It was a beautiful morning, so I’d opted to go for a ride. I’d taken JP’s stallion, because he didn’t get as much exercise, and because I wanted a challenge. He could be difficult to handle, so most people opted to ride the mare instead. I squeezed my legs and pulled on the rein, and he responded, breaking into a canter. We were both enjoying the ride across JP’s acreage when my phone rang. I reined the horse in, pulling him back to a walk as I answered.
“Good morning, Wade,” my mother said crisply.
“Good morning,” I said. “What do you want?” I was hoping to get her off the phone quickly.
“I’m looking at your article in the Post this morning, and wondering whether you’re planning to throw us any more curve balls before the election?” she asked acidly.
“I haven’t seen it. What did it say?”
“You evidently do not think that UVA is a safe place for women, and you’ve accused the police of intentionally bungling this whole case.”
“I didn’t say it was intentional,” I pointed out, which basically confirmed that I’d said all the other things.
“You insulted the University of Virginia. How many alums won’t vote for your father because of what you said?”
“I doubt that will change the minds of UVA alums. I didn’t criticize the University, only the UVA police. I would think alums would understand outrage at a police department that can’t seem to solve a crime, and doesn’t seem to want to. Why do you suppose that is, by the way?”
“They have been working diligently,” she snapped.
“I would have thought you’d be quite concerned that the person who assaulted your daughter is free. Doesn’t that bother you?”
“It bothers me,” she lied. “We will survive this, but you make it so difficult.”
“I suspect that you won’t survive it if they find out who the real attacker was,” I said, trying not to laugh in her face as I did.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, but she was pissed off now.
Neither one of us said anything for a bit. “When do you get in tomorrow?”
“My flight lands at 6:00pm,” I said.
“We’ll see you when you arrive.”
“I’m staying at the hotel. I’ll see you there on Tuesday,” I told her.
“I see,” she said, pondering that snub. “Well perhaps we will see you for breakfast on Tuesday.”
“Perhaps,” I said, and then hung up the phone. I kept the stallion at a walk to cool both of us down, and then handed him off to the stable hand when I got back to Escorial. I went inside and headed straight to the kitchen. Sometimes it seemed that I spent more time there than in my own room. Matt came in shortly after I did, looking like shit. We’d gone out after the game last night and he’d gotten completely fucked up. I’d stayed relatively sober. I wasn’t sure exactly why, but I think it was because the elections were on Tuesday. The last thing I needed to do to my father was make an ass of myself, or worse, end up with a DWI.
“Good morning!” I said way too cheerfully. It was almost noon.
“Fuck off,” Matt growled, making me laugh.
JP came in with a blank look on his face. It was hard to read his mood anyway, but that made it almost impossible. “And how are you this morning?” he asked in his friendly yet reserved way.
“One of us is fine, while one of us is not,” I said, chuckling at Matt.
“Ah,” JP said. “Then I will avoid yelling.”
“It’s not allowed here anyway,” Matt said, coming alive a little bit. “Good place to have a hangover.”
“That is a nice supplemental benefit,” JP allowed. “I saw your article in the paper this morning.”
“I already got a call from my mother about that. She is furious that I have alienated all the University of Virginia alumni.” We all chuckled at that, and at how irritated she must be.
“When are you going out to DC?” he asked me.
“I fly out tomorrow morning. I’ll be back on Wednesday.”
“I’m sure you will have an interesting time,” he said. He joined us as we began to eat some sandwiches. I’d been thinking about what Jason told me, and it was bugging the shit out of me. Why would my mother want this land deal made public? I looked over at JP and remembered our conversation from yesterday, where he’d confided in me, and we’d both been reminded that it wasn’t healthy to run off and decide to solve all your problems on your own.
“I heard some interesting news.” JP looked at me intently to make sure I knew I had his full attention. “It seems my mother is planning to leak the story on this land deal to the press.”
“Why would she do that?” JP asked.
“I don’t know, and that’s what bothers me. At first I thought it was just personal, but Matt pointed out that’s not her style,” I said, giving him credit, and making sure he was paying attention. “He’s right. She always has an end game.”
