“Men at Work” by Santino Prinzi

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Men at Work

I woke up to the smell of scented candles burning. Grant had lit the chocolate scented ones: the ones he’d got me for our anniversary and I’d kept at the bottom of the drawer because I found their scent too sickly but told him I was saving for a special occasion. The candles were the only source of light in the bedroom, casting romantic shadows that flickered on the walls, making me groggy and disorientated. I didn’t know if I’d been asleep for ten minutes or ten hours. I was in my boxers only, and I was thirsty and a little cold. I tried to get up but my wrists were tied to each bed post with scarves, as were my ankles; the scratchy material of the scarf on my left ankle made my skin itch.

“Grant?” I called.

Silence, but this was somewhat exciting. Grant knew I loved to be tied up during sex. We weren’t that leather-clad, sling-in-a-sex-lair gay couple so often depicted in the media, but we had a few kinks we enjoyed and which Grant didn’t indulge in often. He must’ve really liked the lasagne I made him.

“Grant?”

He stood in the doorway to the en-suite bathroom, the light from the candles illuminating parts of his body. I wanted to laugh but knew I shouldn’t. He was wearing the baggy, paint-splattered black trousers that he wore for his job as a painter, decorator, and general handyman, a white vest, and his tool belt, which hung loosely around his waist. Only when the candlelight fell in the right way did I realise that he’d removed all of his tools for and replaced them with a few of our own we’d accumulated. He knew I had a thing for a man in uniform, but this wasn’t quite what I meant. He kept his face covered in shadow.

“Someone called saying they needed some work done? I’ve brought all of my…tools…with me.”

It was hard not to laugh, so hard. He looked up briefly; I wanted to touch his black stubble. I shifted a little in bed because my back was starting to ache.

“Feeling the frustration yet?”

Grant walked slowly into the room and climbed onto the bed. The rough material of his trousers tickled against my thighs. I could hear the leaky tap in the bathroom dripping where he hadn’t turned it completely off. He hadn’t showered since he’d left for work that morning, so he smelled of stale sweat, which I preferred to the scented candles he’d lit because it was his smell. It was the smell of him climbing up and down ladders all day, of lifting and moving around heavy objects. He kept his mouth close to mine, but always out of range for kissing, and every time I tried he’d move his head back and laugh. I felt the anticipation swell for the both of us.

“How about now?” he nibbled my earlobe, a weakness of mine.

I didn’t say anything, couldn’t say anything.

“Like I said, someone called saying they needed some work done.” Grant took a smooth toy from his tool belt and caressed it gently down the side of my torso, then up my inner leg. “So, what do you need me to do?”

Fix the tap in the bathroom, and do the washing up, just for tonight? I smiled, and you mistook that for enjoyment at your roleplaying.

“Have you got a high-vis jacket you can wear?”

If he wore a high-vis jacket, then he’d look more like a builder, and I could go along with this without wanting to laugh.

“I don’t wear a high-vis jacket at work.”

Grant took a blindfold from his toolbelt and wraped it around my eyes. He started kissing my neck, varying between soft pecks and heavy, deep kisses, verging on total consumption. He’d let go of the toy and it rolled off the bed and fell on the floor; I heard it rolling beneath the bed and hoped it wasn’t too far out of reach for him. His hands stroked my thighs, and he kept kissing my neck but wouldn’t kiss me on the mouth. My stomach growled. I groaned a little, wanted nothing more than for him to kiss me properly; my mind wandered back to the high-vis jacket.

“Should you be wearing a high-vis at work, though?”

“No,” he said, and he kissed me harder as if to stop me from talking.

“But what about health and safety?”

He stopped kissing my neck and looked down at me.

“What about it?”

I struggled to think of a legitimate response.

“Working at heights?”

He sighed and rolled off me. “I work alone, don’t I?”

“Suppose you do.”

“Aren’t you enjoying this?”

I was, but I couldn’t detach myself from the idea that this is what Grant thought meant by ‘a man in uniform’. I took too long to respond.

“I thought this is what you wanted. I’m trying, Terry.”

“No, yes, it is–” Grant got off the bed and headed out of the bedroom. “Grant, no Grant, come back.”

I waited, still tied to the bed in my boxers, blindfolded, going soft, my left ankle coming up in a rash from the scarf. Five minutes passed. I heard Grant walking up the stairs, heard him come into the bedroom. There was a different smell in the room now, and I couldn’t place it.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

He removed the blindfold. On his lap was a tray with two plates of reheated leftover lasagne on it.

“Sorry, I’m hungry, and I heard your stomach rumble and thought you’d probably want some too.”

The smell of the lasagne was overwhelming in the best possible way.

“Untie me, then.”

Grant shook his head, placed the tray on the bedside table, and placed the blindfold back on me.

“Oh no,” he laughed. “This is where the real fun begins.”

About the Author
Santino Prinzi is the Flash Fiction Editor of Firefly Magazine, a First Reader for Vestal Review, and the Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day in the UK. His debut flash fiction collection, Dots and other flashes of perception, is available from The Nottingham Review Press. He was a recipient of the TSS Young Writers Award in January 2016, shortlisted in the Finchley Literary Festival and Greenacre Writers Short Story Competition, and was awarded the 2014/15 Bath Spa University Flash Fiction Prize. His short stories, flash fiction, and prose poetry have been published in various places, such as CHEAP POP, Litro Online, The Nottingham Review, Ink Sweat and Tears, and Flash Frontier. To find out more follow him on Twitter (@tinoprinzi) or visit his website: https://tinoprinzi.wordpress.com
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