Family & Friends Series

Jarv & Todd

& By Ron Robbins,
edited by Frank Perry

2008 All rights reserved

Part Three

Election Preparations


The month of October was pure hell for everyone connected with the campaign. It was an exhausting month, yet everyone felt confident that Gil was going to win. The last week for Todd was a matter of being six places at once. He was exhausted and working on his reserve energy. He was lucky to catch five hours of sleep a night. Gil was showing up at every possible watering hole to pump hands and ask for support. He hit the Malls, the American Legion Post, and the local college. He even presented the awards to the winners at the Drag races; you name it and Gil was there shaking hands. He gave so many speeches that his voice was showing the strain. His TV spots were on every network and radio station. When election morning arrived the entire team voted early and went to bed to sleep the entire day.

Todd stopped by the plantation to check on Gil, but he was still sleeping. He headed to the Democratic Headquarters to manage the election tabulations for his candidate. The exit polls indicated that Gil was the winner. By nine P.M. Gil was declared the winner by a three to one margin. His Republican opponent conceded by ten. Gil was at the platform giving his little victory speech and thanked all the untiring folks that worked on the campaign. He complimented his opponent for running a clean campaign. Then it was over for Gil. He found Todd in the crowd of well-wishers.

"I'm going to make my excuses and get out of here; stick with me," Gil said. "I owe you a drink." They left headquarters and drove to the plantation where Gil's close friends and family were gathered to celebrate the victory. Gil stopped the car before reaching the house.

"Thanks for getting me elected," Gil said. "You are a competent professional and it was a pleasure working with you. Tomorrow is going to be a big let down for us both, but at least we can resume our normal lives. What are your plans now?"

"I plan to stay at The Moorings for the rest of the week and head back to Atlanta Sunday. If you're free for tennis, or want to hang out, I'm available." Todd smiled. "Just for the record, Gil, I'm going to miss you. If you weren't already married, I'd make a play for you. But alas, I decided to stay away from married men from now on."

Gil laughed heartily, "That's comforting to know. If you get serious about anyone, I want to meet the guy. You may be the smartest marketer in the business, but you sure are lacking good judgment when it comes to picking a mate."

Todd chuckled, "I'm glad we had this little talk, but we must stop meeting like this or people will start to talk. How about you getting this chariot moving before it turns into a pumpkin."

Gil shook his head and smiled as he drove on to the house.

"How about tennis tomorrow?" Gil asked.

"I'll be too tired, and they are forecasting warm weather for the next few days. How about spending the day on the boat. You can impress me with your superior knowledge of Lake Altoona. Whereas, yours truly, will lay out on the deck and sun myself. I'll have Chin Lee fix us a lunch as we plunge into our letdown together."

"Sounds great, see you around nine tomorrow. I trust you've had the boat serviced recently."

"I hire people to take care of those things. I suggest you ask Scott. He manages those things for me."

"If that's the case, everything is perfect. After all he is my son."

"Sorry, I lost my head for a moment."

Gil pulled up in front of the house. "This is a peppy little car," Gil said. "I thought it would be uncomfortable with my long legs, but it's not bad at all."

♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Chin was busy preparing the cold picnic lunch when Todd walked into the kitchen. Todd fixed his own breakfast and headed to his library, checked the answering machine and jotted down the messages.There were several calls from George and a couple from the office. He erased them all and made a conference call to his partners. Gil had arrived and was having a cup of coffee when Todd returned to the kitchen.

They carried the baskets down to the boat and took off. Gil pointed out some of the more interesting fishing spots as they were cruising to his favorite spot to anchor. The water temperature was still warm.

The weather broke all previous records this past year and the temperature was still above normal for November.

"The telephone has been ringing off the hook since early this morning with congratulations on my big win," Gil said. The party chairman has made some overture about a higher office before he began this term. They have great plans for my political future. Would you handle my next campaign if I decide to run?"

"Only if you insist," Todd said.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"If you're running for higher office, I could be a liability to you."

"Because you're gay?"

"Exactly. I could plan the whole campaign and let someone else handle the day-to-day work, I suppose."

"Don't you think you're being melodramatic? For God's sake, no one knows you're gay and even if they did, how would that hurt me? I'm not gay, I'm married and have two grown sons, and I don't see the problem? Stop feeling oversensitive about being gay. Quit putting yourself down. Here, lay on your stomach while I rub this sun screen on your back."

