Monday, March 31, 2014

11 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

Feeling deeply grief-stricken and desolate Merlyn paced his home, trying to gain some control over his emotions. He could not seem to come to terms with the fact that Alton was gone. Not only gone but murdered. That made no sense to him whatsoever. As he had told the detective Alton was well-loved by everyone who met him, in all ways.

“It has to be a fatal form of gay bashing,” he muttered to himself as he walked upstairs to his studio. “There’s no other reason that makes sense.” After all, his friend and mentor had been nothing if not flamboyant. Perhaps some cretin had been out looking for a target and spotted Alton. He could imagine that person deciding the world needed one less fag in it and taking things into his own hands.

That idea Merlyn could live with. Not well but at least it would make Alton’s death something random, left to hands of fate, and not personal. Either way he prayed the cops would find the killer and do all that was needed to make certain he would never be a free man again.

With those thoughts running pell-mell through his mind Merlyn set to work on the commissioned sculpture. He needed to finish it and perhaps by focusing on it he could bury his emotions for a time.

After what seemed only minutes but was indeed several hours according to the clock on the studio wall, he heard the phone ringing. When he answered Detective Jonas told him she’d be by in an hour to pick him up as promised. He told her he’d be ready and hung up. Cleaning and putting away his tools he stepped back to look at what he’d accomplished, taking note of the details that still needed doing.

As he turned to leave the studio his eyes fell on his sculpture, the one Alton had so admired, and he felt a wave of grief that almost brought him to his knees. “I should have been with you,” he whispered in anguish. “If I hadn’t left you might still be alive.”

Something, a trick of light, a need, something made it seem as if the statue was looking back at him with compassion. Merlyn shook his head to clear it of that fantasy. Hastily he turned away, shutting off the lights, almost slamming the door behind him before dashing down the stairs to his bedroom.

An hour later he was cleaned up, dressed in jeans and a button-down, and sitting on the front stoop of his house waiting for the detective to arrive.

* * * *

“Anything,” Merlyn asked as he slid into the passenger seat of the unmarked car.

“Nothing I’m afraid,” Detective Jonas replied. “Well at least nothing to pinpoint who his killer was. He’d had a sexual encounter sometime earlier in the evening. Semen was found in his rectum and he’d ejaculated as well.”

“Meaning he’d probably made use of one of the rooms at the club. I doubt he took someone home since he was killed at the gallery.” Merlyn frowned. “But why was he there at one in the morning?”

“One of a number of questions on my list that need answering,” the detective replied as she pulled to a stop at a traffic light. “We’ve searched the gallery. Nothing seems out of order, the alarm was still set and the security company says it didn’t go off.”

“I was thinking, could it have been random? Someone who didn’t like gays and took advantage of his being there alone to kill him?”

“Always a possibility and one we’re not discounting but most gay bashers like to get up close and personal with their victims.”

Merlyn nodded, staring morosely out of the window at the passing scenery after the light turned green again.

“You haven’t thought of anyone at all who might have wanted him dead.”

“No. Although honestly I don’t know many of his friends. Hell, truth be told I don’t know any of them. There were people I met at the gallery when I had shows there, but most of them were people on his list of invitees who would be willing to spend money on my work.”

“Were any of the people other gallery owners who might have wanted to steal you away from him?”

Merlyn shrugged. “I suppose. But doesn’t it seem like killing him is a rather extreme way to go about it? My work sells, and sells well, but I’d hardly make someone an overnight millionaire if I switched to their gallery. Besides they would have approached me first.”

“And no one has?”

“Not in a long time. I think they all realized that I would never leave Alton.” Merlyn chuckled low. “Hell, half of them probably thought we were more than just agent and client, which would have made it even less likely that I’d split from him.”

The detective nodded as she pulled the car into the parking lot by the club.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

10 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

The detective nodded. “I have to ask, was there anything more to your relationship than his being a father figure?”

“No, never! We both knew that while we were the best of friends we’d be lousy as lovers or partners. Besides for several years I was in a relationship. When it ended Alton was the one who kept me from going totally off the deep end.”

“The man you were involved with, would he have any reason to hate Mr Weber?”

“Elliot?” Merlyn shook his head. “I can’t see any reason why he would have. He didn’t approve of Alton’s lifestyle but other than that they were, if not friends, at least they were friendly with each other.”

“So Mr Weber had no involvement in your and this Elliot’s breakup?”

“No! And even if he had, that happened three years ago.” Merlyn stopped, looking at the detective. “Am I under suspicion for his murder?”

She smiled in reply. “Do you have an alibi?”

He shrugged. “Probably not. I left the club around ten p.m. and came straight home. A cab driver can attest to that at least. Then I worked for a while until I was tired enough to fall into bed. I think that was probably around one. That’s the last I remember until your phone call.”

“And no one else was here with you?”

“No. I’m not in the habit of having visitors other than Alton.”

The detective eyed him, doubt on her face. “When you answered the phone it certainly sounded as if you were, shall we say in the throws of emotion.”

Merlyn nodded. “Specifically I was jacking off. I was in the middle of a dream when the phone woke me, half-asleep and hard. So I took care of myself.”

“That’s honest,” she told him with a small laugh. “Sorry to have interrupted you.” She glanced at her notebook, jotting something down before asking, “Is there anything you can think of, anything at all, that might shed some light on his death.”

“Not really, other than what I told you about the message he got at the club.”

“Speaking of which I’d like you to come with me tomorrow when I check things out there so that you can point out the server who delivered it. Hopefully he can tell us something about the man who wrote it.”

“That’s fine. Just call me an hour or so before you plan on doing that so that I can clean up. I tend to get pretty messy when I’m working.”

“I will.” She stood, closing her notebook. “Thank you for your time Mr Knight. I’m sorry that we had to meet this way.”

“Not half as sorry as I am,” he replied bitterly as he showed her to the door.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

9 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

The detective glanced around before saying, “Why don’t you sit down sir. Please. I have some questions I need to ask you.”

“I’d rather…” Merlyn mumbled, and then realized he wouldn’t rather stand there. His knees felt weak and his hands were shaking. He pushed off the wall, walking stiltedly to the sofa where he collapsed, burying his head in his hands.

He felt her hand patting his shoulder and then the detective asked, “Would you like some water, or coffee if you have it?”

“Water, please,” he told her, not looking up.

A minute later she returned, tapping his shoulder and then handing him a cold glass of water. He gulped it down, thanking her.

“Now, if you’re ready,” she said softly but firmly.

“I suppose.”

“You said you saw him a few hours ago. Where was that?”

“At a club we visited.” He named it and she nodded, her face showing she knew of it but nothing more. “We’d only been there a few minutes when he got a message from someone he called ‘an old acquaintance’.”

“Did he tell you who that was?”

“No. He just excused himself and left the room.”

“Was this message by phone?”

“No. The young man serving us brought it to him. I take it you didn’t find it on him.”

“No sir. Do you know the server’s name, or would you recognize him if you saw him again?”

“No and yes,” Merlyn replied succinctly.

“Alright. Now, as far as you know, did Mr. Weber have any enemies?”

Merlyn smiled tightly. “Alton made friends with every man he met, or tried to. To the best of my knowledge none of them would have any reason to dislike him and certainly no reason to kill him. As for his business he was well liked by those he dealt with, including other gallery owners.”

“How long have you known Mr. Weber?”

“Gods, at least twelve years. We met when I was in college. He came by one of the art classes I was taking, looking he said for anyone with the potential to become more than just a hobbyist. He liked my work and offered to show a couple of pieces at his gallery. That was the beginning. He’s been like…” Merlyn sighed deeply, trying to keep his raw emotions under control. “He was like a second father to me.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

8 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

“Yesss…” Merlyn wanted, craved, the hot mouth that was teasing his cock unmercifully. He needed nothing more than to arch up between those full lips, to plunge deeply through them and bury himself in the tightness of his tormentor’s throat. But he could not. He had been ordered not to move by the male whose face was still a mystery to him. By a soft but authoritative voice that caressed him with words just as the male’s hands caressed his body until every nerve ending was on fire.

