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To Keep and To Love (Keeping You 2)

To Keep and To Love (Keeping You 2)
Release Date: 01 January 2010

Ryan Johnston and Daniel Miller, reunited at Ryan’s twin sister’s wedding after four years of forced separation, are hoping to build a happy life together. Ryan wants nothing more than to be an equal partner to his lover, but his self-confidence is very low and his biggest fear is that he has nothing to contribute to their future. Daniel, thinking all is well now that Ryan has accepted his marriage proposal, is unprepared when their relationship is threatened.

Ryan’s homophobic parents plan to break up the couple, and they let nothing stand in their way as they attack Ryan, hoping to force him to end the engagement and leave town forever. It almost works – Ryan is ready to give in to protect his lover – but Daniel isn’t willing to let him go. Ryan can fight the outside forces trying to tear them apart, but only if he realizes what his fears of unworthiness are doing to the man he loves. Daniel and Ryan will have to stand together to protect their right to keep each other and their love.

Pages: 298
Words: 96,093
Heat Index:Heat Index
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Book Type: EBook, Paperback

Chapter One


Ryan stood in front of the French doors studying the autumnal garden, fascinated by the play of colors in the bright morning sunshine. The golden red of the trees and the sparkling green of the bushes against the deep azure of the sky produced a tantalizing mix. It was as if nature had produced the perfect embodiment of his soul-deep joy about Daniel's marriage proposal last night. His fingers positively itched with the need to paint it all.

He was glad he hadn't let his homophobic parents' threats keep him away from his younger twin sister's wedding to his best friend Peter Miller, who was also Daniel's younger brother. He'd been so relieved that Nicole hadn't rejected him. His fears that their parents might have poisoned her mind against him while he was gone had been unfounded. Nicole hadn't only welcomed him back with open arms but had stood at his side to defend him when their parents got nasty.

"What the hell?" Daniel's deep voice interrupted his reverie.

"Hm?" He turned around to see his good-looking fiancé standing in the doorway.

"I don't believe this." Daniel's hand was shaking, his blue eyes wide as he looked up from a sheet of bright orange paper. "Who do they think they are?"

"What is it?" He didn't like the way Daniel stumbled toward the black leather sofa before sitting down.

"What's wrong?"

"This is... just cruel." Daniel raked his free hand through his long dark hair.

"Let me see." He sat down next to Daniel and took the piece of paper from his fiancé's trembling fingers.
Words cut from a newspaper had been stuck in neat little rows onto the page. It looked like one of those blackmail letters from a movie. Ryan read the text with widening eyes and a growing feeling of dread.

     Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. Luke 17:3.

You have sinned against both God's will and His law by choosing a lifestyle which is immoral and wrong. But the Lord Jesus teaches that you can be saved if you repent and ask for forgiveness. Even homosexuals are still God's children, in need of His forgiveness and healing.
Please return to Him before it is too late. We will help you get the reparative therapy you need to make you healthy and whole again. The renowned Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic specializes in cases like yours and has been very successful at curing the affliction you have succumbed to.
We pray that you will finally see the error of your ways and find your way back to righteousness by accepting the assistance you need.
George and Linda Johnston, your brother and sister in Faith

Ryan stopped breathing. His hand fell to his side, the sheet sliding to the floor as his fingers were suddenly too weak to hold on. His parents' sudden willingness to forgive and help him was strange enough, considering that they'd disowned and kicked him out of their home four years ago when he told them he was gay. But therapy as the solution?

Did they truly believe that his being gay was a mental condition that could be "cured?" Would they never accept him the way he was, leaving him alone to live his life the way he wanted? Now that he'd finally found Daniel again and was hoping to make a life with the man he'd loved for years, would they try to take that away from him?

"God, I'm sorry, sweetheart." Daniel moved closer and took Ryan into his strong arms. "It was just a white envelope inside the Sunday newspaper, no stamp or return address, so I opened it because I was curious. Now I wish I hadn't."

"I just can't believe they'd go this far." Ryan put his head on Daniel's shoulder and shook with the emotion of having his recent happiness challenged like this. "I just can't believe they'd do this. What have I ever done to make them hate me this much?"

