Do You See Me Now

an excerpt

Chapter One

The rain fell down hard, but at least it was warm. The droplets felt heavy on Dax's face, clinging to his lashes and no doubt smearing his carefully applied eyeliner, making him look more like the grim reaper than cool. He didn't mind though, nothing would keep him from missing his early Saturday morning walks, not even a hurricane or a field of locusts.

Not only did the walks help relieve him from the stress of his job as the head special-effects makeup artist for one of the biggest shows on television, but he got to see him. The man of his dreams, aka Lance Walter, who owned a coffee shop that just happened to be along Dax's walking loop.

Not that Dax had ever had the courage to go in and talk to Lance. The only reason he even knew Lance's name was because they'd both gone to the same high school. Back then they hadn't talked either. Lance had been a popular jock, whereas Dax had been a small, thin dork. The type that was at every school. The ones on the bottom of the social totem pole when it came to popularity. The only thing that set him apart from the crowd was that he'd been the only openly gay kid. So, that had made him an additional target for bullies.

He still recalled the time when five jocks had turned him over and dunked his head in the toilet for a swirly. They had even taken a picture of the event. A picture that had almost made it into the yearbook until one considerate teacher stepped in and put a stop to it. To say that high school had not been the best years of Dax's life would be a vast understatement.

But Lance had never taken part in the bullying. In fact, he'd always looked right through Dax, as if he wasn't even there. In a strange way though, he'd helped make high school bearable. If Dax hadn't had a massive crush on the jock, he would have had almost no reason at all to go to school. As sad as it seemed, at least with Lance there, Dax had something to look forward to. Even if it had just been to sit there during homeroom and drool over the guy.

Dax stopped in front of the coffee shop. Lance had no problem with seeing him anymore. Lately, whenever he walked by, Lance would stare out the window at him, the interest in his dark blue eyes obvious, even from a distance.

Little had changed with Lance. He still had the same raven hair from a decade ago and there didn't appear to be a speck of gray in it. He styled it a bit differently now, brushing it to the side. He was a little less muscular, his body more a runner's build instead of a bulky football player's. Dax liked the new one better.

Several times Dax thought for sure that Lance was going to come out and say hi or something, but Lance always remained inside. Dax knew there was no way Lance could recognize him from high school. Dax now had his hair dyed black with blue highlights, and wore it sticking up on top. He also wore all black and almost always had on some sort of spikes to complete his look. Gone was the dork, and in his place was a hard-core Goth.

The strange thing was Dax didn't even know if Lance was gay. Sure, he hadn't dated any girls during high school. But that could just mean he was shy. Plus, there had been rumors near the end of high school that Lance had come out, but Dax had been so far out of the social circle to know for a fact if they were true or not. Just because Dax thought he was giving him come-hither looks now, didn't mean anything. Dax could be misreading the looks. Lance could just as easily be staring at him and thinking, Why does this strange Goth dude keep walking by my shop? I hope he isn't planning on robbing it.

Finally having had enough of this cat and mouse game, Dax entered the shop. If Lance wouldn't make the first move, then damn it, he would. He was sick of waiting. He opened the door, inhaling the warm scent of coffee, and walked up to the counter where Lance waited. Lance's eyes grew wide, his only reaction to finally meeting face to face after so much stare time.

"I'll take a large coffee, just black please," Dax said.

He waited for a moment, wondering if despite all the changes Lance would recognize him, but no flicker of recognition registered in those beautiful eyes. All that was there was the nervousness that might come from a guy who was meeting another hot guy for the very first time.

Okay, well, Dax could go with that...for now. Later on, when they got to know each other better, Dax could tell him who he really was and they could have a good laugh over it. That was if there was a later. Maybe Dax had misread the looks.