Wild & Lawless Writers are pleased to have our first guest, Jay Ellison, in the new Writer's Guest Room. Jay is our friend from Courtesan Press, and he writes steamy, romantic m/m fiction you should definitely check out. Here's a tasty excerpt from his Dollhouse series.
Eyes Wide Open
(The Dollhouse Society)
About: Discover the secret behind the mysterious Dollhouse Society…
College student Daniel Collins takes on a weekend job as a “human seeing-eye dog” to blind, retired billionaire Alexei Karenina. It seems like easy work, and Mr. Karenina is certainly easy on the eyes, but when Mr. Karenina proposes that Daniel also become his courtier–his male sexual companion–Daniel’s eyes are opened to a new world of pleasure…and pain.
Excerpt: “Maybe he’s an asexual,” Sheri mused beside me in the lecture hall while I half listened to Professor Linden droning on about the ancient economy of Mesopotamia and how it affected us today. “Maybe that’s his problem.”
“What the hell’s an asexual?” I said as I doodled on a corner of my notebook.
“You know. A guy who doesn’t like sex.”
“I don’t think that exists,” I told Sheri.
I looked out over the lecture hall and found Simon sitting near the front. He was here at Columbia like me on scholarship, but it was a football scholarship, not the World Leader Scholarship I’d gotten for my paper on economics. I wondered if he got teased a lot, being a jock with a name like Simon. He paid me to edit his papers, along with a bunch of other students, but other than that, we’d never had a real conversation or anything, even though the rumor went that he didn’t have a girlfriend. And all jocks have girlfriends, right? Unless they’re queer as fuck.
I was still thinking about that when Sheri kicked my seat and said, “Earth to Daniel. You gonna stop daydreaming about your toy boy and get a coffee with me or what?”
Professor Linden was done and students were drifting out of the lecture hall and I hadn’t even noticed. I jumped up and said, “Actually, I’ve got an interview for a job this afternoon.”
Sheri raised her eyebrows. “You still editing? ‘Cause I got a few papers for you to look at.”
“It’s a weekend type of thing. In-home care,” I explained as we exited Stafford Hall. I yanked my jacket closed against the blustery chill and adjusted the strap of my shoulder pack. It had been hot for most of September, but now it was definitely starting to feel like fall. I thought again how the east was totally like Jekyll and Hyde, one extreme or the other.
We checked out Simon and his pack of jocks as they headed for the Stadium, probably to warm up for tonight’s game against Rutgers. I didn’t actually like football but I always showed up for the games to watch Simon play. “You gonna talk to him already?” Sheri asked as she loosened her uniform tie. “You know in this town the country mouse attitude doesn’t get you anything but the back of the line.”
The thing with Sheri was, she didn’t mess around, which is why I liked her. She was forward and a little pushy while I was quite and docile. Almost from the first day I’d landed in New York, she’d taken me under her wing. I knew that if she’d liked Simon, she would have already “bagged and tagged” him, as she liked to call it. With her blonde, cheerleader good looks, that probably wouldn’t have been a problem. Sheri had like fifteen exes on the school campus alone, and every last one still wanted to get with her.
“Yeah,” I said, watching Simon’s fine ass. “Eventually.”
“When the moon is in the right phrase.”
“Okay, so you won’t talk to Simon and have a real weekend life, but you’re willing to take care of some old dude,” she said when we reached the parking lot. She shook her head with exasperation. “Makes sense to me.”
She made it sound like it was a job scrubbing toilets or something. But Sheri and her friends were loaded, so what did they know about trying to make it in an Ivy League school like Columbia on a scholarship and student loans?
I shrugged. I’d taken care of my dad through his chemo treatments. I didn’t see how this was any different. Besides, the last email I’d gotten from my mom had been a little disturbing. My dad had been laid off from his job for reasons that just didn’t add up but screamed liability, and the six months of his worker’s comp was quickly running out. Mom finally admitted that they were “a little behind on the mortgage,” and she was looking for work in town, but I knew her arthritis was going to make that nearly impossible. Apparently, the money I sent home every month didn’t amount to shit anymore. My mom hadn’t said that, of course, but I was smart enough to read between the lines.
So I wheeled some old guy around a couple days a week. The pay was good. And it would leave me plenty of free time to edit papers or just try to think of ways of talking to Simon without sounding like some brainless dolt. How hard could that be?
The address was for an old, stone, south-facing townhouse on a quaint, tree-lined street in the heart of the West Village, the kind of place Manhattan billionaires retired to when they fell on hard times and had to sell that third vacation home in the French Riviera. I got off the bus and went up to the big, wrought-iron gates surrounding the property and wondered what my chances here were of being arrested for vagrancy.
The call box sprang to life and I jumped as a female voice said, “Thanks for coming. Daniel, right? Go around to the west entrance, will you?”
