'Love on the Rocks - Five Years On' is the sequel to the original 40-chapter story 'Love on the Rocks' (also available on this site.) This sequel picks up five years after the original story and continues many existing storylines.
It is strongly recommended that you first read 'Love on the Rocks' in order for the sequel to have a sense of continuity.
My legs were sore by the time I climbed down from the ladder for the last time. Finally, the Christmas tree was decorated. There were baubles, hanging photos of all our family members, tinsel, and now, the angel at the top. All that remained was the flick of the switch to turn on all the flashing Christmas lights, but I wanted to give George that pleasure. These days, it took George longer to get around, so he'd been orchestrating my tree art by offering helpful directions from the couch.
He'd gone to the kitchen to get dinner underway. It was to be dinner for one, but when George saw the momentary look of disappointment on my face, he quickly changed his mind.
"George," I called, "it's time to officially welcome Christmas!"
"I must say the tree looks wonderful, Mr. Stewart," George smiled, as he shuffled into the lounge room. "The boats all over the harbour will be able to see it!"
"As long as they don't get distracted and sail toward the lights!" I laughed.
I helped George to the tree and steadied him as he bent to turn on the switch next to the power socket. Suddenly, the tree lit up with threads of bright coloured lights interspersed with strands of tiny, twinkling lights. We both stood back and admired the most universal of Christmas symbols.
"It's perfect, George," I grinned as I squeezed his shoulder.
"Mr. Hill will be impressed, sir!"
"Nah, he'll think we had a decorator in to do it!" I laughed.
"Just one more night, sir," George sighed sympathetically. "He'll be home tomorrow!"
"I can't wait, George!" I leered, rubbing my hands together. "When he arrives tomorrow, I'll have mistletoe tied around my waist!"
"Don't ruin Christmas for me, sir!" George sighed, rolling his eyes. "I need to check the vegetables."
George tottered back to the kitchen and returned quickly with a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc for me, which he put on the coffee table next to the platter of purple grapes, honeyed cashews, Margaret River vintage cheddar, and quince paste.
"I can make meals for you and Mr. Hill for the weekend," he offered. "You know I'm happy to do it."
"Thanks, George," I replied. "But I think after all this time I can feed a Hill boy all by myself!"
"I'm sure you can, sir," George pressed on. "It's no trouble though."
"Thanks, George," I said again. "Just feed me well tonight!"
George returned to the kitchen and set about whipping up another of his gastronomic treats while I sprawled on the couch with my wine, looking out to sea past the flickering Christmas tree, letting my mind take me back a few years ...
* * *
What a great decision this had been, buying Max's Potts Point home when he announced his retirement more than three years ago. Max's ongoing blood pressure problems led to his decision to wind down his involvement with the firm that he'd co-founded so many years before.
Putting his home on the market coincided with our lease at Point Piper coming up for renewal. Our rent was already steep, but by the time the lease was to be renewed, the owners had cottoned on to the fact that Tyson Hill was one of their tenants, and the rent suddenly skyrocketed.
It was Ty, never normally one to think financially, who first questioned whether the 'dead rent' we paid each month might be better channeled into a house of our own. That thought process coincided with Max's decision to sell, and it took just one inspection for Ty to be sold - we just had to make this our new home, he insisted.
But even though Max had negotiated on the sale price for us, it was still a fucking huge amount of money!
To prove his determination to make Max's Cowper Wharf Roadway home our private sanctuary, Ty took a second mortgage on his home on Sugarloaf Road, Stanthorpe. The renovations, conceived and overseen by Lachlan and my brother Steve, meant it was worth much more than Ty paid, so our deposit on the Potts Point property was substantial.
It also helped that Max had nominated me for a senior partnership when he retired. I was shocked; it was something I hadn't expected. I even questioned whether I deserved it, but I was grateful to know that the decision of the Board was unanimous.
There was some discussion over the rebranding of the firm and how the name 'Stewart' might be incorporated into the moniker. In the end, it was I who suggested that the name of the firm should remain the same as it had been right from the start. The partners' faith in me meant more than my name in lights ever could.
The promotion meant a considerably larger salary than I was already receiving, as well as bonuses, shares, and dividends. That, combined with Ty's ever-increasing earning power, meant we could take the financial risk of buying one of Sydney's most well-placed homes.
Potts Point was marginally smaller than Worseley Road, but with Ty's family now mostly living in Stanthorpe, we didn't really need so much space. We could comfortably accommodate the family when the need arose, but mostly it was just home for me and the man I loved so much.
The purchase was a defining moment for both of us. We had never really had a joint financial obligation to anything beyond a shared rental and utilities. We agreed that we'd just jump in at the deep end. It marked a tacit pledge between us; I certainly couldn't imagine life without Ty as my rock, and he was showing me a true commitment. We had the best sex ever the afternoon we signed the loan papers!
What a difference five years had made in all of our lives. Could I have predicted back then how life would turn out for Scott? For Lachlan and Ellie? Would I have seen Steve and Fran's news coming? Probably, no, no, and no!
