It wasn’t what I thought it would be when I answered the ad. “Painter’s assistant” sounded like climbing ladders and using rollers. Maybe not the best job, but it was money and until I could get that damned lawyer paid, I couldn’t rely on just gigs. I needed a place to live besides the back of my car. Divorce? Yeah, might as well just hand the lawyer a broomstick and spread ‘em the first time the … woman … says the word.
And so the ad.
But this didn’t look like a contractor’s site. It was the wrong part of town for one thing. Too high end for that.
Damn. A line of us waiting to apply. How many did they need? I had to have some cash. There are a lot of things a man can do without, but coffee isn’t one of them, and my head was already pounding.
“Just line up over there, facing this way.”
Definitely not a contractor’s site. No contractor in his right mind would hire a girl that young, that pretty and that skimpily dressed to work around a gang of men. They’d get no work done, for finding excuses to check in at the office.
She walked along the line and then pointed. “You, you, you, and you, over here. The rest of you, maybe another time.”
Well, OK, I made the cut. Good. Maybe I could even snag a cup before heading to wherever we were going.
“André will be along in a couple. He’ll make the final selection. There’s coffee down the hall to the left.” And with that, she was gone.
André? Final selection? I might have thought about that more except she’d said the magic word. I gulped the first cup, since there didn’t seem to be a way to inject it directly to my caffeine-starved brain.
I was sipping the second — and enjoying it — when a tall blonde guy with wild curly hair came in. He looked us over and then came so close I could almost hear his heartbeat. “What’s your name?”
I bit back the sarcastic stuff. “Ben. Ben Truesdale.”
“All right, Benjamin, you’ll do. Come along.”
And that was it. Not a word to the others. My mother taught me to be polite and this guy just wasn’t. And where did he get off calling me “Benjamin”? Nobody’d called me Benjamin since Jacob.
“It’s Ben. Just Ben. Not Benjamin.”
He stopped and turned, one eyebrow quirked upward.
Great, Truesdale. You had the job and you fucked it up before you even signed on. At least I’d gotten some coffee out of it.
Slowly, a corner of his mouth lifted in a smile. He turned back and continued walking down the long hallway to the elevator. He pushed the button and looked back at me, his head canted just a bit to one side. “Come along. We’re wasting the light.”
I didn’t know why we couldn’t paint if it clouded over, but I was beside him before the elevator doors opened. There was getting to be less and less room for anything besides dirty laundry in the car. I needed this.
When the elevator opened, I knew for a damn fact this was no contractor’s office. The whole floor was a huge open room, and two walls were nothing but windows. The place was mostly bare and no one else was there.
“All right, Benja— Ben.” He stood waiting, looking at me as if he expected me to break into a song and dance or grow flowers out my nose or something.
After a minute, he said, “Come on, strip off.”
“Strip?” Maybe this place furnished painter’s jumpsuits. A mental shrug. I was already yanking the tee over my head. I needed daily coffee and someplace besides the back of my car to drink it. “How far?”
He laughed and the sound might have been pleasant if it hadn’t been directed at me. As it was, I wanted to shove a fistful of those blonde curls down his throat. “All the way, dear boy, all the way. I need to see what I’ve got to work with.”
Work with? What the hell was this job? Dear boy? Unless the guy had some fountain of youth somewhere, we’re roughly the same age. I might even be just a bit older.
He went over to a table and starting fiddling with stuff. I’d shucked down to boxers, tossed my stuff across a chair, and was standing there when he turned around.
“Now, Ben, don’t tell me you’ve never stripped off in front of people. I simply won’t believe you. And you don’t strike me as shy, anyway.”
I grabbed the waistband. “I’m not shy. I just don’t get what’s going on here.”
“The installation’s called ‘The Color Naked’.”
If that was supposed to mean something, I missed it. When my boxers hit the floor, he dragged his eyes over me. I could almost see him lick his lips. Dear god in heaven, what had I gotten myself into? Or better, what did he think he was going to get into?
“Very nice,” he said softly. “Turn. Let me see the backside, too. Some men have great cocks and dreadful asses. I need someone who’s got it both sides.”
As I turned I debated whether to punch his face or his belly or just go for the money shot and get his balls if he jumped me. I could hear his indrawn breath.
“Oh my god, that’s perfect.”
