The photographs are exquisite. A portrait of a young man, his tattooed shoulders bared and soft brows furrowed as he takes a drag from a cigarette. The same man crouching, doubled over, a black sock-clad foot pressing into his back.
Every single black and white blown up print showed this pale, inked-up young model in a different light – with glitter trailing from his chest and neck up to his forehead, with his fingers squelching in thick clumping mud, with his head tilted back, hair tousled as he exhaled a cloud of smoke. Umberto had clearly found his muse.
I wandered off into the belly of the gallery in search of Umberto and came face to face with the muse himself. He was sitting, literally, on a pedestal, one long leg dangling off the marbled edge, the other bent and hugged tightly to his chest. Tattoos covered both pale thin arms and one rather large piece wrapped from near his shoulder blades around the front and dipped over his hip and into the waistband of his dark jeans. He rested his chin on his bent knee, as his intense gaze, darkened with generous amounts of shadow and liner, floated above the milling heads of the gallery’s patrons. I stared in awe of the mystifying beauty in front of me until I was shaken from my trance by a firm hand on my shoulder.
“His name’s Zepar. Even his name suits him. Like the fallen angel,” Umberto said, his gaze lingering over the young man as well.
I settled back into my friend’s grip on my shoulder, my eyes continuing to rake over the statuesque model as my conversation with Umberto carried on. He had a name. Zepar.
I was able to free myself from the mystique of the young man and milled around, making small talk with the gathering of Umberto’s friends and other art world bigwigs. I was beginning to get bored in the sea of pretension and apathy and started to work my way toward the large glass doors of the gallery.
“Owen! I was just looking for you!” Umberto shouted from behind me. He always had a way of popping up when you least anticipate or wish for it. “What’s up, Bert?” I said, turning my head, but not bothering to do an about-face from the exit.
“I was just wondering if you had any plans for later. I was hoping to have a sort of low-key afterparty kind of thing. My apartment’s still sort of a wreck from last night, and I thought, maybe you’d want to host tonight. Your place is always squeaky clean.”
I rolled my eyes, letting out a sigh, “I don’t know, Bert. My place is sort of small…”
“Whose isn’t in Manhattan?” Umberto chuckled, shaking one of my shoulders, “But really, it won’t be more than maybe ten people. You, me, Zepar, a couple of fashion editors, Sarah, and her friends. That’s it. And I’ll reimburse you for any liquor we may put to use.”
I rubbed my eyes with the palm of my hand as I thought it over. I loved Umberto to death, but he could be a complete dick at times. And all his art and fashion friends drove me up a wall. If I had to hear another pompous art director tell me how Bert was ‘the next Steven Klein,’ I was going to become physically ill. But as soon as I heard Umberto say that Zepar would be there, in my apartment, I knew I had no choice but to say yes. For whatever reason, I didn’t want to be the one to put a wrinkle in the young man’s plans; I didn’t want to be the reason for his disappointment.
“Okay,” was all I said, not wanting to sound too reluctant or too enlivened.
Umberto beamed, “You’re the best, man! You can head back to your apartment if you want. I’ll corral everyone and be there in a few!”
I just nodded and continued out the door, a glacial blast of air stung my eyes as I opened the glass door and quickly ducked into my silver compact car. Tonight was going to be interesting.
Umberto kept to his word. Only a handful of people accompanied him when he arrived. They consumed copious amounts of alcohol and chattered away about so-and-so’s summer collection or what’s-her-face’s performance art. I would have been absolutely mad if I hadn’t had that one sweet distraction.
Umberto sat back comfortably in the corner of my sectional sofa and sitting on his knee, his back against Bert’s chest was Zepar.
He didn’t speak a word the entire night, just sat back against Umberto, occasionally sipping from the bottle of vodka he clutched loosely in his graceful fingers. I wondered how he felt in this moment, with Umberto clutching at him like he was his own property. I wondered if he felt the same way I did about this room full of overinflated ego.
His heavy-lidded eyes wandered over the room with a listless ennui, looking at no one or nothing in particular. Until he looked at me.
I froze, quickly averting what I immediately realized was an intense stare. After a moment, I dared a glance back in his direction and found that he was still looking at me. His eyes held a different sort of expression now. They were still hooded and dark, but they had a soft look, almost like curiosity. It certainly wasn’t the boredom that had filled the depths of his gaze moments before.