Gil was applying the lotion on Todd's neck and back, "You have a nice physique for a guy who has one foot on a banana peel and the other in the grave. How do you find the time to keep in shape?"

"I usually work out at the gym three times a week and even more if I eat too much. Well, buddy, the honeymoon is over. Next week I'll be heading back to New York. I've decided to take on the new Cadillac account myself. That's what that call was all about this morning. I'll be working with the big boys at GM headquarters starting Tuesday. This project will keep me on the road for months. I'll be talking to key GM dealers throughout the country. They want me to come up with a new, fresh approach to market their new Cadillac. Would you like to buy my BMW?"

"I thought you liked that car?"

"Want me to tell you how the real world works?" Todd said. "How can I possibly sell the public on the virtues of owning a Cadillac, if I'm driving around in a foreign automobile? No, I have to buy a Cadillac. At least I don't have to listen to your complaints about driving a small car."

"I think you enjoy giving me a hard time," Gil said. "If it's not against your principles, would you mind rubbing the sun block on my back?"

"Sure." He began applying the lotion on Gil's back. "You have a great body for an old poof," Todd said laughingly.

"How would you like this old man to slap you silly?"

"You could try, but I doubt you could get close enough to me to touch me, before I'd decked you, but you're welcome to try."

Gil laughed out loud, "Wow, you talk like a really tough guy, for a runt."

"Laugh all you want, but I happen to be a black belt in the Martial Arts; I suggest you consider that before you start messing with me."

"Are you serious?"

"Would I lie to you?"

"How tall are you anyway?"

"Five-ten, and a hundred and sixty pounds of tiger. Would you like me to work on your back and shoulders? It looks like you could use an adjustment."

"Go ahead, as long as you don't break my back, keep in mind I'm the D.A."

"First get up and let me add some more towels on the deck for you to lie on." Todd began by working on his shoulders and back for over a half hour until Gil's muscles relaxed and the vertebrae were in line.

"How does that feel?" Todd asked.

"That feels great; you really know your stuff."

Todd went below and grabbed another beach towel to cover the air mattress. He lay down on the deck and fell asleep. He woke up an hour later. Gil was sitting on a deck chair reading a book.

"You had a nice nap," Gil said. I've been meaning to ask you if you would you like to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. It would be a good time to meet the rest of family."

'Sure, provided I'm in town for the holiday. I'll let you know if I can make it after I look over my schedule. In a way I'm anxious to get back in the swing of things. There's a lot to be said for life in the country, but I'm getting antsy."

"Well, you sure pushed yourself on my campaign for the last two months," Gil said, "I don't know where you found the stamina to put in those long hours and still keep going. The stress was unbelievable."

Todd smiled, "Your campaign was a piece of cake, stress wise. Sure, a campaign has its pressures, but stressful it's not. If we took your campaign and multiplied it by a factor of four, added in a hundred million dollar budget, then you would understand the meaning of stress."

"That is the price I had to pay to be where I am today. I try to instill that in every new man I hire. If a man is not willing to put in long hours and put their personal life aside, they'll never make it to the top. It's takes that kind of commitment to do the job right. Naturally, the person has to have the personality and the creative talent for the job to begin with. The up side is that you are well compensated for your efforts."

"How long do you think you'll last before your next breakdown?"

"I don't know. This was my first breakdown. God only knows when the next one will come, if ever. One thing for sure, I'm not going to let the job ruin my life. When I find the right person, I'm going to start living a normal life. Career wise, I've been there and done it all."

"You have never told me about your personal life," Todd said. "Surely, Janet's condition created a dynamic change in your marriage. You two were in your late twenties when that happened. The videos show you as an attractive happy couple. That had to be devastating to your relationship. How were you able to cope all these years?"

"I've never told this to another soul," Gil said, "somehow, I don't mind telling you. Janet's accident was the most tragic incident in our lives. She is a vivacious and outgoing person with boundless energy and was the epitome of the perfect wife and mother. She ran the house and the Plantation and has kept everything running smoothly."

"The first reports from the hospital after her injuries were not good. The doctors did not know if she would make it through that first night. It wasn't until the third day that we knew the whole story. If she lived, she would be paralyzed from the waist down and would be in a wheel chair for the rest of her life. At the time, so many things went through my mind. I prayed that she would live. She was my anchor and we had two young boys to raise. Then the good news came, she would survive. We were happy to have her alive even if she was disabled. Janet recovered and continued to manage the house and the plantation. Lately, it has been a struggle for her. There was always that fear that one day her vital organs would stop functioning."

