Source: Pixabay

Dorian’s new phone

Dorian is the most transcendently beautiful man Max has ever been with, and it still messes with his head. He sometimes finds himself trying too hard, sucking up to Dorian like an aging acolyte, desperate to bask in the pale light of his fair-haired approval. And then, embarrassed, he over-corrects, ignoring Dorian’s texts or turning up half-drunk and forty-five minutes late for dinner.

Max still can’t believe Dorian actually married him. It’s one of the reasons why he, a senior product designer for The Company That Shall Not Be Named, is giving his husband a gift as sleek and flawlessly proportioned as he is: a prototype he likes to call the genius phone. It has a professional-quality photographic aperture that serves as rods and cones for a raw intelligence linked to social media via a sophisticated neural net. In other words, it’s fucking hot.

Max designed it specifically for young professional men in the health and fitness industry. The key product persona — known around the office as Mr. Ten Pack — is a personal trainer with at least 500,000 Instagram followers who lives and dies by his personal brand. Max chuckles as he climbs the stairs to his apartment. Dorian was — and is — his model customer.

He is not surprised to find Dorian pottering around the kitchen, making himself a repulsive concoction of macerated green vegetables, ground flax, and soy protein powder. Dorian pulls out his phone, takes a quick pic, and sends his post-workout smoothie off to his adoring fans on Instagram.

“That looks disgusting,” says Max, hypnotized by Dorian’s tautly muscled torso. He is painfully aware that his own torso is too generously upholstered: the body of a moderately successful engineer.

Dorian’s chiseled face arranges itself into a wry smile Max knows well. Dorian is a practical man. He treats his body like a machine to be assiduously maintained rather than an object of worship. “It’s the price of beauty,” he says, snickering.

Max blinks and snaps out of his abs-induced fugue. “Dorian, I have an early birthday present for you,” he says, holding out a small, tastefully wrapped box.

“Dorian, we’re going to be late!”

“Just a minute.”

“You said that ten minutes ago, and ten minutes before that.”

Max sighs. He and Dorian have dinner plans with Jennifer and Hilary, lesbian architects who want to share children and parenting responsibilities with two sane, solvent, and genetically suitable queer men. It is an intriguing opportunity, and one Max does not want to miss.

He glances at Dorian cocooned into the couch, fingers flying over his new phone. At first, Max was thrilled that Dorian became instantly obsessed with his creation, gazing into its single red eye all day and night. But now Max is unsettled. Dorian hasn’t been to the gym or seen a client for days. His razor-sharp jawline is starting to blur. Max wonders if his husband is sliding into addiction. Dorian once told him that he didn’t drink because he liked it a little too much.

Max’s own phone beeps. Hilary wants to know if they’re still coming to dinner.

“Dorian? Put your phone down. We’ve got to get going.”

Dorian looks up, his face creased and florid. His eyes are puffy and sore-looking under a web of hostile, red veins. “You are always so fucking needy,” he growls. “Can’t you go anywhere alone, without dragging me along as a security blanket?”

Max opens his mouth to say something cruelly cutting and then closes it again. Perhaps he depends too much on Dorian. Perhaps a night out unaccompanied would do him good. Dorian can meet Hilary and Jennifer some other time, when he’s in a better mood.

He swallows a hard lump of uncertainty as he closes the door behind him.

To be continued.

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