This is an older story I wrote a few years ago and posted on Literotica, but decided to post it here on Valent Chamber as well. It is a two part series, so there is a sequel as well that I will eventually get around to posting. For those who haven't read Velvet Roses yet, enjoy!
This is an older story I posted on Literotica a few years back. Just thought I would post it here to share with those who are interested. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Releasing a heavy sigh, Jeneda Larkson took another glance at her watch. Twenty minutes had elapsed and yet the stage of the university lecture hall was still empty. Where was this guest speaker, and what excuse could he have for making such a late appearance? It was surprising she’d even lasted this long, considering that patience wasn’t one of her strongest traits.
Pulling the collar of her leather blazer closer around her neck, she did her best to ward off the icy draft which was coming from the vent above her. Her hair, which was jet black and fashioned into a sleek, choppy bob, left her neck exposed, and she could feel goosebumps rising along her skin.
She took another glance at her watch, contemplating how much longer she should wait, but before she could come to a solid decision, the sound of her best friend’s voice caught her attention.
“Got a hot date?”
Jeneda glanced over at Luna, who was fluffing out her curly, dark brown hair. While Luna’s face was round, Jeneda’s was heart shaped, and her skin was chestnut brown, a few shades darker than Luna’s olive toned hue.
“I wish,” Jeneda said. “It’d be a lot more interesting than sitting in this lecture hall, freezing my butt off.”
“Relax, he’ll probably show up soon.”
“I’ll give him five more minutes, then I’m heading home. I’ve got a sculpture to work on, not to mention I’m starving.”
“Leave, and you’ll be sorry. I’m telling you, this guy is anything but boring.”
“Oh yeah? What’s so interesting about him?” Grabbing a flyer from off her lap, Jeneda read the bold, large words of the heading aloud. "Gonzo City: Passing through the end, on the way to the beginning." Then she read the smaller, italicized print below. “A discussion with Dane Trenton about his stimulating graphic novel series.” She lightly scoffed, then said, “What a pretentious title.”
“Excuse you?” Luna said in a mock offended voice. “I actually think It’s quite good.”
“Yes, you’ve made that quite clear.” A chime emitted from her purse, so she reached into it, grabbing her cell phone. After quickly keying in a reply, Luna dropped the phone back into her handbag, then rested her gaze on Jeneda. “Is everything okay with you? You’re not usually this grumpy.”
“I’m fine, just tired and hungry. Sorry if I’m being annoying.”
“It’s okay,” Luna said. “We have been waiting almost half an hour, so I can’t blame you for being a little crabby.”
Certain that the guest speaker wasn’t going to show anytime soon, Jeneda reached into the pocket of her jacket and fingered her car keys. She was ready to bail, but knowing that Luna would be disappointed in her departure, she decided to give it a few more minutes.
The chattering voices in the lecture hall suddenly subsided as a short, squat man with wire rimmed glasses and gray hair took to the stage, then came to a stop behind a podium. Recognizing the man as her former professor, Jeneda
watched as he grabbed hold of a microphone, then began to speak.
“This afternoon we have the extraordinary pleasure of being graced with the presence of a creative superstar. His graphic novel series, titled ‘Gonzo City’, is continually growing in popularity, and has a striking visual imagery which has earned him a small, but dedicated legion of hardcore fans. While his immense talent is clearly God given, it was honed right here at this very institution. The Artist’s Academy of San Francisco is not only honored, but also privileged to have this successful alumni as our guest speaker.” He gave pause, then cleared his throat and continued. “And now after much waiting, and no doubt plenty of anticipation, I bring to the stage, Dane Trenton.”
An eruption of clapping filled the lecture hall, and a tall, lanky figure walked onto the stage. Dressed in a blue green velvet blazer, a black dress shirt, and a pair of black jeans, Dane Trenton made quite a striking vision. Initially, it was his outfit that caught Jeneda’s attention, but as her eyes came to rest on his face, she found herself instantly taken by his slim, sharp features.
