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Title and Copyright Page

The Blue Forces

Gay Military Romance

Author: Gayle Keo

© Copyright 2016 by Gayle Keo

All rights reserved.

In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.Respective authors own all copyrights not held by the publisher.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person,

living or dead, is purely coincidental.

From the Author:

2 Special Bonus Stories INSIDE!

Thank you for purchasing this book.

Table of Contents

The Blue Forces


Bobby and Richard haven’t seen each other in the 220 days since Bobby was deployed in Iraq, and now that Bobby is home their relationship is on the rocks. Richard has held down the house during Bobby’s entire deployment and spent every day lonely and worried about the love of his life. All Richard wants to do is welcome Bobby with open arms, but something happened overseas that seems to have made Bobby more closed off than ever.

After their first night together, the two lovers learn that they have both been with other men during Bobby’s absence, which escalates into a painful argument. In their darkest moment, Bobby learns that he will be re-deployed a lot sooner than he originally expected.

Will Bobby and Richard be able to resolve their turmoil before Bobby has to leave the country for another nine months?

Chapter 1

I’ve been waiting for Bobby to return from Iraq for 220 days and I keep a tally on the wall of my walk-in closet where I pass out drunk most nights so that I don’t die of loneliness. Tomorrow, he will be back in Toledo, and I can finally pop my head out like the groundhog I’ve been living as. We haven’t spoken in days, not since he flew out. I know that he landed safely but I’ve been expecting him for days, never sure when he’s going to show up. I’ve barely eaten anything because my nerves are spiking enough to rationalize orange juice and gin as an adequate source of nutrition.

In the darkness of the closet, I can barely force myself to open my eyes to face reality. As soon as I open the door, the light from the morning peeping into my bedroom window damn near blinds me. I haven’t slept in days. The last time I saw Bobby, we ended up making love during his entire visit home. We literally spent over 48 hours in his bedroom with nothing but two gallons of water, an old bottle of aloe, and an ounce of bunk marijuana I bought from the frat boys upstairs. Those two weeks passed by so quickly that the haze seemed never-ending. Before we knew it, Bobby had to fly out to Iraq again and all of the plans we’d made over that year fell completely to the wayside.

His second deployment was much worse than the first, which was something that I didn’t even think was possible. The first year, at least I was attending college so the classes kept me busy. However, this time around, all I had was managing the carryout, and my life has never been more boring. After six months, I couldn’t even write to Bobby anymore because his inability to write back only worried me more. I spent days behind the cash register selling cigarettes and just letting the days pass by, holding on to every moment of regularity as if I could somehow stop time.

In fact, the reason I cleared all of the gin bottles from my kitchen counter was because it was the only sign that time was passing by without my control, every day without Bobby ripping away another part of my soul. Living in Toledo with the seasons changing and the man of my dreams being overseas risking his life every day turned me into a bitter person. I found myself distancing myself from all of my friends and family because they could not provide the happiness that I longed for. After a while it was all I could do to relieve the numbness of my day-to-day life—before long I started waking up to a new man every morning.

I know, the whole story is falling apart, but these are the facts that lead up to me lying drunk on the carpet waiting for my fiancé. He asked me to marry him the morning he left for Iraq last time, and of course I said yes, with tears spilling down my face. Bobby was all I had ever wanted and more. How could I have said no?

I wake up at 2:56 P.M. with a slight headache to the sound of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” blaring from my phone. It’s Bobby calling me, and despite the pounding in my brain, I answer the phone, interrupting Natalie’s epic lyrics.

“Hey, babe,” I say, gurgling the phlegm out of my throat.

“Hey, Rich,” he says. He only calls me Rich when he’s around other men, usually Marine friends. Other times it’s Richie. Sometimes in the bedroom, it’s Ricky-Baby, or simply Ricardo. “I think I’m going to be arriving within the hour.”

“Home?” I ask. “Like, you’re going to be here in an hour?”

“Yes, that’s correct,” he complies. His professional tone makes me want to mock him. I can’t help it.

“Okay, Robert,” I play. “I suppose I will see you at sixteen hundred hours.”

He takes a long, awkward pause. “Great,” he announces. “See you then, Rich.”

“Goodbye, now,” I say and tap the red button, ending what can barely be called a conversation. Although Bobby has gotten better over the years, he still has trouble coping with his sexuality around straight men, sometimes. We’ve talked about it for countless hours over innumerable bottles of tequila blanco, but still he wears an outer shell as if it is his armor. I have learned to live with it because there’s a part of me that still believes I am the only one who has seen Bobby’s true, sensitive side. He is the most passionate man I’ve ever known, and when I first met him at World Market, I knew when his hazel eyes caught me from across the courtyard that I would be cosmically tied to him.

Knowing that my man will be home soon, I convince myself to get up off the dirty carpet, take a quick shower, and prepare an amazing dinner that will be ready as soon as he walks in the door. While I shower I thaw out the ground lamb, and once I’m dressed I prepare lamb burgers with arugula, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce with sweet potato fries—Bobby’s favorite. Even though we can be short on the phone, I want him to know that when he comes home, his lover is here to take care of him.

I have the dinner table set with the burgers and sweet potato fries fresh on their plates, a bottle of pinot noir corked and ready to pour. A white jeep pulls up outside our front lawn, and Bobby gets out of the passenger side, still dressed in his khaki hat, shirt, pants, and boots. When the Jeep pulls away, Bobby salutes the driver, which gives me a second to admire his tan. Yes, I’ve missed him because he’s the love of my life, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t fantasized about him nonstop for 220 days, even when I was in bed with other people.

I pour the crimson wine into our glasses so that we can celebrate the moment he walks in the door, and I will let him decide whether he wants to eat dinner or me first. Either way, I feel the happiest I’ve been all year.

Chapter 2

Once Bobby reaches the front door, I run out and hold it open for him, barely able to refrain from jumping on top of him right here on the lawn. I take one of his camo duffle bags while he enters our home for the first time this year. I lock the doors behind us and follow him inside, my bare feet feeling a new appreciation for the hardly-polished hardwood floors.

“It feels so good to be back,” he says, setting his suitcase and luggage on the couch where I conveniently placed a blanket to cover recent cigarette burns. I’ll discuss all that with him later.

He sees on the wine on the table, doubles back to me and tilts his head as if he just wants to melt into my arms. I walk over to him, slowly taking him in, up close for the first time in real life, not an image on phones or computers of photographs. This is the real Bobby, the real man I fell in love with. As I wrap my arms around him, I elevate myself to his eye level by standing on the tip of his boots.

His face is still smooth from his morning shave, and as I look into his hazel eyes, I can’t help but reach up to run my fingers through his brown hair, dropping his hat to the ground. He doesn’t flinch as his lips steer closer to mine until finally our mouths lock and I take his soft tongue into my mouth. Our lips open and close with either of our tongues dancing between mouths.

After five minutes of endless kissing I drop from his boots and look into his eyes again, and in this light, they’re more green than brown. I could get lost in them for hours, but I remember the pinot and instantly surge into a rhythm toward our glasses, taking them into each hand and presenting one to him.

“To us,” I say, “and our love, and all of the hard work you do for this country.” After a while, the patriotic banter will cease to turn him on, but I know signs of respect make him feel flattered. Even though he’s strong, tall, ripped, and gorgeous, he is still sensitive on the inside. There are so many layers to him I cannot help but love him for all of his complexities.

“To us,” he answers, “and our country.” With a slight smile, he clinks his glass to mine, and we both sniff the rim of the glass before putting the edge of the liquid to our lips. We both take a small sip, looking into each other’s eyes while we swish the pinot between our teeth. I take in notes of fresh plum, blueberry, and oak before bringing a full gulp into my mouth and taking the smooth wine down my throat. I can see that it’s the first drink Bobby’s had in a while because the alcohol goes straight to his rosy cheeks.

“I love you, Bob,” I say. I don’t usually intend on calling him Bob, but sometimes it just comes out when I’m feeling most comfortable with him.

“Richard,” he says, taking a step closer to me. “I missed you so much.” I see him letting his guise down, at last, warming back up to me and our home. However, something in his face changes and he takes another sip of the pinot—his eyebrows fold in, and he chugs the entire glass in one gulp. “Got any more of that?” he asks.

“Um, sure,” I say, refilling his glass to half the amount as the first. I’ve seen him when he starts drinking heavily, and he can become either really passionate or really depressed. Right now I’m not sure which wave is coming.

“Thanks,” he says, immediately taking another large sip. “Richie, there’s something we need to talk about.” This time, he doesn’t look me in the eye. Instead, his gaze remains fixed out the window, and now that he’s turned from the light his hazel eyes are now more brown than green.

My first thought is that he went through something tragic again overseas. In his first year, he lost one of closest friends, and every time we’re a few bottles deep he brings up his guilt about not being able to save him. I can understand the guilt he feels from that experience, but the more it wears on Bobby, the more it tears him down.

I sit down in the nearest chair, face it toward him, and say, “You know you can tell me anything.” He finishes the glass, takes the seat opposite me, completely obvious to lamb burgers and sweet potato fries on the table.

“There’s no easy way for me to say this,” he says, still avoiding eye contact. I can’t even tell where his roaming eyes are focused. “I was with someone else, Rich,” he says, lips trembling. “I was with someone else, and I can’t live with myself if I don’t get the truth out there.”

I fill my glass with the remaining wine from the bottle and swallow down its entirety, closing my eyes until the dizziness passes. “Did you hear what I said?” Bobby repeats. All I can do is cross my legs and focus on my inhaling and exhaling. Otherwise, I will fall out of this damn chair.

“Yes,” I heard what you said. “I’m processing at the moment, I will be back with you shortly.” Sometimes I can’t help but become robotic when I can’t find the words to express my emotions. I know that I should tell Bobby about everything I’ve done while he has been away, but I just can bring myself to do it right now. Not until the wine sets in and I’m totally numb.

“Look, Bobby,” I continue. “I know I should be heartbroken by this but to be honest, there is something that I haven’t told you. In fact, a thousand things I might not have told you.” I take his trembling hand in mine, and as I look into his eyes, I see them swell up with tears. I inhale, preparing the words so that I don’t stumble over myself, and immediately my nostrils are filled with the scent of his Barbasol and vanilla aftershave. Somehow he smells both masculine and feminine.

As I open my mouth to pour out the truth, he tightens his grip and interrupts me with, “Stop it, Rich. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t even know if I can handle it. If it is worse than what I told you, I think I might fall apart.” He’s usually not so open about his emotions, and with his fingers laced around me I can feel his pulse through his skin. The beat is so rapid that it reminds me of the crescendo in a Charlie Parker tune.

