My prolonged good-bye began on the first day of summer. That wasn't the day of the accident. That had happened two days before. But it wasn't until the first day of summer that the doctors came into my hospital room to tell me that Jamal would recover but might be paralyzed for life from the waist down because of the injury to his back. "You were very lucky, Mr. Madison. You somehow were cushioned from the impact. As soon as you are rehabbed with the knee replacement, you should be as good as new." They had been dancing around the question for two days on how Jamal Washington and I could have sustained our separate injuries in that car crash-his serious, mine not, under the circumstances. But I wasn't about to help them out by saying that we both were in the backseat of the car, with Jamal on my lap, facing me, while, cupping and spreading his butt cheeks, I pulled his ass on and off my dick. That's why I was cushioned everywhere but the knees and my arms, which had sustained lacerations and bruising. And it was why Jamal had the damage to his spine. The front seat of the car, followed by the engine, had jammed into his back, but his body had cushioned mine from the worst of the impact. "Kyle?" I asked. Why had they told me about Jamal but not about Kyle? He'd been driving. He was the one who was the light of my life. And he's the one who had wanted to pick Jamal up at that roadhouse tavern while we were driving to the tea plantation south of Charleston for an impromptu picnic. It was Kyle who wanted me to fuck Jamal in the backseat while he was driving-and apparently while he was watching us in the rearview mirror rather than paying attention to where he was going on the winding rural road through marshland. "I'm afraid Mr. Cooper didn't make it," the doctor said. "Was he a good friend of-?" Rather than listening to the doctor further or answering his question, though, I rolled over as best I could toward the window of the hospital room. I didn't want him to see me cry. He must have heard the sob, though, because he just patted me on the arm and then stood and left the room. Of course I'd known Kyle hadn't survived the accident. It was the engine of the automobile that had jammed into Jamal's back. And we were in the backseat of the car. Kyle had been in the front seat, driving. Of course he hadn't survived. But until the doctor said he was gone, Kyle wasn't gone for me. But then Kyle wasn't truly gone until the end of that summer of the long good-bye. * * * * I had always thought that hooking up with Kyle was too good to be true and that someday the ax would fall on my good fortune. Where others told me I was basically a pessimist, I countered that I thought I basically was a realist. I'm not at all gloating that, where my relationship with Kyle was concerned, I was right. Ours was a classic case of opposites attracting. I was the senior partner, but two, of a staid architectural and construction firm that had operated in the historical districts of Charleston, South Carolina, for over two hundred years. We specialized in restorations, and there was plenty of restoration work to do in Charleston. I was only outranked by my father, who, having turned sixty-five the previous year, was now holding office hours on the links of the Charleston Country Club. The other senior partner was my brother, Joseph. He was the managing partner and the face of the firm. Not having either of these headaches was fine with me. I got to do what I wanted, which was architectural design-bringing the old side-porch houses of the city back to their pre-Civil War glory. And I didn't have to do the schmoozing my brother did in society. I could roam the gay underbelly of the city without the Post and Courier gossiping about me. I had to do so quietly, though, because my family was so prominent in the city. But I was a low-key man, anyway. This was where the big contrast between me and Kyle Cooper existed. Kyle was the sunny, flamboyant, almost in-your-face gay boy. He had no trouble having his photo often featured on the gay Charleston online site. And he had no trouble showing it all in these photos. Sometimes over the past two years I was tagged by the photo as well, as we had become inseparable. But I was careful that it was only a shoulder or an arm that showed in the photograph. Nothing matched with us-or so it would seem. Kyle was bubbly and "out there." He was small of stature-looking quite twinky, even though he was pushing into his late twenties. His hair, an impossible shade of nearly platinum blond, was spiky, and he sported both body jewelry-earring and nipple, navel and perineum rings-and a small tattoo of Mickey Mouse above one hip and a more intricate scroll on the small of his back providing an archway to his pert buttocks. He dressed flamboyantly and had multiple rings on his fingers and one on a toe, and he wore a flashy Rolex watch that a previous sugar daddy had given him. I say previous sugar daddy, because I guess I, richer, bigger and taller, dark haired, slightly hirsute, more toned down and a dozen years his senior-and definitely able to fade into staid Charleston society on demand-would technically qualify as his sugar daddy. I never really thought of myself as that, though, even though he lived in my house and ate my groceries. Kyle