Days melted into weeks as the snow and ice of February gave way to the greener days of March. Josh was busy with gallery openings for any number of his stable of artists. Anthony was absorbed in painting. The painting of Josh, hanging in the chains of his master's bedroom, looking melted, edible and very fuckable had sold within a day of being hung. The self-portrait, in which Anthony had turned his simple brick wall into a dungeon with a bare shaft of sunlight across his collared throat, had gone even more quickly.
He'd kept himself in groceries and utilities doing the small slave-boy paintings, hoping he wouldn't glut the market before the mural was done. Josh had, true to his word, bought yards of canvas. Anthony didn't want to think about what it had cost him. The five canvases were more akin to stage flats, seven feet tall, and spanning fifteen feet along one wall. He knew Josh had had them custom made.
Anthony had the shots and preliminary sketches of all the models. Seven beautiful men, of varying height, coloration and shape would fill the canvas. He was working on how to put the whole mural together, sketching at various poses he had, checking the arrangements of them, and trying to decide if Josh should be at one end or dead in the middle. He was the smallest of the men, and Anthony was still debating if he should arrange them by height or with a peak in the middle or with a valley.
He'd finished painting for the day around ten. The last touches had gone on a cityscape and it was drying. He was sketching on mural ideas when Josh let himself in, knocking as he did. Josh set the bag of Thai on the one bare space of the coffee table and then bent to kiss him. Anthony pulled him down onto the couch.
"Missed you," Josh said, diving in for another kiss as he handed over the container of sesame noodles. "The galleries have been insane."
"I've been busy." Anthony motioned around with his chopsticks to the various paintings and pencils and oil-pastels he'd completed. One of his trademark gothic landscapes, taken from pictures on a website about deserted places, leaned next to an impressionistic cityscape. Two more cities, one vaguely cubist and one with the hyper-real dreaminess of Maxfield Parrish were nearby. He'd done a Parrish style gothic, turning the streaming light and fluffy clouds into a nightmare of twisted trees and a dying angel on bleak, razor-edged rock. Three small erotic pastels and an eight by ten oil of Josh chained by candlelight were in the finished area as well.
"It all looks good. So when you bringing something to the gallery? Your wall-space is looking kind of sparse. And they keep asking when new slaves are coming." He slurped up the end of his noodles and nibbled at Anthony's neck for dessert.
"Next week," Anthony promised. "I just have a couple more I want to finish."
"Mmm, do I get to camp out here and help you carry?" Josh teased.
"I could use some strong arms." Anthony ran his hands over Josh's biceps.
Josh wrapped him up in his arms. "Mine aren't very."
"Feel good enough." Anthony laid his head back on Josh's shoulder.
"Fine for this." Josh nibbled his neck.
"How about camping in my bed?" Anthony suggested.
"I could ... I could. Show me what exactly we got and how much space we're gonna need." Josh looked over the new work with a critical eye. "You looking to move more mainstream? I can hang the cities in the downtown gallery and not the Goth one. They're ... nice."
"Yep," Josh agreed. "But that's not all they're gonna do. They're gonna cross you over to mainstream if you want. Suburbanites will be hanging your stuff in the living rooms of their McMansions, instead of artsy types hanging it in the bedroom and whacking off to it."
Anthony laughed. He set his empty takeout carton aside and reached for the collar. "My turn."