“You know, I’m actually sorry to leave,” Glen sighed as he zippered up a suitcase.
“Yeah, me too. The summer just flew by,” Alex agreed as he began packing another bag with their belongings. “Soon it’ll be the…”
“Please don’t say the “h” word!” Glen growled. Alex went over to Glen and leaned over to kiss his neck.
“I won’t, I promise but this year we can spend them here, if you wish.” Alex murmured against Glen’s skin, gently nibbling the tender flesh. “Then we can have a proper fire going and make love on the hearth rug.”
Glen gave his spouse a look. “Have you been reading Jane Austen again?” Alex laughed and went back to his packing. “In spite of our vacation starting out as a “working” vacation, I really enjoyed our summer. I just wish it didn’t end so fast.”
“Me too. Is it my imagination or does it seem the older we get the faster time flies?”
“You know you do this every Fall, you start waxing poetic. You’re the psychiatrist, you know time doesn’t move, it’s linear, we move through time! Oh good god, now I’m sounding like Mr. Spock!”
Alex burst out laughing.
“Come on, Mr. Spock, time to pack the shuttlecraft and plot a course for home,” Alex teased.
“Easy for you to say,” Glen grumbled as he zippered up another suitcase.
The boys made one last sweep of the cottage before locking up and getting into their van. Alex was just about to turn the key in the ignition when John came jogging through the meadow closely followed by his pack.
“I’m glad I caught you,” John said as he shook hands with the lane’s newest family. “Do you have any concerns about the cottage?”
“No, I’m confident it’s in capable hands,” Alex said with a smile.
“I have a question,” Glen began as he raised his hand like a kid in school. Both John and Alex chuckled. “What about that palm tree in the sun porch and the flowers in the window boxes? Will someone take care of them or should I start humming Taps?”
Alex buried his head in his hands while John shook his.
“Bree or Brian will probably remove the summer annuals. The perennials will be fine. As for the palm, we’ll probably take it to the greenhouse for the winter. Since this cottage is mainly a summer cottage, the sun porch gets its heat from the sun and the main cottage. If you decide to stay for long periods in the winter, we can discuss other heating options.”
“Sounds good to me. Glen?”
“Yeah, that sounds logical,” Glen said without thinking. He was occupied by Little Beau who was up on his rear legs with his front paws in Glen’s lap. “I think I’m going to miss these wolves.” Lucie inserted herself next to Little Beau to give Glen a send-off lick on the cheek.
“I’m going to miss you, beautiful lady.” Glen dug his hands into the soft fur around Lucie’s neck to give her a rub. When she got down, Beau Sr. took her place. He gave Little Beau a nip to make the younger dog move out of his way.
“Master Beau, thank you for making us feel safe out here,” Glen said gently. Beau appeared to understand the compliment and puffed out his chest with pride. “Keep an eye on the place while we’re gone.” Beau woofed then moved out of the way before Little Beau could barge back in. Glen leaned as far back as he could away from the slobbering tongue of Beau Jr. “Yuck, now I’m going to smell like a dog for the next two hours!” Glen complained as he kept scratching Little Beau’s ears.
“Oh yeah, I can see what a real hardship that is for you,” Alex snarked. Glen just glared at his snarky partner.
“Down,” John firmly commanded when he thought Glen had enough love from the younger dog. Little Beau immediately sat down. “Good boy,” John said as he patted the big dog’s head.
“So now you tell me he’s trained,” Glen griped.
“You never asked,” John said with a laugh. Alex laughed too as Glen closed his eyes and groaned. “With your permission, I’m going to inspect your cottage now. If you call me when you’re planning to return I can prep the cottage before you get here.”
“Call you, not Brian?” Alex asked as Glen slid the van door shut and secured his wheel chair for the trip home.
“My brother has become very adept at prepping the cottages; however, he’s much better at landscaping,” John said with a wink and a smile.
“Understood,” Alex said with a nod.
The boys waved as John entered the cottage to do his thing. The “wolves” took off to parts unknown.
“We should say goodbye to Brian and Justin,” Glen said.
