Justin stood at his wifes grave. The other mourners had left and Justin was left alone. The headstone he had picked out was very simple. It read Carolyn Marie Taylor 1983-2017 Beloved wife and mother. Justin didnt know how he was going to survive without his best friend. Carolyns death had come as a shock. She had been diagnosed with cancer, but the doctors had been optimistic. Receiving the call a week ago that his wife wouldnt survive more than a few days had rocked the artist to his core. The pain consumed him more than he ever thought possible.
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he prepared to say goodbye to one of the most important persons in his life. Carolyn had been his rock for seventeen years and now she was gone. Justin knew that he would need to leave soon. His mother and daughter would be looking for him soon.
Well Car, I guess this is it. We both knew this was coming, but I secretly hoped for a miracle. Sam and I are moving back to Pittsburgh with my mom. Shes going to need stability right now. I have several shows that we could not cancel. The stupid fucks here in Europe have no respect for the fact that I just lost my wife. Sams going to live with mom until I can get us settled. Were going to miss you a lot Car. I know youll be watching over us.
Justin knelt down and kissed the headstone. Standing up, he slowly walked away to join his mother and his daughter.
Seventeen years earlier
Look Ive had you. You wanted me, I wanted you. It was a fuck.
Thats all it was, just a fuck? The tears welled up in Justins eyes as he heard Brians words. He could feel his heart breaking.
Go find yourself a nice little girl and get married.
Justin never went down to Liberty Avenue again. He knew it would be too hard. Seeing Brian would only break his heart again. Retreating back into the closet, he finished his senior year at St. James and went to college at Stanford. It wasnt Dartmouth, but his father was still proud.
Justin threw himself into college life. Making lots of friends helped to distract him from his broken heart. About a month into his first semester, he met Carolyn Adams, a theatre major, and the two artists hit it off immediately. Carolyn was eccentric and quirky. She could always make Justin laugh and forget his troubles.
So Taylor, who broke your heart?
What the fuck are you talking about Car.
Justin, please. Weve been friends for awhile now. You dont date, you barely go out. I figure someone did a real number on you. So who was he?
Justin confided to Carolyn that he was gay shortly after meeting her. Being in the theatre, she was constantly surrounded by gay people, so it didnt faze her.
I met a guy back in Pittsburgh. We had a one night stand and he basically told me to fuck off. That tends to make one a little leery of jumping into relationships.
Is it that guy whose picture youre always drawing?
Blush covered the artists pale skin. He looked down at his feet. Yeah, his names Brian.
Yeah, he is.
I told you, he told me to fuck off.
Come on, Im sure it wasnt like that.
It was. He told me I was just a fuck. I never saw him again.
Gosh. Justin, Im sorry. That had to have been so hard.
Theres a difference between surviving and moving on.
I know Car, I know.
The two friends were inseparable. They turned heads wherever they went. Carolyn was beautiful. She had long blonde hair and brown eyes. Working as a model since high school, she exuded high glamour. Justins beauty wasnt lost on anyone either. His blonde hair and blue eyes attracted attention wherever he went. People would cast wistful glances whenever they walked by.
One night during their second semester their lives changed forever. Attending a party with some friends, Justin and Carolyn found themselves embroiled in a game of truth or dare. One of their friends dared them to have sex. Not wanting to back down from a dare and feeling the bravado that only weed and alcohol could provide, the two friends had sex. Six weeks later, Carolyn found out she was pregnant.
Justin found Carolyn at his dorm room in tears. Car, whats wrong?
She looked up at Justin, her brown eyes filled with unshed tears. Justin, Im pregnant.
The young artist slid to the floor in shock. What? Are you sure?
Carolyn answered with only a nod. Justin embraced her and kissed her temple. Well be fine. Well figure something out.
Carolyns next statement floored him. I want to keep the baby.
Are you sure?
Yes, I really have no choice. I could never get rid of my baby. I wouldnt be able to live with myself. Its ok though, you dont have to do anything.
Carolyn, its my baby, too.
What do you want to do?
Lets get married.
Justin and Carolyn got married six weeks later. They went to a justice of the peace in San Francisco. Justins parents were livid. Jennifer was upset that Justin had gotten married without her being present. Craig was angry that his son was throwing his life away for a piece of ass. He felt that Carolyn was nothing but trash and wouldnt accept her as his sons wife.
Carolyns own parents were dead. They were killed in a car accident when she was sixteen and Carolyn had gone to live with her aunt. The settlement from the car accident took care of any financial worries. Carolyns aunt never wanted kids and was very happy to send Carolyn to college to get rid of her.
Jennifer Taylor got over her initial surprise about Justins marriage and embraced Carolyn as her daughter. Jennifer moved to California to help Justin and Carolyn get ready for the baby. During her absence, Craig moved out and filed for divorce. Jennifer was livid over Craigs actions and was happy to see him go.
Having his mother help them was a godsend to the young couple. In many ways they were still children facing very adult responsibilities. Carolyn loved being pregnant and Justin was very excited to be a father. By the time Samantha arrived, the young couple had fully embraced the idea of being parents and welcomed her wholeheartedly.
Samantha was a beautiful baby. She was the perfect combination of her parents. Knowing that she was truly loved, the little girl blossomed as she grew. Carolyn dropped out of school to work and raise Sam full time. Going back to work as a model, she made enough money to support them while Justin finished school. By the time Justin graduated, Carolyn was receiving national attention as a model.
Fourteen years earlier
Justin, Carolyn, and Sam were celebrating Justins graduation. Graduating magna cum laude with a degree in marketing and a minor in art, he had received several offers from advertising agencies in San Francisco. The offers were fantastic and would be financially beneficial to the young family. Justin was torn between his dream of being an artist and supporting his family. He knew the offers from the San Francisco firms were quite generous for someone of his limited experience. However, letting go of his dream was still something Justin was reluctant to do.
Having put Sam to bed, Justin and Carolyn were sharing a drink and a cigarette on the patio.
