Valley of the Dudes
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by Ryan Field
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: In this M/M adaptation of the classic novel Valley of the Dolls, an innocent young man named Rush Goodwin leaves behind his family, his longtime boyfriend, and the safety of his small New England town to find a new life that's filled with glamour and excitement in New York City. Though he's not sure exactly what he wants in life, he's willing to take a few daring chances along the way to find out. It doesn't take long for him to make two new best friends, Cody and Anderson, who are just as young an innocent as he is when the story begins. The only difference between them and Rush is that they both have faithful partners and Rush is alone in New York. But that doesn't last long. When Rush meets his new boss, handsome Lance Sharp, it's love at first sight and the beginning of a turbulent relationship that is rarely without conflict. While Rush and his friends are all moving forward and climbing their respective ladders of success, they each learn, in different ways, that nothing in life is perfect. Especially not the fame and fortune they thought they all wanted. And in order to deal with the stress of success, they all turn to drugs for comfort. And in time, this leads them all on a downward spiral that ruins their relationships and ultimately threatens their lives. In the end, after suffering painful disappointments and serious setbacks that almost ruin him, Rush learns the true meaning of what life is all about for a gay man of his generation. And he does this without drugs and fame and fortune, with the help of true love and the one goal he never expected he could reach.
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance/Ravenous Romance, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: February 2010
9 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [257 KB]
Reading time: 181-253 min.
Rush Goodwin had lived his entire life in a small New England town. He'd been an only child, living with his widowed mother and her spinster sister, always dreaming of the day he would begin a new life in New York.
He kept his wavy brown hair at a medium length and wore a thin, well-manicured layer of facial hair that looked more like five o'clock shadow than an actual beard. He didn't have a heavy beard, but he trimmed what he did have daily to achieve an intentionally scruffy look. In the right light, his brown hair took on a reddish tint that grew more pronounced in the summertime. When he wasn't working, he often wore knitted caps on his head all year long.
He could get away with a lot: he had a handsome face, with a strong square chin, full lips, and deep brown almond-shaped eyes. Though he wasn't extremely athletic, he had the tight, sculpted body of a young baseball player. When he walked into a crowded room, both men and women looked in his direction.
He didn't want to move to New York because small town life was bad. Rush had been very fortunate. His mother and his aunt rarely discussed the fact that he was gay, but they'd accepted his lifestyle quietly, without any arguments or complaints. They greeted his boyfriend, Harold, with smiles and invited him to dinner on Sundays. When Rush went away on long weekend trips with Harold, they didn't roll their eyes and look in the other direction.
But Rush was eager to experience more in life than what he'd always known. He craved these new experiences with such fortitude, there were nights he couldn't sleep.
So one cold snowy day, about eight months after he'd received his law degree and passed his bar exams, he told his mother and his aunt that he was moving to New York. It was a Friday evening. They had just finished dinner and Rush was waiting for Harold to pick him up. Rush sat down on a footstool in front of his mother's favorite wing chair and leaned forward. He told her he'd applied for a job with an entertainment law firm, gone on a series of interviews, and they'd offered him the job in New York. He even knew where he could sublet a small apartment; all he had to do was sign the lease. Rush said he hadn't mentioned his plans earlier because he wasn't sure whether or not he'd get the job. He'd just found out it was all definite that morning.
His mother stopped knitting and stared at his aunt. She lowered the knitting needles to her lap and raised her eyebrows. His aunt stared at him with large blue eyes. She was sitting in another wing chair beside a blazing fire, reading a novel she'd already read a dozen times. His mother pressed her lips together and turned her head to look at Rush. "Are you absolutely certain about this?" she asked. "You already have a stable position here in Connecticut with an excellent law firm. This sounds awfully impulsive."
Rush nodded and reached for her hands. "I'm sure. This is something I've always wanted to do. The only thing I'm worried about is leaving you both here alone."
