Life and love require making choices, even in times of natural disasters.
Natural disasters happen all the time all around the world but sometimes they happen in unexpected places. What happens when six couples face the eruptions of one of the world's most famous volcanoes - Mount Vesuvius?
Seattle, Washington USA
Few people, Crane Shaw included, would argue that he didn't pretty much have it all. Good grades through grade- and high-school had propelled him into and out of university with honors. He'd put off his career in marketing/advertising to enlist in the U.S. Army, serving God and country admirably before being honorable discharge with the rank of sergeant. He had the physique for which some men would kill for and his good looks started when he was a baby -- "Too beautiful to be a boy!" -- and didn't desert him anywhere along the way, not even into puberty when a lot of his peers turned gawky and ugly at one and the same time.
What's more, Crane, supine on the blanket in a secluded part of Seattle's Volunteer Park, knew how lucky he was, well aware that his education, charm, and good looks had gotten him an awful lot in life and were likely to get him a helluva lot more. As far as he was concerned, anyone who said being attractive didn't get you a whole lot more than being ugly needed his or her head examined.
His eyes were closed to the same summer sun that was toasting the rest of his body except for the brief expanse of swimsuit that wrapped his ass, cock, and balls. The swimming trunks were European-cut, not just to show off his exquisite Army-honed physique to the best advantage, but because he'd always found the popular surfer-style, favored by most American straight males, caused weird tanning lines that never flattered anyone's body. Since he looked good, and knew he looked good, he did all he could to stay looking good. He never could understand why anyone, especially great-looking actors, went out of their way to look downright scruffy and unappealing. Since Crane had looked great from an early age, and still looked great, he always suspected his looks would somehow disappear overnight if he didn't do all he could to prevent it.
He checked his watch, and figured he still had ten minutes face-up before rolling to his belly, he shut his eyes, once again, and stretched, knowing full-well that the superb musculature of his body was well-displayed. By raising his hips slightly, the impressive ridges of his cock and balls became even more evidently outlined by the spandex which covered them.
Crane didn't mind that people were probably watching and admiring. He had become used to it. If looking at him gave people pleasure, he was more than willing to let them have at it, especially since he'd long ago realized that he was just as appreciative of the aesthetic beauty of an attractive male as the next person. In fact, Crane's penchant for looking went even farther, having brought him to Volunteer Park, and not for the first time, to stroll the bushes and watch what so often went on there. Less than an hour before, he had spent five minutes watching one attractive guy blow another, resisting the temptation, even when invited, to join them.
Something suddenly blocked the sun. Not a cloud. By now, Crane knew the feel of a cloud when passing between the sun and his closed eyes. He opened his eyes to see a silhouette, sunlight catching blond-blond hair to turn it halo-like about the head that became more defined as its owner dropped to the blanket beside him.
"Hi, I'm Dan," the blond said. "I've been watching you for a while now."
"Have you?" Crane asked.
"You a member of some local gym?"
"Obviously, you do work out."
"Have done. Will do again, someday soon."
"Wouldn't want what you've got to go to fat."
"I'll try not to let it happen."
"It would be a shame if you did, considering just how damned good you look."
Crane shaded his green eyes with a forearm to better see Dan's blue eyes and handsome face. At the same time, he let his gaze take in the rest of the kid's trim body decked out in shorts, T-shirt, and running shoes.
"I think you should come with me to my place," Dan said, "and fuck my brains out."
If he expected Crane to be shocked by his come-on, he was disappointed. Crane had been propositioned, by men and women, just about every way there was. That an attractive young man should materialize, out of seeming nowhere, for any other reason than for sex, especially considering where they were, hadn't even crossed Crane's mind for a fleeting second.
"And just how old are you, buddy?" Crane asked. No doubt Dan was attractive. Like Crane, he was one of those blonds who burnished well in the sun, unlike many of their peers who merely went red as lobsters. That said, Crane was, more often than not, approached by others as confident of their good looks as he was; unattractive people were usually too wary of rejection to be as bold as Dan was.
"Eighteen," Dan said. He had a nice smile with natural-pink lips over some very white teeth. He had a slight dimple in his right cheek. He had enough muscle definition so that the squares of his pectorals, the flatness of his belly, the compactness of his ass, the swells of his triceps and biceps, and his nicely shaped legs were obvious even when concealed by material. As if to emphasize the sizable lump his genitals made in the upper left leg of his shorts, Dan languidly touched that area and adjusted what he found there, all the while smiling sweetly.
"I'm flattered by the invitation, kid," Crane said. "Really. And, I'll be more than willing to reconsider once you're just a bit older."
Actually, Crane had never found men his own age or younger as attractive or as interesting as older men. He didn't know the reason why he felt that way; in fact, he could care less. There was kind of sadistic pleasure to be had, though, in turning down young guys like Dan who probably received so few turn-downs; Crane never really felt afterward that he had really missed out on anything too extraordinary.
"Your mouth says no, but your cock seems to be saying otherwise," Dan said. His expression was all who in the hell do you think you're kidding?
"Kid," Crane said, making no effort to conceal the swelling of his cock; although he had entertained the idea of a quick roll to his belly. "I don't mean to deflate your ego, but my cock can go hard at the sight of knothole. That doesn't mean, though, I'd be fucking my way through a lumberyard any time soon."
He put a hand to the movement of his cock in his bathing suit, not to conceal its movement but just to make sure that its expansion remained concealed. Without his help, the top of his cock would have breached the waistband of the swimsuit and kept on extending along his lower belly to a point beyond his navel.