I hesitate, letting the silence inflate us both. At this moment, we both look toward each other, but our eyes remain forcefully repelled like the polar opposite ends of magnets. “Richie,” I start, “just let me try to make sense of this.” He puts his index finger to my lips so that I cannot continue. Without speaking, he purses his lips, shakes his head, and leaves me to flee upstairs.

Chapter 3

His footsteps on the steps are loud and fast as if he’s trying to rush into the bedroom and lock it before I can get to him. He knows me well because I am, in fact, hustling right behind him, trying to leech onto him before something goes terribly wrong. I take long strides down the hallway, but he doesn’t turn around once or slow down. Once inside the room, he does shut the door but instead of locking it behind him, he simply leans all of his weight against the door so that I can’t enter.

“Please, Rich, not right now. Can you give me some space? It’s been a long couple days, and I thought I was suffocating before with this secret. But now that feels like nothing compared to this.” I can hear his muffled sobs from the other side of the door. Crying in front of people is something I’ve been trying to work on with him for our entire relationship. The first time I ever saw him cry was during a preview screening of Thor, during the scene when Chris Hemsworth first kisses Natalie Portman. I looked over at him and slapped his hand at how cute I thought he was. When he saw me looking at him, he went beet red and stormed out of the theater, leaving me there to eat cold popcorn for the rest of the movie, alone.

“I never forgave you for making me eat that musty, frozen popcorn during Thor, you know,” I say, hoping to get at least a chuckle out of him. I’m not sure if I hear a laugh, but I do hear a pause in the sobs, making me think I’ve somehow broken through his armor.

“I didn’t make you eat anything,” he manages to whimper through a nose through of snot. “I didn’t even get to eat any because you put that gross ranch powder all over the whole bucket.”

I smack myself in the face, remember him specifically telling me how much he hated it, but I’m addicted to it like crack so as soon as I saw the bright blue bottle, I couldn’t resist. “I’m so sorry about the popcorn, baby,” I tell him, scratching at the door like I’m a kitten that needs some affection.

“You don’t have to be sorry,” he says, coughing to clear his throat, his cold military cadence returning to his defense. “I shouldn’t have stormed out of the movie like that day. I still don’t know how it ended.” His voice takes a turn back toward the sobs, and I find the rush of tears coming to my own eyes.

“Thor wins in the end,” I say. “Thor always wins, baby.”

Finally, he laughs, a full-bodied one that bellows through the door to my ear. “Does that mean I can come in now?” I ask. And with that, the slightest push from my palm sends the door ajar, just enough for me to see him lying under the covers in our bed. His hair sticks out from the blue velvet comforter, and as I push the door open further, he buries himself deeper into the belly of the mattress. He doesn’t need to answer with words to satisfy my question; I know that his silence invites me under the covers with him where we can both spill our hearts out.

I inch closer to the bed, running my fingers along the velvet surface of the blanket, searching for the humps where Bobby’s limbs lay strewn underneath. I think about what I’m about to do to him if he lets me—things I haven’t done since the last time I’ve seen him, even with other men. Yes, I’ve been romantic and slightly intimate with other men. However, I’ve never given myself to them the way I have with Bobby. Spiritually, emotionally, sexually.

At the mouth of the blanket, I begin to enter with my feet first, dipping them in like our bed is an icy lake, when really I know once I’m deep down it will be molten hot. Still, I fight the shivers fluttering up through my chest like a swarm of moths rising to the lone street light of my heart. The dim light that shines into the cavern under the blanket reveals not only that Bobby is curled up in the fetal position, but that he’s also stark naked with nothing between us except a thin layer of silk. Knowing that all of his rock hard muscles are exposed, and my clothes are still on makes me go frantic, and I pull off my shirt and jeans in a tizzy, tossing them somewhere in a pile on the floor.

Once I’m bare too, I gather the strength to reach my sweaty hand down toward him, until I feel the rocky surface of his bicep. “Bobby,” I whisper, “I don’t want to put the past behind us like it doesn’t exist, but right now I need your body more than anything. More than a storm needs electricity. I need you like the thunder needs lightning. And baby, right now it’s dark.”

His bicep tightens beneath my fingertips, his triceps rolling as he reaches toward me, clutching my collarbone to pull me closer. Suddenly we’re shoulder to shoulder. My face rubs against his hand, which only makes me grip me harder, firmer. In response to his fingernails digging into my skin, I retaliate with a fierce nibble upon his wrist bone. He takes the pain like it’s nothing to him. To be honest, part of the reason I like to be rough with him is because his body is used to absorbing a lot of damage. He’s even told me it makes him feel more alive.

With his skin between my teeth, I get a salty taste of his sweat, and a small sample is nowhere near enough. Instantly I’m driven mad by the thought of him pinning me down to the bed like he usually does before kissing me all over his body, running his stubbly face across my smooth skin.

“You and your stupid poetry always make me hard,” Bobby says, his other hand now pressing down on my other shoulder. Under his weight, I feel like myself again.

“Life is hard,” I say. “And don’t call my poetry stupid.” I can’t help but laugh because anytime I take myself too seriously like this, I feel like the world is falling apart.

“Don’t be coy, Richard. I’ve been thinking about you every day. Every single day goes by and half of the time I’m pretending you’re standing there with me, telling a joke or romanticizing life. And I’ll start to laugh in my head a little until I realize how long it will actually be until I see your face again. Then I lose it. And this time, I was away, I lost it.”

