April 3 2008
I was ecstatic having sex two nights in a row. We giggled, wrestled, and played king of the bed for hours. I had the judo and he had size, huge muscles and my being insanely ticklish on his side. We finally worked ourselves to a deep, much needed sleep sometime after 3am. I awoke the next morning and found Austin dancing around bare assed, naked, making breakfast. I had a lecherous grin as I left the bathroom and walked in to kiss him good morning.
“Test your blood sugar before you sit down,” he said as he spun to turn the coffee maker on.
“WHAT? You don’t have hot coffee waiting for me? Ya big freak” I teased.
“Bite me!” he said not even turning around to insult me.
After I applied the blood to the test strip and was waiting for the meter, I got on my hands and knees and crawled up to bite Austin’s big muscular ass.
“Ooooooooooooohhhhh!” he moaned happily before adding, “Uhhh, while you’re down there…”
I knew what he wanted, but I just smacked his ass hard and stood up.“No way, we need to go see Mrs. Nottinbach, and I’m guessing she would prefer I didn’t have ass breath.” I said.
“Very classy…” Austin said with a scowl and then added, “Well, go get in the shower while I finish breakfast then,” he sighed.
I ran a finger down his chest as I sank to my knees in front of him, I could hear the grin creeping across his face.
“Orrrr…” I said stopping when my knees hit the floor. His hands suddenly grasped my head and pulled me forward.
Austin kept the food warm while I was finishing my task. When I was done I stood up and wiped my arm across my face as Austin handed me a coffee.
“After breakfast, you and I have a date in the shower,” Austin grinned as he handed me a plate. “But before you eat, go take your shot!” he said as he headed for the counter we’d been eating at.
So we had breakfast and talked about the show and about how I could put in my two-week notice. And then we had a long, hot, almost acrobatic, shower… We found out how immensely hot it was for me to fall against his chest and relax while he did the simple task of shaving my face. After he was done, we had sex twice more since Austin had been smart enough to grab some condoms on the way in…. An hour later, Austin carried me out newlywed style and gently dried me off with a big peach-coloured towel.
As Austin dried himself off, I went and got our clothing out; I got a pair of faded 501 shorts and a turquoise shirt for me and got Austin a pair of 501s jeans and his pitcher shirt. I figured with as much pitching as he’d done in the previous two days, he deserved to boast. Because of where we were going though, Austin took a Hawaiian shirt along to wear over the one I’d picked. I decided to bring my insulin and testing stuff so we could go out for lunch later. While Austin was calling Mrs. Nottinbach back to make sure she was expecting us, I called Ryan and Michael and said we’d be over after we were done, I also asked them to feed Thunder as we were already running late. I knew from the sound of Michaels voice that he was smirking and thinking, “yeah-I know what you two were doing”
When Austin walked in a few minutes later, he had a funny grin, “So do you think Mrs. Notinbach is as ‘phobic as her name?”
I gave him a puzzled look, “Huh?”
Austin began laughing, “I didn’t get it either at first, Collin asked me.” He smirked.
“Asked you what?” I queried.
Austin had a precious grin on as he slowly said, “Nottinbach… NOT IN BACK…???”
I rolled my eyes and threw a pair of socks at him, “Get dressed goofball, and stop letting Collin use you for his dirty work.”
Austin looked up with an evil grin, “Really? Cause he’s been telling me about some stuff you apparently used to like…”
Austin was waiting to see how I’d react; I just sighed and said, “I already told him he couldn’t fuck either of us until after our honeymoon!” I said rolling my eyes. Austin snorted derisively.
When we got to Mrs. Nottinbach’s house, she greeted us and invited us inside. She said the couple who were buying her place had taken her to church that morning and she was very glad as she’d missed a lot of church activities due to her health and aversion to driving these days. I immediately pictured the small woman trying to peer over her dashboard. We came in and she offered us tea and some coffee cake she’d made the night before. Austin agreed readily but I told her all I wanted was tea, and then she remembered that I had diabetes and apologized over and over.
“Ma’am, it’s fine, really. My own mother still forgets sometimes. It’s hard to remember, because I don’t look any different,” I said to her with a smile.
“Besides, good southern tradition makes us offer food and drink to visitors automatically.” Austin added with a smirk.
As I sat down to drink my tea Mrs. Nottinbach asked us to call her Hazel. Then she told us about her friend who was selling the house.
“My friend, Ramona, told me yesterday she’d decided to sell her house since I had and wanted to know where I was off to. She said she was ready to sell and be taken care of now; but she was too scared to go by herself.” She was gossiping as if Austin or I had any knowledge of who or what she was talking about.
“The poor woman, she lost her husband a few years ago and…” she leaned in close like she was sharing a secret. “She lost her son in 1987. She was never the same after that. And that’s what made me think that you’d be perfect for her house.”
I got a puzzled look and looked at Austin who had the same confused expression, when I looked back at Hazel, she looked a little embarrassed.
“I – I – I hope I’m not stepping on any toes here, but I h-had the idea that you were a … a-umm… a… a couple?”
I smiled and looked at Austin, “Yes ma’am, we tried not to offend you since you’re obviously very religious.”
“I knew you two weren’t brothers!” she said wryly. Then with a serene smile, “And I didn’t have anything against you for being homosexuals. I just wanted to help out Bonnie and Peter because they reminded me of Hennery and me at their age. Ours is a god of love and he loves everyone equal. Anyways, Ramona, well, she has a soft spot these days for homosexuals. She…uh…well…has a past that…”
I think Austin must have been giving her the same uncomprehending stare I was.
Hazel leaned in close again.
“Please don’t say nothin’ about what I’m telling you.”
We both shook our heads and promised.
“Well, back in 1984, she and Peter, her husband, came home from a movie much earlier than they’d told their son Steven they would. When they walked in they found Steven with his best friend Charles in the pool.” She said this as though it would mean something to us.
I shrugged my shoulders and said “Yes Ma’am?”
She made an exasperated grunt and rolled her eyes, “They were both naked and…” she said hoping we’d catch on to her vague hints.
“Do you mean they were “with” each other?” Austin said emphasizing “with”.
“Yes, exactly!” Hazel said glad one of us had caught on… “Well Ramona hit the roof and Peter was so mad he threw Steven out of the house and then Ramona told Charles parents what they’d walked in on and Charles was sent off to military school.”
I was totally drawn into this dark story by this point. I was upset but didn’t know what to say and Hazel, who it appeared to like a bit of gossip, continued.
“So as I was saying, Steven was homeless for a while and stayed with friends. No one ever said why, but one day he went with this young man and… that rotten boy and his friends brought Steven to a hotel room…” She paused to compose herself. “They jumped on him there, they ambushed Steven and hit him over and over… the boys beat him until the police couldn’t recognize him from his drivers license photo.” Hazel said sadly as she relived the event in her mind. “They beat him over and over, the police told Ramona that they only knew who it was by dental records, the police caught those boys eventually. I-I-I guess they’re still in prison. Ramona and Peter took it awful hard and blamed themselves for Steven’s death…” She paused and dabbed her eyes with a Kleenex.
