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Authors: Ethan Day

Self preservation

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Table of ContentsChapter OneChapter TwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter NineChapter TenChapter ElevenChapter TwelveChapter ThirteenChapter FourteenEthan Day 

 

 

 

SELF PRESERVATION

 

 

 

 

Ethan Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.loose-id.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warning

 

 

 

This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. Loose Id® e-books are for sale to adults ONLY, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

 

Self Preservation

 

Ethan Day

This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Published by

Loose Id LLC

www.loose-id.com

 

Copyright © February 2009 by Ethan Day

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced or shared in any form, including, but not limited to printing, photocopying, faxing, or emailing without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC.

 

ISBN 978-1-59632-869-3

Printed in the United States of America

Chapter One 

 

 

The light bulb flickered in the dark stairwell as Davis made his way down the steps from his loft apartment on the third floor to his business, housed on the first. He made a mental note to change the bulb later that night on his way back upstairs. He turned the deadbolt on the door and walked into the hallway at the back of his store, Aesthetic Artifacts, an architectural remnant and restoration business. He closed the door behind him and flipped the switches on the wall as six globe lights dangling from the ceiling flooded the showroom with light. He breathed in the scent of musty old millwork mixed with Murphy Oil Soap, varnish, and mineral spirits. Comforted by the familiarity, he smiled.

 

Davis was terminally tangled up in the same old routines. For the past two years he'd spent New Year's Eve at home…alone. He'd long since stopped getting invitations to parties, to go out to bars, or out to dinner with friends—not because he was disliked or socially inept, but because he'd always seemed to decline those invitations. He hated bars, hated being groped by complete strangers, preferred to stay at home, relaxing in front of his flat screen watching old black-and-white movies. The truth was, the only time he felt truly lonely was when he was out socializing with others. It seemed to make him more acutely aware of the fact that he wasn't with the one he loved.

 

He entered his small office across from the showroom and flicked on the light. The walls were covered with framed newspaper articles and photos of historic homes in successive stages of restoration. The largest of the framed headlines read LOCAL PRESERVATIONIST LENDS EXPERTISE IN RESTORATION OF HISTORIC MISSOURI HOTEL. An antique drafting table sat against the wall on his right, piled high with architectural drawings and blueprints. Reaching, he pulled a chain that turned on the table lamp atop his mahogany desk and placed his large mug of steaming coffee next to a local magazine. The cover had a picture of him captioned DAVIS ANDREWS: LIVING IN THE PAST.

 

Davis looked out through the glass window separating his office from the main part of the store. Sunlight poured in through the large plate-glass windows at the front of the three-story downtown building. Noticing the time, he grabbed up his coffee and headed back out into the hall. He walked down an aisle in the main room of the store, listening to the wood floors creak under his feet, passing salvaged columns, pieces of building facades, fireplace mantels, and rows of huge, ornately carved antique doors. He unlocked the front door and turned, heading back down a second aisle, making his way toward the back of the store. He passed the stacks of old milled crown and baseboard moldings stacked along the far wall and reached the counter, where he started the CD player. He turned, walking up to the enormous gilded plaster mirror frame and inspected the molded sections of the leaf pattern he'd created the day before to patch pieces broken off at some point in its history.

 

Davis was dressed in a pair of old, beat-up khaki coveralls covered in chemical and paint stains, along with a white T-shirt that looked to be in about the same condition of wear and tear. His brown leather work boots were worn, the ends of their laces frayed.

 

He looked like the contents of his store. At first glance they were disheveled and in desperate need of care and attention, but the well-trained eye could spot the beauty that lay beneath, just waiting to be revived. Davis was still in great physical condition at the ripe old age of twenty-eight. But his dirty blond hair looked ratty and way overdue for a cut, and he was beginning to get dark circles under his eyes, which looked worse considering the natural paleness of his skin. His thin, just-under-six-feet frame was toned, with long legs and arms. His hands and fingers were rough, worn, dry—stained by chemicals and varnish.

 

Nineteen-forties big band music poured out of the speakers as Davis took up a brush, gently pressing the sheet of gold leaf over a patched section of the frame. He blew gently over the area as the tiny leftover pieces of gold flew off, floating to the floor around his feet. He stepped back, checking his progress and expertly did a three- or four-step Fred Astaire-style dance move.

 

Behind him, a waifish woman quietly walked through the front door of the store and placed two suitcases on the floor. Her tiny frame was pumped up several inches by the high heels she wore. She was well put together, wearing formfitting black slacks, a red linen shirt, and a cropped black jacket. Her wild, manufactured mane of curly blonde hair rained down over her shoulders, and she wore just enough jewelry to be noticeable without seeming tacky or over-the-top. She smiled as Davis looked up, freezing in his tracks.

 

“Davie,” she said, cocking her head to one side. “Davie Unwavie. How's my favorite root-bound homo?”

 

“Holy shit, Deseree,” Davis said, smiling uncontrollably. “I thought I was hallucinating.”

 

Davis ran to her and tossed his arms around her, nearly knocking her over. “Whoa,” Deseree said, squeezing him tightly. “Somebody's been eating his Wheaties.”

 

“Somebody hasn't returned my phone calls for the last three months,” Davis scolded as he pulled away to look her over, remembering how much the clothes she designed, loaded with taste and drama, resembled her personality.

 

“I'm sorry I haven't called,” she said. “It's been hell putting together my collection for the nationwide release. I've been working like a demon to finish in time for the show last week at Bryant Park…which was complete insanity, by the way.”

 

“I was beginning to get worried. I thought maybe you'd been devoured by a rogue pack of starving supermodels.”

 

“Well, I'm here now.” Deseree looked over her oldest and very best friend. And, that was the truth. In university, Davis's roommate Tim, and Deseree's roommate Cindy, were fucking like rabbits every night, whether or not anyone else was in the room. Needless to say, Deseree was appalled and Davis, with his fresh-off-the-farm innocence, didn't know how to handle it. Deseree suggested Cindy and Davis swap roomies. In the end, Davis and Deseree had lasted longer than Tim and Cindy.

 

“Who knew becoming a household name would require so much work?” Her eyes wandered around the store as she placed her hands on her hips. “Wow, this is quite an operation that you have here, Davie! I never realized.”

 

“I've missed your face,” he said, looking down at her suitcases. “You do realize it's been well over a year… You should have told me you were coming.”

 

“I guess I didn't know,” she said, smiling up at him.

 

“Is everything okay?” Davis asked, placing a hand on her arm and looking over her face. Her normally bubbly confidence was tinged with a slight edge of uneasiness.

 

She looked up at him for a moment and opened her mouth to speak as the phone started to ring.

 

“Hold that thought.” He turned and jogged to the back of the store where he picked up the cordless phone off the glass display case. On the other end of the line a familiar voice said, “Hello, monkey face.”

 

“Jack…” Davis hesitated, startled at hearing the voice of his first and only love.

 

“Davis,” Jack's voice called through the phone.

 

“Yeah…I'm here.”

 

Deseree whispered for him to say hi to Jack for her, and Davis watched as she smiled and began meandering about the store.

 

“I have some news, and, well, I hope you'll be excited for me.”

 

A new part in a play, Davis thought. “You know I never wish anything but the best for you, Jack.”

 

“I came home to visit Mom a couple weeks ago and, well…” Jack continued.

 

Davis put his hand over the phone and whispered to Deseree, “Jack's in a new play.”

 

Deseree giggled as she ran her fingers over the gilded plaster mirror frame Davis had been working on. She looked back up at Davis. “I totally want this.”

 

“I met someone,” Jack said.

 

Davis stopped smiling and removed his hand from the mouthpiece. “I'm sorry…what?”

 

“I know this is going to sound crazy, but we've been inseparable since we met, and well…we've decided to get married.”

 

“What do you mean?” Davis asked, his head beginning to swim. He was having trouble catching his breath. “Who is this person? Does Candace know about this?”

 

“Of course. She introduced us. His name is Tadd Austin; he's an architect here in Chicago. Davis, you're just gonna love him.”

 

“He's moving to New York to be with you?”

 

Deseree poked around the store, quietly trying to eavesdrop.

 

“I'm moving back to Chicago, Davis. Mom's really excited, and I was hoping you could fly up on Thursday. It's going to be like this three-day extravaganza.”

 

“This Thursday?” Davis placed an arm on the countertop to brace himself. “You're getting married this coming weekend?”

 

Deseree turned sharply, losing her balance as her heel caught in a notch in the wood floor. She flailed her arms out in an attempt to balance herself and fell back into a fluted column before landing on the floor.

 

“Please tell me you can make it, Davis. 'Cause if you weren't here… I don't know, it just wouldn't feel right.”

 

Deseree scrambled off the floor as the column toppled, slamming into a door that fell into a large box of doorknobs. They spilled onto the floor, scattering like balls on a pool table.

 

“I don't know if I can come.” Davis paced, unaware of Deseree and the carnage around him. “Deseree is visiting, and—”

 

“Great! I need as many friends around me as I can get. Most of the people coming are friends of either Tadd or Mom. I'll book a flight for the two of you.”

 

“Okay,” Davis said, “but Jack…”

 

“It's been forever. I'll e-mail you the flight info. Davis, I can't wait to see you. Gotta run.”

 

Davis heard the click on the other end of the line. Frozen in place, he slowly pulled the phone away from his ear and turned to look at Deseree in shock, mouth agape.

 

Deseree stared back at him, unsure of what to say.

 

After a long silence she said, “Okay, maybe this is a good thing. Closure, this will help you move on.”

 

“A good thing!” Davis finally replied, placing a hand on his forehead. “Closure!”

 

“Or not,” Deseree said, dusting off her pants.

 

Davis slammed the phone down onto the counter and stormed about the room, seemingly unaware that he was kicking the doorknobs.

 

“Married!” Davis finally screamed, causing Deseree to jump. “He can't do that…it's not even legal. And what the fuck kind of name is Tadd Austin? More like Toad Ass-ton.”

 

Deseree started to giggle.

 

“This isn't funny, Des.” He shot her an irritated look as he flung his hands into the air. “He's supposed to marry me! We were together for four goddamn years!”

 

“Davis.” Deseree tried to soothe him. “You haven't been together for almost six years. What did you expect?”

 

“That we would find our way back to each other.” Tears began to well up in his eyes. “We're still in love.”

 

“You meanyou'restill in love,” Deseree corrected gently, reaching out to take his hand.

 

“We belong together,” he said, jerking away from her. “I know he still loves me. He still calls… He has to love me.”

 

“Maybe you two just aren't meant to be, Davis.”

 

Davis stopped pacing and surveyed the room as if trying to find a place to hide from her words. She walked to him and placed her hands on his arms.

 

“When did you become so negative?” he asked.

 

“You've got to be kidding me,” she said as he jerked away from her.

 

“You're not helping here.”

 

“All I'm saying is that maybe you aren't being very realistic.”

 

“I can't let some Toad hop in and take Jack away from me,” Davis said, sitting down on a step to a raised platform filled with rows of doors. “Two weeks, Des… That's all they've had together.”

 

Deseree let out a sigh and sat on the step next to him.

 

“Toad can't possibly know how wonderful Jack is,” he said, resting his head in his hands. “The way the hair around his temples curls when he sweats, and how his eyes seem to be able to smile on their own. That he isn't afraid to stand up and defend himself, or anyone else who's being bullied. His cute little clean teeth dance.”

 

Deseree put her arm around him as Davis seemed to suddenly notice the doorknobs.


Page 2

 

“What the hell happened here?”

 

“His…whatdance?” Deseree asked, changing the subject.

 

“He has this little dance he does when he's finished brushing his teeth,” Davis said, smiling as he reached down and picked up a glass doorknob. “Something he and Candace used to do when he was little.” He turned the knob in his hand as light caught the reflection of the glass. Davis let out a defeated sigh as Deseree placed her head on his shoulder. She ran her hand over his back, and Davis felt a tear begin to run down his cheek as the thought of Jack being with someone else started to sink in.

 

“I can't lose him, Des. He's making a mistake. He means everything to me.”

 

“You mean you're actually going to go?” Deseree asked as Davis stood. She got up next to him.

 

“Oh my God.” He pointed to his reflection in the mirror of an antique fireplace mantel. As if seeing himself for the first time, he added, “Have you seen this?”

 

“It's not that bad,” Deseree answered, crinkling up her face.

 

“Are you on crack?” He began to hyperventilate. “I look like…like a heterosexual! I can't go to Chicago looking like this!”

 

Davis took off running toward the back of the store and threw open the door to the stairwell. He let out a shriek and ran up the stairs. Deseree looked around helplessly. She dashed back to the front door, flipped the CLOSED sign to face the window, locked the door, and took off up the stairs after Davis.

 

 

 

Davis burst through the front door to his loft and paced around the living room, muttering under his breath. Deseree walked through the front door, trying to catch her breath after climbing the two flights of stairs.

 

The apartment looked as if it had been replicated from an old film noir movie set. Classic curved lines and geometric shapes typical of art deco dominated the design. A couch and matching chair with large curved arms took up the bulk of the living room. They were covered in the original fabric and, with the exception of a small worn area on the piping of one of the sofa's arms, looked almost new. A large, wool antique area rug covered most of the wood floors. Its rich burgundy color had faded over the years. A massive flat-screen TV mounted on the opposite wall was the only item in the room betraying the historical accuracy of the space. Three large double-hung windows, without blinds or curtains, allowed the full morning sun to pour in along the front wall.

 

“Those stairs are murder,” Deseree said, observing Davis's tearstained cheeks.

 

“I can't meet the Toad like this,” he said, crossing his arms.

 

“Calm down, Tammy Faye.” Deseree looked him over. She walked up to him and ran her fingers through his hair, trying to figure out what to do with it. “You do have a world-renowned fashion designer at your disposal.”

 

“You'll help me?” he asked, with pleading eyes.

 

“I'll drag you out of the denim and cotton nightmare known as your wardrobe and have you looking like a rock star within a day.”

 

“And you'll come with me to Chicago?” he asked.

 

“You breaking out of your shell and laying claim to your man,” she said, smiling at the thought. “I wouldn't miss that for the world.”

 

“Thank you so much.” He threw his arms around her. “I don't know what I'd do if you weren't here.” Davis's eyes widened as panic swept over his face. He pulled away from her sharply. “Good Christ, I left the store open.”

 

“Calm down,” Deseree said, laughing at him. “I took care of it before I came up.”

 

Davis let out a sigh of relief as he hugged her again. “Thank God you showed up today of all days.”

 

They separated and she looked at him, started to say something, but stopped. She turned and walked over to a table full of framed photos. They consisted mainly of their college years, and she smiled looking over them. There were candid shots of Davis and Jack together, a shot of Deseree at one of her student fashion shows, Jack onstage performing in a play.

 

“Oh my God,” she said, picking up a picture of her and Davis dressed like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, dancing together. “I can't believe you have this.”

 

Davis walked over, looked down, and smiled. “From our ballroom dancing class,” he said, wiping his face dry.

 

“We were maniacs,” she said, setting the picture frame back down.

 

“We were good.” Davis reached down and turned the frame slightly, putting it back exactly as it was before she'd disturbed it.

 

“Who's this?” she asked, pointing to another picture of a glamorous woman singing next to a piano.

 

“That's Jack's mother, Candace,” he answered with a smile. “She has her own cabaret act in this really cool jazz club in Chicago, been doing it for years. We still talk once a week or so.”

 

“That's strange,” Deseree said, running her fingers over the top of the table, “still having a relationship with your ex-lover's mother.”

 

“We're still close.” He turned and headed into the kitchen. He picked an open bottle of wine up off the counter and yanked the cork out. “Although I don't understand why she didn't call me to warn me about the Toad,” he added, putting the bottle to his lips and taking a big swig.

 

“Why yes, I'd love a glass, thanks,” Deseree said with a smirk.

 

“Sorry.” Davis pulled a couple of glasses out of the cabinet. He walked back into the living room and flopped down on the sofa, then filled each glass with wine.

 

“Jack's her son, Davis,” she said, lingering at the photos a moment longer before joining him on the sofa. “If you and she are still friends, perhaps she's trying not to get involved.”

 

He handed her a wineglass and leaned back into the sofa as Deseree took a drink. Her eyes widened as she quietly spit the wine back into the glass. She looked at the glass funny and set it down on the coffee table.

 

“Maybe,” Davis said, staring out the windows. “But she was really upset with Jack when we broke up. I'd like to think she's on my side, but maybe she likes the stupid Toad. Jack did say she introduced them.”

