“So you going to have a massive party with all your brothers in Malibu?” I asked Darius as I walked him out of the house and to the waiting car.
“Could have done that before,” he said.“Don’t want to do it now and fuck up my own house.”
I laughed.“If you change your mind, let me know when it is.”
He opened the door and was about to get in the car when he paused.“You going to call JJ?” he asked.
“I figured I’d let you do it,” I said.He frowned at me.“I’ll give him a call.”
“See if you can get him to chill the fuck out,” he groused.
“Dude, I cannot perform miracles,” I joked, making him laugh.He hopped into the car and I shut the door behind him, then watched the car as it headed down the drive.When the lights vanished in the night, I went back inside and headed to my room.I was pretty surprised to see Jake Pike outside, knocking.“I’m right here,” I said pleasantly.
“No wonder you didn’t answer,” he said.I opened the door and led him in, and over to my sitting area.
“Are you here to try out the younger model?” I teased.
“Right,” he said, rolling his eyes at me.“I wanted to talk to you.” His tone said he was being serious, so I modified my psyche to match his.
“So talk,” I said, putting my playfulness aside.
“I really like your father,” he said wistfully.
“If I’m reading you right, you like him a lot,” I said.
“You’re reading me right,” he said, grinning.
“It’s obvious that he’s pretty into you too,” I said.
“Seems that way,” he said casually, like it was no big deal, when it was.“I wanted to talk to you to make sure we didn’t have problems like you did when he was with Marc.”
I smiled at him.“I think that both of you are a lot more together, but there are a couple of things that would help out.”
“What are they?”
“I told him when he was living in the City that it would be really nice if he made it back here on Sundays for dinner,” I explained.“That pretty much makes sure we get to see him once a week.”
“That makes sense,” he said, “especially after seeing the dynamic at those dinners.”
“No shit,” I agreed, thinking of the dinner tonight.“The other thing is that when he was with Marc, he stopped surfing.That’s a big deal for him.”
“And for you,” he said.
“It is,” I agreed.“It’s a passion we share.If he’s not hitting the surf at least once a month, that’s a problem.”
“Plus it’s something the two of you like to do together,” he said, drawing all the wrong conclusions.
“We do, but that’s not the issue. Look, he’s my favorite person to hit the waves with, but it’s not about him surfing with me, it’s about him surfing for himself.”
“I understand,” he said.I wasn’t sure that he did, but he at least got my point. “And what can you do to make this better?”
I blinked at him, because I hadn’t really thought about that.I wondered if that’s how I was, if I only demanded things from other people in relationships, instead of thinking about what they needed too.It irritated me that he’d made me feel like a douche, and even more because I probably was.I managed to put those negative emotions aside, and toss it back at him.“I don’t know.What do you think I can do?”
“I think that you should try to do something with your father when you can, especially surfing, and I think you should come up and visit.The City isn’t really that far, and you can always spend the night,” he said.That was so cool, because when my father had been with Marc, he’d all but set up his condo in the City to exclude us.They didn’t even have a guest room.Jake was making sure I felt welcome.
“I can do that,” I said, smiling at him and how he was handling me, then I got more serious again.“I may need your help with that.”
“Sometimes he gets in these modes where he tries to tell me how to live my life, and criticize who I decide to fuck.If I come up to the City, and he starts throwing that shit at me, I want you to back me up and tell him to stay the fuck out of my business,” I said.
“I can try,” he said, which was hilarious, because it showed just how well he’d gotten to know my father already, and how he already knew how pigheaded he could be about things.
“How is Dad doing with this deal with JJ?” I asked, changing the subject.
He grimaced, probably because he didn’t want to betray my father’s confidence, but he seemed to relax after a second.“He’s conflicted, because it’s like his father is having a battle with his son.His solution is to try and smooth things over so there’s no major rift, and to try to heal the wound.”
“Did he work out the deal with Stef to transfer the condo to JJ?”
“I think so,” he said. “He was going to send JJ an email letting him know.”
“Good,” I said.He stood up and so did I, and I gave him a nice hug.
“We should talk more often,” he said, and I nodded, because we should, because I liked him, and because I was pretty sure he’d be good for my dad.
He left my room, so I pulled out my phone and sighed, dreading this phone call I had to make to JJ.It only rang two times before he picked it up.“Hello,” he answered crisply.
“Hey,” I said.
“I heard about dinner,” he snapped.“Thanks for having my back.” I briefly wondered which of our family members he’d talked to, because he’d evidently gotten the scoop pretty fast.
Even though he was being sarcastic, I responded like he hadn’t been.“You’re welcome.”
