I was meeting close friends John and Ryan at the club. They were bringing Mark, a friend of John’s from university who’d recently moved to the city. That might sound like they were trying to hook us up but I’d never needed their help. They knew I’d end the evening with him anyway, as long as he was reasonably good-looking.
He was better, but much too controlled for my tastes. The green-hazel eyes were calm and probing, all at the same time, the mouth with its thin upper lip and full lower lip didn’t get a lot of exercise as if he thought through every thing before he spoke, not a single blond strand out of place.
That tall built body was still encased in dress-up clothes from work and he barely drank. 28 years of age and already an old man. Why was everyone working in finance so damned correct and uptight?
He seemed almost disinterested in the scene around us, content with focusing on John and Ryan as they played catch up. He appeared equally disinterested in me, not gawking or trying to impress. I got the feeling he was amused by all the attention I was receiving and wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
It was a little unsettling too, to talk to someone whose eyes focused so completely on my own without any of the familiar shifting across my face or down my body.
“What do you do?” he asked me shortly after we’d been introduced.
“Modeling,” I said briefly.
Anyone else would have said ‘oh, you’re a model, how exciting’. Not him. Mr.Finance just nodded. I already knew he was a business analyst.
“Paid to lie around and look pretty while the rest of us work hard for a decent living,” John smirked.
“Fuck off,” I said idly. It was an old game.
My face would probably never be plastered across bill-boards but I was at the stage where there was enough steady work coming in that I didn’t have to worry. There had been a tough couple of years after I’d left home where I’d gone the waiting tables route and even been part of the service eye candy behind the bar in clubs like the one I was sitting in but they were long behind me now.
Ryan frowned at me. “You’ll be drinking too much again if you don’t watch it.”
Of us three, he was the family man, the worry-wart.
I raised my glass with a mocking grin and downed what was in it. I was in one of my moods. Restless and edgy. I definitely had to take someone home tonight. I didn’t often, the rest-room at the back of the club was perfectly serviceable, in more ways than one. But not today.
The evening wore on. I laughed, I entertained, I flirted with the hopefuls who came trolling. And proceeded to get a nice buzz going. I also listened to Mark reminiscing with John or just talking, reluctantly conceding that razor-sharp intellect.
We were alone at the table. Ryan and John were now out on the dance floor. It was after midnight, time to go home.
I turned to him and placed a hand high up on his thigh. “Want to go home?” It was purely rhetorical.
“No thanks,” he said politely.
“They’ll understand.” A little impatiently, I indicated our friends on the dance floor.
He smiled. “I’m sure.” I waited but it seemed he was done.
“Let me guess, you don’t fuck on the first day,” I mocked. I leaned in closer, my breath washing over his ear, giving him my best camera look. Never failed. “I’d love to change your mind,” I whispered.
Fuck, always these damn hoops to jump through, even when they wanted you so bad they were salivating.
“No thanks.” Again the mild tone, the disinterest. And he meant it, I could tell.
I leaned back again, mind clearing slightly at these unexpected events, removing my hand from his thigh and watching him, really watching him.
He’d told John he was single. Had he lied?
“You with someone?”
He shook his head. “Not in a while.”
He sipped from his glass, eyes moving back to watch the dancing, almost dismissing me.
“Why not?” I asked finally. I wasn’t upset, just curious. Whatever it was we’d work around it, and if not, I honestly didn’t care, probably take too long to loosen him up in bed anyway. I wanted some fun tonight and there were willing others. I could see the redhead from last week practically bouncing with nervous energy as he lay siege near the door…
“You’re not really my type.”
That snapped my attention right back. Excuse me? Dark-hair, midnight blue-eyes, washboard abs was not his type? A face that had made a jaded agent’s breath catch as I served him drinks five years ago not his type?
I was so startled I let out a disbelieving laugh. “What?”
He raised his brows at me but stayed silent. Oh my god, he meant it. He really meant it.
I could feel the anger starting in a place deep inside, gathering steam, pouring through my veins, filling every part of me, leaving my body almost tingling at the intensity. But damned if I’d let him have the last word.
“Well, uptight corporate whores are not my type either but that’s why we’d have done it in the dark.”
I got nothing for my pains. No reaction, just this bland look and more raised eye-brows as if he’d half-expected that reaction. That stung more than anything else. Who the fuck did he think he was, thinking he had me figured out in 5 minutes…
Being in front of a camera for a living gives you some acting skills. I used them.
“Oh well,” I shrugged. “I feel like a three-some anyway.”
I left, taking the red-head and his friend with me.
I worked even harder than usual to please that night, giving an academy performance to the one-man audience in my head. They were delirious with pleasure, I was more hollow than ever.
Of course I saw him again. John and Ryan were my closest friends and they seemed to like him, so that alone meant I had to put up with him. No matter how much he made my teeth hurt. Also he was at the club as often as I was, usually in the company of my friends. Though he did get his fair share of attention, I never saw him do more than casually converse with someone. That pleased me, especially since he had to have heard all about my reputation in bed by then. It wasn’t just my looks that got me my fan following.
Most nights we’d all be sitting at a table when I’d receive an offer I couldn’t turn down. John would wink slyly and Ryan would look worried. Mark would give me one of those bland looks I was beginning to hate. I’d make sure my latest offer returned from the rest-room weak-kneed and starry-eyed. Prurient bastard. Not his type, my ass.
One night several weeks later we all exited the club together, laughing and giving each other a hard time. As usual, I’d opted to go home alone. Several feet from the entrance was a little alley where light from the street-lamp did not reach.
I smelt Coop before I saw him. He stood half-hidden by the shadows, in his sad excuse of a coat, skin grimy with dirt, matted hair all over the place. He didn’t often come by the club. When he did it always meant the same thing.
He grinned at me now, showing a mouthful of yellowed, rotting teeth. “Hey man.”
“Hey, you ugly son of a bitch.”
He grinned wider, but stayed several feet away reacting, no doubt, to the presence of the others. “It’s not too bad tonight.” He meant the weather.
“Yep. Burgers are good tonight too. Knock on the kitchen door out back if you feel like it, tell them I sent you. Say,” I dug around in my coat, “you want some smokes?”
“You gave in again? Three years you b’in trying to quit.”
I shrugged. “Some day, Coop. Can’t let my agent catch me though.”
He pocketed the smokes I handed him, shuffling cautiously slower to get them and hurrying away with a ‘See ya, Matt.’
“Enabler,” Ryan accused.
In a way, he was right but I had much rather Coop spend the little money he got on food than on the cigarettes he craved.
Instead I sent Ryan a lascivious look. “Some day you have to try a guy with most teeth missing.”
He shuddered while John and I laughed.
“So you smoke now?” Mark asked quietly.
“You heard the man,” I said mockingly. “Three years of trying to quit.”
I refused to explain further. None of his business if I chose to have with me packs of cigarettes I didn’t need. I turned my attention to Ryan and John who were teasing each other about dentures. I joined in.
Thanksgiving was coming up. The city was primed for the start of the holiday season. I hated every one of them. John and Ryan always made sure I knew I had a place at their table but I never stayed in the city to ever take them up on their offer. Instead I went on a vacation taking someone with me, occasionally several someones, and returning only when it was all over. I made sure it was worth their while too. It was usually the biggest party of their lives.
The topic at the table that night of course centered around menus and invites and the big F word. Family.
Mark wasn’t going to be able to visit home this time so Ryan had insisted he go over to their house. John’s family came over mostly for Christmas and Ryan didn’t have any left.
“What about your family?” Mark asked me.
“What about them?” I returned.
“Aren’t they coming over?”
I wrinkled my forehead. “Not unless they have some sort of homing device on me somewhere,” I said.
John laughed. Ryan stared down at his glass.
“You don’t talk to your family?” Mark asked. That’s right, be judgmental ass-hole.
“No, do you?” I asked squarely.
“Yes.” He watched me silently before saying “What about them? Don’t your parents call you?”
“Let’s see. My father’s probably praying for my demon-inhabited queer soul in between praying for my mother to remember her duty and return home and my mother,” I grinned, “probably hasn’t stopped running from us, even after 20 years.”
John laughed like he was supposed to, Mark just looked at me thoughtfully. Ryan changed the subject.
The vacation was a disaster. The guy was hunky and charming, even sweet. It did no good. The restlessness was worse. I’d never waited for the days to pass like this before.
The day I got home, John and Ryan came to see me at my apartment. It was tradition.
When I opened the door for them, Ryan held up two big bags of food.
“Welcome home,” he smiled.
“I just came for souvenirs,” John said grinning at me. I joshed him on the arm, then looked at Mark over his head, nodding curtly.
