The Centerpiece

“Tabitha, this house is just unbelievable! Who is your decorator? I simply must know.” Angelica looked around the living room. The marble floors, the large, plush rugs, the exquisite furniture. Every piece was decadent. The detail was unequivocally riveting, and Angelica felt as if she could just sink into the over-sized leather couch, cover herself with the cream-colored, cashmere throw, and lose herself in the 1st edition Lady Chatterley’s Lover on the coffee table.

“Michael Evansfield planned and oversaw the whole process. It was a stunning thing to watch him work…the drawings, the fabric swatches, the dreamy young men he brought to assist him. I’m telling you, Angelica, you could give up television and reading altogether with a crew like that around. Pure, sensual entertainment.”

“Well, this is going to be a fabulous open-house, Tabby. Everyone will be so jealous. What are you serving?”

“That’s a whole separate and wonderful affair. Michael hooked me up with the chef at Tempranillo. His cuisine is like an orgasm melting on your tongue, I’m telling you. He’s made all these wonderful, little appetizers, and Michael promised an enticing display.”

“Ooh, it sound scrumptious. I can hardly wait.”

“Well, Michael won’t let me see it until all the ladies arrive. He says he’s cooked up a lovely surprise for us all.”


“Ladies, ladies, ladies…” Michael burst into the room in a flurry of satin and velvet and spicy cologne. He stood with his legs perfectly straight and connected at the knees, his hands clasped under his chin, and an impish grin to pull them all in.

“I have such a treat for you tonight, ladies.” He walked toward Tabitha and took her hand in his. “Over the past several months, I have grown to adore this woman. Her sense of style and her willingness to allow my creative instincts to make this house into an unrivaled beauty have just made my heart swell with gratitude. I’m so happy to have had the chance to work for such a gracious and charming woman.” Michael then leaned forward a bit, putting his hand to the side of his face as if telling a secret, and in a low voice, he said, “Not to mention that she’s virtually filled my bank account to overflowing in the process.” The small crowd of women laughed and clapped in their upper-class way, controlled and just a touch condescending.

“And so…ladies…I implore you to follow me into the dining room. If you thought this room was to die for, you will be heady from the perfection of the next, pardon my immodesty.”

The ladies collected like a group of noisy hens and followed Michael through the French doors into the dining room. Sudden gasps and squeaks and other noises of surprise and shock came from various corners of the room as the women took in their surroundings. From the pastoral paintings in ornate gold frames to the glossy mahogany table and the deep burgundy brocade drapes, the extravagant, yet oddly understated feel of the room was almost enough to draw the eyes away from the centerpiece.

Or not.

In the middle of the table, what seemed to be the statue of a young man, naked, his muscular body transfixed in the process of an upward undulation, began to move, ever so slowly.

“Oh….my….god.” Tabitha went pale as a pearl and looked around at her guests to gauge their reaction.

Judging by the grins, averted eyes, and blushing cheeks, she made the assumption that the ladies were quite uncomfortable. But, in minutes, not one pair of those averted eyes could stray from the scene unfolding on the table.

The man, seemed to be in the throes of ecstasy. His hips pulsed slowly toward the ceiling and then back to the gleaming, mirror-like surface of the table. His reflection rippled beneath him.

From within the group of women, huddled in a circle like wintering penguins, Angelica emerged.

“I have to see this more closely.” She walked toward the table. Looking at Michael, who stood off to the side, beaming with delight, she asked, “Can I touch him?”

Michael grinned, a deep, throaty laugh boiled up from his diaphragm. “My dear, he’s a work of art…how else are you going to fully appreciate him if you don’t touch him?”

Angelica reached out and touched his abdomen, the muscles there contracting with his smooth, wave-like movements. Like an electrical current, the energy he exuded traveled through her fingers, up her arm, and down her shoulder, resting in the small of her back at the base of her spine.

“Oh, good lord, that is a fine specimen.”

If it were even possible, Michael’s grin widened. “Well, my love, to truly experience art, you must take it in through all of your senses. He walked to the side of the marble-topped buffet and picked up a tapestry-covered footstool. Moving toward Angelica, he placed the stool at her feet.

“May I?” He offered her his hand.

With a look of confusion, she took his hand and stepped up, boosting herself on to the table.

“Ah, ah, ah…let me take those lovely Jimmy Choos of yours. Wouldn’t want to scratch the beautiful finish, now would we? Watch your nails, too, hon…

Angelica, having no clue what to do next, now that she was on the table, beside the naked man, a wide-eyed bevy of gossipy, wealthy women staring at them, mouths agape.

Which sense to test first? Smell…taste?

Michael reached out and placed a tiny cracker, covered with a dollop of caviar, on the man’s stomach.

“See if you can enjoy that tasty treat without the use of your hands, love.”

Angelica’s eyes twitched back briefly to her little crowd of anxious spectators. What the hell? She thought. And she leaned forward, on her hands and knees, slipping her tongue beneath the cracker, placing her lips on his skin. The smell of him was primal. And she noticed his skin glistened as if rubbed down with gold shimmer. She heard him part his lips and exhale as she lifted the cracker into her mouth. And from the corner of her eye, she saw his member twitch to life. It made her forget herself. It made her forget the people in the room. It made her forget everything but the taste of his salty, sweet flesh.

And, good god was she starving.


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