Bob spent the next two weeks moving from one office to the next to learn how the Nero's sales and marketing department worked. Since marketing would be his specialty, an overview exposure to hotel sales was brief. In the evenings he divided his time between his comp suite at the hotel and Drew's old apartment.
He learned that the marketing wing of the hotel was responsible creating events to bring in gamblers. Aside from the internationally famous poker tournaments, planning centered on monthly promotions involving professional football, fights, racing, baccarat and keno. Bob was amazed at the lead-time needed to coordinate an event.
Every Wednesday, there was a sales and marketing meeting so that the entire department would be up to speed on all the activities in planning. Everyone was getting a little restless as the final point of the agenda was brought up for discussion. It was just before lunch hour.
"Okay, Bob, let's review what we'll need from purchasing," Rich Vincent said. Rich was manager of events and coordinated all the components of a special promotion. He was also Bob's boss.
"Do we have the design back for the jackets?" Mike Diamond asked. As VP of the department, he would routinely sit in on weekly planning sessions. The winter poker tournament was three months out and all of the special promotional material needed to be approved. Each poker entrant would receive a complimentary road jacket with Nero's logo and the event stitched into the material.
"Here's the sketches," Bob remarked as he handed Mike the design book. "The leather sleeves will add fifty bucks to the cost."
"Meaning?' Mike said as he flipped the pages of the sketches.
"With vinyl, the jacket will net out at $79.00. One thirty with leather. The design knockoff is coming from Malaysia but we've specified extra stitching." Bob was proud that he was able to hold his own in his first presentation.
"Whaduya think, Rich? We'll have 500 entries in the tourney. That's an additional twenty-five grand to the budget," Mike said.
"This year's group will feature the best players. Since ESPN and Bravo have been airing the celebrity poker reality shows, viewer interest is really building steam."
"I just signed a contract with ESPN to broadcast five hours live over the weekend of the tournament. We're going to have major exposure." Mike nodded his head and flipped through the designs one final time.
"With leather, the jackets will be a real status symbol. And the casino department expects the increase in the entry fee will be paid without hesitation. I say, go for it," Rich replied with enthusiasm.
"Very well, leather it is." Mike smiled and stood up from the conference table. "Bob, work out all the details with purchasing. Add an additional 100 promo jackets for the boss. I'll sign off on it." The president of the casino always liked high quality gifts to offer VIP high rollers.
"You got it, Mike. Anything else?"
"Guys, that's it. Good job." He gave Rich and Bob a nod and left the room. The rest of the staff collectively sighed, shuffled papers and started talking in small groups. Most of the immediate decisions revolved around where to go for lunch.
"You did well, Bob. I sense that Mike was pleased with your work. And you made me look good," Rich said with a chuckle.
"Wanna grab lunch in the cafeteria?" Bob asked.
"Naw, but thanks for your offer. I've got to get over to 'M and E' and wrap up the performers for the event." Music and Entertainment contracted everything that was presented in the showroom, lounges and special events. "I think we've got the Dixie Chicks lined up."
"Cool. I'm going to get a fast sandwich and work with purchasing this afternoon on finalizing everything that's been approved." Bob shook Rich's hand and dropped off everything on his desk before going downstairs to the cafeteria. He noticed that it was 12:40 p.m. on the wall clock. 'Whew,' he thought, 'no wonder I'm so hungry.'
The line wasn't too long and he found a vacant table against the wall. At that hour, most in the cafeteria were first-shift casino staff on their last break before going home at three. Bob busied himself re-arranging his sandwich and salad and didn't see anyone by his table until he felt a presence and observed a slight shadow of someone standing near.
"Hi, mind if I join you?" asked a youngish, nervous voice. Bob looked up and scanned a short, good-looking young man in street clothes at the edge of the table.
"Um, yeah." Bob said and acknowledged the guy with a nod. He did register that there were plenty of empty tables as the twenty-ish blond sat his tray on the table opposite Bob and sat down. 'Hmm,' he thought, 'I've seen this guy around a few places this past week.'