Theres something I need to talk to you about.
Sure, whats up?
Well Im not sure where to start. This is something that will affect all three of us.
I know youre not pregnant again. Although the couple occasionally had sex, they were very careful. Samantha was the bright point of their lives, but their relationship was so unconventional another child would complicate things.
Carolyn smacked him upside the head, Twat!
Seriously, whats going on?
I received an offer for a modeling contract, a really good one.
This was something Justin was not expecting. Carolyn had been modeling locally and she had a really good agent. What kind of contract?
Unsure about how to approach her husband with the news, its an exclusive contract with Armani. They want me to be the face of Armani.
Are you shitting me?
No, Jus, Im not. The problem is they want me in Italy. Its crazy, I know. You have these great job offers here.
Car, this is great! I dont want any of the jobs here. I want to be an artist. Italy would be wonderful for me. I can take care of Sam while youre working and concentrate on my art.
Are you sure?
Carolyn, this is the solution I have looking for. Its perfect.
Carolyn smiled up at her husband, thrilled at the way things were unfolding.
The young Taylor family moved to Milan and Carolyn began working. She loved working with Georgio Armani. Creating lines of clothes inspired by his young model enhanced the Armani line. Carolyns face became well known in the European fashion world. For some special layouts and campaigns, Justin would be commissioned to do paintings. It wasnt long before the young artist was just as in demand as his wife. Many fashion houses requested Justins work for their lines. It was an exciting time for the young family.
Milan was their home base. They had an apartment near the Museo del Risorgimento. Sam was growing up a very cultured and sophisticated young lady. By the time she was sixteen she had traveled the world with her parents. The Taylors were known internationally. Even though Carolyn was always loyal to Armani, she worked for many other houses over the years. As a painter, Justin was in demand all over the world.
Dad, have you seen my garment bag? Samantha Taylor ran into her parents bedroom in a panic.
No Sam, Im sure its in that mess you call a room.
Its not, Ive looked everywhere. I cant pack my dress for the show in my suitcase, it will be ruined. Sam flopped onto the bed in full drama princess mode.
Justin rolled his eyes at his daughter. She could be so overdramatic. They were getting ready to leave for Paris in a few days. Justin had a big show and Sam was excited. She loved Paris and Armani had designed a dress just for her. She was almost a dead ringer for her mother and the Armani designers loved to create clothes for her. Sometimes it was hard for Justin and Carolyn to keep their young daughter grounded. Agents in Milan had been after Carolyn for a couple of years to allow Sam to model for them. Sam had no interest in modeling. Her passion was painting, like her father. However having an Armani original gown to wear to her fathers show was very exciting for the seventeen year old.
Sam, go look again. Im sure its in your room somewhere.
Samantha heaved a sigh and went back to her room just as Carolyn was coming home. Carolyn watched her daughter stomp into her room. Laughing at her, she met her husband at the door to their room. Justin gave Carolyn a chaste kiss.
Hey Car, get everything arranged for our trip?
Yes, oh, great artiste, everything is arranged.
Howd your doctors appointment go?
Fine, he ran some tests, but figured my fatigue was from not enough rest. So I am officially on vacation for two months.
Good, you work too hard.
Oh, Dr. Minetti wants to see us tomorrow.
Hell have the rest of my test results. Im sure he wants to make sure youll force me to rest.
Well, you have been running yourself ragged for the last year.
Can I help it that I am so in demand?
The next day Justin held Cars hand as they listened to her doctor. Carolyn, weve found some cancerous cells in your pancreas. I think weve caught it early enough that it can be stopped with aggressive radiation and chemotherapy. I want you to start immediately.
Dr. Manetti, I am supposed to leave on a trip to Paris tomorrow.
Im sorry, Carolyn. We need to start your treatment immediately. Ill leave the two of you alone.
Justin looked into Carolyns eyes, Ill cancel the show.
Like hell you will. You heard the doctor. They caught it early enough. You and Sam go and Ill be waiting to hear all about it.
Justin was about to argue, but Carolyn silenced him with a stare. He could never win an argument with his wife.
Justin and Sam were enjoying Paris. Both missed Carolyn, but she was very insistent that they do the show. Knowing how stubborn Carolyn Taylor was, father and daughter could do nothing but agree. Their third day in Paris, Justin received the phone call that he was dreading.
Mr. Taylor, this is Dr. Manetti.
Oh, God! Yes, doctor.
Im afraid Carolyns condition was worse than we had originally thought. The cancer has spread too far. There is nothing we can do. I would suggest you and your daughter get back to Italy as soon as possible.
Within a week, Carolyn Taylor was dead.
Justin stood at Carolyns grave reliving their last conversation.
Leave it to you to do something so dramatic.
Bitch! They laughed until Carolyn started to cough.
Justin, I want you to promise me something.
After Im gone, I want you to take Sam back to America.
Thats crazy, our home is here.
No, Jus, your home is in America, more specifically, Pittsburgh. You need to find Brian.
Carolyn Taylor, you are delusional!
Carolyn struggled to sit up, No, you stubborn twat, I am not! You have buried that part of your life for seventeen years. You need to deal with it and move on. Youve been able to ignore it because Sam and I have distracted you, but your life was altered because of that man. You need to reconcile it and move on. Maybe you can move on with him.
Tears sprung to Justins eyes. He could never fool Carolyn. He had buried Brian Kinney deep in his heart for so long, but he was still there and Carolyn knew it. I dont know Carolyn. I dont think I can make that promise.
Then promise me youll try. Now Im tired. Hold me while I fall asleep. Justin crawled into his wifes bed and held her as she passed away.
Tears fell onto Carolyns headstone. Car, Im going to go back to Pittsburgh eventually, but thats all I can promise you.
Okay. Class, settle down. Suzanne Towers was having a hard time getting her senior homeroom class in line. She put her index and middle fingers into her mouth and let out a sharp whistle. The twenty teenagers stopped all their conversations and looked at her. Thank you. Now if you will all settle down please, we have a new student here today Samantha
Samantha Taylor stood up and turned to face the class. She was very nervous. Amongst her parents friends she was always very confident, but in front of her peers she was very nervous. Well, ah Im Samantha Taylor, but everyone calls me Sam. I just recently moved here from Italy. My mom passed away recently so I am living with my grandmother. Umm .. I guess thats it.
Well, welcome to Pittsburgh, Samantha.
Sam took her seat, never noticing a pair of hazel eyes that followed her.
Gus Peterson let himself into his fathers loft. He divided his time between his moms house and his dads. As he got older, Gus spent more time with Brian, much to Mels dismay. Lindsey convinced her that Gus needed his dad. Melanie grudgingly admitted that Brian was very good with Gus. The ad exec had changed a lot since Gus was born. Gone were the days of drugs, alcohol, and nameless tricks. At twenty nine years old, Brian Kinney had finally grown up.
Gus loved his fathers loft. It was very sleek and modern. Brian hadnt changed the décor much over the years. He had done some renovations over the years, mainly to accommodate the amount of time Gus spent with him. Brian allowed Gus to have friends over and even a couple of supervised parties once the boy hit high school.
Realizing that his father wasnt home, Gus booted up the computer to start his homework. Brian and Gus had established a tradition of having dinner on the first day of school so Gus could fill his father in on the new dynamics of his class. Brian was very involved in Guss education. Making sure his son took advantage of all the opportunities given to him was one of the many differences Brian had cultivated between himself and his own father.
An hour later, Brian let himself in the loft and was not surprised to see his son working at the computer. Hey Sonny Boy, how was the first day?
Same as usual Dad, same friends, same teachers, harder classes.
Brian smirked at his son. They were so much alike. Being nonchalant was their trademark. Gus had adopted Brians aloof nature, preferring that to being overdramatic. As a result, Gus was very popular. He had very good friends, participated in extra curricular activities, and was a hot topic amongst the girls. Brian always scratched his head in confusion over the fact that his son had turned out straight. Hell, he had three gay parents. The fact that he turned out straight was a mystery.
Father and son sat across from each other at the dining room table. They were eating Chinese food that had been delivered. Although many things about Brian had changed over the years, his cooking skills had never improved, so he was still a regular with all the take out restaurants in Pittsburgh.
So Sonny boy, how was school really?
It was fine, dad. Gus felt Brians eyes boring into him, and he knew he had to fess up. Well theres this new girl in my class.
Aah, I knew something had happened. So tell me about her.
Her name is Sam, Samantha. She just moved here from Italy and lives here with her grandmother.
So did you ask her out?
Dad! I didnt even talk to her.
Well, why not Gus, even though I like guys and you like girls, I know you inherited my charms.
I dont know dad, I just didnt.
Well, tell me about her.
Dad, shes beautiful.
Ill take your word for it.
She has long blonde hair, brown eyes, and a killer smile. It lights up the room. Gus was so engrossed in his memories of Sam, he didnt notice the look of sadness that crossed over Brians face.
Brian cleared the dishes after Gus had left. He loved spending time with his son. It was ironic. He never intended to have anything to do with the baby he gave to Lindsay. Everything changed the moment he held Gus in his arms. That night, seventeen years ago changed him forever. His son had been born and he had fallen in love.
Brian could never forget the kid he picked up the night Gus was born. Standing under a Liberty Avenue street lamp, Brian found his Sunshine. Over the years, Brian had fucked thousands of men and forgot them as soon as his dick slid out of their ass. This one he never forgot. Telling the kid he loved him as they fucked was a first for him. Taking him to the hospital after Gus was born was also very out of character for Brian. Breaking the young mans heart a few days later broke Brians heart as well.
Lindsay asked him a few times about the young man at the hospital. Brushing her questions off, Brian was able to keep his reputation intact. He was surprised the kid never came looking for him again. The night Brian sent Justin away, after the teen had interrupted him and Mr Good-fuck, was the last time he ever saw him.
Slowly, Brian began to change. The tear filled blue eyes haunted his dreams and nameless tricks began to lose their appeal. Suddenly, Brian found himself babysitting Gus and becoming a father. His friends were amazed at the transformation, but they never questioned why. Brian was grateful for that because he didnt know how he would answer if they asked.
He never knew what became of Justin. Hell, he didnt even know his last name. He always wondered if the kid was ok. There were times he thought about locating the teen, but he never did. Letting the kid invade his dreams was the only indulgence he would allow himself.
Samantha Taylor was spending her free period sitting under a tree in the quad. Engrossed in her sketching, she never heard Gus approach.
Youre Sam right?
She leaped around, startled, but calmed quickly when she saw the friendly hazel eyes. Sorry, I didnt mean to startle you.
Thats ok, you just surprised me.
Im Gus Peterson.
Its nice to meet you, what are you working on?
Just doodling really.
Can I see it?
Samantha looked away. She was very self-conscious about her artwork. Especially since her father was such a wonderful artist. Umm, Im not
Please, my mother is an artist. I would really like to see it.
Ok. She shyly handed Gus her sketch pad. She had been working on a portrait of her mother. Capturing all of Carolyns lust for life on the paper, Sam had created a haunting remembrance of her mother.
This is really beautiful. Is that your mother?
How did you know?
You look just like her. I remember that you said she passed away.
Yeah, a couple of months ago. Im staying with my grandmother.
Wheres your dad?
Hes an artist and he had some bookings overseas that they wouldnt let him cancel without serious ramifications. Its amazing how insensitive people can be. They didnt give a rats ass that he just lost his wife.
Wow, that sucks!
Tell me about it. His last show is in early December and then hell be here.
You must miss him a lot.
Yeah, were really close. We talk every night. Hes dealing with the shows as well as finalizing everything to move out of Italy.
Where did you live in Italy?
Milan. We moved there when I was three. My mom worked for Armani.
I knew she looked familiar, she was a model, wasnt she?
