Those Golden Eyes
Joe studied Dave's face for a moment. It wasn't a face that could hide a secret. Why then was he feeling like he was? He looked at his feet. Why was he feeling like an ass. It was Dave that was keeping things from him, not the other way around.
"I saw in the paper that Mrs. Way died."
"Yeah, no more hassles from her."
" The article also said that her entire estate went to one David L. Gates. So that's what Dr. Sanderson was talking about."
" Shit!" Dave grimaced. "Yeah, her lawyer came to see me yesterday and told me about it."
"You've known since yesterday?"
"Yes. The lawyer was there just before the accident."
"That's another thing. If Sue hadn't call me I probably wouldn't have known the details on that. You've known about the inheritance since yesterday and I still haven't been told by you about it. I have to read things in the paper and hear things third hand to find out what's happening in your life. Were you even planning on telling me?"
Dave leaned against the counter, his head dropped forward, his chin rested on his chest. He didn't understand why Joe was attacking him. Suddenly everything was too much for him to handle, the inheritance, the accident, Pete laying in a hospital bed with broken bones, and now Joe going off the deep end at him. He started shaking. He slid down the cabinet and sat down on the floor and leaned back against it. He covered his face with his hands.
"Of course I was planning on telling you. Yesterday. Right after the lawyer left I was on my way home. I was going to call you to ask you to come home. I was going to tell you then. I was crossing the street out front when I heard someone yell and suddenly I was knocked off my feet and went rolling. When I heard the tires screaming, the only thought in my head was I wouldn't get to see you again. Then, I realized I wasn't hurt, that Pete had been hit, taking care of him was all that seemed important at the moment.
"When things slowed down a bit at the hospital, I tried to get through to you, but got no answer. I called Sue and asked her to keep trying your number until she got you to let you know I was okay. That's why you heard it from her rather than me.
" Telling you about the inheritance slipped my mind. It wasn't as important as doing everything I could do to make things as good as they could be for Pete and his parents. That money just wasn't important at the moment." He looked up at Joe. "Please, don't be upset with me. That's more than I could handle right now."
Joe was ashamed of himself. He had to get a handle on his reactions. Dave was not Eric. Dave didn't have a deceitful bone in his body. He knew there was no reason for Dave to try to deceive him about anything. He dropped to his knees in front of Dave,taking his hands in his.
"Dave, I'm sorry. I didn't stop to think about what you might be going through. I just get defensive and paranoid about things. I have no reason to be upset with you. Forgive me?"
He stood and pulled Dave to his feet. He embraced him tightly.
"You don't deserve my distrust. I'm such an idiot some times."
"As long as you're my idiot, your forgiven." Dave's voice was muffled in Joe's shirt. He let out a shuddering sigh, pushed back and smiled at Joe. His eyes were golden as he looked back at Dave.
"Are you going to help me make dinner?" Dave asked grinding his pelvis into Joe's thigh.
"No, I think I'll just stand here and hold you for a while."
"And then will you? Huh, Joe, huh?"
"Okay, if you insist."Joe laughed at Dave's little boy antics.
As the two men worked Dave filled Joe in on what he had done with his day.
"Do you think that five is enough?" Joe asked. "With all the money at your command that seems like a mere pittance."
"Well, I discussed it with Clyde. Gee, it feels funny addressing a big time lawyer by his first name. Anyway, he thought that five was more than enough."
"Well, I think it was about time that you made Sue a partner in the store. She's worked for you for how many years? Sixteen? Not only does she deserve it. It gives you a chance to get away."
"Don't give me the credit. It was your idea."
"Well, it's still a good idea."
Dave laid down the knife with which he had been slicing fresh fennel. He turned Joe away from the stove where he was sauteing onions and peppers. Joe enfolded him in his big strong arms, with his wooden spoon held above Dave's head. After a minute or so Joe pushed back.
"The onions are going to scorch."
Dave smiled and patted Joe's beloved rear end.
The intercom chimed. Joe pushed the pan off the burner and answered it.
"Miz Morrow is on her way up."
"Thanks, Tim. Oh, you don't like pasta with Sausage and Peppers, do you?"
"Nah." He chuckled. "You know Joe for a smart guy you sure can ask dumb questions."
"Hey, you insult me you don't get fed."
"I just said you are a smart guy." Tim whined.
"Yeah, but I ask dumb questions. Huh?"
"I'm hung no matter how I answer."
"That's what Johnny tells me."
"What?" Tim's voice went up an octave. " Johnny told you that?"
"Gotta run, Tim, Sue just arrived." Joe closed the connection. Chuckling to himself, he trotted over to the elevator.
"Hey, new partner." Joe said giving her a big hug. "Congratulations, and welcome."
