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The Talon House

If By Chance


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If By Chance

Chapter Eight

By Nick

I guess one of the best things about the day and age we happen to live in is the gift of booking a room online and getting a bargain. Rooms at The Watergate Hotel don't come on the cheap, but I paid a lot less than I expected for a suite overlooking the Potomac. Gerald and I left work early on Friday, just after the clock struck noon, and started our weekend. I got up early on Friday morning, knowing that the odds of finding a decent room anywhere in DC on such short notice was going to be a chore, but was pleasantly surprised to find a terrific room for a terrific price. I used my American Express to book it without thinking twice, then I went to the Pro Flowers website and ordered a bouquet of roses for my boyfriend before shutting the PC down.

When we got home, I told Gerald that I was expecting a package and asked him to wait for it to arrive while I drove into the city to meet with Donald Fasola. I went to my appointment, signed the papers Donald wanted me to sign that basically said that I was willing to cooperate with the FBI and the Department of Justice in the course of their investigation. While nothing was set in stone, it was implied by Donald that I would receive full immunity if any evidence of impropriety against me was uncovered as long as I was completely honest and truthful in my statements to the government. My knees were literally knocking as I signed the sworn statements, but Donald's assurances that I was doing the right thing, and that I was going to be protected legally, gave me the strength and courage to follow through.

Pulling out of the parking garage, I completely forgot that Donald had validated my parking ticket and wound up paying the three dollars for parking. I cursed a little under my breath when I realized what I'd done, but I also chalked it up to my nerves. I pulled out onto the road and felt like the loneliest man in America as I drove into the cold Autumn afternoon. I turned left onto my street and smiled as I drove passed my neighbors' homes. Everyone's yards were covered with a thick layer of leaves, and so was the street. In fact, the only part of the ground not covered in leaves was a single pathway in the center of the road, where cars regularly passed back and forth and created a clearing.

Dusk was upon us, and as it crept in, the houses all glowed warmly. I pulled into my driveway and noticed that Gerald left the garage door open for me so I could pull straight in, and I wondered if he got his flowers. I hadn't gotten a call from him on my cell, but then I realized that it was probably because I had my phone turned off while I was in Donald's office. I was about to get out of the car when the Gerald walked out of the house, a huge smile on his face, and made a beeline for my door. I opened and it and got out just in time to be greeted with a sweet kiss and a long hug.

"I take it the package came," I said, taking his hand and walking toward the door. He simply sighed and rested his head on my shoulder. When we got inside, the flowers were sitting on the table in a beautiful crystal vase that came free with the order. I didn't realize that it was going to be so nice, especially given the fact that it was free.

Given Gerald's mood that evening, though, I probably could have stolen the roses from a neighbor's yard and put them in a cereal bowl for him, and it wouldn't have mattered. He was all over me, and it was all I could do to keep my pants up as we made our way upstairs to the bedroom so I could tame my tiger. I'd always known Gerald to be an affectionate lover, so seeing such an aggressive side of him was quite foreign to me, and to be honest, vey arousing.

When we finished, I was worn out. Gerald fell asleep almost immediately after I presented him with my seed, and I couldn't help but smile as I watched his chest move up and down. My stomach was growling, though, so I carefully extracted myself from his embrace and slipped out of the bed, trying not to wake him up.

If I had to pick one convenience that I enjoy more than any other, I'd have to say that it's the miraculous salad in a bag. I always keep one on hand just in case, and as I stood nude in front of an open fridge, I realized that I was facing my "in case." I took the bag out, checked the date, grabbed the ranch dressing, cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese and bacon bits, and carried them all to the counter, where I combined all of the components of my salad in a medium sized bowl and topped them with some salt and pepper before I dug in.

I was halfway through my dinner when a very contented looking Gerald came downstairs and joined me at the table, taking the fork from me and attacking what was left of the salad with reckless abandon. I sat still and watched with amusement as he hungrily took bite after bite, obviously not concerned with decorum at the moment. When he saw me watching him with a grin, he blushed a little and with a full mouth, he said, "Sorry babe. I was starving."

He shared what was left of what was originally my salad with me, feeding me bites of it while he chewed. When the salad was gone, we decided we were still hungry, so I made us a can of clam chowder and topped our bowls with oyster crackers. After supper, we went back to bed at my urging, mainly because I knew we had to be up by five in the morning if we were going to get to DC with enough time to go see the sights.

Our drive to DC was uneventful for the most part. Aside from a few stops along Interstate 95 to use the restroom and a trip through the Starbuck's drive thru in Fredericksburg, we had a straight shot into the capitol. Gerald and I talked on the way up about what we wanted to do the most, and we decided we'd go to the Kennedy Center and Georgetown University, then walk around and visit the shops. Unfortunately, by the time we made it off the beltway and to our hotel, the sky split wide open and a torrential rain ensued.

