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Thread: Brad's Search

  1. #251
    100% Purely Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Glad to read another chapter

    Good that Brad only went for dancing with that stranger...pretty much harmless fun..

  2. #252
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Part 53

    The time has come—or, at the very least, it’s on its way. I get to work early Monday morning to talk with Eric about the project and our upcoming meeting with our client on Wednesday. The whole thing has my heart almost pounding its way out of my chest. Though I put in a lot of extra work over the weekend to get this thing right, the perfectionist in me wants to make sure nothing, absolutely nothing, will go wrong.

    Eric and I also get a chance to talk about what’s happened with Paul and James. Things were so hectic last week that I never really got a chance to fill him in.

    Eric sighs heavily. “Gosh, I feel great that the kids were found, but damn, what a thing to go through for James and the kids!”

    “And they’re still going through it.”

    “True. And probably will be for a while. Do you know how things are going over there? Or when James will be back?”

    “I don’t really know much. He’s texted me here and there, but I imagine he’s had his hands full with the situation and getting to know Paul’s kids. He’s never even met them before. I have no idea when he plans to come back or even if Paul and the kids are going to come back with him.”

    Eric sighs again. “Wow. Well, if he’s still in Michigan when this weekend rolls around and you have nothing better to do, you should come over and meet Lorna and have her make dinner. And if James does come back, he’s invited, too.”

    “Oh, Eric, that’s so thoughtful of you.”

    “It’s the least I can do. I know James has been through a lot, and I know you’ve been stressed out by that and by work. I know it can’t be easy.”

    “Thanks, yes, it has been a bit hard at times.”

    “Plus, after working on this project with you, I’ve come to really enjoy getting to know you. You remind me a little of my younger days when I was a little more carefree.”

    “Oh?”

    “Yeah. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Lorna and our kids and I wouldn’t want to change a thing, but I see a person like you, successful in his career and moving up, with not so many other obligations. I was married and had my first kid pretty much right out of college, so I never really had time to enjoy my 20s.”

    “But there must have been things about your life that made it worth it, right?”

    Eric looks up at the ceiling and cracks a smile. “Yeah, you’re right. I guess it’s easier for us to be envious of the things others have and forget that there are good things in our lives, too, right?”

    His assessment seems spot-on to me. “Sure.”

    “Anyway, you up for coming over this weekend?”

    “Yeah, that sounds like so much fun! I don’t think I have anything else going on.”

    “Well, that’s great to hear. I know Lorna’s excited to meet you.”

    “I’m looking forward to meeting her, as well.”

    “Good, good. Well, we’ve got just a couple days before our client meeting, so let’s make this thing shine!”

    “You got it!”

    And with that, I get up and mentally close myself off to the world while I check, double-check, triple-check, and quadruple-check everything in our new system to make sure everything works for Wednesday.”

    * * * * *

    By the time I wrap up at work, it’s pitch black outside. I drive home and get ready for another solo night. It’s been almost a full week without having James by my side. Hell, it’s been almost a full week since I’ve really heard from him. When I get home, I give him a call.

    He picks up. “Hey Brad! Hold on a sec, let me get somewhere quiet.”

    “OK.” Sure enough, it’s pretty noisy wherever he is.

    “Sorry about that. How’ve you been?”

    “I’m good! How are things over there?”

    “They’re great! I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch; things have been fucking chaotic over here.”

    “I can imagine.”

    “Yeah, but things are good! We got to the police station on Wednesday and Paul’s kids ran right up to him and gave him big hugs. They gave me really big hugs, too, which was a big relief. I didn’t even know what to expect, but they’re as nice as can be.”

    “That’s awesome to hear! How old are they?”

    “Sammy is eight, and Rachel is five.”

    “Wow, they’re pretty young!”

    “Yeah. I mean I knew how young they were before I met them, but it doesn’t really hit you until you meet them.”

    “I guess.”

    “Uh huh. Well, Sammy is really into science and math at school, and Rachel would be beginning first grade next school year.”

    “Gosh, I can’t even remember when I was getting into first grade.”

    “Yeah, me neither. Anyway, they’re awesome kids. And they’ve been calling me ‘Uncle Jim’ all the time. No one’s ever called me that before. It gives me such a warm, fuzzy feeling.”

    I chuckle. “That sounds so great to hear! Well, what are your guys’ plans?”

    James sighs. “I really don’t know. We’ve just been focusing on his kids the past few days and making sure they’re OK. I’ve talked to him a couple times about where to go from here. I’m trying to convince him to move himself and the kids over to Seattle, but as you can imagine, he’d be practically uprooting everything. He’s just not sure it’s the right decision right now.”

    “Yeah, that’s understandable. Still, that would be awesome if he came here and brought the kids.”

    “I know. That’s why I’ve been trying to convince him so hard. I know I should be thinking about the kids first, and I am, but it would be so great for me and for Dad if he moved with the kids closer to home.”

    “I agree.”

    “Yeah. So, I really miss you! How have you been doing without me there?”

    “I’ve been doing all right, I guess.” I dare not mention what happened over the weekend when I went out and partied. “We’ve got our big meeting with the client on Wednesday.”

    “Oh yeah. Are you ready?”

    “I fucking hope so. Taking a step back, I know I’ve checked everything and tried to break this thing in every way I know possible, but this thing is solid as a rock.”

    “Well I’m not surprised, with a genius like you at the helm.”

    I feel myself starting to blush. “Oh, I don’t know.”

    “I’m serious, Brad. I see how hard you’ve been working on this thing. Even though I don’t have the slightest idea what the fuck you’re doing, I know you’re the best person for the job, and you’re dedicated as hell. Shit, I remember times you’d be up late at night working in the home office and I’d go to bed without you.”

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—“

    “No, I totally get it! Dad was the same way when Paul and I were kids. Some nights he wouldn’t even come home because he had to work late at the office. It was tough for us as kids, and it took a bit of a toll on my mom, but he wouldn’t be where he was today without that dedication.”

    “I guess that’s true.”

    “It certainly is. Don’t feel bad for wanting to be successful in your career. Hell, you have a drive like no one I’ve seen before. You’re doing just fine; try not to worry about it so much.”

    “OK, I’ll try not to. It’s hard, but I’ll try not to.”

    “Good. You keep trying. Well, I better get going here. It’s getting late, plus I’m two hours ahead of you, so it’s extra late.”

    “Oh yeah, that’s right. OK, I’ll let you know. I really miss you.”

    “I miss you too, Brad. I’ll come home soon, I promise.”

    “You better! OK, sweet dreams.”

    “I’ll only be dreaming of you, babe.”

    I feel myself blushing again. “Good night. I love you.”

    “I love you, too. Good night.”

    We hang up. I hop in the shower to wash all the stress from the day away. The hot water feels really good splashing against my naked body. After my shower, I crawl into bed and drift off to sleep.
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  3. #253
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    Re: Brad's Search

    AWESOME to see YOU posting this again/some more!
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

  4. #254
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    I have to agree with Chaz, Brad and James have been missed, but all is well, they're back. Now, with Brad and his project and James with his nephew and niece, they are both busy making a go at life. It will be good when they are together again and back into the warmth of a family unit. Glad to see you posting again, AG.

    Craiger

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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanimal View Post
    AWESOME to see YOU posting this again/some more!
    Thanks, Chaz! It's been way too long! I had actually written this last part (and some of the next ones I have yet to post) a while back but too many things in life got in the way of getting them onto here. The good news is I've gotten back into writing and I still have LOTS of ideas for this story, so there will be much more to come!

    Quote Originally Posted by Craiger View Post
    I have to agree with Chaz, Brad and James have been missed, but all is well, they're back. Now, with Brad and his project and James with his nephew and niece, they are both busy making a go at life. It will be good when they are together again and back into the warmth of a family unit. Glad to see you posting again, AG.

    Craiger
    Thanks, Craiger! It's good to be back. I've missed connecting with others via the story thread and other places on JUB, so I'm hoping to reconnect with everyone here. Yes, James and Brad are getting very involved in their own lives; they don't seem to have much time for one another right now, but hopefully that changes soon.

    To all my readers: I know lots of you in the past who have commented were really enjoying reading each part as it has come out. I'm really sorry I fell off the radar and stopped posting for a while. Life sometimes sucks all the fun and creativity out of itself, which makes writing this story, as exciting as it is, hard to do from time to time. However, I definitely want to keep this story moving forward and I've kind of figured out what direction I want to keep it going. Thanks for being the awesome fans that you are, and I hope you stick around and keep enjoying the story. Cheers!
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  6. #256
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Part 54

    I wake up Wednesday morning feeling like death. Today is the day of our big client meeting, and, like a true workaholic, I had kept myself up way too late checking to make sure everything would run smoothly for our demo. I force myself out of bed and take a quick shower, and rush to head out of the door. There are a few more things I need to check for the project, and I need to head out early if I’m going to get any coffee.

    Eric wants the two of us to wear nice suits for our client meeting. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t care if I were in blue jeans, but it’s business, and I understand him wanting us to look sharp. Luckily, I was able to talk Charles into letting me borrow the same suit I wore to Patrick and Damon’s wedding. I really need to get one of my own, considering I’ve needed a suit twice in just this month alone.

    Problem is, I haven’t had the time, nor the patience, to learn how to tie a tie.

    I grab my usual Starbucks and get to the office. Eric and I have time for a quick meeting before the other developers arrive. We go over how the meeting with the client is supposed to go.

    Our client flew into town the night before and will be getting to our office in the afternoon. That leaves time for the development team to take care of any last minute concerns and to get everything ready for the meeting.

    Can’t you tell I’m going a little insane right about now?

    We meet quickly with the development team. To my huge relief, they bring very few concerns to the table, and what they do bring, we’re able to quickly handle. As confident as I am that the meeting with our client will go well, I can’t help but feel that something, the littlest thing, will go wrong.

    * * * * *

    My company built a room. It’s what they call a ‘relaxation room’. They tried soundproofing it as best they could, and have white noise machines and fragrance emitter machines and mini fountains and all sorts of things to help people relax, I guess. Anyway, for about an hour I closed myself in that room and tried relaxing as much as I could, but I swear it stressed me out more the more I tried to relax. So much for that.

    My phone’s alarm starts going off. It’s time for me to change into my suit and get ready for the meeting. I step out of the relaxation room and head to my office to change into my suit. I close the door to give myself some privacy, then strip down to my socks and underwear and pull on my dress shirt and slacks.

    Oh hell, the tie. At one point, I swear I could make it through life without ever having to wear or even learning how to tie a tie. But here I am, twice in a month, needing to wear one. As much as I hate wearing them, and as uncomfortable as I feel in a suit and feel that they should all be burned to a crisp, I’m finding myself needing to conform and wear the damned thing.

    I see the clock ticking closer and closer to our meeting time and I’m getting super frustrated trying to tie this god-forsaken piece of fabric. It finally dawns on me—Why the fuck not look up a damn video to learn how to tie a tie? I do a quick search on my computer, pull up the first video I find, and before I can even start watching, I hear a knock on the door.

    The door cracks open. It’s Eric. “Oh, Brad, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were in the middle of dressing.”

    “It’s all right, Eric. You can come in. Do you know how to tie a tie?”

    Eric scoffs. “Uh, yeah, of course! You don’t?”

    I look sheepishly at him, but don’t respond.

    He comes closer and motions with his hand. “Turn around.”

    He takes the tie and drapes it around my neck. I crane my neck down to try to see what he’s doing, but he places his thumb under my chin and gently tilts my head back up. “It’s easier if you keep your head straight.” He grabs both ends and, almost like magic, goes to work flipping one half on top of the other and twisting them like a very elegant pretzel. As he goes through his intricate process, I can feel his body getting closer and closer until there’s no space between us. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that he’s tying a tie around someone else’s neck, but I try as hard as I can not to focus on the fact that he's practically knocking on my back door. I don’t want to have to fight off a boner this close to the meeting.

    He puts his hand on my shoulder and turns me around, then grabs the knot with one hand and pulls and adjusts with the other until everything is just right. He looks me up and down. “There. That’s what I call a project manager ready for his first big client meeting.”

    “I’m surprised you didn’t need a mirror to do all that.”

    “It’s like tying your shoes. After you do it enough times, you don’t have to watch your hands and fingers do all the work. They just know right where to go.”

    I take a few quick breaths.

    Eric puts his hand on my upper arm. “You all right?”

    “I think so. I’m just jittery because of the meeting.”

    “Don’t be; you’ll do just fine. Come on, let’s go to the conference room and get everything ready.”

    I lied. I was jittery because of how good his body felt pressed against mine.

    Snap out of it, Brad.

    We make our way to the conference room. I begin connecting a laptop to the projector while Eric places packets of information about the project in front of each chair around the table. Once I have the laptop hooked up, I open the demo program I’ve been working on during the past few months as well as a presentation. Everything seems ready to go.

    “All right, Brad, the client should be getting to the lobby downstairs at any minute. Let’s go down to meet them.”

    With that, we take the elevator down to the lobby, and sure enough, three representatives from the casino—two women and one man—greet us. We all introduce ourselves—their names are Diane, Linda, and Phil—and head upstairs to the conference room.