“The saddest part was that Charles got out of the Navy on leave a few days later and came home mostly to see what had happened to Steven, he only knew the daily letters from Steven had stopped. When he learned of what happened, he went out and got drunk and took some kind of pills and… And…” She paused, she was obviously reliving part of this in her head.
“They found him dead in the driveway in his Buick the next morning. He’d written a suicide note saying they had been in love. Their mothers were both beyond grief at what had happened. After Charles’s brother told them what the boys would have wanted, the parents agreed that since the boys loved each other so much, that after Charles was cremated they would have Steven’s ashes mixed together with Charles’s.” Hazel lowered her voice and leaned in, as it was apparent that Austin and I were now part of the little circle that knew all this. As much as she loved to gossip, it was apparent that she seldom talked about this.
“Their fathers took it real bad and blamed themselves.” Hazel looked so frail at that moment. “Each family has an urn with a mix of the two boys in them. Ramona feels that if she’d reacted better like a good parent and just reacted to them doing what they were caught doing in the house, and hadn’t reacted so badly and told Charles’s family what was going on, they would have stayed a couple and would both still be alive. They would probably still be a couple too” She added softly.
Hazel’s story had made both Austin and I quiet and contemplative, I didn’t know what to say except “Oh god, those poor guys!”
“Jesus fuck’n Christ!” Austin blurted out as he stood suddenly and turned around.
I could see the expression on Hazels face of surprise. “Those poor guys… They… They… they didn’t deserve that!” he exclaimed angrily though his voice was cracking.
Something in his voice made me remember Joe and Nathan and what that had done to him. I looked up to see a tear sitting in his eye and a jaw clenched so tight not even air could get past it. I think Hazel saw it too.
“I didn’t mean to upset you honey, I just thought you should know the story and see why she’d be willing to sell you the house for a good price.”
Austin’s pain was palpable and I risked disturbing Hazel by reaching out and taking his hand in mine to comfort him as I pulled him slowly back to his seat. “I’m sorry honey; I didn’t mean to upset you.” She said softly as she poured him another cup of tea.
After a minute of this when Austin finally regained his composure, Hazel stood and got on the old wall mounted almond coloured kitchen phone with a tangled sixty foot cord that must have been older then Austin. She called Ramona and said we’d be right over. So Austin drove Hazel and me over in my jeep. Austin was a perfect gentleman and helped the older woman in and out of the jeep.
The house was a block further into the neighborhood and butted up to a wooded lot on one side. On the other side was a small house that I’d guess had been there since the 1930s when faux Spanish decorations were the norm in Florida.
“You’re going to love this place if you liked mine, curvy cabinets and 1950s bathrooms and all that stuff,” she said with a grin towards Austin.
The house was mostly a classic 1950s ranch styled exterior with a small second floor on the right side. It was a pale yellow and had large oak trees around the actual house.
“WOW!” was all I said driving up. The size of the place alone floored me, and the yard was magnificent.
“Yeah, no kidding!” Austin added with a deep voice.
“Come on in, Ramona is expecting us. She’s in the kitchen. Oh, Ramona hasn’t been in the best health, so the place is a bit unkempt at the moment.” Hazel apologized.
We went around to a side door through the open garage. It was a triple garage on the left side of the house and the door lead to a wash room and then into a big kitchen. When we entered, a taller woman in her late 60s or early 70s who was still dying her hair a dark almost black brown color greeted us. She was using a walker and moved slowly. Hazel introduced us and told Ramona and us to sit down while she made tea. Ramona seemed like a nice enough woman, but the house reeked of cigarette smoke.
“Well, Hazel tells me you’re looking for a house and that you,” she said pointing at Austin, “like the 50s styled kitchen and bathrooms of hers.”
Austin smiled. “Yes Ma’am,”
She got a big grin. “Someone’s mama brought him up with proper manners, that’s nice to see these days,” she said with what was a northern accent but I couldn’t tell if it was New York, New Jersey, or Boston. I was hearing. She took the tea that Hazel was offering her.
“I told you Mona. both these boys are well mannered, and didn’t I tell you they were both cute as buttons?” I think Austin was blushing more than I was, but that just made both women giggle harder.
“Hazel, I think you should show the boys around. I’m not feeling so good today and I don’t think I’d do a good job of keeping up. But if you want to know anything, don’t be afraid to ask,” she offered us.
While we were still in the kitchen, I made a note of the very large space with a portable island in the center that looked like it had been added as an after thought in the 1970s when the kitchen had obviously been renovated. The stove and fridge were both Avocado green and the island was ringed in burnt orange tiles. There was also a big picture window that looked out on the back yard and the hurricane glass pool area. The cabinets were rounded on the ends like Hazel’s, and there was a big sink and this black and white tiled back splash that ran around the kitchen and the walls that surrounded the breakfast table Mona sat at.
“Come on boys, I’ll show you the rest of the house, Hennery helped build it with Peter, so I know it almost as well as I know my own.”
We followed her to a small hallway that was mostly all doors.
“This way is the formal dining room…” she said leading us into a large room with a floor to ceiling display cabinet made from wood and glass that covered the far side of the room.
“It’s handmade. Peter was a very handy man. And besides his work for the electric company, he dabbled in woodworking,” Hazel said as Austin and I both zeroed in on the built in china cabinet fixture at the far side of the room. “That would so cool with a light in it and all my Raku pottery.” I said to Austin. He was looking at the 8’ Oak table that was built into the room.
“Come on! I’ll show you the rest of the downstairs but you’ll have go upstairs by yourselves. I’m afraid neither of us is in any shape to climb stairs these days,” she said referring to her and Ramona.
Next we were shown a true 1950s tiled bathroom with pink sinks and toilet and a black and white tile checkerboard design that had a double row of pink tiles that went around the walls. It was a very small bathroom behind the door directly across from the dining room.
“And this is the living room…” Hazel said leading us into a large carpeted partially sunken living room that hadn’t been much used since the 50s by the looks of it. It felt like a time capsule.
“Look at this!” Austin said indicating an area by the back wall where the carpet had peeled up. It showed clearly that under this rug was a terrazzo floor.
“What’s that?” Austin said not knowing what terrazzo was.
“Oh my god! It’s a terrazzo floor. They were very popular in the 50s and 60s. It’s basically some find of concrete mixed with resin that they pour over tile chips and then buff down to a smooth finish, You rarely see them these days.” I said wondering why anyone would hide such a great selling point.
“Oh, that’s easy enough to cover up,” Hazel said apologizing for the rug coming up.
“Oh? No, no Hazel! I want to remove the rug and show the terrazzo,” I said.
She gave me a funny look. “Oh, well! It’ll be your place, I mean, if you take it.” she added as though I had told her I wanted to keep live lions in a cage in the bedroom. It occurred to me then how fashion’s changed and how primitive these women saw the terrazzo as, unlike the new gay sensibility that ogled the retro décor. Well, except the avocado and burnt Orange stuff. Fifty’s good, seventies bad!
