Authors: Eden Winters
Well, of course Rico sprang for the drink. If asked to pay for it himself, Alex wouldn’t be allowing the garrulous man to fawn over him like some lovesick schoolboy. Rico was an annoyance Alex endured for the perks, such as his choice of the lovelies who frequented the club and never having to wait in line. Rico also wouldn’t be too angry about being brushed aside for another. No, instead the opportunistic club owner would indulge his inner voyeur via the security cameras installed throughout the building, perpetuating the game of cat and mouse he’d played with Alex for the past few months.
Alex accepted his martini, gracing his host with a smile in lieu of thanks, and then brushed the barest tips of his fingers across Rico’s lips, gratified at the shudder they inspired. “I know you’re busy, baby, so I won’t keep you,” he said by way of dismissal, making his way to the crowded dance floor to pick out the lucky man, or woman, who’d share his bed tonight, or a corner of the back room. He actually preferred men, but he didn’t want to discourage the holders of his purse strings, who hoped he’d provide a son to carry on the family name.
Artfully arranging himself against a shadowed wall, he watched with a predator’s eyes the beautiful bodies writhing in time to the hard beat of a techno tune, provocatively dressed and parading themselves, waiting to be noticed.
He silently assessed the hopefuls, dismissing one after another for some flaw: too fat, too thin, hideous clothes, too much makeup, thinning hair, etcetera, until he selected a promising prospect and settled in to wait. Two young men, barely of legal age to be in such a club, were staring into each other’s eyes, oblivious to all else around them. Alex’s lips twitched into a devious smile. This was going to be fun.
He watched the couple kiss and caress each other to the point where he had to reach down and adjust the prominent bulge in his slacks. When they were nearly making love on the dance floor, he made his move.
Draining his martini, he discarded the empty glass on a nearby table, ignoring the indignant “Hey!” from its occupants. With precise timing, he eased onto the dance floor, neatly inserting himself between the two dancers. He turned his back to the attractive brunet, his true target, facing the less desirable member of the couple instead. Putting on his best predatory smile, Alex wrapped his arms around the man’s slender shoulders, locking their mouths together, his tongue demanding entrance. After a moment’s hesitation, access was granted. Alex winced at the taste of cigarettes and beer, which only proved him right in not pursuing this particular offering.
The man pulled back and exclaimed, with a fervor normally reserved for fans meeting their rock-star idols, “I know you! You’re that rich guy, Alex Martin. Gawd, you’re hot!”
Alex inwardly cringed at his entire existence being boiled down to “rich guy.” Outwardly, he poured on the charm, enduring the blatant flirtation of his admirer. More than likely the guy thought he’d hit the pickup jackpot. The blond leaned in to resume the kiss, as Alex predicted he would, disregarding the incensed brunet, who loudly protested the turn of events.
Before either of the pair could react further, Alex pushed the guy away and trained his heated gaze on the bewildered eyes of the other dancer. Jilted lovers made such easy prey. He grabbed his intended target by the shoulders, pulling him into a tight embrace, and then reached down to clasp a gloriously tempting ass. “Why should I settle for him when I can have you?” Alex purred, nibbling a sensitive earlobe and eliciting a gasp.
Upset at being brushed carelessly aside by his partner, the brunet didn’t even put up a token protest when Alex claimed his lips in a bruising kiss.
Yes, definitely the wiser choice. Apparently, this half of the couple liked rum and Coke and, thankfully, seemed to be a nonsmoker. Alex hated the inevitable whining when he refused a sex toy a postcoital cigarette, for he loathed the things and didn’t allow smoking in his condo. He smiled, noticing that, judging from the hard length pressed against his thigh, the man boasted a cock to be proud of. Pulling back from the kiss and making his choice between bed or back room, he leaned in to be heard above the music. “What do you say to getting out of here?”
The guy nodded, and Alex couldn’t keep the smirk from his face. The whole process had taken less than five minutes. Too easy. Wrapping an arm around the fuck
, Alex led him away from the dance floor and the blond, who even now stuttered a protest. “James, you get your ass back here now, or it’s over!”
“Anyone important?” Alex asked.
He received the exact reply he’d expected. “No.”
man he’d picked up proved to be an adequate lover, if not astounding. Alex had slept with so many over the years that it was becoming more and more difficult to find anything other than the same old, same old.
Gazing down at the sleeping form tangled in the silk sheets of his bed, he experienced a twinge of something others might label “remorse.” No, Alex didn’t regret alienating the two lovers at the club or taking advantage of others’ emotions. What disappointed him was how quickly the guy’d given in. Where was the thrill of the chase if you got anyone you wanted simply by asking? Faces and names (if he’d even known them to begin with) blurred together in an endless stream of willing mouths, asses, and pussies, freely offered because of who he was, what he looked like, or the advantages to be gained by sleeping with him. He knew it was a perverse desire, but for once he’d like to find someone who thought enough of themselves not to settle for the quick fuck-and-forget he offered—someone to tell him no or hold out for more.
Reaching down, he grasped a spray-tanned shoulder and shook the sleeping youth. “Hey, time to get up.”
Sleepy, crystal-blue eyes slowly opened to gaze up at him in confusion—something Alex hadn’t noticed last night in the heat of passion. What a pity; he’d always been partial to brown eyes. Oh, well, this one wasn’t a keeper, anyway.
“Wha…?” the young man asked, clearly fighting off the remnants of sleep.
“You need to go,” Alex said, catching a whiff of morning breath and deciding last night wasn’t worth a thank-you after all.
“Why? I thought we could do it again,” the naked man purred, obviously waking up enough to realize where he was and with whom.
“That’s not possible; I have a plane to catch. Get dressed and let yourself out.”
Generous lips formed into a pout. “You’re kicking me out?”
“No, I’m telling you to leave. I have to pack and get to the airport.” Inwardly Alex cringed. Apparently his one-night stand didn’t catch on quickly. Why did he always end up with the beautiful but dumb ones?
Alex narrowed his eyes, using the intimidating glare he’d perfected over the years in similar situations. “You thought what? That I wanted more than a fuck? Whatever did I do to give you that idea?”
The disbelief on the guy’s face might have been considered adorable if Alex were the kind of man who found things adorable, which he wasn’t. Besides, he needed to hurry.
“Well, last night, when you made love to me—” the man whined.
Again Alex cut him off. Leaning down, nose to nose with a guy who’d worn out his welcome, he growled, “We did
make love, we
. It was passable, but losing points by the minute. Now, get up and get out.” He turned his back in dismissal, entering his massive closet to begin choosing the necessary clothing for his trip.
Hmmm…. He’d worn that suit before; he’d have to buy a new one. Listening with half an ear, he heard the sounds of his guest dressing and hoped to hear his front door closing at any moment.
When the sound of slamming doors didn’t reach his ears, he turned, only to find the lost-looking pickup, half-dressed, watching him with tear-filled eyes. “What now?” Alex huffed, his patience nearing an end.
The boy sniffled. “I don’t know where to go. That was my boyfriend with me last night. I don’t think he’ll welcome me back with open arms now.”
Alex allowed the nuisance to see every bit of the anger and impatience he could muster. “And that’s my fault how? Did I hold a gun to your head and force you to reject him in favor of the first person who noticed you? Hmm? Did I? Did I make any promises other than to fuck you into the mattress? A promise I kept, by the way.”
“No,” the now not-so-sexy boy answered. One lone tear spilled down his cheek.
Not tears! Alex needed to act quickly or the annoying sympathy he’d never completely squashed in the name of being an Anderson would come into play, and he wouldn’t make his flight in time. Thinking back to his cold, unfeeling grandparents and their self-righteous superiority, he used the lessons they’d taught him from birth and hardened his heart. Channeling the spirit of his ice-cold grandmother, he snapped, “Would you please get out of here? I told you I have things to do!” He turned his back, gratified at the forceful slam of his front door seconds later. Hurriedly checking his security cameras to ensure his guest hadn’t enacted some form of revenge, he promptly pushed the whole episode out of his mind, returning his attention to packing and what he’d be facing in the coming days.
