A few months after Matt and I officially began our life as a couple, my father unexpectedly died in his sleep. No warning and - mercifully - no pain or suffering. He had never had a day's serious illness in his entire life, so it was a shock to everyone.
The following weeks and months were a great trial for all of us. My mother - she who had always seemed so composed and competent - was suddenly diminished.
It was as though she had shrunk. And she lost a great deal of weight. She couldn't or wouldn't eat. She grieved immensely.
In time, though, Mom began to recover. She eventually went back to her usual vivacious self and began to live again. Apart from an occasional sadness on her face when she thought no one was looking, she returned to being the indomitable force she had always been.
My father left the bulk of his estate to his wife, but he also left a tidy sum to me as well as some shares and the family beach house. I had to make a decision. What I really wanted was for Matt and me to move on - as had always been the plan - but I didn't want to leave my mother all alone.
If Matt and I moved to the beach house - even though it was just a few miles away - she would still feel bereft of family.
Mom frequently urged us to get on with our lives - assuring us she'd be fine - but I knew she was just putting on a brave face.
'We should stay' Matt told me as we lay in bed one night.
'I guess so' I said. 'But I want us to feel free to make love in the kitchen, walk around naked if we want to, and fuck as loudly as we want. We can't do that here.'
'You don't think that sounds a bit selfish?'
'I know how it sounds' I said. 'But we're both young. We need to live a full life. Make friends. Have parties. Get out more.'
We talked ourselves to a standstill that night, finally agreeing that we should sit down with Mom as soon as possible and explore plans for the future. But no awkward discussions were necessary.
My mother came up with the perfect solution without any prompting from me.
'Do you remember my cousin, dear? Your Aunt Nancy.'
'Vaguely' I said. 'I remember she visited us one Christmas when I was a kid. And I remember Dad asking you if she was ever going to leave.'
'Well, she did stay on and on, but then she'd just been widowed and they had no children. So she was a bit lost and lonely.
Your father got a bit irritable because she would chatter away while he was having his first coffee of the day and trying to read the newspaper.'
'I can see how that would drive him nuts' I chuckled. 'Anyway, what about her?'
'Well, things have not gone well for her. She has always struggled financially and only has a cheap rental.
Her husband was not the most prudent of men. Big ideas. Huge plans. But nothing ever came of them. So, I've suggested she leave Philly and come here and live with me.'
'And that won't drive you nuts too?' I asked.
'Of course not. Nancy and I have always gotten along well. Women are different to men. We like to chat. I'll enjoy having her around. It'll be company for me and a blessing for her.
And it'll enable you and Matthew to move out and get on with your lives without worrying all the time about me.'
And that's what came to pass. Aunt Nancy came to live with Mom; and Matt and I moved to the beach-house. It worked out well.
The two women got along famously and Matt and I usually had Sunday lunch with them every week. I dropped in frequently during the week, too - just to make sure Mom was doing OK.
It was on our very first Friday night at the beach that I told Matt that I wanted to try something new. That I wanted him to fuck me.
'No way' he said. 'You'd hate it. And besides, I really love being fucked by you. I'm perfectly happy the way things are.'
So I told Matt what my mother had once suggested; that it seemed unfair that only one guy endure all the pain.
'You and your mother just don't understand' he said. 'Some guys are just not into being a top - ever. I get pleasure from having you inside me. An occasional bit of discomfort is nothing compared to the joy of having your cock up my arse.'
'But some guys are versatile, aren't they?' I persisted. 'Maybe I might grow to like being fucked too. Not always - just sometimes.
Maybe I'd feel like I was contributing more to our relationship; making it fuller; more complete.'
'Mmm' said Matt. 'I'll think about it.
Right now, though, I want you to plough me as roughly as possible. Let's christen every room in the house.
Make me scream. Fuck me ragged. And then fill me to the brim with cum.'
So I did.