What I did predict back then was that Ty and I would remain rock solid. We would learn from our fuck-up and move forward. So, that's definitely a yes.
For a year after Ty and I got back together, we continued to see Janet, our psychologist, on a professional basis. We both benefitted enormously from the environment she created, where we could discuss anything that was bothering us, knowing that a trained and caring ear was listening. We still see Janet now on a social level, and we have a great time whenever we get together for a meal. She calls us her 'greatest success story,' and because it's a colour she wears so frequently, we call her 'Purple.'
As George pottered around in the kitchen, I lay on my side on the couch looking out to sea beyond the Christmas tree lights, and reminding myself how fortunate my life was. My career, the money, the assets, and the lifestyle were all things to be thankful for, but in order of importance, they were all ranked behind my greatest blessing - Ty.
If I was lying on a sofa in a caravan and not a multi-million dollar harbour-side home, I would still be as eager to see my achingly handsome, curly-haired guy walk through the door. I'd likely be wearing the same clothes in both settings; my much-loved, faded Levis, and Ty's flannel cowboy shirt, which I'd retrieved from his always-messy side of our shared closet.
In almost 24 hours Ty would do exactly that. He would walk through our front door after being in Melbourne for the past 12 weeks playing an eight-show-a-week run as Marius in Les Miserables at the Princess Theatre, and we would hug each other until we ached.
I had surprised Ty by flying quietly into Melbourne for the season's opening night, and we enjoyed a great after-show party with the cast and crew, staying up til all hours waiting for the reviews in the first editions of the daily newspapers.
No surprises there. Like in Sydney and Brisbane, the reviewers all singled out Ty's performance, often using words like 'powerful,' 'commanding,' and 'stunning.' Far from being resentful, the rest of the cast applauded him for the reviews. He had created such a family atmosphere amongst the cast that they seemed to delight in his success. During the show's Sydney run, our place was a halfway house for cast members trying to find accommodations. Ty's Sundays off saw George keeping a barbeque going all day, so he was always ready with a hamburger for anyone connected with the show who happened by.
How well they had accepted me. I was simply 'Ty's guy,' and from the very first rehearsal, everyone just included me in their discussions. They made me feel like a member of their tight-knit family.
Not that I was a 'secret' anymore, of course. A Sydney photographer had taken care of that in a split second while Ty and I were having breakfast at a café one morning three years ago. For all the times we'd kissed and hugged in public with Ty not having a care in the world if we were caught or not, this was such an innocent gesture. But it was media-hyped as 'the love story of the decade.'
Ty and I had taken Scruffy for a walk on the beach one Sunday morning. The weather was so good we decided to chance Ty's fans and have breakfast together on the sidewalk outside a beachfront café. While Scruffy sat at our feet, we enjoyed a light breakfast and coffee. As Ty and I talked across the table, I noticed a dob of yoghurt on the side of his mouth and instinctively reached out a hand to wipe it away.
An off-duty tabloid press photographer, sitting a few tables away from us, just happened to catch that moment when Ty and I were leaning in toward each other, my thumb on the side of his mouth wiping the yoghurt away. When it appeared in the Telegraph the following morning, it looked as though Ty was sucking my thumb as I gazed into his eyes. In fact, I'd called him a grub!
Ty and I freaked out when we saw how many publications had picked the photo up and the media furore it had created. But within a week, we were laughing about it. Finally, we could stop walking around outside the house with our 'media radar' always set on high alert.
The publication of the photo gave Tyson Hill's 'elusive Michael' a face. It led to countless requests for us to be interviewed and photographed for tabloids and magazines, and to be guests on television talk shows - all of which were declined. Ty was aware of, and respected my desire to stay in the background as much as possible. I wanted my anonymity, but I also wanted Ty to bask alone in the spotlight where his awesome talent had so rightfully placed him.
More surprisingly, its publication caused barely a ripple with Vince. If anything, he was relieved, knowing now that there were no more secrets to hide from the media. "You're out there now, mate," he'd chuckled to me down the line the morning the photo first appeared. "Did you see where the Adelaide Advertiser called you 'Tyson Hill's handsome lover'?"
"It's kind of a relief, Vince," I sighed. "No more looking over my shoulder every time I'm out with Ty."
"Just make sure there's no tongue kissing while photographers are around."
"It puts me off my breakfast!"
For all his whining about Ty in what was very much a love-hate relationship between the two, Vince really stepped up to the plate when Ty and I got back together. I think he was shocked by the willingness with which Ty had volunteered to walk away from his career, should I want that. From that time on, Vince stepped back from being the bean-counting manager to really working with Ty to allow him the creative satisfaction he craved.
Vince even stood by Ty when he made the difficult decision not to re-sign with his record company when his contract came up for renewal. Eddie Zaitman was as surprised as I was, but Ty had decided he no longer wanted to be bound by a third party record contract. Lucrative offers flowed in from several major companies desperate to get Ty's signature on their dotted lines - Ty resisted them all.
