Authors: Kay Ellis
“That's lying by omission, you idiot! God, twenty was bad enough. If I'd known how old you really were, I would never have come anywhere near you.”
“I know. That's why I didn't tell you.”
“For fuck's sake, Jesse, I feel like a child molester.”
“I'm not a child.”
“Yes, you are!” Devon was shouting at him now, unable to keep his anger in check a moment longer. Jesse took a hasty step back in case he got hit again. “When I think of all the things we did together it makes me feel sick in the pit of my stomach.”
Jesse recoiled at the harsh words, looking more hurt than if Devon had slapped him again. “I thought you liked sex with me,” he said quietly.
“It's disgusting,” Devon snapped, hating himself for being so cruel, but unable to stop the words spilling from his mouth. “And I promise you, it won't happen again. Stay away from me, Jesse. Go and sort your life out. I never want to see you again.”
With perfect timing, the taxi pulled into the kerb and Devon slipped into the back seat, leaving Jesse standing in the rain, staring after the car.
“You okay, mate?” the driver asked, pulling out into the early-evening traffic.
“Fine, thank you. Please, just take me home.”
“No problem.” The man met Devon's gaze in the rear-view mirror and smiled sympathetically. “Kids, eh? I've got a son about the same age. They drive you crazy, but you love them anyway.”
“He's not my son,” Devon replied. He twisted in the seat, looking out the back window for one last glimpse of Jesse, standing lost and forlorn on the wet pavement. “But you're right, I love him anyway.”
THE REST of the week passed in a flurry of business meetings, paperwork, and thrice-daily phone calls from Antonio. Whether his need to keep checking in was out of friendship or guilt, Devon had yet to decide. He arrived at the office early, skipped lunch, and worked late, before going home each evening to fall into an exhausted sleep. There was little time to think of Jesse, although he couldn't suppress the small pang of disappointment he felt each morning when Jesse wasn't waiting outside work, and again when he wasn't there in the evening. It seemed he had taken Devon at his word and was staying away. That was a good thing, Devon told himself. It was what he wanted.
So why did he still look for Jesse everywhere he went?
Friday arrived, and with it Antonio's dreaded dinner party. If he was honest, Devon would rather stay home and wallow in self-pity than face people, but Antonio was sending a car. It was easier to give in and go to the damn party than argue. He dressed simply in a navy-blue suit and a pale-blue dress shirt, knowing he looked good, although it did little to make him feel any better.
Arriving at Antonio's, he shook hands and made polite conversation with the other guests, all the while cursing Antonio for inviting him to a party where he was the only person Devon knew. There were eight of them in total. Antonio was accompanied by his latest love interest, and then there was Devon, a married couple, and three of Antonio's single friends as promised... or threatened, depending on which way one looked at it.
As the evening wore on, Devon found he was spending most of his time with Antonio's new boyfriend. Sean was young, though he still had several years on Jesse, and felt as out of place at the dinner as Devon did. He was witty, amusing, and possessed a good deal more intelligence than Antonio's usual choice of partner. The sad thing was, it was those same admirable traits that made it doubtful he would last longer than a couple of weeks. Antonio liked his boys to be a little on the dumb side.
For now, however, it was not lost on Devon that Antonio kept a jealous eye on both him and Sean throughout the evening. Perhaps he was worried Devon would tell Sean about his dalliance with Jesse. Or maybe he thought Devon would get his own back by seducing
boyfriend. If it hadn't been for the fact Sean was a nice kid and obviously besotted with Antonio, Devon might have been tempted to do just that.
By dessert, Antonio had tired of being ignored by both his beau and his star guest. Quite deliberately, he concocted some weak excuse to remove Sean and replace him with one of the eligible bachelors. If the evening had been bad before, it suddenly seemed much worse. The man, whose name Devon could not remember for the life of him, was a crashing bore, droning on endlessly about his city financier job, two large houses, numerous cars, exotic holidays, and his racehorse, never seeming to notice Devon's boredom. What's more, he seemed to think sex was a sure thing at the end of the night, making Devon wonder just what Antonio had told him.
