Justin sat at his desk trying to absorb the news he just received from his boss. After twenty years, Gardner Vance was selling Vanguard Agency. He was putting it on the market in ten days, and he told Justin first incase he would be interested in buying it.  Boy was he interested. The only problem is that he had no idea where he would come up with the 2.5 million dollars Gardner was asking for it. He was 29 years old and had been working there since he graduated from PIFA at the top of his class when he was 22. By the time he was 25, he was the head of the art department with a sizeable crew beneath him. Now he would have to start all over again, rebuilding his reputation and working his way back up to the top. He had to come up with a plan. A way to get the money he needed to buy Vanguard and make his dreams become reality. His thoughts were interrupted when his assistant walked through the door.


“Hey Boss, do you need anything before I take off for the weekend?” Cynthia asked, noticing the stressed look on his face.


Justin looked up at Cynthia and tried to smile. The last thing he wanted to do was lay his problems on her. She was a godsend to him ever since she was hired as his assistant a week after his promotion. They had a wonderful working relationship and they had become very close in their years together, although he had always managed to keep his personal life separate from his work. He knew that she had begun to assume that he and Daphne were an item, and although he had been out of the closet since he was seventeen, he never did anything to deter her thoughts. He fully believed that once your personal and professional life collided, trouble wasn’t far behind.


“The weekend?” Justin asked, suddenly realizing what she had said. “It’s only Thursday.”


“I know, I have a friend coming in from out of town so I took tomorrow off as a vacation day. I just reminded you about it this morning,” Cynthia replied. “Is everything alright? You seem distracted.”


“I guess I have a lot on my mind. Don’t worry about it. Enjoy your weekend,” Justin said, going back to the file in front of him.


“Justin, does this have anything to do with the meeting you had with Gardner? I noticed that he’s been walking around in a particularly good mood today,” Cynthia asked, trying to put the pieces together.


“Look Cyn, I don’t want to ruin your weekend, so we’ll talk about it on Monday. By then I might have some idea of what I’m going to do,” Justin explained, knowing that she wouldn’t be satisfied with his answer.


“That’s it. Out with it, Justin. You know I won’t be able to have a good weekend until I know what’s going on. If it’s about Vanguard, it affects me, too.”


Justin knew she was right, so he figured he might as well tell her. “Gardner is putting the company on the market. He’s retiring and moving to Florida,” Justin explained, rising from his chair to look out the window.


“He’s what? But what about us?” Cynthia asked, suddenly worried about their future.


“Well, he said he’d put in a good word for us with the new owners,” Justin tried to offer comfort.


“That’s bullshit!”


Justin was startled by Cynthia’s reaction. He had never heard her curse before. “Relax, Cyn. There is one other option.”


“What’s that?”


“Well, he said he told me early incase I was interested in buying the place. He said he knew I would be able to keep it at the top,” Justin sighed.


“That’s a great idea, Justin. So what’s the problem?”


“The problem is that I don’t know how I’ll ever get my hands on the 2.5 million he’s asking,”


“Oh,” Cynthia whispered.


 They were in trouble.


Cynthia drove to the airport lost in thought. She loved working at Vanguard and didn’t know what she would do if she suddenly found herself out of a job. Everyone knew that when a company like Vanguard was sold to new owners, they always fired the staff and brought in their own people. As she parked her car and found the gate her friend was flying into, she mentally calculated how she would survive on a smaller salary. She was so engrossed in her troubles that she never heard her friend approach.


“What the fuck kind of welcome it this?”


“Oh Brian! I don’t know what I’m going to do!” Cynthia blurted out, throwing herself into Brian’s arms.


‘It’s good to see you, too’ Brian thought to himself as he held Cynthia in his arms. It seemed to him that it was going to be a long visit.






Cynthia finally pulled herself together, ashamed of the way she broke down in front of Brian. She hadn’t seen her best friend in over four years and the last thing she wanted to do was drop her problems in his lap.


“I’m so sorry, Brian. That wasn’t exactly the welcome home I wanted you to have. Forget I said anything and let’s go get your bags,” she said as cheerfully as she could.


“Cyn, it’s okay. Obviously you’re upset about something. How about we go get my bags and head to the hotel and you can tell me all about it on the way?” Brian offered, wanting to help his friend.


“No Brian, that’s okay. I’ll be…hotel? What do you mean hotel? I thought I told you that you could stay with me?”


“I know, but I figured it would be better if I stayed at the Holiday Inn. I didn’t want to interrupt anything,” Brian explained as they headed towards the baggage claim.


“Interrupt what? My social life? I told you Brian, there’s no need to worry about that. I haven’t had a social life in years,” Cynthia chuckled. “Now why don’t you pull out that fancy cell phone I know that you have and cancel your reservation? You’re staying with me and that’s final, got it?” she demanded gently.


“Bossy little bitch, aren’t you?” Brian laughed as he did what he was told.


“And don’t you forget it,” she replied with an evil smile.


Forty minutes later they were headed to Cynthia’s condo talking about the old days and catching up.


“What about Kevin? Do you ever hear from him anymore?” Cynthia asked as she turned down her street.


“He called me about a year ago, asking me to reconsider being in a relationship. I told him to drop dead,” Brian teased.


“You did not!”


“No, I didn’t. I did tell him that he needed to get some help, though. I mean, come on…me in a relationship? What was he thinking?” Brian laughed.


“Oh, that’s right. God forbid the great Brian Kinney was to settle down and be in a relationship,” Cynthia joked.


“Perish the thought.”


Once they got inside, Cynthia showed Brian to her guest room and gave him some time to unpack while she went into the kitchen and threw together a salad for dinner. She still remembered the no carbs after seven rule. After dinner, they settled down in the living room with a bottle of wine before Brian broached the subject occupying his thoughts since the airport.


“Okay Cyn, tell me what’s got you so upset.”


“Really Brian, it’s no big deal,” Cynthia replied, trying to ease Brian’s mind so he would forget about her little break down.


“Bullshit! There’s obviously something bothering you and I’m not going to let it go until you tell me what it is,” Brian insisted, refusing to drop the subject.


“You’re a pain in the neck, you know that?” she teased.


“I’ve been called worse, now spill it.”


“Gardner Vance is selling the company,” she blurted out, knowing he wouldn’t have left her alone if she didn’t.


“Oh…shit,” Brian replied.


“Yeah, oh shit is right. You know as well as I do that once the new owners come in, they are going to fire us all and bring in their own people. It took me a long time to find a job that I not only enjoy, but one that pays me well enough to live comfortably on my own. Now I’m going to have to start back at the beginning again,” she sighed, trying to hold back her emotions.


“Maybe not, Cyn. What about Jason?”


“You mean Justin? Come on Brian, I’ve worked for and talked about him for over four years and you still can’t remember his name?” Cynthia chuckled.


“Sorry, I don’t do names. Anyway, what about Justin? What does he think about the situation?” Brian asked.


“I think he’s as upset as I am. It’s actually worse for him. He’s worked their ever since graduation from PIFA. He worked his way up from the bottom. To lose it all now is just devastating for him. The fact that Vance had to dangle a carrot in front of him makes it worse,” Cynthia said as her anger rose.


“Dangle what carrot? I don’t think you mentioned that part,” Brian asked, curiously.


“He told Justin that he would wait ten days till he put it on the market, in case Justin was interested in buying it. As if the head of the art department would have that kind of money lying around,” she stated angrily.


“How much money are we talking about?”


“2.5 million. I mean come on, he knows what Justin’s salary is. He knows damn well that he doesn’t have that kind of money. The average person doesn’t.”


“No, they don’t,” Brian agreed, but his mind was spinning with possibilities. He had enough money to buy and sell the company ten times over, thanks to a nice inheritance and very smart investing. In fact, one of the reasons for his return to the Pitts was to look around for some property he could invest in. His accountant told him that now was a good time to sink some of his cash into something that could give him a decent return. What better to invest in than an already successful company? It’s not like he would have to stay there and run the place. If this Jason, Justin, who ever the fuck was thinking about buying it, than he must know what he’s doing. All Brian had to do was throw a little extra money his way and he would be free to go back to his nice, uncomplicated life. Cynthia would be there to look after his interests, too; at a larger salary of course. His thoughts were interrupted when he realized that Cynthia was calling him.


“Brian? Where did you go?”


“Oh, sorry. I forgot I had to make a call. I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Brian said as he stood up and headed towards his room. He pulled out his cell phone and called the one person he knew he could trust when it came to his money. 


“Ted Schmidt.”


“Hey Theodore, it’s me,” Brian replied.


“Brian? I thought you were away visiting a friend for the next week. Is something wrong?” Ted asked, wondering why he was getting a night call from his best client, and somewhat close friend.


“I am visiting a friend, but something has come up. Remember when you advised me to do something with my money? Something about making a return on my investment? Something just kind of fell into my lap. I wanted to run it by you before I did anything,” Brian explained quietly so Cynthia wouldn’t be able to here him.


“You mean Brian Kinney actually listened to something I said? Can’t be! Who are you and what have you done with the real Brian Kinney?” Ted teased.


“Just shut the fuck up and listen to me, Theodore,” Brian replied dryly. He then went on to explain what Cynthia had told him and his idea.


“Well Brian, I must say, it sounds like that would be perfect for you. You know a lot about advertising so it’s not like you wouldn’t know what to do,” Ted pointed out.


“True, although I have no plans on running the place. I figured with the proper people in place, I could be a silent owner. Cynthia would be there to make sure everyone remembered who exactly was boss. If I play my cards right, aside from the first day, I wouldn’t even have to step foot in the place.”


“Do you trust Cynthia that much?” Ted asked, although he knew Brian wouldn’t even suggest this if he didn’t.


“With my life, Ted. We grew up together, remember?” Brian reminded him.


Ted knew exactly what Brian meant. He didn’t know the particulars of Brian’s childhood, just enough to know that if Cynthia was there for him then, she was his friend for life. “Alright then, just let me do some checking tomorrow and make sure the business is as sound as it seems to be, although with an asking price of 2.5, I’m sure it is. I’ll call you tomorrow by noon, okay?”


“Great, thanks Ted,” Brian said before ending the call. He smiled to himself before rejoining Cynthia in the living room.


“Is everything alright?” Cynthia asked as Brian returned.


“Yeah, just some business I had to take care of. So what do you say we watch Dirty Dancing?” Brian chuckled as he plopped down beside her.


“It’s already in the DVD player, my friend,” Cynthia laughed, thrilled to have her friend back, even if it was only for one week.






The next morning, Brian and Cynthia headed out early, going to breakfast before taking a trip to Philadelphia. When they were young, Cynthia’s parents always took them to the city to see the museums and since they hadn’t been there in years, she thought it would be fun to relive old memories. Brian didn’t think it would be fun to think about the good old days, but went along with it anyway. Around noon Brian’s cell rang and he knew without looking that it would be Ted.


“Cynthia, I have to take this. I’ll be right back,” he told her as he walked away to answer the call. “Hey Theodore, what did you find out?”


“Hey Brian, Vanguard is as stable as they come. In fact, it’s one of the top agencies in the country. I think it would definitely be a sound investment. I take it you are going to make them an offer?” Ted asked, knowing Brian too well.


“Yeah, do me a favor. Give Gardner Vance a call and set up a meeting, off site. See if he’ll meet with me on Monday. He’s not putting it on the market for another week. I want to get him before he takes that step,” Brian explained.


“You know I’m not your secretary, right?”


“Of course I do. I pay you better than I would ever pay a secretary. I’ll wait for your call,” Brian said before ending the call.


“Is everything alright?” Cynthia asked, as Brian rejoined her.


“Just fabulous, now how about we grab some lunch?” Brian answered, dragging her towards the café down the street.


Justin sat in his office, trying hard not to get himself too upset over the impending sale of the company. He had just spoken to Gardner and informed him that as much as he would love to purchase Vanguard, there was just no way he had the ability to do that. He could have sworn he saw relief in the man’s face before he left. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was already after seven. He had been sitting there for over two hours, trying to decide what to do next. He knew that he needed to work on his resume over the weekend so that he was prepared for when the ax fell. Without even thinking, he reached for the phone, wanting to touch base with Cynthia.




“Hey Cyn, it’s me,” he replied, trying to sound cheerful.


“Hey Justin, I was hoping you’d call. Hang on for a minute,” Cynthia replied before pulling the phone away and yelling to Brian that she’d be right back. “Sorry about that. Now tell me what happened with Gardner today. Did you talk to him?”


“Shit, I’m sorry, Cyn. I forgot you had company. I guess I’m just used to running to you with all the work bullshit. You go back to your guest and I’ll just talk to you on Monday,” Justin answered sheepishly. He had completely forgotten about her plans for the weekend and didn’t want to interfere.


“Justin, its fine. Now tell me what happened,” Cynthia assured him, then sat quietly while Justin told her about his talk with Gardner. “That bastard! I have half a mind to go in there and tell him exactly what I think of him!”


“Relax, Cyn, it’s no big deal. We all know what an asshole he is. Maybe this is for the best. I’m getting kind of tired of working my ass off to make him look good, anyway. Maybe my next boss will be a better person,” Justin replied, trying to sound optimistic.