Rush had always been the man of the family. His father had been killed in an automobile accident when Rush had been only twelve years old. Since then, Rush had been the one who'd dealt with the plumbers, the electricians, and the auto mechanics. The house where he'd grown up was one of those big old brick colonials, with white trim and no shutters. There were white dormers on the third floor and two wide chimneys on either ends of the house. It had been in his mother's family for more than two hundred years. Supposedly, the basement had been used as a shelter during the Underground Railroad days.
His mother took a deep breath and sighed. "We'll be fine," she said, nodding at her sister. "But moving to a place like New York is a big decision."
He smiled. "I know it is. This wasn't an impulsive decision. I promise. I've been thinking about it for a long time."
"I see," she said. "When do you leave?"
He squeezed her hands and hesitated for a moment. Her face was still tight and expressionless. "In a couple of weeks," he said. "I'm worried about you, though." He'd been the one who'd checked the tires on the cars and made sure the lawnmower blades were sharp. Without him around, he wasn't sure if they could survive.
"Ah well," she said, taking a quick breath, allowing her face to soften. "We'll be just fine." Then she tilted her head to the left and asked, "What about Harold?"
Rush knew his mother was wondering about whether or not he and Harold were moving to New York together, as a couple. Rush had been with Harold since he was a freshman in college and he'd never dated anyone else. "I haven't told Harold about this yet."
Part of the reason he wanted to move to New York was Harold. But he didn't mention this to his mother or his aunt.
His mother frowned and gave his aunt a look. She said, "I suggest you tell him as soon as possible."
"We're going to the movies tonight," Rush said. "I was planning to tell him afterwards." He released his mother's hands and stood up. He squared his shoulders and asked, "So you're okay with this?"
His mother shrugged and lifted the knitting needles. As she poked the tip of one needle into a loop of red yarn, she smiled and said, "If this is what you want to do, I'm fine with it. And you're not moving to the end of the world. You're only moving to New York. We'll be just fine here in Connecticut."
Later that night, while Rush and Harold were leaving the movie theater, Rush told Harold about his plans to move to New York. The theater had been empty and the few people that had been there were bundled up and trotting toward their cars to get out of the cold. Rush's voice was low and soft and he spoke without a hint of concern. He made his announcement while they were crossing the snowy parking lot to Harold's car. Harold was still talking about the movie.
Harold stopped walking; he faced Rush and furrowed his eyebrows. "You're doing what?" he asked. He lifted his head and his strong, patrician chin jutted out.
Rush took a deep breath and stared down at his shoes. In the years they had been together, Harold had always been the one who took control, in a very passive-aggressive way. He'd practically planned every moment of their lives, and Rush had let him do it. "I'm moving to New York in a couple of weeks," Rush repeated. "I have a new job with an entertainment law firm that represents celebrities and I'll probably sublet an apartment in Chelsea."
"Have I done something wrong?" Harold asked. His hands were still in his pockets and he looked directly into Rush's eyes. But he was reacting like a scorned employer when his best worker quits, not like a jilted lover. He had a tendency to think everything that happened between them revolved around him.
"It's not about you, Harold," Rush said. "It's me. I'm restless. And you know I've always talked about moving to New York."
There had been many times he'd mentioned how much he wanted to leave New England and move to New York. But Harold was a dentist, and he worked in his father's established dental practice in New Haven. Whenever Rush suggested that Harold could start his own practice in New York, Harold acted as if he'd lost his mind. There was no way Harold was giving up a successful position to start all over again in New York City. He told Rush they could visit New York any time Rush wanted. But they weren't moving there full time.
"I know you've mentioned it," Harold said. "But I never thought you were serious about it. After all, we can go to New York whenever we want. We're not living in Kansas."
This was part of the problem. Harold liked being a small-town boy, and he never seemed to take Rush's ambition seriously. But Rush didn't want to argue. "Don't be mad, Harold. This isn't about you. It's about me. I need to do this. If I don't, I think I'll suffocate here. There are times I wake up in the morning to face another day and I honestly don't think I can breathe."
Harold removed his hands from his pockets and took a step forward. He put his arm around Rush and said, "Let's get in the car." Then he lowered his head and nibbled on Rush's earlobe. "I know how to make you feel better."
