I was standing in front of Carullo’s door, pondering my next move, when I heard the music stop. I knew his routines, and that meant he was out of the bathroom and probably getting dressed. I looked at my watch, giving him precisely one minute, then knocked on his door. I heard him clomping across the floor toward the door. He was a big guy, towering over me by a good foot, so that explained some of the reason that his feet seemed to thud on the floor so loudly, but at the same time, part of it had to be the way he walked. It used to bug me, but I was used to it now, more or less.
“Hey, you’re up early!” he said pleasantly. He was wearing shorts with no shirt, showing off his amazing torso.
“Yeah, well I had visitors, so it wasn’t my choice,” I grumbled.
“Who was here?” he asked, even as he gestured for me to follow him into his room. He kept things pretty neat, which surprised me, since I would have pegged him for kind of a slob. I sat on his bed carefully, hoping I didn’t get somebody’s fluids on my clothes.
“Will, Darius, and a contractor,” I said.
He stopped and looked at me, both nervous and surprised. “What were they doing here?”
“They came out here to bust my balls, and to talk to someone about making some changes to the rooftop patio,” I said bitterly, unable to hide how annoyed I was at them.
“What are they gonna do up there?” he asked, ignoring the part about my balls getting busted. It was like he was implying that I deserved it. I tried not to let that annoy me too much.
“They want to replace the lawn with a pool that has two fountains in it, presumably to resemble the twin towers,” I said. I saw that impact him, since he’d lost his boyfriend in that horrible attack, and felt bad for him.
“That will probably be pretty cool,” he said, as he pulled on his shirt and sat next to me.
“Probably will be,” I agreed, and I meant it, even though I was seriously annoyed at how they were handling it, and that they didn’t ask for my feedback at all. “You have plans today?”
“I was going to go to the gym,” he said. “Nothing going on after that.”
“Want to hang out with me?” I asked, cringing internally as I did, as I risked rejection. I wasn’t good at dealing with that.
“I do,” he said sincerely, with no bullshit eyebrow gestures to tease me or anything.
“Cool,” I said, smiling.
“You know, maybe I’ll just skip the gym today,” he said, which was really sweet.
“Then I’ll hurry and get ready,” I said.
“What did you have planned?” he asked.
“Nothing, really,” I said honestly.
“Then I’m in charge,” he said with a grin. “You’re doing New York with me today.”
“You’re in charge,” I said, managing to sound excited instead of showing him how nervous that made me. Internally, I wondered if this would end up with both of us at some seedy bathhouse. Well, if that happened, at least I could toss that in the face of my asshole relatives and blame them. I did an abbreviated version of my morning routine, but not too abbreviated, because I wanted to make sure I looked good. In the end, I was done in 45 minutes, and found him in the kitchen eating. Since he was setting the agenda, I had dressed casually and just mirrored what he wore, with shorts, a short sleeve shirt, and casual shoes. I repressed my inner snob, the person who wanted to note that even though our clothes were similar, my outfit probably cost at least ten times what his cost, and looked much more chic.
“That was fast,” he said, getting a smile from me.
“I tried to hurry,” I told him. I grabbed an energy bar and ate that quickly while he finished up. We left the condo and I followed him down the stairs, something I rarely did. Isn’t that why we had an elevator?
“What a beautiful day!” he exclaimed as we emerged from the building. It was sunny and in the 70s.
“It is,” I agreed, but without his exuberance. He started walking and I just followed him. He went to the Chambers Street Subway station and we took the stairs down into the bowels of the city. I felt my nose automatically crinkling up from the smell.
“I got you covered,” he said, and put a token in the turnstile for me, then we passed through and headed to the tracks. We heard a train rumbling, and he started to pick up his pace. “Let’s try to make this one!” he said, breaking into a sprint. I ran with him and we managed to jump into the train just as the doors were closing.
“Made it,” I said, smiling, even though I felt totally out of place. Why would anyone want to travel down here where it stank, and where the people were about as weird as you’d find? It was just as bad as going up to San Francisco and walking around in the Mission District.
“This your first time on the subway?” he asked me.
