This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Lavender Rose Copyright © 2012 by Theo Fenraven
Cover Art by Theo Fenraven
Mal rapped on Tristan’s door at precisely eight o’clock. He’d showered and changed into fresh jeans and a T-shirt, but he’d left the beard stubble. He felt sexier with it than without and hoped Tristan might feel the same way. Fingering his dark hair into place, he noticed it was getting shaggy but had no idea when he’d have time to get it cut or even where to have it done. He hadn’t been in Naples in years, and things changed constantly in Florida.
Mal had only recently decided to go after what he wanted. Before, he’d wished, he’d longed for and yearned, but he’d always held back, restrained by one thing or another.
Tonight, he was determined to go after Tristan, even if it cost him the job he had come to love in such a short time. He felt a strong pull toward the blond man that overrode his natural reticence. Waiting at the man’s door, his heart started to pound.
The door opened. Tristan stood there wearing a crisp white shirt and skinny pants. He’d lined his eyes and there was a touch of color on his lips. That pleased Mal; he’d said earlier how much he liked it, and Tristan had remembered.
“So punctual,” Tristan said, a smile teasing his lips. He stepped back. “Come in. Dinner will be served shortly.” As he shut the door behind Mal, Tristan said, “You like chicken?”
“Love it.” Mal smiled, observing how wonderfully the dining room table had been set. Crystal gleamed under a small, elegant chandelier, and the china and silverware was beautiful. A bottle of wine was open and breathing in a silver bucket.
Tristan gestured toward the bottle. “From Margaret River in Australia. May I pour you a glass?”
Smiling, Mal nodded, appreciating the care Tristan had taken with every detail. “We should make bets more often.”
He poured and handed Mal the glass. “They’re only great if you win.”
“True.” Laughing, Mal sipped. “I’m not much of a connoisseur, but this is nice.”
“I’ve learned a few things about wine, in order to make valid suggestions to our guests. In the process, I’ve come to enjoy the better vintages.”
Tristan filled a glass for himself, and they watched each other over the rims as they drank. Tristan’s gaze was assessing, and Mal wondered if he should just enjoy the dinner and forget any other plans. No stress, no pressure. Just a pleasant couple of hours spent with someone he liked. Mal had never made the first move. Even back in high school, it had been Sue that asked him out that first time. The thought of giving up before he began made him feel sad though, as if he was already admitting defeat.
There was a knock at the door, and Tristan let in servers from The Blue Rose. They wheeled in a cart covered with a white tablecloth. On it were various dishes, kept hot or cold in silver serving dishes.
Tristan waved them off. “Thank you. I’ll take care of it from here.”
After they left, Tristan gestured Mal into a chair and filled their plates. “The chicken is double-fried, sliced, and served in a kimchee sauce adorned with halved grapes and mint.”
Mal’s mouth watered as Tristan served him. “Smells great.”
They ate and drank and made small talk, and when their hunger was sated and they were on their last glasses of wine, Tristan suggested they move out to his patio. “The heat has faded, and it’ll be comfortable now.”
They sat in cushioned chairs, facing away from each other and looking into the woods. A soft breeze was blowing, and from a distance, they heard laughter. Mal guessed it was from the pool area.
“If you were a superhero, what would your power be?” Mal asked.
Tristan snickered softly. “What an odd question.”
Mal glanced at him, finished his wine, and set the glass down. “I’d want to be invisible.” Half the time, he felt that way already. Despite his looks, which he’d been told many times were distinctive, he blended into the scenery. At a party, he became part of the wallpaper, ignored and overlooked. It had always been like that for him. He supposed it was something in his personality that made people’s eyes slide past him on most occasions. He didn’t talk much and preferred staying in the shadows.
Maybe that’s why he was attracted to Tristan. That man had no trouble standing out, being the center of attention. His every gesture and word demanded, “Look at me!” Mal wondered what it would feel like to be that confident, that sure of himself.
“Not flying,” Tristan said. “It would muss my hair. Turning metal into gold would be handy, but I already have enough money. Changing the weather might be amusing, except I live in Florida because I like it hot and why would I want it to be different?”
