Hey everyone. It's me. Sorry for not posting on Thursday of last week. Now that I've started college, it's hard to find time to write anymore. So I'm going to decrease the number of chapter I post a week to one. I wish I could write more, but it's impossible for me. I hope you all can understand the change.
I'm also proud to say that this is the tenth chapter of 'Could I Be...?' When I was still writing 'Am I...?' I never knew I would write a second book in the series that would be just as popular as the first. I need to thank you all for the support you've given me and my stories. Without you, I wouldn't be the writer I am today.
I also have some good news. I've decided to create a third book in the 'Am I...?' series. I've never heard of a series that has just two books, and writing this series has been so much fun that I'm going to write a third and final book in the 'Am I...?' universe. I don't know when I'll post it or when I'll even start writing it, but it's going to be after 'Could I Be...?' ends.
Thank you all again. Here's Chapter 10 of 'Could I Be...?'
Christmas and winter break goes by slowly and eventfully. I take Zane with me back home and Mom and Dad welcome him back into the Swanson household. Dad's a lot warmer this time around and the house accommodates to Zane immediately. Patch spends most of his time around Zane, which I find to be the cutest thing.
Travis and Brandon are taking well to Zane and find they like watching him draw. The four of us even have a pick up game in my backyard with some of our old teammates from our high school team. Zane shows that while he may be an art guy, he can play with the jocks. The game ended 1-0, with my team winning. Zane only allowed three hits.
The date for the art gala is fast approaching and I'm getting more and more nervous the closer we get to it. Zane doesn't know a thing about it and I intend to keep it that way. It's finally 2014 and I made a new year's resolution: be the best boyfriend I can be. That's a resolution I plan on following.
Zane and I head back to Stanford a few days after the start of the New Year. We fall back into our usual routines and classes start back up a day after we get back. Josh and The Cardinal made it to the BCS National Championship Game and faced the University of Florida Gators. With a final score of 14-13, The Cardinal clenched the title with a last minute eighty-seven-yard touchdown by Josh. He came back to school a hero with Leo under his arm.
It's January 20th and the art gala is tomorrow and I'm a nervous wreck, and my art isn't even on display! But, I'm ready for everything that's going to happen tomorrow. After finishing a late evening workout, I walk back into Florence Moore Hall and start to head back upstairs. "Eric, stop for a second."
I look to the D.A. office and see Charles stepping out. "What's up, Charles?" I ask.
"Two things: First, here." Charles hands an envelope to me and inside are two laminated tickets. "Those are your passes to get into the gala tomorrow. My ticket is paper, so your and Zane's tickets must mean you're VIP's. I'm going to kill Anthony when I get my hands on him...not giving me a VIP ticket..."
"Charles," I say, snapping him back to reality.
He shakes his head out. "Oh, right. Second, I want to thank you again for helping me let go of Jason. It was hard, but I think I'm starting to live without the regret I was feeling."
"That's great to hear, Charles."
"But I got some more good news: I talked to Jason."
My first shock of the new year is the head of my dorm telling me he talked to his son who's been dead for more than five years. "Excuse me?" I ask.
"Last night when I went to bed, Jason was in my dream, in his army fatigues. At first, I thought it was nothing more than my imagination, but I actually talked to him, heard him, hugged him. He was there. I know he was."
"Maybe he came down from Heaven just so he could talk to you."
"That's what he told me." Charles' slightly wrinkled face smiles. "Jason and I talked about a lot, mostly how much we had missed each other. I told him he won the Silver Star for what he did in Afghanistan and he told me that he didn't deserve a medal that anyone would've done. His humbleness hasn't changed at all.
"It felt so good just to see my boy, but to hug and talk to him? That's a moment I'll never forget for the rest of my life. Jason promised me he'd appear in my next dream, so I can't wait to get to sleep tonight. My boy may be gone, but I'm still lucky enough to see him every night."
"I'm happy for you, Charles. I hope you can tell Jason a little about me."
"I already have, Eric."
I smile and give Charles a pat on the shoulder as I head upstairs. Once I'm showered and dressed, I make my way next door to Zane and Leo's room and rap my knuckle on the stained wood. The door opens and standing in the doorway with his new pitch-black hair is Zane. "Hey, have a good workout?" he asks, kissing my chin.
"Pretty good," I say. "What've you been up to?"
"Not much. Just a little sketching, is all."
"So...do you have any plans tomorrow night?"
Zane smiles. "That depends. What do you have in mind?"
I reach into my back pocket and pull out the envelope Charles gave me and hand it to Zane. "I was thinking we could go out and celebrate," I say. "Happy early birthday."
Zane looks at me in surprise. "How did you know tomorrow was my birthday?"
"Charles told me about it. Go ahead and open it." Zane slides his finger under the flap and rips the envelope open. He slides the contents of the envelope into his hand and the two laminated tickets slide out of the envelope. "I hope you like it."
Zane stares at the tickets in what looks to be disbelief. "T-This is..." he starts. "The San Francisco Art Gala! I've wanted to go to this since I was a kid, but the tickets were always insanely expensive! How the hell did you get these?"
I smile at my excited boyfriend. "Charles has a friend who's working at the gala and I managed to get some tickets from him at a discounted price," I lie. "So, you and I are going to the gala tomorrow night."
Zane jumps up and hooks his arms around my neck. "Thank you so much, Eric! This is the greatest gift anyone has ever given me!" He plants a kiss right on my lips. "I love you so much."
"I love you too. I hope I can give you the best birthday you've ever had tomorrow."
With another kiss, I head back to my dorm room and shut the door behind me. Josh smiles at me once I close the door. "Phase 1 complete?" he asks.
