CHAPTER THREE - TO SEE
Strangely, with Karidon beside him as they entered the ally, Dylan's fear seemed to retreat and they were walking swiftly towards the ill-lighted door. The bouncer oozed out of the darkness. He waved a key card in front of the hidden sensor and the door popped open for them to pass through. The hallway inside smelled of old incense and the sweat from closely-packed dancing bodies. The scent was familiar to Dylan. It was the same smell that all clubs have, but there was an extra tang to it at Recluse of expensive cologne and crisp, cold cash.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Dylan blurted out, "I'm sorry about -- about those guys. I didn't mean to make trouble. It won't happen again."
Karidon put up a restraining hand. "Protecting yourself is nothing you should ever apologize for."
Dylan didn't know how to respond. Did Karidon think he was some kind of tough guy? I'm not. And if he knew how many times I let my dad pound on me, he wouldn't look at me with the glimmer of respect he now does.
"I'm sure that a boy such as yourself has many problems with unwanted attention," Karidon said.
"I'm not a boy, sir. I'm twenty-one," Dylan said. His cheeks flushed as Karidon looked back at him steadily. Finally, he dropped his gaze from the other man and mumbled, "But yeah, some fans can get a little rowdy and Daimon's Cross is ... well, you know, it's a little rough sometimes."
"Yes, that's true. In any event, it is good that you are quick to defend yourself," Karidon answered somberly, but there was a hint of amusement in his voice as if Dylan had said something unintentionally funny.
Karidon lead him down the hallway. Doorways opened to the right and left of them. Dylan only got the briefest glimpse of what was inside some of them: dressing rooms and storage areas with cartons of booze and old set pieces. All of this was expected behind the scenes of a club, but then the whole character of the place changed. Dylan would have described it as if one walked from a bland office building with vinyl floors into a sultan's harem drenched in jewels and silks.
The walls went from plain plasterboard to being covered in heavy black velvet. The floors went from worn wooden boards to gleaming black marble. Dylan blinked and turned around to look at the demarcation. His vision blurred and his head throbbed, forcing him to look away. Once he was facing forward, the headache and blurred vision ceased. A trace of unease went through him.
"You've never been in this part of Recluse before, have you?" Karidon asked softly.
"No. I went through the main doors for the practice earlier today," Dylan responded.
"This is the private back area. Normally, no one other than myself and my business associates get to come back here," Karidon explained.
"So my band mates didn't come through the side door then?" Dylan asked.
"No, but I believe they have all arrived and are waiting on you," Karidon answered.
Dylan frowned. Did he misinterpret the bouncer's head tilt to mean he was to go through the side door when he wasn't?
"Yeah, I ah -- got caught up in something and didn't realize the time," Dylan explained. He wasn't late, but he had wanted to be here earlier. His mother had insisted he come home and do chores for several hours after the practice.
"Remember that if this floor isn't sparkling your father will be angry with both of us," his mother, Sheila, had warned him. Her bleached blonde hair was frizzy and dry. She had tucked it up into a bun, but it was already coming undone. Her brown eyes had black circles beneath them so dark that it looked like she hadn't slept in a week.
She's beaten down. I saw the pictures of when she was younger and she was really pretty, but now she looks fifteen years older than she is, Dylan thought, his mouth tightening. Dad just beat the life out of her. And he wants to do it to me, too. I've got to get out of there! I've got to make this gig work. No matter what.
"Did I say something distressing to you?" Karidon asked, touching his shoulder briefly.
"What?" Dylan asked breaking out of his glum thoughts. "No, no you didn't. It's just ... I want tonight to go well."
Karidon gave him a slow smile. "I've seen you sing many times, Dylan. I know that you'll do fine. You're quite the ... songbird."
Dylan flushed with pleasure. He suddenly felt very young with this man. Exposed somehow, but still safe. The songbird thing made him squirm a bit, but he couldn't say if it was in pleasure or anxiety.
"I didn't know that you were aware of us, sir," Dylan said.
"Karidon," the older man corrected gently. "I book all the bands that play at Recluse. I've been hearing about you for some time."
Dylan blinked in surprise. But before he could react they passed by another doorway and Dylan turned his head to look in. Dylan stopped and stared. The room's walls were covered in flowing purple silk curtains and a round couch was sitting in the middle of the room. On top of the couch were two figures. A dark-haired man was lying down with his pants undone and thrust down to mid-thigh. His shirt was yanked up to mid chest. On top of him was a naked boy who couldn't have been older than eighteen. The boy's body had a glittering serpent tattoo that wrapped around his chest. The serpent's eye was one of the boy's nipples. A diamond stud made it glitter.
The boy moved his hips in a slow sensual roll over the man he was straddling. Dylan’s mouth went dry as he saw the man’s thick member sliding in and out with the boy’s pert ass. The boy threw his head back, his lips parting as he made a low guttural moan. The man’s knuckles went white as he gripped the boy’s hips tighter while he thrust up brutally into the boy’s body. The boy bit his lip and whined in pained pleasure.
