Backstage Romance Ch. 07byikhneumon©
* Jeff *
I would have died rather than let anything on to Daniel, but my heart was pounding as we walked into the karaoke bar together. The sweetheart thought I was the one being brave for us both by holding his hand; in reality, I needed his touch to get me through this.
I know what you're thinking, you're just saying hi to your boyfriend's friend, who's pretty much already figured out the score. You've met her before and you liked her, so what's there to be scared about?
Truth? I'd never had to seek approval from anyone before. My liaisons before Timothy had all been short-term flings, and his strict rules about keeping up professional appearances had kept me from ever having to face this situation during our relationship. Kelly was as close to family as I was likely to meet with Daniel; her goodwill was going to be essential to our going forward. And I so very badly wanted to keep going forward. How far forward, I wasn't ready to explore yet, but I damn well wouldn't let go of him while I figured it out.
Things started out easily enough. There were no awkward announcements or explanations to be made; sure enough, Kelly had already deduced that Daniel and I had hooked up. My only real responsibility was giving an honest enough account of our time together without straying near the category of too-much-information. I had a feeling, though, that with Kelly there was no such thing, and she would wheedle the sordid details out of Daniel at a later date. Just so long as I didn't have to be there for it.
My alarm bell went off when she dismissed Daniel so she could "give your man the third degree." He looked mutinous, but shuffled off toward the bar, looking back over his shoulder at me. When I turned back from watching him go, Kelly was looking at me through narrowed eyes. She was still smiling, but now it was the smile of a predator that was stalking its prey.
"Let's get one thing straight, right off the bat, okay, lover boy?"
"I like you." Why does that not comfort me? "More importantly, Daniel likes you. A lot. In fact, if I'm not completely mistaken, he's head-over-heels in love with you."
I had absolutely no problem with that, though I was afraid she was reading too much into my beautiful boy's heart and head. "Believe me, Kelly, whatever Daniel's feeling, that feeling's mutual."
"It had better be. Because he's been through more than enough grief without a charmer like you coming along and breaking his heart. It's taken two years since his last train wreck of a relationship for him to be willing to take a chance again. Josh and I were starting to worry he might not ever be ready to dive back into the dating pool." I experienced a moment of blind fury toward whoever had hurt my baby like that. Why hadn't Daniel told me anything about this?
Instead of elaborating, though, Kelly continued, "If you value your manhood, don't. Screw. This. Up. If you hurt my friend, I will hunt you down and make you pay for it."
I think I actually cowered in my seat. At the same time, I couldn't help thinking, She would make a magnificent Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream. "Though she be but little, she is fierce," indeed! "Kelly, I would never consciously do anything to hurt Daniel," I protested. "Whenever I see him, all I want is to put my arms around him and keep him safe."
She relaxed, but still kept her eyes trained on me. "Then we should get along just fine. Which is good, because I liked you from the first. If nothing else, you're awfully nice to look at, so I really want to keep liking you."
I fervently prayed that I would never give this redheaded mother bear any reason to dislike me. My balls would probably be the least of the price I paid. But if, God forbid, I ever wound up breaking Daniel's heart, I thought I might just hand her the knife myself and tell her to go right ahead.
That thought was still prodding at my gut when Daniel returned from where he had been chatting with the bartender. He smiled at me, but looked daggers at Kelly. Clearly, he suspected that she'd been threatening me on his behalf, and did not appreciate it. Well, I couldn't say that I'd exactly enjoyed it either, but I suppose it had needed to be said. Now I clearly had a double challenge on my hands. I had to convince mama bear that I would be good to her cub. And I had to follow through on that promise with Daniel, who, if what Kelly said was true, was more fragile than I had realized.
Thinking of his enthusiastic responses in bed—and on the living room floor, and in the shower, and that was just a few items checked off my to-do list—fragile didn't quite seem the right word. But then I remembered Daniel's shy habit of hiding his face when he was emotional, or the mind-boggling fact that no one seemed to have ever romanced him before, or his insecurity over my past relationship with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Yes, my boy and his best girl both needed my reassurance, and the sooner and more often, the better. Well, was I an actor or wasn't I? Surely I could come up with some sort of extravagant romantic gesture to express my honorable—okay, well, at least honest—intentions to them both.
As luck would have it, whatever aging queen managed the karaoke bar had the good taste to stock plenty of old classics alongside the latest Beyoncé and Rihanna singles. The title "Danny Boy" caught my eyes and I knew I had found my gesture.
A moment to brag just a little bit. I'm no triple threat. Ask me to dance, anything beyond a basic waltz or two-step, and on a very good day in a dimly lit room I might barely rate "stiff but adequate." But I know I have a good voice. I picked up the singing bug in high school, and took lessons all through college. As a performer, you have to develop any talent that might give you the advantage over all the other hungry actors vying for your role. I hadn't needed to use that ability professionally very often since I left Broadway, but I still kept the vocal cords limber. Living alone does have some advantages: You can practice all you like without driving a partner or roommate to homicide.
I knew I had chosen right when I saw Kelly sit upright and raise her eyebrows, her tight smile broadening. A true Irish romantic, she was eating this up. But my song was directed at Daniel, and I nearly choked up myself when I saw it hit home. He melted, right there in front of me. I kept one eye on the lyrics and the other on him, and watched all the guardedness vanish from his face. What was left was the kind of naked emotion I had only seen from him when we were making love, and when we had first collided with each other on Halloween night. A man would move mountains to see that kind of look on his beloved's face, cross deserts to keep it there as long and as often as possible. Oh, Danny Boy, I love you so.
One thing singing does for me, it calms me down and clears my head. There's something about the focus on the breath, on forming each word so much more deliberately than when you speak, all the while keeping both the line of the music and the meaning of the text intact. It's downright consciousness-expanding. I hadn't felt so relaxed and at peace since, well, since my last four or five orgasms with Daniel. Singing is, if not quite as good as sex, almost in the same category.
It also, I now discovered, makes for unbelievable foreplay.
Daniel took me by the hand and practically dragged me out of the karaoke bar almost as soon as I had returned to my seat. The expression on Kelly's face as we said good night was comical—half awestruck, half mirthful. I don't think she had ever seen the horndog side of her best friend before. Feeling him twitch and fidget next to me in the car as I drove home, I thought I might not yet have truly seen it either. We were barely through the front door when he was all over me, sucking on my tongue and climbing my body like a vine. My God, to have someone like him this hot for me... what did I ever do to deserve this?
I carried him to the bedroom and stripped him down. The song had been as much for Kelly's benefit as for his; this was part two of my demonstration, the part for Daniel alone. The part where I lavished his body with as much loving attention as I could possibly muster. Remembering his hair-trigger response the first time I went down on him, I teased him for as long as I could stand it, gently opening him with my fingers while denying his cock access to my mouth. Once I had him squirming, panting and cursing at me, I used everything I had learned about his body in the past three days—the sensitivity of his nipples, the sweet receptiveness of his ass, his sheer delight in being petted and pleasured—to bring him to as quick and devastating a climax as I could contrive.
In the process, I worked myself up to such a state I surprised myself by shooting off in my pants when he filled my mouth with his cream. Another first—even as a teenager, I had never come without some kind of touch. Being with Daniel was becoming a whole series of surprising, incredible discoveries. Just cleaning him up and cradling him afterward was like exploring a new world of tenderness.
All for you, baby, all for you. Oh Danny Boy, I love you so.
* Daniel *
Wednesday's rehearsal was gruelling. Not only did I have to finish drilling scene seven with Joseph, I had to give him a quick review of the rest of the play to make sure he was up to speed. Scott was on hand most of the day to provide criticism and input, but it was slow, frustrating work. Still, Joseph made steady progress, and by the end of the day, Scott was sure that he would be ready to join the rest of the cast Thursday afternoon.
At the lunch break, I checked in with Mark. Before long, I would be rejoining him instead of being off on my own, and we needed to be on the same page when that happened. Dress rehearsals were about to start. Apart from juggling all the props, there were relatively few technical pitfalls in this production, but that certainly didn't mean we could expect this to go smoothly without careful preparation on our part.
