When he got out of class at noon on Monday, Brody used his cell phone to call Adrian. At first the person who answered the phone at the restaurant didn't want to let Brody speak to his boss. It was only when he explained that he was calling about the flowers and that he was on his lunch break that he was allowed to speak to Adrian.
He was promptly invited to lunch. After he explained that he was due at a lab at 1:30, he was invited to lunch the following day. He accepted but he reminded Adrian that he was due at the Colby shop at 1:00.
"Tell Bob you'll be a little late but that it's a business lunch. He'll understand that."
"Is there a problem?"
"Nothing big, but yes, there's something we need to talk about."
"Okay, Adrian. Thanks. I'll see you about 12:20. It will take me that long to get there after my class."
"No problem. Just get your sexy self over here as quickly as you can."
It wasn't Raul who greeted Brody at Adrian's. It was the host himself, who gave his guest a quick but warm kiss and led him back to what Brody suspected was Adrian's own table, secluded, where one could talk openly without being overheard by the other diners. Or lunchers in this case.
"If you insist, I'll have Sidney bring you a beer, but I've chosen a nice little red that will go beautifully with this lunch. Which do you want?" As he spoke, Adrian's intensely blue eyes were slowly going from Brody's face down as far as his chest (the rest being hidden by the table) and then back up.
Brody felt a tingle run down his spine as he looked at his friend's beautiful face.
"You said you wanted to teach me about wines, so let's have your `nice little red.' And can you explain to me how a wine can be `little'?" He grinned.
"It's a silly and pretentious word. I'm sorry I used it. I was parodying self-proclaimed wine experts, but you had no way of knowing that. Let's just say this wine isn't too terribly expensive, and it's not too full-bodied. But I think you'll like it."
"Bring it on."
The meal consisted of luncheon-sized filets mignons, grilled asparagus, and redskin potatoes. Brody suspected Adrian had chosen the menu in order to appeal to his down-to-earth tastes, so he made sure to tell him how good it all was.
Brody declined dessert, so Adrian did, too. When the coffee had been served, Brody asked, "Is there some sort of problem with the flowers, Adrian?"
"No, not with the flowers. It's the deliveries. They are erratic. One day they're here at 10:30, the next at 11:45. That just won't do. We need everything here by 11:15 at the very latest in order to get things set up. We have to put the table flowers into the bud vases ourselves, and we need to get the larger arrangements in position before patrons begin to arrive. We don't officially open until noon, but some of our regulars, the business crowd occasionally get here at 11:45, and of course we don't turn them away. On the other hand, we don't want them to see the staff scurrying around trying to get all the flowers in place."
"Yeah, I can see the problem. So, I'll tell you what. I'm working at the shop here in Colby, so I'll see Bobby this afternoon, explain the problem, and get back to you. Or he will."
"Not him. You. Remember our agreement. I deal only with you."
"Do you have something against Bob?"
"Not at all, dear boy. I just want the pleasure of seeing your gorgeous self or hearing your sexy voice anytime I get the chance. And I suspect choosing you to be my liaison with your brother has raised your cachet at the shop, hasn't it?"
The briefest of smiles crossed Adrian's face. "Do your brother and the others in the business treat you any differently now?"
Brody chuckled. "Well, I'm sure Bob knows why you insisted on dealing with me. But Missy and the others are impressed, I think. So, yeah, I get a little more respect at work now."
Adrian took a sip of his coffee and patted his lips with his napkin. "Good. Now, you run off and see your brother and see what he suggests to remedy our problem." He stood, so Brody did as well.
Adrian came around the table, hugged Brody, and sent him on his way with a discreet pat on the rear. Brody felt as if every eye in the place was on him as he left the restaurant.
Bob was anxiously waiting for Brody's report on the lunch with Adrian Lynch. Brody explained in full, suggesting that the problem had to be with Floyd Putnam who worked part time for the Coxes making deliveries.
"Jesus, Bob. They never know when he's going to show up, and that throws their schedule off. You gotta get rid of him."
"You may be right, but I've got to at least see what Floyd says first. And he's such a nice old guy, I hate to let him go. He's worked for us ever since we opened the shop here in Colby."
"The business here is growing, isn't it?"
Bob grinned. "Oh, yeah. We do almost 50% more business than the shop in Higgins."
"You're not thinking of closing the Higgins shop, are you?"
"No, it pays for itself. But most of the profit comes from this store."
"And the contract with Adrian's makes the picture even better, doesn't it?"
"Yeah. What are you getting at?"
