Adrian woke up with a yawn and stretched, blinking hard to chase away the sand from his eyes. For a moment or two, he felt the place next to him with one hand. He sighed. Somehow he doubted Edward was in the kitchen, making waffles. But there was no point in being disappointed since Adrian was not at all into that kind of domestic pleasures. He didn’t eat waffles anyway.
He stood up and moved his arms, to remove some of the stiffness in his limbs, and realized that something was chafing his neck. Oh, great, he must have slept with the collar on. With a laugh, mostly addressed to himself, he proceeded to remove the leather strap when his eyes fell on the nightstand. There was a small note left, written on a square piece of paper with a pearly sheen to it.
The note, in itself, shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. It appeared to be something fitting for Edward’s habits and personality. What made that simple gesture stand out was the expensive champagne gold pen placed carefully on top of the note, as a statement.
Adrian picked the pen and pushed it aside.
“I had a great time last night. Don’t forget to call. P.S. I hope this note is cliché enough to earn at least a small snort from you.”
Adrian stopped right in time. Yeah, he would have done that. He took the beautiful pen and examined its exquisite craftsmanship for a little while. Then, as an idea came to mind, he grabbed his phone.
“Adrian, are you already up? After last night’s exertions, I would have expected you to sleep well into the afternoon.” Edward answered only after two rings.
“Consider it my ability to rest and recover within a short time,” Adrian replied. “Hey, listen, I think you forgot a thousand-dollar pen on my nightstand.”
“Is that the reason you called?” Edward questioned, his voice smooth and pleasant.
Adrian moved his phone from one ear to the other and plopped down on the bed. This call had the potential to become good. “Well, your note said that I shouldn’t forget to call,” he pointed out.
The instant reward for his little joke was the sound of laughter on the other end. “I am glad to see you so eager to do my bidding. It wasn’t an order, though, but hope from my part that I would not be part of your usual fuck-and-forget lot of lovers.”
“You have too little faith in yourself, Your Majesty. Don’t worry; we can work on that. I can be so glued to you that you will have to push me away with a stick so that I leave you alone.”
“Oh, so is my ass that amazing?” Edward asked, but Adrian could read the amusement in his voice.
“You’re a rich, handsome man with confidence issues. I tend to think that I just found my kryptonite.”
Edward laughed unrestrained. “Would that make you Superman?”
“Put me to the test. I am willing to prove myself to you.”
Edward sighed. “Too bad my Sunday is filled with obligations.”
“Screw those,” Adrian demanded.
“I wish I could. But a rich, handsome man with confidence issues such as myself has to cultivate good relationships within the family and beyond. That is what Sundays are for.”
“Boring,” Adrian said and yawned. “At least, I know that you will come back for your Mont Blanc.”
“Oh. That is yours,” Edward said matter-of-factly.
“Really? Was I that good?” Adrian joked.
Edward laughed again. “Of course, you were. But that’s not the point. When I choose someone as my partner in certain delights, I enjoy being generous.”
Adrian studied the pen in his hand. It was a beautiful piece. “Don’t tell me you received this on your graduation day, and it has some immense sentimental value.”
“Nothing of the kind. I purchased it yesterday to offer it to you.”
“Just like that? You couldn’t know I would be home.”
“You would have come home, eventually. I am also a patient man, in case you haven’t noticed. And I can be insistent.”
“You don’t have to buy me stuff,” Adrian replied. “That’s not how I work.”
Edward sighed. “I am not one of your other lovers, am I, Adrian? I know for a fact that you don’t do relationships and that someone hurt you in the past.”
Adrian tried to protest.
“Please, allow me to finish. I do not want your heart on a silver platter, or for you to fall madly in love with me. I know that you don’t work that way, and as far as our little games of seduction go, it is my right to play my part, just as well as you play yours.”
“I’m not sure I follow,” Adrian replied.
“Come on, Adrian. I know you’re trying your hand at seducing me. Last night is proof enough, as is my inability to sit comfortably, which may be a challenge, seeing how I am supposed to attend a long lunch and an even longer dinner today.”
Adrian had a mind to contradict Edward. But then, he reconsidered. “So, you intend to shower me in gifts, in response to my trying to seduce you?”
“Yes. I suppose you may think that. But, I am usually generous with my partners. That’s how I function.”
“To erase the guilt for being incapable of falling in love?” Adrian aimed low.
A short silence followed. “Where has that come from? I wonder.”
“You’ve never loved someone, right, Edward?” Adrian asked.
“I guess that is correct.”
“It’s all right. Maybe it’s time someone came along and corrected that.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You’re all cold and pretending not to care, but I think you don’t know yourself that well,” Adrian said. “So, here is my part of the challenge. You said that complications such as my wanting a relationship with you, a real relationship, would bring this arrangement we have to its end. But this is what I say. I will make you fall in love with me. And then, the arrangement will be over. Of course, you will need to be honest with me.”