wasn't a parasite in any sense of the word. He earned good money and spent it on both of us. The car he had died in, a Jaguar sedan, had been his. I drove a BMW convertible. If we had taken my car that day, the accident probably wouldn't have happened, because the black waiter Kyle had insisted that we pick up at the roadhouse on the way to the tea plantation-who Kyle had said he wanted to watch me fuck-wouldn't have fit in the backseat with me in my BMW to distract Kyle while he was driving. I wouldn't have let Kyle drive my BMW anyway. He couldn't concentrate on anything more than three minutes at a time, hence partially explaining his death. Kyle and I had met when I was restoring a mews house fronting on a Tradd Street alley. I had intended to restore it and sell it, which was often what I did with small houses I found here and there off Charleston alleys. Kyle had been recommended to me as an interior decorator to do the inside of the house. I met him in a bar on State Street and immediately was apprehensive about doing business with him because we were so different in temperament. I had been assured that he was the best decorator in town, recently arrived from New York City, for my project. When we met, though, he was so flamboyant and "out there," touching me and leaning into me and batting his long eyelashes at me-putting me completely out of my comfort zone, as I kept my orientation secret, or so I thought, and went to Savannah for my jollies-that I was uncomfortable and moved the meeting to the bare-walled mews cottage as quickly as I could. At least at the time I'd assumed it had been my decision to move to the house. Later I realized that, with Kyle, almost nothing was my decision. "You know I can't get enough of looking at your lips while you speak," he'd said from out of the blue. "It's all I can do to keep myself from leaning over and kissing you." "Excuse me?" I'd said. I was discussing authentic period Charleston interior paint colors, and, as far as I could tell he wasn't restraining himself much from leaning into me. How the hell had he guessed I was gay? "No need to be coy," he said. "I've heard you fuck men. In fact, I've heard that you are magnificently hung." He was tracing my lips with a finger. "Uh, perhaps we should be discussing the house renovation elsewhere," I said. I thought I'd said that because of the embarrassment of being visually stripped in public-whereupon everyone would find the measure of my erection because of the contradictory ways my body was reacting to this discomforting decorator. I was wrong, of course. "Yes, perhaps we should," Kyle answered with a twinkling smile. He knew so much better than I did what the deal was here, where this was going. I fucked him on the floor of the living room on top of a painter's tarp, not fully realizing what we were doing until I had sunk my dick inside him as he lay on his back, arching his slim torso. holding his arms straight out from his sides with my hands fisting his slim wrists, I sucked on his nipple ring, and thrust up inside him again and again. He laughed that tinkling laugh of his and met the rhythm of the fuck head on with the movement of his hips against me, taking all of me, thick and deep, with each thrust, which other young men had found too taxing to laugh about. It, of course, hadn't been my idea to fuck. It was Kyle's talent to bring these things about as if they were the most natural thing we could be doing. Not that any of this had happened by accident. Months later Kyle let drop in passing that it had been his idea that we meet-and fuck. He'd arranged for friends to recommend him to me. As always, Kyle was two steps ahead of me on what we'd be doing sexually. It was the same with Jamal Washington. In one moment, he and Kyle were flirting as he flitted around serving us our beers and Hoagies. I hadn't even realized that Kyle was roping the slim waiter in for me to fuck. I found them amusing. Two bent-wristed bottoms flitting around each other-as if there was anything they could do with each other. The way Jamal was trading teases with Kyle, I assumed he wasn't what attracted me. But then I once hadn't thought Kyle was either, and I was quite wrong about that. Kyle pulled Jamal's ear close to his mouth and whispered something to him. Both of them were looking at me. "Go ahead, check out for yourself," Kyle said in a louder voice, and Jamal reached a hand down and groped my crotch just like I was part of the negotiations. Both of them were two steps ahead of me. The next moment Jamal was informing the kitchen that he was taking the afternoon off to check out the tea plantation farther up the road, and then he was returning to the table, all white-toothed smiles, his gaze plastered to below my belt. Kyle had told him I had a cock to die for, and, just like that, he'd fallen into Kyle's plan by saying he'd love to ride it. Kyle was always the one in control, the one who made decisions for both of us and played the aggressor when we went out in the evening. He liked to watch me fuck another man before he and I had sex. Jamal had just been a preliminary stage to the seaside picnic Kyle planned for us to have after we'd visited the tea plantation. New York decorator or not, Kyle proved able to channel old family Charleston completely, and