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Life is just a bowl of rotten lemons for that boy! Debs is in bed, having gotten a headache from the bitching call she took this morning. I step out the door and close it quietly, then look up at someone clearing their throat. “How you doing, Jools? How’s business?”

“Fine, just fine. You?”

“Great. What do you think of the car? And how fine is fine?”

“Business is booming. And nice, very nice. Actually, this is what I wanted to talk to you about.” He looks concerned. “I have seen it before, but outside someone else’s place. Then I saw the guy this morning looking at it, and I think...

“Back up, what are you talking about? What place? What guy?”

“There was a guy who lived on Greenfield Boulevard but I’ve not seen him around for a while. But now he’s popped up here, and I…”

“Hold up, let me show you something.” I whip out my phone and show him a photo of Michael and Debs during a rare calm in the storms that he causes. “Is this him?

“Yeah, that’s him. Can you come and look at this?” He’s pointing at the front of the car. “I think he may have done that this morning.”

Sighing, I go to the front of the car and sure enough there is a huge scratch from side to side.

“Are you sure it is this guy?”

“Yep, made out he dropped something then walked off afterwards.”

“Thanks, Jools, I’ll sort that out with him.”

“No problem.” He smiles and starts to go about his business but I call him back. “What’s up?”

“Why was it bugging you? The car I mean?”

“Oh, not the car, the guy. I couldn’t understand why he just didn’t go in.”

“Go in where?” I frown.

“Britin. When you guys were last there, he just stood outside the front door.”

“He is a strange fellow.” I grouse. “Wait a sec, were you following him?”

“This morning? No. He lives three doors up from me, but opposite. Bennie is not a fan!”


“Benson. Every time he steps out of his door, he looks at the house like he wants to burn it down!”

“Well I won’t keep you...sorry, one more thing, when did you see him out the door at Britin?”

“Oh I didn’t, it was on the security footage.”

“How many sites do you look after now?”

“For Kinney? Four. Britin, The Boulevard, Babylon and Liberty Avenue. I got another three more purely from word of his mouth. What’s that expression for?”

“He never ceases to amaze me. I didn’t know about Liberty Avenue.” I clear my throat feeling so proud of him. “Right, let me go and speak to a brat about a scratch!”




That’s so much better! I was so outraged that the bank dared to question the authenticity of the check because of the smudged date! We have been patrons of theirs for many a year! Now that it has cleared, I can set in plans to begin my life anew, and the first thing is to engage an attorney. I know exactly how much he has and I intend to get my fair share!

I reach for my phone and run my fingers through my hair and wait for it to connect. “May I be put through to Edward Whitworth please? Yes, it is Nancy Peterson. Hello, Edward. Yes I am very well, yourself? Good to hear. I know it has been a while since we last spoke, but I have a need of your services, well, professional for now. We wouldn’t want to muddy any waters. I am going to divorce Ronald and...yes, finally. I have opened my eyes to the true Ronald. So may I book an appointment with you to start proceedings? Yes, I have a pen ready whenever you are...oh, Edward you are still as naughty as ever!”

Ten minutes later, I am hurrying to catch a cab. Well, since he’s not my attorney yet and I’m now a free agent; it would be foolish to waste an opportunity!



I double check my bag and heave a sigh of relief that Ben said I could stay with him for the run up to the weekend. Now that the whiner knows I live almost opposite him, he has taken to staring out the window and waving at me every fucking day!

Ben’s torso flashing on my phone has me smiling and putting him on speaker.


“Hey, what time you leaving?”

“In the next ten or so, want me to hold off?”

“No, just checking what time I should start dinner.”

“You’re cooking for me? Nice!”

“Reserve judgement until you taste it!” He chuckles, “Start it in 10 then? Oh, and on Friday afternoon how are we splitting the driving?”

“Yes in 10. What wine shall I bring? As for getting to my folks gaff, nobody is driving. Have booked mini buses for us each.”

“Why each? And red.”

“Independence, so we're not tied to each other.”

“Good thinking, though would live to be a fly on the wall in Brian and Justin’s bus.”

“Had anticipated that. Have booked drivers too. Thus avoiding rows and affording make-out sessions.”

“I like the way you think, this should be rewarded.”

“Leaving now!”



