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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

LXXXVI: Present

“Was Casey ever charged in Dylan’s death?” asked Orion.

They lay closer now. Orion had slid over so that their lengths pressed against one another, his hand casually laying on Brendon’s hip. Brendon had turned, just a smidge, hoping to shift that hand closer to his crotch, hoping to restart where they’d been, wanting to get off the topic of Casey, of death, of his paintings making him some sort of villain.

“No, not that I remember,” said Brendon. “But he was blamed by the court of public opinion well enough.”

“And as far as you know, Casey and Dylan were the only two people in that garage when it happened.”

Brendon made an agreeing sound.

“Emma lives alone. Doesn’t have anyone else there when she visits that boat you painted for her. As does Jennifer Craugh and her forest filled with wolves. But little Diana, she has her parents there, though if they’d ever seen that panther come to life from your carousal painting, I doubt they believed it themselves.”

“What are you getting at?”

Orion squeezed Brendon’s hip. “Was wondering whether the paintings have limits to who can see. One, two people an acceptable amount, but more than that, like say, at a gallery, might be too much, too many.”

“I don’t know.”

“Did anything ever happen at any of your showings?”

“No.” But Brendon was paying far more attention to the way Orion was sliding his hand across his stomach, skin on skin where his shirt had ridden up. He sucked in a breath, like he could force Orion’s fingers to dance lower.

Orion didn’t though. His hand slid away as he rolled, their bodies now pressed closer, Orion hovering against Brendon’s side as he had earlier, but this time his knee lay on top of Brendon’s leg. This time his eyes were close enough to see the blue in that grayness.

“I want to visit the Yert family next.”

Brendon gasped. “What?”

“The Yert family. See if I can have a look at the painting that you think killed her.”

“Killed her?” Brendon released an explosive sigh, his stomach beginning to ache as if Orion had gut-punched him, though he knew it had more to do with the pressure grown in his balls, backtracking up, up, as he ached for Orion to move away from this macabre topic. Yet he was becoming more suspicious that might not happen.

“Possibly,” hedged Orion. “Would like to get a sense of things. Speak to them.”

“Evelyn’s dead. I barely knew her. I don’t want to go waltzing up to her family, asking after the death of their daughter. That just screams insensitivity.”

“Then I’ll go on my own.”

Brendon paused. “You…” He stared up at Orion, blanking on words that might describe the level of tactlessness the man possessed. “You can’t…”

“I doubt they’ll tell me overtly how or where she died, but I think I can ask the right questions that it might slip out.”

Brendon pushed up, needing to be higher, to look down at Orion rather than having the man looking down at him. “Look, you can’t just go shoving yourself into my past. I went to school with these people. Grew up in these neighborhoods. This is my home. And when you’re done and have moved back to wherever the fuck you’re from, this will still be my home.”

Orion relaxed back, one hand behind his head, the other lax on the bed, palm up like he were asking a question or offering something or showing Brendon that he meant no harm.

“If you’re so worried about what I say, Brendon, you’re welcome to come with me.” Orion’s hand lifted, fingers gently grazing Brendon’s wrist. “You want to know too. That’s why you’re scared.”

Brendon felt instinctual defensiveness rise up, insisting on proving how not scared he was, how nothing Orion did could terrorize him. Instead of saying it, he leaned forward, putting hands to either side of Orion’s head and lowered himself, pressing their groins together, their stomachs, their chests until the hint of a smug smile on Orion’s face flittered away, replaced with a heavy-lidded expression of desire.

“If I recall,” whispered Brendon harshly, not trusting his voice any louder. “You were the one terrified to look at my painting today. You’re the one who thinks I’m powerful enough to kill with paint and perspective.”

Orion dragged fingers over Brendon’s scalp, tiny, tight curls catching between his fingers, tugging against Brendon’s skin. “That’s because you are. I’m just here to figure out how.”


Next Chapter Coming November 3rd