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    Mark Arbour
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Freshmen - 13. Chapter 13

August 16, 2004

Tribeca, NY


“Mr. Jeremy will be out shortly,” Jacinta said politely. “Can I get you something to drink?”

“A gin and tonic, please,” I said, then walked into the great room. “I would have thought he’d be expecting us.” I detested it when people were late for meetings, and this was similar.

“He must be busy,” Stef said, stifling a giggle. I gave him an unpleasant look, since despite sleeping on the plane, I was still pretty tired and not a little cranky.

“Evidently we are not important enough to warrant a welcoming party,” I grumbled. Jake ignored me and walked over to Marc’s painting.

“So this is the painting that started it all,” he noted.

“Started it all?” Stef asked.

“If my sources are correct, this is the painting that first drew you and Marc together,” Jake said to me.

“Yes,” I said stiffly, in no mood to be teased.

“And then you were in a relationship with Marc that trapped you in a cocoon, and blocked you off from your family,” Jake continued.

“That is true,” Stef said, and seemed overjoyed that Jake was starting to really piss me off. “You were so absorbed you ignored everyone, and all but deserted your sons.”

“Thanks for bringing up those fond memories,” I snapped at him. He giggled at me, which made me even angrier.

“And in order to pull you out of that cocoon, Will hired me to help him make you really mad,” Jake said, and smiled at me. “And that is how I ended up meeting you.”

I smiled at him and felt my bad mood evaporating. “I think that this is the most beautiful painting in the world,” I said. I walked over and hugged him, then gave him a nice kiss.

“You two are very romantic and not a little tiring,” Stef noted, which was so funny I chuckled.

“Welcome to New York!” JJ said, as he walked into the room. “It’s good to see you.” It was pretty obvious that he was lying, since he was smiling through clenched teeth and his eyes were joyless, but we all treated his words as genuine and gave him warm hugs.

“You appear to be flushed,” Stef noted. He was clearly in a shit-disturbing mood. I was glad he’d turned his attention to JJ.

“I was rushing around to make sure everything was ready when you got here,” he responded, which was hilarious. It was hard to imagine JJ expending that kind of effort - the amount it would take to turn his cheeks red - to clean up his condo.

“I’m sure you were,” I said sarcastically, and got a dirty look from him. Before he could rip into me, a stunningly handsome guy walked into the room. His blond hair and blue eyes were classically Teutonic, while his six feet of height gave him a real presence. I looked at Stef, who raised his eyes in surprise at how handsome this guy was.

He didn’t even glance at the rest of us; he just walked straight up to Stef. “I’m Kris Schulenberg,” he said. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to meet you.”

I looked at Jake and rolled my eyes. “How fortunate that this is your lucky day, and as you are so handsome and charming, it would seem to be mine as well,” Stef responded. I felt myself starting to descend deeper into a pit of worry. I had pictured Kris as a typical denizen of the gay bar scene, and I had imagined him as a wolf who would prey on someone as innocent as JJ. I had not imagined that he would be this suave, nor did I think he would be so self-confident. Being confronted by this very smooth guy, and watching as he flattered Stef so blatantly, scared the absolute shit out of me.

“This is my father, Brad Schluter,” JJ said, introducing me.

“Nice to meet you,” I said, trying not to be formal but not quite pulling it off. I’d let myself get freaked out, and it was hard to completely rein that in.

“I’ve heard so much about you I feel like I already know you,” he said, and shook my hand. My eyes met his, and a subtle struggle ensued. My gaze was severe and questioning, while his was friendly and sincere. I felt myself melting under his spell.

“That’s probably not good,” I grumbled, but smiled to show that I was joking, or hoping I was.

“Both Will and J said you were intense,” he said. “They weren’t wrong.”

Jake chuckled and held out his hand. “Jake Pike.”

“Dude, you are as handsome as Will said you were,” he said.

“I’m smart too,” Jake said. I sensed that he was annoyed at being constantly complimented on his appearance. It was like people were telling him he was my trophy husband.

“No doubt,” Kris said. “J told me all about that.”

“He did?” Jake asked, surprised.

“I did,” JJ said.

“I don’t want to impose on you, but if you have a chance, I’d appreciate your advice on a legal matter,” Kris said to Jake.

“I’d be glad to help you out,” Jake said, smiling. I could tell how much Jake appreciated that. It was as if Kris had instantly put him on the same professional footing as me and Stef. Well, maybe just me. Stef was in a league of his own.