They certainly didn’t waste any time did they?! I look at what my store has become! A mockery, a travesty and a farce! All traces of me have been removed and replaced with this!

“I can’t wait for that to open! It’s just what LA needs.” A man next to me peers at the picture showing what it will look like.

“Rubbish!” I declare hotly. “They don’t need two places to eat! Liberty Avenue is losing its unique character and charm! This will go bust in days!”

He stares at me for a few seconds. “Bitter much?”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Well this is where you used to be, isn't it? Besides, this place...” He gestures at the picture. “...will be the perfect juxtaposition to the busyness that is LA.” He smiles as he looks at it again, before turning back to me. “Just because you failed here doesn't mean that they will. For instance, I should imagine that they wouldn’t close for two years the minute after they open. And then, even when you got back, you only opened sporadically. No wonder the other place took your customers.”

“What other place?!” I demand.

“Blue Moon Library Room. It’s near the theatre district.”

“Thank you very much for making my already crappy week even crappier!” I snap at him and storm back to my van.

“You’re welcome!” He shouts back. “Happy Asshole Day, oh Sainted One!”



I am agog, officially agog! This place is incredible! It looks like a...upscale library! I walk around just incredulous. From the outside it just looks like a bookstore, but then you come inside and downstairs and see this:

I head to the information desk to find out a bit more.

“Good afternoon sir, my name is Lemuel. How can I help you today?”

“Can you tell me about the set-up of this store?”

“Of course, but it’s a library and a members club. You can buy the books to take home and read at your leisure or read them here.”

“What’s the point of that?!” I scoff loudly.

“Well, being a member means that you can use all the amenities here, which…”

“And they are?!”

“As I was about to say, full access to the store, the movie library, the bar, restaurant, and, the piece de resistance, gold star membership to Babylon.”

“So this isn’t a comic store then?!”

“A comic...no, why would it be? Although we do have some graphic novels, but that’s for the younger end of the market. This is primarily focused on the more discerning clientele, who want a bit more bang for their…”


“I was going to say buck, but whatever gets you there sir.”

“So how much does all this discernment cost?”


“A month?!”

“Half yearly. It’s to…”

“Keep screaming queens like him out!” Someone mutters as they pass me and head upstairs.

“What’s up there?”

“The movie library, restaurant and bar. This is the library part. You would need to be a member to go up there.” He pauses. “Do you want to be a member, sir?”

“Can I have a membership pack and think about it?”

“Of course sir, here you go. You can also complete the membership form online, saves you coming back here.”

“Great thanks. Bye!” I take one more look at the place and I have to admit that being a member here would be a feather in my cap. Also, because it’s this side of LA...Liberty Avenue none of them will ever come here! Smirking, I head back to my van.


“Thank the gods for the screening process and the waitlist being six months long!” I breathe in relief as the haranguing harpy departs.



“Well, I want to see him NOW!” I bark at the twin of Lemuel who doesn’t even flinch.

“I am sure you do, Mr Novotny, but he’s in the middle of a very important client pitch and can’t be disturbed.”

“Then I will wait!” I seethe and head to the sofa. “Nothing new there, I am always waiting for Brian fucking Kinney!”

“As you wish. In the meantime, would you like an antacid?”

“What the fuck for?” I snap.

“Kindly do not swear at me. Maybe some water then? Anything to cool the fire that is raging within your core.”

“Nothing will put this fire out!”

“Then bank it down or I shall have you removed from the premises regardless of who you are to Mr Kinney.” He looks down at his desk and smirks. “He’s free now, I will just announce you.”

“I can announce myself!” I spit and stand up.

“Not if you want to get in that office you won’t!” He barks. “Now sit down and wait or your ass will be skimming down the road!”

“Samuel! Who on...” Ted comes to a stop when he sees me. “...I see. Understandable, what does he want?”

“Wants to see Mr K, came in frothing and waving.”

“JUSTIN!” Is suddenly shouted. “You have to get back to school! Stop that! I mean…what is the matter with you?! Seriously, I nee...need to...okay real quick!”

“Looks like his meeting has reconvened.” Ted laughs along with Samuel. “Can I help you at all, Mr Novotny?”

“You can explain this!” I throw the pack down on the table and they both approach.