“So basically, you and Darius told everyone I was a bitchy diva and a big tattletale,” he said.
“Well yeah,” I said. “You are.”
“Fuck you!” he yelled.
“Next time you yell at me, I’m hanging up,” I said loudly.He said nothing, but I knew he’d heard me.“What was your end goal here?” I demanded.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“In your email, you said you wanted it to be established that the condo in Tribeca was yours.Isn’t that what you wanted?”
“That doesn’t excuse what Stef did to me…”
“Did you get what you wanted?” I asked him again, cutting off his rant.
“I got the condo.”
“Then shut the fuck up and move on,” I said.“No one wants a big family issue over this.”
“Oh I get it.Because it’s me, and not you, there should be no drama and we should just forget about what I had to put up with,” he said in his snarkiest way.
“No, what we’re saying is that there are probably other issues involved here, because Stef doesn’t usually act this way.So you being a total fucking asshole about all this doesn’t help him, or the rest of us,” I said rudely.
“Whatever,” he said.
“How are things with Carullo?” I asked.
“I don’t know, and I don’t care,” he said, then ended the call.That answer told me a lot about what was bugging him, and that Stef wasn’t the only one who had other issues involved.
September 17, 2003
Palo Alto, CA
“My life would be really nice if I wasn’t battling South American drug lords; and JJ and Stef would quit creating drama,” I groused to Jake.
“You don’t think your life is very nice?” he challenged.
I smiled at him.“You’re right.My life is very nice.You make it nice.”I kissed him, and then our clothes were off in no time and we were having amazing sex yet again.I remembered how I’d been this insatiable when I’d first started going out with Marc, but I’d been nowhere near as satisfied.We were lying there, enjoying the afterglow, when my phone rang.I looked at it with dread, saw the caller ID, and decided the dread was justified.“It’s Stef.I need to take this.”
“I’ve got a quick errand to run,” he said.He threw on some casual clothes while I answered my phone, wondering what kind of errand he had to take care of.
“Good evening,” I said, as I answered the phone.
“And how did dinner go?” Stef asked acidly.
“You should have been there,” I teased.
“I have put up with enough complaining, pontificating, and moralizing from family members to last me a lifetime,” he said.
“Then why do you care what happened at dinner?” I asked.
“Are you going to tell me or not?” he demanded.
“You’re in an unusually bad mood,” I chided, then stopped torturing him.“Dinner went about as well as I expected.I told Darius I was giving him the house in Malibu, the one Jeanine mostly lived in, and I told the rest of them we were going to give the condo in Tribeca to JJ.”
“You did that without waiting for my approval?” he demanded, referring to the condo in Tribeca.
“I think that you have other battles to fight, and in reality, the only people who have a right to complain about that transfer are Will and Darius,” I explained.Unlike Mother, he understood why that was without me explaining it.“They were both fine with it.”
“I suppose you are right,” he agreed.
“The general consensus at dinner is that both you and JJ are divas, and that no one really wants to get involved in your petulant spat,” I said firmly, because he had annoyed me.
“He ruined my party by setting off the fire alarm, and I am being petulant?” he demanded rudely.
“You are,” I said.“You breezed into his world, threw a party without even telling him, set up a veritable orgy so the guy he liked ended up in a threesome, and so poorly policed things that a couple was able to go into his bedroom and fuck in his bed.”
“It is not my fault John Carullo enjoys multi-party sex,” he grumbled.
“It is not, a point Will made quite clear tonight, but you are still responsible for the other things.You have behaved very badly, and your refusal to come to the talent show on Friday is only making things worse,” I said.Part of me found this conversation agonizing because of the love and respect I had for Stef; but part of me found it satisfying, because of the way he’d been able to hold my own idiotic behavior over my head in the past.
“So you all convened, and agreed with JJ, and decided that I have behaved badly,” he said, the fury quite clear in his voice.
“No, we all convened and decided that you behaved badly,” I said.“Claire said that she saw you ignoring all of your responsibilities and duties to this family, with no sense of remorse for your actions.She pointed out that in addition to this deal with JJ, by not coming to the event on Friday, you’re basically slapping Marie, John, Will, and JP in the face, and you’re embarrassing the family.”
“That is what she thought?” he asked, outraged.
“That is what she thought, and every single person at that table agreed with her.There were no exceptions,” I said.I rarely used my full power posture with Stef, but I was using it now.
“Not even you?” he challenged.
“Not even me,” I confirmed.“JP said that once you were done feeling embattled, and looked at things logically, you would ultimately agree with us.”
“I am not so sure about that,” he grumbled.
