We pulled up to the looming Victorian that summer afternoon, it's beautiful exterior and large oak trees beckoning to me like a beacon in the night. I stepped out of Riley's Jaguar and stood before it, taking in it's majesticness.
'Well, is it everything I told you it would be'? Riley Forbes was my realtor, and my best friend. We'd known each other for many years, and once shared a passionate lovelife, almost becoming lovers, but I always stopped before making a committment. He stood 6'4 with a balding head, a full mane of silver in his neatly trimmed beard, sparkling blue eyes, and fur covering every inch of his burly frame. I still cared for him very much, but the plans I'd made did not include him.
'And more. Thank you, Riley.' We walked up to the ornate glass doors and Riley put the ancient key in the lock. We entered the foyer, and I stopped and stared.
A beautiful mahogany spiral staicase loomed above me, with a crystal chandelier adorning the massive carved ceiling. The polished wood floors smelled of lemon oil, and the gleaming Victorian furniture had been meticulously cared for.
'I think she will love it. I can't wait for Becca to see this'. I noticed out of the corner of my eye a look of disapproval crossing his face, and I quickly changed the subject.
'Why don't you show me the rest of the house'? We explored the sitting room with it's marbled topped tables, a fireplace with an ivory mantle, a humongous kitchen with an ecletic mix of old and new appliances, a lovely sun porch furnished with well worn wicker furniture that peered out upon a large back yard with a gazebo in the midst of it.
We headed upstairs to the bedrooms, and each one was decorated in it's own particular style. One room was adorned in chintz, another in a lovely brocade, and the master bedroom was the most elegant, with a four poster bed, covered with a chenille bedspread, lace curtains, and a beautiful marble topped vanity, accessorized with pearl handled combs, brushes and an oval mirror carved in a beautiful scuplted shape. I smiled broadly and went to the window and looked out at the backyard, seeing ourselves eating out on the patio, Sunday morning coffee in the gazebo.
Riley slipped his arms around my waist, and pressed himself against my body, sliding his hands up and down my chest, his lips kissing the back of my neck. I quickly pulled away and headed to the door, leaning against the wall. He appeared with a mixture of anger and sadness crossing his face.
'Paulie, are you positive this is what you have to do? I don't think you'll be happy, at all, sweetie. You know I love you, and I want to be with you. All you have to do is say the word and I'll be yours forever.' His voice was tinged with melancholy and I looked up into his handsome visage and reached out, gently stroking his furry cheek.
'I promised my mother before she died I'd marry and have children. And as much as I care for you, Riley, I do love Becca. She's everything I've ever wanted. I never knew I could be in love like this.'
I'd struggled with being gay for years, coming out to myself when I was thirteen, keeping it under wraps through my teenage years, and even through college. I'd dated women, and even had sex with them, not finding it fulfilling, but wanting to honor my mother, whom I loved dearly, and wanted to make happy.
She raised me by herself after the death of my father in a car accident when I was a child. She did everything she could to make a home for the two of us, taking me to church, teaching me to cook, sew, become independent. But she always wanted grandchildren, and since I'd been the only one she was able to have, I made a solemn promise that I'd marry and fulfill her wish, no matter what it took.
I'd met Riley twenty years ago after I'd graduated college, working as a clerk in a real estate office. He'd transferred from the midwest and we became good friends, hanging out almost every night. Even Mom loved his sense of humor and kind nature. It was during that time that we began to feel something for each other, and as much as I tried to deny it, I couldn't help myself, and we ended up becoming lovers.
I never told my mother, always keeping it secret, and whenever Riley would ask me when I was going to tell her the truth, I'd make up some excuse and change the subject. I always figured he'd give up and move on, but he stuck by me, even after I broke up with him, explaining to him that I needed to be free and explore my life.
Becca was a new employee at the health care group I worked for, and we became friends, sharing a love of music, good food and conversation. Her loveliness reminded me of a Botticelli painting, the delicacy of her features timeless. I found myself drawn to her, and one night we ended up making love, and soon found ourselves planning our wedding.
Mother adored Becca on sight, and she became like a daughter to her, and during my mother's illness, Becca was at her side, taking care of her, even after the Alzheimers' disease robbed Mom of most of her memory. Riley became friendly with Becca, and tried very much to like her, but there was always an unspoken dislike that I knew simmered below the surface. Riley seemed to respect my wishes, and kept a low profile.
'Let's go take a look at the attic'. We headed upstairs to a long hallway, and at the end, a door cracked and peeling. He turned the handle and the door creaked open, revealing cobwebs and a stale, musty smell emanating from the place. We headed up into the space, which was covered with years of memories, old dresses on mannequins, trunks with large metal clasps, duffel bags, years of faded papers, yellowing and brittle.
The window was small, and stained glass, letting in a kaleidoscope of light into the dusty room. The beam settled on a beautiful roll top desk situated in the middle of the room. I walked over and pulled back it's top. Before me was a journal covered in green leather, with the letters 'JBS' embossed on the front in gold. I picked it up and opened it. The handwriting was fluid, and although slightly faded, I could read the lines of what was written. The first page was dated August 1, 1899.
'We should be going, Paul. We need to get back to the office. I have another showing in about a half hour.' I grabbed the book and we headed back downstairs.
I met Becca for dinner at a local bistro, to discuss our wedding plans. She'd picked out not only the church, but her wedding dress, bridesmaids, everything on her own, wanting to take care of everything because she'd wanted to do this since she was a little girl.
'Ever since I can imagine, I'd wanted the perfect wedding. You've given me everything I could ever imagine, Paul. And I do adore you so.' She took my hand, her diamond engagement ring sparkling in the light from the candle.
'As I do you, Becca. You must tell me of your plans.'
'Oh, I can't now, sweetie. I'm meeting the girls for a fitting at Bernice's. I just wanted to stop and have dinner with you. I'll call you later tonight.' She kissed me softly on the lips and trounced away. She was still living with her parents until the wedding day, determined to make everything special.
I returned to my condo, settling in for the night. I began to watch an old movie on TV, but remembered the journal. I pulled it out of my briefcase, and opened it once again. The yellowing parchment smelled musty and felt rough in my fingers as I read....
August 1, 1899
We have finally set a date for our wedding. Elizabeth and I shall be betrothed in the spring of the new year..at last. Oh the joy I feel of marrying this beautiful creature. She is exquisite in every way. Her beauty is beyond compare, from her flaxen hair to her porcelain skin. Her waist is tiny, and she is so very proud of her petite frame. How she wears the many fine dresses from Paris I've bought her, and the hats from the millinery. Women do stop and stare at her as we stroll down the street. My friends have told me they are quite jealous of me for collecting such a prize, but I tell them I am the fortunate one, for she is my treasure. We shall have a full life together, and we are planning on having a full family. She wishes for many children, a mixture of boys and girls, mostly boys to carry on my name. My heart leaps at the thought of becoming a part of her life. And how my mother and father have embraced me back into their lives with the announcement we are to wed.
When I left for college, they were disappointed I did not take a part in the family business, joining as an apprentice undertaker. I did not wish to disappoint anyone, but inside I abhorred the smell of death that seemed to permeate our lives. I realize that this is the family trade, and I should be proud of it, but I wish to revel in life, instead of death. Is that so wrong?
For now, journal, I must turn in. Elizabeth and I are planning a trip to a small island in New England to visit her relatives. They wish to give her a dowry to help with our expenses. I will write again very soon.
August 9, 1899
As I walk along this windswept beach, the smell of the salt air encompassing my every breath, my mind is flooded with many thoughts as I watch the tide lap at the seashore. I have told Elizabeth I would like some time for myself as she and her sisters were planning on going into town to the millinery.
Journal, I do not know what to do with myself at this moment. It seems a rug has been pulled out from under me, and I am falling into an abyss. This should not be happening to me, because I will it not to, but I cannot help myself. I've tried in vain to deny these feelings, but once I saw him today, I could not push them aside any longer.
Nathaniel came into the study today, all of eighteen. He stood tall, muscled, his beautiful faced adorned by the shadow of a beard, his thick mane of red hair sweeping across his forehead. The emeralds of his eyes sparkled like pure gems in the afternoon sunlight, and when he smiled at me, I felt the urge to sweep him into my arms, and kiss his tender lips. I wanted to take him to my bedroom, and remove his clothing, lay him on the bed, and explore his fine young flesh. Oh, how I long to touch his beautiful body, my lips burning for the feel of his, the sweetness of our kisses.
Why, oh , why is this happening to me? What evil spirit possesses my soul as to have these thoughts? I must fight against them, because it is Elizabeth I love. She is the one that God has set aside for me. I know in my heart she is the one, and I must not think the foolish thoughts. Journal, you are the only one I may speak to, dare utter the wickedness I feel. Please help me.