the effect of how he had finished the mews house prompted us both to move in-together-when it was completed. Ever the romantic, he said it had the right, intimate feel to it. Ever the practical, I noted that it had two off-street parking places in an area of town where parking was at a premium. Neither of us said out loud that we couldn't give up a place where we had first gloriously fucked on a painter's tarp in the living room-and, before the renovations had been completed, had fucked in every position and in every room, including the claustrophobic pantry and on the rough boards of the attic floor-but we both knew that we felt exactly the same way about it. I no longer thought of us as opposites, but more as a Yin and Yang perfect fit. I didn't even hesitate to pick up Jamal Washington in the roadhouse restaurant-any more than the young, willowy black man had hesitated to be picked up-and then to fuck him in the backseat of Kyle's Jaguar, something I wouldn't even have begun to think of doing before life with Kyle. I appreciated that there had not been a life before Kyle-which made it all the harder to face life without Kyle at the beginning of the summer. Looking back on the summer, I could see-if I wanted to be practical-that what happened in those three months was a slow process of being weaned away from my denial of life without Kyle. But the romantic spark Kyle had engendered in me the two years we were together made me prefer to think of that summer as just a long good-bye. * * * * I never saw Jamal again. I did call the hospital a couple of times after I was released in early July to find that he was progressing well-as well as could be expected-but that, no, he wasn't interested in having visitors. That was fine with me. I didn't want to visit him either. I didn't know what to say to him beyond, "Thank you for protecting my body from being crushed by the Jaguar's engine." It would have been a really dark joke to volunteer to complete the fuck we'd started now that he couldn't feel anything below his chest. I'd only known him for about an hour; I didn't particularly want to dwell on how completely I knew him in that time. I didn't feel guilt over what had happened to him. He had come with us willingly-almost eagerly-and when he'd slid down my cock in the backseat of the Jaguar he'd claimed to be in ninth heaven. Of the three of us, I was the one who was just going with the flow of what the other two had declared they wanted. I was the one being used. My brother Joseph visited me regularly in the hospital before I was released. My father didn't. He said he'd see me when I got home. I knew that he was embarrassed-that what the doctors were reluctant to talk about concerning what the three of us had been doing in that car was something that the gossips of the first families of Charleston hadn't held back on speculating about. Our names had been in the papers. It didn't take much to figure out Kyle's interests-and, I was to learn-Jamal's as well. "Perhaps you shouldn't go directly home from here, Jeffery," Joseph had said. "The stairs of that house you have are steep and narrow. You could go out to the beach house until you get off the crutches. Massie is out there to cook and clean for you and everything you need is on one level." It sounded so reasonable, although I knew it primarily was a ploy to get me out of the city until people forgot about the accident. And it was the reasonableness of it that made me balk. It was as if Kyle was in the room with me. He would never have gone with the practical, especially if it unruffled the feathers of propriety. So, I wouldn't either. I was on pins and needles to please Kyle-even in death. "Maybe later," I said. "There's so much work to catch up with at the office." "All of which can be done at the beach house," Joseph said. That too was practical. The beach house was just to the north of the city, on Sullivan's Island-where all of the Charleston first families had maintained beach "cottages"-behemoth mansions, most of them, although ours was a more modest-sized bungalow, if you could call six bedrooms modest sized. I went home to the Tradd Street mews house, where Joseph, reluctantly, had set up a bed for me in the living room so that I didn't have to climb the stairs. Thank god I'd had a shower stall put in the downstairs powder room. I didn't want to tell Joseph-or anyone else-that it was because Kyle had lived in the mews house and had never been to the beach house, preferring a gay B&B whenever we went out to Sullivan's Island, that I balked at going to the beach house. I had originally agreed to Joseph's plan, but one night in the hospital, I had awakened to the scent of Kyle-a clean, lemony scent-and I had begun to cry. His scent was still in the Tradd Street house. It wouldn't be in the beach house. I wasn't ready to say good-bye yet. * * * * The first time that summer that Kyle came back to me was in late July. I was standing in front of a stack of cantaloupes at the open-air market, perched on my crutches and running my hands over one of the melons, squeezing it a bit and rubbing the stem indent, trying to determine how ripe it was. The tinkling laugh hit me simultaneously with the smell of lemons. I jerked my head up in the direction the laugh had come from. His presence was unmistakable. Kyle was standing across the crowded street, a lone stationary figure amid a swirl of people. It couldn't have been anyone but Kyle-the spiky, nearly platinum hair; the startling cornflower blue eyes; the boyish, almost feminine face. He was smiling but giving me that half-admonishing, wholly amused look he gave me when he caught me in one of my not-so-socially-acceptable habits. Squeezing fruit in the market was one of those. My eyes went wide and I opened my mouth to call out to him, but my arm being jostled caused me to look around to my left-and into the face of an elderly black woman. She was smiling too, but she had a "tsk, tsk" etched on her face too. "If you squeeze that any harder, sir, you is gonna bruise it. And then ain't no one, you or no one else, who is gonna want it." "Um, sorry," I said. "I was daydreaming." She was holding a net bag in her hand with a good half dozen lemons in it. I looked back around to the street, but Kyle was gone, lost in the bustle of the people moving along the line of stalls on this side of the narrow, cobble-stoned street. I decided that I must have been daydreaming, the connection to Kyle set off by a similar laugh and the old woman's bag of lemons. I say I decided that, but that was only intellectually. Emotionally, I was sure that Kyle had come back to me-that our parting had been too abrupt for him just as it had been for me. Our bond had been too strong to be cut in an instant like that. The next time Joseph came to my house, he opened the refrigerator door, only to have three cantaloupes fall out onto the floor. "What's this?" he asked. "Are you cornering the melon market?" The three melons that had fallen out of the refrigerator were just a few of what had been stuffed in there. I'd gone back to the market every day that week, retracing my steps precisely, doing exactly what I'd done the day Kyle had come to me-squeezing and buying cantaloupes. But he hadn't appeared to me again. "Hit a cart when I backed the car out into the alley the other day," I told Joseph, intoning the excuse lamely enough that even he, who could be obtuse with the best of them, gave me a skeptical look. "I felt so sorry for the old woman pushing the cart of melons that I bought all that fell on the ground." Joseph didn't pursue that, specifically, but he used it as an opportunity to return to an argument of the past few weeks that I was moping around too much and needed to become more active socially. "When I'm off the crutches," I said. "You'll turn into a hermit crab before then," he countered. Joseph knew, of course, why I was moping around. That I was in mourning. But none of that could be discussed between us. He had pretended that Kyle didn't exist when Kyle was still alive. He certainly wasn't prepared to knowledge him in death. But of course he knew. And of course I couldn't say that I'd been back to the market every day that week because I wanted-no, needed-to see Kyle again, to connect with him. I'd felt Kyle's presence now and again ever since the accident, but that was all in my mind. This was the first time he had materialized to me. He was trying to convey something to me, I was sure. And he couldn't be at rest until he'd done so. And it was tearing me apart that he couldn't be at rest. I couldn't be at rest either until he was. "We need another interior decorator," Joseph said, the closest he would come to mentioning Kyle, whose loss was why we needed another interior decorator on staff. "There's a designers' convention in Savannah on August 10th. I can't get away for it, but I'd like you to go down there and see if you can hire a new decorator for us. There will be a job fair included." "I can barely get around on my own, Joseph, and I can't drive the-" I had to stop. I'd just told him I'd hit a fruit cart that week when backing the car into the alley. "Courtney will drive you," he said briskly, referring to the office secretary who was still trying to land me even knowing I was gay. "It's either you or me who has to hire a decorator and you're not doing anything at the office at the moment. The opportunity is too good to pass up. Then when you come back to Charleston, I want you to go out to the beach house until you can walk without the crutches." "Yes, Joseph," I answered. I felt too overwhelmed to demure, and I knew now that another cantaloupe trip to the outdoor market wasn't going to make Kyle materialize. But then he appeared at the convention, and I was exhilarated by the second appearance. That meant the first one wasn't an anomaly. And that, surely, there would be others. Either he would come more often and stay longer each time or I would sink into madness. At that particular moment I didn't really care which it would be. I was standing in the Savannah convention hotel lobby they'd set aside for business talks and impromptu job interviews, getting close to offering the decorator's job to a young man whose flamboyance and toss of his head of golden curls reminded me a bit of Kyle, when I heard the sound of a throat being cleared. I knew in an instant it was Kyle. It's just the way he did it-delicately as if embarrassed he had to do it-and then had to do it again because he hadn't been forceful enough the first time. I looked up into his eyes where he stood across the room, by a set of French doors. He was bathed in sunlight coming in through the doors to the point that he didn't look solid. But it was Kyle. I knew it was him. I smiled and he gave me a tight little smile and turned his head several times to his left. I turned my gaze to where he seemed to want me to look. She must have been in her late fifties and couldn't have been dressed more out of style and color coordination. She was downright dumpy and was looking around the room with a scowl. I realized I knew of her. It was Frieda Fischer, who was conducting one of the interior design seminars later that day. I'd overheard at lunch that she was looking for a job change-that she was interested in warmer climes. Boca Raton had been mentioned. She was a New York City designer, which I knew from an Architectural Digest article she'd been mentioned in some time back and that Kyle had nearly had an ejaculation over as he described the article to me. Another New York designer, just like Kyle. When I looked back at the French doors, of course Kyle no longer was there. Joseph was absolutely delighted when I returned to Charleston with the news that I had hired Frieda Fischer. I, of course, didn't tell him that I had done so at Kyle's direction. And not only that, but that telling her I'd known and worked with Kyle had been the clincher for her in accepting the position. She worked out a charm in the position, and Joseph almost treated me as an equal partner at the firm thereafter. * * * * I sensed I was being watched as I ate breakfast in the gay B&B Kyle liked to go to on Sullivan's Island. In late August, my crutches discarded, I gave into Joseph's demands to take a vacation on the island. But I didn't go to the family's beach house. I knew Kyle wouldn't materialize there, and I ached to have contact with him again. It had been nearly two weeks since I'd last seen him. It wasn't a painful ache now, though. The summer had moved on. I didn't cry most of the time I thought about Kyle as summer drew to a close. Now it was more a bittersweet experience when he lifted himself up in my mind-which, thankfully, still was often. It was more sweet than bitter now. But Joseph was still saying I was moping around too much, so, to get out from underneath his well-meaning badgering, I removed myself to Sullivan's Island. But it was to someplace Kyle might appear to me that I retreated. And I proved to be right. I looked up and across the B&B's breakfast room to see a young redheaded man, who I'd exchanged smiles with the previous afternoon when I checked in. There was no one sitting with him in the breakfast room. Everyone else there was blocked off in couples. He was almost embarrassing alone. He looked more alone than I felt. I was still having discussions with Kyle in my mind, discussing with him previous visits we'd made to this B&B. The redhead gave me a shy smile. He was quite handsome and well formed. A good four inches shorter than I am-about the same height as Kyle. And about the same musculature too. Twinky, but not skinny by any means. A good build for a smaller guy. And the red hair came naturally-somewhat of a surprise at a gay hotel where most of the guys were bottle blonds. He had freckles on his face, which were charming on him, and on his forearms as well. His skin was white as alabaster, which raised a parental concern in me immediately. If he went out on the beach too long he'd be burned to a crisp. This mildly proprietary concern pulled me into slight arousal too. But I wasn't here for sex. I had decided to give that up. I couldn't see wanting any other man after Kyle. I would swear off men, maybe even marry Courtney and try to lead a normal life. I was finishing my breakfast and he had just started his, so, with just a slight nod of recognition and another smile, I rose from my seat and went up to my room and changed into a bathing suit. I had been out on the beach for nearly an hour and was ready to come back into the B&B when I moved into a half doze. Of course I dreamed of Kyle. Of the two of us making love on the beach. Kyle on his back on the beach towel, his legs bent and spread, his pelvis rolled up to me, and his hands digging into my bare buttocks, as I sank deeper and deeper inside him. No one had been able to take me as deep as Kyle could. I felt his hands on my knees-a strange sensation, he could not have done that from the position he was under me in my dreams. I opened my eyes, and discovered that I was the one on my back on the beach towel. My legs were bent and spread, and Kyle was kneeling between my feet, which were dug into the sand on either side of the towel. He was smiling down at me, capturing my eyes with his blue orbs, his long eyelashes fluttering. His sensual smile that always told me we were going to fuck. I shuddered as his hands slowly glided down the inside of my spread thighs, meeting at the center of me. The fingers of both hands moved under the waistband of my Speedo, and he pulled the material down to underneath my cock-fully erect-and my balls. Still holding my eyes captive with his, he encircled my cock with one hand and began to stroke me. His other hand entered my right leg hole and his fingers found my hole and teased it open and sank inside as he stroked. I moaned and ran my fingers through his spiky platinum-blond hair, as, after I heard him speak for the first time since the accident, he lowered his mouth on my cock and sucked me off while his fingers penetrated deeper in my ass and found my prostate. I exploded in ejaculation, as his words, only murmured but echoing through my mind, ran over and over again. "I don't want you to give this up. Just give me a thought every time you have sex." I lay there, panting, after having cum. I was staring up into Kyle's face, which was becoming blurry because the sun was behind his head, not just giving him a halo, but also making his features fuzzy. When I had cooled down, he stood and reached down with a hand, taking one of mine in his and coaxing me to stand and then to follow him into the B&B. At some point, I don't know when, his eyes had turned from cornflower blue to hazel and his hair from platinum to red. His skin was an alabaster white with a smattering of freckles. We went to my room in the B&B, where he gently pushed me onto my back, hand-stroked me into another erection, and then mounted my cock, facing me, with his hands working my pecs and nipples, as he rode me to a shared ejaculation. The redhead from across the breakfast room spent the night in my arms, punctuated by fuckings in various positions throughout the hours of darkness. I had not had sex since the auto accident, and had plenty of cum to give. He drained me dry, though. When I woke up in the morning, he was gone. When I checked with the B&B manager, he couldn't quite place who the redheaded guest had been. * * * * I resumed my periodic cruising jaunts to Savannah thereafter, content now that it was what Kyle wanted me to do. There was still a bit of reticence in resuming my cruising, though, and a feeling of guilt each time I hooked up with and fucked a man. I wasn't sure that this was the lifestyle Kyle wanted me to have. This was the type of flamboyance he would enjoy for himself, of course, but surely he had chosen me-I could never claim I chose him-because of who I was, which was different from him. I was still reserved, probably more now than before I had been with him and had been wounded by his abrupt and violent departure. I used sex now as a release rather than an act of pleasure. I had no trouble hooking up, given that I was in great shape for my age and because of how well I was endowed-so many men in the Savannah gay bars and clubs were size whores. I purposely moved to rougher trade on my Savannah visits just so I wouldn't be tempted to compare everyone I was with to Kyle and maybe falling into the painful habit of trying to favorably compare the men I fucked to Kyle. I don't want anyone to compare to Kyle. I wanted to wallow in my grief for him. For that reason, it was a total surprise to me when Kyle next appeared to me. I was in a party room behind a bar on East Perry Street, not far from Savannah's waterfront but on the seedier eastern side of the famous system of parks. It was a workers' bar-manual and construction workers mostly. Lots of Hispanics and what had been called Crackers, rural Southern poor whites, back before the era of political correctness. I was covering a young, short, but muscular Hispanic man, who was on all fours on the carpeted floor, fucking him doggy style as he was crying out in Spanish. I could figure out enough of what he was moaning to know that he thought I was especially big-and that he was especially enjoying himself. Kyle took that moment to appear to me from the shadows across the room. There must have been a dozen guys in the room, all coupling and changing partners, having a real go at it. This was the third guy I'd had my dick in during the impromptu party. There was a swirl of young men around me bidding to be next. All I wanted to do was to get my rocks off and to go home to Charleston exhausted so that Kyle didn't come to me so many of my nights and tantalize me. Earlier in the summer we'd fucked in my dreams. But as the season moved on, my interaction with Kyle, even in my dreams, was progressively receding. I was afraid that before summer was over-which would happen within a little more than a week, as we already were into September-I would lose my sexual connection with Kyle altogether. And I would have nothing to replace it except for this animal need to ejaculate, not caring all that much whose hole I came in. But there, among all this primitive rutting, the groans and grunts and "Fuck" and "Shit, yes," and "Spike me" moans, Kyle appeared in the shadows, preceded by the smell of lemons and a soft, tinkling laugh. As he did at the design convention, he smiled at me, but he nodded his head off to the side, pulling my attention over to a couch, where a young dark-haired, well-muscled, but slender man was draped over the arm of the sofa, his legs stretched over the sofa cushions, and his arms dangling down to the floor from the sofa arm at the side of the couch, as a big black man with a cock to rival mine covered his back and fucked him fast and hard. The young dark-haired man was intently watching me, his eyes blazing, his tongue licking his lips. His facial expression was almost one of pleading. I assumed that he was just feeling taxed to the limit by the black guy. It was too bad I hadn't seen him earlier in the evening. I definitely found him