Journey to Love
Love on a Diving Platform
Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott
Jeremy would have had to move his jeep so I could get the car out, so he suggested we just drive it. “Where are we going?” he asked as he started the vehicle.
“Thought we could talk on the way, but this seems like a Mr. Manning situation to me,” I responded.
“Sure does. Think he’s home?”
“Yeah, I called him while I was in the library where I went to call Auntie. She, by the way, is OK with your coming. Well, she did have some concern about my falling in love with you again.”
“She’s not the only one, Derek. I guess it sounds conceited, but I worry about the same thing.”
“Not your problem, Dude,” I said.
“I’m not sure about that, Derek. See, one time when I talked to the chaplain, I said something about how much I loved you and how much I must have hurt you trying to show it by kissing you. He agreed and asked if I realized that if I crossed a line--one you drew and might not even be conscious of it being there, it could destroy our relationship. For me the kisses were just a special way I could show you how very deep my love for you as a brother goes. That’s what they were, Derek, I wanted you to know how very much I loved you. Nothing sexual. No, Derek, I’m not sure that is entirely true. I guess most of us are not entirely, 100% straight just as I’m sure very few are through and through 100% gay. That coupled with the fact that males especially are wired to show affection physically gives the possibility that a kiss can slip over a line. I’ll admit that when I kissed you it probably wasn’t pure unadulterated platonic love. Am I gay, turning gay? No, I’m sure of that. Could we ever let a kiss develop into intercourse? No, I don’t think so. I’m almost absolutely certain that wouldn’t happen. Might we cross a line that leads you to believe a sexual relationship might be possible? Maybe. I think it might be easy for you to feel more in my expression of love than exists and for me to encourage that without the intent to do so. I guess I’m not making myself very clear, but what I really want to say is, you are wrong when you say it’s not my problem. It’s our problem. And the difficulty comes from something really wonderful, our deep affection and love for each other. Any of that make sense?”
“Yeah,” I said, “it does.” We both fell silent, each in our own thoughts.
When we arrived at Manning’s place, he was standing on the deck, waiting for us. “Welcome, Derek, Jeremy. Come on up.”
When we reached him, he grabbed Jeremy in a bear hug, then me. “You know that would have gotten me fired last year,” he said. “Too bad the world has come to that point as I think a lot of kids’ problems could be solved by a hug. Come on in. Jeremy, I want you to meet Stu, my soulmate.”
After Jeremy had been introduced to him, Stu excused himself and we sat down with Manning and Jeremy sketched out the whole situation for him. He was not surprised Jeremy had decided against a military career, felt Jeremy had gotten off easy by not telling Deborah about his decision and suggested that he at least write her, which Jeremy agreed to do. After all that, Jeremy said, “Mr. Manning . . .
“Drop the mister, please Jeremy.”
Manning, you know us pretty well and we really need an outsider’s view on something.” We then told him about the possibility of Jeremy going to OCU and living in my place and why we were concerned about it.
After our talking for an hour, Manning said, “To be honest, I think it could go either way. You are about as close . . . no, closer than any gay/straight friends I have ever known. You are so close that I think one would do just about anything if he thought the other needed it. Derek, you talk about the possibility falling in love with Levi, but at the present you call him your best friend. He is not, and you know it. Or if he is, then there is another level of friendship above it, the kind of friendship you and Jeremy have. Therein lies the danger as I see it.
“There is another side to the question. Derek, you are gay and even with Jeremy around, or maybe because he is around, you are going to be looking elsewhere for boyfriend material. I gather you have a fuck buddy in Levi.” He paused and I knew expected an answer.
“Well, not exactly a fuck buddy since we don’t fuck. I guess in my mind, that’s where playing around becomes sex and I reserve that for lovemaking,” I said. “We have sucked each other, but that’s the limit.”
“Not sure I agree that a BJ is not sex, but I’ll put that aside,” Manning said. “So, at least for the present, any playing around you do will be with Levi which should take any sexual pressure off and that cannot but help keep a line between you and Jeremy, but no three ways.”
“No problem there so long as three guys are the participants!” Jeremy said.
“Had I not known about Levi and the possibilities for boyfriend materials in Norfolk compared to Stanton, I would be pretty worried about you two living together. As it is, I suspect your friendship, deep as it is, will grow deeper, but remain friendship. Just stay in touch with your feelings and make sure you communicate with each other about your feeling and what is acceptable and not acceptable.”
