Age of Discovering

by Rick Beck

Chapter 16

City of Love

We were on the ground fairly fast once it was our turn to land. There was no doubt when the wheels hit the runway. After the initial screech from the tires making contact with terra firma, shudders and rattles followed as hard braking slowed us.

Once slowed, we taxied to the terminal and the flight attendants went about moving us off the plane.

It wasn't like at O'Hare with people being brusk and hurried. In Seattle there were smiles and the passengers were polite and orderly.

Following Glenn off the plane, once we were inside the terminal, the feeling of being closed in was gone as passengers went in all directions.

As I walked beside Glenn, I spotted a tall distinguished looking gentleman moving in our direction. What made him stand out was obvious. He wore canary yellow slacks and a baby blue dress shirt with a darker blue tie. We were on a collision course with the man.

Opening his arms, he swept Glenn up in them, once he met.

"Glenn, you are more handsome than ever. My, you look good for spending the day on planes."

"Hi, Preston," Glenn said casually. "This is my friend Gordon. Gordon, this is Mr. Hathaway. He'll be conducting tomorrow night. It's Preston's show."

"Wonderful to meet you, Gordon. Call me Press or Preston."

"Yes, sir," I said, shoving out my hand before he could get his arms around me.

"Did you have a pleasant trip? After we pick up your luggage, we'll get you to the hotel where you can relax. The hotel is ten minutes from my brother's. It's also close to the university where we play tomorrow evening. You might inquire about their music program. I know the professors in their music program."

"Yes, sir. I'm not ready to get too far ahead of what I'm doing right now. I still need to finish high school, Preston."

"Always good to have a plan, Glenn," he said.

We walked toward the baggage carousel.

"The flight was nice. Gordon hadn't flown before. I brought him along to keep me out of trouble. He's a musician, guitarist."

"Not an easy task, keeping this one out of mischief. My oh my, you're a man now. Every time we meet you seem older without giving up any of your boyish charm."

"That's a matter of opinion," Glenn said. "What did you do during the off season?"

"I wintered in the Mediterranean, but I've been looking forward to the first show in the new season. I'm anxious to hear you play, Glenn. I predict you will take Seattle's entertainment critics by storm. Is that a sore on the side of your face? How did you do that??"

I wanted to hear the answer to that question.

"I bumped it. I comb my hair to cover it. It's almost healed now," Glenn said.

"You are being careful with your hands. I'm sure you've been practicing your music. I was told you did well at your appearance with the local symphony."

"My mother's opinions might be a touch prejudiced by our previous relationship," Glenn said.

Preston laughed.

"This one is quite the show stopper when everyone gets out of his way. Have you heard him play, Gordon?"

"He's heard me, Preston. We've been going since early this morning and it's after eight where we come from."

Mr. Hathaway was old but not that old. He was handsome in a way men weren't handsome where I lived. He was impeccably dressed and he walked as if he might own the airport. He glowed with self-confidence as he walked in long strides, staying two steps ahead of us.

Without missing a beat we had our bags and were heading for the exit.

"How'd you clear security to meet us, Preston?" Glenn asked.

"Security? Oh, I have four dozen musicians due in tonight. Every one knows me. I told them I had to be there when my violinist came off the plane," Preston said. "They apparently thought no self respecting terrorist would dress the way I do. They let me pass."

"No mad bomber would spend a thousand dollars on a pair of shoes," Glenn said.

We laughed.

Mr. Hathaway took my bag for me. Glenn carried his suitcase and the garment bag. Did I have, 'helpless,' written on my forehead?

"This is what they provide for transportation when I come to town. The symphony board makes all the arrangements for the show. With my approval of course," Mr. Hathaway said with authority.

The limo was only a little shorter than the plane.

"Here, you get in the back," Mr. Hathaway said, opening the door for me.

He carried my bag around to the trunk where Glenn was depositing his suitcase and the garment bag with the driver helping him.

