Backstage Romance Ch. 04byikhneumon©
* Jeff *
When I woke the next morning, Daniel and I were still tangled together. I disengaged myself as gently as I could. He sighed and murmured something into the pillow, but didn't wake. I used the restroom, wrapped myself in a bathrobe, and padded to the kitchen to make some coffee and collect my thoughts.
Well, that had certainly been an unexpected development. Unexpected, but nice. No, nice was selling it way too short. It had been fucking amazing. Or was that just a half dozen years of celibacy talking? I ran my hands through my hair and let out a long, slow breath. No, I had been around the block a few times before Timothy and the subsequent self-imposed dry spell, and I thought I could still trust my memory. Daniel had been incredible.
So what now? Would he wake up and shrug it off as just a hookup? Or think we had made a terrible mistake? I suddenly realized that our encounter might put him in a very awkward position professionally, even though backstage love affairs were hardly uncommon in our world. I kicked myself mentally for not thinking of that before. Daniel had a lot more to lose from this than I did.
What do you want? I ignored the prodding from my subconscious. Probably best to let Daniel call the shots on this, I decided. My subconscious informed me that that was a coward's decision. Not at all, I protested, he should be free to make his own choices without pressure from me. My subconscious seemed unconvinced.
When the coffee had finished brewing, I brought a mug into the bedroom for him. I had to admit, he looked damn good in my bed, with his reddish brown hair spread across the pillow and his long eyelashes closed tightly. I set the mug on the nightstand and kissed one smooth, exposed shoulder. That was a mistake: I was instantly hard and ready to start things all over again. The kiss turned into a nuzzle, and then a lick. Cool it, Williams.
I stepped back as Daniel stirred and opened sleepy eyes. My heart jumped in my chest when they focused on me and he smiled.
"Good morning. I brought you some coffee. Sweet and creamy, right?"
His contented smile broadened at the double entendre, but he didn't rise to the bait.
"That's perfect, thanks. What time is it?"
"Eight o'clock. Do you have somewhere you need to be?" Damn it, Jeff, don't sound like you're eager to usher him to the door. Act casual, but be thoughtful and supportive... God, those lips! His mouth was still red and swollen from the previous evening's make-out session, and was practically daring me to kiss him again.
"Not until ten. At least that'll give me time to shower." He sat up, letting the covers slide to his waist. I tried not to look too eager, but my eyes were devouring every inch of him he chose to reveal. "Do you mind if I use yours?" There was more than a hint of uncertainty in the question: I cursed my thoughtlessness.
"Absolutely, feel free!" And now I was overcompensating, rushing around to find him a fresh towel and a spare toothbrush and razor—thank God I buy them in multi-packs, I hadn't needed to stock up for impromptu overnight guests in a decade—while he sipped his coffee and watched me. This kid had me more rattled than I could remember being in a long time. It was the vulnerability in those hazel eyes, the sense I got that the wrong move or word would send him rushing away.
He finally finished the coffee, stood up, and stretched, naked in all his glory. My head whipped round so fast I swear I heard something in my neck pop. He was even more beautiful in the daylight. And though he blushed fiercely and pulled at the sheet as though to cover himself again, his cock didn't seem to mind the attention. His piss hard-on was waving brazenly at me. My own erection was tenting my bathrobe. I found myself tightening the belt self-consciously.
"Thanks, Jeff." He used my first name! He took the towel from my hands while I groped in my mind for something kind and dashing and funny to say and failed miserably. I stood there like an idiot, watching his gorgeous ass disappear behind the bathroom door.
I waited a good ten minutes. I swear I meant to hold out, to let him make the first move, if there was ever going to be anything more to us than one night, but when I heard the shower running and pictured the water streaming off that slender body, my willpower deserted me. I knocked on the door and opened it a crack. Steam billowed out around me. "Daniel? Would you be interested in some company in there? You know... someone to wash your back?" I know, lamest pickup line I've ever used in my life. But then he poked his head out from behind the curtain and gave me that hesitant boyish grin, and I forgot my humiliation in my eagerness to slip out of my robe and join him.
