1. Masks are not to be removed.
2. Real names are not to be revealed.
3. Real professions are not to be revealed.
4. Recognition of fellow guests is not to be acknowledged.
5. Gratuity to party staff members is strictly optional.
6. Passwords are not to be shared, except by club members and their guests.
7. Details and contents of the house are only to be discussed on the premises.
8. All private rooms are to be returned to the state in which they were found, or better.
9. All guests will be respectful of other guests, especially in regard to the private rooms.
10. Guests are subject to ejection if rules are not followed.
“Your password is ‘Baskerville’.”
“‘Baskerville’? You mean, as in ‘The Hounds of’?” Jim asked.
“Yep, the very same. You will absolutely not get in without it,” Jim’s friend Gregory told him over the phone.
Jim sighed and rubbed his hand across his face. “Are you sure I’d like this kind of place? I mean, come on Greg, you know this isn’t my scene! Can’t you invite me someplace normal?”
“No, no, Jimmy, we need to get you laid, and this is just the kind of place to do it. No strings, no broken hearts, no one getting killed or arrested!”
Jim laughed at the statement that rang with embarrassing truth. “And what makes you think I have any trouble getting laid, huh? It hasn’t been that long, you know.”
“Yeah, well, maybe not, but I’d be willing to bet it wasn’t that interesting, am I right? Come on, Jim, you need some spice in your life…”
“My life’s plenty spicy, thank you very much…”
“…you’re a salt and pepper man, you need some… I don’t know… cayenne in there! Maybe some jalapeno or something!”
At this, both men dissolved into raucous laughter. “What the hell?” Jim choked out. “You want me to fuck somebody or cook her dinner? And since when did you become the expert on ‘spicy’ anyway?”
“Hey, man, don’t knock the analogy. The only thing better than a great meal is great sex! Brenda’s taught me a thing or two about that,” he said with am implied wink and nudge. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Jimmy boy, it’s not as freaky as it sounds. Okay, maybe it is,” he amended with a laugh. “It can be as wild or as tame as you like and you can do whatever you want freely, easily and discreetly, even if you just want to dance and drink champagne. It’s all up to you. You’ll have a good time, Jim, I’m telling you.”
“Well, you’re a betting man, Gregory. Care to place a little wager on that?” Jim said with a wide grin.
Greg paused, considering. “Yeah, all right,” he answered a bit smugly. “A hundred bucks says you’ll hook up with a blue-eyed knockout that’ll make you beg for mercy!”
“Oh, so you’re getting specific, huh?” Jim continued as he walked over to the refrigerator to start pulling items out for that night’s dinner – beef stew. “What if she has brown eyes, only $75 bucks?” He chuckled, amused by his own joke.
“Yeah, laugh all you want. Is it a bet?”
“It is. If she doesn’t live up, I’m coming to look for you!”
“Ha! Just remember, I only accept cash, my friend!” Greg added.
Jim laughed again. “All right, I guess you’ve roped me into this. Let’s have the rundown again. Formal dress, right?”
“Right. The mask will be in the car that picks you up and you’re to put it on before you walk into the house.” Greg continued. “This way, the only person who sees you is the driver and you’re completely anonymous once you go into the party…”
“Okay, cool. So do I have to tell the driver the password too, or just the guy at the door of the house?” Blair asked.
“You need to tell the driver,” Aaron replied, sitting across the desk from the anthropologist. “Otherwise, you won’t know if it’s the right car. The driver will ignore you if you don’t say it, or if you say the wrong one.”
“Right.” Blair was taking notes. He wrote down, ‘password to driver’ in his notebook, next to the word ‘pendulum’, then read out loud what he had so far “Okay. Tux, mask in car, password to driver and to doorman… did you say the bar was open or cash?”
“All open,” he said impressively. “Free hors-d’oeuvres, too. And let me tell you, man, those alone can make a meal! We’re talking smoked salmon, scallops, foie gras, filet mignon, the whole bit. High end, Blair, all the way. And all of it’s free. You can satisfy every appetite you could possibly have and you won’t have to pay a dime. Except to tip, of course!” he finished with a laugh.
“Every appetite, huh? You sure this is legal Aaron?” Blair chuckled, asking the question and fearing the answer.
“Ah, Blair,” Aaron smiled wickedly. “Trust me, there will be so much more on your mind, you won’t even care.”
Jim heard Blair coming up the stairs, sounding like he was having a bit of a struggle – like he was carrying something heavy. He wiped his hands on his apron and went over to open the door, laughing at the sight before him. He held out his arms and was presented with a large, perfectly round pumpkin.
“Whew! Thanks, man,” a winded Blair said when he was relieved of his prize. “I thought for sure I was gonna drop that thing.”
“Jesus, Chief, did you have to get the biggest one?” Jim teased as he walked quickly over to the balcony doors and set the gourd on the floor with a solid ‘thud’.
Blair laughed and hung up his jacket, “You should’ve seen the biggest one, Jim. A few yards in diameter, I’m telling you. You could’ve used it for furniture.”
“No, I think you did just fine there, Sandburg,” Jim dusted his hands and returned to the kitchen to wash them. “That one’s not exactly tiny.”
“Well, I don’t like carving little ones. I want some space to work with, you know?” He gestured expansively to illustrate his point. “I want a jack-o-lantern with some balls, not some wimpy little wanna-be thing.” Jim was laughing as he began to brown the meat for the stew. “Besides, it’ll give us more stuff to cook with. There’s a lot one can do with pumpkin guts.”
“And you make it sound so appetizing when you put it like that,” Jim answered, still laughing.
Blair walked over to him and put a hand on his back, “What’s for dinner? Mmm, beef stew? Excellent.” He got a glass, then opened the refrigerator and poured himself some cider. “Want some help?”
“Nah, why don’t you start carving up that ballsy pumpkin of yours?” Jim snickered, “I can’t wait to see what you come up with.”