The second the clock struck midnight, Devon made his excuses and prepared to leave. Eligible Bachelor Number One was instantly at his side, oozing sickly charm.
“I'll see you home.”
“There's really no need.”
“Please, I insist.” He ran his hands down Devon's arms. “We can get to know each other better,” he whispered.
Devon fumed inwardly. Had Antonio told this guy he was on a sure thing? If and when he felt the need to fuck a complete stranger, he hoped he could do better than this creep.
“I think I know all I need to know,” he said, his tone glacial. The man's hands fell away abruptly.
“What's the problem?” His mouth twisted into an ugly line. “Am I too old for you? I heard you like them young.”
been gossiping. Some friend he turned out to be. Devon grabbed his coat and walked out the door without bothering to say goodbye to anyone. With the exception of Sean, he honestly didn't care if he never saw any of them again. And right now, that included Antonio. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the leather seat as Antonio's chauffeur drove him home.
Nodding to the building security guards on his way through the foyer, Devon took the lift up to his floor. Letting himself into his apartment, he automatically put out a hand to disengage the alarm. His hand froze halfway to the panel. He clearly remembered setting the alarm on his way out the door. So why was it off now?
“Hello?” he called, feeling slightly foolish. “Is anyone there?”
Like a burglar is going to answer,
he thought, suddenly cross with himself for being so paranoid. He was alone in a silent apartment. It was a secure building. There was no way a burglar or anyone else could have gotten inside. Even if they did, it was impossible anyone would know the code to unset the alarm. He must have forgotten to set it after all.
Relaxing slightly, he kicked off his shoes and padded barefoot through to the bedroom, putting his keys and phone on top of the dresser. He stripped off his clothes, letting them drop to the floor. He would tidy them away in the morning when he wasn't feeling quite so tired and pissed off. It was late, but he still intended to have a shower before getting into bed. Sitting on the side of the bed, he unfastened his watch and laid it on the bedside table, his mind drifting back to the alarm.
Shaking his head, he tried to dismiss his unease. The alarm was off because he forgot to set it. End of story. The only two people in the world who knew the code were him and Jesse.
Jesse knew his alarm code.
He leapt to his feet just as Jesse appeared in the doorway of the en-suite bathroom.
“Where the fuck have you been?” Jesse demanded.
DEVON'S eyes flew to the dresser and his phone. Could he reach it before Jesse reached him? Jesse was drunk. Devon could smell the alcohol on him from several feet away. Would it slow his reactions enough for Devon to get to his phone?
Taking his chances, he lunged toward the dresser, but Jesse moved faster, seizing Devon around the waist and throwing him bodily onto the bed. He landed on top of Devon, knocking the air from his lungs. Devon was bigger and stronger than Jesse, but Jesse was fuelled by alcohol and God only knew what else. Pinned to the sheets by Jesse's weight and still winded, Devon was helpless as his arms were yanked above his head and both wrists tethered to the wrought-iron bedstead. He twisted his head round and saw he was tightly bound with a pale-blue silk tie, a tie he had bought Jesse a couple of months ago. If Jesse had brought it with him, tying Devon up was part of his plan.
Realizing he was completely at Jesse's mercy and wearing nothing but his boxers, Devon began to feel afraid. He struggled against his bonds in vain while Jesse watched impassively. Breathing heavily, Devon stopped fighting to free his hands and turned his attention to Jesse.
His teenage ex-lover swayed slightly on his feet as he slowly peeled his own clothes off, until he, too, was in his underwear. Crawling up the bed, taking deliberate care not to make body contact, Jesse lay down, one arm tucked beneath his head.
“Where were you?” His voice was flat and emotionless as though, in contrast to his actions, he could not care less about the answer.
Devon glared at him. “Untie me and I'll tell you.”
“No.” Jesse shook his head. “Tell me and I'll untie you.”
“I was at a dinner party at Antonio's.”
Jesse's eyes darkened at the mention of the older man's name. “Were you with anyone? Another guy?”
“What does that mean?” Jesse blinked sleepily.
