The Virgin Billionaire
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by Ryan Field
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Luis Fortune spends his nights escorting affluent older gentleman to parties, nightclubs and restaurants. And though he's not officially a rent boy because there's never any physical contact, he is paid well. He charms them with his looks and his carefree attitude. He makes them smile by laughing at their jokes and listening to their dull stories. But Luis is only doing this temporarily, until the right older man asks him to settle down. He's looking for something he can depend on, and until he finds it he won't even give the stray dog that followed him home a name. While Luis is searching for money and security, he takes comfort in reading a blog written by a woman in France he's never met, Elena's Romantic Treasures and Tidbits. She adores gay men and romance, and she posts artistic photos, wonderful stories, and endearing posts about gay men that bring Luis a sense of comfort and security on his darkest, scariest days. Jase Nicholas is a forty year old high-profile billionaire who can pass for thirty. He's spent the first half of his life running from the fact that he's gay. And now he wants to find out what he's been missing all those years. So he tells his family and friends he's going on a pilgrimage for a couple of months, and then he drops out of sight so he can come to terms with his sexuality and finally lose his gay virginity. But instead of going on a pilgrimage, he rents a small apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. He changes his appearance and plunges into a world of young gay men. And when one of the young men he meets is Luis Fortune, his life is never the same again...
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance/Ravenous Romance, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
31 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [226 KB]
Reading time: 159-222 min.
When the taxi dropped Luis off at 95th Street and Riverside Drive, the sun had just begun to rise. He pulled a twenty-dollar bill from his white dinner jacket, handed it to the driver, and took a quick look at his face in the rearview mirror. Though his dark beard was beginning to show, his green eyes were still wide and clear and his short brown hair was as neat as it had been ten hours earlier. If he hadn't been wearing a formal tuxedo, it would have looked as though he'd just had eight solid hours of sleep and he was on his way to the office. At twenty-one years old, he could get away with staying out all night.
He told the driver to keep the change, and jumped out of the taxi with a spring in his step and carefree smile on his face. He jogged across the street without looking both ways and ignored the honking horns, as if the passing cars were merely an inconvenience. When one car screeched to a stop avoid running him down, he didn't even turn his head. At the edge of the park, he walked up to a food vendor who was setting his cart up for the day. He bought a hot pretzel and a small bottle of Virgin Alaskan Spring Water, his favorite brand.
He took a large bite from the pretzel and walked over to an empty park bench with a view of the river. Before he sat down, he checked to be sure the seat was dry. It was one of those dewy mornings in early May, without a cloud in the sky or a breeze in the air, and he didn't want a wet stain on his tuxedo. He suspected that by noon, it would be warm and sunny enough to wear shorts and a T-shirt. The joggers and power walkers had already begun to infiltrate the park. While they passed Luis on the bench, with their arms bobbing and their red faces pinched and sweaty, Luis pulled out his iPhone and opened his bottle of water.
Then he crossed his legs and shifted his weight to the right. He lifted the phone, pressed an application, and sighed out loud. When his favorite Web site appeared on the small screen, he smiled and held the phone closer. There was a brand-new post on his favorite blog that would help him get through the rest of the day. This particular blog, for Luis, was like a dose of medicine. All he had to do, whenever he felt jaded or disappointed, was to look at the familiar banner at the top of the Web site and his heart stopped racing.
Elena's Romantic Treasures and Tidbits was a web site created by a beautiful young woman in France named Elena who had a passion for artistic photos of handsome gay men. Some of the photos were nudes; others were either partially or fully clothed. But they all had one thing in common: a dramatic, imaginative flair that couldn't be reproduced anywhere else. Whether it was vintage or brand new, each photo was one of a kind. There were days when she posted three or four new photos, and each one had a short, but inspiring, blog post to accompany it. Sometimes she even posted reviews about gay books she'd read, with unusual book covers. Though she was a straight woman, everything about the blog was oriented toward gay men and the people who loved and appreciated exquisite photos of gay men. Luis had been following Elena's blog for two years, and he'd never been disappointed by anything she'd posted.