We moved all over the house, doing our best to stay joined the whole time. In the bathroom, I fucked Matt as he stood at the hand-basin, each of us able to see the other's face in the mirror.
We both watched Matt's face as I plunged deep inside him. We both watched my own face as I did so.
It surprised me how primitive and determined my face looked. It amazed me how ecstatic Matt looked at each hard thrust.
I loved the expectant look on his face as I drew backwards and hovered before plunging into him again.
In the kitchen, I withdrew briefly so Matt could lie on his back on the kitchen table. With his legs wrapped around me, I positioned my cock at his entrance, teasing him with a few shallow moves back and forth.
And then I threw myself into him totally. I quickly set aside any concerns about being gentle. He wanted to be slam-fucked and I was happy to oblige.
We enjoyed it so much that neither of us could hold back. I tried, but the desire to blow my load was irresistible. I warned Matt and he started flailing at his dick as my cum jetted deep inside his ass.
Shortly afterwards, Matt let fly too. Our immaculate kitchen was immaculate no longer as a shower of jizz rained down on us.
We paused for a while. It was a warm evening. I suggested a dip in the pool. I didn't care that we were covered in sweat and smeared with cum splashes. What's the point of a pool filter and chemicals if you never give them something to work on?
We had fun.
It reminded me of my boyhood, when Dad and I would often skinny dip and have races - which he always let me win - and when I felt like a god because I mastered the arts of diving and of standing on my hands underwater.
I love swimming in a pool at night. The pool lights make the water seem so crystalline and blue. I feel as though I'm occupying a tiny piece of brightness in a vast expanse of dark.
'You know, Dad didn't want to put in this pool' I told Matt.
'He thought it was silly to be right on the beach and have a pool as well. Mom put on that old movie - 'Jaws' - and asked him if he wanted his only child to be eaten by sharks.'
Matt and I shared a poolside chaise longue after our swim, snuggling up close because the water had been quite cold.
'We could fuck out here' I suggested. 'It's not as though anyone can see us.'
So we did. This time like spoons.
I pressed against Matt's buttocks and rapidly grew hard again. I reached around to check and Matt's cock was hard too.
'We don't have any lube' I whispered.
'So we improvise' Matt replied, spitting into his hand and then reaching behind him to moisten the head of my dick.
Trust me; saliva is not the ideal lubricant, especially immediately after a swim.
Matt's buttocks were already dry and cool in the evening air. Even his asshole felt cold to the touch. No way could I simply glide inside him. It was a slow and steady advance, and my glans grew exquisitely tender as it was forced backwards by the pressure.
Matt is an incredibly tight fuck even when well-lubricated; when almost dry, his ass-chute feels like a heavily-armed resistance movement. Presumably, the pool water had dispersed the cum I'd so recently deposited inside him. I don't know.
But, eventually, I was all the way inside him. Maybe not all the way. Full penetration is not really feasible in the side-by-side position, especially when the other party's buttocks are as firm and well-rounded as Matthew's.
I didn't resent the limitation. At the very least, I had some nine inches or more lodged inside the guy I loved. It was enough. And it felt wonderful.
Doing it side-by-side, spooning, is in some respects the most sensuous way to make love. It's languorous, almost lazy. It requires no great athleticism or energy. And it enables me to reach around Matt and fondle his dick and his balls.
Of course, this can also be done when we're in doggy position or if I take him from behind, standing upright; but only when we're side-by-side is such access easy.
I love to feel his hardness echoing my own hardness within him. I love to spread the oozing precum around his cock-head, occasionally raising my finger to my lips and tasting the sweetness of him.
This was a very, very slow fuck. Neither of us wanted to rush. This time we wanted to feel every sensation; savour every moment.
I always envisage Matt's ass as being lined with velvety pink receptor cells. When my cock is in there, it feels as though every cell embraces me, caresses me and draws me onwards and upwards; the head of my dick tingles at each contraction and spasm inside him; and Matt really knows how to clamp down on my shaft.