This was another part of the problem. Harold was extremely good looking. He stood over six feet tall, he had the defined, muscular body of a professional athlete from competing in triathlons, and he had droopy steel-blue eyes. His hair was sandy blond and his face looked as if it had been chiseled out of stone. Though Rush and Harold were two very different people who wanted very different things in life, there was a sexual connection between them that went beyond all sense of reason.
Rush pulled away from Harold and said, "I think we should both just go home and talk about this tomorrow. My mind is made up. I'm moving to New York. I have to do this."
He wasn't officially breaking up with Harold that night. And he wasn't moving to New York to meet new men. His restlessness went much deeper than that. But he wasn't sure that having sex with Harold that night was a good idea.
Harold raised an eyebrow and smiled, then reached for the back of Rush's head, in the middle of the snow-covered parking lot, and kissed him on the mouth. When he finally removed his tongue from Rush's mouth, he said, "Let's get into the car. We haven't fooled around inside the car in a long time."
Rush was ready to take another step back. But when Harold reached down and placed his strong hand on the small of his back, he leaned into the left side of Harold's strong body and followed him to the car. The best part about being with conservative, dependable Harold was that they were both adamantly monogamous, there was no need for condoms, and it was safe and familiar.
When they reached the car and Harold clicked the locks, Harold opened the back door instead of the front door and practically shoved Rush into the back seat. Harold drove a large black Yukon; the back seat was spacious and all the windows were tinted with dark film. If anyone had been walking around in the empty parking lot, they wouldn't have been able to see anything happening in the back seat.
Harold followed him into the back seat and pulled off his coat. He leaned forward and switched on the engine to get the car warm. When he sat back, he grabbed Rush's coat, unzipped it, and pulled it off his body. Rush's pants were already tight and his erection pointed up so far it reached the waistband. Even if having sex with Harold that night was a mistake, things had already gone too far to end it.
While they removed their clothes, they kissed and groped each other. Rush had trouble catching his breath; he closed his eyes and moaned when Harold squeezed his chest. Harold was a weightlifter, and there were rough calluses on the palms of his hands from years of holding barbells. The car warmed up fast and the tinted windows glazed over with fog. Their clothes fell in a rumpled pile.
When they were both naked, Rush reached between Harold's strapping thighs and grabbed his erection. He wrapped his warm hand around the shaft and jerked it up and down a few times.
Harold took a deep breath and pressed his palm on the top of Rush's head and forced him down to the floor. Rush went down to his knees without resistance, then opened his mouth, yanked Harold's erection to his face, and wrapped his lips around the head. Harold's body jerked backwards and his hips bucked forward. He rested his head on the back of the black leather seat and spread his legs. While Rush's lips went all the way down to Harold's pubic hair, Harold placed his other palm on Rush's head and guided his face between his legs.
Rush's cheekbones indented and he took a deep breath through his nose to inhale the sweet masculine aroma between Harold's athletic legs. His lips puffed out and rubbed against Harold's wiry pubic hairs. He remained this way for a few minutes, with Harold's erection filling his mouth, pressing his tongue to the bottom of Harold's shaft and sucking as hard as he could.
When he finally lifted his chin, slowly, Harold's shaft slid out of his mouth until just his lips were wrapped around the head. He held this position for a moment without moving, then started moving his head up and down. Harold placed his palms over Rush's ears and guided his head with care. "We're so good together," Harold whispered. "I love the way you do this. And I really love when you suck on the tip."
While Rush was sucking, it occurred to him that they'd never actually said the words, "I love you," to each other. Harold often told Rush that he loved the way Rush gave head, or that he loved the way Rush knew how to tighten and clamp down during anal sex. Harold usually paid him compliments and told him he loved the way he looked. In return, Rush did the same. But they'd never actually looked into each other's eyes and said the words, "I love you."
Fifteen minutes later, Rush was leaning over the back seat and his legs were spread wide. Harold was still inside Rush's body and they'd both just had outrageous climaxes. While Harold was pulling his erection out of Rush, he tapped Rush's ass and said, "I love the way you tightened up this time right before I came. It felt like a clamp around my dick." Then he pulled his penis out of Rush's body and smacked it against Rush's smooth bottom.