“Let me understand this,” Edward said, and he appeared puzzled as he spoke, “you want me to fall in love with you so that you can dump me? You know that’s highly improbable --”
“I’m not saying that.” Adrian took great pleasure in drawling the words as he continued. “If you fall in love with me for real, if I manage to do that, then we’ll have a real relationship.”
“You are puzzling, Adrian. Why would you do that?”
“Well, maybe I’m ready to retire if I manage to get someone like you to have real feelings for me.”
“I will give up on my bachelor status if that happens.” Adrian waited for a few seconds, and then he laughed. “Gotcha! Didn’t I?”
Edward exhaled. “You are mischievous, Adrian. I can’t believe that I almost thought you were telling the truth.”
“Hey, it’s a good dare, don’t you think? I’ll do my best.”
“And I’ll do my best to resist you,” Edward said in a somewhat perplexed voice.
“Good. Do that. Plus, I thought you said that you were planning to make a total charmer out of me. How about offering yourself as my precious guinea pig?”
“Adrian, tell me you haven’t just compared me to a furry creature.”
Adrian burst into laughter. “Bad choice, I guess. Seeing how you are perfectly groomed, but you’re asking me to let my body hair grow.”
“I believe you would look better that way,” Edward replied, a bit clipped.
“I will do it for you. Then I will rub my entire furry body against your smooth skin.”
“I look forward to it. I have to go now; duty calls. And I hope you will forgive my roundabout manner of offering you a small gift.”
Adrian chuckled. “Small? I guess it does fit in one’s pocket. Well, at least it’s not a collar. You have a thing for those.”
“I certainly do. Have a nice Sunday, Adrian. And please, honor our understanding.”
“I won’t sleep around,” Adrian said with a small huff. “I promised.”
“I was talking about having medical test results forwarded to one another.”
“Ah, that. Sure. I’ll take care of that.”
“That sounds great.”
“Wait, when will I see you again?”
“My workweek tends to be extremely busy. But, I hope that you will keep your weekend open for me.”
“Of course. And, until then, I won’t see you again?”
“I would hate to make a promise I can’t keep.”
“Call me then?”
“Of course. Enjoy your Sunday, Adrian.”
Adrian said his goodbyes and then stared at the pen for a while. He could not wait to tell Jared and Mike about it. They will surely like to see it and play with it for a little. Although they were no longer kids, it was still fun to show their toys to one another.
Jared shifted as he felt strong hands around him and firm lips on his neck. He laughed but refused to open his eyes for a while longer. “Wait,” he mumbled, “did I fall asleep before you came back with the rubber last night?”
“Yes,” Chris replied promptly. “That means that you will have to make up for that now.”
“Morning sex,” Jared said and snickered.
“What’s so funny?”
“Sunday morning sex,” Jared said as an additional explanation. “You know, like married couples.”
“Hmm, I’m pretty sure it is Saturday morning sex what you’re hinting at, and I have a mind to ask you how you know about such things, being so young and all.”
“I’m watching too much television or something,” Jared replied.
“As much as I’d love to stay and chat, Jared, I believe you have a small promise to honor from last night.”
Jared could feel something poking at his behind. How come he was naked? Ah, last night, at least he had had the energy to undress while waiting for Chris to come back. Funny thing, he had had a feeling that it had been some time he had spent waiting. Maybe that was just his imagination playing tricks on him.
“I think you had been the one to promise something,” he said with a small giggle.
Chris nuzzled his neck playfully. “My memories are all hazy. It was just after I got a pretty amazing blowjob, so I can’t recall everything to the letter.”
“Was an amazing blowjob? I recall how I let you down by not, you know, swallowing,” Jared said the last word as a whisper.
“You’ll swallow plenty, don’t worry,” Chris replied, and he began getting busy behind Jared. “Is it good, like this? Sideways?”
Jared snickered. “I think I always wanted to say this. Fuck me sideways!”
“Ah, you’re really in the mood to play this early in the morning,” Chris scolded him, but he laughed, too. “You know, Jared, you have a pretty amazing ass. So, please, forgive me.”
Jared wanted to ask what for, but Chris pushing inside him made him forget about all that. As it happened to any other healthy male in his twenties, his morning wood was out and proud. Chris covered it quickly with one rough hand while he continued to play with his exposed ear and neck.
Chris’s voice was soft and deep as he whispered sweet nothings in Jared’s ear. Jared felt a bit overwhelmed. It was like he had asked for this kind of thing for a long time, and now that he had it, he couldn’t quite believe it was happening.
They didn’t fuck sideways for long, as Chris seemed to have other plans. He moved Jared on all fours, and then he started fucking. Jared could swear his eyes were rolling in his head. That was surely the type of fuck he would come to feel for at least a couple of days, as it looked that Chris didn’t want to spare any effort.
The bed was creaking under them, and, usually, Jared would have found that funny. Fortunately, there was not one neuron left in his brain that could be bothered with such details. Right now, his pleasure was focused on how his ass was pounded. Chris was a big guy in the downstairs department, and he knew how to make great use of that awesome tool, as well.
