Chapter Twenty Four: Best Christmas Eve Ever.
That evening the sky looked dark and miserable. Jay reflected on the past few days and realized he had experienced almost every emotion he could think of. Presently, he was feeling quite helpless and he hated feeling this way. If the state of Connecticut legalized shooting a man to death he would have been out there right now with a pocket pistol of some kind hunting B down.
Jay had already experienced what it was like to carry a gun around back home in Pittsburg. He found himself aligned with a group that called themselves the ‘Pink Posse’ who were more than happy to stand up for themselves by any means necessary including using guns. Jay reveled in the moment and enjoyed himself so much that at one stage he was quite turned on by the weapon. Eventually however, Jay came to his senses realizing that guns did more harm than good. But now, in this particular state of hopelessness he would have given anything to have the Pink Posse back, this time in hot pursuit of B and he cursed the fact that it was illegal here to do so.
Speaking of legal matters, Mel and Andy were sitting on the couch with Mel’s laptop open connecting to the internet. She had explained to the two lovers that she had received word from an anonymous source that B was on his way down to New Haven under the pretense to do some sight-seeing and to take some time off work.
“Sight-seeing?” Jay questioned. “Since when does B go interstate to look at the sights of anything inanimate?”
Mel had broken into a laugh. Like Jay she knew that B’s motive when not at work was one thing and one thing only and like Jay had suggested it had nothing to do with standard sight-seeing.
“People can change though,” Andy protested in a light and squeaky voice.
He was more hopeful than anything and would much prefer this reason to be true. He would welcome giving B a tour of New Haven any day over B coming here in pursuit of himself.
“Are you serious A?” Jay jumped in, eyes widened. “You know B. When have you ever known him to go somewhere purely for the sights? And people don’t change by the way beautiful, that’s leopards and their spots.”
But Andy was offended.
“Don’t be so condescending!” he replied. “Yes I know B is looking for nothing more than people and what he can do with them, but why come here for? There are plenty of them back home. Maybe the whole trial changed him and he wanted to see the place for himself. I did challenge him on it you know.”
Mel and Jay’s eyebrows had risen in unison and so Andy continued.
“Yeah at the diner…before all that took place,” Andy corrected seeing a knowing look in their eyes and not wanting to think about that particular moment.
“I told him that New Haven was a great place and that he wouldn’t survive one day here. Maybe he took it on as a challenge and wanted to see if he could.”
“But why now though sweetie?” Jay asked. “It’s two days before Christmas wouldn’t he just wait until the holidays are over?”
Mel agreed and moved the conversation on by suggesting the best thing to do would be to expedite a restraining order for B. Both Jay and Andy had been quite wary about it at the time especially considering what had happened in Pittsburg. But Mel had explained that with Andy living here in Connecticut that they would not face the same issues they had back then.
The internet connected and Mel typed in the digits for the judge.
“We’ll be speaking to Judge Santos,” Mel had explained to Andy. “We go way back, in fact my first trial was with her presiding and I’ve seen her many times since.”
The screen flashed and there in the all-black official robe sat a plump stern looking woman who frowned.
“Ms Marcus? This is a bit impromptu.”
“Yes your honor,” Mel replied. “But we’re in a bit of a state and needed to see you right away, I apologize.”
“Very well, proceed,” the judge replied.
By now Andy’s fears had raised again. This judge did not seem like she even wanted this chat to begin with, despite the fact that she hadn’t even heard the issue. Mel of course however, plowed on.
“This is my client Andy Thompson and he’s seeking an expedited restraining order.”
“I see,” replied the judge. “Nice to meet you Andy.”
“You too, judge your honor,” Andy fumbled.
Despite the words she had used it didn’t sound like she was greeting him at all, she sounded much crisper as though she had no choice but to address him.
“Ms Marcus,” the judge continued turning back to Mel. “What are the allegations?”
“Attempted stalking, your honor.”
“Attempted?” the judge quizzed.
“Well, yes your honor. He hasn’t come into contact with my client yet. However we have reason to believe that he is here in New Haven for the sole purpose of finding and hurting my client.”
Now the judge looked quite ticked-off.
“Pfft. So you’re telling me, you dragged me into this conference on a mere thought that it may happen? Do you have any factual evidence at all?”
“No Judge, only motive.”
“Ms Marcus, you know better than this. How am I to grant the order when nothing has happened yet?”