JP looked at his food thoughtfully, and then turned back to me. “If she leaks this information, what is the benefit?”
“Well, she’ll discredit me.” That seemed like a lame reason.
“Won’t she have a problem if it comes out that she set this deal up to reward donors to your father’s campaign?” Matt asked.
“That’s the risk she’s running, and it’s a pretty big risk,” I noted. “How would she dodge that bullet?”
“One moment,” JP said. “You said that the leaked information would discredit you. It would seem on the surface of things that such an objective is ancillary, but could that be her primary goal?”
I stared at him, my mind trying to decide how that would impact me. “What good is making the world think you’re an asshole?” Matt asked.
I was looking at JP, and I could see his mind working the solution through at the same time I did. He spoke before I did, but he said the same thing I was thinking. “Perhaps the objective is to make you seem incompetent?”
“She wants to get control of my money back,” I said. Now it made sense.
“So she reveals this thing, and shows you to be completely incompetent and unethical, then approaches the court and asks them to give control of your assets back to her?” Matt asked, putting it together.
“That may very well be her plan. She could point to the trust and its original age restrictions, and claim that fatherhood was not a significantly maturing event in my life.”
“You donated the profits from that land deal to charity, did you not?” JP asked. I paused for a moment, noting that his speech patterns sometimes picked up traits from Stefan, as evidenced by the last three words of that question.
“I did, although it’s not public knowledge yet. We’ve been able to keep that under wraps, and I probably have until the end of this month before it will be public record. Maybe a little longer.” We were pushing back all the public filings to as late as we could. I’d had the trust established and had transferred the assets already, and that was the key thing. The rest of it was just legal form and disclosure, but by delaying that, I’d probably kept it under my mother’s radar.
“So she will have this disclosed, and then you will explain what you did,” Matt said. “She’ll look like shit.”
“I think it could be worse than that,” JP mused. “She probably violated Federal Election laws.”
“So why is she gambling with something this big?” Matt asked.
“Either she has something else to throw at me, or she’s betting that I wouldn’t expose that part of it, because I wouldn’t want to hurt my father,” I noted. Both were pretty shrewd strategies.
“So what will you do?” Matt asked.
“I think that the only thing I really can do is go with the flow. I mean, I’ve donated the money, so I’m ready to explain it if I have to. But I don’t see any advantage to starting anything.”
“I think that is wise,” JP said, validating me. “I think that you are in a strong enough position that you can respond, rather than initiate.”
“Doesn’t work in war,” Matt noted. “A good offense is usually what you need.”
“Not always,” JP mused. “In this situation, you’re not so much a defender, as laying out an ambush. If she comes that way, you are ready for her. If she doesn’t, then you have no need to fight.”
“I should probably touch base with Sean, just in case,” I said. I went off to call him, and regale him with my latest theory on my mother’s evil plans.
November 6, 2000
In the air near Washington, DC
I was flying on a commercial airline, in first class, but it was still a commercial airline. I had to drive all the way to San Jose, I had to wait through albeit a shortened check in line, I had to wade through security, and I had to stand there impatiently, waiting to board. Then I’d had to wait as the flight was delayed for some malfunction. I pondered how spoiled I’d become, riding on private planes. I could fly around for years on private planes and still not run out of money, but it wouldn’t look good for me to come jetting in like that to be with my father as he ran for re-election. Around election time, we all tried to tone down conspicuous displays of consumption. Regardless, the next time I came out, whether he was victorious or not, I’d charter a flight.
The flight began to descend into National, and I could see the Capital out my window. Such a beautiful city, yet so corrupt and soulless. The kind of place to spawn people like my mother.
As soon as the plane came to a stop at the gate and the ‘fasten seat belt’ light was turned off, I got up and grabbed my carry-on bag and back pack, then strolled down the jetway, following an elderly couple who plodded along at a maddeningly slow pace. If Matt were with me, he’d be seething at the delay, I thought, and that almost made me laugh out loud. Once they were off the jetway, I was able to maneuver around them and stride more purposefully toward security.