I turned away once again. From the way that Umberto possessively wrapped his arm around the younger man’s waist I decided that I should probably find myself a pastime other than ogling someone he seemed so quick to declare.
I walked into my kitchen and grabbed a bottle of rum, seating myself at the small round cafe table to wait out the storm. I was on the verge of sleep when I heard my front door open and close again. “Hey, Owen!” I heard Umberto shout from across the living room. I roused myself and rounded the corner, seeing Umberto hand in hand with a glum Zepar.
“Hey, Owen, we’re going to take off. Thanks for everything! See you, bud!”
He walked across the room, practically dragging the younger man behind him, who seemed reluctant to even touch Umberto at this point. When Bert had opened the door and stepped outside, Zepar looked back over his shoulder with – what was that? – longing? “Bye, Owen.”
He spoke. To me.
I froze up, not able to force any words out before the door shut behind them. Shit.
That voice was almost as beautiful as the creature who produced it. Smooth and alluring, shimmering with a just a hint of playfulness. So sensual and comforting, yet decidedly masculine. And that might be the last time I ever heard that voice.
That’s exactly what I was thinking when I crawled under the covers that night. I thought of that voice, that face, that body. I thought about the sadness in his eyes, the ache, and how it was gone forever.
Then someone buzzed the intercom. Umberto must have forgotten something again. He never left my apartment with everything he brought in. I jumped out of bed, dressed only in my boxer briefs and adjusted myself as I ran into the living room, depressing the button and opening the front door for Bert. I sat down on the couch and waited for him to come back up to my floor as I wondered what he had left behind this time. Maybe his wallet or something.
When I heard knocking, I stood and crossed the room, undoing my locks. I opened the door and was taken aback by what I saw.
Zepar stood in front of me, leaning against the door frame. A large bruise was starting to form on his cheek and his eyes were red from tears. The dark kohl that rimmed his eyes was smudged and trailed down in the corners. His gaze drifted from down the hall and up to my face.
He didn’t say a word as he leaned forward and kissed me. I was shocked, to say the least, but not shocked enough to stop me from responding. He cupped his cool hands on either side of my face, insistently pressing his lips to mine, his tongue flicking against my lips. I opened my mouth to him and allowed the determined younger man what he yearned for as I looped my arms loosely around his lissome waist.
The kiss ended just a suddenly as it began. Zepar leaned his forehead against mine, his bare, heaving chest rising and falling between us as his warm breath fell across my cheek. “Can I come in?” he whispered, his chilly grey eyes looking up into mine. I didn’t reply, I just pulled him in over the threshold by the waist, shutting the door behind him.
Zepar spun away from me, out of the circle of my arms and walked in the direction of my bedroom. I had no idea what to do. I had never experienced any variation on this situation. How am I supposed to react? I just decided to let Zepar do what he wanted, let him set the tone. So I followed.
I entered the bedroom and watched as Zepar wiggled his black jeans down his hips, his smooth hairless body and fully engorged cock revealing themselves to me before he slipped beneath my sheets. He rolled over onto his side and, propping himself up on his elbow, looked at me as if he was expecting something. He nodded his head in invitation.
I crossed the room slowly and pulled back the covers on my side of the bed and was about to slide in next to Zepar when I was interrupted by that enigmatic voice. “Aren’t you going to take those off?” he questioned, extending a long tattooed limb and motioning lazily with his hand in the direction of my still intact boxer briefs. I blushed slightly, but hooked my thumbs in the elastic waist of my underwear nonetheless, and quickly tugged them down to my ankles, my erection springing up toward my belly. Zepar smiled at me, the first smile I had ever seen from him, as I nestled in next to him in bed.
Zepar snuggled up close to me, his arms wrapping around my chest as his legs entwined in mine. He nuzzled his cheek against my chest, his messy soft brown hair tickling my torso. I could feel his hard length against mine as I ran my hands up and down the smooth pale skin of his back, dropping kisses along the top of his head. I pulled Zepar closer, cradling his body with mine. He needed to be comforted and I wanted nothing more than to be that comfort for him.
The young man’s breathing slowed as he began emitting soft whimpers against my chest. I glanced down and noticed him deeply enveloped in sleep, a dreamy look masking the hurt for the time being. That look made my heart swell as I fell asleep with the fallen angel in my arms.