This particular morning, Elena had posted a photo of a handsome young man on a long white leather lounge chair. His muscular arms were up over his head, there was a straightforward--almost enticing--half grin on his face, and he was wearing only a loose pair of gray boxer briefs that looked as though he'd been wearing them for a couple of days. He had a rough goatee and serious furrowed eyebrows. But his dark brown eyes were wide and innocent, as if he wasn't sure why he was even posing this way. The briefs were bunched up between his hairy legs and the tip of his thick penis was sticking out of the right leg opening. He wasn't erect, but the head of his penis was larger than most. Below the photo, there was a nice little post about the model, explaining where the photo had been taken and some basic information about the photographer.
Luis adjusted his body and read the post slowly so he wouldn't get confused. French Elena wrote all her blog posts in broken English that was just as endearing as her soothing comments. Some sentences were difficult to understand; she had a tendency to use the English words in the wrong places, throwing the sentence structure into a wild tailspin. But with each comment she made, in spite of the way it was written--or perhaps because of it--the world seemed like a much nicer place to be.
Luis didn't visit Elena's blog site just to see naked men. Actually, there was very little about the site that aroused him sexually. He went there for the beauty and the truth, and to admire the artistic qualities other Web sites about gay men couldn't seem to capture. Even the overall design of Elena's site was different from others. Her banner was robin's egg blue, the color of a Tiffany's shopping bag. There were tiny, ornate golden scrolls and Florentine patterns surrounding the blue background that created a classic, sophisticated look. The name of the blog was done in gold script, with large wispy letters that had soft round curls and wiry turns. The understated elegance and simplicity combined with a formal, classic approach created a feeling of hope and stability Luis couldn't seem to find anywhere else in his life.
He read the blog post about the young man in the creased underwear three times without looking up from his phone once. While he finished the pretzel and the water, he stared at the photo until he knew every detail about the model and the setting. Sometimes Luis even left comments on the blog thread, thanking Elena for writing a good post, and she always replied to all her comments later in the day with a gracious note of thanks to each individual person.
But that morning he didn't leave a comment. It was getting late. When he was finished reading, he put the phone back into his pocket and yawned. Then he stood up, adjusted his jacket, and started walking back to Riverside Drive. He had an appointment later that afternoon and he wanted to go back to his apartment for a few hours' sleep. It was almost seven in the morning. If he went home now, he could get at least five hours' sleep.
A few minutes later, he walked up to the front door of his building and searched his pockets for his key. While he was looking for the key, he glanced across the street and noticed a familiar man sitting in a dark car. Luis bit his lip and lowered his head, then he stepped to the side so he could lean against the wall. He didn't want the man in the car to see him going into the building.
Luis lived in one of those older apartment buildings, where you could either enter through the front door with a key or press the buzzer so someone inside the building could unlock the door and let you in. He checked his jacket pockets first, then his pants pockets, but he couldn't find the damn key again. So he shrugged, rolled his eyes, and pressed the button below his landlord's name a few times.
The first few times he pressed the button nothing happened. After about twenty times, the front door unlocked and Luis stepped into the vestibule. The building had six floors and no elevator. He lived on the fifth floor, in a one-room studio with a small kitchenette and a postage stamp of a balcony next to a fire escape where he kept a few herbs and flowers.
By the time Luis opened the front door, the man who had been sitting in the car was now standing right behind him. "I've been trying to get you for days," the man said, following Luis into the building without being formally invited. "Where on Earth have you been?" He was a portly man in his mid-seventies, with a receding hairline, thick stubby fingers, and a flat nose. The top of his gray head met the bottom of Luis's chest.
"I'm sorry, Barney," Luis said, reaching for the banister. "I've been very busy." His voice was soft and pleasant and he smiled while he spoke, but these confrontations turned his stomach into knots. "I've been meaning to call you."
The man followed him up the stairs. "I'm not Barney," he said. "I'm Alvin."
While they climbed the stairs, Luis's landlord leaned over the top-floor railing and shouted, "Where's your key? I was sleeping. I don't get up before ten and you know that. I just gave you a new key last week. What's the matter with you?" He covered his ears with his palms. "Too much noise."
Luis looked up and shrugged. His landlord was an older man with a thick accent Luis wasn't sure about. It could have been German, or maybe Dutch. Luis had never been good with accents. People were people and he hated giving them labels.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Gordon," Luis said, pounding up the steps with little effort. "I must have left it someplace insignificant again." Insignificant was one of his new favorite words that week. He tried to use it as much as he could. The week before it had been the word mundane. And he had no idea what the next word would be.