“Okay,” I said into the box, then realized I had to hold a button down and repeat myself.
The gate clicked open and I let myself in and followed a long, curved, cobblestone path around the side of the house to what I assumed was the west entrance, surrounded by a gigantic stone pavilion. A young woman in her early twenties stood by some French doors. She was tall, model thin, with short black hair and almost black eyes. She had a pretty, horsey face and amazing cheekbones, like some European actress I didn’t know but should. “Thanks for coming by, Daniel. Did you find the house all right?”
“Sure,” I said, big talker that I am, and followed her inside to an industrial-sized kitchen with stone walls and all stainless steel appliances. I thought how my mom would get such a kick from a kitchen like this.
“I’m Kate. You’re an undergraduate?”
“Yeah,” I said, and kept looking around the place, which looked like a poised magazine layout. I finally snapped my attention back to Kate so I didn’t come off as too ghetto. At least, that’s what Sheri always said. Don’t look around rich folks’ pads because it makes you look ghetto. Or, in my case, country mouse. I shook Kate’s hand and said, “From Columbia.”
“Ivy League,” she said and whistled. “I bet you’re super smart. This job must sound pretty boring to you.”
“I took care of my dad,” I said.
“Was he disabled?”
“It’s cool,” I said, and slid my hands into the pockets of my jacket. “He’s okay now.”
“Does he live in the city?”
I didn’t want to say he lived in Kansas with my other family, so I just said, “No. He’s out in the country.”
Kate nodded and led me into a gigantic living room done in royal red with vaulted ceilings and Greek statues. Wow. “I wish I could get my dad to move out to the country. I have a house out in Martha’s Vineyard? But Da’s a stubborn old codger. When he first came to this country, he settled here in New York, and now he won’t leave it at all. He says the house reminds him too much of my mother, who passed on a few years ago.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “He’s the one you need in-home care for?”
“Yes. Da’s disabled. I mean, he’s fine around the house, and he can manage if he goes into the office, but I don’t like him going out on his own. I landed a gig with the new X-Files reboot that’s filming in Vancouver? So I won’t be down here in the city to look after him that much. You understand.”
I raised my eyebrows at that. No wonder Kate looked familiar. I think I recognized her from a sitcom I’d seen one night. Shit, a celebrity. I wondered if it would be impolite to ask her for her autograph. Up ahead I spotted a pair of big, oaken double doors. Faint strands of classical music drifted from the room. “Is your dad an actor too?” I asked.
“No. Da’s in container shipping. Have you heard of NorthStar?”
“Oh yeah,” I said.
“He stepped down as CEO about ten years ago, when things started getting hard for him, but he still has controlling interest, and he likes to go into the office on Saturdays and look things over. Do you think you could handle taking him into the city?”
“Sure,” I said.
“He also likes to visit with his friends.”
“Okay,” I said. The old guy sounded pretty active. And if he wanted to sit around Central Park and play checkers with some old dudes or feed pigeons or whatever, that was fine. I figured I could do my papers or editing while I waited.
Kate pushed the doors open and we stepped into a gigantic conservatory with a glass ceiling. The music hit me full on, the kind of rolling crescendo you normally only hear from concern pianists. I worked at keeping my jaw from dropping to my shoes while Kate led me across the hardwood floor to a giant black grand piano where her father sat playing. “Da, I’d like you to meet Daniel Collins. He’s here to look after you.” She hugged the man at the piano and kissed him on the cheek. “Daniel, this is my dad, Alexei Karenina.” Her cell went off then and she snatched it up. “I’ll let you two get acquainted while I take that,” she said and excused herself from the room.
Holy Christ, I thought as my heart stopped for one second in my chest, and then, as if to make up for it, started galloping like crazy. I gripped the straps of my pack and just stared at Kate’s dad, who’d stopped playing the moment we’d stepped into the room. He looked like a forty-something, male version of his daughter, tall and slim in his dark suit, with a lean, angular face and those incredible actor cheekbones and almost pitch black eyes. His black hair was brushed neatly back away from his face, with just a few strands of virile grey at the temple, and the lashes that framed his eyes were dark and lush, like the little hairs along the backs of his hands.
“Daniel Collins,” he said, staring at me somewhat blankly.
“Yes, sir,” I said.
“How old are you?”
“Twenty-three,” I told him. “I go to Columbia. I’m studying economics. I’m hoping to land a job with a firm as a CPA one day,” I babbled on.
Shit. I never babbled until I saw a hot guy. Then I couldn’t shut up.
He blinked. “I didn’t ask what you’re studying or what your plans were. I just asked your age.”
I flushed at the steel in Mr. Karenina’s voice. “Sorry.”
“Why are you sorry? Because you’re studying economics? Or because you want to be a CPA?”
