Ash and Ember

Ash and Ember - Chapter 14: Family Ties

Chapter 14: Family Ties

01 December 2018, Saturday 9:04 AM

Grant set his jaw. "I don't want to talk right now, Brian." Grant reeled from his secret getting out to Troy's friends. "I'm sorry. I just don't want to talk."

Grant heard Brian sigh. "Dude, I'm the one who's sorry. Look, Troy's upset. And I hate to lay this on you, but that worries me. Can I come in, just for a little?"

Grant made a quiet, anguished sound. He took a breath, then he turned. Grant unlocked the door, then he walked down the hallway into the living room.

Brian heard the lock, and he tried the door. He opened it, and soon he stood at the entrance to the living room. Grant flopped in his armchair, and he stared at his feet.

Brian walked to the couch, and he took a seat. He was silent for a few beats, then he took a breath. "Okay. First, you shouldn't blame Troy for this. And second, none of us care if you're gay. We're all pretty happy about it if it makes Troy happy."

Grant closed his eyes. "It's not about blaming anybody." He tried to figure out how to say how he felt. "It's, that, you guys knowing makes it something real. It's something I've got to deal with now." Grant's face was slack. "I just wasn't ready. I'm not ready."

Brian nodded. "Okay. Well, I can't pretend to know what it's like. But you've got a group of people who won't judge you for it." He grinned. "We'll judge you plenty for other stuff, but not for this."

That elicited the tiniest smile from Grant. Brian continued, "Grant, look man, we're all really protective of Troy. We almost lost him, and you brought him back to us." Brian hung his head and wrung his hands. "We owe you for that. And I'm really sorry that we've not treated you better."

Grant frowned and looked at him. "You guys have been nothing but great to me."

Brian flinched. "Well, you say that, but this was kind of a test. To see if we, ah, approved of you and Troy." He shrugged. "Not that it means anything if we didn't. We just wanted to be sure you're a decent guy, you know?"

Grant knew better. If Troy's friends didn't approve of him, then their relationship was on rocky ground right off the bat. Grant rubbed his face. "Well, I'm sticking this landing, aren't I?" Grant stood up, and he began to pace. He bit his lip. "Troy's upset?"

"Yeah." Brian shook his head. "This is my fault. I shouldn't have set this up."

Grant stood, his hands at his waist and he took slow lungfuls of air. He felt his mind calm a little, and he began to prioritize. 'Troy's upset. You need to fix that.' "Okay. Let's go back over." Brian's head came up, his face was hopeful. Grant glared at him, and he pointed a finger. "NO MORE. Okay? No more meddling. If you want to know something about me, then ask. Deal?"

Brian stood up. The big man took a step and put out his hand. "Deal."

Grant shook it. Then he turned toward the door. "This 'Firefly' better be good."

"No danger there." Brian smiled and followed Grant back outside, and over to the Davison's.


01 December 2018, Saturday 9:12 AM

Troy sat on the couch. Georgette was right beside him, and she held his hand. "I'm sorry!" She made a contrite face. "I just asked if he wanted to sit beside Troy."

Aaron gave her a long-suffering look, and he shook his head.

Troy looked down at his knees. "I should have just told him. I should have told him you guys knew. He was blindsided."

Natalie took a seat a few feet away. "Well, he knows we don't have a problem with it, right? I don't really understand why he's upset that we know."

Troy shut his eyes. Coming out was such a hard thing to explain to people who didn't go through it. But he was going to try. "Okay. So, imagine you were told, your whole life, you were supposed to have blue eyes. And you look in the mirror, and there, you see blue eyes. Now there's a group of other people out there with green eyes. There aren't many of them, and they're sort of tolerated by some, accepted by others, and rejected entirely by a few." He took a breath, and he opened his eyes. "Well, one day, you're looking in the mirror. And you realize, you're wearing contacts. And under those contacts are green eyes. You have a choice now. You can decide to fake it. You can decide to fit in and avoid the trouble you see the green-eyed people suffer through. Or you can take them out and live your life how you were born to live it."

Everyone in the room stared at him. Aaron blinked. "Uh, wow." He frowned. "Okay. So what you're saying is we took Grant's contacts out for him. Before he was ready."

"Yes. Exactly." Troy started to continue, but he was interrupted when the door opened.

