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Bound By Fate. by Lorie , Nichelle Wellesly

The next morning at Kinnetik-

 

The first applicant answered all of Justin's questions while staring at Cynthia's chest. He never even tried to hide where he was looking and never once looked at her face or even glanced at Justin at all.

 

The second prospective employee was a girl just out of high school and she practically drooled while staring at Justin. She sat there with a besotted expression and had to be asked questions several times before she could answer them.

 

The third person only wanted to work part-time and she wanted to make her own hours.

 

Number four came in listening to her iPod and kept one earbud in during the entire interview, answering most questions with "uh-huh" or "nah".

 

Candidate number five said if he got the job he would only keep it until his parents got off his back about not working.

 

Justin was wondering if he would ever find anyone even passable for the job. There was only one more person scheduled, but he needed a quick break. He turned to Cynthia before standing and turning towards the door. "If they don't get any better than this, I hope you know how to clone yourself. I'll be right back," Justin said as he headed to the men's room.

 

Daphne Chanders was a nervous wreck by the time she arrived at Kinnetik that morning after being called late the night before. That, in and of itself, was a miracle. She wasn't sure that she would get hired, but anything that she could do to keep herself within these elegant walls, she would do. It would sure beat working at the bar as a waitress, constantly being groped for shitty tips just to make ends meet. Usually an eternal optimist, Daphne had recently begun to regret her life choices since leaving high school, and subsequently, her parents' house.

 

They had pulled the as long as you live in our house, you'll do what we say to do card. In light of what had happened to her best friend, she just couldn't abide that, paid-for-education or not. So, packing her belongings, she lived in her car for a few weeks before obtaining a really low-paying job in a restaurant. The only good thing about the job, at the time, was that there was a room above the storage area of the restaurant that was for rent. Even if it was in a less than stellar area, she only had to go up the stairs after getting out of work.

 

Making a deal with her boss, she arranged for the rental fee to come directly out of her paycheck, then moved into the shoebox-size apartment the day before starting work. Things were working out great, at first. Daphne would work at the restaurant during the day, supplementing her income by waitressing or bartending there at night. She had three goals in mind and stuck with them constantly: make money to live, save money to go to college, and spend money to find her best friend. Daphne didn't believe one word from Craig Taylor's lying lips when he started the molestation rumors to justify ousting Justin from his family and his home.

 

Daphne was the only one who knew that Justin was gay, with the exception of Jim. And he'd confirmed her suspicions when the day after Justin disappeared Daphne cornered the boy Justin had a major crush on. Craig Taylor had unceremoniously dumped Justin, and in the process saved his rotten ass from divorce court. When Daphne had approached Justin's mother with the truth of the matter, Jen had told the young woman that she couldn't afford to leave until after she'd found a way to support herself and Molly. They both knew that Craig would try to pay as little as possible in child support, and she had to think of her children.

 

Like Daphne, Jen also didn't believe what Craig had said about Justin. Her son was many things, but never that! But she still had to keep her mouth shut and bide her time, all the while praying for her son's safety. She was sure her beautiful son was gay, even though he had never told her and she never had the nerve to ask. She often remarked to Daphne that she wished she'd asked for the confirmation before Craig had the opportunity to do this to her son.

 

For Daphne's part, she knew that somehow and someday, she would find a way to get even with Craig on Justin's behalf. But first, she needed to find her best friend! Justin had called her once, the day after he was thrown out. He told her he would be okay, and that he loved her. He had also advised her not to try to find him; that Craig was having everyone he might have contacted watched. Then the line went dead.

 

Daphne was sent into the interview before Justin had returned. After the introductions were made, Cynthia began asking general questions, telling her that the other interviewer would return momentarily. They were discussing the duties of the job when Justin walked in.

 

"OH MY GOD, Daph!!" Justin practically screamed.

 

"JUS!" Daphne yelled, as she suddenly jumped up from her seat, and the two began crying and hugging.

 

"So, I take it you two have already met?" Cynthia said, smiling.