"Well, you'd better find it," the landlord said, making fists with both hands. "I need my sleep. I have a routine and I don't like it disturbed." The louder he spoke, the thicker his accent became.
Luis smiled and yanked off his black tie. Then he removed his white dinner jacket and unbuttoned his white shirt right there in the hallway where both Mr. Gordon and Alvin could watch him. He didn't know much about the world, but he knew one thing for sure: the only way to calm the old guys down was to start taking off his clothes. It never failed. He could get away with anything if he showed some skin.
While Alvin blinked at Luis's naked chest, Luis opened the door to his apartment and slipped inside fast. He never locked his apartment. The front door to the building was always locked and he figured locking his door was a waste of time. But he closed the door hard so Alvin couldn't follow him in, then clicked the lock while Alvin stood in the hall and started to yell at him again.
"I thought you liked me," Alvin said, banging on the door. "I've been paying for you and all your friends for the last month. Dinner here, nightclubs there. I've spent a small fortune on you and I've treated you very well. And this is how you treat me? I thought we had something together...a future."
Luis rolled his eyes and looked up at the ceiling. This Alvin character certainly was a persistent little fellow. All Luis wanted to do was go to bed and get a few hours of sleep. Was this too much to ask?
So while Alvin stood outside his door ranting, Luis kicked off his shoes and stripped down to his white boxer briefs. For the life of him, he'd never understand what these older guys wanted. He'd made it clear to Alvin their relationship would never be anything more than platonic, and he'd thought Alvin had agreed to his terms. And now here Alvin was, banging on his door, expecting more than Luis could offer--or was willing to offer. The other thing Luis had learned to watch out for with these older guys was their ability to steal energy. They could be absolutely exhausting. Though they paid the bills, what they took in return couldn't be replenished. And Luis didn't like handing out his energy to just anyone.
When Luis reached down to remove his black socks, there was a loud door slam from above. It sounded as if Mr. Gordon was looking down from the top floor and shouting at Alvin. "You get out of my building, you old fool, and leave this nice boy alone. Or I'm calling the police right now." Evidently, it didn't occur to Mr. Gordon he was about the same age as Alvin.
Luis took a deep breath and exhaled. He knew Alvin had a wife and a family, and wouldn't want to get involved with the police. Luis wasn't sure what Alvin did for a living, but his family was involved in politics and he kept a very low profile.
Sure enough, right after Mr. Gordon said this, Alvin stopped shouting and banging on the door. There was a moment of silence, then Luis heard Alvin walking back down the wooden steps.
When Luis knew it was safe, he opened the door and stepped into the hall. When he looked up, Mr. Gordon was still leaning over the banister, with a telephone in his hand and a finger ready to speed-dial 911. Luis wasn't wearing anything but white boxer briefs by then. He'd just had his entire body waxed the day before and he'd been to an indoor tanning salon two days before that. His delicate muscles were smooth and soft and bronze.
Mr. Gordon pointed at Luis and said, "I need my sleep. I'm going to get a dozen keys made this afternoon and give them all to you." His voice started out loud, but grew softer when he realized Luis was in his underwear and bare feet.
Luis looked up at him and smiled. He stuck his thumbs into the elastic waistband of his white boxer briefs and pulled the waistband down to the middle of his hips on purpose. He stopped just before his penis and looked up at Mr. Gordon. He smiled, arched his back a little, and said, "I'll probably lose those keys, too. It's no use, Mr. Gordon. I'm just not good with keys and insignificant things like that." He spread his legs wider and lowered the back of his underwear so that half of his firm, round ass would be exposed. He smiled and said, "Please don't be upset with me, Mr. Gordon." He knew Mr. Gordon well. The old guy had a loud bark, but whenever he saw Luis in his underwear, or less, he started to purr.
"Are you upset with me, Mr. Gordon?" Luis asked in a soft, timid tone. Though he wasn't blond, he'd learned that even brunettes could also play the dumb-blonde routine and get away with it when they were in their underwear.
