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    Stefan
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The Knife that Twists Within - 8. Chapter 8

Because all I ever wanted

 

"Already here or are you still here from the yesterday evening?" Marcus smiled at Johannes who was sitting on his stool bent over a small wood frame whose bronze paint needed cleaning. He looked up.

 

"Back again, Marcus. I'm an early riser, as you know." The attentive pale eyes behind the glasses examined Marcus and found him in the same bad condition as before.

 

Marcus met his questioning eyes. "Nick was in Rome, Johannes, as you supposed."

 

"Yes? And?"

 

"Nothing more. We flew back together but ... he's at his flat now. I have no clue how it will continue."

 

Johannes grimaced and shook his head. "What shall I say to this? It's not my business. But if I were you, I would go to him instantly."

 

"Yes, you are right, it's not your business." Marcus said sharply. "Sorry for that. I'm confused and I'm tired. I need sleep, I guess, but the exhibition has to come first."

 

"Apropos. There were some calls from the buyer of Nick's portraits. You remember Mrs. Schneider, the fidgety woman with the oppressive perfume? She bought the paintings of a young man with bleached hair."

 

"Kay, yes. What did she want?"

 

"She wants to engage him as portrait painter for her family."

 

"Indeed? That's marvellous! I must tell him instantly. Oh ..." Marcus turned his back to Johannes. "Could you do it for me please? Don't want to speak to him right now."

 

Again Johannes shook his head but said, "As you like."

 

Marcus could feel the disapproval of the old man but there was nothing what he could do about it right now. Instead, he said, "All the invitations have been delivered? The press informed? Catering service called?"

 

"All done."

 

"Good. Good job." He looked into Johannes eyes. "Heard from Alex?"

 

"No. Is there a problem?"

 

Marcus shook his head. "Nothing important. I just thought you might need a hand, an assistant."

 

Johannes looked amazed. "Someone to help me? All of a sudden?"

 

"Yes. All of a sudden. Now, please, would you call Nick? Here's his number."

 

Of course nobody answered the phone at Nicholas' home and Marcus was more than disappointed. Luckily he had the numbers of all his friends; insisting on it after Nick had vanished the last time. He was able to reach Matthias who told him that Nick was probably at Sebastian's flat. Marcus almost flipped.

 

Was there no end to it! His longing for Sebastian was so big that he had to stay in his flat! Damn it. So much for "only one time" ... "it just happened"!

 

Johannes watched Marcus' face - now a mixture of deep anger and disappointment. He quickly dialled Sebastian's number and got Nicholas on the phone after two rings.

 

"It's Johannes, Nick. How are you?"

 

"Oh, Johannes." Nicholas' voice sounded disappointed. "I'm fine. But how did you know that I was here?"

 

"Marcus has the number of a friend of yours and he told him."

 

"You mean Matthias, right? But why didn't Marcus call me himself?"

 

Johannes sighed. "Listen, Nick. We have an offer for you. Remember the woman who bought your portrait of the blond? She wants you to paint her family. It's a good offer, boy. Good money. I'll give you the number and address. Promise me to call her, won't you?"

 

Nicholas' mind swirled - Offer? Portraits? Money?- Vaguely he remembered a woman in grass-green pants... Sebastian had sold her the portrait of Kay for a horrid sum.

 

"Yes," he stuttered, "give me the address. I will go there. Today? Is seven a good time?"

 

"Calm down, Nick. First, call her, do you hear me? Such people don't like it when you just show up."

 

"Can't Marcus go with me?" He bit his lip. "Forget that. Is he there?" Johannes looked at Marcus. "No," he lied and hated Marcus for it. "Now write."

 

 

Nicholas set the pen down, staring at the sheet with the address and phone number. A commissioned work! Only for him! He flushed again. Would he be able to do it? He was still insecure with most rich people and their lifestyle, but surely the woman liked the way he painted and so there should be nothing for him to fear. He tried to figure out exactly where her residence was, but couldn't be sure. Rummaging through Sebastian's shelves and drawers for a map proved futile. He gave up with a sigh and turned towards his drawing from last night.

 

Again he was captivated by the embracing male bodies and wondered if he had drawn himself in the right proportion. Pulling off his sweatshirt to confirm the picture's rendering, he was startled by the door bell. Letting the sweatshirt fall to the floor, he tiptoed to the door, peering through the peephole. It took a moment for his brain to realize what his eyes beheld.

 

Marcus.

 

He was standing right before him, separated by perhaps only three centimetres of wood. Slowly his fingers curled around the door handle.

 

He was shaved, Nick noticed, hair combed and dressed in a black, thin pullover which suited him well. He looked like a dark angel. An avenging angel? Marcus' face clearly mirrored his emotions.

 

"Won't you let me in?" he asked.

 

Nicholas opened the door wide and Marcus passed him.

 

"You owe me an answer. Actually two," he said.

 

"Two?"

 

"I asked you if it was ok to think about you and me for a bit, but you just hung up. I hate that. And second, why have you crept away here to Sebastian's flat? Were you longing to be near him?"

 

Nicholas had led the way into the living room. Turning, he saw that Marcus was glaring over his shoulder. Without turning, Nicholas knew Marcus was looking at the drawing. His eyes wandered over Marcus' face trying to gauge his reaction. Marcus stepped by him, up to the easel.

 

"You made this? Yesterday?" he muttered. "It's me. It's... you and me."

 

"Indeed." Nicholas answered. "Did you really expect me to draw Sebastian?" he asked, bitterly.

 

Marcus swirled around. "Stop it Nick. Let us talk like sensible men, all right?"

 

"All right."

 

Again Marcus examined the drawing, outlining every body part with his eyes. "It's splendid, darling. Outstanding. It's the best you've ever made."

 

Nicholas' cheeks flushed; he knew Marcus spoke as connoisseur, not as a layman or somebody who only wanted to please him.

 

Marcus' eyes found his and the look from them was gentle. "You still owe me an answer."

 

"Yes." Nicholas breathed deeply. "You may have time, but I don't need it. I want you. You said nothing bad happened between you and George and I believe you. But you..." he looked away. "I'm not sure if you can forgive ME. It's... I was angry because you always valued YOUR desires over mine, or forgot mine altogether. You understand?" Turning his back to Marcus, he put his hands into the pockets of his jeans. "I know my failure weighs more. I'm afraid you will never forget it. That you have lost your best friend ... because of me." He sighed deeply. "What have we done?"

 

If Nicholas had turned and looked at him, Marcus would have melted like frost in the early morning sun. As it was, he swallowed hard. "Nicholas," he whispered. "What can I say to you? What can I promise? I've thought a lot about it and I'm not cross with Sebastian. Not cross with you. I'm just tired."

 

Nicholas turned. "And you've lost weight," he said.

 

Marcus smiled. "A bit yes. I missed your cooking."

 

"You will never see George again?"

 

"Never!" Marcus exclaimed. "I haven't wasted a thought on him. Do you really think I did it because I fancied him?" He shook his head.

 

"No. That's the point, Marcus. It wasn't that you fancied another man. It was your madness to possess something for yourself, something you didn't want anyone else to have! You forgot about the feelings of the people who love you." He echoed Sebastian's words. "Have you finally realized this?" Nicholas continued.

 

"Yes, I have. But what do you want me to do? I love the job I do. It's been my whole life so far. I can't just stop it and do nothing."

 

Nicholas went to him, taking his upper arms in his hands. "Sure you can continue your work. But without the madness. You lost Simon over it. You want to lose me too?"

 

"I haven't already?" Marcus asked almost timidly.

 

Nicholas smiled. "Can forgive me?"

 

Marcus put a fingertip over Nicholas' lips. "Shsh. There's nothing to forgive." He pointed to the easel. "This drawing tells me everything."

 

With one smooth motion he pulled Nicholas close to him and trembled at the touch of his naked skin beneath his hands. It was so different from the feel of a dead piece of wood and glass. It was hot and smooth and velvet and vivid. It breathed and pulled together into goose bumps. Nothing could compare this. Nothing. He dug his hands into Nick's old golden hair, pulling his lips close. It felt like the very first kiss.