“There was a man who wanted to come home with me. I don't even remember his name.”
When he got no reply, Devon looked across to see Jesse's eyes were closed and he was breathing deeply.
Damn it, Jesse! Don't go to sleep now!
He tugged again on the tie, managing only to tighten the knot Jesse had fastened so efficiently.
Yelling or calling for help was pointless. There were only two apartments on each floor of the building and the one across the landing had been empty for months. Devon knew the woman in the apartment above was away on business and the man who lived below was profoundly deaf. The building security guards were too far away. Absurdly, despite his predicament, he was loath to wake Jesse. He looked so peaceful when he was sleeping.
Digging his heels into the mattress, Devon managed to push his body farther up the bed, which temporarily eased the tension in his arms. After a while, he dozed, although he wouldn't have thought it possible given the position he was in. Two hours later, he woke to the sound of Jesse in the throes of a nightmare. Jesse writhed on the bed, his face contorted with pain.
“No... please... please don't.” He let out a feral cry, fingers clutching at the duvet. “Please... it hurts....”
Devon shouted. Jesse flinched, but didn't wake, continuing to throw his head from side to side, pleading with whoever haunted his nightmare not to hurt him. Using as much force as he could muster, Devon kicked him hard. With a howl, Jesse sat bolt upright, fully awake.
“You were having a nightmare,” Devon said and Jesse turned to look at him, wide-eyed and disorientated. “What was it about?”
“I don't remember.”
It had to be a lie. Jesse was as scared now he was awake as he had been in his dream. Scrambling from the bed, Jesse ran to the bathroom. The door slammed behind him, but Devon could still hear him throwing up into the toilet bowl. God, he was so messed up. Was it Devon's fault? Did he cause this? Or was it Antonio, evoking memories of the past, taking him back to his thirteen-year-old self when he was attacked by his foster brother?
A few minutes later, Jesse reappeared. Without meeting Devon's questioning gaze, he crossed the room and turned out the light. The room plunged into darkness. Seconds later, the mattress sagged beneath his weight. Devon held his breath, waiting, but Jesse quietly lay down again.
“Are you okay?”
“It was just a bad dream, Dev.”
It was his choice not to talk about it if he didn't want to. Devon couldn't make him. Shifting uncomfortably, he tried to ease the pain in his arms. They had been tied above his head for hours and his muscles burned under the strain.
“Jesse, please untie me. You promised.”
“I can't.” Jesse's voice was sad and muted. “You'll call the police.”
“You will. I broke into your apartment. I assaulted you.”
“You haven't hurt me, Jesse. That's what counts,” Devon said, the voice of reason. He refused to think of himself as being the grown-up. That just brought it home that Jesse was a kid, which was what had gotten them into this situation in the first place. “Let me go. I give you my word I won't involve the police.”
“I don't want to go back inside.” There was a break in Jesse's voice and he sniffed, trying to hold back his tears.
A silence fell between them. Devon's eyes adjusted to the dark sufficiently to make out the huddled figure next to him on the bed, but not enough to see his face. Was he asleep again? Devon lay as still as he could and listened intently, trying to tell from Jesse's breathing if he was awake. The answer came in the shape of four whispered words.
“Did you fuck him?”
“Who?” Devon was momentarily confused.
“The guy whose name you can't remember.”
Another long silence; then Jesse spoke again. “Good.”
Devon's heart began to pound as Jesse suddenly placed a hand, flat and warm, on his stomach. Gentle fingers stroked slow, lazy circles on his bare skin. He knew he should shout, kick out, twist away from Jesse's hand, but he did none of those things. Instead, he closed his eyes, a small sigh escaping his lips.
Encouraged, Jesse edged closer on the bed, his hand sliding up Devon's chest, his thumb grazing over a nipple, which hardened instantly beneath his touch. Devon could almost sense Jesse's smile in the darkness. His hand moved again, trailing slowly down Devon's body, fingers toying with the edge of his underwear and making him tremble in anticipation. Devon's cock was already hard, straining against the confines of his boxers, begging to be touched. Jesse stilled his wandering hand and raised his head.