On The Move
JR stared at her partner, holding her breath. “I … I don’t know what to say,” she managed to get out.
“You could say that you want the same thing,” Jacqueline stated. When she didn’t hear an immediate response, she added, “Or maybe you don’t want to get married and live in a house with me.”
“No, no, that’s not what I mean,” JR stammered.
“Now you sound like me, all denial.”
“This just … it just took me completely by surprise.”
“Are you telling me you never thought about us making a more permanent commitment to each other?” Jacqueline said with a deep frown.
“No, of course I’ve thought about it, but you never gave me any sign that you were thinking about it.”
“Well, I have thought about it, especially recently.”
“And I’ve been thinking that you wanted to get rid of me,” JR said sadly.
“I’d never want to get rid of you, Babe,” Jacqueline said sincerely.
“Is that really true?”
“Do you think I’m lying to you?”
“I … I’m so confused. I don’t know what to think.” JR shook her head and stared at the floor.
Jacqueline moved closer to JR on the sofa. She was half afraid JR might tell her to get away, but JR said nothing. She just continued to stare at the floor.
“Can you please say something?” Jacqueline pleaded. “Talk to me.”
“This is like the reverse of what we were doing a few hours ago. You were silent and I was begging you to tell me what you were thinking.”
“And now I’m asking you to talk,” Jacqueline said cautiously.
Jacqueline could feel the first spurts of fear coursing through her body and brain. She waited for JR to say something else. When no words were forthcoming, Jacqueline began to realize that maybe she had made a big mistake. Obviously JR wasn’t ready for this.
“I … I’m sorry if I sprung this on you too quickly,” Jacqueline began. “I thought maybe you had figured out why I was hesitant about the house, but you totally were thinking in an opposite direction.”
“That’s right, and I need some time to get my head around all this.”
“Take as much time as you need … just don’t leave, please.” Jacqueline begged.
“Okay,” JR agreed.
“I need another glass of wine,” Jacqueline said. “How about you?”
“Sure,” JR said distractedly. Her thoughts were clearly on something other than wine.
Jacqueline got up and went to the kitchen with the wine glasses. She could see JR as she poured the wine. JR was staring straight ahead and not moving. Jacqueline said a quiet prayer to the powers that be that she had not ruined everything. She put the wine bottle back in the fridge and stood at the counter staring at her lover. She thought maybe staying where she was might be the best thing she could do at the moment. She took a sip of her wine and waited.
“Would you stop staring at me and bring that wine,” JR commanded a minute or two later.
‘At least she’s talking again,’ Jacqueline thought as she carried the wine back to the living room. She handed JR a glass and sat down beside her on the sofa. She decided that JR had to take the initiative from here on out. Jacqueline would be silent until JR wanted her to talk.
What seemed like an eternity passed before JR finally spoke.
“Could we make an agreement?” JR asked with a serious look on her face.
“Yes,” Jacqueline said nodding her head. “An agreement about what?”
“Don’t you usually ask what the agreement is about before you agree to it?” JR asked with a slight smile on her face.
“At the moment I’d agree to anything as long as it keeps you here, especially with that little smile on your face.”
JR’s smile grew bigger. “You are such a sweet talker,” she said. “That must be why I’m still here.”
“Just one of my many talents,” Jacqueline replied, blowing on her fingernails and then polishing them on the front of her shirt.
JR actually chuckled at that. “Why can’t I stay mad at you?”
“Because you love me?” Jacqueline asked hopefully.
“Just maybe? I was hoping for an undying declaration of devotion.”
“You’re incorrigible,” JR said taking a sip of her wine and staring into Jacqueline’s eye.
“Been called that many times, so it must be true.”
“It absolutely is, and that’s one of the things I lov … like about you.”
“You like me to be incorrigible?”
“Let’s say that I see it as tenacity and knowing what you want,” JR explained. “I guess that’s part of why I got upset. I knew something was bothering you and you wouldn’t talk to me like you usually do … like you’re doing right now.”
“I really am sorry, but this situation is pretty unique for me.”
“Unique?” JR asked.
“Usually I know what I want and I know how to get it. But when we started looking for a house, I just couldn’t get it straight in my head what I really wanted. I like, liked, my life the way it was, and I wasn’t sure I could change. I was … scared and worried about making a big mistake.”
“You thought of us living in our house together as a ‘big mistake’?” JR asked in horror.
“No, I’m not explaining this very well. I told you before that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been since we’ve been together. What I was afraid of was how buying this house might change everything between us. You know how strained things have been lately.” JR nodded in agreement. “I guess I thought maybe that was how things would be if we bought a house. It might ruin everything.”
“I kind of understand what you’re saying, but why couldn’t you just talk to me about all this instead of going quiet and refusing to explain what was going on?”
“I’ve never had to explain things to anybody before. I always did exactly what I wanted to do.”
“And now you have to take me into account.”
Jacqueline nodded slowly. “I have you to consult and worry about, and that scared me. I’m not used to doing that. This relationship thing is all pretty new to me.”