“But your honor,” Mel whined, her demeanor changing quite quickly. “We were stopped in Pittsburg because my client doesn’t live there. Now the man in question has followed him to his own home town!” Mel protested.
“I’m sorry Ms Marcus, but unless you can provide something better than that I will dismiss you.”
“But you’re honor!” Mel whined again.
“Ms Marcus!” the judge snapped. “Stop this whining and get me what I need. I expected better from you Mel. Happy holidays Andy.”
With that the judge disconnected and Andy and Mel were left looking at a blank screen.
“Well,” Mel sighed. “That went well.”
“Maybe I won’t run into him,” Andy offered, though quite lamely.
Mel and Jay just shook their heads and gave each other a knowing look.
The following morning Rick woke up with a start. He had the most vividly horrific dream of his life and had woken up in a sweat. In the dream Rick sat before a judge in court room that he hadn’t even recognized. Flames of fire had surrounded the borders of the room and the chairs and tables not to mention the judge’s bench were all a dark shade of red. The judge was the most peculiar however, looking like a cross between an old man and Satan himself. Rick had been asked by the judge to choose his fate. On one side of the room stood Bryce literally lying in a mound of cash shaped like a beanbag looking all calm and relaxed, while on the other side stood Jay and Andy who were seated precariously close to the flames bordering the room. Rick was given the option to join Bryce and be happily contented for the rest of his life, however in turn Andy and Jay would burn for all eternity in the flames. The other option was to go with Andy and Jay rescuing them; however he would remain a servant for the rest of his life.
Ashamed as he was for it now, greed and a tough upbringing saw him choose the former and just as Andy and Jay were about to be thrown into the flames Rick woke up.
Taking a moment to right himself, Rick quickly bolted for the shower and got dressed. Just as he was putting his shoes on there was a knock at the door.
“Come in,” Rick called, bracing himself for whatever Svedantcha through his way.
However, it wasn’t Svedantcha at all it was Carmita. She strode into the room and sat down next to Rick on his bed.
“Urgh,” she cried in disgust. “If I’d have known the walls were this colour I would have had them changed. How have you not thrown-up yet?”
Rick smiled. He had grown to love this woman as much as friends who had only recently met could. Despite the fact that he felt indebted to her for practically saving his life, he had actually grown fond of the woman she was. She was always kind and cheerful and ready to help out when and where she could and though Rick had never met a celebrity before he guessed this wasn’t a common trait.
“It’s the servant’s quarters, what did you expect?” he asked light heartedly.
“Better than this,” she spat. “One of the places I lived in the servants quarters were like living in an apartment.”
“Pool house?” Rick questioned.
“Pretty much,” Carmita smiled. “Got to love the rich, they’re fabulous!”
“It’s ok,” Rick sighed. “I’ll deal. I’m kind of used to it by now.”
But Carmita was having none of it.
“Honey, please,” she replied. “No false modesty with me ok? No, this has to go. Not only is it bad for you, but it’s horrible for my reputation.”
Rick finished tying his shoes and grabbed the jacket he was told to wear, Carmita continued as though she hadn’t noticed.
“Any way, the reason why I’m here is…” she then noticed where Rick was. “Sit back down will you? Besides grumpy-bum is not here today. She’s off for the holidays.”
“Sh-sh-she…goes home?” Rick stammered not daring to believe it.
It may have been Christmas Eve, but he felt like the actual day had come 24 hours early thanks to this news and this news alone.
“Merry Christmas!” she smiled and raced around the door of the room only to rush back in with a bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvee.
“I think that’s the best gift I’ve ever had!” Rick beamed.
“Ok you, change into comfortable clothes and meet me in the lounge. It’s time we had some fun!”
Eyes sparkling Carmita left the room.
Moments later Rick arrived in sweats and a t-shirt feeling more comfortable then he had in a very long time.
Hours passed and Rick and Carmita had thoroughly enjoyed themselves, however just then Rick received a text on his phone.
How goes the plan?
We still good?
Haven’t heard anything – Bryce.
Rick’s mood changed instantly and Carmita noticed.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Ah, nothing,” Rick replied, hastily stowing his phone away.
“Don’t give me nothing,” Carmita replied harshly, the pacified herself. “Rick, I want to help you. You’re right now, one of my best friends here. If I can help, let me help.”
Rick debated over what to say and then realizing that Carmita was not about to give up he thought he’d give her a try.
