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reclaiming austin

Chapter Eighteen

January 11 2006 (originally published September 2005)

That Monday Austin came home from work while I was doing bills on the computer, he said he was taking me out for dinner and that he wanted me to go look at something-but wouldn't tell me what. I was working so I didn't look up when he came in the room, but the way he kept modeling in front of the mirror just caught my attention, I finally looked up and...

"What did you do?" I asked as I saw his new haircut.

He grinned, "It's called a Caesar; do you like it?" I stood up and went over to feel it. "Yeah, I mean, I loved your old hair too, but yeah, this looks hot... But hell, what wouldn't you look hot in?"

"Can't you ever just say 'yes' or 'no'???" Austin asked rolling his eyes and swatting my hands away.

I stuck my tongue out and said "Sure 'Michael' whatever you say!"

"Bitch!" He said as he stuck his tongue out at me before going to change into a brick red jersey and faded denim jeans.

Thirty minutes later we were eating at a Japanese restaurant in Orange City. I was slowly teaching Austin how to use chopsticks and how to eat Sushi. He mostly ate Tempura.

"Ok, after dinner I want to take you somewhere. And I don't want you to freak out. Promise?" Austin asked over a tempura shrimp.

"Nooooo, not before I know what we're doing and where you're taking me."

"We'll go after dinner, just promise me you won't embarrass me please!" Austin said with a sexy grin.

I just gave him a scowl and purposefully ate a spicy tuna roll.

"Hey, if you can make me eat raw fish on faith, I think I deserve a little credit here." He said taking my last spicy tuna roll and crunching up his nose as he popped it in his mouth.

"Ok, good point." I said tipping my red ball cap to him.

After he paid and left a handsome tip, he drove us to a seedier area and stopped in front of a tattoo parlor, I just turned and gave him a quizzical "are you serious?" look. He smiled at me and said "Come on!" with a lot of enthusiasm. I had no idea what to think, I certainly hadn't thought of this before.

Inside Austin was talking in "straight" talk to the guy behind the counter; a tall skinny bearded longhaired guy with more tattoos then a yakuza ganglord. I looked at the walls and tried to listen to their conversation. Finally the guy told Austin to go sit in the chair while he went in the back.

"Ok, what the hell are you doing?" I asked as much confused, as I was weirded out.

"Relax baby, I don't expect you to get one, I know they kinda hurt, but... you won't mind will you?" He asked with his big blues sparkling away at me.

"No, as long as it's not on your face or too big I guess not." I said smiling... I knew I could slip from sarcasm to bitchy real fast and was trying to stop this from happening.

The guy came back in and looked over at me without expression, "Alex, this'll take about two or three hours, why don't you go find something to do while we do this." I looked at Austin to see what he wanted and he just nodded that I could leave. So with a lot of apprehension, I went over to Phil and Korma's since they had moved in together. On the way over I wondered how that guy knew my name.

They were glad to see me and I came in and had a beer while we talked about the upcoming bachelor party.

"Alex, I know you're kinda in charge of this party, I want you to promise that you won't let him get too drunk or let anything happen with a girl, ok?" Korma asked after we'd been talking.

"Girls??? Honey, this is a bachelor party, what makes you think they'll be any girls?" I said screwing up my face.

"Well, it's traditional." She said giving Phil, who was laughing, a stern look.

"Honey, if there are any girls there I promise Phil won't be interested." I said with a grin.

"Why not?" She asked a little confused.

"Cause they'll probably be hung better then me." Phil interjected with perfect delivery. We all gotta good laugh.

"So either of you know what Austin's doing at the tattoo parlor?" I asked them. They both shrugged and said no. So we chatted and Phil told us about meeting Austin and Joe and Nathan in Junior high school. Phil was the spazzy brains, Nathan was the badboy, Joe was the comic and Austin was the jock who was always in trouble and charming his way out with his good looks. He told us about all the trouble they'd gotten into and how the teachers had devised plans to keep them apart. He told us about when they hit High School and Nathan introduced them to pot he'd scored from his big brother, Phil began distancing himself from them then, except he and Austin used to go surfing on weekends. Then Phil met Dan and they kind of drifted apart.

I finally said goodbye and hugged them both, and went back to find out what my badboy boyfriend was doing to himself. On the way over I realized that between the Seattle Scene and a new boyfriend, I had stopped having much of a social life and realized it was nice just dropping in on friends. Since it appeared as though my relationship, however weird it was, had become stable, I figured it was time that Austin and I began visiting.

As I arrived at the tattoo parlor, the guy who ran it was nowhere to be seen, but Austin was sitting there in a barber style chair with a cotton towel over his bicep.

"Hey you." He called over with a grin.

"Whatchya doing Mr. Secretive?" I shot back with a smirk as I walked over planning to see what he'd had done.