“You just need some practice,” JR said with a smile. “You’re actually doing quite well at the moment.”
“Yes, and I’m so glad we’re getting everything out in the open. It would have been so much easier if we had done this right from the moment you started having doubts.”
“Yeah,” Jacqueline agreed. “I see that now. But I had to sort myself out first.”
“And Uncle Brian helped you do that?”
“I hate to admit it, but he absolutely did. You’re what I want … in this loft or in our house, married or not. So what’s it going to be?” Jacqueline asked.
JR looked pensive for a moment. She started to say something, and then hesitated.
“What is it? What’s wrong? You don’t want to marry me?” Jacqueline asked feeling her stomach turn over in fear. JR shook her head. “You can’t decide? You don’t want to commit to me?” Jacqueline guessed.
JR burst out laughing.
“What?” Jacqueline asked. “What’s funny about this?”
“I wanted you to talk; now you won’t shut up.”
“I give up,” Jacqueline said shaking her head. “Whatever I do is wrong.”
“You’re not doing anything wrong,” JR corrected. “I’m just giving you a hard time.”
“Like I gave you the last few weeks?”
“Okay, I’m finished,” Jacqueline said contritely. “Just tell me what you’ve decided.”
“First, I want you to agree that we will not clam up when things get tense. We’re going to discuss whatever’s going on and get it all out in the open. Then we can deal with it.”
“I told you I agreed to anything you want.”
“I really mean it, about communicating. I want your word that you will talk to me about whatever’s bothering you … from now on.”
“I swear,” Jacqueline said solemnly holding her hand over her heart.
“Good, then I want to make a life with you in our own house … forever.”
“And the marriage part?”
“I want that too.”
“Yay!” Jacqueline crowed. “You just made me the happiest person on the planet.”
“That was pretty easy all things considered,” JR laughed.
“Easy? Are you fucking with me?” Jacqueline demanded.
“Yes I am,” JR laughed.
“Now who’s incorrigible?”
“Takes one to know one,” JR retorted.
“I love you so much.”
“I love you too.”
“Let’s go to bed,” Jacqueline said setting her wine glass down. JR did the same, then grabbed Jacqueline’s hand. They kissed for a few moments before heading to the bedroom and the new life that was about to begin for them.
It was quite early Monday morning when Brian Kinney strode into Kinnetik like he owned the place. There were a few brave souls in the office diligently working, enjoying their flexible schedules. However, for the most part, Brian had the place to himself. He started his coffeemaker, booted up his computer then began to review contracts.
“Cynthia,” Brian shouted at a reasonable time.
“You bellowed, O wise one,” Cynthia snarked as she casually strolled into Brian’s office.
“Are the boys here?” he asked ignoring the snark.
“Yes, upstairs in their new office. Gordon did a great job combining two of the smaller cubes and making sure there’s enough natural light for Gus,” she said proudly. “You do know they don’t want a fuss.”
“I’m aware,” Brian retorted. Inwardly, he was bursting at the seams, wanting to shout out that his Sonny Boy was following in his footsteps. Brian Kinney had gotten something right.
“Brian, you did good. You and Justin have raised wonderful children,” Cynthia gently told him. She knew her boss, partner, and friend so well. “It’s okay for you to be proud of him and proud of yourself,” she said as she quietly left Brian’s office, allowing him time to get himself back under control.
After a while, “Schmidt!” came a familiar bellow. Ted practically slid into Brian’s office.
“Have a seat.” Brian indicated a chair in front of his desk. Brian stood up from his chair to sit on the edge of his desk. Teddy was beginning to sweat. “How long have we known each other?”
“Theodore, you’re an accountant. You should be able to work out a simple question like that in seconds.”
“Well, um. Too long!” Ted sputtered, awaiting his fate. Brian glared for a second then burst out laughing.
“Yeah, you’re right, we do have a long history. Let me ask you something and I want an honest answer.” Ted sat up straight. “Have I taken advantage of our friendship?”
Ted was perplexed. He didn’t quite understand what Brian was asking. Recognizing the confusion on his friend’s face, Brian attempted to clarify.
“Years ago I pulled you into Kinnetik to get my ass out of a bind. You made magic that day and continue to make magic everyday. You manage the apartment building, you oversee Babylon, and somehow you run your own accounting firm.” Ted was about to interrupt to state that he had plenty of help but Brian stopped him.
“I know you have Alfred…”
“Albert,” Ted corrected.
“Albert, to run the accounting firm. But the point is, is it all too much? You go above and beyond every day and never complain.” Brian then shut up.
“If you’re asking me if I want to quit, my answer is no. You pulled my ass out of the fire, gave me a chance to prove myself and have trusted me with your assets ever since, no pun intended,” Ted smirked. Brian arched a brow but was clearly amused.
“I have never been so challenged in all my life. But there are times when prioritizing is more of a challenge than I care to admit,” Ted explained, carefully choosing his words.
Brian nodded. He stood from the desk, refilled his coffee mug and brought a coffee to Ted.
