As it happened on a regular basis, Justin wasn't surprised to see Emmett rushing into the diner in a tizzy. Since Em was always good for an entertaining story or two, Justin pulled him into a booth, poured two glasses of water, put a couple of lemon bars on a plate, and joined his friend. "What's wrong? You miss the Early Bird sale at Torso again?"
"What self-respecting piece of disco trash gets up before noon? Who, I ask?" He was still upset about that, especially since he'd had his eye on a particularly luscious chartreuse shirt that would have been perfect for clubbing. In fact, he'd seen some twink wearing it not two days after missing the big sale and it had taken both Ted and Michael to keep him from tearing it off its clueless owner who had danced on unaware of the danger he'd been in. Putting the bad memories behind him, he focused on today's crisis. "I got invited to cater this A-Gay soiree and I managed to scrape together enough cash to purchase a fabulous new ensemble but it's missing something."
"Oo! I have the most perfect pair of purple boots; they're to die for."
"So shoes aren't the problem," Justin surmised although he couldn’t imagine purple boots at an A-Gay function.
"Well, a lady's never completely dressed without her jewels. And I don't mean the ones nestled in her unmentionables."
Justin snickered. "You and Brian are exactly the opposite."
"Thank God," murmured Emmett.
"Hey! That's my partner you're dissing."
"Sorry, Baby," Em said, patting Justin's hand and he really was. He could only imagine what it was like being in a relationship with Brian. Probably like eating cotton candy and corn dogs and candy apples and then going on a really fast roller coaster: delicious and a little nauseating.
"Anyway, what I meant was Brian has a box full of really cool jewelry and he never wears any of it. I thought after he stopped wearing his cowry shell bracelet that he would replace it with one of the others but he hasn't."
"Well, good for him," Em said, trying not to sound snippy. "He's got an embarrassment of riches and—"
"And you can borrow something for your soiree, silly."
Em blanched. "Oh, no, Baby. I couldn't. Me wearing Brian's jewelry?"
"He'd never even know it was gone. I'm telling you, he never even opens the box. It's in the storage closet with his out of season clothes. He's probably forgotten he has it."
Fueled by desperation, Em began to seriously consider Justin's suggestion. "You really think it'd be okay?"
"Yeah. You'll bring the bracelet back after your party and Brian won't ever have to know."
"All right." Em looked around as if he feared one of their other friends was lurking nearby bearing witness to their arrangement. "But no one else knows about this."
Em shook Justin's hand. "Deal."
"So, come over this evening and pick out something. Brian's working late and then he and Mikey are having a 'Best Friends Forever' night out. No partners or littlest hustlers allowed." Justin made a face.
"Does that bother you?" Em asked and Justin relaxed.
"No," he said, shaking his head. "I don't mind giving Mikey that much." He smiled. "Especially since I have everything else."
Em thought he'd wandered into Aladdin's cave. He knew Brian had a lot of clothes but since he only kept the in-season pieces in his bedroom closet, no one outside of Justin really had any idea just how much stuff he actually had. As Justin opened the storage closet, Em gasped. A walk-in closet with racks of suits and boxes upon clear boxes of shoes; storage containers of sweaters and a row of coats that Em vaguely remembered Brian having worn over the years. There was even a chest of drawers to hold tee-shirts and jeans he no longer wore. On top of the chest of drawers was a jewelry box. Justin handed it to Em and let him do the honors.
"Oh my God…" Em was astounded. "No wonder he never eats, he probably can't afford to. The clothes and the jewelry must have cost a fortune."
"Just call him the Label Empress."
"Not to his face, Honey," said Em, carefully picking through the box of bracelets and necklaces, cufflinks and tie pins.
"See anything you like?"
"Well, it has to be tasteful…"
Justin thought about the purple boots and kept quiet.
"Restrained yet not too stuffy."
"Everything Brian has is tasteful."
"Except that plaid shirt he was wearing the day they found Dumpster—I mean, Jason Kemp. What in the world was he thinking?"
"Bought it when he was stoned and was too embarrassed to take it back," laughed Justin. That was still good for a lot of teasing when he was in a particularly evil mood.
Em selected a piece, a linked chain bracelet, and draped it over his wrist. "Nice but… not quite it."
"What about this?" suggested Justin. It was a silver cuff made up of plates connected by bars. Very industrial looking yet tasteful. Justin could feel his cock stir just thinking about Brian wearing the bracelet. And nothing else.
Taking it, Em examined the piece. "It's beautiful. Tasteful. You don't think it's too restrained, do you?"
"No. Actually, it seems just a little bit kinky." Definitely reminded him of the manacles Brian kept in his toy box. They'd had a lot of fun with those.