“I am.You are too smart not to do that kind of mirroring and self-evaluation.And JP said that, because he loves you, that when you do figure it out and apologize, he will forgive you,” I explained.
“I am not sure why groveling is such a relished activity in this family,” he said, making me smile internally.He and JJ really were so much alike, it was no wonder that when they fought, it would get ugly.
“Would you like to know what everyone else said?” He didn’t respond, but I knew he was listening.“They all agreed that when you did that, they would forgive you too.”
“So JJ destroys my party, but I am the one who must beg forgiveness and slink on the ground to my family, while his punishment is that he gets to keep the condo?That is fair?”
“That is fair,” I said.
There was silence for a bit, but I knew he was just gathering his thoughts.“Thank you for relaying this to me in a relatively factual way and for letting me know where I stand.”
“You’re welcome,” I said.We ended the call, and I was confident that JP was right, and that Stef would figure things out in the end, but for right now, he needed limited piling on.
Jake came strolling back into my room, in his typically happy mood.“Hey.I’m back.”
“I’m glad,” I said, and gave him a nice kiss.“Where did you go?”He smirked at me, giving me shit for being too curious about his errand not to ask about it.
“Went to talk to Will,” he said casually.
“You were going to try out the younger model?” I joked.
He laughed.“That’s the same thing he said to me when I got there.”He laughed even harder when he saw how much that annoyed me.“I wanted to make sure he didn’t have problems with us like he did when you were with Marc.”
That sparked a whole bunch of emotions in me, but rather than react like an idiot, like I would have before I pulled my head out of my ass, I processed them and dealt with them.It bothered me that he felt the need to get involved to try to manage my relationship with Will, and it bugged me that he thought I’d learned absolutely nothing from my prior relationship with Marc.All that was just a brief irritant, one that was blown away when I realized what he’d really done.Unlike Marc, he understood how important my relationship was with my family and especially with my sons, and he was going to put himself out there to help keep those strong.On top of that, his actions showed me that he was really into me, and he planned for us to be a couple for more than just a week or two.“What did he say?”
“He said that we should be here for dinner on Sunday, and that I need to make sure you take time to surf once a month, at least,” he said.That was a pretty good recipe for keeping me grounded, and it had been the same things Will had scorched me about when I’d been with Marc.
“Seems reasonable,” I said.“I should surf with him when I can.”
“He explained to me that while that would be awesome, it was less about you doing that together, than you getting out and surfing, period,” he said.He was looking at me, because he probably didn’t get what Will was saying, but I did.
“Water grounds me, being in the ocean is like a salve, and he knows that,” I said, in an almost detached way.
“I asked him what he needed to do to help maintain your bond,” he said.I was surprised by that, since I usually got all the blame for fucking up our relationship.
“What did he say?”
“He asked me what I thought.”
“And what did you think?” I asked.
“I told him that he should make time to surf with you, and that he should come up and stay with us in the City whenever he could,” he said.Marc had all but blocked my family from our lives in the City, while Jake was rolling out the red carpet.
“You did good,” I said, then we had sex again, only I was starting to wonder if we were making love.
September 18, 2003
“Good morning,” I said to Jacinta pleasantly as I walked into the kitchen.
“Good morning,” she responded, and seemed surprised that I was being so nice.After she’d had my back a few nights ago, and after she’d totally cleaned up the condo, she’d elevated her status in my mind to one approaching Rosa, and that meant that I would treat her nicer.
“You did a great job cleaning things up,” I said to her sincerely.“Thank you, and thank you for getting it done so quickly.”
“I am happy to do it,” she said, then got a little nervous.“I am thinking that I will take the extra money you are paying me and go visit my relatives sometime when you do not need me around.”
I smiled.“I don’t know when that’s going to be, because I’m pretty sure I’ll need you around.”She got nervous, because she thought I was serious.“I’m teasing.Plan it whenever you want.I’ll be just fine.”
“Maybe over Christmas,” she said.
“That works, because I’ll probably be in California,” I said, even though I was seriously annoyed with most of those people right now.“Where are you from?”
“Puerto Rico,” she said.I’d never been there, and I knew nothing about that island.
“It’s nice and peaceful this morning,” I said to change the subject.
“It is,” she said.“It is just you and me.”
“John is already at work?” I asked, which should be evident, since he left earlier than I did under any circumstance.
“Mr. John moved his things out yesterday,” she said.I stared at her, stunned by that.
“He moved out?” I asked.
“Yes.He came back with some men and took his things out,” she said.“I have not yet cleaned up his room.I am going to do that today.”