It's tight enough in there anyway, but, when he squeezes on me, I know that he is enjoying our coupling as much as I am. It feels as though he is grasping a trophy in triumph and joy.
After the longest time, I could tell that Matt was very close to ejaculating. His balls had almost disappeared into his groin and his cock was thickening at the base. His preliminary flow had become copious and I knew he would erupt at any second.
I ceased stroking him. Just held his shaft tightly and whispered to him.
'Squeeze really, really hard, babe. Clamp on me as tight as you can.'
And, with that one intense pressure, I felt myself burst forth inside him. As my own cum gushed into him, I felt Matt's dick spasming as his own juices flew into the night air and landed on the pool decking.
The sphincter at his asshole was like a steel trap. With each snap of its jaws, another spurt of jizz was milked out of me.
We lay joined together for several minutes, my cock gradually softening but still deep inside him.
The gentle sea breeze snapped us back to reality. The fine sheen of sweat on our bodies was rapidly drying and we were shivering.
We parted and jumped back into the pool. I turned on the spa at one end and we clambered into it and enjoyed the warmth of the water-jets as they pummelled our flesh.
When we re-entered the house, I left the pool lights on. We each put on a bathrobe and grabbed a beer from the fridge. Leaving the house in darkness behind us, we sat on the patio chairs in companionable silence.
A few moths were fluttering feebly in the pool water. They were relentlessly drawn into the clutches of the pool filter.
We could hear waves breaking on the sands below and the sky above was alight with a million stars.
'Ain't life grand?' I commented.
And Matt agreed. It was a wonderful start to our life alone together.
Later on, when we finally went to bed, we made love one final time. It was another gentle union, with no vigorous thrusting and no sense of urgency.
When I eventually blew my last load of the night - and once Matt's last wad had spurted out of him too - we fell asleep still joined. I hoped that I would still be inside him when we awakened.
Life was wonderful for quite some time.
At the risk of sounding like the idle rich, I freely confess that I stopped micro-managing my gyms around this time. Money was no issue. We were comfortably set for life.
Matt still went in to work two or three times a week. And of course we both went to the gym regularly in order to work out.
But the day-to-day operations were left in the hands of my employees. I had a good team and the business continued to flourish.
Almost every weekend, we joined Mom and Aunt Nancy for Sunday lunch. My aunt had obviously been briefed on the nature of my relationship with Matt. It was equally obvious that she had no problem with it. Indeed, she was just as supportive and understanding as my mother had always been.
As a fully-fledged member of the family, Matt called them Mom and Aunt Nancy just as I did.
We began to make friends as time went by.
We avoided the flamboyant and the outrageously effeminate. We weren't interested in spending time with guys who fluttered about like pale imitations of women. We both preferred to be in the company of men.
Very slowly - bit by bit - we pieced together a social life of like-minded couples. Men who had no desire to hang out every weekend in gay bars and dance clubs. Men who were as committed to each other as Matt and I were.
Occasionally, I enlisted Mom's assistance with dinner parties. She and Nancy cooked up a storm in my kitchen and they delighted in the company of courteous and good-looking young men ... who just happened to be gay.
And then came a bolt from the blue. One day we received a call that forced us to look backwards for a while.
It was Matt who answered the phone.
'For you' he said, handing me the phone. 'Says his name's Joe.'
I didn't immediately make the link. You see, I had always tended to think of Joe - the guy I caught in bed with my ex - as Joseph.
'Hello' I said.
'Hi, Andrew. It's Joseph. You may not want to talk to me but I only ask a few minutes of your time.'
'OK. I'm listening.'
'Andrew, I'm living at Martin's place these days. It's not a love affair. It's just an arrangement.'
'Joseph, it's no business of mine if you two are the greatest lovers of all time. I simply don't care. I wish you every happiness, I guess. But I don't care.