“Please… more…” he begged.

The sound of the phone came distantly to his ears, unceasing in its demand to be answered. He fought its clarion call, wanting to remain in the dream. That was not to be.

“This had better be damned important,” he growled in angry frustration when his searching hand finally landed on it and he answered. His other hand gripped his rampant cock; stroking it as he sought the release he’d been denied.

“Merlyn Knight?” a woman’s voice asked.

“Yes,” was his muttered reply, followed by a low, barely restrained cry of release.

“I’m sorry to bother you sir. This is Detective Jonas with the Portsmouth police department. I’m outside. I need to talk to you.”

“About?” Merlyn grabbed some tissues from the box by his bed, trying to clean up the cum that covered his chest and hand.

“I’d prefer to tell you in person. I’ll wait while you get dressed.”

A quick glance at the clock told Merlyn why the detective thought he needed to. It was three in the morning.

“Give me five minutes and I’ll let you in.” Hanging up, Merlyn hurried to the bathroom to finish cleaning up and run a hand through his tangled hair. Then he threw on a pair of jeans and a ratty tank. Barefooted he went to open the front door.

A well-built, medium tall, dark-haired woman stood there holding out a badge. Merlyn took a brief glance at it before letting her inside. “So what’s going on?” he asked, leaning against the wall as he looked at her.

“You are acquainted with a Mr Alton Weber I believe.”

A cold bolt of dread raced through Merlyn. “He’s my best, perhaps my only friend. Why?”

“His body was found at approximately one-thirty this morning, sprawled in the entranceway to his gallery. He was killed by one shot to his head.”

“Fuck no! You’re sure it’s him? It can’t be. I saw him about, damn it five hours ago. He was fine then.” Merlyn felt tears well up in his eyes and wiped them away.

“Yes sir, we’re quite certain. His wallet was still in his pocket.”

“Oh. Yes. Well… So it wasn’t a robbery.” Disbelief warred with acceptance in Merlyn’s mind.

“No sir.”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

7 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

The club was luxuriant to say the least—in Merlyn’s considered opinion. All dark wood and wine-red fabrics and leather. “It could be a gentlemen's club from the last century,” he told Alton as they wended their way to a pair of high-backed wingchairs facing a low table at one side of the room.

“Precisely, my dear boy. Ambiance is everything.” Alton beckoned to one of the servers. A young man, clad in tight black leather pants, a blood-red silk shirt open to the waist and a wide studded collar. Keeping his head bowed subserviently he took their orders, a whiskey for Alton, a glass of red wine for Merlyn.

“No one would ever get me into a collar,” Merlyn said as he watched the young man leave.

Alton chuckled. “Don’t tempt fate. You never know who you’ll meet that might make you change your mind.”

Merlyn’s eyebrow rose in amusement. “If anything I’d be the one doing the collaring.” As he said that another flash of the dream rose in his mind and he wondered at the truth of his words. But it was only a dream, not reality.

When the server returned with their drinks he handed Alton a slip of paper. As Alton read the message it contained he murmured, “Well now, how interesting. If you’ll excuse me, Merl, it seems an old acquaintance of mine would like to reestablish our relationship.” With that said he stood and strode across the room to a door on the far side.

“There you go again, deserting me,” Merlyn muttered under his breath. Sipping his wine, one foot now resting on the table in front of him, he took a small sketchpad and a pen from his jacket pocket. Soon he was deeply immersed in catching on paper the various couples who were dotted around the room. Some seemed to be just friends but others were quite obviously paired sub/Dom couples, often with one of the men sitting or kneeling submissively on the floor beside the other man’s chair. He snorted when one such sub allowed his master to feed him tidbits from a plate of hors d'oeuvre set on the table beside them.

“Not your thing?” a deep voice asked from behind him.