"I'm Jerry Blackburn and work in the casino. Was just hired last month and I'm training to be a dealer." He sat down, reached over and offered his hand for a shake.
"Bob Harrington. Ya got me beat by two weeks. I just started in sales and marketing." He shook the extended hand and smiled. "Man, you musta hit the lottery. I know that there's a line a mile long wanting to be a dealer."
"Um, got lucky, I guess," Jerry replied as his eyes shifted around the room. "I need the money pretty bad to clear up some, ah, student loans."
"Well, good luck. You should be able to make some good bread after training." Bob was a little put off by Jerry's uneasiness.
"Thanks. I err, also saw you at a bar last week," Jerry replied with a weak smile. "The Badlands."
"Yep, I was there. A friend wanted to show me a western joint. I'm from L.A. so it was definitely a new experience." Bob wondered exactly where this conversation was going. "And, Jerry, before you say anything else...yes, I know it's a gay bar. And yes, I'm gay."
"I'm not being very diplomatic, am I? I wasn't trying to 'out' you," Jerry said with a shrug. "When I saw you in the cafeteria, I wanted to stop, say 'hi' and get to know you." Jerry casually extended his leg so that his calf brushed against Bob's leg.
"I'm not going to be diplomatic, at all. It's not wise for you to be physically hitting on me in the Nero's staff cafeteria," Bob replied as he pulled away his leg.
"I'm sorry, Bob. You're pretty hot and I just forgot myself. We, ah, could continue this conversation after work at my place? I really would like to get to know you...better, if ya get my drift."
"You're pretty hot yourself and I get your drift. But that doesn't mean that we should hop in the sack and fuck like rabbits," Bob said a little sternly. "You always come on this strong to a stranger? It's not like this is a pickup joint."
"Hey, I figured you might like a little action. I know I would." Jerry raised his voice a little and appeared somewhat desperate.
"Shhh, cool it, man," Bob said as he looked around. "I mean, I figure you're a horny dude, but you're on some kinda mission."
"Na...na...no, I jest thought it'd be fun to get a little with you." Jerry tried to mask sudden panic with a forced smile.
"Bullshit, pal. Now spill. What gives?" Bob grabbed Jerry's hand when Jerry started to leave the table. "Sit down and tell me what's going down."
"Oh, fuck, this didn't turn out the way I thought it would," Jerry mumbled. "I need the money bad and I was told that it would be easy." Jerry looked down at the tabletop and sighed.
"Okay, here's the deal. You either tell me the whole story or I'm going to human resources and complain that you sexually harassed me. Understand? There'll be no fucking job. Nada. What gives?" Bob spoke very low and deliberate as his eyes pierced into the recesses of Jerry's mind.
"Someone gave me five $100 bills, cut in half. If I got you over to an apartment, I would receive the other half of the bills. All I'd have to do is tape them together and exchange them at a bank. He said it was a simple practical joke."
"Who's the 'he'? What's the name? Trust me, this is no practical joke. After what I've been through recently, this is a very serious matter." Bob stared intently with a 'don't fuck with me' expression.
"Um, his name is...Trent. Trent Bosco," Jerry mumbled. His body just went limp with the release of the information.
"Give me all the details...now. My patience is wearing thin."
"I was supposed to get you over to this apartment tonight. The idea was to call him a half-hour before we would actually get there. He said there was some sort of surprise party for you. That's all I know, Bob."
"I'll buy that. But how did Bosco get his hooks into you? I have a funny feeling that you got the casino job for services rendered. Am I close?"
"Shit, you don't make this easy, do you?"
"Not when my life is possibly on the line," Bob retorted a little heatedly.
"Life? Whadda fuck..."
"Okay, here's the deal. I needed the job bad and Trent arranged for me to get it if I would, um...cooperate."
"Cooperate as in getting fucked? Am I getting closer?"
