A long Labor Day holiday weekend in Las Vegas, and having an abundance of fun seekers in the hotel was always exciting. As head concierge at Nero's Forum, the legendary, Roman-themed hotel and casino resort, Drew's responsibility was to facilitate the fun, as long as it was 'within reason and was legal'. Drew Reichardt commanded the VIP guest services desk with his name boldly announced by an engraved brass plaque displayed on the marble counter.
Nero's, the grand dame on the strip, had been recently renovated and expanded to maintain the competitive edge and keep the wagering regulars, who were treated as royalty...as long as their earnings potential was high. "Earnings potential," or "E.P.," was casino-speak for tracking the amount of money each client waged. The potential was the casino's probability to win a computer-calculated percentage of the amount gambled. All very complicated. He just applied loving kindness to whomever he was told by the casino boss and the hotel resident manager.
"Drew, I've got a big one coming in tonight. Name's Al Bromley, Jr., from L.A. What kind of suite has been assigned to him?" asked Stan Lasky, vice president of casino operations. Drew had just arrived for the important Friday 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. shift.
Looking over the VIP list, he found Bromley's name with a star and "RF & B" noted. The notation stood for complimentary room, food and beverage during the stay. "Stan, it looks like your boy is in the Cleopatra Suite with wine, fruit and cheese as an amenity." He recognized the name. Normally the father was in town for weekends. The suite was in the original Roman Tower.
"Oh, shit, his dad will have me by the balls if he isn't upgraded. Is there anything available in Caesar's Tower?"
"Yes, Drew, very important."
Picking up the house telephone, Drew dialed the resident manager's extension. "What's the big deal? Isn't Junior just out of college? The suite assigned is...Hi, Bill. I've got Stan Lasky asking for an upgrade for Al Bromley, Jr. Can we get him into a suite in the new tower?" he nodded, listening to the manager. "Okay, thanks," he said into the phone.
"Can do?" Stan asked anxiously.
"Ya got it, buddy." Drew knew that a Ben Franklin would be slipped to him later for this upgrade.
"I know this is very important to you. But, why?" he asked, genuinely puzzled.
"The father requested the Caesar's Tower. Apparently Al, Jr., is bringing his college girlfriend, with whom he just graduated from UCLA, for the weekend to propose marriage. I've got the executive chef working on a special dinner to be served in the room Saturday night. As you are aware, his father's patronage is very important."
"If that's the case, why don't I send up a heart-shaped box with chocolate truffles as an amenity tomorrow afternoon?" he suggested to Stan.
"Hey, Drew, great idea. I owe ya," he said, smiling as he went back to the casino.
During the lull in guest traffic, Drew thought back about the past eight years. After graduating from UNLV's Hotel School four years ago, he was immediately placed in a hotel training program at Nero's. Now 26, he was proud to have made a key manager's slot so fast. Knowing all the front desk operations by heart would make him a candidate to be resident manager of the hotel before hitting the ripe age of 30.
During the eight years he had lived in Las Vegas, the town experienced tremendous growth. Every type of theme hotel had been opened. Nero's added Caesar's Tower two years ago, bringing the total guest room and suite count to 3,000. The renovation also included a new addition to the casino brought the gaming area up to over 150,000 square feet of every action imaginable. Drew marveled at the ten new restaurants with signature chefs that had opened in the hotel.
Growing up in Anaheim, near Disneyland in Orange County, south of L.A, was like a real-life version of the TV show from the 50's, "Leave it to Beaver." Drew was "Wally" to his little brother's "Beav." Later, gay friends living on L.A.'s Westside would refer to the area as "behind the orange curtain." The real "O.C." was very right wing and very Republican. Drew had no intention to return home except to see the 'rents and his younger brother on holidays.
When he came out to the family during the second year of college, 16-year-old brother Jason joked that he would shoulder the responsibility of producing grandchildren. Drew laughed and told him to get married first. "Bro," Jason said warmly at the time, "You'll be a great uncle." Mom and Dad reluctantly accepted Drew's orientation, while his little brother considered it as no big deal.
