Authors: Jan Irving
Tags: #m/m romance
To Carolyn Topol with affection.
mopped the entryway of the big offices that had taken him on six months ago. It wasn’t his dream job, night janitorial services, since once upon a time he’d dreamed of going to college, but he didn’t let himself think about the things he’d once wanted, the wrong turn his life had taken. He had a job, and it wasn’t easy for an ex-con to get work.
At eleven sharp the golden boy himself walked by, no briefcase, probably headed to his private suite upstairs. His silken brown hair was windblown, in his eyes, and right then Matthew flashed to a fantasy that it was tangled from the touch of
hands. Yeah, right. One thing he’d learned; Dove Hollister was as coldly unattainable as he was beautiful. And he didn’t see someone like Matthew or care that his eyes followed him the nights Matthew worked here.
“It’s wet, see?” Matthew warned him while the deep, burning ember in his gut made him want to see the big man fall on his ass. For some reason Dove brought it home to Matthew that he’d once dreamed of being an explorer: an archeologist or an astronomer, walking in different worlds. Maybe if he’d done something with his life, someone like Dove would look at him. Instead, he was lucky to have a job cleaning the floors, the johns, the hallways.
“What?” Dove Hollister had a faraway look in his eyes, his gaze passing over Matthew, who was just dirt under his expensive leather loafers.
Matthew tried to swallow his resentment. “The floor. Wet. Slip on your ass. Get it?”
“Do you think that’s a good way to speak to the CEO?” It was said quietly, and now Dove was finally looking Matthew in the eye. “And you can’t smoke in this building!” He sounded appalled.
Matthew wasn’t impressed. “It’s after hours. Haven’t seen anyone.”
“It’s my building!” Dove snatched the cigarette from Matthew’s mouth, standing there with it, looking stupid. “Uh.”
Dove’s eyes saucered at Matthew’s rudeness. “What did you say?”
He certainly had the big man’s attention now, and part of him rode it like a hot wind, knowing he’d fall and burn, but not before Dove acknowledged him. After months of watching him walk by, disinterested, Matthew needed to make an impression on the man he both disliked… and desired.
“You can’t fire me if I quit!” Matthew growled. Shit! He hadn’t meant to go that far; he needed this job. Why was his mouth always acting for him, swinging punches before his head caught up?
“I’m not going to fire you. I just don’t want you smoking in my elegant foyer, isn’t that clear?”
“It’ll be more elegant if you get out of my way so I can finish mopping it.” Matthew shoved some of his blond hair out of his eyes, wishing stupidly that they were friends, that Dove stopped and chatted with him sometimes like in his daydreams.
He was such an idiot and now he was totally overreacting, blowing it.
“Have a nice day. Sir.” Matthew turned his back on Dove and went back to the janitor deal. Few more hours and he’d be back in his crappy apartment, lying on his bed. And maybe he’d think about those dark, startled eyes, the tangled brown hair tumbled over the forehead, and Dove’s height, which he secretly found sexy, though he knew his fantasies made Dove out to be nicer than he was.
Dove’s cell phone went off and he answered it, no doubt already forgetting Matthew. “Yeah... hey. I’m sorry; I meant to call about him. How is Antony doing? Did you get back the test results? Uh huh. Look, I want to know what’s wrong with him.” …“No, I don’t believe that! He’s just lazy. He needs to focus, and let me make it clear that he’s your problem; I have a company to run!” …“Fine, but I have plans this weekend, so just send him back to boarding school, okay? Yeah, that’s the way I want it and I’ll thank you not to lecture me about being a parent! Antony is very well provided for. I know, I sign the fucking checks.”
Dove clicked the cell closed, breathing hard.
And Matthew burst out, “You selfish prick!”
“What did you say to me? How dare you listen to my phone call?” Dove stormed toward Matthew and—
—slipped and fell on his hot, muscled ass.