"I think you need to find a full-time delivery guy for this shop. Someone you can depend on to do the job, someone who will be available for deliveries all day."
"You may be right. I don't know how much we could pay or who'd be available. And we can't afford to do that in Higgins, for sure."
"Carl is doing okay at the Higgins shop, and most afternoons--this year at least--I can make late deliveries after Carl's gone home if necessary."
"Okay, okay. Call Adrian and tell him we're gonna get a new, full-time delivery guy."
On Thursday afternoon Bob told Brody that Floyd had been stopping at Krutky's Diner every morning for coffee with his cronies. Sometimes he lost track of time. When Bob told him they were hiring someone full-time to do deliveries, he was relieved. He said he and his wife wanted to go to Florida for the winter anyway.
The new "guy" turned out to be Amanda, a beautiful redhead. A housewife and friend of Melissa's, she'd decided she needed to get out of the house more. Brody thought she added greatly to the looks of things around the shop.
* * *
Saturday morning Brody was up at 6:00 as always. He had breakfast, washed the dishes, changed the linens on the bed, shaved, showered dressed in khakis and the blue-long-sleeve button-up shirt that was the Petal Pushers uniform for all but the summer months.
He had time to kill before opening the shop at 9:00, so he sat in what had become his favorite spot. The slanting rays of the rising sun were paler now, a sure sign of autumn, yet they still caused the foliage on the big trees in the back yard to glow. Many of the summer birds were gone, but the sparrows remained, and the house finches had returned. All of them fluttered around the feeder. Apparently the squirrels and chipmunks were creating avian consternation elsewhere for the moment.
Brody's thoughts went back to the previous Sunday and to Justin. Although he knew he was doing the right thing by refusing to have sex with the teen, somehow he felt guilty. He'd seen the tears in Justin's eyes as they'd talked in the park. Back in June Justin had come across as brash and self-assured, but Brody had come to see that he also had a sensitive side. He'd promised Justin's folks he wouldn't hurt the boy, and he wanted to keep that promise. Yet apparently he'd already hurt him. It was flattering to be so admired, and he did like Justin. He decided the best thing he could do was maintain his stance as big brother and discourage anything more intimate. They could have an appropriate friendship, but it would be strictly hands-off.
It was a busy morning at the shop. They had an unusual number of telephone orders and lots of walk-in traffic, so Brody was glad Sheila was there. Carl was kept busy with deliveries.
About 11:00 there was a lull, and Sheila said, "Want coffee?"
"No, thanks. I think I'll have a Dr. Pepper."
Perched on stools next to the main work table, they sipped their drinks. Brody asked about Sheila's family. After she had assured him both husband and daughter were fine, she said, "It's strange Justin hasn't been in."
"Yeah, I've been too busy to think about him. But usually he stops by before this on Saturday mornings. He must have other plans today."
"Yeah, probably. After all, he's a senior this year, and I'm sure he's up to something with his friends."
Brody wondered if Justin had any friends. He never spoke of any. And this was the first Saturday since school had started that Justin hadn't shown up. `Oh, well,' Brody thought, `Maybe he'll get here yet.
When Brody left the shop at noon and Justin still hadn't appeared, he worried that the teen might be angry with him, but he didn't know what he could do about it.
* * *
That afternoon he gave his loafers a Marine spit shine. Then he shaved and showered a second time to get ready for his date with Adrian. He dressed carefully in his new blazer, slacks, tie, and loafers. He was waiting downstairs when Adrian pulled up in front of his house in a late-model dark red Jaguar S-type sedan.
As he buckled his seat belt, he looked around and said, "I've never ridden in a Jag before. This is really nice."
Adrian winked at him and chuckled. "The best revenge."
"Haven't you heard the expression, `the best revenge is living well'?"
"Nope. That's a new one on me. But I like it. Driving a car like this is living well, for sure. Is it an eight?"
"What's this color called?"
"Sounds like a name some committee came up with."
"It's the most vibrant color they have. I didn't want grey or silver or black, so it was either this or racing green."
"Hey, if you've got it, flaunt it. This car will attract attention."
"In a discreet way, of course."
Brody grinned. "If you say so."
Later as they were driving up I-75 Brody said, "Adrian, you know we've hired a new delivery person. Hopefully you'll be getting things at the right time every day. If you don't, please let me know, okay?"
"Your new delivery `person" showed up at exactly the right time yesterday. God, where did you get such a beautiful woman?"
"She's a friend of Melissa's. She is great looking, isn't she?"
"No question about that. But I'll get on your hot ass if she doesn't do the job. Now, let's not talk business, hunk. This is our personal time."