 

Nick's hands were all over him suddenly, trying to undress him but Marcus stopped his actions. Looking deep into Nick's blue eyes he whispered, "Not here. Not in Sebastian's bed." Taking Nicholas' small fingers in his hand tightly, Marcus told him, "Let's get your things together, sunshine, then I'll take you home."

 

Nicholas was light-headed, as if he had drunk too much. As fast as he could he threw all his clothes into the bags, grabbed the painting utensils and pulled on his sweatshirt.

 

"The drawing?"

 

"Have you fixed it?"

 

"No. I have no fixative here."

 

"Then we'll pick it up later. Come." He stretched out his hand and pushed Nicholas through the door.

 

Marcus would do the right thing for him, he was sure. Was it so easy? Just a few words and everything would be like it was before? As if there had never been a George, a screen, nor a tryst with Sebastian? Only the future could tell if this would last. But Nick wouldn't think about it right now.

 

Marcus stopped the Mercedes in front of his workshop. With a broad smile he motioned to Nicholas to follow him. Just like their first meeting, Nicholas thought. Dust shimmered in the cross beams of the pale sun which had fought against the rain clouds and finally won. The sculpture of Mercury stood near the door, with his beautifully shaped legs and his polished dark skin. Beyond, the cupboards with dusty glass doors hid their contents so that only vague shadows could be seen. Broken spears were stacked against the wall and then there was the sword.

 

"Do you remember?" Marcus asked in a low, husky voice. He pointed to Michelangelo's drawing at the wall.

 

"Yes. I remember it all. You asked me if this was a woman or a man. You said it could be Tommaso dei Cavalieri."

 

Marcus laughed quietly. "You remember this name?"

 

"I told you, I remember everything," Nicholas repeated.

 

Marcus took Nicholas' hand and kissed the fingers. "Sometimes it's not so good to have the memory of an elephant, darling. You have to forget. And forgive."

 

"Memory prevents you from repeating your mistakes," Nicholas responded.

 

"Quite true."

 

Nicholas stepped up to the sword stuck in the rock. He grabbed the hilt with one hand and pulled lightly. It did not move. Marcus smiled and moved beside him.

 

"Have I ever told you that I love you?"

 

Nicholas swallowed and gazed searchingly into Marcus' dark eyes. Marcus put his hand tightly over Nicholas' where it still embraced the handle and pulled with him. Both men had the impression that the sword moved slightly. There was a cracking in the stone and a slight vibration in the metal. Or was it only happening in their imaginations?

 

"If we pulled out the sword, it would be a miracle," Nicholas said. "But to answer your question, no you've never said it. Have I?"

 

"Yes." Marcus kissed his lips. "You have. But I won't mind hearing it again. As for the other, miracles happen every day. You just have to wait and see."

 

He loosened Nick's hand from the hilt and pulled him to the exit. "I can't wait, angel. Come home."

 

He didn't have to say it twice.

 

 

 

End

  

Copyright © 2011 Stefan; All Rights Reserved.
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Guest Abercrombie1987

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this is really amazing dude............. i loved it........... i wana read more of your stories........

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I loved everything about this story, which is more like a 'real' novel than anything else.

 

It's the characters, the main characters as well as the supporting and minor characters,, and there are many of them, so many at first I wanted a list of them so I could go back to see which role they played, but because of the way the story is built I soon learned to tell them apart. Even the villains are remarkable.

 

It's the setting; Berlin, Rome and London. And the world of art and design. The art references are many and delightful, and even better it you actually know what they are about.

 

It's the plot(s); Markus' hunt for the Edward Burne-Jone's screen, the search for Markus' ex-lover and of course the threat to Nicholas life.

 

And then it's the contrasting themes; true love and trust versus temporary thrills or satisfactions, money versus poverty and finally and maybe most importantly the love of inanimate things versus real living people.

 

So when considering its content one can easily overlook any grammatical or other language related errors.

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Thank you for a very satisfying story, full of interesting details and complicated situations; romantic, emotional but realistic too. I thoroughly enjoyed it though I must confess there were moments of frustration. Somewhere in the middle of the story the English got very ragged, as though it had been mechanically translated without thought for grammar and idiom - it made it difficult in places to read. It really does need some careful revision and editing to get it up to scratch. Not sure that you read the comments though since there has been no response to the other comments. Oh well!

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