A Life Discovered

Chapter 6

By Bensiamin


“Don’t make sexually fluid sound so terrible, Bailey.”

“I’m not, that’s not what I mean.” Bailey smiled. “I’m talking about the word fluid. Like moving, able to change.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“No worry. It’s good to know. It helps me understand what’s going on. Like I’m not the only one. I’m part of the twenty five percent.”

“Exactly. There’s still a lot of bad stuff around, don’t get me wrong. Most of it comes from outdated views that older generations have. I have friends who grew up with so much tension and distrust. Meaning in families that condemned or disrespected them for being gay. Their own families, for god’s sake! A lot of it comes from religion, but tons of it comes from traditional and conservative ways of looking at life. What we’re seeing and experiencing now is a lot more respect and acceptance. That’s what I want you to know.”


“I know you’re sorting stuff out, but between info like this and what Annabelle told you, I hope you feel good about it. About you. About being with me.”

“I do. I mean, better and better.”

“Maybe we should skip dessert and take that walk on the pier. This is getting pretty heavy.”

“Good idea.” Bailey waved the waiter over and gave him a credit card. Then they walked to the park and towards the pier. Unlike the Friday before, there were quite a few people spread along its entire length.

They looked at each other and Eric said, “Too many people. Let’s walk along the lake shore.” It was after eight thirty and the sun was heading down, the evening light changing. It was far less crowded once they got away from the pier and the park, and Eric reached for Bailey’s hand. It was accepted, but in about five blocks the walkway along the lake ended.

Eric turned to Bailey and said, “Let’s ditch this and go to the B&B.”

Bailey nodded and Eric turned them from the lake and in a few minutes, they were in a small cottage, one of two, behind a large turn of the century house.

“Nice. Private,” Bailey whispered. “Was this part of your plan?”

“Totally.” He closed the door and pulled Bailey to him. “My plan is to kiss you like we were kissing last Friday.”

“Good. And then?”

“Then we’ll see where it goes. Is that okay? I just want us to be together. Sex isn’t a requirement.”

“I heard you say that,” Bailey said as he ran his hands over Eric’s chest and up to either side of his face. “Why are you taking so long to kiss me?” He pulled Eric’s face to his and pushed his tongue into Eric’s open mouth. He heard a long soft sigh from Eric as he felt an arm go around his waist and another slide up his back to his neck to hold his head. It was as hot as the previous Friday, and in a couple of minutes Bailey felt hands slide down his torso and his shirt being pulled out of his pants. One of his hands went to the back of Eric’s head, its fingers deep in his curls. He felt Eric’s hands on both of his hips, then slip up onto his skin and slide up and around to his shoulder blades. He loved the electric feel of it.

Eric pulled back and whispered, “Is that okay?”

“God, you have to ask?”

“Take your shirt off?”

“You too.”

They parted long enough to toss them on the couch and as they came back into an embrace, Eric placed his hands on Bailey’s stomach, then slid them up to his pecs, rubbing his nipples. He was watching Bailey’s eyes. “You like?”

Bailey nodded, still trying to process this new sensation. Eric squeezed both nipples, almost enough to cause pain, but not quite. Bailey felt like a small shock had been sent from his chest to his groin.


“You like!” Eric pulled him back into a kiss and then said, “You sexual creature, you.” Bailey didn’t argue. He felt himself hardening and his hands stroking up and down Eric’s back. They ground together and Bailey felt Eric’s hands on his butt, pulling their groins close. Then his hands were on his chest and slid down from his chest to his belly, a finger following his treasure trail. Eric’s hand stopped when his fingers were inside Bailey’s underwear, the fingertips softly stroking his pubes.

Bailey watched Eric lean back and mouth the words, “Is this okay?” Bailey nodded agreement and pulled him back for another kiss. He felt the fingertips move onto the base of his almost hard cock. He could feel that Eric was hard and pressing against him as well. He couldn’t remember anything this sexually hot in his life.

