Taylor Tuesday is back again for another week! Chapter Nine!
Please note that this story is copyrighted and no part of Dirty Mess may be copied without my permission. It’s also unedited work.
The vibration of a phone dragged Rip out of his hot dreams involving a sexy blond and his delectable mouth. He groaned, pressing his face closer to his warm pillow. Except, it didn’t feel much like a pillow. It was too hard, too bony. He blinked, his eyelashes fluttering as he focused on his surroundings. It definitely wasn’t a pillow, because the warmness he felt was Taylor’s shoulder.
The first thing he noticed was that Taylor was still fully dressed, which happened to be a big disappointment. Or maybe not. If he had sex with this gorgeous man in his bed, he wanted to remember the night come the next morning. But his sleep-fogged brain couldn’t provide much information to him. He could barely remember going out the night before, let alone how they both ended up in his bed.
The phone against his thigh vibrated harder and he grumbled as he reached for the stupid thing, tapping hard on the accept call button without looking at who was ringing.
“What do you want?” He ran a palm over his face, trying but failing to wipe the drowsy feelings away. A headache throbbed at his forehead, another reminder of the amount of beer he consumed at the bar the night before.
“Who is this?” The man on the other end of the line was angry if the tense, harsh tone he spoke with was an indicator.
“Who is this?” Rip snapped, repeating the exact same words as his caller. Who the fuck called this early in the morning anyway? He glanced at the clock on his bedroom wall. It was eight in the fucking morning.
The angry sigh on the other end filtered through the phone. “Where’s my son? Are you the one who’s fucking him?”
His son? Ripley frowned and tugged the phone away from his ear, glancing at it. It was a Samsung, and definitely not his iPhone. Shit. It was Taylor’s phone.
“If I was the one fucking him, it’d be none of your business,” Rip replied. If this was Taylor’s father, this was the one who cut him off from cash. Any father that did that, didn’t deserve his politeness. Not to mention he was too hungover to give a shit.
“Listen here, you little money-hungry—”
The phone was torn from Rip’s ear and Taylor stared at him with wide eyes as he slammed it to his ear. “Dad?”
Even though Taylor had it pressed tightly against his face, Rip could still hear the angry voice on the other end. “Who the hell was that, Taylor? Are you doing gay stuff with him?”
Taylor’s eyes narrowed, and he slipped out of bed. Ripley expected him to leave the room but was surprised to see him hover close. “Gay stuff? You know I’m gay. Of course, I do gay stuff with guys. Christ. Why are you acting like an asshole?”
Even though he still stood close, Rip couldn’t hear what Taylor’s father was saying anymore. He only had the pleasure of listening to Taylor’s soft, melodic voice. It stayed even, calm, and Rip had to commend him on his patience. He wouldn’t have stayed that calm if he was being snapped at by his father. If he still talked to his father, that was.
“No. Ripley is a co-worker, not my boyfriend.”
Rip smirked and leaned over the bed, closer to Taylor. “But I’m aiming to change that, Mr. Burnham.”
Taylor raised his eyebrows at him and Rip shrugged in response. He wanted to get a bite out of the old man, and apparently it worked. Taylor heaved a sigh. “He was joking, Dad. Dad, listen to me. What are you talking about? How did you know about Dirty Mess?”
Rip listened intently as he could, but acted cool at the same time, as though he was doing nothing more than lying on the bed on his back. He didn’t need Taylor to know that he was eavesdropping. He was just a cool, relaxed guy resting on his bed. Yeah.
“Peter Mazzoroni told you? How did he know about it?” Taylor snorted after a few moments. “You can’t just stumble across it, Dad. Congratulations, I think your business partner just came out to you.” Another pause, another snort. “Dad, listen to me, you were the one who cut me off. If I want to film scenes with a hot guy to make some money, I will. There’s nothing you can do about it. So, get over your little temper tantrum and grow up.” Taylor ripped the phone from his ear and jabbed the end call button. He glared at it, his grip tightening around the fragile Samsung.
Rip began a slow clap, his palms slapping together in loud, exaggerated movements.
It earned him an amused smile from Taylor. “Why are you clapping?”
Rip cocked his head, smirked for good measure. “Because you told your father off in the most spectacular fashion. I’m impressed.”
“I just ruined my chance of him giving me money again.”
