As I drove back to my dorm, I cursed Trent under my breath. After all that I had given to him, my heart, my love, my body...I couldn't fathom what he was thinking. "Maybe he was just giving me what I wanted before leaving for the Marines. Maybe that was a 'goodbye' present." My broken heart had limped from here to there on crutches after he deserted me. And, I knew it would never be whole again.
To make matters worse, he was married. And thinking back to that night, there was no way that a woman could satisfy him the way I had. However, in the end, forsaking the sex, the mind-shattering orgasms and the passion we had between us that night, there was a bond between us...one that I fully believed could never be broken.
I'd remained celibate for much of the year and five months since that incredible night. Being in college, it wasn't always an easy feat. The beauty of the men that surrounded me was damning. And even the good-hearted ones that tried to reach me were met with a wall that encased my broken heart. On occasion, I would let them suck my dick or shove their faces down into their bed while I fucked them relentlessly. I wasn't stupid...I was just meeting my need. However, after each and every encounter, I was left sickened at myself. I would try to excuse what I had done, basing it on some altruistic purpose for my loveless sexual encounters. But in the end, as I'd lie down at night, I would think about him...the one that had broken the unbreakable bond.
Mom had called me every week since that fateful Sunday dinner to make sure that I was coming home for Christmas. I didn't want to. I had other options. My dorm mate, a guy that I frequently fucked with frustration, wanted me to come home with him. He was from the Bronx and constantly boasted about the beauty of the world's most amazing city at Christmas time.
Jon was a good guy...he was tall and muscular, his olive tone rivaled that of all of the farm boys' tan in the area. His dark brown eyes and jet black hair was more than sexy could describe when mussed and tussled by one of our late night fucks that were fueled by my rage and disgust. His brilliant smile, the ink that covered most of his back, his chiseled jaw...it was all magnificent. Yet, that fateful night in early December when he told me he loved me turned my heart to stone.
Any other man would have been proud to call Jon his lover, his soul mate, his boyfriend...for me, it disgusted me. I had heard "I love you" before. But, that was a road that I would refuse to go down again. For now, Jon was a fuck buddy...a warm hole that was willing to be what I wanted, when I wanted. He wanted so much more and tried desperately to get it.
"Pat, what can I do to get to you? I...I love you," Jon had said.
"I don't want to do this, Jon. I'm going home for Christmas, end of discussion." I stood there packing my clothes as he reached his arms around me and began kissing my neck. "We aren't an item, Jon. I'm sorry...I know you want more...but, it just won't work"
"Pat, I can be what you want, baby. Just tell me what I need to do..." his voice cracked under his words.
I zipped my suitcase and grabbed the duffle bag on the floor slinging it over my shoulder. "Jon...there's only one thing you could do...be him." I walked out of the room, leaving Jon in a mess.
I loved the two hour drive north from Tuscaloosa to home. The small communities that were on Christmas display. The lights, the hurried families, the stillness as snow fell silently and gently. Spring Valley was a beautiful sight to see in the snow. And, all the while, I still cursed him under my breath. "The liar, the deceiver, the fake...how could I have been so stupid," I often thought.
As I pulled onto our road, I remembered the paths that led into the woods that we often ran in the Spring, the cliffs that were further up the mountain that we would climb, and the stream on the back of our property that would swell into a perfect swimming oasis because of the April showers and storms. We'd go there so often and talk and dream and encourage...it was on the banks of that stream that I first realized that I loved him as more than a mere brother.
I pulled into the driveway and found no one home. Mom and Dad had gone to the airport to welcome Trent...and his wife, Kelsey. I was asked to go, but a welcome home was not in my repertoire these days. I loathed being here...being chained to the memory of what I so longed to escape.
I journeyed up the stairs to the first door on the right and remembered the night in the hallway, the dim light, and the mammoth brother cowered at my door. I entered my room and remembered him standing at the fish tank, which was now gone. And, as I sat my bags on the floor and lay down on the bed, looking at the ceiling as I so often did, I remembered him lying beside me, sound asleep. The memory of the warmth of his skin, the fresh scent of his body wash and aftershave balm, the slow gentle breathing...yes, it was all still there.