"Phase 1 complete," I smile back. "Phase 2 starts tomorrow morning."
After a good night of sleep, I wake up the next morning at 7:00, alert and ready for the day ahead. With a quick shower and some clean clothes, I slip on some shoes and grab my violin, Josh laughing to himself as I leave the room. I head next door and quietly slip in Leo and Zane's room, Leo already awake and smiling as I walk in.
Zane's still asleep and he looks so peaceful, but not for long. I look to Leo, who nods and leaves the room. I step to the side of Zane's bed and hold my bow to the violin strings. While I may be trained in classical violin pieces, over the years, I learned a good fiddle or two, and they're all loud and obnoxious.
My bow and fingers dance over the strings, filling the room with high-pitched music. Zane shoots off his bed, wide awake, looking like he woke up from a nightmare. He looks over and sees me grinning down at him and smiles himself. My fiddle ends and I rest my violin and bow by my sides. "And a good morning to you too," Zane says.
"Morning, birthday boy," I reply. "Today, we're going to do whatever you want. Today's your day, and we'll spend it how you want it. Now, what do you want to do first?"
"What I want is to go back to sleep, but I'm afraid you'll just play your violin again. How about some breakfast?"
"Your wish is my command. I'll wait until after you're showered and dressed."
Zane crawls out of his bed and gives me a good morning kiss before heading to the bathroom. I walk back to my room and find Josh and Leo sitting on Josh's bed. "We could hear you playing from here," Leo says.
"That was the plan," I say. "You guys know what to do, right?"
"Yup," Josh says. "We'll get those two suits you rented and bring them back here. You just go out and spend the whole day with Zane. Don't worry about a thing. Everything's going to go great. We'll see you tonight at the gala."
"Thanks, guys," I say. "You're going to be blown away when you see the artwork Zane's made. I really hope he likes what I did for him."
"He won't like it at all," Leo says. "He'll love it."
I smile and walk back out into the hallway after a few minutes, where Zane is coming out of the bathroom in a towel. "Are Josh and Leo coming to breakfast with us?" he asks.
"No, they have some things they need to get done today," I say. "So it looks like you're stuck with me."
"Lucky me," Zane says with a grin.
He walks into his bedroom and comes out a few minutes later dressed and ready. Zane and I head into town, where we find a diner and we head in. Once we order our food, I reach into my back pocket and pull out Zane's second present and hand it to him. "Happy birthday," I say. "Again."
Zane looks down at my hand and sees the brand new cell phone I bought for him. "You bought me a phone?" he asks.
"You told me that you threw your old one away, so I bought you a new one. So far, there's only one number in it: mine. You can call me at any time, day or night, and if you need me, I'll rush to you, no matter where you are."
He smiles and leans across the table and kisses me. "Thank you, Eric. I really appreciate this. I've been wanting to try and get a cell phone, but they're all really expensive now and I can't afford to make any unnecessary payments."
I sigh to myself. "Your tuition?"
Zane nods dismally. "I got my first tuition bill in the mail about a month ago. It was more than $25,000, which I couldn't pay back immediately. So because of it, I had to use my loan money to pay off the bill. I'm going to owe over $200,000 in loans after I finish college, but if the student aid department hears that I won't be able to pay the loans off, they'll kick me out of Stanford."
My heart pangs and my stomach falls. "You'll be forced to leave?"
Zane nods again. "I don't want to leave Stanford. This is the first place I've been happy at in years. If I'm kicked out of school, it'll crush me..."
I reach over and place my hand over Zane's. "Zane, if you need any help at all paying off your loans, just ask me. I'll help you to figure out a way to pay them off. I'll pay them off if I have to. If it's for you, I'll do anything."
Zane smiles and places his second hand over mine. "Thank you, Eric. I love you."
"And I love you."
After a very satisfying breakfast of eggs and bacon for me and six pancakes, an order of French toast, hash browns, grits, eight sausages, and a bowl of fruit for Zane (yeah, it's more amazing to see than to hear about), he and I continue our day together, doing whatever it is Zane wants to do.
We stop in at his work place and say a quick hello to Blake, Cassadee, Courtney, Mitchell (one of the tattoo artists), Kendra (another tattoo artist), and Alec (the receptionist on Zane's days off). Zane and I watch Blake tattoo a man's back for a little while, which is actually pretty cool to see. I didn't watch my own tattoo get done (I was wincing the whole time), so it's actually pretty cool to see what it actually looks like.
After the tattoo shop, we walk over to a local park and rent a baseball and two mitts. For about an hour, Zane and I pass the morning by playing catch. But the game of catch turns more into a game of throwing the ball at each other as hard as we could. No one was hurt and it was all in good fun.
We get some lunch in the early afternoon and spend about an hour just talking and laughing with one another. As the day goes by, I keep glancing at my watch, seeing the time we have until we need to head back to campus and get ready for the gala. I'm glad Zane doesn't notice me looking and seems to be enjoying his birthday.
Finally, at about 5:45, after a long walk around town, Zane and I head back to campus. We're both a bit tired after such a long day, but I help to keep Zane from just falling into his bed, asleep. "C'mon," I say, dragging Zane down the hallway to our rooms. "We need to get ready for tonight."
"Awww, but I want to take just a little nap..." Zane protests.
"If you take a nap, I'll get my violin again..."
Zane springs to attention. "I'm awake!"
I smile and we make it back to our rooms. "The gala is formal wear, so we'll need to dress nice for tonight."
"But I don't have a suit or a tux or anything like that."
"I do." I unlock the door to Josh's and my dorm room and lead Zane inside. I open up my closet and I see the two suits I rented for tonight and pull them out and reveal them to Zane. "This one's yours."
