Age of Discovering

by Rick Beck

Chapter 17

Getting Ready

I didn't want to let go of Glenn, but it wouldn't be long before we'd need to be ready to go out.

If Glenn was going to make the most of the weekend, he needed to be on his game throughout. It wasn't about having a good time or falling in love. It was about Glenn's future. As bright as I thought it was, the work of becoming recognized as an outstanding musician had to be done.

His hands moved over my chest before he pulled me closer. I went with the flow, knowing we'd be getting up soon. If I had to make the decision to get up, we'd be there until the cows came home. Are cows afraid of heights?

Glenn's skin was ablaze. Feeling his chest pressing against mine gave me new appreciation for his gymnast's body. His body was firm but his skin was soft and smooth.

I was made dizzy by our closeness. So many thoughts were going through my brain, I was unable to gather a single intelligent sentence. I felt content and very alive.

"Are you OK?" Glenn asked, after a long silence.

"I don't know. I've never felt this way before."

"I feel that way too," he said. "I feel lucky you came with me. I didn't know how to ask you. I thought you might laugh at me. I wasn't sure I could get beyond my adolescent behavior around you. It wasn't easy acting my age. I don't do that much."

"How was I to know you were serious? You didn't seem to be serious about much. You were being a butt head about me running out of gas," I said. "That's when you decide to ask me to come with you on this trip."

"Gordon, I knew I liked you the first time I saw you. Once I knew you were OK, I decided to ask you to come with me. I wasn't sure how to go about asking you, until after our great adventure. Once we got gas, I figured I needed to go for it before anything else happened."

"Which reminds me, I don't want Preston to walk in on us. I would be totally uncomfortable if that happened."

"No! That wouldn't be cool. I'm sure Preston will call before he comes up. He won't want to sit around waiting for us to get ready. He has musicians coming in and he needs to make sure they get settled."

"That makes sense," I said.

"Did I tell you that you take my breath away?" he asked.

"I don't mind you repeating yourself," I said.

I'd just had my first intense romantic interlude. I was looking forward to the next time.

My first time had been with someone I'd fallen in love with. I wasn't in a rush but when I was with Glenn, slow wasn't the way we approached love.

I kissed his bare chest and then his neck.

"You absolutely take my breath away," he said in a sigh.

"Maybe we ought to get a shower and cool off. We've got all weekend to explore each other's body. We just don't have long at the moment. Preston will be here within the next hour and I should be and smell presentable."

"Yes, you should," I said. "Take it from someone who has recently been close to you, you smell wonderful."

He laughed.

I let Glenn shower first. Showering separately seemed like a good idea if we wanted to be ready in time. Going to neutral corners wasn't easy but it was necessary.

He came out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist and he was drying his hair with another towel.

He was gorgeous.

"Your turn," he said, grabbing me and kissing me as I went past him. "That'll have to hold you until after the reception. I'll trust you to remember where we left off."

I kissed his cheek and headed for my shower.

"I'll be waiting for you when you get done," he said.

"Promises, promises," I said.

A cool shower did help to turn down my thermostat. I forgot to get a fresh pair of underwear and I brushed my hair back before leaving the bathroom.

Glenn was on his bed still in his towel. He was sound asleep and looking angelic. His body was totally relaxed. I carefully curled up beside him, wrapping my arms around him. I'd only stay there for a minute before I got up and dressed for the reception.

Preston's phone call woke us up. I heard the phone ringing and I knew my mother would get it.

She didn't. When I became aware of where I was, I was glad she didn't.

After five rings, Glenn fumbled for his phone.

"Hello. Yes, I'm awake. A half an hour. Right. Yeah, no problem. We'll be ready."

Glenn fumbled his phone back onto the nightstand.

"We have a half an hour before Preston arrives."

I watched Glenn get out of bed. We'd been in bed together twice since arriving in Seattle.

Brushing my teeth, I watched Glenn through the mirror. He stood behind me brushing his hair. He pushed the front of his towel against the back of mine. I could feel his towel's rigid contents pressed into the crack of my butt inside my towel.

After he finished brushing his hair, he watched me brushing my teeth in the mirror and our eyes met.

Smiling, he kissed the back of my neck.

My knees weakened as he put one hand on the upper part of my butt, kissing my neck, his eyes searched the mirror for mine.

