Picture Perfect 70
“Pizzas here!” Peter called. “or is that pizzae?”
“You plan on feeding an army?” Dan looked at the stack of pizza boxes on the dining room table. “One each for each of us! I’m lucky to finish two slices in a large. These have to be extra large.”
“Be grateful I didn’t order the Super Bowl party size.” Jeremy said.
Ashley spread the boxes over the table, flipped open the top of each. “Pepperoni classic with extra cheese where are you. Nope this one is – what is it?”
“Looks like shrimp and lobster to me.” Peter said handing Jeremy a plate and a carving knife. “No enough pizza cutters to go around.”
“This one has sausages and bacon.” Ashley said.
“Meat Lovers.” Jeremy explained. “there should be ground beef and salami under the extra cheese.”
“Daddy did you order one for me?” she opened another boxx. “Oh here it is. Give me that pizza slicer. Got bigger plates?”
‘“Nope.” Dan said. “We only have plates for people with normal sized appetites. And this one is,” he opened the last box. “Spinach, egg plant and I’m not sure.”
“Avocado and sun dried tomatoes. That one also has feta for those of us who get tired of mozzarella or cheddar. Crust is gluten free, too.” Jeremey explained. “The vegan deluxe. You’ll never miss the meat.”
“Oh yummy,” Peter said, “There’s nothing more tempting than cardboard with hot spinach.”
“Try it, you’ll like it.” Jeremey said before he pushed the tip of the sea food pizza in his mouth.
They each managed to try, of not fully eat, a slice from each of the pizzas.
“I hope everyone is stuffed.” Peter said. “If they are thank the man who paid the chef. Those of us about to explode with goods salute you Mr. Moxham.”
“I’m sleepy.” Ashley announced.
“It is getting late.” Jeremey checked his watch. “We’ll head home in half an hour, princess. Need time for the dough to settle.”
“You can nap in my room.” Peter said.
“Your room?” she said. “You don’t live here! Dan does.”
“True. But unlike you I am a guest who stayed for longer than dinner.”
He went upstairs with her.
“So he is really house sitting?” Jeremy said. “I thought that was was a euphemism for sleeping together.”
“No, it isn’t a euphemism. But yes we are sleeping together.” Dan collected the dirty plates.
“You mean you’ve been celibate all these years?”
“No but …”
“The lobster pizza was pretty good.” Dan began to combine remains of pizzas into two boxes. “I wasn’t sure about it at first. The idea of putting seafood on a pizza struck me as being more inventive than tasty.”
“Like the idea of gay men courting?” Jeremy asked.
“You mean inventive or tasty? Sorry, I didn’t mean that to sound as sarcastic as it did.”
“I’m a little confused.” Jeremy said. “You know I find you attractive.”
Just then Peter came back into the room. “Did I miss something, sir?”
Dan massaged his forehead with the palm of his hand. “I came home to deal with business business not emotional business. I’m not looking to be courted. I’m not looking for a replacement for Sanjay. Not yet anyway. I don’t know where you got it into your head I was I husband hunting.” He went down to his study and shut the door.
His head throbbed. His study smelled of Jeremy’s cologne. All he wanted was to be free of emotional encumbrances for a while. Yet, everywhere he turned there was another opportunity, another someone trying to attach themselves to him. It wasn’t as if what that great looking or even had a big fat thick dick. Ordinary. He was ordinary.
There was knock on his door. “Ice cream?” Peter said.
“I’ll be right out.”
On his way up to the FairVista store in the morning Dan wished he had exercised more restraint when it got to the ice cream and brioche. Neither of which did anything to dispel the awkwardness of acting normal with Ashley in their midst. Once Jeremy left with her Dan went directly to bed. Peter had enough sense to let him sleep alone.
In the morning he was glad he had turned the message alert off before going to bed as there was three texts from Linda. The first sent at midnight, said “wlcm hm thnx 4 pics.” The second sent two hours later said “pics r exclnt.” The third was sent an hour ago said. “Must talk asap.”
As she hadn’t sent Hamid to pick him up he didn’t he didn’t think her asap was that urgent. Peter had already left for work when he got up with an ice cream hangover. His stomach felt bloated from the excess of glutenated products they had eaten. Cold sea food pizza made for a good breakfast though.
The FairVista hadn’t changed. There were some discreet Halloween decorations here and there but this wasn’t where anyone shopped for costumes, monster makeup or candy to give away. Christmas was the serious season. He could smell the coffee when the doorman opened the mall door for him.
“Lovely morning Mr. James.”
“Yes, it is.”
Linda was at one of the Cuppa tables with a coffee and biscotti in front of her.
“Smell it when you came in?” she asked.
“Couldn’t miss it.”
“I read how movie theatre would pump the smell of popcorn to the street so people would get the craving for it when they passed. Bakeries do with the fresh bread too. Have one?”
“Water for me.” He took a bottle of water out of his shoulder bag. “I’m here. By the way I had supper last night with Jeremy Moxham.”
“Then you already know what I wanted to talk to you about. Saves me the trouble of having to explain it to you.”
“No explaining to do. It’s your business now.”
“I want your guarantee that you won’t pull Lifend out of here.”
“Why would I do that Linda.”
“You know why.”
“Oh that! Lifend has their own system of checks and balances. You can’t accidentally add their name to anything.”
“I’ve gone over the store’s contractural agreement with them.”
“How flexible will they be on some of those stipulations.”
“Not at all. No discounts. No trade-ins. They own the stock until it is sold.”
“FairVista wants me to capitalize even more of their name though.”
“You can use the logo on site as much as you want to & when you advertise my product demonstrations & workshops. They aren’t concerned with getting their name out there beyond that.”
“It makes it hard to sell them. People expect discounts at some point.”
“That’s what exclusivity means.” Dan said. “They sell what they want, at the price they want. There are not seconds, discontinued lines or even knock-offs. They are paying enough for the square footage they are using here. Plus they pay for the amount of window display they get. Those you can expand, at no cost to them, but cannot reduce it, to make room for another Cuppa’s coffee table.”
“Fuck FairVista, Linda. They know their contractual obligations to Lifend. Lifend doesn’t want its own store. They want a single North American site where people can buy period. They sell to people who can afford to fly to Toronto to make face-to-face purchases.”
“I get that.”
“Then why bringing Jeremy Moxham into this?”
“I was hoping to bring him in as a business partner. Without the Depot …”
“Partner? Really! Are you serious?”
“It makes sense to me. We need someone with a name value to the public & to FairVista. Something that can do more for us than this rinky-dink cable crime show of yours.”
“Teresa sends her regards.”