Instead, he spent a long time and a lot of money making the album he'd always wanted to make. It was more organic than his first two albums, and the material was more reflective and personal … there wasn't an anthem to be found.
Ty called it, From Me to You, and for fun, included as a bonus track his take on the Beatles classic from the Sixties. He arranged it with an almost doowop feel. He sang the verses:
"I got arms that long to hold you
And keep you by my side.
I got lips that long to kiss you
And keep you satisfied, oooh"
His brothers joined him on each of the repeat choruses:
"If there's anything that you want,
If there's anything I can do,
Just call on me and I'll send it along
With love from me to you"
Ty made a cheap black-and-white clip for the song with the three of them dressed up in 50s barbershop trio style. The sheer infectiousness of the brothers' hammed-up performance saw it become an online sensation.
Ty released From Me to You independently. He knew he was taking a risk, having no powerful machine behind him to promote the album, and his expectations were low. He'd realised that he didn't need a chart-topper to be happy, or to make money. With the record company, he'd been on the top royalty rate of 24%. As an independent artist, he now earned 75% of wholesale, the remainder going to his distributor. Best of all, Ty retained copyright in all the recordings and was free to do with them as he pleased.
He did as much media as he could stomach, wandering on and off TV talk show sets talking about his music; and more often than not, politely declining to answer questions about me. He smiled through endless, wacky, breakfast radio broadcasts, and seldom complained when he had to get himself to a studio for yet another magazine photo shoot.
We were all delighted when the album debuted in the Top 40 at No. 9. It wasn't the chart-topper he was used to, but it meant more to Ty than the multi-platinum successes he'd enjoyed in the past. It went as high as No. 6 before it dropped, but it stayed in the lower rungs of the Top 40 for more than two months.
What pleased Ty more than anything was how much Vince seemed to love From Me to You. He was often heard singing the songs to himself, and for the first time, he talked about lyrics with Ty.
Vince was supportive when Ty did a series of low-key acoustic gigs around the country, playing mostly 1000-seaters. It meant far less money for Vince, compared with the 12,000-seater arena shows of the past, but he went out of his way to make sure Ty was happy.
It was also Vince, who first broached the subject of musical theatre, suggesting that Ty might consider a leading role in a stage production. Ty loved the idea, but initially wouldn't even consider it because it would mean we would be apart for weeks on end. I managed to convince Ty that I could get enough three-day weekends to make sure we were only apart for short periods.
Ty was offered a lead in a new production of Jersey Boys, but turned it down because he didn't want to play another singer. He read scripts, but couldn't find anything that really captured his imagination until he heard of a new touring production of Les Miserables.
Vince made the producers aware that Ty was interested in a leading role. The producers, no doubt not believing their luck, met with us for initial discussions. They were surprised when Ty declined their offer for him to play the lead male role of Jean Valjean. He explained that he felt he was more suited to the secondary lead role of Marius, and he was honest enough to say that he preferred the latter's songs.
When the producers indicated concern that Ty was possibly too old to play the 17-year-old Marius, Ty countered with his belief that he was too young to play Valjean.
Ty didn't balk when the producers asked him to audition for the role of Marius … far from it. He spent three days on nothing but steamed greens, ripe purple grapes, and water. When he turned up to the mid-morning audition, taking a number like everyone else, he nailed it with a scorching version of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables." Just one verse into it, he had them entranced, and he knew it! He literally belted the guts out of the song, his voice almost rattling the windows.
The two hopefuls, who were scheduled to audition after Ty, made their excuses and left. They knew, as well as everyone else in that theatre, that the role of Marius Pontmercy had just been cast.
Ty threw himself into the workshops and the rehearsals with gusto, keen to learn as much as he could from his fellow actors, the producers, and the director. He endeared himself to everyone with his willingness to take direction, and for the endless hours he spent helping the other actors with their lyrics.
During rehearsals, I was contacted by Ben Chappell from The Song Factory, the company that handled Ty's publishing catalogue. Ben knew that Ty was totally opposed to having his music licensed for advertising purposes, but every now and again, Ben went through the motions of running the offers past me.
"The Salvation Army wants to license "Angels on High" for their new summer campaign," Ben explained. "I told the agency that Ty doesn't license his music, but they asked me to make the request anyway."
"What's the context?" I asked, for the sake of asking.
"It's a homeless campaign, result being that the Salvos are the 'angels' who provide food and shelter."
"What are they offering?"
"Not much. Seventy-five grand. I mean, they're a charity, so I guess they can't afford much."
"Leave it with me."
I wasn't surprised to find Ty receptive to the idea. If there was a way that Ty or his music could help those less fortunate, he'd do whatever he could.
"You'll set a precedent, mate," I cautioned him. "The industry knows you've always said no. Once you say yes, it's not so easy to say no again."
"What did you say the fee was?"
