So busy I haven't had a chance to post until now, much less respond to reviews or comments in the forums. It's looking to be a very busy semester, so be patient with me!
August 3, 2003
New York, NY
I opened my eyes slowly, feeling Zach’s amazing body underneath mine, and smiled. That smile changed pretty fucking fast as my stomach rebelled against the drinking I’d done. I bolted out of the bed, staring in confusion at the strange hotel room around me. I remembered getting here with Zach, I remembered fucking him like there was no tomorrow, and then I passed out. That was all fine and good, but what I really needed was the bathroom. I saw a door and charged toward it, and got lucky that it was the bathroom. I collapsed on my knees and vomited my guts out into the toilet. I stayed there for quite a while, making sure I had recovered, then rinsed my mouth out with mouthwash and wandered back into the room.
I expected to find Zach still in bed, but he was standing up, pacing, as he talked on his cell phone. “I won’t be back for a week,” he said firmly. The other person was talking, and must have been pissing him off, because his brows were narrowing. “Look, you guys threw me under the fucking bus when I didn’t do anything wrong, so here’s the deal. I’m going to take the next week off, and then I’ll be back.” He paused again. “I don’t give a shit. Kick me off the team. That’s fine.” I stared at him, amazed, wondering who he was talking to. With every pause in his conversation, his volume had gone up, so this time, he was almost yelling. “I don’t need the fucking scholarship, and I don’t need the bullshit. I’ll be back next Monday.” After a brief pause, he hung up.
“That was intense,” I said.
“Yep,” he said. “That was the coach.”
“You were talking to the coach?” I was stunned. I knew enough about football to know that you didn’t talk to the coach like that unless you were ready for some dire consequences.
“Yeah,” he said.
“Dude, isn’t that dangerous? Shit, Wade got into some serious issues with his coach for speaking out in the locker room.”
“He can be pissed at me, but it was just he and I on the phone, so it’s not like I faced him in front of everyone.”
That made sense. “What’s the deal?”
“They were demanding that I come back and meet with them, and I decided that was bullshit. They got this all worked out, so they don’t have any leverage on me.”
“Basically everything is being swept under the rug,” he said. “Julius admitted to spiking my drinks, but they’re going to let him do rehab then come back.”
“So how’s that give you the ability to be a dick to the coach?”
He frowned at me. “Because they need me to not press charges against Julius for drugging me, and because they need me to keep my fucking mouth shut so the NCAA doesn’t crawl up their ass.”
“What about Julius? Shit, the dude’s still your roommate.” I would hate to live with someone I didn’t trust.
“They’re moving him. I get my own room for this round,” he said.
“That’s a pretty sweet benefit,” I said, wondering if he’d fuck half the school in his single.
“Yep,” he said, grinning.
“How do you feel about being on the team with Julius?”
“I don’t know,” he said with a shrug. “Don’t really want to be around him anymore, but that’s probably part of the deal.”
“That’s gonna suck, though,” I said.
He shrugged. “Maybe, but probably not. I think we’ll all just do our jobs.”
“If they let you play,” I said with a smile. “You were pretty hard-core.”
“I was,” he agreed. “I thought about this shit, and just got fed up.”
“So you’re not playing?”
“Here’s where I got to, after thinking about it, and working my way out of my funk,” he said.
“That must suck,” I said sympathetically. “I’m sorry. I didn’t even think that you’d be crashing from your high.”
He smiled at me, and then kissed me. “You got nothing to be sorry for. If I’d told you what the fuck was wrong with me, then you would have known.”
“Still…” I said, but his expression told me to let it go. “So what did you decide?”
“I decided that I’m going to play if I can, and I’m not going to worry about all this other bullshit. I’ll be careful, but not paranoid, and if I get outed along the way, then my football career ends.”
“So you’ll just kind of go with it for as long as you can,” I summarized. That was so unlike him. I wondered how he’d handle that.
“Or as long as I want to,” he added.
“That makes sense,” I said.
“Once I decided that’s how things were, I kind of got this whole ‘fuck the world’ attitude,” he said. “I’m going to do my thing, and not put up with shit from anyone.”
I smiled, because not unlike my father, Zach was getting his balls back. “Anyone?” I challenged.
“Alright, maybe a little bit, but only from you,” he said.
I pushed him onto his back and kissed him, even as I stretched my body over his, lodging his hardening dick along my taint. “I want you to be my nasty boy,” I said, in my sexiest voice, and felt his dick get hard as a rock.
“I love that,” he said. I grabbed the lube that must have been there from the first time we’d had sex, and slapped some on my ass, and on his dick, then I slid his cock inside, going slowly as I took every one of his seven inches.
