Can’t Buy Me Love
Corey stared at the bank statement in his hands as he waited in reception for his dad’s best friend. The dollar amount printed on the page still defied logic and reason. It read five hundred eighty nine million dollars. He had won the big lottery, a fact that still seemed like a dream to him. Hearing footsteps behind him, he turned and saw Marty Feinberg approaching. “Hey, Marty, thanks for seeing me on such short notice.”
Marty smiled affably and reached a hand out to shake. “No problem kiddo, your Dad said it was urgent?”
“It is, and also a delicate matter.” Corey fidgeted as he pulled back. “Can we talk in your office?”
Marty’s brow furrowed and he held out a hand towards his office. “Of course we can, you know you can come to me with anything. You’re not in any trouble are you, kid?”
“No, nothing like that.” Corey grinned to try and soothe his nerves, following Marty into his office and shutting his door. “Let’s have a seat before I tell you.”
Marty looked really concerned now. “Okay, I’m sitting down now. What’s going on Corey?”
“I’ve won the lottery.” Corey reached into his bag and pulled out a copy of the ticket, bank statement and claim form. “Before you ask, no this isn’t an elaborate prank. I chose the lump sum, and now I’m choosing Feinberg and Son to help me manage my money.”
Marty’s mouth was hanging open and his eyes were bugging out of his head. When he finally regained his composure. “Let me call Tyler in, so he can be up to speed here. You remember Tyler, don’t you?”
“It’s been years but I think we met a couple of times over the summer, when we didn’t go with mom somewhere.” Corey was fully on antsy now, he’d always had a crush on Tyler. “Then once we went to college I don’t think we’ve seen each other since.”
Marty smiled and picked up the phone speaking to the person on the other end. “Tyler, I need you in here pronto. Yes, it’s important. Okay, see you.”
Corey’s eyes were drawn to a picture of Marty, his wife Beth and their two kids. It had to be twenty years old. They were at Disneyland or something and all smiling for the camera. Trying to take his mind off of Tyler’s blue eyes staring back he asked. “What did Evan end up doing?”
“He’s a history professor at Boston University. Got his PHD in History from there and stayed on the teach.” Marty’s sharp gaze landed on Corey as he got down to business.” I know this is nerve racking for you. Let’s get some basics out of the way so we can come up with a plan of action. Since you took the lump sum I assume you want to invest?”
“I definitely do, but I need help, Marty. I don’t want to end up like my mother.”
“We’ll help you handle it, Corey.” Marty assured him, as someone knocked on the door and entered the room. Marty lifted his head and smiled over Corey’s shoulder. “Oh Tyler, there you are. You remember Corey of course?”
“Absolutely, he is the one who put shoe polish on my binoculars on our hike. I looked like a total dipshit.” Tyler crossed the room and shook Corey’s hand, winking at him.
Corey burst out laughing. “I remember that! You got me back with the shaving cream on the hand trick!”
“Ever the sound sleeper.” Tyler’s mouth turned up in a wry gin. It was then that Corey noticed his eyes, realizing age hadn’t changed him much. Tyler still had the kind of light blue eyes that looked like ice, and a kilowatt smile that was to die for. He must have gone all goo-goo eye because Tyler looked at him funny. “Are you all right?”
Corey nodded and cleared his throat, handing him the papers he’d shown Marty. “This is why I’m here. I don’t trust anybody but you guys. I need it protected and I need it kept from my mother.”
“Kate still up to her old tricks? I’m sorry to hear that.” Tyler patted his shoulder. “Since you’re an adult who is sane, competent and rational, she won’t get a penny.”
“I want to pay off my debt and anything my Dad owes, but I’ll only pay for my mom to go to rehab.” Corey looked down, his shoulders slumped. “But after that I need to invest and take care of my money. I can’t trust just anyone.”