Yeah, she eventually worked for all the major houses. Everyone wanted her.
How did she die?
Samantha was quiet for a moment. Cancer. They thought they caught it early enough, but it was too accelerated. She died within a couple of weeks.
Gus took a chance and rested his hand on her arm, Im sorry.
Samantha unlocked the door to her grandmothers condo. Jennifer Taylor lived in a suburb area of Pittsburgh. After Molly moved away to go to college, Jennifer sold her house and bought something smaller. Although the circumstances were tragic, Jennifer loved having Sam live with her. The teenager was such a hybrid of her parents. Her elegance and grace were gifts from her mother, but her artistic talent and flair for the dramatics was pure Justin.
Jennifer was always amazed that Craig had rejected Carolyn and in extension his son. Jennifer had been a bright spot in their lives. She understood their unconventional marriage and knew how much Carolyn and Justin loved each other. Carolyn confided in her shortly after their wedding the truth about their arrangement. Jennifer figured out years ago that Justin was gay but she also knew he would honor his responsibility to Carolyn and Samantha.
Justin and Carolyn had a very good marriage and were wonderful parents to Sam. A mother couldnt ask for anything else for her child. Jennifer loved Carolyn as a daughter, but was always a little sad for Justin. Knowing that her son loved his wife but still feeling sad that he was missing out on a true love. Justin would never dishonor Carolyn or their vows. Perhaps now, he would have a chance at a real romance.
Sam is that you?
No, Nana, its a burglar come to rob you blind.
Jennifer emerged from the kitchen, drying her hands with a dish towel. Very funny, young lady. Go wash up. Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes.
Samantha complied with her grandmothers request. Twenty minutes later, the Taylor women were having dinner.
So how was school?
Samantha blushed and looked down at her plate, It was fine.
Noticing her granddaughters blush, Jennifer smiled to herself, Something tells me it was better than fine.
Its nothing, theres just this guy in my class
Aah, I see so, tell me about him.
Well, his name is Gus and hes like the most popular boy in my class, and hes really nice and really hot Samantha trailed off her enthusiastic description.
Jennifer grinned, remembering herself as a young girl having her first crush on Craig. So have you talked to this dreamboat or just admired him from afar?
He came up and talked to me during my free period today. Hes really sweet.
Well, youll just have to introduce me.
Slow down Nana, please.
Jennifer just giggled at her grandaughter.
So kiddo, how is school going? Justin was talking to Samantha as he did every night.
Its going pretty good.
Made any friends, any boyfriends? Noticing his daughters uncharacteristic silence, Justin knew that something was up. So you have met someone!
Dad, stop it!
Sorry princess, I cant help myself. So tell me about your Romeo.
Samantha sighed a full drama princess sigh that caused her father to giggle, Its just a guy in my class. We talked today during free period. Hes really nice and really cute.
Well, I want to hear all the details.
Dad! Theres not anything to tell.
Not yet princess, but Im sure there will be.
Father and daughter continued talking for a few minutes before saying goodnight.
Justin hung up the phone. He loved his nightly conversations with his daughter. They were so close and Justin hated that they were separated. Knowing that he would be back in Pittsburgh in a couple of months helped to lessen the pain, but he still missed being a part of Sams everyday life.
Packing up the house in Milan had been harder than he thought. Fourteen years of memories just buried into boxes, like they never lived there. The shows were going really well. Paintings were selling like wild fire. Ever since Carolyn died, Justin had become even more in demand as an artist. He hated the fact that it took his wifes death to bring him international fame.
Walking over to the closet, Justin pulled out his sketchbook. This was his journal, where he sketched out his innermost thoughts. Flipping through the pages, Justin found himself lost in memories. He looked over the pictures of Brian. The memories of meeting the older man had haunted him for years and they still haunted his dreams. Justin knew running into Brian would be a distinct possibility once he moved back to Pittsburgh. However, the two men wouldnt run in the same circles. Liberty Avenue held no appeal for the artist. Justin laughed at himself. Brian Kinney probably didnt remember him at all. The man had fucked thousands of men, who was he to assume the man would even remember him. Secretly though, Justin hoped he would.
Gus, hi! Sam was shocked to see the brunette walking towards her on the quad.
Thats a bitch of a project Summers gave us huh?
Yeah, I have no clue how Im going to do it. Their history teacher had assigned the senior class to research a historical era and put themselves in it. He wanted the students to create a biography for themselves set in some historical period.
You know, Mr. Summers did say we could partner up and do dual projects. Would you like to do the project together?
For a moment Samantha couldnt answer. She had been daydreaming about Gus for weeks, but figured he had no interest in her. Suddenly, here he was, asking her to partner with him on a school project. Umm, yeah, that would be great.
Cool, do you want to get together after school and brainstorm?
Ok, I just need to let my grandma know.
We can go to my dads place. He has hi-speed internet and we can start doing some research.
Brian trudged up the stairs to the loft. Even though he was forty six, keeping in shape was still a top priority. Although now he actually did it for his health rather than for vanitys sake. Not having been celibate for seventeen years, his tricking had just slowed down to almost nothing. He had actually had a couple of short relationships, nothing major, but he felt like more of a human being than just a fuck machine. However, his mind never strayed away from Justin. Pushing the young man away would always be his greatest regret. Many times over the years, Brian wished he could see the younger man just once to thank him. Meeting Justin had put Brian on the path of becoming a human being and he would be forever grateful.
Sliding open the door, Brian knew he would find Gus there. He had spotted his sons car downstairs. Gus used Brians place a lot for homework. It was always quiet and would allow the boy to focus on his assignments. What Brian wasnt expecting was to find Gus with a girl. The two teenagers were huddled in front of the computer.
Hey, Sonny Boy!
Gus beamed at his fathers entrance, Hi Dad! This is my friend Sam from school. Were working on a history project.
Brian surveyed the young woman in front of him. She was absolutely beautiful with long blonde hair and warm brown eyes, but it was her smile that was infectious. For some reason she seemed familiar, but Brian couldnt figure out why.
