A Whore in New York (NSFW)

I never wrote fanfiction, in the classic sense of the word. I’ve never written other people’s characters. (Characters who aren’t mine remain firmly read-only in my imagination.) But I do occasionally get bitten by so-called plot bunnies, unable to banish the idea until I’ve written it. Fanfiction of my own work, if you will.

And Hugh Reynolds? Wants his fingers in all the pies. Get your mind out of the gutter! He’s very curious, our Hugh, and he finds a way into stories that aren’t his with some frequency, though this is the first time I’ve written it down. I’m posting this behind a cut (it’s a touch more porny than I usually post to the blog, but somewhat unintentionally).

Whether this story has spoilers depends on how sensitive you are to spoilers. Nothing here is precisely a secret at the beginning of The Ghost in the Penthouse, but if you like to approach a book with zero preconceptions, you might loop back around to this story after you read it. (If, indeed, you plan to read it at all.)

In any case, this is the story of a young man who purchases the time of an independent contractor, and is surprised to discover he very nearly makes a friend in the bargain.

A Whore in New York. Behind the cut.


 

 

Hiram Sussman didn’t usually hire his orgasms. He liked to provide a distinct level of entertainment for parties, certainly—that was his duty as host—but for himself? Rarely.

This particular gentleman came highly recommended by “Auntie” Horace, and although Hiram had long since stopped seeing Auntie’s particular charm, this was evidently a limited time offer, and, well, he’d never liked to miss out on something interesting.

Interesting, yes.

“How old are you?” the help asked, standing in Hiram’s foyer with the kind of bearing that he did not associate with twenty-five year old hookers.

He considered the question, then held up one finger. “A moment.” Hiram dodged into the mud room and ran his hand along the back of the side table until his fingers encountered the envelope. He withdrew the entire banded packet of false identification cards and returned to the foyer.

“How old do you want me to be?” he asked, not inflecting the line with any of the usual coy he might have used on someone else. He handed over the collection and waited.

“New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island. Have you lived in any of these places?”

Hiram spread his hands to indicate the room, the penthouse, the building. “In fact, I’ve never lived anywhere other than here.” In fact, I’m very nearly a hermit, but don’t let that bother you. I tip well, for a hermit.

His guest’s countenance almost seemed to relax by a fraction. “And how old are you? I notice none of those are from New York state.”

Because this was amusing (and they hadn’t even moved into negotiations for the truly amusing bits yet), Hiram surrendered his actual ID card, pulled from his pocketbook on the table in the entryway.

“Twenty. You live here alone?” The gentleman glanced around. “It feels like we’re the only people here.”

“We are.” At least, the way you understand the term. “I have been, ah, shelved, if you will, by my parents. I have an unfortunate affliction.”

“Agoraphobia?”

Hiram blinked. “I was going to say madness. Agoraphobia is— I’m merely an amateur agoraphobic, at the moment. But my parents have decided to park me here for the foreseeable future while they explore other housing situations.” Like pretending to be childless in a new building where no one has ever seen their unfortunate son. “Why did you assume agoraphobia?”

“You’re young, you have a particular look about you that says you’re not shy, and you called me.”

“Perhaps I’m slumming.”

“Who gave you my number? I’m not here very long.”

“Horace Fenwick.”

The young man—surely closer to a contemporary of Hiram’s than Horace’s—nodded. “What do you like?”

Mystery men from out of town. “Where are you from?”

“California.”

“Why are you here?”

“Horace asked fewer questions,” the help replied, raising his eyebrows.

“Horace is an idiot.”

“And yet, here we are, because of him.”

Oh, this was fun, too fun. “He knows my rather eclectic tastes very well. He thought I’d like you. And if not—” He shrugged, knowing the move gave him a just slightly feminine edge. But this one was gay all the way through, none of that hearty “gay for pay” vibe here, not even pretend.

Actually, that was a relief. Hiram had transitioned out of making a sport of straight boys. Mostly, anyway.