"We've all noticed the gradual decline in her health. She has lost some ground in her battle but she continues to fight this thing. Her doctors tell me that she has lost bone mass and needs to get much more bed rest each day. The boys have been wonderful and we cherish every day she is with us."

"I'm more interested in my law practice than I am running a plantation. I was glad to let Janet take over the operation of the plantation. The sex part of our marriage was never a driving force in my life. The same, however, was not true with Janet. Although, she has never mentioned it, I know she misses that part. As you pointed out in the beginning, I've made my little trips to Atlanta now and then, but on the whole it has not been too bad for me. I try to keep active and have not missed the sex all that much."

"What is the most distasteful part of your job as D.A.?" Todd asked.

"When I have to prosecute a friend, or neighbor. That is the most difficult part of my job. No mater how strongly you may feel personally about the law, you must put those feelings aside and uphold the law. If you were arrested for sodomy in this county, I would have to prosecute you. The sodomy laws are still on the books and can be enforced in Georgia. Although, I have never heard of a case where it's been enforced between consenting adults. It will stay on the books as a deterrent to child molesters, or against men that perform these acts in public places."

"How about lunch?" Todd asked. "I don't know about you, but I'm starved."

After having a leisurely lunch and sharing a good bottle of wine, they stretched out the lounges on the after deck and fell asleep.

Todd woke up two hours later. Gil was sitting with his back against the bulkhead watching him. "Anything wrong?" Todd asked.

"No, I'm fine, but, you sure are a restless sleeper. You talk, shout and wiggle all around. Remind me never to sleep in the same room with you. You must have a lot on your mind."

"I do, I'm sorry if woke you."

"You didn't, I've been awake for a while. I can only sleep for a half hour in the middle of the day. How about a swim, to cool off?"

Todd installed the ladder over the transom and dove in the water. Gil followed. Todd swam like a professional, strong smooth clean strokes as he cut through the water. He pulled ahead of Gil who was trying to keep up. Todd look back and treaded water until Gil caught up. He paced himself and stayed abreast of Gil. They turned back and headed for the boat. Todd guessed they had swum two miles. Todd was the first one up the ladder.

"That was refreshing," Todd said. "I'm going to miss all this on the road. What do you think about installing a bubble over my pool?"

"Sounds like a good idea."

"You're out of shape, Gil, when was the last time you had a complete physical?"

"It's been over a year."

"Get yourself down to Emory Clinic for a complete physical. You can stay at my penthouse any time you're in Atlanta. You can use the guest bedroom suite. I don't think you'll be able to hear me cry out in the middle of the night there. The bedrooms are at opposite ends of the apartment. For that matter, you're welcome to use the apartment anytime you want. I would be nice if you took the boys to a concert or a Broadway show while you're in town. The guest suite has a Murphy bed in the sitting room. You're welcome to use my bed as well when I'm out of town. Two things, no ladies of the night and call me to make sure the coast is clear. Who knows, but I might get lucky."

Gil chuckled, "I appreciate that. It would nice to spend some time in Atlanta with the boys. I promise, no ladies of the night and I will call Emory."

"Before I leave for town on Sunday, I give you all the codes for the apartment. You can always call, Beth, my secretary, and check my schedule. You already have my other numbers; by the way you can use my extra parking space in the garage when you are in town. Do you think you can remember all that? I know when you reach forty the mind starts to go."

"You really know how to hurt a guy, don't you?"

"You bet, look you have a wife and two kids to pick on, I have no one, so humor me."

Gil laughed, "You poor baby, you'll have me in tears in a minute. Let's pull up the hook and cruise around before we head back."

"Sounds like a winner, Skipper."

♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Todd had Chin pick up the groceries he needed for the penthouse and left for Atlanta after having breakfast with the Thornton's at the plantation. He was back in the penthouse by two. He opened the few pieces of mail he received and made a few calls. He spent the rest of the afternoon packing for his trip to New York the following afternoon.

He answered the phone on the second ring, it was George. "Hi, George, what's up?"

"I've been trying to reach you for months" George said. "You never returned my calls, that's not like you, babe. Can I come over?"

"Sure, if you can make it in right away. I have a six o'clock dinner engagement."

