Paradigm Shift 11 (ch 4)
There was a knock at the door precisely at nine o'clock. He knew
because he glanced at the wall clock before going to answer.
Park and a tiny woman in a wildly patterned skirt were waiting.
"What's the password?" Gregor asked, then let them in anyway.
"I've brought the tailor, Blessed Tierney," Park said, and Gregor had
to hide a wince at the formal address. Everyone else did it to him,
but Park had always treated him as just another person. He had liked
being able to pretend he was still normal.
"Thank you," Gregor said.
He allowed himself to be arranged by the tailor. She barely spoke to
him, her eyes remaining carefully downcast. It wasn't hard for him to
figure out she was a True Believer, those that were certain the Thirds
had been sent by higher powers and should be worshipped as minor
He didn't feel too awful about not talking to her. True Believers kind
of freaked him out.
He always got this creeping sensation that it was only a matter of
time before he became a skinsuit or something, and he had never even
been the complete focus of all that raw *faith* before. He wasn't
He kept his attention on Park to keep from losing his cool. The man
had control to spare, his face showing nothing but quiet interest as
he watched Gregor be fitted in a tuxedo.
It probably should have been awkward, posed on a stool in his
underclothes while he was measured and various fabrics were held
against him while Park sat on the couch watching. Instead, Gregor was
glad not to be alone with the tailor.
She seemed like she wanted to eat him alive. Something he was very not
He glanced over and saw that Park had pulled out a mini-ePad and was
using a stylus to do something. With his eyes turned down and focused
on his task, Gregor didn't feel an ounce of shame in staring at him.
There was just something fascinating about that hard face, it looked
etched out of granite.
High cheekbones, a straight blade of a nose, deep-set gray eyes, and
surprisingly plump lips. Gregor couldn't help focusing on those
beckoning lips, tracing over the hard line Park held his mouth as,
even as the lower lip insisted on pouting out, refusing to be tamed.
Gregor wondered what those lips would feel like under his own. How
would it be to peel Park out of his neatly tailored suit and press his
mouth against all that hidden skin?
A warm flush went through him and Gregor felt his stomach sink.
Moving subtly, he raised his hand to rest his fingers over the pulse
point at his neck. His heart was racing and he had no doubt that his
temperature was rising. There was a tightening in his groin that he
shifted to try and relieve without ending up with a full erection.
His suppressants were wearing off. He only had a few more days before
he was clawing the walls like a cat in heat, yowling and rubbing
himself off against the furniture.
Gregor forced himself to stand still and ignore the tailor's constant
He was more than his biology. He was.
* * *
After the tailor's visit, Gregor let Park take him for lunch in the
garden. He needed some fresh air and a chance to dump some of his
rising panic before he started screaming and just didn't stop. Plus,
the whole hormone rush thing was making him hungry enough to eat the
fancy ceramic plates and the silverware.
The garden was a beautiful green wonderland of topiaries and statues.
There were benches with spindly metal legs that curled and bent in
fanciful shapes and beckoned for someone to stop and sit a while. The
garden was the perfect place to sit and read a book and enjoy the
In the middle of a ring of brightly colored flowers there was a picnic
table set up with a feast of sandwiches, pasta salad, cut fruit, and
two slices of chocolate cake.
"This is nice," Gregor said, picking up one of the sandwiches and
taking a quick bite. "Oh, this has got to be the best sandwich I've
ever had. To be honest, I've never eaten so well in my life."
Park calmly began to fill the two plates with food, incidentally
giving Gregor the largest portion. "Life in the Family means you will
never have to worry about going hungry."
Gregor sat down, eating a big bite of his sandwich. "I'm not
objecting, but why are you giving me so much food?" He used his fork
to spear a cherry tomato from the salad, popping it between his teeth.
"As a Third, you require a higher number of calories compared to a
male Two of your size," Park said. He was so matter-of-fact about it
that Gregor couldn't even be upset.
"But you're a First," Gregor said. "You should be eating more than me."
A faint smile lifted the corners of Park's lips. "That may be so, but
I was forced to enjoy a breakfast with my grandmother. It was either
eat large or carry on a conversation."
"So you gorged yourself on Gram-Gram's cooking?" Gregor laughed,
picturing blank-faced Park filling his cheeks chipmunk-fashion to
throw off having a conversation with a little old lady.
"It wasn't quite like that." Park sat, spreading his napkin across his
knee. "My grandmother is known as the Dragon of the Duadenora. She has
been known to verbally eviscerate her enemies."
"Now you're making me scared to meet her." Gregor was only half-joking.
"That's smart of you," Park said, taking a bite of pasta. "It's
usually the ones that meet her unprepared that find themselves being
"Honestly, I don't want to be eaten at all," Gregor said, then
couldn't resist adding, "not by an old lady anyway." He winced and
filled his mouth with three big chunks of honeydew melon.
He was that guy that just made a sexual comment about someone's
grandmother. There was a special place waiting for him in hell.