“You mean our next boss. You better take me wherever you go, Justin. It took me years to get used to your mood swings. I don’t want to have to start all over again,” she teased.


“Ha, ha, very funny. Besides, who knows where I’ll end up? If I have to start at the bottom again, I probably won’t even have an assistant.”


“With your talent, not to mention your reputation, you won’t be starting at the bottom. Just wait and see. Maybe the new owner won’t clean house. He could turn out to be a really great guy and keep us all on. Don’t lose hope, okay?”


“I guess only time will tell. Anyway, I’m sorry to bother you. Go back to your entertaining and I’ll see you on Monday,” Justin said.


“You’re no bother, Justin. You can call me anytime. Try to have a good weekend, and say hello to Daphne for me,” Cynthia replied, hanging up the phone and letting out a few choice words.


“I take it that wasn’t a good call?” Brian teased.


“That bastard! Vance actually looked relieved when Justin told him he couldn’t buy the agency! The nerve of him! I’d love to go in there on Monday and kick him in the balls!” Cynthia exclaimed, pacing back and forth in her small living room.


“It’s okay, Cynthia. There’s no need to get violent. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next. Maybe the next owner won’t be so bad,” Brian offered, wishing he could say something more. He wanted to tell her of his plans, but didn’t want to get her hopes up in case he has a problem getting Vance to agree to his offer.


“I know, you’re right. I just told Justin the same thing. He’s just so upset by all of this. He thinks he’s going to have to start at the bottom again, although I’m sure he won’t. He’s the best. He’s an amazing artist and has a real head for business. He’s even come up with campaigns on his own. He could run that place with his eyes closed. He has on occasion when Gardner took off on his little vacations for a month at a time. He deserves the opportunity to run the place.” Cynthia suddenly realized that she must have been boring Brian with her rambling. “I’m sorry, Brian. I didn’t mean to go on like that. I’ll drop the subject.”


Brian wasn’t bored. In fact, he enjoyed her rambling, as she put it. He had every intention of keeping Cynthia and Justin, as well as the rest of the staff on to run the place after he left Pittsburgh. Cynthia’s insight into Justin’s work experience was giving him a better feeling about leaving it all behind. “It’s okay, Cynthia. I know how upset you are. I’m here to listen to your bitching for as long as you need me to be.”


“Thanks Bri. You’re the best,” Cynthia replied, kissing Brian on the cheek. “Now how about we go sit on the balcony and watch the stars?”


“Anything for you, Blondie,” Brian teased as he pulled her off the couch.




Cynthia walked into Justin's office on Monday morning, startled by what she saw. Justin was sitting behind his desk, staring out into space, dark circles under his eyes.


"Justin? Is everything okay? You look like hell," she blurted out.


"Thanks Cyn, you look great, too," Justin replied with a small smile.


"I'm sorry, but you know what I mean. Did you sleep at all this weekend?"


Justin's mind replayed his weekend of drinking and fucking as he smiled up at her. "A little here and there. How was your weekend?"


"Great, but we're not talking about me. Are you okay?" her concern evident in her voice.


"Yeah, I'm fine. I just have a lot on my mind. Loretta came to see me this morning and told me that Gardner has an unexpected meeting at noon today that wasn't on his calendar. I wonder if he’s already found someone to buy this place,” Justin said as he rose from his chair. He was surprised earlier when Vance’s secretary came to see him, but she explained that she, too was worried about the sale. She had been working for Gardner for over ten years and didn’t know what she was going to do once he was gone.


“Damn, I thought he was going to wait a week until putting it on the market,” Cynthia replied, a bad feeling washing over her.


“Me too. I guess he figured there was no reason to wait if I wasn’t interested,” Justin sighed.


“What an asshole! Well, I guess we’ll have to just wait and see. Is there anything you want me to do for you?”


“No, I’m good for now. Why don’t you finish going over the Anderson account and make sure the boards are ready for the meeting tomorrow. I’m going to sit here and wallow for a little while longer before I start my day,” Justin chuckled, only half teasing.


“Hang in there, Boss. Maybe things won’t be so bad,” Cynthia offered before walking back to her desk.


“I’m not holding my breath,” Justin said to the empty room.


Brian met Gardner Vance at a small Italian Restaurant downtown. As soon as their lunch was ordered, Brian got right down to business.


“Mr. Vance, I’ve been doing some research on businesses in the Pittsburgh area, and I have to say, I’m rather impressed with Vanguard. I’ve been looking for an investment, and I think your agency would be perfect. This might be a little unusual, but I was wondering if you were interested in selling," Brian explained, failing to mention that he knew Cynthia and what he had planned.


"You want to buy my agency?" Gardner asked, somewhat surprised.


"I realize that it sounds a little strange, but when I was doing my research I spoke to a lot of people. Rumor has it that you are looking to retire soon. I was just wondering how true those rumors are."


"Well, Mr. Kinney, the rumors are right. I am actually looking forward to retiring soon. The question is are you the one that could make it happen?" Gardner replied with a smile.


The rest of the lunch went by smoothly, with each man considering their options. By the time Gardner left, he was beginning to think about where he would like to travel once the company was gone. He told Mr. Kinney that he needed time to think about his offer, but deep down inside he knew he would accept it. He really wanted to get away from it all, Vanguard included. He just didn't want the prospective buyer to know how anxious he was. He wanted to leave him guessing for a bit.


As soon as Brian was in his rental car he pulled out his cell phone and place a call to Ted.


"Ted Schmidt."


"Hey Theodore, get ready to write a big check. It looks like I'm going to be making an investment," Brian told him with a smile.


"Vance accepted your offer?" Ted asked incredulously.


"Not yet, but he will. I could see the excitement in his eyes at the thought of retiring. Not to mention I'll be saving him a lot of time and trouble. Now he won't have to put the place on the market and wait for the offers to roll in. He could be sunning himself on the beach within a month," Brian laughed at the situation. He could see Gardner salivating over his offer and knew he had him right where he wanted him.


"I've got to hand it to you, Brian. You have a way with people. I'll be waiting to hear from you," Ted laughed.


"You got it, Theodore," Brian replied, disconnecting the call. Now all he had to do was wait for conformation and he could share his news with Cynthia.


Luckily, conformation came at the end of the week. It was killing Brian to keep everything from Cynthia, especially since the rumor mill at work was racing with stories about Vance finding a buyer. She had been coming home from work every night more and more upset. Once Brian had the signed paperwork in his hands he sat her down to tell her the news. She was in the kitchen finishing up dinner when Brian approached her.


"Hey Cyn, could you come sit down for a minute? There's something I want to talk to you about."


"Sounds mysterious...is everything okay?" Cynthia asked curiously.


"I think it is, but I guess that will all depend on your reaction," Brian replied as he lead her to the living room.


"Okay, now you're scaring me. Just tell me what it is," Cynthia pleaded, trying to hide her fear.


"Well, you know how you've been worried about Vanguard being sold to some asshole? You're looking at the asshole," Brian blurted out.


"What? You mean...You?"


"Yep! I'm the asshole that's going to be taking over Vanguard. Are you mad?" Brian asked sheepishly.


Cynthia took a moment to let his news sink in and then threw herself into Brian's arms. "Oh Brian, that's great!"


"I was hoping you would feel that way, but I didn't want to say anything to you until I knew for sure just incase Gardner didn't accept my offer," Brian explained, hugging his friend back.


Cynthia pulled back, looking into Brian's face. "Does this mean you are going to stay here in Pittsburgh?"


"No, sorry but I don't plan on staying in town. I bought Vanguard for a reason. My accountant advised me that I should start looking around for a solid investment, which is exactly what Vanguard is. When I heard how upset you were with the impending sale, I did a little research to see what was going on behind the scenes. I figured that if everything worked out okay, I could not only have the investment, but also help you out in the process. I have a degree in advertising, so it's not as if I'm getting into something that I know nothing about, but I don't plan on running the place. I'm just going to be the silent owner," Brian explained.


"Wow, Brian...I don't know what to say. You did this for me?"


"Well, what can I say? I'm a sucker for beautiful blonds," he laughed in reply.


"Yeah, and brunettes, and redheads...only I'm not the right sex," Cynthia teased before turning serious. "Who's going to be running the place then?"


"I haven't worked out all of the details. I'll need to wait until the sale is final and go through the employee profiles and see who I have on board first, but I was kind of hoping that you would be willing to move your way to the top," Brian said, watching for her reaction.


"Me? But what do I know? I'm an assistant to the art director. I don't have any knowledge of advertising," Cynthia said in a panic.


"Yeah right, Cyn. I know you, remember? There is no way that you have spent all this time working there without learning everything there is to know. It's the busybody in you that makes you so endearing. Besides, you won't be doing it alone. I just want you to be there to watch out for my investment for me. I need someone I can trust."


"Oh Brian, thank you for having so much faith in me. I promise I won't let you down. When will this all take place? The change over, I mean."

"Four weeks. It's a cut and dry deal. I'm still leaving tomorrow as I originally planned, but I will be back for the big day. I just need one little favor from you. I need you to keep this news between the two of us. No one can know about me, not even Justin. My name is being withheld until the end for business purposes," Brian stated.


"I don't have a problem keeping your secret, but from Justin? He a good friend of mine. How am I going to let him think the worst when I know the truth?" Cynthia cried.


"You'll figure out something, I'm sure. Now let's eat!" Brian exclaimed as he jumped up and headed into the kitchen.


Cynthia watched Brian walk away and couldn't help but laugh. She wasn't sure how she was going to keep the news from Justin, but she'd figure something out. The important thing was that their troubles were over. Life was good once again.






It was going to be a long four weeks for both Cynthia and Justin. On the Monday following Brian's admission to Cynthia, Gardner held a mandatory employee meeting where he told his staff that the company had been sold and would be changing hands within the month. Most of the employees had known about the impending sale, but were surprised to find that it was going to happen so fast. Justin took the news the hardest.


"I can't believe he took the first offer that came in! What an asshole! Then again, why should I be surprised? He doesn't care about any of us. All he cares about is getting out of here. God knows what we're going to be getting next. I've finished touching up my resume and will be sending it out to as many companies as I can. With any luck, I won't even be here for the switch," Justin said angrily.


“Justin! You can’t do that!” Cynthia cried. “You can’t just walk away from all that you have on the off chance that the new owner will be impossible to work with. What if he’s not? What if it turns out that the new owner is a good and fair man. You will be throwing away your future for nothing.”


Justin looked at Cynthia and saw something in her eyes that he couldn’t read. “Do you know something?”


“No?” Cynthia replied tentatively.


“Okay, out with it,” Justin demanded gently.


“Out with what?” Cynthia asked innocently.


“I’ve known you a long time, Cyn, and I know you’re hiding something. You might as well tell me now because I'm not going to leave you alone until you do," Justin assured her, a gleam in his eye.


"Justin, that's not...I can't just...oh, hold on!" she stated, walking out of his office with Justin's eyes burning a hole in her back.


Cynthia stormed down the hall, stopping by her desk to grab her cell phone before heading into the ladies room. She hit one on her speed dial and waited for Brian to answer.


"Hey Cynthia, what's up?"


"I can't do it, Brian. I can't keep the news from Justin. I tried, I really did but he's my friend and I can't keep him in the dark anymore!" Cynthia exclaimed nervously.


"Then tell him," Brian replied casually.


"What? But...you said..."


"Come on, Cyn...I've known you almost our entire lives. Did you really think that I believed you would be able to keep a secret for a month? I'm surprised you made it through the weekend," Brian laughed.


"You what?!"


"Look, Cyn, I would rather you didn't tell Justin, but I know how much he means to you. Go ahead and tell him, but make sure he knows not to tell anyone else. I really need to keep a low profile on this for awhile, okay?" Brian explained.


"Okay, thanks Brian. I'll talk to you later," Cynthia said, anxious to get back to Justin.


"Later, Cyn," Brian replied, laughing as he hung up the phone.


Cynthia made her way back to Justin's office, closing the door behind her.


"Okay, this is the deal but I need you to keep this between us. No one else can know, okay?" Cynthia asked.


"Okay...what do you know?" Justin asked curiously.


"My friend Brian is the buyer. He knew Gardner was going to be putting Vanguard on the market and he made an offer while he was here," Cynthia explained, watching Justin's face for his reaction.


"He made an offer? But..." Justin was confused.


"He's got money and his accountant had told him that he needed to think about looking into some investments. When he found out what was happening, he made an offer. It's not like he doesn't know anything about the business. He's got a degree in advertising, he just doesn't use it," Cynthia explained, smiling at Justin's confusion.


"I guess he'll be using it now, huh?" Justin said, trying to take in what he was hearing.


"Not really. He doesn't have any intention of running Vanguard. Once he takes possession, he's going to look through the employee profiles and appoint someone as head. It's strictly an investment,” she continued.


Justin looked at her as if she had lost her mind. “Okay, so he plopped down 2.5 million on a company he has no intention of running?”


“That’s Brian for you. So you see, everything’s going to be okay. Now I better get back to my desk. Gardner asked me for some old files he wanted to look over, and since he’s still the boss I better do what he tells me. Don’t worry Justin, things are definitely looking up.” With that Cynthia walked out, leaving a very conflicted Justin in her wake.


Justin sat in his office after Cynthia's departure fuming inside. How dare this Brian Kinney sweep in and buy the company as a toy! As if it was just something to throw his money away on! He'd worked hard for years trying to help Vanguard become the top agency on the East Coast, and he'd be damned if he was going to sit back and let some asshole born with a silver spoon in his mouth run them into the ground. Justin would wait until Kinney took over before doing anything rash, but deep down he already hated the man and vowed to send out his resume anyway, just in case.






Finally, the big day was upon them. The exchange was taking place on Monday morning, and by Sunday night Justin had himself worked up into a frenzy. Despite Daphne's best intentions, nothing she could do was calming Justin down.


"Justin, relax. It might not be that bad. You don't even know Brian Kinney. Maybe it won't be that bad? Cynthia has been friends with him since she was a kid. I doubt she would still be that close to him if he was an asshole."


"Please Daph, it's called loyalty. I could be the biggest asshole around and you would still love me, wouldn't you? I just don't like this. I have a really bad feeling about Brian Kinney. I can't explain it, I just know that nothing is ever going to be the same after tomorrow. Which is why I have three interviews set up this week. I'm not going to sit around and do nothing while the company goes under," Justin explained, his anger evident.


"What about Cynthia? You're just going to leave her behind? I don't understand why you're overreacting like this. Usually you're the rational one and I'm the freak," Daphne pointed out, exasperated with her friends attitude.


"Cynthia is a big girl and can take care of herself. Of course she's going to stay at Vanguard. He's her best friend. That doesn't mean I have to. I told you, Daph, I'll wait and see what happens tomorrow, but I'm going to keep my options open as well as my eyes," he assured her.


"Whatever, Taylor...sometimes you just drive me insane!" Daphne exclaimed, hugging her friend.


"I love you, too Daph," Justin replied with a smile.


Cynthia was curled up on the couch trying to watch a movie, but her mind was a million miles away thinking about the next day and all that would come of it. She was excited to think about Brian taking over the business and couldn’t wait until Gardner was long gone. Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard the doorbell. She answered it, surprised to see Brian on the other side.


“Hey, what are you doing here?”


“Well, hello to you, too. Can I come in or are you too busy to give your childhood friend a few moments of your time?” Brian teased. He was happy to see Cynthia again. He realized while he spent the week there the month before that he had missed her while he was away.


“Get in here, you!” Cynthia replied, dragging Brian through the door and into her arms. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming in today? I figured that since you hadn’t said anything that you were flying in sometime tomorrow.”


“Sorry, but I wanted to get in and find a place to stay without you making me feel guilty and imposing on you,” Brian said sheepishly.


“Brian Kinney! You are not an imposition! I love having you here!” she replied heatedly.


“I know, Cyn, but it’s better this way. I’ve got a room at the Westin on a weekly basis so when it’s time to go I’m out of here,” Brian explained casually.


“So in other words you rented the penthouse because you couldn’t fathom the idea of spending anymore time in my small condo, right?”


“You got it!” Brian laughed. “Are you mad?”


“That you’re a pretentious queen? No, I’m used to it by now,” Cynthia teased good heartedly.


“Thanks...I think. So, tell me what’s been going on at my company,” Brian stated as he made himself comfortable.


They spent the rest of the evening talking business and enjoying each other’s company, with Cynthia secretly trying to figure out a way to get Brian to stay in Pittsburgh permanently.


By noon on Monday Brian was officially the owner of Vanguard agency. The paperwork signing went off without a hitch and Gardner seemed to be relieved when it was all over. He shook Brian’s hand and wished him luck before walking away without a backwards glance.


Brian stood in his office and looked out over the city. There were so many memories there for him, memories he’d rather forget that he felt the unbearable to urge to take the next flight out to anywhere. His thoughts were interrupted by a gentle knock on the door.


“Come in,” he called, not bothering to turn around.


“Brian?” Cynthia said, noticing the tension in his posture. “Are you okay?”


Brian turned around and tried to give her his best smile, but wasn‘t able to pull it off. Unfortunately she knew him too well, and he saw her eyes cloud over.


“I guess I didn’t think about how hard it would be for you here. You know that the past isn’t important anymore, right? All that matters is where you are now and where you go in the future,” she offered.


“I know, Cyn. I’ll be okay, don’t worry. Now, let’s get to work. Do you have some time to help me, or should I just ask Loretta? Although with the daggers she shot me earlier, I don’t know how much help she’ll be,” he chuckled.


“Just give her some time. She’s been with Gardner for a long time and she’s hurt by the way he left her without so much as a letter of recommendation incase she wanted to go somewhere else. I’ll have a talk with her when she settles down a little. I have plenty of time for you. Where do you want to start?”


“The first thing I want is those employee records. That’s probably the best way to get to know who I have on board. Has anyone made mention of jumping ship?” Brian asked, sitting down at his desk.


“Not really, although there are a few who are waiting to see what you do before making their decisions,” Cynthia explained, thinking about Justin. She knew he wasn’t happy and had a few interviews set up for later in the week.


“Well, the choice is theirs. I have no intention of walking in here and being a bad ass. I just want loyal employees that I can trust to run things while I’m gone. Do you have any recommendations? Anybody that you feel would be an asset to me above the rest?” Brian asked.


“Well...I don’t want to seem like I’m asking for favors...but Justin...”


“What’s his extension?”




“I want to meet the one and only Justin Taylor that you’re always talking about. Give me his extension number and then go get those records for me. I’ll meet you in the conference room when I’m done,” Brian assured her as he reached for the phone.


Once she gave him the number and walked out, he dialed the phone and waited for Justin to answer.




“Mr. Taylor, this is Brian Kinney. Could you come to my office for a moment?”


“Uh...Mr. Kinney, I’m kind of in the middle of something right now. Perhaps another time,” Justin replied, angered by the summons.


“Mr. Taylor, let me rephrase that for you. I want to see you in my office now,” Brian barked before hanging up the phone.


Justin stared at the phone in his hand before hanging it up. He debated on ignoring the order, but knew that he needed to toe the line until he found something else. His desire for the finer things in life warranted him to be employed.


He approached Brian’s door a few minutes later and took a deep breath before knocking.


“Come in,” Brian called, lost in the computer in front of him. While he waited for Justin to make an appearance he decided to look through the files that Gardner left behind and see what he could find.


Justin heard the command and slowly opened the door. He walked in quietly and looked over to the desk and was startled by what he saw. There behind the desk was the most beautiful man he had ever seen. His breath caught in his throat at the vision before him and he lost all ability to speak as he took in the man’s stylish brown hair, stunning profile, and obvious well toned body. Justin could feel his cock twitch at the sight and somehow managed to form a few words to let the other man know that he was there. “Mr. Kinney?”


Brian knew that Justin was there, but after the way he tried to blow him off, making him wait a moment seemed like the right thing to do. Without looking up from the computer he replied, “have a seat Mr. Taylor. I’ll be right with you.”


Justin approached the chair in front of the desk and sat down, unable to take his eyes off of his new boss. He waited patiently, willing down the erection that was straining against his pants and anxious to get a better look at the man before him.


Brian looked through a few more files before closing the screen and looking up at Justin who was now sitting in front of him. The minute he looked into his blue eyes he was lost in a wave of desire. Justin was without a doubt the most stunning man he had ever seen. Deep blue eyes, blond hair that begged to be touched, lips that screamed to be kissed...


“You uh...wanted to...uh...see me?” Justin stammered quietly, kicking himself for his new found difficulty with the English language.


“Yes I did,” Brian replied, his mind flashing to all the ways he wanted to see the blond and none of them included his clothing. He shook his head, trying to rid his thoughts of Justin beneath him naked and panting, and couldn’t help thinking that the sooner he got out of Pittsburgh, the better. He’d never had such a strong reaction to another man before and he wasn’t about to start now.




Brian took a deep breath and tried to focus on the reason he summonsed Justin to his office in the first place. "Cynthia has told me a lot about you. She's very fond of you."


"I know. I think she's great, too. What does this have to do with the company?" Justin was confused by the direction this was taking.


"Did she tell you my plans for Vanguard?"


"She told me that you bought it as an investment and that you have no plans to run the company yourself," Justin replied.


"That's true. I need someone who has the capabilities to do great things here. I need someone I can trust to bring Vanguard from the top five into the number one position," Brian explained, looking into deep blue eyes.


"You have high expectations. Especially considering that you plan on taking off without a backwards glance." Justin hoped that his bitterness wasn't coming through in his voice. "You think you can look through a few employee records and find someone who's capable of not only keeping things going here, but who can do something that Gardner hasn't been able to do in all these years?"


"Actually, I decided to skip going through the files. I already decided who I want at the top," Brian said, surprising both himself and Justin. "So, what do you say? You think you're up for it?"


Justin looked at Brian incredulously. He had to have miss understood something. There was no way this man was offering him the position, was there? "Me? You want me to run the company for you?"


"What's the matter? Don't think you can handle it?"


"Oh, I know I can handle it," Justin assured him confidently.


"Then you accept the position?"


"Wait a minute? Why me? I'm just an art director. How do you know I can handle it?" Justin asked before realization set in. "Cynthia! She told you to offer me the position. Well, thanks but no thanks!" Justin rose from the chair, trying to keep his anger in check.


"Mr. Taylor, please sit back down," Brian stated with a tone that left no room for argument.


Justin heard Brian's request and half heartedly took his seat again, waiting for an explanation.


"Yes, I know who you are from Cynthia. I've heard nothing but good things about you for the last four years. Like I said before, she's very fond of you. As for her asking me to offer you the position, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, right now she's sitting in the conference room waiting for me to look through the records. She has no idea that I'm offering you anything," Brian explained, keeping back a small chuckle. He didn't even know he was going to make the offer and was trying not to think about why he was.


"Then why?"


"Well, there are a few of reasons. First of all, I did some checking into your professional background while I was waiting for the sale to go through. I know about your talent and the awards you've won for your ads. I also know that you wanted to make the purchase yourself, and I don't think you would have had the desire if you didn't know the business and think you could handle it. Most importantly, I know how close you are to Cynthia. You've been working together for years and have a great working relationship. To have that, you must trust each other completely. I know I can trust her, and if she trusts you that's good enough for me. You two will be a team, working together in an equal capacity. If you were to try to hurt the business in any way, not only would you be hurting Vanguard, you'd be hurting her as well. I believe that you wouldn't do that. Am I right?"


"I'd never do anything to hurt Cynthia," Justin assured him, trying to take in what he was hearing.


"I suggest that you don't, because if you do you'll have to answer to me and I can be a real bastard if I want to be," Brian replied, issuing a subtle warning. "Now, do we have a deal, or would you like to think about it for a few days?"


Justin knew he should probably take a few days to think about the offer, but his excitement at having the opportunity to prove himself, not only to the business world but also to Brian Kinney was just too great. "It's a deal, Mr. Kinney," Justin said as he stood and offered his hand to his new boss.


"Good, and call me Brian," Brian replied, taking Justin's hand and ignoring the sparks that seemed to shoot straight to his groin at the touch. "Now let's go tell Cynthia that her partner has been chosen."






Brian and Justin walked into the conference room ten minutes later to find Cynthia looking through the employee files. She looked at Justin and could see mixed emotions on his face. Wondering what happened between the two men, she decided to ignore his expression pretending not to notice his discomfort.


“Hey Brian, I’ve got all the files here. I started separating them…”


“Forget it, Cynthia. I’ve already made my decision,” Brian replied, grabbing one of the files and sifting through it.


“You did? But how…” she glanced over at Justin and realized what the look of confusion was.


“Meet the new head of Vanguard, Justin Taylor,” Brian explained. “He’s your new partner in crime.”


“That’s great! Justin, I’m so happy for you,” Cynthia exclaimed in joy, hoping that Justin was going to give up his ideas about leaving.


“Thanks Cyn, although I’m not sure where to start now,” he admitted hesitantly before turning to Brian. “Brian, how long are you going to be in town?”


“A couple of weeks, I’m guessing. I plan on sticking around long enough to show you and Cynthia exactly what it is that I expect from you and weed through the undesirables on the payroll. There’s bound to be some people who are loyal to Vance and I’m not sure it would be beneficial to have them here. Once I’m sure that everything is in place, I’m off to Italy,” Brian replied with a smile.


“Italy?” Justin asked in surprise. “I’ve always wanted to go there. I hear that it’s beautiful this time of year.”


“It’s beautiful anytime of year. I usually make it there a few times a year. I have a small place over there that I use when I need to get away,” Brian explained, sorting through the files.


Justin watched the man in awe. Not only was he beautiful, but he had great taste, too. “Okay, then I guess we better get started.”


“Okay, what’s first on the agenda, Boss,” Cynthia asked.


They three of them spent the rest of the day going through the payroll records and discussing the staff. At quarter to six, Cynthia knew she’d had enough for the day.


“Hey Bri? It’s getting kind of late. Don’t you think we should call it a day?”


Brian looked at his watch before commenting. “Yeah, go ahead you two. I’m going to stay here awhile longer and go over this week’s appointments. I want to know what to expect.”


“Are you sure?”


“Yeah, I’ll just order some take out and have a working dinner. I’ll see you in the morning.”


“Brian, I’ll stay awhile longer if you want me to,” Justin offered. “It would be easier for you to have someone who knows where to look.”


Brian looked at Justin and couldn’t help the tightening in his groin over the thought of the two of them locked together alone in the office. Pushing away those thoughts he managed to reply. “Well, it would be easier, but only if you’re sure you have nothing better to do.”


“Not a thing. I’ll just call Daphne and let her know I’ll be late. Then I’m all yours,” Justin replied, trying not to think about the double meaning behind his statement. What the hell was wrong with him?


Cynthia noticed a strange look pass over Brian’s face, but didn’t know what to make of it. “Okay, well I do have something better to do.”


“A date?” Brian asked with a smile.


“Yes, with a hot bath and a good book. I’ll see you guys tomorrow,” she replied, walking out of the room with a chuckle.


“Women,” Justin sighed, laughing as he reached for the phone.


Brian tried to pretend he was concentrating on the file in front of him while he listened in on Justin’s phone conversation.


“Hey Daph, it’s me. I’m not sure what time I’ll be home tonight. I’m going to stay here and help Brian go over this weeks appointments….I’ll tell you all about it when I get home…Dillon called?... What did you tell him?...Well, if he calls back tell him I bought a one way ticket to Brazil…I don’t care how hot he is. I’ve had him once and that’s enough. You know my rules…Okay, I’ll see you later.” Justin hung up the phone and turned around, stunned to realize that he forgot Brian was in the room. “Sorry about that.”


“You’re gay!” Brian blurted out, startled by the revelation.


Justin stared at him for a moment and realized that he must have heard what he had said about Dillon. “Uh, yeah. Is that going to be a problem for you?”


“Not at all. Christ, isn’t anybody straight anymore?”


“You mean you’re…”

”Yeah, didn’t Cynthia mention that to you? Well, I guess not since she never said anything to me about you,” Brian answered his own question with laughter.


“Well, I don’t think she actually knows about me. I’m not in the closet, but I don’t announce it to anyone either. Come to think of it, she always talks about Daphne and me as if we were together. I guess I just really never paid attention before. Daphne’s my best friend since grade school. We’ve been living together and sharing expenses ever since we graduated from college.” Justin could hear himself rambling and silently will himself to shut up.


Brian couldn’t seem to stop the images that kept invading his head while he listened to Justin talk. They were images of the blond sprawled out on the conference table begging to be fucked. Shaking his head to rid himself of those thoughts, he decided it would be best if they got back to work.


“Okay, so now that we’ve had our little sharing session, I guess we better get back to work.”


Justin couldn’t agree more. Now that he knew Brian was gay, the older man seemed that much more appealing and nothing good could come of those thoughts. “Yeah, I think your right. Now let’s go back to Gardner’s…I mean your office and see what’s on this week’s agenda.”


“I’m right behind you,” Brian replied following Justin out of the office, enjoying the view as he went.




By 10:00, Brian and Justin were completely engulfed in their work. Neither one of them remembered that they hadn’t ordered dinner about probably would have continued working if it hadn’t been for Brian’s cell phone ringing.


“Kinney!” Brian barked into the phone, angered by the interruption.


“That’s what I like about you, Brian. You’re always so pleasant,” Ted teased.


Brian sighed. “What do you want, Theodore?”


“I just wanted to touch base with you and see how everything went today.”


“Everything went fine. The company is mine now. I already appointed someone to the helm and I’m going through everything now to see exactly what I need to know before I take my leave,” Brian explained half heartedly as he continued to look through the files.


“You’re not still thinking of going to Italy now, are you? Brian you just bought an advertising business. You can’t just walk away as if you had no responsibilities anymore,” Ted sighed, trying to get Brian to see reason.


“Ted, we’ve been over this before. I’m not going to tie myself down for anyone or anything. I will do what I have to do here and then I’m off. Now I have to get back to work. Ciao!” Brian replied before hanging up the phone.


“Boyfriend?” Justin asked curiously.


“As if,” Brian replied dryly. “My accountant. He seems to think that he can tell me what to do, although I’m glad he called. I didn’t realize how late it was. I didn’t mean to keep you out like this. Why don’t you go home and get some sleep. You can come in a little late tomorrow if you want,” Brian offered.


“Its okay, Brian. I don’t mind hard work. Why don’t we both get out of here and grab something to eat? I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”


Brian looked at Justin and knew the right thing to do would be to turn down his offer of food and head back to the hotel, but for some reason unbeknownst to him he found himself accepting the offer with a smile.


A half hour later, Brian and Justin were seated in a small café down the street from Vanguard. They were quiet until the waitress took their order then Justin asked him the question that had been plaguing him all day.


“Why did you buy Vanguard?”


“I told you, my accountant thought I needed a good investment. I had the money and this was also a way to help out a friend. Cynthia likes working there so now she can continue on with a sizeable raise and promotion, of course,” Brian explained.


“I don’t believe that for a minute. I’m sure it’s a good investment, but I bet there’s more to the story than that. Come on, give me a hint,” Justin teased.


“What makes you so sure I’m not telling the truth?”

”There are so many other, more lucrative things out there that you could have invested in. From what Cynthia has told me, you hardly ever even come back to the Pitts anymore. Why would you buy a company in a city that you hate?” Justin prodded.


“My father,” Brian sighed, surprised that he was offering information.


“Your father? Is he still living here?”


“No, he and my mother are both dead.”


“Oh, I’m sorry,” Justin said softly.


“Don’t be, I’m not. They were horrible parents; horrible people actually. The money I have is from their life insurance policy. They were killed in a car accident and it made me a very wealthy man. I’m sure old Jack has been rolling over in his grave ever since. He used to tell me that I would never amount to anything in life. What better way to say fuck you than to buy a successful company right in his home town and make it the best?”


Justin watched the other man and could see sadness in his hazel eyes. For all of his bravado, Brian Kinney did care about his parents if his reaction was anything to go by. “Well, then I guess it’s up to us to make sure that Vanguard reaches the number one slot, huh?”


Brian saw the look of determination in Justin’s eyes and knew he made the right decision putting him in charge. “Are you sure you’re up for the challenge?”


“Absolutely,” Justin replied with a smile.


Once they were done eating, they walked back to the parking garage to retrieve their cars. They reached Justin’s first and stopped walking to say their good byes.


“Thanks for all your help, Justin. I appreciate it.”


“No problem, Boss. That’s what you pay me the big bucks for,” Justin teased.


Not knowing what came over him, Brian found himself leaning in and kissing Justin softly. It was a gentle kiss, nothing passionate about it, but it held enough heat to startle both men. He pulled back slowly and looked into Justin’s blue eyes.


“What was that for?” Justin asked in shock.


“I’m not really sure. Good night, Justin.” Brian turned and walked away, leaving a very confused man behind.




Justin sat behind the wheel, watching the headlights from Brian’s car disappear while he tried to get his breathing under control.


‘He kissed me. Brian kissed me. What the fuck for? What did it mean?’ So many thoughts were running through his mind that he wasn’t sure what to do next. He slowly started his car and headed home, thankful that traffic had been light. He was sure that he wasn’t really paying attention to what he was doing.


As he entered his apartment he saw Daphne sitting on the couch reading a book.


“Hey Justin, I was beginning to get worried. What took you so long? I thought you’d be home hours ago,” she asked, putting her book aside when she noticed a strange faraway look on her friend’s face.


Justin had decided on his way home to keep what had happened between him and Brian a secret, which was why he was so startled by his reply. “Brian kissed me.”


“He what? What happened?” Daphne asked incredulously.


“I’m not sure. Everything happened so fast. We lost track of time while we were working until he got a phone call, making us realize how late it was. I’m not sure why, but I asked him if he wanted to grab something to eat. After dinner, we walked back to the garage to get our cars and he just kissed me,” Justin explained, still in total confusion and utter shock by his recap.


“What do you mean kissed you? Like a friendly kiss on the cheek? Was it more like a passionate, let’s fuck kiss? Is he even gay?”


Justin was lost in thought and almost missed Daphne’s questions. “What? Oh, it was…um, it was a nice kiss. Soft, gentle, God Daphne, it was the best kiss I’ve ever had. And yes, he’s gay. He’s beautiful, Daph. He’s like no man I’ve ever seen before. Since the minute I laid eyes on him I’ve been walking around half hard with wanting him.”


“Okay, too much information, Taylor.”


“Oh please, Daph. You’ve always begged for all the details of my escapades,” Justin teased.


“That’s different. They were just little snippets of Justin Taylor, Sex God. This is different. I think this guy has really affected you,” Daphne pointed out sincerely. “What do you think it means?”


“I don’t know. We just met and he’s my boss. I don’t know what to think,” Justin sighed dramatically.


“So what are you going to do?”


“Well, right now I’m going to go to bed and lay there until my alarm goes off. I’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. I mean…we were talking about our personal lives. It was probably just a reaction to emotions stirred up by our conversation.”


“Right Taylor. I’ve gotten emotional in my life. Hell, I live for emotional. It never caused me to kiss anyone. I suggest you lock yourselves in the conference room and have your way with each other.” Daphne giggled at the thought.


“Get your mind out of the gutter, you freak. The conference room is for meetings of the business kind. I’m going to bed. Good night, Daphne,” Justin laughed as he kissed his friend’s cheek.


“Good night, Justin. Oh wait, you never told me what happened with the switch. I’m taking it that everything went okay?”


“I would say so. You’re looking at the new head on Vanguard Advertising,” Justin replied before walking away.


Daphne watched Justin walk away with a smile on her face. She had a feeling that Justin’s life was about to get interesting.


Brian entered his hotel room and headed straight for the phone, ordering a bottle of beam from room service. He needed it after what had taken place earlier. He had been trying to figure out what had possessed him to kiss Justin like that, but nothing came to mind other than the plain simple fact that he wanted to. After spending hours locked in a room with the man, all he could think about was having a taste of those soft enticing lips. Okay, so that wasn’t all he was thinking about.


Through out the day, his mind kept flashing to numerous things he wanted to do to Justin as well as a few thinks he wanted Justin to do to him. The situation was ridicules actually. Brian had never felt such an attraction to another man before, and God knows he’d been attracted to many. ‘This isn’t good,’ he thought to himself. ‘This isn’t good at all. Wasn’t there some kind of law preventing people from fucking their help?’ His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door, announcing room service had arrived. Brian took the offered bottle and handed the guy a generous tip before closing the door and taking a long swig from the bottle. The burning that he felt as the amber liquid went down his throat was nothing compared to the burning in his groin he felt as he thought of the blond.


“I guess it’s going to be a long sleepless night,” he said out loud as he stripped and climbed into bed.


He continued to take smaller sips from his bottle while his hand slowly found his way down to his cock, still hard from spending the day in close quarters with Justin. He closed his eyes and stroked himself to release, trying to ignore the name he cried out at completion. Luckily, the alcohol that he was consuming was having the desired affect and it wasn’t long before Brian surprisingly felt himself drifting off to sleep, his thoughts haunted by the man that caused him to feel things he didn’t want to feel.






Brian awoke the next morning to a slight headache, probably brought on by the alcohol he had used to fall asleep. After a quick shower he headed out to the office, wanting to get in before everyone else and get started on his day. He realized that he needed to finish up his business there and get out of Pittsburgh as soon as possible before he did anything else as foolish as kissing Justin had been. He still hadn’t figured out what had caused him to do it, but it really didn’t matter. Once he was away from the blond he could put it all behind him and go back to his care free lifestyle.


As he pulled into the parking garage he was surprised to see Justin already there sitting on the hood of his car waiting for him. He got out of his own car slowly and made his way over to the man.


“You’re here awfully early. Have you been waiting long?”


“About fifteen minutes. I didn’t sleep too well, so I figured why waste the morning? I might as well be here. I was hoping you weren’t one of those people who hate getting out of bed in the morning,” Justin teased, trying to keep the nervousness out of his voice. He’d laid awake all night thinking about the kiss they shared and he wasn’t sure how they were going to react to each other now.


“I don’t spend a lot of time in my bed unless somebody’s there to keep me company,” Brian replied without realizing what he was saying. He immediately regretted his words when he saw Justin turn three shades of red. “Well, I guess we should get inside,” he added quickly.


“Um…yeah, might as well start our day,” Justin stammered, feeling the blush that spread through him at Brian’s words.


Once they were inside Justin made his way into his office to work on a few projects that he had planned on doing the day before. It didn’t take long before he lost himself in his work and was able to put Brian out of his mind. Two hours later he was startled out of his work mode by a soft knock at the door.


“Justin, can I talk to you for a minute?” Cynthia asked as she walked through the door.


“Sure Cyn, what’s up?”


“Well, we really didn’t get a chance to talk yesterday; I guess I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” she said sincerely.


“Thanks, but I’m okay. I know I was a little freaked out by the sale, but I think everything’s going to be just fine. How are you with everything? Brian seems to want to throw a lot of responsibility your way. Are you okay with that? It’s a big step up from assistant,” he acknowledged with concern.


“I think so. Besides, Brian is counting on me and I wouldn’t want to let him down. He means too much to me,” she admitted softly.


“Yeah, I think we’ve definitely got our work cut out for us. There goes any chance we might have had at a social life,” he teased.


“Is Daphne going to be okay with the longer hours?”


Justin thought about her question and decided to just come out and tell her the truth. “You know that Daphne and I are just friends, right?”


“Oh, I didn’t know. I guess I just thought that since you’ve been living together for so long…”


“Cynthia, I’m gay,” Justin blurted out, interrupting Cynthia’s explanation.


“You’re gay? But…but…how?” she stammered.


“Well, you see…,” he started, only to feel a light slap on his arm.


“I know how, Silly,” she laughed. “I mean, I guess I just don’t know how I missed it. We’ve been friends for a long time. I guess I just assumed you were straight.”


“I’m sorry, Cyn. I didn’t mean to keep it from you. Once we became close I wanted to tell you, but I wasn’t sure how you would react. Since meeting Brian yesterday, I now know that you’re okay with it…”


“Brian told you he’s gay? Wow,” Cynthia said in surprise.


“What do you mean? Is he in the closet?” Justin asked curiously.


“Brian? God no. He hasn’t been in the closet since we were teenagers. It’s just that normally he doesn’t offer up personal information to people he just met. I’m just surprised, I guess.”


“Yeah, well he overheard me talking to Daphne and figured out that I was. I think he told me to let me know he was okay with it. Anyway, I’m sorry for not telling you sooner. Daphne and I live together to share expenses. It started after college, but we’ve just gotten so used to each other that we decided to keep things just the way they are. I think it might be changing soon, though. She’s been dating the same guy for almost a year now and I think it’s getting serious. I’ll be happy to see her settle down, but it will be strange living alone after all these years.” Justin admitted.


“What about you? Anyone in your life that might get you to settle down?” Cynthia asked, intrigued by what she had just learned.


“Sorry Cynthia, I don’t do relationships.” Justin chuckled.


“Oh no, not another one,” Cynthia groaned.


“Another one?”


“You sound like Brian. He doesn’t do relationships either.”


Justin immediately thought back to the kiss from the night before. Now he knew Brian’s angle. He was looking for a trick. But then, if that was the case, why didn’t he pursue it? Did he realize that it wouldn’t be appropriate to trick with his employee? So many thoughts were running through his head that he almost didn’t hear the knock at the door and was startled when Cynthia called, “come in.”


Justin turned around to see Brian walk through the door and once again he was surprised by the man’s beauty.


“Hey Cyn. Justin, what are you doing now? Do you have time to go with me? I have a brunch with Liberty Air in about thirty minutes. They have a few reservations regarding the buy out and I think having you there would help ease their minds. It’ll show them that nothing is going to change,” Brian explained.


“Uh…yeah, sure. Just give me a few minutes to finish what I’m doing and I’ll be ready,” Justin replied, a little unnerved at the thought of going anywhere with Brian with his mind so confused.


“Great. I’ll meet you downstairs in about fifteen minutes. Cynthia, we’ll be gone for a couple of hours. If you need me, just call my cell,” Brian said before walking out the door.


“Well, I’d better let you get ready. Hey, after work today, do you want to go out after work and get a drink? Now that I know that Daphne’s not waiting at home for you, it would be nice to hit happy hour,” Cynthia laughed.


“Yeah…sure. That sounds good. I’ll talk to you when I get back,” Justin replied as he shut down the computer,


“Okay, have a nice brunch.”


Justin watched Cynthia walk away and thought about the upcoming brunch. He was glad that Brian thought to include him, but the thought of spending the next couple of hours with the man scared him. Ever since the kiss they shared, his mind had been consumed with so many thoughts of Brian and a lot of them didn’t revolve around work. Well, he’d just have to suck it up and control himself; Brian Kinney was his boss, and nothing more.




The brunch went well. Having Justin at the meeting was a good idea. The Liberty Air reps felt a little better knowing that Justin was going to remain at the company and continue to stay involved with their account. Brian and Justin returned to Vanguard a little after noon with smiles on their faces.


“I take it that brunch was good?” Cynthia asked when she saw the men walk in.


“Yes, everything went well. Justin wowed them with his knowledge of their account and they’re more than happy to stay with us,” Brian replied.


“That’s great. I’d hate to lose one of our best accounts because Gardner left. That will give us more to celebrate tonight at happy hour, Justin.” Cynthia smiled.


“Happy hour?” Brian asked.


“Yeah, Justin and I are hitting the bar after work. We figured we’d go out and celebrate Gardner’s retirement. You’re welcome to join us if you’d like,” Cynthia offered.


“Sorry. Going to a straight bar with a bunch of co-workers doesn’t sound like much fun, Cyn. Now if you want to go to Woody’s and have a couple, I’m there,” Brian replied.


“Even better. You haven’t taken me there in years. I’m all for a bar filled with hot guys; even if none of them notice me. Is that alright with you Justin?” Cynthia turned to get Justin’s approval.


“Uh, yeah that’s fine with me. Whatever you want to do,” Justin said, trying not to think about sitting at a bar watching every man there drool over Brian, which was bound to happen.


“Great! I guess we better get back to work. Is 7:00 good for you both?”


“You’d better make it 8:00. I have a few things I need to get done before I leave,” Justin replied.


“Yeah, me too. 8:00 is definitely better,” Brian agreed.


“Okay, I’ll see you guys later.”




The three of them went their separate ways, each one trying to get finished what they needed to so they could get out on time.


Justin walked into Woody’s at 8:15, spotting Brian and Cynthia already at the bar. He took a deep breath before walking up to them and sitting down along side of Brian; the only stool available. He refused to let himself think about how great Brian looked in his black jeans and black silk shirt.


“Hey, sorry I’m late,” he said as he ordered a beer and a shot.


“Is everything alright?” Cynthia asked.


“Yeah, Daphne was having one of her crisis again. Her car broke down and she had plans so she dropped me off and borrowed my car. Cynthia, is it possible for you to pick me up in the morning? She won’t be home until tomorrow afternoon sometime. I’ll catch a cab tonight, but I’d rather not have to wait for one in the morning.”


“Sure Justin, that’s no problem. I can drop you off tonight, too if you want,” Cynthia offered.


“That’s okay, Cyn. It’s in the opposite direction and I don’t want you to have to drive that far after drinking. I’ll be fine tonight.”


Brian tried to focus on the conversation, but the only thing running through his mind was how hot Justin looked in his street clothes. Shaking off those thoughts, he signaled for the bartender and ordered a double beam. He needed something to block out the strange feelings he was having with Justin sitting so close.


Time passed quickly with the three of them talking, laughing, and drinking much more than any of them should have. By 11:00, Cynthia had had enough.


“Alright you two, I think it’s time to go. We all have to be up and in the office early.”


“Hey, don’t look at me. I own the place. I don’t have to be there until I decide to stroll in,” Brian teased. “Hey Justin, what do you say we hit Babylon and do a little dancing? As the boss, I give you permission to be late tomorrow.”


Justin felt as if there was some reason that he should refuse, but his alcohol affected brain couldn’t some up with one single reason why he shouldn’t go to Babylon. It had been months since the last time he was there. “Sorry Cyn, I have to do what the boss tells me,” he chuckled.


Cynthia sighed in exasperation. “Oh, alright…go ahead, but don’t think I’m going to do your work for you tomorrow while you’re both suffering from hangovers. You’re both on your own.” Giving them each a kiss, she grabbed her purse and headed out, leaving the men to dance the night away.


“You know she’s right, don’t you? We should probably just go home and try to get a couple hours of sleep before work tomorrow,” Justin slurred, feeling the affects of the alcohol as they walked outside.


“Yeah, you’re probably right. So we’ll just go and dance to a few songs and head home. Deal?” Brian asked with a devilish grin.


“You’re the boss,” Justin replied with a wicked smile. Who was he to go against his boss’s wishes?






Once they were inside Babylon, Brian and Justin made their way to the bar and downed another drink before deciding to hit the dance floor. Men everywhere were eyeing them up, some making their way over to dance with them, other’s watching from afar. Those who stood in the room could see what a stunning couple they made and watched with fascination, hoping to get the opportunity to get a little closer; but pretty soon it was apparent that was not an option. Even though they went out on the dance floor seeking to find dance partners, it only took a few minutes for them to come together, oblivious to everyone else on the floor.


For the next half hour, Brian and Justin lost themselves in the music and each other, neither one of them consciously aware of what was happening between them. Their dancing was a mixture of passion and longing, causing them to put on a show hot enough to blow away anything that took place in the back room. If anyone were to ask, their dancing would be described as fucking with clothes on. The way they touched, caressed, held each other was something that the patrons of Babylon had never seen before and it became painfully obvious to those around them that they only had eyes for each other. All everyone else could do was watch in envy.


Justin’s mind was spinning. The alcohol that he’d consumed was causing him to feel things he didn’t normally feel; and those feelings were of need and longing. He wanted the man like no one ever before and even though his muddled brain was telling him to put an end to what was happening between them, he was powerless to do anything but savor the heat that was coursing through him. He had no choice but to let things happen and worry about the consequences later.


Brian suddenly had enough dancing. His cock was painfully hard, trapped inside his pants, screaming to be set free. He knew that what he intended was wrong; knew that Justin should be off limits, but his need and desire was just too strong. He wanted Justin in a way that would normally make him run in the other direction, but he pushed those thoughts aside as he whispered in the younger man’s ear.


“Let’s get out of here.”


Justin didn’t reply, just followed Brian off the dance floor and out of the bar. Once the cool air hit, the reality of the situation fell upon them and neither one of them was sure what to say. Justin was the first one to break the silence.


“Do you want to come back to my place?”


“I probably shouldn’t,” Brian replied quietly.


“No, you probably shouldn’t,” Justin agreed.


Neither one of them said another word as Justin hailed a cab. He waited for Brian to climb in and followed him in giving the cab driver his address. Once they were outside the apartment building, Justin climbed out, offered his hand to Brian, who paid the driver and took the offered hand without question. The ride up in the elevator was made in silence, each man lost in thoughts of what was to come. When they reached the door, Justin looked back at Brian before using his key to unlock the door. He gestured for Brian to go in and followed behind him, startled when he felt himself being spun around; his mouth being taken in a hungry kiss. It only took a moment for him to get his bearings and kiss Brian back, releasing all of the passion that had been building up between them during their dancing if not before then.


Knowing that he was going to follow his body, not his mind, Justin pulled back and took Brian’s hand, leading them into the bedroom. Once there, Justin began to remove his clothes, anxious for the feel of Brian’s well toned body against his. He saw the lustful look in Brian’s eyes as realization kicked in and he too began to strip. Soon they were both standing there, completely undressed and waiting for the next move to be made. Brian’s instincts kicked in first and he pushed Justin back on the bed, climbing on top of him until they were pressed together from head to toe. He looked deep into those deep blue eyes that haunted his thoughts more often than not in the last few days and was pleased with what he saw staring back at him. Without further hesitation, Brian took Justin’s mouth once again, more forcefully this time, while his hands began to explore the exquisite body beneath him. He was rewarded with the sound of tiny moans, sending chills down his spine. When he reached his cock, leaking and begging for attention, Justin gasped in pleasure.




Brian pulled away from the kiss and smiled down at Justin before kissing his way quickly down the man’s body, needing to have a taste of his seed. One swift lick of his tongue had Justin arching up, seeking more contact, which Brian eagerly gave by taking the entire shaft into his mouth. He could feel Justin’s hands burying themselves into his hair, forcefully pulling him back up.


“No more foreplay, Brian; just fuck me,” Justin demanded, not only startling Brian but himself, too. Justin was primarily a top, but at that moment he wanted nothing more than to be filled by Brian.


Brian smiled at the man’s request and sat back while Justin retrieved a condom and lube from the night stand. With great speed Brian sheathed himself and placed a generous amount of lube on his fingers before sinking one finger into Justin’s waiting hole. When he felt the tightness surround him, he realized that it had probably been awhile for Justin and somehow that thought seemed to please him. He slowed down the pace a bit, as hard as that was; to make sure Justin was properly prepared. Once he was sure that Justin was ready, he guided Justin’s legs on to his shoulders and positioned himself at his entrance, slowly pushing inside. Nothing prepared him for the feeling of being inside of Justin, buried deep within his warmth; it was amazing.


Justin felt Brian slide in and took a deep breath while riding out the pain and discomfort. Brian seemed to sense his need to go slow and gave him time to adjust to the welcome intrusion. Once the pain started to recede and the pleasure took over, Justin began to push back giving Brian the go ahead, and lost himself in the feeling of being taken. It had been so long since Justin had allowed someone to enter him he had forgotten how good it could be, although he sensed that the fact it was Brian made all the difference.


Soon all rational thoughts were gone and they rocked together in perfect unison, working with each other to bring them to completion. It didn’t take long before Brian could feel himself on the edge. Reaching between their bodies, he grabbed Justin’s cock and with a few pulls, knocked them both over the edge. Brian collapsed on top of Justin, his head reeling from the intense orgasm he just experienced. A few minutes later, he heard Justin trying to mutter something from his position beneath him and rolled off to the side.


“What was that?” he laughed.


“I said why don’t we hop in the shower and clean up? It’s late and we’ve got work tomorrow,” Justin repeated.


“Sounds good to me; you got me all sticky,” Brian teased, earning himself a pillow in the face.


Brian laughed as he followed Justin into the bathroom. Twenty minutes later they were all clean and settled in bed. Without giving it much thought, they drifted off to sleep with Justin on his side and Brian spooned behind him as if they had done it all their lives.


The alarm had been going off for thirty minutes before Justin finally realized what the obnoxious noise was. He shut it off and jumped out of bed, calling out to Brian as he headed towards the bathroom. Once he was finished relieving himself, he turned on the shower and climbed in, refusing to let the pounding in his head slow him down. He jumped slightly when Brian joined him a few minutes later.


“Sorry. I figured that since we’re running late, this would be much more efficient,” Brian explained when he saw the look Justin was giving him.


“It’s okay,” Justin replied as casually as possible. Meanwhile his heart was racing at the sight of Brian soaping himself. Yes they had fucked the night before, but alcohol played a big part in their activities. Now, in the light of day, Justin wasn’t sure how he was supposed to react to the other man; his boss. Figuring he’d let Brian take the lead, they washed quickly and got out, Justin dressing in his favorite suit while Brian was left to wear the clothes from the night before. As they walked towards the door, Brian was thinking about how he’d have to go back to his hotel and change when a sudden thought occurred to him.


“Justin, by any chance did you call Cynthia and tell her you were going to grab a cab?”


“No, why would I call…” Reality set in seconds before the knock at the door. He looked at Brian in a panic.


“Go ahead, you might as well open the door,” Brian said, preparing himself for the wrath he knew he was about to face. He wasn’t disappointed.


“Justin, are you ready to….Brian?” Cynthia asked in shock.


“Hey Cynthia,” Brian greeted her quietly.


“Oh Brian, please tell me you didn’t do what I think you did,” Cynthia moaned, already knowing the answer.


Justin could feel the tension and figured the best thing to do was to get everybody to work without having a discussion on the previous night’s events.


“So Cyn, are you ready to go?” He asked quickly.


Cynthia turned on here heels and headed back to the elevator without a word, leaving the two men to catch up with her.


“That went well,” Justin said with a small smile.


“I think so, too,” Brian chuckled, feeling the slight ache growing with each step.






Once Brian was finally able to close himself in his office he let his mind wander to the blond down the hall. He couldn’t figure out what it was about Justin that caused him to follow the blond back to his place, but they had to work together so he had to make sure nothing else happened between them. He had already called the florist and arranged to have a dozen roses sent to Cynthia, hoping that would be enough to get the woman to talk to him again; she hadn’t uttered one word during the ride to the office. He was just trying to forget what happened and concentrate on work when there was a knock at the door and Justin entered hesitantly.


“Hey, you got a minute?”


“Yeah, what’s up?” Brian replied.


“I just thought we should talk about…last night. I mean, it probably wasn’t a good idea…since we have to work together and all,” Justin stammered, avoiding eye contact.


“No, it wasn’t. We’ll just have to chalk it up to way too much alcohol and put it behind us,” Brian agreed.


“Exactly; too much alcohol. We can just forget it ever happened. No big deal,” Justin assured him.


“Right; it’s forgotten. Now, do you have the file for Dandy Lube? I wanted to go over a few things before this afternoon’s meeting,” Brian asked, changing the subject.


“Yeah, I was going over it yesterday. There are a few things that jumped out at me that I think we need to discuss. Why don’t you come to my office when you get a chance and I’ll show you what I mean?”


“Okay, I’ll be there in about twenty minutes,” Brian said, dismissing him to refocus on the file before him.


Justin took his leave then, trying not to think about the way Brian so casually put aside their night of passion.


Brian somehow managed to push away thoughts of Justin and concentrate on work for about ten minutes when Cynthia walked in glaring at him as if he just kicked a kitten.


“What do you want, Cyn?”


“What do I want? How about an explanation? What were you thinking? How could you go home with Justin last night? Jeez Brian, I leave you two alone for one night and look what happens!” Cynthia exclaimed, anger evident in her voice.


“Okay, first of all, why do you assume that I was the one who instigated it? Maybe Justin seduced me? Did that thought ever occur to you?” Brian asked trying to remember who exactly the one who started it all was. “And secondly, why is it any of your business? Justin and I are grown men; if we want to fuck, it’s our business.”


“Oh no you don’t! Don’t you give me that ‘Justin seduced me, I was the helpless victim’ routine. I’ve know you forever and I know how you operate. You bought this company as an investment. You’re going to be out of here in a week or two, leaving Justin and I to deal with everything. How am I supposed to do that if you leave Justin with a broken heart?”


“A broken heart? Cynthia, you’re reading too many romance novels. We’re gay men; we don’t do broken hearts. Besides, who put you in charge of Justin’s social life? I’ll have you know he was in here not more than ten minutes ago agreeing that it was a lapse in judgment due to too much alcohol and it was best forgotten. Your golden haired boy is as heartless as I am.” Brian smiled at the shocked look on Cynthia’s face. “Now, can we move on? I’m going down to Justin’s office to work on the Dandy Lube account. If you need me for anything, that’s where I’ll be.”


Cynthia just nodded her head and watched Brian walk away, shaking her head at the cavalier attitude of the two of them. No matter how long she lived, she’d never understand gay men.


Brian and Justin spent the next couple of hours fixing the many mistakes made on the Dandy Lube account. Brian couldn’t believe that Vanguard was as successful as it was if what he had seen was a sample of Gardner’s talent. Of course, the meeting went great and the client was very pleased with the new ideas that he and Justin had come up with. Once it was over, Justin told Brian he had a personal errand to run and he would be back later in the day. Brian offered him the rest of the day off, but Justin refused, claiming he had too many things that needed his attention. They still hadn’t even thought about assigning someone as art director so Justin still had a lot to oversee.


By the end of the day, Brian had a killer headache and felt as if he’d gotten nothing accomplished. He was surprised when Cynthia walked into his office to say goodbye for the night.


“You’re leaving early?”


“Early? Brian, it’s almost seven. Shouldn’t you be heading out now, too?” she asked, noticing the pained look on Brian’s face.


“Yeah, in a little while. I just have a few more things that I want to look over. With any luck, I’ll be in Italy by the end of next week, but I want to make sure everything’s in order before I go. By the way, do you know where the boards are for Brown Athletics? Leo Brown will be here first thing in the morning and I want to go over the ads one more time and make sure everything is ready.”


“Yeah, they’re in the conference room. I set everything up so that you’re all ready to go in the morning. Do you want me to get them for you?”


“No, that’s okay. I’ll go down there and look them over. It’s probably nothing, but I just get the feeling that something’s missing,” Brian explained, closing the file in front of him. “You go home and I’ll see you in the morning.”


“Alright; and Brian? I’m sorry about this morning. You were right; it’s none of my business what goes on between you and Justin. I just don’t want to see anybody get hurt. I’ve already apologized to Justin and he assured me that he feels the same way as you do. Last night was just one of those things. I’ll keep my mouth shut from now on,” she assured him.


“I’ll believe that when I see it,” he teased. “Good night, Cyn.”


“Good night, Brian,” she laughed as she walked away.


Brian straightened up his desk and grabbed his briefcase before heading to the conference room. He was surprised to see the light on under the door. He had thought everyone had gone home. When he walked inside, he was even more surprised to see Justin inside, looking over the boards for Brown.


“What are you doing here? I thought everyone was gone already.”


Justin jumped at Brian’s voice. He didn’t realize that the man was still there. “Brian, I thought you left already. I was just looking over the boards again. I wasn’t involved in this account so I never really paid attention to the finished product. It’s not bad, but something seems to be missing, yet I can’t quite put my finger on it,” Justin explained, turning his attention back to the boards and ignoring the catch in his throat that seeing Brian had caused.


“I was thinking the same thing. That’s why I came down here.” Brian stood in front of the boards, trying to figure out what it was that didn’t seem to work when suddenly it hit him. “How about if we…”


For the next three hours, Brian and Justin worked feverishly, throwing ideas back and forth and making notes on what they wanted changed. Finally they were happy with the new approach and glanced at the clock, surprised at the time.


 “We’re never going to have time to work up the new boards before the meeting tomorrow,” Brian sighed, wondering how upset Leo would be if they were to postpone the meeting.


“We will if I stay all night and do them myself,” Justin suggested.


“I can’t ask you to do that. We didn’t really get much sleep last night and you look exhausted,” Brian replied in observation. He could see the dark circles that had formed under Justin’s eyes.


“You aren’t asking me; I’m offering. Besides, I have a stake in this account, too. If Vanguard doesn’t do well, it will reflect on me, remember?” Justin pointed out.


Brian saw the determined look on Justin’s face and knew there was no use in arguing with the man. “Fine, but I’ll stay, too.”


“No Brian…that’s okay. You don’t have to stay. Just go home and get some rest. I’ll be fine here by myself.” Justin assured him.


“No; if you stay, I stay.” Brian stated, leaving no room for argument.


Justin knew there was nothing he could do. Brian was the boss and if he insisted on staying, Justin would just have to go with it. “Okay then, we better get moving.”


They gathered up the boards and headed to the art department, working side by side to make sure they captured exactly what they were trying to say. They finally finished around four and carried the finished products to the conference room, setting them up on the stands.


“Thank you for staying; I really appreciate it. I think Leo is going to be pleased when he sees these,” Brian said as he stood back and looked at their work.


“I think so, too. He better be. I’d hate to find out that we wasted a whole night’s sleep for nothing,” Justin replied with a smile.


“It’s not for nothing. You’ll still have my undying gratitude,” Brian teased.


“Undying gratitude? Is that all I get, Boss?” Justin asked almost seductively.


“What else would you like?” The double meaning obvious in his voice.


Justin looked into Brian’s eyes and felt his groin tighten in response. Brian was devastating handsome under normal circumstances, but standing there with his suit jacket long ago discarded, his tie hanging loosely around his neck and his shirt rumpled from too many hours of work, he looked like every gay man’s wet dream; something that Justin couldn’t ignore. Without thinking about the repercussions, Justin placed his hand behind Brian’s neck, pulling him down for an earth shattering kiss, showing him exactly what he wanted for all the extra hours he’d just put in.






After their first kiss, everything seemed to happen so fast and before Brian knew it; both he and Justin were undressed and rock hard with passion and need. Pulling back, Brian looked deep into Justin’s eyes before lifting Justin up and placing him on the conference table; taking his mouth again in a deep kiss.


 Justin jumped, startled by the sudden movement and the coldness of the table beneath him, but was quickly distracted again when Brian’s lips met his. Justin opened his mouth, allowing Brian’s tongue to collide with his own, all rational thoughts gone from his mind. He refused to think about how what they were doing was wrong. How could it be wrong when it felt so good? He felt Brian’s lips leave him once again as the older man began placing soft kisses along his neck, throat and down to his chest. Gasping at the feel of Brian’s hot breath on his body, Justin placed his hands on Brian’s head, silently urging him down further. He was quickly rewarded when he felt himself being wrapped within the warm recesses of Brian’s mouth, causing Justin to elicit an animalistic groan.


Brian took Justin’s leaking cock in his mouth, gently at first relishing in the taste that had been haunting his mind all day. Hearing the sounds that Justin was making went straight to Brian’s groin, causing him to pick up the pace, needing to be inside of the blond. He took Justin even deeper into his mouth, feeling the tip of his cock hitting the back of his throat.


“Brian…fuck me,” Justin moaned, fighting to hold back his impending orgasm.


Brian heard Justin’s plea and gave one final lick to his cock before pulling away and reaching for the condom and packet of lube that he always keep on him. He quickly sheathed himself before squirting some lube on his fingers and entering Justin’s hole swiftly. Once he was sure that Justin was ready, he withdrew his fingers, pulled Justin to the end of the table and began pushing his way inside the tight opening; his mind reeling at the warmth he found there.


Justin felt Brian enter him and held his breath; waiting for the slight pain to give way to the pleasure that he knew was coming. Once he was ready, Justin pulled Brian in for a kiss, signaling that it was okay to continue. As Brian began thrusting inside him, bringing him closer to the edge, Justin could feel the room spinning out of control. As much as he wanted the feelings to continue, he needed the release that was fast approaching. He reached down between their bodies and grabbed his cock, pumping in time with Brian’s thrusts, calling out Brian’s name as his orgasm ripped through him.


Brian felt Justin tighten around him as he came and gave one final thrust before flying off into his own mind blowing orgasm. It took him a few minutes to get his breathing back to a somewhat normal pattern, giving him time to try to think of something to say. Unfortunately, nothing came to mind and as he pulled out, he looked at Justin hoping that the younger man would have better luck than he did with words. The uncomfortable silence that followed suggested that he didn’t.


Once Brian walked over and began picking up their clothes, Justin lifted himself off the table, walking towards the cabinet that held the cloth napkins kept on hand for working lunches. He made a quick job of cleaning up and turned around to find Brian behind him, handing him his clothes.


“So,” Brian sighed.


“I guess we can’t blame this on being too drunk, huh?” Justin said as he began to dress.


“No, not this time.”


“I didn’t think so,” Justin replied sadly. “Well, I better hurry home and shower. We have to meet with Brown at nine.”


“Justin, you’ve been here all night. If you want, you can skip the meeting and just get some sleep. I can handle things from here,” Brian assured him, wanting to put some space between them.