After a minute, Eric broke the kiss and whispered softly in Bailey’s ear, “these clothes are in our way. Let’s go in the bedroom and get naked.” Bailey felt himself nod in agreement and followed Eric hand-in-hand. Eric turned next to the bed, drew Bailey to him and kissed him softly. His hands were at Bailey’s belt.

“Can I?” Bailey nodded and felt his belt being unbuckled and zipper opened. He did the same to Eric and they let their pants fall to the floor.

Eric whispered into his ear, “This is where we get practical and step out of the pants and underwear and shoes, so we don’t trip on them.”

Bailey nodded, feeling like he was in a dream. A beautiful and sexy dream. He toed off his shoes and stepped out of his clothes. Eric did the same. The soft end of the day’s light was coming through the windows and mixing with a small lamp next to the bed. Bailey looked at Eric. He was beautiful. He obviously worked out, and was nicely toned and muscled, but didn’t look like one of those guys that spent all his time prepping to stand in front of a mirror taking pictures of himself. He had a modest six pack, very little fat, dark blonde pubes, and below that a nicely proportioned, uncircumcised cock. Bailey had never been this close to one but wasn’t just struck by the contrast to his own circumcised one, but that it was… beautiful. Was that a weird thought to have? No. It was part of Eric who, he was learning more and more, was a beautiful person. Eric was watching his reaction, and his cock was almost fully hard, the foreskin half pulled back over the head.

Bailey looked up at Eric, saw the question in his eyes and said softly, “It’s beautiful. You’re beautiful. Can I touch it?”

Eric let out a sigh of relief and deep feeling. “You can do anything you want with it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s yours, just like my heart.”

“What are you saying?”

“That you’re beautiful too, Bailey McKenzie. And that I’m falling for you.” Eric held his gaze. “I know this is new for you, and may seem fast, and you don’t have to tell me back. I know you’re still working through stuff.”

“I am, and thanks, but this is hot.” Bailey reached for Eric’s cock and let the weight sit in the palm of his hand. He watched as it got harder, and the foreskin continued to pull back over the head. It was as if he’d never seen a sexier thing in his life. His hand closed around it, feeling the heat and reveling in the silky softness. Without thinking he began to softly stroke it.

He felt Eric’s hand close around his now totally hard cock, and then felt himself pulled into another deeply passionate kiss. Each of them trying to express their feelings to the other with their tongue and using their mouth to suck on each other’s lips. Bailey’s breathing sped up as he felt Eric stroking him, and then he groaned as he felt the sensations begin to overtake him.

He felt Eric pull back from the kiss and say, “We’ve got to slow down.”


“Because…well, there’s no reason.” Eric turned him and sat him on the edge of the bed. Never letting go of Bailey’s cock, he kissed his lips, then his neck, then both nipples and then down his belly to his cock. He dropped to his knees and looked up, mouthing the words, “Is this okay?”

In a haze of sensual overload, Bailey felt himself nod in agreement as he stroked the sides of Eric’s face. Then Eric’s mouth was on the head of his cock, his eyes holding Bailey’s gaze as he slowly licked below it.

Bailey groaned out a muffled “Oh my god,” struck by the intensity of the feeling. Eric put a hand on his chest and pulled off his cock. He softly said, “Lay back and enjoy. I want this to be the best ever.”

He flopped back and Eric began to administer what Bailey was quickly certain was the most amazing blow job in the history of mankind. Sure, he’d experienced it before, but nothing like this. Nothing like a lover that made it clear his whole purpose was to deliver as much sensation and pleasure as possible. He tried to visualize what Eric’s tongue was doing and how he managed to take all of him into his mouth. Within a couple of minutes, he felt his breathing turn to gasps, felt a moist fingertip stroke against his hole, and then realized he was about to cum. He raised his head, suddenly chagrined about cumming in Eric’s mouth.

“Eric, I’m going to cum.”

Eric caught his gaze and nodded his head, the smile evident in the gleam in his eyes.

