“I’m sorry, we’re closed….” Jesse looked at the stranger, and it dawned on him that the man standing in the doorway wasn’t a stranger at all. “Kaye Bannon. Look what the cat dragged in.”
Kaye nodded. “Hi, J.”
Jesse waved at Kaye to enter and walked over to pull him into his arms. It was like the last ten years had never happened. The Christmas bells on the door jangled as it shut, and Kaye hugged him back.
“Where have you been?”
“You know, here and there. LA mostly. And Vancouver where we were filming.”
“I heard your show got canceled,” Jesse said compassionately.
“It had run its course. Wasn’t a big surprise,” Kaye replied, pulling himself out of Jesse’s embrace.
“But knowing how these shows film, you must have done your last take in, what? April? May?”
“So what have you been doing with yourself these past eight months? Traveling?” Jesse casually gestured at his shop, which was filled with big cardboard pictures of exotic beaches and long display cases of brochures. It was no secret he was a travel agent. And not the cheap backpack-traveler sort either.
“No, pretty much stayed at home.”
“Banging bitches,” Jesse stated, stressing the alliteration and not hiding the mockery. He didn’t need to ask. He knew his friend’s reputation and doubted much had changed in the ten years since he’d last seen him. What surprised him was the pained expression on Kaye’s face. “What?”
“I’m on my way to divorce number three, J.”
“I’m sorry,” Jesse said, trying to sound compassionate. He’d been there for Kaye’s first two divorces, but didn’t know his third wife or whether this marriage was any better than the first two. The only thing he knew was that it had lasted much longer than Kaye’s first two efforts. Jesse put his hand on Kaye’s shoulder and gave it a casual pat. “I didn’t know.”
“You mean I’m talking to the one person who doesn’t read about me in the tabloids?”
“Don’t read them at all,” Jesse answered happily. It was a little white lie, but he knew how private Kaye used to be and doubted that had changed either. “I just follow the gay celebs on After Elton and After Ellen. Every new hookup means big business, since they all want to take their new conquest away to somewhere exotic. And now with the marriage equality thing here in New York, every gay couple wants to go on a tropical honeymoon. In fact, in about two minutes I have a private appointment with two guys, both rather famous, who are getting married and are taking fifty of their closest friends on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate. It’ll certainly make my first quarter.”
“Guess I better go, then,” Kaye said wistfully.
“No! Kaye, I haven’t seen you in ten years! Stay. It’ll take thirty minutes. Tops.” Jesse pushed Kaye to the back of the store and noticed he was trailing a small suitcase, meaning he hadn’t even checked into a hotel yet. Jesse ignored it and pushed Kaye into the tiny kitchen just as he spotted the couple through the storefront windows. “Grab a cup of coffee or make yourself some tea. Don’t have that fancy stuff you used to make, but I have cookies.” He pointed at the cupboard and threw Kaye a smile, which made Kaye smile too. Then the Christmas bells chimed, announcing the arrival of his customers. “Gotta go,” Jesse whispered as he closed the door.
When he walked over to greet his guests, Jesse found his thoughts drifting back to how he’d met Kaye. He really needed to focus, but then again, he could sell gay cruises in his sleep. He shut the blinds to close up the shop and give his clients some privacy.