The Mask
Chapter Two

Justin couldn't look away from Brian's hazel eyes, nor did he pull his hand away from the warm clasp of the other man's. Justin couldn't say how long they stood there, gazes locked, hands clasped tightly. Gradually, the low murmurings of the other guest penetrated the Justin's mind, and with a self conscious look about, he regretfully pulled his hand from the older man's. He gave a soft laugh, and flushed, looking back up at Brian; he was happy to see remorse also in the hazel eyes gazing back into his own, as their hands parted. Justin half turned and with a twist of his head, indicated that Brian should follow.

"Brian, if you will follow me, I can show you some of the other works we have here at MG's," Justin led Brian away from the crowds, toward the rear of the gallery. The pair walked along silently, Brian eyeing the works on the walls, and Justin eyeing the brunette. The older man studied several pieces, but asks Justin no questions. Finally, Justin broke the silence. "Brian, what are you looking for?" Justin asked, and at the man's confused look, he clarified. "For example," he started. "Are you looking for pieces for home or a business setting?" Justin waved a hand toward a large section of wall, covered in bright canvases.

Brian followed Justin to the wall; he inspected the works there, pleased. "These are great," he said, "and it's for home." He answered Justin's earlier question. "I just bought a new loft overlooking the lake," he offered, silently assuring Justin, thought Justin would have never asked, the clothes alone telling the tale that he could afford any of the paintings displayed. Lake front property was the best to be had in Chicago.

Justin waved hand at a large canvas dominating the center of the wall. "These are works by Patrick Creighton. He is one of my favorites and an inspiration in my own work," Justin said, captivated and moved as always by Creighton work. Justin knew he should not be so familiar or open with a customer, not should he have remarked on his own preferences, but there was something about the hazel-eyed man that inviting and put him at ease.

Brain turned to Justin. "You're an artist," he questioned? "Are any of your works displayed here?"

Justin cringed. Shit, he thought. MG would kill him if he led a customer away from some very expensive art to look at his much cheaper paintings. "O-oh, uhm," he stammered. "That's okay-" but Brian stopped his words by laying a finger across Justin's lips. Justin flushed and shut-up. Only then did Brian remove his finger, and Justin couldn't resist. He licked his lips, the salty aftertaste of Brian sending a flash of heat to his groin.

Brian smirked at the telltale flash of desire he saw in the young man's eyes. "I want to see your work. If your boss asked, I insisted," Brian smiled down into Justin's blue eyes, letting the younger man see the answering desire in his own.

Justin nodded and led Brian to a corner, where two of his works hung. The first, Deceptive Blue was just that, deceptive. It appeared at first just some layers of different shades of blue, but if one looked close enough, a pattern emerged. It reminded Brian of the ocean, and watching wave after wave roll over each other. The second piece, Flashpoint, was all reds and oranges. It looked like a bright out of control Sun, burning, and in the center a figure being consumed by the fire. Brian loved them both.

Brian turned to Justin, who had been standing nervously behind the older man, hiding. He couldn't say why, but Brian's opinion mattered to him. Brian grinned at the nervous young man. "Not bad," he said. "Not bad at all!" Brian said, turning back to look at the two once more, he said. "I want both."

Justin's smile lit up the room and quickened Brian's heart. "Are you sure," Justin asked. He bit his bottom lip. "You're not just saying that?"

"No really," Brian reassured him. "They're perfect for my home."

Justin nodded and tried to act professional, but he knew the grin gave him away. "Okay, well follow me and I'll write them up and arrange for delivery." He led Brian back to the manager's office, so excited that he was almost skipping. This was his very first sale, unless you counted family and friends. But this was the first professional sale and he liked the idea of this gorgeous man having his work displayed in his home. Justin wrote up the tickets and got Brian's credit card information as well as the address and expected delivery date. Once completed, he led Brian back out into the gallery, very sorry to see their time together ending.

Justin turned to Brian, still beaming. "Thank you, Brian. That was my first professional sale."

Brian took the young man's hand once more, giving it a squeeze before releasing it. "Something tells me that it is the only the first of many, many more. You are very talented, Justin," he said, enjoying once more the pink flush that came over the boy's fair skin; and he wondered if the boy's entire body flushed that becoming a color when he came? Taking a chance, Brian reached in and pulled out a business card with only his Chicago information on it. He handed it to Justin. "Since I was responsible for your first sale, how about we celebrate? By allowing me to take you to dinner?" he coaxed.

If possible, Justin's smile got even brighter. "I'd like that, a lot," he said, beaming at Brian.

Brian couldn't help but smile right back. "Well, then why don't you give me call and let me know what night is good for you."

"I'll do that," Justin replied as he pocketed the card. Oh, he would defiantly being calling. "Thanks again, Brian, and enjoy the paintings," he said, not saying good bye. He didn't know why, but he did not want to say good bye to Brian.

"Later," Brian said with one last smile.

"Later," Justin whispered, watching until Brian got into a cab and disappeared.

To be continued...