Saturday, March 29, 2014

Twenty-three



You’re disoriented from the dark.
Mmhmm, not from the aftershocks of swooning over Dane’s dance moves and definitely not from his dizzying kisses.

He knows the theater better than you do.
That’s right. I’m not holding Dane’s hand and following right up against his ass because it feels good.

You’re not about to ask a boy out on a date.
But you are.

I follow Dane through the side exit into the frigid night. The arctic blast is a new shock to my system. “’Sfreezing out here!”

Dane chuckles while he blows into his cupped hands. “Might want to put your coat on.”

For fuck’s sake! I scurry into my coat, doing my best to maintain some measure of dignity though I’m pretty sure that ship has long since sailed. Poking my hands into my pockets, I ask, “So, what do you usually do after a show? Are you tired or wired?”

He shrugs. “It varies. We’re dark tomorrow, so I’d usually go out with some of the cast and crew.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Dane. I really didn’t mean to intrude. If you want to meet up with your friends, I’ll just—”

“No, Mas—Marcus. Wow, that feels funny.” He shakes off the uncomfortable word. “I’m beyond ecstatic to be out with you!”

And there goes my heart again, banging around inside my chest like a spinning top in a cardboard box. “Can I feed you?”

Dane grins. “Like, with your hands?”

It feels so damn good to see him happy and free. “That’s not exactly what I had in mind, but I suppose if you were having trouble with your utensils, I could always help.”

“Thanks. I’d do the same for you.”

An unpleasant image of the two of us thirty years down the road pops into my head: An eternally young Dane sits across from me in the nursing home cafeteria, spoon-feeding me Jello and wiping drool from my chin.

“Where do you like to go around here for a bite?” After the intimate warmth of our encounter inside the theater, this frosty apartness is most unwelcome. It amazes me that young people never seem to be cold; while I tap dance to generate heat, Dane seems perfectly composed.

“Ah . . . I’m not really sure it’s your kind of place.” He rubs his chin almost in apology.

“Try me.”

“Two Boots?”

“The greasiest pizza in the city?”

He chuckles. “Told ya. There’s a Brazilian place you might like around the corner.”

“This really isn’t about me, Dane. I ate earlier.”

“So you could focus on my needs?” Playful Dane has taken a momentary rest, while the man in front of me reminds us both that we aren’t just two random guys standing on a cold street corner negotiating where to eat.

“Not exactly. I had four hours to kill between shows. C’mon. Let’s go get you some pizza.”

Dane adjusts his duffle on his shoulder and falls in beside me. We’re roughly the same height, so there’s a companionable bumping of elbows and shoulders as we turn up 46th.  I’m certainly not pulling away.

“Did you get any more feedback from your stage manager?”

“Nothing formal, just a ‘nice job’ after the show tonight.”

“That’s good though.”

“It’s a really strong cast. There’s not a lot of wiggle room to move up.”

“Hmm, want me to bump someone off for you?”

Dane throws his head back and laughs, sending a big white puff of frost toward the sky. “Is that part of the service you offer?”

“Yes. Didn’t you read the fine print?”

“Yeah . . . not so much.”

He was probably just being offhanded, but his answer files itself away where I have a feeling it will resurface later—when I’m not having quite so much fun with my—with Dane. We walk on, lost in our own thoughts, until the funky restaurant comes into view. Dane drops his duffel into one of the bright red booths and tosses his coat in on top of it. He rubs his hands together. “Are you going to join me, or are you just watching tonight?”

I’ve got one arm free and the other mid-sleeve when he drops that little gem on me. There’s no mistaking the twinkle in his eye. “If I don’t die from cholesterol overdose, your innuendos are going to kill me anyway, so I might as well enjoy myself, right?”

“Hey, you said you felt twenty years younger!”

“While you were dancing!”

“Oh. Whoops.”

“Whoops.” I chuckle and join him at the counter, where a tall glass case of colorfully topped pizzas spins like a Russian roulette of heart disease. “Dear Lord, does everything have chopped jalapeño on it?”

“Kind of. Louisiana is the second of the two boots.” Dane bends down to survey the choices. “This one looks safe. They call it the Shirley Temple.”

“I refuse to order a Shirley Temple.”