* Daniel *
Jeff took my hand in his and refused to let go of it the entire trip back to the theater. In the light of day he was a calm, safe driver, nothing like the maniac he had been the night before. He thoughtfully parked around the corner, where I wouldn't be visible getting out of his car. The chances were slim that anyone would notice—all we had going on today was a short load-in of one of the sets, and everyone would be busy around the back of the building—but he was being careful.
"When do you get off work?" he asked.
"Shouldn't be more than two, three hours. We don't normally do load-ins on Sundays, but tomorrow's a holiday."
His eyes lit up. "I'd forgotten that! Did you have any plans?"
I swallowed, hard. "Um, no, did you?" I was lying. Kelly and I had a shopping date Monday (which usually meant she shopped, while I tagged along), but I had no problem whatsoever breaking that if Jeff was thinking what I thought he was thinking.
His smile was positively evil. "Well, I do now. I have a rain check to cash in, remember?" Then he turned bright red, and started stammering, "If you're interested. I mean, I don't want you to feel obligated or anything. I just... shit... I really enjoyed last night... and this morning... I hope you know that, and I hope you did too, and I just thought we could... oh, hell." This awkward, uncertain Jeff was one I'd never seen, but he was cute as hell, running his hands nervously through his hair and looking at me beseechingly.
My heart was about to jump out of my chest, and if you've ever tried speaking when that's happening, you'll know why I squeaked rather than spoke. "Are you asking me to spend the night again?"
No puppy dog ever looked as hopeful and pleading as Jeff did that moment. "I'm asking you to spend every hour from the time you get off this afternoon until rehearsal Tuesday morning with me, Daniel." Then he whispered, so soft I could barely hear him, "Please say yes."
I took a deep breath. And then another. Heart, don't fail me now. "I'd better pack a bag, then."
* * *
Mark looked at me a bit oddly when I showed up for load-in, but didn't say anything. It wasn't until we were almost done that it occurred to me I was wearing the same clothes I had on at rehearsal the day before. I froze a moment, then forced myself to relax. Even if he had noticed and done the math, I hadn't done anything inappropriate while on the job, and there was no visible sign connecting my extracurricular activities to Jeff.
For some reason, that thought made me depressed. Jeff and I shouldn't have to be each other's dirty little secret. Was that what he thought of me? I had thought he was being considerate by dropping me off out of view of the theater. Was he really just protecting his own reputation?
But he had said he wanted to see me again. Wanted to spend the rest of the weekend together. Wanted to "collect on his rain check."
I know it makes me sound like a complete slut, but it was that last thought that finally put an end to my moment of insecurity. After all, I didn't have to overthink things just yet, did I? Not when I had the prospect of a day and two nights of man-love dangling in front of me. The fears could wait.
I looked around cautiously before untucking my shirt to hide my tell-tale boner.
* * *
"Hey, Kel, it's Daniel. I just wanted to let you know, something came up and I won't be able to make our shopping date tomorrow."
"Wait, what? You're deserting me in my hour of retail need? What kind of gay best friend are you?"
"Um, the kind who has other things he needs to do instead of hanging around Victoria's Secret while his hag tries on bras?"
"You did not just call me that."
"Call you what?"
"Exactly." A moment of silence. "Is everything all right?"
"Yeah, things are great, I just wound up with a bit more on my plate than I expected this weekend."
"Stuff going on at the theater? Do you need a hand?"
"Um, no, it's cool. Just have fun shopping, enjoy some one-on-one time with Josh and I'll see you later in the week, okay?"
Another moment of silence. I could practically feel suspicion flowing through the telephone line.
"Daniel James Lewis, is there something I should know about?"
"Hey, I really gotta go, Kel. I'll talk to you later, okay? Take care!"
Yeah, that went well. Being evasive with Kelly wasn't at all like waving a red flag in front of a bull.
I was so screwed.
* Jeff *
I stood in the drugstore aisle, looking indecisively at their selection of condoms and wondering just how optimistic I should be about my choice. The twelve-pack? Or should I think big and go with thirty-six? I had already opted for the larger bottle of lube, reasoning that, whatever wound up happening with Daniel, I could always use it for my own solitary pleasure (for years and years to come), though the silicone stuff wasn't really my first preference for that particular purpose.
After dropping Daniel off at the theater, I had run to the gym for a quick workout: I suddenly found myself much more motivated than usual to keep fighting the good fight against age and gravity. As I tortured myself on the treadmill, the beginnings of a plan for the evening began taking shape in my mind. By the time I finished my workout, pecs and triceps burning, I was practically vibrating with excitement. And by the time I hit the showers, I had to turn the water down to freezing to keep little Jeff from broadcasting that excitement to the entire locker room.
I had a lot to do to prepare, but condoms and lube had been my first priority. Which is why I was standing there, my hair still damp from my cold shower and a box of Magnums in my hand, when I turned and saw Heather from the play standing just down the aisle. She spotted me at the same time, and we both jumped, each nervously attempting to conceal our purchases from the other before we gave up in embarrassed laughter. There weren't very many reasons for people to be shopping in that particular aisle, and every one of them was highly personal.
"Stocking up, I see," she smiled.
"Uh, yeah. A Boy Scout's always prepared." Which I hadn't been at all last night. Of course, I was never actually a Boy Scout. "So... come here often?" I joked.
She grimaced. "Well, I probably wouldn't need to, if my boyfriend bothered to take the precautions you obviously do." She wouldn't meet my eyes as she indicated the home pregnancy test in her shopping basket.
Oh. Oh my God.
"Oh my God, Heather, really!?! That's fantastic! When?"
"Well... Justin and I got a bit carried away saying goodbye before I left to start rehearsals, so, yeah, probably then. I was so focused on the play I didn't even realize I was late until this morning."
"Do you think you really are...?"
"Only one way to find out," she sighed, finally meeting my gaze. "Um, would you mind not mentioning this to anyone, at least until I know for sure?"
"Absolutely, no problem at all. Hey, if it turns out you are... will you be okay?"
She managed a smile. "Well, Justin and I have talked about it before. It's not like we wouldn't be happy being parents, we just hadn't planned things to happen anywhere near this fast... it's gonna be a huge shock. I think he'll be thrilled, once he's had a chance to adjust to the news. I probably will be, too, but right now..."
Heather struck me as excellent mommy material. She was plenty mature for her twenty-five years, and a born nurturer. But she still looked pale and shaken. I gave her a quick side-hug and told her, "Let me know if there's anything I can do. And if it's worth anything... I know you'll be great."
"Thanks, Jeff. I'll, uh, keep you posted." As she turned toward the registers, she threw back over her shoulder, to where I still stood in front of the condom display: "Get the big box."
I wasn't going to tell her that pregnancy was the least of my concerns, but I took her advice anyway.
* Daniel *
My bag packed with changes of clothes (not that I really planned to be wearing any for most of the next thirty-six hours) and toiletries, I headed to the restroom for some very personal and intimate hygiene. If Jeff wanted me for the weekend, I was damn sure not going to give him any reason to regret it!
A short while later, slightly wobbly-legged, I climbed into the shower and turned it on full blast. As I leaned into the hot spray, images of another shower earlier that morning filled my mind. Jeff's firm, comforting body pressed up against my back. His talented mouth nibbling from my left ear down the side of my neck and back up again. His strong arms wrapped around my torso, one hand stroking my dick while the other teased my nipple. His hard penis sliding deliberately, sensuously up and down the cleft between my ass cheeks, a promise of future delight. I had come so hard he had to hold me upright as he coated my back and butt with his own hot essence. Showering might never be the same for me again.
Only the thought of being able to repeat that experience, and more, very soon and in the flesh, kept me from beating off to the memory. I would definitely have to call on those uncomfortable tight shorts yet again to keep myself properly restrained when I left the apartment.
My phone was blinking at me from the dresser when I walked into the bedroom. I had a new text message. I picked it up and read: "U will tell all. Talk soon. Kel." I sighed and tapped back a message: "Fine. Talk Tues. No sooner. Hi 2 Josh."
I picked out my clothes with more care than usual: dark blue jeans that hung low on my hips and a soft mossy green shirt that Kelly always swore brought out my eyes. I threw a cream sweater and a heavy dark-brown coat over these to fend off the increasing chill in the November air.
