While Jase Nicholas was on the lower level of the brand new house in Alaska, Luis Fortune-Nicholas was upstairs in the starkly furnished master bedroom watching a TV show about weddings. He'd been reading science fiction about time travel and different frequencies. But the book was getting way too intense and he wanted to focus on something lighter.
Luis and Jase had already gone through a romantic marriage ceremony in Alaska, with family and friends and rings. But that marriage wasn't recognized as a legal union anywhere. So when the state of New York, Luis and Jase's official residence, legalized same sex marriage, they went for a small civil ceremony to make it legal in at least one state. It wasn't the most romantic ceremony. So Jase made up for this when he gave Luis a large gold ring with an unusual feature: the top opened and inside the ring Jase had placed a tiny photo of their son, Hunter.
At the time, Luis decided to take Jase's last name, hyphenated with his own. He was officially Luis Fortune-Nicholas. With their son, Hunter, using the last name Nicholas, it made things easier all the way around and created a connected sense of family. This helped Luis sleep better at night.
A local TV station was running a commercial for one of the Nicholas family businesses in Alaska and Luis's eyes were fixed on the screen. The TV commercial talked about the family's chain of hardware stores throughout Alaska, and it was filled with bits and pieces of nostalgia about Jase's grandfather. The grandfather had started the business in a small storefront in town and it had grown into a multi-million dollar chain. The Nicholas family now had many profitable businesses in Alaska and Jase's mother, Mary, ran them all.
Though Luis knew Jase's father, Barry Nicholas, before he died suddenly the previous summer; and Luis knew Jase's mother, Mary; and Jase's ninety year old grandmother, Isabelle; he'd only seen photos of Jase's grandfather, Judah Nicholas. Luis had heard plenty of stories about feisty old Judah: he'd walked through miles of deep snow to get to work, and he'd worked seven days a week all his life. But Luis always wondered what Judah had been like in person. From what Luis had heard, Jase resembled his grandfather in many ways, especially when it came to his excellent business instincts. Jase could also be as stubborn as his grandfather.
Jase was downstairs working out in the brand new state of the art gym he'd had installed that spring. Luis was waiting for him to come upstairs so they could shower and dress for Jase's twenty-fifth high school reunion that night. It was the first time they'd been alone in a while. Jase's mother and grandmother had asked if they could take Hunter to Disney World for two weeks. Luis agreed instantly. He thought it was a wonderful idea for Hunter to spend time with his grandmother and great grandmother. And it would give Luis and Jase some romantic time alone in their new dream home. This was the first time since the house had been built they would be there for the entire summer.
It had been a busy spring. There were more modeling jobs than Luis could handle and Jase had been busier than ever running his billion dollar empire. When they left New York a week earlier, Luis took a deep breath for what felt like the first time in weeks, thinking about spending the entire summer in peaceful Alaska again. And best of all, this time they were living in their new dream home right next door to where Jase's mother lived. Luis wanted Hunter to have a strong sense of family. The quiet woods were better than any sleeping pill invented. The soft babbling creek below the modern house of glass was far more calming than listening to relaxation tapes. And the mountaintop view overlooking the water from the wall of windows at the back of the house was more intense than watching the best film ever produced in Hollywood.
Luis loved living in New York. It had the best schools for Hunter and that's where Luis and Jase had to be for work. He loved their townhouse on the Upper West Side as much as he loved their weekend getaway place in Bucks County, PA, Cider Mill Farm. But the new house in Alaska was the place he though about most. Even though they couldn't move to Alaska full time yet, he cherished the time he spent there.
As soon as this high school reunion was over, Luis knew Jase would relax a little, too. Though Luis thought he knew every aspect of Jase there was to know, he learned something new that spring. When the invitation to Jase's high school reunion arrived in New York, Jase went into a tailspin Luis would never have predicted. Jase started working out daily and watching his diet more closely than Luis watched his. As a successful male model, Luis was a fanatic about his diet. The healthy foods Jase had always laughed at Luis for eating suddenly became Jase's main staples. He stopped eating carbohydrates, refined sugars, and comfort foods. He never ate fast food and started living on foods that were high in protein and only organic. He also started jogging with Luis every morning in Riverside Park. Jase wasn't overweight by any means. He was one of those lucky men who have a perfect body without having to do anything special. But Jase said he was dieting and working out extra so he'd stay young and healthy.
Luis had a feeling there was more to all this then Jase was telling him. When Jase went out and got a short hair cut and had his sandy hair lightened with streaks of pale blond, Luis's jaw almost hit the floor. And when Jase started getting a spray tan once a week, Luis thought he'd lost his mind.
At first, Luis wondered if Jase was having an affair with another man. There were sneaky vicious queens all over New York who would kill to get their hands on a man like Jase. Why else would a great looking man like Jase go to such lengths to look even better? Jase had never been a self-obsessed man who cared about Botox injections and looking younger than he was, which was one of the things Luis loved the most about him. Jase wasn't like the gay men Luis knew all over New York ... the high maintenance circuit queens who followed every new trend and turned Luis's stomach. Jase was a real man, who wore plaid shirts and work boots on his days off, and walked around the house in old boxer shorts scratching his junk. Though he was known all over the world as The Virgin Billionaire, Jase usually preferred beer to champagne and pick up trucks to expensive foreign cars. And this is what Luis preferred about Jase. There were no lies; there was no pretense. It was always authentic.
When Luis finally did confront Jase about his sudden interest in looking younger, he braced for the worst and prepared for a fight. If there was another slutty queen going after Jase, Luis would pull her hair out by the roots. But Jase shrugged and said, “I don't want to look old at my reunion this summer.” This happened after they'd returned from a five mile run and their hot bodies were drenched in sweat.
Luis pressed his palm to his throat and gaped at his husband. Jase looked so honest and defeated at the same time, and Luis wasn't sure how to respond. So he told the truth. “But you don't look old. You'll be the best looking man at this reunion.” At least Jase didn't have another man. Luis wouldn't have to pull any hair or scratch out anyone's eyes.