I awoke to the feeling of a weight on my chest and I smiled at the sensation of a hot wet tongue tracing the curve of my ear.
As I slowly pried open my eyelids, my eyes met those of beautiful Zepar. He hovered above me, one hand trying its best to tangle into my hair, the other stroking lightly at my waist as he pressed his hips into mine. The chill had left his body overnight and the sadness had faded from his eyes. The bruise under his eye, however, had darkened into an angry purple, surrounded by a soft halo of green. I smiled a slightly concerned smile as I reached up to cup his face in my hand, tracing the contusion gently with my thumb. “Morning,” I whispered up into that beautiful face.
He leaned forward and kissed me in reply. The kiss was exquisitely gentle, with his lips closed against mine. He began to trail a series of those same soft kisses down my neck and over my chest, forging a path downward, arriving at the crease between my hip and thigh. He lazily dragged his tongue up and over my hip bone, those steely eyes burning as he looked up at me through his messy hair. His attention was shifted to my achingly hard cock as he licked his lips, eyeing it with interest.
Without much warning, Zepar wrapped his thin hand around my shaft and engulfed it in the searing heat of his mouth. My mind was reeling at this point. I had no idea how I had ended up with this gorgeous young man in my bed, and at this point, I didn’t care. His hands drifted up my flanks his fingertips fanning out as he dragged them back down underneath me, coming to rest on my ass and pulling me further into his mouth until his lips suctioned to the base of my cock. I groaned deep in the back of my throat, as I twined my fingers into his hair. He moaned around me, his fingers digging into my hips, nearly drawing blood as his throat vibrated, drawing a guttural sob from deep inside me. He continued slowly bobbing his head as orgasm racked my body, my cum coating the back of his throat as he drained me. He kept me in his mouth, slowly moving his tongue over my spent cock, devouring my cum to the very last drop.
Satisfied, he finally released me, crawling back up to my chest that surged beneath him.
“What happened to you?” I whispered, softly stroking his face and wiping some of the still thickly smudged liner away from his eyes.
He leaned into my hand, nuzzling it like an attention starved kitten. “Your friend Umberto is an asshole,” he spoke, narrowing his eyes slightly. I didn’t have time to hate Umberto. I didn’t have time to think at all as he began his slow and fluent undulation against my body. I felt like I was drowning in the feeling – like I was smothered in something warm and sweet and viscous filling my lungs. And I kept breathing. I kept breathing in Zepar.
I could feel his flesh hard and insistent on my stomach. He wrapped his long fingers around my wrist, guiding me to his enfleshed scalding carnality. He hissed a sharp breath as I firmly stroked him, my fingers delighting in the velvet feel of his body.
I was hard again myself and could feel my erection sliding ever so lightly against the cleft of Zepar’s ass as he continued his wanton writhing in my lap.
He smiled, the corner of his mouth turning upward as he reached back and began lightly running his fingers along my shaft, guiding it closer and closer to his heaving lithe form. Suddenly, he raised himself up, removing himself from my grip and positioned himself above my straining erection.
My eyes widened as I watched him, and placed my hand on his thigh. “C… Condom?” I managed, breathing becoming a difficult task in his tight grip.
He simply shook his head ‘no’ as he looked into my eyes and began to sink down over me. I saw the pain wrack his boyish yet powerful features, his brows furrowing as he buried my entire length and girth in his burning, taut body. I stroked my hands up and down his sides, trying to calm him as he continued his way down into my lap. My head rolled from side to side, as I lost myself in the sensations. I only realized he had me completely inside him when he braced his darkly decorated arms against my chest and began to gyrate his hips around me, as if moving to some unheard music. I stroked one hand around his back to his hip, tracing the large tattoo that transformed the look of his pale flesh – a large black angel wing stretching over his hip. What a name – Zepar.
I attempted studying him as a method for staving off my orgasm. It didn’t really help. His soft tousled hair, his full parted lips, those grey eyes gone wild and dark from lust, his alabaster and almost translucent skin moving over his lean muscles – I had never seen anything like him before.
