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 22, OUT OF THE ASHES
After dinner and the intense romantic interlude, we cleaned up the kitchen and watched the 9:00 p.m. WGN news. I was interested in how the authorities were handling the Porter situation from the police and sheriff's press conference earlier.
Paul Porter had been arrested on the charges of lewd and lascivious conduct and arraigned. After pleading 'not guilty,' he was freed with a one million dollar bond posted. Investigative reporters, with enough time to massage some meat on the bones of the initial story, had come up with a background of the mother who used her daughter to satisfy Porter's twisted sexual appetite.
The mother, originally from Milwaukee, was a model who had been arrested twice in Wisconsin for prostitution and solicitation in the past two years. She re-located to the northern Chicago suburb of Highwood last fall. Her daughter, now a ward of the state, would live in a correctional home for minor girls until a judge decided her fate. The reporter said that most likely the young girl would be considered a victim of abuse initiated by the mother and Porter.
Bill and I decided to call it an early night. Shortly after the early news we went to bed and nuzzled, letting the warmth and closeness of each other's bodies act as a human security blanket.
Friday morning breakfast consisted of cereal and coffee, while we scanned the morning Trib. The newspaper's top headline blared 'Exec Charged With Sex Crime', with the smaller headlines and lead story taking the entire right column of page one. After we discussed the lead story, Bill and I scanned the other sections. It was very comfortable to have private moments in the morning like this with my lover at the breakfast table, sharing the start of a day. The bright, morning sun created glistening sparkles on the still lake and on the dynamic, architectural skyline in the distance.
Bill left for work, and I checked for messages on my cell phone. Both Dad and Coulter had called. I would return those this evening. Joe Jenrette inquired about having lunch, and there were three messages from Ben in New York. Looking at the wall clock, I noticed that it was 11:00 a.m. back east. I punched in Ben's number.
~~~ "Jerry, where the hell have you been? I've been trying to reach you since yesterday.
"Well, buddy, as you recall, I am no longer employed. I'm relaxing and lying low for a few days. Anything of interest about which you want to talk with me?" I said innocently with a smile in my voice.
~~~ "Bastard," Ben replied with a chuckle. "Here I am in a war zone my third day on the job at McKenney, and you're pulling my chain."
"Seriously, I'm sorry. I shouldn't joke about it. Porter's in deep shit, and I was being insensitive." I gave Ben a rundown of my confrontation in the old office Wednesday morning with Porter. "What's going on at the McKenney office?"
~~~ "Old man McKenney is livid, and Burson-Marsteller is working overtime on PR damage control without much luck. Pedophilia and being charged as a sexual predator with a minor is always ugly. Someone of prominence, such as Paul Porter, makes headlines. It was on page three of the Times with a picture. And the Post is having a field day. I assume that it's worse in Chicago?"
~~~ "Yeah. TV and the Tribune are treating it as the lead story. Big headlines. I haven't seen the Sun-Times. But I can just imagine their tabloid page one. Listen, Ben, I'm truly sorry that you're experiencing the backwash of this mess. And to think that I'd be in the same fix if Porter hadn't 86'd me."
~~~ "I'll survive. But this is a scandal that's going to hurt McKenney's business."
"Be happy that your dad insisted on cash rather than stock in the company."
~~~ "Yep, a real good decision. How about you? You kind of alluded to a new venture. What's up?"
"Ben, is this my old friend asking or a VP of McKenney? I don't want to compromise your integrity."
~~~ "The way I'm feeling...fuck McKenney. This is strictly friend to friend."
"Basically, I'm going to go out on my own with the former Martin people I told you about. The release is scheduled for distribution next week. I'll do a few interviews with the business editors of the media."
~~~ "So, if McKenney were to call you about heading up their Chicago office, you'd turn it down?" Ben said with a sly inflection.
"A day late and a dollar short. Are you telling me that the topic has come up?"
~~~ "The old man's number two casually asked me about you this morning. He wasn't happy that you weren't moving into the company. I told him about Porter's treatment of you when the merger plans first were hatched. That really pissed him off. My guess is that, on top of everything else, Porter is toast. You may be getting a call from him, Jerry."
"Thanks for the info. Just don't give him my cell number. My answering service at home will inform any caller that I'm out of town and cut off before anyone can leave messages. You're still planning on coming out to Chicago next month? I've got tickets for the Goodman and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra lined up."
~~~ "Absolutely. Megan and I wouldn't miss it. And I think that we've got some talking to do. I'm obligated to stay at McKenney for one year. But after that, I'm available to do something else."