“No,” I immediately answered. “I mean…never mind.”
Mr. Karenina gave me a cold look out of those dead, unblinking eyes and reached for a bottle of expensive scotch sitting atop the piano. Jesus, great going Daniel, I thought. Retarded much? I watched him stick two fingers into a tumbler and pour until the amber liquid reached the halfway line. Then he got up and carried the tumbler across the room, navigating with amazing accuracy for a blind guy. He reached a dark, plush, leather sofa opposite a wicker chair and sat down. “Are you going to hover or are we going to conduct this interview?”
The steely sound of Mr. Karenina’s voice made me flinch inside. He rolled his “R’s” and clipped the ends of his sentences. I though German, at first, then figured, Karenina…must be Russian. He sounded like a fucking drill sergeant from the Soviet Union. Comrade, we are Red partisans, and we SHOOT deserters!
I went over to the wicker chair and dropped down, my pack at my feet.
Mr. Karenina sat there opposite me, his dead black gaze centered just a few inches below my chin. I felt the sudden, intense need to stick my tongue out and cross my eyes at him. “What did Kate tell you about the job?”
“She said I was to look after you, take you into the city sometimes.”
He sipped his drink and then rested the tumbler on his thigh. He sat with his legs slightly spread apart, so I checked out his package. I figured why the hell not? It wasn’t like Mr. Karenina was in a position to notice. His suit was nicely fitted, obviously tailor-made, making a pleasant enough bulge in his pants. It reminded me of a good underwear ad, where the model’s briefs are just tight enough to rub and keep the cock semi-erect.
Mr. Karenina had said something and it took me a moment to backtrack and figure out what it was.
“Do you know how to walk a room properly?”
“Sure,” I said. “Um…what do you mean?”
Mr. Karenina gave me a grave look of disapproval. “I’m looking for someone to walk the rooms of the house and make certain everything is in its proper place and there are no obvious tripping hazards. My housekeeper has a tendency to move things around on me, which, frankly, annoys me.”
I had a feeling that a lot of things annoyed Mr. Karenina. I rolled my eyes but said, “I can do that.”
“Don’t bother with the sarcastic gestures, young man. It’s a waste of energy where I’m concerned.”
The fuck…? “Sorry.”
“Are you going to keep apologizing the whole time?”
“Sor—no,” I said. I shut my mouth.
“I’ll need you on Saturdays and Sundays, from eleven in the morning until six in the evening. Is that a problem?”
“You have no life to speak of?”
My body flushed with anger. I almost said something rude and obnoxious, but I’d been raised better than that. Three years in New York hadn’t changed me that much. “I’m available to do the job, Mr. Karenina. That’s why I’m applying.”
“You sound angry.”
“I’m not angry.”
“What kind of accent is that? Midwest…Kansas City?”
“Ah. What are you doing here, Daniel? Aside from studying economics and dreaming of being a CPA? What do you think New York has to offer you?”
I sat in silence. I had no intention of rationalizing myself to Mr. Karenina.
“Now you’re angry again.”
“I’m not angry,” I insisted, a little too angrily. I grabbed at my pack, finally ready to stand up and get the hell out of here. Mr. Karenina was a total dick, and if I wanted this kind of abuse, I could just as well phone home and talk to my dad.
But before I could go for the door, he said, “Can I see you?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Touch your face.”
The request made something jump uncomfortably inside of me. Normally, a hot guy wanting to touch me would make for a very happy Daniel, but I’d decided I didn’t like Mr. Karenina, hot or not. “I don’t think so.”
“Are you always like this?”
“A defensive little bitch.”
I stared at him long and hard. Who the hell did he think he was? I marched over to Mr. Karenina and dropped my pack. I stood there. “So touch me.”
Fuck me. I thought about laying into the guy, telling him he was an overbearing prick, but Kate was offering a lot of money to take care of the old bastard. Enough to fill in the gaps during the winter semester. Enough to send a little home. And, I reminded myself, it was only two days a week.
I knelt down on the floor at Mr. Karenina’s feet so we were almost eye-to-eye and I was inches away from his crotch. This close, I could feel his heat. Mr. Karenina shifted the tumbler of scotch to the table beside the chair and reached out both hands to touch my face. His expression remained impassive as he set his big, heavy hands on my cheeks, then brushed his thumbs over my fluttering eyes and down to my mouth. He had slim hands, pianists hands, and a gentler touch than I’d expected. His thumbs brushed across my lips, leaving a tingling sensation in their wake. He grunted, though I had no idea if it was a sound of approval or indifference.
He put his hands back on the armrests of the chair. Kneeling in front of him, I noticed the bulge in his fine, tailored pants had grown substantially in the last few minutes. “You’ll begin this Saturday,” he told me. “Don’t be late. Now leave.”
Definitely the weirdest interview of my life.
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