Jim dumped the file that he’d spent the last five house hours researching on his desk. When the top half of the papers nestled within it fell to the floor a second later he did nothing but continued to stand facing out the window, his thoughts far away.
He felt like such a fool. They had tried to tell him. Stephen, hell even his dad had gotten in on the act. All trying to warn him that Sandburg was bad news.
A grim smile quickly formed when he remembered how outraged Blair had been when he had security escort him off the premises earlier. The guy had balls, he’d have to give him that. Any of his exes knew better than to approach him when he was like this. It just went to show that Blair didn’t know him…
Blair paced restlessly outside the courtroom. The jury was still out. Who in the hell ever heard of a hung jury in a workman’s comp case? He took out his cell phone and checked for any missed calls. Hoping but not really expecting to see Jim’s. He knew he’d messed up but threatening him with a restraining order!? He was only trying to talk to the stubborn idiot. It’d been four days!!
Okay, so it was out of line to stand on the opposite side of the street and continue to talk since he knew that Jim could hear him. He had to explain. His cell phone ringing had startled him into silence. The burst of joy at hearing Jim’s voicing quickly dissipating when the normally warm voice informed him that if he did not leave then a restraining order would be filed on him for stalking.
If Jim had been in front of him at the moment he would have strangled him.
But he left. He’d had to get to court anyway for closing arguments. With one last baleful look up at Jim’s office building, he strode away.
Cynthia caught the cell phone that was unceremoniously dropped into her hands by her boss as he passed her desk. “Wha…?” was all she’d uttered before her question was answered.
“Go through and delete all the missed calls except for the last one.”
“But how do I know?” she stammered looking down in confusion at the screen, blanching at the text noting 218 missed calls.
“You’ll know.” Jim laughed without humor. “Leave only one missed call per number. No repeats. Got it?” he asked with more than a hint of impatience.
“Yes, sir.” Cynthia quickly erased any sign of doubt from her voice as well as her expression. This last week it was the only way she’d managed to keep this job. She’d thought all those rumors about mean, tight ass Ellison was just that—rumors. He’d been so nice these four months that he’d returned from abroad. His poor wife’s death. But now, she’d resorted to taking valium to get her through the day.
“I have the company phone, if you need me. Also make sure that the suite at the Tower Hotel is ready for guests. If this lunch with Tayaki goes well I might offer him the rooms for his stay here in Cascade,” Jim informed her before walking out the door.
Blair laughed into his wine
at the tale Romulo Feirulos, a.k.a. Fire as he came to be known on the runways
“…she looked down at her hand and it was covered with blonde hair. Cara’s of course. They both stood frozen and then started screeching at each other again.”
“What happened next?” Blair asked so caught up in the story that he took a bite of the lobster and scallop appetizer without thought.
“The seven minute warning sounded out and we all scattered. It turned out to be a blessing for Cara,” Romulo stated.
Blair nodded, “wasn’t that the year that she was the poster girl for the ‘noir 30’s’ revival that season.”
“With that wide brim Fedora hat that stage manager thrust over her head she became a star.”
“Do you miss it?”
Romulo laughed. “I’m so glad to be on the other side—making the clothes. It would be perfect if I still didn’t have to deal with models.”
The distaste on his face made
Blair chuckle, remembering how dramatic Romulo the teenager was back when his
mother first discovered him on the streets of San Paolo working at a dry
cleaner’s shop. His looks wasted until
Naomi had introduced him to the ‘fashion world.’ Only his mom would have exposed Romulo’s deepest desire.
Not to model but to design.
Although he’d been a big hit on the runways in
“Doing a fundraiser for your mother’s foundation…” he stated in a surprised tone.
“Oh crap,” Blair’s face coloured in embarrassment. He’d forgotten the fundraiser’s big gala was this weekend. He’d been too busy with this business with Jim to realize the date. Although he didn’t have much to do with the day to day business of the foundation, he still should have been making plans to put in an appearance.
