Love on the Rocks-Scott's Story
I was pissed off by all the interruptions, but I finally had the opportunity to get back to sleep. More to the point, back to the dream I was having, where my name was on the front window of my own restaurant: Scott Hill, Proprietor/Chef…
Then my mobile rang again - this was the final straw! "Jesus!" I hissed as I threw back the bed covers, swung my legs around to sit, and grabbed my mobile phone. I answered it without checking the caller ID, barking "What?"
"Oh," was the reply. "Are you alright?"
"This is the first Saturday I've had off in weeks, and all I wanted to do was sleep in!" I snapped. "I've had delivery trucks reversing downstairs at 7:00 a.m.; but I finally managed to get back to sleep. Then the couple in the apartment next door started arguing, so I got out of bed and banged on the wall. They shut up for a while, and I was just about asleep again when they decided they'd make up and started fucking. God, that woman's a moaner! But he's obviously a rabbit, so it was over very quickly. Then I fell asleep again until somebody knocked on my door - wrong apartment of course. Then the bloody phone…"
"Sorry, mate. Switch your phone off, go back to sleep, and ring me later."
I instantly regretted my angry outburst. "I'm sorry, Ty. I didn't mean to bite your head off. It's just that I've worked like 20 days straight, and I've finally got a weekend off. I just need to catch up on some sleep. But I'm awake now… so it's OK. How are you? How's Mike?"
"I'm good - and Mike's hot!" he laughed. "It was nothing important; we just thought you might like to come over for lunch today? I figured nine o'clock was an OK time to call, because I thought you'd be going to the gym."
"I was going to, but I was buggered," I replied, which got a snicker from Ty.
"So was I!" he snorted. "But I still managed to get up early!"
"Ah… sex!" I sighed. "I vaguely remember what that was like."
"So, you wanna come over for lunch?" Ty asked hopefully. "George and Max still aren't home from Shoalhaven Heads, so Mike was gonna get some fresh seafood and make one of his awesome salads."
I sighed again. "I might have to give lunch a miss. I've gotta do some grocery shopping, I've hardly got anything here. I've been bringing food home from the restaurant every night because I've had no time to shop. And I need to do some washing, too. But if the offer's still open for dinner?"
"Sure, mate!" Ty said with enthusiasm. "Let's make it dinner. And if you like, you can stay the night and come to the taping of Joe Payne Tonight tomorrow afternoon - I'd love to have you there!"
"Why are you doing a TV show?" I asked incredulously. "I thought you weren't doing any media?"
"Yeah, well… You remember we had Joe and his wife here last week for dinner? We talked about all the shit in the newspapers and magazines about me turning my back on the music industry and shunning my fans, and he thought maybe I could make it stop by doing one major TV interview. So, I kind of said 'yes.'"
"You do know that he's only looking for the biggest slice of the audience share on Sunday night, don't you?"
"Yeah, I know," Ty agreed. "But I reckon if I go on the record once and set it straight, most of it'll die down. I trust Joe, and as you know, he always sticks to the boundaries Mike sets."
"I'm happy to go with you, Ty. I'll stay tonight, and we can all go together tomorrow."
"You can stay tomorrow night, too, if you like; and you can go to work from here on Monday morning."
"The restaurant doesn't open on Mondays," I reminded him, "so I've effectively got a long weekend. I think I'll come back here after the taping and just spend some time at home. I pay all this rent, and I hardly ever spend any time in my own apartment."
"Exactly! That's why it would have made more sense for you to live here and save your money."
"Let's not go down that road again," I said with a groan. "I'll stay tonight, go to the taping with you tomorrow, then come back here."
"OK, OK. I'm good with that!"
"What time should I come over?"
"Whenever you like, mate. Just rock up when you're ready."
"OK, gotta go," I said. "I need to have a shower and a wank!"
"We'll see you later, mate… once you've washed your hands!" Ty laughed. "I love you, Scotty."
"Yeah, I love you, Ty - and Mikey, too!"
* * *
My attempt to sleep for another hour was thwarted when the couple next door started arguing again - and even a pillow over my head didn't drown it out. I sighed, threw back the covers, and headed to the bathroom for a leak.
I filled a cereal bowl with muesli and made a cup of coffee, which I consumed to a backdrop of muffled yelling… something to do with the wife never being satisfied, and then issuing a challenge to the husband. True to form, the yelling stopped, and the makeup sex started.
'Marathon Man' really put some effort into it this time and lasted for about five minutes before his strangled groan signalled the end of the road. To be fair, it was his personal best so far, and whilst I was inclined to snicker - at least he was getting some. I certainly wasn't.
I stepped into the shower, cleaned myself up, and got ready for the day ahead. I was looking forward to seeing Ty and Mike, and enjoying a good night's sleep in what they'd called "Scotty's Room" from the first day they moved in.
I spoke to one or the other of them every day, but it had been almost a fortnight since I'd last seen them, when they stopped by Casa Nostra for a meal. Even then, the kitchen was flat out, and I only found a few minutes to join them at their table.
