As spring arrives, bringing hope and nourishing rains to Southern California, the men of the Action! Series also find a little relief from the chaos.
In the midst of their divorce, Mark Antonious Richfield and Steven Jay Miller join forces to take over the mega company Mark’s father had owned. Both men are inspired by the potential of a bright future, but…they aren’t in the clear yet.
The Swedish model, Tadzio Andresen, is losing hope he will get to remain in LA much longer.
The superstar, Mark’s son, Alexander, runs himself into the ground from fear and overworking.
The police chief, Billy Sharpe, ends up in hot water.
And, the new kid on the block, Stan Charles, brings Mark a step closer to his dream of having children.
While the corporate world reacts with rising stock to the announcement of a new partnership, the lives of the men of the Action! Series continue to spin out of control.
But, by placing one foot in front of the other, they battle forward…against all odds.
Feeling spent physically, Steven Jay Miller listened to the hum of voices surrounding him.
After an incredible day playing baseball on a glorious Southern California spring day, Steve wore the white uniform with blue lettering, his blue ball-cap backwards on his head.
Ten teammates filled a sunny patio at a Los Angeles pizzeria, laughing, recapping their victory.
Chief of Police Billy Sharpe, dirt smudged on his elbows and cheek, slouched low in the chair, listening to Becca, an adorable young woman who played the outfield.
“…and oh, my God, Oswald, when you caught that pass under your chin!” She roared with laughter. “I thought you were going to pass out you were so shocked.”
Steve, drinking a root beer, avoiding booze, tried to remember their names. They were young, they were energetic, smart, playful…and they were Stan Charles’ friends.
Jack Larsen, minus his husband, Adam Lewis, at the moment, chuckled and dabbed at the corner of his eye as he smiled and seemed to enjoy the gathering. “I swear, I thought he was going to break his jaw.” Jack glanced at his phone, then turned it face down on the table. They had pulled three smaller tables together to accommodate their group.
“Bruised?” Oswald held his head up, pointing, asking.
“A little.” Antwon inspected it.
Steve got hit lightly in the back of the head with a pompom.
Tadzio, wearing a cheerleading outfit, a short pleated skirt and white boots with tassels, wanted his attention.
“Yes?” he said, laughing.
Tadzio scooted his chair over and rested his head on Steve’s shoulder.
Stan held his pint glass on the table. “I thought when the pitcher saw our lineup, he was going to cry.” He chuckled.
“What a team!” Fred whistled as if he were amazed.
Two servers brought out their pizzas. As they were set down, all ten of them shifted back to allow them room.
Steve caught Mark’s gaze.
Mark Antonious Richfield, his cheeks dusty from his playing, his jersey smudged with dirt, gave Steve a fabulous smile.
Steve chuckled to himself. You dog.
Mark had made him an offer he simply could not refuse.
The love between them? It remained. It always would.
“Mmm! Smells so good.” Becca, the only woman at their table, picked up a slice from the tray.
Steve waited as hands reached from every direction to the gourmet pies.
Tadzio took a slice of pizza with pesto and fresh mozzarella. He nibbled the tip, which was steaming, then said, “You have to eat it too. Garlic.”
Steve kissed him and licked his lip. “Tastes good.” He took a slice of the same pie. When he looked up, Mark had spied the little kiss.
A large bowl of garden salad was served next, and that too, was passed around.
Jack’s phone rang. He wiped his hands and answered it, using the speaker phone. “Hey, Adam.”
Steve folded the pizza slice in half as he ate it, starving after the baseball game. He could barely hear Adam’s voice coming from Jack’s phone.
“You missed it, Lewis. It was a blast.” Jack kept eating.
Steve asked Billy, “How long is Alex going to be filming in Seattle?”
Before Billy answered, his mouth full, Tadzio said, “Two weeks.”
Billy indicated that pretty Tadzio knew the correct reply.
Steve took another slice from the meat pizza. When he looked up, Mark caught his gaze.
How did Steve feel about being a partner in Mark’s father’s company?
Nothing was in writing yet, not even their divorce. But, Mark Richfield was a man of his word.
The knees of his uniform pants were caked with dirt from the game. Mark guzzled water thirstily after playing for hours in the warm sunshine. He used tongs to scoop salad to his plate, and ate an olive, thinking about trying the pizza, but not sure if he was that hungry.