Bailey’s head collapsed back on the bed and momentarily he felt the most intense climax of his life. As he got more sensitive, and without consciously thinking about it, he felt himself reach for Eric who climbed up on the bed next to him, hugging and kissing him. He tasted himself and wasn’t offended, and a moment later he realized both of them were further up the bed, lying on the pillows. Still reveling in the sensations, he turned to face Eric and pulled him close for a deep kiss. That’s when he felt Eric’s hard cock pressing against him.

Without even thinking about it, his hand slid down and started stroking it. It felt familiar and different at the same time, Eric’s foreskin making for an entirely new sensation. He heard Eric whisper, “you don’t have to do anything.”

He whispered back, huskily, “I want to,” and then kissed Eric’s hand. He found his mind focused on the feelings, those he’d recently felt and the same feelings he wanted to return to Eric. He pulled back a little and gave Eric a soft kiss on the lips as he pushed him onto his back. He kissed Eric’s neck and then nipples, remembering what Eric had done to him. Then he kissed down his belly, feeling a light and almost invisible treasure trail of light blonde hairs leading to his pubes.

His eyes were riveted on the head of Eric’s cock, watching the foreskin slide up and over and then down and past the head. He saw the precum he’d felt on his hand, his curiosity mounting. Glancing up at Eric, who was watching with an entranced expression on his face, he said softly, “I don’t know if I can, if I’m ready…”

Eric stroked the side of his face. “You don’t have to do anything, Bailey. Just what you’re comfortable with.”

Bailey had continued stroking, his imagination captured by the precum glistening on the head of Eric’s cock. Two strokes later, without even thinking about it, he leaned forward and licked it. He felt Eric shudder and heard him groan. He acknowledged that it was pleasant to do, not gross at all, and licked a few more times. He was pretty sure he was up to taking it in his mouth, but hesitated and kept stroking, then he heard Eric’s breathing speed up and his hips begin to buck into his hands. He stroked harder. Eric groaned louder and said, “I’m going to cum,” and pumped up into his hand. Bailey leaned back and watched the first of five releases of cum arch over Eric’s belly.

Observing Eric’s obvious pleasure, Bailey found himself satisfied he’d been able to please him. Please him as well as he could. He realized Eric had been right about being a sexual creature, and what Annabelle had said she’d heard about it being the person you’re with that matters, not their gender. When Eric said he had to stop because it was too sensitive, he slid back up to lay next to him.

“Was that good for you?”

Eric sighed deeply and said softly, “Best handjob ever.”

Bailey giggled. “That’s funny, because it was the best blowjob I’ve ever had.”

“You mean the best one ever from a guy?”

“Well, yeah, that too. Why is that?”

He was lying on his side, Eric still on his back. He was stroking Eric’s chest and belly, and without even realizing it, spreading his cum around on his torso. “There’s a saying in the gay world that guys give the best blow jobs because they have a cock. They know what feels best and what to do. Girls only do it because they’re supposed to.”

“I can get that. I couldn’t believe it when you took it all in your mouth.”

Eric chuckled. “That’s the deep-throat joke. Chicks naturally don’t want to take it all and gag. It makes sense. Guys that have had it happen know that the most intense feelings come when their lover’s cock is in the top of their throat.”

He turned to Bailey and kissed him softly. “This was your first time with a guy, and I wanted it to be the absolute best for you.”

“It was off the charts. I never knew it could be like that.”

“I figured you didn’t. That’s why I wanted to make sure it was good for you.”

Bailey could see across Eric’s chest to the bedside table where there was a small bottle of oil. “What’s the oil for. You didn’t use it.”

“I brought it along depending on what you were up for, if anything. I told you that you didn’t have to do anything, and I meant it.”

“And you were going to do what with the oil?”

Eric kissed his forehead. “If you weren’t ready for me sucking your off, I was thinking that we could do this joint hand job where we put the oil on our cocks and stroked them together.”

“You were willing to just do that, settle for that, to make me happy?”

“Hey, don’t make me sound like some kind of martyr. Cumming that way would have felt amazing, for both of us. Like I said, it was about what you were up for and not pushing you into something you weren’t ready for. We can still do that, you know.”

