His father’s voice echoed in his head, ‘Don’t make any decisions now. Take some time to think.’
Sadly, ‘thinking’, was making him more upset.
Thinking about the group of friends he’d left in West Hollywood, thinking about the life he had before he had met Mark Antonious Richfield, thinking about his routine of driving a limousine and working out at a gym, yoga three times a week, dinners out on Santa Monica Boulevard…
Then, the train of his thoughts moved on to the present.
Living in a thirteen room palace; one with a stable, basketball and tennis courts, two pools, a spa, a cook, a manservant, a chauffeur…
With his association and marriage to Mark Antonious had come fame and fortune. Stan had just wrapped filming on a huge blockbuster war movie, B is for Bravo. Without Mark’s name, Stan never would have been hired. He knew that.
What had he expected?
He and Mark had an affair. A year ago, they had fallen in love. At the time, Mark was married to the former cop turned CEO, Steve Miller. Mark cheated on Steve…so…
Mark cheated on him.
He deserved this, right?
Stan entered the marble foyer. Before he opened the front door, he turned to look back into the living room.
Mark’s deceased father, Milt Richfield’s portrait was there and the gaze Mark’s father was giving Stan made his blood run cold.
That man had supposedly abused Mark; trying to beat the gay out of him and yet, somehow that monster was allowed back inside the home he built while his son ran the company he created.
Stan opened the front door and walked outside. The air cooled down in the evening, especially where they were, at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Paradise, California.
With the summer heat, the evenings felt marvelous.
Wearing jeans, a T-shirt and his work-boots, Stan closed the door behind him and stood on the pink quartz driveway, gazing above the high hedges that surrounded the front of the property, to the sky.
The stars were visible in all their glory in the low ambient light.
He walked towards the garages. They had several cars including his. Mark had given him a green Lamborghini Aventador as a gift. On Stan’s wrist was a Patek Philippe watch. Another gift from the supermodel. A wedding gift.
Stan walked past the garages which held Mark’s TVR Tuscan, Steve’s Mercedes, and the limousine. Steve’s wife Tadzio had her hatchback parked outside the garages under a carport.
On the far side of the mansion was a service road where several employee cars and pickups parked during the days. Stan walked its length, under the gnarled fruit and nut trees, hands in pockets, head low.
With just the light of the full moon, he made his way to the back of the extensive property; around the tennis courts, the basketball court, and below the outdoor pool. A paved path was lit by solar lights, leading to the pool which was glowing with blue lamps.
It was so pretty it made his eyes tear up with emotion.
He made his way to the paddock. An enormous enclosure for three horses; Mark’s, Mark’s best friend, Jack Larsen’s, and his.
Yes. Mark Antonious had given him a horse.
Not just any horse. A Percheron mix.
Stan entered the stable. It was dim with only a nightlight lit near the stairs to a loft.
The horses snorted, sensing him there. He walked to Bull’s stall. Bollward’s Tempest, ‘Bull.’ His big brown horse. Opening the stall door, Stan stepped into it, and Bull turned towards him, his dark eyes sparkling from the dim light.
“Hey.” Stan patted his rump and smoothed his hand over Bull’s high, wide, back to his mane. The horse nudged him gently, but didn’t react much. Bull was a big teddy bear. A gentle giant. This sweet animal had withstood the ire from Mark’s Arabian stallion, Piccadilly’s Phantom. Bull had been kicked by that high-strung horse.
As Stan thought about that confrontation, he heard Piccadilly snort and make noise.
Stan ignored it. He brought Bull a carrot, feeding it to him, hanging out with him to calm himself.
‘You have to decide what you want, Stan. And whether what you have is worth losing.’
His dad, Michael Bergman, a New York State Attorney General. Stan admired him. Knew his dad would give him sound advice.
‘You and Mark have a son now. I suggest you try your best to work this out before you make a rash decision.’
Yes. He and Mark had a son now. Isaac Milton Richfield. ‘Zak’. As Stan petted Bull, listening to him crunch the carrot, he thought about the media and their malicious gossip.
Mark and his superstar son, Alexander Mark Richfield, were the constant fodder for trolls and celebrity rumors.
Mark Antonious was The Nation’s Top Male Model, selected The Most Beautiful Man in the World, and The Sexiest Man Alive, even The Most Eligible Bachelor before Mark had married.
Mark’s son, Alexander, had inherited his dad’s gorgeous looks, his green eyes and thick brown hair.
Alexander starred in movie after movie, as well as working in a nighttime cable TV drama. Alex was the new ‘it’ boy in Hollywood.
The gossip stated that Mark had used Stan. Had paid Stan to find him a surrogate. Paid Stan with cash and fame, and Stan had ‘pimped out’ his good friend Becca McKenna.
It wasn’t true.
Becca had offered and she had indeed carried his and Mark’s baby, with Mark’s DNA, and been paid. But, it wasn’t a quid pro quo arrangement for him to get a movie deal.
Stan rested his arms across Bull’s shoulder, and his head on his forearms. The big horse was calm, maybe a little sleepy, as his head drooped and he swished his tail.
‘Stan, you knew Mark was a complex man when you married him. Maybe you need to know his motives for his indiscretion before you make a judgment.’
That was the one thing keeping Stan right here.
He had not ‘fucked around’. No. He had not slept with a cop for the sake of a climax or the thrill.
Mark had tried to impregnate his ex fiancée, Sharon Tice-Hill. According to the top model, he wanted them, him and Mark, to have another son. So, in Mark’s convoluted way, he had fucked Sharon for him.
Still, the lies, the betrayal, it wasn’t easy to conclude this was a black and white decision.
Stan opened his eyes and harkened to a voice.
“Is someone in here?”
He moved to the stall door. Larry McLeary, one of their two grooms was there. “It’s me.”
Larry spun on the cement flooring towards him. “Oh. Hi.” He held his chest at the start. “Is everything okay?”
Stan exited the stall and latched the door. “Yes. Just saying hi to Bull.”
“Okay. Sorry. I just heard noises.”
Stan inspected Larry. He was also in his twenties, and obviously living in the loft apartment. They had two stable hands at the moment, Andrew Wilson, and Larry.
Larry gestured to the ladder, and climbed it, back to the tiny loft studio apartment. “Goodnight, Stan.”