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 20, SHOWTIME
The weekend was borrowed, quality time for two executives destined to be thrust into a tremendous workload approaching the final calendar quarter of the year. Bill was charged with becoming the chief operating officer at American Foundry and implementing the "Forward 2005" business plan developed by Martin Consulting. For Jerry, life as he knew it would change drastically next Wednesday, September 15th.
Saturday night, Bill and Jerry walked two blocks south of 2800 to dine at North Pond. Located within Lincoln Park, at the edge of a pond overlooking Chicago's skyline in the distance, the Arts and Crafts-designed restaurant was a very restful and romantic setting. Afterwards, they returned to the condo and experienced continued versatility in lovemaking. Friday night, Jerry had aggressively led the ritual; Saturday it was Bill on top, driving the testosterone-charged action to satisfy his partner, followed by snuggles and spooning, eerily illuminated by a full moon coming through the uncovered high-rise window.
Bill awakened first and smiled, looking at his peaceful, sleeping partner and their contorted bodies intertwined, with the sheet that had been kicked to the foot of the bed. He quietly untangled and got up to pee and use the handy Listerine before putting on some shorts and padding out to the kitchen to make the morning coffee, squeeze orange juice and retrieve the Sunday Tribune. While drinking a cup of TJ's Dark Sumatra and checking out the front-page headlines at the dining table, Bill heard a distant flush and running water.
"Morning, babe," Jerry said cheerfully, with a contented smile. He walked behind Bill and planted a kiss on his cheek.
"Hey, Jerry. Pour a cup and join me. Juice and muffins are waiting for you."
Returning to the table, coffee in hand, Jerry joined in the Sunday ritual of sharing the newspaper sections. "Anything exciting?"
"Naw. Pretty boring stuff," Bill replied, shoving the Business section over. "But I suspect that will be changing soon?" He looked over and beamed a knowing smile.
"Being without a job and celebrating Rosh Hashanah on Wednesday is hardly newsworthy. Well, maybe it will be with the family," Jerry considered.
"Not having a job?"
"No. Attending Temple with the family to observe the New Year."
"Isn't this where you blow the..."
"Shofar. The ram's horn," Jerry injected.
"I guess we celebrated a little early last night," Bill said with a chortle.
"Very funny...but not too original," Jerry replied, as he grabbed Bill's hand and kissed it. "Seriously, this is time of the year when the entire family gets together. Even Mom will join the Franklin clan Wednesday, and then for Yom Kippur eve next week."
"You want me to come with you?"
"This is pretty much a Jewish thing. Coulter will be without Judy. I guess I almost don't qualify," Jerry said wistfully. But next spring, I'm bringing you to our Seder dinner on the first night of Passover. Mom loves to cook. My aunt and grandma will help her. You'll love it."
"Hon, I'd love anything that you invite me to." Bill got up and gently massaged Jerry's shoulders before getting the coffee pot for refills. After breakfast, Jerry brought Mr. Charley home to Astor Street to re-freshen for the rest of the day.
Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field capped off the weekend. The Florida Marlins and the Cubbies were perfectly suited for each other. Jerry had reserved the Franklin Chevrolet box on the first two rows behind the home dugout. He invited his dad, Uncle Sid, and the McDonald and Jenrette fathers and sons for the baseball outing. Afterwards, all would adjourn to Parthenon, the oldest restaurant in Greektown, for an early dinner.
I gazed across the crosscut, manicured outfield and the ivy-covered brick walls of Wrigley Field; a ballpark I'd been coming to since the age of five. Today was a Franklin production. Uncle Sid picked up the McDonald and Jenrette men in Evanston with the Suburban, while Dad drove Bill and me to Wrigleyville. Dad was going to handle the stag outing dinner tab later. Bill was immersed in a healthy family experience and bonding.
"Jerry, these seats are great. I've never been this close," Bill commented. The Franklin men sat with Bill on the second row and the other guests sat on the first row of the box seats with the sons wedged in between a father 'sandwich.' I was disappointed that Coulter couldn't join us. But being lower than whale shit in the hospital pecking order, he always pulled Sunday duty.
"I gotta admit I'm spoiled. My great-grandfather started subscribing to a season box right after Word War Two. And Grandpa upgraded to this box when it became available. All the guys at the dealership use it to entertain good clients."
Mr. Jenrette - Joe Senior - turned and thanked us for thinking of the outing. "I can't think of a better way to be with friends on a Sunday." Just then, the beer vendor arrived in our area. "Who's up for some beer?" Mr. Jenrette asked. We all raised our hands.