I hand Zane the smaller of the two suits and he just gawks at them before smiling. "You've prepared for everything for everything, haven't you?" he asks.
"Only for tonight."
Zane smiles again and gives me a kiss. "I need to take a quick shower before I put this on," he tells me. "But I need to check a few things before I do that. I'll meet you back in here in about forty-five minutes?"
"Sounds good," I say.
Zane leaves the room with his suit and I undress and wrap a towel around my waist. I walk across the hall to the bathroom and what I see makes my stomach drop. Standing in front of every single mirror are my floor mates, all of them wearing nice suits, tuxes, and dresses and putting the finishing touches on their outfits.
They all hear me walk in. "Hey, Eric," says Victor, a guy who lives about six doors down from mine. "You about to get ready?"
"Y-Yeah," I say. "What the hell are you all doing here?"
"Getting ready for the art gala," says Stephanie, a girl who lives three doors away from me. "We heard about it through the grapevine and are coming there to support Zane. We're taking a bus there together."
"I understand that and I really appreciate it," I say. "But what Zane doesn't know is that a lot of people from school are coming to the gala to support him. He doesn't even know his art is on display!"
Everyone turns toward me, but I could care less that all I'm wearing is a towel. "What do you mean?" asks Gavin, a guy who lives about nine rooms away from me.
"I mean that this is supposed to be a huge surprise for Zane! And if he sees all of you, he'll know something's up! He's going to come in here any minute!"
Everyone exchanges looks for a second. "Guys!" shouts Trish, a girl who lives two doors down from mine. "Finish everything you're doing and hide back in your rooms!"
My dorm mates look back to their mirrors and I watch as they all with amazing dexterity and speed finish up. Razor blades run over the surfaces of skin, mascara and lipstick apply to faces, hair gel sticks strands of hair up and the zips of dresses being zipped up echo through the bathroom.
Cologne and perfume fills the air and actually makes me a bit dizzy. Everyone grabs their things and rush out of the bathroom, wishing me luck. I glance out and see Zane's door is still closed and everyone makes it back to their rooms as Zane steps out of his room in his towel. "I thought you'd be in the shower by now," he says.
"U-Uh, there's a big cloud of perfume and cologne in there and I'm waiting a minute for it to dissipate."
"Oh, okay. Thanks for the warning. Must be some party going on tonight."
I smile and glance up and down the hall. I love this dorm...
After a nice shower, I walk back to my room while Zane's finishing up in the bathroom. I start to slip on my suit and find that it fits me perfectly. Plus, it feels really good to wear nice clothes for the first time in a while. Knowing it's formal, I leave my cap on my bed and decide to gel my hair a bit, swopping it to my right and keeping it firmly in place.
As I'm slipping my black suit jacket over my white dress shirt and black tie, I hear a knock at the door. I button the top button on my jacket and walk over to the door and open it. Zane's standing in the hallway, fully dressed in his dark grey suit, wearing a black dress shirt underneath with a light grey tie.
His hair is standing up in a similar fashion to mine, except Zane's swooping it to the left. Either way, he looks fantastic. "Wow..." I say, grinning from ear to ear.
"You look amazing," Zane says.
"I was just about to tell you the same thing."
I lead Zane into my room and I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. As Zane looks at himself in my mirror, I grab my phone and look at the screen. On there sits two messages, the first one from Josh.
'Hey, Eric. Leo and I are here at the gala. Just so you know, this place is fucking amazing. There must be at least a thousand kinds from school here, and the gala doesn't even start for another forty-five minutes! Zane's going to freak out. We'll see you soon!'
Wow, that many? That's pretty awesome. The second text is from Anthony.
'Hey, Eric. Just letting you know I arranged a car to pick you and Zane and to bring you to the gala. It should be arriving there any minute. Charles is already here and he's complaining that the finger sandwiches are too small. They're called finger sandwiches for a reason! Anyway, see you and Zane in a little while.'
Anthony got us a fucking car? Well...I'm not complaining. "You ready to go?" Zane asks me.
"Uh...yeah," I reply. "Looks like our transportation is waiting downstairs."
Zane and I walk out of the room, me grabbing the tickets on the way out, and head to the ground floor and walk outside. Sitting on the curb is a black, sleek Chrysler 300. Standing at the backseat door is a man wearing an impeccable black suit, holding the door open. "Mr. Quinn and Mr. Swanson, I presume?" the man asks.
Zane and I both nod, dumbfounded by the car. The man gestures to the open door. "If you may please step into the car, we will be headed off to the San Francisco Art Gala."
We carefully walk over to the car and climb into the backseat, the suited man closing it behind us. He gets into the front of the car a few seconds later and ignites the engine. "Um...Mr.?" Zane starts asking.
"Call me Kevin, if you like," the suited man replies.
"Okay, Kevin. Did Eric here arrange this?"
Kevin glances in the rear view mirror and looks at me and quickly winks. "You could say that," he says.
Zane looks over at me and smiles. "You're amazing, you know that?"
I smile back at him and give him a light kiss. "Get ready to be even more amazed when we get there."
Zane looks a bit lost for a second, but kisses me again anyway. Once we're buckled in, Kevin shifts into drive and we're off to San Francisco.
After a bit of traffic, we drive into the city and gaze at the sights as we pass them. As we swerve through the streets, Kevin's voice calls back to us. "We'll be arriving at the gala momentarily."
I look at Zane and see he's squirming in his seat. "You okay?" I ask him, placing my hand on his shoulder. "You look like you're about to piss your pants."
"Yeah...I'm okay," he says. "I'm just really excited for tonight. I've never been to an art showing this big before. This is turning out to be the best birthday I've ever had."
I smile and kiss the side of his head. "I'm glad you've had so much fun today. I just hope you like the last surprise I have for tonight."
Zane looks up at me with eyebrows raised. "What surprise?"
"We've arrived at the gala," Kevin tells us.
We look out the window on Zane's side of the car and through the window, a long red carpet expends up large stone steps and leads to a large light grey stone building, columns spawning on both sides. Large banners fall from both sides of the stone arch front, 'San Francisco Art Gala' in large white cursive writing descends to the bottom of both banners.
To top it off, Rodin's The Thinker sits in all his glory at the top of the steps. Zane and I stare in amazement at the display of the entrance. The door on Zane's side of the car opens and Kevin's face appears in the door. "Welcome to the venue for the gala: the California Palace of the Legion of Honor."
Zane and I crawl out of the car and see that other people are walking up into the museum. I hold my arm out for Zane. "Shall we?" I ask with a smile.
He grins back at me and takes my arm and I lead him up the red carpet, taking a second to gaze at The Thinker when we get to the top. Zane and I walk inside and I can't believe the turnout. There must be thousands of people here! A large man in a black suit approaches the two of us, a scanner in his hand. "Tickets please," he says.
I pull both the tickets out of my pocket and hand them to the man, who scans them both. "Please come with me," he says.
Zane and I exchange a glance, but choose to follow them man, seeing as he's about four inches taller than me. He leads us through the large crowd of people and standing in the middle of the room is Anthony. The man walks us over to him. "Sir," the man says to Anthony. "The main artist and his guest have arrived."
Anthony looks over and sees me standing with Zane. "There's the man of the hour!" he says smiling down at Zane.
Zane looks at me, very confused. "What does he mean 'man of the hour'?"
"Zane," I say, "this is Anthony Kline. He's the main endorser for the gala and put this all together. He's calling you the man of the hour because just take a look at all the paintings around you. You'll see why."
He looks around the room and sees the paintings on the walls. I watch as Zane's face slowly shifts from confusion to pure amazement and shock. Zane's paintings are everywhere in here, and dozens of people are standing in front of them with admiration and smiles on their faces.
Anthony hands both of us a small pamphlet and Zane and I both look down at the front.
'2014 San Francisco Art Gala. Featured Artist: Zane Quinn.'
Zane takes the pamphlet and looks up at me, his eyes shiny. "Happy birthday," I say with a grin.
He jumps up and hooks his arms around my neck and I can hear him crying softly in my shoulder. "Y-You did not do all of this for me..." he quietly says.
I hug Zane tightly. "I had some help, but this is all for you, Zane. You deserve all the recognition and praise you're going to get tonight."
He lifts his head out of my neck and I see two streams of tears falling from his eyes, but a bright smile overpowers them. "I love you so fucking much, Eric..."
I press my lips to Zane's. "I love you too, Zane."
"There he is!"
Zane and I look over and see a horde of Stanford students pushing their way through the crowd. I set Zane down and he's swiftly scooped up a second later by pairs of arms. Josh and Leo are standing in the mix of Zane's classmates, some of our floor mates, Josh's football teammates, and dozens, if not hundreds of other students I've never even seen before.
Zane looks to be on cloud nine as person after person walks up to him and congratulates him for tonight. "You did good, Eric."
I look to my right and see Charles standing in a nice suit and a calm look on his face. "Thanks, Charles. Are you here alone tonight?"
"My wife, Susan, is out of town visiting her sister. But I'm not alone."
Charles gestures to his right and standing next to him is a handsome young man of about my height in formal army attire, complete with a black blazer, navy blue pants, black hat with highlights of gold and silver, and medal after medal is adorned on his chest. The man looks over at me and smiles. "So you're the Eric Pop speaks so highly of."
Pop? Remembering what Charles said a month ago, my mouth drops open. "You're not..." I start.
"He is," Charles says with a grin. "Eric, this is my son, Jason."
I take a second to rub my eyes and see that Jason is still there. Jason laughs to himself. "You're wondering how I'm here, aren't you?" I nod at the ghost of Charles' son. "I've learned how to come down from Heaven and can visit my old man whenever I want without any complications. So you might be seeing a lot more of me in the future."
"C-Can anyone else see you?" I ask.
Jason shakes his head. "I can choose whoever wants to see me. I want my dad and you to see me here, so here I am."
Charles smiles brightly at his son. "I'm so happy that I can see him that I can't even put it into words. It's almost been six years since I last heard of my son. Having him here is a blessing and I plan on taking full advantage of it. So let me be alone with my boy, Eric. Go and support your boyfriend."
I smile and look at Jason. "It was nice to finally meet you."
He smiles back and holds out his hand. "Thanks for everything you've done to help my pop."
I stare at the hand for a second before slowly taking it, and I feel an actual hand there. It's warm and it makes me feel comforted. I take my hand back and walk over to my man of the hour.
For the next hour and a half, I walk around the gala with Zane, taking in every piece of art there is, and spending a little extra time admiring Zane's artwork. Everyone seems to have taken an interest in the unknown artist Zane Quinn, crowds of people surrounding every piece of Zane's art. I'm so proud of him that I can't even describe it.
There must be at least four thousand people here, at least a quarter of them Stanford students and faculty. Many of them are seeing Zane's artwork for the very first time. And when they see it, their faces go blank within a second. Zane and I watch this happen for about twenty minutes and it's hilarious to see.