 

"Cynthia, Daphne and I have been friends since before preschool. She's my best friend and we haven't seen each other in over a year," Justin responded, still holding onto one of the people he missed most in the world.

 

Smiling at the two friends, Cynthia addressed the pair. "Daphne, could you wait outside for a moment while I talk to Justin?"

 

"Sure. But don't disappear, Justin, we have to talk," she told him as she left the room.

 

"Justin, do you think she can do the job?"

 

"Before I left school, I was first in the class and she was second. I don't know how much Brian has told you about me, but part of it is that I was thrown out of my house for being gay and threatened not to contact anyone that my family knew. That's why I haven't talked to her since I left home. I would love to work with her! She's smart, she gets me, and she learns very quickly," Justin told Cynthia sincerely.

 

"Well then, go let your new assistant in here and let me start training her," Cynthia told Justin with a smile.

 

Smiling, Justin went over to the door and asked Daphne to come back in.

 

"You're hired. You'll work with Cynthia to learn the ropes. She's the best." Justin said, hugging his best friend.

 

"Justin, before we start you need to take her down to Ted, so he can get her paperwork started. Then you two should go to lunch to catch up a little," Cynthia told the happy pair, who readily agreed with her suggestions.

 

Brian finished with his last meeting and headed to his office, hoping that the interviews would be done, at least for the day, so he could do some work and return phone calls. Coming around the corner toward his office, he saw Cynthia sitting at her desk.

 

"Interviews are done for the day?" Brian asked as he headed for his office. She followed him in and shut the door.

 

"Is everything alright, Cynthia?" Brian asked, concerned. She didn't normally close the door just to answer a question, so there must be something on her mind.

 

"To answer your first question, yes. Justin found an assistant who seems just perfect for him. It's his best friend, who he hasn't seen or spoken to in over a year," Cynthia said, watching for Brian's reaction to her last statement. One thing she knew about her boss and friend, he usually knew more about things than he would let on. And there it was. It was just a quick flash but she saw it, confirming that he did know something about what Justin had told her only part of earlier.

 

"Brian?"

 

"Cynthia, remember several months ago when I told you about the kid who gave me back my wallet and dissed Michael with his comment?"

 

"The one that said ‘I might hustle, but I'm not a thief'? Yeah, I remember. You mean... it was Justin?"

 

"Yeah, it was Justin,"

 

"Oh, so that's what he meant. He told me that when he was thrown out of his house, he was told not to contact anyone his family knew. The poor kid, how did he survive...? Nevermind, don't answer that! I don't even want to think about what he has been through. Well, I'm glad he's here now, and you should have seen his face when he saw Daphne. Between the tears and the smile, I didn't know whether to cry or find my sunglasses,"

 

"Where are they now?"

 

"I sent them to Ted for the paperwork, then told them after they were done there, they should go to lunch,"

 

Justin was waiting with Daphne while she finished up with Ted when his phone signaled that he had an incoming message. Turning around Justin opened the message:

 

Take the rest of the day off. Show Daphne your apartment, and relax. Glad you found each other again. B.

 

Ted welcomed Daphne and asked her when she was starting. Not knowing the answer, she looked at Justin and raised an eyebrow. He had been reading the message from Brian, not really paying attention to Ted and Daphne.

 

"Huh, what did you ask? Sorry, I was just checking a message,"

 

"I was asking Daphne when she starts, and she needs her boss to answer the question," Ted supplied, smiling. He knew there were very few people that had Justin's new cell number, and he was busy, as he was sure Cynthia was, that only left Brian. At Justin's continually confused look, Ted clarified, "That's you, Justin,"

 

"Oh yeah. Um... tomorrow's fine. Apparently, we have been given the rest of the day off," Justin explained, showing Daphne the text from the top boss.