“There’s one thing more,” Jeremy said. “Levi is a little jealous of me.”
“Come on, Jeremy,” I said, thinking he was imagining things.
“Not surprising, Jeremy. It would take a complete idiot not to realize that any other friend plays second fiddle to you with Derek. As Derek and Levi’s relationship develops or doesn’t, that problem will solve itself unless Levi falls in love with Derek and Derek doesn’t reciprocate. In that case, jealousy would be a problem and you would likely be blamed for the lack of reciprocation, but we’re all hoping that doesn’t happen. Guys, love, friendship, human relationships are always complicated and you just have to try to be true to yourself and to those you love. And talk. Let each other know what you’re thinking and feeling.”
“Yeah,” Jeremy said, “and that means I need to write a letter.”
Manning called Stu and he came down from their loft office and we had a nice visit. Stu and Manning were definitely another gay couple which gave the stereotype of random fucking and no commitment a kick in the teeth.
On the way back to Grace House, Jeremy and I talked about the things Manning had said and agreed we were much more comfortable with the possibility of his living at Auntie’s place.
When we were all getting ready for the Midnight Christmas Eucharist, I asked Levi if he’d like to go with us and he responded, “Is religion going to be a problem for us?”
“Not unless you make it so.”
The service and music were beautiful and when we got home at 1:00 in the morning we opened Christmas presents while we had cookies and hot chocolate. It was almost 3:00 before the four of us tumbled into bed and no one was up before noon. There had been a few flakes of snow flying around when we came home, but no accumulation was expected which meant that the three inches of fresh snow was a bit of a surprise.
After breakfast, I went into Stanton and picked up Mom and when we got back, she went inside and I joined the others who had decided to build a snowman. It was to be humongous and was. We had almost reached the point where we could not roll the ball for the bottom of his body when Jeremy arrived. We were six physically fit men, so we were able to roll the snowball for the bottom of the body until it was almost five feet in diameter before we could not move it. The upper body ball was over four feet in diameter and finally we rolled the ball for the head and realized while with the help of a couple ladders, we had gotten the second ball atop the first, the headless snowman was almost nine feet high. Getting the next three and a half foot ball atop the second looked impossible until Brad brought out the tractor with a front loader and we got the ball in the loader. Jeremy and I rode with the ball and Brad’s expert handling of the loader got the ball to where we could maneuver it into position. Inside, Mom had hot chocolate waiting and it was certainly welcome.
After we had recovered from the snowman adventure, Brad said, “It’s definitely skinny-dipping weather.’’ Mom and Levi looked at him as if he had lost his mind, but the rest of us gave a resounding ‘yes’ to his suggestion. Ten minutes later we were diving into the warm pond as naked as the day we were born. We stayed in the water for over an hour and when we got back to the house, there was a message for Jeremy to call his father. After he had talked to his Dad, he came back into the living room, a huge smile on his face.
“Well, don’t keep the excitement a secret, Jeremy, Baby,” Mom said.
“Well, I had a long talk with Dad after Derek and I talked to Mr. Manning and he agreed I should apply to OCU if I wanted to. I did the application online, but certainly never expected get any response until a day or two before classes resume. Dad just called to say it was unofficial, but I was now a student at OCU and registered for next semester. Dad knew a fellow retired sergeant major in Hampton who not only had some influence at OCU, but also was a personal friend of an admissions officer. The old boy Army network went to work and things were starting to move a bit when Sergeant Major mentioned the situation to a retired merchant seaman captain. When he learned I would be living at Auntie’s, he gave her a call and asked about the situation and she told him. Dad said Auntie said she’d cash in the IOU she didn’t have to use to get you in, Derek. The captain said he had a couple he wasn’t using. The long and the short of it is I have been accepted as a second semester freshman--with AP credit, almost a sophomore--and already registered for next semester.”
After everyone had their say about the whole situation, Jeremy asked, “Derek, didn’t you get credit for your AP classes? Aren’t you just a few credits short of being a sophomore?”
“Yeah, after next semester, I’ll be two credits short of being a second semester sophomore. I’ll get those in summer school.”
“You won’t be home this summer?”