Blair smacked Jim’s arm with the back of his hand. “I think I’ll make it look like you, then it can really scare away the evil spirits.”
He giggled and narrowly missed getting popped by the corner of a dishtowel.
Blair had put on some music when he began to set up his carving station on the floor. Jim hummed contentedly to himself as he began to combine the ingredients for the stew, thankful that he’d already partially boiled the potatoes to cut down on final cooking time. He stirred everything together in a large stockpot, enjoying the smell of the cold weather favorite. When he was satisfied that it was seasoned well enough, he turned the fire down to simmer and took a tub of butter out of the fridge. He got a mug of cider and stuck it in the microwave for a minute, then made his way into the living room and sat on the sofa.
“How’s it coming, Michelangelo?”
“Well,” Blair answered, taking a red permanent marker out of his mouth. “I always think that carving pumpkins is easier than it is, you know?” he glanced at Jim as he spoke to him. “This isn’t so bad, though. I mean, I’ve only just started, actually, because I had to clean it out first and all that, so I’ll let you know how it is once I really get into it.”
“I haven’t carved a pumpkin in years,” Jim said, sipping his cider.
“Aw, Jim, if I’d known that, I would’ve gotten you one!”
Jim smiled over his mug, “I’d have paid good money to see you try to carry them both up the stairs!”
Blair laughed and continued to draw. “At that point, I would’ve just called you downstairs, man!”
A comfortable quiet descended upon the room, broken only by the softly playing music and the sound of Blair carving. While he read over a case file he’d brought home from work, Jim occasionally looked up and watched him working intently on his project. He smiled at how much Blair got into the spirit of the holidays - all of them - and it made him remember what it was like at his own house. Holidays were always beautiful at the Ellison house, resplendent with parties and gifts and food, but frequently without his father. Even when he was physically there, his dad was often working. Sitting in his office, making phone calls, handling paperwork… Holidays had always held somewhat of a bittersweet meaning for Jim ever since.
Blair had the ability to make him look at things a little differently, though. He brought brightness to Jim’s life that Jim had only very recently begun to admit to himself. He’d always considered Blair to be a kind of burden, someone he had to ‘put up with’ in order to keep himself in top working order. At least, that’s the impression he gave to people and one that he essentially believed. He could say this about him, however: Blair never did anything halfway. He may get distracted occasionally, but when something held his attention, he gave it his all, and that included Jim. And not just Jim the sentinel, but Jim the man and Jim the friend. Blair truly cared for him and his well-being and that made him feel incredibly lucky. In fact, he wasn’t sure he’d ever felt so lucky in all his life.
After an hour or so, he got up and went back into the kitchen to check the stew. It was just about ready, so he turned the oven on and took half a loaf of unsliced multi-grain bread and placed it on the rack. He stirred the stew and took a small taste to make sure the flavors had mixed to his liking. Satisfied, he put away the remaining bread and called out to Blair.
“Hey, Chief, you wanna come set the table? Dinner’s just about done.”
Blair sat with the pumpkin between his legs, using a tiny saw-like instrument to clean up the corners and small spaces of his carving. “I’ll be right there, Jim. Let me just… ah, there. Hey, hey, this looks pretty cool!” He said happily as he stood up and surveyed his work. “You want to see it? No, no wait,” he added hastily as he changed his mind, “don’t look yet. I want to put a candle in it. I’ll show you after dinner.” He picked up the bowl containing the flesh and seeds of the pumpkin and put it in the refrigerator. After washing his hands, he put two bowls next to the stove and took plates, utensils and glasses to the table.
“Jim, man, that smells terrific. What kind of bread is that in the oven?”
“Five grain,” Jim answered as he took it out of the oven and set it on a plate. “I thought it might be nice to go with the stew.”
“Great, I’m starving,” Blair said. He took the bread, a large bread knife and the butter, and put them on the table. He filled their glasses again with cider and sat down just as Jim brought the steaming main course to the table.
“One of my favorite comfort foods,” Blair said with a smile.
“What’s fall without it, huh?” Jim answered, cutting a thick wedge of bread and spreading it with soft butter. “All we need now is pumpkin pie.” He grinned and took a forkful of stew.
Blair smiled and blew on his fork to cool off the hot meat and vegetables, “Is that a hint?”
Jim laughed and they continued eating. After the edge was taken off his hunger, Blair brought up Halloween.
“What are you doing this year, Jim? Anything interesting?”
“Oh, I doubt it. I haven’t had any inspiring ideas,” he lied easily. “There’s a Stephen King marathon on TV, I might check that out. You?”
“Well, I actually have something to do that evening at school, then I think I’m going to a party a few friends are having. Should be fun, I guess,” he said, taking a bite of bread, figuring that what he said was close enough to the truth. “Go easy on the candy though, will ya?” he told Jim. “I don’t want to come home and find you in a sugar coma!”
The conversation continued cheerfully, then they finished their dinner and Blair showed Jim his pumpkin masterpiece. Jim was relieved to discover that it didn’t look like him after all.
Halloween found Jim spending most of his day behind his desk at the station, doing typical paperwork and trying to keep his candy intake to a minimum. The atmosphere in Major Crimes was festive enough; besides a plethora of sweets, someone had hung paper and mylar decorations from the ceiling, and taped a few to the photocopy machine and the doors. There were even a few people in costume – or at least costume pieces, and it made the day at least humorous, if no less tedious. Jim’s desk was decorated as well. Blair, after their conversation about pumpkins, had bought him a small one and carved a goofy-looking face in it, saying, “I only carve neuter pumpkins for you, Jim”. Jim had appreciated the gesture and every time he looked at it, he got a little smile. He wondered what Blair would say if he knew where Jim would be ending up that night. The thought of his reaction made him smile even more.