With a mouthful of toothpaste I couldn't do what I wanted to do. I spit the toothpaste out and took enough water to rinse my mouth and I turned, planting my best kiss on him.

I was immediately lost in the spell he'd cast over me.

"I don't talk too much when I first wake up," he said. "Takes my brain time to find its way out of the fog. I wish we didn't have to go to this thing. I wish we could stay here and be together," he said in a wistful way.

"We wouldn't be here if you didn't need to be here. People want a peek at Preston's prodigy," I said.

"Don't think I don't realize that. Let's don't start something we can't finish," Glenn said, after kissing me one more time.

The swelling in his towel pushed against the swelling in mine. The back of my towel pressed hard against the sink.

With my arms around his neck and our bodies pressed together, I let my lips brush his luscious lips.

He hugged me close. An incredible warmth gave me a wonderful feeling of security. I held on tight.

I felt so lightheaded I was sure if I let go, I'd float out of that hotel room and disappear into Seattle's night sky.

We were still primping when Preston came to the room fifteen minutes later. We were almost ready. We'd done everything but finish kissing and it was hard to keep our lips together while dressing. Even thoughts of one more kiss left us once Preston arrived.

I watched Preston dip a cracker into the creamy cheese on the table in the sitting room. He seemed to savor the flavor as he chewed. When he opened his eyes, I smiled and he nodded. He took another cracker and did it again.

I tried to hide being enamored with Glenn but Preston seemed to sense we shared a closeness he didn't ask about. Preston was from an entirely different world from the one I knew. My ideas were uneducated guessing coming from limited experience. I did wonder how he got to be Preston Hathaway.

Preston was smooth, never pushy. I decided this was the temperament of a successful artist. His art was his ability to recognize talent and present it in a unique show of his own creation.

Preston had a natural gentleness about him. He spoke softly but firmly. He treated Glenn in a manner inconsistent with how men treated teens where I was from. He was refined in a way men from my world weren't.

All his words fit. Some were suggestive without suggesting anything. Glenn was like the son he took from time to time. He more spoiled than fathered Glenn.

The reception was meant to expose Glenn to the right people. As of yet, no one in Seattle had heard him play.

Preston would introduce Glenn as one of his violinists. The talk about a violin prodigy was in the air. People would be allowed to wonder if it might be Glenn.

Preston intended to let things unfold from there. Once Glenn played tomorrow night and everyone would know he was the violin prodigy.

Glenn would change clothes and slip away in the Seattle night. He'd be available to no one but Preston, and me of course. When Glenn disappeared I'd disappear with him. That's the part I liked the most.

Preston's symphony orchestra playing a town was one of the highlights of the year's social calendar. He made certain he didn't play the same town twice in a year except on special occasions. He'd said they'd return to Seattle for their Christmas show this year.

On this visit Preston intended to create a mystery around Glenn. He'd be the talk of the town, or at least the talk in the music circles. This meant Glenn would be in demand and unavailable, which would add to the mystery.

When no one could find out where Glenn was from or where he went to, the mystery would be enhanced.

Preston would be all smiles and closed lip while entertainment aficionado grilled him about his violin prodigy.

This is more or less how Preston explained what was happening and what he had planned. The man made it sound like a marvelous game we were playing.

It all depended on Glenn. He had to perform up to expectations for Preston to sell the spell he was weaving around him.

"Once Glenn has played, his disappearance simply adds to the mystery. You boys slip out of town unnoticed. To be sure of it, I've devised a clean getaway for you."

As Glenn shifted from foot to foot, he said, "The sooner we go the sooner we can split, Preston."

"Yes, splitting is the part you like best," Preston said.

"I play the violin. I don't mind playing. After I play, I want to have a life, Preston."

"These details are supposed to assure that life can be the best it can possibly be," Preston said.

"We can talk in the car," Glenn said. "Let's go."

I imagined a refined man would treat his son the way Preston treated Glenn. Preston fussed over him without making a nuisance of himself.

Preston intended to protect his prodigy. Glenn didn't mind being treated like he was a star but he wouldn't allow himself to be smothered.

I realized this and the way Preston treated Glenn told me he knew it as well.

Capitol Hill was a ten minute ride. We could have walked on that clear pleasant night, but I think arriving was meant to be part of the show..