Twenty minutes later the door bell rang and it was George. "Hi, babe, you're looking great. Something is wrong with the code, and I couldn't open the door."

"Would you like a drink, George?"

"Sure, so what's up, babe?"

"Please don't call me babe anymore. You gave up that right two months ago when you entertained your brother in this apartment. It's over between us, George. The funny thing is I never thought you'd be unfaithful to me, it shows just how wrong I was. I guess after ten years, a love affair can turn stale. Just for the record, George, I've never been unfaithful to you, not once. With the exception of James, and you knew all about that. You are the only man I've ever sleep with since James died."

"Two months ago I came back into town because I thought my answering machine was on the fritz. I found out that someone had turned the machine off. The doorman told me all about your visits. I only have one question, did you start screwing this new trick before, or after, our last lovemaking session?"

"After, but let me explain it was all very innocent, believe me, Todd.? I'm in love with you and I always have been. Don't end it this way. If you really love me, you'd give me another chance. Please, let me make it up to you?"

"I wish I could, George. We had ten good years together. I was deeply hurt and disappointed by what you did. How could you entertain your trick in my apartment and even worse, have sex with him in my bed? Is that how you show your love for me? No, George, I can't forgive you for this, because I could never trust you again. I really have no right to point a finger at your new friend, I'm just as guilty breaking a commandment by chasing after a married man. In God's eyes I am just as guilty.

"Maybe you can help me, George. Pretend you love me for a few more minutes. What am I doing wrong? How could I improve my skills enough to hold a lover? My psychologist told me that we are condemned to repeat our mistakes again and again, unless we change our ways. I've already made a rule never to become involved with a married man, either gay, or straight. Now, perhaps you can tell me where I failed you as a lover. Maybe I can improve my chances with the next man I meet. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky again and find another lover that I can hold on to?"

The tears were running down George's cheeks. "There is nothing wrong with you, my love. You are a wonderful person. Think what you want about me, but I do love you. Cliff means nothing to me; he was just a nice guy who happened to there when I wanted sex. I'm a horny cock-driven bastard and I missed you a lot. Cliff was available. It was nothing more than that. You're right, I should never have used your apartment, it was wrong. Maybe one thing you should do is to make more demands from your lover. For God's sake, don't let people take you for granted. You should have demanded more from me. Maybe if you had, things might have turned out differently, and we wouldn't be having this conversation. For what it's worth, you are the most passionate and the sexiest person I have ever known. No one could ever hold a candle to you as a lover."

"I was getting bad vibes when you bought The Moorings. Somehow I had this uneasy feeling that I was losing you. Todd, you're at the point now where you're ready for a full time relationship and I'm not willing to pay that price. Maybe I will live to regret that choice, but I love my wife and children. I don't want to give them up. You're lonely, and whether you realized it or not, you're ready to settle down with a lover again. You need to get married again. You need to find someone that is as nice as you are, and not a part time lover like I've been."

"I know it's over between us as lovers, but I couldn't bear to loose you as a friend. I'm begging you, Todd."

"Sometimes it less painful to make a clean break," Todd said. "I will always love you and I will never forget the ten wonderful years we shared together. You are still a handsome sexy man. I really think you should see a psychologist to help you with your problem. I'm not joking, George. I have this awful feeling that you will get careless with one of your tricks and get AIDS if you continue such destructive behavior."

"I'll make a deal with you. I'll keep you as a friend as long as you promise me you'll see a psychologist. You select the psychologist of your choice and I'll pay for your treatments. If I learn that you stopped your treatments before you're cured, our friendship is over. That is the price you're going to have to pay. It's your choice."

"Do you really think I need professional help?"

"Yes, I do. Who knows, maybe one day you will find the courage to marry me and we'll live happily ever after."

Todd walked over to where George was sitting. He took his head between his hands and kissed him tenderly on the lips. "It's time for you to leave. I have to dress for dinner. Let me know your decision. I'm leaving for New York tomorrow and will be gone for at least six months. You know how to get in touch with me if you want to see me again."

George stood and hugged Todd and said, "I will call you next week with the doctor's name." He kissed Todd on the forehead and left.

Todd had thirty minutes to shower, dress and be at the dining room of the Ritz by six o'clock.

Six Months Later

Todd did not return to The Moorings for Thanksgiving but did manage to see Gil occasionally when he was in town.