I turned around quickly. He looked me over again and the look of longing in his eyes was so deep I was afraid he was going to cry. I’d seen that look before, on Jacob’s face. The thought of Jacob, as always, was a sudden blow to a swollen pocket of inflammation.
His voice jolted me out of anguish. “Straight?”
I had to clear my throat before I could answer. “Yeah.” Except for almost Jacob.
Something in his eyes shifted. The longing softened and compassion flickered for an instant before the studied indifference returned. “Pity. If you ever get curious ….”
For a moment, just a moment, I wanted to blurt it all out, tell him about Jacob, how close we’d been, how much I missed him, how he’d wanted me and asked me and I’d refused, how the day had come when I’d stood looking down at him in a suit that was never his, “looking so natural” with padded satin all around him, and I’d whispered promises I would, I would, I would, if he’d just sit up and live again.
Right, Truesdale, really fuck it up. Except you need the goddamned money. Keep your mouth shut and do what the man says.
He sighed and when he drew in another breath, something shifted in him again. This was suddenly all business. He walked around me, studying me. “Arms to the front.”
“Good. Now the Vitruvian Man.”
He quirked a brow again when I hit the pose.
“What? Surprised I know the reference?”
“A bit. But pleased. I do prefer to work with educated men. Conversation is more pleasant that way.”
He faced me, pretty close, and matched my pose, then stepped closer. My brow quirked this time.
“Don’t be silly, Ben. I’m not going to treat you like straight men treat women, if that’s what’s got you nervous. This just helps me get a better inner feeling for your height and frame, comparing it with my own.”
Some imp somewhere pulled up the corners of his mouth and pushed a couple of dimples in. Maybe ‘mischief’ was his last name.
“Or I could just measure you quite thoroughly.”
“This works fine, Mr. …”
“André. I don’t use any name but that. Just call me André.” He stepped away and kept backing up.
“All right, André.”
“Turn again, but keep your arms out and when you get to the cardinal points, back to Vitruvian.”
The lightbulb had gone on when he first mentioned the Vitruvian man. The guy wasn’t a painting contractor. He was an artist.
“I thought artists worked alone, André.”
He shrugged. “Most do, but some, like Diego Rivera, didn’t.” He glanced to see if I knew who Rivera was. I did.
“Yeah, he had to have help since his work was so big and the paint dried so quickly. Some things, the assistants did most of the actual paint— …. André, I’m a musician, not an artist.”
“Oh? The musician part is interesting, but you’ll change your mind about the artist bit.”
I raised both brows.
“That’s a good expression for you. I’ll get it in some sketches at some point. All right, we can work a bit today while there’s still good light. Go stand on that drop cloth in front of the canvas. I’ll place you exactly in a moment.”
I snagged my clothes.
“No. Leave those there. We’re working nude.”
We? Well, he’d said he wouldn’t jump me, and I believed him, so if he meant ‘we’ literally, fine by me.
“Not be sordid or anything, but some info about this job would sit well with me.”
“Janine didn’t brief you?”
I shook my head.
“Typically, we’ll work 4 − 5 hours a day, sometimes less, sometimes more. I work at least 4 days a week, and sometimes all 7.”
Damn. Not enough to live on.
“You’re working nude, and it’s messy, so $150 an hour.”
Was this guy fucking nuts? $150 an hour? There had to be something illegal involved somewhere.
A zombie sucked the blood out of my brain. I felt dizzy all of a sudden. Damn. Maybe two cups of good strong coffee when I hadn’t eaten since a stale cookie for breakfast yesterday wasn’t such a hot idea.
“André, I …”
He whipped around at the tone of my voice and the next thing I knew he had an arm around me, helping me to a chair. “If you’re sick, I can’t use you.”
“Just light-headed. I’ll be fine.”
He quirked that brow again. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I just haven’t eaten yet.”
“I’ll send Janine out.”
I shook my head and wished I hadn’t. That room spinning thing isn’t near as much fun as it looks in cartoons. “No money.”
“Hmmph.” He stood up straight and walked away.
My thighs made a decent resting spot for my forearms while I stared at the floor, trying to anchor the room by force of will. I’d managed to persuade it to rock instead of spin when André came back.
“I had no idea what to get you, so she’ll bring a selection.”
“I can’t pay for it.”
“Yes you can. You’ll work for 10 minutes without pay or something.”
I nodded. Bad idea. “Oh shit.”
I slid sideways and André grabbed for me.