“No, I’ll still have responsibility for Auntie. While it’s no burden, really, I don’t have a free ride at Auntie’s. If I didn’t have that, I’d look for some kind of job or internship to really look into with medicine. I’m very much leaning in that direction, but I’d like a chance to get some hands-on work before making a final decision.
“So, you’ll be going back with us?” Levi asked Jeremy, I suspect thinking of the New Year’s party for four we planned in Richmond.
“Afraid not. Dad is buying a new jeep and giving me the old one. He wants it gone over and anything needing repair or replacement taken care of. It won’t be completed until New Year’s Eve morning and Dad doesn’t want me on the highway that afternoon and evening and I understand why. I’ll leave New Year’s day.” I could see relief on Levi’s face. We left the day before New Year’s Eve for Richmond and arrived in time for dinner.
Philip and Peter had prepared a wonderful meal--they had the house to themselves as Peter’s parents were on a cruise and Peter’s brother was living with his girlfriend. After the meal, we sat and talked about the holiday and I told them about Jeremy moving in with me. “What do you think of that, Levi?” Peter asked.
“Honestly? I’m not thrilled about it. Had it been my choice, I would have preferred he live somewhere else. After all, the only reason he and Derek aren’t a couple is because he’s not gay. I’ll admit it. I am jealous of the closeness the two have, but after all, I‘m the one who invited him to move in.”
“Into Derek’s house?” Philip said in an ‘I can’t believe you said that’ voice.
Levi blushed. “I did and was roundly trounced upon for doing so. I guess I was thinking I was inviting him to live in our house. Anyway, I spoke out of turn without considering the consequences and now he will be living with us.”
We talked about that for awhile and then about the next semester. Peter said, “Dad and Mom gave Philip and me a cruise for Christmas. We set sail the day spring break begins and get back the afternoon before classes resume.”
“Fantastic,” I said. “I suspect I’ll be in Norfolk for spring break.”
We went to a gay club for New Year’s. Peter had secured tickets and the promise was attendance would be limited. He had also gotten us fake IDs so we did have something to drink and danced half naked and approached being shitfaced when we finally left--by taxi--at 2:00.
New Year’s Day I awoke with a hangover and Levi suggested what we needed was cum for breakfast. “I’ve heard it’s a great hangover cure.” After some hot kissing and light stroking, we were in sixty-nine position. I was still pretty much an amateur at cock sucking, but I was learning and had an excellent teacher.
We brought each other near climax and backed off three or four times before I said, “Levi, this is it,” as I exploded in his mouth. My eruption started his and soon we were both swallowing like mad. If cum was a hangover cure, we would soon be over the one we had and could have taken care of another one.
After exchanging some passionate cum flavored kisses, we drifted off to sleep again and slept until two when Peter tapped on our door and said, “Last stroke. We’re ready to eat.”
After we had eaten, Peter took us to see some of his work at the School of Art. He was working on a project which required him to design the interior of an executive’s office. He had been given guidelines and a color scheme. He had done some very impressive sketches and was working on a model. We then walked around the campus and looked at a couple of exhibits in buildings to which he had key cards to open.
We went out for a late dinner and finally got in bed about 11:00 in time for some serious play. I discovered Levi liked to have his ass played with while being sucked and I finally ventured far enough to stick a finger inside. When I did, he said, “Derek, I’d love to have your cock inside me.” I thought we had agreed that was something well down the line. For me, it was something I wanted to save for the man I loved and, at least at this point, that was not Levi.
“Levi, I’m not ready for that. If you would like for me not to play with your ass say so, but for now, I’ll not be fucking you nor will you me.” I didn’t add, but thought, “I’ll make love, but not fuck.”
“Understand,” Levi said, but I wasn’t sure he did. In any event, that was the last time Levi suggested I fuck him and he never asked to fuck me.
We left for Norfolk the day after New Year’s, arriving shortly after noon. Eloise and Auntie were sitting down to sandwiches, chips and salad. “Care to join us?” Eloise asked and we did.
A couple hours later, Jeremy arrived, announcing his arrival with his horn. After speaking to Auntie and being introduced to Eloise, Levi and I went out and helped him unload and carry his things upstairs. There was plenty of closet and drawer space so everything was soon stowed away. He put his sleeping bag atop a shelf in the closet and he was home.
For some reason, classes started in mid-week. Before they started I found Louis and introduced Jeremy to him and asked him to check his schedule. “I don’t know who’s watching out for the kid, but I couldn’t have done a better job selecting classes myself. He’s got a great lineup.”
