The Mask
Chapter Ten

Brian stood in the midst of his once open, uncluttered condo. He eyed the piles of boxes stacked in every available space and corner with confusion. Brian looked over at his beaming roommate.


 “I’ve been to your apartment. You didn’t have this much shi--,” he broke off, wisely and quickly rewording his comment. “Stuff,” he clarified. Brian shook his head. Where in the hell were they going to put all this?


Justin crossed the room, wrapped his arms about the other man’s trim waist, and firmly pressed himself against Brian. Ear against Brian’s chest, he listened to the comforting and reassuring sound of the older man’s beating heart.


Brian pressed a kiss atop the blond head tucked under his chin, and when the blond moved back a bit to look at him, he couldn’t help but return the beaming smile.


Giving a much too quick kiss, Justin moved away to begin rooting around in his boxes. “Well, some of this is from my mom’s and can go back into storage.”


Shooting a nervous glance at Brian, Justin hesitated before revealing the next part. “By the way... my mom wants us to join her for dinner.” Justin didn’t look at Brian again. He busied himself with unpacking his art books, hoping that Brian wouldn’t queen out over the invite.


Justin had been dreading bringing up her invitation. His mom had been hinting for a couple of weeks that she would like to meet Brian, and finally, after hearing that her baby boy was moving in with this mysterious Brian; well, she stopped hinting! The invite was really a thinly veiled demand for Justin to produce Brian for inspection, and Justin knew that inspection wasn’t going to be pleasant.


Chancing a glance at Brian, Justin winced at the older man’s expression. Brian’s eyes were hooded and his face blank. He knew this wasn’t going to go over well. Brian had not told him much; he hadn’t really needed to. The remarks he had made about his family and been curt and cold, and that more than anything else told Justin that Brian’s relationship with his parents had not been a happy one.


Justin remembered one afternoon, the pair had been browsing the galleries and small stores along the south side. They had been looking at a pair of wall sconces when the sales lady had approached them. The women had been rude and snotty, and Justin had remarked that they could freeze ice on her ass. Brian had laughed, throwing an arm around Justin’s neck he had said, “Maybe later, dear.” But the other man had quickly become somber, and said Justin didn’t no cold until he had met Brian’s mother.


Brian stared at the young man. Dinner, with mom, oh boy! He couldn’t say his was surprised, he had been expecting to have to have some contact with the women. He knew Justin was close with his mom. The young man had mentioned her often and even had outings with her at least once a week, it was just sheer luck as far as Brian was concerned that he hadn’t run into her yet, seems as though that luck has run out.


And what was worse in Brian’s mind was that he was going to have to be on his best behavior and try and make a good impression! Not that he doubted he could charm the women, but he was going in with several strikes already against him. First of which was the age thing. Second, was the fact that he and Justin came from such different backgrounds. Jennifer Taylor couldn’t know how different, hell even Justin didn’t know anything of Brian’s past.


Brian had met women like Jennifer Taylor; women who had grown up with wealth, married wealth, and expected their children to do the same. A man from a blue-collar, working class, Irish family wouldn’t fit in her world.


Brian‘s first instinctive response was fuck no, but looking at Justin’s nervous averted face, Brian quickly rethought that response.


“Uh, when?” he asked.


Justin bit his lip, looking up at Brian he spoke with a question in his voice. “Tonight?”


And Brian could only nod. Damn, this was why he didn’t do this relationship shit.


Justin grinned wickedly and once again moved over to embrace the brunet. He raised his face for Brian’s automatic kiss. “There’s a reward in it for you,” Justin whispered, nibbling on Brian’s lower lip.


Brian leaned back and raised a brow at the blond. “Oh really, how big of a reward?”


Justin smirked, and he captured one of Brian’s hands, bringing it down to press firmly against the bulge in his pants. Justin promised, “Huge,” before dragging an unresisting Brian to their bed.




The Metropolitan Club sat atop the Sears Tower and was one of Chicago’s most exclusive dining establishments. Brian had been there once or twice with clients and, although it was a bit too pretentious for his taste, he could appreciate the atmosphere that catered to the wealthy and privileged.


The heavy wood paneled elevator opened into a spacious foyer. Carpeted in rich oriental rugs, it led into an open reception area where a well dressed, polite, attendant greeted them.


There, cozy plush sofas and Queen Ann tables were grouped together inviting guest to relax with a cocktail and intimate conversations.


The dining room was dim and heavy greenery divided the large room into smaller more private dining areas. Tables were draped in white cloth and sparkling silver settings, and waiters, dressed in the black and white formal wear, moved about the room silent and attentive.