It had been more than three months since Ty had put his career 'on hold,' and I'd never seen him happier. Without the pressure of being 'Tyson Hill,' and away from the media glare, he was as relaxed as he'd ever been. He was enjoying working on his music at home at his own pace, putting plans and strategies in place for his new music school, and waiting each afternoon for the love of his life to walk through the door at the end of a long working day.
Ty's happy bubble had burst a few weeks ago when Famous magazine ran with a cover story that screamed, "TYSON HILL: CAREER ON THE ROCKS!" Quoting "unnamed sources," it revealed that Ty had called a halt to his music career and had turned his back on the music industry. Unfortunately, the journalist had contacted Ty's manager Vince Cometti directly without going through Monique, his publicist.
Vince made it clear that he still represented Ty; but to Ty's great annoyance, he also confirmed that Ty was taking a break from music indefinitely, and that he wasn't currently working. "What do you mean I'm not working?" Ty had seethed in a confrontational call to Vince. "I'm working on my songs every day of the week!"
The rest of the Australian media picked up the story and ran with it. The dailies were filled with horror stories of how the pressure of stardom had forced Ty to breaking point; and suddenly, Ty was all over the glossy magazines again, for - as he put it - all the wrong reasons.
Ty was even more devastated when the American magazines picked up the story. Suddenly, there were stories in the US supermarket tabloids - "sleaze rags," Ty called them - reporting that his drug habit had got the better of him again; that Mike had given him an ultimatum - your career or me; and he'd lost all his money gambling.
Ty was mortified to be back in the media spotlight; but as always, Mike was his rock. In his usual quiet, calm way, he pacified Ty and convinced him to simply ignore it. Mike instructed Monique to refuse all media requests for interviews and encouraged Ty to go about his life as normal, rather than hide away at home.
A week ago, Mike had invited Joe Payne and his wife Gina to Potts Point for dinner. He and Ty had great respect for the amiable television presenter, who'd shown his support for Ty since his first success with the Love on the Rocks album. Ty was naturally sceptical of media, but he'd built up a level of trust with Joe and had agreed to appear on Joe Payne Tonight in the past.
It was Joe who somehow convinced Ty to appear on the show this weekend to comment publicly for the first time on the media circus that was once again surrounding him. I was initially surprised, but I knew that with Mike's blessing, Ty would commit and be comfortable.
If only I could find a 'Mike' of my own…
* * *
Once I was dressed, I threw a load of washing on before leaving the apartment and pushing the button for the elevator. While I was waiting, I was joined by 'Marathon Man,' who looked very pleased with himself.
"G'day, mate!" he grinned. "Great day, eh?"
"I haven't actually seen it!" I smiled at him. "I'm just heading out now. I slept in late because I had trouble sleeping… so much noise comes through those walls!"
"Yeah, I know what you mean!" he nodded. "That old chick above us forgets to turn off her TV, and it blares all night!"
"Yeah, that's probably what it was!" I laughed. "It sounded like she was watching porn!"
As we stepped into the elevator, he looked at me strangely, like I was a pervert; then for the entire trip to the ground floor, he pretended to check his phone, only nodding when we both got out on the ground floor.
I grabbed a takeaway coffee and strolled through the city to the CBD's largest supermarket several blocks away. I hadn't bothered to make a shopping list, so I was buying from memory. I needed to be cautious because money was tight and food in the city was expensive.
My trainee chef's salary was measly, and after paying rent and utilities, and running my car, there was never much left over. I had planned to work part-time as a trainer at the gym I'd worked at earlier when Simon and I lived on Castlereagh Street; but my hours at the restaurant were long and tiring, and I never seemed to have the energy to devote to taking on someone else's fitness regime.
I had to be careful not to let Ty know that everyday expenses were a struggle; more than once in the past, I'd found sums of money deposited in my bank account by either Ty or Lachie. I'd made it clear from the start that I did not want financial assistance from either of them, so it was best that I always maintained an outward appearance of being able to exist comfortably on a low income.
I'd never been one for eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, but Ty's diet was starting to appeal to me more and more - and the inexpensiveness of it was a godsend. I'd learned to shop for food that was in plentiful supply, which often pushed the prices down. Today, pumpkin, zucchini, and green beans were on special, so I stocked up. I'd be able to make a lot of pumpkin soup and freeze it; the beans would be good on their own, or in salads; and the zucchini would be ideal to eat steamed or baked, stuffed with rice, or turned into fritters.
Bananas were also on sale, so I grabbed a bunch, along with some seedless watermelon, a head of Cos lettuce, and tub of grapes. I stretched the budget to one avocado, but as good as the mangoes looked, at $4.95 each, they were a luxury I couldn't afford.
I finished my shopping by choosing a dozen eggs, some 'home brand' bacon, toilet tissue, mineral water, teabags, and fresh milk. There was probably more that I needed, but I'd struggle enough carrying this lot home, so I called it quits.