Matthew smirked, watching as the big man kept sliding and couldn’t regain his feet so that he hit the wet floor with a smack that was very satisfying, almost as if Matthew himself had delivered it.
And wasn’t that a thought?
He looked down at Dove, who was staring up at him with his mouth agape, his wide dark eyes fixed on Matthew’s face, his hair in his eyes, his suit all messed up.
Seeing him like that, Matthew’s body responded, but his disillusionment that Dove wasn’t anything like his fantasy man sharpened his arousal, so he took another dig, “Shouldn’t eat the donuts they bring round, huh?”
“What?” Now Dove was well and truly pissed. “You know what? You
Matthew swallowed, hiding how humiliated he felt. Another job gone. What would his parole officer say? How would he keep his small, dingy apartment with only one part-time job at the new age shop?
But he couldn’t let this man see his worry. In prison, he’d tried so hard to learn how to conceal his emotions and hide himself, because showing any vulnerability was a bad idea. Still, a flash of what he was feeling must have been on his face, because Dove took a deep breath, eyes softening slightly.
But any kindness from this man, this beautiful, unattainable man, would rub like acid on Matthew’s pride, his wounds. He would never trust anyone again. He let his mop fall, clattering loudly against the black granite floor. “Go fuck yourself!”
* * *
it was cold, the air driven by stinging rain, which was to be expected in December even in Los Angeles, but a stronger storm front had moved in off the Pacific, and with it had come lightning and wind.
Dove shook his keys out, cursing the work they were doing to bring up the codes for earthquakes in the underground garage, which meant he was going to get all wet before he climbed into his sleek little honey of a car.
As he paused, he saw the mouthy ex-janitor being escorted from the building, his belongings dropped at his feet by a smug security guard who closed and locked the glass door.
After a long moment, Matthew—from his name tag—bent and picked up his pathetic little collection of personal items. His eyes were down, but Dove was sure he’d seen a flash of resentful blue in his direction. The blond hair was already soaked, loose curls which made him look boyish... vulnerable.
And for a moment Dove felt regret, remembering the look in those tortured eyes. But then he also remembered how a total stranger had dared to criticize him for how he treated his son.
“‘Selfish prick!’ What the fuck do you know about it?” Dove whispered, still fuming at his ex-employee’s rudeness. He was doing what he could for Antony.
“Merry Christmas!” His ex-janitor smirked at seeing Dove also walking outside. He paused in folding his belongings, straightened, and opened his belt. Another second and he’d unzipped his fly, yanked down his tighty whiteys—
Eyes wide, Dove roared, “You will not piss on my—!”
As Dove sprinted toward Matthew to stop him from urinating against the pristine glass door of Dove’s office building, which represented the hard-won zenith of years of work, there was a tremendous flash of lightning, whiting out vision and striking a tiny silver hovering object forty feet above the two men in the sky above.
* * *
lightning continued its crazy jagged path and hit Dove, who grabbed his chest, letting out a soft grunt as he toppled onto a half-naked, penis-in-fist, former janitor.
“Oh fuck!” Matthew cursed, arms full of his limp former boss, who outweighed him by a generous margin.
And the tiny spaceship above exploded, sending out a wave of raw energy which struck Dove’s crumpled body.
* * *
ran a frantic hand over Dove’s neck to find his pulse. “Don’t be dead, you selfish son of a—!”
Dove sat up, blinked, and cocked his head at Matthew.
“Holy shit! Take it easy now; I’ll get help. You were… I think you were dead there a minute!” Matthew spoke through numb lips, so freaked out while his hands slid over Dove’s soaked clothing, Dove’s icy skin.
“Where… am… I?” Dove demanded.
The hairs on the back of Matthew’s neck prickled as the guard behind them opened the door and ran toward him and his former boss. Years at being on his guard in prison had honed Matthew’s instincts. That voice and the look in Dove’s eyes….
Something felt off.
“We’re, uh, outside your office.”