Brian had known Justin came from a WASP background--the blond’s polite responses and excellent manners giving that away, but this club spoke of money, old money. One look at Justin’s mom told Brian where that old money came from. Jennifer Taylor shouted breeding, from her perfectly cut and styled hair, down to her matching shoes and Gucci bag. She stood and smiled brightly as the maitre d’ led them to the table, but Brian knew he was in trouble when the smile that had been in her eyes vanished. Oh, she still had a polite closed mouth smile for him, but the look in her eyes…


Brian mentally grimaced.


“Justin!” she greeted her son happily, pulling the young man into a hug before releasing him and turning her attention to Brian.


Justin moved back to Brian’s side and wrapped an arm around his waist. “Mom, I’d like you to meet Brian Kinney, my partner.”


Brian controlled the instinctive wince and thrust out a hand, smiling through gritted teeth. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Taylor,” he said. How the hell did he get himself in this situation? Brian glanced down into happy twinkling blue eyes, oh yea, that’s how.




Dinner went smoothly at first. Jennifer asked about Justin’s classes, his art, and his work at the gallery. She expressed polite interest in the details of Brian’s condo, listening with a forced, fixed smile as Justin gushed about his new home. Justin didn’t seem to notice or chose to ignore his mother’s lack of enthusiasm regarding his new address, but Brian felt that she was only waiting for the right moment. That moment came when Justin excused himself to the bathroom, and Brian fought the urge to go running after him. This was going to be fun!


“So Brian, Justin tells me you’re in advertising,” Jennifer said, turning to look him full in the face, a smile that could only be described as killer upon her lips.


Brian refolded his napkin, smoothing it along his lap. Now he knew how she was so successful in real estate. Justin had bragged that his mom was one of Sudler and Company’s top agents, the same company that sold him his condo.


Brian planted a smile on his face. “Yes, Jennifer, you don’t mind that I call you Jennifer?” At her forced acceptance, Brian’s smile turned charming. “I owned an agency in Pittsburgh, but now I’m semi-retired.”


Jennifer frowned. “Aren’t you somewhat young to be retired?” she asked, and Brian felt and accepted the dig silently, somewhat young indeed.


Brian wanted to turn and see if Justin was about to rejoin them, but he fought the need and settled a little heavily into his chair.


“Yes, I am young to be retired, but I started my own agency when I was quite young and was very successful with it. So now here I am,” Brian said spreading out his graceful hands before refolding them and placing them back in his lap. He watched as Jennifer looked down for a moment, and he just knew she was preparing herself to unload on him.


Jennifer turned a suddenly serious face to Brian. “Brian if I may be blunt here?” she asked and at Brian’s nod she went on. “Justin has told me how old you are and of course you can understand how that age difference concerns me, but what also concerns me is that Justin doesn’t seem to know much about you. Why is that Brian, if, like you both say, you are partners?”



Brian regarded the women across from him, nothing showing on his face. Well, she certainly doesn’t pull any punches. He told himself that he could just tell her to fuck off and that it was none of her business before storming off and leave Justin behind to comfort mommy. But no he wouldn’t. It was simple; Justin was worth fighting for.


He did, however, have to be careful; Jennifer Taylor was nobody’s fool.


“Jennifer,” Brian spoke gently and looked her straight in the eye. “I care for Justin very much, and we want to be together--that’s why he moved in with me. But we are also still in a fairly new relationship. Perhaps it was a little fast, asking him to live with me, but it’s something that we will work out together.”


Brian placed a great deal of inflection in his voice on the ‘together’ part, subtly letting Jennifer know that her opinion was only of value to Justin and that Brian would only share so much. 


“As for the age thing, I’m sure you will agree that Justin is not the average twenty year old.” Brian could see that the woman was far from satisfied. It looked like she was prepared to say more, but Justin chose that moment to return.


“Ready for dessert?” the blond asked. Despite their stalemate of words, Jennifer and Brian looked at each and both rolled their eyes, the bottomless pit that was Justin, easing the tension.




The ride home was made mostly in silence. Though he had a pretty good idea what his mother had said to the older man, Justin kept sneaking glances at Brian’s impassive face wondering what exactly had been said.


He allowed Brian to brood until the pair crossed the threshold of their home, then, before Brian could pour himself a double shot of Beam, Justin spoke.


“Brian, don’t let her come between us. She’s my mom, of course she is going to be overprotective, but I’m an adult and can make my own decisions,” Justin said keeping his voice calm and low while he crept closer to the older man. Finally, he stood directly in front of Brian. Grinning up into the shuttered hazel eyes, he stepped forward once more until they were completely pressed together. Justin licked his lips, feeling his groin stir as Brian’s eyes dropped to follow his tongue’s path.


“Want your reward,” He whispered huskily.


Brian growled and reached for Justin, who, with a truly unmanly squeal, took off running to the bedroom for the second time that day.


To be continued...