“Would it help if I shifted the building and eventually Babylon to Raymond?”
“Gus’s Raymond?” Brian nodded. “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.” Ted sat back in his chair. He took a good long sip of Brian’s excellent blend of coffee, trying to figure out where this conversation was going.
“Have I insulted you?”
“Insulted me?” Ted asked incredulously. “Not in the least. As a matter of fact, when I knew Gus and Ray were serious about moving here, I was going to ask you about the building. Ray’s a good kid and he’s smart. I’ve had a lot of time to interact with him; he knows what he’s doing, Brian. I think it’s a great idea for him to manage the building and when he’s ready, he can be the watchdog for Babylon too.”
“Brian, the apartment building and Babylon will be in great hands. And it’s not like I’m retiring and moving to Alaska. He can come to me at any time,” Ted assured his friend. “And it will free me up to concentrate on Kinnetik business.”
“You’re sure,” Brian asked again as he sat behind his desk.
“Yes, I am. And I will be at Ray’s disposal whenever he needs me,” Ted assured his friend.
“I’m sure you will.” Ted heard the dismissal in Brian’s tone and stood up to leave.
“Um, permission to a, um…”
Brian waved his hand in the general direction of the door.
“Should I send the boys down?”
“No, I’ll go up there a little later. I want them to settle in without me meddling.”
“Okay.” With that, Ted left Brian’s office.
“Gordo!” John called out as his best friend and business partner walked into the loft. While John drafted out the plans for the renovation, Gordon and a select group of carpenters would be doing the work.
“Morning, Johnny Boy. So this is the loft I’ve heard so much about. Even in the Village, the rumors are spreading about a new stud in town.”
“You’re kidding!” John was slightly taken aback. He thought all that stud talk had long since died out.
“Nope. Had lunch with Danny last week. Gus has been seen around town. And you know he’s the spittin’ image of his dad. They think Brian’s taken up with a younger model.”
“Younger model?” John wasn’t fully comprehending what Gordon was hinting at.
“Yep. That he left Justin for a fine young thing.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I mean Ray.”
“Well, shit!” John exclaimed.
“I know, I know. Sheer nonsense but the gay grapevine has had nothing to buzz about since Ben and Michael got back together, so now it’s Gus and Ray.”
“Should I speak to Brian about it?”
“Nah, leave it be. But you may want to drop a hint to Gus to ditch the sunglasses every once in a while so the locals can see that it’s Gus and not Brian.”
“Now what’s this I hear about you buying up every vacant lot in town and building a cottage on it?” Gordon asked with an all knowing grin on his face.
They had a good laugh before John explained Brian’s scheme.
“That’s not a bad plan. There’s several more lots in the Village that need homes. If you’re planning to be spending time in the city, take one of the boys with you to help you measure. We can put our heads together and plot out what type of building will work on each lot. Then you and your brother can go give city hall a good shake. Make a few deals for the land. By that time the weather will be ready for building,” Gordon said laying it all out for John.
“I knew there was a reason we’ve working together for all these years,” John commented.
“Hey, I’m not just a pretty face, you know. Besides, my Betsie has had enough of my face at her flower shop. She has informed me that it’s time for me to strap on the old tool belt and get out of her hair.”
“She who must be obeyed,” John solemnly pronounced. Gordon bowed his head in reverence. “She’s a wise woman, your Betsie.”
“That she is, Johnny Boy, that she is. So what are we doing here?” Gordon asked as they got down to the business at hand and their construction crew arrived.
“Morning boys!” Brian announced as he walked into the newly transformed office space that accommodated Gus and Ray. As promised, Brian didn’t make a fuss but he did order a fine selection of breakfast biscuits and muffins with all the trimmings from one premier party planner to celebrate the new arrivals.
“Morning, Pop,” Gus replied. He and Ray were already pouring over the Liberty Air contracts and several others that they had cultivated over the years.
“You settling in all right?” Brian asked as he looked around the office. Preferring to work from home, Brian seldom had the chance to visit the “artists’ gallery”. He observed a few knick knacks that the boys had brought with them to decorate their office.
“We’re good,” Ray replied.
“If you have a minute, I’d like a word with Ray,” Brian began.
“He knows,” Gus blurted out.
“Of course he does,” Brian stated. “If your partner can’t sense something going on with you then he’s not much of a partner,” Brian stated. “I had a chat with Ted. And he’s all for you taking over the management of the apartment building, and when you’re ready you can oversee Babylon as well. Anytime you have questions or concerns, we’re all here for you.”
“Thank you,” Ray said as he held out his hand to Brian. Brian gave it a good shake.
“Carry on, boys,” Brian said as he turned to go. Gus noted a suspicious gleam in Brian’s eyes.
“What are you up to, Pop?”
“Nothing much, just planning on doing a little shopping while I’m here,” Brian stated innocently.
“You already ordered the Armani summer collection,” Gus pointed out.
Brian smirked as he left the office. The boys shook their heads and got back to work.
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