“You didn’t lose anything, my babe,” I say quietly. “It’s all here, safe and sound. Right here in my lost and found.” I take his hand and put it on my chest so that he can feel my heart beat with his.

“Well now that you can see my face why don’t you do something about it, Bobby?” I love toying with him, because when anytime I speak to him rashly like this he gives me a double take and stares at me askance for two seconds until he realizes that I’m joking. Finally, he smiles at me and before I know it his lips are careening toward mine, his tongue already sticking out, ready to penetrate my mouth.

Once his slippery tongue worms its way into me, I can’t help but gorge my lips wide to mimic the gigantic O trying to swallow me. With the rings of our mouths widening and shrinking in sync it’s easy to get lost in the natural rhythm of our bodies. I’m swimming in his flesh, his nipples grazing against mine, and his washboard abs grind against me like cut steel. My man, I think, I’ve missed you so much. I let my fingernails dig into his back and tear downward toward his ass until the stone blockade of his cheeks occupies all ten of my fingers.

All the other guys I’ve been with are mere men to the god that Bobby is to me. However, even in the heat of our friction he pulls his eyes away from mine and digs his nose and mouth into the crevice of my neck. He kisses my neck, and my body goes limp, all except the centermost part of me.

With Bobby’s hot breath pushing against my skin, I feel all of the little hairs on my body stand on end. Oh, god, please let him take me this second, I think, practically begging the heavens for my own lover to have mercy on me for the sake of a moment’s completion.

“Bobby, I love you,” I mutter, completely surprising myself. “I don’t want to fuck anything up. I want this to be perfect, but I know it’s already fucked.” I can tell by my repetition that the wine has certainly set in. The fuzziness in my face makes my kisses sloppy. It’s good for me that Bobby likes moist, swampy sex. Hopefully, it will make him want me more.

“I love you, Rich,” he says, kissing my cheek, rapid-fire like a machine gun. At least fifteen smooches later I feel it—his hand gripping the middle of me like a gun that won’t come out of its holster. “It’s not fucked. Not yet.” With slow pulls he jerks me up and down, nuzzling his nose into my ear and nibbling. His erection stabs me in my thigh—a pleasant surprise. I spit into my palm and reach down to take his larger, firmer cock in my hand. With my hand moist, it slides up and down his shaft with ease.

“Oh, wow,” he moans. He’s been infatuated with the way I spin my hand and fingers around him like I’m trying to perform some kind of forbidden magic trick. There is nothing like the moment when we both have each other’s dick’s locked a handshake. It’s like the only true primal agreement we can come to. Especially before devouring each other in the way that we’re about to.

“Can we just let go of the past?” he asks. The erection in my hand overpowers the strength of my wrist, and I feel him guiding the rocket toward his favorite target under my sack.

“Yes, we can get past it,” I laugh, “but I’m not quite ready to make that hurdle so soon, cowboy.”

“Mmmmm,” he moans. “You’re always teasing me.” I’ll let him think that I am teasing him, but the truth is that I haven’t felt him inside me like that for so long that I’m afraid it might hurt.

“Why don’t I just get a quick taste of you, Bobby Baby?” I try to sing to the melody of Santa, Baby but realize I sound more like a gimp crow. No matter—Bobby loves it when I talk dirty to him. He starts to roll over onto his back, and I finally tear the stupid blue blanket from off of us. The frigid air hits our sweaty skin like a gust of salty ocean breeze—but really it’s just the musk of Bobby’s sweat trailing in my mouth.

“Richard I don’t know if I can do this without finishing in your mouth,” he says. Both of his hands shoot to the top of my head, curling my hair into his fingers. Now that he’s got his fingers twisted in my hair, I’m committed to wrapping my lips around the entirety of his cock. First, I tickle his kneecaps with my lips and trace my mouth upward along his left leg until my face is buried in the fold of his leg and scrotum.

“Don’t worry, my sweet,” I say, cupping his butt cheeks with my hands and pushing him toward my mouth. The next thing I do is stick my tongue out and gently press it against the bottom of his sack, feeling the soft testicles dance around the small opening of my mouth.

“This is seriously intense. I’m so sorry I cheated,” he says. Something told me that he was going to get emotional once we got really intimate. I don’t want to respond with words. I would rather answer him with my body, and more precisely my saliva. I decide not to wait because if I just pop him in my mouth now then maybe he will get so lost that the past will fizzle out and fade away like the end of a bad movie from the 70s.

His penis is the kind that looks like a mushroom top, and I love it because it’s like a little lollipop that never ends. Before I take him in my mouth, I pinch the tip of his dick and look up into his eyes. He looks down into me, his fingers still massaging my scalp, encouraging me to begin sucking. “I’m going to swallow every drop, my strong soldier.” I know that there is something paradoxical about our relationship, considering that technically it is forbidden for us to be together. It doesn’t matter to me right now, though, because the taboo nature of our love is what turns us on more than anything else.

“Take it right now,” he says, bringing out the honest, pushy side of his sexuality. I’m not going to resist this time. Without hesitation I take his dick and lean it toward my face, opening my mouth wide so he can be consumed by the warmth of my face.

