KISS AND MAKEUP
by Shira Anthony
© 2012, Shira Anthony
His slicked fingers glided over the smooth skin and he marveled at the hard muscle beneath. Inch by inch he greased the firm flesh, sliding over peaks and valleys of finely honed abs, into the creases under the pectoral muscles and the deep indentation at the waist. With the grease, the slippery skin caught the light and glittered silver on tan.
“Are you warm enough?” Ted felt suddenly hot in his cotton shirt. Had the air conditioning gone out again?
“I’m good.” The voice was a rich baritone. Warm. Sexy.
“I’m almost done.”
Len let out a slow breath that sounded almost like a sigh, and Ted wondered if the other man felt the same heat. He brushed the thought away.
This is work. Don’t forget that.
Why was it so damn hard to stay focused? He wiped his hands on a towel and studied the slicked chest with satisfaction, then pressed a button on the table to make it pivot at the center until Len was standing upright once again.
“Can I get you something to drink? It’ll be a few hours before you’ll be able to move.”
“Nah, I’m fine. Thanks.”
In his eight years in the business, Ted Aaronson had never been so distracted. He never got distracted. He was the best sci-fi makeup artist around—the go-to guy when the director wanted detail stuff. The most complicated prosthetic work. The cutting-edge designs. But having Len Golden on his table half-naked, his smooth chest the object of his attentions, was almost more than Ted could take.
The guy was stunning. Better in person, Ted thought, than on screen. Reddish-brown hair and deep green eyes, with a strong jaw, high cheekbones, and muscles that wouldn’t quit. Ted imagined what it would be like to unbutton the well-worn jeans and run his hands over the tight globes of Len’s—
“On second thought,” Len said, the tiny lines at the corners of his mouth more visible with his boyish smile, “I think I’d like some water. And maybe I’ll take a leak.”
“Bathrooms are through that door.” Ted gestured to his left. “I’ll get a few bottles. Perrier?”
“Tap is fine.”
Ted nodded and watched Len walk away, watched the perfect ass in the faded Levi’s. He repressed a sigh. Len Golden was the hottest thing to hit the screen in a decade. It didn’t hurt that on top of his to-die-for good looks, the guy could really act.
Ted had met the man ten years before, when they’d both been working summer stock at a theatre in up-state New York. Back then, “Len Golden” was still “Lenny Goldberger,” and Ted was the emo kid nobody looked at twice. Ted remembered Lenny well: a bright-eyed newbie whose only acting credit was a high school production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Len had seemed oblivious to the wide-eyed stares of the actresses and stage crew. He was just a nice guy from Long Island with dreams of singing on Broadway. No talk of Hollywood or of blockbuster action flicks, no Oscar buzz.
Not that Lenny would remember him, thought Ted. Ted Aaronson wasn’t a memorable kind of a guy. At seventeen, he had been the epitome of geekdom, dreaming of a life somewhere beyond the confines of middle-class suburbia. The guy with multiple piercings, the latest of which was a silver bar through his eyebrow. Kohl eyeliner, mesh shirts, tight black jeans, black Converses or army boots.
Ten years later, Ted was the proud recipient of an Oscar nomination for Best Makeup for a big-budget zombie film he’d nearly turned down, and Lenny was the hottest commodity in Hollywood. A “thinking-man’s action hero,” as one of the reviewers had dubbed him. And this new movie just might earn them both an Academy Award.
“Better?” Ted asked as Len sauntered back into the room. He finished the water in the paper cup he was holding and tossed it into the garbage near the makeup table.
“Great. So what’s next?”
“I’ll take a casting of the front of your torso for the body armor. We’ll do your head tomorrow morning and your back in the afternoon, once Tina has the front section ready for me.”
Len nodded and took his place back on the table.
“We’ll start off with you standing up and when the silicone’s set, I’ll tilt the table and do the plaster on top.”
Ted poured equal amounts of the silicone and hardener into a cup, mixing it until it turned a uniform blue. Then with his fingers, he began to slather the mixture in a thin coating over Len’s chest.
“The release cream I rubbed on you will keep your hairs from sticking to the silicone,” Ted explained, eager to keep his mind off the feel of Len’s body. Talking helped calm the errant twitch of his cock. Well, at least a little.
He certainly wasn’t going to be at his best with constant wood. He even considered using a brush to paint the silicone, figuring it might be less of a turn-on. Some of his colleagues preferred brush to fingers, but Ted had always appreciated the sensual, artistic nature of the process. In high school, he had loved to work in clay, and the connection between his fingers and an actor’s skin always reminded him of sculpting classes in college.
No. You do what you always do. You can jack off all you like tonight, back home, but now you’re going to do your job the way you know you need to do it.
“Cold.” Len laughed in a low rumble that made Ted’s jeans feel tighter still. If that was even remotely possible.
“Don’t move,” Ted warned. He didn’t want to spoil the casting, but he also didn’t want the other man to see the bulge at his crotch. He thanked the gods that he hadn’t tucked his shirt inside his pants.
“Sorry.” Len closed his eyes as Ted continued to cover his chest in the paste, making sure to coat the indentation beneath Ted’s Adam’s apple and slightly farther up.
God, but Len’s body was fucking perfect! His chin was rough with stubble and Ted’s cock jumped again at the prospect of shaving that strong jaw tomorrow before he cast the actor’s face for the prosthetics. Ted imagined licking the base of Len’s neck, feathering bites and kisses up and over his jaw.
It was going to be a long three hours.
Three days earlier
Ted sat, listening to the studio handler prattle on. “And of course,” she told Ted’s assistant, Tina, “Mr. Golden will need all his meals brought in from Francine’s Naturals. Bubbly water, maybe some Italian soda—you know, the all-natural fruit juice variety. No sugar. Protein bars. Fresh fruit. Cheese, but not the super fatty French stuff. A good Emmentaler or Gruyère. Whole wheat baguettes.”