Possessing thick, shiny black hair, Dane’s locks reached shoulder length and had luscious waves which made Jeneda long to run her fingers through it. His dark, hooded eyes suggested he was of Asian ancestry, yet something about the rest of his features made her guess that he was also mixed with white. His cheekbones jutted beneath his pale skin, and there was a small tuft of hair beneath his lips, along with a light goatee.
A feast for the eyes if there ever was one, Dane had the coloring and bone structure of a vampire. Transfixed by the sight of this beautiful man, Jeneda watched as he took hold of the microphone. Then she eagerly waited for him to speak.
“First off, I’d like to thank you all for showing up,” he said in a silky, deep voice. “It’s a pleasure being back at The Artist’s Academy, and I really am very humbled to see so many of these seats filled.”
Instead of standing behind the podium, Dane stood in the middle of the stage with one hand casually stuffed into the pocket of his jeans.
“Some of you may be familiar with my first graphic novel. It’s a little project I did some years ago, called Odd Souls…”
Before he could finish speaking, shouts and hollers came from a large portion of the audience, to which he offered a humble little smile, then tilted his head down. His hair fell into his eyes as a result, partially obscuring them. Once the enthusiastic noisemakers quieted down, Dane looked back up. He lightly tossed his head to remove the hair from his eyes, then continued.
“I honestly never expected more than a handful of people outside of my family to read Odd Souls, so you can probably imagine how blown away I was when I found out there were actual fans out there. Then I started making enough money to quit my day job, and let me tell you, there’s no sweeter feeling in this world than getting paid to do what you love.”
As he continued to speak, Jeneda listened raptly. Transfixed, she was unable to look away for even a split second. It wasn’t just his gorgeous face, but also his voice, and the way he moved. She noticed that every so often, he would caress his goatee. He also had this way of running his fingers through his hair, and each time he did it, she felt a little zing of arousal go through her.
He was damn alluring to say the least, and his mystique reeled her in. Yet despite his magnetic beauty, there was something else about him, something odd and interesting that made her long to know more about him. Sitting only four rows from the stage, she had a great view of him. Yet still, she was eager to get an even closer look.
Half an hour elapsed before Dane allowed the audience, which consisted of both current students and alumni, to ask questions. Most of the inquiries were about how he’d gotten his start in the business, and where he got his ideas from. There were far more questions than Dane had time to answer, so after the sixth audience member asked their question, he brought the Q & A session to an end. He thanked the lecture hall of students for coming to hear him speak, and let everyone know that anyone who was interested could stick around for a meet and greet.
This resulted in an excited chattering of voices, followed by a huge throng of people making a rush for the stage. No sooner had Jeneda stood up from her seat, did Luna grab her by the hand, pulling her down the aisle so they could join the assemblage of students. If she had to guess, Jeneda would say there were about forty people surrounding Dane, yet due to his tall stature, his head was still visible.
Some of the faculty members, who were standing around observing the madness, eventually organized everyone into a single line. One by one, each of Dane’s fans got their chance to shake hands and chat with him. Those who had brought along personal copies of his graphic novel had them signed. Some even whipped out their cell phones and took pictures with him, while others gushed embarrassingly, as if he were of royal status.
Judging from his popularity, Jeneda guessed that to the bulk of his fans, he was a divine-like being, and although she found it humorous how dazed they seemed in his presence, she couldn’t really blame them. He had this energy about him that was akin to a rockstar, and although he wasn’t in the business of playing music, he still had groupies.
More than half the people waiting in line were women, and Jeneda couldn’t help noticing that each and every one of them shamelessly flirted with him. Unsurprisingly, Dane seemed to be very much enjoying the attention, and as Jeneda watched on, she realized he was doing quite a bit of flirting of his own. She guessed that Luna noticed it as well, because she gently nudged Jeneda, then spoke a few words.
“Those college girls are so pathetic. Look at them. They have no shame!”
“It’s not only the younger girls. Women our age are flirting with him, as well.”
“Our age?” Luna emphasized the words to show her discontent with the way Jeneda had stated it. “You make it sound like we’re ancient.”