Mr. Gordon leered at Luis's almost naked body and pursed his lips. His eyes widened and he had to adjust his eyeglasses to focus. "It's just that you should be more careful with your keys," he said. "Nice young men like you have to be more aware these days. Why, anything could happen and you wouldn't be prepared to get into your own building without a key. I worry about you sometimes."
"Are you going to throw me out of the building now?" Luis asked, turning to the side and lowering the back of his briefs all the way so Mr. Gordon could see his entire ass.
Mr. Gordon pressed his palm to his throat and ran his tongue across his bottom lip. "It's okay," he said, waving his hand. "I was just in a bad mood this morning. You're a good boy."
Luis pulled up his briefs and spread his legs. He leaned back and grabbed his dick in a casual, unconscious way. While Mr. Gordon watched him, he moved his dick to the left, then to the right. "Thank you, Mr. Gordon," he said, pouting. Then he blew Mr. Gordon a kiss and walked back into his apartment so he could get some sleep.
* * * *
When Jase Nicholas pulled off the Henry Hudson Parkway, the rear wheels of his extended cab pickup truck went up the curb and nearly clipped an older man walking a small dog. The man jumped back just in time. He lifted his fist, waved it in the air, and shouted words Jase wouldn't have used in private, let alone on a public street.
Jase slowed down and lowered his window to apologize. He wasn't used to driving such a large truck, especially in the city. But when he looked back and smiled at the guy, the guy was still cursing at him. So he nodded and waved, then shrugged his shoulders and continued driving.
A few blocks away, not far from Riverside Park, he pulled into a garage and put the car in park. When he switched off the engine, he took a deep breath and rolled his eyes. At least he'd arrived there safely, without demolishing anyone or anything. He'd never been the most secure driver, and driving in Manhattan took more skill than he had.
Before he got out of the truck, he lowered the visor and looked into the vanity mirror. His eyebrows rose and he ran his palm down the back of his head. His sandy hair had been lightened with streaks of blond. His hair hadn't been this short since high school. He'd always kept it long and parted in the middle without taking too much time to care what it looked like. And he'd always worn a full, heavy beard. For a second, Jase wondered who the clean-shaven, bleached-blond stranger in the vanity mirror was. The image staring back at him looked more like thirty than forty, and Jase wasn't sure how he felt about this. In any event, the flamboyant hairstylist had been right. This new short haircut with a neat little turned up wave at the top of his head had taken years off him. And the blond streaks made him feel like a different person.
When he got out of the truck, he adjusted his black leather jacket and smoothed out his new jeans. The jeans were tight, with a low-rise waist that hugged his slender hips, only they kept riding up his legs and squeezing his balls. The black thong he was wearing beneath the jeans kept riding up the crack of his ass. The thong had to go. He could get used to wearing low-rise jeans. With time, he could learn to like the new short trendy haircut all the gay guys were wearing. He could even learn to tolerate driving his pickup in Manhattan. But he'd never get used to wearing the thong. If it came down to a choice, he'd rather not wear any underwear at all.
While he was leaning over and removing his suitcases from the back seat, the parking garage attendant walked up to him and said, "You need any help, dude?"
Jase pulled two suitcases and a shoulder bag out of the back seat and turned. The parking garage attendant was a lanky guy in his mid-twenties, with a shaved head and a patch of dark fuzz on the bottom of his chin. There were diamond studs in both his ears and his jeans were so baggy they fell below his waist and exposed the waistband of his printed boxer shorts.
Jase smiled. "I'm fine, thank you."
The parking attendant looked him up and down. "Yes, you are," he said, with one eyebrow raised and a half smile. When he moved his right arm, a tattoo of a cross on his large bicep jiggled up and down.
Jase blinked and leaned forward. "Pardon me," he said.
"I like your jeans," the attendant said. "They're hot." His voice was deep and soft. He had a slight accent, not too obvious.
"Ah well," Jase said, adjusting his shoulder bag, "the keys are in the truck. I'm not sure when I'll be back." He knew the guy was coming on to him, but he wasn't sure how to react. For a moment, he missed his long shaggy hair, his untrimmed overgrown beard, and his loose, rumpled chinos.
The parking attendant pursed his lips and stared between Jase's legs. "Don't worry about anything," he said. "I'll take good care of you."
"Ah well, thanks," Jase said, turning to leave. He wanted to get out of there and away from this guy as fast as he could.
