Authors: Cheryl Dragon
Tags: #Male/Male Erotic Romance
“There’s a marathon of bad sci-fi movies on TV. I’m going to watch that around loads of laundry. You can sit there and heal.” Avery shook his head. “Think I can’t keep my hands off you?”
“That’s not what I meant.” Ken’s cheeks burned. “It was my fault. I won’t do that again. Sorry.”
Avery didn’t look relieved but appeared more as if he were annoyed. Then his expression went neutral as if he were at work. “Don’t worry about it. Maybe, I just wanted to prove to you I’m not as old as you think I am.”
“I think you retired from stripping too early. That doesn’t mean I think you’re old. Your body is still good.” Ken grinned.
“It’s about what makes me happy. I got over being sexually attractive to strangers. That happens to most dancers. The rush is great, and the money helps in the beginning, but after some time, you’ve played the game out. It doesn’t give you a rush anymore. I like bartending and keeping my clothes on,” Avery said.
“You think I’m a freak.” Ken took another bite of bagel.
“No, we’re different. I hoped you’d succeed in all your dreams. I knew I’d never be that lucky so I tried not to hold you back. No regrets, right? We both tried.” Avery walked across the kitchen to refill his coffee.
Ken chewed slowly. Avery hadn’t wanted to hold him back? Their breakup had been epic. A nasty fight had unofficially split them up. Avery had kicked Ken out so they could both cool off. Then Ken had fallen into a drunken hookup with someone else and gotten caught. They’d gone through that drama before it’d showed up on any sitcom. If it wasn’t for Bev, they probably wouldn’t have spoken to or seen each other again.
Avery was loyal. Ken liked a reliable job while he auditioned for others. Now, the memories flooded back. Ken took a long drink of coffee and wished for a real drink. He’d buried the pain, the regret and the foolishness long ago. They’d drawn their lines in the sand and worked together since.
Youth. Stupidity. Ken needed junk food and mindless TV, or he’d do something stupid like start talking. He’d tried it more than a few times in the years after the fight. At first, Avery had snapped at him. In more recent years, Avery ignored him. They’d agreed to disagree on life and pull for the same team. Ken felt as if he were on the outside now. Avery and Bev both liked their lives. Not fabulous or famous but they weren’t searching.
“What’s wrong?” Avery asked.
“Nothing.” Ken took another bite of bagel. He probably looked crazy sitting there staring into space.
“Pain pill?” Avery set the opened prescription bottle in front of him.
Ken shook his head. Why was Avery doing this? So many years. So many things they’d seen together. Every day that mattered from 9/11 to birthdays, they’d faced it all together. They were a part of each other’s story.
“Take it. You’ll heal better without the pain. The sooner you heal, the sooner you can go home.” Avery put a glass of juice in front of Ken.
“I’m sorry you’re stuck with me. I’ll kick in for groceries this week. Buy the pizza.” Ken took the pill even though he’d be sitting on the sofa all day.
“It’s not about the money. We’ve been okay as friends and coworkers. Too much togetherness and we might screw something up.” Avery put the bottle away.
Ken dared to say what they were both thinking. “Sex didn’t seem to screw it up.”
“Sex with each other was never our problem. When you heal, you’ll want more than me. You’ll be back to your old ways, goals and activities. There’s no reason to complicate things in the short term.” Avery put his coffee mug in the sink. “I’m going to get my laundry together. If you have stuff, just bring it out to the sofa and get yourself settled. I’ll add it to mine.”
“Thanks.” Ken made a mental note to get Avery a bottle of detergent and maybe a gift basket or something after this was all over. It wasn’t about money, but Ken hated owing people.
Avery left the room. The tension made Ken want to go to the club, but that wouldn’t fix anything. Maybe, they’d go back to a neutral place, but he wanted Avery to be his friend. A real friend if nothing else. It was there between them, somewhere, or Avery wouldn’t be doing this for him. Unless, maybe, Avery just felt sorry for him.
Ken drank the rest of his OJ and carefully put his dishes in the sink. Pity was worse than hate. He wanted to be a winner, not a loser, and for some reason, Avery’s opinion mattered more than anyone’s. For now, Ken blamed the medication and went to round up his dirty laundry. He wasn’t totally helpless.
* * * *
With laundry done and pizza eaten, the afternoon dragged on. The TV shows weren’t keeping Ken’s interest and he’d taken over the remote. Avery put clean sheets on the bed then returned to the living room to find Ken watching gay porn.
