We stood by the campsite that had been laid for us, a small fire and pavilion. “Is all well here?” Odysseus had come to stand with us.
“Very well,” Achilles said. He smiled, his easy smile, his honest one. “Thank you.”
Odysseus smiled in return, teeth white against his dark beard. “Excellent. One tent’s enough, I hope? I’ve heard that you prefer to share. Rooms and bedrolls both, they say.”
Heat and shock rushed through my face. Beside me, I heard Achilles’ breath stop.
“Come now, there’s no need for shame—it’s a common enough thing among boys.” He scratched his jaw, contemplated. “Though you’re not really boys any longer. How old are you?”
“It’s not true,” I said. The blood in my face fired my voice. It rang loudly down the beach.
Odysseus raised an eyebrow. “True is what men believe, and they believe this of you. But perhaps they are mistaken. If the rumor concerns you, then leave it behind when you sail to war.”
Achilles’ voice was tight and angry. “It is no business of yours, Prince of Ithaca.”
Odysseus held up his hands. “My apologies if I have offended. I merely came to wish you both good night and ensure that all was satisfactory. Prince Achilles. Patroclus.” He inclined his head and turned back to his own tent.
Inside the tent there was quietness between us. I had wondered when this would come. As Odysseus said, many boys took each other for lovers. But such things were given up as they grew older, unless it was with slaves or hired boys. Our men liked conquest; they did not trust a man who was conquered himself.
Do not disgrace him, the goddess had said. And this is some of what she had meant.
“Perhaps he is right,” I said.
Achilles’ head came up, frowning. “You do not think that.”
“I do not mean—” I twisted my fingers. “I would still be with you. But I could sleep outside, so it would not be so obvious. I do not need to attend your councils. I—”
“No. The Phthians will not care. And the others can talk all they like. I will still be Aristos Achaion.” Best of the Greeks.
“Your honor could be darkened by it.”
“Then it is darkened.” His jaw shot forward, stubborn. “They are fools if they let my glory rise or fall on this.”
His eyes, green as spring leaves, met mine. “Patroclus. I have given enough to them. I will not give them this.”
After that, there was nothing more to say.
For the next few days, we merely spend them together. Armie and I focused on each other. We went to a few art galleries and the movies and drove to the beach once. On Thursday, while at dinner, he bumped into someone he knew, a broad man with a dark beard. He looked at least 10 years older than Armie. I watched as they slapped each other on the back in a very friendly way. They seemed like old friends.
“This is boyfriend, Timothée,” Armie said after they had said hello. “Timothée, this is O.”
“O?” I asked with a confused smile.
“My name is long and boring and you don’t want to say it,” he said with a loud laugh. “Listen, why don’t you both come by Friday? It’s Penelope’s birthday and the party will go on all night. It’ll be at our home in Malibu.”
“Yeah! Sounds like fun!” Armie replied, looking excited about it. When O looked at me I grinned back and nodded trying to look as equally excited as Armie.
“Perfect!” He said. “See you then.” And with that he was gone.
“You’re good friends?” I asked.
“He’s a business men with deep pockets and appreciated arts. He’s very well connected. He’s the type of person I want to keep on my good side, not necessary because I like him,” Armie explained. I nodded. “Anyway, he does throw a good party. I think we should go. I’m sure there will be some important people there I could network with. You know social gatherings can be so much more in my line of work.”
“Yes, of course,” I said and leaned in and kissed him.
The following day, we left Armie’s home at around six in the evening. Armie looked amazing in blue pants, a gray polo and white leather sneakers. I was in jeans with a purple tee shirt and converse. We reached O’s home as the sun was setting. The mansion was huge and decorated for the party. There were string lights and loud music and tons of people. So many people. Armie took my hand and we went inside. I looked around. It was dizzying to see how many people were there and the noise of everything. It was obvious though, people were having a good time.
There were men in suits and some just with swimming trunks. Some women had flashy, slinky gowns and some were in skimpy bikinis. Everyone stared at Armie as he walked by and some stopped to say hi. Armie was pleasant and tons of hugs were given and kisses on the cheek to women. It reminded me of the charity auction when we had first met. I felt like a fish out of water and squeezed his hand a bit harder. He squeezed mine back and glanced back at me after we had been just walking through the maze of people for about half an hour.
