Dominick picked up his small suitcase and trudged another mile before his feet gave out. Righteous indignation could only take him so far, and he'd long since run out of energy. He wasn't a submissive, and he'd be damned if he'd write like one either. Working for one of the biggest names in the publishing business had been one of the monumental mistakes of his life, and he'd never forget the lesson. Worse, they wanted him to pretend to be a girl. Hah! That was a laugh. Dominick couldn't write femme sub stories and they rejected all his m/m stories.
His so-called editor had been the snobbiest and most prejudiced person he'd ever had the displeasure of working with. "Homosexual stories are a niche market, Mr. Falchetti. They just don't sell. If you can't write what we want, then, well..." She'd left the threat hanging, and then had the gall to be surprised when Dominick took the implied offer and hadn't let the doors hit him in the ass on the way out.
He had one chance -- an address on a dirty slip of paper handed to him by one of the other disgruntled authors at his old job. Now, tired beyond belief, he stood in front of the doors of Bedtime Stories Press. His little suitcase sagged at his feet, but it didn't bulge with just clothes or even food. Inside the pockets were data sticks loaded with his entire collection of uncontracted works. Dominick sucked in his breath, turned the doorknob, and walked in.
A data slot stood in one wall -- "Insert submissions here." Beside it was a list of rules, just as they were on the website. Dominick had followed them to the best of his ability. With a trembling hand, he loaded his best work in the slot from his wrist com. A small screen lit up. "Please wait."
Dominick looked outside, where night was beginning to fall. Waiting inside was a whole lot better than finding a doorway to sleep in. He shrugged and hunkered down in a chair. His body ached with weariness, and his mind just blanked right out.
An hour or two later, a little old lady with white hair shook him awake. She smiled at him, put her fingers to her lips, and crooked her finger as if to say, "Follow me."
His bones disagreed with moving, but Dominick managed to stumble behind the lady. His mind was as tired as his body. She could have been leading him to his doom and he wouldn't have cared. He didn't expect a beautiful room done in his favorite blues and greens of the sea, and for one moment he worried they knew who and what he was to provide him with so soothing a room.
Then, the little old lady patted his arm, hustled him to the bed, made him undress to his underpants, and tucked him in like a mother. She hushed away his questions, pulled the curtains tightly closed, picked up his suitcase, and walked out.
Dominick blinked sleepily. His mind registered a mild alarm at the theft before the warmth of the bed and the soft colors of the sea soothed him into a sleep so deep, he could have been comatose.
Awakening was like someone had snapped on his light switch, but the room was still comfortably shaded. His sleepy mind made the connection -- he'd heard the bleep of a wrist com and faint tapping on a keyboard. There was also the sultry scent of fine, masculine cologne. He cautiously opened one eye to a slit.
The most incredibly gorgeous man Dominick had ever seen lounged comfortably in a wing chair close to the fire. From the tip of his black, lightly curled hair to his booted toes, the man was sin on a stick in jeans and a form-fitting green T-shirt. He seemed completely immersed in making notes on his mini-com. That is, until he spoke softly without looking up from his work. "Good morning, Dominick. Welcome to Bedtime Stories Press." His eyes were poison green and glowed when he looked in Dominick's direction and smiled charmingly.
Dominick shivered and opened his eyes to really study his guest. The man's French accent made his heart melt with longing, and even without that incredible body, his voice alone would make any gay man fall to his knees and beg. However, Dominick had long ago mastered himself. He took a few calming breaths and shut his eyes so the man's beauty wouldn't affect him. The results were dire if he lost control. "Hello. Thank you. Um... is that my manuscript in your hand?" He cracked one eye to see what the man would do.
The guest glanced down. "Non. I finished yours about three A.M." He waved a hand negligently toward a very modern, U-shaped desk in the corner. "It's waiting in your system, along with the others. You don't need to carry data sticks anymore, mon ami. We are modern here." He patted the keyboard in his lap. "These are my authors' release schedules. We spent a few hours juggling the next six months of schedules to include you. La Troll, she intends to keep you very busy!"
Dominick sat up, uncaring if the covers slid down and almost uncovered his nearly-naked body. He was thrilled. "Really?"
"Mais oui!" In a very Gallic gesture, the man bowed from the waist, even though he remained seated, and made it look graceful. "I, your editor Jean-Paul Noir, will make you write until your fingers are mere nubbins! Your work c'est magnifique!" Jean-Paul smiled very fondly at Dominick. "Of course, we must polish and improve your work, but your grammar and spelling are..." He kissed his fingers. "A joy to my heart."
The ball of tension that had held a hot, hard place in Dominick's stomach loosened. One small portion of his mind wrung its hands and moaned at the idea of working closely with the sexy editor. Its warning cries seemed very far away and easily dismissed by the mesmerizing gaze of Jean-Paul. "Thanks."
"D'accord. However, Dominick, I have one question for you." Jean-Paul rose from the chair and strolled over to sit next to Dominick on the bed. "Why would La Troll, who owns this pub, tell me I am the only one who can -- handle -- you? What does she mean by handle, monsieur?"