An excerpt from Lord and Master 2: Taking Work Home
Mark and Steven are visiting Steven's parents for a family party over the New Year's Eve weekend. Mark knows Steven's parents, but it's the first time he's met Steven's sisters and their husbands. Some of them aren't all that enthralled with Steven's relationship with a man young enough to be his son:
"So what's the PhD in?" Leonard asked. "Something useful, I take it?"
"Chemical engineering, like Steven." Which Leonard undoubtedly knew. "I did an industrial sponsorship, and my supervisor there knew Steven was looking for a research assistant and suggested that I apply."
"Oh, yes, Steven said he'd got you through that old university friend of his. I suppose he thought that since you had more interests in common than chemistry…"
Steven said, "We didn't know about that detail until after I'd decided to offer Mark the job. Sanjay hadn't bothered to mention it to either of us." He put his arm around Mark's waist. "I'm not complaining now, even if I was annoyed with Sanjay at the time."
Cathy raised an eyebrow at Steven. "Annoyed with him? For finding you a handsome young man?"
"Exactly. I thought he was matchmaking again," Steven said. "You know what he's like."
Mark didn't think this was entirely fair on Sanjay. "He still insists that he just thought we'd get on well in the office. I'm inclined to believe him. After all, we did."
"I'll just bet you did," Leonard said, looking Mark up and down. "You must have thought you'd fallen on your feet, getting a job working for someone like Steven and then finding out he's gay."
Steven's father coughed gently, then said, "Leonard, your mother-in-law will probably want help with the tea tray, with this many cups on it."
"Ah, right. I'll just go and see how she's doing." Leonard got up, rather heavily, and made for the door.
Steven said, "Might as well sit down," and sat down next to his sister, leaving enough room for Mark to sit on the other side of him. He patted the cushion. "You, too. For once, you don't have to make the tea."
That was true. But he'd also been sitting down for a while already, and busy before that. "I need to use the loo first. Back in a minute."
As he closed the living room door behind him, he realised that he'd been there just often enough now that he didn't feel that he had to ask first to be polite. He was starting to fit in. Though he still winced as he heard Leonard's voice, muffled by the half-closed kitchen door but with the words still distinguishable.
"So that's Steven's midlife crisis, then? I suppose it'll be a sports car next, to go with the pretty young blond."
"He's a nice young man, Leonard, and I think it's got a lot more to do with them being good friends than with Steven suddenly feeling his age."
At least Steven's mother seemed to like him, but he didn't think he wanted to overhear any more of the conversation. He made his way to the toilet and shut the door behind him with some relief. He'd expected that there might be hostile comment about his relationship with Steven, but he hadn't expected it to be that fast or that blatant. It was reassuring that Mr Frost had stepped in to stop it, and without making a big deal out of it.
Now he knew why Steven had tensed up when his mother had told them who'd already arrived. This was obviously nothing new between Leonard and Steven. And Leonard was probably one of the people who'd consider a long-term partner of Steven's to be a threat to his own interests. There'd been that jab about Steven being unable to keep a boyfriend. An unsubtle warning to Mark that he needn't expect to hang on to Steven?