He stopped just inside the door.
“So what do you think?” I asked him challengingly because I could see his eyes wandering over everything, assessing, probing.
He looked at me. “Suits you,” he said cryptically then strolled into the kitchen where Ryan was unloading the food.
Suits me? What the hell did that mean? I followed him seething quietly because it seemed like I’d never beat him in this game.
My living arrangements always surprised the people who saw it. The neighborhood was far from fancy. It wasn’t a designer-dressed model’s apartment. Actually I was still living in the third apartment I’d rented after moving to the city. It was one of two that was creaking at the joints, well-lived, with a tiny balcony and French-style railings. I loved it. It had character and it had Eric.
I could see Mark studying the photographs and the drawings taped on the refrigerator door. Some were of Ryan and John, most were of a little boy with black eyes and a shy smile.
“Him,” I said then paused dramatically. “I’m waiting for to attain legal status.” Actually he was the reason I didn’t bring guys home. Strangers made him nervous.
I heard John chortle in the living room but Ryan rolled his eyes. “That’s his kid.”
Mark did the smallest of double-takes, looking at me with his eye-brows raised. I grudgingly explained. “Neighbor’s kid. Lives downstairs.”
Mark studied the pictures. “He’s young.”
“Seven,” I said, trying not to sound proud.
John wandered over and stood leaning on the kitchen wall. “Abusive father,” he explained briefly. “Took off few years ago, thank God. Michele works very hard and Matt here,” he looked at me fondly, “steps in for Eric when he can.”
I faked modesty and he made a gagging sound.
“Is no-one going to eat?” Ryan complained.
Later as we left my place, Eric came running out of his apartment. He’d probably heard the footsteps on the stairs through the walls and now stopped abashed at being confronted with so many faces.
“Hi big guy,” I said smiling at him.
“Hi, I had holidays too,” he told me shyly. I’d said good-bye before I left on my vacation.
I held my hand out and he slid his little hand into mine, gripping it tightly.
“Hi Eric,” Ryan said and John reached over to ruffle his hair. He accepted their advances now, having seen them with me so often.
“This is Mark,” I told him and he mumbled in response to Mark’s kind greeting.
“Are you going out?” he asked me, expression a little pleading.
“Only for a bit. I’ll be back soon.”
He brightened. “Will you come and I can show you my new toys I got from Santa?”
“No,” I said. “You’ll make me play your boring games and I have interesting things to do.”
At one time, he’d cringed from all teasing, retreating inward. Now he tugged at my arm and jumped from one foot to the other.
“Uncle Mattttttttt,” he said. Then, “Can we watch TV?” That meant he’d gotten told off for it.
“Are you in trouble?” I asked him sternly.
“No,” he widened his eyes. Then with true child-like deviousness he added “We can watch TV and you can ask mom for ice-cream.”
“Then I’ll get in trouble.”
“Say please,” he instructed seriously.
I pretended to consider. “Then I get a bigger share.”
He chewed on his lower lip. “Maybe you’ll get full and I’ll have to finish it for you,” he said, sounding hopeful.
“Brat.” I grabbed him affectionately round his neck and he squealed, then ran off.
“Told you,” Ryan said to Mark, looking amused. “His kid.”
I looked at Mark defiantly and to my astonishment he reached over and brushed my back lightly in what I’d have called a gesture of affection coming from anyone else, smiling as he did. Then he walked ahead, leaving me staring at his back.
I had to leave town for a shoot. Frigid cold and they wanted shirtless. The photographer demanded freshly fallen snow. It took three days to get the conditions right. Five inches of pure white snow against a hillside and the obligatory brunette, blonde and black to help sell over-priced perfume. I couldn’t wait to get back home. I was so restless I drove everyone crazy.
I went over to the club as soon as I got back. It was early and I knew it would be a while till everyone else got there. Flirting helped pass the time quite nicely as the club slowly filled up. Ryan and John arrived eventually and I waved them over. We chatted. I bitched about the other models and how cold it had been while we drank our beer.
“Oh yeah, Mark has a date,” John said brightly.
I stared. “What?” I said stupidly.
“Hmm, out with him right now.” He laughed. “About time, I say.”
It became hard to swallow. Ryan glared at John then shot me a half-glance.
“Actually I think he couldn’t say no. The guy’s in the business.” He made a vague motion of his hand.
The thought of Mark having trouble saying no was almost hysterical. If he was out with this guy, it was because he wanted to be.