“I’ve been on it before,” I lied. There was no reason to show him how totally sheltered and spoiled I was. I shut out the smells and the other people and just looked at the infrastructure it took to build and operate this underground system. He chatted away about this thing or that, but I didn’t really hear him. I was too focused on checking out the train and then when I got bored with that, on checking out my fellow riders. I decided that if I were by myself, it’s a good chance one of these people would mug me. I amused myself by trying to guess which one it would be.
“This is our stop,” he said, when we got to 79th Street. I dutifully followed him out of the station and into the sun, pausing to take a second to put on my sunglasses. He walked fast, and while I wasn’t exactly a plodder, with my short legs, I had to push myself to keep up with him. We saw this dude dragging his yappy little dog down the street, and I decided we must look like that. It was like he was in some massive hurry, which made no sense to me. I was relieved when we got to Central Park, because he chilled out and slowed his pace considerably. We passed the Museum of Natural History and then went to Belvedere Castle and the Shakespeare Gardens.
“This is pretty cool,” I said, looking at the castle.
“It’s almost as big as Escorial,” he joked.
“Almost,” I said, chuckling, even though I was seriously pissed off at the people who lived there. We just strolled around, enjoying the park and the sights, and I found that I was really enjoying myself, which amazed me. We were out and about amongst a whole bunch of other New Yorkers and tourists, and I was genuinely having fun.
“I figured this is something you probably didn’t do very often,” he said, smiling at me.
“It isn’t,” I agreed, but smiled to show him I was having a good time. We were walking by the Great Lawn when some woman went past us going the other way, wearing a hideous halter top and short shorts, which wasn’t unusual, except she was at least 70 years old and had to weigh over 200 pounds. “That is not OK,” I said with disdain, before I could stop myself.
Carullo laughed. “It isn’t.” And then we started making fun of some of the idiots we saw there, and I had an absolute blast commenting on how horribly the typical New Yorker dressed. I enjoyed his comments even more. “You hungry?”
“I could eat,” I said, wondering where he’d drag me.
“Let’s go,” he said, and headed toward the Upper East Side. “There’s a restaurant close to here, and I know a guy who works there.”
“Let me guess,” I said. “He’s your cousin.”
“Definitely not my cousin,” he said, laughing with me. Only now he had me intrigued.
As we strolled through the park, I braced myself, and broached the subject I knew I had to bring up. “I’m really sorry that I’ve been so rude to you.”
“Dude, you’re letting me live in your place, rent free. If you need me to be your whipping boy, then that’s what I’ll be,” he said. It was like he wanted to say more, but didn’t want to go there.
“That’s not how this works,” I said, then swallowed and frowned. “My brothers helped me get some clarity on things.”
“Oh yeah?” he asked, with just the slightest hint of sarcasm. I let it go, since it was deserved.
“They said that I probably made you feel like shit, and that you probably think I’m the biggest snob in the world, for turning you down so rudely when you ask me to do shit with you,” I said. God, this was awful. Being perfect was so much easier.
“You don’t have to spend time with me,” he said, but sounded hurt.
I stopped and made him look at me, something that was possible since we were still in the park with its wide walkways. “I like spending time with you.” He looked at me like he didn’t believe me. “I’m really having a good time today.”
“I’m glad you are,” he said with a big smile. “I am too.” We started walking again. “So why did you do it?”
“I thought you wanted me to go the gay clubs with you,” I said.
He stopped again and stared at me, looking dumbstruck. “I know you don’t want to go there.”
“My brothers accused me of being an idiot, for not being able to figure out if someone wanted to just go out to dinner and not to a bathhouse,” I grumbled, making him chuckle. “They were right, but don’t tell them that.”
“You’d hate a bathhouse,” he said.
“Duh,” I agreed, then got curious. “Why?”
“They’re not real clean, they’re not real pretty, but you are, so you’d have guys all but stalking you and following you around,” he said.
“You’re right. I would hate that,” I said.
“I’m not saying you have to go, but I think you’d actually enjoy some of the clubs,” he said.
“Why? They’re clean and pretty?” I joked.
“No, but there are pretty people there,” he said. “I think you’d have fun dancing, and once you figured it out, I think you’d have fun dealing with guys who hit on you.”
“Really?” I asked skeptically.
“Yeah, once you got your game,” he said. “You can be bitchy at a gay bar. It’s totally allowed.”
I laughed. “Something to think about,” I said. “If I go, I’d only go with you.”