At a non-casino hotel, the concierge was expected to perform a variety of tasks for a guest that would include restaurant reservations, limo services, massage and beauty shop appointments and local maps. At Nero's, this was only part of the duties. The prime responsibility was to make sure the casino VIP's were catered to in such a way that they would never consider staying or gambling at another venue. All of the key executives of the hotel and casino relied on the guest services department to pull all the stops every day to keep the gambling machine lubricated and running smoothly in the area of keeping the guest happy. Drew was expected to make it happen.
For the next couple of hours, guest traffic picked up as the early L.A. crowd arrived after traveling over the desert on I-15. Drew juggled dinner reservations, spa times, and show tickets at the other casino hotels, as well as their popular Circus Maximus showroom. Around 6:00 p.m., he noticed a hot young trio, two men and a woman, approach VIP guest services.
"Ah, Drew, is it?" asked a handsome guy, picking up the name from the plaque on the counter. The stranger stood about Drew's 5'10" height with brown hair and glistening white teeth. Drew inventoried the casual, studied style of the low-cut tailored jeans and a D & G pullover tightly molded to a trim torso.
"Yes, Sir. How may I assist you?" Drew replied with a smile. He noticed a beautiful blond woman, dressed subtly in Beverly Hills casual, and a guy that had very similar features to the woman, both about the same age, standing behind the man to whom Drew was speaking. While the woman's hair was professionally highlighted, the man was more of a medium, natural, blond shade. The guy was in conventional khakis and a pocket tee.
"I hope you can help, Drew. My name's Al Bromley and I need another room for my girlfriend's brother. He unexpectedly came over with us." The blond brother and sister team, about the same height as Bromley, walked over to the counter. "This is Trish Harrington and her brother, Bob."
"Mr. Bromley, Mr. and Ms. Harrington, welcome to Nero's. I handled your suite reservation earlier in Caesar's Tower, Sir. But for Mr. Harrington, I think I can only try for a large room in the tower if I bounce someone out."
"Well, Drew, first it's Bob. And my sister prefers to be called Trish. Right, Sis?" he asked the blond woman. They both smiled at him like gorgeous Doublemint twins. Looking closer, Drew was sure that they were twins. "Whatever you can do would really be appreciated."
"And I would feel much more comfortable if you'd address me as Al. Jeez, we're all about the same age," Bromley added with a wink.
"Bob, you okay with a room with a king-size bed?" Drew asked. 'You okay with a king-size bed and me in it?' he imagined.
"Drew, you're a lifesaver. I wanted to be around for my buddy and sister this weekend," Bob answered with a grin that would light up the strip.
"When we were SAE pledge brothers at UCLA, Bob fixed me up with his sister. That was four years ago," Al said with a proud smile.
"I should say, Phi Alpha, then," Drew stated as he offered his hand for the traditional SAE handshake. "UNLV, Nevada Beta."
"Phi Alpha, bro," they both said in unison, grinning at their connection as they shook hands.
"Let me do a little magic in the reservations computer," Drew said, punching in the room-type for a scan. 'Here's one,' he thought, studying on the screen. 'Mr. Greenbaum from Dallas will never notice the difference.' Drew moved Greenbaum to a lower floor in the Roman Tower and typed in Bob Harrington's name. "Bob, you now have a room in Caesar's Tower a few floors below Al's suite. I have the authority to comp the room, but any food or beverage will be charged. Is that satisfactory?" he asked Al.
"Drew, you're a lifesaver. Thanks, brother," Al said, shaking Drew's hand again. Bob did the same. He felt warmth in Bob's grip that was exciting.
"All I need is a credit card to post on your room ledger for incidentals," Drew said. Bob pulled out a Visa and it was swiped before being returned.
"Bob, you're going to have dinner with us tonight. On me," Al said. "Or, to be honest, compliments of Nero's."
