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Chapter One



“This street is like a deli counter for you, isn’t it?”  Lucy winks when she says this.


We’re in the left hand turn lane on Santa Monica and Robertson on our way to continue an afternoon of errands and shopping.  Sure, we could both afford to have someone else do these piddly tasks for us, but we like to do them together.  She says it makes her feel like my wife for a day. 


“Come on, now,” I say.  “I’ve behaved much better lately.”  Turning on Robertson, I glance at the crowded courtyard of The Abbey.  Lucy sees me and presses her knuckles into my arm.


“It’s broad daylight, Elijah.  The cute boys will see all your wrinkles.”


“That’s not nice,” I grumble, but then take a real look. 


The place is full for 4:30 on a Tuesday and as always, there is no shortage of prime boy meat on the hoof vying for attention. 


Lucy says “let’s stop for a drink.  I could use a martini, and I love to watch you cruise the kindergartners.”


I lift an eyebrow over my shades.  “I keep telling you you’re too thin and glamorous to be a fag hag.”


“But, Elijah,” she says, batting her big hazel eyes.  “With such a gorgeous fag to hag, how could I resist?”


I pull into the parking lot across the street from The Abbey and tuck the Jag in; Lucy and I jay-walk across Robertson.  This early there’s no bouncer at the door, so we walk straight through the courtyard and grab two seats at the outdoor bar.  The hunk behind the counter winks at me, but it takes me a minute to remember his name.


When it comes to me, I say “hey, Ricky.”


“Eli.  Always nice to see you.”  He places red cocktail napkins down in front of us and gives my friend a playful grin.  “Such a pretty lady ought to be careful who she’s seen with.  This one’s gotta bad reputation.”


With a bright laugh, Lucy says “I hope so, dear.  I helped him build it.  I’d love a Goose martini, up, with a splash of cranberry and a lemon wedge.”


“You got it,” Ricky says.  “Eli, the usual?”


“Please.”  I tuck my glasses into the front pocket of my shirt and get comfortable in my seat.  Lucy props her right foot on the wrung of my stool.  She’s smirking.


“Go on, now; don’t restrain yourself.  Give the merchandise a good leer.”


I laugh, lean my elbow on the bar and turn to peruse the room. 


There are many familiar faces--some new, some I’ve had, others I’d never want.  A few of them flirt as my gaze passes them; no reason not to.  We’re all here for the same thing.  We might as well be friendly.  I recognize a guy who works at the bank where I keep most of my business accounts and we exchange a nod.  Otherwise, the room is uneventful.


“Nothin’, huh?” Lucy says as Ricky serves our drinks.


“Looks like you don’t get to watch me divide and conquer today.”  We clink glasses and drink, then she shakes her head.


“You’re so stuck up.”


“I know.  That’s why you love me.”


“No, honey, I love you cuz you always pay for everything.”


“Speaking of,” Ricky says.  “Keep the tab open?”


“Sure.  Thanks.” 


He grins at Lucy again, then goes to speak to some new customers at the other end of the bar.  My gaze follows him because he’s got gorgeous arms, but I lose interest quickly.  Ricky’s a great looking young man in his early 30’s but he’s a little old for my current taste.  Of late I’ve been craving them far younger.  My 42-year-old Lucy never misses an opportunity to tease me about this; especially since she’s two years my junior.


She pushes the lemon wedge around in her drink with a manicured fingernail.  “So, how much longer do you have to kiss Michael Ward’s boots—which, by the way, I still cannot imagine?”


I sip my Dewar’s and crunch an ice cube before I answer.  “I’m not exactly sure.  He says I’m almost ready, but I have no idea what ready entails in this situation.”


“You said he’d ‘trained’ other people before.” Lucy makes air quotes with her fingers.  “I’m sure he’s got some sort of twisted curriculum he follows.”


“He says it’s different for everyone.  He tells me he’ll just know when I’m ready and then he’ll release me.”


“Release you,” she says with her predictable eye-roll.  “He’s such a nutjob.”


I grin, sip my drink.  “He’s not as nuts as you think.  He’s a visionary, a searcher.  I know you think I’m nuts for doing what I do with him, but it feels right to me.”


“I know,” she says.  “I listen to you, Elijah.  I know you need to do this stuff with him.  I just can’t imagine some of it.”


“Well, trust me, Big Mike is very convincing.”


Lucy snorts.  “‘Big Mike’.  Is that what you and your leathermates call him?”