Jeff waved to me as he walked past to get his own lunch. I smiled happily, devouring the man with my eyes. God, he looked fantastic, that face, that smile, that ass... Mark cleared his throat, bringing me back to business. Thankfully, he refrained from whatever comment he wanted to make, but he didn't look pleased. Mark never had liked hearing about my love life, I remembered. We managed to cover the remainder of Scott's notes about the changes I had missed without any further interruption. But I didn't forget the expression on Mark's face.
That night, lying in bed next to and partially draped over Jeff, drowsy and still slightly sticky, I asked him, "Has anyone said anything to you about us? Besides Scott, I mean."
He was stroking my head absently, the way you would pet a cat. If I could have purred for him, I would have. Then again, he'd just about had me howling like a dog half an hour earlier. Gave a whole new meaning to the term "doggy style."
"Angela and Heather congratulated me yesterday, so I guess that means they approve," he answered. "I haven't heard anything from Christina about it, one way or the other. Why, did Joseph say something?"
"No, I'm not sure he even knows; or if he does, either he doesn't care or he has too much on his plate to think about it. Makes sense, really, between losing a relative and playing catch-up on the play. But I was actually thinking about Mark. He didn't look too happy when he saw me smiling at you today."
"Is he a homophobe? He's always seemed pretty level-headed."
"He's never said anything against gay people that I heard. I don't know, maybe he just wanted me to keep my mind on the job, not on your ass."
His other hand shifted down to knead my butt. "Glad he couldn't read my mind, then, 'cause your ass was just about all I could think about today."
"Pervert." I smiled. We both knew I wouldn't have it any other way. God, there was magic in those fingers. "But seriously, should I be worried about him causing trouble?"
"You know him a whole lot better than I do, but if we follow Scott's rules and keep things hands-off during working hours, Mark really doesn't have any grounds to complain, does he?"
"Yeah, that hands-off thing's going to be tough once we're back to working on the same set together tomorrow." I emphasized my words by sliding my hand up Jeff's thigh to fondle his balls. He moaned in half-hearted protest, increasing his own attention to my butt cheek and dipping one finger into the crack to play with my well-stretched hole.
"Baby, I'm eight years older than you. Give me a little time to recover between sessions, would you?"
"What, you want me to stop?" I ran one finger along the length of his dick and circled the head.
"Don't you fucking dare." He pulled my head up to his for a kiss.
Jeff might have been a bit older than me, but that didn't stop him from pounding me into the mattress once I had him fully erect again.
* * *
Despite my misgivings, Mark made no comments about me and Jeff on Thursday, nor did any of the cast members. Angela, who had always been friendly, was warmer than usual, smiling brightly at me when we walked in. Heather and Christina, on the other hand, both seemed a bit standoffish. Joseph, as usual, was in his own world, preoccupied with trying not to trip over his own feet.
His hard work had paid off, though, and at the end of the day, the rest of the cast gave him an enthusiastic round of applause. The team was back together and in sync again, and you could feel everyone's spirits lift at the realization.
Before he dismissed them for the night, Scott made a short speech. "I want to thank Joseph for all his hard work and professionalism during a very tough time, emotionally. We all know the last week hasn't been easy for you, and we're all impressed at what you've accomplished under pressure.
"I also need to thank Daniel for somehow being a stage manager, an understudy, and an assistant director all at once, and for being such a huge help to Joseph and to me." Scattered applause, and a muffled whoop from Jeff. Scott rolled his eyes at that, but didn't seem too put out. "We're about to start hell week, so everybody get as much rest as you can. You all know what tech rehearsals can be like. Be patient with each other and with the crew, try to relax, and have fun with it!"
Fun might be Scott's word for it, but not mine. Hell week is aptly named: The final week of rehearsals before opening night, when all the pieces have to come together—acting, sets, lighting, costumes, props, sound, the works. Even on fairly easy shows, stress levels run high as everyone tries to identify and resolve any potential issues before the play goes in front of an audience.