Drew smiled and looked towards the Bell Captain desk. "Front," he said. Immediately a bellman came forward. "Kent, will you retrieve this party's luggage? Here is Mr. Bromley and Ms. Harrington's suite assignment and Mr. Harrington's room assignment." Drew handed the room key packets to the bellman. The first rule he learned when he was trained at the front desk was to never, ever verbally mention a room number. This was for the guest's security.
"Thanks again, Drew," Al said, looking at him in gratitude as Trish and Bob walked away a few feet.
"I'm aware of why Trish and you are here. Shall I go ahead and increase your dinner reservations to three guests at Terrazza?" Drew said in a low voice. Terrazza was the hotel's five star Tuscan Italian restaurant.
"That'll be great. But tomorrow, he's on his own," Al replied with a wink.
"I also took the liberty of booking a VIP booth for you at tonight's Reba McEntire show. It'll fit two to four guests," he said as a follow-up.
"Drew, you think of everything," he replied with a broad grin. "Hey, how about joining us? It's an 11:00 p.m. curtain, right?"
Drew considered his schedule as he answered, "I haven't seen the show yet, but are you sure I won't be in the way?" The idea of spending some social time with Bob was creating a stirring sensation in his crotch. 'Thank god,' he thought, 'I'm standing behind a counter.'
"Absolutely not. I think we'd all like to get to know you better...as a friend and fraternity brother. We all hit it off right away and it'll make Bob feel less like he's a third wheel," Al said with a sincere smile.
"Okay, then. I'll take you up on the offer. If not before, I'll meet you in the showroom a little after eleven," Drew replied with a grin. Al waved goodbye and joined the Harrington sister and brother.
Drew changed out of the uniform white shirt and tie in his small back office in favor of an open neck silk shirt and made it to the Circus Maximus showroom just as the lights were dimming. Antonio, the Maitre d', pointed down to the first tier of horseshoe booths in the front of the 2,000-seat room where he saw the backs of his new friends' heads.
"Hi, guys," he said quietly, easing into the booth to sit next to Bob. Everyone greeted Drew with smiles, whispers and handshaking. He hadn't mentioned that the booth was tight but doable to seat four adults. A little bolt of lightning shot up his body as Drew's leg came into contact with Bob. Neither man made an effort to move.
"I'm glad you could join us, Drew," Bob said into his ear, just as the Amazing Jonathan began his very funny comedic warm-up act before Reba. Knowing the pace of the bookings and production, he wasn't surprised when the comedian took his final bows 22 minutes later. The houselights darkened and a rich, baritone voice came over the speakers. "Ladies and gentlemen, Nero's is proud to present...Reba."
Percussion and guitar could be heard as the curtain was brought up. With the aid of subtle backlighting for illumination, the sold-out audience was aware that the shadowy cluster of musicians on 'stage left' was her backup western band. 'Stage right' contained a large, vaguely recognizable string section, also shrouded in semi-darkness. First, Reba's band started the initial bars of a familiar, signature song. Then, the strings joined the Western ensemble to produce a rich overture. The front stage lighting was slowly brought up.
And in the center, surrounded by billowing smoke that was highlighted by unseen up-lighting, slowly being raised to maximum, brilliance was a grand staircase. The diminutive silhouette of the star was on the top, standing in repose. Reba began singing "You're Goin' Be," as the pink spotlight came up on her and the tightly fitted blue-sequined gown. The audience cheered as the string section kicked in and increased the tempo. Reba descended to the stage, singing her heart out, and the audience was cast under her spell. The entire stage was now spectacularly front-lit as she hit her mark at middle-stage.
Over the next hour, she belted out such hits as, "He gets that from me," "I'm Gonna take that mountain," "Somebody," and "Cathy's Clown." Drew had pre-ordered a magnum of Louis Roederer Cristal that they silently drank throughout the performance. After the show, the party remained in the booth to finish the champagne while the audience filed out.
"This was fantastic," Trish said with a natural effervescence. "What a great way to start our important weekend."