Stan, who was seated beside him, held up his slice. “Taste?”
Mark leaned closer and took a bite from his roasted vegetable pizza. “Mmm.” Mark nodded. “Perhaps just a small slice.”
Stan picked one up and placed it on his plate.
“Thank you, love.” Mark kissed him.
When Mark looked up from his plate, everyone was watching him. “What?” he asked, touching his cheek.
“You two are so cute.” Becca McKenna smiled sweetly.
Mark checked on Billy and Steve’s reaction to that observation. Having your separated spouse, his boyfriend, and your son-in-law on the same baseball team, well…that was either insane, or amazing. Mark wasn’t sure which yet. So far, it seemed to help mend fences. Team sports did that. He was well aware of it from his many years playing baseball at Stanford U.
Witnessing his lovers and friends torn apart was anything but, pleasant.
“I don’t know, Adam…” Jack was still trying to communicate with the talent agent over his phone while eating pizza.
Over the connection, Mark heard Adam say, “How long do you have to tolerate that company?”
Jack quickly snatched the phone from the table, and off speaker, and put it to his ear. “We’re having pizza at a place in WeHo on the boulevard.”
Mark rubbed Stan’s leg affectionately, in case he heard the nasty comment. It was annoying not only because he counted on Adam to keep things calm and peaceful, but, Adam was also Stan’s talent agent.
“Uh…” Jack stood from the chair as he spoke, as if he didn’t want Stan and his friends to hear. Mark watched Jack as the big blond gym-junkie said, “No. I’m having a great time…”
“So…” Fred Chew leaned closer to Billy. “What’s it like being a police chief in this political climate?”
Billy wiped his mouth on a napkin. “Okay. I feel as if my department is on the cutting edge.”
Oswald Black asked, “Santa Monica?”
Antwon Jackson leaned across the table to the big police chief. “I always wanted to be a cop.”
Lou McFadden made a ‘boo’ noise.
Mark chuckled, since Lou, the ‘quiet one’ of the group, actually did standup comedy in a club recently.
“Boo?” Billy took comic offense.
Lou, looking shy, picked up his water glass and hid behind it.
Steve said, “You don’t want to be a cop.”
As Billy and Antwon discussed the hiring process, Mark asked Steve, “Why doesn’t he, Officer Miller?”
Stan laughed and took a break from eating, sipping ice water.
“I’m not a cop anymore, Mark.” Steve grinned at him.
“What are you, handsome?” Mark leaned over Stan towards Steve.
“Wooo!” the few who heard Steve laughed and reacted playfully.
Jack returned to the table, putting his phone back down beside his plate and resumed eating.
“You’re a CEO?” Billy laughed and moved his plate away as if he were full.
Jack became alert and looked at Mark.
Mark winked at him.
“Did you?” Jack asked Mark.
“Did what?” Billy and Tadzio appeared curious.
Mark heard Fred ask, “Who wants the last slice?”
“I asked Steven to be my partner.” Mark held Stan’s hand under the table.
“What?” Billy looked shocked. “Wait. What are we talking about?”
“Richfield International.” Mark kept his gaze on Steve.
“Hang on.” Billy held up his hand as if he needed clarification. “When did this go down?”
“Bottom half of the first inning.” Steve laughed.
“Shut the fuck up.” Billy stared from Steve to him. “Does Alex know?”
“What are we talking about?” Antwon took another helping of salad.
“Steven,” Tadzio replied, “…iz Mark’s business partner now?”
Billy asked Stan, “Did you know?”
“Steve?” Billy still appeared to be confused. “You’re quitting Parsons and Company?”
“To work for Mark’s mega company? Yes!” Steve laughed and drew Tadzio closer, nuzzling his blond hair.
“He doesn’t own it yet.” Jack finished eating and stacked his plates.
Mark loved Steve’s fire and enthusiasm.
“Oh, my God.” Billy exhaled loudly. “Then, you will get it back, Mark?”
Mark thumbed to the blond lawyer. “We paid enough for it. I assume so.”
“Anyone want dessert?” A waitress began to take empty plates.
The group indicated they were full.
Becca sat up higher in her chair. “Why don’t we change and get together at Stan’s apartment? We could chill there. It’s still early.”
Stan kissed Mark’s cheek. “Are you up for it?”