"I'll donate it to the music school," Ty smiled. "That way I'm helping two causes. I don't mind if the industry knows I'm okay with my music being used for good causes."
"Angels on High" spearheaded a very successful campaign for the Salvos. With Ty's fee, the Palm Beach Music School was able to buy more computers and equipment. They'd flourished under Ty's patronage, and the community had positively responded, once we were able to show the positive aspects of a meeting place for kids who didn't fit the mould.
Ty was happy with that outcome, but he was incensed a few months later when Ben Chappell rang again. This time, Ben was giving us a 'head's up' that Ty's old record company had approved the license of "Until You Came Along" for a toilet paper commercial.
I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen Ty quite so angry. Once I'd calmed him down, I explained that as the record company owned the copyrights in Ty's sound recordings, they could do as they pleased with them. However, when it came to synchronization rights, the permission of the publisher was also required.
With close to $200K at stake, it took some convincing for Ben to decline the record company's request to use the song, but Ty was adamant.
"I don't want my songs flogging products," he ranted, "least of all, bloody toilet paper."
"It's OK, mate," I assured him. "We're just lucky we didn't sign the publishing to the record company. At least, with Ben on our side, you can pick and choose what your music is used for."
"I wrote that song for you, Mike," Ty sighed. "It's 'our song,' and I won't let some asshole record company trash it."
"All's good, Ty," I said, reassuringly. "Ben has declined the request, so the record company can't proceed. They're just trying to squeeze as much money as they can from your back catalogue, now that you're no longer making buckets of money for them."
I expected an irate call from Eddie Zaitman … and it came. I patiently explained to him, Ty's stand on having his music used for commercial purposes, but he wasn't listening to me. It was only when he made a snide reference to 'your boyfriend's little gay love song' that I lost it. I surprised myself with the level of anger I directed at Zaitman, accusing him of bullying and bigotry. I didn't allow him to get a word in as I gave him a spray, assuring him before I hung up that publishing for Ty's entire back catalogue was officially 'unavailable' for synchronization. The shocked gasp I heard before I slammed the receiver down was all the satisfaction I needed.
* * *
I must have dozed off as my mind wandered back over the past few years, and the steps that had led Ty to treading the boards in musical theatre. I opened my eyes to find George sitting opposite me, sipping a wine and flicking through a magazine. While I snoozed, George played a CD of Christmas carols quietly in the background.
I had just started to stretch and yawn when the doorbell rang … it had to be Max.
"I'll get it," I said, to save George from having to shuffle to the door.
"The tree looks fabulous!" Max gushed as he breezed past me into the lounge room. "Something smells good, Georgy Boy!" he grinned as he bent down and kissed George on the lips.
Who'd have thought - Max and George? Yet, that very first time Max and his daughters came to Point Piper for dinner, I felt it - so did Ty. There was an instant connection between our lovely housekeeper and guardian, and my amazingly supportive boss.
It was so obvious when we thought about it later - Max loved to eat, and George loved to cook. They both loved old black-and-white movies, and they were both as queer as three dollar notes. All that, and they both adored their cats.
Close as it was to Christmas, and despite the fact that Ty would be returning home from Melbourne tomorrow, George and Max were off to enjoy a weekend by the bay at Max's Shoalhaven Heads retreat. George would return on Monday in time to prepare for the Christmas onslaught.
They'd have left straight away, but George had taken pity and decided that he and Max would eat with me before they set off for the coast. The house wouldn't be the same without George around at the weekend to take charge, but it did mean that Ty and I would have a weekend alone, for the first time in a very long time. Knowing George, he probably planned it that way in cahoots with Max.
"I've made a beef casserole in case Scott arrives early," George told me. "I've made cannelloni for two, a hazelnut mousse, and there's vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer. There are plenty of greens for Mr. Hill, and I've frozen an apple pie."
I looked at George and smiled before throwing up my arms in mock despair. "Is that all, George?" I asked. "What the fuck did you do all day?"
"He daydreamed about me, I expect," said Max, as he picked at the remnants of the cheese platter George had made earlier in the night. "Nice brie!"
"Well, I expect better, George!" I sighed as I crossed my arms. "I know you've got this 'thing' for lawyers, but you've dropped the ball since Max came along."
George sighed back."Blame it on my 'co-respondent,'" he smiled, rolling his eyes. "He made me a 'without prejudice offer' that afforded me a break from my miserable life of servitude or - as some might describe it - slavery. So, suck it up, sir!"
I laughed. "I love you, George!"
"Of course you do, Mr. Stewart," George sighed. "Take a number!"
Dinner was a delight. George had made seafood crepes with Caesar salad, followed by prawn and fig ravioli, and mini blueberry cheesecakes. He and Max had worked out a little routine based on the scene in When Harry Met Sally, where Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm while eating a meal in a restaurant.
During the entrée, George leaned across the table and said to Max in a sexy voice, "Hollandaise, honey?"
Max moaned and licked his spoon seductively.