"Too close. I'm not proud that I put out for him and took that monster cock of his a couple of times. What I didn't count on was him taking pictures of us. Bosco called me last week and threatened to show them to my girlfriend if I didn't play this little joke on you."
"Some fucking joke. So you're not gay?"
"I guess 'gay for pay' comes closest to what happened. I needed the job and decided to take it up the rear. Believe me, I couldn't sit down for a couple of days. Christ, this is embarrassing. I think I wanna marry that girl someday."
"Jerry, what happened to you almost was my story. Here's what we're going to do. You're coming with me to security. I'll tell you what happened to me on the way down."
"Security? Oh, fuck...will I be fired?"
"Naw. If you're up front, I'll cover you for you. Let's go." Bob and Jerry stood and left the untouched food on the table. As they made their way to the security offices, Bob had the funny feeling he was being followed. However, he couldn't pinpoint anyone in particular. By the time they entered the security area he felt reasonably safe.
"So you waited at this apartment for an hour?" Drew asked. He and Bob were over at his apartment amongst the boxes and packing paper. Moving day was six days away. They were sitting on a couch, sipping a Bud. It was just after 11:00 p.m.
"Jim Duncan set up everything with Las Vegas Metro. This guy, Jerry, called the number and said that we'd be at the apartment at 6:30 p.m. We got there and waited...and waited."
"Sounds like Bosco was tipped off," Drew said.
"That's my read. What's strange is I had this feeling that we were being watched when I walked with Jerry down to security."
"How about at the apartment?"
"It was really spooky. There was no furniture in the place. However, we spotted rope, electrical tape and a few ski masks in the bedroom. The cops asked us not to touch anything."
"My guess is that Bosco pulled away and disappeared...again. How about this Jerry guy? He must be freaked?" Drew asked.
"Freaked? Yeah, that's mild. He's actually a pretty nice guy who got sucked into something bigger than he could ever imagine. Jim Duncan told me that the police are covering his ass with undercover, also. And we traded cell numbers."
"From what you said, it's a shame he didn't have his ass covered when Bosco lured him into his web," Drew said with a chuckle.
"I'm 90% sure Jerry doesn't want to join our club. He's kinda cute, though." Bob hoisted his beer and nodded.
"Yeah. I kept getting a small blip on the gaydar screen. However, nothing to pinpoint. And if he wasn't stalking me, what was he doing in Badlands? I told him to call if I could help with anything."
"And Duncan said that Metro was stepping up our surveillance?"
"Yeah, covered real well...for the time being. Although I think I could cover your ass better." Bob put down his beer bottle on the cluttered coffee table and snuggled closer to Drew.
"Be careful what you wish for, buddy," Drew growled. "Yada, yada, yada..." His bottle joined Bob's and he brought his hand up to Bob's face to turn it towards him. "Your wish is granted." He leaned over and brought his lips to meet Bob's.
"You must be the fairy godmo..." The two men engaged in a familiar lip lock and raced to see whose tongue would gain entry.
Drew inwardly smiled as Bob yielded to his deep plunge. "Mmmm," he groaned as the two tongues twirled and darted at each other. 'I think that I'm falling for this guy in a big way,' he thought as his hands started massaging Bob's pecs.
"Hey, buddy, watch those fingers," Bob yelped when Drew pinched his nipples. "You're on thin ice." With the speed of a poised panther he took Drew's hands, pushed them back, turned and landed on Drew's torso. While straddling a helpless body, Bob started mercilessly tickling Drew.
"Oh, fuck. You asshole, I'll get you," Drew yelled as he squirmed.
"You can get me but ya gotta earn it," Bob yelled back with a laugh. The two guys continued a friendly tickle fest with playful wrestling as they rolled to the floor. They barely missed knocking over the coffee table and the beers. After a few playful moments, Drew bested his friend, landed on top and pinned Bob down.
"Whaduya think? Did I earn it," Drew said as he smiled and licked his lips.
