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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.
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Andre and Chris - 8. Chapter 8

I'm sorry it has taken a while to post this chapter. I've been busy and also dealing with some family issues. Hope you enjoy reading.

We arrived at Tullamarine and headed for our hotel in central Melbourne where we checked into our rooms which were next to each other. The first thing we did was to open the connecting doors between the rooms. Then we started to show Andre a bit about Melbourne. Surprisingly he had never visited Melbourne before, so it was all new to him.

As we walked towards Federation Square we told Andre about the free tram travel zone and the free city tram loop. Just then one of the heritage W class trams that run the city tram loop rumbled past, looking completely different from the modern air conditioned tram fleet.

Jamie had a suggestion. “Southbank’s just over there with lots of places to eat and have a drink. Let’s start there.”

He was right. It was now past midday, and we were starting to feel hungry. Southbank was full of bars, cafes and restaurants surrounding the Crown Casino, so it wasn’t difficult to find somewhere for a light lunch. We ate sitting outside with a view of the Yarra.

After lunch we went to the National Gallery of Victoria, with its waterfall glass entrance wall. We walked around viewing the artworks inside the gallery, especially the Shearing the Rams by Tom Roberts, before we wandered the sculpture garden where we admired Pino Conte’s Tree of Life. Then we walked to the nearby ACMI with its exhibitions and displays highlighting cinema and television. By the time we finished there we were ready to return to the hotel to prepare for dinner.

Andre and I were just finishing dressing when Michael and Jamie came through the connecting door. Michael had a gleam in his eye. He was up to something.

The taxi dropped us at a corner on Lygon Street, and we started walking. Three of us were happy to stroll along looking into the various restaurants and checking the menus but Michael obviously had a different agenda. He had set off ahead of us leaving us having to hurry to keep up.

When he stopped I looked up and saw where we were. La Cucina Pazza. I smiled. This was the restaurant where we had spent so many happy times eating and having fun with our best mate Bruno. His parents owned the restaurant.

The next minute Bruno was racing through the restaurant towards us. He wrapped his arms around Michael.

“Michael, how wonderful to see you. Please come through. Is Jamie with you?”

He grabbed Jamie into a hug which Jamie cheerfully reciprocated. He looked over Jamie’s shoulder and saw me. He immediately wrapped his arms around me. “Christopher, you’re back. Fantastic. But you know you’re too late, Michael’s taken.”

I smiled as I hugged Bruno. “I know. So am I.” I pulled Andre towards me. “This is my partner, Andre.” Andre received the same embrace as the rest of us.

“So Bruno, how about you and Angela.”

He smiled broadly. “Married. Two boys and a girl.”

“Congratulations.”

Bruno led us towards the back of the restaurant near the kitchen. “Papa, come and see who’s here.”

Papa Gavino emerged from the kitchen and greeted us with an Italian kiss on each cheek.

“Michael and Christopher! Bonasera. Benvenuti. How you find each other again?”

I pointed towards Jamie and Andre. “Papa Gavino, these two brought us together. You’ve met Jamie and I’d like you to met my partner Andre. We all live on the Central Coast.”

Jamie and Andre were then greeted with a kiss on each cheek. “You all welcome here, always. You family like favourite nephews. You all sit here.” He gestured to a table and picked up the menus. “You nota order. For you, we cook.”

He moved to the kitchen and Bruno was back with glasses and a bottle of wine. “Papa has always loved you. Just relax and enjoy.” He poured the wine and left to help other patrons.

We clinked glasses and a slightly stunned Andre asked, “I’m overwhelmed. Can you fill me in with your history here and your relationship with Bruno?”

Michael and I both laughed. “Bruno was one of our closest friends at high school and Uni. I think he was the first straight guy we actually came out to.” I looked at Michael who nodded. “This place became one of our favourite places to hang-out. Well for a group of us students. I mean hang out here with free or cheap food. An adolescent dream, but for Michael and me it was very different. It was much more. We loved Bruno, his sister and his parents. This place was our second home.”

When I said that I didn’t realize Bruno was standing behind me with a large Antipasto platter. “Has he also told you how both of them would kick in and help when we were busy. Like serving customers or washing dishes and always refused to be paid?”

With a smirk plastered all over his face he returned to the kitchen. We were quiet as we started serving ourselves from the platter.

While we were eating Jamie voiced his curiosity. “Michael. You’ve brought me here before but you’ve never told me that this place has . . . . . has such special meaning for you.”