We finally made it outside and I took a deep breath in. “You alright?” Armie asked me circling his arms around me. I looked around and then nodded. “Why did you look around?” He asked me.
“I... I just remember you said this might be good networking for you...”
Armie shook his head and pulled me closer. “So I shouldn’t show affection towards my boyfriend?” He asked me. Before I could reply, he pulled me in for a kiss. A deep one. I felt powerless against him. His tongue slid deep inside my mouth and my body melted into his. His powerful arms wrapped around me. When he finally pulled back, I last left panting and limp, with him holding me up. “You’re the most important thing to me,” he said staring into my eyes. “Never forget that.”
I nodded. He released me slowly and as a waiter walked by with a tray of drinks, he grabbed two and gave me one. The evening went on. There was a buffet style dinner set up and Armie and I ate. We talked to so many people I lost count, but they all knew Armie. Eventually, we saw Penelope and Armie and I wished her a happy birthday.
We kept drinking. I always felt I had a drink in my hand, but Armie always held the other. Later on, once it was really dark, the party seemed to wind down slightly. The music was not as loud. Less people were dancing and everyone seemed more subdued. I was leaning on Armie as he talked to someone. I was nursing yet another drink in my hand. I couldn’t remember how many I had had now.
“I need to go to the bathroom,” I said.
“Ok,” Armie replied and we got up and he led me through the crowd of people and to a half bathroom. Once I was done, he took my hand again.
“I’m so warm,” I told him.
“Let’s walk outside,” Armie said and I nodded. We walked out and away from the pool and it’s surrounding area, where most people were. The backyard was huge. Armie and I walked further and further until it got quiet. There was a small stone bench and we sat down. I leaned against him again. I was warm all over, but feeling really good. I leaned in and kissed him. It felt so good.
“What are you doing?” He asked chuckling.
I laughed softly as I climbed on him. “Nothing,” I said. I kept kissing him. I took his hands and slid them under my shirt. My mind felt fuzzy but I was hyper aware of how good Armie felt. His mouth and hands and body. We kissed for a while. My head was swimming a little. “I want you,” I said. I straddled him on the bench and pushed my hips forward.
“I want you,” he replied.
“Fuck me daddy,” I whispered to him. The sounds of the party seemed to have disappeared. Armie began to kiss me harder and I felt him begin to undo my jeans. He slid off the bench, holding me close to him. It was slightly disorienting for a moment. My head was swimming and wasn’t sure what was up or down, but then I was on my knees, Armie behind me. “Fuck me,” I said again, reached back, sliding my hand up the back of his head and grabbing his hair.
I groaned as I felt his spit slicked fingers slide into me. It felt amazing. I reached down to stroke myself. I leaned onto the stone bench. Then I felt Armie enter me. He began to fuck me. It was amazing. My whole body felt amazing. Armie’s hands felt so powerful on my hips and he held nothing back. It was as if we were both so needy for this. We came together soon after. We fell over on the grass and helped each other pull up our pants and fasten them. I couldn’t quite button my jeans, Armie had to do it.
He began to laugh as he did it and then I began to laugh too. It’s like we couldn’t stop. We laid on the grass, laughing. We were giddy. “Fuck that felt so good,” he said.
“It did,” I agreed. I curled up on his side and closed my eyes.
“Timmy,” I heard Armie say.
“Come on.” I felt myself being lifted but my eyes felt so heavy and I felt slightly dizzy. I curled into Armie’s chest and closed them again. I drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
I heard birds chirping and I opened my eyes slowly. They hurt. The world was too bright. I was laying on my stomach. I rolled over and a wave of dizziness and nausea washed over me. My heart was thumping hard in my chest. I moved very slowly. Finally, as I blinked, Armie’s room came into view.
“Fuck,” I said as I slowly pushed myself up into seating position. I closed my eyes and leaned back onto the headboard. I wasn’t sure how long I sat there, trying to will everything around me to stop spinning.