“Suit yourself, big guy.” Big guy? If I didn’t have utter faith in my ability to regain the upper hand in my dungeon, I would be seriously worried right now. Decorum has gone completely out the window. Stepping around me, Dane orders a slice of “the bird,” which is a whole lot more threatening than its name—Buffalo chicken and bleu cheese with scallions and jalapeños. I ponder my choices and decide to play it a little risky.

“I’ll take a ‘dude,’” I tell the semi-amused cashier.

“Okay, ‘big guy,’” he echoes. “One bird and one dude, coming right up.”

Dane is full-on laughing.

“You should be aware you’re not the only one with an excellent memory.” My warning does not threaten him in the least. In fact, as we walk back to the booth, Dane takes my arm and pulls me into his side. That huge grin never leaves his face.

“I meant it as a compliment.” His eyebrows make a comical wave as he drops his gaze to my crotch.

“Do they sell alcohol here?”

“No, but they do this thing called a ‘fizzy.’ It would’ve gone so great with your Shirley Temple.”

This sends him into near-convulsions as we sink into opposite sides of the booth. Time to cut the cord with Shirley before the link becomes permanent. “Do you have a long ride home?”

Dane clasps his hands together on the table between us while the laughter fades. “Not as long as yours. Why?”

Shit, did he interpret that as a hint to take me back to his place? We’re on quicksand right now, and there’s a dangerous part of me that wants to dive in headfirst. “Just trying to get to know your world a little better.”

“I live in Astoria.”

“Alone?”

“Mmhmm.”

Big guy! Slices are up!”

“I am gonna fucking kill that kid!” I slide out of the booth, tug the wallet out of my back pocket, and give him a beady-eyed glare along with my Amex Black card.

“That’s twenty-two fifty-four for the slices.”

“Throw in a couple of grape fizzies.” So much for my fierce glare. I’m thirsty, dammit.

The guy leans forward and gives me a stage wink. “The fizzies are on me. You two make a cute couple.”

“What did he say to you?” Dane asks, smirking as I deliver his pizza.

“He said, ‘Kiss your arteries goodbye.’”

Dane chuckles before lifting his slice, folding it lengthwise, and guiding the corner between his lips. “Mmmm.” Utter joy courses through me as Dane savors his first bite.

“Aren’t you gonna try yours?” he dares me.

I follow his example, hefting my slice of bacon-cheeseburger-death-on-a-crust into my mouth. This thing is taboo on so many levels, but hell if it’s not the best thing I’ve tasted in a long time—present company excluded.

“Fuck discipline!”

Dane laughs around his mouthful, coughs a couple of times, and chugs down half his drink. “May I quote you on that at some point in the future?”

“No, you may not.”

“Okay, okay. My lips are sealed.”

“Hmm, that’s no good either.” We both go a little goggy-eyed and blushy. This is getting truly ridiculous.  Change the subject again. “What do you usually do on your day off?”

“Why? You wanna stalk me?” He smirks as he raises the pizza again.

“That depends; what are you doing?”

“Nothing that exciting, I’m afraid. Grocery shopping, paying my bills, going for a swim, calling my parents—”

“Whoa. Rewind. You swim?” Dane in a Speedo. Yes.

Clearly recognizing he has the upper hand—or should I say, my cock in his hand?—Dane smirks all over again. “Just freestyle and backstroke.”

I’m quite sure my thoughts are transparent as I ogle his tight t-shirt. He watches me unflinchingly while he takes another drink. Gather yourself, Marcus.

“So, should I look for you at the Y tomorrow?” he asks. And thank you for telling me where, just to fuel my stalkerish behavior.

The imagery is hi-def precision as it scrolls through my brain.

Dane struts around the pool deck for me in his tiny, royal blue suit, drawing large forward circles with his arms, then switching directions. He tips his head to one side and rolls his neck in lazy half-moons. Mounting the starter block, he flexes his feet before curling his toes around the front edge, crouches, then bang! Cutting through the water with graceful efficiency, his elegant strokes propel him across the length of the pool, those powerful legs spraying fountains of water behind him.

I don’t realize I’ve sighed out loud until he chuckles at me. “You should come. They have bleachers.”

“I wish I could,” I say, adding a new sigh for a different reason. I really wish I could.

“Big plans?”

“I have to work.”