“Oh god, don’t move, don’t move.”
“I’m OK.” I tried to right myself.
“Don’t move, damn you! I need this pose! Don’t change a thing.”
“I can’t stay like this for long.”
“Photograph. I’ll pose you again from that, with support, when we do that work. Just be still. And keep that look, that beautiful, vulnerable look.”
I heard the clicks and shutter whirs and felt him moving around.
“OK, got it. You can move now. Oh my god, you’re gorgeous like that.”
“Thanks.” I tried for a smile and didn’t quite make it.
I’ll give André this: he’s not an artsy-fartsy type whose head is up his ass with his work. He noticed. And squatted next to the chair. He quirked that brow again. “That’s not the ‘oh god, the gay guy’s gonna grab me’ look.”
I thought better of shaking my head. “No. No, it’s not.” Barely a whisper. “It’s just something … someone … said to me a while back.” Jacob had called me his ‘gorgeous straight guy.’
“The someone it hurt to think about when I asked if you’re straight.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah.” Shit. First the carousel of dizzy I was riding on, and Jacob, too? So, cry or faint, which is better?
André stood up as Janine bustled in, enough distraction to save me from having to make the choice. I was struggling so hard to get myself under control, it didn’t even dawn on me that I was naked in front of her.
“Here’s a salad, with four kinds of dressing, a bowl of tomato bisque and a burger with fries — yes, André, without onions.”
How had he known I can’t stand onions?
“And none in the salad either?”
“Nope. I remember the ‘no onions for models’ rule.”
Ah. Well, makes sense. And at least the guy wasn’t that psychic.
“Thanks, Janine.” I managed the smile that time.
“Sure, Ben. Welcome to the crazy house.” She closed the door behind her.
The burger smelled like they used to at family barbecues and my stomach loudly voiced its approval.
“There’s enough here for three people. You having something?”
“I’m sure that’s why Janine got the bisque. She knows I can’t resist it. She thinks I don’t eat enough when I get involved in a project. It’s easier not to argue with her. She’s very stubborn and makes my life miserable if I do.”
My turn again for the quirked brow, as I unwrapped the burger. Jesus, it smelled so good my stomach was trying to claw its way up my throat to get to it quicker.
“She’s my sister.”
I nodded, once, slowly, as I chewed. It tasted like June the year I was 11. Perfect, in other words.
André perched on the corner of the worktable I was using for a lunch counter and opened the container of soup. Damn. It smelled good, too. And that salad was making eyes at me. I knew I’d been hungry, but damn.
Men don’t need to talk while they eat. We didn’t.
I was checking for the fifth time to see if perhaps fries had figured out that whole respawning thing when André set the empty bowl down.
“Do you think you’re up to working?”
I nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine now.”
“Blood sugar problems?”
“Oh, no. I just … I hadn’t eaten since yesterday morning.”
Both brows went up that time.
Damn. Lie? No. I might be OK at it, but I knew this guy was better at spotting lies than I was at telling them.
“No money. Messy divorce, and the gigs aren’t steady. I can’t even pay rent, so I’m living out of my car.”
He nodded. “Bring your stuff to my place.”
If he thought both brows raised was a good expression for me, I’m surprised he didn’t go into rapture this time, because they were reaching for the ceiling and nearly making it. “Your place?”
“Do you repeat what’s said to you a lot? Bad habit.”
The flash of anger was gone almost before I’d felt it when he went on.
“I’d prefer to work with someone who showers, and you’ll need to after we quit for the day. I assume you could use some laundry done, things like that. Come to my place and do that. Janine can find you a place to stay.”
No more scrubbing the stinky bits with cold water in that urine-soaked men’s room in the park. I nodded. “Thanks.”
“Let’s get to it.” He stood and that imp paid another visit to his smile. “Fun times ahead.”
“Well all right then.” I stood, too. Nervous? Hell, yes. Let him see it? Not going to happen.
He laughed, and I felt no urge to choke him on his curls. This laugh said he was pleased, not amused at my expense.
André pointed to the drop cloth and went back to fiddling with things on the other worktable. After a minute he turned back in my direction and pulled off his shirt. I guessed ‘we work nude’ really did mean ‘we’.
“I’ll leave the jockstrap on if that would make you more comfortable. Today. Tomorrow, we’re both in skin.”
“Suit yourself, André. It’s fine with me.”
