There's nothing that causes silence in la Flamme quicker than the spotlight switching on in the almost dark room. Sentences falter, conversations are forgotten and all eyes turn to focus on the empty stage. The figure that breaks the emptiness is the temptress herself; Madam Rouge. She is a vision with letter box red hair that tumbles down to her waist in loose curls, a red Basque covered in black lace is pulling her muscled stomach and toned legs appear to shimmer in natural tone tights.

Lips painted in blood red lipstick cracked into a smile as she looked out at the crowd that was filling up her bar that evening. "Welcome to la Flamme once more," she called out to them all, her large hands spanning out across the room and the light twinkled off her gemstone decorated false nails, "It's Friday night and once again the weekend has graced us with its company." This was followed by some cheers from the crowd and her smile brightened at the response. "As always, all the rooms are open for your pleasure but more importantly – the wonderful and mysterious Pierre has joined us once more," she flashed them all a wink, her smile turning almost feral as she fed the crowds by dropping the name.

Hiding behind the curtains, Pierre just shook as his head as he watched Madam Rouge run her pointed tongue along a row of perfect white teeth that were far from natural. When he had turned up at Madam Rouge's door six months ago, he had been simply searching for a job behind the bar to make his life a little more exciting by soaking in the lifestyle that would be surrounding him but the Madam had taken an interest in him. She had eyed him like a predator did his prey and he had found himself becoming one of the key attractions.

Due to his elusive behaviour, Pierre had become a man of mystery in la Flamme and everyone was desperate for just a minute of his attention. No one had ever managed to convince him to shed his mask or cloak, nor could they ever manage to make him slip up and tell them his real name. To the clients, Pierre was sexy, dangerous and everything they wanted to be and that made him desirable.

"So as always, gentlemen, make sure you keep an eye out for Pierre prowling the crowds." She reminded them. "You know how he likes to join in your games but he disappears as quickly as a blink."

It was well known around the club that Pierre never solely hunted out a partner; it was too emotionally vesting and it was not something you could get into with only the allotted ten minutes he allowed each couple; and joined in with people there with partners. He always asked first and was very rarely refused. Pierre gave them that taboo of having a threesome; of having someone share that intimate moment; and knowing that someone wanted to watch you with the person you desired. It was ten minutes of bliss and there were no questions asked.

"So why are we hiding behind the curtains like a naughty little boy?" The husky voice of Madam Rouge sounded in his ear, her hot breath teasing his skin and he swore she had probably left a trace of her lipstick against his pale skin. Turning around, Pierre studied the woman from behind his mask as a smile wormed its way onto her face.

"I'm just debating who my..." His sentence died as he focused on a dark haired man that had just appeared in his line of vision. His heartbeat started to race and he felt a warm blush race up his neck as he turned his head to the side, avoiding Madam Rouge's gaze as well as attempting to step away from the curtain.

Putting the new copy of 'Wuthering Heights' into its rightful place in the classic section, Perry ran his fingertips along the spines of the books as he moved down the aisle and taking in the smell of the new books. Ever since he had been a small child, Perry had enjoyed getting submerged into a good book and forgetting about the dull real world he found himself in so he had been extremely happy when a job had opened up in his local bookstore.

This job had been his world for the last three years. He came in early every morning and stayed there well past closing; only stopping for a lunch hour between midday and one o'clock. Perry was the first one to arrive in a morning and the last one to leave at night. He had heard regular customers joked that Perry must literally live there at the building and he was pretty sure that if he had the chance then he would.

However, despite his love for the place, he had found himself becoming unsettled.

There was nothing new about the place any more unless you thought about the never ending chain of new members of staff. It was the same old routine day in and day out. Perry came into work with a smile on his face and left with the same smile on his face when it came to closing time but it did not mask his desire for adventure.

"So are you going to hide out here all day or are you going to actually do some work?" The taunting voice of the latest employee through the door; Garrett; came from behind Perry causing him to jump. This new face had been at the bookstore for a month and already Perry did not know how he felt about him. Usually Perry did not even bother learning the new employee's names but Garrett's had stuck with him. There were some moments where they felt like they could go out and socialise for a coffee but other times he felt like slamming the guy over the head with one of the heavier books like Stephen King's 'Under the Dome'.

"I am working, Garrett. I was putting Wuthering Heights back on its shelf." He argued even though he knew he did not have to explain himself. "I bet you don't even know you wrote that, do you?" Perry sneered, rolling his eyes as he started to walk away and feeling slightly guilty towards his comment. Garrett did actually read. The two guys often had extensive chats in the staff room about the books they had in common but sometimes the other guy just wound him up the wrong way.