Jeff had me beat, though, when he picked me up outside the apartment building. He was wearing a navy cashmere blazer over a sapphire blue open-necked dress shirt and immaculate pressed chinos. A slender gold chain glinted at his throat. He looked every inch the movie star, but his eyes were sparkling like a little boy's when he saw me waiting.
"You, sir, are a sight for sore eyes," he said. "Four hours is far too long to go without a glimpse of that face. Get in here." I tossed my bag into the back of the car and slid into the passenger seat, where he pulled me close for a long, hot, open-mouthed kiss. By the time he finally released me I was nothing more than an incoherent puddle of hormones. Jeff, on the other hand, continued blithely, as if bestowing mind-blowing kisses were as routine as a handshake, "Good, you dressed warm. You'll need it."
When I had recovered my senses adequately, I asked, "Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise!" he answered, sounding immensely pleased with myself.
I'm not too fond of surprises. But he was obviously excited about this one. Well, at least part of him was certainly excited. I could see a very tempting bulge in his pants, and briefly considered going down on him right there in the car. Remembering the death-defying ride to his house the previous night, though, I squashed the urge firmly. No need to tempt fate twice in less than twenty-four hours.
I eventually realized that he was headed for the university campus. This being the Sunday of a long weekend, there were few students about, and he easily found a parking place at the arts school. "Come on," he urged me, hopping out of the car, "it gets dark early this time of year, and we don't want to miss the sunset." Removing a satchel from behind the driver's seat, he captured my hand and led me down the familiar streets toward the theater complex.
I had never walked hand-in-hand with a man when I was a student there.
A pair of freshmen were rehearsing the farewell scene from Romeo and Juliet in the main courtyard when we arrived, and getting a little too obviously into the romance. I would have found this more amusing if I hadn't had the uncomfortable feeling I was acting just as lovesick as they were. Jeff shushed me, unnecessarily, and we skirted the building to a little-used stairway around the back, where we could climb to the rooftop terrace unnoticed.
Jeff must have pulled a few strings with his contacts in the department. Someone had set two chairs and a small table with bread, cheese and fruit right at the spot where the terrace looked out past the courtyard and over the main quad. I walked to the rail and admired the view. I had forgotten how beautiful this place was. The light of the sinking sun turned the buildings pink and caught the remaining autumn leaves on fire, blazing shades of russet, burgundy and gold.
I heard a pop and the sound of pouring liquid behind me. Jeff had produced a bottle from his satchel, and was filling two champagne flutes. When I looked at him apprehensively, he smiled. "Sparkling cider," he assured me. I relaxed. He had remembered my no-alcohol rule. "Come and sit."
I joined him at the table, and he fed me a slice of pear with Brie. "A toast," he suggested. I fumbled for my glass, clinked it against his. "To new beginnings."
I swallowed my mouthful, washed it down with cider. "Do you treat all your new—dates—to romantic rooftop meals?" I had almost choked trying to choose the right word. Boyfriend? Lover? They both sounded premature. I was getting way ahead of myself.
He fed me another slice. Was that his way of asking me to keep quiet? Or did he just enjoy doing that? The way his hand lingered by my mouth told me I was at least right about the enjoying himself part. I felt myself blush.
"I wouldn't know, Daniel," he said softly. "I haven't had any new—dates—in a very long time. You're the first man to catch my interest in six years, and before that I was in a long-term relationship."
I couldn't process that information. Someone like Jeff would have both men and women throwing themselves at him constantly. Surely in six years he must have found some of those prospects at least tempting.
"I brought you here," he said, "because as amazing as last night was, you deserve a proper date. I do wish it were spring, though. And not only because it's going to get really cold up here once the sun goes down. Spring is a time for new beginning.
"Six years ago this spring you graduated from here and headed out into the world for the first time. That same spring, I left my lover, and basically started my whole life over again. But it wasn't until I met you, all this time later, that I felt like that new life of mine had become real."
I was going to do something cliched and humiliating, like faint or weep or jump his bones if he kept saying things like this to me.
Oblivious, he went on. "We both went to this school, worked in this building, studied under some of the same teachers. I love knowing that we share that experience. I'm looking forward to sharing so much more with you."
Actors. Jeff had staged everything for maximum impact: the setting, the romantic gestures, the soft tone of his voice. I hated myself for falling for it. And I loved every minute of it.