“Mostly, we call him ‘master’.”  I wink at her as I recall my latest session with the fascinating, infuriating Michael Ward. 


For someone so prescient about human nature, he manages to use it in the most teeth-clenchingly annoying ways he can muster.  But that’s why he’s so good at his work.  He’s certainly bringing out the best possible darkness in me and if he didn’t bug me so damn much, that would never have surfaced.  He’s often intolerable but he’s the perfect sort of mentor for this task.


I’m still sore from his last beating.  The hot welts chafe against the soft cotton of my shirt with every breath.  The striped wounds across my ass and thighs healed faster because the skin in those places is tougher, but Mike doesn’t usually take his whip to my upper back.  That skin is still pink and tender.  I never know what to expect from our sessions as far as what new and humiliating demonstration he’ll require of me.  But one thing is always certain: I will be thrashed until I weep.


And curiously, the last two sessions have culminated with the hardest, deepest orgasms I’ve ever experienced even though Mike never lays his actual hands on me.  The pain of his expert strokes has become a conduit—a gateway of sorts to a deep core of power I never knew I had.  It makes me wonder how it feels to wield that weapon, to control another’s pleasure with such acute, confident knowledge. 


He mentioned that he thought I was a natural dominant once when we first began, but it’s never come up since.  For the better part of a year, I’ve been his obedient, dutiful and willing student.  Michael Ward is a hulking, glowering beast to behold, but when attached to that braided length of leather, he’s the sexiest man alive.


“You don’t have to have sex with him, do you?” Lucy’s delicate nose crinkles.


“I don’t have to do anything.  But, I must say Mike has a certain magnetism that makes me wonder what it would be like.”


She shivers.  “I wouldn’t fuck that man with your dick.  He gives me the creeps.”  She crosses her legs and I grin down at her sexy new boots.  She bounces her leg to show them off. 


“You like these cuz they’re bad-ass,” she says.


“I like them cuz you like them.  And they look great on you.”


She’s still admiring her new boots when a young girl walks right into her outstretched leg.  They both smile and apologize, the younger woman blushing prettily.  Her smile holds my attention for a moment and she turns to me briefly before excusing herself and walking to the far end of the bar. 


Her hair is dark auburn, floating down her lean back in thick waves.  Her posture is naturally straight and graceful suggesting she may be a dancer, but then I tend to see dancers everywhere lately.  Her skin is fresh and creamy, her eyes light brown, like Lucy’s.  She could even be Lucy’s younger sister. 


I feel my friend nudge me and realize I’m staring at this girl.


“You switching teams on me?” she says.  “If you are, you better give me first crack after decades of faithful hagging.”


I shake my head, blushing.  “Not that I’m aware of.  She’s just . . . I don’t know.  There’s something about her.  She reminds me of you.”


“Aww.”  She leans forward and kisses me. 


I start to say something when someone brushes by me, near enough that I feel the heat of his body.  I glance up as a tall, gorgeous brunette with deep brown eyes and flawless skin stops suddenly in front of Lucy.


“Great boots!” he says with cheerfully genuine enthusiasm.


“Thank you!” she squeals.  “I stalked them on the internet for months until I found my size.”  She bounces her leg again.  “I might just wear them to bed.”


The young man laughs.  “Be careful you don’t put an eye out.”  He winks then moves off toward the pretty girl at the bar.  He towers over her by at least seven inches but his posture is also straight and elegant, shoulders lowered, neck long—dancer form.  But there I go again seeing dancers everywhere. 


This young man sees me watching him and turns to me, but only for a second.  His attention is taken away by the approach of another young man—this one slightly shorter than he, with honey blond hair and fair skin like the girl.  Briefly I wonder if they’re siblings, but then I notice his arms are dotted with dark freckles.  I only see this boy for a few seconds and only from behind, but I can’t stop watching the reaction of the dark haired boy.


“What?” Lucy whispers.


I shake my head.  “Their dynamic is interesting.  The brunette seems to be in love with the boy that just walked in—unless I’m reading it wrong.”


“Can’t blame him; did you see his face?” she says.  “The little blond, I mean.”


“He went by too fast.”


Her lips tilt in an impish smirk.  “Take a look at him.  He’s insanely pretty and exactly your latest type.  He’s even workin’ a lollypop for maximum little-boy effect.”


“Wow,” I laugh.  “Can’t believe I missed that.”  I sip my drink and keep an eye on the three young people as they order drinks from Ricky.


I can just hear what they say over the chatter in the outdoor bar.  The girl asks for a whisky sour and the brunette orders a Corona with no lime.  Ricky asks for both their ID’s, which they produce to his satisfaction.  He nods to the blond and asks what he would like. 


As he leans in to peer at the beer and soda bottles along the back wall, I see the stick of his lollypop hanging from full, bee-stung lips.  I see the shadow of impossibly long eyelashes and the smooth curve of a graceful, silken neck, also dotted with freckles.  He takes the lollypop out of his mouth to speak—it’s bright red, cherry or watermelon flavored, most likely—and his inviting lips are stained crimson from the candy.


“Do you have diet Pepsi?” he asks Ricky in a sandy, unexpectedly deep voice.


Ricky says they do and the little blond orders a soda, no alcohol.  As Ricky turns away to make their drinks, the blond turns to me.  And I’m suddenly very certain I’m going to die.


He’s perfect; perfect.  In the late afternoon sunlight his big eyes are doe-round and the color of moss.  His slightly upturned nose is dashed with a constellation of pronounced freckles; his skin so pale, he looks like a doll.  In fact, if he wasn’t visibly breathing I would think he was a doll. 


I’ve caught his attention—maybe only because I’m staring at him—but whatever it is, I’m thrilled to have it.  My heart pounds and my throat goes dry.  He puts the lollypop back in his plump cherry mouth and wraps his lips around it as he looks at me looking at him.  I think I see the hint of a smile, but it doesn’t quite materialize.  Not yet, at least.


Lucy whispers “breathe, Elijah.”


Her voice reminds me to breathe and then I have to look away from that magnetic boy.


“I told you,” she says. 


“Damn, he’s gorgeous.”


“Yes.  And he’s two.  Let’s get another round, grandpa.”  She waves to Ricky as he’s mixing up the young girl’s whisky sour and gestures that we’d like to go again.  


I watch him serve the kids their drinks, getting cute by tossing a bright red maraschino cherry into the diet Pepsi before placing it in front of the blond boy.  That young face blooms in the prettiest smile I’ve ever seen on a human and he tells Ricky thanks.  Then he looks back at me.


I straighten my back and feel the scratch of those tender welts under my shirt again.  The discomfort brings my focus back and I manage to appear at ease.  Or so I think.  Lucy’s smirking which could certainly mean I’m making an ass of myself.  Or it could simply mean that my recently regained sexual self-confidence is amusing her. 


The boy is still looking at me.  He takes the lollypop out of his mouth long enough to sip his soda, then he sets the glass on the bar.  He keeps watching me as he wriggles lithely up onto a stool, then the lollypop goes back in between those luscious lips.  His expression is confident; amused and almost cocky.  I love that he knows how hot he is.  Boys like him are the creamy filling of my wet dreams.


“What’s the hold up, Elijah?” Lucy says, baiting me.  “Too much chicken in your chicken hawk?”


I stick my tongue out at her and we giggle.


“Shut up, you.”


Ricky brings us our fresh drinks and I empty the first one in a gulp. 


Glancing over at the blond boy, I’m disappointed that he’s turned back to his friends.  They seem to be having some sort of negotiation, the girl reaching into her handbag.  A moment later she brings out her wallet and hands the brunette a ten dollar bill.  He then strides into the interior bar, disappearing into the gathering crowd there.


The girl climbs up onto a stool next to the blond and settles in with her drink.  He’s leaning back against the bar, both elbows resting on it which accentuates the lines of his muscular young body.  He brings his long legs up Indian-style on the stool, that lollypop still perched in his mouth. 


Utterly casual in jeans, sandals and a loose fitting gray t-shirt, this boy did not ponce up to go out looking for a date.  He might even have been napping when his friends arrived to take him for a few drinks.  This is not the sort of boy who trolls for lovers. 


I am a moth to that flame and I’m moving toward him before I consciously decide to do so.  I feel Lucy’s eyes on me and I’m comforted by that.  She’ll interrupt me if I do anything ferociously stupid. 


The young girl sees me first.  She sips her drink and smiles at me with her eyes, encouraging, sweet.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was flirting—but she has to know better, doesn’t she?  She’s in a gay bar.  I return her sweet smile regardless, and then I’m leaning on the bar next to her delectable blond companion.