The Tower was situated so that it could be seen from the far end of one of the main promenades that ran the length of the campus. The Petersons left their hotel and strolled to the middle of the campus and turned left on the main promenade. They stopped and gazed at the concrete and glass structure. It was at once delicate looking and at the same time it had a strength about it that was truly impressive. They walked towards it not realizing it was still three blocks away. They could see what they thought were bushes on top of the building surrounding the Penthouse. As they got closer the building loomed over them. The bushes on top of the building turned into full grown shade trees. They timidly entered the grand lobby. The guard desk stood empty in front of them. They looked around waiting. George studied several award plaques on a wall. They were all awarded to an J.V.Paolini, Architect/ Builder.
The young guard came around the corner. When he saw them he smiled.
"Mr. and Mrs. Peterson?"
George caught off guard cleared his throat.
"Yes, yes we are."
"Dave and Joe are waiting for you. If you'll just step into the opened elevator around the corner here, it will whisk you up to them."
They scurried over to the elevator, afraid the door might close before they got to it. Elevators always do that kind of thing. They stood waiting. There were buttons but no indication of what they might do if pressed. Without warning the door quietly closed and they could feel the gravity increase as they were rushed up the inside of the building. The gravity decreased without them noticing. The door opened. Dave was standing there smiling, with his hands extended in welcome. They sighed with relief and stepped out to accept his warm hospitality.
"Welcome to our humble abode, Pat," He hugged her. "George." He shook his hand. "Come meet the others and then I'll give you a tour if you like." Dave couldn't help but note how their eyes continually bounced over everything.
"I would love that, Dave. I've never seen a private home that was so beautiful, so luxurious."
"Why thank you, Pat."
They stepped through large glass doors into a garden. The trees they had seen from the ground were now over their heads.
"We're on top of the building, George. This is the penthouse we could see."Pat said, her voice full of awe.
Dave smiled and didn't respond.
"Joe, Sue, I'd like you to meet Pete's parents, George and Pat Peterson. This is Sue Morrow, my store manager and business partner. And this is Joe Paolini my partner."
"It's nice to meet you, George, Pat." Joe said, shaking hands with them. "You son has made me one happy man. You must be very proud of him."
They didn't weren't certain that they comprehended what he meant, but they were certainly proud of their son.
"Joe are you the J.V.Paolini mentioned on the award plaques down in the lobby?"
"Yes ,I am, George."
"Impressive. Very impressive."
They all talked and visited over hors d'oeuvres and a fruity light white Zinfandel. Dave excused himself and went to the kitchen. Pat followed him offering to help.
"I think I have every thing under control, but if you want to dress and toss the salad----."
Joe rushed into the kitchen.
"I forgot about the brother in law."
He pulled out the tea cart and set a place mat and silverware on it. He grabbed a plate and filled it with pasta that had been mixed with thesausages, peppers and Onions. Next a salad and a glass of Chianti. Pat stood to the side watching him.
"Why isn't he joining us for dinner? She asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"He's on duty at the desk."
"How many sisters do you have, Joe?" Pat asked , not to be nosy but to cover her discomfort standing in the kitchen with two men busy putting a big dinner together while she helplessly watched.
In his rush to get the cart ready and down stairs before dinner was on the table the question confused him, he paused and looked at her.
"Two, but Tim's not married to either of them."
"But you called him brother in law."
"Yeah he is." Joe found himself being aggravated by her nosiness. "He and my brother Johnny, who is a police detective, just hooked up."
She finished dressing the salad and slinked back out to the patio. She sat close to her husband. A moment later, Sue excused herself to use the necessary before dinner.
In the kitchen Dave had stopped what he was doing and stared at Joe.
"That was not kind, Babe."
"She wasn't prepared to hear what you told her. You shocked her."
"You think I did?" He was still a little irritated.
"I know you did. I was watching her reaction."
"You think I should go apologize?"
"No, let's see how she manages it."
As soon as Sue had stepped into the house Pat turned to her husband.
"George, Joe just told me that big guard in the lobby is married to his brother who is a police detective, like... it's no big deal. And he's making up a dinner for him, too."
"That's good of him. He must like the young man."
"Don't you get it, George? The guard is a homosexual."She thought for a moment. "Do you think that Dave and Joe are, too?"
"Does it really matter, Pat? They are good men. I like both of them."
"Even if they're queers?"
"Doesn't matter to me. We know several men at home that are that way."
"Who, besides my abominable brother?"
"Pat, I'm not going to tell you. You're obviously upset by this."
"Well, it's not normal. And God doesn't approve of them,. Reverend Gibson said so again just last Sunday."
"Has God made a mistake here?"
"God doesn't make mistakes." She declared.
"But he made us right?"
She hesitated to answer, not sure that she was liking where he was leading.
"So if God made us the way we are, then he obviously made them the way they are. And God does not make mistakes. Think about it, Pat. And while your at it consider how you would react if you son were to tell you that he is gay, too."
"Pete's queer?" The horror of the thought filled her eyes.
"I didn't say that, Pat. I just suggested that you consider how you would react. You love him as he is. If he were Gay, would he be different than what he is now? These are good men who have invited us into their home to share a meal with them. Please, behave yourself and be nice to them."