Zepar began to lift up, only to slowly wiggle back down on top of me. My breathing was growing shallow and uncontrollable. I placed my hands on his hips to help guide him and he nodded at me, forming a smile around a deep moan. I began to help his movements, lifting him up then thrusting upward into his hot depths, building in speed until we were crashing into each other, like breakers in a storm. Zepar tilted his head back, his arms now braced behind him against my thighs as he rolled his hips toward me, my body plowing into his. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed a sob, and his cock coated both our restless bodies with his release. His entire body tightened, as he trembled above me.
I continued my relentless thrusting, so close to the edge. Zepar leaned forward and raked his fingernails down my ribs, leaving behind ten angry red marks. I lost it.
I grasped Zepar’s hips and pulled him down to a halt on my lap as I came deep inside him with a loud groan of his name. Zepar smiled, a fully content smile as he collapsed on top of me, a dead weight against my chest. I wrapped my arms around his agile body, pulling him into an embrace I never wanted to leave. Our heavy breathing slowed and matched in tempo as we gently stroked one another, occasionally decorating the other with a soft kiss or a tender nip.
I rolled us over on our sides and Zepar wrapped his arms and legs around me, clinging to me like a koala bear to a tree. I smiled and kissed him on the cheek, “What did I do to deserve you?” I whispered against his ear.
He glanced up at me, his expression almost unreadable. “You hate those people almost as much as I do. And you saw me. I know it. You didn’t see my face, you saw me. And Umberto. He really is an asshole. Tried to make me fuck him because he ‘made me.’ Fuck him,” Zepar spoke, his tone even as if this was something he said everyday. That was the longest I had ever heard him speak.
I smiled a little sadly as I cradled him closer, not saying anything in return. I didn’t have to.
“Will you remember me?” Zepar said softly, barely audible against my chest.
I wasn’t thinking clearly about what he could possibly mean by that. And I was too tired to try. In hindsight, I should have said something, but I didn’t. I just hummed softly and pulled him closer.
His body shuddered against mine, and as I succumbed to the warm serenity of sleep, I swear I felt Zepar’s tears fall on my chest.
I awoke later that morning to an empty bed and an empty apartment. Gone. It was as if he’d vanished without a trace. I couldn’t explain it, but my heart felt as if it were being slowly crushed in a vice. I walked lethargically into the bathroom, desperate for a hot shower and saw what he’d left behind: a note, scrawled on my bathroom mirror with a bar of soap. “I’m sorry. Remember me.”
How could I forget?
It has been nearly a year since my night with Zepar, and I still think about him every day. After that night, I couldn’t be bothered with taking another lover. Every touch, every caress was Zepar.
He had vanished completely from my life almost as quickly as he entered it. Umberto called me many times, asking if I had seen him. He explained to me that they’d had a ‘disagreement’ that night, as he so vaguely phrased it. He swore their argument to be the cause of Zepar’s departure, and all I could think of as he spoke was Zepar’s tears, falling, burning into my flesh. It crushed me.
I didn’t really have much to do with Umberto after that. We had been friends for years, but every time I saw his face, I saw Zepar’s face, tearstained and bruised.
To keep myself from going completely mental, I let my office job become my focus. I immersed myself in my work, trying to convince myself that advertising was much more interesting than any other activities with which I could possibly occupy my time.
It was a Fall Tuesday morning when I finally saw him again. His face, still smooth and pale, was covered in an assortment of semiprecious and precious stones. A broken string of pearls wrapped around his neck like a noose and wound up into his short brown hair. Large, opalescent stones rested over his closed eyelids and a gaudy necklace set with onyx and white diamonds draped across his forehead and tucked behind his ear. The jewels and glimmering platinum decorated his neck and shoulders as if they weighed him down with their decadence as he lay reclined on a pale shag carpet.
I stared transfixed at the image as if I had just seen a ghost. The photograph stretched the entire length of the back of a covered bus stop – an advertisement for some New York jeweler.
I made a quick note of the name of the jeweler, my heart skipping beats left and right as I hurried into the building and up to my office.
That day was not very productive for the firm. I spent the entire morning and afternoon calling any contact I had in the industry. I really despised the idea of networking, but I got the results I needed and that was all that mattered. An acquaintance I had made a few floors above mine informed me that it was actually our firm that handled the advertising for the jeweler, also giving me the name of the modeling agency Zepar was with.
I phoned the agency, and with just a little schmoozing and sweet talk, I was able to get Zepar’s working schedule for the week. He would be at a studio on the Lower East Side until six tomorrow. Perfect.