 

“So what's your plan?” Deseree asked, leaning back and resting her cheek on Davis's chest. “Are you gonna scratch Toad's eyes out and throw him in a pool?”

 

“Of course not.” Davis put his arm around her and pulled her into him. “After you work your magic on me, all it will take is Jack and me being in the same room.”

 

“I hope for your sake you're right,” Deseree said, closing her eyes with a big yawn.

 

“Jack just needs to be reminded of what we had,” Davis said, looking down at her and smiling. Seeing she'd fallen asleep, he reached down with his free hand and brushed a stray curl off her face. He looked back up facing the windows. “So that's what we're going to do, you and me. Show him what he's been missing.”

 

As he listened to Deseree's breathing slow and regulate, he thought back to the comment she'd made about it being six years since he and Jack had stopped seeing each other. He wondered how it was even possible that much time had gone by without his realizing. His chest began to ache and he shut his eyes, squeezing them tight. In the back of his mind, he'd always felt as if he and Jack were still together. Just on a break of sorts. But not once had he ever really considered the fact that they wouldn't get back together. Random memories flooded his mind in a slide show. He smiled thinking about their first date. He'd been so nervous, but even that early in their history he'd felt an undercurrent flowing through his body that told him his life was about to change in ways he'd never even imagined it could.

Chapter Two 

 

 

Ten years ago

 

 

 

“You havegotto calm down,” Deseree said, tying her hair back into a ponytail. “You're turning completely red all over.”

 

“I can't help it,” Davis said, pacing back and forth in their dorm room. “I feel all angsty.” He fanned his face with his hand and looked down at his chest and stomach.

 

Their dorm room had two single beds pressed up against opposite walls. Davis had a plain brown comforter and a pillow on his bed, and Deseree's bed was piled high with throw pillows and had a pale blue, shiny, silklike duvet cover filled with a fluffy down comforter. There was one wood nightstand between the beds with a round porcelain table lamp and two alarm clocks sitting on top. The concrete block walls were painted white, and curtains in a fabric matching Deseree's bedding hung over the one window. Deseree hadTitanicandGood Will Huntingmovie posters hanging on the wall above her bed, and spread across the top of it were several vintageVogueandHarper's Bazaarmagazines from the 1950s. Davis had spotted them in an antique store and bought them for her earlier that day.

 

On the opposite wall was a large antique partners' desk. They'd found it together and bought it, along with two wooden chairs that had come out of an old school. One end was pushed up against the wall, so they each had access to their own side of the desk. Davis's side was all very neat and organized, while Deseree had sketches, colored pencils, and wadded-up pieces of paper littering her side.

 

Davis stopped pacing, holding out a hand as if to balance himself. “I feel like I might pass out.”

 

“Good Lord,” she said, picking up one of the magazines and getting up off the bed. She stood in front of Davis, fanning him with it. “You look like you're breaking out in a rash.”

 

“I know.” Davis turned to look in the mirror. “I can't go. I look wretched. Call him and tell him I'm sick.”

 

“It's too late,” Deseree said, shaking her head while fanning him. “He could be here any minute.”

 

“I'm not ready for this,” he said, beginning to hyperventilate.

 

“It's just a date, for Christ's sake,” Deseree said, laughing. “Sit down and put your head between your legs.”

 

Davis did as she ordered. Deseree tossed the magazine down and went over to the minifridge, from which she extracted a can of Diet Coke. She walked over to his bed and placed the can on the back of his neck.

 

Davis let out a long groan. “That feels good.”

 

“Just breathe slowly.”

 

“I don't know what it is, but this doesn't feel…casual,” Davis said. “When I see him or think about him…I get this feeling. It goes through me all the way down to the bone. Like…like he's going to completely change my world. Alter my universe to the point that I can never go back.”

 

“It's going to be okay,” Deseree said, lightly running her hand along his back. “I promise you, it will all be okay.

 

Davis sat up, and she looked over him. She got onto his bed on her knees and set the soda down. She began massaging his shoulders and he closed his eyes, letting out a sigh.

 

“See there,” Deseree said. “The redness is beginning to fade.”

 

“I feel better. Thank you.”

 

“You're going to go and have a nice dinner,” she said, massaging the back of his neck. “You'll talk and flirt and laugh and get to know one another…simple.”

 

“You're right,” Davis said, and his eyes popped open as he heard the knock at the door. He stood up and headed toward it.

 

“Shirt.” Deseree picked it up off the bed.

 

“Oh, right,” he said, smiling as he took it from her and slid it on. He walked to the door, buttoning it and shoving it into the waist of his jeans. He took a deep breath, exhaling as he opened the door. He felt his face flush as he smiled uncontrollably.

 

“Hello, beautiful,” Jack said, standing in front of him, holding a single white rose by the stem. He had the bud resting on his chin and he winked, smiling up at Davis. Jack was dressed in an old pair of blue jeans that seemed almost strategically worn in the areas where you'd want others' eyes to be drawn, along with a thick off-white knit sweater. The sweater looked old and worn in an appealing, comfy way. It fit loosely through his midsection but showed off his well-defined chest and shoulders. The sleeves were a little too long and they bunched up slightly falling into his elbows. He looked like a live-action statue ofDavid, only in full color as opposed to carved out of white marble. He had large brown eyes, high cheekbones, defined chin, full lips, and wavy black hair.

 

Davis melted, taking the rose as Jack held it out for him. “You look amazing.”

 

“I was going to get a red rose,” Jack said, entering the room as Davis stood back, holding the door for him to pass, “but I saw that one and, I don't know, it made me think of you.”

 

“Hi, Jack,” Deseree said, smiling up from her bed and cracking open the can of soda.

 

“Hey.” Jack glanced down over some of her sketches on the desk. “Those look great.”

 

“Thanks,” she said, twisting her hand back and forth. “I was just messing around.”

 

“It's perfect,” Davis said, placing the flower to his nose and smiling as Jack turned to face him. “You're perfect,” he added, shrugging and turning red again.

 

“You are adorable,” Jack said, reaching up and placing the back of his hand on Davis's red cheek. “Always blushing.”

 

His hand felt cool on Davis's face. Davis closed his eyes for a second, leaning into the caress slightly.

 

“If you leave it on the desk I'll put it in some water,” Deseree said, grinning.

 

“Thanks. Guess we should go?”

 

“Sure,” Davis said, setting down the rose.

 

“Good-bye,” Deseree called out as the door closed behind them. “Homos,” she added, shaking her head. “Drama, drama, drama.”

 

They walked down the dormitory hallway, and Jack followed Davis down the two flights of stairs. He grinned, letting his gaze settle on Davis's ass. They went out the doors into the cool fall night air, and Jack put his hand on Davis's shoulder to lead him in the opposite direction.

 

Davis felt chills run across his skin from Jack's touch, and he blushed again, thankful Jack couldn't see his crimson cheeks as they walked along the dimly lit sidewalk.

 

They made general chitchat as they walked to the Greek restaurant just off the far side of campus. Jack talked about the musicalHairspray, which he was going to be in that semester, playing the part of Corny Collins. He was looking forward to learning the music and all the choreography. They had a new music theater professor, and Jack seemed extremely excited by her. She was younger, in her late twenties, and Jack said he felt as though she had a ton of fresh ideas.

 

Davis sat back, letting Jack do most of the talking during dinner. He didn't know much about theater or musicals, other than some old Technicolor and black-and-white movie musicals he'd seen on TV. Davis loved to listen to Jack talk, the sound of his voice like velvet. His face became so animated and alive as he told stories about the theater and about other productions he'd been involved with.

 

The lights in the restaurant were low and the amber glass candle on the table flickered as the waitress took away their dinner plates. Drips of condensation ran down the glass as Davis picked up his soda and took a sip from the straw. He leaned back into the green vinyl booth and smiled back at Jack, who looked into his eyes.

 

“You don't talk much,” Jack said, pushing a stray piece of silverware to the side.

 

“Oh, sorry,” Davis said, looking down as he wiped the Formica tabletop with his paper napkin. “I just…I like listening to you.”

 

Jack giggled, realizing he'd embarrassed Davis. “Well, I love to talk, so we'll get along famously.”

 

Davis smiled, looking back up at him. “I'm sorry. I'm nervous.”

 

“I realize that,” Jack said, grinning. “And stop apologizing, I'm already crazy about you and I barely know you, so relax.”

 

“Okay,” Davis said, turning red again for the hundredth time as he smiled.He likes you, dimwit, so just chill. “I haven't really done this before, you know.”

 

“Done what?” Jack asked, smiling as Davis looked down at the table.

 

“Gone on dates,” Davis said, looking up to see if Jack would freak out.

 

“Not even in high school?” He was wide-eyed. “Like with a girl?”

 

“Nope,” Davis said, scrunching up his face. “It's weird, I know.”

 

“But you're so hot,” Jack said with a half smile. “I don't believe it.”

 

“I was kind of a nerd in school,” Davis said, tilting his head to the side. “Always had my nose stuck in some old history book. There was a guy I liked, though.”

 

“Really,” Jack said, leaning forward a little. “I hate him already.”

 

“No need,” Davis said, chuckling. “He did football, as well as girls.”

 

Jack smiled and then his mouth fell open. “Wait, are you saying what I think you're saying?”

 

“I don't know,” Davis said, panicking. “What do you think I'm saying?”

 

“That you're a…virgin?” Jack asked, eyes bulging as Davis bit his lip and turned beet red. The corners of Jack's mouth turned up and he added, “Holy shit.”

 

“You're right,” Davis said, looking down at the table. “I'm sorry. I should have said so before agreeing to go out with you. It's just that I get sick to my stomach when I'm with you, and…wait…that didn't…shit.”

 

Jack laughed out loud, startling Davis.Way to go, idiot. Tell the guy he makes you sick.

 

“I really like you,” Davis said, shrugging. “A lot. I guess I hoped you'd get to know me, and it wouldn't matter that I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing.”

 

“Oh, baby,” Jack said, leaning forward and placing an elbow on the table. “I don't care about that. I can show you what to do. I'd love to show you what to do.”

 

Davis felt Jack place his other hand on his knee under the table. His mouth fell open slightly, and he immediately felt his cock begin to stir between his legs. His chest began to fill with pressure as the waitress came up and dropped the check on the table. Jack removed his hand and leaned to the side, taking his wallet out of his back pocket. He was still smiling from ear to ear and laughed again, pulling some bills out and placing them on the table.

 

“Come on, Casanova,” he said, getting out of the booth.

 

Davis got up and followed him out of the restaurant. Back in the cool night air, Davis began to relax again and Jack reached up and mussed his hair a little before tossing his arm on Davis's shoulder. “You can come back to my room, and I'll teach you a few things?”

 

“What about your roommate?” Davis asked, stopping as panic swept over his whole body.

 

“Calm down, Gidget,” Jack said. “I have a single, so no roomie, and I won't do anything you're uncomfortable with.”

 

“Oh,” Davis said, as they began walking again. His heart began racing, and he felt his cock begin to twitch as he thought about being alone with Jack.

 

“You practically went into fight-or-flight mode, there,” Jack said, giggling. “We don't have to go back to my room. We could go somewhere else.”

 

“No,” Davis said, “I'm sorry. I want to.”He's going to kiss me. Fuck, what if I'm a terrible kisser?

 

“Okay, and stop saying you're sorry,” Jack said, squeezing his shoulder.

 

“Sorry,” Davis said, beginning to chuckle as the wind blew across his face.

* * *

 

Jack's room was the same size as the one he shared with Deseree, but he had a full-size bed. There was a small dresser on one wall with a TV and DVD player on top and an armoire in the corner. Davis sighed, a little relieved, thinking it probably wasn't his intention to bring him back here; Jack's bed hadn't been made. The covers were tossed open on one side and the sheets looked a little rumpled. A wicker hamper stood in the corner next to the closet, filled with dirty clothes. Jack flipped on the lamp next to his bed and asked Davis to turn off the overhead light. He pulled the comforter up and smoothed it out a little.


Page 3

 

“Sorry,” Jack said. “My bed's always a mess.”

 

Hopefully not because he was in it with someone else last night, Davis thought.

 

“I suck when it comes to the mundane little day-to-day details,” Jack said, walking up to Davis and taking him by the hands. “You can actually come in.” Jack laughed, pulling Davis away from the doorway. “I promise you won't need to make a run for it.”

 

Davis smiled as Jack pulled him closer. Jack wrapped his arms around his waist, and Davis looked up into his eyes. Jack cocked his head slightly and placed his lips onto Davis's. Davis watched Jack close his eyes, so he did the same and took in a sharp breath as Jack flicked his lips with the tip of his tongue. Davis opened his mouth and Jack slipped in his tongue, softly moving it in and out of his mouth. Davis began to reciprocate and he felt his cock spring up, fully erect and straining against the fabric of his underwear. Jack moaned and moved his hands to Davis's face, pressing his lips harder against his mouth, going deeper with his tongue. Davis felt Jack press into him and could tell he was hard as well. Jack pulled away and smiled, looking down between the two of them.

 

“Seems as though you enjoy that,” he said, rubbing his own erection into Davis's through his jeans.

 

Davis blushed, grinning from ear to ear as he tried to look away. Jack pulled his face back, forcing him to keep eye contact.

 

“Don't look away, beautiful. Don't ever look away,” Jack said with a serious expression as he leaned in to kiss Davis again.

 

Davis's entire body felt red-hot and his chest filled from Jack's words. He didn't want to look away. He didn't want to ever be away from Jack. Davis grabbed Jack by the belt loops of his jeans, pulling him tighter as Jack ground into him with his tongue and pelvis. Davis felt his dick begin to leak into his jeans and he felt a little light-headed, unable to catch a full breath as he kissed Jack. His entire body began to shake, and Jack pulled away.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked.

 

“Yeah,” Davis said, astonished, not knowing what was happening. He looked up at Jack and added, “You feel amazing.”

 

“Are you sure?” Jack asked, looking over his face.

 

“Yeah.” Davis laughed. “I don't know why I'm shaking.”

 

Jack smiled and said, “Probably nerves.”

 

Jack took a step back and turned, then walked over to the armoire. Davis's eyes widened, seeing how large the bulge in Jack's pants was. It was obvious Jack wasn't wearing any underwear, and Davis felt a little weak in the knees. He shook as he glanced over Jack's ass as Jack opened the doors to the armoire. He pulled out a bottle of wine and a corkscrew, then removed the cork. Jack filled two glasses and walked back to Davis, then handed him a glass.

 

“One of my best friends is a senior,” Jack said, taking a sip from the glass. “She buys it for me.”

 

Davis sniffed it and took a sip. He made an approving sound as he took a bigger drink. Jack smiled, watching him take another big gulp.

 

“Slow down there, buddy,” Jack said, taking a sip. “We don't want you trashed.”

 

“It's good,” Davis said, having more. He giggled as he began to feel the effects of the wine. He glanced back down at Jack's crotch and bit his lip. “I feel better.”

 

Laughing, Jack took Davis's glass and set it down on the dresser next to the TV. He set his own glass next to it and turned back to a smiling Davis. Jack smiled and walked back up to him. He took Davis's hand and placed it over the front of his jeans, pressing into his hand.

 

Davis's eyes got big as he took over for himself, massaging the large, hard lump that ran down Jack's pant leg. Jack pulled his sweater up over his head and tossed it to the floor as Davis ran his eyes over Jack's chiseled chest and cut abs. He had no hair other than a small trail running down from his belly button and disappearing into jeans. Davis lifted his hands and ran them over Jack's naked flesh. Jack reached up and began unbuttoning Davis's shirt. When he got halfway down, he slid a hand under the shirt and found his nipple. Davis gasped as Jack pinched it, lightly pulling it between his finger and thumb.

 

Davis leaned up, kissing him, while Jack pulled his hand out and continued with the remainder of the buttons. He pulled the shirt out of his jeans and slid it off Davis's shoulders. Their tongues were working one another over, and Jack grabbed Davis by the waistband of his jeans, pulling him closer. He unbuttoned and undid the zipper, shoving his hand into Davis's underwear. Davis moaned loudly as Jack took his hard-on into his hand, gently pulling up and down as he smeared the precum over the head.

 

Davis reached down, sliding his own jeans and briefs down over his hips, letting them fall to the floor. Jack pulled back and looked down over the naked body standing before him. Davis wasn't as cut at Jack, but he was thin, and Jack loved the way his tanned hands looked as they ran over Davis's soft white skin. Davis toed out of his sneakers and stepped out of his clothes, kicking them to the side. Jack turned, still with Davis's hard-on in his hand, and led him to the bed. He sat Davis on the bed, and Davis watched as Jack undid his jeans and slid them down his legs.