Taylor didn’t appear disappointed by this, so Rip shrugged. “You don’t need his money anyway. You’re an adult, time to live by your own rules.”
“You think so?” Taylor fell onto the bed beside Rip and stared down at him. “My father earns nearly a billion dollars a year. It’s been nice living off that.” The smile on his face told Rip that he didn’t really care about being cut off. At least, that the money wasn’t that important to him.
Rip whistled. “A billion dollars a year? Who’s he ripping off?”
“A lot of old, rich men who think the sun shines out of my dad’s ass.”
“Does it? Does the sun shine out of your dad’s ass?”
Taylor laughed. “I haven’t checked. Maybe you could ask him to show you?”
Rip’s lips twisted into a naughty grin. “I’d rather see your ass.”
“It’s nothing spectacular.” Taylor’s tongue swiped over his bottom lip, his gaze trailing along Rip’s body.
“From what I’ve seen in those tight underwear, I beg to disagree.”
Taylor’s stare flicked back to Rip’s and he sighed. “We can’t do this, Rip. We’re co-workers.”
He cocked his head. “And?”
“I need this job. If something happened between us and it went downhill….” Taylor shook his head and slipped out of the bed. He put on his jacket and grabbed his socks and shoes, sliding them on next.
Rip watched him carefully. Taylor didn’t so much as glance at him, intently focused on the task of putting on his discarded clothes. It was a pity, because Rip would have preferred him to take more off rather than putting it back on. He didn’t say anything though. He wasn’t going to force Taylor into an uncomfortable position, but at the same time, Rip didn’t back away from a challenge. He lived off adrenaline, and it was clear Taylor was as interested as he was.
“Let’s go out for a drink tonight.”
Taylor frowned at him while he grabbed his phone off the mattress. “We did that last night and look how it ended up.”
“Not with the guys, just us.”
“I just told you that we can’t do this.”
“Do what? We’re doing nothing. Just a couple of guys going out for a drink.” Rip shifted back against the headboard and rested his hands behind his head. He smirked. “A couple of drinks at a sports bar. We could take a few pictures for the fans too, to feed their hunger. The more we have them invested in our relationship, the more they’ll want to see from us.”
“And the more money we’ll make?” Taylor crossed his arms, a smile playing on his pretty lips.
Rip clucked his tongue on the top of his mouth and winked. “You got it, baby.”
Taylor rolled his eyes. “Fine. On one condition.”
He grinned. “Don’t ever call me baby again.”
Rip laughed. “Not a fan of the pet name?”
“It’s a terrible pet name.”
Rip felt Tate’s narrowed eyes burning into his back, but if he ignored it long enough, he hoped his cousin would go away. Unfortunately, he knew him well enough to know he wouldn’t.
“You’re going on a date with Taylor.”
It wasn’t a question, so Ripley didn’t respond. He fixed the collar of his shirt and took a step in front of the mirror, checking his clothes over. He looked damn good if he did say so himself.
“Is it a date?” Tate moved in his line of sight and crossed his arms.
“Why are you so worried about my love life, Tate?” Rip raised an eyebrow at him briefly, before he grabbed his wallet and shoved it in his jeans’ pocket.
“I’m not. You can date whoever you want. I’m worried about this company, Rip. How can you not be?”
“I thought you liked Taylor.”
“I like him just fine. Now it’s his father I’m worried about.”
Rip frowned. “Why?”
“Because if what you said is right and this man is worth billions, don’t you think he’ll have the power to destroy our company? He clearly doesn’t like Taylor being apart of it.” Tate’s arms dropped, and his lips twisted. “Taylor isn’t the only one relying on their wage from here. We have others to think about.”
“Are you saying we should drop Taylor?”
Tate groaned. “No, I’m not saying that, but maybe now more than ever, we need to be careful.”
Rip shook his head and gripped Tate’s shoulder, squeezing it. “You worry too much, Tate.”
“I seem to be the only one worrying about our company.” He rolled his shoulder, knocking Rip’s hand off it, and took a step away from him. “You’re treating this company like it’s disposable, Rip.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? How many times have I fought for this company? I built Dirty Mess from the ground up, Tate. I fought for it when others thought it was a stupid idea. I made it profitable. What makes you think I would ever consider it disposable?” Rage like he’d never felt before burned in his stomach. Dirty Mess was like his child, born from his despair and depression. He’d been lost when the idea came to him, and Dirty Mess saved him, and Tate knew that because he’d been by Rip’s side from the beginning.
Tate sighed. “I didn’t mean to say that.”
“Yes, you did.” Rip’s jaw clenched, but he pushed down the anger. He had to remind himself that this was Tate, the one who’d helped him make this company what it was today. “I would never risk Dirty Mess’s integrity. Taylor is one of us, he’s part of the family now, which means we’re not dropping him because of who his father is.”
“But do you know who his father is?” Tate grabbed his phone, his fingers flying over the keyboard, before he shoved it toward Rip.
Rip grabbed it and stared down at the google search on it. Tate had searched the name ‘David Burnham’ and the first search result was a Wikipedia page, so Rip clicked on it. His gaze skimmed over the information, most of it meaning nothing to him, until it reached an interesting section which talked about a familiar company.
“He’s the David Burnham, the investor who took down Pierre Technologies. And do you know why he took them down? Because Pierre insulted him at a party. Pierre Technology was worth billions as well.” Tate shook his head. “You’re risking our company, Rip, and from what you told me, you pissed him off. I like Taylor, but he’s not the only member in this company.”
Rip frowned down at the phone. He hadn’t known who Taylor’s father was, and now he did, he wasn’t sure what to make of it. He didn’t want Taylor’s future to be decided because of who David Burnham was to him. It wasn’t fair to Taylor, but he was beginning to understand where Tate was coming from. He’d heard all about the takedown. Burnham had destroyed Pierre Technologies. Destroyed wasn’t even the right word for it. He annihilated them, and their stocks crashed. Their investors bailed, and it left the company with nothing but a mountain of debt and jobless employees.
“Do you see why I’m worried? We have nothing on Pierre Technologies and look what he did to them.” Tate ran a palm over his face. “Fuck.”
“I’ll talk to him.”
Tate’s eyes widened. “To who? David Burnham?”
Rip snorted. “No. At least not yet. Taylor. I’ll talk to Taylor and see what he can tell me about his dad.”
“Do you think he’ll tell you the truth?”
“Has he lied to us yet?” Rip squeezed his shoulder. “I’ll sort this out, Tate. That son of a bitch won’t touch us.”
“I hope you’re right.” Tate shook his head and blinked up at him. “Rip, I’m not trying to stop you from being happy. Hell, if anyone deserves to be happy, it’s you. And Taylor is a good guy and it’s not his fault who his dad is, but this could destroy us.”
“It won’t. I promise.”
Taylor was waiting for him at the bar. He stood against the bar, his elbows resting on the antique, wood as he chatted to the young bartender on the other side. He was a sight for sore eyes, as gorgeous as they came in tight jeans that encased his ass like it was a piece of art. His black tank top clung to his body and the familiar gold chain hung from his neck. He didn’t notice Rip until he laid a hand on Taylor’s back, causing the other man to jump in surprise and swing toward him.
Rip laughed and held up his hands. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Taylor’s body relaxed. “I was just making sure you weren’t a creep that was getting handsy.”
“Who says I’m not one?” Rip waggled his eyebrows.
Taylor rolled his eyes. “What do you want to drink?”
He waved him off and turned toward the bartender. The young man Taylor had been talking to had wandered off, but Rip’s favourite wasn’t far away. “Abbie, sweetheart, can I have a beer?”
Abbie winked at him. “Which one tonight, baby?”
“Surprise me.” He cocked his head toward Taylor. “What do you want to drink?”
Taylor gestured to the beer in his hand. “Already started without you.”
“I like your style.” Rip grabbed a twenty out of his wallet and swapped it with the beer in Abbie’s hand. “Keep the change, sweetheart.”
Abbie fanned her face. “Handsome and a generous tipper, can you be any more charming?” She winked at him again and chuckled as she moved on to her next customer.
“Come here often?” Taylor grinned.
“Often enough.” Rip led him over to one of the few spare tables and took a seat. This place wasn’t far from the Mel’s Bar, but Rip preferred it. It was quieter, aside from the chatter from already buzzed patrons, mostly because it didn’t have a live band or loud music drumming from huge speakers.
“This is a nice place,” Taylor said, taking a sip from his beer.
