Authors: Amy Lane
“Laurie slept with Peter after I’d broken up with her and was dating him,” Owen said, and Malcolm had to cross his eyes to do the math.
“They’re both wanker fucktards. First class. Stop being so bloody nice to them.”
Owen shook his head, looking relieved when the waiter started to weave his way from the counter toward their table, carrying a tray with two sodas and two baskets with thick slabs of meat on puffy, toasted buns. “If you can’t order me around in bed, I’m not going to let you order my social schedule.” His whole body glowed when the waiter dodged the couple nearest them—she was crying and he was looking uncomfortable—and pulled their burgers and drinks off his tray.
“Thanks,” Malcolm said tersely, and arranged his food once the waiter had left them alone again. He looked back at the Yank. “Well, get some meat into you. Can’t have you faint on me or attack a bystander.” He gave the Yank one of his best, brightest, bad-boy grins and wished he’d ordered fries, just for the suggestive shape of them. But he already had a lot more carbs on his plate than his personal trainer would normally let him get away with.
“Thing is, Owen”—he repeated the name mostly so he’d remember it later—“if you play nice, people walk all over you. Trust me on that one. You’re a nice guy, but that’s like blood in the water. Attracts all kinds of unpleasant people who’re just trawling for a weakness. Any weakness.”
Owen met his gaze head-on from under that fall of brown hair. “Kindness is not weakness,
Forgiveness isn’t lack of backbone. Forgiveness is the thing that lets human beings not strangle each other after a half an hour’s acquaintance. It’s not something you in particular should shit on, you know?”
Malcolm grimaced. “I know? No, I don’t know. Forgiving people gets you on vacation with your ex-bitch-wanker who’s getting laid while you’re drinking piss-water in a shitty bar. Punishing people gets your cock licked, and maybe your toes if you’re in the mood. Tell me which one
Seemed he’d touched a nerve, because Owen glanced down at his food for a few moments too long.
“It’s not unreasonable to ask for a little respect. It’s the very least I ask of my hookups, and if they approach the whole thing with the proper attitude, I play nice, too. I can be
nice if I want to.”
Maybe I’m even in the mood to play nice tonight.
The Yank might tickle out his softer side if he kept a level head.
“They respect me,” Owen said, and an evil little smile appeared at the corners of his mouth. “Sometimes they fear me.”
Malcolm looked at him curiously, suddenly more convinced he’d remember this one’s name. “Yeah? You make them pay for kicking you in the nads?”
Owen groaned. “Not the way you’re thinking. Let’s just say that a conscience isn’t always a cricket, and leave it at that.”
And now Malcolm was thoroughly disgusted. “You
them to death?”
Owen laughed. “Ouch! That
be awful. No. It was personal, but they felt better, I felt better, and now we’re friends again. Forgiveness. Sometimes it really is a pleasure.”
Malcolm took a deep breath and let it out, but it didn’t stop the stirring, the tingle, wrapping itself around the skin of his cock. Personal? He could only imagine. But God, the things he could imagine. He busied himself with his burger, eating with no more passion than if he were wolfing down whatever his desk neighbor deigned to bring him, right there in front of his six-pack of screens. “How’s the food?”
Owen took a big mouthful, chewed slowly. He closed his eyes before he swallowed. “Awesome. Absolutely awesome.”
Malcolm swallowed, too. Anyone who could take that much pleasure in a hamburger? What else could he take pleasure in? Time to find out. “Let’s talk about what we’ll do when we get to my place.”
“No,” Owen said, eyeing his hamburger with carnal greed.
Well, he could give him ten minutes. Okay, five at the speed the Yank was eating. Malcolm took another bite, but mostly enjoyed watching the kid eat. “No as in we’re not going to my place, or no as in you’re not going to tell me what your safeword is?” Malcolm made sure the irony was so thick even an American wouldn’t be able to miss it.
Owen stopped eating long enough to raise his eyebrows. “Safeword? I know what it is,” he muttered, forestalling the explanation Malcolm was about to spew. “I just mean, I’m the one who’s going to need it?”
