I was only into the second week of my second year at Harvard Law School, and this term was looking to be a ball-buster.I sat in my study, working on my latest project, even as my mind reeled off the things I still had to do today.I was fortunate in that this year, I had no classes on Fridays, but that was small comfort based on the amount of work it looked like I’d have to do.
My phone rang, jarring me out of my study coma.I blinked at it for a ring, digesting that the caller id said it was Alex and that this was a call I should probably take.“Hello,” I said, trying not to sound dazed.
“Good morning,” Alex said, in his typically cheerful fashion.“I hope I am not disturbing you.”
“As a matter of fact, I was working on a project,” I said.
“Then I have done you a favor,” he joked.“I cannot say that I regret giving up the rigor that was Harvard.”
“As they say, no pain, no gain,” I responded, forcing myself to sound cheerful.
“I know that you are very busy, but I have called to ask you for an especially large favor,” he said.
“What do you need?”
“I have spent this week in your mother’s compound, trying to track down my mother’s whereabouts.That has not been easy,” he said.
“My mother was not helpful?” I asked.
“It is hard to tell with her,” he said, making me chuckle.“In any event, I seem to have found her.She is at a nursing home in Blacksburg, Virginia.”
My mind mentally generated a map of Virginia.“That’s in the far western part of the state, even beyond Roanoke, isn’t it?Near Virginia Tech?”
“It is,” he said.
“So what do you need?”
“I am of a mind to go see her, and I was planning to go on Saturday, but I am reluctant to go alone.I am wondering if you would be willing to join me?” he asked. I could hear the excitement and the anxiety in his tone, something that was completely out of character for Alex, which told me just what a big deal this was to him.
I had a ton of stuff to do, and what spare time I had I’d hoped to spend with Matt, Tiffany, and the kids.“Let me check with Matt, and call you right back,” I said, being both a dutiful partner, and stalling for time.
“I do not want you to feel bad if you cannot go,” he said hastily.
“I’ll call you back shortly,” I said, dismissing his concerns and ending the call at the same time.I wandered out of my study and up the stairs to our floor.I breezed through the rooms and since Matt wasn’t there, I went up another level, which was where the kids were.It was no surprise to find him there.Ever since we’d gotten back together, and especially after Bobby was born, he’d been SuperDad.“Hey there,” I said, and gave him a nice kiss.
“I thought you were working on your project?” he asked.
“I was, but I was interrupted by a phone call,” I said, with dread in my voice.
“What happened now?” he asked nervously.“Did JJ and Stef actually punch each other?”
“No,” I said, then laughed at the thought of that.“I think it would be more likely to be a slap-fight.”
“Probably,” he agreed, then looked at me intently to tell me to get to the point.
“Alex called, and he thinks he’s found his mother.He wants me to go down to Virginia tomorrow and go track her down with him on Saturday,” I said.
“He can’t do that himself?” Matt asked.
“He probably could, but I’m guessing he’s feeling a bit uncomfortable dealing with something like that in a foreign country,” I said.
“He’s also probably trying to figure out how to escape from your mother’s compound, and needs your help for that,” he joked.
“Very true,” I agreed.
“So are you going?” he asked.
“I don’t really want to, but I feel like I should help him out,” I said.
“You want me to go with you?” he asked.
“You have all kinds of stuff planned with the kids this weekend,” I said.“Tiffany will probably go postal if you bail on her.”
“Probably, but I think she’d understand,” he said.
“I think I’ll be fine, but I’ll leave it up to you,” I said.
“I’ll think about it,” he said.I called Alex back and told him that I’d meet him in DC tomorrow, and that Matt may be joining me.
September 18, 2003
I was walking through the park with Britney Spears and her entourage.It seemed like I ended up hanging out primarily with former Mouseketeers, I thought, making myself chuckle internally.She was fun, but the rest of the leeches that hung around her were not.“Where are you heading now?” she asked me.
“I think I’m going to check out Chado Ralph Rucci,” I said.I knew that was a little too highbrow for the people with her.
“I’ll see you later on,” she said in her perky way.I gave her kisses on the cheek, and then shed her and her posse like a snake sheds it’s skin.That thought temporarily freaked me out, because I had visualized a snake, and I was terrified of those damn things.
