Jack Charles Larsen knotted his necktie in the mirror behind the door of his walk-in closet. He inspected his appearance, his blond hair and blue eyes, and then folded his suit jacket over his arm. Returning to his bedroom, Jack paused and took in the enormous space.
The white room was immaculately kept, the sleigh bed was as soft as a cloud, and his husband, talent agent Adam Lewis, was still in the grips of it.
Adam opened his dark brown eyes and smiled at him.
Jack draped his suit jacket over a chair and took a look at the blue abstract painting he had taken with him from their home in Malibu to hang up here, in this white room. It looked perfect on the wall over the headboard.
He and Adam had finally completely unpacked from their move north to Mark Antonious Richfield’s estate in Paradise, California.
Jack was one of the few of Mark’s inner circle who had visited the mansion here in Paradise while Mark’s parents were still alive. This home looked nothing like it had when Leslie and Milt Richfield walked its halls.
He sat on the bed next to Adam and caressed his rough jaw. “Are you hungry for breakfast?”
“Yes. I’ll eat with you.” Adam sat up and yawned, then scooted off the bed, entering the bathroom.
Jack waited for him, savoring the moment. He was going to work with Mark and his ex-husband, Steven Jay Miller, at Mark’s deceased father’s garment manufacturing company; Richfield-Miller International. They had offices in Sacramento, New York, Paris, and London.
Jack had left his law firm behind in Los Angeles, and hoped working for RMI was going to be less intense.
While Adam washed up, Jack stood from the bed and looked out of the windows. His and Adam’s bedroom faced the front of the estate; the trimmed green lawn, pink rose quartz lane, and high hedges surrounding the property.
When Adam emerged from the bathroom and dressed in jeans and a soft top, Jack put his eyeglasses on and unplugged his phone from its charger. He turned it on and read several missed text messages as he and Adam made their way to the first floor. Jack picked his jacket up and heard Mark’s soft British accent coming from the nursery.
Adam paused with Jack to peek in.
The Nation’s Top Male Model and his young second husband, Stan Charles Richfield, were changing diapers. The married pair had two sons, Isaac Milton who was nearing eighteen-months old, and very mobile and active, as well as Jacob Bentley, their eight-month old son, whose mother was Sharon Tice-Hill, the woman Mark had left at the altar a decade ago and then ended up screwing her in a church in Pasadena during a mass for Steve Miller’s police-sergeant father.
“Good morning,” Jack said as he continued on.
“Morning, love.” Mark gave him his gorgeous smile.
Adam and he kept going, walking down the grand mahogany staircase to the marble foyer.
The scent of food was making his mouth water. Jack approached the kitchen area of the large home. Their cook, Sierra, was busy making them breakfast.
Also in a business suit, Steve was in the nook, which was a large bench seating area with a view of the back of the home. With Steve was his transgender Swedish wife Tadzio Andresen-Miller, and Hunter Rasmussen, one of two firefighters that lived with them.
Hunter’s husband, Blake Hughes, had retired from the fire service and was now a nanny, helping Mark and Stan.
“Hey!” Steve greeted them happily. He too, was ready for their day at RMI.
Adam slid into the bench beside Hunter while Jack sat on the same side, facing Tadzio and Steve.
Sierra said, “I’ll be serving in the informal dining room.”
They had two dining rooms, one was slightly smaller and contained their wet-bar.
Now that eight of them were living here permanently, along with the two babies, the nook was too small for them all to eat comfortably.
But, they liked hanging out here having coffee.
“No problem, Sierra,” Steve said to the sweet matronly lady.
Jack was poured coffee by Sierra’s husband, their manservant, Warren. “Thanks.”
Jack sipped his coffee and gazed outside at the stable. His horse, Shadow of the Knight, a black thoroughbred, was housed here, along with Mark’s white Arabian, Piccadilly’s Phantom, Stan’s brown and white Percheron-mix, Bollward’s Tempest, or Bull, and Steve’s niece Chloe’s small brown mare, Sally.
Their groom, Andrew Wilson, was leading the horses out to their open paddock so he could muck stalls.
Jack exhaled a contented sigh as he thought about riding his horse this evening since the summer nights grew longer.
