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It starts the same every night for Jo.  Another nightmare, this one about his deepest darkest secrets being broadcast by the Montreal media.  The bed is soaked with sweat and  his body feels all clammy, his heart  beating so hard that he can hear it and his head is pounding in rhythm with his heart.  He picks up the only thing he knows can help him in this moment, his phone,  and sends a text. “It’s happening again.”  

 

The chime on Josh’s phone echos loudly in his sparsely decorated condo  in downtown Montreal.  He’s alone again tonight and the place feels cold. The rain falling in the early nights of spring aren’t helping him feel warmer.  He tugs on a pair of sweats and reads the message  from Drou.  The  message moves him to throw his phone back on the nightstand and he leaps out of bed in search of his overnight bag.

 

Josh knows that Jo won’t open the door at a simple knock.  He uses the emergency key he was given, fumbling the key in his shaking hand, hoping that Jo’s isn’t in too much pain.  “Come on fucker,” he curses the piece of metal as it slides into the deadbolt with great effort.  

 

Mallow is at the bathroom door barking to get Josh’s attention.  “It’s okay Mallow, I’m here,” he says, still trying to catch his breath.  He gives the white dog a few pats on the head and turns his focus to his friend in the bathroom.

 

“Look Drou, it’s okay.  I’m here now.  I’ll go get you some water,”  Josh utters in a rapid fire.  The tremble in his voice matches the shakiness of his hands at the door.  Stress courses through his veins like an electric shock.

 

He races through the kitchen finding a plastic bottle and presses it against the water dispenser on the refrigerator.  He’s trying to will liquid into the container faster as his breathing starts to slow a little.  He tears the bottle away once it’s mostly full, racing across the kitchen to the hallway where Jo’s bedroom and bathroom branch off from the open living space by the front door.

 

Josh hands the bottle to Jo instructing him, “Sip it slowly.”  Jo takes several short pulls of the bottle and sets the bottle next to him.

 

“I’m glad you came,” Jo mumbles out, resting his tired head against the cool tiles lining his jacuzzi bathtub.

 

Josh nods.  “I would have been here faster, but the rain…”

 

Josh’s voice trails off. Jo  finishes the sentence with a blank glazed over look, “... slows everyone down.  Thank you for coming.”

 

“Tell me what happened,” Josh requests with a soft voice  caught between his normal voice and whispering.

 

Jo tents his legs and rests his arms against his knees and lowers his head to  his forearms.  Within the ball of hockey player comes a request.  “Promise not to judge?”

 

“Jo, you are my best friend on the team.  There is nothing that can…” Jo raises a hand to stop Josh.

 

Tears well in Jo’s eyes and he blinks them out until they stream down his cheeks and turn his dark eyes into a mirror.  “I’m such a wreck right now.  Look at me, I’m a millionaire hockey player that… I can’t even think of a phrase that describes how I’m feeling.  I know that Montreal fans want me scoring a goal every night and bedding a chick after every game.  I just can’t…. I can’t be who they want me to be.”  

 

“Look Drou, there is only one person that you need to be.  That’s you.he rest doesn’t matter,” Josh says, trying to ease Jo’s anxiety.

 

Jo rolls his head back on the tile until his eyes stare at the empty white ceiling.  He lets out a heavy breath and responds. “That’s not so easy when you are a franco, mon ami.  You and I both know that.”

 

“Look, let's try to get some sleep tonight.  Then we’ll go to the rink tomorrow and work this out with the coaches and doctors, okay?”

 

“I just need one favor though,” Jo utters in an exhale.

 

Josh takes a seat on the floor to be at Jo’s level.  He nods.  “Okay. Name it.”

 

Jo looks up with a sad puppy stare.  “Would you sleep next to me in my bed tonight?  I really don’t want to be alone.”

 

“Yeah, no problem,” Josh replies instantly.

 

Josh gets up and offers his hand to Jo.  “Up you get.  Come on.”

 

Jo stands and pulls Josh into a hug.  “I’m glad you came over.”

 

“No place I’d rather be than with a friend, Jo.  Better not be an octopus in bed,” Josh says into Jo’s bare shoulder.  Jo lets out a chuckle at Josh’s joke.

 

Jo it turns out is indeed an octopus in bed.  Josh wakes  up to his alarm covered in one furry leg and another very furry arm, both of which belong to his bedmate.  “Jo?”

 

A groan vibrates against the back of Josh’s neck.

