With a theatrical groan, the big man drove into the smaller one, holding onto his hips, raising his feet slightly off the floor, pounding into him relentlessly. In seconds, the younger man was coming, legs flailing as he was lifted, screaming from the pleasure ignited by the hard cock stroking across his prostate, writhing in the bigger man's clasp. His come fell on the Oriental rug as he arched, reaching behind his lover to grasp the canopy rail of the four-poster bed.
"Cut! CUT! Hell, Eddie, you're not supposed to come that fast! Can't you do anything right?" The director was positively incensed, yelling at the hapless young man, soon-to-be-ex-porn star if he couldn't control his orgasms.
"Give him a break, Jolly. It's a natural reaction." The big man stopped thrusting but continued to hold his co-star as his still erect cock slipped out of the younger man's ass, his embrace helping 'Eager Eddie' remain standing as he shuddered.
Jolly angrily pointed his toothpick at his stars, growling as he snapped, "A natural reaction doesn't keep the seats filled, Quinn! There's no time to stroke themselves off with Mr. Firecracker here."
"What?" Peter Jolly rounded on the cameraman, a slender young man crouching on the floor, the heavy camera on one shoulder to get a maximum close-up on the action.
"If I may make a suggestion?"
The make-up lady took advantage of the distraction to dart forward, patting at the sweat on Eddie's face, fussing at his wavy, black hair, doing similar duty to Quinn's long, brown hair. Both men ignored her presence, accustomed to the occasional touch-ups, more interested in the drama unfolding behind the camera. Eddie because he appreciated the reprieve; Quinn was always interested in those courageous or foolish enough to interrupt Peter Jolly when he was directing.
"So polite, Mr. Lawson. Certainly you may make a suggestion. Don't I need every fresh-faced pup in Hollywood telling me how to run my business?"
"Listen to the kid, Jolly. Eddie needs time to recuperate anyway."
"He wouldn't if you hadn't set him off so fast." With no break in the flow of his words, Jolly swung his attention from The Mighty Quinn, his most famous star, to the newest acquisition to his technical crew. "Fine. What?"
"Actually, I was going to suggest we don't give Mr. Eager time to recover. Mr. Quinn - ah, appears ready to go, and if he's unaroused, Mr. Eager will last longer. I'm sure I can film it so the editor can cut together the two takes with a few dissolves to make a seamless visual."
"Hmmm." Jolly crunched on the end of his toothpick, an item never far from his hand since he started his umpteenth attempt at giving up smoking. "Sounds good. Quinn, whenever you're ready, Bennie-boy will roll."
"I'm ready," Quinn replied, his erection not diminished by the conversation. The sobriquet of "Mighty" was totally justified in Quinn's case. Using his fingers, he stretched Eddie's opening, inserting his cock as the clapper rushed forward, snapped the board, and shouted, "Scene five, take two!"
When the day's shooting wrapped, Benjamin Lawson began storing the equipment meticulously away, ready for easy access in the morning. Filming started early, and Benjamin wanted to be prepared, determined to make himself trusted and valued on the set. The equipment wasn't completely substandard, but it certainly makeshift, a hodge-podge of different brands bought at the cheapest price possible. Spending money on first-rate equipment wasn't a wise investment in Jolly's eyes. In fact, from what Benjamin had seen, he doubted spending money on anything but himself was a high priority for Peter Jolly, porn-mogul extraordinaire.
"Thank you." The soft words might have made another man jump, but Benjamin was always sensitive to his surroundings, and had heard Quinn's quiet approach. For such a big man, the porn star moved gracefully, resembling a stalking lion on the prowl, his long brown mane and bronze silk kimono adding to the feline impression.
"Your intercession on Eddie's behalf. The kid didn't need Jolly yelling at him."
"If I may be honest, Mr. Eager doesn’t appear suited for this business."
"Very few people are, Mr. Lawson. It's a profession with stringent demands." At Benjamin's sideways glance, he added, "You want to say I don't appear suited either."
"Certainly, in your physical attributes, it -- fits you perfectly. But your personality… you appear -- too noble, Mr. Quinn. Too dignified to be the famous Irish stud. And quite frankly, too caring." Ben felt a faint flush on his cheeks, feeling silly as he offered the compliment, but driven by curiosity. Quinn's reputation for demanding a drug-free set and good working conditions for both cast and crew was a rarity in the adult movie business. His consideration and patience throughout the day validated his reputation, leaving Ben wondering how someone like Quinn ended up fucking people for a living.
"Appearances can be deceiving, Mr. Lawson," Quinn answered cryptically. "And we all make our own deals with the devil." Cupping Benjamin's face with one hand, he added, "Let me give you one piece of advice. Stay behind the camera."
Benjamin couldn't prevent a small bark of laughter at warning. "Oh, I doubt anyone wants me in front of one, Mr. Quinn."
"You have a lot to learn, Benjamin. You'd be surprised at what people want in this world. For instance, I'd like you to come to dinner tonight."
Totally thrown by the abrupt suggestion, Benjamin could only parrot, "Dinner?"
"Dinner. 6:30 at my house, 1750 Walker Way. You'll be there?"
"Yes, I guess so," Benjamin replied, feeling as if he'd stepped through the looking glass into Wonderland.
"Good. I'll see you then." Dropping his hand to release Ben's face, The Mighty Quinn turned around and strolled out, leaving a bemused Ben staring after him.
Shaking himself, Ben focused on the task at hand, tucking the microphones back in their protective case. He realized he was looking forward to tonight with anticipation. Quinn was an attractive, handsome man, the distinguished features mirroring his inborn dignity, an attitude that won through even in this seedy environment. Getting to know him would be exciting.
But why had Quinn invited him? Did he view Ben as some pathetic newbie who needed an entire dinner to absorb a warning lecture about the danger of this lifestyle? Could a mere cameraman intrigue a star accustomed to the adoration of lusting hordes? Was Quinn actually romantically interested in Ben?
Or had Ben already blown his cover?
Did Quinn realize he was a private detective?
The steady chopping of vegetables calmed Quinn. He always enjoyed working with his hands, being close and connected to something more solid and substantial than the artificial glitter of Hollywood's seamy side. Tonight, cooking preparations were helping him soothe his troubled thoughts.
Why the hell had he done that? Invited a total stranger to his house? Not, Quinn mused, that total strangers weren't a common feature of his life. He'd fucked more strangers than he'd cared to remember in the last 15 years, all while being immortalized on film for posterity and profit. But his house had always been inviolate, his peaceful temple away from the excesses of his unintended profession.
And now Ben would enter, the first stranger in years to see the private side of John Francis Quinn.
Quinn snorted to himself at his wild fancies. What did furniture and carpeting matter? His dreams and heart were still his own, regardless of what Benjamin might decipher from his interior decorating.
The young man was definitely special, with his charming smile, handsome face, trim body, and friendly yet polite British style. Jolly had seen it too, Quinn could tell from the twirling dollar signs calculating in his beady eyes. Ben hadn't taken his warning seriously, but then the young always had too much confidence and not enough self-awareness. Or maybe too little confidence to judge themselves critically. Quinn could speak from experience - his own particular brand of naivety and arrogance had changed him permanently from humble carpenter to porn stud, king of both rough and gentle sex, the powerful top willing to take on all comers. And keep them coming again and again.
The doorbell rang, and Quinn took a moment to observe the state of his preparations. Meat sliced and marinated, rice cooking, table set, wine picked out, vegetables partially chopped for stir frying. A light meal but a good one. Quinn was extremely conscious of his diet, walking the fine line between needing to keep his strength up and his abs rock-hard and perfectly defined.
He hoped Ben would enjoy the dinner. A pleasant meal, genial conversation, a firm warning and maybe…
Maybe just a kiss or two.
Ben bounced nervously on the balls of his feet as he waited for the door to be answered. The habit both relaxed and prepared him for what was to come. He hoped the jeans and plain black shirt that he had worn to work would be appropriate, but there hadn't been time to swing by his apartment between leaving the studio and needing to arrive at Quinn's.
He stopped bouncing as the door swung open, pasting a friendly smile on his face. On the set, wearing black silk breeches or his birthday suit and a raging erection, Quinn was impressive and intimidating. Dressed in faded blue jeans hugging his hips and long legs, a brown shirt and sneakers, Quinn was even more so, casual and powerful.
"Hello. I'm glad you could come." Quinn ushered Ben in, and Ben made a polite reply while carefully scrutinizing his surroundings. The house fit his expectations, revealing Quinn's true character, not his movie star persona. With lots of open space, earth tones and plants, the house was welcoming, comfortable, and elegant. The living room looked designed for curling up with a good book, not impressing an interviewer.
Chatting about traffic, the perpetual topic of conversation for southern Californians, they walked down the hallway to the kitchen, where Ben propped himself on a bar stool while Quinn poured them glasses of wine, then deftly finished chopping vegetables and began stir frying. Trying to divert his attention from the grace of Quinn's competent, powerful hands, Ben studied the surroundings, complimenting, "Beautiful cabinets. Where did you get them made?"
"I made them."
"I was a carpenter before I - switched professions. I gutted this house after I bought it and completely rebuilt it. It gives me a sense of satisfaction, to build something solid, something tangible and lasting."
Ben whistled as he stroked the oak, admiring the perfection of the smooth grain and the workmanship. "These are beautiful. You could make a fortune doing this."
"Not quite. Not like the money I get from 'acting'." The derisive tone added invisible quotes around the last word.
"Is that why you went into this business? Money?"
"I would prefer not to talk about work," Quinn responded flatly, his tone signaling that the door to this conversation was closed, locked, and bolted shut.
Ben acquiesced with an easy, "Very well," even though his curiosity was running feverishly high for both professional and personal reasons. Quinn had been involved in this business for at least a decade; it stood to reason that he would know information helpful to Ben's assignment. And as a man, Ben found Quinn attractive and compelling, and the idea of pursuing a relationship with him was both tantalizing and unsettling. What would it be like, being involved with someone who had shared himself with dozens of others? Could Ben ever measure up? Did he even want to try? Or would the possible comparisons make him too uncomfortable? Pushing the spiraling thoughts aside, Ben sought a more neutral topic, asking flippantly, "So how about that mayoral race?"
A thoughtful approach to politics was only the beginning of their similarities revealed by the easy-flowing conversation over dinner. Both were intelligent, analytical, and determined. Quinn was more of a maverick personality while Ben appreciated a certain amount of by-the-book structure, but both had the courage of their convictions as well as a mind open to new input. They enjoyed sports more as participants than watchers, dogs over cats, and good beer.
Quinn sipped the last of his wine, considering Ben over the edge of his crystal goblet as they lounged on the deck, appreciating the sunset. While Ben might claim he enjoyed a long walk with an energetic Labrador, there was something very feline about him, with the shape of his eyes, the grace of his movements, and the slinkiness of his walk. Feline and compelling, like the soft pelt of a cat just begging to be stroked. And Quinn was very tempted to make this kitty purr.
Setting down his glass, he noticed the lateness of the hour. Talking had proved so relaxing, time had flown by. "You'd better go," he said regretfully.
"Yes," Ben agreed with obvious reluctance, "filming does start early."
"At least the days aren't quite as long as on regular movies. There's a limit to even my stamina."
As they stood, Quinn caught Ben's eyes flicking to his groin, the teasing comment about Quinn's stamina bringing a sexual heat to the atmosphere. Taking two steps forward, Quinn placed his hands on Ben's slim waist, sliding them without haste to the small of Ben's back, his fingertips just resting on the swell of firm buttocks.
Ben's breathing altered subtly in response, deepening and slowing as Quinn leaned in for a kiss. Their lips met, barely parted, delicately exploring, a wide gulf of air still between their bodies.
Their tongues touched, caressed, and Quinn stepped back. "I'm very attracted to you," he admitted, while acknowledging to himself that attraction was too mild a word. Ready to drag him into the bedroom and fuck him all night would be more accurately descriptive.
"Likewise," Ben said wryly, "but I don't - " The younger man stopped speaking.
"You're not ready to move to the next level." Quinn caressed Ben's lips softly with his fingertips when it looked like the younger man might respond. "Believe it or not, I'm not accustomed to sleeping with someone on first acquaintance. At least, not unless it's on the set. But I would like to get to know you better. Slowly. If that's acceptable to you."
"Yes." Ben kissed Quinn's fingers. "Slowly. I'd like that."
A final kiss of lips and Ben walked out the door, his emotions still as confused as when he'd received the dinner invitation a few hours before. He was confident that Quinn hadn't discovered his secret, but the knowledge the Quinn's interest was purely romantic didn't untangle the twisted skein of his thoughts.
Did he actually want a porn star interested in him? He was on a job, and Ben took his work very seriously. He wasn't looking for cheap sex, a mindless one-night fling. But he and Quinn had so much in common beyond the physical, could he pass up a chance to explore a real relationship? Or would his tendency to jealousy doom the relationship before it could even begin? And if they did get involved, how would he explain Quinn to his family, his friends, his co-workers? 'Hi Mom, here's my new boyfriend, if you want, you can rent one of his videos and see how good I have it. Just don't get jealous. I know Dad can't be as hung.'
Well, nothing was going to happen between them until this mission was completed, because he wouldn't let it. He'd deal with his irresistible attraction to Quinn later.
When the director finally called "cut" at the end of a long Tuesday, Quinn gave his normal polite "thank you all" while his assistant helped him into his kimono, and then headed… straight toward Ben for the second day in a row, Ben realized with dismay as he locked down the camera.
"Ben." Quinn's voice reached out and caressed Ben's skin all over. "I was hoping you might like to come to my house for dinner again tonight."
"I - no. I can't tonight. But thank you."
"Your plans can't wait?"
Quinn frowned at Ben's bluntness. "Have I done something to offend you, Ben?"
Ben glanced around as he fiddled unnecessarily with the camera, noting that yes, they were receiving as much attention as he feared. Both actors and crew loved juicy gossip, and the star propositioning the new cameraman was a meaty morsel. "I thought you said we were going to take it slow," he hissed.
His eyes following the path that Ben's had taken, Quinn saw the same avid interest and curious glances that Ben had seen. Was Ben embarrassed because he was a private person? Did he just prefer to keep a new relationship to himself, rather than share it with a multitude of co-workers? Did he think they might believe he would take advantage of a relationship with the star? Or was he embarrassed to be dating a porn king? Quinn realized he had to know. He wasn't a man willing to live with doubts and hesitation. Speaking quietly so only Ben could hear him, he said, "That was before I woke up this morning, thinking about you. Before I jacked off in the shower imagining you were with me. Did you wake up wanting me?"
"Jesus," was Ben's soft exhalation. "No, I saved that for lunch. And both my breaks. Half the guys here know I've been yanking off in the bathroom, and they didn't have to be geniuses to figure out why. Not with the way you stared straight into the camera all day."
"I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable." Even as he made the trite response, Quinn knew the words weren't completely true. Despite an entire day of having sex, the thought that Ben craved him, desired him, made Quinn want to thump his chest out of pure macho delight. He had reached satiation with being desired many years ago, but now it seemed as new and satisfying as a first kiss. A brief stroke of Ben's face, his thumb resting lightly in the dimple in Ben's chin, and Quinn promised, "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow," Ben muttered, keeping his eyes focused on his equipment.
Quinn swaggered as he walked away, hoping Ben couldn't resist a quick glance, his mind turning over plans for tomorrow. Waking up this morning after dreaming of the taste of Ben's lips had convinced Quinn that promising to go slow had been a miscalculation. Ben's discomfort during the day from the swelling in his jeans had led Quinn to believe Ben would agree to speed things up. Not, apparently, quite to the pace Quinn might wish.
But that was okay. The attraction between them was undeniable. Quinn could savor the anticipation and give Ben the time he needed to accept their relationship.
For another day or two.
Preparing a set for the next morning took a certain amount of effort, even one as minimal as the set for "The Butler Does All," the sizzling story of how Quinn serves a noble family in every area of their life, including introducing the rebellious son, played by Eager Eddie, to his own sensuality, 'disciplining' the second footman, and entertaining several of the houseguests. Set people placed fake historical props back in place, while the costumer stripped the bed and picked up all the clothes that had thrown aside during fits of lust, tutting over stains and removing everything to be cleaned. As one of the technical crew, Ben made sure the camera equipment and lights were secured for the night. Everyone was experienced and efficient at their tasks, allowing Ben to stroll out at a reasonable hour.
Too reasonable. Ben needed darkness to break into Jolly's office. He drove a few blocks away, parking at a local Mexican restaurant, enjoying enchiladas and a Dos Equis to kill time, paying with the $20 he'd tucked into his front pocket.
The security guard scowled but let him through the gate when Ben gave a sheepish, "I've lost my wallet, hope it's inside."
He took care to establish his alibi, checking through the studio until he 'discovered' his wallet, before slipping out the back of the cavernous building and zig zagging across the yard to Jolly's trailer. His skillful touch opened the lock easily. Ben pulled a small flashlight out of his jacket, shining it around. He'd been in this office signing employment papers last week, and had taken time to memorize the layout. The computer was turned on first to let it warm up while he searched the desk. Normal paperwork wasn't his interest, though it wouldn't surprise him if Jolly was guilty of tax evasion. Evidence of hiding income or overstating expenses might be useful, but his main concern was Jolly's possible connection with the creation and distribution of designer drugs.
An hour later, he was beginning to wonder if this search was going to be a total waste of time. He'd gone through the computer's file directory, the desk, the credenza, and was working his way through the filing cabinet, ensuring that everything was put back precisely in place after scanning it. From the accounting books to the stacks of proposed 'scripts,' everything appeared ordinary.
Almost done, he couldn't resist when he found a fat folder labeled "Quinn" in the bottom file drawer. Pulling it out, he opened it on the desk, finding Quinn's contract and photos inside. They began with publicity photos of a younger Quinn with shorter hair, posing in form-fitting leather trousers, his bare chest beautiful but his muscles not as precisely defined. Quinn's poses seemed arrogant, legs spread, hands on hips, his look challenging, but something told Ben that these pictures had been difficult to take. The impression was an insubstantial ghost, but Ben could almost see the nervousness and uncertainty beneath the domineering exterior leap off the glossy photo paper.
Fascinated, Ben continued looking, noting as Quinn aged, his hair grew longer, his body became an even more exquisite work of art, the poses and clothing became lewder and more aggressive. Leather, silk, velvet, chained, holding a whip, with men, with women… Quinn seemed to have posed in every way imaginable as all trace of hesitation was lost over the years. No matter what reason had driven Quinn to this life, he had come to accept it on his own terms.
The lights suddenly flicked on, and Benjamin jumped up startled, cursing his absorption in Quinn. He never allowed his guard to slip during an assignment, but he'd grown more interested in studying Quinn's evolution by the light of the small flashlight than paying attention to outside noise. "Mr. Jolly!"
Framed in the doorway, Jolly didn't look too upset at seeing Benjamin. In fact, he appeared less upset than when his coffee got cold in the morning, an abnormal attitude that worried Ben. "Hey, kid. What are you doing here?"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Jolly." Benjamin's gaze strayed to the desk, and he realized he had an excuse, even if potentially a lame one. Picking up some of the pictures, he waved them so Jolly could see what he'd been examining. Making his British accent even more pronounced, he explained, "It's Mr. Quinn. He just fascinates me. I wouldn't cause any harm to your office."
Jolly crunched on his toothpick as he considered Ben's words, letting the silence drag out before replying, "Quinn, huh? Better watch yourself, kid. He's a professional. He's into fucking, not romance."
Though his face didn't show the emotion, Ben breathed a sigh of relief as Jolly seemed to accept his lie. Shuffling the photos back into the folder, he strove for the proper mixture of naivety and sincerity as he replied, "I know that, sir. I realize it's a silly infatuation. I just needed to know more about him. I swear I'll never do anything like this again."
"You want a drink, kid?"
"Yes, sir, that would be nice."
Jolly came behind the desk to open the bottom drawer and pull out a bottle of Scotch and glasses, pouring them both liberal measures. Ben took the opportunity to move to the other side of the desk, toward the door, but Jolly simply handed him a drink before taking a slug of his own. "So, kid, I could arrange for you to fuck Quinn. If you want him that much."
Perching on the edge of the desk chair, Ben asked, "Sir?"
"I bet you'd photograph well. I could write you a role in the film, the stable boy maybe. You could have a real future in this business, kid, if your equipment measures up. And if it's not your thing, at least you'd have a day with Quinn. Hell, couple days if you want it. Filming can take a long time."
Ben listened to the words in shock, genuinely surprised that Quinn's concern had been right. While honest enough to acknowledge that he was a reasonably good-looking man, he had never expected to be propositioned as a porn star. His voice squeaked as he said, "I'm sorry, sir, but I don't think I can."
"Whatever." Jolly shrugged. "Remember that you can always change your mind. I'll have Nancy make copies of Quinn's pictures for you if you like."
"Yes, thank you, sir," Benjamin said automatically. As an obsessed fan, it was the only response he could make, and Benjamin certainly wouldn't mind an opportunity to study the photos for a longer time. "I should go, sir. I promise I'll never do this again."
"No problem, kid. I'm in the business of making people happy, of satisfying fantasies. I make my living from this kind of thing."
"Thank you, sir. I appreciate your understanding." Ben put the glass down and stood, jubilant that his pretense had worked, but aware that Jolly might regard him suspiciously in the future. He'd have to be even more vigilant. He turned to leave, the snapping kick from the silent security guard catching him unaware, slamming him back against the wall.
He collapsed into unconscious before he could hear Jolly ask, "What do you think, kid? That I'm a dumb fuck? I'm not fucking stupid, kid."
Dinner preparations failed to soothe Quinn, and the taste didn't satisfy the need growing inside him. Only one night, and Quinn already missed Ben's presence. Once the subject of work was off-limits, they had talked easily, and Ben's company had made the evening vanish. The house seemed empty without him. Quinn could almost imagine them coming home together after a productive day at work, making dinner, having mad passionate sex, falling asleep in each other's arms.
Quinn's wild imagination made him chuckle to himself. Benjamin was an interesting young man, but he'd met plenty of interesting young men. There wasn't anything particularly special about this one, other than the charming British accent. Which, Quinn realized, Ben had sidetracked from explaining, just as Ben had avoided describing anything about his personal life. Tastes, opinions, preferences… but nothing about who he was or where he came from.
Of course, that may be mere coincidence. Quinn tended to avoid discussing his background, just as many in the business did. Their birthplace and family were no longer relevant, only the fact that they were alive and successful. Not that Ben seemed scarred by his history, as did most of Quinn's co-workers, many of whom he'd ended up trying to help. He had an unfortunate tendency to become a willing ear, and couldn't stop caring about the young ones who were so scared and defensive behind their false hard shells.
But Ben… Ben appeared grounded, educated, and confident. Quinn would have wagered that his family's income was middle-class and his parents were loving, caring people. So why hide?
Quinn realized he wasn't going to be able to settle down and relax. The contradictions between Ben's appearance and words gnawed at his calm, and Quinn preferred to tackle problems immediately. Daily dealing with the high-strung personalities as film making tended to attract, Quinn had learned to take care of issues now, before a tiny worry or a bit of ego grew more massive than one of skyscrapers in Los Angeles' skyline.
Slipping into his shoes, Quinn grabbed his keys off the dresser and headed out. Peter would have Ben's application on file in his office. Quinn could examine Ben's resume and find his home number, where he'd graduated from college and his former jobs. Quinn refused to feel silly for making an extra trip, when he could easily find the information in the morning.
