I jumped up and gave Lark a big hug, genuinely glad to see him alive and well. He seemed surprised at that, but gamely hugged me back. “I knew that you were either murdered, or your suicide was faked.”
“Oh yeah? How did you figure that out?” He was smiling, proud of himself and the clues he left.
“Your note.First, you never call me ‘Brad’, and second, Robbie didn’t go to LA with us after he and I got back from Yosemite.”
“I thought that was pretty clever,” he said, being cocky.
“You would,” I joked. “So what the fuck is going on?”
He looked around nervously so I led him inside. “They were going to get rid of me.”
“They?” I asked.
“Dan and Brian and Alexandra. I taped one of Dan’s calls and heard them talking about it. They don’t have that kind of muscle here, so they were going to lure me back east and have me disappear.”
“Disappear?” I asked, knowing the answer.
“They’d have me hit,” he said, slightly frustrated.
“If they don’t have that kind of muscle here, why do you have to pretend to be dead?”
“Because once you go after them, and they know it’s me that gave you that info, they’ll make it happen, no matter what. It’s the way it has to be.”
“What about your father?” I asked. Lark’s mom had died of breast cancer a few years back, just as he’d gotten in trouble with the SEC for insider trading. “He’ll think you’re dead.”
“Fuck him. He won’t even talk to me anymore. If he thinks I’m dead and he thinks I died hating him, so much the better.” The bitterness in his words was really sad. “He never forgave me after I came out as a bisexual. And then after my mom died, he blamed me for her death. He was probably right.”
“Lark, that’s bullshit. She died of cancer. You can’t control that.”
“No, but with her son being hauled off by the SEC, and her husband a total dick, she didn’t have a whole lot of reasons to fight it, did she? She lost her will to live.”
“You don’t know that,” I said. “And even if that were the case, she’d really be pissed off at you for sitting here being depressed about it.” Lark’s mom had been a very happy person, and demanded the same of those around her.
“Easy for you to say,” he groused. I let it go.
“So what was your plan?” I asked curiously.
“I don’t have one, I don’t have to. I knew you would,” he said, giving me a cocky grin.
“So you trusted me to find you a way out of this mess?” I asked. It stunned me that he’d have that much confidence in me.
“You have a plan?” he asked pointedly.
“Well yeah,” I answered sheepishly. Maybe Robbie was right. Maybe I did try to dominate and run other people’s lives.
“Let’s hear it,” he said.
“We’re going to get you out of here tomorrow night.” I looked at the clock and saw that it was already 1:00am. “Well, I guess it’s actually tonight. Stef’s yacht will be offshore, and they’ll send a Zodiac in to take you off.”
“So I spend my days in luxury on Stef’s yacht?” Lark joked.
“That won’t work. Someone might recognize you. You won’t be safe.”
“Alright, so what’s after that?”
“You’re going to Mexico. We’ve got some friends down there, friends who aren’t the most moral and upstanding of citizens.”
“I should fit right in,” he joked.
“No shit,” I joked back. “You get to visit a plastic surgeon and finally get that monster nose of yours cut down to size, maybe get a stronger chin so you don’t look like such a pussy.”
“Fuck you,” he said good-naturedly. “That’s gonna fucking hurt.”
“See, you are a pussy. Then, with your new look, a new name, and a fake passport, probably Canadian, you’ll be a new man.”
He stared at me then, amazed. “I can start all over?”
“Yeah, anywhere but the US. That wouldn’t be real smart.”
“So what will I do?” he mused.
“That’s really up to you,” I told him. “You might not want to cut too public a profile, since you’ll be living on a created identity.”
“What about money?”
“The two million bucks I promised you will be in an offshore account. You’ll have some seed money for whatever you do. Hell, you could move somewhere and spend the rest of your life surfing.”
“A fresh start. You don’t know what the means to me, B. I’ve fucked up my life so bad, it’s like the failures follow me around and haunt me. I can’t get a real job with my criminal record. All I know how to do is surf and fuck. Now I can start all over. I can put that behind me.”
“You just have to lay low for the rest of the day, and then you’re on your way. In the mean time, you may want to start with a shower.” He reeked pretty badly.
“Yeah, I walked a long fucking way. It’s almost 30 miles here.”
“You didn’t hitch a ride or anything?” I asked.
“Nope. I didn’t want anyone to see me, to leave any clues. I left the notes two days ago, figuring Dan was out of town and they wouldn’t get them until today. Then I walked as far as I could, camped out, and made it the rest of the way tonight.”
That was a long walk. “Take a long, hot shower. I’ll make you something to eat.” He nodded and hobbled off to the guest room. I put some food together for him and laid it out, then called JP.
“It is late Bradley, what do you want?” he asked, very irritated.
“It’s a go,” I said. He knew what that meant. I felt him wake up.
“We’ll make sure things are in order,” he said.
Lark came out wearing nothing but a bathrobe. He still looked good, real good, but he didn’t tempt me at all. I sat there and chatted away with him while he ate.
“So do I get to sleep with you tonight?” he asked in his bedroom voice.
“Sorry stud, I’m spoken for,” I joked.
“It’s only the two of us. No one else will ever know,” he said, raising his eyebrow.
“I’d know,” I said firmly. “Sleep well.” He smiled at me and hobbled off to his bed, while I headed back to mine.
I must have been really tired, because I barely remembered lying down and then I was asleep. I woke up the next morning and immediately sensed that something was different, something wasn’t quite right. It only took me a second to figure out what it was. I was sleeping on my side and Lark was spooned up behind me, his arms wrapped around me. I heard his soft snoring and smiled, thinking about how many times we’d spent just like this, occasionally after he fucked me. Only this time, he’d made sure the sheet was between us, so the only naked parts of us that were touching were our upper bodies. I smiled at that, at how he’d respected my wishes and still found a way to get a least some physical closeness, and let his soft snores lull me back to sleep.
Hunger finally woke us up. I heard Lark’s stomach growl, and that made me giggle. “Thanks for letting me sleep with you, B,” he said.
“Well, I didn’t let you sleep with me, you just did it, but you were a gentleman, and my virtue is still intact, so I’ll forgive you,” I said. He just gave me his goofy look. “It was nice, alright?”
“Let’s make food.” We made a late breakfast and sat there, wolfing it down. Only after we’d sated our hunger did we stop eating like pigs so we could have a conversation too.
“So what do we do today?” he asked.
“We go through all your shit and burn it,” I said. “Everything.”
“Yep. Nothing can identify you.” I got up and gave him some of my clothes. We were pretty much the same size. Then we had a bonfire and tossed all of his clothes, his identification, everything into the fire.
“I feel like I’m watching my whole life go up in smoke,” he said.
“Yeah, but you didn’t want that life anyway,” I told him.
We kept the fire burning and tossed lots of logs on to really make it big, then used it to barbecue lunch. I poked around enough to make sure that everything was burned that could be traced back to Lark. We were just lounging around in the great room around 4:30pm when the phone rang, announcing visitors at the gate.
“This is Lieutenant Davis of the Santa Cruz Police Department. We’re here to ask you a few questions,” he said. I looked through the camera and saw the asshole cop from Hillsborough in the car.
“Lieutenant, my attorney has advised me to refer all questions to him,” I said politely.
“We’ll be back with a search warrant,” the asshole cop said, and got a dirty look from Lieutenant Davis.
“You are welcome to seek one. Good luck with that,” I said, and hung up the phone. I called Gordie right away, and then started strategizing about how to get Lark out of the house before they came back with a search warrant.
“I’ve got an idea, B,” Lark said. “You still have those scuba tanks in the surf shack?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know how much air they have in them,” I told him.
