I didn't know what I was supposed to do. The thought that I'd let them down, let Hayden down, weighed heavily on my mind as we made our way back into the hotel. The wedding party was nowhere to be seen and Kenny announced he was going to continue his drinking session and the rest of the band agreed to join him.
"I'm gonna go up," I said, patting them all on the shoulder. Hayden, his hands shoved in his pockets, casually yawned and nodded.
"Me too, actually. I'll see you guys later, yeah?" His transparent suggestion was not lost on the others and they all smirked as he followed me back to the room.
"You know, you could have just put a sign on your forehead that we wanted to be alone and it would be far less obvious," I teased him lightly, still feeling overwhelming guilt as we reached the right floor. I tried to think of what I was going to tell him as he set the door closed with a soft click and turned to face me.
"Was that not forward enough for you?" he murmured, stepping forward, smiling gently. "Would you like me to tell you what I really want?" The low tone sent a shiver down my spine despite the warmth flooding through my body. His words were playful but his eyes were resting on me intently, those sharp blue irises cutting through the tension I was feeling.
"I think I can guess," I mumbled, moving to press my body against his and tilting my head up to meet his lips, hungry and demanding. He moaned instantly, deepening the kiss and running his fingers up the back of my shirt, tugging impatiently at the hem as he freed it from the waistband of my slacks. I broke the kiss and pulled him backwards towards the bed, landing heavily on the soft mattress and wincing as the springs dug into my back as I laid down. Hayden crawled on top without hesitation, leaning down and resuming the kiss whilst manoeuvring his body to cover mine. I fumbled with his own button down shirt, my hands too shaky and uncoordinated to undo them on the first try, but eventually managed with Hayden's help. He shrugged the cotton fabric off his shoulders and I watched as it fell to the floor, barely daring to look at the body that was hovering over me. It made me feel ashamed and excited in equal measure – ashamed because I knew how much hard work must have gone into keeping himself looking so taut and muscular, and knowing that I hadn't stepped foot in a gym for years. Excited, because...well, he was gorgeous. It was clear that the unmistakeable lust in his eyes was for me and it was the hottest thing I'd ever seen. Amie had only ever glanced at me in mild interest, certainly not kissed me with this much fervour or passion and never once made me feel in the least bit desirable. Hayden did all of that and more, his kisses becoming more frantic, his hands nearly ripping my clothes as he tried to take them off while I tried half heartedly to stop him.
"Wait, wait, wait," I gasped, catching my breath and motioning towards the door. "Turn off the light."
He shook his head, leaning down and biting the skin between my neck and shoulder before kissing it and pulling back. "I want to see you," he whispered, his voice throaty and thick. "Can't see you if it's dark."
I tried to think of a suitable reason why I didn't want to be naked in front of him, but my brain switched off as he pushed his hips down forcefully into my own, groaning into my neck and gripping fistfuls of hair as he moved.
"Fuck, Jonah," he hissed. Reflexively, I wrapped my legs around his and held him there, bringing his lips back so I could kiss him fully and not worry about the sounds now escaping my mouth. There was something embarrassing about letting go of your inhibitions, but it was impossible not to get lost in the moment entirely when he was doing exactly the same. Not that he had any amount of shame normally – it seemed that I just brought out the worst in him.
I finally shed my top, squirming under Hayden's inquisitive and curious gaze as his eyes fell to my chest. I'd never been comfortable with my body but there hadn't been a lot of occasions where I was required to take my shirt off, so I'd never really gotten over my insecurity. Sex with Amie was done strictly under covers, in the dark and generally with most of my clothes still on. The only person I felt okay with being semi-undressed around was Zee but he was hardly an Adonis so I guess it didn't really count. Being in Hayden's presence made me unbelievably self conscious, especially when my pale, out of shape torso was parallel with his tanned, broad one. He didn't even seem to notice the difference between us, moaning appreciatively as he ran his hands along my sides, pausing when he reached the top of my trousers. His eyes flicked upwards, sparkling and mischievous as he resumed what he was doing, touching me through the fabric slowly, as if he was asking for permission to do more. I bit my lip hard as I struggled over what I wanted to say, and what I wouldn't feel too embarrassed to say. The former won out as he dipped his head down, and traced around my navel with his tongue, making me shudder and laugh at the same time.