“Poor Mark,” I said mockingly.
I stayed 15 minutes longer. Counting each minute in my head then casually turning to them. “I think I’ll take off.”
As I was leaving, Pete came up to me. Sliding an arm around my waist, he gave me a sultry look from those beautiful black eyes. ‘Take me with you?”
“No,” I shook my head, smiling so it wouldn’t sting.
“Come on,” he wheedled.
I growled in my throat and slapped that firm behind, making him squeal. “No. You’re going to exhaust me and I need my rest for tomorrow,” I lied.
He grinned, then left with a cheeky squeeze of my ass. I was almost sorry I had sent him away but knew I wasn’t going to change my mind. I went home and got drunk.
The next day I walked. And walked. It was like I almost couldn’t bear to be inside my own skin. There was no work to distract me either. Eventually my restlessness drove me to the club again.
I sat at the bar by myself staring down at my drink. It was only late afternoon, too early for the usual crowd which suited me just fine. I planned to be gone well before they got there so I wouldn’t have to make conversation.
At some point I looked up into the mirror in front of me and saw Mark and his date sitting in a booth behind me. I watched them.
The guy was older, around thirty-five maybe. Not a handsome face but certainly with character. Body that was a little too tall and broad, and not all of it well-muscled. Clothes that spoke subtly of power and wealth. They clearly had lots to talk about. Business, no doubt.
I saw Mark getting up for more drinks. He came to stand beside me. I had to say something.
“So that’s your type?” I asked, smiling spitefully.
He gave me a mild glance, then left taking the drinks with him. I went back to staring at my drink. I couldn’t leave now. I’d have to stay longer.
Twenty minutes, I told myself. I started to count them off in my head slowly. When I reached 18 in my head, I saw them getting up to leave. Damn it!
I added another 10 minutes to the count.
They left. I imagined them outside, hailing a cab or perhaps they’d driven there. They’d get in, the car would pull away, get further and further from the club. Perhaps when it reached the corner, I could leave.
Mark walked back in and headed straight to me. He pried the glass out of my hands, placed it on the counter.
“Go home,” he said.
“I can’t,” I said. “I’ve been promised great sex.”
He didn’t look very amused. “You need sleep,” he told me. “Go home, get some sleep.”
I hadn’t slept well, even with all the alcohol. I swear when he said that though I wanted to put my head on the counter and sleep right there. We stared to each-other and he made a rough sound in his throat.
“I got you a cab, it’s outside. Now go home.”
I laughed shortly. “Cause God forbid you come with me.” I reached blindly for my glass.
He knocked my hand away. “I have a big meeting to wrap up.”
“Hmm,” I said, “I saw. Pretty big.” I had a brainwave. “Suits you,” I told him, smiling. I felt damn proud of myself.
His eyes turned violent in a way I’d never seen. He threw some money down on the counter, gripped my arm painfully and dragged me off my chair, across the club and into the cab. I could see Mr.Money-bags looking curiously at us. He didn’t wait around once I was in. I watched him get into a car with his big meeting as the cab pulled away and closed my eyes. God, I wanted to sleep.
I stayed away from the club after that. It was what I should have done in the first place. Every time Ryan called, I pleaded work and rang off quickly. My evenings I spent with Eric, which delighted him. During the day, I either worked or walked. I had randomly decided on a no-alcohol policy. It didn’t help anyway, it never really did.
Two weeks passed. My birthday was coming up. Usually I threw myself a party, invited everybody I knew, told them to bring friends. It was the mother of all parties, bodies everywhere. This year I just wanted to hide. The thought of turning 25 made me sick. I’m a model. 25 was getting on in an industry that worshiped tight skin. And I hadn’t exactly been stinting on the vices. Sooner, rather than later, all that abuse would start to show on camera. At least I’d been smart enough to stay away from drugs.
Naturally I couldn’t hold my parties at my place so it was always in Ryan and John’s apartment. If I didn’t call about the arrangements soon, they would.
I picked a time when I knew no-one would be home and left a message saying I was going away. For a private party I said. They’d probably think it was one of my vacations-with-company. I said I’d call when I got back and we’d celebrate.
I then called my agent and asked for the use of his cabin. We’d done this before so the request didn’t surprise J.C. but he told me I was crazy to want to go there at this time of the year. When I told him I was thinking of cleaning up my act and needed a place to think, he didn’t say more. It was only partly a lie.
