Male Model Freddie Rayner as Link
OUT OF MIND PART 2 PLAYLIST
(A little afternoon bathroom drama) Answers- Ou Est Le Swimming Pool
(A tour of town) Pretty Boy - Young Galaxy
(Confessions at the Shermin Shack)
(An allergic reaction...or something else MUST LISTEN lol) Salvation - Scanners
OUT OF MY MIND: PART 2
Link slept in late. He was usually an early riser. Even back when he worked late nights at Club Dieux in Frankfort, he had still managed to roll out of bed by eight every morning, the time somehow programmed into his system. He attributed his late start to Casey’s tossing and turning all through the night, and his muffled pleas to someone who wasn’t there. Being the mama bear he was, Link had crawled out of bed to settle Casey down, but just when the guy calmed, he’d started all over again.
Link looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, groaning over the dark circles under his eyes. “This guy is going to owe me some concealer if he keeps that shit up.” He opened the medicine cabinet, plucking the little glass tub of miracle makeup from the shelf. “And a time machine, so I can get my fucking sleep back.”
He closed the cabinet, reaching for his concealer brush in a little cup next to the sink. As he patted the makeup in place under his eyes, he noticed his phone light up on top of the toilet. He glanced over, rolled his eyes at the name on the screen, and went back to his routine.
“I don’t want to talk to you,” he griped. His phone seemed to listen, going dark again. He put the concealer away, going for his other secret weapon, his highlighter stick.
Once again, his phone started up again. “For fuck’s sake, Ricky.” He snatched the phone up, sliding his thumb over the touch screen. “What do you want? I’m surprised your even out of bed yet, you vampire.”
“Good afternoon to you too.” Ricky yawned.
Link growled, smacking his highlighter down on the counter. “Out with it. I’m not in the mood.”
“You’re always in the mood, baby.”
As if he was wearing enough blush to make a Harajuku girl look twice, Link’s cheeks flushed crimson. “Fuck off. Get a life, and stop trying to ruin mine. I’m hanging up.”
“I miss you.” Ricky’s sleepy voice always worked Link over until he was nothing more than a puddle on the floor. The added endearment in those three words made him pause. He closed his eyes.
“No you don’t,” he said, finally realizing who he was talking to again. “Is your fiancé at work and you’re bored? Is that it? Why are you doing this, Ricky? Wasn’t it enough that I had to quit my job because I couldn’t take two steps without someone calling me a slut? Or better yet that your man drove a stake into the heart of my life when he found out, and made me a fucking social pariah to all of my friends and coworkers? I had to uproot my life just to get away from the both of you, and you keep calling me like we’re still hot? What the fuck is wrong with you? I’m not your dirty little mistress anymore. Go find another puppy to string along.”
Ricky moved around. “Stop being such a drama queen. I never told you to leave. You left me, Link.”
“That’s your idea of an apology, trying to make me the bad guy in all this, trying to make me feel bad so I’ll come running back to you like I’m in love with a taken man? I took all the blame, Ricky, every last drop, because I was man enough to own up to my mistake. You…you were a mistake and a coward, and I hate you.” Link put a hand to the wall, taking deep breaths so he didn’t lose it. “I really hate you.”
“Wrong, baby. You love me.”
Link stared at himself in the mirror again, knowing he was better than falling at the feet of his former lover, the world’s biggest asshole. “It doesn’t matter what you think. You let him crucify me. You never once stood up for me. You never stopped me from leaving, and you never left him like you promised, and I’m glad you didn’t. You would have ruined me forever. I might have loved you, Ricky, but you were never in love with me. You used me, let me think I was something special to Frankfort’s hottest ‘it guy’, some cracker-jack club owner with a hard-on for younger guys. And when you got caught…you left me to burn. It’s been a year. I’m wiser to your games, and if you don’t stop calling me, I’ll call Pedro myself. We’ll see what your fiancé has to say about your phone bill.”
“You are something special to me, Link. You’re beautiful and sweet and I miss you so much. Let me come see you. I want to hold you.”
The bathroom door creaked open. Startled, Link moved aside for Casey. The dirty blond didn’t even notice him there, half-asleep as he went to the toilet, dropped his jeans, and took his first piss of the morning.
