Between the Bars Pt. 01bycarsonshepherd©
"Do you know that guy?"
My friend Andrew lifted his chin in the direction of the corner. "Don't look yet, but there's a guy over there who keeps looking this way. He keeps looking at you like he's trying to place you."
"Really? Is he hot?"
"He's not bad," Andrew nodded judiciously with his eyes over my shoulder. "Could use a shave, but I know you like the scruffy type."
I snickered and continued eating my greasy, delicious burger, the sort of thing Neil would have pouted over my eating if he'd been here. But he wasn't, and despite what he thought, my arteries could handle it. "Well tell me when I can look, would you?"
"Look now. He's reading. But be casual."
I rolled my eyes; did my friend think I was a total idiot? A social retard that didn't get out much? Well... okay, that part was true. I didn't get out much, actually, but I still remembered my social skills. Turning sideways in the booth, I leaned back against the wall and took a drink of my beer. This allowed me a view of the corner, and the guy who was sitting at the corner table across the room over my shoulder. An empty plate was pushed back and he was sipping a bottle of Beck's while he read the newspaper with his cheek propped up on his hand, elbow planted on the table.
Not bad? The man was beautiful. An evening ray of sun shone through the window and flooded him like a spotlight and I had to draw my breath just looking at him. The sun painted gold in his shaggy brown hair that fell over his forehead almost to his eyes and flecks of gold illuminated his stubble. I stared at the way his hand cupped his jaw, fingers lightly drumming his cheek as he frowned down at the paper spread in front of him. Dark brows, strong but boyish jaw, probably in his early thirties same as me. Clothes rumpled, like a traveler; a battered leather satchel on the floor next to the chair. He wore jeans, a long-sleeved pullover and lace-up boots. My eyes wandered all the way down to his feet and then back up and I found myself looking into a pair of eyes so blue they startled me even from across the room. He'd caught me staring and he was grinning at me, and I dropped my eyes instantly with my face blazing.
"Dammit," I said under my breath.
Andrew, who'd watched the whole thing, was laughing. "You are so red," he told me. "You're cute when you blush, you know that?"
"Shut up," I snarled at him. I ducked my head to hide my red face. God, I hated blushing in public. It made me feel so self-conscious. If crawling under the table wouldn't have made things even worse, I would've done it.
"He thinks so too," Andrew said relentlessly. "He's still smiling. You should go say hi."
"Yeah, right." I rolled my eyes. Andrew knew better, but he never gave up. He was persistent; I had to give him that. My friends were always trying to get me past my shyness; but most of them had finally accepted it was a lost cause and left me alone, except for Andrew. Ever the optimist.
"I'm gonna go pay our bill." He swung his legs around and went to the bar with our check. I kept my head down, but I could see him cross the room and to my horror, he headed straight to the part of the bar that was right next to the guy. The guy. I knew Andrew, he'd talk to anyone and he was smiling at the guy as the barmaid took the bill from him. I sent him frantic mental messages: Don't do it, don't do it, but it was too late. He was already doing it, turning around and talking to the guy at the table. I groaned, sinking down into my chair.
Nonetheless, I had to watch from under my eyelashes. I watched the guy laugh and reply, and then they both looked at me grinning and I took my cell phone out of my pocket and flipped it open as if I was answering it even though nobody was there. "Hello?" I said to no one. What an idiot I am. "Uh-huh, yeah," I mouthed into the phone while staring down at the floor under the table until finally Andrew came back over with a big smile on his face. I said cheerfully," Okay. Sure, talk to you later," and flipped the phone closed.
"You asshole," I commented as he sat down to finish off his beer. I had turned around to face him so the guy was behind me again and I didn't have to avoid looking at him.
"You're welcome," Andrew smiled. "He's in town on business, just till tomorrow. I told him he should come down to the WETbar tonight and meet us. You're coming, right?"
I groaned and started making my usual excuses. I need to write, but this time Andrew wasn't hearing it.
"You're coming. Don't make me come to your house and drag you out the door. Besides, how many words have you already written this week? How many hours research?"
I made a face.
"You need a break, Rylan. You've hardly been out of that house since Neil moved out. I know you're a writing machine, but you can't work all the time."
