“We should do something different when we stop next.” Penn’s arm was still draped behind my seat just as it had been for the last few days. As was my hand on his leg. Besides the type of flirting that simmered below the surface, this was as far as things had gone between us.
“Like what?” I shifted my weight to relieve pressure on my butt and back. It was also an excuse to adjust my grip on Penn’s thigh, moving from my perch on his knee to a warm spot mid-thigh. He shifted with me and pressed his leg against mine, opening his legs ever so slightly.
“I don't know, maybe we could check out the nightlife or something? We haven’t done anything like that since we started. Might be fun.”
I slowly looked at him, skepticism written all over my face. “Nightlife?”
“Yeah, like a nightclub or something.”
“Like, a dance club?”
This time he looked at me and rolled his eyes. “Yes, like a nightclub. Would that be the worst thing ever?”
“Have you ever been to a dance club?” He didn’t strike me like the kind of guy that went to dance clubs. I wasn’t. Plus, weren’t we too old for that stuff?
“Of course I’ve been to dance clubs. Who hasn’t?” When I didn’t respond he started laughing. “Oh my god, you’ve never been to a dance club?”
“Of course I haven’t. Why would I? It’s a breeding ground for STDs and anonymous hookups. Neither of which I have been interested in.”
“Oh, Nay. You poor, sheltered soul. Now you don’t have a choice. We’re going out.” Once again, I looked at him with all the skepticism I felt. “Don’t worry,” he soothed, “I’ll protect you from STDs and anonymous hookups.”
“That’s not encouraging. What about all the drugs? Dance clubs are ground zero for drugs.”
I know I sounded like a total prude but I’d spent my whole life as a role model and had stayed far away from anything that led to reckless behavior. I never regretted those decisions and was even proud to be one of the few people that could say they’d never done drugs, never had a one-night stand, married their high school sweetheart, never went to a dance club, etc. There weren’t many people who could say those things.
“I don’t see that being a problem, you’re the poster child for saying no. In fact, you’ve had thirty-five years of practice. You’ll do just fine,” he ruffled my hair, making me feel like a small child, yet, making me smile at the same time. I wasn’t excited about going to a dance club but if I had to go, I was glad to do it with Penn.
It was late morning when we arrived in Saigon. I knew it was big but still wasn’t not prepared. Eight million was a far cry from the almost two million that made up Portland and surrounding areas. We did a bit of sight-seeing. We saw the French landmarks including the Notre-Dame and the nineteenth-century central post office. By the time nightfall came around, I was ready to bail on going out.
“I don’t think so,” Penn said when I flopped down on the communal couch. “We’re going out. This is a once in a lifetime trip and you’re going to experience all that Vietnam has to offer, night club wise.”
“But I’m so tired,” I whined. He raised his brow, challenging me to defy him. Which I wouldn’t do. He was hard to say no to. “Fine, but I’m going like this,” I said, gesturing to the Bermuda shorts and button-down I’d worn all day.
He looked me up and down. “That is one way to stop offers of anonymous hookups.”
“Asshole,” I shot back and he laughed.
The line to the nightclub was insane. I wasn’t excited to wait in line but there was plenty going on to keep me entertained while I did. Maybe I really had lived a sheltered life because the way people were dressed had my eyes bugged out of my head.
“Stop staring. You look like a fish out of water.”
“I don’t even know what's happening. This is crazy.” What little clothes people wore were brightly colored and eccentric. There were lots of bright wigs and loud make-up. “Is it like this in the States?”
“No,” he laughed as he looked around. “This is new to me. It’s kind of cool though, you have to admit.” It was fascinating, that was for sure.
We were in line for twenty minutes before we paid our cover and made our way inside. The music was nothing I recognized or anything I would have chosen. Penn grabbed my hand and dragged me to the crowded bar. He didn’t let go of my hand as he pressed forward. As he waited for his turn to order drinks, I took in my surroundings. Small town, innocent Nash was way out of his league.
“Hello, handsome American,” a soft, heavily accented voice sounded beside me. I turned to find a petite woman, likely a local, standing against me. She brushed my chest with her hand and batted her eyelashes all while sipping her drink. She was a tiny thing. I doubt she was five feet or weighed more than ninety pounds.
“Hello—” I hesitated, not really knowing what to do or say.
She smiled and tugged my shirt. “Come. You dance with me.”
This was how anonymous sex happened. I was sure of it. I jerked Penn’s hand. He looked back at me, brows furrowed, asking ‘what’, I nodded to the girl trying to abduct me. It took him a second to realize what was going on. He smiled then gave her an apologetic look as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder and pulled me into him. The woman walked away pouting. I stayed plastered to his body and looked over his shoulder at the crowd of people dancing and milling around.
“Is your virtue okay?” He asked in my ear.
“No, she just tried to have sex with me.” I was a real prude. I knew it.
“Well, yeah,” Penn laughed. I’m sure that was her plan. Here—” I turned to find four shot glasses and a glass of soda on the bar. He handed me one and kept one for himself.
“Oh no,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t like alcohol.”
“I know, but it’s part of the experience. We’re going to take two shots each and that’s it. Just enough to relax. No more, I promise.” He nudged the glass in my hand. I looked at the amber liquid. It was embarrassing really.
“I, um, I’ve never taken a shot before.”
I thought Penn would judge me, maybe give me a hard time like he’d done when he found out I’d never been to a dance club, instead his expression softened and he took the shot out of my hand.
“You don’t have to take shots. I can just dump it in the coke.”
He’d put thought into the drinks and I didn’t want to shag away. Yes, I didn’t drink often but that didn’t mean I couldn’t take two shots for Penn. I grabbed his hand before he could put the shot out. “No. I’ll do it.”
No time like the present. We both lifted the shot and I watched as Penn drank his effortlessly in one swallow. He made it look so easy. I assessed the shot, took a deep breath, and poured it in my mouth.
I meant to swallow like Penn had done but the harsh liquor burned and I couldn’t get myself to swallow it. I stared at Penn in a panic with a mouth full of acid whiskey. I didn’t know what to do. Penn laughed.“You’re gonna have to swallow, Nash. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
I steeled myself and did just that. It was the worst experience of my life. It burned. Burned so bad. It was disgusting and I couldn’t help but make face as my whole body convulsed in disgust. Penn handed me the soda and I quickly drank it down.
“Ugh, how do people do that?” I asked as my body shuttered in the aftershock.
“Most people don’t store it in their mouth like a chipmunk. Here—,” he handed me the second shot and I shook my head. Hell no was I doing that again. “Don’t take the whole thing. Try taking a mini shot.”
It took me three times to get the whole thing down. Penn was patient during the whole thing; handing me the coke after each pathetic attempt.
“You did it!” He lifted his hand for a high five. It was a little humiliating. I guess it was better to do it with Penn instead of a group of guys that would surely have ribbed me good.
“Never again,” I muttered, still trying to get the taste out of my mouth. Whiskey was not my friend.
“Ready to dance?” He nodded toward the floor.
I wasn’t ready to dance but the sooner we did it the sooner we could leave. Penn took my head and pulled me through the crowded club until he found a spot worthy of dancing. There wasn’t a lot of room but we managed to find some space. Even if I didn’t love clubs, I did enjoy dancing.
Several girls approached but quickly moved along when they realized that neither of us was interested. I can’t speak for Penn but I wasn’t there to dance with anyone else and, if I was real and honest, I didn’t think Penn was either.
“I’ll be right back, I need to use the restroom,” I shouted aver the music. Penn nodded and made a show of letting me know he’d be in that exact spot when I got back.
The line was long and the bathrooms were gross. Judging by the noises, I was pretty sure there were two people in the stall. When I made it back, Penn was still there he just wasn’t alone. There was another guy trying to overtly press himself against him. Penn looked at me with wide, pleading eyes. The same help me eyes I gave him at the bar earlier. I pulled him from the unwanted guest and put my arm around his waist until we were chest to chest. I turned to the intruder and gave the guy my best ‘get lost’ look. He backed off but continued to dance nearby. He knew a good thing when he saw it and wasn’t willing to give up on Penn prematurely.
I felt no jealousy, if anything I felt empowered. I was tired of pretending there was nothing between us and worse, making excuse after excuse as to why we couldn’t. I was over it.
So we danced, never breaking eye contact as our bodies swayed. Penn looked at me with an intensity that could bend steel. I had to give him props for putting himself out there. He got me to the club and now we were dancing the way lovers do. I could have rejected the whole idea.
God, my fucking heart wanted him so bad it was trying to beat out of my chest. And my heart wasn’t the only thing beating for him.
The faster the music got the slower we danced until it just didn’t matter anymore. Penn rested his forehead against mine and his hands snaked around my waist. I wasn’t dumb, he wanted to kiss me; I could see it written all over him like a terrible graffiti. For the first time ever, I was ready for it. Were there things that needed to be discussed? Yes. But the need to finally shine the light on whatever was happening between Penn and I was stronger.
I waited for him to move in, to take me the way his eyes shown he wanted to, but it never came. He just continued to devour—just with his eyes and not his lips. I decided to throw caution to the wind and take the initiative. What could it hut?
I closed my eyes and leaned forward.
Just when I expected to taste his plush lips for the first time, I was yanked forward.
The lights were flashing and the music was obnoxiously loud as Penn dragged me through the crowd like a misbehaved child. His grip with deathly tight and the few times I saw his profile, he looked angry. I didn’t think he was upset that I’d tried to kiss him but I wasn’t sure what else it could be. I was so sure he wanted it, had wanted it for months. Why was his reaction so extreme?
