Warning: The following story may contain graphic descriptions of sex between consenting adult males. If you are underage or do not wish to read such material, or if reading this sort of material is illegal in your jurisdiction, then read no further. 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.
A special acknowledgement to David from the Lakeview area of Chicago and Brad from Denver for providing diligent proofing and editing of the story, to Carey for being a patient teacher, and to Drew for helping to expand my boundaries.
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Part 16, THE REAL FAT LADY SINGS
I quickly dressed, kissed the sleeping, wounded prince goodbye, and returned to Astor Street. It was only 6:30 a.m. when I entered my quiet home: quiet except for the scampering of the anxious Aby to greet my arrival.
A leisurely shower and shave was the first order for the day before I treated myself to scrambled eggs and toast, bypassing the usual banana and cereal. Mr. Charley was happy with his usual cat grub. After the two-stage physical experience with Bill last night, I was very satisfied. While the first pre-dinner encounter was aggressive sex, later, it was about two adults expressing love. It was a rewarding feeling that offered contentment I had not felt for a while.
I was also satisfied about my public stance to the merger. Watching some of the newscasts the evening before gave me confidence that the story had received a positive, Franklin spin. Only time would tell if my gamble would pay off. If I lost in the bid to head up the new, combined office, I would be history. But there were clandestine tasks to accomplish on this early morning.
Arriving at the shop around 7:45 a.m., I turned on the lights, walked back to my office and fired up the computers. Working fast, all files of interest were downloaded onto two CD's. Taking a pre-addressed envelope with the CD's sealed inside, I cautiously went out to the U.S. Mail drop. The envelope would arrive at my home tomorrow. Pre-emptive insurance if I was suddenly deprived of valuable information.
Returning to the office, I officially got organized for the new business day. It was 8:20 a.m. when the telephone rang. Picking it up, I answered by saying, "Jerry Franklin speaking."
~~~ "Franklin, you've got balls. I'll give you that."
This was not Ben. While I could guess who it was, I played along. "I'm sorry. Are you talking about baseball, or perhaps football?"
~~~ "You damn well know what I'm talking about. And for your information, McKenney is the largest consulting company."
"Not in Chicago. This must be Paul Porter, erudite conversationalist. Charming too."
~~~ "We'll see who has the last laugh, asshole. Your days are numbered."
"Just for the record, how does a loser like you keep his job at McKenney?"
~~~ "Fuck you." And the phone went dead.
Immediately it rang again. 'Did that turkey want to add something else to his brilliance?' I wondered. "Jerry Franklin speaking," I answered, with tension affecting the timbre of my voice.
~~~ "Jerry. You really stepped into it this time. Big time."
"Ben, after what you told me yesterday, it appears that it's survival time. Win or lose, I had to take the chance."
~~~ "I'd say your chances of winning are 99 to 1 at this point: winning being one. I researched Mr. Paul Porter."
"The cretin just called, foaming at the mouth."
~~~ "Well, that cretin is married to McKenney's daughter."
"What? Why have I never seen them socially together? Or, for that matter, at all?" I was genuinely curious and more than nervous.
~~~ "Apparently the daughter - his wife - suffers from Parkinson's disease. She's been a recluse for several years. They don't have any children."
"The only time I've seen Paul at a function, he's always escorting some young lovely. Doesn't sound like he's awfully loyal to the wife." I remembered some of the events and Porter, in his late 40's, was always squiring women who could be his daughter. 'They were beautiful, though,' I remembered.
~~~ "He must have old man McKenney snowed. He's behind Porter. And that's the reason I'm leading off with this situation. McKenney was on the telephone with Dad for a half hour. McKenney is pissed."
"How mad at me is your Dad?"
~~~ "Actually, I think he is inwardly amused."
"Ben, lay it out clearly. Am I out? Shall I pack my bags and look for another job?"
~~~ "Don't get carried away with this. You're still running our operations in Chicago. Dad hasn't signed the contracts yet. But, if I were in Las Vegas, I'd say fold your cards. You might be wise to explore other avenues."
~~~ "Draw your own conclusions. I'm updating my resume. Just don't quote me."
"What about the all other interviews concerning Martin and American Foundry? This story seems to have a life of it's own. There are several meetings with print and television reporters scheduled for later this week."
~~~ "My advice is to be very positive in these interviews. They will be very valuable to you in the future...if you catch my drift."
"Ben. I do read what you're saying. I promise you that any other press I'm involved with will concentrate solely on the client and Martin. How much time do I have left to be independent out here?"
~~~ "My guess is the deal between our two firms will be completed by mid-September. I'll run a smoke screen for you until then. After that, I can't make any guarantees."
"Ben, you've been upfront with me. I guess I should apologize for my attitude earlier. I hope you understand my uneasiness?"
~~~ "I only wish I had the balls to do what you did. That you have that under-dog scrappiness is a real advantage that gives you an upper hand. Most men at your financial level would just roll over and cash in the dividends." Ben was aware of Dad's investments and my trust fund.
"I pledge that I will give you and your dad the highest in performance and loyalty for however longer we are together."