“Fuck yeah,” I moaned, and then he made love to me. He was in a playful mood, and he pulled me into about seven different positions, each of which hit a different part of my prostate. Damn. He picked up his pace, and I could tell he was pretty close because of his breathing. I was on top of him, and I pulled out, smiling at his frown. “Hungry baby?”
“Oh yeah,” he said. I knelt over him, stroking my cock, while he licked and sucked on the head. It took me no time at all, and I was blasting my load down his throat. He nursed every drop out of me, and then smiled up at me, licking his lips. He was so fucking cute.
“Your turn,” I told him. I lay down on the bed and he rolled on top of me, his cock sliding back into me so easily, it was like it was meant to be. He really fucked me this time, pounding my ass, but he didn’t last more than a minute.
“I’m gonna fucking cum!” he growled in my ear, even as he bit it in a gentle but sexy way. Then he damn near screamed into my ear while he had his orgasm. When he was done, he lay there, his cock still lodged in my ass, letting me feel his heart beating through my back.
“You are so much fun,” I said. “I’m glad you came back.”
“I’m glad I came back too,” he said. We lay there, just talking about bullshit stuff, until he got horny again. Then he sucked his own load out of my ass, one of his favorite things to do, and after he was done, I fucked us both to another amazing orgasm.
August 4, 2003
There were a number of things conspiring to wake my ass up. One was the sun that blasted into this room. Didn’t Carullo close his curtains? Fuck. But it didn’t matter, because my stomach roiled from my drinking binge, and my bladder was damn near ready to burst. It was at that point that my conscience re-engaged itself, making me feel like total shit for what I’d done last night.
I was lying on my side, with Carullo spooned up behind me. His sleeping arm lay across my chest in a really caring way, which was nothing like the sex we’d had. It had been more like a wrestling match. I hadn’t had sex like that in a long time, and damn, was it fun. With Marc, things were good, but they weren’t animalistic, at least not on his side of the bed. I managed to extricate myself from Carullo’s clutches and went to the bathroom, where some time with the toilet solved most of my immediate problems. I got into the shower, since going back to bed sure as fuck wasn’t an option.
Holy shit. I couldn’t believe I slept with John Carullo. I vaguely remembered coming home, and there being a discussion about rooms, and then I remembered him pretty much hauling me into his lair. That wasn’t fair. I wasn’t some innocent princess. I remembered dragging him along just as enthusiastically. Who wouldn’t? The guy was an amazing male specimen, but more than that, he had a raw energy and passion that made him one hellaciously fun fuck. But that wasn’t the issue. Carullo had slept with both Matt and Will, with two of my sons, and I’d still banged him. And he’d even slept with Wade, who was one of my best friends and since he was with Matt, he was like my son-in-law. Then I reminded myself that I’d slept with Wade too, and that made me feel worse.
And if that weren’t bad enough, Marc and I were committed, and I’d promised him that I wouldn’t cheat on him. I could rationalize that by telling myself that we were pretty much over, but that wasn’t entirely fair, since I hadn’t told him that. I hadn’t called him since I’d gotten back, and I’d left pretty abruptly; he was a smart enough guy to figure out that meant there were problems. But that wasn’t the same as actually telling him the status of things, and none of that got me off the hook for fucking a guy who’d been with two of my sons and was living with another one. That JJ and he weren’t involved was about the only redeeming thing about this situation.
Only after I finished my shower did I realize that all of my clothes were in my suitcase, which was probably still in the entry foyer. I wrapped the towel around my waist and snuck out, trying to be all slick, until I all but ran right into Stef. “JP was right. It pays to wake up early.” He eyed my physique in a strange way that managed to be non-sexual but lustful at the same time.
“I need to find my suitcase,” I said.
“It is in here,” Stef said, and pulled it out of the hall closet. “Let us see what you have to wear.” We opened my suitcase and he looked through my stuff, and handed me an outfit to wear. Normally it would bug me to have someone, even Stef, dress me, but this morning, I was happy to cede that responsibility. He gave me some shorts and a polo shirt, which was basic enough.
I went back into the bathroom and got dressed, then snuck back into Carullo’s room to get my dirty clothes, which contained my wallet and my phone. I looked at my call log, and noticed that Marc hadn’t called. I sighed even as I dragged my dirty clothes back out of the room and put them in my suitcase. Marc knew what the deal was.
I joined Stef in the kitchen and scoured the place for food. “That is Carullo’s pantry,” he said, pointing at a set of cupboards. “Will assures me that his food is better than JJ’s, and since you slept with him, I would assume it is OK for you to tap into his stash.”