“Everytime I see it, I feel so proud!” Samuel twitters and then glares at me. “What are you doing with this? You’re surely not…”

“Why should you be proud of anything?” I look him up and down with distaste...he stinks of twink!

“I designed the membership pack. You’re not thinking of joining are you?”

“I was, I’m not now!”

“Oh thank goodness!” He swipes at his forehead. “So close!”

“What is the meaning of this?!” I stab at the pack.

“Ah you’ve found out then?” Ted starts to smile. “Only took you two and a half years!”

“He opened in direct competition to me!” I splutter.

“Don't be fucking ridiculous! It’s not the same concept for a start! Besides, he opened and then kept it open! You opened, closed and then fucked off on a trip that you lied to get to go on!” Ted retorts.

“What shit are you talking about now?!” I bluster, but can feel my face start to go red.

“You told each of them the opposite, you told Brian that Debs paid for the ticket and told Debs that Brian invited you! Neither of which was true, does that ring a klaxon?!”

“Who told you that?! In his dotage, he is misremembering stuff now!” I yell.

“You sold several collectibles to get the money for the ticket. But coming back to Blue Moon...oh, I have just realised that’s the same as what he calls home. Wonder if it was a subconscious thing...anyway, this library of ours, what do you want to know?”

Ours? Who is ours?” I snipe.

“Brian, Emmett, Blake and I. What do you…”

“So as well as that stupid tearoom, you have this…” I stab at it again. “...this place!”

“This is doing very well, as will…” Ted begins only to be interrupted by laughter coming down the corridor.

“No! Go! I have to work and you the field trip to prepare for!”

“Just five more minutes. Promise to keep it PG!”

“Shutting the door now!” Is yelled before a door is shut hard and there's a few seconds of silence.

“I can’t believe you locked me out! I was only coming back for my phone!”


“Alright, I’m going!”

Ted’s phone rings and he smiles as he answers. “Yes, Bri, he’s still outside the door! Justin, come and sit down, I’ll get your phone. Okay, Bri, he’s coming down the corridor. Open the window before I come in...what do you mean why? You’ve been practising for that pitch for almost an hour!”


My good mood and horniness evaporate when I see Michael simmering in reception. “What is he doing here?” I ask Samuel who in turn rolls his eyes.

“No idea but he had this with him and was frothing about it belonging to Mr K et al.”

“Blue Moon Library Room? What’s this?” I look through the pack. “This looks gorgeous, where is it?”

“Oh, you mean you don’t know?” Michael smirks. “Thought partners shared everything?”

“You didn’t know either.” Samuel bats back. “And you were his best friend at the time it opened. And it has open since then, which is more than can be said for your former business.”

I give him a scornful look and Samuel a thumbs up before clearing my throat. “Even if you applied, you wouldn’t be allowed in.” I smirk. “Vetting process would stop you immediately. I, on the other hand, don't have that problem.”

“Nor do you have to fill out the membership form.” Ted tells me as he hands me my phone with a grin. “Samuel, call your brother and arrange for platinum gratis memberships for Justin Taylor, Benjamin Bruckner, Brandon Green and Benson Francis please?”

“With pleasure.”

“Now, Mr Novotny, is there anything else?” Ted asks as I make myself comfortable and send a text. Less than 10 seconds later a door opens.

“Ted! Reschedule the pitch or do it yourself, and Justin, come and finish what you started!”

“Will reschedule!” Ted calls back and then turns to an almost purple faced Michael. “You are complete opposites in every way, you’re dark to his bright, he’s smart to your dumb, etc etc and so forth!  Good afternoon. Reginald!”



“But this guy, the concierge and security guard heading towards us, is called Reginald. He is going to escort you to your minivan.” Ted is smiling that smile I have come to detest. “Make sure he goes.”

“Yes, Ted, no problem.”

“I can see myself out!”

“If only you would stay that way!” Ted snaps before walking away.

Five minutes later I am pounding the steering wheel with my fists. Taking calming breaths, I think back on my week so far; Carl threatened to have me arrested and my van impounded if I didn’t pay for the repair to his car, and now this! I wonder how much more he has hidden from me!



I turn back and look at the house that Sidney shares with his po-faced wife. He doesn’t seem to realise how much of that house is down to my efforts.

