2007, The End of the Beginning.
By Joan Z
Jim hummed as he cooked New Years Eve dinner and thought about the past year.
It had been a good one. His sentinel abilities were sharp, as sharp as ever and he was in control. He hadn’t had a single zone out during the year. The apartment that used to be no more than a mailing address and a place to sleep was now a home complete with the man he loved.
His brother, Steve, had been the first in his family to accept Blair as Jim’s mate. William, his dad had come to tolerate the relationship once he realized that Jim had finally found some happiness.
Carolyn was a different story. She was pissed when she found out that Jim had “gone gay.” Jim tried to explain to her that he had no leanings toward men before or while they were married. “Blair is my guide and the only man I’ve ever been interested in,” he told her.
It didn’t help. She was convinced that everyone was laughing at her behind her back so she took a job as a security advisor to a large company based in Massachusetts and left Cascade.
Naomi was a surprise. She swept in like the wind and acted like Jim was not good enough for her son. Her constant comments about her “empathic boy being mated to a gorilla that wouldn’t know a true emotion if it kicked him in the ass,” got on Jim’s nerves after awhile. When Naomi found the silver wolf and panther wine glass markers Jim’s resolve to hold his temper cracked.
“Put those back!” he said in a voice that was clearly very angry.
Naomi’s head popped up and she looked into the eyes of an angry sentinel. Most people would have backed down, apologized, but not Naomi Sandburg; she stood her ground. “Why, they’re just wine glass markers? I’m not going to hurt them. They are lovely; my son has good taste.”
“I bought them,” Jim growled as he grabbed them away from her. “They belong to Blair and me and I don’t like anyone else touching them.”
“Everything in this apartment belongs to you or Blair. I don’t recall you getting upset about me touching anything else.”
“These belong to US!”
Naomi looked genuinely surprised. “Are you saying you love my son, you really love him? You’re not just using him?”
“You’re selling your son short. Blair wouldn’t let himself be used that way.”
“I know my son; he’s a sucker for anyone needy and a sentinel needs a guide.”
“You know the boy,” Jim said. “I know the man and the man would have left.”
Jim watched Naomi’s face as everything clicked into place.
“He nearly left you,” she whispered, “and the wolf and the panther represent his staying.”
Jim just stared at Naomi, his anger forgotten.
“They have sentimental value beyond price, that’s why you don’t want me to touch them, it’s like an invasion,” She said thoughtfully. When she looked into his eyes he could see a change in attitude. “I’ve misjudged you Jim and I’m sorry.” After that things were better with Naomi.
Three months after she left a painting of a panther and a wolf was delivered to the apartment. The card that came with it said simply, “To my two sons, with love, Naomi.”
It now hung in a place of honor in the living room.
When Jim heard the elevator he slipped out of his cloths and quickly hung them in the closet. He was wearing the skimpy Speedo that Blair had given him for his birthday. It was Blair’s favorite welcome home outfit. Jim was confused when Blair gave it to him, they did not often go swimming.
“It shows off all the yummy parts,” Blair explained as he stroked Jim’s body, “and the way that dark line of hair travels from your belly button and disappears under the suit is an invitation for me to take it off.”
By the time Jim opened the apartment door for Blair everything was ready. Sinatra sang, “It had to be you,” on the stereo, the candles were lit, the Champaign was cool and New Years Eve Dinner was ready and on the table, and his erection made a large lump in his Speedo.
As soon as Blair entered the apartment Jim gave him a welcome home kiss.
Blair stroked Jim’s bulge. “Is that for me?” he asked.
“For desert,” Jim said as he took Blair’s coat and hung it up.
Blair watched with his head tilted as Jim walked to the closet. “I never get tired of watching you,” Blair said.
“That’s good, Chief, because I never get tired of you watching me,” Jim said with a smile.
They sat at the table and Jim poured the Champaign for a toast. “Before we drink a toast there is something I want to say. Last year was a new beginning for us. This year that beginning is over and I’ve discovered how good life can be.” Jim pulled a small box from under his napkin and then he walked over and knelt in front of Blair. I know we can’t do this legally, not just yet anyway so I’ll just ask…”
Jim opened the box and held it so Blair could see. “Will you wear my ring?”
“Oh, my God, Jim,” Blair said with tears welling up in his eyes.
“Is that a yes, Chief?”
“Yes! Of course yes.”
Jim slipped the ring onto Blair’s left hand. “With this ring I thee wed,” he whispered as his voice caught in his throat.
Blair pulled Jim into a kiss when it ended he held Jim’s face in his hands. “This goes both ways, you know, Tuesday we go to the jewelry store and buy a ring for you.”
Jim smiled. “Look under your napkin, Chief.”
Blair lifted the napkin and picked up another ring box. “ I should have known,” he said with a shake of his head. He took the ring out of the box and slipped it onto Jim’s finger. “With this ring I thee wed,” he repeated.
Jim stood up and picked up his glass the silver panther seemed to blink in the candlelight. “To the New Year,” he said, “and to my Guide, my mate, and my one true love.”
Blair raised his glass, the silver wolf and Blair looked into Jim’s blue eye. “To my one true love.”
When midnight came they lay naked in their bed in each other’s arms and kissed in the New Year.