Drew nodded and smiled, as Bob continued, "Buddy, can't thank you enough. This was great fun." At the opposite end of the curved booth, Al smiled and gave a thumbs up.
"Hey, it was fun for me, too," Drew answered with a grin. "I don't get to see the show very often." With the crowds thinning, Al signed the check, added a cash gratuity, and they joined the last of the audience walking up the aisle to the exit of the showroom. Once in the lobby, Al and Trish led the way to the elevators while Bob and Drew informally walked together 10 feet behind.
"Drew, I'm going to make myself disappear tomorrow so that Sis and Al can experience the day and evening by themselves. When Al told me of his plans," Bob said with a smile, "I wanted to come over here to spend a little time with them before they officially became engaged."
"From what I see, they are so right for each other."
"I'll be proud to call him brother-in-law, but as you are probably are aware, Trish and I are twins. We feel things for each other most brothers and sisters never experience. This is an evening of officially acknowledging Sis's new status. Al is taking her into his life as fiance, and later, wife," Bob said with positive solemnity. "This phase of our lives, as siblings, is in final transition. She must first, and foremost, share her emotions with her husband. I must back away for their marriage to succeed."
"That is an endearing sentiment. I think that both Trish and Al are lucky to have you in their lives." Drew was introspective as he looked at Bob.
"So, tomorrow I'm going to make myself scarce. Question. Is there a good health club around here that I could use to work out in the morning? I think I need to burn off a few calories," he replied in a more upbeat manner.
"Jeez, a great one is right here at the hotel."
"Yeah, but I want to get away from here. Plus, I really can't afford to pay spa fees. I'm still interviewing for the right job."
"Hmmm, I understand," Drew answered while they continued to walk through the older part of the casino to the elevators. "Listen, I've got an idea. Why don't you join me late tomorrow morning? I belong to a 24 Hour Fitness Sport off the I-215. I think it's only ten bucks for a guest visit." 'Well, is opportunity knocking?' he wondered. 'I'd love to see what he is packing.'
"Very far from here? I don't have a car."
"Bob, I could swing by the front of the hotel entrance around 10:00 a.m. and pick you up. It's a 10-minute drive. After the workout, we could grab a sandwich at the deli next to the health club. What'd ya think?"
"Sounds like a plan. I'll be at the front at ten with my gear," Bob replied with that grin again. Drew could feel himself melting into the carpet as he said goodbye to all and waved goodnight.
Driving past the water fountains, groomed Cypress trees and Roman statues, Drew arrived promptly at 10:00 a.m. under Nero's massive porte-cochere at the main entrance of the hotel. Standing curbside was Bob, wearing sunglasses and looking gorgeous in his cargo shorts, polo and Nike's. The muscular, tanned limbs were most impressive. Except for a gray UNLV tee, they were dressed similarly. Bob waved when he recognized Drew in the five-year old green Explorer.
"Morning, Drew," he said, easing into the two-door SUV. Bob tossed his gym bag in the back.
"Hi, yourself. You look pretty chipper this morning. I guess you went right to bed last night?"
"I didn't want to bother Sis and Al. I knew that they prolly had other things on their minds," Bob said with a sly grin.
He drove away from the hotel and turned right on Flamingo Road and the nearest freeway entrance south. "It's not too far to the gym. What kind of a workout do you like to do?"
"Just weights and the machines. You?" Bob asked.
"The same, plus some lap swimming."
"Damn, I didn't bring a swimsuit. That would be fun."
"There's a Big 5 sports store in the same complex. You wanna buy one?" he asked. "The usually have Speedo or TYR tank suits on sale." 'Say yes, Bob,' Drew privately pleaded.
"Yeah, I can afford it. Never hurts to have an extra pair on hand," Bob said with a nodding head. "I should explain, Drew, that I come from a pretty typical middle-class family in the Valley. Just enough money to live in modest comfort. Trish and I both went to school on scholarships and I worked two jobs around UCLA for books, room and board. Actually, the only luxury I afforded myself was pledging SAE. Great brothers."