Jarv Purdey, the new assistant was working out better then expected. Jarv was a take-charge person and a problem solver. He never became rattled and faced every problem calmly and logically without causing any friction. The clients liked him and he treated his coworkers fairly. If he thought something was wrong, he was not afraid to set it right and let the chips fall where they may. Todd liked working with Jarv and was happy he was doing so well. Jarv was a fast learner, extremely intelligent and completely loyal. It wasn't long before he was handling the major accounts.

Gil and his sons made use of the apartment and the free tickets Todd offered them. They used his box at the stadium for both the Braves and Falcons games. There was so much happening in Atlanta every week, and they always had a great weekend when Todd was in town. Unless there was a special game in town, Gil let the boys go off on their own to a pop concert while he and Todd spent the evening together.

Todd was finally able to spend a long weekend in Atlanta with Gil. They hadn't seen each other for two months and he wanted to catch up on the latest happenings. It had been raining on and off for the last two days with no change in sight. Todd decided to stay home and cook one of his gourmet specialties with veal and all the trimmings. He really enjoyed cooking whenever he had the chance. It helped him to relax and Gil enjoyed his cooking. After they cleaned up the kitchen, they went into the den to watch TV. They plunked down on the leather sofa in front of the set.

"My compliments to the chef, that was a great dinner," Gil said. "You're in good spirits tonight, what up?"

"Do your remember my mentioning this attractive GM vice president who has been traveling with me on this project?"

"I think so," Gil said, "is that the Cadillac Marketing guy from corporate?"

"That's the one, and his name is Ted. I wanted to tell you about him the last time you were in town, but the boys were with us. Anyway, Ted has been coming on strong from the beginning. I thought I had discouraged him, but he's the persistent type. I don't like getting involved personally with my clients. Sometimes it can get messy. Well, three weeks ago I let Ted go all the way and it was a delightful experience. He is wonderful in bed. The main reason I've been avoiding him was because he is married. You know my rules about married men. In any event, we were having dinner that night and he came right out and asked me why I was avoiding him, so I explained my cardinal rules. It turns out that his wife, also a high-society gal, is a Lesbian. Their marriage is one of convenience, and he is not bisexual. Would you believe they have two kids by artificial insemination? He's never sleep with his wife. They are friends and act like the ideal married couple in public."

"Well, is he the one for you?" Gil asked.

"No, I'm sexually attracted to him, but that's all. He has a crush on me and wants me to move in their brownstone with them. It's a beautiful home and I could have my own suite on the third floor if I decided to make the move. Naturally, Ted would share it with me. It sounds very cozy and inviting. Ted makes me feel wanted and it's sure nice to cuddle up to a warm body every night.

"I think you'd be making a mistake moving in with them until you're sure. You might be getting yourself into a situation that may not be easy to extricate yourself from later on, particularly in view of his possessive nature. Think about it, Todd."

"I'm curious about your emotional development with other people. Did you date a lot when you were growing up?" Gil asked.

"I dated a fair amount of girls during high school and in college, but never got laid, if that's what you mean?"

"How about guys?" Gil asked.

"I had a few encounters during college; a few lasted for a short period, but nothing after I moved to Manhattan. James was my first lover and partner. Then, of course, there was George. I guess you could say our relationship was more of a sexual relationship. Maybe you're right about Ted. It's too soon to get involved with him. He is a sexual release for me and I've told him that after our first night together. I'll guess I have to forego the comfortable feeling of waking up in the arms of a warm sexy man. I've moved out of my Penthouse and have taken a suite at the Plaza. That apartment has stirred up too many painful memories of James. I find myself thinking of James too much. Sometimes I sit in the den and relive those years we spent together. I feel so close to him in that apartment. Many a night I've cried myself to sleep in our bed. You're going to laugh, but to this day I've never had sex with another man in that apartment since James died. My shrink said I was not ready to let James go, he suggested I move."

"I think you should stop wasting your time with Ted and take your paint brush and easel and spent some time in the country."

"Christ, I'll be thirty-five this year, Gil. Maybe I'll never find the happiness I'm looking for in this life. You would think with all my years in therapy I should have been helped. My shrink said that some men mature faster than others. I guess I fall into the slow group. I'm trying to be more realistic in my attitudes and I'm trying to find the right person. Believe me; it's not that easy, unless I settle for another George, even with their major flaws. Who knows, maybe the shrink will turn George around and he'll chuck the wife and kiddies for me."

