December 15th: Something Unfinished

December 15th: Something Unfinished

What do I have for you! Oh-ho-ho, just the start of something that has no end. That’s all.

Promo text against a background of blue glitter. The text reads: Secret Side Project SENAK PEEK. "From here, Gilmore looked less like an enemy and more like a man who was having a very bad morning. (Happy Holidays)

Okay, so there was this time when I thought I would do a bunch of contemporary MM romance that had no kink in it. I still have that project on the back burner, FYI, I just need to get back to it. Anyway, this is one of those stories.

If I do these, I need to put them under a new pen name, because kink and contemporary don’t always mix πŸ˜€ What do you think? Any suggestions?

Secret Side Project

The paint bombs were Spencer’s idea. Toby had argued against them, just like he’d argued against painting protest slogans directly onto the glass windows of the Gilmore building.

“I’m pretty sure that can be charged as a felony,” he’d said, and Spencer had rolled his eyes. It was no secret he thought Toby was soft, too soft for his particular brand of activism.

Still, the others had listened to him, and so they hadn’t painted slogans on the glass, sticking to placards instead. What no one knew at the time, though, was that Spencer brought the paint bombs anyway. They didn’t find that out until he threw one.

It was a good throw. It caught Curtis Gilmore by surprise, landing smack in the middle of his chest as he came up the steps. The paint was red, of course, and exploded in a bloody sort of mess across the crisp white front of his shirt, splattering his navy suit in bright gore. For a moment, Gilmore looked down at himself as though too shocked to comprehend what had happened. Then he looked up, right at Toby, and his expression firmed.

Somewhere there was the flash of a camera but Toby just stood there, horrified at what had happened and clutching his placard like a life preserver. Time seemed to slow as Gilmore stalked up the steps, coming to a stop right in front of him. (Spencer, the coward, had already vanished into the crowd. So much for commitment to activism.)

Confronted with the reality of Curtis Gilmore staring him down, Toby found he had nothing to say. Gilmore was taller than he expected, and younger too, powerfully built and strikingly handsome in person. His blue eyes narrowed as he stared down at Toby, who felt suddenly ridiculously shabby, despite the fact that Gilmore’s neatly tailored suit was now ruined with paint. He was so intimidating, self-possessed even in the face of this sort of indignity. And Toby?

Well. Toby refused to be intimidated. He straightened his shoulders, looked Gilmore directly in the eye, and opened his mouth to say –

“You,” Gilmore said sharply, stabbing a finger at Toby’s chest. “Come with me.” He turned away, gesturing for security, who started forcing the crowd back to make way for him. One of them came up behind Toby, and gave him a meaningful look.

Toby gaped. “What?” This couldn’t be happening.

The security guard nodded in the direction of the doors. “You heard Mr Gilmore,” she said, in a brook-no-argument sort of voice.

“It wasn’t me,” Toby protested. The security guard didn’t seem to care, however, simply ushered him up the steps and into the Gilmore building.

Toby had never been inside before, though he had stared angrily at the outside of it more than once. Outside it was all shiny steel and reflective glass, and inside it was much the same, every surface polished, almost clinical. It was the kind of building Toby hated, too modern, too sterile. Soulless, even. How anyone could work in a place like this was beyond him.

He trailed behind Gilmore past the stunned employees all staring in horror at the ruin of Gilmore’s suit. A few of them tried to offer some kind of condolence or support, but Gilmore waved them all off, striding quickly to the elevator and stabbing forcefully at the call button. It dinged almost at once, doors sliding open silently.

Toby baulked, not liking this at all. “It wasn’t me,” he insisted as Gilmore got in and turned to face him. “Anyway, you can’t just kidnap me. It’s false imprisonment.”

“You’re free to go at any time,” Gilmore said, icily cold. He held his finger on the button that kept the doors open, waiting.

“Then what do you want?”

The shape Gilmore’s mouth made was not exactly a smile, closer to a grimace. “Just a quick chat,” he said, the syllables clipped and precise.