“Hey,” a vaguely familiar voice said, but not familiar enough to make me stop and pay attention.“Jeremy!”That he knew my name made me pause.
I turned around and found myself looking at Luka, although that wasn’t quite right, since he was about 6’ 2”, and that meant I was looking up at him.When I’d first met him, I’d thought he looked like a young John Travolta, and without the chin dimple, that was a pretty good way to describe him.I forced myself to be relatively pleasant to this guy who had been the other man in my love triangle with John Carullo.“How are you?” I asked coolly.
“I’ve been hoping to run into you,” he said, and he said it in such a positive and earnest way it was hard to stay mad at him.“I’m doing my show this afternoon.Will you be there?”
“I already promised John I wouldn’t skewer your stuff just to be petulant,” I said petulantly.
“I wasn’t worried about that,” he said, and seemed surprised.“I never figured you for a guy who was that petty.”
“Thanks,” I said, even though I was.
“I didn’t tell John that.I told him I wanted to get your opinion on my designs, but I didn’t know if it was alright for me to bother you,” he said.
“I didn’t know that,” I said, and felt very confused.“He just told me you were worried I’d diss your ideas because of, well…”I didn’t really know how to describe our situation.
“That is just one more lie from that guy,” he said bitterly, and that was finally an emotion I could relate to.“He bailed, left town, and all I got was a bullshit email.”
“I did better than you,” I said ruefully.“I got a handwritten note.”
“Bitch,” he said, teasing me, and making me chuckle.“I’m sorry you got hurt.”
“Doesn’t sound like it was easy for you either,” I said sympathetically, although in reality, my sympathy was more for myself.
“It wasn’t,” he said.“You want to get together sometime and bitch about John, and hate him together?”
I laughed.“I think we’d have a better time if we just hung out,” I said, even though we’d probably end up slicing and dicing Carullo, and with my mood like it was, I decided that might be a good thing.
“That would be awesome!Want me to call you?”That was cute, because it was his way of asking for my number.I handed him one of my cards.“This is so classy,” he said as he fondled it, caressing the smooth stationary.His fingers were incredibly sexy.“Just like you.”
“I’ll bet you say that to all the guys,” I said, sounding cheesy, and embarrassing myself.
“No, I don’t,” he said sincerely.
“Good morning Jeremy,” I heard Bellona say.Luka gasped at being in the presence of the formidable queen of fashion.Of course Stef was with her.
“Good morning,” Stef said to me frigidly.“And I have not met you,” he said to Luka much more pleasantly, making me feel like a total boor because I should have introduced him.
“I’d know both of you anywhere,” Luka said smoothly.“I’m Luka Brazzi.”
“Luka is a new designer, and he’s showing some of his creations this afternoon,” I explained.
“Indeed?And when is your debut?” Stef asked, flirting shamelessly, just like he’d done with all the hot guys since he’d gotten here.
“Two o’clock,” he said, and told us which tent it was in.
“I had originally planned to see the Bill Blass tent,” Bellona said, “but I think I can do that later.”She’d evidently picked up on Stef’s interest in this guy.
“That will be awesome!” he said, beaming with pleasure.
“And will you be there?” Bellona asked me.
“I will,” I confirmed. It was neat to see that perk Luka up even more.
“Then we will see you there,” Bellona said, then she and Stef moved on.
“Is he mad at you?” Luka asked me, referring to Stef.
“He is,” I said.“You didn’t hear about the party?”
“I heard about the party,” he said.“Dude, setting off the fire alarm was awesome!”He high-fived me, and that transformed my whole attitude toward him.
“Stef didn’t think so,” I said, making him laugh.
“I heard he had two dudes in bed, and your alarm went off just when they were about to,” he said, cracking me up.
“No wonder he was annoyed,” I said.“John was banging two guys in his room.”
He shook his head sadly.“Some dudes just can’t be happy with one guy.”
“I have a brother like that,” I joked, thinking of Will, even though he probably could be with one guy.I thought of Zach and felt sorry for Will, then quickly moved beyond that because I was irritated with him and I didn’t want to feel sympathy for him.