I left alone. It was really hard, without any alcohol or a warm body, none of the usual crutches. The cabin was well-furnished and well-stocked. It stood all by its lonesome surrounded by deep woods and there was a small town several miles downhill. I did a lot of walking in those two days. I’d been here often enough to have favorite spots. I visited them all, sometimes lingering for hours.
The morning of my birthday, J.C. called. Could I pick up a package for him from the town’s post office? It needed a signature and I could bring it with me when I returned, which was in two days time. I reminded him I was one of his top models, not an errand boy and he told me neither of those translated to diva which made me laugh. Frankly I was glad of the activity. The drive would take the edge off my restlessness and a visit to the one bar the town boasted would slake my thirst for some company, if not for alcohol.
There was no package. I figured there’d been some mistake, then took myself off to the bar. The company wasn’t ideal consisting mostly of old men with old tales but after two days on my own, I was willing to make compromises. I listened to what the good old days had been like before the country had gone to the dogs, was told off for ‘sassing’ them but when I left several hours later, they slapped me on the back and told me to be sure to come by the next day.
In sight of the cabin, I saw J.C.’s huge gas-guzzler and John’s SUV parked side by side. Ryan’s car stood further back. I laughed, shaking my head and felt a rush of gratitude. Who really wants to spend their birthday all by themselves?
I could smell the food as I got out. John appeared at the window and he rolled his eyes at me through the glass. I pushed open the door, a smart remark on my tongue which died instantly as I took in the scene.
“Mattttttt!” Ryan moaned. “Why are you back? You aren’t supposed to be back!” He held some streamers in his hands and more party decorations hung haphazardly from the walls.
“Uncle Matt!” Eric threw himself against me yelling, almost beside himself with excitement. “We brought cake!”
“Eric!” Michele said sharply. She grinned at me, her face tired but cheerful as always. “Sorry, you weren’t supposed to know that until later.”
I just gaped, completely speechless. Not just John and Ryan and JC as I’d thought. But others too. Michele with Eric, Pete, who winked at me cheekily, fellow models Guy and Travis, Shawn from the club. More people than I’d have thought, more than I’d have expected, all looking very pleased with themselves. This explained the separate cars.
“We were so sure the bar would occupy you for hours,” John was saying.
“Who would have guessed you meant it when you said no more drinking,” JC said.
He sounded half-reproachful as if he’d taken it personally that my surprise party had fallen flat. And meanwhile Eric was still running in excited circles around me.
As if compelled, my eyes met Mark’s where he stood leaning against the kitchen door, watching me. I knew where he’d been all the time, had felt it as if I had developed a sixth sense for him. I tried hard to keep my face impassive but I had the feeling he, more than anyone else in the room, knew how close I really was to losing my composure.
“Alright,” he called out lazily. “Might as well get the party started since the birthday boy is here.”
As if he’d broken through the confusion that had fallen at my unexpected arrival, everyone rushed forward with hugs and wishes.
Eventually it settled down a bit. Ryan led me to the kitchen table as everyone else settled down through-out the cabin to enjoy themselves.
“What on earth were you thinking, going off by yourself for your birthday?” he scolded. “I was never more shocked when JC told me.”
He busied himself with heating what looked like some of his delicious pasta sauce. “Every year you throw a party…”
Only because I was afraid no-one else would remember or care. Better not to test the relationships one had at all.
“….and then this year, you take off…lying to us….”
Ok, so I had abandonment issues. The fear of somehow being unlovable was a monster in the darkness of my life. The sting of rejection with me was the sharp edge of a knife.
“And if Mark hadn’t suggested surprising you….”
My head shot around towards Mark. He’d suggested this whole thing?
He’d been standing at the end of the kitchen counter getting a salad going. He met my gaze blandly. My eyes slid away, back to Ryan.
“…..we’d never have known you were on your own!” He placed the ladle down on the counter with more force than was perhaps necessary.
“Which should have told you all something,” I pointed out.
He did look quite hurt though so I leaned over and hugged him clumsily across the counter top.
“Sorry,” I said quietly.
He hmphed again, then looked out at the den over my shoulder before glancing at me a little anxiously. “I’m sorry not everyone could be here, I know it’s not what you’re used to….”
I stared down at my hands. “This is perfect,” I interrupted somewhat gruffly.
When John called out for Ryan, I was left alone with Mark.