I closed the book and remained silent for a moment. Was I mean to find this? Was it destiny that was telling me to come across this journal of forbidden love? I put it on my bedside table and turned off the light. I would read more when I could.
Becca called me the next day, postponing our plans due to her 'monthly gift'. I told her I understood and that I would call her later. I made myself a pot of coffee and curled up on the couch, quickly returning to the pages of the past...
August 30, 1899
It is night, and I lay here next to Elizabeth, unable to sleep. The events of the past few weeks have preyed on my mind so, and I must put them to page in order to fully understand what is happening to me.
Elizabeth's family decided to take a trip to New York on business, and asked Elizabeth to come along. She agreed, wanting to see if the city had a trousseau that she would like more than the ones she had chosen in town. I decided to stay behind and allow her some time for herself. Nathaniel also decided to remain with me as well. His father Forbes thought it best that we should become better acquainted, since he believed that my years of wisdom would help him to find something in life to aspire to.
'Jacob, my son, Nathaniel needs focus. He has not attended college yet, and has been out of school for almost a year. He wishes not to go into business with me, and I am angry at his decision. It is a fine man's work that I do, being the owner of the finest men's store in town. I am proud of being a tailor, and why he does not wish to follow in my footsteps I do not know. So if you could speak to him and perhaps find out what he would like to do with his life, maybe it can give me some perspective on how to handle him.'
They departed on a Friday morning, taking the early train. We took the steam car to the depot, where Nathaniel and I watched them off on their journey. We returned home, where we ate breakfast, and decided to take a walk behind the house, into the woods, where it would give me a chance to talk with young Nathaniel.
I remember he wore a white shirt, and suspenders with long pants, and boots. His frame held to the material so well. As we walked, I could not help but notice his profile. So beautiful, exquisite. I longed to reach out and caress his hair, to take him in my arms.
We ended up at a clearing next to a bubbling brook. We sat on the ground and began to talk about his future, what he wanted out of life. He told me he wasn't sure, that he was very confused in his own mind of exactly what his plans were.
As we sat in the quiet of the afternoon, I felt his hand gently touch mine, and I looked over and he was staring out into the blue sky. I pulled away my hand and tried not to react.
'Jacob, do you not like me?' His question stunned me and I looked over at him, his eyes full of tears.
'I do like you, Nathaniel. Very much. You are a fine young man.' He reached out again, and took my hand in his and pressed it to his chest. My body trembled in fear as I felt the warmth of his body against the palm of my hand. He leaned over and gently pressed his lips to mine, lingering in his kiss. I started to pull away, but could not. I moved in and stroked his hair with my free hand. He pulled away and stared at me for a moment.
'Nathaniel, why did you do that?'
'You do not love my sister. I know you don't. I have been feeling something different about you for a long time now, and I know you are like me. You have been denying it for years, but you cannot any longer.'
As he spoke those words, it was if a giant weight had been lifted off of my chest. I leaned over and kissed him, pulling his body to mine. I felt myself aching for him, every inch of his young frame. I laid him down upon the cool grass and began to undress him. He ran his fingers through my hair and stroked my cheek.
I laid his clothes aside and explored his naked frame. It was so beautiful, smooth and fresh, smelling of soap and musk. I kissed his tender flesh, running my hands along his body. He began to moan as I went deeper down his body.
His member was taut, erect, the head round and mushroom shaped. His testicles were thick, and swollen, and as I cupped them in my hand, I took his penis into my mouth. He gasped as I began to fellate him, taking in every inch of his manhood as the warm summer sun beat down upon us.
My clothes were removed and we entered a state of bliss, reveling in the passion of two men, our forbidden fruit eaten. We dipped into the small creek and washed each other in the cold waters.
He pressed himself against my back, as I lay upon the edge of the water. I could feel him enter me, and soon, he was taking his way with me. I cried out for him, wanting him to possess me in ways I had fought for so long, and he brought me to the heights of my passion that only existed in my mind when I thought of Elizabeth.
We walked home and did not speak of that afternoon, until he entered my bedroom that night, clad in his nightshirt, which he quickly removed as he climbed into my bed chamber. He removed mine and covered his body over mine and entered me once again.
He took me for what seemed like hours, and I did not want him to stop..ever. He was mine, and I did not want to let him go. My destiny had been fulfilled.