"You haven't done anything, Ryan." Daniel slid a hand behind Ryan's neck. "This isn't your fault. They are just small-minded, bigoted people. Don't let them get to you."

"They took everything away from me once already." Ryan's stomach was cramping painfully, despite Daniel's reassuring strokes to the back of his head. "I thought it was finally over when security removed them from the reception last night. But it looks like they'll try and take everything away from me again. Why? I mean it's not like we're living next door to them, like we even have the same friends or anything. Grand Rapids is a big city. We won't ever even run into them."

"I guess they just can't stand you making your own choices." Daniel was rocking them back and forth now, clearly upset himself.

"You know, maybe that's it." Ryan lifted his head and looked into those blue eyes he loved so much. The sudden insight made him dizzy.

"What?" Daniel looked straight back but didn't stop stroking the back of Ryan's head, making him feel safe despite everything.

"Maybe they just don't want to see me do what I want. I returned to see Nicole get married, and they probably don't like that because they thought I'd stay away. Perhaps they think they can still run my life like they used to when I was a kid. Force me to accept their values without question." Ryan took a deep cleansing breath and sat up straight. "I guess I'll just have to disappoint them again."

"You will?" Daniel's lips were twitching.

"Uh huh. I made my choice when I accepted your proposal last night and I won't let them run me out of the city again. There's so much more at stake now." Ryan smiled and lifted a hand to caress Daniel's cheek. "I won't let them take you away from me a second time, love."

"Excellent." Daniel smiled and kissed the palm of Ryan's hand.

"I thought it was going to be easy, you know?" Ryan tilted his head. "All I want is to marry you, be your partner, and share my life with you. We're not going to let their stupidity stop us, are we?"

"No, sweetheart, we're certainly not." Daniel moved closer and kissed him on the mouth, just a brief reassuring brush of his lips against Ryan's. "So, what do you want to do about this?"

Ryan frowned. Their sudden need to help "cure" him was disquieting, undermining him on an emotional level. To think that his own parents believed him to be mentally ill was in many ways worse than the financial and physical threats against him and his friends they'd used before. Back then that had been enough to make him leave and run all the way to Canada to keep them safe. This new emotional intrusion made him feel inadequate and worthless, even though he knew they were wrong.

There was only one thing he could do, despite the fact that four years of living at the bottom end of society-sometimes as a homeless person-had taught him to stay as far away from anyone connected to law enforcement as possible. He didn't trust them any more now than they'd trusted him in the past, but they were probably his only hope.

"I think we need to tell the police." Ryan grinned when he realized the effect that might have on his parents. "My parents are all about being ‘morally upstanding citizens', so seeing the police on their doorstep and having them ask questions might make them think twice."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Daniel smiled.

Before they could do anything about it, the phone rang. Daniel picked it up.

"Daniel Miller." Daniel's eyes widened as he listened to whoever was on the other end. "Yes, he's here. I'm not sure he wants to talk to you, though. Okay, I'll ask him."

Ryan's heartbeat went up. That sounded suspiciously like it might be his parents. Or was he was getting paranoid?

"Ryan?" Daniel covered the receiver's mouthpiece. "It's your father. He wants to talk to you."Ryan just nodded, momentarily mute with shock. He'd been right. "You don't have to, you know?" Daniel's lips were pressed into a thin line.

"No." Ryan reached for the phone. "No, I think I better talk to him. Maybe I can convince him that they're wrong. Tell him that I'm not going to do what they want."

"All right." Daniel let go of the receiver and put a hand on Ryan's thigh, squeezing it in reassurance.

"This is Ryan." His heart thudded in his chest. He didn't really want to face his parents' hatred and rejection again so soon after the ugly scene they'd made in the church right after Nicole and Peter's wedding ceremony. Not to mention the ruckus they'd caused at the reception later in the evening.

"Ryan. We know that you have received our letter and are calling to make sure you really listen to what we have to say." His father's voice was low, controlled. "We have prayed and asked for the Lord's guidance. We have discussed you with our pastor. He has urged us to offer our help. He has reminded us that you are still a child of God, despite your deviant behavior. We want to help you reject your detestable choice and come back to the Lord. Will you listen to us and accept our support in the form of therapy?"