“I like it.” Rip took a gulp of his own drink and by the time he was done, he’d drained half a bottle. When he finally put his beer down, Taylor was frowning at him.
“You’re not going to get drunk as a skunk again, are you? I don’t want to have to carry you home again. I’ll leave you on the sidewalk this time.”
Rip chuckled. “Nope. Steeling my nerves.”
“Ah. I’m not that scary.” Taylor’s cheeks flushed, and he stared down at the bottle cupped in his palm. “Is it because we’re going to take photos for the fans? We don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.”
Rip fell back against his chair and laughed. “Taylor, we film in front of a camera half naked. What gave you the idea that I was afraid of taking a few pictures for fans?”
Taylor’s cheeks grew a ruddier crimson and he groaned, covering his face with his hand. “I don’t know. I’m not used to this.”
“Why aren’t you? Your dad is a pretty famous guy. I mean, taking down Pierre Technologies took balls.” It slipped out so easily, so quickly, that Rip didn’t have time to prepare for the look of shock and betrayal that Taylor sent him. The rawness on his face felt like a knife straight through Rip’s heart.
“You researched my dad.”
Taylor’s voice was usually melodic and soft, but right then it was sharp and unforgiving, like he’d been betrayed be someone he trusted.
Rip didn’t want to bring Tate into it because Tate was the one the guys trusted. He didn’t want Taylor to look at Tate differently, so he merely nodded. “I needed to know who I was dealing with. You said he was a billionaire, which means he had to have a reputation.”
Taylor snorted and dropped his hand back to his beer. It tightened around the glass. “And? What do you want to know?”
“We’re worried that—”
“He’ll destroy Dirty Mess because I’m a part of it?”
Rip swallowed around the bile in his throat. Taylor wasn’t looking at him now, because he was too busy focusing on the bottle in his hand, and Rip hated it. He hated how he felt like he’d betrayed Taylor.
“You have nothing to worry about. My father only cares about people that insult himself or his company.”
“But you’re his son. With you being a dirty boy could ruin his reputation, right?”
“For that to happen, people would have to know he has a son.” Finally, Taylor’s stare rose to meet Rip’s and it ripped his heart in half. The pure agony and pain in his gaze left Rip feeling like a useless piece of shit. “The only ones who know are his close business partners and they have a contract with him. By telling anyone else about me, it’d result in a breach of the contract and Dad would bankrupt them within a week. They’re not stupid enough to do it.”
Rip didn’t know what the right thing to say was. He wanted to apologize, but he doubted that it would help. So he didn’t have to say anything, just watched as Taylor rose from his chair and came around the table toward him. He moved so quickly that Rip didn’t have time to react when he pressed a kiss to Rip’s cheek, as a click came from a phone in his hand that Rip didn’t even see him holding.
“What was that?” Rip asked as Taylor tapped on his phone.
“That was the photo you wanted. I posted it on Twitter.” He shoved the phone back into his pocket. “Now, if we’re done pretending, I’m going home.” Taylor’s tone left no room for argument, but as he made to walk away, Rip grabbed his wrist anyway.
Taylor spun toward him and for the first time since they’d met, Rip saw an unkept storm raging behind those pretty, blue eyes. “Why? Everything has been said, or are you going to fire me? Because if you are, you should just get it over and done with.”
“We’re not going to fire you.”
Taylor ripped his wrist out of his hold. “Then leave me alone. We’ll continue on with this charade, Rip, but I’m not here to be your friend, or anything more. Because friends don’t go behind friend’s backs and research their dads.” He shook his head, his narrowed gaze as sharp as ever. “You could have just asked me about him. I would have told you the truth.”
Then he spun on his heel and stormed out of the bar. Rip didn’t follow him. He knew when to leave someone alone and it was one of those moments. He groaned, falling back into his chair, and dropped his head in his hands. How could he fuck something up so badly? All he’d wanted was a date, yet he’d let Tate’s anxious words infiltrate his mind. He’d let the worried thoughts of Dirty Mess’s future ruin something he wanted. Damn.
“Well, if you’d planned on getting into his pants, Rip, you failed.”
Rip glanced up at Abbie, who clucked her tongue at him as he grabbed Taylor’s half drunken bottle of beer.
“You’re telling me something I already know.”
Ta da! I hope you enjoyed ❤