Uses the prompt words (mutatis mutandis – mansuetude) left in the previous week’s Flash Fiction Friday post.
Told from Blaine’s 3rd-person POV:
“Sorry.” Blaine pulled his ringing phone out of the inside breast pocket of his suit and scowled at it as George closed the door to his apartment.
“No worries,” George said. Despite the man’s rough-looking exterior, there was an unmistakable mansuetude defining his demeanor. Nothing ever seemed to ruffle his feathers. The best part about it was the calming effect it had on people around him—on Blaine in particular.
Blaine’s smile returned as he pressed a button and moved the phone to his ear. “Janice, is it good news or bad?”
“Good!” Janice replied. “The affidavit arrived in time, and we got the brief filed before end-of-business.”
“Mutatis mutandis per the affidavit, or were changes unnecessary?” he asked.
“Fantastic. Thank you for handling that for me.”
“No problem. Now we’re even,” she replied.
Blaine returned the phone to its pocket and grinned at George. “You look nice.” George still wore casual clothes, but Blaine caught a whiff of the apple scented soap George favored, and his beard was freshly trimmed. The tux George would wear in his buddy’s wedding remained protected in a thin plastic carrier bag and lay over the back of a chair. “Are you ready to go?”
“Unfortunately.” George’s eyes danced under his waggling eyebrows. “Since you’re going all ‘hakuna matata’ on me.”
Blaine snickered in what could best be described as a very non-Blaine way—at least, a very non-the-old-Blaine way. The new Blaine, relaxed in the company of Mr. “Hakuna Matata” himself, was rather wont to snicker and chuckle with abandon. But clearly, George wasn’t talking about the “no worries” definition of that Lion King reference.
“Mutatis mutandis?” Blaine moved closer when George growled his enjoyment of the Latin words. “Hmm…maybe you’re getting precisely quantum meruit.”
“No fair. I can’t be late. I’m the best man.” But George pulled him in for a hug anyway.
“But ultra posse nemo obligatur.”
“You asked for it.” George narrowed his eyes. “If my mass airflow sensor goes out before I get a chance to work on your crankshaft, don’t blame me.”
Blaine threw back his head and laughed. “Truce!”
George gave Blaine’s neck a nibble before letting go. “Rain check.” He picked up his tux. “Promise you’ll speak sweet legalese nothings in my ear when we get back.”
“Promitto.” So sue him—he had to get one more Latin word in just to see George’s eyes dilate.
I cast a side-eye peek at the guy who’d just slid onto the stool next to me at the bar, and the hope that briefly boosted my mood dropped swiftly away. He seemed a bit prissy, smoothing his hands over his suit. In other words, not likely to go for me, but it was slim pickins tonight, and he might be my last chance of getting laid.
“A Skinny Pirate, please,” the man requested.
Ben the bartender’s eyebrow shot up, but he kept his poker face. “Coming right up.”
I turned to give Mr. Prim and Proper a good look-see. He pointedly ignored me, turning to check out the clean-cut lookin’ yuppy-wannabe on the other side of him. I stifled a chuckle as the guy snubbed Mr. Starchy Pants.
My target’s suit looked pricey, not that I knew much about what suits cost, but I recognized well-fitting when I saw it. His hands didn’t look like they’d ever done a day’s hard labor in his life, and I’d have spewed my beer if I’d been mid-sip when I caught sight of his fingernails. I would bet my last paycheck they’d been professionally manicured. I’m not a total rube, I knew some men did that. I just hadn’t met one before, let alone considered hitting on him.
Ben put Mr. Swanky’s drink in front of him, and the man slapped some bills on the bar.
I knew the answer to my question, but figured it was as good an opening line as any. “Why’s that called a Skinny Pirate? Looks like rum and Coke to me.”
He sighed as if I was wasting the few precious seconds it would take to answer and swiveled on his seat to face me. Points for that, anyway. “Because it’s made with Captain Morgan rum and Diet Coke.”
He picked up his drink and spun on the stool, looking out over the room. He wasn’t going to find a hookup at any of the tables. They were all couples.