That quirky brow thing, and this time the corner of his mouth on that side pulled up at exactly the same angle. He dropped his pants. “You’re not a good liar, Ben. But you’ve got a fair amount of chutzpah. I’d imagine you use it on yourself nearly as much as you do on others, am I right?”
“Except for the not being a good liar part, I could say the same to you.”
I was beginning to like the sound of his laughter and the little crinkly thing that happened around his eyes. This guy might not be the asshat I’d thought he was at first.
“OK, this is going to get messy and it’s not going to be easy to get cleaned up to take a break, so if you need to hit the head, do it now.” He pointed.
I nodded. Two cups of coffee. Yeah, I’d better take care of filtering it.
He had seven or eight paint cans on the drop cloth when I came back out. And the jockstrap was gone. I shrugged to myself. Maybe being nude freed his muse or something.
It wasn’t long before I figured out how wrong that was.
“Here, stand here. For now, just stand.” He picked up the can of canary or citrine or goldenrod or whatever jacked-up name it was called. To me, it was yellow.
It was also cold as that witch’s tit you hear about so much.
“Jesus, André, what are you doing?”
“Painting, dear boy, painting.”
“You’re pouring paint on me!”
He nodded and swapped the yellow for blue, going for the other arm and a bit of my chest. It was splashing on him, too. “Messy, like I said. It warms quickly, though. I can’t heat it. Ruins the pigment.” The imp paid another call. “I could smear it on you rather than pour. My hands would heat things up pretty quickly.”
It was so Jacob, what he said. I felt the gut-punch of grief, and sucked in a breath. André cut his eyes at me as he picked up the purple or fuchsia or whatever.
For a second, I thought he was going to say something, or touch my arm; he thought it, too, but suddenly his all-business face was back and he did that artist’s where-does-this-go thing, stepping back and looking, then moving closer, then laying his head to one side, then …. Yeah, that.
The purple went down one leg. The other, red. This was totally crazy, but hell, he was paying me $150 an hour. He could pour paint over me all day.
“Now for the naughty bits.”
“Wait. You’re going to put paint on my cock?”
“Unless that’s the best strap-on I’ve ever seen and you’re hiding a bit of something different behind those balls, yes.”
“Paint’s hard to get off without scrubbing.”
“Not this. It’s not house paint. It’s a very concentrated watercolor. Believe me, I don’t want that cock to get damaged either.” The imp again. “Although I should have told you it would only come off with saliva.”
Again, so like Jacob; again, a gut-punch. I whimpered. I’m not proud of it, but I’m a lousy liar, so there it is in black and white. I whimpered.
André looked at me sharply. “This dries too fast to stop. No breaks once we start. Suck it up.”
He picked up the blue and poured it over my man parts. It warmed up quicker than I thought it would, thank god.
“If you don’t want me to touch you, take yourself in hand and stroke it three or four times, just to get over the cold. I want this to show you as you really are, not shriveled up.”
I raised an eyebrow at him. “I’m not going to jack off for you.”
He laughed. “If I wanted that, there are plenty of boys who try to catch my eye out on the scene. This is work. Just get yourself back to normal.”
If I’d thought letting a man pour paint over me was weird, standing there banging it with blue paint for lube was like walking into McDonald’s and finding aliens frying monkey balls and nobody even noticing. Luckily, it didn’t take long to make it long. Living in a car makes for not much privacy to jack off unless you really like to wear prison orange, so I was ready for some strokes, even with someone watching. Hadn’t done that since I was about 14.
Except once for Jacob. Drunk as hell, and stoned to boot. I don’t even remember how he talked me into it, or shit, if I even needed much talking. At 19, you’re always ready.
I closed my eyes to fight down the tears. Shit, I had to get a grip. No. I had a grip, and it felt damned good.
“If you’re going to come, here’s a rag.”
I stopped, though it wouldn’t have taken much longer.
“Lovely, Ben, really lovely. That’s a beautiful cock.”
Just as I began to get a bit uneasy, all-business was back. “Now, turn around and press yourself to the canvas. I’m going to come up behind you and push to make sure there’s good contact. Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn this into something you don’t want it to be.”
I nodded, and followed instructions, though something inside me tried to get me to run.
His hands were warm, and rougher textured than I’d expected, like a man who works at a trade for a living and not someone who haunts galleries. His touch was gentle, though the pressure was firm. I liked it.