“We’ll come up with a plan by next week on how to proceed, until then you lay low and try not to make any crazy purchases. Better yet, hire a bodyguard or hide out somewhere,” Tyler spoke sharply. “People will be coming out of the woodwork. We should change your number.”
“I did that this morning after I woke up to fifty-two messages from long lost relatives and people who want to help me.” Corey made air quotes with his hands. “I really need away from it.”
“First things first, let’s hire you a body guard.” Marty picked up the phone. “I’m calling Blake Security for you, they specialize in this kind of thing.”
“Blake as in Grant Blake?” Corey’s eyes bugged out. “I can’t afford-”
“You can.” Tyler interrupted him by putting a hand to his lips. “And it’s necessary. Secondly you need to go hide out somewhere.”
“My Dad moved to San Diego and Emily is in college right now.” Corey shook his head. “I like Boston, I don’t want to leave Massachusetts.”
“I’m not asking you to leave permanently, just until you are old news.” Tyler racked his brain. “Do you have a passport?”
“No, I didn’t think I would need one anytime soon.” Corey bit his nail and looked at Marty. “What do you think, Marty?”
Marty leaned back in his chair. “I agree with Tyler, you need to get a bodyguard. I was also going to suggest getting away. I just don’t know where you could go that they won’t have seen your face.”
Tyler snapped his fingers. ”I know a place! Grandma left me that ranch in Nebraska. The people around those parts rarely pay attention to the news, let alone play Power Ball. It’ll be perfect!”
“Where at in Nebraska?” Corey had a worried look in his eyes. “That kind of seems like the middle of nowhere.”
“It’s just outside of Broken Bow, on a Rural Route. There’s a large gate and everything, so no one can get to you.” Tyler was typing something into his phone, when he saw what he was looking for he turn to show Corey. “See, a large privacy gate, along with electrified fences around the main house. Not to mention security cameras everywhere.”
“Are you sure it’s okay for me to hide out there?” Corey scrolled through the pictures. “I mean it looks fantastic and secure.”
“Tyler will go with you so he can work on things for you. My Mom’s old place is just the thing.” Marty stood and walked from behind his desk. “I’ll file a restraining order so your mother can’t pull any of her bullshit. You boys take care of yourselves and be sure to keep me posted.”
Corey shook Marty’s hand. “Thanks, Marty, I knew I could count on you. Dad told me to see you right away.”
Marty pulled him in for a hug. “Corey, you’re like one of my own so of course I’ll take care of you. Now get out of here and go pack. Tyler will handle the details and pick you up in a rental so you can be off.”
Tyler reached out to shake Corey's hand once more. “I’ll book us a flight for this evening and come get you like he said, if anyone bothers you, call me and I’ll get you sooner.”
As Corey reached his brownstone, he had a sense of someone watching him. After looking around and unlocking the door, he quickly went inside and locked up. Rushing to his room, Corey started throwing things into a suitcase, frantic to get away from Boston as soon as possible. His phone hadn’t stopped ringing, no matter how many phone numbers he blocked. His mother called from ten numbers just today. She was drunk, clearly trying to get his money for her habit.
At four in the afternoon, his doorbell rang just as Tyler was calling. He peeked through the curtain in the living room and answered the phone. “Hi, Tyler, I was just about to call you. My mom hasn’t stopped calling all afternoon. She’s even threatened me if I don’t return her calls.”
“I’m sure she hasn’t, if the report from the person who served her with a restraining order is to be believed. Let’s just say she didn’t take it well.” He could hear the wince in Tyler’s voice. “She was pretty much hysterical. I’m just about to your house.”
“You mean that isn’t you at the door?” Corey started to shake with fear as the doorbell rang again for the tenth time in two minutes.
“No, that’s why I’m calling, your new bodyguard should be there. His name is Frank and he is about 6’8’’ with dark hair and blue eyes. He’s the best they have to offer.” Tyler’s voice sounded clearer and he heard his car door shut. “I’m here, and I'm going to make sure it’s him. I’ve known Frank since college, he’s a good guy.”
