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Eye of the Beholder

By Jade Falconer


From the moment Victor and Ben met, sparks flew. Victor is a renowned artist, setting up for a showing of his latest work at a prestigious Manhattan art gallery. Ben is the head of the construction crew remodeling the gallery for Victor's show. Ben doesn't know much about art, but he knows what he likes. They grate on each other's nerves until Victor suggests Ben pose for him. Will they give into their destiny or will they tear each other apart?



Victor pulled his cell out of his back pocket. He ordered a pizza and a dozen cold bottled waters, and told them to come to the loading dock. He flipped the phone shut. “Done,” he said, lying back. He folded his arms behind his head, stretching, mindless of his shirt riding up.

Ben glanced over at Victor, eyes widening a bit before he turned back to his task. He measured and cut and hammered, then finally said, without looking at Victor, “Am I that entertaining? Aren’t you bored?”

Victor glanced over at him. “Actually, yes and no. You are quite entertaining, and no, I’m not bored. Am I in your way? I could always go to a bar and see if anyone tries to pick me up, and be mysterious and belligerent to them instead.”

Ben snorted involuntarily. “Why do I have no problem imagining that?” He looked back at Victor. “But please. Don’t let me keep you from the ladies. I’m sure they’ll be all over you.”

Victor leaned up on his elbows again. “An interesting assumption to make,” he said, inclining his head. “Women don’t hold my interest much.”

This time Ben turned to face Victor fully. He stepped a little closer, looming over Victor, hammer still in one hand, sweat causing his t-shirt to cling to his powerful upper body. “Oh really?” he said, gazing down at the artist. “Pray tell, what does hold your interest?”

“Sex, liquor, and beauty. Not necessarily in that order.” He looked up at Ben and lay back on the floor, stretching his arms above his head. “You?” he asked, with a sardonic smile.

“A combination of all three,” Ben answered, gaze roaming over Victor. “Which you seem to be the embodiment of right now, I might add.”

Victor didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that Ben was interested. Nor did he need glasses. Ben’s pants hid little. He licked his lips. “Pizza will be here in a moment,” he said hoarsely. All he wanted to do was lock the doors and pounce on the other man. “Have you ever had your portrait painted?” he asked.

“No, I can’t say that I have,” Ben answered.

“Mmm, I think you need to. Desperately. Tonight, in fact. My loft is only a few blocks from here.” The very idea aroused him. Perhaps Ben was something of an uptight prick, but he had biceps that looked absolutely delicious, and the obvious bulge in his jeans was a sure sign that it would be an interesting night.

“Mmm, sounds like fun,” Ben mused. “Let’s just hope I don’t tire myself out before I get finished.” He pulled his shirt up a little, rubbing at his stomach.

Victor sat up slowly. “In fact, perhaps I ought to paint you right now.” He climbed to his feet and shoved his hand down into his pocket, pulling out two twenty dollars bills. “If the pizza gets back before me. I need a canvas.” He grabbed his jacket and winked at the other man.

Ben smiled lazily. His voice was a little hoarse as he answered, “Hurry back now.”