I reached home at six-thirty. I could hear Michael banging around on the third floor before I got through the front door. I grabbed myself a beer out of the fridge then climbed the stairs.
I set the beer on the bedside table and approached my prize possession. A two hundred and fifty gallon Dutch plant tank. I had set the thing up nearly two years ago and it was finally reaching maturity. A school of nearly three hundred neon and cardinal tetras wove through masses of spatterdock and echinodorus and waving stalks of aponogetons. A pair of tiny corydorus catfish probed through the grasslike pygmy chain sword that ran down the terraced aquascape to the front of the tank.
I did a quick inventory of the CO2 gas injection system then satisfied everything was all right I stripped and headed for the bathroom.
Michael stepped out as I grabbed a robe out of the closet.
He stopped dead, holding a pair of onyx cufflinks in one suddenly limp hand. "What the fuck happened to you?"
Shit, I'd forgotten about the eye. I touched my face.
"It's nothing," I muttered. "It's work related. Don't worry about it."
"Oh right, Thurlow took a swing at you when you told him how many trees he was going to have to buy." Michael sidled over and cocked his head. "You look like shit."
"What, no 'baby'? I think I deserve a baby or two after this, don't you?"
He ignored me, which is damned unusual for Michael. Leaning forward he studied my eye critically. Then he straightened and nodded grimly.
"Go take your shower. But make it fast. I'm going to need to do some major repair work on you before you can be seen in public."
"Oh please, you think I care."
"I know you don't," Michael said flatly. "But I do. And you'll thank me later."
He hustled me into the shower and nagged at me while I carefully scraped a day's growth of hair off my face. I let him trim the goatee since he had a surer hand on the scissors than I did. Then he set me down in front of his vanity and got to work covering up the damage Charlie had inflicted.
"So who hit you? Not one of your students I hope? Did you get in a fight with someone on the highway? Is this some kind of road rage thing? Tell me."
"Nothing to tell. A stupid misunderstanding."
"You and stupid don't usually go together." Michael studied what he had done so far. He pursed his lips. "Did you have a lover's quarrel already?"
I stared at him.
"Don't give me that look. Don't think I haven't noticed you've been distracted lately. Or not home at all -- oh yes, I know you didn't come home last night. I know you thought I was gone all night, but I wasn't."
"Oh don't be a priss and start making excuses. I know it's over, sugar. You just haven't been able to figure out a way to say it out loud. So now I'm saying it for you." Michael patted my cheek. "Don't think it hasn't been sweet. But it's finito. I'm moving in with Donny this weekend."
"Just like that?"
"Yeah, sugar." He stroked my face, then kissed my mouth. "Just like that. Come on," he tugged at my hand. "Let's go and make our entrance."
"You're not such an empty headed twink after all, are you?"
"Oh sugar, it's always just an act. Don't you know that yet?"
"Guess I do now." Feeling much chastised I finished dressing and we headed down to pick up Michael's Mazda.
He told me to drive.
"And hold the door for me. I'm going out in style tonight."
I held the door and later his arm as we entered the Whitstone Gallery in the trendy Harbourfront area. A broad hipped woman of uncertain vintage immediately wafted toward us, trailing a cloud of Joy in her wake.
"Darling, and you must be...?"
"Mr. Tyler McKay and Michael Cartwright."
"Ah yes, Mr. Thurlow specifically mentioned you, Mr. McKay. So pleased to meet you. I'm Bedela Straughn, the gallery manager." She extended her hand to me and I kissed it. Michael did the same and Bedela simpered.
"Please, follow me." She led through the front of the gallery into a series of rooms, each one of which held two or three of Charlie's works. Bedela kept us moving though I would have liked to have stopped for a better look. "We're just waiting for the guest of honor to make an appearance. You know how temperamental artists are. Never on time."
I smiled to show I knew exactly what she meant. Michael was hanging onto me like a limpet, taking in everything with avid eyes.
"Who is the artist, anyway?" Michael whispered to me when Bedela got distracted by a diamond covered matron.
"Charlie Reid. From Tennessee."
"As in cracker?"
"I thought that was Georgia."
Michael dismissed my concerns for linguistic purity with a wave of his manicured hand. "Georgia, Tennessee. Whatever. Is he?"
"He's Cherokee Indian."
"Ohh, you know what they say about Indians."
"Can't say that I do," I muttered. "What do they say?"
"They're hung like - oh, that must be him now. Look at that hair. Couldn't you just die?"
At first I thought he meant Charlie's hair. Then I looked and realized he meant the woman on Charlie's arm.
She was brunette and her hair was the fattest thing about her. It was thick and hung down to the small of her back. She wore a simple sheath of black silk shot through with jade threads that clung to her model thin figure and clearly showed she wasn't wearing anything underneath. She had one arm wrapped securely around Charlie's, while the other one moved freely over his body. She seemed to be talking nonstop and with every word she touched him.
Her adoring look got nauseating very quickly. Charlie seemed to eat it up.
