Warning! This is a tale about men loving men. If you find this disturbing - click off. If it's unlawful for you to read this - click off. If you under age - good luck if you can get away with it.
This is not a story for getting your rocks off. Just thought I'd let you know, so you won't waste your time if that's what your looking for. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy my writing.
I appreciate feedback and do my best to respond to it all. I may be contacted at: J S.CollectionatVerizon.Net
Those Golden Eyes
Chess showed up at Charley's house in Kirksville an hour after Charley and Jake. He was dressed in Jeans and an old chambray shirt, ready to work. He hugged his son and turned to Jake. They looked at each other for a moment. They hadn't seen each other since Jake had left to go on the book signing tour. Chess held his arms out to him. "Come here, Son." Jake couldn't get into his arms fast enough. "How's my new son doing?" he asked.
"I'm doing well, Chess. Charley is the greatest. He's been such a boon in getting me through this."
"I'm happy to hear that. You two were made for each other."
"We know that, Dad," Jake said.
Chess pulled back and grinned at him.
"You've made my day." He pulled Jake back into another hug. "You know that, don't you?" Jake didn't answer. He just hugged a little harder.
Charley put his arms around both men's shoulders. "I'm so glad you two like each other," he said.
"I think it goes way beyond just liking each other," Chess said, looking at Jake. Jake nodded and smiled.
Charley smiled happily at the two most important men in his life. "I love you guys."
Unnoticed by the three men, Gloria stood in the kitchen doorway. She smiled as she witnessed the intimate camaraderie between her husband, her youngest son and his lover.
It's curious that with all the intimate details that Jake revealed in his tale, he'd never mentioned the phone call that he'd received from Chess while he was still in the hospital. They had talked for over two hours. Jake shared things from his childhood with him that he'd never told anyone. Chess had listened and commented once in awhile, but mostly he just listened. And when Jake had finished, Chess had told him that as far as he was concerned he was as much his son as Charley. "Thanks, Chess," Jake had said. "You've been more of a dad to me in the last couple of hours than my father ever was."
"Remember, Jake," Chess had told him. "You are well loved. Get well, Son."
That long talk with Chess was probably the main reason that Jake made such a quick recovery. For whatever reason, he still hadn't told Charley about it. He knew he would eventually tell him. He knew he would also tell him everything he'd said to Chess that night. Not yet, though. He wasn't ready yet. Their relationship still had some building and strengthening to do before he did.
In the next few hours, Charley and Jake made decisions about what they were taking from the house, and what they would sell. Gloria volunteered to have an estate sale to get rid of what they left. "I'll get Tom and Robert and their wives involved and get all our stuff, and anything they want to add, moved over here. That way we don't have people coming to our homes," she said.
"Charley is going to be in Chicago for a week for some special training," Jake told her. "I'll come back over and help, if it can be planned for that time."
Gloria looked surprised. Chess grinned. "I'm sure we can use your help, Son," he said. Gloria nearly frowned as she looked from her husband to Jake and back. Jake caught the look, but didn't comment.
"Of course, and you can stay in Charley's old room," she said picking up the beat.
"Great, as soon as I know the dates that Charley will be gone, I'll let you know."
Charley had watched this interaction between his parents and his lover with a delighted smile. It made him happy
to see his mother making amends and Jake accepting them. He didn't say anything, but he did wrap an arm
around Jake's neck and give him a big juicy smooch on his cheek.
With Chess and Gloria's help the fellows soon had the small U-Haul Truck loaded, locked and ready to head out the next morning. The pickup was in Chess's garage, so they left the U-Haul in the driveway and rode their motorcycles over to their house.
Trepidation gripped Jake as they trooped into the house with their saddlebags slung over their shoulders. He kept expecting Gloria to turn on him at any moment. They followed along behind her as she led them upstairs. "Charley's room has only a single bed, so, Jake, you'll...." She stopped mid sentence. "Now I'm really being silly. If it was Tom or Robert he'd be in the guest room with his wife." She turned and looked at Jake. "You two will sleep in the guest room. I apologize, this is just taking some getting used to, you know."
"We know, Mom, and we appreciate your effort," Charley said, hugging her with his free arm.