A hand wrapped around his hair and pulled back hard.
“Fuck,” Jared protested, taken by surprise.
“You’re a young colt that needs a little bit of putting in place, aren’t you?” Chris teased him, but his voice was now a bit harsh.
Jared felt turned on. He wouldn’t have ever imagined himself enjoying a bit of rough sex, but this was okay. Chris was holding his hair in such a way that it didn’t hurt much. It was just enough to make him feel the other’s power, and that was exciting, in a strange way. Jared curved his back inward, letting his head back, to prove his obedience.
“That’s good,” Chris praised him and slapped his ass, one time, hard.
Jared could feel his ass squeezing tightly in response to that. Now that was a bit of a shameful secret. He did like a bit of pain. Chris caressed the abused flesh he had slapped earlier. “Your skin is lovely, boy,” he whispered. “You’re such a beautiful boy. I love to fuck you hard.”
There was no reply he could give to that, Jared thought. Dirty talk in bed was just another turn on which he was discovering now. Chris let go of his hair and wrapped both hands around Jared’s neck, without squeezing. At this point, Jared wasn’t sure if his erection could get harder than it was. His skin was pricking with sensation all over, and his brain was a total mess. The hard cock in his ass was moving faster and faster, hitting his prostate over and over again, without end.
Jared could not recall coming like this ever in his life. His cock was just spurting, releasing itself, and he didn’t control it at all. Chris slowed down, allowing him to breathe. “Just a little more, sweetie,” he said, and Jared didn’t offer a reply, as his coming down had the magnitude of an earthquake.
Chris pushed his head down and held him, as his rhythm increased again. Jared shivered, unable to go beyond that point. His body now perceived the abuse, but it was helpless, and the sensations grew back, almost to the point of becoming unbearable.
“This is it, baby, this is it,” Chris said, and then, he moved a few more times, slamming hard into Jared, before he reached the finish line, too.
Chris dropped by his side and pulled him close. Jared was thankful for the hard kiss that followed. Chris was a kisser for sure; his tongue was in Jared’s mouth for a few moments, and then he was let go. “You have an awesome body, Jared.”
“Thanks.” Jared giggled, feeling too spent to say anything else.
“I mean it.” The look in Chris’s eyes was intense.
Jared resisted the temptation to look away. “I guess I know that. You did a number on my ass.” He snickered again.
“I’ve had my fair share of bed partners. You’re amazing, and I mean it.”
Jared smiled. “You’re in a league of your own, yourself. I’ve kind of had only so and so … hookups, if you want to know.”
Chris was sweaty and tired, but he turned to one side to look at Jared better. “I do want to know.”
Jared licked his lips before continuing. “I mean, being young and free is not all that’s cracked up to be. Everyone just wants to hook up for several minutes and then move on.”
“Several minutes?” Chris’s lips curled into a smile.
“I’m exaggerating, maybe. But I want a relationship, not just one night stands,” Jared explained. “Ah, damn, I might ask too much of you. I mean --”
“It’s all right. I’m glad you feel that way. You’re beautiful and sexy. You’re just what I want in bed. And you’re a lovely companion all around.”
“So, will it be okay if I ask you this? Will you be my boyfriend?”
Chris’s eyes sparked with amusement. “I feel a bit too old for that term.”
Jared rolled his eyes. “You just want to tease me over that comment I made about your age, right?”
“Right,” Chris confirmed. “I want to be more for you.”
Jared’s eyes grew wide. What the hell was more than being boyfriends? If Chris suddenly mentioned marriage, he would need to pinch himself hard. He wanted a relationship, but, at this point, they knew each other for way too little time to consider such a possibility.
“I want to be your protector,” Chris said.
Ah, good, it wasn’t marriage. “Protector? Like how?” Jared asked.
“A young man like you must have plenty of hopes and dreams. You’re a photographer, right?”
“You already know that,” Jared pointed out.
“And? Wouldn’t you like to have an exhibition?”
Jared paused. “Of course. I mean, that’s one goal. Right now, I think I’m searching for the right style that would suit me. I don’t consider myself an artist.”
“Maybe you should,” Chris said promptly. “What do you like to take pictures of?”
“I work as a freelancer. I usually deliver what my clients want.”
“I understand that. But what do you like to do?”
“I guess I like to photograph people. It’s my favorite subject if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Do you have a portfolio?”
“I have some pictures I like very much.”
“Then, you should consider organizing an exhibition.”
“That’s not exactly within my budget for now,” Jared explained.
“Money’s not an issue.”
Jared stopped for a second and then decided to take it lightly. “Hey, I know you’re some big shot financial advisor, but I’m not sleeping with you so that I could mooch off of you.”
“Too bad.” Chris smiled and leaned in to kiss Jared again. “I wouldn’t mind pampering you a little.”
“Paying for an exhibition couldn’t be considered pampering. It would be a little too much, especially after only three dates.”
“Ah, I see. How many dates are necessary to convince you to let me do this for you?”