“Uh…” Link covered the receiver, keeping his eyes on Casey’s face. “Good morning?”
“Stop yelling,” Casey muttered. “You’re so loud.”
“Hello!” Ricky growled loud enough that Link put the phone back to his ear. “Who the fuck is with you?”
“Doesn’t matter.” Link grinned, not so upset anymore. Casey had just made his day. “He’s more of a man than you’ll ever be.”
“Goodbye, Ricky. If you ever call me again, you know what’ll happen.” He smirked, ending the call. “Stupid fucker.”
“Dude, I just said you were being loud. No need for name calling.” Casey smacked his lips. “My mouth tastes like garbage.”
Link ruffled Casey’s hair, happy enough to kiss him, but he thought it best not to. “Wasn’t talking to you, dearest, and you look like your mouth probably tastes.”
Casey pulled his pants up, suddenly aware of his surroundings, and that he’d flashed Link just about everything. He decided to keep things cool, not bothering to explain his zombie induced backside exposure. “And you’re just a ray of sunshine.”
“Cute. Get cleaned up, little bohemia, I’ll buy you lunch.”
“Lunch, you know, like om nom nom, sustenance?” Link chuckled. “God, I love sleepy boys.” He waved a hand, taking his leave with enough courtesy to close the door.
“I think you love anything with a dick that walks,” Casey muttered and stared at the shower with longing.
“And that’s Henri’s Place. It’s this down home bar that doesn’t know anything about serving a decent martini, but if you like beer, and flannel shirt clad men with enough chest hair to roll in, it’s the place to be. Perry’s brother, Sam, his wife Jenna bartends there. They have the cutest fucking baby. I swear it’s like a blue eyed Buddha, all chubby and happy and shit.” Link laughed, driving slowly down Main Street. “And that’s Miss Merna’s B&B. If you ever want pie, she’s like a caloric goddess. I swear if I didn’t religiously do my Zumba videos, you’d have to roll me out the door by now. She hosts this quilting bee thing with all the blue hairs once a week. I sit and chat with them. They feed me pie and give me quilts. It’s a win, win for everyone, because who could resist my company?”
“I have no idea.” Casey rubbed his temples, ready for bed again after an hour of nonstop Link nonsense. He wasn’t so irritated with Link in general. Casey just wasn’t used to his constant chatter or the overwhelming feeling of being trapped with him. He kept watching Link’s mouth move a mile a minute, a little glossy from some lip balm he kept putting on and probably soft to the touch. He was on overload next to Link. He didn’t know what to think, but he kept thinking…about Link.
He closed his eyes and sighed, trying to get a grip. He chalked his train of thought up to his body wanting to experience more, now that he was out and free to do as he pleased. And here was Link, the only other unattached attractive gay man in the village. Yeah, he thought. It was a set-up. “Is there a bank? I need to set up an account to stash my funds. And do they have a decent record shop around here?” His eyes popped open as they came to a stop at a crosswalk. He looked around, frowning, already knowing the answer.
Link threw his head back and laughed. “A bank? Yes. A record shop? Have you taken a look around? Welcome to Mayberry, baby, there isn’t a mall within a sixty mile radius.”
“Wi-fi?” Casey panicked.
“Bitch, please. How do you think I keep myself in style in the middle of Podunk? It’s called online shopping, and yes, there is a God. Adam and Perry made the entire place wireless. We get a lot of the business types on the weekends and Adam is trying to teach Perry how to use the computer properly. You should see that shit. Hilarious. Perry spent three hours on YouTube looking at cat videos after we got hooked up.” Link pulled into the Shermin Shack, parking his purple, two-seater, Scion iQ, otherwise known as his pride and joy. “So, records, huh? I saw your deck last night. Is that your thing?”
Casey snorted. “My thing?”
“Your hobby, your niche, or the thing you like to do the most? I know quite a few DJs. Most of them eat, sleep, and breathe music. You play anywhere I know? You have some lame industry name like Big Dog Casey?” Link elbowed him, lifting his brows. “Huh? Do you?”
“No.” Casey grunted, trying to get out of the tiny car, tangling himself in the seatbelt. “It’s just a hobby. I don’t play any venues or anything.”
