Ben Marsan checked his watch again. The guests had arrived, and Nelson was late. Ben entered his bedroom and turned on a light. He picked his phone up off his nightstand and sent Nelson a message, ‘Are you on your way?’
He stood, impatient, and then turned off the phone. Before he rejoined the guests, he entered his private bathroom and inspected his appearance. He wore a suit jacket and slacks, but no tie, his collar opened at the top.
He touched his conservatively cut brown hair and stared into his own blue eyes. A houseful of business acquaintances and no partner to cohost with him…again.
Ben turned off the light and returned to his dinner guests.
He approached the caterer and said, “Go ahead and begin serving.”
“Yes, Mr Marsan.”
After checking the time on his gold watch in vain, Ben entered the sitting room where drinks and canapes were being served. He forced a smile and announced, “Dinner is ready. Why don’t we relocate?”
The couples, wearing in suits and cocktail dresses, held their drinks and made their way to the dining room.
“Is Nelson not joining us?” One of the wives of his business associate touched his arm lightly.
“He’s running late.” Ben had no idea where Nelson was.
She gave him a sweet smile and took her seat at the table.
“I gotta go,” Nelson said as he tried to button his shirt.
“No, don’t go yet.”
Smiling at this sexy siren, Nelson chuckled and stood near a full-length mirror to fasten his shirt.
Hands smoothed around him from behind and massaged his chest.
Nelson liked this pretty kitten. She was a model with aspirations to be an actress.
“Take me with you.” She pouted.
He saw her face in the reflection behind him. She was only wearing a bra and panties. The bed was a mess after they had made love.
“I can’t take you.” Nelson entered her bathroom, and amid the makeup and styling products, he used the toilet and washed his hands.
Julia leaned on the open bathroom doorframe, striking a pose. “Wouldn’t you rather be with me than a stuffy dinner party?”
“Yes, but I have to run.” Nelson pecked her cheek on his way by her. He picked up his phone and turned it on. It beeped with missed messages.
“Bye.” Nelson left her home and jogged to his car in her driveway. He tossed the phone on the passenger’s seat and revved the BMW, heading to Sherman Oaks.
After an appetizer the main course was served.
Ben ignored the empty chair next to him as the caterers he had hired placed the meal down for the guests.
The steak looked good but his desire to eat had vanished.
As the guests discussed politics and the economy, Ben heard the front door open and close.
He placed his napkin near his plate and said, “Please, excuse me.” He stood and investigated the noise.
Nelson had entered the home and was reading his phone in the foyer, which was dim.
Ben wasn’t happy Nelson was late. He was entertaining business associates, and this didn’t look very good.
Nelson, a man ten years younger than he was, at thirty, looked up at him and pocketed his phone. “Hey, babe.” He kissed Ben’s cheek.
“Hey, babe?” Ben peeked behind him. “You’re an hour late.”
“The traffic from San Diego was lousy.”
“Still. You could have left earlier and made the effort to get here on time.”
“The celebrity tennis match took longer than expected. I’m here now.”
Ben held him by his elbow and drew him to the dining room.
Nelson whispered, “I need a drink.”
Ben faked a smile and introduced his partner to those that did not know him, “This is Nelson Hayward.”
“Sorry, I’m late.” Nelson took the available seat. He grabbed a server and said, “Dry martini?”
Ben sat back down and placed his napkin on his lap.
Henry, a CEO from his company, asked, “Were you out of town?”
“Yes. Participating in a tennis tournament.” Nelson sat up higher when the server handed him a martini.
As the conversations resumed, and Nelson was given his starter and main course, devouring them both with a hearty appetite, Ben wondered about Nelson.
Recently he’d been ‘out of town’ a lot. The man didn’t hold a steady job. But, Ben tried to keep an opened mind when it came to his partner of a year.
He’d been young once too.
“So, Ben,” another CEO asked as they dined, “Do you expect this year to be bullish on the markets?”
As Ben gave his opinion of the economic prospects of a new year, he saw Nelson quickly shut off his phone, keeping it low, under the table, and then resume devouring the food.