He got so into his work, that he jumped about a foot in the air when Mark’s voice spoke above his head: “David, Uncle Sid’s here. Would you go and take him out to the pool? I thought we could all eat at the table out there. I’ll get it ready and bring it out to you guys.”
David started to protest, then shut his mouth. Wasn’t this Mark’s job, after all? Taking care of him for the next year in whatever way that he required. He had to let Mark do his job, or the young actor would feel bad about the money that David had paid to get him out of trouble. So he simply smiled and nodded. “Sure,” he replied.
Mark grinned and disappeared from the doorway once again. David rose to his feet and clicked to save what he’d written, then moved out into the hallway. He saw his agent, Sid Greenway, waiting by the door. “David!” he cried, beaming. “Mark told me what you did for him! I can never thank you enough!” he wrung David’s hand, making the writer feel rather embarrassed.
“You don’t have to thank me, Sid,” he protested. “I was only doing what anybody would have done to help somebody in trouble.”
Sid snorted disdainfully. “Oh, David, you’re so naïve,” he said, shaking his head. “But I’m glad for that, in this case. I didn’t know what I was going to do when Mark told me how much he owed that Vlad person. And the foolish boy waited until he was already in trouble to confide in me,” he added with a frown.
“I’m sure that he didn’t want to worry you,” David said.
Sid shrugged. “Maybe, but I’m still upset with him. Ahh, well. All’s well that ends well, eh?”
David found himself smiling. “Yes, Sid, you’re right. Why don’t you come out on the deck? Mark said that he’d bring the food out to us so we can eat outside,” he explained.
Sid nodded happily, the prospect of a free lunch making his eyes gleam. “Lead on, David,” he said, making shooing motions with his hands.
David led the way out to the deck, indicating that Sid should sit down in one of the white wrought-iron chairs next to the table with the big striped green umbrella over it. He sat down himself, enjoying the feel of the sun on his head. It was only pleasantly warm today, rather than blazing hot. He’d managed to skip over summer in L.A. while he was on his trip, although all of the countries that he’d been in had been not only hot but humid as well…
“How was your trip, David?” Sid asked him.
He pulled his thoughts together. “It was fine. I really enjoyed myself, in fact,” he replied. “Although by the end, I was really tired of traveling and staying in hotels. I’m glad to be home - and glad to be getting back to work,” he added for Sid’s benefit.
His agent’s eyes lit up. “You’re starting your next book?” he said eagerly.
He smiled. “That’s right. In fact, I was beginning to outline the chapters when you arrived.”
“That’s excellent news!” Sid cried. “Ahh, Mark. There you are, bubala,” he went on, beaming at his nephew.
Mark grinned as he set full plates of food down in front of both David and his uncle. “Yes, here I am. And here’s the food, Uncle Sid. Eat up,” he said, waving at both of them as he took a seat near David and across from his uncle.
“Ahh, it looks great,” Sid commented eagerly, his eyes roving over the plate of sandwich, potato salad, chips and some fresh veggies.
Mark shot David a smiling glance, which had a bad effect on certain areas of his body. He pretended that he was very hungry and needed to concentrate on his food, discreetly squirming on his chair to ease the sudden pinch at his crotch. His sandwich was very good, which helped. Mark was talking to his uncle, telling Sid about David’s impersonation of an assassin. The agent looked appalled, and actually stopped eating in mid-chew as he stared at his nephew.
“That was too dangerous, Mark!” he cried in horror. “What if something had happened to either of you?”
The young actor shook his head. “If I hadn’t done something, I had the bad feeling that something would have happened to me anyway, Uncle Sid. Vlad could have forced me to work in his stable, and what would I have been able to do to stop him? If I’d disappeared, you wouldn’t have known where to look for me. I’m sorry that I had to get David involved…” he glanced at the writer apologetically.
“It’s okay,” he replied sincerely. “Having seen that Vlad guy, I’d bet that you were right about him thinking that he could have his money and you, too. I’m just happy that he bought your story about me being some fearsome assassin…” he gestured at himself with an amused grimace.
