All Dressed Up

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I tugged lightly at my tie in the elevator, carefully loosening the knot so that it began to show the button at my collar. It looked, I hoped, as if I’d tightened it that morning and then launched myself into a busy day of meetings and firm handshakes. Using both hands to hold my jacket away from my sides, I scanned myself. The shirt I had ironed an hour ago would still be crisp looking around my shoulders when I took my jacket off, but some deliberate slouching on the train had imprinted fine wrinkles into the fabric over my stomach. I pinched the side of my shirt over my left hip, tugged gently a couple times, then, satisfied with the new asymmetry, let my jacket fall back into place.

The polished metal of the elevator doors mirrored and warped my frown as I considered what to do with my hair. I didn’t want to look unkempt, but neither did I want to look as recently showered as I was. When Ray invited me over I always took a quick shower after work, but I’d keep my hair dry and climb right back into the clothes I’d been wearing all day. He liked my body fresh, but my clothes smelling lived in. He never said so, but I think he liked the illusion that I had come directly from the office to fall into his bed. If my hair was too squeaky, if my undershirt and my underwear smelled too much like detergent and not enough like me, the illusion frayed.

Taking inventory in the elevator, I knew the illusion would be thin tonight. My hair looked fresh and recently styled. The sheer trunks that hugged my dick had been in a drawer until two hours ago. My undershirt hadn’t had time to take up the smell of my skin, my sweat. When the bell rang and the doors opened I ran a hand through my hair, smoothed it back over, and sighed. I’d considered taking a few flights of stairs, but it didn’t seem worth the effort. I hoped the small lapses wouldn’t dampen Ray’s enthusiasm. I needed his vigor, his abandon, to take me out of myself after another long week that looked like the beginning of a long month.

I hoped it’d only be a month.

Ray answered the door almost immediately and he smiled as he always did, his teeth straight and white. I smiled back and the tensions of the past week began to melt away.

“Thanks” I said, as Ray stepped aside and held the door for me. He stood almost in profile and I appreciated once again the trim slenderness of his waist, the thickness of his arms, the broadness of his chest. His five o’clock shadow, usually light, looked a shade darker in the dimness of the front hallway and the sight of it made the front of my pants grow tight. My body remembered all the things he could do with his mouth as his scruff rasped along the skin of my neck, my stomach, the insides of my thighs.

“It’s been a little while,” I said. I tried not to sound petulant, failed in my own ears

Ray leaned around me to close the door. “I know,” he said. “It’s been one thing after another.” He clapped me on the shoulder. “You know how it is.”

“Absolutely,” I said. I tried to keep the resignation from my voice, failed again.

Ray’s smile faded slightly and he made a gruff noise. “How’s the job search going?”

“I was hoping you could help me forget.”

His hand, warm and strong, kneaded its way along my shoulder to the back of my neck. “We’ll see what we can do.” His smiled broadened as his gaze moved around my face. “Head on into the living room. I’ll be just a minute.”

For a moment I watched Ray walk down the hallway. I had never asked, but I wondered again if he had ever played sports. He looked like he had just come from the office himself, still in his tie and missing only the jacket, but whatever he wore worked less to conceal him than to draw attention to the muscles rolling across his shoulders, down his back, and over the length of his legs. I wondered how a man who could move so athletically during sex chose to exercise himself in less heated moments. He had the short brown hair, parted on the side, and the square features of the men I associated with lacrosse, but that was a college sport. Not soccer. Swimming, maybe? Or handball. That seemed bougie enough.

I walked down the hallway in the faint trail of Ray’s cologne and resisted the urge to step quickly up behind him and wrap my arms around his waist. All I wanted was to bury my face in his neck, breath him in, and slide a hand down past his belt. But I let him move down the hallway unmolested. Ray was a creature of habit and we hadn’t even sat down to talk yet. I pushed the thought of his body, sweating with exertion, from my mind.

As Ray took a left into the kitchen I continued down the hallway into the living room. It shared one wall with the bedroom and another with Ray’s office, but the farthest two walls were two great sheets of glass. Over the last few months I had grown accustomed to the view, but that evening I stopped with my hands in my pockets and looked out into the glittering heart of the city, just as I had the first time I’d seen it. canlı bahis Towers rose all around us. Between them, maybe half a mile away, the sunset shimmered on the river.