“Thank you,” I said abruptly. He nodded wordlessly.
“Where’s the big meeting?”
“I don’t really care.” He sounded exasperated. With me, I supposed and shut up.
While he and Ryan dealt with the food, I sat back watching everyone else. Shawn was coaxing Eric out of his shell with magic tricks while Michele watched from nearby and Pete was making eyes at Travis.
John came back in and now stood next to me. “We’ll have a real party when we get back into town,” he said as his gaze followed mine.
I looked at him. “You just miss the strippers.”
He laughed. “Ain’t that a fact!” he said. Then still looking out at the rest of the room, he asked quietly, “You alright?”
“Of course you are.” We grinned at each other. I saw him hesitate.
“You’d tell us if something was…”
“Don’t be a pain in the ass,” I interrupted, touching his arm lightly for a brief second.
He grinned again. “Yeah, yeah.”
Nothing more was needed.
They never did get around to decorating the rest of the room and no-one had remembered to be bring the music. We ate a mixture of very sweet, calorie-rich party food and food that could easily be dinner. I opened my gifts, except the ones that might take a little explaining to a 7 year old boy, as communicated to me by frantic hand motions and much movement of eyes. The cake came last. Everything was backwards, we had ended up wearing the streamers on our person, there was not a stripper in sight. I hadn’t lied, it was perfect.
When Eric collapsed right in the middle of the carpet several hours later completely exhausted, I lay down next to him staring at the ceiling and listening to the lazy buzz of voices around me.
My view was suddenly obscured by Mark’s head. Upside down, he silently offered me a hand. I didn’t want to take it, I had avoided him as much as one could in a cabin in the middle of a party. I followed him out of the living room.
He led the way to a little covered basket in the bedroom, away from the others. No bows or anything on the handle, which confirmed my ideas of him. There was small whimpering sounds coming from inside.
“I hate animals,” I said instantly.
He uncovered it, exposing a white ball of fur roughly the size of my palm. Picking it up, he pressed the now wiggling ball up against my chest.
“Forget it,” I warned.
“Her name is snowflake.”
“You named my cat?” I exclaimed indignantly. I took her but only so she’d stop licking my chin.
I looked at Mark, cradling Snow in my arms. So he liked me now? I worried about why. I hadn’t given him any reason.
Sex was a good reason, sex kept people coming back. But he didn’t want sex which showed he didn’t like me THAT WAY, just SOME WAY which was totally fine because I didn’t really want him to like me in ANY way.
And yet he went giving me cats and surprise birthday parties. I couldn’t understand it. He was turning me upside down.
Back home, Snow got her own bed and little fluffy pillows and when at night she insisted on crashing mine instead, I grumbled. Not because I minded, it was the principle of the thing. But I had to admit it was nice to have a tiny warm purring body snuggling next to me that demanded nothing of me. It struck me then that Mark was more dangerous than I’d guessed. He’d read me well enough to fill needs I didn’t know I had.
He called the next morning and asked me if I wanted to go see some friend slash client’s studio. A richie-rich type with numerous business interests, as many stock investments and a nervous breakdown in the not-so-distant past, he now devoted his hours to reminding himself and other people about the importance of having fun.
His preferred medium was clay and it wasn’t so much a studio as it was a STUDIO, as I found out when we got there the next afternoon. Ridiculously spacious, it wasn’t at all pretentious which it easily could have been. The numbers on the tags were likewise ridiculously low. The place was unexpected in every way. Greg the artist was warm, gregarious and enthusiastic. And barefoot. It was that kind of place.
The work itself was fun and vivid, not self-important at all which is what I’d grown to expect most art to be. In fact, there was a whole table off to one side which had clay for patrons to play around with.
And it was there that Mark dragged me to. Several people were already sitting on the ground on raised cushions, foot high tables in front of them working their hands and imagination.
“This is ridiculous, it’s a waste of my time” I complained.
Inwardly though I was already thinking of things to make. The empire state building? A town? Maybe some sort of phallic symbol, to piss him off.
He ignored me, seating himself on one of the cushions in a far corner and starting to roll some clay between his palms. I followed suit, feeling the clay in my hands with a sense of childish exhilaration, mind teeming with ideas as I grew more and more absorbed.
My first several attempts were all elaborate but I quickly figured out that it was much harder than I had thought to work in detail of the kind I had in mind. Soon I was just messing around, making lots of nothings but enjoying myself hugely anyway.