When he got home, he was relieved to see that Blair was, indeed, not there. He still had a couple of hours until the car would be there to pick him up and he didn’t want Blair there to make him even more anxious than he already was, not to mention having to explain where he was going. He turned the television on and fixed himself a bowl of leftover stew and a glass of water. The Stephen King marathon was in full swing and he caught the tail end of Christine as he ate his dinner. He gave himself a little snicker as he imagined his truck taking on personality traits and killing people who pissed him off.
It was 8:00 and the car would be there for him at 9:15. He supposed he’d better at least start the process of getting ready. His stomach knotted up as he headed for the shower and thought about what he was doing. He was incredulous that he’d let himself be talked into going to what was, for all intents and purposes, a sex party. Sure, you didn’t have to have sex if you didn’t want to, but wasn’t that the ulterior motive? Wasn’t that the reason for all the rules, so no one would be held accountable for their actions? A high-class version of a bath house, Jim thought. As he showered, he had to admit the idea actually did excite him a little. Who knew? Maybe he would get lucky. At least he knew the food would be good.
At 9:10, Jim was showered, shaved, dressed and doing a final sweep of himself to make sure he had everything he needed. He wore a traditional black tuxedo, with simple gold cufflinks and black and gold studs on his white wing collar shirt. His vest was a subtly printed tone on tone black silk and his slip-on shoes were buffed to a high gloss, free of smudges and fingerprints. He was a vision, impeccable in his finery and regal in his countenance. This, he was certain, would be a party to remember, no matter what happened. He made sure he had money and identification and decided he’d wear his cashmere dress coat. Then he grabbed his keys, dropped them into his pocket and walked out the door.
A silver Mercedes sedan arrived at 9:15 exactly and stopped in front of the door of the building. Jim could see his reflection in the darkened windows and turned up his sight to give the interior a quick glance before walking slowly toward the driver’s door. The window opened with a smooth, mechanical whir, but the driver didn’t move to look at him, he merely sat there. And waited.
Jim, feeling a little silly, nonetheless cleared his throat and said clearly, “Baskerville.”
“Good evening, sir,” came the prompt and cordial reply as Jim heard the doors unlock.
“Wow, it actually worked,” he muttered to himself as he opened the door and slid in, sitting next to a box in the center of the leather seat. He noticed that the car had been completely customized. There was a small bar, a small television and a phone, all visible but discreet. He was also pleased to discover that there was a glorious amount of legroom available. He stretched out leisurely, enjoying the rare pleasure.
“Please make yourself comfortable, sir. We should arrive in about forty-five minutes.”
“Thank you very much,” Jim answered as he opened the box and found a beautifully crafted, thin leather mask in the image of a wolf. “Still keeping tabs on me, are you?” He laughed and put the mask on his face, sitting back as the divider between he and the driver went up slowly and the car began to move.
The ride was smooth and swift and for a while, Jim looked through the dark windows to see where they were going – the cop in him wanting to know exactly where he’d be and what he had to look forward to. After about twenty minutes, he sat back and stopped thinking about it. He knew that if something happened and he needed to know where the house was, he could easily find out. The whole thing was supposed to be a secret – sort of a figment of the imagination. He decided to stop trying to make it real and just enjoy it for what it was.
Amazingly, after 45 minutes, he felt the car begin to wind and climb slowly, apparently going up a hill. He opened up his vision again to see where they were, and when he looked out, he caught sight of the top of a house. As the car wound its way higher and higher, Jim could see more of the residence and became more and more intrigued. Greg had told him that the place was a mansion, but Jim wasn’t sure what to expect. Now, as the car approached a wrought iron gate, which swung open upon its approach, Jim could see the entire front and most of the side of the majestic property. The car rode upon a cobblestone driveway leading to the columned entrance of the house, then came to a gentle stop. His door opened and the driver stood rigidly behind it, eyes forward.
Jim got out of the car and pulled out some bills to offer as tip. He handed them to the uniformed man and nodded to him. “Thank you.”
“Thank you, sir,” he responded with a tip of his hat and shut the door. He walked briskly around the car to the driver’s side and got in, slicing the quiet vehicle through the dark night.
Jim paused for a moment outside the torch-lit entrance. The grounds were deathly quiet, but throwing out his hearing, he could hear people inside, and could hear more cars approaching. He took in the gorgeously decorated porch a few moments longer, then went up to the door and was surprised to find he could open it.
“Good evening, sir, and welcome!” said a jovial man at a podium to his right. His mask was that of a mouse and it made Jim smile. “Your password, please?”
“Baskerville,” Jim answered.
The man looked over his list and nodded. “Ah, yes, very good. May I take your coat?”
Jim shrugged out of the long garment and handed it to him, wondering briefly how they were organized in the coatroom. He imagined they were on hangers bearing the passwords.
“Thank you, sir. The ballroom is up the left staircase on the third floor. You can’t miss it,” he smiled. “Have a wonderful evening!”
“Thank you,” Jim said as he began to climb the massive staircase, hearing the music and the voices increase as he ascended the left branch. When he reached the third floor and walked down the short hallway to the open ballroom entrance doors, he stopped and was amazed by what he saw.
It was a scene out of a movie. There had to be well over two hundred people, with the men in tuxes of different styles, the women in extravagant or understated gowns, and everyone in masks depicting all kinds of animals and creatures with simple, yet highly imaginative artwork. It was a bit creepy to see all those people dressed so beautifully, yet not be able to see their faces. The masks didn’t cover the entire face, but covered enough to make identification nearly impossible. There was a string quartet playing on a stage directly in front of him across the large room, and couples waltzed across the floor in slowly spinning clusters. The party had a romantic, shadowy feel to it, and Jim realized that it was because the entire room was illuminated by candlelight. He took a good look around and discovered that there was not a single electric light anywhere, not even in the dozen or so ornate chandeliers suspended from the vaulted ceiling. It not only made people look great, it served to add even more of a clandestine feel to the events. It was a surreal and enchanting vision and he finally stepped into the room, slowly letting himself be carried away.