“Good plan,” he said. We walked along, just enjoying the day. I hadn’t admitted this to Darius and Will, but part of the problem I had with being around Carullo was that he was so damn attractive. It was hard to do stuff with him and not end up lusting after him. There was something about him that was so compelling. He was smart enough, and had been exposed to enough culture and society that he was charming and interesting, but he was so huge and so raw he didn’t entirely fit into my world. That made him seem extremely masculine, almost like he was reeking testosterone, and it made me jealous as hell when I remembered how hot the scene with him and Will fucking had been.
We got to this restaurant, which was an Italian place. No surprise there. The last place he’d taken me to had been touristy and cheesy, with red and white plastic table cloths, but this restaurant was nothing like that at all. It was really nice, and really upscale. A handsome guy, about six feet tall and very thin, came walking up to us, grinning. I decided that if you took John Travolta when he was young, like when he was in Saturday Night Fever, made him a little shorter and got rid of his long hair, you’d have this guy.
“Johnny!” he said enthusiastically, and gave Carullo a big hug.
“Luca, this is my roommate, Jeremy,” he said, introducing me.
“Nice to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand in a friendly way. He had a nice firm handshake, just like I’d been taught to have.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” he said, but in a playful way.
“That’s probably not good,” I said as I threw him my best smile, tapping into my inner social beast. It was really flattering that it seemed to impact him pretty hard. I was already starting to like this guy.
“Actually it was,” he said. “I think you and I are going to get along just fine.”
I had no idea what that meant, but I just went with it. “Cool. I’m told I have a hard time making friends because I’m so bitchy.”
“Then we really will get along well,” he said, making me chuckle. “Come on, sit over here.” He led us to a nice table that was kind of off on its own, the kind of table you’d have to tip the maître d’ really well to get under normal circumstances.
“This is perfect,” Carullo said. It was pretty clear from the way he looked at Luca that they were good friends. Luca left us, so Carullo focused on me. “I think you’ll like this place better than the last place I took you.”
“I liked that place a lot,” I said, correcting him. “The food was really good. We have to go back there some time.”
“We will, but this place is a lot classier, just like you,” he said.
“Dude, you are trying to get in my pants, talking like that,” I joked back, shocking myself with my own words.
He laughed. “I’m too smart to do that.” I pretended to pout in a coquettish way, while he rolled his eyes at me.
“Just go ahead and tell me I’m ugly,” I said, continuing my act.
Instead of flirting back with me, he got serious. “Dude, I would nail you in a second. I’ve thought you were hot since I first met you.”
I stared at him, dumbfounded. He thought I was hot? I mean, I knew I was pretty handsome, and I knew that got me some attention, but I didn’t think he’d feel that way. I didn’t think I was the kind of guy he’d go for. I realized that while I was basking in the warm feeling of being attractive, a pregnant pause had grown in our conversation. “You never even tried.”
He shrugged. “I’m not ready to have a boyfriend, and I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You think I’m so pathetic that I fall in love with everyone I sleep with?” I demanded, annoyed at the thought of that, annoyed that I was probably like that, and annoyed that he’d read me so well.
“You said it yourself,” he said matter-of-factly, ignoring my outrage. “You don’t just fuck around with people. You have to have feelings for them.”
“That doesn’t mean I have to love someone to have sex with them,” I argued. “You think I don’t have any feelings for you?” Something about this guy seemed to overload my logic circuits and make me say stupid shit without thinking about my end game. In this case, I was arguing for him to fuck me, something I’d always rejected out of hand.
“I don’t know,” he said, and seemed nervous.
“Look, I know I’m a dick. I know I haven’t always been nice to you, and I’m sorry. But I wouldn’t have been such a bitch to you if I didn’t care about you,” I snapped.
“I care about you, too,” he said, but he was almost nervous about it. “I just didn’t want to lead you on.”
“How are you going to lead me on?” I asked, not following him.
“Because I can’t be in a relationship with you,” he said sincerely. “I can be your friend, and I can sleep with you, but I can’t be your boyfriend.” Before I could ask him about that, Luca interrupted us to tell us about the specials. I ordered some grilled chicken thing, only now that we’d been interrupted to order, the mood had changed, and the moment of us sharing our thoughts and feelings seemed to have passed. We talked about people we’d seen, and bullshit in general, while we ate our lunch.