My intense fears about Kris began to emerge again, especially when I saw how JJ looked at him, but a simple glance from this blond god seemed to put me at ease again. It was almost hypnotic. I backed up and chided myself for doubting his motives. I couldn’t help but be impressed with him. He’d walked into this room and met two of the richest men in the world, along with my partner, and built an instant rapport with us.

“I assumed you all would be hungry,” JJ said.

“I could eat,” I said, then smiled. He led us into the dining room, where he sat at one end of the table and Kris sat at the other. Jake and I sat together, with Jake next to Kris and me next to JJ, while Stef was across from us.

“Your table looks very nice,” Stef noted, admiring JJ’s place settings.

“Kris likes it too,” JJ said, flirting with his boyfriend. He was so happy and cheerful it was almost eerie. He then told us the story of how Kris had been able to identify the vendors who provided his place settings. Jacinta managed to bring out our food during that lengthy and boring saga.

“So what did you want my advice about?” Jake asked Kris.

“I have a case over an inheritance that is taking an awfully long time to resolve,” he responded. “The law firm handling it is a German firm, and I don’t know much about German law, but it just seems like they’re screwing around.”

“I don’t speak German and I know nothing about German law, but I’ll look at it,” Jake said.

“We’ve been paying them a monthly fee to cover their work, but the bill they sent this month was much higher. My part of it is usually about $300/month, but for some reason they jacked it up to $1000,” Kris said.

“That’s unusual unless there’s some new effort that requires a lot of work,” Jake said. “How long have they been working on this?”

“Since the early 1990s,” Kris responded.

“This sounds like an interesting challenge,” Jake said. We had a really nice meal with them, but afterwards I was feeling kind of uncomfortable, like I was in the way.

“I am anxious to get home,” Stef said to me, reading my mind.

“I need to get back too,” I chimed in, then turned to JJ. “I hope you won’t mind if we head back to California?”

“I thought you guys were staying over,” he said in a bitchy way that was his normal mode. It took him all of half a second to realize that he wanted to get rid of us but instead he was asking us to stay. “I understand why you’d want to get home though.”

“Thanks,” I said, trying not to giggle at him. “Kris, I really enjoyed meeting you.”

He seemed surprised by that, but only for a second. “It was great to meet you too. I’ll tell Will that all the things he said about you were wrong.”

All of us laughed at that except JJ, who seemed really pissed off that Kris had referenced Will. “You do that,” I said. We exchanged cell phone numbers, then I talked to JJ while Stef and Jake said goodbye to Kris. “I like him.”

JJ stared at me, and he was so stunned it was starting to piss me off. I guess he thought I’d come in here and sabotage his relationship. He emerged from that mini-trance and a huge smile spread across his face. “Me too,” JJ said with an emphasized sincerity. “We complement each other perfectly.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen you this happy since you were a little boy,” I said.

“This is the happiest I’ve ever been,” he responded wistfully. We finally said our goodbyes and headed out to the limo. We didn’t talk until we were ensconced in rolling luxury and on our way to the airport.

“Kris was certainly an impressive young man,” Stef said.

“He was hot too,” Jake said deadpan, making all of us chuckle.

“Indeed,” Stef said. “It is as if everything is perfect for JJ.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” I groused. “Nothing is ever this perfect.”

“You don’t think we’re that perfect?” Jake challenged. I grimaced at his logical way of calling me hypocritical.

“Fine,” I grumbled. He stared at me until I looked at him, then he smiled at me, and I smiled back. We rode on in silence, which left me to my own thoughts. I pondered how many more arguments I lost with Jake than I had with Robbie. Robbie could get really emotional and make stupid statements that made it easy for me to make him look like an idiot. Jake was usually much more calm and deliberate. I thought about my life then vs. my life now, and could not help smiling at how much happier I was. I looked over at Jake, our eyes met, and we smiled and giggled at each other.

“It is sometimes annoying to travel with the two of you,” Stef said dourly, making me actually laugh. When I was done laughing, I realized exactly how JJ felt.

August 18, 2004

Athens, Greece


“So how did it go?” I asked JJ. I hadn’t had a chance to talk to him since his big meeting with Dad, Jake, and Stef.

“Really well,” he said, and seemed pretty chipper. “Kris was awesome.”

“Did Dad seem stressed out?” I asked. I was trying to figure out how my father had managed to not totally fuck this encounter up.

“A little at first, but he seemed to like Kris,” JJ said.