Adam sipped his double-espresso as he waited for Mark, Stan, and Blake to get the little ones ready for their breakfast. No more commuting from Malibu to downtown LA. Adam was going to walk the length of the mansion in his worn jeans, and sit at his computer in the study. That was his new ‘commute.’
Gazing at the meadow and mountain view, Adam enjoyed the smooth coffee as he inhaled the scent of bacon and browning butter. Sierra’s cooking…that’s what made being here pure pleasure.
Noise from the foyer caused Adam to turn to look. Isaac, or ‘Zak’ was already a little boy, no longer an infant. At eighteen-months, the bright toddler had a great vocabulary and was very active.
Seeing them all at the nook, Isaac ran towards them in excitement. “Aaydum!” Isaac knew his name and fell on him so he could get a hug.
Adam set his mug down and said, “Hey! Look who’s ready for breakfast!” Adam picked Isaac up to his lap. When the boy was very small, Adam didn’t have much of an interest in him, but now? Zak was awesome. He swam with them, slid down the slide, and absorbed what Blake and Tadzio taught him, including French.
Mark carried Jacob into the nook, and the Top Model not only looked fantastic, he was brimming with joy.
Isaac pointed to Adam’s face and said, “Nose.”
“Yup. That’s my nose.” Adam giggled.
“Dada? Anncakes?” Isaac asked.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Sierra?” Mark rocked Jacob in his arms while they waited.
“Seerah?” Isaac stood on Adam’s lap and leaned against him as he called to their chef, “I have anncakes?”
Tadzio laughed. “He speaks as good as me now.”
“Yes, Isaac! You have blueberry pancakes.” Sierra chuckled as she plated their food.
“Booberry!” Isaac clapped and hugged Adam.
Adam spotted Jack giving him a goofy smile, because Adam had been a little reserved about living with kids, but…awww. He hugged Isaac back.
Stan gestured to the informal dining room. “Why don’t we relocate?”
Warren agreed, saying, “Yes. We’re ready to serve.”
Adam let Isaac down to his feet and the happy little guy raced after Mark and Stan.
“Booberry anncakes, Daddy!”
“I know!” Mark chuckled.
Adam took his espresso with him as Tadzio wrapped her arm around his waist on their walk to the dining room.
“You start your new movie soon.” He smiled at her.
“Yes! I do. I am so excited.” She giggled, her powder blue eyes bright, her long blonde hair cascading down her shoulders. Tadzio had top surgery, which had completed her transition. She did not have bottom surgery.
Adam had read the script he had given to Tadzio. She aced the audition since she had been an actor for over ten years. But, the only issue Adam worried about, was now that Tadzio was auditioning and calling herself ‘Alexis Ridgeway’, Adam didn’t know who was aware she was a trans-woman, and who was not.
In this new film, she had to kiss a man, and Adam had no intention of informing the cast or crew. It shouldn’t matter. It was acting!
He took a seat with Jack on the same side of the table, and draped a cloth napkin over his lap, eager for Sierra’s booberry pancakes.
Mark set Jacob into his own highchair. Now the two boys could sit side by side. Jacob was starting to eat soft food, and Sierra, having honed her baby-food cooking skills on Isaac, served Jacob the same delicious homemade meals.
Stan helped Isaac with his bib, and Isaac was able to eat on his own without any help. He had a little spoon and fork, and a plastic cup without a lid. As he dug into his pancakes and sausages, Mark helped little Jacob with his soft food.
Jacob made happy noises and slapped the tray as Mark fed him Sierra’s amazing recipes.
Mark was served a double espresso and a yogurt and berry parfait while the men at the table devoured huge stacks of Sierra’s pancakes and wild boar sausages.
“Mark?” Tadzio said as she ate her sausage off her fork tines. “Did you see the internet iz asking for you to come back to Dangereux fulltime?”
Mark’s focus was on feeding Jacob at the moment. “Sorry? Come back?”
Adam chuckled. “You give ‘em an inch…”
Blake leaned back as Warren topped up coffee cups for them. “Thanks.”
“You’re very welcome.”