I barely slept a wink that night. I was wide awake, and dreaming of Zepar.
I stood, leaning back against my car outside the studio, waiting for my chance to see him again. I squinted into the sunset, ignoring the glaring hipsters who were clearly scrutinizing my not-tight-enough jeans.
I glanced up as I heard the sound of the large metal studio doors squeal open. Zepar.
He strode elegantly out of the studio, a cigarette dangling between his fingers. He was just as beautiful as I remembered. A loose-fitting sleeveless shirt hung away from his body, the neck cut low on his chest. A cool autumn breeze chilled his skin as he slipped a heavy cardigan sweater over his thin ink-covered arms.
“Zepar,” I said, trying to mask the longing in my voice and failing.
He stopped mid-stride, stunned. He cast his gaze down at the ground, then slowly lifted his eyes to mine. I could still see the hurt in those eyes.
He dropped his cigarette on the ground and crushed it underneath his black leather boot, slowly shaking his head as if it were a dream. “I never thought I would see you again,” he said softly, “I hoped…but I never dared to think you’d come…”
I walked toward him, standing close, but not daring to touch him right now. He looked so fragile. “Can I talk to you?” I asked, staring into his sharp grey eyes.
“Can it be at your place?” Zepar asked in a soft voice that I wouldn’t dare call shy.
“Do you want something to drink? A glass of wine maybe?” I asked as Zepar sat back on the sofa and I wandered into the kitchen. “Wait, how old are you anyway?” I asked, pausing in the kitchen doorway.
“Nineteen,” Zepar said, smiling.
I laughed, “Would you like some juice, then?”
He put on a false pout, still smiling with his eyes, “You couldn’t be that much older. And wine would be wonderful, thank you.”
“Twenty-three,” I called out from the kitchen as I went to fetch the wine and glasses. When I returned, I reclined next to Zepar on my couch, handing him his glass and taking a long sip from mine.
“So, you wanted to talk to me?” Zepar asked, his lips moving against the rim of his wine glass.
I nodded slowly then looked directly at him, “Why did you leave?”
He sighed, his eyes avoiding mine as he drained his glass in one long draught. A long pause passed before he spoke again. “I’m sorry if it hurt you,” he said, his eyes looking flatly into mine, “but I thought that was what you wanted: a one-night stand.”
“You have no idea how much more I want,” I said placing my hand atop his.
His eyes gleamed as they welled up with tears. He looked down at his hand then back up into my eyes, swinging his leg over me so he straddled my lap. He locked his arms in a circle around my neck, smiling as he leaned in and lightly bit at my lip, pulling it with his teeth. His tongue immediately traced over the spot he had just abused as he kissed me gently on the mouth. “I’m glad you found me,” he whispered against my lips, “I’m glad you remembered me.”
I cupped his face in my hand, “What could possibly make me forget you?”
He looked down between us as he rolled off me, seating himself at my side once again. “It, I mean, I wasn’t your first. I just wanted that night to be special. I didn’t want to be just another night to you,” he lowered his voice to a whisper as he looked down at his hands in his lap, “I wanted it to be as special for you as it was for me.”
My heart swelled in my chest as some indescribable feeling coiled its way around my ribcage. I had taken Zepar’s virginity? I felt as if I’d done him some great injustice. I felt overjoyed that this young man had chosen me and wanted me. I felt as if I was the one to strike down the fallen angel Zepar. I felt like a bastard for not knowing. I felt loved.
Zepar let out a tiny squeak of a gasp as I scooped him up in my arms, standing him up before me, as I wrapped him in my arms. “I’m so sorry,” I whispered into his hair, “I shouldn’t have let you go. I should have tried to make it better for you…”
“It couldn’t have been better. I wouldn’t change it for the world. And you’re here now,” he said, snuggling his face into my neck and kissing me there, “that’s all that matters.”
I could feel his erection against my thigh through his jeans as I guided him backward. He stepped blindly, one foot behind the other and gasped, surprised when his back reached the wall. I loomed over him, kissing his forehead. “I’m not going anywhere,” I said as I leaned down, taking his mouth with mine.