Its nice to meet you, Mr. Kinney. The girl had stood up and extended her hand in greeting. She was obviously a very well-mannered young lady, traits that came from being raised well.
Shaking her hand warmly, Call me Brian, Mr. Kinney is my father.
Sam smiled again, Ok Brian.
What are you two working on?
We have a history project that we partnered up on.
What kind of a project?
Sam answered this time, We have to choose a period in history, put ourselves in it, and write a biography.
Gus piped up, Yeah, but were stuck. We cant come up with a period. Any ideas?
Well, youve always been interested in ancient civilizations. What about ancient Egypt or Greece?
Dad, thats perfect! What do you think Sam?
Ive always been fascinated by ancient Egypt. Lets do it!
After Sam called Jennifer for permission, the two teenagers ended up staying for dinner. Brian found himself enjoying the company, the loft was always so lonely.
So Sam, you said you just moved to Pittsburgh this year?
Yeah, Im living with my grandmother right now.
Brian sensed there was more to the young womans situation than that, but didnt want to pry. Where did you live before?
I lived in Milan with my parents, but my mom passed away about six months ago.
Feeling immediately chagrined for putting the girl in an awkward position, Brian quickly apologized.
No, its ok. I mean, its really hard and I miss her a lot, but Im ok.
Gus decided to ask the question he had been wondering, What about your dad?
My dad is still in Italy right now. He had a lot of business contracts that he couldnt cancel after mom died so he is finishing them out and settling things in Italy. He should be in Pittsburgh by Christmas. Thats why Im living with my grandmother right now.
Gus couldnt imagine being separated from any of his parents for any significant length of time, Wow, that sucks.
Yeah, it does, but we talk every day. We just have to deal with it.
Brian found himself feeling outraged at Sams father. How could someone abandon their child after the death of a parent? Fuck that! Work isnt that important, family is.
Samantha really liked Guss dad. He was a straight shooter. She understood how the situation must look to someone on the outside. No, its not like that at all. My dad is an artist. He usually has shows booked up to a year in advance. After my mom died, he tried to cancel with the galleries he was still booked at, but they all threatened legal action if he cancelled. The money wasnt an issue, but in the art world, youre only as successful as your reputation. If he cancelled, the gallery owners would have slaughtered his reputation, and it was quite possible he would not be able to get any bookings in the future. We talked about it and I was the one who pushed him to fulfill the contracts. He was ready to drop it all, but my mom wouldnt have wanted him to do that. My grandmother and I didnt want him to either. Its only a few months, well survive.
Brian found himself admiring the young woman who sat at his table. He recognized her strength of character. That must have been instilled by her parents. He immediately felt bad for assuming the worst of her father.
The trio finished dinner and Gus left to take Sam home. Relaxing with a bottle of beer, Brian sat on the couch, contemplating the evening. Gus was certainly taken with Sam, that much was obvious. Brian had always wondered how he would feel when Gus found someone he was interested in. His son had dated a lot since he entered high school, but nothing serious. He took after his old man in that regard. Sam was the first person Gus seemed to be truly interested in, especially since he brought her to the loft. Other girls he dated were not brought to Brian. Because he lived with Mel and Linds, the Munchers had met many of Guss dates, but he never introduced them to Brian. Whenever Brian asked, Gus always shrugged and asked what was the point, they were never serious. So Sam must be special.
Gus and Sam worked almost everyday after school on their project. Once Brian gave them the idea to go with ancient Egypt, the two teenagers were off to the races. Jennifer Taylor had met Gus the first night he brought Sam home. She found him to be a very nice young man, so Jennifer had no problem with Sam spending so much time with him. She knew they worked on their project at Guss dads home. Since Gus was such a fine young man, Jennifer figured his parents must be good people. Sam was always talking about Guss dad. Her grand-daughter was quite taken with Brian Kinney, in a fatherly way. Knowing how much Sam missed Justin, Jennifer thought it was nice that Guss dad was able to slightly fill the void. Neither Taylor women told Justin about it though. They both knew Justin was already distraught about sending Sam to Pittsburgh alone. They didnt want to hurt his feelings any more.
Brian had become accustomed to coming home and finding the pair hard at work. As the weeks passed by, he found Sam opening up to him. Brian could tell the young woman missed her father greatly and he was happy to fill in for him. As a father, he knew that Sams dad must hate being separated from her. Brian couldnt imagine being apart from Gus for any period of time.
Hi, dad!!! Sam was getting settled for her nightly talk with her father. Spending time with Gus and his dad had made her miss Justin even more. She never mentioned it though because she didnt want Justin to feel bad.
I had three pieces selected for the student art show!
Really? Sam, thats wonderful!
Yeah. The faculty always selects the pieces for the Winter Art Show. I submitted, but I didnt think I would be chosen because I was new, but they picked all of my pieces!
Honey, thats great!
I am so excited. I just wish you could be here to see it.
I know baby, me too. Ive got everything settled here in Milan. So, as soon as my last show is done, I will be in Pittsburgh.
Samantha was ecstatic, Really? When?
Ill be there just before Christmas. I figure we can look for a house during your Christmas vacation.
Oh, daddy. Thats wonderful!!
I miss you Sam.
Holding back her tears, I know Daddy, I miss you too, but well be together soon.
Justin hung up the phone with a heavy heart. He hated being away from Sam. Losing Carolyn had been terrible, but now he felt like he was losing his daughter. Knowing they would be reunited soon didnt ease his pain. From talking with his mom, he knew Sam was spending a lot of time with a boy shed met at school. Sam never mentioned it and Justin didnt ask. He didnt want Sam to think Jennifer was betraying her confidence. His mother also told him Sam was spending a lot of time with her friends father and Justin found himself resenting the man who got to spend time with his daughter. Shaking off those feelings, Justin allowed himself to be grateful to the man that was filling in for him.
