Late Night

Joel worked late, the desks outside the glass walls of his office empty. The lights on the floor low, but…he flicked a glance at the corner of his screen…not for long.

He read through the report he’d been working on, checked the numbers again, and hit save. His eyes on the outer office door, he leaned back in his chair, stretched his legs out under his desk, and waited.

The frosted glass door, the company name and logo etched front and centre, swung open. The lights came up, and a cleaning cart bumped over the threshold.

The orange vest was hideous. You would think, after all these weeks, Joel would be inured to its repellant neon sheen, but no. Too long, too wide, it hung on the man wearing it. Granted, the damn thing was probably one size fits all, and the guy wasn’t big.

Tell-tale white plastic hanging out of his ears, head bopping to music only he could hear, the man pushed the cart to the first desk. Black hair pulled into an undercut ponytail hung past the guy’s shoulders as he grabbed a spray bottle and cloth.

Desk cleaned, computer wiped down, and waste basket emptied, man and cart moved to the next cubicle. After almost two months of watching this man work, Joel had the routine down. The outer office first, desk to desk, cubicle to cubicle. Next, the vacuum cleaner mowed under chairs, and between desks. Joel’s office, the only enclosed space on the floor, was tackled last.

A knock on his open office door, a nod of greeting, and green eyes smiled in at him. Joel never got used to that smile either. He shut his laptop down, grabbed his suit jacket off the back of his chair, and got out of the guy’s way.

Same routine, desk, laptop, wastebasket. The vacuum cleaner whirred and was hooked back into place on the rolling cart. Joel, leaning against a desk in the cubicle outside his office, watched and waited. The earbuds disappeared into the guy’s pocket. The neon vest dropped onto the collection of cleaning supplies.

Hand on his cart, the man turned, tossed a smile at Joel. “Good to go?”

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Second Time Around

I self-published my first book in 2014. I thought it was good. I was wrong.

I didn’t know it then, but I’d broken just about every writing rule there is.

To anyone who purchased Fireworks, my apologies. And thank you. Thank you for taking a chance on a newbie author and for giving me hope that maybe, just maybe, I could do this.

Five years on, and I’ve learned a bit. Not everything, not by a long shot, but enough to take a stab at fixing the mistakes I made the first time around.

So, here it is, the new and improved—I hope—version of that first attempt: Daniel Mine.

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Just Looking

The music was loud, the strategically erratic lighting was a prelude to a migraine, and the men were all too young for him. Didn’t matter, he wasn’t hoping to talk any of them off the dance floor and into his car. This club, all the lithe swaying bodies, were his gift to himself.

Happy Birthday!

His eyes on the dance floor, David toasted himself and remembered when he had been one with the press of flesh in the middle of the club, when the music had beat through him…when he’d found himself, who he was and who he wanted, in the arms of strangers.

He didn’t regret those years, but he didn’t wish them back again either. He didn’t have the energy anymore, or the interest. He’d long ago learned that new didn’t mean better.

He wasn’t looking to hook up, he was just looking. Enjoying the view. Happy that he could enjoy the view. Happy that he was here at all, when for a while there he’d thought he might not be.

David nursed his drink, watched bodies merge and separate, heads thrown back and arms punching up into the storm of flashing lights above. He inhaled the life in the room, the laughter on the air, and smiled at the thought of next year, and the year after that.

He set his empty glass down and stood, dropped cash on the table.

“You leaving?” Blue eyes grinned up at David from under a mop of dark hair that was shaved on one side.

“Uh, yeah, I was just…”

“Looking?” The kid stepped into David’s space, brushed against him at thigh and hip. “Yeah, me too.”

The Interview

He should have lied.

The minute Jared got a look at the man on the other side of the desk, he should have made up some excuse and got the hell out of there, but…

He had student loans to pay, and he was fed up with the short-term contract jobs, and he really needed to move out of his parents’ place —

“U of T,” Nicholas Allan Noyes, President and CEO said, reading from the resume in front of him. “Master of Arts in Ancient History.”

“Yes.”

Jared didn’t add a sir to the yes because this wasn’t the military, he wasn’t a freaking boy scout, and — bullshit. He didn’t say sir because, oh God, he so wanted to.

“Latin?” Noyes asked. “Bet that comes in handy.”

“Not so far.”

That got him a smile. Fortunately, it was there and gone in a nanosecond because Jared couldn’t think when Noyes smiled at him. He was having enough trouble concentrating even without the smile. Concentrating on anything, but the fact that there was something about this guy that just flat-out did it for him. Something? Hah! Make that everything. The air of command, the stone jaw… God, even his hands—

“I see you’ve moved around a bit since graduation,” Noyes said, tapping the resume.

“Yes, contract work mostly. I’d like to find a more permanent home.”

With you, Jared thought, but he didn’t say that. He wasn’t psychotic.

Noyes sat back in his high-tech, black leather throne, Siberian blue eyes regarding Jared across the expanse of the polished slab of wood between them. “And what makes you think you’d be an asset to MicroSource?”

