Ash and Ember

Ash and Ember - Chapter 15: The Only Gift

Chapter 15: The Only Gift


21 December 2018, Friday 5:19 AM

It wasn't often that Grant woke before Troy. But this particular Friday Grant found himself awake before the birds, before the light of dawn, and before his lanky boyfriend.

They lay in Grant's bed, and Grant spooned Troy. It had been a week since Grant had first allowed Troy to top him. Since then sex was a variety of positions, sensations, and incredible moments. And Grant found it all stoked a deep, primal part of himself.

He rubbed his face against Troy's skin, and he inhaled Troy's scent. Troy carried a masculine smell - something borne only of work done by a healthy male body. Grant craved it now. Troy was a part of his life in a way that no one else had ever been.

Troy was slowly putting on weight, and his body was beginning to fill out. His arms, legs, chest and back all added mass. His fat stores also filled in a bit. Though he was still far from what anyone would call "fat." Yesterday, Troy happily proclaimed that he was back up to 172 lbs. In about five weeks of good eating, and steady manual work, he added twelve pounds of mostly muscle to his frame. Grant also noted Troy's rear had a little more meat on it. Which made him take notice anytime Troy wore his Carhartts.

As Grant thought warm little thoughts, Troy made a sound of distress and he twitched - deep in a dream. Grant pulled him close against his chest. "Shhh. It's okay. I've got ya." Troy swallowed, and his breathing slowly calmed again - never entirely awakened. There were terrible dreams in Troy's world. Grant could understand that. He had been through a lot, and he'd lost much. All Grant could do was hold him, whisper sweet things, and be present in his life.

While Grant held Troy, he agonized over the journal. He had tried to find a way to allow Troy to see the letter from John and avoid the inevitable backlash from the knowledge that Grant read the journal. Grant already decided that he was done reading entries. Now that they were a pair, it felt like such a gross and terrible violation of Troy's private thoughts. And it gave him a power he shouldn't have had over Troy's life. He knew that. And a part of him hated that he had used the journal to say and do the right things to ease the way into Troy's world.

That said, Grant was reasonably sure, given enough time, they'd be right where they are now. IF they had ever met. That was the kicker for him. Without the journal, he didn't know if he ever would have found Troy. And that alone made the feeling of guilt he had over reading the journal a little easier to deal with.

But, there was a real risk Troy wouldn't understand. Grant knew if their situations were reversed, he would have some real trouble with things. He tried to imagine a scenario where he wouldn't be upset, and he couldn't realistically conjure one. So he was stuck. He couldn't throw it away or destroy it. Yet, he also couldn't just hand it over to Troy. He sighed deeply as he lay there.

The journal was safely tucked in a locked drawer at his work. He didn't want to risk Troy stumbling on it at home. That would be a particular kind of hell if Troy happened upon it in Grant's bag.

Grant pushed aside his worry. He was warm, loved, and he felt more complete than he ever had in his life. He snuggled up tight against Troy. Grant had awakened because he had to pee, but now he put it off as long as he could for more cuddle time. It wasn't uncomfortable enough to make him get up - not yet.

Grant gently stroked his hand across the skin of Troy's front - from his neck down his chest and all the way to the top of his pubic hair. Then he ran his hand back up again. It was slow, unhurried, and he merely enjoyed touching Troy.

The sleeping man broke into chill bumps as Grant's hand moved. Troy made a little sound in his throat, and Grant smiled behind him. There was nothing sexual about what Grant did. He reveled only in the touch, the satisfied noises from Troy, and the closeness. Besides, as had become their near-nightly habit, they had already made love last night when they went to bed.

Not that Grant couldn't go again. Though at the moment, his bladder forced a different priority. He sighed. Grant extracted himself away from Troy, and he crawled over him. Troy came mostly awake at the movement. "Where goin'?" He pawed at Grant, almost like a cat that wasn't quite finished getting petted.

"I'm just peeing. I'll be back."

Troy grunted, and he lay back. He was asleep again instantly. Grant grinned and went into the bathroom. He sighed as he let his bladder relax.

After what felt like five straight minutes Grant shook his cock, and he padded back to the bedside. He stood by the bed, and he looked down at Troy. His brown hair stuck up, his mouth was open a bit, and the skin of his face showed the shadow of a beard that had started - thanks to Troy not shaving over the last few days.

He looked so handsome, trusting, and vulnerable. 'He trusts me.' Grant swallowed, and he let out a breath. 'But would he ever again, if he knew about the journal?' Grant bit his lip.

Troy shifted, and he blinked. Grant's crotch was almost eye level, and Troy grinned. He reached over and gently gripped Grant's penis. "Come back to bed. I wanna feel this against me."

Grant smiled back at him. "Well, since you asked so nicely."

Troy flopped over on his side, and Grant crawled back into bed. He pressed right up against Troy's back. Troy grabbed Grant's hand, and he held it against his belly. Troy wriggled, happy and comfortable. "Mmmm. I don't wanna get up."

Grant chuckled and kissed the back of Troy's neck. "You've got a bit before you have to. But, don't you have a job later?"

Troy sighed. "Yeah. The weather isn't really cooperating, but this guy needs his pump replaced. Everybody else is closed down for the holiday next week, or they won't work in the weather." Troy stretched. "Lazy bastards."

Grant nuzzled Troy. "Well, that means more business for you."

"Yup." Troy yawned. Then he rolled over. He pulled Grant on top of him, and he wrapped his lean legs around Grant's waist. He grinned up at Grant. "This is how I wanna start my day." He shifted until his rear lined up with Grant's dick.

Grant immediately began to harden up. "I think that can be arranged."

Grant and Troy spent the next twenty minutes, their bodies entwined their minds and souls deep in communion. And for a time Grant could forget his worry and focus only on what mattered most to him.


22 December 2018, Saturday 8:41 AM

Troy had just returned from his job on the pump repair on the outskirts of town. It took a day, plus another hour this morning. And he was paid cash for the work by the happy family. That went into Troy's wallet, and he'd use it as spending money for his day-to-day expenses vs. draining his accounts.

The work Aaron did on Troy's website was having an impact on Troy's volume. The site was back up, running, and there were days Troy had to decide which job to take, or where he had to push one job back while he focused on another. It was a great problem to have.

"Oh my god. $120 for a yoga mat?" Troy made a face. "And $13 for rush shipping." The lanky man sat in his van, and he frowned at his phone. He sighed. "Well, I've got the money. And it's supposed to be a good yoga mat."

Troy struggled to come up with something Grant would like and use. But he found a non-slip yoga mat made of cork, and he immediately seized on it as a potential gift. He made the leap, and he purchased the mat. He navigated through the purchase screens and the payment information. He got to the checkout. "And optional gift wrapping for another $5. Sure!" Troy chuckled at himself. He completed the purchase, then he sat back in his seat.

For stocking stuffers, Troy got one naughty gift for Grant. They discussed toys, and Grant was a total newbie when it came to sexual equipment and toys. Troy got him a silicone masturbator. And of course, it was one they could both use at once. This, along with massage oil, a little folded note promising a ½ hour long back rub, and some nice soap finished out his gift selections.

"Okay, yoga mat, stocking stuffers, all purchased. I think I'm done." Troy made a slightly worried face. He had no idea what Grant's holidays were like, regarding the gifts he received from family and friends back in California. He imagined that with the money available to Grant's parents that he would have been lavished with things. 'I hope what I got him is good enough.'

He finished up with his phone, and he crunched through about four inches of snow to enter the house. Troy knew they were due over at Aaron and Georgette's place at nine. Aaron suggested they get together for breakfast and to hang out before Christmas. Aaron and Georgette were going to be out of town with her family over the holiday. So they tried to score a little time with Troy and Grant before leaving.

That left Grant home alone to work on their contribution for breakfast. He was making a stab at buttermilk biscuits. Troy had asked if he'd ever made them and Grant waved a hand. "No, but I can follow directions. No big deal."

Troy took off his boots at the entrance, and he hung his coat up by the door. "I'm back." He walked down the hallway, and he smiled at the small, pretty Christmas tree in the living room. Earlier in the week, Grant decided they needed a tree. So the two of them went to a tree farm, picked one up, and brought it back to decorate it.

Grant couldn't stand cut plants. "They always die. Let's get one that we can plant in the yard after." Troy agreed, and so they had a beautiful blue spruce in a pot pushed into the corner. It sparkled with ornaments, lights, and tinsel. And a day after the tree was in the house, a big, wrapped box appeared next to it.

Troy had come home from a job, and he looked askance at the box. "Uh, we said no gifts."

Grant only laughed. "Yeah. I know. But it's not a big deal. I wanted to do it, and it's something you can use."

At the time that elicited a frown from Troy. He suddenly only had a few days before Christmas to figure out gifts for Grant. Luckily, that was now handled. That is, as long as his express shipping actually got Grant's yoga mat there before Christmas Day.

Grant stuck his face around so he could see Troy in the living room. "Hey, Troy." Then he disappeared back into the kitchen. "I'm almost done. I'll have to clean up later. This took longer than I planned!"

