Monday, February 16, 2015
Prince of Eisengraf fromHot Steamy Shorts excerpt by Neil Plakcy
Hot Steamy Shorts
Neil Plakcy (January 2014)
The maître d’ took one look at Wolf, in his elegant, expertly tailored shirt and slacks, and me in my T-shirt and shorts, and spoke directly to him. But ever the gentleman, Wolf ushered me ahead of him as the maître d’ led us to a table. Or maybe he just wanted to look at my ass.
I couldn’t figure him out. Was he gay? Why would he have invited me to dinner if he wasn’t? Was he just lonely, a foreign businessman looking for company while he ate?
I expected him to order a bottle of fancy wine, but when the server arrived he ordered a Sea Dog raspberry wheat, and I said, “I’ll have the same.”
“You like beer?” he asked.
“Fruit beers and pale ales. Nothing too heavy. It’s too hot for lagers or porters.”
“I like a man who knows his tastes,” Wolf said. “You can recommend something from the menu?”
“Sorry, this is my first time. My budget stops at fast food these days.”
Europe, a bookseller is
an honorable profession,” he said. “But in America,
it seems most of the staff I have seen in bookstores have not yet outgrown
I laughed. “You must have been visiting the chain bookstores.”
“Yes. It is very hard to find … books of a unique character, without having to ask many staff.”
“You mean gay books.” I figured we’d get that word on the table right away.
“Yes, but also historical fiction, poetry—anything that is not on your best-seller lists.”
The server brought our beers, and without asking decanted them into tall pilsner glasses. Then he launched into a long dissertation on the specials, along with his personal recommendations for appetizers and entrees. Wolf sat there listening as if the waiter was the most important person in the world.
I couldn’t get over the prices. I’d never had a guy take me out to such an expensive restaurant before.
“Shall I order for you?” Wolf asked me.
He ordered us bowls of stone crab bisque, a pair of two-pound
Maine lobsters broiled
with spinach stuffing, and sides of hash browns and grilled tomatoes. “I have a
large appetite,” he said, and smiled at me, and I could only call the look on
his face wolfish.
I could eat for a week on what that meal cost. I hoped for his sake that Wolf had a good-paying job back in Eisengraf.
I picked up my beer, took a sip. It was good. “You said your family has been in Eisengraf for a long time,” I said. “So does that mean you’re related to the prince regent?”
“Actually, I am the prince regent. Though I’ve only had the title for a year and I’m not quite accustomed to it yet.”
I spit some beer back into the glass, nearly choking. Smooth move. “Excuse me? You’re the prince regent of Eisengraf?”
“Shh. I don’t like people to make a fuss.”
“You’ll forgive me,” I said. “I’m a little shell-shocked. I’ve never known an actual prince before.”
Wolf shrugged. “That’s why I am careful who I tell. People change.” He looked at me. “Will you change your attitude toward me?”
And just what was that attitude? I asked myself. I still thought he was cute, and I loved that sexy accent.
Though I wasn’t dense, I had been out of the dating pool for a while, and I struggled to figure Wolf out. Was he flirting with me? Every now and then our eyes would meet, and he would smile, and I’d feel a tingle run through my groin. But at the same time, he was so formal, so restrained.
We ordered coffee and dessert. Wolf seemed reluctant to let the evening end, and I was happy to stay with him. He intrigued me. And he made me feel things in parts of my body I thought had been put out of commission permanently.
By the time he asked for the check, I knew I would have to be the one to make a move. But how?
“I imagine that discretion must be very important to you,” I said, after he’d handed the waiter his black American Express card. “I know a lot of guys who would kiss and tell—but that’s not me. I know how to keep a secret.”
He quirked his eyebrows up but didn’t say anything. I plowed on. I was either about to embarrass myself or get Wolf into bed. But I couldn’t stop. “I live just a few blocks from the bookstore.” I lowered my voice and leaned toward him. “It’s not much, but it’s very private. If you wanted to take a walk up there with me, no one would have to know.”
Wolf’s body was as taut as a plucked violin string. I worried that I’d gone too far, that I’d get an icy no thank you. But then his shoulders eased, and he said, “I don’t get the chance to see much ordinary life,” he said. “I would like that. To come to your apartment. Very much.”
I smiled at him, and got a smile in return. Not the saturnine grin I had seen before, but something shyer. Sweeter. Oh, my, I thought.
There are fourteen stories in the e-book collection Hot Steamy Shorts. To purchase, for just $2.99, click