“Well, two of the bedrooms are down here as well, over by the stairs that lead up to the second floor master bedroom,” she said pointing to a raised portion of the floor on the right wall. It lead to the foyer and the stairs and the three doors.
“First I want to show you the Florida room and pool area.” So we went to the back of the house that had drapes across it. Behind the drapes was a run down wonderland. A small dusty Florida room, lack of use had taken its toll. It was the full length of the back of the house and as deep as the dining room had been. The furniture out here was old. The jalousie windows hadn’t been opened in many, many years and still held the mummified bodies of lizards, insects and tree frogs that had died and been preserved in dusty webs. On the far side of the Florida room was a small pool area closed in with hurricane glass bricks that met at an arched wrought iron gateway. The roof was a kind of thick wavy aqua colored translucent plastic. The pool was a small peanut shaped pool that I could lay in and touch the sides and Michael could have just barely stretched out in,
The pool was fairly small as pools went and it was drained; the whole place looked dirty and run down, but I saw immediately the potential and could imagine the place painted and the pool filled with water.
“Can you imagine this place with a few palm trees in pots wrapped in white Christmas light?” Austin asked me with a big grin.
I made a funny face and turned to him and said, “Oh, my God! Could you get any gayer?”Austin gave me a sour look as Hazel laughed. His pride had been wounded and his mood was unmistakable.
“Sorry baby, you’re just… just…” I hesitated and looked to Hazel before turning to face him.
“You’re just too damned cute sometimes! OK?” I said under my breath while blushing before turning back to face Hazel.
“Come on boys!” She said with a smirk, “Let me show you the bedrooms on this floor. I’ll send you up to the master bedroom when we’re done,” Hazel said hoping we were done with the gay couple thing as she walked slowly to the step up near the two bedroom doors.
“I’ll show you this first one quickly. Ramona is staying in there, but you can get an impression.” She opened the door quickly and gave us a look at the small room painted a soft yellow and the bed was done in browns, whites and earth tones.
“That middle door there is a bathroom with a tub in it,” she said opening the middle door to show us a bathroom with a turquoise tub, toilet and sink. It was obvious that Ramona used the bathroom as there was an ash tray over flowing with cigarettes and lots of feminine type toiletries. She closed the door quickly and went to the next bedroom.
“This was Steven’s room. I don’t think she’s gone in there since right after they cremated him. It’s kind of a shrine, but here, you can see for yourselves…” Hazel said opening a door to a child’s room. If he had changed when he got older, his mom had changed it back. The posters were still on the blue walls and the bed still had a baseball theme to it.
“Well, I guess this’ll be your room then,” I quietly teased Austin with a nudge to his ribs. I didn’t want to upset the reverent mood that was over all of us knowing what we knew.
“Is that Steven?” Austin asked ignoring me. He went over to an 8x11 in a metal frame. It showed a picture of a high school graduation with a tall very attractive blond in it that had to be Steven. Next to Steven was a blond girl with enormous hair and a powder blue dress with even bluer ribbons adorning it.
“Yes, that’s him on his formal prom night next to his girl friend at the time, a girl named Lucy. And that’s a picture of him and Charles together their senior year,” she said indicating another 8x11 in a frame over the bed. Charles was a very handsome and beefy athlete. I then noticed a silver urn sitting on the nightstand. “That’s Steven and Charlie’s ashes.” She said deferentially.
“It’s like the two of you only opposite,” Hazel noted as we looked around the room.
“Yeah, a big brunette and a smaller blond,” Austin noted as he fingered the picture deferentially.
When we were done, Hazel told us to go upstairs and look around and not to miss the rooftop balcony and master bathroom. So Austin and I climbed the stairs and opened the door at the top of the stairs.
“Wow!” was all I heard Austin say when he walked in ahead of me. When I got next to him, I wasn’t sure if it was a good ‘wow’ or a bad ‘wow’. The room was on the large side, it was all done in wood veneer paneling, some of which was pulling off the walls. The room was maybe 30’ by 48’ with a large walk in closet and a small bathroom. The jalousie windows that went around three walls were dirty and had numerous corpses of dried insects, lizards and frogs in them like the windows down stairs. The bed was made with an old yellowing flannel quilt that had several burn marks in it. Despite the cigarette smoke that pervaded the house, the air here smelled old and stale as the door might have remained closed for years. I was interested in the bathroom, but first I wanted to go out on the porch and get some fresh air. The balcony was great; it went almost to the ends of the roof and had a wrought iron fence all around the perimeter. An old metal ashtray is all that remained on the seating area. I noted that with a different roof, one could look down on the pool from up here.
“So whaddaya think?” I asked Austin. He was quiet a moment, looking for the right words.
“Well, I know it’s a bit run down, and the smoke is awful…” he began. I smiled and put a finger to his lips to shush him a moment. His eyes shot up to meet mine questioningly.
“I love it too, baby,” I said with a shit eating grin. Then continued, “And after we clean and paint the house, remove the carpets and all the smoke saturated furniture,” I said to a madly smiling Austin.
“You mean it?” Austin asked with a grin so bright it hurt to look at.
“Yeah, but lets hear what she’s asking first. I know the place is a bit run down, but it is a big place. The land alone is worth a fortune.” He hopped up and down excitedly and I couldn’t help but giggling and joining him in a few pops. Austin stopped and wrapped his arms around me and laid a huge kiss on my lips. He then turned his head and with his right arm began pointing at the yard, which was all fenced in, though the front yard and back were separated.
“Over there, where it’s real sunny, I picture a fish pond with a little bridge, some ducks and swans. Maybe if we make it big enough, and further out a fuck’n rose garden, I’d like to plant some Jasmine on the trees and fence in the back of the property. We could put some gardenias in near the pool area – maybe out front,” he said turning me with him as he was painting his picture for me.
“We can plant a few Magnolias. What kind of good proper southern home doesn’t have a magnolia?” He asked before kissing me again.
I was tempted briefly to tease him about his ‘oh so gay’ decorating scheme, but something stopped me and I just smiled as he beamed happily.
“Wanna go and see how crappy the bathroom is before we go down and see the girls?” Austin asked with his arm still draped over my shoulder.
“One second,” I said grinning as I turned to him. When he looked down I began hopping again and urged him to join me for a few hops before we both started laughing.
“Ok, I think I got it all out now,” I said still laughing. Although the hopping was over, at least for now, there was a definite bounce to both our steps. The bathroom was basically clean of toiletries and equipment, but it was a very 1950 bathroom with a seashell motif and an off white sink and a newer toilet, and a tiled walk in shower. We shrugged at each other and went down to see the girls, Hazel and Ramona. They both looked up with smiling faces when they saw us.
“I’ll be honest boys. I would have had the place cleaned up a bit if I knew you were coming over to look at buying the place today. I’m sorry it’s a bit dirty,” she said using her fingers holding the cigarette to talk with.
“So what did you think?” Hazel asked; Austin and I looked at each other as we leaned back against the counter facing Hazel and Ramona.
I finally said, “It’s everything you said it was Hazel,” which got a smile from both women.
“And?” she asked.