Dave stood at the door, having come to tell them that dinner was ready. He had heard most of the conversation. His heart warmed toward George. He was a good man. Dave made a little noise to let them know he was there.
"Dinner is on the table."
Joe and Dave were seated at each end with Sue on one side and George and Pat on the other. Pat was quiet all through dinner. She was obviously in deep thought. As they finished with dinner she spoke up for the first time since they had sat down.
"My, that was delicious. You said that it is an Italian dish? I thought it had to ave tomato sauce on it to be Italian."
"Heavens, no. You know, Pat, Dave is putting together a book of my mother's recipes. As soon as it get published I'll send you an autographed copy."
"That would be lovely, Thank you, Joe. Dave, do I still get a tour of you beautiful home?"
"Certainly, let me turn the coffee on and we'll do it before desert."
He went into the kitchen and pushed the button on the coffee maker. When he entered the dining room Pat stood up to join him. Joe led Sue and George out of the dining room and closed the double doors on the dinner after math of their dinner. Back out on the patio they continued their discussion, while Dave took Pat through the comfortable masculine den. It was all warm woods and brown leather. The walls were filled with books. Pat was fascinated by the flat screen TV hanging on the wall as though it were a painting. She ran her hand over the back of a big cozy looking club chair. The leather was so soft and supple.
He opened the door to the guest bedroom. It had a bit of a softer feminine touch. Pat raised her eyebrows as she gazed about the room. Dave read her expression.
"Joe's mom insisted on doing this room. She isn't too fond of what we've done with the rest of the house. So she wanted a room that she can be comfortable in when she comes to visit."
"I can understand her point of view. This place is like a men's club."
Dave opened the door to the next bedroom. Pat giggled.
"See what I mean?"
Dave was still chuckling as he lead her through all the work out equipment in the gym to the door leading into the big luxurious master bathroom.
"Now this room I wouldn't mind having in my house. My, I think this room is bigger than my living room."
Dave pointed out the sauna room and Jacuzzi.
When he opened the door into the master bedroom Pat peeked in and gasped. Besides being a huge room it was all done in dark green and Exotic woods. The two outside walls were glass covered with floor to ceiling drapes that reminded Pat of looking up through a forest of trees. One inner wall had a big four door French Art Deco Armoire. Dave opened it to reveal a state of the arts music center. Pat couldn't keep her eyes off of the California King-sized Bed that sat on a dias in the center of the room.
Dave closed the doors to the armoire and turned to her.
"May I ask a completely out of line question?"
"Certainly, however, I don't promise to answer."
"May I sit down?" she asked looking at the two comfortable looking club chairs across the room.
"Of course, I'll join you."
Pat sat primly on the edge of the chair. Dave sat back and tried to look relaxed, as Pat rubbed one hand in the other.
"You and Joe, are you--are you gay?"
"Yes, Pat. We are mates."
"The reason I asked is I think you overheard the conversation I was having with George when you called us to dinner."
"I think I heard most of it, Pat."
"Then you know I have a gay brother. We were very close growing up. Our parents died with in a few years of each other while I was still in my teens. It was when Sam went off to college that he started growing distant toward me. When he told me that he was gay I felt like he had betrayed me. I took it very hard. I told him I never wanted to speak to him again. I see that sad look in his eyes when he sees me in town. We live only a few miles apart and we don't speak. I thought I was doing the Christian thing closing him out of my life. Our preacher spouts hell's fire and damnation. I have tried to believe him. But he's wrong. George showed me that tonight. God made my brother the way he is and I am in the wrong in closing him out of my life.
"Now as I think about my son. I know in my heart, he's like you and Sam. He's never shown any interest in girls. God made him that way. It my duty as a good Christian to love him and give him what help I can."
Pat dabbed at her leaking eyes and sniffed. Dave handed her the box of Kleenex that was on the table next to him.
"I don't know why I'm telling you all this. You a very kind good man, Dave. Petey, has raved about you in his letters. You are his idol."
"Well, Pat, I don't know about being his idol, but I do know that Pete is a fine young man. He's brilliant and a good worker and a fine student. He's going to make his own way in life. He does need one thing from you and George. That is your unconditional love and acceptance. He probably needs that more than anything else right now."
"Thank you, Dave. And thank you for helping Pete."
They stood. He gave her a big heartfelt hug.
"I'll give Pete all the help I possibly can. He deserves it, for sure."
Joe opened the bedroom door and stuck his head in.
"We're all starving for our desert out here."
"We'll be right there."
Dave turned back to Pat.
"Are you okay? Ready to go back in?"
"Yes, I'm ready. I really appreciate your kindness, Dave."
George looked at his wife's red-rimmed eyes and then at Dave. Dave smiled and nodded. George winked at him and smiled
back, as he stuffed a big bite of Chocolate Gateau into his mouth.
End of Chapter 10
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