    * * * * *

    After what seemed like a few hours, the meeting is finally wrapping up. Eric had done most of the talking, but I had spoken up as I was navigating through the demo and when any technical questions had arisen.

    Diane, who seems to be the leader of the group, chimes in. “Everything you showed us today was fantastic. We are really excited about getting this on board.”

    Eric responds, “We’re so happy to hear that! We are delighted that you’ve chosen us to work on this project for you, and we’ve certainly put all our best talent and effort into it. I'm glad to hear you’re pleased with what we’ve done so far. I’ve taken note of the tweaks and adjustments you’d like, and we will be sure to get those implemented. That said, what would be your ideal timeframe for launching this project for your property?”

    “Ideally, we’d love to launch it by this time next month, but realistically?” She turns to the other woman on her right. “Linda, how long do you think it would take to train everyone on this?”

    “Oh gosh, Diane, I don’t know all the ins and outs of this system well enough to say how long it would take to train everyone. I’m sure we could do it ourselves, but it would be great if we could have Eric on hand to handle any issues and hard questions that come up.”

    “That’s a great idea.” Diane looks at Eric. “Would you be able to come out to Vegas to help train our team, Eric? We can cover the roundtrip airfare”

    I glance at Eric. Even though our company has never worked on a project of this size, much less taken a trip to a different state to train a client on it, I could tell he already had an answer prepared. “Yes, we can certainly accommodate that, as long as Brad also gets to come along. He has a strong programming background and knows every single piece of this project very intimately. Just like you’d like me to be there to help with the issues and hard questions, I want Brad to be there when there’s a point where I cannot answer them.”

    Diane looks at Phil, the third member of their group. Phil just nods. Diane looks back at us. “That works for us.”

    Eric smiles. “Great! I estimate that it should take us the rest of this week and next to work in all the tweaks and adjustments you’ve given us and to get all the final branding in so that everything is ready to go. That would leave about a week or two for training if we were to go with your month timeframe. How do you feel about that being a sufficient amount of time before we launch?”

    The room is silent for a few moments. Diane looks at Linda and they whisper back and forth for a few seconds before Diane looks back at Phil. Phil just nods. Phil’s good at nodding. Diane looks back at us. “I think we should be able to get everyone trained in that amount of time. That shouldn’t be a problem.”

    Wow. It didn’t seem all that long ago that we started work on this project, and now it’s almost done. This project was so large, I didn’t think we’d ever get finished with it.

    Eric chimes in. “Well, I know Brad and I are delighted to hear that you’re pleased with everything so far. We will begin working on the finishing touches and will be getting in contact with you to schedule the training. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, Brad and I are here for you and we’ll take care of everything. If there’s nothing further, we can show you to the lobby; I’m sure you three are ready for a little R & R after our long meeting.”

    Diane nods. “Yes, it has been a long meeting, but we’re so happy with everything your team has done.”

    With that, the five of us rise up from the conference room table and head down to the lobby in the elevator. We make small chit-chat on the way down—well, all of us except for Phil. He hasn’t uttered a word this whole time.

    Once we all reach the lobby, we see the three of them on their way.

    Eric turns to me. “Ever been to Vegas, Brad?”

    “I’ve been a couple times with my parents when I was growing up, but never as an adult. What about you?”

    “I have. That’s actually where Lorna and I got hitched.”

    “You’re kidding!”

    “Nope. The two of us went down during a college break. We had been talking about getting married for a while. When we got down there, we saw one of those drive-through wedding places, and thought to ourselves, ‘What the hell?’”

    I chuckle. “What did your parents think?”

    “Well, by that point, Lorna and I were living together and were already practically married, so the piece of paper didn’t matter so much. We did throw a special reception with friends and family after we got back, though.”

    “Wow. I don’t know if my mom would forgive me if I ever did that.”

    “Then I’ve got one piece of advice: don’t.”

    I chuckle again. “Good advice.”

    “In any case, the two of us will have a great time while we’re there. It definitely won’t be all work and no play.”

    Eric and I both go back upstairs, gather our things, and head to our respective homes. We had been in that meeting so long that rush hour was already over. Hard to believe, I know.

    At least this project is nearing the end. The tweaks they’re asking for are very minor, and I know, or at least really hope, that they won’t break anything. I’m excited about it being almost finally behind me, and what a way to send it off by a trip to Vegas on the company’s dime!

    The day’s been so long that I don’t waste any time crawling into bed and passing the fuck out.
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  7. #257
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    With all my psychic powers, I see a bump in the road. I think James has been gone too long and needs to fly back to the nest quickly. Las Vegas has extremely heavy persuading powers that can place sound relationships in peril. The crystal ball is fading now into a rather gloomy fog. I can't foretell any more.......

    Swami Craiger

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    Re: Brad's Search

    ^ The SEER has spoken!

    Can't wait to hear if what's been foretold might unfold, and how!
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

  9. #259
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    Re: Brad's Search

    2 more chapters this month, glad to see this story continued

    Its been months since I've even looked at anything in the stories section here on JUB...

  10. #260
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by Craiger View Post
    With all my psychic powers, I see a bump in the road. I think James has been gone too long and needs to fly back to the nest quickly. Las Vegas has extremely heavy persuading powers that can place sound relationships in peril. The crystal ball is fading now into a rather gloomy fog. I can't foretell any more.......

    Swami Craiger
    What's the saying? What happens in Vegas...

    The two are going to Vegas for work, and Eric's married with kids. Sure, they'll have a few days off, but what could go wrong?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanimal View Post
    ^ The SEER has spoken!

    Can't wait to hear if what's been foretold might unfold, and how!
    Won't be long! They've only got a week until they fly out, then the fun begins.

    Quote Originally Posted by 72-Jay View Post
    2 more chapters this month, glad to see this story continued

    Its been months since I've even looked at anything in the stories section here on JUB...
    Great to hear from you again, 72-Jay! I spent a while away from the stories forum, and from JUB in general, but I'm glad to be back. Hope things are going well for you in Colorado, and hope you're enjoying reading the story again! I'm enjoying writing it again!
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

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    Re: Brad's Search

    All right, get ready for a long one - a long part, that is. Enjoy!

    Part 55

    I meet up with Gary and Harry after work Friday. I catch them up on what’s been going on at work and with James and Paul in Michigan.

    Harry gasps. “Wow, a trip to Vegas? I’m jealous.”

    “I’ll be working just about the whole time, but hopefully I won’t be so worn out that I can’t gamble a few dollars away.”

    Gary turns to me. “Have you ever gambled before?”

    “No, I haven’t. I don’t think I’d even have the slightest idea what to do.”

    Harry chuckles. “Yeah, half the fun is learning how to play.”

    I raise my eyebrows. “And the other half?”

    “Winning.”

    There’s silence for a bit until Gary speaks up. “So, Harry has a new girlfriend.”

    I’m caught by surprise. “What?!”

    Harry whispers to Gary, “Shh, she’s not my girlfriend.”

    Gary retorts, “Yet…”

    I regain my composure. “Who’s this new girl?”

    Harry starts blushing and can’t even bring himself to speak, so Gary begins to fill me in. “Her name is Veronica. Harry went out on a date with her this past Sunday, and if I’m not mistaken, they’ve seen each other every day since.” He turns to Harry. “Isn’t that right?”

    Harry sighs. “Yeah.”

    I smile at Harry. “What’s wrong? That’s awesome that you found someone who likes spending so much time with you!”

    “I’ve just been on so many dates and nothing really works out. I’m hoping Veronica will be different.”

    I reach across the table and squeeze Harry’s shoulder. “We’ve gotta work on your confidence. Girls dig that.”

    Harry gives me a half-smile and nods in agreement.

    Gary looks at me. “You’re not the only one going on a trip, you know.”

    I cock an eyebrow. “Oh?”

    “Yep. I finally got the tickets for Gina and me for our Toronto trip.”

    I giggle with excitement. “Is this the trip when you’re planning to propose to her?”

    Gary takes a quick, but deep breath. “Yeah. I’m super nervous, but I think I’m finally ready to do this.”

    Harry turns to Gary. “Come on. You know she’ll say ‘yes’.”

    Gary nods. “Yeah, I know that. I’m not worried about her answer; I’m worried how I’m going to ask the question. I just want it to be the perfect moment, you know?”

    After a few seconds, I speak up. “I get that. Well, you’ll have to video the whole thing and send it to us as soon as it happens.”

    “I sure will!”

    We chat for a bit longer, then say our goodbyes.

    * * * * *

    I take it easy the rest of the night and wake up leisurely the next morning. I had taken up Eric’s offer to join him and Lorna for dinner. Since I have several hours to kill until then, I take care of some laundry and other cleaning that I’ve been desperately needing to get done. I have been so tired most nights staying up working that I went to bed without cleaning up the kitchen. James would probably kill me if he had come home and seen the mess.

    When I am about halfway done with the cleaning, I take a break and call Mom.

    “Baby boy! It’s been so long since I’ve heard from you!”

    “I know, I’m sorry, Mom. Things have been really crazy at work with this project.”

    “That’s OK, honey. How is your project going?”

    “We’re actually almost finished. We met with the client last week, and it went really well.”

    “Super! That’s good to hear.”

    “Yeah, and we’re just putting the finishing touches on it now. They want us to fly to Las Vegas to train their employees, and then we’ll be done!”

    “Oh, Brad, you’re such a hard worker and so dedicated. When all that’s done, you need to take some time off and come see me for a visit. Bring James, too!”

    “Well, that’s the thing. James is in Michigan right now with his brother. And I don’t really know when he’s coming back.”

    “Uh oh. You didn’t piss him off, now, did you?”

    I chuckle. “No, of course not. His brother, Paul, has a wife and two kids, but really hasn’t been getting along with his wife.”

    “You don’t say.”

    “He didn’t really get along with James, either. In fact, they hadn’t talked for quite some time, but he called one day and actually came out as gay to us.”

    I hear a long “Oh…” from the other end. “How did his wife take it?”

    “Well, to make a long story short, she took the kids and disappeared without a trace. Paul hired this private investigator to try to find them.”

    “Oh my word.”

    “Yeah. Paul flew up here to visit, and while he was here, his wife was finally caught trying to cross into Canada with them. As soon as they got the news, Paul flew back to Michigan to be with the kids, and James went with him.”

    I hear Mom sigh. “Well, at least Paul didn’t have to fly back by himself. I’m sure everything had him pretty distraught.”

    “For sure. Anyway, James has been pretty busy, understandably, being with Paul and helping him out with everything. I was able to talk to him last week, and it sounds like things are going OK at least.”

    “That’s good. It could always be worse.”

    Words of wisdom.

    “Anyway, Mom, as soon as I get back from Vegas and James gets back from Michigan, I’m sure we’ll find some time to come visit you. I know James really can’t wait to meet you.”

    “I can’t wait to meet him, either! I get giddy whenever I think of the two of you.”

    I chuckle. “Well, Mom, I need to take care of a few things around the house, so I should get going.”

    “All right, baby boy. Don’t wait so long before you call me again!”

    “I’ll try not to.”

    “I know you will. I love you, baby boy.”

    “I love you too, Mom. Take care.”

    “You too.”

    And with that, we hang up.

    * * * * *

    Eric lives out on Mercer Island, so it’s a bit of a drive to get to his house, but traffic shouldn’t be too bad on a Saturday. I had texted him earlier and asked if I could bring anything, and he just told me to bring myself. That’s something I should be able to handle. I hop in the car and start driving to his house.

    Just as I expected, the traffic is pretty light, and the sun has just begun to set. It has turned out to be a very pretty day. I get to the right exit off the freeway and make a few turns until I come up to his house. I park on the street, get out, and walk up to the front door.

    Before I can ring the doorbell, the front door opens, and I’m greeted by this gorgeous woman who I can only assume is Lorna.

    “Hello! You must be Brad.”

    “That would be me!”

    “I’m very pleased to meet you, Brad. My name is Lorna. Would you like some wine, dear?”

    She gestures a very full glass of wine towards me.

    “Yes, thank you!” I take the glass of wine that is offered to me.

    “No problem, dear! Come on in.”

    I step inside and take a sip of my wine as Lorna watches. “Oh my, that’s delicious!”

    “Thank you, dear. Eric is in the kitchen with the kids. It’s right this way.”

    I follow her to the kitchen where I see Eric playing a card game with his two kids. Whatever’s cooking also smells really nice. The three of them look up at me.

    Eric stands up and gives me a hug. “Hey, Brad! I’m glad you could make it. These are our kids, Eva, and Gavin.” He then lowers his voice. “Would you prefer the kids call you ‘Brad’ or ‘Mr Palovich’?”

    I shrug. “It doesn’t really matter. ‘Brad’ is fine.”

    He turns to the kids. “Eva, Gavin, this is Brad. He’s a guest, so remember to be polite and hospitable. If he asks you where something is, you help him out, OK?”

    “Yes, Daddy,” both of them say.

    I reach out to shake their hands. “It’s great to meet you both!” They timidly shake my hand. I remember Eric telling me Eva is fourteen years old, and Gavin is nine.

