Co-written by: Jo and LJ
Cameron loved working at the lounge and he especially enjoyed Saturday night. He loved joking, laughing and flirting with the customers. He didn’t have favourites; he’d flirt equally as much with women or men. There’d been a few instances where the customer would try to take things a little too far but Cameron had easily fended off those advances.
“That little Goth girl is new,” Cameron thought to himself. He wasn’t really a fan of the Goth lifestyle, but as a clotheshorse himself, he admired her get up. “Hi,” he said brightly as she approached the bar. “I haven’t seen you here before.” His smile was dazzling as his eyes looked her over.
“Before I can serve you, I’m going to have to see some ID,” he requested, oozing charm. He’d found that by being charming, he could handle any problems caused by checking that all his customers were of the legal drinking age. He looked over the Goth girl’s ID.
“Wow,” he exclaimed. “I hope you take this as a compliment, but you don’t look twenty-seven.” He was alarmed to see her eyes perk up and a smile cross her face. ‘A Goth just smiled at me,’ he mused to himself, somewhat shocked.
Just then he noticed Chad entering the bar. His eyes glowed as he saw his lover approach. “Man, Chad was so hot,” he thought. “Time for my break,” he announced cheerfully and leaving his post, he wormed his way through the crowd to his partner’s side.
“Hi ya!” he greeted. “You’re a bit later than normal.
Chad took Cameron’s hand and led him towards the office. “Yes, I know. The teleconference with our supplier went into overtime,” he briefly explained. Once inside the office, he closed the door and drew Cameron into his arms, kissing him soundly. “And hello to you too,” he teased, smiling into dazed blue eyes.
“Looks like another busy night,” Chad absently remarked as he glanced over the messages on his desk. “I trust you haven’t taken advantage of my not being here to over indulge your fondness for flirting.” He looked up to observe Cameron’s reaction to his comment. Although Chad had no concerns about his partner’s loyalty, he was inclined to worry about the young man getting in over his head, especially when strangers were involved. It was for this reason that Chad had often warned him about overdoing the ‘extra’ friendly service.
“It isn’t flirting,” Cameron refuted indignantly, returning to an old argument. “I’m just being friendly, that’s all.” He had turned slightly red as he briefly thought of the effect he’d had on the Goth girl. He shrugged casually; everyone in town knew he was gay so it wouldn’t be a problem, he told himself. He laughed. “No, Chad,” he said, leaning in and kissing him. “I’ve been good.”He was less happy later that night. The Goth girl hadn’t left and her eyes followed him everywhere. He decided he had to talk to her after he’d dodged her groping hands for about the third time.
“Look lady,” he said firmly. “I’m taken. Don’t mistake my friendliness for anything deeper. Okay?” He was somewhat taken aback when the woman burst into tears and ran from the lounge. He gestured indifferently. He hadn’t seen her before and he doubted whether he’d see her again. He decided not to tell Chad about it; least said, sooner mended.
Chad spent most the evening dividing his time between the lounge and the office. He’d seen the strange woman coming unto his young partner a couple of times, but also noticed Cameron nonchalantly brushing her off without it becoming an issue. Chad smiled to himself. ‘Maybe now that Brat of mine will understand where I’m coming from.’
Leaving the office for the final time, he noticed the woman was no longer around. Walking behind the bar and leaning close to Cameron, he teasingly whispered, “I see your admirer has left. I hope you haven’t broken her heart.”
Cameron jumped. “Jeez, Chad, give a guy some warning,” he griped. “What admirer?” he inquired. “Oh, you mean the Goth.” Cameron smiled. “Lover, you’re the only admirer I want or need.”
The two men had a very quiet Sunday; going for a walk together, doing some fishing and some loving. On the Monday, Cameron went to fetch the mail on the way work. Usually Kipper got it when picking up the mail for the mine, but the older man had requested a favour.
Cameron went directly to the office upon arrive at the pool hall, because usually the only mail they got was for the business. Casually flipping through the envelopes, he found a letter addressed to him and looked it over. There was no return address and it was only addressed to him in care of the lounge. He opened it and felt his face go white as he read:
“You’re mine. Either I’ll have you or nobody will.”
He didn’t recognize the handwriting but the message sent chills up and down his spine. He had to fix this without telling Chad.
Cameron was jumpy all day. He kept his eyes peeled for anyone paying more attention to him than normal. On his way home, he kept jumping at shadows. He thought he saw someone out the corner of his eye but every time he turned around, nobody was there. He walked into the house, felt arms close around him and jumped a foot high.
“Fuck off,” he yelled, pulling out of the embrace. He spun around and looked straight into Chad’s eyes.