Toby stared at him. And then, for reasons he didn’t really understand and couldn’t have articulated, he stepped into the lift. Gilmore took his finger off the button and the doors closed, leaving Toby trapped in a metal box with the man whose day he had come here to ruin.

The elevator was lined with mirrors, so Toby couldn’t escape a close-up view of exactly how bad the damage was. That paint was never coming off. In any case, Gilmore faced him with a stony expression, those blue eyes raking Toby over as if seeking his every secret.

In the elevator, Gilmore was even more intimidating. Toby made himself stand very straight — he was still undeniably too short for it to do much good. Then he realised he was still holding his placard. He felt ridiculous at once and shifted his grip, resting the end of the sign on the floor at his feet and leaning on it in an attempt to be nonchalant.

If the twitch of Gilmore’s mouth was an indication, it didn’t work. Toby felt his face heat, and the sudden humiliation of it all overtook him.

“Listen,” he said, “I’m sorry about your suit, but you have to understand what’s at stake here. We –”

Gilmore held up a hand and Toby stopped dead. “I’ll hear you out in a moment.” He paused, scanning Toby’s face. “What’s your name?”

“Toby Harding,” Toby said, and immediately wondered if that had been a mistake. He told himself it was too late now, and soldiered on. “I work at –”

“How old are you?”

The question took Toby aback and for a moment he couldn’t speak. Eventually, however, he said, “Twenty-four. Is that relevant?” The words, ‘old enough to be tried as an adult’ slid across his mind but he shook them away.

Gilmore looked disbelieving and maybe a little disgusted, and Toby took offence to that.

“Why? How old are you?”

And now Gilmore was making a face. Toby wasn’t sure what it was but it wrinkled his brow, his eyes crinkling in the corners. “Twenty-seven.”

It was ridiculously young to be the CEO of anything, let alone a multinational corporation with profits in the billions.

The thought must have been written across Toby’s face, because Gilmore frowned. “You think that’s too young.”

Toby didn’t know what to say, but he had to say something. “I don’t think you earned all this yourself,” he said, and the dire look on Gilmore’s face made him immediately regret it.

“I didn’t. I inherited it.” He looked as though he’d like to say more, checked himself, and then the elevator slid to a halt, the doors chiming and sliding smoothly open.

Gilmore pushed off the wall and stepped out onto the floor, not looking back. Toby had no choice but to follow him, so he did.

All the damage to Gilmore’s suit was on the front, so the back view seemed perfectly normal. Which made it kind of funny to see the reactions of the people on this floor as Gilmore stalked past them. From behind he was just a well-built man in a well-made suit, his trousers tailored a little too snug for Toby to feel comfortable watching him walk away.

No one else seemed to have any compunction against it – this floor was a combination of open plan and glass-walled offices, the staff all extremely well-dressed, their perfectly groomed heads turning as Gilmore strode past, all of them open mouthed with shock. And then, each of them turned to look at Toby holding his picket sign, and they all came visibly to the same conclusion. Their expressions hardened, and Toby felt a wave of embarrassment overtake him. It wasn’t me, he thought angrily. He hadn’t done anything wrong, and here he was, bearing the brunt of all this yuppie anger.

It wasn’t fair. But, it would be more embarrassing to turn around and walk out, so he followed Gilmore all the way down the centre strip of the floor to a large glass-walled office at the far end. Gilmore stopped in front of a wide desk positioned just outside the office. Behind it a woman in a pale green, sleeveless dress was sitting bolt upright in her chair, eyes gone wide but otherwise betraying nothing.

“Bad hair day?” she asked, smiling a pretty but brittle smile.

Gilmore shook his head. “Something like that. Clear my morning. I’m going to need a new suit.”

“I can get Anthony to go pick up your dove-grey linen from the cleaning service, shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes if I scare him bad enough.”

Toby couldn’t see Gilmore’s face but he sounded almost amused when he said, “You’re going to put the fear of God into him?”

