Backstage Romance Ch. 10byikhneumon©
* Jeff *
Daniel slept late. Fortunately, we didn't have to be at the theater until afternoon, so I let him rest. After the revelations of the night before, I figured he needed it. When my bladder's complaining became too insistent to ignore, I managed to get out of bed without waking Daniel and took care of business. I had intended to do some light housework while he slept, but instead I wound up in the window seat, nursing a mug of coffee and watching him.
He slept on his side, curled into himself, arms tucked neatly beneath his chin, hair falling across his face. His full lips were slightly parted. His long lashes fluttered occasionally. I drank in the sight of him, imagining the creamy perfection of his skin beneath the covers, trying to impress every detail permanently into my memory.
Finally, he stirred, calling my name softly, and woke. I was already kneeling beside him when he opened his sleepy hazel eyes. He slowly focused on me.
"Morning," he managed.
"Good morning, babe. How'd you sleep?"
"Okay. What time is it?"
"Almost nine. We have four hours before we have to leave. Want some breakfast? I'm not the best cook, but I can handle eggs and toast."
"Take your time getting up. I'll get you some coffee. Sweet and creamy, coming up."
He caught my hand as I stood. "Jeff? Thanks."
I planted a kiss on his forehead. "No. Thank you." For trusting me.
The eggs were progressing nicely and I had just put bread in the toaster when Daniel trundled into the kitchen, wrapped in my oversize bathrobe. I would have to buy him one of his own, I thought, and made a mental note to consider that for my Christmas shopping list. But, Christ, he looked adorable in mine, with his eyes still bleary and the hair on the back of his head ruffled up.
He came straight to me and gave me a tender kiss. Coffee and peppermint: He had brushed his teeth before coming out. The taste reminded me of our first kiss. Tyring to keep one eye on the eggs, I pulled him closer and held him for a moment.
The moment wound up lasting until the toast popped up. The eggs were going to be just a little drier than I had planned. I hoped Daniel didn't mind. Reluctantly releasing him, I served his breakfast onto a plate, and got him situated at the table with a second cup of coffee, a glass of orange juice, and an only-slightly-overripe banana I had found lurking in my neglected fruit basket. I watched every mouthful as he ate, occasionally reminding myself to take another bite of my own breakfast.
Daniel finally squirmed under my gaze and protested, "What? You're looking at me like you expect me to do something crazy any minute!"
"Not at all," I answered, smiling, "but I just might. Do something crazy, I mean. I'm just reminded this morning how incredibly lucky I am to have found you. I don't ever want to forget that."
He blushed and looked down. Right on cue, down went the hair. The longer I knew him, the more endearing that gesture was becoming to me. I reached across the table for his hand. "Are you really okay? That was a lot to bring up, last night. I'll understand if your emotions are still a little... unsettled."
He sneaked a peek up at me. Eye contact. Good. We were making progress. "Actually, I'm doing pretty good right now. Just a little tired. It's like a weight off my mind, getting that out there. Thanks for listening."
"Any time." I squeezed his hand. "I'll let you finish, then let's get you back in bed. You can rest another couple of hours before we have to get moving."
His thumb brushed across the back of my hand. "I'd love to get back in bed. But only if you're coming with me. And I'm not planning on getting much rest there."
Hallelujah. I hadn't wanted to push for sex so soon, not when Daniel might still be feeling vulnerable. But my dick had been twitching in my boxers ever since he walked into the kitchen. Now his declaration had it standing at full mast.
We wound up leaving the dirty dishes on the table. I would curse myself for that later, as I tried to gouge congealed hunks of egg off my plates. For the moment, though, we were giggling like two kids, trying to race each other to the bedroom and get our clothes off en route. Daniel, of course, had the advantage there. All he had to shed was my bathrobe and he was completely, gloriously naked. I grabbed him around the waist, threw him down on the mattress, and nuzzled into his belly.
Daniel's hard cock brushed pre-cum against my cheek. I looked up into his face, all flushed, disheveled, and happy, and whispered, "I think I owe you something from yesterday." I didn't wait for an answer. I was already focused on seeing just how much of him I could take.
"Jeff? Jeff. Jeff!" He reached down and pulled me off his dick. I grumbled in protest; what could possibly be more important right now than fellatio?