No sign of his previous irritation showed in the charismatic voice and smiling face of Jim Ellison as he escorted Mr. Tayaki and his two associates through the four star restaurant located on the ground floor of the Tower Hotel. His good humour promptly faded however once he spotted the long curly hair. His eyes flashed with anger as they passed the table where said person was holding court and flirting with the drop dead—beautiful—there was no other way to describe the man who was sitting with Blair.
Jim didn’t know how he managed it but he got through the lunch with Tayaki. Ellison Enterprises even scored a very lucrative deal out of the meeting, but inside Jim stewed. Every once in a while he caught the tenor pitched laughter of Blair’s companion.
He wasn’t the only one keeping an eye on the table in the center of the room. The two striking looking men had the discreet attention of all of the women and quite a few of the men. Jim gritted his teeth at yet another example of how someone like Blair didn’t belong with him.
Blair with his exotic good looks and ebullient personality belonged with someone like pretty boy over there…. Jim stood up and shook hands with Mr. Tayaki and gave a nod to the other two men before subtly gesturing to Simon to take over and escort the men out.
He spoke quietly to their waiter while signing the receipt before rising and walking out, careful that his gaze never met Blair’s blue eyes when he passed.
“What’s his name, querido?” Romulo asked in a tender tone.
“Who?” Blair looked down as he spoke but his voice was superficially cheerful.
“The tall delicious pale grey suited gentlemen who you have yet to stop watching. Checking him out from the corner of your eyes while you eat is not that clever, nor original,” Rom informed him with a little laugh that drew the smiling attention of the ladies at a nearby table.
Blair shook his head. “Just a court case, the usual.”
“Honey, if that look steel eyes gave you was the usual then I’m going to law school!”
With a sigh, Blair finally admitted, “we’re…involved, I think—still—maybe not.” The uncertain expression on the normally joyful face of his dear friend saddened him, making him ask when he normally wouldn’t even bother to care. “Oh, amado, what happened?”
“Well, at least I can say this one lasted a month,” Blair stated with derision, “finally broke that two week rut, no pun intended.” Blair flashed a bitter smile before taking a long drink of wine. “It doesn’t really matter,” he dismissed.
“Blair Thomas. I have known you since your dias de enurese, your mother would never forgive me for allowing you to hurt like this without attempting to help.”
“I cheated, I didn’t but that’s what Jim thinks…” Blair shrugged.
“Jim,” Romulo thoughtfully murmured under his breath during the silent pause.
Blair exhaled a huge breath before continuing in a rush, “Okay, yes I kissed someone else—but they kissed me really. And nothing more happened, so why bother telling Jim when it was nothing. It was nothing and then—”
Romulo held up a hand, “wait Jim got upset because you were kissed by someone else and didn’t tell him?”
“Yeah, and I even told him about Patrick after the second time. We had this whole huge argument…”
“What?!,” Romulo demanded his brown eyes stern. “The bastardo! Second time?? That’s who you cheated with?!”
“I didn’t CHEAT!” Blair furiously whispered back with an anxious glance around at their surroundings. “I was confused. I thought I could control…”
Rom laughed aloud. “Control. Yes, that explains it. The little boxes that you like to keep separate. Me, your father, your work. All because of that bastardo!” Romulo nodded at the refusal he could see in Blair’s expression. “Yes, amado you were such a wonderful open child, even as a teenager. Secrets were not a part of your life until him. Yes, secrets you had to keep but not now. There is no reason. I never got between you and your father these past years. Your father is a hard man, I know yes, but despite his rigid beliefs he always treated me with the utmost respect, sí in honor of your mother. Your mother who never kept secrets.” He reached over and took Blair’s left hand in his own.
“All she ever hoped for was your happiness. Secrets and happiness do not go together…”
Blair squeezed Romulo’s hand, the anger that had been building within him floated away with the gesture. “Thank you.”
“You cannot control love, amado. No matter how much you try.”