“What’s not to like?” I joked. “You made it past that hurdle.”

“No shit,” he said. We ended our call and I stared at my phone, kind of amazed.

“What?” Travis asked, seeing my expression.

“The meet up in New York went well. JJ is pretty stoked,” I said.

“Seriously?” Travis asked, as surprised as I was.

“Go figure,” I said, shaking my head at that group and their interactions. I put my phone away and focused on getting ready. We were going to a big party tonight in the Olympic Village. I was pretty excited, while Travis was apprehensive. “We don’t have to stay that long,” I said.

“Dude, I can have a good time,” he snapped. I raised an eyebrow to challenge his bitchiness, while he frowned at me. He’d been grumpy with me ever since I’d raised the issue about Taylor after Zach called. I didn’t get that. I’d fallen down firmly on his side and backed him up, but he still seemed pissed off at me.

“I’m so glad,” I snapped back at him. I got up and went into the bathroom to work on my hair. I managed to get it almost perfect, and that gave me some extra confidence. He came in and stood next to me to work on his own hair, frowning at me. I felt my anger building, since I’d been really patient with his bullshit for the past few days, but that patience was now exhausted. “What the fuck is your problem?” I demanded belligerently.

“What?” he asked, temporarily stunned by my change in mood.

“You’ve been a total fucking bitch for the past two days, and you’re standing here next to me damn near growling at me,” I said. I was so done with this. “So what the fuck have I done to piss you off?”

“I told you,” he spat.

“You mean the deal with Taylor?” I asked.

“Yeah, and the deal with Zach,” he said.

“You showed me her letter, and I told you that you were right. I was totally on your side, backing you up one hundred percent,” I said. “So tell me what the fuck I did wrong?” I was having a hard time not shouting at him.

“You want to explain why I got another email, and this one was all about me, and how badly she treated me, and how shitty she made my life?” he demanded in a really nasty way.

“No, I don’t,” I said through gritted teeth. “Do you know why?”

“I know why,” he said, getting in my face. He was basically accusing me of leaking his thoughts back to them, and that really set me free.

“You are fucking clueless,” I said, although it was more of a snarl. “I don’t know why because I haven’t talked to either one of them, or emailed either one of them, since I first got that call from Zach.”

“You’re saying that you didn’t tell them to write a different email?” he demanded.

“This grudge, this hate that you’re going to nurse inside you, is going to ruin every fucking relationship in your life, starting with ours,” I screamed. “If you can’t trust me, we are over.”

“I ask you one question and you’re ending us,” he accused.

“You think about it,” I said and pushed past him. “Meanwhile, I’m going to go hang out with fun people who don’t have so many fucking issues!” I stormed out of the bedroom, slamming the door behind me, then walked over to the table where we set our badges. I was so pissed off I took mine, and I took his.

I started walking and was almost to the Olympic Village when Travis called. “Where’s my badge?” he demanded.

“Gee, I must have taken it by mistake,” I said sarcastically. “I guess this means I don’t have to worry about your ass showing up and being a buzzkill at the party.”

“Give me my fucking badge,” he shouted.

“Bite me,” I said, and ended the call. I put my phone away, determined to enjoy myself tonight. I paused for a minute to breathe deeply and force my mood to improve, then I walked into the party. I migrated toward the Australians, but had fun with the French, Spanish, and Italian athletes too. They liked me because I could speak their languages. I saw Ian and headed over to see him. “Good job today!”

“Right,” he said skeptically. “I get bronze and you think that’s good.”

“I think that’s good,” I said, smiling at him.

“Where’s the bloke you usually hang out with?” he asked. I forced myself not to smile at him because he was acting a little jealous.

“That’s Travis, my boyfriend,” I said, and saw him get disappointed before he forced his facial expressions back to normal. “Next time he’s around, I’ll introduce you.”

“I didn’t know he was going to be here,” he said.

“He surprised me,” I said. He was obviously sad that Travis was here, which meant that he must like me a bit more than he’d let on, but I decided that all I could do is act happy about it.

“Nice guy,” he mumbled.

“Think you’d be into hanging out with both of us?” I asked him quietly. His eyes shot wide open, and he was really freaked out.

“Not sure about that, mate,” he said skeptically.

“No pressure,” I said, backing up to calm him down. “I mean, if you just want to watch, that’s fine too.”

He smiled and blushed a bit. “I’ll text you when I get back if I’m still up for it.”