Troy walked into the kitchen. He immediately snorted with a barely restrained laugh. "Uh, wow."

Flour was smeared on the counter, and a wet wad of paper towels sat in what appeared to be buttermilk on the floor near Grant's feet.

Grant laughed, and he shook his head. "Hush."

He opened the oven, and he pulled out a baking sheet of tall, flaky biscuits. Troy whistled when he saw them. "Okay, if those taste as good as they look," he sniffed loudly, "AND smell, then the mess is worth it."

Grant grinned, and he put the hot baking sheet down on the stovetop. "I hope they're good."

While Grant prepared the biscuits for the journey over to the Davison's, Troy got busy cleaning the kitchen. By the time they were due to head over, the warm biscuits were safe in a basket, wrapped in a clean towel, and the kitchen was mostly cleaned up. There were a few dishes in the sink, but that would be a simple matter to clear when they returned.

The men trekked through the snow, a house over, and Troy knocked on the door.

The door opened, and Aaron grinned at the pair. "Hey, guys!" He waved them inside. "Come on in." They kicked their shoes to rid them of most of the snow and ice, and they stepped in.

"Hey, Aaron." Troy sniffed, and made a noise of approval. "Mmm. Smells nice in here!"

"Thanks. Bacon and eggs, they're winners every time." Aaron took the basket. "I'll take these into the kitchen. I think we're just about ready."

Troy and Grant began to remove their footwear. Soon they were in their socks, and they walked in to see Georgette setting plates on the dining table. She looked up at them. "Hey, guys!" She went back to her place setting. "Go on in and grab whatever you'd like to drink. There's coffee, orange juice, and even the makings of tea for the weirdos." She cast an eye at Aaron.

Aaron put the basket down on the table. "Woman, you need to stop judging my drink choices!" His voice was harsh, but he bore a grin. She stepped over next to him, and Aaron leaned down to give her a kiss.

Soon they all had drinks in hand, were all seated around the table. There were plates with a choice of eggs over-medium and poached. Strips of crispy bacon and butter were also available. And in the basket along with the biscuits, Grant also put in a jar of John's blackberry jam.

When Grant unwrapped the biscuits, Troy's eyes immediately landed on the jar. For a moment his face dropped. Grant set it in front of Troy. "I'm sorry." He put a hand on Troy's back. "I thought you'd want to share this."

Georgette and Aaron noticed. And Troy knew that they recognized those little jars. John had given them his jam in the past. "We don't have to use it." Georgette smiled, though it was a sad expression. She reached and put her hand on Troy's arm.

Troy recovered. He licked his lips, and he nodded. "It's okay." He smiled a little. "He'd love this, you know. In a way it lets him be here." Troy picked up the jar, and he handed it to Georgette. Then he quickly added, "Oh, but can I have the lid when you're done?" He made a pained face. "Uh, it's the only thing left in the house my John wrote on. And I'm saving them. It's all I've got left of him."

Aaron frowned. "What? He used to make the rest of us look like terrible partners. He was always writing you little love letters."

Troy laughed a little at that. "Ah, he did. But, when he," Troy swallowed, "when he died, you remember, his family came."

Georgette nodded. "Yeah? What does that have to do with anything?"

Troy shook his head. "They took everything he ever wrote. In addition to taking his body back to Georgia, and selling off everything they could prove was his, they took all of the poems and all of the letters they could find in his writing. Everything. Even those to me."

There was quiet around the table. Troy saw Grant's face fall, and he looked as if he had seen a ghost. Grant rubbed Troy's back, his expression grim and thoughtful.

Aaron finally broke the silence. "Wow. That's fucked, man." He looked over at the little jar. "Yeah, we'll save the lid for you. No problem."

Troy nodded. "Thanks." He smiled at the group. "Sorry to be such a downer." He waved his hand. "Let's eat, guys. Everything looks great."

Slowly the mood at the table improved, and Troy was thankful for all of his friends. Though he couldn't help but notice Grant's thoughtfulness lingered. As did Grant's attention. Troy found it sweet - that he would care so much.

"Oh man, these biscuits are crazy." Georgette picked up her second biscuit. "John's jam, a little butter, and these are insane."

"Yep.  Natalie and Brian are missing out!"  Aaron said, and he popped a piece of biscuit into his mouth.  Their friends were gone, off on an early holiday to get a jump on their Christmas vacation.  Brian was off work, and he would be until school came back into session.

The table concurred, and Grant smiled under the praise. "Thanks. Though you can really thank Ree Drummond. She makes recipes even I can follow."

Aaron made a rapturous sound, and he finished chewing a mouthful. "Good god. Bacon with a little jam on one. Try it."

Various breakfast experiments with biscuits and combinations of food ensued. For the next half hour or so, the friends sat around the table, and they enjoyed one another. Finally, they finished up.

Troy stood when Aaron started to gather dishes. "Here, let me help. Grant made our contribution so I can help clean up."

Aaron nodded. "Sounds good to me."

Aaron and Troy cleaned up in the kitchen while Grant and Georgette relaxed with their coffee in the dining room.

Troy finished with his rinsing, and he turned, the dish towel in hand. He dried his hands, and he looked at Grant.

Grant's eyes met his from the table. And for a moment, Troy saw an unsure and pained expression. It quickly disappeared, and Grant smiled. Though, it looked forced.

'Huh.' Troy smiled back, though he had to do some forcing of his own. 'What's up with him?'


22 December 2018, Saturday 10:43 AM

Grant led the way back to the house. He had the basket in hand, and Troy walked behind him. They went inside, and Grant hung up his coat. Off came their shoes, and they walked into their home.

"You gonna tell me what's up?" Troy's voice startled Grant. That did nothing to assuage Troy, and now he narrowed his eyes at Grant. "Dude, what's going on?"

"Ah," Grant tried to smile, "nothing." Then he figured he'd flirt with the truth. "I've been thinking about you and John." Grant shook his head. "I don't know. He sounded like an amazing guy." Grant blew out a breath. "I guess I wonder if I'll measure up." That, at least, was true.

Troy stepped close. "Grant, you shouldn't do that." He put his arms around Grant. "John and I had something, and it was awesome." He pulled in the shorter man, and he smiled against Grant. "I don't expect you to be him. I don't want you to try. Because, what I have now, with you, is awesome too." He held Grant, and Grant clung to Troy. A little of Grant's insecurity in himself had appeared, and Troy said just the right things to assuage it.

Grant took a deep breath and let it out with an audible exhalation. "Okay." He grinned at his own insecurity. "Sorry. I want you to talk about John whenever you like. I'll try to be less of a needy boyfriend over it."

Troy kissed the side of Grant's head. "You can be needy." He squeezed. "I'm happy to tell you how awesome you are, Grant."

Grant swallowed, and he nodded. But he couldn't help but wonder, 'how awesome would you think I am if you knew?'

That question wasn't getting answered today. And Grant didn't know if it ever would.


25 December 2018, Tuesday 5:22 AM (Christmas Day)

"Are you awake?" Grant's harsh whisper jarred Troy from his sleep. Troy shifted, and he turned to blink at Grant.

The man lay on his side, his brown eyes intense. "You are awake!" Grant threw back the covers. "Come on! Presents!"

Troy groaned, then he laughed. He sat up in bed, and he rubbed his eyes. Grant's naked, excited self pulled on a pair of flannel pajama bottoms and his favorite fuzzy sweater.

"Come on! Come on!" Grant pulled on Troy's hand. "I wanna see you open your gift!"

Grant's gift barely made it in time. It arrived after six PM yesterday, on Christmas Eve, thanks to the shipping method Troy selected. Troy was pleased he had chosen the gift wrapping option, as his busybody boyfriend was curious when it was delivered. Luckily, Troy was able to hold Grant off, and the wrapped present went next to the other one beside their little Christmas tree.

"Okay, I'm coming. Jeez." Troy put on a pair of sweats, found a t-shirt, and just to make Grant wait a tiny bit longer, he hunted around for a pair of wool socks.

"Come on!" Grant stood at the doorway, and he put his hands on his hips as Troy sat on the bed to slowly pull his socks on. "You're doing it on purpose now!"

Troy grinned savagely. Finally, he stood up. "All right. Let's go."

The men walked downstairs, and Troy watched as Grant scampered over to the big, boxy gift he'd gotten for Troy. "Okay, I didn't know we were doing stockings, so you just got this. I hope that's all right."

Troy chuckled. "Yeah, it's totally fine." Troy walked over next to Grant. He put his arm around Grant's waist. "We weren't supposed to do gifts at all, remember?"

Grant rolled his eyes. "Ugh, rules." He smirked, and he leaned in for a quick kiss. Then his hand excitedly tapped the wrapped gift. "Open it!"

Troy laughed. "Okay." He shifted the heavy, wrapped box away from the tree a little. "Oof. This thing is dense!"

Grant didn't respond. He watched, his hands over his mouth as Troy unwrapped it.

Troy's jaw dropped. "Oh shit! A Lincoln Electric MIG Welder!" Troy laughed. "Wow!" He threw his arms around Grant. "Oh man, this is awesome!"

Grant grinned in his embrace. "You were always renting a welder for your jobs. Now you don't have to."

