Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 74: Open Mic Night.
Craig was not cooperating. Don’t get me wrong—it wasn’t exactly his fault. It was Richard’s. Whatever Richard had done to Craig’s mind had created a block, preventing hypnosis by another Master. I had to figure out the trigger Richard had used, and so far I was coming up empty.
Scott was not all that cooperative either. He had been very vocal about his disapproval of holding Craig against his will. When he began talking about potential kidnapping charges I started to tune out. I didn’t want to argue with Scott—things were going well and this would be a crummy reason to ruin them.
When Scott walked into the kitchen I was seated at the table nursing coffee and reading the morning paper. Scott was showered and dressed and looked terrific. Scott wakes up happy, energetic, and sexy. I generally needed a couple hours and a couple of cups of coffee to reach half of that.
“We need to talk,” he said, pulling out a chair, turning it around, and straddling it.
“What about?” I opted for coy, but I knew perfectly well what was on his mind.
“About Craig. I’ve been calling in favors for the past hour and a half. Here’s what I can do: we cover Craig’s apartment with cameras then take him home. Richard is bound to show up or call eventually. We get something incriminating and we can use it because Craig will be aware of the recording.”
“And so will Richard.”
“Not if we tell Craig later.”
“And Craig’s life gets ruined.”
Scott shook his head. “Craig’s identity will be kept secret. My section chief cleared it.”
“And we can trust that?”
I frowned. There was no way to prevent Craig from telling Richard where he’d been all night. So what? Richard had declared war—I was only fighting back. And if escalating things meant a quicker resolution to the threat, I’d have to be fine with that.
So why wasn’t I fine with that?
I shrugged. “Okay.”
“You seem surprised.”
“I expected a battle.”
“I can’t reach Craig. It would take a lot of time and drugs. Maybe we can learn his triggers on the tape.” I paused. “Who’ll see the tape?”
“The apartment will have twenty-four hour surveillance. I should be able to see anything important.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“I’ll let you see anything relevant to helping Craig.”
“Thanks,” I said. “But random people will be watching?”
“Agents will be monitoring the cameras, yes.”
“I hate to think what they’ll see,” I mumbled. I looked at Scott. “Richard will probably retaliate because of this.”
“I’ll be careful.” He stood and replaced the chair at the table. “The cameras should be in place in about an hour. Then we take Craig home.”
I downed the last of my coffee. “Any word on Alan Jacoby?”
“I don’t think so. Why?”
“I have a feeling he’s in trouble, too.”
“I’ll look into it.” Scott whipped out his cell phone and punched in a number.
I didn’t feel right about it, but before I took Craig home I shamed him for getting trapped in a cage overnight, telling him he was a bad boy and that his Master would not be pleased to know how easily he had been tricked. I was hoping he could cover his absence without mentioning me.
When I returned home there was another phone message from Mike. His tone sounded stressed. He said he’d try to reach me later. I needed to leave him my cell phone number. At this point my curiosity was getting the better of me as to his reasons for trying to reach me.
I flopped on the couch in the den and rubbed my eyes. I hated this, but I had no choice. Scott was right—if I didn’t sacrifice Craig for a little while longer the Bureau couldn’t form a case against Richard. And Richard would no doubt go after Wade and Scott if he couldn’t have Craig. It was a no-win situation and I needed a distraction.
Luckily it was Saturday and since we wouldn’t be caught dead at Leatherman’s Club we were going to the Pleasant Valley Playhouse’s Open Mic Talent Show. Scott still wouldn’t commit to performing, but I had hope that he’d get up and sing.
Scott arrived around six and was sprawled on his side on the bed while I got dressed for our “date.”
“Wear the green one,” he said as I stood in front of the closet.
I turned and raised my eyebrows at him.
“You look amazing in the green one.”
I grinned and selected the green shirt. “You’re looking pretty hot there yourself. That looks like it could be a stage outfit…?”
Scott made a face.
“I’m really hoping to finally hear you sing, you know.”
“I know. I just don’t know if it’s a good idea.”
I fixed the collar on my shirt in the mirror, and caught his eye in his reflection. “I suppose I could make you do it,” I teased.
“SIR! YES, SIR!” he barked, then laughed.
I grabbed his hand and pulled him up to his feet. We stood toe to toe, and I ran my fingertips around his ear and over the back of his neck. “It’s always been a fantasy of mine to be serenaded by an incredibly handsome man,” I said huskily.
“I just don’t think I can get up in front of people and pretend I’m good enough to sing for them. I’m old enough to know better than to try out for Idol.”
“This is a local open mic night. It’s not national television. Don’t put that pressure on yourself.”
“Chris, I sing in the car!”
“You also sing in the shower.”
Scott froze. I could feel his entire body tense.
“I heard you this morning.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that. Scott looked mortified. “Only for a few seconds.” I ran my hands over his strong back. There was something about holding Scott that always got me fired up in a way I’d never felt with other guys. I mean, I didn’t need all the bells and whistles and toys with him.
