I hate these events. Rooms packed with glitter and gold, everyone preening, cackling, smiling. A woman at the bar, her dress cut down to her navel, stares at me. I meet her eyes, then look away. She’d be perfect. Bent over the bathroom sink, that gown flipped over her back, feet spread, back arched. I’d take her quickly, my hands skimming down the straps of her gown, baring her breasts, and then watch them in the mirror as I fuck her. I turn and accept a glass of champagne, my heartbeat increasing, and I walk forward, moving away from her and will my dick to soften.
* * *
She’d be loud when I let loose on her. I’d have to gag her with my fingers, muffle her moans, silence her with my kiss. Her skin would flush, her lipstick smear, and she’d flex around my cock, contracting tightly before she drops to her knees and opens her mouth for me.
* * *
Jesus. I push open the bathroom door and nod to the attendant, taking the farthest stall and closing the door. My hands quick, I unzip my pants, pull out my cock, and squeeze it. Closing my eyes, thinking of her breasts, the mirror’s reflection of them bouncing as I slam into her… the orgasm comes, quick and sudden, and I lean over the toilet and shoot the evidence into it.
* * *
Breathing hard, I give myself a moment to compose myself, a moment where I put myself back together, all of the pieces of Marco Lent shuttering back into place. Stepping out of the stall, I wash my hands and accept the hand towel.
“Thank you.” I open my wallet, pulling out a fifty and passing it to him without meeting his eyes.
* * *
Back in the room, the crowd moves toward the auditorium, the woman gone from the bar, and I find Vince by the doors, his hand gripping mine, the crowd cheering as we step through the doors and onto the press walk.
* * *
“Mr. Horace!” A camera is shoved in Vince’s face and he stops, my attention grabbed by a second reporter, his microphone extended, calling my name. I turn to him, the famous Marco Lent smile in place.
* * *
“Mr. Lent, what is it like, watching your partner being awarded Gay Man of the Decade?”
* * *
I widen my smile. “I’ll let you know in a few minutes.”
* * *
There is another shout of my name, a dozen more camera flashes.
* * *
“How long have you and Vince Horace been an exclusive couple?”
* * *
“For me?” I laugh. “Three years. For Vince…” I make a face and am elbowed by the man himself, who clamps a hand on my shoulder and scowls at the press.
* * *
“Don’t listen to this guy. Look at him! How can I even be tempted by anyone else?” He presses a kiss to my cheek and I smile, the flashbulbs going crazy, the crowd behind them cheering.
* * *
Three years. Three years, and I was dying inside.
SEVEN YEARS LATER
I fucking hate fashion. Not the clothes, but the people, the illusion—this industry was handed down to us by the greats, and we’ve poisoned it with greed, inflated opinions and social standings. The garment no longer seems to matter, just the label sewn into its neck. A brilliant gown could be ruined by the wrong pedigree, banished to a Des Moines TJ Maxx rack and some cornhusker’s high school prom. In this world, the designers are the gods and lives are orchestrated, backs stabbed, promises and threats made, all to try to climb onto one of those almighty thrones.
I’m the worst of the bunch, and know the sacrifices more than anyone. The last ten years of my life has been orchestrated, a web of deceit and lies, all for one of those thrones.
I sit in a Vince Horace original, an omen to the god, the custom silk-blend suit hugging perfectly to my build. It should. He measured me himself, stretching out that gold and red tape measure, his glasses perched atop his nose, his eyes admiring the lines of my muscles as he worked. Now, I watch him sleep, the fur coverlet tucked under his thin forearms, the limbs slack and almost swallowed by the tubes and wires. Between us, set against gold-leaf walls and velvet curtains, a monitor beeps, his statistics displayed in quiet clarity.
It’s been four days since he last spoke. Four days that I’ve sat in this chair and watched one of the only men I’ve ever loved, die.
“Are you done with dinner, sir?”
I don’t turn my head to acknowledge the man or the silver plate that sits on the table beside me, the veal now cold, the greens past limp. “Yes. I’d like another drink.”
“Certainly. I’ve taken the liberty of calling in Tony. He’ll be here shortly.”
“That’s fine.” In another situation, I would wave off the masseuse, but if there is any energy left in Vince, it doesn’t need to be wasted with scolding me on the finer things in life. If he knew I was sitting here with a stiff back and tight neck, he’d bust a blood vessel, his lips sputtering, eyebrows pinching, disappointment heavy in those piercing brown eyes.
“Marco.” When he speaks, my name is soft, almost lost in the clink of silver, the butler pausing, both of our heads turning at the sound. I rise, stepping to the bed and link my fingers through his, a contrast of strong against weak, tan against pale. I keep my eyes on the man’s face, his eyelids fluttering for a moment but not lifting. “I think it’s time.”
“I know. Stop stalling, old man.”
A ghost of a smile lifts one corner of his mouth, a mouth I know so well, so much wisdom and friendship passing through those lips—a decade of curses and brilliance. “Live well, Marco.” He wheezes out the words, his hand tightening on mine for a whisper of a moment.
I swallow. “I love you, Vince.” I know the answer before it comes, yet need to hear it one final time.
“Always, vecchio amico.”
“Always, vecchio amico.” I lean forward and press my lips to his forehead. “The world will miss you.”
I wait for a scoff, a humble protest of something we both know to be true, but there is only a gentle sigh, a moment of peace falling over those strong features, the muscles in his face falling, my grip of his hand unreturned.