Luca brought our bill, and before I could react, Carullo pulled out his credit card and put it in the little bill folio. “Let me pay for lunch,” I insisted.
“I got it,” he said.
“I am high maintenance and a pain in the ass,” I said, getting a smile and a shake of the head from him. “At least I come with lots of money.”
“Will busted my ass about this,” he said, making me wonder exactly what it was that had fired up my incredibly self-righteous and annoying brother. “He said that when someone offers to pick up the tab, you’re not supposed to argue, you’re supposed to say thank you.”
I sat there, impotently fuming, since he was absolutely right. I forced myself to smile. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” he said. I went to the bathroom, and when I walked back to the table, I saw Carullo engaged in a pretty intense conversation with Luca. I was worried that maybe Carullo’s credit card was declined or something, but when I got there, they shut up about whatever they were talking about.
“What now?” I asked.
“Come on,” he said, and led me out of the restaurant. I was pretty shocked when he hailed a cab, since he seemed to like to walk around and take the subway, but I didn’t say anything. In fact, I kept my mouth shut even when he gave the cab driver our address in Tribeca. I was worried that he was mad at me, and that he was going to take me home and deposit me like so much unwanted baggage.
The cab pulled up in front of the condo, but I had my wallet out to pay the fare. “I got this.” He made to argue, but I just gave him a steely look, then paid the guy.
“Thank you,” he said, as we walked into the building, making me chuckle. He took the stairs up to the top, again wasting an opportunity to avail ourselves of the amazingly handy elevator. I guess he was exercising, since he skipped the gym, but this was pretty foreign to me. I was pretty rigid about separating my workout activities, which happened in the gym here at the condo, from my normal activities, where I exerted myself as little as possible.
We got to the condo and I instinctively headed to my room. He kind of freaked me out by following me, and really surprised me when he walked into my bedroom behind me. “What’s up?” I asked.
“I am,” he said, in his sultriest voice. Before I could process the words, his arms were around me, his lips were on mine, only unlike the times in the past where I’d pushed him away, this time I jumped up just a bit so I could wrap my legs around him, so he was standing there holding both of us up, then I gently put my hands on the back of his big warm neck to encourage him.
His mouth assaulted mine, and every second seemed to make him more aroused, until he broke it off almost with a growl and stood me on the floor. He shed his clothes quickly, and so did I, then he pushed me onto the bed and lay down on top of me. It was a strange phenomenon, because I just completely surrendered to him, and just responded to his moves. It was almost like I’d done when I’d been with Alex, only Carullo was so dominant and in charge, it was that much more erotic. He made me feel like I didn’t have any choice, even though I knew that I did. I felt lube on my ass, then his fingers, then finally his cock was probing me. I willed my body to open up and let him in, and it did. He slid into me, with him gasping in surprise at how easy it was, and me gasping at having his big dick driving into me.
I didn’t really know what to expect or what to do, but it didn’t matter, because he knew what he was doing. He just starting pounding me, just fucking me like he was a fucking madman, while I wrapped myself around him and responded to his moves like I was a dancer responding to his lead. There was nothing gentle or caring, it was just a raw, physical coupling, one where every time he thrust his dick into me it seemed to drive out some of the demons that haunted me. When I came I screamed, actually shouted, as I completely lost control of my body.
Like a gentleman, he’d brought me off first, saving his own pleasure until I was taken care of. I could feel the conflict in him, the feeling that he should stop because I was done with my orgasm, but that was overridden by the sheer animal lust in him. I kept myself wrapped around him to tell him to go on, and could almost feel him smiling as he did. “God, you feel good,” I said into his ear, in between panting.
“Gonna blow!” he growled, and then he totally lost control to the point where he bit my shoulder pretty hard as he blew his load. It was one of the most erotic things I’d ever experienced, to be satisfied enough to be able to focus on him and how he reacted when he had an orgasm.
He collapsed onto me, panting like a dog, as he tried to catch his breath. We were both covered in sweat, mostly his, but I didn’t give a shit, which was probably the biggest indicator of how much I’d enjoyed myself. “That was amazing,” I said, even as I stroked his back.
He leaned up and smiled down at me. “Yes it was,” he agreed, then gave me an amazing kiss, one that was gentle and loving, and the animalistic fuck we’d just had made it seem that much more meaningful. “Holy shit, I hurt you!” He brushed his hand over my shoulder, while I looked to the side and laughed. His teeth marks were etched into my skin.