I turned on my seat and took a swig from my bottle of beer. “Not much hope out there. I’ve already scoped the place.”
Mr. Still-Hoping-for-Better-than-Me glanced at the guy on his other side.
“Preppy there’s got someone who’s going to be joining him.” I shrugged. “I already tried.”
The man heaved another sigh and looked me up and down, taking in my bald head, unkempt beard, and large, very hairy body, clothed in basic—but at least clean, if a bit wrinkly and weathered—blue jeans and a snug T-shirt.
I grinned. “Feelin’ desperate, are ya?”
He scowled. Fuck it. I might not end up getting laid, but I could at least have a little laugh at the expense of Mr. Straitlaced.
I waggled my eyebrows. “I showered and everything.”
Mr. ‘Captain Morgan Rum and Diet Coke’ crossed his arms, and his jaw tightened with a scowl. The man hadn’t earned the money to buy that fancy suit by being stupid—he knew I was laughing at him. He sucked in a deep breath and slowly blew it out, then took a sip of his Skinny Pirate. “What’s your name,” he asked. “Or should I just call you ‘King Kong’?”
I laughed. It was good to know the guy had a sense of humor and could take a joke. “That depends. You wanna be my Ann Darrow?”
“Blaine will do fine, thanks.” Not bad. I’d half expected something like Preston or Bentley, but it still fit him well enough. Kind of like my name fit me.
“George. My name’s George.”
Blaine put out a hand. “Pleased to meet you, George.” It looked like I was maybe gonna to get laid tonight after all. I took his hand in mine. It was warm and dry—always a plus when you’re hopin’ to have those hands on your naked body in the near future. “So what do you do? Mechanic?”
I smiled and looked at the traces of grease embedded in my fingernails. “Never can get it all off, no matter how much I scrub.”
“It’s honest work,” Blaine replied.
I leaned back and considered the guy. Maybe he wasn’t as snobby as I’d supposed. “It is. Hard, sweaty, and grubby.” I grinned and went for broke. “Kinda like good sex.”
Blaine’s eyes widened a bit, but I figured it was a good sign his jaw didn’t drop, so I pushed on.
“How ’bout you, Blaine? I don’t get the impression you work with your hands.” That probably deserved an understatement of the year award.
“I’m an attorney.”
“I was gonna guess either that or some kinda corporate raider.”
Blaine smiled. “Well, I’m the attorney for a corporate raider, so you got a pretty good read on me.”
“There now, you see? We’ve got two things in common. We’re both pretty astute observers.”
“That’s one thing. What’s the other?”
I tipped my head to the side. “We’re both horny gay men.” I grinned again. “And here I’d just complimented your powers of observation.”
Blaine laughed. “You got me there.”
“So the question is, what are we going to do about it?” I figured I’d put the ball in his court since I’d already made my intentions clear enough. I didn’t have to wait more than a couple heartbeats for his reply.
“I believe this is the point where one of us asks, ‘your place or mine’?” Blaine tossed back the rest of his drink and raised his eyebrows.
Hell yes, I was gonna get laid. My smile couldn’t have been any broader. “I cleaned my apartment and everything, too.”
Caesar shook off the cool ocean water as he trudged through the sand toward where his daughter Megan and her friend Rhonda sat under a beach umbrella, reading. He flopped on a towel and lay back with a forearm across his face.
Apparently, he hadn’t swum enough laps to the safety rope and back yet because his conversation with Raven last night pushed, once again, front and center. He sighed and squeezed his eyes shut. Would the man ever tell Caesar his real name or a phone number?
Raven gave off a simple closet-case vibe rather than that of a sleazy married man on the prowl for a little side-action. He was confident of that judgment.
“I look for you,” Raven had whispered last night when they lay sated in each other’s arms. For a moment, it had seemed like he might break through his self-imposed barrier, but he’d stopped short, keeping that closet door firmly closed. As encouraging as those words were, they weren’t enough. Keeping an eye out for each other at a particular bar wasn’t going to cut it long-term.
Much as Caesar had needed time to spread his wings after his divorce three years ago, he also recognized that deep down he wanted a committed relationship. He was a homebody at heart, and if he were forced to eventually decide between stability and Raven—
“I’m hungry,” Megan said. “Can we go to Red Robin for dinner?”
Caesar blinked and sat up. “Sure.” He patted his taut abs. “Yeah, I’m hungry, too.”
If nothing else, the activity would help him put Raven out of his mind for another week. Or two. Or three. Yeah, maybe it was time to turn his focus to someone else. The uncertainty of this relationship—if it could even be called that—was getting him down.
After gathering their stuff, he trailed after the girls as they headed down the beach toward the parking lot. Rhonda nudged Megan with an elbow and cocked her head toward a man lying on a towel with two children sitting nearby building a sand castle.
The girls whispered together for a moment, then Megan said, “Mr. Rhoads?”
Ah. Their history teacher this past year. Caesar stayed put while the girls circled around to face him.
Mr. Rhoads sat up. “Rhonda, Megan, how are you girls? Are you looking forward to high school this fall?”
Caesar snapped to attention at the sound of that voice. His perception had been skewed by the different surroundings, and the man’s lack of disguise—the spiked hair and guyliner he’d sported whenever Caesar had seen him at the bar—but Caesar recognized him now.
Warmth spread throughout his body, chasing away the melancholy that had so recently troubled him as Raven and the girls nattered on about the girls’ concerns about their upcoming freshman year of high school.
A quick glance confirmed a lack of wedding ring. Kids, though, so Raven was probably divorced, like himself. And a middle school teacher.
Between the young children, ex-wife, and job teaching children, it was easier to understand Raven’s caution, but still, there were laws in this state protecting him from being dismissed without cause, and his wife wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, either, if she tried to make his sexuality a custody issue.
Perhaps a little perspective and encouragement might be all that Raven needed. Somebody to talk it over with. Likely Raven was all alone in his closet without a sounding board. If nothing else, Caesar could now open a conversation and discover whether or not there was any hope of something real and open developing between them.
“We love the beach,” Rhonda told Raven. “Megan’s dad brought us here today.” She glanced at Caesar.
Raven stood and turned, putting out a hand to introduce himself. “Hello, I’m Ted Rhoads. Pleased to…” He froze with his mouth left hanging open when he finally focused on Caesar, and realization dawned.
A slow smile crept across Caesar’s face. After a brief expression of utter panic, a calmer, perhaps even mildly hopeful expression lit Raven’s—Ted’s—eyes.
Ted coughed and started again. “Hello, I’m Ted Rhoads. Pleased to meet you.”
Caesar took his proffered hand and shook it warmly. “I’m pleased to meet you, Ted. I’m Caesar Edwards, Megan’s father.” Pleased to finally and officially meet the real man.
Uses the prompt word (coffee) left in the comments of the previous week’s Flash Fiction Friday post, and 14 prompt words (build – office – furtive – approach – near – upbeat – receipt – open – undesirable – string – pen – note – smell – lackadaisical) from a random word generator.
Told from Eddie’s 3rd-person POV:
Eddie cast furtive glances down the halls of the fine arts building as he passed near the art department offices. The smell of coffee hung in the air, and an upbeat instrumental melody of mixed string instruments drifted out as he approached the open door to the studio where he was supposed to meet Trent.
Ever since posing for that nude photo shoot for his now-boyfriend’s project, he’d been reluctant to go anywhere near the department where the panel of instructors who’d passed judgment on the assignment might be hanging around, and—God forbid—recognize him. Trent knew it, too. He knew Eddie would come up with excuses if Trent asked to meet him anywhere in the building. He knew this from experience. That’s probably why he’d left a cryptic note written on the back of a receipt—so Eddie wouldn’t have the opportunity to come up with some pretext for not meeting him. He’d used that purple pen with ink that smelled fruity as if that would sweeten the deal. It hadn’t.
A woman walked briskly out of the room in question and did a double-take as she strode past. “Trent’s already in there. Go on in.” She turned the corner before Eddie had even registered she was talking to him.