The driver was a middle aged man in a snappy looking uniform. He opened the door for Glenn and Mr. Hathaway to get in and then he closed it.

"Thank you, Leo," Mr. Hathaway said.

The back seat was big enough for a hot tub, a bar with a bartender, and still leave room for a three man band.

Why was there so much room in a car?

Leo was polite without acting subservient.

"We'll go to the hotel first. You can freshen up. Take a nap if you like. We're having a Welcome to Seattle reception at my brother's house later. I'll pick you up in plenty of time for us to be fashionably late. You'll meet some of my musicians. I only invite the people who know how to have fun. You know me, Glenn, I like people who know how to have a good time. His house is on Capitol Hill. It's a lovely area to have a home."

"I want Gordon to see the city. I'd like to take him to a nice restaurant. Don't want him to think we're on a working holiday," Glenn said.

"Won't be a problem. You'll have my driver. I'm staying at my brothers. Leo knows where everything is. He'll take you where you want to go and he'll go in with you to see that you're taken care of and aren't bothered with a check," Mr. Hathaway said. "Don't want you bothered with details I'll take care of."

"That sounds like a plan," Glenn said.

"I have a brunch set up for tomorrow afternoon. That way we eat several hours before the performance. By the time we go on tomorrow night, we aren't hungry or overly full. I've found we get our best performances that way," Mr. Hathaway said.

"We'll go directly to the auditorium from the restaurant. You will play just before intermission. I'll have your car waiting for you after you change. By that time you'll be ready for a good meal" he said. "Leo can take you anywhere you decide to eat. Tell him the kind of food you want, and he'll take you where they do it the best."

"Once I exit the stage, how long do I have before intermission?"

"No one will be back stage when you exit the stage. You'll be dressed and out of there by the time the orchestra secures their instruments and leaves the stage."

"Doesn't take me long to dress," Glenn said.

"No one expects you to hang around once you finish. There are a lot of people who are coming to hear the mysterious Glenn Denning play. On the marquee, you are featured with the Preston Hathaway Show. Once you play, it'll take a few minutes for the audience to realize what they've seen. I predict that Glenn Denning will be what every one wants to talk about at intermission."

"It sounds fine, Preston. I'll be glad when it's over."

"Somehow, the word has gotten out that Preston Hathaway has a prodigy on his hands. I can't figure out how the word has been spread all over town," he said, laughing loudly as if he knew exactly who was talking about Glenn. "You'll play. You'll disappear, and you'll be the talk of the Seattle Times Entertainment section Sunday, if I know anything about Seattle."

"You make it sound easy. I don't mind telling you, I'm a nervous wreck. What if I fuck up, Preston?"

"Rookie jitters, Glenn. Once that spot hits you, you'll have no doubt what to do and how to do it. The rest will be history," Preston predicted confidently.

"From your mouth to God's ears," Glenn said

"I believe it with my heart and soul. You, my young friend, are on your way. It's said, 'Preston Hathaway knows musical talent.' n fact, I say it all the time." he said. "Hard to hide the kind of talent you have, Glenn. I'm glad to have a hand in discovering you."

"I just want to play and get off that stage," Glenn said.

"After you play, I'll keep you a secret for a little while longer. Nothing like a mystery to create interest. Critics hate being in the dark about a hot new prospect. Throughout their loud protestations, my lips will remain sealed. You'll be home, finishing school, without the paparazzi on your tail."

"I want to play my violin and go," Glenn said.

"I can't get over how wonderful you look, Glenn," Preston said, finishing with another compliment. "You're eighteen next week. I can't believe the way time flies."

"Me either," I said, reminding them I was there.

Preston was polished. He handled Glenn skillfully. I could see the maestro knew more than music. He did what he could to make Glenn more relaxed.

If I faced what Glenn faced, I'd be a nervous wreck too.

