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The Talon House

If By Chance


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If By Chance

Chapter Thirteen

By Nick

"Are you hungry babe?" Gerald asked as he reached into the back seat for what was left of our picnic lunch. "There's some chicken left."

"Is there a thigh?" I asked, keeping my eyes on the foggy road ahead of me. Out of the corner of my eye, though, I could see him rummaging through the bag of food, trying to find a chicken thigh for me to have. Finally, he shook his head.

"There's a leg," he answered.

"I guess," I said, settling on the only offering of dark meat available.

"There's a breast if you want it," he offered, but I shook my head and waited for him to hand me the drumstick.

I've never been one to choose white meat over dark, especially when it came down to the breast and the thigh of a chicken. Both are meaty, succulent pieces of poultry, to be sure, but if the breast is cooked for even a minute too long, it dries out and loses any appeal it might have held for me. I suppose a fried chicken breast is alright, but I still prefer the thigh. Not that I eat much fried chicken.

Charlottesville has a really nice grocery store not too far off of the interstate called Giant. I say it's nice because in our area, there aren't too many nice places to shop. In fact, with the exception of a few select stores, we don't have any nice grocery stores. The nice stores that we do have are so outrageously overpriced that I could never justify shopping there.

One of the best things about Giant was the rich selection of prepared items at the deli. Gerald and I were on our way out of town, heading north to Luray Caverns, but wanted to pack something for lunch. I knew there'd be places along the way for us to pull off and picnic, and even though it was a foggy day, the thought of picnicking in the countryside with my boyfriend struck me as romantic.

The first thing I noticed was the roasted chicken, already seasoned and cold. The next thing I spotted was the antipasto, which looked absolutely scrumptious. Gerald told the man behind the counter to throw in a quart of large, pitted black olives and we were set. We got gas and pulled out of Charlottesville at about 10:30 in the morning. Before I knew it, we'd reached Interstate 81, and were heading north toward Harrisonburg, where we planned to stop for lunch. It didn't take us long at all to make it to our destination, and we found a park that had a perfect view of James Madison University. While we ate, we sat and talked about our respective alumni and how what we studied in college related to achieving our dreams in life.

"Did you get to study what you wanted?" Gerald asked me with an introspective tone.

"Well, in a way," I said. "I wasn't too sure what I wanted to do when I was in high school, but I think my mom and dad wanted me to do something besides finance."

"I was just pretty much told what I was going to study," Gerald said with a regretful smile.

"By your parents?" I asked, and he shook his head.

"No, mainly by my counselors in high school," he said. "My mom and dad just went along with it. By the time I got a scholarship, it was a sealed deal."

"You know it's never too late to go back, babe," I reminded him, and he took a deep breath and looked out over the campus of JMU almost longingly.

"I might someday," he said. "To be honest, though, I don't know what I'd study."

"Well what do you want to do?" I asked, and he shrugged before his listless look became a smile.

"I guess I really don't know," he confessed. "I used to always envision myself working as a travel agent."

"Really?" I asked, a little stunned by his revelation.

"Yeah," he said with a small chuckle. "I mean, it's not what I want to do anymore, but when I was a kid, I thought it was a great career plan. I always thought it would be kind of exotic for some reason."

"You want to hear a secret?" I asked him, and he nodded as I sighed and prepared to tell him my silliest dream. "When I was a kid, I used to want to be a comedian on a cruise ship."

"What?" he exclaimed with a laugh.

"It's true," I said with a grin, because the fact is, I know that the thought of a plain, crunching the numbers guy like me making people laugh for a living was ridiculous. Throw in the part about the cruise ship, and it went above and beyond silly.

Gerald smiled back at me, then he leaned forward and gave me a quick peck on the lips. Almost as soon as our lips made contact, the first raindrop fell, landing right on my nose, and I knew it was time to pack up and go. We gathered everything up and made our way for the car, and just as I was about to walk around and open the trunk, the sky split wide open, prompting us to put everything in the back seat and get in the car as fast as possible.

Talking to Gerald about things was easy lately. I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point after Thanksgiving, he really opened up to me about a lot of things, including his feelings and his dreams. If I could sum up how that made me feel with one word, it would be grateful. Because as much as I loved him, I was afraid that there was a divide between us that couldn't be bridged, and I was terrified of what that meant for the two of us.

