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Author's Chapter Notes:

Coming up to the big one...







I was having a nice dream, where I was not being interrupted by the insistent ring of my mobile ah it’s stopped but now the door is fucking knocking!


                “Whoever this is had better have a body to bury!”


I rip open the door and am greeted by Blake who promptly goes bright red and turns around. 


                “Um sorry Brian, but Cynthia has been trying to get hold of you, but couldn’t so called Ted, uh Grunberg want to sign…”


                “Grunberg are you sure that’s what she said?”


He nods still not turning to look at me.


                “Ted is already on his way home to pack, she said she’s booked tickets for the 1915 flight and the meeting is at 0800 at their offices, she’s prepped the travel pack and wants to know where to pick you up from?   Ted will meet you at the airport at 1700.”


                “Thanks Blake, I’ll take it from here.”


                “You’re welcome.” 


He mumbles but before the door closes I hear him ask himself how Justin sits down afterwards, I resist the temptation to shout back “carefully” and snatch up my phone.  Fuck I have 10 missed calls from her.


                “Sorry Cyn, I was just so tired what with Justin.  Send the car to the Loft, did Murph check the boards, when did they call, how much is the deal, is legal on standby?”


She answers my rapid fire questions with her usual aplomb as I get dressed one handed in the sweats that I got from Faal, I hang up on her and find myself looking into Justin’s sleepy blue eyes.


                “Did I hear Grunberg?”  He mumbles and sits up rubbing his eyes and blinking slowly.


                “Yeah, thing is the meeting’s tomorrow and I have to fly tonight.”


                “Brian I said I am fine and I am now go get them Stud!”


I sigh heavily and sit on the bed giving him a soft kiss. 


                “I’ll be back tomorrow night okay?  Want to stay here or go back home?” 


I get my answer as he lies back down and hugs my pillow to his chest.


                “Safe flight, love you.”  He mumbles as he goes back to sleep.


                “Love you baby.”  I kiss his temple and wait till his breathing evens out.


When I get downstairs, Faal is already up and fixing a travel mug of coffee and hands me some juice.


                “Ted came to tell us what was going on.  The car’s waiting and, not that you need it, good luck and safe flight.”


                “Thanks.  I’ll be back tomorrow night.  So far Justin’s happy to stay here but he has moments of inappropriate stubbornness.”


                “We’ll handle him now get going.”




I shake my head as he runs to the car and head to the basement, where Blake, Deb, Emmett and Drew are either lounging by or using the pool, everyone else had gone earlier.


                “He gone?”  Blake asks.


                “Yeah.  Justin is still asleep, I’ll go check on him in an hour or so.”


                “Right who’s for brunch?”  Zee calls down.


Wrapping my arms round her, I nuzzle her neck and help her plate up brunch, fully loaded pork belly rolls and mimosas if wanted.


                “Shall we take these to the lounge?  I don’t know about you lot but I could do without moving a muscle today.  Wait, where are the boys?”  Zee asks stretching out on the sofa.


                “Went back with Brian.”  I reply.


She nods and gives a small smile and then yawns.


                “Honey why don’t you go back to bed?  We’ll clear up here when we’re done.”  Debs asks gently.


She lifts her head and nods at the suggestion.


                “Yeah, I think that’s a great…what’s that?” 


She heads to the armchair and reaching underneath it pulls out a watch, a very expensive watch.


                “Nice very nice.”  I whistle.  “Any inscription?”


She checks and shakes her head.


                “Oh check inside the back, sometimes it’s on there or an issue number.”  Drew suggests


                “It’s David’s.  Let me find out where they dropped him off last night.”  She heads to her phone.


                “Let us do that honey, go get some rest…don’t make me have to tuck you in!”


Debs takes her firmly by the arm and leads her up the stairs to the bedrooms.


I call the service and they dropped him off at his hotel so I leave a message for him to call me back.






I wake up with a jolt, covered in sweat and shaking.  I look round and spot the two empty cups of coffee next to the bed and David’s scarf and sigh with relief…it was all a dream, a nightmarish one but a dream nevertheless.




When he doesn’t answer I head to the bathroom but he’s not there.  I call his number but it rolls to voicemail.  My heart is still racing from the dream so I head down to the store and lock up properly and head back to have a shower maybe that will make me feel better.






I love these sheets, I want to get one for every room in the house.  I turn over just as Faal is walking back out.


                “I’m awake.”  I call out.


                “Ah, good, how are you feeling?”  He perches on the end of the bed.


                “Hungry but a lot better no fuzziness.”  I smile at him.


                “Good!  Then back in PJs and Brian said to call when you wake up.  Want the fire banked up tonight since you will be here?”  He raises an eyebrow in challenge.


I give a small chuckle and nod and then yawn.


                “Call Brian and maybe join Zee, she’s back in bed that way I don’t have to go to two rooms.”


He heads out and I pick up my phone.




                “Hey, you at the airport?”


                “On my way now.  Where are you?”


                “Still in bed, don’t worry I am not going anywhere until you get back okay I promise.”


                “You had better not or you will have to be punished…”


I groan and he chuckles.


                “Keep that and the fact I owe you two blow jobs in mind until I get home, okay?”






I pad to the bathroom and brush my teeth then touch the back of my head, it is quite tender but I think the swelling is going down.  Putting the PJs back on I head to their room, where Zee is sitting up in bed flicking through a magazine looking very bored.