A platter of champagne flutes appeared stealthily at his right shoulder. “Champagne, sir?”
“Oh,” Jim answered, slightly startled, and took a glass. “Thank you.” The wait staff, Jim noticed, wore simple black leather masks. Jim thought it made them all look like extras from the ‘Lone Ranger’ or ‘Zorro’. He smiled and sipped his drink, walking slowly around the perimeter of the glorious room, thinking that maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea.
He figured the first thing he should do to avoid looking as conspicuous as he felt was to get a plate of food. Moving past the tables where guests sat eating and talking, he approached the buffet-style food table, laden with a mind-boggling selection of both savory and sweet finger foods. Since this party seemed to encourage indulgence across the board, Jim decided to start off with caviar on toast points and portabella mushrooms stuffed with lobster meat. He moved slightly to the left and picked up a tiny éclair, and what appeared to be a bite-sized chocolate tart.
He had eaten and was sipping a glass of water when a woman in a royal blue velvet dress approached his table. He looked up and she smiled.
“Do you mind if I join you? It looks like you’re alone,” she said indicating his empty table.
Jim stood up and offered her a chair. “By all means,” he said, noticing that her mask was of a deer, and that through it appeared clear hazel eyes that looked Jim over shyly, but with unequivocal interest. The crisscrossing straps of her dress were tastefully embellished with beads that matched the fabric, and they displayed beautifully her smooth skin, which was sprinkled with a few endearing freckles. She wore her honey blonde hair in a bun at the crown of her head with long ringlets that were arranged decoratively around it, brushing her diamond-studded ears. ‘Not bad for the first one at bat’, Jim thought with an inward chuckle.
“Would you like a drink?” he asked and prepared to go and get her one.
“Actually, yes, please. A gin and tonic?”
He made his way over to the large bar and ordered the drink, wondering if she would be the one. She certainly was gorgeous and she seemed very self-assured, both qualities he loved in a woman. It was while he was musing on the possibility of an evening with her that he heard it.
The laugh he knew he couldn’t possibly be hearing, but yet there it was. The laugh that had punctuated his own jokes and smart-ass remarks for years. The laugh that warmed him and made him smile like nothing else in the world.
He looked around, using sentinel vision to try and prove what he knew to be true. When he didn’t see him, he thought for a second he was imagining it and that made him wonder why he’d imagine such a thing. And why had his heart sped up at the idea?
“Sir?” the bartender said for what was probably the second or third time, Jim realized, and placed the drink in front of him.
“Listen, could you make sure that the lady in the blue dress and deer mask over at that table gets this please?” he pointed to where she sat, still alone and waiting for his return. He left a five dollar tip and moved quickly away from the bar, searching wildly for his partner.
He couldn’t believe he was having such difficulty finding him. Maybe his mind was playing tricks… Wait. He sniffed and then took a deep breath. No doubt about it. Blair was somewhere there at that party and not too far from him at that. He scanned the room again in one direction, and then turned around and stopped dead as he looked directly into Blair’s bemused blue eyes, through the beautiful leather version of a jaguar face.
A jaguar face. Jim almost laughed at the hilarity of it. Blair looked sleek and stunning, his entire ensemble dazzling in pure black, accented by shirt studs and cufflinks that shone like jet. He looked like a shadow and the pieces of his tuxedo were only discernable at close range, where the various textures of his jacket, shirt, vest and tie could be seen. His hair was pulled back, contained by a narrow, black velvet ribbon, and in his ear were thin, silver rings, catching light whenever he turned his head. Beautiful.
“Did you lose someone?” Blair asked with a small impish smile.
Jim felt an answering playful grin tug at his own lips. “I think I just found him.”
“Oh, good,” he said with an easy laugh. “Would you like to dance?”
“Yeah, that’d be nice.”
The quartet had taken a break a short time before, and had been replaced by a small swing band that played slow to moderate standards and was conducted by a sharply dressed bandleader.
“Nice mask,” Jim said, as they walked.
“Yeah, I was looking at yours, too,” Blair answered, clearly amused. “Nicely done.” They reached the floor and he looked at Jim and grinned. “Who’s leading?”
Jim laughed and shrugged. “We can flip for it,” he suggested.
“That’s okay,” Blair replied, “I’ll let you lead. I know how to follow.”
Jim took Blair’s left hand in his right and put his other on Blair’s waist. “You think I don’t?” he asked.
Blair stared at him for a bit. “I don’t know,” he said finally, a challenge in his voice. “Do you?”
Jim’s mind reeled at the loaded question paired with the look in Blair’s eyes. He felt Blair’s hand on his neck as it stroked his skin softly, almost innocently. Part of him was convinced that what he thought was happening couldn’t be, but he knew Blair was flirting with him. No, the raw hunger in that face, mask or no mask, suggested something far more dangerous than simple flirting. But Jim had been steeped in the world of danger for the better part of his life. Danger was part of the game, so when he spoke, he did so as a man prepared to play.
“Show me,” he said.
Blair stopped moving and his eyes widened fractionally before he offered up a sultry smile. “Come on,” he said as he took Jim’s hand and led him toward the ballroom doors.
They stepped into the hallway and Blair stopped, looked to the right and left and decided to go left since it was in the opposite direction from how they came in. On their way down the hall, they passed a man and woman arm in arm, walking slowly and speaking softly. Both couples glanced at each other with secret smiles and an unspoken acknowledgment of what they were up to. Blair gave Jim’s hand a squeeze and Jim’s pulse quickened, then they got to a heavy wooden door with a brass knob and Blair opened it.
“Oh, my god,” Blair murmured.
Jim’s response was awed silence.
