An executive office secretary called the apartment at 8:30 a.m. and asked if it was convenient for Drew to come in early for an 11:00 a.m. meeting with Nero's VP of operations. 'Fuck,' he thought, 'convenient is the last thing you think of if the big guy calls you at home.'
As he drove to the meeting, he was pretty sure that there was change in the air; Bill, the hotel resident manager, had been caught on the upstroke with some bimbo in a vacant suite. It happened when the director of housekeeping walked in on them while on a routine rooms inspection earlier in the week. 'Well, no gold watch for Bill,' Drew thought cynically. He liked Bill but knew his sexual antics wouldn't have gone unnoticed forever. The resident manager's office had been cleared out the day before.
He pulled into the general staff parking lot and walked briskly to the employee entrance. After scanning his employee badge and nodding at the security guard, Drew proceeded up to the hotel lobby and the private elevator that would take him up to the epicenter of Nero's. Once in the cab, he pushed the only button available and waited for the elevator to ascend to corporate Valhalla. The doors parted and Drew walked into a non-descript foyer void of everything except a security camera and a card scanner by the unmarked door. He swiped his card and waited. A green light alerted him to open the door.
"Good morning, Drew. Mr. Maggiano is expecting you," said the attractive receptionist from behind her massive desk. Drew walked into the screening area set off by plush carpeting, walnut paneling and original French and American abstract art. Leger and Chagall hung comfortably with LeRoy Neiman's casino series. She smiled and buzzed open the thick, bulletproof glass door to the inner sanctum.
"Thanks." Drew straightened his tie and pulled open the heavy door. A wide, 15' long hallway displayed more art. He walked past the first secretary, nodded and made his way to the next reception area. The executive office housed the president of the casino, chief legal counsel, VP of the casino and VP of operations. It was also the location of the legendary conference room that was completely lined with lead to bar any listening devices from picking up conversations. This feature had originally been installed during Nero's less-than-pristine past.
"Drew, go right in," the secretary said, standing up to open the door. "Would you like anything to drink?"
"Water would be fine." Drew entered the large office and walked over to the desk where Nick Maggiano was intently typing an email. Drew admired this man.
"Hi, Drew. Please sit. I'll only be a minute. The boss needs an immediate reply," Nick said with his eyes glued to the 19" flat screen above the keyboard. Silently, a bottle of Evian was placed on a coaster in front of Drew.
"Yes, Sir." Drew knew that the 'boss' only meant one man: the president of Nero's. He uncapped the bottle and took a sip of water. Drew admired the trim, handsome man in his mid-thirties. He was aware that Mr. Maggiano came from a grape-growing family in Northern California and had worked his way through the ranks at Nero's after he attended UNLV's hotel school.
"Okay, let's get right to the point," Nick said as he hit 'send'. "As you're aware, there has been...a sudden vacancy in my department."
"I noticed the empty resident manager's office yesterday." Drew decided not to editorialize or offer opinions. He also thought it a little odd that the term 'resident' was still used; a manager actually living in residence at the hotel was from a long-gone past era.
Let's just say that Bill is seeking other opportunities. So I've got an immediate opening and need to find a hard charger who knows the rooms department." Nick smiled and sat back in his leather chair. "I want to give you a chance to be our new resident manager. To take the ball and run with it, so to speak."
"I, um, jeez, I'd love the opportunity, Mr. Maggiano." Drew was clearly surprised. "Do you think I'm ready?"
"First, it's Nick. Second, I can tell you that the senior staff you work with are very pleased at the way you conduct yourself...as are the line employees. I'm also aware that you always make things happen when the casino VP needs a miracle. In our end of the hotel business, making the casino division happy is rule number one and you come through in spades."
"Yes, um, Nick. Stan Lasky and I work well together." Drew had never considered that Lasky, VP of the casino, would have an effect on his position. 'Wow,' he thought, 'I just advanced my career timeline by four years.' At 26 years of age, he hadn't thought a promotion like this would be possible until he was 30.