“I won’t need much. I’ll go put on a wetsuit and the tanks and go down to that little cove just north of the steps. As soon as it gets dark, I’ll grab a board and swim out. The boat can pick me up offshore. If the cops show up, I’ll just go underwater until they leave.”
I thought about it. “How will the boat find you?”
“You got a light? One of those waterproof ones?”
“I think so,” I said. We scrambled around to get the stuff together, and I called Stef so he could let the boat know what to look for. Finding a lone guy on a surfboard in the dark of night in the Pacific Ocean was going to take a lot of effort and a lot of luck. It seemed really crazy to me, but then again, if he were busted by the cops, he’d be in some deep shit, and I probably would be too. At 6:00, it was dark enough for him to go for it. I gave him one last hug, and watched him paddle out to sea with a board. I wondered if that would be the last time I would ever see him; if that would be the way I remembered our last moment.
As soon as I got back to the house, the phone rang again. It was the asshole cop from Hillsborough, along with the Sheriff and a couple of his deputies. “I have a search warrant now,” he said triumphantly.
I buzzed him through, and scanned the place quickly to make sure no signs of Lark were in the house. I watched as they pored over the house, desperately looking for Lark. I was on edge; both at having them invade my privacy and worrying about Lark. My cell phone rang at 7:30pm.
“How are you doing?” JP asked.
“Pissed off. Watching cops rummage through our house,” I said, glaring at them. The deputies looked back apologetically. “Make sure that asshole from Hillsborough gets his ass fired.” He glared at me.
“He’s safe,” JP said, referring to Lark. I simply hung up the phone and turned my attention to the cops.
“How much longer are you going to be?” I demanded. “I’ve got to get back to LA, and there’s a plane waiting.”
“We’re all done here,” the Sheriff said.
“No we’re not,” the Hillsborough asshole said.
“Yes we are,” the Sheriff said. They walked out the front door and got in their cars. “I hope you know we were just doing our jobs, Mr. Schluter,” the Sheriff said.
“I know. Not your fault.” I turned to the asshole cop. “You’re going to find out that you took bribes from the wrong people.”
“What? What did you say?” he stammered. “You can’t talk to me like that!”
“Fuck you,” I said. “Get the fuck off my property.” He glared at me, looked around impotently, then jumped in his car and took off. I secured the house, got in the Ferrari, and headed to Escorial.
JP and Stef were there to greet me. “I’m anxious to get home,” I told them, to cut short any long, drawn out discussions. I summarized my conversations with Lark, and waited to hear how Lark had managed to escape.
“They found him floating around, just as he planned,” Stef said. “If it were not for that light, and the fact that the sea was calm, they never would have found him.”
“But they did,” I said, ending the drama of speculation. “Joaquin will take care of him?”
“He will,” Stef said. “And money has already been transferred into an offshore account for Lark.”
“How did you manage that?”
“Mr. Min owed me a favor,” Stef said with a grin. I laughed at that, at how Omega’s money would ultimately pay for Lark’s escape and his new life.
It seemed to take forever to get to the airport, and then it seemed to take even longer to fly down to Van Nuys. I was so anxious to just be home, it was making things seem like they were moving in slow motion. Finally, we landed and I was in the car, only it seemed to be going slow too, even though we were passing other cars. It was late by the time I got home. I looked at my watch: 12:30am.
I dropped my bags in the foyer and dragged myself up the stairs. There were ladders and construction equipment here. I smiled to myself. They were working on our ‘love den’. I laughed out loud as I thought about it; I was dying to see how Stef would set it up. I walked into our bedroom and heard soft snoring. Robbie was lying there on his back. He was stark naked, with his left arm at his side and his right arm stretched out on to my side of the bed, like he was reaching for me. I quietly stripped off all of my clothes and grabbed the lube. He was a pretty sound sleeper, so I figured I could have some fun with him before he woke up.
