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 9, Summer in the City
"So Dex is in Europe?" Phil asked. He was working with Kyle to finish a few press releases and firm up an interview with Newsweek. Mandy was going to be their cover story for the next issue.
"They're based at AOI's facility outside Strasbourg. He was pretty impressed with the training and the AOI people over there. And apparently his command of the French language didn't go unnoticed. Dex should be back in the States by Friday to finish up next week."
"And then our excursion to the beach?"
"Rehoboth, here we come. Is Mac ready for the break from this political squirrel cage for a few days?"
"More than ready. His job in the White House is more intense than he realized." Phil looked thoughtfully at Kyle and took another sip of coffee.
"I would think that the legal department would be pretty routine? You've got all that grand jury crap but private counsel are primarily involved, as I understand it."
"Apparently there's almost a siege mentality that Mac's getting sucked into. The war, as you're aware, has become a real hot potato that is affecting the way the President is leading. The American people are getting fed up with all the civil unrest in Iraq and are finally coming around to our position...big time. Zogby's polling confirms that most people have made up their minds that the war overall has not been worth the loss of American lives. The White House knows they're in deep shit for the mid-term elections."
"Our side, except for Mandy, hasn't exactly been aggressive in seizing this opportunity. The Senate leadership is about as exciting as watching paint dry and the new party chairman comes off as a loony, lefty extremist."
"Makes the old chairman look like a saint," Phil replied, shaking his head.
"A saint with his hand caught in the cookie jar. I guess the only competition right now is Hillary as she re-makes herself."
"Word on the street is that Barack Obama may be coming on strong this fall," Phil replied. "He has a book coming out and will be getting some major face time."
'Wow, our senator from Hyde Park making a run. He would be an attractive candidate."
"And that, Kyle, is what's going to make our lives more than interesting this summer and fall. By September, our boss will be vying to be the unofficial leader of the party and a strong contender for the 2008 presidential race...with all due respect to the junior senators from New York and Illinois."
"Pretty heady stuff for a guy like me just four years out of college."
"Yeah, around here it's like the lifespan of a dog. Working for Mandy in one year is like seven years any place else. But my young friend, reaping the spoils of political riches is worth it 'cause we get to affect change," Phil said with conviction. "However let's get back to the present. You're up to speed with everything on your plate today?"
"I'm ready to put the final touches on the releases and they'll be ready for you to review in a couple of hours. You mentioned something about being out of the office this afternoon?"
"Yeah. Mac needs to talk with me about some personal stuff over lunch. Joyce knows I'll be gone until around 2:00 p.m. and you've got my cell number if something crazy happens."
"Got it. Say hi to Mac. Am I still going to tag along with you guys to a movie this weekend."
"Absolutely. It's your last weekend as a widow before Dex gets back," Phil said with a laugh. "Burgers, a few brews and a flick. Mac is looking forward to it. See ya later."
"I'll have everything for you to check over by the time you return." Kyle grabbed his thick file and left Phil's office.
Phil checked the most recent emails and made a dent in the growing stack of correspondence before attending the chief of staff briefing. Joyce had no pressing projects and told Phil to use the staff driver for his luncheon appointment at the Palm restaurant.
The Palm was still a movers and shakers watering hole that did a brisk luncheon business. Phil walked up to the maitre 'd stand and shook hands with the long-time manager, Tommy Jacamo. The scene hadn't changed since Phil started coming to the restaurant ten years earlier. All the who's who of Washington politics, society and business were honored with colorful caricatures of themselves drawn on the walls. He noticed that Abraham's face had already been removed. 'So much for the lobbyist bastard,' he thought. 'Wonder who's next to be 86'd? A few less congressmen?'
"Mr. Tortello, good to see you again," the manager said. "With Mandy Burns in charge of the House minority leadership, I'm sure your life has become more complicated."
"Tommy, you don't know the half of it. How's business?" Phil observed that there were a few booths empty.
"Abraham's actions have affected lobbyist entertaining. No one wants to be seen with one of the troops from K Street. But we'll survive. I figure everything will be back to normal by the end of summer. The politicians and the lobbyists need each other...and a good lunch," Tommy said with a laugh. "Plus, the American people have a short memory. Do you need a table?"
"I'm lunching with Mr. Price today. Has he arrived?"
"Yes, he and another gentleman. In bed with the enemy?"
"Yeah, politics makes strange bedfellows," Phil replied. 'If he only knew that us bedfellows weren't so strange and definitely not enemies,' he thought with a grin.
