Read Play It Safe Online

Authors: Avery Cockburn

Play It Safe (5 page)

BOOK: Play It Safe
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“Sorry,” Fergus said, trying not to look at…well, anything. “I’m searching for someone.”

The nipple sucker chuckled. “We’re all searching for someone, mate,” he said without looking up. Then he gave a long, low moan, due to the fact his arse was being filled, slow and deep from behind, by a hulking blond with a serpent tattoo coiled about his arm.

“We all
someone,” the snake man said. He extended one hand toward Fergus, waist-high. His fingers curled, his offer obvious.

Fergus’s prick responded—just a brief, I’m-awake-and-need-attention twitch, but a clear signal to

Heart in his mouth, Fergus scanned the ceramic-tile room. Most faces were turned away—occupied with kissing, licking, or sucking—but he saw enough to know none belonged to John.

The mist swirled as the door behind him swung open. “Still looking for your man?”

Fergus turned to see the leonine ginger from the shower room, his hair now hanging in loose, damp waves. “I am.”

“Perhaps he doesnae want to be found.”

“He does. It’s a game.”

Laughter rippled behind him. “We like games,” someone said, his hoarse voice rising above the sex noises. “Right, Neil?”

“Oh yeah,” said the ginger. He eyed Fergus up and down, still blocking the exit. “And this yin looks a win-win.”

More laughter. Fergus’s ears began to burn.

He was used to having the piss taken out of him on the football pitch. Compared to anti-gay slurs from opponents and their fans, this jeering and leering was a just bit of banter.

So why was his heart pounding a million miles an hour? Was it the heat of the steam? Or was it fear that John had already been in this room and liked what he’d seen?

Fergus forced a congenial smile. “I’ll take a rain check, thanks.” Then he stepped forward with more confidence than he felt, as though expecting Neil to move out of his way.

Which he did.

Outside the steam room, the air felt cold in comparison, raising goosebumps on Fergus’s arms. He moved down the narrow, twisting hallway, brushing past a pair of old men who were nearly bald but for their shoulder-length, pepper-and-salt ponytails.

God grant me the courage to shave my head if I lose that much hair
, he thought.

Fergus stopped at the threshold to a casual lounge, empty of men but with more lush decor than the rest of the club. Faux-leather chairs surrounded an oak coffee table near a TV showing BBC Scotland.

On the opposite side of the lounge was a doorway fitted with floor-length black-vinyl vertical blinds. Fergus wondered if the room beyond was off-limits, perhaps a storage area.

Frustrated, he looked down the corridor in both directions. John must have taken the other hall when he entered the lower level, perhaps at the suggestion of the massage-room gatekeeper. Surely he and Fergus would meet somewhere in this murky maze.

Just then, the blinds on the other side of the lounge slapped open. Out strode a muscular man with a long, dark mustache that ended in a pair of upturned points. He stopped short, squinting at his surroundings, and as the blinds swung shut, Fergus could see why. The room he’d left was pitch black.

The darkroom.

“Gonnae stay out of there, mate.” The tusk-mustachioed man stomped forward, fists clenched. “It’s full of perverts.”

Speechless, Fergus moved aside to let him pass. Then he stepped up to the darkroom’s still-swaying blinds. Could John be waiting for him inside?

He wouldn’t.

Aye, John would.

Fergus checked that his towel was firmly tucked about his waist, giving the top an extra twist to tighten it. Then he forced his feet to propel him forward, through the blinds.

Inside the room, a single short strand of orange Halloween lights were draped over a rectangular mirror on the side wall. Other than that, the chamber was utterly dark.

Fergus called out in his head, unable to make his throat work. He knew his white towel and fair skin would make him visible to anyone whose eyes had already adjusted. So if John were here, he’d call to Fergus, right?

Sure, because that’s how hide-and-seek works.

A scuffling noise came from his left. Fergus froze, widening his eyes in a desperate grab for light. Then he inched forward, using feet instead of hands to detect obstacles, lest he accidentally grope a naked stranger.

A rhythmic jingling sound stopped him in his tracks. As the dance music fell into a quiet lull, the jangling came clearer, accompanied by two muffled moans of dissonant pitches. Was someone wearing handcuffs or chains or…dog tags?

Checking the security of his towel, Fergus felt his hand strike the key hanging from his neck, knocking it against the locker tag and producing the same jangle he was hearing in the room. So somewhere, very close, heads or bodies—or both—were moving back and forth, rattling their keys.

“Faster now,” whispered a new voice near the jangly fellows.

Fergus stepped back in surprise. How many men were in here? Was his own boyfriend hidden in one of these shadows?

“John, are you there?” His voice sounded loud and foreign amid the music and panting and jingling.

“Shh!” said the other man. “I’m trying to concentrate.” There came a sudden rip of Velcro. “Gonnae let’s hear you scream.”

Fergus lurched away, crashing into what felt like a soft vinyl armchair, before realizing the man’s last sentence wasn’t directed at him.

The other two voices crescendoed, no longer muffled. Mixed with their clinking keys and rising cries was the third man’s hoarse whisper-shout. “Yes! I’m gonnae come all over youse.”

Fergus’s skin tingled, and his cock gave a quick jerk, then another. He thought of how sex noises drove John mad, how Fergus’s often theatrical orgasms could send him over the edge in an instant. He would love this room.

But unless John was bound and gagged in the corner, he wasn’t here.

Light flooded in as a head poked through the blinds on the room’s opposite side. (At least Fergus
it was the opposite side. For all he knew, he’d traveled in a circle since entering.)

He made a beeline for the light, startling the newcomer as he passed. “Sorry,” Fergus said. “It’s dark,” he added, like an idiot.

He stumbled out into a new corridor, and for a moment he was relieved he’d not gone in circles, stuck in some Moebius Strip of a world, like the Black Lodge from
Twin Peaks

Until he saw what was in the corridor.

So that’s where everyone is.

Lurid red light cast shadows down the hall, which was lined with narrow doors spaced several feet apart. Beside many of the doors loitered a man, waiting.

Watching him.

Fergus looked back at the darkroom. At least in there no one would see the beginnings of the hard-on he was sporting beneath his towel. But John could be waiting for him behind one of these doors.

So Fergus tightened his towel again, literally girding his loins. Then he began to walk. He straightened his shoulders and added a swagger, pretending each man he passed was an opposing footballer, to be neither feared nor fouled.

Murmurs of admiration preceded and followed him, making his face flush. He walked fast enough to avoid contact but slowly enough to peek inside each open cabin.

Not all were empty.

“Sorry,” he said to the first few couples (or threesomes) he came upon, but soon stopped apologizing. They’d obviously left their doors open on purpose.

He quickened his pace, narrowing his mental search parameters to exclude all but John’s features, letting every other face and arse and cock blur into the background. None of these men mattered. Not the gym rat flexing his arms against a door frame, not the pair of faux-hawked twinks dry humping against the wall.

“Oi, big fella! Here’s your man.”

Fergus stopped without turning.

“Aye, you,” the voice said. “I think I found who you’re looking for.”

Fergus spun on his heel. The door of the final cabin had been half-shut, so he’d passed without glancing inside. Outside the cabin stood a kindly looking gent who reminded Fergus of one of his dad’s old mates.

“Thanks,” he said, pushing open the door.

Stretched out on the cabin’s thin mattress, still wearing his towel, was—

Fergus stopped just past the threshold.
You’ve got to be kidding me.

Faint light caressed the smooth skin of a Nordic god, a long-limbed, chisel-jawed blond whose sky-blue eyes stood out even in this dim red room.

“Hello,” the man said in a soft-but-commanding voice, sounding enough like Evan that Fergus took one confused step closer.


The man undid his own towel, revealing a long, stiff cock that curved slightly to the right. Just like Evan’s.

“Why did—why did he—” Fergus’s tongue shuddered through his stammer. “I’m not looking for you.”

“Oh?” Evan’s doppelgänger stroked himself, eyelids hooding. “Then why are you still here?”

Fergus stepped back, fumbling for the door. “Because I thought—I thought you were someone I knew.”

“I could be.” The man’s gaze locked on Fergus’s towel, now tented with an obvious and regrettable semi-erection. “It seems you want to know me.”

“I want—” Fergus stopped, his throat, mouth, and mind paralyzed by the phantom in front of him.

Ghost-Evan reached out with a hand bearing a gleaming platinum wedding ring. “How ’bout it, then?”

Fergus blinked. That was John’s line. He’d last used it to propose a terrifying act of trust, to let their bodies join with no barrier between them.

was what Fergus wanted. And
was what stood in his way. Evan, who’d kept fucking him without a condom for months after he’d started cheating. Evan, who’d taught Fergus never again to put his heart—much less his life—into the hands of any man.

His fingers curled to form fists, and his blood fled north to collect at his face, which burned now with the need for justice. “You bastard,” he whispered.

“Sorry?” The blond quickly sat up, a look of horror replacing his sly smile. “Did I do something wrong?”

Fergus shook his head, returning to the here and now. “What?”

“I’ve never been to one of these places before.” The Not-Evan covered himself with his towel again. “That’s why I had that—that guy out there choose someone for me.” He hunched over, placing his hands on opposite knees, arms forming a protective X in front of his body. “It’s all so awkward.”

Fergus drew in a deep breath, then let it out. Evan wasn’t here. Evan didn’t matter. He wasn’t the one waiting at the end of this journey.

“‘Awkward’ is a good word for it.” Fergus turned to leave, then felt weirdly obliged to be polite. “Best of luck with…everything…I guess.”

“Cheers.” As Fergus swung open the door, the blond added, “I hope you find the one you’re looking for.”

Without glancing back, Fergus said, “I will.”

The corridor was empty now, with no sign of the man who’d tricked him into entering the cabin. When Fergus reached the stairs again, he stopped before the burly massage-suite attendant. “Have you seen a lad about this tall,” he held his hand up to his own collarbone, “dark hair, early twenties, sparkling brown eyes?”

The attendant shook his head. “Sorry, mate, it’s our policy not to look too closely at the folk who pop through. Maybe he’s upstairs?”

“I looked there. I’ve looked everywhere but the—”


Really, John?

Fergus ascended the steps as fast as he could in his leg-constricting towel.

At the top, he turned to enter the wee café. To his right sat plush chairs surrounding a coffee table, as well as a trio of unattended computer stations, each with a
Club 212
scrolling screen saver. To his left was a refrigerated case of snacks and bottled drinks.

And sitting at the bar in front of him, chatting to the server, was John Burns.

“I’m in absolute despair over Fellaini,” John was saying as Fergus came closer. “Half the time he’s on the bench for red cards and the other half he’s on the bench for playing complete shit. Every week I nearly transfer him, but then I give him another chance.”

“I’d keep him,” the server said, wiping down the espresso machine. “He’ll get more starts soon, seeing as Di María’s been the world’s most expensive disappointment. Just keep Fellaini on your bench until he finds form.”

Fergus felt himself smile for the first time since entering the building. He’d given John free rein to go where he wanted, do what he wanted. Yet to assuage Fergus’s fears, John had hidden in the club’s most innocuous spot, and instead of spreading his charm amongst naked men, he was getting fantasy-football advice from a fully-clothed barista.

At that moment, Fergus fell in love harder than ever, and he knew exactly how he wanted this day to end.

= = =

John saw the barista’s gaze slide past him. “All right, mate?” the server asked. “What can I get you?”

“I’ll have what he’s having,” came a familiar voice that made John’s bare toes curl about the rung of the bar stool.

The server winked. “Cheesy toast and a cup of tea, pronto.”

John turned to Fergus. “There you are! Thought you’d got lost.” He gestured to the barista. “This is my new mate Calvin. Calvin, this is—”

“Sorry, have we met?” Fergus asked John as he gracefully slid onto the next stool, sweeping his towel beneath him like a kilt.

Sweeping the hair from his forehead, John purred, “I don’t believe so.” He glanced at Calvin, who moved away with a knowing smirk, sussing Fergus’s game.

It was a game John fancied. He put out his hand and introduced himself, first name only.

“John,” Fergus repeated softly, gazing into his eyes. “I’m Fergus,” he crooned in his lilting Highland accent as he took John’s hand. “Pleased to meet you.”

The current of energy between them nearly knocked John off the bar stool. He slid his palm from Fergus’s and looked at his stranger-boyfriend through his lashes. “Would it be terribly crass of me to ask if you come here often?”

“Not as crass as me answering ‘I hope to come here very soon.’”

BOOK: Play It Safe
11.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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