Corey took a deep breath. “Okay, let me know if it’s him.”
The silence was interminable until he heard Tyler greet someone. “Frank, it’s good to see you! Ms. Warner, you were warned not to come within one hundred yards of your son. What are you doing at his brownstone?”
Corey’s heart skipped a beat and he struggled to breathe. “My Mom’s the one who has been relentlessly ringing the bell? How did she even get here?”
“Don’t worry, Frank already has the police on their way. Go ahead and get your things and I will meet you at your back door.” Tyler huffed out a breath and asked Corey to hold in a tense voice. He could be heard talking to Kate. “Ms. Warner, you have no reason to be on the premises, so the nice police officer will escort you away. Corey will be in touch when he’s ready through either myself or my father.”
He could hear his mother screeching in the background and another deeper voice trying to calm her and getting lower in volume. Corey swallowed hard, and decided to ask. “What’s going to happen to her?”
“We’ll discuss it, but for now she’s being removed from the premises. I’m coming up to the back door I think, can you open it?”
Hearing someone on his back porch, he slid slowly around the corner and opened the door for Tyler, quickly closing and re-locking the door behind him. He knew he looked scared and was breathing heavily when he could finally speak. “Thank God you’re here.”
Tyler stepped into his space. “Are you alright? You’re pale!”
“I totally wasn’t ready for that, or any of this!” Corey tried to breathe. “I think it’s all hit me.”
“I guessed that much.” Tyler put an arm around his shoulders and led him towards the stairs gently. “What have you packed so far? Can I help you with anything?”
“I’m not sure, I literally started throwing things in my suitcase.” Corey shook himself and moved quickly into his room. “I’ll grab clothes if you’ll grab my toiletries?”
“We have to hurry.” Tyler rushed to the bathroom. “Our flight is in three hours. We’ll head from here to North Platte and then we’ll drive the rest of the way. Granted we need to stop twice, but we’ll get there.”
“Are you sure no one knows?” Corey zipped his bag and moved to put his jacket back on. “What if someone recognizes us on the plane?”
“We’re flying in first class, before you ask it is on the company and yes we have to.” Tyler grabbed the suitcase and rolled it towards the stairs. “Grab your backpack, I packed your papers, laptop and kindle. Please put in whatever chargers you need and grab some headphones. Sunglasses and a beanie wouldn’t hurt either.”
Doing as he was asked, he finished packing his backpack and threw it over his shoulder. “Okay I’m ready, let me turn down the heat and we can go.”
As Corey did just that, Tyler headed downstairs and checked the peephole in the front door, seeing only Frank he opened the door. “Is the coast clear?”
Frank nodded. “My contact swept her out of here quickly, and will be sharing her picture with his colleagues and everyone on our staff has a copy. She won’t be allowed back. Is Mr. Weaver ready to go?”
Corey chose that moment to peek through the door frame. “As long as my crazy mom is gone!”
“We had her removed, sir.” Frank stood a little taller.
Corey winced at being called sir. He reached a hand to shake Frank’s. “Just Corey is fine. I don’t think I’m old enough to warrant being called sir.”
Frank smiled a bit and returned the shake. “Alright then, Corey. I’ve secured the vehicle that’s taking us to the airport. It will be driven by my colleague, and will take us directly to the terminal.”
As they rushed to the vehicle and climbed in, Tyler opened the door an gestured hum in. “Let’s do this!”
Corey gulped and nodded. “Okay, should I keep my hat on until then?”
“Sure, it will draw less attention. At least it’s wintertime in Boston and if you show up like that it will be normal.” Tyler buckled in and they were off to the airport.
When they arrived at Logan, the trio jumped out and grabbed their bags and made their way into the terminal. Tyler looked at his phone and gestured towards the nearest counter. “This is us, and we can check our big suitcases.”
All too soon they were rushing through the terminal again. As they went through security as quickly as they could, Corey’s anxiety grew. It was scary leaving Massachusetts for a place he didn’t know, but he knew he had to or he’d get no peace. When they reached the gate they boarded immediately, sitting in the very front row. Once they settled the flight attendant came by and Tyler ordered them both a champagne. “How about a toast?”
“A toast to what? Not getting mauled on our way into the airport?” Corey snorted with laughter but raised his glass anyway.
“To old friends becoming new friends.” Tyler smirked. “Because after your mom’s anger and helping you pack condoms and lube we’re definitely friends again.”
Corey laughed again and clinked his glass against Tyler’s. “I’ll toast to seeing old friends.”
“I’ll take it.” They both drank it in one gulp and then laughed harder. Tyler was the first to speak. “Looks like we both needed some liquid courage.”
Corey’s lips turned up into a smile. “You're right about that!”
“It’s a lot to take in, but believe it or not, you’re not my first lottery winning client.” Tyler said as he buckled up, sure to keep his voice a whisper. “We’ll get everything figured out, as well as make sure you’re protected Corey, I promise.”
“That honestly is all I want.” Corey stared out the window. “Security and freedom.”
The flights were quicker than anticipated and they were in the SUV in North Platte in what felt like no time, headed to the middle of nowhere. As they pulled up to the gate, Tyler jumped out to put in the code and climbed back in as the gate opened. “I used to come here every summer, my grandparents ranch was my happy place.”
“Thank you for sharing it with me.” Corey put his hand on Tyler’s and felt a zap of attraction that was reflected in Tyler’s eyes. He couldn’t take his eyes off of Tyler’s.
“My pleasure.” Came out as barely above a whisper and Tyler cleared his throat, looking away from Corey’s gaze. Fully closing off and becoming all business again as they pulled up to the house. “I’ll show you to your room so you can settle in. You’ll have your own bathroom, my grandparents installed one in the guest room for me.”
“Sounds heavenly.” Corey stepped out of the vehicle and looked at the dark shadowed building in front of him. “It’s much bigger than I expected.”
“They had six children, so they needed the room.” Tyler smiled up at the old building. “Let’s get settled. Are you hungry? We haven’t eaten in a while and I know there was only snacks on the second flight.”
“Shouldn’t we have stopped?”
Tyler shook his head. “No, we have a caretaker who lives on property and stocks the kitchen when one of us is coming to town.”
“I can make us something if you want?” Corey spoke as they walked through the door into a large entryway. “This is absolutely lovely.”
“Thanks, we try to keep it the way my grandparents did.” Tyler put a hand on Corey’s lower back and guided him up a wood staircase. The interior was a mix of light and dark greens, with lovingly kept photo’s and antiques. “Don’t worry, we updated the mattresses and bathrooms.”
Corey chuckled and threw his backpack on the be in the guest room Tyler had lead him to. “I know I said I was going to cook something, but I’m going to take a shower and crash. It’s been a crazy few days and I’m utterly exhausted.”
“I don’t blame you.” Tyler cleared his throat and walked to the door. “I’ll be down the hall if you need me. Goodnight Corey.”
The next morning, Corey woke to the smell of bacon. He started down the stairs and as he reached the bottom, Tyler appeared at the bottom of the stairs, startling him and causing him to trip on the second to last step. Tyler reached out to steady him and he ended up falling, landing on top of Tyler. Corey stared into his eyes and moistened his lower lip with his tongue. He cleared his throat and started to push away, his cheeks turning pink. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”
Tyler waited until Corey had regained his balance and then sat up, and moved to his feet. He dusted himself off and helped Corey up. “It’s fine, are you alright?”
“Yeah, thanks to you. Nice catch.” Corey laughed, his smile taking Tyler off guard. “I smelled the bacon and followed my nose.”