“Whoa! Hold up there, Mugs.” Seeing the fear in his Brat’s eyes, Chad pulled him closer and squeezed tight. He could feel the younger man’s body practically convulsing, but within minutes began to sense Cameron calming down and soon only intermittent shudders remained. “What has you so worked up, baby?” Not getting an immediate answer, he tried to lighten the situation by teasing. “Have you been watching horror movies by yourself again?”
“No,” Cameron protested. “I just had a bad day at work. That’s all.” He tried to smile at Chad. “I’ll be okay, now. I’m calmer.”
Chad’s brows came together in a frown. His partner was lying and both men knew it. “Are you going to tell me what is really bothering you or do you need some corner-time to think things over?”
“No,” Cameron replied, “to both questions.” He was treading on very thin ice and knew it, but he was feeling very fragile and the last thing he wanted was for Chad to say ‘I told you so’. He knew he was selling his partner short but just at the moment he felt out of control.
“Seeing as you are unable to make the choice, Cameron, I’ll make it for you.” Chad turned his partner around and, putting his hands on Cameron’s shoulders, steered him over to the nearest corner. Gently kneading the taunt muscles, Chad bent forward and spoke softly in his love’s ear.
“One of the things you may want to think about, Mugs, is whether or not you trust me.” He dropped a light kiss on Cameron’s head and with a final reassuring squeeze, left his Brat to contemplate his options.
Cameron just leaned against the wall. “This isn’t fair,” he complained. The last thing he wanted to do was think. “I do trust you,” he choked out after a few minutes. “I just got some mail that upset me, that’s all. Can I come out now?” he pleaded.
Recognizing the truth but also realizing information was being withheld, Chad nevertheless granted his Brat’s request. “Come here, Mugs.” He waited patiently while Cameron slowly shuffled across the floor and when the young man was close enough, Chad reached out and pulled him down on the sofa to sit beside him. “Care to share what was in the letter, love?”
Cameron kept his first response of ‘No’ from popping out. He reached into his back pocket and silently handed the letter over. “I don't know who it’s from,” he said as Chad silently read it. “I really don’t.” His voice broke in panic. “I felt someone following me home, but every time I looked around there was nobody there.”
Chad quickly perused the paper in his hand and worked at keeping his growing anger hidden. His eyes narrowed at the thought of someone frightening his lover in this manner. He placed the letter on the coffee table and lifted Cameron onto his lap. “We have no way on knowing how determined this person is, love, but we aren’t taking any chances.” All Chad’s protective instincts surfaced as he cuddled his clinging partner, threatening to overwhelm him.
“For the next little while, I do not want you out on your own. You are to be in the company of someone we both know well and trust whenever you leave the house. I will make it a point to come home and drive you to the lounge for your shifts.” Chad slowly and succinctly listed his directives.
Putting a finger under Cameron’s chin, Chad raised the young man’s head and gazed into his eyes. “I love you, baby, and I promise to do everything humanly possible to prevent someone harming you. That said, I’ll need your co-operation in following my instructions and keeping me informed of anything unusual going on around you. I also want you to let me know when someone or something upsets you. Can you do that for me, Mugs?”
Cameron’s eyes widened. He’d never seen Chad like this. There was no way he was going to argue with this incarnation of his lover. “Yes, I can do that,” he vowed. “Does that mean on my day off, I can’t go out?” he asked. “Can I come to work with you on Wednesday?” Cameron was more rattled than he’d admit even to himself.
“Of course, you can spend your day off at the mine with me, Mugs. I will certainly feel better knowing your whereabouts and that you’re safe. Just make sure you have enough of those games you like to keep you from being bored.” Chad winked at his partner then patted his hip to signal it was time to get up. “Let’s eat the supper I made while it’s still edible.”
It was Thursday and Cameron was much happier. He’d really enjoyed spending his day off at the mine. He stayed mainly in the office, using Chad’s computer to beat some of his highest previous scores. He’d challenged both Chad and Kipper to chess and beaten both of them. Chad had driven him to his shift today and he hopped out of the Ranger.
“See you later on,” he called out cheerfully and headed inside.“Hi, Suzie and Jenny,” he greeted his co-workers, one who was very new. He stopped short when he saw an envelope on the counter. He walked over slowly and gulped when he saw it was addressed to him. He opened it and read a bible verse from Leviticus that was printed on the page.
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination!” sprang out at him. He whimpered slightly as he read the rest. “You are mine, not his.”
Turning white, he took out his cell-phone and rang Chad. “I got another letter,” he whispered into the phone. He was really freaked-out.
