I woke to the same delicious sensation. Only this time was even better. The cock pressed so tightly against my back door was completely hard now.
I'm not usually a bottom. It's just not what I'm used to, the surrendering, the invasion, but with Charlie I had the feeling I could easily slip into that role. At least part of the time. I was more than willing to try --
Suddenly the pressure on my back vanished. Cold air marbled my skin seconds before I heard the bathroom door slam shut.
"What the fuck --"
I bolted out of bed.
"Charlie? What --"
He'd been in such a state he hadn't bothered to lock the door so I slipped into the bathroom. The shower was on and I approached it with some trepidation. A horrible suspicion circled around in my head like a vulture waiting for a free meal.
He hadn't been that drunk last night. I was certain of it. He'd seemed so sure of what he wanted...
"Charlie?" I said softly and the shower curtain was wrenched aside. Cold spray misted out and I backed away from it. "Christ, what is it, man?"
"Get out of here, Tyler," Charlie said through clenched teeth. "You had your fun, now go home to Michael."
What the fuck was this? There was a hell of a lot more going on here than next day regrets.
"Talk to me." I ignored the icy spray that was washing over my still naked body. "Charlie, come on, talk to me."
He turned the shower off and shoved past me, grabbing a towel to wrap around his hips.
"Get out of here. There's nothing to talk about."
"Like hell there isn't." I grabbed his arm and swung him around. "Like hell. I didn't seduce you. You asked for it."
"I was drunk!"
We stood there glaring at each other. Two alpha males testing each other's testosterone level. I was buck ass naked and he had a skimpy towel wrapped around his slender hips. The situation would have been ludicrous if it hadn't been so charged with fury.
I wanted to bend him over and fuck him right there.
He must have read something in my eyes because he took a step back. Still glaring. Posturing.
"What's your problem?" I snapped. "If it was a mistake then fine, we can just put it in the forget-this-ever-happened closet. We're both adults, we can walk away. No big deal."
"No big deal?" Charlie's hands clenched into fists. "You took advantage of me."
"What?" I found myself bellowing and stepping forward. A bull on the move. I could smell the aggression in the room. And something else, too. "What the fuck are you, some fifteen year old virgin? You're pissed cause you liked it."
"Oh bullshit --"
"Explain this, then." I whipped the towel off and exposed his rock hard cock. It matched the one I was sporting, and I didn't even have anything to cover it with. "Christ, Charlie, at least be man enough to admit you liked it."
Charlie grabbed the towel back but made no move to cover himself.
"Get out of here, Tyler."
He turned his back on me. Tension riddled the strong muscles of his back and thighs. God I wanted to run my hands over those muscles and feel them flex under my fingers. My cock throbbed with desire.
"Now. Before I do something I'll regret."
"Like what? Beg me to suck your cock again? --"
I should have been expecting it. His fist caught my cheek in a solid upper cut. I stumbled backward. He came after me. His next shot slammed into my shoulder and I roared. He tried to swing at me one more time and I caught him, twisting his arm and sending him flying across the unmade bed. He landed on his back, legs splayed, long hair fanning out around his head.
I leaned over him, arms braced on either side of his head. We were both panting.
"Don't worry," I said. "I'm leaving. You can pretend last night never happened. While you're at it, pretend this didn't happen either."
I kissed him. Not a gentle, get to know you kiss, or even a regular kiss laced with passion. This was a full blown assault on his mouth. I was going after some serious tonsil when I shoved my tongue down his throat. My mouth was bruising on his and demanded some primal response.
He gave it to me. His tongue met and slam danced with mine. His face was contorted with lust and his eyes were obsidian chips. I knew if I kept it up one of us would getting shagged, and hard, in about thirty seconds. And nobody, least of all Mr. Charles-I-didn't-mean-it-Reid would be doing a damned thing to stop it.
Abruptly I broke away from him. I grabbed my clothes, dragging my jeans on over my still hard dick. Holding my T-shirt in my hand I glared down at him still lying on the bed. Looking more fuckable than he had a right to.
"I don't know what your problem is, man, but you are in some serious denial. If you ever get your head straight, give me a call."
"Don't hold your breath."
I let myself out without bothering to reply.
It was still dark when I arrived back home. I don't know if I was relieved or pissed to find Michael still not there. Maybe he'd finally found someone else. Someone with a deeper pocketbook.
Sometimes I wondered why I put up with it. Was being alone so much worse?