Chris was more persistent than what Jared would have expected. “I don’t know, but it would feel wrong.” Was it because of the differences between them that Chris considered normal to offer his boyfriend – or whatever Jared was for him – such an expensive gift without even blinking? Jared felt like he needed to tread lightly so that he didn’t insult Chris but didn’t give in to such offers, either. “I mean, you could always settle for a watch,” he said in a light tone, to make it clear that he was joking.
“All right. But gifts, expensive as they may be, won’t help you in the future or advance your career,” Chris said, and he appeared serious.
Jared sighed. “I was joking about the watch, too. I don’t need anything. What? Are you afraid a young colt like myself,” he chose to joke again, “wouldn’t like for real a silver fox like you without any gifts and the like?”
Finally, Chris laughed. “Silver fox? Come on, cut me some slack, sweetie. I’m still in my forties. I believe I’m safe for at least another decade from being called that.”
“I’m just teasing you,” Jared said. “I like you very much, Chris.”
Chris’s eyes lit with fondness. “That’s great. I like you very much, too. But you will have to forgive me if I’m starting to buy you gifts. They will be small, I promise.”
Jared laughed. “Don’t you think I didn’t notice you said ‘small’ and not ‘inexpensive’. I believe I know what you’re trying to do here.”
“Oh, really, what?” Chris’s grin wasn’t at all a sign of anything good. “Trying to shower in gifts my young lover?”
“Speaking of showers, I believe I need one, and badly,” Jared said and pushed himself up.
Chris stood up. “Let me join you. I need to make sure you’re in one piece after I fucked you so hard.”
Jared squared his shoulders and threw Chris a challenging look. “I don’t break that easily.”
A small shadow passed over Chris’s eyes. “Be careful, boy. I might have a bit more stamina in this old body than you think. And then you’ll have something to complain about. Consider my buying gifts for you a way of offering proper reparation for what’s going to happen to that perky butt of yours.”
Jared snickered. “You sure talk big.”
“Maybe. Or maybe I’m just telling the truth. Let’s get you under that shower,” Chris said and took Jared by the shoulders. “I promise I won’t do anything. But I will have my hands all over you so that you know it.”
“Guys, does everyone look a bit worse for wear, or is it just my imagination?” Jared asked first, as soon as they were all around the table, at his place.
Adrian grinned broadly. “I’m tired but happy. Guess whose ass I tapped all night long.”
“Weren’t you going to some reverse gangbang orgy or something?” Mike asked while throwing a look filled with envy to the most handsome guy in their little group.
“Well, I was there, I fucked some pretty bottoms, and then I went home, and guess who was waiting?”
Jared huffed. “Adrian, I swear, someday lightning is going to strike you dead in the middle of a sunny afternoon, and I won’t even be surprised. Just tell us already, you lucky ass.”
Adrian sighed theatrically, and then he pulled a golden pen out of his jacket. He played with it, putting on a little show.
“Is that a Mont Blanc?” Jared asked and reached for the pen.
Adrian held it high, making Jared lean over the table and fight him for it.
“Am I missing something here?” Mike complained.
Jared sat back into his chair, holding Adrian’s pen triumphantly. “This thing right here retails for about a thousand or more.”
Mike’s eyes grew wide. “Shit. I knew those pens were expensive, but I never really cared to learn how much they cost.”
Jared studied it carefully. “Adrian, did you get a raise at work or something? I mean, I know you earn the most of us all, but still, you wouldn’t spend so much on a pen.”
Adrian puffed out his chest. “It was a gift.”
Jared stared at Adrian. “A gift?”
“Yeah. From Edward.”
“Did he just give you a one-thousand-dollar pen? Just like that?” Mike asked.
Jared handed Mike the pen so that he could look at it, too. “So, Adrian, you fucked Edward last night.” Adrian nodded as his smile grew brighter. “And he gave you a pen. And earlier last night, you fucked a bunch of bottoms. Forgive me if I’m lost, but how the fuck did that happen? And did you cheat on Edward? You’re not a cheater!”
Adrian picked his pen from Mike’s hands and placed it back carefully into his jacket. “I didn’t! I mean, when I fucked all those guys, I fought so hard not to think of him.”
Mike snickered. “Adrian’s in love, Adrian’s in love,” he began like a child on the playground.
“I’m not in love,” Adrian protested. “It’s just that, right now, I like him better than anyone else.”
Jared patted Adrian’s arm in sympathy. “It’s all right if you’re falling for this guy, Adrian. We’re like a family here, and we won’t tell a soul. Your playboy reputation is not in any danger.”
“Stop joking, fool,” Adrian protested. “I’m not falling for him.”
“But how did you get from an orgy to fucking Edward?” Mike questioned his eyes as big as saucers. “And how doesn’t that count as two-timing?”
“If you midwives stopped pestering me, I would tell you.”
“All right. We’re all eyes and ears,” Jared said, curious to learn about Adrian’s adventures. Mike nodded in acquiescence.
