10 One Last Good Night

Half an hour later, the striking group walked through the doors of the Jefferson Hotel.

They walked to the desk and a snooty woman asked, “Can I help you boys?”

“Yes, ma’am,” William responded, taking issue with the woman’s attitude. “I’d like to speak to your manager….”

“I’m afraid Mr. Wesley is very busy with important business at the moment,” the woman responded.

Sebastian barely restrained himself from getting into the woman’s head, but James squeezed his shoulder. William leaned in and whispered, “Trust me, he’ll want to talk to me! Now if you don’t go get him right now, Barbie, I’m going to lose my temper….”

The woman frowned and picked up the phone and spoke into it quietly. Shortly a young man walked around the corner flanked by two gorilla-sized men. The young man looked at a loss when he saw the clean-cut, handsome crowd of boys that had so flustered the woman behind the desk. “I’m going to have to ask you gentlemen to accompany me outside….”

“Why? We just asked to speak to the manager,” William said, bewildered, and the man looked again at the woman behind the counter. He was about to tell the security officers they could go when one of them made the mistake of grabbing Chase’s shoulder. 

When Chase gasped in surprise, Sebastian was on the man in a second. Though he looked not much bigger than Chase, with a lightning fast blow, he dropped the man to his knees, then grabbed a pressure point in his shoulder that sent pain through the guard’s whole body. When the second guard moved on him, Sebastian laid him out on the floor with a quick kick to the chest. With a hiss at the young man in charge that chilled his blood, Sebastian announced, “He put a hand on Chase!”

“Thank you Sebastian,” Chase said. “Please let him go….”

The man who had accompanied the guards stood stunned. William looked him in the eyes and said, “You’ll please fetch the manager now? We’ll be waiting.”

The man hurried off and returned shortly with a very distinguished-looking man in his fifties; he was fit and his silver hair was perfectly styled, and he carried himself with regal bearing. “Gentlemen,” he said in a proper southern accent, “I’m Clark Wesley. How may I help you? I understand there’s been some … excitement?”

“Mr. Wesley, I’m William Jennings….”

“Of course,” the man said with a brilliant smile showing off his perfect teeth, though his eyes cut murderously to the woman behind the counter. “Is everything in order for your event next weekend?” Then he looked at the younger man and said, “Mr. Jennings has rented the main ballroom next weekend, as you might recall….”

“Well, we were coming to discuss security with you and make some last minute arrangements with the chef, but the woman behind the counter refused to call you…. I don’t suppose you treat everyone who walks up to the counter like this?” Seeing Wesley’s face he smiled. “I thought not. When I warned her that she’d really want to call you, she called this man and security….”

Mr. Wesley looked darkly at his employees and said, “Why do I feel the story doesn’t end there?”

William nodded. “I believe this gentleman was about to send security away when one of them grabbed my boyfriend, Chase, by the shoulder….” Just when the man looked mortified, William added, “Chase is blind, so it surprised him, and my friend Sebastian … neutralized your security men.”

“That’s impressive,” Wesley nodded, looking at James, and James laughed.

“I’m James…. My boyfriend is Sebastian,” he said as he wrapped his arm around the much smaller Sebastian and Wesley’s jaw dropped.

William resumed, “You understand, the only reason we don’t walk out of here right now and never look back is that we don’t have time to find another, classier venue….”

The woman sealed her coffin by snorting and muttering, “That and the deposit….”

William laughed at her outwardly but lost his temper and was about to say something, when Sebastian put a hand on his arm and looked at Clark Wesley with a firm glance. The man looked at the woman like you might look at the paperboy, with only passing interest, and said, “You’re fired!” She started to argue, but he looked at the two guards and said, “See that she gets all her things and finds her way to her car…. Eric, your future with our little hotel is in Mr. Jennings’s hands. See to it he has what he needs after we’re finished….” The young man nodded, pale, and took the woman’s place behind the counter temporarily to call her replacement.

William took Chase’s hand and followed Mr. Wesley into his office. As they sat, William passed him the security plan, announcing, “I’ll be hiring private security and chaperones for this event. I wouldn’t want any of my guests to be unexpectedly assaulted.” William allowed a quick smile to cross his lips, having a little fun with Wesley.

Chase, however, gave William a little frown and said, “That’s over…. It’s done!”

“Yes, dear,” William said with a smile, winking at Mr. Wesley.

The man looked over the plan and said, “This looks very thorough…. Your security firm is licensed and bonded?”

“Yes,” Sebastian answered. “My men are well-trained and licensed, as well as trained martial artists….” When the man looked at him, surprised, Sebastian added, “I am the president of the Martial Corporation, among other things.” The Martial Corporation, Sebastian’s most famous, or infamous, moneymaking endeavor was an international, private and secretive security firm. They specialized in sensitive projects—defending high risk targets, and targeting high risk targets. A team of Sebastian’s had kidnapped a high-ranking Taliban official from the mountains of Pakistan.