I’m close enough to smell that sticky lollypop: cherry, it is.  I glance down at his soda and see the cherry Ricky gave him still rests on the ice in his glass.  He turns to me, rolls the lollypop from one side of his mouth to the other with his tongue, then he reaches up and takes it out by the stick.


For a suspended moment I just grin and flirt without saying anything.  He grins back, licks his lollypop, shows me his bubble-gum pink tongue and his cherry candy-stained lips.  I’m encouraged by this. 


I sip my drink, grin.  We just look at each other.  When I think I have a great opening line all cued up, I start to speak—but he stops me.


“Don’t blow it,” he says, green eyes twinkling with amusement.  “You’re wicked hot.  No need to try too hard.”


“I looked like I was going to try too hard?”


“You looked like you were going to lay some stupid-ass line on me—like asking me what my sign is or if I come here often or something.”  He grins, turns to me a bit more, waits to see what I offer him next.


I like him instantly. 


“All right,” I say.  “I probably was going to say something stupid like that.  Instead, I’ll just ask you if you’d like a drink.”


He sucks on his cherry lollypop.  “No, thank you.  Not old enough to drink.”


I glance at his soda then back at him.  “Well, how old are you?”


“Twenty,” he says around the cherry red sucker.


I grin, crank up the flirting.  “When are you twenty-one?”


“March,” he says.  “When were you twenty-one?”


“January of 1985.”


His smooth brow lifts.  “So, you’re 44?”


I lean closer.  “Wow, adorable and smart.  Aren’t you a catch?”


“That’s what I hear.” 


I glance at his girlfriend and she blushes from my attention, bats her eyes.  I ask her “what do you think?  Is he a catch?”


Brightly she says “he’s a pain in the ass, but some people go for that sort of thing.”  She nudges him and then giggles like the little girl she is.


The boy rolls his dark green eyes, but obviously loves her teasing. 


“Well,” I say, looking back at him.  “He’s certainly cute, pain in the ass notwithstanding.”


The boy turns the sucker on his tongue, eyes twinkling at me.  I watch his mouth, his long fingers twirling the white stick.  I lick my lips and ask him what flavor he’s got, even though I know.

Voice sandy and low, he says “cherry.”


“Oh,” I say with a little brow waggle.  “Tryin’ to tell me something?”


He grins around the candy in his mouth.  “Daddy, this is the only cherry I’ve got.  I promise.  Well, this and the one in my soda.”


His girlfriend suddenly slugs him in the arm.  “Dude!” she says.  “Don’t be so mean.”


We look at her, both bewildered. 


Blinking, he says “what?”


Her eyes dart to me shyly; I’m very curious about her answer.


She murmurs her response as though she’s trying to keep me from hearing her.  “You called him ‘daddy’.  That’s mean.”


The boy bursts out laughing and shakes his head.  “Dude,” he says to her.  “I’m not being mean.  Really.”  He looks at me, his smooth freckled cheeks rosy.  “You know that, right?”


“Yes, I know that.”  I look at her and say “it’s actually a compliment.  It means he thinks I’m hot for my age.”


Her eyebrows lift.  “It does?”


The boy and I nod. 


Confused, she says “clearly I need a Gay-to-English dictionary.”


We laugh and he and I turn to each other again.  This momentary sidetrack from our conversation proved beneficial because now I know he’s interested. 


I lean on the bar and move slightly closer still.  He glances at my arm, then back up at my eyes, letting me know he knows what I’m up to.  His eyes say ‘no sudden moves.’  He seems afraid I’ll try to touch him, even though I won’t—not until he asks me to. 


I moved closer because I want him to smell me.  I want to see his reaction when he does.  Pheromones are the most powerful aphrodisiac and I plan to clobber this ripe young man with my stronger, more virile scent.  If he likes it, his mouth will water and he’ll lick his lips.  I smile and watch, wait.


He’s spinning that sucker in his mouth and then he takes it out, twinkly eyes moving up and down my body with unabashed interest.  He licks his lips. 


“You’re in great shape,” he says.


“Thank you.  I used to dance professionally.  I guess I’m used to staying active.”


His eyes brighten and so do the girl’s. 


She says “you’re a dancer?”


“I was,” I tell her.  “I used to be with The Ainsley Ballet.”


He starts to say something when suddenly the tall brunette bounds back to the group.  He’s holding a three-pack of condoms he got out of the vending machine in the men’s room.  He hands the girl a few dollars change and she tucks it away in her purse.


