Castle Roland

Shifting Sands

by Jack Scribe, of Honored Memory


Chapter 12

Published: 8 Apr 14

The naked club room before Spike conjured up in his mind what a girl must look like the morning after too much wine, too little sleep and no makeup. She'd been a knockout before…and probably could be again. But right now…whoa. 'Maybe Lindsey Lohan in one of her bleakest Internet moments?' As a counterpoint, he dug into his memory bank and recalled some of his clients from hell…like the old duffer who'd croaked on him. That had been a crazy experience.

This was the room from hell. At least for the present.

Blueprints were strewn on top of a bare banquet table that was standing off in a corner of the shuttered EyePod nightclub, illuminated only by bare-bulb work lights. The club had finished its successful two-year run this past July 4th holiday weekend with a flurry of partying and welcomed cash flow. As Drew had commented in a meeting, "We're closing while it's still on a high so the new place will be a hot ticket when we re-open." The liquor inventory had been transferred to other hotel outlets and the point-of-sale computers were now in storage waiting re-programming.

Spike stood reviewing the plans for the new club, PDT/Please Don't Tell, while workers around him dismantled the worn and instant passé décor - dated only because the fickle clubbing clientele constantly demanded something new. All of the upholstered banquettes and furniture had been removed for recovering and construction had already begun on the club's new 'loo' entrance off the casino floor. With luck and some FedEx expedition, all of the outrageous urinals ordered would be on site by the end of the month. 'It'll be a tight schedule to get this place open for Labor Day,' he thought. Most of the former cast members - a title for employees that had been blatantly borrowed from Disneyland - had elected to take long summer vacations, and would be returning for training and new costuming in late August. He skipped the electrical and plumbing schematics and focused on the seating and bar layouts.

His mind drifted back to the great, extended 'family' holiday bar-be-que he'd attended with Drew, Bob and Cray. As Spike's friendship and love for Cray grew - and the feelings were mutual - Drew and Bob had accepted him, without reservations, as he became more than a close friend. He was aware that, other than the brief conversation Cray said he'd had with Bob, nothing more had been mentioned about their budding partnership. 'It's a done deal and I'll never do anything to let Cray down…or damage the trust of those guys.'

In one of his and Cray's pillow talks, each had confessed there had been more than a physical attraction when they'd first met. It was a trading of buried admissions. Cray had had an immediate crush on Spike, and he'd acted out his numerous fantasies involving his surrogate older brother. Spike, on the other hand, knew he was attracted to Cray but respected the boundaries of a guy who legally wasn't yet considered to be a man. In each case, these barriers were now moot.

Life was pretty good. A new boyfriend who respected monogamous boundaries, a new job that had growth and financial reward potential, a new home and a new MBA degree in finance; all had arrived within the past 30 days. Two phone calls he'd not answered earlier in the day had set Spike's thoughts to wandering in his spare moments. They had been from LGJ - Lou Gallian, Junior. Part of him wanted to ignore Lou - he wished that Lou would just crawl back under a rock, like Rockefeller Center. On the other hand, their meeting and the relationship that had been mostly fulfilling couldn't be ignored. 'And his dad is the big kahuna.'

Spike was pondering if he should return the call when his cell rang again. On the screen, he immediately recognized the 212 area code. 'Good ole Lou keeps popping up like a bad penny,' he thought. 'Oh, Christ, I might as well get this over with.'

Spike had pushed his hurt aside - especially since Cray had captured his heart - and now looked at his 'ex' as recent history. 'He did me a favor, actually.' He took a deep breath and pressed the receive button. "Hi."

"Spike, thanks for picking up. I know I don't deserve your time, but…"

"What's done is done…and we've both moved on." Spike purposely spoke in a monotone rather than screaming, 'You fucking, thoughtless asshole,' or some other emotional string of negative endearments.

"Yeah, I can see that," Lou replied with a chuckle. "I'm standing in our old place and it's stripped pretty bare."

"Look, Mr. Gallian, you gave me permission to take whatever I wanted. And I ran everything by your dad's assistant." Spike didn't want to be baited into an argument but would stand his ground. 'What's Lou doing in Vegas and why is he whining about what's been taken?'

_"That's cool. Honestly, I wanted you to have what you needed, and I'm certainly not going to use it. Anyway, Dad's going to re-do the condo as a guest apartment and he's already got a designer working up plans, using the furnishings and art that was in our old Long Island house. In fact, I'm surprised that you left the den stuff." _

"Didn't have room…but I did make good use of the beds." Spike smiled when he thought about the final evening in the condo with Cray…when his man had left the guest bed to join him.

"Everything left's going to be tossed, so to speak, by Friday. So, if you can use anything else, I can get it over to you."

Spike paused for a moment and wondered if he wanted to be in further debt to Lou. 'But I do need a desk for Henry.' He'd planned on going to some cheapo furniture store at the end of the summer and finish furnishing his brother's room. "If you're not using the 'puter desk and chair from the den, that'd be cool."

"Excellent. And there are some other things you left that might come in handy."


"If you could break away, come on over and see what else you want…plus, I really need to see you and apologize. What I did was pretty shitty and I…"

"There's no need to rehash your disappearing act. I'm a big boy and I got over our breaking up just fine." Spike decided not to mention Cray's name or their relationship.

"Just the same, I'd like to explain everything and…if we can…have some sort of friendship. I'm completely to blame and…"

"I'm not sure I'm ready for friendship, but maybe a little clearing of the air is in order." Spike decided to be cautiously frank and see where the conversation would go. "The deal is this, Lou - your cock leads you around and it needs attention from a variety of sources, if you get my drift. I certainly didn't have any luck changing you into a one-guy person…and damned if I didn't try."

"I failed you, buddy, and I…listen, could we get together tonight? I want to…"

"Why are you in town?" Spike wanted to slow things down for a minute or so. He looked around the room and watched the workers rip up carpet in the raised area of the club as he weighed the invitation.

"Needed to be in L.A. last week and I decided to come through here on my way back East to see you. We had too much of a good life together for almost two years before I…I'll meet you anywhere if you don't want to come over here. I'm leaving tomorrow. Please?"

"Now you make me feel like a shit," Spike replied with a chuckle. "Okay…as much as I want to hate you for what you did, another part of me does want to remember those years. I guess we should find some resolution." He sighed and added, "Why don't you order in some pizza and I'll see you at seven for a few slices and a beer. But I can't stay too long."

"Thanks, this means a lot to me…really…a lot. Pizza will be waiting, along with a few Negra Modelo frosties."

"Later." Spike pushed 'end' on his cell, considered the call and plotted his next move.

He supposed that if he didn't have Cray in his life at this point, there would have been a nasty conclusion to the conversation with Lou. However, Spike also realized, after a few sleepless nights right after Lou's disappearance, that his ex's fatal flaw of wanting to play around was unfixable. He recalled listening to a love-advice radio talk show and the moderator explaining one factor of how relationships fail - one half of a couple thinks he or she could change something major about the other half. When they don't change, the relationship risks falling apart. 'Lou just couldn't change and that's that,' he reasoned, 'and I shoulda seen that.'

It had been mostly a good two years - Spike was culturally richer from the ended relationship and Lou had certainly supported Spike's educational goals. Emotions aside, giving the furnishings and art with no strings attached was very generous. 'Lou's guilt gifts for sure,' he thought, 'but they would have gone to waste otherwise. I should thank him and let him off the hook tonight.'

Before jumping back into the club project, he knew he had some calls to make. 'Gotta check in and let Cray know what I'm up to.' They didn't have plans tonight but Spike didn't want to keep Cray in the dark. 'No way I'm gonna screw up this relationship.'

An inspiration of an idea ignited in Spike's mind. 'Gotta make another call first.'

The Strip was still intoxicating despite the contrivances. Nothing like Manhattan - more like the cheap thrill of a roller coaster ride.

Lou stood on the balcony studying the make-believe view of neon, steel, glass and mortar - all in digital living color. He smiled at the collage of Imperial Rome, Pirates, Venice, New York, Paris and their own Barcelona pleasure palace…all within this panorama. The behemoth City Center project, mired in financial difficulty, was the only dark spot on this street of dreams.

The large smoked chicken, mozzarella and sun dried tomato pizza from Postrio had just arrived and he was keeping it warm in the oven. Lou looked at his watch before taking another sip of beer. 'Mr. always-on-time will be here in ten minutes.' He shook his head and said to himself, "What an asshole I was for walking away from Spike…and the way I did it." He knew the combination of a magnified hectic life back East and his need for a variety of men would have quickly destroyed whatever they had - had they moved to New York.

It was a relief to fly out to the coast and mentally re-group after the attempt on his life had been discovered and averted. By the time he'd arrived at his cousin's condo on Wilshire Boulevard the previous week, Max of their New York security detail had checked in. Cutie pie Davey, with some encouragement, was haltingly forthcoming about his real mission in visiting Lou at The Pierre. Lou understood what Max meant when he said, "That lad won't be a problem for us again." He also told Lou that there would be some news out of London the following morning concerning a terrorist bombing near Kensington Palace. "A few Russians bit the dust in the process," Max had remarked without any emotion attached.

That next day, he had a long discussion with his dad, Uncle Al and Al, Junior, to review Kiril Datchev's last stand to harm the company and family, and to dissect their vulnerabilities that needed shoring up. Even though Datchev and four lieutenants of his organization had been caught in the unfortunate terrorist attack - and were no longer threats to the Gallian interests - a game plan to increase their personal and business security was ironed out. With that in mind, Lou was ready to return to New York and resume his task of reshaping the bank's profitability while tightening electronic access.

But first, the detour to Las Vegas to mend what he'd screwed up. He wanted to have Spike in his life as a friend. 'If that's possible.'

The telephone rang and the doorman announced Mr. Jensen had arrived. Lou asked that Spike be sent up and nervously went out to the elevator foyer to be proactive in greeting him. The elevator doors parted and out stepped the handsome guy he'd so cowardly dumped. Spike was wearing a blue button-down shirt with a yellow tie loosened and slightly askew, khaki trousers and Gucci-bit loafers.

'Might as well break the ice,' Lou thought as he extended his hand. "Hey."

Spike looked at Lou as he stepped out of the elevator with an expression bordering somewhere between aloofness and curiosity. He grabbed Lou's hand, squeezed it rather than shaking it and said, "I must say it feels odd to come back here as a guest." He pursed his lips in a semi-smile and shrugged. "The doorman had a problem figuring out how to announce me…after me coming and going these past couple of years."

"You could have come up without checking in. I let him know you'd be here."

"It only seemed proper," Spike replied.

There was no attempt by either party to kiss - even an air kiss, cheek or lips. Lou stepped aside and silently gestured for Spike to enter the condo.

"Is your dad in town?" Spike asked, nodding to 39A, before entering his former home - 39B.

"No, but I saw him in L.A. He's working with Uncle Al on some corporate business and plans on staying there for awhile." Lou followed and closed the door behind him. "Why don't we eat the pizza while it's still warm?"

"Maybe the kitchen? The dining room table seems so impersonal."

"Fair enough. By the way, you want the table and chairs?" Lou asked as they passed the dining area and continued into the kitchen.

"I'd love to, but it's too long. I could use chairs, though. Four, if that's okay?"

"As I said on the phone, anything left here will be donated to charity at the end of the week." Lou thought this olive branch was softening the underlying tension when he noticed Spike's familiar smile.

"In that case, I could use the mirror we just passed, and the desk and chair from the den."

"Consider it done. I'll coordinate everything with dad's assistant."

Spike went to the refrigerator, found two Negra Modelo's and handed one to Lou. "I suppose I should have asked," he said with a twist of the bottle cap, "if it was okay to raid the fridge. Old habits, ya know."

"I do know and it's absolutely fine…I'll always think of this place as ours. Sit down and I'll retrieve our culinary pièce de résistance - one of your faves from Postrio." Lou opened the oven, pulled out a large pizza box and set it on the table. He had already put out two plates and a stack of paper napkins.

"Yum." Spike flipped open the lid and picked up a slice of pizza. "You remembered."

