Ash and Ember

Ash and Ember - Chapter 16: Approval

 Chapter 16: Approval

31 December 2018, Monday 5:49 PM (New Year's Eve)

Georgette took off her scarf and hung it beside the door on the coat rack. It was snowing, and even though it was before six o'clock, the world was already turning dark. Still, it was warm and welcoming inside Brian and Natalie's home.

The party didn't officially start until six, but her husband had a severe aversion to being late for anything. So all of their friends and family knew to expect them early, no matter what.

"Hey, Georgette!" Natalie grinned at her. The women met in the living room, and they hugged in greeting.

Georgette valued Natalie so much. Though all of this small, tight circle of friends accepted Georgette exactly how she was, Natalie was a woman. And they could relate to one another on a different level.

"Hey, Nat!" Georgette smiled when they separated.

Aaron was busy holding a bowl of hot baked beans with bacon while getting a far too friendly hug from Brian. The women laughed as Brian forced his hips against a squirming Aaron's pelvis.

"I'm gonna drop this, you pervert!" Aaron tried to be gruff, but he laughed as the big man pressed far more than was socially acceptable against him.

"Brian better watch it. Aaron will just kiss him again." Georgette shook her head.

Brian finally stopped sexually harassing Aaron, and he stepped over to hug Georgette. "Hi, Georgette." He grinned, his gray eyes were full of mischief. "Your husband is playing hard to get."

She giggled. "He does that sometimes. It just makes me want him even more." Aaron shot her a glare as he walked to the kitchen.

Brian pursed his lips and nodded.

"You two stop it. Or the redhead is off the menu for both of you!" Aaron announced from the kitchen.

"Wait, you're on my menu?" Brian grinned, then he inhaled, about to say something else. At that moment, another knock came. "Hold that thought." The big man disappeared down the hallway to answer the door.

Natalie shook her head. "You have to wonder why the straight men only rub up on each other."

"Because it'd be weird!" Aaron came back into the living room and waved his hands. "I can't give Troy a kiss. That's gay!"

Troy and Grant walked in, and Brian trailed behind them. Troy gave Aaron a bemused look. "Have you been drinking already?"

Georgette rolled her eyes. "Nope. That's my husband, stone cold sober."

Grant laughed. "I don't think I wanna know."

Georgette watched as Grant greeted everyone, then he took his and Troy's contribution to the party into the kitchen. They planned to have dinner, hang out, and then hit midnight at Brian and Natalie's place. Grant made a cornbread recipe he'd found. It was hard to believe, but Grant claimed he never really cooked before he met Troy. Now, he kept trying various recipes, and everything he made turned out delicious.

The house smelled amazing. The roast chickens were just about ready to come out of the oven, and Natalie joined Grant in the kitchen.

"You need help, Nat?" Grant asked.

"No. Thanks, though." Natalie opened the oven and she removed a couple of delicious-looking, herbed chickens. "Grab your drink of choice, and have a seat at the table."

Georgette stepped behind Natalie. "What are you drinking, Nat?"

Georgette poured herself a glass of chilled sparkling cider from the fridge, and Natalie looked over her shoulder at Georgette's drink. "Oh, white wine, please. Let's start there. Thanks, Georgette!"

Natalie used a couple of pot holders and she picked up the tray that the chickens baked, and now rested on. Then she made her way carefully to the dining room and held the hot metal away from her body. Georgette poured her wine, and she followed after Natalie.

There was a little shuffling about as things were situated and moved at the table. Georgette noticed with a bit of an inward giggle that Aaron took a seat away from Brian. Her husband narrowed his eyes at the big man, and the two made faux-angry faces at one another.

Georgette took her seat beside Aaron. She happened to be across from Grant, who also had acquired a couple of glasses of wine for himself and Troy.

Natalie disappeared back into the kitchen. Soon the table was set, all the food placed, and the black-haired host could sit and relax. Georgette leaned forward and grinned at her. Aaron sat between them, but that didn't stop Natalie from picking up her glass to toast with Georgette.

Brian looked over the table, then at all of the assembled friends. "All right. We're ready to eat. Everything looks great. Dig in, folks."

They all served themselves and affably passed beans, a green salad and cornbread around to waiting hands. Georgette got herself a serving of dark chicken meat, and she looked over the table at Grant and Troy. Grant leaned over, and he put his face at Troy's ear. He smiled as he whispered, and Troy's face shifted to a beatific smile. Then Troy turned, and the guys gently kissed. It was quick, but it was adorable.

