Quality Check: Isalee
First Published on Chaleuria
Three to four platinum studs sat in the younger man’s palm. While the fancier ones had hollowed-out designs, or sparkled with embellishments, Chen Hsin found himself drawn to the least eye-catching of them all: a tiny fish curled up on itself. Upon closer examination, one could see that it had the tip of its tail in its mouth.
A sharp sting shot through Chen Hsin’s ear. Realizing that Zhang Zhun had pulled out his stud, Chen Hsin handed the tiny fish to the older man. Then, a sudden heat enveloped his earlobe – and it took his throbbing nerves several moments to register the source of his pain as Zhang Zhun’s moist, warm mouth.
Cradling the lobe between his lips, Zhang Zhun began lapping at the aching flesh; like the swishing fin on a fish, the tip of his tongue teased at the tender nub with flick after flick. Chen Hsin swallowed, and lifted his arms to encircle the straight, lean waist before him. His breathing quickened, his muscles trembled, and his hold tightened unconsciously until the man in his arms, too, was short of breath. Panting a little, Zhang Zhun touched Chen Hsin’s face, brushing his fingers across the brow bone, the bridge of his nose, the philtrum… Chen Hsin caught those fluttering tips with a single bite, and drew them hard into his mouth like a starving, suckling babe.
Goodbye my almost lover, goodbye my hopeless dream…
Chen Hsin ignored the call, but Zhang Zhun paused and bent himself over the younger man with tender, affectionate eyes. He watched Chen Hsin swallow around his middle and index fingers, and felt him lave the gaps at the base of those digits with heated strokes of his tongue. Zhang Zhun was now little more than a lotus pod ripe for the plucking. A glisten came into his eyes, and he started to pull his hand away from Chen Hsin’s mouth.
I’m trying not to think about you, can’t you just let me be…
“Go on,” Zhang Zhun muttered, “answer your phone.” At this, Chen Hsin finally took out his mobile. He turned on the speakerphone instead of picking up the call directly, and Feng Yunting’s voice rang out in the room: “Honey, turn on the TV. Southern Entertainment.”
Chen Hsin caught Zhang Zhun’s hand, unwilling to let it go, and nibbled at the soft underside of his fingertips as if he could never have enough of the man. Meanwhile, Zhang Zhun got up with a swing of his leg, picked up the remote control, and turned on the TV. Images flickered and shuddered as he sped from channel to channel with rapid clicks, until Feng Yunting’s face appeared at last on the screen.
The young woman’s styling was impeccable: her makeup was exquisite, and her outfit was put together with just as much meticulous care. In the sea of camera flashes, she looked dazzling and resplendent. “Chen Hsin and I have never considered marriage,” Feng Yunting said. “As of now, the police have already begun their investigation into the false rumors on Weibo.”
The reporters remained unconvinced. Dissatisfied with her answer, they continued to bombard Feng Yunting with their loaded, aggressive questions. “This is a rather one-sided account, isn’t it? Does Chen-laoshi share the same view?”
Instead of answering at once, Feng Yunting responded with a meaningful pause and allowed the silence to grow heavy with implication. Then, once she was certain that she had left enough room to the imagination, she took a deep breath and broke the moment of suspense. “The truth is…” she replied, looking rather resigned, “Chen Hsin and I have decided to break up.”
This was truly explosive news. Even the viewer on the other side of the screen could feel the palpable tension on site. Camera flashes became frantic, and reporters scrambled to thrust their mics towards the young actress. Despite the mounting pressure all around her, Feng Yunting kept up her natural acting with ease. “The fake news really got us thinking – about us, about our relationship – and we both need some quiet time to ourselves.”
Immediately, someone shot back at her from the crowd, “Can you tell us whose idea it was, Miss Feng?”
It was a very incisive question; after giving it a quick thought, Feng Yunting answered, “It was my idea. He agreed after I brought it up.” There was a certain self-possession about her, a certain poise that allowed her to retain control over the situation despite her youth. “Perhaps there are many people out there who are convinced that we have an unequal relationship, and I’m the one who’s at a disadvantage. When they hear about the breakup, they’ll see me as a victim and assumed that I’ve been toyed with. I’d like to use this opportunity to say that Chen Hsin and I were just another ordinary couple. We simply fell in love. There was no transaction between us, and there were no sordid secrets to mar our relationship. He is someone who is worthy of respect. It is my sincere wish that the media will take our decision as it is, and treat it with the dignity it deserves.”
“But Miss Feng, it’s only been days since your relationship became official! Besides, even though you claim that there are no transactions, sources say that you’ve just signed off on a luxury car endorsement deal. What do you…?” Although the reporters refused to let up, Feng Yunting declined to answer any further questions. As she took her leave, escorted by staffers, a news ticker appeared at the bottom of the screen, and a voiceover concluded the footage: “Proudly brought to you by Southern Entertainment.”