Blair’s response was a sad sigh accompanied by a soft chuckle. “I have some apologizing to do.”
Romulo nodded once. “Call me later.”
Blair was almost out of the restaurant when a waiter stopped him and handed him a note with three written words. Royal Penthouse Suite.
Blair was almost to the private elevator to the penthouse when he was unceremoniously grabbed and pulled around the corner into the elevator. “Jim?! What’s—” the rest was cut off by a mouth and a familiar tongue sliding against his own. His right hand instinctively reached up to rest against the nape of Jim’s neck as he moaned into the kiss.
He was distantly aware of the hands caressing him, and clothes becoming wrinkled and untucked. The first touch of skin against skin made him gasp and he pulled his mouth away for a breath. “Jim.”
“If you want this, not a word.” Steel eyes bore down into his, as the elevator doors opened behind him.
Although slightly taken back at the chill the words provoked, the blood rushing through his veins and the insistent erection thrusting against his own made him nod yes. There was really no other possible answer given the lust that roared forward at the sight of Jim’s naked chest, his shirt already hanging halfway off.
His face flushed with heat when Jim licked up the left side of his throat like a big cat. The hot breath against his ear made his knees weaken so that he had to clutch Jim’s arms to keep from falling as he was slowly, seemingly rhythmically backed into the suite to the soundtrack of his own heartbeat.
The back of his knees barely touched something before he was laid down on a bed, the delicious feel of Jim making him sink even lower into desire.
Blair raised his hips up and cool air danced along legs as the tortuous pants were slid down and off along with his boxers. Heat soon replaced them. His legs falling open in welcome to the body now nestled between them. He slid his hands under the shirt up across Jim’s back as he kissed him. One hand slid around to the front to caress the taut stomach before reaching down the unfastened pants to encircle a hot length.
Jim’s resulting moan into his chest only made the joyful lust dizzying across his senses soar even higher. The mouth suckling at his nipples distractful enough that the feel of latex pressing against him became merely one of a myriad of delightful feelings dancing across his skin. His legs raising up to cross behind the slippery back at the first thrust.
He bit his lip and looked up at the strong chiseled face to meet Jim’s eyes, disappointed that they were closed. Blair’s eyes closed at the next thrust, his back arching as his prostate was stimulated. His breath speeded up in time to the thrusts, the soft grunt like sounds that fell from Jim’s mouth made him want to push back against the inflexible grip on his hips that was pressing him down to the mattress. That wish soon lost in the haze of lust as his prostate continued to hum pleasure up his spine with each delicious irresistible plunge.
His hands clenched on Jim’s waist as he came with a half scream, his mouth muffled against Jim’s chest. Blair fell back, his eyelids heavy as he looked up and smiled. Light blue eyes meeting his for a millisecond before his mouth was claimed again, as his arms reached up to embrace Jim’s neck and head. Blair laughed softly under his breath at the feel of Jim’s slacks brushing against his inner thighs with each thrust. He dropped his legs back down to the mattress but they were caught and held up by Jim’s hands. The new position forced him back, his legs spread wide and high. The changed angle and continued thrusting made his satiated dick twitch to his surprise. A groan and one deep thrust later and Jim’s comfortable weight rested beside him. The muscular chest moving the bed with each ragged breath.
Blair turned on his side facing Jim. His eyes tracing over Jim’s familiar profile noting that he was already on the short journey to sleep. With a soft smile Blair decided to join him.
Within seconds of waking up, Blair knew he was alone on the bed, but that didn’t stop him from grinning. He laid there and basked in the splendid lethargy that permeated his body. After a few moments he began to wonder where Jim was because he hadn’t heard a sound since waking. He smiled as he pictured Jim being extra quiet in the outer room in deference to him. He rose and slipped on his shirt but didn’t bother with anything else. Jim loved it when all he wore was a shirt.
Blair was definitely up for a second round after they talked. The joy that danced through his soul upon waking didn’t begin to fade until he walked, still clothed only in his dress shirt, through one luxurious room after another with no sign of James Ellison. No clothes, no curtain, no card, no note, not even a damn cufflink!