Dove cocked his head again, almost insect-like, and studied the building that towered above him and his half-naked former janitor. “I’m lost,” he told Matthew wistfully.
The guard arrived, giving Matthew a scandalized look, and Matthew flushed because of how he must look, with his pants around his ankles and his tackle hanging out in the rain, tangled up with his former boss who was acting like, an alien or something!
“You just need to go to the hospital with the nice paramedics and get checked out. You were hit by lightning.”
You were dead.
The guard was on his radio, summoning help. Well, thank fuck for that. Soon he’d be on the city bus out of here, and he could begin figuring out how to get a new job before January second, his next appointment with his parole officer. With the janitor deal gone, he wouldn’t exactly be living it up for the holidays, but he had no one to buy a gift for. No one at all.
Still dazed by this trippy night, Matthew hurriedly did up his pants, blushing again because Dove was staring at his parts.
“Will you be my Earth friend?” Dove asked earnestly.
“What the Christ is wrong with him?” the guard demanded, looking freaked. He probably was worried he’d lose his cushy job if the big boss bought it on his rotation.
“Got his eggs scrambled by the lightning, but he’s….” Matthew swallowed, not sure Dove was all right. That chilly skin. The flat intonations of his voice. The weird buzz of static when Matthew touched him.
“Jesus. He’s lucky to be alive! That was some freaky storm! And that weird green light, what do you think that was?”
“Dunno, didn’t see it.” Matthew steadied Dove, who was looking around, bewildered, moving stiffly as if to get accustomed to his own body again. Suddenly Dove fell down. The powerful CEO wrapped his arms around Matthew’s legs. “Help me. I’m afraid.”
“Oh shit!” Matthew pulled him to his feet and then, embarrassed because of the way the guard was staring at him and Dove, patted the larger man awkwardly. “You’ll be fine. You were just… hurt a little. Maybe in your head, yeah?”
Dove nodded. “My eyes don’t work like they should,” he noted, before continuing mournfully, “I’m not in my own body anymore.”
“I’m scared.” Dove was actually trembling under Matthew’s hands.
Matthew grasped Dove’s hands, looking into formerly hard brown eyes and seeing only… innocence?
“Don’t be,” he said softly, unwillingly snared by that frightened look.
“Will you be my Earth friend?”
“Yeah, okay.” Shit! Matthew was glad to see the ambulance had arrived. He watched two men get out, remove a stretcher, and head in their direction, but when the attendants looked at Dove, he refused to let go of his death grip on Matthew’s hand. “He’s my Earth friend,” he told the two men firmly.
“Did he hit his head?” one of them asked Matthew, opening Dove’s dark brown eye wide and shining a light into it, which made Dove squirm and try to pull away.
Matthew shook his head. “He was hit by the lightning. I could have sworn he was….”
“What?” Sharp eyes in his direction as the man tried to size up his patient.
Matthew swallowed. “I thought his heart stopped.”
The second paramedic pulled out a stethoscope and listened to Dove’s heart. “He’s seems fine now. Sir, can you tell me your name?” the paramedic asked, studying Dove.
“Name?” Dove’s brow wrinkled. “I don’t have a name. I’m an angel.”
need a urine sample.” A bored-looking nurse passed Dove a cup. He took it and blinked at Matthew, who was increasingly concerned over the strange things his ex-boss was saying. He was also waiting patiently until Melody, Dove’s bimbo ex-wife who had sometimes shown up in the lobby while Matthew was working, came by and took her fruity hubby off his hands.
He couldn’t figure out why he was even here now! He’d hated—and okay, lusted for—Dove as long as he’d worked in his building. But he should be on the city line bus back into town now. Maybe watch the movie
again once he was home. He loved the scene when Luke Skywalker looked out at the night sky, longing for something more, some wonder in his dull life. Matthew had felt that way for as long as he could remember, until all those hazy dreams had been stomped into dust.