Nine – Ian
“Your lips are like marzipan.” I ran my thumb over his lower lip, entranced and besotted beyond what was sensible. “A ripe, red strawberry-molded treat rolled in sugar. A sweet delight that entices.”
His mouth drew up at the corners. I reclined under him, his glorious hair spread out over my chest and stomach, his smooth body pliant and pink from the rub of my whiskers on his most intimate parts.
It had been three weeks since that first night at Gems. Twenty one nights of coming to this bordello, bidding upward of ten thousand dollars a night, then making love and sleeping curled around Opal. My infatuation was complete, and the topic of many conversations with both my head of security and my personal assistant. Try as they may, they’d not succeeded in dissuading me from seeking him out nightly. No one would.
“I’m sleepy,” he cooed, his words floating to the ceiling with that tacky incense smoke someone thought had to be lit. It was annoying and I’d started extinguishing it as soon as I entered his suite but the thin cloud of scented smoke lingered. As if the room needed a better smell than Opal. Nothing could possibly smell better than this man with the smell of sex on his skin. “Can we grab a few winks?”
“Will you go out to dinner with me?”
His heavy lids snapped up and he flipped to his side, his long hair sliding over my skin, making me half-hard.
“Dinner?” He gazed at me in confusion, as if I’d asked him to code some MATLAB and Simulink for memoryless nonlinearity.
“Yes, dinner. Tomorrow night.”
“I have to work.”
“Do you never get a night off?” He shook his head. I was floored. How could that be? Surely, this Kennedy didn’t expect his employees to work every single night. That had to be a violation of about twenty labor laws. Then it hit me. Smart man that I am, sometimes my privilege makes me incredibly stupid. Labor laws didn’t apply to prostitutes. This stunning young man, and his coworkers, had no unions fighting for them, no state or federal guidelines to ensure they were treated fairly by their employer. “It’s time you did. Is there a rule forbidding you from leaving your suite with a bidder? What if I wanted to have you accompany me to a fundraiser or a show on the west side?”
He blinked at me, wet his lips, and slowly sat up, his hair slipping down to cover his nipples. “No one has ever wanted to take me out. I’m not sure if it’s allowed.”
“Well, let’s find out.” I rolled out of the bed, stepped into my trousers, and made for the door. Opal was fumbling to get his robe on, and so I was out in the richly appointed corridor before he could stop me. He burst into the hall, silky red robe dangling off one pearly shoulder, and latched onto my forearm.
“Come back inside. Security doesn’t allow bidders to wander the halls.” He pulled hard, making my wrist crack. I peeled his fingers from my arm. “Ian, please, don’t upset things. Kennedy can be strict.”
No sooner had he said that then one of the roaming security men climbed the stairs, Butch coming up behind him, hazel eyes locked on the big man in the black t-shirt lumbering toward me. I lifted a hand to stall my security chief.
“You need to return to Opal’s suite,” the big man with the shiny white bald head stated. The security here was top notch and changed on a rotation that I’d not quite pegged yet. One never knew which ex-wrestler looking pair would be on duty on any given night. Obviously, there was a reason for that, but what it was, I didn’t know.
“I’d like to speak to Mr. Parks about taking Opal out to The Teal Peacock tomorrow night,” I told Mr. Clean. I wasn’t sure who was more shocked, Baldy or Butch. “Please inform him that I will pay what I did tonight to have the pleasure of Opal’s company. I’d like to have this settled before I leave, so direct Mr. Parks to come to this suite as soon as possible. Butch, you can go home. I’ll be here for several more hours.”
“You got a better chance of seeing Christ than you do of me leaving this place.” Butch’s gaze dropped to my bare chest and barely zipped trousers but he said nothing. It was killing him but he remained silent. “I’ll be in the lounge reading Starsky & Hutch fan fiction.”
“Ian, please, come back inside. Please.” Opal took my hand and led me back into the red room. He closed the door softly then placed his brow to the jamb, whispering something in a flowing tongue that I couldn’t decipher. I spoke a passable Japanese, as well as Spanish, French, German, and a spattering of Arabic, as we did a good amount of business with many countries, but Opal’s soft plea remained a mystery.
“That language that you speak, what is it?” I asked. He glanced back at me, apprehension clouding his fine features. I sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Korean. My parents are immigrants.” He pushed from the door, his lower lip between his teeth, and began pacing, his tiny toes peeking out from among the voluminous folds of his robe. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
“What? Asked to speak to your boss?” His alarm stirred up a small pot of worry. Had this Kennedy Parks been cruel to Opal or the others in his employ? I’d never seen bruises or any marks marring his flesh, and I had seen/touched/tongued every damn inch of Opal over the past three weeks. If he’d been abused, I would have seen the evidence. Or perhaps not. I reminded myself that not all abuse leaves marks.
Someone rapped on the door, once, sharply. Opal jumped as if a gun had been fired. He tugged his robe tightly around his body, gave me a look that was a mix of anger and fear, and then padded over to open the door. Kennedy Parks strolled in. I rose from the bed and walked over to the short man with the eyes of a mink. He was handsome, no doubt, dark and swarthy, and impeccably dressed in a silver-gray Gucci suit. His smile was wide, toothy, and lacking real warmth. Something about the man didn’t set well with me.
“Mr. McDougald, I wasn’t expecting to see you until the morning chimes had rung.” He clasped my hand, the shake firm, but his gaze darted to Opal, who withdrew into himself even more. “I hope you’re not having any issues with your chosen gem. He’s not misbehaving, is he?”
“No, quite the contrary. Opal is a joy.” I pulled free of his small but strong hand. “I merely wanted to enquire if I could take him to dinner tomorrow night. I have a small business meeting and his presence at my side would be a boon for my ego as well as possibly for your business.”
I was lying about the meeting, but this little ferret didn’t need to know that. “We don’t generally let the gems work outside as escorts. But if you’re willing to pay what you did tonight with a small fee added to recoup what may be lost if a higher bidder were to show up tomorrow night…”
“Name your price.”
Opal stood by the changing screen, working his bottom lip, his eyes round and flighty.
Kennedy patted me on the arm. I didn’t like his touch. His fingers were chilly. “When you’re done enjoying the beauty of your chosen precious jewel, direct one of the protectors to bring you to my office where we’ll discuss the escort fees. I don’t like to talk money in front of the gems, it makes them feel cheap.”
Opal lowered his gaze. I doubted he could feel any cheaper than he did right now with two older, white men dickering over him like he were a vase or an ashtray. Suddenly, this whole idea felt tawdry but I was in too deeply now to back out. I’d make it up to him tomorrow night. I’d wine and dine him, take him to the most elite clubs on the west side. I’d show him what it could be like to be my…
Shit. I’d fallen far deeper than I’d realized.