Bailey giggled. “I’d like to try. I never figured it’d be so hot to lick some guy’s cock, but it was. Now I’ve got this picture in my mind of my cock sliding back and forth next to yours.”

“Good. I’m glad you’ve got such a vivid imagination,” Eric said softly. “For the record that’s another thing you can do with a guy that you can’t with a girl.”

“Well, duh!”

“Yeah, goes without saying, right? The point is just that there’s ways to have sex and show affection that we can explore that are brand new to you. I want to show you as much pleasure and affection as I can. I want you to feel good about being a sexual creature.”

“I already am.”

“Good to hear. Let the adventure begin!” He turned onto his side and pulled Bailey tightly to him, kissing him deep and hard.


Bailey woke first the next morning, finding that he was on his side with Eric behind him. Eric’s arm was over his waist, his hand pressed against Bailey’s stomach. Eric was hard and Bailey was aware of it pressing against him. He thought about his first response the night before, thinking that it was beautiful, and then discovering for himself just how beautiful it was. Then he found himself wondering. It was hard not to with a warm cock against his crack, but he wasn’t worried. Everything Eric had done so far had been sensitive and only with Bailey’s agreement. He wasn’t so naïve he didn’t know about anal sex, but he satisfied himself that if they got there, they’d get there when he was ready. That’s when he felt the urges of his bladder.

He carefully lifted Eric’s arm and went to the bathroom, and when he came back Eric had turned onto his back. Bailey slipped back under the sheet and light blanket, sliding up next to Eric and placing his hand lightly on the rising and falling chest. It was not just quiet, but so peaceful, and the feeling of waking beside this person who obviously cared for him and had made him feel so good the night before made his heart sing. After a minute Eric turned his head and opened one eye.

“Isn’t it too early to get up?”

“There’s no rule says we have to, is there?”

“Nope. It’s nice waking up with you next to me, feeling your touch.”

“I was just thinking the same thing. How happy and at peace I feel.”

Eric turned on his side so there were facing each other. “Seriously? That’s how you feel? Happy and at peace?”

Bailey smiled and nodded.

“Oh, man! That makes me feel so good. As we fell asleep, I was worrying I pushed you too far and too fast.”

“Stop worrying about that. I’m a big boy. I know how to say no.”

“Okay. Should I apologize that you woke up with my hard-on poking you in the ass?”

“No need to apologize. I’m not anywhere near ready to go there, but it felt good.” He reached up and touched his middle finger to his lips and them touched Eric’s lips with it, then continued, “Do you know why?”

“I could guess, but why don’t you just tell me.”

“Because it’s part of you. It’s beautiful like you, and I trust you.”

“Thank you, Bailey. But if you keep telling me I have a beautiful cock I’m going to get hard.”

“I thought that was the plan. We can’t do the oil thing unless you’re hard, right?”

Eric’s eyes widened. “Sexual creature indeed. What have I created?”

“You go take a piss and then when you come back, we’ll find out.”


On the drive back to his apartment Bailey reflected on what Eric had called the oil-play session. It was fun and sensuous and felt great. They’d showered together and then walked for breakfast before they went their separate ways. Over breakfast, Eric had told him he’d forgotten to mention something else that he’d learned at the SPCA the afternoon before. They needed volunteers for the weekends.

“You think I should volunteer at the shelter?”

“I’m just telling you about it. They had a sign up about volunteers needed. I thought it was kind of karmic because I’m working on their project design and your dad was connected to the shelter.”

As he thought about it, it did feel like a full circle kind of thing. When he got home, he changed and went for a run, during which the thought about volunteering came back. It was neat that his dad and now Eric had a connection to the shelter. Maybe he should call them just to find out the details.

After he cleaned up and had lunch, he called and found out that the volunteers they needed were for Saturday and Sunday, working in the shelter with the animals themselves, feeding, cleaning and walking them. “The problem in the summer is that no one wants to work the weekend. When the weather is good, they want to be outside having a good time. No one thinks that the animals still have their needs too.”