“Tap into his stash?” I asked, chuckling at Stef’s attempt to use contemporary lingo in a cool way. He gave me a withering look. “Besides, who says I slept with him?”
“You spent the night in his room,” Stef noted. “That is suspicious enough, but I happened to walk by the door last night and heard things that sounded like zoo animals were being tormented.”
“Very funny,” I said, and then sighed again. “I can’t believe I did that.”
“Because he has had sex with Matt and Will or because you are supposed to be faithful to Marc?” he asked. He certainly nailed that issue.
“Yes,” I grumbled, even as I ate some cereal. “I haven’t had Captain Crunch in a long time. This is pretty good.”
“JP shared with me some of the things that happened to you,” he said gently. “I hope that was alright.” His tone was caring, and not judgmental. With just the way he spoke, he could remind me why he was one of the most important people in my life.
“That’s fine,” I said. “I would have told you everything anyway. At least when I sobered up.”
“JP is still in bed, which is unusual for him,” Stef said.
I stopped eating and looked at him, making him lock his eyes onto mine. “I’m really sorry for the way I’ve been acting.”
He smiled, and then got a little nervous. “I am just glad that you seem to be your old self.”
“I’m not sure about that,” I said.
“Well, you spent a night of drunken debauchery, and you slept with someone who had also been with your sons,” he observed. He was giving me shit, reminding about my past hookups with Wade, and that was annoying.
“How about if we turn our moral microscope back onto you?”
He grinned. “That will not be necessary.”
“What’s your plan?” I asked, wondering what his schedule was.
“We are leaving today, and going back to Palo Alto,” he said. “We’ll be there for a few days, and then we are going to Maui.”
“Why are you going to Maui?”
“Will has asked us all to join him there next weekend,” Stef said.
“What is Will planning in Hawaii?” He’d been spending shitloads of money, so God only knew what he’d come up with.
“I tried to discover what it was, but I was unable to get it out of him,” Stef said. Stef hated secrets as much as I did, so it was comforting to see that this irritated him too. “It is convenient that you returned when you did. We have a meeting tomorrow.”
“An interview,” he said, swallowing nervously. “We have been looking at acquiring another venture capital firm. The man who runs it would then ultimately serve on our executive board.”
I stared at him, aghast. There were only three people on the executive board of Caruthers & Schluter: Stef, Luke Caruthers, and me. “You want me to interview my own replacement?” I asked acidly, unable to hide how pissed off I was about this. I hadn’t even known Stef and Luke were unhappy with me until the middle of July.
“You are being dramatic,” he accused.
“No, I’m not,” I said, remembering to watch my volume. “You bitched at me about what a shitty job I was doing a couple of weeks ago. You gave me only that long to try and get my shit together?”
“Your performance has not been good for longer than two weeks,” he said, just as pissed off as I was, or so he thought.
“Well I didn’t know that until two weeks ago, and since then, thanks mostly to my son, I’ve been able to pull my head out of my ass. I think you guys could give me a chance, after all the years we’ve worked together as a team, before you just toss me out.” I was bitter and it showed. They would have a tough time firing me, but they could certainly hire someone else to do my job, and that’s evidently what they’d decided to do.
“This is not just a knee-jerk reaction to your emotional coma,” he snapped.
“Then what is it?” I demanded.
“You have been, as we have established, all but useless for the past few months at least,” he said. I said nothing, I just glared at him, conscious that this was fast becoming one of the worst days of my life. “I did not think that you would continue like that, but it is also true that it has put extra work onto Luke and me.”
I thought about that, and I could see his point. Suddenly I realized how badly I’d let not just my family down, but how I’d deserted my co-workers as well. “I hadn’t thought about it like that. I’m sorry.”
He reached over and took my hand. “I am still mad at you for leaving us in limbo, and that is making me bitchier about this than I want to be.”
“If you want to wait and talk about it later, I can do that,” I said, which was an enormous sacrifice on my part. I would be edgy and unsettled until he told me what was going on.
“I have an idea,” he said. “Since we are the only ones up, let us go grab breakfast.”
A change of venue was a good idea. I just put my cereal bowl in the sink and followed him to the elevator. We went down to the ground level, and I managed to flag a cab. The guy took us to a diner, one that turned out to be pretty good. It had a chrome exterior to make it look like an old-time train or something. The art deco theme continued inside, with a strange nautical flair as evidenced by mirrors in fake portholes on the walls. We slid into one of the booths, noticing that they all had matching red vinyl seats, and grabbed menus. Stef looked at the greasy food being carried out to the other customers, then looked at the menu, then looked at me, horrified. “I’d stick to something basic here,” I said.