"Promise me you won't move in with Ted and his wife," Gil said. "Keep him at arm's length until you get to know him better.

"It looks as if I'm starting down the wrong path again with Ted. Or, could it be that I'm expecting too much from a lover? There is a lot to be said about having a warm body next to you every night. I just don't know, Gil."

"I've never experienced all that burning passion that you had with James. How do you define love, Todd? Tell me how you feel when you are in love?"

Todd stared into Gil's eyes a long time before answering. "There is a chemistry between two people that fall in love. In the first place, they don't have to say anything, they can feel it. It was like that with James and me. Even though we were separated, we were never apart. Making love was a beautiful and delightful experience. There was a wonderful feeling that surged through our bodies in our lovemaking. Making love with James was the most beautiful thing in this world.

Our hearts, our bodies and our minds were one. I felt it in every fiber of my body. That is what it was like for James and me. It wasn't just the love making itself; it was touching him and just being with him that made it so perfect."

"Anyway, you should be an expert on that subject. You must have experienced those same emotions with Janet."

"I never experienced that kind of emotion with Janet, or with any other person. Maybe if you and James stayed together the intensity of the love you shared would have calmed down and you would have become more like the rest of us mortals. I guess people feel love in different ways. You and James had a wonderful loving relationship in the beginning, but you both were unwilling to make the commitment to stay together. After your reconciliation, you finally realized that the only thing that really mattered was your love for each other. Once again, your feelings for each other became intense, you both were trying to hold on to what you had, because you knew that James' life was about to end. Your doctor is right; you haven't let James go.I personally feel that you still feel guilty for leaving him. Until you accept the fact that James made his choice and was unwilling to give up his destructive life style for you, you will never be able to forgive yourself for his death. James made his decision and suffered the consequences for his reckless behavior. I will say I'm glad he came to his senses at the end and died a happy man."

"Seven months ago you said something I have never forgotten," Gil said. "You said that you'd make a play for me if I were free. What did you really mean that day?"

"That I was very fond of you and you had all the qualities that I was looking for in a partner."

"I thought so, but I wanted to make sure? With your sense of humor, I never know if you're joking or being serious."

"I wasn't joking."

Gil chuckled, "I thought you had rules about getting involved with married men?"

"That is very true, but you're not bisexual and I'm not involved with you. Anyway, it's fantasizing on my part."

"I've never known anyone like you, Todd. You're refreshing and I enjoy your company. Yet, you're a paradox; on the one hand you're the ultimate professional; brilliant, creative and charming. Conversely, you're emotionally immature and lonely."

"Thanks for being honest with me, Gil. I want to keep you as a friend. I made a promise to myself that I would never let you know my true feelings for you unless you asked me. I love you and your family and I like being a part of your lives. You know, you're the reason I took on the GM account. I had to put some distance between us. I'm glad we had this talk, at least it's out in the open and you know how I feel about you."

"I'm going through a very emotional period in my life right now and it's left me emotionally bankrupt. I thought things would be better if I moved to New York, but they have gotten worse if anything. If I didn't have my work to occupy my brain I think I would have a breakdown. Hopefully, with time my feeling for you will become as you say, less intense. I believe that in some circles its call maturing. I'll be living in New York until this contract is completed. Jarv has done so well at handling my accounts that it won't be necessary for me to commute to Atlanta any longer. As I said before, you are welcome to use this apartment and The Moorings whenever you wish. At least I know someone is making use of the place."

"Is this really necessary?" Gil asked. "Now I'm losing the closest friend I've ever had. I wish you hadn't fallen in love with me."

The tears welled up in Todd's eyes. "Do you think I wanted it to be this way?" He took several deep breaths before he spoke again. "I've told you how I felt so you would understand the reason why I will not be seeing you again for a long time. As I said before, I want to keep you as a friend and this is the only way I know how to do that without it hurting so much."

They stared at each other for some time without speaking. "I understand," Gil said, "but, I don't have to like it."

"Tomorrow, you can help me shop for a new wardrobe," Todd said. "I'll be traveling in a different social circle now and I'll have to dress the part. To round out the weekend I was able to get two tickets for an Andre Previn jazz concert tomorrow; it should be fun."

"There is a video I'd like you to watch with me," Todd said. "It's called Making Love. It happens to be one of the better gay movies released to the general public. It always reminds me a little about my own life." Todd found the video and started the film.