Speaking to Jake, she said, "I know I gave you a bitch of a time when you were living here with my son. I apologize, Jake. And I want you to know that I look forward to the day that you can call me mom."
Jake gave her a tight little smile and nodded. Gloria studied him a moment. Chess had told her why he had been in the hospital. "It's all going to be okay, Jake. With Charley's love, and ours, you'll soon let it all go." Before he could respond, she turned and went into the guest room to check that everything was in order. Charley followed his mother into the room unaware that Jake was still standing in the hall.
At first he felt like he'd been betrayed, but as he thought about it he realized that it was only natural that Chess would share general information with his wife. He knew in the depths of his heart that Chess would never tell anyone the things they'd talked about that night that he'd bared his soul to him. He shrugged, and followed his lover into the guest room. Gloria had turned down the duvet and fluffed the pillows when she saw him.
"I want you to know that you're as much one of the family as Dotty or Elaine, Jake," she said to him. "You haven't met them yet have you?" Jake shook his head. "Well, you will tomorrow. They're eager to meet their favorite new author and brother-in-law."
Gloria had planned on a big breakfast with Tom and Robert and their families joining them. Charley convinced her that it would be best to go to Sally's. There they could visit, Sally could make some money, and they'd have no dirty dishes to wash.
Jake was relieved that the meeting with Charley's brothers was going to be in pubic. There, Robert would have to behave even if he was still feeling antipathy toward him. He'd decided that he'd rather have it out with him without Charley around. It could wait until he returned to help with the sale.
Breakfast turned out to be very congenial. The two wives fell in love with Jake. He promised them that when he came back he would sign their copies of "Those Shifting Sands."
He was surprised that Tom had read his book and had liked it. Robert promised that he was going to read it as soon as he had a chance. Jake still hadn't gotten over the vindictive notes that Robert had written before the book tour. He didn't trust this congenial man sitting at the table breaking fast with his family and him.
The breakfast party broke up and goodbyes were said. Chess got into his Mercedes and waited. Jake hackles raised when he saw Robert stop his mother as she started to open her door. Gloria's back was to him so he couldn't tell what she was saying, but Robert's expression coupled with furtive glances his way, made it clear that he was talking about him. Charley was still talking to Tom and his wife Dotty. Elaine, Robert's wife was buckling up their two youngsters in the back seat of the big black Cadillac. Jake figured that no one but himself saw the sharp glance Robert gave him as he got into the car. Jake felt like an outsider standing by himself while Charley continued to talk to Dotty. Tom moved around them and walked over to Jake. As he laid his arm around his shoulder he told him, "Don't let the little fart worry you."
Jake looked up into his face. "I don't understand his antagonism. Or why he's so two-faced about it."
"He's just got some unresolved issues. They are his problems, not yours, Jake. Don't worry about it. Charley says you'll be back to help with Mom's estate sale."
"Well, we'll see you then. Take care of my little brother." He waved and followed his wife to their Silver Lexus. She waved at him as she got into the car. Charley moved to stand beside Jake and draped his forearm on his shoulder.
After all the family had left, Jake and Charley hung around in the café to say their goodbyes to Sally. She was tearful, but happy for the two men. As they drove away in the pickup, loaded with the two motorcycles, she called out, "Don't stay away too long. Come back and see me. Hear?"
They stopped at the house and went through it again to see if anything had been forgotten and then took a few minutes to pay some special attention to each other. After a final knee weakening kiss, they locked it up and stood in the yard looking at the house where they had started their life together.
"Ready to hit the road?" Charley asked.
"Who's driving what and who follows?"
"You drive the pick up and follow, then we'll switch half way."
"Sounds like a plan," Jake said, heading for the pickup.
The second week of October was turning out to be a little more than hectic for the Paolini women who were efficiently panicking as the big day drew closer. They had been planning for months getting ready.
The back yard was looking beautiful, the lawn was still green. Fall flowers filled the beds around it. Back in April a bower had been built at the back of the yard especially for this occasion. Texas Ivy had been planted around it and had grown up and covered it perfectly. Now, with cool nights coming on, the leaves were beginning to turn yellow and red.
Gio had insisted that he have the honor of catering the food for Johnny and Tim's wedding long before things had gotten so hectic with the Grand Opening of Dave's Place drawing so near. Since Gio and Teddy were totally involved in Dave's Place working toward the "big Day," Silvano with his staff at Gio Gio's would be doing all the work. With Silvano and Teddy's assistance they'd came up with a trove of delicious finger foods, all of which Silvano and his staff would prepare.
Teddy ended up ordering all the food through the outlets they'd set up for the new restaurant. He pointed out to Gio that if they ordered all the supplies for both restaurants together that he'd save a lot of money. It was at that point that Gio started to seriously think of making Teddy a partner in restaurant.
The tuxedos for the four men had been fitted and were ready. The champagne was sitting in the basement waiting for the occasion. The Party Planners, a company that Miki had suggested they hire, had assured them that the cream colored roses would be arriving a couple of days before needed for decorating the back yard. They'd told Angie and her daughters to just relax, everything was under control.
Miki and Eve had always been close. Miki was already in high school when Eve was born, and every minute away from school Miki had spent playing with her little baby sister. The closeness had endured thru the years. Angie was thankful; she had friends with daughters who fought all the time.
Miki sat back in her chair and sighed. "If anything goes wrong at this point I think I'll just slit my throat."
Her mother smiled as she sipped her tea and then said, "Not much can go wrong. The only thing we don't have control over is the people involved. We can only pray that everyone behaves."
"Well, with all the police as guests and all the security that Dave and Joe have hired, what kind of trouble could we have?" Eve asked.
"Who else but Johnny would invite the police force to attend his wedding 'en force'?" Miki said.
"He's obviously still popular with them. The chief, I heard, put out a notice that anyone that wanted to attend had to sign up so the ones that aren't attending could cover for them. He had to ask for volunteers to fill in because so many of them wanted to come." Eve giggled. "Only my big brother."
"Yes, it's hard to believe that less than a year ago he was still trying to convince himself that he was straight," Angie said turning to her youngest daughter." do you remember the night that Joe brought Dave to dinner the first time?"
"Oh yes, Johnny was so uptight, and then Joe had to tell on him."
"What had Johnny done?" Miki asked.
"It wasn't what Johnny had done, it was what Dave had done," Angie injected. "Poor Johnny was just the innocent victim."
"So what happened?" Miki demanded.
Eve looked at her mom who nodded for her to go ahead and tell her sister what had happened when Johnny went into the bookstore to meet his older brother's new lover. Miki laughed until she had to catch her breath at the idea of Dave kissing Johnny while thinking he was Joe. "Oh my poor little brother, not only has he had to try all his life to measure up to Joe, but he has to look like his twin, too. Poor guy."
"Sue told me that Paul told her that Johnny was really having a hard time dealing with himself after that. And then he met Tim two weeks later and that really turned his life upside down." Eve said.
"Well, it's such a blessing that he found what he was looking for. And Tim is such a sweet guy. Your dad and I thought that Johnny was going to go through every girl in town before he got his act together."
"Did you and Dad ever suspect that Johnny was gay?" Miki asked.
"I didn't have the least idea, but Dad did. He asked me once soon after Johnny graduated from college and joined the police force if I thought Johnny was like Joe. I just pshawed the idea and forgot about it until Joe brought Dave home. Johnny's reaction to the incident with Dave made me start wondering.
"I never suspected a thing with either Joe or Johnny. They were both star athletes in high school and college. They were popular with the girls. When Joe told me he was gay, I was distraught. I wouldn't believe him. Today I'm so thankful that his dad was so accepting and helpful to him. You know he was only sixteen. He was so young to be having to deal with such things."
"Mom, how did Joe manage it in high school? Kids are so vicious."
"He didn't tell anyone except your dad and I, until he went off to college. He dated just as he always had. You'd have thought he was perfectly normal."
Miki eyed her mother over her cup of tea. "So you think of your sons as being abnormal?
"No! There nothing abnormal about being gay. It's just a variation of sexual orientation. God knows I would much rather they be homosexuals than pedophiles or something worse."
"So how do you feel about Johnny, Mom? Truthfully."
Angie studied the contents of her cup for several moments before answering. "At first I was heart sick. My first thought was that I would never have any of his children to play grandmother to. But after really thinking about it, I decided that as long as he's found someone that makes him happy, that's all that matters. I've thought about what his life would have been like if he'd married one of his bimbo's. I'm so glad he found Tim."
"Can you imagine, Mom, having Deirdre Wilson as a daughter-in-law?" Eve asked.
"Heaven forbid. What a nightmare of a thought." Angie exclaimed.
"Who is she?" Miki asked.
"You haven't met the police chief's daughter?" Angie shook here head. "I can't think of a nice thing to say about the woman except that she is beautiful."
Tuesday, Charley and Jake signed all the papers and took possession of the house. With Pete and Jason's help it was barely five o'clock by the time they had all the furniture moved in, the kitchen unpacked, the clothes hung in the closet, and the bed made.
Pete and Jason were sprawled on the leather sofa that had come from Charley's old house. Jake had collapsed into his favorite old chair. Charley came in carrying four frosty long necks, handed one to each of them and then he sat down between Pete and Jason. He placed his beer on the coffee table and lay back. He spread an arm behind each of them and pulled them into a hug. He kissed them both on the cheek. "You two guys are the best. Thank you for your help. It would have taken us days to do all this."
"Oh, it's all in the genes, I think. Pete and I have more of them than you two machos."
Pete looked around Charley at his lover. "You don't think I'm macho?"
"Of course you are. But you don't ride a motorcycle."
"I've been seriously thinking of getting one."
"Really? A Harley or an Indian?"
"I saw a really sleek Suzuki I like."
"Don't talk to me," Jason said and sat back. He folded his arms.
Charley grinned at him.
"What? It's a really cool machine," Pete said.
"Image, Pete. It's all in the image," Jake injected.
"Yeah Pete, a Suzuki is a really mean bike. But an Indian or a Harley are MACHO," Charley said.
"I guess I'll have to get a leather Jacket and sunglasses to complete the image, huh?"
"That image makes me horny," Jason declared sitting forward and ogling his lover.
Charley laughed, "I think I'm sitting in the wrong place."
"Yes, you may start earning your salary," Paul said grinning at the younger man across his desk. It was Wednesday morning. "As a matter of fact you and Johnny are scheduled to go to a special school in Chicago for a week of training. You'll be leaving tomorrow morning."
"Thanks for the advance notice."
"I'm sorry about that, but I set it up just this morning. And it has to be now because of Johnny's commitment ceremony the week after."
"It's really no problem. But Jake might be a little upset, not to say anything about my mother. They're planning an estate sale in Kirksville while I'm gone. This is going to put a rush on them."
"Sorry about that," was all that Paul could say. "Friday morning you will be introduced into the program, and then Monday your training starts. You'll be back here next Saturday."
Jake was out when Charley got home a few minutes later to start packing for the trip. He had his bag almost packed when Jake walked into the bedroom. He froze in the doorway, his heart thumped in his chest cavity. "Charley?"
Charley startled. "Oh there you are. I called but you didn't answer your cell."
Jake felt his pants pocket. "Oh hell," he said, "I forgot to take it off it's charger. So what are you doing?"
"Paul is sending Johnny and I to Chicago tomorrow for the training I told you about."
"Wow, that's lots of warning."
"I know, but I told mom it was likely to be this way. She should have things under control over there. You are still going aren't you?"
Jake shrugged. "Sure," he said.
"You don't seem very enthusiastic."
Jake just shrugged again.
"Not eager to have it out with Robert, huh?"
"I didn't know that you had noticed his antagonism."
"I noticed, Babe, I just didn't say anything to you. I did talk to Dad about it though."
"He said he would confront him about his feelings."
"What is your take on why Robert is acting this way?"
Charley stopped and thought a minute. "Truth?"
"I think he's in denial. I think he is jealous, and probably has the hots for you."
"No, it's just the same conclusion I had come to. I feel sorry for Elaine and his kids. Maybe I should stay away. Let him continue to delude himself for their sake."
"Talk to Dad."
"Did you say anything to him about this?"
"Jake, it was Dad that said it to me."
"Oh." Jake flopped down on the bed beside Charley's half filled bag.
Charley stood between his knees and looked down at him. "Are you going to be able to handle this?" he asked.
"Sure. Why not?"
Charley studied him a moment. "I love you, Jake."
Jake held his arms up inviting Charley to lay on top of him. "Come 'ere," he murmured.