Charlie had dressed with care for this shindig too. He wore a western style suit with a string tie and hand tooled cowboy boots. On most men the off white outfit would have looked cartoonish. On Charlie it set off his bronze skin tone and jet black hair and showed just enough of his body to make it clear he had one worth flaunting.
I was very glad I had decided to wear my best Hugo Boss. I knew I looked hot in it. And for some reason it was suddenly very important that I look good. And Michael was right, I was glad he had fixed my face, so I didn't look like a refuge from a boxing ring.
Our course brought us together over the tapas table. Charlie caught my eye and I saw him stiffen slightly, dislodging the brunette's arm. She looked confused them grabbed him again. He made no move to divert their path and when we stopped facing each other he nodded.
His gaze skittered over Michael then back to mine. Then he glanced at the brunette. "I'd like you to meet Sonya Nikita. Sonya, dear, this is Tyler McKay and... I'm sorry, I didn't get your name."
"This is Michael Cartwright. Michael, Charlie Reid."
Heads nodded all around. Michael's gaze moved briefly over Charlie's form then settled on me.
"I'd like a glass of wine, sweetheart," he said pointedly. "Could you get me one?"
"Sure thing. Red or white?"
"Surprise me," Michael said flatly and I flashed him a quick look.
I came back with two glasses of Riesling and Michael pronounced it perfect. I sipped mine then leaned over and put my mouth next to Michael's ear.
"I'm going to look at paintings."
I slipped away through the growing throng.
The gallery viewing rooms were designed to accommodate smalls groups. I avoided the ones that had drawn large crowds and stuck to the less traveled ones. Most of the party had stayed in the main room with the tapas and that suited me just fine.
I had been impressed by Charlie's pencil sketches. I was blown away by his paintings. It wasn't just the detail, though that was stunning, it was another quality. One I couldn't put my finger on. It was as though he had captured an essence of the thing he painted. He didn't just reproduce an image but showed you its spirit.
I found a room full of paintings that had clearly been inspired by his period in the North Sea. The jaegar was there, a squat, ugly dirt colored bird sitting on a steel rail that glittered with a coating of ice so cold looking I felt the chill walk up my spine. In the background an angry gray sea left me feeling cold and bleak. Charlie made it look beautiful.
Another painting portrayed an exquisitely colored ice berg on which several walruses had taken refuge. A lone polar bear graced a third canvas.
In another room I warmed to a series of tropical paintings. Small colorful birds sipped nectar from brilliant flowers and a trim looking ocelot shared a tree branch with an arboreal orchid.
The man's work was remarkable. I glanced at the discreetly displayed price tags and did a double take. He was more popular than I had imagined.
I turned to find Michael standing in front of the ocelot, hands poised behind his back. His butch pose. It was incongruous given the effete look of his jewel clad ears and his lean feminine face.
"Sleek," he went on. "Rather like the artist. So." Michael raised one eyebrow and touched his finger to his mouth. "What's he like in bed?"
"Can the denials, Tyler McKay. I have eyes. You're both dancing around it out there like it's a mamba contest. Give me a break."
"It's not like you think."
"Maybe not. But it's not like you think, either." Michael linked his arm with mine. "Is he a keeper, Ty?"
"This guy isn't interested. You see what he's got out there."
Michael dismissed my words with a flip of his hand. He studied an image of a golden snake wrapped within a hanging epiphyte. The thing looked ready to leap out at us and sink it's deadly bite into our shrinking skin.
"He's got talented eyes," Michael said. "And fingers. Is he good for you, Ty?"
I rolled my gaze heavenward. "He's not even there for me, Michael. He says he's not gay."
"Ahh," was Michael's only response. He twined his fingers through mine. "Come on, lover boy. Let's make the rounds. Maybe we can find some more pretty paintings to admire. Maybe we can find a pretty artist to do the same with. Not gay. Ha, even my old rusty gaydar can see past that one."
Holding hands we moved through the viewing rooms. We found lots of paintings to ohh and ahh over, but no Charlie. I don't know if I was relieved or disappointed. It looked like Michael saw more than I'd ever given him credit for. I didn't need him to see me fail so miserably with this decidedly pretty artist.
Still holding hands we moved back toward the bar. I got us two more wines which we sipped as we cruised. This time I did spot Charlie, surrounding by admiring fans and the clinging limpet.
Michael eyed her cattily, his claws fully exposed. "If he can fuck that, then I know he's ready for boyville. She's got less hip than I do and you know how svelte moi is."
I patted his decidedly cute tush and he purred. He purred louder when I fed him some dim sum from the huge spread laid out near the bar.
"You know," he murmured around something hot and spicy. "I'd love to be a fly on the wall when you two get horizontal. You ever think that's going to be one hell of a cock fight? Two tops in a pissing contest to see who rules the bed."
"Michael, you can be so crude."
"Yes, but admired by all."
"And desired by many."
"Well I should fucking hope so."
I laughed and we moved off to look at yet more paintings. It was as though having decided after two years to call it quits Michael and I were finally becoming friends. In front of a painting depicting two bull moose vying for the attentions of a distant female I hugged Michael. He melted into me.
"Maybe we should have done this years ago," I whispered into his upturned face before I kissed him.
Normally I'm not into public displays. It has nothing to do with gay-straight issues, I'm just a private person. But Michael had surprised me and made me realize I was going to miss him when he left. Kissing him seemed the most natural thing in the world right then.
The sound of someone clearing their throat broke us apart, though I didn't let go of him. I looked up to find Charlie and his date watching us with a mixture of loathing and lust.
Pure loathing and disgust made the brunette's face ugly. Lust waged war with anger on Charlie's saturnine face. His eyes blazed when they met mine. He clutched the poster girl for bulimia so hard his knuckles were white. She didn't even seem to notice.
"That is just so disgusting," Sonya said loudly enough for us all to hear. "How can they let people like that in here?"
"Through the front door, sugar," Michael maintained a level voice though I could hear the anger there. "Like everyone else. And I wouldn't talk. You look more like a boy than most boys. Maybe you ought to wonder why the fashion queens put you on their runways. They get to fantasize there's a dick between those skinny ass hips of yours and jack off while you're wearing their clothes."
"Cool it, Michael. Let's not get bitchy."
"Bitchy," Sonya said in a shrill voice. "This little cock sucker couldn't lick my boots. Sniveling, dreary little queen --"
"Enough." This time Charlie stepped in. "Let's go back and get that champagne you wanted, babe." When she would have protested he grabbed her arm. "Now, Sonya."
Michael looked at me and we broke out laughing.
"Dreary little queen?" He smoothed the material of his Versace suit. "Dreary? Jesus, Ty, did you see the look he gave you? The guy had a boner for you and princess vomit didn't even catch it."
My grin faded. I suddenly felt weary.
"And he's still denying it, so what difference does it make? I'm hardly going to out the guy just so I can get a piece of ass."
"Or give a piece," Michael said slyly. "Funny, I can see you with those luscious legs of yours wrapped around his sweaty hips doing the horizontal."
The image had the effect Michael had been after. He discreetly touched my swollen cock through the material of my pants.
"Want to go home, sugar?" he whispered. "It's our last night. Let's make it one to remember."
"That sounds like a plan."
We met Thurlow on the way out and had to endure twenty minutes of boss-employee dancing masquerading as comradery. Thurlow greeted Michael with a cool nod and a 'Pleased to meet you, Michael.' Michael for his part was discretion itself, as he always had been around my various employers.
Finally we got away and sped home. I was so hard by the time I got the key to work that I began stripping in the front foyer. We never made it passed the first floor.
Michael got naked first and dropped to his knees on the hard wood floor in front of the marble stone fireplace. He sucked me eagerly while I shed the rest of my clothes then we switched places. After a few minutes of slurping him like a salty lollipop he pulled away from me and went to fetch some lube and condoms.
He came back to find me slowly stroking myself, head thrown back and eyes closed. He eased down and wrapped his lips around my cock again and I groaned. I groaned louder when he slid a stiff finger into my puckered hole.
He pulled me down onto the floor and I paused only long enough to unroll the condom over my leaking cock and slather the latex with lube. Then I pushed two lube coated fingers into his open hole. He rocked against my hand and squeezed with his ass muscles.
"Fuck me, baby. Bury that cock in me and ride me hard."
He wrapped his hips around mine and I had an instant image of Charlie and I doing the same thing. I instantly got harder and slammed my mouth down on Michael's stifling his moans. I moved slowly only as long as it took to ease into his tight channel then I stopped being gentle.
I rammed into him and he met me thrust for thrust. Our grunts filled the room and the slap of flesh on flesh was the only other sound. I could feel his ass tightening around my shaft and his balls pulled tight as he got ready to explode. I reached down between us and circled his pre-cum soaked pole with my fist. I pumped him hard and he cried out, thrashing on the floor as he came, shooting streamers of liquid heat all over his belly, chest and face.
My own cock contracted and throbbed. My thrusts grew wilder, less controlled and I gripped his hips with an iron hand, throwing my head back. I shouted his name as I came, filling the thin latex shield with my own hot jism.
We collapsed together on the floor until the non giving nature of the hard wood and bony knees and elbow made it too uncomfortable. Then we scrambled to our feet.
"Let's go to bed," I whispered against his mouth.
"Thought you'd never ask," came his sleepy reply. He took my hand and led me up the stairs.
We made love again, a long dreamy sequence of thrust and counter thrust that grew slowly in heated intensity and left us totally drained and sated when we finally exploded.
We slept, woke before dawn to come together one more time, then I got up to shower and shave and Michael got ready to go to Donny's.
Then he left.
I looked at my display tank full of green wonder and darting jewels.
"Just you and me now."
Fish aren't much for conversation.
I got dressed and ready for work.
[More to come]
If you like this story so far, let me know at Patrick I'm always happy to hear comments, suggestions, anything. You can also read all my stories at Archerland