Lou sat down and joined Spike by taking a slice himself. "I remember several neat things, Spike." He tentatively took the first bite to make sure he wouldn't burn his mouth. After sipping his beer, he said, "Thanks for coming over…after me being such a shit."

"That's an understatement." Spike took a bite and continued while he chewed, "I was pretty torn up…more at the way…you did it…no warning…and yeah, you were…a shit…but that's the past. You've gone your way and…well, I'm doing just fine."

"I won't even try to justify what I did. The job probably got to me, being back in New York all the time, and not being here. The tension of leading the team to turn around the bank wired me pretty tightly. Then I just fell back into my old ways with…"

"The escorts and your little head making decisions for you," Spike said. "But then, since that's the way we met, I shouldn't have been so hurt except…I did love you." He took another sip of beer and then added, "I shouldn't say this, but I probably still do…just in a different way."

"I know I do…and yeah, different. You know, there are tons of acquaintances, but only a handful of real friends that I've let into my life. Babe, I'm very sorry and…well, I apologize for my behavior." Lou reached across the table and offered his hand. "Will you consider forgiving me?"

"Answer me one thing. Truth time." Spike leaned in and looked into Lou's eyes. "Was there anything I did, or something from my past, that caused you to drift away and then just…disappear…except for the fuck you note? That was pretty shitty."

"Just me, pure and simple, handling things in a pretty piss-poor manner. For openers, maybe my self-esteem isn't so great. Being born with the proverbial silver spoon in my mouth - or maybe up my ass - and having my way always wasn't the healthiest deal growing up. A classic case of the folks being generous to a fault. I know Mom being murdered probably has played games in my head and Uncle Nick's Rod being killed in the bombing didn't help." Lou almost mentioned the recent attempt on his life but decided against it. 'No reason in opening that can of worms,' he decided.

Spike nodded and thought, 'He's really laying out his life on a platter.'

"Selfish…self-centered…spoiled…always having things done for me…bright, good looking and knowing it…take your pick. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have chosen such a chicken shit way of leaving. What I couldn't mention this past spring, when I was spending more time in New York than here, was the potential financial disaster that was threatening the bank. And then…while some managers sooth their nerves by having a few drinks…I reverted back to type."

"You mean going for a hard dick rather than hard liquor?" Spike asked with a roll of his eyes. "Sorry…I couldn't resist."

"Busted amongst a comedy of errors of my own doing." Lou let out a long sigh and added, "But I want you to know, Spike, that I only fell off the wagon a few months ago. So…what do you think about my question…to forgive me?"

"For a guy to open yourself up like you just did…yeah, I guess we can start some sort of mending." Spike looked around the kitchen for a moment and decided to take the next step. "Okay, Lou, I can do that…at least understanding the cheating part… us being 3,000 miles apart. You being a horny dude on the loose with an American Express Black Card is a lethal combo."

"Guilty as charged."

"But that's the way it is." Spike decided this was the best time to change gears and let Lou know about his new relationship. "There's something you should know about a change in my life."

It was Lou's turn to look puzzled. He cocked his head and said, "Well, I know you're not pregnant…although God knows we tried hard enough."

Spike had to laugh and was relieved that Lou joined in. It lightened the mood. "I, being of sound mind most of the time, have fallen for a great guy. We're both widows of recent break-ups and one night not that long ago we…well, we saw things in each other differently than in the past."

"Sounds like you've known him for a while?"

"We both have," Spike replied quietly. "Cray Gamble. He's turned into quite a man."

"Hunky little Cray? Wow…I approve, but…what a surprise."

"Trust me, Cray's not so little." Spike couldn't help but snicker. He let his memories flash back to the life-changing liaison with Cray in the bedroom down the hall. "It wasn't something I'd planned on happening, but…let's just say we're more than attracted to each other. His boyfriend, Michael, left about the same time…and here we were on an island." He decided to delete the 'deserted' word. "And before you say it - we've both talked this out and we know it's not a case of just grabbing the first guy that came along."

"Babe, he's a neat guy and…well, I wish you the best. You deserve it. I'd crack out some champagne but beer is all I have." Lou picked up his bottle and offered it in a toast.