"About the same with me. We've got a great SAE chapter at UNLV. I grew up in Anaheim and have a younger brother who's in his senior year at Cal State, Fullerton. I received a Conrad Hilton scholarship to the hotel school at UNLV and stayed in town after graduation. I've been at Nero's, starting as a trainee, since then." He turned momentarily to look at his passenger, just in time to see Bob staring at his crotch. 'Hmmm,' he considered, 'What's that all about?'
"If you don't mind, Drew, could I ask you some questions about working at Nero's?"
"Naw, it's cool. I'm curious about the question, though," he answered sincerely.
"I've got an interview the week after next with Nero's H.R. department and the marketing VP. I'm really interested in the marketing trainee program. I majored in sales and marketing at UCLA and it seems like I'd learn a lot at a job here," Bob replied energetically. "Plus, it'll be fun."
'Wow,' Drew thought, 'Trish and Bob must take enthusiasm pills every morning.' Drew realized they would be getting off the freeway in two miles and the gym was just a few blocks from the exit. "You think you'd like living in Las Vegas?" he asked with a smile as Drew turned again in his direction. This time their eyes met and they studied each other very briefly.
"I don't know much about the town except it's one of the fastest growing cities in America. You must like it?" he asked as they turned off the freeway and continued to the shopping center that housed the 24 Hour Fitness.
"Ya gotta get away from the strip just to maintain your sanity. I like it here. For the past three years, I've lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment that's furnished in post-college eclectic," Drew said with a laugh. "Put it this way. My place is not going to be showcased in 'Architectural Digest'."
"I have no idea what the pay might be if I'm offered the job as a trainee. Not too much, I would imagine?" Bob said wistfully as they pulled into the shopping center. They parked close to the gym, in that the Big 5 store was only one building away.
"The pay is competitive for the hospitality industry, Bob. But the growth potential is really terrific. I've been at Nero's four years and I'm now a department head, making decent bucks and great benefits," Drew answered as they got out of the Explorer.
"Yeah, I see the growth potential. Gotta maintain the big picture."
Drew opened the sporting goods store door for Bob and pointed the way to the aquatics section. "The swim suits are down half-way on the right," he said, gesturing Bob to walk ahead. His glutes flexed with each step, offering the appearance of a very sexy, confident walk, matched by his well-toned legs and calves. Drew kept on his sunglasses to be less obvious checking out his new friend.
"Jeez," he said, "The suits are really deeply discounted." The Speedo's were on sale for $15.00 versus the regular ticket price of $25.00. Drew noticed Bob looking over the size 34's. Swimmers knew always to buy Speedo's the next size larger. Drew guessed that they were the same 32" waist size.
"And the TYR stuff is going for $12.99. That's almost half-price. I gotta find one for myself," Drew said, looking through the rack behind him. They both found low-cut TYR suits they liked: Bob, in dark blue, and Drew, in bright red.
When they came into the 24 Hour Fitness reception area, Drew recognized one the Nero's bellmen working at the front desk. "Hey, Charlie," he said. "I didn't know you were working here?" They shook hands and Drew gave him the club member card to swipe.
"Need a little more money for school. I do this on weekend mornings." Charlie was a senior at UNLV.
"Meet a friend of mine from L.A. This is Bob," Drew replied as they shook hands. "Is there any chance you could look the other way so Bob can come and work out with me?" He grinned and winked at Charlie.
"Sure. I've got to do a little paperwork for a moment. I'll see you later, Drew, at the hotel."
"Thanks, buddy," he said as they walked back to the locker room. Saturday morning was a very busy time at the club. The rows of Cybex machines, Stairmasters, treadmills, weights, a large classroom going through a Step class, and the pool beyond the large glass windows were all being well used by men and women of all ages and physical shape.