“That means you’re up for it now?” I teased.

“Fuckin’ seppo,” he joked, cracking me up. He got pulled away from me by some of his friends, and I found myself standing there alone, the first time that had happened since I’d gotten here. I instinctively looked around for Travis, then remembered he wasn’t here. That depressed me enough that I decided to go find the bathroom and hide in a stall. I sat there, checking my phone messages, but unfortunately I hadn’t gotten any.

I looked at my call log and saw that it had been an hour since Travis called me. I grimaced and pulled out his name tag and played with it like it was a fidget device, pausing to look at his picture. I had been really pissed off at him, and I still was, but I really missed him. I pulled myself together, walked out of the party, and found myself back in the condo 20 minutes later. I wasn’t sure if Travis was still here, but I kind of assumed he would be. He didn’t like crowds all that much, and when he was in a bad mood he usually liked to go back to his cave and sulk. I walked into the condo and the first person I ran into was Grand. “Hey,” I said cheerfully.

“You are back earlier than I thought you would be,” he observed.

“Is Travis here?” I asked him.

“I think he is in your room,” he said. He almost had a judgmental tone to his voice, which I opted to ignore.

“Thank you,” I said curtly, and walked into our room to find Travis packing. “Hey.”

He looked at me, totally shocked, and paused his packing. We just stood there staring at each other, saying nothing for about thirty seconds. “Hey,” he responded.

“I’m sorry I took your badge,” I said, as I walked up to him and handed it to him.

He smiled weakly, then frowned, then smiled again. “I didn’t think you’d be back tonight.” He was so sad when he said that, it ripped me to the core.

“I was at the party, and after an hour, I missed you,” I said. I put my hands on his shoulders, then ran them around the back of his neck and pulled him to me. His lips met mine and we just meshed together in a way that was more surreal than passionate.

“I missed you too,” he said. “And I’m really sorry for being a dick.”

“I’m on Team Travis,” I said, and kissed him again. “So what’s with you packing?”

“I was going to run away so you felt like shit for being mean to me,” he said. I started laughing, then he laughed with me.

“I would have,” I said. “You still going to leave?”

“I don’t know,” he said, then saw me completely start to freak out. “It’s not you.”

“Explain this to me before I lose my shit,” I ordered.

“I mean, it’s cool being here, but I want to do something,” he said.

I nodded. “It’s pretty amazing to see history happen, but we’re walking to things, and sitting on our asses, and you want to be more active,” I concluded.

He nodded. “Before I got mad at you, I was thinking it would be fun to just charter a plane and do whatever we wanted.”

I thought about that and felt my face exploding in a big smile. “What’s the first thing you want to do?”

“Are you serious? You’d leave the Olympic games and run off with me?” he asked.

“I would,” I vowed. “I may even have a plane for us to use?”

“You don’t have to pay for that,” he objected. I rolled my eyes at him.

“Jack and Claire are supposed to fly over tomorrow,” I said. “They’ll be in the Falcon. I’ll see if we can snag it from them, then figure out another way for them to get home.”

He gave me another kiss. “I love you,” he said, then he proved it to me.

We lay on the bed, enjoying the afterglow, with him snuggled up behind me, kissing my neck. “So where do you want to go first?” I asked, even as I moved my head back and around so I could kiss him.

“Paris,” he said. “I want to do Paris with you.”

“That sounds awesome,” I said. “So you thought this out? Where else do you want to go?”

“Alright, I’ll tell you my list, but we can change it if you want,” he said lovingly.

“Duh,” I joked.

“I want to go to London, and go back to Westminster Abbey,” he said, being the romantic goofball that he was. “Might be fun to actually walk out of the place instead of running.”

I laughed. “No shit. You know who we should take with us, at least to Paris?”

“Who?” he asked suspiciously.

“Grand,” I said. “If you had fun with him in Italy, you would love him in Paris. That’s like his second city.”

“That’s not very romantic,” he said. Bringing my grandfather along on our trip together was definitely not a sexy thing to do.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and felt like shit for destroying his big intimate trip. Then the asshole grinned to tell me he was just giving me shit. I jabbed him playfully.

“Seriously, that would be awesome,” he said. “I can spend time with my two favorite men.”

I almost purred contentedly at that, at how he had bonded so well with my family, and especially with Grand, who was so important to me. “I’ll tell him you said that,” I said.

“Besides, you probably wouldn’t want to go to all these places without him as a security blanket,” he taunted.

