by John Michael
In this chapter:
Page: 16, 10th Grade
Dawson: 17, 11th Grade
Ashley: 17, 12th Grade
Micah: 16, 11th Grade
Paris: 12 – 13, 7th Grade
Sidney: 9, 4th Grade
Zach Ryan: 26, John's Assistant
John & Dustin: 46 & 45, Parents
Part One: A Page's Life – Chapter 10
Joshua Zachary Ryan walked into the boardroom on the fifty-fifth floor of the Winfield/Caldwell-West Tower in downtown Los Angeles. The long glassed-center, wooden edged table could accommodate eighteen board members, with a spot specifically reserved for John on one side of the table, in the center of eight other chairs. For this meeting, however, John and three other people, whom Zach recognized as his other bosses, attended and sat on one side of the table, flanking John.
When John saw Zach enter the room, he stood up and invited Zach to sit in the chair directly in front of him. Zach took the seat in front of his bosses, without a clue as to what could possibly be going on; Zach was quite nervous.
John began, saying, "Zach, you're probably wondering what you're doing here, so I'll cut right to it."
One of the other bosses, a woman with fiery red hair cut in, responding with a chuckle, "Don't worry, we're not firing you!" This made Zach feel just a little bit more comfortable.
John continued, "Zach, I'm becoming increasingly busy. As my secretary, I'm sure you are aware of the new offices we are opening in Valdez, Kailua-kono, Moorhead, Wisconsin, West Texas, and as well as many offices abroad, in Canada. I need an assistant and I couldn't think of anyone better for the job than you. I notice that you have a Master's in communications and an MBA. You will no longer be considered a secretary; a new position will be created to reflect this job change. We will also increase your pay rate by an unprecedented thirty-nine percent. You will travel with me at all times, your desk will be moved into your own space within in my office, so you'll have an awesome view, and you will be expected to be here the entire time I'm here. We will hire a replacement for your current position; the replacement secretary will assist you, just as you've assisted me during your tenure. So, what do you say?"
Zach was absorbing and processing this information. If he accepted this position, he could move into a penthouse, or buy a house. He could also finish paying off his college loans and get a new car. What he thought, Fuck yeah, I want this! What he said, "Sir, thank you for this amazing opportunity; I am prepared to accept this offer."
John responded, "You can think about this if you want to; what we're offering may be a complete lifestyle change for you."
"Sir; I have nothing tying me down, I'm completely free to work as needed. I'm in the perfect fit to accept this position."
"Okay; Anna will give you the paperwork. You will start your new position tomorrow; your first task will be finding your replacement for your old position. Your pay raise will also go into effect tomorrow."
As the men and women exited the room, Zach took the initiative to extend his hand to John.
"Zach, I look forward to working with you tomorrow. After you sign the paperwork, you can go home. The builders will be working on your new office, so I'm not staying here today, either. I will see you tomorrow morning, bright and early!"
"Yes sir; thank-you sir!"
Two weeks ago, when Zach came back to work, the day after he accepted the position, completely surprised to see his new office area was directly below John's loft in John's office. Stainless steel poles had been erected behind his desk from which he was able to hang his framed diplomas. Behind the poles was the view of Los Angeles; from the window, Zach could see the Pacific Ocean on the horizon.
Zach's secretary, Lauren, was getting an earful when she refused to let Dustin into John's office because she had no idea who he was. When Zach saw this through the glass doors, he called Lauren and asked her to let him enter. When Dustin came into the office, he did not like the fact that John's super hot secretary was now sharing an office with his husband.
"Hi, Zach; is my husband up there," Dustin asked, looking up toward the loft.
"Yes, sir; John is upstairs. Would you like me to call him down?"
"Yes, please; we're supposed to meet up for lunch."
Once seated in Drago Centro, Dustin started into John about Zach.
"Why is Zach in your office."
"I need him to assist me, so he needs to be by my side at all times when I'm working. Work is getting increasingly demanding and I actually still would like to get home at a reasonable hour to see my boys; that includes you."