Mal grinned. “You can’t think of one power you’d like to have? What about super hearing?”
“Dear heart, already I hear too much in one day that makes me despair of the human race. No, thank you.”
“What about being able to move things with a thought?”
He looked interested. “Telekinesis? That might be useful when redecorating. So much better than using muscle to move furniture around.”
Mal was enthralled. There was no other way to interpret the pleasure he felt being with Tristan. Everything the blond said made him smile. “You make me happy.”
Tristan shot him a surprised look. “What?”
“If I get a job elsewhere, would you consider seeing me? In a non-professional capacity, I mean.”
Tristan flushed a becoming pink. “You love this job, Mal. You said so just this afternoon.”
“I do love it.” Mal leaned toward Tristan, gazing at him intensely across the table. “This might be the best job I’ve ever had, but some things are more important.”
Tristan looked away, as if embarrassed. “I don’t want you to leave.”
Mal considered the words, turning the various meanings over in his mind, and finally decided they were meant in a positive manner. “What about your rule? About not dating other employees?”
Tristan turned and gave him a level look. “It’s not written in stone.”
Mal smiled, a slow upturning of the lips that transformed his face into something radiant. “So I don’t have to leave before you’ll consider, uh…”
“Seeing you?” Tristan’s smile was sweet. “What happens when things don’t work out?”
“Do you always see the end of something before it’s even begun?”
His laugh was as pretty as silver bells. “Touché.”
More than ever, Mal felt Tristan might be someone important in his life. He didn’t know how or why, but when seemed to be now. It was time for him to reach out and take hold of his future. To that end, he made his way around the table to where Tristan sat, watching him with guarded eyes.
Mal knelt between Tristan’s legs and looked up at him. The man’s green eyes looked into his brown ones, waiting. “I like the eye liner.” Mal rose to his knees and looked at Tristan more closely. “It’s very sexy.” He drew in a quick breath, steeling himself. “You’re very sexy.”
“You, Mal, are going to cause me a great deal of trouble.”
“Do you mind?”
“Less and less.”
Mal swallowed hard. “I know almost nothing. Will you be patient?”
Tristan leaned down until his mouth was only inches from Mal’s. “Are you sure this is what you want?”
Mal knew he was really asking Are you sure I’m what you want and although doubts still flickered along his most buried nerves, he slowly nodded. He’d committed to this, willingly and with quiet joy. He couldn’t explain it, he just knew it was right.
Sue had been the love of his teenaged years, and although he loved her still, she was no longer enough. He wanted more, and Tristan seemed to be what he wanted.
Anything could be over-thought. He refused to do it. He now wanted only to feel, to experience, to accept whatever happened.
Tristan took Mal’s hand in his, stroking the back of it lightly. “Do you really want to watch a film tonight?”
“I was thinking “Now, Voyager,” but perhaps you have something else in mind?” Mal’s tone was teasing, but beneath that, he trembled, wondering if he’d done the right thing, taking the lead. Always, he expected to be shot down, rejected, abandoned, and briefly, he wondered why. His parents had loved him well enough. Maybe he hadn’t been cherished, but they’d cared for him, made sure he had what he needed. Why was he so afraid of not being accepted?
“I’ll tell you a secret,” Tristan whispered, his mouth now next to Mal’s ear. “There is a television in my bedroom, and if you really want to see that movie tonight, we can watch it in bed.”
Mal’s breath caught, and he turned and pressed his lips against Tristan’s. Their tongues touched, withdrew, met again. A river of fire ran through him all the way to his crotch, making his cock stand at attention. He wrapped a hand around Tristan’s neck, pulling him closer. The kiss deepened and their breathing came faster.
There was no more talk about a movie.
(to be continued)
If you are enjoying this story, please consider purchasing The Blue Paradise and Phoenix Rising when they are released this summer and fall by Dreamspinner Press. Follow me here, on twitter (@fenraven), or on G+ for book info, contest news, excerpts, and release dates.