Chapter 4

I let him ride the inside of my mouth until he finishes and fills my mouth with the creamy drizzle of his orgasm. After swallowing every drop, I let my man lie back for a few minutes. He needs a few minutes to catch his breath and while I let him enjoy the peace of the orgasm I run my fingers along his body, leaving a path of goosebumps behind. Once he’s let the calamity of the orgasm wash over him, he leans over me and kisses my lips, giving me a little tongue. Sometimes he likes to see if he can get any residual taste off my lips.

“Your turn,” he says. Tipping me onto my back, Bobby takes his time in making his way down to my member. His strong hands cup me, and he uses both to stroke me at first until he is to my navel. He returns to stroking me with one hand and the moment I enter his mouth, I’m in heaven. My eyes roll back, and my first instinct is to give him a light love tap on the cheek, letting him know that the way he swirls his tongue is perfection.

I open my eyes, and the room is dark. Bobby is asleep next to me, snoring as usual. Part of me actually believes that in the orgasms we gave each other, maybe the past will stay hidden in its ugly tomb forever. The moonlight creeps in through the window and bathes our skin in its sleek, silver light. I watch Bobby sleep, his chest rising and falling, creating shadows that dance across my hand, the one still cupping his soft shaft.

His eyes crack open and in his sleepy, hazy glare he looks over to me, not yet fully conscious. For a few moments, he will remain in his peaceful slumber. Drool pools at the side of his mouth; not enough to slide down his cheek, but enough for me to want to lean over and kiss it off of him.

Suddenly I hear something shaking on a wooden surface near it. The sound is like a consistent buzzing, and I realize that it is Bobby’s cell phone on vibrate in his pants next to the bed. I pet his bangs back and kiss him on the forehead.

“Wake up, sleepy head,” I say. “It sounds like someone very important is calling you in the middle of the night. But knowing you, there could be some emergency anywhere in the world.”

Bobby remains comatose, unaffected by my altruistic rant. I try another smooch on the forehead, but it only makes him smile and enter a more cuddly position. He’s so cute that I don’t want to break his much-needed sleep, but the phone won’t stop buzzing, even after the first pause for voicemail. “Honey,” I try again. “You need to answer your phone in case it’s the President.”

“Mr. President?” he asks, jolting awake. That one never fails. “What’s wrong? Is everything okay?” He scans the room with his vacant eyes, expecting to see fellow soldiers in distress. At first, he doesn’t even really comprehend that I’m sitting next to him.

“Your phone, Bobby,” I repeat. “It’s on the floor next to the bed, where you left it before making beautiful oral love to me.”

“Calm down with that talk,” he says briskly, hanging over the edge of the bed and searching the pile of clothes for the untraceable buzzing machine. I can’t stand it when he starts treating our love like it’s a secret for whores. With a flick of his pants, the phone goes flying into the air. Bobby catches it gracefully, proof of his years of accuracy training.

“Hello? This is Robert, reporting,” he says before the phone is even flicked open all the way. “I apologize for the delay.” Bobby staggers out of the bed and trips over himself while trying to put his underwear and pants back on. Meanwhile, I watch him strut around the room speaking with the person on the other end. Bobby’s tone is casual, and that makes me think that it’s not an emergency after all. There is one thing that triggers the thought of Bobby’s conversation being more than casual: he goes to his side drawer that he hasn’t opened all year and reaches under the stack of underwear for his pack of menthol Marlboro 72s. His pink lighter is still in the pack where he left it even though I’ve flicked its flame a handful of times while smoking with strangers. Although I’ve never been able to kick the habit, Bobby only smokes when he knows shit is hitting the fan.

“Yeah, no, I understand,” he says with the short cigarette dangling from his lips. He snaps the lighter raises it to the edge of the little white stick, creating a stream of smoke that rolls from the orange ember glowing in our dark room. The pause he takes for the other person to speak seems to linger for hours. “Well, if that’s what I have to do, that’s what I have to do,” he says, forcing a smile on his face like the caller is in the room with us. With that, Bobby hangs up, closes the phone, and takes his cigarette to the window where he stands in the moonlight and allows his smoke to escape through the screen.

“I can still taste you on my lips,” I say, trying to bring him back to bed.

The only response from him is a long drag on his cigarette. He holds the smoke in his lungs for an extra ten seconds before exhaling it all from his nose as if he’s some kind of stubborn dragon.

“Anything you want to talk about, hon?” I ask. My body is so relaxed I’m fighting my eyes’ need to slam closed. This is so not like me, but when Bobby makes me cum it is unlike any force on Earth.

Before answering, he takes another puff on the cigarette. “Looks like we’re trapped, Rich. The past is catching up, and now the future, too.”

“What do you mean? Is something wrong?” My fear is already starting to blossom from a small seed.

“I think you already know what’s wrong,” he refrains, turning to reveal the tears inching down his cheekbones. No, I think. I can’t lose him again. Not when I thought he was finally home to stay.

“Don’t say it,” I laugh, trying to force my body to lie to my mind. “You’re not going anywhere, you big, sexy teddy bear.”

Bobby takes one more pull on the Marlboro before shoving it down hard into the dirty glass of the ashtray. “Australia, Ricky Dicky. Australia.”

Chapter 5

"Australia?” I ask, my voice taking a high-pitched turn. “Don’t tell me there is a militia of kangaroo threatening us.”

“Seriously, Rich, this isn’t the time for jokes,” he says calmly, letting me know that he’s putting his foot down and needs my utmost attention. “They’re sending a lot of people there this year. Big deployment. You know as much as I do at this point.”