Em put on the bracelet and held his arm out. "I love it. You know," the thought suddenly came to him, "do you think someone might have given Brian some of this stuff?"
"Maybe. Maybe that's why he doesn't wear it."
"You ever think about giving him something?"
Justin laughed. "What? You mean like a ring? So he can laugh in my face? I don't think so."
"Oh, Baby, I didn't mean…"
"Em, we're fine. Ethan gave me a ring and you'll notice that neither he nor his cheap assed ring are still around. I'd rather have Brian, ring or no ring." He grinned. "I did buy him a cock ring though."
"Does he wear it?"
Laughing throatily, Justin raised his brows. Maybe he'd get him to put it on tonight.
Em shut the box. "This is perfect, Justin. I'll be sure to return it after the party." They exchanged smooches. "Thanks, Baby."
What was it about best laid plans? The bracelet was a big hit. Everyone who saw it admired it and Em fluttered about like the social butterfly he was basking in the sunlight of approval from the A-Gays.
After cleaning up, he decided to take a cab home, and climbed the stairs to the room he now occupied at Mel and Lindsay's place, and got undressed. It was then that Mel was awakened from a dream by the sound of a queer screaming in fear for his life. Rushing to the guestroom, she found him in a state of undress and frantically searching his bedclothes.
"What'd you do? Lose your mind?"
"What?" Mel leaned against a bedpost. "I can't believe Mr. Designer Label let you borrow a bracelet."
"He didn't. Justin did."
Shaking her head, Mel said as she left the room, "Let me know when the main event is. I want front fuckin' row seats."
Justin was home alone when Em came over, Brian having gone to the office for a few hours even though it was a Saturday. He said that when you were starting your own business, you didn't have the luxury of hanging around home on the weekends doing nothing. At least he wasn't out fucking. "Did you have a good time?" Justin asked.
"I lost it," Em said plainly.
"What? Your virginity? Isn't it a little late for that?" grinned Justin.
Justin blinked. "Did you just say you lost the bracelet? Brian's fuckin' silver bracelet that probably cost more than I make in a month?"
"I'm so sorry, Baby."
"Fuck sorry we have to replace it." Justin grabbed his coat. "Come on, there's a jewelry store not too far from here. See what he says."
Their trip to the jeweler proved to be a curse and a blessing and a curse. A curse because he didn't sell any bracelets like the one Justin sketched for him but a blessing because, with a drawing, he could recreate the bracelet; unfortunately he worked in white gold and it would cost close to a thousand dollars for the custom work.
"A thousand dollars?" gasped Em, visions of Brian's foot planted firmly up his ass dancing around his head.
The same visions were dancing around Justin's head. The comic brought in some money, so did his job at the diner, but he used most of that for school fees—outside of tuition which Brian paid—and for art supplies and to pay for the bus and clothes and—"Fuck!"
"Justin, I'm sorry. I'll give you everything I have and I swear I'll pay you back. Every cent."
Justin took a deep breath. He knew where he could get the money. "It's okay, Em."
Brian came home to the smell of salmon wafting in the air. Putting down his briefcase, he drew off his coat and glanced at the table, sparkling with candle lights and crystal clear glasses and a bottle of white wine—chilled to the perfect temperature he knew without touching it. Raising a brow, he went in search of his partner. Found him having just finished dressing in something tight and sexy. They exchanged kisses then Brian asked, "You joining the Violet Vigilantes?" he asked, a reference to Justin's recent foray into the world of queer justice, wild west style.
Justin slapped Brian's chest. "No."
"So what's with the butter me up routine then?"
"Can't I do something spontaneous and nice for you?"
"You know the lesbian Ethel and Lucy tried this once; I saw through them and I can see through you. So spill."
"I need a thousand dollars," he mumbled rapidly.
"Come again? I’m slightly hard of hearing."
"I said I need a thousand dollars."
Brian unbuttoned his shirt as a prelude to changing. "Remind me to write you a check tomorrow."
Almost about to leap into Brian's arms, Justin paused. He knew Brian too well to suppose this was the end of it. "So what's the catch?"
"No catch. You just have to pay me back."
"I should be getting another check for Rage soon—"
"Not that kind of payment." At Justin's inquisitive look, he explained. "I'm in need of an obedient servant," he smirked. "So you have to do whatever I say."
"For how long?"
"One. It's only a thousand dollars." If there was anything Brian had taught him, it was that everything was up for negotiation.
"Says the man without a thousand dollars."
"One month." Justin added, "And you can't make me do crazy shit either. Or anything embarrassing in public."
"You sure have a lot of conditions for a beggar."
"Take it or leave it."
Secretly pleased, Brian kissed Justin's temple. "I hope that salmon doesn't dry out. You always overcook it!" he yelled as Justin dashed to the kitchen. Brian chuckled. This was going to be too good.
In Brian's book, it didn't count as something embarrassing in public if no one else knew about it so Justin was forced to acquiesce to his demands and to go grocery shopping wearing a chastity belt that Brian had purchased and had been needling Justin about wearing for weeks. Cock ring snug around his balls and dick and a butt plug held in place by the harness, Justin accompanied Brian to the supermarket and watched as the man took an abnormally long time debating the merits of one avocado versus another or whether penne was better than rotini with marinara sauce. It would have been bad enough just wearing the damn thing but the butt plug was an added torture. He'd gotten hard the moment it'd slipped inside him and hadn't lost his erection yet. Even his normally baggy cargo pants weren't doing anything to conceal it. He spent most of his time with a reusable green mesh grocery bag draped in front of him to hide his hard on. The only good thing about the entire excursion was the sound fucking Brian gave him once they returned home.
Then, one Saturday, he had to clean the loft wearing a short, black, latex apron and nothing else while Brian worked at his computer. The apron barely concealed his dick and left his ass hanging out for the world to see. Of course, no one saw him except Brian. He was praying no one stopped by unannounced.
In between dry mopping the hardwood floors and cleaning the refrigerator, he had to cater to Brian's whims which consisted mainly of bringing him water or lighting his cigarettes or rubbing his neck and shoulders when he got stiff from sitting at his desk too long without a break.
After Justin finished cleaning the somewhat immaculate loft, Brian sat on the futon while his partner gave him a pedicure. Which wasn't a hardship in and of itself as Brian's feet were beautiful and Justin liked nothing better than to touch them. What made it difficult was that Brian insisted that Justin straddle his lap and bend over giving Brian a bird's eye view of his naked ass and driving the teen crazy. He had to work with his cock constantly rubbing against the underside of the apron and getting harder. Then he heard the snap of a cap and almost groaned as Brian lubed a finger and pushed it inside him. "Keep working," Brian told him and the man flicked on the television and watched some old movie while he fingered Justin and massaged his prostate and Justin clipped his toenails and massaged his feet.
The good part about all the tasks Brian assigned Justin during his month of servitude was that they generally contained a sexual component which meant, after the job was completed, he and Brian fucked. The bad part was that the tasks generally contained a sexual component which meant he and Brian fucked and fucked a great deal more than they had previously. Justin's ass never got a rest except when Brian was content with them just exchanging blow jobs or when he required servicing himself in which case Justin's cock got a good workout. Justin had never thought he'd be happy not fucking but he was beginning to look forward to having paid his debt.
At the end of the month, Justin went and picked up the bracelet, amazed by the workmanship. The piece looked exactly like the bracelet Em had lost. His month of mild slavery would be so worth it when he got this baby home where it belonged. In fact, now that the entire ordeal was over, he decided to come clean.
So when Brian returned to the loft that evening, Justin handed him the bracelet in a box.
"What's this?" Brian asked warily.
Brian did, hoping it wasn't some kind of sappy, romantic gift. "Hey. This looks familiar." He frowned. "Justin, I think I have a bracelet like this."
"You did. I let Em borrow it and he lost it. So I replaced it with this one."
"Cool." Brian didn't care one way or the other. He'd been in the Kenneth Cole store on a buying frenzy and the cute salesboy had talked him into getting the damn thing even though he knew he'd never wear it. He went to put it in his jewelry box with all the other shit he never wore. Mostly crap given to him by desperate tricks.
"Cool? Is that all you're going to say?"
"Well, I could berate you for loaning my shit to Em but I think I'll skip it."
"Goddamn right you'll skip it. I worked for a whole fuckin' month doing whatever you said to pay for that fuckin'—"
"For this?" Brian asked in confusion.
"Yes," Justin huffed. Sometimes Brian was so dense.
"But, Justin, I got this for $40 at Kenneth Cole. What the fuck did you do with the other $960?"
"Yeah. It's your run of the mill metal bracelet coated with some kind of shit to keep it from turning your wrist green. I only bought it cause the guy who sold it to me was hot."
"Yeah, down at the fuckin' mall."
"I went to a jeweler. Paid a thousand dollars. It's gold. White gold…"
"Wow," said Brian appreciatively. He bussed Justin's temple. "Thanks."
Justin whipped out his cell and hit the speed dial number for Emmett and when his friend answered yelled, "Em, the next time you want to borrow some jewelry, fuckin' get it from Deb!"
Note: Freely adapted from Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace".