December 10, 1985
“Notre Dame,” I said to the cabbie, just to get him on his way without having to give him my address. I needed to think. Was Neil dead? Did I kill him? Fuck. I tried to feel bad, to feel guilty, but it wasn't working. Good fucking riddance.
They were after me? There were guys out there planning to kidnap me. I forced my mind to think, to focus. The Luxembourg. Neil was meeting his guy there. I had to go there, to see if I could spot the other guy. Otherwise I'd have no idea who was involved.
“Luxembourg,” I said to the driver.
“But you said Notre Dame,” he said, pointing at the cathedral.
“I changed my mind. It's not your fault,” I said soothingly. He grumbled and whipped down a side street.
He dropped me off at the Luxembourg, and I tried to remember where Neil said he would meet this guy. I wandered intuitively, staying out of sight. I was about to give up hope when I saw a guy over by a park bench near a fountain. He looked familiar. I glanced over, making sure he couldn't see me, while I studied him. It was that guy Neil had been rubbing up against at the party in Princeton. I looked at him, almost laughing. No way could he alone have nabbed me. This made me wonder if there were more of them. Were these people amateurs, or not?
I walked away from the guy, making sure to stay out of sight. No use letting him see me. What the fuck was I going to do now? Shit. I mean, I had people wanting to kidnap me, I'd maybe killed their psycho leader, and I’d snuck in and listened to my boyfriend fuck his ex-boyfriend. But could I tell him I did that? I grabbed a cab and headed home. They may be there, they may not be, but I needed to get home. I'd just have to be careful. I hailed a cab to get back to the Ile as fast as possible .
Security. That's the first thing. Security for all of us. The cab pulled up to our building. I paid the cabbie and, looking around carefully, I dashed in.
I headed up to the concierge. “Was anyone looking for me?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “No one has been here.” I nodded. I guess it makes sense that they wouldn't just stroll in through the front door.
“If anyone else comes by for me, do not let them up.” I told him that I wanted to get my locks changed so he got out his phone book and called a guy he knew, who'd get it done quickly. Another big tip for this deserving guy.
About half an hour after I got home the locksmith showed up and changed the locks. I knew I was getting paranoid when I let him talk me into putting an additional bolt lock on both doors. It only took him an hour to do it. I kind of liked having him there, someone to protect me. Then I suddenly felt like a total pussy. The only member of Neil's posse I'd seen so far was a douche bag. I flopped down on the couch, pissed at the whole situation. I felt an irrational rage growing. Rage at Robbie for fucking Neil, rage at Neil, rage at that asshole friend of his. Fucking rage.
There was a knock at the door. There was no announcement by the concierge, which meant it should be someone who belonged here. I looked through the security glass in the door and found Mouse.
I opened the door and we just stood there staring at each other, our eyes on fire. I knew that feeling and so did he. The same feeling I'd had when Billy died. I grabbed his shirt and pulled him in, slamming and locking the door. I silently took him to my room and ripped off his clothes, then mine. He stared at me, baring his teeth like a growling dog. I pushed him back onto his back and grabbed a condom and lube, then drove into him. He drove his ass back into me, just as hard, and we fucked each other with an energy and anger I'd never experienced before.
“You're gonna make me cum you fucking asshole!” he shouted at me.
“Take it you motherfucker,” I yelled back and started exploding into the condom. Rope after rope of his cum flew across his chest, almost bathing his body. When I was done I wasn't tired like normal. But I was calmer, more centered. I smiled at him, and he smiled back.
“Come on Mouse, let's take a shower,” I said, and led him into the water. I gently washed his body, his short thin body. “Lots of shit has been going on around here man. I was really about to lose it. Thanks for helping me. Just like after Billy, you saved my soul.” He smiled up at me.
“And you saved mine.” We dried off, waiting until we were dressed to resume our conversation.
“So what brings you here?” I asked.
“I wanted to make things right between us,” he said. “And then I want to try and make things right with JP.”
“Things weren't wrong between us Mouse. Besides, JP made Robbie and me promise to watch out for you, to welcome you if you came back.”
“He said that?” I saw a tear in his eye, but he controlled it. “He would. What a fool I was! I can't believe I let him get away. I can't believe I pushed him away.”
“Why? Why did you do it?”
“This fucking disease. It played with my mind. One minute I want friends and family around me, the next I want to be alone, to be self-destructive.”
“So where did you go? What did you do?”
He smiled, uneasily. “I've been staying at a hotel. And I've been fucked by half of Paris. With a condom,” he added. “None of them cleared my, uh, head like you just did.”
I smiled and blushed. “It's probably not cool to fuck my father's boyfriend.”
“I think he'll forgive us.”
“We're going back to the States soon. Come with us.” I offered.
“If JP doesn't mind me flying with you.”
“I think he'll be OK with it. Now you need to get your stuff and move back into your room.”
“I don't want to impose,” he said.
“Impose? Wait until you see the young stud I got for Marcel. You'll spend your time looking through the keyhole into their room.” He laughed, and I laughed with him. I felt better, but some of the rage was still there.
I went to JP's study and called Escorial. It was early there; JP was still sound asleep. “Hello,” I heard him say.
“Dad. It's me. I need your help.”
“What's the problem?” He sounded tired and mildly irritated.
“Neil is in Paris. I overheard him plotting to have me kidnapped.”
“What is he doing in Paris?”
I sighed. “He's here to blackmail Robbie. He's using my safety as bait to try and get money from him.”
“Well, we will remove the safety issue from the equation. Get some security. Call these people,” he said, giving me a name. “They helped me out with Armand's father.”
I jotted down the info. “I'll call as soon as we hang up.”
“I'll be there as soon as I can.”
“Thanks Dad. Sorry to put you out like this.”
“Don't worry about me, just be careful. Now call that number.”
Mouse was getting his shit, God knows where Robbie was, Marcel was at school, Lou was presumably at school too...I felt like everyone I loved was scattered out on the streets, very dangerous streets. I called the security company. They told me that we should have a guard on site. Along with a long, annoying sales pitch. I finally cut the guy off so I could agree with him. Great. Some dorky guard, hanging around all the time.
I heard a knock on the door, and since there was no phone call I looked before opening the door. I had barely released the latch and Robbie burst in, so panicked he looked almost insane. “You changed the locks? You throwing me out?” he asked.
“Nope. Here's your key,” I said, handing it to him. “I just wanted the place to be more secure.” He looked at me funny.
“Are you OK? Did someone try to hurt you?” He was literally beside himself.
“I’m fine. Why don't you tell me why you're so upset?” I wasn't sure if I was pissed at him or not. I mean, he fucked Neil, but he didn't let Neil fist him. And he did it to protect me. I knew now why he was upset. Why he'd been such a dick. Neil was driving him crazy, had probably been annoying as hell even before he'd really put the screws to him.
“If I tell you, you'll just think I'm crazy. You won't believe me; you'll just get pissed off. You'll hate me.” He really needed to get a grip.
“No, I won't.” I said it so definitively I think I surprised him. Or maybe it was the sincerity, sincerity that came from already knowing what happened.
“Neil is in town. He's been trying to blackmail me for money, threatening to have you kidnapped and tortured. He claims to have a whole gang. So I'm freaking out, trying to figure out who they are, trying to figure out if he's a threat or just full of shit, and where I'm going to get $75,000 to get him to go away.” He didn't mention the fuck.
“So you saw him?” I kept my face devoid of expression. He nodded. “And what happened?”
“He wanted to, you know, fist me.” He blushed and I couldn't help moving closer to him, putting my arm around his shoulder. He looked at me to thank me with his eyes for the gesture. “I didn't let him. I didn't even want to. I mean, I think about it once in a while, but if I do it again, it's going to be with you. If you still love me.”
“I love you. Go on.”
“He told me that he wanted me to fuck him and give him $50,000 tomorrow.” He gulped. “So I fucked him. I'm sorry Brad. I didn't want to. I mean that. I mean, I don't see why you would believe me. I'm telling this story and I don't believe me. And then when we were done I heard a door slam. Some guy had snuck in and took pictures of us. Then Neil jacked the price up to $75,000 and threatened to show the pictures to you.”
I looked at him, wondering if he would have told me about it if there weren’t the threat of the pictures turning up. “I know you. I know when you're telling the truth. You are.” I told him. He got a big grin and gave me a huge hug. Just clinging to me. I felt like a total fraud. I stroked his back.
“I'm so sorry Brad; I should have told you right away when he got here. He was driving me fucking crazy, calling me, threatening me, and showing up at the studio. He took some pictures of you around the city to show me they could get to you.” He just collapsed into me. He was exhausted. This had really taken its toll on him.
I gulped. “I was there.”
“What!?” He stared at me, confused. “You were where?”
“In the apartment when you fucked Neil. I heard the whole thing.”
“You were following me?” he demanded.
“Yeah. I was. You were acting all weird, and you wouldn't even stay around to talk to me. That really pissed me off. I saw you strolling down the street and I followed you.”
I could tell it pissed him off that I'd followed him, but he had no grounds to give me shit about it. He sighed and nodded. “No wonder you believed me.”
“I would have believed you anyway. I told you. I can tell when you're lying. And telling the truth.” That seemed to bother him a lot, that I could read him when he was trying to pull one over on me. Good. “I fucked up today.”
“What did you do?” he demanded. I stared at him and raised my eyebrow, silently reminding him that he'd fucked Neil. Just as I was about to tell him about Mouse the doorbell rang. He got this really pissed off look that made me laugh. “I'll be back.”
The visitor displayed an ID from the security company. I opened the door and found myself face to face with The Hulk. “I am Claude, from the security service,” the hulk said. I stared at this guy's massive muscles. Shit. It was hard to get beyond them to figure out if he was cute or not.
“I am Brad Schluter, and this is Robbie Hayes. We both live here.”
I turned to Robbie. “I hired Claude to provide some security for us. I need to fill him in on whom to watch out for, and who's safe.”
I handed Claude a list of the five of us who would be around. “Marcel and Lou won't be home until later, but Mouse should be back any minute.”
“Mouse? Mouse is back?” Robbie asked. I looked at him and nodded, and a thought flashed between us. He looked at me sadly. He knew.
“Yeah. Let me tell you about it, OK?” He turned and headed to the bedroom.
“Claude, give me a few minutes, OK? Make yourself comfortable.”
“Certainly,” he said, smiling at me knowingly. I felt a slight blush pass over my face.
“So you fucked Mouse?” Robbie asked as soon as I came in the room. “Brad, he's fucking HIV positive.”
“I used a condom. You telling me that Neil's pure as the driven snow?” I shot back. I wasn't going to take any shit from him about this. I softened. “Remember that time that I fucked him after Billy died. It was like that. He was really pissed off and so was I. It happened, it's over, it's not happening again.”
I could tell he was confused, that he was working all of this through his mind as a computer would process data. He sighed. Time for the output. “We both fucked up. Let's move beyond it.” I hugged him.
“Good idea. Have I told you that I love you today?” I asked.
He smiled. “Later you can show me instead of telling me.” He saw my concern. “What else?”
“Well,” I gulped. “I got in a fight with Neil.”
“Did you hurt him?” he asked. It was almost funny that he didn't ask if Neil hurt me. He was such a pussy.
“I'm not sure.” He stared at me. “He opened the closet door. That's where I was hiding. He saw me and I pushed him back into the bathroom. He hit his head on the toilet. He stood up and tried to take a swing at me, but I jacked him pretty hard first. Knocked him into the wall. I'm not sure that he was conscious when I left.” I didn't tell him about turning on the water.
“Good. I'm glad you did. I fucking hate that guy,” he said. I tried not to smile. Of course, if Neil was dead, he may feel differently about it.
“Let's go get to know Claude, wait for everyone else to get home, and then go to bed early.” He kissed me and led me out to the family room where we updated Claude on whom to look out for.
It was kind of funny. When we'd first finished talking, I was still pissed off, irritated, and so was he. But then Mouse returned with his things and Marcel and Lou came home and played with Claude's muscles. We had dinner and had a really great time. I kept looking at Robbie, and he'd look back at me, giving me a knowing grin, a grin that said it was time to go fuck.
Finally I grabbed his hand and dragged him away, off to the bedroom and locked the door. We both grinned, taking off our clothes, and heading to the bed. I grabbed a bottle of lube and lay on top of him, kissing him, moving against him, thrusting our bodies together. I moved my mouth down and inhaled him, his smell, his musk, working his dick, his balls, his taint, and then his ass.
I grabbed the lube and greased up his ass and penetrated with one finger, then two. He relaxed and moaned, lying back, surrendering himself to me, trusting me, giving me complete access to his body. I worked the third finger in and moved in gently to stroke his prostate.
“Oh God, I love it when you do that!” he cried. “Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Fuck yeah.” He was almost yelling, making me snicker. The boys were going to hear him. I refocused on his ass, stroking, probing, massaging his prostate while he just went fucking nuts. I put my head on his stomach, kissing his abdomen and feeling him tense his muscles as he rocked and writhed into my fingers. “Fuck Brad, you're gonna make me cum. You're gonna make me cum so hard baby,” he screamed, and then he started shooting.
I guess he hadn't been too into Neil, because he sure shot a big fucking load. I moved aside and just watched his dick blast wad after wad of cum across his body. He was panting so hard. “Fuck me now,” he said.
“Now?” I asked. He had just blown his load.
“NOW! Fuck me!” I pulled my fingers out and slipped on a condom, driving into him. “Yeah, that feels so good, so good,” he purred. I didn't know if he was acting or not, I didn't care. And I didn't last long. The sight of him lying there, grabbing his ankles, all covered with his own cum, was enough to send me over the edge and I filled the condom in his ass.
I stopped panting and looked down at him. He grinned. “What?” I asked.
“I love being with you,” he said.
“I love being with you too.” I responded.
December 12, 1985
I sat down at the kitchen table with an idiotic grin on my face. I knew why and so did Mouse. I had just finished an amazing night, a sex marathon. I was tired and completely invigorated.
“Someone got laid last night,” Mouse teased.
“I sure fucking did. Damn.” He laughed at me.
“Morning,” said Robbie when he came in, grinning at me, then trying to compose himself again.
Mouse started cracking up. “You two look like two love struck teenagers,” he said.
“Close. I just fell in love with this guy all over again,” I said to him. Robbie leaned in and kissed me to say he loved me too.
We had just moved into the family room when I heard the doorknob jiggling. I looked at the two of them with a question on my lips, wondering silently who was there. I followed Claude to the door and opened it, finding myself face to face with JP and Stef. I felt my face break into a huge grin. I hugged Stef first, a nice warm hug, and then JP, a long long hug, the kind we had where we exchanged energy. Only this time he strengthened me.
As Claude returned to his usual perch in the side room, where he would watch the door, I led JP into the family room. “I have a surprise for you.” He and Mouse saw each other at the same time. I saw JP stiffen, his emotional shields rising to full force. Stef and I looked at each other knowingly, while Robbie put his arm around me protectively and lovingly.
Mouse looked at JP, his eyes doing the talking, telling JP that he'd fucked up, telling him that he loved him, and begging JP to forgive him. Mouse walked around the couch and up to JP, standing right in front of him. He put his arms on JP's shoulders, and then linked his hands behind JP's neck.
“I'm sorry. I really am. I let this disease rot my mind and cloud out how much I love you.”
“You hurt me really badly,” JP said candidly. Stef raised his eyebrow at that.
“I know. I know I did. You offered me a second chance before. I turned you down. Give me that chance again. Give me that chance and I'll make you happy for as long as I can.” I watched JP's shields shatter, layer by layer, and then his arms were around Mouse, and their lips met in a beautiful kiss. Stef had tears in his eyes, while I rolled mine at him, expressing disdain for this sentimentality. Even though I had tears in my eyes too. JP took Mouse's hand and led him back to their bedroom.
“Well, we won't see them for a while,” Stef said. “And how are you doing?” he asked Robbie.
“I want to get the fuck out of here. I want to go home.” I just stared at him.
“You don't want to stay?” I was really surprised, since we'd been arguing about this.
“No. I've got a bunch of projects to turn in, and then I'm done. It's time to go home.” I saw Stefan cringe slightly, but he was otherwise composed. Why did that bother him? Christ, sometimes all of these people and their issues just got old.
“Why don't you get it done, and then head back here and we'll see when we can leave?” I said. “Take Claude with you.” He gave me a dirty look while I stared at him firmly. He finally shrugged, a French gesture that we'd all adopted, and headed to campus with Claude, his portfolio case under his arm.
After he was gone I turned to Stefan. “What's on your mind?”
“What makes you think something is on my mind?” he asked. I looked at him, ignoring what he said, waiting for him to get serious. “I want you to consider moving to LA.”
“LA? Malibu? Why?” I asked.
“I want you to work with me. I want you to be my apprentice, to learn about my business so you can take over some day.”
“Wow,” I said. I had thought about working for one of Stef's companies, but I was thinking more about his Venture Capital colossus. And that was based in Los Altos, in the Bay Area. “I never thought about that. I mean, I figured that if you let me work for you, you'd want me to wander around and work in the ranks.”
“If I let you?” he asked. “You are kidding, surely?” I smiled at him.
“Thanks Stef. That's an amazing offer, and I know it would be fun. Let me talk to Robbie about it, OK?”
He smiled. I guess he thought I'd say no. I just had to see if I could talk Robbie into it. He was going to school at Berkeley. Would he be willing to give that up? “Consider it,” he said.
I changed the subject and told Stef about the whole encounter with Neil. “I don't know if he was conscious when I left Stef. What if I killed him?”
“You do not know that you did. You must relax, be calm. And even if you did, they would have to prove it. You must keep your mouth shut, and your face impassive.”
“I can do that. I feel, well, when I think about him being dead, I'm not sad. And when I think that I may have killed him, I don't feel guilty. But when I step back and think about him not as Neil, but as a human, it makes me want to puke.”
“We do not know if he is alive or not. Has there been anything on the news?”
“I haven't checked,” I said. I headed over and flipped the television on, scrambling to find the news. It wasn't on for another ten minutes, so we kicked back and just watched the end of some idiotic French talk show.
I was kind of ignoring it until I saw Neil's picture on the screen. “An American visiting Paris was found dead in the bathtub of the flat he had rented in the Latin Quarter. The cause of death was unknown, but drowning was apparent and foul play is suspected. Police are trying to determine if the death was murder or suicide. The man, a Mr. Neil Gardner, was seen with many different men in the city, some of whom police believe to be his lovers.”
“Well, one question is answered.”
“They will come looking for me,” I said, sounding panicked. I calmed myself immediately.
“How will they know it was you? Only you and I know it was probably you.”
“That's true, unless someone saw me leaving his apartment. God, Stef. I killed a guy. I murdered someone. Robbie will know it was me. What is he going to say?”
“I think that you are worrying before you need to, but I think it will not be a bad idea for us to have a lawyer available just in case,” he said. “You know who we should consult?” I nodded, and he went off to get JP out of bed with Mouse.
Now that he was gone, I was free to think, free to really contemplate what I had done. I felt the tears flowing down my face. Not tears of guilt or sadness, but tears of fear. Fear of what Robbie would say when he found out. Fear that he wouldn't love me anymore. Fear that he would hate me.
“What's wrong?” I heard Robbie's voice, as he sat next to me. I had been so involved with my thoughts, I hadn’t heard him return.
I just shook my head, trying to brace myself for the news I had to give him. “Neil is dead. It was on the news. They will be looking for his killer.”
He stared at me, with pretty much every emotion flowing across his face. “What are you crying for? You hated him. Pretty fucking hypocritical.” He was pissed, really pissed.
I stood up and looked down at him. “I'm not crying for Neil, I'm crying for us. I knew when you found out he was dead, that I killed him, you would hate me. Losing you is worse than going to jail.” He just stared up at me, tortured and confused. I headed to our bedroom, assuming he still wanted to sleep with me, and collapsed on the bed, totally drained.
I felt a hand on my back, a hand that made me jump. Once again I hadn't heard him come in. “He pushed both of us to the breaking point, you just broke first. I don't hate you.”
I pulled him onto the bed and lay on his chest, refusing to look at him, afraid that his eyes would tell me that was a lie. I just lay there until I fell asleep.
There was someone knocking loudly on the door. “Brad, open the door,” JP said. I stared at Robbie as he woke up too and jumped up and got the door.
“I'm sorry Dad, I was asleep. What is it?”
“The police are here. They want to speak to Robbie,” he said.
“Yes,” he snapped. “Don't keep them waiting.” Robbie swallowed and headed out to the family room.
“You are Robert Hayes?” One of the police officers asked.
“I am,” he said.
“I would like to talk to you about the death of Mr. Neil Gardner. Do you know him?” he asked.
“I do,” Robbie said.
“Is it true that you and he have an extensive romantic history?” he asked.
“We did,” Robbie said.
“Is it not customary for Mr. Hayes to have a lawyer present while he is interrogated?” JP asked politely.
“You are familiar with French law?” the cop asked rudely.
“I am not. That is why I am asking,” JP said.
He grinned, an evil grin. Then turned to Robbie. “Robert Hayes, I am placing you under arrest for the murder of Neil Gardner,” he said. He pulled out a pair of handcuffs and turned Robbie around, putting them on each wrist.
“Robbie,” JP said. “Say nothing. Nothing. Do you hear me?” Robbie nodded. “Your lawyer will be with you shortly. I am certain, monsieur, that you and I will meet again soon.” The cop stared at him weirdly, and then he and his partner led Robbie away. The look on Robbie's face as he looked at me was strong and firm. He mouthed the words “I love you” to me, and then he was gone. I turned to find JP but he was already gone, furiously talking on the phone.
“Stef, I have to confess that I did it,” I said to him. “I can't let Robbie take the fall for me.”
“You must be patient. See how this evolves.” But he looked worried. Would they be so focused on looking out for me that they'd be willing to sacrifice Robbie? Would I let them? No fucking way. No fucking way. I couldn't live with myself if he were in jail for a crime I committed.