Brad and Duncan McKinley, brothers, best friends and business partners think that the most difficult part of the days ahead will be the aftermath of their coming out to their parents---but secrets their parents had been keeping from them all their lives come to light in a brutal fashion. The murder of their parents exposes a brother they never knew existed, a man without a conscience who is out to destroy them, but not before he reveals to them something that will not only change their lives forever, but also make them come to terms with the feelings for one another they have suppressed for years.
Brad McKinley was nervous. He'd told his brother Duncan he wouldn't be, but he couldn't lie to himself. Now, within a few minutes his brother would be here, they would go over again how they were going to break the news to their parents, then they'd get in Duncan's car and make the two hour trip to where their parents, Linda and Thomas McKinley, lived in Pasadena.
Brad lurched to his feet from his desk chair and began pacing around the small spare room he used as his home office. This wasn't going to be easy, and just how his folks would take the news he could only guess. His mother would most likely cry at first, but he was sure she would eventually accept what he had to tell them. His father, well, that was a very different story. Thomas McKinley was an extremely conservative man in both his business and personal life. His political views were most definitely to the right of center, his moral views based on "family values" and a rigid belief that if everyone was more "God-fearing" there would be fewer problems in the world.
At their last Thanksgiving dinner together he'd told his sons that he worked to uphold Proposition 8 and had made it clear that in his opinion "All this carrying on about gay rights, gay soldiers, gay marriage and other such nonsense shouldn't be paraded in front of decent people's faces."
Brad and Duncan had exchanged glances, but remained silent. However, it was after listening to their father's rant that Duncan had fumed, and on their drive back to San Diego said to Brad, "He has to be told he can't say things like that in front of us anymore."
"It won't change his mind about anything," Brad replied in protest.
"It doesn't matter. He has to be told. Don't worry, Brad..." Duncan embraced his brother. "He's not going to disinherit you or anything like that."
Brad wasn't so sure about that. Not that he really cared about inheriting his father's wealth. Yes, there was a lot of it. Thomas McKinley had amassed a huge fortune by savvy trading over the years, just how vast the brothers had no way of knowing, as their father never talked about it.
But both Brad and Duncan were successful in their own right. Five years ago, they had started a small publishing house together, McKinley Publications, a business that, although rocky at first, had grown into a respected source of both fiction and nonfiction books along with a small, but burgeoning gay-oriented press. Of course, that part of their success had earned their father's scorn, if not his suspicion. Not for one moment would Thomas McKinley believe that either of his sons was gay. Such a thing wasn't possible, had never been heard of in the McKinley family, ever.
"So, who's going to go first?" Duncan asked after he'd arrived at Brad's San Diego condo that overlooked the verdant landscapes of Balboa Park.
"You're older, so it should be you," Brad replied with a faint smile.
He was still nervous, but in his brother's company he always felt more secure. After all, they'd shared this secret from their teens, protected one another from bullies, commiserated with each other over failed romances. Brad often wondered how he'd ever have survived his teenage years without Duncan. He loved his brother so much, sometimes it hurt. When Duncan had once talked of moving away after graduation, Brad had been devastated and begged him not to go through with his plan.
"I knew you'd say that," Duncan said, gazing with affection at his younger brother. They were about the same height, Duncan only slightly taller, both with athletic physiques. But whereas Duncan's hair was straight and dark, almost black, his eyes green and his skin a faintly olive sheen, Brad sported a mop of blond curls, blue eyes and a creamy, fair complexion. It was little wonder that people were often surprised when they found out the men were brothers.
"Okay," he said, "I'll make it easy for you. I'll tell them, then before the shit hits the fan and Dad has a stroke, you'll jump in and add your confession to mine."
Brad gave him a worried look. "You think Dad will have a stroke?"
"Maybe not a total stroke, but he will go apoplectic for sure. How could he not? Mr. True Blue Right Wing himself being told he has two gay sons? The odds are he'll implode in some form or another."
"Maybe this isn't such a good idea, Duncan."
Duncan frowned. "Don't chicken out on me now, for Pete's sake. This was all your idea, remember? You said you didn't want to live a lie any longer."
"I know, I know..." Brad started pacing again. "It's Mom I keep worrying about. I know she'll get over it sooner than Dad, but she's going to have to put up with his ranting for days, maybe weeks, months...maybe forever."
Duncan rose from the armchair he'd been sprawled in and put his arms around Brad.
"It'll be okay," he murmured, his lips close to Brad's ear. "The worst he can do is tell us to never darken his doorstep again, and you know Mom won't put up with that."
Brad sighed and pressed himself deeper into his brother's arms. Why was it when Duncan held him, he felt as though he could face any challenge, solve any problem, even face their father's wrath? Was it so wrong to rely on his brother this much-to love him as much as he did?
The warmth and strength of Duncan's body acted as both a soothing balm and a sensual fire. Duncan's lips on his neck sent chills right through his blood. He knew Duncan's touch shouldn't have this effect on him. He knew people regarded such feelings as taboo, as incest, and yet, for him it felt so right, so wonderfully right. He leaned back a little to avoid pressing his aching erection against Duncan's thigh. He sighed and Duncan tipped his head back and gazed into his eyes.
"What's wrong, little brother?"
"I love you, that's what's wrong. I've tried not to, tried so hard, but I can't imagine life without you."
"There's no reason to imagine that." Duncan kissed Brad's cheek gently. "I'm not going anywhere." His right hand cupped Brad's butt and pulled him in close. "It's okay that you feel this way. I love you too, you know that."
"But we can't act on it, Duncan. It would be wrong, wouldn't it?"
"Would it? When is loving someone wrong?" He tightened his arms around Brad. "Remember when we were in our teens? You were the first boy I kissed."
"We were young then," Brad murmured. "Now-"
"We're old?" Duncan chuckled and released Brad from his embrace.
Brad stepped back, his smile rueful. "Not old, older. And I guess, in my case, not any wiser."
"You're fine. So we have a crush on each other. That doesn't make us monsters, Brad. It's not like we can have babies or anything. Not that we've ever gone that far..."
Brad said nothing. This was not the moment to tell his brother that "going that far" was something he'd dreamed about for years.
"I guess we'd better get going."
"Right." Brad mentally pulled himself together. "Let's go face the lion in his den."
Duncan laughed. "That's a really good analogy."