“Really?” Avery asked.
“Come on. The bad movies were horrible, and this is more fun. Technology makes this so easy. Or do you not want me around?” Ken asked.
Avery sat on the other end of the sofa. The movie was something dumb that had young men at a cabin in the woods skinny dipping. Soon, they were sucking cock. Even the ones who insisted they were straight let other guys go down on them.
“Did you ever do it with a girl?” Ken asked.
“No. You?” Avery replied.
“Never.” Ken shuddered. “We’ll never be that young again. I always feel like a creepy dad when I go to the new gay bars.”
“You can’t get twenty-year-old guys anymore. Or they’re kids with messed up daddy issues.” Avery laughed. Ken’s sexcapades and gay bar trips were no secret.
“Yeah. That’s not much of a turn on, even if the guys are hot.” Ken got up and grabbed a couple more bottles of water.
When he returned, he sat closer to Avery.
“There is nothing wrong with men your own age,” Avery said.
“They want to settle down and be domestic.” Ken shrugged.
“Right, they never want to hookup.” Avery rolled his eyes.
Ken looked over at Avery. “Do you want a friends with benefits thing?”
“With you?” he asked.
Ken blushed and leaned over. Avery half-expected a kiss. Instead, Ken went for his cock.
Sliding a hand on Ken’s neck, Avery tried to push him off. Instead, he ended up rubbing Ken’s skin as Ken opened Avery’s fly one-handed.
“You didn’t need to dial up porn to suck my cock,” Avery moaned.
The groans, grunts and foul language from the TV only added to the fancy tongue-work Ken performed. His eyes closed as Ken flicked the head with his tongue and stroked the shaft faster. In no time, Avery was hard as hell and on the edge.
“Shit, don’t tease.” Avery didn’t want a drawn-out suck session. “Friends with benefits is faster.”
Ken smiled and changed his focus to sucking Avery’s balls while he jerked his cock faster. “Come on. Come for me.”
Lifting his hips, Avery stopped trying to talk himself out of enjoying Ken’s body. The climax hit, and he shot cream all over Ken’s face. Catching his breath, Avery watched Ken lick it up and wipe it off his cheek.
“Why don’t I ever get things right?” Ken asked.
“Life isn’t a fairytale or a dream.” Avery pushed Ken back to his seat. “Watch your movie.”
Ken moaned. “Six hot guys in a pile. I never did that. Four was the most I ever had in my bed.”
The bragging was old news. Avery had heard all of Ken’s sex stories. “You’re not dead yet.”
“I’m not sure I’d want it now.” Ken licked his lips. “Fun to watch though.”
Avery opened Ken’s fly and tugged the denim down. “Enjoy it. You can get more in the guestroom.”
“Guestroom?” Ken asked.
Sucking Ken’s cock down his throat, Avery slid one finger in Ken’s asshole. The guy shut up for a long moment. When he started talking again, it made little sense. He wiggled on that couch and begged for more.
Moaning on that dick, Avery added a second finger. Ken shouted, and the cum shot down Avery’s throat. He swallowed and sucked Ken clean. “A nice benefit.”
“Why? Yeah, nice. But what about the guestroom?” Ken stretched on the sofa.
“Friends with benefits is one thing, but they don’t share a bed every night. I don’t want to confuse things.” Avery closed his fly and stood up.
“I don’t want to sleep alone.” Ken pouted.
Avery didn’t either. Deep down, he wanted to hold Ken and never let him go. But they’d fucked around and not talked. That was life.
The next day at work, Ken sat at the bar and went over the dancer schedule for the coming week. Hearing a familiar voice, he found Bev in her office.
“I thought you were going to Reno,” Ken said.
“I am, but I put it off. Come in and close the door, Ken. We need to chat.” Bev waved him in.
Ken closed the door and took a seat. “Everything okay?”
“Sure. Are you feeling better?” she asked.
“The pain pills are working. I’m getting better at dressing one-handed and my shoulder is healing. A couple more days at Avery’s tops. I should be dancing in under a week.” Ken knew Bev would take care of him pay-wise.
“Hold on. Don’t rush back. Customers can tell if you’re in pain or uncomfortable. We need to talk about some other stuff, too.” Bev leaned back and sighed.