And that scared me.
“All right, step straight back and let me look.”
I needed the break from that, from having his hands on me. I turned away from him and closed my eyes, breathing deep, like preparing to sing, letting a good oxygen exchange pull out the tension and fear. And arousal, if honesty really is the best policy.
He stood there looking at the canvas, not moving, not saying anything.
I finally turned and looked at it, too, looked at my body in paint.
It was beautiful.
I was beautiful.
“Oh my god,” I whispered.
“Yes,” André agreed.
The colors and shapes seemed to have been created for each other. That sounds crazy, but that’s the only way I can say it.
“Am I … is that really me?”
André looked at me, looked me full in the eye. “Yes, Ben. That’s you. I told you you’d see that you’re an artist. You made that. You created that. You and if you believe in such things, god.”
I stood there, trembling, just staring.
I cleared my throat. “Can we do another?”
He smiled. “I have 500 canvases prepared, Ben. Go, press yourself to the next one. It will be different since there’s less paint.”
That time, when he put his hands on me, it felt warm and freeing somehow. The arousal was stronger, a lot stronger. When he stepped away, I turned toward him before he had moved too far. I was breathing heavily.
And so was he.
I wasn’t the only one aroused, either. That longing was back, the Jacob look. We stood there, eyes locked, for a time.
He looked away when Janine knocked and came back in. Neither seemed to care about the nudity.
“Got Ben a furnished place to stay, just down the street, so he can use the parking garage here. First month’s paid up.”
“Thanks, Janine.” He sounded pleased and disappointed at the same time.
“How long will it take to pay you back?”
He waved that away. “You already have. Look at these canvases.”
Janine turned to look, too. “Damn, André. Damn, Ben. These are great! He’s right, Ben. This more than pays for a month’s rent.”
When she’d left, he looked sideways at me, almost shy. “Do you want to do another?”
I nodded. Truth be told, I didn’t want this to be finished, even for the day, and though I told myself it was needing to make more money, even I knew I was lying to me. I didn’t want this to be over; I didn’t want to leave this wonder and warmth that I was finding in my soul.
I don’t know how we managed it, both of us dancing around the edges of … something … but we did three more that day, letting the paint dry a bit between and André adding more or different colors, so each canvas was totally different.
The next day we did different poses as well as different colors.
That’s how it worked out. We’d do five or six a day, skirting around the thing that was there between us, the elephant in the studio. Every day, he said a few more Jacobisms. Every day they hurt less in some ways and much more in others.
The fourth week — the lawyer well paid off and a very nice savings account started — we did one all in blues and purples, my favorite colors. It was … ‘amazing’ gets overused, but shit, that’s what it was. Amazing. Like the first one, I couldn’t believe it was my body that made those beautiful marks on the canvas.
And it changed something. It changed me.
We were standing there, still in that first rush of awe. I could barely whisper. “André, I want to make another. I want to make one of you.”
His eyes widened as he gasped. “Ben, my god, of me?”
I nodded, suddenly unable to trust my voice. Three breaths, then four.
Finally he moved. His voice was husky. “Paint me, Ben.”
He went to the next canvas and stood. I closed my eyes a moment and then picked up the purple. “Do you care wh—?”
“You’ll know. Trust your art, Ben. Trust your ….”
I met his eye. “My what?”
The longing returned, even deeper. “Your heart, Ben. Trust your heart.”
Jacob again. How many times had he said that to me? I’d lost count.
That heart I needed to trust was pounding so hard I was surprised he didn’t see it move my chest. I poured the purple on his left shoulder and trailed it down over his heart. I thought he’d watch me, see what colors went where. He didn’t. His eyes didn’t leave my face.
Finally, I stepped back and nodded to him. He turned to the canvas and pressed himself against it.
Hard as my heart had been pounding before, that was nothing to how hard it pounded as I stepped closer and laid my hands on his shoulders. A half-choked barely audible whimper, deep in his throat.
I did as he had done, gently moving my hands over his arms, his back, down his legs, and finally to his backside. I couldn’t really tell which of us whimpered then. Maybe we both did. When I stepped away, he stood for a moment. If he was having as much trouble as I was controlling things, it might be a while, so I gave him some room.
Finally he peeled himself off the canvas and stepped back.
“Oh my god.” We both whispered it. He was beautiful, like a sunset that makes you ache to touch it, to hold it in your hands, to hold it in your soul.
“It’s never been like this, Ben. One or two others, I’ve asked to do this, to paint me. They weren’t like this. No one else has ever asked of their own accord. And now I know why. Because they couldn’t have come close to this. My god, Ben, my god.”
‘Feasting your eyes’ is such a cliché, but that’s exactly what it felt like. My eyes had been malnourished, starved to the point of death, and I hadn’t even known it. Now? Now there was such a sumptuous banquet laid out for them, I couldn’t choose where to look. I wanted to look forever, at his canvas, at mine. I wanted to suck them deep inside of me, to hold that feeling there forever.
André was doing the same, looking, rapt, at what we’d done, what we’d created, the two of us together. With that thought, I reached for his hand and took it in my own, without either of us breaking our gaze. It felt perfectly natural. Even when I thought about what I was doing, holding hands with a man, it felt perfectly natural. It felt right.
“André, what would happen if I pressed against something else, something besides canvas? Would that create something as beautiful?” It was a whisper.
He drew in his breath sharply. After a moment, he answered, “It depends on what that something else is. Whether it’s textured or plain, soft or hard, resistant or yielding.”
“It looks hard, very hard. And I think it would be yielding, but I’m not certain.”
“It … I would be. Would you … be yielding as well?”
“Yes.” The only way I knew for certain I’d spoken aloud was that he turned toward me.
“You’re sure? Once I have you in my arms, it will be hard for me to stop.”
“I don’t understand it really, but yes, I’m sure. I want you, André.”
“Then you shall have me.” He leaned toward me and gave me his mouth.
There was fire in his lips. There must have been, to set me aflame like that. Again, I couldn’t tell which of us moaned. Likely it was both of us. All I know is that I had to have him. I wasn’t even sure what that would mean, exactly, but whatever it meant, I wanted it.
I pulled him tight to me. His lips were ice compared to his cock. I ground against him and nibbled his earlobe. He shivered and bit the join of my neck and shoulder.
“Oh god! Oh god, André, you feel so good against me.”
“Wait until you feel me around you. You’re going to come your balls right out your cock.”
“You’ll let me fuck you?” I was nuzzling into the join of his neck and shoulder, licking, nipping, kissing.
“God, yes, Ben, yes.”
“I’m not sure about letting you fuck me.”
“Hush, Ben. I’m not going to insist on that. We’ll do what feels right to you, and if you decide you want to bottom, I’ll teach you. I won’t hurt you, I promise.”
“I trust you, André,” I whispered into his ear, as much to feel him shiver as to tell him that.
He passed me a cloth and took one himself, leading me to the head. We wiped the paint off each other gently. Neither of us could wait for more cleaning that that. I had to have him. Had to. He pulled me along back to where we could see the canvases.
André took my face in his hands, those rough-gentle workman-artist hands, and kissed me again. My knees buckled and I clutched at him for support. He smiled at me and I thought my heart would leap off the roof. This was more than sex. My god, was I falling in love? Had I been falling in love all along?
Right then, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was André, kissing him, finding the way he liked our tongues to dance, seeking out the secret places to lick that made him tremble and buck his hips up off the dropcloth-covered floor to get more of me. I wouldn’t last long, I knew. It had been a long time for me and already I was getting close, from no more than his tasting my nipples.
“It’s going to be quick, André. I’ll hold back as long as I can, but ….”
“Your second will take longer. We have time, Ben, beautiful Ben.”
He pushed me gently, laid me down on my back, sucking and licking downward from my navel. “Oh, god, yes, André, I want your lips around me, those perfect lips.”
He groaned, then chuckled. “My perfect lips for your perfect cock.”
My hands were twisting the dropcloth harder and harder the closer to my cock he got, the hotter I got, the more I needed to come. No. The more I needed him. When he licked from my scrotum up to the head of my penis, it was all I could do to keep from screaming. His lips closed around me and I bit my fist to hold in the yell. I’d never even imagined anything that good, and one thing I’ll say for the ex, she knew how to give a blow job.
But not like André. He pulled away for a second and I thought I was going to die from the sudden lack of him. He licked his fingers.
“Please, please, André, please.”
“Do you want to feel like the god of coming?”
I think I nodded. He had taken me between his lips again and I wasn’t sure I could form a complete thought, much less a coherent word.
He pulled away again. “Trust me, beautiful Ben. Trust me and bear down.”