"Let me walk you to the table. By the way, I've got a primo space for Mandy Burn's picture if you'll send over a photo my artist can use," Tommy said as he started walking through the dining room.
"That's great. I'll have a photo sent over by messenger this afternoon." Phil looked around the room with high-back walnut booths, black and white floor tiles and the omnipresent caricature art. He nodded at a few colleagues and working press. 'Mandy will really get a kick out of her picture on the wall,' Phil concluded.
"I've got a choice spot on the wall by the front door. Everyone in Washington thinks she's going to be a bigger player."
"Thanks...as long as it's above and a little to the right of Hillary...or left, depending on what day it is."
"And definitely a little to the left of McCain and Giuliani?"
"Tommy, you don't miss much, do you?" Phil smiled when he saw Mac at a booth with an older gentleman he vaguely recognized. He slapped Tommy on the shoulder and shook his hand before the manager walked away.
"Mac, I hope I'm on time. Have you been waiting long?" Phil said as he eased into the booth and faced Mac and the other gentleman.
"Naw, we just got here. Phil, let me introduce Toby McGill. Toby, Phil Tortello."
"Ah, Mr. McGill, from the Vice President's office...right? Nice to meet you." Phil reached over and shook the offered hand.
"Let's get the 'misters' out of the way. I'd really like you to call me Toby."
"Works for me. Toby, Mac and Phil. Kind of a Washington, gentile version of the Pep Boys," Phil said with a laugh.
"Fair enough" Toby nodded and grinned broadly. "We've ordered iced tea. You want the same or something else?" Toby asked.
"Tea's fine. I've got a stacked desk to attend to when I return."
"We're all in the same boat," Mac said. "You wanna look at the menu? Toby and I have already decided what we're going to have."
"That's easy; Cobb salad, chopped, with bleu cheese dressing on the side. I have it every time I'm here," Phil replied with a smile.
"Easy and uncomplicated. We're all having salads." Mac took the menus, placed them on the corner of the table and nodded to a waiter in the traditional cotton coat and apron.
The waiter came to the booth, took the orders and snagged a busboy to serve iced tea. The three men exchanged pleasantries, sipped tea and munched on the hot bread until the salads arrived.
"Phil, I should tell you that Toby is aware of our personal relationship," Mac said after the waiter had left.
"Really?" Phil digested the statement and looked at Mac with a questioning expression.
"Phil, let me clarify the situation. Mac didn't betray any confidences and at this table we are all of like minds on the subject of sexual orientation." Toby looked intently into Phil's eyes before continuing, "In fact, I was aware of your relationship with Mac when I recommended him for his new job at the White House."
"Wow, this is really heavy duty. What you've just said is the last thing I thought we'd be discussing. I figured that it would be a few friendly political barbs, some laughs and lunch."
"Babe, that will come later. What Toby wants to discuss with you is a topic and offer that was brought to my attention not too long ago. It involves men and women that want you to be a part of a special group who maintain a very low profile." Mac paused and looked at Toby.
"You're becoming an important player in this town, Phil. With Mandy's growing prominence, your power will continue to accelerate."
"Toby, I'm just a press flack for a congresswoman," Phil retorted.
"We both know better than that. Mandy's on her way to bigger things on your side of the aisle and you're going to be a part of that success. That you are also a responsible gay man makes you a natural to become a member of this group."
"I'd describe myself as a responsible man who happens to be gay," Phil said as a matter of fact.
"Fair enough. I stand corrected," Toby replied. In between bites of his salad, Toby described the secret Alpha organization; it's history and the current mission over the next half-hour. He clarified the relationship between Alpha and it's wholly owned AOI security corporation. Phil asked a few questions but primarily absorbed what he was told. Toby also ran through some his own personal background.
"So that's why we're together, buddy. I accepted their offer to become part of the organization early last month. I believe that Alpha can continue to make a difference on gay and lesbian issues plus monitor the dangerous, right wing extremists." Mac smiled and took a sip of iced tea. "Now that you understand our public face with AOI, you also know that Dex is a member."
"Guys, I'm overwhelmed and honored that you'd consider me to be a part of your group. I really want to help to continue creating a level playing field for the next generation, as well as us. Is this the part where we prick our fingers and draw blood," Phil said with a little chuckle.
"Nothing so dramatic," Toby replied with a smile. "Just remember that this is a very confidential organization and all we ask is that you keep your eyes open and lips sealed. You may be asked to make suggestions to your boss from time to time that would be helpful to our agenda. We usually get together for a little socializing and strategy meeting once a month out at a country estate in Virginia. "
"As long as it doesn't compromise anything that Mandy believes in, I have no problem with that."
