The guy in 20A had red hair, dyed red hair even; nothing that colour could be natural, Bryan thought. He was tall too, as far as Bryan could tell from the cramped airline seats, and -oh-, he had the most piercing green eyes ever once he looked away from the window. The rest of his features were handsome enough, even without those striking eyes, and Bryan found himself stuttering for the first time in his career as an airline host.
"Hi. C-can I get you anything to drink?"
The guy turned towards him fully then, and gave him a winning smile. Belatedly Bryan noticed the woman in the seat next to him, tall again, almost as tall as the guy himself, and dark-haired. When he spoke the guy had a nice deep voice, with a perfectly polished English accent. He spoke with the quiet confidence of someone expecting to be obeyed. Management then, even if Bryan wouldn't have placed him a day over twenty-five.
"Hi, listen, I'm a bit of a nervous flyer, I don't suppose you've got a shot of brandy or rum have you?"
If he was nervous he hid it well, though Bryan suspected that he saw the man's hand trembling slightly.
The spirits were for first-class passengers only, though the plane was less than half-full on this flight, and first-class was only at thirty-three percent capacity; they wouldn't miss a drop of rum, he decided, and besides- the guy was damn hot.
As he returned with the small bottle of spirits and a plastic glass he took the opportunity to study the guy some more. He was immaculately dressed, in a thin cotton shirt and pressed linen trousers. Everything about him supported Bryan's original deduction that he worked in management, except the hair. The hair was a mystery-he didn't look the type to dye his hair, especially not as shocking a colour as that, though looks could be deceiving.
Rob had delighted in telling him that he judged people too quickly. At the time, bitter and insecure from the breakup, he'd believed it to be Rob's way of saying he was bitchy, now, a year later, he had come to realise that not everything was an insult. Besides, everyone had their faults.
As he handed the small plastic glass to the guy he commented,
"Those are meant for upstairs only, but I don't think they'll miss the one."
The guy's smile told him he'd made the right decision.
"Thanks. I owe you one."
Belatedly he realised he'd not offered the woman next to him anything, and, feeling slightly guilty asked, "can I get her anything?" gesturing to the woman, whose dark curls were currently resting on the guy's shoulder as she slept.
The guy gave him another one of those winning smiles and shook his head. "It's fine, she'll let you know what she wants when she wakes up"
As he made his way down the aisle a smaller, blonde steward nudged him, "flirt."
"So? He was flirting right back."
"He's taken, if you hadn't noticed Bry."
Bryan shook his head, "Christ Dar, it's a bit of harmless fun."
Halfway into the flight the plane hit a patch of turbulence, and Bryan took his seat, relieved to be off his feet, even on a quiet flight. His seat was opposite that of the red-haired guy, a fact he was both uncomfortable and extremely pleased about. As the flight drew on, and the woman slept he found that pleased had become the predominant emotion. The guy - his name was Jon- was friendly and witty, charming company indeed.
At the end of the flight Bryan stood at the rear doors, thanking the passengers as they left. "Thank you for flying Antilles Air, we hope you enjoyed your flight."
He looked up to meet Jon's piercing green eyes. "It's been great, thank you. Maybe I'll see you around the hotel?"
Had that been everything then Bryan might have been content to continue on his set course, flying back to the UK then onward to the next far-flung destination. Though he couldn't say really, because the invitation in Jon's eyes was too obvious, the way he held Bryan's handshake a beat too long, his thumb rubbing circles on the back of Bryan's hand too enticing.
The stewards were entitled to spend some time in the resorts they flew to as part of their holiday allowance, a sort of shore leave. Since Rob had left Bryan had seen no reason to stay anywhere, keen to be moving on to the next country, searching for something he didn't even understand any more.
The in-flight manager Leila was a petite half-Italian bombshell who had all the heterosexual men, and in fact all the men under twenty-five terrified of her. Being in neither of these groups Bryan had no reason to fear her, and had, in fact, always maintained a close friendship with her. He had no reason to tell her his motivation for such a trip; a year without breaks takes a heavy toll, and Bryan was long overdue for a holiday.
A lie however, even a simple lie of omission, didn't feel right, and Bryan found himself telling her the whole story. Sparks of worry flickered through her brown eyes,
"Jesus Bryan, you know it's a couples' resort, right? That even if you're right and your Mr tall-and-gorgeous does share your inclinations- which I don't doubt, by the way, I know you - even so, there will probably be another equally tall-and-gorgeous guy accompanying him."
Bryan hung his head, "He's with a woman."
Concern flitted through the diminutive brunette's eyes. "Shit. So you're going to give up two weeks chasing after a quick roll in the hay with a closeted married man?"
He'd expected nothing more, yet his stomach still sank at the uneasy revelation. Leila's expression softened at his dismay, and she continued, "Good luck Bryan. You'll fly back on the 20th."
He boarded the first bus to the resort, eager to get to the hotel, to change out of his flight uniform. Taking the seat next to the window he occupied the time until the bus was full by gazing out, taking in his surroundings.