 

"One more thing you two need to do today, Justin. Please take Daphne and get her a company phone. I'll call ahead to get it all arranged," Ted told the excited twosome before they left for the day. Ted had asked Daphne about her phone, and she had told him that she only had a cheap little prepaid phone, which was all she could afford at the moment. He had explained to her that as Justin's assistant, she would get a company-paid-for smartphone.

 

On the way out of the building, Justin and Daphne ran into Brian, who was standing outside having a smoke. Justin smiled at his boss, not wanting to bother him on his break. Brian just shook his head and walked over to the pair. When Brian stopped in front of his two newest employees, Justin introduced them.

 

"Brian, this is Daphne Chanders, my new assistant. Daphne, Brian Kinney, owner of Kinnetik,"

 

Brian reached out his hand. "Welcome to Kinnetik, Daphne. I hope you'll enjoy it here,"

 

"Thank you. I'm sure I will, Sir. I'm just happy to have found Justin again. And your offices are amazing,"

 

"Thank you. Just call me Brian. You two sure are polite. Justin, you should show her your apartment. That way the next time your bell rings, maybe you'll know the person on the other side," Brian told them with a smirk as he headed back into the building.

 

"Where do you live anyway, Justin? I hope it's safe and not some dump," Daphne told her best friend, happy that she had found him and wanting to know what he had been doing this past year.

 

"We'll go there as soon as we pick up your phone. It doesn't look like much from the outside but believe me, it's not a bad place. Do you have a car?"

 

"Yes. The car was mine, so I took it when I left," Daphne told him, leading him to her car, which was parked on the corner.

 

After they picked up Daphne's new phone she drove them to the apartment, directed by Justin. Parking outside the building, Daphne looked around, hoping that it looked better on the inside. Once inside the building, she noticed that it was at least clean. Justin unlocked the door and stood back, letting her enter first. She stepped inside and looked around in shock.

 

"Oh my God, Justin! This place is a fucking dream palace!"

 

"You don't know the half of it, Daph. Let me show you around," Justin proceeded to give his best friend the grand tour of the apartment. Once they were done, Justin got them sodas out of the fridge and they went to the sofa, where he knew he needed to be honest with her about the last year of his life. He proceeded to tell her what had happened to him, beginning with the day Craig had caught him kissing his boyfriend and had given him fifteen minutes before throwing him out in the street. His story ended with him being hired at Kinnetik only the week before, as a gopher, and then being promoted to his new position at the end of his first week when he saved Brian's account that had been fucked up by one of the art department employees.

 

She had been very upset when Justin told her what he'd had to do to survive. She knew that she would be forever grateful to Brian for rescuing her best friend from the streets. She agreed with Justin's assessment, that Brian Kinney had probably saved his life. "Well, he definitely saved my ass, in more ways than one," Justin told her with a smirk.

 

"But Justin, how did you afford this palace?"

 

"Well, the day I applied at Kinnetik, Brian saw me filling out the application and realized where he recognized me from, and that I likely had nowhere to live since he saw me just staring at the application after I wrote my name. So he sent me to Ted with a note. After I finished up with my paperwork, I was given the code and the key and sent here. When I first looked around, I called Ted to make sure I was in the right place. I don't have to pay rent for the first three months; the furniture and everything else, including utilities, comes with the apartment, and the cleaning lady comes once a week. She cleans everything and does the laundry. When I asked how much it would be I was told that I would be able to afford it. I found out just a few days ago that Brian actually owns the building. He and I are the only ones who live here. He lives on the top floor,"

 

The friends called out for pizza while continuing to hang out and talk for the next few hours. Daphne finally decided to get going so she could get some rest to be ready for her first day as Justin's assistant. She was looking forward to being able to save up some money, hoping to get a better place. Since finding Justin, she knew she would at least have enough now to put down security for an apartment, since the money that had been set aside to help locate him was no longer needed. She had carefully avoided telling Justin exactly where it was she lived, changing the subject each time he asked.

 

The following morning Daphne was already waiting in her car next to the building when Brian showed up at Kinnetik. Because of where she lived, she liked to leave the area before the locals finally headed home for their all-day sleep. She was sitting in her car, engrossed in a book, when someone knocked on her window. Startled, she threw the book over her shoulder into the back seat.