“Not really,” Merlyn admitted, not taking his eyes from the couple he was sketching. “Interesting to observe however. It does make me wonder what sort of man would allow himself to be debased by another like that.”

“Ask Alton when he returns.”

“You know him?” Merlyn couldn’t say he was surprised if he did. He had often though that there were very few men gay men in the city that didn’t know his friend.

Leaving Merlyn’s question unanswered the man reached over the back of the chair, resting one hand on the nape of his neck, massaging it. “You’re tense. You wish you could leave but you don’t want to walk out on Alton—again.”

If he hadn’t been tense before Merlyn was now. “How do you know that I’ve done that?” he asked, trying to turn to look at the man. The hand gripped the back of his head, keeping it stationary.   

“I know much about you. You are renowned in the art world. Single, gay obviously as you are here, still unwilling to commit to anyone as you’re emotions were shattered by the, you should excuse the expression, the bastard you were living with. If it weren’t for Alton you would undoubtedly be a total recluse.”

“All of those are known details that anyone could have found out. The fact that you know I walked out on Alton the last time we went somewhere says you must have been following me for some reason.”

The man chuckled, the deep sound rolling over Merlyn in a wave of amusement. “I do not have to follow you to know that. It is somewhat of a given, seeing that you do not like the club scene I would say.”

“No I don’t.” Again Merlyn tried to turn to look at the man, again he found he couldn’t. So, angrily, he said, “Since you seem to know all about me, tell me something no one else would know.”

“Something even Alton wouldn’t?”


He felt a soft breath against his ear as the man whispered, “You dream of the perfect man, one who will set all your senses on fire. One who is pure and yet wicked; beautiful, erotic, and for you alone. You dream of him and will again. Someday perhaps the dream will become reality.”

The hand was removed from Merlyn’s neck. He turned quickly to look at the man. No one was there. No one was within several yards of him. And yet he still felt as if someone was watching him. Taking a deep gulp of wine he tried to explain to himself what had just happened.

“I had a bit too much wine,” he said softly to himself, looking at the empty glass. “I must have dozed off and…and dreamed all this.”

But somewhere deep inside he wondered.

Friday, March 21, 2014

6 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

Two days after their visit to the club Alton walked into the studio to find Merlyn totally immersed in his work. Marble chips clung to the sculptor’s shoulder-length, mussed dark hair. He wore a tight T-shirt that did nothing to hide his wiry, muscular arms and chest as he broke yet another chunk of marble from the block.

Waiting until Merlyn was aware of his presence Alton said, “It’s coming along quite nicely. When will it be finished?”

“In time to meet the terms of the contract,” Merlyn told him, wiping the sweat off his face with his forearm. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”

Brushing marble dust from a chair, Alton sat, crossing his legs. “I’m nosey, sweetie. I want to know everything that happened after I left you the other night.”

Merlyn chuckled in amusement. “Not a damned thing. That twink was an idiot so I left him there to his own devices and came home.”

“Merl, what am I going to do with you. Wait, I know.” Alton snapped his fingers. “Tonight we’re going out again.”

“No ‘we’ are not,” Merlyn growled, turning back to what he had been doing.

“Yes ‘we’ are. Don’t argue with me. I know the perfect place. It’s not a dance club per se so you won’t have to deal with the noise and the twink set.”

Merlyn’s eyebrow arched. “Then what is it?”

“A place that caters to men of discriminating tastes.”

Breaking into a full-blown laugh Merlyn asked, “Then why do you want to go there?”

“Mind your manners sweetie. Even I can be picky on occasion, although rarely I’ll admit. When you reach a certain age discrimination ceases to be a viable option if you want to get laid.”

“Or sucked off in the men’s room.” Merlyn smiled to soften his words. “So tell me more about this club.”

“It’s for men interested in sub/Dom sex play. Nothing extreme I promise, I know neither of us is a pain slut. Although,” Alton added as he watched a chip of marble hit Merlyn’s forearm and a drop of blood ooze out, “I sometimes wonder in your case. I still don’t understand why you don’t wear something to protect yourself.”