Ryan swallowed. How did they know he'd received the letter? Why did his father sound so sincere making his version of an offer for help? It made the underlying nastiness of being called deviant even worse. Ryan didn't even know where to start, so he said the first thing that came to his mind, reacting to the statement that had upset him most.

"First of all, my behavior, as you call it, is not deviant. It isn't considered deviant any more by most rational people these days." Ryan leaned back and closed his eyes. "Second of all, being gay is not a choice. I told you this four years ago. It's who I am. There's nothing to fix, so I don't need therapy."

"How can you be so closed-minded?" His father snorted. "What you are doing, living with another man, is unnatural. It is a sin. Why won't you see that?"

"I do not share your belief that loving another man is a sin." Ryan sighed. Was there even any point in arguing with so much pig-headedness?

"But there are people who can help you stop these abnormal urges. Wouldn't it be better if you were able to lead a normal healthy life? Find a nice girl to love and start a family?" His father was close to pleading.

"I do not have any ‘abnormal urges.' Daniel is a wonderful, loving man who will make me very happy. He's all the family I need." Ryan took a deep breath. "Look, all we want is to live our life in peace. We're not interfering in your lives. We live all the way on the other side of the city, so we won't even run into you. Just leave us alone and everything will be fine."

"Everything will not be fine." His father's voice rose in volume. "You are living in sin. Your abnormal mental condition is causing this. In fact the more I think about it the clearer it is that you are too mentally ill to even know how much trouble you are in."

"I am not mentally ill, father." Ryan was losing his patience. "Being gay is not a mental illness. The American Psychological Association removed it from the list of mental disorders a long time ago. Why won't you accept that?"

"It isn't just me who won't accept that." His father sounded indignant. "NARTH really focuses on the issues of treating and curing gay people which the APA has turned its back on. It supports many eminent psychotherapists like Dr. Joseph Nicolosi who have had great success treating gay people and curing them. The clinic we have selected for you is one of the best known in the country. The people there will help you become healthy and normal again."

"I will not submit to any kind of charlatan treatment which is potentially very dangerous and damaging." Ryan needed to communicate at least that point to his father very clearly. "Do you hear me? I refuse to go to your clinic. So stop badgering me."

"You don't know what you're saying, Ryan." His father sounded calm and collected again. "We know what is best for you and believe me, we will do anything we can to help you see the error of your ways and get the help you so desperately need. We will be in touch again soon."

Before Ryan could reply the dial tone made it clear that his father had ended the phone call. He stared at the receiver in shock. He clearly hadn't been able to get through to him at all.

"Ryan?" Daniel took the receiver from his hand and returned it to its cradle. "Are you all right?"

"No." Ryan shook his head in disgust at his own inability to get through to his father. "No, I'm not. I couldn't even get him to listen to me."

"I heard." Daniel slid closer and put his arm around Ryan's shoulders. "You tried but there is no reasoning with people like that."

"Do you know what he said at the end?" Ryan didn't even wait for Daniel to respond. "He said that they'd be in touch again soon."

"What?" Daniel's eyebrows rose toward his hairline. "That doesn't sound good."

"No, it doesn't." Ryan leaned into Daniel. "It creeps me out. It sounded almost like sending letters was only the beginning, and they might do more if I don't ‘repent' and come around to their twisted point of view."

"I'm afraid you're right." Daniel tilted his head. "We may need to think about getting some sort of protection."

"Like what?" Ryan shuddered. "You've got an alarm, right? They can't come in here and harm us, can they?"

"No, I think we're safe inside the house." Daniel smiled. "I was thinking of getting the police to do more than go ask some questions to scare your parents off."

"I'm not sure they would, but it's worth asking, I guess." He sure hoped they'd come up with something. "It looks like the only thing we can do right now. But let's call them tomorrow. I don't want to deal with this anymore right now. It's not like this is an emergency, right? And what are they going to do on a Sunday anyway?"

"Okay." Daniel nodded. "We can do that."

Ryan moved closer to Daniel. There'd been enough serious discussions and negative feelings. He wanted to return to enjoying his time with Daniel. He made sure their robe-clad thighs touched. He smiled and took Daniel's hand, entwining their fingers. He was going to ignore his hateful parents and focus on what was really important.