He'd learned to trust his instincts, and his instincts said something was wrong.
If the blows had landed in the same place, Ben might have been okay. At least, he would have been in better shape. He'd taken a beating before, been hit over and over again in the same place, learned how to mentally block off the pain and focus on an escape plan.
Unfortunately, this guy was definitely brighter than his former tormentors. Where was a beefy, dumb security guard with a beer gut when you needed one? A nice stupid fellow who would keep punching Ben in the gut, allowing Ben to tighten his muscles and avoid the pain while doing a feasible pretense of someone in agony.
Ben had woken, the side of his head aching, to find he was back on the set, a light focused on him while he was manacled to a chair. Regrettably, the handcuffs proved to be solid metal, not plastic props. Jolly was glaring down at Ben, munching his toothpick, grinding the wood between his teeth. The contents of Ben's wallet were scattered around his feet, not that they would have given Jolly any clues to his actions. Ben was always careful to establish a complete false personality. Once awake, the questions began, and Ben gave sincere, earnest answers, sticking to his obsessed stalker lie.
Jolly wasn't a patient man, gesturing for someone to stop forward from the darkness. The guard was not terribly tall, slim and well muscled, reasonably attractive rather than incredibly handsome, but definitely intelligent and creative. His light blue button-down shirt was gone, revealing a white undershirt and arms covered with a multitude of colorful tattoos. He liked to use his feet, which could, Ben decided, be registered as lethal weapons. And his fist, particularly since he wore a ring with a sharp design that sliced at Ben's flesh.
The two made an effective tag team, Jolly asking questions until he tired, the guard hitting or kicking in some unexpected location. Most of the blows weren't brutally hard, just vicious enough to hurt. Tattoo obviously understood the need to break a victim slowly, keeping him alive and functioning as long as possible. Unconscious people tell no tales.
"What are you doing here?"
In an odd way, Jolly didn't seem as bright as his flunky. He did insist on asking the same questions over and over again, encouraging Ben to respond more flippantly. "I wanted to jack off wearing Quinn's kimono. He's my hero." And right now, Ben really needed a hero.
As if called into existence by the power of his mind, Ben heard a beautiful sound, the sound of the studio's door opening and Quinn's voice asking, "Hello? Is someone still here? Ben?"
Quinn wasn't visible from Ben's position, hidden by equipment and flats. His entry gave Ben an opportunity, but also posed potential problems. Quinn was fit, but was he a good fighter? He couldn't let both of them get killed. Yelling, "Quinn! Look out!" Ben sprung forward, running forward bent over with the chair attached to his back, slamming into Jolly. The director went down with an, "Oomph!" even as Ben was rolling to the side, using his momentum to smash the flimsy chair, coming back up while swinging the broken arms around into his hands, giving himself two clubs.
The guard smiled evilly, waiting for Ben to stop moving, his pistol pointing at Ben's chest. Knowing he couldn't outrun a bullet but not willing to concede the fight, Ben flipped backwards, head over heels. As he landed, facing back toward the guard, he saw the reason he had escaped the sharp sting of metal piercing his flesh. Quinn had barreled into the guard, and both were sprawled on the ground, rolling and punching as the gun skittered away. They separated momentarily to spring back onto their feet. Though a big man, Quinn's step was light as he dropped into a crouch, the guard and Quinn circling each other, eyeing each other, looking for a weakness.
Ben watched fascinated as the two kicked, lunged, and punched in a dance of war. Quinn was taller and bigger, but the other man was faster. Both must have had extensive martial arts training and would have been beautiful to watch if the blows weren't landing so solidly and heavily. He stepped forward, trying to find a good spot to enter the battle, when the door opened again and another voice called out, "Who's in here?"
It was the other security guard, the stocky fellow who ate the last donuts remaining from the day when he arrived for his night shift. Tattoo was momentarily distracted, and Ben swung the chair arm, grazing his forehead. Tattoo reeled, but didn't go down, and Jolly was rising, yelling, "Hank! Get in here!"
Hank came into the light, looking confused. "Mr. Jolly? Mr. Quinn? What's going on?"
Ben didn't stay to hear how Jolly responded. Three against two odds weren't good, particularly when the good guys weren't the ones with guns. He grabbed Quinn's arm, hauling him out. Quinn accepted the silent command, running with Ben past a surprised Hank, out into the parking lot, both falling into Quinn's red Porsche.
Quinn was starting the car before Ben finished buckling his seat belt. The two were silent as Quinn concentrated on speeding off the studio grounds and zipping down the street to the freeway. The hour might be late, but Los Angeles was still full of traffic.
Ben stretched in the passenger seat, making sure none of the blows had caused any permanent damage. He would have bruises in the morning, and the cuts on his face from the fellow's ring would take time to heal, but this wasn't the first time he'd been in bad shape. At least nothing was broken, so he wouldn't have to visit the hospital.
"What the hell happened there?" Quinn finally snapped.
Lack of breath and frustration over the evening's outcome kept his explanation terse. "I'm a private detective. I was investigating Jolly and he caught me."
"Adult movies aren't illegal in this country."
"Drugs. We have reason to believe Peter Jolly is involved in an illegal drug ring. I was looking for evidence."
"Peter? He's a money-grubbing egotist, but he doesn't peddle drugs. No one does drugs on my sets."
"He's not on your sets one hundred percent of the time," Ben said sharply. "You don't know everything the man does." Sighing in exasperation, Ben added, "It doesn't matter anyway. I've blown my cover and didn't find anything useful." Gazing out the window at the cars Quinn was rapidly passing, Ben brooded on the mission's failure. Days of planning his cover, finding the right connections to ensure getting hired, and in a mere two days on the actual job, all he'd managed to do was alarm Jolly. The man would be prepared now, wary of strangers, and might destroy any evidence.
"How makes you think Peter's dealing drugs?"
"Jolly made the mistake of hooking someone's daughter. Someone with money and connections. Hell, I don't even know our client, only the boss knows. The evidence is all pretty flimsy and circumstantial, but he's apparently positive that it's Jolly's fault. His daughter says so. My job is to find evidence that the police can use to prosecute."
"Have you searched his house?"
"Yes, last weekend, but I didn't find anything. Wherever he has stuff hidden, it's not there." Ben glanced at Quinn, the tightness of his jaw and lips, the furrow in his brow. "Why do you ask?"
The words dragged from his mouth, Quinn admitted, "Peter has a secret office in his house. If he was involved in drugs, he might be storing his information there."
"I didn't find a secret room."
"No, you wouldn't have."
His professional pride offended, Ben snapped, "I think I would have. I do know how to search a house."
"It's impossible to find if you don't know what you're looking for."
"You built it, didn't you," Ben stated, the only logical conclusion for Quinn's knowledge. "When you were a carpenter, you built it."
"Yes, that's how I met Peter. It was supposed to be a hideaway from his wife, not a storage place for illegal records."
"Hey." Ben caught his fingers in the long strands of Quinn's hair, disturbed by the bitterness in his voice. "You couldn't have known."
"I should have known. I was a fool to believe him. If that's really what he's using it for."
Though Ben had too much tact to try to convince Quinn of his own naivety, Ben had no doubt that Jolly's secret office contained at least a second set of books for his movie business, and hopefully the books for his drug business, a record of the drug lab's location, and a distribution list of his dealers. If Ben was right, it meant Jolly's activities had been occurring longer than any of them had guessed. "Where is it located?"
"There's a notebook and pen in the glove compartment, give it to me." Propping the notebook against the wheel, steering with his forearms, Quinn did a hasty sketch of the second floor in Jolly's house. Ben kept a careful eye on the traffic while Quinn drew, but the older man had the Californian knack for being able to drive while handling other activities.
"There," Quinn said, ripping out the paper and handing it to Ben, "those are the instructions you need."