Back in the apartment, I unpacked the food and put it away. I unloaded the washer and hung the clothes on a rack on my balcony before packing a small suitcase with clothes and toiletries for my night at Potts Point.
I rummaged around in my pantry and fridge, and found a can of tuna, a tub of sour cream, and a packet of French Onion soup mix, which I turned into a dip to take with me. Then I grabbed a bottle of wine that had been left from the last time Ty and Mike visited. Hopefully, they wouldn't notice that they were getting their own gift back.
By mid-afternoon, I'd locked up the apartment, retrieved my car from the basement, and was headed for Potts Point.
I stood on the porch of Ty and Mike's harbour side mansion fiddling with my key ring. My first inclination was always to knock, but they'd given me a key to their house when I first moved into my apartment and told me to use it whenever I dropped in, whether they were home or not.
For a while I couldn't do it. I'd knock and wait for someone to answer the door. Eventually, they got to the point where they knew the sound of my car in their driveway, and if I knocked, they'd ignore it until eventually, I'd let myself in.
There was no human welcoming committee this time, just a very boisterous Monty, who jumped all over me the moment I stepped inside. I dropped my bag, picked him up, cuddled him, and called out, "Where is everybody?"
"We're in the kitchen," Ty called back, and I walked through the swinging door holding a very excited Maltese terrier.
Ty was sitting in the middle of the kitchen with a towel around his shoulders as Mike trimmed the curls that had come back with a vengeance after Ty had shaved his head following his American tour.
"Hello, mate!" Ty's greeting was enthusiastic. "I'm just getting a bit of a tidy up before the TV show tomorrow!"
I put Monty down before kissing Mike on the cheek. "Good to see you, mate!" he said with a grin. "I can do you next, if you'd like!"
"Do you ever make that offer in any other setting?" I smirked, before dodging a smack across the head.
"Excuse me? You kiss Mike before you kiss your own brother?" Ty asked incredulously.
"His was the nearest cheek!" I laughed, before bending down and kissing Ty.
"Are you sure you don't want me to give you a trim while I'm at it?" Mike asked, scissors held up.
"Nah, I'm good. The curlier my hair is, the more people tell me I'm cute! I don't have a sex life, so I get my jollies any way I can!"
Mike laughed. "You'll meet someone," he smiled as he put down the scissors, stretched out his arms, and started to sing, " Someday he'll come along, the man you love…"
I stood back smirking as Ty leapt to his feet, spun around, and clamped his mouth over Mike's mouth. "No!" he admonished sternly. "No singing! Not ever!"
Mike sighed before stomping behind the kitchen bench. "You need to leave my kitchen," he said with a grump. "I need to get dinner prepared, and I like to sing to myself while I cook. Apparently, that's far too painful for you, so you need to be gone."
"Damn right!" Ty nodded. He grabbed my arm and steered me toward the door. "Let's play some pool while Mike makes another amazing meal… and sings really, really badly…"
"It'll be an hour before you can feast on dinner, Scott." Mike smiled. "But it'll be weeks before your brother gets to feast on this magnificent body again…"
"Yeah, right!" Ty snickered as he steered me to the games room.
* * *
It was a no brainer that I'd beat Ty at pool - he was hopeless. As I teased him, I also reminded him of Mike's disappointment that he couldn't cook either! But on the way back to the kitchen, I was reminded of what Ty could do that nobody around him could. He sat at the baby grand in the lounge room and played me a verse and chorus of "Perfect Love," the song he was currently working on.
His voice was as amazing as always - huge and powerful; it was so good to hear him sing again. I kissed him on the top of the head and told him it sounded great. "It's about him," he whispered, pointing to the kitchen. "But don't tell him, or he'll want a slice of the publishing!"
When we walked into the kitchen, Mike smiled. "It's nice to hear you sing! The song's sounding great. I take it, it's about me?"
Ty and I laughed. "Sorry, mate, but it's not!"
"Oh, really? Who's it about, then?"
"Monty!" Ty laughed. "He needs to feel loved, because he doesn't get a lot of it from you!"
"That's only because he's the most appallingly behaved puppy in the history of puppies," Mike said with a sigh.
"You don't ever cut him any slack!"
"You let him get away with murder!"
"You bought him!"
I cleared my throat. "Who do I have to sleep with around here to get a beer?"
Mike grinned, opened the fridge, and handed me a beer before removing two more. While we sipped, Mike took the lid off my tuna dip, grabbed a ripe avocado, a salad onion, a few cherry tomatoes, and some Tabasco sauce. In no time at all, he'd whipped up a guacamole dip, and we shared both dips with crackers.
"So, with you being an Italian chef and all, would you have done the guacamole any differently?" Ty asked as he scoffed another helping.
I grinned. "Guacamole isn't Italian, you goofball!"
"No, it's Mexican!" I giggled. "The Aztecs created it in the 1300s."