“Compared to all these barely twenty-something’s, we are.”
“We’re only twenty-eight.”
“That’s not old.”
“I never said it was.”
Luna crossed her arms in front of her chest, then cocked her head slightly, as if in deep thought. “You think he sleeps with his fans?”
“I don’t know, maybe. Why?”
“Because I’d totally love to do him.”
A smile crept onto Jeneda’s lips. “You and every other chick in here. Take a number.”
“Seems like you wouldn’t mind taking one, either.”
Jeneda turn her head and offered Luna a lingering glance. The look she received in return seemed to silently convey that Luna was all too aware of her attraction to Dane. But that still didn’t stop Jeneda from trying to play it cool.
“I’ll admit he’s gorgeous, but I am not about to throw myself at him.”
“You can still flirt, though.”
“I guess, but what’s the point? He’s probably used to women falling all over him, so that wouldn’t really set me apart, would it?”
Luna broke into a broad smile. “Check you out. Sounds like you’re setting up a little game plan.”
“I am not. I just don’t see any reason to feed this guy’s ego.”
She gave a little shrug and replied, “Suit yourself.” Then she retrieved a copy of Gonzo City from her large purse.
Taking a glance at the cover of the graphic novel, Jeneda saw that it depicted a futuristic looking city with tall glass buildings set against the backdrop of a gloomy looking sky. Large neon signs and billboards provided a sharp contrast to the dark cityscape, but for the most part, the city had quite a dystopian look to it. Curious to see the contents of the book, she decided to ask Luna for a peek.
“Mind if I take a look?”
“Nope. Take your time, I think you’ll enjoy it.” Luna gently placed the graphic novel in Jeneda’s hand, as if it were made of gold, rather than just glossy paper.
Flipping through the pages, Jeneda noticed that the panels of the graphic novel featured characters who were decked out in leather pants, vinyl clubwear, and knee high, platform boots. Many had neon colored, punky looking hairstyles and multiple piercings. Cyberpunk style, she thought as she admired the striking illustrations. Overall, the graphic novel had quite a cool look to it, and Jeneda found herself bowled over by Dane’s incredible artistic skills.
So engrossed in the high tech universe of Gonzo City, Jeneda failed to realize that she and Luna had nearly reached the front of the line. A gentle elbowing from Luna, however, brought Jeneda back to the present moment.
“So, what do you think?” Luna asked.
“Pretty cool. Does this guy just illustrate, or he writes as well?”
“Writes, illustrates...he does it all.”
“Wow. Very impressive.” She gave the book back to Luna.
“I know, isn’t he amazing? I would love to have even half of his talent.”
“What are you talking about? You’re a great illustrator.”
“Oh yeah? Then why haven’t I gotten hired at a comic publishing house, yet?”
“Keep trying, Luna. Don’t give up.”
“Oh believe me, I won’t. I did not take out thousands of dollars in student loans and bust my butt for four years in a fancy ass art school just so I could work low paying freelance jobs.”
“Those freelance gigs pay your rent, don’t they?”
“Yeah, but It’s not what I went to school for.”
“I understand your frustration, but you’ve got to keep at it. You’re going to get that dream job eventually.”
“I sure hope so. Because eating hot pockets and Ramen noodles had gotten really old.”
The mention of food caused Jeneda’s stomach to grumble, and Luna took notice.
“Speaking of food, you want to get some pizza after we leave here?”
“Yeah, but let’s go to Bimbo’s. Sal’s skimps on tomato sauce.”
“Bimbo’s it is,” said Luna.
After nearly fifteen minutes of waiting, Jeneda and Luna were now only one person away from meeting Dane Trenton. Unconsciously, Jeneda smoothed a palm over her sleek black bob. Her bangs, which were side swept, gave her an alluring look and accented her heart shaped face.
Now afforded the opportunity to be in closer proximity to Dane, Jeneda realized that he was even more devastatingly handsome up close. Since he was busily engaged in conversation with the woman standing in front her, Jeneda took the opportunity to get in a good, long stare.