Malcolm took a few deep breaths. Was the Yank being irritating on purpose, or had Malcolm given him too many points for intelligence? “Well, I
buying dinner,” he ground out, and Owen winked.
“Yes, Yank, hamburgers for dinner.”
“Nope. Hamburger for safeword. I’m not likely to spit that out in the middle of sex unless I mean it, right?”
“Unless you’re having a flashback to the meal,” Malcolm grouched, amused despite himself at Owen’s resistance to being tricked or played. Damn, but he couldn’t wait to get home and lock the penthouse doors behind them. “Maybe tell me what you like. Soft limits, hard limits.” Last time he’d discussed this in a cab, and the cabbie had almost hit a bus. This time he’d get these things out of the way where a listening ear wouldn’t get him killed.
Owen looked thoughtfully at his last few bites of burger. “Hard limits? Don’t fucking hurt me. I mean, seriously. A little bruising, a little hard stuff—fine. But I don’t like bleeding. Pisses me off. Soft limits? I guess anything up to there.” Owen took a chip and dipped it in the puddle of vinegar he’d poured for them. “And you? What are your limits?”
“I don’t think you need to know.” Malcolm smiled to take the sting out. Okay, now he had reached the point where he actually cared whether the Yank walked out on him. Normally, that stage involved being turned on beyond recovery; he rarely got there over dinner. “If I
on the receiving end, I’d say permanent damage.”
Owen cocked his head. “You don’t mind blood, then?” he asked, voice soft and curious. If Malcolm didn’t know better, he’d think the man had just turned into a shrink on him.
“I can’t afford to get an infection, but as long as it’s clean and hygienic and means I can go to work the next morning, sure, why not.” Not that anybody had ever attempted that. So, was that Yank considering turning the tables on him? Hardly. He didn’t seem like somebody who’d bring out the razor blades mid-sex.
Owen shook his head, and some of Malcolm’s faith in the world was restored. He had to admit, the country mouse had kept him on his toes. “I don’t like hurting people,” he said, looking Malcolm so deeply in the eyes that Malcolm couldn’t shake him off.
“Even if they like it?” Even as he heard the words, they sounded like begging. He cleared his throat and assumed that Owen’s thoughtful expression meant he was wrestling with the concept. “Then what do you like? Any fantasies you can play with while overseas? Over here, you’re free to do whatever you want to do.”
Because you can just leave after, go home and pretend you never did anything. Nothing fixes a mistake like a few thousand miles’ worth of distance.
At least, that’s what he’d found.
Owen closed his eyes. “Mm . . . my mom used to watch the
—you remember that show?”
Malcolm inhaled sharply; this could be a whole new
of kink he hadn’t even thought of, but then Owen continued and dashed his hopes.
“I hated it. Scared me shitless. So I’d roll under my bed and pull the covers over the edge and lie there in complete darkness. Got my first erection down there. It felt so good, and I was so very scared.” Owen opened those fine brown eyes and looked at Malcolm with lazy promise. “I like the dark. I like not being able to see what’s touching me, what’s brushing against me, what’s coming. Will it be in my mouth? Will it be on my ass? Where will it be?” Owen laughed and shivered, and so did Malcolm. Oh, this was not going the way he’d imagined at all.
“I’m game,” Malcolm said simply and took another—last—bite of his burger, almost disgusted with the cold food. The other appetite was by far stronger. He liked listening to Owen’s fantasies; it was so different than the often-rehearsed lists he tended to agree to via email because he found people were more honest if they couldn’t see his face. Or he theirs. “Anything else? Fantasies can be pretty elaborate. I can most likely make it happen. Or at least have a better shot at it than many others.” Money and seclusion and a number of somewhat ruthless friends and acquaintances saw to that.
Owen shrugged. “Nope, that’s about it.” He crumpled his napkin over his remaining chips, and Malcolm grunted in frustration.