“You know, I’m hoping you’ll sing tonight because I know in your heart you want to. Something I’ve learned is that you can’t let fear prevent you from trying new things.”
Scott pressed his forehead against mine and smiled. “There is a song I could do…”
“So do it. I’ll tell you what!” I felt inspired suddenly. “If you do it, you get to be Master tonight. If not, I do.”
He kissed me. “Deal. But you’ll be the slave all night?”
“Yes what?” he asked with a smirk.
I smiled. “Yes, sir.”
He kissed me. I felt his thighs pressed against mine, and his strong arms steering me toward the bed.
I planted my feet. “Hold it. First you have to sing.”
Wade and Andrew were standing in front of the Playhouse when Scott and I arrived. I couldn’t help noticing how confident and sexy Andrew looked in his preppy best. Wade had turned it out, also, and he looked happy, which was a relief after the week he’d had.
Inside was pretty crowded, even though we were early. Without his consent I had signed Scott up last week just in case he decided to perform. Now I was glad I had.
Del Markham hurried around, attending to last minute details. Del was always a bundle of energy. He was average height, and a little stocky—with a broad chest and thick legs which had been earned at the gym. His dark hair had begun to thin a bit, but his bright eyes shone with intensity and there was something undeniably attractive about the sum of his features. He and I had met several years earlier and would probably have become closer friends if we had ever been single at the same time.
While I was content to switch roles with Scott on occasion, Del was a submissive guy looking for a Master. He’d had some near misses, but when he finally met Mr. Right, he was a Mr. Right with no interest in the D/s lifestyle. It was around then that I’d met Del. I could have hypnotized him, but I hadn’t. I hadn’t ruled it out; I just hadn’t had the opportunity.
I called to him. He looked up and around, then saw me and approached. “Christopher! I’ve been looking for you. Your friend is scheduled to go eighth. Where is he?”
I presented Scott. Del have him an appreciative once over, his eyes lingering that extra fraction of a second that gay men’s eyes linger on a good-looking man. “Do you have your music?”
Scott handed him a burned cd. “It’s the only track.”
Del nodded. “No time to talk now.” He stood arms akimbo. “Ordinarily I’d never let someone on stage without an audition, Christopher. I hope he’s good.”
“Good?” I asked. “He’s amazing.”
Scott looked mildly embarrassed.
“He sings well, too,” I added.
Del chuckled and left us.
Wade slapped Scott on the back. “You’re gonna sing? That’s great! You sing all the time at Kampas.”
“I DO not.”
“Sure you do. I hear you singing along to the DJ. What are you singing?”
“It’s a surprise,” he said mysteriously.
Andrew draped his arm around Wade. “Ready to go in, Babe?”
As we ventured down the aisle I was surprised to find David and Daniel seated halfway back from the stage. David looked well-dressed, well-fed, and—most satisfyingly of all—happy.
Daniel waved as we passed by.
Scott didn’t seem to notice. I think he was too preoccupied by his own thoughts of him impending debut. Just as well. I didn’t want to have to introduce him to yet another couple brought together by my hypnosis.
The program began with a welcome by Del and then several singers and a couple of dance acts went on. Nobody was terrible, but a couple of the singers were a bit off-key. When the sixth act took the stage I leaned over to Scott, taking his hand and squeezing it. “Break a leg.”
He took a breath. “I don’t—”
“You can do it,” I lowered my voice, “Master.”
He grinned wickedly and the tension eased. “All night?” he mouthed again.
He got up and headed backstage.
I said a quick prayer that Scott’s nerves wouldn’t get the best of him. I knew he could do this. I just wasn’t certain he knew it. It was funny, in a way. Scott was an undercover agent with the FBI. He was a college student, and a bartender. He was incredible to look at, had a wonderful sense of humor, and was an amazing lover. And his stage fright threatened to overcome him in front of an audience of about four hundred people.
If this didn’t go well I was going to regret encouraging him for a very long time. I mentally crossed my fingers.
Del took the stage and introduced Scott. The spotlight centered on Scott, standing at a mic stand, hands gripping the metal pole.
“You can dance every dance with the guy who gives you the eye let him hold you tight…”
Wade leaned over and whispered, “He’s good!”
He was good. He started off a little timid, but I could see him physically relax as he hit the end of the first verse. As he got more into the song he used the mic stand and the mic. He swayed in time with the music. As the song ended he looked directly at me and smiled a dazzling smile.
I knew I was grinning like an idiot but I didn’t care. I was so proud of him I could’ve burst.
With a quick bow the spotlight went out and Scott rushed off stage.
“I’ll be back,” I whispered to Wade.
I hurried out to the lobby and into Del’s office—I had arranged for roses to be delivered in case Scott sang. I didn’t want him to feel badly if he didn’t go through with it. I grabbed the bouquet and met him in the lobby.
He was smiling. “What did you do?”
I kissed him and handed him the dozen long-stemmed roses.
He hugged me.
“I told you you could do it.”
Scott laughed. “You know what that means…”
I rolled my eyes. “Yes, Master,” I whispered into his ear.