“And, we’re curious, the place has obviously seen better days, and it’s a bit run down, but it looks like a solid foundation, soooo” I said leading in. We talked a bit about the shape the place was in and asked Ramona what she was thinking of as a price?” Ramona looked up.
“I don’t think 350,000 is too much for a place this size, do you?” she asked us. It wasn’t the land alone was probably more than that on the market.
“We were kind of looking for something in the 100 to 200 thousand range,” Austin said sadly.
Ramona said, “Well, if you can wait, I can probably knock it down to 250,000. But I’ll need time to sell of a lot of this stuff. I have no heirs to give it to, least none that want to come here and help out, it’ll take a while to sell,” she said.
Finally, after getting each other very confused about how home buying went, Hazel began laughing. “You boys!” she said laughing so hard she was sliding off her chair.
“When you said you’d pay 70,000 for my place, I thought you meant total, not up front… Ramona, what do you want down front?” she asked still chuckling.
“Well, if it’s 350,000 I’d expect about 3,500 down,” said Ramona.
Austin and I looked at each other almost afraid to speak.
“We…uh…we were going to put 70,000 down, and then finance the rest.” he said humbly at which point Ramona began laughing too.
“Boy’s if you want to put 70,000 down, I’ll drop the price to $275,000 and let you worry about all the crap” she said. “I’ll go on and leave you most of the stuff in the house, you keep what you want and sell the rest… I only want a few things, jewelry, pots pans and pictures mostly” Ramona said thinking. “And the urns with Peter and Steven and Charlie in them too” She added quickly, not wanting to explain who any of them were.
We talked more and found out that although we’d have the house inspected, she’d replaced the roof five years before that and the plumbing had had work that past year. We agreed to hire the inspector and have him examine the house and give us the results before we paid anything. We told Ramona that we’d be bringing family and friends to see the place before we closed to which she said “fine”.
Austin guided me to the jeep as we left. Hazel said she was staying with Ramona for the afternoon so we bid them goodbye and Austin never took his hand off me until I was seated. I think the contact helped ground both of us from flying off the planet into outer space. Austin and I were both way beyond wound up. We were babbling at Mach 10 as Austin drove us out of the drive way. I stopped him only long enough to call Ryan and Michael and find out if they’d be home a while longer. We made plans to meet them and go out for lunch after picking them up, and then I called Collin in his hotel and told him to meet us at Little Saigon and to leave Julie alone as an after thought.
When we pulled into Ryan’s place, Austin and I barely waited for the jeep to stop before we leaped out and ran to the front door. We were falling on each other waiting for one of the older, usually calmer adults inside to answer the door. When Michael finally did he said, “My god, you two looked like you just robbed a bank, what’s up?”
Austin buzzed past me to find Ryan while I told Michael what was going on.
“OH MY GOD!” Ryan screamed from the other room.
Michael looked at me and broke out laughing. “Ok, Spill it already!”
So I explained the whole story to him while Austin was rambling on to Ryan. We invited them to go with us. They secured their house and Michael and Ryan joined us in the jeep and went over to Little Saigon where we’d planed to have lunch with Collin.
It wasn’t hard spotting the tall, blond Adonis sitting there with a plate of Summer rolls and a drink already eating when we walked in, Julie came over with her trade mark smile.
“Hello boys,” she said coming over with several plates of summer rolls and peanut sauce. “What do you want to drink?” She asked Michael and Ryan as she set my iced tea with lemonade down and gave the same to Austin. We all greeted Collin and the group of them began laughing at Austin and me.
“All right,” Collin asked in his thick accent, So that it sounded like “ol roit.” “Which one of you spiked Alex’s drink with crystal meth?” Collin asked.
Michael responded with: “Not sure, but Austin looks like he’s ready to bounce on someone for a Scooby snack.”
I spit out a mouth of summer roll I laughed so hard.
“We…uh… I mean…Alex and I have an announcement.” Austin said with a goofy grin.
I just took his hand and said, “Well, it’s not an announcement yet, but we’d like to get the three of you to come over and see…”
Before I could say it Austin blurted out, “OUR NEW HOUSE!”
I punched his arm because I wanted to say it. He laughed and rubbed his shoulder as though I could hit him hard enough to hurt him.
“Will you stop terrorizing Austin, you little bully?” Ryan said smirking. “Besides, I want to hear all about the new house,” he said excitedly.
Collin popped the last bite of summer roll into his mouth before saying, “So tell us about it already.”
“Yeah, so tell us all about it.” Michael said in his soft baritone.
So we took brief turns telling them all about the place. As one would start to describe something the other would interrupt with some pertinent fact. Finally, after we’d ordered our lunches, Austin began painting them the same picture he had painted for me about duck ponds and rose gardens, I couldn’t help but grin like a madman while Austin was painting this picture for them..
“So this whole hyper thing isn’t the product of methamphetamine?” Ryan asked smiling.
“Hey, leave Alex alone! It’s his first house…” Austin said putting an arm around me as though he were shielding me from the abuse.
“Besides, we don’t have the place yet. I guess we still need to talk to a bank and fill out the paper work and all that.” Austin added as Julie reappeared with the tray with our lunches. We agreed that after lunch we would take the boys over to see the place, at least from the outside and then I’d have to start getting ready for the evening show.
So after we’d eaten, Collin insisted on paying the entire bill regardless of what Austin or Ryan said.
Michael and I just sat back and watched the alphas argue. “So who do you thinks gunna win this pissing contest?” Michael asked casually without looking at me.
“Watch a second, you’re about to see the winner of any and all pissing contest he enters.” I said as Collin grabbed the bill and stood up. I smiled as Michael began laughing.
Afterwards we called Ramona and asked if we could bring the boys over to see the outside of the house. She said that was fine and that Hazel was still over there. So we drove up and Ryan and Michael were already saying, “No fucking way!”
“Oh yeah WAY, and I need to get that check from you too,” Austin asked Collin casually.
“What check?” Collin replied with a hint of curiosity on his face and knit brows.
“You know the check to bring Mom’s 45 thousand up to 70?” Austin replied with a hint of worry.
“Austin, I-I have no idea what you’re talking about…” Collin said with a confused look. Finally I figured out what was going on.
“Collin, stop scaring Austin with your crap ok? He’s my fiancé and if you mess with him, you mess with me,” I said trying to sound tough although I wanted to laugh at his littles game.
“You tell him, Mate,” Austin said in a horrible Aussie accent.
“Roit, call off your Chihuahua, Austin!” Ryan said in a much better Aussie accent.
“By the way guys” I said interrupting the conversation, ‘Austin and I have to be in court on Wednesday and Thursday, it’s the trial for that asshole that shot Nate.” I said with a grim note.
Austin added, “Don’t worry guys, it’s just routine crap, we’ll be in and out with no problems. The case should be over before it begins.”
“We were subpoenaed too Alex, so were Michael ,Jason, and Glen. Everyone that was there that night,” Ryan said holding Alex’s gaze.
“Well, I hope none of you think you’re going there alone.” Collin said to the point it was useless to argue with him. I knew of the one way I used to win arguments with him, but as I was marrying Austin I knew it wouldn’t be an option.