"Ben, I hope that includes you and me. I've got some ideas that would fall into that timeframe. Let's talk some more next week after my official announcement?"
~~~ "You got it. Good luck, Jerry."
"You, too. Bye."
I next called Joe and confirmed a lunch date. We decided on the Ann Sather Broadway Café at 12:30 p.m. He was very anxious to get my read on the Porter situation and relieved not to be part of the organization. I decided to swing by Astor Street before lunch. The advance copies of the Tribune Sunday Magazine should have arrived in yesterday's mail.
The Ann Sather on Broadway was smaller than the original on Belmont but had a good, mixed crowd for lunch, being not far from Boystown. The owner was highly visible as Chicago's only gay alderman and was very supportive of GLBT causes. The gay and lesbian community supported him back. I arrived a little early, ordered iced tea and decided to read the Sun-Times that had been left at the front door. Everyone was very casual, and I didn't look out of place in jeans, a tee and an unbuttoned shirt hanging loosely.
Flipping through the tabloid, I decided that the Sun-Times had most of the same details as the Tribune. Looking up from the paper, I noticed Jerry enter the restaurant. I was amused to see him, except for khakis, in similar dress. 'He is one sharp, loyal dude,' I thought. 'I'm lucky to have him for a friend and business partner.'
"Hey, partner," said Jerry, easing into a chair while pointing at the newspaper. "Some shit, huh?"
"Yeah, heavy duty. I guess we bailed at the right time?"
"Absolutely, Joe. But I feel sorry for our former associates. God knows what will happen to them. I hear a new consulting firm is opening shop soon. Wouldn't be surprised if this new company picked up some of McKenney's clients." Jerry smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
"I guess we're all going to hit the deck running next week?"
"Running is the key word. While I'm with Margie Korman finalizing the launch, you can use Monday to set up the working spaces at American Foundry. I'll come out to our office Tuesday, meet with everyone and review our tasks for the rest of the year. I plan, with Bill's help, to bring all of my stuff over this weekend and set up my space. Are all the computers up and networking?"
"Yeah. The Dell equipment you bought is sweet."
"Great. I'll check the system tomorrow. Would you make sure all the guys are at the Four Seasons by 11:00 a.m. Thursday, the 23rd? We can have a final planning session at the hotel before the press buffet and conference at 12:30 p.m. It's important that we come off very positive. And not a peep about McKenney or Porter. Let them stew in their own bad broth. I'll be in touch with Alice, so don't worry about her."
"I'll let everyone know, Jerry." The waiter came to our table, and we both ordered hot turkey sandwiches with their homemade bread and real mashed potatoes. Jerry ordered iced tea also. He then gave me a copy of a Tribune Sunday Magazine. I recognized the standard cover layout but was astounded when I saw Jerry's smiling face taking the entire space. When I saw the date for this Sunday, I added, "The timing couldn't be better. This is fantastic." I turned to the story and more pictures.
"This leads off our press assault. Take this home with you, and read it. It's a terrific fluff piece. Cheryl Lavin did a great job writing."
"Kind of trumps our competitor's mess, doesn't it?"
"Yes. That wasn't the idea, originally, but it works now. And on a positive note, Joe, if we do get the business cranking, we'll be able to increase our staff with some of our former associates."
"I'm counting on that. There are a few other guys I'd love to work with again."
"We're going to be busy networking the next month and re-establishing contact with our old clients. I feel good about our prospects," Jerry added, as our food arrived. We both dove in to our plates with gusto.
"These old Swedish recipes really hit the mark. I understand that the original Ann Sather wouldn't sell the restaurant until she was convinced that the guy buying the place knew all the recipes," I volunteered.
"He's done a good job of maintaining the quality. By the way, how goes it with Sammy and you?"
"Really super. He's back in school and carrying a pretty heavy load, so we get together only on weekends. In fact, he's meeting me at my place later today," I said with a contented smile. "He usually spends Friday and Saturday nights at the condo."
"I'm really happy for you two and for both your families' acceptance. You've got a great guy: smart, dynamic, handsome..."
"And fantastic when we're intimate. But I guess, Jerry, that you know what I mean?" My smile was upgraded to a 'shit-eating grin.'
"Why, that little imp," Jerry rejoined with a raised eyebrow and smile. "He must have told you how we met?"
"To be fair, Sammy kinda slipped up talking about you one time, and I squeezed the story out of him. I think it's cute. My lover can be pretty persuasive."