Her smile turned genuine and wicked. “Worse. The fear of me.” She glanced up past Gilmore’s shoulder, eyes catching on Toby for a fraction of a second. “Can I get you anything else? Coffee?”

To Toby’s surprise, Gilmore turned back to him, arching a perfectly groomed eyebrow. “Do you want coffee?” Clearly Toby hesitated too long, staring at him in surprise, because Gilmore turned away again, and said, “Coffee for two, and some water. Thanks, Mary.” Then he walked into the office, holding the door open behind him.

Toby went in, feeling completely out of his depth. This was the shiniest, most expensive-looking office he’d ever seen in his life. The desk was some kind of polished black wood, very modern and minimalist, with a shiny black leather desk chair behind it, and two shiny black leather scoop chairs in front of it. There were box shelves across two walls, each square cubby holding a few books or a framed picture, a couple of them with succulents in pots.Β  The shelves only reached waist height, the walls glass all the way to the ceiling, and the other two walls opened out to a magnificent unimpeded view of the city. Corner office, Toby thought, but of course it was. This was Curtis Gilmore, after all. Toby supposed he should be surprised the man didn’t have a floor all to himself.

“You can take a seat,” Gilmore said, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket and using it to gingerly unfasten his jacket buttons. Trying not to get paint on his hands, Toby supposed.

Impulsively, he said, “It’s non-toxic.” Gilmore eyed him sidelong, but said nothing. “The paint,” Toby insisted, sinking into a chair. He didn’t quite know what to do with his placard, so he placed it face up on the desk. “It’s probably water-based, so it’ll wash off your hands.”

“It won’t wash out of my suit,” Gilmore said dryly, and then added, “Anyway, I thought you said you didn’t do it. If that’s true, then how would you know?”

Toby realised that he’d put his foot in it, and tried to come up with something plausible. “All the protesters are, um. Safety conscious?”

“Really. Someone threw paint at me.” He sounded for the first time actually put out about that. “I suppose you approve.” He had his jacket off now, and laid it out on the desk. Then he tugged his tie loose, eyeing it regretfully before putting it down on the jacket.

Toby opened his mouth, but hesitated. He didn’t approve. But he couldn’t actually tell Gilmore that, could he? Gilmore was the enemy, surely.

Though, from here Gilmore looked less like an enemy and more like a man who was having a very bad morning. As he watched, Gilmore took out his cufflinks and put them in a drawer, before starting in on his shirt buttons. He was taking it off, Toby realised, but before he could look away Gilmore had the thing undone and was yanking it out of his trousers.

Thankfully, he was wearing an undershirt, but it was very obvious, that Toby’s first impression of him as a well-built man had been more than justified. How many times a week does he go to the gym? Toby wondered, now unable to tear his eyes away from so much smooth tanned muscle.

Gilmore must’ve taken his silence for agreement – he eyed Toby with a grim expression as he wiped his hands clean of paint residue. “Should I expect any further attacks? Maybe I should have had security search you for contraband.”

“You don’t have any legal right to do that,” Toby snapped, but the exasperated look on Gilmore’s face made him realise that had been a joke. “Er,” he said, “sorry. I mean, I don’t have anything to be sorry about!”

“Not even that shirt?”

“What?” Toby looked down. Okay, so this wasn’t his best shirt. In fact, if he’d known he was going to be in an impromptu meeting with Curtis Gilmore then he definitely would not have worn brown and orange plaid. He felt his face heat, but then, just as quickly, he was angry. How dare someone like Gilmore criticise him for his fashion choices? “We can’t all afford two-thousand-dollar suits,” Toby snapped, feeling as though he had to stand up for everyone who wasn’t some kind of corporate executive.

“Ten thousand,” Gilmore said, and now he was bending over Toby’s placard, examining it with a flat expression. “Is that some kind of business cat?”

“What?”

“It’s wearing a tie,” Gilmore mused. “How would the glasses even stay on?”