Around the third inning, and again in the sixth, George McDonald bought a couple more rounds. Everyone was in an upbeat, jovial mood. Bill spent much of the afternoon talking with Dad and Uncle Sid. Bill was enjoying getting to know my family better. In the row below, Sammy and Joe switched seats at 'seventh inning stretch' and spent the remainder of the game talking and joking with each other's dads. 'Never mind that the Cubbies were losing,' I thought. 'The bonding was more important.'
The table at Parthenon in Greektown was a continuation of male bonding and a continuation of beer - Mythos Beer from Greece. Dad had selected a family-style dinner with appetizer platters of Saganaki, Taramosalata, Gyros, and spit-roasted slices of lamb and beef, followed by a Greek salad. 'Jeez,' I thought, with a grin, 'remind me to get a translator, next time.'
For the main courses, we were served Moussaka, roast suckling pig, Pastitsio, and Dolmades. The waiter exclaimed, "Kali Orexi!" - 'Good appetite!' - as we dug in. He continued to pour beer for everyone except the two older Franklin men, who were the designated drivers.
After desert of Baklava, Dad paid the bill but George and Joe Senior insisted on handling the tip. A very generous tip. We left after warm hugs and handshakes. Uncle Sid drove the Evanston contingent home while Bill and I hopped in Dad's SUV.
"Jerry, I haven't had so much fun for a long time. We've got to do this again," Dad replied, as he stopped on Astor Street.
"Maybe not for a few months. But, yeah Dad, I'd like that." I grabbed his shoulder, reaching over from the back seat. Bill was sitting in the front seat with Dad.
"Dr. Franklin, thanks for including me. The family outing was great," Bill added.
"First of all, Bill, it's not Dr. Franklin. I think it's about time you called me John, or, better yet, dad. You are part of the family now. Happily so, I might add." Dad extended his hand and shook Bill's hand firmly.
"Okay...John...Dad. I appreciate that. And I think we can do this again in early November," Bill said.
"How so?" I asked, placing my free right hand on Bill's shoulder." 'This was about the extent of being physical in front of Dad,' I judged, 'for right now.'
"American Foundry has a 50 yard line enclosed Club Box in the new stadium for the Bears. Why don't I ask George about reserving one of the home games for all of us? I think he'd enjoy it. You saw the way he really dug today's event. And, John, see if you can spring Coulter loose for the game, once we get a date." Dad smiled at the use of his first name.
"Bill, that's a great idea. And maybe steak at Gibsons on Rush Street afterwards?" I suggested.
"I'll work on it first thing tomorrow while the iron is hot," Bill said to both of us with a confident smile.
"Gotta go, guys," I said, sliding out of the back seat. Once at the passenger side, I shook Bill's hand and added, "I'll call you tomorrow afternoon." Walking around to the driver's side, I concluded, "Dad, thanks for everything. I'll call Uncle Sid in the morning."
"Jerry, get some rest. This is going to be a difficult week for you. Love you, Son."
"Love ya right back. See you Wednesday. Say hi to Mom." I waved and watched Dad and Bill drive away.
I spent Monday and Tuesday editing the final business plan for Franklin Associates. All work done was on my laptop so that nothing would be traced on the office PC's. Early Tuesday afternoon, Ben called from New York to confirm that the merger/purchase had been completed and McKenney would take over Wednesday morning.
~~~ "Jerry, it's been a good ride. I'm going to miss working with you."
"We've gone through a lot, Ben, but I think our record speaks well for both of us. You're all set coming out here for the Columbus Day weekend?"
~~~ "Absolutely. Beth and I look forward to it."
"Much will happen in the next month. As I mentioned last week, I've got some ideas about us getting together down the road."
~~~ "I'm ready to listen. By the way, the partnership payout has been direct-deposited to your account. You're a little under two mil richer as of 11:00 a.m. this morning."
"Wow, that's more that I thought would be coming my way. That's very generous."
~~~ "Dad, well, both of us, are very appreciative of the business you brought to the company. Trust me, your payout didn't put a dent in Dad's account...nor, mine."
"Thanks, buddy. It means I can pay back a family loan right away. And I'll buy all the troops a little champagne before closing time. I'm going to announce my departure then."
~~~ "Put it on the company card. It's yours to use until midnight."
"No, Ben. I don't want that shithead Paul Porter having any ammo to accuse me of misusing company funds."
~~~ "Okay. A clean break. Probably a good idea. I don't know who from McKenney will be over at the office tomorrow morning to officially assume the operation. You'll be there as planned to give whomever a rundown on the office?"