Brody took a deep breath and settled back into the leather bucket, admiring the Jag's posh appointments.
Adrian negotiated the streets of Detroit like a native and pulled up in front of a downtown restaurant called Synthesis. He was greeted by the valet, who looked like a university student and was strikingly good looking.
"Good evening, Mr. Lynch. It's good to see you, sir."
Adrian flashed him a smile. "Hi, Chris. How's business?"
"Oh, doing very well, sir. The ballet is bringing them out."
Adrian and Brody got out of the car. As he stepped in, Chris said, "I hope you and your, uh, guest enjoy your meal."
"Oh, I've no doubt we will."
Inside they were greeted by a tall, well-built young blond man, the opposite of Raul at Adrian's. Brody thought the guy looked familiar. Then he realized that he and the maitre d `looked enough alike to be brothers.
It seemed to Brody that Barney, for that was his name, was a bit more solicitous than need be. When they were seated, he said, "You must come here a lot. These people all seem very impressed with you. Or do they treat all their patrons like this?"
"The answer to both questions is yes. They have to be impressed with me because I own this place. And if they don't treat all the patrons as well as they treat me, they're in deep doo-doo."
"Jesus, I didn't know you owned anything except Adrian's."
"Well, technically Dad owns Adrian's. I just manage it. But I own Synthesis.
Brody looked around the room. Where Adrian's looked rather like a men's club or a library, with lots of dark paneling and leather, Synthesis was contemporary. The atmosphere was hushed, but the vibrant colors, which Adrian described as amethyst, teal and pearl, sparkled off chrome and crystal.
"Where'd you get that maitre d'?" Brody asked. "He looks a lot like me."
Adrian grinned. "Well, I have good taste. And I like tall, hunky blonds, obviously. Come to think of it, you should quit your job and come be a maitre d' at Adrian's."
"Yeah, right. Like I could do that. Besides, what would you do about Raul?"
"Raul can't work from 11:00 AM until midnight seven days a week. We have another guy who backs him up. But I'd get rid of him in a New York minute if you'd like to join the staff."
"Don't be mad, but I don't think so. Besides, what would your wait staff think of you bringing in a total newbie, somebody who had never carried a tray or bussed a table?"
"Different skills, babe. Besides, the staff would like whoever I told them to like."
"Well, thanks. I'm flattered." Actually he felt a little like a piece of meat. He didn't think he'd want a job where he was picked for his looks and his main job would require being oily with the public. Or at least the part of the public that could afford to eat at Adrian's. "Let me think about it, okay?"
Adrian ordered osso buco for both of them. "What's that?" Brody asked.
"Wait and see. I promise if you don't like it, we'll send it back and get you something else."
The meal went smoothly and Brody enjoyed the food, the ambiance, and his suave, handsome host. The only problem was that he felt seriously underdressed. Most of the men were wearing dark suits, and he somehow felt like a kid dressed up for church in his blazer and flannels. He supposed that if he was going to continue to go out with Adrian he'd have to buy more clothes, but the budget was stretched enough already, so he didn't know how he'd manage that.
As they ate and chatted, Brody managed to forget his worry that he'd be bored out of his skull at the ballet. He feasted not only on the food but on the sight of Adrian across the table from him. He couldn't wait to get back to Higgins and get into the sack. As he looked at Adrian, he searched for words he'd read but seldom used, words like "aristocratic" and "patrician." The eyes and the smile, though, were pure sex. He had to concentrate on the delectable veal and what they were talking about in order not to get an erection.
The waiter had just taken their dessert orders when a tall, thin, distinguished looking man with wavy gray hair came up to their table. He was wearing a tuxedo, but he obviously wasn't a waiter.
"Hello, boss," he said, smiling at Adrian. "I hope everything has been satisfactory."
Adrian stood, so Brody did, too.
"Everything has been up to your usual standards, Henry, thank you. I want you to meet my friend, Brody Cox. Brody, Henry is in charge here at Synthesis."
Brody and Henry shook hands, exchanging the usual greetings.
"I hear you gentlemen are off to the ballet. Are you a ballet fan, Mr. Cox?"
"Call me Brody, please. And you'd have to say I'm a fresh recruit. I've never been to a ballet before."
Henry smiled and said, "Well, I hope you both enjoy it."
Both men thanked him and sat down. By then the waiter was back with their desserts.
"So how often do you put in an appearance here?"
"Oh, every other week or so. I trust Hank completely. He's always done a great job. I just come by occasionally to offer words of encouragement."