"Does he have to be in your office?"
"Yes." After a pause, John replied, "What is this about?"
"It's nothing honey."
"Yes it is; Dustin," John said, but then paused for a while. When John caught his husband's eyes, he responded, "You mustn't feel intimidated by him, he is not going to replace you, he's not a younger you, and I'm in love with you, not any other man."
Dustin leaned across the table and kissed his husband. Dropped, immediately, was the Zach issue and the men enjoyed the dinner and talked about their first kiss and their high school days.
Micah and Ashley were walking from the living room to the kitchen when they saw Dawson walking towards the front door. Before Dawson could knock on the door, Ashley swung it open, nearly taking the door off its hinges.
"Dawson; what do you want?"
"I just came to see my boyfriend."
"Dawson, I think you want to turn around and go home."
"I think I want you to get out of my way."
"I think you want me not to have to rearrange your face."
"I think you're starting to really piss me off!"
"Just go home Dawson and there won't be any trouble."
Dawson, who had turned fire-engine-red, decided to push through Ashley in an effort to get to Page. Ashley pushed back, causing Dawson to stumble backwards toward the door.
"Last warning, Dawson; please, go home."
"You have no idea how hard I'm trying not to hit you right now!"
"Nor do you."
Dawson forced his way into Ashley, trying to tackle Ashley to the floor. Ashley grabbed Dawson's sides and flipped Dawson onto the floor. Dawson used his legs to trip Ashley; once Ashley was on the ground, Dawson got on top of Ashley and tried to pin him down. Ashley managed to crawl his way from under Dawson, and punched Dawson in the face, causing Dawson to grab his nose and fall backwards. Ashley tackled Dawson to the ground, grabbed him around the neck and tried to choke him out. Dawson stood up, with Ashley's legs wrapped around his torso and Ashley's arms wrapped around his neck. Dawson ran backwards into a side table, dislodging Ashley and breaking a rare Arabian ceramic vase in the process. Ashley crawled away from the table; when he was trying to get up from Dawson's latest counterattack, Dawson leaped forward, trying to tackle Ashley into the edge of the fountain. Ashley reached forward with a knee and both his arms just in time to throw Dawson into the fountain using a backroll move.
John and Dustin walked into the foyer from the garage in time to here the splash as Dawson landed into the fountain. John looked around to see a disheveled Ashley, a soaking wet Dawson, and a shattered two-hundred, thousand-dollar vase. John dropped the crystal pitcher in his hands; upon hearing the pitcher smash into countless pieces, Dawson and Ashley stopped fighting and looked toward Dustin and John.
"What the fuck is going on in here," John shouted with his anger tangible in his voice. Ashley was now nervous; he has never heard John curse before, ever.
After everyone calmed down, John, Dustin, Ashley, and Dawson met in the sunroom.
"Do I really need to be here for this," Dawson asked. "I mean, I'm not e-"
"Do you have two-hundred, twenty-seven, thousand, fifty-two dollars, and eighty-nine cents to replace the vase you two destroyed in the foyer," John countered, trying to quell his anger.
"What the hell is wrong with you two," Dustin asked the boys. "Dawson, you answer first."
"Nothing is wrong with me; I wanted to see my boyfriend and Ashley wouldn't let me into the house. Ashley was being very hostile."
Looking at Ashley, Dustin asked, "Is this true?"
"Not exactly; Dawson did something to Page, and Page doesn't want to see him."
"Ashley, that's not what I asked. We'll ask Page about this, as well."
John looked at Dawson and said, "If Page indeed says he doesn't want to see you, then we have to respect his wishes; you will no longer be welcome on my property. If, however, Page does want to continue to see you, then you can continue to see him, without being intimidated by any person who lives here!" John was now giving Ashley a very stern look.
Turning to Dawson, Dustin said, "Dawson, you may leave."
"Yes sir; sorry about the vase." With that, Dawson retreated from the house and to his own home.