“Oh.” Dane takes a deeply thoughtful bite of his pizza while the reality of my job takes a big, ugly shit on the table. “Dane, I’m not sure how much you know about my job.”

He hides behind the crust and shrugs. Fuck.

What is there to say really? I’ve never been anything but proud of what I do and how I do it. I train the untrainable; I am the “Sub Whisperer.” My name is the gold standard in clubs throughout the region, and I receive referrals on a weekly basis from my network of dominants the world over. News travels quickly in our community—both good and bad.

I’d be lying if I told Dane it’s “just a job.” That diminishes me as it diminishes the men who kneel at my feet. While I sit here racking my brain for something Dane would be ready to hear, he cuts into my thoughts with a terrifying question.

“Should I have offered to pay you?”

“No. Absolutely not.”

“But if it’s your job . . .?”

“Dane, you are not my job. You’re . . .” my Dane.

He lowers the crust to its plate and wipes his hands on the inadequate napkin. Meanwhile, on my side of the table, the greasy snack is already souring in my stomach. Dane’s penchant for not speaking when he’s upset leaves me with the uncomfortable need to fill in the conversation—or at a minimum complete my own thought.

“You’re different.” There. That works.

Dane rises and reaches for his coat. “I don’t feel so different right now.”



Oh shit. That did not work, Marcus!

Well, the GOOD news is I figured out why the email notifications weren't going out. The BAD news is that shizzle up there^^above the swirl. Ugh, Born, you're writing angst again? [insert boo-boo face] Hey, wasn't this fun right up until that happened?

Come on, you know you love them and me. MWAH!


40 comments:

  1. Oh no, did we know that Marcus is a sub whisperer? And how far does he go to succeed in his job?

    I can't blame Dane in feeling as he does although their exclusivity hasn't been discussed and the real terms of their arrangement haven't been defined.

    Come on Marcus, save the day please and quickly...:)

    Thank you Born, please hurry xx

    Jarvis

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  2. ouchie! :(

    On a lighter note, i like how they kind of switched roles out in the real world today. Dane was def taking the lead, while Marcus followed (at times a little disoriented). lol. And the cashier telling M they made a cute couple?? *swoons*

    I like M's justification for why he couldnt say its "just a job." He has a lot of pride in his work, and he has earned a lot of respect for it too. And he would never belittle the men (and occasional woman??) who come to him like that, even if it wasn't to their faces, etc..

    I feel horrible that Dane's feelings seem to be hurt right now, but I need more info to understand it. He seems to know what Marcus's job was, and as theyve only been meeting for ~2 weeks, he can't expect Marcus to have just stopped working...??? but then again, I sympathize with the feeling that he might be experiencing- like a bucket of ice water coming down over him- coming out of the bliss of the two of them focusing on each other so intently (for the past 2 weeks, and more specifically the last hour), and facing the reality that Marcus shares a lot of the same things he does with Dane with other people who pay him for it. But there is soooo much more between D and M and poor M hasn't had a chance to lay that out on the table yet.

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    1. I'm happy you looked beyond the ending to the rest of the chapter. You're so right. There they were in Dane's world, and Marcus realized he had to take a back seat and let the boy be his guide, though in a way, isn't that what Marcus does in the playroom as well?

      I love your questions about how Dane responded to Marcus-- what he expected, how it struck him, all of that is important to the story and will be revealed in due time. For now, we are all stuck with the Marcus POV, which only tells us what Marcus observes and interprets. Just one guy...trying to figure it out!
      MWAH!

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  3. *CRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!* You'll remember my comment about Dane breaking my heart a little each time, well this time it was HUGE! Oh god. My tummy is a little woozy now too and I didn't have any of the pizza. I mean this is good conflict because we all knew it couldn't go on all happy happy forever, that would get boring and the characters wouldn't continue to grow as much as they are. But...but...buuuuuuut.....I has a major sad, B. Major sad. I'll be fine...eventually. *Throws big puppy dog eyes at you* I promise.

    Favorite line... Dane rises and reaches for his coat. “I don’t feel so different right now.” ...As much as it hurt, this line is the most moving and simple sentence so far. I'm just going to go rock in a corner and nurse a jug of wine. Or tequila. Whatever.

    xoxo
    V

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    1. Aww, sorry about this one. I know. My heart hurts too. :(
      Thank you for caring about my boys so much it hurts.
      MWAH!