The limo moved slowly. There was no rush. I looked out at the confluence of homes and businesses we passed.

Preston decided this was the time to talk turkey.

"We need to talk over your contract, Glenn," was Preston's opening line. "The time we have to do that is limited."

"Later, Preston. I've got to play. I can't think about the rest of my life at the moment. After I'm eighteen. I think that gives us plenty of time."

"Yes, plenty of time, but I'm anxious to lock you up for a couple of years, while you're still growing as an artist, and while I can still afford you. Keeping you mysterious for the time being will make for bigger paydays later on. I know my way around show business. I know you are going to cause a stir. I want it to be my stir and not someone else's."

"Fine, Preston. Just not now. One thing at a time. We can do this after I play."

"OK. You're the boss," Preston said. "I want to get in front of other offers that are going to come your way."

"It's beautiful here," I said.

"Shh! We have everyone convinced it rains all the time. Don't tell anyone it doesn't. It's our little secret."

"Oh, I won't. Maybe my parents," I said.

No one laughed.

Glenn was suddenly serious. I guess I would be too if I faced what he faced and he was about to get a sample of what his life would be like after he became well known.

Preston wanted to allow Glenn to go back to his life as a student. He was still in school and living at home. I could see how Preston might have influence on Glenn's mother.

Preston Hathaway indulged Glenn. Had he not been a middle aged man, I'd probably have gotten jealous. Glenn didn't seem to buy into Preston's concern about his future. Glenn regarded Saturday night's performance as just another appearance where he played the violin. How could he see it any other way. He was new on the scene.

This could have been Glenn's way of dealing with his present status. Everyone was impressed after hearing Glenn play. Right now, all these people had was Preston's word that 'Glenn was special,' which is why he was featured with the Preston Hathaway Show. People knew what that meant.

Glenn didn't believe the hype was necessary but he went along for the sake of his future. He couldn't afford not to take it seriously.

As Preston nibbled on a piece of cheese he'd carried with him from our room, he gave us some final instructions.

"By the way, if you need anything from room service, ask for Tony. Cheeseburgers, pizza, or a bottle of wine. He'll bring it to you and he knows how to bill it," Preston said. "This car and Leo will be yours tonight, once you leave the reception. Tomorrow night, after you perform, Leo will take you where you want to go to eat. I'll give you some cash. I haven't secured it yet. I'll take it out of the $5,000 we agreed upon for tomorrow night. Leo will be waiting when you leave the auditorium tomorrow night"

Preston was quiet for a minute, trying to remember everything he wanted to say. It felt a little like being caught up in a whirlwind.

"Tonight you will meet several very influential musical entrepreneurs. I'll keep an eye on you so you don't get cornered by one of the sharks. Be polite, brief in your answers to questions, and remember they are suspicious about who Glenn Denning is. Your job isn't to furnish any answers beyond name, rank, and serial number."

I laughed.

"We won't have an opportunity to talk again tonight but we will have time tomorrow afternoon. I arrange a brunch in the late afternoon before a show. Eating several hours before a performance assures no one is hungry or too full when it's time to play."

"I can do that and you've explained what my role is tonight. I make small talk, smile a lot, and tell them nothing about who I am or where I'm from. I do understand this weekend can make or break my career," Glenn said.

"Make you more than break you. Make your journey easier. My musicians will be hearing you for the first time too. That will be a big deal for them as well as for you."

Glenn listened like he hadn't thought of that before.

"I'd suggest you run future plans to play for someone else by me before you sign anything. I'd consider that a professional courtesy. I won't want any conflicts with dates I plan to use you for one of my shows. I'll naturally outbid any competition for one of those dates. You do know I regard you as more than a hot talent I hire, Glenn?" Preston said. "This is the beginning of our touring season. In the next week or two I'll firm up our show dates and let you know which ones I want you for this year. We'll finish our performing season in Seattle at Christmas and San Francisco at New Years. I will want you for both of those shows."

"Good grief, Preston. I'm not Yehudi Menuhin. We can talk contract once I go home. I'm not planning to accept any dates you don't arrange for me. Quit acting like I might pick your pocket. I play for you because you treat me with respect. Now I don't want to talk contract until after tomorrow night's performance. After that's over, I'll be in a far better frame of mind. This is too much right now."