I passed through security and found Anthony waiting right there, unlike last time, where he’d let me run the gauntlet of reporters. There weren’t any reporters here anyway, but there was another guy with him, a younger guy who was pretty handsome. He’d be on the campaign staff. “Welcome home, Mr. Danfield,” Anthony said in his faux-friendly way.
“Thank you, Anthony. I wasn’t expecting you to pick me up.”
“Your parents wanted me to make sure you got to the hotel safely,” he said. And they wanted to keep tabs on me, which was the unwritten message.
“I’m David Banister,” the handsome guy with dark brown hair said. “I’m working on your father’s campaign.”
I shook his hand, then Anthony took my bag for me and we started walking. “I think I went to school with your younger sister,” I said.
“Shelby,” he said, confirming her first name. The Banisters were one of Virginia’s first families, so of course I’d known her. “I’m four years older than her.”
“Do you know my cousin, Trevor Armistead?” I asked. They were about the same age.
“Very well,” he said, chuckling. “He’s a fun guy, but can get you into trouble.”
“No shit,” I agreed. “So why are you here? Worried I’ll make some off the cuff comment to reporters?”
“There seems to be a decent chance of that,” he said with a grin. This guy was throwing out some serious charm.
“You just never know,” I said, as if I were a loose cannon.
“I figured I’d ride back to the hotel with you and bring you up to date on what’s been going on, and then my secret mission is to charm you enough that we can draft you to make a few appearances tomorrow.”
“I’m betting you’re successful at that,” I said, flirting with this guy.
“I’m doing my best.” He embarked on a description of my father’s schedule for the day, and for tomorrow morning. He’d be back in the hotel late in the afternoon, we’d have a private family dinner, and then we’d watch the returns come in. We’d do that in his suite, until it was time to declare victory or defeat. “Your father was hoping you’d be willing to go with him in the morning. He’ll be visiting Marymount University, and then a VFW post.” Taking me to Marymount where he could remind students that he had moderated his views on gay people made a lot of sense. But old people tended to be some of the most homophobic people out there, and former military men may very well take that to a whole new level.
“He wants to take his gay son to a VFW post?” I asked, surprised. “What kind of advice is he getting from you guys, anyway?”
“I think the family angle outweighs issues with your sexuality,” David said.
“It’s his campaign, his election. I’ll help out however I can. I just want one thing in return.”
“Fifteen minutes alone with him in the morning. Alone,” I emphasized.
“I think we can handle that. I didn’t really expect you to be so cooperative,” he said, and seemed surprised.
“They sent the handsomest guy they could find to charm me, and they thought I’d still be difficult?” I joked. I felt those familiar signs, felt the adrenaline, the rush of politics and the campaign. It would possess me and energize me. I noticed that my accent had gotten much more pronounced as well.
“Nice to know that it still works on someone,” he said, laughing. We got to the hotel and check in was easy, what with them expecting the big party tomorrow. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
“I should have made you work harder to convince me,” I teased him. He hesitated, like he was trying to think of some excuse or something to leave. “I’m just giving you shit. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I followed the bellman up to my room and paused briefly to appreciate the nice suite I’d gotten. I set myself to work unpacking and getting myself ready for the next day, a process that took me 47 minutes, then I relaxed to watch the latest news reports.
I was surprised to hear a knock at my door. I was even more surprised to open it and find Trevor there, looking as good as he always did. “Trev!” I all but pulled him into the suite.
“Damn it’s good to see you!” he said, giving me one of his bear hugs. “I heard you were in town and I decided to stop by. I hope that’s OK?”
“Are you kidding? I just got all ready for tomorrow, and I was bored.” And then he pulled me to him and kissed me, and all thoughts of responsibilities and plans just flew out the window. I felt his mouth working its magic, even as my hands linked behind his neck, pulling him closer. I don’t know how long we made out, but it was a long time. Finally hormones overcame us and I dropped to my knees and blew him. It was the same pattern as before, the same as always, but I knew him well enough to make it last. When he came, it was like a dam burst, and he came forever. When he was done, he almost shyly put his dick away and zipped up his pants, then pulled me up and gave me another nice kiss.
“Dude, I love to do that,” I said, grinning at him. “Want a drink?” I went over to the mini bar and pulled out some vodka and tonic, mixing us a couple of cocktails.