"The Aztecs?" Ty asked, scratching his head. "Weren't they Billy Thorpe's band?"
I took great delight in slapping him across the back of the head, and even more delight when Mike added, "Give him one from me!"
Slaps delivered, Ty asked, "So, what's for dinner?"
"Is food all you ever think about?" Mike laughed.
"No, I mostly think about your hot bod, and what I'm gonna do with it." Ty grinned. "But you know - kid brother's here…"
"That's never stopped you before!" I said with a chuckle.
Mike sighed. "Tonight, I've pulled out all stops to create a gastronomic feast, being that we're in the presence of greatness."
"Thanks, Mike!" Ty grinned.
"I meant Scott!"
I laughed. "I take it, you're not gonna try to outdo me with Italian?"
"No, I have scoured the four corners of the globe to bring you alternative international cuisine, using whatever was in the fridge!"
"Come on… impress me!" I laughed.
"Well for starters, I've made cauliflower fritters, which will be served with melted gorgonzola cheese and sprinkled with paprika!"
"Yum!" Ty said, rubbing his hands together.
"That's an Italian dish!" I said with a smirk.
"No, it's not," Mike smiled.
"Yes, it is. We call it Cavlofiore!"
"Cauliflower is a global food! Its origins were in Syria centuries ago, and the world's biggest producers are the Chinese."
"Yeah, yeah!" I said, dismissively. "The minute you add gorgonzola, it's an Italian dish!"
"Fine!" Mike said snappily. "I'll use gruyere; it's Swiss!"
"Are you doing a salad to go with it?"
"I've made a salad of grated green papayas, carrots, onions, and cherry tomatoes; and it'll be served with a classic lemon and garlic dressing."
"Yum!" Ty said.
"So Swiss cheese meets Thai salad?" I laughed. "You'll get away with it because Switzerland and Thailand enjoy great diplomatic relations. Switzerland's the most popular European destination for Thai tourists."
"How do you know this shit?" Ty asked, scratching his head.
"I read a lot. I don't have a sex life, remember? So, I read stuff."
"Is there a main course?" Ty asked.
"I'm kinda sticking with the Thai theme. It's a satay stir fry with tofu, capsicum, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and bean shoots. It'll be accompanied by saffron rice."
"Well, it all sounds awesome to me!" Ty grinned as he leaned over the bench and kissed his partner.
"Cut it out, you two," I sighed. "I'm feeling nauseous!"
"Really?" I'm feeling horny!"
Our banter was interrupted by the sound of a key in the front door, signalling the arrival of George, our housekeeper, and his portly partner Max from Shoalhaven Heads. George swept into the kitchen, followed by his paramour. "Well, if it isn't my favourite Hill brother!"
"Hey, George!" Ty grinned.
"I meant Scott!"
I got off my stool and gave George a hug, then kissed Max on the cheek. He ruffled my hair before sniffing the air. "I smell papaya," he announced, "and peanut sauce! An odd combination, but it could work!"
"Mike's made dinner," I said with a smile.
"You're welcome to join us, Max," Mike offered.
"What's cooking?" Max asked, as George checked the pots, pans, and oven.
Mike got as far as describing the entrée of cauliflower fritters with melted gruyere, before Max interjected, "Ah, Cavlofiore! Wonderful!"
Mike pretended to be miffed. "It would be Cavlofiore if I'd used gorgonzola, which is Italian. But apparently, I can't cook Italian food for shit!"
I laughed. "I never said that, Mike! You still make a killer spaghetti Carbonara."
"Anyone can make Carbonara," Mike sighed.
"I can't!" Ty laughed.
"That's right, you can't!" Mike smiled. "So, will you join us, Max?"
"Well, it's hard to believe that I'm passing up food, but I need to get back home to Cleopatra. And I desperately need sleep. George had me up all night catering to his insatiable sexual appetite!"
"Ewww!" Ty groaned, screwing up his nose. "I'm not feeling so hungry now…"
"I'll be off, gentlemen," Max announced as he picked up his keys. "Good luck with the TV show in the morning, Tyson."
"Thanks, Max," Ty smiled.
"Give Cleopatra a kick up the ass from me, Max!" Mike laughed, as Max walked out of the kitchen.
As George started to follow, I had to ask, "You weren't really up all-night having sex, were you, George?"
George tutted as he exited the kitchen. "Of course not, you nasty boy! We were all done by about two-thirty."
* * *
Mike's meal was magnificent. Despite my constant teasing, he was an excellent cook - and I'd never eaten a meal he'd cooked that was a disappointment. Where I'd had to refine my culinary skills step-by-step under supervision, Mike's was innate; he cooked instinctively, and he was always spot on.
We ended the meal with ice cream and chocolate sauce; what else? I helped him clear up before we joined Ty and George on the couch to watch TV. Mike flopped down next to Ty on one of the two-seaters, and I joined George on the other.