Rush lifted his head and he turned back to face Harold. "But are you in love with me?"
"Huh?" Harold said. He was already reaching down to the floor for a box of tissues so he could wipe his shrinking penis. They always used a generous amount of lubricant and Harold hated how the greasy, messy lube felt on his penis when the sex was over.
"I'm curious, is all," Rush said. "You said you love the way I tightened up this time and clamped down on your dick. You said you love the way I give head. But are you in love with me?"
Harold wiped his penis dry and said, "I love everything you do." Then he handed a few clean tissues to Rush.
Rush reached for the tissues and shook his head. Harold hadn't answered his question. The sex they'd just shared had been good and he didn't want to ruin it, but he had to know the answer. "I love everything you do, too, Harold. But I'm not sure I'm in love with you, Harold. Are you in love with me?"
Harold smiled and reached down for his pants. Without looking Rush in the eye, he shoved his right leg into his pants and said, "I already told you. I love everything about you."
Rush lowered his head and frowned. He didn't ask Harold again, because he knew Harold wasn't going to give him the answer he desperately needed to hear.
* * * *
On Monday morning, Rush gave two weeks' written notice that he was leaving his position at the law firm in Connecticut and moving to New York. On Tuesday, he signed a lease to sublet an apartment in Chelsea and faxed it to the landlord. And two weeks after that, on a cold Sunday morning in Connecticut, Harold, his mother, and his aunt drove him to the train station to see him off. He'd asked his mother to sell his car. In New York, a car would only be a problem.
His mother and aunt packed some homemade food and a family photo that had been framed in pewter, so he wouldn't go hungry and he wouldn't forget where he came from. This was the first time he'd ever been away from New England for more than a week. Before he boarded the train, they hugged him as hard as they could and wiped tears from their eyes, smiling and wishing him well the entire time.
Harold just stood there watching, a few feet behind Rush's mother and aunt. His hands were in his pockets, his legs were spread apart, and he was smiling with his lips pressed together. After Rush hugged his mother and aunt, Harold extended his right arm and shook Rush's hand. "Have a good trip," he said, in a low, solemn voice. He didn't throw his arms around Rush and he didn't shed a single tear.
Rush smiled; it was so businesslike and formal. "Thank you, Harold." He knew Harold was not happy with his decision. Harold hated disruption and he hated it when his normal routine was altered. They had argued for two weeks about Rush moving to New York and there wasn't much left to say. Harold did not hide the fact that he thought Rush was making a huge mistake. When Rush had told him he needed time to figure out who he was, Harold had just frowned and shook his head instead of grabbing Rush and begging him to stay.
"I wish you luck," Harold said, putting his hands back into his pockets. His voice went even lower and there was a sharpness to it that Rush hadn't heard since the time Harold's car had been stolen.
"I know you do," Rush said. He also knew something else. Though they hadn't officially broken up, and Harold thought he'd come running back to Connecticut within a month, Rush knew this was the end of their relationship.
Then Rush picked up his luggage, boarded the train, and sat down in a window seat. As the train pulled out of the station, Rush took a deep breath and sighed. He waved to his family and Harold until he couldn't see them anymore, then stared out the window until the quiet, snow-covered New England countryside faded and skyscrapers started to appear.
When Rush reached Manhattan, he took a taxi to his new apartment in Chelsea. He had never actually seen the apartment, but it wasn't much different from what he'd expected. It was a typical New York studio, on the fourth floor of a newly renovated building that had a doorman. The walls were white and the floors were parquet. Basically, it was one square room with a small bathroom, a wall of closet space, and a kitchenette concealed behind louvered folding doors. The only window in the apartment was up front. It faced busy Tenth Avenue and he could hear the honking traffic swish by. In one corner, there was a full-size bed and a small glass nightstand. In the opposite corner to the right of the window was a small flat-screen TV fastened to the wall. Altogether the entire apartment couldn't have been more than five hundred square feet, about half the size of his old bedroom back in New England.