When we pulled up Hazel came out to greet us. She had a big smile on her face. We made introductions as we began walking around the outside of the house. Collin was visibly less than pleased.
He finally said to me out of the earshot of Hazel, “But it’s so small!”
“It’s One acre with another 3/4 acres in wilderness in the back and on the right side.” Austin protested.
“Collin,” I turned to face him. “This isn’t an estate like you grew up on. It’s a normal sized house with a really big yard and pretty soon it’s going to be ours!” I said with my arm around Austin’s waist. I felt him leaning over so I turned to meet him in a kiss. I hadn’t realized it, but Hazel had slowly followed us around the house. It wasn’t until I heard Collin say,
“You’ll have to excuse them Hazel. They have to kiss every five minutes or the world flies off its axis.” She just smiled and said not to worry ourselves about it.
We stopped in time to see Hazel blush as she turned to Collin.
“It’s nice to see love again, even if it’s not the way I remember it with Henry,” she said with a blush.
“Now don’t you mind me. I brought the key in case y’all wanted to see anything back inside,” she said as she walked forward to us.
“And I can see a fish pond with ducks over there in the sunny area, and maybe a rose garden. And I’d love to build a barbeque pit and deck out back here too,” Austin told Ryan and Michael.
The grass was almost impossibly green and it was clear Ramona had been paying to keep her yard up to her standards even if she rarely got to see it much anymore. The weather was starting to warm and it was perhaps 88 degrees out and the humidity was already off the charts.
“Hey, I know where we can board Thor and Loki when we go away!” Ryan said to Austin,
“Between the pool and the future fish pond, the dogs will be in heaven!” Austin said. “Not to mention the big yard and the pool.” Austin amended. “We’re getting some new guard dogs, so we should probably keep Thor and Loki with them a while so they get used to them.”
Michael looked Puzzled and asked, “Why are you getting guard dogs? It looks like a safe neighborhood.”
Austin jumped in and said, “Just a precaution, Alex won’t let me bring a gun, so we’re getting some back up for Thunder.”
Alex broke the mood by saying, “I don’t think Thunder or Tempest are gunna scare anyone off. Especially Thunder the bark and lick stratagist”
I smiled then reminded him, “And you’re forgetting, we don’t have a ‘dog’ Mr. Camble, that’s our child.”
Hazel invited us in, but I thanked her and promised we’d take the boys on a full tour next time, but I had to go back and get ready for work. Later that night we did our Valentines Day show again and Austin came in just in time for me to sit in his lap when we did “Whatta man.” I told everyone about the Seattle Scene moving later that summer to the new club. I went home that night to find that Austin had decided our weekend was over. I was upset but without the aid of a blue pill, I wasn’t sure how much I’d have left in me for another night of madness anyways… though I’m pretty sure I could have found it if that had been an option.
Early the next day I got the tape recorder that Ryan had leant me and called work and asked to speak to Mrs. Cleavlan, I told her that I needed to take the day off and, as she began screaming at me and cussing and calling me names. I smiled as I watched the little tape spinning as it recorded every word she was screaming. After a few times of me trying to apologize, I hung up. I knew she was going to fire me soon and I wanted to quit so I had to hang up on her before she said those words. I clicked the tape recorder off with a grin as I grabbed a to-go cup of coffee Austin handed me on my way out the door.
“I’ll see you sometime this afternoon baby. I’ll call you when I’m done at the bank,” I said tapping the cell phone that had become an integral part of my wardrobe.
So I left the house and drove to the downtown area of Orlando, the only place in central Florida that had buildings tall enough to be called sky scrapers. Orlando, even back in 97 had the start of an impressive skyline. I drove up to the towering building off Orange Ave and went in the elevator up to the 23rd floor. I exited and followed the signs to a busy office and went up to the blond receptionist and asked to talk to Lester McDonnaly a name I’d gotten off Mr. Riley.
“Mr. McDonnaly is busy right now, do you have an appointment?” the blond asked clearly thinking I couldn’t have been important enough to warrant an appointment, much less actually looking up at.
“No, I’m here as a courtesy before I take a matter to court. Tell him I’m filing a sexually discrimination suit against my boss; Janet Cleavlan. , my name is Alex Johnson and I’ll just wait over here,” I said sitting down and smiling as I thought of the things that Collin had coached me in.
I grabbed a magazine and pretended to read it casually as I listened to the self important receptionist on the phone. After a bit of hushed conversation she looked up with a smile and actually met my eyes when she said, “Mr. Johnson? Mr. McDonnaly will be out in one minute to see you.”
A few seconds later the door to a glass enclosed hallway opened and a large man in both statue and width came out. He was probably in his late 50s, and was about 6’2” tall and must have been on the far side of 250 pounds. He was bald except for a ring of short grey hair around his scalp.
“Mr. Johnson, if you’ll please follow me?”
I walked over and shook the man’s hand and followed him into the hall and back to his corner office over looking Orlando and Lake Eola.
“Please have a seat Mr. Johnson.” The man said gesturing to a leather seat in front of his stylish desk.
“So, you allege that Mrs. Cleavlan sexually harassed you? Do you have any proof?” Mr. McDonnaly asked as I sat down.
I took out the micro recorder and watched his eyes narrow as I hit the play button.
“Listen you god damned prissy little faggot, I don’t want any of your fairy assed excuses. I want you in here now! I’ve had enough of your damned queer ‘I don’t feel good’ excuses. Get your faggot ass in here now!” She yelled before I cut the machine off.
“That doesn’t sound like sexual harassment to me, excessive foul language; yes, but that’s it?” he asked.
I crossed my legs. “First of all, that was this morning, and as of February 3rd I still have a week of vacation days left. She didn’t even care about that, and I didn’t tell her I was coming in here because I didn’t want her stopping me somehow, plus I didn’t want her to take things out on the other employees.” I said.
“And second, her calling me a faggot and a queer falls within legal and company sexual discrimination guidelines, According to the EEOC, it also falls within the federal discrimination guidelines. I have an entire office that will back me up on the fact that she went out of her way to berate me, make my private life a topic for ridicule, and make my life miserable. Aside from that, she has made working for this company so awful that I think if I’d staged a walkout, two thirds of the office would have followed me. And anyone who stayed would have done so just out of fear of loosing their job”
Mr. McDonnaly sat back and crossed his arms.
“Ok, so why are you here Mr. Johnson?” the man asked.
“Believe it or not, Company loyalty,” I said then added “Mr. Riley always treated me great. He treated everyone in his DeLand branch well. I don’t think I ever heard a bad word about him. The people I worked with were generally happy and felt part of a big family. Where I am now, every person there is looking for anyway out. She’s totally hated across the board. Every person there is looking for a better job including a few of us who have been working for this company for years.”
“In most of our branches there is a great deal of recidivism. Turn over is a fact of modern life Mr. Johnson.” the man said sitting back.
“That’s probably true Mr. McDonnaly, but I’ve never had a job where EVERY single person felt persecuted and was in mortal fear of being singled out as the victim dujour .” I said then hit the play button again.