He told her he’d think about it and maybe call back. Why would he want to volunteer for eight hours and consume most of one of his weekend days? Other than because the animals still needed to eat and poop and be exercised. And that he had a small apartment, and it was easy to keep clean and there was no yard work. And that he’d always wanted his dad to get another dog after Daisy died, but Colin was busy and then wanted to spend the time with Bailey and his friends.

He did laundry and was putting the clean clothes away when Dan called wanting to know if he was up for a couple of beers in the evening? “You’re not seeing Becky?”

“No, we had a date last night and she’s doing something with her sister and some friends. I didn’t want to be part of it.”

They agreed on a time and Bailey finished his chores and was going to call Eric when he remembered that he was going over to his dad’s shop to work on the stereo cabinet. He decided to leave him alone and let him call, and hopefully it’d be before he met Dan.

He called a little after five o’clock. They compared notes on the day and Bailey asked about his progress. “Well, I got all the individual pieces for the tambour doors cut and routed and sanded. That’s only about a third of the work for the doors, though, ‘cause now they’ve got to be cut to length and finished, then glued onto the backing canvas, and then I’ve got to build the tracks they run in.”

“Wow. Sounds complicated.”

“Sounds more complicated than it is. There’s a lot of steps, but each one is pretty simple actually. Now, tell me about the highlights of your day.”

“Well, let’s see. Would that be going for a run or doing the laundry or calling the shelter?”

“How did that go?”

“Like you said, they need volunteers, and the openings they have are the type that require the highest skill sets from the volunteers.”

“Oh yeah? Why does that not sound right?”

“Because it’s feeding and watering and cleaning kennels and exercising.”

“Sounds like fun!”

“You know, it might be. I’ve been thinking about it. I always wanted dad to get another dog after Daisy died. But it’d be an eight-hour shift, and that’s one day of the weekend.”

“True, but it’s for a good cause. Are you seriously thinking about it?”

“Well, you know, I live in a small apartment, and I do have time on my hands on the weekend. Unless you agree to take me on picnics every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and then I’d be way too socially committed to even consider something like this.”

“Ha ha, Bailey. You know what, though, I think it would be a good thing to do. You just moved back; you’ve lived in Binghamton for college except for the summers. You’d be helping all those animals, and connecting with a place your dad cared about.”

“Just the kind of things I was thinking about on my run. I told the lady I’d call her back tomorrow. There’s a serious question here, though. I’m seeing you. I like you a lot and I want that to continue. And I know you’ve got your commitments and schedule, but if I do this, what day would be best for us, since we live in two different towns and basically see each other on the weekend.”

“I don’t think it matters. We’ve got Friday or Saturday nights. I can work out and do my chores on either day. This carpentry project is only to going to go on for so long. You decide if you want to do this, and pick the day that’s best for you and we’ll make it work for us.”

“You’ll be okay if we meet up after I work at the shelter and I smell like cat piss?”

“Well, no. But you do have a shower and they make these amazing new products called deodorants and cologne.”

“Very funny. Okay, I’ll think about it. I’m meeting Dan in a while for a couple of beers and something to eat. I wish it was you instead of him.”

“Hey! He’s your best friend. You can’t let us come between you two.”

“You’re right. I was just being dopey because I’d like a replay of last night.”

“You’re guaranteed one no more than six days from now.”

“Is that a promise or a threat?”

“Don’t you need to get ready to drink beer with Dan?”

“Yeah. Thanks for calling. I love hearing your voice and miss you.”

“Miss you too. We’ll talk in the morning.”


Dan was already in a booth with a pint, so Bailey stopped at the bar for one before joining him. They caught up about the week and Dan joked that it was nonstop road repair. “You know the joke about the two seasons in northern Minnesota, don’t you?”

Bailey looked blank and shook his head.

“Winter and road repair.” He laughed at his own joke and added, “The winters here are almost as bad. I’m working ten-hour days during the week, and the crews are lucky they’re not making us work on the weekend.”

