THE COLOUR OF COLLARS
“Gilles? Gilles? GILLES!”
I’m brought back to the here and now as I see Max standing in the doorway of his office frowning at me. I quickly hide the note I’d been holding amongst a stack of files and follow him.
“What can I do for you?” I ask straight faced but thoughts frazzled.
Again he frowns and slowly sinks down in his chair. “Gilles? It’s 9 in the morning…” he regards skeptically as I stare back dumbly.
Of course! I dash back to my desk and grab todays files and notepad. Our daily run down of events is at 9 in the morning on the dot.
“Your second date yesterday that good?” Max smiles as I return.
I can’t help but grin thinking about to last night. I’ve never gone out with a whirlwind before but so far it’s proven to be an adventure I’d love to continue. Even last nights goodbye kiss was amazing.
“I thought she sounded incredible over the phone but in real life…” I look up at a grinning Max and I just know I have this goofy smile on my face. “What about Wonder Boy?” I ask and he mirrors my goofy grin. He’s been skipping into work lately. His good mood hasn’t dissipated since that first night with Wonder Boy.
“You and I are both lucky men Gilles.” Is all he says and we start going through todays agenda. Back at my desk, the note I shuffled out of sight once again catches my attention. I finger its edges and sigh.
I should tell him. Especially after what happened with the kitchenettes. It couldn’t be a coincidence could it? Not anymore anyway...
My phones rings. “Mr. Hastings Office.”
The voice on the other end eases my discomfort for a few seconds. “Hey Lia…” I grin.
After the short chat with his sister I take a deep breath grab the note and get up to knock on Max’s office door. I should have done this weeks ago but honestly I’ve never thought anything of it, not till now.
Tonight he’s cooking for me at his place. We haven’t been to Niko’s before. This passed week I’ve unconsciously been dragging him to my bed and we’ve always stayed in.
Nothing wrong with staying in, I love to stay in especially in Niko. I bit my lip grinning as I stare out of the window. There is something wondrous about rediscovering someone all over again. He’s so much more mature now than when he was a high school kid. Different as he seems settled into himself and happy with what he has and is. Learning about him and what's made him into the man he is today, is thrilling.
Discovering his body in ways I couldn’t have imagined is also high on my list of favourite things to do while ‘staying in’. There was something else I discovered, not about Niko though. About myself. I had yet to feel inadequate around him. I didn’t feel stupid or nervous or uncomfortable. That alone is worth any price.
I also never thought I’d be so intimately acquainted with those birthmarks that've always fascinated me. To feel his skin taught around his muscles, bury myself between his cheeks in more ways than one. The trembling and intake of breathe of both parties. I’m drifting just thinking about it. Luckily I’m not free styling it today.
There is something so very humbling about a man surrendering to you as you in turn surrender to him.
Maybe surrender isn’t the right word.
More like… well… I guess I need to think about it more to get my answer.
A knock on my door breaks my reverie and I swivel my chair to see Gilles standing in front of my desk holding a piece of paper.
“Max.” he starts but stopped, crosses over to me and holds out the paper to me without a word.
“Niko you’re late and your shirt isn’t tucked in!” Kevin chides me as I arrive to check in and grab todays schedule.
“Kevin, I love you man but you’re not my mother.” I chuckle moving around his small office grabbing some fresh coffee from the thermos.
“No I'm not, I’m your business partner. Which kind of makes me your brother, which in turn makes my mother your adopted mom and you and I both know you’d rather have me nag at you than dear old mama!” he crossed his arms at me from behind his computer.
I chuckle imagining Mrs. Tool wagging her finger at me.
“Right you are. So busy day for me or what?”
“You know you act more like an employee than a boss.” He grunts.
“That’s why I have you, Kev. I know how to do the books but I couldn’t sit behind a desk all day. I would drive me nuts.”
“Yeah yeah, well you’ve got three downtown clients this morning and two residential homes in the subs this afternoon.”
“Oh joy.” I sigh. “Hopefully not another soccer mom in need of 'male assistance.'”
“I remember one particular soccer dad you didn’t mind servicing.”
“That was different. One: he was gay. And two: he was single.”
“Why didn’t that ever work out by the way?” Kevin looked up from his screen in genuine interest for once.
I sat down on my accustomed chair opposite him. “Sometimes someone can be great but there just isn’t any chemistry. We both knew it. I felt bad about that cause I really liked his kids.”
“I remember. Although it seems you’ve found a keeper this time.”
“Yeah…” I feel my lips stretch into an involuntary smile staring down at the rim of my coffee mug. “I hope I have.”
“You haven’t talked about it yet?”
“Do these things always have to be said out loud? I feel like we don’t need to, there is an understanding underneath it all that we are together. Right now that’s enough.”
“Niko…” Kevin’s soft voice makes me look up at him. His eyes behind those thick rimmed glassed he wears soften. “If this guy is anything like what you’ve been telling me he is you’ll not run him off.”
I chew the inside my lip as I trace the ear my mug with my thumb.
“I know. He isn’t anything like the others…”
“You’ve never made apologies about who you are or what you do. It’s always been a mystery to Glenna and I why it becomes an issue for you when a boyfriend arrives.”
“I’ve always had a thing for men in suits you know that.” I try to make light of the conversation but Kevin doesn’t give.
“Yes, I do but it always seemed they too only had a thing for your work apparel. Beyond that…”
I sighed at the truth of his words. I haven’t been with many men, they always seem to expect me to behave in a certain way or speak in a certain manner. One befitting my job, my 'social status'.
“At least he can’t be any worse than that IRS guy you were dating last year.” Kevin huffs.
I laugh out loud as he mentioned Martin. Oh god we all have our date disasters, Martin was one of my worst. Cute as he was, my gone was he high maintenance.
“It always pissed me off he made you change before seeing him even if it was for lunch.” Kevin gritted punching his keyboard a little to enthusiastically.
“My work clothes can get very dirt…-“ I start but am immediate cut off by a sternly raised index finger.
“No excuses!” He snaps not sparing me a glance and I have to smile at his grumpy protectiveness. Martin never introduced me to his family or his friends, we hardly went anywhere even for a meal. I think he was embarrassed, though I tried to block those kind of thoughts at the time. He also always told people I was a business entrepreneur. Which wasn’t a lie to be exact but I’m an electrician and I always will be.
He never quite understood that.
Detective Brian McAdams showed his badge at the lobby reception and was told to head up to the 7th floor. It wasn’t his case but the lead on this had fallen sick so here he was on his day off, working.
The receptionist at the front desk escorted him with a sour face and quick stride to the people that were expected him. There were three man sitting awkwardly together with drawn faces.
“Mr. Calgary?” The detective asks as they all stand and the eldest of the men strides over to him.
“Thank you detective for getting here so quickly. Please call me Felix.”
“You reported a development to the sabotage situation?”
“Well, we don’t know if it really is connected to the sabotage or not but we felt it was necessary to inform the police either way.” One of the other men said stepping up. From his description McAdams quickly guessed this to be Max Hastings. He has beautiful coloured skin and a very soft yet firm touch as they shakes hands. McAdams quickly pushes those thoughts away and chiding himself for his momentary laps. He didn’t want to think that way and he wasn’t going to start that all over again now. Not after he worked so hard to rid himself of it.
“My I see the note?” He asks instead and is immediately handed a piece of paper neatly contained in a plastic sleeve. Smart.
The note isn’t long or fancy but very to the point, in the way these mostly are. It’s a threat, a deep personal threat to the man that is believed to be cheating.
“Is this the first one of these that’s popped up?” Felix and Mr. Hasting turn to look at the third man in the room. The straight guy with a haunted look on his face.
“No, it isn’t. But it’s the first one with such a graphic threat. I mean Max gets the odd psycho mail from time to time. Disgruntled ex-clients or ho-homophobes – he stutters which McAdams can already tell isn’t of his usual manner. -or something. I always throw them out before Max sees them, you now it's part of my job. But…”
“But?” McAdams prodded the reluctant secretary.
“Usually they are one offs or just some weirdo's ranting nothing to take seriously. But… this isn’t the first one like this.”
“Gilles, there have been more threats?” Mr. Hastings interjected. He didn’t look mad just upset and deeply concerned.
“No, threats just strange messages. More like someone has a crush on you or something I dismissed them immediately.”
“You sure they are from the same source?”
Gilles nodded “Yes. Same paper. Same handwriting. Same initials: T.S.”
“You know anyone with the initials T.S. Mr. Hastings?”
“Er… Not that I can recall. We deal with a lot of clients here so there could be a T.S. among them somewhere.”
“I’ll need to see all the messages you’ve been able to save till now.”
Gilles nodded uneasily. “I’ve only saved the T.S. messages I’m afraid the others are mostly discarded without much thought.”
McAdams sighs and nods while Gilles quickly dashed out the office to retrieve the notes. Mr. Hastings has taken a seat and is visibly shaken as he stares off into space distracted.
“Have you any idea Mr. Hastings why anyone would threaten you?” McAdams asks, noting Felix watching his employee in deep concern. At least he hasn't heard the boss mention the reputation of the firm yet once, which is a plus.
“No, I…” Mr. Hastings starts but his voice quickly fizzles out as I see a lightbulb switch on behind his eyes. He looks up me confused and alarmed. “I… I’ve recently started seeing someone.”
“That could’ve been the trigger. It mostly is in these cases.” McAdams muses scribbling his notepad full.
“But…” Mr. Hastings frowned shaking his head. “No, I’ve only started seeing him recently, the kitchenettes were tampered with long before then.”
“It still could be connected. My I have the name of whom your seeing at the moment Mr. Hastings?”
“Nikolas Keegan.” He replies meeting a surprised eyebrow raise from Felix. Keegan… Keegan….
“From Keegan Electrical?” McAdams asks halting his scribbeling. Max nods in confirmation and McAdams immediately files his name under suspicious. Quite auspicious timing that is.
“Yes, I knew him in High school, “ McAdams notices a hint of a smile on Max’s face. “We reconnected when we met again the day of the kitchenette discovery.”
McAdams paused his note taking momentarily. Surely it couldn’t be that easy meeting a guy? Surely meeting another gay man your interested in doesn’t just happen by happenstance like that? The thought saddened McAdams, in the space of a second he felt lonely and alone. Feelings that he's been driving to the back of his mind for years.
His momentary slip interrupted with the return of Gilles handing him a folder. McAdams cleared his throat, quickly finished up his interviews around the office and heads out. There was a lot to review related to this case and a lot to think about which wasn’t. Brian wouldn’t have named it fleeing but right then Brian fled home.
I stood waiting outside Niko’s door, ready to knock but unable to. After Detective McAdams left neither Gilles nor I could get any decent work done. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m terrified, to myself at least. I spend an hour convincing Felix that I’m fine. Though he dropped the subject eventually it was obvious didn't put much stock into my words.
I lift my hand and hover a closed knocking fist a fraction from the wood of the door. I don’t know why I’m afraid to see him while I can’t move or run away, while I can’t be anywhere else right now than right here.
I don’t knock.
Instead my hand lowers itself independently from my consciousness and I feel my fingers touch my neck. I remember. I remember that kiss. Although we’ve shared so many more since, that kiss is the one I’ll never forget or will ever stop feeling. Even when sleeping in his arms, his breath on my shoulder and his warmth surrounding me. Still I feel it.
It’s my lifeline.
I lift my hand once more and knock.