"I thought about taking a few classes online," he told me once we were back on the interstate. "It's something I can be in control of for a change, you know?"

"What do you want to study?" I asked, and he just shrugged. "I'll just pick a major for now, then once I figure it out, I can change it."

"You know, in a way, going back to school sounds fun," I told him. "I'd love to take a few classes myself."

"Really?" he asked, and I smiled and shrugged, feeling absolutely sure about what I was saying, but having no idea why.

"Do you really want to go back to school, sweetie?" I asked, and he nodded. "Would you mind if I went back to school with you?"

"Would I mind?" he asked incredulously. "Oh my God, I'd love it. But what are you going to take?"

"When we get home, let's get a catalogue and figure it out," I suggested, and he smiled and took my hand.

It seemed like we got no further than about ten miles outside of Harrisonburg when the rain stopped. There was still fog all around us, but it was a hazy, pretty fog that didn't bother me in the least.

"What about an art class?" Gerald said, looking hopefully at me. "I've always wanted to learn how to paint on canvass."

"Let's find one," I told him. "I was thinking about a culinary course, too."

"Ooh, that sounds like fun, babe," he said. "Maybe we can take some kind of sculpting class while we're at it."

"Hmm, a semester of nothing but electives?" I said, and he blushed, batting his eyes at me in a gesture I found so irresistible.

By the time we made it off of Interstate 81 and onto Highway 211, which would take us right into Luray, the fog had thickened and for whatever reason, my stomach was rumbling. Loudly. Loud enough, in fact, for Gerald to hear it over the music and offer me something from the backseat.

Once I had my drumstick in hand, I took small bites while Gerald dug out the olives and fed them to me while I drove. When my drumstick was finished, he took the bone from me and tossed it out the window on his side, then he handed me a napkin so I could bunch it up and soak up as much of the grease as I could from my palm. About 40 minutes later, we were in Luray Caverns, checking into our room and stretching out after a long drive.

As it turns out, our Hotel wasn't too far from the caverns themselves. It wasn't exactly the nicest hotel I'd ever been to, but it wasn't the worst place, either. When I made my reservation over the phone, I made sure that the lady I spoke to understood that I wanted a nice room and not to skimp on the amenities. She assured me that I'd find everything in order and that they'd be able to help plan our day at the caverns, as well as recommend a nice restaurant nearby.

It didn't take long for me to find myself in the shower, anxious to unwind after the drive from Charlottesville. It also didn't take Gerald long to get in with me, and as I soon found out, he was in a very playful mood. He commandeered the bar of soap and wash cloth and proceeded to soap me down. As he rinsed me off, he took special care to caress my body with his loving hands, from my head to my toes, then he came back to my midsection and groin area, and gave me what he called a "special massage."

Very special indeed.

When it was my turn to reciprocate, I was sure not to disappoint. I lovingly washed his back, then I moved down his legs and all around his feet. When I made my way back up the front of his legs, I was sure to very delicately handle his family jewels, then I used both hands to soap up his manhood. When I was certain he was on the verge of exploding, I let up and worked a rich lather on my hands before spreading across his torso and under his arms.

By the time I made it to his neck and the top of his shoulders, we were face to face, gazing into each other's eyes, silently communicating our needs to one another before we allowed our lips to meet. In no time at all, we were locked in a powerful kiss that made my knees weak, and I knew that there was nothing I wanted more at that moment than to finish what I'd started when I was soaping down his throbbing manhood. Instead of using my hands, though, I licked and kissed my way down his body, seemingly competing with the streams of water that were coursing along his skin, through the defined ridges of his tight chest and abs, looking for a dry place to plant my lips and leave my own trail of moisture.

At some point during my passionate frenzy, I wound up on my knees, anxiously gripping Gerald's engorged manhood with both hands, wanting to make love to this Adonis in the most intimate way possible. When I accepted him into my mouth, I took special care to service him the right way, letting my tongue and the muscles in my throat work their magic. I used my hands to fondle his dangling sack and trap the strands of hair it had growing from its nether region between my fingers.

In no time at all, Gerald was spent. Instead of standing up, though, I rested on the floor of the shower, my back against the wall. The water was raining down on me, and sitting there felt right, especially when my boyfriend leaned against the opposite wall and slid down. He crawled over to my side of the shower and practically collapsed in my arms, where we cuddled and let the water hit us from above, then cascade off of our bodies.