As the door slid home, signalling the start of their journey a familiar voice greeted him warmly. Jon sank into the seat next to him, followed by his wife. The two exchanged a few muttered words between themselves and then the woman retrieved a book from her bag and began to read. Bryan could read the name Maeve Binchy on the pastel-pink spine.
Jon turned to him with another of those megawatt smiles, and started talking, asking questions and volunteering information. As the journey progressed Bryan learnt that he was indeed a manager, and that at twenty-eight he was a year older than Bryan, and several older than he'd assumed. He'd also learned that Jon was intelligent and easy to talk to. And seen that he was taken.
At the resort he was too tired by the heat, the flight and the chance to finally relax that he fell asleep on the ivory sheets of the four-poster bed in his room before dinner, with no further glances at the handsome young man he'd followed to the resort.
He didn't expect to see a shock of red hair amongst the crowd at breakfast, the coincidences needed for such a meeting too great, though he was still disappointed when he couldn't make Jon out through the crowd. A glance around the restaurant confirmed Jon's absence, so after collecting his oversized beach towels at the wooden hut by his room he headed to the pool.
The bar was a hulking wooden structure which sat half-in and half-out of the water. Palm leaves served as both roof and decoration and the tiles on the bar and floor were a faded and obscenely shiny green colour. Though one glance at the pale redheaded man sat at the centre of the crowd around the bar ensured Bryan couldn't really fault the picture in front of him at all.
For a minute Bryan kept his distance, admiring Jon's toned build, the pale skin and captivating green eyes which sparked as he told joke after joke. Then Jon noticed him, and waved him over, making introductions as soon as Bryan was within earshot. "Michelle this is Bryan-remember I was talking about him?"
Bryan stuck out his hand, "Hi Michelle, nice to meet you."
The look Michelle gave him in return suggested it was anything but nice, though Bryan refused to say anything. Eventually the slender brunette extended her hand and shook Bryan's.
As the crowd around them gradually dispersed Jon and Bryan sat at the bar, drinking cocktails and chatting while Michelle retired to her sun lounger. Time flew by, and before he had time to realise how late it was the bartender was leaning over, informing both that he had to close at 5pm.
"Jonny, why don't you invite your friend-"
"Bryan" Jon interceded.
"Sure, why don't you invite Bryan for dinner?"
The barely-disguised distaste in Michelle's voice and the soft, but persistent resistance in Jon's own brought flashbacks of the same tone, the same phrase from his mother. Only once had he risen to the challenge provided, and brought a 'friend' home. He'd been mortified by his mother's blatant disapproval that her son was not growing up to be the man she'd expected him to become.
He looked up, prepared to shake his head and refuse, politely of course, to spare them both the embarrassment, when Jon stunned him by saying, "Sure. That okay with you Bryan? Eight-thirty?"
Later, on the walk to the restaurant Bryan commented, "I never really had a choice did I?"
Jon frowned, the earlier conversation forgotten.
"About dinner." Bryan prompted. Jon's eyes sparkled as he replied,
"Of course not. I only asked so you felt involved in the decision-making process."
Bryan gave Jon a friendly shove as they approached the double doors.
The elegantly-dressed Latina girl on the front desk flashed them a forced smile and asked for their room numbers and surnames.
"The room's one-eleven, and the names Hollis-Smith and Warten."
Not married then, Bryan's brain noted happily.
"Doscientos veinte, el nombre Lopez."
The smile that provoked was genuine this time,
"¿Hable usted español señor?"
The two chatted for a short while, while they waited for a table, the girl delighted to find someone who spoke her native language, Bryan equally elated to find he could still remember his father's lengua madre.
Dinner was awkward for two of the three at the table. Michelle glared at Bryan, and shut down any attempts to make conversation, answering questions from both men only with short, terse replies. Bryan sat, uncomfortable with the tension avoiding eye contact with anyone other than the fish on his plate, only glancing up to speak to Jon when the opportunity arose.
Only Jon seemed to be having fun, flirting outrageously with Bryan and almost causing him to choke on his meal several times by sliding his foot slowly up Bryan's calf. When the meal was finished Michelle wasted no time in leaving them outside the restaurant.
"She's tired," Jon explained as the brunette stalked off in her killer heels. Bryan could only murmur his agreement as he watched, the tension subsiding as the elegant woman drew further away from them.
With Michelle out of earshot Jon leaned towards him and suggested that the two of them head to the bar for a few drinks.
"After all," he added with a wink, "we don't need our beauty sleep just yet, do we?"
Bryan agreed readily, happy to have longer with his new friend and thrilled by Jon's flirtatious tone. At the bar Jon ordered two cocktails and then led Bryan to a table away from the noise of the main stage. Bryan's stomach did somersaults at the sight of the secluded booth they'd arrived at.