“I better go get ready,” he said.“Thank you so much.”
“I haven’t done anything yet,” I said.
“You will,” he said, winked at me, then took off toward the tent he’d be showing in.I wandered around the other tents, making notes as I went, just in case Bellona decided to quiz me later.I was kind of worried that she would try to freeze me out just to make Stef happy, so I figured that I should at least try to be prepared and show that I took this shit seriously.I got to the tent where Luka was showing his designs and was surprised by how many people showed up.It was expected to be a relatively dry affair, because it was a place for new and unproven designers to show off their stuff, but with Bellona and Stef there, the entire thing took on a new level of importance.
I saw Stef and Bellona sitting up front, so I dutifully walked up to greet them.“Hello,” I said in a friendly way.
“Jeremy, I am so glad you are here,” Bellona said, with her faux smile.“I saved you a seat.”
“That was most thoughtful of you,” I said, and sat with her.
“How do you know this Luka Brazzi?” Stef deigned to ask me.
“He dated John Carullo,” I said simply, trying not to grit my teeth as I did. Bellona seemed to be enjoying this immensely.
“Recently?” Stef asked.
“Yes,” I said curtly.There were four designers, and Luka was the third.Each of them sent out five models.We sat through the first two, and I got nervous, because they were unimpressive.
“And what do you think?” Bellona asked, with an edge to her voice.She was probably mad at me for dragging her to this thing that was a waste of time so far.
“They are typical new designers.They don’t have a sense of their own style, and their stuff is put together in a discombobulated way,” I opined, as if I were an expert.
“Certainly nothing to get excited about,” Stef concurred.
Luka’s models came out next, and even if I weren’t determined to be nice to him, I’d have been impressed.His style was a combination of the stuff Kevin Carmichael was working on, merged with the things the Olsen twins had in the mill.I was stunned to see Bellona nod, something that was a huge seal of approval from her, and almost unheard of for a new artist. “He is quite good,” she said.
“I like his edgy urban style, and the muted darker colors,” I said, in almost a stream of consciousness.We both glanced at Stef, who seemed very deep in thought.
“A good way to put it.I am quite glad you convinced me to attend this event,” she said loftily.“I would appreciate it if you would ask him to chat with me later on.”
“I will do that,” I said.The last group of models was better than the first two, but not as good as Luka.
“I am heading back to California,” Stef said to me.“I will see you on Saturday.”I wasn’t aware that he was leaving; I thought it was his plan to stay in New York.He must have gotten pressure from our family to go to the talent show, which seemed like an incredibly lame choice compared to what was happening here.
“Have a good trip,” I said simply.I went backstage where the models were, even though I almost had to throw a tantrum to get the security people to let me pass, and found Luka frenetically trying to get things put away and talk to his models.“Hey,” I said pleasantly.
“Hey!” he said.“What did you think?”
“It was really good,” I said.The models were looking at me, as if wondering why my opinion mattered.“You got a nod from Bellona.”
“A nod?” one of the models asked with a gasp. “No new designer gets a nod from Bellona.”
“Luka did,” I confirmed.“She wants you to chat with her.”
“That is awesome!” he said, and gave me an exuberant hug that reminded me of Carullo, but I returned it warmly enough.“Thank you so much!”
“You’re welcome,” I said.“Don’t forget to call me.”
“I won’t,” he promised.
September 18, 2003
Palo Alto, CA
I drove up the long lane to Escorial, and smiled then grimaced when I saw that familiar Camaro with Missouri plates here.I sighed at the extra effort it would take to welcome Tony.I’d have to spend time with him and make him think I enjoyed being around him, all while being pretty exhausted from school, homework, and practice for the talent show tomorrow night.At least that part was going pretty well.We’d done three dry runs today and pulled it off seamlessly.Tomorrow after school, we’d do it live with the sound people.
I decided to detour to Grand’s office, and found him there at his desk, looking at some papers.That the door was open told me he was available, and it would be okay to bother him.“Hello,” I said pleasantly.
“Welcome home,” he said cheerfully.I blinked a bit, because he hadn’t been in a very good mood lately.
“I saw that Tony got here,” I said.