Troy gave him one more squeeze, then he pushed back to stare at the box again. "Wow. This is amazing." Though, he suddenly felt that he had under-gifted. It must have shown on his face.

"Troy, I'm sure whatever you got me is fine." Grant smiled, patted his back, and he sat on the floor beside his wrapped, rectangular present. Grant pulled it into his lap, and he began to tear off the wrapping paper.

Soon he was still. Grant went silent as he held the unwrapped box in his lap. Troy couldn't see his face, as it was down. "Do you like it?" Grant didn't respond, he only took a deep breath. Troy felt a little panic, and he knelt. "We can return it. You can get something else, something you really …"

"No." Grant smiled at him, and he wiped his face. Troy could now see he was crying. "Troy," Grant shook his head. "This is the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever gotten for me." Grant reached and hugged him. He smiled against Troy's ear. "Thank you. I love you."

"I love you too." Troy and Grant kissed. Then Troy inhaled in realization. "Ohhhh, you still need to open your stocking!"

Grant laughed. "Okay."

Troy helped him up. Then the guys stepped over next to the fireplace. Grant smiled and nodded over the massage oil, the note, and the soap. Then he pulled out the pliable, silicone sleeve. His eyebrows arched and he looked at Troy. "Is this a sex thing?"

Troy laughed. "Yep." He took it from Grant. "Look, you lube it up, and it's stretchy. See?" He pulled on the tube and widened it. "But you slip it on, and the harder you squeeze it, the more pressure on your dick."

Grant gave him a sultry smile. "Can you show me?"

Troy grinned back at him. "We can do better than that." He reached down, and he gripped Grant through his pajamas. The dark-haired man smiled, and he returned the favor to Troy. Soon both of them had erections.

"Okay," Troy pushed his sweats down to his knees. He had also included a couple of packets of lubricant in the stocking - just in case what was now happening occurred. He opened one, put the stuff in his hand and he lubed himself up. His penis bounced slightly in time to his heartbeat. He did the same to Grant who looked down at Troy's hand as it slid up and down.

Grant put his hands on Troy's shoulders, and he stepped closer. "Mmm. That feels nice."

"It's about to feel better." Troy grinned. He put his cock in the silicone sleeve, then he guided Grant's in from the other side. The material stretched around their slippery members, and it squeezed pleasantly on both of them.

"Oh, weird." Grant watched as Troy wrapped his hand around the outside of the sleeve. "This feels pretty good." He slid his hips back and forth a bit, and Troy enjoyed the sensation of Grant's dick as it moved against him.

Troy squeezed the tube. Grant took a sharp inhalation. "Heh. NOW you get it." Next, Troy moved the tube back and forth. It felt like a firm hand gripped him, but with a consistent, comfortable pressure.

"Oh wow." Grant's jaw dropped. "Wow." He leaned forward, and Troy met him for a kiss. They continued to make out, and Troy kept stroking them both with the sleeve.

After only about a minute Grant pulled away. He panted. "Ah god. Troy, I'm gonna come."

"Me too. Do it." Troy's voice was strained, and both of the men looked down at their cocks.

Grant took in a breath. He held it. Then he exhaled in a rush, and he and Troy released at nearly the same moment.

The head of Troy's cock was against Grant's pubic hair when he orgasmed. And he emptied a huge load of semen on Grant. Grant took breaths, and he stared in amazement as he got off, and at Troy's volume.

"Good god," Grant whispered as they both finished. He laughed as the stuff started to run down his body. "Okay, you need to get me a towel, Mr. Firehose."

Troy pulled his hips back, and he slipped out of the sleeve. "Stay there. I got ya."

He started to run to the bathroom, but Grant grabbed his arm. Before Troy really knew what was happening, Grant pulled him in for a full body hug. Both of their fluids mixed and squished into one mess between them.

"Ewww!" Troy laughed, and he tried to push away. The silicone sleeve still dripped semen, and in his attempt to escape, he managed to sling some on his own neck. "Ugh!" Troy laughed hard.

Grant held on, and he stuck out his tongue at the corner of his mouth. He rubbed his hips back and forth. Troy surrendered, and both of the men giggled.

Finally, they calmed. Grant still held Troy. He reached up, and he put a hand on the side of Troy's face. "Merry Christmas, Troy."

Troy grinned. "Same to you, Grant. Merry Christmas."

Grant stretched up. And he gave Troy the only gift he really wanted.

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

And thank you for reading! 

If you'd like to be on a list specifically for notification of updates to my stories onThe Story Lover's Home, email and let me know. I'll add you on. Click on the following link Update List.