~~~ 'Fair enough. I'll let Dad know you're in the game to the finish. One word of caution: don't have any conversations with Porter. After today's phone call, further agitation would be unwise."
"You got it. Ben, I'll pass on anything else that comes up. Take care."
~~~ "Be careful. Bye, bye."
The first of the staff started arriving, Alice leading the pack. I waved her in to the office.
"How's my number one guru in charge of everything at Martin doing this morning?"
"Aside from running out of batteries last night, just fine," she said with a wicked wink.
"Battery-driven devices have never been my choice. I like the real thing," I retorted.
"Okay, boss. Before we get charged with mutual-sexual harassment, I'll back off if you will?" she continued with a laugh.
"Fair enough. What is your reaction to my press conference last night?"
"Very self-serving and very positive. Can I ask you your read on all this?"
"Close the door, and sit down." She followed my instructions and looked at me curiously. "This is going to be like a Chinese menu. You get one from column "A" and two from column "B," I replied with a raised eyebrow.
"Am I going to like the choices?"
"All depends. Worse but probably realistic case scenario: we will be merged into McKenney by the middle of September. Chances are pretty good that I will not be invited to be part of the merger. However, the staff will be welcomed with open arms...for while."
"Until they've sucked our brains out?"
"At some point the spoils go to the victor. I'm biased, Alice. Because of history with McKenney's man here, I'm toast. The rest of our staff will be judged on the fit into their organization."
"So what are the options?"
"Alice, I'm going to fight. Fight for recognition in this market and what a new small, consulting firm can do to make a difference."
"I think it's time for me to explore starting a new company specializing in offering corporate consulting with only blue chip firms that demand personal attention."
"You think there's room for me?"
"Absolutely. This idea is in a very early incubation period. Alice, there is definitely a place for you. You understand this is all on the QT?"
"Just let me know what you need done."
"First and foremost, we gotta get through this week. I'm going to bail as soon as the office is humming. Please coordinate the interview schedules with Korman Communications. Bill and I probably have appointments set up for Thursday. This whole American Foundry story should play out by Friday. After last night, there is nothing more to add to the merger. Ethically, I may want to talk with you away from this office. Okay?"
"Jerry, I can read between the lines. Be assured I'm with you on a new venture. Good luck." We stood as she got her workspace ready for the day.
Moving to pre-emptive strike number two, I called a private investigator we used confidentially on rare occasions. Rick Petrillo was ruthless and took no enemies, when required. I was on a survival mission. I could feel my breath quicken and brows deeply furrowed as I described the contract. That completed, I moved on to more pleasant tasks.
When Bill answered my phone call, a smile crept back. We spoke like two school kids in love. He missed not waking up with me and promised that he would patiently wait for the next opportunity. I would pick him up tomorrow afternoon and take him to the Wednesday medical appointment with Coulter. He would bring a few changes of clothing so we could hang out at my place for a few days.
Joe Jenrette was next on my list. He was wrapping up the staffing details with Sammy and wouldn't be back in the office until the end of the week to finish final drafts of our proposals and recommendations. I apologized for not speaking with him directly about the merger announcement and asked to meet with him later today. We agreed on a light workout and dinner at the East Bank Club at 5:00 p.m. I spoke briefly with Sammy, who peppered me with several questions concerning the merger and my comments. I was positive and vague.
I informally visited each of the key associates in their offices and offered encouragement through this new professional challenge of a merger. After shuffling through necessary paperwork, I left for the day. If and when a new company was formed...Franklin Associates...there was one or two more of the staff I'd invite to join me.
Alice gave me the Thursday interview schedule just before I left at noon. Bill and I would be speaking with business writers from Time, Newsweek, Business Week, and U.S. News and World Report. I had a request for an in-depth personal interview Friday with the Tribune Sunday Magazine. It was a cover story to be released in mid-September with an extensive photo spread. Kind of a "day in the life of..." fluff story. Timing would be perfect. I'd have almost two days to prep for all the interviews.
Joe and I enjoyed the weights and helped each other on bench presses. After an hour that included the machines, we adjourned to the lockers. Stealing glances in the shower, I observed again why Sammy was such a happy young man. We continued light banter and shoptalk while dressing and continued to the restaurant.
Easing into the booth, I said, "Thanks for joining me. I wanted to run some confidential ideas by you for reaction." We ordered a pitcher of beer.
"I'm enjoying getting to know you better away from work, Jerry. But I know something's on your mind other than being social. Anything to do with the merger?"
"Very perceptive. The things we're going to discuss must not go any further than this booth. With no one. By the way, I am enjoying getting to know you better socially also."
"Thanks, I understand. No pillow talk."
"Exactly." 'Boy, could his pillow talk,' I mused with a smile. "Basically the merger will probably get very messy for me. The guy who runs McKenney in Chicago hates my guts."
"That sounds pretty serious." The server brought the beer and took our food orders.
"Our company has aced McKenney out of several good contracts. I'll admit that it doesn't help that I was a tad bit arrogant in his face about our victories."
"He must be shitting bricks after your TV interviews yesterday?"
"Yeah, I was a little full of myself." We both smiled. "It was a preemptive strike on my part."
"It was my lobbying effort to be considered the best man to lead the combined efforts."
