Backstage Romance Ch. 11byikhneumon©
* Jeff *
Timothy and I hadn't seen or spoken to one another in more than six years. He still looked fantastic, impeccably dressed, with his beard close-trimmed. He was always fanatical about keeping his facial hair perfectly groomed, I remembered. He looked surprised and amused, and I suddenly realized I was standing almost naked in front of him.
"Timothy! Sorry, I just finished... I was getting ready to... Just give me a minute, will you?" Fortunately there was a robe hanging from a hook on the back of the door, so I wrapped it around me before dropping the towel and reaching for my street clothes.
"I'm sorry to take you by surprise like this, Jeff. I should have left word for you to expect me, but I didn't want to distract you before the performance. Which I enjoyed very much, by the way." He still had that same rich dark-chocolate voice, both sensual and maddeningly matter-of-fact. Everything I knew about projecting an image of calm and control I'd learned from him, and he could still beat me at it hands down. Of course, he wasn't the one dealing with the disadvantage of being caught undressed in front of his ex. As I fumbled with my pants, he commented, "You know, I have seen you naked a few times before. You don't need to be so modest on my behalf."
I straightened, buttoning my fly, and flushed. "I think we're a little bit beyond that now, aren't we, Timothy? It has been six years. Going on seven, now."
He at least had the decency to look chagrined. "I know exactly how long it's been, Jeff. To the day. I also know that you're an even better actor now than you were when you left. You were terrific tonight. I'm so proud of you."
"Maybe it's easier to be proud of a protégé when you're no longer sleeping with him." I immediately hated the way I sounded, spiteful and vindictive. He had always been able to bring out the worst in me, while he somehow managed to sound unruffled and reasonable, playing the adult to my man-child. "I'm sorry, Timothy, you made the trip all the way out here to see the play, I shouldn't be dragging up old baggage. Thank you for the compliment. I know you don't give idle praise."
He had been hurt by that last shot, I could tell, but he kept his composure. His voice was still soft. Even his brown eyes were still warm. "No, Jeff, I don't give idle praise. Nor do I attend community theater productions on a whim. I know I'm no longer welcome in your life, and I've respected that all these years. I came out here for professional reasons. Well, mostly professional. I have missed seeing you. But I really wanted to find out if you were still as good an actor as I remembered. And you are, much better.
"I have a new project coming up, and I'd like you to be a part of it. The script's by Rebecca Sutton, the same playwright who wrote the piece you just performed tonight. It's fantastic, Jeff, the best screenplay I've ever had to work with. You proved to me this evening that you have what it takes to do her words justice." He stepped closer to me. "This movie could be huge, Jeff. It could make you the star I always knew you could be. I never stopped looking, you know. Even after you left, I kept my eyes open for the right vehicle for you. This is it. I know there's bad history between us, but we always worked well together. Would you be willing to come back to Hollywood for some screen tests?"
I didn't know what to say. Two months ago I might have said yes without hesitation.
"Timothy," I began.
"Wait," he interrupted me. "Let me say something else." He paused a moment, as if steeling himself for something painful. "Six years ago I watched you get in a taxi and drive away from me, and did nothing to stop you or try to win you back. I was wrong then. I'm not expecting us to return to the relationship we had, certainly not any time in the near future. But we were good together, Jeff, not just as lovers, but as a team, as actor and director. Can you at least give us that much of a chance again? I honestly can't think of anyone else I would want more for this part."
He was good. Frighteningly so. Even knowing he was giving me a sales pitch, I found myself moved by the sincerity in his voice. I closed my eyes, focused on buttoning my shirt instead of looking at him. "Timothy, that decision involves more than just the two of us. I'm seeing someone now. Someone very special to me. I can't just run off to Hollywood for a few months or more to make a movie—with my ex-boyfriend, no less—and expect him to be okay with it. Not without at least having a serious discussion about what that would mean for our relationship." I opened my eyes and looked at him.
Timothy's smile became suddenly less convincing. "You've found someone new? I guess my source wasn't as good as I thought. I'll have to address that. Word was you'd thrown yourself into your work and hadn't shown the slightest time or interest for a relationship." He shook his head. "Good for you, Jeff. I'd like to meet this guy sometime. He must really be special indeed. You were never one to give praise lightly either, as I recall."
