What is it about love that makes the world look like a big piece of chocolate cake with cherries on top? 

I admit that I liked to fixate on problems, so dropping the whole thing about Austin was a major accomplishment for me-- after all, I loved chocolate cake, and I figured if I could let go of the anger and hate, I would have so much more room in my heart to hug Heath and partake of his double-deluxe frosting center. I wasted a hell of a lot of time in my life saying what-if and why-me; it was time to stop. 

I did it.

Let them eat cake. Or let me eat cake, or Heath. With a cherry on top.

We took it upstairs-- or should I say, he took me upstairs.

He turned my key and wound me up along with the music box.

Love makes the world go round-- round and around and around. Yes, love-- that eternal, intangible magic like the tiny tintinnabulations from our box. I could spend time drawing sappy hearts on napkins with my chest clanging or hum along with the ring-a-ding-dinging of Chopin in a box.

Great sex with my heart keeping time.

I was ready, and nobody does it better-- or me better-- than Heath. I expected slow and sensuous andante, but Heath the unpredictable did me fast and hard allegro.

Slam, bam on the bed. First we wrestled, then raced to get naked. Already aroused and ready to go, I jumped the starting gate: I thought I was winning. I pulled off my shirt, and Heath reached out, then ran those long fingers across my chest and belly. We lay, gazing into each others eyes. I toed off my shoes while Heath flicked the button on my Levis, then unzipped me with a flick of the wrist. 

Yeah, I was winning alright.

He looked at me from head to my toes. "You're overdressed," he said. "I really gotta do something about that."

"Me first!"

I unbuttoned his flannel shirt while he shimmied his too-tight jeans over those sharp hip bones. I licked my lips-- no underwear. He pulled me to him, and I fisted his cock. God, I felt empowered, seeing him moan and gasp and writhe. He kissed me hard, then reached inside my loose Levis and grabbed my cock; I shuddered with each tug. On our sides, face-to-face, we both rutted into each other's hands, rubbing our cock heads together, pre-come mixing and making us slick. God, I loved the feel of his dick in my hand, loved to watch our cocks together. Only thing hotter was watching Heath's face: I loved to look at it-- the way he closed his eyes tight, how his mouth twitched and his forehead creased. We pumped harder in rhythm, then I felt that tipping point. Shit, too soon, too soon. I spilled over his hand, gasping and sputtering. Heath didn't follow: he held off.  I grinned at him, giving him that after-sex, stupid-lusty-in-love look. He brought his fingers, sticky with my come, to my mouth. I poked my tongue out, tasting bittersweet-self; I felt a twinge of disappointment when he pulled his fingers away, then a rush of excitement when he flipped me on my back. 

Face-to-face. No more I've got rhythm. Instead, he held me still. Yeah, he pinned me good, his cock bobbed hard and insistent against my belly. I bit my lip and whimpered as he rolled his cock oh-so-slow against mine in lazy, tantalizing circles-- I was still tender from coming, but my ache for him was always there. I trembled under him, and he shot me a hot, lopsided smile-- kind that makes my insides turn. His chest rumbled in a laugh as he shifted delightfully around, letting his fingers work their magic, slipping down, down, passing my abs, around my cock, pulling on my sac, pushing around that hard ridge that was oh-so tender behind my balls. God, how his fingers skittered and teased until he touched my center.

 I was rock-hard again. 

"I'm gonna fuck you good," he whispered. As he wedged his cock between my legs, the head brushed over my pucker, and I gasped. 

My mind screamed, yes, yes, yes! My head nodding each time. On the third nod, I whacked the back of my head against the headboard. 

Heath cocked an eyebrow at me. "Come on, Jake-- how much do you want it? Tell me--" Heath smirked.

Damn, that smarted. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out.

"Come on," he coaxed. "Tell me--"

"M-more than," I stuttered.

"More than what? Come on..." He nudged his cock against me. I gasped.

"More than big bowl of Cheerios with three spoon-loads of sugar and a cup of whole milk," I blurted out.

"Is that all?" His dick pushed against my pucker harder: knock, knock, knockin on heaven's door. 

Ah, hell

I reached under the pillow for the K-Y and tossed it to him. 

I had to do better.

"More than the meanest roller coaster at Cedar Point," I offered. 

He shook his head, but I knew he was crumbling. He popped the top off the lube.

"More than skinny dipping in the moonlight with a cold Heineken." I cocked my eyebrow and looked longingly at the lube clutched in his hand.

Didn't work yet, so I tried doing the sad puppy dog eyes. 

Almost.  

Then it hit me. 

"More than double-stuff Oreo cookies." 

I had him.