'Man, they are so good for each other,' that was her thought. But what came out of her mouth was what she knew her friends expected of her. "Uh, Grant. You're gonna make Brian jealous if you keep kissing on his man crush."

Grant blushed, and Brian looked around Troy at him. After a moment, he shrugged. "Nah, it's fine. "You're just keeping him warmed up for me."

Troy guffawed. "If I waited for you to put out, I'd be an old maid!"

Aaron snickered. "Well, I don't know. He was pretty interested in rubbing up on me earlier."

Brian rolled his eyes. "Did I have a boner? No. So it doesn't count."

Aaron was mid-drink and almost choked on his wine, and laughter erupted around the table.

Natalie wiped her eyes. "Okay, just so I understand - it's not gay if you're not turned on?"

Brian pursed his lips in thought as the others snickered. "Yeah, that works."

Grant shook his head. "Wow. You guys are really comfortable with each other."

"Too comfortable!" Georgette made a face. "Some days Brian gets more action from Aaron than I do!"

Aaron flushed beet red, and he put a hand over his face. "Wow."

Similar banter continued, and they all ate their food. As the meal proceeded, Georgette began to get nervous. It was almost time, and she didn't want to screw it up. She nervously sipped her sparkling cider. But, even with her nervousness, she continued to notice the little moments between Grant and Troy.

'Grant really likes him. He's taking care of Troy first - refilling his drink, getting him a napkin. Really focusing on our Troy.' This time, she let her observation go without an embarrassing announcement about it. Even she had her limits. Instead, she only watched them here and there as they ate.

They all finished up. Troy, Aaron, and Brian all gathered dishes and they went to the kitchen. That was the rule - if you cook the other partner cleans. It worked well. And it left Grant, Georgette, and Natalie at the table.

Grant sat back in his chair. "Oh god." He rubbed his tiny little belly that was hidden under his button-up shirt. "That was so good. Everything was good."

"Yeah. Your cornbread and Georgette's beans went together really well." Natalie sighed with contentment, and she took another sip of wine. "Tasty stuff."

Georgette laughed. "Too tasty!" She rubbed her own belly. "My stomach is so big, it's going to crush the baby." She realized what she said, and instantly took on a mortified expression.

Natalie nodded, took a sip of wine, and then she started. She swallowed quickly and turned to Georgette, her eyes as big as saucers. "What?!! You're pregnant?!!?!"

Aaron made a sound of surprise in the kitchen, and he pelted into the dining room. He stood there, looking at Georgette, a mix of hope, and shock on his face.

Georgette made a noise of frustration at herself. Then she gave Aaron a watery smile. "Husband, I have something to tell you."

Aaron blinked, utterly dumbfounded. He and Georgette had been trying to have a baby for a couple of years. And it never seemed to go far. Georgette carried the pregnancy through the first few weeks, then she would have a spontaneous abortion. They were scheduled to see a fertility specialist next month. Though, what Aaron didn't know, was Georgette canceled the appointment once she got past the five-week mark. She was now further along than she had ever been. And she kept it a secret for as long as possible. But, her and secrets didn't get along.

The rest of the friends surrounded Georgette's chair. "Wow! Georgette, that's awesome!" Brian grinned at her. "Congratulations!" All of them knew of their struggles. And all realized what a tremendous thing it was for them.

"Thanks. I'm just six weeks along, but this is the longest I've ever gone." Georgette didn't see Aaron in the faces that were around her, and she stood up.

The friends parted, and Aaron was still rooted in his spot. But now he streamed quiet tears. "Awww. Come here." Georgette's own voice wavered, and she felt herself tear up. "Come here."

Aaron stepped close. He gazed down at her. Then he knelt in front of Georgette. His arms went around her waist, and he put his forehead gently against her belly. His eyes were closed, and tears continued to run down his cheeks and off of his chin.

Georgette put her hands on the back of his neck, and she smiled down at him. "You're gonna be a dad, Aaron."

As the two had their moment, the others stepped in. One by one, each placed their hands on Georgette, and on Aaron. Quiet murmurs of congratulations, and happiness, and support flowed.

And as she held her overwhelmed husband, Georgette had only one thought, 'I'm the luckiest girl in the world. I really am.'


31 December 2018, Monday 11:54 PM (New Year's Eve)

Grant smiled at Georgette and Aaron. The two sat on the couch. Aaron gently stroked Georgette's hair, and she blinked slowly as she leaned into him. It was late, and she was tired. She struggled to stay awake for the new year, but it was a toss-up if that was going to happen or not.