“I don’t know. Er, it’s supposed to be a corporate fat cat. What did you mean ‘ten thousand’?”

Gilmore glanced up at him, looking vaguely amused. “My suit cost ten thousand dollars.” He grimaced, and turned his attention back to the placard. “That’s me then? And these mice? They look like little French revolutionaries.” His brow wrinkled. It was unfairly handsome. “Is this some sort of Les Mis reference? I’m afraid I don’t get it.”

“You’re not supposed to get it,” Toby said crossly. “It’s not for you.”

“Really?” Gilmore’s eyes narrowed, but at that moment the door opened, and the red-haired woman from before came in with a tray. “Thank you, Mary. ETA on my suit?”

“Ten minutes,” she said with a wink. “The poor boy was terrified.”

“I’m sure. That’s all, thank-you.”

When she was gone, Gilmore poured himself coffee, added sugar and creamer, and then gestured for Toby to help himself. “If it’s not for me, then who is it for? I thought the point of the protest was to sway my mind.”

“Not directly,” Toby scoffed, making up a coffee for himself. He might as well. “You’re not going to pay attention to a bunch of signs. It’s supposed to look good in the news, and bolster a groundswell of support for our cause. Then, when public opinion’s against you, you’re forced to change your mind.”

Belatedly, it occurred to him that maybe telling the enemy their plan wasn’t an amazing idea. But then, it was obvious, wasn’t it? That’s what protests were for. Big business never listened to them, it was public opinion that mattered.

Gilmore looked thoughtful. “Is that how it works? Anyway, I might pay attention to a sign. Not one with cartoon cats and French mice on it. Though, did you draw this yourself? It’s not bad.”

Toby tried to work out if that was condescending and decided it didn’t matter. “Listen, you have to stop development. It’s a disgrace that city hall ever let you have that property, it’s a national treasure.” He hesitated. “Or, a state treasure. Something like that.”

“I take it we’re talking about the brickworks.”

“Yes! Of course. What did you think we were talking about?”

“I had no idea. Do you think I’m only developing one property right now?” Gilmore arched an eyebrow. “The brickworks isn’t my highest priority. But I can see it means a lot to you. Why is that?”

Toby let out an exasperated breath. “Well I work there, for one. Half the people I know work there. I’ve been going there all my life. My father had a stall. That’s how he met my mother. And my great-grandfather worked there when it was still a brickworks. It’s not just an old factory for you to knock down,” he said sharply, anger rising again in his chest.

“I was under the impression it was falling down around your ears,” Gilmore said, far too reasonably for Toby’s taste.

And with far too much accuracy. “It needs work,” Toby admitted. “That’s no excuse to tear it to the ground.”

“I’ve seen the figures,” Gilmore said again too reasonably. “Profits are down. Traffic’s down too. Quaint as it is, people don’t shop there anymore. They’d rather drive over to Seton. If I don’t open a shopping centre in the area, someone else will, and all your trade will evaporate.”

Toby’s chin went up, and this, right here, this was what people meant when they said he was stubborn. “If City Hall would just invest, we’d get all that trade back. It’s a valuable asset. It has historic significance. Do you know how many families in the area are connected to the brickworks? Ask anyone you meet. Though –” but Toby clamped his mouth shut on it before the words could come out.

It was too late, however. “Though?”

Oh, well. He’d already made a mess of all this. “I don’t expect you talk to a lot of locals. I expect you’re too busy in your ivory tower, making decisions that affect the rest of us without asking our opinions.”

He was expecting Gilmore to react, to be angry, insulted. He at least figured Gilmore would go red in the face, but instead his expression cracked not with anger but into a smile. It transformed him from this grimly serious business magnate to a man with ridiculously perfect hair sitting in his undershirt drinking coffee first thing in the morning. The sudden shift of it took Toby by surprise. He drained his coffee cup to cover his awkwardness, eyeing Gilmore over the rim.

“You want me to talk to someone local,” Gilmore said.