I pulled the sheet and blankets down until his cock was exposed. It lay there limp, draped across his big balls. I took it into my mouth, gently sucking on it, slowly getting him hard. He moaned and thrust up into my mouth, but he wasn’t awake. I worked him until he was really hard, then I lubed him up carefully so I didn’t wake him. I moved onto the bed, trying hard not to move around too much, until I was squatting right over him. I slowly lowered my ass down on him. I felt his cock at my hole, felt it push through my ring, then felt the sheer ecstasy of having him inside me.
“Mmm,” he said, and then moaned and pushed up. I slid up and down on him, and that woke him up.
“I’m home,” I said, smiling down at him.
“So I see,” he said, smiling back at me. I leaned in and kissed him, meshing our mouths while my body moved up and down. I savored the feeling of him moving in and out of me, of his caring touches as I did, of his sexy words that lit me on fire. I knew he was close when he grabbed my dick and urgently started stroking me, trying to make sure I got off too, but it was to no avail. He still came first. I milked him dry with my ass, then sat there on his cock and jerked myself off, blasting my load all over him.
“Fuck, that was hot,” he said as he scooped my cum off his chest and ate it. I grabbed a towel and wiped up the rest.
“I love you,” I said.
“I love you too. Did you save Lark?”
“I think so. He’s on the boat anyway,” I told him. I knew what he wanted. He wanted to ask if I fucked around with Lark. He wanted to know, but he didn’t, and he wasn’t sure how to ask me without making it look like he didn’t trust me.
“Lark snuck in and slept with me last night,” I told him. I watched him try not to get pissed off. “He made sure there was a sheet between us, and then he spooned up behind me. It was actually kind of sweet.”
“He didn’t try anything?” he asked, surprised.
“Nope, he didn’t. You think I’m ugly, and that’s why?” I teased.
“No, I think he knew it would be a waste of time, because you’re loyal to your partner.”
“I just came, and you’re already making me so fucking horny I can’t stand it. Can I fuck you? Please?” I asked, pretending to beg. Like I even needed to. After that orgasm, I fell asleep, contentedly wrapped around the man I loved.
January 6, 2000
I couldn’t believe I was back in the plane and on my way to Connecticut via Palo Alto. “You know, it would be really nice to be able to stay home for a while. My life was a lot calmer before Alexandra and Brian started fucking it up.”
“You’ll get your chance after you take them down,” Robbie said reassuringly. “Look on the bright side. It’s almost a week since the new millennium and the world hasn’t ended.”
I smiled. “Good point. Once again, Stef looks like a savant. Amphion got the last Y2K deal we bid on. I’ll bet they lost half their money on that one this week alone.”
“I had fun this morning,” he said, leering at me. Stef had handed us these molds at breakfast and told us to make impressions of our erections. Evidently our ‘love den’ had to include realistic dildos of each of us. It reminded me of when I got braces as a teenager and they took an impression of my teeth. It had turned into foreplay for another round of great sex.
“I liked having your ass wrapped around me so much better than plaster of paris, or whatever the fuck that stuff was,” I said, trying to make him horny. He smiled at me as he chuckled. We sat there on the plane, just enjoying a quiet moment together, then we both pulled out papers and started working.
“So you watched Matt and Wade fuck,” he said, a propos of nothing. It was almost funny the way he tried to be all casual about it, when clearly this had been bothering him.
I put my work away and went over and sat next to him. “I did. Let me tell you about it.”
“OK,” he said nervously.
“When we weren’t together, this latent attraction that Matt and I had for each other surfaced. I didn’t really realize it until we were playing around and he kissed me one night.” I watched him let that really bother him. “It went from a latent attraction to a near-obsession for him. One day we ended up together and we were going to fuck, but just couldn’t. Part of it was because we knew it was wrong, but most of it was because we both knew it would hurt you too much.”
“You could have gotten back at me,” he said. “That would have been a good way.”