"Hayden, please," I said, feeling my cheeks burn at how needy I sounded. That was all the encouragement he needed, lifting my hips and simultaneously sliding the material down my thighs, revealing more pale, pasty skin that I felt the instant urge to cover up, preferably with a thick blanket. He was painstakingly slow, seemingly intent on inspecting every inch of my body before continuing. Sweat had started to form on my forehead as I panted, and reached my hand out to rest of Hayden's equally clammy neck. I wasn't usually domineering, more happy to lay back than be the one doing all the work, but I was sure that he was being this slow on purpose. I clasped my hand tightly around his neck and pushed his head down in a dizzying act of defiance.
For a moment, I was catapulted back to the conversation we'd had earlier about Orson. I briefly wondered if Hayden's willingness to do what I wanted him to had anything to do with the way he'd been treated in the past. It was suitably inappropriate that I was thinking about his ex just as he was about to give me oral, and I reminded myself that I really needed to stop myself having these trains of thought.
"Jesus, fuck," I shouted, lifting my head from the pillow and then dropping it back down. "Hayden, I...I don't think..."
Just as suddenly as he'd started, he pulled away, grinning at the incredulous look that now blossomed on my face. "Hold on," he whispered, kissing me softly and then more urgently. He scrambled with his own belt in a clumsy imitation of me, giggling as he struggled to take his jeans off in an elegant manner.
"Come here," I growled impatiently, sitting up and yanking his too-skinny skinny jeans from his legs and pulling him back down.
"Do you want..." he paused, licking his lips. "Do you wanna do it properly? It's just I didn't bring anything to make this any easier...and I assume this would be your first time? It might hurt."
I shook my head. "Just go back to what you were doing," I murmured, kissing him quickly. "I might even return the favour."
He laughed and shuffled back down the bed. "Such a romantic. I knew there was a reason I loved you."
I wanted to reply, I really did, but the things his mouth was doing made it impossible to speak. I made another mental note to ask him about this later but settled for stroking the fuzzy hair on his head fondly instead. I never was very adept at talking about my feelings in all seriousness, especially when sex was involved. Truth be told, I thought it was a terrible time to confess your love for somebody, when you were both naked and probably smelt faintly of sweat and other bodily fluids. Besides, I reasoned, everybody said stupid things when their guard was down and maybe in the moment, it had felt right. But we'd both regain composure later and the words would be forgotten and dismissed as a mistaken confession during a hazy, lust filled moment.
The band never did come back. Either they'd all gotten lucky (unlikely) or they'd tactfully found somewhere else to sleep, lest they walk in on Hayden and I doing the unspeakable. I spent most of the night ruminating over the conversation with Orson and trying to find a way of telling the man lying next to me that I'd messed up. He struck me as the forgiving type in all matters except those that related to his band and I found myself inventing scenarios in which Hayden would smile sweetly, kiss me and tell me that none of it mattered, as long as I was here. That was my favourite. In reality, he'd probably give me the cold shoulder, proceeded by dumping me as their manager and finding someone that was less of a fuckwit. That was my least favourite. I contemplated telling him the truth, but the idea that Hayden would attempt to smooth things over with Orson popped into my head and made me feel vaguely sick. I couldn't hope to sort it out any time soon and the longer I waited, the worse I felt.
At breakfast, Damien cornered me with a sinister smile, guiding me to a separate table and plating up eggs and crispy bacon. "So," he drawled, stirring the tea slowly as he sat before pouring us both a cup. "If Hayden fucked you last night, why do you look like the world's about to end this morning? He wasn't that bad was he?"
I glared at the man in front of me furiously, aware that our conversation could probably be heard by the elderly couple at the next table.
"He did not," I hissed, "and he wasn't...look, I'm not even going there."
"Touchy," he commented with a vague smile. "Seriously, what's up? "
I stabbed the food viciously in response.
I looked at Damien properly, unable to keep up my annoyance when everything was essentially my own fault. I took a long sip of tea and peered over at Hayden who was grappling with the hotel's toaster grill and swearing when the bread came out black.