Charley crawled up his body and let his weight down on him. "God, you are so beautiful, Jake."
Jake pulled his mouth down on his own. When they broke for air, Jake said, "I'm going to miss you, too, and I don't have half your looks."
"You know that's not true. I'm going to miss you, too, but it's only for a few days."
Jake left for Kirksville after seeing Charley onto the plane with Johnny. Tim had stood looking a little lost as the two men disappeared into the secure area that was open only to ticketed passengers. Jake looked at him with a smile that said he knew what he was feeling. "We don't know each other very well, but would you like to take a ride over to Kirksville for a couple of days?"
Tim smiled. "Sounds fun, but I've got classes I can't miss."
Saturday afternoon, Arlen sprawled in the middle of the sofa, his arms spread out on each side of the back, his feet stretched under the coffee table. He and Pete were just hanging out until Jason got home from class.
"I haven't been able to get hold of Teddy since he started working downtown. His answering machine just goes right to message. And he doesn't call back." Arlen sighed. "I'm beginning to feel like he's avoiding me. Do you ever see him any more?"
"I haven't seen him since last Sunday. I kinda thought you'd be around then."
"No, some buds and I went hiking up in the mountains."
"So you haven't talked to him at all?" Pete asked.
"Not in about week and a half. All he does is work and sleep."
Arlen suddenly got a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "What's going on, Pete?"
"Don't give me 'nothing'. What was that 'oh boy' about.
"Teddy hasn't told you anything?"
"Told me what?"
"He's gotta tell you himself."
"Come on, Pete, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Look, I'll give you the number where he's working. He needs to tell you, not me."
"Fuck you, Pete. He's making it with Gio, isn't he?"
"I'm not saying a word." Pete disappeared into the kitchen.
"Why can't you tell me?" Arlen whined.
He returned and handed Arlen a slip of paper. "Call him."
Arlen pulled out his cell phone. Pete headed upstairs to give him some privacy. He had no idea how serious Arlen was about Teddy, but he wasn't going to tell Arlen what had transpired on the previous Sunday morning. Jake and Charley had been lounging around the kitchen table that Sunday morning with Jason and Pete. They were drinking coffee and munching English muffins with marmalade and discussing the move into their new house. They heard the front door open, then Teddy came in fully dressed. He didn't bother to get a cup of coffee. He sat down and grinned. Jason offered to get him one, but he just thanked him and said that he'd already had two cups. Even in their half awake state they couldn't miss the change in his demeanor, the grin that wouldn't leave his face. "So you're just coming in, not going out? Jason asked.
Teddy continued to grin. "Yes and yes."
"So where're you headed so early?" Pete asked
Teddy grinned. "To my bedroom. I've got to pack. It's been fun living here with you guys."
That had surprised everyone. They sat with their mouths agape. "Not even going to miss us, huh?" Jake said.
"Why should I? I'll be seeing you as much as I have the last three weeks."
"Okay, give it to us, Teddy, and stop grinning." Charley growled at him.
"Gio asked me to live with him." Teddy grinned even more. "He's waiting. I gotta go." He turned and left the four guys staring at each other. Jason got up and left the room.
"I didn't even realize Gio is gay," Jake said.
"Yeah, he is. He had a young collage guy for his boyfriend when we first met him. The fellow wanted to live with Gio, but Gio wouldn't let him. They broke up over it." Pete explained.
"Then that means this is serious between Gio and Teddy," Jake deduced.
"I'd say so." Pete said.
Jason came back in with Gio following him. All three guys stood up to welcome and congratulate him. Gio just grinned and didn't say a word until they all had sat down and Jason had slipped a mug of coffee in front of him.
"Thank you, my friends."
"Maybe you'll socialize a little more now." Jason said.
Gio looked at him. Jason didn't get what the look was saying. "What?" he asked.
"People don't invite chefs to dinner very much. I guess they find us intimidating to cook for. So my social life is in my restaurant serving food to my friends."
They all blushed.
"Gee, I never thought about it, but I guess that is the reason we haven't invited you," Jason said. "We're having a house warming for Charley and Jake Sunday after next, we'll have to make it a dual party to welcome you and Teddy into our group."