The ride into Seattle went fast, very fast. The high speed lanes were wide open. The driver kept the pedal to the metal until the city was all around us when he turned off the Interstate onto surface streets in the heart of Seattle.

The city looked clean. Mt. Rainier stood above it to the east. It towered as a dramatic backdrop.

Driving on city streets seemed like we were crawling. In five minutes we were in front of the hotel.

"Here we are. I've already got your key, Glenn," Preston said. "There is room service for whatever you boys need. The reception is at my brother's on Capitol Hill. It's ten minutes from the hotel. It's the same distance to the university from your hotel, There will be food at my brother's but not a meal. Once you leave his house, you can go to dinner and then, Leo can show you the city."

"Sounds like a plan, Preston," Glenn said. "I want to stretch my legs right now. I've been sitting all day."

"Just a jacket and slacks. Most people there won't know who you are. Give me an hour at my brother's and then I'll cut you loose to entertain..., Gordon is it?"

"Yes, sir," I said.

"Just Preston, Gordon. No formalities among friends. I think of my musicians as my children, and their families are my families. Now go get some rest and relax. I'll be back for you in about three hours."

Luckily Preston stayed in the car. I was sure I could handle my suitcase. Of course the elevator made it a breeze.

Once in the elevator, Glenn pushed the top button and we were whisked upward.

The first thirty floors were below us in a flash. My stomach felt like it stayed in the lobby. The elevator slowed and stopped in no time and the doors opened.

"This must be the elevator for claustrophobic's," Glenn said.

There were only four doors on that floor. Glenn selected one, swiped his plastic key in the locking system and the door clicked. We walked into a hallway that led to what looked like a living room.

"What do you think?" Glenn asked, as he walked across the room. "Look at the view, Gordon. There's the Space Needle. You can see Puget Sound from here. Come look."

Glenn left his things on the couch and I put mine beside his. I joined him on the balcony.

"This is a view," he said.

Glenn put his hand on my shoulder once I stood beside him. We stayed close, taking in the view. There was no sign of Mt. Rainier and I figured we were facing west.

I heard street noise below us when I first went out on the balcony. I forgot about it once I looked at the scenery.

We stood above the city.

I'd never done much traveling but I saw how I could learn to like it.

Glenn leaned over the railing to look down at the street over thirty floors below.

I grabbed his belt and stayed a step back from the railing. I was not going to look down.

"I've been waiting for you to try to get into my pants," he said, after he stepped back from the brink.

He stood so our lips were close enough to kiss. So I kissed him.

There was a knock at the door.

Neither of us moved.

Glenn kissed me, looking into my eyes.

Another knock followed the first. We stayed put, held in place by our gaze.

"No telling who that is," Glenn said. "This suite is where Preston usually stays if he isn't staying with his brother."

'Lord, don't let it be Preston,' I prayed, wanting some private time with Glenn. It was a great room.

"Hey, Gordon, come look at this," Glenn said gleefully.

I went back into the sitting room. Glenn was standing in front of a table that had been wheeled into the room. It was filled with goodies. There was a vase of red roses at the center of the food. There was a fruit basket and a platter full of cheese Glenn was looking at. In a basket beside the platter were a variety of crackers.

Glenn took a piece of cheese and nibbled as he looked under another metal cover. I found cucumber slices, carrot sticks, celery, and broccoli crowns under another cover. At the center of that platter was a bowl of the creamiest onion dip. There was a basket with warm bread. There was butter and jam arranged on a plate beside the bread.

I hadn't been hungry until I saw the food.

There was enough cheese to feed the orchestra with plenty left for me to clip some to take home with me.

I could get to like this treatment but I'd weigh a ton.

"This is courtesy of the Symphony Board," Glenn said, pointing at the fruit basket. "Want a pear? They're perfect."

"This is from the administrator at Washington University. Where we play tomorrow night," he said.

He read the cards as he took them off the food.

"No wine," he said.

I laughed.

"The veggies and onion dip and the basket of bread are from the management and staff of the hotel."