 

Just a buddy in bed with me, this is perfectly normal.  You did it all the time in juniors, Josh.

 

“Time to get up, Drou,” Josh says, trying to gently get Jo’s limbs off of him.  He tries removing them himself, but then he’s  hyper aware of another appendage of Jo’s  brushing  against his ass.

 

“Am comfy,” Jo whines and pulls Josh closer to him.  Jo’s morning wood nestles itself between Josh’s ass cheeks.

 

Josh’s ex-girlfriend got him into pegging.  So a cock in his ass isn’t a foreign feeling.  The problem with this cock is that it’s attached to a guy. His teammate, his best friend, his gay best friend.  Yet he’s oddly comfortable with the feeling.

 

Am I gay? He ponders.

 

Josh can’t be gay. He loves bedding women.  He’s never found a single guy attractive.  Though Jo has made him question that on multiple occasions.

 

He decides to relax his body and nestles Jo's cock deeper into the crevice.  He smiles and lets out a chuckle.  “Someone’s happy.”

 

Jo’s eyes pop open wide and he immediately rolls over away from Josh.  “Crisse, crisse, CRISSE! I’m so sorry Josh.  I’m so embarrassed.”

 

“Jo, Jo, Jo…”  He says it quickly and trails off as he tries to spin Jo back around to face him.   “Look, it happens to all of us.  I get morning wood all the time.  I mean, look at me!”  Josh points at the tent in his boxer briefs as an example.

 

“Do you try to press it into your best friend's ass?  Crisse!  I am so sorry,” Jo responds with his hands over his face to hide his flushing cheeks.  

 

Josh places a hand on Jo’s shoulder.  He softly tells him, “Look at me Jo.”

 

Jo slowly lowers his hands and lets them hang between his knees.  “Guess you found out a secret about me.”

 

Josh rubs his eyes.  “Let’s say that I’m a bit thick and you have to be more literal.  What do I know now that you haven’t said before?”

 

“I’m gay,” Jo admits.

 

“That I knew,” Josh says.  “Anything else you want to add?”

 

Jo covers his face again, “I may have a crush on one of my teammates.  Crisse, I’m so fucked.  Wait, how do you about the gay thing?”

 

Josh smiles then chuckles.  “I saw you sneaking a guy into a hotel when we were on a roadie, you rebel you. Look, we’ll work it out okay?  This place feels rather empty.  You sure you’re okay alone here?”

 

“Gets lonely,” Jo admits before turning on the blender to make a smoothie for breakfast.

 

Josh nods in agreement and pours himself a cup of coffee.  “I imagine the last year hasn’t helped since we couldn’t go anywhere.”

 

This time Jo silently nods his agreement.  

 

Josh runs his thumb around his cup of coffee, staring into the black liquid.  “You know, my lease is up this month.  With all the time I spend here making sure you’re okay it doesn’t make sense for me to renew it.”

 

“I don’t need a babysitter Josh,” Jo protests.

 

“No,” Josh starts.  “Wouldn’t it be nice just to have someone here?”

 

“Ouais,” Jo answers, switching tongues without thinking about it.

 

Josh looks up from his cup and takes a swallow of coffee before suggesting, “Would you object to me living here as a roommate?”

 

Jo ponders Josh’s suggestion.  “What if you get a girlfriend or I get a boyfriend?”

 

“Relax, Jo,” Josh says with a reassuring voice.  “You and I are inseparable.”

 

“Hope so,” Jo mumbles inaudibly.  “Don’t know what I would do without you.”

 

**

 

Jo is shaking by the time Josh parks his car at Brossard.  Josh rests a hand on Jo’s quaking thigh. “I promise everything will be okay.”

 

Jo lets out a long huff and opens the car door.  He walks into the practice facility and is greeted by Coach Ducherme outside the conference room.  “You wanted to talk, Jo?  Please come in.”

 

Jo enters a room with the team psychologist, the head athletic trainer Pierre, Bergevin, and Coach.  

 

“Sorry guys for taking your time,” Jo says apologetically.  “I came to see if I can arrange a leave of absence from the team.  I have been having problems with my mental health this season and it’s affecting my hockey.”

 

“Jo,” Doctor Scott begins.  “I have a member of my team down the hall.  I’d like you to spend time with her for an assessment and then we can form a plan.”

 

Jo nods, thanks the men for their time, and leaves the room to head to the assessment.