Only a used tied off condom in the trashcan by the bed was confirmation that what had transpired earlier wasn’t a dream.
How the hell could he just leave?! No note, no voice mail—he’d already checked the cell phone he’d found lying in the living room. Leave him alone like he was some kind of—Oh god!
Bile rose in the back of his throat which he quickly gulped down as he furiously got dressed, his hands shaking in rage.
Jim paced up and down the length of his office. His thoughts not on the Entiat plant that was going to be retrofitted to make auto parts for Tayaki—keeping 1300 people employed and the town alive.
No his thoughts were still on the man he’d left sleeping on a hotel bed like a common lay. Although his earlier anger had bled away somewhat all he had to do was remember Blair in Hadley’s arms for his hands to automatically clench down at his sides and the rage flood back to colour his vision. If Blair even felt a sliver of the hurt and pain he’d felt….was still feeling at the lies.
Of course the image would then switch from Hadley and Blair to Blair and that guy at the restaurant. Another close friend—something Blair had so many of that he was losing track. The contrast between their two lives was never so readily apparent.
Even before Carolyn became ill, they were not enthusiastically social—well he wasn’t.
He looked down at the cell phone that was clenched in right hand. Still no calls. Blair would have woken up by now. He’d been expecting an angry phone call or visit. Cynthia and Security had been both been alerted on his way in to allow him automatically entry to the building and his office, respectively.
Jim had fully expected to find Blair storming through the doors but there had been nothing. No word.
His first instinct was to drive over to Ellison Inc. and kill its CEO. Dad had one of the top criminal lawyers in the country at the firm. He’d get away with it.
Instead hours passed and he was still driving around Cascade, making little stops here and there, trying not to think but being wildly unsuccessful.
Blair couldn’t really blame Jim. He could see him doing something similar in Jim’s place. He’d hurt Jim and he’d responded by hurting him back. It was understandable. Understanding however did not equate with no retaliation. No he already had something in place that would teach James Ellison not to mess with Blair Thomas Sandburg Windhom.
He pulled up in front of the building he’d once whimsically called home.
It took a long while for someone to answer the buzz from the call button.
“Patrick, it’s me.”
Blair returned the hug without thought, moving past the other man into the apartment. Memories flashed before his eyes no matter where he rested his eyes. Patrick smirking down at him before the fireplace…him lying on the couch with Patrick’s arms surrounding him…Patrick yelling at him…
He turned toward the blond completely unaware of whatever he’d said.
“I knew you’d show up.”
A sound of amusement escaped him at the arrogance as Blair turned and smiled without censure. “Patrick.”
Patrick smiled widened and he took a step closer his arms outstretched. His entire demeanour was confident and proud, with his eyes darkening in desire as they focused on his mouth. For a second Blair thought about it. It would hurt Jim if he slept with Patrick. Perfect revenge for the hotel—even if he never found out.
He turned away from the kiss with a gentle push against familiar arms. Blair stepped back. A hand reached up to tenderly brush through the blond hair and caress down the handsome face. “I do still feel for you,” he began while he looked up into the dazzling green eyes, “but I don’t want anything more from you.”
The smile faltered at the words.
“It’s too late.”
The words were spoken in barely more than a whisper but reverberated throughout the silence of the room.
Patrick stared for a long moment at him. “….it’s what you wanted—”
Blair cupped Patrick’s face in his palms and sighed. “Not anymore.” He reached up and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. “Goodbye,” he spoke into the warm skin and stepped back. He turned and walked through the door for the last time.
“Stop fidgeting!” Romulo slapped the hands that were once again rising to fuss at the upraised collar.
“I should’ve never let you talk me into this—my suit was fine.”