I've stayed at the Watergate many times in my life. Most of the time, it was the company that put me up there when I had to travel to DC for business at the corporate office. There's really no such thing as a lousy room there, but I haven't always been wowed by my room either. I knew it was petty, but a few times I wound up with a room that had a view of the street. This time, though, I made sure I booked a room with a panoramic view of the Potomac. I wanted this to be a special trip for Gerald and me, so I was glad when I was able to find the room I did.

The look on his face when we pulled up to the hotel was priceless. We pulled up and a female valet parked the car while a very cute bellhop took our luggage. We went to the desk and checked in, then we were shown to our room. I could tell that the atmosphere was more than Gerald was accustomed to, and I smiled because I had plans to make this a weekend he'd never forget.

When we got to our suite, Gerald gawked and I couldn't help but chuckle.

"Wow, babe," he exclaimed, walking my way as the bellhop put our bags away. "I've never been in a hotel this nice before."

"Well I wanted to do something special for us this weekend," I told him, reaching for his hand with a smile. "Now we just need the rain to let up."

"It might not be such a bad thing if it doesn't," he said seductively, wagging his eyebrows for effect. "I think I could get lost in a room this big."

I glanced over at the bell hop, who didn't seem to be paying attention to us or anything we were talking about, and let go of Gerald's hand long enough to fish my wallet out of my coat and produce a twenty to tip him with. I handed him his tip and was rewarded with a very bright, very charming smile and a polite "Thank You."

It's funny; in a large suite, alone with my boyfriend, I could have done anything. I mean, in reality, there was nothing stopping us from ripping our clothes off and going at it for as long as we wanted. I was certainly up for the task, and I could tell by the way Gerald was clinging to me that he was in the mood, too.

Yet somehow, instead of giving in to the fires of passion that seemed to be engulfing us, we shared a long kiss and in the midst of it, migrated to the large window, where we sat side by side, hand in hand, Indian style on the floor and gazed out at the magnificent Potomac River. It looked so majestic, yet so treacherous at the same time. With the rain falling as hard and steady as it was, I wondered to myself what would happen if the river were to rise above its banks. Would Washington DC be washed away? I guess it was a possibility, but not a probability.

"It's beautiful," Gerald said listlessly. "I could just sit here and watch it forever."

"Yeah me too," I said, tightening my grip on his hand.

"It makes you think, you know?" he said, still gazing out at the rolling tributary with a look of wonder in his eyes. "All of that water is heading back down to the Chesapeake, and we probably see it every day on our way to work and don't even realize it."

With that, he took a deep breath and leaned over so that his shoulder was up against my arm and his head was resting on my shoulder. I carefully wrapped my arm around his back and rested my head on top of his, inhaling the clean scent of his hair and wondering to myself what the hell I ever did in my life to deserve someone like Gerald. With the palm of my hand resting on the small of his back, I was able to keep track of his breathing, and I felt like rejoicing every time he inhaled, then slowly exhaled. As if time were sitting still, right next to us on the floor of our suite, I knew I was where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

"Gerald, don't be mad at me," I begged him as we packed our bags. "I'm sorry for how I acted."

"I already told you I'm not mad," he said shortly, and I knew he was still pissed.

"Then why won't you talk to me?" I pleaded, inciting a sharp, incredulous look that I knew I deserved. "Will you at least listen to what I have to say?"

Fighting with Gerald was something I hadn't counted on when we left for our weekend in DC, but somehow, that's how our weekend was shaping up. It was all my fault, too. I really don't have much of an explanation for what I did, either, because there was no call for it. I just got so frustrated, and for whatever reason, I took that frustration out on the one person who did nothing wrong.

On Saturday, when the rain never stopped, I found myself mildly irritated that our plans to go sightseeing fell through. We decided not to let it spoil our weekend, though, and ordered room service for lunch. Well, that didn't go as planned, either, because Gerald's halibut was fishy and I was less than pleased with my lamb. I wanted to send everything back, but Gerald talked me out of it. Instead, we decided we would go out for the night and find a gay club.

We hailed a cab and wound up in the Dupont section, at a club called The Apex. There were some leather guys hanging around, but for the most part, it was a place for twenty-something and thirty-something guys to go drink and dance. We were having a pretty good time, and I drank freely because I knew we'd be taking a cab back to the hotel. It didn't take me long to get a good buzz going.

Well, while I was dancing with my boyfriend, someone came over and said something to him that I didn't like. Something to the effect of, "Nice a**." I felt a little pushed out of shape, but I paid it no mind and didn't let it ruin the good time I was having. A little later, when we were seated at a table, the same guy walked over and tried to talk to Gerald, and this time, I'd had enough.