Ben examined the diagram critically, admiring how detailed the sketch was despite being drawn under less-than-perfect conditions. He could see Quinn as a young carpenter, carefully measuring and planning, those big hands creating functional beauty from wood and nails. "I have to get the police on this immediately before he thinks to clean it out. Would you drop me at the station?"
"You need those cuts seen to." Quinn brushed at the blood trickling down Ben's cheek. "My house is close. Let me clean you up."
"I'm fine. I've suffered worse. Getting Jolly arrested is the priority. It won't take him long to figure out you might tell me about the office."
But Quinn was already taking the exit to his house, and Ben bit his lip to keep his mouth shut. Since Quinn was in control of the wheel, he was going to win this argument by sheer obstinate refusal to listen. The Porsche zoomed into Quinn's driveway. Turning off the engine, Quinn asked, "What about a partner? Do you have a partner?"
"I work with various people at the agency, yes. Why?"
"Can you fax the sketch to one of them? Let them work on the police while I take care of you?"
"You have a fax?"
"Everyone who's anyone or wants to be anyone in this town owns a fax. Well?"
It was a compromise, and a reasonable one in Ben's opinion, more than he expected from the unrelenting stiffness of Quinn's spine, and he nodded. He could fax the sketch to Marcie and have her contact their boss, who was a buddy of the police commissioner. He'd be more effective at this task than Ben. If Quinn could bend enough to satisfy Ben's priority, Ben could let Quinn take care of him. Maybe he could cut the handcuffs off Ben's wrists.
After all, even if Quinn's business was unsavory in public opinion, the man himself intrigued Ben. This job was now officially over and Ben would soon be off-duty. Quinn was a movie star, adored and lusted after by hundreds, thousands of people, able to have anyone he wanted. This night might be the only chance for Ben to know his touch.
Peroxide, bandages, Q-tips… even as Quinn gathered supplies from the medicine cabinet, his mind went back over tonight's frenzied events. Having a vague worry that crystallized into real concern when he saw Ben's car in the lot, entering the studio, Ben's yell, ending up fighting a crazed degenerate with multi-colored tattoos, Quinn using the martial arts knowledge he'd first begun practicing while filming "Studs of Fury," fleeing without even understanding what was happening, the rush of adrenaline and fear, both compounded by the unshakeable conviction that he must protect Ben, all within… less than 10 minutes, perhaps.
Realizing that he was beginning to shake, Quinn sat down on the toilet seat, steadying his breathing, shutting his eyes and slipping into a brief meditative trance learned from his yoga instructor while shooting "100 Poses of Passion." Ben was fine, nothing had hurt him, nothing would hurt him while Quinn was around.
"Hey." Ben stood in the doorway, looking a little battered and bruised, but beautiful. "Are you okay?"
"Am I okay? You were the one beat up," Quinn stated gruffly, standing up and moving so Ben could sit down. He began cleaning the blood off with a wet towel.
"It's happened before. I'll be fine. Thank you for letting me use your fax."
"Well, I don't imagine this will happen again. I'm off this case now, no matter what happens with Jolly's office."
"Will you get in trouble for being discovered?"
"Not with the information you gave me. We should be able to close this case."
"Then what happens next for you?"
"Another case." Ben shrugged. "I don't know what. I'll miss the catering on the set."
Turning Ben's face to reach the scrape on his cheek, Quinn realized that he wanted Ben to miss him, not the plentiful food. "The set will probably be shutting down tomorrow anyway, won't it." Even as he spoke sharply, his tone reflecting his worry, Quinn's touch was gentle as he dabbed peroxide on the cuts.
"It's hard to film without a director. I'm sorry. Too often the good people suffer when the bad ones get taken down."
"Don't worry. There's always more work in this profession. I'm just glad I came back to the studio tonight."
"My savior," Ben quipped, to disguise the depth of his relief at hearing Quinn's voice.
The flippancy reawakened Quinn's anger at seeing Ben bound to the chair. "You could have been hurt, killed."
Rather than take offense, Ben's voice was gently understanding as he soothed, "It's an occupational hazard, Quinn. I'm well-trained and I don't take unnecessary risks."
Ben's refusal to acknowledge the validity of his concern fueled Quinn's anger. Without thinking, he rose, dragging Ben with him, slamming the younger man against the wall, kissing him with a bruising passion.
The towel rack prevented Ben's back pressing flatly on the wall, forcing him to arch his chest forward into Quinn's embrace. He could sense the need, the worry, the adrenaline crashing into a desire to dominate, and responded by curling his legs around Quinn's hips, kissing him back, stroking his hair, the handcuffs still attached to his wrists banging on Quinn's back. Quinn's reaction did not surprise Ben, though its severity did, given the brevity of their relationship.
Beyond any thought except the need to conquer Ben, to imprint sense upon him with the strength of his body, Quinn rubbed his hips on Ben's, shoving harder and harder, determinedly insistent that Ben submit. The ferocity of his emotions was placated by Ben's receptivity as the younger man rocked with him. In moments, Quinn was moaning and shaking, coming like a teenage boy out of control.
"Oh, God," was all Quinn could say when he dropped back to reality, his body blissfully relaxed but the solid ridge of Ben's erection still crushing into him. Shame replaced the rage. The Mighty Quinn didn't finish before his partner; the Mighty Quinn made others shoot off like cheap firecrackers. Until Ben. "That was embarrassing."
"I rather liked it," Ben purred. He wiggled in Quinn's arms, getting more comfortable.
The dig of heels into his butt made Quinn conscious that they hadn't even undressed. Stepping away from the wall, keeping Ben in his arms, he walked into the next room, dropping the younger man onto his bed.
Giving a happy moan, Ben stretched languorously. "I can wait if you'd like to get a hacksaw first, get the cuffs off me."
"No, I don't think I will," Quinn replied, snapping one handcuff to the wooden pole of the bedframe.
"Hey!" Ben started to roll off the bed, but was halted by Quinn's body falling sideways on him, Quinn closing the other cuff to bind him to the bed.
"Quinn, let me go."
"Benjamin, trust me. I'll make this so very good for you."
Ben assessed the promise and sincerity in Quinn's eyes, the silent pleading for his trust. He nodded and allowed the tenseness to leave his body.
A brief kiss to thank Ben for his trust, and Quinn stripped off his own clothes, unashamed in his nudity. He turned off the overhead light and turned on the light on the nightstand, angling the bulb away from Ben, leaving the room dim but with enough light to see each other.
"I think we need to get you comfortable now." The line might have sounded cheesy said by another man, but to Ben it was sweet music as Quinn began taking off Ben's clothes, each action a production and a chance to explore his body. Shoelaces untied, shoes and socks discarded, feet massaged and tickled, earning a giggle from an embarrassed Ben. Button and zipper undone, the jeans pulled off slim hips and tossed onto the floor, landing some distance away from the shoes and socks. Ben's erection made a prominent outline in his briefs, but Quinn ignored the obvious temptation, concentrating on Ben's legs, shapely and surprisingly long for a man of his height. Quinn learned every inch; stroking the tender inside of his thighs, kissing the soft inner curve of his knees, and caressing firm calves and shins.
Ben panted and squirmed his appreciation of Quinn's expertise. He desperately wanted to come from merely the feel of those strong hands fondling his legs, but restrained himself, caught between the passion aroused by Quinn's devoted attention and the agony of delay.
Quinn skipped over the briefs, causing Ben to whimper at the neglect. Instead, Quinn pushed Ben's shirt up to his neck and feasted on his chest, nipples and abdominal muscles, paying them the same loving care that Ben's legs received.
"Jeez, Quinn, now!" The half-plea, half-demand was accompanied by an emphatic thrust of his hips. "Please!"
"As you command," Quinn murmured, stripping the briefs off. He paused, his body lying between Ben's spread legs, admiring Ben's cock, large and hungry-looking in its intense stiffness. "What do you desire?"
"Please, Quinn, suck me! I need it! I need *you*!"
