Authors: TJ Nichols
While it would be easy to order his favorite every time, he wanted to taste everything. He had eaten all manner of weird things over the last year. Sometimes he needed to wash the meal down with a strong beer. Some tastes were obviously acquired.
“So what’s the specialty?” He glanced at Kyle.
“The prawn and sweet chili is pretty good if you like seafood. Or there is the breakfast pizza, which is great as a late breakfast after a big night.” Kyle flashed him a grin.
Breakfast pizza was eggs and bacon. That sounded interesting. “I do like breakfast.”
He glanced at Kyle. Roone especially liked breakfast after a big night. The only question was would he be eating breakfast on his own or with someone?
his third piece of prawn-coated pizza. So far they’d talked about surfing and summer. The beer had been drunk, and they were sitting around bridging that gap between just meeting and seeing if they could be more than friends. It was an awkward phase. One which he should have avoided, because he wasn’t doing one-night stands anymore.
Looking at Roone made it so hard to keep that promise. He wanted to break it. He had to remind himself that they could be friends, and they didn’t have to sleep together. And as soon as Roone was gone, Kyle was sure he was going to regret trying to be good when being bad could be so much more fun… at least until he woke up alone and realized his life was going nowhere.
Roone had been everywhere on his travels.
Kyle licked some sauce off his finger. “So why all the traveling?”
“Why not? It’s my year off.”
Roone paused for a moment. “Yeah. Then I have to get serious and either join the family business or find my own way.”
“And this is the end of your holiday, last chance to play up.” Kyle lifted his eyebrows.
Roone grinned and picked up his beer. “That would be correct.” He took a sip. “What about you?”
Kyle shrugged. “There’s not much to tell. I teach surfing.”
“Everyone has a story. It’s what makes you interesting.” Roone leaned in a little.
“You think I’m interesting?” He’d been called many things over the years. Aimless, lazy, a beach bum. It was mostly true, except he wasn’t lazy; he just didn’t know what to do with his life. At twenty-five there was no rush. He had a bit of money in the bank and made a living.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.” There was a glint in Roone’s blue eyes. They were as mesmerizing as the sun on the ocean.
He blinked. He hadn’t even finished his second beer, but lust and alcohol punched him in the stomach and the heat spread. His leg twitched under the table. He’d thought he’d be picking up Roone, but instead he found himself being picked up, and he was liking it.
How far would it go tonight? It could go nowhere. He could enjoy a nice dinner with a hot guy and not end up in his bed.
“What are your plans for this week?” Kyle tried to sound casual, as though it wasn’t an invitation for more.
“I want to finish my lessons… then I’ll find something to do for Christmas. It’s going to be weird not being home.” And the smile left Roone’s face.
Kyle frowned. Roone must really like his family. “I’m sure your family will miss you. You could go home and surprise them.”
Roone went whiter, if that were possible. “No. That’s not how it’s done. I have to spend the year on my own.”
“That sounds a bit harsh.” Roone’s family had some pretty odd rules.
Roone picked at the label on his beer. “Just the way it’s done.” He glanced up. “Who will you be spending Christmas with?”
This had gotten personal really fast. Kyle fidgeted and picked up another slice of pizza. “My family isn’t close.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” He actually seemed genuinely sad.
“It’s no big deal. Christmas just reminds me how crappy my childhood was.” He usually went for a surf, then microwaved something and drank. That was pretty sad, and he wasn’t going to admit to any of that out loud. He didn’t need a pity party, and he wasn’t going to throw himself one either.
“Well if you have no plans and I have no plans….” Roone raised one dark eyebrow. “Too soon?”
It was just a little. Kyle drew in a breath. He could resist, at least for tonight. Would his resolve last the week? He didn’t like his chances. But was it a one-night stand if they were actually friends and had been seeing each other all week? He was going to err on the side of no. Already he was finding ways to bend his new rule.
He’d give this thing a few days and then see if the attraction was still burning through him. Maybe it would pass. More likely it wouldn’t. “We’ll see. Dinner was nice. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
That wouldn’t be awkward at all. Although it would be less awkward than if they’d spent the night together. He went home alone feeling virtuous as well as lonely. He wasn’t sure he liked being on his best behavior.
clear Kyle was more than a little interested in him, but also that he was holding back. Roone could hear his time ticking away, and he’d been hoping Kyle would spend the next couple of weeks with him.
Was he looking for a reason to stay?
He didn’t know. After the lesson he helped Kyle pack up.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to.”
Roone shrugged. “I’ve got nowhere else to be.”
He wanted to soak up as much sun and surf as he could. In case he went back. And if he stayed? He had no idea what he was going to do if he stayed. That scared him. At least if he went home he knew what was waiting for him.
“I’m going to head out.” Kyle hooked his thumb at the waves. They were bigger today. Kyle looked at him for a moment. “Did you want to come?”
There was no way he was good enough to go out and actually attempt to surf. “You think I’m ready?”
“No, but jumping in is the only way to learn.” Kyle gave him a grin that suggested he thought Roone would back out.
Jumping in was what he’d been doing all year. He wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to surf with Kyle. “So like a private lesson?”
“Yeah. Let’s call it that.”
Roone was tempted to say something else, but he bit his tongue. There was obviously a reason Kyle wasn’t looking for more. Yet when Roone looked at him, he saw Kyle’s need for something. This was a man who needed a little magic in his life, and Roone could give him that for a short time.
“You just want to laugh at me as I fall off.”
“Yep,” Kyle said with a grin. “But I want to see you get back on and try again too.”
They headed out farther than they had with the class. If Kyle was at all worried, it didn’t show. The ocean seemed a whole lot bigger now. Too big maybe. The world was too big, and he had no place in it.
Well, he’d have to make one.
“It’s just like we’ve been doing.” Kyle was watching the water. He seemed in his element. A natural smile curved his lips. “Okay, get ready.”
Roone was so not ready, but as the wave came closer, he gave it try. Managed a couple of seconds of riding before tumbling off and into the cool sea. When he surfaced Kyle was laughing.
“It’s easier to snowboard. The snow doesn’t move under your feet.”
“Well, you can laugh at me when I try to learn how to snowboard. I’ve never even seen snow.”
There was a moment of silence as they both realized what Kyle had said. There would be no later. Roone climbed onto the board and gave surfing another few tries. He eventually got back to shore absolutely exhausted and feeling like he’d been drowned for good measure.
Kyle gracefully rode the wave in. “Come on.”
“No, I’ll watch you for a bit.” That would be a better way to spend his time. He could look even if there was no touching. He was trying not to be disappointed and to just enjoy what was on offer. If he was interested in just sex, he could’ve gone out and picked up.
However, he liked the connection. That little bit more, even if they both knew it wasn’t going to last. He liked leaving his lovers with a little magic in their lives and a happy memory.
He liked doling out magic. That did tip the scales to the side of going home.
But he loved to see the effect the magic was having, when people opened their eyes and believed for half a second. He wanted Kyle to believe. He obviously didn’t or he’d have noticed the points of Roone’s ears already. Most adults didn’t notice a thing.
Kyle paddled out, and Roone leaned back and watched. The sun started dipping lower. Kyle eventually came back in, emerging out of the ocean all wet and tanned. Roone gave a small sigh as his gaze skimmed all of Kyle.
He’d taste like salt water and be cool to the touch. Roone pressed his finger into the warm sand.
Kyle sat down next to him. “Didn’t think you’d still be here.”
“I was enjoying the view.” And the sunset. He glanced at Kyle, but Kyle didn’t take the bait. He wanted to ask what was going on, but he knew enough about humans to know that was the fastest way to shut it all down. Elves were much more open. He missed that. Another point for going home. But then there was the thrill of the chase. A point for staying. “Can we do this again tomorrow?”