"I appreciate that," Spike replied, lifting his beer and lightly touching the bottom of his bottle to Lou's. He was pleased they had finished their partnership on a measured high. 'Grudges never work out and I suspect we'll be in and out of each other's lives for a long time.'

They looked at each other and then took a small sip.

"Maybe on a trip back to Vegas later in the year, the three of us could get together for dinner, other than the hotel." Lou grinned and added, "Please believe me when I say I'm very happy for both of you. Cray's very special…it's just going to take me a while to adjust to him being your other-half. Jeez, I remember the first time I met him at Rod and Uncle Nick's party. A young guy, new in town, somewhat unsure of himself…but so bright and engaging. He's grown to be an impressive young man and I salute your new relationship, especially since I dicked up ours."

"Um, 'dicked up' is an odd choice of words but appropriate." Spike smiled back and scrunched his forehead in a friendly 'whatever' expression.

"You know what I mean."

"Lou, that was just a little chain pull for old time's sake. I sincerely hope you figure out how to work out those demons of yours. I don't have to add that you need to do that before you think about finding another guy."

"Something I'll work on after the pressure of getting the bank on solid footing eases," Lou nodded and continued, "This was about mending fences…and I hope we've done that."

"Seriously, I'll remember our time together…forever. This was something I wasn't prepared to say tonight, but…well let's just say that this meeting was needed and I appreciate you pushing for it. In the meantime…"

The house phone rang.

"Go ahead with what you were saying," Lou said, "I'm not expecting anyone."

"But I am. If you don't mind, I'll see if this is for me." Spike got up, without waiting for an answer, and went over to the counter. He raised his hand to Lou and picked up the phone. "Yes…send him up."

"Is that Cray? I don't mind him coming over but…"

"No. In fact, I've got to boogie very soon and get home." Spike decided not to complicate the conversation by saying that Cray was waiting for him. "Consider my friend's arrival as a peace offering. He's a new resident, will be a senior at UNLV, and very single."

"What does this guy have to do with the price of tea in China?" Lou asked with a questioning scowl.

"Bear with me. I know you very well…wouldn't you say?" Spike had originally arranged for his friend to arrive as a 'fuck you' finale. 'But now I've got to make sure Lou takes this gesture as a friendly parting.'

"Yeah, after two years, probably better than myself."

"Spence Trotter is what you need after I leave. That's who's coming up." Spike walked over to Lou and put his hands on Lou's shoulders. "The best thing for you is to screw your brains out, and Spence is just the man to help you do it. Think of it as physical therapy."

"You want…"

"He's Mario's new superstar and you'd be very wise to accept. First of all, it's impolite to refuse a gift from me, and - two - trust Dr. Spike's prescription for mending and let nature take its course."

"I feel a little awkward about this," Lou said as he got up, "and this is the last thing I expected tonight." He walked up to Spike and gently kissed him on the cheek. "Is this the right way to part company?"

"Déjà vu, all over again, babe…is the appropriate phrase." Spike looked at Lou wistfully and added, "This is how we started…and I think it's appropriate. That you have an elegant taste in men - if I may say so - is nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe down the road you'll find 'Mr. Right'. But for the time being, enjoy the guys who can entertain you without complications."

"Without complications. Since you put it that way, I guess I'd better take the doctor's medicine."

"Trust me, it's for the best." Spike hoped he didn't sound callous. 'I think he's okay with this…and he'll love the outcome.'

The door chimes rang.

"Let's go out and greet Spence. FYI, he doesn't know who you are - except your first name - and that we're old friends." Spike decided to take Lou's hand and lead him out of the kitchen. "Whatever you want to tell him after I leave is up to you."

"Buddy, you're too much. I must say that this gesture, aside from the benefits, is appreciated."

They reached the door and Spike put up his hand. "Remember one thing. Spence doesn't need to be dragged into anything that's not going to work out on a personal level. I don't know him that well…but I suspect we'll all be friends. Okay?"

"Understood," Lou said as he stood back.

Spike patted Lou on the back and opened the door.