Rush placed his suitcases on the floor next to the bed and scanned the room with his hands on his hips. When he looked at the kitchenette, he smiled at the small two-burner built-in cook top. There wasn't even an oven--just the cook top and the tiniest refrigerator he'd ever seen. But he wasn't worried about whether or not he'd get used to living in such a small, meager place. He hadn't moved to New York to set up his dream home and he wasn't much of a cook. He'd moved to New York so he could meet new people and have new, exciting experiences. The only time he planned to spend in this apartment was when he was sleeping.
On Monday morning, Rush went for a long run before work. Then he showered, trimmed his thin beard, and put on a brand-new light gray business suit. He wanted to be extra early his first day, to give a good impression.
When he crossed into the reception area of his new law firm, there was a full-figured middle-aged woman sitting behind the desk. It was the same woman he'd seen during his interviews, but he wasn't sure if she'd remember him. She'd been busy with phone calls each time he'd been there. This morning, she seemed just as busy. She'd just hung up the telephone and was writing something on a notepad When Rush looked down, smiled, and said, "Good morning. I'm Rush Goodwin and this is my first day."
The woman looked up at him and raised her eyebrows. Her puffy hair was deep red, she was wearing a bright green dress, and she had reading glasses on the end of her nose. She put down the pen and stood up from the desk. She extended her hand and said, "I'm Esther. It's nice to meet you, Mr. Goodwin. Mr. Hasslet is on a conference call right now with an important client. I'll let him know you're here as soon as he's finished."
Rush smiled and thanked her. Mr. Hasslet was the senior partner and the man in charge. Hasslet, Hasslet & Sharp wasn't the largest law firm in New York, but it had an excellent international reputation as a boutique firm. It specialized in the field of entertainment law, and the clients it represented were some of the most famous celebrities in the world. The senior Mr. Hasslet had started the firm with his brother, and together they had built it into a thriving business. Mr. Hasslet's brother had passed away five years earlier and Mr. Hasslet, who had to be in his late seventies, refused to retire. When he'd interviewed Rush and asked about Rush's prior experience, Rush told him the truth. Rush's limited experience as a lawyer in New England had been in criminal defense, but he'd always been interested in entertainment law. When Rush told Mr. Hasslet he was willing and eager to start at the bottom and learn everything he could about entertainment law, Mr. Hasslet seemed to like the fact that he could mold Rush into the lawyer he wanted him to be. If Rush had already had experience in entertainment law, Mr. Hasslet probably wouldn't have hired him.
Esther crossed from behind the desk and said, "I'll take you around and show you the office while we're waiting. It's still early, though, and no one's here yet." She had a deep, no-nonsense, husky voice. If she wasn't a smoker, she probably had been at one time.
Rush smiled. "I'd like that," he said.
While Mr. Hasslet was on his conference call, Esther gave Rush the grand tour of the entire office. She walked with heavy steps and greeted people as if she were the senior partner instead of Mr. Hasslet. She made a point of making Rush understand that she knew everything going on at all times. Rush met a few of the office workers, one intern, and a computer tech guy. When Esther approached these people, they stopped whatever they were doing to concentrate only on what she wanted. Evidently, Esther was both respected and feared by everyone.
Esther showed him the office doors of the other junior lawyers, but she didn't go inside. When they reached the smallest office at the end of a long narrow hallway, she stood in the doorway and extended her arm. "This is where you'll be working, for now." She lifted an eyebrow, as if goading him toward a negative response.
Rush stepped into a small windowless room. The walls were beige, the miniature metal desk was shoved up against a wall, and there was a metal bookcase to the right of the desk. It looked like a sample--a scaled-down version of an office instead of a real office. But he smiled and said, "This is very nice. I'm looking forward to working here."
Esther gave him a look and lowered her eyebrows. "Let's go back and see if Mr. Hasslet is ready to see you."
On the way back to the reception area, Esther stopped in front of an office and pointed. The name on the door read, "Lance Sharp." She smiled and said, "This is Mr. Sharp's office. I know he's not in yet because there isn't a line outside his door waiting to get him coffee." Then she pressed her fingertips to her lips and snickered.