And what did that say about me?
I was late getting to the project site the next morning. The team was already there, the equipment unloaded from the van. They flocked to my Landrover.
"Jesus, man, what the hell happened to you?" Karl's eyes widened as they took in my damaged face.
I glanced in the Landrover's rearview and winced. My eye was turning a nice shade of purple red.
"Geez, what does the other guy look like?"
I slammed the truck's door shut. "Forget about it. It's nothing."
"Right," Donna murmured. "You ran into a door."
I threw her a sharp look then shook my head. "No." I forced a grin. "It was definitely a fist. But it still doesn't matter."
I swung my sample kit out of the truck bed. Larry caught it and passed it off to Donna. She in turn handed me the receipts for the courier she had used last night. I pocketed them wincing when I hit my bruised shoulder.
This was going to be a fun day.
"Let's hit the ground running, folks. Even when the boss is late the job has to get done.
It was noon when I called lunch. The others scattered, grabbing lunches and drinks out of the huge cooler and heading off to find shade where they could. I sat in my Landrover and nursed a Coke and a cloth filled with ice from the cooler up to my aching head.
When I heard the motorcycle engine I thought I was imagining things. But when the black and silver Harley roared down the dirt road I was already out of the truck watching it pull up beside me.
Charlie dragged the helmet off his head and glared at me. Without a word he pulled his sketch pad off the pillion seat and moved off toward the river.
"Morning, Charlie," I spoke to this back. "Good to see you again. Have a nice day."
I stomped back to my Landrover and jammed the ice pack on my eye so hard I winced.
"Have a fucking nice day."
Like that was going to happen now.
The day crawled toward its conclusion. The temperature soared and soon the nearby trees were alive with the sonorous buzz of cicadas. The sound rose and fell in cadence to some rhythm only cicadas knew about but it seemed to accentuate the pulse-throbbing heat that lay over us all like a caul.
There was no breeze. The willow hung limp, and silent. Even the normal bird activity in the area had ceased. Only the cicadas droned on.
I spotted Charlie frequently as he tramped through the scrubby weeds in search of inspiration. I didn't avoid him, but I made no effort to approach him either.
I was getting a feel for the land. Images were starting to come to me of how it could look. The images were overlays; I could see what was there, but superimposed on it were the what- might-be's. A grove of paper birch here on this high ground, more willow where the land dipped and the moisture loving trees would have access to the water they craved. Dogwoods there, then the marsh plants: marsh marigolds, skunk cabbage, cattails to hold in the soil and trap the poisons in place.
I didn't fool myself; I only started the process. Nature would finish it. The pattern could be laid out, like a blue print for a new skyscraper, but unlike an inanimate building this land would be dynamic. I considered myself successful if five years after a project was done I came back and didn't recognize the place.
I intended to make this place superbly successful.
At one point I was down by the river on the opposite end of the property from the willow when I flushed out a pair of wood ducks and their half grown progeny. The male with his brilliant coloring and startling red eyes trailed with the drabber female after their four equally drab offspring.
Sunlight flared off the male's iridescent purple green head and rust red plumage as they crossed the placid river and moved out of sight into the cattails on the other side.
I turned to find Charlie watching me. The look in his eyes made me take a step back.
"Tyler," he said softly.
He circled around me and I kept moving so that I faced him. We squared off, standing on a wasted shoreline while mosquitos buzzed hungrily around us.
Neither one of us noticed.
His eyes flicked to my face, moving over it like he was memorizing what he saw.
"Sorry about your eye. I never should have hit you."
"Forget it. Heat of the moment. Denial's a rough thing."
His eyes narrowed. "Just what do you think I'm denying?"
We circled some more, like boxers in a ring.
"Letting some faggot suck my dick hardly makes me a queer."
"I never said it did."
He reared back like I had hit him. "I'm not gay."
"Then there shouldn't be a problem here." I let my gaze wonder hungrily over his muscular form. He had worn a baggy T- shirt and loose cargo pants but it didn't matter. I knew what lay under those clothes. "What I think shouldn't affect you."
"What I do shouldn't either." My eyes lingered deliberately on his nice heavy basket. "The fact that I'd like to pull your fat cock out right now and suck you dry is immaterial."
"Yes," he said thickly. "It is."
I laughed softly. "There then, you have nothing to fear." I reached for his sketch pad, clutched tightly in one hand. "Can I have a look at those?"