 

"Ahhh. What the fuck?!" she screamed, and then looked sheepishly at her boss. "Sorry,"

 

"Don't be. I'm sorry, Daphne," Brian chuckled. "I didn't mean to startle you. What are you doing here so early anyway?"

 

"Oh, well I was awake and so I just figured I'd come in early to see if anyone else was here, so I could get started,"

 

"Well come on inside. One of your new boss' purchases came in yesterday after you two had left. We can be the first to try it out," Brian told Daphne, unlocking the doors and leading her into Justin's almost completed space and over to the new pod coffee maker he had ordered. Thankfully, he had thought to order coffee for the machine. Going into the kitchen, they found cups with lids, sugar, and cream. Daphne washed out the new machine while Brian got everything set up, so they could have coffee to get their day started. By the time Cynthia and Justin arrived at work, Brian and Daphne were talking, laughing, and enjoying their second cup of coffee.

 

Cynthia was the first to speak, "Are you two having fun yet?" she asked the pair, who were sitting on the sofa, giggling. Daphne was telling Brian stories about her and Justin's antics from when they were little.

 

Justin noticed the smell of fresh coffee and hurried to his office. "The coffee maker came, yes! Hey Cynthia, do you want some coffee?" He offered Brian's assistant, who was presently being ignored by the occupants of the sofa while they finished their conversation.

 

"Sure, Justin. Might as well, since they are still talking about you, I think. Did you really drag your teddy bear to preschool with you every day?"

 

"DAPHNE!!" was Justin's answer to Cynthia's question, causing Cynthia to try to suppress a giggle.

 

After everyone was finished with their coffee and stories while most of the rest of the staff was coming in, Brian suggested that Justin show Daphne around so she would be familiar with the layout and the staff. While they were wandering, Ted came to Brian's office. Asking Cynthia to come in as well, he closed the door.

 

"Brian, not that I want to be in anyone's business, but when I was entering Daphne's file into the computer... well, let me show you where she lives," Ted told them while pulling up Daphne's file and a Google street map of Pittsburgh.

 

Brian looked at his old neighborhood with something akin to horror. Although the area used to be known as the neighborhood of the working class poor, in recent years it had become even more run-down than he remembered. As Ted navigated the Google Earth app to show a close-up of the neighborhood, Brian spotted every single place he remembered passing along on his way to school each day. The old Senior Citizens building looked to have had a fire; the once-glistening windows now graffiti-decorated boards. The park that he used to escape to prior to meeting Michael was not only devoid of the benches that he remembered, but the basketball hoops, swings, and other accouterments which had defined the space were notably missing.

 

He remembered hearing some years ago that the city was looking to restore the neighborhood to its former glory, but the developers that they had hired went bankrupt. By the time the talks were happening again, the area had become the tragic dwelling that was displayed on the computer screen. The area made Vaseline Tower look like the Four Seasons by comparison. Thanks to the wave of technology and satellites, which showed way more than they ought in real-time, Brian ordered Ted to shut the screen down before they continued to witness the drug deal which was already in progress.

 

"Oh shit. That's probably why she was here waiting in the parking lot when I got here this morning. I wouldn't even let a stray dog run free in that neighborhood... and I don't even like the fuckers. I wonder why Justin didn't say anything about it," Brian questioned.

 

"Brian, I don't think Justin knows where she lives. In fact, every time he started to ask her yesterday, she would change the subject," Cynthia told the men.

 

"What are we going to do? I'd rather not move her into my building. I really don't want to start running a boarding house for teenagers," Brian told the pair.

 

"First, Brian, they aren't teenagers in the normal sense. In fact, I think they are more grown-up than half the people we know, and that includes some ‘adults' about the same age as we are, or older. Secondly, I have an empty one-bedroom in my building. The man that was renting it decided he wanted to buy a house with a yard, instead of a condo. He moved out last week. The place has already been cleaned and repainted. She can move in immediately," Ted answered.