Classes and practice started, study groups were organized and second semester was underway. Things were going well, we had an established routine and all was good. The last Friday in February, at dive practice, I was doing great dives and Levi was looking like he had never been on a platform before. He was climbing to the platform when the coach blew his whistle and called out, “Gentlemen, we have another new man on the team.” Standing beside him was a gorgeous young man. He had a perfect swimmer’s body, but those were in abundance; after all we were at dive team practice. What were not in abundance were many other men that looked like he did. He was beautiful. “This is Telvin. He was struck down by the flu and had serious complications. He managed to do classes online, but you can’t practice dives that way. He’s here now, so introduce yourselves to him.”
Levi had climbed to the platform and was standing there, mesmerized. I sure hoped Telvin was gay because Levi had just fallen in love or at least major lust. “Okay back to work, ladies,” the coach called out. Levi stepped to the edge of the platform and, I was sure given his dives so far, this would be at best a belly buster he was so entranced. Man, did he fool me! If he lived to be a hundred, he’d never execute a better or more beautiful dive. He barely made a ripple as he entered the water, his body in perfect form.
As he crawled out of the water, Telvin extended a hand to him and said, “Damn, if you are my competition, I am doomed. Beautiful dive. I’m Telvin.”
“Ah . . . ah . . . Telvin, Telvin, I . . . I’m Levi.”
“Again a beautiful dive, Levi.”
“Yeah, Levi, what happened?” I laughed and winked. Levi blushed! “Telvin, Derek,” I said, extending my hand. “What are you up to after practice?”
“I guess I’ll look for food. I am on a high protein diet trying to build back muscle mass I lost while I was ill.”
“Care to join us--Levi, Jeremy, our housemate, and I planned on going out for dinner tonight.”
We di . . . ?” I gave Levi a kick, unseen by Telvin. “Ah, we're going to a steakhouse I know so you should have no trouble with your diet. You’re my guest,” Levi managed to get out.
“Thanks. I’d love that,” Telvin said and gave Levi a smile that, I’m sure, practically made him cum in his Speedos.
“Ladies, we are waiting,” Coach yelled and I climbed the tower. Now it was my time to miss. My dive wasn’t as much a disaster as Levi’s BT--Before Telvin--one had been, but it was not good. When it was Telvin’s turn, he did a decent dive, but I could see he lacked the power he really needed for a good push off, and I was sure that would return as he continued recovering from his illness.
Jeremy had been watching divers while waiting for practice to be over. As soon as I was in the locker room, Jeremy rushed in and pulled me behind a locker and said, “Derek, I saw Levi when he was mesmerized by Telvin. I’m your date tonight, Okay? I want to clear the way for Levi.”
“If my gaydar is working--and it seldom is--our team--diving and otherwise--has a new member and they seem interested in each other, so yeah, I’m your date.”
When the two came into the showers, they were chatting away like they had known each other for years. As soon as we were dressed we headed for Jeremy’s jeep. I pulled the seat forward so Levi could crawl in and as he did. I whispered, “Go, Tiger,” and he grinned.
I had barely settled in my seat as shotgun when Jeremy reached over and pulled me to himself and planted a quick, but hot, kiss on my lips. “Levi, you’re my GPS. Remember I’m new here,” he said as he started the jeep. Levi directed us to a nice steakhouse--not upscale, but certainly not cheap either. This was probably going to bust my eating-out money for the entire month, but I guess helping a friend on a journey to love was worth it.
We took our time at dinner, first finding out all we could about Telvin. We had been talking for half an hour before he said, “Guys, don’t get me wrong, but I think I’m on target when I say you’re all gay.”
“Okay, I don’t believe you can build a friendship on a lie. Two of us are and one is straight,” Jeremy said.
“Given that kiss you planted on Derek, I guess Levi is the odd man out.”
“Odd man?” Levi asked.
“Yeah, the straight man.”
We all three burst out laughing. “Actually, I am gay,” Levi said. Telvin looked relieved.
“But I’ve never seen a kiss as hot as the one Jeremy gave Derek unless it was twice as long.”
“It’s a long story, but Derek and Jeremy are closest of friends from high school. One is gay and one straight,” Levi said.