"It's not a secret, it woulda been except Donno told me it would take a few more session to finish this." Austin said as he lifted his towel and I saw some blood and a red arm.

"Well hell, I coulda bloodied your arm up for you if that's what you wanted." I said smartly.

"Look closer." Austin said.

There, beneath the blood and puffiness in beautiful script surrounded by Celtic knots, was unmistakably; "ALEX". I choked up and looked from it to his sparkling saphires several times before my throat would work, "Austin, what?????" I stuttered not understanding what he was saying or what this gesture, this permanent gesture meant.

"It means I love you ya big dambass, it means that... even if for some reason I screw up and we can't always be together, that I'll always carry you with me; unashamed and proud." He caught the tears welling in my eye so he quickly added,

"Or that I'll have to date girls named Alexis the rest of my life."

I looked at him as this giant bubble of emotion swelled up in me and as I looked into his smiling face he said "Don't you cry on me now, don't you dare embarrass me asshole." Of course he was smiling and teasing as he said this, but I knew he'd be embarrassed so I just gasped out, "I'll go wait in the Jeep." And I almost ran out as the tears ran down my face. I sat on the passenger's side as I always did when Austin was with me.

We drove for a few minutes before either of us said anything, I finally asked, "What does this mean Austin? I mean what were...ARE you saying?"

"It means, that I know you've been worried about me going out and meeting women, or..." he shrugged, "I don't know, maybe even another guy... And I'm not so good with words, not like you are, I don't sing, can't sing really. And I wanted to do something to show you that..." He paused as we pulled up to a light, "That I'm serious, that I'm committed. And despite what Phoebe told you, I don't see myself going out and cheating on you."

"Can I cry now?" I asked through welled up tears and a choked up voice. "Yeah baby, go for it." He said reaching over and holding my knee.

"Why the tattoo though?" I asked later on.

"Well, I've been looking at these other body builders and some of the club guys at the Parliament house, and tattoos seem to be kinda in, and some of them look pretty hot. And since I'm your leather wearing badboy... I just got ta thinking..."

""I like it." I said smiling over at him.

"Yeah, Thought you might."

"So, you want me to get a tattoo?" I asked suddenly thinking of it.

"Only if you want to, I mean, I know you won't cheat on me."

"Oh? I asked curious, "How's that?"

"Easy, on one hand you know if I ever caught anyone on my property, I'd beat them so bad with my slugger you'd need a wet vac to clean them up."

I smirked, I knew he was only half joking, but I also knew there was no need to worry. And I knew without having to ask him that he would indeed go all hulk-like at anyone assuming his position.

"And the other hand?" I asked.

"And on the other hand I take a magic marker every night after you go to sleep and write, "This is the property of Austin Camble, so back off!"" across your ass.

And we both laughed and carried on the rest of the way home.

After a particularly acrobatic and intense "work out" that night, we lay in bed, me cradled in his massive arms, feeling his chest hair on my back and relishing the goatee his boss had given him permission to grow as long as he kept it neat.

"Alex, can I ask you a... weird question?"

"Sure baby, what?" I said as I took his hand in mine and wrapped it further and tighter around myself.

"How do I... I mean, DO I do it for you? Am I any good or are you just..." He was stuttering and I couldn't help rolling my eyes.

"You mean, HOW do you compare to Jason?"

"Well, kinda, but I mean, all of them, to the guys who've been gay longer."

"Well answer me this, which of your girlfriends was the absolute best sex?" I asked hoping to get him to see how silly his question was.

"Well.... You! And then... well... maybe, Sarah. She gave pretty good head." He said with no thought or hesitation.

"God I love you!" I said as I rolled over to kiss him.

"Listen," I said "Each guy I've been with, I mean for any time, not just one night stands, has brought a different set of skills and strengths to the table, including Jason, he was a passionate and very smooth lover, but honey, who am I with? Who does everyone we know, KNOW I should be with? Who has made me cum hands free? Who can give me an aching erection with just a small glance and a half smile?" I asked him warmly. Because of the dark, I couldn't read his face.

"There's no comparison Austin! It doesn't matter if your one inch or seventeen inches, there is so much more to you that has me walking on clouds. If you were paralyzed, god forbid, from the neck down; you could fuck me with your eyes and smile and I'd still be yours, as long as you'll want me." I said, running my fingers though his hairy chest.

"So you're not upset cause I'm not... experienced?" He asked earnestly.

"EXPERIENCED??? Austin, Jesus fucking Christ, you've done me in positions I've never heard of, you've talked me into stuff I'd never, ever, ever, ever have done with anyone else... Baby, you're sexual... repertoire is amazing, your enthusiasm and passion and wild imagination... God! Your appetite is insatiable!!! Baby, I keep feeling I'm holding you back."