Chad was at the lounge in just under fifteen minutes, having broken the speed limit to get there. Cameron was waiting in the office as he had been told to do, and curled up in one corner of the large leather sofa. Chad immediately lifted his distraught Brat and set about calming his fears.
After a lengthy period of murmuring words of love and reassurance, the older man asked to see the latest letter. His face tightened in anger as he read the message.
“Mugs baby, I know this is frightening but so far no actual threats have been made,” Chad stated calmly enough, having taken a deep breath to fortify himself in the face of the unwelcomed information he was about to share with his partner. “As much as I wish it otherwise, I don’t think the police can do anything about someone merely upsetting us by writing this drivel. I’m afraid for the time being, we are just going to have to wait things out and continue with what we’ve been doing all week. I know it will be hard to carry on like normal, but we really don’t have a choice.”
“Normal?” Cameron’s voice was shaking. “There’s a religious nut-bar out there, who’s fixated on me and you want normal?” He looked at Chad. “What’s worse,” he pointed out with a very slight smile, “Is that it is obviously a woman who wants me to be straight. If it was a guy, I could set a trap and beat the daylights out of him. I can’t do that to a woman.” Cameron usually turned fear into aggression. It was a coping strategy. “I hate this,” he mumbled, turning into his Top’s embrace and the feeling of safety there. “You’ll pick me up this afternoon, right?” he asked, his voice muffled.
Chad smiled and dropped a kiss on Cameron’s head. “By normal, Mugs, I meant that you’re not going into hiding. You’re going to stick to your everyday routine. As far as picking you up after work, I have another idea. I want to see if someone is stalking you. So when you leave here after your shift, I’ll be watching from the coffee shop across the street and will follow several minutes behind you. I’ll keep you in sight every step of the way home. How does that sound? Think you can walk home as if you don’t have a care in the world so you don’t let the cat out of the bag?”
“Okay,” Cameron agreed, willing to trust Chad with his life. “That sounds like a plan.”
Chad left and Cameron went back to work as if nothing was wrong. It was some of the best acting he’d ever done and by midnight at the end of his shift, he was living on his nerves. “See you tomorrow, ladies,” he said to the bar staff, smiling brightly.
As he emerged into the street, he glanced around casually and after catching a glimpse of Chad in the coffee shop, turned and started the ten minute walk home. He kept his ears tuned for any unusual sounds and jumped when a car backfired nearby.
Chad shook his head in loving exasperation when he saw Cameron looking around. He watched his partner turn homeward and kept his eyes peeled for anyone who appeared in any way atypical. He observed a woman leaving the pool hall and immediately went on the alert when she turned in the same direction Cameron had taken. ‘Hmm, is she taking the scenic route home, running an errand maybe, or…?’ he silently speculated.
Seeing no one else looking at all suspicious and not wanting to lose sight of his partner, Chad got up and followed at a safe distance. Fortunately, due to the good lighting in town, he had no trouble keeping her in sight. His eyes narrowed in displeasure when the woman continued to take the same shortcut as Cameron; the path that led to the area of town their home was located in. The big man growled when she stopped outside the house his partner had just entered.
Once Cameron stepped into the house, he took a couple of deep breaths. His curiosity kicked in and he looked out the windows next to the front door to see if Chad had caught anybody. His blood heated up when he saw who was standing on the footpath and he flung open the door.
“Suzie,” he almost yelled. “Was it you? You bitch; I trusted you. We work together for Christ’s sake.” He looked at the lounge’s newest bar maid in disgust. “Why the hell would I leave that,” he looked pointedly over her shoulder at Chad, “for a slag like you, even if I was fucking straight?” Cameron was spitting mad.
“Cameron,” Chad called out firmly as he crossed the street. “Go into the house, please.” He saw his lover hesitate before turning to slowly carry out his order, while looking furiously over his shoulder. “Close the door, Cameron. I’ll be in shortly.”
Chad spent the next several minutes talking to Suzie, fully aware of his partner watching everything from his vantage point behind the window curtain. The big man had been surprised when his employee had burst into tears at his partner’s harsh words and had found himself soothing badly hurt feelings. He eventually sent the somewhat bewildered young woman on her way and went in to inform Cameron of the conclusion reached and how the problem had been resolved.
“Why did you hug her?” Cameron burst out as soon as his partner stepped into the house. “She scared me and stalked me and you hugged her.” His voice showed his disbelief.
“Calm down, Mugs, and let’s go into the kitchen to talk things over,” Chad patiently suggested. He smiled as he led the way, all the while listening to his Brat stomping along behind him. He plugged in the kettle and reached into the cupboard. “Want some hot chocolate?” Getting a begrudging nod, he took down two cups and set about making it. Once they were seated at the table with their drinks and a plate of cookies, he started on his explanation.
