like making love with his husband. Ennis meant the world to him and Jack was willing to adhere to his wedding vows; to do everything he could to make Ennis happy.

When they finished work, they had dinner back at home and then took Junior to the hotel to see Jack's family. Both of them loved catching up a little and introducing Junior to the others, and they made a few plans for the weekend before their family dinner on Monday night.

Ennis could remember the first time he'd visited the Twist family home in West Virginia; it was a beautiful house that he loved staying in and everybody there had just accepted his relationship with Jack. But there were other reasons why he had loved spending Christmas there.

They got back home and got Junior into bed, and then Jack retrieved a few beers for them before they sat down. Jack sighed and relaxed against Ennis, feeling relaxed and happy now that he'd decided to try and work through things. He knew that he had to change the way he dealt with issues, and he felt a lot calmer.

"It was good to see 'em again," Ennis said quietly, lacing their fingers together on his knee. Jack nodded.

"Yeah. I missed them. And they seemed to like Junior. I reckon my mom feels old, though. She's been looking forward to being a grandma, but she never thought it'd happen yet." They were quiet for a moment, and then Ennis spoke again.

"You know...I was thinkin' about our first Christmas there, back when we was in college. I loved bein' there, Jack. The way they all were to us...just acceptin' that we loved each other." He paused for a moment. "An' not just that. When Alma told my folks about us, an' my dad disowned were right there. You gave me somewhere to go for the holidays, an' we could spend it together. gave me a family, Jack."

They locked eyes, love filling their hearts. "Ennis...I just wanted to make you happy. It hurt me that you were disowned because of us, so...I just did what I could."

"Yeah, an' now I'm tryin' to give you a family, Jack. With Junior..." He trailed off and kissed Jack's temple. "Anyway...I remember us swappin' rings for Christmas." They simultaneously looked down at their wedding rings, thinking of the inscriptions that had been carved into them. "We already knew that they were gonna make it legal for guys like us to get married, an'...when we swapped rings, that was when I knew I wanted to marry you." He looked down into Jack's deep, soul-searching eyes and nodded. "Knew then that I'd do anythin' for you."

"Ennis..." Jack sighed, curling up against him. "You keep saying that you don't know how to tell me what you feel. That you don't have the words to describe your feelings.'re wrong on that one. You do say the right thing, every single time. And...I love you for it. You're good to me, Ennis, even with everything that's happened." He fell silent, just enjoying the warmth emanating from the other man and knowing that he was loved.

They sat there for a while longer before deciding to retreat to bed. They made love slowly over the next hour and Jack then lay on Ennis's chest, purring with contentment. "Mmm..."

Ennis stroked Jack's back and enjoyed the warm weight on him. "I love you, darlin'."

"Love you too, baby." Jack soon fell asleep, but Ennis stayed awake a little longer; he kept thinking about their lunch meeting. Jack had acknowledged his unfair behaviour and was working to change it; that was a lot more than Ennis could have hoped for. He could understand why Jack had been acting that way, but he had to admit that it had been getting to him.

He thought back on the last five and a half years of their relationship, including the bad parts. He had certainly not been immune to moments of uncertainty, and had run away from fights himself in the past. He'd hurt Jack badly when he'd freaked out during the last few days of the summer semester five years ago and fled. While Jack had forgiven him for that, it had taken Ennis a long time to forgive himself. He'd hated knowing that he'd hurt Jack.

When Jack had first talked about taking the Masters course, he'd acted irrationally too. Now that he thought about it, he'd acted quite childishly and as if Jack didn't care about him, which he knew wasn't true. He'd eventually accepted that it was a good thing for Jack to continue his studies, and he'd gone and done his own Masters course, too. He could understand Jack's behaviour because he'd once done the same thing.

At some point in the night, Jack moved off him and rolled onto his own side of the bed, stretching out in his sleep. Now that he could move, Ennis slowly slipped out of bed and went to the window, watching the water of the bay glistening in the moonlight. He loved living out here on the coast; it was so different from Wyoming where everything was so flat and harsh. He'd never really enjoyed living on that ranch and had always yearned for more; that was why he'd wanted a degree, thinking that it could help him leave and go to different places in the world. He'd never left America, not even with Jack, and a part of him wanted to see what else there was. Maybe he and Jack could travel the world at some point, perhaps when Junior was in college and living away from home.

He smiled to himself at the thought of his little girl doing so well, following in his footsteps and making something of herself. Nothing would make him prouder, and he knew that Jack would be by his side for all of it. They belonged together and he knew that more than anything else. Glancing behind him, he saw his sleeping angel lying there and felt his heart fill up with love. They would make this work; he was sure of it.