"Nooooo, Alex, I never felt that way, I think of you as my teacher... Like all I do is try to find new ways to please you" I could hear his doubt dissipating, his ego had been stroked and his insecurities banished. Tops and straight men.... God help me they have delicate egos.

"You do baby, all the time." I said as I snuggled closer.

"So you're not... you know, Comparing me against your old girlfriends?" I asked curious as I snuggled into his arm pit.

"Hell no... well, no, not really" He said oblivious thinking of something.

"BUT..." I offered.

"Well, I uh... I kinda liked how they were always depending on me... I liked feeling important, like they needed me." He said softly, trying not to upset me.

"Austin, I want that too, I need that too... but, with everything you went through, I had to take control, I had to..." I stopped, not knowing where to go.

"I know Alex, and I'll never be able to repay what you've done... But,... I need... NEED to stop relying on you like you were my parent or something." We were both quiet a few minutes lost in thought, but pressing against each other and caressing each other.

"We need to get a place that belongs to both of us, and not just me, don't we?" I asked.

"Hadn't really thought of that, but it might help," Austin said softly brushing my hair from my eyes. "I think I just need to start doing more, to bring in more money, cause we sure can't afford to move nowhere on what we make now." I kissed him on the lips and relaxed in his big arms, "Funny, I'm fucking fine with where 'I' am right now." I got a kiss then a warm, "Mmmmmm" in response.

"And Austin, if it helps, the one time I was defenseless you were there, I don't need defending from physical stuff, guys don't scare me, but words, nasty little queens, assholes who want to pray on my emotions, that's my weakness. And when that guy at the P-house made fun of me, you were a raging tiger and I never felt so... protected in my entire life. Honey, all those years of being picked on and teased did two things, it forced me to find a way to defend my body, and it left big insecurities... I need your protection for those more then any girl has needed her honor defended. Ok?" I asked

"Yeah baby, and thanks." Austin said beaming.

We were quiet a few minutes when Austin gently rolled me on to my belly, I was about to say something when he started giggling,

Then I felt his finger tracing something on my ass and he softly said, "This is the property of Austin Camble..." Then we both started laughing.

Wednesday after I got home I found Austin and Mrs. Tremere in our kitchen cooking away at some chicken in a cream sauce dish that smelled amazing. I was sitting on a stool bantering with them when I got a phone call.

"Alex?" It was Natasha.

"Yes Love, what can I do you for?" I responded glibly.

"I need to ask your permission before I do something. I know it's a big deal so I want your permission first."

"What is it?" I asked my curiosity totally peaked.

"Well, on the weekends, our lead male dancer slash stripper just quit. And I was thinking that since you're so busy at the Seattle scene..."

He didn't finish, he didn't have to, it was obvious he was thinking of Austin, I mean hell, who wouldn't? But I also knew his reason for asking me, for giving me the permission to ask him. Gay bars could be a war zone for the uninitiated and the unprepared. And the better looking you are, the crazier it can be. As if reading my mind, Natasha went on,

"Honey, I know you're apprehensive, but you know I'll take care of him, I wouldn't let Jake hurt you and I sure as shit wouldn't let Austin get in any trouble. And baby, the pay will be good, and he can make a killing on tips."

I was quiet a second before saying, "You promise me you'll keep him out of trouble?"

"Alexander, nothing goes on that I don't find out about, no one scores, no one hooks up, no one farts without someone telling me. I know EVERYONE that works there and all the regulars. Trust me, Austin won't piss without me knowing about what colour it is. And I'll put out the word that he's off limits."

"I just don't know Natasha, He's so new, and so young."

"Who's so young?" Austin said from the bedroom door with a mock scowl.

"You are, you're a fucking gay tadpole!" I said back to him as I got hit with a pillow.

"I need to know today Alex, we have to find someone before this weekend, they need to train." Natasha said in my ear. I closed my eyes and my head swirled as I tried to figure out what to do, finally I said,

"Austin, Natasha wants to talk to you; she needs to ask you something." And I handed him the phone and went out to the kitchen to get a beer and talk to Mrs. Tremere.

"So, Austin tells me you want to move." Mrs. Tremre said stirring the sauce.

"If we can find a place we can afford and maybe a little closer to Orlando." I said sighing, then smiling.

"With a mother in law apartment of course, that'll be the selling point." I said quickly, She laughed her hardy laugh and waved me away dismissively.

"You are an incorrigible young man, this you know, yes?" She laughed. I just smirked and reached a finger in to touch the sauce for a quick taste.

"No fingers!" She said sternly swatting at my quickly disappearing hand as I ran to the other side of the counter.

"So what is this phone call that has you upset and your boyfriend so excited?" She asked. She knew to ask this because his voice was very loud and he'd whooped and hollered a few times. And let's face it I was as hard to read as a stop sign.

I made a face, "Austin's being offered a job dancing and stripping at the Parliament House down in Orlando." I said obviously not happy.