During the pasta dish, George leaned in and whispered, "Mascarpone, mon ami?" Max mopped his brow and ran his hand down over his belly and into unseen territory under the tablecloth.
As George put the cheesecake in front of us, he licked his lips, leaned in close to Max's ear and breathed, "Double cream, egg yolk, sugar, and fresh, fat, juicy blueberries."
Max went into an exaggerated orgasmic shake, grunting and slamming his hand on the table like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. I laughed so much my sides started to ache.
Too soon, dinner was over. George cleaned up, ran through instructions for the third time, then disappeared through the front door with Max … off to enjoy their marathon weekend of high-cholesterol meals and DVDs of their favourite black-and-white movies from the 1940s and 1950s.
Once they'd left, I realised there really wasn't anything for me to do. As always, George had 'taken care of business,' and ensured that all that needed to be on my mind was Ty's return tomorrow - then the gradual arrival of our combined families over the next few days, starting with Lachie and Ellie and their brood on Sunday.
I was looking forward to having the Hill kids around, as well as Ty's brothers and parents, Ellie, Steve, and Fran, but I was literally hanging out to have my guy home with me. We'd made our time apart work as best it could, but I could barely wait for him to walk through our front door and light up the room - and my life.
I wanted to hold him, kiss him, and love him. And I wanted to have a proper sleep at last … my arm around Ty and his head on my chest. How I missed that special intimacy that we'd established right from the very start. We'd come to see it as a symbol of our love for each other, no matter what happened in our individual days … in the peace of sleep, we were always connected.
It made sense to shut down the house and go to bed early; the sooner I slept the sooner tomorrow would come. But I just wasn't tired, so I poured a wine, pressed 'play' on the Christmas CD George had loaded into the iPod dock, and sat on the couch admiring our tree and our view.
It was only when I felt Ty's marshmallow lips on mine that I realised I'd fallen asleep. I looked at the clock. It was 3:12 a.m.
Unfortunately, Ty's kiss was just a dream - he wouldn't be home for at least another 12 hours. I turned the Christmas tree lights off, stripped, and cleaned my teeth before crawling into the king size bed that tomorrow I would again share with the one person who truly rocked my world.
Curled up under the doona, I fell asleep, getting back to that dream … Ty's soft lips pressed against mine.
* * *
I woke late on Saturday morning still in a ball. As morning called, I felt like I was smiling in my sleep. I probably was - ahead was the day I'd been longing for.
As I went through the waking process, I was made painfully aware of the throbbing that was half way down the doona … the 'morning glory' that signalled an urgent need to get rid of the previous evening's diuretics before rehydrating.
I threw back the covers and stumbled from the bed to the en suite where, after some careful maneuvering, I managed to direct a steady stream into the bowl. In my sleepy state I smiled; how often had I chided Ty and Scott for their inability to 'hit the target?' It was something neither had properly mastered!
Back under the covers, I snoozed - well aware that my erection hadn't gone away. I knew it was an outward sign of my carnal desire for Ty. Five years on, neither of us had taken any backward steps in the sexual expression of our love for each other. So often, all I had to do was think of Ty when he wasn't with me and I'd bone up. It was embarrassing at the office sometimes.
I sighed and stretched, then said 'hello' to Scruffy, who had dragged his arthritis-ridden body into the bedroom for a pat, and to remind me that his breakfast was now long overdue.
I fed Scruffy and Floppy, poured myself a coffee, and mentally planned the day. I went for a run, had some juice and cereal, showered, and then dressed. I stripped the bed, changed the sheets, and aired the room before cleaning our bathroom and tidying up our shared walk-in closet, so the contents of Ty's touring wardrobe (hopefully cleaned and pressed) could be simply unpacked and hung up.
I made some appetizers, chilled some wine and beers, then sat on the couch and watched a mindless television program until a text startled me at 2:00 p.m.
"This is the Tyson Hill Fan Club advising you that Michael Stewart's entry in the 'How Much Do You Wanna Fuck Tyson Hill' competition has been selected as the winner. Excellent work! Mr. Hill is currently en route from Sydney Airport with a nice driver named Gayle, and will be with you in approximately half an hour."
I couldn't stop the grin, or my instant reply.
"This is Mr. Stewart's doctor. Mr. Stewart may not be available to greet you. Following your text, he developed a severe swelling in his groin, and it appears to have deprived his brain of oxygen. You may be required to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."
I smiled to myself, while filling the minutes, knowing Ty's brow would be furrowed as he came up with a suitable response.
"Please advise the patient that Mr. Hill is very skilled in mouth-to-mouth combat, and he will be available to assist. PS - Please ensure that the patient is naked when Mr. Hill arrives."
Ten minutes later, I was on the way to our bedroom to undress for my guy when I suddenly thought, "Nah!" Instead, I walked to our dresser and opened the bottom drawer.
When I heard a car door slam in the driveway, I knew Ty was home. I was mostly hidden by Christmas tree branches when he walked into the room and dropped his hand luggage. I registered the look of delight on his face when he saw the tree just before he called out, "Mike?"