“I see,” Clark Wesley said slowly, taking the measure of the group of young men before him anew. “Then by all means, your people may have whatever access they need.” He picked up the phone and told the chef to be expecting a VIP shortly and then cut back to his guests. “Now, gentlemen, there is the matter of settling up for the … incidents of this afternoon.” He sat back and let the boys have a moment.

William, however, turned it back on the man. It was after all his responsibility. “What do you think is fair, Mr. Wesley?”

The man smiled and tapped his fingers on the desk for a moment. “Of course, you’ll pay no more than you have for the ballroom, and I’ll be sure your food is served at cost….” William nodded and the man added, “And perhaps you’d like the use of a presidential suite so you may relax after your event?”

Chase’s smile lit the room and even Mr. Wesley couldn’t help be brightened by it. The boy squeezed William’s hand, and William said, “That’s very kind of you…. We appreciate it very much!”

“Good,” the man said, handing them a card with his direct line on it. “Let me know if I can be of further assistance, and consider Eric at your disposal until next Sunday,” he added, quite seriously. With a smile, he shook hands with the four boys. Leading them out, he said, “Eric, the chef is expecting them…. I told them you were at their disposal for the week. That means night and day…. Do be sure they have your cell number!”

Eric led them off and began apologizing as soon as they were out of earshot. William let him roast for a little while before Chase smacked William’s arm and said, “Eric, it’s not your fault! She called you and you had no idea what you were walking into….”

The young man smiled and stopped apologizing, but he looked away. He was blushing. And he was pretty cute, they all noticed for the first time. He was maybe twenty-five, and in his suit he looked overly serious, but smiling and blushing, he looked like the cute frat boy he had recently been.

“So you’re the ones hosting the Valentine’s Dance?” Eric asked as they walked on toward the kitchen.

“William and Chase are,” Sebastian said.

“So you guys are,” Eric began to ask but cut himself off.

“Chase and I are together,” William said, entirely unembarrassed.

“And Sebastian and I,” James said proudly.

Eric nodded with a weak smile. “That’s great,” he said, though it didn’t sound great.

“Does that bother you?” William asked.

Eric looked over, surprised. “Oh…. Oh, no…. Not at all…. I….”

Chase cut him off softly. “It’s okay Eric, you don’t have to say anything. My boyfriend is being a little touchy, as not everyone has been real nice to us the last few days!”

William grunted slightly but took Chase’s lead. “I only meant to say I’ve never been brave enough to be myself … openly,” Eric confessed and then William understood. The man was lonely and afraid.

“I wasn’t either until I met Sebastian,” James said with an understanding smile. “It was hard, but I’d never go back….”

“Maybe one day,” Eric said with a wistful smile.

“Maybe you should hang around the evening of the dance…. A lot of my security guys are … of the right persuasion, and you are pretty cute,” Sebastian teased a little. “I’ll have enough security that one distracted guard won’t make a difference….”

Eric laughed and nodded. “Might take you up on that…. I don’t meet many guys here….”

Shortly, they went over the final menu with the chef and talked with Eric about coordinating with the DJ the afternoon of the party. Afterwards they caught dinner down by the James River at a restaurant with a great view.

***

The following week was a blur, what with training, school, party planning and last minute arrangements for the party. It was like they all had two full-time jobs. Sammael’s people continued laying low, carrying out only minor attacks, here and there, random, untraceable, unpredictable. But increasingly, Sammael’s people were attacking in the open, leaving arcane references to biblical texts. References to beasts, and war, and chaos. But Sebastian made sure none of that came to William or Chase. Not this week.

On Monday, the boys were all called to the office again with their parents, where they were all read the riot act for talking to the press. But the principal could hardly do anything to them, lest that show up in the paper too. She made it clear that they wouldn’t be made comfortable for a while, however. But the boys knew many of their teachers liked them, so they weren’t too worried about her.

On Thursday, William and Chase went down to try on their suits, which were perfect and required no further alterations. William paid handsomely and a little something extra for the old tailor. On Friday, all their friends offered any assistance they could, but Saturday found all the couples getting ready for the big event.

Chase and William went out early and checked into their suite. After a last minute walk through the ballroom, which was beautifully decorated, William and Chase returned to their room to shower and get ready for the evening. William was tying his tie when he felt Chase’s hand on his back. “The material is so soft,” Chase said.

William turned and looked at the boy and gasped. All put together, Chase was as beautiful as William had ever seen him, and he told him so. Chase wrapped his arm around William and kissed him softly on the lips. “I wish I could see us just now,” he whispered.

“Oh, baby,” William said. “I know…. I’m sorry!”

“No, no,” Chase said with a smile. “I can’t tell you what it means that you did all this for me…. It’s perfect.”