“You going out tonight?”
“I hadn’t planned on it. Why?” I asked.
“I was thinking of meeting some people in Georgetown, if you’re up for that.”
“I’ve got an early morning with my father,” I said, even though it kind of sounded like fun. “I think I’ll just stay here. Maybe tomorrow after the election returns come in I’ll cut loose.”
“You cut loose? You do that?” he asked, giving me shit.
“Sometimes,” I said. “Just not all the time, like you.”
He laughed, and then got pretty serious. “I have a big problem, and I don’t know who I can trust.”
“Did I do something to make you think you couldn’t trust me?” I asked him, and there was no way he could miss the icy tone.
“No, Wade, it’s just that this is big, and I don’t know who all is involved.”
I’d been here a couple of hours, and already the DC intrigue was pissing me off. “Well, if you tell me, I’ll try to help you out. If you don’t, there’s not much I can do, now is there?”
“I guess not,” he said. He downed his drink, so I took that as a cue to make us both another one. I came back to the table and set the glass in front of him, then sat across from him. “You’re probably going to hate me after I tell you what I did.”
I forced myself to be patient, even though it was tough. “Trev, we’ve been friends for years. I doubt I’ll hate you.”
“I beat up your sister. I’m the guy who did it,” he said. His expression showed the shame he felt, the contrition, while I just stared at him, totally surprised.
“It’s not like she didn’t want me to,” he objected. “I was paid to do it.”
He was freaking out, and I knew Trevor well enough to know that he hated really painful encounters like this. If I didn’t get rid of some of the tension, he’d bolt out of this room. “Look, there’s a lot more going on here than either one of us probably understands. I’m not going to hate you, on one condition.”
“I have to fuck you?” he asked, joking, to try and make things lighter.
“Like you don’t want to,” I teased, and winked at him. “The condition is that you tell me everything, from start to finish.”
“Everything?” he asked with a gulp.
“Everything. No recriminations, no guilt shit from me, none of that. But you spill it all. You don’t, and I come looking for you.”
“Deal,” he said, and held out his hand, so we shook on it. “I have a problem. I like to gamble.”
Trevor’s parents had money, not like mine, but they were wealthy. He had his own trust fund, or funds. Under normal circumstances, there was no reason for him to have to worry about money. “So you ran up some debts?”
He nodded. “Everything that I could get my hands on, I sold, pawned, or borrowed against it. But it wasn’t enough, so I borrowed more, but from people who aren’t so nice if you don’t pay them back. They were after me, and I had to come up with $400,000 or my face wouldn’t look so pretty.”
“Shit. That’s a lot of money.”
“I work at a bank,” he said, rambling on. It was like now that he’d started, he couldn’t stop. “Banks have money. I managed to set up some phony accounts and route some money around. I paid off the goons that were after me, and then figured that I could gamble and earn the money back that I took from the bank.”
“But you didn’t win,” I said, stating the obvious.
“No. Not even. So then the bill was up to a million bucks, and there was an audit scheduled, and I knew that if I didn’t get that money back, I’d end up in jail. Bankers are merciless. They don’t have souls.”
“Like that guy you were with in Palo Alto,” I said.
“Yeah. What a douche. So the only person I knew that had that kind of money was your mother. I went to her and told her just what I told you. She was great Wade. She jumped in and not only put the money back, but leaned on the bank to clean up the trails.”
“And then when she needed a favor, needed to have Mary Ellen beaten up, she came to you. And you owed her.”
“Pretty much, except she gave me an extra five hundred grand to do Mary Ellen. Shit, most people who know Mary Ellen would have done it for free,” he said, making us both chuckle.
“So how did you beat up Mary Ellen?” I asked. I was curious as to how a nice guy like Trevor could even do that.
“Dude, Mary Ellen told me that she likes it, uh, rough, so I smacked her around while I fucked her. She was pretty into it. I was pretty freaked out afterward, though, because I didn’t hit her that hard.” So her injuries had been greatly exaggerated. Trevor had slapped her around enough to make her look bruised and swollen; while some corrupt medical personnel had done the rest.