 

Davis looked at Jack's cock. “Jesus Christ.” Realizing that he'd said it out loud, he turned beet red again.

 

“I'll be damned,” Jack said, pushing Davis onto his back. “You actually blush all over.” Jack bent down, placing his hands on the bed, and took Davis's dick into his mouth.

 

“Holy…fuck.” Davis gasped, taking in a sharp breath as Jack's hot, wet mouth moved all the way down his shaft, sucking him in until Jack's nose pressed into his body. He lifted his body a little as Jack pulled up, creating more suction before taking him all the way in again. Jack took Davis's balls in his hand, wrapping his thumb and finger above them, and tugged gently on them as he worked his mouth up and down the shaft.

 

Davis felt the pressure build and his balls rise up. “I'm gonna…” He tried to get the words out before he exploded into Jack's mouth. Jack let out a deep, sexy moan as he continued to suck until Davis began to jerk wildly, putting his hands down to push him off.

 

Jack stood up and deviously smiled down at him. “I'm not forcing you into anything, am I?”

 

“No,” Davis said, sitting up and looking at Jack's huge dick. He frowned a little, biting his lip, and Jack moved closer, placing it in front of his face. Davis looked up at him and asked, “What if I'm no good?”

 

“You're already better than you think,” Jack said as a smile spread across Davis's face. “Just be careful with the teeth, and I know it's big, so don't worry about trying to take me all the way in.”

 

Davis licked his lips and took the large head into his mouth. Jack moaned as Davis ran his tongue over the head before moving farther down the shaft. He got almost halfway down before choking and pulling back.

 

“Try to open your throat the way you do when you take a deep breath,” Jack said, closing his eyes.

 

Davis moved his mouth back down the shaft and did as Jack suggested, getting a few more inches in. As he worked his way up and down, he began to pick up speed, gagging less as he got used to the feeling.

 

“Oh, yeah,” Jack said, placing his hands on Davis's head. “That's really fucking good.”

 

Davis tugged on his balls the same way Jack had done to him as he kept going. His jaw began to ache as Jack held his head in place, thrusting his hips forward, fucking his mouth, being careful not to shove too much of his dick in. Davis kept waiting for Jack to come, and finally pulled away, breathing heavily as sweat ran down his temple.

 

“Sorry,” Davis said.

 

“It's okay,” Jack said, through a deep groan. “That was pretty fucking good.”

 

Jack pushed him back onto the bed and crawled on top of him, pressing his full weight into Davis. He placed his mouth roughly against Davis's and shoved his tongue in. Davis reciprocated but felt horrible feeling Jack's erection pressing into him.

 

“Let me try again,” Davis said, pulling away.

 

“Just calm down,” Jack said, reaching down and grabbing Davis's cock. “We've got all night.”

 

Davis moaned as he began to feel himself getting hard again. “Are you going to fuck me?”

 

“What?” Jack asked, with a mildly shocked expression. “No.”

 

“Oh,” Davis said, looking confused as Jack leaned down to kiss him again. “You don't want to fuck me?”

 

Jack closed his eyes and smiled, still jacking Davis off as Davis ran his hand over Jack's chest. “Of course I want to fuck you. I'm just not going to. You're not ready for that, plus I'm too big for your first time.” Jack moved in to kiss him again.

 

“So you want me to be fucked by other guys and then you'll fuck me?” Davis asked, seeming confused as he looked up at Jack.

 

Jack dropped his hand. “What? No,” Jack said, shaking his head at the thought. “I don't think I'd like that at all. Don't go fucking other guys.” Jack crinkled up his forehead, amazed that he'd actually just said that. It was a foreign feeling, realizing he didn't like the idea of Davis with anyone else.

 

“Then you're always gonna be my first time.” Davis looked into Jack's eyes as he reached down and took Jack's cock in his hand.

 

“No way, Davis,” Jack said, smiling. “I'm not fucking you tonight. We can go get some dildos and…”

 

“What's a dildo?” Davis asked.

 

“It's a rubber cock,” Jack said, laughing. “And they come in several sizes.”

 

“Yuck,” Davis said, frowning as he squeezed the head of Jack's cock. “But I like this one.”

 

Jack closed his eyes and moaned, pulling himself up off the bed. “You're the pushiest virgin I've ever met,” Jack said as he walked over and grabbed the two glasses of wine off the bureau. He came back to Davis and shoved one of the glasses at him. “Drink it.”

 

Davis sat up, took the glass, and sucked all the wine down.

 

“This one too,” Jack said, switching glasses as Davis turned the glass up and finished off the second one.

 

“Roll over on your stomach,” Jack said, taking the glass out of his hand.

 

Davis did as instructed, and Jack put the empty glasses down on the nightstand. Davis watched him as Jack pulled out a condom and a tube. He began breathing heavily from the anticipation as Jack dropped them on the bed next to him and reached down, spreading his legs. Davis felt his dick begin to get really hard as Jack pulled his cheeks open. He gasped, feeling Jack's tongue on his hole.

 

“Jack,” he moaned, eyes rolling back.

 

Jack shoved his tongue into Davis, causing his body to spasm. He opened him up, pulling his ass cheeks tighter as he spit onto Davis's hole and began pressing a finger into him. “You have to relax your muscles,” Jack said, sliding his finger inside.

 

Davis writhed on the bed as Jack worked in a second finger. He pushed his ass out farther while Jack worked his fingers over his prostate, twisting and turning, trying to loosen him up. Jack's cock dripped precum and ached as Davis moaned, wriggling around on the bed. Jack finally pulled out his fingers and told Davis to roll over onto his back. Jack climbed onto the bed and positioned himself between Davis's legs. He picked up the condom and opened it, rolling it on as he looked down at Davis. Davis watched with a look of desperation on his face that almost made Jack come before ever entering him.

 

“Don't say I didn't try to warn you,” Jack said, closing the lid on the lube and working it over his shaft and into Davis's ass with his fingers. “You'll be begging me to stop in about one minute.”

 

“I won't, Jack. I promise,” Davis said, breathing heavily as his body glistened with sweat.

 

Jack shook his head and lifted Davis's legs, pushing them back as far as they could go, raising his ass up into the air. “Hold your legs back,” Jack said, and Davis grabbed them behind the knees.

 

Jack took his cock in his hand and ran it over the pink hole, causing Davis to moan. He began to push the head in as Davis tightened up.

 

“Relax your muscles,” Jack said, completely turned on and a little irritated, knowing he was going to have to stop as soon as he got started. He began to push in again, looking at Davis—who was trying desperately not to yell out in pain.

 

“Keep going,” Davis said, noticing Jack looking at him.

 

Jack pushed in farther, stretching Davis open. He closed his eyes and opened his mouth as he pressed farther in, feeling the tight heat envelop his cock.

 

Davis bit his lip, feeling like he was being split in two. He was screaming in his head to keep his mouth shut and take it like a man. He'd practically forced Jack into doing this and he'd be damned to hell and back before he made him stop. Davis breathed out, feeling Jack's cock slide deeper in.


Page 4

 

“I can stop,” Jack said, not wanting to hurt him but hoping he didn't have to stop at the same time. Davis's tight ass felt incredible and he wanted to keep going.

 

“Don't,” Davis said, clenching his eyes shut as he felt Jack go deeper. His eyes popped open and he exhaled, feeling Jack's pelvis press into his ass. He let out a little laugh, relieved he'd been able to take him all the way in.

 

“You feel incredible, Davis,” Jack said, placing his hands behind his knees, allowing Davis to let his arms fall to the bed. “We'll go really slowly.”

 

Davis smiled weakly, feeling like his ass was on fire but more determined than ever to lie back and let Jack do his thing. He could feel his head begin to swim as he relaxed and the wine began to take effect. “I'm fine, Jack.”

 

Jack began to slide his cock back out slowly, keeping constant watch over Davis's face. Davis winced a couple of times but maintained eye contact as Jack began to slowly work his shaft in and out. Beads of sweat ran down Jack's chest. It took every ounce of stamina he had to keep from getting lost in the ecstasy and letting his control slip. He picked up the rhythm, slowing for a bit when he felt Davis's body tense, then speeding up again. After a while, Davis began to moan and Jack watched with a smile as Davis's cock began to get hard again as he continued pumping his ass.

 

“Jack,” Davis said, whimpering and thrashing his head back and forth. He balled up wads of the bedding in his hands.

 

“Do you like that?” Jack asked, going faster, beginning to slap his pelvis into Davis's ass.

 

“Yes,” Davis said, between gasps. “Fuck yes.”

 

“You feel so good, baby,” Jack said, allowing his head to fall back and letting out a deep groan. He kept slamming into Davis, losing control as his eyes rolled back into his head. “I'm getting close.”

 

Davis reached up and took his dick in his hand, jerking himself off. He could feel his balls rise up as Jack pounded into him. Davis screamed, feeling his ass clench around Jack's dick as he shot a thick stream out, hitting himself in the side of the face.

 

“Oh, fuck, yeah…Davis,” Jack yelled, the head of his cock swelling as he filled the condom inside Davis.

 

Davis shot out again and again, each time Jack pushed back into him, feeling the warm fluid run over his fingers. Jack pushed all the way in one last time and let go of Davis's legs, which fell to the sides. Jack collapsed on top of him, breathing heavily, resting his cheek on Davis's shoulder. Davis wrapped his arms around Jack, hugging him tight.

 

“I've never…nothing ever,” Davis said between breaths, feeling his ass ache. “Thank you.”

 

“Thank you,” Jack said, closing his eyes, laughing out of sheer bliss and happiness. “I could die right now and be perfectly content.”

 

“Fuck that,” Davis said, with a look of panic. “We have to do that again.”

 

Jack's eyes popped open as he lifted his head and looked at Davis. “Seriously?”

 

Davis laughed as his body tingled. He nodded his head as he ran his hand through Jack's damp hair.

 

“I think I love you,” Jack said with a half smile, leaning down to kiss him again.

* * *

 

Davis walked into his dorm room and closed the door behind him. A smile spread over his face as he shut his eyes and leaned back against the door. He was still able to feel Jack's hands on his body. He felt his dick twitch and he giggled.

 

“You whore,” Deseree said, causing Davis's eyes to pop open.

 

Davis looked at her standing in the middle of the room with her arms crossed and felt his face turn bright red.

 

“You dirty, dirty, morning-after-walk-of-shame whore,” she said, smiling from ear to ear. “You totally had sex last night.”

 

Davis pushed his body off the door and walked into the room, kicking off his shoes. He went over to the minifridge, not making eye contact, and took out a Diet Coke.

 

“You did!” she squealed. “I thought maybe you just slept over, but you did it.” She started jumping up and down yelling, “Davis did it,” over and over.

 

Davis opened the soda and started laughing out of nervousness. “Will you shut up?” he asked as he tried to take a drink between laughs. “The entire floor's going to hear you.”

 

“Oh please, half of them are in class, which is where I should be,” Deseree said, running up to him and shaking him. “Tell me, tell me… I wanna know everything!”

 

“I am so not discussing this with you.” Davis felt his face flush again. “Why aren't you in class?”

 

“You most certainly will,” Deseree said, yanking him over between the beds and sitting down on hers as Davis continued to stand, hovering over her. “Like I'd leave… Hello…you didn't come home last night. Nothing short of a fire was going to run me out of this room until you got back.”

 

Davis looked down at her as she sat patiently waiting for him to spill the beans. “I'm not giving any details.”

 

Deseree watched Davis flinch a little as he sat on his bed across from her and her eyes widened. He looked up as she gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.

 

“What's wrong?” he asked, looking concerned.

 

“You did up-the-butt on the first date!” Deseree yelled. She fell back onto the bed laughing as she said, “Oh my God,” over and over.

 

“Will you please stop yelling things?” Davis begged. He took a drink and smiled a little, feeling the dull ache in his backside.

 

Deseree sat back up on the bed. “Look at you.”

 

Davis locked eyes with her and stopped smiling.

 

“You loved it. You loved up-the-butt.”

 

“I did not,” Davis said, giggling. “I mean,wedid not.”

 

“Liar!” she said, putting her finger in his face. “You're getting all splotchy. You could never play poker…although you loved getting poked.”

 

“If you don't stop talking about poking and butts I'm leaving this room this instant,” Davis warned.

 

“Okay…sheesh, I'm sorry.” She grabbed his soda and took a drink before looking at the can and handing it back. “Fuck me, I just had Jack's dick in my mouth.”

 

“You did not,” Davis said, laughing.

 

“Please tell me you didn't lick his ass,” she said, getting up from her bed and looking around the room as if she needed to find something with which to disinfect her mouth.

 

“I brushed my teeth,” Davis said, taking another sip.

 

“You licked his ass!”

 

“No!” Davis yelled, beginning to laugh nervously..

 

“Oh thank God,” she said, sitting back down across from him on her bed.

 

“He did lick mine, though,” Davis said, laughing harder as he watched the eyes bug out of her head.

 

“Ew!” Deseree said.

 

“I highly recommend it,” Davis added.

 

“You probably kissed him after that, didn't you?” she asked, thinking for a moment. “It was really that good?”

 

“Oh yeah,” Davis said, calming down a bit and blushing again, unable to believe he was talking with her about this.

 

Deseree put her fingers to her lips, like she was considering the possibility for the first time.

 

“How do you know so much about gay sex?” Davis asked.

 

“Like you're my first gay friend,” she said, throwing an arm into the air. “So conceited. That and gay porn.”

 

“That might have been a helpful visual aid for the virgin in the room,” Davis said.

 

“Thereisno virgin in this room,” Deseree said, raising an eyebrow as Davis's eyes opened wide. “And it's not like I own any. It probably would have just scared the shit out of you. Honestly, what rock have you been living under, anyway?”

 

“I don't know.” Davis looked up at her with wide eyes. “You're kinda my first best friend.”

 

“Aw.” Deseree got up and sat next to him on his bed. She placed an arm around him and added, “That's both very sweet and very sad.”

 

Davis giggled as he noticed the white rose sitting on the desk in a plastic cup. He got up and walked over to it, leaning down to sniff it.

 

“Look at that hot little ass,” Deseree said, grinning as Davis turned around. “Jack must have been salivating all over himself.”

 

“Stop that,” Davis said, scowling. “It wasn't like that.”

 

“Then what was it like?” Deseree raised her eyebrows.

 

He smiled a little and stopped. No way in hell was he going to tell her that he'd practically begged. “It was just…not like that.”

 

“Well, at least you've been broken in,” Deseree said, frowning. “Now you can start whoring around like the rest of us.”

 

Davis shook his head disapprovingly. “You don't whore around, and I certainly won't be. All I want is Jack.”

 

“Okay, calm down there,” Deseree said. “You don't just settle down with a guy after one date. You're not a lesbian for crying out loud. Jack's a bit of a player…don't go expecting too much.”

 

“He told me he didn't want me to fuck other guys.” Davis looked confused.

 

“Was that before or after he fucked you?” she asked.

 

“Before,” Davis said. “And he said he thought he loved me.”

 

“My sweet, trusting little commitment queen,” she said, shaking her head. She pulled her legs up to sit cross-legged on the bed. “Guys will generally say anything they think you wanna hear in order to stick their thing in you.”

 

“Well, this is different.”

 

A knock at the door distracted them both.

 

“I just don't want you to get too attached,” Deseree said as Davis went to the door. “I don't want you to get hurt.”

 

Davis scowled at her, shaking his head as he opened the door. Deseree's mouth fell open slightly as Davis opened the door and revealed Jack standing in the hall. He had his hands behind his back and a huge smile on his face, showing off his perfect rows of bright white teeth.

 

“You left something at my room last night,” Jack said in a teasing, sexy voice.

 

Davis blushed as a few people in the hall, hearing the comment, turned to look.

 

“I'm sorry,” Davis said, smiling weakly as he felt a charge rush through his entire body. “What did I leave?”

 

“This,” Jack said as he reached out with his arms, grabbing Davis around the neck and waist. Jack pulled him out of the doorway and into his body. He smiled wickedly as Davis gasped, and they locked eyes. Jack pressed his lips onto Davis's mouth and softly slid his tongue in, kissing Davis deeply and slowly. One of the girls in the hallway let out a squeak and the other one smiled. The guy farther down the hall dropped his laundry basket. Deseree's mouth fell totally open. She craned her body out trying to see better and lost her balance, falling off the bed onto the floor.

 

“Fuck me,” she said, giggling.