Without Michelle there the conversation flowed easily, starting with things neither man had learnt during the eight-hour flight of the previous day. Bryan asked Jon about his work, and Jon responded with a question about how long Bryan had worked as an airline host. On their third drink of the night the conversation veered towards where each man lived; Jon, Bryan was unsurprised to find, stayed in a flat in the upmarket district of East Leyton, though when Bryan gave his address as Litterworth Jon sucked in a breath.
"Wow, that must be hard on you. Not the nicest of places."
Nor was it the most tolerant of districts, which had made things more difficult in the past. Bryan had been intending to move for several months now, but since Rob's departure he'd not had the emotional energy to look for another place. He barely spent any time at his small studio flat as it was, and he had no time for dating, so there was no problem.
Though in his semi-drunken state it took him a few beats too long to realise just how quickly and accurately Jon had figured him out. It took him almost as long again to decide that had Jon not been on holiday with a woman he'd have figured Jon out just as quickly.
Soon the conversation moved on to safer topics, and Bryan found himself laughing at Jon's tales of schoolboy stunts in a strict public school. In between his own tales of childhood woes and delights Bryan flirted with the idea of asking about Jon's relationship with Michelle. Though there wasn't an answer he wanted to hear, so the thought passed quickly, chased away with a second shot of something which burned his throat.
The night flew by over cocktails and spirits, and the bar closing at 3am came as a shock to Bryan and an affront to the more intoxicated Jon. Bryan had not spent nearly as long as he would have liked with the alluring man, yet he dutifully helped his companion to his feet and headed towards Jon's room. Palms lined the walkway between the main bar and Jon's room, and Bryan's own unsteady gait landed them both against tree trunks several times, laughing helplessly like schoolchildren. At this distance, even despite the amount of alcohol he had consumed over the evening, Bryan couldn't help but notice that Jon's green eyes were dotted with honey-coloured flecks, and that his lips were flushed pink, and far too close for comfort.
Even drunk Jon was enticing, and good company too; flirty and fun. Bryan half-wished his conscience would allow him to lead Jon back to his own room for the night. Half way to his room though Jon stopped.
"This is the way to my room."
Bryan sighed, he'd dealt with drunks before, but always when he was sober. It was surprisingly less fun when he was also drunk.
Jon turned to him, startlingly clear-eyed all of a sudden, and continued, "seriously Bryan, can I crash in your room tonight? I'm not sure I want to head back to my own room just yet."
Bryan blinked in surprise. His trousers seemed to have shrunk several sizes in a few seconds, and there were parts of him which really liked the idea of Jon staying overnight in his room, if only to sleep off a hangover, but Michelle. Even intoxicated his conscience wouldn't allow that, it seemed, so he took a deep breath and said in a strangled voice, "I don't think it's such a good idea. I'll see you in the morning though, right?"
Jon looked at him, eyes large and wounded for a split second, and then nodded. He leaned forward to embrace Bryan, startling him out of his drunken haze long enough to feel the flush of arousal which spread through his body at the other man's touch.
"Michelle's a beautician."
The brunette nodded, dark curls bouncing and shining in the sunlight.
"Yes. And Jon lets me practice on him sometimes if he's feeling particularly kind or drunk."
Bryan looked at the redhead with a smirk, "That explains the hair."
The blush that provoked looked particularly attractive on Jon's pale cheeks, Bryan thought.
"Yes. I was drunk then. I'm rather a lightweight I'm afraid."
"You are." Michelle assured him. "You're very suggestible when you're drunk."
And with that she shot a black look at Bryan, who wanted instantly to protest his innocence, to deny having done anything but walk Jon back to his room safely.
"I am," Jon came to his rescue swiftly; "lucky I've got such trustworthy friends then, aren't I?"
And protesting his innocence didn't seem quite so important suddenly, as Jon's long fingers landed on his thigh, stroking softly.
Snorkelling? Bryan shook his head, remembering Jon's aversion to flying.
He tried again.
"You're better with boats than planes I take it?"
Jon laughed, a rich happy sound, and explained that he was much better with boats. "I took my PADI certification in the Caribbean a few years ago, it involved a lot of time on boats actually-if I wasn't ok with boats beforehand I definitely was afterwards!"
Bryan laughed, "So it's just 'planes then?"
"Just 'planes. yes. You see-," Jon paled, waved his hands, then evidently decided against whatever he had been going to say. "You know what, never mind-"
"No, go on." Bryan prompted.
"Well, I always thought that if anything happens to the boat then I can swim, but I can't fly if anything was to happen to the 'plane, so that's my reason."
Bryan laughed; "I'd never thought of it that way, but you do have a point."
Michelle, as it turned out, was not as happy to be on the boat as Bryan or Jon. Jon had explained that she suffered from seasickness, but seeing the usually unruffled Michelle pale and shaking shocked Bryan into full first-aider mode. "Put your head between your knees, like that, yeah. Now take deep breaths."
Michelle made no comment as Bryan manhandled her into a brace position, and sat motionless for the remainder of the boat journey, even refusing to get into the water at the small coral reef they found. Jon and Bryan both entered the water with glee, and Jon's happy laugh once in the water easily overrode any guilt Bryan felt at leaving Jon's girlfriend? fiancée? on the boat to feel unwell.