The moderately sized room was warm and awash in glowing amber, owing to the fire burning in a marble fireplace and several lit candles. The furniture was dark and sturdy; all the wooden pieces - a full size four-poster bed, two night tables, a desk, an armoire, and a nicely stocked bar - were mahogany with intricate patterns of inlaid cherry. The fabric of the drapes at the large bay window on the other side of the bed, as well as those hanging from the bed itself, was deep burgundy velvet. The same luxurious material covered the gracefully curved chaise, which sat near the fireplace across from the desk. There were also two soft-looking dark brown chairs, one behind the desk and one nestled in the window, both lending the strong earthy smell of leather to the already mingling scents of fire, cedar, wax and sandalwood. An Oriental rug lay regally in front of the fireplace and Jim stepped in and stood on it, looking around the room as Blair shut the door and locked it.
One of the first things he noticed was the presence of a large crystal bowl on each nightstand. The left bowl held an array of condoms and dental dams, the right, small tubes of lubricant. He looked at Blair, who grinned as he walked to the armoire and opened the doors. If Jim was a bit taken aback by the easy accessibility and generously offered safe-sex staples, he was truly intrigued by the contents of the armoire. Hanging on hooks were harnesses, a whip, a cat o’ nine tails, handcuffs, and various other items for varying degrees of play. There were also drawers – one of which contained an array of multi-sized toys, one that stored several thick towels and pre-moistened cloths, and a third that had erotic literature and publications stacked neatly inside.
Jim leaned against the desk, stunned and thrilled at once. Blair shut the doors to the beautiful furniture piece, and then turned back to Jim and began to walk towards him.
“We seem to have a lot of options,” he said, nearly laughing.
Jim stared at him, debating for a second if he was really going to go through with this, then he plunged in.
“What do you want to do?” he asked quietly.
Blair tilted his head slightly and answered with a slippery smile, “Fuck you.”
Jim inhaled a quiet gasp and shut his eyes for a second. He was titillated by Blair’s boldness and was shocked by the depth of his own desire. He truly couldn’t believe this was happening.
“How about you? What do you want?” Blair continued, stepping close and putting his hands on the desk on either side of Jim’s hips.
Jim hesitated, but not because he didn’t know the answer - he’d known the answer since the day he met Blair. He licked his lips and swallowed, his mouth dry and his voice hoarse, but his eyes steady, looking directly into Blair’s. “Your mouth. I want your mouth on me. I want you to suck me off.”
He felt lightheaded after the admission. Part of him wanted to get the hell out of that room and out of the whole bizarre scenario. He’d never done anything that felt so depraved. There he was in a small, locked room, having snuck away from a party he’d been invited to by a friend. But then, he knew full well what he was getting into and knew also that Greg wasn’t exactly going to be concerned about him. For all he knew about the rooms and what they were for, he never actually expected to be in one. He fought with himself to relax, to realize that he was a grown man with another consenting adult. No big thing. But this wasn’t just any adult, was it? It was all well and good to hide behind the facades, have sex under false pretenses, but what would happen when they got home? He didn’t know. At that moment, though, his heart was racing and Blair was smiling and licking his lips and things were about to get well and truly underway.
Blair moved still closer and kissed him, slowly and seductively. “That sounds really, really good,” he whispered against Jim’s lips as his hands made their way to Jim’s waist to unbutton his vest. “I’d like that a lot. Want me on my knees? Hm?” He continued to kiss Jim, biting and licking him while his hands worked on unfastening Jim’s immaculate tux pants. “On my knees in front of you, sucking your cock?”
Those softly spoken words went straight through Jim. He felt himself shaking and didn’t know if he wanted Blair to keep talking or shut up. At the same time he heard and felt Blair grunt into his mouth, he felt Blair’s hand plunge into his now completely open pants and into his boxer briefs, slipping all the way down and behind his balls with the first reach.
Jim gasped, breaking the kiss and jerking upward, slightly out of Blair’s hand. He looked at Blair’s eyes through the jaguar mask holes. He was pretty sure he could see amusement, but he neither knew nor cared.
Blair pulled his hand out and smiled. “Take these off,” he said as he backed up a few steps to the chaise. He watched Jim remove the trousers, then he dropped to his knees and almost instantly began to unbutton his own. “Come here.”
After Jim took off his underwear, he began to walk over to him, but paused to watch him stroke his own penis through his boxers, and then pull it out through the slit in the silk. Blair’s eyes slid shut and he sighed as he pumped himself a few times with a slow, easy motion. Jim briefly reconsidered his earlier request as his eyes stayed focused on Blair’s hand and his tongue wanted to taste what his nose was describing. He stood motionless, mesmerized by the sight of Blair on his knees, in a tux and mask, masturbating. He never thought he’d see the day.
Blair opened his eyes again and looked hazily at Jim. He smiled and bit his lower lip and repeated, “Come here.”
The combination of authority and lust that clouded that beautiful voice was enough to get Jim moving again, and he quickly found himself standing in front of his kneeling partner who wasted no time in getting down to business. Blair ran his hands up Jim’s thighs, undid a few buttons of the white shirt and leaned in, stroking Jim’s turgid penis with his face. Jim watched as he opened his mouth and took him in slowly, then let him slide all the way back out. Blair teased him, licking him softly until Jim could feel his legs begin to tremble, then he took a firm grip of his hips and engulfed him again, a wet suction of rhythmic bliss.
Jim groaned and began to move to Blair’s set pace, losing his mind as that gorgeous mouth went at him with astounding hunger. Blair’s head slid to and fro smoothly and quickly, then he pulled away and leaned back, waking Jim briefly out of his stupor. Blair rested his head on the front of the raised arm of the chaise, and when Jim realized what he was doing, what he was waiting for, he moved forward and shoved himself back into his mouth. Clutching the velvet cushion behind Blair’s head, Jim pushed into him again and again, until he felt every muscle seize up and the orgasm fly through him. He grabbed Blair’s head and thrust in hard twice, successfully muting a shout as he came down his throat.