"Well, you would be."
"Thanks. But what I didn't know until this morning is that this guy Porter is married to McKenney's daughter."
"Holy fuck. You lost before you began," Joe concluded with concern.
"Bingo. So here's what I'm planning. The merger will be completed in a month. At that point I'll probably be shown the door. What I want to do is form a new, small company dealing with issues just like we did with American Foundry. This company will need a few really sharp people." I looked at him intently.
"Are you asking me to be part of this?"
"If this goes forward, I'd be honored. You're sharp, get results, and I trust you. Plus, your family is plugged into the community."
"What exactly do you have in mind for me?" The server returned with our food. She sat down two large platters containing club sandwiches and salads in front of us.
"I plan on forming a partnership. Upfront, I'll be senior partner with 50.5% interest in the partnership. I'm seeking three partners to share in the remaining balance. Once the four of us are united and the business grows, we will recruit a staff that can respond to our contracts. A base salary will probably be at around 45K. I know that's about 2/3's of what you make now. However, once some partnership distributions come into play, you're going to double your base, at a minimum. I figure meaningful payouts should be coming by this time next year. Two years out, I would be very disappointed if you weren't pulling down 300K."
"That sounds most interesting. Exciting, actually. Especially to a guy who will be turning 26 soon."
"I'll be frank. You'll work those gorgeous buns to the bone." We both smiled. "And I can't promise a big volume of work right away. I'm going to ask my dad for a substantial loan to capitalize the new company. Startup money will not be a problem."
"Jerry, this is very tempting. I want to say yes. Would you mind if I thought about it for a couple of days?"
"Not at all. However, I would like to know your reaction by Friday."
"Can do. I just need to check out my finances so I have a cushion for a while."
"Fair enough. I'm okay with you giving your dad the rundown on this new venture." I was pretty sure that Mr. Jenrette, Sr. would be floating a personal loan to Joe. He nodded and smiled.
The remainder of our dinner was casual and very open. He volunteered that Sammy was becoming a big part of his personal life. I shared that Bill had the same effect on me. When Joe mentioned concern about the age differences between Sammy and him, I chuckled. I told him that four years apart was not a big deal and that the challenge would be to broaden Sammy's universe. I passed on my friend Steve's thoughts on the subject. By the time we finished our meeting and dinner, I felt that our personal relationship had moved to a new, solid level of trust and friendship.
Returning home around 7:30 p.m., I took care of the cat and stripped down to enjoy the warmth of my terry robe. Lying on the bed and propped up with various pillows, I punched #1 on my speed dial phone.
"Hey, babe. I just got home and wanted to check in. How's your shoulder?"
~~~ "I'm feeling okay. I'd feel better if you were here."
"Hon, maybe we can do something about that?"
~~~ "What do you mean?"
"Just listen to me. Where are you and what are you wearing?"
~~~ "I'm sitting on the couch in the family room."
"What are you wearing?"
~~~ "Just an old pair of boxers."
~~~ "Naw, that's it."
"Take them off and grab your warm soft dick.'
~~~ "Are you doing the same?"
"I'm lying on the bed, spread eagle, slowly stroking my cock, thinking of you, stud."
~~~ "My shorts are off. I feel some moisture at the tip of my dick. Mmmm, the pre-cum tastes good."
"I'm getting hard seeing you eat it. How does it taste?"
~~~ "Like honey. Can you see me hard?"
~~~ "I can see you. I can see the veins growing with your dick. Can you see me massaging myself and playing with my dickhead?"
"Oh, fuck, yeah. You're completely hard. Can you see what's that coming from my piss slit?"
~~~ "More honey. Taste it. Tell me what it tastes like?"
"I'll share it with you. Do you like?"
~~~ "I like. I'm tingling in my balls. I feel a grip down there. Is that you?"
"I'm jerking your hard on and pulling on your full balls."
~~~ "I'm jerking you, too. I want you to put a finger up my ass and explore the insides."
"Ahhh, babe, you're tight and hot. Shit, Bill, feel my finger nudging at your prostate?" I had moistened a finger and probed myself.
~~~ "Are you all the way inside me. I feel the scratching. Man, graze me again up the chute. Oh babe, you're hitting it...just keep it going..."
"Oh, fuck. You're working your muscle on my finger. I wish my dick was up there...ahhh."
~~~ "Christ...I'm at your door. Do you feel me entering you...that hot hole of yours?"
"Urrgh...uhhh, yeah, I feel you...work it around there. I'm driving it home...oh mother of...harder..."
~~~ "Shit man, I'm going to...ohhh...yeah...I'm..."
"Cumming...yes, give it to me...fuck...yes...Ohhh..."
There was only heavy breathing for a few moments on both phones. Finally Bill said,
~~~ "Jerry, you fucking deviant, that was marvelous."
"I wish I was over there licking you clean everywhere."
~~~ "As it stands, I'll do some of the licking myself."
"Bill, it's time for both of us to get some rest. Just know I love you and expect the real thing tomorrow night."
~~~ "I love you too. And you will get the real thing tomorrow night. Even with my gimpy arm."
TO BE CONTINUED