Center Stage Ch. 04
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“I really wish I had a camera! The look on Lucas’ face was classic! You certainly put him in his place, Cameron!”
Zack patted me on the back as he was laughing.
“Well, sometimes people need to be knocked down a peg or two.”
Zack looked at me with an eyebrow raised.
“Was that a back handed comment to me?”
“If the shoe fits, buddy.”
“Just remember who the boss is here Mr. Prince.” He said with a grin.
“You never let me forget, sir.”
I smiled at him and headed back towards my desk. Ariel was sitting there flipping through a magazine. She looked up at me as I approached.
“Hey! What happened, Cam? I need details!”
I laughed at her.
“I thought you had a department meeting?”
She got a very innocent look on her face.
“Did I say that? I don’t know why I would have said that. My calendar is free the whole afternoon.”
“You are so full of shit! You are lucky I like you though!”
We both laughed. I gave her a run down of what happened in his office. She jumped up and gave me a hug.
“Thank you so much for this, Cam, I think this is exactly what Zack needs. Hopefully now he will drop that evil boss routine for a bit.”
“Don’t be thanking me yet. We have no clue if he is going to change or not. That will be up to him. All we can do is wait and see.”
The door to the office opened and I turned to see who it was. It was the UPS guy, but it was not our regular guy. The guy coming into the office now was fucking HOT. I need to write a thank you letter to whoever in the company decided they should wear those brown shorts. This guy had to be about six foot three. The hair I could see from under his ball cap was a dark blonde. He had a body that just would not quit! I glanced at Ariel and she was practically drooling. I nudged her gently. We had to stay professional. Well, at least a little bit.
“Good afternoon. Can I help you?” I said with a smile.
This gorgeous man stood in front my desk and set down a package on my desk.
“He obviously has a package that he needs to deliver, Cameron.” Ariel said with a laugh.
Oh that dirty bitch! I should have expected Ariel to say something like that though. I would have done the same thing to her. Turnabout is fair play.
“I know, Ariel, but I doubt he is delivering the package you are referring to.”
The man chuckled. It was a rich, deep sound that filled the room. Obviously the man had a good sense of humor.
“It’s nice to see people in an office that aren’t uptight. Usually I have to deal with a bunch of uptight suits.”
The grin that lit up his face was enough to send my pulse racing. I could feel my breathing quicken. What is it about this man? I’ve never reacted to a guy like this before.
“If I could just get your signature right here, Cameron?”
He held out the electronic pad and I signed my name. He scanned the package and handed me my receipt. He wrote something else on the pad and then handed me a slip of paper.
“I’m taking a big chance here, but my name is Aiden. That’s my number. If you might be interested give me a call sometime. Okay?”
Aiden gave me another heart pumping smile. I gave him a smile of my own in return.
“You can definitely expect a call.”
“Good. I’ll be talking to you soon then. Nice to meet you as well, Ariel.”
He winked at me and headed out the door. Ariel turned to me almost immediately.
“You lucky son of a bitch. Why are all the sexy, gorgeous men gay?”
“Just to piss you off, Ariel.”
She swatted me with the folders that were in her hand.
“I expect a full detailed report on any activity that happens, Mr. Prince, otherwise I may have to report you to your superior.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I said with a mock salute.
The rest of my day passed quickly and uneventfully. Thank God! I had enough on my mind to think about. The paper with Aiden’s number on it was practically burning a hole in my pocket. I stopped in Zack’s office on my way out to see if he needed anything before I left for the weekend. . He had taken his tie off and his top button was undone. He was looking intensely at a profit report from CPS’s last show. He didn’t even look up as I entered the office.
His head snapped up.
“Jesus Christ, Cameron, you scared the fuck out of me. Do you always sneak up on people like that?”
“I opened the door and walked right in. I can’t help it that you were so engrossed with that report, Zack, you know what they say though. All work and no play…”
Zack gave me a mock glare.
“Means that Cameron doesn’t have enough work to do if he can harass his boss.”
I stuck my tongue out at him. The look on his face was classic. I cracked up laughing.
“I’m heading out for the evening, Zack, if you need anything done either leave it on my desk or email me. I will take care of it first thing Monday morning.”
Zack nodded his head.
“Ok, Cameron, I’ll be out of here in a few hours.”
I looked at my watch.
“Zack…its 6 p.m. casino şirketleri on a Friday. The weekend started for everyone else an hour ago. Can’t that wait until Monday? You’re always here at 7 a.m. anyways.”
“How do you know what time I get here in the mornings?”
“If you ever came out of this office you would know I get here a few minutes after you. Don’t you ever wonder why the phones don’t ring that long in the morning?”
He looked at me curiously.
“I thought voicemail picked them up.”
I figured that is what he thought because he never said anything to me about being here early in the mornings. The man really didn’t have any idea how hard people worked around here.
“You would.” I mumbled under my breath.
“What was that, Cam?”
His face was calm, but I could see something in his face. Actually you could only really tell by looking in his eyes. He looked hurt. Did I just hurt his feelings?
“Look, Zack, people really bust their asses off here. I know you work just as hard as anyone. Actually you work harder than all of us, but you’ve got an amazing dedicated staff at your fingertips. If you would only come out of your office once and awhile you would see that. Maybe even show some appreciation for the work that gets put in around here.”
He opened his mouth, but I raised my hand to cut him off. I walked over and stood next to him. I leaned against his desk.
“Just hear me out. You have created an amazing company. Do you know that you get at least 50 resumes a day from people who want to work here? You’ve done such an amazing job, but you’ve shut yourself off from everyone. You know everything there is to know about running the business, but you have no clue about the people that help you do that. This place could take off even further if you just talked to people more. Let them know they are appreciated.”
He glanced up at me.
“Is that the way you talk to your boss?”
I smiled at him.
“I’m off the clock. This is how I talk to my friends.”
I stood up and headed towards the office door. I looked back over my shoulder at him.
“Ariel is stopping over at my place tonight for drinks, Zack, you’re more than welcome to join us. If you want to that is.”
He looked at me thoughtfully.
“I don’t even know your address.”
“I thought you might say that. I emailed you my address. There are directions on how to get there from here or from your apartment. You might want to go home and change first. The function starts at 8 sharp. No suits at this function. Jeans will be fine.”
I could hear his laughter echo through his office as I headed down the hallway. Even if he doesn’t show up I was at least happy that he laughed when I threw his own words back at him. That had to be a good sign. Right?
* * *
“You have to call him, Cam! If you don’t I will call him for you!”
I gave Ariel a fake glare.
“I am quite capable of using the telephone. Thank you. I do use the phone for a living you know.”
She shot me the middle finger. We both cracked up laughing. It was about 9 p.m. and we were having a great time.
“Ok I will call him right now, but you have to keep your mouth shut! You are not going to embarrass me!”
Ariel rolled her eyes at me.
“You can do that without my help, Cam.”
I was about to fire a nasty comment back at her but a knock on at the door cut me off.
I looked at Ariel.
“I bet one of my neighbors wants to complain about the noise. We have been a bit loud.”
Ariel giggled as I got up and walked towards the door. I grabbed the knob and opened it. I was surprised to find Zack standing there. He was wearing a pair of black jeans and a hunter green shirt. His shirt was unbuttoned a bit and it showed off the top of his hairy chest.
“Zack! Why didn’t the front desk call up?”
Zack just grinned at me.
“Are you going to invite me in, Cameron, or do I have to stand out here all night?”
I grinned at him and shut the door right in his face. I walked back over to couch and sat down next to Ariel. She was laughing her ass off.
“You are such a bitch.”
“He’ll get used to it.”
There was another knock at the door.
Zack opened the door, but didn’t come into the apartment. Ariel looked at him questioningly.
“Zack, are you going to come in or stand there all night?
We both giggled. Zack raised an eyebrow at us.
“Didn’t you know that a vampire has to be invited in? If I remember correctly, Cameron, you did call me a blood sucking bastard the other day at work.”
I bit my lip to try and stop the grin that was threatening to show on my face.
“Would you like to come in, Zack?”
He actually bowed first and then came in. He closed the door behind him.
“You realize all it took was that one invitation right? I can come and go as I please now.”
I laughed at his joke.
“Let me warn you, Zack, I’ve seen every episode of Buffy. I could take you out in a minute.”
Zack sat down in one of the chairs.
“So have casino firmaları I, Cameron, so if you plan on playing the part of the slayer you should remember that she has a tendency to fall for vampires. So I might just get you in the end.”