"And this bothers you Mon Cher?"

"It worries me, Austin has been so protected since we've been together, the guys at the club will see this stunning guy, with a magnetic personality and a tight ass and they'll..."

"Dear," She said stepping up to me and placing a hand over mine.

"While I have no doubt that there is plenty for Austin to be careful of, I think you must have a certain amount of faith that he will be man enough to do what is right."

I thought of his taking drugs, of eating up attention, and his desire to make more money then me, I could see any one of these leading him down a path away from me.

"Faith Mon Cher, in your boyfriend and, maybe also, in love."

"Oh my GOD, ALEX!!!! Can you believe it???" An overly excited Austin bellowed as he ran in and hugged me and spun me around. "We can start looking for a new place now! Can you believe it???"

I really tried to be happy, I tried to burry my worries but my smile wasn't convincing. "Yeah, that's great Baby, now we both have jobs here and there, performing." I said smiling.

"Ok, what the hell's wrong then... I thought this was great news, why am I getting the "Go ahead and go out with your buddies" message my girlfriends used to give me when they didn't mean it?

"I will go get the bread and tea from my apartment boys, you need to talk." Mrs. Tremere said as she went to our door.

"Honey, I have all the faith I could possibly have in you, I don't trust the predators that hang out in gay bars though, I'm scared they'll see you, realize you're new, and eat you alive." I said trying to smile up at him.

"Austin, Natasha already told me how you felt, and she said that we should go there tomorrow night so she could take us around to meet everyone at the bar before work and she'd convince us both that it would be safe." He said holding my hand in his.

"Besides" Austin grinned, "Not only would you be dating a male stripper, which is kinda like dating an underwear model," He added with a knowing look, "BUT, I'd be eligible to play on the P-house gay softball team then." He said this with a puffed out chest a hint of an evil "I'll wipe the ground with those other teams," grin.

"Ok," I sighed as I relented, "We'll go see Natasha tomorrow."

"I'm not gonna fuck up what we have baby, I haven't looked at another fucking person since I've met you. Well, I have, but... only to see what I want to do to make myself better and more attractive," He said fingering his unfinished tattoo. "Alex, I never had that with anyone before, I always felt I was talking what was available and looking for something better." He said pulling me close and wrapping his anaconda like arms around me.

"I love you Austin Camble," I mumbled in his sweet smelling chest.

"I know, now will you do something for me?" He asked warmly.

"Anything baby..."

"Go set the table, the Chicken just started to bubble." He said reaching over to stir the sauce.

"Yes Sir!" I said knowing what kind of reaction I was going to get.

"Yeah Baby, THAT's what I'm talking about!" Austin bellowed proudly behind me. I smiled in anticipation of what his debauched mind was already cooking up.

Dinner was fabulous, but just to be a brat I looked over at Mrs. Tremere and told her how wonderful it was, even though she had barely helped.

I played innocent when Austin gave me a knowing and intense glair, I was pushing it and everyone at the table knew it. Mrs. Tremere just laughed of course.

I knew Austin was wound up; I could look at him and see that even his eyes had erections. I twitched in my seat knowing he was going to be all... Bad boy when we were alone.

As Mrs. Tremere was leaving, she turned to me and said, "You do such a good job of winding that poor boy up, thank god I won't be home tonight." I was suddenly intrigued as she was always at home at night. But as I started to ask her what she meant she waved me off and said I had other concerns at the moment. I wanted to ask her all about it, but I felt Austin's hand on my shoulder.

"Yeah, hon?" I asked as I turned to face him. With his most serious face, he said, "Ok, strip, and hand me your clothing." I was about to protest when he suddenly and loudly said, "NOW!" I know my ass clenched involuntarily, and I was sure he had an erection already. God almighty, his eyes were just dazzling. But wordlessly I began to strip. My heart beating on double speed in anticipation of whatever he was planning.

When I stood before him naked, feeling very vulnerable, he just looked me over then said, "Clean up the table and the kitchen, all of it. You have 20 minutes. When you're done knock on the bedroom door and wait."

Austin was having a serious hard on to be the badass daddy bear, and I really liked it when he was being a badass.

23 minutes later I knocked on the door. "You're late!" he called out as I heard the VCR click off. "Sorry, the pan was really hard to..." "I don't want excuses, get your ass in here and prepare for your punishment."

"Yes Sir" I said as I entered the room. As I suspected, he was decked out in his leathers and had a few things piled on the bed. These included my collar, handcuffs, a few leathery things, and links of chain at the head of the bed. I was stunned, and looked up to his eyes, worried about what he was planning. All he did was hold my gaze and say "Trust me!" So I nodded my apprehension palpable.

