On the night of their date, Jack sent a bouquet of gerbera daisies and dressed up in black pants, a crisp white shirt, and a navy blazer. Bernard saw him and smiled wide.
“You look terrific!”
Jack kissed him in thanks. “So do you, all in gray. Love that tie.”
Bernard straightened his jet black tie and smoothed his silver-gray suit. “Well, you said this was a nice place. Thought I’d dress the part. I had to buy some new pants after losing over 30 pounds so far.”
Jack grinned at him. “That’s wonderful! I’m so proud of you. See, that diet is working and you’re exercising too.”
“Every chance I get.”
Jack kissed him softly. “Maybe we could add something to that routine.”
Bernard’s smile disappeared and he flattened his lips to a thin line. “I wish I could do what you want to. I’m so afraid of that–”
Jack tilted his head and started a sentence when his stomach rumbled loudly. “Come on, we’ll talk about this later. I’m starved.”
“You can’t change my mind on this one.”
“All in good time, my dear.” Jack said confidently.
They dined at a nicer restaurant than usual. Bernard eyed the less expensive appetizer section.
“Don’t want to order something too expensive.” He explained.
“Why not?” Jack inquired.
“Uh, well ya know. Just in case…” Bernard started.
Jack cocked his head thoughtfully and took his hand. “In case of what? Getting sick off something new?”
Bernard shot a quick glance up at his boyfriend. “Uh, just in case this is our last date.”
Jack let out a long sigh. “Bern—how can you even think that? I have no intention of ever letting you go. I know how you feel about that, but I promise you, I can help you with it–”
The older man pulled his hands away, gripped his hair and sighed loudly. “Dammit, I thought I told you I can’t do that.”
Jack reached for his hand again, but he pulled it away. “Bern—”
“No, please don’t make a scene, Jack. I told you I’m not comfortable with being seen like that or doing that. Look, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or turn you off or do anything to jeopardize us and this wonderful relationship we have right now. I don’t want to hurt you, but I don’t think I can do what you want to do. Sex just is something that I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with. Not ever…” Unshed tears glinted behind the blue eyes and Jack leaned towards him.
The waiter walked up to interrupt and take their orders. Jack handled it. “We need a few more minutes, please.”
“Very good, sir.” The waiter left.
Jack reached for his companion’s hands again, but was denied. The man wouldn’t even look at him. Jack cocked his head and tried to look into his boyfriend’s face. “Bernard? Please just look at me?”
Bernard looked up with a sudden glare. “You know I can’t do that!” He snapped. “You take me out for an expensive dinner and expect me to just loosen up? Forget this! I told you, I’m not capable of that! Not even with the man I want more than anything– His lower lip quivered and he jettisoned himself from his chair with a jolt as he ran out to the parking lot.
“Bernard! Wait a minute! Wait up!” Jack looked over his shoulder at the waiter and caught his attention. “We’ll be right back.”
Jack ran out to the parking lot and found Bernard sitting on the bumper of his boyfriend’s car, bawling. He approached the man cautiously.