Mark Antonious Richfield didn’t buy into the whole pink and blue thing. Blue for boys, pink for girls…rubbish.
A coffee mug in his hand, Mark stood in the center of the remodeled ‘nursery’. His new husband, Stan’s, parents, Ali and Michael Bergman, had purchased most of the items they needed for this room. Last Thanksgiving, Mark hosted over thirty people for the long weekend, here, in his mansion in Paradise, California.
On a ‘Black Friday’ shopping trip to Sacramento, Ali and Michael had ordered everything, from a crib to a highchair, for their new grandchild, one that was expected this February.
Tadzio Andresen-Miller, Mark’s ex-husband Steve’s new spouse, had begun to add brightly colored cartoon characters from classic children’s stories, on the wall, painting them by hand.
The gorgeous blond runway model had many talents, art being one.
As Mark sipped the strong black espresso, he smiled at the sketch of a bunny rabbit, one that appeared to be out of Alice in Wonderland, with a waistcoat and a top hat.
The walls were pale blue, but that didn’t mean he expected a boy. He didn’t ask their surrogate, Becca McKenna. He didn’t want to know.
Since most of the baby’s furniture was glossy white, Mark liked the pale blue in contrast, like a sky with clouds.
He tapped a mobile which hung over the crib, and its music box played a few notes.
Warren, their manservant, had placed an ad in the local paper for nannies, live-in. Yes, Tadzio had offered, but Mark couldn’t imagine him taking the entire load.
Sadly, their horse groom, Andrew Wilson, had quit. Warren located them a new stable helper, Larry McLeary.
Why Andrew had left, and whether it had anything to do with the fact that he worked for gay men, wasn’t Mark’s concern. He didn’t care what race, religion, or sexual orientation people were. What he did care about is how they treated his animals, and his family.
Tadzio, his long blond hair pinned up in a ponytail, his light blue eyes shadowed with smoky powder and lined with mascara, held his phone in front of his face as he entered the room.
“Good morning,” Mark said, smiling at him.
“Alec iz on my phone!” Tadzio showed Mark.
Superstar movie actor, Alex was on location in the Bahamas on another film shoot. Mark spotted his son’s face on the phone.
“Hullo, love.” Mark put his eyeglasses on so he could see him clearly.
Tadzio leaned against Mark, sharing the phone.
“How are you, pet?” Mark placed his arm around Tadzio.
“Okay. Missing you guys.” Alex, his long hair flowing down his shoulders, had let his facial hair grow, giving him an older, more rugged look as a captain of a pirate ship. He had been cast in yet another gay romance, this time with a man younger than he was playing his love interest.
“How close are you to wrapping production?” Mark asked, sipping his coffee.
“Soon I hope. We had a couple of weather delays. I have another night shoot today.”
Tadzio held the phone out, showing off his artwork on the walls. “Alec! Here iz my painting.”
Mark caressed Tadzio’s hair lovingly and left the room, hanging his glasses from his shirt pocket.
The mansion his father had built in Paradise, California, was enormous; thirteen bedrooms, a spa with an indoor and an outdoor pool, workout room, sauna and Jacuzzi; a study, a theater/game room, two dining rooms, one formal, able to seat thirty guests, the other, smaller, more intimate.
They had three horses housed in a newly remodeled stable, tennis courts, a basketball court, and a detached garage that could contain at least six cars. He employed a chauffeur named Louis, a chef, Warren’s wife, Sierra, who worked daily. In addition to his fulltime staff were housecleaners, landscapers, and even window washers all of whom showed up once a month.
Mark and his ex-husband Steve Miller, had taken over Mark’s deceased father’s garment manufacturing company; Richfield-Miller International. They had offices in Paris, London, and here, in Sacramento.
As Mark made his way down the grand mahogany staircase to the marble foyer, his phone vibrated in his pocket. Mark paused on the first landing, set his empty cup on the pillar and took it out of his trouser pocket, putting his glasses back on.
Mark was the nation’s top male model for a decade. His biggest claim to fame was Dangereux Cologne. Mark had been the face of Dangereux, and now Dangereux Red as well, while his stunning young husband was the model for Dangereux Obsession. Since Mark’s move north, here to Paradise, and away from Los Angeles, the owners of Dangereux had offered to photograph him here, at the mansion or a studio close to it, in order to keep Mark as their top model.
One of the CEOs, TJ Brown, had sent him a reminder that they had indeed a photo-shoot looming, which meant, Mark was back to starving.
He had tried.
He had tried to extricate himself from the work; tried to stop the starving, the fainting, and the flaunting of his body for sales.
One of Mark’s biggest problems was not being able to say no. No- to Dangereux Cologne’s TJ Brown and Bob Sutter. No- to Charlotte Deavers, Alex’s pushy TV director. No- to people he felt he would let down.
He simply was terrible at it.