The first thing she focused on was his shoulder length hair. It was inky black with an incredible shine, and she just couldn’t stop admiring the loose waves in it. It was a bit unruly, as if he’d been out in the wind, but she liked that. It only made her want to run her fingers through it even more.
She guessed that the female fan he was talking to said something amusing, because he laughed, then tilted his head downward so he could focus his attention on the book he was autographing. Once that was done, he handed the book back to the woman, and after giving him a flirtatious hair flip and smile, she walked off. Now resting his eyes on Jeneda and Luna, he gave them a smile, welcoming them forward.
“I just want to say, I’m a huge fan,” Luna unabashedly gushed. “You’re an amazing illustrator, and I love Gonzo City. I have every book in the series.”
“Well thank you for your support. I appreciate each and every one of my fans. You really are amazing.” He smiled broadly, undoubtedly causing Luna to melt in the process.
She smiled back, then bit her lip. Having known her best friend for nearly six years, Jeneda knew that when it came to lip biting, it meant that Luna was nervous. Which was quite amusing, considering that she was usually very outgoing and extremely chatty, even with random strangers on the street.
Casting a brief glance toward the graphic novel in Luna’s hand, Dane asked, “Did you want me to sign that?”
“Oh, right. I forgot all about it.” She bashfully smiled, then handed it over.
“What’s your name?” Dane asked.
“Luna…that means moon, doesn’t it?”
“Yep. The night I was born, there was a supermoon. So that’s how I got the name.”
“I see. Well, it’s very lovely.”
“Thank you.” Luna accepted the signed copy of Gonzo City, then tucked a curly lock behind her ear.
“You’re very welcome. Thanks for being a fan,” he said in his deep, sexy voice.
Jeneda didn’t even have to glance at Luna to tell that she was bursting with happiness. She could feel it radiating off her in waves, and it was clear to see that Luna would be having some very sweet dreams later that night.
Turning his gaze on Jeneda, Dane spoke to her. “And what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Do you have a book you’d like me to sign?”
“No. I’m just tagging along with my friend.”
“Oh.” A look of slight disappointment crossed his face. “Have you read Gonzo City?”
“Nope. I’m not much of a comic book person.”
An amused look crossed his face. “It’s not a comic book, It’s a graphic novel.”
“Actually, It’s not. Comic books are usually thin, with paper covers, and cater to the younger crowd. Graphic novels are thicker and have more mature content. Hence the word, graphic.”
“I see. Well I’m certainly happy to have learned the difference.” Her voice dripped with sarcasm.
A maddening smirk played at his lips, yet she could see a change in his eyes. He probably hadn’t expected her to do anything more than just stare stupidly at him after he’d finished his riveting explanation, and he certainly hadn’t expected her to respond the way that she did. So now he was trying to intimidate her with his penetrating stare.
As he studied her, she studied him. It was far too easy to get lost in his dark, hooded eyes, and as she held his gaze, she found herself wondering how old he was. Yet as soon as the thought came into her head, she admonished herself. What did it matter how old he was? Not only was he pretentious, but also a hardcore flirt, so why would she ever give him the time of day? While he was certainly great to look at, he wasn’t exactly boyfriend material.
Suddenly becoming worried that he could somehow figure out what she was thinking, she quickly averted her gaze. She felt silly even considering that he had the power to read her mind, but something about his eyes made her wonder if he was one of those people who could adeptly read others. It certainly wouldn’t surprise her if he was. Jeneda cleared her throat, then looked at her watch, silently signaling to Luna that she was ready to go.
“Well, thanks for signing my book.” Luna gave Dane a smile in parting.
“No problem.” He turned his attention to Jeneda. “If you ever get a chance, check out Gonzo City. I think you’d enjoy it.”
“She already has, and she loved it.”
Luna’s quick response caused Jeneda to throw a look of dissatisfaction her way. Then she glanced at Dane, and saw that he seemed equally surprised.