Chapter Three 

 

 

Present day

 

 

 

Deseree convinced Davis to fly into Chicago Tuesday afternoon after explaining that Springfield might not be the most fashion-forward destination with which to pull off her grand make-over scheme. Davis booked a suite at the Belden-Stratford Hotel for himself and Deseree because it was located on the opposite side of Chicago from where Candace lived. They had to be back at the airport before four o'clock on Thursday, which was when Jack still assumed they would be arriving in Chicago. He was nervous about showing up two days early and didn't want to take the chance they might accidently run into Candace or Jack. The last thing he wanted was to be seen before Deseree worked her magic on him. Deseree had already gotten to work making appointments for the following afternoon at a salon as well as a day spa. Her reputation as a designer opened a lot of doors. They had dinner in their room that first night and laid out plans for the following day. True to form, Davis had to have everything planned out. He wanted as much as possible, if not everything, done on Wednesday, leaving Thursday morning open for any last-minute fashion emergency.

 

Wednesday morning, after a power breakfast, including a few too many mimosas for Davis, they hit the stores. Deseree was, of course, meticulous. At each of the stores and boutiques they entered, she scouted the salesperson she thought would be the most willing to sympathize with Davis's situation and told them the whole story. Humiliated at first, Davis began to understand why she felt the need to do this. Each time, with a knowing look, the sales associate became a willing coconspirator in Davis's battle to win back Jack…another soldier in the Davis Andrews army of true love. Armed with the weapons of color coordination and the skills necessary to hide imperfection and accentuate packaging, they swarmed to Davis. Embarrassed and uncomfortable at first, having strangers yanking clothes on and off his body with no regard for his modesty, he eventually settled into the rhythm, feeling like a life-size boy Barbie. It also didn't hurt his ego when a couple of salesmen flirted with him. He laughed, realizing that it was the first time in quite a while that he'd stood in front of another man in nothing but his underwear. He had to fight like hell to keep from getting aroused when one particularly cute blond guy with a tight, compact little body allowed his hands to linger a little longer than necessary and continually patted his ass. He and Deseree shopped like demons possessed by color and texture. Each time Davis picked something out, Deseree rolled her eyes and snatched the garment from him while giving him a disapproving look.

 

There were endless debates about the way the clothes hung on his frame, and a ludicrous amount of attention paid to the way everything made his butt look. At Macy's, there were a good six or seven people standing around offering up opinions about his ass, several of whom didn't even work at the store. Everywhere they went, as with a horrible car wreck, people seemed to have to stop and look. All eyes were focused on Davis, and he was truly shocked to realize how much he liked it.

 

Davis handed his credit cards over to Deseree after extracting a promise from her not to let him know how much they were spending. Still, he was sure that a small third world country could be fed for what he forked over. After leaving the last boutique, they sent all the clothes back to the hotel in the car they had hired for the day while the two of them hit the day spa. Davis had a deep tissue massage by a wet dream named Bruce. There was precious little of Davis's body that Bruce didn't have his very large, well-tanned hands on. After about ten minutes, Davis began to wish he'd massage that precious percentage too. He spent an hour in a chair having a variety of pastes spread over his face, and finally a compact pixie of a girl blew oxygen over his face. They left the spa with enough products to maintain his new glow for several weeks.

 

At the hair salon, Davis almost fell asleep during the scalp massage. Deseree asked Davis if he thought the stylist, whose name was Guinevere, looked like Fiona Apple. Deseree rolled her eyes when she realized that Davis didn't know about whom she was talking. Guinevere hand brushed some cream into his hair for highlights. It smelled funny and Davis couldn't imagine this was going to end well. After what felt like ages under a heat lamp with foil all over his head, Guinevere finally set about cutting his hair as Deseree threw out comments to her. She ultimately worked some goop into it, flipping it out in different directions. Des took one look at him and squealed with delight.

 

“You look like a Goo Goo Doll,” she said, clapping her hands. “Toad is going down in flames. The only people on this earth who could resist that face now are six feet under, baby.”

 

While Davis couldn't believe he was shelling out almost two hundred dollars to look the same way he looked when he rolled out of bed in the morning, and he wasn't entirely sure what a Goo Goo Doll looked like, he assumed by the expression on Deseree's face that it was a good thing.

 

As they rode back to the hotel in the cab, Davis stared out the window at the concrete and glass scenery passing by. Deseree was going over the list of things they still had to get done that day and talking to herself about which outfits should be worn and when. He closed his eyes, still able to feel the masseur's hands on his body. He wished it had been Jack's hands pressing into his skin.

 

Davis let out a little giggle as Deseree argued with herself over what he would wear the next day when they met up with Jack. He'd forgotten exactly how much life she brought into his own sedate existence and how lonely he'd been during his senior year with both Deseree and Jack graduated and gone. Between the sexual energy he'd always felt when Jack was around and Deseree's spirited disposition, it was as if someone had turned out all the lights and left him alone in the dark. Sitting beside her in the cab, he realized that it wasn't just Jack who he'd been living without all that time; it was Deseree as well.

 

Deseree had been the first person who ever looked Davis in the face and told him he was gay. Davis knew what the word meant, he'd heard it before, but for some reason had just never thought,Hey, you're a big homo. He had been amazed at the time with how comfortable he had been with it. There was finally a nice, neat little category in which he could place himself, and there was nothing Davis loved more than placing things in nice, neat categories. He'd instantly fallen in love with her at that moment for helping him realize it was okay to be who he was.

 

When he and Jack got back together, he'd be going back to New York with Jack—getting Deseree back as well. He looked over at her, still talking to herself, and he took her hand. She looked at him, not missing a beat in her tangent, and he smiled. Maybe he had a fairy godmother he didn't know about. It seemed like providence that she had wound up on his doorstep yesterday.


Page 5

Chapter Four 

 

 

Davis woke up and rolled over in his bed to look at the clock. Seven thirty. He was used to waking up at the ass crack of dawn, but he'd hardly slept as it was. He yawned as he sat up, feeling his stomach flutter with uneasiness, but he was unable to tell if it was nerves or excitement. He got out of bed and made his way into the bathroom. He turned on the water and bent over the sink. Beginning his new morning skin regimen, he smiled at himself in the mirror.

 

If anyone had ever told him that pampering himself could change the way he perceived himself, he never would have believed them. Not on the inside, of course, but on the outside. There was something to it, though. It made him feel like a different person…special. He splashed water on his face and picked up a small tube. He rubbed the lotion like soap onto his face, gently massaging it into his skin. He just felt better looking. He splashed water on his face and patted it dry with a clean white hotel towel.

 

As he brushed his teeth, he heard Deseree come into his room and rummage through the bags. He rinsed and spat, then wiped his mouth with a towel. He looked over his body and frowned.

 

“Do you think I should have gone to a tanning thingy?” he asked as he walked back into the room.

 

Deseree was standing over the bed in a gray men's pajama top. Her black lace panties peeked out the teeniest bit along the sides. Her long legs stretched down to bare feet shuffling over the carpet as she moved around the bed sorting through the clothes. Her hair looked like a mangled mass of abused curls, except where it was mashed down on top by the sleep mask she'd pushed up onto her head.

 

“No.” She looked up at him. “Hi, naked much?”

 

“Sorry,” he said as he rifled through a shopping bag for new underwear. He found what he wanted and slipped them on. “I look awfully pale.”

 

“You are awfully pale,” she said, turning her attention back to the clothes. “But your skin is beautiful. It's a soft, powdery white, not a pasty redneck white. I know women who would kill for your skin.”

 

“I'm not a woman,” Davis said, standing next to her and looking down at the bed as she picked up a pair of black leather pants and set them to the side. “Yeah, I wasn't too sure about those either.”

 

“Oh, you're wearing those,” she said, placing her hand on his shoulder for balance as she lifted her leg to scratch it. “Along with this,” she added, setting her foot back down and picking up a thin, black button-down shirt and placing it next to the leather pants.

 

“I think this it too much for daytime,” Davis said, curling his lip.

 

“I told you I'd make you look like a rock star.” She patted his ass. “Now try it on.”

 

Davis pulled on the pants, secretly loving the way they hugged his hips. He slipped on the shirt, which hung a little longer than a normal shirt. Deseree buttoned it, leaving the top three undone. She stepped back and smiled.

 

“Christ,Iwanna fuck you,” she said.

 

Turning to look at himself in the mirror, he cocked his head to the side. He lifted his arm, puzzled still by what was so cool about the sleeves being a little too long. “I look like the undead.”

 

“Vampires are hot,” she said.

 

He squinted at his reflection and walked closer to the mirror. “Des, you can kinda see my nipples through this shirt.”

 

“I know,” she said with an evil smile. “You only get one shot at a new first impression. Might as well go in…both guns blazing.”

 

A knock at the door told them that their breakfast from room service had arrived.

 

“You're dressed, do you mind?”

 

“Sure,” Davis said. He was already walking out into the living area and heading toward the door.

 

Deseree waited in his room until she heard the door to the hotel room close.

 

“You look a little green,” Davis observed, pouring coffee.

 

“Must be the moo shu from last night,” she said.

 

 

 

After breakfast, Deseree gave Davis lessons in acting sexy. She showed him how she ran her finger gently from her neck toward her cleavage while she was talking, as if she didn't even realize what she was doing, and how she played with the collar of her shirt while tilting her head. Davis watched intently until she finally had him stand up and try it. She had him do it a few more times before she moved on, showing him simple ways to touch another person suggestively, without seeming creepy.

* * *

 

As Deseree and Davis waited for Jack to pick them up at the new arrivals area, Davis began to get antsy.

 

“I feel like a prostitute,” he said, pulling at the formfitting shirt.

 

“Bitch all you want,” she said, shaking her head at him. “You just watch his eyes when he sees you. They'll be plastered to those pecs all day.”

 

“I feel nauseous,” he said, placing a hand on his stomach.

 

“Quit whining, and for Christ's sake, don't sweat,” she said, looking him over. “You'll get all splotchy. Just breathe in and out very slowly.”

 

Davis began the breathing exercises as he looked over the crowd. He reached over to grab Deseree's hand. “There he is.”

 

Deseree turned, moving in front of Davis, and faced him. “Gotta turn on the headlights.” She reached up, pinching and twisting his nipples.

 

“Ouch, what the hell?” he asked, as she turned back around, standing next to him.

 

“Nothing like hard nipples to make a man think about sex.” She plastered on a smile.

 

“Right.” Davis smiled as he watched Jack through the crowd. “'Cause it's not enough you can actually see my nipples through the shirt.”

 

“Don't get snappish with me.” She waved at Jack as he made his way through the crowd toward them. “For the next few days, my little Frankenqueer, you are going to be nothing but hot, juicy eye candy.”

 

Davis began to fidget as Jack got closer, and Deseree reached over to smack him in the arm.

 

Only a few months older than Deseree, Jack Monroe still had the same boyish good looks from his college days. He was more beefed up and masculine looking, but he could still pass for much younger than his twenty-nine years. He had the same big brown eyes that always appeared to be smiling, but he walked with slightly more determination, like a man who was very comfortable in his skin. His black hair was parted to one side, slightly falling over one eye and cropped short in the back. As he got clear of the crowd, Jack stopped and his mouth fell slightly open.

 

“I told you,” Deseree whispered under her breath. “Never doubt me again.”

 

As Jack reached them, he looked briefly at Deseree and smiled before wrapping his arms around Davis, squeezing him tight. They still fit into one another perfectly, and Davis felt Jack noticed as much as he did.

 

“It's good to see you, monkey face,” Jack said.

 

Davis could feel the heat from Jack's body. He felt the warm tears collect in his eyes. “You too,” Davis said, breathing in the scent of soap mixed with a hint of cologne and leather from Jack's jacket.

 

They separated and Jack smiled, reaching up and wiping a little tear off Davis's cheek with his thumb. He turned and gave Deseree a hug.

 

“And you, you crazy woman,” Jack said. “Everywhere I go in New York I see your name and clothes in display windows. We really should hang out more.”

 

“When you got it, market it and sell the hell out of it,” she said with a sharp nod into his shoulder. She patted his back.

 

“I'm glad you came,” Jack said, pulling away from her.

 

“Someone had to come and beat the guys off him,” Deseree said, nudging her head at Davis.

 

“I see that,” Jack said, walking around Davis, looking him up and down. “I can't believe it, monkey face, you look…”

 

“Nutritious?” Deseree asked.

 

“I was going to say fucking hot, but…”

 

“Yeah, no…that works for me,” Davis said, beaming from ear to ear.

 

As Jack and Davis exchanged small talk about Candace, luggage, and where they were heading from the airport, Deseree moved around and positioned herself behind Jack. Getting Davis's attention, she began puckering up her lips, shaking her shoulders, and making faux-sultry expressions. Bringing her hand up to her neck and letting it run slowly down between her breasts, she mouthed the command, “Think sex.”

 

Davis took her cue and reached up to his neck, running his fingers slowly down through the center of his chest and across his stomach. Tilting his head to the side, Davis watched as Jack's eyes followed his hand.

 

“We should…” Jack started to say. He wet his lips with his tongue.

 

Davis moved his hand back up to his chest, slightly lifting his shirt so just a tiny bit of flesh peeked out above his belt.

 

“I'm sorry, Jack, what was that?” Davis asked as Deseree held up two thumbs behind Jack's back and mouthed, “Score.”

 

“Huh,” Jack said, snapping his eyes back up. “Uh…go. I was saying we should probably go.”

* * *

 

In the car on the way to Candace's apartment, Jack filled them in on plans for the rest of the day. They had a couple of hours to talk over cocktails and dinner, and about an hour to get ready for the party. Jack said it was kind of the gay equivalent to a bachelor party except that since there were two grooms, they had just decided to throw one huge party.

 

The whole thing seemed very disturbing to Davis. He'd imagined just being in a room alone with Jack, the two of them simply talking about what they loved about each other and privately exchanging their vows to one another.

 

When they reached Candace's apartment, Davis dropped his bags, and Jack pulled in two wheeled suitcases.

 

The apartment was spacious with high vaulted ceilings. There were large windows looking out over the Chicago skyline and the blue water of the lake in the distance. There was overstuffed furniture in tone-on-tone shades of cream with splashes of sage green accent pillows. Huge tropical plants in ornate pots were scattered about. The floors were a dark wood plank and the walls were painted a dark cream. A black grand piano covered with framed photos sat to one side.

 

“Welcome home,” Jack said, gently squeezing Davis's shoulder.

 

“Everything's different.” Davis looked over the room in mild shock.

 

“Candace has redone the place.” Jack patted him softly on the back.

 

Davis turned to look at Deseree as if he was about to cry. She smiled at him and said, “It's lovely.”

 

“My, my,” that seductive Rita Hayworth-like voice called out from behind them. “Turn around and let me look at you.”

 

Davis turned and smiled, looking over the voluptuous woman standing before him. Candace was leaning against the wall at the edge of the hallway wearing a formfitting dark green dress. As ever, she was perfectly made-up and coiffed, as if ready to go onstage and belt out a couple of Cole Porter standards. Davis walked over to her, and she stood up as he leaned into her.

 

“I can't believe you're actually here,” Candace said, closing her eyes. She grabbed Davis by the shoulders and pushed him back. “What in the name of Cher have you done with the shy, skinny little boy that showed up on my doorstep all those years ago…and who is this extremely handsome imposter here in his place?”

 

Davis hugged her again, trying to hold back his tears. Even though they talked by phone all the time, it had been years since he'd actually been in the same room with her.

 

“Sweetheart,” Candace said, “I can't look at you when you're wrapped around me, and you are, if nothing else, a sight to behold.”

 

“Candace, you look ravishing.” Davis pulled away.

 

“I know,” she said, walking around Davis and looking him up and down. She started fanning her face with her hand and added, “I bet you're sorry you let this one get away now, Jack. Davis, you look absolutely…”

 

“Luscious?” Deseree asked, sticking out her hand and walking up to Candace. “Hi…Deseree…the houseguest you weren't expecting.”

 

“We all went to college together, Mom.” Jack glided up behind Davis and wrapped his arms around his waist. “She's actually the one to blame for introducing me to the one that got away here.”

 
Page 6

Davis settled back into Jack's body as Candace hugged Deseree, giving her a peck on the cheek.

 

“Well, dear,” Candace said, thumbing the lipstick off Deseree's cheek, “for that you will always be welcome in this house.”

 

“While I can take the credit,” Deseree said, looking over at Jack and Davis, “something tells me these two would have found one another without me. They were so glued together in college it would have taken the jaws of life to separate them.”

 

Davis smiled and winked at Des. He turned to Candace. “I'm sure you've heard of her. Deseree Wildwood…fashion designer.”