“Yes, special meaning for me, and for Chris. It is special, very special, for both of us, which is why I wanted all of us to come here tonight.”

I picked up my glass. “I’ll drink to that. Michael’s right. This place and the people are very special to us. Thank you, Michael for bringing all of us here.” We all clinked our glasses and the next platter of delicious food arrived. We were working our way through an Italian feast. The platters of amazing food and more wine continued to arrive.

During what would be the penultimate course, Michael said he needed to use the toilet and walked down past the kitchen. We continued eating and talking.

I commented, “You two are finding out a lot about Michael and my pasts and it’s making me curious about your history together, like how did you become such close friends.”

Jamie responded, “You’re right Chris. I’ve found out so much about Michael’s background since we met you. Much more than I knew beforehand. Andre and my history is not as interesting as your story but it’s only fair that we tell you and Michael.” He looked around, “Speaking of Michael, he seems to have been gone a long time.”

I realised Jamie was right and wondered what was going on. When Michael finally arrived back at the table. I thought of making a lame joke about sending out a search party for him but then I saw the look on his face, and instead asked “What’s wrong?”

Michael didn’t answer. He dropped into his chair and leaned forward conspiratorially. He had something to say and didn’t want others in the restaurant to hear. We all leaned forward.

“Bruno stopped me and then Papa Gavino. Mamma Rosina has cancer and she’s been told she needs an operation. They want me to give them my opinion, and my advice.”

We were almost whispering as I asked, “I assume this is serious. It’s not a simple operation we’re talking about.”

He sighed, “You’re right Chris. From what they told me they have a right to worry. The good news is that I know Mamma’s oncologist and surgeon. Especially her surgeon. She was one of my teachers when I was studying surgery. She is excellent and I know she doesn’t operate if she doesn’t think it’s necessary.”

“So, what are you going to do?”

“Well, I can’t give any advice until I’ve seen Mamma’s records and talked to her doctors and I can only do that with her permission. If it’s OK with you guys can I leave you for a couple of hours tomorrow morning to visit Mamma?”

I responded first. “Michael, if this is as bad as it seems I want to go with you. I know I can’t be there when you discuss the medical stuff, but Mamma is important to me. I want her to know that she is still important to me and that I love her and that I’m with her through this.”

Jamie added, “Michael, I’ve met Mamma when we’ve eaten here. She accepted me immediately, first as your boyfriend and then as your husband. I want to be with you so she knows we both care.”

Andre took my hand. “I haven’t meet Mamma, but tonight I’ve experienced the bond you have with Mamma and her family. You said this was your second home which means you see Mamma and Papa like parents. Tonight’s the first time I’ve been here but I fully understand why you feel the way you do because they make me feel like family too. I want Mamma to know that your partner is also with her through this.” I smiled and squeezed his hand.

Michael sat back. “OK, I’ll let Bruno know.”

“No need I’ve heard you. You guys are legends. It’s a good thing I’m straight otherwise I’d want all of you. So, I’ll see you all tomorrow morning?”

Michael responded. “Yeah, if it’s OK, you’ll see us all tomorrow morning.”

Bruno smiled. “It’s totally OK. Now are you ready for Dolce?”

To be honest I thought that I had eaten enough, but then there’s always room for dessert, especially Italian dessert.

Like all good things our night at La Cucina Pazza drew to a close. We tried to pay for our wonderfully delicious meal. First Bruno refused to give us a bill and then Papa Gavino behaved as if we’d insulted him and his family along with all his ancestors by offering to pay. It certainly felt like being part of an Italian family.

 

Back at the hotel we gathered in our room for a quick nightcap and chat before bed. We started talking about how wonderful our night had been at the restaurant and then Michael explained that he wouldn’t know how just how serious Mamma’s condition was until he had all the details, but patient confidentiality meant that he wasn’t going to discuss those medical details with us. We all agreed.

“When I get Mamma Rosina’s permission, I’ll contact her doctors and arrange to meet them. I hope you understand that could mean me spending time with her doctors and not with you three.” There was no argument. We all supported Michael in what he had to do.

 

In bed Andre wrapped his arms around me and we kissed. He rolled back onto his side. His left arm was still under my neck and the fingers of his right hand were gently weaving through my light covering of chest hair and teasing my sensitive nipples. He licked my earlobe and spoke softly. “Chris the more I find out about you and Michael and your shared history the more I have this idea that I should be worried or jealous. But I’m not and that’s because every time, I understand how fortunate Jamie and I are to have found you two.”