                “By order of Deb.”  She grumps. 


I sit on the edge of the bed and Faal comes in with a tray with food and a steaming coffee for me and a large mug of red wine for her.


                “To sneak it passed Deb and to help you sleep.”  He winks at her and heads out.


                “He does realise she wouldn’t have been fooled right?”  I ask.


                “What do you think?”  She smiles.


I regret not putting my socks on so curl my feet up under me to keep them warm, she looks at me and sighs.


                “Justin, get in if you want.”


I beam at her and snuggle under the blankets and after a few minutes of quiet, I turn to her.


                “I was really scared.”  I whisper.


                “Because you hit your head again?”


                “Mmm, you know I still can’t remember much of my prom?  I’m afraid what little memory I do have will go away again.  Sometimes I have flashes that I think are from my prom but they’re fuzzy and I don’t want to ask Brian in case…”


                “It gets his hopes up?”


                “Yeah, is that selfish of me?”


                “I can see where you are coming from.  But I think he would prefer to have his hopes dashed than not know don’t you?  How did you feel when he didn’t tell you about the cancer?”


Slowly I brush away my tears, she proffers her mug with a smile and I take a big gulp.


                “Fucked off but that’s not the same…”


                “In a way it is, it’s a battle that he wanted to fight on his own because he didn’t want your pity, hold on, but once you found out you ripped him a new one and helped him fight back, let him do the same, let him fill in the blanks.”


We hear a sniffle at the door and Emmy Lou is standing there with tears running down his face.  Zee lifts the blanket next to me and he gets in wrapping his arms round me and I nod, I have to let Brian help.






I wake up to my phone ringing, reaching blindly for it I mumble my hello, but it is the ring of my voicemail, finally David has called me back.


                “Michael stop calling me.  As I explained earlier I don’t want to see you anymore.  I am having your number blocked.”


I stare at my phone as reality dawns it was not a dream.  Fuck!  Oh fuck!  I need to call Brian.


                “Kinnetic this is Bethany how may I direct your call?”


                “I need to speak to Brian!”




                “Bethany, this is urgent, put me through to him immediately!”


                “He’s not in the office…”


I put the phone down and dial his cell, it rolls to voicemail, so I keep trying for another 10 minutes.  He’s most likely looking after Boy Wonder.  I try Ted’s cell but that rolls too, so I call Kinnetic again.


                “Kinnetic this is Bethany how may I direct your call?”


                “I need to speak to Ted now!”


                “He’s also not in the office Mr Novotny, may I take a message?”


                “No I shall fucking find them myself, thanks for being oh so helpful!”  I snarl and hang up.


I grab my coat and head to Woody’s and they aren’t there.  I decide to wait to see if they will turn up and have a drink, after half an hour I head to Britin.






The insistent leaning on the bell only means one thing.


                “Lord have mercy, I do not have the patience for this man today!”


I take a deep breath and open the door.


                “Mr Novotny…”


He pushes past me and starts yelling for Brian.


                “Oh hell no you did not just do that!”  I bellow at him.


He spins round in surprise.




                “How dare you push me around like that, who the fuck do you think you are?”


                “I’m Brian’s best friend and you…”


                “Alice is there a problem?”   Vince, one of the security guards, is in the doorway.


                “Yes this person was just leaving!  Please escort him off the premises, before I have him charged with trespassing!”  I snarl.


                “I’m not leaving until…”


                “If Alice says you’re gone then you’re gone.  You can either walk or I will assist you to your car.”


He takes a good look at Vince and decides walking is a better option, once he’s through the gates, I tell them to make sure he’s not let in until Brian or Justin say so.   I know that I am most likely overstepping my bounds but I don’t give a fuck.


                “Alice, you okay?  Shall I get George?  Maybe you two should stay in the house tonight, I’m sure they won’t mind.”  Vince puts his arm round me and gives me a quick squeeze.


I nod and decide this is a good idea, well that and a very large glass of brandy. 




I can’t believe that bitch Alice had me thrown out of Britin, just wait until Brian hears about this, he will have her ass for that!  I am going to head to ma’s, I can’t believe this is happening to me.






I’m tired, it was good to get into the office for a couple of hours but I am tired.  I am looking forward to the weekend when it will just be the two of us, most likely Hunter and Matt will be at the loft, I think everyone could do with a weekend in their own homes. 


Before I went I checked up on Zee and she was tucked up fast asleep with Justin and Emmett.  Drew said he would send the service for him when he wakes up and took Blake and Deb with him. 


As I come in I notice a message on the machine.


                “Hi Faal, its David.  Thanks for the message, I had wondered where I had lost that.  Would it be possible for us to meet somewhere, not the diner, in the morning so I can collect it, as I fly out tomorrow afternoon?  My number is 503 619 7855, that’s 503 619 7855.”


                “Why not the diner?”


                “Neuken!  Jeez don’t do that!”  I yelp.


She tries and fails not to smile, she doesn’t often catch me out.




                “No you’re not you are keeping score!”


She nods and pulls me down for a consoling kiss.  Heading to the kitchen she waves the Barolo at me, I nod and grab the glasses.


                “Feeling better?  Where’s Emmett and Justin?”