 

“Of course, I saw the piece the Style Network did on you,” Candace said, taking Deseree by the arm. “Jack, why don't you show Davis to his room, and I'll take Ms. Wildwood to hers…girl talk.”

 

“Call me Des.” She picked up a bag as Candace walked her toward the hall.

 

“Des, let's talk shoes.”

 

“My favorite subject.” Deseree beamed.

 

As the two of them disappeared down the hall, Jack threw one of Davis's hanging bags over his shoulder and picked up two of his suitcases. “Do you think you can handle the other two?” Jack asked.

 

Davis shot Jack a disapproving look as he picked up his other two bags. He followed Jack down the hall, stopping as if by instinct at the first door. Jack's bedroom. It used to betheirbedroom, Davis thought, as a slight pang in his chest made it momentarily difficult to catch his breath. He thought about the time the two of them had spent holed up in there, talking and laughing—how he'd almost wound up with a concussion from banging his head into the massive, solid wood headboard over and over the first time Jack fucked him on that bed. Davis noticed Jack had disappeared down the hall and ran to catch up.

 

“Just how long were you planning to stay?” Jack asked, as he shifted the luggage in his hands. “You have enough luggage here for three people.”

 

“Well, you never know, Jack.” Davis walked into the guest room as Jack set the bags on the floor. “I've learned life tends to throw you a lot of curves. I like to be prepared for anything.”

 

“Oh, I see.” Jack winked. “The boy from the Ozarks has come to wreak havoc and turn the big city on its ear.”

 

You have no idea. “I like to keep my options open,” Davis said, walking in front of Jack and bending to set his bags on the floor. He looked back and caught Jack looking at his ass.

 

“Why do I get the feeling you have something up your sleeve?” Jack asked, squinting.

 

“It's practically a see-through shirt,” Davis said, innocently, lifting his arms and folding them behind his head.

 

“That's it. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear you were flirting with me,” Jack said with a big grin.

 

“You would, ego man,” Davis responded. “I think it was you who was just checking out my ass. I'm just being me. Do you think you can handle that?”

 

Jack smiled as his face turned a little red. Busted. He moved close to Davis and reached up to grab his chin. Jack looked into Davis's eyes as if searching for something. “Tough guy. I guess I don't have much of a choice.”

 

“I guess you don't.”

 

Davis took Jack's hand and removed it from his face, but he didn't loose the hand. He took a step closer.Kiss me, damn it, he thought, close enough to feel Jack's breath on his face.

 

Jack blinked and let go of Davis's hand. “I'm glad…to see you're doing so well.” He took a step back and added, “I was a little worried you might be upset by all of this.”

 

“Please, Jack. It's not like I've sat around mooning over you.”I'm lying. I have been mooning!“If you're happy, I'm happy for you.”

 

“Great,” Jack said, with a half smile as he turned to walk out the door. “Dinner's in about thirty minutes,” Jack tossed back, rounding the corner. He looked just a little uneasy in his departure.

 

Fuck me, Davis thought, letting out a big rush of air as he fell back onto the bed. He closed his eyes and let out a little whimper.Damn, this sucks ass. He rolled his head to the side, looking at the wall—the only thing separating him from Jack's bedroom. This room used to be Jack's study. Now it was a guest room. He hated that everything about Candace's apartment had changed. It used to feel like home to him. Now he actually felt like a guest—wasa guest—and he didn't like it one little bit.

 

For holidays and summer breaks, he and Jack had always stayed with Candace in Chicago. At first, Davis did it to avoid having the big coming-out discussion with his parents. He always found some excuse for why he was unable go home: work, intersession classes, whatever. After the first visit to Chicago, though, Candace and Davis had their own love affair of sorts. She was the type of mother for whom you'd date a guy just to spend more time with her. Over the summers, the three of them did everything together. Davis always felt Candace had been relieved Jack was gay. In her mind, she felt as though she would never lose her son to another woman the way she had lost Jack's father. Candace never spoke about Jack's father, but Davis always felt it was a very painful part of her life.

 

Davis rolled over onto his stomach and closed his eyes. He let out a whimper as he pulled himself up off the bed to head back into the apartment for dinner.

Chapter Five 

 

 

Davis leaned back in his chair, stealing glances at Jack as Deseree and Candace conversed. The remnants of dinner still lay on the dining room table and Jack poured himself some coffee. Jack filled Davis's cup with the steaming liquid. He smiled at Davis, giving him a wink, and Davis smiled in turn into the half-empty glass as he took another sip of wine.

 

“Was your flight okay?” Candace asked, looking at Deseree. “I forgot to ask earlier.”

 

“Yeah,” Deseree answered, tapping the handle of her spoon with her nail. “Especially for Davis.”

 

Davis looked at Deseree and smiled weakly, wondering what the hell she was talking about.

 

“There was this really hot businessman on the plane flirting shamelessly with him,” Deseree said with a grin.

 

Davis laughed nervously and took a big sip of wine. He noticed Jack's ears perk up as he placed his coffee cup down and looked over at Davis.

 

“He was with some big production company in Hollywood, wasn't he?” Deseree asked, looking at Davis. “What was it he said to you?”

 

“I…” Davis started, clueless about what he was supposed to add to the growing lie. “I don't think this is the time…”

 

“He's so modest,” Deseree continued. “The guy hands him his business card, telling Davis he'd love to fly him out to LA whenever he wants.”

 

Candace leaned forward and placed an arm on the table. “Aren't you just the little tartlet?”

 

“Well, you know,” Davis said, his face burning slightly, “these things happen.”

 

“My monkey face has turned into a little pimp daddy,” Jack said with a half smile.

 

“Okay.” Deseree laid her arms on the table. “So what's with the monkey face? I've never understood this little term of endearment.”

 

“It's nothing.” Davis smiled, as he and Jack looked at one another. “One of the first movies we ever saw together was some old black-and-white Hitchcock film with Cary Grant and…shoot…um, Joan something…Fontaine!”

 

“Suspicion,” Jack said, taking a sip of coffee and his eyes away from Davis.

 

Davis's gaze drifted down to his wineglass, smile fading a bit. “Yeah, that was it.”

 

“I vaguely remember that one,” Candace said, looking between the two men.

 

“And monkey face?” Deseree asked.

 

“That was Cary's pet name for Joan in the movie,” Jack explained, looking back over at Davis.

 

“Well, that's not at all rude,” Deseree said a little loudly in an attempt to snap Davis out of his haze. “I'd smack the hell out of a guy if he called me that.”

 

Jack reached over and touched Davis's hand. Davis looked up at him, then to Candace and Deseree. “No…it was sweet,” he said as his eyes began to well up. He smiled and let out a little laugh, feeling Jack squeeze his hand. “I guess you probably shouldn't call me monkey face anymore.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“You're getting married,” Davis answered, withdrawing his hand from Jack's and pouring some cream into his coffee.

 

Deseree was examining Davis as if wondering what the hell he was doing. She turned her attention to Jack, who seemed a little stunned.

 

Jack pulled his hand back. “So what? I've always called you monkey face.”

 

“I don't think your new husband would probably appreciate it, Jack.” Davis stirred his coffee. “I know I wouldn't like it if the situation were reversed.”

 

“Oh,” Jack said, with a slight sting to the expression on his face. He looked at Candace. Her expression said that she agreed with Davis. “I see. I hadn't really thought of that.”

 

“Deseree, is your wine okay?” Candace asked. “You've barely touched it.”

 

“Oh, it's fine,” Deseree answered with a big smile. She seemed happy the subject had been changed. “I'm saving myself for the party.”

 

Jack looked away from Davis and smiled at her. “Please, you could drink us all under the table.”

 

“And have many times,” Davis said, composing himself.

 

“Boys, stop it,” Deseree said in her flirty tone. “You insinuate I need a trip to the Betty.”

 

Candace laughed as she got out of her chair and picked up the plates in front of her. “Speaking of the party, it's just about time for this gal to pull a wardrobe change.”

 

“Let me help,” Deseree said, grabbing up her own dishes along with Davis's and following Candace into the kitchen.

 

Davis and Jack sat in silence for a moment before Davis got up. He faced Jack and smiled. “Well…guess I'll go run through the shower. Wash the day off me.”

 

Jack spun around in his seat and opened his mouth to say something, only to stop himself. He crinkled up his forehead as he watched Davis disappear out of the room. “You'll always be my monkey face,” he murmured. He let out a frustrated sigh as he got out of the chair, gathered up his dishes, and headed into the kitchen.

* * *

 

Deseree peeked out of her bedroom door, looking up and down the hall. She crept out of her room, quietly shutting the door behind her, and crossed the hall into Davis's room. “Are you okay?” she asked. He was sitting on the bed, staring at the wall, with a towel wrapped around his waist. She shut the door and walked toward him.

 

Davis glanced up at her and smiled as he stood up. “I'm fine. You look incredible.”

 

She winked and twirled in a circle as Davis let his eyes move up and down her body. Pumped up to Jesus with her typical ridiculously high-heeled shoes, her long legs were bare and she was wearing a simple, tight little cocktail dress in a large black-and-white print that fell several inches above her knees. There were clusters of silver necklaces in various lengths dangling from her neck. Her hair was pulled back tight with her curly locks loosely bound on the back of her head, showing off her long neck and the delicate features of her face. Her skin was shiny and sun-kissed.

 

She giggled as she made her way over to the closet and began sorting through Davis's new clothes. She pulled out a cream-colored suit with a long, trenchlike jacket that hung about halfway down his thighs. She paired it with a formfitting light blue silk shirt that she told him to leave untucked.

 

Deseree went into the connecting bathroom to do a last-minute check of her makeup. Davis ripped off his towel and snatched a pair of white boxer briefs off the bed. He leaned over to slip his feet into them as Jack opened the door without knocking.

 

“Damn.” A smile spread across Jack's face. “I always did have great timing.”

 

Davis yanked the briefs up and whirled around to look at Jack. His entire body flushed with heat. He shuffled his feet and laughed nervously. “That does seem to be your special gift.”

 

Jack looked incredibly hot in jeans and a black jacket with a tight black T-shirt underneath. Davis let his gaze settle over his stomach, thinking about the tight abs underneath the shirt.

 

Deseree poked her head out of the bathroom. “Hey, Jack.”

 

“If only every evening could start out this way.” Jack waved at her without taking his eyes off Davis. “I came to see if you're ready to go.”

 

“Almost,” Davis said, running his thumb under the elastic waistband, resisting the urge to tell him every evening could start this way if he'd just call off this farce of a wedding. He reached down and picked the pants up off the bed, then slid them on.

 

“You look great,” Jack observed as Davis continued to dress.

 

“You think?” Davis decided on a bold response. “Well, it's been a while since you've seen me naked, I guess.” As he pulled on his shirt, Deseree sidled over and tucked the tag that they'd missed removing into the collar. Davis looked at her as if to say,thank you.

 

Deseree winked at him “I'm going to go grab my purse. Meet you at the door.”

 

Jack stepped up to Davis and reached out, then pulled his shirt closed as he began buttoning it for him. “I think just about every inch of your body is burned into my brain.” Jack gazed into Davis's eyes. “No amount of time is ever going to erase that from my memory.”

 

Davis watched Jack's face and felt his cock stir between his legs. He wanted desperately to lean in and kiss him. Instead, he cleared his throat. “You always did have a great memory.”

 

Jack picked the jacket up off the bed as Davis ran his belt through the loops of his pants. He buckled it and held on to Jack's shoulder for balance as he slid into his new soft leather shoes. Jack held the jacket as Davis slipped it on, and Davis turned to face him, smiling. Jack leaned in and gave Davis a peck on the forehead. Davis wrapped his arms around Jack's waist, and Jack pulled Davis tight to him.

 

“Missed you, monkey f—” Jack said, stopping himself as Davis sighed, relaxing into him.

 

“Boys!” Candace called from down the hall. “We're going to be late!”

 

They separated, and Jack grabbed Davis by the chin. He winked at Davis, turning him toward the door. Jack swatted him on the ass. “Let's go.”

 

Davis smiled. He'd known that Jack would find a way to touch his ass. He never could keep his hands off it.

 

As the four of them rode downstairs in the elevator, Davis examined Jack's demeanor reflected in the shiny metal doors. Deseree and Candace complimented one another on their outfits as Jack stood in place, looking forward without speaking. Davis averted his eyes and watched the numbers light up on the panel as they passed each floor. It had been just over a year since Davis had last seen Jack. That had also been the last time he'd seen Deseree. He smiled, remembering how great that night was, and how he'd fooled himself into thinking things would go back to the way they used to be.


Page 7

Chapter Six 

 

 

One year ago

 

 

 

Davis sat back in his seat at the theater as Jack and the other actors took their bows onstage. He'd been pissed as hell when Deseree called him at her apartment earlier and said she wasn't going to be able to make it back in time to go see Jack's play. She'd tried to throw out some piss-poor excuse, but he eventually got it out of her that she was going to go have sex with some hot guy she'd been attracted to for years. She kept saying how bad he was, and what a dog the guy was. Davis wondered why the hell she was going to sleep with him if he was so terrible, but he was too pissed to bring up that point.

 

He was actually just nervous about seeing Jack face-to-face for the first time in almost two years and was hoping she would be there as a buffer if things didn't go well. It was an off-Broadway production ofSpeed-the-Plow, and Jack was playing Bobby Gould. Davis had never seen Jack in anything other than Shakespeare or musicals, so he had no idea what to expect. He'd quickly gotten over his annoyance at the empty seat next to him once the play got under way. He'd been practically on the edge of his seat the entire time as the rapid-fire dialogue volleyed back and forth among the characters, leaving Davis almost breathless. Jack was incredible. Davis knew Jack could be funny—he often was in the musicals—but he'd never seen him funny like this. It was a different tone and style, and Davis was newly impressed.

 

He was supposed to have gone backstage afterward but decided to wait outside at the stage door entrance. He didn't know anybody else, and he never liked the fast-paced energy from behind the curtain. He felt awkward and in the way. He also didn't think he could handle watching Jack changing clothes. The mere thought of seeing Jack undressed gave him an instant erection, and he definitely didn't wish to share that with a bunch of strangers. He stood back, patiently waiting as people began to file out the stage door. Finally Jack came through, laughing out loud, looking almost intoxicated by the rush of performing. Davis smiled, remembering they'd always had the most intense sex when Jack had a play going on.

 

Jack was joking around, talking with a couple of the other actors as they walked down the steps. Davis stepped away from the building he was leaning on and walked into the light as Jack turned and locked eyes with him.

 

“Monkey face!” Jack yelled at the top of his lungs, throwing his arms out. “I should have known you'd be back here hiding out… I thought you didn't stay.”

 

Davis smiled uncontrollably as he walked up to him. Jack threw his arms around him, practically squeezing the life out of him. Davis laughed, hugging him back, loving the intense heat radiating off Jack's body. Jack pulled back slightly, yelling good-byes to the other actors before planting his lips on Davis's mouth. Jack thrust his tongue in, taking Davis a bit by surprise, but he kissed him back.

 

“Sorry about that.” Jack pulled away, patting Davis on the ass. “You know how I get, though.”

 

“Yes, I do.” Davis smiled.

 

“Damn, I feel great,” Jack said, throwing an arm over Davis's shoulder as they started to walk. “So, what did you think?”

 

“It was a very good kiss,” Davis said teasingly.

 

Jack burst out laughing and threw his head back. “I meant about the play…but it's nice to know I still have it.”

 

“Oh,” Davis said, turning bright red as they rounded the corner and turned, heading down the sidewalk.

 

“My beautiful blushing boy,” Jack said, kissing his red cheek.

 

“It was incredible. You were incredible.” Davis laughed as he placed a hand on Jack's chest.

 

“You think so, monkey face?” Jack asked excitedly. “I've never had the opportunity to do anything like this before, and I love it.”

 

“Well, you should do more like it. I was literally on the edge of my seat through the entire thing.”

 

“It's a great play and a fantastic part,” Jack said, squeezing Davis as they continued walking. “Fuck! We need a drink.”

 

“I might,” Davis said as Jack hailed for a cab. “But I think you're high enough.”

 

“Damn, I've missed you, monkey face,” Jack said as the hack pulled over to the curb.

 

They both climbed into the car and Jack gave the driver an address. “You've got to see my new place, I love it.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Hey…where's Des?” Jack asked.

 

“She's out fucking some guy she referred to as a complete dog.” Davis shook his head. “Sorry she bailed.”

 

“No biggie.” Jack put his arm around Davis. “You're the one I wanted to see.”