"Joe, I was pretty vulnerable at the time. Here's this fucking, hot guy coming on to me while I'm going through a real crappy period with Matt. But fate was rewarding this time. We both lucked out with great men."
"Yes, and I lucked out with a great friend and business partner. Thanks, Jerry, for having faith in me."
"Buddy, you're going to earn that ten-fold. This is going to be an extremely busy time for both of us. Just allow me to offer some advice from one who's been there. Always make time for Sammy. I'll do the same with Bill."
"Good advice," I replied, as we demolished lunch. Before I could grab the bill, Jerry paid the check and allowed me to leave the tip. We parted ways and promised to talk Monday.
Only another 15 minutes of Business Law and the weekend would be mine. I could leave the classroom and make it to the parking lot by 4:15 p.m. With moderate reverse commute traffic, I would be at Joe's place by five.
I nodded to the doorman as I walked through the lobby to the elevators with a backpack full of books. Most of the staff recognized me as Joe Jenrette's roommate. Waiting for an elevator, I heard the steps of a resident coming my way from the mailroom.
"Hey, hot stuff. You want to stop off at my place on your way up?" I recognized the voice behind me as Joe's.
"I'm sorry, mister. You'll have to wait in line. I'm servicing this stud up on 14," I answered coyly without turning around, wiggling my butt.
"Buddy, I'm the stud on 14, and the line starts here," Joe said, as he playfully goosed me. Just then the elevator doors opened, and we walked in. I turned and smiled at him as the doors closed. Hitting "14" on the console, I reached around him and leaned in for a kiss.
"Hi, Joe. Good timing." 'It was always stimulating to breathe his clean scent and look into his dark sparkling eyes,' I thought.
"Hi, yourself. God, that backpack feels loaded," he said, as he ground his crotch into mine.
"Got lots of studying to do this weekend. Need about three hours tonight and most of the weekend during the daytime. I'm reserving later tonight for you, lover."
"And, Saturday night?" he asked.
"Date night, of course. Dinner and movie with my best bud," I answered with a broad grin. The elevator doors opened on our floor, and we proceeded to the condo. I took off the heavy backpack and set it by the coat closet door. Joe ran through the mail he had picked up before setting the envelopes on the hallway table.
"Just bills. Sammy, here's a plan I propose for tonight. Get organized, and start your homework. I'll run down to Treasure Island and get a roasted chicken, some vegetables and salad. I figure we'll be ready to eat about six."
"Sounds good. I can get an hour in before dinner and a couple of hours afterwards. Let's plan on some quality time in your bedroom around 9:00 p.m. and then go out and dance a little bit?"
"Do I detect that my buddy is just a tad bit horny?" Joe said with a laugh. He took me in his arms and I literally melted.
"Even jerkin' off doesn't help, knowing I've got the real thing here. I can hardly wait 'til we get a place together next year." I let him hug me tightly, as he tenderly kissed me everywhere on my face.
"Damn, you got me hard. I hope it doesn't show at the market," Joe said with a leer.
"Buddy, that bulge of yours would scare small children," I answered. "Speaking of small children, did you have a chance to talk to Jerry about that Porter character and all the shit about the guy screwing a minor?"
"Had lunch with him today. Why don't I get the food, and I'll give you the rundown of what he said at dinner? Oh, look on the coffee table. There's an advance copy of this week's Tribune Sunday Magazine. They did the cover story on Jerry. Excellent PR."
"Okay, babe. Hurry back." Joe grabbed his car keys and waved as he left. I went into the bedroom and got out of my jeans, shirt, and Topsiders in favor of gym shorts and a tee. Padding barefooted back to the living room, I grabbed the magazine and immediately was impressed by Jerry's handsome face on the cover. Reading the story, I marveled at the turn of events in all our lives these past three months.
When Joe returned, I was deeply engrossed in case business law. "Let me know when I need to clear the dining table of my books and papers," I said to him, as he was arranging his grocery purchases.
"No problem. I'll nuke the broccoli, throw the salad greens together and carve up this little devil. Give me ten minutes."
"Just holler, and I'll set the table," I offered while turning a page.
Right at 6:00 p.m., Joe said, "I'm hollering." I cleared the table of my school stuff and got out the flatware, napkins and glasses. Tonight would be a Pepsi night for me, so I could concentrate on studies after dinner.
"Do you want a Pepsi or sumpin else?" I asked, flipping on the CD.