Link eyed him up and down, raising his brows at Casey’s bright blue sneakers. “So you’re like some closet hipster? That’s cool. As long as you don’t wear knit mustache beanies when we’re in public, I can handle it.”
“God, Link.” Casey huffed. “I just like to play around on the deck. I’m not a hipster and it’s not a big deal. You could exasperate the hell out of five year old.”
Link put his hands up. “Excuse me, New Orleans. I was just trying to get you to smile.”
Casey finally managed to get out of Link’s deathtrap mobile and put his hands on the top, glaring at Link. “Who told you I was from New Orleans?”
“Facebook. I got your last name from the employee file.” Link slammed his door, sashaying up to the curb. He flipped his sunglasses up, giving Casey his best green eyed bitch face. “It’s a free country.”
Casey was seconds away from bursting into flames. “And that’s stalking. When I want you to know something, I’ll tell you. Got it?”
“And when I want to type someone’s name into a search bar, I’ll do it. Got it?” Link crossed his arms over his chest. “I wasn’t stalking you by the way. I was making sure you weren’t on America’s Most Wanted. With a black eye like that, who knows where you came from or what you were into? I am going to be living with you after all.”
Infuriated, Casey pressed his lips into a tight line, and walked away from Link. He pulled open the door to the Shermin Shack and fumed in front of the hostess stand. A pretty blonde with a name tag reading Suzanna smiled at him.
“Welcome to the Shermin Shack. Table for one?”
Casey pushed his bangs out of his face, not giving a shit about his eye. Suzanna didn’t seem to care about his bruising. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Right this way. A nice table just opened up on the patio. Is that all right with you?”
“We’d love a patio table, wouldn’t we, Casey?” Link smiled at Suzanna.
“Hey, you! I haven’t seen you in, what, a week? It’s been too long.” Suzanna hugged Link. “And you were so right about the blue dress. He loved it. Or at least I think he did.” She giggled. “It wasn’t on for very long,” she whispered.
“Jesus.” Casey cringed. “Can we…I mean can I have a table? I’m so hungry.”
“Of course, sugar. But I thought ya’ll were…” She frowned.
“We are,” Link challenged Casey. “Thanks, Suzanna.”
She grabbed two menus. “Follow me.”
Casey leaned down to Link’s ear. “I dislike you right now.”
“No you don’t. You can’t knock it til you tried it and you haven’t given me the time of day yet.” Link sauntered off, leaving Casey open mouthed.
The table was outside, shaded by a tree butting up to the water. A red checkered tablecloth bunched under Casey’s fingers as he rubbed them repeatedly over the fabric, angry as hell itself. Once Suzanna had taken their orders, he set his eyes on Link.
“You can’t pry into other people’s lives without permission. You know nothing about me, and you didn’t think to just ask? No. You had to go online to the fucking site I hate the most in the world, and read all about it. Did you like what you found, Link? Are you going to make some sassy little quip now? Is that your thing, hurting people’s feelings?”
Link took a sip of water and looked out over the pond. “I wanted to know what was up with you. After last night, I knew it was bad. I just didn’t know the severity of your situation. I thought…I thought I’d make you forget about it today and have some fun, because I know what it’s like to be under the microscope, being poked and prodded until you can’t breathe. When all you want to do is forget it ever happened.” He set his glass down and faced Casey. “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. I know I can be a little hard to take, but I do mean well.”
Casey tongued the inside of his mouth, not sure whether to be livid or tell Link it was okay. “So you saw all of it?”
“Does it matter? Those haters are back in New Orleans and you’re here. You came to Shermin to start over, didn’t you? From one forced transplant to another, it’s best not to go back and read what you left behind. Everyone’s a critic. So, fuck em if they didn’t get it. You don’t want people like that in your life. They’ll only bring you down.” Link looked at the table. “They don’t know the real you, and I want to. I know I’m not your first choice of friends, you’ve made that obvious, but I actually give a shit, and just like you could use a friend, so could I.”
Caught off guard, Casey slumped in his chair. “I bet you have plenty of friends. I bet you’ve been out since you were like six too. Look at you. You’re so comfortable with yourself, all shimmery and what not. I can’t…I can’t be like that. ”
“No one asked you to be like me. That’s the beauty of individuality. The world would suck if everyone went Stepford. And for your information, I was fifteen not six, and living in foster care. I never had any real friends until I moved downtown Frankfort, and even then…they weren’t good people. I was too fabulous for them I guess.” Link bit the inside of his cheek, nervous about being so open. He had his secrets too. Everyone did.
“Foster care?” Casey looked up.
Link swallowed, busying his fingers by drawing a heart on his glass with his finger. “Huh uh, tit for tat, it’s your turn. When did you tell them you were gay? Seemed pretty recent.”
“Two weeks ago.” Casey sighed, scratching his head. “There was this guy.”
“There always is.” Link saluted him with his ice water. “Go on.”
“I worked with him at the Copy Mart. I had a crush him for a long time, but I was too scared to do anything about it. Anyone could see us together, and my dad…he’s a cop.”
“Let me guess, dad had eyes in the back of his head and he and his buds weren’t cool with the homos? Such a classic.”
“Don’t say homos. It sounds derogatory.” Casey cringed, looking around to see if anyone had heard.
“Chill, newbie, no one’s gonna pull out the pitchforks. So you finally wanted to do something about your crush, dad’s permission or not?”
Casey nodded, settling back into his seat. “Mike, that’s the guy’s name, I told him first. It was stupid. I should have told my mom, but I just wanted to…I don’t know, make him see I was serious? He was always talking about how he’d never date a closet case. I didn’t want him to think I was being fake.”
“When it comes out, it comes out. Don’t blame yourself for admitting who you are. What matters is that you finally said it, not who you said it to.” Link patted his hand. “What did Mike say?”
“He didn’t really say anything. He stuck his tongue down my throat.” Casey blushed. “Not really my idea of a first kiss with a guy, but it happened and I can’t take it back.”
Link chuckled, flicking up his lashes to stare at him with his pretty green eyes. “Were you into it?”
Casey smirked. “Yes. God, it was so bad though. It was like he was trying to wash a car, not kiss me.”
They fell into a fit of laughter, gaining the patio patrons’ attention. “I’ll have to remember that one.” Link stuck his fist out, bumping it with Casey’s. “What happened after?”
Casey lost his smile, twirling his straw around his glass. “My dad pulled up in his squad car. He flipped the lights on and everything. Mike took one look at my dad and ran.”
“Damn. That sucks.” Link squeezed Casey’s hand.
“Yep. Dad saw the whole thing. I got kicked out of the house for a few days, stayed with a friend until his mom got word from her husband, another cop, what happened. She didn’t want me in bed with her son, thinking I was going to molest him or something. I’d been his friend since second grade, and you know what did?”
“He went along with his parents?” Link rubbed his fingertips over Casey’s hand.
Casey looked away. “Yeah, they all did. Every friend I had. Then they started sending me that shit on Facebook, calling me a…”
“You know what that stands for, don’t you?” Link grinned.
“Worthless?” Casey sniffed.
“Hell no.” Link winked. “Fabulous And Gay.”
Casey shook his head. “You’ve got it all figured out, huh?”
“Not hardly, but I like to keep my head above the water. If I let every person that called me a fag get to me, I’d drown. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather swim.”
Unable to help himself, Casey beamed. “My mom would like you.”
“Why, is she a cougar into young, insatiable men?” Link bat his lashes.
“No, because under all that frou frou glitter, you’re pretty down to earth.”
Link rested his chin in his hand. “All I heard was I’m pretty. I’ll take it. Although, I’ll have you know real men wear shimmer. It’s shimmer, not glitter.”
Casey rolled his eyes. “You have glitter! I saw it in the medicine cabinet.”
“Looking for something to decorate your battle scar there, champ?” Link giggled.
The sound of his innocent amusement got to Casey. He noticed Link hadn’t removed his hand. It still covered his, fingers slowly twining together. A little uncomfortable with the revelation, but not up for creating tension between them, Casey let Link’s hand stay. He actually…liked it and he could tell, from the way Link leaned in, even if he didn’t know he was doing it, he liked it too.
A waitress came around with their lunch baskets, looking frazzled. “Sorry about the wait. I’m Darcy. I’ll be taking care of you boys. Suzanna’s got her hands full with the rush that walked in. I’ve got one fish and chips basket.” She waited until Link raised his hand before setting it down. “And the chicken strips are for you?” She smiled as Casey took the basket with a smile. “Ya’ll need anything else, you just holler. I’ll be the one running around like a chicken with her head cut off.”
“Thanks, Darcy. I think we’ll be good.” Link stuffed a fry in his mouth.
“Great.” She gave another little smile and ran off.
“No more deep dark shit. Eat like calories are going out of style. There’s always Zumba waiting at home.” Link grunted contently over his fries.
“I think we’ll get along just fine, Link.” Casey pushed the ketchup across the table.
“No shit, Orleans. I’m all you got in this crazy, mosquito infested wasteland.” He woofed down another fry.
Casey checked out the pond again, smiling. “It’s not so bad. It’s actually really nice.” He turned back to Link. The man turned his face to the pond, sipping his water, but his free hand moved back across the table, touching Casey’s fingertips as if he needed the comfort just as much as Casey did.
“Stop pulling at your collar. You look like a caveman when you do that. It’s a polo not a prison.” Link stopped on the path towards the lake. “I’m supposed to give you a tour before we start our shift. I can’t very well do that if you keep coming up with ways to slow me down.”
“Cool your jets, grape jelly.” Casey gave him a playful shove. “I don’t like the fabric. It’s itchy.”
“What did you wear at Copy Mart, Dior? You kidding me with this? Here.” Link started to unbutton Casey’s polo a little. “The problem is you’ve got it buttoned up to your neck like an old Victorian maid.”
Casey froze, feeling Link’s fingers whisper over his chest. Link stuck his tongue out a bit, concentrating until he frowned, screwing up his face. “Well that’s not good.”
“What?” Casey cleared his throat.
Link pointed to his chest. “Maybe you’re not such a caveman after all. I think you’re allergic to the material.”
“Why do you say that?” Casey looked down, seeing the red splotches marring his creamy skin. Small bumps sat amidst the angry red, making him hiss. “Crap. I forgot!”
“Care to share with the class? You can’t possibly be allergic to cotton. You wear enough of it.” Link snorted.
“No. I forgot when we were in town to pick up detergent. I can’t wear the perfumed stuff. It makes me break out, and itch. Adam said he washed it last night.” He scratched his chest. “Shit. It burns now.”
Link paled a bit. “Stop scratching it! Tour’s over. I’ll have to show you around after check-in. Let’s go find you another shirt, and we’ll pick you up some hypoallergenic detergent tonight. They have a big drugstore about ten minutes from here. I think I have some Benadryl cream in the room until then. I had a reaction to some grass shit out here last summer.” Link grabbed his hand, leading him back up the path. “You should have said something. It could have been more than a rash. People die from this shit, Casey.”
“It just itches. I’m okay, Link. Slow down.” Casey could barely keep up, but he had to because his hand was locked in Link’s.
They rushed up to the main house, and Link pulled open the screen door. “Hurry up. We have less than an hour before we open shop. Adam hates it when I’m late, and I kind of like my job.”
“Link, slow down. Seriously, I’m okay. It’s just a shirt.” His arm was yanked and Casey found himself standing in the middle of their room before he knew it.
“Take your shirt off. I’ve got a packaged polo in the closet. It’ll be a little tight, but it’ll have to do for today.” Link rummaged through the closet. He stopped, looking over his shoulder. “Shirt. Off.”
Casey frowned. He couldn’t understand why Link was being so crazy about a little rash. Okay, he thought, it did burn more than he said, but it wasn’t life or death. Knowing Link for only four days, Casey had never seen Link so serious. He guessed it took time to know a person’s many sides, but this seemed out of character.
“What?” Link pushed to his feet, holding a plastic wrapped polo. “You still have that damn shirt on?”
He huffed, dropping the package on the bed, and went to Casey. His fingers dug into Casey’s waistband, pulling the shirt up. “Arms up,” he breathed.
They stared at each other. Something had changed. This had nothing to do with work or skin reactions.
Casey’s heart raced. He was getting really hot, and he didn’t think it was from his allergies. Link’s hands slid up the sides of his bared chest, sending shivers down his spine. He zeroed in on Link’s green eyes, equally engaged, mirroring his strange response. Link pressed closer to his chest, smoothing his hands under Casey’s raised arms. The shirt popped over his head, leaving his shaggy hair a mess. Link didn’t step away, wrapping his hands around Casey’s arms.
“I promised Adam I’d take care of you. I don’t want mess this up. I don’t have anywhere else to go.” Link’s breath came quicker. “And I can’t lose the only friend I have over allergies. I’d lose it. I get anxious sometimes. Like now.” Link swallowed. “I don’t even know what I’m saying.”
“I don’t really care.” Casey stepped into Link, running his hand around the back of Link’s neck. “It’s always nonsense.”
Link’s eyes watered. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m not. I love it.” Casey tugged on Link’s hair gently, overcome with some dying need to protect Link’s smile. Link’s mouth opened. His eyes searched Casey’s.
“Shut up.” Casey kissed him.
Unlike with Mike, this wasn’t a sloppy, grunting backroom tango. He cradled Link to his body, putting every muscle he had into his kiss. Something desperate crawled out of his mouth, sure of itself, knowing what it wanted and it wasn’t a crush. His fingers bit into Link’s back. His mouth opened, accepting Link’s greedy tongue. They stumbled back, Link falling onto his bed. Casey’s smaller counterpart pulled on his shoulders, bringing him down on top. He straddled Link, bending down for more. His skin was molten where Link touched him. The burn across his chest was long forgotten. His dick was so hard he had to grind against Link to relieve the ache. He finally had enough of clothes, practically ripping Link’s polo out of his pants to free him of it. He pushed it up, revealing Link’s radiant skin, his tanned nipples, and the dip of his collar bone. Mad with need, Casey continued to get Link free while running his tongue over that very collar bone, lavishing every curve and hollow like his skin was bathed in sugary honey.
“Casey,” Link whined. “Fuck.”
Casey took his mouth again, teeth clashing until Link parted his lips, moaning. The blond slid his hand down, lower and lower until he cupped his prize, feeling out Link’s erection with a squeeze. Link groaned into Casey’s mouth, out of his mind. He’d wanted this since Casey had walked into his bedroom four days ago. He wanted to see the boy behind those sad brown eyes. What he got was a man, a possessive animal, relentless with his hands and mouth. Link had never felt anything like it. He wanted, no, needed more, and more and more…
“Fuck me,” he moaned.
“I want to,” Casey growled.
Their bedroom door rattled under an angry fist. “Open the door,” Perry shouted. “We’ve got guests pulling up the drive in less than ten minutes, damn it.”
Both men froze, Casey still on top of Link, their mouths less than an inch away. Casey shivered, realization dawning in his eyes. This was not how he wanted to do this. He couldn’t lose Link, his only friend. They’d been so good together this week. But damn, Casey wanted him. Link was sexy, funny, and such a spitfire. Link had no idea how attractive he was, inside and out. He had no idea how much more he deserved. He was sad under that smile and Casey wanted to make him better, but that would take time, not sex. This was not how he would ruin Link. That’s not how friends treated each other, even if those friends wanted more. His mom had raised him better than this. He was a gentleman and he’d show Link the respect he deserved. But right now, they had to get dressed, quickly.
“Link! Casey! You better open this door.”
“I-I can’t,” Casey whispered to Link, sitting up quickly. He stumbled his way to the ground, tripping over a mess of clothes.
“Casey?” Link stared, covering his chest with his polo, more vulnerable than he’d ever felt before.
“Just…just put your shirt on,” Casey hissed. “It wasn’t…I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Link slipped his polo on, sinking under the water of his life, drowning. Once again, even if it was only a kiss, he knew when he was being used to get off. This time, he knew the man struggling to pull the polo out of a plastic package didn’t love him. It was just a thing, a moment, and in the end…Link was just another man’s whore. He had to act like it didn’t hurt because Casey was the only person who had tried to be his friend, and actually connect with him outside of work. God, he hoped they were still friends. He couldn’t take losing any more. Not even shimmer would cure that kind of heartache.
TO BE CONTINUED…