"GO TO YOUR ROOM GUS, AND STAY THERE! I DON'T WANT TO HEAR A PEEP OUT OF YOU FOR THE REST OF THE WEEKEND! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME, YOUNG MAN?" Lindsay was livid.
"Yeah." Gus frowned.
"What did you say? Don't you dare take that tone of voice with me," she scowled.
"All he said was yeah, Linz," Brian attempted to intervene.
"Don't you dare take his side, Brian," Lindsay warned.
"Forget it, Linz, you're banging your head against a brick wall. Brian's nothing more than an overgrown kid himself," Mel interjected.
"But I'm still Gus's father," he reminded her.
"You don't have to remind us of that. He's just like you!" Mel barked.
"Don't talk to me like that in front of my son," Brian warned.
"Gus, go up to your room, NOW! Don't make me have to tell you again." Lindsay pointed to the stairs.
Mel waited until Gus was out of hearing range before resuming her attack. "No one expects any better from you, but I thought at least Tony would have the good sense to call," she fussed.
"He did call. He called me," Brian informed her.
"A lot of good that did. You just went on about your day as if nothing was wrong. Meanwhile we're here, about to lose our minds," Mel said.
Brian was rapidly reaching his breaking point. "Why don't you calm the fuck down down, Mel. Nobody was hurt," he said.
"Tell that to Mr. and Mrs. Agata. They were worried to death, and so were we. To have your child not come home from school? That's every parent's nightmare," Lindsay said.
Gus slammed his bedroom door, and plopped down on the edge of his bed. He hated when his parents argued, especially when the argument was about him. Grownups, they worried about everything. He wasn't a baby anymore. Lindsay told him that all the time, especially when she was trying to get him to shower or clean his room. Besides, it wasn't like he was alone. He was with Brianna.
"Ahhh," Gus sighed.
All heads turned when the exotic beauty walked into Mrs. Bell's 4th grade classroom. Brianna Agata was like no other girl Gus had ever seen before, with skin the color of dark chocolate, eyes as brown as Tony's, and all sorts of decorations in her hair. Mrs. Bell said that Brianna came from a country called Haiti, where the people spoke French, so don't be surprised by her accent. Gus's eyes followed the bounce of Brianna's pleated skirt, and watched as she slid her skinny legs underneath the desk, and settled into her seat. It was customary at Washington Public School for the teacher, after introducing a new student to the class, to then assign them a buddy. Much to Gus's dismay, Mrs. Bell paired Brianna with the ever-annoying Megan. Over the course of the day, the pintsize gossip-girl gave Brianna the full rundown on all of her fellow classmates, including Gus, the weird kid with two moms, and three dads. Surprisingly, instead of being turned off, Brianna was intrigued by the reddish haired boy, with the strange family. Gus Kinney was kind of cute, and he had the longest eyelashes Brianna had ever seen. She smiled at him, Gus smiled back, and all of the trouble began.
"Brian, Tony is on line one," Brian's assistant, Cynthia, announced over the speakerphone.
When it came to advertising, time was always of the essence. Any other time Brian would have been happy to hear from one of his husbands, but not today. Representatives from "Brown Athletics" would be walking through the door at any moment, expecting to be wowed by Kinnetic's latest fall campaign. Brian's presentation needed to be flawless. "Shit! Put him through," Brian said.
"Brian, are you sitting down?" Tony began.
"Yes, I'm sitting down, and I'm wearing black underwear. Can we play this game later on tonight? I'm really busy here," Brian said.
"Your son is here," Tony cut to the chase.
"What son?" Brian asked.
"How many sons do you have?" Tony jarred his memory.
"Gus? Where are you?" Brian asked.
"I'm at work," Tony said.
"At The Plaza? Of course you're at The Plaza. Where else would you be?" Brian answered his own question. "What is Gus doing there?"
"Right now he's sipping on a chocolate mint milkshake, but that's not all," Tony said. "He has a date with him."
"A date?" Brian suddenly forgot all about BrownAthletics..........