Grant walked in, his eyes down. He looked like a man who had been sentenced to walk a plank. Brian was right behind him.

All of the friends stood up and went to him. Troy watched with a slightly worried expression. Aaron stepped in front of Grant, and he put both of his hands on Grant's shoulders. Grant looked at him, his eyes a little unsure.

Aaron smiled a little at him, then pulled him in for a hug. "Sorry, bro." He patted Grant's back. Then after a moment he pushed back and looked at Grant again. "We sort of pushed you into things, and it wasn't cool of us to do that to you."

Grant bit his lip, and he looked around at the faces gathered. Everyone had an earnest, friendly expression. "You guys really are okay with this?"

They all nodded, and a few smiled.

Troy stepped beside Grant. The tall man put his arm around Grant's shoulders, and Grant leaned into him. "I'm sorry, Grant."

Grant took a breath. "Well, I guess this sort of evens things out. I contacted Brian without you knowing." He set his jaw and nodded. Then he looked up at Troy. "It's okay."

Georgette looked back and forth between them, her hands clasped in front of her. "Now, kiss!"

Aaron threw up his hands, and he walked away.

"What?" Georgette glared at his retreating back. "We're all thinking it!"

Natalie made a face and nodded. "Okay, this time you're right."

Grant rolled his eyes. Then he grinned, and he stretched up. Troy met him and gave Grant a gentle kiss. He felt Grant smile as their lips pressed together. Georgette made a happy, squealing sound. They separated, and they both chuckled.

Brian's warm hands went on their backs. "Okay, guys. You ready for some Firefly?"

Aaron was in his spot on the couch. "Yes!"

"You okay to watch some sci-fi?" Troy looked at Grant and studied his face for his emotions.

Grant took a breath. "Yeah." He smiled, and his eyes met Troy's. "Yeah, I am."

Troy smiled. "Okay." He walked Grant over to the couch. "Aaron, you're gonna need to move over unless you want me in your lap."

Aaron shrugged as if he'd give it a try. Troy didn't hesitate, and he sat down on top of Aaron. Grant looked down at the two men, as Aaron stuck his face around Troy's trunk so that he could see the TV. "You're gonna have to feed me. I can't reach the dip now." Aaron put his arms around Troy's waist, utterly unconcerned.

"Oh, in that case." Troy slid off his lap.

Grant chuckled at them. He sat by Troy, and he looked around at Aaron. "Should I be worried?"

Aaron waved a hand. "Nah. I like my men big and thick." The redhead gave Brian a lecherous grin. "Right, Brian?"

Brian sat in the armchair while Natalie pulled up the kitchen chair beside him. He rolled his eyes. "Like you could handle this."

Troy smirked. Grant shook his head. "Is it always like this?"

Georgette laughed. "Well, the straight men haven't kissed each other yet, so just wait."

Brian sighed. "You're never going to let us forget that, are you?"

"Hey! I don't wanna forget it!" Aaron pretended to be hurt. "It was a precious moment!"

"Yeah, till you tried to put your tongue in my mouth!" Brian made a face.

"Hey, if you're gonna do it, do it right." Aaron scooped up some dip.

"And, that's why we don't play truth or dare anymore." Natalie put a hand over her mouth and laughed.

Grant grinned and shook his head. "Wow."

Troy looked at him and squeezed Grant with his arm that draped over Grant's shoulders. "Thanks. For coming back."

Grant nodded. And he gave Troy a smile. "I can't really stay away from you, ya know."

The show started. But Troy's eyes were on Grant.

The two men gave one another a smile and a quick little kiss. Then they settled in to watch the shiniest show in the 'verse.


02 December 2018, Sunday 5:07 AM

Grant's phone began to ring. He frowned, sleepy, and just awakened. Troy was wrapped around him and grunted when Grant moved. Grant picked up the phone, then he inhaled when he saw the caller.

"It's my mother." Grant rolled onto his back, and Troy scooted over a bit. The tall man left his arm draped over Grant's waist, and he watched as Grant answered the phone.

"Hello? Mom?" Grant rubbed his eyes. "What's wrong?"

"Hello, Grant. Nothing's wrong, dear. Why would you think that?" Her imperious voice was at odds with her words.

"Uh, because it's just past 5 AM here."