Jennifer had e-mailed him the details about the art show at Sams school. The show was scheduled during the one break he had between shows. He had about two weeks between his last show in Paris and his last one in London. The high school art show was scheduled during the first week. Deciding that he would surprise his daughter, Justin e-mailed Jennifer with his plans.
Brian had just gotten back from the gym and heard a knock at the loft door. Not expecting anyone, he was surprised to find Samantha Taylor on the other side.
Sam! Come on in. Is Gus meeting you here?
No, Brian, I actually wanted to talk to you.
Intrigued, Brian invited the young woman in. As she settled down at the breakfast bar, Brian offered her a drink. Handing the girl a bottle of water, he settled down to hear what she wanted to talk to him about. They had spent a lot of time together while she was working on the project with Gus, but she had never come to see him alone.
Well, Ive had some pieces selected for the student art show next week.
Sam, thats great! Brian knew the young woman was very serious about her art, so this had to be quite an accomplishment.
Thanks. Unfortunately my dad wont be able to be there so I wondered ummm if you might want to come.
Sam, I would be honored to be there for you. Gus and I will both be there.
The girls smile lit up the room. Really? Thank you! I want you to meet my grandmother, shell be there.
Sunshine, I would like to meet your grandmother too.
Yeah, your smile, its like sunshine. Deb, a friend of mine, gave that nickname to someone we used to know because of his smile. It fits you.
The young girl blushed and lowered her eyes, Thank you, Brian. Youve been like another dad to me, it really means a lot.
Sam, you are an exceptional young lady and I know how much you miss your dad. Im glad I can fill that void for you, even for a little while.
The night of the art show came very quickly. Sam was a nervous wreck and nothing Jennifer did would calm her down. Knowing that Justin was going to surprise Sam warmed Jennifers heart. Her son was an exceptional father, just like she knew he would be. Jennifer was also anxious to meet Brian Kinney. Sam had confided in her grandmother that she had asked Guss father to come to the show. The younger woman was worried that asking Brian would be a betrayal to Justin, but Jennifer quickly silenced her fears. Samanthas relationship with Brian did nothing to diminish her grandaughters relationship with her own father. Still Sam felt bad.
Sam was standing with Jennifer when she saw Gus and Brian enter the auditorium. The two men made quite a striking pair. They exuded a confidence that was seldom seen. Gus caught Sams eye and they made their way across the room.
Jennifer saw the two men approach. She recognized Guss father immediately, he was an older version of Gus.
Hello, Mrs. Taylor.
Hello, Gus. Its nice to see you.
This is my father, Brian Kinney.
Mr. Kinney, its very nice to meet you. Ive heard a lot about you.
Please call me Brian.
Sam led Gus away from the adults. She wanted to show him her pieces. Brian and Jennifer found themselves standing alone.
Brian, I wanted to thank you.
Brian cocked an eyebrow at the elegant woman, Thank me? For what?
For spending the time you have with Sam. She misses my son greatly. They are very close and it has been very hard for them to be apart. Youve helped with that.
Sam is a great girl. You and your son have a lot to be proud of.
Thank you, Brian, but the credit goes to Justin and Carolyn. They had her very young, but have been amazing parents.
Brian barely registered the names Jennifer Taylor gave him, Im sorry for your loss. Samanthas mother.
Its been hard, but were getting through it. Jennifers words were interrupted when she heard a shriek from her grandaughter. She turned to see that Justin had just entered the auditorium.
Sam flew across the room and leapt into her fathers arms. Daddy, youre here!
You didnt think I would miss your artistic debut, did you?
Why didnt you tell me you were coming?
Duh! Sam, its called a surprise.
Sam just embraced her father in her arms, Come one, I want you to meet some people.
Justin was led across the room towards his mother. His stomach clenched when he saw who his mother was talking to.
Dad, this is my friend Gus and this is his dad.
Justin stared at Brian and automatically reached out his hand, Justin Taylor.
Hazel eyes stared at him without a flicker of recognition, Brian Kinney.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur. Justin went through the motions, only coming out of his daze when he saw his daughters paintings. Sam truly had a gift. His daughter would surpass his accomplishments if she chose to pursue her art.
Brian and Gus left quickly after Justin arrived. The blonde mans heart broke all over again when Brian greeted him as a stranger. There was no flicker of recognition in his hazel eyes. All of Justins adolescent dreams came crashing down around him.
Several hours later, Justin was sitting on Jennifers porch smoking a cigarette.
Want some company?
Justin looked up at his mother and gestured to the chair opposite him.
Justin, whats going on?
What do you mean?
Jennifer gave her son a glare that told him she didnt buy his explanation. Youve been on auto-pilot since the show. So whats going on?
Mom, sit down. There are some things you need to know.
You told me you always knew I was gay. You even accepted my unconventional marriage to Carolyn, but there are some things you dont know.
So, tell me.
When I was seventeen I went down to Liberty Avenue. Jennifer grimaced. She had heard about the notorious gay district of Pittsburgh. The fact her son had ever been there made her nervous. I met a man there. He picked me up and took me home with him. Before anything happened we had to go to the hospital, you see his son had been born. He even let me name his son. Later on, he took me home and we made love. Well, we fucked to use his words.
Jennifer was beginning to feel sick to her stomach. She knew about Justins sexuality, but this story was making her blanch.
I guess you could say it was love at first sight, for me anyway. When I approached him about having a relationship, he basically told me to fuck off.
I dont understand what that has to do with your behavior tonight.
The man was Brian Kinney.
Jennifers eyes widened in surprise, Oh shit!
Lying on his bed smoking a cigarette, Brian reviewed the evenings events. He felt like such a shit. Being introduced to Justin Taylor had affected him deeply. He had no idea the man that had haunted his dreams for seventeen years was Sams father. Logistically, he should have known. Samantha had been so familiar to him, like they had known each other before. He had never entertained the notion that she was Justins daughter.
