Epilogue: A Private Party
“You gonna be okay now?” Ellery asked, his voice soft, the twinkle of mischief gone from his eye as he looked across the living room at Colson, who was hovering in the doorway of the kitchen. They were home at last, having stayed the day, into the evening, dinner and pie devolving into snacks and leftovers deftly served and reheated by Edna, Sally and Lauren, and – to Ellery’s surprise, Nick Sampson, who seemed completely relaxed in his role as Red Stallion server at the party, who made sure Jeremy’s glass was topped up with beer after an initial toast of champagne. Colson had come downstairs – at last, pretending a bluff smile and polite greetings to those whose opinions mattered most to him – Edna and Wes, and Mel, who looked perfectly at home on his own. The others, while offering best wishes, and in Wayne’s case, a toaster, seemed to fade into the background of Colson’s awareness and he seemed to unbend that rigidity that the formal wear seemed to imply. It was like any other church event – without the preacher or the blue-haired clucking matrons who knew his private business and how long he had been unemployed, the expectant looks of the wives to whom Laura had undoubtedly complained about his unexplained absences for his camping trips to the White Mountains. He hadn’t realized how much this, too, had bothered him, and why he shunned parties, but there were no looks of condemnation or judgement that he could see, just genuine pleasure and enjoyment in his new life. It helped, too, that his girls were not there: there was no trouble they could get up to that would make life harder down the road. The worst part of this party had been his fear of it, and his arguments with Ellery.
“I dunno, guess so,” Colson said. “Ya want some coffee?” He looked into the kitchen.
“Real coffee? Sure, might need ta get my pressure up a bit after all a that champagne,” Ellery grinned, loosening his tie. “Get out a this monkey suit.”
“You’d best leave that on ya, cause I got plans for it.”
“You ain’t gonna ruin another tuxedo are ya Colson?”
“Sure, why not?” Colson said. “Ain’t every day a couple a queer men celebrate bein married with the sheriff a the county. Besides, we’re rich enough ta go gallivantin off ta Puerto Rico ta see them silly paso fino horses with Wes – what’s one tuxedo?”
“It’s such a shame though. Simon got a good picture a us wearin these things. He should a got one of us kissin.”
Colson moved from the doorway at last, not toward the coffee pot, his eyes dark in the shadows, his face still. “That ain’t for takin pictures of, boy,” he said, voice husky, fingers closing on the still-crisp sleeve. It wasn’t Ellery’s dress blacks, but the figure he cut in the smooth linen and wool jacket and crisp shirt drew Colson in a different way. Ellery was a serious man, an important man in an important-looking suit. And he’s mine. His breath caught as his hand grasped the narrow elbow and drew Ellery unresisting toward him, and he remembered with a pang of clear memory, one day on a riding trail – he had driven four hours at a stretch, pulse beating in his throat, cock pressed unrelenting against his fly, and the spark of intense arousal as his hands finally closed on the smooth dressed leather of Adam’s new jacket and pushed it off his shoulders, burying his face in the fresh smell of cologne – even after an all-day ride from Casa Grande, Adam still smelled like new-dressed leather and masculinity, his desire made desperate by distance and anticipation. Adam had had a windfall and was dressing more smartly after he had started working in real estate, a veneer of respectability lent to him by the shiny new truck and expensive boots, while Colson stayed as he was, barely noticing anything but the hungry need in his body, the comfort of companionship almost always denied. How could I live that way? He thought with amazement, his arms tightening with an almost brutal force on Ellery’s sharp shoulders as his mouth hungered for this new taste, the taste of familiar privacy, kissing him with eyes shut tight, body suddenly trembling as if it were his first kiss after years of yearning.
“Mmmm yer horny,” Ellery commented, hands slipping down the outside of Colson’s jacket and finding the hard muscle that lay beneath the finished cloth, squeezing his ass and grinding against his rigid cock.
“Too much champagne,” Colson said, voice rough and low. “Ain’t used ta that shit.”
“Hmmm…” Ellery smirked, smiling into his face. “Do anything special to ya?”
“I dunno, we could find out. Unless ya want some a that coffee.”
“Hm…. Maybe after… there’s coffee… an then there’s you. An you taste a whole lot better ta me right now than Juan Valdez.”
Colson nodded once and let him go, then bent slightly and caught the lighter body around shoulders and knees, lifting Ellery off the floor and pulling him into a side carry. “Don’t kick the door with them shiny new shoes, boy,” he growled, and Ellery slung an arm around his neck.
“Carryin me over the threshold?” Ellery smirked. “You are the romantic type.”
“Don’t need no pictures a that,” Colson said, shifting his hold and walking stiff legged the dozen steps down the hall and maneuvering him through the door, then setting him gently on the bed, fumbling the sleek black belt open and unzipping himself.
Ellery grinned up at Colson from the bed, watching the heaving chest as Colson stripped off the jacket and tugged down his pants, not making a move to undress. “C’mon boy, lemme see all a that – Jack Nicholson ain’t got nothin on you…” he said, sliding his fingers down the length of his black silk tie with a hiss.
Colson shot him a look, aroused and determined now, provoked by his urging. “You keep still,” he said, making short work of the cuffs of the shirt, new silver cufflinks now lost somewhere under the bed as he knelt, naked, between the slightly opened knees of his lover.
Ellery cocked his chin up, a look of bright, drunken challenge on his face – an intoxication that could not be explained by the champagne or medication, and Colson stared down at the hands rising to press against his chest. “Or – what?”