Austin fixed my collar on, as he'd done a lot since we'd bought it. He then took my hands firmly and placed them in cuffs behind my back. I was then blindfolded; he hadn't done that before. "You excel at causing trouble." I opened my mouth to plead innocence, but he put a finger to my lips and said, "No, no talking till I say, understand?" "Yes Sir."

Austin made a Tsk tsk tsk sound of disappointment. "I didn't give you permission to talk," Austin said as he took my arm and moved me towards the bed. I was moved down and pulled across his knees. Then I felt his hands roaming over my body, paying particular attention to my ass, I knew what coming, and I was embarrassed that I was already getting hard.

"Come on Austin, let me up please?" I begged. I felt his hand leave and return to my ass with great force, I grunted in surprise and wanted to talk but I was already getting spanked for that. After every swat, which really weren't very hard, he caressed and smoothed his hands over my ass.

"God, what a perfect ass!" Austin said appreciatively as he smoothed a hand over my cheeks.

A few more open handed swats and he lifted me up suddenly and laid me on the bed. How he could take an act like spanking and wearing leather, and make it tender, and loving, was a tribute to his honest nature, and my trust in him. I acted nervous just for the dramatic effect, but he knew I loved it and I knew he knew this. So I wasn't concerned when he chained my hands over my head and my feet to the footboard. I wasn't concerned when he sat at my side and smiled down at me with an evil smirk. I was only mildly concerned when he grinned down at me and asked, "You know I love you right?"

But I was in hell when he took a finger and wiggled it in my armpit and dragged it slowly down my side to tickle me. And from there it got worse, and no matter how much I yelled or pleaded or struggled, he just wouldn't stop tickling me. I bucked and laughed and squealed and panted and finally when no more sound was coming from me and he became worried that I'd pee on the bed, so he'd stop. And a minute later, after talking sweetly to me, he'd move his fingers to my feet and start all over. After he was done, hours and hours later (well, maybe 30 minutes) he made me promise on Gloria Gaynor that I wouldn't get him back after he'd released me.

As he stripped and climbed into bed beside me and snuggled close, he wrapped me in his massive arms and made me glad I was so much smaller then him.

"You learn your lesson now?" Austin asked as he nuzzled my ear.

"Nope." I said as I pressed back against him.

"Good boy!" he said very pleased before rolling on top of me.

The next day we came home from work and changed and headed down to Orlando. Austin had already called Michael and told him to meet us at Little Saigon. He had called Ryan and Michael too but they were busy.

My spider senses were going wild as soon as we saw Michael sitting there waiting for us, SMIliNG! Now he had several faces I had come to expect anytime he was expecting me, bored, impatient, mad, pissed, and let's not forget sarcastic bitch face, but smiling??? Something was intrinsically wrong with Michael smiling; it was like a rabbit chasing a fox or a statue shitting on a pigeon.

"All right, who'd you run over?" I asked as I sat down opposite Michael. Michael stuck his tongue out at me and sneered a minute. "Shut up, why are you always trying to ruin my good moods?" he said a lot less snappy then his usual retorts.

"Michael, dear, love of my life, YOU don't have good moods, so what's up?" I asked. Austin started to laugh before singing "Michael's got a boyfriend, Michael's got a boyfriend!" When Michael did this coy blushing thing, I was totally freaked out, I never in the entire time I knew Michael, knew he was capable of being coy or blushing. Or that Austin was savvy enough to pick up on what this meant.

"Ok, so spill it, I want to hear every detail!" I said as Austin motioned for Julie to come over.

"It's still too early to know how it's going, but..." Michael gave me an odd look I didn't understand. "Let's just say I'll tell you everything once I know what's going on, ok?"

I was about to push for more info when Julie came over smiling, "Hello Alex, Michael, Austin, How are you boys today?" We talked a few minutes and then Julie went off to pick up our summer rolls and drinks, she knew as soon as she saw us what we were ordering and so placed the order before we even sat down.

"So Austin, you're going to be a lap dancer huh?" Michael asked between bites.

"Only for you big guy," He teased back.

"Hey!" I protested.

"Shut up Alex, if he wants to dance for me that's his choice." Michael interjected.

"Like hell it is!" Austin laughed as he nudged me playfully. "I gotta go get permission to shake this grove thang when we leave here." He said smiling sideways at me.

"Alex, stop being such a bully." Michael said in uncharacteristically passive terms.

"Ohhh, I gotta meet the man that has you all blushing and coy." I teased as I finished dipping my summer roll in peanut sauce before popping it in my mouth.

Michael gave me a weird look and then rolled his eyes, "freakin drama queen!"

So we bantered and Austin told Michael about our starting to look for a new place and about Ryan and Michael's impending wedding. After dinner Michael said he had to go and meet the new guy for dinner plans. It was weird seeing him so... sooo... attentive to somebody else? I wasn't sure yet what was going on, but my antennae were tingling.