Romulo snorted. “Retro is so over,” he dryly stated while looking over the crowd. It was a nice turnout and it wasn’t even eight yet. “I could never live with myself nor with your mother looking down upon us if I had allowed you to wear that outdated…”
“Classic,” Blair interjected while he nodded and shook the hand of a man who’d just entered. It wasn’t somebody he recognized. Hell, almost all of the people who’d he’d greeted so far were new. All the regular attendees to the annual gala knew that the real entertainment didn’t begin until nine. Not that he knew what was on the schedule this year. His father, the official host, was the organizer although he’d been sent the program weeks ago. He dimly remembered glancing over it but couldn’t recall any details.
“I think you’re wanted,” Romulo murmured.
Blair glanced across the room and spotted his father looking fixedly in his direction. “I’m going in.”
Romulo laughed at the tense stance of Blair’s shoulders as he strode determinedly into ‘battle’ with the Cascade elite.
Jim looked down at the wrinkled program in his hand. It was like being at a fair, with so many attractions that you needed a map. He didn’t remember the Rainlight Gala he’d attended years ago being quite like this. The mini-fashion show had ended a little while ago, with the models now walking around amidst the party guests in their flowing outfits. Outside in the courtyard, there was a stage where various plays were being performed while those who were more interested in quiet were welcomed to tour the Impressionist gallery of the museum which was open sans the usual clothed ropes guarding the priceless works of art from sticky fingers.
He was looking at a painting titled “The Japanese Footbridge” when the silence was broken by two men entering the hall.
“You’ve done a great job, Fire,” the shorter man stated as he gazed out one of the archways that overlooked the main room from the gallery.
Fire referred to the man that Jim had seen eating lunch with Blair at the Tower Hotel, the afternoon he lost his mind to jealousy. It hadn’t even been towards the man who he now knew was a former model. His mind kept flashing back to Blair and Hadley—wondering about all the times they’d been together…
“Windhom did most of the work,” Fire replied.
The other man gave a small snort of laughter before taking a sip of champagne. “He must have loved Naomi very much,” he commented.
“As we all did,” Romulo murmured with his gaze also out toward the main room.
“I can’t believe his energy!”
Romulo laughed, “that hasn’t changed either. Joy is his natural state of being.”
Jim knew they were talking about Blair. He himself had been astounded at the aura of happiness that seemed to surround his lover. Laughter and smiles freely given to those around him easily and without thought by a man who should by nature of his profession and circumstances be the exact opposite.
More like him.
It had been two days since the Tower incident and there had been nothing.
Only silence that had sunk into his gut with all the subtlety of a sledge hammer. All calls to Blair’s cell phone directed to voice mail and those to the office where fielded expertly by a professional answering service.
When he did get through the maze, all he reached was Margaret who replied to his inquiries with frost veiled politeness that set his teeth on edge. Yes he’d fucked up again, and this time forgiveness didn’t appear to be in the cards, which is why for the first time in nine years he found himself attending the Rainlight Gala. The annual fundraiser for the exploited and abused children of Cascade that Naomi Sandburg Windhom had founded twenty five years ago.
Former recipients of the foundation walked amidst the highbrow guests giving faces to the hundreds of children that had been given safe haven from the streets. To Jim’s surprise one of them turned out to be the Deputy Mayor of Cascade.
“I hear congratulations are in order,” the man with Romulo said.
“In June, with the new ruling he finally said yes.”
“What?? Finally, it’s been what ten years, no?”
“Fourteen,” Romulo replied.
Jim followed the two men’s passage into the main room. His stance softening as he spotted Blair dancing elegantly with a ten year old little girl in a red dress. Laughter exploded from those around them when a man, presumably the girl’s father, cut in to dance with her while Romulo flamboyantly twirled Blair away towards him as they waltzed away.
He watched as Blair matched the steps of the tall good-looking designer with ease until he couldn’t stand it any longer.
“May I have this dance?” Jim asked Blair.
Startled blue eyes met his for a second before darkening with anger. “No, I’m sitting this one out.” Blair took off toward the nearest exit with Jim following.