 

Davis smiled and sank into Jack as he pulled him close. Davis felt his chest fill with pressure as Jack leaned over and kissed the side of his head. During the rest of the cab ride they talked about what Davis had been up to recently—getting his store opened and the work he'd been doing restoring a three-story Victorian. Jack talked about Candace, and Davis filled Jack in on Deseree and how well her business was going.

 

When they got back to Jack's apartment, Davis meandered around, looking over the bookshelves, running his hands over the leather couch that looked cozy and worn in that nice, lived-in way. The walls were painted a mocha coffee color and the wood floors creaked the same way they did in Davis's loft back home. The room was disheveled in that very familiar way, not dirty, just disorganized. Davis smiled looking over the mismatched furniture that somehow managed to all work together.

 

Jack returned to the room with an open bottle of red wine and two glasses. Davis felt a stirring in his body looking over Jack's—the way his jeans hugged his hips and ass in all the right places and the tight white T-shirt tucked into his waistband. Not to mention, Jack's strong, masculine hands, which Davis could still feel on his body when he closed his eyes.

 

Jack handed him a glass. “Here you go.”

 

“Thank you, sir,” Davis said, taking a sip and making an approving sound.

 

“You still do that, you know, make that little noise when you drink or taste something you like.”

 

“I do?” Davis asked, feeling his face flush. He sat down on the couch. “I didn't know I did that.”

 

“Just one of those little things,” Jack said, sitting down next to him. “Christ, I feel incredible.”

 

Davis laughed. “You always did after.”

 

“I know. I can't help it… I really love what I do, especially when everything really clicks with the other actors. The heat from it when the chemistry's spot-on. There's this electricity that makes me…”

 

“Horny,” Davis said, smiling as Jack burst out laughing.

 

“That too,” Jack said, exploring Davis's eyes as he took a big drink. “You know me too well.”

 

“Right back at ya, buddy,” Davis said, leaning back into the couch, kicking off his shoes, then putting his feet up on the coffee table.

 

Jack laughed as he followed Davis's lead. “Make yourself at home.”

 

“I will,” Davis said, laughing as he took another drink.

 

They turned their heads, staring at one another for several seconds until they each began to smile. Davis's eyes followed Jack as he got up off the couch and went across the room to turn on some music. He picked up the wine and refilled both glasses before taking a seat back on the couch.

 

Davis took another big drink. “Thank you again, kind sir.”

 

“You're most welcome, beautiful.” Jack reached over and placed his hand on Davis's leg. “It really is so good to see you.”

 

“I've missed you too, Jack,” Davis said, placing his hand over Jack's.

 

Jack turned his hand and intertwined his fingers with Davis's as he began talking about how terrified he had been making the decision to do the play. He'd wanted to call Davis to talk about it, but never seemed to pick up the phone.

 

That tore at Davis's chest a little, realizing Jack had needed him and he wasn't there.

 

Jack thought that he'd been terrible when they first began rehearsals, but he'd quickly adapted and his confidence had grown as each day passed. Candace had been there on opening night, and it was the most terrified he had ever been.

 

Jack emptied the bottle into their glasses and went to the kitchen. He returned with another bottle. Davis talked about buying the building in downtown Springfield and all of the work and money that he had sunk into it.

 

As Davis went on, he sounded settled into his new life—a life that didn't include Jack.

 

Jack cleared his throat as he sat up and refilled both of their glasses. They continued to drink, chuckling at first, then laughing out loud as they talked about safe topics, the good times, but each staying clear of anything that might throw cold water on the fun they were having.

 

Davis felt happier than he had in…forever, it seemed. He stood up off the couch, laughing as he grabbed Jack by the top of his head to steady himself.

 

“Where's the bathroom?” Davis asked laughing, dizzy from the wine. “Before I piss myself.”

 

“That way,” Jack said, pointing toward the hall, unable to turn his head. “I'll take you,” he added, getting up as they both giggled, trying to keep each other from falling down. “I need to piss too.”

 

“Holy have to piss, Batman,” Davis said, as they both laughed, holding each other up while they walked down the hall. “Was that really funny or just drunk funny?”

 

“I don't know,” Jack said, shoving Davis into the bathroom. “I'm too drunk to tell.”

 

Jack leaned his back against the wall, bursting out laughing again when he heard Davis let out a long moan.

 

“Fuck, that's amazing,” Davis said, reaching down to flush the toilet. He walked to the sink and washed his hands as Jack came in. Davis watched in the mirror as Jack unzipped and pulled his dick out. He turned off the faucet and dried his hands, feeling his cock begin to get hard. He walked back into the hall and took in deep breaths as he tried to calm himself.

 

“What's wrong?” Jack asked, coming up behind him.

 

“Nothing,” he said, startled and smiling as he stopped, breathing normally again.

 

Jack moved in front of him, concerned for a moment. Davis's cheeks began to flush and Jack looked down, smiling as he noticed the bulge in Davis's pants. “Monkey face,” Jack said in a faux-shocked voice, grinning from ear to ear. Jack reached over, firmly rubbing the hard flesh through his pants as Davis fell back into the wall. “I didn't know you'd brought me a gift.”

 

Davis reached out, grabbed Jack by the shoulders, and yanked him into his body, then shoved his tongue into Jack's mouth.

 

Jack's eyes widened at the force Davis exerted. He grabbed Davis roughly by the waist and slammed him back into the wall, grinding his now fully erect cock into Davis.

 

Davis pulled at Jack's shirt, jerking it over his head and tossing it to the floor. Jack's body was thicker than it used to be, but still hard as a rock as Davis ran his hands over his chest and stomach.

 

Jack continued to fuck Davis's mouth with his tongue, ripping his shirt open, popping off most of the buttons, which made tiny clicking noises as they hit the floor. He let out a deep, husky groan as he forcefully undid Davis's belt, pulling on the button to his pants. He pulled back for a moment and they looked over one another's face. Davis was flushed and his lips were swollen. Jack's eyes were glassed over with lust as they pressed their mouths into one another again.

 

Davis pushed Jack's jeans down over his hips, taking his cock into his hand, expertly working it over, knowing exactly where to apply pressure to create the most intense pleasure for Jack. Davis whimpered as Jack slid his pants and underwear down, freeing his hard-on and digging his fingers into his hips.

 

Jack pulled them both down onto the hardwood floor in the hall. Davis took Jack's nipple into his mouth, chewing and sucking as Jack moaned roughly. He yanked Davis's pants off and threw them down the hall. They lay on their sides as Davis moved to Jack's other nipple. Jack dug his fingers into Davis ass, opening him up. He shoved a finger into his ass and Davis cried out. Jack pushed him onto his back, kicked his jeans out from around his ankles, and straddled Davis's shoulders, facing his body. He shoved his cock into Davis's mouth and bent to take Davis's into his.

 

Davis sucked him greedily as Jack forced his dick down his throat. Jack pulled Davis's legs apart and began working over his ass with his fingers, licking his balls and shaft. Davis moaned wildly, bucking his hips as Jack penetrated him with his fingers.


Page 8

 

Their bodies were hot and beginning to drip with sweat as they each groaned. Jack began to feel his balls rise as he thrust his cock into Davis's mouth, exploding with a force that took Davis by surprise as he swallowed every last drop. Jack sucked Davis down to the back of his throat as Davis returned the favor, clamping his ass around Jack's fingers.

 

They were breathing heavily as Davis let out a small moan, his head swimming with alcohol and dizzy with lust. Davis started sucking the head of Jack's dick again, working his tongue over it as Jack began to get hard again.

 

Jack moaned, knowing what Davis still wanted from him. He didn't want to give it to him, even though he desperately wanted it for himself. Davis was just going to leave him tomorrow, and Jack didn't want him going away completely satisfied. Jack closed his eyes as Davis took him back deep into his mouth. Jack pulled himself up off the floor and went into the bathroom.

 

Davis heard him ripping open a drawer and rummaging through it, before slamming it shut. Jack came back around the corner, dropping a tube of lube and strip of condoms on the floor next to Davis. Davis closed his eyes, wishing he hadn't seen the condoms. They'd been monogamous before they broke up and had long since stopped using protection. He knew in the back of his mind Jack would have been having sex with other men, but he'd tried to convince himself he was wrong. Seeing them on the floor next to him was a red-hot slap in the face courtesy of reality.

 

Jack looked down at him. He smiled, watching Davis's face as he looked at the condoms. Jack knew it would cut through Davis, and he'd cruelly brought the whole pack as opposed to just one. Jack knew he didn't possess the willpower to not fuck Davis. He wanted Davis so badly he couldn't see straight, but at least Davis wasn't going to get it without paying a bit of a price. That thought made Jack's cock rock hard.

 

Jack dropped to his knees and picked up the condoms, ripping one off and tossing the rest to the floor. A big grin spread across his face as he opened it and rolled it down his thick, long shaft. Davis sat up, grabbed Jack by the neck, and shoved his tongue into Jack's mouth. They kissed one another as Davis grabbed the lube off the floor and stood up. He took Jack by the hand and helped him up. Davis led Jack back to the couch and shoved him down onto it.

 

Jack smiled a little, not used to Davis being so aggressive. Davis grabbed Jack behind the knees, pulling him down some as he straddled Jack. He squirted lube into his hand as Jack began to reach up for his ass. Davis pushed his hand away. He roughly took Jack's cock in his hand and rubbed the lube over his shaft. Davis reached back and placed Jack's cock against his ass and began to sit down, taking Jack inside him.

 

They both closed their eyes, groaning, and Jack reached up, running his hands over Davis's chest, pinching his nipples. Davis didn't move for several moments. He sat on his knees, facing Jack with his eyes closed, enjoying the intense sensation as the fire raged from his ass all the way up through his chest and made the roots of his hair tingle. It had been almost five years since he'd had Jack inside him and he didn't want the pleasure to stop…ever.

 

Jack pulled on Davis's cock slowly as he looked up at him. Davis opened his eyes, looking down at Jack, and began lifting himself up and down, impaling himself. Jack's face strained from the pressure being applied to his dick. Davis began to go faster, and Jack started bucking his hips as if by instinct, trying to go deeper. Davis took Jack's hands, intertwining their fingers, and leaned forward, forcing Jack's arms down into the back of the couch. Davis pumped himself harder onto Jack's cock, rocking back and forth as the intense pleasure began to fill every inch of his body. He felt awake after a long sleep as his skin burned from the heat. Sweat dripped off him and down onto Jack.

 

Jack was moaning wildly, trying to force his hands free from Davis's but unable to. Jack was dying to get his hands on Davis's body. He continued bucking, meeting Davis's ass every time he came down on him.

 

They looked intently into one another's eyes as Davis whimpered at first, slowly building into louder groans and moans. Davis felt his stomach muscles tighten as he shot out thick loads onto Jack's stomach and chest. Jack's eyes widened at seeing Davis come without either of them laying a hand on his cock. Davis let go of Jack's arms, sitting up as he clamped his ass down. Jack shoved his head back into the couch, gritting his teeth as he unloaded into the condom inside Davis.

 

Davis sat on top of him as Jack ran his hands over Davis's legs. A large smile spread over Davis's face as he began to chuckle.

 

Jack looked up at the beautiful man who was still sitting on his softening dick and smiled as Davis went from chuckling to full-out laughter. He'd never seen Davis quite this way, taking control during sex, having that amazing of an orgasm, and now laughing his ass off. He loved these new little things, but they confused him as well.

 

“That was fucking amazing, Jack,” Davis said, laughing as his entire body tingled from sex and happiness.

 

Davis leaned up, allowing Jack to slip out of him. He reached back and picked up a half-empty glass of wine off the table. He took a sip and looked down at Jack, handing him the glass. Jack took it, grinning from ear to ear, and took a drink. Davis closed his eyes and ran his hands down his sweat-soaked chest and stomach. His skin was still tingly and he let out a deep groan, smiling.

 

Jack watched intently as Davis's hands ran over his own body. Jack licked his lips and took another drink as he began to feel himself getting aroused again watching Davis rub himself. His eyes followed Davis's fingers as they ran over his hard nipples, then down over the smooth, creamy white ridges of his abs. Jack reached up to take Davis's cock into his hand. Davis's smile widened as he looked back down at Jack. Jack smiled back with a mischievous expression on his face.

 

They made love twice more that night, passing out on the floor afterward in Jack's living room. Jack slept deeply, the way he used to when Davis was curled up in his arms.

 

 

 

When Jack woke the next morning and slowly got up, trying not to wake Davis, he stood, feeling the dull ache in his head from the wine. He looked down at Davis and smiled for a moment. His smile faded as he began to feel a little sick to his stomach. The wine, he thought, at first. But, no. It was dread.

 

Jack walked into the kitchen and put on some coffee. Standing at the kitchen counter, he folded his arms and looked out the window. Davis was supposed to leave that afternoon to go home. He hated the thought. It made him sick with anger. Maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he'd stay. He couldn't ask… He didn't have the right to. He'd pushed him away all those years ago without meaning to, and as much as he desperately wanted Davis to stay, it would have to be his decision, his choice to make.

 

 

 

Davis opened his eyes and looked around at the unfamiliar surroundings. He grinned, remembering where he was. Feeling the dull ache in his backside, he rolled onto his back and stretched out, letting out a little groan. He sat up, feeling a bit of dizziness, and realized he was probably still a little drunk. He looked around for Jack and heard dishes clattering from the kitchen. He pulled himself up off the floor and walked through the living room and around the corner.

 

“Good morning,” Davis said, smiling as he looked over Jack's beautiful, tanned, naked body.

 

“Hey,” Jack said as he glanced up at him for a moment before looking away. It made his chest ache, seeing Davis stand in his kitchen completely naked and thinking he wouldn't be there the next day.

 

Davis crinkled his forehead as he took another step forward, then stopped. He wanted to go wrap his arms around Jack but felt like maybe Jack didn't want that. He wouldn't even look at him.

 

“There's Advil on the counter if you need it,” Jack said, pouring two cups of coffee in mismatched mugs and handing one to Davis.

 

“Thanks,” Davis said, looking at Jack, trying to read his face. “But I think I might still be a little drunk.” Maybe he's not so happy about making love last night? Maybe it was just the rush of performing that made him do it, and not so much the rush of being together?

 

“Hungry?” Jack asked, placing his hands on the counter.

 

“I don't know,” Davis said, sitting down on the tiny wood bar stool and wincing a little from the glorious abuse his ass had taken the night before.

 

Jack turned, leaning back against the cabinets. “So I guess you're leaving this afternoon, huh?”

 

Davis stared at him.Fuck…he wants me to go. After what they'd shared last night? He didn't understand. “Yeah,” Davis said, closing his eyes. This isn't happening; it can't be. Why is he doing this?

 

“I'll call you a cab then,” Jack said, reaching for the phone, then punching in the numbers.

 

Davis got up off the stool and walked around the corner, heading down the hall. He reached down and scooped up his clothes as he went into the bathroom. His eyes began to well up as he dressed. He looked at himself in the mirror and literally willed himself to stop. He wasn't going to cry in front of Jack. He didn't want Jack to know he could still cut him into shreds, and he certainly didn't want to guilt him into saying something he obviously didn't want to.

 

 

 

Jack stood outside the bathroom door. He bent down and picked up his jeans, then slid them on as he tried to listen through the door. It took everything he had to not break down the door and slam his fists into Davis. He wanted to drag him by the wrists down the hall and tie his ass to the bed, forcing him to stay if necessary. He knew it wouldn't work, but it still took everything he had not to try. Davis opened the door and looked up at Jack. Jack looked over his shirt, remembering he'd torn half the buttons off.

 

“I'll get you a shirt.” Jack turned toward the bedroom.

 

 

 

“Don't bother,” Davis said without emotion, turning back toward the living room. If Jack wanted to treat him like a random piece of ass he'd picked up, then he'd fucking walk out looking like one.

 

Jack followed him back to the living room. Davis turned as he got to the door. He walked over and gave Jack a hug, lightly brushing his lips over Jack's mouth.

 

“I had a good time,” Davis said, pulling away with a smile. He turned back around and opened the door. As he shut it behind him, he was screaming in his head to stop. Screaming at Jack to fling open the door and stop him. He walked slowly, thinking maybe he might, but as the elevator opened and he stepped in, he knew it wasn't going to happen.

 

 

 

Jack walked over to the window looking down onto the street. He couldn't believe he could go from such a complete high to this desperate low in so short a time. He watched as Davis stood out on the curb, waiting for the cab. Look up, he thought.If Davis looks up it'll mean I'm supposed to stop him. Fuck, that's stupid. I should just go stop him. What if I do go to stop him and he still leaves? Damn it.