At around 9:00, there's the low hum of a microphone and Zane and I see Anthony standing at the front of the room with a microphone to his mouth. "Thank you everyone for coming out here tonight," he says. "This is the largest turnout the San Francisco Art Gala has had in years and I thank you for taking time to come out and see all of these wonderful artists here tonight.
"In five minutes, we will be starting the auction. We will be auctioning off all of the pieces here tonight. If you would like to partake in the auction, or would simply like to watch, it is being held in the main courtyard. Pieces will start being removed in order of the artists first name, so if there's an artist you haven't seen yet, do see their wonderful artwork before it's gone. Thank you."
Almost instantly, everyone starts walking out toward the courtyard, taking one last look at the artwork on display before heading out. "Want to watch the auction, Mr. Artist?" I ask Zane.
"It sounds like fun," he says.
He takes my arm and we walk out to the courtyard. The stone courtyard is gigantic, enough to fit everyone at the gala, and even a few thousand more. Seats are lined perfectly in front of a stage and Zane and I take two seats in the middle of the audience. Josh and Leo manage to grab two seats next to us. "This has been really fun," says Leo.
"The art here is really fantastic," says Josh. "I wish I would be able to buy some of the stuff here."
"Maybe you can get something for cheap," I say.
"Not likely," says Zane. "People can pay top dollar for art they really like, even in the tens of thousands."
All that money for a painting? I'll never understand the world of art. Anthony walks up onto the stage and behind a podium, microphone in hand. "We will now begin the auction. All pieces of art will start off at a base of $100, the price will go up based on your bids. You may call out whatever number you may like, as long as you can pay it if you win the piece."
There's a small chuckle through the audience. "Without further ado," Anthony says, "let's get started."
For the next two hours, piece after piece of art is auctioned off. So far, the highest bid has been $4,200. The piece of art was really good. I would've bought it had the bid not risen so fast. The latest piece of art is carried off the stage, a price of $1,300 on its head, and Anthony puts the microphone to his mouth. "We have one final artist that we're auctioning off tonight," he says.
I notice that there are a lot of people still here and many of them are intently focused on the stage. "Our featured artist, Zane Quinn, has fifty-five pieces being auctioned off tonight. We'll start off with this one." A man carries one of Zane's canvases onto the stage and sets it down on a stand. "We'll start off the bidding at $100."
Wait, what?! Did someone just raise the bid up $1,900? I look at Zane and see he looks as surprised as I do. "$2,500!"
The number keep rising and rising, and this is just the first piece! After another minute or two, the yells start to wind down. "Going once," Anthony says. "Going twice. Sold, for $5,600 to the woman in the beautiful white dress in the eighth row."
The audience applauds for the woman, but I applaud Zane for having created such a wonderful piece. "I don't get it," Zane quietly says. "I drew that sketch in two hours, and it was just sold for almost six grand..."
I wrap my arm around Zane's shoulder and kiss the side of his head. "It's your gift, Zane. You made that sketch come to life and people saw the heart and soul you put in it. They love your artwork, and they love you."
Zane smiles and gives me a light kiss. "Thank you for all of this, Eric. I only wish I could do something like this for you one day."
I smile back at him and return his kiss. For the next hour, Zane, Josh, Leo, and I listen as the audience around us bids on Zane's artwork. The price never drops below $5,000, and it never goes over $9,000. Zane looks amazed every time one of his pieces of auctioned off, and every time a canvas is carried off the stage, he smiles.
Another pieces is carried off the stage. "We're down to our final art piece for the night," Anthony says. "If you have not bid yet, get your checkbooks ready because you're going to want this piece."
The final art piece is carried onto the stage and I see it's Zane's Heaven and Hell piece that he drew a month ago. The canvas is set on the stand and before Anthony can even speak, a voice cries out. "$10,000!"
Zane looks like he's going to pass out at the number. "$15,000!"
Just like the pieces before it, the bid for the sketch climbs and climbs. It goes on for what seems like hours until it finally starts to ease. "Going once," Anthony says with a grin. "Going twice. Sold! This has been the highest selling price for a piece in this art gala's history! I'd like to thank Zane Quinn for creating this $76,000 piece and hope he continues to draw into the future.
"This brings the 2014 San Francisco Art Gala to an end. Thank you all for coming out tonight and I hope you all come out next year."
Everyone rises out of their seats and starts to leave. As I'm standing up, I feel two tattooed arms encircle me. "Thank you so much for tonight," Zane says. "This really has been the best birthday I've ever had."
I hug Zane back and kiss the top of his head. "You're welcome," I say. "I'm just glad I made you so happy."
"May I cut in?" Zane and I separate and see Anthony standing next to us, a kind smile on his face. "I'd really like to thank you for this, Zane. The gala has never been as popular as it was tonight, and the bidding prices were some of the highest we've ever had. Thank you for creating some of the most beautiful art I've seen in years."
Anthony holds out his hand and Zane takes it. "I owe this all to Eric," says Zane. "Had he not managed to find you, those pieces I drew would be in a trash heap somewhere."
"I can't take credit for any of this," I say. "Zane's the one who drew all those pieces. This is his night, not mine."
Zane stands on his toes and gives me a kiss, making Anthony smile. "Oh!" he says. "I almost forgot!" Anthony reaches inside his jacket pocket ad pulls out a small, rectangle shaped piece of paper and hands it to Zane. "That's the money you made from all of your painting being sold tonight. Use that to pay off those loans."
Zane and I look down at the check and can't believe our eyes. The check is made out to Zane and he gets to keep every penny of it. All $471,400 of it is his. Without warning, tears fall from Zane's eyes and he holds the check close to his chest. "I-I can stay at Stanford," he quietly sobs. He presses his face into my shoulder. "I can stay with you, Eric."
I hug Zane tightly as his cries tears of joy into my suit. "I'm so happy for you, Zane," I say.
"Your artwork was wonderful," says Anthony. He reaches inside his jacket pocket and pulls out a small business card and hands it to Zane. "If you ever want to sell some of your future pieces, give me a call."
Zane wipes his eyes and smiles at Anthony. "Thank you," he says.
"Kevin should be waiting for you out front to take you back to campus," Anthony tells us. "Thank you Zane for creating your masterpieces. And thank you Eric for getting Charles to call me and for showing me Zane's artwork."
"Thank you for tonight, Anthony," I say. "I hope we can see you at next year's gala."
Anthony smiles and gives both Zane and I a firm handshake. As Zane and I leave, I see Charles standing off to the side of the room talking with Jason. People are giving him odd glances, so they probably assume Charles is a crazy old man that's talking to the air. Many of the Stanford students that came to the gala have left, but the few remaining praise Zane's art one more time before he and I head out.
Kevin drives me and Zane back to campus and we arrive a little before midnight. As I reach for my wallet to tip Kevin for driving us, he declines. "Anthony already paid me a $2,000 tip for tonight to go with my usual pay, so tipping me isn't necessary."
Zane and I thank Kevin and head into Florence Moore Hall and ride up to the fourth floor. As we get back to our rooms, I see a sticky note on my door, courtesy of Josh.
'Hey, guys. Leo and I are staying out for a little while longer. If you two want to stay in the same room, take this note off and place it in front of the room you two are in. See you tomorrow. Happy birthday, Zane. Leo and I will give you your gift tomorrow. -Josh and Leo.'
"I think I want to spend the night with you," Zane tells me.
"If it's what the birthday boy desires, I'm going to grant his every wish," I say.
Zane smiles and he takes the note off Josh's and my room and places it in front of his and Leo's room. He unlocks his door and he and I walk in. I turn on the light and close the door behind me. Within a second of me closing the door, a body presses against me and a warm mouth clamps over mine.
I quickly ease into the kiss and wrap my arms around Zane's body. His tongue quickly slips into my mouth and our taste buds savor each other's mouth. Zane pulls away after a minute and a small thin line of saliva connects our two bottom lips. "Come to bed with me?" he asks.
"I'd love to."
Zane grabs the jacket of my suit and roughly pulls me to his mouth again. I feel him slip the jacket off my shoulder and arms and he carelessly tosses it to the floor. "The jacket will wrinkle," I say between kisses.
"Just the fuck up and kiss me."
Granting his wish, I force my tongue past Zane's lips and shove it down his throat. Without our lips every parting, Zane and I undress each other blindly. I feel piece after piece of clothing fall off my body and land in a heap on the floor. Even without opening my eyes, I know the layout of Zane's body, from his chest, to his legs, everything.
I feel Zane's pants fall to his ankles and I finally part from him after minutes of nonstop kissing. His face is flushed a dark red and the only things that remain on his are his socks and underwear, and I'm in the same style of dress as him. Zane takes my hand and leads me to his bed, both of us collapsing into the mattress.
Zane wraps his arms tightly around my neck and pulls me to his lips one more time. He and I manage to kick our socks off and they fly to the floor. As Zane kisses me, I grab him and flip us both over, Zane on top of me. I pull away for a second and look through the dim light into his black and blue eyes. "You're in charge tonight," I breathe out. "What do you want to do?"
His eyes sparkle with love and excitement as he looks down at me. "Can I make love to you?" he asks.
I smile up at Zane and cup his left cheek. "Yes..."
He smiles back and puts his lips back in their rightful place. As he kisses me, Zane's curious hands explore my body, running over every inch of skin, every patch of hair, every ounce of muscle, he touches. With every passing second, the firmness in both of our underwear gets harder and the bulges get larger.
I feel two warm hands rest over my chest and ten fingertips press into my skin, the small shocks returning and warming my whole body. Quiet moans escape my lips as callused fingers dig into my pecs, delicately touching the hairs that cover my chest. Zane suddenly bends over the side of the bed. "What're you doing?" I ask.
He comes up a second later with a bottle in his hand. "Getting this."
I get a closer look at the label on the bottle. "Lubra Oil? What's that?"
"It's both lube and massage oil. Leo gave it to me a while ago and he said it feels amazing on skin." He pops the top and pours a generous amount into his hand and sets the bottle by his side. He straddles my waist and looks down at me with a loving smile. "I think you're going to like this."
His lube covered hand presses against my chest and my body jerks from the chill of the oil. But Zane rubs it onto my skin and it quickly warms up. Zane was right. This really does feel good. My skin feel like it's tingling as Zane rubs the oil over my body, causing my hairs to stand on end and goose bumps to break out all over me.
Zane is sure not to miss an inch on me. From my chest, to my stomach, my arms, my shoulders, my legs and feet are covered with the massage oil by the time he's finished and I feel like my body's both on fire and like it's nothing but jelly from Zane delicately digging his fingers into every muscle.
His hands find the waistband of my underwear and he grips the sides and slowly and sensually slides them off my hips and down my legs. My cock pops out of its confines and slaps against my stomach and Zane tugs my boxer-briefs off and tosses them to the floor. His hands quickly find my cock and he gives my shaft a firm squeeze.
As he very slowly jerks me, my hands try to find purchase somewhere as pleasure starts to take me over. "Zane..." I breathe out.
"Feel good?" he asks.
"Fucking amazing..." My eyes roll in the back of my head as Zane continues to slowly jerk me. All of a sudden, something warm and wet slides up and down my shaft. I open my eyes a bit and see Zane running his tongue over my lubed up shaft. "Can you eat that?"
He looks up at me and gestures to the bottle. "The lube is edible too. It tastes like strawberries."
Zane gets back to working my hard cock and I let him do whatever he wants to me. With one hand on my cock, the other softly massages my nut sac, gently squeezing both of my testicles. The minutes pass and after what feels like an eternity of waiting, I feel the tip of my cock slowly enter Zane's awaiting mouth.
Ecstasy shoots through me as the flood gates bursts. My muscles all flex at the sensation of Zane sucking me off and my back lifts off the bed, causing more of my cock to slide into Zane. I manage to see that Zane has every inch of my cock in his mouth and he doesn't even look like he's trying.
My body tingles with excitement and pleasure, but something tells me that it isn't enough. My hands slowly caress my body, finding what could make me feel even more wonderful. My sides? No. My stomach? Not there. Zane's head? I don't think that would work for either of us.
My hand barely swipes across my chest when millions of tiny jolts shoot up my spine. Was that it? I press my fingers into my pecs and the feeling comes back. There's a loud pop and I see Zane smiling up at me. "Looks like you found what turns you on," he says.
"My chest?" I ask.
"Leo told me that there are plenty of things that turn a guy on. Feet, hands, socks, tickling. But some guys get even more pleasure from just a simple touch of the chest when they're highly sexualized."
Zane's lips find my dick again and the pleasure comes back. Before I know it, my hands are exploring my chest, rubbing over uncharted territory. I always used to think that my dick was the only thing that could get me off. I never knew that my chest hairs could be that sensitive to touch, or that my nipples could get so hard.
Feeling ambitious, I tweak my left nipple between my two fingers and feel a powerful wave go from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Combining that with Zane giving me the most awesome blowjob I've ever felt and I've got a winning combination that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
Zane suddenly slides off my iron hard cock and I feel his mouth move further down my body. His nose grazes my nut sac and without warning, something grabs both my ankles and pushes them over my head. Before I can question Zane about what he's doing, I feel something warm lapping at my hole.
Zane's rimming me. I've heard about rimming from Josh before and always wondered how having someone lick your ass could feel good, or how you could put up with the taste for that matter, but this actually feels great. The feeling of Zane's tongue forcing it's way in and out of me causes pre-cum to pour out of my cock and audible moans of pleasure to fill the room.
My body involuntarily closes and opens for Zane, and he takes every chance he can get to slide his tongue into my open ass. I feel Zane's mouth leave my crack and he looks down at me. "Ready?" he asks.
"For...what?" I breathe out.
Zane grabs the bottle of lube and pours some more into his hand, making sure he slicks up his entire hand. "I'm going to start to open you up," he tells me.
Fear races through my head and I feel cold sweat break out on my forehead. I feel my body start to shake a little from what's going to come next. My muscles start to tense up and I al of a sudden cant move an inch. "Z-Zane..." is all I can make out.
"Hey, hey, it's okay..." Zane leans over me and gives me a tender, loving kiss and rests his chest on mine. "If you don't feel ready for it, I can let you make love to me and we can wait until you're ready."
All of a sudden, my body starts to relax and I hook my arms around Zane's neck and pull him close to me. "N-No," I say. "No, it's okay. This is your day and you want to make love to me. You can do whatever you want to me. If it's you, Zane, I trust you."
Zane smiles at me and I smile back. He gives me one more kiss before I release him and he goes back to my awaiting butt. He slicks his hand up again and positions one finger at me hole. "There's going to be some pressure, but I'll go slow," he tells me.
I nod and hold my legs up for him. The tip of Zane's finger pushes against my opening and slowly slides into me. I grit my teeth at the new feeling. It doesn't hurt too much, mostly feels weird. Zane slides more of his finger into me and I feel the tip it a single spot in me and my body arches off the bed.
What the fuck was that? My body slowly comes back down onto the bed and I look down at Zane. "W-Was that...?" I start to ask.
He nods and smiles. "That was your prostate. I know all about it and how to stimulate it well thanks to Josh and Leo. Ready for me to start moving?"
I nod again and Zane slowly slides his finger out of me. Just as I feel he's about to pull out, he forces his way back into me, the tip hitting the exact same spot and the shock of euphoria comes back. "M-More..." I beg. "Do it more..."
Zane obliges and pulls out and pushes back in at a steady rhythm. Every time he pulls out and goes back into me, the sharp jolt returns, and I'm loving every second of it. I feel something else at my opening as it slowly pushes into me. "That's two," Zane says.
He keeps fingering my asshole and I keep begging for more of it. Four months ago, had you told me I'd be in bed with the world's sexiest guy, begging for him to finger fuck me with my cock rock hard oozing pre-cum, I'd probably would've punched you on the spot. Now, there's nothing I can't myself doing besides this with the guy I love more than anything.
After a few more minutes, Zane pushes a third finger into me. "And three," he says.
"I-It's not enough..." I say.
Zane stops and I look down at him and see he's staring at me with a blank face. "Huh?"
"I want more..."
Zane grins evilly and looks up at me. "What is it you want, baby?" he coos.
I swallow hard and look through my pleasure-dazed eyes at my boyfriend. "Please...stick your hard cock in me. Fuck me until I can't walk. Just please...make love to me..."
Zane smiles, leans up and gives me a deep kiss. He pulls away and pours a generous amount of lube onto his hard, throbbing cock. "If it hurts, just say so and I'll stop," he tells me.
I nod for the third time and Zane positions his cock at my awaiting hole. He slowly starts to push it against my opening and as I feel myself opening up, I bite my tongue to keep from screaming in pain. Zane keeps pushing into me and the pain starts to get worse and worse. "S-Stop!" I yell.