“And your tastes? Presumably they’re relevant to our current transaction.”

“Horace said you enjoyed bondage.”

His guest’s face hardened into a mask. “I’m afraid he was misinformed. Though how did he—” He half-turned away, shoulders hunching for a moment. When he turned back, he was composed.

Except for his eyes. His eyes were those of a cornered mammal, unwilling to submit but seeing no way out.

“You’re here temporarily,” Hiram said. “Horace mentioned you’ve been unexpectedly waylaid by a lack of funding.”

“I hope to leave within the week. Airline prices are—this is not a good time to book a last minute ticket.”

“And no one will lend you the money?”

“I can’t imagine how little you care for my financial situation.”

“I’m curious,” Hiram said, wishing that he’d invited the stranger inside, like he would have a real guest. Too late to change protocol now. “I don’t suppose you’ll tell me your name. First name only, just so I have something to call you that isn’t whatever Horace called you.”

“Horace knows my name. Horace and I—share an acquaintance. Who evidently has a big mouth.” The man shook his head. “I apologize. My name is Hugh. But again, that doesn’t really seem relevant. Tell me what you want, I will tell you what it costs.”

“Let’s make a minor alteration, Hugh,” Hiram said. “Why don’t you tell me what it costs to book a last minute flight to California, and I’ll tell you what I want for that amount of money?”

Hugh, handsome, short, very fit Hugh, paused. “Eight hundred dollars.”

“Well, hell, honey, why didn’t you say so?” He couldn’t do a southern accent, not really, but Hiram doubted the Californian’s ear would pick up on the nuances. “That’s pennies in the bowl, Hugh. Did you account for taxes?”

“Yes,” Hugh said, as if it physically hurt him to speak.

“Good. Is that with layovers or direct?”

“Layovers.”

“And coach, I assume.”

“Yes.”

Hiram smiled. “Good. Well, we’ll go ahead and make it an even thousand, Hugh, if you can believably deliver the service I’m requesting.”

“Which is?”

Energy surged up from Hiram’s toes as he stood there, balanced at the edge of daring, so very close to being stupid that it was hard to breathe.

“I want you to subdue me, Hugh. I haven’t been forced lately, and it’s something I’ve developed an interest in.”

“Forced penetrative anal sex,” Hugh said.

“Mm, it does sound delicious when you say it like that.”

“Rape play.”

“That sounds even better.”

They stared at each other. The frightened animal look had been replaced by…calculation. He wanted the money. He didn’t mind the scene. So what was he contemplating so deeply behind those smooth brown eyes?

“Do you have a script in mind, or are you more interested in the sensation?”

“No script. Be creative.”

“You don’t even know me. And I don’t work around here. Horace can’t be so good a reference, that you require nothing else.”

“You don’t think?”

“For you? No. I think you do your research and I doubt you let anyone know it. You want them to think you’re careless, but I’ve seen your brand of careless, Mr Sussman, and it’s meticulous.”

Hiram slowed his breathing until air barely moved and felt his feet on the marble floors, firm and unyielding. “I find the risk—enchanting. And I like that you are not tall. I did warn you I had eclectic tastes. I find it so tiresome to be dominated by tall men who never had to search for strength. You’ve had to look in all the corners for yours, haven’t you?” He didn’t wait for a reply (which would have been an evasion, almost certainly). “I think we may be kindred spirits, Hugh. And you can call me Hiram.”

“I’ll do the job. And I’ll take your money. But if you think that my lack of stature translates to a lack of brutality, I should tell you now that it doesn’t.”

“Oh, Hugh. Brutality is very much what I’m looking for.”

That didn’t seem to reassure the mystery man in the foyer.

“Now. Let me show you where we’ll do the—job.”

“Here. Your fake IDs.”

“Leave them. Leave all of them. I’ll put them away later. This way.”