    I turn to Lorna. “What are you making? This smells delicious.”

    “Eric told me that you liked salmon.”

    I nod. “Yeah, I can’t get enough of the stuff.”

    “Well, you are going to absolutely love the way I make it. It goes great with the wine, too.”

    I smile. “Everything goes great with wine.”

    Lorna chuckles. “I like the way you think, Brad!”

    With that, Lorna and I clink our glasses together and take sips of our wine.

    Eric and the kids have gone back to their game. I walk over to check it out. “What’s this?”

    Eric rolls the dice “Kids, do you want to explain to Brad how it works?”

    Eva is the first to explain. “It looks really complicated, but it’s not. You basically start with a few cards, and we all take turns rolling the dice. Depending on the roll, we get money and can buy other cards.”

    Gavin continues the explanation. “We keep going around and around, and then whoever buys all of these four buildings first wins the game!”

    “Eva, you’re right, this does look complicated.” I take some more sips of wine as I watch play go around the table a few times, and eventually I begin catching on.

    Lorna speaks up. “Dinner will be ready in a few minutes, guys.”

    Eric interrupts his dice roll. “All right, kids, let’s set the table.”

    Eric and the kids get glasses and silverware and set the table while Lorna begins serving dinner portions on five plates, one for each of us. Eric goes to the fridge, grabs a dark beer, and pours it into a glass, which he brings to the table.

    I turn to him. “No wine for you?”

    “Nah, I was never a big fan of the stuff. I know this may sound weird, but I love a really dark, strong stout, even with fish. Maybe it’s the fact that it tastes like coffee and I drink so much of the damned stuff anyway.”

    Lorna finishes serving dinner on the five plates, and we each take one to the table and sit down. As we eat, I make small talk with the kids, asking them about their favorite subjects in school and what they like to do for fun. I hardly ever talk to kids as it is, and I’ll likely be meeting Paul’s soon, so I may as well get some practice.

    “This dinner is absolutely delicious, Lorna. Thank you so much for having me over and cooking.”

    Lorna places her hand on mine. “It’s my pleasure, dear. I’m so happy you could join us. Eric’s told me how stressful work has been for everyone lately, so if there’s anything I can do to help you unwind, you just let me know.” She gives my hand a squeeze.

    We keep eating and chatting until we all finish up. The kids help put the dishes in the dishwasher and run up to their rooms, undoubtedly to play on their smartphones or video game consoles or whatever it is kids do with their free time nowadays.

    Lorna pours herself and me some more wine, and Eric pops open another stout. We make our way to the living room and sit on a sectional sofa, Eric in the middle and Lorna and I on either side.

    “So, Brad, Eric tells me that you two might be flying to Las Vegas to visit your client. Are you excited?”

    “I am! It should be fun, but I’ve also never done anything like that for work before.”

    Eric chimes in. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous, myself. The client really loves the work we’ve done so far, and they’re very happy with us, which would make you think things are guaranteed to go smoothly. But, their expectations of us are probably already very high, so we will need to keep working hard to impress them and make sure nothing goes wrong while we’re there.”

    Lorna continues, “Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if word spreads, and you end up getting a lot more business from that area.”

    Eric takes a sip of his beer. “That’s what Rick is hoping for. He’s been trying for a while to get business to grow. He’s felt things have been stagnating lately, and this latest project has kind of breathed new life into him.”

    I look at Eric. “Wow, I didn’t know that at all about Rick.”

    Eric looks back at me. “Well, now that you’re a project manager, you’ll find out there’s more to it than just managing projects. Especially for a firm as small as ours. One thing I like about working at a company like Rick’s is that he doesn’t forget everyone who works for him is still a human being, complete with feelings. I think too many of the bigger companies lose sight of that.”

    I nod.

    Eric places his hand on my knee. “And this doesn’t leave this house, but after talking with him as this project has gone on, he’s really impressed with the work you’ve been doing, and if everything goes well in Vegas, don’t be surprised if you’re offered a permanent project manager position.”

    I take another sip of wine and make a very audible gulping sound when I swallow. If I was nervous before, I’m terrified now. Things in Vegas could probably determine whether I keep my job at all. I’ve really got to make sure everything goes right.

    Lorna notices my nervousness and breaks the silence. “OK, we don’t have to discuss work the rest of the night. Brad, Eric tells me you have a boyfriend?”

    I regain my composure. “Yes. His name is James.”

    “How long have you two been together?”

    I think quickly about it. “It’s been a little over a month.”

    Lorna looks surprised. “Wow, that’s recent. And things have been good so far?”

    I take another sip of my wine. “Yeah, so far, so good. It’s hard to believe; I’ve been in a lot of relationships, and none of them have even come close to how effortless being around James has been. It’s almost too good to be true.”

    Eric pats me on the shoulder. “Brad, James certainly sounds like a keeper. It’s really nice when you find someone and things just flow. It won’t be perfect all the time,” he says as he takes Lorna’s hand, gives it a squeeze, and looks at her, “but it’s definitely worth hanging on to someone like that when you find them.”

    Eric and Lorna look so much in love with each other. Though Eric has only talked about Lorna a few times here and there, I can’t think of even one negative thing he’s said about her. They seem meant for each other. I have spent most of my adult life expecting relationships would always be a ton of work—that’s certainly been most of my history with them, in any case. Just being in the presence of these two people has given me hope that I can have the same happiness they do, and that it will last a while.

    My attention is brought back to reality when Lorna stands up and reaches for my wine glass. “Looks like you’re empty, Brad. Can I get you a refill?”

    I hand her my glass. “Yes, thanks, that would be great.”

    She turns to Eric. “Another stout for you, dear?”

    “Yes, honey, thanks.”

    She heads to the kitchen and begins opening another bottle of wine.

    I turn to Eric. “You and Lorna seem so happy together.”

    He nods and chuckles. “Yeah, what can I say? I love her to death. I don’t really believe in the whole soulmates thing, but she and I just belong with each other, you know? It’s hard to explain, but when you feel in your heart that you’re with the right person, you just know.”

    “I think I understand. I just hope James is the real deal. I’ve gone through so many duds, and I’m kind of tired of trying.”

    “He certainly sounds like the real deal. I know it’s only been a month, which isn’t very long, but from everything you’ve said, he seems to me like a very understanding guy, and sounds like he has his life pretty sorted out. I really can’t wait to meet him. Perhaps once he gets back in town and settled in, we can arrange something.”

    “I’d like that. I have no idea when he’s coming back, though.”

    “How are things going in Michigan with his brother?”

    “I talked to him last week. They’re doing pretty good, but I’m sure they have their hands full with the kids now. James is trying to convince them to move to Seattle so that they’re at least close to him and Willie. He said his brother is a bit reluctant about the move, but I think it would be the right decision.”

    “How old are his kids?”

    “Eight and five, I think.”

    “Wow, that’s young. Yeah, at that age it might not be as bad to make a transition to a new place. I imagine a teenager would have a tougher time leaving their friends behind. But kids that young? I think they would have an easier time adjusting.”

    “Well, you have kids, too, so I think that would make you the expert?”

    “Expert?” Eric chuckles. “I don’t think I’d describe myself that way. Even though our oldest is fourteen, Lorna and I are still learning something new every day about them.”

    Lorna returns with another stout for Eric and a full glass of wine for me. We both thank her as she hands us our drinks.

    “What were you two talking about, dear?”

    “Our wonderful, beautiful children and how much joy they bring to our lives.”

    Lorna laughs very quietly under her breath. “Most of the time. Brad, if you ever have kids, make sure to keep plenty of this around.” She taps her wine glass with her fingernails, and then chuckles. “I’m just joking. They are a great bunch of kids. I could not ask for a more perfect pair.”

    Lorna and Eric look at each other and smile. Lorna then looks at me. “Would you like to try the game the kids were playing before dinner?”

    I nod my head in excitement. “Sure! It looks like a pretty fun game. I’m up for learning something new tonight.”

    We move to the dining room table. Eric and Lorna both shuffle the cards while Lorna begins explaining the rules to me. We roll a die to see who goes first, and it ends up being me. Great, the pressure’s on. They both do a great job helping me along and teaching me different bits of strategy. Play goes around the table several times, all while Lorna makes sure the three of us never have an empty glass.

    It’s almost midnight until we finally finish the game. Eventually, I roll and hit my lucky number, gaining enough coins to buy my last card and win. They both high-five me and congratulate me on winning the game. I play it off like it was nothing. “Beginner’s luck.”

    Eric chuckles. “Eh, I don’t know about luck. I could see the wheels turning in your head. You even taught Lorna and me a new strategy or two about the game. Don’t sell yourself short. You’re a pretty good player and a quick learner!”

    I help Eric and Lorna put the game away. “Thanks! I loved the game.”

    Lorna gets up to put the game on a shelf with a lot of other games. “Maybe when James gets back in town, he’d be interested in coming over and playing a game or two?”

    I nod in agreement. “Yeah, I think he’d really like that.”

    I begin to stand up, then quickly become aware of how much wine I had to drink tonight. I place my weight on the chair in front of me and slightly lean into it. Eric moves around the table and puts one hand on my torso and the other on my back to help stabilize me. “Whoa, you all right, Brad?”

    “I’m fine, it’s just the wine was good. Really good.”

    Lorna laughs quietly, but has a genuine look of concern on her face. “You certainly look in no condition to drive. We have a guest room, and you’re more than welcome to stay the night.”

    She was right; it was late, and I had drunk a lot. “As long as you and Eric don’t mind. I’d hate to impose.”

    She comes over to me and places her hand on my cheek. “It’s no imposition at all. We’d both rather you be safe here than get a DUI or, worse, into a wreck.”

    I nod. “Yeah.”

    “OK, dear. Eric, can you show him where the guest room is? I’ll get some extra blankets just in case.”

    “Sure, honey. Brad, it’s right this way.”

    Eric leads me to the guest room and flips on the light. It has a decently-sized bed; a couple could comfortably spend the night here. He shows me to the bathroom, and points to where the towels, shampoo, and soap are. “I know you probably don’t have a change of clothes for tomorrow, but just in case you want to shower before you leave, everything should be in here.” He rummages around one of the drawers. “Oh, and here’s a toothbrush and toothpaste.”

    Lorna comes into the room and places the blankets onto the bed. “If you need some extra warmth, these should do the trick.”

    “Thanks guys. I really appreciate it.”

    Eric smiles. “No problem. Is there anything else we can get you? Something to drink perhaps? We have water, tea—”

    I perk up. “Tea sounds great!”

    Lorna yawns. “Dear, would you mind getting that for Brad? I should turn in; I’m getting really tired.”

    “Of course, honey. You worked so hard making that delicious meal for all of us; you definitely deserve some downtime. I’ll make Brad’s tea and then come to bed.”

    I walk over to Lorna and give her a hug. “Yes, the salmon was fantastic! Thank you again so much for cooking and for letting me spend the night.”

    We break the hug. “Anytime, dear. And bring James when he gets back in town. We would love to have him over.”

    “I sure will. Good night, Lorna.”

    “Night, boys.”

    Lorna leaves the room and heads to their bedroom.

    I turn to Eric. “I can come to the kitchen with you while you make the tea.”

    “You sure you have enough coordination?”

    “Yeah, I should be fine. I think it was because I stood up so suddenly.”

    “OK. I don’t want you to fall down and become incapacitated before our training meeting.”

    “Don’t worry; I’ll wait until after the training meeting to do that.”

    Eric narrows his eyes and cracks a smile. “Smartass.”

    We both walk to the kitchen. I sit in one of their very comfortable barstools while Eric takes two teacups from the top of a small and very shiny metal appliance sitting on the counter. He places one cup underneath some kind of water spout, and pulls a lever and fills it up with hot water. The noise from the machine is quite loud as lots of steam emanates from it, so I wait until he’s finished filling one of the cups before asking, “What in the hell is that thing?”

    He turns around and places the now-full cup of water on the counter. “It’s an espresso machine.”

    “Espresso machine? I wanted tea, not coffee.”

    “It also has an instant hot water spout—perfect for tea.”

    “Oh.”

    He turns back around and fills up the other mug, and then grabs two teabags, handing one to me. “This is bedtime tea; it’s supposed to make you feel really sleepy and knock your ass out.”

    “Sounds good to me.”

    Eric sits in the barstool next to mine. We mindlessly bob our teabags in and out of the water to get them steeping.

    “Eric…”

    There are a few seconds of silence.

    “Yeah, Brad?”

    I roll my eyes. “This is probably going to sound really sappy, but I really, really do want to tell you how happy I am that you and Lorna invited me over.”

    “Oh, Brad, it’s our pleasure!”

    “I mean, I really miss James. He’s been out of town for almost two weeks now.”

    “Yeah, I can imagine how hard that must be for you.”

    “It is. And on top of that, one of my best friends is getting engaged soon, and the other has a new girlfriend. I haven’t been seeing them much lately, and I know I’ll probably see them less now that they’re all involved with their women.”

    He smiles. “Uh huh, that tends to happen when relationships go to the next level.”