A six-foot, slightly younger version of Spike - with longer dark-blond hair that appeared naturally highlighted - was standing at the doorway when the door opened. The pink polo shirt accentuated Spence's blue eyes and the micro-fabric tan slacks were tailored to be provocative. It was very obvious he was neither a boxers nor a briefs man.

'Holy fuck,' Lou thought with an opening volley of lust surging through his body, 'this is some mighty fine medicine.' He watched as Spike and Spence bumped fists and greeted each other. 'Spike's got my number down cold.'

"Come in and say 'hi' to Lou," Spike said. He stepped back and turned to Lou. "Lou, this is Spence."

"Good evening." Spence smiled and offered his hand to Lou. "Spike said you were a good-looking man, but I honestly didn't expect to be meeting such a completely hot stud. I hope you don't mind me being frank."

"Um…no. 'Evening." Lou drank in the vision and was quite turned on by this man's flirtatious come-on. He turned to Spike. "You got time for a beer before you leave?" This was one of those times when Lou hoped the answer would be 'no'.

"Gotta run. Oh, do I need to do anything further about the stuff we talked about…the stuff you're going to move out?" Spike smiled and winked.

"It'll be taken care of and you'll get a call when it's ready to be delivered." Lou walked up to Spike and said, "Thanks…for everything. The medicine aside, our friendship's important."

"If you need more medicine, it's an open prescription." Spike chuckled and added, "Take care guys. I'm gone."

Lou watched Spike walk out to the elevator and closed the door. He could feel his crotch stirring as he thought about Spence - a man who should be enjoyed like a Grand Champagne Cognac. 'Admire the package, pour just enough into the glass to judge the color, breathe in the bouquet and slowly sip the contents. The just reward would be enjoying the nuances and complexities. "Sorry I don't have much in the way of a place to entertain," he said, "but I've moved to New York. I'm back just to tie up some loose ends."

"It's not like we need something that's out of the pages of Architectural Digest," Spence replied with a chuckle, "although this apartment looks like it would qualify…with some furniture." He took Lou's hands and pulled him close. "I'm looking forward to knowing you better."

Lou gave Spence a peck on the lips and pushed his tented crotch forward. "How long can you stay?"

"As long as you'd like."

"Then let's get a beer and go out to the balcony." Lou walked Spence to the living room and pointed to the sliding doors. "I'll get the beers and meet you." He patted Spence's butt and went back to the kitchen. The table still was set with the mostly uneaten pizza and two unfinished cans of beer. 'What a helluva way to wrap things up with Spike. An odd but good way.'

"This view is beautiful," Spence said when Lou joined him. The July evening was warm but a breeze made the balcony comfortable.

Two chairs and a small table were still set up. 'Might as well send these over as well,' Lou thought. He gave Spence a beer and said, 'Let's sit down for a while…since you're not in a hurry."

"Hurry? First of all, I wouldn't want to. And Mario mentioned that you're a special friend…I didn't need to think about anything else other than..."

"Got it." Lou took a sip of beer and slipped off his deck shoes. He rested his bare feet on the table and said, "Go ahead…get comfortable."

"How comfortable?"

"Nobody can see us up here." Lou unbuttoned his shirt and took it off.

"When in Rome." Spence followed the lead. It didn't take long to lose his polo, shoes and socks. He rested his feet on the table and started playing toesies with Lou's closest foot.

The lights from the Strip cast a reddish golden glow on Spence's torso. Lou could make out the requisites of five-star stud muffin status…'in spades'. Spence's torso was defined but not 'ripped' - more of a flat-ridged tummy rather than a six-pack. He was mostly 'smooth' except for a wispy crop of chest hair between his solid pecs, and a continuation of short blondish-brown hair around his navel that traveled to regions below his pants waistband. Upon closer inspection, the contours behind the pants fabric - a defined VPL - confirmed that Spence was circumcised. "So, tell me about yourself, Mr. Trotter."

For the next few minutes, Spence went through a short bio that included some earlier Seattle history, his guardian status for his younger brother, aspirations for completing his education and a more conventional professional life some day.