Mark’s eyes twinkled as Sid’s lips twitched. “Well, like I told you before Vlad’s scariest assassins look like librarians or accountants. You’re pretty manly compared to some of them,” the young actor remarked.
Sid chuckled. “Ah, just remember, David. The pen is mightier than the sword!”
He blew out a breath. “If that were true, I’d put Ahnuld all to shame,” he drawled. “But as it is…”
Mark grinned. “That’s all right, David,” he said. “I like you just as you are.”
The writer stared at him across the table, feeling an unexpected surge of wistfulness. He wished that Mark were doing more than just reassuring him about his ‘manliness’. But he shook this thought off as he replied: “Thank you. I’m glad somebody appreciates me for myself.”
“Everybody should appreciate you for yourself,” Mark said stoutly. “You’re a really good guy.”
“I agree,” Sid commented, nodding. “Mark speaks truth. You’re an amazing person, David.”
He felt uncomfortable under all of this praise, which Mark saw. “Ahh, well. Let’s finish eating,” he said tactfully. “I’m still hungry.” he picked up his sandwich and bit into it, as a grateful David followed suit.
Once Sid had departed for his next appointment, Mark turned to look at David. “I’ll rinse the dishes and do a load,” he decided. “Then do some dusting. You can tell this house has been shut up for months on end. I’d bet the dust bunnies under the bed are the size of Brer Rabbit by now.”
David laughed. “I have to get back to work,” he said.
“Okay. I’ll come and get you when dinner’s done. Do you like fish?”
“Actually, yes. What kind?”
“Salmon? With lemon and pepper sauce?”
“That sounds great. Will you need any help with it?”
“Nope. That’s what I’m here for, to make your life easier,” Mark told him, shooing him in the direction of his study. "Now get to work, and I’ll take care of everything else.”
He let himself be herded, feeling a combination of amusement and pleasure. It was almost like having a wife - or what he imagined it would be like to have a wife, anyway. Not that he’d ever know one way or the other. Even though Mark was (technically) getting paid for his services, he still didn’t seem like an employee. But that’s what he was, David reminded himself severely. He had to remember that.
Mark bustled around the kitchen, making dinner. The fish was baking nicely, wild rice and fresh asparagus were being steamed on the stove top, and he was whipping up a batch of home-made rolls to go along with the rest of the food. He hummed to himself as he worked, echoing the music playing on the radio. He’d always enjoyed cooking, and it was better to cook for two rather than for just one. Mark liked to take care of people; he always had. That was why this job as a dogsbody was pretty much perfect for him. Especially since he really liked David. It was nice to work for a person that he really wanted to take care of. It would be good to make the writer’s life easier, and run more smoothly.
He thought about the audition he was going to tomorrow. It was for a movie, a comedy that was about to start shooting. Mark hoped to get the part of one of the main character’s friends, a minor role, but one that he’d at least be able to put on his meager resume. Still, if he didn’t get the part at least he had guaranteed work for the rest of the year.
And it was much better work than what he’d been doing before, that was for sure. He’d had a job as a waiter, and Mark had hated it. The customers had often been surly or downright nasty, and since the cook at the restaurant he’d worked at hadn’t been very good, they’d often taken out their displeasure with the food on him. The tips he’d gotten weren’t enough to make the job worthwhile; he didn’t miss it at all now that he was working for David.
He put the tray of rolls into the oven on the shelf above the baking salmon, then checked the rice and asparagus. Everything was cooking very nicely. He’d go and call David to come eat soon. It would nice to eat dinner with someone else again; that was the time of day that he missed his family the most. Moving to L.A., so far away from them, he’d often felt lonely. His uncle had tried to fill the void, but he was so busy that he couldn’t often spend time with Mark. He understood that, and had never pushed the issue. Still, he looked forward to eating dinner with someone else every day again. Even if it was only his employer…although he had the sneaking suspicion that David might one day become more than just that to him. He’d seen the way that the writer looked at him, and he wasn't stupid. He also knew that he wouldn’t object very much if at all if something like that came about…
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