Hollywood Hills, California - May 18th, 2015
I'm in love with my life.
It's a serious, overwhelming, all consuming, wouldn't-change-a-thing kind of love. Even on the most tiring and stressful days, I go to bed feeling thankful. And rarely does a day pass that I don't wake up and spend at least a moment or two struggling to accept that, no, this isn't all a dream. It's all real, and it's all mine.
Those are my amazing kids, and this is my incredible house, and my adorable (yet slightly demented) dog, and my successful career doing exactly what I've always wanted to be doing.
And that breathtakingly beautiful guy in my bed isn't a figment of my imagination. He's my husband. My soul mate, my much better half (regardless of what he might say).
I swear, sometimes I get out of bed in the morning with the strongest urge to push both of the French doors to our bedroom's balcony open wide, throw my arms out and yell, "I'm the King of the world!" at the top of my lungs for all of the Hollywood Hills to hear. Because that's how it feels, like I'm the luckiest guy on the entire planet. Instead, I usually open the doors quietly so that I won't disturb Tommy, and then I'll stand on the balcony and stare out at the warm glow cast across the city by the rising sun. And I spend those few moments of silence before the rest of my little world wakes up letting it all sink in. Letting myself truly appreciate how far I've traveled to find this place, how hard I've fought for it, and the fact that I can stop now. I don't need to search anymore. I've won every battle that I've had to fight.
I'm the King of the fucking world!
"You're doing it again."
There's nothing I can do to keep the faint blush from spreading across my cheeks as I turn to look at Tommy. And I can tell from the smirk on his lips that he can see it, even from all the way over on the bed.
"I'm not doing anything." I reply as casually as I can, making my way back into the bedroom. "I was just looking to see what the weather was gonna be like this morning."
"There's an app for that." He informs me as I disappear into the adjoining bathroom, and only once I'm completely out of sight do I allow myself to smile.
It's not that I don't want him to see how happy I am; he knows how happy I am. I just know that I look like a total dork right now, and there's no way he'll be able to resist giving me crap for it. I'm not gonna give him that satisfaction. At least, not right away.
I'm kind of a tease like that, I guess.
I won't lie, part of me is hoping he'll hop into the shower with me at some point. And even though I'm hoping for it, waiting for it, I'm sure I'll still scream like a little girl if he actually does it. But much to my disappointment, he never puts in an appearance. Which probably means he either fell back asleep or he was jumped on by an impatient child demanding to be fed. It happens a lot in this house.
After drying off my hair and securing the towel around my waist, I return to the bedroom to find him right where I left him. He's alone and wide awake, which automatically makes me want to pout. It means he chose to stay out here instead of joining me in the bathroom.
Because he's an even bigger tease than I am!
I can feel him watching me as I turn my back to him and open the dresser drawer. Instead of letting my towel fall to the ground before pulling my underwear on, I put my underwear on under my towel so he gets to see precisely nothing. Only then do I throw my towel aside and chance a look over my shoulder. And, of course, he's pouting.
"You're doing it again." I taunt him playfully, rummaging around for a t-shirt.
"If you'd gotten your ass out of bed and taken a shower with me, you could have. But now it's too late." I sigh as I shake my head at him sadly, earning myself a scowl in response. "Maybe tomorrow."
"You don't even have any clothes on yet!" He argues in the whiniest tone he possibly can. "Why're you being a dick about it?"
"You started it."
"Fine, I started it. Why don't you come over here and finish it?"
"Tempting..." I muse, pretending to mull it over as I take a slow step closer to the bed. "But now's really not a good time for me. I just got clean..."
He rolls his eyes, throwing the covers off and scooting closer to the edge of the bed. "If we fuck in the shower we can get off and rinse off at the same time. Problem solved!"
"You couldn't have thought of that ten minutes ago when I was actually in the shower?" I tease as he grabs me by the wrist and I allow him to lead me back into the bathroom. "You know, I feel like I should stand my ground here. I don't wanna reward you for bad behavior."
"So don't." He smiles at me devilishly, turning around as soon as we reach the shower and immediately pushing my underwear down. "Punish me."
"I don't think it counts as punishment if you ask-"
The rest of my reasoning is cut short by an incredibly demanding kiss. Usually I don't like to be interrupted when I'm trying to make a point, but I'm willing to let it slide this time. He wraps his arms around me, kissing me eagerly as I kick my underwear aside and he pulls me into the shower with him. I'm prepared for the water to be cold for a second or two when he first turns it on, but being prepared for it doesn't keep me from gasping as soon as the first surge of water hits my skin. Somehow it only heightens what I was already feeling, making me hyper-sensitive to every little touch of his skin against mine. It's difficult to hold on to any coherent thoughts right now, but there's one that's unshakeable. Just like the thoughts of thankfulness and gratitude I experience when I wake up beside him every morning and fall asleep with him each night.