Brody grinned. "Or keep the troops on their toes?"
Adrian grinned and nodded. "Yes, that, too."
"Since this is your own restaurant, why don't you live in Detroit?"
"Live in Detroit? I don't think so. I'd much rather live in Colby. Detroit's not that far away for occasions like tonight. But the lifestyle in Colby is much nicer, particularly since it's a university town."
Brody leaned forward, grinned, and said, "Okay, I've got another question. Does everyone who works here have to be a sexy dude?"
"Bite your tongue! We also have some sexy women on the staff. Otherwise we'd be guilty of discrimination."
"You're still guilty of discriminating against people who aren't great-looking, aren't you?"
"Shh! Yes, but don't let the word get around."
"Okay, another question. Are all your staffers gay?"
"No, alas! But obviously to be comfortable working here they have to be gay-friendly."
As they were leaving the restaurant their waiter, the maitre d' and the parking valet all wished them a good evening and said they hoped they'd enjoy the ballet.
It was a short drive to the performance venue where again Adrian turned his Jaguar over to a valet. Brody was stunned to find that they had seats in a box. They shared it with four other men, all in dark suits. Expensive dark suits, Brody guessed. Adrian introduced them as friends of his. It turned out that they were two couples. Brody was fascinated to watch the interaction between them. Both sets of partners acted a lot like married couples. He could tell by the glances, the little touches, the occasional smiles that these men lived together, lived happily together from all appearances. He realized then that when he found the right man, that's what he wanted. One man to live with for the rest of their lives. But he was young, just starting to college. Domesticity could wait. He didn't know whether he'd ever want to live with Adrian, but he couldn't wait to get back to Colby and fuck him.
Brody enjoyed the ballet more than he had expected to. The first thing on the program was a few scenes from "The Corsair," a story about a pirate. It was an excellent showpiece for the company's principal male dancer. Brody was intrigued by the guy's costume, which showed off his rear and his package beautifully. The role of the pirate gave him a chance to show off his skills, too, including an amazing ability to do various kinds of leaps, all of which had names which Adrian whispered to him but which he promptly forgot. Feeling Adrian's breath in his ear caused his memory to malfunction.
The second item on the program was "Rodeo," which Brody liked even better. The music sounded a lot like square dancing and cowboy music, something he could relate to better than the classical sounding stuff in "The Corsair."
At intermission the other two couples left the box. Brody, who'd noticed they were selling wine in the lobby, offered to get some.
"No, baby," Adrian said. "That's plonk. We don't want any of that."
"Let's just say it's undrinkable wine. If you want some decent wine when we get home, I'll be happy to open something."
"Is that an invitation to spend the night, sexy?"
"Of course. I plan to have my wicked way with you again."
"Well, I'll probably pass on the wine. I've got an idea of something else I'd like to have in my mouth."
Just then one of the other couples came back. One of the men was a redhead who reminded Brody of the stereotypical gay man, a type that he saw often at Nelly's. You could tell by the way he talked he was gay. His voice slid up and down the scale the way many women's do. `No straight man would talk that way,' Brody thought. But the sissy one and his partner seemed to be good-natured, pleasant guys, and Brody enjoyed listening to them comparing notes with Adrian on the performance so far.
After the intermission the company did selections from "Swan Lake." Adrian grumbled that they were doing such a warhorse, but the others shushed him and said they saw so little good ballet in Detroit they should be glad for whatever they could get. Brody thought the male dancers might as well be naked. The way the tights seemed to sink into the cleft of their butts was incredibly sexy. And again he was impressed by the strength and athletic prowess of all the dancers, especially the men.
As they drove home, he felt a pleasant glow. He'd seen a side of life he was unfamiliar with, and he thought he might like more. His head leaning back against the headrest, he said, "Thanks, Adrian. This has been a great evening. The dinner was incredible. And I have to admit I enjoyed the ballet a lot more than I thought I would. I'd always thought of male ballet dancers as gay, which they may be, but I'd also thought of them as more, well, more like fairies. But they aren't, are they?"
Adrian chuckled. "Oh, some of them are definitely fairies, but I know what you mean. They're guys who have to be in great shape, they're strong, and incredibly self-disciplined."
"Yeah, that's what I was trying to say."
It was a little after midnight as they came to the outskirts of Colby. Adrian said, "I'll take you home in the morning if you'll stay with me tonight."
"That'd be great if you're sure you don't mind."
"I'm exhilarated by the evening, not sleepy at all. Let's have something to drink and mellow out a little before we go to bed."
"Your call, stud."
