Malcolm watched them.

The restaurant he was sitting in was decorated like a 1940’s supper club and everyone around him was in the various stages of letting their hair down. Carrick had arranged for everyone who participated in the play to find a change of semi-formal clothing backstage, and transportation waiting in front of the school to take everyone to an after-party to end all after-parties. In the rented out restaurant, parents and friends were waiting for the entrance of their stars for the evening.

After a four star meal, the young people and their families’ were in the process of tearing up the dance floor. Carrick had stayed behind in the school to handle some of the behind-the-scenes maneuverings one had to field when one took thirty-some odd kids and their families out for the evening. Mal had seen him slip in a few moments ago and watched as Carrick was quickly cornered by a couple of female teenage admirers. Carrick cast a desperate look over at their table, before the girls said something and Carrick dutifully followed them out to the dance floor. Within moments, he was surrounded.

Malcolm looked at the sleek watch on his arm, then made a mental note to rescue his lover in a few minutes, but he had some other fish to fry first. He and Camille had been working overtime for the last few hours, talking to all of the participants of the play and meeting all of the families. Unfortunately, they also seemed to be working opposite sides of the room the whole evening as well. Mal had just finished his rounds and was studying Camille as she finish talking to her last family, then duck out of a door that was almost completely hidden by dark drapes. All evening he found himself tracking her, something about her seemed lighter, maybe even a little brighter. Her smiles seemed spontaneous; she seemed so present, living in the moment. She glowed.

He knew this was his moment to talk to her quietly. In the classroom earlier that evening, as they took a secon to breathe from the heat of their kiss they were interrupted. In the next seconds they were both given a laundry list of last minute tasks that had to be completed before curtains went up. They hadn’t a chance to really say anything to each other as they parted ways in the classroom, both rushing to do their part in making sure the night was magical for these special young people.

Mal glanced at his tablemates as he planted his palms on the table to help him stand. The jet lag was beginning to kick his ass. Storm and Julia were across the table from each other, trading their usual razor sharp quips. Jake had left a little while ago to answer an important phone call regarding one of his patient’s, but something was in the air between Julia and Jake. Jake made sure he was at her elbow all night and Julia seemed torn between being close to him and dodging him all. Julia need someone good in her life, Mal just hoped that she gave Jake a chance.

Malcolm paused in his attempt to heave himself out of the chair as a quaking young man with a name tattooed, in cursive, on the side of his neck and black nail polish on his fingernails stuttered as he bravely faced Storm and asked to dance with his wife.

Storm looked like he was revving up to give the kid a lecture about-who knew what-so Lisa quickly cut in with, “I would be happy do dance with you.”Patting her husband on the shoulder as she quickly side stepped Storm while lead the young man to the dance floor.

Storm looked perplexed. Julia hooted in glee, teasing Storm unmercifully about this supposed “competition.”

The sight made Malcolm smile. These were Carrick’s friends, who somehow turned into Mal’s friends. Their family. To the casual observer a bunch of crazy people, but to Mal and Carrick, friends who willing dropped whatever was going on in their own complicated professional and personal lives at the barest crook of a finger from another in their circle.

Mal drew a contented breath. He wanted the capture the evening as if he could freeze it like one of Carrick’s great-aunt’s kooky snow globes. In those moments when he wanted to relive the feelings he was having right now; possessive, indulgent, amused, he wish he could just pull it out and shake it to conjour the precious time when he could finally harbor hope that they might have a shot at being together.

Sure, staying away was torture, but the idea of not giving Carr and Camille a chance to figure out their shit was worse.

They were both so stubborn. Once he was in China, he realized that if he stood between them, they would never see each other clearly. They both were calculating enough to use him against himself and each other. His realization didn’t stop the heartbreak he felt at the sound of the pain in his lover’s voice every evening-unresolved memories from that past that always resurfaced at his family’s homestead, coupled with the prickliness of his interactions with Camille. Malcolm didn’t know if he was being unnecessarily cruel by trying to force to undeniably opposing forces to connect. Scared as he was that he had drastically miscalculated and he would be responsible for one or the other’s death, Mal also knew that Carrick was at his most vulnerable at The Pride. If Camille had to a chance to see Carrick at his most open, where his barriers were the weakest, she might see the man he loved the way he did, strong, sometimes impenetrable…but still a man.

Finally, after too many weeks, when Malcolm could take no more, he called for the plane. For fourteen hours, distracted from the work he had brought on the flight, he second guessed his own motivations, actions and decisions. Finally landing at the airport, certain that he would be entering a situation laced with bloodshed, he come home to an amazing evening. The biggest shock beginning with seeing Carrick holding Camille’s hand in one of the classrooms. Everything that may have needed to be said was unnecessary when Carrick left him in the room alone with Camille. No way in hell would Carrick have done that freely a couple of months ago.