"Wow, this is a terrific facility, Drew," he said as they walked in the locker room. There were a few older men only partially dressed in an animated conversation. At the end of the lockers, however, was a dynamite-looking younger guy with muscled features and a cock that was proudly hanging flaccid at a thick four inches. Drew noticed Bob's mouth almost fall open as he checked out the nude guy just a few moments too long. Bob wasn't aware that he was being observed.
"Here are a couple of lockers. Have you got a lock with you?" Drew asked as they climbed over the stationary benches.
"Yep, no problem," Bob replied. They both sat down the gym bags and opened the lockers. Almost immediately, he peeled off his polo, revealing a buff torso and slightly defined six-pack. There was just small patch of light brown chest hair between his pecs and a subtle start of a treasure trail at his navel. Drew was able to do a fast scan and inventory while Bob lifted the polo over his head. 'Fucking wow,' he thought, pulling off his tee. 'Brother Bob is really put together.'
"Why don't we do machines, first?" Drew asked as he dropped his shorts, revealing the absence of any underwear.
"Okay, brother commando," Bob said with a chortle. "Looks like we're dressing alike in more ways than one," he concluded, as he pulled down his cargo shorts, revealing a trimmed pubic area and respectable package. Drew concluded that they were probably similarly endowed with a respectable six inches.
"I figure that it saves time dressing and undressing when you go to the gym." Drew could feel his new friend's eyes checking him out as he rummaged in the gym bag for a jock and shorts. They both dressed in a routine of putting on a jock, shorts, muscle tee, socks and, finally, shoes.
When they returned to the gym floor, Drew suggested that they go to their favorite machines and meet a half hour later in the weights room. Bob agreed and they separated to do their routines. At the appointed hour, the sweat-drenched guys re-grouped in the weights room and worked on their arms. Drew was pretty comfortable with 25# hand weights but Bob naturally gravitated to 35 pounders. The guns on him were hot. Later, they lifted and spotted for each other. Conversationally, the fraternity brothers were finding levels of similarity and comfort as an early bonding occurred.
"Well, bro, are you ready for the pool and some steam?" Drew asked.
"Hell, yes. Let's break in the new suits," Bob replied as they returned to the locker room and stripped. The familiarity that was established now included no modesty. They knew each other's bodies well enough not to be driven by curiosity. The form-fitting blue and red tank suits accentuated their assets and several guys looked at them approvingly as they showered to wash off the sweat before entering the pool area.
"You want to do some laps with me? I usually do about 15 minutes freestyle and then relax in the steam room." The guys were sharing a wide double-lane.
"Cool. I may not do as many but I'll jump in the Jacuzzi while you finish up," Bob replied with a smile. Then he positioned the goggles he had borrowed from Drew and pushed off. Drew did the same and got lost in aqua world for the next 15 minutes as he leisurely swam back and forth.
Coming up at the end of the swimming workout, he stood and saw Bob in the Jacuzzi. Drew waved, climbing out of the pool. "Ready for some steam?" he asked, walking over to the side of the bubbling tub.
"Yeah, I really relaxed the muscles." As Bob stepped out of the Jacuzzi, Drew admired the way the wet suit clung to his friend's crotch. The mushroom head was really pronounced.
Drew filled an empty bottle with water and poured the water on the thermostat when they entered the tepid room. "The club management isn't keen on using water on the thermostat, but this will kick up the temp in no time," he said as they both sat on the top level near each other. The steam immediately ignited.
"I've really had a great time this morning, Drew. Getting to know a new friend is special," Bob said as his leg casually moved slightly and rested against his workout partner.
"Good friends are hard to find. I feel the same way." He very slightly moved his leg up and down against Bob's. While they looked at each other, the spell was broken when an older man opened the door and sat down below them. Drew raised an eyebrow, expressing disappointment, and asked, "Why don't we shower, pick up sandwiches and go over to my place? It'll give you a chance to see a pretty typical neighborhood and apartment."
"I'd enjoy that very much," Bob replied with a grin. Although camouflaged by the steam, Drew thought he picked up a subtle expression of lustfulness.