The first story in Love Unlocked is The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart. Sal is to make a sculpture alongside the magnificent Matthew Picard. It starts out easy enough but soon we’re in a whirlwind of emotions and chaos. As always in Davis and Steward’s stories the characters are fabulous. I loved it, loved Sal. The title is perfect and I happen to love the cover made by the fabulous Noah Homes.
New job – sexy boss – fate – Art…
When Sal attends an open exam for an apprentice artist to work alongside the infamous Matthew Picard, the last thing he expects is to be the winner. But then his role is revealed and nothing is ever the same again. As he toils day and night on the unique sculpture, strange sensations begin to affect both him and the watching master artist.
Matthew Picard thought he was through with men and love. What he wanted was for Sal to help him create one final monstrous masterpiece – The Trap.
But as he observes his young apprentice, his focus shifts, and so do the very walls of the gallery.
Is it the beauty of art, or something more magical at work?
As the sculpture is created, a power is unlocked.
Can love save them, or will they be trapped forever?
Sal gulped, and stepped forward. Matthew was sitting at a large old-fashioned desk. He raised his eyebrows and indicated the chair. “Please,” he commanded.
Somehow, Sal managed to get across the room and into the chair without falling over, fleeing, or speaking, because he couldn’t do anything except stare.
Long, black hair framed a handsome face and intense dark eyes. “Good morning. I trust my staff dealt with all the necessary…things?” Matthew asked, extending a hairy arm. For a second, Sal thought he was meant to kiss that strong-looking hand, but thankfully his manners took over. He seized it and shook, perhaps a little too vigorously, because Matthew looked surprised.
“Good morning, Mr. Picard,” Sal squeaked, watching Matthew’s hand as it left his. He had touched Matthew Picard!
Matthew’s dark eyes watched him thoughtfully, his mouth turning into the infamous half smile. It transported his face into two halves—one of a chilling smile, the other a stony shell. Sal was unable to look away, thinking both of Dorian Grey and Heathcliff.
“Just Matthew. Remind me. Your name?”
“What do you know of love?” Matthew barked suddenly, leaning forward across the desk, his hair running like water across his face, and Sal thought, That’s it. He’ll see through me for the fraud I am. I’m just a nobody who knows nothing about love or art, moved here to be near this gallery because I’m fucking crazy. He knows about eBay!
But Matthew seemed to require no answer. He stood, sweeping the chair away from him with a flourish, and began striding towards the double doors at the end of the room. “Come,” he called sternly.
Sal scrambled up after him, confused and excited, and trying not to let his eyes linger too long on Matthew’s long legs as he flung open the doors and stalked through.
The next day, Sal tried to work in clothes. Maybe there was still time to save himself. Tears were at the back of his eyes, waiting and ready. Even the sculpture could not lift his spirits, but he doggedly carried on.
He cemented the last of the artefacts into the outsides of the wall, creating patterns and bumps that would be interesting for the viewers to touch. After this, he could paint, and then the outside was finished, the early stages of love complete.
He was aware of Matthew by now as soon as he entered the room. Normally, he would stand and watch for a while before coming to assist, and then to touch. Sal did not feel whole anymore until those hands made contact with his skin.
But today, Matthew tapped him sharply on the shoulder. “Turn,” he ordered in his most frosty voice. Sal almost giggled as he turned defiantly to meet Matthew’s eye.
Matthew said nothing, but calmly began to undress Sal. First the t-shirt: he lifted Sal’s arms, pushing the top up past his body, over his head, and off.
He undid the button to Sal’s jeans while Sal concentrated on breathing, so confused he did not know if he wanted to cry or laugh. His erection popped up as the jeans slid down his hips. Soon he was naked again.
Matthew nodded once as he quietly left the room.
You’ll find The Trap here:
The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Writer’s Lock by Victoria Milne
Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister
The Weekend by J P Walker
The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter
He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd
Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan
You’ll find Love Unlocked here: