players only. backdated to March 2016, a few weeks after Luke's piercings became infected.
"What about, um, Magritte?" Alex suggests, shuffling through a pile of papers. "I met her, but only just to say hi. She seemed nice, though. She's got experience, she's got grandchildren... I guess maybe that might worry me, a little. Just thinking that she might not want to spend so much time traveling because she'll miss her own family." He and Luke each have people coordinating the various details of their careers, but neither of them is an 'entourage' kind of person. Hiring a household staff of live-in nannies for the twins is proving a much bigger challenge than he'd anticipated.
"I think she might also be too old to keep up with the babies once they start walking," Luke points out. "I don't want us to have to keep replacing people. I'd like someone who could be with us for a long time."
"Yeah, anything to not have to worry about this again." Alex kicks his chair back to balance on two legs, and selects another page. "Marisol. She's 28, she has experience taking care of twins, and she wants to travel. That could work." He shrugs and hands the employment profile to his husband, complete with accompanying selfie.
Luke takes a look at the picture, noting the long dark brown hair, the big eyes and pouty mouth, and raises an eyebrow at Alex. "Really?" He hadn't been there for that interview but god knows he's heard enough nanny horror stories to be more than a little reluctant to hire someone who looks like Marisol.
"Yeah, if she knows what she's doing. She should certainly be able to keep up. Good stamina. Oh," Alex says, a thought occurring to him. "Does it matter if they can cook? Once the twins start moving towards real food, do you think they should eat only fresh-made stuff, instead of from jars and boxes and things?" The criticisms and judgments of the so-called 'Mommy Wars' are already getting under his skin.
"I'd prefer someone who can cook," Luke says, putting Marisol's papers aside for now. "They don't always have to make everything from scratch but it would be nice if they knew their way around the kitchen." He looks at the stack of papers in front of Alex. "Who else do we have?"
"Let's see. Petra, Edo, Guinevere – wait, do people seriously name their kids that?" As Alex works his way through the stack, he lays each profile and picture on the table for Luke to evaluate. "Okay, here: Elijah, mid-thirties, comes highly recommended... He used to nanny for Helen McCrory and her husband. That guy from Homeland. You've met her, right?" He glances up at his lover. "Maybe if you want, you could get an unbiased opinion directly from her."
Luke picks up Elijah's papers, taking a look at the photo attached to the front. Nice-looking with a warm smile but definitely not hot and a good fifteen years of experience with children under his belt. And a five-year Citadel membership. Hah. And straight. Elijah's only getting better as far as Luke's concerned. "I could give her a call. It says he cooks and he's happy to travel."
"All right, so we know there's definitely something wrong with him, because he sounds like too good of a fit," Alex cracks. "Let me know what Helen says. I'll try to set up an interview for all of us to meet. I need to see him – anyone – with the babies before I can think about making a decision."
Luke laughs. "Let me see the others," he says, looking through the women. "She likes to cook and travel as well," he points out, holding up Petra's file. And she's attractive but again, not hot and definitely giving off any 'I want to steal your husband vibes'. At least not in the picture they've been given. "I'll call Helen and then we'll interview them both. Does that work?"
"Yeah, okay." Sitting back up, Alex folds his arms on the table. "How are things going with your new trainer? What's his name, Raleigh or something?" The huge bear of a man whom Luke has, of necessity, been spending hours with nearly every day as he prepares for his next physically-demanding role.
Luke nods. "He's good. Really puts me through my paces."
Alex nods confirmation of this. "Do you two talk much? What's his personality like?" Does he make you laugh? he wonders.
"Big and boisterous," Luke says with a smile, still making sure he hasn't missed anything about the candidates they were sent, each file put in either a no or a check-out-further pile, just in case the first two don't work out. "Like him." He sighs. "He likes to flirt a lot, actually," he admits, because to keep that from Alex, especially now, when he's being asked point blank about the man, he'd feel like he was lying and he's always sworn to be 100% honest with his husband. "But it's harmless and I just don't react and get on with things."
It's exactly what Alex was most worried his husband might say. And hell, if he didn't already have his own suspicions then he wouldn't have asked. "He touches you, when you work together. I get that," he says quietly, managing for the moment to push horrors from his mind. "Does he ever press his advantage? Cross the line, even a little?"