Yes, this was good. This was exactly what he wanted when Horace said, “He’ll do a lot, but not ropes. At least, that’s what Ethan told me.” Horace’s rather graphically detailed account of what Hugh had done for him only added to Hiram’s curiosity. Now he’d explore the fascinating man for himself. Or be explored by him.

* * *

Hugh was exactly what Hiram had hoped he’d be. He used his strength unapologetically, knew precisely what he could master with his size, and didn’t pause for any mood-killing niceties except for growling, “I assume bruises below the neck are acceptable.”

I could fall in love. “I have turtlenecks, darling. You can bruise me anywhere.”

But when Hugh locked an arm around his neck, perforce turning it to the side, Hiram could see the shadows forming in the far corner of the room.

No. No, fuck you, leave me alone. I’m having fun, you old bastard, go away!

Hiram fought a wave of darkness so strong it blunted the blissful edge of breathplay his hired help seemed intent on providing. No. No, damn you, if I’m going to pass out, it will be because this tortured boy fucked me unconscious, not because of YOU.

The shadows grew deeper and Hiram gave in. “Red. I apologize.”

“Of course,” Hugh said, loosening his grip and rolling off.

Hiram expected something, but the man said nothing at all. He turned, trying very hard not to notice the shadows remaining in the corners of his vision, wherever he looked. Now they were over Hugh’s shoulder, hovering in front of the windows to the garden.

“Oh, god. This is—forgive me.”

But Hugh of the hired orgasm was staring at him, not at all put-off. “I don’t suppose you’re schizophrenic?”

Hiram blinked, losing his erection as completely as if he’d never had one. “Excuse me?”

“You were murmuring. And something behind me is scaring you. Just a guess, and if I offended you, I apologize.”

“Why schizophrenia?” But at least the shadows had dissipated. He could look at Hugh and not see anyone else.

“You’re the right age for it, give or take. And you appear to be experiencing hallucinations. But I’m only in the first year of my internship, and we don’t deal with serious diagnoses much.”

“I see,” Hiram forced himself to say. “I very much wish that I was schizophrenic, but I’m afraid these particular hallucinations have been with me for as long as I can remember.” He shook his head. “Forgive me, I didn’t mean that I wished to be schizophrenic. Of course, I do not wish to be schizophrenic. I wish that whatever it is I am was treatable, instead of—incurable.”

A long, impassive look. “Is the sex a temporary relief from it? Horace indicated you had quite the reputation for throwing parties.”

“The parties are a dig at my parents. And I—do not go out as much as I once did.”

“I thought that might be a symptom.”

“When did you start diagnosing me?” Hiram asked, and he knew the expression on his face now was forbidding. “My mother is a therapist and my father is a physician; it’s bad form to diagnosis in absentia, Hugh.”

Hugh shook his head. “I thought agoraphobia when Horace spoke about you. But you’re frightened of something. In any case, my question about sex wasn’t diagnostic. I still haven’t earned my flight home, Hiram. Shall we return to our previous activity?”

“You’re willing to have sex with a presumed schizophrenic? Aren’t you worried I’m not in my right mind? I assure you, if we spoke further about this you’d confirm your impression of my mental instability.”

“Your madness,” Hugh said, eyes sharp. “No. Even madmen deserve to get laid.” He shifted up and swung a leg over Hiram, kneeling now, and reached for lubricant.

Hiram expected him to go straight back into the scene, but he didn’t. He touched Hiram’s body as if he could banish the ghosts with pleasure alone.

“Tell me what helps the most, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Slick fingers moved confidently over Hiram’s skin, seeking the places that would most distract him, even though at this point there seemed little hope of it.

Naturally, there was no such thing as a hooker with a heart of gold. Hookers, like nearly everyone else (present spirits excepted), were merely people, with golden bits and tarnished bits in varying proportions. But in this moment, in the pool of light from his bedside lamp, Hiram looked up and wanted to believe that this young man could rid him of his demons. If only for the night.

“It is not something I usually ask of people. I’ve only lucked on it once or twice, purely by accident.”

