Grey followed Morgan as he loped down the steps and out the backdoor; and followed the wall until they reached a large open shed. As Grey got close enough to peek inside, he changed his mind about Morgan yet again
A dozen mechanic’s lights hung from various points in the ceiling. In addition to some other power tools and machinery, Grey noticed huge chunks of wood, stone and sheets of metal lining the back wall. That all got a cursory glance from him, but then he shifted and took in the area at the far end of the right wall and almost gasped.
What in the world?
Three stunning pieces of sculpture took up the right-back area of the workspace. Each sculpture combined abstract ideas with what was clearly the human form to create works of stunning beauty. there were other more literal pieces as well, some life-size, others smaller.
the man was an artist!
Grey whirled around, stared incredulously at Morgan, and asked “you did this?”
Morgan nodded anxiously, clearly worried about what this man thought of his secret pass time. He shocked himself to realize how much he wanted Grey’s approval more than anything.
Grey shifted his body weight to balance on both legs as he smiled and said “It must be nice to allot yourself such big chunks of time to work on your career.”
Morgan tilted his head. “What?”
“Oh,” Morgan relaxed and shook his head, “this is not my career. its just something I do for the joy of it. I don’t have any interest in turning it into a job.”
Of course! Morgan couldn’t just be sexy, sharp, and know to make a man bury himself forever in his ass, he also had to be humble about his talents too. “Now you’re just being modest. you probably could turn your art into a career.”
Shrugging, Morgan said, “If I was so inclined to pursue, it but I am not. I really just wanted you to know about it that’s all. I’m not crazy about revealing this side of myself to anyone. When my mother found out, she went around telling her friends I was an artist. Took a while to finally get her off my back, and not a moment too soon too.”
Grey thought for a moment, smiled devilishly and asked “Can I take some pictures. I’d just want to have them for posterity.”
Morgan visibly let out a sigh of relief. Grey approved. That was all he needed to know. He felt like dancing on the bloody moon. “Sure, go for it.”
Grey quickly took the pictures and told Morgan that he had to get back home, get a clean pair of clothes, and check if he had any emails from work. Kissing Morgan quickly, he promised to see him before the end of the day.
Walking out of the shed, through the long hallway to the living room with the broken shards of the mirror Morgan broke, and out the front door, Grey watched the sun rise as the day began to unfold, his mind flashed back to the pieces of art that had so captured his interest in Morgan’s studio. Keys and phone in hand, Grey started walking towards his house while searching his phone directory for the name he was searching for. He smiled inwardly as he found the entry and clicked the call button. This was one call he couldn’t wait to make.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Grey glanced at his wrist watch and smiled. Right on time.
“Be right there!” he called out, taking just a few seconds to put down his laptop before jumping to his feet. He hadn’t been able to concentrate on work anyway, not with thoughts of Morgan invading his brain every five minutes and leaving him rock hard. He’d already gone to his bedroom and jerked off twice, and he had only been away from the man for six hours.
Won’t be long before you see him again. Excitement hummed through Grey as he raced to the door and swung it open. Morgan is going to be so fucking thrilled.
“Sally!” Grey drew the woman in the other side of the door into a hug, “you made it.”
“Of course I did,” the woman answered. Grey stepped back and allowed her to com in. 2You send me pictures of some beautiful creations and then text me that I have to meet this man and see the rest of his work. you must have known I would work around my schedule to visit you ASAP.”
“Trust me, he’s worth it.” Grey couldn’t keep the pride out of his voice. Sally was an old friend from college that owned a prestigious line of art galleries that operated in five countries. She travelled far and near searching for new artists but she maintained a home base with her husband and two children in London.
“Considering you’ve never approached me about who or what to sell in my galleries in the past, you certainly piqued my interest with your photos and messages.” she smiled warmly at him and a delightful spark danced into her eyes “Now, why don’t you tell me all about this talented Morgan you’ve raved about all day”
Talented. Yes. Grey’s insides heated, and he couldn’t keep the goddamned smile off his face. Morgan was talented in so many ways. Grey couldn’t wait to introduce him to Sally.
Morgan had decided to stay back in his studio after Grey had left that morning. He had been working 8 hours straight and hadn’t been able to get his mind off Grey long enough to do anything sensible. He couldn’t seem to focus on his main piece– the one that kept wanting to turn into an abstract version of Grey — so Morgan had put his tools down and picked up a pencil to doodle some ideas for a gift for Noah. The guy was just amazing. He had fixed his plumbing issues and had insisted on not collecting any money for his labour. Morgan had eventually promised to make it up to him with something special. Morgan wanted something large, but somehow subtle, that would reflect the quietness inside the muscled man.
His fingers drifted over the dozen papers strewn about the table, but his thoughts jumped for the piece for Noah, to Grey and the revelations from last night. The way Grey looked at Morgan in moments like last night…if only if he’d give even half of that freely, it’d make him a lot easier to deal with.