When I took her in my arms, she felt soft, warm and pliable against me. Malcolm couldn’t help but smile to himself.

The jet lag must be getting to him. Standing there with a goofy grin watching his friends wasn’t getting him any closer to Camille. He was thrilled that Carrick had organized such an unforgettable evening and that everyone was having a great time. But he ready to fall into bed with Carrick, and Camille if he could talk her into it. The kiss they shared earlier in the classroom only wetted his appetite for more.

He stood up, feeling the tug of gravity more than ever, but resisting it as he made a step toward the door Camille disappeared behind.

“Where’re you going?” Storm asked, interrupting his conversation with Julia, watching as if he already knew the answer.

Mal suspected that Storm was asking so much more and Julia’s next question confirmed his suspicions.

Concern was evident in her eyes.“Are you sure about this? Your relationship with Carrick is perfect. Bringing other people into a relationship you treasure can be disastrous.” Julia’s blonde bob shifted slightly as her eyes slid toward Storm. “Don’t test everything you count on for a whim.”

Malcolm watched Jake draw close to the table and his seat next to Julia. Jake seemed to hesitate for a moment as he pulled his chair out. Julia stiffened, avoiding acknowledging the doctor had joined the table.


He gestured to the double French doors, tucked behind thick drapes, on the side of the room close to their table.“I’m going to talk to Camille. She’s out on the balcony.” Malcolm turned to fully meet Julia look of evident concern, “There are no whims here.” He gently assured her.”What we could have is all too real, but I love you for looking out for us.” Mal couldn’t help the grin that slipped onto his face as he watched the interplay, or lack thereof, between those who were left at their table., “It looks like we all have some work in front of us in figuring out our new relationships.” Before he walked away he caught Julia sticking her tongue at him and Jake’s brooding eyes. Mal couldn’t help but shake his head as he continued toward his destination.

Malcolm faintly heard Storm caution Julia, “Didn’t you mother ever tell you about sticking your tongue out like that? It might just get stuck that way.”


The restaurant was a converted warehouse that on the outside was relatively non-descript. As Camille stepped onto a balcony, to her surprise she found not so much a balcony, but a glass encased room filled with lush, vibrant tropical flowers. The effect was something from a sultry scene in A Street Car Named Desire, and she could almost believe, from the corner of her eye, she could see Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando acting out one of their play of amorous tension. The air hung heavy with the scent of gardenias. Though her mind knew she was in what amounted in a carefully contrived hot house, the space gave the authentic feeling of one of her most favorite cities in the world.

Carrick, or his assistant, had found a gem. Camille silently commented to herself, as she moved to the ornate wrought iron railing that was twisted and molded into whimsical patterns around the perimeter of the room. The sexiness of the south and the “Big Easy” was unexpectedly dropped into no-nonsense New York. Something else to add to an already perfect evening. Camille leaned against the edge to take in the tangible, dreamy voluptuousness of her surroundings, with the “City That Never Sleeps” as its backdrop.

In a person’s life she, or he, should have that one perfect night. The night that surpasses every idea of divine bliss one could ever conceive. It should be one of those inalienable rights…one evening in your life where all of your dreams come true. A few hours before Camille would have thought the idea was trite, romance novel drivel. Now as she stared into the night, watching the lights of the bustling city below, she knew had experienced it. It existed. Now she wanted everyone to have their due. Every child on that stage tonight, behind the curtains and in front, had the opportunity to stand in perfection. All she wanted to do was hold them all in her arms and whisper to them to remember. Remember what you’re feeling in these seconds of thundering applause, and guard it well for you may have to draw on this feeling to get through those moments when the lights won’t come on and the world seems cold and gray.

And the bad stuff will come. Her mind chided.

Camille unconsciously shook her head. She didn’t want to think about the inevitable doses of life’s most bitter pills. It was time to turn the page on all that.

“You’re so beautiful tonight.”

Malcolm. She turned at the sound of his voice and studied him as he moved closer to her. He took a second to take in their surroundings.

“He’s unbelievable.” He commented.

“Carrick certainly doesn’t believe in half measures. I can see now why you love him so much. I almost can’t believe I am saying this, but he’s growing on me too.” Camille smiled as she responded. Malcolm looked as if he didn’t know what to do with himself. A few hours ago he kissed her like she was his last source of oxygen. Now the consummate gentleman was waiting for sign that he was an invited guest.