Todd fell sound asleep after the first hour. Gil was amused at first by the way Todd kept leaning his head forward than catch himself. Gil pushed him back a couple of times but Todd would fall forward again. Gil was afraid he would fall forward and land head-first on the floor. Finally Gil moved over next to him, put his arm around Todd's shoulder and rested Todd's head next to his own while he continued watching the rest of the movie without interruption. He grabbed the remote and turned off the power to the TV and VCR.

Todd was sound asleep; Gil could feel Todd's heart beating against his chest.'Poor guy,' Gil thought. 'I really felt sorry for him and I'm going to miss him. He is pushing himself too hard with these seventy-hour weeks he's working.'

Gil reminisced about the first day Todd walked into his office. 'He stood out like a sore thumb in our little town. He was the smooth, polished professional from Madison Avenue. From his expensive tailored-made suits to his hand-made shoes, he was impeccably groomed from head to toe, and a gentleman. Certainly not the average country guy you expect to see walking the corridors of the courthouse in Cranstonville.'

Gil recalled how he and Janet were a little leery of Todd in the beginning, mainly because of the way he cultivated the family. But, their mistrust of him was misplaced. He was what he appeared to be, a sincere and friendly guy. Janet was quick to attribute it to his lonely life. Her observations proved to be correct. 'For whatever his reasons, he found an affinity for our family and has proven himself to be a good friend.'

Gil felt a close bond with Todd and was one of the few friends he felt truly comfortable with. He felt the same affection for Todd that he had for Scott, or Trace. Gil was not surprised that Todd was a homosexual. He suspected something like that for some time. He was sorry that Todd had fallen for him, because the free and open relationship they enjoyed could never be the same again.

'Oh well, that's life.'

"Todd, wake up it's time to go to bed." He shook him a few times until he opened his eyes.

"Sorry, I fell asleep," Todd said. "Did you like the movie?"

"Yes, I did, everyone got what they wanted by the end. We'll talk about it tomorrow; it's time to hit the sack."

"I'd much rather stay like this," Todd said, "but you're right, I'm beat."

Gil blushed when he realized he was still holding Todd.

"Don't feel embarrassed, I promise not to consider this a commitment on your part."

Gil laughed heartily, "You realize my life it going to be dull without you?"

Todd smiled, "Sure, I'll bet you tell that to all your dates."

♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Six months after Todd relocated to New York City, it seemed that everything began happening at once. The GM account was turning out to be a gold mine. Since the agency had proven themselves with the Cadillac division, the other divisions began talking to them about their advertising needs.

What started as a normal account was snowballing into the major account for the agency. Todd's partners were delighted with the business, but not entirely satisfied with what that entailed. They thought they could get away with adding a few people to his staff and they were home free. Not so with GM's business. They were different from the usual accounts the agency was used to handling. GM was the number one company in the world and they were very demanding. They expected their subcontractors to give them outstanding service. They paid top dollar and expected full value in return. GM produces a quality product and they expect the same quality of service.

Personally, Todd liked working for them. The executives were topnotch and knew what they wanted. To him, that was half the battle. Todd had to triple his staff in order to keep up with their demands. The partners were happy with the profits, but not at all pleased with the overhead and size of the New York operation. Todd couldn't blame them in a way, but they really had no choice if they wanted to keep the GM business. Reluctantly, they approved the large budget for his division.

Three months later they were bursting at the seams. They outgrew the office space Todd had rented and had to take additional space at another location. The Director of Operations found some ideal space in a renovated building on Avenue of the Americas, a stone's throw from GM's headquarters in Manhattan. Todd's justification for this move was twofold; he could react much faster to GM's needs and have the first refusal on any additional space required in the future. Again, another battle royal ensued with his partners, but they had no choice but to go along with Todd's decision.

One of the best things that came out of this whole mess was the addition of Jarv Purdey to the New York staff. Jarv was still managing Todd's key accounts out of the Atlanta office, but his help was needed in New York. He was doing a great job in Atlanta, but needed the exposure and training Todd could give him in New York.

They worked well together and it was like old times once again. Other than George, Jarv was the only one that knew Todd from their days at Y&R. Their personalities and minds were in sync and to Todd that was important.