We watched highlights of the Australian Open for a while; and during an ad break, Mike flicked around the channels, catching a promo for tomorrow night's Joe Payne Tonight.
A montage of film clips of Ty performing was accompanied by a voice over that said, "Has Tyson Hill really called it quits? Join us tomorrow night when Australia's top rock star reveals all!"
Ty groaned. "So, I'm back to being Australia's top rock star!" he grumbled. "I just can't get away from it."
Mike smiled, put his arm around Ty, and pulled him in for a cuddle. "Statistically, you are the country's biggest rock star, mate!" he said reassuringly. "And Joe's giving you the opportunity to shoot all that media crap down in flames. Embrace it!"
Ty sighed again. "Yeah, you're right…"
"Mike's always right!" I laughed.
We went back to the tennis highlights, and after an hour or so, George stood and announced he was retiring for the evening. I stood and stretched. "I think I'll turn in, too."
Ty looked surprised. "You don't wanna stay up with us and watch TV?"
"I can't focus on the TV, Ty," I said with a smirk. "In my peripheral vision, I can see your hand in Mike's lap, and I know what's going on. It's like slow torture!"
Ty giggled. "I can't help it!" he said defensively. "Don't worry, mate… the right guy's gonna come along for you, you'll see…"
Mike only managed to get out "Someday, he'll come along…" before Ty stopped him by clamping his hand on his mouth.
"No singing!" he admonished. "Not ever!"
"He'll be big and strong…"
Ty's hand covered Mike's mouth again before he pulled him to his feet. "Right, get into the bedroom! Clearly, I'm gonna have to gag you!"
"Jesus!" I said with a groan. "I'm outta here!"
I kissed them both on the cheek and left them to turn off the television and retreat to their bedroom. I padded down the hallway and attended to my ablutions before stripping my clothes off and slipping into bed.
I lay on my back with my hands behind my head trying not to feel envious of Ty and Mike, who would be in bed by now, but far from ready to sleep. I was envious of their extraordinary relationship, but I was happy for them both; they were so perfect for each other. I often dreamt of finding a guy like Mike, a man who would be my soulmate. But so far, it remained just that - a dream.
My private life aside, I had much to be grateful for. My family of course - they were the best; I finally had a career, not just a job. And I was doing something I really loved. Even though my relationship with Andrew had ended, we remained great friends; and he frequently called me to check on how I was going.
I reminded myself of what Andrew's psychologist friend Janet had told me in one of our counselling sessions: to put some time into me for a change, and just let everything happen around me. And I smiled as I recalled George's reminder from several years ago, that to find my prince, I'd have to kiss a lot of frogs.
I rolled onto my right side and sighed. The last thing I recalled thinking about before sleep overtook me, was not whether my prince was anywhere on the horizon, but whether I could improve on Mike's cauliflower fritters with gruyere by adding grated zucchini and a selection of fresh, chopped herbs to the mix…
* * *
The knock was faint, and I wondered whether I'd imagined it as I rolled onto my back and forced my eyes open. Then I heard it again… louder this time.
"Is that the man of my dreams coming to claim me?"
The door opened, and George hobbled in. "I'm afraid not, Scott," he deadpanned. "It's the decrepit housekeeper bearing a message from his employers."
I propped myself up on my elbows and smiled. "Do you come bearing a message of hope to follow my heart and always be true to myself, George?"
"No, Scott," George sighed. "I come bearing an invitation to join Mr. Hill and Mr. Stewart for breakfast in bed. Oh, and they said if you need to pass wind, kindly do so before you join them."
"What's for breakfast?" I asked as I sat up.
"I'm making eggs on toast for them, followed by fresh fruit. Does that suit you?"
"Well, a BLT with extra melted cheese would have been my first choice," I said with a grin. "But I guess that's pushing the friendship?"
"Because you're my favourite Hill brother, I'm happy to custom make your breakfast," George smiled. "Would you care to accompany me to the den of iniquity?"
"Well, I'm naked under these covers, George!" I grinned. "Are you up for a perve on a pumped, young male body?"
"Goodness me, no - my heart couldn't take it." George groaned as he turned to walk out. As he closed the door he said, "Your breakfast will be ready in 15 minutes. Be there or Montgomery will be all over it."
I climbed out of bed and pulled on a pair of boxers and a singlet before heading across the hallway to the toilet. I cleaned my teeth, splashed my face with cold water, and headed down the hall to the main bedroom.
"Morning, mate!" Ty grinned as he and Mike sat up in bed with Monty bouncing all over their doona cover. "You wanna hop in?"
"It depends!" I laughed. "Are you naked?"
"Well, yeah." Ty nodded. "But for now, the beasts are at bay!"
"They're in 'recovery mode,'" Mike smirked, before I put fingers in my ears and said, "I don't wanna hear it. You're both just fuckin' cruel!"
Ty moved closer to Mike and held the doona up as I slid in next to him and was immediately pounced on by their fluffy puppy. I held him at arm's length as George walked in with our breakfasts on a tray.