Jared trotted out his customary spiel, trying to sound intelligent when all he really wanted to know was what Noyes looked like under that bespoke suit and if he had a chance in hell of finding out …

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Proposal

“I’ve been thinking,” Martin said, spreading low-fat margarine over his toasted bagel. “We should get married.”

Charlie lowered his newspaper, looked at Martin over the top of his reading glasses. “What?”

“You heard me.”

“No.” Charlie went back to reading his paper.

“No, you didn’t hear me or no, you don’t want to get married?” Martin asked, grimacing as he bit into his bagel. It wasn’t the same without cream cheese and jam.

Charlie’s head popped over the paper again. “What’s the matter with you?”

“Nothing, I want to get married.” Martin said, setting his bagel down and picking up his coffee.

Charlie flapped the newspaper pages, but he didn’t look up. “No, you don’t.”

Martin snorted. “You mean you don’t.”

“Don’t tell me what I mean, you know I hate that.”

“Why? You tell me what I think.” Martin popped the last piece of bagel into his mouth and dusted toast crumbs off his fingers.

Charlie folded his newspaper, pushed away from the table. Thirty years with Martin had taught him when to retreat. “I’m off to the gym.”

“I don’t know why you bother going. It’s not like you actually work out,” Martin said, getting up to slot his breakfast plate into the dishwasher.

“Should have thought that was obvious,” Charlie said, rounding the kitchen table, and pinning Martin to the counter. “I go to get away from you.”

Laughter spilling into Martin’s face, he slipped Charlie’s reading glasses off, and set them on the counter. “Get out of here, moron.”

At the kitchen door, Charlie turned back, raised an eyebrow at Martin. “You bought rings, didn’t you?”

“Thought you were leaving?” Martin asked, pouring himself a second cup of coffee.

“Ah, shit.” 

Martin sipped his coffee, heard the hangers clang in the hall closet as Charlie got his jacket. 

“No reception,” Charlie called down the hallway to the kitchen, closing the front door behind him.

Ever the romantic, his Charlie.

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Lucky in Vegas

Eyes on his laptop, Brian searched Air Canada’s website for flights to Vegas. “The Belagio is supposed to be nice.”

“Yeah?” David wasn’t really listening to the man sitting on the other side of their kitchen table. He opened the Expedia website on his own laptop, typed Las Ve— “Wait, what?”

“The Belagio, Eric and Daniel stayed there last month. They said,” Brian looked up from his screen. “It was —”

“You are so full of shit.”

“What? They said the Belagio was excellent. Nice rooms, great pool, sumptuous spa.”

Brian was a bad actor. He couldn’t do innocent, not without a lobotomy. That tick at the side of his mouth, the one that said he was holding back a smile, gave him away every time.

“Yeah? Nice. Sounds good. We’re going to the Venetian.”

Brian shook his head, turned back to his screen. The small twitch at the side of his mouth became a full-on smile. “It’s not the only hotel on the Strip, you know.”

David didn’t bother answering that bit of heresy because they both knew it was the only hotel on the strip—for them. “Find a flight.”

Brian turned from the window, from his bird’s eye view of blue sky and white clouds over rust coloured mountains. He plugged his phone into the outlet between the seats, opened a game he’d become addicted to. “You know, we haven’t been to the Venetian in a while. They might have renovated, redecorated.”

“No, they haven’t.” David heard the smug in his voice. There was no way Brian missed it.

“You called and asked, didn’t you?”

“Yep.”

“Unbelievable. You actually asked if they still had—”

“Give me some credit. I wasn’t specific. I just said we were very happy with our room the last time we were there and was assured that nothing had been changed.” David sighed his satisfaction.

“Happy with the room,” Brian grinned. “Yeah, that was it.”

A five hour flight, a ten minute taxi ride, more time than David wanted to spend standing in line at check-in and they were finally in the elevator. Brian hit the button for their floor and his eyes locked with David’s.

The door hushed closed behind them. They dropped their bags and took in the room. Same railing dividing the room in two, same set of steps leading to the lower sitting area. Same king size bed and yeah, same—

“Still here.” Brian was already unbuttoning his shirt.

“Yep.” David kicked his shoes off.

The ensuite washroom boasted a flat screen you could see from the shower, the bath was big enough for two, and the towels were luxurious. The bed linen had a high thread count, the pillows were exactly right and the view of the strip was amazing at night, but none of those things mattered all that much to Brian and David. They were faithful to the Venetian because of the bench.

It wasn’t anything fancy, not by Vegas standards. A simple, solid piece of furniture, it sat at the foot of the bed. Upholstered to coordinate with the room, most people probably never saw it as more than a place to dump their suitcases.

Like everything else in Vegas, the bench’s magic rested in a happy coincidence of numbers. The height of the bench, the depth of its cushion, the relation of bench to bed. Angles and proportions, they all worked together to describe a sensual geometry.

Coincidence and luck, the very elements that built this city. If the bench was a little narrower, there wouldn’t be enough room for Brian to kneel behind David. If it was a little higher, the mattress wouldn’t be at the perfect height to pillow David’s chest as he leaned over the bed.

They didn’t need a casino to get lucky in Vegas.

Aimer at Amazon