Tags: #romance, #erotica, #valentines day
Copyright 2011 to Anne Holly
No part of this work can be copied without
the authors permission.
Published By: Wicked Nights
What could one say about Daniel Vouks? He
always felt he was a tiger trapped in a nerd’s body. But, sadly,
the tiger was very well hidden.
Tall and lean, having grown too much
vertically before his wiry frame could fill out horizontally, he
carried very little excess weight. What was there wasn’t bad, he
would often reassure himself, sneaking guilty peeks at himself in
the tacky 1980s white-framed full length mirror nailed to the
inside of the door in his childhood bedroom. He was pleased to
notice the hours of practice he was putting in were actually
sprouting some newbie biceps and pecks and he was starting to lose
that “chicken chest” look. After considering this, he would usually
laugh at himself with embarrassment. His one man Mr. Universe
competition in front of the mirror took on a comedic air of
ridiculousness, in his white boxers and black socks, against the
backdrop of the cowboy wallpaper that hadn’t been changed since he
Daniel hoped he wasn’t
hideous to females. Secretly, aside from his aspirations in school
and with his music, his dream of being something less than
offensive to the opposite sex was his main goal. He didn’t think he
was bag-over-the-head homely (though he did worry about those ears
that everyone always told him he’d grow into, and that chin). He
had always wanted a lantern jaw, but admitted in defeat his was
more like a desk lamp jaw – something much less rugged and
outdoorsy than a lantern, that’s for sure. Other than those two
weak spots, he did show potential. His body’s leanness translated
into artistic intensity in his face, with his light olive skin tone
and large, deep set, black and heavily lashed eyes with prominent
brows. A thick growth of short curly hair that he was never able to
tame and a timeless pair of wire framed glasses topped it all off.
Forget about Redford, he sighed; he looked more like an extra from
a small town production of
Fiddler on the
. Great teeth, though, he decided,
ending on a positive note. And they should be, the money his
parents had put into them.
“Ssssssssssexay!” he hissed with a
self-depreciating grin and wink, having done as much as he could
with his wayward pelt, and threw on his cords and a sweater.
Somewhere between Franz Kafka and Harry Potter, he guessed he
wasn’t likely to cause mass hysteria amongst the fairer sex, but
there was always tomorrow.
Hunching down to avoid braining himself on
the slanted ceiling, he slipped on his shoes. Only in the peculiar
logic of his family would the tallest member naturally occupy the
attic room, making him live a good portion of his life slouched
Living at home during university had been a
very wise financial move, he had to acknowledge, but at the cost of
other things – especially his sanity and a social life. He’d
survived nineteen years as an inmate in his mother’s funny farm so
far. Two and a half years left, he sighed. By the end, he would
either be brilliantly eccentric or entirely crazy and eating his
food with blunt utensils only. Either way, at least he wouldn’t
have any student debt.
“Mornin’, Dad,” Daniel greeted his father,
an older, shorter and fatter version of himself who was hardly ever
seen without being partially obscured by his omnipresent newspaper.
As every day, he received the typical non-angry, yet not
overly-friendly, “Hurumpf,” in response and he continued on to the
fridge. Orange juice and an English muffin. Just like every
“Hello, Danny, sweetie,” his mom, already
dressed to teach music at the local junior high in her constant
uniform of pin-neat A-line skirt, blouse and fuzzy, pastel
cardigan. Whether an effect of spending nearly twenty years
blocking out very bad clarinet solos performed by 13-year-olds or
from some natural propensity towards absent-mindedness, Daniel’s
mother Judith was in a world where time didn’t seem to pass and bad
things just didn’t happen. She was an odd replica of her own
mother, who would never really see beyond her stable job and home,
with her two children (exactly planned right down to one boy and
one girl) who would always remain perfect in her eyes, and her
fattened, content husband. As far as Daniel could see, the only
hobbies his mother ever had was knitting in the evening and
teaching piano on the weekends to “pay for her perms,” as she
explained it. She placed a kiss on Daniel’s forehead, for which she
had to stand on tiptoes and he had to bend down. It was an old
morning ritual, always followed by a request for an update on his
life, which mostly consisted of his studies and practice, and this
morning she didn’t disappoint.
“How’s your work coming for your sophomore
recital?” she asked, cutting a heart-smart grapefruit in two for
his father, who hated grapefruit.
“As usual,” Daniel sighed. “Brahms’ Third is
coming long fine, but the tango medley is kicking my butt.”
“Well,” his mother chuckled with a shrug,
“keep practicing, and I am sure you’ll do just fine – you always
do. Besides, who cares about the tango if the Brahms is
Typical of his mother, who was a devotee of
the Western canon, she almost always dismissed the less glorified
selections as fluff compared to the giants of Brahms, Mozart and
Beethoven. Wagner and Schubert were fine, if over-emotional.
Tangos, however, were just exercises. However, Daniel couldn’t
afford to be blasé about any assignment. This was Leon Pelsner’s
senior year, which meant the place of first violinist would be
open, and Daniel could feel Daisy Chen’s smug security that she
would ascend to the position. A junior, it would be the crowning
achievement of her already brilliant young career, and she, quite
rightly, assumed sophomores would rank lower on the list. Daniel
was gunning to deflate some of that smugness and knock her off the
podium. Without conceit, he knew that, aside from Leon, Daisy and
himself were widely recognized as the best violin students in the
music department – and now was the time for him to set himself as
first or second in that ranking. And ignoring the “less important”
pieces was not the way to achieve first chair.
His mother was right, of course – he would
do fine. Technically, his tango medley was already proficient
enough for a basic pass at the April recital, the performance that
would top off his second year. He knew it would be enough to
safeguard his scholarship, since his Brahms was perfect. But, as Dr
Spicer, his instructor, kept telling him, technically proficient
was hardly enough to nail something as personal as a tango.
Though proud and supportive of his musical
talents, his mother would never fully understand his drive for
performance. Under her direction, Daniel had focused a lot of his
schooling on music education, thus far, and had allowed his mother
to happily envision him as a high school band leader in a few
years. What she didn’t know was, if he were successful in achieving
first chair, he would step off the safety ledge and declare himself
a performance major – he would finally go after the spotlight,
whether his parents thought it “wise” or not.
But, that tango… Damn it, if that tango
wasn’t killing him slowly this term.
“Mom,” his little sister Beth’s whine made
him cringe. “Are you sure there’s school today?” Thirteen and
completely unconcerned with anything but clothes and her social
circle, Beth not only missed the musical talent gene, but, also,
seemingly, the gene that promoted any kind of sensitivity yet
possessed by humans. “Like, there is a lot of snow out there!” Her
whine clearly indicated she thought it absolutely unfair that she
wasn’t in charge of canceling school due to snow.
“Beth,” Daniel sighed, “this is Denver – if
they canceled school every time it snowed, they’d have to give
classes over the radio.”
“Bite me, Genius,” she hissed with narrowed
eyes while pouring herself some disgustingly bright colored
teenager chow that claimed to be cereal but seemed to consist only
“Rather not,” he shook his head and turned
towards the window.
“So, Kirk wants to go eat before the
Valentine’s dance,” Beth primped, proud of herself for already
landing herself a fine jock boyfriend. “And Kayley’s mom said it
would be alright if Maddi and I spent the whole weekend over there,
since you and Dad will be away for your Second Honeymoon.”
The teen snickered, and Daniel couldn’t help
but smile behind his glass. The thought of his bus driver dad and
teacher mom going off for some Valentine’s Day weekend getaway
after twenty-odd years of marriage seemed so unlike them it was
difficult to hold the amusement at bay.
“Now, Bethy,” his mother
chimed in, using that “
I’m only doing
what’s best for you
” voice, “you know I
already arranged for you to stay with Aunt Sissy. She’s expecting
you, and your cousin Jason is already looking forward to seeing
“But, Mother!” Beth
protested, putting an extra dig at the end of the officious term.
“Why would I want to spend Valentine’s Day weekend with
?” She cut her
mother’s next line off. “He picks his nose… and eats it,” she
shuddered in deadly seriousness, as if she could imagine no worse
crime in the world.
“Daniel…” his mother turned to him after a
“She’s right,” he said. “Cousin Jason is a
chronic nose picker.”
His mother gave him that stern look that
said she didn’t appreciate his contribution to the conversation.
“Then, perhaps you’d like to help your sister out…”
Daniel’s half smile died on his lips.
“If she doesn’t want to stay with Sissy,
then maybe she should stay here.”
“No, Mom,” Daniel resisted the urge to
plead. “You really don’t want to do that… I mean, I’m nineteen. Am
I really responsible enough to babysit a thirteen-year-old?”
“I don’t need a baby sitter,” his sister
“Besides…” he continued, wracking his brain
for an excuse his mother would accept. “I likely won’t be around
much this weekend.”
“Pfft!” his sister snorted. “Hot date,
“Well, we can’t all make it all the way
around the block before the age of fourteen,” he said in a
mockingly pleasant tone.