"Buddy, let's go into the bedroom and find out. I got something that you're going to like." Drew leaned down and passionately kissed Bob. He could feel Bob's erection struggling for freedom as his butt glazed over Bob's covered crotch. Drew was sympathetic; he was in the same condition.
"Since you put it that way, champ, I'm ready," Bob replied after pulling away from Drew's wet, smothered smooch.
"Let's check the drama at the door. There's only one man I want to concentrate on," Drew said as he stood up. He offered his hand and helped his good friend up.
"That would be 'moi'?" Bob said, batting his eyelashes. "Ah declare, Mr. Reichardt...I want to make sure your intentions are honorable?"
"Honorable? Honey, my hard cock wants to have its way with you." Drew snickered and led Bob into the partially packed bedroom. They turned to each other and mirrored each other's movements removing their shirts, pants, briefs and socks. Within moments they stood face-to-face, nude with throbbing erections.
"Over here." Bob took Drew's hand and walked slowly over to the bed. Bob scooted onto the mattress on his back and invited Drew to join him. "Buddy, I want you to make serious love to me." He looked at Drew for a reaction.
"Serious love? I like that." Drew smiled and moved over with his leg inter-twining Bob's. "This is serious love, babe." He looked deeply into Bob's eyes and observed a dreamy look.
"That's it, isn't it? I love you...clear 'n' simple. I want to be with you for a long time, babe." Bob looked back at Drew and grinned. He wrapped his arms around Drew and hugged tightly.
"Me, too. I guess we're saying what we've been feeling for a while?" Drew asked as he started nibbling on Bob's earlobes.
"Mmmm, you know how to ring my chimes. There you go with that amazing tongue of yours in my ears. Oh, fuck, man, does that turn me on," Bob said while he wiggled, molding the two bodies closer.
"I do love you and will defend you from any evil that comes to harm you," Drew whispered. He started kissing his way down Bob's neck to a very vulnerable chest. Drew stopped at Bob's nipples and lightly teased one, then the other, with his teeth.
"Oh, Drew, let's worry about everything else tomorrow. Right now I want you in me, big boy."
"I wouldn't exactly call you a midget," Drew said as he grabbed Bob's raging erection that was leaking pre-cum. "This hard fucker is going to become a very good friend." He slowly moved down past Bob's navel and started tonguing the wet cockhead.
"What's mine is yours, lover. Oh, yeah, suck it." Bob squirmed and placed his hands on Drew's head. "Just a little...I don't want to go over the edge."
"Got the message." Drew slowly took Bob's hardon completely until his nose was pushing against Bob's trimmed pubes. Once the cock was lodged in place deep in his throat, Drew tenderly massaged Bob's shaved scrotum. He rolled each orb in his hands as he methodically bobbed up and down. After the fourth pass, he withdrew and winked at Bob.
"Fuck me, baby." Bob smiled and handed Drew the lube and a condom. "I'm ready."
"I'm ready. Just make sure that you save some energy for tomorrow morning. I've got an itch, too." Drew grinned and slowly covered his cock with the latex sheath.
"Buddy, I've got all the energy in the world for you. Now, take me."
Wearing only a tee and boxer shorts, Drew made coffee while Bob showered and shaved. Bob had to be off to work at 8:30 a.m. but Drew didn't have to go in until eleven. He was one contented man; Bob had reciprocated an hour ago and his itch had gone away. 'Man, can he find new areas of arousal,' Drew thought as he poured two cups of coffee. He padded back to the bedroom and entered the bath.
"To the rescue. Thanks." Bob smiled and accepted the cup of hot, black coffee. He had just finished shaving and still had a towel wrapped around his waist. "I could get used to this." He winked and took a first sip.
"Plan on it. I was very serious about what I said last night." Drew studied his newly minted lover and brought the cup to his lips.
"Me, too. I guess it's official when, in the early morning without the heat of the moment, we can say those simple, dangerous words. Well, babe, I love you...plain and simple." Bob leaned over and gave Drew a light peck on the lips.