How he hated funerals! His uncle controlled his allowance, though, making his appearance mandatory. He sighed. No, the obligatory trip to LA wasn’t the reason for his bad mood; that was merely what he’d told his casual acquaintances when they’d asked. Truthfully, for all his projected indifference, Alex cared for Uncle Alfred and his uncle’s partner, Byron, and even if he didn’t visit them often, he’d always counted on a warm welcome when he did. Therein lay the problem. A certain amount of guilt, one of many emotions he avoided religiously, plagued him for not being with Byron at the end. The slight wasn’t intentional, only every time he booked a flight, he’d later panicked and canceled. Though she’d passed away a painfully long time ago, images of his dying mother haunted him, and he couldn’t bear to witness such a painful end to yet another person he cared about. A coward? Him? Absolutely. Now he had to face his uncle, knowing he’d let the man down.
He secretly envied the two men their close relationship and never once viewed his uncle’s lover as the gold-digger his grandparents accused the man of being. No, the money had meant absolutely nothing to Byron Sinclair, and Uncle Alfred himself had been the center of the redhead’s universe. Long ago, Alex gave up on the dream of one day meeting someone who saw beyond the face, body, expensive condo, and money. Someone who took the time see Alex, the man, lurking under the façade of Alex, the wealthy playboy. Someone who loved classical music and a good book, and who’d rather spend a quiet evening at home than out clubbing. Someone who would take him down a peg or two when Anderson arrogance inflated his ego, as Byron had done for his uncle. He’d come to terms with the fact that he’d never have what those two men shared, and, deep down, it broke his heart that his uncle no longer had it, either.
gray Bishop sky reflected the gloomy mood of the lone man sitting on the rooftop—his sanctuary in times of trouble. His much-loved uncle had died far too young, and Paul hadn’t been there to offer comfort at the end. His uncle had rallied on Friday, and everyone concerned had deemed it safe for Paul to go home, check on his bookstore, and then return to Los Angeles the following week. The poor man hadn’t lasted long after Paul’s departure, and Alfred, Uncle Byron’s partner, had called and broken the sad news scant moments after Paul arrived home.
The two older men had made a striking, if unusual couple, and regardless of the difference in age, status, and hereditary wealth, they’d created a lasting relationship strong enough to withstand numerous hardships, showing any detractors the error of their ways.
Despite his sorrow at his uncle’s passing, Paul smiled, fondly recalling the two men who were like fathers to him, filling the void created when his own father died in a senseless mugging when Paul was a boy. The example they’d set would be hard to follow. Still, he hoped someday he, too, would have a loving, enduring relationship like theirs. He promised himself, and his uncle, not to settle for anything less.
Those generous-to-a-fault men would have spoiled him if he’d let them, but all Paul wanted was their time and their love. He neither needed nor wanted their money. He’d financed his education with money from his father’s life insurance policy, and during college and after graduation he’d worked hard to save for the down payment on his store, once more refusing to accept handouts from the wealthy couple when they’d offered. Instead, he’d purchased an older building in need of repairs and lovingly refurbished the relic with his own hands—his proudest achievement.
He’d never be rich and didn’t want to be. Even without the uncles’ help, he lived comfortably, managing to tuck away a little for a rainy day.
Unlike that fool Alex Martin,
he thought bitterly. The worthless asshole had never done an honest day’s work in his life and greedily accepted anything and everything offered, acting entitled to the money and never acknowledging Alfred and Byron’s generosity for the gift it was. The ungrateful bastard repaid the kindness by never setting foot in his uncle’s house, except to ask for a new car or a new condo, or some equally expensive status symbol. Why, Alfred’s nephew never once, to Paul’s knowledge, even called to ask about Byron’s health in the months the poor man had been sick. Small wonder that in twenty-six years, Paul hadn’t met the man, and he’d been content not to. It mystified him that both his uncle and Alfred truly adored the slacker, and the unconditional love extended beyond mere familial obligation. They turned a blind eye to Alex’s faults or excused them with a chuckled, “Oh, that’s Alex being Alex.”
Paul stared out over the hazy skyline, huge, fluffy snowflakes starting to fall, making him pull the homemade quilt tighter around his slender frame. Yes, he’d make his way back to Los Angeles and support the man who meant the world to him, and woe be to the spoiled Alex Martin if the bastard chose to show his arrogant face!