After lunch Mac gave Alex the directions to Mike's house, and a crash course on how to operate the electric car. Alex showered and dressed for the evening. He headed the cart in the direction Mac had given him. Ten minutes later the road ended at the circular drive leading to a beautifully landscaped estate with a large three story mansion sitting on a rise in the center of the grounds. He parked the cart and walked up the steps onto the front terrace that ran the length of the house. A Chinese house servant said, "Good afternoon Mr. Savage, the boss is expecting you." Alex followed him down a long hall into the den where Mike was working.
Mike greeted Alex and shook his hand, "I'm glad you were able to get away. Now we can relax and have a long talk."
"This house is absolutely beautiful," Alex said. "Is this one of the perks working for MacDonald-Stevens?"
"No, this is my home," Mike said. "It was my wedding present from Karl."
"You're putting me on! You and Karl Landsdorf are married?"
"That's right. Karl is a wonderful person and we are very happy. We've been married for three years. I came out while I was with the agency and they forced me to resign. I was on the job market for six months before Mac hired me. Since that day, my career has been a series of triumphs. Today I'm president of the Security and Intelligence Division and sit on the board of Mac's corporation. Of course Mac made it possible for me to move up the corporate ladder. He saw my potential and gave me the opportunity to grow. Mac and Drew Stevens, are two of the finest people you will ever meet in your lifetime, believe me. Mac is more than smart, he is brilliant, and every man in our company would go to the wall for him, if he asked."
"I want you to know that Terry and I are married, Mike."
"So now you've become a member of our exclusive fraternity. That's interesting."
Alex brought Mike up to date on his life since the last time they meet.
"Mac and I had a long chat this morning after our workout. He asked me if you knew I was gay." Alex related the conversation he had with Mac. "Now that I know the score, I understand the reason for his question and why he suggested I spend some time with you this afternoon."
"Mac hired me when I was at the lowest point in my life. He saw my potential and encouraged me to take on jobs I never thought I could handle. I never questioned his judgment. With his encouragement, I took the bull by the horns and plunged ahead. He made me his executive assistant and taught me everything I needed to know. He was very patient and understanding, yet a tough taskmaster. I learned a lot from him. I even found the time to earn my MBA.
"I've missed that rapport we had working together," Mike said. "You can't imagine what it's like to work with a man like Mac until you have experienced it first hand. His brain is better than any computer. Not only is he logical, he is perceptive as well. I've seen him take the most complex problem and break it down into manageable terms. Not only that, he will explain the how and why and make sure you understand before you move on.
"A perfect example is this new construction division he just formed with Terry. He had that deal put together in two days. I'm willing to bet you he knows every paragraph and clause in that contract. I'll also bet you that Terry will be singing his praises before very long. Mac is enthusiastic about a project he believes in and passes that enthusiasm on to you.
"If Mac invites you to attend the board meeting on Monday, by all means go. It will be a learning experience you will never forget. Did you know that the Stevens and the Harcourt families are closely tied together? Mac and the Harcourt's are talking about a joint venture deal right now.
"Terry made a smart move accepting Mac's offer. One thing for sure, Terry's found a business partner he can trust and one he can depend on when the going gets rough."
"Mac sounds too good to be true. Everyone loves the guy. What is it with him? You, Kim, and Lance adore the guy."
"Mac would be embarrassed if he heard that," Mike said. "We all admire Mac, no question about that. He is a sincere, down-to-earth man who genuinely cares for people and will do anything in the world for you if he likes you. He's a patient man; I've only seen him angry twice in all the years I've known him. In both cases he was justified. He can be a formidable avenger. God help any man foolish enough to threaten his family or friends."
"Tell me about Karl and how you two got together," Alex asked. "I must admit he is a handsome guy. They build them big where he comes from. He could snap you like a pencil. Where do these giants like Karl and Mac come from anyway?"
"Both Karl and Mac worked on a farm in their younger days. Mac of course was born on a farm. Karl picked it up after college. He was into bodybuilding as a kid and kept himself in shape. We all try to workout every day to stay in shape. Of course I still have to work out at least two hours every day to maintain my competitive edge in my martial arts training.