I heard the edge in his voice, saw the steely gleam in his eye, and stood up straighter. If I could voice my feelings for Daniel to the man he had replaced in my heart, how hard could it be after this to say them to Daniel himself?
"He is special, Timothy. I love him. And I appreciate you respecting that." I hoped I hadn't laid too strong an emphasis on the last sentence. Then I hoped I had emphasized it enough.
Timothy looked at me appraisingly for a moment. "I'll be heading out, then. Once you've had that talk, call me and let me know your decision. I think I can afford to wait a couple weeks... for an old friend."
He walked to the door, opened it, and stepped out into the hallway, where he turned, producing a business card, which he slipped into my shirt pocket. "In case you didn't remember my number," he murmured, a little wistfully. Back in control of himself again, he raised a hand and stroked my cheek. "Good luck, Jeff. You deserve the best. You always have. Let me know what you decide." He brushed my lips with his, and left.
I watched him disappear down the hallway, then went back into the dressing room and rinsed my mouth out at the sink.
* Daniel *
Jeff had rushed into the theater with barely enough time left to get into his costume and makeup, muttering something about lunch with the Professor and speed traps. But once he was out on stage, he threw himself into the performance. The rest of the cast responded to his energy, and the audience followed along willingly, giving the cast the loudest, most enthusiastic applause we had heard the entire run. Listening to the whistling and cheering, Mark and I looked at each other with what were probably identical looks of pleased surprise.
"They'll all be full of themselves tonight," was his only comment. But there was a smile on his face. Everyone shares the high of a response like that, onstage or off.
We finally brought the curtain down and started resetting the stage for the next evening's performance while the cast dispersed to their dressing rooms. It felt like it took ages, when all I wanted was to join Jeff and share the exhilaration he must be feeling. Just as I had things nearly wrapped up, Christina intercepted me. She was wearing the proverbial little black dress under her winter coat. Someone had a hot date tonight. "Daniel, I need to talk to you about something."
I sighed inwardly and gave her my attention. "Yes, Christina, what is it?"
"When I come offstage at the end of scene six, I have to pass off the letter I'm carrying to Joseph. But he's entering from the opposite side of the stage, and I have a costume change during the next scene. Could you or one of the stagehands help with the handover so I'm not running late and out of breath on my next entrance?"
I had never noticed Christina being either late or out of breath in scene eight. But sometimes actors do need just a little bit of psychological reinforcement, that one tiny distraction cleared out of the way to get a piece of business right. I assumed my best professional eager-to-please expression.
"I'm so sorry, Christina. No one knew that was giving you any difficulty. I'm surprised you didn't say something about it much sooner. I'll make a note in the production book to do that from now on."
"That would be terrific, thank you so much. I'm sorry to make such a fuss."
"No problem, Christina."
I smiled politely and turned toward the dressing rooms. She moved with me, blocking my way.
"Oh, and one other thing, Daniel, if you don't mind?"
I kept my words polite, but I knew my face was giving away my impatience. "Of course, go ahead."
She looked around and lowered her voice. "You know Heather's having trouble with morning sickness, don't you?"
I didn't know. Heather hadn't said a single word about it.
"Has she been sick during performances?" I asked.
"Well, not yet, thank God," Christina admitted, "but I thought you might want to know. So you can take precautions. Just in case."
"Of course. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I'll keep an eye on her. And a bucket in the wings. Just in case."
"You're a doll. It's clear what Jeff sees in you." I shushed her. We were still technically keeping our relationship under wraps, after all. She patted my arm. "Sorry, forgot. Hush-hush." She winked. "Oh, gotta run, there's my date!" She scurried across to the stage door, where a dark-haired, bearded man in a suit stood waiting in the shadows. She put her arm around his waist, he slung his arm over her shoulder, and they left the building together.
Relieved that she was gone, I made notes in the production book for the changes she had requested and headed up to Jeff's dressing room. He was probably wondering why I hadn't been there earlier to congratulate him on his stunning performance. Well, I could probably make that up to him when we got back home.
Home. I was thinking of Jeff's place as home now. Weird. But somehow it felt right.