The redhead softly kissed her head. And Grant saw his mouth move as he whispered something to her. Georgette smiled. Aaron continued to stroke her, and his eyes held so much love and regard for Georgette.

"They're pretty sweet," Brian said. The man had stepped up beside Grant, and after Grant glanced at him, they both looked back at Aaron and Georgette.

"Yeah, they are." Grant smiled, and he took a satisfied breath. "That's awesome news - the pregnancy."

"Yes." Brian nodded and took a drink of his wine. The big man had moved on to red wine instead of white. "They're going to be amazing parents. They've wanted this for a long time."

Grant answered with a nod. He could sense something was on Brian's mind, and he looked at the man. "Wanna get a refill?"

"Yeah. Sounds good." Natalie and Troy chatted at the dining room table, and Grant followed Brian past them into the kitchen.

Grant picked up the red wine. He motioned at Brian and Grant began to pour the wine for him. "So, what's up, Brian?"

"Heh." He looked down into his newly-filled glass. "I'm that obvious, eh?"

Grant grinned, and he shrugged. Brian eyed him and gave Grant a smirk. Then Brian took a drink of wine, and he exhaled. "Okay. Well, I wanted to say that I'm thrilled you're here. I'm glad you're in Troy's life."

Grant wet his lips, and he nodded. "Thanks, Brian. I appreciate that a lot."

Brian nodded in response, but then he looked a little uncomfortable. "Look," his voice was very low, so there was no chance anybody else could hear them, "back when we first met, and I asked how you found out Troy lived in the house? Well, you said his name was on the loan docs. And a week after we met, I did a little digging on it. I know for a fact that his name wasn't on the loan documents. Troy told me it's why the bank wouldn't work with him."

Grant felt as if his stomach had dropped out from under him, and he swallowed. The blood drained from his face, and he suddenly felt as if everything was about to unravel. "Brian, I …"

Brian shook his head. "No. Just hold on." Brian set down his glass, and he put his hands on Grant's shoulders. "I don't know how you knew he lived in the house. But, after watching you guys over the last few weeks, I've decided that I don't need to. And, unlike Georgette, I can keep a secret when I want to." He gave Grant a small smile. "You're good to him. And that's what matters." He squeezed Grant's shoulders slightly. "Do you love him?"

Grant reeled. But he nodded.

Brian's smile grew. "I thought so." He pulled Grant in for a hug. "Welcome to the family, Grant."

Grant tried to recover his wits. "Ah," he patted Brian's thick back. "Thanks, Brian. Really."

"You're welcome." Brian released him, and he picked up his glass. He checked his phone. "Oh shit, only forty seconds until the new year!" He strode quickly into the living room.

Grant followed in his wake, a little shaken. Brian could have wrecked, or done considerable damage to his new relationship with Troy by forcing him to reveal how he knew Troy had lived in the house. But, he didn't.

Georgette, Aaron, Troy, Brian, and Natalie all gathered in a circle in the living room. They left space for Grant beside Troy, and he stepped into his spot. Brian watched his phone, then he started to count.

"Ten, nine, eight, seven," Brian held up his glass, and the others copied his motion, "six, five, four, three, two, one!" All of them took a drink. Then Grant felt Troy grab the back of his neck, and as soon as he lowered the glass,  all of the couples kissed one another.

Grant felt Troy smile as they kissed. Then the taller man leaned back and gave him a warm grin. "Happy New Year, Grant. I'm glad you're mine."

Grant smiled back. He still processed the conversation with Brian, but he tried hard to appear as if nothing was amiss. "Same to you, Troy."

The friends all chatted a bit more. But it was late, and time to head out. Troy had stopped drinking, apart from their final toast, and he took the keys from Grant. As they prepared to leave Grant looked at Brian.

The man stood, his arm around Natalie's shoulders. When Grant's eyes met his, Brian gave him the tiniest nod. On his face was a sure and confident smile.

'He thinks I'm good for Troy.' Grant smiled back. "Goodnight, guys." He waved, and then he and Troy exited.

'Let's hope it stays that way.'


14 January 2019, Monday 7:12 PM

Troy was tired, but he was happy. He pulled up in front of the house and sighed. It had been a long day, and he had to do some running around, but the three little jobs he did today totaled up to over $900. He turned and looked at the welder strapped in its spot. In two weeks, it had paid for itself multiple times over. Now that he owned one, he could more readily take jobs requiring metal-work.