I sit up in bed, revealing my entire naked, crooked frame, and glare into his eyes from across the room, hoping he can read my mind as I think, They are not taking you away from me again. My mouth takes a stab at words, but all that comes out are broken mumbles and half syllables. As the heart in my chest crumbles like blue cheese, I feel my brain scrambling into an omelet.

“I know this is the last thing we need right now,” he whispers.

“Or the first thing,” I say, in spite of myself.

“Fill your mouth or I’ll fill it for you,” he smiles. The content of his words are darkly sexual, but it is actually an inside joke for when we both start speaking out of our asses. My habit is worse than Bobby’s, tenfold. I take my index finger and thumb and mime zipping my lips closed so that he can have the floor.

“You know that being deployed is not something I wanted, right?” I can’t tell if his question is rhetorical or not.

“How do I know you haven’t had this whole thing planned? Who was it on the phone? Your lover? What’s his name, Bobby? You planning on eloping to Australia behind my back?” No, I do not have a clue where any of this is coming from, other than some suppressed fear, or anxieties of him leaving me. With every day that passes, I have a panic attack thinking that he’s going to die in the field or, worse, fall in love with another man and I’ll never hear from him again.

He stands there, his bare feet on the ground, shaking his head at me. In his eyes, I’m doing something wrong by vomiting out such passionate accusations. Whenever I do this, he will refuse to speak until I verbally apologize. One time I tried giving him a hand job at our favorite Italian restaurant, and he still wouldn’t talk to me until five hours later when I finally apologized after a bottle of cheap chardonnay.

“Look, I can’t make a big thing out of this right now. This is a lot for me to process.”

“When?” I ask. “When are you leaving? If you say tomorrow, there is a slight chance that I may stand up and smack you across the face. But not hard, it would be playful and mildly sexy.”

“I can’t take you when you get like this,” he says. His gait from the window to the bedroom door is swift, agitated. I hear his footsteps as he barrels down the stairs and makes his way toward the kitchen. The cupboard next to the fridge opens, then the cabinet, and then the freezer. Bobby breaks ice cubes from the tray and drops them into a glass. I can’t hear anything else, but I envision him pouring Irish whiskey over the ice with no mixers.

Instead of putting my clothes on I wrap the silk sheet around me like a toga and tiptoe down the stairs. Once I reach the ground level, I peer around the corner and see Bobby standing over the counter swirling the golden liquid and ice cubes around in his glass. He’s allowing the ice to cool the liquor as much as possible before he drinks it. It will become the temperature of his liking, and he will drink the entire glass in one gulp. I want to yell to him down the hallway, “Wine before liquor, never been sicker!” but I keep my hand steady on the rail and my lips sealed.

Slowly, I creep into the kitchen hoping that he won’t hear me. I place my weight against the doorframe and watch him stare down at the glass like it is some kind of magic eight ball that will tell him is future, or at least give him a silly push in the wrong direction. With no more pause, he takes the glass and puts it up to his mouth, shooting the liquid down his throat.

“Yeah,” he says, letting the word draw out. “That’s what I needed.” Without looking over to me, he already senses me standing in the room. He must have heard my footsteps even though I wanted to be a fly on his wall. “Look, Richard,” he continues, “there is no easy way for me to say this but they want me to leave tomorrow. Before you start to get cute, and we get off track, I know that you know I don’t have a choice in the matter, so I can’t see why you’re making this harder for me than it has to be.

“Do you think I want to leave you?” asks, pouring another splash into his glass while the ice is still large. “I hate being away from you. You think you being with other men is news to me?”

This time, he has me at a standstill. While letting the liquor cool, he cocks his head over his shoulder to give me one sharp, dark glance. It sends shivers to the innermost sanctuary of my belly. Now I want to throw up. How could he possibly know about the other men? Did I ever let something slip? Did they?

“Bobby, listen,” I attempt, but he interrupts with another slug of the liquor. This time, he doesn’t wait for it to chill.

“No, you listen, Rich,” he slurs. “This is something I’ve had bottled up for a long time. And now it feels like all the fighting and pain we’ve been through is for nothing.”

“What fighting? What pain?” My questions are sincere, because even though he’s been away, we have both told each other that we would be together forever, that we were the loves of each other’s lives.

“I don’t need proof to know that you’ve been with numerous other lovers, Rich,” he says, turning around and resting his ass against the kitchen counter. “You’re a lush. I know it. You know it. Half of Toledo knows it. But you know that I love you for you, and I always have. Some part of me thought that once we were actually married or whatever, if that’s even possible, that you would finally slow down and be a one-lover kind of guy. The only reason I even had my relationship while I was gone was in spite of you.”

I’m at a complete shock because all of these feelings are pouring out of Bobby at an irregular speed. Usually, it takes a good eight hours for us to get to this point. “Who were you with, Bobby? What’s his name?”

“It’s not a him,” he says, choking on his own words. He takes his eyes off of me, lifts his glass, and tilts an ice cube into his mouth. Biting down hard on the cube, he spits the little shards of ice all over the floor. “Don’t clean it up, baby. It’s not glass.”

Great, now he’s getting poetic. Usually, I’m the lyrical, nonsensical one. I can’t even breathe at the moment, let alone comprehend whatever quip or metaphor he attempted to sling at me. It’s not a him. It’s not a him. That can only mean that Bobby’s been with a woman, and if he’s been with a woman, I’m honestly wondering if he will ever love me the same way again.

Chapter 6

“So where the fuck does this leave us, Bobby?” I ask, the North Toledo ghetto starts to come out of me. “Me sleeping around is way different than you fucking someone of the opposite gender. What if we were straight and I told you I fucked a gay man?” I pour my own splash of liquor over what is left of Bobby’s ice.

“For one, I would appreciate it if you can lose at least one-third of the profanity,” he starts in. “For two, how is me sleeping with one person at all comparable to the amount of people you’ve been with behind my back?”

Sure, I know he’s right, but will my pride let me respond with reason and authenticity?

Absolutely not.

“What are you, some kind of immoral utilitarian?” I haven’t even sipped the liquor yet, and I’m already drunk.

“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” he says. I pucker my lips, scowl at him, and hold my breath while I drink the fragrant, fiery liquor. It burns my entire neck and chest as it goes down. I’ve always been a mai tai man, but whiskey straight can sure get the job done.

“I know exactly what I’m talking about because I’m the philosopher of your sex life, mister,” I say. I can’t help that when I’m angry, I sound like an adolescent comedian.

“Part of me thinks we should just end this right now, Richard,” he says, grabbing the bottle from the counter so that I can’t hurt myself with it any longer. He walks into the dining room and sits at the table where our plates still sit untouched from earlier. I suppose that is what happens when you try to plan romance: cold, stale food.

I follow him into the room with the glass because I won’t let him determine how much liquor I’m going to drink. I’m a grown man with real problems. “Why does everything have to jump to an extreme with you, Bob?” I ask. I’m still wrapped in the blue silk sheet as I take a seat across from, not beside him. We need to look each other dead in the face and not let our bodies get close if we are going to figure this thing out and make it through our love alive.

“I’m not jumping to extremes, Rich,” he says, poking at the food on the plate with the fork I set for him. Knowing him, he will probably eat both of our meals right now even though they’ve been sitting out for hours. “The fact of the situation is that I have to leave in the morning. This is last minute. I don’t have a choice. We both know that. The extremes are brought to me, Rich. I don’t jump to them.”

His words ring true, and it is something I have lived with during our entire relationship. It is part of what you sign up for when you fall in love with a military man.

“I know,” I say. “I know. You just don’t know how hard this is for me, I think. What am I supposed to do? You get to go see the world. I sit around Toledo talking to stupid people about tabloids and promotional deals at all the fast food chains. It is the most depressing existence in existence.”

Although my words are true, and I am depressed living in Toledo, he still cracks a smirk, which makes me feel at least like there is a small portion of him somewhere that still loves me. Hell, for all I can assume he didn’t even really sleep with anyone. Maybe he lied about the whole thing to get me to tell the truth. Would he do something like that?

“You don’t think my life is depressing?” he asks. His intonation takes a high pitch, making me think that he has somehow taken offense.

“No, honey,” I answer. “You travel the world. You have meaning in your life. You wake up and go to sleep with a cause.”

“Ricardo, we both know that when I enlisted, I only did it because I didn’t know what else to do.” Bobby has never had a good poker face. Even though there is no doubt I’m the more femme man in the relationship, my street smarts have always outshined Bobby’s. Right now there is no emotion on his face.

“Yes, Roberto,” I mimic his name of endearment for me. “I remember countless conversations. I know, but I guess the whole time I wanted to just inspire you and make you feel like you made the right choice because I knew there was no going back. And I love you. I found you, the man of my dreams, and what am I going to do? Let you go for all eternity? No, I told you I would suck you and buck you for the rest of my life, meaning I want to marry you and love you forever, Bobby.”

Great, now I’m getting teary eyed. And when my nose runs from me trying to hold back the water works, I see his eyes welling up from across the table and in the dark.

“If you cry,” I say, “then I’m going to cry and then we’re going to sob, and the military will never have its best soldier again because I will strap you to the bed and keep you there as my pet.”

He laughs, which only allows the tears to begin their rapid stream. Both my eyes follow suit, but without the laugh. “I’m so sorry, Richie,” he says, the laughing and crying continuing simultaneously. The combination of emotion strikes me as something that is not humanly possible, but then I consider the actual possibility of Bobby having lost his mind in this moment.

Oh, god. Did I destroy him?

“Bobby this is literally the worst moment of my life,” I cry. I don’t know what else to say. No more jokes. I feel like I’m losing him.

“It’s also the worst moment of mine,” he says. He stands up from his chair, tucks the seat in under the table, picks up the old, soggy lamb burger and takes a big bite out of it before setting it back down on the plate. “Thanks for dinner,” he says and goes into the living room to pick up his bags and walk out the front door.

What in the world is happening to me? I stand up in my navy blue toga and chase after him, but my foot slips on the velvet, and I fall forward on my face. The sheet comes undone around me, and I’m lying on the ground, my nose smashed on the floor, my bare ass akimbo in the air. “Bobby!” I scream. “Bobby! Come back, baby, I need you!” A trickle of blood escapes my nose, not much, just enough to leave a dark droplet on the surface of the navy blue sheet. My man doesn’t answer, and even though the screen door is the only thing separating me, something tells me that he legitimately cannot hear me.

I force my way to my feet and gallop to the door, stark naked, no longer worried about what can be seen of my body in the moonlight. I don’t see Bobby anywhere in the darkness of our lawn or driveway, so I brave the voyeur that is the night sky and run outside in my birthday suit.