“Well, yes? Is that too much to ask?”

“Not at all. Have dinner with me.”

Toby couldn’t possibly have heard that right. “What?”

“Dinner. You can tell me all your reasons why I shouldn’t develop the brickworks, and it will satisfy your need for me to hear the opinions of someone affected by my plans.” He smiled, and it was the smile of a man who always got what he wanted, which made Toby want to deny him on principle.

But. It was an opportunity, and Toby couldn’t afford to pass up any chance to save the brickworks. “All right. If that’s what it takes.”

“Excellent.” Gilmore actually did look pleased. He put his cup down and held out his hand. For a moment Toby didn’t know what he was meant to do with it, and then Gilmore arched an eyebrow, wiggling his fingers. “No? And I thought we were getting along so well.”

Toby felt his face heat and grabbed Gilmore’s hand, shaking it awkwardly.

The door slid open. Gilmore’s assistant came back in, a suit bag draped over one arm. Deeply embarrassed, Toby jerked away, scrubbing his hand on his jeans.

Gilmore didn’t seem to notice. “Thank you, Mary. We’re done here, I think,” and he glanced at Toby before nodding. “Can you get Mr Harding’s details and show him out, please?” She nodded, eyes widening a fraction, and Gilmore turned his attention back to Toby. “It’s been…interesting to talk to you. I’d appreciate it if you could ask your friends not to ruin any more of my suits. It’s not the cost so much as the craftsmanship involved in making a suit from scratch. I’m definitely not looking forward to telling my tailor about this.”

Toby blinked at him, unsure how to respond. “Uh, sure,” he said noncommittally.

Gilmore smiled. It was unfairly handsome, his teeth white and perfectly spaced. Toby found it too distracting. “I’ll see you soon, then.”

“Sure,” Toby said again, letting himself be steered out of the office.

He gave Mary his contact details in a sort of daze, unable to believe all that had just happened. And equally unable to believe that Curtis Gilmore was, what? Nice? Reasonable? Not the callous ogre he’d been expecting?

He glanced back at the office window, but the blinds had been pulled. No doubt Gilmore was getting into his other suit. Toby tried not to think about that.

“Let me show you out, Mr Harding,” Mary said with a small twist to her mouth that flagged something in the back of his brain, though he wasn’t sure yet what that was. She didn’t say anything much to him, however, not on the ride down the lift nor the walk to the front door where she politely shooed him out onto the street.

It was only when he was out on the steps that he realised he’d left his placard behind.


What do you think? I have to finish this one, I love it so much. Toby’s a little firecracker and Curtis is…well, you’ll have to wait to find out πŸ˜€

Feature image: Original Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Robin Moray is a carbon based life-form from the planet earth, who likes reading, writing, and daydreaming about the day some awesome supernatural or extraterrestrial being suggests they run away together.

13 comments

  1. Anne Shure says:

    Love it, Robin! I hope you can carve out some time to work on it. (She says earnestly, but then wonders which of her ongoing favorites will have to be put on hold in order to make room in the schedule!)

    As far as a new pen name, I’m sadly suggestion-less, but I agree that if it’s contemporary non-kink, using RJ or Robin Moray would create certain expectations that would go unfulfilled. You’re so good with names for your characters, though; you should have no problem coming up with something for yourself. Or perhaps make it a contest…. : )

    • Robin says:

      If I make it a contest, I’ll end up being called Writey McWriteface and, you know what? I’d deserve it πŸ˜€

      Thank you! And thank you for recognising that I cannot possibly write all the things at the same time. I wish I could. It’s the worst <3

  2. Kerry says:

    Your writing is so good, I immediately get sucked into the story and invested in the characters. I’m dying to know what happens next. Even without the kink, I can tell that the sex scenes between these two will be smokin’ hot!

  3. Adrienne says:

    Yes, yes, yes!!!! Please finish it. I am intrigued and love them both and want to see what happens next. Really like Mary too!

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