It happens all the time. A guy takes
a girl that he likes to a fancy restaurant, and as far as Gus was concerned,
they didn't come much fancier than The Plaza's, "Gazebo Restaurant". Just as he
had seen his parents do so many times before, Gus walked up to the man standing
behind the tall wooden desk. "I would like a table for two, please," he said.
"Good afternoon," the greeter smiled down at them. "Are you children lost? Where are your parents?"
"We're not lost," Gus assured him. "Our parents are at work. We came here to get something to eat."
The line of guests with reservations was starting to back up. "I'm sorry, but this isn't McDonald's. We don't serve unescorted children here," the greeter said.
"What seems to be the problem?" The maitre d' hurried over.
"They want a seat," the greeter said.
"I'm sorry, but you children will have to leave. We have guests waiting, and you're holding up the line," the maitre d' said.
Gus, and Brianna were brushed aside while people behind them were allowed to go through. This was truly embarrassing, and Gus was wasn't about to stand for it. "We were here first!" he called out.
"Maybe we'd better go," Brianna whispered in his ear.
"Young man, if you don't leave now I'm going to have to call security," the greeter warned.
"If you don't give us a seat now, I'm going to call my dad." Gus stood his ground.
"Who is your father? I'll be happy to call him for you," the maitre d' said.
"My dad is Anthony Massey, and his office is on the top floor of this building. He used to live there, but not anymore. Now he lives with my Pop and Justin at the loft," Gus said.
The guests continued to file past as the maitre d' pondered his next move. Was this some kind of a joke? Where were the hidden television cameras? Maybe this was some sort of test to see how staff would handle such a situation. The confused man looked at Gus and Brianna one final time, before turning back to the greeter. "Get Mr. Massey on the phone," he said.
Tony arrived on the scene within minutes. "Tiger, what are you doing here?" he asked.
"See, I told you." Gus rolled his eyes at the greeter. "Hey, Tony!"
"Mr. Massey, do you know these children?" the maitre d' asked.
"Yes. I know Gus," Tony said.
"And, this is Brianna." Gus smiled.
"Hi." Brianna blushed.
The line of guests came to a halt as Tony, the greeter, and the maitre d' all looked at each other.
"Brianna is a girl." Gus broke the awkward silence.
"I can see that," Tony said.
"Are you one of Gus's dads?" Brianna asked.
Tony thought for a moment, before answering. "Yes. You could say that," he said.
"I told you." Gus nudged Brianna. "Tony, we'd like a table for two please," he said.
Everybody loves a love story. Even the coldhearted businessmen who were unaccustomed to waiting couldn't help but snicker at the bold, young Romeo who was interrupting their power-brunch.
"Mr. Massey, shall I escort the young man, and his date a table?" the maitre d' now asked in his most professional voice.
"By all means," Tony said. "Miss. Brianna, welcome to The Plaza."
"Are you aware that your son is now
on YouTube?" Lindsay sneered at Brian.
"YouTube?" Brian began to laugh.
"That's right, YouTube! Apparently someone thought it was cute that an eight year old would take a date to a five star restaurant, and they videotaped it onto their cell phone. It isn't funny, Brian. Your son has gone viral. The video makes Gus come off as a spoiled little brat," Lindsay said.
"He is a spoiled little brat," Brian agreed.
"So you're not going to punish him at all. He can just go out after school whenever he wants, without asking anyone, and without telling anyone where he's going," Lindsay concluded.
"I didn't say that." Brian couldn't stop laughing.
"Forget it, Linz. Look at him. He doesn't care. You know how men are, even gay men. They all want to think that their sons are such a big hit with the ladies, even if the ladies are only eight years old," Mel said.
"Alright, you two hens, settle down. I've heard enough cackling for one day. I'm tired, and I want to go home. I'll go up, and talk to Gus." Brian stood up from the sofa.
"So, what are you going to say to him?" Lindsay followed him to the staircase.
"This doesn't concern you, or your wife. This business is between men." Brian continued on to Gus's room.