Colson slid his right hand around the back of Ellery’s neck, pushing the smooth locks away with his fingers and bending low into another silencing kiss, and this time, his eyes were open, his free hand working open the pearl buttons of Ellery’s dress shirt. “Or this.”
“Mmmmm… “ Ellery seemed slow, sluggish by contrast with other times, Colson thought… is he drunk? How much champagne did he drink? How was the pain? He had not – as far as Colson knew, had trouble at the reception. Usually there were telltale signs: fidgeting, suddenly lurching up and vanishing into the bathroom, followed by the development of that metallic shine in his eyes that told Colson he was dosing the pain once more. But there had been none of that, this time. Ellery squirmed, hand snaking down between them, grabbing, but Colson had him pinned too securely to wiggle as he worked the buttons systematically and tugged up the black t-shirt beneath it, finally touching the too-hot flesh of his body. Running his engine too high, he thought.
When Colson at last retreated from the kiss to get Ellery’s belt open, he looked down at his lover’s slack mouth and gleaming gaze, and opened his mouth to ask:
“I’m fine, Colson. Fuck me fer Chrissakes an stop worryin about my back.”
Colson smiled crookedly. “Maybe now we’re officially married an all I can get a permission slip from yer doctor…”
“It’s bein filed at the courthouse right now,” Ellery said, now impatient enough to unbuckle the slick snakeskin belt himself and slide the trousers off his hips with a sharp tug. “We don’t got ta wait for the paperwork.”
“Ya sure?” Colson teased, now reaching for the lube.
“Oh yeah. You can take that from a man a the law,” Ellery was now the one desperate for it, shimmying down and putting his hands on Colson’s hips. “Gimme what ya got.”
“You say please,” Colson replied, still uncertain, knowing that his uncertainty was not caused by Ellery himself, but by a sudden and compelling recognition of how easily none of this might have happened, that the lover he now held and had at last celebrated this impossible event of their live together, might not have responded to that veiled look that even Colson had not himself understood in May, but now seemed self-evident. It all seemed to hinge on this man, and he was reluctant all over again – to claim him.
“I do, huh? Well okay, please. An gimme!” Ellery arched up toward Colson and bent his knees around the backs of Colson’s thighs, and Colson set down the lube, his hand greasing himself automatically, then bending to the task, his breath slightly arrested as he looked down again... at what was his, the shirt, now hopelessly creased lying beneath the long torso, and he gave a single, well-aimed thrust, Ellery’s glittering gaze made sultry by the look of intense pleasure that passed his face as his Colson penetrated him, his deep moan that could have belonged to either of them signalling the height of their arousal, the moment of a dance that could not be witnessed by any but themselves – a private dance, in a private party in a circle of two. The time had come for them to shut themselves away, together, to perform a mystery of pleasure, a rite of passion that somehow gave meaning to all the rest of it – the job, the housekeeping, the innumerable little arguments and negotiations… how could Colson explain to their friends the fear that they would not have this – their fragile, breakable privacy.
“Aw fuck…” Colson growled, a shudder of relief washing through him, past the point of no return now, thrusting hard, the chill of early winter not preventing the sweat of exertion from trickling down his sides, and he leaned in, bending, seeking the slack, moaning mouth of his lover.
“C’mon, c’mon –“ Ellery begged softly, his words suddenly cut off by the hard thrust of hips and demanding pressure of Colson’s mouth, and then his teeth, nipping Ellery’s bottom lip, and shuddered again as he came, hand reaching down now to pump his lover’s cock, and fingers closed over his grasping hand, followed by a warm flood and a low, relieved moan.
“You weren’t actin like yer usual,” Colson commented, dabbing at a trickle of sweat making its way slowly down his Ellery’s chest with the tail of the ruined tuxedo shirt.
“I wasn’t in no hurry anymore, sweetheart,” Ellery said, smiling lazily up at him.
“Even if ya got ta work tomorrow?”
“No work tomorrow – well, today after all. Wes’s gonna round up Nate for Dupree ta review testimony with after he sleeps it off – god knows what he’s getting up to right now –“ he flashed a mischievous smile. “With that trucker friend a Simon’s. “Maybe he’s bein devirginized. Recallin a witness an reviewin testimony’s always easier after bein devirginized.”
“Ya don’t say,” Colson said, watching him carefully. “No hurry no more, huh?”
Ellery shook his head. “Yeah. Which means ya got ta comb my hair now an whisper sweet nothins.” As Colson watched him speak, he saw the unusual swelling in Ellery’s bottom lip from his teeth, giving him a saucier pouting expression. “What the hell are you looking at, I got a mosquito hibernatin in my nose or something?”
Colson coughed a sudden laugh. “I’m looking at yer pretty mouth. Yer pretty as a girl with yer lip swoll up like that.”
Ellery’s brows shot up. “That a fact–“
Colson smirked. “An I ain’t in no hurry neither.”
“Good… does that mean yer gonna make me some a Juan Valdez’s coffee now? Cause that’d just about make this the best weddin night I ever did have.”
In the brief pause before Colson heaved himself up, one hand still holding on to Ellery as if he were a talisman, there was a distant ringing in the kitchen and the answering machine turned on, and he stared at it. “Who the hell is that this time a night?”
“Nobody from the Sheriff’s department, sweetheart, an that is all either one of us has got ta know,” Ellery said softly.
Colson nodded, satisfied. “We should a done this a long time ago.”
“Yep.” Ellery slipped his hand over Colson’s reassuring hand, this time, the left hand with its smooth gold band. “Now we ain’t in no hurry anymore.”