Well, I tried to be reasonable, but he would not negotiate. In fact, he was downright dismissive and found the entire conversation laughable! As for his wife, she said I am contemptible and a neurotic nincompoop! I’m not surprised that they don’t have children or that he is as cantankerous as he is sometimes, she is a gnarly natured old bat!

“Oh, Lindsay!” Sidney calls out to me, and I wait for him to catch up with me. “I hope you don’t try to take me to court for this. I have operated, sadly, within the full remit of the law. If it were my choice you wouldn’t have gotten what you did.”

“That is not helping me to change my mind!” I state haughtily.

“Whatever, but it is a bad idea, not just because you will lose, but as well as that you will have to move out of Pittsburgh at least as there won’t be a gallery in the city who will hire you, they’ve had a meeting.”

“You’ve been bad mouthing me?! I can sue you for reputational damage!”


“Sidney!” His wraith calls from the door. “Come back inside, we’ve wasted enough of our time with that! We've got to get ready for lunch with Ronald and Lynette.”

“You are dining with Daddy and my sister? Why?”

“That is our business, not yours. If you want to know the answer, ask them!” He clips out before one more filthy look at me is cast and he heads back into the house.

I hurry back to my car and place a call but it goes to voicemail. “Hi Lynette, it’s Lindsay, just found out you and Daddy are going to have lunch with Sidney and his wraith...I mean wife, today. I know I don’t have to tell you, but please don’t mention anything we discussed to them. What was said was in the strictest of confidences. Let’s catch up soon. Bye.” I sit back for a few seconds before I chuckle. “Sidney has connections my ass! As for his; they’ve had a meeting snipe, I can get a job anywhere I want, my skills and artistic eye are exemplary!”



“Alright, does everyone have everything? Equipment, warm clothing including a hat. I know that some people are precious about their hair but a head cold is not fun!” I smirk at Norman who has been pouting about having to mess up his hair with a hat that Brian insists that he wears! “Right, everyone been to the bathroom and the like? We will not be stopping until we get to the mountainside and going in prickly…” I try not to laugh as Norman and Maude head back inside, I look around the rest of the group. “Seriously, it’s at least an hour's drive.” Virtually everyone heads back and I studiously ignore a certain person’s smirking expression as I trot after them!


I am going to kill him! I shift slightly in my damp jeans and swallow down some water. As they all file off the coach, he makes sure he’s almost the last one off then leans down to whisper.

“The score is now 6-2.”

I watch him saunter off and try to work out how he does what he does to me!


Norman gives me a knowing wink as he watches Justin check the coach for the third time.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t camp out like we were going to.” Maude adjusts Norman’s hat and he smiles ruefully. “So we have to take three pictures of any part of the city from the mountain but at different times?”

“Yes. Should be fun.”

“Right, are we ready everyone?!” Justin calls out as he disembarks.

“Oh yes, Teach!” Alan, a new student, calls out.

“My name is Mr Taylor, and you will address me as such, Alan!”

“I’d rather undress you as such if you get my meaning!” He leers.

“Never going to happen!” Norman snarks at him. “Now shut up or walk back! Some of us are here to learn, not to try and play out their clichéd teacher and naughty schoolboy fantasies!”

“Thank you, Norman. And one more off colour remark out of you, Alan, and you will be removed from this class after you walk back. Understood?!”

“Yes, Mr Taylor.” He simpers and licks his lips.

“Alan is it?” I call out and he looks at me, then locks onto me with a smile. “Want me to toss you off?” Everyone goes quiet. “You know who I am, right, along with my reputation for being the consummate fuck as well as the consummate fucking asshole?” He nods. “So yeah, I could toss you off. You'd make one fuck of a splat from up there, and I would do it. I suggest you say sorry to Mr Taylor right now!” He goes bright red and mutters something. “Enunciate.” I take a step towards him. “Or I will tape your eyes open. Just think of being unable to close your eyes as...”

“Sorry, Mr Taylor!” He says louder.

“Is that a suitable response, Mr Taylor?”

“Huh? Oh yes, thank you, Brian. Right, so we go up this path.”

As I watch that gorgeous ass swish ahead of me, my phone beeps; late aftershock follow thru plus defending does not make the score 7-2!

Chapter End Notes:

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