July 20th, 2009

On Monday evening, Ennis and Jack had arranged for a family dinner with their visitors at the seafood restaurant on the front. While both of them were looking forward to it, Jack was a little concerned about how he would feel to see his mother and father gush over Junior. It was still a lot of effort for him and he hoped that it wouldn't piss him off. Technically, Junior was their granddaughter through his marriage to Ennis and that was true even without adoption papers.

He'd been trying to keep to his vow of changing his behaviour, and it seemed to be working. When they had been lying in bed early on Sunday morning, hands wandering underneath the sheets, Junior had knocked on their door to wake them up as kids did. While Jack had initially been annoyed at this, he'd simply taken some deep breaths until he was calm. It helped that Ennis had tended to Junior right away to give him some space to cool off, and Jack appreciated it. He knew he couldn't do this by himself; it required some quick thinking from Ennis, too.

"You alright?" Ennis asked him as they got ready in their bedroom, casting longing looks at Jack's body as he got dressed. Jack nodded.

"Yeah, fine. Just thinking about yesterday morning and how quickly you dealt with it. Sure helped me to calm down and not get pissed off." He smiled at Ennis, who smiled back.

"Good. I wanna help you with this, Jack. I don't like fightin' with you."

"Me neither..." Jack stepped closer to him and wrapped his arms around Ennis's neck. "I prefer doing other things with you, and not just sex. Like...when you just hold me in bed, maybe rubbing my back or stomach...makes me, I guess. Like nothing could ever hurt me as long as you're there."

Ennis gulped at the sweet words coming from Jack's lips and decided to return the favour as best he could. "Well...a little while back, I had a thought about you. Somethin' I ain't never told you."

"What?" Jack asked, eyes full of love for him. Ennis took a deep breath.

" was sleepin', an' I was watchin' you. I...I thought you, an angel," he murmured, immediately going red when the words escaped him. Now that he'd said it, he was convinced that Jack was going to burst out laughing.

"Ennis..." came the soft sigh, and Ennis saw that Jack was far from amused. He looked touched by the words. "That's just...the sweetest thing I've ever heard you say." He leaned in and kissed him deeply, heart soaring at what he'd just heard. Maybe Ennis thought he was no good with words, but Jack knew otherwise. "I love you."

"Love you too, darlin'," he managed, pulling Jack close and embracing him. He wondered if his words were the confidence boost that Jack had needed right now. Either way, he was glad that he'd managed it.

When the three of them were ready, they headed over to the restaurant and found that Jack's family were waiting for them. Greetings were exchanged and a bottle of champagne was ordered for the adults.

"So, your first wedding anniversary's coming up," Karen said, smiling at her two boys. "You said you were renting a cabin somewhere, right?"

"Yep, up in Vermont," Jack answered, glancing at Ennis and remembering the words that Ennis had told him back at home. He'd felt as if he could burst with the love inside him when he'd heard that, and he knew that no matter how hard it could sometimes be with Junior around, it was worth it for moments like that. "Going for the week."

"Sounds romantic," she replied, nodding. "What are you doing with Junior?"

"We've got a couple of female friends who can look after her," Ennis replied. "Jessica works with Jack, an' Amy's her partner."

"This sure is a great place for gay people to live," Jack's sister Becky observed. "I bet it's really safe here."

"It is, and even though there's straight people who live here too, you never feel any kind of divide. Everybody's friendly and willing to help others. I mean, our lawyer Mark for example. He helped us with the legal stuff when we were getting married, and Ennis helped him out with his dog at the animal clinic. We're all good friends."

"You've really landed on your feet, Jack," Richard told him, feeling proud of his son. "We know it wasn't easy for you to come out, and we didn't exactly help."

"Our main concern was about HIV," Karen admitted. "But once you showed us the facts..."

"We're okay, mom. We were both clean when we met, and we've been faithful to each other ever since. We don't do drugs or anything, so I think we'll be fine." Both of them knew that there were subsequently only two ways in which they could contract the virus; either if one of them cheated or was attacked. They hoped that neither one of those happened, ever.

"Good. And Ennis...I know it can't have been easy for you, to decide to be with Jack considering your background and what you were probably always told. But I'm glad that you did, not just for Jack but for us too. We've got a wonderful son-in-law, and now a granddaughter too." She smiled at Junior, who had already taken a shine to her. Ennis glanced at Jack and covered his hand, squeezing slightly. Jack nodded back at him, silently telling him that he was okay.

"Jack..." his mother started, after exchanging a glance with his father. "We were hoping...would it be okay if Junior stayed with us tonight, at the hotel? We'd love to spend some more time with her, since we're leaving tomorrow."

Ennis and Jack looked at each other and then nodded. "Sure, but we'd have to put an overnight bag together for her first. We could do that and then bring her over." With this agreed, the two men were already looking forward to a night alone.