“Do you like what you see, Dylan?” Karidon asked. His breath puffed against Dylan’s ear and he shivered helplessly.
“I -- I -- of course not,” Dylan said quickly. His face was flushed and he felt his cock press against the zipper of his jeans. He tugged the leather jacket in front of his tented front and turned quickly away.
To enjoy sex so much, to be so uninhibited was something alien to Dylan. His father often accused him of being a fag. He was a pretty boy. That’s what his father said. A pretty boy that needed to be fucked. But the truth was that Dylan had never been with anyone. A few innocent fumbles with Lyssa after a gig, but he never even got hard. She had noticed and smiled gently.
“I’m not gay, Lyssa,” Dylan had insisted, even as his cheeks had never seemed to stop flushing.
She had touched his chin and had said, “The saddest lies are the ones we tell ourselves, Dylan. I’m here if you want to talk. About anything. About nothing.”
After that, he had to admit the truth: he was gay.
Or maybe I'm nothing. How can you be gay if you can't imagine anyone touching you?
Any time a man got close, all he could think about were his father’s beatings. A man touching him meant pain, not pleasure. A man touching him was frightening, not comforting. When he was younger he had longed for a man’s gentle touch, but now he couldn’t imagine such a thing existing. Strange though that he didn’t have a problem with Karidon touching him. He skin seemed to spark underneath the other man’s hand. He did not desire to strike out at him like he had the drunk man and anybody else that tried to get near him in the past.
“There’s no shame in finding that beautiful, Dylan. Or arousing,” Karidon said quietly. His eyes gleamed. His whole face took on an almost angelic cast in the darkness. Karidon was a beautiful man yet no one would ever accuse him of not being masculine enough. Though clearly he had no problem enjoying seeing two men together.
Dylan suddenly envisioned him and Karidon in that room. He imagined how it would feel to have Karidon's hips between this thighs and the crime lord's cock sliding up inside of him while he moaned. His cock jerked hard against the front of his pants. Dylan staggered a few steps away from Karidon, shoulders hunching protectively.
“I want to join my band mates now if that’s okay with you,” Dylan said.
Karidon nodded after a moment. Dylan could feel him filing this instant away. Anyone who ever thinks criminals are stupid should meet him, Dylan thought with a shudder. The man was frighteningly smart. He’s killed people according to the papers. Though they don’t report on it so much anymore. And any cops who ever went up against him aren’t working on the police force anymore either.
"Of course," Karidon said. He gestured for Dylan to walk down the hallway towards a set of stairs that lead down into the backstage area.
Dylan's face was flushed, cock still hard, the spicy scent of the crime lord in his nose, and he wanted to shrink in on himself. He curled his body inwards so that he was as far from Karidon as possible as they walked down the hallway. I can't believe I thought about him that way! The most powerful, frightening man in Daimon's Cross to be attracted to. Dylan flushed harder. I am not attracted to him. I'm not. And he's not attracted to me.
"I hope I didn't make you uncomfortable back there," Karidon said, a smile gracing his sculpted mouth.
"No, you didn't," Dylan lied. His mouth felt dry and his eyes kept skittering over to the muscular and graceful figure of the crime lord.
Karidon's eyes darkened. "I do not care for liars, songbird. Even the white lies are unpleasant to me."
Dylan felt a thrill run through him at being called songbird, but also a trickle of fear at Karidon's obvious disapproval.
"Okay, I'll -- I'll keep that in mind. You didn't make me ... uncomfortable, exactly," Dylan said.
"I see or rather ... I don't. Have you never seen two men together?" Karidon asked.
Dylan shrugged his shoulders. "No."
"I'm surprised," Karidon said, his mouth pursing.
"Why would you say that?" Dylan asked, turning towards him. He could almost hear his father's voice calling him a faggot pretty boy right then.
"Rock and roll is not known for innocence. At least not the dark stuff you write and sing," Karidon said. "I would expect you to have seen everything. But then again."
"Your eyes," Karidon said, grasping Dylan's chin, stopping them both. "You've seen things, perhaps even corrupt things, but you aren't ... aren't spoiled yet. Strange."
The touch of Karidon's warm hand on his skin was electric. Dylan froze and his half-hard cock throbbed. What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me?
But then his self-castigation was forgotten as he heard the chittering.
"Do you hear that?" Dylan asked, his mouth going dry.
"What?" Karidon asked, his thumb slid along the softness of Dylan's jaw.
The boy's head jerked to the side. It was coming from down the hallway. There was another doorway. The air suddenly took on a heavy consistency. It was like the darkness thickened around them.
"Dylan?" Karidon's voice held a note of concern.
"Oh, my god," Dylan breathed as he saw the claw curving around the door frame.