“Can they make you?”

“No way. We’re all union, so they can’t ‘cause it’s not in our contract.”

Bailey replied, “Talking about weekends, I’m thinking about volunteering at the SPCA shelter one day a weekend. It turns out dad was involved and supported them. What do you think?”

“What’s the pay?”

“There is no pay. It’s a volunteer position.”

“Like I said, what’s the pay?”

“Oh. Ha ha! I’ve got a good job. I don’t need the extra money. Anyway, they’re short of volunteers so it’s a real need.”

“Knock yourself out if you’ve got a day to waste. Just don’t ask me to do your laundry or wash your dishes or whatever.” He finished his pint and then added, “If you want to do it, it’d probably be a good thing to do. You’re not dating, so you’ve got time on your hands and don’t have your weekends eaten up with ‘honey do’ lists.”

“What are those?”

“They’re the lists your girlfriend or partner or wife gives you. Like ‘honey do this,’ or ‘honey do that.’ You’re telling me you’ve never heard of them?”

“Nope. Maybe because dad wasn’t married. There wasn’t someone around to make the lists.”

“Well, it’s the price you pay. Don’t tell me you didn’t have that with Morgana?”

“Yeah, some of the time. We tried to split the duties; you know. I just never heard it called that.”

Bailey finished his pint and looked at Dan. “We’re you and Becky out on a date last night?”

He nodded. “Yeah, went to see Oppenheimer. It was pretty good actually. Learned a lot about nuclear bombs.”

“I was on a date too.”

“What? You were? How come I didn’t know about it?”

“Because it wasn’t here. It was dinner after work.”

“So, you’ve met someone at work. That’s interesting.”

“Well, yeah at work, but not someone who works for the same company. It’s an architect that’s part of a new construction project, and I’m on the project team.”

“So, who is this lady?”

Bailey knew this whole conversation was a risk, but he had to trust his best friend and he wasn’t going to hide or lie about it. “This architect is a guy, and he lives in Syracuse.”

“Oh. A guy?”

“Yeah, Dan. A guy.” Dan looked across the bar and waved at the waitress for two more pints. He looked back at Bailey and said, “Gotta say, I didn’t see that coming.”

“Me either. It just happened. His name’s Eric and he’s smart and cool and funny and that’s who I had dinner with.”

“So, you’re telling me you’re gay?”

“No, I’m telling you I’ve gone out a couple of times with this guy. He’s gay and I’m still figuring out what it all means.”

The waitress put down their pints and Dan gave her a ten-dollar bill.

“I don’t want to sound like an idiot, Bailey, but if two guys are dating, doesn’t that mean they’re both gay?” He paused, the meaning of what he’d said causing him to add, “Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against gays. Your dad was gay, he was more of a dad to me than mine was. I’m just surprised, that’s all.”

“You’re not the only one surprised. It’s only been a short time, but it feels good.”

“And Morgana? I mean is this some kind of rebound?”

“I didn’t plan it to be. But the truth is like I told you. We were drifting apart, and I’ve been on a downer since we broke up, and I feel like I’m coming back to life being with Eric. I told Annabelle about it, and she said we fall in love with a person not a gender and she was happy for me.”

“Hey, I’m happy for you too, bro. If that’s the formula and it makes you happy, then I’m cool. I’m just surprised. But Colin taught us to be tolerant and compassionate. He sure was, and he gave a lot of himself for me and mom and my sisters. You won’t find me being a homophobe, I can tell you that.”

“Cool. You know what? I knew there was an outside risk telling you about it, but I never doubted you’d say and do the right thing.” He reached out a closed fist. “Best friends then. Best friends now.”

Dan bumped Bailey’s fist with his and added, “Best friends forever.”

The next morning Eric called while Bailey was sipping coffee and looking at the news on his phone.

After they’d caught up, Bailey said, “I told Dan last night about dating you.”

“Whoa! Really? I’m proud of you. How did that go?”