I knew that I could not marry Elizabeth now, and yet, I could not tell her of what had occurred between her brother and I. It would not be understood, and shame would come upon both families. Journal, I must be forthcoming with my decision, and I must decide on how to handle this with such delicacy. I need much strength.
October 31, 1899
Nathaniel has left for college in the midwest, pursuing a career in the medical field. He decided he wished to become a doctor, and help people. His choice of psychiatrist did not set well with his family, but his decision to pursue a life of academic fulfillment pleased his family very much.
I have returned home to my family, breaking off the engagement to Elizabeth. After discussing with Nathaniel about what I should say, we decided on explaining to her that I was to take over the family business, becoming an undertaker, and that such a field was unpleasant and not becoming of a fine woman as herself. It turns out that she was planning to dissolve our engagement as well, as her trip to New York afforded her not only a place to clear her mind, but a chance encounter with a former beaux she had never stopped loving. He was from a wealthy and titled background, and while the dissolvement was bitter at first from both sides of our families, we decided it was best of all of us that this his how it was to be. Elizabeth and I promised to remain friends, and I wished her good fortune and tidings with her new fiance. Journal, my heart is at peace, at least with Elizabeth, but what of my Nathaniel? What shall I do now?
January 5, 1900
I have seen Nathaniel several times, and met him in clandestined places. Our passion still burns strong, but I know that he must move on and meet someone of his own age, and become his own man. I shant tell him of this, for I shall gradually disappear from his life, allowing him to meet others, and let time take its natural course.
June 10, 1920
Journal, It has been twenty years since we last spoke, and so much has occurred. Elizabeth is the mother of four sons and four daughters, a woman of proper society in New York's wealthy class. Nathaniel has become a respected psychologist in California, and according to him, he has been with someone for many years, a well to do business man whom he truly adores. We converse often, telling him of my life as an undertaker, how Father and Mother passed on, and how the business has grown. He has asked me if I have found anyone, and I have stated that I have not, for I shall live with the cherished memories of what we had that summer together. Perhaps one day I shall meet and fall in love, only if time allows this to happen. Journal, I am not sure there will ever be a time where how I feel will ever be accepted. It is an abomination in the eyes of God, and I must remain a pillar of this community. I will always wonder what it may have been like to be in love with another man, but I dare not speak of it. It shall remain my secret until my passing. Journal, you are my wisest friend. You keep my secrets and never betray me, and for that I shall be grateful to you always. Thank you.
The journal stopped there and I closed it, feeling the tears wet against my cheeks. I knew now there was no going back. No matter what I was expected to do, it could not happen. I had to fulfill my own destiny within my heart.
I told Becca the next day that our engagement was off because I was gay. I didn't mince words, or sugar coat anything. Her reaction was as I thought, throwing the ring in my face, and storming out of the restaurant.
I phoned Riley and asked him to meet me at the house the next day, that I needed to speak to him. He showed up at 3:0o pm, clad in a pair of sweat pants, tennis shoes and a tank top, where he's come from the gym.
'Everything ok, Paul'?
'Not really. Can we go inside and talk?' We headed upstairs to the attic, and I closed the door behind us. He stood in the middle of the room, a puzzled look coming across his face.
'Riley, i'm afraid I won't be needing this house for Becca and I. We've broken our engagement'. He looked rather solemn as he took in the news.
'I am sorry, Paulie. I'm gonna lose a hell of a commission on this house.' He shot me a sly grin and walked over to me and squeezed my shoulder.
'You gonna be ok, kiddo?' I reached up and took his hand and pulled out the engagement ring from my pocket. I curled it up in his palm and stepped away. He opened his hand and looked at it with a moment of confusion.
'Why are you giving this to me'? I walked over, slipped my arms around him and kissed him deeply. Standing back to wait for his reaction, he remained immobile, unsure of what to say, or do.
'Riley, I do love you. I don't want to lose the best thing that's ever happened to me. Children or no children. I want to be with you.'
A broad smile came across his handsome face and he walked over, slid his arms around my waist, and embraced me. Leaning down to give me a deep soul kiss, he held me in the embrace and kissed me on the bridge of my nose.
'Sweetheart, i'm gonna make you the happiest man in the world. I promise.'
'I know you shall, Riley.' I held him in my arms, and as we stood there, the multicolored reflection bathing us in its afternoon hues, I wondered if somewhere Jacob was smiling upon us. Because he had everything to do with this. And I hoped that he knew that, wherever he might be.