“What? Avery is complaining? I can go back to my place now. Take a few days off and just lie in bed.” Ken wanted to be independent.
“No, he’s not complaining. The vibe between you two is…well different. I don’t want any trouble. I count on both of you.” She chewed her lip.
“Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.” Actually, he wasn’t sure, but he didn’t want it to be a work problem.
“Okay. Well, when I go to Reno, you usually take up a lot of the slack with the dancers. Scheduling, managing and so on. Between you and Avery, things are covered,” she said.
“Sure. What are friends for?” Ken asked.
“I appreciate it. Avery might’ve told you that I’ve been thinking about opening another location in San Francisco.”
Ken shook his head.
“Well, I am. I pushed back my Reno trip partly because I wanted do one big trip. Up to Reno and then on to California. You’ll have a lot of slack to pick up,” Bev said.
“No big deal.” Ken shrugged then winced as the pain radiated through his shoulder.
“It is. This could be a two-week trip. That’s a lot of scheduling, deliveries and stuff that has to be handled. Avery is good. I’d rather not have you dancing on top of covering for me.” Bev looked Ken in the eye.
“Not dance?” Ken smelled a setup. “Avery asked you to do this?”
“No. I don’t run my business based on Avery’s or your advice. Avery made his choices, you make yours, but I’m asking you to manage the club while I’m gone. If you want the job permanently, I’d love to have you handling this place. It’s more money, and I won’t have to worry about juggling things,” Bev said.
“I’m not that old,” Ken said.
“No, and I never said you had to give up dancing all the time. But when I’m not around, I’d prefer you focus on the management of things. We have some new bouncers and wait-staff who need to know you’re available.” Bev sighed. “If you don’t want to do it, I’ll end up hiring a manager. I’d much rather it be you. I want someone I can trust here.”
“So promote Avery to manage it all, and hire someone else for the bar,” Ken suggested.
“Stubborn. You don’t want more money? You know this place inside and out. Think about the future, Ken. One day, you will want to stop dancing, and if I’m staffed up here, what then?” she asked.
“This sure sounds like you and Avery set me up.” Ken scowled.
“No one made you fall off the stage and dislocate your shoulder. Accidents happen. I could break both my legs and be in a wheelchair for weeks, but I could still manage this place. I’m offering you a job with a future, and you can strip as long as you want when I’m around to look after the club.” She shrugged. “Think about it?”
Ken nodded. “Okay. I’ll think about it.”
“And if I do go out of town, you’ll take yourself off the dancer schedule and manage things?” she asked.
“At the increased pay scale, yes,” Ken said.
Bev smiled. “Fair enough. I never wanted to hold you back, Ken. But you’re a part of this place.”
“You didn’t hold me back. I never had anywhere to go. That’s the story of my life.” Ken didn’t want to think about it, but that was the truth.
“Life can be shitty sometimes. I got lucky in business. I loved stripping; I love my clubs. But I got screwed in the love life department. Some people can have it all. Some of us get what we get, and we have to make the best of it. Not screw it up.” Bev stared up at the ceiling.
She looked a million miles away. She’d had plenty of men dating her in the years he’d known her, and she’d never talked about her love life from before she’d opened the club. Ken had always wondered. “You were always gorgeous. You had to be fighting off the men with a baseball bat.”
“I was at first. Then…then stuff happened, and I was alone. Young love hurts more than anything else.” She checked her phone.
Ken knew she was hiding something. “Come on. You know all about Avery and my tragic farce of a relationship. Heartbreak and drama, plus working together forever. Why can’t you share?”
She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Fine. I fell for a guy. He was a bouncer at the club where I worked. It was disgusting, crazy and insane love—like you and Avery at first. We wanted to be together forever. Felt like we were one soul.”
“Don’t tell me he was dumb enough to cheat on you? Dump you?” Ken asked.
“No. He wasn’t even jealous of what I did. He knew I wanted to make enough to open my own place, and he wanted to help. I thought I’d have a partner in this for the rest of my life. He was driving home after work. I was off and home asleep when I got the call. Hit by a drunk driver. Dead. Gone.” She blinked back the tears.
Ken leaned forward. “I’m so sorry.”
The strong and independent Bev had tragedy and love in her past.
She smiled. “It’s no one’s fault. You think true love is forever. I was so happy and grateful. I didn’t take it for granted, but I never thought… When you’re young you never think it’ll happen to you. Or someone you love.”