“It went great. He’s open-minded. Remember, dad was more of a dad to Dan and his sisters than their birth fathers, so he learned tolerance. He was surprised, but totally cool.”

“And he didn’t ask any weird questions?”

“He asked if I was gay, and I told him I wasn’t and was till figuring this stuff out.”

“Anything else?”

“What do you mean?”

“Some guys aren’t just surprised, they’re either put off, or suddenly curious about gay sex?”

“Oh! No, he didn’t even go there. Good thing too, ‘cause I wouldn’t have known what to say and probably said something dumb.”

“I’m happy for you. For a lot of guys in your position it would be hard to do.”

“I’m happy for me too. I’m not gay, but I’m dating you and totally into it, and I’m not hiding it or lying about it, or anything like that.”


The next morning, Bailey drove to the SPCA shelter and signed up as a volunteer. He’d gone back and forth on which day of the weekend, but settled on Sunday as a quieter day less likely to interfere with his blossoming social schedule and likelier to see less activity at the shelter compared to Saturday. The lady at the front desk was very pleased and had him fill out the necessary paperwork. When that was done, she gave him his schedule which was eight to five with a one-hour lunch. Then she asked if he had time to see the work firsthand. He nodded and she called one of the volunteers on duty. A lady in her late twenties came out, by name of Leslie, introduced herself and then took him back.

She walked him through the facility, showing him the cages and kennels and introducing him to the various animals. Then she explained the usual routines of feeding, cleaning and exercise. He learned that there were normally two volunteers on each day shift, but they were one short for both weekend days which meant that the volunteers that worked during the week had been pressed into service. “You doing this means a lot for the animals, but for us too. I normally work on Tuesday and Wednesday, but couldn’t say no to helping out on Sunday till your position got filled. It’s been three weeks, and you can guess that my husband isn’t too happy.”

That piece of personal story made him feel even better about his decision, and he stayed to help her do the late morning exercise and mid-day feeding. He also learned that some of the animals were doubled up because they were out of space, and heard firsthand the excitement that the project for a new building was underway. Leslie also gave him an important piece of advice: don’t get too attached to any of the animals. “The reason we’re here is to house and help them in order to find them a good home. That means they all leave sooner or later. Be kind and take care of them, but if you let yourself get attached that just means you’ll be feeling bad when they leave.” By the time he was done for the day, he had a new friend and a new respect for the commitment and care that people like her brought to their volunteer work.

When he got home, he called Eric and told him what had happened and how positive he felt about it. They both agreed it was karma at work. Eric appreciated learning the shelter really needed more space, and then asked if he was ready to go with his first dashboard mockups. “Yeah, as much as I can be at this point. They’re just rough layouts in a drawing app, so nothing fancy. I’m guessing pretty much everything will get changed four or five times before we get to the point that the dashboard displays what Everett wants.”

“When it gets solid, it’ll probably help to actually apply some design to it. I’m no web designer, by any means, but have done a little for the firm, and have some friends that are really good, so I can help when you get there.”

Bailey filed that away and thanked him. Then he said, “I wish we lived closer together. Then we could hang out more. I miss you already. I don’t just mean getting it on, either. I mean just being together.”

“Welcome to my world. For now, we live where we live, and we can talk a lot and text. And, not to forget, there are those first kiss pictures on our phones.” Eric then changed the subject. “I’ve got a question to ask you about next weekend. Will you come here and stay with me? In my apartment? We can have dinner here or go out to a club or whatever on Friday night. I’d like you to meet my parents on Saturday.”

“Sure, that sounds fun. It’ll be nice to see your place and meeting your parents is cool. How do we do it?”

“We drive here after work on Friday. Better to both drive our cars, then you can drive back on Saturday if you want, or you have the option to stay Saturday night and leave early to get back for your first shift at the shelter.”

“Do you always plan ahead like this?”

“In my business you have to plan ahead.”

“Are you excited about having me stay at your place?”

“I’m excited to be with you, and even better it will be here.”

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