Glenn handed me the cards to read.

"This is nice," I said. "Someone is glad you came."

It occurred to me,'This is the treatment a star gets.'

"If Preston wasn't staying at his brother's, he'd be staying in this suite. He mentioned it in case some strangers knocking on the door. This is the kind of greeting he gets everyplace he takes his show."

"I wouldn't be so sure, Sherlock," I said, handing him the cards with the back side up.

"Glenn Denning. Glenn Denning. Glenn Denning," he read, looking past me once he realized it was his spread.

"Welcome to the wonderful world of entertainment," I said. "It's only just begun."

"What do you know! It's for me," he said distantly.

"Welcome to Seattle, Glenn," I said, sealing it with a kiss.

"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" he sang, looking at the food.

"We haven't stopped eating since we left home," I said. "We have Preston's brother's in a few hours. You know they'll have food there."

Some how we ended up feeding each other cheese on crackers. Between crackers we kissed to make sure no cheese was left on our lips before we ate more.

"Man, this cheese is good," I said.

I suspected Glenn's lips had a lot to do with it.

"I've been to receptions before. Anything worth eating disappears fast. We won't get any serious food again until we check out of the reception. That's at least four hours. We can eat now and be hungry by that time."

He placed another cheese filled cracker on my tongue. I returned the favor, kissing him while he chewed.

"Ambrosia!" he said. "This is how to live."

Glenn's hand was in the small of my back as we continued to feed each other. I slid my free arm around his waist for leverage, and to keep him close to me.

Our bodies were so close I could feel the heat coming off him. It didn't take any conversation to melt together in a most comfortable way.

"Glad you came with me," he said. "You feel like a shower?"

"I showered before I left the house," I said.

"Me too," he said, brushing his face against mine. "But I showered alone. In the spirit of saving water, showering together would be the environmentally friendly thing to do. Seattle is extremely environmentally friendly."

"Not to mention the romantically friendly thing to do," I said.

I'd gotten on a plane thirty minutes away from Gravel Pit Heights and I left my life behind. I said goodbye to innocence. I left behind any idea I could face life alone and still be happy.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life but I knew who I wanted to do it with. Where ever Glenn and I were going, I was all in. There was no turning back now.

My childhood ended between home and Seattle. The fear I had of my self and of Glenn vanished. The Glenn I was beginning to know was the man I was in love with. I would love him for as long as fate allowed.

I saw no way around it. These were feelings I'd kept tamped down until now. It felt good being wanted but wanting Glenn made me feel more alive.

Allowing myself to feel sexual, while being so close to Glenn, was inescapable. It didn't hurt that his pants were tented out in his obvious seal of approval. My pants were tented too. Neither of us needed to wonder what was on the other's mind.

We were alone together and we could do anything we wanted. We stayed close, feeding each other goodies. We could have ripped our clothes off and gotten it over with but being close, feeding each other, was cool too.

"I want to lie down for a few minutes. We'll be out late tonight and I haven't slept much this week. I think I might be able to sleep a while before Preston shows up.

"Yeah, a nap might work," I said. "Nothing like a nap after flying three thousand miles and eating the whole way."

I followed him into the bedroom.

"I'll take the bed closest to the door," he said. "I don't like the light from the window keeping me awake."

By the time I was prepared to relax, he was peeling back the covers on his bed, and slipping onto the sheets. He'd laid his pants and shirt over the chair where he'd put his suitcase. I took off my pants and shirt and slid into my bed. It was a bit lonely and way far away from Glenn. The sheets were comfortably cool. When I closed my eyes, I felt like I was still moving.

I'd been worried about things moving too fast, but this was way too slow. At least I wanted some proof that he saw me as something other than the guy he brought to Seattle with him.

As I pondered a way for us to end up in the same bed that night, Glenn was thinking along the same lines.

"I'm lonely," he said. "Can we sleep in the same bed?"