“Bobby?” I ask. “Bobby? Where are you?” I look around, praying to whatever god there is that my neighbors don’t call the cops on me for indecent exposure. Looking to my left, and then to my right, I see two red beams glowing in the blackness. At first, I think they are the eyes of a dragon coming to kill me—then I realize they are the taillights of a cab that Bobby had arranged from the unknown caller.

The grass beneath my feet is already dewy, lubricated for morning. I drop to my knees, staring at the taillights as they fade into darkness, wondering how I could bury myself underground and never rise again.

Chapter 7

After rushing back into the house, I run up the stairs to throw a quick pair of clothes on so that I can chase after Bobby. I can’t stand around naked and let him walk out of my life. I need to take a stand and prove to him that I love him. The problem is that right now I have no idea how to do that.

Once I’m a pair of faded black jeans and t-shirt, I find my phone and immediately start blowing up his cell with texts, calls, and voicemails—none of which are answered. Unable to sit still and hoping the kinetic energy will allow me to come up with a light bulb idea that will save my relationship with Bobby, I pace the entire house back and forth, staring at my phone like a screen fiend in anticipation that he will send me a line saying that it will all be okay.

The line doesn’t come. Bobby has taken remote silence. All I know is that he told me he is leaving in the morning. From this information, I can only estimate that he will be flying out of Detroit where he flew in. The problem is that I have no idea when his flight leaves. The only option I have is to jump in the car and drive as fast as I can to the Detroit Airport without getting a speeding ticket.

In the car, I turn the heat all the way up because it is freezing outside and I don’t have the thick outer shell like these military men who can wear nothing but their uniforms. No, I need my fake fur coat and authentic Russian mink hat. I found both at a secondhand store in Indiana and couldn’t pass them up. This is the first time I’ve worn them, and I feel like I’m embarking on some vagabond expedition from which I will return alone or dead in an icebox.

Detroit is an hour-long drive from Toledo, but at this hour there are no cars on the road so I can comfortably drive at 70 miles per hour, hoping to get there in 45 minutes. I keep a look out for any vehicle that could contain Bobby so I don’t accidentally pass him in my stroke of road rage romance.

The earth from Ohio through Michigan is all flat, barren land. Sometimes it feels like you’re on a never-ending plateau, trapped on a gray strip of road that leads to an unwanted infinity. I block out the world around me and keep focused on my one goal: keeping Bobby in my life and loving him forever. In this moment of loss, I’ve never felt so abandoned or alone. It just now hits me that Bobby has never ever left without saying goodbye.

Thanks for dinner cannot be his last words to me. I will go down swinging with a fiery sword in heaven, so help me God.

By the time I get to the airport, I tally up my car count to exactly five and a half, the half being an empty school bus. The parking lot at the airport is equally empty. It’s more of a ghost town for lost souls than a transit hub for the sky. I don’t even bother locking the car, and in fact am not even really sure if I took the keys out of the ignition. At this point, I don’t care because every second that passes I expect to hear the sound of a plane taking off, only to look up and see my love’s vessel carrying him away from me.

Chapter 8

The airport’s escalators and screens all run, indicating that there must be some sort of life here unless the apocalypse occurred without me knowing. God knows I wouldn’t have consented, anyway.

I reach the giant screen indicating all of the flights. I try to make sense out of them, but they don’t display all the possible connections, and there are no direct flights from Detroit to Australia. What plane are you on, Bobby? I take my phone out of my pocket and check to see if he responded. This phone is the one thing I’ve kept on me since he left because it is my only sure lifeline to him.

Suddenly I hear it—the faint sound of aircraft turbines. How could a plane be boarding or taking off with no announcement or digital indicators? This world is going downhill. I seriously consider suing this airport for a broken heart.

I have no idea where Bobby’s terminal could be, but I scramble left, then scramble right, and above me there is this train circling around the entire airport, and I’m so confused that all I can do is scream in a high-pitched voice. With no logic, I run to my right where I hope to catch the plane before it takes off, even if I have to hold on to the bottom legs for the whole flight.

Even my legs running at full speed cannot turn me into Superman. Outside the window, I see the plane taking off without me, with Bobby, and I slow my pace so that time will stop forever.

“Bobby,” I whisper to myself. The heart thudding inside me is an endless conga drum.

“Ricardo,” a voice says. I turn around and there he is—Bobby, his baggage on the floor, tears streaming down his face. In his uniform, he looks like the most beautiful thing ever put on this planet.

“Shut the fuck up,” I spit out. “Is it really you?”

“It’s really me,” he says, running toward me and swooping me into his arms and off the ground. I wrap my legs around him and feel like a loser in all this fur now that he actually sees me.

“What about your plane?” I ask, looking down into his eyes. “What about the flight? Australia? Did your flight not leave yet?” My words ramble out a mile a minute but with all these thoughts and emotions and Bobby finally in my arms I don’t know what else to do but sound like a lunatic.

“I didn’t get on the plane,” he says, gripping me tight and keeping me steadily wrapped in his arms. “I was about to leave the airport and come home to you, but then I saw this skinny bear in the airport and got concerned.”

“I’m not a skinny bear,” I laugh, tears rolling down my smile, “I’m a fuzzy wuzzy one.” Looking into my eyes, Bobby lunges forward lips first, and I dive in as well, until we collide. The electricity between us fuels me like a thousand electric powered cars, and I know that Bobby feels it to because of the erection pressing against my pants.

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