“So I was at this orgy, and all the boys were fine, and I mean, top-notch, you haven’t seen in your life a bunch of frigging sexy bottoms like these guys. And I fuck, and I fuck, and I can’t come, you know?”
Jared just shook his head and exchanged a few meaningful glances with Mike. “We don’t know because we haven’t been invited to such parties so far. Our invitations must have been lost or something. The postal services today are unbelievable.” He snorted to make a point.
“Anyways, I’m like totally priapic if you know what I mean,” Adrian continued.
“Do you know how it’s that?” Jared asked Mike.
Mike just shook his head. “Priapic is that thing when your dick won’t go down, right?”
Adrian slammed one hand on the table playfully. “Will you two jokers listen already? I have a juicy story, right out of the oven, and you’re busy making fun of me.”
“Go ahead. You better not be a two-timing prick, though,” Jared warned his friend.
Adrian waved. “Once I’m telling you the entire story, you’ll understand why I’m not. The thing was I was still pissed at Edward. While at that party, I thought I was completely through with him.”
“Although he kept calling you, probably to apologize,” Jared offered himself an explanation.
“Stop interrupting,” Adrian said. “The problem was that I wasn’t really there. I mean, they were fine and sexy, and --”
“Just get over those bottoms, or we’ll never hear the end of this story,” Jared advised. “If they were so damned special, how come you didn’t finish?”
“That’s the issue,” Adrian said and crossed his fingers. “Under any other circumstances, I would have come like a frigging fountain. But no fucking dice, I’m telling you. None did it for me. None,” he emphasized the word.
“Wow,” Mike whispered. “Do you have like one of those conditions then? Because you fucked too much?”
“I don’t have any conditions,” Adrian replied in an irritated, but still playful, voice. “My mind wasn’t there; this is what I’m trying to tell you. My mind was at Edward, and each time he popped into my mind, I felt like my balls were ready to make my dick shoot. But I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to come while thinking of that guy.”
“So, what did you do?” Mike asked, leaning over the table, as he could hear more like that.
“I didn’t come,” Adrian said promptly. “I left with a pair of fucking blue balls and pissed off at myself for still thinking of Edward.”
“Hmm, it must be love. Don’t you think so, Mike?” Jared turned towards his other friend.
Mike nodded enthusiastically. “Adrian really is in love.”
“I hate you, guys,” Adrian said matter-of-factly. “Just because a guy has a thing, a pretty strong thing, for a sweet piece of ass, that doesn’t mean he’s in love.”
“We’re in our twenties, and we’re horny. If we think a guy is sexy, and if we fuck, and he doesn’t leave the next day, barely waiting to hook up with others, we’re sold,” Jared explained.
“That might be your case. I don’t judge,” Adrian said with a small shrug. “Well, I got home, and Edward was waiting for me.”
“So?” Mike asked impatiently, seeing how Adrian wasn’t continuing, busy to drink some fresh juice from his glass.
“We had a little chat. And one thing led to another. And I won’t tell you anything more because it gets too X-rated for your young ears.”
“The story about how you went to an orgy and put your cock in who knows how many sexy asses wasn’t X-rated, but you having fun with Edward is. So puzzling are the ways of the dick,” Jared said in an exaggerated tone he wanted to sound wise.
Mike laughed out loud at his joke. Adrian threw them both murderous looks.
“I see you enjoy making fun of me. So I guess I won’t tell you anything more.”
“No, please,” Jared begged, putting his hands together in a pleading gesture. “Your adventurous life keeps us all alive.”
Adrian sighed like it was too much to bear his friends’ shenanigans. “Fine, then. The thing is Edward solved my blue balls situation and swiftly. And, just like that, I realized. My dick wants this guy. And my dick is my best friend.”
“Did you hear that, Mike? We’re beneath a dick, in Adrian’s book.”
“It must be a pretty big dick,” Mike replied. “So, I guess we can live with that.”
“You fuckers.” Adrian grinned. “You’re just jealous of my success.”
“Us? Jealous? Why should we?” Jared said and laughed. “I’m glad to see you settling down, Adrian. It’s a start, you know? I’m not saying you’re in love, okay, that’s a joke, but it’s good to try your hand at a relationship. They are not all bad.”
“Hmm, and how come you’ve become such an expert in relationships?” Adrian asked, watching Jared through his eyelashes as if he was suspecting something.
Jared looked down and smiled. “I might have just made it a bit official with Chris.”
“Official? Are you two getting married?” Mike asked right away.
Okay, so now he would be the butt joke of his friends, Jared thought. It was his turn, though, so he couldn’t be upset. “No, of course not, but we talked about becoming committed to one another, just like in a relationship.”
“That sounds nice,” Mike said. “It’s nice to have someone who likes you like you back.”
“So, he’s like your boyfriend or something now?” Adrian asked.
For a moment, Jared hesitated. “Yeah,” he replied and searched for his glass. After all, Chris had said something else. Whatever, those were only semantics. They were committed now. “Hey, Adrian, how come you didn’t mind that Edward gave you such an expensive gift?”
Adrian shrugged. “Why should I mind? The guy is loaded, and this gift is just a token of his appreciation.”
“And it doesn’t feel like, I don’t know, some kind of a way for him to buy you?”
Adrian looked at him, pensively. “I don’t see why. I do what I want. He does what I want. So I can let him give me a few gifts if he feels like it.”
“I’m thrilled we had this talk,” Jared said with a small sigh. So it wasn’t so bad to receive gifts, after all. Of course, nothing like an exhibition. That would have been way too much. But maybe he didn’t have to be so hung up about it and stop worrying so much.
“I guess that leaves me as the only loser in this group,” Mike said with a long sigh.
“What did you do yesterday?” Jared asked.
“I went through quite a lot,” Mike replied and looked down.
Jared placed one hand on Mike’s shoulder. “You’re still thinking of Ryan, right? I guess it would take more than a couple of days without seeing him at all to --”
“I saw him last night,” Mike blurted out.
Adrian was the first to express his surprise. “Does this guy have a knack for appearing in the same places as you? You went to the club, as usual, right?”
“Yeah. It’s a complicated story,” Mike said. “I was about to have a threesome --”
“Mike!” Jared was fairly alarmed. “After everything we both told you?”
Adrian just shook his head in mirth. “I guess Mike is hornier than we think. The shyest ones are the kinkiest. It’s just how it is.”
“Oh, really? You just went from being used by a bunch of bottoms to falling in love with the best ass ever or something.” Jared shook his head. “You don’t have a shy bone in your body, Adrian.”
“Just let Mike tell us everything.” Adrian waved as if his shenanigans couldn’t count. “So, was Ryan part of that threesome?”
Mike appeared quite horrified at Adrian’s guess. “No! I just went to the club, I saw Jimmy, and then Gino, you know, his boyfriend, came and, it all kind of spiraled from there.”
Jared sighed. “You didn’t do it, right?”
Mike shook his head. “No. But I got drunk and texted my boss. While drunk.”
Jared exchanged a small look with Adrian. Even Adrian, as playful as he was, frowned at that. “Fuck. That’s bad.”
“Yeah, I know.” Mike sighed again. “But the good news is I didn’t get fired.”
“That’s good news indeed,” Jared agreed.
“Then what’s the bad news?” Adrian asked.
“I’m not over Ryan, and I don’t think I’ll be soon,” Mike said in one go. “He,” one moment of hesitation followed, “kissed me.”
Adrian quirked an eyebrow. “Then, he must want you, too.”
“I’m not up to date with such policies at the workplace since I’m a freelancer, but would it be so bad to date your boss?”
“Ryan thinks so. I mean, I think he thinks so. I … don’t know what to think. It’s just like my mind is set on him, and I can’t do anything to change that. And we barely know each other.”
“You had the guy’s cock in your mouth,” Adrian said in a philosophical tone, “so you might know him well enough.”
“Adrian,” Jared said shortly and threw his friend a pointed look.
“What? I’m just trying to make a bit light of the situation,” Adrian explained. “Mike, on a scale of one to ten, how much do you want to suck this guy’s dick again?”
“Really, is that what --” Jared tried to protest.
“Ten,” Mike replied, and this time without one ounce of hesitation.
“Then quit your job,” Adrian said promptly.
“Oh, great,” Jared intervened. “Is that a real solution?”
Mike seemed to listen intently.
Adrian leaned over the table. “Just think about it, J. The only issue that stands between Ryan and Mike is that they share a workplace. And, of course, that Ryan is the boss. Mike could just say he wants to quit, Ryan offers him a glowing recommendation, Mike finds another awesome workplace, and then they can date.”
“I wish I could say something about this plan,” Jared said with a small smile. “Adrian, you’re still too brutal in your approach. And Mike barely knows this guy, and he tends to,” he tried to find his words, “get attached to places. He cannot just quit without knowing that it’s for a good reason.”
“You keep talking for Mike. Just let him speak,” Adrian said.
Mike blushed a little, and Jared placed one protective hand on his arm. “It’s okay, J. Adrian is right. You always take my side, and I like it because I’m, well, Ryan said it well, shy and nervous, but I need to find a way to do things without relying so much on you.”
Jared remained silent and waited for Mike to continue.
Mike took one deep breath and then said, “I can’t quit.”
“Why not?” Adrian fired the question at him right away.
Jared knew, this time, that he needed to keep silent.
“Because it’s like J said. I’m too comfortable where I am. And I can’t quit.”
Adrian groaned in exasperation. “Mike, you might need to choose. If your boss doesn’t want to cross the line and risk some sexual harassment lawsuit --”
“What sexual harassment?” Mike asked, visibly puzzled.
“He’s the boss; you’re the employee,” Adrian explained. “To outsiders, that may look like he’s abusing his position of power to make you, well, suck his cock, or whatever stuff you two might do together.”
