In last week's episode, Lee gave Marshall something to think about - namely, why he doesn't like Dustin. Will he have an answer? Find out in this week's chapter of Moving Forward! Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
Don't Look Back #13 (3.6)
After half an hour of intense contemplation, Marshall rose from the floor, taking deep calming breaths. He thought he was ready to face Lee now.
He found Lee sitting in his recliner, a half empty beer bottle on the table beside him, a book in his lap. Marshall assumed the same position on the floor in front of him, head down, waiting for Lee to speak.
“Marshall, are you ready to answer my question?”
“Good. Go run and put on a pair of shorts and come right back.”
Marshall never questioned why. He hurried into the bedroom, grabbed the first pair he could lay his hands on and yanked them on, then returned to Lee. Lee nodded toward the sofa. “Take a seat,” he said, and his voice wasn’t either cold or harsh. Marshall realized he wasn’t angry, just concerned.
“So why does Dustin bother you so much?” Lee began. “Enough to make you forget all the manners I’ve taught you.”
Marshall winced. Lee was right. His behavior was a reflection on Lee, naturally. He hadn’t been thinking, simply reacting.
“I didn’t mean to. I never thought… that is….” Falling silent, he risked a glance at Lee. He saw only compassion in his eyes.
Lee rose, with a sigh, and dropped down onto the sofa beside Marshall. He laid his hand on Marshall’s thigh. “Continue,” he said softly. “I know you have more to say….”
“Yeah, I do.” Encouraged by Lee’s tenderness, he tried to put into words things he didn’t completely understand. “To begin with, I think he’s pushy. And kinda arrogant, you know? And he seems to have a mighty high opinion of himself. And—”
“And you find him attractive?” Lee filled in the blank.
Marshall’s eyes went wide, and he felt heat flame in his cheeks. “I do not!’ he protested, but one look into Lee’s eyes and he knew that he wasn’t speaking the truth, and he knew Lee knew it.
“It’s all right to find someone else attractive. There are many attractive men in this world. Better looking men than me.”
“You’re the best looking man I know!” Marshall said fiercely, feeling disloyal for ever having thought Dustin was attractive.
Lee took Marshall’s hand in his own. “I appreciate the sentiment, but I have eyes, and I know better. I know you’re looking with your heart, and that’s great. But don’t be afraid to say you’re attracted to someone else. It’s not a crime. It’s not even cheating, just looking.”
“But Lee, I love only you,” Marshall protested, “so why would I find Dustin attractive?”
“You do, though, don’t you?”
Marshall could only nod, mutely, not trusting his voice.
“He’s a good-looking young man, that’s why. And I know he thinks you’re pretty good-looking too.”
“You mean he’s…. he’s….” Marshall couldn’t say the words.
“Hitting on you? Yeah, I think he is. Why else would he want to come down here to get his computer fixed when Denver works in a place that does that very same thing?”
“That’s what I wondered,” Marshall admitted.
“Did it never occur to you he might be interested in you?”
“Well, no. I mean, he knows we’re together. Why would he?”
Lee gently stroked Marshall’s cheek, a slight smile lifting the corner of his mouth. “Because he can? A lot of guys don’t see things the same way we do. They don’t think being with someone else is wrong, especially if they don’t have partners of their own.”
“Like Dustin. He’s young, he’s single, and he makes his own rules. Doesn’t make him a bad person.”
Marshall scowled, trying to take everything in. His own reactions confused him as much as the idea Dustin was hitting on him. Sure, he’d had guys try to lure him away from Lee at Partners, but they always took no for an answer, and he never thought twice about them. But Dustin was different, and he didn’t know why. And the not knowing was making him feel guilty, even though he didn’t think he had anything to feel guilty about.
Marshall heard Lee expel a long breath.
“You know I only want what’s good for you, right?”
“If the time should ever come when you want to be with someone else, I don’t want you to be afraid to come to me and tell me. I’ll understand. Just as long as he’s a good man.”
“You…you would give me up? Just like that?” Marshall knew he sounded hurt. Not surprisingly. Lee’s words had taken him by surprise.
“I wouldn’t want to,” Lee said after a long pause, “but I’d never stand in your way, not if you truly loved someone else. I’d understand—”
“Well, I don’t understand,” Marshall interrupted. “I thought it was you and me. Forever. You told me so.”
“And so it will be.” Lee kissed Marshall’s forehead softly. “I’ll never stop loving you, and I’ll always be here for you. But I understand how things can change, especially considering the gap in our ages. As I get older… you might just want someone closer to your own age, someone you feel more comfortable with.”
“Never!” Marshall protested. “I don’t love him, I love you. Only you.” He pulled Lee to him, meshing their lips together, kissing him as hard as he could. Lee’s moan vibrated between them. He tangled his fingers in Lee’s hair and held on tightly. He wasn’t giving him up. He’d never give him up. Not for Dustin or anyone else.
By the time he released Lee, they were both breathing in ragged gasps.
“Lee, you’re the only one I love. The only one I’ll ever love. You and me. Forever.” Marshall claimed Lee’s mouth once more, their tongues battling for supremacy. Marshall boldly slid his hand between them, cupping Lee. Lee was rock hard. Marshall was too.
to be continued
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