Remembering the electricity that had shot through his body as they shook hands, Brian wondered what he was feeling. He had treated Justin like he was a stranger and he noticed the brief flash of pain that had crossed Justins eyes. His indifference had hurt the younger man deeply. For years, Brian had wondered what became of the twink he had picked up. Now he knew. He was a successful artist. He had a daughter and he had recently lost his wife. So many questions plagued Brians brain that it was hard for him to sleep.
Justin was working on a new painting. He had converted his mothers patio to a temporary studio while he was in town. He was thankful for the solitude. Sam was at school and Jennifer was at work. The ringing of the doorbell shook him from his thoughts.
Opening the door to find Brian Kinney standing on the other side shocked him. Mr. Kinney, this is a surprise.
Justin dont. I came here to apologize.
Justin sucked in his breath, Apologize for what?
Lowering his gaze away from Justin, For my behavior the other night. I shouldnt have acted like I didnt know you. I was just so surprised to see you. That and the fact that you are Sams father, well, I just wasnt expecting it.
Justin stood on the front porch shocked. He didnt know how to react. Well, its been a long time.
Yeah, it has. Anyways, I just wanted to say I was sorry. Brian turned to walk away.
Dont you walk away from me! The older man turned and stared. Youve haunted my thoughts and my dreams for seventeen years. Dont walk away from me now.
Pressing his tongue into his cheek, Brian smirked at the younger man. Ive been haunted too, Sunshine.
Justin was too shocked to respond as Brian got into his car and drove away.
Justin stared in shock as Brian got into his car and drove away. To have the older man seek him out for an apology was not something he expected. Knowing that Brian remembered him had warmed his heart. This was a gift he was not expecting. Justin grabbed the keys to his rental car and headed out.
Brian slammed into the loft and poured himself a glass of Jim Beam. His visit to Justin was not something he was expecting to do, but he had to apologize. Seeing the hurt in Justins eyes made him realize he had to see the blonde.
Sharp knocking at the loft door pulled him from his thoughts. Pulling the door open, Brian found Justin standing there, out of breath.
I couldnt let you walk away from me like that.
The two men stood across from each other, neither one giving an inch. Suddenly, they were snapped from their reverie and they attacked each other. Their lips met and they kissed with a desperate passion. Neither man had felt anything like this in years. Their lips were locked and their hands ripped at clothes. They fucked on the couch, on the chaise before making their way to the bed.
Brian hoisted Justin over his shoulder and carried him to the bed. He gently dropped the younger man onto the mattress and crawled on top of him. Using the younger man like he had dreamt of for years, Brian nipped and sucked Justin until the younger man was panting in desperation.
They made love with such passion that both men were breathless. Words had no place in their coupling; they could only speak with their bodies. They sucked and fucked until their bodies gave out from sheer exhaustion.
Several hours later, Justin rolled out of bed, I need to go. I have to go back to Europe tomorrow and I have things to take care of.
Before Brian could respond the blonde artist was dressed and running out the door.
Justin packed up his things and prepared to go back to Europe. He needed to be in London the next day. While he was packing, he thought about his encounter with Brian. He had finally unleashed the passion he had been holding onto for seventeen years. He had no idea how he would face living in Pittsburgh. His heart and soul belonged to Brian Kinney, but he remembered the older mans words to him. A relationship with Brian was out of the question.
Saying goodbye to his mom and Sam almost killed him. Justin promised his daughter that he would be back in a few weeks and they would go house hunting. Sam tried so hard to be brave, but her tears betrayed her feelings. Justin and Sam clung to each other. Jennifer had to separate them. The Taylor women watched with sadness as Justin left them.
Brian relived making love with Justin over and over again. He knew that he loved the blonde. Even though their time together had been short, Brian was in love. His heart sank when Justin left the loft after they had made love. He needed to see his lover. He needed to know the events of the last seventeen years. Somehow he had to make Justin see that they were meant to be together.
Brian found himself at Jennifer Taylors door a few days later.
Brian, this is a surprise.
Hi Jennifer ummm I was hoping to talk to Justin.
Well, he left a couple of days ago. He has a show in London in a few weeks. He needed to prepare for it.
Oh, I see well, I guess Ill go.
Brian wait, please come in.
The ad-exec followed the elegant blonde into her home. Justin told me about you, that he met you years ago.
Brian looked away, refusing to meet Jennifers gaze. I guess you would like me to go.
No, Brian. I admit, when he told me about what happened between the two of you I was angry. That was years ago and I dont see that man standing before me. I see the man who stepped in to be a surrogate father to my grand-child. I see a man who has raised a wonderful young man. We were all different people seventeen years ago and it has no bearings on today. What I need to know is how you feel about my son now.
I love him, I always have.
Hell be in London for a few weeks. Hes staying at Claridges. Its his last show that he needed to do. Then he will be home.
I need to go to London.
I hoped you would say that.
Justin had been in London for a week. As much as he loved the city, his heart ached for Brian. He never should have made love with Brian. It made reality that much harder. Feeling Brian inside him was something he would never forget. He felt like such a silly fag for holding onto Brian for so long, but he couldnt let go. A knock at his hotel room jolted him from his memories.
Can I come in?
Justin opened the door and allowed Brian entrance. What are you doing here?
Your mom told me where you were staying.
Unable to believe that Brian was actually in London, Why did you care?
Hazel eyes stared into blue ones, Because I love you.
Justin looked at the taller man incredulously. What the fuck are you talking about? You dont do love, you like fucking, getting in and out with a minimal amount of bullshit. Believe me, I remember that lesson well!
Look into my eyes Justin, do you really think that asshole you met seventeen years still exists? My life started to change the night I sent you away.
Afraid to believe Brians words, Justin could only stare, Really?
Yeah. I realized that I made a huge mistake sending you away. I was still wrapped up in my King of Liberty Avenue reputation that I couldnt admit I might want something more. By the time I realized what I had done, it was too late. Fuck, I didnt even know your last name.
You knew where I went to school. Justin was a little leery of letting Brian off the hook too easily.
I know, and I thought about stalking you there, but I figured after the way I treated you, I would be the last person you wanted to see.