“That is true, Zack, but only vampires with souls. That eliminates you now doesn’t it?”
Zack’s laugh filled the room. Ariel looked over at him with a smile on her face.
“It’s good to hear you laugh again, dear brother, I was beginning to think you had forgotten how.”
Zack was about to say something back to her, but something next to the couch got his attention first.
“What is she doing here?”
I looked over to see Madison sitting there. She hadn’t growled at him, but you could tell she was watching him like a hawk. I couldn’t help the giggle that slipped from my lips.
“Baby girl here was a present from Dale and Sydney. It seems she wasn’t fond of Dale so they had to find her a new home. Since she got along with me so well they asked me to take her. I couldn’t resist that cute puppy face.”
Zack actually looked fearful.
“You aren’t going to send her after me again are you?”
I grinned at him.
“That depends on your behavior for the night.”
Zack glared at me.
Madison let out a low growl as he said my name.
“That’s a good first step, Zack, by calling me Cam. Most of my friends do call me that.”
“Among other things.” Ariel whispered under her breath.
I grabbed a pillow off of the couch and threw it at her.
“Fuck you, bitch!”
“Only in your wildest dreams, homo!”
That started an impromptu pillow fight. Soon we were both out of breath, but we were still laughing our asses off. I glanced over at Zack and the laugher stopped immediately. Ariel glanced over to see what had captivated my attention. Shock was written over both of our faces. Zack was still sitting in the chair, but there was one difference. Madison was curled up in his lap and he was petting her back.
“What the hell did you do to my dog?” I said. “I thought she didn’t like you? Did you drug her or something?”
Zack just shrugged his shoulders.
“I was just sitting here watching you two go at each other like a couple of drunk sorority girls and the next thing I knew she was sitting at my feet. She sniffed me for a few seconds and then hopped up on my lap. I figured I better start petting her. She is way too close to my crotch for me to be fucking with her.”
Just as he said it Madison looked up at him and gave a single bark. I looked at her curiously. This was certainly a change of events. I wonder what Madison saw in Zack all of a sudden that made her like him. I would have to keep an eye on this situation. Maybe Zack really is trying to change. That could possibly be why Madison has decided to cut him some slack. Then again she could just be lulling him into a false sense of security. She is wicked enough to put him at ease and then take a chunk out of him.
Ariel punched me in my shoulder.
“What the hell are you doing, Ariel?”
She laughed at me.
“I’ve been trying to get your attention for the last few minutes. You better give Aiden a call. You don’t want some other guy to snag him up before you even get a chance at him.”
Zack looked at Ariel.
“Who is Aiden?”
I shot Ariel a look to shut her up, but she ignored me.
“Aiden is the UPS guy that stopped into the office today. He gave Cameron his number and suggested that he call him. So far though Cam has been a big chicken and won’t call.”
I thought Zack would be amused at my lack of self-confidence, but instead he looked very confused.
“You’re gay, Cameron?”
I looked at him and couldn’t help the laugh the erupted from my mouth.
“Yes I am. Didn’t you know? I mean you did invite me to that party as your boyfriend.”
Zack actually looked a bit embarrassed.
“Honestly I never even thought about it. I knew that I couldn’t go to the party alone, and I needed someone I could trust. I don’t really know much about you at all, Cam.”
I knew that it was a big deal for Zack to admit something like that. He was revealing something that was a weakness for him. I am actually surprised that he admitted that. It was definitely a step in the right direction.
“The night is young, Zack, you’ve got plenty of time to try to figure out all of my secrets. Before you know it you will know everything about me.”
Zack looked up at me and smiled. I leaned over the side of the couch and picked up the cordless phone. I grabbed the piece of paper that had Aiden’s number off of the coffee table. I tucked one of my legs underneath me and tried to get comfortable.
“Are you really going to call him?” Zack asked.
“Why not? He seemed like a nice guy, and he was fucking hot. It’s not like I have guys pounding down my door trying to sweep me off of my feet. When opportunity knocks you have to answer.”
Zack looked thoughtful for a moment. He pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket and lit one up. I looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
“You güvenilir casino smoke? How do you even know it’s ok to smoke in here?”
Zack let out another deep, mirthful laugh.