 

Jack turned and ran for the door. He grabbed the door handle and stopped. He didn't have the right to try to stop him. Davis had made a life for himself, and maybe he was happy with that. He turned and ran back to the window and watched as Davis climbed into the cab. He spun around as it drove away, taking the last bit of hope Jack had with it. Jack looked down at the room in which they'd fucked all night. He walked over, picked up an empty bottle of wine, and threw it across the room, shattering it into pieces against the wall.

 

 

 

Davis sat in the back seat of the cab and the tears started to flow. He was so confused. The way they'd looked at one another last night. He knew it was real. It felt so real. Davis noticed the cab driver looking back at him through the rearview mirror. He reached up self-consciously and pulled his shirt closed. He couldn't believe that it was happening. No…this couldn't be happening. Jack would call Deseree's looking for him. There would already be a message by the time he got to her apartment.

 

When there was no message, Davis told himself that by the time he got home, Jack would have called. The days passed with nothing, and after a few weeks, he knew Jack wasn't going to call. When Davis finally got up the nerve to call Jack, he acted as if nothing had happened. It was all run-of-the-mill chitchat. Nothing that led Davis to hope, but he still did hope. Hope was all he had left.

Chapter Seven 

 

 

Present day

 

 

 

Tadd's condo occupied the front half of the third floor in an old four-story brick and stone warehouse that had been converted into living space. The floor plan was open, and in the living areas, the ceiling was two stories high. The walls were a bright white with large pieces of artwork hanging along them, and pieces of sculpture were scattered throughout. It was very contemporary looking with the clean lines of minimalist furniture and tons of track lighting, which hung from the high ceiling. A large dining table sat under a huge modernist rectangular crystal chandelier. It seemed more like an art gallery than a living space. Stairs in the back of the large room led to a second level where the bedrooms were located.

 

The party was already in full swing when Davis, Jack, Deseree, and Candace arrived. People were scattered about in clusters, chattering away with cocktails in hand. There was a bar set up at the far end of the room and a jazz quartet along the back wall next to the dining table. The caterers were running about the open kitchen, and waitstaff walked around the room with trays of hors d'oeuvres. Candace was immediately swallowed up by adoring fans.

 

Jack turned to Davis and Deseree. “I'll go see if I can find Tadd.”

 

“We'll be at the bar,” Deseree said as Jack walked off, leaving Davis and Deseree to move into the crowd.

 

“People are staring at me,” Davis observed as several men looked him up and down.

 

“You can thank me anytime,” Deseree said as they walked up to the bar.

 

The bartender awaited instructions as they pointed at one another. “Ketel One dirty martini, up,” Deseree said at the same time Davis said, “Ketel One cosmo, up.”

 

“Better make mine a club soda,” Deseree told the bartender as Davis gave her a look. “One of us needs to keep our wits. A glass of wine at dinner and you almost burst into tears.”

 

“Oh, fine.” Davis pouted, picking up a stir straw and fiddling with it. “Sue me for having feelings. It's your fault. You're the one that brought up monkey face.”

 

“Holy crap,” Deseree said, placing a hand on his arm. “What a minefield that was. And Jack's face when you said he shouldn't call you that anymore… I thought he was going to blow a gasket.”

 

“It did seem to have an effect.”

 

Deseree took the drinks from the bartender and held one out for Davis. He lifted his hand to take it and scowled. “These damn sleeves are too long.”

 

“They're supposed to be. You look hip.”

 

Davis frowned, flinging his hand around, trying to flip the cuff off so he could take the drink from her.

 

“Stop that!” Deseree shook her head at him. “You look ridiculous.”

 

“Well, hell.” Davis grinned as he pushed the sleeve back with his other hand and took the martini from her.

 

“Lean back on the bar and rest your elbows on it,” Deseree said, setting her drink down and moving in front of him. He did as instructed, and she undid a couple of the buttons on the bottom of the shirt. A naughty grin spread over her face as he looked down to see a tiny bit of his stomach showing.

 

“Again with making me look like a hooker.”

 

“Zip it,” she said, moving back to his side. She picked up her glass as they examined the crowd. “See, there's an extreme hottie over there checking you out. He looks kinda familiar.”

 

“Where?” Davis asked surveying the room. “I don't see.”

 

“By the windows, are you fucking blind? No wonder you've never met anyone else. You were probably too dense to notice them staring at you.”

 

“I have issues, we know this.” Davis shot her a look. “Besides, he could be cross-eyed for all we know.”

 

“Shit, he's coming this way,” Deseree said, excitedly taking a drink.

 

The man made his way through the crowd, and a hand grabbed his arm, stopping him. The crowd shifted and Davis and Deseree gasped. The hand that had halted him belonged to Jack.

 

“No fucking way.” Deseree watched as Jack embraced the other man. “That can't be him.”

 

“The Toad,” Davis said, eyes widening.

 

“You were totally his eye candy,” Deseree said, seeming a little miffed as Jack kissed the man. “It is him.”

 

“And he doesn't look very toad-like,” Davis said as his elbows slid off the top of the bar. “He's gorgeous.”

 

Tadd Austin was in his mid- to late thirties and was the type of man who would appear to be every bit as comfortable at an evening at the opera as he would floating down the river in an inner tube with a can of beer in his hand. He was very well built with an almost-intimidating physical presence. That impression, though, was softened by the kind eyes behind the wire-rimmed glasses he wore. He was dressed in a sleek black suit with a pristine white shirt that had the top few buttons undone, revealing a hint of the well-tanned, sculpted chest that lay beneath. His sandy blond hair looked product free and was loosely parted to one side. He possessed all one would think of in terms of what a man was supposed to look like.

 

Jack and Tadd separated, and Jack pointed toward Davis and Deseree. The two men made their way through the crowd, stopping once so Tadd and Jack could shake someone's hand, before walking up to Davis and Deseree.

 

“Davis, Des,” Jack said, placing his hand on Tadd's shoulder, “this is my fiancé, Tadd Austin.”

 

Davis and Deseree flashed overcompensating smiles as Tadd reached out his hand. “It's nice to meet you both. I've heard a lot about you,” he added, looking at Davis.

 

Davis stood there smiling up at him, wondering why Tadd couldn't just be a normal guy instead of Rock fucking Hudson.

 

“I was just telling Davis that you look very familiar.” Deseree jumped in, taking Tadd's hand. “Have we met?”

 

“No, but I'm a huge fan. I saw you on the VH1 Fashion Awards. You looked incredible.”

 

Look at him, Davis thought.I'm so screwed. He's gay-fection.

 

“Oh, thanks,” Deseree said, taking her hand back. “I was a mess that night.”

 

“Well, honey, it didn't show,” Jack said with a wink.

 

“So, Davis,” Tadd said, turning his attention back to him, “Jack told me what you do. There's an old theater I was looking at doing some work on. I was really hoping to get a chance to pick your brain while you're here.”

 

Davis continued to stand there, smiling as he stared at Tadd. Deseree reached down and pinched Davis on the leg.

 

“Fuck!” Davis screamed as the three of them jumped. A few other people who were standing about turned to look as Davis grabbed Tadd's hand, shaking it vigorously. “You are one lucky man, Toad.” Davis's mouth fell slightly open as his eyes widened. “Did I just say Toad? That is so funny! I am so stupid!” Davis let go of Tadd's hand and slapped himself in the head. “I meant Tadd. 'Cause your name's Tadd, not Toad, isn't it? It is so great to meet you! Jack has told me nothing about you, so spill, 'cause I simply must know everything.”

 

Jack, Tadd, and Deseree all looked at Davis in silence. Deseree began to say something, but Davis jumped in, poking Tadd in the stomach. “Come on, don't be a shy guy.”

 

“Jack, you never told me he was so…lively,” Tadd said, visibly uncomfortable but grinning.

 

“Blah, blah, blah,” Davis said, shaking his drink around, spilling some on the floor. “It's time to dig deep. Tell me your dreams.”

 

Tadd turned his gaze toward Jack. “Well, at the moment, my only dream is to settle down with our guy here.”

 

“That is so adorable,” Deseree said, placing a hand on Tadd's arm.

 

“Thank you, baby,” Jack said to Tadd with a wink.

 

Tadd looked back at Davis. “And, of course, getting to know you. Candace and Jack speak so fondly of you.”

 

“Awww,” Davis said, rolling his head back and smiling.

 

“Davis, are you feeling okay?” Jack asked, looking over his face. “You look a little flushed.”

 

“Pee!”

 

“Excuse me?” Jack laughed, looking at Davis.

 

“I have to pee,” Davis said as he looked at Tadd. “Can you point me to the potty?”

 

“Oh, sure,” Tadd said, turning to point toward the hallway. “First door on the right.”

 

Deseree smiled sweetly as she grabbed Davis by the arm. “I'll go with. Give you two a couple of minutes to yourselves.”

 

Dragging Davis by the arm, she pushed through the crowd and entered the hallway. Davis opened the first door they came to and Deseree shoved him through the door, then closed it behind her. She flipped on the light and Davis gasped as he peered around the room.

 

Tadd's home office had a large drafting table sitting in front of the two double-hung wood frame windows. Stainless steel shelving units covered half of one wall, and a matching desk sat along the opposite wall with a lamp and cordless phone on a cradle.

 

There were a few architectural drawings framed and hanging in a grouping on one wall. Davis went over to the opposite wall and looked over the set of three framedArchitectural Digestsfeaturing Tadd's buildings. He let out a sick groan, walking along the wall, looking over the framed covers ofOutand theAdvocatewith Tadd on the cover, one of which listed him as one of the most eligible bachelors in the country. There were also newspaper articles showing Tadd cutting the ribbon to an apartment building he'd renovated, donating his time and money for low-income housing for people living with HIV, and a photo of Tadd shaking hands with a boy who was the president of the gay youth group Tadd sponsored.

 

“He'sthatTadd Austin,” Deseree said, biting her lip and placing her hands on her hips as Davis began to hyperventilate.

 

“ThatTadd Austin?” Davis asked, placing his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. “You knew about this!”

 

“I knew I recognized him.” She grabbed Davis by the hand and pulled him out of the room. She shoved him across the hall and into the bathroom, and locked the door behind them.

 

“Look at yourself.” She pointed toward Davis's reflection in the mirror. “You're getting all splotchy and you're sweating… I told you not to sweat.” Deseree bent to rip some toilet paper off the roll. She dabbed his forehead with it.

 

“He's everything I'm not and never could be,” Davis said, eyes glazing over as Deseree grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him.

 

“Exactly, he's nothing like you, and Jack spent four years with you. You obviously have qualities Jack likes.”

 

“He's like…Supergay.”

 

“Okay.” Deseree thought aloud, biting her nail. “How do I put this in a way you'll understand? So, he's perfect, we admit this. Like a gay man's Grace Kelly.”

 

Davis sulked. “Um, hi…this is so not helping.”

 

“Snappish,” she said, smacking him.

 

“Sorry. Please continue.”

 

“Well, men may look at Grace Kelly and be initially sucked in by that kind of icy beauty…but in reality, they would be much happier with a funny, quirky, sexy Carole Lombard type with a heart of gold and an endearing, sweet innocence.”

 

“And I'm Carole Lombard?” Davis asked, chewing on his lip.

 

“Yes, the Toad may be the perfect beauty, but perfection can be very wearing.”

 

“That's true,” Davis said, beginning to calm down. “I love Carole Lombard!”

 

“Who doesn't? You are the girl next door, damn it,” Deseree said, turning Davis toward the mirror to look at himself. “And we all know the girl next door always wins in the end.”

 

“Right, you're right.”

 

“You bet your new Guccis I'm right.”

 

Davis looked at her through the mirror. “But you're a Carole Lombard too, and you're still single.”

 

“That's true, but I haven't found my Clark Gable yet. You have,” Deseree said, turning to look at herself in the mirror. “Besides, I'm really more of a cross between Lucille Ball and Rosalind Russell.”

 

Davis smiled at her. “I can see that.”

 

“Now, do you think you can go back out there and not act like a cheerleader on crack?”


Page 9

 

“Yeah, I'm good,” Davis said, as he began to hop around like a boxer, throwing a few punches.

 

“Okay, stop it. You'll start sweating again.”

 

“Right,” Davis said, standing up straight.

 

Deseree shook her head as she opened the bathroom door. “That was very butch, though.”

 

“Thanks,” Davis said, following her out into the hall.

 

They walked back into the living area as Candace finished up a song with the jazz quartet. Davis watched with pride as the room erupted into applause.

 

Davis beamed, clapping. “God, she's fantastic.”

 

“Aw, thank you,” Candace gushed, taking a bow. “You people have impeccable taste.” She pointed into the audience and added, “Okay, Tadd, you're up.”

 

Davis's smile began to fade as Tadd hopped up on the makeshift stage next to Candace. He picked up a microphone, placing an arm around Candace's waist. He gazed out into the audience, finding Jack. “This is something your mother and I have been working on for you.”

 

Jack beamed looking at the two of them. The music started playing Etta James's “At Last,” and Tadd began singing the first verse. Tadd didn't have the best singing voice, but it was decent. He sang as if he knew he wasn't great, and the fact that he was willing to embarrass himself publicly made him seem sweet in an endearing way. Davis's mouth fell open as Candace joined in and Deseree smiled, shaking her head.

 

They finished the song and the room erupted into applause again. Jack jumped up on the stage and gave Tadd a long kiss as a few people made whooping noises and whistled. They separated and Candace hugged the two of them, smiling from ear to ear.

 

“That's my life,” Davis whispered under his breath to Deseree as his eyes began to well up. “That two-bit goody-goody is stealing my life.”

 

“It's going to be okay,” Deseree said, placing her arm on his shoulder. “Just stay calm.”

 

“Oh, I'm calm.” Davis seethed as he fired a gaze at Tadd. “The Toad is toast.”

 

Davis took a deep breath as if to get control of his faculties. He took off through the crowd toward the stage area, as Deseree jumped to attention, running after him.

 

“That was wonderful,” Davis said, taking Candace by the hands and helping her down the step. “You can sing too. Is there anything you can't do?”

 

“Thanks, Davis.” Tadd grinned as he and Jack stepped down next to them. “I'm really nothing compared to the queen here,” he added, putting his arm around Candace's shoulder.

 

“Don't sell yourself short, Tadd,” Candace said.

 

“Well, I mean it,” Davis said, smiling as he shook his head. “That was so sweet, I was moved. Tell them, Des.”

 

“He was very near tears,” Deseree said with a half smile.

 

“You always were a big softy,” Jack said, putting his arm around Davis.

 

Tadd scanned Davis's face as he crossed his arms. “I'm a little surprised. I got the feeling earlier you weren't too keen on me.”

 

“I told him he was being silly,” Jack said, looking at Tadd.

 

“Well, I was a bit skeptical.” Davis came to Tadd's defense. “I mean…two weeks and you're getting married. It does seem a bit rushed. It's not like anyone here is pregnant.”

 

Deseree coughed, laughing as she tried to catch her breath.

 

“I mentioned that as well,” Candace said.

 

“As well you should,” Deseree said, trying to control herself.

 

“Well, when you know it's right,” Tadd said, holding out his hand for Jack, “you just have to jump on in.”

 

“Head first,” Deseree said.

 

“Without a second thought,” Davis added.

 

“Yep,” Jack said, removing his arm from Davis's shoulder and taking Tadd's hand. “Why waste any more time?”

 

“Well, I think that's great. I mean, when Jack and I split, I have to be honest, I wasted several years waiting around for his ass to come to his senses. Then one day…”

 

“…like the ringing of a bell…” Deseree said.

 

“…I woke up…”

 

“…like a slap across the face.”

 

“We're moving on, dear,” Davis said, putting his arm around Deseree's waist.

 

“Sorry,” Deseree grinned.

 

“I realized, I am not to be taken lightly,” Davis said, looking at Jack. “I am not to be tossed away after four years like a used Kleenex… No offense, Jack.”

 

“Tossed away is a little harsh,” Jack said, smile fading.

 

“Whatever, Jack.” Davis tossed a hand through the air. “I have a lot of special gifts.”

 

“Not to mention you're a little hottie,” Candace said with a wink.

 

“Thank you!” Davis said, looking at Candace. “At some point you simply have to bare your fruits.”

 

“And now you do,” Deseree said, patting Davis on his tummy.

 

“Oh yeah,” Davis said, raising his hands to Jesus. “I'm all like…check out my fruits!”

 

Candace and Deseree laughed as Jack shook his head and smiled.

 

“I was a little worried after we hooked up a year ago when I was visiting Des in New York, but I'm glad to see you're doing the same Jack.” Davis reached out and placed a hand on Jack's cheek. “It warms my pea pickin' heart. Congrats to you both!”