“No, it wouldn’t. It would have been too much. You wouldn’t have been able to fully forgive me for it, and I’m not sure I’d be able to forgive myself.” He smiled at me slightly to thank me.
“So what happened in Santa Cruz?”
“Wade was fucking Matt and I was watching. I walked up behind Wade and wrapped my arms around him while he did. I wasn’t wearing a shirt, but I had my pants on.” He nodded, as if to say that was OK. “I looked down at Matt when Wade was fucking him and it was hot, but the coolest thing happened. When we made eye contact, all of that lust, that latent attraction, it was gone. There was nothing sexual there at all. Wade was grinding back into me while he fucked him, so I guess you can be pissed at me about that if you want to.”
“I’m not pissed about that,” he said. I could see how happy he was: even though he wasn’t smiling, I could see it in his eyes.
“I thought about it a lot after that, and I think it all comes down to what David was saying. When I lost you, I missed you so desperately I was reaching out for a piece of you. Matt was that piece. But now that we’re together again, there’s no need for that at all. I have everything I need.”
I watched him and he looked upset, so upset I started to worry. Then a tear fell down his cheek. I wiped it away, and then pulled him into a hug. “I’m sorry; I’m being a big pussy.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you,” I said, concerned.
“I’m still so pissed off at myself for November that it really bothers me. But here you are, and I’ve never been more in love with you than I am now,” he said.
“That’s right. It’s over now, and it’s all good. We’re good. Really good.” I felt the plane start to descend. “If we weren’t landing, I’d make love to you right now.”
He grinned. “Plenty of time for that later. We have our whole lives to fuck.”
We landed in Paly to find everyone waiting for us. They piled onto the plane: my team, Stef, and Luke. I was kind of surprised to find Luke there. If we weren’t such a good team, he, Stef and I, it would have bothered me that he was intruding on my turf. But Luke had enough on his plate, so if he were here, he’d have a damn good reason.
“I hope you don’t mind me coming along,” he said. “I figured I could spend some time talking to your partner here about movie deals, and I want to see how these Triton guys handle our meeting.”
“I’m glad you’re here. Someone to keep Stef in line,” I teased.
“No one has succeeded in doing that yet,” he said airily. Our employees laughed at him and his witty attitude.
“One word: Tonto,” I said.
“You are so full of information, you have become annoying,” Stef said to me, pretending to be petulant.
“So brief us on Triton,” I told Randi.
“They’re an interesting company. It seems that the CEO is a guy named Jordan Pfinster. He took over from his father a few years ago. It was a family company. Jordan seems to have a really good feel for things, and he seems to be doing a good job with the company, as long as his father stays out of the way.”
“But the old man interferes?” I asked.
“Yep. He’s the one who’s blocked outside investment, and he’s the one who forces Triton to do a bunch of things badly, instead of a few things well.”
“So how do we take the old guy out?”
“He controls 30 percent of their stock. I think we either buy him out, or buy out enough of the other shareholders to force him completely out,” Elijah said.
“We should probably start with him,” I said. “What about additional funding?”
“We’d have to really pump some cash into them. It’s going to be tough to work out a deal the shareholders will buy into, but once we take out the old guy, we should be able to do a deal,” Cal said.
“Where are we meeting with them?”
“At our hotel. We’re only meeting with Jordan and his top execs. He doesn’t want anyone else to know about it,” Randi said. “We booked a big suite for Stef, and plan to have the meetings there.”
“Will we have enough cash to take down 30 percent of the company and fund their projects?” I asked.
“We’ve got some institutional investors lined up,” Rashid said. “And get this; they’re looking for a new place to build their next electronics plant.”
“Are they going overseas?” Stef asked. Most of the companies were.
“Probably not,” Elijah said. “It’s tough for defense companies to sell that. We were thinking maybe they could find a home in Claremont.”
“That should bring in the Ohio congressional delegation,” Rashid observed. “That could help get their systems sold.”
And maybe it would help Nick’s plans to try and transform the place, I thought.