“I was planning on it. They’ve been very generous,” Alex agreed as he slowly drove the van around the cottage. The boys took in the lovely sight of the surrounding fields. The meadow was alive with thousands of sunflowers swaying in the breeze. “I will miss this.”
“It’s so beautiful,” Glen agreed. “Let’s spend our winter break here.”
“That’s a wonderful idea.”
Alex slowly drove the van through the meadow until they reached the manicured lawn of the conjoined cottages. This was the junction between the two driveways. Alex continued to drive until they were on the lane. He pulled up until they could see the gardens peeking out from the side of the house then parked. Brian was currently preparing his gardens for the cooler weather. He was dressed in his overalls, hat, and sunglasses. The sweat from his labors made his skin glisten in the sun.
Glen let out a slow whistle.
“Geez, that man is fucking hot!” Glen exclaimed. His appreciation for Brian’s physique was still quite obvious. Glen felt, rather than saw, Alex’s glare. “Still not dead,” Glen stated never taking his eyes off his landlord. Alex gave Glen a soft pop to the arm. “Ow!”
“That didn’t hurt, you big baby.”
“It could have!” Alex blew a raspberry. “Oh real mature. May I remind you that we won’t see Brian dressed like that again until next summer!”
“Hmm, you’re right. We better take a good look now,” Alex said. Glen snorted.
While the two of them kept bickering, Brian approached the van.
“Hey,” Brian called out into the window. The boys let out a startled scream.
“Don’t do that,” Glen gasped. “I’m fragile.”
“Fragile, my ass. You can probably bench me and Justin at the same time.”
“Well, I don’t like to brag,” Glen began proudly.
“So don’t,” Alex quickly interrupted. “Brian, we're heading back to the city. We just wanted to stop by to say goodbye and thank you. We’ve had a wonderful summer. We’re planning to come back for our winter break.”
“We should be thanking you,” Brian began.
“Yes, we should,” Justin added. He had been painting in the sun porch. Inspired by his hard working gardener, Justin took advantage of the opportunity to paint his favorite model. “You came here for a vacation but helped us in so many ways. I’ll always be grateful,” Justin said sincerely. Brian draped an arm around Justin’s shoulder to give him a squeeze.
“Think nothing of it,” Glen said seriously. “You’ve given us a beautiful refuge and we plan to come back as often as possible.” Alex nodded.
“Please say goodbye to Michael and Ben for us,” Alex said.
“Yes, and to the rest the families on the lane. You’ve all made us feel so warm and welcome,” Glen added.
“Even Michael?” Brian asked with a smirk.
“Even Michael,” Glen replied with a nod. Brian smiled at the man as he reached through the window to shake Glen’s hand.
Brian and Justin nodded as Alex started up the van then slowly pulled away.
“I guess the summer is really over,” Brian said with a sigh.
“Yeah, the kids start school next week,” said Justin.
“Are we doing anything for the Labor Day weekend?” Brian asked as the van took the short bend toward the gate then was out of view. The boys walked back to the cottage then into the kitchen.
“We should keep it low key. Ben and Michael just got back together. I think they need a little quiet time without family interference.”
“I’m with you on that one, Sunshine. We’ve had enough barbeques over the summer. Low key sounds perfect to me.”
“How goes the gardening?”
“Almost done. When I’m finished with ours I’ll start on Molly’s then work my way down the lane,” said Brian.
“That’s way too much for one day!”
“Don’t worry, McSunshine, I wasn’t planning on doing it all in one day. Our hippie dippy weatherman forecasts sunny skies for the rest of the week. I’ll do one cottage at a day. Does that meet with your approval?”
“Yes, it does,” Justin stated as he gave Brian a cool drink and a hot kiss.
“Besides, I like the idea about Mikey ramping up his online business. I’ll invite him over to work on it with him.” That remark earned Brian a bright sunny smile and another kiss from his Sunshine.
“Do we have time to discuss this further in our bedroom?” Justin murmured against Brian’s lips. Brian groaned and sadly shook his head no.