Preston sat back. He seemed satisfied.

"You look very nice, Gordon," Preston said, looking at me as I faced him and Glenn. "Don't let this intimidate you. These are simply people flush with cash. They take a crap and fart just like you and me. They only pretend they don't," Preston said.

I laughed. The words crap and fart weren't words I expected to come from Preston. Maybe there was a time when Preston wasn't rich and famous.

"As long as I'm with Glenn, I'll be OK," I said.

"This can be an elegant, intoxicating world, especially when everyone is gathered around a handsome young man like Glenn. They don't know a thing about him. They know all about me. When I brag about a new talent, they sit up and take notice. I'm not known to exaggerate about talent. Because all they know about Glenn is his name and that I'm featuring him for tomorrow night's show, they're all a flutter, hoping to be the first to know more."

"We don't want to hang around your brother's any longer then necessary. I want Gordon to see Seattle. I hope we'll have time to do that tonight, Preston."

"Give me an hour. Then I'll send you on your way. Tonight is meant to give people from the local music scene the first glimpse of Glenn Denning. After you play tomorrow night, they'll remember you."

"I can do that," Glenn said.

"I'm on vacation once I leave Seattle Sunday. Everyone will want to talk to me about Glenn Denning. I know the routine. I know how to make the most of a mystery. The orchestra's manager will say, 'Mr. Hathaway is on vacation. He'll be unavailable for comment until his return.'"

"That sounds good to me. I'll smile a lot tonight and say as little as possible without sounding rude," Glenn said.

"Good. It won't be as stuffy as you think. I've invited people who are the most fun. My brother invited people from the local music scene," Preston said, looking out at the storefronts we passed.

Preston moved over to unbuttoned two buttons at the top of Glenn's shirt.

"There! Mysterious and a little provocative. Use all the tools in your toolbox. This is where you want to show off."

"Where'd you get those shoes? We'll need to do something about those."

"You bought them for me," Glenn reminded him. "Before I played in front of those people back home. You didn't like the pair I had on then either."

"They're old. You're new. You need new. I'll get you a new pair and have them shined so they sparkle. Like you'll sparkle tomorrow evening."

"I'm nervous enough, Preston. Cut it out," Glenn said.

"I do envy you, Glenn. You are at the beginning of your career. The stars will all shine for you soon."

"You're making me nervous," Glenn said. "Cut it out."

"You want a pair like those? Nine and a half as I recall. Is there a style you've seen that you'd like to have?"

"Yes, these. They're comfortable. I can slip right into and out of them."

"I have eleven pair," Preston bragged. "I thin them out each time I buy a new pair. I think eleven pair is about right. You can tell a lot about a man by his footwear."

"I have a pair of three year old tennis shoes I'll give you to add to your collection," Glenn said.

"I'll get you a pair of those expensive ones. You shouldn't be mucking about in worn out tennis shoes," Preston said. "You could break your ankle."

"Or fall off his bike," I added for effect.

"See, even Gordon knows what I'm talking about. I'll get you a nice pair. We'll call it a birthday present. I'll be in Palm Beach on your birthday."

"Every time I see you, you spend money on me, Preston. You don't need to do that."

"Yes, I do. I like being generous. Besides, it's all a write-off. I get to spoil you a little and it's all deductible. Business is tricky that way. Before long you'll have enough money you won't need my paltry gifts."

"Yes, you've told me that before too. I don't want you buying me everything," Glenn said. "I live in the real world, Preston. Where people don't buy other people shoes. The only time I look at shoes is when I go to buy a pair."

"I know. I know. Gordon, you look very nice. I love that shirt. We'll have your shoes shined for tomorrow night. Did you bring a jacket? You'll be backstage in the wings but you'll want to look nice. It will be an upscale audience."

"Yes, sir. Glenn picked out what I should bring. This is his shirt," I said.

"Of course it is. It looks just like him. He has good taste but not the pocketbook to make good use of it. We'll begin to remedy that this year. I've got several dates in mind for him. After tomorrow night, I won't be able to get him for twice what I'm paying him this time. He's going places. He's about to become expensive merchandise. That is what this weekend is all about."

"Preston!" Glenn protested. "Let's finish this gig before you buy me a star for the sidewalk in Hollywood."