"We haven't got any more gigs," I said eventually, avoiding the other man's gaze. I expected him to immediately demand why but he just nodded knowingly.
"Orson?" he asked with absolutely no surprise in his voice.
"He's done this before?"
Damien nodded shortly, glancing at me with something akin to regret in his eyes. "Look, leave it to me," he said, wiping his hands on a paper napkin and standing quickly. "If Hayden asks, tell him I've gone to look around the butterfly garden." He gave me a wolfish grin. "It's the only place he wouldn't follow me. He hates butterflies."
I watched him leave, feeling slightly lighter than I had been. After Hayden had churned out six pieces of charred toast, he took Damien's seat, smiling rakishly at me.
"How you feeling?" he asked, reaching across the table to squeeze my hand.
"Great," I lied, shovelling a slice of bacon into my mouth. "Do you want to do something this morning? We could head to the market, buy your kids a souvenir or something?"
It was evidently the right thing to say as he beamed. "That's a brilliant idea," he enthused, obviously thrilled I'd thought about his kids. I felt a little guilty; the only reason I wanted to go out was so I didn't sit in thinking about Orson until Damien returned. He began talking about what he might buy and telling me what his daughters might like (as if I was interested) in a tone which suggested he was genuinely excited about our trip. I tried not to zone out, nodding and inserting the odd innocuous comment but my mind was elsewhere. I wondered how Damien was planning on winning Orson round, whether he'd go on the offensive, or try to soften him up and appeal to whatever good nature he might possess. He didn't strike me as a man who particularly cared about the success of the band if it didn't involve him snagging Hayden, but I could be wrong.
I doubted it.
I had to borrow a huge plaid shirt of Hayden's to go out in as I'd somehow managed to spill food down every single one of my shirts in the past few days. It made me look like a lumberjack – my messy hair and torn jeans just added to the illusion. Hayden had held me at arms length in the hotel room just after I'd put it on and gave me a satisfied once over.
"You look so hot in my clothes," he'd grinned, ruffling my hair into even more of a mess. "God, you look good."
We'd almost not made it out the door but Grayson interrupted just as Hayden was about to rid me of the shirt he was so fond of me wearing. He'd rolled his eyes good naturedly at the sight of us both and shook his head. "Jesus, would you keep your hands off each other for five minutes? Come on, if we go now we can beat the crowds."
We ambled through the streets, gazing at trinkets and trying to figure out what was fake and what was genuine. We spotted a stall selling Gucci watches for a fiver, one selling "real" gold bracelets that looked like they belonged to Mr T and a huge collection of imitation Louis Vuitton handbags that Amie would love to own. Hayden kept trying to slip his hand into mine as we browsed and I kept trying to pull away without it seeming like I didn't want to hold his hand. It wasn't that I didn't want to as such, but I thought he understood that I wasn't keen on public displays of affection. But after last night, he seemed to have forgotten how I felt and was concentrating solely on how he felt. Which was clearly elated and I was happy that it was me who made him feel that way, but at the same time I just wished he'd back off a little bit. He'd always been quite full on, especially in the beginning of our friendship but now it was almost stifling.
Grayson and Kenny had split from us halfway through, bored of our window shopping. Their absence made things feel even more strained, although it was clear that I was the only one out of the two of us that felt this way.
"Tammy will love this," he said, pulling a deep orange and red scarf from its hook. "How about I say it's from you? As kind of an ice breaker. Kids love presents."
I frowned and shook my head. "That's a bit weird. I haven't even met them yet. Just say you bought it for her."
"Well how about I say it's from both of us?" he pressed. "Honestly, they'll really appreciate the..."
"No," I snapped. "Just buy the fucking thing and give it to your daughter. I don't even know her. It's weird."
His face fell and he shrugged. "Fine. It was just a suggestion. You don't have to get so pissed off."
"I'm not," I replied flatly. "I just find it odd that you're trying so desperately to make them like me already."
"Well they're gonna have to get used to you," he said, handing the scarf over to the owner and fishing some money from his pocket. "Why don't you want them to like you?"