He continued to pull me by the hand even after we left the club. He was walking so fast I almost had to run or risk tripping over. We were heading in the direction of the hostel but I didn’t think that was what he had in mind. His eyes darted up and down the street, then down every side alley we passed. He never found what he was looking for.
Suddenly he was pulling me through a gate and down some rustic concrete stairs to a small park that ran along-side the river. It was an outdoor venue for concerts or something and, judging by the string lights that hung everywhere and the trash on the ground, we just missed something fun.
Finally, Penn stopped. He jerked me around until we chest to chest. His chest was heaving and his eyes were dark and—almost frantic.
“How dare you,” he growled, making my stomach twist with anxiety. “In the club? I didn’t wait this long to kiss you so it could be in a club next to someone who just offered me an exchange of blow jobs and cocaine.”
He threaded his fingers through my hair and pulled me closer. I didn’t say anything as I stared at him, waiting for his next move. The air was thick and tense as the seconds ticked by. Then he kissed me, he fucking kissed me. It was light, the softest of pecks. Then it was more. You better believe that I kissed him back. It was everything I imagined, wanted, needed, and desired.
Kissing was kissing, but kissing Penn was like perfecting eggs benedict; complicated and perfectly balanced. His passionate, caring nature melded into one tender, scorching kiss. My fingers dug into his back because I wanted it so bad.
My heart was beating erratically and I was panting when he pulled away. He literally kissed the sense out of me. I don’t think I knew north from south or east from west. I wasn’t completely sure what country I was in or if I was even alive.
I thought, maybe a few smaller kisses would help me come to. So that’s what I did. I kissed him. Tasted those sweet lips and let my tongue slide against his. Nope. A bunch of kisses later and I was just as turned about as before. If not more. It took me a minute to collect myself. Not easy when his fingers caressed the back of my neck and he looked at me like I was the last cheeseburger on earth.
His neck was flush and blotchy looking. The way it always got when he was nervous. He bit his lip and watched me, waiting for my reaction.
“So, we just kissed.”
“About time,” he leaned forward and softly kissed my lips, again. “Was this okay?”
“Yes,” I said, and it was the truth. Kinda. Penn’s kiss was the best I’d ever had. Even the hormone-filled years when every sexual experience blew my mind didn’t hold a candle to the way Penn’s lips felt on mine. “It was amazing, perfect even.”
“I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”
“I know, me too.”
He shook his head and ran his fingers down my arm. “No, I mean, I wanted to do that for a really long time.”
I smiled and kissed him again. He was addicting and I wanted to kiss him all night long. I hung on to the front of his shirt and held him close as we made out on the waterfront. The kissing was less urgent but just as sweet. Maybe more. And I could feel him against me. He was hard, like me, but neither of pressed that issue. It wasn’t about that. It was about two men who had been dancing around each other for much too long.
“Are you ready to head back?” He asked. I wasn’t even sure how long we’d been standing there but the breeze was a lot colder than it was when we arrived.
Neither of us said anything as we walked back through the park, it was quite beautiful now that I was paying attention. Kind of perfect for a first kiss. I reached over and slid my fingers in his, I wasn’t sure how he’d react and would’ve understood if he pulled away, but he didn’t. Penn looked down at our hands and smiled.
The moment truly was perfect. It was the perfect place with the perfect man. Everything about the kiss had been perfect. Everything except one teeny tiny thing that was nagging in the back of my mind.
“You’re married,” I said—well kind of blurted, really. But I’d put it out there. He was married. To Cam.
Penn slowed and looked at me. For a second, he looked confused, a moment later there was the telltale sign of recognition, then he closed his eyes like he was collecting himself.
“Camille,” I said, in case he needed to be reminded. “I know we haven’t talked about it, like, at all, but we have to. You know we have to.”
“I guess.” He said it like I’d asked him to go exchange the keylime yogurt for Mango on his way home from a long day at work. “I’m not sure what there is to talk about. Cam and I talked a while ago and are filing the paperwork. I thought it would be done by now but then things got kind of chaotic and it got put on the back burner.”
“I’m so confused.” I said. I was missing something.
“Everything.” I pulled my hand from his. “You and Cam. You. None of it makes sense to me. You’re married but she lives an hour away, you work out of town most of the time, and she flirts with other guys—” I paused and held his gaze for a beat. “You both flirt with other guys. In fact, you spend all your time with other guys—”
“No, not other guys.You. I flirt and spend my time with you.”
“Yeah, well, as good as that sounds, it’s hard not to feel shitty about sitting here with you knowing you’re married. How hypocritical could I be after everything Lee? And now I’m doing the same thing?”