Tina nodded, catching Ted’s eye from time to time to roll her eyes in disgust. She was right out of school, damn lucky to have her job, and she knew it. But she also knew Ted had little interest in the Hollywood bullshit, and that he hated this as much as she did.
Ted shot her a look of warning. This gig was huge, and he had no intention of letting Tina screw it up for him. The studio was paying him a fortune to transform its hottest star into an alien commander, but still giving him enough control over the project that he’d be able to showcase his art for a change.
“Oh, and Mr. Aaronson,” the woman—what was her name, Marjorie?—added after pausing only long enough to take a breath, “I’ve spoken to the director, and he’s agreed that the body armor needs to showcase Len’s attributes, if you know what I mean.”
“Of course.” Ted knew exactly what she meant. Far be it from him to hide the muscular body which Lenny Golden had become known for. He could appreciate a thing of beauty as much as the next man—or woman, for that matter.
“…and if they know what’s good for them,” Marjorie droned on as the limo pulled up in front of the makeup area of the studio lot, “they’ll have the food ready to go before you have to sit in that damn chair again. I can’t believe they didn’t have it ready before you started yesterday. I’ll just have to—”
“It’s okay, Margie,” Len interrupted with a yawn. “I’m not that hungry anyhow. I can wait until later.” The limo driver opened the door for them. They had only gotten a few feet from the limo when Len stopped dead in his tracks. “Fuck.”
“What’s the matter, Lenny?” Her look of concern was almost comical.
“Forgot my iPod at the beach house. I was going to listen to some music while the makeup guy cast my face today.”
“The beach house?” She looked horrified. “I could pick you up a new one, if you’d like.”
He sighed. “I’d made up a playlist and everything. It was so goddamn boring the other day….” His voice trailed off and he wore a pained expression.
“It’s not a problem,” she told him. “I’ll have the driver take me back there.”
“Are you sure? That’s going to be three hours roundtrip this time of day, with traffic.”
“Of course I’m sure. That’s my job, right? Making sure you have what you need.”
“You’re a sweetheart,” he said, planting a kiss on her cheek. “I think I left it on the dining room table. The ear buds should be attached.”
“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” she said as she trotted off in the direction of the limo. “Make sure you get yourself something to eat, though. Can’t have you starving all day, can we?”
“I’ll eat. Don’t worry, Margie. I promise.”
He stood for a moment, watching until she climbed back into the limousine and it pulled away. He put his duffle bag down on a nearby bench, unzipped it and reached inside to recover the paper bag he’d hidden beneath his change of clothes. He zipped the bag again and headed toward the door to the makeup area.
“Mr. Golden,” the blond assistant said as she saw him enter, “Teddy’s just finishing up. The food table’s set up over there,” she gestured to the far corner of the large room, “in case you’re hungry.”
“Thanks. It’s Tina, right?” She nodded, looking quite pleased that he’d remembered her name. “If you don’t mind, maybe you can grab me an orange juice?”
“Sure.” She smiled at him as he walked over to the makeup chair.
“Hello,” Len said, catching Ted Aaronson’s eye. Ted smiled up at him and gestured to the seat.
“How does your body feel today?” Ted asked.
Len couldn’t help but notice the slight blush on the other man’s cheeks. “My body feels pretty good, thanks.”
“Oh.” Their eyes met and Ted blushed harder. “I meant, you know, skin rashes or that sort of thing.”
Len chuckled. “No rashes or anything,” he said with a grin.
“Ah… oh… that’s good.” Ted busied himself with some of the bottles as if trying to avoid Len’s gaze.
“Listen,” Len said in a conspiratorial whisper, “I know there’s a huge spread the studio ordered, but I was hoping maybe you’d have a little breakfast with me.”
Ted turned around and stared at Len. “You… what?”
Len smiled and took the paper bag off the table. “I can’t stand the crap they order for me.” When Ted looked confused, Len pulled two bundles out of the bag, each wrapped in white food service paper. “I brought something better.”
“You… you brought breakfast? For me, too?” Ted’s long, dark bangs fell into his eyes and Len fought the urge to brush back the silky hair.
“Yeah.” Len handed him one of the bundles.
Ted hesitated for a split second, then took the offering, his fingers brushing against Len’s. He gasped audibly. “I… thanks… that’s….”
“I hope you like bagels. I found this little place down the street from my beach house that makes them fresh every day. What do they say, ‘You can take me out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of me’?”
Ted unwrapped the sandwich and his mouth parted in obvious surprise. “I love lox,” he said as he lifted the top half of the bagel and peered underneath at the smoked salmon laid over the cream cheese. “Lettuce, tomato, red onion and… they had capers?”
“You don’t like them?”
“Are you kidding? That’s the best.” Ted appeared stunned at the gesture and more than a little embarrassed.
“I think so, too. Back where I grew up, that was the only way we ate them.” Len gazed at Ted as he stared stupidly at the bagel. “Well, are you going to join me? Or are you under a time crunch? I wouldn’t want to—”
“Not at all. We’ve got plenty of time today.” Ted pulled over a chair and took the bagel in his hands as Len unwrapped his own.
“Great.” Len bit into his, then added, with his mouth half full, “Shit. I forgot about the onions. I shouldn’t have ordered them today. You’re going to have me breathing fire on you.”
“Won’t matter if my breath is just as bad, will it?” Ted laughed, and seemed to relax a bit.
“Nah,” Len said with a wicked grin. “It won’t.”
“So it’s pretty much the same deal today as yesterday,” Ted told him half an hour later as he readied the shaving equipment. “I’ll make the cast of your face from the mask and I’ll use that to create the prosthetics.”
“What’s your concept for the look?”