 

"That's great, Ted. If she needs furniture, we'll do it as a sign-on bonus. I don't want her somewhere unsafe. It's bad enough that Justin had to live from pillar to post, but that... that's just something that is unacceptable, considering their upbringing. I remember not being able to wait to get out of there myself, and that was way before the old neighborhood had turned into the shithole it is now. Let's talk to her now. Then we can get some leather bears from the gym to get her moved out right away,"

 

By the time Justin and Daphne had returned from the tour, Ted had already called the gym to arrange for available bears for their assistance. Then he and Brian had called Emmett at the furniture store he managed to see what was available immediately if Daphne needed furniture. Justin and Daphne stopped at Cynthia's desk to see if she had time to start training Daphne.

 

"I think Brian wants to see you two in his office first." At their worried looks, Cynthia clarified, "It's nothing bad. In fact, I think you will both be pleased," Relieved, they knocked on Brian's door and were told to come in.

 

"Hey, you two. Daphne, we were wondering how much furniture you have?" Brian questioned. At her confused look, he explained, "We like our employees to be safe. There is an empty apartment in the building Ted owns. You can either rent or you can buy it, no money down. If you want to buy it, I'll hold the mortgage so you don't have to worry about credit scores or anything like that. We'd like to get you moved right away, as in today. If you need furniture, we have a friend who manages a furniture store on Liberty Avenue and you can get anything you need there. It will be a sign-on bonus,"

 

"Daphne, where are you living?" Justin asked, annoyed when he realized that she had avoided telling him yesterday and knowing it had to be bad for Brian to be in this much of a rush to get her moved.

 

She answered him reluctantly and then said that it was all she could afford. Justin looked upset, wishing he had known last night when she left that she was heading somewhere unsafe.

 

Brian spoke up first. "Well, you're not going back there alone. Justin, go with her and help her pack up anything that she wants. I'll have the bears go with you two, and they will take everything to the new place. Here's a company credit card. Go to Emmett's store and get new furniture. Make sure you can at least get a bed delivered today, then get whatever else you need. And I mean get everything you need. Don't worry about the cost, we'll work it out later," Brian told the stunned pair. "Try to get it all done today. We really do need you two to start working here soon. Oh yeah, go to Ted's office and get the keys to your new place. You should probably stop there first, so you know sizes and what you want to get for the apartment."

 

Justin and Daphne stood there in shock, until Daphne burst into tears, not sure what to say. Justin smiled one of his amazing sunshine smiles. "Thank you, Brian," he said for both of them while embracing Daphne as she cried what he knew to be tears of relief.

 

Brian shifted from foot-to-foot, uncomfortable with gratitude for what he considered simple human decency. Gruffly he said, "Just get going. Spend whatever you need to, don't worry about it," He headed towards his desk to start returning phone calls, surreptitiously watching as the two young adults all but ran from the office.

 

Daphne found all the furniture she needed at Emmett's store. Walking into the store she had found an eclectic assortment of furniture and a flaming queen that would become a good friend. Several hours later, Justin and Daphne were sitting in her new apartment. All the furniture would be delivered a little later, as soon as the bears got it loaded onto the truck. Justin and Daphne had also bought sheets, towels, and basic kitchen things. Daphne decided that she would slowly get the things she really wanted. She did not want to take advantage of her boss' generosity any more than she already had. She could hardly believe her good fortune at not only finding Justin but being lucky enough to find a job and a safe place to live all within the space of a couple of days.

 

Justin headed back to work while Daphne stayed at the apartment to wait for her delivery. When Justin got to Kinnetik he headed straight for Brian's office. Knocking on the door, he was invited in.

 

"Brian, I just want to thank you for what you did for Daphne. You are amazing, and one of the most generous people I have ever met. If you're not busy tonight, I'd really like to cook you dinner," Justin said as he handed Brian all the receipts and the credit card.