"If you ever need anything," the guy said, "just let me know."
Jase lifted his arm without turning around, and waved. "I'll do that," he said.
When he was on the street and away from the garage entrance, he closed his eyes and exhaled. He had a feeling the parking attendant had been staring at his back the entire time. Though he was flattered that such a young man would be interested in him, he was slightly annoyed at the way the guy had leered at him. If this was any indication of what his life was going to be like now that he was living in Manhattan, he wasn't sure how long he'd last there.
By the time he reached the font steps of his new apartment building, it was nearly noon. The sun was shining on his shoulders and the black leather jacket he was wearing felt heavy and confining. He looked up at the building and stared at the tall front door, then forced his hand into his front pocket and pulled out a key.
But when he inserted the key into the lock, it wouldn't turn. He jiggled it up and down and back and forth and nothing happened. It had been years since he'd been to one of these small apartment buildings that didn't have doormen. He hesitated for a moment, then pushed a white button below the center mailbox a few times and waited. A moment later, the front door unlocked and he crossed into the vestibule and stared at the steps with his tongue pressed to his cheek. His apartment was on the fifth floor. He hadn't actually thought about walking up and down five flights when he'd rented the place.
Hhe was halfway up the fifth-floor staircase when it occurred to him it wasn't as bad as he'd thought it would be. He was slightly out of breath, but in a strange way he felt exhilarated and refreshed at the same time. All those years of obsessive biking, running, and swimming had paid off. All the physical risks he'd taken with his sailboat and all the times he'd done what everyone told him he couldn't do had been worthwhile after all. When he reached the last step on the fifth floor and looked up, he knew he'd made the right decision to move into this particular building.
There was a young man with dark brown hair standing in a partially open doorway. He had a purple sleeping mask pushed up on is forehead, his eyes were still heavy with sleep, and he'd just finished yawning. His lips were full and round and his delicate features were a rare combination of soft curves and sharp points. For a moment, Jase just stood there on the top step, staring at the young man's face. Through all five flights, Jase's heartbeat had remained steady. But now, for some reason, it was ready to jump out of his chest.
He smiled. "I'm sorry I disturbed you. I guess they sent me the wrong key. I couldn't use it in the front door. It's probably for the apartment door." He placed his suitcase on the landing and pulled the key out of his pocket to prove he was telling the truth. "I'm renting the apartment next door to you."
The young guy rubbed his eyes and yawned again. "Don't worry about it," he said, in a soft, even voice. "I've had a few key problems myself." Then he smiled and looked Jase up and down with a blank expression.
Jase lifted his suitcase and crossed to the guy's door. "I'm sorry to bother you again," he said. "But I need to use the phone." He pulled a cell phone out of his back pocket and held it up. The bottom half of his flip-top phone was dangling from the top half. He'd accidentally stepped on it earlier that morning trying to pump gas. Until this week, it had been years since he'd pumped his own gas. "I broke mine this morning and I haven't had a chance to get a new one yet. I'm Jase Nicholas." He was sorry he'd mentioned his last name. He wasn't sure whether or not this guy would recognize it.
The guy remained expressionless. When he heard Jase's last name, he didn't so much as lift an eyebrow. "I'm Luis Fortune," he said, then slowly opened the door and stepped to the side so Jase could enter.
Jase couldn't overlook what this guy was wearing: just a white formal dress shirt. The tails of the shirt stopped at the top of his silky smooth thighs, and the top of the shirt was wide open, exposing his round, compact chest muscles.
When Jase stepped inside, he looked around and rubbed his jaw. "I guess you're new here, too," he said. There were unopened boxes haphazardly strewn across the floor, a pile of shoes near the kitchen door, and another pile of clothes beside the bedroom door. There wasn't much furniture. A small French loveseat with gilded trim and zebra print material and two flashy mirrored side tables were in the middle of the living room. On a small French desk near the window, there was a small flat-screen television and a laptop computer.
"I've been here about a year," Luis said, closing the door.
"I see," Jase said. He watched him close the door. When his arm went up to push the door shut, the back of his shirt rose and exposed the bottom part of his ass. Jase swallowed back hard and cleared his throat, trying to control the bulge in his low-rise jeans from getting bigger than it already was.
Luis yawned again and walked to the middle of the living room. He put his hands on his hips and looked back and forth a few times. "I know I left the phone somewhere in here. I was using it this morning in the park."
Then he moved closer to the loveseat and said, "I remember now." He lifted the zebra cushion and reached for the iPhone. When he bent down, the shirt rose up and exposed most of his ass. "I put it under the cushion so it wouldn't wake me up."
"Why didn't you just turn it off?" Jase asked, standing there with his hands in his pockets and furrowed eyebrows, trying hard not to stare at Luis's naked legs.
Luis handed Jase the phone and waved his arm. "I'm not sure how to turn it off. The last time I did, I couldn't get it back on again. I'm not very good with insignificant things like phones and computers. I only know enough to use them to do what I need them to do for me."
Jase took the phone and stepped forward. He moved his left leg first and heard a weak growl. When he looked down at the floor, the most unusual-looking animal he'd ever seen was staring up at him. He assumed it was a small dog; it couldn't have been a cat. It was completely bald, except for long shocks of shaggy blond hair on its head and a few sprigs of shaggy blond hair above its paws. The trembling animal was looking up at Jase, but Jase wasn't sure if it was growling or purring.
"I'm sorry," Jase said, tilting his head to the side. "I didn't mean to frighten her."
Luis smiled and reached down so he could scoop the animal up in his arms. Then he kissed the top of its head. "He's a Chinese Crested. I saw him in a back alley one night and he followed me home. Poor little dog doesn't have a name. I didn't want a pet, but he didn't give me much of a choice. I couldn't just leave him out in the cold." He carried the dog into the kitchenette and poured some dry dog food into a small lavender bowl. When he put the bowl on the floor so the dog could eat, he looked up at Jase and smiled. He shrugged and said, "It didn't feel right naming him. I don't want to be attached to anything or anyone until I find out where I'm going and what I'm doing in life. I'm not sure what that is yet, but I know how it feels. It feels like Elena's Romantic Treasures and Tidbits."
"Is that a restaurant?"
Luis laughed. "No, it's not a restaurant. It's a place where I go when I'm feeling alone and impatient and homesick all at the same time."
"Like when you're depressed and anxious," Jase said. He knew that feeling well. A month after his fortieth birthday he woke up in the middle of the night absolutely terrified for no reason at all. It was as if his entire life had hit him smack in the face. Suddenly, the fact that he wasn't going to live forever became a reality he'd never faced before. And when it occurred to him that he was halfway through his life and he'd never been completely honest with himself, his heart started to race so fast he almost called the paramedics.
"It's not like depression," Luis said. "When you're depressed you just eat as much chocolate as you can and watch old movies that make you cry. This feeling is more like being terrified of something that isn't there. You're scared, but you're not sure why and you don't know if the feeling will ever go away. Don't you ever feel that way?"
Jase smiled. "Yes, I do," he said. He'd felt that way so many times since the night he'd realized he was middle aged, and he'd decided to cut his hair, buy tight low-rise jeans, and move to a fifth-floor walkup on the Upper West Side to find out who he was.
"When I feel that way," Luis said, crossing back to the kitchen, "I go to Elena's Romantic Treasures and Tidbits. It's a blog on the Internet, written by this wonderful woman in France who loves everything about gay men. It's a magical place, no kidding. When I'm there, nothing bad can happen, and all those horrible feelings go away."
While Jase stood there holding the iPhone, Luis poured himself a tall glass of orange juice and walked over to the French loveseat. When he sat down, the back of his white shirt rode up and exposed half of his naked ass. Jase rubbed his chin and looked away. His jeans were beginning to tighten and he didn't want Luis to think he was one of those aggressive older men who were always chasing after young guys.
"If I could just find something in my own life that makes me feel the same way I feel when I'm reading Elena's blog, I'd give that little dog a name, set up house, and have a real life," Luis said. He took a sip of juice and pointed to the phone in Jase's hand. "Didn't you have to make a phone call? I'm sorry. I'm talking too much. People tell me I tend to ramble on about nothing."
Jase smiled. "I do have to make a call. I just drove up here from Palm Beach and I promised someone I'd call Friday afternoon. I think this is Friday. I've been driving so much I lost track."
