Comfort Zone by Kate Pavelle

January 4, 2015

Title: Comfort Zone

Author: Kate Pavelle

Pairing: Atilla and Kai from Wild Horses

Prompt: magic


The filtered and heated air of the theater box was at odds with the gilded carvings and the plush red seat under his butt. Kai stirred. The ballet was in progress. He knew the story – had read up on it just for this occasion, in fact – but he still couldn’t shake off the feeling of being an imposter in such a fancy environment.

Attila was still and composed right next to him, wearing the tuxedo Kai had seen him wear the first time they met. Less than a year ago, but those few months had been packed with events to fill a lifetime.

The theater box seats were more expensive than the ones in the rows of the theater, but Attila didn’t do crowds well and Kai knew that even being here might stress him out past the point of mere discomfort.

Why the hell did he give me theater tickets?

The Christmas gift was a surprise. Kai figured he’d get gloves (work or riding), socks (warm, to fill his muck boots), or some other practical item he needed and they could easily afford. Yet Attila had been appalled at the very thought of such pedestrian gifts.

“We can buy gloves and socks any day,” he said. “But nobody has ever bothered to take you to the theater. I find that inexcusable.”

That’s how they ended up sitting in a plush, private box, watching the Sugar Plum Fairy weave her incredible magic on stage, doing what no real person should be able to do with her body. On her toes, no less.

“She’d make an incredible rider,” Kai whispered as he leaned toward Attila.

“Yes.” He heard the smile in Attila’s voice. Both of them remained focused on the Sugar Plum Fairy and her pirouettes and leaps. “They all would.”

“She’s flexible,” Kai whispered. He recognized the wistful edge in his own voice. Horseback riding left his legs tighter than ever before, and barn chores left him too tired to even think about stretching out the way he and Attila used to do during the summer in the pool.


Colors and music swirled by in a timeless eddy of joy. A red curtain descended over the stage, and the crystal chandelier began to glow, illuminating the elaborate decorations on the domed ceiling of the Benedum Center.

“It’s over?” Kai felt a sharp pang of disappointment. There had been an ephemeral beauty to it, the strains of music and the flow of color and the incredible exertions of the athletes on the stage.

“An intermission,” Attila said in a normal voice. The air began to hum with hushed conversations from the pit below.

Kai leaned over the railing to observe them. “Where are they going?”

“The toilets. There’s a bar with drinks, and there are things to buy. Go, check it out!” Attila flashed him an apologetic look. “I’d rather stay here. The crowds….”

“I know, babe. The crowds.” Kai stood, ready to venture forth on an exploratory mission. “You want anything?”

Attila shrugged. “Maybe something to drink. But if you go to the bathroom, look at the walls of the stalls. They are stone and have fossilized sea creatures embedded in them.” He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Even though he looked composed to the world, Kai figured Attila was going through one of his meditation exercises.

Kai slipped through the small door into the theater hallway. The sound of the crowds milling about assaulted him, and now he knew why Attila got them a private booth. Compared to a horse show, the crowd was unruly and chaotic.

Once he oriented himself, he slipped into the bathroom and checked out the fossils. On the way out, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He paused and turned.

Black tuxedo, white shirt, black bowtie. Red hair plaited into a lush french braid, winter-pale face and extant freckles.

He wondered if that’s what Attila saw when he looked at him. He wondered whatever possessed people to offer him modeling opportunities two months ago. Tibor’s borrowed tuxedo made him look as though he’d been playing Halloween dress-up, but he consented to wearing it for Attila’s sake.

The wooden bathroom door swung open, and Kai turned away from the mirror and its brass scones.

Attila… drink… downstairs.

Kai’s eyes feasted on the statues, mirrors, and lush architectural details he passed on the way down the curved staircase. Two pillars reminded him of soft-serve vanilla ice cream. He plunged into the crowd in the mezzanine, swimming through it toward a small bar at the end. Dressed-up men, women reeking of perfume, and little girls in fancy dresses were just obstacles to navigate. He figured he had just two minutes, maybe three, before the show started again.

He paid for two glasses of champagne with a shot of something red and sweet in it—a lady before him had ordered it, and he figured Attila might like it.

A chime rang and the lights flickered. As though banished by a magic wand, the crowd behind him dissipated and Kai was able to stride across the floor and take the stairs by two, careful not to spill their drinks.

“You still have time, sir. This was just the warning bell.” Kai looked at the older man in an usher’s uniform, nodded, and smiled. He found their booth and slipped in.

Attila was reading something in the glossy program brochure.

“Here, babe.”

Attila met his eyes and smiled. They clinked their glasses as Kai took his seat.

“You got me kir.” Attila sipped with genuine pleasure. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Kai said. He tried to sound nonchalant, but he couldn’t contain himself and leaned over as the lights dimmed and the stage curtain went up. The music began and the stage filled with dancers once more. “Somebody called me ‘sir’ on the way up,” Kai whispered. He paused, stirring in his borrowed tuxedo.

Attila leaned into him, affectionate and close. “Honey, that’s because you are. Get used to it.”


Did you enjoy Kate Pavelle’s story? If so, check out the rest of her books and take 25% off at checkout with the code KatePavelleFlash. Coupon code is good for one order per customer through February 4, 2015.

2 Responses to “Comfort Zone by Kate Pavelle”

  1. Cathy R says:

    I like your excerpt.

  2. Kate Pavelle says:

    Thank you, Cathy! It’s not an excerpt, actually – it’s written to order, so to speak. Kai has some catching up to do! Next, Attila should give him some David Garrett tickets… ;-)

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