“Still obsessed with bacon huh?” Tyler teased, giving Corey a hip check. “You were always first to the kitchen when bacon was involved.”
“You know it. Is there anything I can do to help?” Corey blushed and headed to the sink to wash his hands. “I make a mean scrambled egg.”
“Already done, along with hashbrowns.” Tyler gave him a smile. “Sit and I’ll get you a plate. Then we can get some business out of the way.”
“Sounds good, I really need to protect myself and my family.” Corey sat at the table, near the laptop Tyler had booted up. While they ate the two talked about where he wanted his money and who he wanted to help. Marty called halfway through the morning, letting him know his mother had been arrested at his home. She had done some damage to the property and the security they’d hired would be on site to oversee repairs. They were also installing a state of the art security system.
It all became too much for Corey, who got up and left the table, hurrying to his room to compose himself. He didn’t feel prepared for the changes in his life. He felt adrift, like he didn’t know who to trust anymore. He heard a knock and ignored it. He hadn’t locked the door, not even thinking of it so Tyler knocked again and opened it. “Corey, are you alright? I know it’s an adjustment, but we’ll be here through it all.”
“I can’t even trust my mom. I mean I knew it before now, but it really hit me now.” Corey had a thousand yard stare. “Now that I can’t seem to trust anyone but my father, sister and you and Marty.”
“I’m glad you can trust us.” Tyler sat next to Corey, putting a hand out to him but pulling back. “I hate that this has made you go into hiding. Hopefully you will be old news in a few days, and we can get you in a safer place to live.”
“Trying to get rid of me?”
“Trying to get to a place where I don’t have to remember to be professional.” Tyler mumbled and cleared his throat.
“What would happen then?” Corey had butterflies in his stomach.
“Let’s worry about that when things settle down for you, okay?” Tyler smiled at Corey.
Corey eyed him with speculation, knowing his comment meant something. “If you say so.”
Tyler and Corey got back to work, getting his and his father’s debt paid, taking care of college for his sister and setting money for a house for them. His money was quickly protected and a structured spending plan was put into motion. His mother couldn’t touch it and he was safely where she couldn’t go.
He knew going back to the real world wasn’t going to be easy. He was glad to have Tyler on his side, hell he was glad to be around Tyler period. He was beginning to sense attraction from Tyler. Too bad Tyler was too professional to act on it, and he was too scared.
Later that night, they decided to have a glass of wine or two with dinner. One turned into three as Corey relaxed. It was good to just be able to be himself without the crazy looking over his shoulder of the past few days. Dinner long over, Tyler and Corey sat and reminisced well into the night until they were both yawning. Corey dragged Tyler to the stairs. “Come on, we’ll go up and put pajamas on and talk some more. I’ve missed this.”
“We haven’t done this in ages.” Tyler followed and headed to his room. “Meet me in my room if you’re still wanting to when you get comfortable. I have a big TV in there with Netflix.”
Corey rushed in his room, and dressed in a soft t-shirt and flannel pants. Running fingers through his hair and walking to Tyler’s room and knocking. Tyler opened the door in a black muscle shirt and plaid pants, stepping aside so Corey say the large TV mounted to the wall.
Corey waited for Tyler to close the door, swallowing his fear and pushing up on his tiptoes and kissing Tyler lightly on his lips. Pulling back as the both panted, partly out of fear, partly from awe. “I’ve wanted to do that for years.”
Tyler’s eye widened. “Really? I was scared I was reading you wrong.”
Corey and Tyler leaned in again, pouring all their emotion into a scorching kiss that curled Corey’s toes. Corey moaned as Tyler deepened the kiss, letting out a yelp when he pulled back. “Wait, wait, wait. Are you sure about this? I don’t want this to ruin our professional relationship.”
“Tyler, for the love of shit.” Corey’s tone ws long suffering. “I’ve wanted this since high school. We’ll be fine, please just fucking kiss me again.”
Tyler smiled, and obliged.