Blake said, “I don’t see why you can’t model, Mark.” He mixed cream into his coffee. “Stan and I have it under control.”
Mark wiped Jacob’s mouth with a napkin and fed him another spoonful. “Uhhh…model? I thought I had retired.”
Steve snorted as if he thought it was funny.
Stan, who also modeled for Dangereux’s Obsession ads, said, “I keep expecting TJ to email me with a new tour date.”
“You’re going on tour?” Blake asked, as if being the sole childcare giver was intimidating.
“No. I mean, not that I know of.” Stan devoured his breakfast in huge bites. He was a big guy, six-foot-four, and muscular. He was also only twenty-seven years old, younger than Mark’s first born son, Alexander, who was thirty.
Mark finished feeding Jacob his baby food and Warren handed him a bottle of formula.
Stan said, “Let me. You’re in your good suit.” Stan wiped his hands and mouth and took the tray off of Jacob’s chair, picking him up to sit on his lap.
Mark handed him the bottle and focused on his parfait.
Isaac patted the tray of his highchair and said, “Bottle, Dada?”
“Do you want a bottle?” Mark asked as he spooned the yogurt into his mouth.
“Esss.” Isaac nodded.
Warren patted Isaac’s head. “I’ll get you one.”
“Tencue, Wowen!” Isaac wiped his hands on a napkin.
Blake asked Isaac, “Do you want to sit on my lap while you drink it?”
“Pweeze?” Isaac tried to get out of his chair.
“Hang on.” Mark set his parfait down and took the tray off.
Standing and reaching over the table, Hunter picked Isaac up and handed him to Blake. While he did, Isaac laughed in a riot at being lifted over the table by the big fireman.
Mark chuckled at his sons and finished his parfait and coffee. “Right. Let me get ready.” Mark scooted his chair out and headed to his second floor bedroom.
He washed up in his private bathroom and then checked his phone before he pocketed it and his eyeglasses. His new film, Venetian Blue was having its premiere this Saturday evening, so he was going to be back in LA once again.
Mark read a text from Sharon Tice-Hill, asking when she was going to see Jacob, the son she had conceived after their illicit affair at Steve’s father’s funeral.
Even though a court had granted him full custody of Jacob, and Sharon visitation, Mark refused to allow her to see the baby. The state of her home and family life was at issue. He didn’t want Jacob anywhere near her or her brutish husband.
Mark ignored her texts and requested his attorney answer her queries. Mark didn’t have time for her nonsense.
Just as they discussed the cologne shoots, and tours, Mark read a text from the CEO, TJ Brown, to go on tour and model for their commercial ads…pretty please?
“Bloody hell.” Mark sat on the bed and tried to figure out how to answer him.
“Daddy!” Isaac raced in and fell over Mark’s lap, hugging him.
Stan set Jacob on the bed behind Mark and entered the bathroom. Isaac became curious and stood at the bathroom door to watch his dad.
Stan said, “Pretty soon we’re going to potty train you, buddy.”
“Poopy!” Isaac pointed to the toilet.
“Peepee this time.” Stan stood at toilet, the lid raising on its own when he did. It also flushed by itself.
“Peepee.” Isaac nodded in agreement.
Mark heard Stan chuckle and then pocketed his phone and drew Jacob into his arms.
Steve thundered from the foyer, “Mark! Chopper’s ten out!”
“All right!” Mark hollered back. He snuggled with Jacob while Stan washed his hands and Isaac inspected the toilet as the water drained the bowl.
Jack walked by their bedroom on his way to his room. Mark sighed and kissed Jacob then stood from the bed to get ready to go to work.
Blake lingered at their doorway. “Need me?”
Mark handed him Jacob. “He needs a nappie change and I must go.”
Isaac raced back to Mark and hugged his legs. “Dada? You hafta go?”
“Yes, pet.” Mark ran his hand over Isaac’s soft hair. “But I will return this evening.”
Jack emerged from his and Adam’s bedroom and stood with them.
Mark said to him, “Just as we spoke about Dangereux, TJ sent me a text.”
“Isn’t it weird when that happens?” Jack laughed.
“Marrrkkk!” Steve yelled.