"One day. Can't be avoided. You have the gift and one day I'll say, 'I knew him when.'"

"I just want to make through tomorrow night without making a fool out of myself," Glenn said.

"I understand. You need to get a big time performance under your belt. Then you'll realize you can do it."

"Gordon's my friend. He doesn't need to know my business," Glenn said. "I didn't ask for all that money in the first place. Don't expect me to turn it down, Preston. I might be nervous but I'm not a fool."

"You have value, Glenn. Can't be denied. I'll have an agent look over whatever deals come your way, and they'll come. I'll protect you from everyone but me. There are sharks out there, young Glenn. Luckily I'm trustworthy with a heart of gold. I will look after you, but always get an outside third party opinion to be sure."

"All you need to do is ask me to play, Preston. I'll be there. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you. I know that. No one knows me from Adam. Why would I leave the guy who is giving me my shot. I wouldn't and I won't. Money is a medium of exchange. It's nice to have, but my life isn't about money. Let me get this done. OK?"

"Tomorrow night you'll be the talk of the town and you'll begin to see your future. That's why I want you boys out of reach before the papers hit the newsstands. I know how to handle what's coming. At intermission tomorrow, you'll leave the insanity behind. I can only make this play once, but it will allow you to go home and finish school. The next time you play for me, well, I won't describe what's going to happen. You just do what I say and we'll put the circus aspect off for the time being."

"We skedaddle at half-time," I said.

"My word! Perish the thought. The symphony culture does not skedaddle. They may make an elegant dash for the door under certain circumstances," Preston said in a high brow voice.

I laughed and Preston smiled at me getting his joke.

"Shortly after midnight you'll be able to read the review on the show in the early edition of the Sunday papers. I'll have copies delivered to your room if it's what we expect. In the case it isn't what we expect, I'll bring the papers to your room."

"By the way, what'll stop these sharks from tracking me down if they think I can make them a bundle of cash?"

"Ah, that's why the name change. It isn't my first time at the rodeo. I'm pretty sure the arrangements are disguised in such a way to keep your true identity secret. Even if they pore over arrivals and departures from SeaTac, nothing ties you to me and that makes you a mystery. I do love a mystery, don't you?" Preston mused.

"You'll slip out of town with no one being able to track you. To be sure, Leo will meet you in the alley behind the hotel on Sunday to take you to the airport. You don't have that much to carry and the rear entrance is next to the stairway. Take the elevator to the second floor, get off and go down to the first floor and out the rear entrance. Believe me when I say, no one will be in the alley looking for a violin prodigy," Preston said with a smile.

"No one will figure that one out Preston. I'm not sure I will," Glenn said.

"It's most likely an unnecessary dodge, but someone may have found what they think is your hotel and be keeping an eye on it. We plan to outsmart the best of the snoops," Preston said. "I spread my people around in three or four hotels to make the target larger. I do love the game and I'm good at it."

With a dozen limos parked on the street in front of his brother's house, one more hardly stood out.

"Your life goes back to normal and you return to school without anyone being the wiser if you don't do something silly like get arrested. I'll remind you to keep a low profile."

"That makes sense," Glenn said. "I don't want my family bothered by this insanity. I do not want strange people showing up at my door."

"I'm not without influence, Glenn. The force is with me and I'm watching over you. You shan't be bothered," Preston said.

"Your audience awaits your arrival."

We sat in the car in front of the stairs leading to Preston's brother's front door.

"Be on your good behavior. Nothing suggestive, you two. I trust you're smart enough to know careers are made and broken on perception. Glenn is a squeaky clean young man with a golden violin. No one need know anything else. No one needs to even suspect anything else," Preston said.

"There will be a few musicians here but mostly these are behind the scenes people."

"You've told me all this, Preston. Let's get it over with."

"Are you sure you're ready?"

"Sure," Glenn said, less than excited.

"Then we shall go," Preston said, stepping out of the car and held the door for us.

Glenn turned his head to kiss my cheek before he stepped out. I'm sure I blushed. Preston was looking directly at us.

Shaking his head, Glenn was sending Preston a message. Glenn intended to be Glenn.

Preston tapped the roof twice and the limo pulled away, disappearing down the circular driveway to join the line of limos on the street.

It was a nice house.

It was a big house.

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