Daniel pulled their linked hands into his lap and squeezed Ryan's fingers, as if to agree by lending silent support. Ryan turned toward him and moved in for a kiss. When their lips touched he stilled, just breathing in his lover's scent. It smelled like home and love and safety all wrapped up into one exceptional human being. He moved forward and started licking along Daniel's full lips before slanting his head to deepen the kiss. Shivers of delight went down his spine as their tongues touched and slid together. It made his cock rise and throb with need.

The kiss went on and on. He just couldn't get enough of Daniel. Wanting to feel skin rather than fabric he got up, removed both their robes and kicked them aside. He straddled his lover's lap, put both arms around his neck and sighed with the skin to skin contact from chest to groin. Kiss after kiss soon had him breathing more quickly, his cock hardening further. He moaned and started rubbing his erection against Daniel's equally excited cock.

It felt too good to stop, so Ryan just went with it. They soon found a rhythm that had them both panting. Precome slicked their way enough to make the increasing friction a very pleasurable experience.
"God, baby, want you so much." Daniel groaned into his mouth, bucking his hips as Ryan was bearing down.
"Daniel. Oh. Don't stop." Ryan was frantic, his entire body was tingling and sparks of arousal were chasing up and down his spine. The slight pressure against his balls as he was pushing himself against Daniel's was making him ache to come.

"Not... not stopping," Daniel panted, moving his mouth to Ryan's shoulder, nipping and biting the sensitive skin there. The stubble-roughed cheek rubbing against the sensitive skin on Ryan's neck drove his arousal even higher.

Daniel slid one hand down Ryan's spine until he reached his ass. He pushed their lower bodies even more closely together. That did it. The additional pressure was more than Ryan could take, and he let himself go.
"Daniel... love!" His balls contracted, and his entire body shook as wave after wave of release pulsed through him, his hot semen spurting between their bodies.

"Ryan!" Daniel went rigid for a moment, and then more heat splashed against their stomachs. Daniel jerked against him a few times, moaning into his shoulder as he finished.

Ryan was too stunned to move. That had certainly been different. He'd needed to reconnect with his lover on this basic level after all the unpleasantness of his parents' intrusion into their just-found happiness. Pleasure continued rippling through him as they slowly calmed down, still clinging to each other. He was sated and relaxed.

"Nap?" Daniel's voice was gentle and sounded at least as worn out as Ryan felt.

"Naps are good." Ryan smiled and was asleep before he could even start worrying about the sticky mess they'd made.

* * * *

Soft, warm wetness was sliding across Ryan's stomach in slow circles. He was on his back, the soft leather of the sofa warm against his skin. He opened his eyes to see Daniel bent over him, removing the residue from their earlier activities with a wash cloth.

"Hey." God, but he felt good now, his father's rantings only a distant memory.

Daniel placed a kiss on his clean stomach and then looked up and smiled.

"Hey, yourself." Daniel held out a hand. "Feeling better?"

"Yeah, thanks for helping me focus on what's really important." He'd desperately needed to reconnect with his lover. He reached out for Daniel's hand and let himself be pulled up into a standing position.
His stomach growled, making him blush with embarrassment.

"I guess I better get breakfast started." Daniel grinned. "Wouldn't want you to starve or anything. Omelet okay?"

"God, I'm sorry." Ryan looked down, mortified.

"Hey, don't feel bad." Daniel stepped closer and hugged him. "I know you probably haven't eaten well over the past four years. I'm just glad you're here now, and I can feed you properly."

"You don't mind?" Ryan looked up into the bluest eyes he'd ever seen. "It just seems like I've been hungry for so long. All I was able to take with me when they kicked me out was a backpack with a few spare clothes, my favorite sketchbook and some key documents. Surviving without a proper job was hard. There was never enough money for more than just the basics."

"Of course I don't mind, sweetheart." Daniel kissed him on the lips. "I love you and would do anything for you. I want us to focus on what we have together as much as possible and cooking is just one of the many things I'd like to explore with you over the next fifty or sixty years."

"Okay, as long as you're sure." Ryan hugged him back. "You're stuck with me now, so you need to be sure."
"I'm sure." Daniel smiled. "I've never been so sure about anything in my life."


©Serena Yates, 2010
All Rights Reserved

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