Hugh smiled, both hands smoothing up Hiram’s sides. “Tell me. It’s worth a shot.”

Hiram sighed and looked away. “It leaves me alone when I take lovers—actual lovers. Not conquests. Not independent businessmen, like yourself. It leaves me alone when someone seems to actually enjoy my company.”

“Not a problem,” Hugh said softly. “I actually enjoy your company, Hiram. May I kiss you?”

The shadows, angry now, closed in. Begone, you. Hiram closed his eyes. “Please.”

Kissing might or might not be usually on the menu. Hugh didn’t kiss like a professional, the way he touched. He kissed as if he was trying to learn, or understand, through the medium of lips and tongue.

“Does closing your eyes help?” Hugh whispered against his skin.

“He can’t get to me if I close my eyes. I realize how insane that sounds—”

A light brush of fingertips over his lids. “All right. Try to focus on sensation, Hiram.”

He wanted to lose himself in Hugh, whose sure hands now drifted down, whose lips stayed very near. While they kissed, Hugh touched him lightly, pressure on his glans, on his shaft, lower still to briefly caress his balls. Hiram arched into his fingers, keeping his hands above his head, allowing the professional to do his work.

Hugh entered him once more, not too slowly, not too gently, and began kissing him again, a chord played by cock and tongue simultaneously, both thrusting in time. It took nothing to wrap legs around him, invite him in deeper, savor the muffled moan. One of Hugh’s hands held his face, and in this he was gentle, even as he thrust harder.

It was a gorgeous fuck, intense and transcendent. Hugh changed their positions at will, but never for long—pulling one of Hiram’s legs up so he could push in from the side, lifting Hiram’s lower body off the bed so he could angle himself deeper—but Hiram noticed he kept them mostly face-to-face, perhaps sensing his vulnerability to shadows, or perhaps because he thought that bore a better resemblance to lovers.

Or perhaps because he liked looking at Hiram. When Hiram opened his eyes again, when it was safe, Hugh smiled down at him.

“You can come, you know,” Hiram said. “I wouldn’t dream of depriving you.”

“You first. Tell me how you want it, Hiram.”

“I want you to kiss me.” A foolish request, but it hardly mattered. Hugh would get on a plane and leave forever, and that would be fine. But tonight, if he didn’t mind offering solace, Hiram would take it.

“It wasn’t a line, you know. I do like you.” Hugh shifted them again, going as flat as he could while keeping his delightfully long prick well-sheathed in Hiram’s body.

This time he twisted his fingers into Hiram’s hair and held him still, kissing him deeply. I like you, too, cowboy.

The hand disappeared, and yes, oh yes, Hugh knew how to touch, how to play the line between too much and not enough. He shoved in deeper as his hand sped up and Hiram realized he was now holding on to Hugh’s face to continue the kissing, desperately seeking an overload of sensation, desperately seeking an escape.

He orgasmed hard, pressing his cheek against the help’s as if he had no shame at all.

“I want you in my mouth,” he whispered, still breathless. “Please.”

“Let me change condoms.”

“Darling, don’t bother. I assure you I’m squeaky clean for all my reputation, and bottom-to-top transmission rates are nonexistent. Let me taste you, Hugh, please.”

Pushy, pushy, but this would help. Having a man in his mouth always helped, as if Grandfather’s ghost could stomach anal sex, but a blowjob was just too much.

Hugh’s hand brushed through his hair, looking down. “I’m relieved to hear it, but I wasn’t protecting myself from you, Hiram. Lest you forget that one of my income streams involves having sex with men for money.”

“You don’t work in back alleys, Hugh. I’ll take the risk. Please.”

Hugh made some low sound—of agreement, possibly, or at least acquiescence—and pulled out, leaving Hiram brilliantly aching. He stripped the condom off, wrapped it in a tissue he already had nearby, and tossed it in the bin beside the bed.