I moved on long ago. And I've no ambition to revisit ancient history.'
'That's the thing' Joe replied. 'It can never be ancient history for Martin. Whatever his shortcomings, he really did love you very much, Andrew.
He was extremely depressed and unwell for a long time.'
'But he's OK now, isn't he?' I replied. 'He's got his 'arrangement' with you. So why not just forget about me altogether? I assure you that I've managed to forget all about him.'
There was a sigh on the line. I envisaged Joseph in priestly mode, striving to forge a truce between warring parties.
'Andrew, he doesn't want to spend the rest of his life thinking you hate him as much as he hates himself. I think he'd just like to catch up with you and smoke a peace pipe.
You were lovers once, but you were firm friends too. He doesn't have a lot of friends nowadays, Andrew.
I'm hoping you might at least agree to meet with him and maybe pick up the threads of friendship.
Nothing more. He knows you're in a relationship. And he knows full well that you are deeply loyal to those you love.'
Matt was making faces at me throughout this conversation. I had no idea what he was trying to tell me. Equally, I had no idea whether it was worth the effort of trying to kiss and make up with Martin.
'Tell you what' I told Joseph. 'Leave it with me. I promise I'll think about it. And I'll run it past my partner too.'
I took down his number and hung up.
'You should do it' Matt said.
'Do what? You don't even know what he wants.'
'I can guess' was Matt's response. 'Martin wants to catch up with you. He wants to patch up your friendship.'
'He's a snake' I retorted. 'If he's lonely and pining for old friends, then he's simply reaping the outcome of his own snakelike behaviour.'
'Well, I don't see Joseph as a snake' said Matt. 'Martin maybe, but you said that Joseph was a pretty decent guy who was probably led astray by your ex.'
We kicked it around for a while. I even asked my mother's opinion.
The general consensus seemed to be that it would be uncharitable of me to refuse to extend the hand of friendship to someone who was so unhappy and so keen to mend fences. My mother's only reservation was the need for caution.
'He's incredibly manipulative, dear' she advised. 'Just be sure you maintain a certain distance. Given half a chance, he might make trouble for you and Matthew. But one dinner party won't hurt.'
So I returned Joseph's call and invited him and Martin for dinner on the following Saturday evening.
My heart wasn't really in it, but my conscience told me it was probably the right thing to do.
The weather was fine all week and so I decided to serve dinner on the back patio. I wasn't desperate to stink up our dream home by having Martin under our roof.
Steering him outdoors - as fast as possible - appealed to me.
I was a bit shocked when they arrived. Martin seemed to have aged suddenly. He didn't look unhealthy, but he seemed to lack much of the sparkle and charm I remembered from the past.
Joseph, on the other hand, was the picture of health. Whilst not exactly handsome, he was in good shape and his rugged good looks were a dramatic contrast to Martin's pallor.
The dinner went well. Mom had made up some of her fabulous salads and appetisers for me, and I'm a dab hand at grilling steaks on the barbecue.
Matt looked after the drinks and I noticed that Joseph kept a close eye on Martin's alcohol intake. As neither Matthew nor I are hard drinkers, it was a relief that booze was not likely to spoil the evening.
Dessert was a simple blueberry sorbet. It was delicious and cleansed the palate beautifully. After that, Matt served up a cheese platter and coffee and the conversation moved from simple polite chit-chat to more direct communication.
Martin expressed his sympathy over the loss of my father and asked after my mother's health as well. He also wanted to know what I'd been up to since he'd seen me last.
I wasn't about to give him a full account of my activities. And I certainly didn't want to tell him anything about the dramas encountered when extracting Matt from the bosom of his vile and malodorous family.
So I just hit the highlights, deliberately stressing how happy Matt and I were and how wonderful our life was.
In return, Martin told me about his own struggles with booze and depression. To his credit, he acknowledged what a pivotal role Joseph had played in his recovery.