“You stupid piss for brains ignorant faggot, you’d better bring a god damned hospital note with you if you decide to come back. I thought you faggots were supposed to be decent employees.” I ended it there.
“You can do something about her or I can see if the local news programs are more interested. I can also check with the ACLU, GLAAD, the hrC and anyone else who’d be interested. And trust me, I don’t want to, but I may have to bring this tape to the local EEOC office (Equal Employment and Opportunities Commission) and see if I have enough for a sexual harassment case,” I said meeting his narrowing eyes. I had to remember to thank Ryan and Collin for their ideas and Michael for mentioning the EEOC which I’d never heard of.
“So assuming we take your message seriously, what are you asking for? I’m assuming this is leverage against us for some specific purpose?”
I nodded.“Simple, I have a two fold request. First of all, I want her fired, not promoted out of there, not moved, I’d like to see her publicly fired for her barbaric treatment of me and all the other employees.”
Mr. McDonnaly nodded then said, “According to our legal department, no employee can be publicly fired or have their employment discussed by officials under the company umbrella. So what else?”
“To ease everyone’s mind, I’d like to discuss a severance package and put in my two weeks notice. You won’t ever have to hear from me again,” I said with a smile.
The large man shifted in his seat.
“I’ll have to discuss this with the other Vice presidents and CEOs, but if we agree, how much are you asking for a severance package?” he inquired.
“Well, a lot less than you’re probably thinking. I want a guaranteed approval on my home loan that I’ll be taking out in my old branch. My fiancé has a great new job, and I have two part time jobs that pay better than my bank job did. So there won’t be any financial hardship on the bank’s side. I’d also like to be let go early on my two week notification with full pay for this month.”
Mr. McDonnaly tapped his fingers contemplatively for a moment as he was thinking.
“You seem to have thought this out pretty well.” he admitted grudgingly. “I’ll have to discuss this with the others in a meeting, but we’ll get back to you soon.” he said.
“Well, I’m off this afternoon to talk to Mr. Riley about the home loan. I may not need the extra help, but…” I said with a shrug of my shoulders. “I’ll be going back to work tomorrow if you want to talk with me,” I said as I reached out and shook his hand.
“Will you please leave the recorder with me so I can play it for the other VPs?” he asked with an outstretched hand. I smiled politely then took out a lone tape in its mini case and handed it to him.
“I made a copy for you.” I said.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, you seemed to have thought of everything else.” the man said with grudging admiration. .
The drive from Orlando to DeLand was familiar and strangely comforting. Besides visiting Mr. Riley and my old branch, I figured I’d take mom for dinner. I called Austin and asked him if he was available for dinner in New Smyrna Beach. He agreed readily saying he’d find somewhere to stow Collin. I pulled into the bank that had been my home for four years. I strutted inside dressed in my best suit wearing my Raybans.
“Well, well, well, if it ain’t MISTER Donald Trump,” Marika scoffed as Ashlyn and James looked on uncomprehending as to who I was until I took my glasses off. As they began making cat calls and Marika was busy trying to give me attitude, I noticed Ian sitting at a loan officer’s desk.
“So, Ian?” I asked, turning my back on the other’s in a playful slight. I knew Marika would understand it and I knew she’d somehow get me back.
Ian looked up questioningly and obviously surprised, “Uhhh, Yes? Oh Hi Alex, can I help you with something?”
I went over and sat down in the seat facing the desk that I noticed had his name on the name plate.
“Well, funny you should ask Ian. I want to find out about home loans…” As I was saying this I saw in the large glass windows behind Ian that Mr. Riley had left his office and walked up behind me.
“Hello Ma Puce.” he said putting his hands on my shoulder from behind. I rolled my eyes and thought to myself that I had to get Collin for his resurrection of that old nickname.
“Hi Ivan,” I said using his real first name and not his former position as my boss. I saw him get a big smile.
“Listen squirt, I’m still a boss and still your elder, lets show some respect huh?” I smiled back at him in the glass reflection.
“Cheers!” I said with an‘oh so cool’ wink that proved how much I’d been hanging out with Collin.
“So Alex, what’s up, and WHY are you here when you should be at work? That bitch didn’t can you did she?” Mr. Riley asked.
“Uhhh, not exactly…” I said smiling as I explained every detail of what I had done; how I had told Mr. McDonnaly that I was putting in my two week notice, I also told them about my new job, and Austin’s job. I said ‘them’ because it went from just Ian and Mr. Riley, to include Marika, Ashlyn, and James, while a pretty new girl named Cinda worked the window. I explained to them how I had told the uppity ups what a great work environment we had here, and how awful Mrs. Cleavlan was, and that I demanded they fire her. I then told them, especially Mr. Riley, that I wanted to apply for a home loan. When I began explaining to Ian what we were putting down and what Austin and I were going to be making,
He just smiled and looked up at Ivan.“So that’s gonna be an automatic ‘no’ huh?” he smiled, as I looked up surprised and was about to reiterate the facts assuming he was serious.
“No Alex, we’ll need to confirm everything, but that’s fine. And what a deal! I expect that you’ll be inviting all of us down,” Ivan said.
“Ohhhh, he better!” Marika said with a big grin. So I described the place and how cute it was having Austin say what he wanted to do here and there. Then as an after thought I said, “Ohhh, and when we move in there will be a house warming party, Austin will be a crazy man trying to cook and feed everyone and bouncing around trying to be a good host.”
“YOU ain’t marrying a man,” Marika said defiantly, “You’re marrying a damned Labrador retriever!”
I laughed as I thought about it, “I can’t wait to tell him that.”
So we talked a while longer and I finally heard my phone ringing. It was Austin saying he had just pulled into Volusia County. I told him I was still at the bank and he should meet me here and we could drive over together to take mom out for dinner. He said he’d like to pick his mom up to take out to dinner as well since we were taking my mom. I said “Sure”, and suggested we could invite Mrs. Tremere out with us too, since we hadn’t seen her much since we’d moved. So Austin laughed and said he’d pick up his Mom and Mrs. Tremere on his way through. Austin told me to wait at the bank, so we could drive to New Smyrna together to pick up my mom and go out eat.
An hour later it was almost 4:30 when I pulled into my Mom’s office at the Leaper Building which looked out peacefully over the inter-coastal water way. There was a huge old Oak in the front of the turn of the century building, the tree was draped in a thick carpet of Spanish moss and had the small resurrection ferns growing on it’s huge branches. I bounded up the stairs as my Mother began yelling that the building was supposed to be closed. I stepped around her office door and said, “Even for me?” She got up and came over to hug me with a brilliant smile. We hugged and I told her we were going to dinner but she’d have to drive since we numbered 5 adults. She laughed and said we could take the office’s minivan.
We went to Norwoods which was an upscale seafood restaurant near my mom’s work. As everyone knew everyone else there, it was an amicable meal filled with lots of laughter. We were half way through our appetizer when Mrs. Tremere said with a side ways glance at my mother.
“So have Alex or Austin told either of you yet about applying for a loan for the house that he and Austin found today?”