When they got home, Adrian took off his suit jacket and tie and invited Brody to remove his blazer and tie. "How about a cognac instead of wine?"
"I don't think I've ever had cognac before but I'm game for anything."
Brody had seen people drinking from snifters in movies, but he'd never actually drunk from one.
"Why the big glasses?"
"Oh, it's mostly just because they look so impressive, but they're called snifters because you're supposed to swirl the liquid around in the bottom and then sniff to appreciate the aroma. Like this." Adrian demonstrated.
Brody imitated his host. When he took a swallow, he coughed. "Wow. That's kind of like whiskey, isn't it?"
Adrian laughed. "Not really, though I know what you mean. It does have more alcohol than beer or wine. But it's really pretty smooth if you sip it."
Brody grinned. "Yeah, yeah, you're just trying to get me drunk so you can have your way with me. But I've got a secret for you, sexy. You can have your way with me any time you want."
"I'm going to in a few minutes. But let's enjoy the cognac first."
They talked about their evening. Brody asked Adrian to tell him more about the two couples who'd been in their box at the ballet. Adrian complied, giving lengthy and sometimes hilarious character analyses of each of the four men. When he'd finished Brody stifled a yawn.
"Okay, looks like I need to put you to bed."
"I've been looking forward to that all day."
Brody used the bathroom first and was first in bed. He watched Adrian walk naked from the bathroom towards him. He was breathtaking. He walked gracefully, his model's body perfect, his dick and balls swinging tantalizingly between his long legs. Brody's breath caught when Adrian stopped and swept his gaze from Brody's head to his feet and back up, halting at his erect penis.
"Oh, my baby Marine, you are so beautiful!"
Brody held out his arms. Adrian lay on top of Brody, who wrapped his arms around him. They began to kiss, gently, teasingly at first, and then with increasing fervor. Brody realized that as a relative novice when it came to kissing another man, he'd been missing out on something fantastic. He joined enthusiastically in the tongue wrestling, attempting to get his tongue in Adrian's mouth when in fact Adrian's tongue was already firmly established inside his own.
As they kissed, their penises joined the competition. Adrian began gently humping Brody, who humped back. By then their precum was making things slippery down there. Brody hadn't realized that could be so fine. But soon he felt as if he was going to come. Adrian must have sensed what was happening, so he quit rubbing his dick against Brody. He stopped frenching him and instead began planting the lightest of kisses on his eyelids, his forehead, his cheeks, the tip of his nose. When their breathing and heart rates slowed a little, he returned to Brody's mouth and began humping again.
They kept up the frottage, pulling back when they got too close. Finally, however, Brody couldn't control himself any longer and began to erupt.
"Thar she blows!" Adrian said. He began to pump his cock against Brody's now very slippery stomach, and soon he was adding his load to the mess.
Both men were spent, Adrian still on top of the younger man. After a brief cooling-off period, they kissed again, this time more gently.
Then: "Okay, hit the shower. I'm going to change these sheets while you're in there."
"Nope. We'll change the sheets, and then we can shower together."
"Oh, I like the sound of that."
So that's what they did.
Later, as he drifted off to sleep, Brody thought, `That was amazing. I'd never have thought that would be a great way to get off. But in the morning I'm gonna fuck him."
Even though it had been after 2:00 when they went to sleep, Brody woke at 6:00. In the Marines he'd been used to getting up at 5:30 after a few hours of sleep. He rolled over to cuddle closer to Adrian, only to find himself in an empty bed.
He got up, peed, and, following his nose, wandered naked into the kitchen. Adrian, wearing a maroon silk dressing gown, said, "There's a robe in the bathroom I left out for you."
"Oh, sorry, I guess I didn't see it."
"Well, hunk, you can stay naked if you want. In fact, I'd enjoy that. But I've got an omelet almost ready, so if you're going to cover up, go grab that robe."
"Aww, no foolin' around this morning?"
"Sorry, sweetie, but I've got to get you home and be back here for church. Gotta be there early today. Just remembered I'm reading at the 8:00 service."
Brody went to the bathroom, where he found and put on a snowy white terry robe with a large "A.L." embroidered on the chest in maroon. He put it on and returned to the kitchen.
So, they had omelet, Canadian bacon, English muffins with Cooper's Oxford Marmalade, and coffee. As he ate, Brody thought, `Man, I could get used to this.'
Thanks, as always, to Drew and Mickey for their encouragement and editorial assistance.
If you'd like to email me about this story, please do at firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to put the name of the story in the subject line so I'll know it isn't spam. Thanks. --Tim