"Stan and I had dinner last night. He'd love to see you in that seat." Nick smiled with a 'why the hell are you even hesitating?' expression.
"I guess I'd be stupid not to jump at this chance. So the answer is yes. I accept your offer although I guess I'm not so sharp at negotiations on salary and perks," Drew replied slyly.
"Maybe that works in your favor. I actually have guidelines, Drew. But in your case, I'm prepared to give you about a 10% bump over the recommended base 50k salary, plus laundry privileges, gas card and a parking space underground...just for openers. There are some other goodies that we can discuss, later."
"Nick, not having to get into my car in the middle of August is worth the price of admission alone," Drew replied with a chuckle.
"I hear you. When I started here as a front desk clerk, I dreaded the late afternoon 'bun roast' when I would get into the car during summer." Nick threw his head back and joined the laughter.
"When would I start?"
"The promotion takes place immediately and I'll announce it in an email blast this afternoon. You need to figure out who'll be your replacement and work with H.R. Speaking of H.R. and the ex-director, how are things going with you and Bob Harrington?"
"We're keeping our eyes open." Drew was cautious in his answer. Although he was 'out' at the job, he didn't want to get into too much detail about his personal relationship with Bob. "Thanks for approving the extra security on our apartment. It gives both of us some peace of mind. I really won't let my guard down until that, um...guy is found."
"If you were thinking 'asshole', I agree," Nick said with a smile. "Be assured that you guys' safety is utmost in my mind. What Bosco's doing is deplorable. Now let's get down to the details of your promotion."
For the next 15 minutes, Nick outlined the employment agreement that would be drafted and some rough thoughts about goals he had in mind for Drew to develop into an action plan.
Drew could hardly contain his excitement as he stood to leave the exalted atmosphere of his bosses' office. He vigorously pumped Nick's hand and promised that he would give the new position 110%.
"I have no doubt that you'll succeed, Drew. We've all been watching you. The boss looks at this position as a grooming job for more responsibility down the road." Nick held Drew's hand and placed his other hand over their shake for emphasis.
"I won't let you down," Drew said, withdrawing his hand. He smiled and turned to leave the office. 'I also need to reassess my personal career goals,' he thought, exiting the plush surroundings of executive power and privilege.
He arrived at the reception area and elevator with some immediate chores in mind: a call to Bob, an impromptu early afternoon department meeting in the vacant resident manager's office to give his co-workers a 'heads up' on his new job and scheduling another concierge to come in and cover the remaining hours of his last guest services shift. Drew waved goodbye to the receptionist. The elevator doors opened and he stepped into the brass and walnut cab to descend back to the real world.
Sitting in a lobby chair against the wall opposite the executive office elevator was a blond guy with mustache reading the Daily Racing Form. The tennis visor, dark sunglasses, camera on a strap, polo shirt and jeans was an image that blended into the continuous movement of hotel guests and visitors. To the casual observer he was a tourist not unlike the thousands that arrived in Las Vegas hourly.
Trent Bosco had spent the past month creating a new identity in his quest to pay back the two men who had wreaked havoc with his now defunct career. His mission was basic: alter the way Drew Reichardt and Bob Harrington lived...forever.
Creating a new identity hadn't been difficult. Through contacts in the underbelly of Las Vegas, he had been able to obtain a social security number and drivers license that provided him a new name. With a U-Haul truck and rig to tow his car, Trent moved all of his possessions to California. He drained his Nevada bank account with a lump cash withdrawal and proceeded to establish a permanent, altered life when he arrived in West Hollywood.
He found a cheap apartment and blended into the gay landscape. A visit to Mickey's bar on Santa Monica Boulevard allowed him to cruise the guys until he found someone who had passable, blond, professionally colored hair. Buying the twink a beer and some friendly conversation gave Trent the name of a colorist and an aggressive tumble in the sack with the young guy.
Two days later, Trent was in a stylist's chair in an upscale salon on the fringes of Beverly Hills. Anton gave him a new look that included lightened eyebrows and moustache. Satisfied that he could move around Vegas unrecognized, he returned to Sin City and rented a room by the week.