“Are you ready to dance?” William asked him finally. Chase grabbed his hand and they headed downstairs.

Familiar faces filled the lobby and lined the ballroom, handsome young wizards and beautiful young witches in tuxedos and dresses, ready to serve and protect, and make sure the punch didn’t get spiked. Eric hurried over to Chase and William and said, “You two look fantastic!”

“Thanks,” William said with a big smile. “See anyone you like around here?”

Eric smiled and blushed and turned his eye toward a solidly built, handsome wizard with blazing green eyes. William kept the smile out of his voice as best he could as he turned to Chase and said, “Lieutenant Spencer?”

“What?” Eric asked.

“I got the idea that he’s a pretty straight arrow,” William said, and Eric frowned.

“I never was a good judge,” Eric said. “One reason I rarely get the nerve to ask….”

“Ask,” Chase said, “if you’re interested…. All he can do is say no, and he’ll be nice about it. We don’t know him well enough to know for sure….”

Eric looked at him thoughtfully, “You think I should?”

Chase nodded and the man walked off deep in contemplation. “You think he’ll ask?” Chase asked.

“He looks pretty nervous…. What do you really think?” William asked.

“I think Lt. Spencer is a nice man who is looking for someone to love…. I think he’s a little like Avery and doesn’t really care about the … shape of the package,” Chase said honestly.

“You mean whether the package has a package,” William sniggered.

James and Sebastian walked in arm-in-arm and greeted the boys. “Security is all in place,” Sebastian said as he kissed William on the cheek, European style, before giving Chase a big hug and kiss. James gave William and Chase both hugs, and they stood about talking in the lobby as guests began to trickle in. William and Chase greeted them and send them on into the ballroom where food was out and music was beginning to play.

Maria and Charles were the first of their close friends to arrive, and Maria gave them both hugs. “Let’s show ‘em how to have a good time tonight, sweethearts,” she squealed. Charles led her inside, where the photographer took their picture and they joined the growing crowd.

There were maybe fifty or sixty students there already, including some girl- and boy-friends from other schools, when Matt and Amy arrived with Edward and Carl. Everybody hugged and William said, “You guys go on inside; we’ll be out here for another fifteen or twenty minutes, then we’ll be in….”

Almost everybody else they expected showed up in that time. One of the last was Seth Stein, the boy Chase had invited from the synagogue. William shook his hand and Chase gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek that left the boy blushing mightily but beaming with happiness. After giving some instructions to the staff on letting the stragglers in, William and Chase accompanied Seth inside. After a few minutes of socializing and grabbing a bit of food, William gave the DJ a sign and the man started playing some better dance music.

Chase and William kind of milled around until the man announced, “The next song was a special request by your host, William, for Chase, his forever…. An oldie, sung by Elvis Presley—‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’….” Chase glowed as William took him in his arms, leading him gently around the dance floor. When the song ended, everyone was clapping and William realized that, while he had been lost in his own world, everyone had been watching them.

For a moment, the volume of the music dropped and William said, “Chase and I want to thank all of you for coming out and showing your support. I can’t tell you how much it means…. I hope you all have a great time!”

There was more applause and then DJ announced another song, “The next song is going out from my man Sheldon to the love of his life….” Chase and William were just about to join their friends dancing again when someone tapped William on the shoulder to cut in. “Do you mind?” Amy asked.

William looked at Chase who shrugged, so William accepted. Once they had danced away, out of earshot, he whispered, “So what’s this about?”

Amy grinned a devious grin and said, “I told Matt he ought to ask Chase to dance….”

“Oh,” William said, pleased. He looked over to see the handsome neighbor boy taking Chase’s hand and sliding an arm around his waist. Chase’s smile was as bright as the sun. “I think you did a good thing,” William said to Amy.

“I just wanted to do something to make Chase happy,” she said with a lopsided smile.

“Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone knowing him and not wanting that,” William laughed. Then he muttered, “Those bitches….”        

As if on cue, Lt. Spencer appeared and walked over to Sebastian, who stepped away from James and dropped his hand, following the man outside. Two girls and a young jock were being held by his men. “Lt. Spencer?” he asked.

“We caught these kids letting the air out of tires and doing other things to people’s cars…. Their identification shows they go to William’s school,” Lt. Spencer answered.

“Do you have video in the lot?” Sebastian asked Eric, and the young man nodded. “Lt. Spencer, accompany Eric to the security booth and make copies of the videos for the police.” At the word police the youngsters all paled noticeably. “And make sure someone sees to all the damage before anyone tries to leave…. Let’s not let this put a damper on the occasion.”

William, not knowing what to make of Sebastian’s departure, but seeing Seth standing by himself by the dance floor, steered Amy toward James.

“Hey, James, while Sebastian’s away, would you mind dancing with our friend Seth? He doesn’t know anyone here. Maybe you could help him … hone in on a willing dance partner?”

James winked and walked over to the boy. “Hey, I’m James….” Looking up at the big football star, Seth gulped and squeaked out his name. James smiled and said, “I’m a friend of Chase and William, and my boyfriend has had to leave for a few minutes. Want to dance?”

The boy looked like a deer in headlights, but nodded, and James gently took his hand and began to lead him in a dance. James could tell they were being noticed, and since everyone had seen him with Sebastian, the brain signatures read something like, ‘Cute, single, gay….” James smiled and said, “You know, there are boys here watching you?”

“Really?” Seth asked, sounding doubtful.

“Absolutely! They think you’re very cute!” James said.

“And who can blame them,” Sebastian asked with a smile as he approached, taking the boy’s hand from James and cutting in, leaving James standing on the floor with a grin. “I’m Sebastian,” he added.

“Seth,” the boy choked. Sebastian was one of the two most beautiful boys he’d ever seen.

“You met Chase and William at Sam Roth’s synagogue?” Sebastian asked.

“No,” the boy answered. “My parents brought them home from services one evening with the Rabbi…. You know him?”

“Very well,” Sebastian said cryptically. “Now tell me, there is a boy just behind me by himself staring this way. What do you think?”

“Cute,” Seth said with a blush. “But he’s not….”

Sebastian said, “You’re very cute, and he is interested, I promise….” Sebastian expertly guided them in the boy’s direction then accidentally bumped into him. “Oh! Excuse us please!”

The boy looked surprised and flustered as he looked from Seth to Sebastian. Sebastian quickly excused himself saying, “I’m so sorry! I’ve got to get back to my boyfriend…. I’ll see you later, Seth!”

When the next song ended, Chase put his head on Matt’s shoulder and gave him a big hug and kiss on the cheek. “That was fun,” he whispered to his oldest and best friend.

Matt surprised him by giving him a kiss too and said, “I love you, buddy….”

“I love you too,” Chase replied, eyes misty.

Matt led Chase to where Amy and William stood, and William winked at him before he and Amy got back to dancing. “Sebastian danced Seth into a cutie a few minutes ago,” William added with a laugh. “Crashed right into him then ran back to James….”

“Sneaky old vamp,” Chase whispered with a laugh. “Is Seth dancing?”

“No, they’re talking, but it’s like they’re standing real close and whispering. He was a good catch….” As the evening progressed, they danced with Edward and Carl, as well as some of their more self-assured straight friends and their girlfriends. When the DJ announce, “Maria has asked me to play, ‘O My Love,’ sung by Jackson Brown, for her sweetheart, Charles,” all the guys ooohed and aaahed to embarrass the big boy, who smiled and took it all in stride

After midnight, the crowd began to thin and William and Chase did their duty, thanking their guests and bidding them farewell. By one, only their closest friends remained. “Well that was awesome,” Matt said. They all laughed and agreed. Then the DJ announced one last song, “The last song of the night is dedicated to Sebastian and James….” Each of the couples took to the dance floor one last time for the night, and then they all said their farewells. William saw Seth and the boy he had met talking in the lobby and he and Chase went up to them. “You guys need a ride?” William asked. “I’ll call you a cab….”

“Dad’s on the way,” Seth said. “He’s going to give Nathaniel a ride home too,” Seth smiled when he said the boy’s name.

“Well, if you guys want to double-date sometime, give us a call,” Chase said with an impish grin. Seth and Nathaniel both blushed, but Nathaniel grabbed Seth’s hand and nodded. Then they sat to wait for Seth’s dad. After a very personal farewell with Sebastian and James, William and Chase retired upstairs to their suite and hopped in the jacuzzi after shedding their suits.

Chase sat between William’s legs as the boy gave him a shoulder massage, while the warm water worked its magick. When Chase leaned back and laid his blond head on the boy’s ample chest, he felt William against his back. With a sly smile, Chase rolled over. “Take me to bed?” Chase asked with a sultry smile and soon the boys were rushing to get dry, and William carried the boy who had changed his world, and perhaps held the world in his small hands, to bed. And for one last long moment, hell seemed a long way away.

***

Light streaming into the beautiful room the next morning woke William and he reached over to call for a sumptuous breakfast from room service before slipping into shorts and a t-shirt. He signed for the food and the young woman wheeled it in and sat it up on the table for him, getting a nice tip. Then William woke Chase and they enjoyed the delicious food.

While they were getting ready to check out, William flipped on the television, which was already tuned to CNN. A woman stood in the windy cold, just down the street from an old line of mansions. “I’m standing just a few blocks away from the sight of an overnight explosion that rocked this historic neighborhood. It seems that a car departing from one of the homes on this street was blown up, seriously injuring the driver. Reports indicate that the passenger is missing….”