Troy got out of the van and stretched. His back popped multiple times, and he grunted. He had to put himself into some weird positions to get to some of the work needed. 'Maybe I need to take Grant up on his yoga lessons," he thought as he gathered his more expensive tools, and especially his new welder to haul inside.

Troy put away his things in the garage, then he came inside through the interior door. Grant was nowhere to be seen, but Troy could smell something savory. He let his nose lead him into the kitchen.

He had already given Grant a heads up that he'd be home late today. Troy knew he'd be hungry, so in addition to a lunch, he took a package of peanuts and ate them around four PM. But now, he was running on empty.

There was a plate set aside with a paper towel on top of something. Troy removed the towel. Under it were four rolled crepes. They looked to be filled with eggs, cheese, and bits of bacon. Also on the plate was a little ramekin of hollandaise sauce.

Troy's mouth watered and he picked up the plate. He heard a door, and Grant came down the stairs. It looked as if he had just showered, and he wore a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Grant smiled as he entered the kitchen. "Welcome home, Troy."

Troy grinned. "Hey. Thanks." Grant stepped close, and Troy enjoyed a kiss with him. Then Troy looked down at the plate. "Thanks for dinner. Smells and looks great."

Grant followed his gaze down to the food. "I wanted to try crepes. They're not that hard to do. I'll probably make them again." He made a face. "The hollandaise was harder."

Troy sat down. "Well, I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy all of it." He picked up his fork, and he rolled his shoulders. Troy made a face as he did.

"You sore?" Grant stood behind his chair, and he put his warm hands on Troy's flannel covered shoulders. He squeezed lightly, and Troy inhaled.

"I guess I am." Troy sat and let his neck relax. Grant rubbed his shoulders and his neck, and goosebumps rose on Troy's skin.

After a couple of minutes, Grant patted Troy's back. "Eat. Then I'll give you a backrub."

Troy grinned. "I still owe you one, for your Christmas present."

"Oh, I've not forgotten. And I will collect!" Grant laughed, then he headed for the stairs. "Eat up, and I'll set things up to give you a nice massage."

Troy happily started on his crepes. They were filled with an egg, pepper jack, bacon mixture, and he drizzled the sauce on them as well. He took a bite, and he closed his eyes as he chewed. 'Holy shit, this is good.' He continued eating, and he could hear Grant moving around in the living room.

He finished eating his delicious meal, and he stood up to wash his plate. Grant re-entered the kitchen, and he took the dishes from Troy. "Go upstairs, get naked, and then come back down."

Troy smirked. "Naked, eh? I like the sound of that."

"I thought you might." Grant turned to the sink. "Go on. I'll be down here waiting for you."

Troy did as he was directed. He went to his bedroom, stripped, then he walked back downstairs. He stood in the living room and looked at the nest Grant had built on the living room floor. In front of a crackling fire, layers of blankets and sleeping bags were spread out. It appeared both a little homey and comfortable. Though, the bottle of massage oil beside the assembled layers promised something else entirely. Troy's skin tingled with anticipation, and he felt the first stirring of an erection.

"Get comfortable. On your belly." Grant stood in the kitchen, and he dried his hands on a dishtowel. He smiled easily at Troy.

Troy nodded, and he settled down in the pile of soft layers. There was a pillow under the top layer, and Troy sighed as he rested his head on it.

He heard footsteps, then the sound of material as it slid off of Grant's body. First, his t-shirt hit the floor beside Troy, then the shorts followed. Grant then settled in and sat his naked rear on top of Troy's left hamstring. "Am I too heavy?" Grant wiggled his butt. "It's not uncomfortable, is it?" He asked, and Troy felt Grant's warm hands on his back.

"No, you're fine. This feels nice." Troy shifted his hips a little to accommodate his now-erect member. His body already anticipated much, based on Grant's proximity, and from their positions.

Grant sat back, and he rubbed massage oil between his hands. Then his slick, patient fingers gripped Troy's trapezius muscles. Troy let himself go limp, and he groaned as Grant squeezed.

"You're pretty tense." Grant began to knead Troy's shoulders and neck, and Troy's eyes fluttered closed under Grant's ministrations.

Grant had a real understanding of the body, thanks to his medical training. Though most of it was theory and learned through books and memorization, he could still translate that to the real world. Grant focused on muscle insertion points, and his fingers worked along their entire lengths, and where they met joints.