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  4. ah....poor Dane! so fragile he retreats at the slightest hint that he might not be as special to Marcus as he wants to be.....if only he could hear Marcus inner dialogue. That might be a dangerous road for Marcus to start down, as his budding relationship with Dane is previously unknown territory. That must be almost terrifying for the big guy! A bit of angst sharpens up a story, IMHO! Thanks for fixing the notification issue, Born! loving this story to pieces!

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    1. I think you read Dane just right there- finding out maybe he's not so special after all (which of course, WE know is all wrong, but with Marcus holding in all his feelings, how WOULD Dane really know?) Maybe he's like this with all his subs, Dane might be reasoning. And would it be best for Dane OR Marcus if Marcus decided to share his feelings? Or would that place Dane in a really awkward position (no pun please)? It's not just a matter of a withheld confession, is it? Does Marcus even know his heart? ACH! Sigh.
      xo

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  5. I loved the chapter, the playful banter. It's beautiful to see Dane so free and giddy. I think the way Marcus behaved this chapter gave me a glimpse of how he was in his youth, it's like watching him fall for the first time, I love that balance of power and insecurity that we all experience at some stage in our life while starting a relationship. It's also understandable that Dane would be upset, but I don't think it has so much to do with what Marcus does "professionally". For a minute there I forgot that Dane was a broken soul and he was riding a high, his body full of endorphins, his heart full of joy. Sadly his issues and insecurities cannot be solve miraculously over a slice of pizza, but it gave me a delightful preview of who Dane could and should be. I'm looking forward to see how Marcus drags him back into the light and I hope he is no too hard on Dane, though I'm sure he might be a bit hard on himself.
    Thanks for this chapter, blessings :)
    Gigi

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    1. Loved this: "that balance of power and insecurity"
      You hit on a really important point here in your comments- Dane IS a broken soul, and though Marcus knows this intellectually, he doesn't yet know the depths of how it might affect the boy or their relationship. And while things were going really well there between the two men, nine-tenths of the iceberg is under water.
      Thank you for your lovely insights.
      xo
      b

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  6. Well that didn't turn out too well now did it? Started off great but there were some warning signs along the way, right? Dane "not reading the fine print." Dane's laughter fading when Marcus asks about his trip home. Marcus mentioning his job and Dane's reaction to it. Trouble in paradise. Looks like some serious conversation is needed.

    Perhaps Marcus could have said that Dane was so much more than just a job rather than stating that he was different. But Marcus is a tad bit out of his element right? In not having strong feelings for anyone since Edward? Poor man.

    Yeah, not receiving email notification sucked. However, it sure has been fun having a Marcus-fest to catch up when the notifications did start working.

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    1. Trouble in paradise...hmm. Is that one from "South Pacific"?

      The fact is, Dane isn't a job at all. Marcus chose him. Makes me wonder what was on the business card he slid Dane at the wedding though, RIGHT? I'm sure it was something really tasteful.

      You can pretty much expect an update every day until this is put to bed, update or not.
      xo

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  7. I knew it was going to easy, that something simple would trip them up. Before that moment, it was the so fun too. We got teasing and flirting and nicknames and even people around them seeing them as a couple. If only it was that easy. (the urge to find the previous "master" is overwhelming)

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    1. It did seem like they were on a straight path to the horizon, didn't it? I don't know that any relationship ever gets there (nowhere REAL anyway) without being tested somehow. Let's see if/how these two recover.
      xo

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  8. Aaand, the other shoe drops. I really hope Marcus can find a way to fix this (at least a little) before Dane walks out. Talk about 2 steps back...

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  9. Well, shoot! Dane don't leave! Eeeeep!
    Marcus is a bit out of sorts with the way Dane affects him. He isn't letting him see or telling Dane, how he truly is feeling. It's hard in the beginning, getting it all situated. Especially when there is more intimate feelings there and not just sub whispering going on. I hope these two boys talk it out soon! I don't like either of them being upset! I adore them both!