It's awe, plain and simple.
We've been living together for just over two and a half years, and married for a year. I guess, to some people, this could still be considered the "honeymoon phase". In my mind, we're long past that point. And yet we still have these moments where we're all over each other the way we were any time we saw each other when we first got together. I don't want him any less now than I did the night I met him. If anything, I want him more. Being with him is never predictable, and certainly never boring. The fact that we know each other so well in every sense imaginable, and that we've had sex in pretty much every position we possibly can without risking serious injury isn't in any way a negative. It doesn't mean that there's nothing left to learn or experience, or that our sex life is in any way repetitive.
And that's what still astonishes me about our relationship. Somehow things still feel new between us, like we haven't had morning sex in this shower more times than I could ever try to tally!
Maybe it's because there's never a guarantee that we'll even get to start, let alone finish. We got lucky this morning (no pun intended). I woke up early, which gave us a little extra alone time before the kids woke up. And since they tend to stay up a little later on Sunday nights than they do on other school nights, they always sleep later on Monday mornings. Most days don't start out quite this peacefully. Once one of them wakes up, they start making enough noise to wake everyone else in the house up.
Then, unless it's a weekend, we begin our daily routine.
I'll make breakfast while Tommy wrangles the kids into the dining room. We'll eat together, and then I'll clean up and pack their lunches while he chases them around getting them ready for school. I usually take Ezra, Penny, River and Viggo to school, since Tommy loathes driving the minivan in the Hollywood Hills, and he takes Asta over to her pre-school.
We enrolled her just after she turned two so that she could socialize with other kids her age. It was nothing new for me; I'd gone through the same thing with four other kids over the years. But it was quite possibly more distressing for Tommy than it was for Asta. In fact, when we took her in for her first day, she threw enough of a fit that he couldn't bring himself to 'abandon' her and he insisted on taking her home. I had to force him to leave her in the very capable hands of her fully trained teachers the next day, and he was miserable until we went to pick her up later that afternoon. But as it turned out, while he was at home worrying about how traumatized she might be, she had apparently started having the time of her life the moment the door had closed behind us that morning. It took a week or so for him to finally feel comfortable leaving her there, whether she was crying or not, and now it's entirely painless for both of them. I'm pretty sure his favorite time of day is still afternoon pick up, though. I can never tell which of them lights up more as soon as she spots him walking towards the playground.
The hours that the kids are in school aren't exactly downtime for the two of us. There's always something to do, especially now that Jenna has a day job as a teacher's assistant, and a serious boyfriend. She's basically only around for the post-school rush and any "date nights" we can book her for.
We usually go with the divide and conquer tactic when it comes to chores and errands. One of us will go grocery shopping while the other does laundry, or one of us will clean the kitchen while the other cleans the bathroom. That way, on a good day, we're done just in time to have lunch together, and then we have a couple of hours to spend doing whatever we want. Most of the time we end up in the studio, especially lately. But sometimes we'll get together with friends, or go for a run, or take Duke on a hike. And every once in a while we'll simply lounge around on the couch and appreciate the complete and utter calm.
After the kids get home from school, Jenna helps them with their homework and Tommy keeps Asta occupied while I make a start on dinner. The rest of our evening is typically spent doing whatever the kids want to do until bedtime. Unless it's one of the evenings we've roped Jenna into staying late. In which case Tommy and I will wait until Asta goes to bed and then head out to see a movie, or go to a club and see a band play, or meet up with friends at a bar.
On several occasions, we've used our "nights off" to host mini jam sessions with some of our closest musician friends. It's kinda like Fool's Banquet, with artists from every genre crammed into a studio for hours on end, surviving on nothing but music and beer. I'd say at least half of the songs on the new Phases album began to take shape in our studio, not to mention the choruses of a couple of songs that have since gotten some major radio airplay. Alex often jokes that we should put out an album of all of the random (sometimes drunken) recordings we have and call it "The Wine Cellar Sessions". I'm not entirely opposed to the idea, but I'm not sure everyone else who participated would be on board.
Tonight is a little different for us. We're meeting up with Holden and his husband at one of those hip-for-five-minutes nightclubs in WeHo. We're not really all that into the club scene, and neither are they most of the time. But Holden assured me that it wouldn't become a habit, and that they had a good reason for wanting to meet here instead of at one of our regular hangouts, so...