“And what would that constitute?” he asked.
“Why don’t you have some freedom toast?” I joked.
He rolled his eyes. “Good idea.” We ordered, and then put our menus away. “I am not handling this well. I would like to start again.”
“That’s fine,” I said. I’d fucked up, and let them down; he’d been explaining that by being obnoxious, but now he wanted to have a discussion.
“The way our firm is structured, it is important that there is a robust team at the executive committee level,” he said. That was something I knew only too well. In the executive committee, we set overall firm strategy, and we approved deals that were very large. Our analysts were in teams, and they had approval authority for medium or small deals, but they’d forward bigger projects up to us.
“It is,” I agreed.
“We are getting a lot more of the deals from the analysts for approval,” he said. “We are not sure whether that is because our approval limits need to be increased, or because we are simply getting more and bigger deals.”
“That’s a good thing,” I said. Business was booming.
“Yes,” he noted. “But it is a lot more work, and it requires some strategic re-thinking. “
“So when I bailed on you, all of that fell on you and Luke,” I said morosely. “And you basically felt you had to take some action for our survival.”
“You are overstating things by a significant degree,” he said, annoyed with me for being so dramatic. “We are not fighting for survival, we are doing just fine. It is a preventive and enhancement measure.”
“Evidently I think I’m pretty important,” I joked.
“Evidently,” he agreed. We were interrupted when the waitress brought our food, and paused to eat some of it before we resumed our conversation.
“So if we do this deal, how will that change things?” I asked.
“My thought is that the company can function much as it has, but we will have four people to make decisions in the executive committee instead of three. We would set the quorum requirement to three, and thus one of us, collectively, is dispensable.” I eyed him carefully, trying to figure out if this really was his plan, or if he’d switched it on the fly now that I wasn’t acting like a complete idiot. He seemed sincere.
“I didn’t think the workload was that substantial,” I said.
He sighed. “I was confident that you would ultimately recover from your malady.” He paused to let me roll my eyes at him in annoyance. “But I would like to have the opportunity to be more flexible with my time.”
“You’re thinking of retiring?” I asked, shocked.
“I am not planning to retire,” he snapped. “I am planning to reduce my workload.”
“Do you remember the unpleasant conversation we had with JP and your son about our investments in companies like Halliburton?” It was obvious how irritated by that he still was, especially since he didn’t even use Will’s name.
“Who could forget,” I said, sharing his feelings about the whole thing.
“Will asked me a pointed question. He asked me how much money is enough. I have been thinking about that, and I have enough.”
“You don’t want to make more money?” That had been his driving focus in business.
“I am saying that it is not a priority for me. If we have another team member, then it allows me to be gone more. It will allow me to spend more time with JP, and it will also give me more time with my grandsons.”
“I think all of them would appreciate that,” I said. “It really is a spectacular gift.”
“Thank you,” Stef said. “I think that, as JJ has decided to move to New York, it will also give me a chance to be out here more. We share a passion for fashion.”
“Look at you, rhyming,” I teased. Will and JP had told me all about JJ’s plan. “I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea for JJ to be here in New York all by himself anyway.”
“You would be well advised to consider that your opinion on this move was not solicited, and that if you make it an issue, JJ will make it painful for you.”
“I’m still his guardian,” I said lamely, even as I was thinking this through.
“And I am willing to guarantee that JJ will enlist Will to help explain things to you,” he said. The thought of any more conflict with Will was enough to really ruin my day.
“Fine,” I said. “I’m not saying I don’t like it, I’m just trying to think it through.”
“I think you should think it through, and then you can share the results of these speculations with JJ after you have decided to agree with him,” he said. That made me laugh.
“Good advice.” Stef was pointing out that there really wasn’t much I could do about it, and it seemed like JJ had made a good decision. There was no reason to fight battles that didn’t need to be fought. “So who is this guy we’re talking to?”
“His name is Buzz Dalby,” Stef said. I wracked my brain, trying to remember him.
“Isn’t he that guy that’s based in Austin?”
“He is,” Stef confirmed. “We joint ventured with his company when funding Whole Foods.”
“That looks to be a pretty good investment,” I noted. We’d made good money on that one so far, and the future looked even better.
“His firm is entrenched in Austin’s Silicon Hills,” Stef explained. That was Austin’s version of Silicon Valley, albeit on a much smaller scale. “One advantage of this merger is that it brings in connections in the southern part of the country, especially Texas.”