“It gets in the way,” Merlyn replied shortly as he continued working. He wasn’t the least into pain in life or in bed. However the sub/Dom idea intrigued him as he remembered a fragment of the dream he’d had. He had been completely at the mercy of the male and that had enthralled him. Even now his cock stirred at the memory. It took all of his willpower to tame it before Alton noticed. Finally he said, “Tonight?”

Alton broke into a broad grin. “I thought that might catch your interest. Tonight. I’ll pick you up at nine.”

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

“Where have all the good men gone,” Merlyn hummed to himself to the tune of ‘Where have all the flowers gone’ as he looked at his statue. The one he’d done on a mad impulse to create the ideal of the perfect male. He knew Alton would want it in the gallery eventually and he wasn’t totally averse to that. But after tonight’s fiasco at the club he was glad ‘eventually’ hadn’t come just yet. Over-sexed, barely legal young men like the ones who hung out at clubs were far from his idea of perfection on any level.

“You’re getting old, Merl,” he muttered to himself as he tossed his sketchpad on the workbench, took one last look at the statue, covered it and turned off the studio lights. Going down the short flight of stairs to the ground floor of his building he stopped in the kitchen long enough to pour a glass of juice which he drank quickly. After rinsing the glass and setting it in the drainer to dry he headed to the bedroom, undressed, took a fast shower and slid into bed, falling into restless sleep.

Images of the club invaded his dreams. Men dancing to a primitive beat. Lights strobing, turning the men into incoherent shapes, sharp and angular. Naked or nearly so. A spotlight suddenly shooting through the smoke-filled, cavernous space. Slicing a path to the far end of the room.

In his dream Merlyn saw a figure standing there, limned in brilliant white. Tall, lithe in its movements as it---he---walked slowly down the length of the room. The dancers froze. Every eye was on the male. Hands reached out for him. He deftly sidestepped them as he paced towards Merlyn.

Stopping where Merlyn sat entranced, the male lifted his hand, beckoning for Merlyn to follow.

Instantly they were transported into another room. Slate gray walls, barred windows looking out on steel gray skies. The only pieces of furniture a bed covered with brilliant red silk sheets and an imposing dresser, both made of gray veined marble.

With a flick of the male’s wrist Merlyn’s clothing vanished. Another flick and he was spread-eagle on the bed, arms lashed to the marble bedposts, legs spread wide but unbound.

The male settled himself between Merlyn’s thighs. “Perfection,” he murmured as he bent to devour Merlyn’s mouth.

No, you are, was the last coherent thought from Merlyn. All his senses and emotions coalesced in a burning fever of need as the male took him slowly but surely towards total, unimaginable fulfillment.

Then the male vanished.

And Merlyn awoke, shattered by the power of his release. Devastated when he realized it had only been a dream. “Who were you? Where can I find you? Are you even real or just the perfect vision,” he murmured, his voice disconsolate. Try as he might he could not recall the male’s face; only his incredible body and the tenderness and passion of his lovemaking.

Monday, March 17, 2014

4 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

“I’d forgotten how noisy these places were,” Merlyn shouted over the beat of the music.

“It’s not noise; it’s the sound of excitement, hot, sweaty young bodies moving to their primal urges. Speaking on which…” Alton homed in on one young man dancing wildly in the center of the crowd, obviously oblivious, for the moment, to the men around him.

With a shake of his head Merlyn left his friend to his pursuits and snagged a just vacated table at the edge of the room. Setting his beer down, he propped one foot up on the other chair and took a sketchpad from his bag. Alton would undoubtedly scold him for not trying to be social and dance but he really didn’t care. He was here as per his friend’s wishes. Alton could like it or lump it.

Twenty minutes later Merlyn had filled several pages with quick sketches that caught the frenzied movements of the dancers and several more of the men watching either with interest or wistfully from the sides of the dance floor. He envisioned a series of small sculptures, maybe done in clay rather than stone, designing them in his mind’s eye. He was so involved in his thoughts he jumped when Alton arrived at the table, holding the hand of one very young man, a second in tow behind them.