“I want to finish up the garden then I have some Kinnetik business to do. Your sister is flying out tomorrow to meet Gus, Ray, and Shane in Paris.”
“Not in London?”
“No, Shane decided to take the boys a few days early so they could get over that star struck 'we’re in Paris' phase. Then when they meet Pierre and his associates they can concentrate on business rather than being in awe of their surroundings.”
“That makes sense. I bet the boys are having a ball,” Justin said with a smile.
“If they’re smart, they’re having more than one,” Brian said with a lascivious grin.
Justin shook his head then pointed toward the door. “Go. Out. I think I hear your flowers calling you. I’m going back to my painting.” Justin turned, swishing his way back to the porch. It was Brian’s turn to shake his head…to clear it of thoughts of Justin’s lovely ass and of what he could do to it.
Brian sighed before going back to his gardens.
Gus' eyes fluttered open as he felt Ray's mouth around his cock. "Mmm," he moaned.
"Good morning, lover," Ray whispered, ceasing his ministrations to speak.
"Don't stop," Gus pleaded.
Ray went back to work.
Gus came with a shattering gasp. He lay in a hazy fog for a few minutes while Ray rolled onto his side and stared at his partner.
"Good?" Ray asked.
"Spectacular," Gus replied softly. "What a way to wake up!"
Ray chuckled. "I thought you needed a special wakeup call after tramping around the Louvre all day yesterday."
"I think I've had enough of museums and churches for a while," Gus said as he stretched.
"We could go to Versailles," Ray suggested.
"Yeah, I've heard all the gold and mirrors are quite splendid."
"That doesn't sound like a roaring approval of that plan."
"We can do it if you want," Gus acquiesced.
"What would you rather do?"
"I just love strolling the streets and having meals outdoors in a cafe or in that area with all the restaurants, you know where the waiter sent us."
"I really enjoyed that too. So, no gold and mirrors for Brian Kinney's son," Ray stated.
"You think that's what I would like?" Gus asked with a frown.
"Your dad is extremely wealthy."
"He is, but I'm not, and I don't think he would be too impressed with Versailles either."
"Really? Why not?" Ray asked.
"Look where he lives," Gus replied. "He could have a mansion or a penthouse or any kind of place he wanted, but he chose a cottage on an isolated lane."
"Hm, true," Ray said thoughtfully. "Surrounded by family and friends. I guess that's what is really important to him."
"It is. He likes the finer things in life, don't doubt that, but he isn't into ostentation."
"And neither is his son?"
"Nope, I like my life just the way it is."
"I'll remember that."
"Please do," Gus said with a winning smile. "Now it's my turn to provide you with a memorable wakeup call."
"But I'm already awake."
"Point taken," Gus said before kissing Ray thoroughly.
"Um, before I surrender to your wiles, young man, I think we should order something to eat."
"Yep, then you can have your way with me."
"You got it," Gus said with a grin as Ray reached for the phone. "Order lots of food. I'm starving."
They had time for some fun in bed before taking a hot shower and getting into robes just as their food arrived. They were quick to wolf down the bacon and eggs with delicious croissants to accompany them.
As they sat back with their cafe au lait, having devoured every last scrap of their breakfast, the phone rang.
"I wonder who that is?" Gus said. "Maybe it's Molly; she should be here soon."
"Or your dad checking up on us," Ray said with a smirk.
Gus shot him a look, before picking up the phone. "Hello," he said hoping it wasn't his dad checking up on them.
"Gus, me lad, how are you and Ray doing?" Shane asked in his brogue.
"Faith and begorrah, Shane, we're good," Gus replied trying to use his best brogue. It wasn't particularly successful. Gus heard Shane groan over the phone. "What?" Gus asked.
"Nobody uses that old expression anymore," Shane explained. "Where the hell did you hear it?"
"I don't know," Gus admitted. "Maybe my dad used it sometime."
"Well, tell him not to in the future," Shane stated with a little chuckle.
"I'll let him know," Gus said. "Why are you calling? Has something happened?"