“Hey,” I heard and barely opened my right eye. Armie was walking towards the bed. He sat beside me and kissed my forehead. I heard him chuckle. I felt him get up and then when he came back he had the steel wastebasket form his bathroom. “You look like you’re about to puke,” he said.
“I... I don’t remember coming home.”
“I know,” he said. “You passed out.”
Memories were snippets of things. I tried to remember all of last night. “Things get fuzzy after we ate,” I said. I felt him sit down beside me again and I half opened both eyes. I blinked.
He was looking into my face. “We both got pretty drunk,” Armie said. He bit his bottom lip. “You remember what we did in the garden?”
I nodded. I felt my face warm. “We fucked.” Armie nodded. “Holy shit, Armie! We fucked in the middle of a party!”
Armie chuckled. “Well, not in the middle of it,” he said.
“Did anyone see us?” I asked.
“I... don’t think so?” He replied. “It was dark and that part wasn’t well lit and most people were by the pool...”
I put my hands to my face. “Holy fuck.”
“Hey,” he said. He slid closer to me and wrapped his arms around me. “I think practically everyone was as drunk as us. Or worse!” He held me a while. “You ok?” I gave a single nod. He pulled back and looked down at me. “I know... we got drunk and did something we normally wouldn’t do,” he said stroking my cheek. “And... well, I should have been more responsible,” he said. “I should have drunk less.”
I furrowed my brow. “We were both responsible for it. We’re a partnership. We’re equal.” Armie didn’t look convinced and it angered me, which was made worse but how hungover I was feeling. “Don’t give me that I’m older so I should know better look,” I said, the anger apparent in my voice. “I won’t take that from you. We’re equal Armie.”
“Ok,” he said and smiled at me. He leaned in and kissed me.
I leaned back on the bed and finally got a good look at him. He had showered and dressed. I furrowed my brow. “Where are you going?” I asked.
“A client texted me early this morning. I told them I’d meet them,” he looked at me intently to see if I would be upset. I wasn’t. I merely nodded. “I won’t be gone long baby. Once you’re up to it, go down stairs and eat. I felt you water here,” he pointed to the bedside table, there were 3 bottles of water and some crackers.
“Thank you,” I said.
He nodded. “I’m meeting with a board of members and they want to acquire some art. So it’ll be a full on business meeting so my phone with be on silent,” he said. I nodded. “I won’t be long, ok?”
“Ok,” I replied. Armie kissed me again and then I watched him as he left.
I never went back to sleep. Instead I downed the water bottles and then got up to use the bathroom. The nausea was almost gone but it was replaced by a horrible headache. Laying in bed made me feel even worse so I slowly ventured downstairs. I found some aspirin and then got on the couch and began to scroll social media.
I hadn’t been down there long when I heard a beeping come from the front door. I sat up, confused. I had never heard it before. I got up and walked slowly to the door. I realized, someone was beeping at Armie’s gats. I was confused as Armie always handled that. Armie has shown me how to use the control pad by the front door though. I had met people delivering food in belfry. I took a shaky breath in. I pushed the button to talk.
“Hello?” I said.
“Morning! It’s Timothée right? I’m Paris Troy. I’d like to speak to you.”
I felt the blood drain from my face. It took me a few seconds and my headache seemed to get worse, which I didn’t think was humanly possible. I pushed the button to talk again. “Leave,” I said simply.
“Let me in, Timothée. I got something that could ruin your boyfriend and I’m sure you’d want to see it.”
I felt frozen. My heart was racing and my palms were cold and sweaty. He could be lying, I though. Or... he could be telling the truth. I pushed the button to open the gate. It was a moment later I heard the sound of a car pulling up and then a car door slam close. The doorbell rang and I opened the front door.
There stood Paris. He was a bit taller than me, but our body types were similar. His had brown hair and green eyes. He was pleasing to look at. He smiled at me and suddenly he looked... slightly sinister. It could have been in my head. I stepped out and closed the door behind me. “What do you want?” I asked in a firm and steady voice.
