I have to be completely, absolutely, fucking insane.
I sunk the black ball effortlessly, raising a low whistle from the nameless man across the table. He rested his cue against the wall and fished through the pockets of his undersized shirt. The $100 bill came out of the wallet crumpled and stained. I wrinkled my nose.
"You're good," he said. "You're real good."
No, I thought. You're just real bad.
I took the money from his filthy fingers and started to walk away. He called out to me; asked me to join his billiards club, as if I actually wanted to spend any more time with an overweight, middle-aged man. I politely declined. I shouldn't have accepted his initial invitation, but I was a proud man. Men like him, with their false arrogance and disregard to personal hygiene made me sick. Beating him made me feel a little bit better.
There were supposed to be lots of endangered species in New Zealand. Hopefully he was one of them.
At the bar I ordered another martini. This country, wherever the hell is was, was too small, too boring, too unsophisticated. I'd been here less than five hours and I already hated it. I hated the people, I hated their accents, I hated the clean air and I hated, most of all, how impossible it was to get a good drink.
I plucked the olives out of the second worst martini I'd ever tasted. I hate olives. The smell, the taste, even the way they looked. I wondered how many martinis it would take to get me drunk, and whether or not the little olive stack next to my glass would be hint enough to the bartender not to bother with them.
I'd given up everything to move here - my degree, my family home, my brothers, my lovers. I'd enrolled in a low level foreign university in order to meet, and live with, my foreign mother who I'd most likely hate just as much as this god forsaken foreign country.
But at least everyone spoke English, and there was definitely something exciting about moving out of the confinements of home, away from the nagging of my so-called mother and the stifling routine I had to put on for her. And maybe it was worth it to infuriate my father as much at I was. Maybe, when the press finds out where I've gone, the scandal will be big enough to boot his sorry ass all the way back to the ground. There was no way I was going to let a lying bastard like him push me around anymore. No way in hell.
The thought made me smile, and I nearly forgot how bad the martini was.
The bartender cleared his throat. Probably about to ask me if he should take away my olives. No shit, I thought as I looked up. But the idiot didn't even glance at the olives. Instead, he placed a drink – I didn't have a clue what it was - next to my empty glass.
"I didn't order this," I said. And I sure as hell don't want it.
"It's from the gentleman over there."
I followed his gaze. Gentleman my ass, was my immediate reaction. He looked maybe seventeen at best, with tousled blond hair falling around his shoulders and an undefined jawline. He was leaning on his elbow and facing slightly away, showing off a very adolescent profile, and chatting up a woman who would have been pretty if her hair hadn't been bleached to near nonexistence, and if she hadn't been wearing a huge leather jacket and shorts so short she might as well not even be wearing them. The shorts were actually just a calculated guess, because I couldn't see any more of her legs than her lower thighs and knees, which were pulled up to her heavy chest on the bar stool.
I was about to tell the bartender to tip the drink away, when the blonde kid looked my way.
And god, was he gorgeous.
I've seen some good looking men. I've slept with more good looking men than you've probably ever seen. But I've never been so attracted to anyone as I was so immediately to this one. Maybe that was a sign that I should have stayed away, that I should have run for the hills (which wouldn't be difficult, with so many around) and never looked back. The fact that I couldn't tear my gaze away from those deadly blue eyes should have been a warning of the danger I was getting myself into. If I'd been smarter, I would have have gotten up and left. But this week was my week for doing stupid things.
I raised the glass and tipped my head. Thanks, the gesture said.
I want you, his eyes replied.
It wasn't my own vanity reading him like that because it wanted to, I was certain. It was years of experience. Years of going into bars and ordering men drinks, and having them look at me like that across the bar. Years of being desired even by the straightest, married men. There wasn't a single person I couldn't have, and I knew right then that I'd have this kid tonight. I could feel it.
But then he did something that shocked me more than anything else he could have done; more than anything else had done since I got on that plane. Something surprisingly more shocking than the low quality gin in my drink, the horrible bark-like soap in the hotel ensuite, or the sour stench of the well dressed gentleman, using the term lightly, at the pool table.
He looked away.
And it wasn't an embarrassed, 'I'm having dirty thoughts about you' lower of the head, either. It was the kind of 'not worth my time' look away, one that I did more often than not when someone caught my eye. He turned back to his long legged friend and continued their conversation as though he hadn't even seen me. I slipped my tongue between my teeth to stop myself grinding them.
Fuck. This country was fucked up. These people were fucked up. And being here made me royally screwed.
I raised the boy's cocktail to my lips. I smelled lime, vodka and something else. Something minty. I sipped it, and I immediately hated it. I didn't hate it because it tasted bad. I hated it because I loved it. Because the boy who bought it was more interested in breasts than he was in me. Because I'd been rejected for the first time in my life. By a fucking high school kid.
