Luis thought good old Kyle looked more like male escort material than husband material. Even though Kyle wore a tuxedo, there was something trashy about him that was hard to pinpoint. He reminded Luis of the kind of guy who would have enjoyed being tied up and peed on if there was money involved.
While Jase shook Kyle's hand, smiling so wide his gums were showing, Luis remained standing there, tapping his foot on the auditorium floor to the beat of Sister Christian.
A minute or two later, when it became obvious Jase wasn't going to introduce Luis any time soon, Luis cleared his throat and shoved his right arm between all three of them. “I'm Luis Fortune-Nicholas, Jase's husband. It's nice to meet y'all.” He said y'all on purpose; Jase always knew he was pissed off when his Tennessee accent returned.
Jase turned fast. He put his arm around Luis and said, “I'm so sorry. I just got all caught up.” He yanked Luis forward and said, “This is my husband, Luis.”
Ashton put his arm around Kyle and said, “I had no idea you were gay back in high school, Jase. I have to admit I was shocked when I read about it the first time in the tabloids. You were the last guy I would have guessed was gay. You were the school jock and you dated Betsy Melchiorri for so long.” He pulled trashy Kyle closer and laughed. “I had such a huge crush on Jase Nicholas, star quarterback, it was pitiful. I was terrified to even look Jase in the eye back them.”
Jase laughed. “I never knew that. I didn't even know you were gay.”
Ashton shrugged. “It wasn't something either of us would have advertised back then. Not unless we wanted to get our asses kicked..”
Jase frowned and nodded. He glanced at Kyle and said, “I'm glad things worked out well for you.”
Ashton squared his shoulders. “I own BioTechLite. I started the company after I graduated from college.”
Luis had heard of BioTechLite. He'd read about it in a magazine and he'd been impressed because the owner, Ashton, had one goal: he also wanted to help change the world with medical equipment. His mother had died of cancer and he'd devoted his life to helping people with cancer. He'd started one of those companies that designed and produced some serious medical equipment for cancer patients. But he also designed all kinds of hospital equipment now. It was based on Northern California, somewhere in the middle of Silicon Valley, and Ashton was one of those techie geniuses who wanted to change the world.
“I didn't know you owned BioTechLite,” Jase said. “Congratulations. I always knew you'd do well.” He turned to Luis. “Ashton was the smartest guy in our class. I used to think he was genius.”
Luis forced a smile. “Isn't that nice.” This was getting tired. Luis wanted to get a martini and dance to Cindi Lauper. The band was playing Time After Time. He hadn't heard that song in ages.
Ashton's face turned bright red and he shrugged. “I used to think you were a lot smarter than people thought you were, Jase, in that quirky, laid back sort of way. I'm glad you did well. I always knew you would.” He turned and smiled at Luis. “I've read quite a bit about Luis, too.” He pulled out a chair so Luis could sit down.
Luis smiled and sat down with everyone else. “I'm sure you have, Ashton. Just don't believe everything you read in the tabloids.” He knew Ashton was talking about all the things he must have read in tabloids. Luis had gotten himself accidentally involved in a weird ring of drug dealers who fronted their drug business by buying and then selling men's used underwear to older gay men. They were actually New York real estate agents who were down on their luck, and Luis had been their non-sexual male escort. At the time, he had no idea what they were doing. He thought he was selling them his used underwear as a kind gesture. Then, not long after that messy business, Luis had wound up in the middle of a scandal involving an underage pornographer and a psychopathic male nanny named Darius that had made all the tabloids as well. When the media found out Luis was Jase Nicholas's partner, they gave him even more attention. And the fact that Luis was a fairly well known male model who blogged openly about his gay lifestyle only made him more interesting. He wasn't one of those trashy celebrities who were in the tabloids all the time, but he'd had his fair share of unsolicited exposure since he'd met Jase.
When a drunken guy in a beige polyester suit walked up to the table a few minutes later, he put one hand on Jase's shoulder and the other on Ashton's, and said, “Well here they both are. The two most successful men in our class. The millionaire and the billionaire.”
Luis watched the way Jase and Ashton exchanged glances, as if they'd rather be two normal people that night. The drunk guy grabbed Jase and Ashton's arm and told him they were interviewing people down the hall in the old school radio station. He practically lifted them up out of their seats and dragged them out of the auditorium before they had a chance to decline.
Jase sent Luis a backward glance and said, “I'll be right back.”
Luis smiled. “Take your time. I'll be right here.” Where else could he go? He was stuck in the middle of what could have been his second worst nightmare; the worst would have been stuck in the middle of his own high school reunion.
When Kyle and Luis were alone, Kyle reached beneath the table and set his hand on Luis's knee. He sent Luis a sultry smile and licked his lips.
Kyle said, “I've seen you model underwear. Ashton has a few of the catalogues you're in. You look good. You've got a hot ass, baby. Really sweet.” Luis could smell the alcohol on his breath and they weren't even sitting closely.
Luis smiled. He had always regretted doing the underwear catalogue job. Ever since, strange men would recognize him from the underwear ads and feel as though they could say or do anything to him. He'd even been accosted by two harmless country boys in Amish Country once, thanks to these underwear ads, where the country boys pulled down Luis's pants and tickled him in the front seat of an old pick up truck until he laughed so hard it hurt.
Kyle's hand went up higher and he squeezed the inside of Luis's leg. “You look as hot in person as you do in the photos. Wanna go someplace while those two are gone? I've got some X in my pocket. You can show me your underwear in person tonight.”
Luis moved to the right and Kyle's hand slid off his leg. “Thank you. But I'd rather wait here for them.” He decided to ignore the pass and change the subject. There was no way he was going to do drugs at this point in his life. He'd managed to get through his teens and twenties without drugs; he'd get through the rest of it that way, too. “Have you and Ashton been together for a long time? Ashton seems like a nice guy.”