He jerked open his door almost the instant I knocked, pulled me into his dressing room, and kissed me, long, deep, and passionately. By the time he released me, my head was swimming with adoration and lust. "Hello, baby," he crooned in my ear. "I can't tell you how glad I am to see you. God, what a night!"
I relaxed against his chest. "That was one hell of a performance, babe." Now I was the one using endearments. It must be contagious. "Congratulations."
He kissed the side of my head. "Everything wrapped up here? All ready to go?" I nodded happily. More than ready.
The theater was dark and vacant by the time we left, and we took our time ambling toward the door, my arm wrapped around Jeff's waist, his arm around my shoulder. I was reminded of Christina and her date, leaving in exactly the same fashion. "Hey, do you know who Christina was going out with tonight?" I asked idly.
Jeff thought about it a moment. "I don't remember her saying anything about a date. Why, did you see him?"
"Yeah, tall guy, dark hair, beard, glasses. Wore an expensive-looking suit. I didn't get a good look at his face, just saw them leaving together."
Jeff stopped short. "Really? The two of them. Together?"
"Well, yeah, she did say he was her date."
There was a peculiar expression on his face, a sort of dawning comprehension mixed with both anger and humor. "I see. How interesting. She's a sly one, that Christina. Watch out for her, Daniel. I'm not sure we can trust her."
"Why, because she dates mysterious dark-haired strangers and tried to give you relationship advice once?" I joked.
Jeff wasn't amused. "Because if that date of hers is who I think he was, she has no business giving anyone relationship advice."
I looked at him inquiringly, but he shrugged his shoulders and refused to say anything more.
* * *
When we got home—there's that word again, home, wasn't home for me supposed to be my apartment?—Jeff was all over me. I had barely recovered from one attack, on my neck, say, or the inside of my wrist, when he was kissing and nibbling some other part of me. He couldn't seem to bear breaking contact with me for a second. It must have taken half an hour to make our way from the front door to the bedroom, and another ten minutes to get our clothes off. My briefs were sopping wet with pre-cum by the time Jeff finally peeled them off me and pushed me back onto the bed.
"So hot," he murmured, slicking the moisture along my dick. "So sweet," he followed that up with a lick from my collarbone along my neck to my earlobe. "So tight," and his finger was circling my hole, triggering nerve endings that sent shivers up my spine. "Need you, babe," he begged, coaxing my body open gently. "Need to be inside you. Need to make love to you."
"God, Jeff, I want you, too," I breathed, pushing out to allow him entry. Whatever had sparked this need in him, I was following him right into the abyss. By the time he had three fingers lodged inside me I was the one begging and cursing, my head thrashing back and forth with the need to feel our bodies merge. When at last he was satisfied that I was ready for him, he rolled a condom over his magnificent erection and doused himself in lube. I lifted my legs to allow him access, but he shook his head.
"Wait," he said, "I want to try something different." Pulling me back up off the bed, he knelt on the floor facing me, then maneuvered me onto his lap and had me straddle him. His cock brushed enticingly against my bud. "Ready?" he asked. I nodded. Slowly he slid into me. I tilted my head back, relishing the slight burn and the sensation of being stretched and filled.
Once he was firmly seated inside me, Jeff eased me back so that I was supporting my own weight with my hands planted on the floor behind me. I had never had sex this way. I wondered if Jeff had seen the position in a book about kama sutra or something. Then he thrust into me, and I screamed as his dick slammed right into my prostate.
"Did I hurt you, baby?" he asked, panicked.
Hurt me? Was he kidding? "Do that again, please!"
He complied. "Oh my God. Don't stop!"
Assured that I was all right, Jeff started pounding up into me, while I panted and whimpered and wondered if I would pass out from the sensation. He was just as lost in his need as I was, keeping up a steady chant of "Daniel, Daniel, Daniel" in rhythm to his thrusts.
It was too much, too intense. I came like a fountain, spraying all over both of us. Jeff wasn't there yet; he rolled me onto my back, into missionary position, and kept up the assault on my ass for several minutes more.
"Oh God, babe," he keened. "OhGodohGodohGod..."
"On me, Jeff!" I begged. "Come on my chest, baby!"
He barely got the condom off in time. His hot cream splattered across my body, pooling in my navel, at the base of my breastbone, and in the hollow of my throat while he furiously jacked his dick, roaring like an animal.