 

"You're welcome, Justin. And thank you for the compliment. I just like to make sure my employees are safe. Seeing as I have no plans tonight, what's for dinner?"

 

"Salmon fillets, salad, and grilled vegetables, how's that sound?" Answered the smiling blond.

 

"It sounds like we should be out of here by six, so we can eat," Brian answered smiling back.

 

True to his word, Brian was packed up and ready to leave at six. As he walked out of his office, Justin was just locking his door. They exchanged smiles and walked to the jeep. When they reached the loft building, Brian again parked in the back. Justin took this to mean that Brian did not want everyone- meaning his ‘friends'- to know he was home. Once inside the building, Justin headed for his apartment while Brian went upstairs to change. After spending all day in a suit, he liked to be comfortable... and barefoot. Justin left the door open and fifteen minutes later, a quickly showered Brian was walking in wearing a tight black tanktop and well-worn jeans. Justin had quickly changed and was rinsing the fish so he could season it.

 

"Is there anything I can do to help? I'm not good at cooking, but I do know how to use a knife," Brian offered.

 

"Sure, everything is washed for the salad. If you want to cut everything up and put it into a bowl, that would be great," Justin answered.

 

Brian did as requested while watching Justin lay the salmon out in a buttered pan and squeeze fresh lemon over it. Then he put fresh ground pepper on it and chopped up some fresh dill to put on top. He put it in the oven and set the timer. He turned on the stovetop grill to heat while he sliced zucchini and broccoli, then carefully washed the asparagus spears. Grabbing an unmarked jar of mixed spices, Justin seasoned the vegetables just before placing them on the grill. Brian had finished putting together the salad and watched with interest as Justin worked at the grill. Grabbing fresh herbs, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, Justin whisked together a fresh dressing for the salad. When the timer went off, Justin pulled out the fish, plated the vegetables and set everything on the table. Brian had put out plates and utensils while watching Justin seemingly effortlessly make a meal.

 

Sitting down, Justin waited for Brian to taste his food.

 

"Justin, this is amazing. You make it look effortless, and yet it is so delicious,"

 

"Thank you, Sir. I love to cook and it's great to have someone to cook for besides myself. If there is anything you really like to eat just let me know, and I'll make it for you," 

 

"Well don't forget you are going to try to recreate that cheesecake this weekend," Brian reminded him. "Are you still up for the challenge?"

 

"I'm definitely up for that challenge, Boss," Justin declared. "I'll make something light for dinner since I know you like to watch what you eat. How about Chicken Caesar Salad?"

 

"Sounds perfect, especially if you make the dressing fresh like you did tonight. This is great," Brian commented.

 

Justin beamed at the praise. He wasn't used to being complimented so genuinely about his talents. He knew Brian was a very honest man and was not one to ‘blow smoke'. He only gave compliments when they were truly deserved.

 

After dinner, they sat and talked about the new art programs that had been ordered for the computers, and what they could do. Justin had already installed them on the computer Brian had given him. Justin pulled up a few mock ads he had been playing with, so he could refine what he needed to do. Brian was impressed and even more thankful that he had Justin working for him. He also asked Justin if he wanted to go to school, telling him about Kinnetik's policy of paying for classes related to the job.

 

"I would like to go to school, Brian. But more than that, I want to work. I also need to get my GED before I could take classes. My father signed me out of school with only a month left, so I couldn't even get my diploma."

 

"Let me look into that for you, Justin. Maybe there is something that can be done about it. If you don't want to go to college right away, you could always take some online classes. That way you could do them at your own pace, and get rid of the basic classes so you only have to do some classes at a school. Whatever you need, we can work around a school schedule. Don't misunderstand. In no way am I saying that you must have a degree in order to do or keep your job, but it's just a good thing to have in case you want to go work somewhere else, which I'm hoping you never do,"

 

Brian didn't want Justin to be concerned that not having a degree would affect his job. He was determined to not ever let go of Justin. He was also starting to think that maybe he would like the blond around for more than just work. And he wasn't just thinking of a quick fuck either. They got along well and Justin was certainly intelligent enough to challenge him, unlike a lot of the other people in his life. Justin also seemed to be very loyal, trustworthy, and unwilling to take handouts- another thing that made him different than most other people Brian knew. The young man was determined to work for what he wanted and earn his money.