I hadn’t told any of them yet, and Austin apparently hadn’t told his mom yet either. I wondered for several seconds how she knew this already, but I remembered she and Mr. Riley were a couple so he must have called her when we left.
“Ok, ok, first of all we found the house yesterday.” I said to a table of enthralled faces. Austin and I took turns afterwards telling the story about the house and what we were going through trying to get it. After describing the place to the mothers and pseudo mothers, we suggested that my mom pick Mrs. Tremere and Mrs. Camble up on Friday and drive them down to our place and then Austin could pick them up and they could drive over to see the new place and I could meet them there. I then suggested afterwards that we could go to dinner and that they could come see my show since the bio-moms had never gotten to see a show a yet, well, aside from our Christmas show at Marika’s church Austin and I had agreed not to say anything about the court date later that week yet, we didn’t want to spoil the mood and get everyone worrying.
The next morning I got up as usual and got ready for work. Austin was still sleeping as he had very little to do that day except feed the dog. I got to work at the usual time and walked in to find the place all abuzz, I was curious for a moment as to what was going on when I recalled what I’d done the day before.
“So, where’s the bitch?” I asked an older teller named Wilma. I saw a panicked look on her face as I heard a noise behind me. “You fucking coward pissant faggot!” The hair on my neck stood up and I spun to see Mrs. Cleavlan standing there with her arms crossed and a satchel over her shoulder holding files and office crap. Two older men stood behind her. “After all your crap I put up with, THIS is how you thank me?”
Her self aggrandizing vitriol set me off, that and the knowledge that she wasn’t my boss any longer allotted me a certain amount of freedom. “Listen you loudmouth nasty cunt.” I said using the most inflammatory word I could think of. As I turned to face her head on. “What I did, was for the company, for the other employees here who were trapped under your post menopausal, tyrannical, bitchyness, and because it was my responsibility to slay the evil fucking she-dragon. Now take that finger out of my face or you’ll need a doctor with a crowbar to get it out of your ass!!!” I said. A moment later she dropped her finger but glared at me threateningly. I met her gaze with an unflinching valiance. At that, the two men standing behind her escorted her to the door.
“Ohhh, I was going to say that you missed the early show!” Wilma said a moment later, talking to me without turning her head as she smiled out the window at the customers sitting in their cars. “course, your show just now tells me you musta set the whole damn performance up.” She added with admiration.
“Show?” I inquired, but I was already smiling guessing what had happened.
“I don’t know who they were, but a bunch of officials came in and asked to see Mrs. Cleavlan in her office then they all went in and she came out all red faced a little later. It was a little after that when you showed up and she had cleaned out her office.”
Another Clerk named Montgomery added, “And before we opened, a well dressed man came out and said his name was Mr. Dresslen and we would have a new manager soon and until then, he would over see the bank.”
I was nodding and commenting on it when an older man who was well dressed and silver haired came out and asked if he could see me. I shrugged at Wilma and Montgomery and followed the man to the office Mrs. Cleavlan once had.
“Please be seated Mr. Johnson.” The older man said pointing to a leather chair facing his desk. I sat and looked up expectantly to the man.
“Should I ask what’s going on?” I asked innocently.
“Don’t be pedantic Mr. Johnson, you made the rules, she’s gone and I’m filling in until we decide who to move in.” the man said sitting down.
“Well, everyone here seems to be in a better mood already, so do I get to leave early or are you going to fire me or something?” I asked holding his gaze.
“Mr. Johnson, I have been instructed to tell you that this is your last day and your check will be ready next week for your severance pay, of two months pay and your remaining vacation days as cash,” the man whose name I hadn’t learned but assumed was Dresslen, said.
“And you are?” I asked urging him to fill in the name gap.
“Mr. Dresslen, I’m a regional manager with the company.” he said relaxing a bit.
“Ok, I only asked for the rest of this month as severance, why the generous bump?” I asked curiously.
“Mr. McDonally said to say ‘thank you. Although I can’t go into specifics, I can tell you gave us the means to correct a problem we’ve had for some time but had no way to remedy. I was also asked to try and retrieve the recording since you’ll have no further need for it as all your requests have been met.”
I smiled and handed him a cassette tape and told him it was the master copy, and there were no others.“So all my requests were met?” I asked thinking about the home loan and thinking I had to get Wednesday and Thursday off for the trial if I hadn’t been given the final day as I’d asked for.
“Yes and your loan was already heading towards approved before we tried to approve it. But um, would you please sign this contract agreeing not to take the bank to court since your conditions were all agreed to?”
I agreed after reading through the contract. I signed it and handed it back. I said I would finish out the day as I didn’t want to leave them empty handed and I wanted to wish everyone luck with the new manager. Although I didn’t brag about what I’d done, by noon I had risen to the rank of St. George the dragon slayer for most of the employees. I got many kudos, a lot of thanks, and an offer from this teller named Clark for a night that would make my ‘knees weak’.
“Well thanks Clark, but I think my fiancée’ might object…” He smiled and reasoned “Well, can’t fault me for offering.” He laughed then asked, “So what’s her name anyways?”
I grinned up at him, he was a cute enough guy, “Austin.” I said with a smirk. I left on the first high I’d had since starting at that branch. Austin looked shocked to see me when I walked in with a smile.
“Do you know how long it’s been since you left work and came home with a smile?” he asked as he bent over to kiss me.
“Ummmm, is this a trick question?” I asked throwing my arms around his neck and pulling him back for an extra long kiss.
He lightly placed a hand on my lower back while kissing me deeply, he was mumbling something as we kissed; it was a joke, he was letting me know I hadn’t given him time to answer. We were still kissing when Collin walked in and chuckled as I began lifting my leg up to Austin’s waist.
“Roit, you two horny monkeys are celibate! Rooiiit!” he said sarcastically in his gorgeous accent.
So I looked up at Austin a moment and said, “Trust me. He will not survive the honeymoon!!!” I saw Austin’s reflection in the glass window as he pantomimed a “help” cry. “Ahhhh, the poor baseball star needs help cause his horney boyfriend is gunna jump his bones.” I said turning on him.
“Jeeeeze, it’s not like I didn’t just screw you into next month this past weekend.” Austin said with a roll of his eyes and a scowl.
“Face it Austin,” Collin said in his rich accent that made Austin’s name sound even more sexy and dirty than it normally did. “That little whore monkey will never have enough sex to satisfy him.”
“Well boys, I have a date tonight, so I’ll be leaving you to your own devices for the evening?” Collin said grabbing his briefcase. I immediately tried to ask Collin who, what, and where, about his date, but he just smiled and patted my head silently.
“Forget it Alex, I already tried dragging the info out, he only said since we were off limits and Julie had been forbidden to him, he needed to get out.” Austin said putting an arm around me.
“You mean tonight is just going to be YOU and ME?” I said turning into Austin and meeting his burning eyes and sweet mischievous smile hidden in an endless sea of dimples.
“That’s what I’m saying” Austin said lifting me easily as I leaped up to kiss him.
