Cartography for Beginners

Cartography for Beginners by Jenna Jones Read Free Book Online

Book: Cartography for Beginners by Jenna Jones Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jenna Jones
Tags: Gay & Lesbian
Every time Stuart came back to the city Leo was stunned by how well he fit -- with his friends, with his family, in his arms. "I like the earring."
    Stuart laughed and moved away, touching the small gold stud with a fingertip. "I've decided to have my midlife crisis."
    "Quietly and tastefully, of course." He let Stuart go. "Brunch is ready. You know where to put your stuff." Stuart nodded and took his suitcase into the guest room -- it was ostensibly Dune's, though he hadn't slept there for months -- and Leo returned to preparing their food. He caught Micah beaming at him and shook his head in response.
    ***
    Brunch was spent telling each other what they had been up to since Stuart's last visit -- or Micah's last email, in his case -- and once everyone's stories had been related, Leo said to Stuart, "I can't remember if you ever met Malcolm and Jack."
    "Once or twice, I think," Stuart said. "At one of your parties. Jack is tall, soft-spoken, and ginger, correct?"
    "That's Jack," said Leo with a nod.
    "So talented, too," Frances said. "His Titus Andronicus last year was stunning."
    "And Malcolm," Stuart said, "salt-and-pepper beard, distinguished-looking, as I recall. An imposing figure. Deep voice."
    "We used to call it the voice of God when we were students." Leo smiled with a nostalgic look in his eye. "As in, 'Look out, here comes the voice of God' before he'd come thundering in."
    "Did he and Jack meet when you were his students?" Stuart reached for another cinnamon roll.
    "No, they met later," Leo said. "Much later. He was married for years -- Malcolm was, I mean. No one knew he was gay until the day he left Emily to be with Jack."
    "I always felt for Emily," said Frances. "The man she thought was the love of her life leaving her out of the blue. I've never blamed her for cutting herself off from all of us." She explained to Stuart, "She thought we all knew and were laughing at her behind her back. The truth was, no one knew. Not any of us, even Malcolm's closest friends."
    "I imagine it was quite painful," Stuart said in a neutral tone, and when Micah and Leo both gave him sorrowful, empathetic looks he shook his head slightly and looked away.
    Dune said, "But before that happened, the theater was the best playground ever."
    "I have a hard time imagining you as a child," Stuart said to Dune.
    "I was," Dune said and drank some juice. "I was completely spoiled, too."
    "Oh, you were not spoiled," Frances said. "You were nurtured." She reached over to stroke his hair. "There's a difference."
    "Yes, Mom." Dune smiled at her.
    Stuart sipped his coffee. There was something about being around this odd little family that made him regret certain actions he'd taken as a young man. His own son would be thirty-one now, but Stuart hadn't seen him since he was as small as Dune in Leo's stories. I wouldn't know my own son if I passed him in the street, he thought. I wouldn't know my daughters.
    It had been their mother's decision to keep the children away from him, and Stuart had not challenged it. Perhaps he should have, but at the time he'd been so angry and hurt he had done everything but pack the bags.
    Perhaps if he had challenged her, he could have this same comfortable relationship with his own son that Leo had with Dune, the same sense of play and trust. Perhaps he would still be on speaking terms with his children's mother.
    No, a relationship like Leo and Dune's was rare and special. Stuart had certainly never been that close to his own father. It was something unique to Leo, the same reason why Stuart loved to be in this apartment, with these people, at this table. Leo made it feel like home.
    The boys cleaned up after they ate and Stuart went to the guest room to hang up his suit for the funeral, as well as the rest of his clothes. Leo joined him after a few minutes. "You're looking contemplative today."
    "Am I?" Stuart hung the ties he'd brought over a hanger. "I expect that's weariness. It's been a long day for me

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