Trent's first effort to draw Bob Harrington into a trap hadn't worked. 'That little shithead, Jerry,' he fumed, peering from behind the paper as he watched the executive office elevator doors. 'I hope his girlfriend enjoyed the pictures.' He dismissed Jerry Franz as someone who had no further value in his plans. 'No, the boys will have a little surprise from me some evening at their new apartment.'
His eyes widened when the elevator doors parted and a very happy Drew Reichardt exited. Drew had a spring in his step walking across the lobby to the front desk area. 'You'll get yours, asshole,' Trent thought. 'What a worthless suck up.'
He visually followed Drew to the guest services desk where Drew picked up the telephone. Within moments he observed Drew laughing and speaking in a highly animated fashion. Trent could only imagine to whom his nemesis was engaged in conversation. Just then, he noticed Charlie rounding the corner with a luggage cart. Trent buried himself in the racing paper and made a hasty exit when Charlie greeted a newly checked-in guest.
With the employment agreement, Nick Maggiano had tucked in the envelope a Neiman Marcus gift certificate for Drew to buy five Giorgio Armani suits, two- dozen Burberry shirts and an assortment of Ferragamo ties. Drew smiled when he realized two things: there was no dollar value to the certificate and the specified brands were those that Nick usually wore.
So as not to embarrass Bob, Drew drove over alone to Fashion Show mall one afternoon to shop. Nick insisted that he specifically ask for Rod Liddy at the store. What Drew didn't realize was that Mr. Liddy was the regional VP for Neiman Marcus. He spent a delightful hour with the executive in his mid-thirties and wasn't surprised when Rod told him that the suits and accessories would be delivered to his office in two days. Accessories included a couple of belts, suspenders, socks and three pairs of Cole Hahn shoes. However, Drew was a little taken back when Rod mentioned that the shoes were a little 'thank you' gift for the business.
The next two weeks moved at warp speed. After a quiet, celebratory dinner with Bob at Commander's Palace, the two guys divided their time between the demands of their jobs, pulling together the apartment and arranging for their housewarming party.
The party was scheduled so that 'the girls', as Brenda and Scarlett were now called, could attend. They asked if they could bring a couple of co-worker showgirls who were lovers and the male dancers who lived in the complex. Drew and Bob figured there would be eye candy for all and instantly extended invitations.
Drew was nervously excited that his brother Jason could take off a few days and visit Las Vegas to meet Bob and be part of the festivities. Bob added to the family flavor by inviting sister Trish and Al Bromley, Jr., for the weekend and party. Since Jason would be their houseguest, Drew arranged for Trish and Al to stay at Nero's.
The weekend before the party, Bob and Drew double-teamed to work both sides of the family. Saturday lunch was with Trish and Al, while the dinner was reserved for Jason. With lunch, the foursome got to know each other better. However, dinner at the apartment was a male bonding experience between Bob and the Reichardt brothers.
The younger Reichardt immediately welcomed a friendship with Bob. Conversation flowed between the three guys as if they had known each other forever while they demolished the grilled steaks and emptied a couple bottles of cabernet sauvignon. Jason shared a few embarrassing details about his childhood years with Drew and Bob topped the stories with a few secrets from his past. By the time the guys stumbled into their respective bedrooms, all agreed that Jason and Bob would be honorary brothers.
Drew decided that a replay of the Bellagio buffet brunch was in order on Sunday. When he called his buddy, Rudy - Rudolpho the Maitre' d - to invite him and a guest to the party, Drew made reservations for the expanded family group.
"Is this going to be a guys only party or should I bring my girlfriend?" Rudy asked. Drew had always been 'out' to Rudy and being 'one of the boys' for a night on the town had never been a problem for Rudy. More than once he had ended up with Drew at Good Times and danced with his good friend for hours.
"Absolutely, bring a gal. Trish and Al are going to be at the party. Is this a friend or something serious?"
"Serious enough to be shopping for rings. She said yes a couple of weeks ago."
