Neil barely slept, although that was nothing new. What little sleep he knew he was likely to get was often plagued with nightmares and shell-shocked fueled terror. He managed to force himself to eat an apple and get showered and dressed. As he got into the shower, an image flashed across his mind of Sally in the shower with him, lathering his body with soap.
No, Neil. Stop it. He didn want her. Nope. Even if he did, he couldn have her. Something in her…he had yet to see it, but he could sense a sweetness about her, one he didn want to break with his broken heart.
Before he could completely erase the image out of his mind, Neil noticed his body betrayed what he was trying to tell himself. Along with his arousal, something else had grown hard, and stood at attention, as if begging him to take care of the problem. Neil sighed, and knew it wasn going to go away, even if he changed the water temperature. He reached down and wrapped his fingers around his length. It had been a long time sense hed had a release, so that action alone caused a small sensation. Images of Sallys slender, nude body in front of him, dripping from the shower head, and covered in soap hed just applied filled his head. She was rinsing him, a devilish look in her eyes.
Neil hated doing this in the shower, but at least the cleanup was easier than on his back in bed.
Finishing up his shower, Neil pulled his clothes on in time to hear a knock on the door. His vest and tie weren quite on, but he answered anyway, finding Roland standing in the hall.
”I am sorry to drop by suddenly. ”
”No, come in. ” Roland did, and Neil said, ”Just finishing getting dressed. ”
”I was hoping you were going to see Stew. I would like to join for a while, before I meet with my agent. ”
”Yes, actually. ” Neil went to the bathroom to tie his tie and shave his face. ”Figured he could use a little company for a while. ”
”Yes. Clarence has the cast of his play over to do some pre-rehearsal line learning, so I figured I could use the slightly less noisy hospital room. ” Neil noted Roland looked a little white.
”Drink too much, Dubois? ”
”No, but my head is aching like you would not believe. ”
”You want some coffee? ” Neil turned to Roland mid-shave and watched as he shook his head.
”If I have another cup I will be buzzing out of my clothes from the caffeine. ” Neil snorted. ”Either that or I will piss myself with the amount of liquid I have consumed. ” Neil snorted but moved aside and let Roland in to use the toilet while he shaved.
”We served in trenches together. Ive pulled shrapnel out of your actual ass, Roland. You act like this is something weird. ” Roland blushed deeper.
”I meant more because… ”
”Of our conversation last night? If Im being honest, I already knew. ” Roland seemed surprised. ”The day Carlton died…that German soldier called you… ”
”Yes. ” Roland zipped up his pants, and coldly asked, ”What about it? ”
”I asked around, saying Id heard some Germans use it and found out its…on par with some of the names youd call Clarence, but for a homosexual. ” Roland tensed. ”Along with a few other clues, I put two and two together. ”
”And you never asked? ”
”And get you killed? I didn have another friend left. May had been killed, Carlton was dead. And if you sticking your cock in some other guys ass made you happy, then so be it. ” Neil rinsed his blade, then said, ”Look, Roland, its not something I ever thought Id be accepting of. I don understand it. Really, I don . ” Roland nodded. ”But considering the shit Ive done; I have no right to expect you to be better than me. Hell, you ** other men and you still come out on top. ”
”How is this? ”
”You saved my life. Some hop-headed, washed out doctor with a bourbon problem and a dependency on hookers. ”
”Technically, that was Stew and Vinny. ”
”They found me, and I damn well know it was because you pointed them in the right direction. ” Roland didn say anything. ”Im a broken man, and youve never put me out for it. The least I could do was stay out of your sex life. ”
”I did not know you knew that. ”
”You got the sweater from my mother, yes? ”
”I did. ”
”I wrote to her and Lizzie after I…got back. ” Neil rinsed the remaining shaving cream from his face. ”Lizzie wanted to do something, so she and Ma made you a sweater. They wanted to give you money or something but knew you probably wouldn accept it. ”
”It is not nece-sss-s…needed, ” Neil smirked at his friends mild annoyance with his language skills. ”I…you have saved my life. It was simply my turn. ” It was rare they had a heart to heart like this, and Neil found it uncomfortable. He pulled his jacket on and stepped out of the bathroom to grab his shoes and put them on.
When Roland came out of the bathroom, having washed and dried his hands, Neil was ready to leave, so they walked out the front door and headed into the daylight. It was still early, but Chicago was not the city that slept. They got into the car and headed to the hospital.