Blair had known that Jim would show up. He’d made it a point to check the RSVP list for the gala that morning, and was not at all surprised to find that James Ellison was on the guest list. Three days of no contact had probably driven the businessman insane. A very unpleasant smile formed on his face as he thought of Jim’s reaction to the new answering service (something Maggie had been badgering him to use for several months now).
The smile transformed into more of a smirk when he turned to face the man who walked into the room.
“I,” Jim began after an awkward pause, “the night seems to be going well…”
Blair nodded. “We’ve already met our annual budget. Any further funds will go to building another group home—.”
Jim held up his hand cutting off the same polite money seeking spiel that he’d overhead his lover give to more than a dozen of the patrons during the course of the evening. “Ellison Enterprises already has contributed.”
Blair raised his eyebrows in response, but said nothing.
The silence coupled with Blair’s expression only served to make Jim more nervous and guilt ridden. “I didn’t mean—.”
“Didn’t mean, what? To treat me like trash! Like some fuck you picked up for a one night stand!”
“No, of course not,” Jim soothed. “After Hadley when I saw you with that man…”
“Romulo? It was lunch, Jim. What is your deal with jealousy, man!?”
“Can you really blame me?! The first time I met you, you were trolling for a date.”
Date, of course meaning sex from Jim’s damning tone. Blair growled. There was no other way to describe the sound that emerged from his mouth. “You’re impossible!!”
“And you’re a liar!!!”
“I told you about Patrick!”
“Patrick,” Jim began sarcastically,” no last name…how convenient. Seems like you were setting up your defense in advance, counselor.”
“Okay, I lied by omission. I’ll give you that,” Blair began in a reasonable tone.
“What about everything else you conveniently left out…kissing—the sex!!!”
“There was no sex!!! I told you,” Blair shouted, all attempts at reasoning with the irate man thrown to the wind, his own anger barely contained.
“And I’m supposed to believe you! Why!! Why should I?!” Jim stood in his familiar stance with arms folded patronizingly across his chest like a stern father.
“Because I love you, you idiot!!! I love you!! Do you think I would have let you pull what you did at the Tower otherwise? “
Jim was silent, his expression contemplative for the moment.
“I know I messed up.” Blair’s voice softened. “I let my fear of the past, wreck my future—our future.” Blair took a step towards Jim. “There’s no one else for me. I want you and only you.”
“And what was all this?? Some sort of test?” Jim demanded.
“Yes, No. I don’t know. I was confused, but it’s over. Patrick will not be bothering us anymore. He understands.”
“What?” Jim asked in a belligerent tone.
“That there is no one else for me but you.”
Dark blue eyes filled with emotion met light blue for several seconds.
“So you love me, eh?” Jim commented as he reached up to brush the wayward curl out of Blair’s eyes. “I’m sorry about the Tower. Seeing you and Hadley together—it kept going through my mind and…”
Blair gently pressed a finger against Jim’s lips to stop him speaking. “It’s okay. I hurt you.” Understanding tempered his anger, the level of one a tell-tale to the other. Jim’s feeling of betrayal must have been immense. “I am sorry.”
Jim sighed, his arms tightening around the man. “Let’s chalk it up to a mutual misunderstanding, shall we?”
Blair grinned. “That’ll work.” His expression brightened. “Hey, this is a party, remember? Have you been outside in the courtyard? Dad says that the trapeze performers are fantastic! Romulo designed the outfits…”
Uneasiness flared for a millisecond in Jim’s eyes before transforming into amusement as he followed the talkative man out into the courtyard.
Author Notes: This story is shorter than my usual but it served its purpose. Jim and Blair are back together. There will probably be an interlude of one scene posted which will be from Patrick Hadley’s POV but it won’t be too soon. However, for all intents and purposes Hadley is out of the Blair/Jim romance. In the next story, jealousy rears its ugly head in both Jim and Blair even as they settle into being a couple.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed the story or want to see more in this series please give feedback.