A Kiss in the Dark
A Kiss in the Dark by Eli Easton
In the anthology “Closet Capers” by Dreamspinner Press. Pub date April 22, 2013.
Lane Lester is a young graphic designer who creates web sites with his business partner in Seattle. At a holiday party hosted by one of their clients, the power goes out. In the dark, a man pulls Lane aside and kisses him as he’s never been kissed before. Lane can’t forget the passion in that kiss, and he goes on a quest to learn the identity of his mysterious admirer. Will he uncover true love? Or are some secrets best left in the dark?
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I blame what happened at the party that night on Mimi Lee. I’d started indulging myself with her again, my clever little Asian enabler down the street. She was a luxury I couldn’t really afford, but it was hard to resist the way she made my cotton dress shirts stiffer than a sex addict at a vibrator convention. I knew I looked damned good in that lavender button-down, starched within an inch of its life and fitted like a second skin. At twenty-six, I still retained my twinkish figure. And lavender? Definitely my color.
I’d put on this extra-special goodness for the Christmas party being hosted by one of our biggest clients, Morgan-Tate. The party was a crowded mix of their employees, clients and regular vendors. On that vendor list was lil ol’ us. We are Chester Peake, the best damn website developer in Seattle. Chester stands for me, Lane Lester. It was a nickname I’d been given in high school, a joke on my slim physique. But in the grand tradition of fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke, I wore it with pride. I am the beauty and charm of our operation, the one who romances the clients with shits ‘n giggles. Oh, and I do the creative work, too. I’m a graphic artist. Peake stands for Josh Goldstein, my business partner, programmer and amateur mountain climber. Josh hates socializing with clients. But when it comes to building the technical side of a website, nobody can touch my boy.
I had dragged Josh to the party that night, and he was across the room playing the quiet geek wallflower to the hilt. Every time I looked at him, he sent me a glare that said he’d rather be at home playing Halo 3. Or at a movie. Or in an ice storm, naked. Personally, I was having as good a time as it’s possible to have at a client-hosted holiday party. I was two eggnogs shy of complete sobriety and checking out the men in the room. I was, of course, entirely discrete in this matter since I was chatting with Andrea, account manager for Morgan-Tate and our main contact.
It was Andrea who pulled us in when her clients needed website work done. She was hideously smart, insultingly blunt, and plainer than a loaf of Wonder bread. I liked her a lot. She was easy to schmooze since she seemed to find everything I said hysterically funny. Always. Even, unfortunately, the quotes I gave her for our work. Tonight she was flying high on some kind of glog, grog or nog and she was flirting with me. Maybe she was looking for a few more jingle balls for her Santa hat. I gave her the dimples-and-sparkling-blue-eyes treatment and nodded enthusiastically at her story. I looked down at her damp hand on my arm, bemused.
It was interesting how the brightest women could miss the gay thing, despite the lavender shirt, the tiny diamond chip in my left ear and the product that made the top of my dark spiky hair nearly as stiff as my shirt. I wanted to say ‘Honey, the power of positive thinking only goes so far.’
I warily looked around for any sprigs of mistletoe that could make this really uncomfortable.
And that’s when it happened. The power went out.
It’s funny how a room full of people in this age of technology responds to a power outage. You might have thought we were all robots whose plugs had been pulled. Everyone froze. There was a chorus of ‘ohs!’ and ‘heys!’. Someone said isn’t there a fucking generator?, as if such a thing were an inalienable right. Someone else asked about fuses in a voice that suggested the speaker had only the vaguest notion what a fuse was. It was black as anything. I swear I could not see my hand in front of my face. And then –
There was a tug on my arm, from behind, firm and sure. It didn’t feel random or tentative. It felt like step back, please. I let it pull me away from Andrea and her sweaty hand. I followed the confident tug back into absolute nothingness. Oddly, I wasn’t afraid or even that curious. I figured someone was clearing a path, perhaps to the mysterious fuse box.
Hands grasped my upper arms and I found myself shifted and pressed against a wall. A hand found my jaw. A thumb traced the corner of my mouth, as if locating it in the dark. And then someone kissed me.
Someone was kissing me. A number of crazy things went through my head. My first thought, rather horrifyingly, was that it was Andrea, even though that didn’t really make any sense. My second thought was that there was stubble, rough, against my chin. It was a man, thank heavens. My third thought was – oh mother of god, this is good.