At first Jarv spent two days a week working out of the New York office and three days at the Atlanta office. Than it was it increased to three days a week in New York, until he ended up spending four days a week in New York. As a perk, Todd let him live rent free in his penthouse apartment. After a while he became Todd's right hand. Jarv sat in on all meetings with the clients and all staff meetings. In time he became a buffer between Ted and Todd. Jarv suspected that Todd was gay by then and must have figured out what was going on between Ted and him, but he never broached the subject. He did a good job of keeping Ted off Todd's back. Of course Ted, like everyone in the office, had the hots for Jarv as well. Todd admitted that he had a few fantacies about him himself. Jarv was handsome, smart and a very appealing man. Todd was concerned when Ted tried to make a pass at Jarv. But he needn't have worried, because Jarv made it clear in a firm yet pleasant way, that he was not interested. Jarv knew how to handle people like Ted.

Ted was becoming a royal pain in the neck. They had no choice but to play along with him until the project with Cadillac was over. He was smart enough not to make any waves while they were still working on the Cadillac project, but with someone like Ted, Todd had to watch his step. By then Todd had increased the staff to forty people and hired an old buddy, Steve Chamberlain, from Y&R to take over the Cadillac project. This allow Todd the breathing space he needed to work on the Chevy and Saturn accounts.

After his account load returned to normal, his thoughts once again returned to Gil. The best laid schemes of concentrating on the new business, and his romantic involvement with Ted, were both short term solutions to his problem. It certainly complicated his life, even more so than before. It was dumb of him to believe that it could be so simple. Ted was nice enough, and who knows, if he were his age and worked at it, maybe it would have worked out. That's not saying this was a total waste of time because it did help to mitigate the strong desire he had for Gil. In time his feelings for him would become more manageable.

Todd was working late at the office Thursday evening, finishing his quarterly report for his Friday staff meeting. It was close to eleven when he returned to his suite at the Plaza. He was beyond tired, he was beat. Not only did he have a rough day at the office, but he had another bad session with Ted at lunch. He only had a month to go on this Cadillac project and he wanted to keep Ted at bay until it was over. He had hoped things would have cooled down since Ted was working with Steve. He only hoped he could wrap things up and hand everything over to Steve.

After arriving at his suite at the Plaza, he headed into the dressing room and removed his jacket, tie and shoes. He saw the message button flashing on the telephone on the table next to his bed. He picked up and dialed the message center. The operator read the messages. Three messages were from Gil marked urgent. His hand shook slightly as he dialed the number. The housekeeper at the Plantation answered his call and told him that Mr. Thornton could be reached in Atlanta.

He dialed his apartment and reached Gil on the seventh ring. "Hi, Gil, what's up?"

"Todd! God, it good to hear your voice again. I know you wanted to keep your distance and all that, but Janet's in a bad way and would like to see you. Would you mind taking the time to fly down to see her real soon?"

"Of course, how does tomorrow afternoon sound?"

"Great, would you like me to pick you up at the airport?"

"No, I'll meet you at the apartment tomorrow around six. The traffic will be a mess that time of day. I can take MARTA. Gil, forgive me but, I've taken my pill and I can't keep my eyes open, save it all for tomorrow."

"OK, Good night and thanks."

The telephone next to the bed kept ringing, "Oh, hi, Steve, what time is it anyway? No, you go ahead with the meeting, you'll find my report on my desk. Look, I'm leaving for Atlanta this afternoon; I'll see you in the office around noon." He called the front desk and had them book him on the Delta two o'clock flight to Atlanta. Then he called room service and ordered breakfast. The maid tapped on his bedroom door, "Should I come back later Mr. Darlington?"

"No, please stay," Todd said. "I want you to pack a bag for me." He piled the things he wanted packed on the bed. "You get started on that and stick around until I'm ready to leave. I need to shower, eat and be out of here in an hour"

"You do your thing, Mr. Darlington; I'll stick around and take care of everything for you."

Todd went into the dressing room and undressed and headed for the bathroom. He returned twenty-five minute later completely dressed. Room service had already delivered his breakfast.

"I'll put your toilet kit in your bag and send your clothes to the laundry, Mr. Darlington. Will you need anything else?"

"No, thanks, you've been a big help," Todd said, as he handed her a twenty-dollar tip.

He took the limo to the office for his meeting with Steve and Jarv. "Steve, I want you to take over the GM account from here on. As I said, I'll be in Atlanta for a week. Jarv, I want you to work on these GM proposals. Here is my DVD on what I've put together so far on the Chevy and Saturn accounts; read these proposals over and we'll discuss them on Tuesday.

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦
To be continued
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