                “Much, I was a little tightly wound I guess.  They’re in Justin’s room, Emmett took one look squealed, ran to his room to get his stuff and they’ve been glued to movies ever since, think we have an extra guest.  Oh and they’ve discovered the joys of Guinness ice cream floats.”


                “And who showed them that?”  I nuzzle her ear


                “Food Network I think.”


                “Ah I see, well speaking of food before we eat, I shall call David and arrange a meeting, want to come?”


                “Yeah, he might continue what he was saying over the weekend.”


I make the call and arrange to meet at 0900.






                “Lindz are you ever going to stop sulking about this?”


                “I am not sulking.  You didn’t hear how he talked to me Mel, I felt like I was being scolded!”


I grit my teeth and take a breath.


                “You most probably were because it has nothing to do with you.”


                “But it affects Gus!”


                “How, please explain to me how it affects Gus because I don’t…”


                “It’s his inheritance that he’s giving away!” 


                “What on earth are you talking about, that is nothing to them it’s a tax write off depending on the quarter.  Besides you know Gus is already provided for!”


My grip on my temper is beginning to loosen as she sits down angrily, glares at me and starts to argue some more.


                “No Lindz…now I am going to check on the kids.  I don’t want to talk about this anymore okay.”


                “You’re the one that brought it up!”


                “Because you are the one that is sulking, now grow up for fuck sake!”


I head upstairs Jenny has been FaceTiming with Hunter for the last half hour, as I pass her door I hear Hunter’s voice.


                “Don’t cry, please J.  Where’s my strong sister who stood up to him a lot calmer than I would’ve done if he spoke to me like that and the one that kicked our asses at boxing.  We’re all so proud of…uh J”


                “What?”  She sniffles


                “Your mom’s behind you.”


                “Jenny, what’s happened why are you crying?  Hunter you stay there!”


                “Dad and I had a row and he, he said something horrible and he’s going to treat me the way he’s treated Hunter I know it!”


She flings herself into my arms and starts sobbing.


                “Hunter what did he say?”


                “J he wouldn’t dare.  Um Mel I really think it would…okay mom glare…she was asking about him and the doctor.  Nothing bad but he got really pissy about it and told her to stop asking questions.  She felt embarrassed and starts shouting back and he said he wasn’t going to say that his life before her is none of her business but…” 


                “Sweetheart why didn’t you tell me?” 


                “Um can I go now?”  He asks


                “Yes, I will get her to call you when she’s calmer okay?  Gus!”


Gus comes in sighing.


                “I told her to tell you but she didn’t want to...”


I nod and let him go back to his room.


                “Jenny when things like this happen you have to tell me.”


                “I will from now on.  We think it’s because papa serviced, sorry served, the divorce papers.”


                “Right, young lady go get ready for bed and don’t worry about anything okay?”


She nods and heads to the bathroom, as I head back downstairs I put my head round Gus’s door.


                “So you want to tell me about how he’s been treating Hunter?”


By the time he’s finished I am fucked off and exhausted, luckily Lindz is asleep on the sofa so I don’t have to deal with her histrionics about this as well.  If she heard that my guess is she will use it as an excuse to go play mediator or whatever bullshit act she’s trying to pull these days.




I can’t believe that Brian and Ted are still not returning my calls.  I finally get to ma’s as traffic was a bitch and find them dozing on the sofa.


                “David stole my money!”  I cry out.


                “What?  What the fuck is going on?!”  Carl yells startled.


                “Didn’t you hear what I just said, David stole my money!”


                “What money and how did he steal it?”  Carl asks slowly coming round.


I sit down heavily and put my head in my hands. 


                “Let me get some coffee and you can start again without…”  Ma begins


                “You have to arrest him Carl!”  I snap.


                “Michael!  Calm down!  How did this happen?”  Carl barks.


                “Two years ago after we reconnected, I gave David…”


                “Wait you said stole just now.”


                “Ma don’t interrupt!”


                “Watch your mouth or take it to the police station, see how far it gets you!”  She snaps back


I stare at her furiously


                “As I was saying.  I gave David money to invest for me to provide a future for Jenny and I and he said he would but after we broke up this morning he said that he had spent it on himself and that I gave it to him and I can’t have it back!  That’s stealing!” 


                “How much are we talking here?”  Carl asks.




                “How much!  I didn’t think the store was doing that well!”  He comments


                “Well I got an injection of funds and…”


                “Wait, how did he know about the money in the first place?”  Ma asks.


                “Because I told him.”  I say slowly.


She scratches her head and sighs heavily.


                “Again with the mouth!”


I take a deep draught on my coffee and stop my eye roll.


                “Can we please go so that I can file a complaint and you can go and arrest him?”


                “No.”  Carl replies


                “What do you mean no?  He’s stolen $50K of my money!”


                “I mean no I am not going, I’m on homicide and this sounds like fraud.   You go and tell the fraud squad.  Before you go there, realise that it will be his word against yours, go there with all documentation about the investments he was going to make for you, like certificates and all emails between the two of you about them.  Also you need to go in there calmly, so I suggest a good night’s sleep and go tomorrow morning.”


                “A good night’s…”


                “Michael there is nothing you can do right now, the money is, to all intents and purposes, gone so what is one more day going to do?”


He gets up and takes me by the elbow and leads me to the door.