 

**

 

Jo timidly opens the door to the small office.  “Bonjour Jonathan.  Doctor Garand,” she holds an elbow out to greet Jo’s.  “Tu peut m’appeller Claire.”

 

“Claire, c'est un bel nom.  Enchanté,” Jo politely replies.

 

The conversation continues in French.  “So Jonathan, let’s lay out some ground rules.  In these sessions, we will talk about some pretty sensitive subjects.  The goal is to help you gain the tools to reduce your anxiety and stress.  It is important to be honest or I cannot help you.  Nothing we say together leaves this room, all I will tell the team is whether or not you're fit to play.  Can you agree to that?”

 

Jo nods quietly.

 

Claire stands up and walks over to a credenza that contains a pitcher of ice water and a couple of glasses.   “Okay, may I get you some water?”

 

Jo slouches in his chair.  “Please.”

 

Jo stares at the cup he was handed.  He mumbles, “You said that everything we say here is private right?”

 

“I did,” Claire replies softly.

 

“So the nightmares…”  Jo leads off the conversation then takes a brief sip of water.  “... They happen for the same reason.  I feel like someone is going to make one of my deepest held secrets public.”

 

Clair jots down a quick note then looks up from her legal pad.  “And what secret is that if I may ask?”

 

“Mon séxualité,” Jo utters, switching languages because he’s nervous.

 

Claire rubs the pen she’s holding along her lips.   “I see.  Why do you think it causes you anxiety?”

 

Jo tells  the story about his ex-boyfriend and how the relationship  went well until his ex found out that Jo played in the NHL.  He became manipulative and threatened to out him.  Then came the blackmail.

 

“Jonathan, if I can stop you there.  Remember how I said everything is confidential?  Well, I left out a caveat.  If I believe your life is in danger, I’m required to report that.  So before we continue, is your life in danger?”

 

Jo ponders the question.  “No, I don’t think that.  It’s all about money.  My ex is just looking for a payday.  The gold digging bastard.  I’m just being told to pay money to keep my sexuality out of the papers.”

 

“Have you told this to anybody else such as a teammate, police, or team management?”

 

“I have not,” Jo mumbles.

 

“Okay so quick assessment, you need some time away from the team mainly to get your own house in order.  Is there some place you can go where you aren’t going to be seen and recognized everyday?”

 

Jo considers  his options for a bit only to reply, “I have a teammate coming to live with me.  I’ll probably do some travelling this summer and disconnect.”

 

Claire sets down her pen on her legal pad.  “Okay, well I’d like to stay in touch for the next few weeks.  Let’s plan to meet at least twice per week for the next couple of months so we can retool your mind.  I think the safest way would be to meet virtually if that is okay.”

 

“Sounds good,” Jo agrees.

 

“Well I will present my assessment to the team, but for now it’s safe to assume your season is over.  I would also suggest reporting this guy.  Your troubles won’t go away unless he does.  It was a pleasure to meet you,” Claire states and gestures for an elbow bump.

 

Marc meets Jo at the door accompanied by Josh.  “Jo,” Marc begins.  “I got the email from Dr. Garand who recommends you to take an extended leave of absence.  We will honor that report, we also will only call  it  a personal leave of absence to the press.  I scheduled a presser for 4pm, so go with Josh and have a nice lunch okay?”

 

Jo shakes Marc’s hand and exits the Brossard facility with Josh in tow. 

 

**

Josh stops at his condo after the game and packs a suitcase for the upcoming road trip and collects some clothes to keep at Jo’s apartment.  He arrives back at Jo’s less than 30 minutes after he left Bell Centre and lets himself in with his own key.

 

“You’re just in time,” Jo says, sitting on the floor in front of the kitchen sink.  His forehead is resting on his  knees.

 

Josh joins him on the floor and places a hand gently between Jo’s shoulder blades, rubbing up and down trying to relax him.

 

“There’s no way I’ll ever come out here.  I was reading the comments from Marc’s presser,” Jo admits, his voice quaking through the sobs.

 

Josh stands up and offers a hand to Jo, “Come on Jo, it’s been a long, stressful day.  Let’s get you off to bed.  I’ll even give you a massage.”

 

Jo flashes a brief smile and accepts Josh’s invitation.  Josh pads into the ensuite to get a bottle of baby oil and some lavender essence while Jo strips down to his boxers and lays face down on the bed.  Josh pours a little bit of the oils onto his palm and rubs it between his hands.

