The incomparable Rick R. Reed is here with a book filled with passion and suspense. TRICKS is a step away from the horror Rick usually writes, but this magical novel is engrossing and guaranteed to satisfy.
Rick R. Reed
ISBN-13: 978-1-60820-214-0 Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-1-60820-215-7 Electronic
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Tricks can mean many things: sex partners, deceptions, even magic. In Rick R. Reed’s searing love story, it means all three. Arliss is a gorgeous young dancer at Tricks, the hottest club in Chicago’s Boystown. Sean is the classic nerd, out of place in Tricks, but nursing his wounds from a recent break-up.
When the two spy each other, magic blooms.
But this opposites-attract tale does not run smooth. What happens when Arliss is approached by one of the biggest porn producers in the business? Can he make his dreams of stardom come true without throwing away the only real love he’s ever known? And will this question even matter if the mysterious producers realize their dark intentions?
Arliss had everything he needed right in front of him for that night's performance-hardhat, check, steel-toed boots, check, tool belt, check, black mesh thong with pouch for his rather prodigious endowment, big check. Yes, Arliss was just about ready for his turn on the stage at Tricks, located in Chicago's infamous Boystown neighborhood, at its epicenter on the corner of Belmont and Halsted. He also had before him a tall tumbler of Stoli vodka with just a whisper of cranberry juice cocktail in it for color, and a half-empty pack of Marlboro Ultralights. The latter two items helped the twenty-one-year-old calm himself before a performance, and the vodka in particular went a long way toward reducing backstage jitters.
He lit up a cigarette and regarded himself through the smoke. The lights in the crowded dressing room, which he shared with the other eight or so exotic dancers, were unforgiving. Fluorescent did little to hide any imperfections like rings under the eyes, reddened noses from too much partying, and, for those on their way out of the club, track marks on the arms. But Arliss didn't have to worry about signs of drug abuse showing up on his person. He had learned to just say no a long time ago, in a manner that he preferred not to dredge up, at least not now, when he was trying to put himself in a cheerful, high-energy mode.
Cigarette clenched between his teeth, he struggled into his costume, ending by stuffing his dick into the pouch that protruded from his black thong. His member stuck out in such a way that invited grasping hands, which is what Arliss wanted, as long as there was cash in those hands to stuff the thong even more fully.
Attired in a costume that would make the construction worker from the Village People look demure, Arliss turned in front of the mirror to ensure he was the perfect fantasy specimen of pornographic machismo. He was grateful he had added the angel wing tattoo to his back and the snakes that twisted around each bicep. And the one on his chest, the tiny heart with the name "Helena" in it, always brought a lump to his throat-or a splash of bile to the back of it, depending on his mood and how forgiving he felt.
He set the cigarette down in a tin ashtray and took a swig of vodka. He could feel as much as hear the heavy bass of the techno music playing in the bar and knew that Antonio, a Puerto Rican dude with a shaved head and heavy stubble, was probably just about finished with his set, which meant his boxing ensemble cluttered the small stage.
Arliss would come out, dance briefly and flirtatiously with Antonio, and then have the stage to himself. He didn't know how he did it, night after night, but somehow he managed. He had always been the shyest boy in Ruskin, Florida, where he had grown up. If they could see me now... Well, if they could see me now, they'd probably still call me a fag and try to beat the crap out of me. Once again, my dear, now is not the time for sentimentality. He took another swig of vodka, draining the glass and feeling the warmth of the liquor as it spread through his chest and extremities. Show time!
Arliss hurried to the door that separated the cramped dressing room from the bar proper. Tricks didn't really have a stage, although the dancers liked to think of the bar upon which they danced as one. It was Friday night and, from the burble of conversation beneath the pounding beat, sounded as though they had a good crowd. He sucked in a breath, looked down at his perfectly smooth pale skin and six-pack abs and told himself he was gorgeous.
"Don't forget to smile, Toots! You always look like some gloomy Gus out there!" Leave it to Emmett Myers, owner of Tricks, to try and unsettle him just before he went on stage.
Arliss flashed the man a big, Farrah Fawcett smile. If the prissy older man with the pencil moustache recognized it as fake, he gave no indication.
"There! That's what they like to see! For heaven's sakes, you have to remember that if they think you're having a good time, they'll have a good time. And a good time means more money for all of us."
Arliss listened as the song wound down, morphing into yet another bass beat that signaled him it was time to stride out through the door, amble across the crowded room, ignore the covert feels and pinches he got as he made his way to the bar, and climb up on it to join Antonio in front of the crowd.
"Get out there, gorgeous! Shake your groove thing!" Emmett cackled and placed a hand on Arliss' back to propel him forward. Just as much to get the hand off his back as to get to the stage, Arliss threw open the door, plastered on a big smile, threw his shoulders back and strode through the crowd, keeping his eye on the narrow strip of bar that would, for the next fifteen minutes, be his stage.
* * *
Sean didn't know what he was doing in Tricks. It was the kind of bar he never frequented. Hell, he rarely frequented any bars. He felt out of place among these older men, all of them leering at the strippers. He supposed he couldn't fault these men for coming here. The strippers, after all, were the bar's reason for being-providing "adult" entertainment...and to charge outrageously high prices for watered down cocktails.
I mean, really, eight dollars for a vodka and tonic? And the vodka wasn't even a call brand! Sean peered into the clear liquid, with its bubbles, slice of lime, and more than generous helping of ice cubes, and wondered again what could have possessed him to set foot inside this place. Tricks was a sleazy bar, a destination where he was certain the boys on stage probably made offstage deals with the clientele for more intimate, and less legal, behavior. It was the kind of place he and his friends once made fun of, painting the characters who frequented it with terms like "desperate" and "lecherous."
So what was he doing here? On a Friday night, no less, when other gay men his own age, thirty something, were on the prowl in countless other places on Halsted and further north, in the newer crop of bars in the neighborhood known as Andersonville.
He shook his head, knowing exactly what had brought him here. He stared morosely into his drink, the men around him hooting and catcalling as the next dancer hoisted himself up on the bar to begin his routine. The boy (to call him a man, really, would have been a stretch) was what was known in gay parlance as a twink. He barely looked old enough to drink, let alone wag his weenie at the patrons to a Lady GaGa beat. Was this kid really of legal age? Really? Sure, he had the requisite tattoos and piercings of a professional wrestler, and his smooth, almost hairless body was firm and well-defined, but Sean had to wonder what would compel someone so young to make his living in a way Sean had always thought of as demeaning.
And if what the kid's selling is demeaning, what does that make you?
He knew he should just get up from the bar stool on legs that were still steady and head home to his apartment and his live-in lover-an overweight black and white cat named Bergamot who was always willing to pay attention to him when no one else seemed up to the task. He shook his head, imagining his lonely evening eating a Lean Cuisine, watching recorded episodes of Glee.
It was enough to make him stay put and, for something to do, he turned his gaze to the boy on the bar, who was moving his hips suggestively, trying to make eye contact with everyone in the room all at once, and grinning like he was having the best time a boy could have this side of having an orgasm..
The boy was beautiful, in his own sordid, runaway sort of manner. His eyes were a piercing blue that somehow, when focused on Sean for the briefest of moments, made him feel he was the only guy in the room. But there was something otherworldly about him too, almost a glow, something that went far beyond his vitality and youth. It was as though he were performing to some inner music, something lurid and sexual.
Sean wondered what the kid thought about as he went through the motions of what could only loosely be defined as dancing. Did he really like being here? Why had he chosen this life over something with a more promising future, like college or some sort of employment that didn't involve shedding his clothes? Did he do it out of desperation? Was he on drugs?
Or was it that he was using to his best advantage what he had to work with? Sean had to admit-and the little man down below, the one between his legs, raised his purple head to agree-that the boy was sexy, extremely so. He had about him something that was at once alluring and needy: you wanted to take this boy in your arms and comfort him; you also wanted to fuck the shit out of him and slap his ass and whisper foul nothings in his ear as you thrust into him. Sean squirmed as his little man lengthened and thickened to his full size, which was actually about six and a half inches, and not the eight he claimed in various online profiles.
The boy shed the tool belt he wore, letting it drop to the bar's surface with a thud, then the hard hat, finally swaying in nothing more than a black mesh thong and steel-toed boots. His legs were long, lean, and well-muscled, and like every other letch in the bar, Sean could not keep his eyes off the boy's member, which bounced around in front of him like a mini baseball bat, looking absurd and breathtakingly tantalizing at the same time. Sean didn't know whether to laugh or just open his mouth and drool. How big was that thing, anyway? This boy, Sean was sure, would not have to lie about having eight inches. From the basis of the flaccid member barely concealed, the boy could honestly claim all that...and maybe even more.
Sean felt heat rise to his face as he gulped at his drink, finding the tall glass contained only ice. Where was that bartender?
And now the boy was moving along the bar, smiling and squatting down with those same magnificent legs spread, exhorting the bar revelers to stuff his thong with dollar bills.
He had no shortage of takers. The bills were testing the elastic of the thong's waistband and a few errant bills would slip to the stage; the boy discreetly snatched them up and held them in his hand as he made his way down this lascivious receiving line, letting the patrons dip their hands inside the thong to ensure that what he had on display was real. Sean assumed it was-no way to fake that. He also let them pat his ass, running their hands over its smooth contours. When Sean watched one guy wet his finger and slip it inside the boy's butt…
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Learn more about Rick R. Reed on his website or at his blog. You can also catch Rick on Twitter and Facebook.
I'll be back Friday. Until then...
Sweet as Honey...Hotter than Hell