Teddy came into the kitchen after dropping his bags by the front door. Gio stood as Teddy came to his side. Teddy bent and whispered in his ear, "I love you, Gio." Gio turned and kissed Teddy. They didn't mean for it to become a full blown passionate kiss, but that's what it turned into as the other four sat and watched. They were both blushing and grinning when they realized they were putting on a show.
"Ain't new love grand?" Pete smirked.
"How come you never kiss me like that?" Jason asked.
Pete looked at him in astonishment. "And who was asphyxiating who this morning with an all out kiss?"
Jason blushed. "Yeah, that was something, huh?"
It was Pete's turn to blush as he relived the kiss.
[***Dave, should the above segment all be in the past perfect tense? It starts off that way and then becomes just past tense.***]
Arlen dialed the number. He subconsciously knew what was coming. He'd been out with Teddy three times and Teddy had always kept it cool, just two buddies out for the evening. He'd had the hots for Teddy, and when he'd tried to get intimate with him, Teddy had just blown it off as a joke. So Arlen knew without having to be told what had happened. He'd seen the look in Teddy's eyes when he looked at the man he was working for. He'd known from the beginning that he didn't have a chance of anything more than friendship with him, so why was he feeling so depressed? But without searching for an answer he knew that answer, too. He heard someone answer the phone.
"Dave's Place, this is the kitchen."
Arlen knew by the accent who it was. "Hi, Gio, this is Arlen. May I speak to Teddy, please."
"He is around. Let me find him." Gio laid the phone down without putting Arlen on hold. Teddy was sitting across the desk. They'd been reviewing how things were progressing in the Restaurant.
"Who is it for?" Teddy asked.
"You. It's Arlen. How did he get this number? It's not listed yet."
Ted shrugged. "The only person I've given it to is Pete. What's the problem?"
"You haven't told him about us."
Teddy laughed. "Like I've had time?"
"Take the time. Take off early tonight and tell him."
"Take it easy, Gio. There's no need to be getting up tight. Arlen is just a friend."
Arlen listened to the conversation. For a moment he couldn't hear anything and then he heard Teddy say, "I love you, Gio. Just relax." Arlen turned his phone off and sighed to himself. "I guess I should be thankful that I didn't succeed in getting him into bed. I just tried to make it more than it was," he said out loud, even though he was the only one in the room.
Teddy picked up the phone and said "Hi Arlen. How's it hanging?" There was no response and then he heard the dial tone. He turned and looked at Gio. "He must have heard us. You've got to learn to push the hold button."
Gio shrugged. "I'm sorry. But maybe it's better this way."
Teddy grimaced and then quickly dialed Pete. "Hi, Pete is Arlen there with you?"
"He's down stairs. He was calling you."
"I know. He hung up before I could talk to him. Can you get him on this phone?"
"I'll try. Hang on."
Pete flew down the stairs with the cordless phone. Arlen was slumped where Pete had left him. Pete walked over to him. "Here, talk to him."
Arlen looked up at him with a hard frown. "What's to say? I heard what he said to Gio."
"At least let him tell you about it, alright?"
Arlen took the phone. "Ted."
"I know you heard what Gio and I were saying. I'm sorry, I didn't want you to find out like that." Teddy said. "Arlen, have dinner with me tonight. Let me tell you to your face."
"Why, what's the point?"
"I still want us to be friends."
Arlen didn't reply.
"You know I have never led you on. I knew what you were feeling, but it just wasn't there for me. I do value you as my friend, though, Arlen. I don't want to lose that."
Arlen cleared his throat. "Yeah, I'd like that, too, Ted. Where shall we meet?"
"Gio Gio's? You haven't tasted the new chef's cooking yet have you?" Teddy asked.
"No. Gio Gio's sound good. Seven o'clock?"
Joe dragged himself into the Eyrie. He tore off his clothes as soon as he got into the bedroom. Ambling into the big bathroom he eyed the shower and then looked at the big tub. He hadn't had a good relaxing soak in a long time.
When he got the temperature right, he sat on the edge of the tub watching the water rushing out of the faucet. He picked up a bottle of foaming soap and smelled it. The relaxing sent of lavender filled his nose. He poured a generous amount into the roiling water and watched it foam into billowing mounds of bubbles. He stepped into the tub and sank down into the welcoming wet heat. Sighing contentedly he wished that Dave was home to share this with him. He mounded the puffs of bubbles over his chest, closed his eyes and relaxed.
