All Stirred Up
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by Z.A. Maxfield
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Gay Fiction
Description: After Brendan and his mother witness a completely random tragedy, his carefully controlled life begins to fall apart. First he has nightmares and panic attacks, then he loses focus in his daily life. His board of directors insists he undergo rehab at a so-called "relaxation destination" and to make matters worse, they've hired newly minted psychiatrist, Dr. Dirk Melovitch, to accompany him. Dirk, whose job it is to help Brendan learn to relax, walks into the lobby of Brendan's hotel wearing a borrowed suit with an attitude that rubs Brendan the wrong way from the moment they meet. They head for the airport and their carefully planned itinerary goes out the window, one small setback at a time. From the airports of New York and Dallas, to the long, lonely highways of Texas and an upscale rehab destination in Santa Fe, Brendan and Dirk each try to gain the upper hand until both find out that it's not just life that can get a guy All Stirred Up.
eBook Publisher: MLR Press, LLC/MLR Press, LLC,
eBookwise Release Date: June 2011
29 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [222 KB]
Reading time: 131-184 min.
You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.
Brendan loved visiting his mother,but his amusement always faded when he realized it was inevitable they'd have to slog through some sort of open-air market, art show, or street fair. He let himself enjoy the fine California weather, trailing along after her as she worked her way through the tony Laguna Beach crowd. Between the efforts of some very famous Southern California artists and the donated offerings of local, high-end restaurants, his mother's favorite breast cancer charity was certain to bring in big money toward the cure.
He moved briskly when she darted past him to clasp the hands of a handsomely dressed, seventy-something matron in a white caftan-like dress. What did it say about him that his mother made him feel old? She was still a girl, really, one of Hollywood's glorious moppets, wearing torn blue jeans and a silk peasant blouse with layers of chiffon scarves that framed her enchanting face. She wore her curly dark hair long,in defiance of her age. At fifty-four, her face still said thirty loud and proud. As far as he knew, the only thing she did was Botox between her eyebrows and a tiny bit of collagen to plump the lips. The rest was just genetics and a loving God.
Standing next to his mother only served to emphasize that today he lacked his usual exotic flair. He looked like her accountant or a lawyer; not a flashy lawyer either, but the kind who sits benignly behind expensive desks all day doing revocable trusts. He'd thrown on a sport coat and tie because he'd taken her to a nice place for lunch, but he forgot that in California a nice place meant exchanging flip-flops for cross trainers and putting on a shirt.
This wasn't to say they didn't make a fine picture together. Brendan knew they stirred things up wherever they went: the aging starlet and her well-heeled executive son. They were both at the top of the game in their respective worlds, hers being celebrity for its own sake and his as the fashionable, independent minded, and charitable CEO of B2 BioEng.
Morgan Blankenship schmoozed, and he followed along after her as she led him through the stalls of the many artists she called friends. He waited patiently while she introduced him and responded politely when they asked him questions.
Entirely too many of the photographs and canvases featured her face in its youth, when she'd been the star of several cult horror films. Some displayed her more mature beauty; looks that catapulted her into her current tenure as patron saint of the cougar movement, because she dated a twenty-million-dollar-a-picture summer blockbuster action-star half her age.
Earlier that day, Brendan had stumbled into a ten by ten foot space that held his worst case scenario--her nude body, tattoos and all--displayed in various poses too erotic for anyone to have to see their mother in without oxygen and a Freudian psychiatrist standing by. He winced while he tried not to see them, these blowsy living color and artistic black-and-white reminders that his mom flew her freak flag regularly.
"Brendan?" She called him over to a stall with colorful serigraphs that seemed harmless enough from a distance. "What do you think of this one?"
Before he glanced over, he asked, "Are you in it?"
"Not this time, dear." Was she laughing at him? "Meghan only paints fruit, so you can look, if you feel like it."
