On The Move
“So he said we could count on him to look after the shop when we go house hunting,” JR said into the phone.
“I half expected your father to blow a gasket when we told him about looking for a house,” Jacqueline said in reply.
“For a few minutes there I thought he was going to,” JR admitted with a small chuckle.
“But he finally saw reason?”
“I told him in no uncertain terms that it was our decision, not his.”
“Good for you. He seems to be somewhat better since his self improvement binge,” Jacqueline stated.
“He is; he’s really trying. But … it would have been nice if he had just been happy for us.”
“That seems hard for him unless it’s his idea to begin with.”
JR sighed heavily, as she pondered Jacqueline’s words. “I know you’re right, but I think he’s doing the best he can.”
“Such as it is.”
“I hear that Gus and Ray are moving into Uncle Brian’s old loft,” JR said deciding that another topic of conversation might be a good idea.
“Yes, apparently so.”
“I never thought the Stud of Liberty Avenue would give up his lair.”
JR chuckled. “Brian Kinney hasn’t used that title in a very long time, and I don’t think the loft has quite the reputation that it once had.”
“I’m not sure I could live there,” Jacqueline stated.
“Well, lucky you, you don’t have to live there. I assume you’re going to live in our new house … with me!”
“Try to stop me, Babe!”
“Never,” JR replied with a big grin on her face.
“Talk to you later,” Jacqueline said before she clicked off.
JR spent the next hour dealing with customers. She was quite pleased with the sales she racked up over that time. When the store finally emptied out, she sat down in the office and closed her eyes for a couple of minutes.
Finally she sat up straight and picked up her phone.
“Hey, Gus,” she said cheerfully when her call was answered.
“Hey, sis, how are you doing?”
“I’m good. How about you in your new digs?”
“Still getting used to it. We didn’t bring a lot of stuff with us, but Pop has the place well stocked,” Gus said.
“I bet. But you’ll have to put your own special touch on the place,” JR suggested.
“Yeah, easier said than done. This place has quite a reputation. I’m not sure if Pop would be too happy if we made major changes.”
“I don’t think he would have told you that you could move in if he didn’t want you to make it your own,” JR stated.
“Hm, I guess you’re right. I didn’t really looked at it that way,” Gus said thoughtfully.
“I have some news too,” JR said unable to contain herself any longer.
“You do? What?”
“Jacqueline and I are thinking about buying a house.”
“A house? Really?”
“Why do you sound so surprised?” JR asked with a frown.
“I guess I thought you two were happy where you are. I’ve never heard you mention moving before.”
“I haven’t mentioned it to anyone except Dad, but Jacqueline and I have been talking about it for a while.”
“You told your father?”
“Of course I did,” JR said defensively.
“Hey, I’m not criticizing you,” Gus said quickly. “I just thought that might be an interesting conversation … unless you’re going to move in next door to Michael.”
“Heaven forbid!” JR reacted.
“I know. I was kidding,” Gus laughed.
“Kid about something else, will ya.”
“Sure,” replied Gus not wanting to upset her anymore. “I think that’s great news … about the house, I mean. This will be a big step for you and Jacqueline.”
“Yeah, we’ve been living at her place for a while; now we will have a new start with our place.”
“I’m sure you’ll find just what you want, and it won’t be next door to your father,” Gus laughed.
“Thanks muchly, and I hope you guys will enjoy living in Pittsburgh … in the loft. It will be kind of nice having you close by, even if you are an annoying brat most of the time.”
“Thanks, and backatcha.”
“Bye, Gus,” JR said with a chuckle. “See you soon. We’re expecting a dinner in your new apartment.”
“Soon,” Gus promised before clicking off.
JR smiled to herself before making her next call … to Jennifer.
“Hey, Jennifer,” JR said when Jenn answered her phone.
“JR, how are you? It’s been a while since I’ve seen you,” Jennifer said.
“I’m good and so is Jacqueline.”
“Great! I missed seeing everyone over the holidays, but I think Justin and Brian did the right thing after Justin’s scare.”
“You must have been very worried.”
“It was touch and go there for a while. Thank God everything turned out all right. Justin didn’t need hordes of people around him so soon after being in the hospital. Holidays on the lane can be so busy.”
“Yeah, busy doesn’t seem like a big enough word for it.”
“Hectic, crazy, humungous…”
JR laughed. “All of those and more. Bree told me it was pretty quiet this year. They invited the doctor who looked after Justin to come for a few days. Apparently he has two handsome sons.”
“Oh, really? And Bree took special notice of these two handsome sons, did she?” Jennifer asked pointedly.
“One in particular. I think his name is Ryan.”
“Mmm, sounds interesting.”