“You did not hurt me,” I said emphatically. “I’m fucking tingling all over.”
He grinned and actually blushed, which was just adorable. “Dude, if I’d known you were that good of a piece of ass, I’d have just camped outside your door until you finally gave in and let me fuck you.”
I laughed. “I have never felt anything like that before.”
“See,” he joked. “Sometimes practicing is a good thing.”
“I’ve hardly had any practice at all,” I said in the sexiest voice I could manage. “You saying I’m a bum lay?”
“I’m not saying that at all,” he said, and then he fucked me again.
September 7, 2003
San Francisco, CA
I’d escaped up here to the City, and was enjoying the beautiful weather and even prettier view from the balcony of my condo. I felt like a complete coward for being up here, and I felt even worse for being a total failure as a parent. I’d delegated dealing with JJ to Will and Darius, thinking they’d be able to have a chat with him and set things straight. Instead, they’d gone out to New York and totally rocked his world. It was too soon to know if they’d been successful or not, but since Stef had coached Darius on what to do, they’d probably pulled it off.
JP had told us about his call with JJ, and that had irritated Stef so badly he’d gotten up and gone back to his room to pout, almost like he was JJ. He knew that we needed to get JJ to pull his head out of his ass, and he knew this was probably the best way to do it, but he had a close bond with JJ, so that made it painful for him. He’d known there was no way he could have contact with JJ and not cave to his bitching, so he’d refused to answer his phone or talk to him. Instead, JP had handled it.
It was almost funny, the way JP had been annoyed that JJ hadn’t immediately fallen into line during their conversation. Will gave JP almost God-like status, and Darius was only slightly less worshipful, so either one of those guys would have been floored by his disapproval, but JJ wasn’t like that. First of all, he didn’t revere JP like his brothers or cousins did, but even more relevant was the fact that JJ was so stubborn when he was wrong about something that not even JP could get through to him. I salved my conscience by telling myself that neither Stef nor I would have had any luck either, but I worried that I was just rationalizing.
But the end result of this whole ordeal was that Stef had been incredibly bitchy and moody, so that’s why I’d come up here to San Francisco. The plane was taking Darius back to LA, then bringing Will back up here, so I’d planned my day out so I could leave here in time to pick Will up at the airport. Since they’d taken a bunch of stuff with them, I’d had one of the staff drive me up here, yet another care removed from my day. I hung around my condo, just enjoying the solitude, until I got bored then I did some work until it was time to go pick up Will.
I managed to get to the airport before him, probably because the traffic on Sunday was pretty light, but I was still proud of my timing. I only had to wait 15 minutes for the plane to pull up to the FBO. I waited inside the limo until the door open and I saw him coming down the stairs, not because it wasn’t nice outside, but to have fun and surprise him. He looked really groggy, like he’d been napping, but as soon as he saw me, his face lit up, and he bounded down the rest of the stairs. “You came to get me!”
“Obviously,” I said, even as I gave him a big hug. He got into the car, and I was surprised at how long it was taking to load up his luggage. “You packed a lot of stuff for a weekend.”
“That was Darius and Stef,” he grumbled. “We had to have clothes for the gala, and a backup set of clothes in case there was some kind of sartorial disaster.”
“Sartorial?” I asked, giving him shit.
“Whatever,” he said dismissively.
“So how did it go?” I asked him.
He sighed. “I’m going to have to replay this whole fucking thing at dinner, so can it just wait until then?”
“Absolutely,” I agreed. We talked about general bullshit until we got to the gates of Escorial. “7:02,” I noted.
“I’ll bet we don’t get in trouble,” Will said, but the driver pulled us up to the front door anyway, since it was closer to the dining room. We were both in tune enough to JP’s wishes, that I opened the door and we both bolted inside, where a quick glance at the clock told me we were only five minutes late. “Sorry we’re a little late,” Will said to JP, showing JP the respect he wasn’t able to get from JJ.
“I am just glad to see you home,” JP said with a smile. We greeted Stef, Jack, Claire, Marie, John, Frank, and my mother, and then took our seats. There was a considerable amount of tension in the room, emanating mostly from Stef, but we ignored that and just ate, with no one really saying anything.