He glanced over and did a double take. "Oh, shit." Meghan might only paint fruits, but those fruits were engaged in some hot fruit-on-fruit action.
"Where do you find these people, Mother?"
"You're such a prude." She put the canvas back on the display table and waved gaily at the woman who had painted it. Like everyone on earth, the artist lit up under the intense focus of Morgan Blankenship. "That's wonderful, Meghan. I'll catch you later."
"Thanks, Morgan. Will I see you at the auction?"
"You bet, darling." Morgan blew her kisses. As they walked away, she leaned in to whisper, "She's a treasure. Such whimsy. The world needs her kind of fun. People are entirely too serious."
"I don't know. Whimsy is vastly overrated. Toby is whimsical." Maybe he said that just to get her going, but it derailed her train of thought from art to his brother, Evan, who had only recently hooked up with the supreme pontiff of whimsy, his hot new chef partner, Toby, in and out of the kitchen.
"Speaking of which. As my serious son, how do you perceive your brother's new partner?"
"Do you mean in life or at the restaurant?"
"Both. Evan called me the other day. He said you made mischief on his opening night? Shame on you."
"Still a snitch, is he? In my defense, I can honestly say it wasn't my fault. Toby thought I was Evan, that's all. Slight misunderstanding."
His mother raised an eyebrow, a move that perfectly conveyed her doubts. "But I hear you didn't set him straight right away..."
"In all fairness, my mouth was rather busy at the time." Brendan bit his lip. "And my hands."
"You were not exactly pushing Toby away, to hear Evan tell it."
"Oh, all right. I said I was sorry. What do you want to do, put me in time-out?"
"You know Evan's not as...adept as you are at social matters. If he's found someone, you should be glad for him."
"I know." Brendan wasn't about to mention that the way Evan looked at Toby made him feel envious--lonely, even-- for the first time in his life. "I am glad."
She peered at him thoughtfully. "Then what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong." He glanced away and caught sight of his mother's slim back--and ass--sketched in charcoal, complete with her highly recognizable "Scream My Name" tattoo. "Mo-ther. Why can't you drag me out to meet ugly girls like all the other little gay boys' mothers?"
"Just think how much worse it's going to be. I will be like Cher, still flogging my shit at, what is she now...sixty something? This is for charity, darling."
"But couldn't you just... I don't know. Bake something?"
"Yes, dear, I could, but then we'd have all the corpses to deal with and the coroner's inquest... I'll leave cooking to your brother. And yes, we've returned to the subject you so neatly tried to avoid. Good thing too, because I noticed a vaguely disturbing something distant-ish in your eyes when you talked about him. What is it?"
"Nothing at all. I'm glad for him."
"And nothing. Toby's nice. They're good together. I think it will probably even last. Love of his life and all that." He smiled faintly. "If you believe in that sort of thing."
"And you know I do." She continued to frown up at him, so he shrugged. "It's so odd that while he's not adept at social interaction, he's completely in touch with his heart, whereas you, my dear, have yet to find yours--if such a thing actually exists."
"You'll love Toby. I suggest you go for a nice long visit." Brendan hid his irritation that she was once again spot-on in her knowledge of him and didn't spare him from a close examination. "Stay right there at Toby's place with them. Take your time and see all the sights. They'll be thrilled. Everyone loves a long-term house guest."
"You are the evil twin. You know that, right?"
"It's quite likely."
Morgan put her hand in the crook of his arm, almost like a real mother, he thought wryly, and led him toward the tasting tables, where someone had thoughtfully left a cheese and fruit buffet. A passing waiter offered his mother a glass of white wine, and she lightened his load by two, giving Brendan one.
"You'll find someone, sweetheart," she told him, causing the food to turn to ash in his mouth. "And Evan will always, always be there for you, even if it seems like Toby is his number one now."
He winced. "You make me sound like such a turd."
Morgan saw someone she knew and started toward them but glanced back at him. "Yeah. Well, if the poo fits... Okay if I go say hi?"
