Jack Scribe


The motorized whir of the vacuum droned on as Cray cleaned the carpets in the reception area of the Executive Office suite. He was in deep thought about the Chinese dinner coming up the next evening and this concentration masked the sound of someone behind him. A tap on his shoulder made him jump. He quickly spun around to see the grinning face of Lou Gallian in front of him. "You scared the beejesus out of me." Cray smiled and switched off the vacuum.

"Didn't mean to startle you from your thoughts as you performed these arduous tasks," Lou said with a laugh.

"Okay, I admit I was daydreaming...this isn't exactly rocket science." Cray shrugged and added, "But it helps give me a little extra 'jing' for spending money."

"Understand the concept. I've been meaning to contact you but Spike said you've had a busy couple of weeks on the home front. Congratulations, by the way. That's quite an interesting family you guys have created." He grabbed Cray's hand and shook it. "I'd give you a big hug but, since I'm a management trainee, it would probably be considered sexual harassment."

"Wouldn't want that." Cray grinned wider and thought, 'Bullshit. If I was a little older and wasn't dating my buddy, a little harassment would be hot.' "I knew you were back in town but...yeah, this whole foster thing is a trip. Turned out well, though."

"Your dads are the best and I'm really happy for you. Since we're kinda related now, with Bob's sister being married to my Cousin Al, I'll put your name on my official Christmas card list."

"Bonus points for being Bob and Drew's kid." Cray knew it was a joke but felt good that he was thought of as part of a larger family. "You're looking pretty sharp for a Friday night. Must have a hot date?" He admired the way Lou appeared in his impeccably tailored dark suit, white shirt and striped tie. Spike had told him that the two were becoming close friends. 'Wonder if they're going out tonight?'

"Wish it was that easy. I'm off to pick up my folks and the Bromleys at the Executive Air Terminal. Mom and Dad have been in Beverly Hills the last couple of days and everyone's coming over here a little early to check things out before the official opening on Monday."

"Cool. From what Drew says, the casino and hotel are getting up to speed. But he didn't mention anything about your family staying here this weekend." Cray was a little puzzled because he was sure the arrival of the owners - officially, only Mr. Bromley's name was ever used as the 'owner' - would have been mentioned at home. 'Drew would be in overdrive,' he thought, 'to create the best experience possible.'

"Just found out about it a few minutes ago. Dad and Uncle Al got a wild hair up their ass on the 17th green at the Bel-Air Country Club and decided to come over for the weekend. The plan is to do a walk-through with Uncle Nick tomorrow. Everyone's staying over at the Four Seasons, though, in the suite I've been using. Vegas is totally booked for a big fight over at the MGM so I'm moving here for the weekend. Being the good son and all that."

"I'm sure Mr. Maggiano is looking forward to this early arrival." Cray rolled his eyes to indicate he was 'pulling his chain'. He was pretty sure having the owners around the weekend before the opening would not be welcome news for Nick. "Seriously, their arrival's goin' to cause a lot of nervousness." Cray understood that the Gallian family wished to be very low-key concerning their involvement in the casino resort and he respected their wishes. He was one of the few who knew about this relationship...but not the reasons why. 'Probably Lou just doesn't want to flaunt his wealth and connections?' Cray guessed.

"Your assumptions concerning the visit are correct, Sherlock. That's why I'm in this office - to offer a peace pipe. Then I need to track down Drew so he doesn't have kittens. Dad wanted me to assure Uncle Nick that he and Uncle Al will stay out of his hair. The family's having dinner tonight at the Four Seasons and I'm going to invite him...if he can get away. They'll officially make an appearance on Monday morning and then 'get outta Dodge'. Personally, I think this large project got the best of their curiosity and they decided to play a little this weekend and experience their investment."

"Certainly understandable." Cray couldn't even begin to calculate what this place must have cost. "You'll be with your family all weekend?"

"No. They're going to play tourists and I'm working during the day. And tomorrow night I'm taking Spike to a test dinner at La Ribera. I understand we've got a chef from Spain who's creating some dynamite, five-star Catalonian cuisine. Don't know too much about that area of the world but I'm game. And you know Spike; he'll eat almost anything."

"Cool, like Mikey. I was allowed to invite my buddies and we're trying the Chinese place, Wang's, for the early seating. There's going to be six of us."

"Would one these guys be your new boy friend?" Lou asked with a conspiratorial grin. "Spike said you had met someone at school."

"Michael. We're...tight, but not out. At least he isn't. Out, I mean. Not yet, anyway. I decided to be upfront when I told the guys about my new foster parents being two men. By and large, everyone's been okay with me being gay. Even the one who gave me a little grief is coming around. I'm giving Michael space to get comfortable with our relationship before he, you know..."

"Yes, I do know. I'm proud of you, Cray. I didn't have the cahones to do that 'til I was out of boarding school. Giving your buddy that 'space' is very important." Lou looked at his watch and said, "I gotta run - first to smooth down Uncle Nick's ruffled feathers and then to the airport. Why don't Spike and I say 'hi' to your crew tomorrow night before we go to our dinner?"

"That'd be great and you can meet Michael. Plus, I haven't seen Spike since I moved out...although we talk on the phone all the time."

"We're doing a late seating so expect us to stop by around the time you're finishing. Um, it would be easiest if you just said we know each other from working together at the hotel."

"And that Spike was a neighbor of mine at my first home. He's not working tomorrow night?" Cray frowned a little as he thought about his good friend's 'job'. "I mean it's none of my business or anything but..."

"I hear ya. That's one of the topics for dinner. I want him to hang 'em up...permanently...and I've got some ideas to help persuade the guy."

"Good luck on that. Spike knows how I feel on the subject." Cray decided not to go further in that Lou seemed to be likeminded. He wasn't going to mention the attack Spike's co-worker, Brad, had suffered the previous month.

"How did you get so wise so young?" Lou smiled and tilted his head. "Fuck Human Resources," he said as he pulled Cray into a tight hug, 'we are cousins...kinda. See you at Wang's." They separated and Lou winked as he walked away.


The driver, not much older than the passengers, was assigned a Lexus GX470 - one of five from the Barcelona fleet - to handle the crowd of active teenage guys. The optional third row of seats would give the crew enough room for comfortable travel to the hotel. Drew had told Cray that he approved the leasing of these large vehicles because some VIP guests preferred being picked up at the airport and driven around town in an unmarked SUV rather than use the Barcelona logo-emblazoned limousines. Another touch by Drew was to dress the SUV drivers in Polo shirts and slacks rather than more formal black suits for drivers assigned to limousines.

Except for Michael, Cray hadn't been to the others' homes nor met the parents. Drew wisely suggested they start the pickup process earlier than originally planned. He thought Cray would be expected to greet each of the parents at the front door of the house in order to satisfy their curiosity about the 'new kid'. Especially when it was someone who could swing reservations for a large group on this highly publicized evening. It was general knowledge that the night's final test dining at the Barcelona restaurants was the hottest ticket in town: only local society, politicians, VIPs and friends of the owners were invited. Drew said that, in any case, parents would be anxious to meet a new friend of their sons. Cray savored the nurturing and absorbed the patient teaching his new parents provided. He was determined to make a 'go of it' the second time around. That his 'dads' were more like older brothers was beside the point.

Predictably, he was invited into each home to meet the family. And each of the young men wore long pants, shirts and leather shoes - like Cray. He figured parent networking had probably decided the evening's dress code. 'Just one of those growing up experiences and I need to go with the flow,' he thought. 'Except for jeans, I've never seen the guys in anything other than cargo shorts and tees.'  On the way to the hotel, one of the guys joked that the only time he dressed this formally was to go to church. That joke seemed to relax everyone...although, in a way, Cray thought a casino in Vegas was like a church in a twisted way.