"Yeah. I'll show up at 7:30 a.m. You should be aware that five of the staff submitted resignations."
~~~ "Do I want to know the details?"
"Why don't I just say that they are taking advantage of the merger to move on to new opportunities." I gave Ben the names of the resigning staff.
~~~ "As far as McKenney is concerned, it will just be less dead wood to weed out. But, Jerry, this sounds like something we will be discussing in the future?"
"Could be, Ben."
~~~ "Would you call me at my home Saturday morning? It will be completely off-record."
"Will do, boss."
~~~ "Boss for only three more hours. Take care, Jerry. And keep your back covered. Bye."
I hung up and asked Joe to go over to Treasure Island and buy a chilled case of Vieuve Cliquot Yellow Label. I had bought a couple dozen of inexpensive champagne glasses from Crate and Barrel yesterday. They were in a spare office, along with several collapsible 'banker boxes.' On the office PC I typed an 'Urgent' email to all the Martin staff officially notifying them that the merger was completed and invited all to join me for a champagne toast at 4:00 p.m.
Starting with Alice, I quietly informed my new Franklin Associates colleagues that they should submit resignation letters. It would be part of the documents McKenney's people would have. After work, Alice, Joe, three others, and I would pack the personal effects from our offices in the 'banker boxes' and then depart to a little post-Martin dinner I was having catered at home at seven. Bill and Sammy would be in around 6:00 p.m. to help the final packing.
I commandeered a center desk in the open area and, with the help of Joe, staged the cold champagne and glasses. Everyone slowly gathered around the desk as we poured the bubbly. Once all were present, I asked Alice to turn on the night telephone answering service and asked for everyone's attention.
"Guys, this is it. As you are aware, Martin Consulting will become part of McKenney tomorrow morning. Alice, would you pass out the final checks? For those of you on direct deposit, the home office took care of that detail this morning. You will notice all vacation accrued is on the final check."
"Thanks, Jerry. I can use the vacation money for the kids. Back to school was expensive this year," mentioned a senior analyst.
When Alice was finished, I continued. "I wanted to spend a few minutes expressing my sincere thanks for the outstanding work you've done. Our office has been a very successful part of the old company. Tomorrow is a brand new chapter for most of you."
"Most? What's up Jerry?" asked one of the older associates. There was a momentary murmer in the group.
"Tomorrow, I will officially turn over the office and all files to a representative of McKenney. I'm not sure who that will be. Perhaps Paul Porter, who runs their Chicago office. At that point, I assume that you will be told who will supervise this office until they decide whether to consolidate the offices."
"You're not going to be with us?" asked another associate.
"Let's say that Mr. Porter and I are not compatible. But that doesn't mean that you don't have great futures ahead with McKenney." I was very cautious and edited about my comments. 'No quotes that would come back to bite me in the ass,' I considered.
"What are you going to do, Jerry?" asked one of the pool secretaries.
"I plan on going out on my own. Basically the same thing I've done with Martin...just on a much smaller scale. I'd appreciate your not speaking much about this outside the group. An official announcement will come out next week."
"You're doing this by yourself?" The older associate's eyes were wide with an expression of incredibility.
"Actually, Bob, I have invited a few in this room to join me." I candidly announced that Alice, Joe, and three others I named had resigned and would be part of Franklin Associates. "If I could take all of you, I would. It's just not in the cards...right now."
"Think of me down the road, boss. You've really proven yourself. I'll miss you," replied Bob, a 15 year Martin veteran. There were several "yes" and "hear hear" comments in the crowd.
"If everything goes as planned, I will need additional staff. I have all your contact numbers, as you have mine. In the meantime, allow me to toast you. It's been a terrific three years." We all raised glasses and quietly drank a long sip.
"Finish the champagne before you leave, guys," said Joe, who walked around and poured re-fills.
"And, the party will continue at my place. Cocktails start promptly at seven and a buffet a little later."
"Kinda like the last supper?"
"Naw. Just a gathering as friends to mark this event. And that's what you guys are. Friends. I don't see a Judas in the group. And I am serious about staying in touch," I replied.
There was a steady stream of well-wishers before everyone except my new crew departed. The six of us packed our personal effects. Bill and Sammy arrived at the appointed hour to help us move the packed boxes.
"Guys, I wanted to say this only for you," I said to my new little group. "Starting tomorrow, you are officially on Franklin Associates payroll. And my first act is to give you three days paid vacation."
"Jerry, I can use a little 'R 'n R'," Joe said. "Thanks."