“Yes! All right!” Mark crouched down to Isaac. He straightened Isaac’s little shirt collar. “When daddy gets home we can ride on Piccadilly. Yes?”
“Yes, Daddy!” Isaac hugged Mark’s neck and stomped his little feet.
“I love you, baby.” Mark kissed him.
“I love you, Dada.” Isaac stuck his finger in his mouth and held Mark’s hand as they walked to the staircase.
“Diaper change, bucko.” Stan picked him up and spun him around.
Isaac shrieked and laughed in joy.
Mark kissed Stan and Isaac and then headed to the foyer and an impatient Mr Miller.
Jack was right beside Mark on the stairs and as they walked past Milt’s portrait, Jack flipped him off, making Mark chuckle.
Tadzio was outside with Steve on the patio. The helicopter had landed and was on the heli-stop, its blades spinning slowly.
Steve kissed his wife and he, Jack, and Mark walked across the tall weeds in the meadow towards it. Jack helped Mark get in back and then joined him while Steve sat up front with their pilot.
Mark buckled in and held Jack’s hand as the copter became airborne, making Mark’s belly flop, and took them to downtown Sacramento in fifteen minutes.
Jack had never flown in a helicopter and was a little leery. Too many of these things crashed in LA and usually it was a celebrity. He tried not to look down as Mark read his phone while they flew over the highway below.
As he thought about working with Mark and Steve, Jack’s nerves slowly dissolved. Mark’s corporate attorneys did not work in the same building, so now Mark would have him right where he needed him. With him.
Mark had discussed a corner office with Jack, but Jack didn’t care where he had his desk. As long as it wasn’t Los Angeles.
As Stan and Blake changed diapers in the nursery, Stan discussed potty training with him.
“So, from what I read,” Stan bagged the dirty diapers and wipes as he spoke, “Isaac is supposed to watch us first, then we see how he does after asking us about it.”
Isaac appeared to listen carefully to him.
Blake finished changing Jacob’s diaper and set him in the bassinette while he washed his hands. “We have one of those potty trainers. Your mom bought it for Isaac on his birthday last year.”
“Where is it?” Stan finished changing Isaac and stood him up on his feet. Isaac went to Jacob’s bassinette and stared at him through the wooden bars. “Can we wimm, Daddy?”
“Yes.” Stan opened a cabinet and then a closet. “There it is.” He removed a boxed potty training seat from the packaging.
Isaac walked over to it, curious.
Blake crushed up the debris from the box and said, “That’s for you, Zak. That’s your own private potty.”
Isaac appeared confused.
Stan set it on top of the toilet in the nursery and explained, “You sit on it to poopy and peepee, no more poop and pee in the diaper.”
Blake said, “He’ll figure it out eventually. He’s smart.”
“Sure. Why not?” Blake took Isaac’s swimsuit out of his drawer and said, “It’s beautiful outside.”
Stan thumbed behind him. “I’ll get into my suit and come back.”
Tadzio poked her head into the nursery. “What are we doing?”
“Swimming.” Blake put a swim diaper on Isaac.
“Okay?” Stan asked her.
“Yes! I will change too.” She scooted down the stairs.
Stan thought about Adam working in the study all day. Even after he and Jack moved in, not much had changed, and that was fine by him.
Hollywood actor Jeremy Runner sipped coffee in his Beverly Hills home. As he enjoyed the rich dark roast, he gazed outside his patio doors to his backyard. He didn’t really have a view, but maybe a small sliver of one. There wasn’t a pool either, but he did have a nice flower garden with a coy pond.
He was working on another new film, Karma’s a Bitch. He played, yet another, flawed hero. Most of his previous parts were the exact same; the good guy, the noble, but screwed up man who finds love or some other cliché life change in the end.
It was the same with this one. But, at least he was playing a tough, macho, seasoned police veteran. That’s nice. No doubt he’d gotten the part after his role as a Navy SEAL in B is for Bravo. He had been nominated for an Academy Award for it, but lost to Carl Bronson. He did win one for a movie he starred in with Alex Richfield, The Hard Way.