From the shelter of those branches, I called, "Is that you, Robin?"
I heard the chuckle before Ty slipped into character and responded, "Come on, Batman, it's almost Christmas. Let's kick back and get into the spirit."
"But the Joker's escaped from Arkham Asylum, Robin …"
"And you really think he's gonna make a move so close to Christmas? Even scum spends the holidays with their families."
"He has no family."
"OK, I'll make a deal with you. If we go out on patrol, and Gotham is quiet with no sign of the Joker - we come back here and fuck each other stupid!"
"Are you calling me 'stupid,' Robin?" I chuckled, before adding, "I need to make sure this isn't sexual harassment. I'll have to check this with my lawyer Mr. Michael Stewart, senior partner with Turner, Minchell and Davis …"
"I'm happy to talk with your lawyer, Batman," Ty replied. "Please send him out now!"
I stepped out from behind the Christmas tree and Ty's smirk let me know he'd taken in the fact that one of the bigger branches seemed to have found its way into Batman's tight shorts …
* * *
"Welcome home, mate!" I grinned, holding out my arms. In three seconds flat, Ty had scooted over, grabbed me around the back of the neck and pulled me in for one of those earth-shattering kisses that I'd daydreamed about every day since he'd been gone.
The kiss lasted until our breath ran out, then somehow, Ty was on the couch, and I was on my knees between his legs dragging his jeans and boxers off, and swallowing his throbbing manhood. I showed him with my mouth just how much I'd missed him. God, I loved to bring this guy pleasure. Actually, what Ty responded with was more than just pleasure for me; he threw his head back, closed his eyes, ran his fingers through my hair and whispered "Mike … Mike … oh fuck, Mike" over and over.
I really went to town on him, and it was a quick jump to Ty's strangled scream as he emptied himself of a load that I knew he'd probably not expended since the last time I was in Melbourne for a long weekend during the run of the show.
I sat up next to Ty and kissed him as he recovered. He looked into my eyes and kissed me back. "I love you, Mike," he smiled. "Fuck, I love you."
"You're just saying that 'cos I give awesome head!" I laughed, as I stroked his chest.
"That's not true!" he said with mock indignation. "Well, it's true that you give awesome head, but that's not why I love you."
I cocked my eyebrow at him and laughed.
"Well, it's part of the reason I love you," he grinned. "But mostly, I love you because you're … you. The day you opened the door at the Grand Apartments, my whole world was suddenly different. I found what I'd been looking for all my life."
It was a beautiful moment for me, and I was left speechless. Until Ty added, "Doesn't make sense though. Like, apparently I'm the hottest guy on the planet and … you're not …"
That made me laugh so much I snorted. "Yeah, right!" I guffawed. "Blow me, mate!"
"I'd love to!"
"Well, you can't right now. I've made hors d'oeuvres, and I'm making paella for dinner."
"You'll fuck me later on though, won't you?"
"I don't know," I mused. "I might … then again, I might not."
Ty's hand strayed to the crotch of my Batman suit. He squeezed and said, "Something's telling me that you might. You don't fool me for a minute, lawyer boy!"
Before he could slip his hands inside my Bat pouch, I jumped up and said, "We're having hors d'oeuvres. You want a wine or a beer?"
Ty sighed and stretched his legs. "I'll have a beer. And some ice cream … maybe?"
"Beer is good. Ice cream is not a hors d'oeuvre. And the ice cream will follow Mike's splendid paella."
I strolled off to get our refreshments, and a very happy Scruffy passed me when the kitchen door swung open, his tail wagging. He barked excitedly when he saw Ty, and in seconds flat, Ty was rolling around the floor with his much loved canine mate getting his face licked.
For the next couple of hours, Ty and I snacked and caught up with our individual news. Ty told me all about the final few days of the Melbourne run of Les Miserables, and how much he'd enjoyed his experience on stage playing such a challenging role. I enjoyed listening to how positive he was about the new direction in which he'd steered his career.
I brought Ty up to date with my work, quickly ran through some things he needed to know about the music school, and reminded him that we were without George for the weekend.
"Did he cook stuff before he left?" Ty asked hopefully.
"Well, yes," I replied, trying not to sound indignant. "But I'm using it for emergencies only. I'm pretty sure that I can feed you, me, and Lachie's lot tomorrow by myself!"
"You're always hungry!"
"I'm always horny, too! Lucky I've got you to satisfy both needs!"
"There's stuff I need for the paella …"
"Tell me what you need," Ty grinned, taking the hint. "I'll go down to the supermarket and get it."
"You'll never get home again, if the other shoppers recognise you!" I laughed.
"Nah, I'll wear my beanie and do the 'head down' thing!"
"You don't have to go … I can do it."
"You're doing the soup," he smiled. "I want to do my bit."
"You're just looking for brownie points from 'Purple!'" I chuckled. "Mike cooks, but I shop for the ingredients!"