“He just arrived a few hours ago,” Grand said.“He is in the third bedroom in the south wing.My impression was that he was tired after his drive.”
“I’ll stop by and see him anyway,” I said.“And how are you doing?”
“I am fine,” he said dismissively.
“You seem happier today than you were yesterday,” I probed, annoying him.
“I am, or at least I was until you started pestering me,” he said playfully.“Stefan is planning to come home tonight.”
“That’s great news,” I said.
“I understand that is largely your doing,” Grand said.
“I think it was actually your doing,” I said, since I was pretty sure it was the nice things Grand said about him, about being his soul mate, that was the thing that really convinced Stef to come back tonight.“When will he get in?”
“I am not sure if he’ll make it by dinner, but we can hope,” he said.I left him alone and went down to check on Tony. I knocked on his door gently, not wanting to wake him up if he was napping.I waited for a bit, then knocked again.After a minute, he still hadn’t answered the door, so I was just about to go back to my room, when his door almost flew open.Tony had obviously just gotten out of the shower because he was standing there wearing just a towel, with his hair still damp.He looked as terrific as always, with his tanned skin and his fit torso.
“Hey!” he said, and gave me a hug.
“You made it!” I said enthusiastically, even as I hugged him back.It was impossible for me to be around Tony and not be attracted to him.It was only the fact that he was with Mason, and Mason was my friend, that helped me keep my libido under control.
“Long ass drive,” he grumbled as he led me into his room.He sat on his bed and I sat in the chair near it.“Drove through the night and then this morning.Had to stop at a rest area and sleep for a couple of hours.”
“Dude, you should have gotten a room,” I said.
“I know, but I wanted to get here,” he said.
“You were supposed to be here a couple of days ago,” I said, more of a question.
“Ended up with some shit I had to deal with, and that delayed me,” he said, getting melancholy.
“Is everything OK?” I asked, and marveled that I was doing the same thing with him I’d just done with Grand: trying to get him to tell me what was going on in his head. Then again, with Tony that had been almost a constant mission.
“Mason and I broke up,” he said glumly.
“Dude, I am so sorry,” I said sympathetically.“What happened?”
“He wanted me to bottom,” he said.“I couldn’t do it.” Tony had always been a top with me, and he was really good at it.I had to calm myself down and not think about it.
“Did you ever try it?” I asked him. According to Matt, even when he’d been slutting it up at Stanford, Tony had never bottomed.
“No,” he said, and shook his head for emphasis.“It just…it just freaks me out.”
“Did you talk to Casey about that?” I asked him.Casey was his psychologist.
“Why would I talk to him about that?” he demanded.
“Because it freaks you out,” I answered.“I mean, that’s what he’s there for.”
“Not every guy has to be versatile,” he said defensively.“Why is it wrong that I’m a top?”
“It’s not wrong at all,” I said, smiling at him.“Personally, I’ve been glad that you are, and that you’re so good at it.”
He smiled back to thank me for not being a dick.“Mason seemed to appreciate it too.But suddenly it’s a big deal.”
“Maybe he thought he was the guy you liked enough to give bottoming a try?”
“You think he was testing me?” he demanded, all pissed off.
“No, I think he was really into you, and he thought you were into him, and figured that you’d be willing to give it a try with him,” I said.He looked confused, so I tried to explain myself better.“Dude, I’m just guessing here, but that’s probably what I’d think.If I was with a guy and really into him, and he wanted me to try something, I probably would.”
“I just couldn’t do that,” he said softly.
“And that’s why I think you need to talk to Casey about it,” I said.I got a frown from him for my convincing conversation.
“Won’t matter anyway, he already broke up with me,” he grumbled, changing the subject.
“Talk to Casey,” I said, as I stood up.“I’ll see you at dinner.”
“Thanks, Will,” he said.I got out of there as quickly as I could.There was something about him that attracted me like crazy, and the less time alone I spent with him, the better.
I was surprised to find Claire and Jack came up for dinner, but I wasn’t worried about tension, since Tony, Klip, Gathan, and four other hockey players were here.“I understand that Stefan is coming home for the talent show,” Aunt Claire said to the table at large.
“That is correct,” Grand said.“I checked with him, and his flight is slated to arrive at 9:00.”
It was a really fun, masculine dinner, with Grandmaman and Aunt Claire adding enough class to keep conversation relatively inoffensive.I sat in between Tony and my father.I’d been worried that my dad would totally focus on Jake like he’d done with Marc, but instead he put himself into the general conversation, and was a lot of fun.I spent most of my time flirting with Tony.I told myself I was just trying to buck up his bruised ego after ending his relationship with Mason, but in reality I was being a total little bitch and putting on a show for Gathan, so he’d relay that back to Zach.I knew that Tony made Zach crazy jealous, and I was pissed off enough at Zach right now to fuel his green monster.
I finished dinner, told Guillermo, our latest driver, that I wanted to go with him to pick up Stef, then went back to my room and grabbed my books so I could work on my homework on my way to the airport.I was walking up to the foyer when Klip stopped me.
“Dude, I’m sorry Dillon had to bail on you,” he said.
“He wasn’t mad at me, was he?” I asked.
“No, he said he had a great time,” Klip said.“Why?”
“I kind of got annoyed with him for trashing my room and just blowing me off to play X-Box live,” I said.Part of me didn’t want to talk about this, because it was like tattling on Dillon, but at the same time Klip knew him well, and I wanted his insights.
Klip shook his head.“Kid’s an idiot.He drives my parents fucking crazy with that shit.”
“With video games?” I asked.
“Yeah, and with being a slob,” he said.“Dude, my mom was freaking out, trying to get rid of the ants in our house, and couldn’t figure out where they were coming from until she went into Dillon’s room.He’s a fucking pig.”
“Well I’m glad we’re cool,” I said, lodging that info in my brain.It was probably a really good idea that he didn’t stick around; he’d have driven me fucking crazy.
“I’m glad you don’t hate me for introducing you,” Klip said nervously.
“Dude, you are not your brother, and besides, I’m glad you did.I had a lot of fun with him,” I said.
“I should introduce you to Liam,” he said.“You’d like him.”
“Then you should,” I said, raising my eyebrows suggestively.He chuckled and walked off, while I continued through the foyer and out the front door where the limo was waiting for me.
Guillermo took the big Cadillac Escalade limo that Stef liked, which was cool because there was a lot of room to spread out, and because there was another row of seats behind the driver for staff members.Stef liked that because it meant the driver, his guard, and Julian could comfortably sit up front and he could still be isolated in the back.Guillermo was kind of a tool, and even when I spoke to him in Spanish, he didn’t say much.He wasn’t cute enough for me to force him into an uninteresting conversation.I put up the privacy screen and focused on my homework.We got to the airport early as planned and he parked, waiting for Stef’s plane, but I zoned out, knocking out my homework, until I felt the limo starting to move.I put away my books and waited for the limo to come to a stop, then hopped out to wait at the bottom of the stairs to Stef’s jet.
The plane’s door opened and Stef came down first, like I knew he would.He had looked a little apprehensive when he first walked out, but got a big smile on his face when he saw me.“I did not expect you to come to the airport to welcome me back!”
“I’m full of surprises,” I said, even as I gave him a big hug.“Thank you so much for coming back for the talent show.”
“Your arguments were persuasive,” he said.Julian came down the stairs, looking grumpy.“I need to talk to Will, so you will have to sit up front.”
“Terrific,” Julian said, and sulked to the front seat.
We got in the limo, with the privacy screen still up.“I have dealt with him long enough; it is good to have a break.”
I laughed.“I can imagine.”
“And how are you doing?” he asked.
“Dillon is gone, Tony just got here, Zach and I had a fight, and I’m doing a 3000-mile booty run tomorrow to hook up with Patrick Christian,” I summarized.
“You have been quite busy,” he said.
“Not as busy as you,” I teased.
“Perhaps that is true,” he said, making me laugh.“I am having a hard time being nice to JJ at this point.”
“Now you know what my entire life is like,” I said, making him laugh.“When you can stand to do it, if you beg him to forgive you, he will.”
“I am really irritated with him for pulling the fire alarm and ruining my party,” he grumbled.“And I am really irritated with him for doing it just as the two studs I was with were about to ejaculate.”