Jim stood shaking, softening in Blair’s mouth, before he finally moved away from him and nearly staggered back, coming to rest against the desk once again. He still felt shocks going through his body, his breath still shuddered on its way in and out of him and he shut his eyes and inhaled deeply, attempting to settle himself.
“I’d say that was a pretty good start,” Blair said quietly as he rose and walked over to the armoire and got out a towel and some cloths. He moved to one side of the bed and took a couple of condoms from the bowl, and then walked around to get a handful of lubricant tubes from the other one. Jim stood unable to move, watching him as he came back to the desk and spread the towel over it. Jim felt the heat rise between them once again as Blair lightly trailed his fingers over his skin under his shirttails. He touched Jim’s jaw with his nose and whispered, “You taste good.”
Jim raised his hands and took Blair’s head in them, pulling his mouth to his with a powerful, searing kiss. He couldn’t get enough of him and judging by Blair’s reactions so far, he knew the feeling was mutual. Blair pulled his head away but pushed his hips forward, pressing his erection into Jim’s thigh. He kissed Jim’s chin and pushed gently at him until he raised himself up onto the large, soft cotton towel. Blair yanked off his own jacket and threw it onto the bed and hastily unbuttoned his shirt to the yoke. He stood between Jim’s open legs and kissed his mouth, keeping it loose and slow, then pushed him again until he was on his back.
He worked quickly, rolling on a lubricated condom and then opening one of the small tubes. Jim hissed quietly at the cold fingers that rubbed him, letting his legs spread wider as the slick substance warmed on Blair’s insistent fingers. He raised his legs so that his feet were flat on the desk, again slightly amazed at how easily this came to him and how much he wanted it. Blair’s fingers slid over his opening slowly and carefully, igniting that small spot until Jim was shaking and sweating, desperate to feel more. Jim looked at Blair’s face, at his dilated pupils and flushed cheeks, and gave a tiny smile and an even smaller nod.
Blair breathed hard through parted lips and hooked his hands behind Jim’s knees, pushing them further back and keeping them wide. Jim kept them there as Blair slid his hands down the back of his thighs and grabbed a hip with one hand and his own cock with the other. Jim watched with wide eyes, gripping the edge of the desk and panting, as Blair began his slow entrance.
“Easy,” Blair said quietly as he rubbed Jim’s stomach in soothing strokes. He kissed the arch of Jim’s right foot and shut his eyes and bit his lip with a moan, pushing in incrementally until he was nestled snugly inside.
Jim looked at the ceiling and shook his head back and forth, unable to form a single sound. He felt like he’d just been drilled to the desk and the feeling was unbelievable. His senses were all over the place, but he wasn’t worried about zoning, he was afraid he’d go insane instead. He took a deep breath and looked back at Blair, who smiled and rested Jim’s ankles on his shoulders and took a firm hold of his waist. Then Jim felt his world tilt even further as Blair began to move.
That first outward drag was enough to pull a loud gasp from him, followed by a helpless, shimmering groan on the first thrust. He had the brief thought that he was glad to be on his back because his head was spinning wildly. Sweat ran down the center of his back and he felt his shirt sticking to him and slowly dampening his jacket. Thankfully, the lining of the mask absorbed the sweat on his forehead as the heady scent of leather and Blair filled his brain. He looked into his partner’s face – the face of his lover – and let himself become even more aroused by the sheer erotic pleasure he saw there. He shivered.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Blair murmured as he moved slowly, stroking Jim’s thighs and hips possessively.
The sharp and startling pain that was evident at first had ebbed away, leaving a buzzing pleasure spreading through Jim’s body that made him feel like he was vibrating. His hands were busy, touching Blair as much as he could - stroking his hands, his arms, his shoulders, and then pushing Blair swiftly toward the edge by caressing the sweet and heated spot where they connected.
Blair leaned forward with a grunt and threw his palms on the desk, moving faster and thrusting deeper. Jim’s legs fell until they were wrapped around Blair’s arms and he cried out, the change of angle doing wonders for the already brain melting sensations looping through his body. His arms flailed over the desk and he clutched at the towel as he felt himself drift into the pre-orgasmic haze, moaning in rhythm with Blair’s pounding hips.
Jim grabbed his cock with a sweat-slick hand and pumped himself vigorously, pushing himself a few steps closer to climax. His body was positively singing with electricity and he basked in it, letting his senses flow out and around however they wanted. He could hear Blair’s panting through his own and he let their erotic harmony lead him to his end. He squeezed himself and came, watching with some distant amusement as a small amount of semen landed on his shirt. Blair grabbed Jim’s hips and pulled them toward him as he bucked feverishly toward his own release, choking out a sob as it came and leaning once again on his hands.
After a few moments, Blair kissed Jim’s left calf, then slowly pulled out and tossed the condom into the trashcan next to the desk. “Don’t lower your legs yet,” he said softly as he picked up one of the damp cloths and began to gently and thoroughly clean Jim, then used the towel to dry him off.
“I feel like I’m getting my diaper changed,” Jim said with a hoarse chuckle.
“Not for a few more years, I hope.” Blair smiled and pulled Jim into a sitting position and they stared at each other silently for a long while. The moment was strange and awkward; they knew each other better than anyone in the world, yet they were strangers tonight, intimate yet oddly detached. Blair slipped his hands under Jim’s shirt and around his waist as he kissed him, needing to connect with him the best way he knew how. Jim held his shoulders and stroked his hair as he explored his mouth slowly, glad he didn’t have to find the courage to say what he wanted and needed to say.
“Are we breaking any rules here?” Blair asked, pulling away and looking meaningfully into Jim’s eyes.
Jim took a few moments and considered, then he answered, “No. I like this.”
Blair smiled and nodded. “Okay then.”
“But,” Jim added, “I’d, uh… I’d like to do this again sometime,” he felt his skin tingle as he continued with the charade, “under different circumstances, of course. I want to see you. I want to say your name.”