"Oh. Oh, that's right. I forgot about the time difference. Ah, no matter." She brushed off the fact that she woke her son without an apology. "Dear, I'm calling to have you schedule a trip home. For Christmas. Your cousins will be in town, and they so very want to see you. We'll send the money for the trip."

Grant felt his blood pressure begin to rise. "Mom, I've already got patients scheduled that week. I can't take it off."

"Oh, Grant. Have someone else take over for you that day. I'm sure other nurses can see these people."

"Mom, I'm not a nurse. I'm a PA." Grant knew his mother was aware of his credentials and qualifications. "And no, nobody else can take those patients. Most of the other providers have already scheduled the time off to be with family."

"Really? Well, isn't that nice, that they care enough to go be with those they love?" Her voice seemed designed to caress his anger, and it started to rise up - hot and intense.

Troy watched him. And Grant felt his hand gently rub his chest.

Grant swallowed and closed his eyes. He tried to calm down. "It is nice. That they've got family they actually enjoy."

"Ouch," Troy whispered. Grant was well aware his family dysfunction was on display, but he couldn't quite help himself.

His mother ignored the barb. "Yes, isn't it? Well, I don't know what to tell you about the indigents you have scheduled. But we do expect you home. Please, don't disappoint us, dear."

"Mother, I'm not going to be there." Grant gritted his teeth. "I have other plans for the holiday."

"Really, Grant?" Her voiced purred. "What could you possibly be doing, more important than seeing your family? We also have plans to discuss our Will with the attorney soon. Of course, we'd love to have you present for those discussions. But, if not, I'm sure we can work it out - without you."

The implication was clear. Come home, or be cut out of his inheritance. Once Grant realized his family controlled those around them with money, he set himself on a path to be financially independent. When he began his studies in medicine, his family immediately expressed their displeasure. Though, to cut him off then would have been seen as foul play by his mother's kin. And so, they grudgingly allowed him to continue with his schooling. But this? If he didn't go home to see family during the holidays, well, then that made things a lot cleaner for his mother.

He was so angry. This is always how it was. They still pushed and pulled on him. His parents used their money as a tool to mold those around them into the image of what it was they wanted to see.

Grant sat up in bed. "It is more important. I'm going to be with someone I've been seeing."

His mother was quiet for a few beats. "You're seeing someone? Dear, why didn't you tell us? That's wonderful. By all means, bring her along. We'd love to meet her."

Grant felt almost as if his blood would boil. He breathed through his mouth. "We're celebrating here, in Vermont, mother."

She was undeterred. "Surely the woman dating my son wants to meet his family? Will you at least tell me her name?"

The great dame of the Sexton house was unused to such a show of backbone, from anyone. And she expected Grant to fold. He knew this, and it nearly numbed his mind with rage. What he said next wasn't planned, but he couldn't have stopped himself even if he had tried. "His name is Troy. And we won't be coming to Christmas. Goodbye, mother."

Grant hung up. Troy stared at him, his eyes wide.

Slowly, Grant became aware of what it is that he'd done. "Oh. Oh god." He rubbed his face with his hands. "Oh god." He took shaky breaths, and he tried to swallow the lump in his throat.

Troy sat up with him. He didn't say anything, but he put an arm around Grant's shoulders.

Grant leaned against him. The two men sat there. Troy squeezed him reassuringly. "I don't think either of us is going back to sleep." He smiled sadly at Grant. "I'm gonna go start coffee, then I'll come back up. Okay?"

Grant had a shell-shocked look on his face, and he nodded.

Troy got up. Grant sat, his legs crossed, naked under the blanket. The two of them had sex again last night after the Firefly marathon, and his body still remembered the sensations. It cemented what Grant already knew - that he absolutely enjoyed sex with Troy; that he was a gay man.

Troy reappeared in the bedroom. His tall, slim body was naked, and even in his distressed state, Grant appreciated the sight of him as Troy climbed back into bed.

He hugged one arm around Grant as he sat beside him. "You all right?"

Grant breathed slowly and attempted to quiet his roiling mind. "I think it's too early to tell." He laughed.

Grant hung his head, and Troy rubbed his neck. The brown-haired man kissed the side of Grant's face. "I'm proud of you, you know."

Grant nodded. "Thanks, Troy. You're probably the only one." He raised his head, and he gave Troy a quick kiss. "Though, that also means more to me than I can express."