Penn reached out and drew me closer. His dark eyes were sharp. “Now I’m confused. This isn’t the same thing. Cam and I got married for a lot of reasons and none of them were right. I had my heart broken by a boy who didn’t know I existed and Camille lost her parents. Don’t ask me why we thought marriage would fix anything. The only reason we’re still legally married is because there wasn’t a reason to divorce—until you. Honestly, besides a piece of paper we signed when we were babies, we’re not even married. We’re just best friends. The marriage, if that’s what you call it, is a technicality that doesn’t even cross my mind most days.”
“Then why didn’t you divorce years ago? Why stay married so long?”
“If it was just me, we’d have divorced years ago. I actually brought it up not long after we went to the courthouse and got married. I knew it was stupid right way. Cam was different. She had a traumatic past. She enjoys the company of men but only for the night. She struggles in relationships, always has. Being married made it easy. She had the perfect excuse to brush guys off.”
“Couldn’t she just tell the guys she’s married even if she wasn’t?” I asked.
“Sure, but I had no prospects, I didn’t date, I wasn’t even looking. It didn’t impact my life one way or another if we were legally married or not. Our relationship is based on our friendship.”
“You really married a girl because a boy broke your heart?” I asked, curious as hell about it all.
“Yes. I married my best friend because the love of my life married someone else. And if he was going to get married then so was I. Plus, Cam’s from Canada and her dad was here for work. After they died, she was afraid of being deported. I don’t know what was more stupid, thinking she was going to be deported back to Canada or me marrying a girl. And to think that eighteen is considered the age of consent,” he laughed.
I looked at Penn, his profile glowed, backlit by street lamps. “Do you regret it?”
“Even a child knows you shouldn’t marry someone you don’t love because you’re angry at someone else. I wouldn’t do it again but I don’t regret it.”
“Does your family know?”
Penn threw his head back and laughed. “Yes. Like everything else, they know way too much.”
We walked hand-in-hand down the street. It was a damn soap opera if you asked me. I wasn’t judging him, just trying to wrap my brain around it all. If it was anyone else, I would’ve thought they were lying to me, but this was Penn. I shouldn’t have been so trusting after what Lee had done but assuming the worst was exhausting and deep down, I wanted Penn to be everything Lee wasn’t.
Penn squeezed my hand in rapid succession. When I looked at him, he was watching me, curiously.
“Out with it.”
“I don’t know!” I laughed at the absurdity of it all. “You said you were in love with a him, so you’re gay? And you’ve been married for a long time so I’m guessing you’ve been gay for a long time? How has that not gotten around? That kind of thing doesn’t stay silent around here. I would’ve heard about it. Lincoln’s gay community is small and we hear everything. And Cam didn’t care that she was marrying a gay man? That seems unlikely. And your family? I don’t know, this is all so...crazy.”
Penn must have thought that my ramblings were cute because his smile was full of affection.“Are these questions you want me to answer or are you just rambling?”
It was my turn to laugh, then growl because he was being cute and it was a little frustrating.“I’d love for you to help me out here.”
“Well…” he swung our hands back and forth. “I knew I like boys from an early age, I just didn’t know what that meant. Eventually, I pieced it together thanks to cable tv. I didn’t know anyone else who was gay and had no clue what to expect. I wasn’t scared or anything, just unsure. It was never an issue because I didn’t like anyone until high school. That’s when I fell in love. He was younger and wildly unapproachable. The whole thing made me depressed to the point that my parents noticed. So, Mom sent Dad on a fishing expedition. Turns out all I needed was an opening to sing like a songbird. My poor dad. I didn’t realize how bad I needed to tell someone. They were great, of course. So yeah, I’ve always liked boys. And no, Cam didn’t care. She loved me as a friend, she got to gain her citizenship, and got to use me as a repellent against relationships.”
“How’d it stay a secret? How did I never know?”
“My family might be loud as hell but they’re discreet. At first it was a secret because I wasn’t ready to come out. Then it was a matter of being compassionate about my broken heart. Then I married Cam, which didn’t go over well. They love Cam but boy did they think I was throwing my life away. I don’t know, maybe I was. But after that, there was no reason to tell people. I wasn’t around much and when I was, I wasn’t exactly in market for a boyfriend. I don’t think very many people think Cam and I are married but there’s actually a lot of people who know I’m gay. They just know I’m not interested in being set up, so maybe they have no reason to discuss my sexuality?”
We made it back to our hostel/hotel where we had a small room with two twin beds waiting. We crossed the lobby, still holding hands, and made our way down the hall. I pulled the key card from my pocket and unlocked the door.
“Do they know about me?” I asked as I pushed past the door. The room was dated and simple but clean. And cheap.
The click of the door shutting was followed by a half scoff, half laugh of disbelief.“Do they know about you? Jesus Nash, what do you think?” He spun me around until we were chest to chest. He rested his hands on my hips and smiled. “I know my family is friendly, a little too friendly, but do you think my brothers go around and kidnap everyone? Force everyone to spend all summer on the lake? Make them come to lunch? Drag them out against their will? Didn’t you find it weird that they started bailing on lunches? How they kind of disappeared, leaving the two of us? Did you see other people showing up on Sundays?”