"I think they're having some kind of joint midlife crisis." Tommy mutters to me as we approach the club, the bass from the music playing inside vibrating down the sidewalk.
"Holden said it's a one-time thing."
"Why does it have to be a thing at all?"
I can't help but chuckle softly as he petulantly kicks a stone into the street. "I don't know. He said we'd find out when we get here."
"Fine. But if I end up getting mauled by half naked body builders, I expect you to jump in and defend my honor."
"If that happens... I'll think about it."
He shoves me playfully, causing me to stumble and almost fall face first into the chest of the bouncer at the door of the club. The guy eyes us suspiciously, like he thinks we might already be trashed. Luckily he decides we're sober enough to let us in, and I quickly text Holden to let him know that we're here. As we venture further into the club, I instinctively reach out for Tommy's hand and find that he's already reaching for mine. It's funny, but for two guys who have made a living performing for thousands of people, neither or us does very well with crowds. Besides, the last thing I need is to get separated from him within the first five minutes!
Holden texts me back to let me know that he and Ryan have procured a table for us in the balcony section, which is a relief because it means we won't be stuck down here with a bunch of sweaty strangers doing whatever it is that passes for "dancing" this month. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for rubbing up against Tommy like he's a scratching post and I have an itch that won't quit, but I don't call it "dancing" and I (usually) don't do it in public.
As soon as Holden spots us approaching, he jumps up from the table to greet us. We don't get the chance to see each other nearly as much as I know we'd all like to. His work schedule is so crazy, and our home life isn't always as organized as I like to tell myself it is, so finding a time that makes sense for all of us is tricky. But whenever we do get together it feels so easy, like we see each other all the time. I don't know if it was the circumstances we met him under, or the things he saw us go through, but there's definitely a connection there that I don't tend to have with people who I see as infrequently as I see him. It's like we skipped several years of friendship in those two long weeks I was in the hospital, and now it feels as though we've known each other our whole lives.
I'm not quite as close with his husband, Ryan, but I definitely don't dislike him. Sometimes he still surprises me with how blunt and shameless he can be about certain things, but it's something I admire about him rather than finding it off-putting. He doesn't need to know someone well before feeling comfortable enough to tell them exactly what he thinks on any given topic, whereas I only feel secure enough to share my true feelings with people I trust.
"Perfect timing!" Holden tells us, letting go of me and hugging Tommy. "We just ordered a round of drinks."
"Keep 'em coming." Orders Tommy semi-seriously. "I've got a feeling drunk is the thing to be in here."
"Loosen up, Thomas." Ryan nudges him good-naturedly before we make ourselves comfortable in the booth they've picked out. "If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were straight."
"Who says I'm not?"
"The guy you're married to, maybe?"
"The guy I'm married to was married to a chick for ten years before he married me." Tommy shrugs unconcernedly. "Didn't make him straight."
I have to fight to keep my smile under control, but when Holden and I chance a look at each other it becomes almost impossible. It looks like it's gonna be one of those nights.
"Whatever." Declares Ryan with a wave of his hand when no better argument presents itself. "Gay, straight or otherwise, deep down some part of you is dying to get out there and dance like the diva we all know you are."
"Pretty sure the only dancing queen at this table is you, dude." He retorts.
"Do you even remember how this conversation started?" I ask Holden just as the waitress arrives with a tray of shot glasses.
"Not a clue."
"It was because-"
Holden quickly reaches out and covers Ryan's mouth with his hand, knowing that if he doesn't kill this topic now we could be debating Tommy's sexuality all night. "Honey, sometimes people ask questions they don't actually want answered."
"Then they shouldn't ask them." Ryan replies simply, like that's all there is to it. And honestly... he's probably right. "Cheers!"
Tommy and I throw our shots back gladly, not asking or caring exactly what kind of liquor is passing our lips as we do so. It really doesn't matter; they pretty much all have the same effect. I feel Tommy lean against me as he sets his empty shot glass on the table in front of us, and I automatically slip my arm around him and hold him closer. Holden and Ryan are busy having a shameless wrapped-up-in-each-other moment, and the brief break in the conversation gives me the chance to properly take in our surroundings.
This is another one of those things that I can't quite believe is part of my reality. Even though we rarely attend nightclubs like this one, there was a time in my life where it would have been completely out of the question for me to even consider it. I couldn't be seen in a club full of gay men and go-go dancers, I couldn't just hang out in public with an openly gay couple, and I definitely couldn't be seen getting cozy with another guy. The world saw me a certain way, and I had a responsibility to everyone in my life to live up to that view.