    “But I had such a great time here tonight, with Lorna cooking dinner and all of us playing games. Just having someone to be around means so much to me, especially with how lonely I’ve been feeling lately, you know?”

    “Yeah, I understand.”

    “I guess what I’m trying to say is, when we started working together a couple months ago, I thought that’s all we would do—work together. I never expected something like what happened tonight to ever be in the picture. I mean, meet your wife and kids and have dinner and play games?”

    “Well, I’m glad you had a good time here tonight.”

    “I did. And you were there for me when I met James. Hell, you’re probably the reason he and I are together. I was worried about work and a relationship being too much to handle at the same time, but you helped me believe I could do it. I don’t think I’d be with him if it weren’t for you. You helped me be with the man of my dreams. And you act so cool about it even though I’m gay and it’s a man I’m in love with!”

    “Brad, it doesn’t matter if you wanted to be with a woman or a man. It makes no difference to me. You’re perfect just the way you are.”

    I feel myself beginning to tear up. “See? That’s what makes you so fucking cool. You have no idea how many people ridiculed me when I was younger for being gay and treated me as if I was somehow lesser of a person. It means so much to me, more than you can imagine, for you to say what you just said.”

    A tear rolls down my cheek. I wipe it away.

    Eric stands up and wraps me in a tight embrace. “Aww, Brad…”

    Several seconds later, we break the hug, and he sits back down. The tea has cooled down enough for us to take a few sips. There is silence for a few seconds, and then Eric speaks up.

    “Brad, since I’ve met you, I’ve enjoyed getting to know you. You’re an amazing person to work with; you’re very dedicated to your craft and you strive so hard for perfection—and attain it. I know before you and James got together, you were worried about how you were going to balance him with work, but I don’t think you give yourself enough credit. From an outside perspective, you seem to be handling things way better than I did when I was your age. Hell, you see an opportunity, go for it, and make it happen. Lots of new things are thrown at you, and you seem to be handling them just fine. It’s refreshing looking at you and seeing how well you take it all in.” He puts a hand on my shoulder. “And those other people when you were younger? Fuck what they think. There is nothing wrong with you. Not then, not now. I like you just the way you are; there is no need to change or feel bad about what makes you you.”

    I feel myself tearing up again, but I’m able to hold them back this time.

    He takes another sip of his tea. “You really did have a lot of wine tonight, didn’t you?”

    I laugh. We both glance toward the sink and see three empty wine bottles. He’s right—I did have a lot.

    After a few seconds, I look up at him. “Can I ask you something?”

    “Sure, what?”

    “How much did that espresso machine cost?”

    He answers my question as I’m taking a sip of my tea. “Three thousand dollars.”

    I almost spit out my tea. “Three thousand dollars?!”

    “Yeah, we kind of went overboard with it. But it’s a really nice machine. As you know, it has the hot water spout, but it can froth milk and pull espresso shots and do it fast. And fast counts, especially when that first cup is an absolute necessity before I head out the door in the morning before work.”

    “I wonder how it compares to Starbucks.”

    “Lorna swears this machine makes much better-tasting coffee. I’d tend to agree with her, but it really depends on your tastes. You wanna try a cup tomorrow?”

    “Are you kidding? Morning and coffee always go together as far as I’m concerned.”

    “Great; I can show you how it works in the morning.”

    “That sounds awesome.” I finish what’s left in my teacup and yawn. “Well, you were right; this tea is starting to kick in. I think I should head to bed now.”

    “Me too. Hopefully Lorna didn’t want up for me. I ended up staying out here longer than I thought I would.”

    “I’m sorry.”

    “No, we had a great talk! Plus, she’s used to me sometimes coming to bed really late.”

    “Yeah, James, too.

    He gets up, rinses the teacups, and turns off the kitchen lights, and then we both head toward the bedrooms. We stop in front of the guest bedroom, and he pulls me into a hug.

    “Brad, I’m so glad you had a great time tonight. You’re a really great friend, and I’m happy you came into our lives.”

    “Of course. You and Lorna and the kids are so welcoming and accepting. It’s nice being around people like you.”

    We break the hug. “All right, we should get some shut eye. Lorna and I are just down the hall. Knock if there’s anything you need.”

    “OK, Eric. Have a good night.”

    “You too, Brad. See you in the morning.”

    Eric turns around and heads into his bedroom, quietly closing the door.

    I close the door to the guest bedroom, and start getting ready for bed. I brush my teeth and plug my phone into the charger on the nightstand. I take off all my clothes, except for my underwear, and neatly fold them and place them on top of a dresser. I crawl under the sheets, and it’s not long before the bedtime tea works its magic and puts me to sleep.
    Last edited by AstareGod; January 20th, 2017 at 03:11 PM.
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  12. #262
    100% Purely Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by AstareGod
    Great to hear from you again, 72-Jay! I spent a while away from the stories forum, and from JUB in general, but I'm glad to be back. Hope things are going well for you in Colorado, and hope you're enjoying reading the story again! I'm enjoying writing it again!
    Yep, things are ok for me...
    And yep I'm deff enjoying reading the story again. Tonights update was really good too
    Keep up the good work

  13. #263
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Your last chapter was so "Kewl"!

    Eric, Lorna, and their kids sound like an episode of "Leave It To Beaver", right out of the 50s/60s.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leave_It_to_Beaver

    Why is it I get a premonition that might not be the case?

    More, Please, Sir!
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

  14. #264
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by 72-Jay View Post
    Yep, things are ok for me...
    And yep I'm deff enjoying reading the story again. Tonights update was really good too
    Keep up the good work
    That's great, 72-Jay! Glad to hear you're doing well, and that you enjoyed the latest part. Brad & James still need to make a visit to Colorado. Should be happening pretty soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanimal View Post
    Your last chapter was so "Kewl"!

    Eric, Lorna, and their kids sound like an episode of "Leave It To Beaver", right out of the 50s/60s.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leave_It_to_Beaver

    Why is it I get a premonition that might not be the case?

    More, Please, Sir!
    Chaz
    Hey, I'm old enough to remember catching Leave It to Beaver on TV Land (or it might have been Nick-at-Nite). Back when TV was good. Though I was more of a fan of I Love Lucy, I think I did catch a few episodes of LITB. I doubt the show influenced any of my writing, but it would be fun to watch a few episodes and see if there are any parallels.

    I've been on a writing kick lately - I just posted # 55 yesterday, but I'm now in the middle of writing # 62! (#s 56 through 61 are complete!) But, I have to do lots of editing to make sure the parts flow and make sense, and that process takes a while, but it's worth the wait. More will be on the way soon!
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  15. #265
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    It's refreshing to see that Brad has found such good friends in Eric, Lorna and the kids. It will be nice for him if James takes much longer in returning. I do worry about the Las Vegas trip however... Loneliness can play nasty tricks on people and that is what Brad is feeling about now. It will be interesting to see how the next few chapters go. Thanks, AG.

    Craiger

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    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by Craiger View Post
    It's refreshing to see that Brad has found such good friends in Eric, Lorna and the kids. It will be nice for him if James takes much longer in returning. I do worry about the Las Vegas trip however... Loneliness can play nasty tricks on people and that is what Brad is feeling about now. It will be interesting to see how the next few chapters go. Thanks, AG.

    Craiger
    Yeah, Eric, Lorna, and the kids are a great bunch of people and were nice to open their house up to Brad while James is out of town. Absence can make the heart grow fonder, but of course it might make another part of the human anatomy seek more attention.

    I plan on posting the next part tonight. Hope everyone's been enjoying the story so far!
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  17. #267
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    Re: Brad's Search

    ^ You're such an intriguing Tease!
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

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    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanimal View Post
    ^ You're such an intriguing Tease!
    I guess I'll take that one as a compliment!

    ---

    Part 56

    I wake up and glance at my phone—it’s 8-o’clock. I’m surprised I’m up this early, considering how late we were up last night drinking, talking, and playing games. I usually sleep way in after a fun late night the night before.

    I rise out of bed and put on the clothes I had on yesterday. It’s pointless to shower since I didn’t have a change of clothes, so I take a glimpse in the bathroom mirror and at least make sure my hair looks presentable.

    I make my way to the kitchen. Eric, Lorna, and the kids are already up and eating breakfast.

    Lorna is the first to greet me, with a, “Good morning, Brad.”

    “Good morning, guys,” I say, yawning.

    Eric takes a sip of his coffee. “How’d you sleep?”

    “Like a rock! That bed was super comfortable.”

    Lorna chuckles. “That’s great to hear. Would you like to stay for breakfast?”

    “I’d love to!”

    Eric smiles. “You look like you could use some coffee, stat.”

    I yawn again. “Yeah, we should probably start with that.”

    He stands up. “Good. I’m about ready for my second cup, anyway. I can show you how the machine works.”

    As Eric stands up and makes his way to the espresso machine, I get a good look at what he’s wearing. Since we work together, it’s rare that I see him in anything other than business casual attire. He’s wearing a V-neck T-shirt; several of his chest hairs poke up above the neckline. He’s also wearing thin, knit pajama bottoms, and he’s rocking quite the bulge. A nice five o’clock shadow adorns his face. It’s hard to keep from staring, and I hope no one has noticed my ogling.

    I join Eric by the espresso machine. He looks at me. “You awake enough to learn how to make espresso?”

    “I think so.”

    He retrieves a gallon bottle of milk from the fridge. “I hope whole milk is OK.”

    “Yeah, that’s fine.”

    “All right. First things first, you’ve got to grind your coffee.” He twists the handle of something and detaches it from the machine. “This is called a portafilter. It’s where you put the ground coffee.”

    He then positions the portafilter underneath a smaller machine that has a plastic container on top filled with whole coffee beans. He pushes a button, the machine makes a loud, grinding sound, and ground coffee begins filling the portafilter. As soon as it’s filled, he picks up a metal object with a flat circular end. “This is called a tamper. After you grind your coffee, use this to compact, or tamp, it all down.” He tamps the coffee, then returns the portafilter to the espresso machine, pushes up, and twists it in the other direction. It stays in place. He places a coffee cup underneath it.

    He then takes a small metal pitcher and fills it up a third of the way with milk. A thermometer is clipped to the side of it.

    He looks at me, pitcher in hand. “So, once your coffee is all ground and tamped and ready to go, it’s time to froth the milk. This long metal thing on the left is called a steam wand. Just lift the pitcher up so the tip of the wand is just below the surface of the milk, and pull this handle.”

    He pulls the handle once to demonstrate what it does. Hot steam shoots out of the end of it instantly. He then dips the tip of the wand into the pitcher of milk and pulls the handle. The machine makes a loud screeching sound for a split second, and Eric adjusts the height of the pitcher until it now makes more of a soft hissing sound.

    I have to get pretty close to Eric to hear him over the sound of the machine.

    He looks at me again. “Depending on how much foam you want in your coffee, you’ll want to hold the pitcher so that the tip of the wand is just at the surface of the milk. Not too high, or you’ll get large bubbles. Once you’ve got all the foam you want, lift the pitcher up and plunge the wand all the way down to evenly heat the rest of the milk.” He does just this, and then points at the thermometer. “Once the milk is hot enough, turn off the steam. I usually do it at around 150 degrees.”

    When the thermometer reaches that temperature, he turns the steam off and waits a few seconds. Then, he lowers the pitcher, lightly bangs it on the counter, and swirls the milk inside of it around a few times. “That helps to get rid of the bigger bubbles and create a nice foam.”

    After that, he pulls another handle on the machine, and an espresso shot begins pouring out of the bottom of the portafilter straight into the coffee cup. After thirty seconds or so, he flips the handle back to where it was, and espresso stops pouring into the cup. He gives the milk pitcher one last bang on the counter and swirl, then pours its contents into the coffee cup.

    “And voila, here’s a latte.” He places the new cup of coffee on the counter. “Ready to try making your own?”

    I raise my eyebrows. “As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.”

    “Don’t worry; I’ll walk you through it.”

    He twists the portafilter off the machine, turns it upside down, and bangs it against a metal box beside the machine. The spent coffee grounds fall into the box, and he rinses out the remaining grounds. He then hands me the portafilter.

    All right; time to go to work. The grinding seems to be the easiest part; all I have to do is push a button. I fill up the portafilter, then tamp the grounds just like Eric did. While I do that, he rinses the milk pitcher, then pours fresh milk into it.

    I insert the portafilter into the machine and give it a twist. He hands the pitcher to me. “Ready to steam the milk?”

    “I think so.”

    I firmly grip the handle of the pitcher and sink the tip of the steam wand below the surface of the milk, just like I watched Eric do, and pull down the handle. That horrible screeching sound starts again, but it doesn’t stop, no matter what I do. I glance up frantically at him. He places his hand on top of mine and helps me guide the pitcher to the right height. The screeching stops, and the hissing sound—the sound it should be making—starts. It’s also comforting feeling his hand on top of mine.

    After a while, he guides my hand to lift the pitcher up and plunge the steam wand down into the milk. “OK, that should be enough foam. Keep the pitcher here.”

    When the thermometer gets up to 150 degrees, I turn off the steam, and Eric takes his hand away. I knock the pitcher on the counter a few times and swirl the milk around. I then flip up the other handle on the machine to start pulling the shot of espresso.