Yes, of course I found it strange. Now that he pointed it out, it was all so clear. It made perfect sense. I ran my fingers through my hair and pulled in frustration.“That’s why no one wanted Lee around.”
“It didn’t have anything to do with Lee, they were just protective of me. They actually liked Lee as a person, until they found out he cheated. They wanted me to be happy and they knew I liked you. I’m not sure what Ryan was hoping to accomplish by dragging you into my life. I knew you were happily married and I never asked them to interfere. I definitely never asked or expected them to exclude Lee. I never asked them to do anything. I was just happy to be your friend. In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d be standing in a hotel room with you. I dreamed—” he shook his head like he was trying to wake up from dream. “But never thought it would happen.”
My skin flushed when Penn slid his hand up my chest and hooked it around my neck, pulling me into him. His lips lingered as if he was giving me a chance to say no. Not likely. I finally had my answers. Part of me thought they were too easy and convenient, nothing that I was going through had been so easy, it made me nervous, but I trusted Penn. I had to. Not trusting him would ruin everything I wanted.
The only thing I would’ve said no to was letting the moment pass.
The kiss was light, our lips barely brushing at first, but it was enough to leave me wanting more. I spent my whole life being reserved, saying no, taking the high road. But I needed him. Wanted him. And he wanted me. Fuck if I didn’t need to be wanted—need someone to look at me the way he looked at me. Someone to desire me the way he desired me.
We stood there, in the middle of our hotel room, making out. One hand cupped my neck while the other slid down my back before squeezing my ass. I moaned. It had been so long. I played with the hem of his shirt, gradually slipping my fingers under the soft fabric so I could feel his warm skin. I couldn’t get enough of his stomach; firm but oh so soft to the touch.
Crazy how things had changed. A year ago, I thought he hated me. He looked at me with contempt in his eyes, annoyed and irritated by my presence. Oh, how wrong I’d been.
I was about to pull his shirt off when he gripped my wrists, stopping me. “Just...let me have this moment. I only get to unwrap you for the first time once, and I’m going to do it the right way. I’m going to savor every second.”
When he finished unbuttoning my shirt, he traced his fingers down my chest, slowly spreading the fabric. His fingers ghosted across my belly then back up my chest. My eyes rolled back when he buried his face in my neck, smelling me before tasting the skin from behind my ear to my shoulder. When he had his fill, he slowly pushed the fabric over my shoulders, not enough to make it fall, just enough to drive me wild.
He continued tracing my skin, inching the shirt off at an agonizingly slow pace. I practically cried when he finally let the damn thing fall to the ground.
“I have dreamed of undressing you for so long. I can hardly believe it’s happening.”His lips were warm as he kissed my cheek, my neck, my shoulder blade, and my shoulder while his fingers worked the waistline of my pants. He slowly unbuttoned my pants then pushed them down. “Fuck, you’re perfect.” His fingers ran down my stomach along the faint v line and my dick twitched in my boxers at his touch, the same way they did the night he had played with me.
He dropped to his knees and showered my stomach in kisses. I could feel his adoration in each caress. By the end, his face was nuzzled in my crotch. I ran my fingers through his dark hair. It took every ounce of willpower not to hump his face. I know it sounds crass but the temptation was strong. I took a deep breath and dropped my head back when his fingers started tugging on my boxers.
“You know what the hottest thing about you is?” he asked. I tried to answer, I swear, but I couldn’t find words. Words were too hard. Almost as hard as my dick.“It’s that you have no clue how hot you are. You go through life oblivious to those around you. You don’t see the way people look at you.”
He pulled the fabric down, only exposing my ass. “This ass has been my undoing. Running on the highway in black spandex or clad in tight jeans...it’s taunted me.”
Fuuuuuck. My breath caught as he kneed my ass checks. Each movement pressed my achingly hard cock against his face. The way he mouthed my cock over the underwear made me greedy with need. My fingers tightened in my hair as I gently thrust my hips. Penn nudged me back a few steps until I hit the bed then he stood up and, with a look of pure need, encouraged me to scoot up the bed.
Penn zeroed in on my bulging erection that was just for him. Then he slowly pulled the elastic down until I was freed. My dick slapped my stomach. I couldn’t remember the last time I was so hard it hurt. I lay there as he finished pulling every shred of fabric off until I was completely naked.
He licked his lips and spread my thighs, running his hands from my knees to my crotch.