As I turned onto my side, my eyes met with a picture of us together on graduation day in our black gowns and gold honor cords. Our arms were around each other, posing for yet another picture that day. And the picture was placed in a frame that was gifted me by the deceiver himself...a frame he had made in art class back in sophomore year, a wood frame with perfect carving in its wooden surface. My eyes blurred with tears as I read the words again and again and again and again until I finally muttered them into existence, "An Unbreakable Bond."
I awoke an hour or so later as the commotion down stairs began with voices and shuffling. And as I lay there, I was reminded of the first time I met Trent...the day of the engagement party. I wanted to get up and leave and go anywhere. I couldn't stay here and watch him fawn all over his princess and pretend like nothing had ever happened between us.
I reached for my phone and texted a few friends that I was in town, frantically trying to come up with an excuse to leave when there was a knock on the door. My heart jumped into my throat fearing the confrontation that I wished to avoid. However, it was Dad coming to wake me up. After a few minutes and some responses from old friends wanting to meet up for dinner, I went into the bathroom and got ready to head out...all the while knowing I would have to eventually head down stairs and face it all.
After grabbing my coat and heading down the stair, I saw him standing with his back to me in front of Mom's gorgeous tree. The room was deserted and quiet. The lights were low and the glow from the fireplace and Christmas décor danced with enticement. He stood there, straight as an arrow in parade rest in his Marine utilities, still broad and god-like as I had remembered. His hair was short and faded neatly in the back that accentuated his thick neck. My heart fluttered and stirred like it had before that fateful day we met.
The landing creaked underneath me, giving away my presence. And as he turned to face me, his beautiful smile, his eyes...those goddamned brown eyes...they melt the ice around me heart in an instant. His crooked grin said everything that I'd hoped it would.
"Hey, Pat...you look great...brother." The light danced in his eyes, glassy from holding their tears.
"Thanks, man. So do you," I whispered, breathless at his presence. I stepped off of the landing and took a step towards him and he took a step towards me. My mouth was dry, cotton-like, as I neared him. Within just a few steps of each other, he stopped and held out his hand. I grasped his hand, the warmth of him sending shockwaves to my very core. His grip was firm, assured, safe, and strong. "Welcome home," I said under quivering breath. I longed to hold him.
"Oh how wonderful!" Mom exclaimed as she, Dad and Kelsey entered the room. "Kelsey, you wouldn't believe what close brothers these two are...perfect brothers. Rick and I were and are so proud of them."
"Oh, yes, yes. I've heard," Kelsey replied as she approached me. "I'm Kelsey," she said reaching out to me for a hug. As she wrapped her arms around my waist, Trent dropped my hand with an eerie force as I hugged my sister-in-law in return. "Trent's told me so much about you. Talks about you incessantly. It's nice to finally meet you."
"Likewise," I muttered as I tried to genteelly end our embrace. "I hate to run, but I've got somewhere I need to be. If you'll excuse me."
"But son, we were going to have such a lovely dinner catching up," Mom said disappointedly.
"Yeah, Pat....don't...go." Trent muttered.
"I'm sorry. I made plans with some friends...and, I don't like to break things like PROMISES." I glared at Trent as I finished my sentence. "I'll be back later, Mom. Kelsey...it was nice to meet you. Dad, still going hunting in the morning?"
"You bet, son," he said with a slap on my back.
"I'll see you later, Pat," Trent said in a muffled tone. I walked out without even acknowledging his words.
I met some friends at a restaurant and enjoyed the company, the stories and memories we relived over dinner. And as we laughed and carried on, we all made the solemn vow that most break when we offered promises to "do it again soon" and "to stay in touch." I drove out to the Rail Road Bridge that jutted out over the water and walked its length in the bitter cold, not yet ready to return home.
When I pulled into the driveway, I noticed Dad's shop was lit and decided to go in and offer to help him thinking he was preparing his gear and guns for our annual hunting trip. Every year on December 23rd, he and I had made the trek through the back acreage of the property...more often than not coming back empty handed. There were plenty of deer to have been taken down, but it was more of a bonding experience than anything...a chance for us both to stay grounded in our relationship, to laugh and cut up. There had never been a better Dad than Rick Michaels.
As I walked to the shop, with the slight crunch of snow beneath my feet, I found myself looking up to Trent's room and noticing the light was off assuming that the two of them were engaged in some twisted sexual frenzy that made me ill to ease. I opened the door to the shop and was met by the warmth of its heat and ushered myself in and closed the door.