So Floppy, (god he hated that name) and I went over to the Casa del P-house to see Natasha.

"Well, well, well, if it ain't Bullwinkle and his flying squirrel." Natasha said only half in her costume so far.

"Hey Rocky, watch while I pull a faggot out of my hat!" I said as I put my hand on her head.

"DAMN I'm good!" I said as I spun around and sat on Austin's lap in her chair.

"Honeycakes, don't make me stuff you in my bra." Natasha said fixing her wig on. Finally she turned to find us kissing.

"Will you two cut it the hell out, y'all look like somethi'n Norman Rockwell woulda painted if he were rolling on X." Natasha teased.

"Hmmm," I said, "Tom of Finland by night and Norman Rockwell by day," I then arched my eyes playfully at Austin who was laughing.

"Darling," she said to Austin, "Why don't you go find Quin and ask him to show you the costume room and what I picked out for your number tonight, then change and come on back while your wife and I talk?" It wasn't a request, it was an order, and he laughed at me being called his wife as he went.

"Now, are you really ok with this or should I keep looking for a permanent male lead?" Natasha asked me.

"You know what I'm scared of hon, he thinks its all games and that everyone will respect him because of his size, he can't believe that there are more people like that asshole in Gainesville out there... or even just creeps who want to seduce him away." I said folding my arms over my chest.

"He will, and sooner then you might think, he'll have me around him most of the time he's here, and I've already spread the word among all other employees that we treat Austin like a kid brother, a 'married' kid brother. Cause Alex, honey, after all the work I done getting you away from that faggot Jake, I ain't about to let anyone else hurt you. I'll teach him all about the people and crowds and who he can trust and who he can't... But Alex, I gotta tell you, I don't think you have a damn thing to worry about with him, I wish to hell I had a boy looking at me the way he does you. Chirst Almighty!" Natasha said standing up to fix her eye make-up.

"I know," I said blushing, "like I said, it isn't him or you I'm worried about."

"Honey, you just let someone think they'll get away with picking him up in my club, before he can punch their lights out I will be on them like a whole mess of angry bees with hangovers and bad hair!" She said slipping further and further into her gospel roots and picking up on that Martin Luther King Cadence when she proclaimed her beliefs.

"Ok, OK," I said laughing and holding up my hands in surrender. "Just make sure he gets the tips first!"

"Whoring your boyfriend, you ain't right you little Pimp daddy!" Natasha teased.

"Hey, we gotta find a place and we'll need more money to do that." I laughed.

Natasha turned around and looked at me with an 'ohhh I got a great idea!' look crossing her face. "Honey, tell mama what you're looking for."

"Well, we want to find a place that's 'ours' and not just mine. And also something a little closer to Orlando, DeLand is just too damn far to drive all the time." I said.

"So what about College Park, would that be too far?" She asked with an arched eyebrow.

"College park??? Honey, we're talking about renting, we can't afford college park, hell, we can't afford to rent a front porch in college park." I said

"That ain't what I asked, what I need to know is if it would be a good spot for you?" She asked again, I knew she was getting at something, and I knew she had a plan, but damn if I could see where she was going.

"The only thing, aside from price then, is that our weekday jobs are in Deland still, and though it would be nicer going against the I-4 traffic jam, that's still a bit of a ride."

"Honey, if you lived in College Park, you could get a thousand better paying jobs than you can find in DeLand, or just transfer your damn bank job down here, they only have fifty thousand branches down here."

"And we come back to the affording problem again unless you're planning to let us move in with you and Cole."

"Good GOD no!" She said turning to face me with her hands on her hips. "But that mother in law bungalow out back is gonna be empty soon, Rachel and Ronda are moving to Portland or somewhere all Birkenstocky. Cole was gonna put it up for rent again, but I'm sure we could work something out; plenty of room for a couple." She sang in her deep alto.


"Wanna come over tomorrow and see it?" She asked. I was... flabbergasted,

"Are you serious? Of course I want to see it, Jesus H Christ!"

"Yeah, it's not nearly as nice as what Cole and I have now, but it's not like I'd throw you in a shit hole." She said with a laugh. "What do you pay for rent now?"

"Six forty five a month."

"Hmmm, well I'll have to talk it over with Colie, the girls were paying twelve hundred a month." Natasha said, I choked and looked at her with huge eyes.

"Well obviously I'll get you a better deal, probably eight a month until you can afford more. Sound good so far?"

"Hell yeah! Natasha, I-I can't even believe this."

"Honey, who ALWAYS takes care of you when you need help?"

"My big sister." I said grinning

"That's right baby." She said giving me her Diva face before she checked her rouge.

"Ummm, Nate, could you not tell Austin about it just yet?" I asked softly. She turned to look at me suspiciously.

"I know he ain't the sharpest crayon in that box, but don't you think he'll realize you're not coming home after a while? Besides, you know how bad an idea secrets are don't you?"

"It's not like that; I'm thinking... this might make an awesome Christmas present." I said grinning like I'd won the lottery.

"Oooooh, you got the Devil in you Alex Camble!" I grinned as she'd used Austin's last name.

"Oh that's for sure Mrs. Natasha." I said in my best southern cadence.

"What's for sure?" Austin said coming back in the room.

"That your wife's a nasty she devil!" Natasha said grinning at me.

"Ohhh, that's DAMN sure right! You should see him acting all Jezebel and shaking his ass at me." Austin said as he came into view, wearing a black cowboy hat, no shirt, insanely tight jeans, and boots. My heart stopped, my eyes bulged, and our eyes locked.

"Wow!" was all I could gasp out.

"You like it huh?" He said coyly tipping his bat back a bit as if it were part of his everyday attire. I just nodded affirmatively. He grinned and cocked his head boyishly to the side.

"Alex, you better leave till we go on later, I don't wanna clean up this dressing room after the two of you go all bucking bronco sex maniac on me." Natasha said though she was equally transfixed on him, he of course was devouring our looks.

"Uummm, yeah, I gotta go talk to Henna and Jorge for a little while anyways, I'll be back after practice so I can uhhh..." I hesitated as he undid his top button while staring at me suggestively with a smile just this side of pure seduction.

"Protect him form the crowd?" Natasha offered.

"No!" I said making a face at her, "tease him till he rapes me." I said as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. Then I got up and went to Austin for a kiss.

"So I should wear this home?" Austin asked as he scooped me up for a kiss.

"Just the hat," I said after he'd kissed me. "We are so going to have to get you a few of those." I said weakly as he gently set me down and I left all air-headed and disoriented. The two of them laughed at my awkward departure.

Fifteen minutes later I was at the Seattle Scene drinking an Iced Latte talking to Henna as Jorge wasn't there yet.

"Ok Henna, what's going on? Why'd you call me this morning?"

"Well, several reasons, we need to talk about a contract between the Tellers and this shop, and I want to start offering you more money for playing, I also wanted to tell you that Jason is back in town and he was asking about you." She said this carefully to see how I'd react.

"I've been thinking about him a lot Henna, I don't know if I'll grow out of it, or just have to learn to live with it, but I still feel awful about how everything ended... Even Austin feels bad for Jason."

"I don't know what to tell you, it was a crazy situation... but Jason told me he's the one who made you go see Austin. Anyway Alex, I just wanted to tell you he was back and he was checking on you..." She said with a warm smile.

"Now, let's talk contracts awhile..." She continued as she got out a legal pad.

Although I had no authority to sign anything as the group hadn't talked about a "leader" or a manager for the group yet, I did talk things out and had a tentative plan worked for the other to look at this weekend. Basically, we were bound to eight nights a month, which would be the normal weekends we worked now or if we got more business, which was looking very likely, we'd do some combination of those nights with the option for more if we wanted.

Our popularity and show presence was such that Henna and Jorge were already looking at expanding, either building onto their place, or possibly buying a new place with more room. The Tellers had already done three weddings and a birthday party, and we were turning down Christmas jobs as we were already booked solid through New Years.

At nine o'clock I went back to the P-house and got in free, as Natasha had made sure the doorman knew me. I didn't want to disturb Austin or Natasha so I got a drink and wondered around till the show started at ten. It was a typical drag show and I was basically bored except when Natasha would come out and do comedy and harass the audience. That was until a short white drag queen named Jasmine La'Tour came out in a flannel country girl garb and started doing a Reba number, and at her chorus Austin strode out with his body oiled, his jeans unbuttoned partially, his black cowboy hat pushed back on his head, and his smile plastered across his face. My god he was just a totally stunning man! I got a huge thrill knowing this man, this cowboy icon, was going home with me and that regardless of all the men here, I was the guy he was smiling at.

They did a coy teasing and backing away routine and finally as the song ended Jasmine fell in his arms. Both of them had done quite well tip wise.

At the end of the show Natasha came out and introduced the other Drag queens and then said, "And replacing our former lead male Paulo, and coming to our aid is a personal friend and a truly stunning man, please help me in welcoming former amateur strip winner Austin Camble to our stage and to our happy little dysfunctional family." And Austin walked out still in his cowboy get up with his thumbs stuck in belt loops and his face all smiles and blushes. And the audience gave him a loud round of approval.

A while later as I danced by myself in the club area, a tall guy came from behind and starting grinding his crotch into my ass. "My boyfriend's gonna kick your ass!" I said loudly over my shoulder. "He should keep better track of you then!" Austin said in my ear as he bent over and wrapped his arms around me and stood up spinning me around. Finally he sat me down and spun me around to pick me up in a big kiss. He was still wearing the cowboy hat.