“However hot you think I am, you’re hotter,” I said, sitting up I lifted his shirt over his head. “You’re breaking the thermostat.” He smiled back at me with those big brown eyes, his hair messy from the shirt being pulled off, his face and neck flush with arousal. He was crouched between my legs like a damn vision. “Your goddamn body is sculpted to perfection. You make me think the worst thoughts.” I reached for his pants and pulled them off with far less grace and sensuality then he’d done to me. He made me want dessert first because I was glutton for him.
Seeing him naked was my undoing. I whined and tossed myself backward on the bed. Seeing him nearly naked a few times hadn’t prepared me. He was fucking perfect. All solid, soft, and tan lined.
“It’s not fair,” I pouted. I actually pouted.Penn crawled over me until he covered my body; hovering but not quite touching. Fuck, my body reacted. A heat waved rolled through and my dick jumped. Penn laughed. Good for him.“Keep looking at me like that and—”I pulled him down until every inch of his skin was on every inch of mine.
The slow, leisurely thing he had going flew out the window. We rutted against each other. Everything about it was desperate and needy.
“I’m going to suck you,” Penn said between breathless kisses.
“I’m going to blow Nash Cushman. I’m going to suck your dick.”
Despite the sexual tension, I laughed. “Penn Knott is going to blow me. You’re going to suck my dick.”
“Hell yeah, I am.”
And he did. He blew my damn mind. There was nothing slow or sexy about it. It was wet, sloppy, and full of passion. He sucked me like it was the only thing he’d ever wanted.
“I’m getting close,” I warned, and I was. The pure desire in the way his mouth moved brought me close to the edge. He pulled off with a pop, pushed my legs to my chest, then leaned over and kissed me.
“Touch yourself. I want to see you bring yourself off.”
Having him hovered over me, his dick pressed against my ass, watching me touch myself at the same time that he touched himself was more than enough. It only took a few tugs before I came between us. A few seconds later Penn followed, he moved in time to cum on my stomach instead of my ass.
Penn collapsed on me for a moment as we tried to catch our breath, then he gently set my legs back down. He was careful not to put all his weight on me, though I could have handled it.
“I just came all over Nash Cushman.”
“Stop saying it like that,” I laughed, running my hands up and down his back, feeling the dips and curves.
“It’s true. I just watched Nash Cushman orgasm.”
“Stop,” I groaned, though him saying my name like I was a longshot, made me feel really fucking good.
There wasn’t a lot of room on the little bed but he slid off and propped himself up on his elbow. His other hand explored my stomach, down to my hip, and back up to my chest. I laid there and watched him as he studied and explored every inch of my body.
“You want this, right? Penn glanced at my hardening dick and laughed. “I’ll take that as a yes?”
“Sorry,” I blushed. Everything about him turned me on. “But yes, I want this.”
“Fuck, that’s good to hear. Really good to hear.”
“I have to be honest, though.”
Penn was still exploring my body with his fingers and it was really distracting. “Of course, I expect no less.”
“I don’t know how fast we can move. I may hate Lee and everything he did to me but that doesn’t mean I’m in the best spot to move on.”
Penn stilled, then moved until he was covering me again. He was warm and smelled good and I was sure I never wanted to be anywhere else in my whole life.
“You can have all the time you need and we can do this at your pace. Knowing you return my feelings is more than enough. I’m not asking for more than you can give and, trust me, I can wait as long as you need and go as slow as you want.”
I held his hips and ground myself into him.“What if I don’t want to go that slow?” I jerked my hips again, a little faster.
“Oh, I can go faster.”
I felt him harden against my hip as he began to rut me. I flipped him over and straddled his hips. I grabbed both of us in my hand and began to slowly work them. It was a little dry but the stimulation along with the visual, was more than enough. It didn’t take long to spill again.
We both passed out after that, curled into each other.
“C’mon Penn, I need both hands.”
“No, you don’t.” Penn stood behind me at the toilet. “I’d be happy to help if you can’t manage.”He started to unbutton my pants with one hand while his other hand intertwined with mine.
I had been nervous to leave the hotel because I didn’t know what to expect. I worried about what our relationship would look like in the light of the day. Who knew I’d lose a hand because he refused to let it go of it or that he’d try to help me pee?
I shoved his hand away and laughed. “I can do this myself, you pervert.”
He stood behind me as I peed; smelling my neck and rubbing my stomach. It was weird but kind of sexy at the same time. Can’t say Lee had ever done such a thing. “You’re ridiculous,” I laughed and tried to put myself away with one hand. Penn was more than happy to help when I couldn’t quite manage to get everything situated.
He let me wash my hands though but wouldn’t leave the restroom until we were hand and hand again. I shook my head with a smile as we exited.
I still had so many questions. The weather was warm, we were happy, walking in and out of shops, shopping for nothing in particular. It was now or never.
“So, who broke your heart?” I asked.
Penn’s face morph between nervous and embarrassed. “Who’s your straight crush?” he countered.
“No,” I shook my head because I wasn’t about to tell him. “Nope.”
“Okay,” he shrugged and went about his business.
I pulled his hand. “You’re really not going to tell me?”
“You’re really not going to tell me?” He countered, again.
“Okay,” I sighed. “But you’re not going to like it.” I leaned against the makeshift fence and faced Penn. “Okay,” I said, giving him one last chance to back out. He stood his ground. “My straight crush, the guy who I barely had a small nothing crush on was—Ryan.”
Penn looked at me in disbelief.“As in, my brother?” I nodded. He looked at me for a moment then turned away. He didn’t look happy but he didn’t let go of my hand either. He continued to look at merchandise though he didn’t seem very interested.
“So, are you going to tell me?” I asked, still curious who had been his first love. I had disclosed my end of bargin.
Penn pulled me along to the next vendor. “I don’t know. It’s kind of embarrassing.”
“Oh c’mon. It can’t be worse than me admitting I had a small, practically nothing crush on your brother.”
“It is when it turns out the guy that broke my heart was pining after my brother the whole time.”
It was my turn to stop and stare in disbelief.“What?!”
“Yep,” he looked away, a sad expression marring his beautiful face.
“Hey,” I pulled him back until he was facing me. “You like me all the way back in high school?”
“My senior year. You were an incoming freshman.”
“How did you even notice me?”
He was clearly irritated about the Ryan thing and would barely look at me. Pouty Penn was pretty damn adorable though, so I let it slide. “I went to a cross country meet and saw you. You were gorgeous. All blonde and lanky. It was after the meet, though, the way you walked around and encouraged your teammates. You radiated happiness, confidence, and beauty. I was hooked.”
“I was a baby.” I laughed. “A nobody. A freshman.”
“No.” The word was firm. “You were everything.”
“You were Penn Knott. You were like,” I tried to find the words. “A superstar senior.”
“And you were Nash Cushman. Even as a freshman you had everyone eating out of your hand. You were respected and adored by everyone. Not that you cared. You were in your own world. Doing your own thing, putting people to shame with how wonderful and thoughtful you were.”
“I don’t even—what?” I turned away and laughed. His version was so different from mine. “I’m so confused. You. Liked me?”
“Yes, me.” Pen glanced my way for a split second, a smile threatening to curve his lips. “I tried to talk to you like a million times. I even begged my cousin, Seth, to bring you to my wrestling meets so I could impress you. Clearly it worked since you love my brother.”
“I don’t love Ryan! I’d hardly even classify it as a crush,” I pinched him, demanding he acknowledge how ridiculous he was being. “I do remember Seth inviting me to watch wrestling and I remember watching you but—”
“You didn’t notice me. Yeah, I figured that out,” he frowned.
“Like you said, I was in my own world. It’s not like I ever expected someone like you to notice someone like me. Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I tried. You were always busy and something always came up every time I found the courage. It wasn’t until your junior year that I managed to approach you.”
I vaguely remembered Penn but seniors weren’t really on my radar. I didn’t know Ryan until after graduation and only noticed him because he was so out-going and hard to miss. Penn was much more reserved. For the life of me I couldn’t remember anything that happened my Junior year that involved Penn.
“Oh god, you’re really making me feel good about myself,” he groaned when he realized I had no clue what he was talking about. “It was Seth’s birthday. He had a bonfire up the old country road.”
“Oh,” I looked at him and smiled. “I remember that night! You gave me a peach Snapple.”
I wasn’t much of a party-goer but Seth was one of my best friends back then and begged me to come. I remember Penn offering me a non-alcoholic drink, never hackling me because I wasn’t drinking. We talked about College. He told me all about his classes and he asked about my plans. But the thing I most remembered about that night was...
“Oh…”That was the night things started between Lee and I. He was there, which was strange since he graduated and wasn’t friends with Seth, but we’d already been talking on Messenger and I was enamored the cute blonde who was studying to be a lawyer.
“Yeah, ‘oh’,” he frowned. “After that, it was all Lee all the time.”
“Why? Because you fell in love and devoted your life to someone? Don’t apologize for that. I wished it was me you noticed but I always commended your devotion to Lee. I never saw you so much as glance at anyone else and, trust me, I was watching. It’s so rare to have that level of commitment. I can only hope to earn a fraction of that someday.”
I clung to his shirt, speechless. Penn Knott, who had been in love with dorky ol’ me in high school, wasn’t bitter about me being with Lee. There was no resentment or jealousy, just admiration. I wasn’t worthy of such compassion and understanding. He was a saint and I needed to give him something. Some kind of assurance.
“I may not have noticed you or given you the time of day in high school. I may have even had a little itsy-bitsy tiny crush on your brother. But I’m not as perfect as you claim. In all the years I was with Lee, I never looked or thought about another man—until you. Suddenly, my mind kept slipping.”
Penn eyed me suspiciously. “I don’t believe you.”But he wanted to.