Luke looks up from the papers. "No, and if he did, I'd let him know it wasn't acceptable," he says just as quietly.
His jaw tight as a strung bow, Alex considers that. He believes Luke, knows he's as good as his word. Furthermore, he trusts his husband – implicitly. His problem is with the other guy. "He's not Citadel-affiliated, is he? The studio hired him?"
Luke nods, unsure of Alex's reaction. "I'm sure he wouldn't be flirting with me if he was Cit."
"Right." It's a hidden disadvantage of keeping their lifestyle on the sly: if the person knew a thing about D/s, then Alex would never have to go explain it to him. Luke's collar would be understood as a concrete symbol of that claim. And if understood but not accepted, then Alex would have no qualms about beating the shit out of him. Okay, maybe a few qualms.
A couple, at least. "He shouldn't be flirting with you anyway. He knows you're married."
"He does, and I talk about you," Luke says, "but you know what a lot of marriages are like in Hollywood." He shrugs. "I'm not sure he really means anything by it. Obviously he likes me and I'm sure if I was interested he'd follow through but he's not pushing things, he hasn't said or done anything outright inappropriate and I like him, he's a good trainer. I'd rather give him a pass until he does step over the line."
Alex studies his lover's face. "You mean if."
"Of course," Luke says, then adds, with a small smile, "You could always come pick me up from the gym. Show him first-hand how solid our marriage is."
After considering the suggestion for a long moment, Alex slowly shrugs. "I don't know. Do you think that'll be subtle enough?" Because he is all about subtlety, yes. He grins. "Of course. I'll need to get a babysitter, but... Yeah. I miss getting to visit you at work."
"I miss it too," Luke agrees softly. "Maybe it can happen more once we get a nanny in place."
"Once we get two or three nannies in place..." Alex blows out a breath and tries to shake the uncomfortable topic from his shoulders. "Okay. We can do this. We are two grown, capable men, and we can absolutely handle our babies without 24/7 assistance." He peers at Luke. "Do I sound convincing yet?"
Luke laughs. "We've done well so far," he says, leaning in to give Alex a kiss.
"Yes. Thank heavens they still stay where we put them. Once they start crawling... Oh hey, have you ever seen those toddler leashes? Like, with the little backpacks? I meant to ask because I saw a kid on one in an airport a couple months ago. I kept waiting for him to stretch the cord to its limit and then, like, bungee back to his mom."
Luke laughs even harder. "We're not putting the twins in those," he warns. "They're children, not dogs."
"You," Alex says, pointing at his husband, "drive a hard bargain. Okay," he sighs heavily. "No bungee babies. Happy?" He leans across the table to kiss Luke again.
"Happy, very happy." Luke grins, glancing at his watch. "But we might have time for you to make me even happier," he adds, grin widening.
That wicked sparkle in his lover's eye always gets to Alex. "Let me think about it," he says, taking Luke's hand and getting to his feet. Then he pauses. "But, I'm serious. If that guy makes himself a pest or if he doesn't respect your boundaries, then I reserve the right to break him into pieces." Although, considering that said physical trainer is built like a wrestler – a tall one, at that – Alex isn't certain who'd win that fight.
"You don't trust me to take care of it myself?" Luke asks, smiling up at his husband.
"No, I do trust you. I'm just saying I reserve the right, just in case." Alex rolls his eyes, and gives up on attempting to sound like a rational person. Because he's simply not, when it comes to his family. "Okay, fine – I call dibs. So let it be written, so let it be done. I am calling dibs on beating the crap out of that asshole if he keeps getting fresh with my husband."
"Okay. You've got dibs," Luke agrees after a moment's thought, confident it will never get to that point.
It's the most effective way to handle Alex: back up, let him flash his colors like a wild animal that's been threatened, and model calmness throughout. After four years together, Luke does it like a pro, and most of the time Alex isn't even aware that he's just been handled. He exhales on a rush now, stiffness bleeding from his shoulders, and nods. "All right. Good. I just need to know that we're on the same page with that."
"We are," Luke promises, wrapping an arm around Alex's neck and pulling him down for another kiss.
"Good," Alex repeats. He smiles against his husband's lips. "Let's go back to bed while we still can. I'll get to work on that 'happiness' thing you mentioned."