He waved her off. "Go. Chat. I'll be over here, drinking and getting a complex from looking at your naked ass pictures."
She shot him a wink. "Don't ever say I never gave you anything."
Her dainty feet crunched the fallen leaves as she walked away.
Maybe it was the crystalline perfection of the fall day, the blue sky, the deep, fast-moving, fleecy white clouds, the breeze that brought both the salty tang of the sea and the earthier, richer loamy smell of the leaves that lay decaying in piles along the sidewalk, but time stood still while Brendan savored the last drop of chardonnay in his glass. He watched idly as a small bird hopped from a tree branch to a spot not far from his foot, where someone had dropped a cracker. He heard his mother's laughter, probably for the millionth time, yet still consciously thought it was one of his favorite sounds.
What began in the background as a distant rumbling grew into the roar of an engine as an over-size duel-wheel pickup truck came down the hill out of control and ran the red light, heedless of the cross traffic, causing pileups on both sides of the road as people skidded to a stop and cars ploughed into them. It barreled into the closed-off street at high speed, pushing past the tape and traffic cones that delineated the fair on the tiny beach access road.
Dull thuds and screams rent the air as the truck hit table after table. Art scattered, sculpture shattered, as the truck mowed down one display after another, crushing furniture and people like so much garbage.
It happened so quickly that all Brendan could focus on was the direction from where he'd last heard his mother's laughter. He instinctively jerked from his trance-like daydream and sped toward that sound with every ounce of his strength. He hurtled into her even as he felt the side mirror of the pickup graze along his back, leaving what he felt must be a deeply bruised furrow if it hadn't scraped off his skin entirely. He tackled his mother's slim frame, taking her down with him, protecting her from flying debris with his own body. He'd barely gotten there in time to push her out of the truck's path.
"Thank God," he murmured, too stunned to do anything but roll off her, too shaken to try to help her up. "Thank God, are you okay?"
For the first time ever, he thought she looked her age. She grimaced painfully, and tears shimmered on her lashes. "My arm hurts..."
Brendan could see her arm was broken; it lay bent at an odd angle, and it was already swelling. He'd probably done that when he'd pushed her down--broken his own mother's arm.
Shit. "I'm so sorry, Mom."
Even though she was crying, Morgan wrapped her good arm around him just like he was a little boy again, and whispered. "It's okay, honey. You saved my life. Thank you. I saw it coming and just froze."
"Got you." He was unable to hide his tears. His heart was still thundering, and now he had to swallow to keep from being sick. "Sorry about your arm, but I got you. It's going to be okay, isn't it?"
Morgan tightened her hold on him. "Yeah, baby. Thanks to you we're just fine."
Seconds passed before he lifted his head and glanced around again. His mother clung to him while he tried to make sense of what he was seeing.
White tablecloths blossomed with splashes of blood. Smoke and steam erupted where the truck had finally come to a halt, wheels up and spinning. Steam and smoke curled from its carcass. The acrid stench of burning rubber and a faint hint of diesel fuel reached him--the dizzying scent cocktail of traffic disaster. Dust clouded the air, while everywhere, Brendan could hear people moaning and crying out for help. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and called 911, giving the address to the dispatcher.
"Multiple casualties. Many, many people are injured here." He told her when she asked him to describe the scene. He got to his feet to look around and saw carnage. He still felt disembodied, as though he was looking at everything from a thousand miles away.
He took a small step toward the center of impact and fouler things, blood and waste, reached his nostrils. It mixed with the fuel and scorched tire scent and permeated the air until he could taste it on his tongue.
"It's like a war zone." His voice came out choked. "Crush injuries, lost limbs. It's like...nothing I've ever seen."
He lowered the phone without even realizing it, while the dispatcher was still asking questions, and let it drop into his mother's lap.
"Brendan?" Mom's voice.