Troy pulled him back down, and he spooned Grant. Troy held him there, and he felt Grant relax a bit as he kissed the back of the black-haired man's neck. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, Grant. You're your own person. I'm glad you're not letting them control you."

Grant sighed. "I know. It's just hard." He chuckled. "There's also the matter of my inheritance. But I guess I should get used to the idea that I may not end up with anything."

"They'd do that? They'd cut you out because you're living your own life?"

Grant nodded. "Oh yeah." He shrugged. "Oh well. I don't need the vineyard anyway."

Troy sat up on his elbow and looked down at Grant. "What? Your family owns a vineyard?"

Grant rolled on his back and nodded. "Yeah." He suddenly felt uncomfortable. "Ah, my family is pretty well off."

Troy eyed him. "Okay, well it's none of my business." He sounded as if he tried to convince himself.

Grant gave him a cringing smile. "Ah well, I should probably tell you." Grant scratched his head. "Uh, I don't have all of the numbers, but my mother is probably worth a little over ten million dollars."

Troy's eyes bugged out in his head. "What!?" He gaped, and realization seemed to strike him. "Oh shit. Grant, no." He shook his head. "You need to call her back. Call her, right now."

Grant frowned at him. "What? Why?"

Troy got up and stared at Grant - his eyes wide, and his face pained. "You have to tell her you were just making it up." He looked panicked. "I can't be the reason you don't get ten million dollars!"

Grant stood up, and he stepped over next to Troy. He put his hands on Troy's shoulders. "Hey, relax."

Troy shook his head. "No, you can't do this." He looked almost as if he were about to cry. "You can't do this."

Grant hugged him. Troy clung to Grant as if he was a raft on a stormy sea. "Troy, once I began to defy my mother I always knew that my inheritance was in danger. That's one reason I became a PA. I knew I'd need to be able to support myself without them." He pushed back and looked at Troy. "I'm in an awesome financial situation. I have no student loans, and I've got a great career." He grinned at Troy. "I'm not worried about it. And that's why my mother is flailing around right now, trying to reign me in. Her one tool is useless." He laughed. "She's probably more upset that I defied her than about the gay thing."

Troy blinked. He shook his head. "I can't believe you're doing this." He swallowed. "Wow."

Grant continued to smile at him. "What about it can you not believe, Troy?" He reached up and rubbed the back of Troy's neck.

Troy's eyes held an equal measure of awe and realization. "That you just made me a ten million dollar boyfriend."


06 December 2018, Thursday 12:24 PM

Grant held the journal in his hand. Too much depended on his destroying it, and it was time. 'If he found out now that I've read this thing, it could end us. It could totally end us.' Grant looked up and down the clinic's hallway, then he ducked into his office.

Everyone else was at lunch, so he was going to use the time to himself well. He tried to slip the book into the shred bin, but the slot wasn't quite big enough for the thick book. He made a face, and he took it back out. "Okay, maybe if I cut off the cover."

Grant found his scissors, and he flipped the journal open to the back page. He glanced at the writing there, as he positioned the scissors.

He stopped and stared at the writing.

'That's not Troy's writing.' Grant picked up the book, and he began to read.

'Hey, baby.

It has been a couple of weeks now since we moved to Vermont. And you write in this thing almost every night. No, I didn't read any of it! So don't even get yourself riled up!

Anyway, I figure in a few years you'll stumble onto this little note. And I wanted to say a few things - things that will never change.

The first is that I love you. I love you so deep, and so much that it hurts. Sometimes when we're together, and you're holding me, I have to keep myself from crying. The emotion just wants out, you know?

Second, is that I'm so proud of you. I know your family and mine have both been pretty nasty to us. And I can't tell you how much I appreciate that you stuck with me, even through all of that drama they caused us. I guess I'm proud of both of us. That's it. I'm proud of us.

The last thing I want to tell you is that I'm never ever gonna leave you. I'm always going to be there for you. I'm gonna pick you up. I'll hold on tight. And I will be there through every dark moment you might have. I hope you don't have any of those, of course. But if you do, I'll help chase them away.

You're mine. And until the day comes that you don't need me anymore, I'll always be yours.

Forever in love, Your John

Grant blinked, and he made a frustrated noise when he felt a tear streak down his face. He quickly wiped it away. "Wow." He flipped backward from that note. There were about thirty blank pages between where Troy stopped writing and the letter from John.

