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One Enchanted Evening

by Alexandra Y. Caluen

A later-in-life M/M romance novella about commitment and equality.

Patrick Sarkisian could have been on another ridiculous date on that particular Saturday. Instead he was cheering for his niece at her first adult ballroom competition. Being the Good Uncle, not expecting the evening to be memorable in any way. Then he noticed one of the professional dancers, and things got interesting.

Dmitri Vasko expected to spend the long evening as usual: round after round, out on the floor with his students. Then he heard someone yelling his number, saw the person responsible, and all at once wondered if this was the change he’d almost stopped hoping for.

Their courtship was just long enough to determine that they really did want the same thing: each other. Then they had to figure out how to work around two established careers. How to be together, and how to stay together.

Their partnership was built around change. One thing never changed: commitment to making it work.

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Excerpt:

The next time they met, Dmitri was dancing with his professional partner, performing a round of their four American Smooth routines at the studio where she taught. Patrick was again the perfect spectator, the perfect guest, besieged by suggestions that he should take lessons there. When they finally stood together – delightfully close, because the room was crowded – he turned his back to everyone else and rolled his eyes with such eloquence that Dmitri nearly laughed. Then he was, again, the friendly newcomer who made conversation with such ease that Dmitri said, when they were something close to alone, “You should have been a diplomat.”

Patrick smiled. “I negotiate with the IRS all the time. Do you ever do anything besides work?”

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“I read,” said Dmitri, leading into another round of conversation, one that gave both of them another level of understanding of each other. And it may have been socially acceptable, they may both have included others during that all-too-brief twenty minutes, but the way Patrick looked at him had nothing to do with books. Dmitri actually did follow him out that time, after collecting his gear.

“Can I get some of that for you?” Patrick asked, and because if he handed something off they would have an excuse to walk together to Dmitri’s car, he said yes. But it wasn’t private. It was a small parking lot, brightly lit, and others from the studio were there. Patrick’s glance at Dmitri as he handed back the garment bag spoke of perfect comprehension, and total frustration.

Dmitri, again, nearly laughed. I am falling, he thought. “I regret,” he said softly.

Patrick read his mind. “Okay with it as long as they don’t have to see it, I’m guessing.” Equally soft.

“Mmm.”

“Soon.” That was as much as they could say. To remain standing there gazing at each other any longer would be as blatant as the kiss they both wanted. So Patrick took a step back, sketched a wave, turned and walked away.

Dmitri deposited his gear in the trunk and closed it. By the time he got into the car, there was no-one else in the parking lot. Another opportunity missed. But that look had been almost as good as a kiss.

The next time he met with his partner Natalia, she took him into the office and closed the door. Leaned back against it with her arms crossed, smiling. “You’ve made a friend, Dima.”

Dmitri blinked, wondering if the heat in his face meant he was blushing. “Yes,” he said cautiously.

“I’m delighted, in case you were wondering. You’ve been in L.A. for a while now, and everybody needs a friend.” She eyed him for a second. “He’s a very nice guy. I hear through the grapevine that there are a few students who wish he would sign up. Any interest there?”

“Mmm, I doubt,” Dmitri admitted.

“Oh fine, so he’s only coming to see you.” He made a ‘probably’ face and she laughed. “I promise not to pester you for updates, but I hope it works out.”

“Thank you.”

“Ready for rounds?” He nodded; she opened the door; they went out to run their Smooth routines. That night Dmitri wrote to Patrick again. A reply came immediately. Was the man always online so late?

 

Patrick,

My partner Natalia is now also invested in a happy ending. I thought you would like to know.

Dmitri

 

Dmitri,

My partners are all over me. I told them we haven’t even been on a real date, and to quit asking. Another fair warning: at some point you’ll be introduced to a number of nosy accountants.

Patrick

 

The admission that Dmitri was the topic of conversation between Patrick and his friends, and the assumption that they would be a couple, were both flattering and a bit alarming. Dmitri had never been closeted, but the ballroom profession was a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ environment. Patrick seemed to be saying that the members of his firm would expect to meet his romantic partner. Will we be partners? Dmitri wasn’t even sure what that would mean, but the idea was appealing. He was conscious of wishing he could be certain a warm salutation would be welcome. Because this man was already dear to him.

 

Patrick,

When you say ‘at some point’ I think you mean we have a future. I hope so.

Dmitri

COLLAPSE

About the Author

A long time ago and three thousand miles away, I wrote my first novel - a historical romance - during graduate school. Twenty years later I finally dusted it off and published it. Since then I have written and published many more novels and novellas; all romance, most contemporary. My characters (of various genders and ethnicities) range in age from eighteen to sixty-five, with the average falling in the mid-thirties. I'm inspired by authors like KJ Charles, Laurie R. King, Dick Francis, and Jennifer Crusie. I've lived and worked in Los Angeles since 1995.