Virgin Skin (Original version)

Length: Short story
Rating: PG-13 (swearing, allusion to sex)
Tags: one-shot, manxman, gay, romance, tattoos, piercings, alpha, library, soulmates

When Custo, with his full body tats and intimidating piercings, meets Micha, he is intrigued by this silent stranger with the inkless skin. But attraction turns to something deeper when he realizes that he held the key to set Micha free, even if Micha wants nothing to do with him.

Originally published on Wattpad, 19 Aug. 2012

Note: I recommend that you read this on Wattpad via the Wattpad app for a much better experience. That way you can add it to your library, comment as you go, vote, share, and page through it like a real ebook. Enjoy!

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This is the original short story I posted on Wattpad before I expanded it into a 3-book series for publication. Roughly the first 75% of this story is the same as the published book "Virgin Skin (book 1 of Eternal Soulmates)". See Author Note at the end for detail.

Micha’s POV

The heavy library doors creaked noisily as I pushed them open and stepped into the heavy silence. It was soothing, welcoming, and I wrapped it around me like a protective blanket, the way I did every morning, before making my way to the counter and the chaos of unsorted books.

As usual I was the only living soul in these vast halls this time of the morning, surrounded only by words on yellowing paper and drifting dust particles.

The wheels of the cart squeaked rhythmically down the familiar aisle as I began my daily routine. I counted down the alphabet: P. Q. R. Ro, Ru, Rus, then paused to push the large volume into its rightful place between Rus and Rut.

I continued on my quest for order, making my way to the next row, then on to the next. I feel a special connection with books, with the way they contain knowledge and communicate it to hundreds of people without ever uttering a sound.

Just like me.

Ever since the accident, I haven't been able to speak. I only took this job because I wanted to hide from the world, but instead I discovered a whole new world right here, one that lived, somewhat forgotten, in silence.

Just like me.

All these books were filled with knowledge and dreams and stories, bound between leather covers and shelved among thousands of other voices, all waiting to be heard. All it would take is for one person to pick it up and read it.

I've been waiting for my own miracle, that moment when something or someone would crack open the covers to my darkness so the words could spill out. Oh, to be heard again! I always took it for granted; I never knew how lonely it could be, living in silence.

It's been over a year now, and I'm slowly starting to accept that I may never speak again.

As I placed another heavy book in its rightful place I heard the dull thud of the library doors closing. It would seem like the librarian, grumpy Mrs. Somerville, was early today.

My hand was halfway towards the shelf when a raspy male voice suddenly spoke behind me.

“Hey you!”

Custo’s POV

The moment I called out, the guy in front of me went rigid. The book in his hand slipped and landed splayed out on the floor. He stared at it in horror for the longest time, like it was the dead body of his best friend, before he looked up at me with wide, scared eyes, like I was the murderer and he was my next victim.

We both reached for the book at the same time, but he yanked it from my hands roughly and with a trembling finger, searched for its position between two other books before trying to jam it into the tight space a few times, shaking uncontrollably.

I grabbed the book and slid it in, feeling sorry for the poor kid. He seemed scared to death, and it was probably my fault for sneaking up on him. I knew I didn’t look like the most harmless guy in the world, with my tats and piercings, but this is a public library and I had every right to be here.

He stood frozen with his hand trapped between mine and the leather spine. His unmarked skin looked so naked next to mine. As I dropped my hand I looked at him again as the realisation struck me, but he suddenly pushed away and started to run down the aisle like a startled fawn.

I guess I’ll just have to find that book myself then.

Micha’s POV

I could hear that scary guy move around in the Computer and Technology section. I hugged my knees to my chest, still trembling, but at least I was safe behind Renaissance Art.

Was he a thief? A murderer? A rapist? I’ve never been this terrified in my life. I leaned forward, trying to regain my breath, when I heard the thud of the door echo through the enormous building for the second time today.

The familiar sound of old Mrs. Somerville’s coughing filled the library, and I could hear her slowly moving in his direction.

Uh-oh. I may not like Mrs. Somerville, but she did not deserve to die a premature death at the hands of that… that librarian killer. Although the woman probably didn’t have long to live, since she was older than this building, and this building had existed long before the dinosaurs roamed the planet. At least, that’s my theory.

I heard her voice rise in a question, then a deeper, husky voice answered something indiscernible, and I wished that I could call out to warn her but that was impossible, so I scampered out of my hiding place and ran as fast as I could, the sound of my pounding sneakers echoing down the rows of books.

I rounded the corner then skidded to a halt when she turned sharply towards me, her small glasses flying off her nose.