“Thanks, baby,” the brunette says, kissing her cheek.


“You’re welcome.  Go forth and slut safely, my son.”


“I plan to.”  The brunette turns to me, looks me up and down, clocks my proximity to the blond. 


He smirks.  “Hey.”




We exchange wary, alpha dog regard. 


He tells me “your eyes are crazy blue.  Contacts?”




“Nice,” he says, sips his beer, never takes his eyes off me.


“Thanks.”  I glance at the blond for reference.  “Boyfriend?”


“Nope,” the brunette says.


The blond breathes a laugh.  “CNC doesn’t do boyfriends.  He just wants to play the field.”


“Until he gets crabs,” the girl cheerfully interjects.


The brunette chuckles and then finishes his beer.  I watch him wave Ricky over to order another.


 He looks at me.  “Would you like anything?”


“Thanks, I’m good.”  I turn my attention back to the blond and move close enough to feel the heat of his body.  Our arms are almost touching.  I notice he has a gossamer down of blond hairs over every inch of exposed skin.  I imagine what those hairs would feel like tickling my tongue, what they would taste like as I wet them with saliva. 


He’s watching my face, licking that cherry sucker.  We’re close enough to whisper and not be heard by his friends.  I look in his eyes, silently asking for his thoughts.  He knows by now if he’s leaving with me.  He probably knew as soon as I walked up.  He takes the sucker out of his perfect doll-mouth then he leans slightly toward me and . . . sniffs.  The forwardness of this action surprises me because the young ones are rarely so confident.  I watch his handsome face as he inhales again and then he puts that sucker back in his mouth.


“You’re dangerous, aren’t you?” he asks. 


I tilt my head, frown.  “Why, do I smell like I’m keeping human heads in my fridge?” 


He grins, and then suddenly crushes the remainder of the candy sucker with his teeth.  Tiny bits of hard red sugar stick to his lips as he chews what’s in his mouth.  He watches me the whole time while he crunches and swallows.  He seems unaware of the glistening flecks of sugar on his lips.  I can’t stop staring at them.  He follows my gaze and his tongue tracks over his lips, gathering the clinging bits of candy. 


One little sugar spark remains right in the center of his pouty, perfect bottom lip and I touch it with the tip of my finger.  He stays still while I do this, eyes on mine, lips parted to accept my touch.


The sugar bit sticks to my finger; I hold it up for him to see.  “You gonna eat this?”


He grins, licks the taste of my finger from his lip.  “Nah, go for it.”


I slip my finger in my mouth and lick that fleck of candy away.  It’s too small to taste like much, but I love the intimacy of the act.  It’s like a kiss through window glass.  We just look at each other for a long time.  His eyes tell me his decision is made, but I can’t see what it is.  I do, however, see slight reservation.  I take a guess at what that might be.


“Have you ever been with a man my age?”


He nods once as if to say ‘of course’.  Then he takes another deep sniff of me and says “your age isn’t the issue; I prefer older guys.  I smell leather.”


I glance down at what I’m wearing—black button down shirt untucked, jeans, boots and a belt.  But the belt is new and probably does still smell like freshly treated leather.  I tell him this, lifting my shirt tails so he can see the belt in question.


He glances at it, dismisses it, then looks in my eyes.  “Do you like to spank little boys with that belt?  Cuz I’m not really into that stuff.”


His question takes my breath away and I swallow, my throat clicking annoyingly.  “Why would you think that?” I say because I really, really need to know.  I can’t begin to guess what about my appearance or my approach tipped him off.


He sighs, looks me up and down.  “It’s just a feeling,” he says and then his gaze settles on mine.  “So . . . spanking?”


I breathe a laugh, shake my head, lean on the bar trying to appear more casual, relaxed.  But my heart is pounding to beat the band.  “Sorry to disappoint.”


The boy’s keen green eyes widen in what appears to be surprise.  He sits up straight on his stool, letting his legs unfold and his sandaled feet hook the wrung under him.  His fingers grip the edge of his seat and he turns to me, arms nicely stretched and defined.  The late afternoon sun picks up the gold in the hairs there.


“You’re lying.”


I blink, try to keep my cool.  “I’m not, though.  I’m very mild mannered, I assure you.”