When they arrived at the sparkling, landscaped front entrance of Barcelona, a female concierge met the SUV and greeted each guy individually before escorting the party through the lobby, casino and finally into the restaurant. Cray knew this was an important evening for Nick: the local movers and shakers needed to be appropriately impressed for the 'word of mouth' momentum which would take on a life of its own by the next day. This expensively produced evening was designed to earn its weight in positive reactions. He was secretly amused and satisfied that his friends communicated in a series of "ohhh", "ahhh", "look at that," and "oh, my god," as they walked through the resort lobbies on acres of marble, imported tile and plush carpeting. Mounted on the upholstered walls was a serious collection of art that included Picasso, Dali and Miro. The teens became respectfully quiet when they passed through a domed garden that featured several large Eduardo Chillida sculptures.

At the front of Wang's, Drew unexpectedly was on hand to greet the crew. Cray was beaming with pride as he introduced his foster dad. Drew spent a few minutes to relieve everyone's nervousness and had all of them at ease before the maitre d' arrived to guide the party to the round table in the center of the room. Cray held back for a moment, took Drew's hand and mouthed, "thanks," before he scurried to catch up with his friends. He was pleased Michael had saved a seat next to him.

After hot towels were presented and green tea served, the maitre d' returned to announce he had taken the liberty of allowing the chef to create their dinner and bowed. Over the next hour and a half, courses of superbly prepared food kept arriving on 'family-sized' platters and were placed on a large, revolving 'lazy Susan' in the center of the table. By the time dessert and fortune cookies were served, each teen admitted he was full.

"Hey, Cray. I understand you and your friends have cleaned out the kitchen," Lou said as he and Spike walked up to the table.

"Hi, guys." Cray stood up and shook their hands. "Fellas, let me introduce a guy I work with at the hotel, Lou Gallian. The other man is Spike Jensen. He was a neighbor of mine at the other place where I lived and attends UNLV." He thought the two men looked like they had just stepped out of one of those men's fashion magazines. Both wore versions of jackets, open shirts and slacks. 'What a great looking couple,' he judged. 'If my buddies only knew.'

"Please don't get up," Lou said. "We're going to another restaurant in the hotel and just wanted to meet Cray's friends."

Almost by design, each worked the table going the opposite way to say a few things to each guy. Spike had a more enthusiastic greeting for Michael and Lou did the same when it was his turn to meet Cray's boyfriend. By agreement, neither acknowledged that relationship.

"Cray, you've got some great friends." Lou looked at the table and added, "I've even got the promise from Benny that he'll make sure his dad gives me a good price on a new car at Boren Lexus...if I've got good credit," he said with a laugh. "Seriously, please tell your dad that I will call him next week and maybe we can make a deal."

"Oh, I will, Lou," Benny replied. "He'll give you a great deal based on invoice cost."

"That's good for a start," Lou replied with a grin and a raised eyebrow. "Okay, guys, Spike and I are due at La Ribera. Take care." He waved and the two men left the restaurant.

"Who are those guys again?" Tim asked. "I mean, besides Lou and Spike."

"They're more like Batman and Robin seeking out some hot gal to rescue from some evil character," Glenn said with a snicker. "If there's a Batmobile parked out front when we leave, I'm gonna shit my pants."

"Naw. Lou's in the hotel management trainee program and Spike's a student. We all met at a cookout a couple of months ago and have become friends." Cray had to internally laugh at the Batman and Robin comment. 'Lou does look a little like Christian Bale,' he judged, 'In a sexier way'.

"A management trainee who's going to buy a Lexus?" Benny asked. "They must pay pretty well, here."

"Like my eight bucks an hour?" Cray shrugged and added, "What's the big deal if he can get financing?" He stared at Benny and raised an eyebrow to indicate the direction of the conversation wasn't appreciated.

"I, for one, wanna thank Drew and you for a super evening," Michael said. "This is the best dinner I've ever had."

The rest of the guys chimed in and Cray was happy that the evening had been such a success. Although he had made solid friendships with the guys - even Benny - the dinner would offer a lot of mileage in further establishing him as one of the guys, acceptance of his recently revealed sexual orientation and a better understanding of his special foster family.  