But what did it matter? I had a hundred lovers back home. People here were still human. They wouldn't be any different.
But maybe that's what attracted me to him; he was different. I finished the drink and looked back at him, but with a sudden panic I realized he was gone. His stool – and his biker girlfriend's – were empty.
I took a deep, quiet breath. That was okay, I told myself. I wouldn't see him again. I wouldn't come back to this bar – hell, I wouldn't have come back to this bar any way. Once I knew my way around the city better I'd be able to find high class bars and some pretty metro-sexual men who'd be all too willing to invite me back to their apartments. I'd make a name for myself among the rich pleasure seekers of the city. I'd make connections with the powerful.
And one day I'd build my empire and burn my father to the ground.
"Did you like it?"
The voice took me by surprise, tensing my hand against the drink. It was low, soft and a hot breath across the back of my neck. I caught the boy's reflection in the mirror at the back of the bar, and I held back a shiver. Those eyes weren't that of a teenage boy. They we're so blue, so bright, but so dark and adult and intense that I wanted to look away.
He sidled onto the stool next to me and leaned back on his elbow so that he could look at me, just as he'd done with the girl earlier (who, it seemed, had left). I looked at him, not because I wanted to, but because there was no way in hell I was going to be stared down by someone younger than me.
"I introduced it to the bartender here," he said, pushing his hair back across his forehead. "Pretty good, right?"
"It wasn't bad," I admitted wryly. "Not very sophisticated."
The kid laughed. "So what's a sophisticated guy like you doing an unsophisticated bar like this? Damn, I hate guys like you."
The words stung. I'd never been hated before by anyone who wasn't related to me. At least, no one's ever said it.
"If you liked it, buy me one too," he said before I could bite.
"Why didn't you just buy if for yourself to begin with?" I asked, thinking I was being clever. This way he had to admit that he wanted to talk to me because he was interested.
The kid smiled. "Because I'm underage."
1-0 to the high schooler.
I sighed, trying to give the impression that he was wasting my time, that I had better things to do than stay here and get some kid drunk. He just continued to smile at me – a half smile with only one side of his face that wasn't dark enough to be considered a smirk. He moved his face closer to mine, and this time I couldn't suppress the shiver.
"It's called a mint julep," he pressed.
And for some stupid reason, I ordered two. I took my time, thinking. Or trying to, but my mind kept washing over blank.
The drink tasted a little bit better than it had the first time. I watched carefully as he pressed his lips against the glass, catching a flick of his tongue as it met the alcohol. He caught my eyes over the rim and raised an eyebrow, and then lifting his head slightly, licked the side of his bottom lip. It was slow and lazy. I followed his adam's apple as he swallowed. I swallowed as well, and then looked away as I realised what he had done, distracting myself with my own drink. I didn't have to look at him to know he was smirking again.
After a moment's thought, and the fear of coming across as - heaven forbid - meek, I forced myself to look at him. He was still watching me, relaxed, with his head cocked slightly as he leaned against the bar.
"So how does an underage kid end up spending enough time at a bar to introduce drinks?" I asked, determined to put myself in control of the conversation. "Tight with the barman?"
The kid's smile widened. "Something like that," he said. His lips barely moved.
I was beginning to wonder of he was older than I'd first considered. He seemed much taller than your average high school senior, perhaps even as tall as me (I didn't like to consider the possibility of him being taller). His hooded, over-sized sweatshirt concealed most of his frame, but his calm and calculated demeanor seemed strikingly adult.
"So, Mr Sophisticated American, what's your favorite colour?"
He had caught me staring again. His eyebrow was cocked, and the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth again. He felt superior. He looked down on me. I could see it in his eyes, and it infuriated me. But god, if that only made me want him more.
They just didn't make kids like this back home.
"What," I scoffed, raising an eyebrow to mirror his, "that's the best small talk you can offer me?"
He leaned in closer, and I could smell that minty lime on his breath. "Don't you wanna know mine?" he whispered.
"No," I lied, "but you obviously want to tell me."
"Well, I reckon tonight it's going to be green." He breathed the last words so close to my mouth that our lips actually touched. It wasn't a kiss, but somehow I suddenly wished it was. I twisted my fingers around the edge of the stool as he pulled away.
Fuck. I was going insane.
I was used to playing this game, but I was always the seducer, the one who was a step ahead of the other person. The arrogant one who thought all they needed was a clever pickup line about someone's eyes to convince them that falling into bed together was inevitable. There was no way in hell I was going to let a kid like this seduce me. If I was getting laid tonight - and I sure as hell was – I'd be the one with the leash.
Something about thinking tough made me feel better. I stretched out my fingers and relaxed them again, and then did it again to calm myself down, careful to make sure he couldn't see.
But suddenly, the boy stood up and I felt that hard, cold clamp of a collar around my neck. He tilted his head towards the exit. It said 'either you follow me now, or you'll never see me again', and digging his hands in his pockets, he began to walk out.
I had to think fast. I'd never been in this situation before; not where I'd actually wanted to follow. But like I said, I was a proud man, and this kid was walking all over me like I was just some fresh meat to pound himself into. Like I wasn't anything special, just part of his daily routine.
Was this what Bennett called karma?
He was loitering outside when I got there, his hands still dug into the pockets of his hoodie as he watched the traffic.
"You're staying in the Hilton, right?" he asked before I could say anything.
"How the fuck do you know?"
He laughed carelessly. "You swear? I thought your rich parents would have beat it out of you by now. Or, I dunno, suspended your allowance or something." Taxi's didn't seem to be a hot commodity. There was one just sitting by the side of the road, and before I could reply he was already getting in.
That was going to get annoying.
"How old are you anyway?" he asked as I pulled the door shut, trying to think of a way to get the upper hand. "I'm guessing you're nineteen or twenty, in your first year of college. You like to think you're an adult, but really you don't know shit all about the world. You went to the best schools and you're probably set up for life. Although I can't work out why you actually came here, unless you're taking a gap year to travel the world. Or maybe you're trying to prove some kind of point."
Fuck, fuck, fuck. I didn't know how to reply. What a novelty!
He sniffed a laugh and then turned to the window and started to hum, obviously satisfied with my response. Eventually, knowing my pride had already hit rock bottom, I repeated "how did you know where I was staying?"
He laughed again. "That was the easiest part. Anyone could tell you you're a rich kid who doesn't know what he's doing here. So it's most likely you'd be staying at the closest, most expensive hotel."
I was immediately insulted by being called a 'kid', but I couldn't argue when he had already pointed out I wasn't a whole lot older.
I felt uncomfortably interested. Being led like this - it made me feel little, and I hated that, but there was some little part of me that didn't want to do anything to waver this boy's arrogance. It was what made the idea of him so overwhelmingly exciting.
He leaned back and, to my horror (and discomfort) put his head in my lap so that he was looking up at me.
"I reckon you're not as boring as you're making yourself out to be," he said, stretching his arms and closing his eyes, even though we were only about a minute from the hotel. "By midnight, I'll know all your secrets, and you won't have to volunteer a word."
The problem when someone else is trying to sound sexy and arrogant, and is actually doing a good job of it, is that you have to be three times as careful about how you reply. If you say something not as clever, you either look stupid or like you're trying too hard. The best option for me was to pretend I wasn't listening. To act like the responsible adult who wasn't going to rise to the child's debate. Because for some reason I just couldn't think of anything clever to say.
I caught the driver's expression in the rear-view mirror. He looked appropriately uncomfortable, and couldn't meet my eyes as I paid him. There was something almost disturbingly satisfying about getting those kinds of reactions from people. I smirked at the kid as I walked past him and into the hotel. This was my domain.
The boy looked really out of place in the Hilton, so I pictured him in a suit and just pretended he had a haircut. Not that his haircut wasn't sexy, but it wasn't the kind of haircut I should find sexy. Or even normally would. He laughed at the smooth female voice of the elevator ("as if we'd have forgotten which floor we were going to when you only just pressed the button,") and sneered at a group of business men passing us in the hallway.
Although it was first class, he didn't seem very impressed by my room.
"What a waste of money," he spat. I wondered what he'd have spent it on. Drugs or alcohol, probably.
"Not staying here for long?" he added, noticing my bags were still packed. They were arranged at the foot of my bed. Only my laptop sat on the bedside table, charging.
"Just the night," I said, half hoping he'd say something like 'that's a pity," as though one night wouldn't be enough.
"Huh," he said, sounding bored. The moment I put my phone down, he picked it up and flicked it open. "Bet this cost a lot," he said, lying back on the bed and holding it over his head. It had, but we both knew I didn't need to confirm it. "Who are they?"
I knew he was talking about the phone's wallpaper.
"My brothers, Bennett and Laurent."
He looked at them for a moment, before propping himself back up on his elbow and tossing me the phone. I caught it, but didn't put it down. I'd never felt this nervous before. I felt uncomfortable, sweaty, clammy. He didn't want to be seduced, that much was obvious. I didn't particularly want to be seduced either. At least, most of me didn't. But there was a part of me, a part that was fighting pretty hard, that was pretty curious.