    I look up at Eric. “Am I doing everything right?”

    “You’re doing everything perfectly.”

    Once the shot is pulled, I flip the handle down to stop the machine, then pour the frothed milk into the coffee cup.

    He glances at my creation. “Not too shabby. Time for the real test. Take a taste.”

    I lift the cup to my lips, gently blow to cool it down a bit, then take a sip. “You’re right, this is better than Starbucks!”

    Lorna chuckles. “See, dear? I told you.”

    Eric just looks at her and smiles.

    Lorna turns her attention to me. “Would you like anything to eat, dear? We can make pancakes or waffles, and have cereal, yogurt, bagels—pretty much everything.”

    “A bagel sounds nice.”

    “Sure thing, dear. They’re in the breadbox over there. We should have cream cheese and other toppings in the fridge. Please help yourself to anything in there.”

    “That’s so kind of you, thank you.”

    I set down my coffee on the counter, and then grab a bagel from the breadbox, slice it, and start toasting it. I open the fridge and find the cream cheese. I see some smoked salmon in the same drawer. I turn around and look at Lorna. “Can I try some smoked salmon on it?”

    “Of course, dear! Put whatever you’d like on it.”

    “Thanks!”

    When my bagel is done toasting, I spread some cream cheese on it and place a few slices of smoked salmon on top. I join the rest of them at the table.

    Eric looks at me. “So, do you have any plans for today?”

    “I’ll probably go for a run, then give James a call. It’s been a while since I’ve heard from him.”

    Lorna tilts her head to the side. “I hope everything’s been going well for him and his brother.”

    “Yeah, me too. Other than that, I’ll probably just relax and take it easy. The next few weeks at work are going to be hectic, right Eric?”

    He cracks a half-smile. “There will be plenty going on, that’s for sure, but I’ll make sure things don’t get too crazy.”

    We all finish up breakfast, and Eric and Lorna both take the dirty dishes and coffee cups to the sink.

    I get up from the table. “Well, I should get going soon.”

    Lorna smiles at me. “Sounds good, Brad. We loved having you over.”

    Eric turns to me. “Yeah, we really enjoyed spending time with you. You’re welcome to come over anytime.”

    They both take turns giving me a hug. I then shake the kids’ hands, and bid everyone goodbye.

    Eric walks me to the door. “Stay warm, and have a safe drive home.”

    “Thanks, Eric. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

    I head out the door, get in my car, and start the engine. I look back and wave goodbye to Eric as he stands in the doorway. He smiles and waves back. Damn, if it weren’t for his being straight and married with kids, he’d be irresistible. Oh, who am I kidding? He’s pretty damn irresistible as is.

    * * * * *

    As soon as I get home, I head upstairs and change into my running gear. It’s still pretty chilly outside, so after I pull on my jockstrap, I grab a pair of long running pants and a jacket and put those on. I pull up some workout music on my phone, grab my headphones, and head out the door.

    I jog my way to Gas Works Park, my new favorite place to run. Even though it’s the weekend, there aren’t too many people about. I run a few laps around the old, brown metal structures as I listen to the first few songs of my workout playlist. Soon, that wonderful coffee I had at Eric’s finishes making its way through my body, and I realize I need to pee really bad.

    I’m not quite ready to head back home yet, so I keep jogging around until I find a somewhat secluded area near some trees. I don’t want to get caught, so I pause my music and take my headphones out of my ears. I look around to make sure no one is nearby, then I undo the drawstrings of my pants and pull the waistband down. I pull the pouch of my jockstrap to the side, exposing my cock. I take my cock in my right hand and angle it up slightly, then let loose a long stream of piss. I keep going for almost a minute—I drank a lot of coffee—but by the time I’m done, the feeling of pissing in the outdoors where I could be caught excites me, and I get a naughty idea.

    With my cock still out, I pull out my phone, open the camera app, and start recording a video. I point my phone straight down at my cock and begin jerking off. Doing this out in the open gets me really going and I almost get to a climax when I suddenly hear a twig snap and some leaves rustling.

    Shit.

    In the blink of an eye, I drop my phone, pull up the waistband of my pants, and look around. I don’t see anyone. It was probably a squirrel or a bird or something. I bend down and pick my phone up off the ground, brushing the dirt off of it. It’s still recording. I yank down the waistband of my pants and continue jerking off, getting closer and closer to climax until I shoot five or six ropes of cum, each landing several feet from where I stand. I guess that’s what happens when it’s been about a week since I last got off.

    Once my hard-on goes back to being soft, I move the pouch of my jockstrap over it and pull the waistband of my pants up. I send my new raunchy video to James, along with a message: This is what happens when I’ve been missing you. I run a few more laps, then start heading home.

    I strip off all my workout clothes and throw them in the laundry hamper, then take a long and luxurious shower. It’s hard to keep my mind off work, but I try as much as I can. As I dry off, I check my phone; I have both a missed call and a text from James. The text reads: Hey sexy, that was an awesome vid! Call me when you can. I do so as soon as I finish getting dressed.

    James answers, “Hello, sexy boyfriend!”

    “Hello, yourself!”

    “What prompted you to send me such a titillating video?”

    “Eh, I dunno, I just got the urge, I guess. Did you like it?”

    “Did I? I have a permanent boner now. I’ll definitely need to take care of this tonight. Don’t be surprised if you get a video from me!”

    “I’m looking forward to it!”

    James chuckles. “So, I have some good news.”

    “Oh?”

    “Turns out my dad has connections here in Michigan. He was able to pull a few strings and get Paul a child custody court hearing scheduled for tomorrow.”

    “Wow, that was fast.”

    “Tell me about it. Paul’s going for full custody.”

    “Do you think the judge will grant that?”

    “We think so, especially since Patricia tried to cross the border alone with the kids. That’s a big no-no. It proves that she was deliberately trying to keep the kids away from Paul and to herself. We think the judge will look at that, and that alone, and decide in favor of Paul.”

    “How soon after the hearing do you think the judge will decide?”

    “Hopefully the same day. As you can imagine, cases like these can get very backed up, so they want to keep things moving as fast as possible.”

    “Does that mean you’ll be coming home soon?”

    “Yep, and another piece of good news: Paul has decided to come with me if he gets the kids.”

    “Really? Paul is going to move here?”

    “Yeah! I’m super excited about it. Dad’s house has a couple of spare bedrooms, so Paul and the kids will have a place to stay.”

    “I’m happy for Paul and the kids, too, but I’m really stoked that you’ll be coming home soon.”

    “Me too. I really miss you, Brad.”

    “I miss you a lot, too.”

    “Anyway, Paul and I have a lot of prep work to do for his hearing tomorrow, so I better let you go.”

    “All right. It was great hearing from you. I love you.”

    “Love you too. Take care, Brad. Bye.”

    “You too. Bye.”

    I take it easy the rest of the day and eventually get ready for bed. My phone buzzes, and it’s a video message from James. I start playing it.

    The video starts with a close-up of James, shirtless and sitting up in bed. He says, “Hey there, cutie. Know what happens when you send me a dirty video?” He moves the camera further away so that his cock comes into the frame, and then he proceeds to start masturbating. He moans and makes hushed dirty talk throughout the whole video, and a few minutes later, he climaxes and his cock spurts cum all over his chest and torso. He looks at the camera and says, “Can’t wait to see you again, cutie. I love you.” The video then goes black.

    I waste no time pulling my briefs off and playing the video over and over until finally reaching my second orgasm of the day.

    * * * * *

    Monday morning rolls around, and I head into work. We have only one more week to put all the finishing touches and tweaks into our project. I’m one of those people who stresses out over every single miniscule detail, so I’m doing all I can to keep from pulling all my hair out.

    Around lunchtime, Eric calls me into his office. I step inside and sit down. “Hey Eric.”

    “Hey there, Brad. How was the rest of your weekend?”

    “It was good. I spoke with James, and he had some good news to share with me about Paul and the kids. They might all be coming back to Seattle soon.”

    “That’s awesome to hear!”

    “Yeah, I’m pretty excited about it.” I don’t tell him about my run in the park—or what I did besides run. “What about you?”

    “I just stayed at home with Lorna and the kids and got stuff done around the house. The usual. Anyway, I spoke with our client in Vegas earlier this morning, and we’ll be flying there Sunday afternoon. They want us there for two weeks.”

    I take a quick, shallow, breath. I’ve been preoccupied thinking all about how this trip is going to go. Hopefully Eric was right when he said during our client meeting that he’d be the one doing most of the talking and training and that he’d just need to lean on me occasionally when a tough question comes up. I definitely don’t think I’d be prepared to do what he’s going to do for two weeks straight.

    He continues. “They’re going to cover the round-trip airfare for both of us, but our company will need to pay for the hotel room. I spoke with Rick, and he’s fine with booking two separate rooms, but he said we could save some money if we share a room, especially because it’s going to be for such a long time. Are you OK with the two of us sharing a room?”

    I shrug. “Yeah, I don’t see a problem with that.”

    “Great. I’ll talk with Rick and see what our budget looks like, and he and I will go from there.”

    “Awesome.”

    “Well, I think that’s all I needed to cover for now. You hungry? I’m craving a sandwich from that deli we went to a while back.”

    “That sounds good to me!”

    With that, we head downstairs and go to James’s favorite deli. Luckily, there’s no sign of Derek—if he had seen me there again with Eric, I’d never hear the end of it. We both order sandwiches and grab a table.

    As we wait for our order, I ask Eric, “So, they need us there for two weeks, but do they want us to train every single day of those two weeks?”

    He scoffs. “Oh, god, no. That would be a nightmare. No, they just need us Monday through Friday. We’ll have the weekends free.”

    I breathe a sigh of relief. “That’s good to hear. So, what are we going to do on our days off?”

    “Well, bring some extra spending money, because I’m going to teach you how to play Blackjack.”

    “Oh, Eric, I don’t think I’d be any good at that.”

    “Are you kidding? You kicked our asses playing that game at my house Saturday night. After I teach you a thing or two, with your luck, you’ll probably clean out the house.”

    I blush. “Well, I’m up for learning, but I don’t think I’d feel so confident if there’s money involved.”

    He chuckles. “We’ll keep the stakes low at first.”

    I admit, it’s nice to imagine going into a casino and leaving much richer than before, but I’m smart: I know the house always has the edge. Hell, as long as I’m having a good time—and I know I will with Eric—it’ll be worth it.

    Our order is called, and we waste no time scarfing down our sandwiches. We head back to the office and work the rest of the day. As I’m about to head home, Eric calls me into his office again and shows me his computer screen.

    “Brad, I spoke with Rick, and this is one of the hotels we’ve narrowed down. It looks to be the nicest one. What do you think?”

    I quickly glance at his screen. “Yeah, that one seems fine to me.”

    “Great! I’ll book the room. I talked Rick into letting us stay through the Saturday after training, so that we’ll at least get some more free time in Vegas, and then we’ll fly back the day after.”

    “This is starting to sound like it’ll be a fun trip!”

    Eric smiles. “See? I told you it wouldn’t be all work and no play.”

    * * * * *

    I get home from work and make myself a small but savory meal. Just when I finish eating, I get a text from James: Hey cutie. Do you have some time to chat? I call right away.

    James picks up. “Hey there, babe; how’s your night going?”

    “Good, I just finished dinner. Work was kind of crazy since we’re near the end of our project, but I’m surviving it. What’s going on with you?”

    “Well, Paul had his custody hearing today—”

    “Oh yeah! How did that go?”

    “It was a shit show—well, only because his wife, Patricia, was there. She tried so hard to badmouth Paul, saying he as a gay man is unfit to parent their children, but the judge was having none of it.”

    “Good for him!”

    “Yeah. The judge basically ripped her a new one because she had initially disappeared with the kids on her own. He didn’t even wait that long before making his ruling. He gave Paul full custody of the kids.”

    I shriek with excitement. “Oh, my god, that’s such good news!”

    “It’s fantastic news! Now, the judge’s ruling is only a temporary one, but he’s allowing Paul to fly to Seattle, and, after ninety days, if he demonstrates he can provide enough financial and emotional support to the kids, he’ll get them permanently.”

    “That’s awesome! When are you all coming back?”

    “We just booked our flights today. We fly back this Sunday.”

    “Really? That’s the same day Eric and I fly to Vegas.”

    “Wow, what a coincidence! I’ll have to send you our flight details. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got there just in time to see you before you departed?”

    “That would be awesome! I think that would be a first for me.”

    “Me too. Anyway, it’s been a long day, so I’d better get going.”

    “OK, I’ll let you go. I’m really happy for Paul. Congratulate him for me.”

    “I will, cutie. You have a good night, OK? Love you.”

    “Love you too.”

    It’s been a long day for me, too, so off to bed I go.
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  19. #269
    HUGS! ;-)
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Wow! Things are almost going TOO Smoothly!

    The "bad" thing is James arriving just as Brad is departing with Eric! "Ships passing in the night", though it will likely be day when that happens.

    Perhaps a quick hug at the airport before 2 weeks in Vegas?

    "What happens in Vegas ..."