'He never saw it.' Grant sagged. 'He never saw this.' Grant instinctively knew that Troy never would have burned this note. He set his jaw, and he started to cut it out. Then he hesitated. 'This paper is distinctive. He'll know it was from the journal.'

A door opened down the hallway. Grant quickly had a seat at his desk, and he slipped the book back into his bag. As Rhett entered the office, Grant silently agonized over what to do. Ultimately, he settled on simply holding onto the book a little longer.

'I can't shred the love letter of a dead man. Especially not John's.' Grant nodded at Rhett, and he pretended to look at a chart. 'I'll just have to think of something else.'


14 December 2018, Friday 3:14 PM

Troy finally gave up. He had pretended for an hour that Grant's yoga routine wasn't the sexiest thing he had ever witnessed. But eventually, he took a seat on the couch to unashamedly stare at Grant.

Grant had on those compression shorts again. And they were mind-blowingly sexy. He would periodically grin at Troy, as he slowly flowed through his movements.

After a few minutes, Troy stood up and went to the bedroom. He stripped, and came back downstairs with their lubricant, and a towel.

Troy parked himself back on the couch, spread lube on his hard cock, and he started a slow, sensual jerk off session, all while he watched Grant.

Grant noticed. "THAT is a distraction." He laughed, and he held the tabletop asana. Troy was gratified to see that Grant now had a raging erection in his compression shorts.

"Distracting enough to cut your session short?" Troy stared at Grant, and his hand slowed until it slid up and down at a maddening pace.

Grant released his asana, and he rolled up to his feet. He eyed Troy, and he peeled his shorts down, and off. Troy smiled as Grant approached.

Grant was naked, sweaty, and his body was alive with the tension of his recent efforts. The dark-haired man straddled Troy's lap, and he kissed Troy.

It was deep, erotic, and felt all-consuming to Troy. The way Grant sat on him made his hips want to move, and he allowed them to do so. They shifted back and forth in tiny, slow movements. His slick penis rubbed back and forth.

Grant broke their kiss, and he breathed heavily. Troy watched his face for cues. Grant hadn't bottomed yet, though Troy knew he liked it when Troy played with his ass. Troy used his hand, and he positioned himself against Grant.

His lover looked down at him from his spot on Troy's hips. He didn't say anything, but he began to move back and forth against Troy. Troy took that as a sign, and he began to increase the pressure on Grant.

Grant stopped moving, and he bit his lip. The pressure mounted, then the head of Troy's cock slipped inside.

Grant gave a sharp intake of breath. Troy stayed where he was, and he ran his hands gently over Grant's beautiful body. Slowly, Grant's breathing calmed, then he smiled at Troy. Troy's hips once again began their familiar motion.

It wasn't long before Troy was buried to the hilt. Grant leaned down and kissed him, and Troy started slow gyrations of his pelvis.

Grant groaned around Troy's mouth. Then he leaned back. He leaked, as Troy's cock tapped his prostate with every thrust of Troy's hips.

Troy watched Grant. Grant's brown eyes were almost entirely rolled back in his skull, and he began to make small incoherent noises. Grant's hand stroked his own penis, then his breathing started to come in short gasps.

Troy knew Grant was close. Troy picked up his pace, and then Grant took a breath and held it.

Troy grinned as Grant unloaded. Streaks of semen landed on Troy's chest and his neck. Grant's body rhythmically contracted around Troy's cock as he orgasmed, and Troy moaned. He came with a grunt, and Grant leaned down to kiss him as the orgasm wracked Troy's body and mind.

Troy finished, and he flopped back on the couch. He blinked, a bit stunned by the rush of feel-good hormone thanks to his finish.

Grant gave him his trademark, cocked smile. "Well, that was really intense."

Troy grinned. "Yep." He patted Grant's thighs, and he looked down at himself. "Uh, and messy."

"You're a good one to talk about messy. It felt like you turned a hose on up my ass when you came!"

Troy laughed. "Well, then it's a good thing it was inside you when it went off, eh?"

Grant shook his head. Then he leaned down.

They kissed one another.  Troy's mind seized on the moment.  'God, I don't want this to end.' Troy rubbed Grant's head as they kissed. 'I don't want it to end - ever.'

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

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