It didn't take long for Ennis and Jack to get Junior sorted out with her overnight stay; it had already been arranged with the manager of the hotel and everything was good to go.

While Ennis took Junior over, Jack started preparing the bedroom for their night together. He wanted to make it a little special for them given that they didn't have this often, and he knew that Ennis would like it.

He decorated the bedroom with the remainder of the sandalwood candles and made sure that they had some massage oil left, thinking about Ennis's earlier words; that he looked like an angel while sleeping. Those words warmed his heart and put a smile on his face like nothing else ever could.

Ennis returned to the apartment and locked up, immediately detecting a familiar scent; Jack had the candles out. He smiled and walked through to their bedroom, in time to see Jack lying there shirtless. "Hey..."

Jack smiled at him and patted the bed. "Hey yourself. Since we've got a night alone, I figure we should make the most of it."

"Sure." Ennis got onto the bed and crawled up to him, biting his lip in anticipation. He wondered what Jack had in store for them tonight. "What are you plannin'?"

"Well..." Jack reached to his nightstand and showed Ennis the massage oil. "I thought we could...give each other a massage...and then see where that takes us." He grinned at the look in Ennis's eyes. "You wanna?"

"You bet..." Ennis took the oil from Jack and nudged at him to turn over. "Wanna do you first." Jack obliged him and rolled onto his stomach, feeling relaxed already. Ennis straddled him and observed the smooth, hard muscles of Jack's back, trailing a hand down the spine and making Jack shiver. He squirted some of the oil onto his hands and warmed them up before starting to rub, coaxing a sigh from Jack.

"That feels good," he murmured, eyes closed and head to the side. Ennis could see the look on his face and smiled, pleased that he could make Jack feel like this. It made him feel like he was worth something, and he was very grateful to Jack for that.

When he was done, he realised that he didn't want a backrub, after all. Seeing Jack like this made him realise that he wanted something else; to be inside Jack. "Bud?" he whispered softly in Jack's ear, stroking his hair.

"Mmm? You want one?" Jack asked, lifting his head.

"No...I be inside you. If that's alright..." He saw Jack smile at him.

"Sure, fine with me. Just a sec..." He undid his jeans and Ennis pulled them down for him, eyes lingering when his lower body was exposed. When they were both naked, Ennis turned him back over and looked down into his eyes.

"I wanna see you," he whispered, touching Jack's face. "Wanna kiss you when we do it." Jack nodded and lifted his legs, wrapping them around Ennis's waist and inviting him in.

"Come on," he murmured, looking up at Ennis with trusting eyes. Ennis grabbed the lube and smoothed it over himself, yearning to be inside Jack. He felt that when they were together like this, everything just made sense. They were supposed to do this; as if they had been meant to end up together.

He started to push in, watching as Jack's eyes widened slightly and his mouth opened. Ennis just didn't know how to describe how this moment felt, whether it was him or Jack being in control. There was a feeling he got when inside Jack and about to make love to him, and he wondered if Jack felt it too. The only way he could think of to describe it was pure love, simple and true. He simply loved it when they were like this.

Once fully inside, he leaned down and pulled Jack up into his arms, wrapping him up close as he started to slowly thrust. Jack sighed and closed his eyes, just allowing Ennis to take him.

That's not true, he thought to himself as Ennis nuzzled his neck. He's not taking me...I'm giving myself over to him. Because we love each other, and because I trust him. "Ennis," he sighed as he felt his lover moving inside him, exploring and searching for that spot. "Baby...I love you so much..."

"I...I love you too," Ennis breathed into his ear, holding onto him and knowing that he was doing everything right to make Jack feel good. Jack's back was a little slippery from the oil but they managed to hold onto each other as they moved together, the silence only broken by soft gasps and whispered words.

They climaxed together, kissing each other hard on the mouth as they rode it out together, Ennis thrusting uncontrollably and Jack bucking underneath him. Jack hoped that he wasn't going to leave scratch marks on Ennis's back from grabbing at him, but he knew that Ennis wouldn't care anyway.

Jack collapsed back down to the bed, head spinning and seeing stars. He was dimly aware of Ennis pulling out of him and then rolling off, one arm draped over his stomach. " alright?" he breathed, and Jack turned to face him with a dozy smile.

"Fine...did I hurt your back just now?" Ennis shook his head.

"No, I'm okay." He leaned forward and kissed Jack softly on the lips, worn out from their lovemaking. It was a good feeling, though; it reminded him of how much he loved Jack and how good it felt to be with him like this. "Lookin' forward to our trip, bud."

"Yeah, me too." Jack shuffled closer and both pairs of eyes fell shut. They drifted off soon enough, dreaming of their forthcoming trip and what it might be like. Maybe if they liked it enough, they would one day buy a cabin of their own for them to escape to. Dreaming about the future made them happy when they woke up, because they knew that their future was with each other.