 

He places his hands on Jo’s back and starts working through all of Jo’s pain points.  Jo is pliant on the bed with his head cocked to one side and his eyes closed.  He makes soft little moans when Josh hits a knot of muscle.  

 

Josh continues working on Jo’s back and nothing feels out of place until he reaches the elastic of Jo’s boxers.  The pastel blue highlights the two pert globes of Jo’s tight hockey butt. 

 

Even though Josh has seen Jo naked in the locker room dozens of times, he’s never been able to see Jo like this.  Josh’s cock swells in his already tight jeans making everything uncomfortable.  He steps back for a moment taking in Jo’s mostly naked body.

 

This is totally fine Josh, get it together man.  You can’t both fall apart mentally. 

 

“You stopped,” Jo mumbles on the edge of falling asleep.

 

Josh returns to working along the small of Jo’s back, trying to ignore his pulsing cock.  Jo begins to snore, unaware of Josh’s arousal.  Josh stops kneading Jo’s back and quietly walks back to the ensuite to wash the oils off his hands.  He strips down to his boxer briefs and crawls into bed next to Jo.

 

Josh wakes up the next morning with Jo’s limbs all over him again and the now familiar morning wood pressed into his ass.  He doesn’t know what possesses him to reach down, but he does anyway and starts massaging Jo’s dick.

 

“Feels nice,” Jo mumbles, sounding unaware of who his bedmate is.

 

Josh takes the encouragement from Jo and gently begins to jack up and down on Jo’s cock through the fabric, feeling the foreskin sliding up and down the shaft.

 

Josh’s touch finally wakes up Jo and he becomes aware of his surroundings.  “Josh,” he hollers.  “What are you doing?”

 

Josh rolls over so his face is within inches of Jo’s face.  “Doing what feels right.  I never realized how sexy you are until last night.”  He closes the distance a little further and presses his lips to Jo’s.

 

Jo smiles, laces his fingers together, and cradles his head with his hands.  “Since you seem to like jacking on my dick, why don’t you suck on him a bit.”

 

Josh looks down at Jo’s dick and swallows hard.  “Can we work up to that, and I’ll just give you a handjob?”

 

Jo moves his right hand out from behind his head and places a hand on the underside of Josh’s ball sack.  Josh’s cock twitches at the foreign feeling.  “How about I suck you off so you know how good it feels.”

 

Josh frowns at Jo.  “My ex-girlfriend used to suck me off, so I’m familiar with the feeling.  I just have never sucked a guy off.”

 

Jo smiles and cackles.  “You have never been sucked off by a guy, we do a better job.  May I demonstrate?”

 

Josh adjusts his pillow to prop up his head.  He shoves it underneath his neck and looks down at his cloth covered cock.  “Go for it, show me how it’s done.”

 

Jo shimmies the underwear off Josh, freeing his cock.  Then he grasps the thick and hard shaft, aiming the swollen head toward his lips.

 

The first lick at the head is electric and not in a bad way.   Josh doesn't close his eyes - he mewls out a low pitch grunt and his cock pulses.  He cards his fingers through Jo’s black locks.

 

Jo takes Josh’s cock deeper into his mouth.  Josh throws his head back into the pillow, bites his fist, and moans into it.  “Fuck, Jo!”

 

Jo pops off Josh’s cock and looks up at Josh.  “Told ya it would feel good.  And fucking comes later.  I wanna see what you taste like.”  Jo grins devilishly at Josh and returns his attention to Josh’s cock.  Josh’s brain short circuits with pleasure and the thought of being with a guy is lost.

 

Josh relaxes his back against the mattress, letting out little moans when Jo hits his sensitive spots.  

 

With Josh completely pilant at his hands, Jo reaches for Josh’s chest, petting the hair on Josh’s sternum before slipping it over to pinch one of the nipples.  His other hand caresses the crack of Josh’s ass, running a finger over Josh’s hole with the other hand as he bobs up and down on Josh.

 

“Shit, damn Drou,” Josh pants when his brain comes back online for a second.  Jo starts fingering the rim of Josh’s hole gently, pulling it open a little to stimulate the nerves and making Josh whimper.

 

Orgasm floods Josh’s brain quickly and unannounced until he’s pushed past the point of no return,  exploding into Jo’s mouth. Jo swallows every drop greedily, leaving a few drops on his tongue.

 

“Wanna know how you taste?” Jo askes with strong lisp, trying not to swallow the last vestiges of Josh’s load.