I wondered, not for the first time, how much it would cost to live in one of the tallest towers in the world. I thought about my own place, two bedrooms, a roommate recently moved out, my job pulled out from under me, and decided I didn’t actually want to know.

I sank down onto the couch and lifted one arm across the back, letting my suit jacket drape open around me. Ray walked in as I was settling and placed a bottle of wine on the glass coffee table in front of me. Beside it he placed two long stemmed glasses and then sank into the lounge chair behind him.

“Ah. Feels good to be off my feet.” He sighed and sat still for a few moments, then leaned forward to reach for the bottle. “Thirsty?”

“Always,” I said.

He told me the name of the wine, the grape, the year, but I let it all spin away before it settled into my brain. I would never drink these wines with anyone else, and when I realized that Ray didn’t seem to care whether I knew what we were drinking, I stopped giving myself a headache trying to remember.

We raised our glasses in a silent toast. As I swallowed I watched Ray drink, watched the glass press lightly against his bottom lip, watched his mouth open. I imagined the pressure of his lips on my skin, the insistent tracings of his tongue. On more than one occasion on the train that evening, when I hadn’t been creasing my clothes to show signs of industry, I’d slipped into daydreams and found myself anticipating those lips. I’d been forced then to discretely conceal the hardness tenting the front of my pants, but I didn’t hide it now. I sat with my feet flat on the floor, legs parted, and tried to be patient.

“That color suits you,” Ray said.

Ray always worked me over with the same penetrating, proprietary stare as he pondered the evening’s topic of conversation. It moved lingeringly over my thighs, my crotch, then up to my chest and the collar of my shirt. I had learned early on that he liked it when I looked a certain way: not just a tie slightly loosened and a shirt that hugged my waist, but pants that put my ass and my thighs on display, neatly framing my crotch; long, soft black socks that didn’t bunch around my ankles; stylish shoes; a belt with a buckle that drew the eye; colors that were bold, but not garish. Still, he was fairly easy to please, and who was I to say no when he handed me clothes on my way out the door? I wore them on my next visit and put them in the rotation if he signaled his approval.

My roommate once remarked that I had a sugar daddy. I’d laughed, told him he didn’t understand. Ray wasn’t luring me into bed with the promise of clothes. He was enhancing the experience for himself. His tastes were expensive and since he could afford to augment out trysts with designer clothes he’d only see occasionally, he did.

But it wasn’t just the clothes. For whatever reason, when we sat together in his living room drinking his French wine and talking about his work, he spoke to me like a colleague and something about that excited him. He got off on a man in a nice suit, that I knew, but beyond that I could only speculate. Maybe he liked to imagine I was a co-worker and that our meetings were forbidden. Maybe he had a subordinate at work who looked like me, straight or otherwise untouchable, and I was just a stand in. Maybe he just liked fucking younger guys in suits. Ultimately it didn’t really matter. I got mine, he got his, and neither of us got attached. I just had to play my part, and that meant looking like a young professional and making intelligent conversation. Then I could get on my knees.

I swirled the wine in my glass, took another sip, and waited for Ray to speak. I didn’t have to wait long.

“I’m having trouble with Keegan again,” he said.

“How so?” Always important to act interested. A colleague would be invested. A junior associate would be eager to offer insight.

“He’s missing deadlines.”

I listened for a while as Ray described both Keegan’s potential and his failings, but I had heard it all before. Ray had hired Keegan a year ago after poaching him from a marketing firm in Cincinnati. I had never heard the story of how they had crossed paths or what would have taken Ray to Cincinnati in the first place, but he had decided Keegan could be a star if given the right opportunities. So he’d dumped some cash in his lap, moved him to New York, and given him an office. But now, it seemed, Keegan was out of his depth.

I listened for a while longer as Ray explained how Keegan nearly cost them a contract with one of what Ray called the “Big Twelve in-houses.” I had no idea what they were and he never used company names, but I knew they were the only firms he believed truly appreciated his services, and he prioritized their projects over all others.