His lips parted immediately, pliant and tenacious as he ran his tongue alongside mine, sucking the very breath from my lungs. I pulled back, my body desperate for oxygen. Zepar sighed as I buried my face in the crook of his neck, lipping lightly at his ear lobe and licking down into the hollow of his clavicle. I slid the sweater off his fair shoulders as he moaned softly. I noticed his hands move between us as he undid the buttons on his jeans and promptly began work on mine. I took a full step backward, not eager to leave the safe warmth of his body, but eager to get rid of this clothing that kept us apart. We bathed each other with our stares as we disrobed, his silver eyes scrutinizing every move of my hands and fingers, inelegantly pulling at buttons and snaps. I stared in awe of his grace as he removed his shirt of loose, sleeveless cotton in one fluid motion and swiveled his hips from the tight grip of his jeans. We stood, completely nude before each other, the tension building between us until I snapped.
I pushed him back against the wall and covered his body with mine. My mouth on his neck, my hand in his hair, my arm tight around his waist – I wanted to be touching all of him, to melt to him, I wanted to enfold him into me. He slowly wrapped a long leg around the back of my thigh, sliding it up and down again, his smooth serpentine flesh driving me mad. His body thrust against mine. His hips rolled against mine. His slick engorged cock slipped against mine. He assaulted my senses with his body as I wrapped my hands around his slender thighs, pulling him up from the ground, his long legs around my waist. He pressed his shoulders into the wall behind him and wound his svelte, tattooed arms around my neck.
I moved one of my hands around and began circling his entrance with a long finger. I hadn’t prepared him the first time, and I didn’t want to hurt him again. I was taken aback, to say the least, when I felt him slap my hand away. “I like the way it hurts,” he said softly, tilting his head back on the wall, looking at me through his heavy lids. He raised his hand to his mouth, licking his palm, then spitting. He reached between us, stroking me lightly, slicking me with himself. My hips jumped forward at the contact. Zepar giggled – yes, giggled – above me as he increased the firmness of his grip, guiding me.
Still smiling, Zepar looked down at me and nodded with two sharp moves of his head. I thrust forward precipitously and was met with a piercing cry from Zepar as he dug his fingernails into my back and shoulder. “You okay?” I panted, unsure if the cry was from pain or pleasure, perhaps both. In response, he wiggled his hips around me, gasping for air as he pushed himself down, his body consuming more and more of my length. He continued his dance, never stilling, never quieting – just movement and the sound of my name as it was forced from his throat.
I began to move with him, meeting his thrashing body halfway with my own powerful thrusts. Zepar began looking increasingly savage, wild, frenzied as I fucked him harder and harder. He wrapped his fingers in my hair and, clenching his fists, began deliberately throwing his head back with every thrust, his skull colliding with the plaster as he gritted his teeth behind his softly parted lips. There was definitely going to be a dent in the drywall.
His heels dug into my ass as we moved faster and faster around each other. My hips were moving in small forceful jerks when I came inside him. I didn’t see it coming, but I fucking felt it. Stream after stream of my cum coated him from the inside out, filling him completely. “Oh, fuck, Owen….” Zepar shouted, gripping my shoulders tightly, pulling me in for a kiss as he came between us. I opened my mouth to him as we kissed his tongue invading my mouth as I felt his cum coat my chin and our chests.
Our lips parted, as we gasped for air. Still buried inside Zepar, I carried him around the corner to my bedroom and fell back on my sheets, sweet Zepar snuggled close to my chest. I pulled the covers up over us as Zepar began cleaning up the mess he had made on my neck and chest. His tongue cleaned every last drop from my skin as he trailed up treating me to a kiss long and lingering, giving me a double dose of the taste of Zepar.
He rolled off of me, snuggling up to my side underneath my arm.
“Would you be mad if I said I loved you?” he said, his breath cooling my sweat-slicked flesh.
I looked down at him, into his big grey eyes and smiled, “Furious.”
“I love you.”
“Love you too,” I whispered, kissing him on the cheek.
“I’ve never said that to anyone before,” he leaned down, licking around my nipple then kissed it softly, “Nobody.”
“Really, what did I do to deserve you?”
“You found me. You didn’t forget.” He paused, moving to nuzzle at my neck, “Thank you.”
I stroked his head and curled up around him, knowing he would be there when I woke up. I felt Zepar’s warm tears falling on my neck – tears of joy.
“Thank you,” I whispered.