"Congrats, buddy. That's great. It'll give me a chance to introduce you to the special person in my life tomorrow morning."
"No shit? I assume that you mean special guy. You haven't switched over, have you?" Rudy said with a chuckle.
"You mean to the 'dark side'? Naw, Bob is definitely a red-blooded, All-American, gay male. We're officially partners and he's my roomie. The party Monday night is kind of a celebration on several levels."
"Jeez, a new guy, new apartment and a new job. By the way, I'm really happy for you and the promotion. The alumni newsletter will play it up big."
"Thanks. I'm a lucky guy."
"Lucky? Well, maybe finding the right guy. But the job you earned. Everyone on the Strip respects you, Drew. I'm really happy for you."
"Okay, okay...enough. I'll see you tomorrow morning around 11:00 a.m. and then at the party Monday night. Try to be at the apartment around six. We'll have plenty of food but I'm going to pull the plug around nine. It's a workday for most of us."
"Fair enough. See ya tomorrow."
Predictably, Al, Trish, Bob, Jason and Drew had a great time at brunch. Over smoked salmon - Drew hated to call the elegant Scottish smoked salmon "lox" - and champagne, the 'in-laws' loosened up. Al and Trish invited Jason and a date to join them at their Westwood condo for dinner in the future. All in all, the weekend was a success. Just one more event: the party.
"Well, Hon, if all the RSVP's show up we should have around 30 guests," Drew said. He was mixing the German potato salad ingredients by hand before returning it to the low-temp oven. Just before dinner, he would stir the vinegar-based dressing into the potatoes and sprinkle extra bacon on the top. The party was called for 6:00 p.m. with a casual buffet dinner starting around seven.
"I hope the food doesn't run out." Bob had meticulously threaded 100 skewers with cut chunks of dark chicken meat for the satays with peanut sauce.
"Naw, we're in good shape. And we've got enough white wine and beer to float a battleship." They decided to limit the beverages to white wine, beer and Pellegrino sparkling water to avoid possible stains on the carpet. However, if the bosses showed up, Drew and Bob could discretely offer a vodka martini or scotch. Drew had invited Nick Maggiano; Bob asked Rich Vincent, his immediate supervisor from marketing.
"It's too late to worry about it now. I just hope that everyone appreciates that we're serving chili without beans," Bob said with a laugh.
"Gasless dinners? Is this in the spirit of energy conservation?"
"I'll gas you tonight in your empty tank." Bob went over to the sink and kissed Drew on the neck from behind. "It'll be a smashing time. Kind of a warm up for a Christmas party." They had decided to have a holiday party for their co-workers.
The appointed hour arrived, and true to everyone wanting to be fashionably late, the first guest arrived at 6:15 p.m. Over the next 15 minutes, almost everyone showed up with bottles of wine, houseplants and kitchen tchatchkes. Drew smiled when he happily accepted the fourth wine bottle opener.
Drew was very pleased when Charlie and Jerry arrived together. They had both received separate invitations with a request to 'bring someone special'. Separately, Bob and Drew offered encouraging comments about developing friendships to the couple. Jerry seemed to be at ease with the new relationship and Charlie couldn't stop grinning like the cat that got the canary. In this case, it was the college man who captivated a hot, blond stud.
Shortly thereafter, Rich Vincent, Bob's supervisor in marketing, arrived with his statuesque wife. The formality of an arrival was thrown into shambles when Rich's wife recognized the tall showgirls in the living room. Unknown to Bob, Betty Vincent was also in the Parisian review and worked nightly with Brenda and Scarlett and two others who been invited by 'the girls'. The women looked ravishing and none was less than 5' 10".
The four 'boy' dancers who lived in the complex presented a buff and athletic image. Although Drew thought one guy was a tad bit nelly, he more than compensated by presenting a sexy image with a light, ribbed tee that showed off his chiseled, taut torso and low-rise designer jeans that hugged his molded buns.
The final guests showed up at 6:45 p.m. Drew opened the door and was happily surprised to see Nick Maggiano, in casual clothes, standing next to a very handsome Rod Liddy. The Neiman Marcus executive looked years younger without his pinstripes, Drew observed.