"Hey, Pat..." Trent said as he sat in the recliner watching TV. He was no longer in his utilities, but instead was in one of his old high school track sweats and t-shirt. The Marines had done him well. His arms had gotten much bigger; his chest seemed even broader. His shirt clung to every inch of him.
"Oh, I thought Dad was in here. Good night." I started for the door and had begun to pull it open when from no where Trent had leapt up and slammed it shut in front of me.
"Pat, you can't keep running away from me." Trent said as he lowered his head trying to establish some form of eye contact.
I began to chuckle. "Like you did? Who the fuck do you think you are, Trent?! You left me, like I wasn't anything but trash on the ground. You went off and left me behind. You took my heart and crushed it beneath your fucking feet! And then, to top it off, you bring that pretty bitch here, the one that says 'He talks about you all the time' and want to pass off what we had down to a simple hand shake? No deal, buddy. You think for just one second that me and you will ever be square again, that we will ever be more than acquaintances. You made a promise, Trent...a bond that can't be broken is what you called it. Broken, destroyed, and forgotten, I suppose..." I looked at him as he stared at the floor, my scolding hitting him hard with obvious damage inflicted with each of my words. "Fucking say something!" I shouted.
His brown eyes looked up at me. "I'm sorry...that's all I can say...I'm just so sorry, Pat."
"Hmmm, that's twice you've said that, Trent. So, what are you sorry about? For leading me on? For giving me hope that there was mutual feelings there? For having sex with me? For letting me fuck you and giving you the time of your life? What is it? Dammit! I'm so sick of this. You know, I'm a good guy. And, I'm gay...that's who I am. And there are guys out there that like me, love me in fact! Just the way I am. I don't have to be anybody but Patrick.
That's what it is, isn't it? I'm not good enough. I don't fit into the perfect All-American lifestyle you want. That's why you ran off to the Marines...not some humble notion to serve your country...but, because you had to prove you're still a stud. A man. An alpha male. And that was a little too hard to prove with my dick in your ass, huh? So, when that didn't work...when you were probably looking at the other studs in the showers, you decided a girl was the answer. Enter in the unknowing wife. Let me guess, you always fuck her from behind and make her play with your ass. Right? RIGHT??" I furiously heaved my words at him. "And all you can say is 'I'm sorry.'"
His eyes bore into the floor as I shoved past him to get to the door when he grabbed my arm, swinging me back in front of him before landing on my lips with his. I pulled back for a moment, unsure and unsteady in the second of it all, but my body's inhibitions were suddenly gone as we kissed each other with all that we had, exploring each other like new lovers for the first time.
He pushed me up against the wall, pinning me under his weight as he tugged at my shirt, trying to gain access to my chest and stomach. I pushed his hands away, stopping him in his tracks. His eyes opened and looked into mine, disbelieving. "What are you doing, Pat?"
"I'm stopping this." I said, breathing heavily. "You're married...I'm going to honor that...so should you. " I settled myself back on my feet, out of his arms and straightened my shirt. "I'm going to go."
"Pat, don't do this...I need you," he said.
I reached for the door knob and looked over my shoulder. "No you don't. You had me, Trent, and you let me go. You don't let go of what you need. You don't break the bond unless you want it broken." With those words lingering in the air, I could hear him behind me choking back the tears...they echoed within the steel and concrete of the shop. I opened up the door and noticed the snow had started to fall again as I ventured back into the dark, cold night.
"Let's stop and rest here for a minute, son." Dad propped up against the tree with his rifle balanced on his shoulder. He pulled out a flask from the chest pocket of his camos and threw it to me. "Go ahead, it's tradition. Have a bite." In fact, it had been tradition...this yearly hunt was the cause of my first drink four or five years back. Just one drink of whiskey was all I was given, but the rite of passage was resounding for me.
"So, Pat, what's going on with you these days? How are things?" Dad was always a good listener and had a sixth sense of when he needed to talk to his sons.
"Schools good, grades are great...can't wait for spring practice to start up." I said as I shuffled the fresh snow on the ground with my foot.
"Well, that's good, son. But, well, I'm talking about you, Pat...the real you. I've been noticing a huge change in you since college began. Is it because you miss your brother?" He asked.
"Dad, it's a lot of things. I missed Trent...but, now, I don't know. I can't explain it."