“Yes, I smoke. You are not the only one who has secrets, Cam, I figured it would be ok to smoke in here since there is an ashtray with butts in it on the table.”
Zack blew a few smoke rings up towards the ceiling. He looked at me again.
“I would think, Cam, you would have lots of guys knocking down your door trying to get into bed with you. I can’t believe that you don’t get hundreds of offers.”
I felt a slight blush flash across my face. It was weird hearing a compliment come from Zack. Even if it was a bit back handed.
“I do get offers to go to slumber parties, Zack, but I’m looking for something a little more meaningful than that.”
A sarcastic laugh echoed from his mouth.
“You think you are going to find a guy to live happily ever after with? Maybe that’s why you are still looking, Cam, I wish you all the luck in the world, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up too high if I were you. There aren’t many guys out there looking for Mr. Right. Most guys are happy with Mr. Right Now.”
I couldn’t help the chilled tone that appeared in my voice.
“If you’ll excuse me for a second. I have an important phone call to make.”
I headed off down the small hallway and went into my bedroom. I can’t believe the arrogance Zack has sometimes. Just because he wasn’t lucky in love doesn’t mean that other people will end up with the same fate. If he just wouldn’t cut people off so much. If he actually let someone in then he might just be in for a surprise. I had a feeling there was a man begging for love buried deep in the hard cynical man that was sitting in my living room. Only one question echoed through my mind. Would he ever give that man a chance to be free again?
* * *
Ariel glared at her brother. She understood that he was trying, but that still didn’t excuse that attitude he still threw around. She leaned over and snagged one of his cigarettes and lit it up. Zack looked at her with eyebrow raised.
“Don’t even ask me when I started smoking, brother dear, I would rather know why you felt the need to lay into Cameron there? He hasn’t done anything to you but be a friend. It wasn’t your right to say what you did.”
Zack glared at her.
“I was being honest, Ariel, Cameron said he wanted us to be friends. Don’t friends tell each other the truth?”
Ariel sighed and rolled her eyes.
“You just decided today you would try and be friends. You are supposed to tell your friends the truth, but you don’t have to be so damn rude about it. You’re very lucky he didn’t rip back into you. You think you know what Cameron is verbally capable of when he is upset. Let me tell you something. You have no fucking clue. I’ve seen him rip apart a man that looked like a flippin pro wrestler. I give Cam a lot of credit for holding his tongue with you. I wouldn’t have kept my mouth shut. I would have ripped you at least two new assholes. If you are going to be friends with people then you need to be a little more compassionate. You’re supposed to be there for your friends. They need to be able to depend on you for help.”
“So am I just supposed to lie to people, Ariel? Is that what you are saying? That even if I don’t agree with what he says or does I have to act like I do just because we are friends?”
“I’m not saying that at all, Zack, you should always be as honest as you can, but you really need to get some tact. If you don’t shove your opinions down people’s throats they might actually listen to you from time to time. And there are going to be times you are going to have to keep your opinion to yourself and just back up your friend. Just relax and try to go with the flow ok? I can’t lead you step by step through this. You’ll just have to learn as you go along. Just like the rest of us.”
Zack took a drag off of his cigarette and smiled at Ariel.
“Thanks, sis, I appreciate it. To be honest this all feels really weird for me. I haven’t had to just be friends with people in a long time. I just hope Cam will be able to deal with me long enough so we can be friends.”
Ariel smiled back at him.
“No reason to thank me. That’s what family is for, Zack, the main thing you have to do is at least try to keep other people’s feelings in mind when you say or do something. I am sure Cam doesn’t expect you to be the perfect friend because no one is perfect. So relax and just enjoying hanging out. You might actually have a good time for once in your life.”
Zack nodded thoughtfully. He gently eased up out of the chair. This gave Madison the opportunity to jump off. He headed towards the kitchen to make himself a drink.
* * *
The phone call to Aiden was quick but I definitely had my hopes up. He sounded pretty excited to hear from me so soon. We planned on meeting up tomorrow night at a local club to have a few drinks. I headed off towards the kitchen to get something cold to drink. Zack was just pouring himself something as I entered the room. I grabbed a glass from the cupboard and filled it with ice. I poured a liberal amount of rum in the glass and added some Pepsi. I was stirring the drink with a straw when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Zack was standing there.
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