"Absolutely. We would never ask you to do anything against your principles. I told you about a few of the planned victories we've had this year. But seeing that weasel, Ralph Reed, get caught taking tainted money was a terrific bonus that wasn't expected." Toby paused as the waiter came to remove the luncheon dishes.
"A little parting gift from Abraham. Anyone for dessert?" Mac asked, temporarily changing the subject.
"I've got to get back to put out a few fires so I'll take a pass," Toby said.
"I have more than enough to digest." Phil nodded as the waiter cleared the table.
"Just a check, please." Toby pulled out a credit card and gave it to the waiter. When they were alone, he continued, "Ralphie baby is one less thorn in our side."
"In everyone's side," Phil added. "And to think that he was dealing the Christian Coalition stuff on one side of the table and shilling for China on the other."
"And handling Enron as a client just for the hell of it." Mac shrugged and took another sip of tea. "What a slippery hypocrite."
"An article in GQ summed it up best. He's just a political pimp...like Jesse Jackson and Al 'Tawana' Sharpton. Different party and skin color, that's all," Toby added.
"They're going to do themselves in, eventually. We've got bigger fish to fry." Mac smiled and turned to Toby.
"The next thing coming down the pike will be legislation that the President will sign next month, or so. Part of this act includes provisions that extend important financial protections to same-sex couples and other Americans who name non-spouses as their retirement plan beneficiaries."
"Wow, your boss may be pissing off the conservative base by signing another benefit for life partners," Phil said.
"The President is convinced that he's doing the right thing and the timing for passage in the dead of summer is not coincidental." Toby took the check, added a tip, signed it and placed it in the tray.
"Babe, you want to get together tonight. I want to talk over a few things with you and give you a special gift," Mac said quietly.
"My place or yours?"
"Your place has got better parking overnight," Mac said with a wink.
"Come on over about eight." Phil eased out of the booth and waited for his luncheon companions to get up. 'I can only imagine what some of the luncheon guests are thinking seeing us together,' he thought with a smile.
"Phil, I look forward to getting to know you better. You guys have a good time tonight," Toby said as the guys made their way to the restaurant foyer.
"Trust me, I plan on it."
"The only thing I have to look forward to this evening is working on a few briefs for the Vice President."
"While you're doing that, I'll be working out of mine," Mac answered with a snicker.
"TMI, Mr. Price," Toby said with a laugh. Turning to Phil, he concluded, "You're a lucky man."
"We're both lucky men." Phil winked and opened the door.
"That's a great looking ring," Phil said, admiring it on his finger. "One more thing that binds us together." He was sitting on the couch, snuggled close to Mac. They were both relaxed in polo shirts and shorts. The shoes had been toed off earlier in the evening.
"I'm really proud of you. You're going to be a great addition to Alpha." Mac turned and nuzzled his head into Phil's chest. He reached over and slowly moved his hand across Phil's stomach. The rubbing motion broadened and when Mac reached the button to Phil's shorts, he undid it. After unzipping the fly, he reached in and found Phil's hard cock...begging for attention.
"Mmmm," Phil moaned. "I am lucky to have you in my life." He reached under Mac's polo and stroked firm pecs, hard nipples and silky chest hair. "It's a shame we can't make babies."
'We can fantasize, big guy," Mac whispered. "You wanna go into the bedroom and pretend?"
"The only pretend part is that we can't conceive. But the act of lovemaking is very real." Phil disengaged his hand and took Mac's warm hand away from his willing, erect member. "Why don't you go to the bedroom while I turn off a few lights and set the alarm?" He stood up and pulled Mac up afterwards.
"I'll use the john and meet you on the bed. I really want my Alpha man inside me tonight."
"Those are instructions I can follow." He kissed Mac tenderly and said, "Now git."
"Yes, Sir." Mac kissed him back and started walking to the bedroom. By the time he was at the hallway the polo shirt had already been removed and was discarded on the carpet.
Phil walked around the apartment and turned off the lights, stereo and set the security system. As he walked to the bedroom he thought, 'I actually used the L word indirectly. I think tonight I'm going to move to the next step.' He entered the bedroom and saw the image of his man lying on his back, nude, with legs slightly spread and an erection stretching to his 'innie' navel.
"That's a vision I could get used to," Phil purred as he slowly pulled off his polo.
"Ditto, babe. Ditto."
It was almost midnight by the time the black AOI SUV pulled off the beltway and started navigating the quiet avenues of the District on the Thursday night at the end of June. The air conditioning belied the hot, muggy air outside. Dex and Chip had chatted casually about their successful completion of the AOI training and assignments ahead on the return drive from Fairfax.
"Dex, I've really enjoyed getting to know you and think of you as a very special, valued friend."
"I feel the same way and I know that Kyle is going to really like you. I hope we can all get together very soon."
"Maybe when my brother is visits us in late July before he flies over to London. Brad's been accepted at Oxford University's 'B' school to study international finance leading to an MBA.
"The Saïd School at Oxford? He must be smart...like his big brother."
"He does fine in the gray matter department and my 'little' brother isn't so little...Brad's 6'1".
"Sounds like Brad is a major stud. The guys at Oxford will eat him alive," Dex said with a chuckle.
"He's always been a little shy with getting too involved with a boyfriend. Maybe a little time with the Brits will do him good," Chip replied with a shrug. "Let's plan on a cookout at my place."
"That would be super. I'll probably be spending most of July in the Fairfax office getting acclimated to AOI routine and Kyle has most weekends free."
"I'll figure out a good time with Susan and we can talk after the long weekend. You're driving over to Rehoboth tomorrow?"
"Yeah, the other guys are taking Friday off so we can start the holiday a little early." A smile appeared as he thought about seeing Kyle later that night and then the 4th of July weekend with his buddies.
"I'll get a chance to meet Mac and Phil at the Alpha meeting the following weekend. I didn't fully realize the depth of the organization when I first accepted AOI's offer. To be part of the group is very special."
"And I think that It'll become much more so as we get to know the players." Dex looked out the window and realized that they had turned on P Street and were coming to his apartment building. "Chip, we've come a complete circle since we were picked up a month ago." The driver slowed the SUV and eased to a stop in front of the entrance. "Driver, if you'll pop open the rear door I can get my gear."
"Have a great homecoming. I know there's going to be one happy camper upstairs when you return." Chip chuckled and shook Dex's hand.
"There's going to be two happy campers. If I'm not mistaken, Kyle's probably got some bubbly being chilled as we speak. Talk with you next week." Dex squeezed Chip's arm, got out of the SUV and went back to the opened rear door. He grabbed his issued duffle bag that contained material and clothing he had accumulated in the past month. It also held a special gift for the man in his life. Dex closed the door and tapped on the window to alert the driver that he could
'Chip is almost family,' he thought wistfully, as the SUV pulled away. 'Kind of a brother I never had.' Dex grabbed his gear and let himself in the building. Since Kyle had been house-sitting off and on for the past month, he was sure that all the mail was sorted and waiting for him. But the most important person in his life was also waiting...and that took precedence over everything else. When the elevator doors parted, he took a deep breath, entered and pressed '10'.
By the time he exited into the 10th floor hallway, Dex was feeling lightheaded with anticipation of the reunion. Between satellite telephones and email they had talked almost daily. But the real thing was completely different. A month's difference when you're newly in love is an eternity. Rather than unlocking the door, he knocked with a tapping sequence they had worked out a couple of months earlier. His heart tingled when he heard the lock disengage and the door slowly open. Dex felt like someone had zapped him with a special electrical surge - good this time - when he saw Kyle looking at him with a broad grin. He was barely aware that Kyle was wearing only a tee and gym shorts.
"Hey, babe, welcome home." Kyle stepped forward, placed his hand behind Dex's head, and pulled him forward until each other's lips were touching. "I've missed this," he whispered.
"You don't know the half of it." Dex dropped his duffel bag and pulled Kyle closer. He put pressure on their lips and plunged his tongue into his willing partner's mouth. He met minimum resistance as their two tongues danced a tonsillar tango. The sound of a door opening down the hall brought the guys back to reality. "Let's get inside before we shock my neighbors."
"Up close and personal. Let me grab the duffle bag." Kyle reached down to pick up the bag while Dex walked into the apartment.
"As much as I had a great experience this past month, it doesn't compare with getting home and being with you." He looked around at the familiar surroundings and did notice a flickering light coming from the bedroom door.
"I've waited for this evening almost since you left." Kyle gave Dex a quick peck on the cheek. "Let's continue this in the bedroom." He took Dex in hand and lead him back to the bedroom.
"Wow," was all Dex could utter as they stepped into a room that was illuminated by clusters of votive candles. The bed was turned down and on the nightstand was a bottle of sparkling wine and two flute glasses.
"Ditto wow. But first are the house rules. This room is a clothes-free zone, Mr. Tate. You are expected to strip down to your birthday suit." Kyle playfully pulled up Dex's polo shirt.
"I assume this goes for you, too?" Dex raised his arms to allow the polo to come off. He licked his lips as he unbuckled his belt and unclasped his khaki pants.
"What I'm wearing will be off before you can count to three." Kyle in short order removed his tee shirt and quickly pulled off the gym shorts. His cock was hanging at an elongated flaccid state; a prelude before springing to a full-fledged woodie.
"Babe, you're a fast mover." Dex toed off his shoes and stepped out of his pants. "Let me hit the john real fast and return posthaste." He swiftly removed his socks and boxers and trotted into the bathroom.
"Cute buns, babe. Looks like they got a little firmer," Kyle said as Dex disappeared. "Don't use any toothpaste or mouthwash. It'll ruin the taste of the wine."
"The wine or anything else you have in mind." Dex chuckled as he emptied his bladder. He smiled as he felt his appendage growing in his hand. He finished, washed his hands and splashed a little water on his face. He returned to the bedroom to find Kyle sitting nude on the bed, legs crossed, with two half-filled glasses of wine.
"Here's some California bubblies to welcome you home. I figured that you've had enough frog stuff for a while."
"Either is fine as long as it comes with the American guy next to me." Dex got in bed, faced Kyle and took the offered glass. "Buddy, this past month gave me a lot of time to think about us. I not only missed you...I thought about our lives together...for a long time. I can't hold it any longer," Dex said with a pause. "I love you, Kyle Blakesfield, with all my heart and want you as my life partner." He looked intently into Kyle's eyes and raised his glass.
"I'm..." Kyle was uncustomarily speechless. After a few quiet seconds with his mouth gaping open, he continued, "Dex, I've also thought about this moment. When we got to know each other, I was pretty sure that you were the man...the guy that I wanted to experience life with. Sitting here tonight, I know it. I do love you, with all my heart, and accept. Ahh, er, um...is this a proposal?"
"I suppose I should be on my knees...now get those erotic thoughts out of your mind." Dex got off the bed and went over to his duffle bag. He unzipped a side panel and took out a small box. "Babe, if I get on my knees it means that you've got to stand up."
Kyle smiled and slid off the bed. He stood and looked at Dex directly below him. The flickering of the candles created a warm, gentle glow on Dex's determined facial expression.
"I selected matching rings when I had some time off in Strasbourg. I, um, I guess maybe we could get something else if you don't like them. I was just intent on committing to you." Dex looked up, took Kyle's left hand, and continued, "This is a symbol of my unconditional love and statement of a lifelong union."
"Hon, the ring could be stainless steel. Whatever you've selected is fine by me." Kyle moved his hand a little and offered the traditional ring finger. "I accept by offering my devotion and love to you." Kyle grinned as Dex slid the ring on his finger.
"Hey, it fits," Dex said as he stood up. He leaned in to kiss his partner.
"Just a minute, big guy. You mentioned something about matching rings. I think it's my turn to 'ring' you." He gave Dex a quick kiss before getting down on his knees.
"Here ya are." Dex handed the other ring to Kyle.
"It's all official as far as I'm concerned," Kyle said as he nervously slid the matching white gold ring in place. He stood, with the help of Dex, and said, "Now, let's kiss, have a few sips of wine and really celebrate."
The two men moved together and pressed their bodies into each other as they started a series of loving, aggressive and passionate kisses. At one point, Dex moved them over to the bed and they crawled into their original positions. They each picked up their glasses, toasted each other silently and took a sip. However, this was not an evening about drinking...merely a prelude.
True to his word, Kyle's friend set them up with a luxury two-bedroom cottage near Rehoboth Avenue and the boardwalk that had not been booked because of a last minute cancellation. While Friday night was a casual Tex-Mex dinner at Iguana, Kyle pulled out all the stops Saturday with reservations at the Blue Moon to celebrate Dex's and his partnership. True to his word, Dex picked up the tab.
The weekend at Rehoboth Beach was an outstanding combination of laughing, swimming, sunning, eating and drinking...at night the two couples separated to enjoy the explorations of intimate lovemaking.
Monday, a little sunburned, pleasantly physically spent and bonded with inseparable male friendships, the four men returned to Washington, D.C. and the fireworks at Wolf Trap. Little did they know that unplanned fireworks were looming in their immediate future.
TO BE CONTINUED