"So that's Michael?" Lou said as he and Spike walked through the casino to La Ribera. "Our young friend certainly has good taste in his men."

"Nice guy. They discovered they shared an interest in Tai Chi and decided to find out more about each other." Spike turned and admired Lou. 'Wow,' he thought, 'how lucky am I that Lou insisted on us seeing each other as friends.'

"And as two horny teens with raging hormones, the rest came easy?"

"I don't think you have to be teens for the rest to come easy," Spike replied with a laugh.

"My unintentional pun of the day. Ouch."

"Sorry, I couldn't resist the opening you gave me. Michael and Cray are both pretty new to discovering what can be done with each other. However, from what Cray said the other day, I think he's ready for some 'big brother' advice on exploring variations of the 'dirty deed'. I respect them for being cautious about taking the big step."

"Something that I wasn't ready to do at their age. Oh, I see the restaurant entrance ahead. You hungry?"

"Famished. I didn't have much of a lunch." Spike didn't add that he had already serviced one client for a couple of hours at Caesars Palace in one of their suites and hadn't had a chance to eat. "Hey, this looks impressive," he said as they arrived at the entrance of La Ribera. It was themed in a Barcelona, 17th century 'old town' look, inside and out. In addition to a comfortable, rustic dining room, there was outside seating in a terrace situated by a manmade water feature that replicated a Mediterranean harbor.

"Ah, Mr. Gallian. Good evening," greeted the maitre d'. "You're just in time. I have been saving a booth for you and your guest."

"Octavio, thank you. This is a good friend, Spike Jensen."

"Welcome, Mr. Jensen. Please follow me." Octavio smiled with a slightly quizzical expression.

Spike nodded and gestured for Lou to go ahead. He knew Octavio recognized his face but couldn't immediately place him. 'Octavio used to be the maitre d' at the Italian restaurant in The Venetian,' he remembered. More than a couple of his clients had taken him there over the past couple of years. 'He'll eventually remember but be a complete gentleman and not mention it.'

"This is great. Thank you." Lou slipped some folded money in Octavio's hand and nodded as he entered the booth from the left side. Octavio nodded slightly with a smile, set down the menus and left the table as Spike slid into the booth from the right.

"What a great table." Spike looked around and recognized the mayor at a center table and a casino owner in the next booth. He smiled as a waiter brought two champagne flutes and placed them to the right of their place settings. 'And romantic, too,' he decided, as the waiter presented a bottle of Cristal for Lou's inspection.

"Just pour, please. I trust Madame Roederer will not let us down," Lou said with a nod. He turned to Spike and said, "If you suspect that I'm plotting to have my way with you later...let's just say that I want to give you a very personal tour of the hotel rooms."

"Damn...I was plotting the same thing." Spike smiled and watched the waiter pour the champagne into the two slim, crystal flutes. He thought the waiter cracked a slight smile before placing the bottle in a silver bucket and walking away. "Here's to a terrific evening," he said as he hoisted his glass and held it, waiting for Lou to do the same.

"It's always terrific when it's with you." Lou gently clinked the edge of his glass on Spike's and added, "To us."

"Absolutely." Spike took a sip of the French bubbles and felt a slight tickling sensation as the liquid smoothly went down his throat. 'Definitely romantic,' he thought as he watched the handsome man to his right. 'Lou is pulling all the right strings.'

"Babe, let's order the food now and get that out of the way. I've got a lot I want to talk about." Lou reached over and took the menus. He handed one to Spike and opened his. "Just so you know, they're going to send over several tapas and all we have to do is choose the main course. I've asked Octavio to select a couple of Spanish red wines to serve."

"The menu looks very tempting. Hmmm...I know what I'm going to have. The suckling pig is something you don't see very often. And I love 'suckling'," he said with a laugh.

"I'll do the leg of lamb, then." Lou took the menus and nodded for the waiter to return to the table.