"I'll grab a beer," he replied. In the background Beyoncé was singing, 'Dangerously in Love', as Joe came into the dining area with a Heineken's and a Pepsi. I immediately went into the kitchen and got the salads. Joe returned, and we plated the chicken and broccoli.
"Dad set aside the company box seats for us next month," I said as we ate. We'll be playing St. Louis."
"That'll be fun. I don't think the Bears will be favored, though. It's kinda like the Cubs with football cleats," Joe added with a chuckle. We were both tiny tots when the Chicago Bears last had a winning team.
"But major time with dads and friends," I added. Speaking of friends, how's Jerry doing and what's his read on that Porter mess."
"That dickhead Porter dug his own grave. I mean, a kid for Christ's sake. Jerry thinks that the guy is dead meat, and McKenney is going to be affected. He's roaring to go with our new company. Starting Monday, it's going to be a very busy time for all of us."
"I can imagine starting up will take a lot of energy as well as time?" I asked.
"Yeah. But Jerry gave me some good advice today."
"That with all this going down to get our new business up and running profitably, always save time for the ones you love," Joe said with a warm look into my eyes. I melted.
"Hon, good advice for both of us. I promise to do the same." I reached over and squeezed his hand, before we continued eating.
The rest of the dinner focused around the new venture and what was happening next week. As we finished, Joe cleared the table, and I re-organized my books and notes. Returning to the dining area, Joe stood next to me and said, "I'm going to the bedroom and do a little reading or watch TV. Let's coordinate our watches, Sammy. It's now 6:50 p.m. At nine, I expect to see you coming through the bedroom door without a stitch of clothing on and the CD playing Ravel's Boléro."
"Why, Mr. Jenrette, I suspect that you plan on having sex with me?" I said with a grin. I moved my hand down to his crotch and massaged the outline of his cock beneath the denim.
"No, babe. Having sex is just getting our rocks off. I plan on making love to you tonight. I'm just setting the scene."
"And I plan on returning your love," I answered. "Now scoot, and let me concentrate." We lightly kissed, and Joe disappeared to the bedroom. I sat down and, after adjusting my boner, opened the psych text.
"Yeah, Dad. That's about it. This whole Porter scandal will play well into our announcement on Thursday."
~~~ "What are your plans for the weekend?"
"Tonight, Bill and I are going over to MK for dinner for a little R 'n' R." The whole family loved Michael Kornick's cooking. "But tomorrow and Sunday we're moving my stuff over to the new digs and setting up the office. It's going to be exhausting but necessary."
~~~ "Don't overdo it. You've got a busy week coming up.
"Don't worry, Doc," I said with a laugh. "Bill will pace me. By the way, I sent Mom and you an advance copy of the Tribune Sunday Magazine by next day delivery. You should be getting it tomorrow first thing. I'm really happy about the story and pictures. It's good for the ego but great for the business."
~~~ "Jerry, I'll look out for it."
"And tell all the assorted Franklins and O'Reillys to look for it Sunday."
~~~ "Will do. Say hi to Bill. Call Sunday night?"
"You bet, Dad. Bye."
"Dad and Coulter both pass on their regards." Bill looked terrific in gray slacks and a navy, cashmere sweater. I was still in a terry robe." You wanna fix a us a drink while I throw on some clothes?" It was 7:00 p.m., and we had reservations at eight.
"Good idea. Martinis?"
"Yep. Ketel One and a splash, please. And..."
"I know. And dirty yours with olive juice," Bill said, interrupting.
"My man is always on top of the situation," I answered with a laugh, going to the bedroom.
I quickly found a good combination with a Joseph Abboud burgundy wool shirt and Etro pinstriped trousers. 'Not bad,' I judged, looking in the mirror. I didn't want to dress similar to Bill. Smiling, I returned to my lover and a dirty martini.
"Hey, babe. Looking good," Bill said, handing me the cocktail. "Although I vaguely recognize the shirt."
"Yours. Guilty as charged. But it really works well with my pants. I was going to wear a sweater also. Decided on a last minute change."
"Jerry, what's mine is yours. As a matter of fact, I believe the sweater I'm wearing is yours," he replied with a chuckle.
I went up to him for a light kiss. "Let's make a pact that we work out so that we can keep our same size. It's great that we both have doubled our wardrobes."
"Speaking of size, I've got some ideas about what we can do back here after dinner," Bill stated with a lascivious grin, after wiping his lips with his tongue.
"Bragging or complaining?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Neither. I find the size just right." We toasted with a clink of the glasses and walked over to the window to watch the darkening cityscape below us.
(TO BE CONTINUED)