"It's not really work." I shrugged; a little embarrassed to admit how much I loved spinning my silly little tales. I loved the research. I loved the urgency of a story that wanted to get out. I loved the letters I got from fans, except the scary ones. Most of them were wonderful people, my fans, but some of them worried me a la Stephen King's Misery, and so I wrote under a pseudonym and guarded my identity jealously. Otherwise, I couldn't be happier with that part of my life.
"I know you love it," Andrew shook his head indulgently. "What is this time? Regency England?"
"Yeah, always a favorite." The readers loved my Regency work and so did I; it was probably my favorite historical period. However, I didn't talk about my in-progress stories and my friends didn't ask, although they did read the free copies when the proofs came in.
"Well, Regency England can live without you for one night. I'll pick you up at ten so be ready."
At ten, I was sitting at my monitor in jogging pants, and Andrew was pounding on my door with his boyfriend Louis and our friend Josie in tow. They stormed in and complained loudly about my not being ready while I threw on some decent clothes. I didn't want to go. I was right in the middle of Chapter 16 and it demanded to be written, but Andrew was right, I hadn't been getting out enough. Sometimes, I'd be startled to realize I hadn't left the house in days. Not that it bothered me. I was perfectly happy writing, cooking, drinking tea and not getting dressed. If it weren't for my friends, I'd stay that way; and sometimes, I didn't even answer their calls.
Ugh. The Friday night bar scene. I wasn't looking forward to this. It was starting to rain, too. Atlanta in December, dreary and cold. Moreover, I wanted to stay home and write. So, my frame of mind wasn't the most cheerful, but I got in Andrew's SUV anyway. They did their best to drag me into their conversation but I stared out the window without seeing what passed outside, instead I saw the cobblestones and carriages of Victorian London.
Spring Street was swarming with drunken people spilling from bars, laughing and stumbling as they made the rounds of the clubs. I cringed inwardly. Just the sort of thing I liked to avoid, but the sooner we got it over with, the sooner I could get home and return to my nice fantasy world, slipping into it like a comfortable bed. The real world could be such an annoyance.
A quick scan of the crowded club when we walked through the door showed that the guy from the café wasn't here, at least not that I could see. I was relieved, but also maybe a little disappointed. Those eyes, so intensely blue... the eyes that every male romantic lead character had, but I'd never actually seen in real life. Male leads had to be scruffy and dashing rogues with a heart of gold. He looked the part but there was a certain spark there, and I had to admit that moment he smiled kept happening repeatedly in my mind, like the birth of the sun.
So, Friday night. The place was packed and I sat at the end of the bar drinking my way through a battalion of pints. Josie talked to me while we watched Andrew and Louis dance. Now, there was a relationship I never thought would last, the 12-year age difference could've been the Grand Canyon. But somehow they made it work, and Louis was the cutest little twink, someone I thought was just a bubblehead at first but I now knew was more serious and grounded than most people a lot older. When they kissed on the dance floor, everything else disappeared for them and they were surrounded by a little dome of light, a glow, their own world where nobody could touch them.
"Wah," Josie pouted as we stared at them and greedily gathered the scraps of their beauty. "Why can't I find that? It's not fair."
I shrugged and downed a long smooth gulp of my beer. I was starting to feel pleasantly toasty. Drinking made me so much more witty and interesting. "You might one day."
"But why can't it be like your books, Ry? I wanna get kidnapped by pirates and be ravished by a pirate captain that I hate at first, and then fall in love with and we live happily ever after."
"That's fantasy," I snickered. "You know it's not real. Drew and Louis are just lucky sons-of-bitches. Nobody gets to have what they have. I don't even want it myself."
"Such a cynic," she shook her head. "You're just saying that because Neil fucked you over."
My cynicism was famous and alcohol only made it more pronounced. "Neil had nothing to do with it. He knew about me going into to it. I warned him I'm not romantic, I don't do the touchy feely crap."
"I know, but you must have it in you somewhere... your books are so romantic, you can't be as hard and cynical as you pretend."
"I am. Like I said, that's fantasy." I was really getting a head of steam now and other people around us were even starting to listen. If I'd been sober, I would've been mortified but drunk I didn't mind yammering to a crowd. "In those stories, everybody finds their soul mate and lives happily ever after. People buy the stories because they love the fantasy. But in real life, it just doesn't happen. There is no happily ever after because the plot lines aren't wrapped up neatly in the last chapter. The subplots don't get resolved. Nothing ever fits into a chapter outline. That's what makes reality such a fucking drag."