Gus was relieved that the tap on the door turned out to be his father, and not one of his moms. "I didn't kidnap Brianna. I asked her if she wanted to go out to eat, and she said yes," Gus said right off the bat.
"Oh, I know you didn't kidnap anybody. May I sit down?" Brian pointed to the bed.
"Uh huh." Gus slid over.
"Why do you think I'm here?" Brian made himself comfortable.
"Because I didn't come home from school," Gus said.
"And?" Brian said.
"And, I didn't tell anybody," Gus added.
"And?" Brian said.
"And I got Brianna in trouble too," Gus said.
"That's not cool, sonny-boy. If you ask a girl out, it then becomes your responsibility to take care of her. That includes making sure that it's ok with her parents. Do you understand what I'm saying?" Brian asked.
"I understand," Gus said.
"Good, because when I leave here, I'm going to go talk to Brianna's father. I'm going to tell him that this won't happen again. Hopefully he won't be too hard on her, because of you, and he'll allow you two to remain friends," Brian said.
"I promise it won't happen again," Gus said.
Brian put his arm around his son, and kissed him on the top of his head. "I know it won't happen again. You're a good boy, Gus." Brian smiled.
That was certainly easier than Gus had expected. His moms were ready to ground him for life, take away his television, his computer, his video games.... Women, they always got carried away about every little thing. "Thanks, Pop." Gus smiled.
"So, tell me about Brianna. Is she pretty?" Brian asked.
"Yeah." Gus blushed. "She's from Haiti, and she speaks French."
"Wow. Did you show her a good time? Did she enjoy her meal?" Brian asked.
"Yep, and I even opened the doors for her, and I didn't walk too fast," Gus said proudly.
"That's my boy." Brian patted Gus on the thigh. "One more thing. There is the matter of the bill."
"The bill?" The smile suddenly left Gus's face.
Brian reached inside the breast pocket of his suit jacket, and pulled out a long slip of paper. "Let's see, four milkshakes, two steak burgers, with truffle fries, one order of onion rings, and two hot fudge sundaes, with a side of brownies. That comes to a total of.....Oh, wait a minute. Tony opened the private dining room for you, and Brianna. That's an extra hundred...."
"Hundred?" Gus's eyes widened.
"He gave you a discount," Brian continued. "Then there's the gratuities."
"What's gratuities?" Gus was almost afraid to ask.
"That's just a fancy word for the tip," Brian paused to explain. "With food, tip, and private seating, you owe Tony two-hundred, forty-eight dollars, and thirty-two cents."
Gus couldn't believe his ears. "Tony didn't say that I had to pay," he whined.
"Of course he didn't. You were with Brianna," Brian reminded him. "Tony is a gentleman, and a gentleman would never embarrass a man in front of a lady. So, where's your bank?"
Gus stood up from the bed, and walked over to the money jar he kept hidden in his sock drawer. He twisted the cap off of the half filled container, and poured its contents onto the dresser. "I don't think I have enough." He looked over his shoulder at Brian.
"You should have thought about that BEFORE you asked to take Brianna out!" Brian said.
"But Tony NEVER makes me pay!" Gus argued.
"Is that why you think it's ok to take advantage of him, because he never makes you pay? Do you understand that Tony has to pay all of the people who prepared your food, and cleaned up after you and Brianna? He has to pay the people who grow the food, who ship the food. He has to pay for the lights, the gas......Are you understanding what I'm saying, Gus? Brianna was your guest. You were responsible for her, not Tony. It's not ok to take advantage of someone, just because you can," Brian said. "So, for now I'm going to pay Tony for you, then you and I are going to make arrangements for you to pay me back."
"What about her? She ate too! Brianna should have to pay for half of the bill." Gus pouted.
Brian stood up from the bed, and walked over to his son. "The lady never pays." He placed the bill on the dresser, and headed for the door.
"That's not fair!" Gus protested.
"Life isn't fair, sonny-boy. Get used to it." Brian exited the bedroom, and slammed the door shut behind him.
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