Zane stops completely and looks down at my pain-filled face that's gasping for air. "Just...give me a minute," I say.
"Take all the time you need."
I breathe in deeply and slowly and think back to what Josh told me about taking another guy up the ass.
'You need to relax your anal muscles completely so you don't hurt yourself when you're having sex. Relax all the muscles in your lower body for a little while so you can become adjusted to the feeling of having another guy inside of you. It may take a few minutes, but it's well worth the wait.'
I take in another deep breath and start to relax my lower body muscles. My toes, my feet, my calves, my quads, my butt cheeks, and finally my anal muscles. I look back at Zane and nod. "Go."
He slowly moves millimeter by millimeter into me, but it isn't necessary anymore. The pain is completely gone. I accept Zane's cock as it enters me and I feel the small bush of his pubic hair brush again my ass. "I'm in..." he quietly says. "How do you feel?"
"Um...pretty full. But...I kind of like how it feels."
Zane smiles down at me and I can't help but smile back. "Ready for me to move?"
"Make love to me..."
Zane slowly starts to pull out of me and I stay completely relaxed, no pain as he leaves. Just as I think he's about to pull out, Zane shoves his hard cock back into me, making me scream. "Are you okay?!" Zane asks, concerned.
I feel myself giggle despite what's going on. "I can see why Josh likes this so much. That felt...fucking...just fucking. I can't describe it..."
Zane leans over me and I rest my legs back down on the bed. He falls perfectly into my chest and I wrap my arms around him and hold him tight. "Can I go harder?" he asks.
"Make me scream."
I force my tongue into Zane's mouth as his hips start to pull his cock out of me, then force it back into me a second later. I moan against Zane's lips as the greatest feeling I've ever felt washes over me. The room fills with quiet rocks of the bed, moans escaping both me and Zane, and the sloppy sound of Zane's naked cock fucking me hard and deep.
He presses his hands against my chest and pinches my nipples with a force I didn't even know he had. But it doesn't hurt at all. It only makes my leaking cock harder as Zane's stomach rubs against it. "Two can...play at that...game," I say between kisses.
My hands grab Zane's chest and give both of his hard, pink nipples a squeeze. Zane moans against my tongue and I can feel him begging for more. His thrusts get harder and faster, and I can feel him getting closer to the edge. I want to give Zane and best present there is, so I start fucking him back.
I push against Zane's hips every time he enters me, feeling his cockhead force it's way even deeper inside of me, jabbing my prostate with every thrust. Keeping one hand on his nipple, I wrap my free arm around Zane's neck and pull him as close to me as possible, feeling my tongue actually slide down his throat.
His whole body clenches ever harder and I know of his impending orgasm. "I-I going to cum..." he says into my mouth.
When I hear that, pressure starts to build up inside of me and I feel myself about to cum as well. "Me too," I say. "C-Cum with me..."
He thrusts the hardest he has yet and I thrust back at him. Hot breath and loud moans bounce between our kissing faces. "I'm...c-cumming!" Zane shouts.
"Cum inside me!" I yell back. "I'm cumming too!"
Loud, animalistic growls and yells fill the room as Zane pushes himself deep inside of me. I feel the first shot of cum hit my insides and that sends me over the edge with him. Cum shoots out of my cock with a force I've never experienced before. Jets of cum shoot onto both me and Zane, covering our stomachs, chests, necks, faces and hair.
Zane empties himself into me and I feel shot after powerful shot coat my inner wall. After several seconds of both of us not moving a muscle, Zane collapses onto my chest, both of us gasping for air in complete unison. I look at Zane's gasping face next to mine and see he looks as exhausted as I feel.
He manages to open his sex-filled eyes and we just stare at each other in silence for several minutes, just waiting for the other to say a single word. "Thank you," is the best thing I can think of.
Zane stares at me for a few more seconds before smiling. "It was my pleasure."
"And mine too."
He smiles and climbs on top of me and kisses me deeply. "I'm all sticky," he says.
"You want to take a shower together?"
"I don't want to move a single inch from this bed. I want to be here with you the whole night."
I grin at him. "I couldn't think of anything better.
Zane grins back and grabs the covers at the foot of the bed and kicks it with his foot up to his waist before draping it over both of us. I reach behind me and flip the single lamp that's on in the room, casting darkness over everything as I fall back into the bed with Zane. It takes me a minute to adjust, but I see Zane's glowing black and blue eyes through the shadows.
His teeth smile like the Cheshire cat and I smile back. "This day has been so amazing," Zane says. "I got to spend an entire day with you doing whatever we wanted together. The wake up call, the breakfast, the new phone, seeing everyone at work, the park, taking a long walk, the gala, the auction, making love for the first time, and now I'm cuddling with a guy I love more than anyone: you, Eric."
I feel something wet drip onto my shoulder and I can hear shaky breaths. "Zane, are you crying?" I ask.
"J-Just a little..."
I hold him tightly and pull him toward me. "Why? What's wrong?"
There's a small sniffle and I can feel Zane's face just inches away from mine. "Nothing's wrong. Nothing at all. Do you know what this is?"
"It's not the best birthday of my life. It's the best fucking day of my life." I smile and feel two tears escape my eyes and slide onto the pillow. I give Zane a light kiss and stare deeply into his moist eyes. "I love you, Eric... I love you so much."
"And I love you, Zane. Happy birthday."
Zane and I hold each other tightly and press ourselves together. Within seconds, deep easy breaths come from both of us and delicately touch the skin of our sleeping, smiling faces.