fuckable. But, no, maybe not. I didn't want to hook up with anyone approaching Kyle in desirability. I looked back at Kyle, who was beginning to fade back into the shadows. He nodded in the direction of the dark-haired young man again. The Hispanic man under me picked that moment to collapse onto the floor, and I followed him down, giving him five more thrusts of the cock before filling the head of my condom with cum. He was whimpering and sighing and turned his face to mine for a kiss. I wasn't interested in anything romantic with him, but I obliged. When I looked up, across the room, Kyle was gone. And when I turned my head the big black was pulling the dark-haired man up off the sofa and carrying him toward the back of the room, where a corridor led off to smaller, more private rooms, all with slings and couches with restraints for more adventuresome pursuits. I gave a little sigh of regret. Who knew if the dark-haired honey would even survive the night with that big, black brute? * * * * "His name is Ryan." I woke with a start-in my bed in the Tradd Street mews house. Or I thought I was awake. Later I wasn't sure at what point I woke. It unmistakably was Kyle's voice. It was night, but I hadn't pulled the drapes and the street light from up the alley at the corner of Tradd cast enough light into the window that I could dimly make out what was in the room. What was in the room included Kyle. But not just Kyle. There was another young man there with him in the shadows. The dark-haired young man from the Savannah gay club party room. Both of them were naked, their lightly muscular bodies achingly beautiful. Never before that summer since the accident had Kyle felt so real to me as he did then. He was holding hands with the other young man. I heard him murmur "This is Ryan" again and then they were moving toward the bed, becoming more substantial, both of them, as they approached the bed. I too was naked and had been asleep on my back on top of the sheets-if indeed I wasn't still asleep. Ryan-for this surely was who the dark-haired young man was-was smiling at me shyly as they reached the foot of the bed. Kyle nudged Ryan up onto the bed and, cooing at both Ryan and me, coaxed Ryan to crawl on his knees up the line of my legs. When his buttocks were over my pelvis, Kyle reached between us and held my erect cock straight up as Ryan sank down on the shaft. I opened my arms, Ryan's chest came down to my torso, and his lips lowered on mine. I felt Kyle's hands on my shins, and he was bending my legs up. His hands then spread Ryan's buttocks wider so that my cock could sink farther into him. The young man moaned deeply as I began to pump his channel. That was the last time I was visited by Kyle ever. I realized it would be, as I felt him pull back into the shadows, the lingering smell of lemon dissipating. Ringing in my ears as he left me was the repeated word "good-bye, good-bye." It had been the last day of summer. I woke up to the first day of fall with a very real and present Ryan still in my bed, his buttocks cupped into my groin, my cock still inside him, engorging again. In a few more minutes I would be wakening him well into a fuck. We had already fucked several times during the night. Like Kyle, he could take the whole length of me. As I woke, I realized what I had done earlier on that last day of summer. Something had sent me wheeling back to Savannah in the early afternoon. I did the rounds of the gay bars and clubs, giving up at last in finding what I sought. Not really knowing then what I was looking for. Until, as I sat in Oglethorpe Square, near the club with the party room where I had fucked four manual workers in one night, I looked up at some construction workers on the scaffolding of a Victorian house that was being saved just in time and saw him. It was only then that I realized that I had come back to Savannah to find the dark-haired young man the black brute had carried off to the private rooms that night-the one that Kyle had drawn my attention to. Somewhere in my subconscious I had realized what Kyle had been trying to tell me that night. He had picked someone out for me. Not only had he told me earlier that he wanted me to continue fucking men, but he also had selected one for me. I just had been slow in understanding that. It was all part of his summer of the good-bye. He could move on now, now that I understood the gift he wanted to leave me with. And now so could I. The young man saw me sitting there, and he slowly descended the scaffold and walked over to me. He had the grace of a dancer. And he had Kyle's twinkling smile. "My name is Jeffery Madison," I said. "I own an architecture and construction firm in Charleston. I'm hiring construction workers. Are you interested in a job?" "With you?" he asked. "My name is Ryan." The voice was the same as Kyle's. Despite the physical difference between the two, I could clearly see Kyle in him. "Yes, with me. I'm interested in you in other ways too." "You want to fuck me?" "Yes. But more than that, I want to take you home to Charleston with me. I want you in my bed. Are you interested?" "That's what I wanted the first time I saw you," he responded in a hoarse whisper. Then he laughed, a soft, tinkling laugh. Kyle's laugh.



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