As Jeremy pondered the macho role…he knew. Oh, yes. If he had come out publically as a gay man, he’d never get a part like this. Why being gay lessened the impact of an actor to play tough roles was beyond him. But, he didn’t make the stupid rules.
He also didn’t like or understand them. But, he was getting a lot of work, so he couldn’t complain.
His helper, Hazel, the woman that did the cooking, cleaning, laundry and shopping for him, had made him a soft boiled egg and toast for breakfast. She was off making the bed or washing laundry at the moment.
Jeremy set his cup on the counter and sent LAPD Officer Joe Scarbino, his boyfriend, a text, ‘what’s up, doc?’
‘yo! are you coming over tonight? BBQ on the beach?’
Jeremy smiled at the text. Joe had just moved to Malibu, renting a beach house Jack Larsen and Adam Lewis owned. Those two men made the leap to Paradise to live with the Top Model, Mark Antonious Richfield.
Joe, and two of his police detective pals, Mickey Stanton and Jeff Chandler, shared the house with Joe.
Joe was also involved sexually with the two detectives.
Jeremy wasn’t sure what to do about that.
He wasn’t exactly asking Joe to be his bride, not while he hid in the damn closet.
Jeremy sent Joe back a text, ‘sure. when I get through for the day, I’ll text you.’
‘stay the night?’
Although it was tempting, the commute from Malibu to Burbank was a pain in the butt. ‘How about I stay over the weekend?’
Jeremy pocketed his phone and picked his coffee cup back up. He had taken Joe to his parents’ home in Westwood recently to meet them. They adored Joe and that meant a lot to him.
Jeremy set his mug in the sink and prepared to leave for the studio. As he pocketed his wallet and keys, Jeremy knew his parents weren’t the only ones who were crazy about that crazy cop.
In his LAPD blues, Joe read his phone.
Homicide Detective Lieutenant Jeff Chandler left his suit jacket and holstered gun in the living room. Since the commute to their police division had gotten longer, they were all up earlier than they would like to be.
Robbery Detective Mickey Stanton did the same as his husband, setting his jacket and gun near the door and then filling a mug with coffee.
Joe stood at the glass slider as he drank a cup of coffee before he left. The ocean was hypnotic and he couldn’t believe they were living on the beach. Last night with the sound of the surf surrounding him, Joe slept like a log. The house he was trying to sell in Van Nuys never let him sleep like that. With the banging, groaning, and neighbors without mufflers on their heaps, he couldn’t even imagine sleeping well there.
He just wanted it to sell.
Now that it had been on the market for two months, he had to lower the price, and that pissed him off!
“Toast?” Jeff asked, holding up bread.
Mickey nodded and Joe checked his watch. He was now in the CPT, or the Community Police Team. After nearly being released on a medical disability since he was clobbered with a brick to the helmet in a rally turned riot in downtown LA, Joe was dragged back into being in a uniform once more.
“Scarb?” Jeff asked.
“Uh…no. I’ll have cereal.” Joe set his mug on the counter and filled a bowl with granola and topped it with almond milk.
He then, sat on the outside deck on a lounge chair to eat it. As he tried to keep from spilling on his dark uniform, Joe wondered if Jeremy was ever going to feel confident enough for them to live together.
He wasn’t a fan of the closet, but was in it at work.
Did it matter now? Should he just come out?
As he heard Jeff and Mickey talking in the kitchen behind him, Joe knew those two men were out. Publicly announced they were married and cohabitating.
But, both men were now off the front lines and no longer needed backup.
Joe didn’t think it would matter much at work, but, if word got out that Jeremy Runner was seen socializing with him, and Joe was out? That wasn’t good either.
He finished the cereal and stood from the padded chair, opening the slider. The two detectives were getting ready to go.
Joe rinsed his bowl and stuck it into the dishwasher, then locked the back slider and made sure he had everything.
They left together, and Mickey set the alarm.
Although it was absurd, they took three cars, because none of them knew if they would get out on time, or be required to stay late on a call.
So, in a trio of vehicles, they headed to work, preparing for a day at the LAPD. Joe made a mental note to check on the house in Van Nuys before he headed to Malibu tonight, after his shift.