“Merl,” Alton said in exasperation, “why aren’t you dancing? Well never mind sweetie, I have someone here who wants to meet you. His name is Randy and he’s a budding artist.” Alton leaned closer, murmuring, “Or so he says but who cares, he’s cute.”

Merlyn resisted rolling his eyes as he looked at the twink in question. “What kind of art,” he asked, dropping his foot off the chair so the young man could sit down.

Taking the seat Randy said shyly but with some pride, “I design T-shirts.”

Hard-pressed not to laugh outright, Merlyn nodded. “Like the one you’re wearing?” He didn’t add, ‘Barely’. The shirt was so tight, and so cropped, it was hardly counted as clothing.

“Yes. Do you like it?” Randy puffed out his thin chest, his hands behind his head to give Merlyn the full effect.

The design on it was bad knock-off graffiti, worse than some Merlyn had seen on alley walls. Politely he told the young man, “It’s definitely interesting.” He looked around for Alton, hoping to use him to get rid of the kid, only to see his friend disappearing towards the men’s room with his latest conquest.

Randy sensed Merlyn’s lack of enthusiasm and pouted. “I’ve been told I’m really quite good.”

“At what, sucking dick?” Merlyn muttered under his breath. When the twink’s hand touched his thigh, he had a feeling he’d been overheard despite the loud music. As the hand moved higher he sighed, removing it. “Look… Randy was it? I’m not interested, okay. Not in your budding career or your cute and probably very talented mouth. If you’ll excuse me I’m leaving. Have a good evening.” Sticking the sketchpad back in his bag, Merlyn stood up and quickly wove his way through the crowd to the club’s exit.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

3 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

“No Alt, I do not want to go clubbing with you. I’m in the middle of something and can’t just drop everything at your whim.” Merlyn walked around the large mass of marble again, the phone tucked between his ear and his shoulder as he studied the roughed-out form. Envisioning what needed to go next he put the phone on speaker. Then he picked up his mallet and pitching tool and set to work, rhythmically removing small sections until he was satisfied. While he did he listened with half a mind to Alton’s ramblings about how it was time for him to ‘get a life, again’.

“Merlyn!” Alton’s exasperated voice shouted over the phone. “Pay attention.”

Putting his tools down, Merlyn picked the phone up again. “I have been.”

“So you’re going to stop for now and come with me?”

“Will you quit nagging me if I say yes?”

“Nag?” Alton sounded horrified. “I don’t nag. I ask sweetly and gently for your companionship in venturing into the wilds of the clubs.”

Merlyn snorted. “You nag, and very well I might add. Alright, give me an hour or so to get ready. But stand warned, this is the first and last time. I have to finish this sculpture. It’s a commission as you well know.”

“Deal. And please make certain you’re not wearing half of it. Shower, get the chips out of your hair, and wear those sexy leather pants and…”

“Alton, I am quite able to dress myself in proper clothes. Honestly, you’d think you were my mother, not my agent.”

“Sweetie I don’t think your mother would be telling you to dress sexy.”

With a laugh Merlyn agreed. While his mother had long ago accepted his sexual preferences she still was not comfortable with the idea that he hung out at ‘those’ clubs. Or had until he’d met Elliot. The thought of the man quickly dampened his mood until he sternly told himself that Alton had it right, it was time for him to start living again.

“Alright, I’ll be ready in an hour. Will the green shirt meet with your approval ‘mother’?”

“Wise ass. And yes it will. See you then.”

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

“This is nicer than I remember.” Merlyn leaned back to take in the whole restaurant. Subdued lighting, white linen tablecloths, silver place settings, candles and flowers, it all came across as very elegant and very romantic. The view over the harbor with the rays of the setting sun painting it in oranges and pinks called to his artistic temperament.

“Hopefully the company’s better than you remember too.” Alton smiled, patting Merlyn’s hand. “Now, sweetie, order anything you want, it’s on me, your reward for actually stepping out of your place and having some fun.”

“I leave my studio. I’m not a recluse.”