As the men sipped the champagne, a series of tapas and cold meats arrived at their table. They randomly spoke about the generalities of their lives and specifically the excitement of the hotel opening. Spike was curious what Lou wanted to talk about but was patient. 'The night is young and I'm sure Lou has it planned,' he thought.

After the main courses were served and a 1995 Gran Reserva 904 - La Rioja Alta - was poured, Lou swirled the wine in his glass. He winked and lifted his large balloon glass. "Let's have a sip and discuss a few things."

Spike brought his glass to his lips and breathed in the robust bouquet as he took a small sip. "This is superb. I don't know much about Spanish wines but this is certainly on a level with anything I've tasted."

"And should pair nicely with our dinner." Lou set down his glass and cut into his beautifully arranged, pinkish leg of lamb. "I want to talk about us. What's happened in our lives, where we are now...and the direction for our future." He speared a bite of the lamb with his fork, slowly chewed it and chased it down with another sip of wine.

Spike decided to let Lou continue, doing so by eating a bite of his pork dish. A firm hand placed on his thigh under the camouflage of the tablecloth interrupted his thoughts. He turned and smiled at Lou.

"I love you, man. Pure and simple. I...I kinda hope you feel the same way because I'd like to figure out how we can move forward...together. How do you feel about this?"

"Um, this is the first time you've said that." Spike pondered this for a brief moment. "Are you sure? I mean you're this society guy from New York. Your mom and dad must have their own ideas about who their son should know?" Spike decided to hedge his bets and play a little coy. Loving Lou was something he already realized but hadn't had the balls to bring up.

"I do know. But you haven't answered my question," Lou replied with a gentle firmness.

"Jeez, you really are going for it, aren't you?" Spike knew he had special feelings for the guy but had suppressed them for several obvious reasons; but this wasn't the time to hold back. "Okay, here goes. I think that I'm falling in love with you. No, fuck's time to be completely honest. I fell for you when we first met and...yeah, babe, I love you, too." There, he said it. 'Christ, I feel like Julia Roberts to Lou's Richard Gere in Pretty Woman,' he thought. He let out an audible sigh as he realized what they had both just revealed.

"In love enough to quit your 'job' and live with me?" Lou squeezed Spike's leg harder and took another sip of wine. "I've bought a furnished condo and plan on moving in at the end of the month. We could set up house and make little babies."

"I think I need to run over to Barnes and Noble and get you some biology books cuz neither of us is going to get pregnant," Spike replied with a laugh. "But damned if we haven't tried hard." He smiled remembering at the way they took turns, depending on the mood, pitching and catching. Suddenly, it registered what Lou was asking him to do - quit his escort work. 'I'm going to let this slide for a few minutes,' he decided, 'until he plays out all his cards.'

"Then I'd settle for setting up house."

"How'd you happen to find a condo that's furnished so fast?" Spike was curious as to why he hadn't heard about this sooner.

"Vegas real estate has become a buyers' market. The bank just took a 'repo' on a condo at the Mondrain Towers - those tall buildings near the Barcelona - from a guy who had spent a lot of bucks decorating in a traditional décor that I've always liked and the floor is high enough to have a decent view of the Strip. It's not exactly a picket-fence bungalow but my dad insists I find something with tight security and a front door attendant. The guy who fixed up the place must be gay because it's very tasteful."

"Tasteful and gay are synonymous. Well, maybe except for Sigfried. But he is taking care of his old partner, I shouldn't be snippy." Spike tossed away a joke to give him time to think about what he had just been asked.

"Be kind. That's the way it's suppose to work." Lou paused for a moment. "Anyway, he lost his job at some high-tech company and couldn't find another position in town. The bank manager called me earlier this week and I inspected it. I was able to buy the condo at a fair deal and got the furniture thrown in on a low-ball offer to the previous owner. Poor guy was really desperate but he seemed happy that I could pay cash. It'll need some art, new TVs and a sound system for openers. Anything you don't like, we can scrap it and find something that appeals to both of us."

"Sounds like a combination of timing and good luck."

"Timing is everything in a deal and I needed a place to live. Then I started thinking about us and how much I enjoy being around you...all the time. Pow, I knew it was love. I then looked to Bob and Drew for inspiration of how two guys could live together in a relationship. They've got something good going and I think we could do the same. Whaduya think about 'them apples'? "

"That you're forgetting one big thing. In another year, you're off to Wharton and I'd be the grieving widow." Spike put up his hand as Lou began to reply. "Hear me out. I do love you but I've got to put it out of my head because I need some kind of permanency and you'll be gone this time next year. Where would that leave me?"

"I've already thought about that and I've got some plans to discuss with Dad that entails me working in Vegas an extra year - to get more experience. Makes sense to me and all I have to do is get the family to buy off on it. You'll get your degree from UNLV next year and I could help you plan on a career. I would be asking something from you, however. You would have to give up what you do on the side."

"Lets talk about that. I've been seriously thinking about retiring sometime next year. I figure by then I'll have enough to get a condo, have more money to invest and continue my education. I want to go for an MBA at UNLV."

"A good looking guy with grey matter...I'm impressed. That you've worked out financial goals is admirable. What I'm proposing just means your 'retiring' on an earlier schedule."

"My folks, Lou, are your basic middle-class San Fernando Valley residents who will probably be set up to modestly retire in twenty years or so. They've helped me out on college and my younger brother is next. I sorta promised that I'd take care of his extra college costs when he's ready in a couple of years so they can save more money."

"If I promise to stay in Vegas - maybe I should also take some classes in the Hospitality school program - and if we can figure out a way for you to meet your goals while quitting your present job, is there a chance?" Lou looked into Spike's eyes with a pleading expression. "I'll get on my knees and beg if I have to," he added with a chuckle.

"Oh, a man on his knees and it's just to beg?" Spike joined the laughter before he placed his hand on top of Lou's hand. It hadn't moved from Spike's thigh since they started their conversation. "Seriously, let's talk about the 'ifs'. Admitting I love you is no 'if' by the way. It just took you to kick me in the 'keister' to say it. You mentioned Bob and Drew. I'd like to experience what they have but let's face it...most guys are not too monogamous or into serious coupling. Forget what I've been doing to earn money. I've always wanted a long-term relationship with someone I really love. I wouldn't stray and would expect the same from my partner."

"I feel the same and what you just said makes me very happy. If the mayor and his party weren't sitting in front of us, I'd give you a big, wet, slobbery kiss. But we better wait until later." Lou turned on a goofy grin and continued, "First, I was planning on putting the condo in both our names. Legally, it'll be half yours. Second, I could set you up with a legit part-time position here at the hotel. I don't mind going out on the limb for you because I know you'd do great. Since the casino resort business is going to be a big part of my professional life, it might be an interesting idea for you to look at this industry for a long-term career. It could be in marketing, operations or finance. Does this make sense?" Lou sat back and took another sip of wine.

"Makes a lot of sense. Except that what you're suggesting is just another form of what I've been doing." Spike paused a moment to let this statement marinate. "Lou, it would make me feel more like a kept man...regardless of what you call it. I realize that it's difficult for you to understand. Life, money-wise, has always been pretty easy for you. If we were to get together, I'd want to handle things on an equal basis as much as possible. That's the deal breaker."

"I get your point and apologize for making this appear like I'm trying to buy you. I'm not. I guess being rich - well, my dad is - allows me to take material things for granted. Trust me, babe...I don't take you for granted." Lou looked at Spike with a quiet pleading.

"As long as you understand this would be a two-way partnership."

"Your independence is part of what makes you so wonderful." Lou looked deeply into Spike's eyes and took a deep breath. "How about this. Since I'm getting a place anyway, you could move in and help pay the utility bills...something like that. Working at the hotel gives you access to the staff cafeteria for food. And as far as a job here is concerned, it would be yours to lose if you fucked up. Would this get things on a semi-level playing field?"

"That would work. Babe, you understand why I want to enter into a relationship with these perimeters? I need to be able to look at myself while shaving. I need to be able to say 'no', if we have a disagreement and then work things out to our mutual satisfaction." Spike realized that Lou would probably insist on taking care of other expenses and buy a few gifts from time to time. 'It'll be some sort of game we'll play,' he considered 'But I gotta make this stand so he understands that I can't be bought and paid for.'

"I don't think you're driving a hard bargain, so I agree to your terms. Why don't we shake on this like gentlemen? I, Louis Gallian humbly request you, Spike Jensen, to be my life partner. Sorry I don't have a ring but do you accept?" Lou furrowed his brow and patted his pockets.

"Hon, under those terms, ya got me 100 percent. The answer is...absofuckinglutely yes." Spike gripped Lou's hand firmly. "You have definitely swept me off my feet, Mr. Gallian. This is for real?" He looked back into Lou's eyes and felt tears welling. 'Shit, there goes the mascara,' he thought as he reached for his napkin. "See what you made me do?" he asked as he wiped his eyes.

"If those are happy tears, I'm right behind you." Lou twisted his hand around so he could clasp Spike's hand tightly.

"Um, just one thing. I've got some obligations over the next couple of weeks that my boss will find hard to handle without me." Spike took a deep breath and asked, "Is that okay? I can't leave Mario high and dry but I promise I won't take any more new assignments. I know all the clients and it's more about me being a social escort than anything else."

"Babe, I'm not thrilled by that, but I agree as long as you're retired by the time we move in. The only thing that I would suggest is that you not entertain anyone here at Barcelona."

"Trust me, that's not going to happen. The men are all 'whales' at other casinos and like their freebees." Spike took a sip of wine, looked at his uneaten food and said, "Um, would it be rude not to finish dinner? The only thing I'm interested in eating is not on a plate." Spike winked and moved their hands higher up to his crotch area.

"I'll go over to Octavio and just say you're not feeling too well and ask the waiter to clear the table. You don't mind being the fall guy, do you?"

"Do it now. I have a funny feeling that I will miraculously be cured by the time we get upstairs." Spike watched Lou walk over to the maitre d' stand and speak to Octavio. The maitre d' nodded and walked towards the kitchen and flagged down the waiter.

"Octavio sends his regards and hopes you'll soon be feeling better," Lou said as he slid back into the booth. He took out his wallet and set a couple of twenty-dollar bills by his plate. "Ready for the honeymoon suite? It's not really a suite but you get the idea."

"At this point, I would be very happy in a trailer park," Spike replied. "Well, maybe an RV." He winked and got out of the booth as Lou did the same. At the entrance to the restaurant, they both waved to Octavio and made their way back through the perfectly set up casino - void of gamblers - and strolled to the bank of guestroom elevators.

"As much as I would like to ravish you as we travel up to our floor, the cameras in the elevator would capture every carnal moment." When the elevator doors parted, Lou gestured for Spike to enter first.

"I can keep my composure for a few more moments. What I had in mind at the restaurant would definitely not have gone over with the mayor. And if I'm going to work in this joint... guess I'd better behave myself." Spike felt a surge of pride when he thought about starting a legitimate career at Barcelona.

The bell rang as they leveled at the 25th floor and Spike followed Lou to the room. Once inside the standard room with a king bed, each man toed off their shoes, and carefully slipped out of their jackets and pants. It was as if each was aware that they were beginning an honored mating ritual. After hanging up their clothes, Lou walked up and drew Spike to his chest. A series of butterfly kisses by Lou ended with a plunging tongue in Spike's willing mouth. They dueled, darted and explored - as they had done so many times - until Spike backed away and started unbuttoning Lou's shirt. This time it felt different.