'But I miss you, Andrew. I'm hoping we can all be friends. Bury the hatchet. Kill the fatted calf.'
'Well, Martin' I began. 'Mathew and I already have a large circle of friends. I'm not sure we have a vacancy right now. And besides ...'
At this point, Matt - who had been quiet most of the evening - felt an urge to intervene.
'He's just kidding, Martin. Both Andrew and I would be pleased to be friends with you and Joseph. It's true we have a lot of friends, but there's always room for more.
Surely it's impossible to have too many friends.'
I excused myself on the pretext of brewing some fresh coffee. I was annoyed with Matt.
But - in the kitchen - I was forced to acknowledge a few home truths to myself. I was being petty. I was trying to make Martin eat humble pie. I was pursuing a vengeance that was no longer necessary.
So, when I returned to the group outside, I was resolved to be a little more conciliatory.
Things were far more cordial when I brought out fresh coffee and filled up everyone's cup. I gave Matt a wink and a smile as I resumed my seat.
'I'm not sure what you and Joseph have in mind' I told Martin. 'But I don't see why we can't all catch up occasionally for a dinner or a picnic.'
The evening progressed well from there. Until, that is, Martin declared that he wouldn't mind a beer or two.
I could sense that Joseph wasn't too happy about this, but it was hardly my place to tell someone how much they should or shouldn't drink. So Matt kept Martin supplied with beer and its effect soon became apparent.
Suddenly, the old Martin was there. Talkative, telling jokes, sprinkling his famous charm on us like pixie dust. Joseph suggested it might be time to call it a night, but Martin was unstoppable.
'Let's all go for a swim' he cried.
It was a warm night. And it was not an unreasonable suggestion.
'Good idea' said Matt. 'We've got plenty of board shorts, speedos and towels in the cabana. We can get changed in there.'
'No need for that among friends' Martin said.
And, in the wink of an eye, he stripped off his clothes and jumped into the pool.
'When in Rome' said Joseph with a mischievous smile. And then he too undressed and dived into the pool.
I looked at Matt inquisitively. He simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled wryly.
'I guess we are a bit over-dressed' he said.
So Matt and I stripped off and joined the others.
We had fun in the pool. Nothing remotely sexual. Just guys horsing around. I was persuaded to set up the net so we could play aquatic volleyball. It was Matt and Martin against Joseph and me. We didn't really keep score but, after a while, I declared it a tie and said I was sitting out for a while.
I wrapped a towel around my waist and traipsed into the kitchen for some iced tea.
When I returned, Martin had quit the pool too. He hadn't bothered covering up. He sat naked, watching Matt and Joseph in the pool. I couldn't help but notice how the cold water had caused his junk to shrivel up.
But it was just an idle glance. My more immediate concern was the beer in his hand. He'd obviously discovered the stash in the cabana refrigerator.
'You haven't changed all that much, have you?' I said as I flopped into a chair.
'Don't know what you mean.'
'I mean that you deliberately engineered this naked frolic so you could see Matt naked and check out if he's circumcised or not.'
'Maybe' he said with a grin. 'Anyway, it's just a harmless hobby, Andy. I can't jettison a lifetime obsession with foreskin. It's just the way I am.'
'Well, it's look but don't touch' I warned him.
'He's very pretty' Martin remarked. 'And he has a wonderful body. You've done well, Andy.'
'He also happens to be a wonderful person' I snapped.
'And don't call me Andy. I haven't been anyone's Andy since I left you. And I don't want to be reminded of how naive and trusting I was way back then.'
Silence reigned for a while. We watched Matt and Joseph racing each other in the pool - alternate laps of freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly.
I was struck by Joe's hairiness. There was a dense dark mat of hair on his chest and stomach and there was even hair on his shoulders and back.
I'd forgotten about that, and I was surprised that Martin hadn't insisted on some waxing and grooming, but maybe he'd entered a phase where he preferred his men to be bears.