“Merl, going out to buy groceries is not considered leaving. That’s just one of those chores you have to do like”---Alton gave an exaggerated shudder---“taking out the trash.”

Merlyn laughed. “And when’s the last time you did that?”

Alton pondered for a moment. “Three days ago, when the twink I brought home that night refused to do it for me before he left.”

“Since when have you started picking up twinks? I thought you liked them older and experienced.”

Heaving a deep sigh Alton muttered. “At this point I’m the older experienced one. I’m hitting forty in three weeks, sweetie, and I’m feeling every bit of my age.”

Merlyn rolled his eyes. “You look…” tilting his head he studied his friend, “all of thirty.”

“In this light, with proper makeup, I better look younger than that,” Alton growled before smiling at the compliment. “But that begs the question. I’ve got ten years on you and side by side in the sunlight it would look more like twelve.”

“Sir, are you and your companion ready to order?” the young waitress asked, startling both men. “And,” she added with a smile, “you look fabulous for your age, sir.”

Alton blinked then chuckled lightly. “I don’t know whether to consider that flattery or an insult my dear, but I’ll take it as the former.” He picked up the menu to look at it again before giving her his order. “Have you decided what you want Merlyn?”

The waitress’s eyes widened. “Merlyn as in Merlyn Knight the sculptor?”

Merlyn shot Alton a look, knowing his friend had used his full name to engender just this sort of response from the young woman. Then he smiled at her. “One and the same.”

“I love your work. I even own one of your tiny ones, a sleeping dragon.” She seemed ready to keep gushing at him until she realized she was supposed to be taking his order.

Once she had and had left Merlyn grumbled, “I hate that.”

“Then why did you order it?” Alton asked, deliberately misunderstanding him.

“You know what I mean. I don’t like the notoriety, that’s why I let you handle everything. Oh well, at least she didn’t ask for an autograph or something. Hopefully she won’t tell anyone I’m here.”

“Sweetie…” Alton shook his head in amusement as he saw her deep in conversation with two of the other servers who then looked their way. “You’re out of luck but they won’t bother you, although that waiter is cute so you might wish that he did.”

Merlyn chuckled. “There you go again, presuming because he’s male and a waiter that he’s gay. Not everyone is you know.”

“More’s the shame. But if he is…” Alton waggled his eyebrows.

“Then he’s all yours. I am not interested or looking.”

“And that we shall have to do something about,” Alton said quietly before moving the discussion on to other subjects.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

1 - There dwells a spirit, waiting to be released

“It’s quite wonderful,” Alton murmured as he walked slowly around the sculpture standing in the center of Merlyn’s studio. “Done from life?”

Merlyn chuckled softly. “One could only wish. No, it’s just dream, an unattainable dream. No man could be like that, so perfect, so erotic and yet so pure.” He studied the sculpture wistfully and then put the cover back over it.  

“I think I resent that comment.” Alton laughed, looking at his long-time friend and client.

“Alt, you haven’t been pure since the day you turned sixteen.”

“My dear man you under exaggerate, I was fourteen when I lost my virginity and it would have been sooner if mother hadn’t kept me on such a tight leash.”

Merlyn laughed. “And you’ve been trying to increase your list of conquests exponentially since then.”

“Are you saying I’m a slut?” Alton tried to look offended and failed miserably.

“Let’s just say that you’ve never met a man you didn’t want to bed at least once and leave it at that.”

“While you on the other hand haven’t met one you do want to bed even once.”

“That’s not true and you know it, Alt. Up until three years ago…” Merlyn sighed deeply earning him a hug from Alton.

“He did a number on you sweetie. If I had anything to say about it he’d be castrated, de-cocked and sent to work in an all male strip club as a waiter for the rest of his unnatural life.”

Merlyn snorted. “You’d do that wouldn’t you?”

“Damned right I would!” He stepped back to look at his friend. “Merl, it’s about time you forgot about him and started living life again instead of hiding out here making sculptures of ‘perfect’ men. They don’t exist. sweetie. Trust me if one did I’d have found him and grabbed him up in a heartbeat.”

“So what do you want me to do, start trolling the clubs with you? I’m not ready to do that Alt.”

“I know but how about we go out to dinner, somewhere nice like the Harborside. You can relax, unwind and get away from all this.” Alton swept his hand around.

“Perhaps.” Merlyn smiled. “Alright, sure, why not. When?”

“In an hour if I can get us a reservation, so go change.”

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Prince and I - 36

“Spit it out,” I told Connor, feeling my anger raise again.

“I’m not going back. Ever.”

“Uh-huh. Right.”

“I’m not.” His voice was soft but the words were said with conviction.

“Why do I have the feeling your uncle might have something to say about that.”

“Oh he had a lot to say about it, including pointing out exactly what I’d be throwing away if I did what I was planning. I told him if things worked out the way I prayed they would, I’d be gaining something worth a hundredfold what I would loose.” He reached across the table to take my hand, his eyes locking on mine.

I tried to look away but couldn’t. There was such hope on his face. I wasn’t about to give in just yet however. “If that’s true why did you wait so long to come back?”

“My uncle told me how you’d reacted when you found out I was gone. I was afraid you’d never forgive me. And then, before I could find out one way or the other, things happened. Things with Aemornion.”

For a second I couldn’t figure out what he meant and then I remembered. “He tried to capture you again?”

“No. I was well protected for obvious reasons. He went after my older brother.”

“You have..? Never mind, go on.”

“Aemornion caught him unawares and almost succeeded. So we had to teach him a lesson.”

“Whose head rolled,” I asked, remembering a conversation we’d had a long time ago. I winced when he told me Aemornion’s had.

Connor squeezed my hand. “If it hadn’t, he’d have continued until he did capture one of us. There are still others like him out there but they’re not as rabid in their beliefs and they rarely if ever venture here.”

“So no one’s going to come looking for you.”

“I can’t say they won’t, but probably not. Anyway, once that was over I had to make a decision. Did I want to stay there and be a good little future heir to the throne, should both Sadron and my brother die before I did? Or did I want to take a chance that you’d let me back in your life?” He smiled. “It really wasn’t much of a choice.”  

“What if I say no?” I wouldn’t have. He was all I wanted in this world and I wasn’t about to loose it again, but I still wanted to hear his reply.

“Then I’ll pursue you like a lovelorn suitor until you change your mind.”

I grinned. “You would, wouldn’t you?”

“Indeed. I’ll plant myself on your doorstep, send you flowers and… and whatever it is human lovers give each other. Every time you turn around there I’ll be. I’m not a bad hand at poetry so I’ll declaim my poems to you day and night no matter who’s around.”

“There’s a word for that here. It’s called stalking. And it’s illegal.”

He clasped a hand to his chest. “Then I’ll suffer imprisonment until you pity me so much you come to set me free.”

Laughter bubbled up. I could barely say, “All right, all right, I give in. We can try again and see what happens.”

As soon as I said that he was beside me. He didn’t have to say thank you or anything else; his lips said it for him. From the kiss we moved on to other things, recapturing all the feelings we’d shared before he’d left.

In the weeks that followed—before Winter Break was over—we found a place with a bit more room than my apartment. Sadron refused to foot the bill which was no problem since Connor was hardly poor in his own right. Sadron did however continue to pay my tuition. I think he hoped I really would go to work for one of his companies when I got my degree. That is still up in the air but I’m considering it.

Mr Knight promised to come around when I needed him, despite the fact Sadron had terminated his contract. “I’d feel guilt if you flunked a class because I deserted you” was what he said but I suspect it was also the fact we’d become more than tutor and student. We’d become friends as well. Thankfully he and Connor hit it off immediately so there was no stress on that front.

And that is the lowdown on the Prince and I. Well ex-prince to hear Connor tell it but I don’t think you can become an ex one. He was born a prince and he’ll be one long after I’m dead and gone. For now however we plan to live each day as it comes and enjoy the hell out of the time we have together.

The End