“You know better than to run in my library, young man!”

Huh. She was obviously fine. That other guy was teetering under a heavy pile of books as she placed yet another in his arms. He looked overwhelmed and a little intimidated—not scary at all. I grinned. That woman was the reason librarians had such a terrifying reputation; she’s like the ultimate Librarian Urban Legend.

My happy moment evaporated when I noticed the guy checking me out. I edged backwards slowly, but just as I was about to make a clean getaway, Mrs. Somerville pointed a bony finger at a book on the highest shelf.

“Micha, be a good boy and take down that one, at the top there.”

I appraised the guy wearily. He was weighed down with books and to be honest, I was more scared of Mrs. Somerville anyway, so I grabbed the small footstool—fumbling a bit due to shaky hands—and reached for the top shelf.

Custo’s POV

I couldn’t stop staring at him. I haven’t seen one of those up close in a long time.

He was a virgin.

No, not as in, ‘never had sex’, you pervert. I mean someone with virgin skin. No ink, no mods—still untouched like the day he was born.

It was peculiar. And strangely attractive, like he was a blank canvas just waiting to be covered.

He reached up for a book on the highest shelf and his shirt rode up, revealing more smooth, clear skin that looked like he always hid it away from the world. Wow. It was a real turn on.

That old crow patted me on the back and said that I had enough books and that it was time to check them out. I would much rather check a certain someone out. But he had disappeared, so I followed her to the front counter instead.

To my delight Micha was there, stacking books on a trolley. The librarian instructed him to help me get a library card before she left us alone.

He pushed a few forms towards me, scanned my books, then disappeared into a back room.

This whole time he never said a single word.

I left with a ton of books under my arms and no final glimpse of him, and that made me feel… cheated.

Suddenly I had the most curious urge to visit the library more often.

Micha’s POV

I watched him leave from the safety of the back room and sighed in relief.

He scared me.

There was no rational reason why, it’s not like he did or said anything scary.

He was just so different from anyone I’ve ever encountered. He had a menacing air about him, although it could just be those silver studs poking out of weird places all over his face, or the swirls of colour and lines that weaved across his arms and neck that made him look scary.

He obviously liked books, something that counted a lot of points with me, and he seemed to have Mrs. Somerville’s approval, which actually meant something since she could smell a criminal a mile away.

Come to think of it, those bold patterns that adorned his body were oddly beautiful, in a weird, nonconformist kind of way.

I wondered if he had piercings in any… other places? I cringed a little and decided to forget about him. At least he won’t be back for a while, since his books were only due in a couple of weeks.

Mrs. Somerville cleared her throat behind me, making me jump.

“I am a little disappointed in you, young man. You should know by now not to judge a book by its cover.”

Did I mention that she can read minds as well? Mrs. Somerville was definitely more scary than that Custodio guy (that's the name he filled out for his library card).

She walked out, but turned around in the doorway and peered at me over those ridiculous spectacles.

“You’d be wise to remember that, Micha.”

* * *

The next morning I unlocked the library doors as always, but just then a tattooed arm reached past me and pushed them open for me.

I didn’t have to look up to know who it was.

I slipped inside as fast as I could and speed-walked to the counter. Not that I thought that would accomplish anything, I was just too nervous to think of anything else to do.

He kept up with me easily and plonked three books down on the counter.

“I’d like to take out some books about computer programs and shit,” he said with a cheeky grin. I looked down at the books he brought back so I wouldn’t stare at his snakebites that contorted distractingly.

Yesterday he took out eight books, the maximum number of books allowed, all of them on computer technology. There’s no way he could have finished these yet.

“Yup, finished them last night,” he said smugly, popping the P, like he could read my mind. I frowned at him, but decided it didn’t matter whether he was lying or not. I gathered them up and put them on the trolley, then walked towards the Computer section. It took him a moment before he sprinted after me.

I pointed to where the books on programming started.

“What would you recommend? I’m kinda new to this whole thing,” he said with a small laugh. I just shrugged; it’s not like I knew anything about programming anyway. He turned back to the shelf and I took the opportunity to study him.

The black lines running across his light skin reminded me of something. The more I looked at the ink, the more it called out to me. It was in a tongue that was strangely familiar, bewitching me with cascading phonemes and tumbling consonants.

It reminded me of the ink on a page that formed letters that blended into words, that became powerful stories.

“Not a talkative fellow, are you?” he said conversationally as he continued pulling books out, then pushing them back. He didn't say anything else and I slowly started to relax, when suddenly, "I think I like that about you," he decided. "No stupid questions, no irritating smalltalk, just… silence.” He stopped and closed his eyes, like he was actually soaking up the silence.

I just stared at him, unable to look away.

Standing like that, with his eyes closed and his head tilted back, he was a warrior effigy, his magnificent sigils proclaiming strength and power in bold lines across his body, like a powerful voice that boomed across barriers of language or space, straight into my soul. My hand rose slowly, pulled towards those ebony strokes, longing to trace them across his smooth skin like they held the key to unlock my own cage of silence.

“Where I come from,” he said unexpectedly, making my hand drop to my side like a stone as he broke the spell, “there’s always noise. People yapping, neighbors banging, babies screaming…” He trailed off, then opened his eyes. “I like this place. It’s peaceful, like a church.”

My awe turned into disbelief. Like a church? This place was nothing like a church! Here, the words of great minds across centuries came together in an immeasurable wealth of wisdom and knowledge. This silence wasn’t the absence of noise, it was an amplifier that made it possible to hear despite the noise!

Suddenly he didn’t look like a warrior, or anything special for that matter. He was just some punk who could have gone to any one of the hundred churches in the city but instead came to the library. My library. What was he doing here, polluting my silence with his screaming symbols?

He said something else but his words got lost in the vast expanse between where he stood and where I slipped into the dark aisles of Poetry.

Fuck him and his stupid tattoos.

Custo’s POV

“Hey, come back!” I yelled as he disappeared a few rows down between two large bookcases. I shoved the book back roughly in a fit of frustration.

I blew it. I was trying to connect with him, but instead I pissed him off.

Maybe I should just leave the books and go home, but my stubborn side had me walking down the passage instead, looking for him, the boy with the virgin skin who haunted my dreams last night.

It was vividly etched into my mind. I haven’t dreamed in a very long time, but this dream was different.

I was floating through a large house in the way that one sometimes does in dreams. The house was unfamiliar and yet I knew exactly where to go as I entered an empty room where a few rays of light streamed in through dusty windows. In the centre stood an angel with his back to me. His upper body was naked, and his beautiful, unmarked skin glowed softly in the light. Huge feathered wings were folded tightly against his back. When he turned I saw his face: it was Micha, but he looked wrong, his face contorted as if he was in great pain. His wings started to unfold but they were bound in large chains with a heavy lock that made him hunch down under the weight. He reached out to me and opened his mouth, but nothing came out, not a sound, not even when he started to scream and scream and scream.

Then I woke up.

I wasn’t easily shaken, but that dream…

My footsteps echoed loudly throughout the library as I walked down yet another aisle. This place was feeling more and more like a mausoleum.

Then I saw him, a small white speck at the end of the row. He sat in a lone ray of light that streamed through the ceiling, dust particles drifting lazily around his bent form.

When he looked up I stopped in shock. There was the angel of my dreams, the same dark eyes, the same sad face. He glowed eerily in the single shaft of light, a beacon in the darkness. For a moment I even saw his shackled wings stretched high above his head.

Then they were gone, and all I saw was a lonely, angry boy staring up at me, clutching a huge book against his chest like a shield.

I blinked a few times just to clear my head. That was too bizarre, even for me. I opened my mouth to say something, but the words got stuck in my throat as I looked into his eyes.

He’d been crying.

We stared at each other for a long time. Then his eyes flitted to my arm and I thought he was looking at the books that I was holding, but no, he was looking at my tats.

“Do you know what these mean?” I finally asked in a hushed voice, afraid to break the fragile silence.

He looked at me with sorrow filled eyes, then slowly shook his head no.

“This one,” I pointed at the thick black lines that ran up the side of my arm and disappeared underneath my sleeve, “this one symbolises wisdom and true vision, good health and harmony. And see here?” I traced a set of interlaced lines around my bicep. “This is for wealth and success, but also hope and happiness. And this one is my favourite.” I lowered myself onto my haunches next to him and traced my fingers over the sharp angles of the third rune. “This one symbolises the thunder god Thor. He’s all about sex and power.”

Micha’s eyes followed my fingers hypnotically across my arm.

The next moment his fingers brushed across my tattoos as he traced those black highways like I did. His fingers dancing across my skin and sparked a deep recognition, like an ancient connection between our souls.

He didn’t seem to notice the way my breathing hitched then sped up, or that I stopped talking altogether, unable to think past the heated strokes his fingers painted across my skin. His face had a glow to it that was breathtakingly beautiful, ethereal, and I just stared and stared while he shattered my defences.

When he finally looked up, his dark eyes shone like the morning sun and my hands instinctively reached for the sharpie I always kept in my back pocket.

“May I?”

He nodded hesitantly.

I gently pulled his sleeve away from his upper arm and drew what I saw in his eyes with painstaking care: a cross, with two vertical lines that connected the sides, then a careful zig-zag of three lines that bordered the first. On impulse I added a staff with outstretched arms that connected them, because it felt important to add that, like it wouldn’t be complete without a piece of myself.

This whole time he was quiet. I was painfully aware of his closeness, that if I turned my head, his lips would be close enough to brush against mine. So instead I focused on his upper arm where there were now thick inky strokes cutting across his previously untouched skin: an elegant arrangement of lines that formed a bold proclamation. It may not be a permanent tattoo, but it was very real.

I am taking his virginity.

That seemed significant somehow.

Micha’s POV

With every line I could feel him slash through the heavy veil that has kept a corner of my mind in darkness for so long.

“This one represents the Sun,” he said absentmindedly as he made a careful stroke. “It is a life-force of healing and power and cleansing flames. And this is the Dawn. You know, like, a new beginning. It holds hope and breakthrough, and the power of change, and…”

He trailed off, but the felt-tip kept pressing against my skin, its ink flowing, leaving black stains on white parchment. Every stroke added to the previous until my arm was covered with a bold design that shouted in a thunderous voice, shattering the heavy chains that shackled me.

I looked up as he capped the marker and shoved it back in his pocket.

I haven’t talked for so long that I suddenly didn’t know how. But I knew, I just knew that if I wanted to, I could.

He has given me my miracle. He was a warrior after all; he has set me free.

I didn’t know how to thank him though, words were still too new for me.

He rubbed over his face, suddenly self-conscious. “I- I guess I didn’t think this through properl-”

I leaned forward and put my lips on his, firmly, softly, ignoring the strange feel of his lip rings as I let my gratitude flow through me, showing him what I couldn’t say out loud.

He was caught off guard for a moment, but then he shifted and leaned into me, moving his lips gently against mine. His hand slowly snaked around my neck, pulling me closer as he deepened the kiss.

His tongue flicked out against my lips, and I pulled back in surprise at the foreign object that poked my lips.

A tongue piercing. I should have known.

He stared at me with wide eyes. But there were no questions in them, no uncertainty or doubt. Only wonder, like he saw straight into me — I was an open book and he was reading my story.

A smile ghosted my lips as the last of the bonds fell away. Something I haven’t felt in a very long time broke loose and tumbled through the dark tunnels of oblivion into the light. Beautiful sounds of freedom.

“Thank you.”

Custo's POV

Two small words, barely audible, yet they changed everything.

Gone was the sadness, the pain, and I could only stare in wonder as he gave me the most peaceful, radiating smile that lit up his whole being.

But it was the look in his eyes that took my breath away. They burned with fire and passion; they've become the blazing sun itself, and when he reached out and took my hand, that fire spread through me and seared a path straight into my heart.

I brushed some hair from his face and he leaned into my hand like he needed to feel me as much as I needed to touch him.

So I kissed him again, and this time he willingly let me take the lead as I sank into his body and lost myself in him.

Micha's POV

He kissed me like I've never been kissed before. Everything faded away; there were only his hands and his lips and his tongue fuelling the fire that raged through my body.

This time I didn't hesitate when his tongue probed my mouth and I let myself be swept away in his urgency as he explored every crevice and surface of my body.

My hands trailed down his arms and over his hips as I arched into him, echoing his need. His probing tongue stilled as he moaned erotically and hugged me tightly against him, eliciting an unexpected verbal response from me.

The sound of my voice and the unfamiliar way it vibrated through my throat was so unexpected that I stopped in wonder. His whole body tensed, and after a moment's hesitation, he slowly rolled off me.

"I'm sorry, I– I'm so sorry," he stammered, clearly mortified.

I started to say that it's all right, that he did nothing wrong, but my mind was still caught in its old habits of silence and nothing came out. I tried in a flurry of panic to remember how to form sounds, how to shape the words.

He misunderstood my panic and before I could stop him he was gone.

Custo's POV

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I berated myself all the way to the door. Why do I do things like this? I've always been impulsive, but when we kissed I felt something so... so primal, so real, that I went with my instincts. I've gone too far this time.


I stopped dead as the word echoed around and around the hollow interior.

Wait! Wait. wait. wait...

Even the building seemed to insist that I stay.

Micha came running through the bookshelves and I barely had time to brace myself before he flung himself at me and held on for dear life.

"Don't go," he whispered hoarsely, his face buried in my neck.

