Unexpected Marriage Proposal
The next sixteen months were a blur for Matt, dominated by preparing for and then supervising the restoration of the south wing of Brambleton and given rhythm by Archie Atherton’s regular requirement of mild, regimented sex and, in contrast, Emmet’s punishing, “taking” sexual demands at moments of surprise. But whereas the restoration work was Matt’s continuing project--and what kept him steaming along, not thinking much about what else was happening around him--other, momentous events did unfold.
The first of these landmark events was Judge Atherton’s decision to move his state residency to Maryland, a strange notion that he asked Matt to share in. Matt was so involved in tracking down flooring for the new wing that was of the same period as and compatible with the flooring in the main house at Brambleton that he simply agreed to the proposal, giving it only half of his attention. But then the judge said something that woke Matt up.
“We’ll move to Annapolis. I have my eye on a townhouse on a cove not far from the town docks. I don’t want three residences, though, so I’ll sell either the Philadelphia house or Brambleton.”
Matt’s head snapped up. “Sell Brambleton? You can’t do that. We’re restoring it. It will have to be the Philadelphia house.”
“I don’t want to sell Brambleton, of course. But the girls and their families are in Philadelphia, Miriam’s Rick says that Brambleton would--”
“You cannot sell Brambleton.” Matt’s cry was plaintive, almost panicked.
The judge smiled benevolently at him. “I guess I forgot how much Brambleton means to you. Of course we’ll keep it. But I thought that we’d be spending most of our time in Annapolis anyway.”
This started into the second of the major events of this period. “Live in Annapolis? Why do we want to live in Annapolis? And why are you changing your residency and why would this mean I would too?”
“Come into the main house,” Archie said, lowering his voice. “I’ve been meaning to tell you about it, but this isn’t the place . . . with all these workman roaming around, wanting your attention. We have something serious to talk over.”
After they had had their little discussion in the living room of the main house, Matt had almost fainted away and had to be bolstered with a strong slug of whisky.
The judge had started by describing what he had tried and hadn’t been able to do.
“Adopt me?” Matt had said. “You tried to adopt me?”
“Yes, I’ve told you that I wanted to protect your interests, to do what I can for your future because of what you have put aside to be with me. I did look into adopting you, but Rick said it wouldn’t fly--that you already were an adult and that he just couldn’t see it getting through the courts.”
Rick again, Matt thought. Miriam’s husband. The swarthy, hairy fellow who had given him the censorious eye in the hallway of the Philadelphia house on New Year’s Eve night. Of course he wouldn’t want Archie to adopt me. William Henry had adopted Perry as an adult, though, hadn’t he? If Archie adopted me, then I’d have full inheritance rights with Rick’s wife. Can’t Archie see that? That it wouldn’t be in his own lawyer’s personal interest to let this happen. Archie’s a judge, for fuck’s sake. Can’t he see what his son-in-law is up to? But even as Matt thought this, he also was thinking that adoption--getting any closer to Archie--wasn’t anything that had entered his mind. Nor was it anything he desired. He felt enough a parasite on Archie as it was.
That’s when Atherton dropped the bomb.
“You asked why Maryland and why you as well. Are you aware of what happens in June?”
“Yes. We plan to have the south wing entirely under roof by then. And the work can start on the interior.”
“No. Yes, that, of course, but it’s not what I’m talking about,” the judge said, showing a bit of exasperation. “Don’t think of the work on Brambleton for a moment. Think of our life. Our life as a couple.”
“Our life?” Matt said. Our life as a couple? he went on to think.
“Yes. In June my divorce is final.”
“Y-e-s. Congratulations on that.”
“And I’m then free to remarry.”
“I suppose so. But do you really want to?” Remarry, Matt thought, starting to panic. A woman in the picture. What about the hold I have over him? How would this affect the work on Brambleton?
“Yes I very much would like to remarry. And this is why I plan to take up residency in Maryland and why I want you to as well. Maryland recognizes gay marriage.”
“Maryland? Gay marriage?” It was sinking in, Matt just didn’t want to contemplate what it meant.
“Yes. We could get married in Maryland. Legally. Then I could make sure you were taken care of when I’m gone, that your interests in what we have together could be protected.”
The words “interests in what we have together could be protected,” were sinking into Matt’s brain--as was the single word “Brambleton.”
It was at this point that Matt almost collapsed--Archie choosing to think the young man was overcome with happiness--and had to be fortified with liquor.
Matt felt trapped. What was he prepared to do to keep Brambleton? Who was he prepared to hurt?