“Okay, Jeremy looked as if he knew what he was doing kissing a guy and Derek looked pretty surprised, so Derek is straight.”
“You sure dive better than you determine sexuality,” I said. “Jeremy’s the straight one. He’s just into kissing, so I get one occasionally.”
“And you’re comfortable with that?”
“Not at first. Now I am,” I said.
We invited Telvin back to the house and ended up talking until 1:00 in the morning. Fortunately, few juniors had 8:00 classes and neither Levi nor Telvin was one of them--we learned Telvin was transferring in as a junior from a small private college which had canceled his scholarship when it appeared he’d not be able to swim anytime soon. Levi borrowed Jeremy’s jeep to take Telvin back to his place. When he came to bed at 2:00 I thought he’d soon be sleeping elsewhere and that was fine with me.
Telvin became part of one study group, but he and Levi had several of the same classes although different sections. They frequently used the game table as a two person study group table. A week after he met Telvin, Levi asked if it was okay if we did not play around any more. I knew I’d miss that, but it was a small price to pay to see Levi’s happiness. Two weeks after that, Levi asked Jeremy if he could swap beds for the night. Jeremy agreed and as soon as the last member of the study group left, he went into the living room, transformed the sofa into a bed and made it up with clean sheets, a blanket and pillows. I guess he remembered this was my place, not Jeremy’s and asked me if he could speak to me in private.
We walked into the bedroom and Levi said, “Sorry, Derek, but I did it again. I asked Jeremy to swap beds with me without thinking about asking you if it was okay for Telvin to stay over.”
“No problem, Levi. I guess this means you’re into more than being fuck buddies.”
“Derek, I have never felt like this before. I thought people who said it was love at first sight were liars. I mean, I think Mr. Manning is great, but when he said he fell in love with Stu the first time he saw him, I thought he was at least exaggerating. I now know what he meant. When Coach introduced Telvin and I saw him, I was ready to marry him on the spot. We both have had a very bad relationship in the past and are moving carefully, but we felt the same electric charge when we laid eyes on each other. My feeling for him has grown every day. He says his for me has as well and I believe and trust him. I hope you are as in love one of these days, Derek. It’s wonderful.”
“I take that to mean yes, you are more than fuck buddies,” I laughed.
“Hell, yes!” Levi practically shouted, grabbed me, swung me around and kissed me.
I guess that night was a test for me and Jeremy, but we just snuggled together and went to sleep, a pattern we followed in the weeks ahead.
Spring break was approaching, but I had no plans since I would have to be in the house with Auntie. Levi was going to Europe, a trip made necessary by something to do with his mother’s estate. He got enough from his trust fund to take Telvin with him. Jeremy was going to Cancun with a group from OCU. A week before spring break, DeAngelo called. He had another negative HIV report as did Joe. He had won a week in a condo in Key West and two tickets down. Joe’s parents were buying his ticket and DeAngelo invited me to use the second ticket. I thought I might prevail on Eloise to be with Auntie until I remembered she was working now, executive secretary to a man in a shipping company. “Can I give you a call tomorrow?”
“Sure”, DeAngelo said.
“Good news about the HIV test.”
“Believe me, Littl' Bro, I learned my lesson, not only about safe sex, but about what sex is all about, but I’ll not complain if I get laid a few times on spring break. Talk to you tomorrow.”
I saw no hope of being able to leave so even though I thought about asking Auntie, I decided not to. She would have said for me to go ahead as Eloise would be around. ‘After all, you go to class,’ she’d say. I didn’t point out that that was never all day and I was fifteen minutes max from being home while it took Eloise half an hour at the very least.
When I went down to start supper, Auntie was on the phone. “I’ll call back tomorrow, but make it a tentative ‘yes,’” she said and hung up. “Derek, what would you do if you were free spring break?”
“Well, Auntie, I wouldn’t know how to answer that until an hour ago.” I then told her about DeAngelo’s call.
“Would you be willing for someone to use your space for a week?”
“I guess it depends, but if it’s someone you approve, of course.”
“That call was from a granddaughter who needs to do some research at the university and asked about staying here while she does it. It would be the week of spring break. If you’re for it, I’ll give her a call and tell her okay.”
“Hey, that’s great!”
“Call DeAngelo now,” she said, “before he offers the ticket to some sweet young thing.”
I called DeAngelo and he gave me the details. I was going to Key West for a week!
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