Shane laughed. "Every time I call isn't a crisis."
Shane let that one go. "Have you guys been to the Eiffel Tower yet?" he asked.
"No. I hear it's hard to get in - long lines and you can only go up so far."
"That would be correct."
"Pierre thought he would treat you two. He's got some connections and he wangled a VIP pass for the two of you today, if you would like to use it," Shane explained.
"Would we! That would be great."
"He has a reservation for lunch up on the tower too."
"I take it you will be using both."
"Definitely. I can't thank Pierre enough."
"I'll tell him. He's earned some, what do you call it, brownie points?" Shane asked.
"He most definitely has."
Shane laughed. "The lunch reservation is for one p.m., but I suggest you arrive around noon and take the elevator to the top of the tower. Do your sightseeing first. You get a great view of Paris from there."
"That sounds wonderful," Gus said. "Thank Pierre for us, and I'll thank him myself later."
"Will do. I'll courier the pass over to your hotel. It should be there within the hour."
"Thanks again. Um, while you're on the phone, do you know when Molly will arrive?"
"I believe she'll be here tomorrow," Shane replied.
"Okay, and thanks again."
"No problem, my boy."
Gus hung up and Ray stared at him.
"I take it that you have committed us to something."
"Oops," Gus said shifting to sit close to his partner. "I should have asked you first, shouldn't I?"
"That would have been nice."
"Sorry, but it's all good," Gus said with a coy smile. "I promise you'll like it."
"We'll see," Ray responded.
Gus told him about their Eiffel Tower reservation and lunch. Ray indeed did like it. He sealed the deal with a warm kiss.
"Am I forgiven for not asking you first?"
"This time," Ray said pecking Gus' lips. "So what are we going to do until noon?"
"How about a stroll on the Champs Elysees?"
"Sounds like a plan."
"Let's go," Gus said jumping up. "I don't want to waste a minute, because Shane says Molly is arriving tomorrow. We'll have to get back to work."
"Bummer," Ray said. "I've really enjoyed being in Paris ... with you."
"Me too," Gus replied.
They shared another kiss.
"Let's get this show on the road," Ray said.
They walked the Champs Elysees from top to bottom, having first climbed the Arc de Triomphe which sat at one end of the Champs Elysees. They had a coffee at an outdoor cafe and watched the Parisians and tourists go by. Then they looked in some of the luxury shops that lined the avenue.
As noon approached, they grabbed a cab and arrived at the Champs de Mars which spread under the Eiffel Tower.
"Wow, look at the lines," Ray said. "We'll really have to thank Pierre."
"I'd say we're very lucky," Gus replied as he presented their pass at the VIP gate.
Everything went without a hitch and they only had to wait a few minutes for the next elevator. Soon they were standing at the top level of the Eiffel Tower.
"Wow!" Gus said as he did a three-sixty turn to take it all in.
"You've used that word a lot today," Ray chuckled.
"It's the only word that expresses what I feel. I can see why people fall in love with Paris."
"Yeah, it's pretty spectacular."
They spent several minutes enjoying the view and pointing out some of the sights they could see. Sacre Coeur church was visible on the horizon, high above most of the city.
"It's nice that there aren't skyscrapers to cut off the view," Ray observed. Gus nodded in agreement.
After a while they took the elevator down to the restaurant level. They enjoyed a nice lunch with a wonderful view.
Following their descent from the tower, they hailed a cab and asked the driver what part of Paris would be best for a nice walk. He suggested along the Seine where they had already been. His second choice was the Marais district and he dropped them off at one of the main areas for shopping and strolling. That took up the rest of the afternoon, before they ended up in the Latin Quarter for a late dinner.
When they finally returned to their hotel, both of them were tired and sated.
"It's going to be so hard to go back to work," Gus said.
"Yeah, this has been great, but I guess reality beckons tomorrow."
"I love you," Gus said as he kissed his partner.
"I love you too."
"Let's order a bottle of wine and toast the wonderful city of Paris," Gus suggested.
"That would be a perfect end to our mini vacation."
And it was.
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