Dave had spent the afternoon at a board meeting of the Way Mansion museum. He hadn't been aware of all the details and problems making a museum that would be opened to the public out of the old place. Crowd control had been the issue today. Security had been taken care of. The basement of the building had been turned into an environmentally controlled vault. All of the paintings that were not on display and all of the furniture that had been removed to make room for spectator movement, were stored there.
Little or no difference of opinion had come up on that issue. But today every board member seemed to have their
own agenda for, how to control the masses moving through the mansion and its magnificent grounds. Dave as the
chairman, had finally stepped in and told them that whatever it took there would be no concrete walkways through
the grounds. There would be no kind of fences either. If necessary he would provide more funds for guards,
guides and docents.
As Dave stepped out of the elevator into the foyer of the Eyrie, he paused. "Joe's home," he said aloud. There was no sound or physical evidence, but he instinctively knew and went searching for him. He walked into the bedroom and grinned when he saw Joe's clothes laying in a pile on the floor. The grin quickly faded when he realized that Joe normally never would do that, he was always neat in taking care of his clothes. He figured Joe must really be stressed out to just drop his clothes on the floor and leave them. Dave picked them up and laid them out on the bed as Joe would usually do. And then he quickly stripped his own clothes off.
The shower wasn't running so he figured that Joe was just getting ready to get into it. Not seeing him as he stepped into the bathroom, he paused and cautiously, quietly called, "Joe?"
Joe pushed himself upright,the bubbles wreathing his face. Smiling a welcome to his lover, he said, "Come join me, Babe."
Dave grinned with relief, and laughed at the sight. Without hesitating he walked over to the big tub and stepped in. Joe, with a hand on each of his cheeks, guided Dave's butt down to rest between his legs. Dave lay back and slid down to rest his head on Joe's furry blonde chest. He turned his head to receive a kiss. "How did you know I needed this?" he sighed contentedly.
"You had a board meeting today. You always come in stressed."
""How did your day go?"
"So you did this as much for yourself as well as me?"
"I'd be lying if I denied it."
"Tell me about your day."
"You know, I love every aspect of raising a building like this, except for filling it with tenants."
"Have you ever thought of hiring a staff to do that?"
"You don't understand. They all want and need special layouts. That takes an architect."
"Is it something that takes your special talent?"
"Of course not. Any competent draftsman could do it."
"So why do you waste your time doing it?"
Joe was quiet.
"Babe?" Dave said.
"I've always felt it was part of my responsibility. It's my baby."
"Since fall classes started and with you nursing that building, you have no time to relax. I miss our times like this."
"I know but I'm only teaching two classes this year."
Dave turned in Joe's arms and sat back on his heels. "I was listening to two men that are on the board at the museum. They both are big business men. They were discussing this company that finds qualified people to fill positions in their companies. It was called Harrelson Head Hunters. Why don't you check them out. Let them find the people to help you."
Joe pulled Dave up to lay on his chest. He touched his lips to Dave's. "I knew there was some reason I married you besides your money," he murmured.
"That wouldn't be funny if either of us had known what lay in store for us."
"I thought I had married a lowly bookstore owner. I was more than happy with that." Joe caressed Dave's back. Dave lay there contented. "Have you ever done it in a bathtub?" Joe asked.
"I beg your pardon?"
"With you lying in this position, you have an urgent visitor at your back door."
"Tell that visitor to come back as soon as we get out, dried off and on the bed," Dave murmured, and wiggled contentedly. He gasped and then sighed with total contentment.
"I think it's too late. You've already let him in." Joe said. ~~~
Later, as they cuddled in bed, Joe asked, "Have you met that new Chef that Gio hired."
Dave thought a moment. Should he give away the fact that he knew about the restaurant being the surprise or should he play dumb? He decided to play dumb. "You mean Silvano? Yes I stopped in and introduced myself to him the other day when I took Sue to lunch. He's an excellent--- ah--- cook." he'd almost said replacement, but caught himself.
"No, not him. The one that is running the new restaurant on top of my new office building. Ted, his name is."
Dave was stymied. "Oh." He paused. "No, I haven't met him."