“I was merely trying to make her feel better; the words you spewed without thought were very hurtful.” Chad face clearly indicated he had not been impressed. “I know you were upset and had every right to be, but that in no way excuses you from saying such hateful things. You should have stayed in the house and let me handle it as you seemed disinclined to control your temper.” Chad paused to give his Brat a few seconds to mull this over.
Swallowing a mouthful of his drink, the older man reached for a cookie and continued. “It appears that Suzie took your flirting to heart. She chose to completely ignore the fact that you flirt with everyone and believed you wanted her but at the same time didn’t know what to do about me. Although she has a sweet nature, Cameron, she certainly doesn’t stand out in a crowd and from what I can gather, is rather lonely. In her mind, she put together this over-the-top scenario of the two of you getting together. Why she thought fear tactics would work is beyond me, but she now accepts that nothing is going to come of it and that you and I are in a permanent relationship.” Chad leaned forward and glared at his partner. “It is quite possible all this could have been avoided had you curtailed your habit of flirting so much.”
Then he sighed and sat back to enjoy his bedtime snack, taking it for granted that in what for him had been a long-winded speech, he had covered all the bases and the subject was now closed. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
“She’s bonkers,” Cameron argued. “Absolutely mad!” He looked at Chad. “How you can blame me, I don’t know,” he pouted. “I was only friendly to her. I never came on to her. I hope you fired her ass!” His temper hadn’t noticeably cooled.
“Suzie is not ‘bonkers’, although I agree she does have some unconventional social skills.” Chad rolled his eyes, knowing he had understated the obvious. “I did not fire her, but I’ll be changing her shifts so hers do not coincide with yours. She is a good employee, Mugs. She is honest, good with the cash and customers, and keeps herself busy. Even in down times, she finds something to do. I know you did not lead her on or anything. Suzie just totally misread your actions.”
“Chaaaad,” Cameron whined. “She scared me. I don’t care how good she is, I think she should be fired. What if she sends more notes?” He shivered at the mere thought and crawled into Chad’s arms, straddling his legs and seeking reassurance. “You’re mine,” he said. “I don’t want anybody else.”
“I’m sorry, babe, I know you were scared but it’s over now.” Chad hugged his partner and kissed his cheek. “Suzie promised me she’d leave you alone and with the shift changes, the two of you probably won’t meet up all that often. I’ve made a lot of friends since moving here to Jade Heights, Mugs, Suzie’s family among them. I gave her a chance to work at the lounge as a bit of a favour and up until this episode, it has worked out very well. She is a bit younger than you and doesn’t have anywhere near the worldly experience you have, so let’s cut her a break, okay?”
“Okay,” Cameron complied with his partner’s request. “I guess I can do that for you.” He moved as close to Chad as he could and started to unbutton his Top’s shirt. “Want to make love?” he asked, running his hand over Chad’s chest.
“I think that can be arranged,” Chad replied, grabbing the roaming hand. “Let’s take it upstairs, love. It is almost one in the morning and our bed is so much more comfortable than the kitchen table. Challenging though the table is, it is not where I want to fall asleep.” Chad had something further to discuss with Cameron but decided it would best be tackled when his partner was feeling contented and secure; well-rested would also be a plus.
Slipping his hands under Cameron’s butt, he stood up and arranged his partner to make carrying him easier. Once in their room, he quickly undressed both of them and tossed the younger man onto the bed. Exercising complete control, Chad flipped his lover onto his stomach, expertly prepared him and slowly entered the welcoming warmth. After giving Cameron a few moments to adjust to being filled, Chad set up a rhythm of deep, powerful thrusts, making sure to hit his lover’s sweet spot with each one. He reached under Cameron, wrapped a big hand around his lover’s shaft and began to stroke him closer and closer to a climax. It didn’t take long before both men were gasping as they reached the pinnacle together. Chad gave one final thrust and withdrew, falling face down next to his partner to catch his breath.
Turning slightly, Chad gathered Cameron into his arms and kissed him. “I love you, baby,” he murmured to the sleepy man nestled against his side. He reached down and drew the quilt over them, knowing their sweaty bodies would soon cool and he wouldn’t feel like fumbling around for a blanket when half-asleep.
“Love you too, big man,” Cameron mumbled and fell asleep being spooned by Chad.
Cameron was disappointed when he woke the next morning to find the bed empty. He had been hoping for an early morning quickie. He rolled over and the smell of cooking bacon hit his nose. He made a quick visit to the bathroom and made his way to the kitchen. His eyes dwelt on Chad and he marveled again that he was with such a handsome man. “Hey, lover,” he greeted cheerfully. “What’s for breakfast?”