Heat infused his face, and he stopped short of the door. He’d never met that woman before. How did she know he was meeting Trent? Had she seen—
“Eddie!” Trent appeared in the doorway, a huge smile on his face. “You made it!”
More voices drifted out of the room, so he could discount the notion that the woman had made a logical assumption based on Trent being the only one in there. “Yeah. You ready to go?”
Trent seemed confused as he scratched the side of his nose. “Go where?”
Laughter and a middle-aged rail-thin woman wafted out into the hall. “Ah, there you are, Trent.” She smiled in Eddie’s direction. “And I see your Eddie’s arrived. Come in and join the party.”
Party? Eddie’s eyes widened, but Trent took his hand, possibly sensing Eddie’s urge to run in the opposite direction. “The department’s having a little celebration. One of the professors is getting married.”
“I’m Celia Hall,” the woman continued. “Has Trent had the chance to explain my offer to you, yet?”
Oh, dear God. Did he want to know? “Offer?”
“I need a model for my sculpture class. I think you’d be perfect.”
Perfect? The way Trent looked at him, he’d come to accept he wasn’t exactly undesirable, but he was hardly flawless. Of course, artsy folks maybe wanted imperfections to make things interesting.
“Oh, uh, geez. I don’t know…”
“It pays twenty dollars per hour.”
Eddie’s eyebrows shot up. His gaze darted to Trent, then back to Professor Hall. He opened then closed his mouth. Twenty dollars per hour? He could really use that extra money. He had to at least consider it. “Clothes?”
She shook her head. “Nope.”
His cheeks puffed out as he slowly released a stream of air. Could he really do it? He hadn’t thought he could handle posing for just Trent, but in the end, he’d felt comfortable enough. Maybe it was all about the attitude. He couldn’t walk in there all red-faced and obviously mortified, but if he could cultivate a lackadaisical mien, he could maybe bluff his way through the experience.
She smiled, looking every bit like she knew she had him hooked. “Per hour.”
With a soft groan, he closed his eyes. When he reopened them, Trent winked. Bastard had no shame, whatsoever. Eddie’s “okay” sounded a bit whiney, but she didn’t seem put out by the tone.
“Wonderful. I’ll get your contact information from Trent and be in touch.”
Mission accomplished, she returned to the party.
How Trent managed to look so innocent standing there was a mystery. “You tricked me,” Eddie said, but the words lost some of their intended effect since he had trouble resisting a spontaneous grin in response to the thumb Trent was rubbing across his wrist.
“Aw, you’re too self-conscious. There was no reason for you to avoid showing your face in this building.” Trent leaned in to kiss his cheek. A delicious shiver rippled through him as Trent’s warm breath floated across his ear. “And, I’ll be sure to show you how much I appreciate you joining me here, later.”
Uses the prompt words moisturizer – camera – bikini that were left in the previous week’s comments, with additional inspiration from these two images:
Told from Eddie’s 3rd-person POV:
“Guess what it is,” Trent said.
Eddie fingered the present warily. Either Trent’s artistic skills behind a camera didn’t extend to gift-wrapping, or his corny sense of humor was shining through, because Eddie’s four-year-old cousin could have done a neater job of it. He gave the box a shake.
“Hmm, sounds like maybe a T-shirt?” Who knew what silly message would be emblazoned on it, though. Probably something along the lines of “I’m great in bed, I could sleep for days,” or “In my defense, I was left unsupervised.” Eddie choked back a laugh.
Trent didn’t hide his chuckle. “You’re thinking about what might be on it, aren’t you? Maybe it’s a Speedo for that spring break trip we’re planning next year.”
Eddie put the present back under the miniature tree and flopped onto the still-open sofa-bed. He didn’t even try to stifle his snort at that prospect. “Dude, you’ve seen me naked. Think of the extensive bikini wax I’d have to get to look respectable in one of those.”
The mattress springs groaned as Trent lay down opposite and lifted his cell phone for a couple’s selfie. “But think of the fun I could have oh-so-tenderly rubbing moisturizer into the itchy rash?”