“My little sister isn’t so little anymore,” JR said philosophically.
“They do grow up.”
“Anyway, I had something to ask you,” JR said deciding she better get to the real reason for her call.
“Oh, and what’s that?”
“Are you still doing real estate?”
“I’m semi-retired, but I still do occasional sales. Why?”
“Jacqueline and I are thinking we might like to have a house. It gets a little crowded in her apartment with the two of us. And … it would be nice to have a place that was the choice of both of us.”
“That sounds like a plan. Do you want me to look around for some potential properties?”
“That would be great if you could help us,” JR said.
“Could you and Jacqueline meet with me in the next couple of days to discuss your price range and what you’re looking for in the house, et cetera?”
“Sure, I’ll talk to Jacqueline and get back to you. And thanks, Jenn. It will be nice dealing with someone we know.”
“Happy to help.”
JR cut the connection and started humming as she heard the bell above the store door tinkle. “More customers to help pay for the house,” she thought.
Michael had picked up some groceries for dinner and was walking back to his house when he spotted something that made him stop in his tracks. He studied this new finding for a couple of minutes before hurrying home.
When he finished putting away his groceries, he picked up his phone and dialed the familiar number.
“Hey, Dad,” JR said into her phone.
“You’ll never guess what I saw today.”
“Probably not, so what was it? I can tell you’re bursting to inform me.”
“The house five doors down on our street just went up for sale,” Michael said enthusiastically.
“No shit!” JR reacted. Inwardly, she groaned so loudly that she wondered if her father could hear it through the phone.
“Good morning,” Ray said with a sleepy voice. Gus was gently waving a mug of coffee in Ray’s general direction. The aroma was cutting through Ray’s sleep fog. “Mmm, that smells good,” said Ray as he sat up and reached out for the mug. He took a good long sip. “What time is it; what day is it?”
“It’s about ten in the morning and today is another lazy day with my boyfriend day,” Gus pronounced.
“I like those days,” Ray said as he took another sip of coffee. He handed the mug back to Gus when nature began calling. Gus took the mug back to the kitchen while Ray obediently answered the call.
“Seriously, Bubba, when are we going back to work?” Ray asked as he sat at the counter. Gus was preparing breakfast.
“What’s the rush, feeling bored already?”
“Not really but I don’t want to take advantage of your dad’s good nature,” Ray replied with a smirk.
“I didn’t realize Brian Kinney had a good nature,” Gus nonchalantly retorted.
“He does, if you look hard enough,” Ray countered. The boys cracked themselves up.
“Eat before breakfast gets cold,” Gus demanded as he put a loaded plate in front of Ray.
“I think you hung out way too much with Debbie and Claire when you were a little kid,” Ray commented. Gus ignored the comment. “Besides, I miss working,” Ray commented as he dug into his breakfast.
“I spoke to my dad earlier this morning; basically, we can go into the office whenever we want,” Gus revealed. “He knows that we work well on our own, in or out of the office.”
“Okaaay,” Ray drawled, giving Gus a look making him sigh. Ray wanted specifics.
“We officially go into Kinnetik next Monday. Pop said he’s having Ted update one of the offices upstairs so we can share it and it’s close to the artists,” Gus further explained.
“Now yer talkin’.” Ray gleefully rubbed his hands together. “I like the idea of sharing a space. We’ve always worked well together even though we really do totally different jobs. Somehow we make it work.”
“That’s because we respect each other’s strengths,” Gus supplied.
“Could be. Whatever our formula, I don’t want to change it now that we’re making Kinnetik our new home base. One of the reasons why we worked remotely in New York was that N’rgy is so small, only my dad and Stacey work in the office on a daily basis.”
“Yeah, everyone else works remotely,” Gus mused. He then got a faraway look in his eyes.
“What is it?” Ray gently asked. “You look worried.”
“I guess I just realized how much time we spend together. Most couples would explode being joined at the hip like we are.”
“My dads have always worked closely together and they love it,” Ray stated. “And look at your dad and Justin. They say they’re not joined at the hip but if they could spend every minute of every day together, they’d do it,” Ray pointed out.
“True,” Gus agreed.
“We’ll be fine,” Ray assured Gus as he went around the counter to give Gus a hug. “Besides, this apartment is so huge, you can get lost in here. Not to mention all the nooks and crannies at Kinnetik. I’ll have to use the PA system to find you,” Ray said as he looked up at his tall boyfriend. Just like the other Kinney men, Gus stood out in a crowd.
“Uh huh,” Gus said with a smirk as he gave Ray a squeeze.
The boys finished their breakfast in companionable silence, cleaned up the kitchen then relaxed in the alcove with their coffee.
“Do you think we should remodel?” Gus asked out of the blue.