“I’m going for an updated version of some of the old flicks. Something along the lines of The Creature from the Black Lagoon meets Alien vs. Predator. And since your character is an avatar, really, and not actually an alien, I’ve worked in some more… ah… human features.”
Len laughed. “As in my pecs, abs, and ass?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Ted looked a bit hangdog, but Len was unfazed. He knew why he’d gotten as far as he had. “It’s okay to call a duck a duck. I know what my handlers told you.”
“It doesn’t bother you?” Len could tell that Ted hadn’t meant to ask the question, by the pink flush that quickly rose in his cheeks.
“Being treated like a piece of meat?” Len shook his head. “No. I guess it did once.”
But this is where it ends. After this movie, it’s my dog and pony show.
Ted wasn’t sure what to say. He was already sure he’d said too much.
Fucking big mouth Aaronson.
He pulled a straight-edge razor out of a drawer. Carbon steel blade. Amboyna wood burl handle. American manufacture. Ted had purchased the hand-honed beauty a month before, but had never used it. The thousand-dollar price tag was still floating around on his Visa statement. He hadn’t really meantto use the thing at all; he’d just seen it one day on the Web and had been taken by the workmanship, but he couldn’t imagine a better first customer than Lenny Golden.
Or last customer. Ted didn’t think anyone else’s face could ever live up to Len’s.
“Shit.” Len blanched a little in the face of the long blade. Ted decided not to tell Len that the slant-bar style not only gave the best shave, it was sometimes called the “Devil’s razor.”
“Been doing this for ten years,” Ted said in a calm and reassuring voice. “As long as you don’t jump, you’ll live.” Len laughed. “Best shave you’ll ever have. I promise. I’m good.”
Len’s green eyes caught the light and he grinned. “I bet you are.”
Oh, fucking hell! Does this guy have any clue what he’s doing to me? Ted had to believe Len didn’t. Len was straight, right? This was just business.
Ted pulled one of the heated towels from the warmer he’d asked Tina to set up and gently pressed it against Len’s face. This close, Ted couldn’t help but notice the scent of musk and citrus on the other man’s neck. He willed his heart out of his throat.
“I could get used to this.” Len closed his eyes, sighing contentedly.
“The towel opens the pores and softens the hairs. Makes it easier to shave without irritating your skin.” Ted pulled a bottle of pre-shave oil from the drawer and, after lifting off the towel, began to run the oil over Len’s jaw line, cheeks, and upper lip.
“Smells nice.” Len’s voice was a soft murmur.
A fleeting image of Len touching him with well-slicked fingers drifted through Ted’s mind. He forced himself back to the task at hand.
“It’s all natural. You could eat this stuff. I add a few drops of arnica oil to help soothe the skin.” Ted continued to gently massage the oil in, making sure he hadn’t missed any spots. He couldn’t help but feel Len’s body tense as he touched a spot under his chin. “Sorry, did I hurt you?” he asked.
“Hell, no. I’m just a little sensitive there.”
Len’s Zen-like expression was perfect. Ted wondered if that was how the other man looked after orgasm and fought the urge to lick his lips.
“I’m going to lather you up now,” he said, determined not to give in to the pornographic image Len’s face seemed to conjure up. A moment later, he was working the badger hair brush into the cake of shaving soap and covering Len’s face in a smooth, creamy lather.
“Ready?” he asked as he set down the brush and wiped his hands dry. He opened the razor and held it up in a silent question.
Ted steadied himself by placing his left hand on Len’s shoulder and, drawing the blade with the grain of the hair on Len’s jaw, began to work the razor in consistent, easy strokes. Each stroke revealed the smooth skin beneath until none of the lather remained.
Ted held up a mirror for Len to look. “Nice,” Len said, his fingers touching his skin in wide-eyed appreciation. “You were right. Best shave I’ve ever had.”
“You’ll need to do a good rinse in the bathroom. Warm water, not too hot. No soap.”
“Got it.” Len stood up and looked at Ted as his cheeks warmed once more beneath the handsome actor’s gaze.
Len left without another word and Ted leaned against the table to catch his breath. He glanced over at the shaving supplies and realized that he had forgotten to give Len the after-shave balm. He grabbed the tube and walked quickly across the large room to the bathroom.
“I forgot to give you…,” Ted began to say as he opened the door to the bathroom, but his voice trailed off at the sight of Len, shirtless, his face and shoulders damp, the top button of his jeans open and his hand resting against his abdomen. He looked as though he were about to unbutton the next button. The bulge at his crotch was evident.
This time, it was Len’s turn to blush.
“Shit. Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Ted spluttered. He felt as if he’d been transported back to high school. He was the awkward teenager, trying not to scare off the other guys in the communal shower at camp by staring. He was sure Len was going to yell at him, to tell him to take his queer self and jump into the La Brea Tar Pits.
But Len did nothing of the sort. In fact, he did something entirely unexpected. He reached out and ran a single finger across Ted’s lips.
Ted was speechless.
“I’m not wrong about you, am I?” came Len’s voice, thick with lust. It wasn’t really a question, Ted realized. “Because if you don’t want—”
Ted kissed Len. On the lips. Later, he would wonder who the hell had stepped into his body and taken over as his brain liquefied like it had been set upon by one of the aliens he’d created in his studio. Maybe his brain cells had all migrated southward and he was thinking with his cock. Or maybe he’d just reached his breaking point.
The strangest thing, though, was that Len kissed him back.
Oh fucking, fucking hell! It was the last coherent thought Ted had before Len’s full lips parted to admit his insistent tongue.
It was not a pretty thing, the kiss. Their teeth tapped with the force of their lust, but the awkwardness of the contact vanished as their tongues met in a tangle.
Len’s arms were as strong as they appeared. Ted had always preferred his lovers a bit larger than himself, but he’d never been with someone so much taller, and he’d only fantasized about a body this muscled. Without the pretense of his work, his fingers were freed to explore Len’s skin, the pink tips of his nipples, and the planes of his chest and abdomen.
Somewhere in the tangle of arms and lips Len managed to pull Ted’s shirt off. He licked a line down Ted’s chest until his hands came to rest on the button at the fly of Ted’s black jeans. He looked briefly up at Ted, who moaned his assent. It didn’t take long before Ted was completely naked and Len’s lips were skating over his skin, moving downward to claim Ted’s cock.
What was left of Ted’s tenuous sanity fled with the onslaught of Len’s mouth, sucking him down, his large hands finding Ted’s ass and kneading it. His hands cupped the back of Len’s head, his fingers snaking their way through the auburn curls, his fingernails scratching at Len’s scalp and eliciting a low groan from the larger man.
Len’s lips and tongue were a revelation, and Ted was thankful he was leaning against the hard porcelain of the bathroom sink—he wasn’t sure he could still stand on his own. Len nipped at the edges of his tip, pressing his tongue into the slit while rolling Ted’s balls in his left palm.
“Oh… fuck… so fucking good!” Ted had never been much of a talker during sex, but the words tumbled from his lips. His brain kicked in just long enough for him to feel a sudden wave of embarrassment at his lack of control; however, the look of pleasure on Len’s stunning face was all Ted needed to forget about control and just let go.
Len slipped one of his fingers into his mouth as he continued to lick his way up and down Ted’s cock, then ran it back behind Ted’s balls and over the tight ring of muscle there. Ted whimpered as Len pressed just the tip of his finger inside. His balls drew up tight and he gasped, “Oh, shit. I’m going to come.”
Len released him from his mouth and Ted came hard, shooting onto Len’s smooth chest. His body shook with orgasm as he tilted his head back, only to feel Len’s mouth on his neck.
“I want to fuck you,” Len said. “I’ve been wanting to do that forever, and I don’t think I can stand it a second longer.”
“Please, yes,” Ted gasped, eagerly turning himself around to present his ass to Len.
“This stuff okay?” Len asked, showing Ted the tube of after-shave cream and a condom. Ted had completely forgotten about the cream. That’s what he’d come into the bathroom to do—to give Len the cream, right?
“No. Nothing that’ll degrade the latex.”
Shit! He sounded like a complete geek!
Len didn’t seem to care, since the bathroom echoed with his warm chuckle. “’Good enough to eat’?,” he murmured seductively by Ted’s ear, repeating Ted’s words about the shaving oil. “I might try that sometime. But for now….” He spread the cream over his fingers, slid one slippery finger over Ted’s hole, then pressed it inside. It had been months since Ted had been with anyone. Len’s finger felt so good, he just closed his eyes and sucked on his lower lip.
“God, yes.” Ted felt a second finger spread him wider, and this time Len brushed Ted’s prostate. “Oh, fuck, yes,” Ted hissed.
Len licked at Ted’s neck as he worked a third finger in, hitting the sweet spot again and biting Ted’s earlobe when he pressed against his fingers. “You ready for me, baby?” Len rumbled in his ear.
“I was ready for you yesterday,” Ted heard himself say, so far gone now that he didn’t even blush as he said it.
When someone has his fingers up your ass, he reasoned in that fuzzy, distant sort of way you think when your body is screaming to be fucked, you don’t worry that what you’re saying is lame.
Ted heard the foil of the condom packet being ripped open. A moment later, Len pressed against his ass. Len Golden’s big, beautiful cock, pressed against his ass!
Screw the Oscars, Ted thought, this is a thousand times better!
Len didn’t hesitate. He pushed his cock inside of Ted with one long stroke. Ted looked into the mirror to see that perfect face behind him, reassuring himself that this was real—that this gorgeous man wanted him, Theodore Harold Aaronson. He knew it was a one-time thing, that tomorrow they’d be back to their respective roles as action star and makeup guy, but he didn’t care. He’d take this one random instant when both of their paths crossed and he’d remember it for a long, long time to come.
“You feel so good,” Len intoned as he thrust forward again. “So damn good.” His hand found one of Ted’s nipples and rolled it about, his other hand on Ted’s hip to steady himself. In between each movement, Len nipped playfully at Ted’s shoulders and back, tasting him. “You don’t know how much I’ve wanted to do this.”
Ted heard the words, but he didn’t really believe them. It was nice to hear, though.
He hissed as Len squeezed his nipples harder, pausing for a split second between movements as if he were making sure that Ted was still enjoying himself. Each time, Len’s breath was in his ear, sending shivers down his spine.
“I don’t think I can hold back anymore,” Len warned. By now, Ted was holding on to the sink for dear life and his cock was rock hard again. “Come with me, baby. Touch yourself.”
Len shuddered as he came. It only took Ted a few strokes and he was coming, too. Both of them were panting, their bodies a sweaty, sticky tangle. Len grabbed Ted around the chest and drew him closer, holding him as his body continued to shake.
“God, Ted. That was fucking amazing.” He turned Ted’s head and kissed him on the cheek, his fingers combing Ted’s hair, his breath tickling Ted’s neck. “So incredible. I can’t believe I found—”
“Oh, shit. That’s Margie.” They both froze.
“Assistant. And an all-around pain in the—”
“Lenny? Lenny! Jeez, you’d think there would be someone around this place.”
The two of them parted abruptly. Ted’s brain screamed that they couldn’t let her find them like this. It could ruin both of their careers. Sure, just about the entire industry knew that Ted was gay, but to be caught red-handed in such an unprofessional position…. And Len… Ted didn’t even want to think about what might happen to Len’s career if this got out. Sure, Marjorie was his assistant, but anyone could be bought for enough money. And this would make one hell of a good story for some gossip rag.
“I remember her.” Ted tried not to make a face as he wiped himself clean with a paper towel and pulled his pants back on. Len tossed the used condom into the toilet and scrambled back into his clothes.