 

“That's very sweet of you to say, Davis.” Jack smiled as Tadd dropped his hand.

 

“I'm glad to hear you feel that way,” Tadd said, crossing his arms and taking a step back. “I was a little nervous with you coming here.”

 

Davis giggled and looked at Tadd. “Thanks, that's probably the best compliment I've had in ages.”

 

“Well, babe,” Tadd said to Jack, “seems like a few people are beginning to leave.”

 

“We should go see them off.” Jack nodded before turning back to Davis and Deseree. “A bunch of us were planning to meet up at a club later if you two want to come.”

 

“Sure,” Davis and Deseree said at the same time, looking at each other, smiling. “We'd love to!” they said in unison, looking back at Jack and Tadd.

 

Jack and Tadd turned and walked away as Davis snatched up Deseree's hand. Candace scrutinized Davis for a second, smiling in a way that made Davis feel like she might be onto him. She spun around abruptly and followed Jack and Tadd.

* * *

 

Davis and Deseree walked to the curb outside Tadd's condo as the cab pulled up.

 

“Holy shit,” Deseree said, climbing into the cab and shutting the door behind her. “You shady little minx.”

 

Davis laughed as the cab pulled away. “I was pretty good?”

 

“You were,” Deseree said, staring at Davis. “Very un-you-like.”

 

“Thanks,” Davis said, smile fading, “I think.”

 

Deseree sat up in the seat. “I can't believe you slept with Jack when you visited last year.”

 

“I did stay all night at his place.”

 

“You told me nothing happened,” she said with an evil look. “You little liar.”

 

Davis laughed, placing his hand on her knee. “I just… It was confusing. I didn't know what it meant. Nothing, I figured out after a couple of months went by without hearing from him.”

 

“I'm sorry,” Deseree said, putting her hand over his. “You should have told me. I could've… Well, I don't know what, but I could've done something.”

 

“It's okay.”

 

“I can't believe you said that in front of the Toad,” she squealed, clapping her hands. “I thought I might shit a brick, and he didn't seem to like hearing it either. That was great…and the used Kleenex!”

 

Davis laughed as Deseree let out a full-blown belly laugh.

 

“Oh God,” she said, calming down a bit as the cab stopped in front of the club. “I really miss being with you, you know.”

 

“Me too,” he said, squeezing her knee before opening the cab door. He got out, holding out a hand and helping her up off the seat. He paid the cab driver and they both turned, heading for the front door to the club.

 

They walked in as the thumping music enveloped them. Davis paid the doorman after they were carded, and they entered the large open space. Flashing lights were coming from the huge dance floor. There was a large round bar in the middle of the room, surrounded by groups of men dancing. There were four smaller bars in each corner, surrounded by people trying to get drinks. Deseree and Davis headed to the closest bar and got in line.

 

Deseree placed her hand on Davis's back. “I'm going to go find the bathroom.”

 

“Okay, I'll wait right here.”

 

Deseree disappeared into the crowd as Davis surveyed the bar to see if he could spot Jack. A beefy, shirtless guy in jeans with black leather chaps slowly made his way past Davis while staring at him greedily. Davis smiled weakly and turned back to face the bar, grabbing his shirt collar as if he feared the man might sexually assault him. The guy walked away and Davis shook his head.

 

“Stare a little closer, fucker,” Davis mumbled, feeling slightly molested.

 

“Quite a nasty tongue you have there,” said a deep voice from behind him.

 

Davis whipped around and found himself looking into the throat of a man who stood at least six and a half feet tall. Davis felt his face turn beet red. “Oh, I…so sorry.”

 

“No need to apologize, I rather fancy a nasty tongue.” The man offered his hand. “Alex Parker. I saw you earlier at the party.”

 

British, thought Davis.

 

Davis shook his hand and looked Alex over. He was strikingly handsome with a long, lean body, accented by dark hair and dark eyes. Davis estimated his age at thirty-seven, give or take. While he was impeccably dressed in a dark suit, he somehow projected an ease, a casualness. Davis smiled at him, admiring the dichotomy.

 

“I'm…”

 

“Yes, I know,” Alex said with a sly smile. “I asked around about you at the party.”

 

“Really? And what did you discover?” Davis asked as he turned to move forward in the line.

 

“I'm ashamed to report, other than your name, nothing.” Alex lightly touched Davis on the arm and added, “Which has made you all the more appealing.”

 

Davis laughed as two guys passed through the line, knocking him face first into Alex. He caught Davis to keep him from falling. Feeling Alex's hand on his ass, Davis grabbed his shoulder, pulling himself back up. The two men laughed as they looked back.

 

“I'm fine…thanks.” Davis shot them a nasty look as the guys walked off without so much as an apology. “Rude fuckers.”

 

Alex laughed as he smoothed out Davis's jacket. “That filthy mouth of yours is delightfully charming.”

 

“Well, I aim to please,” Davis said, still irritated.

 

“Really?” Alex asked, looking into Davis's eyes entirely too seriously. “I think I'm in love.”

 

Davis paused for a moment before laughing. “Do guys actually fall for that?”

 

“No go, huh?” Alex asked with a frown. “Bollocks.”

 

“Has that ever worked for you?”

 

“Yes, actually… I've found most men find me utterly irresistible.” Alex placed a hand on his stomach and added, “Especially when I'm making an ass out of myself.”

 

“I'll have to get back to you on that one,” Davis said, a little unsure what to make of him, even though he loved the way the wordasssounded in Alex's accent.

 

“Wise decision,” Alex said, stepping forward as they were now only one person away from the bar. “It's good not to make snap judgments. And fear not, I have a wide range of ass-like behavior with which to impress.”

 

“As well as a fondness for the wordass,” Davis said, raising his eyebrows.

 

“Yes,” Alex said with a devious grin, “and you seem partial to the wordfucker. Together we makeass fu—”

 

“All righty.” Davis scowled, patting Alex on the chest. “I think I get it.”

 

“See how utterly perfect we are for one another?” Alex asked earnestly. “You…complete me.”


Page 10

 

Davis smiled despite himself as he turned to order a martini and cosmopolitan from the bartender for himself and Deseree. He paused momentarily and rolled his eyes before turning to ask Alex what he would like to drink.

 

“I'll have a dirty martini as well.” Alex grinned. “Thank you.”

 

“What's going on here?” Deseree asked, unnoticed by Davis until that moment.

 

“Deseree, meet Alex. He's an ass man.”

 

“I'm kinda partial to a nice ass myself,” Deseree said, smiling.

 

Alex pointed to Deseree and ran his finger up and down in the air over her frame. “Loving you.”

 

“Yeah, well…what's not to love?” Deseree said, staring longingly at her drink as she took it from Davis.

 

Davis picked up the remaining two martinis and handed one to Alex. The three of them got out of line and moved over to occupy three bar stools to the right. Davis spotted Jack and Tadd walking through the bar and set his glass down in front of Deseree.

 

“Will you two excuse me for a minute?” He left without waiting for a response.

 

Tadd and Jack were standing in the middle of the club talking to an older gentleman. The three of them laughed as Davis joined them.

 

“Hey, you two,” Davis said, smiling.

 

“You made it,” Jack said, placing a hand on Davis's shoulder.

 

“Of course, Jack.” Davis shot a wink at Tadd. “Thanks for the invite.”

 

“No problem, Davis.” Tadd placed his arm around Jack's waist. “It'll give you two a chance to catch up.”

 

Jack squeezed Tadd as he looked over at Davis. “I'll go grab us some drinks if you think you can entertain one another.”

 

Tadd and Davis smiled and nodded as Jack made his way into the crowd toward one of the bars. Tadd introduced Davis to the older gentleman to whom they'd been talking. Russell Henderson was one of Tadd's partners in the architectural firm and Davis smiled back at him, slightly creeped out by the lascivious way the older man leered at him.

 

“I've been meaning to ask you,” Tadd said, leaning closer to Davis. “What area of preservation do you specialize in?”

 

“I deal with a little bit of everything, but my passion has always been art nouveau and art deco…the twenties through the forties, very distinct periods.”

 

“That sounds perfect,” Tadd said, turning to Russell. “Davis is a historic preservationist. I was thinking…”

 

Russell chimed in. “He might make a perfect consultant for the Hamilton Theater project, yes.”

 

“We're bidding on a contract to restore this beautiful theater here downtown,” Tadd said, placing a hand over his chest. “I think I mentioned it earlier. It was built in nineteen thirty-one, just after the switch from silent movies to talkies. Fantastic art deco architecture. You should swing by the office tomorrow. Sounds right up your alley.”

 

“Sure,” Davis said, folding his arms. “I could take a peek.”

 

“We'd love to get your input,” Tadd said.

 

“Then you shall have it, Tadd.”Offering me a job to buy me off, huh? Sneaky little bastard.

 

Russell nodded as he waved at another group of men. “If Tadd recommends you, then we'd be lucky to have you.”

 

“I'm dying to know,” Tadd said, as Russell excused himself. “What did you think of the loft?”

 

“It suits you,” Davis said. Plain…boring…no character. “Obviously well planned out, great space, you did a great job.”

 

“You think?” Tadd asked, smiling. “I've always held a fascination with Bauhaus design…clean, uncomplicated lines.”

 

“Bauhaus always felt a little sterile to me, personally,” Davis said, looking around the club for Jack, “but you really bring some life to it.”

 

“I like to think I bring a little persona to a room.”

 

“Speaking of persona,” Davis said, “you better go find your man. He's not the type you want to take your eyes off for very long. Take it from me.”

 

“He does require a considerable amount of attention.”

 

“Puh-lease, Jack always has to have top billing.”

 

“I'll keep that in mind,” Tadd said, laughing as he and Davis turned and went in the direction Jack had disappeared to.

 

“It takes a strong man to be willing to take a backseat in Jack's one-man ego show.”

 

Tadd smiled and waved at a group of friends. “True, but I believe we both understand the rewards. Even in a room full of people, he does have this way of making you feel as though no one else exists.”

 

“Well, there is that,” Davis said, smiling.That's right, rub it in. You ass.

 

“And his laugh,” Tadd said, stopping and looking down at the floor. “The way it somehow fills you up with this complete feeling of joy. I love to make him laugh.” He glanced back over at Davis and started walking again. “And the way he kisses… Well, I don't have to tell you.”

 

“He's a great guy,” Davis said, smiling with a nod.I really hate this fucker. “But he does have some major flaws that go along with all the good.”

 

Tadd placed a hand on Davis's shoulder to stop him. “I know you love him, Davis.”

 

“Well, of course, but…”

 

“I love that you want to protect him, and I know you're worried by the amount of time we've known one another, but let me assure you, Davis… I love him. All I want to do is make him happy. If I do nothing else for him, I promise you I'll move mountains to make sure he's happy.”

 

“That's… I'm glad to hear you say that.” Davis wanted to cry and scream at the same time.I hate that hating this fucker makes me feel like shit…damn it!

 

Tadd waved at another group of men. “Would you excuse me? I need to go say hi to these guys.”

 

“Sure,” Davis said, smiling sweetly.

 

Tadd turned to leave, and Davis walked through the crowd making his way back to Deseree and Alex. “Go ask one ofthemto marry you, you man-thieving prick.”

 

Davis jumped as someone ran a hand over his ass. He whirled around but couldn't tell who'd done it. Shaking his head and muttering under his breath, he returned to Deseree and Alex, who were laughing hysterically. Deseree handed Davis his cocktail.

 

“You have to come visit me the next time you're in New York,” Deseree said to Alex.

 

“Darling, I will,” Alex said, glancing up at Davis. “We can tear through the city being shamelessly decadent.”

 

“I'm your gal,” said Deseree.

 

Davis rolled his eyes and moved forward a step to make room for two men who stepped up to the bar laughing as they waited for the bartender.

 

“Exactly what is it you do, Alex?” Davis asked as Alex placed a hand on the small of his back.

 

“It's just like Tadd to throw himself a bachelor party like that,” one guy said. “Have you ever been to a bachelor party where the mother-in-law was the main event? Where were the goddamn strippers?”

 

“Oh, she's here too,” the other guy said in a can-you-believe-it tone.

 

“The mother-in-law?” the first guy said, as Davis looked at Deseree and frowned.

 

“It's sick, isn't it,” the second guy said. “I really hate Tadd. Nothing bothers him. It's not natural…the fucking Boy Scout.”

 

“Nothing except bad press, the vain prick,” the first guy added, laughing as Davis smiled and chuckled to himself. “A nice fucking scandal in the tabloids would probably kill him.”

 

The two men laughed, grabbed their drinks, and walked back into the crowd. Davis peeked over at Deseree, and they both smiled. Davis scanned the room and spotted Candace on the dance floor surrounded by shirtless, sweaty men, twirling and laughing.

 

“People can be so beastly,” Alex said with a smile.

 

Davis took a sip from his now-lukewarm martini. “It's really quite disgusting.”

 

“I think it's deliciously fun,” Deseree said, clapping her hands and giggling.

 

Alex placed his hand on Deseree's knee. “You and I are going to get along famously.”

 

“Time will tell,” Deseree said with a wink.

 

“Deseree, since you're one of the few people who apparently knows Davis, perhaps you might tell me what one has to do to win his favor.”

 

“You mean get in his pants?” Deseree asked, looking up and placing her hand on her chin. “Do you know any hit men?”

 

“Deseree, honestly,” Davis said, shaking his head as he moved away from Alex and turned to face him. “Look, Alex, I'm sure you're a very sweet man…”

 

“Ouch,” Alex said, placing a hand on his chest. “That one really hurt.”

 

“I'm going to be perfectly honest with you.”

 

“Darling, please,” Alex said, groaning, “anything but that.”

 

“You have something against honesty?” Davis asked, looking irritated.

 

“In my experience, nothing kills romance like the truth.”

 

“Hear, hear,” Deseree said, lifting her glass. “Cheers to the fantasy!”

 

“Well, brace yourself, buck-o,” Davis said to Alex while shooting Deseree a disapproving look.

 

“Good Lord,” Alex said, setting down his cocktail. “Buck-o…really? Who in the name of John Wayne still uses the wordbuck-o?”

 

Davis rolled his eyes, completely frustrated as he placed a hand on his hip. “I just don't want to lead you on.”

 

“I don't mind, honestly.”

 

Davis threw his hands in the air as Deseree giggled. He took a deep breath and pointed across the bar toward Jack and Tadd. “You see those two guys over there?”

 

“The two that are getting married?” Alex asked, raising an eyebrow.

 

Jack noticed Davis pointing at him and waved, smiling.

 

Davis waved back with a big smile, putting his hand down and turning slightly red. He turned his attention back to Alex.

 

“That's Jack, he's my ex, and well…I'm here to get him back.”

 

“Christ,” Deseree said, looking at Davis in shock. “Why not go and announce it over the loud speaker.”

 

Alex examined Davis with wide eyes. “You're here to break up the wedding?”

 

“Okay, it sounds worse when you say it,” Davis said, scrunching up his face.

 

“Blow me,” Alex said, looking Davis up and down. “You look so sweet and wholesome.”

 

“Yeah, well, he was mine first, and…and…”

 

“Jolly good fun,” Alex said, as a mischievous expression stole over his face.

 

“Huh?” Davis and Deseree asked at the same time.

 

“You little vixen, you should let me help.”

 

“What?” Davis asked, looking at Alex suspiciously. “Why?”

 

“I have nothing better do,” Alex said matter-of-factly, “and I'm gorgeous. Let's see if we can make him jealous?”

 

Davis sucked down the last of his martini. “I don't think that's a good idea.”

 

“Oh come on, Davis,” Deseree said, patting her hand on the bar. “He's cute. Can't we keep him?”

 

Davis watched the two of them as they looked up at him like two children who had been naughty but still wanted dessert. He tossed his arms into the air in a full-body shrug.

 

“He's looking right now,” Alex said, getting off his bar stool as Davis turned to look. Alex placed his hands on each side of Davis's face and pressed his lips onto Davis's. He slowly moved his tongue into Davis's mouth. Davis tensed as he closed his eyes, and to his surprise he reciprocated, kissing him back. Alex's full lips covered his and Davis let out a tiny moan as Alex pushed farther into his mouth, massaging Davis's tongue with his. Davis placed his hands on Alex's hips to brace himself as his body began to tremble with chills running up his spine.

 

Jack stopped talking with the people around him and watched Alex and Davis from across the bar. Tadd looked at Jack and turned to see what Jack was staring at. Tadd rolled his eyes and looked back at Jack before turning his attention back to the group of people they were standing with. Jack excused himself from Tadd and the other men and headed toward Davis.

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