While he was talking, Lou lightly stroked Spence's leg. He was careful not to get too aggressive with the large lump of manhood that was slowly coming to attention behind the pants fabric. 'No reason to waste anything and make a mess before we're ready,' he thought.

"Do you mind me asking a question…if it's not too out of line?" Spence asked while taking Lou's stroking hand.

"Shoot away…if you'd ignore the pun." Lou laughed and squeezed Spence's hand.

"Shooting definitely comes later…pun or not. I was just curious how Spike fits into the picture. I met him, as well as Cray, at Mario's house and know a little about his…past. Does he…"

"It's a little complicated," Lou replied. "He retired a couple of years ago and we were, until recently, a couple. However, we split up when I went back East. I won't go into the specifics except to say that he knows what I like: hot men with no commitment. It's just the way I'm wired."

"I can understand that. Right now, that's where I stand. Like I've already said, I have a 14-year old brother to raise, plus be ready to begin school in the fall. So, the last thing I need is a relationship to mess things up."

Lou grazed his hand across Spence's chest, moved down to the tempting treasure trail and rested his palm on the staining erection. He reached over with his other hand and unbuttoned Spence's pants. "Feels like you could use a little freedom."

"What can I say…I'm a growing boy," Spence said with a snicker.

Lou unzipped the fly and Spence rose momentarily so Lou could slip his pants off. "There…better?" The real thing surpassed the coming attractions. Lou reached down and cupped Spence's amply filled sac.

"Much better. Can I repay the favor?"

"As you said, 'when in Rome'." Lou sighed, as Spence duplicated the disrobing.

After their pants were tossed aside, Spence moved off the chair and onto his knees. Quietly, he kissed Lou's glans and licked the length of his shaft. His tongue then made its way to Lou's balls and beyond. Lou drew his legs up to give Spence's hot tongue a better target.

"Spence, I think it's time to move inside," Lou growled. "I mean us…not your tongue. Stand up for a sec."

Once Spence was on his feet, Lou pulled him to his face so he could return the favors. He licked a few pearls of pre-cum precipitation and knew that this was definitely going to be a healing evening. It took an angle adjustment of Spence's erection in Lou's throat - size did matter in this maneuver - and Lou's nose was soon buried in the stud's trimmed pubes. 'Nirvana,' Lou thought as he slowly withdrew.

"You ready to rumble, big boy?" Spence asked while helping Lou stand up.

"I've got everything to suit us up in the bedroom." Lou was already thinking about bringing Spence to the Big Apple for a visit…if everything went as well as he thought it would. "There's only one problem…I have no bed."

"Then we'd better be careful of rug burn. Let me pick up our clothes and I'll follow you."

With a small nod, Lou led the way into the living room and stopped. "Let's stop here first. There's something you gotta do for me." He paused turned on a small nightlight.

"What do you want to do?" Spence asked, standing on the carpet with one hand propped on his naked hip.

"Just follow my direction."

Although he was ready for an evening of great sex - even on the floor - Lou wanted to savor Spence's beauty and male sexuality. 'If this evening goes well,' he was thinking again, 'I'll make some arrangements for Spence to visit me for a long weekend in New York.' The memory of his almost lethal date with Davey was still too fresh in his mind to consider using local talent.

The drive to Cray's home gave Spike a good 15 minutes to reflect on what had occurred over the past several hours. The phone call that eased him off his angry high-horse, the time to re-consider the overall state of his and Lou's past, and the decision to let his 'ex' off the hook after appropriate portions of groveling. Spike was also mindful that Lou had been most generous with gifts that had made his life very manageable. 'And lest I forget,' he thought when he got out of his car, 'Lou's dad is my employer…a few people removed.'

And Mario had been a real champ. While Spike had planned on handling the charges with his Visa card - maybe, less a former employee discount - and juggle a payback over the next couple of months, Mario considered Spence's services 'on the house' for Lou. Although it wasn't discussed, Spike assumed that the reach of the Gallian family was still pulling the strings behind the scene in Vegas…and elsewhere.

Before Spike could ring the bell, Cray had the door open, blurted out a 'hi' and pulled him close for a quick kiss.