Zhang Zhun turned off the TV and tossed the remote aside, his face unmarked by any expression out of the ordinary. Yet, Chen Hsin sensed a subtle change in the man that was straddling his body once more: Zhang Zhun felt a little softer than he had been moments ago, and also more heated, with a hint of intimacy on his breath. Chen Hsin passed the tiny fish to Zhang Zhun again, and a fierce pain stabbed through his left ear in the very next instant. He looked up, sweet words on his tongue, but Zhang Zhun swooped in before he could speak and sealed his lips with a kiss.
It was a most passionate kiss, a kiss without reservation. Desire, raw and sexual, consumed Zhang Zhun and made him frantic. Thighs clamping around Chen Hsin’s body, fingers kneading at his thick curls, Zhang Zhun pulled back the man’s head to devour that mouth with feverish, urgent need. The remaining ear studs clattered to the floor. In a heartbeat, Chen Hsin placed his hands over Zhang Zhun’s shoulder blades, which jutted from his back as his body writhed with effort.
As the bony planes rose and fell in Chen Hsin’s grasp – at times tame and subdued, at times wild and unruly – the lust for conquest sparked into life within him. He wanted to grab Zhang Zhun by the ass and throw him down in bed, but Zhang Zhun beat him to it yet again: swaying a little in Chen Hsin’s grasp like the ripened lotus pod that he was, Zhang Zhun fell away as if he had been broken in the middle, and dropped into the depths of their sea-like bed. Then, before Chen Hsin could react, Zhang Zhun grabbed his collar, yanked the younger man on top of himself, and looked up with fiery impatience in his eyes.
Stunned, the younger man propped himself up and met Zhang Zhun’s eyes in a daze. Reddened lids aflutter, Zhang Zhun murmured into the air between them, “Didn’t you say that you wanted to be on top…?”
Chen Hsin could not believe how forward Zhang Zhun was. Nor could he believe just how much Zhang Zhun was willing to give in to him. They were both men after all, and which man would ever submit himself to another in this manner? He could not help but take it as a measure of Zhang Zhun’s love for him. “Aren’t you… indulging me too much?”
Zhang Zhun peered at Chen Hsin with a most attentive gaze, tender with affection. Yet, as if to conceal the shame he felt, the older man answered with a muffled retort, “Do you want to do it or not? Get off if you don’t.”
Chen Hsin needed no further prompting; he began undoing Zhang Zhun’s trousers at once. Somewhat nervous, Zhang Zhun stared at his own lower body with unease. When his pants and underwear were stripped away from him, he looked away again and bit his lips. Chen Hsin noticed; he knew that the man was afraid. Even as his hands continued removing Zhang Zhun’s clothes with impatience, his mind became filled with memories of everything they had been through together. From their first fleeting kiss at the screen test, to the debauched days of their cohabitation, and the punch in the bathroom… They ‘made love’ without restraint before the camera, and shared the most cautious of kisses in darkened corners where the light would never reach. So fiercely were they burning with their feelings, and yet the world saw not a single spark of the scorching fire they felt for each other…
Chen Hsin’s movements came to an abrupt stop. He released his grasp, panting. Incomprehension swam in Zhang Zhun’s eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked, confused.
“Will you beat me to a pulp,” Chen Hsin pressed a hand to his own forehead, “if I say that I don’t want to do it now?”
Stung and hurt by the question, Zhang Zhun tugged down his shirt to conceal his hardened nipples. “Why…?”
“I want to go back.”
The answer took Zhang Zhun by surprise; he had not expected such a reply, and found it difficult to make sense of Chen Hsin’s words. “To the hotel?” His hands covered the slight erection between his thighs in an attempt to make himself look less pathetic. “What for?”
“I want to speak up.” Chen Hsin met Zhang Zhun’s eyes with a calm, resolute gaze. “There are some things that ought to come from me, and there are some words that I need to say for myself.”
Zhang Zhun seemed to understand him at last. “Let it go,” the older man replied instead. “In our line of work, there’s no point taking things too seriously.”
But Chen Hsin remained unswayed. “Go to bed first and wait for me. I’ll be back.”
Zhang Zhun sat up, watching in a daze as Chen Hsin got out of the bed to put on his shades and mask. “You don’t have to be so good to me,” he blurted out all of a sudden.
Chen Hsin’s hand paused on the door handle at the sound of the outburst. Then, he turned around and showed off the left side of his face. “Pretty cool, huh?” The tiny fish stud glinted in the light. “Wait till you see me on TV in a bit. That’s how cool I really am.”
Although these two are interrupted yet again, I promise they will be able to get some very soon. In a couple of chapters’ time, in fact. I’m eyeing the chapters with equal parts anticipation and fear.
On a more serious note, I would also like to apologise for the somewhat irregular updates since I came back from the hiatus. Life and health continue to get in the way, so please forgive me if I struggle to keep to schedule. Thank you for your understanding!