Quinn's tongue flicked out as reward and tease, stroking the length of the sensitive underside. "You have beautiful hair," he said, running his fingers through the wiry mass. "Redder than the hair on your head."
"My hair is not where I need you, Quinn!" If he could have, Ben would have grabbed Quinn's head, holding it in place while shoving his cock in Quinn's mouth. With his hands manacled, he could only strain against the cold metal and beg for his release.
"This is beautiful too," Quinn replied, sucking on Ben's length. Ben moaned in relief, only to groan as he was released again, the torment continuing past Ben's tolerance level. Quinn sucked, licked, and teased until Ben was a mindless, writhing mass of flesh, begging and pleading, finally coming before Quinn expected it, the first drops landing on Quinn's face before he could cover Ben's cock again with his mouth, drinking deeply as Ben collapsed.
Ben was so drowsy from his orgasm, he ignored Quinn as the older man padded to the bathroom, running water and returning with a clean face. It took a moment to penetrate his satiated brain that Quinn was pulling items from the nightstand. He definitely woke up when Quinn picked up his legs, putting one on each of his broad shoulders while scooting forward so that Ben's butt rested on Quinn's thighs. "Quinn, what are you doing?"
Quinn's look at Ben was perplexed, his intention obvious from his positioning of their bodies.
Struggling to sit up but failing, the cuffs allowing limited movement, Ben quickly added, "Okay yes, I can see what you're planning, but Quinn, I…"
"You haven't done this?" Quinn asked, surprise replacing the puzzlement.
Cursing the uncontrollable flush that crossed his cheeks, Ben confessed, "No, I've never done this before. I've had some experiences with men, and I watched some of your videos to prepare for this job, but I've never had anal sex."
"Don't worry." Quinn leaned forward to kiss Ben. "I'll make it good for you."
Glad of his flexibility as the tops of his feet were forced to the pillow by Quinn's kiss, Ben hesitated before finally nodding his acceptance. If anyone could introduce him to this scary act with finesse and gentleness, it would be Quinn.
"Relax. Relax as much as you can," Quinn crooned into Ben's ear, brushing his beard on Ben's face. Ben tried to obey, blocking out awareness of Quinn's hands fumbling with the supplies until one finger slipped into his body. He took a deep breath, uncomfortable with the intrusion.
"It's okay, I won't hurt you. I have to prepare you, loosen you up."
"I hate to say this, Quinn, but right now you feel like my proctologist."
"Does your proctologist ever do this?" Quinn asked as he rubbed a particular spot within Ben's opening.
In reaction, Ben shrieked, his hips arching off the bed. He had thought sex could be pretty fantastic, but nothing had prepared him for more multi-colored spotlights than a KISS concert flashing on and off in his body.
Quinn chuckled before his mouth covered Ben's, kissing him with his unique combination of force and tenderness.
All sense of time was lost for Ben as Quinn prepared him, the discomfort of more fingers pushing on his muscles alleviated by Quinn's maddening touches, his passionate kisses, and the brush of his long hair dropping around Ben's face, blocking the external light, leaving only the light show flashing on his every nerve.
"Your body is ready now," Quinn said. "Are you?"
"Yes, Quinn, please please please," Ben whimpered, not caring if he was making a fool of himself.
"It may hurt again."
Quinn sat back up, taking the pressure off Ben's strained leg muscles, tearing the condom wrapped with his teeth, rolling the thin plastic on himself with his left hand.
"You're ambidextrous," Ben noted, his anticipation still high but diminished slightly but being able to see the size of Quinn's cock. Close-up, it looked even larger than from behind the camera.
Quinn ignored the comment, not wishing to explain how he'd learned to do things with both hands while being filmed. "Don't worry," he soothed, smoothly exchanging his fingers for the tip of his cock. "Just think how good it's going to be."
"It's been pretty good already," Ben said, squirming as Quinn's length pushed steadily and inexorably into him. Quinn's hands cupped his hips, not letting him escape the pressure until the soft weight of Quinn's testicles touched his skin.
An expression of dazed wonder crossed Quinn's face. "So tight! You hold me so perfectly!"
A measure of pride consumed Ben's emotions, thrill that he could have such an impact on this experienced man. The personal satisfaction allowed him to relax more and concentrate on his feelings rather than the discomforting stretched sensation. Quinn had invaded his body, gently and with concern. Being mostly involved in heterosexual relationships, he was more accustomed to the role of giver, and receiving such consideration was rare. Rare but beautiful.
As if hearing his mental revelation, Quinn asked, "All right?"
"Never better," Ben said cheekily.
"We'll keep it slow." Quinn suited words to actions, establishing a leisurely pace, withdrawing a short distance before rocking in, making the length of his strokes gradually longer, watching Ben's face intently for any sign of distress.
But Ben was long past any physical concern of pain and well into his pleasure, loving the feeling of fullness in his body, missing Quinn when he retreated, moaning in relief when Quinn occupied his home again, the rub of Quinn's cock on his prostate sending flames of pleasure throughout his body.
The ending was unexpected when it came, a final shove and Ben was falling into an intense vastness of bright light and love, Quinn falling behind him, holding him, keeping him safe until sanity returned.
Quinn's tone and smile were soft as he asked again, "All right?"
"Perfect," Ben said, throat too tight to say more.
"Good." One hand keeping the condom carefully on his cock, Quinn pulled out of Ben, peeling it off and dropping it into the wastebasket. He lay down on the bed and gathered Ben in his arms, snuggling tight.
While the closeness was wonderful, Ben was feeling the strain in his arms from his hands bound behind his head. "Quinn? The cuffs?"
"In a moment. Let me hold you just a bit." Quinn kissed him tenderly and Ben purred, burrowing his head into Quinn's chest. This man had transformed an act often considered frightening and unnatural into the most exquisite physical and emotional experience Ben had even known. They'd only met two days ago, but already Ben had given Quinn his body…and his heart.
The morning was quiet when Quinn awoke, and it took a moment for his fuzzy, satiated brain to figure out what was wrong. The lack of noise… He hadn't set the radio alarm. He started to curse, then remembered that Peter was likely to be dealing with more serious issues today than a tardy star. The thought of Peter reminded him of Ben, and he woke up enough to roll over and say good morning.
The other side of the bed was empty. Propping himself on an elbow, he noticed Ben's clothes were gone, and his had been draped over the chair. The only visible sign of their passionate night together was the imprint of Ben's head on the other pillow, the handcuffs hanging from the headboard, and the hacksaw on the nightstand. Ben had been almost asleep before Quinn even finished sawing the second cuff apart, wasting time removing them completely seemed unnecessary when they could be slumbering together.
Rolling out of bed, Quinn put on his robe and checked the bathroom. No Ben. Maybe he was making breakfast. A hot cup of coffee and a large breakfast with no reason to rush into work would be pleasant, almost like a weekend rather than Wednesday.
But Ben's presence was missing from the kitchen, the living room, the family room, the deck… everywhere Quinn thought he might be waiting. On impulse, Quinn picked up the phone and hit redial.
"Yellow Cab, what area?"
Ben was gone, without a word, even a kiss good-bye. Wham, bam, fuck me sir, and please get it right the second time. His mission undoubtedly successful, the search warrant for Jolly's house already issued, and Ben even got a bonus night of sex from a famous star in the bargain. Nothing like mixing a lot of pleasure with business.
Quinn headed for the shower, viciously nailing a solid storm door over the pounding rage in his heart. Moping around the house was pointless. He might as well go to work and break the news to the cast and crew, find out if anyone needed a reference, a contact person for their next job.
He had survived being screwed before; he would survive this time too.
Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork… a life of paperwork certainly hadn't been his dream when he'd gotten his degree in Criminal Justice. And indeed, he did experience excitement in his undercover missions… which in Ben's opinion, were too infrequent between long bouts of filing reports and doing mundane Internet database researches.
Closing a file, he signed his initials on the cover slip and dropped it in his out box as his phone buzzed. "Mr. Lawson, there's a young woman to see you."