After Lou's shirt was undone and placed on a chair, Spike stood in a quiet trance as he visually drank in the vision of masculine beauty before him. The darker skin accentuated the pale aureoles and pink nipples. A small patch of black chest hair trailed down the flat stomach, tufted around an 'innie' navel and disappeared at the waistband of his white CK's. Spike smiled at the ample mound of maleness covered by the cotton briefs definitely stirring from its flaccid state. He leaned down and licked each nipple as he traced the outline of Lou's swelling cock with his fingers.

"My turn," Lou whispered as he unbuttoned Spike's shirt and removed it. "Mmmm," he groaned. "I never get tired of looking at your perfect body."

"And it's never goin' to happen if I have anything to do about it." Spike was touched by the somewhat tired cliché but decided not to come back with a good-natured, smart-assed retort. 'Memo to self,' he thought, 'start going to the gym again. Gotta keep my man happy. Tammy Wynette...thank you.'

"Whatchu smiling about, hot stuff?"

"Just that what we're doing is so right. Once I was sure you meant what you said, I was yours...completely." He looked at Lou and mischievously licked his lips. "Let's loose the underwear and really get comfortable. It appears you gotta leak down there that needs attention." Spike looked at his lover's crotch and smiled at the large wet spot. It caused the mushroom-shaped glans to take on a translucent image as the moist material clung around the bulging tip of Lou's organ.

"Guess we won't need chocolates or maid turndown service tonight." Lou quickly removed his briefs and freed his struggling erection. He took the bedcovers and pulled them down to the foot of the bed. "Looks like you need some help, slowpoke."

"Sit down on the bed and you can give me all the help you want." Spike chuckled and pushed Lou back. While Lou regained his balance, Spike, still standing, positioned himself so his legs straddled Lou's knees. He took a deep breath when Lou pulled down his briefs and watched as he stepped out of them. Spike waited for the next phase of their first lovemaking as a couple. 'Yeah,' he thought, 'this is really neat. Not getting it off with some trick.' He closed his eyes and purred when he felt warm lips encircle his steel hard penis. His jaded soul was being renewed by the tender acts of mutual exploration. He could feel himself loosen up and knew Lou tasted his natural lubricant.

"Christ, you've made me a very happy man," Lou said after he uncoupled from Spike's erection. He ran his fingers through the blond, trimmed pubes in front of him and gently caressed the low-hanging balls. "How about joining me in bed and continuing this conversation?"

"Yessuh, Missah Butler," Spike replied in a Southern accent. "Ah do believe that this is the way Scarlett musta felt." He batted his eyelashes and pushed Lou down as he got into bed.

"Frankly, ah do give a damn...Scarlett. I want my Spike." Lou beamed and wrapped his arms around the taut torso of his bedmate. He ground his crotch into Spike's erection and went in for a deep kiss.

"You got him. Forever." Spike said breathlessly after Lou drew back. Spike winked and rotated his body around until each had a portion of dessert in their face on which to nibble and suckle. "You sure this isn't a dream?"

"It's for real, babe. For real." Lou took Spike's scrotum and gently laved it before taking one of the balls in his mouth. One hand attached itself to Spike's leaking, firm penis while the other found its way around to his perineum and anus.

When one finger started its ascent into Spike's chute, he moaned and relaxed his sphincter muscle. Except for Lou, not many others had ventured up there. Contrary to belief, most escorts at his level got sucked and fucked the client. But this was different. Very different. Except for the brief moment of levity, Spike knew tonight was about solemnly giving and seriously surrendering - each man's body to the other. But 'solemn and serious' didn't mean quiet. He understood that the natural animalistic instincts and orgasmic sounds were part of the time-honored drill of two lovers discovering the joys of a physical, sex-drenching commitment. 'This is serious shit,' he thought as Lou added another digit in his quest. 'Let the games begin. Tomorrow is the start of the "test of time".' He felt like an Olympian - Apollo to Lou's Hyacinthus.



A special acknowledgement to Drew for encouraging me to tell a better story through his edits and suggestions. And a big thanks to Brad for his patient proofreading and editing. Finally, a shout-out to Trab for the final tweaks to get the story 'just right.'

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