Blair understood what Jim was telling him and his slow smile turned brilliant and seductive as he stroked a finger across Jim’s lips. “That can be arranged.” He kissed him again, a lingering promise of what would come later, and cupped his face in both hands. “What do you say we go out and enjoy the rest of the party?”
“Are you in a hurry to go back out there?” Jim asked as he rested his hands on Blair’s forearms and kissed the nose of his mask.
Blair giggled, “No, not necessarily.”
Jim smiled, “Good,” and licked Blair’s lips before losing himself in that sensuous mouth once again.
When they finally re-emerged, they returned to the ballroom, hand in hand, just as they’d left it. Jim felt like he had a sign above his head that said “Blair just fucked me on a desk!” in bright, neon letters, and the image made him smile. He felt giddy and rumpled and deliciously dirty, his damp shirt a cool reminder of his recent activities. He laughed softly to himself as he thought about the bet he’d made with Greg. A blue-eyed knockout who’d make him beg for mercy? Yeah, that was pretty much dead on.
When they reached the edge of the dance floor, they stood for a while and watched the other couples dancing. When a slow, romantic tune from the forties began, Jim tugged gently on Blair’s hand and pulled him onto the floor and wrapped his free arm around his waist, slipping easily into a simple two-step. Blair’s head rested on Jim’s shoulder as they swayed amidst the other beautifully dressed pairs, and once when Jim looked up, he noticed another male couple, dancing and laughing, looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. He smiled and gave Blair a squeeze, receiving one in return as Blair looked up at him.
“You’re wonderful,” Jim said, overwhelmed suddenly with affection.
Blair smiled and traced a cheek with his finger. “So are you.”
Jim leaned down and kissed him softly, simply enjoying the feel of Blair’s lips on his. They tasted each other slowly and mildly, keeping passion to a humming simmer as they continued to sway back and forth. When they broke apart, Blair returned his head to Jim’s shoulder with a contented sigh and they danced until the song ended, applauding the musicians when it did.
They danced a few more numbers, and then had more champagne and food when the band took their break. They didn’t talk very much; Jim knew that what they had to say to each other had to wait until they got home, and he was willing to wait. He and Blair had created a new relationship in the span of a couple of hours, one he certainly never thought would possibly be, yet he knew everything would be fine. There wasn’t anything he and Blair couldn’t handle together, even this.
A while later, Jim decided it was time to go home. “I think I’m going to head out,” he said and stood up. “I’m a little tired and it’s been a long day.”
Blair stood with him and looked at him the way he had in the room, with a knowing smile and a nod. “Yeah, I probably won’t stay too long myself.” And as an afterthought, he added playfully, “Plus, I want to see if I can beat my roommate home.”
Jim smiled. “Yeah, well, good luck.” They laughed and, moving closer to him, Jim said, “So, I’ll see you again?”
Blair nodded and whispered, “Count on it.”
They kissed quickly and Jim pulled Blair into a hug. “It was nice to meet you,” he whispered by his ear.
“You too,” came the response.
With a last swipe of his thumb across Blair’s lips, Jim turned toward the coatroom and left. A short while later, his lover followed.
He was lying in bed reading when he heard Blair’s car come to a stop in the parking lot. He followed his progress as he came up the stairs and finally through the door. Jim hadn’t really been home all that long, maybe a half hour or forty-five minutes, long enough to get undressed and get comfortable and wonder what the fuck he’d been thinking at that party. He thought about it over and over and if it hadn’t been for the ever present pain in his ass, he would’ve just passed it off as part of the peculiar environment – a dream induced by too much champagne and rich food. But no, he really did go into one of those damned “private rooms” and get himself fucked silly – on a desk, no less – by his roommate and partner. Boy, Greg had no idea what he’d done by inviting Jim to that house.
He lay there, reading and re-reading the same paragraph, while listening to Blair move around downstairs. He zeroed in on his partner’s heartbeat, noticing that it was slightly faster than usual, and thought that perhaps he was feeling the same unease and confusion. He himself felt a sense of alienation from his own psyche, he could only imagine how Blair felt, especially since he was the one who pretty much called the shots throughout the whole encounter. Jim shook his head and finally tried to pull his attention back to the book. Whatever would be discussed would likely wait until tomorrow. Or, since it was already past two in the morning, at least until daylight.
Turning the page, he’d managed to pick up the plot again when he heard Blair ascending the stairs. He took a deep breath. ‘Well, here we go’. He was mildly surprised that Blair didn’t ask if he could come up, but somehow he wasn’t upset by it. He put his book face down on his stomach as Blair reached the top step and entered the room, wearing his plaid robe. The expression on his face was blank, but Jim instantly noticed his scent; he still smelled like that room. More specifically, he smelled like Jim. Jim’s dick stirred immediately.
“Hi,” Blair said softly, a tentative smile touching his lips.
“Hey,” Jim answered feeling suddenly like a schoolboy greeted by his crush. When exactly was he going to wake up from this, he wondered? “What’s goin’ on?”
Blair’s hands went to the belt of the robe and began to slowly untie it. “I thought you might want some company,” he answered with a slight shrug. “I hoped, anyway.”
Jim stared at him, astonished. Blair froze in mid-motion and Jim realized that Blair probably thought he was making a mistake. For a second, Jim wasn’t sure if he was or wasn’t. He realized suddenly that this moment was the key moment - no masks, no anonymity, no secret hideaway. If he wanted to go forward and do this thing, no longer being allowed to explain it away as some odd little whim he and Blair shared at a party, now was the time to say so and Blair was waiting - not so patiently - for him to figure it out. He dog-eared his page in the book and set it on his nightstand. He watched as Blair resumed his movements and casually dropped his robe to the floor to stand naked before him, looking at him as fearlessly as he had in that fantastic room.