"Patrick, I know it hurt when he up and left you. And, even though he is your brother, it's obvious that the two of you are so much more than that. You're best friends...or were. I noticed last night that there's an enormous void between the two of you. And, son, I can't help you fix it. It's none of my business...but, what I can tell you is not to let that void be the root of your own demise. Forgive him for what he did. Forgive yourself...and then move on."
We each took a swig from the flask before putting it away and continued on our trek through the back of the property. At almost 350 acres of land, we milled about the woods aimlessly, continuing our conversation on life and dreams and goals. Things were typical on the overcast day until Dad stopped me in my tracks when he asked, "So, have you found a fella yet?"
"What are you talking about, Dad?" I felt my cold and flushed face surge red.
"Aww, son. C'mon. I'm your Dad...I know you. I've known for awhile." He reached for me and placed his hand on my shoulder. "I love you, Pat. And as long as you're happy, I'm happy."
"Does Mom know?" I asked.
"Yes, she knows. She figures it's that good-looking kid that you room with. But, I told her that I figured it was someone else." Dad started to smile.
"Is that so?" I asked becoming a little more relaxed reassured that I still had their love and support. "And who might that be, Dad?"
"Trent," he said coolly.
"But...I..." I stammered over my words.
"Look, buddy. It's okay. You're mother and I knew that the two of you connected on a level that was so much more than simply brothers. And, though I admit that your mother and I never intended for any of it to happen, we believe everything happens for a reason. Guess that's why all of this is a lot on you, huh?" He reached his arm out for a hug. "It's gonna be okay, Pat. Love comes swiftly. Trust me."
We walked in silence for the rest of the hunt, not even really looking for something to shoot at. And as we returned to the house, Trent sat on the back deck overlooking the yard. "Go talk to him, son. I know he's hurting too." Dad broke away to the shop as I made the long trek back to the house.
Trent sat on the back deck and looked out at the snow covered trees with his foot propped up on the banister. He lit a cigarette and exhaled gently, encircling himself with smoke.
"Those things are gonna kill you, you know?" Kelsey said coyly as she found a seat next to him. "Did you talk to him?" she asked.
"I tried, Kels...he wouldn't have any of it. He unloaded on me before I could even begin to explain." He took a long drag as he looked over at her. "I really fucked all this up. You know, I should be playing ball and going to school. I'd still have Patrick in my life. I'm such a fuck up."
"No, sweetie, you're not. You love him...and you were scared. It's okay to be scared. Just because you are a big guy doesn't mean you don't have a normal-sized heart. You ran...you made a mistake. I want to ask you one question, though. If you love him, why are you sitting here with me instead of trying to get him back?" Kelsey laid her hand on his arm.
"You know, that last night we were together...that was the best night of my life. And, like a fool, I was ashamed of letting it happen...making it happen. He didn't try to have sex with me...I lead him to it. And after it was over, I laid there with his arm around me completely torn. I felt complete...and I felt like I had let the world down...Mom and Dad would have died to know what we did. So, I ran. And then in boot camp, the urge to look at other guys was just too much. All of them started saying stuff about me and making my life hell.
When I met you, you saved me from that and offered me the cover I needed to survive. I am so thankful for it. But, Kels, now I'm just living another lie...and I've lost my best friend, my brother...the love of my life." Trent wiped a tear from his eye and took another long drag from his Marlboro.
"Then that's why you've got to tell him...you've got to let him know the truth. Forget what the world says. It's like that song says, "Love who you love with all that you have...love who you love and say that you do...hold on as tight as they'll let you. Trent, you've got a choice here...make the right decision." Kelsey stood up and moved behind him, kissing him on the crown of his head. She leaned down and whispered in his ear, "I know you'll make the right decision...our marriage might be fake, but our friendship is as real as it gets." She walked inside leaving Trent in the bitter cold.
Trent flicked the cigarette butt off of the deck and reached for another when he saw Patrick and Rick emerge from the woods. He lit another cigarette, his hands shaking frightfully, unsure if it was from the cold or his nerves. He studied the titanium ring on his left right finger...at how it still glistened and shimmered on the most over cast day. He reached into his coat pocket, fumbling around and pulled out his fist. He opened it slowly and admired an identical titanium ring in his palm. The beautiful circle that had no end...and remembered the words "An Unbreakable Bond."
TO BE CONTINUED...