If it was just a matter of pride then I don't think I'd be so worried. It's not like I'd ever see him again, and even if I did, I could deny it. But it was more than that. I think I was scared, just a little bit.
I'd never been topped before.
And it hurt.
It's funny how he started off underneath me. He said he wanted me to take a picture of him shirtless on my bed. "So you can show it to your American sweethearts back home and make them jealous." But before he even finished the third button of his shirt (I was a little surprised he was wearing a button up beneath the sweatshirt), he grabbed my tie – I dropped the phone- and in one deft pulled me onto him. The bed creaked beneath us.
"I've changed my mind," he said quietly, "you take it off."
So I did. And damn, he was better built than I thought. His body was lean and tanned. It caught me off-guard; his delicate face had left me imagining something scrawnier, weaker – something I could toss around. I flushed at his smirk as he caught my expression. He was flecked with thin white scars. The most notable one ran in a diagonal line, inches below his right nipple towards his bellybutton. I pretended to be distracted by it, tracing a finger down it and whistling softly.
"You must be into some pretty hard sports," I said.
"Something like that," he muttered, and then he grabbed me and suddenly we'd switched positions, and I started sweating like a scared little virgin girl. Every crinkle of the bed-spread felt hard against my back, his hands burned against my wrists, and the humming of the laptop seemed extraordinarily loud. I caught my breath quickly and tried to relax.
"Impressed?" he asked, smirking.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not weak. If my father had been the physically abusive kind I'd have put him in hospital by now. But I was an intellectual. With wealth, good looks and a perfect memory, I didn't need brawn. I instantly knew that if I got into a fight with this kid I wouldn't stand a chance.
"I should tell you my name," he said decisively. "You don't talk much, but you'll soon run out of swearwords to scream." He started tracing something on my chest. It tickled uncomfortably through the fabric. T and then E. "Teal."
"Alex," I muttered, getting more nervous by the second. I wanted to laugh at his name, but I couldn't find the humor.
Instead, Teal laughed. Or scoffed, actually. "Well that's boring," he said. "I was expecting something more old fashioned. Like Henry."
"Henry?" I exclaimed in disbelief.
"Or If you want something more classy; Darcy, Claude, Michael, Louis. I like those names too much, though, so you can't have them. But that's not to say I don't like Henry at all."
"I appreciate your generosity," I said sarcastically, but there was something about the conversation that made me relax. He grinned in a way that almost made him look childish.
And then he took off my clothes. He paused with a curious expression at my nipple piercing as he unbuttoned my shirt, and then shook his head and laughed, before ripping the last two buttons off. I heard them bounce somewhere against a wall. He left the tie on, though, which I really didn't like. It reminded me of my leash analogy.
He was more gentle than I expected (although that's definitely not to say he was gentle) and I think I was rougher than he expected. We fought for the position and I discovered a few more scars on his neck and shoulders in my determination to distract myself from the pain. There was a tattoo there too, on his shoulder blade, but I didn't dwell on it. I probably gave him a few new scars, and he was right, I did swear a lot. I think he swore a couple of times too.
But it wasn't bad.
Fuck, I'm under-exaggerating. Screw my pride; it was amazing. Oh, it hurt. Hence the swearing. Woman say childbirth is painful, but I can't imagine a pain worse than that. But once you get over that, the pleasure is just as blinding. I don't think I'd want to bottom all the time, or often, or even any time soon, but I could do it again. I could definitely do it again.
Afterwords I couldn't move. While he sighed in the afterglow of the pleasure, one arm wrapped almost possessively around my shoulders, pain rushed back into my hips and down my spine. I groaned and put a hand up to my face to hide my expression. I suddenly felt an overwhelming amount of empathy for all the virginities I'd ever taken.
I wondered if I'd be in any condition to meet my mother tomorrow. Perhaps I should put it off another day... she wasn't expecting me until next week anyway. It's funny how I came all the way here to meet – and live with – a woman I don't know the first thing about. I don't know what class she is, what she does, whether or not she remarried or even why she let my father take me. Actually, it wasn't funny, it was stupid, but laughing at it made me feel better, and thinking about it distracted me from my back.
I looked over at Teal. His eyes were closed and his mouth was parted slightly. Even breathing. Was he asleep already? The sweat was still drying in his hair, but I was in an awkward position to reach over and brush it away without moving my back.
Why was I even thinking about touching some boy's hair while he slept? I'd never done that before.
Fuck. Who cared.
It took me a while, but I think I fell asleep eventually. Hell, I must have, because I didn't notice Teal move.
And when I woke up, he was gone.
Reviews make my day. And inspire me to write more!