“You’ve been here all night, too. Besides, I’m used to living on little sleep. I’ll be fine; I’ll just leave a little early today.” Justin knew that sleep would be a long time coming anyway, so why not just work through the jumbled thoughts that were invading his mind?


“Okay…then I guess I’ll meet you back here in a little while.”


“Yeah, later.” Justin took one final look at Brian before heading out the door, desperate for the emptiness of his apartment.


As soon as Brian got back to his hotel he jumped in the shower, removing the traces of Justin from his body. Unfortunately it wasn’t as easy to remove the blond from his mind. He didn’t know what it was about Justin that kept him wanting more, but the feelings he was having were making him very uncomfortable. He figured that after their drunken night, Brian would be able to put his lustful thoughts aside; but seeing him in the conference room, looking rumpled from a hard days work caused his desire to spike once again. He knew that taking him in the office was the wrong thing to do, but he hadn’t been able to stop himself. Now all he could do was hope to have it all out of his system. Otherwise he was going to have to go to plan B, knowing that he would have to endure that wrath of Cynthia if he chose that option.


At quarter after eight, Brian walked back into Vanguard, ready to put the last day and a half out of his mind. Unfortunately, seeing Justin standing by Cynthia’s desk, laughing at something she had said caused his cock to once again begin hardening against his will. He was royally fucked.


“Brian, I was just going to call your hotel. Ted called a little while ago. He said he tried your cell, but you didn’t answer. He wants you to call him right away,” Cynthia informed him, noticing the dark circles that were under his eyes. They suspiciously matched the ones that Justin was sporting.


“Thanks Cyn, I’ll call him now,” Brian replied, nodding at Justin as he made his way to his office.


“Justin, is everything alright with you two? You both look like shit and seem to be a thousand miles away,” Cynthia said as soon as Brian was out of ear shot.


“Huh? Oh…uh…yeah. Everything’s fine. I better get to my office and get started on my day. Talk to you later, Cyn.” Justin stammered, shocked by the impact that seeing Brian again had on him.


Cynthia watched Justin retreat, wondering what had happened between them to cause the obvious tension that suddenly settled in the room when Brian walked in. If her instincts were correct, she would say that there was more going on with them than they were letting on.


Brian sat down at his desk and reached for the phone, impatiently waiting for Ted to pick up.


“Schmidt here.”


“Hey Theodore, what’s up?”


“Hey Bri, I just wanted to let you know that I finally heard back from Maurice yesterday. He said that everything at your flat was fine and that you didn’t have to worry if you couldn’t make it there this month,” Ted told him.


Brian took a deep breath, knowing exactly what he needed to do. “Oh, don’t worry; I’ll make it. Hopefully after hanging up with you I’ll be booking a late night flight to Italy.”


“Tonight? Are you sure it’s a good time to go away? What about the business?” Ted asked, shocked by Brian’s plans.


“The business will be fine. I never planned on staying around anyway, remember? Cynthia and Justin can handle it on their own and if they have a problem, you know how to reach me. I’ll give you a call later, once I finalize my plans,” Brian said before hanging up. The last thing he wanted to do was to explain himself to Ted; especially since he didn’t have an explanation as to why he was leaving. He just knew that he had to get away. The sooner the better.






By 10:00 pm that night, Brian was on a flight heading towards Italy. He was still trying to push away the guilt he was feeling as he thought of the letter he’d left for Justin. It wasn’t as if he was needed there anymore. Vanguard was in good shape. All of their clients had been contacted and were happy to stay on with Justin at the head, plus Justin was in the process of bringing in two more accounts. It was time for him to move on. That was the plan. He needed to get things back on track; needed to get back to the life he’d become accustomed to through the years. Now all he had to do was get Justin out of his thoughts, although he had a feeling that was going to be easier said than done.


Justin had spent another restless night tossing and turning so that by the time his alarm went off he felt as if he hadn’t slept at all. No matter what he did, he couldn’t seem to get his mind off Brian. They’d been together twice already and each time Justin had hoped it would have been enough to quench his thirst for the man, but if anything it was only adding fuel to the fire. The sex was by far the best of his life and he had a feeling that it was going to be hard to find someone who could even begin to compare. It was all so confusing. All these years he’d enjoyed tricking, never allowing anyone to get too close. Now in a matter of days he was spending his time dreaming about brown hair and hazel eyes like a love sick teenager. He couldn’t wait until Brian left the country so that things could go back to normal.


As Justin walked into the office, he knew immediately that something was different. He wasn’t sure what it was, but something just felt off. He decided to stop by to see Cynthia before making his way to his office.


“Hey Cyn, what’s going on?”


“Good morning Justin. Not too much happening right now. We have a meeting with Poole Beverage at 1:00 but other than that, it’s an easy day,” Cynthia replied with a smile.


“Sounds good to me. I’m still trying to recover after the all-nighter,” Justin chuckled, refusing to let his mind wander back to what had happened in the conference room. “Is Brian in yet?”


“No, he hasn’t come in yet. I’m a little surprised actually. I guess he’s still trying to recover, too. I better give him a call.”


“Alright, then I guess I’ll go to my office and try to get some work done. We really need to make a decision about the art department. It’s getting harder and harder for me to handle the work of both positions. I really need to have someone in place before Brian leaves,” Justin admitted.


“I know. Maybe we can work on that today. Burning the candles at both ends is probably what has you looking so tired these days,” Cynthia pointed out.


“Yeah, that’s probably it. I’ll see you later,” Justin said as he walked away, thankful that Cynthia didn’t know the real reason for his sleepless nights.


As soon as Justin walked into his office and approached his desk, he noticed the envelope that was sitting there waiting for him; the one with Brian’s handwriting on it. He went back and closed the door before putting down his briefcase and sitting behind his desk, staring at the envelope in front of him. He had a funny feeling that he wasn’t going to like whatever was inside.


Taking a deep breath, he opened the envelope and pulled out its contents, startled by what was inside. The legal documents giving him the power to run the company with Brian’s signature on them, a list of important phone numbers and access codes that Justin might need in Brian’s absence, a set of keys, and a letter addressed to Justin. He sat back in his seat and slowly and started to read Brian’s parting words.




I think its best that I go to Italy now instead of waiting around for another week, and I know that if you think about it, you’ll agree. Here is everything that you need to take Gardner’s place. I have absolute faith in you and your abilities and I know you will do a good job. I’m not sure how long I’ll be out of the country, so if anything comes up that you think I should be aware of; Theodore Schmidt knows how to reach me. Call him and he will get the message to me. I’m sure you’re going to be pretty pissed off at my leaving like this, but I never planned on sticking around anyway. Vanguard is just an investment. It’s time for me to move on and leave the rest up to you and Cynthia. I’ll be in touch.





Justin let out a deep sigh as he allowed himself to be overcome with sadness. Brian was gone, and he didn’t even care enough to say good bye.


Cynthia slammed down the phone in absolute anger. She had just been informed that Brian had checked out of his hotel and she had a feeling that she knew where he was. Rising from her desk, she made her way to Justin’s office and knocked lightly before entering.


“Justin, I just got off the phone with the Westin. Apparently Brian checked out late last night,” she said before noticing the strange look on Justin’s face.


“Brian’s gone to Italy,” he stated emotionlessly.


“How did you know…”


Justin just held up the letter in response.


“That mother fucking son of a bitch!” she exclaimed, momentarily forgetting her WASP upbringing.


“It’s no big deal, Cyn. It was only an investment for him, remember? We can handle things around here without him. Do me a favor and call all the employees for a meeting in the conference room at 11:00. I think they need to know what’s going on. Also, start pulling the files for everyone in the art department. We need to see if there’s anyone on board who can handle a promotion. Otherwise we’ll have to run an ad. I want to have a director in place as soon as possible. That’s all for now,” Justin said, as he booted up his computer.


“Justin, are you alright?” Cynthia asked with concern.


“Of course I am; why wouldn’t I be? We knew that Brian was leaving anyway. He just decided to go a little earlier, that’s all.”


Cynthia didn’t buy his casual attitude for a minute, but knew that it wasn’t the time to push the issue. Ever since she saw Brian at Justin’s place the other morning she knew someone was going to get hurt, and just as she expected it was Justin who was left to pick up the pieces that Brian left behind.


“Well, I’d better start letting everyone know about the meeting.” Cynthia moved towards the door before turning back around and drawing Justin attention. “Justin, if you need to talk, you know where I’ll be.”


“There’s nothing to talk about, Cynthia. I’ll see you at 11:00,” Justin said, dismissing her completely.


Cynthia fumed as she walked back to her desk and reached for the phone. She waited patiently until she heard a voice on the other end pick up.


“Ted, what the hell is going on with Brian? Why did he take off to Italy without telling anyone?”


“Cynthia? Is that you?” Ted asked. “What do you mean without telling anyone? You didn’t know he was going?”


“No Ted, he never said a word. I called his hotel this morning and they told me he checked out last night. Apparently he left Justin a letter saying that he was going to Italy. Did he tell you why he changed his plans so suddenly?” she questioned.


“No, he never said. I called him yesterday morning to let him know that I’d heard back from Maurice and that he was going to keep looking after the flat until Brian got there. I was surprised when he told me he was hoping to leave last night. I assumed that he talked to you about it,” Ted explained, wondering what secret Brian was keeping.


“I had no idea. Listen Ted; give me the phone number at the flat. He’s might not even be there yet, but I really need to talk to him.”


“Cynthia, what’s going on?” Ted asked as he searched for the number.


“I’m not really sure, but I intend to find out,” Cynthia assured him.


Once she had the number, she promised to keep Ted informed on what she found out and said good bye. She took a deep breath before dialing the number in Italy. Just as she thought, no one answered and her call went to voice mail.


“Brian, you asshole! Call me when you get in. We need to talk. Don’t make me get on a plane and come after you. I’ll be waiting.” She hung up the phone and hoped that her threat was taken seriously. Otherwise she would go after him, if only to kick his ass.


Justin walked into the conference room at quarter to eleven and was surprised at the reaction he had to the room. Everywhere he looked, he saw flashes of his and Brian’s night there, causing him to want to run away from it all. But he couldn’t. Running away was Brian’s trick; not his. Once everyone was seated around the table, Justin went into professional mode and filled everyone in on the changes that were going to take place. They seemed surprised that Brian was gone, but assured Justin that they were loyal to him and ready to have him take the helm. After the meeting ended, Cynthia and Justin went through the files and decided to appoint Kenny Johnson as director. He was one of Justin’s best workers and his file showed his past accomplishments, all of which impressed Justin.


The rest of the day went pretty smoothly. The meeting with Poole Beverage went well and Kenny accepted the promotion they offered him. By the time Cynthia got home, she was exhausted, but happy with the way things were going. She made herself a light dinner and took a hot bath, then climbed into bed with her book, intent on getting a good night sleep. Just as she got comfortable, the phone rang, causing her to jump in surprise.




“Hey Cyn, it’s me,” Brian said quietly into the phone.


Hearing Brian’s voice caused all the anger Cynthia had finally managed to put away come back full force. “Brian Kinney, what the hell is going on?”


“My trip went well; thanks for asking,” Brian chuckled nervously. He really didn’t want to have the conversation that he knew was coming.


“Don’t give me that crap, Brian. Why did you sneak away like a thief in the night?”


“I didn’t sneak away,” Brian denied.


“The hell you didn’t! How could you do that? You didn’t even have the decency to say good bye to me. I thought we were friends.”


“I’m sorry, Cyn. It has nothing to do with you. I just needed to get away. You wouldn’t understand,” Brian sighed.


“This is about Justin, isn’t it? I thought you said it was a one time thing; a lapse in judgment, no big deal.”


“It was,” Brian agreed.


“Then what’s the problem? Brian, I’m your best friend. Talk to me.”


Brian sighed once again. “Cynthia, there’s nothing to talk about. Justin and I had another lapse in judgment and I thought it would be a good idea to get out of town.”


“Another lapse in judgment? Oh Brian, what have you done? No wonder Justin seemed so upset today.”


“Is he alright?” Brian couldn’t help but ask.


“Do you even care?” she replied sarcastically.


“Yeah, I do. Look Cyn, I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I don’t even know how it all started, but that’s why I left. I had to put a stop to it before it got out of hand.”


“I hate to say this, but I think you were a little too late. Let’s forget about Justin for a minute. How are you doing?”


“I’m fabulous as always,” Brian lied, hoping that Cynthia didn’t notice the catch in his voice.


“Look Brian, I’ve known you for a long time and I’m beginning to think that you really care for Justin. Did it ever occur to you that maybe you’re finally growing up? If Justin means enough to you that you would run half way around the world to get away from him, maybe you should start reconsidering those asinine rules you live by. Falling in love isn’t the disaster that you think it is,” Cynthia said softly.


“Look Cyn, I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you soon,” Brian replied, refusing to allow her to continue with the conversation.


“I love you, Brian. Take care of yourself.”


“Me too, Cyn. Good night.”


Cynthia hung up the phone and wiped away the stray tear that fell down her cheek. She could hear the pain and anguish in Brian’s voice and hoped that one day he would be able to overcome the demons that had been chasing him since his childhood and open himself up to someone before it was too late.