Awaiting the Maryland Nuptials
Through April Matt said not a word against the plan of changing residencies to Maryland and being joined in a same-sex marriage there, although he got Archie to agree to the routine of being at the Annapolis house on the weekends and at Brambleton during the week so that Matt could continue to supervise the construction. The judge didn’t also go to Virginia with Matt, but, rather, went over to Philadelphia to tend to business and mix with his family. By the first week of May, they were moving into an Annapolis house on Spa Creek that ran down to the water and had its own pier.
The third weekend in May, Archie’s daughter, Miriam, and her husband, Rick, and their daughters visited to inspect the newly acquired house. And this was the next memorable event in Matt’s life.
Rick got Matt alone on the screened back porch of the house while Archie was taking Miriam and her daughters on a tour of the rest of the property. Archie and the women were down at the pier and Rick and Matt were sitting on the porch, sipping beer and watching the others.
“I hope you know that Miriam and her sister aren’t all that pleased with these marriage plans,” Rick leaned over to Matt and said in a low voice as if, as far away as Archie was, Rick was afraid the judge might hear them.
Archie’s daughters or you, Rick? Matt thought. But he didn’t say that. He told the truth. “It wasn’t any of my idea, Rick. It’s what Archie says he wants, and he hasn’t listened to any arguments I’ve voiced against it. Not, I admit, that I’ve argued much against it. I don’t want to make him unhappy. It’s neither here nor there with me, if you want to know. But I see my responsibility here as keeping Archie happy.”
“Oh really, not here nor there with you?” The words were pointed, but Rick still was wearing a friendly smile and was using a bantering tone. He was wearing shorts and a sports shirt that was open, exposing his hairy chest. It looked to Matt like he’d been working out since New Year’s in Philadelphia. He looked like his chest was bulked up and his waist trimmed down. Matt got the impression Rick was dressed down like this just to show off his gym work and tan to Matt. “Brambleton doesn’t make it all worthwhile to you? You aren’t so in love with a house that you are willing to lie under a withered old man when you obviously prefer a strapping black chauffeur?”
He had slipped the dagger into the most sensitive spot.
“I’m working on the restoration of Brambleton for Archie,” Matt said defensively. “It’s what he wants.” He chose to pretend he hadn’t even heard the challenge about Emmet, although he was shocked that Rick knew about that. But Rick was just the kind of schemer who found out about everything. Matt knew he should have realized that would be the case. He now had to worry, he knew, whether Rick would tell Archie about Emmet. But, no, not whether--when. Rick was that sort of man. Matt had no illusions there.
“But would you be less inclined to go through with this farcical marriage if you knew that it wouldn’t get you Brambleton?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Gay marriage may be legal here in Maryland, Matthew, but it’s not legal in Virginia. And unless you can move Brambleton to Maryland, Virginia doesn’t give two figs that Maryland would recognize you were a legally married couple. Virginia doesn’t. It’s just the law, Matthew. I’m not trying to throw a wrench into anything here. I just think you need to be fully aware of what this marriage would mean or not mean--at least in relationship to Brambleton.”
You bloody bastard, Matt thought, trying not to show Rick how this affected him. It might be the law, but Matt didn’t believe for a second that Rick wasn’t happy to use it as a wrench in the works. Of course Matt didn’t know whether it really was the law or not. He was completely out of his depth on such legal issues. Archie should know, though. He was a judge. It occurred to Matt, though, that he’d never bothered to ask Archie what sort of judge he was.
“On the other hand,” Rick continued. “Archie’s daughters and I realize that you have become central in Archie’s life, and we appreciate that and don’t wish to disturb it. But we see no reason why it should include anything like a publicly acknowledged marriage. We’ve agreed that what we need here is to put you on a retainer, with a payoff if and when Archie dies before he gives you up. I can draw up all of the paperwork. You would leave with a lot more than you walked in with. We have to think of the judge’s reputation--and how it would affect his daughters and the grandchildren. That’s why we would be prepared, if you didn’t go through with the marriage plans, to give you--”
“Ah, they are back now,” Matt interjected, trying not to show his anger--or, worse, his fear, “and I think I heard Cook ring the lunch bell just now. Perhaps we should go into the house.”
Matt was standing and already moving to the screen door to open it so that Archie and Miriam and her girls could stream in. As Miriam passed him, she brushed shoulders with him and lowered her eyes and gave him a saucy little smile. This led Matt to wonder just how “in” with Rick’s plan she was--and, more, whether she wouldn’t like to have some plans of her own with her father’s lover. Did she even realize the extent of his relationship with her father. Miriam didn’t seem to be the smarter of the two sisters, although she was the better looking of the two.