It made for a mind-blowing massage. It was very technical, little creativity involved, but it still sent waves of goosebumps up Troy's spine. He lay there and groaned as Grant worked.

Slowly, Grant worked his way down Troy's back. By the time he reached Troy's rump, they were both hard. Troy felt Grant's dick slide around on his back as Grant moved.

Troy took a moment and checked himself. "Uh, we should get me a towel." His hand came away sticky with precome. "Things are a little messy underneath."

Grant chuckled, and he handed Troy a hand towel. Troy placed it under his pelvis then he lay back down.

"You like this position?" Grant leaned down to whisper in Troy's ear, and his voice had a husky edge.

Troy nodded, and Grant lay on top of him. He buried his face at Troy's neck, and he kissed the side of Troy's face. Grant's hips began to move, and his cock slid up and down against Troy's rear.

"We can roll you over if you want," Grant said, and he continued to grind against Troy. "This seems a little selfish to me. I want you to get off."

"I like it." Troy swallowed, and he wet his lips. "I want it this way."

Grant didn't ask twice. He positioned himself against Troy, then he began to push.

Troy's body was good and ready for him. Every ounce of him desired Grant, and he pushed back against his dark-haired boyfriend. The entry was smooth, thanks to the liberal amount of oil on the both of them, and due to the patient and thorough bodywork by Grant.

Troy moaned, and Grant slowly inserted himself deep into his lover. Troy felt as if Grant's cock was inside his own, as the nerves from his prostate fired from the stimulation and contact between them.

"Ah god." Troy gasped. He turned his face, and Grant kissed him. Grant's pelvis began to move - back and forth, in slow, sensual gyrations.

Troy could tell that Grant tried to make things last. The dark-haired man stopped moving, and they continued to kiss one another. Troy pulled his lips back. "I want you to come this way."

Grant grinned. "That won't be a problem." He started again, and Troy dropped his head back to the pillow. His mouth hung open, and Grant's movements made Troy's pelvis rub against the material under him. There was an absurd amount of stimulation from the towel beneath Troy, and from Grant's dick inside him.

Troy began to feel the familiar sensation of an impending orgasm. "Ah shit." He pushed back against Grant. "Don't stop. Go, go hard."

Grant obliged. He pushed deep, then back out, almost entirely, then again in long, forceful thrusts. Grant's breathing picked up, and Troy felt it, hot and moist against the back of his neck.

Troy made a desperate, and needful sound. "Ah, fuck. Ah. I'm …" He couldn't quite get the rest of it out, and Troy grunted. He began to come in time to Grant's hips, almost as if he were being milked by the action of Grant's cock as it rubbed against his prostate.

As Troy writhed under him, his sphincter squeezed itself around Grant's penis. In true fashion, Troy felt Grant stop breathing, and his body seemed to seize up in a muscular contraction. Then Grant's hips shot forward, and he let the air out of his lungs in a rush.

Grant unloaded inside Troy, and he panted as he continued to push his cock into the tall man. Eventually, he let his body relax, and Grant lay on top of Troy - his entire weight limp and his breaths audible as he lay with his face against Troy's shoulder.

Troy grinned under him. "Mmmm. THAT was nice."

"You got off? I thought I felt that happen when things got crazy tight." Grant kissed the back of Troy's neck.

"Oh yeah. Wow. That has never happened before." Troy sighed. He was content to lay right where he was.

"Good." Grant gave him one more kiss, then he pushed up and back, off of Troy. The skinny man made a face as Grant's penis slipped out of him. "I bet there's a real mess under you."

"Oh yeah. I can feel it." Troy sat up, and the towel was stuck to his front. He laughed and peeled it off of himself. "Uh, wow. Yeah, that position worked really well.  I came a lot, even for me!" Troy wiped to clean up his belly and his groin.

"I'm glad you liked that." Grant wrapped his arms around Troy from behind as they both knelt.

Troy smiled, tossed the moist towel aside, and he put his hands on Grant's arms. He leaned back into Grant's embrace, closed his eyes, and he exhaled - deeply satisfied, indescribably happy.

'Hang on to him, baby.'

Troy's eyes opened at John's voice. He swallowed, and he breathed through the emotion from the moment.

The two men sat that way for some time. When they finally stood up, Troy thought back at John's voice, 'I'm going to try. With all that I've got, I'm going to try.'


Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts about the chapter at the following email address link.   Wayne Gray

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