He turned his attention to her, noticing for the first time that she was still where he'd shoved her, lying white-faced on the pavement. He helped her to her feet and walked her away from the worst part of the accident scene, installing her in a white resin chair he found overturned on the sidewalk.
"I need to do something."
She nodded, holding her arm close to her chest, her face pinched and pale. "I'll be all right. Come back when you can."
He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, closing his eyes against tears that would come if he didn't harden his heart. "I won't be long."
Brendan jogged for what seemed like an eternity, berating himself for parking so far away in the first place because of some boutique his mother wanted to visit. At the time, he'd enjoyed the walk. He'd come to southern California for a preparedness summit in order to demonstrate how automatic defibrillators could be used by non-medical professionals to buy time in the case of cardiac emergencies where professional help is stretched too thin. He had a first responder's basic life support trauma kit complete with a new defibrillator--the kind manufactured by his company--in the rental. If there was a doctor on scene, his gear might mean the difference between life and death for someone even before the paramedics arrived. He got it and started running back, this time uphill. Sirens warbled from up and down the highway, where emergency vehicles were trying to make their way through the busy beach traffic.
By the time he returned, his brain had caught up with his body, and he approached the first person he saw who appeared to be taking charge, a woman in a jogging suit who'd donned a pair of latex gloves. She was trying to triage the scene with the help of two or three shocked-looking volunteers.
"Hey." Brendan waved to get her attention as he stepped in a slick pool of rapidly congealing blood. He looked down and realized he needed to tread carefully; there was a hand with bluish fingernails poking out from under a tablecloth--a makeshift shroud--someone had used to cover one of the first casualties.
"She's dead." The woman with gloves looked at his red duffle bag. "Please tell me that's a first aid kit."
"Yes, it is. It's a BLS trauma kit." He turned it, stupidly, so she could see it bore the caduceus and his company logo, then held out the other case."I have this too."
"Yes, it's uh...portable. My company manufactures these. For...airports and..."
Whose hand is that? It can't be Meghan's, can it? Mom knows half these people. They're her friends. Please, God, please. Don't let it be Meghan...
A little farther away he saw a painted canvas of his mother's face with tire tracks on it. Suddenly he didn't feel so good.
"I'm Dr. Allen." The woman's face softened with compassion, and she stepped over the debris to get to him. "All right. You're looking pretty shocky. You're not medically trained?"
He shook his head. She put her arm around him and led him to a place where he wouldn't be in the way. The adrenaline that fueled his earlier actions was dissipating fast, and he felt like he had to take deep gasping breaths to stay upright. "Not really. First aid, CPR. I... My mother's arm is broken. When everyone else is stable, could you...? She's in pain."
"Help will be here soon. May I take your gear?"
"Yes. Of course. I think I need to sit down."
"Put your head down." She squatted next to him and gently pushed his head between his knees. "Someone will be along here shortly to help you, all right?"
"Just breathe for now. You've helped me more than you know." She got back to her feet and barked orders for anyone who could help to follow her. In her absence, a pocket of eerie silence surrounded him--as if he were aware of the noise but simply didn't have the will to hear it.
Minutes passed or hours, he didn't know, until someone helped him find his mother, who was waiting to be transported to Hoag Hospital. He got into the ambulance to go with her.
"Dude." The young EMT spoke reverently. "Your mom is Morgan Blankenship?"
"She is totally hot. What was it like, growing up with a mom who's such a babe?"
Brendan covered his face with his hands. His mother had never looked so small and fragile. Older, as if she couldn't sustain the magic that hid her true age while she was injured. He should have stayed by her side to make sure no one got pictures. He hadn't noticed paparazzi on the scene but that didn't mean they weren't there. Although why he should worry about photographers when they'd both very nearly been roadkill, he didn't know...
Brendan took a deep breath to answer the boy's question. Even in the ambulance, even pulling away from the scene, the scent of burning rubber and blood still clung to him.
"It was a lot like today, only minus the disaster part."