I can’t fucking believe it, they signed.  We have just got a $60 million contract!  Ted and I just look at each other, we knew the figure would be big but $60 million and it only took an hour!


                “Okay I am not quite sure what to say Bri…”


                “We need to call Cynthia and get her to move the flights to lunchtime but don’t say why, I want to see her face when we tell her.”


He nods and makes the call.






                “Wonder what’s keeping him?”


                “He’s got another 5 minutes…ah there he is.”  Zee soothes.


                “Faal, Zee thank you for keeping this for me.  Would you like a coffee or a tea?”


                “No we’re good thanks, here you go, but what made you take it off in the first place?”  I ask.


                “Kept catching on my PJs for which again thank you.”  He puts it on with a sigh of relief.


                “Faal says that this is your last day until the end of next week when you’re coming to see Justin’s perspective right?”


He nods and takes a sip of his coffee.


                “I can’t believe he’s still so young and so talented.  How is he by the way, I hope he got a lot of rest?” 


                “He’s most likely still coming down from his sugar high though.”  Zee snickers.


David frowns and looks between us.


                “He and Emmett discovered the joys of Guinness floats…almost virgin ones for him of course but still chockful of sugar.”


                “Um if you don’t mind me asking?  Are you and Michael okay?”  I hedge.


He sighs again and shakes his head.


                “I have to say I was shocked and appalled at the way he spoke to Jenny, it’s not as if the questions were intrusive.  And she wasn’t even asking him.”


                “True.  But she held her own though.  She’s a sweet kid, we’ve never met her 2 moms, seen pictures never met, think they are coming for the perspective though isn’t that right Zee?”


She nods and takes a sip of water.


                “Mel and Lindz, they have been together for almost as long as you two.”  He comments


                “You’ve met them, what are they like did you go to Toronto with Michael to meet them?  Which one is the Marcus again?”  Zee asks.


                “No I met them the first time we dated, Michael and I.  And that would be Mel, she’s a lawyer and Lindz is an art teacher.  Lost touch with pretty much all of them when I moved to Portland to be with my son after his mother’s divorce.  It was nice to catch up with them, some surprises along the way.”


                “Speaking of sons, do you want to finish our conversation we started on Sunday?”  Zee asks


“Ah the clusterfuck.”  He nods thoughtfully.


We sit back and wait, I can feel my leg starting to twitch with impatience.


                “Okay, so about 3 years ago I got stupid with some stocks and shares and got caught, long story short, had to pay a massive fine, and I had to pool everything to pay it off including my son’s college fund.  This did not make me father of the year.  To compound that, he thinks I have lied to him about who I am…”


We must have looked confused.


                “What I mean is, he thinks I lied to him about being gay.”


                “And did you?”  Zee asks


                “Not really, I just didn’t feel the need to tell him that I still get the urge.”


                “So you’re bisexual then and this bothers him?  A little hypocritical no?”  I asks.


                “Yes I suppose, but I’ve always been “gay” since he was nine and now I have a daughter, which was a surprise to me too. I didn’t know about her until 2012 when her mother tracked me down and demanded child support, it was a one night thing but DNA says she’s mine.”


                “Do you see her and does he know that you do.  What’s her name by the way?” Zee ponders.


He nods with a small smile.


                “Ye, her name is Sarah, and yes.”


                “Sure it’s not just good old fashioned jealousy on his part, you are not his number one focus anymore.  Have you sent him an email or written a letter to reassure and explain everything? Doing that kind of thing by phone can be difficult.”  I suggest.


He sits back and gazes thoughtfully out of the window and then frowns.


                “I-I hadn’t thought of that.  And no I’ve never explained exactly what happened just that it did, in fact you both more than he does, which isn’t right.  I-I think I will try that.”  He murmurs


                “So did Michael and Hank ever meet?”  Zee asks


I cock an eyebrow, where’s she going with this?


        “Yes he came to visit once whilst I lived here and after an initially frosty start they did bond and of course when we moved to Portland Hank would stay at our house…why?


        “Just wondered if he could act as an intermediary you know.”


Seriously what the hell is she doing?


“I’m not sure that would work as I said, I am not sure we can go forward, Michael and I.  They bonded through a love of comic books.  Michael could spend $150 on a comic book but not put savings in an account.  At 12 Hank was more worldly than Michael, I am not bragging off on him but he was reading the financial pages at that point and Michael was still wearing Captain Astro boxers…”


                “Thanks for the visual.”   I shudder.


                “He did look good in them though.”


                “Financial pages at 12, did he ever dabble?  I am not brave enough.  I like the solidity of money, if you see what I mean?”  Zee shivers for emphasis.


                “It can be daunting for a newcomer.  Hank and Michael bought stock together whilst they were in Portland, TalonMotor Government Bonds, Michael was so nervous we literally had to hold his hand when he was handing over the money to invest it, I guess $1,000 was a lot for him then, us not so much, but he’s doing great now, well apart from the marriage breakdown, but at least he’s making a living out his store.  Although his parental skills leave a lot to be desired, what’s the deal with him and Hunter, I mean I understand that Hunter feels that he should’ve caught the pills thing but to shut Michael off is bit much.” 


Zee and I exchange looks, what pills thing?


                “Well…”  I drawl


                “He seems a lot calmer now he’s with Matt apparently it was love at first sight for your son.”