"I wish we could run over to one of those wedding chapels on the strip and tie the knot."
"How about an Elvis wedding," Bob said with a laugh. Drew smiled at all the Elvis impersonators that made a living conducting weddings.
"How about a quiet dinner at a neat restaurant tonight? I can get off around eight and we could go someplace romantic. Maybe Valentino's at the Venetian?"
"Cool. Make reservations and I'll meet you there. I guess this means we're engaged?" Bob asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh, I think we've gone beyond an engagement. I reckon we're ready to figure out how this partnership is going to work."
"Partnership? Yeah, I like that. Let's talk about that over breakfast. Give me a chance to get dressed and I'll meet you in five. Okay, lover?" Bob beamed with affection at Drew.
"Better than okay. Cereal and bananas, then." Drew winked and returned to the kitchen. He poured juice, sliced bananas and filled the bowls with raisin bran. 'This guy is the real deal,' he thought. Drew couldn't wait to call his brother and tell him the good news.
"Reporting as ordered," Bob said a few minutes later. He lightly pecked Drew on the cheek and poured a second cup of coffee before joining Drew at the table.
"This is a nice routine I'm going to have fun getting used to," Drew replied.
"Which? A fuck, coffee or breakfast?" Bob asked with a laugh.
"All of the above. Seriously, you make me a very happy guy." Drew took Bob's hand and squeezed it.
"Ditto. We just gotta get this move completed and resolve the other stuff."
"Yeah, I agree." Drew knew what he meant by 'other stuff'. "Jim Duncan and his staff are all over the Bosco thing. And our security setup has been installed at the new place. Your household arrives tomorrow and I plan on moving more stuff at the same time. I figure that we can get everything arranged the way we like it this weekend."
"I got tomorrow off to meet the movers. Why don't I come back with you tonight after dinner and bring some old clothes. That way I can take some of your shit when I go over to meet the van?"
"You goin' to need help?"
"Naw. I'll just tell the movers where to place everything. You and I discussed roughly where everything would go. I figure that you can do more packing and shuttle clothes and boxes over while I organize my stuff. We'll still rent a truck on Saturday and move the bedroom suite over?"
"And probably the entertainment center plus the other furniture we decided would go. Charlie will meet us here at 9:00 a.m."
"Great. We can use another hand. And I like Charlie."
"Yeah, good man. Strange about him and Bosco," Drew said.
"Promise me that you won't mention what I told you," Bob replied with a worried expression and wrinkled brow.
"Buddy, cross my heart. Whatever you say to me in confidence, and vice versa, goes no further. Our partnership is based on trust, as well as unqualified love."
"I know. It's just that this whole relationship thing is so new. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have even suggested that you would say anything."
"It's new for both of us. Trust, being honest, relying on each other, being respectful of each other, knowing when to allow your privacy...these are all things that we'll discuss. If something I do bugs you, let me know. I'll do the same 'cause there's nothing worse than harboring anger or hurt."
"I'm open to those discussions. I want to get to a point that I know you so well I can automatically finish your sentences."
"Babe, I look forward to setting up our first place. Old, new, borrowed and..."
"Nothing blue. Taupe's as far as I can go." Bob laughed and slapped Drew on the back.
"Unless it's blew...as in blow job." Drew winked and grabbed Bob's jaw.
"That's a completely different story. However tempting, I'm off to work. I'll call your office this afternoon and coordinate the timing of this incredible romantic dinner with you, stud." Bob stood and Drew joined him.
"I look forward to many mornings like this," Drew said as he pulled Bob closer.
"And evenings, too." They paused, kissed each other with reserved passion, and Bob left the kitchen area." Drew walked behind him and patted Bob on the buns.
"See ya, babe." They waved at each other and Drew watched as Bob jumped into his Toyota and drove off. He felt relieved when he saw an unmarked car with two men following Bob. He was also aware that there was another detail of men somewhere nearby.