"I met Karl on my first posting to Paris. Mac had sent me over as division manager of the International Security Division. I worked as the liaison for the new international security and protection group that Mac had formed. Philippe Mornaine owned the European protection business and MacDonald-Stevens had the U.S. market. I was to work with Philippe until I learned the business and set up the same system in the U.S. Karl and Philippe were a couple at the time.
"Then out of the blue Philippe developed cancer and had to cut back on his workload. Mac talked Philippe into selling his company to him when his health began to deteriorate. Philippe's main concern at the time was for Karl's safety. His firm was responsible for protecting Karl. Philippe felt he couldn't keep up with his treatments and protect Karl too. Philippe made Mac promise that the firm would continue to protect Karl, or there was no deal. You see they had been lovers since Philippe rescued him from a gang of kidnappers several years back.
"Mac turned the job over to me. So my first priority was to protect Karl in addition to my job of running his business. Philippe insisted that I move in with them. They had a large comfortable apartment in Paris. Living with them made my job easier -- that is until I got to know Karl. I felt the chemistry between us from that first handshake. That was not a good situation for me.
"After a while I had to get out of that situation. I told them I was moving out as soon as I found my own apartment. Philippe got angry and complained to Mac. He wanted me on the job and resented me turning the job over to another team. Mac asked me to stick it out for as long as I could. Naturally, I wasn't about to let Mac down and jeopardize the deal for the company. This was business and I had to act like a professional and keep my personal feelings in check. Fortunately we were so busy in those first six months that I didn't have time to think about Karl. After working all day with Philippe, I'd spend my evening hours writing an operations manual.
"At the same time Mac was anxious to follow-up with Karl on his exploratory conversations about forming a new division on international communications. Of course, I had to investigate Karl, his clients, and company before making any overtures to Karl. Mac encouraged me to be supportive of Karl in dealing with Philippe's illness. As it turned out, Philippe's remission was short-lived. His cancer returned, this time it was much more aggressive. He was admitted to the hospital for further treatments and died three weeks later.
"Karl was undergoing therapy for depression, and demanded more of my time. He was depressed and wanted me to stick around every evening to keep him company. I broke my own rule, and did as he asked. Karl was fascinating and never wasted his time discussing mundane subjects. He always liked to discuss theoretical aspects of politics, religion and the future of the United States. He was knowledgeable when it came to abstract theory of finance or computers, or anything other than human nature. Karl's problem was his inability to communicate with the average person. When we discussed subjects at that level, he was completely off base in his conclusions. One night after several drinks, I finally told him what I really thought about his ivory tower approach. He took it rather badly and was hurt. After that evening, he became aloof, thus ending our sessions. I had mixed emotions; on the one hand, I was glad I didn't have to waste my time on unproductive nonsense, yet I missed spending time with him.
"We continued to eat dinner together and remained civil to each other, but that was it. He was impossible at times and became angry if I assigned another man to take over for me. God forbid if I was late for dinner. It had turned into an unpleasant assignment. Finally I couldn't take it any longer. I told Karl I was moving out and assigning another man to stay with him.
"Karl apologized for his behavior and pleaded with me to stay. Fortunately, Mac needed me in New York on a special assignment. I postponed my decision until my return to Paris. If the situation didn't improve after I returned, I planned to move out.
"Naturally, I discussed this whole situation with Mac. I was getting myself into the same old rut again. Mac wanted to know the real reason for moving out on Karl. I certainly didn't want my actions to jeopardize any ongoing deal he had with Karl.
"Mac told me that my feelings were more important to him than any deal he would make with Karl. He was happy with my progress in Europe and wanted me to make haste in relocating back to New York.
"That next night I had dinner with Mac and Drew. He thanked me for my help on this special assignment then shocked the hell out of me. He told me that he was making me president of the security division. In addition, he wanted me find a manager to run the European operations because he was transferring me back to New York in three months. He had me select my office at the new headquarters building at the Retreat.
"Mac got a kick out of watching my stunned reaction. If that wasn't enough, he asked me to select an office for Karl at the same time because he would be returning at the same time. I sat there with my mouth open like a dummy while this wonderful news sank in. My first reaction was one of disbelief. I could not believe what I was hearing. I thanked him for everything.