I got back at him by responding in a very serious and intense manner. “Travis, I would go anywhere with you,” I said, my eyes boring into his eyes to emphasize that I meant what I said. He smiled, then leaned in to give me a nice kiss.

“Good,” he said. “Then our next stop is Portugal.”

“For the surf?” I asked excitedly. There were some amazing surfing beaches in Portugal.

“For the surf,” he said.

“I want to go to New York,” I said, adding a stop to our list. “And if we can, I’d like to see my sister.”

“She’s in Boston, right?” he asked.

“Yeah, but I was thinking that maybe we could talk them into meeting us at Disney World,” I said.

“That could be fun,” he said. “Alright, my turn to add a stop. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.” Cedar Point was known for its intense roller coasters.

“You think that’s better than Magic Mountain?” I asked, referring to the theme park we’d spent so much time at when we were kids.

“Dude, they have the Top Thrill Dragster,” he said. “It’s a fucking strata coaster.”

“What the fuck is a strata coaster?” I asked. I wasn’t as up on roller coaster lingo as he was.

“Means it has a height drop of at least 400 feet,” he said.

“Dude,” I said, in the same tone as if I were saying ‘no way’.

“Wicked Twister is there too. That’s an inverted roller coaster,” he said. I looked at him curiously. “That means the train runs under the tracks, not over it.” Travis had always been into roller coasters, but I didn’t know he was totally up to date on all the trends, and I had no idea he knew how these things were classified.

“That sounds amazing,” I said, thinking back to how much fun we’d had at Magic Mountain. My phone beeped and I looked at it.

“Who texted you?” Travis asked.

“Ian,” I said. He tensed up, and his mood changed abruptly to one that was closed and withdrawn.

“You can go hang out with him if you want to,” he said. He was trying to be nice to me, but he didn’t mean it.

“That’s not happening,” I said firmly. “Remember our rule. We don’t blow off each other to go fuck someone else.”

“That’s a good rule,” he said, and nuzzled my neck again.

“I kind of talked to him about something,” I said nervously.

“What?” he asked, tensing up again.

“I asked him if he wanted to hang out with us,” I said, and pivoted so I could watch his eyes as we talked about this.

“What’s that mean?” he asked.

“Well, it could turn into a threesome, but I told him if he wanted to watch us, that would work too,” I said. My voice was almost trembling as I told him that. “I’m sorry. I should have talked to you about it first. I figured if he actually took me up on it and texted me, I’d tell you, and if you weren’t cool with it, I’d tell him I was busy.”

He didn’t say anything; his eyes glazed over as he contemplated it, then I felt his dick get harder and I started to laugh. “Invite him over,” he said, cracking me up.

Copyright © 2024 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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I was pleased with how the visit went by. I think kris was really a big hit with Jake and Stef. And Kris seems to have impressed Brad too. I hope he become a lot more involved with the entire family. I have my doubts about Will and Travis being a couple for very long. 

Thanks for the chapter Mark. Keep up the great work.

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5 hours ago, pickuptoy said:

I was pleased with how the visit went by. I think kris was really a big hit with Jake and Stef. And Kris seems to have impressed Brad too. I hope he become a lot more involved with the entire family. I have my doubts about Will and Travis being a couple for very long. 

Thanks for the chapter Mark. Keep up the great work.

truer words have rairaly been spoken.

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On 4/21/2024 at 12:37 PM, Gary L said:

Hi, can someone explain the significance of 4/20, please.

another, slightly emotionally hyper chp.  There is so much going on right now.  BTW the Brad cameos are priceless, like a British actress Dame coming on the screen for a few minutes and stealing the Oscar (eg Dame Judi Dench). 

a great Sunday morning treat here in Europe (09.00 CET). THANK YOU MARK.

BTW. I got a civil partnership registered yesterday.  I’m a married man! 👨 

Congrats Gary.

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Chapter 13

-When Kris gets his slowmo "wow, he's hot" entrance.

"You're So Damn Hot" by Ok Go

When Brad and JJ say their goodbyes, and Brad remarks that JJ is the happiest he's been since he was a little boy.

"Maybe This Time" by Liza Minelli

That is a damn good theme for JJ and his general character arc/development.

-When Will tells Travis about his plan for a threesome, and Travis decides to go for it.

"I Want Candy" by the Strangeloves

I really do love that adding Travis in makes me think of a lot of 1950's/60's tunes. Such a great era for music.

Edited by methodwriter85
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