"I need to tell you something." I sighed and turned my head to look at him. This had better be good. He looked nervous as hell, but determined. "I was telling the truth, that first night, when I told you I was clean. When Kelly found out Brian was—had been—a drug user, she made me get tested. Everything was negative. And I haven't been with anyone else between him and you. Now that you know—I just don't want you to be worried. That's all."
I stroked his belly. "Never even crossed my mind," I lied. "Now, can I get back to business, please? I was kind of in the middle of something." His smile was radiant as he nodded permission to continue. I allowed myself a second to acknowledge his courage to myself. That wasn't an easy subject to raise, especially at that particular moment. Fortunately, I realized, had the means to reward his bravery right at hand. I went back to work, sucking and licking, while he sighed and muttered barely coherent words of encouragement.
When his hips began helplessly thrusting, in thrall to the primal urge of manhood, I shifted my focus down to his balls. Daniel's testicles always took me aback with a peculiar combination of envy and lust. I had always wished I had low-hangers like his; mine tend to ride high and tight, unless I've just gotten out of a hot bath or shower. Daniel's were irresistible. He let out a high-pitched yelp when I took the first one into my mouth, rolling it around gently with my tongue. I backed off immediately. "Did I hurt you, baby?"
"No, no, just... took me by surprise," he gasped. "It's okay. More than okay. God, Jeff, you feel so good!"
"You taste so good," I answered, and turned my attention to his other inviting orb. I alternated back and forth between the two, bathing them both with love and saliva. Then it was back up to his cock, gliding my tongue through the clear stream of pre-cum running down the underside, teasing the gaping slit, circling the head with kisses. I hoped he was enjoying this as much as I was, because I was in heaven. His moan told me I was at least on the right track.
Daniel's orgasm hit at exactly the wrong—or right—moment, just as I came up for air. I wound up with jizz all over one side of my face, big thick, sticky jets of it. I reared back, startled, but not upset. The expression of hilarious dismay I saw on Daniel's face sent me into hysterical laughter. Facials weren't really my thing, but this was Daniel. How could I object to having his cum anywhere on my body? I wiped my face as best I could, waving away his abject apologies.
"Sweetheart, it's fine. I actually enjoyed it, okay? Relax. That was one of the hottest things I ever experienced," I reassured him between chuckles. "And it was probably funny as hell, too. Don't worry about it. Sex doesn't have to be serious all the time. As long as I made you feel good. That's what matters."
He pulled me up to him, and licked a bit I had missed off my chin. "You made me feel more than good. You made me feel... whole. Thank you." I brushed his hair back, at a loss for words. "Now, lie back, lover," he continued, with a wicked grin, "it's my turn!"
I was more than happy to oblige.
* * *
As I finished dressing after my shower, I noticed that I had a message waiting on my phone. I activated the voice mail system to hear a familiar stentorian voice. I had to pull my ear away from the receiver to hear the message clearly.
"Jeffrey, it's Larry Ryan. I'm bringing some of my students to your performance tonight. I hope you won't think it too much of an imposition to sign a few autographs afterward. Look forward to seeing you. I promise not to be too critical. Call me back if you can."
I grinned at my phone and called back. Naturally, it went to voice mail. Does anyone ever talk person to person any more?
"Professor, I can't wait to see you tonight, and please be as critical as you like. I'll let the house manager know you and your students are welcome to come back to the green room when the show's over."
* * *
The preview that night was well attended. I had to modestly give myself a little credit for that. The theater publicity had been playing up the "movie star from our home town" angle. Never mind that I hadn't made a movie or appeared on TV in seven years, the campaign seemed to have worked. Most of the donors and board members would be attending the official opening on Sunday, but a few had shown up among the regular audience members, along with the Professor's contingent—he had managed to wrangle an impressive number of students together for a Thanksgiving weekend.
Wiping away my stage makeup afterward, I tried to assess the performance. I finally gave us a B plus. Everyone had been just a little too cautious for the scenes to really crackle, but no one—not even Joseph—had frozen or missed a line. The comic moments had received a gratifying amount of laughter, and the applause afterward had been generous. We'd do better opening night, I promised myself.