“I missed you.” He looked as if he was trying to store the sight of her in his memory banks.

“So why did you stay away so long?”

Malcolm didn’t want to crowd her, but he could be so close to her and not feel her. He made the decision to make the few steps closed the gap that separated them, leaning in close to her, trapping her body between his arms, his body barely skimming hers to whisper in her ear. Camille heart couldn’t help but beat faster. “Now you know his secret.”

He didn’t answer my question. But she was willing to go along with Malcolm’s playful manner, while finding out a few of Carrick’s secrets.

She imagined that didn’t have Carrick a lot of secrets, he could afford not to bother with them, but she was curious to find out the few he did keep. She couldn’t help but lean even closer to Malcolm to share this one.

“He’s a hopeless romantic.”

Camille tried to fit the doctorial egomaniac Carrick she had become well acquainted with to the new romantic side she was just getting to know. Somehow it worked. Somehow it was pretty hot. “Knowing he did this for you must being an amazing feeling.” She let her cheek rest against Malcolm’s, secretly telegraphing to him, Are you sure there is enough room between the two of you for me?

Malcolm pulled back the merest millimeters to look at her as though he sensed her comment had a trick in it somewhere. “I think that this evening in some part has something to do with these kids being important to me, and he wanting to show support for what I care about. I’m also Carrick’s bridge to the communities we work within. He doesn’t get the chance to take blocks of time and volunteer and serve the causes he cares about. I am sure once I get in the office and talk to schools administration, I will find out that Carrick’s had taken the small seeds we’ve sown here and turned our efforts into some huge demonstration project.

Camille couldn’t help but giggle.

Malcolm watched as Camille suddenly transformed into a giggling teenager. “What?” He asked. Then it dawned on him. “He’s already announced it, right?”

Camille didn’t trust herself to talk and could only nod in agreement.

Malcolm could only imagine the additional work on his desk, surrounding whatever Carrick had managed to conjure up, unrestrained by legal advice and caution.

She saw the exasperation in his face and stepped closer to him, running her hands up his arms from his elbows to his forearm. “Don’t worry, I’ll help you any way I can.”

“So, can I take that as you saying you’ll be staying around?” He let his hands drop to her waist, so he could pull her closer, allowing their hips to rock against each other.

Camille sighed. He felt good against her body, she’d wanted this, with him, since forever. Things seeming to work out with Carrick was a bonus, but the reasons she held herself back from the possibility of Malcolm were still very real, regardless of his relationship with Carrick. “How exactly does this work?”

Malcolm was puzzled. “What do you mean?”

Camille wasn’t sure if Malcolm wasn’t playing stupid, because she damn well knew he was smarter than the average Homo Sapien. She stepped out of his arms and pressed herself against the railing and explained. “First, you’re gay. When I first met you, you didn’t seem like you were on the fence about that. Second, I don’t want us to get in the middle of this thing, my heart gets all involved and then you suddenly decide that pussy ain’t your thing… again.” She gave him a look daring him to laugh. “Then there is the jealously factor. How the heck do we give each other everything that’s necessary in a relationship? Granted I’m not an expert in this, but in my field I listen to a lot of “woe is me, my wife, or husband doesn’t see me anymore.” Those are relationships with just two people, how the heck do we cope with three people vying for attention?”

Camille was looking at him clearly expecting some reassurance, but honestly Malcolm’s mind was in a loop, re-running what her mouth looked liked as it formed the word “pussy”. He flashed on what she would look like on her knees with that dirty mouth wrapped around his cock.

Finally his brain performed an instant replay of everything she said and it was Malcolm’s turn to try to hold in his laughter. Really? Pussy ain’t his thing? Her spin was funny, and her mouth was sexy as hell, but there was a fundamental truth to her words. Malcolm thoughts sobered him. While he was away he had been doing his own thinking about exactly what she was talking about. He hadn’t expected to have to sort his feelings into words so soon, but she deserved a thoughtful answer.

Malcolm stepped back from her and crossed his arms against his chest and cautiously looked at the woman he knew he loved.

Though Camille had stepped back from him first, she felt the loss of him. She also felt the faintness of fear steal over her. Maybe I’ve hit too close to home.

“When I first meet Carrick. I knew straight off that he was into men. In fact, I thought the women everyone saw in the tabloids at the supermarket were just a beard. When Carrick walked in a room, any gay guy worth his salt could immediately count him as playing on our side. Once we were trying to figure out how to have a serious relationship, I finally figured out he was equally attracted to women.

Malcolm looked at Camille like he was praying that she understood where he was going with his words.

Camille stared at him trying to hide her confusion. She was willing to listen, but she had no idea in which direction he was heading.