Kyle glanced at him. “Yeah, why not?”
all smiles as he once again threw himself into learning to surf. He was ahead of the class now because they’d gone out together every afternoon. It had been a long time since Kyle had really shared what he loved with someone else. Roone made it easy. Though there was no missing the heat in the other man’s gaze, he didn’t push for more. As Kyle watched him, he kept wondering why he was keeping Roone at arm’s length. No one would kick Roone out of bed in a hurry. He was lean and cute and full of fun and life.
Despite the smiles that were sent his way, Kyle had resisted.
His hand regretted that decision every night.
He was turning away someone really special because he’d been hurt and felt hollow and regretted too many one-nighters before. This wasn’t a casual hookup with only thoughts of climax in mind.
This was worse. They were friends, and Roone was leaving in a little over a week. It sucked. This was the last lesson. The last time he’d get to spend with Roone unless he did something. He hadn’t broken his promise. He’d held out all week. He deserved a reward. So he let his gaze linger, he smiled a little longer, and he hoped no one noticed he had a hard-on beneath the waves.
It would be nice not to be alone for Christmas.
The thought sounded needy. He hated sounding needy. He didn’t need anyone.
No, but he wanted. It had been a while since any man had tangled him up so badly in knots. Probably because it had been a while since he’d let anyone close.
He’d told Roone stuff that his last boyfriend hadn’t learned in six months. He didn’t discuss family. Ever. He just let people assume that his family didn’t like the way he lived.
He’d never stopped to wonder what his foster families actually thought. He’d tried not to think about them at all. But Christmas made him think of families and what he was missing. What Roone would be missing this year. They might as well suffer together.
All he had to do was make it to New Year’s and he’d have made it through another holiday season and have the whole year in front of him. And Roone would be gone… unless he decided to not join the family business.
“You’re in a good mood,” Roone said as he put his board on the trailer. He’d helped pack up after every class. Sometimes people were too good to be true, but Roone seemed to be honestly good. Guys like him weren’t interested in no-hope surfers. Not in the long term, anyway. This had short-term good time written all over it. Still better than spending Christmas on his own.
He sighed as he looked at what he was possibly passing up. “Last day of class, then a few days off.”
Roone frowned. “But you don’t like Christmas.”
Damn, he’d remembered.
“I like the time off.” Did he risk it? Ah hell, what was one night? Roone was seriously hot. Maybe he’d give himself an early present.
“I thought we could grab a drink instead of catching a wave?”
It was a bit flat today, as though giving him the perfect excuse to invite Roone over.
He wanted to add at his place, but that sounded like he wanted sex. He did want sex. Lust had bitten him bad, and the toxin was spreading. That he’d already looked Roone up online—and found nothing—was a bad sign in more ways than one. Why didn’t he exist? Was the family business criminal?
“Where did you have in mind?” There was that grin. The one that could break even the strongest resolve, and Kyle’s had never been that tough.
The words came tumbling past his lips. “I have beer in my fridge, and we could get dinner delivered.”
Roone nodded as though carefully considering. For a moment Kyle thought he was going to get knocked back.
“That sounds nice. I’ll get showered up.”
Kyle put his hand on Roone’s arm. His skin was cool and dusted with salt and sand. “Your family’s business isn’t anything I should be worried about?”
Roone tilted his head and laughed. “No. Not at all.” He winked and walked a couple of steps. “Spend Christmas with me and I might even tell you.”
Nope. Nope. Nope.
He could not be bribed. He’d do it because he wanted to.
“You’re leaving.” Why was Kyle torturing himself by getting close?
“I haven’t decided what I’m doing. Besides, I still have a week.” He took a few more steps backward. “One week.”
Kyle held up one finger. “You want a one-week affair?”
Roone shrugged. “Don’t you?”
If he said no, he’d be lying. “Let’s try one night first.”
Roone didn’t reply. He just turned and kept walking toward the shower block.
Kyle crossed his arms. Somehow he’d just been picked up and spun around without even noticing until it was done. He couldn’t decide if Roone was nice, naughty, or just plain trouble.
into Kyle’s SUV. He’d been told more than once by other travelers that he should be more careful about who he hopped into cars with. But nothing had ever happened to him. Just having an elf around—even if they didn’t believe in him—put people on their best behavior.