When they got there, Stew was just finishing his breakfast, and said, ”Hey, boys. ”
”Mr. Foster. ” Roland sat down, and asked, ”How have you been? Better than last night I hope. ”
”Same, really. How are you two? ”
”I am most excellent. ”
”Your niece is a pain in my ass. ” Stew pinched the bridge of his nose, and sighed.
”You haven even spent time with her. Its too early after her night, shes not up yet, so how do you know? Give her time, shes a nice girl. ” Stew said.
”Nice…did you hear her last night? ” Neil snapped.
”And what did she give you that you didn throw in her direction last night? ” Stew countered.
”Oh, he gave her something, Stew. ” Roland smirked as Neil gave him a murderous look. ”When she approached the bar, she stood right next to him, and he gave her the widest-eyed look I had ever seen. ”
”Oh, did he now? ”
”Im allowed to think someone is attractive and obnoxious at the same time, aren I? ”
”Oh, certainly. ”
”My niece is not obnoxious, thank you. You
e just pissed because she can keep up with you and throws it back at you. ”
”I am- ”
”You have never liked it when women could throw it back. ” Roland pointed out.
”Not true. I prefer it. ”
”Then why the hostility when they can? ” Stew raised an eyebrow at Neil.
”It is not hostility. ” Roland pointed out. ”He is pretending he does not find enjoyment to keep them away. As if he is…protecting them somehow. ”
”Don you have a movie to learn lines for? ” Neil snapped.
”I am actually not doing any projects right now. ” Roland simply stated.
”Must have him on the money. ” Stew smirked at the actor, who simply nodded.
”Oh, he is not so hard to read. He wears his heart on his sleeve but tries to hide it with a cold façade. ”
”You done? ” Neil snapped. Roland shrugged.
”I could continue. ”
”Don . ” Neil stared at him, as if daring him to continue. Stew pinched the bridge of his nose.
”Anyway…look don be a pest to her, please? Shes going to need to get all the guidance she can, and I asked you to do a job. ”
”I will do what I can, but I don run a speak. I run your clinic. ” Neil reminded Stew, crossing his legs. ”I cannot guarantee itll be good. ”
”Shes like her mama. Shes sharper than she seems, so shell have the business savvy, especially if she went to secretarial school. I want you to keep her from getting into too much trouble. ”
”Shes the proprietor of your illegal speakeasy, Stew. Thats a tall task. ”
”I know. Get the others to help you. ”
”I do not know much about keeping a bar, but I do know something about pretending to keep your cool when you are terrified or pissed off. ”
”And can you teach her to stand up for herself? ” Roland gave Neil a rather intense look.
”I am a man from France who fought in a war for the Americans. I spent my adolescence living on the streets of New York City until I had enough money to leave at eighteen. ”
”Thats great, but can you teach her to shoot? ”
”I fought in the war, Neil. ”
”A pistol would be better than your service rifle. ”
”Yes, I can shoot a damn pistol. What is your deal today? ” Roland stared at him, before realization dawned on his face. ”I was right, wasn I? ”
”What is he talking about? ” Stew asked, confused by the silence, Neils seething and Rolands smug. That smug bastard.
”Nothing, he needs to mind his own business. ” Neil snapped.
”Your niece has caught Neils eye. ” Roland and Neil stared at each other, Roland calm and collected, Neil ready to commit murder.
”Oh? ” Stew had a mischievous glint in his eye. He looked at Neil, and asked, ”Are you going to court my niece? ”
”Even if I was interested, which I am not, by the way, it wouldn change things. I cannot court my boss. Isn that like…some sort of ethical code or something? ” Stew snorted, and Roland actually laughed-a rare sound from the quiet, stoic actor.
”Ethics…in our line of work? With what you do for me? ” Neil bristled, and Roland shook his head. Stew had a valid point and they all knew it.
”It is of no use. I will be going now, as I have one other engagement. I am glad that you are doing good, Stewart. ” Roland stood up, and said, ”See you at the speak later, Neil. ” Roland strolled out, and Stew asked, ”When he says another engagement, what man his he meeting with? ” Neil snorted- he knew Stew wasn exactly thrilled with Rolands…proclivities. But he also didn really care as much as most would. Roland was far more polite about it than Vinny, for starters. He did make sure, however, to correct Stew.
”Chess? ” Stew offered.