“Did they tell you why they needed to do it?”
“They said they needed to set up that Jason Haupt guy to get him to shut the fuck up, at least until the election was over. So I knocked her around and he got the blame for it.”
“Only now I’ve put a huge bug up the ass of the cops, telling them to find out who really did it. They’ll be looking for you.”
“Yeah, that wasn’t real helpful,” he said with a grin. “It’s OK. I was pretty careful. I don’t think anyone saw me go over there, and even if they did, since we’re cousins, it’s probably explainable.”
“You realize how evil these women are, right?” I asked him. He nodded. “I mean, this whole scheme my mom dreamed up was designed from the beginning to pit me and Mary Ellen against each other. Who does that to their kids?”
“I know your mom is a total bitch, Wade, but she helped me out. Hell, if it weren’t for her, I’d be totally fucked.”
“Literally, if you were in jail. A hot guy like you would be the belle of the ball.”
“Only here’s the problem, Trevor. She owns you now. You sold your soul to the devil.”
He stared at me, confused and scared. “It was a deal. She paid me off, and I did what she wanted. We’re even.”
“That’s not how it works. What happens the next time she wants you to do some dirty work? If you say no, she’ll just explain to you that those bank records are still around, and could still find their way into the hands of a concerned regulator. Dude, she owns you, lock, stock, and barrel.”
He stared at me as the realization flowed over him. “Holy fuck,” he said, and put his head in his hands. He was totally despondent now. I put my arm around his shoulder, trying to make him feel better. “What do I do? How do I get out of this mess?”
“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “I have to think about this one for a bit.”
“I’m sorry about this, Wade. I should have come to you in the first place.”
“Yeah, that would have had a better ending,” I said, but smiled. “You thought that my mother would treat you differently because you’re family, and because she likes you. What you don’t understand is that neither one of those things makes a damn bit of difference to her.”
“I should probably go, if I’m going to make the party,” he said. He got up and gave me another spectacular kiss. “Thanks.”
“I haven’t done anything yet.”
“No, I meant thanks for not hating me. The rest of this, well, I can take the hit for it. But your friendship is important to me.” I smiled and gave him another kiss, then guided him out of the suite.
November 7, 2000
“Sir, you can’t go past here,” a large man said to me, blocking the door to my father’s suite.
“This is a private room.”
“This is Senator Danfield’s suite?” He nodded. “I’m his son. Wade Danfield.” Who was briefing these idiots anyway?
“I’m sorry, Mr. Danfield,” the guard said nervously, and then moved aside to let me pass. I walked through the doors and saw the table set for breakfast, but no one else was in the room. I wandered through the suite until I got to the bedroom. The door was open, and my father was in there fucking someone. I was about to get grossed out, figuring it was my mother, when I heard a female voice giggle, then moan. That didn’t sound like my mother. I took a closer look and saw that it was a young woman, probably a staffer. I shut the bedroom door and went over to the table and helped myself to breakfast. I applied my mouth to eating, while my mind was processing what I’d witnessed. I was probably supposed to be mad, like most guys would be if they caught their father fucking around, but I found that I wasn’t. Since I’d come out of the closet, I’d insisted that it wasn’t his place to judge me based on who I had sex with, so I decided it wasn’t my place to judge him about that either.
The bedroom door opened and the two of them came out, still flush from their fuck. They froze when they saw me, as if I’d make a scene, but my manners were better than that. I got up and walked over and gave my father a big hug. “It’s good to see you! You ready for your big day!”
“It’s good to see you too, Wade. This is Katherine Hickson. Katherine, this is my son, Wade.”
“Nice to meet you, Ms. Hickson,” I said politely.
“Nice to meet you too,” she said shyly. She was a really attractive redhead; tall and slender, with boobs a little too small for her height. She was probably around 25 years old. “I’ll leave you alone to enjoy breakfast.”
I watched her walk out of the room, impressed with how sexy her movements were. “Let’s have breakfast,” my father said nervously.
“I already started. I hope you don’t mind,” I said, sitting down with him.
“You probably think I’m a horrible person,” he said.