The minute Daphne saw Justin walk through the door after work she knew something was wrong.


“Okay, out with it. What happened?” she questioned as he went to the kitchen for a beer.


“What makes you think something happened?” he asked innocently.


“Justin, I’ve know you forever so don’t even try to deny it.”


“It’s a long story and I’m not really in the mood to get into it. All I want to do is go to bed. It’s been a long couple of days,” he admitted with a yawn.


“Well then I suggest you give me the condensed version because I’m not going anywhere until you tell me why you look like shit. Now out with it,” she demanded gently.


“Fine, Brian and I fucked…twice, and now he’s gone. He took off to Italy last night without telling anyone, so I guess I’m the boss now. Satisified? Now I’m going to bed.” Justin tried to walk past her, but she grabbed him by the arm to stop him.


“Wait right there, Taylor! You and Brian had sex? Twice?”


“It’s no big deal, Daph. I have sex with lots of guys,” Justin replied casually.


“But Brian’s your boss,” Daphne pointed out. “And why would he take off without telling anyone?”


“I don’t know. Maybe he just needed a vacation.”


“Justin, he agreed to stay for a couple of weeks while the company was in transition. It sounds as if he was running away from something…or someone. How does he feel about what happened between you two?”


“He feels the same way I do. We’re grown men who don’t believe in love. It’s no big deal,” Justin stated.


“No big deal…right. That must be why you look like shit and he disappeared. Justin, when are you going to grow up and realize that there’s more to life than just fucking?”


“Give it up, Daph. I’m just tired from too much work and not enough sleep. Whatever happened between Brian and I has nothing to do with it. Now, I’m going to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.” Justin walked away without giving Daphne time to say anymore. She would never understand how he felt anyway. Hell, he didn’t even understand anymore.


Daphne watched Justin walk into his room and her heart went out to him. It was obvious that Brian was beginning to mean something to Justin, but he was too blind to see it; and she had a strong feeling that Brian’s disappearance was more than just him wanting to get away. She was beginning to think that Brian and Justin were more alike than either of them realized. They both liked living in the land of denial.






It had been one month since Brian had left Pittsburgh and Justin still couldn’t seem to get him out of his mind. He got up each day, went to work and life moved on, but nothing had any excitement to it anymore. Even the little bit of tricking he’d done didn’t have the same effect that it used to. His whole world had changed the day Vanguard was sold. Other than the occasional message passed along from Ted, Justin hadn’t heard anything from Brian. It was as if he’d never met the man. Cynthia still gave him sympathetic looks now and then, but she never mentioned Brian’s name unless she had to. About two weeks after Brian’s mysterious departure, Justin had finally admitted to himself that he had somehow managed to fall in love with the older man, but there was nothing he could do about it. Brian didn’t believe in love and Justin sure as hell wasn’t going to go chasing him half way across the world only to be sent away. He’d just have to keep living day by day until Brian was just a distant memory and he could put him in the past and go back to his old ways. And that was exactly doing; living day by day. His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on his office door.


“Come in,” he called, trying to make it look like he was concentrating on work.


“Justin, your 4:00 appointment had to postpone until next week. Why don’t you go home early for a change?” Cynthia suggested. She still felt bad for her friend. He hadn’t been the same since Brian left and instead of things getting better, they were only getting worse. The dark circles under his eyes seemed to have gotten darker and she hadn’t seen a real smile in over a month.


“Thanks Cyn, but I’m okay,” Justin replied.


“Justin, you can’t keep going on like this. You work 14 hours a day, five days a week and I know you’re here on the weekends, too. You need to slow down a bit; otherwise you’re going to end of sick and then what? Please take the afternoon off and go home,” she pleaded.


Justin was about to refuse again when he saw the concern in her eyes. He didn’t mean to make her worry so much. He was just trying to get through a rough spot and working seemed to help him along. “Alright, I’ll go. I guess I could use a little down time. Do me a favor and take these ideas to Kenny. Tell him I want to see some sample drawings by the end of the week.”


“I’ll take them right now. Try to get some rest, okay?”


“I will, I promise. Thanks Cyn.”


Once Cynthia was gone, Justin shut down his computer and got ready to head home, feeling as if it had been weeks since he’d slept; not hours.


Cynthia was so relieved when she saw Justin leave. It was killing her to watch Justin lose the light in his eyes and she wished there was more she could do for him, but she was at a loss. She hadn’t talked to Brian since he called her the night after he left. The only communication she had with him was through Ted and an occasional email all focused on the business. She’d tried calling him occasionally, but he never answered the phone or returned her calls. She had Ted relay a few heated messages for her, but his only reply was that he was fine and he would be in touch soon. She was ready to strangle him.


By late afternoon, Cynthia had accomplished all that she planned to do for the day and decided to head home a little early herself. She stopped at the store on the way home, picked up a few things for dinner and then enjoyed a nice, quiet evening at home, falling asleep by 10:00. The shrill ringing of the phone brought here out of a deep sleep and she glanced at the clock, noticing that it was 3:00am. He heart started racing as she reached for the phone. Bad news always came in the middle of the night.


“Hello?” she answered nervously.


“It’s me,” Brian whispered into the phone.


“Brian? What’s wrong? Where are you?” she asked in confusion, trying to shake the sleep from her mind.


“I’m still in Italy.”


“Why are you calling me in the middle of the night? Did something happen?” she questioned.


“Shit, I’m sorry Cyn. I didn’t think about the time difference. Go back to sleep and I’ll just talk to you later,” Brian replied.


“Oh no you don’t, Brian! I’m already up and I’ve been trying to call you for weeks. Don’t you dare hang up this phone.” Cynthia was wide awake now and curious as to why Brian was calling. “Are you alright?”


“Not really,” Brian sighed.


“Brian, you’re starting to scare me. What’s wrong?”


“I don’t know.”


“You don’t know? You’re going to have to be a little more specific,” Cynthia said patiently.


Brian took a deep breath before answering. “I can’t stop thinking about him,” he admitted quietly.




“Who else? I tried, Cyn. I’ve spent the last month doing everything I could think of to forget all about him, but I can’t. I don’t know what to do.”


“Oh Brian…”

”I need your help, Cynthia. What am I going to do?” Brian took another drink from the bottle of beam in his hand, wondering if calling Cynthia had been a good idea. He just didn’t know what else to do.


“Have you thought about calling him and talking to him?”


“Why would I do that?” Brian scoffed at her suggestion.


“Because that’s what you do when you love someone,” Cynthia explained hesitantly.


“I don’t love him, Cynthia. I don’t even believe in love.”


“Brian, you don’t have to believe in love to feel it. Love isn’t something you can control. I know how hard it was for you to grow up in the Kinney household, but you can’t let that ruin your chance at happiness. It’s time for you to put all that in your past and work on your future. You deserve to love and be loved in return.”


“That has nothing to do with…”

Cynthia stopped him before he could finish. “Doesn’t it? You think that just because your parents couldn’t love you the way that they should have that no one else will either, but you’re wrong. I love you, Brian. You are a great friend and a wonderful person; despite the way you try to hide it. I’ve known it since the day we met. It’s time for you to know it, too.”


“I’m not a wonderful person. I’m a heartless shit, remember?” Brian chuckled.


“No…you’re not. It’s just an act, but anyone who knows the real you knows what a bunch of crap that it.” Cynthia insisted gently.


“Cyn, I didn’t call you for you to stroke my ego; I called so you could tell me what you think I should do.”


“Call Justin.”


“But…” Brian began.


“Call him, Brian,” she insisted.


“What if he…”


“He’s as miserable as you are,” Cynthia admitted.


“He is?” Brian asked somewhat surprised. “What if he doesn’t want to talk to me after the way I left?”


“He probably won’t want to; but he will. Trust me.”


“Unless he hangs up on me before I have a chance to say anything,” Brian mumbled his mind racing with a million possibilities.


“Well, then why don’t you get your butt back here and talk to him face to face?” Cynthia suggested.


“I don’t know what to say to him. I’ve never…felt…like this before. I’ve never done anything like this. I think I’m losing my mind.”


“Brian, you’re not losing your mind. Just go to him; tell him how you feel. Everything else will work itself out, I promise. Now I happen to know that Daphne is going to be away all weekend and he’ll be home alone. Aside from the hours he puts in at Vanguard, of course,” Cynthia informed him.


“He works on the weekends? Why?”


“Oh, probably for the same reason you’ve been running around Italy. Trying to make himself believe that he doesn’t care about you and miss you,” she explained. “He doesn’t believe in love either, remember?”


“Oh,” was his only reply.


“Call me when you get in?”


“I will,” Brian assured her quietly. “And thanks Cynthia.”


“Anytime Brian, that’s what friends are for.” Cynthia hung up the phone and lay back down, unable to keep the smile off her face. Brian was finally coming home, and with any luck the old Justin would be back soon as well.


By Friday afternoon, Justin was exhausted and all he wanted to do was lock himself up in his apartment and sleep all weekend. He was happy that Daphne had gone away the day before; she’d been giving him a hard time about his mood swings lately and he wasn’t up for another lecture about how he should be going out and meeting people. As he stepped off the elevator, he was shocked to see Brian standing by his door, waiting for him.


“What the fuck are you doing here?” Justin demanded as he walked towards Brian. It had been over a month since they’d last seen each other, but the attraction was stronger than ever for him.


“I…uh…thought that we...should talk,” Brian stammered.


Justin wanted to tell him to fuck off; tell him it was too late for talking, but he knew that he couldn’t. Even after everything that’s happened, he couldn’t refuse Brian anything. He stared into hazel eyes for a moment before reaching for his keys and unlocking the door. He walked inside and dropped his briefcase before heading to the kitchen for a drink. He didn’t bother to wait and see if Brian followed him in. He grabbed two beers and went back to the living room, handing one to Brian.


“Have a seat,” Justin offered. Once Brian was sitting down on the couch, he repeated his earlier question. “Brian, what are you doing here?”


“I…uh…” Brian’s ability to speak seemed to be temporarily lost, but he took a deep breath and tried again. “I…missed you.”


Justin felt the words deep in his chest, but refused to let Brian off the hook that easily. “You missed me? I’ve been here the whole time. You’re the one who ran away.”


“I didn’t run…” he stopped under the scrutiny of Justin’s glare. “Okay maybe I did, but can you blame me? This wasn’t supposed to happen, remember? We agreed that we just had a lapse in judgment. It was supposed to be a drunken fuck; nothing more.”


“Was I asking for anything more?” Justin asked tentatively.


“No,” Brian replied quietly.


“Then why did you leave? Were you worried that I was going to throw myself at you? Beg you to marry me?” Justin knew he was baiting Brian, but this was too important. He knew exactly how he felt about Brian, but he needed to know what Brian was feeling before things got too out of hand.


“Of course not.”


“Then what were you so afraid of?” Justin prodded.


“You’re not going to make this easy, are you?” Brian chuckled.


“Hell no; now answer the question.”


“What was the question again?” Brian teased, trying to buy himself some time.


Justin laughed. “What were you so afraid of?”


“You,” Brian finally admitted. “You’re different than all the others. I was feeling things that…that I’ve never felt before. I thought that if I went away…those feelings would go away, too.”


“And did they?” Justin asked, holding his breath for Brian’s reply.




Justin sighed in relief before responding. “You should have come to me. None of this has been easy on me either, you know. I was just like you; just as confused and scared as you were. Maybe we could have worked them all out together.”


“I know…I guess I just…panicked. Do you forgive me?” Brian asked, batting his lashes to lighten the mood.


Justin laughed at Brian’s playfulness before pulling him in for a deep kiss. They were both immediately lost in the passion they’d been denied in the last month and didn’t want to waste anymore time on talking. They had a lot to make up for.


Three hours later, as they lay spent in Justin’s bed; Brian asked the question that had been plaguing him since he talked to Cynthia the other night.


“What happens now?”


“I’m not sure. Why don’t we just take things day by day and see what happens?” Justin suggested.


“Sounds good to me,” Brian agreed, and then whispered, “I don’t want to fuck things up again.”


“Well, we’ve admitted that there’s something between us. I think that’s a good start. There’re no rules for what happens next; we can just do whatever feels right and see where we end up. Just promise me that you won’t run away again. If things get scary, you have to come and talk to me, okay?”


“I promise; no more running. You’re stuck with me,” Brian laughed.


“Good; I think I like being stuck with you,” Justin replied, pulling him in for another kiss, ending their conversation and kicking off round four.


Brian and Justin walked into Vanguard on Monday morning hand and hand. They were tired after their reunion weekend, but very happy with all they had accomplished in their relationship. Cynthia saw them walk in and couldn’t hide her surprise.


“Brian! What are you doing here?” she asked as she kissed his cheek.


“I own the place, remember?” he teased. “Besides, I’ve been a little bored lately so I thought it was time for me to get a job like normal people.”


“Job? You’re going to be working here? I thought you had no desire to work here; that it was just an investment?”


“Cynthia, Vanguard isn’t just an investment. It’s my future,” Brian replied with a smile.


Cynthia laughed at his reply. “Welcome home Brian.”


“Thanks Cyn. It’s great to be back.” Brian pulled Justin with him as he made his way to his office, ready to start on the future that was waiting for him; his future with Justin.



The End



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