“Food,” Chad answered with a grin. He held out an arm to invite the other man closer for a cuddle while he turned the bacon with his other hand. “Coffee’s on and there’s pancakes keeping warm in the oven. Everything is ready,” he said as he moved the cooked bacon to a plate with a paper towel on it.
They carried on a companionable conversation during the meal and it was just when they were finishing the cleaning up that Chad dropped his bombshell.
“Come sit on the sofa with me, Mugs. There is something I want to talk over with you before your shift this afternoon.” Chad invited, hanging up the damp dish towel. He had already notified Kipper that he’d be late to the mine this morning. The big guy was prepared for his partner not being too receptive to what he had to tell him.
Cameron cocked his head to one side. “Why so serious?” he teased. “Shouldn’t you be going to work?” He went to sit on his lover’s lap.
Chad shifted Cameron until he was straddling his thighs. He found it more comfortable and he also wanted to be face to face with the younger man.
“I am not going in this morning because I take what I want to talk about very serious,” Chad firmly stated, wrapping his arms around Cameron’s waist. “It isn’t exactly new; just some addition information has come to light since this stalking business began. And before I start, I want it clearly understood that I’ll not put up with any temper tantrums. Got it?” The big man stared sternly into face in front of him.
Cameron was impressed with Chad’s serious demeanor. This didn’t sound good, so he braced himself. “Got it,” he replied.
“After leaving you at the lounge yesterday, I did a bit of investigating by checking out the number of strangers in town. I learned that aside from a few older guests at the inn and half a dozen families still staying at the campground, most of last week’s tourists had moved on, including the group your Goth friend was with. I concluded it was safe to rule out summer visitors as possible suspects.” Chad paused to see if his partner was listening and smiled at the realization that the young man was hanging on to his every word.
“So next I made a couple of phone calls and learned some very interesting facts from your past.” Chad did not allow Cameron’s look of shock and indignation to deter him. “Your flirting has caused you problems in the past, hasn’t it? This is not the first incident to arise due to your habit of being overly ‘friendly’ as you call it. Your last boss, Henry, was more than willing to enlighten me about a certain situation involving an over-zealous fan. I phoned him out of concern when it hit me the person stalking you might be an old nemesis.”
Cameron bit his lip. “It’s not my fault,” he protested. “As a model, I had to promote the clothes and sex sells.” He looked at Chad. “It was part of the job and one of the guys in the audience thought it was directed at him.” Cameron shuddered. “Man, I almost got raped. I don’t do sexy when I’m at the lounge. I’m just friendly, for fuck sake.”
“Watch your language, Cameron,” Chad firmly admonished. “I know you believe you’re only being friendly; but as you’ve learned the hard way on more than one occasion, others sometimes have a tendency to put a different spin on things. Even Henry seemed inclined to do so, as he gave me the impression that you often maintained eye contact with people in the audience even after being repeatedly told not to. Was he blowing things out of proportion or was he pretty much on the money, Cameron?” Chad spoke calmly. It wasn’t his intention to accuse his love of deliberately enticing people; he was merely looking for answers in order to avoid a repeat of this frightening situation the young man had found himself in.
“Oh come on, Chad. I’d never get a job again if I ignored the orders of the people on the catwalk. As for Henry, after the way I walked out on him he’s never going to say anything good now, is he? He always wanted my ass. He hinted often enough if I put out I’d get better jobs.” Cameron took a deep breath, calming himself down as he thought for a minute. “Okay, sometimes I flirt a bit too much,” he admitted. “But most people flirt back. In the year I’ve worked at the bar, I’ve maybe had four or five people who wanted to take it further but they all backed off when I told them to. This is the only time I’ve ever had a stalker.” He looked at Chad. “The only person I want is right here in the room with me. You know that.”
“This has never been about us, Cameron, or how we feel about one another. It has been about you being badly frightened and us trying to find ways to avoid it happening again.” Having come to the conclusion that further discussion would get them nowhere, Chad opted to end it and move on. “Seeing as you no longer consider it a problem that is in danger of rearing its’ ugly head again, we’ll let it drop and say no more about it.”
Chad had his doubts that history would not repeat itself but was willing to let events come to pass as they may. He was determined to watch over his partner from a distance and as long as Cam was safe, Chad would patiently wait while the younger man learned some of life’s lessons on his own.
Patting Cameron’s hip to get him moving; Chad got them both on their feet. “Well, Mugs, I’m off to the mine. I’ll see you at the lounge later this afternoon. Have a good day. Love you.” He kissed his partner good bye, grabbed up his jacket and headed out the door.