When the two men turned toward their son, he did something he promised Page he would not do. "I'm very sorry I handled the situation like this, I could have handled this better. However, if you would have seen Page the night he said he had a `fight' with Dawson, you would have reacted the same. Dads, he was really, really upset, so much so, it actually scared me! I've never seen him like that before; Dawson did something to him that night. Please, if you talk to him, don't let him know I told you all this; I promised him I wouldn't say anything. We're finally close again and he's finally letting me in again; I don't want to mess that up. I love him; he's my best friend."
John and Dustin noticed their son was now visibly upset and was quite disturbed by this. They knew that a talk with Page was needed, but they would have to approach the issue delicately.
John and Dustin entered Page's room, closing the door behind them. Dustin spoke first, saying, "Page, your father and I have some things we would like to discuss with you and we need you to be very honest with us."
Page just looked from Dustin to John and then back to Dustin, again. The men did not wait for their son to respond, partly because they knew he would not have a response; they both sat down in front of Page.
"I'm sure you heard about the fight earlier today between Dawson and Ashley," John spoke next. "After the fight, some accusations were made, from both sides. There was something said that made your father and I very uncomfortable."
Page swallowed the lump in his throat, preparing to lie his way out of this situation.
"The night Ashley saw you come home from Dawson's house, he said you were visibly upset, so much so, he found it shocking and disturbing," Dustin continued. "What happened that evening to cause this...reaction from you?"
Page thought quickly about how to pan this out to get his parents out of the room as quickly and smoothly as possible.
"Dawson and I got into a fight; there were `I don't love you's' and `It's over's' thrown around. I always thought of Dawson as my soul mate, so that argument hurt, a lot! We agreed to give each other some space until we can talk about the situation with cooler heads. Are we done here?"
"No," John replied, "we're not."
"If you two agreed to give each other some space, why did `Rambo' Dawson barge his way into my front door," John added. "We saw the footage on the security feeds; that boy really wanted to see you."
"Don't lie to us, son," Dustin said.
"I'm not lying! We've been apart for a month now; he's probably coming to make amends."
Dustin looked into his son's eyes and asked, "Are you ready to make amends?"
"No; I'm not. I don't know if I'll ever be."
John replied, "You have to let him know this eventually. Even though you two are separated, you're both still in a committed relationship. Committed relationships cannot last without effective communication, son."
Page looked down toward the floor and responded through almost closed lips, "I know."
John and Dustin decided it was time they left. They hugged and kissed their son and went back to the main house. Once in the sunroom, John asked his husband, "Do you think he's telling us the truth?"
Dustin responded, "No; not entirely, anyways. He's lying about something."
"That's what I was afraid of."
Page walked next door to his older brother's room once he heard him enter.
"You told the rabbits; what the hell were you thinking?"
"I was thinking I'm worried about you! I've never seen you so upset before, Page. You can lie to them, but not to me; we used to be so close! You're my best friend; what happened?"
"Ashley, I love you! You're still my best friend; I'm sorry I let some boy get in the way of that."
"Page; I know how you feel about Dawson and I also know that he's not just some boy, not for you; I've come to accept this. Just tell me the truth."
"Ashley," Page pouted, taking his brothers hands into his, "I can't."
"I promise I will not tell our dads."
"I'm less worried about what they'll do and more worried about what you'll do. You're my hero and my great protector, but you can't always be where I'm needed and that's not your fault. What happened is not your fault; this is not your fault! I'll eventually tell you, but now is not the time."
"Okay; just know that I'm here if you need me. Also, USC is just down the road. If you need me, call me, I would drop anything for you."
The boys were now physically very close, with Page laying his head on Ashley's shoulder, listening to his brother's deep, soothing voice.
"I love you," Ashley said, holding Page tight.
"I love you, too," Page echoed. "Ashley, can I sleep with you tonight?"
"You can sleep with me any night, Pagie."
That night, Page slept like he had when he and Dawson were happily together, curled up in Ashley's muscular arms. Safe.
End of Chapter 10
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