The ache in my neck and back had gotten too severe to ignore any more. I looked up with a grimace, putting the lump of clay I was shaping back down on the table.
“What..?” I stared in shock.
The whole place was empty. Through the window in front of me I could see the sun lowering in the far horizon. I swung my head and my eyes found Mark sitting on a chair several feet away, just watching me. His elbows rested on his knees as he leaned forward, fingers of both hands loosely interlocked. All alone.
“Where..?” I looked at him blankly.
“I told Greg I’d lock up,” he said simply.
That was it, that was his whole explanation. I had sat, for hours apparently, playing with clay while everyone around me left and he watched me for who knows how long, and that was all he had to say about it.
“What is that?” he asked, gesturing towards the clay I’d just put down with a slight tilt of his head.
“Nothing,” I said, mad.
I didn’t like the idea that he’d sat there watching me. Not one bit.
How long had he been doing it? Why hadn’t I noticed? I looked at him uneasily, even a little bit afraid. What had he seen? What had I been in that time when I hadn’t been paying attention?
I felt foolish and annoyed and off-balance with all that had happened, with what was happening and now couldn’t wait to escape this room, his watching eyes, my bits of clay nothings.
“What did you make?” he persisted.
“I told you,” I said and even to my own ears I sounded peeved. “They’re all… just… nothing.”
He nodded once then stood up, one long smooth movement.
I got up too, heading towards him, preoccupied with my thoughts. So when he grabbed me, it took me completely by surprise. More so when he kissed me. He kissed me as if he’d been waiting for this moment all his life and now that it was finally here he was going to make every second count.
Too confused to react or participate in the kiss, I stood and let it happen. Let him part my lips with his tongue, let him slide it deep in my mouth, let him suck all the oxygen out of my lungs while I stood there shaking and unsure.
When he finally drew back, I could only stare at his unreadable face, unable to form a single coherent sentence or even thought. Then he took me home. We didn’t talk at all. I stared out the car window, he hummed snatches of love songs. How dare he kiss me like that over some stupid clay but not for sex? How dare he buy me a cat, when I wasn’t even his type? I briefly considered picking a fight, but went back to ignoring him.
He didn’t come in and I didn’t ask.
The next night I went to the club, got hold of the first guy that caught my eye and dragged him off to the rest-room. He was nice-looking in a bookish sort of way and eager but none of it mattered. I clutched at him desperately, hands and mouth all over him while he gasped and groaned and quickly became overwhelmed.
Several heated moments later I stopped, leaning my forehead against his neck, listening to him take dragging breaths. I felt nothing. None of that escape that sex usually gave me, the feeling of getting out of my head and getting lost in my body that I could always count on, no matter who I was with or where I was.
I couldn’t understand it, couldn’t understand this not-feeling nor my desperation for this quick meaningless coupling with this near-stranger in a restroom in cramped quarters and awful lighting.
I looked at his face, one I had seen so many times before in this very club but had never encouraged despite his hopeful glances.
This one’s not your type either.
The thought drifted across my mind like grey smoke.
I sank down on my knees and finished him off, amid pangs of guilt and despair, determined to make at least him feel good, this man who had followed me into the restroom, whom I’d gotten so worked up, who was not at all my type.
When he finally stopped trembling, I let him slide out of my mouth, getting to my feet.
“Buy you a drink, good-looking?”
His mouth fell open. “But…but…you…”
Doe-brown eyes looked at me, their expression puzzled and hurt. He knew my reputation, he knew my style. This wasn’t it.
I put my arm around him, holding him close and easing him out of the cramped stall, whispering “You were so sweet,” in his ear, a sort of reassurance. I meant it too. He blushed, a little tongue-tied and more than a little confused as we headed back to the bar.
I bought him a drink, stayed long enough for a few sips then headed to the booth where Mark, John and Ryan were seated. I had noticed Mark right away as we returned from the restroom, even if I’d not given a sign and now I slid into the only empty space next to him, keeping my distance and my greetings general. They’d evidently arrived some little while ago since they were all nursing drinks. I didn’t look at Mark.
“Having fun?” he asked and he couldn’t have sounded more polite.
“Yes,” I said, still carefully keeping my eyes from him.
“Since when do you buy your tricks drinks?” John demanded.
I had the sudden urge to kill him. I shrugged instead.
Beside me, Mark said softly “He must have been very good.”
