Paradigm Shift 23
Author: Harper Kingsley
There was the sense that he was heading toward his execution and he
knew his best course of action was to keep his head down and hope that
he wasn't recognized. It had been a long time. He might get lucky.
The clothes Park had fitted him with were elegant and somehow ADULT,
whereas anything from his old life had the feel of being somehow
juvenile in fashion. The serious clothes he wore granted him a gravity
he'd never experienced before.
Charcoal gray trousers with subtle blue pinstriping and the matching
jacket. A white dress shirt with a solemn blue collar. And a yellow
Gregor had covered his fingers with rings, but he had forgone any
other obvious wealth. It would be a regret if he had to flee back to
poverty, but with the cravat and clothes he wore, anything more would
be horribly gauche. And right now he was battling to appear as though
he fit in.
He let himself be led into the dining room and was glad that Park's
strong back was there to protect him from view. It seemed as though
the entire Family was in attendance, hundreds of members filling the
long tables. They were enjoying the first round of drinks as they
waited for everyone to arrive so the food could be served.
Everyone but the children were here and Gregor was wishing he could
escape to the Nursery to enjoy a quiet meal. There would be a lot less
stress, which would be a relief. The raising of his heartbeat was
increasing the flow of blood, which made him want to squeeze his legs
together on his arousal.
Having an erection in public was the kind of embarrassment he'd
dreaded as a teenager, yet here he was in his twenties. His body still
Gregor followed Park to the head table. There was that moment of
strangeness when Park held his chair out for him, but Gregor was
becoming used to that kind of thing. He was a Third. For the rest of
his life people would be treating him as something precious. It was
what it was.
Zero hadn't arrived yet, which was odd as he'd always been early.
Every time Gregor had come for a meal, Zero had always been there
waiting for him, smiling at him. There had been this uncomfortable
sense of walking into some kind of spider trap.
So to not have Zero be there... The contrary part of Gregor was uneasy.
He'd always liked to know where his friends and enemies were hiding.
Surprise was something he liked to spring on other people.
Gregor lifted his glass of sparkling water and took a sip. There had
been a splash of lime added. He wished there had also been some gin.
"You're frowning," Park observed.
Gregor glanced at him out of the corner of his eye and smoothed his
expression. "I'll try better in the future."
There was a hint of amusement in Park's eyes, though his expression
was as blank as ever. "Don't do anything that causes you too much
pain. I wouldn't want to see your face crack from the false smiles."
"Your worry is astoundingly comforting to me," Gregor said. "I feel
The odd thing was that he did feel better. In some way having Park
near was soothing, and not just because Gregor was desperate to jump
his bones. But because Gregor honestly liked the guy.
It made him worried for the future. There was no way he could stay in
this house with these people. Yet he wanted to keep Dylan Park, never
mind that the man was a Magister, one of the long arms of State Law.