I’m just sliding the pasta dish into the oven setting the timer when I hear the knock I’ve been listening for. I bound out of the kitchen and into the hall. I stop myself from skipping but it is a conscious effort to do so.
I feel my face grinning as I swing open the door but one look at Max’s face and it disappears.
“Max, what’s wrong?”
The phone announced the unknown caller was determined to contact me. Ignoring it as I had been wasn't quite doing the trick this time. I sigh and make my way to the phone on the wall. Though I keep a cell I like the dynamics of a landline even if I chose to ignore most incoming calls. That’s what an answering machine is for after all.
“Eben!” The excited yell has me holding the receiver a little ways from my ear.
“Hey Lia, what’s up?”
“We need you at family dinner next Sunday.”
“Really?” I question incredulously filling a cup with freshly brewed tea and sinking down at the kitchen table next to the phone. I have a standing invitation to go the aunt Clea’s Sunday dinners but being a lowly cousin I often feel like the inevitable extra wheel.
“Yes, please Eben. You haven’t been around in months and we miss you.”
I smile tracing the colourful pattern of my cup. The reason I feel like a lowly cousin is entirely my own doing. My mom’s side of the family is anything but unwelcoming. It’s Max that mostly keeps me away.
“Max is having a rough time at work he could use some family support.” Lia explains.
I shift uneasily in my chair. “What kind of a rough time?” I can only imagine with him being…
“Some lunatic making trouble but we do want to see you and he asks after you every Sunday.”
“Well…” I’m running through every excuse I can think of but none of them seem believable enough. I sigh knowing only too well Lia will be on the phone every day until I cave either way. “I guess I could…”
“Great! That makes eleven of us.”
“Eleven?” I do some mental arithmetic of my own; Aunt Clea, Amelia, Annora, Annette, Aria with husband Jackson and little Byrne, Max and me. That’s nine.
“Max is bringing his new beau and I’m bringing mine.” I can hear her grin through the phone but my throat suddenly dries up.
“Oh” I croak. “Oh, ok. Are you sure you want me there? Eleven will make the seating uneven.” I can almost hear her eyes roll across the line.
“No excuses Eben, it is seriously been far to long since we saw you and like it or not we love you.”
Yeah, I know…
“Ok, I’ll be there.” We chat a little longer about inane and mundane things that one does on the phone. Once we end our call I place the receiver back in its cradle. My apartment is very silent, no radio or music playing, so I hear the scraping of my chair as I push it back and the padding of my bare feet as I walk across the living room towards the balcony.
It’s cold out so I don’t open the glass door only stare out of it. I direct my gaze to a large framed photograph on the sideboard next to me. It’s the whole Hastings family perched together with arms around each other grinning at the photographer. The only none Hastings between them is me. I never understood why they practically adopted me into their midst but I had some happy years being amongst them.
Neither could I ever understand why uncle Alvin left to be with another woman. Aunt Clea is a magnificent person then again my own mother, her sister, didn’t have much luck with her chosen husband either. I feel myself frowning as I think of dad. Which in turn makes me think of Max.
We were close you know. I’m a few years younger and he’s always been like a big brother to me. I know he liked having me around as another guy in defense against all those females. I simply loved him. Not romantically you understand but as a brother.
Then he came out.
We haven’t been close since.
The dinner plates are empty and we haven’t spoken much since I arrived. It’s an uncomfortable yet comfortable silence. He knows something’s wrong but he’s giving me time to formulate how to tell him.
How does he read me so well? I stare at him as he’s cleaning the kitchen, he forbids me to help so all I can do is watch. I watch him move, watch his arms clean the countertops and stack items in the dishwasher.
My eyes travel to his neck, seeing it vibrate as he’s humming. I study his hair; it’s cut, colour, texture and density. His ears, his jawline… I try to imprint everything about him. Not just the physical but everything. His smile, his humor, his sensitivity and skillfulness. All of it.