    Can I say that when he thought..."my Dane" I swoooned!
    I adored seeing them together on a date and seeing their cute, quirky, and flirty behavior show to each other.
    "Big guy" I giggled so hard!

    xoxo <3

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    1. Heehee, yeah. If only that thing didn't happen at the end. :(

      I wondered (as did Marcus) if it would be good for Dane to know at this point that Marcus has feelings for him (of some unidentified variety). Would it cloud what Marcus is trying to do with him in the healing? Would it confuse Dane or worse yet, if he doesn't return the feelings, would he be forced to leave? It's so risky...so much to lose at this moment by coming clean.

      Thank you for the love you've shown both of them. (and me)
      xo

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  10. With every good love story a little angst must fall. They'll come through together and much stronger in the end. Still enjoying immensely.

    flutterfli

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  11. Weeeelllllll, hello Mr. Insecure! We all knew you'd show up. They need a challenge to to make them stronger, and this will do it.

    So, Master will be in the market for a new job...except, our main man has a black Amex, so I don't think he needs to actually work. His days can now be filled with dreamy eyes from planning elaborate scenes for his boy. It'll be the best job he's ever had, methinks.

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    1. The best job he ever loved, mebbe?
      So Marcus is just gonna chuck the job, give up his career and the esteem of his fellow doms? Hmmmm.
      LOVE your insights!

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  12. $22 for a couple slices of pizza?!?! What!!! Someone needs to take a flogger to those prices! I can't wait to see how Marcus goes about bringing Dane back from the edge, and convincing him that Dane is not his 'work'.

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    1. A FLOGGER TO THE PRICES! YES! Hey, dude, it's New York City and I looked that shit up. It's a real place, and those are real pizza slices. BUT they're freakin' HUGE slices.

      Now then...yes, let's see how Marcus does this!
      x

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  13. The only thing keeping me from agonizing over this chapter right now, is we saw in the prolog that all things work out before 18 months is over! I am so in love with these two right now - the first thing I do each morning is see if there is a new update - thank you for making my mornings the last few days! Love your writing.

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    1. WELL PLAYED, Miss Anonymous!
      Thank you for your lovely note!
      xo

      Delete
  14. Oh Dane - if only you could be a mind reader - then you'd know that what Marcus is thinking beyond the realms of any relationship he's had before.. He not only wants to know Dane as far as his needs as a submissive are concerned, he also recognises that Dane is not going to be just another one in a long line of subs. Marcus wants to date the young man. Wants to know about the life he leads - to know all those finer details necessary for a relationship to work. Aside from his lust for Dane, Marcus is trying to navigate them both through some unexplored territory, and though it's a scary notion, I love reading about Marcus' fears and doubts as well as his overwhelming feelings for a boy who has already burrowed his way into his heart. Loved it :)

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    1. Aww, that was such a beautiful commentary. Thank you for your lovely insights.
      xo

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  15. "I don’t feel so different right now.”
    Awww Dane. If you only knew how different you are. I love this chapter. They are just two guys (not Master and slave) going out for food. I love how Dane is opening up to Marcus. With what happened here, I wonder how it will affect them?

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  16. sub whisperer... love it. Well it was going so well. Marcus is a little out of his depth at the moment. I imagine he recover the ball so to speak.

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  17. Big guy. *chuckles* I forgot about that one. I'm surprised I could focus on anything else in the chapter but the impending crash I knew was coming. Even though I "know" the anticipation was making nervous. It's a necessary evil

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  18. Oh boy then I mean it couldn't always be perfect right? Sigh... man we just went from Dane being so happy seeing Marc at his show to pizza jokes to this. CRIES

    “Should I have offered to pay you?” THAT HURT SO BAD THOUGH... LORD!!!!

    Okay not really saying much because I wanna know what happens next dammit.

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  19. Also omg if there's not an email from Dane in the morning... I'll cry. Seriously I will. This has become a way of life for me. Just wanted to point that out.

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  20. aww! everything was going so well too! poor dane, he's going to feel that he's nothing but a job now. marcus is going to have some work to do. i guess dane wouldn't know how marcus treats his sub trainees outside of a scene. i wonder if at any point dane can observe his master during a training session. or even way down the road helping out. the poor boy was so light-hearted and exuberant after the show and seeing marcus. i wonder what his reflections of the evening will be once he has time to think about it all.

    good for marcus maintaining his pride in his job. that's why he is who he is! :)

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    1. Yeah, this was a rough moment. Interesting suggestion about Dane watching a session. Thank you for your reflections.
      x

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