“I don’t know if I ever met him,” I said. That was odd, too, since I knew most of the players in the venture capital industry. Then again, most of the people I knew were in the Bay Area.
“You would have remembered him,” Stef said mysteriously.
“What’s this guy’s background? And why’s he want to join with us if his company is doing well?”
“He was one of the disciples of Dr. Kozmetsky from UT,” Stef explained. “You will remember that he died in April.”
“That guy did a lot for the tech world,” I said reverently.
“He did. I think that Buzz has done well, but I get the feeling that he would prefer to work with a team. With Kozmetsky gone, that leaves him as a lone wolf.”
“Some guys do better in that environment,” I thought out loud. “I can see where being a one-man show would have advantages, but it wouldn’t be as much fun.”
“When I spoke to him, I got the feeling that he was lonely,” Stef said. A strange emotion for a businessman. “And he is probably experiencing, on a much larger scale, how difficult it can be to operate a business such as ours without partners.”
“If we bring him in, aren’t you worried that you’ll piss off our team leaders?” I asked. “I mean, those people have grounds to expect a shot at being part of the executive committee.”
“Luke and I considered that, but the problem is that none of them would bring a fresh perspective,” he said. “We also need some balance in our views, and our management tends to have internalized our approach.”
“We have trained them too well?”
“They perform well, and are largely responsible for our successes,” he said. “But the approach is somewhat homogenous.”
“Do we need to alter our approach to executive development?”
“I do not think so,” he said. “I think that integrating Dalby’s organization into ours will accomplish that goal.”
“That makes sense,” I said, even as I thought about what he was saying.
“There is another thing to consider,” he pointed out. “We identified four team leaders who could be candidates, and we had a very difficult time deciding which of those managers would be the better choice.” It was no mystery to me who these four stars were, and he was right. They were good, but none of them stood head and shoulders above the others.
“And if we promote one, the others may be seriously unhappy,” I said.
“That was my thought as well,” he agreed. “In this situation, Buzz becomes part of our team through a merger, even though we are swallowing up a much smaller company.”
“I can see a lot of benefits to this approach,” I said, thinking it through.
“I am not planning to disappear, and even during normal times, you are busy with Triton,” Stef noted. He was right: it would be nice to have a safety valve if I got too involved in another project.
“That’s true, although I’m not sure how much longer Triton’s going to be a big diversion for me,” I told him.
“You are seeing potential changes after the stock refloats?” he asked. We were planning to take Triton public again within the next few months.
“I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised,” I said. “The ironic thing is that as out of place as I’ve been at Caruthers & Schluter, I’ve fit in more at Triton.”
“They are a more conservative company,” he said.
“They are, and there are political considerations here as well,” I pointed out. “I’m not exactly the poster child for the chairman of a major defense contractor.”
I smiled ruefully. “Well, being gay isn’t usually seen as a big positive when dealing with the military.”
“I have known military men who were very glad I was gay,” he said, making me laugh.
“No doubt,” I agreed. “I also don’t have a very conservative voting record, and my political contributions haven’t been to candidates who are part of or support this administration.”
He thought about my words. “You are thinking that once the stock is refloated, and once we significantly reduce our control, you could find yourself facing a hostile board.”
“I don’t think the board will be hostile, I think they will merely suggest that it’s time for a different person to serve as chairman,” I told him. “No one has said anything to me about it, but I can see the writing on the wall.”
“If you are committed to Triton, and do not want to be vulnerable to a change on the board, I am willing to consider keeping the stock private,” he said. That was an incredibly generous offer, since we had a big part of our net worth tied up in Triton. He was basically telling me he was willing to risk that to make me happy. It suddenly dawned on me where his mind had taken him over the past few months…to this place where happiness was more important than investment returns. I wasn’t quite there yet, but it was very interesting to think about.
“No,” I said. “I’ve thought about it, and I’m up for a new challenge. This has been an amazing experience for me, mostly in seeing how prototype West Coast and East Coast firms operate so differently.”
“I remember the first meeting we had with Jordan Pfinster and his team,” Stef recalled. “There was definitely a strong cultural divide.”
I chuckled. “There was, and there still is. Of all the plants and offices I’ve visited, the one that is the least friendly and the most unpleasant is the headquarters in Connecticut.”
“Let us go back to the condo and gather our party together, then we can fly home and meet with Buzz.”
“I’ll keep an open mind,” I promised, and I was actually starting to warm up to the idea.
We paid our bill and went back to the condo. Stef reviewed the morning paper, while I thought about how strangely I felt. This world was so familiar, and I fit into it as if I’d never left, but I had left, and it was different. And odd.