A rush of emotion whirl through me.
Niko is mine, he’s mine and mine alone. I’ve never been possessive in my life but ever since that kiss I've known exactly who I want.
The surge of emotion almost becomes a desperation. I don’t hold back as I slip from my chair and cross the few steps it takes to reach him. He’s at the sink washing something or other and I slip my arms around his waist. I push myself hard against his back. Not exactly grinding him but molding my body against him burying my face in his shoulder. His smell doesn't calm me only spurs me on. His hands stop doing whatever they were doing in the sink and he lets me handle him.
It’s a longing, a frantic longing to confirm my claim on him. I gyrate into him and my hands pull his hips into mine, hard. There is an urgency to my movements that even I don’t recognize. He changed into some comfortable house wear before I arrived, soft and easy to move around in. They make my hands slip in unencumbered. My fingers slide down between his thighs to the moist warmth I find there and pull him into me even more. His body responds to me instantly, not just with the obvious but his whole frame relaxes. His own hands still resting in the soapy dishwater. Breathing has now become irregular for both of us.
My left hand travels up, under his t-shirt up his stomach and across his ribs. The nips I find there almost rendering him wobbly leggged. He’s taller than I but our difference in hight doesn’t really matter much right now. Not that it ever has.
I want him, I want him in the most primal way there is. I want him NOW.
It’s a need.
I pivot Niko to face me, his eyes are as intense as mine as he bores them into me. His soapy hand reach up and hold my face. Yes, he sees it, he sees the need and kisses me. A kiss which I return and dominate within seconds.
“Please Niko,” I plead. “Please…”
Within seconds I have him across the room propped up on the kitchen table. The countertops are too high for what I want right now. It’s fast and frantic, I’m ripping his clothes from his body and my mouth doesn’t leave his for a second as he fumbles with my shirt and belt buckle.
He’s fully naked within seconds while my shirt's flung across the room and my pants lay puddled around my ankles. My hands are everywhere touching, pinching, rubbing every single inch I can reach. Niko’s leaning back on the table and the man has never looked sexier in his live as he does right now. His eyes as wild as I imagine mine are. I push his back to lay flat on the table his knees up against me chest. Directing him with a firm placement to be kept right there.
He’s hard for me which fires me up even more. Hastily grabbing olive oil from the counter slicking us both up, his eyes close and I push in. He opens up to me like a bloom. Though I’m mostly more gentle than this when I'm the one on top that’s not what’s going through my mind right now. I grab his wrists and hold onto them as I quickly pick up speed.
I have him locked unable to move unless it’s in the movements I make. He moans and groans every time I thrust into him. Harder, faster, harder, faster until every thrust is a accompanied with a his moan as I slam it home. Again and again and again...
He’s trembling, I feel it in his tights, his rapped hitched breathing, the convulsions rippling through his abs. Our slapping sounds fill our ears every single time I thrust in trying to go deeper and harder and faster while a single thought echoes through my mind:
You’re mine – You’re mine- Mine – MINE.
Slap - Slap - Slap - SLAP
Niko’s whole body spasms as he ejaculates rope after rope onto his chest while I’m still firmly pinning his wrists to his sides. The sight, smell and music of it all triggers my own climax. I release deep inside him, planting myself as thoroughly as I can.
I’m no one else’s but yours…
I slump onto his slick chest as we both regain our breathes. I grip him tightly as he slowly reaches up to stroke my heaving back and sweaty hair. I feel thick tears fall from my eyes onto his skin. I pull him from the table as I sink to the floor nestling him into my lap. We’re both naked and sweaty yes all he does is wrap his long legs and long arms around me as I sob into neck.
I hold onto him for dear life as if a wildwater current could sweep my away at any second. “IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou.” I repeat the words like a mantra rocking us while I sob.
He squeezes me closer keeping my head exactly where it is. “I love you too Max. I think I always have.”
Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all...
… *humming* …
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