Chapter 29 New York.
Ben had just stepped out of the shower and was drying off when there were several loud knocks on his hotel door. Wondering who it might be, he looked through the peephole in the door. To his amazement, it was Mike Grayson. Forgetting he was naked except for the towel in his hands, Ben opened the door.
“Wow,” is all Mike could say.
Ben’s response was to laugh and wrap the towel around his waist.
Apparently, Mike had been in the bar across the street with some people when he saw Ben’s cab arrive. So on concluding his business there, Mike thought he would surprise Ben.
Mike wasn’t happy. They had had great sex but it had been a mistake to do it before talking business. Usually Ben would be preoccupied with the thought of sex and so a push over business wise, but not today. Mike had explained that, technically the company hadn’t gone bankrupt, it had just ceased trading and would be starting up again under a different name. Then Ben had produced the contract letter they had both signed. He told Mike he had taken legal advice and was informed that, if Mike’s card company started trading under a different name, the exclusive rights to use his photo pictures on greeting cards would no longer be valid.
Mike had argued that he had paid good money for those rights.
Ben, as a sweetener, suggested he would agree to a new contract, but on a royalty basis only, so much per card sold and give Mike full access to all his public photo collection.
Mike would not commit himself right then and there. He wanted to think it over and would call in person for breakfast the following morning.
When Mike asked if Ben was free for lunch, He couldn’t accept as he had a prior appointment.
Ben found Peter Snow waiting at the entrance next to a guard checking bags.
“Why, the guard?” Ben asked.
“Oh after the break in at our other gallery, the insurance people suggested it. Whatever we pay for the security, we save in increased sales.
Looking puzzled Ben repeated, “Increased sales? Sorry I don’t understand.”
Peter laughed then explained, “Your photo pictures have made this place and the one in San Francisco must see on the gay tourist map. We’re now included as a stop on the walking tour route and a guard on the door in both galleries makes people feel safe.”
When they got to the main room, although his work was prominently displayed, Ben could see other things were now on sale.
“Business has increased greatly because of your work since the tours started. Peter said. “And your idea to provide envelopes the right size for the post cards to fit into has increased sale of them two fold. People are sending them as a substitute for the greeting cards, as they now can be sent through the post without causing embarrassment to the person who receives them.”
Do you think they’ve permanently replaced the greeting cards?”
“From a purely business point of view we would like them back. It’s another product to sell.”
Peter now told Ben that was the main reason he wanted a meeting to get his permission to do just that, to produce their own greeting cards not as photos but actual printed ones, of course under licence, also a range of T- shirts. He took Ben to his office and brought out a couple of T-shirt samples showing Ben’s photo pictures emblazoned on the front of them. On the reverse side, one caption read. “I wish this was me,” another read, “I wish it was you.” “So what do you think of them?”
Ben replied, “They’re interesting, but would they sell and what sizes would one have to stock?”
Peter laughed, “As you know we gays are a funny lot. I have already promoted some and find the size doesn’t matter. The guys don’t wear them; they display them on the wall.”
“Okay do you have samples of the cards you’d like to produce?”
Peter showed him this time a mock-up of what the finished printed cards would look like.
“Right, let me get this straight, are you suggesting producing both these items just to sell here or to supply to the wider gay shops?”
“The idea was just for here to start with,” Peter stated.
“Let me think about it and I’ll let you know in the next couple of days.”
Peter offered to take him out to eat but Ben declined as he had other arrangements. He was having supper with the twins, and whatever else was on the menu.
After supper, Ben returned with the twins to his hotel, where they chatted for a while before having sex and more sex until they fell asleep from exhaustion. At three am, the buzz of Ben’s phone awoke him. It was Danny ringing him as requested. They discussed the two business options and agreed to go with Mike when he came back in the morning because of his distribution network, and allow the Snow’s to proceed with the T-Shirts and, if they liked, a printed greeting card to be sold in their galleries only.
Ben had to break contact with Danny rather abruptly because Martino was awake and doing things to Ben which needed his full attention.
The following morning, they all slept in late
Martino awoke first and hearing the knocking on the door opened it. He invited Mike in who had asked if this was Ben’s room or had he made a mistake.
Mike took his shoes and trousers off and slipped into bed next to Ben followed by Martino. Mike found it funny laying there with all four of them in the bed. He kissed Ben who, then opened his eyes and seeing it was Mike, just smiled and snuggled up closer and went straight back to sleep again.
Later after breakfast, the twins left, leaving Ben and Mike to talk business.
Mike had agreed to the royalty basis and had already set things in motion. As they were speaking, cards were being produced. Ben, using the business facilities in the hotel, got the agreement, typed, which they then both signed.
After saying their goodbyes, Ben contacted Peter Snow with the go ahead for merchandising both products, with the proviso that they were only to be sold in their galleries.