He tensed then stood his ground while I opened the pad and leafed through his sketches. Each one left me more impressed. The blue herons were there, and the wood ducks. But there were others, a pile of stones with a few straggly stalks of bent grass. An old fence post tangled in a mesh of morning glories so vibrant I could almost see their velvety rich color in the shades of gray pencil. A cluster of milkweed plants and a single jewel- like monarch butterfly.
Wordlessly I handed the sketch pad back. He took it and flicked the pages until he got to a blank one, ready for his next brainchild.
"I'm impressed. You have an amazing talent." Then I couldn't help adding, "You know they say there's a link between artistic talent and homosexuality. Some even say it's biological."
He went rigid. His face darkened and I thought for a minute he was going to hit me again. The moment passed. But the rage didn't.
"I work at my talent," he said so low I barely heard him. "I wasn't born with a dick or a paintbrush in my hand. I paint the way I do because I spent hours every day for years perfecting my craft. Not because I'm some panty-waist or flaming faggot. Because I earned it."
He took a step toward me and I held my ground.
"I am not gay," he ground out. "And I wish you would drop the subject."
I suddenly understood a whole lot more about Mr. Charles Reid. His choice of jobs before he had 'given in' and pursued his artistic side. Roughneck, roustabout, fire fighter. Chasing the masculine dream -- fleeing the masculine nightmare of waking up and finding out you weren't the man you thought you were. That you weren't the man anyone thought you were. That maybe you weren't a man at all.
Living a lie.
Poor Charlie. How long would he run? The rest of his life?
I sighed. The choice was his. "Consider it dropped."
There was a message from Thurlow on my service when I checked in on my cell. I grabbed a cold drink and slid into the Landrover's front seat. Hoping I'd get a connection I dialed the number and hit send. The phone rang. Ah, the wonders of modern technology.
Jeannie answered, "Thurlow Industries."
"Hey, Jeannie, it's Tyler. The big guy called me?"
"I'll put you right through to him, Tyler. He was anxious not to miss your call."
I waited all of ten seconds.
"Thurlow here. I'm glad I caught you, Tyler."
"Caught me, sir?"
"Before I left. I'm sorry I didn't mention this sooner, but it was only confirmed the other day and what with one thing and another..."
"Whitstone Galleries is putting on a small private showing of Charles Reid's works this evening. I know it's short notice, but I would really like you to come. You can bring a date, of course."
"Yes sir." When the boss of a project as big as this one says things like 'I'm sorry' and 'I'd like you to come' then it was axiomatic that you did it. "What time?"
"I believe it begins at eight sharp. Tapas, dim sum, that sort of thing. Can we expect to see you there?"
"Of course, Mr. Thurlow. It would be a pleasure. I'll enjoy seeing more of Mr. Reid's work."
"Quite an impressive young man."
"Yes," I murmured finding Charlie's figure in the distance and following him with hungry eyes. "Very impressive."
I endured a few more pleasantries from the old man then I managed to terminate the conversation. I checked my watch. Four o'clock. Get home, shower, shave, trim the beard, try to dig up something presentable -- shit, Michael. I hit fast dial and ten rings later a breathless Michael picked up the phone.
"Baby, this is a surprise. What's up?"
I told him. Michael glowed. He loved upscale parties with the moneyed set.
"Oh, what should I wear? What kind of crowd will it be?"
"Snobs and newbies," I said, using our code for old Toronto wealth and the nouveau riche. "But low key. I don't expect much flash."
Michael sighed dramatically. "And I had just the perfect swag in mind for a real blast. Oh very well, I'll suffer with the Versace again. Even if it is so yesterday."
"That's the crowd, babe. Go with what you got. You'll be the belle of the ball."
"Oh you," Michael simpered. "Who's the artist? Have I heard of him?"
"Doubt it. He's not trashy enough."
"Just be ready by seven-thirty, okay? I'll be back in a couple of hours." I disconnected before he could launch into another scene. Michael loved his scenes.
I leaned back in the seat. Damn I was tired. Too tired for glitzy, phony parties, but I was committed. What's the difference between eggs and ham? The chicken is involved, the pig is committed.
I saw Charlie pack his sketch pad back onto his bike and pull his helmet on over his head. The bike started up with a defiant growl. Without a backward glance he sped away. To go and get ready for his own party?
I followed several minutes later.
Maybe I should have told Thurlow I couldn't get involved.
Too late, I was already committed.
[More to come]
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