    Will something "Happen" let alone stay?

    MORE, Please!
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

  20. #270
    100% Purely Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by AstareGod
    That's great, 72-Jay! Glad to hear you're doing well, and that you enjoyed the latest part. Brad & James still need to make a visit to Colorado. Should be happening pretty soon.
    Cool. be interesting to see how that turns out..


    ------
    Good update with Part 56
    I kinda saw it coming that Brad would be heading to Vegas right around the time James was getting back maybe they'll cross paths in the airport..
    Sharing a room with Eric for 2 weeks... and in Vegas... hmm, how strong is Brad's willpower to stay truthful to James (and for that matter Eric to his wife)...

  21. #271
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Good news for Paul and the kids. It seems it will be James' turn to spend a couple of weeks alone. With two weeks in Vegas with an irresistible man it may be harder on Brad than on James. Irresistiblity and temptation work hand in hand so, will Brad be strong enough to resist or will he succumb to the call of the siren????? Great chapter, AG.

    Craiger

  22. #272
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanimal View Post
    Wow! Things are almost going TOO Smoothly!

    The "bad" thing is James arriving just as Brad is departing with Eric! "Ships passing in the night", though it will likely be day when that happens.

    Perhaps a quick hug at the airport before 2 weeks in Vegas?

    "What happens in Vegas ..."

    Will something "Happen" let alone stay?

    MORE, Please!
    Chaz
    Yeah, it's hard to keep that saying out of my head... "What happens in Vegas..." Fun times to be had, for sure. And two weeks is plenty of time...

    Quote Originally Posted by 72-Jay View Post
    Cool. be interesting to see how that turns out..


    ------
    Good update with Part 56
    I kinda saw it coming that Brad would be heading to Vegas right around the time James was getting back maybe they'll cross paths in the airport..
    Sharing a room with Eric for 2 weeks... and in Vegas... hmm, how strong is Brad's willpower to stay truthful to James (and for that matter Eric to his wife)...
    Uh oh, I hope my writing isn't becoming too predictable! They'll miss each other... that is, assuming the flights go as planned, which we all know is no guarantee...

    A new place (for Brad) with lots to see and do can certainly be exciting. Yes, hopefully both can remain faithful to their partners!

    Quote Originally Posted by Craiger View Post
    Good news for Paul and the kids. It seems it will be James' turn to spend a couple of weeks alone. With two weeks in Vegas with an irresistible man it may be harder on Brad than on James. Irresistiblity and temptation work hand in hand so, will Brad be strong enough to resist or will he succumb to the call of the siren????? Great chapter, AG.

    Craiger
    True, James will be without Brad, but he'll have his hands full getting Paul and the kids settled in, so that should hopefully help time pass by more quickly. Add alcohol to the "irresistibility and temptation" mix and you've got a triple threat. Brad should tread carefully...
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  23. #273
    Sex God AstareGod's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Part 57

    Finally! I thought this day would never come. We finish wrapping up everything on the project at work. And a day early, too! To celebrate, we throw a big party on Friday, complete with champagne.

    But it’s not quite over for me and Eric, yet.

    After I get home Friday, I pack my suitcase with enough clothes and everything else I’ll need for the next two weeks in Vegas. I make sure to pack a swimsuit and some fitness gear, since the hotel Eric booked has a hot tub, pool, and fitness center.

    The plan is to meet Eric at the airport a couple of hours before our flight. Getting through security shouldn’t be too much of a hassle on a Sunday.

    I check the flight details James sent me; he, Paul, and the kids should be arriving from Michigan just minutes after our flight to Vegas takes off, so it doesn’t look like I’ll have a chance to see them. I’m really disappointed about that, but there’s nothing I can do.

    I try as much as I can to relax and take it easy the rest of the night and tomorrow. There will be enough time to stress out when next week starts.

    * * * * *

    Sunday morning is here, and I need to get my ass to the airport! Since parking a car there for two weeks would be too expensive, I ask Gary for a ride.

    He pulls up outside and lightly taps the horn. I lock up, toss my suitcase in the trunk of his car, and get in.

    “Thanks so much for picking me up, Gary.”

    “No problem, Brad. You excited about the trip?”

    “I’m more nervous than I am excited, but I think I’ll be fine.”

    He nods. “Yeah, it’s just all in your head. Everything’s going to turn out great.”

    “I hope so.”

    I buckle up, he puts the car in gear, and we start heading to the airport.

    I turn to him. “So, speaking of flights, when are you and Gina flying to Toronto?”

    “We go there in May.”

    “I’m so excited for you, Gary. Does she know at all that you’re going to propose to her?”

    “She has no idea, so don’t go spilling the beans, mister.”

    “Don’t worry; my lips are sealed!”

    “They better be, or I’ll sew them shut myself! That probably won’t make James very happy.”

    I chuckle. “Yeah, especially since he hasn’t seen me in almost three weeks. And to make matters worse, we’re just going to miss each other at the airport. His flight gets in right after mine takes off.”

    “Damn, that’s a bummer. Well, think of it this way: you’ve already waited three weeks, what’s two more?”

    I shake my head. “Nope, still doesn’t make it any better.”

    Gary cracks a half-smile. “Don’t worry; you’ll survive.”

    We make it to the airport, and Gary pulls up outside the entrance for departures. We step out, and he helps me retrieve my suitcase from the trunk.

    He gives me a hug. “Have a safe flight, Brad, and good luck with everything in Vegas.”

    “I will, Gary. Thanks again for the ride.”

    “Anytime. See you, bud.”

    With that, he takes off, and I step inside the airport.

    I walk up to a kiosk to print my boarding pass and get a tag for my suitcase when I see Eric making his way up from a different entrance. I almost don’t recognize him since he’s wearing a t-shift and blue jeans. I’m so used to seeing him in a dressier at work. I wave to him, and he starts walking toward me.

    He comes up to me and pats my shoulder. “Hey Brad, looks like you beat me by a minute or two.”

    “Do I get an award for that?”

    “You get to print your boarding pass first!”

    I twirl my finger around like an imaginary flag. “Whoop-tee-do!”

    He chuckles. “Hey, do something useful with that finger, now.”

    I do as I’m told and tap the screen several times, progressing through all the prompts to get my pass and luggage tag printed. He does the same on the kiosk next to mine. After we’re finished, we hand off our luggage to the airline representative behind the counter and head to the security line.

    Luckily, the line is pretty short, and we get through in about five minutes. After we get our laptops back in our carry-on bags and put our shoes and belts back on, I walk up to a screen showing the departing flights.

    I look back at Eric, who’s walking toward me after tying his shoe, and point my finger at the screen. “I think you should see this.”

    He glances at the screen, then at me. “Our flight’s been delayed? For two hours?”

    “Yeah, that’s what it says.”

    “Well, at least we would still get to Vegas at a somewhat reasonable time.”

    My eyes suddenly brighten up. “You know what this means, though?”

    He gives me a puzzled look. “No, what?”

    “This gives me a chance to see James!”

    I waste no time scanning the screens for his flight’s arrival time, find it, and point it out. “He’ll land in about an hour.”

    “You want to go wait at the gate and surprise him when he steps off?”

    I smile. “I’d love that! He’d love it, too.”

    “All right; let’s go.”

    We start walking to the concourse where his plane will arrive. Along the way, we pass by a restaurant with a bunch of beers on tap, which gets Eric’s attention. He points it out to me. “Hey, let’s check this place out.”

    We glance at one of their menus; the food looks really delicious, and the prices are not too expensive.

    Eric looks up at me. “Do you think James and the others will be hungry when they land?”

    “Probably. Their flight is about six hours.”

    “Cool. Well, we probably have time for at least one drink while we wait for them. You in?”

    I take a look at the beer list posted on the wall. “I dunno. I’m not much of a beer drinker.”

    “Come on; with as many beers on tap as they have, there’s bound to be something you’ll like.”

    I shrug. “Sure, I’ll give it a try, I guess.”

    “That’s the spirit.”

    We walk up and grab two seats at the bar. Eric gets the bartender’s attention and orders a stout, then turns to me. “See anything up there you might want to try?”

    I shake my head. “I don’t even know what half this stuff means.”

    Eric chuckles. His stout arrives and he pays for it. “Here, try some of this.”

    I take a look at his drink. I’ve never seen a beer this dark—well, except for the ones Eric was drinking at his place the weekend before. He had mentioned it having a coffee-like taste, so how bad could it be?

    I pick up his glass and let some of the beer enter my mouth. Just as quick as it hits my tongue, I make a very grotesque face and slam the glass down on the bar. “Oh, my god, that’s the grossest thing I’ve tasted in a long time!”

    He laughs. “To each their own, I guess.” He takes a bigger swig of it. “Though, I will teach you one thing. If you ever order something like this and don’t quite like the taste, don’t let it wash all over your tongue. It’s much more palatable if you funnel it straight down the back of your throat.”

    “Really?”

    “Yeah, give it a try.”

    I look at him quizzically, then take his glass and prepare for round two, trying to position the glass further toward the back of my mouth. I let some more beer escape the glass, and try to swallow as fast as I can. No grotesque face this time. I set his glass down more gently this time.

    He nods at me. “Looks like that was a success.”

    “Yeah, if I’m ever in a bind, I have you to thank for teaching me how to appear more manly and put a beer away.”

    “Hey, there’s nothing intrinsically manly about being able to put a beer away.”

    “If you say so.”

    He smiles. “All right, let’s find you something you like.” He looks up at the beer list, thinking for a few seconds. “You ever tried cider?”

    “Like an apple cider?”

    “Yep. It’s a sweeter-tasting drink. I think you’d like it.”

    I check out the different flavors of cider on tap, and one catches my eye. “Have you ever heard of dragon fruit cider?”

    He shakes his head. “Nope, I haven’t. It sounds exotic, but give it a try! You can use my technique if the taste is too much to handle.”

    I get the bartender’s attention and order my cider. A few seconds later, it’s in my hands.

    I glance at Eric. “OK, here goes nothing.” I raise the glass to my lips and take in a pretty sizable sip, then set the glass down.

    The next few seconds are silent until Eric speaks up, “So, what do you think?”

    “This shit is delicious!”

    He pats my shoulder. “Great! I’m glad you found something that you liked!”

    “You wanna try some?”

    He reaches for my glass. “Sure, why not?” He samples a taste, then hands my glass back to me. “A little too sweet for my liking, but that’s precisely why I suggested it to you.”

    I nod. “Well, it was an awesome suggestion.”

    We each take a few more sips of our drinks as we watch the various things on TV. One has a news show, and another is showing a soccer game. After a while, I let out a sigh.

    Eric looks at me. “You all right?”

    “Yeah, I’m just relieved that I get to see James, his brother, and the kids. Having to wait two more whole weeks would’ve been too much.”

    He nods. “Everything certainly seemed to happen all at once, but it looks like it’s all going Paul’s way, right?”

    “Right. He ran into practically no issues getting custody of his kids. I know it must be a crazy transition moving across half the country, kids in tow, and getting established in a new area, but I’m really happy for him. And I’m happy James could be there for him.”

    He smiles. “Yeah, I know what you mean.” He glances at a nearby arrivals screen. “Speaking of James being there, his flight just landed.”

    “Shit, really?”

    “Yeah, must have gotten here earlier than expected.”

    We waste no time gulping down the rest of our drinks, and rush to his gate.

    We get there right as people are starting to come inside from the plane. My heart’s racing, partly because this will be my first time meeting Paul’s kids, but mostly because I’m excited that I’m going to see James any moment now. As the minutes pass, the crowd of people coming off the plane thins down until it stops and no one is coming inside.

    Had they gotten on the plane? Were we at the right gate? Had we already missed them?

    I walk up to the person behind the counter. “Hi, excuse me, has everyone gotten off the plane yet? I’m expecting to see family.”

    ‘Family?’ I’ve only been together with James for a month, but the word felt right for some reason.

    “One moment, sir.” The representative picks up the phone, says a few words into it, then thanks the person on the other end and hangs up. She looks back at me. “There are two men with two children getting some assistance from our cabin crew.”

    I breathe a sigh of relief. “That sounds like them. Thank you.”

    A few moments pass, and I finally see Paul emerge holding a young girl in his arms and holding the hand of an older boy walking beside him. James follows behind them with at least three bags draped over his shoulders and lugging a rolling suitcase behind him. A flight attendant is carrying another couple of bags for them.

    James glances up at me, and he shakes his head for a second or two as the realization that I’m standing right in front of him sets in. His surprised look disappears, and a huge smile grows on his face from ear to ear to replace it. He sets his bags down, and I run up to him, plant a longer-than-usual kiss on his lips, and pull him into a tight embrace.

    We break our hug, and he looks into my eyes and smiles again. “Hello, my sexy boyfriend. I’ve missed you.”

    “I’ve missed you, too.”

    We stare into each other’s eyes for a few seconds until I feel a tap on my shoulder. It’s Eric. “Are you going to introduce us?”

    “Oh, my god, I’m sorry. Eric, this is my boyfriend, James, and his brother, Paul. Guys, this is my coworker, Eric.”