'The right move at the right time…but maybe the wrong place. Don't want to shock the neighbors.' Spike thought as he reciprocated without sampling Cray's probing tongue. "Hi, yourself," he said with a chuckle. "I like the way you answer the door…as long as it's reserved for me only."

"Of course." Cray stepped aside and let Spike come inside. "Well, maybe the postman, FedEx guy and the plumber…but that's about as far as it goes."

"Please tell me it's not Joe the Plumber," Spike replied. In the background, he could hear the television. 'Bob and Drew must be in the den.'

"Naw, he's too Republican and chunky. The guy who comes over here has long fingers and a cute butt crack." Cray closed the door and moved in for a tight embrace and a flutter of kisses before his wet tongue found its mark between Spike's lips.

"Mmmm," was Spike's only audible reaction. But his dick was making up for the limited noise by silently pleading, 'Free me from these pants' as it expanded against the cotton twill.

"Oh, you are a randy one." Cray put his hand on Spike's growing erection and added, "Maybe we shouldn't say hello to Mom and Dad in your condition."

Cray occasionally jokingly referred to Drew and Bob in such a manner without identifying who was who, but Spike had guessed that Drew was probably the unofficial father figure. 'Although Bob is hardly June Cleaver.' Cray adjusted himself and said, "Stand behind me, since you're showing wood, and we'll make a brief appearance with the 'rents."

"Definitely stay in front of me."

They walked over to the den and stood at the doorway. Bob was lying on the sofa with his head on Drew's lap, holding a bowl of popcorn. 'Mom and Dad', wearing matching variations of a T-shirt and boxer shorts combination, were watching a Dodgers game. When they saw Cray and Spike, Bob sat up and Drew smiled.

"Hey, Spike," Drew said. "Whazzup?"

"Stay there." Cray put up his hand and added, "We're just checking in."

"Hi, guys," Spike said with a wave. "I wanted to talk with Cray for a few minutes before I head home. Had a busy day."

"There's stuff in the fridge if you're hungry," Bob replied. "We're just vegging with the tube."

"We're just goin' to hang at the pool." Cray reached behind and cupped a feel of Spike's still-plumped crotch.

"If ya got time, jump in…the water's just right," Drew said. "Have fun and we'll see you at work tomorrow."

The younger duo waved, went through the living room and out to the pool. Without prompting, Cray pulled off his tee, stripped down his shorts and kicked off his flip-flops before plunging into the pool.

"Come on in," Cray yelled. "The water's pretty nice."

"What happened to the talking?" Spike asked with a chuckle. He wanted to give Cray an update on what had just happened, but the sight of his new lover jumping, butt-naked, into the pool was a pleasant distraction. "Okay, bud, you win." He removed his work clothes and had to admit it felt good to be free of them. 'Crap,' he thought as he pulled off his socks, 'I've been wearing these smelly things since early this morning.'

Bur ump…splaaash. One cannonball later, Spike was standing next to a laughing Cray. The next moment, he had enveloped Cray in a tight hug. This wasn't sexual - other than each man's most private body parts touching - and Cray seemed to sense it.

"Thanks, babe," Spike said in a low voice. He reached up and wiped water off Cray's forehead.

"For what? Not that I'm complaining."

"For being you." Spike took Cray's hand and pulled him over to the submerged pool stairs. He sat on one of the steps and positioned Cray so that he was leaning back against him. "I realized when I saw you at the doorway…you're the real deal. Lou and I made peace…and he's going back to New York tomorrow."

While Cray nestled into Spike's resting body, Spike related a fairly complete version - sans the additional furnishings and artwork - of what had occurred earlier that evening with Lou. Cray had to laugh a little at Spencer's role in the unfolding events. During the telling of the tale, each man let the body touching be moments of tenderness and nothing more. They had agreed not to be randy at Cray's home when Drew and Bob were there.

"So that's what happened. By the way, Lou wished you and me well. I know he meant it."

"I'm glad, Spike. He's a cool guy…although somewhat complicated…but you're way cooler."

Spike decided another hug, albeit somewhat horizontal, was in order. 'I'm a very lucky guy.' He felt tears welling up - tears of happiness.

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