When we left Luray Caverns, we took a back road that wound through the Shenandoah and took us through Culpepper. I'd always heard of Culpepper growing up, but these days, it's most notorious for being the town where Christopher Reeves was paralyzed from the neck down in a terrible equestrian accident.

In reality, there's not much to Culpepper, Virginia. A few stores, a couple of inroads and a breathtaking view of the Shenandoah Valley make up this small community, but there'll always be something about the place that haunts me. Not because of what happened to Christopher Reeves, either.

No, most of it has to do with the conversation I had with my boyfriend as we passed through the small town. We were marveling at the older homes that lined the streets, commenting on how cute they were and what a perfect retirement spot the town probably was. Out of the blue, he brought up the one subject I'd been waiting to hear about all week long.

"Peter wants me to call him," Gerald told me matter of factly.

"Is that what the letter said?" I asked, and he nodded solemnly.

"I'm not going to do it," he said. "I don't know what he wants, but there's no way I'm calling him."

"I think it would be a good idea to tell Donald about the letter," I said, and Gerald gave me an uneasy look.

"What's going to happen if we do?" he asked.

"He'll most likely advise us on what to do and notify the justice department," I said, and Gerald shifted uneasily in his seat.

"Why don't we just ignore him?" he said quietly. "He's just trying to start trouble."

"We can do whatever you want, sweetie," I told him, trying to soothe him but honestly not getting his nervousness at talking to Donald about the letter. "But I honestly think it would be best if we at least mentioned it to Donald. Just to see what he thinks."

"Okay," he agreed, but it sounded almost as if he were giving me some sort of a concession.

"Babe, is there some reason you don't want Donald to know about the letter?" I asked softly, and he sighed, then he looked down.

"I just think Peter wants to start trouble," he said. "It's fine."

"We don't have to tell him if you don't want to, babe," I conceded.

"Let's just think it over, okay?" he said, and I reached over and took his hand.

"I love you, Gerald," I said.

"Love you too, Dennis," he answered, giving my hand a firm squeeze, but I couldn't help but detect a look of distress in his eyes that betrayed his otherwise confident smile.

"Junior college?" Gerald asked inquisitively as I presented him with the catalogue I'd picked up while I was out.

"It's not junior college," I corrected him. "It's called community college."

"Well it's not a university," he said, and I rolled my eyes sarcastically.

"Babe, we're talking about taking art, cooking and sculpting," I reminded him. "We can go to a University if you want to, but this is so much more practical."

"Yeah, you're right," he agreed. "I've never been to a community college before."

"Well to be honest, neither have I," I told him. "We can always transfer to a four year when we're ready."

"Okay," he said with a smile. "So do we want day or night classes?"

"It's up to you," I said. "We're pretty much working around your schedule."

"Let's do something in the early afternoon," he said, and I nodded as he flipped through the pages.

Finding the classes we wanted to take was easy, and so was registering. We went right online and signed up with our credit cards, then we went to the campus and got our parking decals and student ID's. I felt like I was eighteen all over again as we strolled through the student store, looking for our books and any other necessary items for our courses. I couldn't resist the temptation to buy a number of sweatshirts and hats while we were shopping, and even though we could have found them cheaper off campus, we got backpacks there too.

On the way home, we stopped at Barnes and Nobles for a periodical that I was subscribed to but accidentally let my subscription run out. I already sent in my card to re-subscribe, but didn't want to miss the December issue. While we were there, we ate lunch at the Starbucks Café in the back of the store. I had a Hot Grande Mocha and Gerald got his usual, a Venti Mocha Frappuccino, and we both had Panini sandwiches.

On the way home, Gerald sang me a song he learned in pre-school about sandwiches, and I couldn't help but laugh. It was so cute, and at the same time, it was hilarious to see how serious he was when he belted out the tune.

"Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine, I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time," he sang. "I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch. If I had a hundred sandwiches I'd eat them all at once."

"That might have been the funniest song I've ever heard," I said, and he looked almost offended.

"Are you joking?" he said. "It's one of the best songs ever."

With that, I threw my head back and laughed as I made my way out into an intersection to make a left hand turn, just as someone to our right ran a red light and slammed on his brakes, causing his car to slide right at us at a blindingly fast rate of speed.

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