The Velvet Glove is rebuilding after the destruction of the bombing. Everything is will be new and improved, and a new generation of men will be taking over the day to day running of the place.
Efren is one such man. Promoted from simple trainer to in charge of the training salles, he’s focused on getting the place up and running along with Hawk and Jester. Something is distracting him, though, pulling at him.
Mabon, a Setian – a race that’s ultra-sensitive to pheromones and the chemistry of love and sex – is one of the workers brought in to paint the new walls. He knows he’s not allowed to interact with the Glove residents, none of the workers are, but for him it’s especially important given his race. He too has been distracted, though, a song building inside him.
When Efren and Mabon finally meet, they are immediately drawn to each other as surely as two magnets. Efren is sure they are meant to be, but Mabon is worried. They come from two very different stations in life and he knows he’s about to be sent away. Can they really find a happy ending together, or are they doomed from the start?
Mabon turned his earphones up, focusing on painting the heat-aware nanopaint onto the walls. This place was going to be... interesting, when it was done. So many odd rooms, interesting constructions. One of the electricians said that there were alarms in every room. Every one. What type of place needed alarms?
Focus. Focus, Mabon.
There was an air of tension in the air here, a constant internal song that tried to distract him, tug him away from the comforting silence of work, of the static pushing into his ears to help him focus.
Someone came in, their shadow falling across his workspace and he winced, hoping it would continue on and ignore him, but it didn’t. It stayed.
He stood and removed the earphones, the rush of song loud and sudden enough that he swayed a moment, dizzy with it. The shadow reached out from him and he backed away, shook his head. No. No, that… that would be bad.
"I'll be done in here in ten minutes, but no one can touch for a day." He tried not to look at anyone he didn't know. His boss had been very clear. No looking. No eye contact. And he would be deported if he formed a bond with someone of a higher caste.
"What is that you're painting on the wall?" The man's voice was deep, he might even say thrilling.
"The paint reacts to body heat."
"Oh, very nice."
He nodded, then got back to work, careful to cover the wall evenly.
The guy didn’t leave, and he could feel eyes on him. Watching. The bond-song battered at him, making his shoulders tight, his heart race.
Mabon finished his project, then stepped away from the wall, putting out his blinking floor sign that said, "no touching".
"Oh, that's good."
"Hmm?" He looked over, the glance instinctive. Strong. Lovely. He looked away before he could see more than that. "The nanites will be active in a day or so."
"Oh, I meant the no touching sign. In a place where touching is very much the reason for its existence."
"Well, you touch the paint and I'll just have to redo it and my boss will bitch."
The corner of the man's mouth twitched. "I was teasing, lovely."
Lovely? Him? That was funny. Maybe it meant something else wherever this man that he was absolutely not looking at came from. Planets were weird.
"So, does this mean you're finished work for the day?"
"Yes. This is the end of my work week. I'll… I’ll get out of your way." He had a long ride home and traffic was terrible. He hadn't seen his room in ten days and Mabon was ready. Sleep, an air shower.
"Excellent. You can have dinner with me."
"I... Pardon me?"
The man smiled and he was stunning, really stunning and, oh, by the moons, Mabon was looking. "I would like to have dinner with you."
Tall and fine, the stranger stole his breath away and shaking his head was the hardest thing he’d ever done. "I only have a few moments before the transport leaves, I'm sorry."
"My quarters are finished and I have a guest room." The man held out his hand. "I'm Efren.
"Mabon. They told us not to look, even. I prob'ly shouldn't."
"You didn't look -- I did." One long-fingered hand reached out, touched his arm, tested his muscles. "I'm still looking and I like what I see."
"I..." Oh. Oh, man. He was going to. He. Whoa. Electricity buzzed through him, the song in his head enough to blur his vision.
"Mabon? Are you finished?" His boss, Xen, rounded the corner. "What did I tell you about interacting with the residents, boy?"
"I'm sorry." Moons. Moons, focus. Breathe.
This sound came out of Efren, a growl from deep in his chest and it was magnificent. "He's not your boy."
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