Joe wondered what Dave was hedging about. Of course, he knew about the restaurants on top of the building after he'd messed up and let Tom, his foreman take him on at tour of the building. But that wasn't the surprise he was keeping from him. "You do remember that there's a big restaurant on top of the building don't you?"
"Of course I do."
"Well, as you also know, Gio is the executive chef."
"Well, he hired this young fellow right off the street to work at Gio Gio's and discovered he is a chef, trained at Cordon Bleu in Paris."
"You're kidding me."
"Nope. Anyway, I think that they have become domestic partners."
"You mean they've become lovers."
"Yeah. But Gio hasn't said a word about it."
"So what makes you think this?"
"Oh man, you ought to see the moony-eyed looks they give each other. It's amusing to watch. They think they are being so cool hiding it from the staff. But watching the staff it's obvious they are very aware of the romance, all the knowing looks behind their backs."
Dave chuckled. They lay in silent comfort in each other's embrace for several moments. Dave finally broke it clearing his throat. "I guess I won't have a chance to meet him until our birthday."
Joe grinned and pulled his lover into a tight bear-hug. "That's right," he said. It was at that moment that Dave's stomach decided to make the point that it needed to be fed. "I think we need to get up and feed that beast."
"Yeah, it's hungry for some good Italian cooking and your mother hasn't had time to be dropping off anything for us to eat."
"So let's go to Gio Gio's
Arlen had been seated and was waiting when Teddy came out of the kitchen and sat down across from him. Arlen grinned at him, and then asked, "Where is Gio?"
"He's in the kitchen talking to Silvano."
Arlen folded his napkin and laid it on the table next to his knife and fork."I've got to go see the man," he mumbled, as he stood and walked toward the kitchen. Teddy realized that he hadn't headed toward the restroom as he had assumed he would. He watched the kitchen door as if he thought there would be fireworks shooting out of it.
Gio was sitting on a stool facing away from Arlen as he walked in. Sil looked up with a surprised expression to see a stranger walk into his kitchen as if he belonged there. Gio turned to see what who it was just as Arlen laid his hand on his shoulder. "Come join us, Gio."
Gio stood up and moved away from him. "Promise you won't be hitting anyone?"
"Gio, I'm sorry I hit Teddy that day. I was striking out at myself. I was having a difficult time accepting who I am. Ted understands and has forgiven me. Won't you try?"
Gio did not look happy, but he gave Arlen a curt nod. "Okay, I'll be out in a minute."
When Arlen sat back down at the table, Ted asked, "Why did you go in the kitchen?"
"I just asked Gio to join us for dinner."
"Why? You don't even like him."
"I really don't know him well enough to say that. We competed for you, and he won. That's not enough reason to dislike him."
"I don't think he likes you much either."
"He saw me as the competition. Now that I'm not, maybe we can be friends."
"How come you didn't show this maturity before. I really thought you were just a spoiled rich kid, used to getting what he wanted," Ted said.
Arlen chuckled. "I am. But I failed this time."
During dinner Gio and Arlen learned that they did like each other. Arlen found that Gio had a wicked sense of humor, and Gio discovered the young New Yorker was quite debonair and much more mature than his first impression of him.
"Are you two going to Johnny and Tim's Commitment?" Arlen asked.
"You think I would dare miss my cousin getting.... how do you Americans say?...hitched? What does that word mean anyway?"
"Hitched?" Teddy asked, looking blank.
"It's a term from the Old West," Arlen explained. "It means tied to. Like a cowboy would tie his horse's reins to the hitching post when he went into the bar for a drink."
Oh, yeah, to connect, like the ball on the back of a pickup is used to attach a trailer for pulling."
"Yes, okay. That's a very appropriate word."
They all laughed.
"So you've been invited?" Teddy asked.
"Yeah, in a kind of round about way. The invitation was addressed to my dad and family. My parents are coming down so I am going with them. And you?" Arlen asked Teddy?
Gio answered for him. "He is now my mate. Of course, he's invited,"
"Do your cousins even know about you two?"
They looked at each other and then at Arlen and shook their heads. "Well, I think that Joe suspects," Ted said. "He's in and out of the kitchen quite a bit. He keeps giving me these strange looks."
"He does that to you, too?" Gio asked.
Right on cue, Dave and Joe came through the door.
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