"Hey, Monty!" Ty exclaimed. "It's breakfast time! Uncle Scotty might give you some bacon!"
Straight away, Mike reached over and unceremoniously deposited the puppy on the floor.
"Why did you do that?" Ty asked.
"You know why, Ty," Mike sighed. "Dogs don't eat in bed. He's already had his breakfast."
Ty crossed his arms and grumped, "You're mean!" He looked down at the anxious puppy on the floor and said, "Sorry, Monty - you know what he's like…"
Mike picked up a plate and handed it to Ty. "Eat your eggs! They're full of amino acids, which are good for the penis!"
"There's nothing wrong with my penis!" Ty retorted defensively.
Mike smiled. "At our age, the nerves in the penis can lose their sensitivity due to rough sex. Amino acids have been shown to prevent and even reverse damage to nerve fibres. So, eat your eggs!"
Ty scratched his head. "Do you think we have rough sex?" he asked Mike. Mike looked at George.
"I have to clean up this bedroom most days," George said straight-faced. "It's often a worse mess than the Battle of Gettysburg!"
"When was that battle?" Ty asked.
"1863, sir," George replied. "It was the unionists versus the confederates."
"Which side did you fight on, George?" I asked with a grin, to giggles from Ty and Mike.
George looked at me shrewdly. "Of all the sperm your father produced that night, it astonishes me that you were the fastest!" he said before turning on his heel and shuffling back to the kitchen.
Ty looked sideways at me. "And you had a lot of swimming to do!" He guffawed. "Don't forget - they were standing up in the shower!"
I groaned. "Can we not talk about mum and dad having sex?"
"I'm glad they took that shower!" Ty laughed. "I wouldn't have my baby brother if they hadn't!"
When we'd finished our breakfasts, Mike threw back the covers and padded naked to the en suite. He took a leak, then turned on the shower.
Ty put all our plates on his bedside dresser, then pulled me in for a cuddle. "I know you're going home after the show, but I love it when you come and stay," he said, kissing the top of my head.
"Yeah, I love to visit, too. I especially love sleeping in that bed - I had the best sleep!"
"Isn't your bed at the apartment comfortable?"
"It's fine!" I sighed. "It's just the bed here is nicer."
"We'll buy you the same one for the apartment."
"No, Ty." I groaned again. "I'm happy with what I've got."
And that's how it went all the time that Mike was in the bathroom. Ty made suggestions of how he and Mike could help me, and I shot them all down in flames. He only stopped when Mike walked out of the en suite with a towel wrapped around his waist.
"It's time you two got up and dressed. Somebody has a nation to dazzle this afternoon!"
We climbed out of bed, and I'd headed for the door, when Ty said, "Come have a shower with me, mate - I'll wash your hair!"
* * *
George was serving espresso coffee on the back deck when I suggested that we might go for a walk along the beach after we'd finished. Inner-city living had its advantages, but I sure did miss seeing the water and smelling the salty air.
"That's a great idea, mate!" Mike was enthusiastic. "We could all do with a bit of exercise."
Ty sighed. "I'd love to go, but I've gotta get my clothes organised for the TV show," he said before looking at George with puppy dog eyes.
George rolled his eyes. "Very well, Sir… I'll organise your outfit." He sighed. "Will it be 'rock star black' or 'farm boy overalls and gumboots' this time?"
"God, the last thing I wanna do is turn up looking like I'm about to go on stage," Ty said. "Everyone'll think all this media has just been publicity hype. A pair of nice jeans, a casual shirt, and boots should do it. And maybe a jacket…"
George set about getting Ty's clothes ready for the afternoon as we took Monty downstairs and onto the beach. It wasn't an overly hot day, so the sunbathers weren't out in force, and it was fun to watch Monty chase gulls and pick up sticks.
As we meandered, I asked Ty if he'd thought about the questions he'd likely be asked, and what his answers might be.
"Nah, I'm just gonna take it as it comes," he replied. "That's the good thing about Joe - he knows me well enough now to know the questions I'll be comfortable with, so I'll just answer them off the top of my head."
We sat on the sand watching Monty tire himself out until Mike looked at his watch, stood, and pulled us both to our feet. "Come on, men," he said. "It's time to get the show on the road!"
I changed into day clothes and freshened up in the bathroom before joining Ty and Mike in their bedroom. Mike was already dressed, and Ty was about to put his clothes on. Mike handed him his jeans and an old denim shirt, and Ty handed the shirt back. "I'm wearing the blue and silver silk shirt," he said. "I thought I'd just put everything on now - no point changing when I get there."
"Yeah, I figured you might wear the jeans and boots, and carry the shirt and jacket with you. Otherwise, the good shirt might get messed up while you're having your makeup done."
"You're right… again!" Ty sighed, slipping his arms into his well-worn denim shirt. "Gee, it's been a while since I did TV, eh?"