Someone laughed and that only encouraged me.
"Now Neil... he wanted a soul mate. He wanted someone to understand him and be there for him. He wanted an emotional crutch and he wanted it to be me, even though I told him that isn't my thing. I told him I need space, and he couldn't handle it. I don't want a soul mate. I don't need that level of emotional involvement. I need to concentrate on my work. I need to be able to withdraw when I'm writing and not have someone pouting or throwing a tantrum because I'm not paying attention to them. And I warn these men, but they can't accept it." I shook my head in amazement. "I don't think I ask for much in a relationship... I just want a nice quiet, peaceful domestic arrangement with no drama, and someone who leaves me alone when it suits me. I'll even cook and you know I'm a great cook."
"And I'll bet you have men lined up around the block," said a husky stranger's voice in my ear. I felt a hand on my arm at the same moment I turned around quickly and saw those brilliant blue eyes and the sunburst smile from the café. I flushed, but instead of going into full blushing-and-stammering mode, I just grinned. Ah beer, the great social equalizer.
"Oh yeah. Who could turn down all this?" I held my hands to present myself and earned the full intensity of his smile. It actually made my heart give a little jump and the almost-forgotten thrill of brand-new lust zipped over my nerve endings as he wrapped his arm around me and drew me off the barstool.
"Nobody I know," he growled in my ear. "Come dance with me."
"I don't dance," I protested but I was going with him, letting him pull me, waving to Josie as she watched in amusement from the bar.
"That's okay, I don't either."
It all worked out because the dance floor was crowded enough that even if either one of us could dance, there wouldn't have been much room. Instead, he locked his arms around me and we swayed to the techno beat; he felt so good. I slid my hands around his waist and up his lower back, feeling the curve of his muscles under the shirt and his body against me, and soon we were grinding together. He was a couple of inches taller and his thigh fit firmly between my legs, pressed against my crotch, so that every time I moved I rubbed my cock against it. I was hard now, hard and tingling. My blood raced through my veins and reminded me of what I'd been missing. I didn't even know this guy's name but I didn't care. I moaned in my throat as his hands caught my hips and pulled me against him making my whole body recoil from a massive jolt of sexual energy. This guy, whoever the fuck he was, radiated it, smelled of it.
"So," he breathed in my ear. Words casual but deep, husky rumble conveyed layers of hidden meaning. "What's your name?"
The fact that he'd picked up my thoughts could've alarmed me but it didn't. I was past caring, my fingers fumbling with the back of his shirt, tugging it from the waistband of his jeans. I told him my name and he laughed softly as my hands found his warm, smooth skin beneath the shirt. Goddamn it, he felt good. Muscles tight, rippling, flesh that could make me lose my way.
"Nice to meet you, Rylan."
It was not lost on me even in my sex-clouded state that he didn't mispronounce my name Ryan like people invariably did, and I always ended up annoyed and correcting them. I tilted my chin back and lightly nipped the outside edge of his ear while I answered softly, "Nice to meet you too..."
"Daniel," he supplied, catching his breath. That encouraged me and I nibbled down to the lobe, letting my breath tickle him so that he shivered in a very sexy way. His hands were suddenly on my ass, firmly grabbing my butt cheeks, and moving with my hips so I was slowly and steadily humping his leg on the dance floor with everyone watching. This kind of exhibition was unheard of for me but I was so fucking turned on right now, I didn't care who stared.
"So, Daniel." I barely managed to form the words without groaning. "If you go get us a cab, I'll tell my friends I'm outta here."
He drew back and met my eyes, but nodded. As he broke away, his tongue flicked out and softly brushed the corner of my lips that were parted for my breath, and left me stunned.
With his body gone, I felt bereft and I stood still a moment, reeling with desire, before I could summon the will to move. When my limbs would obey my brain, I made my way over to Andrew and Louis, who were standing at the edge of the room talking to a couple of friends. They grinned and tried to draw me into the conversation but I shook my head impatiently and tugged Andrew back.
"Really?" He eyed me and noticed the breathy and slightly flushed state I was in, and he laughed. "Not alone, I assume?"
"Not the guy from the café?" he demanded, eyes lighting up like a kid at Christmas.