“Ok so I’m wrestling with a big decision,” he said at last.
“Oh?” Carmita questioned, pouring out some more champagne for the pair. “That’s where I do best, ask away.” She finished passing Rick’s newly filled glass to him.
“Well…” he started pondering how to actually talk about it without mentioning names.
“Someone I know, wants me to help them find a friend,” he paused.
Unfortunately Carmita thought that meant he was finished.
“Is that all?” she asked, surprised that this was such a hard decision. “Does this friend not want to be found? Do you not like the person who asked?”
“No… and no,” Rick replied.
“Well then mister, I’m confused,” she admitted.
“It’s not so much that I need to find the friend, but what will happen to the friend once he’s found,” Rick admitted.
Carmita who had been sipping her wine at that point swallowed and rather firmly placed the glass back down on the coffee table.
“Rick? Do I need to phone the police? Be serious with me Rick, do I?” she asked.
“No, well, I don’t think so. I mean I haven’t found him yet anyway so at the moment we’re good.”
“Well,” Carmita paused in thought. “What did the man say he would do when he found him?”
Rick thought back to what Bryce had said.
“He didn’t actually say he would do anything with him,” Rick admitted, recalling that Bryce only wanted him found and that apparently they had worked together in the past.
“He said they used to work together and that he was a great artist.”
“Maybe your friend wants his picture painted,” Carmita offered. “I nearly had one done once, was a total disaster…”
“Tried to get into your pants?” Rick cut her off.
“Rick!,” Carmita laughed. “Not at all! He was gay!”
The pair laughed.
“No, I couldn’t sit still long enough…”
“That’s what he said,” Rick replied and then realized he’d probably had a little too much to drink.
Carmita picked up a cushion and flung it at him laughing as it hit him squarely in the face.
“Watch it,” Rick laughed. “She may be gone now, but I’ll have to clean this before she gets back,” he remarked looking at the small drops of champagne that managed to slip out of the glass and onto the sofa.
“Oh Rick, 2 pumps of Carmita’s favourite cleaner as you call it and it will be gone in a flash!” she laughed.
At that Rick flung the pillow back at Carmita whose laughter just got louder. If she was going to spend the holidays away from her friends in Beverly Hills, she was happy that she at least had one friend here who could make her laugh.
“Ok so, what’s the issue then?” she asked as she calmed herself. “If he’s not going to hurt the person then what?”
“I just…I just don’t know if he will, I mean,” then he thought of an idea. “What if you were asked to find someone for a friend and it turned out, say for instance that you knew the person you needed to find?”
“Ooooh hypothetical games!” Carmita squeaked again pouring another glass for herself. “Ok well, how much do I trust the first person?” she asked.
“Say you’d only just met them.”
“Yes, but do I trust them?” she asked again. “There’s a difference. I may meet someone and just know I can trust them right away and trust me, there are people I have known for ages that I will never trust.”
Rick pondered the question. Carmita had raised a valid point. Granted he had just met Bryce and so normally he would just not trust a person till he got to know them. On the other hand, he’d known Andy for years, but had he met Andy in a dark alley-way last night, would he trust him then?
“Yes, you trust them,” he said out of nowhere. “More than those who continue to refill their wine glass every two minutes! What’s going on there missy?” he laughed.
“Hey!” Carmita replied, mocking offense. “We don’t only drink Tequila you know.”
She threw the pillow back at him.
“But ok, if I trust him then no issue, I find the friend.” She replied. “There aren’t many people you can trust, but if you can trust them then you know they are doing it for a good reason. So I’d do it.” She replied. “Refill!” she then squealed and jumped up to get more alcohol, but in the rush fell over and landed face first on the soft carpet.
Rick worried for a moment that she was hurt, but moments later she burst out into laughter.
“Whoopsie!” she said in a voice muffled by the carpet.
Rick smiled and shook his head. This was going to be one of the best Christmas Eve’s he had ever experienced he just knew it.
That evening back at the Praeses Locus, Andy made his way down to the reception area to talk to Lauren. He had told Jay that he was going to ask for some more towels for the bathroom, but that was just a ruse to allow him to slip away.
“Did you get it?” he asked Lauren as he approached the desk.
“Yep,” she beamed presenting Andy a box.
Knowing that he wasn’t allowed to leave the hotel Andy had asked Lauren to pick up the gift that he was going to get Jay for Christmas the following day. He had ordered it in advance and Lauren was only too happy to pick it up.
Andy studied the gift gleaming.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” he asked Lauren.
“Sweetie, he will love it. Believe me, it’s gorgeous!”
Andy put the gift back into the box and pocketed it before following Lauren into the dining area, where she poured them both a mug of coffee.
“Almost seems wrong having coffee on Christmas eve,” Andy smiled taking a seat in the empty hall.
“I can Irish it up for you if it’ll help,” Lauren offered.
“No, no.” Andy waved away. “It’s just Christmas seems more of a hot chocolate time of year.”
“Not for me,” Lauren replied. “Christmas just means more coffee.”
Andy took a sip. Despite the fact that it was not a coffee from Latro-Mare, it was without a doubt the second best coffee this side of the country. Not that Lauren would have it any other way.
“Strange that no one else is here tonight,” Andy said, looking around the empty room.
“The hotel closes from this morning and re-opens on the 27th,” Lauren replied. “The only people here are Jay, you and me. Even Rein is at home.”
Andy liked that idea. It was nice to have the place to themselves and more over to just have some one on one time with Lauren. As much as they used to have this it seemed more of a rarity these days, what with everything Andy had been going through.
“So I was thinking something,” Lauren started.
“Oh no,” Andy replied in jest. “Do I duck for cover now or at least let you finish?”
“Hmmm,” Lauren pretended to think. “Well, you could always run away when I’m finished,” she suggested.
“Ok deal, shoot,” Andy replied.
“Well, since your house bound and all or should I say hotel bound anyways,” she smiled. “I was thinking what if we have a Christmas party here? You, me, Jay, Rein and maybe Sam if he comes along.”
At once Andy loved the idea.
“That sounds awesome!” he replied. “As long as I can have some time with Jay first in the morning.”
“Oh sweetie, I ain’t even getting up until after 10 tomorrow anyway,” Lauren advised. “No, no. Christmas is my sleep in too buddy. I was thinking more a dinner thing, say 7ish?”
“Sounds great,” Andy replied. “Are you sure though? I wouldn’t want to put you out of any plans you have.”
“Oh yes,” Lauren replied sarcastically. “Missing out on the family dinner will be such a tragedy mom may even call the coast-guard just to see where I am.”
Knowing Lauren as long as he had Andy knew if she had a chance to escape time with her parents she would. They were definitely very different to her and as a famous person once said The big cats can’t share a cage. This was true of Lauren and her family. All of course, aside from Rein.
“As long as she doesn’t ring me,” Andy started putting on an accent then “Andy! I’m in such a dither, Lauren’s gone missing?”
“Missing?” Lauren replied as though to keep this imaginary conversation between her mother and Andy going.
“Yes! She said she’d come to the party and she’s not here! We simply must look for her. Are you sure she isn’t with you?”
Lauren stopped the charade smiling.
“Oh my god you have to do that in front of her one day,” she requested.
“Yeah, you wish,” Andy replied.
“You know I do,” Lauren laughed.
Just then Rein walked in and reminded her mother that they had some things to do before the stores closed for the holidays.
“Oh, that’s right,” she replied. “Sorry Andy we have things to do,” she finished placing air-marks around the word.
“It’s all good, I’ll see you both tomorrow,” he said getting up from the table.
“Oh yay! I’m glad we’re doing this,” Rein replied. “Sam’s out of town…”
Lauren butt-in with a sound that very much imitated an annoyed cat and Rein reflected a piercing look towards her mother.
“It’s fine,” she sighed. “I don’t think it’s working out anyway and like they say absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
“Well if you’re anything like me, with Jay, that’s definitely true.” Andy replied.
The pair walked away and Andy went back up to the Praeses Locus. As he arrived he noticed Jay finishing up a call with his mother.
“Yeah mom,” he sighed, sounding very bored. “Yes…I know…I wish I could see you too…yes mom….Mom! I got to go, I got stuff to do.”
Andy smiled. He had of course been in many conversations like that especially with his dad’s. Which reminded him he should call them at some point to wish them happy holidays. It was unfortunate that they couldn’t make the first Friday night dinner, but Micah and Ben had understood and only asked to talk on the phone at some point on Christmas Eve.
Jay hung up the phone rolling his eyes.
“Mother?” Andy inquired.
“How’d you guess?” Jay asked sarcastically, waltzing over and placing a kiss on his boyfriends lips.
“Intuition,” Andy smiled.
The boys took a seat on the sofa and Andy explained about the party for tomorrow.
“Oh that sounds awesome!” Jay replied enthusiastically. “It’ll be nice to have some sort of a family dinner and those two are becoming more like family every day,” he smiled and without helping it placed another kiss on Andy’s lips.
“You’re so good to me,” Andy said after taking a moment to enjoy the kiss.
“And I’m going to be again,” Jay said confidently.
“Oh please, keep going, don’t stop ever!” Andy smiled.
“No, not that,” Jay smiled, shoving Andy just a touch. “Maybe later, but for now, it’s time for another type of love. Tough love.”
“You know,” Andy replied thoughtfully. “I don’t think I ever understood that concept. It’s like the whole you’ve got to be cruel to be kind thing. I mean you don’t have to…really. I mean you can just be kind and…that’s it.”
“Well, for now, I have to be cruel to be kind A,” Jay continued. “It’s the holidays and I wont have you upset with anyone and having it ruin tomorrow.”
“What?” Andy started looking quite frustrated. “You expect me to call B and say sorry for something th-”
But Jay cut him off.
“No, no, no. Not B! I would never ask that. Matter of fact I hope he doesn’t even come up for the next 24 hours. And no this is not the time to make a joke about that reference.” He finished noticing Andy was about to do exactly that.
“I mean Rick!”
Andy looked a little crestfallen, but Jay simply continued.
“I know you were upset about what happened and I don’t blame you for one moment A, but be the bigger guy yeah? He’s your friend and it all worked out in the end I mean…” he paused but only to give Andy another kiss. “…didn’t it?”
“That’s not-” Andy started, but again Jay stopped him with another kiss this time longer than the others. “…fair,” Andy finished a little later but by the way he’d said it Jay knew he’d won.
“Oh, alright,” Andy said. “I’ll call him now.”
And with that he went off to the bedroom to call Rick as Jay perused the dinner menu for something to order them.
As the phone rang Andy started getting nervous. What if Rick didn’t want to talk to him? What if he was still pissed off? As the paranoia continued to circle in his mind, Andy was just about to hang-up the phone when Rick answered.
“Hello?,” came laughter from the other end. It was definitely Rick.
“Oh, ah…” Andy stuttered. “Um, hi Rick? It’s Andy.”
“Andy? Oh hi!” Rick replied. “How are you?”
“Um, I’m ok,” Andy said a little worried about Rick’s attitude. “I wanted to talk to you, can we talk alone for a moment?”
Despite the fact that Rick hadn’t said anything it certainly sounded like there was a party going on the other end. Loud music was playing in the background and he heard someone scream out in a joyus tone.
“Yeah sure,” Rick replied. “Hold on.”
A few moments later Andy heard a door close and it became very quiet on the other end.
“So, ah, what’s up Andy?” Rick asked.
“Well,” Andy started. “I just wanted to apologise for how we left things. I guess I went a little overboard. I’m sorry.”
“Ph-yeah you did,” Rick replied chuckling “And yeah it’s all good. Forgotten even. If you’re good I’m good dude.”
Andy breathed out, relieved at how easy that was.
“Thanks Rick, I mean it. You’re still the upstanding gentleman I know. I appreciate it. You back home now?”
“It’s all good man. I stepped into your territory with Jay and I’m sorry I did. I didn’t actually know at the time that you two were…you know… anyway no I’m still in New Haven actually. Decided to stick around for a bit turns out I love the area.”
“That’s great!” Andy half screamed into the phone. “Hey, we’re having a party here at the hotel tomorrow night want to come?”
“Yeah I’d love to man,” Rick replied. “Who’ll be there?”
“Oh just Lauren, her daughter Rein, myself and Jay,” Andy replied.
“Jay?” Rick questioned.
“Yeah, but don’t worry Rick, he’s cool. We’re all good now.”
Andy heard Rick make a sound that sounded very much like he was breathing out some air in relief.
“I’d love to man, what time and what can I bring?” he asked.
“Seven p.m. and nothing, just yourself. Can’t wait Rick, I’m glad we’re talking again.”
“Yeah, me too,” said Rick. “And wish Jay a Merry Christmas for me yeah?”
Rick hung up the phone smiling as he looked at the paper with Jay’s name on it that Bryce had handed him earlier.
“Yes Jay, Merry Christmas indeed,” he said out-loud, his eyes narrowing “That, was easier than I thought.”