 

All too soon, it was time to say goodnight so they could be fresh for the morning. Justin would be meeting with the Art Department early in the morning to introduce them to the new programs they would be using. Brian had two initial meetings with prospective clients. He had arranged the meetings so that Justin could sit in and take notes on any ideas he got for the ads, based on what the clients wanted.

 

"Meet me at the jeep at eight, Justin. You have the Art Department meeting at eight-thirty. You don't want to be late. Some of them will probably already be bitching about having to come in early twice in the same week," Brian told him as he got up to leave. When Justin started to protest, Brian just put up his hand, "Just do it, please,"

 

"Okay Boss, and thank you,"

 

"You're welcome. And dinner was spectacular. You'll have a lot to live up to on Saturday," Brian told him with a smirk as he slipped out the door.

 

Justin contemplated his recent interactions with his boss. Certainly, he was attracted to the older man. Who wouldn't be? Brian Kinney was gorgeous! And Brian also seemed to be at least slightly interested in him too.

 

He remembered back to the day he had applied at Kinnetik. When he had shaken Brian's hand, he had definitely felt something... something that he could only describe as a jolt. Had Brian felt it too? He wondered. Well, Justin decided, if something was going to happen between them he would wait for Brian to make the first move. The last thing he wanted to do was to look like he was coming on to the man, possibly like he was trying to get ahead by sleeping with the boss. If all they ever were was friends, that would be fine too. Brian was smart, interesting, and fun to hang out with. Justin would leave things up to fate.        

 

The next couple of days at Kinnetik were busy. There were meetings, preliminary sketches on the boards for new accounts, and instructing the Art Department on the new software, which most of them seemed very excited about, except for one of the artists. Justin was pretty sure she was the one who had screwed up the boards that had landed Justin in his dream job, so he really didn't care how she felt about anything.

 

Friday after work Justin picked up everything he would need for dinner and dessert on Saturday. He decided that he would also make a fresh strawberry sauce to accompany the cheesecake. He had checked with Cynthia to make sure Brian wasn't allergic to anything. He wanted to surprise him, but only in the best of ways. Justin knew that Brian went to the gym every Saturday morning, after meeting his friends at the Liberty Diner. Justin had told Brian to come by anytime. As he was going to have most of the meal done by the middle of the day, he and Brian could always play games. They both loved trivia games, were very competitive, and pretty evenly matched.  

 

Justin had gotten up when he heard the elevator, signaling that Brian was leaving that morning. He made the cheesecake first. He wanted it to be perfect and made sure he would have time to make a second one if this one didn't come out right. While it baked, he made the strawberry sauce, while saving a bunch of beautiful ripe strawberries for garnish. The cheesecake had come out perfectly. Justin had made a small one at the same time, to check for taste and texture. He washed and dried everything for the salad, then got it ready. He marinated the chicken breasts which would be grilled just before they ate, and he also made sure he had some wine chilled. When everything was ready, Justin decided he would see if he could do some work on the upcoming ads to show Brian later.

 

At about three o'clock there was a knock on Justin's door. He got up to answer it and saw Brian with his hands full. He had Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, and a binder.

 

"I figured you could try and show off how smart you are, Blondie. We have games, and the binder has copies of the New York Times crossword puzzles. There are two copies of each one, so we can go head to head and see who is faster," Brian told a giggling Justin.

 

"You're on, Boss. I should warn you though, I got 1500 on my SAT," Justin bragged.

 

"Damn, Justin. You could have gone anywhere with a score like that," Brian said in awe.

 

"Yeah," Justin answered, looking down. Brian mentally kicked himself for putting that look on the blond's face.

 

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