"The sleep part is questionable," I said. "We do seem to be way far apart."

I slid into his bed on the opposite side from him.

At first he was on the other pillow. I could feel him breathe and the room had become way warmer. He stayed on his back for a long time. Not a word was spoken or a move was made.

"I'd like to cuddle with you if you're up for it," he said after a couple of minutes. "I don't want to rush you. It's nice spending time together."

"Cuddle?" I asked.

"Let me show you," he said.

He wrapped his arms around me and our skin touched in a most exciting way. He pulled me into his chest.

I was breathless.

"You're feeling romantic now?" I asked for clarification.

"Is the Pope Catholic?" he asked.

Each word caressing my ear.

Our lips did what lips do.

Taking a nap before the reception was a good idea. Doing it in the same bed with Glenn made it something entirely different. We were only interested in each other.

We'd been on the move since early that morning. Once I was in bed with Glenn, I didn't need to sleep.

A flood of feelings raced through me. Our lips met and I was introduced to our perfect passion. It was like the bed became the center of the universe.

Nothing existed beyond that Seattle hotel room.

I wanted to be as close to him as possible. Being in his arms created an overwhelming intimacy. I'd never been that close to any one. The word love came to mind.

I wasn't afraid of the word. I wasn't prepared for its intensity. As close as I was to Glenn, I wanted to meld into him in way that didn't allow us to separate.

I worried that Glenn expected me to be like his German friends. Instead, he held me closely, tenderly, gently.

We kissed more passionately as our bodies twisted and responded to each touch as though we'd never been touched before and might never be touched again.

It was a hunger that couldn't be quelled. It was a driving force that grew and became stronger.

There was no beginning, no end, only love.

The idea of the phone ringing or Preston strolling through the door to get us ready for what came next, made me apprehensive.

We'd gone from a little bit of hand holding to being in bed together. Did I want to risk getting something started only to have Preston walk in on us? Would he do that? I didn't have an answer but I wanted to be realistic.

We both knew what would face us when we got to Seattle. I didn't expect to be in Glenn's bed a few minutes after we got to the hotel but that's where I was. Not that there was anything wrong with that. It felt very right.

Thinking about what would happen wasn't anything like what happened. There was no awkwardness, no over thinking the idea. There was only desire. As soon as the subject came up, I jumped into Glenn's bed.

I doubted Preston would walk in on us. If he did he'd see me in a situation I'd never been in before. Did I care?

Being in Glenn's arms calmed me while exciting me at the same time. When he kissed my cheek and nibbled at my ear, I swooned.

I moved in a way that put our lips face to face. I'd just told Glenn all he needed to know about being close to him, about being held by him. I'd just turned up the heat.

The kiss born of that motion was all consuming. Preston be damned. I was in love and there was no turning back now. The longer the kiss, the more enraptured I became.

My mind went blank and my body tingled. Everywhere he touched me became super sensitive. He knew how to light my fire or he was good at guessing.

I was in his arms and he was in mine. The kiss melted into more kisses, caressing, and a slow undulation that rocked my world. Even keeping our underwear on, the super heated excitement went further than any sensations I'd had.

I didn't know you could feel as good as I felt. The closeness I felt for Glenn went beyond the physical. It went beyond my expectations.

If I thought i might be able to live without love, I knew better now.

Being in bed with the guy I loved was all expanding. No experience could compared to this one.

His body was firm. His skin was soft. We ground together, kissing and caressing. I matched his passion with a splendid passion of my own.

"You OK?" he asked, panting the words, pulling me closer.

"OK? I'm fantastic."

"You telling me," he said.

"You want to stop? Say so. It's OK. We don't need to do everything now. I never thought we'd go this far. You make me happy we did. I can't express how awesome you make me feel, Gordon. I've never felt like this before."

Our words mingled with our kisses as the pace slowed for only a minute. Each kiss led to another kiss.

We merged into a raging river of passion.

Seattle was definitely the city of Love.

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