"You've got that right," he laughed. "If I show I'm working in partnership with my hot partner, she might make me some lamingtons. They're the best!"
"Don't let your mum hear you say that!"
"You're right, nobody makes lamingtons as well as my mum!"
"What's wrong with my lamingtons?"
Ty chuckled. "Your paella, mate? It's to die for. Your Carbonara is unrivalled … but your lamingtons suck!"
"They're not fluffy enough, mate. You don't sift the flour long enough. Mum does. So does Janet."
"Fine," I said. "No more lamingtons for you, then …"
"You're so cute when you're miffed!"
"I'm not miffed."
"I think you are. Do you love me?"
"Of course, I love you. I just won't make lamingtons for you ever again."
"Excellent!" Ty giggled. "What do you need at the supermarket?"
"I've got rice, stock, the prawns, and the chicken," I said as I went through a mental checklist. "And I've got onions, capsicums, and peas. All I need is a packet of saffron threads, two chorizos, and some smoked paprika."
Ty scratched his head. "I have no idea what you just asked for," he shrugged.
"You'll be fine. Just find a cute stock boy and ask him to direct you!" I replied as I handed him the list.
Ty was about to leave when we both tuned into the radio program playing away quietly in the kitchen.
"Coming up after the break, our 'Weekend Rock Block' is three in a row from Tyson Hill ."
We were tuned to 'Tim & Tommo', the weekend morning announcers on the Sydney GLT radio station Bliss FM. We weren't regular listeners, but we did enjoy the mix of music they played.
"Ten minutes of me!" Ty laughed. "Woo hoo!"
"Get over yourself!" I smirked. "I need the chorizo …"
While Ty was gone, I busied myself with cooking the chicken and seafood. I hummed along to the radio as "Love on the Rocks", "Deep Inside of Me", and "Angels on High" pumped from the speaker.
"Three in a row from Tyson Hill!" said Tommo.
"What a coincidence!" said Tim. "There are three things that really annoy me about Tyson Hill!"
"Well, it can't be his butt!" laughed Tommo. "Cosmopolitan has again voted his the 'Best Buns in Rock!'"
"I will admit, Tyson Hill has an awesome bot!"
"So what annoys you?"
"Three times now, he's declined requests to be interviewed on Bliss FM. We're a gay radio station … he's a gay man, and it annoys me that he doesn't support us. Secondly, he declined an invitation to head one of the floats in Mardi Gras next year. For some reason, he doesn't feel he's part of our community. Thirdly, he's in a relationship, but nobody's allowed to know anything about his partner. It's like he's happy to play the 'gay card,' but he doesn't want to share."
I cringed. I knew that if Ty was listening, he'd be annoyed. He was pretty good with criticism, usually either taking it on board or dismissing it, but I knew what pushed his buttons. I was trying to decide whether to call him, or just let it drop when my attention was grabbed again as the radio hosts came back from an ad break.
"You're with Tim & Tommo on Bliss FM … and, Tim, you just never know who's listening! On the line ready to tackle you is the 'one and only' Tyson Hill. Hey, guy!"
"Hey, Tommo, hi, Tim."
"To what do we owe this pleasure?"
"I'm a little offended by what you just said, Tim, and I'd like the opportunity to add my tuppence worth."
"Go for it," said Tim, who suddenly wasn't sounding quite so cocky.
"Ok," said Ty. "I'll take them one at a time. There were two occasions when I couldn't do interviews with Bliss, because the requests came in too late and we couldn't fit them into the record company's media schedule. The third request was for me to do a question-and-answer quiz about my sex life, and which men I find attractive. I don't do that sort of stuff - never have, never will. But if you ever want to talk to me about my music, give me a call."
"Fair enough," said Tim meekly.
"As for Mardi Gras, I've said before that I'm never going to go out and flaunt my sexuality in people's faces, and that certainly extends to not swishing down the road on a float with a whole lot of guys in frocks. I just don't do that sort of stuff either."
"So, you're embarrassed by the gay community?"
"Not at all. I just happen to believe that there's nothing 'different' about us, so we should just get on with living our lives the way we choose without exaggerating our lifestyle. People who aren't gay don't feel the need to have a parade and make a big song and dance about it. Why should we? I've made it known that I'm a gay man, but I'm living my life the way I choose. I need love - and I found it … I don't need a parade."
"So, you're belittling the guys who love the parade?"
"Not at all," Ty sighed. "Frock up, have fun. It's just not me though. I'll show the world who I am in my own way."
"OK, but 'who you are' is a man in a relationship, yet you're very secretive about your partner. It's almost like you're embarrassed, because to show him to the world is really acknowledging your sexuality …"
I held my breath. I knew Ty well enough to know he'd be close to the explosion point. I heard a short sigh before he replied.
"There are two people in our relationship," Ty responded in a measured voice. "I would have no problem 'walking the red carpet' with my partner, but his preference is to not be part of the public side of my life … and I respect that. We both have our careers, and I will not let him be criticized for wanting to stay out of the public eye. It comes with the territory for me, but not for him."