"Does she have an appointment?" He knew she didn't have an appointment, but the boss insisted he always ask to maintain the appearance that everyone in the company was Very Busy.
"No, sir. She says she needs to see you about Mr. Quinn."
Quinn? After writing his report on the Jolly case, Ben had suffered numerous joking comments from his colleagues about the joys of working on a porn set, but otherwise he hadn't heard Quinn's name spoken in weeks. He preferred it that way, the pain of leaving Quinn too fresh, but knew he couldn't duck a potential client without a good explanation. "Very well, send her in, please."
The door opened and a pretty young woman stepped in. Late teens or early 20s, fine brown hair, slightly wavy and touching her shoulders, 5' 4," 125 to 130 pounds, blue eyes, wearing her best dress, the conservative gray one reserved for interviews, nervous but determined was Ben's automatic assessment.
As he rose reaching out his hand, his second thought was that she had Quinn's eyes. "Can I help you, miss?"
"Please. I'm Erin Quinn. I understand you may know John Francis Quinn."
Her hand was long and shapely, her clasp firm with an underlying tremor. This situation called for the cozy chairs, not the official client-in-front-of-the-desk scenario. Though he was only a junior member of Mason, Young, and Munroe, even Ben's office was well furnished, with a polished wood desk and chairs, thick gray carpeting, and off to one side, a small maroon couch and chair. Ben escorted Erin over to the couch, sitting down beside her and pouring her a glass of water from the thermos. He caught her glancing around, and said to ease the tension, "Not exactly Simon & Simon, is it?"
The diversion worked. She smiled as she sat, the tension in her shoulders easing. "No, it's not quite what I was expecting. It's very nice."
"We do mostly corporate work. Must present a professional image for the clients. So what did you want to see me about?"
"Is your father."
"How did you know?"
"You have his eyes."
"Mom says that. When she talks about him." Erin took a sip of water, clenching the glass with both hands.
"What do you know about your father?"
"I remember him from when I was very young. He seemed bigger than life, coming home in the evening, smelling like freshly cut wood. He'd sweep me above his head and call me his little princess."
"When was the last time you saw him?"
"I was six. I became very ill. I remember Mom and Dad taking me to the hospital. They seemed very mad, but it wasn't at me. We didn't have health insurance because Daddy worked for himself. I had to stay there, but he came to see me the next day, telling me everything was going to be fine, he was going to get the money so the doctors would take care of me and I'd get well. He kissed me on the forehead and stayed with me until I fell asleep. I never saw him again."
Ben could imagine it. The wife too - what? - religious? - romantic? - committed to the sanctity of marriage? - to forgive Quinn for his betrayal of their vows. Quinn, too much a protector, determined to take care of his family, too proud to apologize or seek forgiveness for doing what he had to do, feeling betrayed himself by her condemnation.
He knew why Erin was here, the dim lingering memories of an extraordinary man, the loss of growing up without him, the scandalous news articles finally bringing the lost father from the sordid environment of sleazy movie theaters where the floor was sticky from spilled coke mingled with splashes of semen, and into the newspaper headlines on the front porch, the nightly news on the television. Still a tawdry story of lost souls hooked on drugs, but her father singled out as the hero, lionized for providing the key information that ensured the evildoer was brought to justice.
Not that the Times had presented the story in quite that manner, but the grocery story tabloids certainly had a field day with racy tales of Jolly, Quinn, the other porn stars, and any semi-famous drug addict they could find. Ben could have sworn he once saw an old fuzzy picture of Charlie, Heidi, and Quinn splashed on the cover of the Inquisitor, but refused to look close enough for confirmation.
"Miss Quinn, there's someone you need to meet."
Ben passed the front of St. Mary's high school, coasted to a stop at the side of the building where Quinn and a group of kids were playing on the basketball court. He stepped out of the car and walked over to the fence, watching, not disturbing the practice.
The kids wore a motley collection of shirts and shorts, not organized team outfits, but they were energetic and talented, dribbling, faking, scoring shots. Quinn looked the happiest Ben had seen him, dashing up and down the court with them, coaching and refereeing at the same time. He glanced over to notice Ben, and in response Ben's hands curled around the chain links. He hadn't expected it would hurt this much to see that Quinn had moved on with his life, Ben merely a one-night stand in a long procession of sex partners.
A bell rang and the kids headed inside. Released from his responsibility, Quinn came to the fence, dribbling the basketball in one place. "Benjamin."
"You look well."
"The cuts all healed." Not wanting to leap into the reason for his appearance, Benjamin asked, "So you're coaching now?"
"I'm volunteering. I felt like I needed a break after the film collapsed."
Ben's gaze flicked briefly to the disappearing kids before returning to devour Quinn. "They look like good kids."
"They could be, with someone to listen to them."
"I'm surprised -- . So how did you end up here?"
Quinn's knowing eyes caught Ben's change of subject. "You're surprised that they let me around kids? They don't entirely." Gesturing to a woman following them into the building, he explained, "Sister Mary Angelina supervises. I don't shower here. I rarely go inside and I'm never alone. But this was the church I attended as a child, it seemed the best place to come back to."
Hearing the pain and pride in Quinn's voice, Ben sympathized, "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I've made my choices in life. I will live with the consequences."
Ben cleared his throat. "Speaking of consequences and choices, there's someone who would like to meet you. Again." Moving to one side, Ben let Quinn see Erin timidly step out of the car.
Quinn stopped dribbling, the ball bouncing away neglected as he reached out to his daughter, their hands touching through the fence. "Erin," he said hoarsely.
To give them privacy, Ben walked back to his car and sat inside, watching in the side mirror as the two talked, Quinn smiling with paternal fondness. He started his car, and Erin turned briefly to wave good-bye. He waved back and drove off, leaving father and daughter to their reunion.
Ben drifted at loose ends around his apartment, flipping through the ads and bills that came in the mail before dropping them on the kitchen counter, kicking his shoes off in the middle of the living room floor, getting a beer out, taking a swallow, then leaving the glass bottle sitting on the coffee table while staring out the window at the hazy Los Angeles skyline.
Quinn had been… gorgeous, totally gorgeous, dressed in blue running shorts and a white t-shirt. The sweat had plastered parts of his shirt to his body while at the same time his own speed made the loose material billow. Ben had wanted to slip his hands under that shirt, pull it up and off, stroke the wetness on Quinn's skin and make love to him until the musky aroma of passion exuded from both their bodies and filled the air.
Hell, what an idiot he must have appeared. Idiot or victory prize? It didn't matter which one, both were humiliating. He'd felt desired and proud to have the Mighty Quinn so afire with lust that he thumped Ben against the wall, coming without ensuring Ben's satisfaction. Their love-making had been fantastic, the best Ben ever experienced, sweetness and tenderness intermingled with unabashed hunger and lust so that Ben had few qualms opening his body to Quinn. The nuzzling and cuddling continued as Quinn sawed apart the handcuffs, silly endearments and idle conversation exchanged, Ben feeling the most relaxed and comfortable he had ever felt in his life. But then, as they settled into sleep, Quinn had murmured with arrogant satisfaction, "My little virgin. You'll never have another like me," and Ben realized he'd lost his virginity not out of love but merely so Quinn could soothe his own wounded pride and professional dignity.
Even though his head told him that moving on and forgetting was the wisest course of action to help his aching heart, he gave in with a groan, unable to resist his addiction. Crossing to the entertainment center, he opened the drawer to examine his stash of tapes. Most had been easy to find but the last few required exhaustive searching in every tawdry sex shop in the city. He wanted the soccer one tonight, he knew, skimming his finger along the titles. "Balls of Fire," yes, there it was. The intriguing tale of how one player's determination to win leads him to bang his opposing team members in the locker room, the sauna, or on the playing field. Or in the locker room, the sauna, *and* on the playing field. Not that the box used quite that description, but it seemed the most accurate summation to Ben.