"I don't live far away," Dan said. "My roommate won't be home until evening."
"Thanks, again, but no thanks, again," Crane said. He enjoyed being the object of desire, even of this teenager probably lying about being of legal age. But, Crane truly wasn't interested, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the threat of later being picked up by the cops for statutory rape. "I'm actually expecting someone to join me shortly."
Evidence of his good luck being how John Kindrow materialized out of the blue, at that very minute, as if on cue, when Crane hadn't really expected to see him until he returned to John's apartment later in the afternoon.
"Speaking of the devil," Crane said by way of greeting his old friend. The two had attended high school together. After graduation, Crane had gone to college and John had gone into the Army. By the time Crane had his degree and honorable military discharge, John had gotten out of the military and joined an import-export firm in Seattle. When John had extended an invitation for Crane to spend the summer in Seattle, before heading off for job interviews in the fall, Crane had jumped at the chance.
"Hope I'm not interrupting something," John said. He had the kind of Italian good looks that saw him with a seeming tan all year around. If he was shorter, at five-foot-eight, than he would have liked, he looked mighty fine as long as he kept slim and trim. At the moment, he'd put on just tad too much weight which didn't see him looking fat but not his best, either.
"Dan was just leaving, weren't you, Dan?"
"How about a three-way?" Dan suggested. "The two of you book-ending me?"
Crane didn't even have to see John's face to know he would be interested, not likely frightened by the fact the kid could well be underage. John had a penchant for young men that saw him always on the outlook for guys who looked far younger than they were.
"John has syphilis," Crane said.
"Jesus, what a friend and liar!" John said, obviously disappointed.
Crane, who had long suspected John had a secret crush on Crane, could well imagine how the proposed three-way might have had John all hot to trot. Likely better, though, John kept to his fantasy which was probably far more exciting than the reality would have been.
"Or did the doctor just say it was a bad case of crabs?" Crane asked.
"Neither of you know what you're missing," Dan said and came to his feet.
"Oh, but I think I do, and I apologize for the insanity of my friend for turning you down," John said. No need for him to fake genuine disappointment. He waited for Dan to eliminate Crane from the proposition, but that didn't happen.
"Maybe some other time, then," Dan said and headed off, his ass looking mighty fine as the kid headed across the lawn.
"You attract good-looking people like honey attracts bees," John said and took the spot on the blanket that Dan had abandoned.
"In case you didn't notice, the kid is jail bait," Crane said.
"Did you ask for I.D.?"
"What underage kid, these days, doesn't have fake I.D.?" Crane wanted to know.
"Lots of teenagers look younger than they really are," John said. "Besides, I'm sure I've seen him in the bars."
"Said the pedophile to the policeman."
"Just remember that there are some of us more than willing to settle for your rejects if you'd just be courteous enough to send them our way."
"You want me to call him back for you?"
"Actually, I have a client due in a couple of hours," John said. "I was at home, changing, and thought I'd run this up to you." He retrieved a folded envelope from his pants pocket and waved it in the air. "After all, I'm as curious as you are."
Crane took the offering and checked the return address which was a publisher from whom he hadn't expected to hear anything for several more weeks. "Quick turnaround," Crane admitted, "leaving me to suspect a form rejection letter, without the manuscript in tow, although I did include an SASE."
Crane had written the book in question as a lark, after having brought one of the m/m books from John's extensive library with him to the park one day, and after reading the book he decided he could do just as well, if not better. In result, he'd written a chapter a day for a couple of weeks, nightly reading each one aloud to John, and whomever other of their friends were handy, while they all laughed up a storm and got rip-roaring drunk. At sixty-thousand words, Crane decided he'd devoted too much time and effort to the project not to at least try to make an effort to get some kind of compensation. He'd bundled the manuscript up and sent it off to the publisher whose name and address was located on the copyright page of the m/m novel that had sparked his muse in the first place.
"Are you going to open it?" John asked.
Crane tried hard to detect in John's demeanor what he expected was a kind of sadistic enjoyment in being present for one of the few told-you-so moments that had happened so infrequently in Crane and John's long-going friendship. No one had laughed harder at each chapter of Crane's novel than John had. What's more, John had denigrated Crane's decision to send the manuscript to the publisher. "For Christ's sake, Crane, you have a main character fucking a goat on a cliff top in one chapter, and screwing a watermelon a couple of chapters later!"
Deciding there was no delaying the inevitable, and more than goodness-gracious ready to let John, considering all their good times together, do a bit of gloating at Crane's benefit, this time round, Crane opened the envelope, and retrieved the enclosed letter and â€¦
"A fucking check!" Crane exclaimed.
"You're kidding!" The droop of John's expression said more than anything how much he suddenly felt deprived of one case of Crane not coming out king of the mountain, cock of the walk.
"And the publisher wants to know if I have any more?" Crane paraphrased a sentence from the acceptance letter. "If so, please send, because they'd be more than happy to look at them."
"You, my friend, could fall into a pile of shit and come out smelling like a rose," John said, getting to his feet. "Let's go out tonight and celebrate with a few drinks -- on you."
"What about your client?"
"I'll ditch him early."
"Sounds like a plan."
"Oh, and Abel called, wanting to talk with you."
Abel Reeves was in the Army Reserves with John and was often included in John and Crane's group of friends.
"Did he say about what?"
"Just said it was something he knew about that you might or might not find of interest," John said, walking backwards. "He said for me to tell you to give him a call, since all of his attempts to reach you today have gone to your voice mail."