“She has that effect on people. I sent her back to the beach condo to pick up my iPod.” Ted looked confused, but Len just grinned and added, “I left it on purpose. I was hoping to have some time alone with you.” He pulled Ted into the stall and kissed him.
Ted wasn’t at all sure how to take this—he knew Len shouldn’t be so careless, especially over something like a one-time bathroom fuck—but there wasn’t much time to think about it. A minute later, Len was walking out of the bathroom. “Sorry, Margie. Ted and I were taking a break,” he heard Len say.
Ted pulled his shirt back on and did his best to fix his hair with his fingers. That’s when he noticed the tube of aftershave sitting on the edge of the sink. Len had never gotten around to putting the stuff on his face.
The next two weeks were spent working on the prosthetics for Len’s alien alter-ego. Ted didn’t need Len to be physically present to do any of the work, so life returned to normal. Or relatively normal—it was hard for Ted to forget about Len, especially since every minute of every day was filled with visions of him either wearing the makeup Ted was slaving over, or of Len’s cock filling his ass.
By the end of the first week, the once-empty building in which Ted had been working was filled with a dozen other makeup artists and assistants, all of them under Ted’s direction. There was hardly enough time to sleep, let alone think about what had happened with Len in the bathroom.
Filming began on a Monday, following a particularly long weekend spent making the last-minute changes that the director had requested. Nearly two dozen makeup stations were lined up on one side of the building, along with several private makeup and costuming areas for the film’s stars.
Ted had gotten about three hours of sleep the night before, but he didn’t mind. He loved this part of the process. By the time he’d showered and ridden the elevator down from the small studio office where he’d spent the night on a cot, he was on his third cup of coffee and flying high on a caffeine buzz. There’d be plenty of food around—catering was already setting up a large spread near the main entrance. He’d grab something later, after he’d done the preliminary work on Len.
Tina was already working. She corralled two of Ted’s other employees to prepare the workstations and had posted a large schedule on the wall so that the actors would be ready by the time the director planned to shoot their scenes.
First up, of course, was Len. His makeup was the most complicated. Ted had done a mockup of the actor’s makeup on Len’s stand-in over the weekend. Even with Ted’s practiced hand, it would take four hours to transform Len into the alien warlord. Ted wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He wanted to see Len again, but they hadn’t spoken since that day in the bathroom, either.
You could have called him. It wasn’t the first time he’d had this thought, but reading about the gorgeous women Len was rumored to be dating in the gossip columns hadn’t exactly given Ted any confidence, either.
“Sure wish I was Shari Lane,” Tina had sighed when she told Ted about the latest supermodel spotted at Len’s side. “I could get used to hanging on that guy’s big, muscled arm.” From the lust-filled expression on her face, Ted doubted she was really thinking about Len’s arm.
By the time Len showed up for his 6:00 a.m. call, lack of food and too much caffeine had made Ted a nervous wreck.
“Hey, Ted.” Len’s voice was bright and cheery. If the early makeup call had bothered him, he hid it well.
“Hi.” Ted didn’t meet Len’s gaze, instead rummaging through a few of the makeup drawers and pretending to arrange them. They didn’t need rearranging. Everything was perfect. Ted had checked them a half-dozen times while he’d waited for Len.
“Brought you breakfast,” Len said. Ted finally looked up at Len, who was holding out a white paper bag. “Extra capers and a slice of lemon.”
Ted’s heart thudded so loudly against his ribs that he was sure Len could hear it. “Thanks,” was all he managed to say as he took the bag.
“I already ate mine on the way over. I figured you’d be on a pretty tight schedule and my chewing might slow you down. Maybe tomorrow I can come a few minutes earlier and we can eat breakfast together.”
Did he just say that? Ted put the paper sack down on the table and wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans. This day was going to be exceptionally difficult if he didn’t get his shit together!
“I… I’d like that,” he stammered.
Len’s smile was perfect. Everything about the man is perfect, Ted reminded himself as he pulled out the bagel and took a quick bite.
“I tried to call you last week,” Len said as Ted chewed, “but you never called me back.”
Ted choked. Len was out of the seat the next moment, patting him on the back. “You okay, Ted?”
His eyes watery and his face red from coughing, Ted could only nod.
“Sorry,” Len said with a shamefaced expression, “I should have known you wouldn’t want me to call you.”
“What?” Ted’s voice was hoarse as he stared at Len in shock.
How could he even think I wouldn’t want him to call?
“It’s just that I hoped, after… well…,” he paused and grinned sheepishly, “after the other day, that you and I might—”
“You really called me?”
For a moment, Len looked as though he didn’t understand Ted’s words. Finally, he said, “I… well, yeah. I sort of bribed your assistant to give me your number. Tina?”
Ted’s brain, which had for the past ten minutes been frozen in an angst-ridden wasteland, finally cleared. “Shit. I mean… what number did she give you?”
Len supplied the number and Ted finally understood. “That’s my home phone number,” he told Len, who looked entirely confused.
“Sorry,” Ted said as he gathered himself. “I haven’t checked my messages there recently. I stayed in Hollywood for the final push before filming—I’ve got a little cubby-hole upstairs with a cot. It’s just too time-consuming to drive all the way to Long Beach and back. As it is, I’ve only been getting about four hours of sleep a night.”
“Oh.” Len’s expression was full of hope. “So, does that mean we can do something together? Maybe you can join me for dinner at my beach house tonight, after filming? Unless you think you’ll be here too late, of course.”
“No. I mean, yes, I’d really like that. My assistant can clean up after filming. It’s only the prep work that keeps me here late.” Had he just said he’d go on a date with Lenny Golden? Had Lenny just asked him out?
Len smiled again. “Great. My driver can bring you back afterward, if you need to come back here.”