We both smile at that and store that away for teasing later. 


                “The more I think about it the more I know that we are just too different, though can I tell you a secret?


We both nod and he leans forward.


                “When Debs fainted and we were trying to help her up, I broke Captain Astro’s fingers, payback for being bruised every time I walked passed the damn thing during one of our romantic dinners!”


He looks at his watch and sighs regretfully then smiles.


“I have to go.  I have to finish packing and whilst it is on my mind write an email.  I really enjoyed meeting you both and hope to see you at the perspective.


                “Nice to meet you too David see you then.” 


I shake his hand and Zee kisses his cheek and then he is gone.


                “So we may have been wrong about him but I do believe that we may have just caught a fucking break don’t you?”  She asks.


                “Fuck yeah!”  I reply kissing her soundly.






So the meeting took an hour and they are now back in the Pitts heading to the office this is not good.  Okay here they are show time.  We head to Brian’s office and he switches on the office wide intercom.


                “May I have your attention please, Ted and I went to Grunberg this morning in hopes of signing a $20 million contract, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  We signed a $60 million one instead now fuck off for the rest of the week, the lot of you.  Yes I am serious get going!  Well done!”


I stand there in shock.


                $60 million as in dollars, American dollars?”  I gasp


They are both grinning at me and nodding.


                “Over 5 years with an option to renew after 3 if sales go as predicted!”


I feel the world start to tilt and Ted puts me in a chair and Brian hands me a drink and then steadies my hand so I can drink it.


                “Fuck me!”  I gasp.


                “Nope gonna fuck Justin.  See ya Monday!”




                “Hey, where you at young buck?” 


                “Hi!  Am in the diner you want me to order anything for you?”


                “Nah see you in a few.”






                “Brian’s on his way.” 


Zee and Faal are tucked in the corner one side and Emmett is in the other corner.  Nobody has heard from Michael today and for that we are grateful.  But apparently he’s been calling Brian and Ted non-stop and was viciously rude to Bethany on Monday and Alice wants to talk to us about his evening visit.  God, this man just creates shitstorms wherever he goes.


The bell above the door goes and Brian strides in heading straight to our booth, before I can say anything he drops his briefcase on the table and pulls me into the corridor. 


He covers my mouth with his and his tongue demands entrance.   Sucking first on my lower lip and then my tongue he deepens the kiss holding my head gently with one hand and the other attacking my belt.  I start to whimper as he starts to jerk me off.  Arching my back I moan into his mouth clutching at his arm and tugging at his hair to get him to stop.  But he is relentless…he continues kissing and jerking before his mouth slides down to attack my neck.


                “Brian!  What’s got, oh God, not here, sl-slow down, I won’t last if you keep, oh, oh, ah, fuck, mmm!”


                “Not gonna stop.”  He growls and speeds up


                “Christ!  Ah, ah, unh, gonna, gonna, oh!”


I explode into his hand and I feel it run down my thighs.  I sag against the wall as my breathing normalises and look at him with dazed eyes.


                “Grunberg signed a $60 yes $60 million contract.”  He whispers.


                “Fuck.”  I breathe.


                “Yep the moment we get home that’s what’s going to happen, buckle up little boy!  I am going to give you the ride of your life!”


He grabs his briefcase and to rousing laughter and applause leads me out of the diner and home.






I am going through all the emails I have sent to that fucking thief and liar! 


I can’t believe Brian and Ted haven’t replied to any of my messages yet.  I have been trying Kinnetic all afternoon and getting the voicemail saying that the office is closed for the week, yeah right as if Brian is ever going to do that!  I’m going to head over to the diner to see if I can catch up with ma.






                “Well if that doesn’t beat all!”  I say.


The diner erupts again just as Michael comes in.


                “What’s so fucking funny?!”  He snarls and sits down.


                “You missed the reunion of the century.”  Kiki giggles.


                “Now that sounded hot, shame there was no visual.”  A leather clad bear laughs.


                “Only Kinney could pull that off!”  His table mate laughs alongside him.


                “Oh very good!”  Kiki exclaims as she puts down their order.


                “Brian was here!  Where is he now?!”


Michael is very agitated for some reason.


                “He’s gone home with Justin…”  Zee replies


                “Oh Boy Wonder’s recovered has he!”


                “Michael, Brian has told you about calling Justin that, he doesn’t like it.”  I warn


                “Well he’s not here!”


                “But we are and we don’t like it so cut it out!”  Zee snaps.


                “Now you listen to me you…”


                “What, what is it you are going to call my wife?” 


                “Can’t she stand up for herself?!”  Michael snarks.


                “Yes she can but believe me you would rather I kicked your ass than she did!”  I growl back.


He looks across at Zee, who is giving him her die and die now glare. 


                “Michael what did the police say?”  Debs comes rushing over.


She sits down next to me and waits.


                “Michael what did they say?”  She repeats.


                “Nothing I haven’t been yet, I’ve been gathering evidence.”


                “Evidence?  What’s this about?”  Emmett queries, casting glances at us.


                “David stole some money from me and I want it back!”


                “Oh my God when did this happen?”  Emmett gasps.


                “Two years ago.”  He mumbles.


                “And you’ve only just noticed?”  Zee drawls sarcastically.


He flashes her a filthy look but wisely keeps his mouth shut.