“He’s not abusing anything!” Mike was rightfully revolted, Jared noticed. “I mean, we didn’t even know we worked for the same company when we met. And Ryan didn’t force me to do … that thing. It was all on me.”
Adrian grimaced and continued. “I know all that. J knows all that. You and Ryan know it, too. But, as I told you, if someone looked at this from the outside, they might jump to conclusions.”
“Who would do that?”
“Someone who might want to hurt Ryan and his position as the head of your company.”
“Even so, it wouldn’t be true.”
“It wouldn’t. But what if the news that your boss takes advantage of his employees, demanding sexual favors, were to break out, what could you do?”
“Deny it, of course!” Mike said.
“This is also highly hypothetical and improbable,” Jared intervened.
“I work in advertising,” Adrian explained. “I have seen plenty of nasty things. Competition is not only about whose product is better. And, given how much credit people give today to whatever they read on the Internet, without verifying the facts, it wouldn’t be that hard to taint someone’s reputation. As for what you say, Mike, you can deny it for all you want, but if your name isn’t mentioned, you would just make things worse if you said anything.”
“But if what you say is true, then whoever wants to hurt Ryan and his position might just invent something,” Jared said.
“Yes, but if those blogs or Twitter accounts, or whatever, were to show some pictures of Ryan holding in his arms a certain someone, whose face would be blurred, of course, with incendiary titles beneath, then they might just get that sheen of credibility that’s needed to start a fire.”
“Still, such pictures could not prove that the relationship is based on some sort of abuse of power,” Jared replied.
“Indeed,” Adrian said and accepted the argument. “They could also speak of employees who, interested in getting ahead, have no qualms with throwing themselves at their boss, thus creating a toxic environment at work. In other words, here we have a boss who doesn’t mind asking for sexual favors, and, even if he doesn’t insist when he’s refused, some of his subordinates accept his advances and get raises and promotions because of that. How is that for an argument? The next stop is some class-action lawsuit, provided that whoever would want to do that to Ryan would stoop as low as to bribe some other employees to testify against him.”
“Damn, you make one fine devil’s advocate, Adrian,” Jared said.
Mike appeared to be equally impressed and also a bit panicked. “Then that means that if someone has seen us --”
Jared felt compelled to intervene. “Mike, Adrian is exceptionally good at providing worst-case scenarios, but I don’t think you need to worry so much. However, as far as his solution goes, I wouldn’t completely give up on it. Are there any chances for Ryan to move to another company, though?”
Mike groaned and covered his face. “I don’t think so. He just got here, so to speak. And he’s related to the former boss.”
Jared patted his shoulder. “Let’s try not to dramatize things so much. One thing you can do, Mike, for now, is to see about your work, as usual, and just let nature follow its course.”
“What do you mean?” Mike asked.
“You might not feel so strongly about Ryan as time passes. Of course, you will need to be pro-active. Stop texting him, and do not try to see him more often than is needed. The chances are that your crush will fizzle out. You two have known each other for a week. And you can meet other guys.”
“I’m not good at meeting other guys,” Mike said quietly.
“J, our friend here has a big-time crush on his boss. I know you mean well, but let’s think for a moment,” Adrian said. “So, he kissed you? How did that happen after you texted him?”
“He took me home. He told me I could not text him and stuff, and I agreed. But then I tried to delete his number from my phone, and he stopped me. And then he kissed me.”
“Adrian, really,” Jared said. “What matters here, and I believe it’s good, in a way, is that Mike is not the only guy still hung up on what happened between them. It looks to me like Ryan likes Mike just as much as Mike likes him.”
“J, I know you want to cheer me up, but please don’t just say that,” Mike pleaded.
“I’m not that saying that.” Jared began to feel a little worked up. Mike had such a bad impression of himself, and it wasn’t warranted at all. As a friend, he felt compelled to make Mike see himself more as he was, and less how his personal issues told him. “Why would he kiss you? Why would he drop everything on a Saturday night and come to see you? Why would he stop you from deleting his number from your phone? The answer is simple. He wants you.”
“And you could quit, get hired somewhere else, and live happily ever after,” Adrian concluded.
“I don’t have the guts to do that,” Mike said. “I’m sorry. You guys are just trying to help me. I’m the missing link.”
“You’re not the missing link,” Jared protested right away. “Give yourself time to see how you really feel. There is no point in complicating things for now. You don’t have to quit. And there are two people in this. If he’s interested in you, Ryan will have to find a solution, too. This is not only something you should struggle with. All right?”
Mike nodded. He leaned his head into Jared’s shoulder. “Thank you, J. You always say the right things to make me feel better.”
“And I don’t?” Adrian made a sour face.
“You’re the action man,” Mike said with a small snicker. “I have the bestest two friends I could have in the entire universe in you. It’s only because of you that I can function pretty much normally in the real world.”
“Nonsense!” Jared protested.
“That’s not true!” Adrian said at the same time. “Mike, you’re a great guy. Of course, if you need J and me to tell you that every day, we have no problem with that.”
“None at all,” Jared added. “Hey, how about we play some D&D? I just got a new game I wanted to show you.”
“Nerd,” Adrian said and snorted.
Mike smiled. J knew what could make Mike feel better, and that was his plan for the day.
Jared was right, Mike pondered to himself, as he held the phone and stared at Ryan’s number. Ryan should think of something, too, if he wanted something to happen between them, after all. What that something could be, Mike had no idea, but Jared’s words had really made him feel a little better.
Having a crush, and on his boss of all people, was the pits. And he didn’t want to go out and meet other people. It was enough to have someone as awesome as Ryan to dream about. With a sigh, Mike placed the phone on the nightstand and covered himself to the chin with the blanket. It was easier to dream, anyway.
His phone began to ring. Mike took it, thinking that maybe Jared wanted to wish him good night, but he almost dropped the phone when he saw who was calling.
For a few moments, he did nothing but stare at the screen, as his hands began to sweat.
“Yes,” he answered in a strangulated voice.
“Micah,” Ryan said at the other end.
“No one calls me Micah,” Mike protested, his voice still weak.
“I’d like to call you that, sometimes,” Ryan replied.
His voice was deep and cool, like movie star cool, and Mike could feel himself melting into the bed. “Why did you call?” he whispered as if hidden paparazzi could jump out of the shadows and record his conversation with his boss.
“I wanted to see if you were well.”
“I am,” Mike replied. “As well as I can be.”
“Was it a bad hangover?”
Mike took a second to understand what Ryan was talking about. “Ah, I don’t remember.”
Ryan laughed softly. “It must have been this morning, so a very long time ago.”
Mike snickered. “I got too sobered up last night, and then too depressed this morning to care about feeling it,” he said without thinking.
“Depressed? Why were you depressed?” Ryan asked.
“Ah, um, I …” Mike trailed off. His palms were wet now. “It’s just how I am, I guess.”
“Do you usually have crushes on your bosses?”
“Not really. And come on, the other Mr. Armstrong is like a hundred-year-old or something.”
“Okay, he’s my great-uncle, and he’s old, indeed, but let’s not make him more than he is. It might just get to his head that he’s immortal.”
Mike registered with some latency that Ryan was joking. He laughed, but then he tried to stop. He didn’t even manage to laugh at someone’s jokes right. “Ryan,” he said slowly.
There was a short silence at the other end. “Yes.”
“I … can’t stop thinking about you.”
“That should be my line.”
Mike gripped the phone tightly. “What should we do?”
“I wish I knew. I’m stuck. And it doesn’t happen to me that often to feel stuck.”
“It happens to me all the time.”
“Then maybe I should learn from you what to do.”
Mike sighed. “Don’t get your hopes high. When I’m stuck, I just stay stuck. I’m lucky to have good friends who try to cheer me up and help me all the time.”
“There will be a party at the end of next week. Everyone from the company will come.”
“Ah, I heard. It’s to welcome you as our new boss,” Mike said as he remembered.
“Will you keep a dance for me?”
For a few moments, Mike thought he hadn’t heard right. “A dance?” he whispered.
“Something just between you and me.”
“Like a secret dance?”
“You could call it that, sure.”
“But wouldn’t people be watching?”
“Let that be my problem. Just say ‘yes’ so that I know I have something to look forward to.”
“Wouldn’t it be dangerous?” Mike remembered Adrian’s ominous scenario. “People might see.”
“We’ll be somewhere alone. I just want a dance with you.”
“Then, I must warn you. I have two left feet.”
“It’s all right. I have two right feet, so together, we will make two pairs.”
Mike laughed. “So, you’re as bad a dancer as I am?”
“I’m actually an amazing dancer, and I’m not bragging. You’ll see.”
“Ryan,” Mike said after another short silence, “why me?”
“Why you?” Ryan sighed. “I don’t really have an answer. Do you believe in attraction?”
“Like love at first sight?”
“Like that, yes.” Ryan’s voice was low and filled with promises. “In my life, I’ve been involved in several relationships. I’ve never felt the pull I feel toward you.”
Mike stopped breathing for a long moment. “You mean it?” His voice was so quiet now, he wasn’t sure Ryan could hear him anymore.
“Yes, I mean it. Mike, you don’t have to feel compelled to say ‘yes’ to my request. It’s not an order. This doesn’t come from your boss so that you know.”
“I do feel compelled, though,” Mike replied. “Because I … like you, too.”
“Ah, good.” Ryan exhaled. “It’s a bit strange to confess like this over the phone. I’m glad you feel the same about me, Mike.”
“Call me Micah,” Mike said.
“Isn’t it strange for you since all your friends call you Mike?”
“You’re not my friend,” Mike replied.
He didn’t need to say what Ryan was. For once, Jared wasn’t right; his crush had no chances to fizzle. There was someone else kindling the fire, so, at least, he wasn’t the sole person responsible.
And that was making him happier than he could ever dream of being.