Monday, October 13, 2008

A Dangerous Man excerpt by Anne Brooke

The following is an additional excerpt from A Dangerous Man by Anne Brooke. Michael Jones, a young gay artist and part-time prostitute, will do anything to stage his first exhibition. When he falls in love with rich financier, Jack Hutchinson, he seems set to achieve his goal. But as Mikey becomes caught between the unforgiving territory of smoky-bar Hackney and the green-garden luxury of upper class London, we witness the intense mindscape of a man obsessed with his dreams as he attempts to free himself of his past.

When a net of antagonistic relationships and inner battles encroaches upon him, the consequences of Mikey’s uncompromising pursuit emerge in thrilling tragedy, leaving him having to fight for all he holds dear, and in the only way he knows how. Within a plot thick with the flesh of individual struggle, a backbone of page-turning tension carries Mikey’s plight through the charcoal grey London which rubs itself so close to his skin, entrapping him in a dark kaleidoscope of sex and crime.

At this stage in the novel, Michael is working as a commercial artist for Jack's City finance firm, and it's his last day there. Michael is crazy about Jack and is dreading the thought of not seeing him again. (The first excerpt was posted on 2/7/08).

A Dangerous Man
Flame Books (2007)
ISBN: 09545945-6-8


‘Last day then.’ Jack gave me a look I couldn’t interpret before running one elegant hand across the top of his highly polished desk. I wished I was that desk and then almost smiled at the thought, except the ability to smile at all seemed to have gone. This was the first time I’d seen him today. He’d been in bloody meetings all afternoon and now it was 6pm and not much time was left. Underneath my arm, I felt the throb of the drawing I’d done of him nestling in its case. All day I hadn’t been able to lose sight of it, all day I’d been wondering when the original would turn up and now he was here.

‘Yeah. I …I’ll be sorry to go.’

‘You’ve done a good job.’

‘Sure, thanks.’

‘No, I mean it. Thank you.’

He stared at me for a moment and I wondered if I looked as desperate as I felt. Maybe that was what was making him seem jumpy. Because that was what he was at the moment. Jumpy, edgy, in a way I hadn’t seen him act before. What the hell was happening now? I had to say something, anything to break the deadlock. God, Michael, sound professional and maybe he’ll recommend you again the next time someone wants some wall candy. But no, don’t think like that, it’s not wall candy, it would never be, even if it was only me who thought so. It’s my life, it’s my life, it’s my life.

‘Was there anything you wanted me to do before I go?’ I asked, knowing even as I said them that the words sounded stupid, out of place. ‘A last request, if you like. A final picture.’

And then I laughed, God knew why, and it didn’t sound like laughter anyway. The space between my laugh and his reply lengthened between us until I wondered if anyone would ever speak again. Or breathe, or move, or live. Not just here, where the silence was as strong as hatred, but outside, in the street, the whole of bloody London, the world.

‘Such as?’ he said at last when I thought I would die here, staring at him. ‘One of the offices?’

‘No. You. It wouldn’t take long. I’d make it a free one. Again.’

I saw him swallow. Once, as if swallowing down words he couldn’t bring himself to say. Then he turned round, looked at all his rich bloke possessions as if he hadn’t seen them before and gave half a shrug. ‘Where?’

‘On the sofa,’ I said, not because I’d planned it, but because if he were really going to give me the chance of drawing him as he was and not as how I remembered or imagined, then I’d need somewhere he could relax. Relaxed people, or people focused on something other than the artist, are easier to commit to paper.

He sat down. I took one of his chairs and sat opposite him, opening my pad to the first clean page. I would sketch him now and work it up later. I didn’t have the equipment for anything else. He fidgeted, shifting left and right, sitting straight and then swaying like a nervous elephant, as if the leather was burning him.

‘It’s okay, I don’t bite.’ Now I was the one in charge and it felt good to see him smile. ‘Just sit sideways, get a comfortable position and I’ll do a sketch. It won’t take long.’

He nodded and then rubbed his hands up over his face and through that dazzle of soft yellow hair. A quick movement, hardly worth the mention, but when it was finished, there was a mark on his face, a speck of dirt that hadn’t been there before.

‘Your cheek,’ I said, sweeping one finger across my own as a guide.


‘There’s a mark on your left cheek. If you could …?’

Without a word he passed one hand across his face again, but still the speck remained.

I shook my head, smiling. ‘No luck. Try again.’

He did, with the same result.

Still smiling, I stood up, dropped my paper and pencil on the seat behind me and walked towards him. ‘Here, let me.’

Bending down, I reached out to brush the imperfection from his skin, but instead my hand moved of its own accord to balance itself against the back of the sofa and I leant closer, using my tongue to lick him clean. His face tasted of salt and that herbal aftershave I couldn’t name. I took my time, drawing my tongue across his cheekbone almost to the level of his eye, which I noticed was closed. Then I stepped away, surprised at my own boldness.

‘There,’ I said. ‘All fine now.’

He said nothing.

Back behind my sketching pad, my fingers were trembling and I was unable to bring them under control. Neither could I breathe. For the next five minutes I couldn’t look at him once, not a great position for an artist to be in, and neither could I draw anything worthwhile. Thirty seconds into that time, I knew he wasn’t going to respond, that I’d read it all wrong, he wasn’t gay and I’d made myself into an idiot. Bloody, bloody hell. Why didn’t he say something? Was he simply being polite, pretending it hadn’t happened? Who was the mad, the dangerous one, him or me? My pencil scrawled strange lines I couldn’t interpret over the page and in the end I couldn’t stand it any more. Grasping the bottom of the page and angrier than I could remember being for a long time, I crumpled the paper and was about to tear it off when a hand was placed over mine.

His hand. I hadn’t even heard him get up.

At once, remembering the drawing which lurked underneath to give me away, as if I hadn’t already done that myself, I tried to pull the paper back down, to cover my own wild fantasies.

‘Here,’ he said. ‘Let me look.’

Wrestling the pad away from my grasp, he smoothed down my ruined drawing and turned his head to one side as he took it in.

‘Hmm, I can see why you’re not happy with it. Why don’t you have another go?’

Before I could stop him, he’d ripped the paper out and the drawing underneath, the naked, yearning drawing of him, the one I’d wanted him to see and not see, was exposed. Now, there was silence. Except I could hear the ticking of the clock and the distant sound of voices outside the room. They might as well have been in another universe. I turned away and put my head in my hands. He’d know now. He’d know everything. I’d thrown away any chance this job might have given me. He’d tell Joe what I’d done and I’d never get another commission. Anywhere. The world of art was a small one. Especially in this town. I wanted to throw up and it took a few deep breaths to deaden the feeling. I wished Jack would say something, anything. What was he doing? I mean it couldn’t have been every day he came across a naked drawing of himself or what I imagined he might look like naked. He’d know now that I thought about him every day and most of the bloody night too, week after week after week. Surely he’d see it all. He had to have some kind of response if it wasn’t going to be the one I’d longed for, didn’t he? Anger? Embarrassment? Dismissal?

But he still said nothing. I couldn’t bear it.

‘Look,’ I said. ‘I’m sorry. I’ll go. It was stupid, I know, but …’

‘Shut up.’

I shut up. When I glanced up at him, he was gazing at my drawing and his face was still. What was he thinking behind that beauty? I wanted to get up, run out of that room and away from my humiliation, but I felt too weak to move. Neither could I speak again.

In the end, it was he who broke the tension.

‘It’s good. Different. I wonder … I wonder how you think it compares.’

Then laying down the pad with its drawing of himself exposed to the warm inquisitive air, he turned and walked to the door, which he locked before sauntering back to the sofa, as if nothing had changed. My throat felt dry. He stretched once, muscles flexing under his dark blue silk shirt and then sat down. Without a word, he took off his shoes and socks, placed them at the edge of the rug, and began undoing his cufflinks. Not all the cash in the world could have made me look away. So I watched as he took off his shirt, folded it and laid it next to him. Next came the trousers and briefs, revealing his dick, still astonishingly limp, and a mound of fair curly hair. He was even more beautiful than in my fantasies or so I thought then. My throat felt tight and my own cock pushed against my jeans.

‘So,’ he said at last. ‘Do you want to make some alterations? To your drawing?’

‘What? Yeah, I mean sure.’

Even to myself, my voice didn’t sound like my own. He was crazy, he had to be. Just what the hell was going on? But I grabbed my pencil and, stealing glances at his body now and again, began to work up what I’d done: the length of his thighs which I’d foreshortened; and his large, bony feet. Another imperfection which, like his uneven teeth, somehow made me smile.

But not for long, because my mind was travelling elsewhere even as my hand skimmed over the page, adding a line here, a smudging there, a hint of more, and more delicious. And in the end I couldn’t keep going any longer.

‘Look,’ I said, dropping my pencil onto the floor and knowing my skin was burning hot. ‘This is crazy. I can’t concentrate, I just can’t. Don’t you see that?’

‘Yes,’ he said in a voice so low I had to strain to hear it. ‘I’m not blind. And I hope I’m not stupid, but how long are you going to make me sit here naked with you fully dressed and looking like …? God, Michael, how bloody vulnerable do I have to make myself before we can have sex?’

My head jerked up as if pulled by strings and this time there was no mistaking it. He was fully erect, quivering and dark purple. His blue eyes burned into my brown ones and the next second the sketchpad had tumbled to the floor and I was scrabbling at my own clothes, ripping off my polo-shirt and not caring about untidiness or anything else but the need to touch him.

Then he grabbed me and I tore at his skin as if I wanted to wear it or be worn by it, but he held me away for a moment. I wondered if he might kiss me. I’ve always liked kissing, though it’s not something breeders expect us to like. But what do they know? Smug bastards. Anyway he didn’t. Not then. Instead, he reached out and touched my neck with his fingers, stroking me and drawing his hand down my back, down and down and then slowly round to the top button of my jeans. Which he began to undo. I didn’t even think about asking if he’d be willing to pay. Such a question never entered my thoughts.

That was about as much foreplay as either of us could take that first time. Turning me round with a strength I couldn’t help but find exciting, he pushed me forward and across his desk, scattering papers, disks and files over the carpet, and I felt his legs shaking against mine. Just before he pulled down my jeans and briefs with one very practised manoeuvre, I managed to whisper, ‘Condoms … back pocket of jeans … use one.’

He did.

It was good. Not that surprising since I’d been dreaming about it for weeks. But it was so good that halfway through I forgot myself and cried out, something I tried never to do - as if you enjoy it, it always upset the punters. The noise made him reach forward and jam his hand against my mouth where I sucked and bit at his fingers.

After he’d fucked me, he removed the condom with experienced ease and placed it in his bin, covering it with my ruined drawing. We said nothing, but as he began to put his clothes back on, I could hear the tremor in his breathing. At the same time I tried to stand up from the desk. My jeans were still round my ankles and my knees felt weak.

‘Why don’t you sit down?’ he said at last.

I shook my head, not sure if I was capable. I was trembling. He helped me dress again, his smooth fingers touching my skin and making me jump as he slid my shirt over my neck. After that I sat down, carefully, on his sofa.

Looking up at him, I realised that his fingers were bleeding from where I’d bitten them, and blushed at my own violence.

‘I’m sorry,’ I said. ‘Your fingers - they’re hurt.’

He glanced at them as if he’d been unaware of it, ‘Don’t worry about me, I’m fine.’

Then he smiled.

‘So, would you like to go for a drink?’ he said.

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