Ted was pretty sure he wouldn’t be coming back that night. Or at least, he sure as hell hoped he wouldn’t be sleeping on the cot.
They set the table on the deck of Len’s oceanfront cottage, a modest, two-bedroom Cape Cod. Ted had expected an enormous glass and concrete monstrosity, but was pleasantly surprised to discover the tiny home with its gray shingles and white shutters hidden amongst the dunes. He had instantly fallen in love with the place, with its comfortable furnishings and lived-in, cozy feel. It reminded him of his home on Long Island.
Dinner had been a simple meal of grilled steaks, salad, and potatoes that Len had cooked himself. Although they had finished eating nearly an hour before, they continued to talk over a second bottle of a full-bodied Sonoma pinot noir. Between the wine and the soft rumble of the surf, Ted found it easy to relax, making the conversation comfortable and unhurried. Ted found Len surprisingly down to earth and charming, with a laid-back sense of humor and a sharp wit. For the first time, Ted forgot about who Len was and just enjoyed the other man’s company.
Len stood up and walked around the table to pour Ted another glass of wine, finishing the second bottle before setting in down. Ted shivered at the realization that Len was standing behind him.
“Thanks,” Ted said.
“You’re welcome. I can open another, if you’d like.”
“I wasn’t talking about the wine. I wanted to thank you for this.” Ted hesitated. “For dinner.”
Why did he always feel so awkward around Len? It wasn’t as though he hadn’t ever talked to celebrities before. Most of them, he’d be happy never to talk to again. No, he decided, it wasn’t Len’s celebrity that made him so ill at ease—it was Len himself.
He seems so… real.
Part of Ted knew that’s what actors did—make people believe things about them that were simply fantasy. But there was something different about Len, and Ted knew his instincts were good. Why didn’t he trust himself?
He felt Len’s lips on his skin at the juncture of where his shoulder met his neck. He shivered. All during dinner, he’d managed to ignore the low thrum of desire that Len had aroused in him. But after three glasses of wine and a delicious meal, his self-control was just about gone and the thought of sex with Len buzzed in his brain. He shifted in his seat to accommodate his hardening cock.
“Come upstairs?” Len asked as he licked a line up to Ted’s ear.
As if he’d say no! The bathroom had been hot, maybe the hottest sex Ted had ever had. Okay, it waswithout doubt the hottest sex he’d ever had. But the thought of taking it slowly, of exploring Len’s amazing body, of Len’s lips and tongue exploring his body… that was so much hotter.
He took the hand Len offered him and they climbed the stairs of the cottage. Ted couldn’t help but notice the small watercolor paintings on either side of the staircase: paintings of the ocean and the shore.
“These are lovely,” Ted said as he stopped for a moment to admire the art. “Where did you find them?”
“My mom painted them. That’s Port Jefferson Harbor, not far from my house. And this one,” he gestured to a harbor view with a hundred tiny sailboats, “that was a regatta my dad sailed in.”
“I’ve never been on a boat.” Ted was almost ashamed to admit it since he’d grown up about twenty minutes from the ocean.
“I’d love to take you sailing. I’ve got a small sailboat I keep a few miles down the road. I haven’t used it much, though.”
“Nah. I just haven’t found anyone I’ve wanted to sail her with.”
Len pinned Ted against the wall and nipped at his ear, then slipped his tongue between his lips. Ted moaned.
“Come on,” Len grinned as he put his arm around Ted’s waist and guided him up to the bedroom.
“Nice,” Ted said appreciatively as Len flicked on the light.
The bedroom was, like most of the cottage, simply decorated in the muted greens and blues of the ocean. The king size bed took up most of the space, but French doors led out onto a small balcony overlooking the beach. The drapes and the doors were open at the moment, allowing a cool breeze to blow in, bringing with it the scent of the salt spray.
Len sat down on the hand-stitched modern quilt that covered the bed, and patted the spot next to him. Ted exhaled slowly before joining Len there.
“I love this place,” Ted said. “It’s so… peaceful.”
“Thanks. I decorated it myself.” Len must have seen Ted’s surprise, because he added, “I used a decorator for my LA apartment. I hate that place, but I didn’t want the press coming here for interviews and stuff. Only my agent and Margie know about this cottage.” Len put an arm around Ted’s shoulder and leaned in to him. “I’m really glad you came tonight.”
“I am, too.”
Len’s expression was hard to read as his hands reached for the top button of Ted’s shirt. Ted couldn’t help but close his eyes while Len’s fingers brushed his skin every time he undid a button to reveal an inch or so more of it. When he had finished, Len pushed Ted gently back onto the bed, kissing his abdomen and rolling Ted’s nipples around in his fingers.
“Good?” he asked. Ted could only nod. “I know not every guy likes that.”
Len pulled his t-shirt off, inviting Ted to reach out and touch his satiny skin. He lay down on his side and this time it was Ted who pushed Len onto his back, straddling him.
Ted ghosted his fingers over the actor’s skin. Without the release cream or the putty, it felt different. Smooth to the touch. The contrast of wonderful softness over solid muscle was a thing of beauty. It made Ted long for his clay once more; he could imagine sculpting this man’s body, recreating the memory of this touch.
He unbuttoned Len’s jeans. As tempting as it was just to admire the pure physical beauty of his torso, Ted needed to see all of Len’s body. He had only caught glimpses of Len’s cock in the bathroom and he wanted to touch it, taste it, revel in it.
It only took a few seconds for him to pull Len’s jeans and boxers down. Len kicked them off without looking away and Ted realized that the other man wanted to see his reaction—that he needed Ted’s approval.
How could he even think I wouldn’t want him? And yet it was there in Len’s eyes.
Len’s cock was long and graceful. Cut. Of course it would be, Ted thought with a smile. No self-respecting Long Island Jewish boy would be uncircumcised.