Now, it might be because I was a little drunk and feeling brazen, or maybe it was because I was genuinely pissed off at this punk trying to push up on my man. I'm not totally sure. What I do know, though, is that I got up and in no uncertain terms, told him to get lost. I could see that Gerald was uncomfortable with the situation, but there's a line you don't cross, and this idiot crossed it.

At that point, it was after midnight and Gerald said he was ready to go. I felt bad, mainly because I knew that it was probably my fault that he wanted to go, but I acquiesced. As we were walking out, though, that same prick passed by us and blatantly spilled his drink on my boyfriend.

Now, I'm far from a fighter. In fact, to be honest, I'd never been in an actual physical fight in my whole life. I'd never thrown a punch, and I don't think I'd do it right if I tried to. What I can do, though, is get back at someone when they piss me off. Before I even had a chance to think about what I was doing, I snatched the glass out of his hand and promptly splashed his face with what was left of his drink.

"Dennis!" Gerald exclaimed, grabbing my arm and rushing me out of the bar before I could witness the aftermath of my handiwork. I didn't care for the forceful way he was pulling on my arm, so as soon as we were out the door, I roughly jerked away from him.

"What the f**k is your problem?" I shouted as soon as I was free of his grip.

"Babe your drunk," he said pointedly, walking toward me and trying to take my hand, but by that point, my adrenaline was flowing, fueled by the alcohol I had flowing through my veins. I pulled away from him again and went on a long, ugly verbal tirade that I honestly have almost no memory of. I remember telling him something along the lines of, "I don't need this s**t," but that's about it. The next thing I knew, we were in a cab and I was spinning out of control.

When we made it back to the hotel, Gerald got me up to the room and put me to bed. When I woke up, he was already up and in the shower. I sat up and as my memory of the night before came back to me, I panicked. When he got out, I was quick to try and make amends, but it was obvious he was in no mood to make up.

"Are we at least going to get some breakfast?" I asked, and he just sighed and looked down at his suitcase, taking stock of what he had and making sure he wasn't forgetting anything.

"Are you going to get ready or what?" he asked shortly. "I want to get the f**k out of here."

"Sweetie I'm sorry," I said again, not knowing how to get through to him. "What do I have to do?"

He gave me a long, reflective look, his eyes full of hurt, and I knew I'd messed up bad the night before. I just had no idea how bad.

"I thought you were going to beat me last night," he said sadly.

"I'd never hit you, sweetie," I swore, and his only answer was to slump down on the bed and put his head down in his hands. I moved to the bed and sat down next to him, wrapping an arm around him as I listened to him sob, then I pulled him close to me so he could put his head on my shoulder and get all of his sadness out.

"There's something you need to know," he said into my neck. "I have to tell you something. It's not going to seem like such a big deal to you, but to me, it's important."

"You can tell me anything," I told him, tightening my embrace. The degree of guilt I felt at that point was immeasurable. Here I was, in a hotel room with the man I loved more than life itself, and I had done something to reduce him to tears. Pain was the one thing in his life I never wanted to bring him, and yet I had done such an effective job of it.

What a jerk.

I think the hardest part of learning what Gerald had to endure as a boy was the look on his face and the tone in his voice when he relayed to me how hopeless he thought his situation was.

"There was nowhere for me to go," he wept. "My mom wouldn't leave, and I couldn't do anything to stop him. Watching him beat my mom was the worst thing I think I'll ever see in my life."

"I'm so sorry sweetie," I said, tears streaming down my cheeks because I knew that there may never be a way to heal his scars.

"One night he came and got me out of bed," he said, tearfully hiccupping over practically every word. "I was thirteen, and he was beating my mom in the kitchen. I could hear it, but I was too afraid to do anything, so I just pretended to be asleep. But he came in my room and turned my light on. He made me go look at my mom, to see what he did to her."

With that, he brought his knees up to his chest and buried his head between his legs, sobbing hard. I wanted with every ounce of my being to go back to that night and do something to protect him and his mother from the monster that he called dad, but I knew it was impossible. This was the real world, and Gerald had real memories of his mother taking real beatings from his father.

"When I was fourteen, he went to anger management for some reason," he told me, looking up at me with bright red, puffy eyes. "I don't know the exact reason why, but I always hoped that it was because she told him she would leave if he didn't. It got better for a while, but eventually, he started hitting her again. Then he went back in just as I was leaving for college."

"What about now?" I asked, and Gerald just shook his head sadly.

"I don't know anymore," he said bitterly. "I'm never going back to that house for as long as I live. I promised myself that I'd never let anyone do that to me. I'll live in my car first."

At that moment, I closed my eyes and made a promise to myself that no matter what the circumstance, I'd always treat Gerald right. I could have promised him, but I knew that it meant more to promise myself. I carefully wrapped my arms around my boyfriend and pulled him in as tightly to my chest as I could, silently praying for a way to kiss the scars on his souls until they were all gone.

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