“Your place is too small for all of us. How about we come to ours instead?” Mark rubbed at a spot of ground-in dirt and motor oil on Stan’s callused hand.
“Mark’s offering our place in Bel Air.” Stan checked with everyone.
“Cool.” Fred nodded.
“Where in Bel Air?” Antwon held his phone.
While Stan texted the address to everyone, Mark mouthed to Steve, ‘Will you come?’
“Who gets the check?” The waitress stood by the table.
Mark reached for it.
“Aww…” Becca laughed.
“Thanks, moneybags.” Billy chuckled.
“Me? Alex loaned me money. I should make you pay, Chief.” Mark gave the waitress his credit card.
“That’s Alexander. Not me.”
Steve stood from the table, picked up one of Tadzio’s pompoms and tapped the pretty blond on the head with it. “Why didn’t you leave these in the car?”
Mark watched Tadzio do a little cheer with them, and then he leapt onto Steve to kiss.
Mark tried not to wince, but Stan had obviously seen it. He clasped Mark’s hand under the table.
“See ya in a bit.” Steve held Tadzio’s hand and tilted his head for Billy. “Coming?”
“Yes.” Billy checked with Mark. “Want to split the bill?”
“No. Go ahead.” Mark shook his head.
“Jack?” Billy asked as he pushed the chair under the table. “Are you coming to Mark’s place?”
“No. Adam’s expecting me home.” Jack stood up as the waitress brought the check to Mark.
Mark signed it, and took his card.
As a group, they left the patio and walked to where they had parked their cars.
Seeing Stan discussing the best route to get to Bel Air with his friends, Mark, Jack, and Billy walked in the same direction. Steve and Tadzio were ahead of them, hand in hand, Tadzio swinging the pompoms as he walked.
Jack paused at his Jaguar, which they arrived at first. “See ya.”
“Thanks for coming, Jackie.” Mark gave him a hug and kissed him on the lips. “Keep me abreast of the negotiations.”
Jack drew Mark closer. “Steve?”
“Does he even have a clue how to run a big company?”
“Jackie,” Mark admonished. “Underestimating him too?”
Billy joined his and Jack’s conversation. “Is it guilt, Richfield?”
“No!” Mark took insult. “Do you think Steven can’t handle it? Are you joking?”
“How’re you doing it?” Jack asked, glancing in the direction Steve and Tadzio had taken. “Second in command?”
“What?” Jack blinked. “You’re insane.” He walked away.
Billy watched Jack leave. “Did you even sign divorce papers yet?”
“No.” Mark hated when they second guessed him, which everyone did constantly.
“What’s the real reason?” Billy asked.
“Yo! Sharpe!” Steve called to Billy, standing near his Mercedes.
“Hang on!” Billy put his hands on his hips, looking like a police chief even in a baseball uniform. “Mark?”
“He’s brilliant and capable. Do you think he’s a dumb cop?”
“Equal partnerships in business can be just like a marriage.”
“Indeed.” Mark spotted Stan making his way closer.
“I question your judgment.”
“Who is asking for your opinion?” Mark narrowed his gaze at Billy.
“Do you still retain control?” Billy asked, his blue eyes like steel.
“Fifty-fifty. Go. I need to get home to shower and change.” Mark looked at his uniform pants, trying to brush off the dirt.
Stan asked, “Is everything okay?”
“It is.” Mark opened the locks to his opalescent blue/purple TVR, Tuscan sport car.
“Are you coming over, Billy?” Stan asked before he climbed into Mark’s low slung racecar.
“Maybe. See ya.” Billy walked towards Steve’s black Mercedes.
Mark sat behind the wheel, starting the high-performance engine and fastening his seatbelt.
“I don’t get it.” Stan rubbed at his dirty uniform knees. “They’re pissed off when you don’t treat Steve well, and pissed off when you do.”
“Don’t try to analyze it, love.” Mark pulled into the travel lane and headed home. “Anything I do is subject to discussion and debate.”
“Well… for what it’s worth, this is the best damn baseball team I’ve ever played in.”
Mark smiled once more. “It was! With a team line up like we have, I have a feeling our mantle will soon have a trophy.”
“Ha!” Stan squeezed Mark’s thigh excitedly. “It’ll be our first.”
Mark relaxed and drove home in the moderate Saturday traffic, thinking of the nice evening they had planned ahead.