“For all they complain bahis siteleri about deadlines, people need them,” he said. “Sometimes it’s productive to disrupt a schedule if a client isn’t able to appreciate your design, but that requires prep work, foreshadowing. You build it into project plan. Keegan is just blowing through his own deadlines and it’s making us look bad.” Ray’s expression darkened, his straight, dark eyebrows drawing together. “Yesterday I got chewed out for twenty minutes by this director of narrative relations because they had to readjust their entire release schedule. And that was the first I heard of any trouble.” He took a sip of wine. “I don’t like being scolded.” He took another sip. “That asshole’s job wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for me, and he’s lecturing he about lost narrative opportunities.”

I had never met Keegan, but I didn’t like him very much just then. Ray used these conversations to help build the fantasy he most enjoyed, and over time he worked his way from collegial to carnal. But simply having the conversation wasn’t enough. The quality of the conversation, of my contributions, mattered just as much. He liked to be surprised, enjoyed perspectives he hadn’t considered. When I asked questions he hadn’t thought to ask, I could see him catch fire, watch his gaze move from casually appreciative to charged and possessive. But just then Ray’s dark mood was far from intimate and his thoughts were far from me. I had my work cut out for me.

I understood the terminology Ray used less than I understood his wines, so in an effort to end this line of thought I concentrated on the things I did understand. “Have you talked to Keegan yet?”

“Scheduled a meeting for tomorrow.”

“Are you going to fire him?”

Ray swirled the wine in his glass. “No,” he said finally. “Not yet. He’s an investment. He might take longer to mature than I anticipated, but…” He trailed off, looking through me. “He comes up with incredible stuff. And he’s earnest. Maybe a little too nice, but that’s the kind of thing the Twelve tend to look for when they outsource. It irritates them, but they need it and they can’t replicate it in their own designs–not yet. They look outside when they’ve scraped the bottom of their own souls and found nothing but the cynicism that’s given marketing such a perennially malignant reputation.” Ray drained his glass. “Besides, they still like his idea. I can’t fire him if there’s a chance he can complete the contract.”

Ray’s tone had gone flat, peremptory. I tried again.

“Do you want to fire him?” If I could rule out the negative, I could steer him toward the possible.

Ray frowned as he reached for the bottle. “No,” he said. He didn’t appreciate the question. Ray was assertive, decisive, but he wasn’t hardhearted.

“All right,” I said, keeping my tone casual. “Why is he missing deadlines?”

Ray poured himself more wine and then held the bottle between us. I lowered my glass and allowed him to fill it. “He’s having trouble prioritizing,” he said. “I gave him his choice of projects, opened the waitlist to him. He’s taken on an ambitious portfolio, but he hasn’t finished anything in the last six months.”

“Any idea how he’s spending his time?”

“Not entirely, but last week he spent an entire afternoon making copies. One o’clock until six.” Ray frowned and tasted his wine. “Making copies,” he repeated.

Silence. I couldn’t think of anything to say and Ray just let the room fill up with quiet.

I resisted the urge to rub my eyes and swallowed my sigh. I usually had more patience, but being out of work during a recession made it difficult to sympathize with the worries of the gainfully employed. I had come to see Ray for exactly one reason: I wanted him to fuck me until I could taste colors and see sounds. Normally I would stick it out, meander through the conversation until I found an angle that intrigued him, a question that excited him–most nights I actually enjoyed it–but this evening I didn’t have the patience for it. I just wanted to fuck.

So I gave up. Even when our conversations thrilled him less than he may have hoped, at one point or another the talking ended and Ray took possession of my body. So why not move right along?

I thought for a moment and then offered him the first solution that came to mind, wrapped in a tone of cheerful optimism. “Maybe he’s just overworked. You’d probably get more out of him if he had help. Hire someone to take care of the little stuff, copies and filling and scheduling, so he can focus on the big stuff.”

I expected him to reject the idea out of hand, since somebody at Keegan’s pay grade probably already had at least one assistant, but Ray’s eyebrows arched and he let his wine sink down to his lap. “Hire someone,” he said slowly, finally looking at me.

Progress. This wasn’t quite the reaction I preferred–a narrow line had worked its way between his eyebrows–but he was thinking now instead bahis şirketleri of brooding.

I shrugged. “Why not?”

Ray said nothing, so I continued.

“Give him an assistant to get a few low level tasks off his plate, let him follow through on his designs without getting bogged down with minutiae. See how he does.” I waited, but still Ray said nothing. “Set him up to succeed,” I said, leaving off the end of the cliche. “If you’re so sure of his talent, if you want to maximize returns on your investment, give him an assistant.” I took a sip of wine to give him a moment to think it over.

Still nothing.

I glanced at Ray’s chest, realized he was staring at me, then looked up into his face. His expression was unreadable. His wine hung just below his chin, halfway to his pursed lips. He was waiting.

But waiting for what? What else could I say? I hadn’t thought the idea through completely, didn’t expect it to impress him. I was only hoping to move the conversation in a more productive direction.

And then I realized. ‘Hire someone,’ I had said.

He wasn’t waiting for more insight, for me to think the idea through–he was waiting for me to pitch myself.

I kept my face placid while I strung ugly syllables together in my head. In my impatience to skip to the moment when Ray would let me undress him, let me unwrap my prize for playing dress up and wading through his jargon, I’d pushed the moment farther away. Maybe even permanently, if he thought I was angling to take advantage of our relationship.

Asshole. Maybe he imagined I thought it was my due. In his mind had I just become the type who felt entitled to something because I moaned when he put his hands on me? Because I let him lick the sweat from my neck while he held my knees up by my ears?

I returned his flat stare.

“Promote Derek,” I said.

Ray’s expression, closed a moment before, cracked. I could see the wheels turning behind his eyes as he tried not to sound too surprised.


“Why not,” I said. “Take him off the front desk and give him a title. He’s smart, enthusiastic, capable. You like him almost as much as you like Keegan and he knows the firm.” I paused to drain my glass. “But he’s also young,” I said, “and eventually another opportunity will come along.” Leaning forward, I placed my wine on the table with a heavy clunk, sat back and returned his stare. “If you don’t give him a reason to stay, he’ll leave.” I tried to keep the edge out of my voice but couldn’t quite manage it.

I leaned back and rested my arms casually on the back of the couch, let my jacket fall open as I looked out over the city again. I had never spoken to Ray that way before. It felt good. I couldn’t decide it if the implied parallel was melodramatic or if it had gone over his head, but I’d said it and decided I was happy I had. I didn’t know Derek and I had no idea whether he would ever leave Ray’s company, but I might. Maybe. I didn’t need to be there. Didn’t need to keep coming back. His money meant nothing to me and I hadn’t set out to fuck may way into a job. He ought to know that. Ought to know me by now.

My irritation was deepening, curdling into anger and resentment, when Ray laughed. I barely had time to look up at him as he moved around the table–surged at me–and pinned me to the couch with his mouth. He tasted like wine and his stubble, scraping lightly, made his lips feel all the softer. He kissed with calm, focused intensity, opening my lips with his tongue.

I tried not to moan. He stood with his legs straddling my left knee and no part of his lean, muscled body touched mine, but he had me pinned as effectively as any wrestler. I lay under his power, legs spread, arms wide, locked in place by the demands of his mouth. A small part of me noted how quickly my anger disappeared into a faintly remembered shadow and I resented him again, but more than anything I just wanted him on me, wanted his weight, the heat of his skin, the kneading of his hands all over me.

When he pulled away and looked down at me from the height of a few inches, my lips remained parted and a feverish heat rolled through me.

“Well,” he said, his eyes flickering between mine, “it’s certainly a proposal worth considering.” He leaned forward again, kissed me with his wine soaked tongue and undid the clasp of my belt. He pulled it free with a whipping noise, then he stood and brought the bulge in his pants to my eye level.

“Take your jacket off,” he said, tossing my belt onto the chair where he had been sitting. “Let’s watch the last of the sunset while we finish our wine. I need to think on something.” He divided the last of the wine between us then walked to window, glass in hand.

Slightly bewildered, I watched him go. I couldn’t account for the shift in his attitude, but decided not to over think it. We’d watch the sunset, then we’d fuck. That’s all that mattered.

I stood and slipped out of my jacket, hanging it carefully on the back of Ray’s chair. As I moved to join Ray at the window I was still mostly clothed but already feeling half dressed without my belt. Anticipation pushed me forward and the hardness in my pants lead the way.

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