“Now?” Ray teased.
“Not this minute,” Gus snarked as he grabbed Ray’s wrist pretending to check the time. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I still feel my dad’s presence in this place. Justin never made any real changes, none that I can remember. I was just wondering how you feel about it.”
Ray thought for a moment before answering.
“First off, it’s a little late for buyer’s regret. I don’t relish packing up all our shit and driving another whole day back to New York.
“Secondly, even though we’ve only been here a few days, I really like it. The building is safe and very quiet. Large timpani drums notwithstanding. And I’m looking forward to working at Kinnetik. N’rgy was fine to cut our teeth on but it all started here. There’s a lot more to learn before you take over the dynasty,” Ray said giving Gus a poignant look.
“Last but not least, it’s time. Yes, we’re young and yes, we’ve had a lot of great advantages to help us get this far, so let’s put them all to good use. Your dad made Kinnetik and all its branches so great because he knew when to rely on good people. Well, we’re a couple of those good people.”
“Okaay,” said Gus.
Ray shook his head. “Am I sounding like a lawyer?”
“Yep, but that may have something to do with you being a lawyer. So what about making changes around here?”
“You’re right in thinking this loft reflects a lot of your dad’s good taste. He knows quality when he sees it. Plus he’s prepared to pay for and to take good care of it. I don’t see the need to change any of the furniture at this time. However, I think I’d like the bedroom area to have real walls instead of the slats and add either a separate entrance to the bathroom for guests or install a half bath somewhere,” Ray said as he looked around. “I’m not fond of guests walking through our room when someone has to go. I feel obligated to make the bed even on days like this.”
“Yeah, I get it. My dad’s a neat freak; you, however, have some nasty habits regarding your socks.” Gus held his nose as he teased.
Ray glanced down at his sock clad feet. “What’s wrong with my socks?”
“They can probably walk by themselves,” Gus replied.
And the verbal war was on. Each partner pointing out supposed faults of the other that made living together horrendous. After laughing themselves silly, the guys hugged which led to a sloppy makeout session, which then led to the inevitable. When they came up for air, their conversation continued.
“Come on,” Gus said as he extended out his hand to Ray.
“Where’re we going?” Ray was half naked and very comfortable where he was.
“Taking a tour of the loft,” Gus said in a similar state of non-dress.
“Now? Can’t I enjoy the afterglow?”
“We have all day to enjoy the afterglow. If we make some decisions today I can call my dad and Uncle John. I’d like to renovate before we get too comfortable.”
“Okay, that makes sense,” Ray agreed. “But can we shower first?”
Gus smiled, he thought that was a fabulous idea.
Showered, clothed and definitely less stinky, the boys carefully walked around the loft, closely examining each area. Gus had found a copy of Brian’s old floor plans so that the boys could take notes.
“So what do you think?” Gus asked as they stared at the plans then looked up at the bedroom.
“Install real doors at each threshold,” Ray stated.
“Real doors, check,” Gus said as he made notes.
“Get rid of the front set of slats and make that into a real wall. But I like the slats on the side. It lets in more light,” Ray observed. “And we can shut them whenever we want.”
“Front slats gone; keep the side slats; check. What else?”
“Well, we sort of have two living room spaces and the huge open space. I think I’d like to keep them as they are. I like the open feeling. The living room spaces are close to the windows so we get really nice natural light. That’s great for you when you’re in artist mode.”
“Yeah.” Gus smiled lovingly at Ray. “I think we should reconfigure the office area to accommodate the two of us.”
“Agreed. That leaves the kitchen, dining area, and the space next to the kitchen.”
“The kitchen is very convenient, I really don’t want to make any changes and I can’t really see us moving the dining table. Maybe later getting a larger table if we plan on doing some heavy duty entertaining but this space next to the kitchen...” Gus mused as he walked over to the space.
“Are you thinking this may be a good space for a guest bathroom?” Ray asked.
“Yeah. What do you think?”
“I think you may be onto something,” Ray said as he examined the area more closely. “We can have John confirm it, but since the kitchen is so close, the plumbing might be easy to extend. I think there’s enough room for a small shower too,” Ray suggested.
“I like where your head is at,” Gus agreed. “How do you know all this stuff?”
“Son of a realtor, remember? I learned a lot tagging along when my dad was showing houses and apartments. So are we done with our renovating plans?”
“Good. Now, can we continue our lazy day as you originally planned?” Ray recommended.
“Great idea. And I think we should start by going back to bed,” Gus said as he turned to go back to said bed.
“After you make your phone calls,” Ray reminded him. Complying, Gus pulled out his phone.
“Hey, Pop, I have a question for you, and is Uncle John around…?”
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