He collapsed on top of me, completely spent. I could feel his arms and legs trembling with exertion and the aftereffects of his climax. Jeff could do this at times, I had learned, lose himself so completely in his orgasm that I had to coax him back to earth, keep him connected to the present. I stroked his back and sides, keeping up a stream of soothing, meaningless words until his breathing calmed and his eyes began to see me once again. His entire body was clammy with sweat; his forelock was plastered to his brow. He was still the most beautiful man I had ever known.
"Wow," he whispered. It wasn't Shakespeare, but I thought it adequately expressed what he was trying to say.
"Wow," I agreed, smiling into eyes like sapphires.
My hips complained when I stood up; I would be feeling this in the morning. Jelly-legged, we helped each other into the bathroom and cleaned up. We weren't really in any state to do a very thorough job of it. I knew I would find patches of cum and lube in obscure and surprising places on my body the next day. I didn't mind a bit.
We stumbled back to the bed and collapsed, Jeff on his back, me lying face-down on his chest, with our hands clasped together like horizontal dance partners.
"Jeff?" I whispered.
He grunted something that might have been an inquiring response. I licked my lips.
"I love you."
There was no response. He was already asleep. I didn't have time to decide whether I was more disappointed or relieved before I followed suit.
* Jeff *
I got up before Daniel the next morning, tiptoed into my study, and closed the door. I had some tricky business to attend to, and I didn't want him to get caught up in it.
Pulling out the cast list, I found Christina's number and called it. She answered, sounding sleepy.
"Good morning, Christina. It's Jeff. Did you have a good date last night?"
"Date?" she asked, confused. Then her voice sharpened. "Oh, yes, Daniel must have mentioned seeing us together. It was very nice, thank you."
I smiled grimly but kept my voice casual and pleasant. "Glad to hear it. I must say I was a bit surprised, though. I wouldn't have pegged you for Timothy Spencer's type."
"Timothy— Oh, hell, you figured it out. Well, and why not? Who says he can't be into spicy Latinas?"
Gotcha. You don't know who you're dealing with, girlfriend. "Oh, I'm sure Timothy has no problem with your ethnicity, Christina. It's your gender that's the issue." Silence on the other end of the line. "You see, I happen to know for a fact that Timothy prefers the company of gentlemen."
More silence. Then, tentatively, "How could you possibly know that? Unless..." I held my tongue, waiting for the other shoe to drop. "Unless you... oh my God, Jeff, were you and he...?"
"I think you and I have a lot to talk about. How about you meet me at the cafe in an hour. And Christina? There's really no reason to be telling Timothy about this little meeting, wouldn't you agree?"
"I— understand, Jeff. I'll see you in an hour."
I hung up, grinning like a Cheshire cat, and headed to the bathroom for a quick shower. Daniel was still in bed, but stirring groggily when I emerged and began to dress.
"I have to take care of a few things this morning, babe," I told him quietly. "I shouldn't be more than an hour or two. Make yourself at home." I caressed his neck as I kissed him, resisting the temptation to climb right back into bed, wrap my body around his, and lie there holding him the rest of the morning. "I'll see you soon," I whispered. He was already falling back to sleep as I closed the bedroom door.
* * *
Christina was waiting at a table for me, hands wrapped around an extra-large cup of coffee. She wasn't wearing any makeup, and her expression was unhappy. As I sat down, she reached down and grabbed my hand. "First of all," she stated urgently, "I had no idea you and Mr. Spencer had... a past together. If I had known, I would have played things differently, believe me."
She looked genuinely upset. I covered her hand with mine gently. This might be easier than I had anticipated. "Why don't you start from the beginning and tell me exactly what's been going on, Christina?" I urged her.
She licked her lips, took a sip of her coffee, licked her lips again. "Timothy Spencer approached me just before I was scheduled to fly here for rehearsals. He offered me a 'finder's fee' if I would scout you out for a role in one of his movies. All he wanted me to do was report to him on how your acting was, and whether, from what I could learn about you, you might be open to returning to the industry."
"That's all? Why all the subterfuge? He could have just picked up the phone and called me."
"He said he was trying to keep the press from finding out about it. Also, he told me the two of you had a disagreement a few years ago and he wasn't sure whether you'd accept a call from him."