“Not gonna invite me in?” He asked. I didn’t answer. He shook his head. He reached behind him, and reached for something. He brought a Manila envelope around. “So! Your boyfriend and you were at a wild party last night!” He began. I stared at him. “And you guys got pretty wild!”
He handed me the envelope. I opened in and reached inside and pulled out pictures. It was Armie and I, last night, in the garden they were a bit blurry, but it was obvious to see what we were doing. They had been taken from above it seemed, from a window of the home that overlooked the area. Thankfully, my hands weren’t shaking. I wasn’t sure how I was managing this cool exterior.
“Hardly illegal for boyfriends to fuck,” I said looking up at him. “It’s not like I’m fucking anyone else’s spouse.”
The dark shadow that passed over Paris’s eyes was gone as quickly as it came. “No, you’re right,” he said cheerfully. “But tabloids are a horrible thing. Once they hear of Mr. O and Lady Penelope holding drug and alcohol fuled orgies and that the respectable Armand Douglas Hammer brought his barely legal boyfriend, or... are you even legal? You look young. If the tabloids say you’re 17, people will believe it! I mean, you’re quite small and -“
I was moving before I even registered what I was doing. I shoved Parish, the heels of my hands making rough contact with his chest. He seemed surprised and almost fell back.
“Those are fucking lies !” I said in angry voice.
Paris laughed. “Yeah, and I’m sure the tabloids can print a little article a week later if Armand wants to sue and have the story corrected or redacted but by then the damage will be done and O won’t be happy Armie brought him such disgrace because he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants at his home! I mean, who fucks out in the open like that? Do you and Armand do that often? I mean I’ve done some kinky shit in my day but -“
“Leave,” I said. I balled my hands into fist.
Paris stood up straight. “You haven’t even asked what I want so I don’t give this pictures over to the tabloids!” I said nothing and Paris rolled his eyes. “God! You’re no fun!” He let out a breath and looked right into my eyes. “Tell Armie he has three days to call Ajax off or these pics will show up online.”
I shook my head. “You fuck things up for yourself and your plan is to blackmail an innocent man so he can clean up your mess for you?” I took pleasure in the redness that came to Paris’s cheeks.
He gave me poisonous look. “Three days.”
“I can go to the cops. Blackmail is illegal.”
“Go ahead,” he said with a shrug. “But I’d ask your boyfriend about that first. Again, this was in someone else’s home. Do you even know O? You think Ajax is scary? O is scarier and he won’t appreciate the unwanted attention.”
With that Paris turned and began to walk away. I watched him get into his car and began to drive away.
I was sitting on the couch, knees pulled up to my chest, arms wrapped around them when Armie came home about an hour later. The envelope was on the coffee table. It felt almost like an out of body experience telling him. I had never seen Armie look so angry. He balled his hands into fists and I got up and grabbed them, afraid he would punch a wall or something and hurt himself.
He seemed almost lost in his fury, but then he suddenly stopped and looked at me. I wasn’t sure what it was and then I noticed I was crying.
“Oh baby,” he said softly as he pulled me into his arms.
“It’s my fault,” I said. “I remember I asked you to fuck me. I was so drunk and I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Sshh,” Armie said. “Sshh, Timothée. We’re a partnership right? You said so yourself.”
“He can... he can damage your public imagine,” I said squeezing him. My voice was muffled in his chest. “Your reputation. You always told me how important your reputation is to you and now because of me, it’ll be ruined.”
“No, no, no,” Armie said in a soothing voice. “Never. I’ll take care of this my love,” he said softly.
“How?” I asked. I leaned back and looked up at his handsome face and perfect blue eyes. “How?”
“Don’t worry,” he said taking my face in his hands. He leaned in and kissed my tears. “I will take care of everything.”
I wasn’t sure what to think and felt I couldn’t think anyway. I was emotionally, physically and mentally drained. I wished to tell Armie we should go to the cops or call one of his lawyers or call someone. Something. He shouldn’t take care of this himself. “Armie,” I said. “You need to be careful.”
“I always am, baby,” Armie said and I felt him kiss the top of my head. “Don’t worry. Ok? I’ll take care of everything.”
I hugged him tight and nodded. I didn’t have the strength to do anything else.