He closed his eyes to gather his thoughts and continued. “If Carrick and I had anything resembling arguments.” He quickly looked at her.

Camille could read between the lines. Before me. She nodded impatiently for him to continue.

“Well, it just wasn’t my experience. As early as I understood the difference between boys and girls, I knew that I had no interest in mirroring the conventional relationship that surrounded me. I can admire women, enjoy their company, but I didn’t have innate sexual impulse that I feel when I am with a man that I am attracted to. Carrick said I was too focused on labels. He said I wanted to put this short narration under the picture of what we were, so that everyone else could understand. I need us to be “Gay” so that others could describe us and Carrick argued that it should be enough that we define what and who we are to ourselves.”

Malcolm tried to determine if Camille understood. She just nodded for him to continue. “Carrick resisted, but finally just let me call us whatever I wanted, or needed, because he just didn’t care. He always says that he fought that battle with himself a long time ago and wasn’t interested in chasing his own tail when there is so much other tail out there.

Camille rolled her eyes. That sounded just like Carrick.

Malcolm took a deep breath and continued in his deep baritone. “I understand now what he was trying to tell me. If sexuality is a spectrum, then I guess that Carrick’s is more centered than most. He can be attracted to both sides of the imaginary line; men and women. He chooses to be in a committed relationship me.” Malcolm still sometimes couldn’t believe his luck in having Carrick. “ I’d guess that my sexuality is more to the farthest end of the left or right, depending on your perspective. I am sexually attracted to men. The surprise is that my notch on the field is a few millimeters closer to the center than I ever suspected. I’m absolutely attracted to you and I want nothing more than to get you and Carr in our bedroom tonight.

“How can you be so sure.” Camille was settled that nothing was going to stop them for sharing a bed that evening, her issue was more how long could she hope for it to last.

“That night when Carrick made sure I saw you in bed with that other woman…” Malcolm paused when he saw a look on Camille’s face like she was gasping for breath. “Camille?”

She wasn’t ready for him to bring that up again. Funny, at the time she more angry and annoyed that Carrick had set her up that night. But now she felt…she couldn’t quite find a word to describe the emotion. Something like mortification that he had actually seen her with her head between another woman’s legs. In her mind’s eye she saw herself in the red costume putting all her energy in giving a show that whoever walked through the door would never forget. Camille grimaced, maybe he should be a little more concerned that she might have a change of heart and develop a pussy preference. This was all too confusing.

Malcolm watched a series of emotions flow over her face, but bravely went ahead. “When I saw you and her, the first emotion I felt was jealousy. I wanted you to be in the bed with us.” He looked at Camille closely to gauge her reaction. “I wanted you to be making love with us, then I was pissed that Carrick was being an ass.”

Mal uncrossed his arm and looked like he fairly itched to step closer to her and touch.

In that minute, Camille honestly didn’t want anything more in life than to allow Malcolm to put them both out of their misery and allow him to touch on every place he could possible reach. These men were obviously softening her up and her brain hurt from it trying to protect her heart. But he was an attorney. That meant he was a wordsmith and all that glitter’s ain’t gold. So before she stepped off this cliff she wanted some warrantees, guarantees, notarizations of some tongues and foreheads; but in the end she would have to settle for a simple promise.

“If wanting me ever changes, please just let me know. Don’t disappear.” The plea was naked in her eyes. Her brown eyes never left his face as she closed the space between them and leaned into his chest.

Instantly, Malcolm’s arms closed tightly against her. As he watched her walked toward him she looked a dazed and more than a little confused. He didn’t know all of her back story, but he suspected that she was making a huge leap of trust. He silently vowed to protect that and her. Malcolm allowed his hand to run up her body till he was cupping her face in his hands. She looked raw and scared as he touched his lips to hers. The taste of her mouth urged him forward. He hadn’t known he was driving her backwards until he noticed her give a little “Umph!” against his mouth when he backed her against the railing. He needed her. He wanted to show her how good Carrick and he could love her.

The thought reminded him of something. Shit! Carrick…A bunch of teenage girls…The dance floor.

She must have realized that something had changed in his touch. “Malcolm?” She whispered against his lips, when he pulled a hair’s breath away from her.

Malcolm leaned his forehead against Camille’s as he tried to catch his breath. “I fear that Carrick’s is currently being a accosted by a bunch of teenage girls.”

“I guess it’s our job to save him?” she asked, testing her question to see if maybe she could help him come up with some better ways to spend their time.

“Come one Camille, when we make love to you, it sure as hell won’t be on a balcony where anyone can just walk in. Third time is definitely not the charm.”