Matt had broken into what Rick was saying because he fully understood that he was about to be offered a payoff to just back off--and perhaps to disappear. And he really didn’t want to hear what the amount was because he didn’t want to be swayed by it. He wasn’t sure about marrying Archie either--and he was, he had to admit, far less interested in it now that Rick had told him about Virginia law--but he hadn’t been lying when he said he didn’t want to make Archie unhappy. Archie had given him everything and was asking for so little in return. Matt wasn’t ready to turn on that.
And, besides, taking a payoff and walking away wouldn’t let him keep Brambleton--and the wherewithal to maintain it.
Rick made one more bold attempt to break the marriage plans up that weekend--a crazy move really, unless what he did meant something different than Matt wanted to believe it meant.
After lunch they all went down to the pier for a swim in Spa Creek--or at least the granddaughters and Rick and Matt did. Miriam and her father watched from lawn chairs. The girls spent very little time in the water--it was too cold for them and they squealed about no one having told them that the bed of the creek was lined with seaweed. They jumped out of the water almost as soon as they had jumped in, and both Miriam and Archie went back to the house with them, helping them to towel off as they moved.
That left Matt and Rick in the water. As the others reached the house, Rick pulled Matt’s back into his chest and under the pier and embraced him with his arms. Matt could feel the hardness of the other man’s dick at the small of his back.
Rick murmured, “Has anyone told you how sexy you look in a Speedo? You know that I want to fuck you too, don’t you?--that I envy the judge that.”
Matt was in shock and didn’t struggle away immediately, although it didn’t surprise him a bit that Rick fancied him. Rick seemed to take this as interest and he pushed a hand under Matt’s waistband in front and was touching Matt’s cock. This awakened Matt, though. Matt couldn’t say he wasn’t attracted to Rick sexually. The man was big and built and had a sense of danger and cruelty about him that should have repelled Matt, but didn’t. And Matt hadn’t had anyone but the less-than-satisfying Archie for two weeks. Emmet wasn’t here in Annapolis and he hadn’t run Matt to ground and fucked him in the previous week when Matt and Archie were at Brambleton.
Rick moved his hand down further and clutched Matt’s cock. Matt moaned and writhed in Rick’s strong embrace.
“Rick, no. You’re married. And . . . and . . . I’m going to be soon as well.”
“Don’t be a tease. We both know that you want it all of the time. And we both know that Archie isn’t man enough to satisfy you. Our neighbor at Ravensworth, Hal Fitzhugh, told me what you wanted and that you wanted it constantly. I know what a slut you are. I know you’re giving it to the black chauffeur too. You want me for a friend. We can make a deal. I could tell Archie about the chauffeur if I wanted--if you resisted me. But I can sweeten the pot if you let me fuck you too.”
“Rick, no.” But then Matt was groaning. Rick had pushed the Speedo down onto Matt’s thighs and was fingering his hole open.
Matt was panting heavily. “Oh, god. Oh, shit.”
“Want it now, don’t you?” Rick hissed in his ear. “Pegged you right for a guy who needs lots of it, haven’t I?”
“Just make it quick,” Matt murmured back, his voice full of want and defeat. “Just . . . oh, fuck. Oh fuck yes!” He grunted and groaned as Rick slid up into his channel from behind . . . and began to pump.
Rick was up inside him deep. “Just a little whore, aren’t you? A sexy, irresistible whore, but a whore nonetheless.”
All it took was for Rick to get his cock inside Matt and Matt just calmed right down and laid docilely in Rick’s embrace. Rick laughed at how easy it was to get Matt under control. All he had to do was get a cock in him.
“Don’t talk,” Matt pleaded. “Just . . . just . . .”
“Just keep fucking, right?”
“Yes,” Matt whimpered. He hadn’t had it for two weeks.
“Fuck yourself. I’m just going to stand here in the seaweed and hold you to me. If you want it, fuck yourself on the cock.”
Matt whimpered and moaned, but he took over the action, moving his hips up and down, back and forth--fucking himself on Rick’s plump tool.
Matt said nothing when Rick creamed his channel. He just pushed off and mumbled something about agreeing with the girls that the water was too cold, pulled away from Rick and over to the ladder, pulled his Speedo back up into place while clinging to the ladder, and scrambled up onto the pier.
Nothing was said thereafter about the encounter, and Miriam and Rick and the girls left the next morning to return to Philadelphia. Matt repeatedly told himself that it had just been another one of Rick’s ploys to separate Archie and Matt, but something in the back of his brain told him that was a lie. The same something pointed out to him that Rick was pretty hunky now and that, whether or not Matt wanted to admit it, he had done just what Rick had wanted him to do; he had begged for the fuck. And he hadn’t even tried to negotiate with Rick for privilege--or for protection from Rick informing Archie about Emmet. If nothing else, Matt recognized that as long as Rick could hold this over his head, Rick was holding the winning hand.