Ryan was laughing. “Or else Mr.Hotshot was for once pretty bad,” he said.
I gazed into my drink, keeping my silence, miserable without quite knowing why. Ryan and John went off to dance.
“So,” Mark said and there was a definite bite in his voice now, “was he good?”
“Yes,” I said defiantly, finally looking at him. “Very good. And I’m going to take him home with me.”
He stared at me intently and suddenly I saw his shoulders relax. “No, you won’t,” he said softly.
He stood up then and held his hand out for mine. “Come on,” he said.
I should have said no. I should have taken the opportunity to score a major point. Instead I went.
Inside his house, he kissed me. He held my hips and rubbed himself against me repeatedly. Unlike the kiss which was slow and soft, the way he ground himself against me was not.
I never made desperate, out of control noises. Never. Now I heard myself whimpering and bit my lip to make myself stop.
He led me into the bedroom, kissing me all the way. Whatever I was afraid of was gone, lost in the maelstrom of sensations; here was something I understood and was good at. I clung to him desperately.
He undressed the both of us very neatly. I rolled my eyes, couldn’t help it and he grinned at me.
It turned me on to see him, nothing hiding his skin. He watched me like I was playing with clay again. Somehow that turned me on even more. It was an intoxicating feeling, this lack of pressure to be the best in bed, to be the focus for once instead of doing the focusing. I let him enjoy me. I’d never been passive before.
When he finally rolled on top of me with intent, I stiffened.
“Top only?” he quizzed. “Ok,” and that quickly he was rolling back on his back, waiting for me.
I was stunned by his easy acceptance. My stomach churned.
“No,” I whispered, “I want…” I fell silent.
He propped his head up on one hand watching me assessingly before reaching out to slide the other hand down my face in a feather-soft caress.
“Ok, let’s try this,” he whispered back, as if he knew exactly what a big step this was.
He sat up and positioned me over his lap, holding me over him so I could ride him. I was enormously grateful. One didn’t feel quite so vulnerable this way.
He let me set the pace as I worked him into me a little at a time, kissing me and running his hands all over my body, teasing to distract me. About halfway in, his long slightly curved dick hit my spot. Pleasure exploded through me and my legs gave way and as I collapsed completely onto him, I felt his entire length enter me.
“Fuck!” I gasped. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
“In a minute,” he said but his eyes were troubled as he held himself very still and didn’t breathe too deeply.
For a few minutes there was silence while my brain tried to decide whether to focus on the intense pain or the mind-numbing pleasure that I knew hovered underneath.
I looked into his face where his eye-brows were bunched together above his eyes. “It’s ok now,” I told him so the frown would leave.
He sighed. “Stop trying to win approval all the time. We wait.”
I glared at him. We waited.
Not long afterwards it really did get ok. I wiggled a tiny bit cautiously then groaned. He stiffened.
“Stop, you idiot. Only when you’re ready.”
I tried to look at his face through the dancing spots pleasure had put in my eyes. Finally I got my tongue to move. “Fuck me!”
The bastard waited to make completely sure before following my instruction. He fucked me, moving me over him and it was the most fantastic I have ever felt in my life. I wanted it to never end. Caught up in our mutual pleasure, everything else forgotten, he rolled me onto my back. I barely noticed. Well, except the part where he started a frenzied rhythm.
When it was all over, I was half-surprised that everything still looked the same. Surely this thing that had just happened, that had joined me with this man as I had never been connected to anyone before would have caused a discernible change outside me as it had inside me.
I lay there, amid a tangle of limbs, our bodies cooling and heartbeats slowing as I tried to figure out the rules to this never-before thing and which ones I wished desperately to break.
“Um,” I started, trying for a casual tone, “do you have an early day tomorrow?”
“You’re not leaving,” he said, seeing right through me. I still hadn’t decided how I felt about that. I stopped worrying about the night and settled down to worry about tomorrow.
He yawned, tightening his grip around my waist possessively where I lay against him, my head tucked under his chin. “No more trips to the restroom.”
“Unless it’s with me,” he added as an after-thought.
“But I’m not your type,” I said, wanting to wound. Or maybe wanting reassurance.
“That’s ok, I’m not your’s either,” he said tenderly. I felt him grin as he nuzzled his face against mine. “We have years to change each-other’s minds.”
We lay in silence for a long time, his arms still tight around me. I fell asleep watching him smile widely to himself.