"Jeffrey, my boy, so good to see you!" Professor Lawrence Ryan, my mentor, critic and friend, greeted me as I entered the green room. I hugged him warmly. He was grayer than I remembered, his face more deeply lined, but otherwise he seemed much as he had been when I was a student, God, what was it, fifteen years ago? Of course, he must have seemed old then to my adolescent self; he was probably only in his forties at the time.
"How are you, Professor? Thank you so much to you, and to all of you," I directed my voice to the cluster of students behind him, "for being here tonight. I hope you enjoyed the play, and I look forward to hearing your comments."
"Well, I may have to e-mail you my comments, I don't think we have the time for a full review at the moment. Right now, though, I'd like you to meet my latest crop of young thespians."
The next few minutes were spent exchanging pleasantries and signing autographs for a number of giggling girls and one tongue-tied and fiercely blushing boy. Professor Ryan caught my eye over the kid's head; his expression seemed to say, "What can you do?"
Daniel poked his head in the door just as Professor Ryan was saying, "I hope we're not causing too much of an imposition on your time. I simply can't resist the chance to show off one of our more successful alumni."
I shrugged off his flattery. "As a matter of fact, you have more than one alum working here tonight. I've met another of your pupils working on this production. Daniel," I raised my voice, "come in, say hello to the Professor. Class, this is Daniel Lewis, our assistant stage manager. He's the power keeping us all in line behind the scenes."
"Oh, yes, Mr. Lewis, how are you?" Ryan greeted him heartily. "Heartily" was practically his trademark affect. "I see you occasionally working with the summer program at the school. Though never actually on stage, that I recall." He looked at Daniel pointedly.
"It's not part of my job, Professor."
"Not that Daniel couldn't do it, if it were called for," I interjected. "I've seen what kind of acting he's capable of. He's made quite an impression on all of us here."
Daniel blushed appealingly. "I've already explained to Mr. Williams that I enjoy working behind the scenes," he said, defensively. "It suits me."
"What's this 'Mr. Williams' all of a sudden?" I demanded, stung. "It's Jeff, and you know it!"
"By the same token, Jeff, when are you going to start calling me Larry? I've asked you often enough," chided Professor Ryan.
Daniel and I actually started laughing at the same time. "You'll always be Professor to us, Larry," I told him. Daniel nodded his head fervently. Professor Ryan raised his eyes to heaven—theatrically, of course.
I answered a few questions from the students about the play, the production, and my acting career. Most of the kids seemed interested in hearing about my Hollywood years, a time period I had little desire to dwell on, but a few of the questions showed more insight into acting technique and the play they had just seen. I took advantage of one query about scene seven to say, "Actually, Daniel here was sort of our unofficial assistant director for that scene. Daniel, maybe you could share with them some of the things you taught us?"
Daniel glared at me briefly, but put on his game face and tried to answer the question. I took the opportunity to pull Professor Ryan aside.
"Professor, I was wondering if you had some time for lunch. I'd like to catch up with you better, and I also wanted to talk to you a bit about Daniel."
"Really? Well, give me a call and we'll see what we can set up. Lunch shouldn't be too difficult. Anything in particular you'd like to discuss?"
I glanced around. "Let's just say I'm interested in finding out what you have to say about his career prospects."
I returned to the group and rescued Daniel from the students. The meet-and-greet lasted only a few minutes longer, as the class had to catch the school shuttle back to campus. As the college kids trooped out of the green room, I unconsciously draped my arm around Daniel's shoulders, absent-mindedly rubbing his bicep. Professor Ryan, bringing up the rear of the class, looked back, saw us, and raised his eyebrows. Daniel stiffened under my arm. I looked back at the Professor, caught out, and shrugged helplessly. What can you do?
* Daniel *
Opening night went off without a hitch, and got a terrific response from the audience. Backstage, Joseph had a minor panic attack an hour before curtain and dragged me into a rehearsal room for a half hour to review his scenes, but once he stepped on stage he performed flawlessly. Mark rolled his eyes at losing his assistant so close to performance, but Scott took me aside at intermission and thanked me for my time and effort.