“Knock Knock.” Grey’s voice broke into Morgan’s thoughts and had him whipping around to face the open shed door. Morgan immediately ate the man up with his eyes, hungrily.
“I have a friend with me,” Grey said, slipping his arm around an attractive African woman with flawless skin. “She’s actually here to meet you, if you have a few minutes.”
Morgan’s focus shifted to the woman who murmured “Hi,” and wiggled out from under Grey’s embrace. She immediately walked to Morgan’s unfinished “Grey” piece, her interest clear, and the first line of cold trickled down Morgan’s spine.
“Oh, wow, this is going to be amazing,” the woman said. “I want it when its finished.”
she said that as Grey said, “That is Sally and she owns a number of prestigious galleries.”
the wind went right out of Morgan; he felt punched in the gut. He wanted to ask Grey what the hell he’d done, but the woman, Sally, had her hands on his incomplete project and demanded his attention first. Morgan moves across the floor to Sally’s side and fought the most powerful urge to tear her hands off his work.
Sally glanced up, her pretty face open and her eyes piercing. “This is going to be something incredible.,” she said as she caressed the half-carved block of stone. “The lines you have formed are already beautiful.”
“Thank you,” Morgan murmured. “This piece is very personal to me.” His gaze flashed on Grey, his skin heating before coming back to Sally. “Thank you for your interest, but I dont see myself parting with it when its finished.”
Nodding, Sally rubbed Morgan’s forearm, and then began to peruse the rest of his pieces. “Of course, its personal. Its all personal or they wouldn’t be any good. Grey wouldn’t have contacted me to come take a look at your stuff if he wasn’t damn sure I would be interested in selling it.”
Grey held up his hands, waving off Sally’s words. “I saw something in Morgan’s work, and I thought you two might be able to form a partnership.”
Of course you did. Son of a bitch. Morgan’s entire body itched to ram Grey into the wall and take a swing at his face. Morgan looked from Grey to Sally, light dawning, and every nerve ending inside him lit like the flint tip of a match. His heart plummeted right into his stomach. Question answered: I’m not good enough for Grey after all.
“All of your work is very good,” Sally said, swinging Morgan’s focus back to her. She stooped down and ran her hands over a life-size rendition of a bobcat, “this is insanely good technique and interpretation. I almost think he’s going to arch his back if I scratch him behind his ears.” She rubbed the cat’s head and stood up. “There is definitely a high-end market out there for work like this, even if its not with me. I will leave you a few phone numbers for gallery owners who carry them.
“Thank you. That’s very kind,” Morgan bit his lip and behaved with the good manners his parents has instilled in him, even though all he wanted to do was turn around and yell “Bastard!” in Grey’s face.
Sally walked to Morgan’s main worktable and her eyes immediately lit up as she spotted his array of sketches. “Oh, now these ideas have a ton of potential.”
Possessiveness slammed Morgan hard. He wedged himself between Sally and the table, practically blocking her view. “These are ideas for a specific piece for a friend of mine.” Morgan turned, gathered the papers up into a neat pile, and slid around to the other side of the table with the sketches trapped beneath his hands. “Whatever I end up creating for them will be a gift for him.”
Sally’s eyes widened, but just as quickly, she schooled her features and slipped into a professional smile. Her attention quickly shifted behind Morgan to Grey, then came back to Morgan, and Morgan could tell she now understood that Grey had never mentioned her visit.
“Listen,” Sally said, her voice kind, ” I really can’t stay, but thank you for allowing me to view your pieces. you have real talent, Morgan.” She pulled a business card case out of a small purse and produced a card. “My number is already on here, but I’m going to add two more for dealers that I believe will be interested in some of your work.” Leaning across the table, she snagged one of his pencils and scribbled a few lines on the back of her card. “Take as long as you need, but I would ask you to seriously consider giving me a call so we can talk.” Understanding fused her voice and softened her eyes, giving her beauty a surprisingly motherly appeal. “if you choose to, and if you like, I can tell you more about what I do and how I work. If you find you are comfortable with me, Id really love to sell some of your pieces.” Sally pressed the card into his hand and curled her fingers around his, applying a light pressure. “Please think about it. Can you give me that?”
“I will think about it,” Morgan answered. He had to. Hell, it wasn’t this woman’s fault she’d been dragged into the middle of a manipulation. “Thank you for understanding. it was nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too,” she said. They exchanged a firm handshake. “I’ll show myself out.”
Morgan turned, watching as Sally walked up to Grey and rose to her tiptoes, giving him a hug. She pressed her cheek to Grey’s and gave him a kiss, then whispered something that made Grey’s brow furrow and his focus shoot to Morgan. She pulled away and gave them both one last smile as she walked away.
Counting each second that went by, Morgan kept his focus solely on Grey. Grey drilled him with an equally probing stare in return.
Bastard. Bastard, Bastard.
Morgan waited until he heard an engine rev up, then slammed his fist into the work table and exploded on Grey. “You son of a bitch.” His voice raged low, sounding like it came from the depths of hell. “You just had to do it. you couldn’t just accept us and leave something that was going pretty damn good alone . You had to go and put you hands on it, try and manipulate it, change it, and turn it into something acceptable and worthy of your time and interest.”