I hugged him to me tightly as relief washed through me. His body moulded to mine and I knew without a doubt that this was where he belonged.

Finally he slipped from my grip as he gave me the sweetest, shyest smile.

Things turned a bit awkward as we faced each other in the middle of that big, empty library. He seemed like he wanted to say something, but every time he'd lose his nerves and the silence stretched out between us.

Well, this time I was doing it right.

"I'm Custo," I said as I stuck out my hand in greeting.

He broke into a grin as he took it. "I know. At least, I know your full name is Custodio."

He didn't let go of my hand. I didn't mind a bit.

"It means guardian in Spanish," he said, his grin turning shy again. "I– I looked it up."

"When did you do that?" I asked. Okay, that was just the first stupid question that popped into my mind, but he was sort of distracting me with the way he bit his lip, and the way his hand felt so good in mine.

"Just before you... you know," he motioned at his 'tattoo' and I recalled that he was holding a book when I found him. He glanced at me through those long, dark lashes, and my heart skipped a beat. "How did you know what to do?" he asked, his voice barely a whisper.

Somehow I knew he didn't mean the simple act of drawing a shape on his arm.

"I don't know. I just... followed my instincts, I guess."

"You gave me my voice back. You freed me."

I stared at him, not fully comprehending, but then his words seemed to sink in. In my dream he didn't have a voice, but not for a moment did I suspect he couldn't speak in real life.

"So, when you said thank you..." I started, but I didn't need to complete that sentence. Those two words were more than just a mere thanks for a simple tattoo.

Now I knew why it changed everything.

Micha's POV

The look on his face told me everything I needed to know.

I flung my arms around his neck in a moment of unbridled joy as I laughed out loud, and was delighted with the way the sound bounced off the ceiling until the whole library seemed to be filled with laughter.

I haven't laughed out loud in over a year.

Custo chuckled as he held on to me, his arms a safe shelter around my body.

"Did you know that you were named after an angel?" he asked after a while.

I looked up curiously. "There's no angel called Micha."

"Micha is a variant of Michael, who is a fierce and noble angel. My grandma told me."

"Well, I'm pretty sure I'm not an angel," I laughed, but he just smiled at me knowingly, so I grabbed his hand and dragged him towards the back of the library.

"Where are we going?" he asked, his voice laced with amusement.

"There's something I've always wanted to do," I said as I pulled him back to the spot where he found me earlier. It was a special place for me, surrounded by some of the greatest voices of our time.

"Okay," he said, clearly recognising the place, "what did you want to d–"

I jumped up and wrapped myself around him as my lips sought his out. He kissed me back with equal fervour as we stumbled backwards. My back hit a bookshelf and I smiled into the kiss.

"What?" he managed without breaking contact.

I broke the kiss. "I've always wanted to make love in a library," I said, trying for nonchalant, but my voice sounded as nervous as I felt.

He studied my face while he gently lowered me to the ground.

"Is that what you really want?" he asked softly as his fingers traced the contours of my face. I closed my eyes, soaking up the sensation of his tender touch. Was it? I could feel the nervousness like a tight ball in my stomach, but underneath that was something else, something solid and much more important. A certainty that this was meant to be.

I opened my eyes and looked into the face of my painted warrior.

Costo's POV

When he opened his eyes I could see the conviction in them.

"I want you," he said firmly.

I searched his face just to make sure, but he smiled that radiant, angelic smile at me and I knew, I just knew that I would do anything for him, no matter what.

So I kissed the corner of his mouth, then the other one. His eyes fluttered closed and I kissed them too, softly, before I traced butterfly kisses down his jaw and neck.

I carefully lowered us to the ground where he wrapped himself around me and my heart almost burst with happiness as he said my name over and over.

His body moulded against mine, his hands blazing trails across my skin, his lips against my neck. I began to move as primal instinct took over, seeking closeness, release.

Our voices rang out through the great hall, cutting through the heavy silence like bells on a hill, sending their proud declaration into the world.

I was exactly where I was supposed to be, inside my angel with the virgin skin.

<<< THE END >>>

Author Note: This is the original short story I wrote in 2012 for the Watty Awards, which is why I kept it PG-13. But a while back I decided to self-publish "Virgin Skin", so I developed the storyline and characters into something substantial that became the first book in a 3-book series called "Eternal Soulmates". Most of the book remained the same as the original, except for the last third. I rewrote the "fade-to-black" ending to contain the sexy scene with some added drama that paves the way for the second book, "Skin Deep".

"Virgin Skin (book 1)" can be found at most major ebook retailers (click title for a list). "Skin Deep (book 2)" is still under development.

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