“No, I think you’re married to a horrible person,” I said. “We need to talk, and not about that.”
“What’s on your mind?” he asked, relieved that I wasn’t going to bust his balls for fucking the very hot Ms. Hickson.
“What is Mother’s role in your campaign? Officially,” I said.
“She doesn’t have a formal role. She hasn’t since we got back from Palo Alto and that big blow out over the land deal in Idaho.”
“I’m worried that if that blows up, it will blow you up too.”
“Why would it blow up?” he asked.
I eyed him coolly. “I’m wondering if I can trust you.”
“Wade, we have about half an hour before we’ll be surrounded by other people. How much time do you want me to take to convince you.”
“This whole scheme of Mother’s, where she pitted Mary Ellen and me against each other, makes me unsure about things. I thought that family was sacred, yet now I’m questioning that.”
“Because of this morning?”
“I don’t give a shit who you fuck,” I snapped. “I don’t let you ask questions or cast judgment about my sex life, and I’m not going to do that to you.”
“So what is bothering you?”
“Mother is going to release the information on the land deal to the press after the election,” I said, taking him into my confidence, and hoping that I hadn’t miscalculated.
“She wouldn’t do that, Wade. The risks are too high.”
“Jason Haupt didn’t beat up Mary Ellen. Trevor did.”
“What? Trevor, my nephew? He beat up my daughter?”
“Mother paid him to do it.” He stared at me. “He told me himself. You cannot let this out.”
“I’m not going to reveal what you’re telling me to anyone,” he said, annoyed that I’d questioned his word again. “Why did Trevor beat up Mary Ellen?”
“So they could set Jason Haupt up and keep him quiet before the election.”
“Then why would your mother want to turn around and air this out in public after the election. She runs a horrible risk.”
“So do you,” I said. “Unless you can protect yourself.”
He really looked at me intently, and then his expression softened. “That’s why you’re telling me this? So I can dodge the bullet when she does this?”
“What about you?”
“Why should I care about what she does? I’m not in politics. I don’t have to give a shit about screwing people out of money.”
“But you do.”
“I’m more worried about Trevor,” I told him, changing the subject. “He stole some money from the bank, and Mother put it back for him. Only now she owns his soul.”
“After this election is over, I’ll see if I can’t rein in your mother,” he said.
“No, Dad. That’s not what I want, and no offense, but I doubt you’ll be able to do it anyway. She’s just too good at scheming. It would be nice if she didn’t involve me in her plans, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen either. I just want you to be aware of what’s going on so you can protect yourself, and I want you to give Trevor his life back.”
“I think I can do that.”
“And one more thing. Until you do, remember that she owns Trevor. Be careful around him. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t know Ms. Hickson.” That was a guess on my part.
“Did he say something to you about her?”
“Not a thing, but it makes sense, don’t you think?”
“This has been a very stressful campaign. Over the last few weeks I haven’t made the best decisions.”
I nodded. “Well, today is the day, and then after that, maybe you can get your life back to normal.”
“I was thinking about coming out to California to see you sometime in the next few weeks, if I can get away.” That was pretty surprising.
“That’s fine. Why?”
“I’d just like to get your input on some things,” he said cryptically.
“Just let me know when.”
“Thanks, Wade.” There was a loud knock on the door, and then it opened. My mother breezed in, looking as refined and elegant as ever.
“Good morning, Mother,” I said, as I stood up and gave her my normal greeting, with a distant hug and faux kisses.
“Good morning, Wade. I understand you are going to spend the morning with your father. That may help repair some of the damage you’ve done with your article.”
“Possibly,” I said, just to piss her off. I sat down and resumed eating.
She glared at my father. “I delayed my arrival so you could finish your morning activities. Your whore is gone, isn’t she?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” my father said, but we could both read the guilt in his voice.
“You two should both remember that you can’t hide what you’re doing from me,” she said, but I sensed that she was directing that more at me than at him. “I know everything.”
“How interesting that while you’re omniscient, you assume no one else can figure out what you’re doing,” I said to her calmly. “You are obviously surrounded by idiots.”
“Sometimes I think that’s true,” she said, and gave my father a truly evil look.