“You memorize the location of trash bins when you’re doing a job?” Hiram asked, charmed by the entire ritual.

“Trash bins, bathrooms, exits, weapons, possible hiding places, and I’m always listening for additional occupants. I also prefer to be in rooms that don’t lock, but locking bedroom doors are ubiquitous.” But even with the self-consciously defensive delivery, Hugh blushed.

“A boy scout of sex work.” Hiram took hold of said boy scout’s prick. “This is lovely. Sit back, Hugh. Do you mind me touching?”

“No.” That was a no, but if Hiram had ever heard one. “No. I don’t mind touching.”

“Good.” He waited until Hugh resettled, locating the lubricant and applying some to his smooth sac before dipping lower. “I meant touching, and you can say no thank you if you like.”

Hugh’s body tensed, then opened for him, taking in one finger, then two, as Hiram’s other hand worked his shaft. He waited until Hugh relaxed before taking in the head of his luscious cock, tasting it, playing with it in his mouth like a hard candy, using his tongue and cheeks.

“Oh god—Hiram—“

The tension in Hugh’s ass changed, and now, yes, now Hiram sucked him more steadily, stroking him inside, hungry for his moans. Good, good, make the unflappable man come undone.

He sucked Hugh down as he came, fingers never stopping. He wished he had another hand to feel his scrotum tighten, but this was also good. Marvelous, really. Something about the power of a man coming in his mouth helped more even than a man coming in his ass.

“Thank you,” Hugh said, one hand touching Hiram’s arm. “That was—unexpected.”

“Thank you.” Hiram straightened, pulled blankets over himself. He was chilled now, which wasn’t a good sign at all. “Does this room feel cold to you?” Please say you don’t feel it. Please say he can’t get to you, too.

“Not particularly.” Hugh began to move, as if soon he’d stand, pull his clothes on, wait for his check.

“I will give you five thousand dollars if you’ll stay the night,” Hiram said, knowing his voice sounded strained and hysterical. “Please. You could talk me up. I’ll do anything, if you could—”

“Hiram. Don’t.” This time Hugh slid down into the blankets, propped on his side. “Don’t say things you’ll regret saying.”

“He’ll come back, he always comes back, but I just need a few more hours first. Just a rest, for a few more hours.”

Hugh reached for his hand and held it. “I’ll stay the night, but you aren’t obligated to pay me.”

“You’re a terrible businessperson.”

“No. I am—four and a half years away from inheriting more money than anyone could ever need in one lifetime. I have my locals, back in the Bay Area, and I don’t want for anything. I don’t need your five thousand dollars. I just need to get home. Did you hear what I said? I like you. That wasn’t me bullshitting a client, Hiram.”

“I know.” Hiram allowed himself to grip Hugh’s hand back. “He’s gone now. If you’d been pretending, he would still be here, and I’d be even colder than I am.”

“Will you tell me?”

“Still searching for a diagnosis? I assure you, many have tried. And failed.”

“You talk like this to a lot of people? That would surprise me, Hiram. Tell me more about what you see.”

“On one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“Tell me why on earth you flew across the country for a predatory fuck like Ethan.”

Hugh attempted to withdraw his hand.

“Don’t do that. We’ll never see one another again, Hugh. But I’m ravished by curiosity.”

Hugh’s jaw set, and when he spoke there was a new note in his voice. Anger. “I wasn’t aware you and Ethan were acquainted.”

“I watched him eat away at a friend of mine until he crumbled into—well, he was unrecognizable, after a while. I do not have a high opinion of any man who would do that, even less of one who seemed to get off on it.”

“God. I don’t know why I assumed he’d changed. Is your friend all right?”

“I’ve hardly seen him since Ethan stopped taking him out. It apparently got to the point where all Ethan had to do was indicate a man across the room and this friend of mine would do anything he said.” Hiram shivered again, drawing the blankets in closer.