"Sooo, uhhh, you wanna stay and dance ooorr..." Austin was saying in a teasing tone as he gave me a knowing look and smile and ran his finger from my collar down my chest.

"Race you to the jeep!" I said as I darted past him and dodged my way through the crowd. I ran right out of the building and heard Austin laughing as he ran up and smacked my ass as his long legs took him past me, then he stopped suddenly and turned to look at me.

"Ok, where the hell's the Jeep?" He asked grinning.

I walked up and grabbed his arm and slung it over my shoulder and lead him to the jeep. "Come on cowboy, I've got a job for you back home."

"You gotta Filly needs taming?" He said in his best southern drawl.

"Nope, but I'm hoping you'll put some posts in a hole I have... Ohhh, and I have this Colt that's just impossible to handle..."

As he swung into the driver's seat, Austin looked over at me with a wink and tipped his hat back as he smiled. "Well, hells bells! That sounds like a job right up my alley."

"Hmmm, I was hoping it was gonna go right up my alley..." I said absent mindedly, I didn't look, but I knew the jeep suddenly picked up speed on the drive home.

Austin screwed me that night on the table, on the couch, on our bed, on the floor, and in the chair in our room... And sure enough, it actually bruised my ass and the next day, I was both dragging tired, and walking funny. James and Marika wouldn't let up on me all day.

Later I called Austin and told him I was going to practice then drove down to see Natasha, it was funny to see Natasha outside the club, he was unsure whether to go all drag all the time, or to dress as a man between performances... so he compromised, he wore mans shorts, a tube top, some face make up and eyeliner, though very toned down from his stage makeup... He wore no wig and his hair was short and receding, and he seemed to shrink three feet in stature. Of course part of that was the heels and him not being on stage.

"Hello gorgeous!" I said when he opened his front door.

"Please, Gorgeous is in five hours, now I'm just, 'presentable" She said letting me inside.

So Natasha led me out back down a heavily gardened path to a patio that overlooked the bungalow. It really was cute. So Natasha opened the French door and let me look at the place. Although they were Lesbians, the interior said "French country classic" and not "Home Depot." The walls were either white, or a light blue, there was a lot of white lattice work and a huge amount of wrought iron through the place and hundreds of candles. There was a master bedroom, a smaller bedroom, a small office, a kitchen and pantry that led to a separate dining room over looking the patio and the pool. There were one and a half bathrooms, and the closets were huge.

I turned to face Natasha with a look of amazement on my face.

"So it meets your approval then?" Natasha asked sarcastically.

"Ummm, yeah, I think we can make due..." I offered coolly, she knew I was caught hook line and sinker. What the hell is a sinker anyways???

She told me that all the furniture was going with the girls and all that would be left were the appliances. After talking over what I was thinking about what to do with the place, and talking over when they were leaving, we went back and Natasha fixed a salad and meat loaf with mashed potatoes. Cole came home from work shirtless and totally dirty. It was almost impossible to tell he had blond hair and a goatee under all his sweat and grime. Cole was a big construction worker. However, neither his tastes, his appearance, nor his manner gave any hint that he was gay. He didn't like going out, didn't like clubs, and had never danced in his life. But he was totally dedicated to Natasha, and they made an impossible relationship work.

Cole wasn't a man of words and all choices about renting me the bungalow were left to Natasha. After dinner we talked a while and then I drove back home, overjoyed that not only was everything falling into place, but now I had a great present for my cowboy husband and we were moving closer to Michael and Ryan and his Michael. We'd also be closer to our night jobs.

I got home and walked in to find Austin standing in the living room facing me with a strange expression on his face.

"Hi baby!" I said still happy from all my nights conspiring.

"So where were you tonight?" Austin asked with a strange edge.

"I was practicing with Mari..." I never got to finish that statement.

"FUCKING liAR!" Austin suddenly yelled as his weird mood erupted.

"You were with Jason! He left a message earlier hoping he'd get a chance to see you!" Austin said through gritted teeth. I was shocked right off my high.

"Nooo, I... I..." I couldn't tell him where I'd been.

"So if I go out and look at your gas gage, it won't show me a trip to Orlando tonight?" Austin asked trying to suppress his rage.

"Well...Yes... I mean, No..... Austin! What's going on????" I asked freaked out.

"You could have told me, you could have said you needed to speak to Jason, instead you sneak out, you lie to me, and..." He just fumed and shook his head. "Goodbye Alex." Austin said as he strode past me out the door. I followed him out.

"Austin, nooo, it wasn't like that at all..." I pleaded to a massive form that even I didn't dare touch.

"Funny, I always figured I'd be the one to fuck this up!" Was the last thing he said before he roared off on his motorcycle.

ANOTHER CliFF HANGER!!!!!!!!! I know I know, god will get me for them one day...

Peace, Billy

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