It was possibly because the guy was the image every girl dreamed about. Garrett stood at six foot two, had long floppy brown hair that fell into dark brown eyes that almost appeared onyx in some lights and had muscles that hinted he worked out at any chance he had. He was your typical sporty type of guy and it was not fair that he broke all clichés by secretly being a book nerd. He knew all the classics, all the books that you should read and even managed to enjoy the books that you should not.

Unfortunately, Garrett was not deterred by Perry's surly mood. "Actually Mr. Snooty, I do. It was Emily Bronte. It's a great piece of fiction. Not as amazing as the T.V. screen play starring Tom Hardy though," he responded nodding his head with a knowing look on his face. "The anguish and pain Hardy portrays as he lays with Catherine in her grave is pretty realistic."

"Of course you've seen the T.V. adaptation. Did you read it before or after you watched it?"

"Before, as a part of my English literature G.C.S.E. I studied how romance novels have changed throughout times." Garrett smiled at Perry, his smile causing Perry to want to punch him in the face and maybe taint it a little. It was not humanly possible someone could be that pretty. "So how about you and I go out tonight and grab a coffee, Perry? You're constantly brushing me off whenever I ask you."

It was true. Garrett had recently started to ask him out most evenings for a coffee. "Because you only ask me whenever there's no female to have your attention," Perry pointed out causing Garrett just to grin sheepishly at him. "Anyway I can't. I have other plans."

Garrett just looked at him. "What? You going to sit at home alone again on a Friday and read the latest novel you've bought?"

"Yes, I'm sure that's what you would believe." Perry commented before moving away from his colleague, his eyes rolling as he mumbled about idiots and jumping to conclusions as well as how Garrett would never know what he got up to on a Friday night.

"Pierre... Pierre? Are you alright?"

"What's he doing...?" Pierre asked at the same as Madam Rouge was asking after him. Catching his thoughts, he ran his hand through his hair before turning to look back at the owner of the bar. "I'm sorry. I'm fine." He looked back out of the curtain, trying to ascertain whether the guy was there alone or with a partner.

Madam Rouge followed his gaze and her feral smile appeared again. "I should have known that you had found your target, Pierre. Enjoy." She pressed a kiss to his cheek before quickly smoothing away any signs of lipstick away with a stroke from her thumb. Slipping out from behind the curtain, she stepped back into the throng of people and enjoyed the glow of the times they were having with each other.

He was alone.

Pierre knew because he was sat at the bar nursing a three fingers measure of whiskey. It was a grown up drink; not something he had suspected he would drink; so he assumed it was to ease the man's nerves. His eyes scanned the crowd, obviously scouting for a pattern that would entertain him tonight. However, he looked bored with the choices so Pierre decided that tonight he was going to break the rules. He was going to entertain a guy that was at la Flamme on his own.

Slipping out from behind the curtain, Pierre ran his hands up one of the man's backs that he passed as he made his way towards the bar. Pierre did not need to even join in with games. Sometimes just a simple touch was more than enough to ignite a flame in some of the couples. Sitting down at the bar, he nodded at the bar tender who slid a shot glass to him and filled it with non-alcoholic spirit – smelt and tasted so good no one would notice – before turning to look at his target.

"Excusez-moi, you're here alone tonight?"

"Question or statement," the guy challenged and Pierre smiled as he took a sip of his drink.

"Statement," he responded. "I can see the signs. Nursing a drink by the bar, your eyes were scoping the crowd looking out for that particular guy that will get your pulse racing and your dick hard." Looking around the room, Pierre just cocked his head with a smug smile. "You haven't found him yet, have you?"

"I was hoping to bring him with me," the guy confessed with a sheepish smile, "but he's this cute little nerd that I think would probably wet his pants if he ever came into a place like this."

"Many are like that on their first trip," Pierre explained trying to sound light hearted rather than offended by the statement. "Does he know you're interested?"

"He thinks I'm a dumb jock that just took the job at the store because it was available," he said with a shrug of his shoulders before downing the rest of his amber liquid. "It was a pretty stupid idea coming here tonight." The guy started to push away from the bar but Pierre's hand snapped out and took hold of his wrist.

"Stay. It's just one night."

"Come on, Perry. It's just one night!" Garrett tried to convince him as they sat in the break room together eating the pizza they had ordered from the twenty four hour pizzeria around the corner. "I'll even have you in before midnight so you don't turn into a pumpkin."

"Garrett, we're not even friends. Why are you insisting that I go out with you tonight?" Perry demanded to know as he picked off the olives from his slice of pizza and put them on the one Garrett was about to eat. Even as he did it, he thought that contradicted his statement as that was a trait friends would do. Colleagues would have bought a separate pizza so that they would not have to worry about eating something they did not enjoy.

"Maybe it's time we became friends, Perry. Despite your frosty attitude towards me, I genuinely like you and think you're a stand up guy."

"For a nerd?"

"When have I ever called you a nerd? You're the one that sticks by the stupid clichés. You think I'm a dumb jock with a pretty face."

"You're an intelligent jock with a pretty face. How many jocks write papers on how romance has changed over the years?"

"Hey, many of my male friends had a great giggle at the 50 Shades series. That was better than some porn rags," Garrett laughed as he lifted his can of Dr. Pepper and took a long swig of it. "I think it's great that women now feel brazen enough to talk about sex, don't you?"

"Women have always talked about sex, Garrett. They just did it in dark clubs around cocktails rather than cracking a book out on a train," Perry laughed as he shook his head. This conversation was surreal. "I can't go out with you tonight, Garrett, because I already have plans."

"Chess club?"


"Scrabble night?"

"I thought you said you didn't think of me as a nerd?"

"I don't. I just want you to let me into that head of yours and tell me what keeps you busy on a Saturday night!" Perry stared at Garrett.

"J'ai une leçon de français." He lied smoothly about having to go to a French lesson. "J'aime apprendre de nouvelles langues. Ce mois-ci, il est français."

"I never knew that you enjoyed learning new languages," Garrett translated with a grin. "See you let me into that head of yours and now I know something new."

Perry just forced a smile onto his face as he continued to eat his slice of pizza, not wanting to mention he could still taste the olives.

"Who are you?" The guy asked as he slowly moved back onto the stool, his gaze narrowing as if he had vision that could see through the leather mask.

"Je suis l'insaisissable Pierre. Voici pour votre plaisir." Pierre identified himself, explaining that he was there for his pleasure and he saw the shocked look on the man's face.

"Pierre only seeks couples."

"Pierre likes to break rules," he responded with a warm smile as the hand still holding the wrist moved to start stroking up the length. "You came here to play, no?"

"I came here to..." He stopped talking as he looked at the man, the desire suddenly making his eye onyx as he nodded his head. "I came here to play with a guy that could pique my desires. Can you do that?"

Pierre had another rule. No kissing on the mouth. He was not there for intimacy. He was there to help the clients get their rocks off but he saw that this guy was going to make him break all his rules and therefore he did not reply with words. He threaded his hand through the man's dark hair and tugged it back as he leant in to feed from his lips. The kiss was bruising as Pierre's grip tightened on his hair. He knew that the guy had challenged him with his words. He was desperate to seek out if the man was as good as everyone said. Pierre did not hesitate, nor did he hold back. Biting down on the man's lip, he heard him gasp and a devilish smile appeared on his face.

Stepping back, he saw the guys eyes had now hooded almost and he bit back the urge to get intimate and kiss each eyelid. "I believe that solely depends on what desires you have to pique."

"I... I..." The guy just looked at him blankly and Pierre chuckled warmly as he stepped back into the man's personal space.

"Left you speechless? This type of passion you can't find in books, boy." He reminded and the guy's chin lifted, an air of cockiness reappearing as he attached his lips back onto Pierre's.

Pierre pressed his hands to the man's hips, pushing him back against a darkened wall of a bar because he did not have the patience to take him to one of the rooms. The guy's lips were everywhere. Biting, sucking and licking the few bare parts of Pierre he could find behind the ridiculous outfit and mask. Pierre knew there would be blemishes. Hickeys decorating his pale skin once they were finished and he would be reminded of why he never allowed them to get close but at the moment he did not care. All grace of professionalism had flown out the window.

"Pierre, make me forget him," the guy whispered into his ear. "He's never going to return my feelings. Make me forget." He pleaded, his hand sliding down Pierre's chest and starting to slip his hand beneath the leather covering his penis. Pierre stilled at his words. He knew he had been someone's replacement before. It happened in this kind of joint but at the same time, he could not stand to be the replacement for this guy. Wrapping his hand around the man's wrist once more, Pierre closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the guys.

"I think this will be the first time in history I ever say this but think about this before you do it," Pierre stated, the expression in his eyes grim as he realised that he needed to step back before he took this guy hard against the wall. "You're not just lusting after that guy... You love him."

"I think I do," the guy whispered looking down at the crowd, a sheepish smile on his face as he ran his hand awkwardly up his neck. "But he doesn't even care about me."

"Have you told him?" Great, now he was being a bloody marriage counsellor. Pierre looked around him quickly, desperate to see if there was a couple in need of his attention to snap him out of this.


"Then I think you should."

"I think he knows now," the guy simply said as he reached out and squeezed Pierre's hand but the touch left as quick as it happened. Pierre stood there, dazed, for a couple of seconds before the words hit him. Whipping round, he searched the crowds for the guy and slammed back against the wall when his search turned up fruitless.

"Pierre, Pierre!" Madam Rouge came up behind him as she rested her hand against his shoulder. "Is everything alright? I didn't know if you wanted me to interrupt or..."

"I'm fine. I think I need to go sit down for five," he lied breaking free from her and dashing to his dressing room, collapsing to the floor and taking a deep breath. Was this the end of the elusive Pierre? Did someone know his identity...?

Perry stayed off sick from work on Saturday. He was pretty sure it was a bug he had told his boss and that he would be alright in twenty four hours but he did not want to risk infecting colleageaus or customers. Thankfully, due to his impeccable history, his boss had deemed it okay for him to have a day off so he had spent the day curled up on his couch watching the original Dallas with a large tub of ice cream, a large box of misshaped chocolates and a never ending supply of tea. It was his idea of bliss.

However what was not his idea of bliss was someone banging at his door at half past six in the evening. He decided to play deaf and ignore it. "Perry, I'm not going away." Garrett. It just had to be Garrett. "I will make a scene. Vos voisins se plaignent du bruit, Perry." Garrett was right. His neighbours would complain about noise so throwing back his duvet, he jumped off the couch and pulled open his front door.

"What do you want?"

"Well you don't look ill."

"It's a bug. It's not actually going to paint itself on my face, is it?" Perry snapped before glaring at the man. "How did you even get my address?"

"I looked at your work file."

"The work file that is private and confidential?"

"And also states that you're already fluent in Polish, Spanish, German and what was the other one...? Oh yeah, French." Garrett responded with a smile. "I knew you were lying to me yesterday about French club."

"So you did what...?"

"I followed you."

"You followed me." Perry replied with the shake of his head. "Are you insane?"

"No. I have tried so hard to make you notice me I seem to have pushed you away with my arrogance," Garrett explained with the shrug of his shoulders and Perry knew that he was not sorry for it. "So I followed you. I expected you to go to some chess club or something but when you walked into la Flamme... I was shocked. It made me realise I was right about you and that I wasn't lusting after a straight man but you're Pierre."

"Not anymore," Perry said moving away from the front door, leaving it open as an invitation for Garrett to follow him into the apartment. Sinking back onto the couch, he picked up his ice cream tub and returned his attention to the television.

"What do you mean you're not Pierre anymore?"

"I quit. Madam Rouge accepted my resignation this morning," he explained as he licked his spoon clean of ice cream.

"Why the hell would you do that?"

"I can't be Pierre; sexual tease; when I'm in a relationship." He responded calmly, his gaze never moving away from the television so Garrett stormed forward and unplugged it.

Standing in front of the television, Garrett pressed his hands against his hips as he stared at Perry who was just staring back – affronted that Garrett would be so brazen to turn his television off. "You're in a relationship?"

"Well I would be if someone found the balls to ask me rather than be a jerk and follow me to my place of work where he then tricks me into seducing him so he could forget about me. That's some real Freudian shit there, Garrett."

Garrett stared at Perry for a few moments, speechless, before he burst out laughing. "It really got to you though, didn't it? The elusive Pierre went cold in a matter of seconds."

Perry glared at Garrett for a few moments before sighing. "So are you going to ask me or what?"

"Nope," Garrett said sitting down on the couch next to Perry, his arm snaking around the smaller man's shoulders as he smiled over at the shocked man. "I think that hickey on your neck explains perfectly well who you belong to without words. I mean, that kind of passion just doesn't happen in books, boy."

Perry just stared at him before grabbing hold of one of his cushions and attempting to batter the other man with it. Garrett just laughed before catching hold of Perry's wrist, the action making the cushion fall to the floor as Perry's lips were pulled down to fall upon Garrett's. With a smile, Perry responded to the kiss as he settled himself onto Garrett's lap and stroked his face. Here was to his next great adventure...


So this is my Secret Santa attempt for my lovely fellow judge, Ciara (leTigre). I didn't quite hit the prompt which was "I fancy some slash. Two guys, one charming and French the other a bookworm. Do with that what you will..." It was a nightmare but I loved writing it. Merry belated Christmas and I miss your face.