“I’ll second that.” The connecting door between the rooms was still open and Jamie was standing there, wearing only a grin and one of his birthday Cocksox jocks. “Ahh, I just came in to check what time you wanted to head down to breakfast tomorrow considering we have to call in to see Mamma Rosina on the way to the folks.”

“Sure. How about 7.30?”

“Perfect. It’s what we were thinking. Oh, and Chris I agree totally with Andre about how fabulous it is that we have both you and Michael in our lives. I’ll leave you to whatever you were planning to do. See you in the morning.”

Jamie turned to leave and paused at the connecting door. “Don’t worry about making a noise. We won’t hear you above the noise we’ll be making. Michael loves me wearing these.” He disappeared through the door.

We looked at each other and started giggling.

“Now where were we up to?”

“You were lovingly molesting me, and I want you to continue.”

“It’ll be my pleasure.”

“And mine.”

 

 

We eventually sleep soundly and were ready to go down for breakfast when Michael and Jamie joined us at 7.30. A good hotel breakfast buffet is a temptation to overindulge but all the wonderful food we had eaten the night before had dampened our appetite. We all went for coffee and something simple. As it turned out this was a wise move.

 

Mamma Rosina wasn’t well but that didn’t stop her turning on full Italian hospitality. She greeted each of us with a hug and kisses on both cheeks.

She held onto Michael but spoke so we could all hear. “I am old woman. I see things, Nona sees things. Last time you here with Jamie I see love between you. Great love. But not complete. Now you again here, with Christopher and his lover, Andre. Now you complete. Now you all complete.” She threw her head back. “Enough. Come we have food and drink.”

With that Mamma swept a little bit unsteadily into the large kitchen family dining room that I so vividly remembered filled with people and the joy of life and food.

The table was spread with a selection of dangerously delicious Italian pastries which Mamma had made for us. I looked at the Sfogliatella, the Zeppole, the Cannoli and the Castagnole. It brought back memories and a realization that again there was much more than we could possibly eat.

“Wine or coffee?” she asked. We all choose coffee which Bruno said he would make.

The Cannoli was still as magnificent as I remembered and I watched as Michael’s face lit up when he bit into one. That was also when Bruno handing him his coffee and Mamma called, “Come Michael, there are things we discuss.”

While organizing coffee for the rest of us Bruno apologized for there being so much food. “I explained you were going to lunch with your families but all she did was make me help her prepare all this. Don’t worry what we don’t eat can go to the restaurant.”

I put my arm around Bruno the way I used to. “So, despite the cancer, Mamma hasn’t changed?”

“Not in her love for us and of you guys and of life. I just hope we have her for longer.”

I pulled Bruno into a full hug. “We all do Bruno. We all love her.” Jamie and Andre moved into the group hug around Bruno.

Bruno tried to lighten the tension we all knew was there. “OK guys. Thanks for your love and support but I’m Italian. I’m already emotional. Don’t make it worse for me.”

“Bruno, remember that whatever happens, we are all here for you and your family.”

“Thanks Chris. I know you speak for the four of you.” Jamie and Andre nodded agreement. “But, please, eat more so I won’t be accused of being a bad host.”

We laughed. It was easy to eat more but there was more than we could possibly eat. We fell into conversation about Bruno and his family. He loved Angela and their kids and was extremely proud of them. We had just started talking about the restaurant when Michael returned. I sensed tension I wanted to break.

I gestured towards the food. “We left some for you. Just finish that up and we’ll get on our way.”

Even Mamma burst out laughing. “Please Michael, have more but know I always prepare more than needed. Bruno takes rest to restaurant.”

With more hugs and kisses and assurances we would visit again we piled into an Uber for the drive to Michael’s parents’ place. I put my backpack in the boot. Andre sat in the front, and I sat in the back with Michael and Jamie. Silence filled the car.

Jamie squeezed Michael’s thigh. “Babe, we can all tell you’re worried. Just keep remembering that we’ve all got your back.”

“Sorry guys, I am preoccupied. You all know I can’t discuss Mamma’s medical details with you. She’s given me permission to talk to her doctors and I’ll phone them this afternoon. All I can say is that from what she told me and the reports she showed me, the operation is necessary but it’s not straight forward.”

I put my hand on his shoulder. I’m sure I felt him relax a bit. “Mike, I know you love Mamma just as I do. We’re in this together. You have our support. Just remember like Jamie said, you’re not alone through this.”

He breathed out and I felt his shoulder soften. “Yeah thanks. With you three I know I don’t have to face things alone. I love you guys.”

 

We were greeted immediately we entered Michael’s parents’ home. Michael’s parents and my parents were all lying in wait and enthusiastically welcomed the four of us with handshakes, hugs and cheek kisses. Andre quickly became the centre of attention as both sets of parents wanted to get to know him.

As Michael broke free, he asked. “Are we the first to arrive.”

His mother replied, “Well almost, your brother, Paul, and his family are out the back getting things organized on the patio and the lawn.”

The back door bust open and a tall, attractive, athletic, surfer blond, young man rushed in and engulfed me in a strong hug. “Hi Uncle Chris. Remember me?”

I saw his father, Paul, had followed him into the room. Adolescents are proud of growing up but are clueless as to how much they change over a relatively short time. The last time I saw him was about seven years ago when he was a geeky, slightly gangly, eleven or twelve year old. “Hi Jackson, great to see you again. You’ve certainly grown since I saw you last. Then I could pick you up, but I don’t think I could do that now.”

“Sorry Chris.” It was Paul. “But ever since Jackson heard that you would be here, he’s been excited to meet you. This morning we couldn’t cope any longer. That’s why we were the first family to arrive.”

I pushed Jackson back from the hug. “Why are you so keen to meet me?”

“Because you’re my role model. You’re why I’m into coding and gaming and IT.”

“That’s flattering, but how could I possible I manage to do that from miles away?”

“That game you wrote in high school. Uncle Michael gave me his copy. When I discovered I could get in to see the code, I suddenly understood that that’s what the game was. It was just all this code. It fascinated me so I started to teach myself and then did coding as soon as I could in high school and now, I’m doing it in first year Uni. Uncle Chris I’ve watched your YouTube channel even before I knew it was you. Since Uncle Michael told us that you were back from US and it was you I’ve been following everything of yours.”

“I’d say he’s your number one fan.” It was Paul again and Jackson didn’t disagree.

I wasn’t sure I wanted the very attractive, no gorgeous, Jackson being such an ardent fan, but I pushed that to one side.

“Well my number one fan deserves something.” I searched in my backpack and found what I wanted. I handed him a box containing a high end phone.

“No way! I remember this phone when you featured it on your channel. You did the unboxing, testing and the review. It was awesome.”

I could see that Paul was concerned about the obviously costly gift, so I quickly responded. “Yes, it is that phone, and the company didn’t want it back so what better than for my number one fan to have it. There was also this smart watch that goes with it so, that’s yours too.” I glanced at Paul. He was relaxed and smiling now.

“OK son, you’ve had your time meeting Chris, so how about you let some other people catch up with him.”

“Sure dad, but can I ask Uncle Chris if I can visit him during my semester break?”

Paul laughed. “It looks like you already have.”

I was also laughing. “Of course, you can visit but you may have to wait until we have a bigger place and room for visitors.”

“He can always stay with us. We have guest rooms.” It was Michael.

“Well in that case it looks like he’s going. But Michael, a bit of brotherly advice. He’s not always the cute nephew he is at the moment.” Paul ruffled Jackson’s hair to show he was being playful.

Jackson protested. “Daaad. Stop it.” They were both smiling.

Paul then extended his hand to me. “Great to see you again Chris. It’s been too long. Stay in touch this time.”

We shook hands. “I reckon Michael and, now Jackson, will make sure I stay in touch.”

When Michael and I were in high school it took me years to work out why Michael had a brother who was so much older than he was. When I found out it contained some sadness. It turned out that after Paul, there was a stillbirth and his parents were wary of another pregnancy so there was a big gap between Paul and his sister, Rachel. And then came Michael. All this explained why Michael had a just turned eighteen year old nephew.

The party was a blast. The food was amazing. Our parents had been working together planning and preparing. They excelled themselves. Being doting grandparents they had catered for children just as much as for the adults.

Michael and I had our loving and caring extended families around us. Even our grandparents had been invited and made just as much fuss over us as when we were kids.

I was, with reason, admonished by Michael’s family for not staying in touch. Andre was the centre of attention as he was the person they didn’t know. Fortunately he socialized easily as of course, they wanted to know everything about this new addition to the families. Yes families. The four of us were regarded as members of both families.

I was prepared and had brought enough spare electronic stuff and games to please all the nephews and nieces in both families in my backpack. I deliberately brought a new Xbox with games which when set up, helped keep many of the youngsters occupied during the family gathering. Andre may have been a hit with the adults, but I was a hit with the youngsters. Well maybe it was just my backpack of goodies.

I had just finished the food that was on my plate and was contemplating which dessert I would choose when Michael’s mum pulled me away from the party. “Chris, I have something I want to tell you.”

I waited for what she had to say.

“You know Michael was very unhappy when you went to America and even more so when he lost touch with you. I believe that his decision to move away from Melbourne was to escape his memories of here. And, Chris, those memories involved you.” She saw me start to react. “No, don’t get defensive. Just listen to me. By moving away, he met Jamie. And yes, we all love Jamie and, next to you, the best person Michael knows.”

Again I stared to interrupt because I knew how important Jamie is to Michael, but Michael’s mum stopped me.

“Yes, I know they love each other, and their relationship is totally solid. But you were still there. Even absent, you were present.”

“You have to understand that I’m not a threat to their relationship.”

Again, she stopped me. “I know that now and that’s what I’m wanting to say to you. When you suddenly met up again with Michael, he was so excited. I could tell in his voice. The way he told us about you. It was like it was years ago. I was worried that you would come between Michael and Jamie.”

I used her pause. “Not going to happen!”

“Now I’ve seen the four of you together. I don’t really know how to explain it. The four of you are this incredible unit. You are bonded together in a way that’s amazing to see. I see it as Michael’s mother and your mother sees it too. I suppose what I’m wanting to tell you is that I’m so happy you’re back in Michael’s life in such a positive way.”

I pulled her into a hug. “Thanks for sharing with me. And, let me share with you that it means the world to me to have Michael back in my life, especially now it is with Jamie and Andre.”

Still in the hug she spoke softly into my ear. “Yes, Andre and Jamie are very special people, and I can see they complement you and Michael perfectly.”

This is what the four of us had already acknowledged but it was awesome to have it confirmed first by Mamma Rosina and now by both Michael and my parents.

When the party was dying down, I went searching for my partners in crime. Andre was easy. He was charming both sets of parents and the occasional grandparent. Michael was having a serious discussion with his sister, and Paul and Jamie were entertaining a group of kids who weren’t playing video games. Yes, Jamie could be an entertaining extrovert without being at all sexual.

Back together we ordered an Uber and made the round of thank yous and warm farewells. On the way back to the hotel, Michael told us he had arranged a meeting with Mamma’s surgeon for tomorrow morning. We had already eaten so much that no one was interested in having dinner and jet more food. Jamie (of course) suggested we hit the gay bars. That was greeted more enthusiastically.

Back at the hotel we showered and dressed appropriately to hit the Melbourne gay scene. It didn’t take Jamie and Michael long to start making suggestions, all of which included drinking and dancing well into the morning. Obviously, that is what we ended up doing once we got to The Peel. A great venue where the four of us could relax and party. Jamie kept pulling us onto the small and very crowded dance floor. Andre was always prepared to join Jamie, even when Michael or I decided to rest. We had fun moving to the music but the crush on the dance floor severely limited our dance moves. We all totally enjoyed ourselves, so it wasn’t surprising that we rolled into our hotel rooms adrenaline heightened, alcohol fuelled, happy and exhausted sometime after 3am.

Coming up soon - the rest of their trip to Melbourne.
Copyright © 2023 Paladin; 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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57 minutes ago, Cane23 said:

Great to see new characters coming into the story! Andre is still a bit insecure when it comes to Chris and Michael which can be understandable seeing how many connections there are between those two. Anyhow, I hope that Andre will mature more as his relationship with Chris grows. Especially because, looking from aside, Michael and Chris look like ideal couple...both mature, stable, successful, down to earth. But maybe it is youth energy, light spirit and joy of life from Andre and Jamie exactly what they need to be complete. I'm looking forward to seeing how this unique foursome relationship will develop.

Thanks @Cane23 you are right that Jamie and Andre's personalities are different from Chris and Michael's personalities and in a way that are complementary. We will keep learning more about Andre as the story progresses.

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4 hours ago, mansexlover said:

A great chapter. Sad about Nonna's cancer   hopefully it has been caught early and can be treated successfully 

We all have our fingers crossed @mansexlover. It will be a while before we find out

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Great chapter, and looking forward to the story of Jamie and Andre…. They have a history together too.

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57 minutes ago, VBlew said:

Great chapter, and looking forward to the story of Jamie and Andre…. They have a history together too.

Coming up in the next chapter @VBlew

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