 

Josh laughs.  “That was ridiculous.  I wanna know how I taste, feed me.”

 

Jo plants a kiss on Josh, passing the few droplets of remaining come into Josh’s mouth.

 

Jo breaks the kiss.  He moves to place his lips near Josh’s left earlobe.  “Time for you to try,” he whispers into Josh’s ear.  

 

Josh turns into a clumsy nervous mess.  His first attempt at changing positions caused him to knee Jo’s balls.  His second attempt on the memory foam mattress is just as uncoordinated as he faceplants into Jo’s chest.

 

Jo softly places a hand softly on Josh’s shoulder.  “Let me, okay?”

 

Josh nods, looking like a lost puppy dog.  Jo places his other hand on Josh’s shoulder for leverage as he shifts against the pillows until his cock is squarely in Josh’s field of vision.

 

Josh nervously grabs Jo and jacks up and down on his dick.  He looks at the throbbing appendage like it’s a human-eating eel.  “I promise it won’t bite,” Jo chides, trying to ease Josh’s nerves.

 

Josh licks at the head briefly before reassessing his ability and resolve to suck on Jo’s cock.

 

Jo tosses him a bottle of flavored lube.  “This’ll make things go a little easier.”

 

Josh opens the bottle and squeezes a small amount onto his fingers.  He coats his first two fingers with this thumb then smears the thick gel onto Jo’s cock and he uses one of the lubed fingers to coat Jo’s hole as well.

 

“That’s it Josh, more... slide the finger in,” Jo coaches.  Josh hesitantly inserts his finger past Jo’s rim.

 

Jo hisses at the intrusion and his hole spasms, causing Josh to pull his finger out.  “I’m sorry!  Did I hurt you?” he says hurriedly.

 

“Put your finger back in my ass and your lips on my dick,” Jo whines.  

 

Josh reinserts his middle finger and Jo lets out a high pitched whine.  Then he moves  toward Jo’s cock and  licks his lips.  He stares at it for a good minute before Jo guides him.  The head passes his lips and he closes them around the shaft.

 

“That’s it,” Jo instructs.  “Suck on it, watch your teeth.”

 

Josh lets out a little moan and the vibration makes Jo’s cock pulse and release a little precome.  The salty flavor hits Josh’s tongue and catches him off guard.

 

Josh pulls off.  “You close?  My jaw hurts.”

 

“Happens,” Jo says nonchalantly.  “That was good.  Bend the finger upward in my ass.”

 

Josh bends the finger as requested.  Jo arches his back.   “Mmppf.  Good now jack on my dick.”

 

Josh follows Jo’s instructions and a few strokes later, a fountain of white ropy goo flies out of is hitting Josh’s face and Jo’s abs.  

 

Jo catches his breath.  “That was good for the first time Josh.  Let’s go grab a shower, yeah?”

 

**

 

Josh sits in a video meeting while Jo attends his second therapy session.  He’s trying to focus on the tape and the coaches, only to end up thinking about Jo.  Each segment of game tape feels a little longer than the last.  It feels like the coaches are trying to string together a volume of games as long as War and Peace .

 

Upstairs, Jo takes a seat in the corner of a couch in the conference room.  “So Jonathan, how have the last couple of days been?”

 

Jo takes a sip of water.  Why is the room so damn dry?  “I’ve had Josh staying with me the last couple of days.  I had only one nightmare.”

 

“Good. Were they nightly before having someone with you?”

 

Josh nods silently and takes a sip of water before admitting, “Would wake up to letters from my ex all the time.  That would send me into a bad headspace.  I found myself looking in the press to see if there are consequences.  Was never a good headspace.”

 

“I see.  What would it take for you to report him?”

 

Jo slams his head into the couch cushion.  “A lot, I fear that the story will get picked up in the press.  You remember when Chucky had his incident?  I don’t want to repeat it, I refuse to be the black eye for this team and I refuse to be a distraction.”

 

“So you’re in a catch 22.  Blackmailer tells the press or the cops tell the press, eh?  Have you considered any other options?  What about Geoff?  What about your friends?  Maybe go on the offensive?”

 

“I could come  out?  That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. You do realize this is Montreal?”

 

“Hear me out.  I get the feeling there is one thing you haven’t told me.  If my instincts are correct, there is someone who will keep your confidence.  I also happen to know he’s single.”

 

“Josh.”

 

“He is your best friend, yes?”

