This multipart story is primarily about romance and relationships between men. Any reference to actual persons, living or dead, is only to enhance the fictional nature of the story and does not suggest a particular sexual orientation. If you are offended by graphic descriptions of homosexual sex, what the hell are you doing here? Bye, bye.
Special acknowledgements to Drew and Brad for providing diligent proofing and editing of the story.
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Chapter 7, Small World, Isn't It?
Kyle was definitely walking on a cloud not yet numbered when he arrived at his office cubicle to start the new week. The Capitol Police detail at the Rayburn building entrance and his fellow workers could observe a broad, shit-eating grin that announced to the world he was a very satisfied young man.
As requested, he called Phil over the weekend and gave his friend a brief rundown of how the evening went with Dex. He also confirmed that the two would be able to join Mac and Phil for dinner the next Saturday. Mac was making reservations through the President's office at the very popular Citronelle in Georgetown and the guys would be his guests to help celebrate his promotion...and new friendships.
"Baby steps is what I'd call it," Kyle said. He was with Phil for a Monday morning planning session. Outside Phil's office window a morning drizzle was welcoming the first day of May.
"Yeah, us too. We've got 8:00 p.m. reservations so why don't you two come over to my place for a cocktail around seven and we can all go in one car?"
"7:00 p.m., it is. But are you sure Mac is serious about being the host? I mean, Citronelle is pretty expensive," Kyle said with raised eyebrows.
"I think Mac got a nice raise in the promotion so don't worry about it."
"Okay, boss. I'll let you take the lead."
"Now let's talk about this week cuz you and I are going to be very busy. Mandy is meeting with the Congressional party leadership today - minus the minority leader - to make a bid for that slot," Phil said earnestly.
"And what about Peters? She's not going to go down without a fight." Kyle knew the feistiness of Congresswoman Catherine Peters, the current minority leader, from first hand experience.
"She'll have to be convinced that it's for the good of the party. Other than projecting a shrill wicked witch image from the left, the public doesn't remember much about her. Peters has been very ineffective in projecting clear ideas and the others know a change is needed. Cathy thinks that we should just sit back and watch the GOP implode this fall before the elections with the Iraq debacle. Mandy and the others know that's not going to happen. The White House and their guys on the Hill are a pretty wily bunch."
"Devious, if you ask me. You know they're going to trot out 9/11 again and Karl Rove will energize the fundamentalist base while our leaders keep shooting themselves in the foot with no ideas, empty rhetoric and finger pointing...playing right into the GOP's hands."
Therefore..." Phil smiled and nodded.
"And all roads lead to..."
"Mandy and her leadership in Congress," Phil interjected.
"What's DNC going to do?"
"The new party chairman is too busy throwing bombs for sound bites to entice national support. His only success has been to fire up the liberal far left. Our groundwork has been effective nurturing the middle ground...right out of Clinton's playbook. If the meeting goes as well as Mandy and Joyce expect, Peters will resign and our plan will be set in motion."
"Resign? How is that going to...?"
"...Has elderly parents who are demanding more of her time, etcetera. She'll paint this picture to save face and gain sympathy from her voters at home."
"Hmm. You still expect a party Congressional caucus to convene tomorrow?" Kyle was impressed at the detail with which this transfer of power was fueled.
"Yes, it's a done deal. Everyone agrees on speed and putting the proper spin on the election before our friends in the press have a chance to pick it apart is paramount and our job is to make it happen. Unless the train is derailed - and I can't imagine that happening - you and I will be planning a full-blown press conference tomorrow around 4:00 p.m."
"And then the rest of the week to arrange interviews, weekend shows and such?"
"Kyle, I do believe that you're getting the hang of this," Phil said with a chuckle. "Seriously, if Mandy is the new minority leader, you will become Deputy Press Secretary and we'll be looking for an assistant to help you. In fact, Joyce's staff will probably grow by a few more. She'll need a Deputy Chief of Staff to pull off what she has in mind."
"Where the hell are we going to squeeze everybody in?"
"Part of the perks. Congresswoman Amanda Burns, minority leader, will be getting larger offices to better conduct her affairs. You might even get an office with a window and a raise."
"Hot damn, I like the sound of that. If Dex and I get more involved, I could use some extra scratch to help buy a condo."
"Honeymoon cottage?" Phil grinned.
"Um, maybe. I've been thinking of looking around Adams Morgan or Dupont for a two-bedroom. We'll see what happens."
"What does Dex have to say about that?"
"As I said, baby steps. Nothing's been said yet and living across the street is very convenient. I figure that the way things are going, we might have a good feeling about getting something together by the end of summer."
"Hope it works out. In the meantime, we've got a lot on our plate between now and this weekend. Let's reconvene this afternoon after we get our marching orders from Mandy and Joyce. I have a good feeling about this move." Phil stood up, walked around to the front of the desk and put his hand on Kyle's shoulder. "Buddy, I couldn't be more pleased that you're working with me on this. It might get a little bloody and heavy but we're going to come out on top. I feel it."
"I feel it, too." Kyle stood and winked as he shook Phil's hand.
As the guys expected, the stars were aligned and by Tuesday afternoon a press conference was called on the Capitol steps. Congresswoman Amanda Burns was introduced to the press as the new minority leader and she graciously allowed Congresswoman Catherine Peters to tell the world why she decided to resign as minority leader and offer Mandy all of her help in the transition.
Separately, the Senate minority leader made a lukewarm statement of support and said he looked forward to sharing the party leadership with Congresswoman Burns. As the slippery Senator from Nevada put it...to define spirited plans of action to address the issues before the nation. On the other side of the aisle, The Speaker of the House and the majority leader spoke guardedly about working together with the new minority leader. In other words, it was just another day of political maneuvering.
By Saturday, Phil felt that the momentum of the week was successfully moving forward for his boss. There had been a lot of maneuvering behind the scenes with harsh words said in the privacy of offices and telephones. Even after the press conference, several congressmen and party leaders continued to jockey for position. But even the most jaded followers of Capitol politics concluded that Mandy was clearly in charge of the House leadership and her destiny.
He got out of the shower and shaved as the clock hit 5:30 p.m. Mac would be over in a half-hour to help Phil get ready for the other guests. 'Can't drink too much,' Phil told himself, 'because of the Sunday TV shows.' He would be accompanying Mandy to all the major interview programs and Kyle would be the advance man traveling ahead from studio to studio to coordinate Mandy's arrival.
He looked in his closet to select one of his suits. Dining at Citronelle was definitely a coat and tie evening. Phil smiled as he stepped into his new Oxxford dark-gray pinstripe suit pants. That, plus his cordovan slip-ons, white shirt and bold, red tie would be the right image for this palace of power in Georgetown. He knew that the new West Wing lawyer and the press secretary for the House minority leader would draw a few raised eyebrows and wag some tongues. 'Maybe a few tails, too,' he thought.
The doorbell rang just as he finished knotting the tie. Phil walked into the living room area and pushed the buzzer to release the security door in the lobby of his building. He turned on some soft classical music from WGMS-FM, opened the door and waited to greet Mac immediately upon his arrival. Phil felt goose bumps when he heard the elevator doors open. He walked out into the hallway to greet his guest.
"Hey, buddy, good to see ya," Mac said as he walked towards Phil. Mac's dark blue suit, light blue shirt and yellow tie only accentuated his blond, WASP features.
"Hey, yourself. Get in here so I can really greet you." Phil stood aside for Mac to enter the apartment. After the door was closed, he looked Mac in the eye, smiled and offered a warm, welcoming kiss.
"Mmmm, yum. I like," Mac said after he pulled back and looked at Phil. "And you're looking pretty terrific. A nice, good looking guy, who dresses and kisses well is a hot commodity."
"Gotta look sharp for my man from the White House." Phil kissed him again and asked, "Whatchu drinking?"
"Maybe some white wine? I've got a busy day tomorrow morning, working." Mac followed Phil to the kitchen and leaned on the counter.
"Well, I'm working tomorrow because of Mandy doing all the Sunday shows. What's your excuse?" Phil retrieved a bottle of chardonnay from the refrigerator and two wine glasses.
"No dark secrets. Going to work on some damage control. Our antique-collecting congressman from Southern California is giving us some real fits."
"Yeah, I read about Duke's penchant for finding opportunities to line his pocket. What was it, 2.5 mil just in antiques from that software firm?" Phil smiled wistfully as he poured the wine.
"All neatly stored in a warehouse. Plus the house, a boat...what a greedy hypocrite. Let's just say that he'll resign on Monday."
"And be frog-walked on Tuesday?" Phil grabbed the stem of his wine glass and raised it to Mac's glass. "Prost."
"Cheers." Mac nodded and took a sip. "Probably the feds will arrest him on Wednesday. At least his seat is safe from you guys."
"Big bucks North San Diego County? Unfortunately, you're correct." Phil walked over to the cabinet and took out some serving platters, dishes and bowls from the cabinet.
"Yeah, a solid seat. However, the party is really going to run a thorough investigation on the potential candidates that may fill the position. These bribes and graft - on both sides - don't speak well for our political system."
"Trust me, we know. I assure you that Mandy will be very firm on our side of the aisle. I think that the House Ethics Committee is going to have a busy fall. God know what else will come out of the woodwork by November."
"A few more turned worms?"
"I hear rumblings that a few more are just waiting to surface. But with the approval ratings for the House going south, both sides need to clean their laundry."
"On that, Phil, we can agree. Okay, enough of politics. What can I do to help?"
"If you would retrieve the cheeses from the fridge and tastefully arrange them on the platter, I'll get the nuts and a few other munchies."
"Tastefully? Yes, Sir. Just part of the gay gene pool," Mac said with a laugh.
"And I will tastefully fill the small bowls with some almonds and cashews. Why don't you take off your jacket and hang it up or lay it on the bed. Might as well get comfortable until Kyle and Dex get here."
"Will do. Now who's Dex Tate again? I mean I know that he's becoming close with Kyle...but I don't remember you mentioning much more than that." Mac removed his coat and started towards the bedroom.
"He was a junior lawyer at Abraham's old firm, Biggs and Dasch. Dex had the good timing and fortune to bail out and get another job. However, I don't quite remember Kyle mentioning what Dex is up to."
"Maybe he'll tell us over dinner. By the way, I heard that another one of Abraham's contributions turned up in Ralph Reed's campaign fund down in Georgia?"
"Yeah, and it effectively kills his bid for a political future. I'm not too sad about that development. The last thing we all need is a bible thumping, right wing and homophobic moralist to contend with. Although he is kinda cute," Mac said with a laugh.
"I've always thought that what Ralph really needs is a big one up his chute. Make a man of him."
"I can see the headlines, 'Family values lobbyist meets his maker' with a picture of Ralph and his legs flailing in the air as some big Falcon dude is drilling him."
"Helluva image. Moral majority, indeed." Phil turned the lighting to a lower level and gave Mac a light peck on the cheek.
While Phil and Mac were putting the finishing touches on getting ready for cocktails, Kyle and Dex arrived at the front door of Phil's apartment building.
"So, Mac is MacDonald Price, the new lawyer in the White House?" Dex felt a little nervous meeting someone in this stratum of the executive branch. 'Christ,' he thought, 'I'm still just an about-to-be ex-F.B.I. agent.'
"Mac is on the legal staff. Good career move but he's very junior...also a nice guy. You'll really like both Phil and him." Kyle looked at the building directory and pushed the button next to 'Tortello'. Within moments a buzz released the lock and Kyle opened the door. He gestured for Dex to enter and Kyle followed behind.
"Nice building," Dex said while he pushed the elevator button. The doors parted and the two men stepped into the paneled cubicle.
"It's the fourth floor, babe." Kyle leaned in and nibbled lightly at Dex's neck as Dex pushed the elevator floor button.
"How do I look? I always get a little wound up when I meet new people socially." Dex looked into Kyle's eyes and straightened his tie...again.
"Pretty hot," Kyle whispered with a smile. "You clean up well and project the image of the successful lawyer you are." A chime announced they had arrived at the fourth floor. Kyle stepped out first and offered his hand to Dex. "We're going to have a good time."
"I'll be fine. It's just I've never interacted closely with someone from the White House before." Dex took the lead and knocked on the door. Almost immediately, it opened and in the doorway stood a handsome man with dark features and a blazing smile.
"In that I know the other guy, you must be Dex? I'm Phil Tortello." Phil stood aside to allow his two other guests to enter the apartment. "Come on in. Hi, Kyle." He shook hands and led them to the living room area. "This is my friend, Mac. Go ahead and introduce yourselves while I get some drinks. White wine okay?"
Both said "yes" and walked over to Mac.
"Hey, Mac, good to see you. Meet my friend, Dexter Tate. Dex...this is Mac. MacDonald Price."
"Um, hi, Mac." Dex smiled and glanced down for a moment before he looked into Mac's eyes. During the brief body scan, Dex noticed 'the' ring on Mac's right ring finger. The same tiger's eye stone and gold setting. He offered his hand to shake and watched Mac subtly look at Dex's ring.
"Dex, it is indeed a pleasure. I have a feeling we're going to be good friends." Mac gripped Dex's hand and slowly shook it with firm pressure.
"Thanks, Mac. I appreciate that." Dex nodded and released Mac's hand as Phil returned with the glasses filled with wine.
"Guys, sit down and help yourself to some food. We aren't due at the restaurant until eight. If you don't mind, I need to borrow Kyle for five minutes of business concerning tomorrow's shows."
"Not a problem, Phil. I'm sure that Dex and I will have plenty to talk about," Mac replied with a confident smile.
"Great. Kyle and I will be in the bedroom just for a few minutes. Then I promise no shop talk for the rest of the evening." Phil patted Kyle on the back and led him down the hall.
"So, ah, Dex, seems like we have a few things in common besides both being lawyers? My number is 21056, by the way."
"21062. You beat me by a couple of weeks." Dex had been instructed to memorize the number that was engraved inside the ring band. "I think that my story will be more public. I've been hired by AOI to become a security associate. My official training starts at the end of the month."
"You must be good. I understand that AOI only takes the best. How does a lawyer from a lobbyist firm do that?" Mac took a sip of wine, leaned back and studied his new friend.
"Um, I was told to always be forthright with a member of the group. The lobbyist thing, Mac, is just part of a cover. I'm an F.B.I. agent - undercover - and was part of the task force that brought down Abraham and a few others. I'm wrapping things up at the Bureau this month before I go to Quantico for AOI training."
"Wow, I have respect for you, Dex. Obviously, my lips are sealed but I get the feeling that our paths are going to cross many times." Mac extended his hand to Dex. "As a matter of fact, I have an appointment next week with Jerry Sebastian on a job in California. It'll be great if we get together on a job down the road."
"Thanks, brother. I look forward to it." Dex took the offered hand and shook it, solemnly. He felt the metal of the two rings touch as if to accentuate a special bonding. They both heard the voices of Phil and Kyle at the same time.
"So, Dex, I'm the junior man on the President's legal team. It's all relatively new to me and I'm just feeling my way." Mac was effectively creating a diversion with the two press secretaries within earshot.
Phil and Kyle returned to the living room and for the next half-hour all traded quips and Beltway gossip. Each man sipped his glass of wine and departed at 7:40 p.m. for the restaurant.
The valet line was jammed as Phil's Jeep Cherokee arrived in front of Georgetown's Latham Hotel - the home of Citronelle. As the red SUV inched forward, Dex was amused at the gridlock of dark European and Japanese sedans, with an occasional Detroit luxury product peppered into the mix. When the four young men emerged from the understated vehicle, they projected an image of 'A' list achievers rather than two couples out on date night.
Once they approached the restaurant front desk, Mac gave his name and the maitre'd popped to attention. He graciously led the four men to a center table in the front dining room. As they were seated, Dex noticed that at the next table sat two senators and their wives. In the corner was the unmistakable image of the Chief Justice and his family.
"This will definitely be fodder for the Monday morning blogs," Phil said with a chuckle. He waved subtly at another table that was surrounded by three congressmen, two lobbyists and three beautiful young ladies. "There's going to be a lot of gossiping, Mac, about why we are dining together. The President's man and the minority House leader's press secretary will have the pundits guessing."
"Well, when in doubt, screw 'em. Guys, how about a bottle of champagne? Or, more precisely, sparkling wine from California. I'm not too fond of supporting the French while they backstab us."
"I'll drink to that," Dex added. "I love France and its history...but its government is in bed with some bad dudes."
Jacques, their animated, polite waiter, immediately brought four tulip glasses and a bottle of Schramsberg blanc de blancs to the table. Mac inspected the table and instructed Jacques to pour the guests first.
"Guys, here's a small toast to our little evening. To continued friendships." Mac placed his glass high in the center of the table and everyone responded to the toast.
The slight starchiness of Jacques evaporated shortly after he initially approached the table and greeted the guys in French. Dex smiled, and with a flawless accent, returned the salutation in French but suggested that the rest of the conversation continue in English. Dex winked at Mac and allowed the host to discuss the dinner.
"Dex, I didn't know you were that conversant in French," Kyle said quietly into Dex's ear.
"Babe, you were doing so well in the bedroom that night I didn't want to interrupt your naughty conversation, Monsieur." Dex chuckled and squeezed Kyle's leg under the linen-draped table. He noticed Mac and Phil intently speaking with Jacques.
"So, if I mentioned 'les relations sexuelles' you would..."
"Strip and be in your arms immediately," Dex whispered. "And then I..."
"Dex and Kyle, how about me ordering a double chateaubriand that they can serve everyone with their famous baby veggies? We could start with soft shell crabs and finish with a fantastic dessert."
"That would be super. I think medium-rare suits both of us," Dex replied in an upbeat manner. He turned to Kyle and got a nod and a wink.
"Great, Jacques, let's do that medium-rare for the table and I'll trust your judgment to select an appropriate white and red wine." Mac gave the menu to Jacques, turned to his guests and added, "I'm really happy that we could all get together."
Jacques was at the table for all the anticipated moments of service. Never was a wine glass empty, the tablecloth was always properly crumbed and the next course was positioned on the table with the appropriate utensil. Twice, the maitre d' approached the table during the evening to assure that everything was correct.
Over the next two hours the guys really loosened up and felt comfortable with each other. By the time the chocolate souffle with vanilla sauce was served, the four men knew that this would be a solid friendship. Throughout the evening, a few dinner guests made it a point to stop by on their way out to pass on a word of congratulation to the two, political young turks. Dex felt that it was a rite of passage for Mac and Phil. They had both moved into unspoken rarified, higher levels of the political pecking order.
After espresso and chocolate truffles, Mac suggested that they be off, due to a busy Sunday for Phil, Kyle and him.
"Err, Mac, can we help with the bill?" Dex asked with reticence.
"Absolutely not, my friend. This was to celebrate my new job and new relationships. It's a special night that I wanted to host. They've got my credit card number on file and I asked them to add the appropriate tips. When you get back and have successfully completed AOI training, perhaps you can host a small party?" Mac smiled and lightly swatted Dex on the shoulder. "Deal?"
"Definitely a deal. Maybe something more informal, though," Dex replied with a chuckle. He had given everyone the rundown on his new job and schedule. Dex was inwardly proud when Phil mentioned that everything he knew of AOI was very positive. And that they were Alpha brothers was another boost to his self-esteem.
"Dex gets back the end of June. How about us planning something on the 4th of July weekend? I've got a buddy who manages a gay-friendly hotel at Rehoboth Beach. While we can't get any discounts, I think he'll be able to find space for us," Kyle suggested.
"Even with every queen between Philly and D.C. converging on the beach that weekend?" Mac asked.
"My friend can pull some amazing strings. He'll come through."
Damn, buddy, I like your thinking. Mandy's going to have some down time back in Chicago and I don't have any commitments. How about you, Mac?"
"Works for me. There's no reason for me to go back to Texas and I know the White House will be shutting down. I'm in."
"Then I'll host a party at some gay gin mill in Rehoboth Beach," Dex volunteered with an exaggerated shrug.
"There are several neat restaurants over there and I'll ask my friend for suggestions. Guys, if you don't have any objection, Mr. Dexter Tate and Mr. Kyle Blakesfield will handle all the details. You will be in our hands from June 30th to July 4th. I figure we could go over to Rehoboth Beach Friday afternoon, have fun for a couple of days, return home on Monday and go to Wolf Trap for the 4th. I might need a little clout from your office, Mac, to get tickets at Wolf Trap for the concert and fireworks."
"I can handle that. Guys, this will be a wonderful weekend."
Shortly after 10:00 p.m., the friends, now closer, drove back to the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Phil dropped Kyle and Dex off in front of Kyle's building and continued to Mac's brownstone. Phil stopped the SUV and turned off the motor.
"Mac, as much as I'd like to come in, I need to call it a night. Tomorrow I'm going to need all my wits and energy." Phil put his arm around Mac and pulled him closer. The street was fairly deserted and the streetlight didn't create much illumination for the two men sitting behind the tinted glass. "I must admit that, with you in my arms, it's very tempting to throw caution to the wind and join you for a few minutes."
"Babe, I don't think that either of us want to just get our rocks off and run. If we're going to be intimate together, I want it for the entire night. I want to see you, touch you, taste you and explore your body." Mac leaned over and kissed Phil lightly on the cheek.
"I feel the same way. There's so much more I want to know about you...your little quirks, what really turns you on, what amuses you...what pisses you off," Phil added with a chuckle. He turned his head and moved closer until his lips were touching Mac's. They parted to allow Phil's tongue to invade. After an initial probing, Mac allowed his tongue to return the dual.
"Hmmm," Mac groaned and their tongues twirled. He reached down to Phil's crotch and confirmed that Phil was stimulated. The erection was straining against his pants. "Buddy, I think we'd best rain check this or you're going to have a dry cleaning expense," Mac said.
"If I'm not mistaken, we both have that problem." Phil looked into Mac's eyes and ran his hand along the outline of a very impressive erection. "And I gotta wear this suit tomorrow."
"Here's what I propose, Mr. Tortello. Why don't we part company so we're both ready to face our tasks tomorrow morning. Then you come back here in the afternoon. There's a good NBA playoff game from the West Coast to watch. I'll make some grub, we'll have a few beers and then go to bed early for extended fun and games. I really want to know you better."
"Although I'm horny as hell, I like your thinking. If you think you can get out of the car with that massive club in your crotch, I'll say good night and see ya tomorrow."
"I think I can manage," Mac said with a chortle.
"Seriously, bud, I really enjoyed this evening. In fact, I enjoy every moment we're together. Thanks for dinner."
"Ditto. I'm finding out you're a helluva guy and I can't wait for your sorry ass to return." Mac gave Phil a hard kiss before getting out of the SUV. Before he closed the door, he added, "See ya around four."
Phil watched Mac walk up to his front door and open it. Before he stepped inside, he turned and waved at Phil.
Phil took a deep breath, analyzed the past few moments and eased away from the curb. "This is definitely moving in the right direction," he said to himself as he merged into traffic.
TO BE CONTINUED