"When I returned to Karl's apartment in Paris he was waiting for me in the living room. Karl's attitude had completely changed toward me. He was charming and insisted that we have dinner at home instead of eating out as I had planned. It turned out to be the most enjoyable evening I had ever spent with Karl. I suppose I was more relaxed now knowing that my future was assured with the company. After dinner I joined Karl in the living room for a nightcap. He began to delve into my private life, which I really didn't appreciate. I thought, `here we go again', back to the same old Karl.
"I was absolutely stunned when he told me that he was infatuated with me and had been for sometime. He missed me terribly while I was away. I could not believe my ears. The next thing I knew, I was in his arms and he was kissing me. I never knew anyone could feel this good. The chemistry was there and we both knew it.
"Karl is the most tender and lovable man I have ever known in my life. He is generous to a fault and a wonderful father to my children. They love him as much as I do.
"He gave me a villa on Paradise Island for my engagement present and this house as a wedding gift. Karl is a beautiful person, from the inside out. He owns homes and cattle farms all over the place. We have not had time to visit them all. You know something, Alex; I really have no desire to visit the places that he and Philippe lived in anyway. Our life together has been one wonderful day after another. I've always felt that Mac had a hand in getting the two of us together."
"It's obvious that married life agrees with you," Alex said. "I've never seen you happier. I wish you both a long and happy life together.
"I can never thank you enough for putting me in touch with Mac. You were the first one I thought of when Terry ran into this bind. I never thought you were a miracle worker."
"I'm glad it turned out the way it did. Terry seems to be the ideal guy for you, I hope you are gentle with him and don't play any of your mind games on him."
"Terry is the one for me and I'm going to treat him very special. One thing for sure, I'm not going to let him get screwed by another Cartel. I've seen him in action and have worked closely with him now for six months and he is a smart businessman.
"You made a remark before that I found to be true in my case. You said that you knew the chemistry was there the first time you met Karl," Alex said.
"I wonder if he felt the same for you at the time."
"It's funny you brought that up, because I asked him the same question," Mike said.
"Karl said he remembered being attracted to me, but he attributed that to the fact that I was about to take over Philippe's company. He said he was in emotional turmoil because of Philippe's illness. He did admit that he thought I was sexy and had a great body."
"I knew Terry was going to be my lover on our first date. All he needed was a little shove," Alex said. "No way was I going let him slip away. That's when I played my harmless mind game on him. I knew it would only be a matter of time with him. And don't think it was easy keeping him at bay, because I wanted to make love to him. He told me he wanted to have sex that first weekend, but I wanted to break that pattern in him.
"We had been living and working together for almost five months before he told me he loved me. I've never been happier with anyone than I am with Terry."
"That's great! I guess we both got lucky."
"From what I can gather, Karl is not a poor man," Alex said. Is he a whiz in the stock market or what, he doesn't look that old to have earned his money the old-fashioned way?"
"Just between us," Mike said.
"You got it buddy."
"I'm surprised you've never heard of the Landsdorf name before. His family's name appears in society pages now and again," Mike said. "Karl happens to be the last of the line. His trust fund was turned over to him some time ago. He's one of the super-rich. The ten million he gave me to build this house is petty cash for him. I have to be careful what I say around him because if I mention anything I like, he buys it for me. I've asked him to stop spoiling me so much. But he just laughs and ignores me," Mike said. "I've given up and let him have his fun. He is generous with his money and supports several charities.
"He was a major contributor to Mac's and Drew's private school foundation because he wants to make sure our kids get in when they're old enough. I want him to have children, but he has not made up his mind yet. Look, my only desire is to keep him happy for now. Karl has set up trust funds for our children, they are set for life.
"You know I will never understand the European mind," Mike said. "Karl is monogamous and had confessed to me that he suspected that Philippe was running around. Mind you, Philippe professed he only loved Karl. Yet to him love and sex are two different things. Karl was so hurt when he found that out that it took months of therapy to get over the emotional shock. He finally approached Philippe and told him it was over if he had sex with another person. Philippe thought he was being unreasonable, yet he took the blood test to please Karl. No matter what, he was deeply in love with Karl and did not want to lose him. Their marriage continued, but for Karl the relationship was never the same again. It was not long after that that Philippe developed leukemia.
"Karl and I have been married for some time now and he is everything I ever wanted in a spouse. He is considerate, affectionate and a delightful companion. I never thought married life could be so wonderful. He loves my children as much as I do. We both enjoy our home and the children. We are one happy family. We have a full life together. Karl looks like a giant next to me but I have never know a more gentle or loving person.