"Oh no, I did it again," Luis shouted, and jumped up from the loveseat. He pressed his palm to his chest with one hand and pulled the sleep mask off his head with the other. "This is Friday. I have an important appointment every Friday." He ran into the bedroom and pushed the bathroom door open so hard it banged into the wall.
Jase started to dial the phone, but he stopped because the guy was still talking. He'd never met anyone who could talk so much without stopping for a break.
"I hate Friday," Luis said. He was in the bathroom and Jase couldn't see him.
Jase stood up and went into the bedroom. "Why do you hate Friday?"
"Friday always hits me in the face without warning," Luis said. "One day it's Monday, and the next thing I know it feels like a week with four Thursdays."
Jase put the phone down on a table and stood there with his hands in his pockets. He didn't want to intrude, but he couldn't leave either. Though they weren't talking about anything important, this was one of the most interesting conversations he'd ever had. "A week with four Thursdays?"
"There's an old French cliche: in a week with four Thursdays," Luis said, still shouting from the bathroom. "It means the same thing as 'when hell freezes over.' I read it once on Elena's blog. And for me, after Monday, every day feels like a Thursday. Then, before you know it, Friday comes around and it's time for the weekend."
Jase rubbed his jaw. "I guess that makes sense." It really didn't. But he was enjoying himself too much with this adorable, funny young man to point this out.
"Would you be a sweetheart and look in the closet for a pair of brown Prada shoes?" Luis said. "I have to pull myself together fast. I look awful. And Derrick just hates it when I'm not on time for these showings."
Jase hesitated for a moment. Luis didn't seem apprehensive about giving a total stranger permission to look inside his closet. Then he shrugged, opened the closet door, and looked down. There must have been more than a hundred pairs of shoes lining the bottom of the closet. And most of them were either black or brown. He wasn't sure what Prada shoes looked like, so he grabbed a pair of brown loafers with square, flat toes and placed them on a bench at the foot of the bed.
When Luis came out of the bathroom, still wearing the white dress shirt, he looked down at the shoes and frowned. "Not those, silly. I would never wear them to a real estate showing." He went to the closet, pulled out some clothes, and reached down for another pair of shoes that didn't look much different from the pair Jase had chosen.
But Luis didn't get dressed in front of Jase. He went back into the bathroom and closed the door. And he didn't stop talking. While he dressed, he told Jase he was meeting a guy named Derrick, an older guy who worked in real estate he met every Friday afternoon. He said they looked at real estate listings, and Derrick took him out for a late lunch afterwards. He also made it clear this wasn't a date; just two friends getting together.
While Luis rambled, Jase sat down on the edge of the unmade twin bed and looked around. Though the bedroom had more furniture than the living room, it was just as messy and just as disorganized. But it wasn't dirty. The white sheets on the bed were spotless, the wooden floors were shining, and the tops of the tables didn't have a speck of dust. There was a faint smell of something spicy. In a hidden nook not far from the windowsill, Jase noticed a small light. He stood up and walked to the window. On a round pedestal table, he found a scented candle burning in a round crystal dish. He lifted one eyebrow and blew out the candle, wondering if Luis would have blown it out before he left for his appointment with this older guy named Derrick. Something like this could burn down the entire building.
But when the bathroom door opened and Luis stood there fully dressed, Jase forgot all about the burning candle. His lips parted and his hands fell to his sides. He'd never witnessed such a dramatic transformation.
"Do I look okay?" Luis asked. He leaned against the door frame and smiled. Every single hair was in place, his face was smooth and shaved, and his eyes were shining.
"You look great," Jase said. Luis was wearing a cream-colored suit and brown shoes. His shirt was pale blue and he wasn't wearing a tie. Jase had never seen a more attractive man. And he'd never seen anyone get dressed so fast and wind up looking so good.
Luis hurried into the bedroom and said, "I just need one more thing." Then he pulled a pair of white athletic socks out of the dirty clothes hamper, shoved them into a brown leather briefcase, and walked back into the living room.
Jase followed him. "What are the socks for?"
Luis put his phone in his pocket and kissed the little dog goodbye. "I won't get my five hundred dollars this afternoon if I don't give Derrick my used socks. Would you please be a dear and walk the little doggie in an hour? I always leave the door unlocked. His leash is somewhere in the kitchen. I'd do it myself, but I'm already late. I'll return the favor to you."