It hurt Brian. My heart was broken. However, I know now that it was for the best. What kind of relationship could I have had at seventeen? I was stupid to get so wrapped up in a crush.
Thats all you feel for me, a crush? The hurt was evident in Brians hazel eyes.
Yes and no. Youll always be my first and that will never go away, but its silly to base your whole emotional life on a one night stand. Justin hoped his words sounded convincing.
Id say youre full of shit, Sunshine. The blonde wasnt fooling him for a minute. So howd you end up married with a kid?
Wincing at Brians sarcastic question, Justin didnt like anyone belittling his marriage to Carolyn. I took your advice, found myself a pretty little girl and got married.
Brian immediately regretted his words. He had no idea what Justins life had been like, but he was sure the young artist had taken his vows seriously. I didnt mean to sound like an ass Justin, Im sorry.
You dont do sorry, Brian.
Yes, I do Justin, I really do.
Justins show was later that night, so he ushered Brian to his own room. Knowing it would be a bad idea to share a room, Justin had insisted Brian book a room of his own. It was obvious the older man was upset about being shoved away, but Justin didnt want to take any chances.
Arriving at Brians room just before six that evening, the younger man wondered if he looked ok. He was dressed in a pair of black wool slacks and a royal blue silk shirt that brought out the blue in his eyes. Justins jaw dropped when Brian opened his door. The beauty of the older man still amazed Justin. Brian was dressed in his customary black. Black silk trousers hugged his slim hips and draped gracefully down his legs. A black knit sweater hugged his torso and was shot through with silver threads. Justin knew Brian was nearing fifty, but you would never know it to look at the older man.
The show was being held at the A&D Gallery on Chiltern Street. Tonights gala was completely dedicated to Justins work. Brian watched in amazement as his former twink glided effortlessly through the London art set. The blonde was truly in his element. Brian felt a little out of place, but Justin would appear at his side periodically and soothe him with a glance or a discreet caress.
Brian found himself staring at portraits of a woman who could only be Justins wife. Samantha looked just like her mother. Justin had snuck up behind him and rested his hand on his shoulder.
I had no idea Carolyn Taylor was your wife.
What do you mean?
Sunshine, Im a fashion whore. I know the face of Carolyn Taylor. Im surprised I didnt put it together, Sam looks just like her.
Tears welled up in Justins eyes, Yeah, I see Carolyn in her all the time. I know I was being a twat earlier, but I wanted to thank you Brian. My mom has told me about the time you have spent with Sam. It was hard for her, losing Carolyn and then me having to stay here because of the assholes I work with.
I was glad to do it, Sunshine. She is a wonderful young woman and I enjoy spending time with her.
Still, it means a lot to both of us.
Unable to trust his voice, Brian could only nod, How much longer do you have to stay?
Lets get out of here.
The two men found themselves at an out of the way pub. Settling down with their drinks, Brian decided it was time to get some questions answered.
So seriously, how did you end up married with a kid?
I ended up going to Stanford for college. Car and I met right away and became fast friends. She knew I was gay and was cool with it. One night at a party we were drunk and high and playing truth or dare with friends. Anyway, someone dared us to have sex, so we did. Nine months later Sam came along. We decided to get married and raise our child. My parents were livid. My mom eventually got over it and adopted Car as a second daughter. My dad never did. He thought Carolyn was trash and divorced my mom soon after.
If Carolyn knew that you were gay why was she willing to enter into such an unconventional marriage?
Justin wasnt sure how much of his wifes secrets he should share, but Brian was the man he loved and he didnt want to hide anything. He was sure Carolyn would understand. Carolyns parents died when she was a teenager and she was sent to live with an aunt and uncle. Her uncle sexually abused her, so she didnt trust men. The fact that I was gay made her feel very safe.
Nodding his understanding, Brian continued, How did you end up in Italy with Carolyn working for Armani?
She had modeled in high school and continued after Sam was born to help with money. She caught Armanis attention and we became an Italian family.
How did she
Die? Brian nodded. We were getting ready to head to a show in Paris. She had been fatigued for a long time. She went in for a check up before we left and the doctors found cancer. It had already spread too far for them to do anything. She only lived a few more weeks. Justins voice trailed off in sadness. Brian clasped his hand and their fingers entwined.
Im so sorry.
Making their way back to the hotel didnt take very long. Needing no words, the two men came together quickly. They were gentle in their touches. The urgency they had felt earlier had fallen away. Tonight was about the love the two men felt for each other. They kissed for what seemed like hours. Their tongues seduced each other and their passion was slowly ignited.
Brian slowly unbuttoned the silk shirt Justin wore. He kissed each patch of skin as it was revealed. Once the shirt was removed, Brian went to work on Justins pants. He slid the slacks down the younger mans hips. Justin was wearing no underwear and his cock was already erect. Brian went to his knees and worshipped Justins cock. The younger man didnt last long and was soon cumming in Brians mouth.
Quickly removing his own clothes, Brian lifted Justin up and carried him into the bedroom. He handed Justin a condom and lube and indicated the younger man to prepare him. They made love that night like they had so many years ago.
No words were needed as the two men fell asleep in each others arms.
Justin stood over the grave of his wife and gently laid the bouquet of roses he had brought her. He didnt want to return to Pittsburgh without visiting her. Justin also needed to bring Brian to her. Carolyn was so much a part of his life, he needed to share her with the man who was his soul mate.
Brian insisted that he wanted to meet Carolyn. Justin had loved her so much and Sam was her reincarnation that Brian needed to visit the grave of this amazing woman. Saddened that he never had the chance to meet her while she was still alive, the older man knew that her spirit would live on forever in her daughter and her husband.
Justin, do you think you should bring her home to Pittsburgh?
Looking up at Brian, staring at him with love in his eyes, Justin shook his head. No, Italy was Carolyns home. This is where she belongs.
Where do you belong?
Wrapping his arms around Brians neck, Justin only had one answer, With you.
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