On the boat for the return journey Michelle resumed her position, more docile than Bryan had ever seen her, and he felt a wave of sympathy for the woman even as Jon threaded his fingers through Bryan's own. The rest of the journey he spent rubbing Michelle's back in a soothing gesture, and ignoring the twin flares of guilt and desire from the small smiles Jon flashed him every time he glanced Bryan's way.
It never occurred to him to question exactly why Michelle, obviously uncomfortable on the boat, had joined them on their trip- of course she'd want to be with Jon. Bryan knew he would have done the same thing.
Somehow, Bryan reflected on his fifth day of the impromptu holiday, it had become a routine to spend his days with Jon. Michelle didn't seem to mind so much anymore, she even joined them on occasions. The icy disapproval she had shown towards Bryan had faded slightly and though he didn't believe they would ever be best friends, they were learning to be civil for Jon's sake.
He was no relationship expert-the disaster with Rob had brought that home quite clearly, yet he couldn't comprehend Michelle's new-found ambivalence. He didn't understand why the short-tempered brunette would allow him to spend so much time with Jon, when he clearly wanted Jon, and could swear the other man wanted him just as much. Though he'd never truly understood girls, he'd realised where his preferences lay early on in life and steered well clear of the fairer sex ever since. So he put Michelle's change of heart out of his mind, grateful to be able to spend his days with Jon without any ill-will.
Dinner that night was a pleasant affair. Michelle was in high spirits, recounting embarrassing anecdotes about Jon, and Bryan was surprised to find himself genuinely enjoying her company. Jon's flirting was more subtle, though still obvious to Bryan at least, but Michelle seemed able to ignore it.
Half way through the meal Bryan left the table to head to the washroom. On his way he noticed the pretty Latina waitress he'd spoken to before, and nodded a greeting to her. In the bathroom he'd just turned to the dryer when someone drew up behind him. He turned, meeting Jon's gaze with his own, feeling Jon's breath on his neck. It was hard to hide the reaction that sent through his body, as Jon stepped closer.
"God Bryan," Jon murmured, "I've been wanting to do this since I first saw you."
Bryan tensed, but relaxed into the touch as Jon's hand came up to cup his cheek, and then he was being drawn closer, feeling Jon's breath brush his lips, aroused beyond words as their lips met in a hesitant, chaste kiss.
Bryan managed to lose himself in the moment for a few blissful seconds before the reality of the situation came rushing back to him with all the force of a sledgehammer. Michelle. Jon's hand was snaking itself beneath his shirt, lighting fires under his skin when his fingers came into contact. Bryan took a deep breath, asked himself if it was truly wrong if Jon wanted it just as much, then pushed Jon away.
"Don't you think this is a bad idea?" he panted, strangely unwilling to let go of Jon's shirt even as he pushed the taller man back.
Confusion, then frustration flickered through Jon's eyes, before he gave a tight smile and agreed.
As Bryan left the washroom the pretty Latina waitress frowned at him.
"Señor" she chided, "él tiene novia."
His blood ran cold at her warning. He hadn't realised he was so obvious.
The rest of the night passed in a blur of alcohol. Jon quiet and withdrawn, Bryan trying to forget just how badly they had both messed up.
Bryan woke the next morning his head pounding with the remnants of an excess of alcohol, though despite the whirring of the air conditioning he didn't feel cold. In fact, he reflected, he felt decidedly cosy. In the year since Rob had left him, without warning or explanation he'd felt an inexplicable need to be imoving on, /i working all the hours he could manage and flying both short and long haul on hours notice sometimes. The few disastrous dates he had managed to find time for had been doomed from the start, condemned by Bryan's unpredictable work schedule and the simple fact that he didn't know what he wanted anymore. The experience of sharing his bed with a willing body had been a rarity, mornings like this, still in the embrace of the same warm body non-existent.
As Jon shifted behind him he couldn't help a sigh of contentment. It had been so long. A fresh wave of nausea swept through him at the thought of Michelle in her room, probably wondering where Jon was. And how hollow a revelation was it that he'd finally decided what he wanted when Jon belonged to someone else?
Jon's voice was husky, making Bryan's morning erection twitch. He felt a surge of panic override the lust however, wondering what exactly had happened the previous night, only relaxing once he felt the brush of Jon's cotton boxer shorts against his back. Nothing untoward then, Bryan shifted subtly, not wanting the added temptation of feeling Jon's own excitement pressed against him. Michelle's he reminded himself, not mine.
"So you should be. Do you always follow strangers home like last night?"
"You're not strange-wait you were listening to Chesney Hawks last night. Okay, I take it back, you are strange."
"I like the one and only."
"So do many people, I didn't see anyone else dancing though."
"Point taken" Bryan conceded.
"For the record, you're the first strange man I've followed home in a while."
"Glad to hear it"
Jon grinned at him, eyes tired but sparkling."So, what did we do last night?"
Bryan reflected for a moment, remembered beer, wine, cocktails and karaoke. Remembered Jon singing Daniel.
"We got drunk, you sang karaoke-quite well I might add, for someone so drunk-and then you followed me to my room"
Now Jon's eyes held a hint of mischief, "Anything else?"
A kiss .Flashes of memory shot through his head at dizzying speeds. Walking back to his room, the heat of Jon's body pressed up against his own. The friendly banter and harmless flirting shifting to something so charged it was almost painful. Images of his lips meeting Jon's halfway, Jon's tongue hot and insistent against his own, fumbling with the key until it gave way and falling into the room. More nausea, Michelle didn't deserve this from either of them.
"No, nothing else."
Jon's eyes flickered with disappointment. "Okay. Mind if I take a shower?"
His dick certainly didn't, Bryan realised. "Sure."
The shower cubicle was tiled blue white and silver, and separated from the pristine white bathroom by a frosted glass partition, which was see-through enough to allow Bryan a glimpse of pale skin, toned abs and fine, dark hair. He turned away, ostensibly to brush his teeth, as his mind replayed images of the kiss over and over again: Jon's body moulding to his own, Jon's lips, their tongues clashing. They'd stumbled through the door on luck alone, no attention to their surroundings as they kissed. Though once in bed they'd both been too tired and drunk to do anything but fall asleep entwined around each other, a fact Bryan was grateful for now. Even if the sensation of the taller man behind him had made him practically desperate to turn round and take Jon into his mouth, wake him slowly with soft swipes of his tongue.
Jon left the shower, dark blue towel slung low on his pale hips, and Bryan's heart skipped a beat. "Hi" he smiled.
"I feel much better now."
Bryan shook his head to clear the fog of lust and smiled, though his smile felt hollow. "In that case we should head to breakfast."
Jon's brow furrowed, his expression unreadable for a second before he turned and headed back to the bathroom.
"Sure," though his voice sounded hoarse, and when he returned fully dressed the atmosphere was awkward. Guilt perhaps, Bryan reasoned.
The confrontation with Michelle Bryan had been expecting took a couple of days to materialise. Michelle was cool towards him for the interim period, though he noticed that she was always very deliberate about not leaving Jon alone with him. Bryan had watched Michelle carefully over the course of his stay, and he'd noticed the small endearments she used, the heat in the glances she threw Jon's way. Theirs was not an unhappy relationship, he deduced.
A couple of days passed in this nervous state, and Bryan was more than ready for something, anything, to change when Michelle finally cornered him. After breakfast Jon had left to check his e-mails, and Bryan expected Michelle to leave too, as had been her habit. When she didn't immediately leave Bryan glanced over to find her glaring at him. His insides twisted with guilt. She knows.
"Bryan" Her voice was calm, though her eyes flashed with fury.
"Michelle," he countered, sounding decidedly less unaffected, even as his stomach rolled with anticipation.
Though unexpectedly Michelle's demeanour changed, her shoulders dropped and she sighed. "I wanted to ask, a favour really. I know you and Jon have become friends, but I was hoping that we would- that we would get to spend some time together."
Bryan relaxed, she didn't know exactly, though this was almost as bad. He understood, of course. He'd want every waking second he had with Jon to be alone, but Jon belonged to Michelle, and now she was asking him calmly and civilly to leave them alone. What more could he do but obey?
In the morning Bryan ordered room service. He knew he'd be far too tempted to seek Jon out in the restaurant if he were to go there. The rest of the day passed slowly; books couldn't hold his interest and nor could the TV. At lunch he ate quickly, and then fled, wanting to avoid seeing Jon and Michelle.
The hotel had given him a room in a prime location, which unfortunately meant that many holidaymakers had to pass by his balcony to reach the main bar. Happy voices drifted up through his window as he tried in vain to concentrate on his book. Eventually he gave up, not wanting to head to the bar if Jon wasn't there, and feeling lonelier than he had since the start of his holiday, he drew his blinds closed and fell into a restless sleep.
The next morning Jon caught up with him after breakfast, half-running to keep up.
"Bryan, what happened to you last night? I thought we had plans."
Hurt flickered through his green eyes, and Bryan's resolve, weak at the best of times, wavered and shattered. Michelle wouldn't need to worry, they could just be friends, right? It would be stupid to ruin such a good thing by complicating it.
"Sorry." he offered, "Work stuff."
Jon's expression softened to a smile, "Well then, Michelle and I were heading to the botanical gardens today. Want to come?"
As if you could resist, his brain scoffed at him."Sure."
As they stepped off the bus in front of the iron gates of Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens Bryan was beginning to rethink his decision to wear trousers. A wave of thirty-three degree heat hit him head on after the air-conditioned sanctuary of the minibus closed its doors. Jon looked cool as ever in a thin linen shirt and cut-off jeans while Michelle stood to one side, radiant in a short yellow sundress.
Half way around the park the three were accosted by a small fragile-looking woman brandishing an oversized camera. "Hey, you guys are in my group right? Staying at Paradise isle?"
"Yeah.." Jon's expression was wary, though if the photographer noticed she didn't comment.
Instead she trilled "fantastic" and set to manhandling the two into romantic poses in front of the picturesque sites in the park. "Excellent, you look lovely. Now how about a kiss?"
The wariness returned to Jon's expression in force, "I don't think-"
Though he was cut off by Michelle sighing, "oh don't be silly!" and flinging her arms around his neck to plant a kiss on his lips.
Bryan turned away, stomach rolling.
He was several minutes further on when Jon finally caught up to him, staring at a waxy reddish flower with an intensity it barely deserved.
"Hey, wait for me mate."
"I thought you were busy." The words came out more sarcastic than Bryan had intended, and Jon looked taken aback by his outburst.
"Sorry," he muttered at Jon's shocked look, "the heat's probably just getting to me."
Though Jon smiled, and waved away his apology and suddenly everything was alright again in Bryan's world.
Even if it couldn't be really.
He hadn't intended to listen to the conversation, honestly. That his route to the breakfast bar took him under Jon and Michelle's balcony Bryan knew, that he could hear the half-spoken half-shouted arguments from inside, he didn't.
"Christ Jonny, you barely know the guy. You're really planning on taking him along tomorrow?"
Jon's voice was steady as he replied, "Sure 'Chelle. Why not?" At this Michelle fell silent for a while, leaving Jon time to conclude, "Then I'll ask him later."
"I don't think it's a good idea."
Jon replied quickly, sarcasm dripping from his voice, "What, would you prefer to act as chaperone?"
That comment appeared to sober Michelle's fury, and Bryan listened carefully as she sighed. "Go then. I just thought we could spend the day together."
At this Bryan's stomach lurched, his conscience torn between the desire to spend more time with the man he was becoming ever more drawn to and allowing that very man to spend time with the woman he'd come on holiday to be with. With both possibilities still swirling through his thoughts he headed distractedly towards the breakfast bar, leaving the conclusion to Jon and Michelle's conversation unheard.
When Jon approached him later that day Bryan was unsure what to expect. Michelle was the woman with whom Jon had intended to share his holiday, yet he couldn't deny his own desire to spend time with the other man. Jon seemed on edge too, happy to stall with small talk before his breathless mention of a cycling tour. Bryan's heart leapt at the invitation, more time with Jon was never unwelcome, though his mood just as quickly soured when he realised what this meant for Michelle.
Whatever Jon did seemed to work, Bryan noted as they cycled through the dusty heat of the local market town. Two nights a week in the gym and the occasional morning run kept him trim, not muscled, and with his shoulder-length hair and year-round tan he felt awkwardly androgynous next to his masculine companion. It also didn't help that Jon evidently cycled far more often than him, and hence maintained a fairly consistent lead.
Bryan tried to tell himself that he wasn't staring unashamedly at Jon's ass the whole ride.
Perhaps he'd made a mistake following Jon, Bryan reflected four days before the group was due to fly back home. Being so close to Jon made him desperate to touch, and hornier than he'd been in school, but the twist of guilty nausea at the very thought of Michelle prevented him from doing anything more than satisfying himself every night. Jon was flirty and fun, though since the night of their second kiss he'd been strangely subdued. It didn't help, Bryan still wanted him. Michelle being around didn't help either, as Jon seemed determined to ignore her in favour of Bryan at times, sending Bryan's moral compass spinning.
Of course most of the time he encouraged Jon. Jon's hands on him, even in the most innocent of places, felt amazing, and there was a genuine spark between them that he'd not even felt with Rob. He couldn't even ignore the realisation that Jon felt the same thing, because it was painfully obvious every time Jon trailed him to his room at night, even under the pretence of avoiding the crowd at the main bar.
Having Jon in his room was a particularly intense form of torture he'd found. Jon had a tendency to shed most of his clothing once in private quarters, and the sight of him sprawled across the bed shirtless did no favours for Bryan's self-control.
Another issue was Jon's tendency to touch, often running fingers through Bryan's hair or softly along his arms. It it was impossible not to react to the light touches, almost as difficult again to hide his reaction from others. From Jon in particular. Yet Bryan wasn't entirely sure that Jon realised what he was doing. Certainly every comment he made met with innocent confusion from the other man.
On the penultimate day of his holiday Bryan's mood had taken a turn for the worse. One more day and he would have to leave. To leave Jon. His conscience and Michelle's presence would not allow him to have the one night he craved with the man he feared he was falling for fast. After the flight, however, Jon would be gone. Bryan did not hold any hopes of seeing the red haired man again once they both arrived home.
The sky was gray and ominous that morning, reflecting Bryan's own mood. After spending so much time in the Caribbean Bryan could sense the approaching storm, feel the disturbance in the air as the island waited to take the hit. The weather report informed him of a name for the storm, though he had little interest. He couldn't bring himself to care too much; his time in paradise was ending, and hadn't been nearly the holiday he'd hoped for.
At lunch he was terse and short-tempered, though both Michelle and Jon seemed preoccupied enough that they hadn't noticed. After they had eaten Michelle left without saying a word to either man. Bryan watched her leave then shifted his gaze to Jon. The intense look on the other man's face made something in Bryan's gut twist in anticipation.
"Bryan, do you have a minute?"
Jon spoke softly, but with the clipped, polished air to his voice Bryan had learnt meant he was nervous about something. Bryan nodded wordlessly, unsure as to whether he would be capable of words right then. He followed Jon, uncomfortable in the silence between them, yet unsure what to say.
Jon led him to a secluded gazebo, just as the pregnant heaviness in the clouds finally broke. Torrents of rainwater poured off the roof, transforming the open gazebo into an intimate cove. Bryan swallowed nervously as Jon shifted closer to him, pressing their thighs together. Bryan was hyper aware of the thin swimming shorts which were all that covered him. Jon's fingers trailed absently down his thighs, and Bryan bit his lip, focusing all his willpower on remembering how to breathe.
"I've never had to do this before."
At Jon's confession Bryan blinked at him, stunned, then shook his head at his own surprise. Of course, Michelle wouldn't allow him that.
Though Jon continued; "I've always, always known if someone wants me. I've never had to ask before."
Bryan couldn't have moved if he'd wanted to, Jon's palm was hot on his thigh, and every nerve in his body buzzed at the contact. His arousal was painfully obvious to anyone who cared to look.
"You I don't understand though, I think- I thought you wanted me," Jon's voice was lower, huskier, when he said this, and Bryan fought to control his breathing before nothing more than Jon's presence took him beyond the point of no return.
"But every time we even get close you run away."
Jon leaned in on the word close, and Bryan's body made the decision for him. Even the thought of Michelle didn't provoke the usual sick guilt, only a faint, distant regret. So what if it could only be now? He was flying home in twelve hours, and after that he'd never see either Jon or Michelle again. And he wanted Jon, God, how he wanted Jon.
His decision made, Bryan hooked his arm around Jon's neck and pulled until their lips met, enjoying the flash of surprise in Jon's green eyes.
"You were right, I do want you."
Those were evidently the magic words Jon had been waiting for, because soon Jon was kissing him back full force, nipping at his lips even as his fingers unfastened Bryan's shorts.
Bryan sighed with relief as Jon's deft fingers found his erection and stroked. Though he realised as he set to unfastening Jon's own swimming shorts that it would be short lived if he allowed Jon to continue as they were.
"Wait, not like this. More ." Bryan managed to pant through his haze of wanting.
If the hitch in Jon's breath was any indication he'd understood well enough what Bryan wanted, needed.
Jon's fingers pressed into him, slowly, almost reverently at first, which he was grateful for, it had been a long time. Though soon it was too slow once more, months of being alone, weeks of wanting Jon and far too many days alone with Jon made him impatient.
Jon moaned at the request, and Bryan had a second to think that was the single hottest sound ever, before he was spun around, his palms bracing on a pillar, barely able to make a sound himself as Jon entered him. With what little remained of his train of thought he realised that the whole damn holiday might have been worth it for this moment, before giving himself over to the feeling of Jon inside him.
"Christ Bryan. So. Good."
One of Jon's hands closed over his own, slender fingers locking with his own and he gasped, loving the intimate feeling, meanwhile Jon's free hand crept down to stroke Bryan in time with his thrusts keeping him just on the edge of his release.
Eventually Bryan could do little more than cling to the pillar in front of him as Jon fucked him with an abandon few of his previous lovers had managed. Each thrust brushed delightfully against Bryan's sweet spot, and soon he was trembling and crying out, all thoughts of being discreet and unnoticed forgotten in favour of the pleasure coursing through him.
Jon Jon Jon, his orgasm hit him with all the force of a sledgehammer, and left him chanting Jon's name like a mantra, through ragged gasps. Jon withdrew, then pulled Bryan down to the bench with him. "Wow."
Bryan had to agree.
Though it wasn't long before the full force of what had happened hit Bryan, he'd rarely been happy with one-night stands, and never knowingly been with someone who was already in a relationship. Once the glow had faded from his climax the knowledge of what he'd done was too much, and he began to tremble. He'd made a mistake, though the realisation didn't help when he was fairly certain he'd crossed another line and actually fallen for Jon too.
Jon turned to him, a satisfied smile on his face, and instantly sobered. "My God, what's wrong? Are you cold?"
Bryan shook his head, still able to be amused at the thought that he could possibly be cold in the 33 degree heat.
"So, what happens now?" he asked, glad that he'd been able to keep the tremble out of his voice.
Jon smirked, "I thought we could head to your room for round two?"
Suppressing his reaction with some effort Bryan continued; "no, I mean what happens with us, with you and Michelle?"
Jon blinked at him, and Bryan's heart sank. He'd had a few friends who'd fallen for married men, enough to know exactly how this would play out: Jon would tell him that this wasn't anything special, that he couldn't leave Michelle, that this would only be a one-time thing. Bryan would follow him back to his own room anyway and they would have round two, and maybe rounds three and four, but Jon would leave with Michelle on the flight and they would never see each other again.
But Jon didn't. He laughed.
"Me and Michelle? You're kidding right? You haven't realised she's a little too female for me?"
Though Bryan's expression obviously revealed his doubts and Jon sobered quickly. "Really?"
Bryan nodded, "you wouldn't be the first guy to play around."
Bryan wasn't sure what reaction he had expected from Jon, but the bloom of quiet rage that followed his statement was not it. Quietly Jon commented, "We're just friends Bryan. I thought you'd have realised I don't really do that. Besides if I was with Michelle I wouldn't have spent my whole holiday chasing you would I?"
Cowed, Bryan hung his head. "I thought when she asked me to leave you alone that-"
"When she asked you to do what?" Jon's voice was still quiet, though his anger evidently hadn't calmed, it still rolled off him in waves.
Footsteps behind him made Bryan start, and Michelle's gasp of dismay finalised the revelation which was forming. Jon's tousled hair and the state of undress that both were in left no doubt as to what had occurred, and when Michelle finally spoke there were unshed tears in her voice.
Jon blinked at her, then smiled. "'Chelle."
For a minute the two stared at each other in silence, then Michelle gave a sob. "Jon, you-I thought-"
Jon only smiled at her gently. "'Chelle I never gave you any-"
Michelle's calm broke. "Yes you did! You- we- you don't remember do you?"
At her horrified expression the sick feeling in Bryan's stomach returned. Michelle gave another sob and continued, "I knew you were drunk that first night, but I thought you'd remember. I'd been waiting for you to look at me like that for so long, and then, when you kissed me-"
Jon's dismayed expression told Bryan he didn't remember the night, Bryan couldn't look at him for long. Though logic told him there was no cause for jealousy he couldn't help it. When Jon turned towards Michelle he couldn't take it any more. This was the rejection he'd been waiting for all holiday, albeit in a different form. How could he have thought it, any of it, a good idea?
"I'll leave then. It looks like you two have lots to talk about." Bryan couldn't, didn't even attempt to keep the bitterness from his voice.
At that Jon looked at him, heartbreak evident on his face. Though, Bryan noted, he'd made no effort to follow him.
Exhausted both physically and emotionally Bryan fell onto his bed, and slept until his alarm clock informed him it was time to prepare for the flight.
The flight home was dull. Leila had taken one look at his expression and assigned him to the upstairs deck. The passengers, all exhausted from their holidays, even the smaller children, slept soundly on the flight. Jon was downstairs, he knew, but he was unsure whether he wanted to face the taller man again. He'd never got an answer to his question about where they stood, and Jon had not tried to contact him since their evening in the gazebo. Perhaps it had been a mistake?
Unfortunately the quiet atmosphere didn't provide enough distraction, though Bryan was kept just busy enough by hungover adults and sunburned children that a trip downstairs was out of the question. Instead he paced restlessly back and forth until the captain requested the crew to take their seats for landing.
The trip home took him minutes in his yellow-green Renault Clio. His little flat was cold and felt more lonely than ever after two weeks in Jon's warm company. He felt alone.
He'd just crawled into his bed fully clothed and was beginning to look at old pictures of Rob, wondering absently just how many more times he'd have to face rejection when his doorbell rang. He considered ignoring it, though the second time it rang his curiosity piqued. The only person to ring his doorbell had been Rob; now he had no idea who it would be. On the third ring he darted out of bed and pulled open the door with far more enthusiasm than he'd thought he still possessed, then instantly wished he'd left it.
Jon stood in front of him looking almost as bad as Bryan felt. His pale skin looked washed out, and there were circles under his eyes indicating he'd certainly not slept as well as Bryan.
"I missed you." Jon said, "I waited, thought you'd come back, and then when you didn't it turned out that Michelle and I had a lot more to discuss than I'd realised so I had no time to come and find you."
"So," Bryan snapped, not in the mood for talking if Jon was only going to leave again, "what are you here for?"
Jon gave him a soft smile, and Bryan's stomach did a series of giddy little flips despite himself, "I told you, I missed you."
Bryan shook his head, ashamed by the urge to smile back, "what happened with Michelle?"
At this Jon's smile turned sad, "I don't see us still being friends. I can't give her what I know she wants."
"Right. I'm sorry to hear that."
"Me too," Jon replied. "I'm more sorry that it came between us though. Do you think we could start again?"
Bryan raised an eyebrow at him, trying to ignore the voice in his head which informed him of course you'll say yes. "No more running off with girls?"
Jon gave him a winning smile. "No running off with anyone."
At that Bryan finally gave in to the urge to smile, as he pulled Jon inside his flat by the front of his shirt, "then I think we're long overdue for a round two, aren't we?"