I moaned as he captured me again, though I don’t know how it could be called “capture” when I was lifting my hips, thrusting, seeking the tight wet heat of his mouth. His fingers slipped back from my scrotum to press gently but insistently at the opening he found below.
The god of coming, he’d said. Trust him, he’d said. Bear down, he’d said. I did.
I know I yelled as his fingers entered me. As the oddness of that feeling gave way to more pleasure than even his tongue alone had been giving me, I called his name over and over, and he made me into the god of coming. I trembled, I jerked, I shook. Nothing, and I mean nothing, had ever felt that good.
He kept sucking, kept tonguing me until I had to pull him away or die of pleasure. I was gasping for air and I knew my cheeks were wet with tears of release and of joy.
André kissed my cheeks dry, looking at me with … my god, was that love? Was he falling in love, too, like I was with him?
“You taste like heaven, beautiful Ben,” he whispered.
I groaned. “What do you taste like, enticing André?”
He shuddered. “Find out, Ben.”
“I won’t be as good as you. I’ve never done this.”
“Have you ever had a bad blow job?”
I shook my head.
“I have. It was fucking fabulous.”
I laughed. “OK, but please, tell me if I do it wrong, or if something else would feel better.”
He propped up on one elbow and looked down at me. Something cold, something heavy squatted in my chest. “Ben, I’m going to tell you something.”
I nodded. The lump that was trying to find a home in my chest vanished when I looked into his eyes. Whatever he wanted to tell me, if it went with that look, I wanted to hear it.
“That first day, when I saw what our work would be like, when I saw the pain and vulnerability in you, when I saw the beauty of your soul as well as your body, I went home and packed up everything any other man had ever left at my place and I set the boxes on the curb. I changed the locks, since a couple of them over the years had keys. I changed my phone number. I stopped going to bars. I told Janine I wouldn’t take calls from anyone, and to call security if any of my old fucks showed up. I started getting myself ready for you, Ben. I knew when I saw that first canvas that there would never be another man who could move me like you do. I prayed, Ben, though I haven’t been to church in years, I prayed that you would come to me, and I made a vow, a sacred vow, that I would wait until you were ready to do that, to come to me of your own free will. I vowed celibacy, unless it was with you. What happens after today is up to you, just as what has happened up till today has been up to you, but there is no way you could disappoint me. To … to touch you, to kiss you … I ….”
The tears were there again, for both of us.
“I thought I wanted to fuck you, André. I don’t.”
I cupped his cheek to chase away his distress until I could clear my throat enough to go on. “I want to make love to you, André, my enthralling handsome lover. This scared me at first, the way I feel about you, the way I felt even then. You know what scares me now?”
He shook his head and drew my hand to his lips so he could nibble my palm, suck my fingers.
“Nothing, André. Nothing scares me anymore.”
He pulled my lips to his and kissed me like I’ve never been kissed before, nipping here and there, feathering his tongue, probing underneath mine, opening completely to me. I pulled away enough to kiss my way down the cord of his throat and over to that little u-notch at the meeting of his collarbones.
His body, his delightful body, mapped the way for me, gave me trails of muscle to follow as I made my way lower. I was already getting hard again, quicker than I’d been able to for a second round since college. Maybe I could split him apart, fill him, without waiting too long; I knew, though, that I’d have his — his first anyway — in my mouth. The thought of his orgasm ground me against him as I slid further along his body.
He moaned over and over and when I finally took that first lick, that first long slow luscious lick over the tautness of his head, he groaned my name. My heart expanded at the sound, became the universe and all that was contained in it, except for my lover, my exquisite tender beautiful lover.
When I slid down his length to nuzzle into the grove of blonde curls at the base of his cock, he groaned my name again and began sucking air in, quick little breaths that he held until he had to suck in another. He was close, my god, he was close, and I had to have him, all of him. I sucked down, gently at first and then harder when he shivered and jerked beneath me.
“Oh god, oh god, Ben, my beautiful Ben!”
A man’s orgasm is an odd sort of violent. Our bodies flop and jerk, no longer under our control, but that exquisite moment, the little death, has a peace to it, too, a sense of finally finding something we’ve been searching for forever, an “aahhhh” of being home at last.
I’d wondered how he would taste. He tasted salty with a tiny hint of sweet. He tasted like more. He tasted like love.
He still does.
[art used with permission from artist]