“I want you to see me, Jim. I want you to say my name.” He echoed Jim’s words back to him and inflected them with such heated emotion, Jim could practically feel how much Blair wanted him. His eyes wandered slowly over Blair’s body, remembering Blair’s hands and mouth on him, recalling his taste and the texture of his skin, visualizing the sexy flush and parted lips beneath the mask of the jaguar as he pounded into him. His body enjoyed that memory. Very much.
He pulled the comforter back, inviting Blair to join him, and instantly wrapped him in his arms when the invitation was accepted. They moved slowly, as if through water, moving legs and arms against each other, relishing the feeling of skin on skin. Jim ran his hands over Blair’s face, over his shoulders and through his hair, then kissed his eyes, nose and cheeks, something he couldn’t do at the party.
“Blair,” he whispered just before he kissed his lips.
It was as if they hadn’t spent the better part of the evening kissing. As if they’d never kissed at all. Without the leather adornment on their faces, they could feel so much more and it made everything novel and wonderful. They touched and stroked eagerly, thrilled at finally discovering each other.
“Jim, I want you again,” Blair said in an urgent whisper against Jim’s neck. “I want to be inside you again and I want to do it right this time.”
“Blair,” Jim said between searching kisses, “trust me, last time felt pretty right to me.”
Blair chuckled. “Come on, Jim, you know what I mean. I want to do it properly. You know, naked and in a bed.”
“You mean you don’t think doing it on a desk fully dressed and wearing masks while at the house of a complete stranger qualifies as ‘properly’?” Jim nibbled his ear and stroked his thighs.
Blair laughed, causing Jim to laugh and they rolled around until Blair was on top, slipping his hands into the waistband of Jim’s shorts and kissing him deeply. “No, I don’t,” he said with a smile when he broke away briefly. “But it was fun, huh?”
“You say fun,” Jim answered as he lifted his hips, “I say earth-shattering.”
Blair knelt between Jim’s legs and threw the white cotton on the floor, then ran his hands up and down Jim’s inner thighs, “You say tomato,” he leaned down and opened his mouth, “I say…”
“Shit!” Jim exclaimed. “God, and then there’s that. Oh, man…” he trailed off breathlessly.
Blair stopped fairly quickly and licked up Jim’s abdomen and chest until he reached his lips. He kissed him and pulled his legs open wider, lying between them and then wrapping them around him. They sighed with pleasure and Jim’s arms came around him, holding him close while the thrill of being naked together filled them. They continued to kiss and touch as much as they could, until they reached a point where foreplay had to end.
Blair moved his hips against Jim and Jim’s responded in sympathetic desire. Blair got up quickly and reached for his robe, digging into a pocket to retrieve the condoms and lube he’d brought home from the party. In a near re-enactment of earlier that evening, he kneeled between Jim’s legs and rolled the condom on, enhancing the lubrication of it by opening the small tube of clear liquid and adding some to Jim’s warm body. Jim pulled his legs back and for the second time, watched as Blair sought to join him.
“Jim,” Blair sighed as the connection was made, “oh Jim, this is amazing.” He kept his hands behind Jim’s knees and slid slowly in. “It’s not the same at all. It’s…”
And Jim knew what he was trying to say. It was different because there was sight involved now; they could see each other’s faces and could watch every nuance of feeling cross their features. Everything felt different, too, without the touch of silk and cotton and wool between them and wood under them. They were naked, in their own house, in Jim’s bed, making love for the first time. Jim closed his eyes and welcomed Blair inside him with a shudder and a deep breath. “It’s what you meant by properly,” he forced out, opening his eyes and locking them with Blair’s.
Blair nodded as he began the slow ride. “Yes,” he sighed deeply. “Yeah, this is exactly what…” he shut his eyes and hissed quietly, his head dropping in pleasure as he leaned on his hands. “Oh, Jim…”
Jim slid his hands up Blair’s slick and straining arms to his shoulders and then to his face, stroking his cheeks and letting the loose curls of his hair tickle his hands. Blair leaned a bit lower and Jim grabbed that hair in both hands. “Come on, Blair,” he whispered. He groaned as Blair began to thrust with longer, harder strokes. He rubbed and pinched Blair’s nipples and then pulled his hands down his sides and around him to grasp his ass, kneading his buttocks and exploring the depths between them.
His hands moved ceaselessly, sliding over heated flesh and drawing various sounds of encouragement from his lover’s throat. The pace became more frenetic, and when Blair was inadvertently dislodged, Jim took that opportunity to quickly flip over onto his knees. He wanted to move with Blair, and as soon as he felt him impale him again, he growled and began to do it. He grabbed fistfuls of the sheet and pushed back as Blair pushed forward, feeling those perpetual-motion hands grip his hips hard enough to likely leave bruises.
“Yeah,” Jim panted. “Blair… ah…” His words were lost in overwhelming heat and inarticulate sounds. One of those hands reached around him, and just the feel of Blair’s fingers on his abdomen made him come with a surprised shout. His body jerked, caught in orgasmic rhythm as Blair took his penis in his hand, catching the warm fluid as his own spurted into the latex inside Jim’s body. Jim raised one hand and joined it with Blair’s on his softening cock. The sensation and sheer intimacy of their fingers sliding wetly across each other touched him viscerally and he inhaled with a sharp shudder.
They separated and Jim fell gently onto his side, joined soon by Blair facing him. He smiled as Blair wiped his own hand on a tissue and handed another to Jim. Many, many things to say were coming to Jim’s mind, but he didn’t really want to say any of them just yet. He was feeling the events of the last eighteen hours catching up with him and he wanted more than anything to sleep – with his Blair in his arms. The better part of the mess cleaned up, Jim wrapped himself around Blair and placed a feather light kiss on his mouth. He smiled sleepily at him.
“Tomorrow?” He asked.
“Yeah,” Blair yawned. “Tomorrow.”
Jim grinned and kissed Blair’s nose. “Happy Halloween, Chief.”
Blair nodded and snuggled close to Jim. “Happy Halloween, Jim.”
Almost immediately, they were both asleep.