    The three of them shake hands. Paul then introduces his kids. “This is Sammy and Rachel.”

    Eric smiles as he looks at the kids. “They are absolutely adorable! How old are they?”

    Paul answers Eric. “Thanks! Sammy is eight, and Rachel is five.”

    “They look tired.”

    James speaks up. “Yeah, it’s been a long day for them. Six-hour plane ride, plus a two-hour ride to the airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin.”

    Eric tilts his head. “Wow, that does sound long. Are you guys hungry? There’s a nice restaurant just around the corner that Brad and I saw on the way here.”

    James’s eyes brighten up. “Yes, food sounds wonderful! Let’s go.”

    Eric and I take some of the bags from James, and we all start heading to the restaurant. As we walk, James turns to me. “So, what happened with your flight? Weren’t you supposed to be in the air already?”

    I nod. “Yeah, but it got delayed for a couple of hours. I’m just glad we get to see each other for a bit. Did you guys have any checked baggage?”

    “Nope. Since we were flying with four people, we were able to pack everything in carry-on bags to save on the baggage fees.”

    I chuckle. “Nice!”

    It doesn’t take long before we get to the restaurant. We request a table large enough for all of us, and the host seats us. Eric orders himself a second stout, and I decide to go for another cider. Paul and James both get some kind of beer I’ve never heard of in my life, and they get soft drinks for the kids. We look at the food menu and place our order with our server after he comes back to the table with all the drinks.

    We make small talk as we wait for our food. Paul asks Eric and me about our work project and the training we’ll be doing in Vegas. Eric does all the talking while I try to tune out as much of it as I can; I’ll have enough time to focus on it starting tomorrow morning.

    Paul changes the subject. “You have any kids?”

    Eric nods. “Yeah, two—a boy and a girl. They’re nine and fourteen. I’ve been married to my wife, Lorna, for about 14 years now.”

    Paul smiles. “That’s awesome.”

    “Thanks! Yeah, Lorna’s wonderful, and the kids are a blast.” After a few seconds of silence, Eric continues. “Brad’s told me a little about what you’ve been going through. I’m so happy for you that your little ones are with you right now. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have mine.”

    Paul sighs. “Yeah, it has been tough lately, but I think it’s finally all over, and I can move on.” He looks at James. “But my brother truly came through for me. I don’t know where I’d be right now if it wasn’t for him.” He puts a hand on James’s shoulder and squeezes it.

    Our food arrives, and we waste no time filling our stomachs. I had been feeling pretty hungry myself, but I can imagine how hungry James, Paul, and the kids must be after all the traveling they did today. It doesn’t take long to finish up; we talk casually while the adults finish our drinks.

    Eric glances at his watch. “We should probably wrap up here soon. Our flight’s going to start boarding in about ten minutes.”

    With that, we all stand up. Paul starts getting the kids situated, while Eric flags down our server so we can pay.

    I look at the kids. “It was so nice to meet you!”

    The kids bashfully look down at the floor. Paul chuckles and pats my shoulder. “They’ll warm up to you soon, I promise.”

    I pull Paul into a hug. “Yeah, I’m sure about that. I’m happy you and everyone else made it over here safely. I’m glad you decided to make the move.”

    We pull away, and he smiles. “I am, too. Now that my feet are on the ground, this feels like the right decision.”

    “I just want you to know that James and I are here for you. If there’s anything you or the kids need, let us know, OK?”

    “I will. Thank you, Brad.”

    I turn to James and give him a hug and a kiss. He looks into my eyes and smiles. “I’ll see you soon, cutie.” His smile transforms into a smirk. “Have fun in Vegas, and don’t get into too much trouble.”

    I chuckle. “I’ll try not to. You got all those bags?”

    “Yeah, I can handle them. It was a bit harder getting everything off the plane, but it should be easier now.”

    Eric shakes Paul’s and James’s hands, and we all say our goodbyes. I watch the four of them as they round a corner and head toward the exit. James looks back at me and blows me an air kiss. I blow him one back, and then we wave goodbye.

    Eric and I get to our gate and wait for our boarding group to be called.

    I look at him. “Wow, a six-hour plane trip?”

    “Yeah, that’s a long one. I’m glad ours is only a little over two hours.”

    “What’s our plan when we get there?”

    “Rick said I could spring for a rental car, so we’ll pick that up when we land and head to our hotel from there. It should be about a fifteen-minute drive from the airport.”

    “Sounds good.”

    Our boarding group is called. Eric looks at me. “Ready?”

    I sigh quickly. “Yep, let’s go.”

    We get our boarding passes scanned by the boarding agent and get onto the plane. Eric hoists his carry-on into the overhead compartment. “You want the window or aisle seat?”

    “I’ll take the window seat, if you don’t mind. It would be fun seeing Vegas from above as we land.”

    He gestures his hand toward the seats. “Go for it!”

    We sit down and buckle our seat belts. The rest of the other passengers make their way onto the plane, the door shuts, and the captain pushes off. The flight attendants go through their usual safety spiel, and it’s not long before we pull onto the runway and take off.

    I made sure to pack some entertainment. As soon as the captain says we can use our electronic devices, I pull out my tablet and put on an episode of a TV show to help pass the time. About halfway through, I pause it to ask Eric a question, but notice he’s asleep. I finish watching the rest of my show, then feel tired, too. I guess that’s what a full stomach and a couple of ciders will do to you. Napping doesn’t sound like a bad idea, so I put my tablet away and close my eyes.
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  24. #274
    100% Purely Unloveable 72-Jay's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Nice... they got to meet briefly between flights!

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    Re: Brad's Search

    The airport experience was very enjoyable, and I'm so happy there was an overlap. At least they got to say, "Hello! Goodbye!"

    Hoping Brad and Eric will awake upon landing. Wouldn't want to end up being flown away to who knows where!

    Looking forward to MORE, Please!
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by 72-Jay View Post
    Nice... they got to meet briefly between flights!
    Yep! One of the only reasons you might want your flight to be delayed. Otherwise it's sure to be a pain in the ass to deal with...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanimal View Post
    The airport experience was very enjoyable, and I'm so happy there was an overlap. At least they got to say, "Hello! Goodbye!"

    Hoping Brad and Eric will awake upon landing. Wouldn't want to end up being flown away to who knows where!

    Looking forward to MORE, Please!
    Chaz
    For sure! Yeah, who knows where else that plane would have gone... Australia?! Haha.

    Things got kinda busy this month, but I have the next few parts written - I just need to do some light (or heavy) editing and they'll be ready to go! Next part should be out in a few days...
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

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    Re: Brad's Search

    Great chapter, however I'm glad it was Brad and Eric going through the mess of security checks. Flying has somewhat lost its appeal to me due to the check-in procedures.

    It's good that Brad and James were able to see each other, even though it was for only a few minutes. I worry about the further two week delay in their returning to a "family" situation. Especially with Vegas in the pot. But Brad's a big boy now.......

    Craiger

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    Re: Brad's Search

    Quote Originally Posted by Craiger View Post
    Great chapter, however I'm glad it was Brad and Eric going through the mess of security checks. Flying has somewhat lost its appeal to me due to the check-in procedures.

    It's good that Brad and James were able to see each other, even though it was for only a few minutes. I worry about the further two week delay in their returning to a "family" situation. Especially with Vegas in the pot. But Brad's a big boy now.......

    Craiger
    Yeah, TSA at the airport can be a hassle, but the last few times I've flown, it hasn't been that bad. It largely has to do with the other passengers in line, the overall attitude of the TSA agents, and how many lanes they have open. It also really helps if the people in line are experienced and know what to take off and put in the bin, which helps keep things moving.

    If you have the time and money, getting a NEXUS card can help because it comes with TSA Pre-check, which usually means there will be a dedicated security line at the airport and you'll get through faster. It can also make crossing land and sea borders faster. I've considered getting one, but I don't really fly or cross the border that often to justify the cost and time to get one...

    Anyway... yeah, at least Brad and James got to see each other briefly, and also got to meet Paul's kids, as well as Eric getting to meet all of them. It'll make the next two weeks a little easier to get through, and Brad should be pretty busy with work during the week and fun during the weekend!

    Next part should be out tomorrow!
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

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    Re: Brad's Search

    Part 58

    An announcement over the PA wakes me up. The captain tells us we’re close to landing in Vegas. I glance out the window—even though the sun has already set, it’s almost bright as day out there! It’s neat seeing the Strip from high in the air with all of the buildings lit up.

    I look to my right and see Eric opening his eyes. “Have a nice nap?”

    He covers his mouth as he yawns, and looks back at me. “As nice as I can get on a plane. But drinking two of those stouts probably wasn’t a good idea.”

    Now that he mentions it, I can feel my own bladder begging to be emptied. “Yeah, you can say that again. We should find a bathroom after getting off the plane.”

    “Deal.”

    The whole landing-and-taxiing process seems to take longer than ever, but we finally pull up to the jetway, and the plane’s door opens. We stand up, retrieve our carry-on bags, and get off the plane as fast as the people ahead of us allow.

    Eric spots a restroom across the way and points to it. “There’s one there.”

    “Perfect; let’s go.”

    We could easily qualify for the Olympic sprinting event with how fast we make it across the very crowded terminal. We get to the restroom, and it’s just about as packed as the terminal outside. Four urinals, no dividers between them, line the wall. The two in the middle are the only ones free, and it looks like all of the stalls are taken. Eric and I look at each other, shrug, and make our way to the two urinals in the middle. We’re both desperate enough that we don’t care about restroom etiquette. With as packed as it is in here, I’m just glad we don’t have to wait.

    I unbutton and unzip my pants, hook a thumb underneath the waistband of my underwear, and pull my cock out, getting ready to unleash the effects of downing two ciders. I don’t go right away—I’m not usually pee shy, but the lack of privacy and the closeness of other guys, Eric especially, is making the process a bit difficult.

    I can’t resist the temptation. I glance down and to my right; Eric’s just now pulling his cock through the fly of his pants. It’s hard to tell, but it looks to be a pretty good size, especially with the couple layers of fabric hiding the rest of its length. Just as quick as he frees his manhood, he holds it near the tip with his thumb and forefinger and begins to release two stouts’ worth of piss. I don’t think I’ve ever really been into piss or watersports, but there’s something very hot about watching Eric do it right next to me. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s married and very off-limits. Or perhaps it’s because the two of us have been spending so much time together and getting so close, and now we’re sharing this intimate moment with one another. Am I getting some kind of crush on him? Oh god, I can’t think that. Get that out of your head, Brad.

    I don’t want to get caught, so I glance back down at myself. I haven’t started going yet. Though I don’t see him, Eric must have looked down at me too and noticed me not going, when he asks, “Nervous?”

    The guy to my left walks away, and another man quickly takes his place. I look up at Eric; he’s staring straight ahead at the wall. “About what?”

    “Tomorrow, and the weeks ahead.”

    That isn’t the real reason, but I’m sure as hell not telling him the truth. “Yeah, just a bit.”

    “Don’t be. Try to relax tonight. I’ve got everything planned, and I’ll handle the flow of the meetings tomorrow.”

    “I just want it all to go smoothly.”

    “It will. I’ve done this kind of thing before. But I wanted you here because this is a big project; there are things about it, ins-and-outs, that I still don’t even know. That’s why you’re here. I’ll need you from time to time, but I know you’ll do just fine when I need you.”

    I sigh. I hope he’s right.

    Just then, my own piss stream starts. Thank goodness!

    I notice some movement to my right. Eric gives his cock a squeeze toward the end and shakes it two or three times, then it disappears beneath the fabric of his denim pants. He zips up and steps away as the urinal flushes automatically. About a minute later, I finish up myself—I definitely had a lot of cider!

    A line has formed over at the sinks because it’s so crowded, but some eventually free up. Eric and I wash our hands and begin making our way to baggage claim.

    I breathe a sigh of relief. “Much better!”

    He smiles. “Hear, hear.”

    I look at a screen to see which baggage carousel is ours, then we head to it. Minutes later, the carousel starts up, and it’s not long before we each have our suitcases in hand. Now we’re off to the rental car counter. We get there, and a representative greets us and handles our reservation.

    Eric looks at me. “You want me to add you as a driver, just in case?”

    “Sure, why not?”

    The representative hands Eric the keys and directs us to where we can pick up the car. Once we find it outside among the maze of other cars, we pop the trunk and put our suitcases inside. Eric gets in the driver’s seat, and I hop in the other side. He starts the car up, and we go on our way.

    I look up at him. “Know where you’re going?”

    “Oh yeah. I’ve spent so much time here, I know my way around like the back of my hand. Lorna and I come back occasionally to relive the memories, you know?”

    “Are you going to be able to survive the next two weeks without her?”

    He chortles. “The real question is: can you survive five without James?”

    “You got me there.”

    “Well, we’ll be booked Monday through Friday, and I’ll keep you busy showing you all the sights and sounds on the weekend, so time should fly on by and then we’ll be back on our way to Seattle.”

    I nod. “Let’s hope.”