“Really?” He asked Luna, and after receiving a nod in response, he looked at Jeneda.
So you liked it?” He asked.
“I didn’t get a chance to read the whole thing. I just flipped through it.”
“And did it hold your interest?”
“Yeah, it was alright,” Jeneda said.
“She’s probably too shy to tell you this, but she used the words, ‘wow, cool, and very impressive,’ to describe your work.
Suddenly feeling the urge to duck tape Luna’s big mouth shut, Jeneda narrowed her eyes. But Luna could sense that Jeneda was giving her a dirty look, so she avoided eye contact, choosing instead to look at Dane.
“Is that true?” Dane kept his gaze focused on Jeneda.
“Yes,” she reluctantly said. “It kept my interest.”
The corners of his lips tugged into a pleased smile. “Excellent. That’s good to hear.”
She nodded, then said, “Yeah. Well, it was nice meeting you.” Then she turned on her heel and headed down the steps of the stage.
She heard Luna say goodbye to Dane, then there was the sound of her footsteps as she followed behind Jeneda. Once she’d reached her side, Luna gave her a funny look.
“What’s with you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why did you just leave like that?”
Jeneda shrugged. “I don’t know. How was I supposed to leave?”
“Okay, what’s going on? Why are you acting so weird?”
“Yes, you are. So what’s the deal?”
After exiting the lecture hall, they made their way out of the building, then started across the lush, park-like college campus while walking hastily side by side.
“You embarrassed me.” Jeneda said.
“What are you talking about? All I did was tell him that you liked his graphic novel.” Then she added, “By the way, why were you holding back your opinion of his work?”
“Because I didn’t feel like sharing it.”
“I’m sure he already knows how talented he is. He doesn’t need the ego stroke.”
“You make it seem like he’s full of himself.”
Jeneda’s lack of response conveyed more than any words could.
“Wait, you don’t actually think he’s an egomaniac, do you?”
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but he’s definitely pretentious.”
“He is not.” The tone of voice she used made it seem as if Jeneda had just insulted her, rather than Dane.
“In my opinion, he is.” The nippy weather caused Jeneda to stuff her hands in her pockets, and she sniffed.
The lamp posts which lined the path they were walking along emitted a soft golden light, and as Jeneda turned her head to look at her friend, she saw that Luna’s face had a glow to it.
“That explanation he gave of the difference between comics and graphic novels was kind of lame, don’t you think?”
“No. I thought he explained it very well.”
“But the way he said it…” As her voice trailed off, she shook her head in annoyance. “He tried to make it seem as if the concept of graphic novels was way over my head. Which is totally ridiculous, because It’s not as if they’re super complicated or anything.”
“I think you’re blowing this out of proportion, Jeneda. I don’t remember him acting that way at all.”
“Well I do.” She was silent for a moment, then said, “And to think, I was actually attracted to him.”
“I knew it. You do like him.” A big smile crossed Luna’s face.
“No, I don’t. Not anymore.”
“Come on, Jeneda. It wasn’t that big of a deal.”
“I didn’t like the way he talked to me.”
“He wasn’t rude to you.” Receiving nothing except silence in return, she added, “Okay, so maybe his whole explanation of comics versus graphic novels was a little pompous. But he’s still a nice guy.”
“Yeah, well, I still think he was annoying.” Having reached the parking lot, she headed in the direction of her car.
“He really got under your skin, didn’t he?”
Upon reaching her Jeep Cherokee, Jeneda unlocked the driver’s door, climbed inside, then leaned over to pop up the lock of the passenger’s side. Once Luna was inside, Jeneda started up the engine.
“Love or hate him, you have to admit he’s pretty damn hot,” Luna said.
“I’m tired of talking about him. Let’s change the subject, okay?” She turned the radio on to emphasize her statement.
Yet no sooner had the words left her mouth, did she realize that the harder she tried to stop thinking of him, the more persistent the image of his face in her mind became. He was worming his way into her thoughts, and she had a pretty good feeling it wouldn’t be easy to shake him loose.