                “So care to expand a little?  See if we can help some hmmm?”   Emmett suggests


                “I gave him some money to invest a couple of years ago and he’s not done that.  I want it back now that I’ve dumped him but he says since I “gave” it to him he can’t give it back as the money’s gone.”


                “You dumped him?  Wait how much was it and what was the investment for?” 


Emmett prods, then he looks up in surprise.


                “Yes, we were just not working out.  It was $50K and for the future of Jenny and I...”


                “Hi Michael…”  A lady calls out.


His face registers surprise and he stands to embrace her only to be front and back slapped across the face hard!


                “That’s what you get for Sunday!”  She snarls at him as he clutches his face.


She strides up to the booth, looking round at us she smiles and puts out her hand.


                “Hi I am Melanie Marcus, Jenny’s mom.  You must be Zee and you must be Faal, a pleasure to meet you both.  Hi Emmett, Debs how are both of you doing?”




What the fuck just happened?  When did Mel get here?  The entire diner is silent as Kiki hands her a wet towel for her hand, she says.


                “Mel what the fuck is wrong with you what did you do that for!”  Michael shouts.


                “For Sunday, now do we leave it there or shall we let the entire diner know what you weren’t going to say!”


                “I wasn’t going to say anything!”  He snaps back.


She rolls her eyes at me and hands me back the towel.


                “Of course you weren’t, that’s the problem with you Michael you are always never going to do something!  Like grow up for instance!  Well last night I had to console Jenny over something you never did.  It’s going to take a lot for her to forgive you, so if you want that I suggest you get on the phone and start fucking grovelling!  Okay, need to get going, this was just a slap and dash visit.  Nice to meet you Zee, Faal albeit it briefly.”


And with that Mel heads to the door.


                “Wait Mel I need your help as a lawyer.”  Michael calls out wincing slightly.


                “I am not representing you in the divorce Michael!” 


                “No I mean, David stole from me and I need you to help me get the money back.”


She shakes her head and comes back and sits down with a sigh.


                “What are you talking about and who’s David?”  


                “Cameron, you remember him?”


                “Portland as in that guy?”


He nods and sighs 


                “Okay this is too public a forum is there somewhere we can go?”  Mel sighs again.


                “We should go to the Brownstone as its closer.”  He suggests and stands waiting.


“Are you fucking with me?!”  Zee snaps.


“No I am not fucking with you, it’s closer!”


        “You had better wind your neck in!”  She growls and starts to stand.


        “The store it is then!”  Emmett says trying to stop a bloodbath


                “You guys go, Emmy Lou see you for drinks later yes?”  Faal calls out.


I hug them both goodbye and wonder what the hell is wrong as they’re so angry, will find out from Emmett.






I can’t believe how worn down this place looks, what the hell did he do with the money that they gave him.


                “Okay start from the top.” 


When he’s finished he is a mass of indignation.


                “Can I see the emails that you have?”


I look through them and shake my head.


                “Two words Michael.  You’re screwed.”


                “What why?  That’s my money and he stole it from me!”


                “No what it clear in these emails is that you have given him the money of your own free will to and I quote ‘invest as you see fit as long as it achieves the long term aim’, but you don’t specify what that long term aim is.  Effectively, you have given him carte blanche to take the money to do what he wants with it and if he was to invest it there would be no guarantee that you would see a return.  You’ve not even said you want your original investment back.”


                “But that’s obvious!”  He splutters.


                “Unless it’s written down obvious doesn’t count in a court of law.  How did he find out about the money in the first place?”


                “Because this idiot had to show off and tell him!”  Debs snarks.


                “Why, why would you do that?”  I am exasperated by his stupidity sometimes.


                “So there’s nothing I can do?” 


                “You can sue him privately but that could take years and would cost a lot of money.  It’s up to you.  Report it to the cops by all means but don’t hold out much hope for a public trial.”


He sits down heavily and I almost feel sorry for him but then I remember Jenny’s tear stained face and the bits that Gus told me he witnessed where he picked on Hunter.  We were never told about the row at Deb’s and how that was the final straw for Ben.  I make a mental note not to tell Lindz about Hunter having a key to the loft, as that would be another tail to add to the cat o’howevermany to beat Brian with. 


                “Ems what was wrong with Zee and Faal, I have never seen them look so fucked off.”  Debs questions.


Michael snorts and shakes his head.


                “Ah.  Michael ran his mouth again?”  Debs sighs.


Ems nods and rolls his eyes.


                “Faal was this close to giving him a beat down.”  He explains


                “Seems like violence runs in that family.”  Michael mutters.


                “No you were being insulting to Justin and then almost tried to be insulting to Zee and her husband jumped to her defence as a good husband should.”  Emmett corrects sharply.


                “Let me guess, Boy Wonder?”  Deb groans.


Emmett nods and I shake my head, why does he insist in saying that about Justin.


                “So what are you going to do Michael?”


                “I’m going to lodge a complaint and then sue him privately if needs be.”


                “But that will cost a fortune and you stand the chance of being counter-sued for slander or defamation if you accuse him of fraud.  And remember you’ve got the divorce to factor in.” 


I advise hoping that some of this is sinking in.


                “What about the divorce?  Ben’s the one divorcing me citing irreconcilable differences of all things.  He cheated on me with Steve.”


                “For fuck sake would you give that up already?  They were not together when you guys were married, although now that Jenny has given her approval, methinks she likes the idea of being a big sister…” 


Emmett teases earning a glare from Michael.


                “As I was saying.  You will still need to appoint a lawyer for that and there are the court fees to pay as well, divorce isn’t cheap Michael!”


                “Well Ben will have to pay the fees from the sale of the house to cover my share, now excuse me I have a complaint to file.”


He practically shoves us out of the store and locks up making his way determinedly to the police station as Debs makes her way back to the diner.


                “I was wrong he’s not screwed, he’s fucked!”


                “Oh honey you have no idea.”  Emmett mutters, then looks away guiltily.


                “Emmett, I think you and I need to talk.” 


I take his hand firmly in mine and lead him down the street.






                “One more, come on baby one more.”  I whisper into his ear.


                “I-I, oh God, please oh please oh!”


He’s digging his heels into the bed, grabbing at sheets and clawing at my back as I thrust frantically into him, his cock is bright red and we’re both slicked with sweat.


                “Aaaaaah!  Aaaaah!  Oh f-f-ffuck!”  He screams as his back bows and he explodes over my chest.


                “Yes!  Yes, baby oh, yes, unnh, unnh, uuuh!”  I grunt and collapse on top of him.


After five minutes I lift my head and push his sweaty hair out of his eyes.


                “How’s your head?” 


                “The one on my shoulders is fine, the other one needs a rest.  Can we stick to $30 million contracts please in future?”


                “Okay, I promise.”


Slowly I withdraw and flop onto my back he stays where he lies splayed out and thoroughly fucked.


                “We really need to have a shower or a bath.”  He mutters.


                “Uh huh.”


                “Oh and Alice wants to talk to us about Michael.”  He’s starting to go to sleep.


                “And there goes the joy.  Come on let’s go, can you walk or shall I just wrap you in the sheet and drag you into the shower.”


                “The last one.”  He mumbles


He curses up a storm when I do so and he is deluged with cold water. 


Half an hour and one steaming shower later, we head downstairs.   Lilah mewls with delight at seeing us, well let’s be honest me, and immediately climbs up my pant leg, I am thankful I am not wearing my new PJs.


                “Hey how is my beautiful…Alice what’s wrong?”  I ask.


Alice is in the kitchen pacing and looking nervous.


                “Have you spoken to Mr Novotny?  I am sure his version is events puts me in a much darker light but I was just so angered at his high handed attitude and Vince can vouch for me whatever he said I did.  And it was only one night that George and I stayed, Vince thought it would be best.”


                “Tell me what happened?” 


I sit her down gently; Lilah drops into her lap and peers up at her in cat-concern, I’ve never seen her so upset.


As she explains I can feel my rage boiling. 


                “Ted how long till that fucker is out of our lives!”  I growl into my phone.


                “As long as he suspects nothing then another week tops, why what’s happened?”


As I am explaining the door goes and there stands Emmett and Mel.


                “You need to get over here.”  I tell him.






                “Hey Hunter can we talk to you for a second.”


He looks worriedly between me and Faal. 


                “What have I done?”  He asks.


                “Nothing, I just want to ask you about the time when Ben was sick, what happened?”


Matt takes his hand, stroking over his knuckles.


                “He almost died when he contracted pneumonia.  Michael blamed me for that because we went ice skating every weekend, but it wasn’t that.”  He whispers and the tears flow.  “Brian was the only one that listened to me about the pills, I had them before and they made me worse, but Brian listened.  It might not look like he does but he does, he’s been there for me more than Michael.”


Faal had tears in his eyes.


                “We know and he loves you very much as we all do, some at first sight.  Now you boys go upstairs and do what you do best…by that I mean play video games, the loft or Brownstone is for everything else!”


                “Why did you ask?”  He wipes his eyes.


                “Someone mentioned that’s when Steve came into your lives and I was curious.”


He smiles and heads upstairs with Matt rubbing his back.


                “Hey you forgot something!”  I call out


Hunter comes back and I hand him lite beer and tell him to tell Matt the flatbreads will be 40 minutes.


                “Did you do the duck with the crisp onions?”


                “Yes Hunter and before you ask Faal the crispy chicken ones are in there too.”


                “Next time you do them let me know so I can see how to do it okay?  Actually, let’s make it no cook weekend for you this weekend, what do you say?”


I smile and nod.  Hunter engulfs me in a hug.


                “Thanks mom.”


He grabs the beer and bounds up the stairs and disappears from view.


When I feel Faal’s arms round me I break down.  Once I quiet down he kisses my neck, I try and squirm away from him but he tightens his grip.


                “Dit is wat dit voel soos wanneer Matt het my pa”1  He whispers


                “Jy het 'n buffel in jou keel en 'n kat spin op jou hart?”2


                “Ag Jenny is met jou praat oor die liefde weer?”3  He chuckles


                “Yep sy het 'n baie interessante siening oor dit”4


He pulls me into a deep kiss and when he finally lets me up for air, I gasp


                “Faal stop!   Can we please speak in English or the flatbreads are going to burn!”






As has become our ritual Steve and I are in the kitchen with the TV on the food channel this time arguing the finer points of wet vs dry rub. 


                “Look I have said this several times and since you’re a professor I can’t understand why this is so hard for you.  It is the bark that makes the BBQ and you can’t get a bark with a wet rub.”


                “Bullshit, you just have to apply it correctly!”


                “No it makes the meat too wet!”  He argues


                “Did you as a gay man complain about having wet meat?  But back on topic, if you allow it to dry out enough before you put it in the oven or the grill it’s perfect!”


He puts his hands on his hips and I burst out laughing.


                “What is so funny Bruckner, you want me to take you on a 10K run on Sunday morning!”


                “Sorry but it just reminded me of Tay-Taylor when she wa-wa-was on a time out, I see where she gets it from.”


                “Are you comparing me to a 2 year old girl in mid-tantrum?”


                “Yep, especially when you’ve lost the battle of the wet vs dry rub.”  I shrug.


                “I have not.  As I have said time and time again during this losing battle of yours, you need the dryness to permeate the meat as the fat does the rest.”


I shake my head and take the wine and glasses to the lounge.


                “Nope wrong.”  I reply.


                “What do you mean nope wrong?” 


                “The spices will burn.” 


                “Ben put the glass down and look at me.”


As I turn he smacks me full in the face with a cushion.


                “Now that I have knocked some sense into you.  The spices won’t burn as they will be rendered down with the fat and oof!”


I turn to the TV like nothing has happened but can’t help the grin tugging at my lips.  He picks up his tablet.


                “Let me see, Benjamin Bruckner.  Oh that’s interesting, suffers from excitation of the nerves particularly in the rib area.”


I look confused for a minute until he uses his full weight to pin me to the sofa and starts tickling.


                “No!  Stop!  Steve!  Don’t!  I can’t stand being…no!  No!”


                “Dry rub is better, say dry rub is better!” 


                “No, please just stop, Steve!  I can’t stand it but I won’t…no, not there!”


I am wriggling and giggling it’s the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on.


                “Okay uncle!  I’ll say it!  Just stop!”


                “Go on then.”  He prompts.


                “There I’ve said it.” 


He looks confused and sits on my waist and I am holding his wrists to stop the tickling.


                “You said say it you said nothing about out loud.”  I point out.


He goes to argue a point but I just raise my eyebrows and smirk at him, I let go of one wrist warily waiting for his next assault.


                “Um Steve you want to get off my stomach?”


He gets off and then I notice the reddening on his wrists.


                “Oh shit I am so sorry, let me get some arnica!”


I dash to the bathroom and grab the tube, I take his wrists and curse under my breath.


                “Ben stop it, I was tormenting you.”


I gently apply the gel to his wrists.


                “There that should help, do you have any at home, because you can have this.”


                “No I don’t so thank you, I’ll um…”


I place a gentle kiss on his wrist and his breathing hitches.


                “Enough for now?”  I ask


He kisses my temple and nods.






                “Right what you need to do is get everyone who knows about this shit here right now!  I need to make a call!”


                “Hey Lindz it’s me…”


An hour later, Carl, Ben, Zee and Faal arrive.  The last two are a surprise.


                “Uh how to you two factor in on this?” 


I sit there astonished as I get the full picture of all Michael has done over the years, what he said about Hunter was despicable.  My heart breaks for Jenny, but soars for Hunter that he finally has someone that loves him for him.


                “If only you guys had told me sooner for fuck sake!”  I glower at Brian and Ted.


                “What difference would it have made, Ben was making the payments.”  Justin asks


                “But the agreement states that HE made them, not Ben, he defaulted the moment he stopped paying.”


                “So we can end this now?  The Brian and Mikey show comes to an end now?”  Justin looks hopeful.


                “Well technically, yes, but we need to lock it down so he gets nothing.”


                “Oh found out the name of the stocks that he has?”  Zee pipes up.


                “What stocks?  He said that David didn’t invest in them just took the money and almost ran.”


                “TalonMotor Government Bonds, apparently Hank, son of Dr Dave, pointed him in that direction he has about a grands worth of stock.  But that was when they were first together and we think he was after the certificates or some authority from Michael to…”


                “That’s priceless!”  Ted exclaims


                “Let me guess TalonMotor is now worth millions!”  Faal sighs.


We all turn to look at Ted who is doubled over the computer laughing.


                “Ted!  Seriously Ted get a fucking grip what is it?”  Brian is shaking him.


                “No, it’s not that, not only does TalonMotor not exist as a bond but he and Hank didn’t bond as much as he thought!”


                “Teddy focus!”  Emmett snaps.


Immediately, Ted stops laughing and calms down.


                “Wow Emmy Lou you have got to teach me how to do that.”  Brian is in awe.


                “It’s all in the inflection.”  He shrugs.


                “TalonMotor.  It’s an anagram.”  Ted explains.  “And it sums him up perfectly.”


There is silence for a few minutes whilst we take this in.


                “You’re fucking kidding me!  He got his ass handed to him by a kid?”  Faal is chortling.


                “Can someone just tell me what it is?!”  Carl has lost all patience.


                “Total Moron.”  Ben has tears running down his face as he shakes with laughter.



Chapter End Notes:

1 - This is what it felt like when Matt called me dad

2 - You have a buffalo in your throat and a cat purring on your heart

3 - Oh Jenny is talking to you about love again

4 - Yep she has an interesting view on it

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