To make matters worse, whoever had scheduled the show had put our opening night on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That meant at the height of dress rehearsals, we would have to take a day off and risk losing our momentum. Joseph was flying out to spend the holiday with his family, which everyone agreed was only right, given their recent loss. There was even a discreet collection among the cast and theater staff to help offset his airfare, since the poor guy had spent a huge chunk of his paycheck on last-minute flights.
A board member and her husband had offered to host the three girls and Scott at their own Thanksgiving celebration. But Jeff would be leaving Wednesday night to visit family out of town, and not returning until late the following night. Kelly and Josh were happy to include me on most of the major holidays, so I was taken care of. I didn't mind not spending Thanksgiving with Jeff; our plans had been made long before we hooked up. But it would be the first time we had spent the night apart in ten days. I couldn't believe how pathetically forlorn I felt at the prospect.
We had our private goodbye the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, in a long, slow, tender lovemaking session that would have to hold us through the next two nights. Since we were averaging two orgasms a day together, I figured the separation could turn out to be either a nasty shock or a welcome reprieve for our overtaxed bodies. Either way, it would be difficult emotionally. Neither of us seemed to be able to find the brakes on this relationship, not that we were really inclined to look for them.
I was lying on my back treating Jeff's balls to a particularly loving and thorough tongue bath when a sudden impulse took hold of me and drove me further back. I swear, I didn't even have time to think before I acted: It was only when Jeff's moaning rose an octave that I realized for the first time in my life I was rimming a man! I froze, trying to process this novel, unexpected experience, while Jeff panted above me.
Early exposure to a particularly unfortunate strain of commercial porn had discouraged me from ever trying this before. Said porn involved straight guys who were perfectly willing to let their carrot be waxed by another man for money, so long as they didn't have to do any of the dirty work themselves. So rimming had become synonymous in my mind with a particularly submissive (okay, guilty as charged, but, please!) kind of guy who'll do anything to get a man off without expecting any reciprocation.
On second thought, I'd pretty much already played that role with my last boyfriend, so who was I fooling? And Jeff had demonstrated on more than one occasion that he was more than happy to send me into the empyrean with his phenomenal oral technique, so exactly who was the one withholding here? Golden Rule, Daniel, Golden Rule. Do unto others...
I pulled my mind into the here and now just as Jeff finally put his feelings into words. "Daniel, goddamn it, if this is payback for me being a cock tease last week, I'm sorry. Just don't start something like that if you're not going to finish the job. I can't survive it!"
Moment of introspection over, I grinned and plunged back in. Now that I was past the sheer novelty of the sensation, I was able to savor the texture of his delicate, creased skin, and the way it trembled and flexed beneath my probing, caressing tongue. I felt high on the power of stimulating him; how could I ever have thought this was a submissive thing to do? Jeff was as into this as I was, if his squirming, the increasing volume of his moans and the liberal amount of pre-cum his penis was drooling onto my chest were any indication.
All too soon, he gasped, "Gotta come, babe. Make me come." A few quick, firm strokes with my hand were all it took before he was groaning my name and spewing all over me, himself, and the bed. Feeling absurdly smug at my accomplishment, I made a mental note to buy him new sheets for Christmas. His were all going to fade or go threadbare, as much as he'd had to wash them lately.
When Jeff's breathing had calmed, he exclaimed, "You... you... damn, where did you come from?" He scooted around beside me, rolled me onto my side, and spooned me, curling around my body with his semen smeared between us. "You do things to me I never dreamed possible!"
I snuggled into his embrace, basking in my closeness to him as much as the praise. "Guess you bring out the best in me. God, that was hot!"
"You're telling me! Baby, what am I gonna do without you for two nights?"
"Beat off and send me the pictures. I'll be doing the same."
His warm, melodious chuckle in my ear sent tingles down my spine and right to my root chakra. "And what can I do to thank you for what you did just now?" His hand was already sliding delightfully over my begging dick.
I shifted my hips back, pressing my butt against his spent, resting sex. "I think you're on the right track already." His lips pressed into my neck as he increased the tempo of his strokes.