Jeff, of course, turned on his full charisma and had most of the women in the audience (and probably more than a few of the men) sighing at his declarations of love to Angela. Even she looked a little flushed when she came off stage after that scene. Back off, bitch, he's mine, I felt like snapping. I was immediately ashamed of my reaction. Mark read my expression and grunted unhappily, but otherwise we were more or less back to our usual professional working relationship.
There was a reception afterward for the cast, crew, theater administration, donors, and various family and friends. Since we had to close down the theater and lobby areas after the audience left, Mark, Kelly and I were the last to show up.
When we got there, Heather was at the center of attention, and beside her, a very tall, broad-shouldered man in an airline pilot's uniform. We had missed the big announcement, but Angela excitedly filled us in. Heather was pregnant. The tall man—Justin—was her boyfriend and the proud father-to-be. Well. That solved a few riddles about the last couple weeks. I studied the couple of the night. Heather was practically glowing with happiness. Justin seemed dazed, but blissfully happy. He hovered protectively by Heather's side at all moments, when he didn't have his arm wrapped possessively around her shoulder.
Jeff was there as well, of course, accompanied by an attractive blond-haired older woman. I suppressed my start of jealousy as the resemblance between them registered. Of course, that must be his mother—he had mentioned that he would have family members attending the performance. They obviously shared a close bond; he hovered over her almost as protectively as Justin over Heather, and she was radiating pride for her son.
I found myself watching them wistfully. My family, halfway across the country, hadn't exactly disowned me when I came out after college, but our relationship had never been the same. I hadn't had any contact with them for three years aside from brief phone calls every few months, in which no one said anything really important or meaningful beyond assuring one another that we were still alive. I hadn't even told them about the Brian incident.
Jeff caught my eye and gave me his best thousand-watt Hollywood smile. I smiled back, feeling weak in the knees. Five weeks on, and he could still do that to me. Before long, he detached himself from the donor couple he had been chatting with and brought his mother over to us.
"Kelly, Daniel, I'd like you to meet my mother, Judy Andrews. Mom, this is Kelly Richardson, the house manager, and her best friend Daniel Lewis, our assistant stage manager. You might remember I told you about him during Thanksgiving."
He had mentioned me to his family? What had he told them?
"Of course I remember," she answered. "Kelly, Daniel, so nice to meet you both." Her smile reminded me strongly of Jeff.
"Judy Andrews?" asked Kelly. "The realtor? I've seen your signs all over town."
"Yes, that's me," answered Judy. "Are you in the market?"
"Actually, I might be soon," answered Kelly. I looked at her questioningly. She hadn't said anything of the sort to me. "My boyfriend and I have been talking about trading up from our apartment to a condo." News to me. What else were Kelly and Josh not telling me?
"Mom," Jeff chided, "we aren't here to drum up business for you."
"Jeff, you can't have been an actor this long not to know some of the best business gets done during social occasions," she answered, laughing, as she slipped Kelly her business card.
At that moment a board member stepped in to ask Jeff a question. He shot me a slightly panicky look before turning away to answer. I got the message. He was nervous about leaving me unsupervised with his mother. Or was it the other way around? Either way, I thought, he should have been a lot more nervous about Kelly and her mischievous streak. I wasn't about to spill the beans without his consent.
"So you're the famous Daniel," Judy said, looking me up and down.
"Uh, yes, ma'am," I replied. Famous?
She snorted. "Don't you 'yes ma'am' me, young man. Call me Judy, please. 'Ma'am' makes me feel like a little old granny in gingham dress with my hair in a bun." Looking at her short stylish haircut and tasteful, understated clothes, I could understand why she might object to that kind of self-image. Kelly giggled.
"Yes, m... Judy," I answered. She grinned at the slip-up, and at my obvious discomfort, throwing a wink to Kelly. Great, female solidarity. I could already tell I was in trouble.
"Jeff holds you in very high regard, I hope you know. I think he thinks he's found the next Laurence Olivier."
I blushed red hot and mumbled that I wasn't planning on a career as an actor.
"No? I haven't heard him talk about someone so admiringly in years. If I know my son, that tells me you're very good indeed."
Kelly shifted beside me. Shut up, Kel, whatever dirty little joke just occurred to you, keep it to yourself if you value your life. "Daniel doesn't get enough recognition for everything he can do," was all she said. "It's good to hear someone appreciates him the way he deserves." She patted my arm.