The reminder of his past made Ted hesitate, his insecurities resurfacing now that the warm glow of the wine had begun to wear off. He felt so inadequate, faced with the beauty of this man.
Len’s voice brought Ted back to the present with a jolt and he realized that his silence might be misconstrued.
“Everything’s wonderful,” he said through his fear. “You… it’s… you’re beautiful.”
With these words, Len’s face relaxed. “Thanks,” was all he said.
Len reached beneath the pillow and grinned. He pulled out a condom and a bottle, holding them up to Ted. “I was lonely,” he explained in a husky voice, “and I hoped that maybe the next time, you’d be here with me.”
With these words, Ted grinned outright and all of his remaining insecurities evaporated. He took the lube and condom and set them down, stepping off the bed.
“Where are you go—?” Len began, stopping short as Ted let his shirt drop to the floor.
You can do this, Ted reminded himself as he reached down to unbutton his jeans. Len propped himself up on the pillows and watched in eager anticipation as Ted unzipped the fly and pushed the jeans over his hips.
“You’re beautiful, Teddy.” The words took Ted by surprise. Lenny Golden thought he was beautiful? “I mean it.”
Ted took a deep breath and pulled his boxers down. He heard Len’s sharp intake of breath, but before Ted could melt into a huge puddle of embarrassment, Len was there, standing in front of him.
“God,” Len said as his hands explored Ted’s naked body, “you have no idea how much you turn me on, do you?”
Ted was speechless as Len continued to walk around him, his fingertips lovingly caressing his skin. Ted was dizzy with the touch.
“Your skin’s so soft,” Len continued, undaunted. “I love how pale it is.” His hands continued to explore Ted’s body, moving upward to thread their way through Ted’s hair. “I love how your hair is so soft. The way it falls into your eyes when you’re working.”
Ted could barely breathe. Was Len saying these things about him?
“I know you don’t believe me, Teddy. So let me show you.” Len took his hands and backed up until his thighs touched the edge of the bed, then pulled Ted on top of him. He reached for the condom and rolled it over his cock.
Silently, Ted poured the lube onto his hands and warmed it between his palms, then slicked Len up. He didn’t look away this time. He fisted Len as he pressed a slippery finger inside of himself, watching Len’s eyes widen with pleasure.
“Oh, fuck. You’re making me crazy. I want to be inside of you. I want to see your face when you come.”
Ted eased himself onto Len. He took his time and just savored the look of bliss on the other man’s face as he rode him, one hand pressed against the muscled chest as he moved up and down. Len took Ted’s erection in his slicked hand, mimicking Ted’s movements with deliberation, running his thumb over the tip of Ted’s cock until he cried out his release. Len followed a minute later, his face as serene as Ted had imagined it might be.
“Yes. Oh, hell yes!” Len drew Ted against him, engulfing him, kissing his hair and his face. Ted had never felt anything quite like it before, and it frightened him. He felt small in Len’s grasp, but he felt safe there as well. He didn’t need to think much to know that he was falling for Len. Or maybe he had already fallen.
Later, Ted lay in the semi-darkness with his head on Len’s chest.
“Tired?” Len asked.
“Yes. But I’m not sleepy.” It was hard to think about sleep with Len this close.
“Would you stay the night?”
Ted leaned up on an elbow and gazed down at the handsome man. “You want me to?”
Len kissed him. “I’ve wanted this for a long time.”
“You’ve only known me a few weeks,” Ted quipped with a sly grin.
“That’s not true. We met a long time ago. In New York.”
“You… You remember that?”
Len grabbed Ted and pulled him back down against him. “You didn’t think I remembered?”
“I… well… I… no.”
Ted could feel the vibrations of warm laughter running through Len’s chest. “I knew who you were the minute I saw you at the studio.”
“Really? I didn’t think you’d ever noticed me back then.”
“I noticed you. More than that. I think I had about a dozen wet dreams about you that summer.”
“Nope. I remembered you. Those funky boots you used to wear. The mesh shirts. The piercings. The nipple rings… Shit, you have no idea what you did to me.”
“Why didn’t you say something? Back then, I mean? I didn’t think you knew I was alive.” Ted was stunned, still unbelieving.
“I was nineteen and I was just figuring out I was gay. I didn’t know what to think. I was avoiding you.”
“You were avoiding me?” Ted was sitting up now, his mouth slightly open.
“I guess I was a good actor, even back then.” Len’s expression was wistful. He took a long breath and exhaled softly. “I’ve had to be. And I’ve done things I’m not very proud of. I kept telling myself it was for my career.”
“Hollywood isn’t exactly breaking down the doors looking for gay actors,” Ted agreed. “I’m lucky. Nobody cares if the makeup guy is queer.”
Len snorted. “They’d probably worry if he wasn’t.”
“So the supermodel you were with in the photograph…?”
“My agent’s idea. But it’s just show—at least it is now. I stopped sleeping with them a few years ago. I felt like a real shit, using them like that. I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
Ted swallowed hard. He was pretty sure it wasn’t just “using” the women, as Len had put it, which made the guy feel like shit. The pain he saw in Len’s eyes was no act. He bent down over Len and brushed his lips over his jaw, then kissed him.
“So,” Len said as he pulled Ted into his arms and rolled over so they lay on their sides. “You never answered my question. Will you stay the night?”
Ted’s whispered “Yes” was lost as he kissed Len again.
Thirteen months later
Ted yanked on the stiff collar of his tux and shifted on his feet. The reporters had left—thank God!—and he was standing backstage, waiting. He’d been waiting for a good hour now, hoping that someone would tell him what he was supposed to do, but every time he asked, they just shrugged and disappeared in the chaos. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to go back to his seat.
Probably not, he thought, lifting the bronze statuette and staring at it. He’d never seen anyone sitting in the middle of the audience holding an Oscar in their hand when he’d watched the Academy Awards as a kid.
A few minutes later, there was a flurry of movement from the doorway to the small room. “Teddeeeeee!” Tina shouted, throwing her arms around him and kissing him on the cheek. “We did it!”
He wasn’t going to remind her that it was his makeup design that had won them the Oscar.
Let her enjoy it. She certainly helped make it possible.
“So what now?” she asked when he didn’t say anything.
“No clue. I guess we just hang out backstage and see who the other winners are?”
They made it as far as a large room with a huge flat-screen TV, not far from the stage. Too late, it seemed, to catch the Best Actor announcement.
“Oh, no,” Tina cried out. “We missed it!”
Several of the room’s occupants turned and glared at them. Ted took Tina by the hand and led her out into the hallway, a few yards away from the place where the winners were taken for photographs and press interviews. A large crowd had already gathered there, but Tina pulled him toward it, elbowing their way through until they were standing only a few rows back from the object of the press’s interest. There was no mistaking the auburn hair, even over someone else’s head.
Ted had hoped and prayed for this. He knew how hard Len had worked on the film and he’d seen how incredible the man was. He was so relieved that Len’s fellow actors had seen it, too.
Tina dragged him forward, pushing a few people out of the way to get to the front of the crowd.
“Congratulations,” Ted mouthed when he caught Len’s eyes.
Those beautiful eyes! In the six weeks they’d been living together at Len’s beach house since Len had returned from shooting a new film in South America, Ted still hadn’t gotten used to waking up to those eyes looking back at him. Even now, he felt his body respond.
“Tina,” he said into her ear, “we really should go.” He and Len had gone to such lengths to avoid the media scrutiny, and he was hardly about to blow Len’s cover now when he’d finally been recognized for the outstanding actor he was.
“No,” she said, her expression suddenly serious. “Stay here. You need to stay here.”
Ted was about to protest again when he caught her exchanging a nod with Len. “Tina, I really think—,” he began, but before he could finish speaking, Len had walked over to him.
“Ready to make some headlines?” Len asked in a low voice that only Ted could hear.
“I… what?” Ted looked to Tina for help, but she only grinned back at him. “Len, what’s going on?”
Len’s answer was to take Ted into his arms and kiss him. Not a friendly peck on the cheek, not even a brief kiss on the lips, but the kind of kiss that he’d seen Len use on his leading ladies. The kind of kiss that went right to Ted’s toes and made them curl with lust. The kind of kiss that—
“Mr. Golden! Mr. Golden!” The reporters all seemed to shout at once. Ted’s brain hadn’t kicked back in again but Len, always the professional, just smiled broadly for them.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Len said as he put his arm around Ted and began to walk toward the dressing rooms, “I have a little celebrating to do. I promise you, I’ll give you the entire story. But not tonight.” He kissed the stunned Ted once again, then took the statuette in Ted’s hand and the one in his own and handed them to Tina, before leading Ted into his room and locking the door behind them.
“What… I mean, when… shit, Lenny, you planned this thing all along, didn’t you?”
The mischievous grin on Len’s face was all the answer Ted needed.
“I told you, Teddy. I’ve had enough of the bullshit. I’d hoped it would turn out this way, but when I met you, I decided I was going to do it even if I didn’t win.”
“And Tina?” Ted put his hands on his hips and scowled.
“Well, I did ask her if she thought you’d be okay with it.”
“And you believed her?”
Len’s face was suddenly tense. “It is, isn’t it? Okay? I mean, you’re out, we’re together, and—”
Ted kissed Len. “Yes. You big idiot! Of course I’m okay with it. It’s just that… I don’t know… I never thought….”
“Oh, shit. I’m so sorry, baby. I thought this was what you want—”
“You’re damn straight it’s what I wanted!” Len looked taken aback with the force of Ted’s reaction. “Of course I’d wanted this. I have no idea why you’d want me, but hell, I’m not an idiot.”
This time, it was Len’s eyes that misted over with emotion. He pulled Ted against him and he melted into those powerful arms, his head resting against Len’s broad chest.
“Teddy,” Len said as his voice broke, “haven’t you figured it out yet? I love you. You. Teddy Aaronson. The guy who thinks he’s a geek, but is the sexiest man I’ve ever met. The guy who just won a fucking Oscar because he’s the best! I love you. Me. Lenny Goldberger. North Shore born and raised. I love you, Teddy.”
“I haven’t changed,” Len continued, holding Ted’s arms so that he had no choice but to look his lover in the eyes. “I’m still the nebbishy kid who used to get beaten up at school. The kid who wouldn’t have made it through high school if it hadn’t been for Mr. Pintzky, the drama teacher. The kid you knew from summer stock who was too shy to talk to you all those years ago. The fuckup who finally figured out what he was good at. It’s me, Teddy! I’m still here. And I want you. More than you know. And even if you don’t love me back it’s okay, because I can wait as long as you want and—”
“I love you, Lenny.” He closed his eyes as Ted pulled him closer. “But what you did tonight….”
“It may lose me some jobs,” Len admitted. “But most of the people knocking on my door… they’ll be there tomorrow. You’ll be there tomorrow, won’t you?”
Ted sniffed. “Damn you! Yes, of course. You’re making me cry. I never cry!”
“Well, are you ready to go partying, then, baby?”
“Are you serious?” Ted pulled away from Len and looked at him as if he’d lost his mind.
“Entirely. Time for the world to meet the real Len Golden and his wonderful partner.”
Ted wanted to protest, but it was no use when Len smiled at him like that.
“Okay.” Ted imagined the press descending like piranhas, looking at him like he was dinner.
“It’ll be fine. I’ll be with you every step of the way,” Len said. “Let me handle this. You just stay close and I promise you’ll be fine. I love you, remember?”
And what, thought Ted with a wry shake of his head, can you possibly say to that? Except: “Cut. Print. That’s a wrap!”