"Hi, Drew. Thanks for including me. I think you know my friend, Rod?"
"Nick, I'm really happy you could make it. Rod, this is a very pleasant surprise." Drew couldn't help but wonder what sort of friendship this was.
"We're full of surprises," Nick said with a grin. "Oh, here's a little something for your wine collection." He offered a bottle to Drew as they walked into the apartment.
"Hey, I never turn down an Opus One. This will be opened on a special occasion," Drew said admiringly.
"This wine has personal significance. My dad worked on the vineyard that grows the Opus grapes," Nick replied.
"Then, I'm honored. However tonight we're serving 'Two-Buck Chuck' or beer. I can scrounge up some Dewar's if you'd prefer it."
"Two beers will be fine. Right, babe?" Nick said as he turned to Rod.
"Absolutely. Anything you have is fine...and no glass." Rod smiled and continued, "I see a few people I know. This is a fun group you've gathered."
"Eclectic, to say the least. I'll bring the beers over to you." Drew nodded and watched his boss and 'friend' as they walked over to a couple of the dancers. 'Babe?' he thought, with a quiet chuckle. 'I think that Nick just sent me a subtle message about his relationship with Rod.'
People gravitated into three distinct areas that included the kitchen, living room and patio. Drew and Bob made it a point that everyone was introduced and mixed it up.
Over the next three hours, the eclectic background music provided a beat that created energy for the party. To avoid any complaints, Drew wisely invited his neighbors. He need not have worried; the neighbors on either side of him and upstairs were professionals about the same age who enjoyed a good time. And, of course, 'the girls' knew everyone. By the end of the evening the food dishes were empty and a trash bag was filled with the plastic dinnerware, popped beer cans and empty wine bottles.
The last to leave were Nick and Rod. They lingered at the door with Drew and Bob before departing.
"You guys threw a helluva party. I don't think that Rod and I have had such fun in a long time."
"We usually go to corporate or charity events in an official capacity. Not often do we get a chance to let our hair down. Nick, we should invite them over to dinner in a couple of weeks." Rod placed his arm around Nick's waist and smiled.
"Absolutely. Drew, let's coordinate a weeknight very soon. It would be great to get to know you two better over a quiet dinner."
"I'll check things out tomorrow and give you a couple of dates. We'd enjoy that." Drew thought it was interesting nothing had been said by anyone concerning the older and younger couples' relationships. It was just a given.
"I'm free most evenings. Whatever fits your and Drew's schedule is fine with me. I also look forward to developing a friendship," Bob replied, while placing his arm around Drew's shoulders.
"Okay, 'til then." Nick let Rod lead the way out as he shook Drew's hand and patted Bob on the back."
"Bye." Drew watched his boss and friend stroll away. Out of the corner of his eye Drew momentarily glimpsed a guy with blond hair and a mustache standing under a streetlight across the street. 'Must be a neighbor out for a breath of fresh air,' he thought as he closed the door. The man looked vaguely familiar.
"Well, that was revealing," Bob said. I think that your boss and Rod are a couple."
"Yeah. I was kinda taken back. However, Nick said he was full of surprises and I look forward to dinner at their place."
"Me, too. They really had a good time and I think that the party was a success," Bob said. "You wanna clean this up or wait until tomorrow?"
"Definitely tomorrow. You remember what you said earlier about filling my empty tank? If you've got a hose that fits, I'd like to get filled." Drew pulled Bob into a tight embrace and brought their lips together. When they were in synch, grinding their crotches into each other, Drew initiated a probe with his tongue before they settled into mutual dueling and darting into each other's mouths.
"My hose definitely fits," Bob said breathlessly in a horse whisper.
"I can tell." Drew reached down and started stroking Bob's hard cock that was restrained by two layers of clothing.
"Ya want regular or premium?"
"Premium, un-leaded only. Let's set the alarm, turn off the lights and get back to our room. I'm ready to be pumped."