He shakes his head and then he steps off his stool and reaches back for his soda.  He sniffs me again, but he’s turning away.  With his chin lowered, he bats his eyes and says “I smell leather and it’s not your new belt, daddy.”  He takes two steps away then walks toward the brunette. Glancing over his shoulder at me, he says “I’m not into lies, either.  It’s too bad, you’re gorgeous.  See ya.”  And then he turns his back.


I take a deep breath, let it out, shake my head then walk back to my seat across from Lucy.  I plunk down, draining my second scotch.  She’s watching me but not teasing, not smirking.  She can tell I’m genuinely put out.


Quietly she asks what went wrong.


“He said I lied to him.”


“Wow, him too?  Lotta that going around.”


“I know.”


“Okay,” she says.  “Did you lie?  And was it the same lie?”


 I stare at the ice in my glass as though the right answer might materialize there.


“I suppose.  He said he smelled leather on me and asked me if I liked to spank little boys.”


“How on earth did he come to that conclusion?  You didn’t offer to play hanky-spanky with him already, did you?”


“Of course not.  I have no idea how he guessed.”


She squints.  “Huh.  Very intuitive.  Interesting for such a young man.”


“Mm hm.”


Ricky comes by and I order another Dewar’s.  Lucy’s still working on her second Goose.  She and I are quiet until he brings my fresh drink, and then she leans in close to me.


“What did you say when he asked you that?”


“I inferred that I wasn’t that kind of guy.”


She nods slightly.  “So, you did lie.”


I squint.  “No . . . I’ve never spanked anyone in my life.”


Lucy takes a deep breath, purses her lips.  “But that’s what he’s doing.”


I blink, confused and a bit wary.  “What?  Who?”


“King Twist!  Your master, Mike Ward.  He’s grooming you to dominate.”


I look down into my drink, not sure what to say next.  I’ve been very careful about what I’ve shared with Lucy about this experience.  I’ve wanted her to know just enough detail to make her feel up to speed, but not enough to make her lose her lunch.  I’ve never mentioned anything about Mike training me to dominate, but she’s clearly come to the conclusion on her own.


I ruminate on this for too long and she rolls her eyes.  “Honey, I’m not blind.  Ward has been teaching you to dominate this whole time.”


I frown harder.  “But at present, I am a hundred percent his submissive.”


She sighs.  “Yes, because he’s got it in his screwed up mind that this is all part of your training.  I listen very closely to everything you tell me, you know.  I knew what he was up to from that night he plucked you out of hundreds of people at that fundraiser.  I wasn’t there, but the way you described it made it so obvious to me.  He already had his plan in mind before he approached you.”


I sip my new drink and recall the night she’s referring to.  It was a fundraiser at Channing Concert Hall—huge crowd, upwards of 800 people.  I was there with my ex, David, and that was the night I embarked on my strange and life-changing journey with David’s boss.  His boss was then, and is still, Michael Ward. 


Lucy leans in closer, whispering as the afternoon bar crowd presses in around us.  “I probably know you better than anyone—and you are no one’s submissive, Elijah.  Sure, you find what he’s doing with you thrilling and addicting, but the deeper he takes you, the closer you get to the edge.  I see it on you so clearly.”  She glances over at the blond and his friends.  “If that boy you’d never met could see it—lots of people can.” 


Her words sink in like water in freshly turned earth.  Lucinda Marie Daschel has been my best and closest friend for nearly thirty-five years.  She does indeed know me better than anyone else.  All these months, I’ve been focusing entirely on the complete release of being Mike’s submissive, even though he told me the first day we began that his plan was to teach me to dominate.  Since it hasn’t come up again since, I’ve allowed myself to put it out of my mind.  Almost as though it was never there at all.


I’m reminded of a remark Mike made when my marriage finally ended.  He said he’d always wondered why I’d played the weaker partner with David when I was clearly the stronger one.  I told him I’d felt like the weaker partner until the relationship started to unravel.  The reason that bond came loose was because Mike had been drawing out my true nature.  The power balance silently shifted and David just couldn’t find his footing again.


I sigh and kiss her forehead.  She knows I’m out of sorts and don’t want to continue this discussion right now.  I glance over at the three young people at the end of the bar. 


The blond is still there but his back is to me now.  The three are engaged in a lively conversation and the brunette—now that he’s packing fresh rubbers—is scanning the room for prey.  He should have no trouble finding willing game as fine as he is. 


I look at the blond’s back once more then I turn away.  It won’t be any time soon that I forget our encounter.  Something about him got under my skin in that very short conversation, even though I can’t quite put my finger on what.


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