"You're acting like we're married," I grunted, knowing I was being unreasonable but barely able to stop myself from talking. I realised I was only been horrible because I felt so guilty but it didn't stop me. "I don't get on well with kids. What if they really don't like me? You're hardly going to choose between me and them are you? Besides, I don't want to bribe them into being my friend. Unless you think I'm so insufferable that I'd have to."
"Now you're just being stupid," he sighed, accepting the bag and coming to stand next to me. "Why do you have to make everything into an argument?"
I didn't answer. We walked in silence for the rest of the morning until we met back up with Grayson and Kenny, who were trying to chat up one of the stall owners. She was beautiful, dark skinned and exotic with huge eyes framed in black liner. To her credit, she was chatting quite happily with the two brothers and didn't seem at all perturbed that they were openly flirting with her.
"Gray, Kenny, are we leaving or are you just going to keep talking until you're arrested for harassment?" Hayden said tiredly. Grayson chuckled and winked at the woman.
"We're not bothering you, are we Sahira?"
"Not at all," she giggled, tilting her head to the side. "Keeping me company, aren't you boys?"
"You can humour them, but don't encourage them," I advised, smiling at Sahira. "Honestly, they'll never stop."
"Oh I don't mind," she said, eyes sparkling. "I told them they could talk to me if they bought one painting every five minutes they were stood here. I've sold six already."
Kenny looked bashfully at the ground. "You like art, don't you Hayd?"
The paintings were all rich watercolours, each as charming as the next, but it was the price tags that caught my eye.
"Sixty quid!" I gasped, rifling through. "Jesus, this one cost ninety. Are you two serious? You've spent over £400 to speak to a woman."
"Could've hired prostitutes cheaper than that," Hayden added. "And gotten more for it."
Sahira laughed again fluttering her long eyelashes and patted Grayson on the arm. "It's time for you to buy another. Would you like the forest landscape or the jungle one?"
"Don't bother." I grabbed Kenny and pulled him away. "We're leaving. Thanks for babysitting these two morons."
"No, thank you." She chuckled again. "Don't forget your paintings!"
We bundled the canvases into a cloth sack and Grayson laid it over his shoulder, looking like a balding Santa. "Don't look so glum," he nudged me. "She's coming to our gig tonight. So it wasn't all useless."
I tried to smile but it fell short. Thankfully, Grayson didn't even realise what was wrong and just thought I was mad at him for buying the paintings. When we returned to the hotel, he handed me one of them.
"For being a great manager." He gave me a brief hug and added as an afterthought, "and for making Hayden happy. Means a lot."
I peered at the painting, an abstract view of a tree with a man and a woman leant against either side of the trunk casually. It would go perfectly in Hayden's flat. I set it down at the foot of the bed, nodding at Grayson in thanks. He clipped me on the shoulder and left, leaving me alone in the room with my thoughts.
I glanced at my phone for what felt like the 20th time that morning, hoping for a message from Damien, but the screen was clear. I considered phoning him, but decided against it, not wanting to interrupt if he was in the middle of winning him round. The card with Orson's hotel name and room number was still in my jacket pocket and I frowned, wondering how Damien knew where he'd be. He hadn't asked when he'd left and there was no reason for him to know. With a niggling feeling in my stomach, I quickly found the discarded jacket and pulled the card out, slipping it into my jeans.
I text Hayden to tell him I was going for a walk and jogged through the lobby, aware that any of them might be lounging in the bar. I escaped without incident and glanced at the card again. The hotel was about ten minutes walk away, situated along the river. It was exactly the type of place I thought he'd be staying, grand and luxurious, with a man that held the door open, a separate one to ask you if you needed any help, and one that held back, nervously fidgeting as his eyes scanned me for any luggage. When he saw I wasn't carrying anything, he visibly relaxed, giving me a quick smile and going back to looking wistfully out the glass doors.
I found Orson's room easily enough – on the seventh floor, one of the sprawling executive suites. Thankfully, the lift in this hotel was fully functioning unlike the broken down cage in ours.
I shifted uncomfortably in front of the door when I reached it, my hand raised as if to knock. Soft voices were coming from inside and I recognized Damien's easily. The voices went quiet and I paused, leaning against the wood and trying to hear what was going on.
They stayed silent. I rested my hand on the doorknob, debating whether to just walk in. I stood there for at least five minutes but heard no further movement. Taking a deep breath, I twisted the handle and pushed, staring into the vast room. My eyes immediately zoned in on the bed where two bodies lay, covered only by a thin sheet. It didn't do much to conceal their nakedness.
"D-Damien?" My voice caught as I stuttered out his name, disbelief coursing through me. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised – I'd known something was up when I'd realised he'd known where Orson was staying. But this...this was something else entirely. Seeing the two of them in such an intimate position, their forms pressed tightly together and Damien's throat tilted back to expose his neck, I felt sick. After everything Hayden had told me about his former lover (which Damien obviously knew) he still chose to get into bed with him? Was this some sort of elaborate plan to screw Hayden over, or was Orson really that manipulative?
I'd never seen Damien look embarrassed but as I stood half in and half out of the door, he panicked, heat rushing to his face. A bruise was beginning to form on his chest, covered in slick saliva. He rubbed at it self consciously as he climbed out of the bed and I looked away as he pulled on his discarded clothes, shoving the other items strewn on the floor into Orson's chest.
"Get dressed," he murmured urgently. "Orson."
Orson stretched casually, showing off his toned stomach. He wasn't as well built as Hayden but not quite as skinny as Damien. The muscles flowed under the skin as he pulled on his shirt and if I didn't know any better, I'd have thought it was deliberate. His eyes caught mine and his lips twitched upwards. I felt rage surge through my body but I couldn't speak. The anger ebbed when it realised it had nowhere to go and I suddenly felt incredibly drained. The door frame took the brunt of my weight as I slumped, eyes falling away from the room. The air was still cloying, thick with a scent I didn't want to think about. I wanted out of there but Damien seemed to be taking his sweet time, pausing every other second like he'd forgotten what he was supposed to be doing. The quiet made things ten times more palpable and my mind decided to join in, leaving nothing but an endless vacuum to dwell on.
I could feel the man's eyes boring into my back, taunting me. I didn't know who I was more angry with, Orson for orchestrating all of this or Damien for going along with it. I'd considered him a friend, someone I could talk to if I had a problem and this was how he'd repaid me. I felt bile rising in my throat, threatening to spill out in a endless torrent of abuse directed at the both of them. I stayed silent, only looking up when Damien headed towards me, his head bowed and blonde hair hiding his face.
"Jonah," he started, but I cut him off.
Orson watched us leave, not saying a word. There was no point. Everything that could be said had been displayed as I walked through the door.
Damien made no other attempts to explain or to apologise. I think he realised that whatever he said would just fuel my anger and so left it, making us walk in stony silence back to the hotel. It had been drizzling when I'd walked there, but now the sun had emerged, bathing the streets with warmth. I squinted against the glare, holding a hand up to shield my face. It seemed perverse that the weather had taken a turn for the better just as things in my life had taken a turn for the worse. The slight breeze rustled Damien's hair off his face revealing a stoic profile. His mouth was set in a thin line, lips pressed together as if he were scared of speaking. His grey eyes stared straight ahead, gazing into the far distance as if it held all the answers. He didn't look at me and I was glad. I might have crumbled. As we moved in sight of the glass doors of our hotel, Damien stopped, putting a hand on my arm.
"You can't tell Hayden," was all he said before pushing through the entrance and heading in the direction of the restaurant. He was right of course – I couldn't tell Hayden. But I couldn't not tell him either. I wanted to go after Damien and insist he tell me everything, right down to what the hell he was thinking and why he'd chosen to betray his best friend for a man who had treated them all so badly. When I finally spotted Hayden's form bunched up next to the pool table, I darted away before he saw me. I needed to get my head in order. I didn't even have enough time because they were all expecting to be playing a gig later on.
"Thanks a lot, Damien," I muttered. "Thanks a fucking lot."
A/N – My internet has died. Sadfaces all round. I'm gonna have to go hunt around for a new one but that won't be till next week, so I'll be uploading this at the library. I was supposed to be doing my school work but I haven't touched it and I seriously have to get on with it, so slow updates. Yeah, it won't work out like that. I suck. I'm also writing like three different things at the moment which may or may not end up on here. I don't know why I'm writing all of this. Hello, I guess. R&R!