The pause that followed showed that neither announcer knew quite where to go. It was Tommo who attempted a 'save.'
"Cosmopolitan voted you 'Best Buns in Rock' for about the fifth year in a row. Does Michael appreciate how hot you are as much as we do?"
There was another pause before Ty laughed.
"He'd better!" he chuckled. "But he's pretty hot himself!"
Tommo saw the moment to jump in and smooth any ruffled feathers.
"It's been great talking to you, Tyson Hill. You're not going to sue us, are you?"
"Of course not," Ty laughed, "but it's worth remembering that I have excellent legal representation! I love your work, guys! I just wish that before you criticize the things I choose to do, you'd at least give me the chance to explain why I do them."
"So, all's forgiven, then?" he asked, hopefully.
"Sure!" Ty replied. "And I'd forgive you even more if you played something from my new album."
"We can do that! What track do you suggest?"
"I'll dedicate the title track to you and your listeners. This is "From Me to You!""
The song kicked in, and I couldn't help grinning to myself. When he arrived home 20 minutes later with the shopping, he stuck his head around the kitchen door looking slightly worried. "You're not mad with me, are you?" he asked tentatively.
"Why would I be mad with you?"
"Because I mentioned you on the radio …"
"You didn't mention me; the announcer did - you just responded." I stopped stirring the boiler and turned to him. "I'm proud of you, Ty."
"Yeah? Um, why?"
"Because you're starting to figure out how to work the media, and you're mastering the ability to somehow turn an interview around to your music. My boy's gradually starting to play the industry game!"
"Yeah?" he asked again. "So, you reckon I did good?"
"You did good, mate," I grinned. "However, I dispute the claim that you have the 'hottest buns.'"
"Oh, really?" Ty frowned. "How's that?"
"Since I've been back at the gym, I've toned up really well. I believe I now have the 'hottest buns' in this relationship!"
"I'll need proof!"
"As soon as this paella is done, I'll challenge you to a buns-off!"
"Can't you make that bloody soup any faster?"
* * *
Once the paella was ready, Ty was chomping at the bit. I knew only too well what he wanted - what we both wanted - but I decided we'd wait. So I distracted him with some foreplay on the couch.
We were sharing some wine, and Ty was lying sprawled on the couch with his head in my lap. As I lightly scratched his scalp, he commented, "The tree looks awesome! Who did you have in to decorate it?"
I chuckled. "I knew you'd say that! I did it, under instructions from George!"
"Yeah? Well fuck, you did a great job!"
We shot the shit for another hour or so, and as the sun began to set, I excused myself to check on our meal. The paella had simmered quite long enough, and I was looking forward to watching Ty enjoy the one dish he never tired of. Well, except me …
Ty disappeared to unpack his cases and freshen up, and I disappeared long enough to get rid of the Batman outfit and replace it with shorts and a shirt. On the balcony, I set the table for two and lit candles. When Ty finally joined me, smelling all clean and scrubbed, we enjoyed a glass of Pinot Gris and snuck in a couple of kisses before the paella was dished.
For the next little while there was no more talking … Ty was at the trough, and the moany, groany sounds he was making reassured me that he was enjoying his meal.
"This is so fucking good, Mike!" he enthused before digging back in. Quickly, his bowl was empty and, without shame, he looked at mine still half full. I pushed it toward him, and without even a hint of concern that he was finishing my meal, he polished it off.
He used bread to mop up whatever traces were left in the bowl before looking at me longingly and asking, "There's more, isn't there?"
"There is," I assured him. "But the rest of it is for Lachie and Ellie tomorrow night."
"Damn," he sighed.
"I have ice cream and chocolate sauce though …"
"It's not quite the same."
"Oh, well then, after the ice cream and chocolate sauce, I'm thinking I might fuck you, talk dirty in your ear … you know … like a dirty lawyer would …"
"GET THE ICE CREAM AND GET IT QUICK …" he yelled.
* * *
The rest of the evening went exactly as I knew it would. We stretched out on the couch for a while looking at the view until just before the sun set, when I switched on the tree lights and took pleasure in the look on Ty's face. For a fleeting moment, I saw the same look of wonder that often lit up the face of a much younger family member.
Ty and I made a cursory effort to clean up, and then retired for the night. We cuddled and kissed, then made love. Did I fuck him? I most certainly did.
We lay together at the end of the night, me on my back with Ty's head resting on my chest. As I ran my fingers through Ty's curls, I asked, "What time are Lachlan and Ellie getting here tomorrow?"
"Afternoon, I think," Ty replied.
"I can't wait to see them …"
"Yeah, I've missed them so much," Ty agreed.
We lay in silence for a while, before Ty said excitedly, "I can't wait to get my hands on those little guys again!"
You can hear other versions of songs referenced in this chapter via the following links:
*"From Me to You"