“You guys excluding Lee wasn’t the only reason I put a stop to hanging out. Yes, it was part of the reason, but the bigger reason was that I was terrified of my growing feelings for you. I wasn’t willing to put myself in a compromising position.”
Penn crossed his arms and tried to give me a stern look but he couldn’t contain the joy he felt knowing he had single handedly breached my impenetrable walls.“Yeah?”
“Oh hell yeah. How could I not?” I ran my hands up his muscled chest. “Not only were you incredibly sweet and understanding; funny and real. You’re so goddamn good looking it’s unreal.”
Penn glanced around the street. It was busy and probably not the place to get touchy-feely but what we had was new and I wasn’t concerned about anyone but him. A blush crept up his face and he wrapped his arms around my waist.
“When did you realize you were attracted to me?” He was fishing. Lucky for him I was easily baited.
“Fourth of July when we spent the day on the boat. You weren’t all that chatty but there was something about you. Plus, you were killer on the water. It’s hard not to be attracted to such raw talent.”
He blushed. “What about when we danced together?”
“Well, yeah, that was pretty hot. You know who else danced with me, Cam.”
“Yes, I remember.” His expression darkened. “I wanted to murder her. She knew how I felt about you and she was being shameless. I didn’t talk to her for a few days after that.”
“I actually felt kind of bad that your wife was kind of a slut.”
“It’s part of her charm. She can do anyone she wants except you. You’ve always been off-limits,” he growled, pulling me back into the street by my hand.
“It’s so weird. thought you didn’t like me for longest time.” I told him as we wandered around the city. Penn looked at me like I was crazy. “It’s true. You always looked annoyed when I was around. When we all went to dinner after the playoff game, you came late and the second you saw me, your whole demeaner changed and you barely looked at me.”
“The only people I was annoyed with were my brothers for inviting you everywhere. I could see what they were doing and it was embarrassing. There’s nothing like having the guy you like flaunted around in front of you. If I came off angry, it was because I didn’t know how to act around you. I was scared of being too obvious.”
“I promise, you were anything but obvious.”
Penn laughed. “Actually, I think you’re just blind. I was plenty obvious; you just weren’t paying attention.”
He was probably right. I really wasn’t paying attention. I had other things to worry about. I gripped his hand and walked a little closer. We were just walking now; the vendors were a think of the past.
“Why didn’t you tell me about Cam earlier?”
“Hmm,” Penn hummed. “Because I didn’t think you actually thought we were married. I thought you were joking. Then there’s the fact I worried what you’d think. You are unlike anyone I’ve ever met. You never would’ve made a rash decision like Cam and I did. What if you judged me for being so stupid? What if you thought to yourself ‘Man, I could never date someone like that.’”
“What if you looked at me and thought ‘Man, I could never date someone who couldn’t see what was going on right under his nose, what an idiot,’” I countered.
“That’s ridiculous,” Penn scoffed.
“Exactly. And you could’ve saved me a lot of confusion by slipping in the fact that you and Cam weren’t really married and you fancied men.”
“Hey Nash,” Penn said oh so causally. “Cam and I aren’t really married, not the way it matters. And I fancy you.”
I laughed and kissed Penn’s hand. Could he be any cuter?
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city. Tired of the hostels with their twenty-something loud patrons and thin walls, we opted for another hotel room with a bigger bed and private shower.
We made out a little and talked a lot. Then made out a lot and talked a little. We didn’t go much further than that.
Not returning Penn’s feelings had been hard on him. He wanted me to detail every second of the last nine months. He wanted me to recall every time my heart sped up because of him, how I felt when I looked at him, or each time I got a boner because of him. He was especially pleased if he thought any of these happened while I was with Lee.
Well, whatever he wanted, I was happy to give him. The biting of his lip and the blush the crept up his next was worth every bit of information I could muster.
Seeing as much as possible fell to the wayside. Everything was different now. The tides shifted from quantity to quality. We’d started the trip by covering the maximum distance possible in the least amount of time while staying in the cheapest hostels to not giving a shit about anything except the time we spent together.
So, we drove on. Penn’s arm around my shoulder and mine on his thigh. Only this time, there was no excuses. Everything was out in the open.
I still had questions and we still had a lot to talk about, but we’d get to that. One question/conversation at a time. That’s how these things worked.
Even a disgruntled email from Lee, threatening to fight the divorce because blah blah blah, didn’t bring me down. I simply forwarded them to my lady lawyer and also to his boss, Eric Chambers. He could pitch a fit if he wanted. The only thing left between him and I were things. I might’ve needed the money to survive but I no longer cared enough to carry that burden on my shoulders. The future I had waiting for me was worth more than what was left between us. I let the lady lawyer know she had my blessing to do as she pleased regarding the divorce. If Lee wasn’t going to be civil, then neither did I.