“What in the hell are you talking about?” Grey shouted, his hands thrown in the air. “Do you have any idea how successful Sally’s galleries are? Do you even understand what a fucking big deal it was for her to take an entire day off work to come see your work? For her to express interest in someone she thinks is talented enough to promote?”
“Of course I know she’s successful.” Morgan shot each work into the air with the precision of flying daggers. “She has to be, doesn’t she? you wouldn’t have anything to do with her otherwise.” Grey reared back, but Morgan made up the distance and got right in his face. “Another one of Grey’s success cases. And that’s what you are all about, isn’t it? Taking something unique, but small and inconsequential, and figuring out how in the hell to pretty it up and sell it to your investors. Me included.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about, or why you are so angry with me,” Grey spat back. “I was trying to help you. You have an artistic gift; Sally is one of the best at putting that gift out to the public. She can turn your art into a career.”
“Oh, and you would love that, wouldn’t you?” Morgan’s lips twisted in a sneer. “We start to open up to each other, you start to feel something for me that you want to take to possibly the next level — and I know you feel it.” He grabbed Grey and savaged his mouth with a brutal kiss, only to shove him away and point in his face. “Don’t you dare tell me that you don’t” But you cant possibly have feelings for me like this,” Morgan waved his arms up and down his stained jeans and dirty t shirt. “If I’m an artist though, that’s respectable. that’s admirable, hell, that’s maybe even a little bit coveted. that’s someone you can dress up and put on your mantle to show off. that’s something you can keep hidden in your nightstand drawer.”
“You fucking prick.” Grey grabbed Morgan’s shirt and shoved him into the edge of the worktable, unleashing incredible strength. “You need to be very careful about the words you’re putting in my mouth.” he whispered, his voice lethal. “You are painting my motives with some awfully broad strokes that you know nothing about. you might want to shut the fuck up before you say something you cant take back.”
“What do you plan on threatening me with? Morgan snarled the question. “Leaving?” His chest heaved, and he put up a token struggle, spoiling for a fight. “You are going to do that sooner or later anyway.”
Grey shoved hard at Morgan, cracking Morgan’s head back as he took him all the way up on the table. “We can make it a whole hell of a lot sooner, if you keep talking.2
“Hey!” A deep rough voice ran through the tension filled air. “Get off him right now!”
Grey was suddenly lifted off Morgan and thrown in the direction of the door.
Standing between Morgan and Grey, like some avenging angel, stood Noah Patel.
Oh this was just fucking perfect
Grey stood up and took a step forward. “Morg…”
“Stay the hell back,” Noah said, his voice cutting and low. His eyes flashed with something more than mere friendship. “If you don’t, I’ll tie you down and beat you up till you bleed rainbows; I swear I will.” The man loomed large, standing in front of where Morgan kneeled on the table. Morgan shifted and put his hand on Noah’s shoulder.
Morgan seethed, at both Morgan and Noah, and fought down the heady desire to do serious physical damage. He wanted to tear Noah’s arm off and beat the shit out of him with it. He hadn’t felt the urge to savage an entire building ever before, but right now, he had to take a huge step backward and curl his hands into painfully tight fists so that he didn’t rip this studio into shreds.
Morgan! You fucking bastard! Accusing of thinking he’s not good enough for me. If only he knew how wrong he was. If only the asswipe would realise how madly I’m in love with him…
Great sweeps of swirling, volatile emotion consumed Grey, making his entire body quake. I’m in love with Morgan. The realization an the irony of his current situation made him want to physically throw up. It felt like every piece of his heart– that this fucking man awakened — was exposed and on display for the world to see. For Morgan to see. To Judge. To reject.
Grey could not have that. Nobody got that kind of power over him. Not anymore.
Morgan pushed himself to the edge of the table and swung his legs over to the side, stumbling to a standing position. “Grey, listen…”
“No.” Grey held up his hands, praying the tremor vibrating through him didn’t show. “I think you’ve said plenty already. you have a guest.” His tone was pleasantly sarcastic in the face of wanting to snarl. “Stay and talk to him.” Grey looked Noah up and down, his heart growing even sicker at the rough attractiveness he found in every line of Noah’s hard body. He swallowed, and shifted his eyes back to Morgan. “Maybe you’ll find something more to your liking here.” Blinking, he turned away. “Goodbye.”
“Grey.” Morgan’s voice held Grey dead in his tracks. “Stop.”
“Wait Morgan,” Noah said. Out of the corner of his eye, Grey saw Noah wrap his hand around Morgan’s forearm, “Need to talk to you.” Noah’s jaw clinched visibly. “Its important.”
Morgan hesitated, his attention going to Noah. that was all Grey needed. Without looking back, he walked away.
To Be Continued…
Soundtrack for Given to Grey: Broken Strings… DON’T JUDGE ME by Chris Brown