'So what's the deal between you and Joseph?' I asked; not that I really cared all that much.
'He's my minder; my carer. He keeps me from hitting the booze too hard. He organises things; the housework, the shopping, the gardening - all that stuff. He makes life less lonely.
And he fucks me whenever the need arises. It works out pretty well.'
'I'm glad' I said.
'But I've never stopped missing you, Andrew. And I wish you'd take off that towel so I can look at your junk. I've missed that too.'
'Well, you'll have to go on missing it' I retorted. 'I'm a happily married man and I'm not about to be inspected like some prize stud.
You've got what you wanted. You've seen Matthew's cock. You've salivated over his foreskin. Maybe it's time to call it a night. Before we get into an argument.'
I called out to Matt and Joe, suggesting it was getting late and time to go inside.
After our guests had showered, dressed and had one more drink for the road, Matt and I watched as their vehicle disappeared down the drive.
We went back out to the patio to review the evening.
'Well, we've done our duty' I said. "It wasn't the worst night of my life, but I'm not desperate to see them again. Not any time soon.'
'Oh, I don't know' Matt replied. 'Joseph seems a really nice guy and Martin was nowhere near as toxic as you've always made him out to be.
In fact he seems a nice enough guy too. Very funny, especially once he's had a few drinks. And he knows how to turn on the charm.'
'Trust me, Matt; he hasn't changed one jot. You've heard our friends speak of him. He's notorious in this town. There's scarcely a male between eighteen and ninety whom he hasn't propositioned and lied to.'
'Well, I think Joseph has rehabilitated him' Matt insisted.
'No Matt. He's still a snake below the surface. A rattlesnake paused to strike.'
'But Andrew, each and every day, all around the world, relationships begin and end. If we hold on to grudges forever, then we're never really free to move on.'
We kicked this around for a while, and eventually we agreed to disagree.
I think I was almost vicious in bed that night. Matt raised no protest - indeed, he seemed to enjoy it as much as I did - but I slam-fucked him with far more vigour than usual.
I was feeling angry in some undifferentiated and inexplicable way.
Perhaps I was angry at Martin for interrupting my perfect life and reminding me of past dramas.
Perhaps I was angry at Joseph for making the initial phone call.
And maybe I was cross with my mother and with Matt for helping talk me into the dinner party.
But, most of all, I was extremely disappointed in myself.
Our guests hadn't behaved all that badly. Amongst our circle of friends, there are many who like to tell dirty jokes and talk about dick size and sex. And plenty who've dealt with infidelity. I'm sure straight people do the same.
I should have lightened up a little instead of pouncing on Martin's every word.
After a good night's sleep, I felt much better about the night before. I apologised to Matt.
'Sorry if I was grumpy last night. I was just a bit discombobulated by Martin's sudden reappearance in my life.'
'Whoa. Discombobulated, eh? You're in fine form today. And I'm glad you feel better about things because I have a confession to make.'
'Oh God' I groaned in mock horror. 'Let me guess. You've fallen in love with Joe's luxurious back hair.'
'No' Matt replied. 'It's worse than that. Joseph told me they'd like to return our hospitality soon; maybe in a week or so.'
'And I told him that we'd look forward to it.'
'Oh well' I said. 'It's not the worst fate in the world. And at least we can leave whenever we want. It's harder when you're the host. You can't simply tell people they have to leave.'
And so, two weeks later, we were to dine at Martin's cottage on the outskirts of town.
I had no concerns about the meal - Martin has always been a fabulous cook - but I was a little concerned about where this renewed acquaintanceship might be headed.
With the best will in the world, I was unable to imagine a Martin Solomon who wasn't entirely focussed on Martin Solomon and his unquenchable appetite for sexual banquets.
I had no desire for him to snack on Matt as an hors d'oeuvre. Or me as an entree.
I knew Martin would have a few tricks up his sleeve. So, without taking Matt into my confidence, I developed a contingency plan.