 

“And he’s going to be my roommate.  I see... the ultimate bromance situation.”

 

“Worked for Brendan and Alex, did it not?”

 

“Only for Brendan to have his heart broken.  You did see that Alex got engaged in Arizona?”

 

“I didn’t say there weren’t inherent risks.”

 

“I’ll talk to Josh tonight.  I still think your idea is ludicrous.”

 

**

 

Jo heads out of his session and sits in the players lounge munching on the food the chefs left out for the players to eat after practice.  The food tastes off. The adrenaline coursing through his body mutes his taste buds.

 

He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes and shields them from the light in the lounge with his hands.

 

“Jo?” Josh says softly standing next to Jonathan. Jo sits up straight and looks up at Josh smiling and holding up a plastic grocery sack. “Ready to go?  I grabbed our take home meals.”

 

Jo scrubs his face and lets out a long huff of air.  “Yeah, we need to talk at home.”

 

The drive home is silent.  Jo drives back to the condo and Josh stares out the window deep in thought.

 

I can’t believe I had sex with a guy.

I can’t believe I had sex with Drou.

I can’t believe it felt right.

It felt intimate.

It felt close.

It felt as close as my ex-girlfriend.

What the fuck does this mean?

 

The drive over to Nuns’ Island feels longer than the 10 minutes needed to cross the main part of the St. Lawrence River.  It starts to rain again and beads of water cross Josh’s field of vision as he stares blankly at the cold dark water below the bridge.

 

The ride up the elevator to the 38th floor condo takes an achingly long time.  Not helping was the 4 year old in front of them pressing half the floor buttons on the elevator panel.  As the elevator creeps up the building, Josh starts rocking back and forth just like he would at the beginning of a game.

 

Jo is no less nervous riding up the elevator with his head bowed and his eyes closed.  All that is missing from their pre-game stances is a hockey stick.  

 

“Thirty-eighth floor,” the robotic voice announces.  The chime signals the opening doors.  Jo steps out looking for his keys and Josh follows behind slowly, trying to will saliva back into his mouth.

 

Jo opens the door to the condo and invites Josh inside.  He wanders over to the corner of the living room, looking out over the wide expanse of water toward Ile Jean Drapeau as the rain drops fall onto the river below.

 

Jo sits on one of the couches in the living room.  “Josh, please sit down.  We need to talk.”

 

Josh sits in the chair next to him in the corner of the room, places his elbows on his knees, runs his hand through the wavy hair, finally resting his hands on the back of his neck and keeping his head bowed toward the floor.

 

“Mon ami, I loved every moment today.  I have one question though, what the fuck happened?”

 

“I have no idea.  I mean I can’t put a label on it.  It felt right.”

 

“You’re straight though.  Or are you bi?”

 

“I didn’t think so, I…”

 

“Demi?”

 

“What the fuck is that?”

 

“Oh Joshy, you really should become more cultured.  It means that you are only sexually attracted to someone you have a close bond with.”

 

“Really?  No matter what their gender is?”

 

“Really.  I mean, are you attracted to any other guys?”

 

“No.  I haven’t even dated since my ex-girlfriend and I broke up.”

 

“I see.  Do you trust me, Josh?”

 

“Of course, you’re my… oh my god!  When you told me yesterday that you were attracted to a teammate.  Is that teammate me?”

 

“Ouais.”

 

“This all explains so much.  Can I kiss you?”

 

“Only if you want to.”

 

“I want.”

 

Josh stands up and moves over to sit next to Jonathan.  He licks his lips and closes the distance between him and Jo.  Jo meets him halfway and kisses him.  Josh reaches around the back of Jo’s head and pushes the kiss deeper.

 

Jo breaks the kiss first.  “Okay?”

 

“Not quite sure yet, but that kiss certainly helped,” Josh answers while his lips tingle with the menthol  balm Jo uses.

 

Jo stands up from the couch and pads over to one of the bookcases next to the window.  He shifts a couple of books out of the way and picks up one that hides behind a trio of John Grisham novels.

 

“I’m going to loan this to you on the condition that you tell no one where it came from,” Jo says, handing over the plainly covered book.

 

Josh smiles, the crow’s feet showing on the edge of his eyes, “Picked it up at the library, got it.”

 

“Jo, I know you don’t want to come out yet.  But I think there is someone on the team that can help both of us out.”

 

“Gally,” Jo exclaims.  “His name came up in my session today.  I worry it might be too soon after the news he got, you know?”