"You earned it, partner," I said directly to Joe. "You all have. And starting next Monday, we will all hit the deck running. I'll meet everyone at our temporary new offices at 8:00 a.m. Bring all your stuff and anything that needs to be uploaded into your computers." Several had developed custom programs and templates for their own use. "We'll get the email system fired up then."
"How do we handle the questions at the party tonight?" asked Barbara, the accounting specialist.
"Be positive, but vague. You all know about the press conference next Wednesday. But I don't want to go into that. As you know, officially tomorrow, all of us are now competitors with our former colleagues. From what I've learned the hard way, loyalty goes with the paycheck. They have a responsibility to the new company they're working for. But tonight, let's have fun."
After loading our various vehicles, I locked the office and the group dispersed. The cocktails and buffet dinner was a smashing success. Calihan Catering, the official caterer for the Lyric Opera, had arrived earlier in the afternoon, let in by Rosie, my cleaning lady. They provided elegant food and professional service. 'Thank goodness for the bonus money,' I considered. With the staff and their significant others, the total bill for the 40 guests crept close to $8,000 after a generous gratuity. The party ended around 9:30 p.m., and the catering staff, Joe and Sammy left an hour later. Bill went upstairs to the quiet of the bedroom, while I made sure Mr. Charley had water and a clean litter box.
Bill was standing butt naked when I joined him moments later. "Hey, babe. Alone at last," I said, walking over to him, marveling that this handsome man was part of my life. I kissed him and gave his beautiful resting cock a yank.
"You trying to start something you can't finish?" he said with a chuckle.
"Oh, I think that we'll both be finished before midnight," I said, taking off my shirt and loafers simultaneously. Bill helped me out of my pants, and I gave him a small peck before going to the bathroom for flossing and brushing. "Be right back, stud."
When I returned a few minutes later, Bill had all the lights off except one portrait light, and the satellite radio was tuned to the jazz channel with Keely Smith singing, "I Can't Stop Loving You." In the center of the turned-down bed, he lay with a relaxed contentment except for his cock that was being awakened with a slow stroking motion. I smiled as I got into bed and scooted up next to him. He adjusted his body for my leg to straddle him.
"Hon, thanks for helping me tonight. Saying good bye to the staff was very important."
"Jerry, you are very important to them. And, to me," he said, before leaning up to catch my kiss. Our tongues circled and vigorously lapped each other before he yielded to me. I felt his hardness pressing against my groin as mine pressed against his thigh.
"No more important than you are to me. I love you, Mr. Saunders. I'm completely yours." I started grinding against him, causing both dicks to feel the friction with determination.
"And I surrender myself to you, Mr. Franklin. Love is such a small word with so many large complications. But, love you I do, with all the implications." I moved between his legs and parked my hard-on next to his. "Make love to me now," Bill said with a husky urgency.
"Yes, babe. My pleasure," I softly replied. Reaching over for the lube, I heard Josh Groban singing:
When you say you love me
the world goes still, so still inside and
when you say you love me
in that moment, I know why I'm alive.
True to my word to Ben, I arrived at the office and left the reception foyer door unlocked. Turning on the WGN9 morning news in my now former office, I watched the local program with a somewhat lustful eye. The morning anchor, Larry Potash, was a major cutie. Around 7:45 a.m., I heard the front office door open. Clicking off the TV, I left my office to greet whoever was coming over from McKenney. My fists clinched behind my back when, standing at my office doorway, the image of Paul Porter appeared.
I took a short breath, paused with a forced smile and said, "Well, Porter, welcome to your new turf. I'm surprised that you would be over here yourself. What I can to facilitate the turnover?"
"Franklin, I've waited for this day. Get the fuck out of here...now. You're on my property, and it gives me nothing but pleasure to see you with no power."
Staying calm, I gestured with my arm and stepped aside the door. "Here's the office and all the keys are on the desk. Pal, I'm outta here." I glared at him while walking briskly to the reception foyer and out the door.
"The unemployment office is over on Clark Street," he yelled. 'Unemployment?' I thought, as I punched the 'down' elevator button. 'That asshole has been sniffing too much office glue.'
When I reached the ground floor, I walked out to Michigan Avenue and entered Rick Petrillo's number on my cell phone, and hit 'send.'
~~~ "Hey, Jerry. Pretty early for a call," answered my private investigator.
"Hi, Rick. If you're free, I'd like to buy you breakfast."
~~~ "I never turn down a free meal. Where do you want to meet?"
"How about the Corner Bakery on Rush Street?"
~~~ "See ya in 20. Bye."
TO BE CONTINUED