Rush tilted his head to the side. "Why would there be a line outside his door?"
Esther lifted an eyebrow. "You'll see for yourself soon enough. Trust me." Then she led Rush back to the reception area to see if Mr. Hasslet was free to see him.
Five minutes later, Esther led Rush into Mr. Hasslet's office and said, "Bart, this is the new guy you just hired. He's starting today." Then she left Rush standing in front of Mr. Hasslet's desk and returned to the reception area.
Mr. Hasslet looked up from his desk, leaned forward, and squinted. He was short and stocky and bald, with thick black eyeglasses and a chunky red nose. The top of his head was shiny; the sides were slicked back with long strands of white hair. He picked up a brown envelope from the desk and said, "Good morning, Mr. Goodwin. Here's your first assignment."
"Good morning, Mr. Hasslet," Rush said eagerly. Then he reached for the envelope and took it from the old man's hand without even asking what it was.
"You are to deliver this to Radcliff Benson at the Rainbow Theater," Mr. Hasslet said. "Take the stage door and go to the rehearsal studios, where they are getting ready to open the new show, Hope to the Heavens. I want all the documents signed and brought back to me immediately. Can you handle that?"
Rush raised his eyebrows and squared his shoulders. "Yes, Mr. Hasslet," he said. "I'll leave right now and be back within the hour." He couldn't believe he'd only been working there an hour and already he was being given an important assignment and meeting a famous entertainer.
Mr. Hasslet looked down at his desk without formally dismissing him, but Rush took the envelope and walked back to the reception area. On his way out of the reception area, he held the envelope up and said to Esther, "Mr. Hasslet wants me to deliver this right now to Radcliff Benson. I'll be back within the hour." He was so excited that he had to concentrate hard so he wouldn't walk into a wall.
Esther laughed and said, "Good luck. You're going to need it, kid." Then she lowered her head to her desk and said, "Mr. Hasslet, that's just wrong."
Rush took a taxi to the Rainbow Theater, then walked back to the stage door entrance. He approached a man at the door and said, "I'm here to deliver this to Mr. Benson. My boss needs his signatures. It's very important that I get them right now." He was on a mission and no one was going to stop him.
The guy at the door pointed to the left and said, "He's in his dressing room. It's the end of the hall and his name is on the door." Then the guy laughed and said, "I hope you're wearing a bulletproof vest."
Rush blinked; that was easier than he'd expected it to be. He'd imagined that celebrities like Radcliff Benson had security and people watching over them all the time. And Rush had no idea what the guy was talking about when he mentioned a bulletproof vest. Why on Earth would he need a bulletproof vest? He couldn't wait to meet the famous Broadway star, Radcliff Benson. He'd been a fan of Radcliff Benson all his life.
On the way back to Radcliff Benson's dressing room, Rush passed by a rehearsal hall. There was a group of dancers standing near a piano. They were listening to an attractive young guy rehearse a song from Radcliff Benson's new play. The play was a revival of an old-time classic, like most Broadway shows. The singer had dark wavy hair, a handsome face, and a voice so smooth and clear the entire room stopped to listen. Rush peered into the room for a second, then continued walking back to Radcliff Benson's dressing room. He wanted to wait until the young guy was finished singing, but he wanted to get the papers signed and return them to the office as quickly as he could so he'd make a good first impression on Mr. Hasslet.
But when Rush reached the dressing room, Radcliff Benson was shouting at who appeared to be his manager while the talented young man in the rehearsal studio continued to sing. Radcliff's back faced the doorway and his arms flew back and forth. When the talented young singer in the rehearsal hall hit a perfect high note, Radcliff picked up a bottle of cologne and threw it across the dressing room. Radcliff's manager ducked and it sailed over his head and shattered against the wall, leaving a dark stain and fractured glass all over the floor.
Radcliff turned around and leaned against his dressing room table. He glared at Rush and shouted, "What the fuck do you want? Why are you staring at me like an idiot?"