“Ok, you boys be good, and remember, it’s still three weeks until the wedding. And I will be here early tomorrow to accompany you to court- please dress up…” Collin said as he was leaving. We both waved at him but never stopped kissing. After about 20 minutes of kissing and caressing, I got down and took Austin’s hand and led him to the kitchen.
“So, we going out to eat or you wanna whip up some masterpiece for us?” I asked Austin with a kiss to his chest.
“Up to you ‘Ma puce pénible’” Austin said kissing the top of my head.
“I asked you first, besides, if we stay, you have to cook.” I said before adding, “And I’m NOT a mean little Flea!!!”
“Yeah, like hell you ain’t! So what do you want?” Austin asked me, and before I could answer he said, “Besides Little Saigon. I’ve eaten there so much lately, I feel like I work there. I can’t tell if I’m Asian or American.”
“Really??? Can you make me some summer rolls and peanut sauce?” I asked eagerly to his scowl. “And you look American to me.” I thought a minute then offered, “How about Greek?” I said trying to think of something a little different.
“Ok, you get changed out of your work cloths and I’ll put on some shoes.” Austin said kissing my head and pushing me towards our room. I switched clothes donning a red and white striped Izod and a pair of denim cargo shorts. Austin stood looking resplendent in his teal shirt and jeans, his red A&F hat spun around backwards and his Oakley’s already on.
“Ready, Babe?” He asked spinning his keys on his finger. I smiled at him, at the whole picture he was making.
“Yeah, I’m all yours.” I said batting my eyes at him playfully. He smirked and guided me outside asking me if I’d remembered to bring my testing stuff and insulin.
“Yup…” So we went and ate Greek in an upscale dining room. Though, Austin left the hat in the jeep.
I told Austin all about work that day, and he told me how proud he was. I then told about the extra money coming in. So we’ve got about three weeks until the big day, you ready?” he asked me as he plopped a bit of his eggplant in his mouth.
“Yeah, but we gotta talk about a few things before then.” I said at his questioning face.
“Like?” he asked.
“Like, we’ve never talked about your health and what we’d do if your last test comes back positive.” I said.
His smile fell and he nodded his head.
“Yeah?” he asked his fear echoing in his crest fallen voice.
“And, well… It’s not what you’re thinking. I mean, I’m not planning on leaving or anything.” I said trying to sound upbeat.
He looked up at me, “Yeah?”
“Yeah!” I responded putting my small hand over his much large one. “But, I want you to promise me something…” I said holding his gaze when he looked up.
“Yeah, sure what?” Austin asked.
“Well, if you come out all clean and healthy, we’re planning to do without condoms right?” He looked apprehensive.
“Well, we’d talked about it.” he began.
“Yeah hon, I want to as well, but… you have to make me a promise.” I said taking a breath.
“Alex, baby, I’m not gunna cheat on you.” He began pleading. I closed my eyes and held a hand up for him to stop.
“I know you don’t plan to. But I’m sure, most guys don’t set out to cheat either. Anyways, I want you to promise me, that IF you ever do cheat, “IF”…you won’t have to say anything to me about it, We don’t have to talk about until you’re ready, but promise me that IF you do have sex, you’ll wear a condom with that person and with me until we pass a few AIDS tests. Just wear one and I promise not to ask or make a big deal out of it. Ok?” Austin had his eyes closed.
“Baby, I’m not goin…” He began protesting.
“Austin, promise me ok?” I interjected.
“Ok, ok, IF it ever happens, I promise I’ll protect you.” he said.
“Thank you hon,” I replied.
“I’ll do the same for you IF it ever happens.” I said.
“IF that ever happens, you best make sure that dude moves far away before I find him.” Austin said puffing out his chest.
I just smiled and said, “And IF you ever do, you might as well shoot that person and save me the trouble of finding them and beating them up.” Austin smirked.
“You know, we never really had a bachelor party.” I said to break the ice.
“After the last attempt, I’da thought you’d of had way more than enough of bachelor parties.”
“Yeah” I said, “I was just thinking…” I said my thoughts drifting off.
“About what?” Austin asked as he took a drink.
“Well…” I began as I him-hawed, not knowing exactly how to say what I was thinking, especially after what I had just said.
“Yeah?” Austin asked.
“Well, I – I was kinda thinking lately…” I stuttered. Austin just raised an eyebrow and held my gaze.
“I was thinking, and let me finish my thought before you interrupt ok?” I asked.
Austin was giving me a screwed up scrunchy face.
“Ok, ok, I – I – uhh I don’t want you to take this the wrong way…”
Austin shook his head, “Well, this isn’t the way to address it than, cause I’m already skeptical.”
“I was just thinking, that if, and I mean only IF you’re ready and all, that IF you wanted, I’d ask Collin if…”
Before I finished Austin said quickly, “Look Babe, I know I’m new to the whole bottoming scene, but I think since we’re getting married that it should be your job if I ever decide to go there… IF.”
I just smiled at him. I was stunned, “I – I – I just wanted you to know, that before we’re married that if you wanted…”
Austin cut me off, “I don’t. He’s a great guy. But I’m YOUR guy. If anyone gets to …’play’ there…”
I sat back and smiled.“How come I’ve gotten such a perfect guy?”
Austin got a big smile and said, “Cause you fucken’ scared the competition away!”
“WHAT competition?” I asked looking up at him.
Austin smiled and put a finger on my nose, “Relax Tiger, even if anyone was stupid enough to challenge you over me, they’re forgetting the fact that you own me.” He said with an endearing smile. We kissed madly until he got frustrated and we landed up groping and beating each other off.
The next day we both woke up to the horrible scream of our alarm clock, “I’ll go get Tempest fed and start breakfast, you go get in the shower,” Austin said as he was more of a morning person than me. I was nervous about our court date later that morning. Our lawyer told us it wouldn’t be too bad, as the attorney for Nate was going to probably plea his case down.
We ate a very quiet breakfast, I think both of us were trying to psych ourselves up for the trial. Tempest, who now weighed 18 pounds was loving all over Austin as I finished dressing, “What is it with you and my cat?” I asked as I was fixing my tie. “Jealous much?” Austin asked as he playfully rubbed Tempests chin. “No, but if I ever find black hairs in you underwear, Thunder and I are going to leave you.” I teased, Austin came over and began nootching me under my chin before he leaned in to kiss me.
I had watched Law and Order, and old reruns of Perry Mason and Iron side, so I thought I had seen modern law offices and the insides of court houses. The district attorney we had on our side met us in a small office and led us to what looked like the class room of a community college, the judge had on robes, and the lawyers were all dressed in dark suits and ties, but the office furniture were folding chairs and tables. I had a mental picture of all those huge court rooms with big audiences.
When we walked in I found Jesse with a short hair cut wearing a nice suit and all fresh shaved, Dennis, Dave, and Gabe were there also, sitting behind Jesse. Gabe was easy to spot because he was still in a wheelchair and parked part way in the Isle.
“Why are Dave, Dennis and Gabe sitting on that side, I thought they were testifying against Jesse?” I whispered to Austin.
He looked at me and shrugged, “maybe they plan to surprise him?” he offered. My skepticism was palpable.