"Yeah. Him." I half-grinned and half-choked, ending up gasping for air as I felt a little stab of nervousness creep into my gut. "What the fuck am I doing Andrew?"
"Taking him back to your place and fucking the hell out of him, idiot." He gave me a little shove and I took the hint heading toward the coat check near the door, where Daniel was just hanging up the phone and collecting his bag and leather jacket from the coat check girl. He looked up at me and grinned and I felt my cock give a little twitch in my jeans, which were uncomfortably tight just now.
"Cab's on its way," he said as I claimed my own jacket. Catching the sleeve, he pulled it on me and I found myself facing him and his mouth coming down on mine... I gasped and he took the opportunity to slide the tip of his tongue past my lips and give me a sweet, too-brief taste of him. Lips so soft and stubble a bit rough, scraping my tender skin, making it burn. He pulled away and left me hungry and wanting more, smiled at me and gave me a little push through the door to where our cab waited at the curb outside in the rain.
"Is it a long way?"
Daniel nuzzled my ear in the back seat of the cab while the rain pelted the windows in a captivating rhythm. I could see the eyes of the middle-aged black man who drove looking at us in the rearview mirror now and then, so I refrained from sticking my tongue down his throat the way I wanted to.
"Torturously long," I whispered against his cheek. "But that's okay... you can wait, can't you?"
We settled into the backseat with our hands in our own jacket pockets and a little space between us, but I couldn't stay away and I inched closer. I just wanted the outsides of our thighs to touch, just a little. Just enough to feel the electricity his touch sent through me. I squirmed impatiently and he noticed, smirking at me under his lashes. Even in the dark, in the rain-splashed flashes of lights from signs, streetlights and the headlights of passing traffic, his eyes were so brilliant.
He leaned his head closer to mine against the back seat. "I can wait," he whispered, a breath in my ear. "But can you?" and his eyes dropped to my lap where the outline of my hard cock pressed against the top of my thigh.
"You know," he kept on, soft and relentless, "the first thing I noticed about you when I saw you was your smile, laughing at something your friend said. I kept looking up at you to see if you were smiling again. I was drawn to your lips... the way you licked them after you took a drink of your beer..."
This made me blush and I laughed, staring down while his breath brushed my cheek.
"And you turned around and stared at me, up and down before I looked up. Oh yeah," he laughed softly, "I knew the whole time. You were so sexy when you blushed. I wanted to drag you to the john and bend you over the sink but didn't think I'd see you again... which would have been a shame. It would've been a shame because I kept looking at your lips and thinking what they could do to me... kissing down my chest and my belly and wrapping around my cock..."
A gasping squeak came from me. I couldn't help it. His words were getting to me no matter how I tried to fight it. I was the man of steel, dammit, and he was melting me into a puddle without a single touch. Just a low, husky, slightly southern whisper in my ear under the eyes of the cabbie that was plainly worried about what might happen in his back seat.
"I think your lips would be pretty around my cock," Daniel whispered and my belly clenched, abs flexing in an effort not to rub myself against my jeans. My hands balled up into fists in my jacket pocket as he kept on and I shivered from his husky voice in my ear.
"I want to see you lick my balls because I love that. Then I want to watch you lick my cock up and down while you unbutton your pants and play with yourself."
I gasped without meaning to. Dammit. My cock ached and he grinned at my stricken look, my hungry breath. He was enjoying this. My fidgeting was uncontrollable and I raked my fingers through my hair. Watching me, he nodded.
"Yeah, do that," he laughed softly, "'cause that's what I'll be doing while you're sucking the head of my dick... I'll be tugging on your hair and making you moan. You'll like that, won't you? Having your hair pulled?"
His own breath was getting jerky as he kept up his barrage of images.
"I love watching someone who really loves sucking cock. You get this look on your face, you know that? I love looking down and seeing that look, seeing your eyes looking up at me while my cock is down your throat. But know what else I like?"
There was a pause and I closed my eyes and gulped a breath. I shuddered. But this time, he didn't keep on. He stopped and waited. I opened my eyes and saw he was waiting for me to ask him what he liked. I swallowed and licked my dry lips. It wasn't easy for me to say things like this. I didn't want to look stupid or say something that would humiliate me later, but I had to this time. I had to if I wanted him to not stop.