George arrived to tell us we had 20 minutes before we needed to leave. "Will I make you all another coffee, so you're awake and firing on all cylinders?"
Ty laughed. "Any more caffeine and I'll want to pee all the way through the interview," he said. "Especially, if I'm nervous."
"You don't get nervous doing TV after all this time, surely?" I asked, surprised.
"Well, I haven't been… you know… 'Tyson Hill' for a while now," Ty explained. "It takes me a while to get into that head space."
"Decaffeinated tea should do it," George suggested. "It'll be ready in five."
As we sat at the kitchen bench, Mike pondered. "I don't know whether to take my car, or just call us a cab."
"Either way, I'll have to come back here and get my car," I said. "Why don't I drive us, and you two can get a cab home?"
"Or we could take a cab there and back," Ty suggested hopefully. "You could have dinner here, and then drive home."
"Nice try, Ty. I'm having dinner at my place tonight, followed by an early night."
"Might I suggest something?" George offered. "I'll be cooking this afternoon while you're out. You could all take a cab to the studio and back, and when you collect your car, I'll have a takeaway dinner ready for you."
I smiled; George was just as bad as Ty, in his own way. "Whatcha making, George?"
"A nicoise salad for starters, and I mean the whole deal - boiled potatoes, tuna, tomatoes, olives, lettuce, eggs, and anchovies! And that will be followed by individual chicken and leek pies, with green beans and toasted almonds."
"OK, I'm in!" I laughed as I walked around the bench and kissed George on the cheek. "Thanks, Georgy - you're the best!"
"It's time to go, boys!" Mike announced as he glanced at his watch.
I quickly returned to my bedroom and grabbed my wallet, keys, some mints, a book to read, and a satchel. When I returned to the kitchen, Ty laughed. "You're taking a book? Am I that boring when I'm being interviewed?"
"Of course, you're not! It's just there'll probably be a wait, and you and Mike usually nod off in the Green Room, so I thought I'd take my Sicilian Sauces textbook and brush up on Salmoriglio!"
As we headed for the cab in the driveway, Ty laughed. "Salmoriglio? That sounds like a stomach bug…"
I grinned at his joke. "Nah, it's a pretty basic sauce to baste fish. It's just lemon juice, water, and olive oil, but Marco insists it's made the traditional way, whisked together in a double boiler to ensure it's nice and creamy. I'm being tested on it this week."
We chatted idly on the way to the television studio, where we were met by a female production assistant, who took us to the Green Room, and Ty was pleased to see that a mini rider had been set up for him without him having requested it, based on what was asked for the last time he was on the show.
He grabbed a handful of grapes and a couple of dates and flopped down next to Mike and me on the couch. A short time later, the girl returned with Joe in tow; he made a big fuss of Ty and Mike and welcomed me warmly.
"I'll be keeping things pretty casual, Tyson," he said reassuringly. "I'll be approaching it as though it's all a media beat-up that you've been drawn into, and depending on your responses, I'll just follow your lead. There'll be no curly questions!"
"Thanks, Joe. I'm feeling a bit nervous. It's been a while!"
"You're a natural, mate." Joe grinned as he slapped Ty on the back. "Once that little red light on the camera comes on, you'll be firing! You always make for great television!"
Turning to Mike, he said, "I didn't think to ask whether you'd like to do the interview with Tyson," he said. "I'm more than happy for you to do it together."
"Thanks, mate. This is all about 'Tyson Hill' and his career, not the two of us. I'm just gonna enjoy watching him do his thing!"
Joe's phone registered a text message, and he glanced at it. "You're needed in makeup, mate," he said to Ty. "Come, and I'll walk you around. It's the same girl you had last time."
Once they'd left, Mike and I perused the rider. We helped ourselves to a couple of finger sandwiches, and Mike also took a pear. We sat on the couch and watched the TV monitor as the studio was being set up for the taping, and 20 minutes later Ty returned.
"Nice makeup job!" Mike laughed. "You look great!"
"Thanks. I'm glad you trimmed the curls yesterday though. I'd have looked a bit unbalanced in this clobber."
When Ty pulled off his denim shirt, Mike handed him his silk shirt, then helped him into a contrasting sky-blue dress jacket.
"Is that new?" I asked. "I've never seen you wear it before!"
"Nah, it's Mike's. It's a Paul Smith jacket, which I guess means it's pretty good!"
"You look great, Ty" I grinned, before adding, "For an old bloke!"
Dressed and ready, Ty paced for a while before taking another handful of grapes and sitting on a chair, focussing on what was to come.
As expected, Mike started to doze, and I began memorising the method for Salmoriglio. The warmth and quietness of the Green Room had a similar sleepy effect on me, and I felt my eyelids getting heavy. I vaguely remember Ty telling us both softly that he was going to the bathroom to take a leak.
How long I'd been snoozing, I don't know, but I was in a comfortable zone when I felt a hand gently shaking my shoulder. When I opened my eyes, the most beautiful guy I think I've ever seen said, "It's time for me to take you onto the set, Tyson."