“Thanks,” I said, and got up and walked down to Carullo’s room, with Jacinta trailing behind me.I’d gotten home late last night and hadn’t gone in to see him because I was still pissed off at him.We opened the door and the main area was empty of all his things. Even though the basic bed and furniture that had been there before he moved in were still there, the space felt sad and forlorn.
“It is pretty clean,” Jacinta noted, which would be what was important to her.
“It is,” I said, trying not to sound to somber.I looked in his closet, which was empty, and then into the bathroom, which was empty as well but for an envelope taped to the mirror with the word “Jay” written on it.I took it off, even as I looked in the mirror, which was something I normally enjoyed doing, but today I didn’t really want to look at myself.“I’m going to go get ready for my morning,” I told Jacinta, and strode back to my room to be alone and read his note.
Thanks for everything you did for me.You gave me a place to live, and helped transform me from a stupid college jock into a guy with at least some class.I really enjoyed the time we spent together, and I really am sorry that I hurt you.I know I’m not ready for a relationship, and I don’t think you are either, but I hope you consider me a friend.I really care about you, and if you need anything, you just have to ask.
I decided that I’d be better off moving up to Bristol now, and that way I can save on my commuting time.You’re always welcome to visit.Give me a call.
It was a nice note, and I really did care about him.He was probably right about him not being ready for a relationship, but I didn’t see how or why he could lump me into that category.I was ready to be with someone.I could make a commitment, a pledge, and be faithful.He was the one who had to fuck two other guys, not me.I let my anger with him shield the pain of losing him, then I took a shower and got ready to go to Bryant Park.Right before I left, I logged onto my computer and checked for emails, and found that I’d gotten a response from my father.
CC:JP Crampton, Isidore Hayes, Frank Hayes, Will Schluter, Darius Schluter, Matt Carrswold, Claire Hobart, Jack Hobart, Marie Hobart, John Hobart, Wade Danfield, Cody Warren, Marcel Plaquet & Stefan Schluter.
When we bought Will his house in Hawaii, I had meant to do something for you and Darius as well.I’m going to try to atone for that now.I have given the house in Malibu, the one you grew up in, to Darius, and I’m transferring the condo in Tribeca to your trust.It is now your home, and you can treat it as such.
I understand your outrage over finding out there was a party at your condo, and I think you have every right to be upset that the party was so poorly organized and policed that strangers were able to go into your room and have sex.I think you deserve an apology for putting up with that, and for the way that disrupted your household.
At the same time, I think that you could have at least tried to track down Stef and let him fix the problem before you set off the alarms.I imagine that by doing that, you created no small amount of gossip around the issue, one that is embarrassing to both you and Stef, whether you realize it or not.I also think it is reasonable for you to consider how you’re treating Stef, when he’s done so much for you.There are clearly issues he’s dealing with, and it would be better for you to try to help him through them in a loving way than by being so petulant.
I stomped my foot, enraged at how all of my family members were dealing with this, how they just let all of my problems and issues go unaddressed and focused on how it was my fault for being self-absorbed.I went to Bryant Park and tracked down the Olsen twins and their posse, and didn’t even bother to try and find Stef or Bellona.
September 18, 2003
“S’up?” John asked me as I sat down at our lunch table.
“I think I kicked ass on my test this morning,” I said proudly.I was pretty confident that I’d moved that ‘B’ up to at least an A minus, but I’d have to wait until it was graded to be sure.
“Doing better than me,” he grumbled.He wasn’t the academic overachiever that Marie and I were.“Last night turned out better than I thought it would.”
“No shit,” I agreed.Everyone had pretty much pulled in their claws, at least for the time being.
“You did good.Didn’t completely lose your mind,” he said.I found that annoying, that both he and Darius seemed to think I was this loose cannon.I honestly thought that when I did go off, I had a good reason.
“Whatever,” I said, to shut down that conversation.
“I cannot imagine that semen stains on one’s bed are not a significant issue,” John said, imitating his mother, and cracking me up.Marie walked up to us, with Jacob Bornstein trailing after her.Jacob was tall and skinny, with brown curly hair, a big nose, and brown eyes.He was pretty much a total dork.
“I told you that there’s no room to schedule your magic act into the show, especially at this late date,” she explained as she sat next to me.
“It’s not fair that you didn’t consider any other kinds of talent,” he said to her in his whiny bitchy way.
“Talent?” I challenged.I didn’t like Jacob, especially after he’d gotten that DUI earlier in the year and all but killed the social life at school for a month.
“I am talented,” he responded boldly.
“You’re also a douche,” I said, getting snickers from everyone else at the table.
“I’ll let you explain all this to my mother,” he said to Marie, a clear threat, but one that made him look absolutely pathetic.It was just what JJ would have done, and that made me more irritated with Jacob than I usually would have been.
“Why don’t you do this?Why don’t you tell your cheap ass mother that we’re selling time at the talent show to raise money, so if she cuts a check for two hundred grand, you get five minutes,” I said.He gave me a dirty look and stormed off.
“Thanks,” Marie said. “Now I can enjoy my lunch.”
“I hardly think that treating someone so rudely will resolve the outstanding issues that face us,” John said, imitating his mother again, and making me laugh so hard I almost spit out my food.I’d just gotten my laughter under control when my phone rang.I looked at the caller ID and was pretty shocked to see that it was Patrick Christian.He hadn’t called me unless he was returning my calls, and I sure as fuck hadn’t called him lately.
“Be right back,” I said to my friends, then wandered away to a quieter area as I answered the phone.“Hey there!”
“Hey Will,” Patrick said.God, his deep voice was sexy.“Hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time.”
“It’s never a bad time for you to call,” I said, flirting with him.
“I didn’t know what your plans were, but I was wondering if you were going to be in New York this weekend?” he asked.
“I’ve got a thing to do on Friday night, but I hadn’t planned much beyond that,” I said, trying to figure out what he wanted.I had originally planned to go surfing with Dillon, but that was off the table now. “Why?”
“It would be nice to see you,” he said, and it was cute that he was a little nervous.
“So this is a booty call?” I asked.That made him laugh.
“Duh,” he said, which was hilarious, because it made him sound like he was 10 years younger than he was.“It’s just been a really stressful week, and I’ve got a big show on Saturday before the closing gala.When you’re around, I’m just more centered.”
“Let me see what I can do,” I said.“But keep Saturday open for now.”
“I’ll do that,” he said.It was really sweet, and it was really flattering, that he’d called me.He had a lot of guys there who would jump in bed with him, but he’d called me because I was more to him than a quick and easy fuck.
An idea developed in my head, one that may help calm some of these issues out.I thought it through during boring moments in my afternoon classes, then on my way home, I decided to give it a try.I dialed Stefan’s number.
“Hello,” he answered in a very snippy way.
“Hey,” I said pleasantly.
“I have gotten scathing calls from everyone, so I suppose it is now your turn,” he said.Man did he have a bug up his ass.
“Personally, I’m thrilled by all the shit that’s happened, because there is now absolutely no way you can give me crap for my sex life,” I said.
“And now you are throwing bullets at me in a passive-aggressive way,” he snapped.
“Stef, I was teasing,” I said earnestly.“I’m not trying to piss you off, but I had a plan and I wanted to see if you were up for it.”
“I am listening,” he said calmly.
“I got a call from Patrick Christian, inviting me out to attend his show on Saturday,” I said.
“That is most interesting.You are aware that Ella has left, and moved to Milan?”
“I heard that was her threat, but not that she’d done it,” I said.“He must be pretty much all alone.”
“And he reached out to you,” Stef mused.“That is quite flattering.”
“I thought so, and I thought I should try to make it if possible,” I said.
“So what is your plan?”
“I was thinking that you could fly back on Friday and go to the talent show at Menlo.Right after that, we can head straight to the airport and back to New York.It will take us a bit, but it would be overnight, and we should be able to get a decent night’s sleep on the plane before we get there.”
“I am not sure that I want to be around all those people who, if this were the 1600’s in Salem, would be ready to burn me at the stake,” he responded in full bitchy mode.
“Look, if you don’t go, it will look bad because you were hyped as one of our family’s guests, and you’re such a celebrity that gives the whole thing star power,” I said, feeding his ego.
“You are kind to say that, but I do not think that is quite accurate,” he disagreed half-heartedly.
“And the other big reason is that this deal is mostly for Grand,” I said.
“And that is another negative, as he is not my favorite person at this point,” he said, being incredibly cranky.
“You know, at dinner the other night I asked him how he felt about you fucking half of New York’s gay men,” I said.
“I have not been that successful,” Stef said uncomfortably, because he was nervous about this line of conversation.
“Grand said that while those men may have been lucky enough to experience one of the best lovers in the world, they only had your body, while he knew he had your soul,” I said.I knew he was smiling, even though I couldn’t see his expression over the phone. There was a lengthy pause in our conversation while he pondered my words.
“I will see you on Friday at the show, then we will return to New York as soon as it is over,” he pronounced.
“Thanks Stef.It will be really good to see you,” I said.