A couple of hours later, Jack stirred and opened his eyes, blinking in the darkness. He'd been dreaming of Ennis and now he was aroused. He looked around and saw the smooth skin of Ennis's back, shining in the moonlight. He smiled to himself and shuffled closer to Ennis, planting a soft kiss there. Jack knew that if he woke Ennis up, his lover would be more than happy to partake in a little fun. He knew Ennis very well by now and was sure of what he was doing.

"Ennis?" he whispered in Ennis's ear, trailing a hand down his stomach, knowing that it wouldn't take long; sometimes it only took a few light touches for him to get Ennis aroused. "Baby...wake up..." He kissed Ennis's ear and heard a soft sigh, sensing that Ennis was waking up and responding to his touch.

"You frisky back there, Jack?" came a murmur, and Jack grinned, nuzzling the back of his neck. He'd once worried that this came across as manipulative and that he was forcing Ennis into sex by way of seduction, but Ennis had assured him that this wasn't the case; he'd told Jack that he liked making love with him in the middle of the night and that he liked being woken up in this way.

"Been dreaming of you...fucking me. You wanna?" he asked in a seductive voice. Ennis smiled and opened his eyes; he'd been dreaming of Jack, too.

He rolled over and planted his lips on Jack's, his own hands starting to roam. "Mmm..." He kissed Jack deeply, lowering his hand down his lover's body and to the swelling between his legs. "C'mere..." He started stroking up and down, drawing a moan out of Jack.

"Ennis," Jack sighed, tilting his head to one side as Ennis kissed his neck. "Oh God..." Ennis rolled on top of him and started moving his hips from side to side, knowing that it drove Jack wild.

Just as Ennis was reaching for the lube and Jack was yearning for him, they heard a familiar ringing sound; Jack's cell phone. "Shit," Jack muttered as Ennis stopped moving. He leaned over to the nightstand and picked it up. "Hello?"

"Jack," came his mother's voice. "I'm sorry to wake you,'s Junior."

"What's wrong with her?" he asked in concern, and Ennis could hear the worry in his voice.

"She's okay, but she had a nightmare and she's asking for her dad. Is Ennis awake?"

"Yeah, he's right here." Jack handed the phone to Ennis. "Junior had a nightmare and she's asking for you." Ennis nodded and took the phone from him, seeing that Jack was irritated at the interruption.

"Sorry about this, bud." He kissed Jack's cheek and got up. "Karen? Put her on...hey Junior..." Ennis left the room and Jack sighed, trying not to become too annoyed. He knew that this kind of thing could have happened even if they had a child together, and he was doing his best to keep his temper in check. Junior hadn't done this on purpose and it was Ennis's job to look after her. He really was trying to make an effort with her.

Ennis managed to calm Junior down and then returned to their bedroom to see Jack facing away from him. Hoping that Jack wasn't annoyed with him, he put the phone back on the nightstand and slid back into bed behind him, wrapping an arm around Jack's waist. "Bud?"

"I'm trying not to get pissed off," Jack told him softly. "I really am. I know this could've happened if we had a kid of our own, so...I'm trying to get used to it. This is just how it is for us now, and...I'm learning to live with it, Ennis."

Ennis nodded and rubbed his stomach. "Can we pick up where we left off?" he asked hopefully. Jack bit his lip and then turned over, smiling softly. He couldn't really stay mad for too long when he had this man in his bed.

"Sure..." They kissed again and this time managed to get somewhere, with Ennis moving slowly inside Jack and whispering sweet words to him. Jack needed to hear these words right now and Ennis knew it. He was glad that Jack had handled it so well and was starting to believe that everything would be okay.

Later on, Jack was sleeping on Ennis's chest and Ennis held him close, thinking about the events of the night and what they meant. He was happy that he'd managed to look after Junior even from a distance and still help Jack to keep his temper in check.

He thought back to Jack's declaration that he was going to try and change the way he dealt with things, and that he would try to remain calm even when angry. Ennis was very grateful to Jack for this, and he knew that half of their troubles would be over if this could be achieved. At least Jack had acknowledged how irritating his behaviour had become and that change was needed; Ennis was happiest about that because he didn't want to be the one to read Jack the riot act. He had never liked arguing with Jack, but he knew that it was part of the deal in a marriage. Couples fought all the time but it didn't have to mean a separation, and he and Jack were learning that.

They'd learnt a lot from being together, especially since getting married. Life had taught them so much about themselves, and they had taught each other so much, too. Ennis was certain that Jack was aware of what he needed to do and how he simply had to make an effort with Junior.

He sighed to himself and closed his eyes, knowing that tomorrow would bring a new day and a fresh start for all of them. That was the best part of waking up for him; knowing that everything could start over in the daylight where it all made sense.