“Dude, his timing sucks,” I said, laughing my ass off.
“The memory of the frustrated looks on their faces will probably be worth the annoyance of being interrupted,” he said, as he started to mellow about the whole thing.
“Come on,” I said plaintively.“You know you owe him an apology and that you went a little bit overboard.”
“I think he was just being sensitive,” Stef said in a snitty way.
“Stef, two strange guys fucked in his bed and left cum stains,” I said.“You and I would be seriously annoyed about that, think about how JJ feels.He can’t even stand to put on a hard hat at a construction site because he’s sure little bugs will jump on his head.Strange semen is way beyond his ability to cope.”
“Perhaps you are correct,” he agreed, caving to the inevitable.
“And he caught Carullo in a threesome,” I reminded him.“He’s too insecure to handle that.”
“His relationship with John is a hot mess,” Stef said, using an expression I’d never heard him say.
“You’ve been hanging out with Paris Hilton,” I accused, making him laugh.
“I find her to be charming and full of life,” he said.I liked her too, but JJ did not, and Darius was ambivalent toward her because she was a little too slutty and flashy for him.
“John moved out, and went ahead and got a place in Bristol,” I told him.
“Did you talk to him?” he asked.
“Briefly,” I said.“He’d been pretty much this big ball of guilt.I don’t think anything I could have said would have made that any better.”
“I tried to explain to JJ that he was too immature to deal with John and his issues,” Stef said, shaking his head.“It reminded me of you dealing with Tony when you were much less sophisticated.”
“Yeah, and now that I’m older and more experienced, I run away from him because I’m worried that if I hang around with him, I’ll let him fuck me,” I said.
“Perhaps you should,” Stef suggested.“Other than the fact that he is in a relationship with a friend of yours.”
“They broke up because Tony wouldn’t bottom,” I said.
“Then there is no real obstacle,” Stef said, but it was more of a question.
“I’m worried that I’ll spark up those feelings we had before,” I told him.
“Are you worried that those will be sparked on your part or his?”
I thought about that.“I’m not really worried about that happening for me, because I know how he is.I’d say I’m happy with being friends with him, with where we are, but that’s not true either.When we’re together, it’s awkward.”
“Understand that I am not trying to tell you what you should do,” he said.“I am conscious that would be a generally unsafe practice.”
I laughed.“I get that.What do you think?”
“You have told me that Tony isn’t very communicative.I suspect he may be one of those men for whom sex is a prime way they express themselves.I think that now that you have removed that from the equation of your relationship, there is not much left.”
“You’re telling me I should fuck him,” I concluded.
“I am saying you should think about it,” he said.The limo drove through the gates of Escorial and up to the front.
“Thanks.That’s good advice,” I said, smiling.“I’ve missed having you around.”
“We have some things to talk about,” he saw my worried expression.“You had asked me to do some introspection a while back, and I have done that.I plan to share that with JP, then we will talk on our trip.”
“Cool,” I said.I walked down to my room, even as he pondered what he said.I took 20 minutes to take a quick shower and spruce up my personal grooming, then threw on a t-shirt and some sweat pants and walked down to Tony’s room.I knocked softly, but he didn’t answer, so I knocked more loudly, so loudly I thought I might actually attract attention.
“Come in,” I heard him say drowsily.I walked in and closed the door behind me, pausing to let my eyes adjust to the limited light that came through the slightly opened curtains.“Hey,” he said in a happy way.
“Hey,” I said, as I went over and sat next to him on the bed.
“Why’d you wake me up?” he asked, even as he yawned.
“I teased you all through dinner,” I said.“I felt bad about that.”
“So you come in here to make it up to me by letting me fuck you?” he asked, joking.
“That’s exactly why I came in here,” I said, even as I stood up.
“You’re serious?” he asked, but the surprise in his voice was overridden by lust.
I pulled off my clothes and climbed in bed with him so I was lying on top of him.“As long as you’re okay with that?”
“Dude, I’ve wanted to be with you ever since the Bastille Day Party,” he said.
I leaned in and whispered in his ear, just like he liked.“Come on Tony, shove that big cock up my ass and show me what a man you are.”So he did.