I don't anymore.
And even though it's been a few years since Tommy and I were outed on Perez Hilton's blog, being "out and proud" is still taking some getting used to. Some days I won't even think about it, especially when we're just doing normal things like taking the kids to the beach or going out to dinner. But when I find myself in an unfamiliar setting such as this one, it really hits me how completely different my life is now.
"Wanna dance?" I whisper (loudly) against Tommy's ear, causing him to pull back immediately so that he can give me a distinct 'what the fuck?' look.
"I'm gonna need a hell of a lot more alcohol in me before that's even a remote possibility."
Challenge accepted! "That's doable."
"I don't dance."
"Sure you do." I tease him, leaning in until my lips are close enough to lightly graze his as I speak. "I've seen you shake it."
"Not in public." He continues to protest, warily eyeing the gyrating crowd on the dance floor below.
"I'll dance with you." Ryan offers me with a self-satisfied grin, leaving both Tommy and Holden scowling at him and chorusing an emphatic "no".
"Ask me again when I'm drunk." Tommy concedes grudgingly. "Really fucking drunk."
Scooting out from his side of the booth, Ryan stands and reaches his hand out to Holden. "It's more fun when you're sober."
"Oh boy." Sighs Holden, taking his husband's outstretched hand and allowing himself to be pulled out of his seat. "If I'm not back in five minutes, send help!"
"Hey, wait!" Tommy calls out to them before they're too far away to hear him over the obnoxiously loud bass. "When're you gonna tell us why the hell we're here?"
Holden opens his mouth to respond, but Ryan steps forward and answers before he has a chance to. "Come dance with us and we'll tell you right now."
"No thanks." Snorts Tommy indignantly. "I'd rather let the suspense kill me first."
Without any further attempts to coax Tommy onto the dance floor, Ryan and Holden disappear in the direction of the stairs, leaving the two of us alone in a nice big booth. I'm not really one for public displays of affection. I'll hold his hand without a second thought, and kiss him whenever the mood strikes me, but we've never been one of those couples who feels the need to grope each other in full view of everyone.
This is different, though.
"If you won't dance with me, will you at least give me a lap dance?" I request playfully, my smile growing even wider when he turns to look at me with an excited gleam in his eyes. "I was kidding... mostly."
"I'd totally do it."
"I know you would." I laugh as he shifts in his seat until he's half kneeling on it, giving me his full attention. "How about we just make out until they come back?"
He doesn't need to be asked twice, his mouth is on mine almost before I've finished speaking. My whole body is instantaneously engulfed by the most addictive rush of excitement as he presses himself against me, deepening the kiss and threading his fingers into my hair. My hands trail along his sides, grasping at the fabric of his t-shirt for a moment before drifting down to his hip bones. He groans into my mouth as I tug him closer, and the next thing I know his leg is draped over my lap and he's practically straddling me. I have a flash of déjà vu, thinking back to our very first kiss and how quickly it started to spiral out of control. Part of me always wondered what might have happened between us that night if I hadn't been interrupted by a barrage of texts.
I'd be lying if I said that the possibilities of that moment haven't been the subject of several fantasies over the years...
His hips rock slowly against me, and I gasp as my hands caress his thighs and silently urge him to do it again. I'm seriously on the verge of asking him if he wants to go somewhere a little more private, because the way he's making me feel is driving me so crazy that if I don't suggest we relocate now, I might not be thinking rationally enough to do it before this gets out of hand.
But before I can force myself to break the kiss, he does it for me. I'm expecting him to ask me the same question I was about to ask him, but he doesn't. He doesn't say anything, he doesn't even look at me as he slips off of my lap and onto the seat beside me.
"You okay?" I ask breathlessly, straightening myself up a little as he starts to move towards the edge of the booth.
"I'm fine." He assures me, flashing me the least convincing smile imaginable as he gets out of his seat. "I just need to take a leak."
If he had said those words to me a few seconds ago, I would have taken it as code for "let's go find a bathroom stall barely big enough for two". It's obvious that's not what he's suggesting, though. I wrack my brain trying to figure out what could have caused such a notable shift in his mood. I try to remember exactly how I was touching him and kissing him, wondering if I somehow did something to completely turn him off. But as I sit alone in the booth, replaying the past five minutes in my mind, the music pumping through the club starts to permeate my thoughts. It takes me a little while to figure out what it is that's so familiar about it. The song isn't one I've heard more than a couple of times before, but that voice is one that I definitely recognize.