I blinked a couple of times, but the vision in front of me rendered me momentarily speechless. "Um, I… um," I stuttered. "Er, Ty's in the bathroom…"
"Jesus!" Adonis laughed. "Then who are you?"
"Um, well, I… er…"
Mike opened his eyes and saved the moment. "Ty's in the loo, mate." He yawned. "This is his brother, Scott."
"I didn't know he was a twin!" Adonis laughed.
All I could manage was another lame, "Um, well, I… er…"
"Scott's Ty's youngest brother. There's 12 years between them, but they certainly look like brothers!"
"You can say that again!" Adonis exclaimed. "You're almost identical!"
The production secretary who'd accompanied us to the Green Room showed up to see what was taking so long just as Ty walked back into the room.
"Sorry, mate." Ty grinned as he shook hands with Adonis. "I had to take a leak!"
"No worries," Adonis replied. "I'm just going to take you to the side of the set. I feel stupid… I thought your brother was you - God, he's your spitting image!"
"Yeah, we get that all that time!" Ty laughed as he turned quickly to Mike to get the thumbs up on how he looked. While Mike checked that everything was done up and sitting properly, Adonis turned to me and smiled.
"Sorry if I made an ass of myself." He grinned, showing a set of perfectly white, straight teeth. "It was good to meet you, Scott!"
I managed a smile back, but all that came out of my stupid mouth was, "Oh, um, yeah… thanks… you, too!" I wondered briefly whether I was dribbling - I felt like I wanted to.
"Good luck, mate!" Mike called out as Adonis led my brother out of the room. Mike turned and looked at me until I finally turned and met his gaze. He immediately lifted his head toward the ceiling and started looking around.
"What?" I asked, confused.
"Didn't you see him?"
"There was this little guy flying around holding a bow and arrow."
"What are you talking about?"
"Cupid!" Mike laughed. "Cupid's his name!"
"Don't be stupid!" I said dismissively; but it didn't sound convincing, even to me.
"Is that dribble on your chin?" Mike said with a smirk.
"Of course, it isn't!" I said defensively as my hand reached up and wiped the saliva off my chin.
"I think Scott Hill just got bitten by the love bug!"
"No, I didn't!" I laughed. "But seriously, mate… did you see the ass on him? Like… perfection!"
"To be perfectly honest… no, I didn't!" Mike grinned. "I can't remember the last time I checked out a hot guy's ass. But he sure is a good looker!"
"God, I just made a fool of myself." I grimaced. "And I didn't even ask his name."
We both looked up when the production assistant walked into the room to pick up a running sheet to give Ty as he waited in the wings.
"Excuse me!" Mike asked. "Can you remind me who that guy was, the one who came and got Ty? I don't remember him from last time."
"That's Nicholas Wright, one of our segment producers," she replied pleasantly. "He wouldn't have been working on the show the last time you and Tyson were on. He came to us a couple of months ago from Work in Progress, the network's current affairs program."
"OK." Mike laughed. "That explains why I didn't recognise him. He seems like a nice fellow."
"Yeah, Nicky's a great guy!" she nodded. "Everybody on the show loves him!"
As she turned and walked out of the room, I wanted to call after her, "Can you tell him I love him? And I want to lick him all over…" I didn't, of course; I just looked ahead and sighed.
"He's probably straight," Mike offered. "He's probably got a gorgeous girlfriend, and he plans to settle down to a life of suburban bliss."
I wanted to reply, "But he might be gay, and want to settle down in suburban bliss with a trainee chef, who'll smother him in kisses every morning and every night."
Instead, I said, "Yeah, probably…"
Mike moved over and sat next to me on the couch. "His name's Nicholas," he said consolingly. "Nick..."
"She called him Nicky."
"Exactly!" Mike laughed. "'Scott' and 'Nicky' just don't sound right together…"
"Oh, I think it sounds good," I smiled. "Scott and Nicky…"
"I suppose it could look quite cute on the wedding invitations!" Mike ribbed me with an innocent smirk on his face.
I suddenly blushed. "Fuck off!" I mumbled. "Oh look… the show's about to start…"
Mike laughed and punched me on the arm. "You wanna talk about someone gorgeous? Let's watch your big brother!"
We sat and watched as the audience got their warmup, and the production crew moved into their places. The camera picked up Joe on the side of the set getting a last-minute touch-up from the makeup girl.
I was aware that Mike was saying something, but I didn't take it in. "What?" I asked.
"I said, I wish I could give Ty a kiss!"
"Yeah, I guess…" I said absent-mindedly.
"God! You've either fallen seriously in love, or you're much hornier than any of us realised!"
"Don't be ridiculous!" But I couldn't hide a sigh. "I'm here to watch the show, and you'd better shut up, because they're going to introduce Nicky in a minute…"
Mike snorted. "Ty!" he said quietly. "Your brother's name is Ty!"