Excerpt from You Can’t Choose Your Family

Just as a little reminder of what the first story was like…

 

“JAYSON MOLENSKI, stop fussing over me!” Fran swatted away his boyfriend’s hands and knotted his tie himself.
“It’s crooked and your mother will fuss. Now whose hands do you prefer all over that buff body of yours?”
Fran sighed. “Mother will be too busy grieving to fuss over my tie.”
“That’ll be the day,” Jay muttered under his breath.
“You don’t know her,” Fran replied, obviously frustrated.
“And whose fault is that?” Jay said sharply. He toned it down almost immediately, though, and gave Fran a compassionate smile to smooth over his harsh words.
It had been their bone of contention for the past twenty years. Almost before they were convinced they were a couple, Jay had introduced Fran as his boyfriend to everyone who wanted to hear, and that included his extended family. In fact, the first time they’d had full-blown sex was in front of the fireplace at Jay’s parents’ winter cabin while the rest of the family was honoring their long tradition of going caroling in the village square. Jay had promised that they’d hear his family coming from miles away, but they hadn’t counted on the fact that their rigorous sex would leave them both sound asleep in front of the family hearth. Luckily Jay’d had the brilliant idea of covering them both up with a quilt; otherwise everyone from Jay’s grandparents to his one-year-old nephew would have been privy to the glorious sight of their bare asses.
It was still one of those stories that got told late at night after everyone had ingested too much eggnog. It never ceased to embarrass Fran, but deep down he was eternally grateful that it had been the surefire way of getting accepted into his boyfriend’s family. The following morning Howard, Jay’s father, had slapped Fran on the back with a heartfelt, “I guess you can call me Dad from now on, Son,” and that had been the end of the ordeal. Everyone had accepted that Fran was Jay’s boyfriend and had simply expected them to be together forever. Libby, Jay’s mom, often commented on how Jay had struck it lucky and how she felt she’d at least done something right with one of her kids, since the other two barely managed to show up with the same partner two Christmases in a row.
Fran looked at his boyfriend and saw the frustration in Jay’s face. He knew how much it hurt Jay that Fran still hadn’t introduced him to his family. But could Jay blame him?
Fran’s father was an evangelical minister who preached fire and brimstone to his flock when it came to homosexuality. When they were young they’d been paraded around as the epitome of the perfect family, complete with exemplary children, so in the eyes of his father, Fran was severely flawed. He’d tried to come out, but his father had dismissed it. Sometimes Fran wished that his father would just throw him out, but no, that didn’t fit with the perfect family. Fran had to be saved from the wrath of God, which was certainly going to come down over the whole family if Fran didn’t amend his ways. So Fran endured the few family visits he couldn’t get out of and waited for the moment he could return to the man he loved.
Now the agony was over.

 

Pastor Galloway, Fran’s father, had keeled over during a particularly fiery sermon and was dead by the time he hit the floor of his pulpit. Now they were getting ready for his funeral, and Jay had insisted on coming along. It wasn’t that Jay had never met the Galloway family, but to them, he was just “Franklyn’s friend from college” and recently “Franklyn’s business partner.” On the rare occasions that both men were in the same physical location as the rest of the Galloway family, Jay had to be hyperaware of how he acted around Fran and had to make sure he refrained from the little gestures and touches that would give them away.
Fran looked in the full-length mirror to check his suit and tie. He was satisfied with his look, his dark, curly hair cut short to meet with his mother’s approval. He closed his eyes when Jay wrapped his arms around Fran’s frame. After all these years, it was still his boyfriend’s touch that gave him the most reassurance and calm.
“Jay, you know I love you more than anyone in the world.”
“I know,” Jay replied, resting his chin on Fran’s shoulder. Jay was still as handsome as the day he’d walked into one of Fran’s first college classes twenty years ago. He sported the same beach bum look, with the long blond hair and tanned skin he’d had then, and had only gained muscle over the years, unlike Fran, who was still a tall, skinny runt.
They looked at their reflections, and Fran felt nothing but pride. The conviction that he wanted to grow old with this man was one that had set in over the years, and everything they’d been through had only added to that assurance. Even the resistance of Fran’s family had added to that resolve. Fran knew Jay hated the secrecy and lies, something they’d successfully banned from their own lives by living openly and honestly, but instead of making a big deal out if it, he only occasionally brought it up. Jay had stuck by him through it all, and Fran appreciated it more than he could ever put into words.
Although Fran wanted to have Jay close for a little while longer, he didn’t protest when Jay pulled away. “I think we should go,” Jay suggested. “I’m wearing my best poker face. Let’s not let it go to waste.”
Fran grabbed his boyfriend’s face with both hands and kissed him passionately.
“Oh Fran,” Jay lamented theatrically. “Now I’ll have to do my make-up all over again.”
“Fag,” Fran replied, slapping his boyfriend’s ass as Jay turned around.
“That’s me,” Jay flirted. “And I have a fag for a boyfriend too.”
“Thank God for that,” Fran replied with a laugh.

 

days to go until You Can Choose Your Friends is available! $1.20 going to the ItGetsBetter project for every copy sold!

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