And exactly what he needed tonight.
He popped the tape in and sprawled on the couch, feet propped on the coffee table, legs spread. He wouldn't unzip his pants yet. Better to wait through the 'plot' set-up and let the anticipation build until he had to stroke himself.
As the credits played on the screen, a knock sounded on the door. Ben sighed, guessing it would be Mrs. Bridges or Mrs. Arnett, bringing him freshly baked cookies in exchange for the last favor he'd done, or needing a new one. He loved the old dears, but an evening helping white-haired women with neglectful children was not high on his priorities. Still, he became a detective because he wanted to make a difference, if he didn't even help his own neighbors, what was the point? He stopped the tape with the remote, and went to answer the door, a friendly smile on his face as he undid the lock and swung the door open.
A cleaner Quinn than he'd seen earlier that day, showered and dressed in brown and tan, colors that looked good with his complexion and somehow made his eyes appear even vibrantly blue.
"Quinn," he said, cursing the surprise in his voice.
"Benjamin, may I come in?"
Too startled to budge from the door opening, Ben asked, "How did you find me?"
"I've developed a wide circle of admirers in all sorts of places. I requested a favor."
Most likely a clerk in Motor Vehicles, Ben cursed mentally. Trust Quinn to jump protocol and ask someone to ignore the rules. Government workers could be disciplined, even fired, for disclosing confidential information such as home addresses. Yet…a part of Ben couldn't help but be grateful that the rules had been broken this time, even though he'd have to give Quinn a stern lecture about the type of favors he asked.
Later, after Quinn revealed the reason for his presence. "Come in," he said, stepping back and swinging the door wide. "Sit down. You want a beer?"
Benjamin ducked into his kitchenette, leaving Quinn standing in the living room. Opening up the refrigerator door, he cursed under his breath as he heard the videotape begin playing.
Forcing himself to stay calm, he walked into the living area, handed Quinn the beer, took the remote from his hand and snapped off the tape, ignoring the Quinn on the screen, wearing only a towel around his waist, swaggering toward a young blonde man showering. "So why are you here?"
"I wanted to thank you for bringing Erin to me."
"You had a good visit?"
"We talked for hours. She's starting to understand the choices I made. We're going to have dinner tomorrow, and try to get to know one another again. I hope that I can be a part of her life now."
"I'm glad for you."
"So…" Quinn picked up the video box. "More professional research? I thought you'd be finished with the Jolly case."
Trying too hard to sound business-like, Ben replied, "The courts take forever. It'll be months before this case is done, maybe years. You may be testifying too, about building the office."
Even as Ben was answering, Quinn was walking over to the entertainment center, boldly flipping open the drawer most conveniently located at arm-level, perusing the other tapes. Eyes sparkling, his tone decidedly amused, he noted, "You even have my early heterosexual work. You said you'd done some research, but I hadn't expected such thoroughness and dedication. Do you do this much research for all your cases?"
"If you're finished thanking me, you can go now." Benjamin walked over to the door and opened it.
Quinn set his beer on the coffee table and approached Benjamin. Rather than leaving, he kicked the door shut, and leaned against Ben, plastering his body to the wall and devouring his lips.
Ben moaned into Quinn's mouth, arching his body up, returning the kiss with equal fervor, his tongue matching Quinn's aggressive exploration. After the long weeks of deprivation, it felt so good, so right to be back in Quinn's embrace, and Benjamin wondered how he would survive the rest of his life without experiencing Quinn's touch every day.
"Why the hell did you disappear in the morning?" Quinn demanded.
Ben didn't respond, shutting his eyes to hide from Quinn's anger. He clasped Quinn's legs between his own, rubbing his cock against Quinn's. Even through the fabric of their clothes, he could feel Quinn equally aroused and needy.
Big hands spread over his rear, coaxing him along. Quinn whispered in his ear, "Come for me. I need you to come for me. Come in my arms. Show me how much you need me." Ben succumbed to the demand, rocking hard, moaning in pleasure until the tension that had built in his body since leaving Quinn's bed that dismal Wednesday morning was released in an explosion of blinding stars cascading on his closed eyelids and through his body.
Quinn was smiling fondly when Ben could drag his eyes open, and Ben smiled back, saying in a caressing voice, "You arrogant SOB, you didn't have to enjoy that quite so much."
"I believe in honesty, Benjamin." Swinging Benjamin into both arms, Quinn headed for the bedroom. "And I'm delighted that you find me as irresistible as I found you. I haven't stopped thinking of you since that morning I woke up alone." Dropping Ben on the bed, he placed his fists on his hips, and glowered, "Now why did you disappear?"
His spirits buoyed by Quinn's admission, Ben confessed, "Because I'd rather leave than be kicked out. I didn't want confirmation I was just another notch on your headboard, one more naïve virgin you'd fucked."
"And I thought you'd left because you were only interested in being fucked." Removing his clothes with the unconscious sensuality of a man accustomed to undressing for the camera, Quinn explained, "I didn't realize differently until I saw your eyes today, the way they looked at me. Your eyes give you away, Benjamin. They said you loved me."
"You said I'd never have another like you."
"You won't. Not if I'm your first and last."
"You are arrogant," Ben commented, even as he sat up to strip off his own clothes, his action contradicting his words.
"I've had to be. This business devours people with fragile egos. But I promise you one thing, I'll never take your love for granted."
"You're already taking it for granted," Ben groused good-naturedly, as 200 pounds of solid man landed on him. "I haven't actually said it yet."
"Then say it for me, Ben. Tell me you love me. Let me know I'm not just a stud for your use."
Twisting his hands in Quinn's long hair, holding his eyes with his own, Benjamin confessed, "I love you Quinn. But I don't know if I can be with you. I can accept what you've done. Lord, I've come more times watching those tapes than with any other partner. But I'm not sure I can handle it when you go back to work." At that confession, Ben had to drop his eyes of the strong column of Quinn's throat, unable to see the impatience in his eyes. Ben knew himself; he could forgive the past but feared he was too possessive to share. If this was going to be another one-night stand, he needed to acknowledge those terms from the beginning.
"Ben, do you really think I could spend all night with you, then spend all day with other lovers?"
"You can't?" Ben asked, appalled at the needy hopefulness in his voice.
"I can't. I'll retire. I've saved enough. Besides," he added flipping around so Ben was seated on his hips, "I'm going to wear you out. I won't have enough energy for anyone else. Now stop worrying and ride me."
"Yes, Master," Ben replied cheekily to the order, reaching for the lube and condoms in his nightstand. "If you'll prepare me."
Their hands got in each other's way as Ben rolled a condom on Quinn, and Quinn stretched the entry to Ben's body, but that only encouraged the exchange of lingering caresses until Ben was sinking down on Quinn, cherishing the feeling of Quinn deep within him. "Every night," Ben demanded, as he lifted himself back up, whimpering with the loss, repeating his demand, "every night," as he slammed back down, his buttocks connecting solidly with Quinn's hips.
"Every night," Quinn agreed willingly. "I love you Ben. Live with me, love me forever."
Ben's throat closed from the force of his emotions, and he couldn't speak coherent words, only gasp inarticulately as he lifted himself up and down, faster and faster, his leg muscles rippling with the effort. Quinn didn't repeat his question, waiting for the words, stroking Ben's thick length with his slippery hand, caressing Ben's nipples with the other until both were shaking with the strength of their ecstatic release.
Finally, lying in Quinn's arms, Ben was able to speak. "This is insane, Quinn. We barely know each other."
"I love you, and you love me. Do we need to know anything else?"
"Whether we're morning people or night owls, messy or clean, are ready on time or always late… there are dozens of small, stupid things that can destroy a relationship, Quinn. And we don't really know any of them about each other."
"I trust my heart, Ben. And it tells me that we are meant to be together. We can make all those things work as long as we have each other. What does your heart say?"
Ben raised his head, kissed Quinn sweetly on the lips, then answered. "It says - forever."
~ the end ~