    We exit off the freeway, and with one more turn, we’re in the middle of the Strip. I look up at all the buildings and lights and listen to all the sounds. It’s all a little over-the top, but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? As over-the-top as it is, it’s also very mesmerizing. So mesmerizing, in fact, that I don’t notice when Eric turns off the street and into our hotel’s parking garage.

    “Here we are.”

    He drives up a few floors until we find an open parking spot, and he pulls the car into it. I step out and stretch—I’m finally relieved to be done with traveling today. We unload our suitcases from the trunk and head towards the lobby. As we check in, the representative behind the desk reminds us that there is a fitness center, pool, and hot tub on site and that a free breakfast is served every morning in the lobby.

    We make our way up to the room, which is on the top floor. As soon as we enter, Eric and I both stop dead in our tracks.

    There is only one king bed.

    He turns to me. “Shit. I’m sorry, Brad, I forgot to mention to them that we needed two beds when I made the reservation. Let me call down to see if they can move us to another room.” He walks over, picks up the phone, and dials zero. Someone on the other end answers, and Eric asks if any other rooms are available.

    Moments later, Eric thanks the person on the other end and hangs up. He looks over at me. “This was literally the last room they had left. It looks like we’re stuck with it. I hope that’s all right.”

    I shrug. “I don’t really mind. At least it has a king-size bed.”

    “Yeah, we’ll find a way to make it work.”

    I walk over to the window. “And we have a pretty nice view from the top floor.” And what a nice view it was. I can see all the other buildings on the Strip.

    Eric comes over to me and points out a few of the more famous landmarks. He then points at a much smaller building. “And if you look real closely, that’s the drive-thru wedding chapel where Lorna and I got married.”

    I bust out laughing, and he joins me. “I still can’t believe you can actually get married in a drive-thru.”

    “I know, right? It was so ridiculous, we just had to do it.”

    We spend a moment taking in all the lights and sights, then he turns around. “Come on; we should probably start unpacking before it gets too late.”

    “Good idea.”

    We lift our suitcases onto the bed, unzip them, and start moving clothes into the dresser drawers under the TV. We decide to split our use of each of the three drawers in half—I take the right half since that’s the side of the bed I’ll be sleeping on.

    As I’m unpacking my socks and underwear from my suitcase to the top drawer, he looks over. “Does your underwear have ‘Pump’ written on them?”

    I pick up and unfold the pair of underwear he’s talking about. “These? Yeah.”

    “Interesting. I’ve never heard of that brand before.”

    “I came across them at a shop in Seattle. I thought they looked cute and fun, so I just had to get them.”

    He chuckles. “I gotcha. I usually just get the cheap boxer briefs from the store.”

    We continue placing our clothes in the drawers, and he speaks up again. “So, you’re a briefs guy, eh?”

    “Yep. I love the way they feel and keep everything in place.”

    “That’s nice. I tried switching to briefs one year. I didn’t really like them.”

    “What made you want to switch?”

    “Well, I like the leggings of these,” he says, as he picks up and unfolds a pair of his boxer briefs to show me, “but one summer, they were just too hot. Too much fabric. I bought some briefs, but I really missed the leggings, and they were just uncomfortable overall.”

    “Have you ever tried trunks?”

    He tilts his head. “Like swimming trunks?”

    I chuckle. “No. Trunks are kind of like boxer briefs, but the legs are shorter.”

    “I haven’t come across anything like those before. Where would I even find them?”

    “The same place I got mine from. Tell you what, once we get back in town, let’s go there. They’ve got everything. You’re bound to find something you’ll like.”

    He thinks about it for a second. “All right, I’m game. You seem like the expert.”

    I laugh. “If you say so.”

    We finish unpacking. I turn to him, and he’s holding his swimsuit in his hands. “I don’t know about you, but I could really use a soak in the hot tub. You in?”

    I nod. “Hell yeah.” I fish around the dresser for my swimsuit and pull it out.

    “I can go change in the bathroom and you can get changed out here, if you want.”

    “Sure, that sounds good.”

    With that, Eric disappears into the bathroom. Damn, it would have been nice if he just changed right in front of me. God, I really need to get a hold of myself. I sit down on the bed and remove my socks and shoes, then take off my pants and underwear. I slip on my bathing suit.

    A few seconds later, the door to the bathroom cracks open. “Is it safe to come out?”

    “Yep.”

    Eric emerges from the bathroom. He’s wearing a somewhat plain, baggy bathing suit—it’s white and dark grey in a plaid pattern—but he does a great job pulling it off. I also wouldn’t mind if he literally did pull it off.

    He walks over to his suitcase and retrieves a pair of flip flops.

    I snap my fingers. “Damn, I forgot to pack some of those.”

    “I packed an extra pair; you want to borrow them?”

    “Sure, if you don’t mind.”

    “No problem at all.” He picks up the other pair of flip flops and sets them on the floor for me. I put them on.

    He grabs his key card. “Ready?”

    “Yeah.”

    I grab my key card, and we leave the room, make our way down the hallway, and step outside to the pool area.

    It feels absolutely fucking awesome out here. It’s much warmer than it is back in Seattle. Granted, it’s not as warm right now as it would be during the day, but it’s the perfect temperature for a dip in the hot tub.

    Both the pool and hot tub are outside. A glass railing surrounds the entire outside perimeter of the building, allowing an unobstructed view of the other buildings out in the distance.

    Eric and I have the whole rooftop to ourselves; surprisingly, no one else is out here. We walk up to the hot tub. He shakes a flip-flop off, dips a toe in, and smiles. “Just right.” He then walks over to a dial on the wall and turns it, causing the jets to start. Near the dial are stacks of towels; he grabs two and sets them on a nearby table. He then grasps the bottom of his shirt and lifts his hands, peeling it off and revealing a semi-hairy chest and torso. He’s in pretty good shape, too; there’s not too much definition to his pecs and abs—just the right amount. I feel my heart starting to race, so I take a few deep breaths to try to calm down.

    Eric folds his shirt and places it next to the towels on the table, then looks up at me. “You getting in?”

    “Yeah, of course.” I take my own shirt off, fold it, and place it next to his.

    We both get in and simultaneously let out long sighs. All the stress from worrying about getting here and training for the next two weeks seems to melt away into the hot water.

    Eric lifts his head up, opens his eyes, and looks at me. “What do you think so far?”

    “It’s nice! I’m having a pretty good time already.” I look up at the sky. “It’s a shame we can’t see any stars, though.”

    “Right, it’s so damn bright here. I don’t think I could ever live in Vegas. It would start to feel pretty isolating not being able to see the stars, you know?”

    I sigh. “Yeah.”

    “So, are there any places you want to visit while we’re here?”

    I shake my head. “Not really. I’m not sure what all there is to do. What would you recommend?”

    “I know a casino that has great blackjack tables.”

    “I don’t know; blackjack sounds kind of intimidating.”

    He smiles. “Don’t worry; I’ll teach you. It’s really easy to learn. And you’ll have some of the best odds against the house with that game.”

    “OK, I guess I could give it a shot.”

    “Awesome. Trust me, it’ll be fun. We can go there Saturday. It’ll be a nice reward for getting through our first week of training.”

    I nod my head in agreement.

    We spend the next several minutes in silence, letting the hot water work its magic. I lean my head back and close my eyes. Three months ago, when I got promoted to project manager, I didn’t imagine at all that I would be where I am now. The extra responsibilities do add a bit more pressure, but everyone I’ve talked with says I’ve been able to handle it superbly, and the perks of getting to travel to a different city and have my airfare and hotel paid for are so worth it.

    The water jets shut off, and I open my eyes. Eric glances at a nearby clock. “Another fifteen minutes?”

    “Sure.”

    Eric hoists himself up and out of the hot tub. His white swimsuit clings to his skin, revealing pretty much everything underneath, especially in the place where it counts. It’s hard to look away, but I focus my attention on some buildings in the distance so it doesn’t seem like I’m ogling him.

    He spins around, rises to his feet, walks over to the dial on the wall, and gives it another spin, starting the jets back up. I eye him as he walks back, but make sure to not stare too long. He gets in and sits back down, his shoulders and everything below immersed in the hot water.

    The next fifteen minutes are silent, except for the jets, of course. I alternate between looking out at the buildings in the distance and closing my eyes and imagining how the next two weeks are going to go. I’m really looking forward to this weekend, when I don’t have to focus on work. I’m excited to see what Eric has in store for me.

    Time goes by faster than I realize, and the jets shut off once more. I open my eyes and look at Eric. “I guess we should start heading inside now.”

    “Yeah, we’ve got a long day tomorrow.”

    Eric gets up and steps out first, and then I follow. He grabs both towels, handing one to me as I step out. “Thanks,” I say, as I take it from him. We both dry off and wrap the towels around our waists, then put our shirts back on. We slide the flip-flops back on our feet and head back inside to our room.

    We step inside, and I go toward the dresser to retrieve a shirt, pajamas, and a pair of briefs. “We should probably rinse off all the chlorine.”

    He rubs his towel under his armpits. “Yeah, that’s a good idea. You can go first, if you want.”

    “All right. I won’t be long.” I take my clothes to the bathroom and close the door. I turn on the water, and it’s not long before the water heats up to a good temperature. I take off my swimsuit and hang both it and my damp towel on a bar on the wall, then step inside the shower. It only takes a couple minutes, but I rinse out my hair and everything off my skin, turn the water off, then dry off with a fresh towel. I pull on my briefs, pajama pants, and shirt, then exit the bathroom.

    I call out, “Bathroom’s all yours,” and start getting ready to brush my teeth at the sink just outside the bathroom. As I’m brushing, I turn around and notice Eric has turned the TV on and tuned to a local news channel. I also notice Eric’s no longer wearing a shirt, and that his damp swimsuit is draped over the back of a chair. He does still have his towel wrapped around his waist though, unfortunately.

    “Thanks,” he says, as he walks past me. He closes the door, and I hear the shower start running. God, who did I have to kill to see what was on the other side of that door?

    I sit on the bed and try to get my mind off things. The anchors on TV are going over the current traffic and weather forecast—nothing out of the ordinary. I get up and grab the hotel guestbook to see what they have in the way of a fitness center; it looks like there’s a decent amount of equipment there. As long as I have time to work out in the morning, I should do it. I don’t want to get too lazy and not do my morning runs.

    I hear the water shut off, and a minute later, Eric emerges from the bathroom. He’s wearing the same shirt and pajama bottoms I saw him in at his house last weekend. And I’m not complaining one bit.

    He smiles. “Much better.”

    “Yeah. Score for getting a hotel with a hot tub.”

    “Definitely.” He pulls back the bedsheets and sits down on the left side of the bed.

    I put the guestbook back on the desk where I got it. “So, what time do we need to be at our client’s for training?”

    He quickly glances at the clock. “They want us there at eight. We’ll be meeting with Diane and Linda, the two women who came up to Seattle, first. They’ll go over the training schedule they want us to follow, and we’ll go from there.”

    “Eight, huh?”

    “Yeah, so we’ll have to get up a bit early, but we should have enough time to get breakfast here and not feel too rushed. If we get up around six, that should give us plenty of time.”

    “Do you mind if I set my alarm an hour before that? I want to go check out the fitness center.”

    “Yeah, I don’t mind, as long as you think you’ll get enough sleep tonight.”

    “I should be fine. Even if I wake up tired, working out will get my heart pumping and feeling energized.”

    “Sounds good. Well, in that case, we should hit the hay, you especially.”

    I shut off the TV. As he gets up and turns off all the lights in the room, I crawl under the sheets, set the alarm on my phone, and make myself comfortable.

    He brushes his teeth, and afterwards, joins me in bed. “You have enough room over there, Brad?”

    That is the problem; I have too much room. But it is probably for the best. “Yeah, I’m good.”

    “Awesome. Good night.”

    “Night, Eric. See you in the morning.”

    It’s been such a long day, I have no problem drifting off to sleep.
    Brad's Search - 100,000 (holy shit!) words and counting!

  30. #280
    JUB Addict Craiger's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Lead us not into temptation...... there seems to be a lot of temptation running about. Oddly enough, even king sized beds can shrink and things that happen in Vegas stay in Vegas. At least that's what they say. Great chapter, AG.

    Craiger

  31. #281
    HUGS! ;-)
    Kyanimal's Avatar
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    Re: Brad's Search

    This chapter brought back some memories ...

    Yes, I've flown into "Lost Wages".

    Yes, I've traveled, and shared rooms, with co-workers.

    Was never lucky enough to have the hotel reservation "screwed up" with just one bed.

    Interestingly enough, I did have an underwear discussion with one of my co-workers, while we were in New Orleans for a week. He was a runner, and bike rider, and liked compression boxer briefs. I was a briefs guy at the time. He even offered to let me try a pair of his.

    He was a somewhat naive, black haired, green eyed, cutie, maybe an inch taller than me. He was 23. I was 44. He had a 29" waist, and mine was a 34. There was NO way I was ever going to get into his shorts, literally.

    However, I often thought of getting into his pants. Never tried, though.

    Please keep writing, Buddy!
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

  32. #282
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    Re: Brad's Search

    Yes, please keep writing!!!!
    Friend
    "God is Good ... God and Chocolate is Better!" TofA

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