In one swift move, he grabbed both of my legs and lifted them over his freckled shoulders. I shuddered as his fingers pushed inside me, coaxing that spot. I clenched instead of opening up, which made him work those long fingers until I was begging for his cock.

I watched, panting, as he slicked himself up, those same fingers that had been inside me slipping over that beautiful dick, squeezing clear drops from the tip and massaging them in with the lube. What a great free show. He should sell tickets.

Those talented fingers guided him in. I felt myself give. So full. He wiped the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand, then pushed inside me the rest of the way. His eyes met mine, so filled with love and desire. 

I loved him. I never knew what love was until him. With him, to be vulnerable was to be strong. He was steady. A tender force. I know I was taken with this room, this place, but it didn't matter where we were as long as we were.

I felt that familiar glow, saw the same in him. His long, deliberate strokes sent me over the edge, keening, begging, saying his name with all the I love yous.  

I could see him gritting his teeth to keep from coming even as I clamped down on him-- but he was lost and let himself come. He fell on me and hugged me to him-- we were two halves of one heart, our physical bodies connected. We held each other close. 

Oreo cookies had nothing on him.

------------------------

We stayed up in that big bed for over an hour before dressing and making an appearance downstairs. The music of Chopin played below, and  we followed the soft notes to the living room. There sat Jorge behind the piano, and everyone lounged around the room, listening. Heath smiled sheepishly at Kate as we came through the door, and I ducked my head as she chastised us with a wagging finger-- we'd left our guests hanging. Ah, but it was worth it. We took seats next to her on the sofa. Char sat forward in the old tub chair, fingers pressed to her lips, gazing at Jorge's charming countenance with rapture. Everyone was swept under his spell. 

Jorge played almost as well as my sister, certainly much better than I did. Linden came in behind us, and whispered, "I had a phone call." Heath nodded back, then turned to listen, as did Linden, who looked on with love and adulation. I noted a smile on Isadora's lips as her head kept time. 

Through the music, I couldn't help but think that the room seemed bare, all the sparkle and tinsel gone with the Christmas tree. The little boy in me felt the letdown of Christmas past, but I felt the gentle nocturne return some magic to this corner of the room. 

As Jorge finished, we applauded. Jorge spun around to face us, making the old cherry piano bench creak and groan. He smoothed out the creases in his suit. He was like a two-door paradox: one door remained locked, neat and pressed like his suit. Only one person was allowed to open the second door, and that was Linden. During those times when that door was ajar, I'd see a different Jorge-- free, easy. Even after this private, intimate recital, that deep, pensive smile swept us in while his dark, serious eyes held us back.

"That's beautiful," Char said. "What was it?"

"Chopin. Nocturne in C minor," Linden said.

"How about another?" Char asked.

"Thank you," Jorge said, "but we did come here for a purpose, and it is time we discussed that purpose. Heath? Jake?"

I nodded and so did Heath.

Linden turned to Jorge, then to Heath and his sisters. "There's something we just learned that we need to share with you."

"What's that?" Kate asked.

"My suspicions about Emily Liebowitz and your family were correct."

"But-- it seems like you would have figured it out long before this," Kate said.

"We spent most of our time on Henry Lester not Johann Galle," he said to her. "We got the usual historical information but came to a dead end when we looked at your family. At first we thought it was the usual suspects: no one left to remember and poor small-town record keeping, but we're positive now that it was your parents who erased their own tracks years ago." 

Kate sighed while Heath rubbed his temple with the palm of his left hand. 

"I was pretty sure it was more than a coincidence that you and Johann's wife had the same last name. Hers was a sad story too. She died not long after Johann did-- she was much older than him you know. Jorge visited Ralph Galle, Johann's brother's great grandson."

I nodded. I'd told Heath about it, and he'd passed the information to his sisters. 

"Well, we proved it," Linden explained. "All it took was a few hairs that Jorge procured from an old antique brush of Emily Liebowitz's, and a few from Heath's comb."

"And a few connections to a genetics lab specializing in non-invasive chromosome testing," Jorge added.

"Y-chromosome testing is more accurate since the Y remains pretty much unchanged when it's passed down-- but in your case," Linden said, shoving his left hand in his coat pocket, "we only had Emily. Still, it was a good match-- enough to prove relationship."

"Do you think Henry is haunting us because they are related to Emily?" I asked.

"Quite possibly," Isadora said. "I've witnessed this happening before. As a relative you are more sensitive to the spirit, and the spirit would be more inclined to reach out to someone to whom they are familiar." 

"A familiar spirit," I quipped.

Isadora laughed. "Yes, you could say that. It is also true that the spirit would be more inclined to listen to you and be released from earthly bonds if you were present."

"It's too bad that hasn't worked," I said.

"To the contrary," she said, "I believe it has."

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