“I’m familiar with his methods,” Hugh said dryly. “I hadn’t heard from him in five or six years and when he called, I suppose I thought we could—bury the hatchet. Or at least that I could conquer the largest looming antagonist in my past.”

Oh, that was utterly fascinating. Hiram tried to find a delicate way of phrasing the question, but Hugh looked over, expression rueful.

“I was eighteen. At the time I thought Ethan was exactly what I wanted, that he would usher me into the gay world, mentor me, show me the best of it. I was a fool, of course.”

“We all are, at one time or another. And especially over a man. I’m still not sure why you’re here.”

“He said he’d be happy to host me for a week, no strings, so I could see the city. I’ve never been here before, and it seemed like an opportunity.” Another rueful head-shake. “I invented lies for my two closest friends, both of whom would have tied me to a chair before they let me get on a plane to see Ethan.”

“And then?”

“It was a one-way ticket. I thought, what’s the worst that could happen? It turned out the worst that could happen was taking a cab to Ethan’s only to discover that in this case ‘no strings’ meant ‘I’m holding a party where you’re the entertainment, and you’ll do as I say or I won’t give you the ticket home.’”

Hiram’s stomach clenched. Perhaps all sadists were alike in some ways; Grandfather would surely have appreciated Ethan. “If you’d led with that story, I would have given you the money outright, Hugh.”

“And if you’d given me the money, we still would have had sex, because you intrigue me.”

“Likewise.”

“It wouldn’t have quite been the issue it is, save for the fact that I replaced my water heater this month. Certainly under normal circumstances I could draw on household funds in an emergency, but to draw on additional funds I’d have to lie to my accountant. But what else would I say? ‘I got myself into an unfortunate situation that anyone could have seen coming’?”

“I could give you the five thousand and I still would only hear about it from my parents if Mom is particularly bored this month.”

Hugh shook his head. “I’m punishing myself. I could call my best friend, who would wire me money in a heartbeat, but then I’d have to hear about my failures and all the reasons I stupidly did this. So instead of staying at Ethan’s, I left, blindly, like a fool, and Horace followed me out and offered me a more private opportunity. Though he did not pay me enough to fly home, probably not by accident. Two hours after I left him, I heard from you.”

“Had you found a hotel room?”

“I was drowning my misery in some sort of fancy grocery store. I’ve never seen such expensive cheese in my life.”

“Auntie would have called you back to give you the money, but I told him I’d like a shot with the mystery man first. Saying that now makes it sound more…sleazy than I intended it at the time.”

“How often do you lie in bed after the job is done, chatting with your whore, Hiram?”

“I told you, my reputation is hardly accurate. It’s rare that I procure sex for myself. Auntie’s a jealous bitch because when she was my age she fucked men in trade for room and board.”

Hugh raised his eyebrows. “Auntie? Is that what you call Horace?”

“It’s how she used to introduce herself in bars to new young things, offering to guide them, yes, into the great gay world.”

“I noticed that. He very strongly indicated that he couldn’t believe Ethan had done such a thing. Of course, I hadn’t gone into any detail about what he’d done, so whatever Horace was talking about, it related to how Ethan sold the evening.”

“Horace is a terrible bitch, but I’m sure he went for the sake of curiosity.”

“I’m almost certain he went for the sake of free meat. But never mind.” Hugh paused, shifting until he could rest his head propped on one hand. “Your turn. You’ve heard about my demons, Hiram. Let’s hear about yours.”

“Ah. Yes.” Hiram’s eyes shifted over, to the windows. Dark outside, light within; he could only see reflections, not the dark shapes of his garden, still in progress. He’d forced them to design around his line of sight, from the bed to the far wall. “My ghosts, actually.”

“Really?”

“Yes. And you will have to contain your arguments, Hugh; they really are ghosts. They have haunted me for as long as I can remember.”

Hugh blinked at him, expression not doing anything Hiram could recognize as closing off. “Tell me about your ghosts. Do you hear them? See them? I assumed you were seeing them because you appeared to be frightened only in certain directions.”

He’d only ever told Enrique, and he’d been far too young to know he shouldn’t. He never brought it up to Mom and Dad, because it would be too painful, but he’d thought that everyone felt them and simply didn’t discuss it.

“One of them, my grandfather, shows up as shadows coalescing in the corners of my vision. I never see his form more distinctly than you’d see a lamp post through deep fog—you know it’s there, but mostly your mind supplies the shape.”

Hugh nodded. “How many are there?”

“Two. My sister Sarah is the other, but I don’t see her. I feel her in the air, in other rooms, not usually here. I speak to her, and I think she answers back sometimes, but I can’t be certain it’s not just hope leading me to think that.”

“Your grandfather doesn’t speak?”

“Not in words. I can sense what he’s feeling—mostly anger, though when I am frightened, or disturbed, the feel of him shifts to…hunger—but I’ve never felt he replied to me the way I have with Sarah.” He tried to smile, but discussing it like this was unsettling on so many levels. Hugh’s hand squeezed his. “I don’t generally tell people, of course.”

“No, I can’t imagine you would. And how long have you been experiencing this?”

“Forever. I assume since each of them died, though it’s hard to say. I’ve always felt Sarah around me. Sometimes I think I see her, when I go out. That she’s on the subway with me, or that she’s ahead of me in line to buy coffee. That’s not a real hallucination; I can recognize wishful thinking when I see it.”

“How old were you when Sarah died?”

“Eight. And it was complicated. My parents—took a long time to recover. If they ever did recover, and to be perfectly honest with you, I doubt they did.”

“I understand completely,” Hugh said.

“So. Tell me, Hugh. Do you think I’m schizophrenic?”

“No. It’s possible, but no, I’m not sure what you are.” He narrowed his eyes, like he was trying to see into Hiram through his skin. “Childhood hallucinations, imaginary friends, vivid fantasies, are all documented and considered relatively normal. Did you have behavioral issues, depression?”

“Of course I did. Don’t you remember being a gay child, Hugh? Every single one of us is diagnosable.”

“True. It is strange that your quite specific hallucinations pursued you into adulthood. Never any others? No unexplained voices, no arguments you’d swear you were hearing other people have, possibly about yourself?”

“I’ve heard a lot of arguments about myself, but they were in stereo. No, Hugh. Just Sarah and Grandfather. And I’m not especially paranoid, except when it comes to night time.”

“So you’re only paranoid eight hours a day, give or take?”

Hiram tried to respond to the humor, but he felt himself tense against the chill, as if Grandfather was listening and not impressed. “He comes at night. Sometimes I can’t breathe because he is everywhere, even when I keep on all the lights.”

“You can’t breathe,” Hugh repeated.

“How often do schizophrenic hallucinations strangle their hosts?”

“Is that what it is?” Hugh placed a hand at his own throat. “You feel the pressure here?”

“My chest. As if he is weighing me down.”

“As if he’s on top of you.”

Hiram swallowed. “In any case, thank you for the session, but I’m afraid I’m still crazy.”

“It could be sleep paralysis, I suppose. What helps, aside from sex?”

“Sex doesn’t, in and of itself. Sex coupled with affection is helpful. My parents, when they lived here, seemed to ward off visits by Grandfather.” Hiram gestured to the room. “When I was very young, this room belonged to him. He can get to me anywhere in the apartment, but he is strongest here.”

“Then why do you stay here? It’s a beautiful apartment; surely there are other rooms more suited to your presence.”

Because this is the last room Sarah ever saw. “I refuse to let him win. Which is even more foolish than flying across the country to face down an old boyfriend with a nasty personality, but here we both are.”

“Indeed,” Hugh said. “Have I earned my money, Mr Sussman?”

“And more.”

“Excellent. I hope you won’t mind if I plan to continue my campaign of—what was it? Affection?”

“Off the clock? How risqué.”

Hugh leaned forward and kissed him softly. “If we have established the affection, do you think we might return to our earlier roles? I admit, I enjoy pitting myself against someone wiry and erratic.”

“I’m erratic?”

“You would be if you allowed yourself to move. Don’t be afraid, Hiram. I’m here for fun now, by mutual decision, out of mutual enjoyment.”

I could drown in your deep brown eyes, lovely. “I do wish you lived closer, Hugh.”

“This is better. If this was my actual life I’d be trying to fix what ails you. This way we can enjoy one another for this brief moment, never beholden to a future in which we disappoint each other terribly.”

“You don’t think it would be worth the risk?”

“I’ve seen so few people succeed. I can’t imagine how it could possibly be worth the risk.” Hugh rose up, losing the blankets, splendidly fit in lamp light. “Was that a yes or no, to my earlier question?”

“Yes. Please, yes.”

Hugh knelt over his body and bent down, kissing him sweetly. “First I think we should cement the affection, Hiram.”

Hiram allowed his lips to do all the work of responding.

* * *

He said goodbye to Hugh at half past five in the morning. Hugh was on a direct flight leaving at nine, and wanted to take a walk through New York before catching a cab. (Hiram supplied him with more than enough for cab fare.)

Perhaps if things were different, he could have invited himself along, bought breakfast. But this was better. Parting with a kiss at the door was a perfect bookend to Hugh arriving, wary and skeptical.

He returned his fake ID cards to their hidey hole and started coffee brewing. He’d wait until full light before going to sleep. And he might call Enrique for a shot later, if he couldn’t rest. He didn’t like the shots, but they had a blissful dulling effect on the fear.

No voices, no shadows, no chilling cold. Hiram sat in his kitchen to drink his coffee and pretended, for a moment, that he was every other young man of means.

They would return, make themselves known, and soon. It was always soon. But in the wake of the mysterious Californian’s visit, he could believe (if only for a moment) in a future where he might find someone whose presence could ward off his ghosts permanently.

Ludicrous, undoubtedly. But hope rekindled was a fire he’d warm himself at until it went out again. With pleasure.

November 26th, 2014|Categories: blog, free-stories|Tags: , |

8 Comments

  1. Lucie Le Blanc November 26, 2014 at 7:25 am - Reply

    Dude. That's such a sweet story! Thank you for this gift!

  2. Linda November 27, 2014 at 9:36 am - Reply

    That was gorgeous, is there more Hiram to come?

  3. Kris November 27, 2014 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Oh, I'm glad you guys liked it! Hiram is on his way to you all–an older Hiram, still searching for the man who will fall in love with him and banish his ghosts.

    (Hiram's story was supposed to come out in February, but Nadine asked for a book in her Christmas stocking, and this was lying about, so…)

    Really, thanks for the kind words. I love this little moment in time. Then again, I love Hugh anywhere. There's also a request on the table for "Hugh (and possibly Truman) stumble into a Red and Bad scene and–" So we'll see if that ever pops in my head.

  4. nadine November 28, 2014 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Well I'm sorry that Hiram's story isn't out until February, but I'm glad for any stories that feature Hugh 🙂

    • Kris November 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm - Reply

      Mwuh ha ha ha! You get a round of applause on this one, Nadine. I'm finishing major revisions on Hiram's book (The Ghost in the Penthouse) right now, for publication in December. Like a silly sausage, I am, pushing a deadline by a month and a half. But it is amazing how quickly I work when I give myself less time. Expect to see it soon!

  5. Marge May 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Loved this! I would love for them to meet up again after The Ghost in the Penthouse.

    • KrisRipper2 May 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      Marge! Stop it! I swear, the story where Hiram (and James) stumble into Hugh and Truman writes itself in my head all the time. All the time! I can feel it trying to get written. One of these days…. One of these days…

      • SilverKats May 11, 2015 at 9:31 pm - Reply

        Is this where I shouldn't leave out bunny treats for those plot bunnies? Because that sounds like an interesting story …

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