"Well my friend, it's time for me to start preparing for my special feast for tonight," Mike said. "Karl and the children are visiting his folks this afternoon and they should be home any time now. At least you have a chance to get acquainted before everyone arrives."
"Well this has been quite a day. From now on I'll never be surprised at anything that happens in this life," Terry said. "Mike and Karl are gracious hosts and an interesting couple. It's hard to believe they're gay, they act so straight-arrow."
"It was an unusual day for me too," Alex said. "This afternoon was the first time Mike ever opened up to me about his private life. He was always the ultimate professional in the spook business and the best team leader I ever worked with. He was a tough taskmaster and I respected him for his abilities." Alex repeated the conversation he had with Mike.
"He certainly had a stormy life until he joined Mac's company," Terry said. "It's hard to believe that these young men are so wealthy. Karl looks like the all American farm boy and I find this a little mind boggling. Here I thought I was well off. You know I could develop an inferiority complex around these guys."
"Don't reproach yourself because of their wealth," Alex said. "I think you have accomplished much more. You started with zero and became a self-made millionaire. Both Mac and Karl were handed their millions.
"It's easy to see why Mike is so loyal to Mac," Alex said. "Did you know Mac promised Mike that he would make him a wealthy man if he stayed with him? Now he is a multi-millionaire.
"Mike told me that Mac will work eighteen hour days for weeks without stopping if Drew would let him. Drew called a halt to that and will only allow him to work a ten hour day and absolutely no weekends.
"Now tell me how your meeting went this afternoon."
"Everything you heard about this man is true," Terry said. "You'll have a chance to observe him in action yourself Monday morning. He requested that you attend the board meeting. It seems you made a big hit with his son and that's very important to Mac.
"There's no doubt that Mac is the brains behind MacDonald-Stevens. Drew and I sat there and listened to him as he unfolded his ambitious plan for the future of his South American petrochemical operation. His plan is one of genius. I was so engrossed in what he had to say, I was unaware that he had spoken for two solid hours. Here is a man barely in his thirties laying out a complex interlocking multibillion dollar project as if it were a simple little task. The plan is ingenious. I have absolutely no doubts that it will work. He even covered all contingency plans and where we could expect to encounter some resistance and how he expected to counter any objections. Don't misunderstand me, Drew Stevens is no slouch, but Mac has the vision. They are a unique team. Mac is the strategist and Drew makes it work. His job is to study every aspect of the project and handle the financial end of it. The wonderful thing about Mac is his complete openness. He welcomes any suggestions to improving the plan.
"The remainder of the afternoon was spent going over my contract and the contract he put together to take control of the Cartel's project. That is a masterpiece in itself. He is really making that bunch of losers a fair settlement. If they don't accept, he's ready to use force to cut them out. That was the first time I realized how tough minded he can be.
"I'm very pleased we have agreed to join him; you can't help but admire the man for his talent."
"I'm glad it has worked out for you," Alex said. "I hate to say it baby, but I told you not to worry. You see everything has worked out for us. Don't you realize I'm your good luck charm?"
Terry walked over to Alex, took him in his arms, and kissed him tenderly, "You're a lot more than my lucky charm, and you are my spouse". He undressed Alex and kissed his naked body. He removed his own clothes, took Alex in his arms again, and kissed him on his ears, neck and finally his lips. "My Mister Wonderful my beautiful Alex. You have unlocked my heart and taught me how to love. You're the most wonderful thing that has happened in my life. You have made my life exciting and have brightened every day with your warmth and companionship. You're my champion, my best friend and I will love you until the day I die." The two men went to bed and made love.
"I love you Terry and plan to spend the rest of my life making you happy," Alex said. "It has taken me this long to find you, but you were worth the long wait. We have a good marriage and I know it will stand the test of time. I've felt this way about us from the beginning and nothing has changed to cause me to think otherwise." He kissed Terry, "Goodnight my love." He laid his head next to Terry's and was asleep in a matter of minutes.
Terry grinned; he was amazed at how quickly Alex could fall asleep. 'I'm content with having Alex next to me. I love this beautiful man and I know I have the best looking lover, bar none.' He kissed him again and drifted off to a deep sleep.