“Oh come on, mate, you don’t
unimaginative.” Something. Let him want
only Malcolm could give him. Let him have a reason
for Malcolm Kavanagh to make an impression, since he’d just nixed the idea of a mark on his flesh.
“Nope,” Owen said, standing and stretching. He had bloody long legs, Malcolm’s Yank. They’d likely been cramped under the table. “My fantasies are more personal than my impersonal sex, Malcolm. Come on. You’re dying to get this show on the road. Let’s go. You can make me come, or keep me from coming, or whatever it is you want to do, and then you can forget my name.”
Whoa, hang on a minute right there.
Those words translated into “You’re gagging for it,” and even though it was true, he didn’t like being reminded of it. Yes, the sub called all the shots, but this wasn’t going as planned. Wasn’t going like he was used to. Shit, he was not going to lose control of this.
He’s just treating you like that random hookup that you dismissed in his favor. He’s learned your method, Malcolm, and in fifteen minutes flat
Yeah, that sounded about right. It didn’t actually matter, though, because getting them both off was on top of the agenda anyway. Wasn’t like the Yank had come here to make friends. He’d be gone on the day stamped on his ticket, and that would be that.
Owen glanced sideways at his new fuck-buddy as they walked through the London streets. The strange buildings drew his eye, though—and they all sat right next to each other. Every street looked totally different, a cacophony of styles, and he was really starting to like that. It was unpredictable, messy even, like a woman who’d seen much better days but still kept herself with dignity.
And then the “native” he’d met. Malcolm Kavanagh had it all—had the body language of a yuppie asshole, the looks of a yuppie asshole, and, hell, even the pickup lines of a yuppie asshole. Everything Owen despised on sight and on principle, and all the things that he would usually have walked away from in moments.
But Malcolm also had a sense of humor. And a willingness to fight. And Owen couldn’t help himself—he’d opened up, just a little, to see if his mother was right.
Be decent to people. If you’re decent to people, you’ll usually find out they’re decent people, too.
And sure enough, there had been a moment or two there when Malcolm had shown the softer skin underneath the hair gel and the brashness.
And he had that glint in his eye that hinted he wasn’t really
jaded. There was some real interest there, too. How many of his casual fucks just accepted that yuppie asshole attitude in return for a meal and a fuck? Plenty, probably. With the looks and the suit and the arrogance—plenty of people out there wouldn’t even question Malcolm’s façade.
“Right, there’s a cab. We could take the Tube, but that would take too long.” Malcolm stepped close to the curb and raised an arm in a commanding gesture. A cab with its lights on stopped.
“London Bridge,” Malcolm ordered, and the driver nodded.
From the back of the car, the city was just as chaotic and interesting. Malcolm leaned back, regarding him as if trying to read his mind, probing for fantasies and more intimate stuff. Did other people just tell him everything? Owen smiled at the window and at London outside.
When the car stopped, it was in front of a very modern building not far from London Bridge. Pretty central still. Malcolm paid and tipped the driver, then headed toward the building’s glass doors. The night porter looked up when they entered. “Good evening, Mister Kavanagh.”
Malcolm looked slightly bewildered, as if torn from his thoughts—or trying to remember the guy’s name—then just nodded. “Good evening.” He ushered Owen to an elevator and, inside, waved a card at a sensor before pressing the button for the tenth floor.
The elevator opened right outside a penthouse that took up the whole top floor of the building. Glass all round, looking out over a city that didn’t have that many high buildings. There were some skyscrapers in the financial district, but here, the view was almost entirely unobstructed. On the balcony stood a telescope directed vaguely at the moon, which was wreathed in dark clouds.
The penthouse was mostly open-plan, with a divider beyond an entertainment area. The bedroom and bathroom were probably behind that.
A group of light brown leather couches were assembled around a fireplace in the middle of the room, a couple logs placed on what looked like a white marble block, surrounded on all sides by glass. The floor was sanded stone tiles, with rugs scattered here and there. A vast TV was on but muted, set to a business channel of some sort—stock prices scrolled incessantly below a talking head. The screen was the only movement in the place, which otherwise lay silent, even serene.