Authors: Kay Ellis
For a moment he thought Jesse was going to refuse, but then he shrugged and climbed back into bed, keeping as much distance between them as he could. He lay on his back, arms folded across his chest, and stared at the ceiling.
“Thank you,” Devon said. He settled down on his side of the bed and closed his eyes, hoping sleep would come quickly, but doubting it would. He was too tense, too many troubled thoughts whirling around his head. And that was before having to contend with the anger radiating from Jesse. “Now go to sleep.”
“Yes, Father,” Jesse said coldly.
Devon's eyes flew open and he stared at Jesse across the dark void, knowing once and for all he would get no sleep that night.
THE TIMING sucked. Worse, Devon knew the reason it sucked was that his mother wanted it that way. For several years now he had flown to New York each July for two weeks to check up on the American branch of Alexander Industries. He showed his face around the office, made himself known to the employees from the highest-paid to the lowest, wined and dined the top brass, and attended several gala dinners to schmooze clients, old and new. Three days ago, Erica suddenly announced that, this year, he was to go in March. She was adamant it had been arranged for months, although the first Devon heard of it was when Emily walked into the office and presented him with his plane ticket. At least the girl had the decency to look embarrassed when he questioned how the trip had suddenly appeared in his diary when it hadn't been there the day before.
Just as he thought his relationship with Jesse was getting back on track, this damn trip threatened to spoil everything. The whole proposal incident had been forgotten, on the surface at least, and neither of them had mentioned marriage again. Thankfully Jesse had been too busy working to sulk for more than a day or two. He had been snapped up for a high-profile billboard campaign, which turned out to be something of a rush job seeing as it had been days away from its big launch when the previous model was arrested for armed robbery. The advertisers were keen to go ahead with the original release date and were even, depending on public response to the billboards, talking about using Jesse in their next wave of television advertisements.
But, happy as he was with the way his career was taking off, Jesse was still annoyed with Devon for going away. Devon would be missing not only the billboard launch, but also Jesse's nineteenth birthday. Devon tried telling Jesse he was disappointed, too, but Jesse was in no mood to listen. Before Devon left, they engaged in silent, angry sex, which had been good, if not entirely satisfying. As soon as it was over, Jesse left, claiming he was too busy to go to the airport and see Devon off.
So here Devon was in the back of a limousine, on his way to yet another dreary dinner party, thousands of miles away from the man he loved, while Jesse celebrated his birthday alone. At least Devon assumed he was alone. He had tried ringing him several times throughout the day, but Jesse wasn't picking up. Was it because he was still mad? Or was he out partying? Devon wanted Jesse to have friends his own age, truly he did, but he was undecided how he felt about Jesse having them while he wasn't around to remind him he was the one Jesse had to come home to. He couldn't bear the thought Jesse might have his head turned by some beautiful, skinny model-type half Devon's age.
Pushing his worries aside, Devon tried to concentrate on the evening ahead. The host of the dinner party lived in a luxurious apartment with magnificent views of Central Park. They had met before and Devon liked the man well enough. He was warm and friendly, with a wicked sense of humour to match Devon's own. His friends, too, proved to be pleasant company, and Devon soon started to relax.
There was but one bone of contention and that was the genial host's blatant attempts to match-make him with the diner to his right. Mark Walker was undeniably attractive, with wavy blond hair and green eyes that sparkled with good humour. He was also incredibly wealthy and much closer to Devon's own age than Jesse, probably just two or three years younger. Devon found him absolutely charming and, as far as he could tell, Mark seemed to like him, too, but they were both embarrassed by the attention they were receiving.
Devon was not surprised when, halfway through the evening, Mark quietly disappeared from the table. No doubt he saw him as some dumb, middle-aged bachelor, desperate to bag himself a rich American husband. And now Devon had to contend with sympathetic looks from the rest of the table, who seemed to think he should be deeply shamed by Mark's apparent rejection.
As soon as he could, he made his excuses and went in search of the bathroom. Taking a wrong turn, he found himself in a large sitting room where glass doors led out onto a balcony. The doors were open, the curtains billowing into the room in the breeze. Crossing the room, Devon stepped out onto the balcony, marvelling at the view from the high vantage point.
“You'll freeze to death out here,” Mark Walker said, making Devon jump as he stepped out of the shadows. “You should have brought your coat.”
“Unexpected detour.” Devon smiled. “I was looking for the bathroom.”
“There's four of them in there somewhere. I'm sure you'll find one eventually.”
“Four? Who on earth needs four bathrooms?”
“Actually, my place has five,” Mark admitted. “But keep it to yourself. Don't want anyone thinking I'm big-headed.”
“Or that you have a big ass,” Devon quipped inanely, and was rewarded with a broad smile. He cocked his head to one side and regarded Mark sombrely. “So, what are you doing out here? I hope you don't feel you have to hide from me.”
“Not you. The rest of them, maybe. I know they mean well, but....”
“But you don't need fixing up with a blind date any more than I do.”
“Yeah. Look, I'm sorry if I was rude in there. It's not because of you.”
“It's fine. You weren't rude.”
Mark sighed and took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. He offered the pack and Devon shook his head. Mark lit one for himself and inhaled deeply. “So what's your story? You're an attractive, intelligent man. I don't get why anyone would have to fix you up.”
“I don't know.” Devon shivered, thinking Mark was right about needing a coat. He wrapped his arms around his body and stared out across the park. “My guess is, my current love interest is deemed unsuitable for a man of my age and stature. Maybe they think you're a better option.”
“Unsuitable in what way?”
“He's nineteen. Or, rather, he will be tomorrow. He has an unstable background and no money. Hardly the catch of the century.”
“Are you for real?” Mark arched an eyebrow and Devon sensed his words had annoyed him, although he couldn't imagine how.
“Have I said something wrong?”
“No, it's just....” Mark frowned. “I thought maybe someone told you.”
“About me. Sorry, but what you said... that was me eighteen years ago. I'd dropped out of college, couldn't hold down a job, my old man kicked me out. I didn't care. If I wasn't there at least it meant he couldn't kick the shit out me when he was drunk. I was eighteen, drinking too much, and screwing anything with a pulse. I thought my life was already over. Then I met Johnny. He was beautiful, smart, and loaded. He was also forty-five. Everyone thought he was crazy hooking up with a loser like me, but we loved each other.”
“Did it work out?” Devon asked, wanting Mark to offer him a little bit of hope.
“He saved me,” Mark replied. “He turned my life around. Made me the man I am today. Johnny forced me to get an education and work for the things I wanted in life. So, yes, it worked. It worked for eighteen years.”
“He got cancer. He was dead within a month of being diagnosed.”
“Oh, Mark, I'm so sorry.”
“Don't be. They were the best years of my life. We were happy.” Mark tossed his cigarette butt to the floor and ground it out beneath the heel of his shoe. “Point is, Devon, if you love this boy, fight for him. Don't let anyone tell you don't belong together.” He looked up in surprise as Devon turned abruptly and strode toward the door. “Where are you going?”
“Back to the hotel to collect my stuff,” Devon whirled around and came back to kiss Mark lightly on the lips. “And then I'm going home.”
“A few weeks ago he asked me to marry him,” Devon said happily. “I'm going to tell him yes.”
STANDING in the hallway outside Jesse's apartment, Devon dropped his bags to the floor and knocked loudly. From inside came the thump-thump of heavy, pulsating music, and he frowned, thinking he could smell cannabis. A minute passed with no answer. Devon knocked again.
All the way there, he had drummed his fingers impatiently against his leg. The journey from the airport took forever, the driver cheerfully informing him that the traffic had been horrendous all day and he might as well sit back and relax. Which was easier said than done when he had called Jesse a dozen times since landing and he was still not picking up.
Added to which, every time Devon glanced out the window, there was another billboard with Jesse staring down, larger than life, giving the world his best mean and moody look. Devon had to admit the picture was a work of art. Jesse looked amazing and, overnight, had become the stuff of fantasy for women and men alike. Stopped at a red light, he'd watched a group of giggling schoolgirls stop by the billboard and snap Jesse's picture on their phones.
Devon had swallowed a twinge of jealousy. Jesse was young, sexy, and beautiful. He would have to get used to other people finding Jesse as attractive as he did. It was a little late in the day to turn round now and tell Jesse he was opposed to him modelling when he was the one to encourage him in the first place. He had just not expected Jesse to be quite so big quite so soon.
The third time he knocked, the door finally opened. A skinny young man with a glossy mane of blond hair looked Devon up and down, an ugly scowl marring his handsome face.
“If you've come to complain, you can fuck off. The music's not that loud.”
“It's not about the music.” Devon sighed at his blank expression and raised his voice a notch. “I said, it's not about the music. I'm looking for Jesse.”
The young man gave him an appraising look. “Are you his dad?”
“No,” Devon said shortly. “Is he here or not?”
“Oh, he's here. Not sure he's expecting company, though. Or should I say
company.” Blondie stepped back, beckoning him inside the flat. Pointing to a closed door off the hallway, he said, “He's in there. Enter at your own risk.”
His words filled Devon with trepidation. Not just the words, but the fact Blondie was getting a kick out of watching him walk hesitantly toward the door. Slowly, he pushed it open and stepped into the room. Whatever he was expecting, it was nothing compared to the sight laid out before him. Stunned to the core, Devon stared for several moments before he could even figure out what belonged to whom in the writhing tangle of naked limbs.
There were four of them locked together on the bed. A brunette with the biggest breasts Devon had ever seen on such a dainty figure lay spread-eagled on the rumpled sheets while a tall, red-haired man lay on top of her and fucked her enthusiastically. Beside her, with one leg thrown over the hips of the redhead, a thin blond man sucked noisily on one of the brunette's nipples. Jesse was buried deep inside the blond, head tipped back, knuckles white where they gripped skinny, fake-tanned hips. Devon knew him well enough to know he was close to coming.
He should turn away. Leave without Jesse ever knowing he was there. But his legs felt like stone and Devon doubted he could move if he tried. It wasn't just Jesse that mesmerized him, it was all of them. It was the way they were fused, four bodies moving as one entity. If it weren't for the fact his boyfriend was about to shoot his load inside a man who was about as far from him as he could get, Devon might even have considered it beautiful.
“Quite a sight, huh?” The blond man joined him in the doorway. “They've been at it for hours. Don't know where they get their energy. Oh, wait.” He held up a small, clear bag of white powder and smirked. “Yes, I do.”
On the bed, the brunette opened her eyes and glared reproachfully at the interruption, showing no embarrassment at suddenly finding herself with an audience. Her glassy-eyed focus settled on Devon and she reached out a hand, tugging hard on Jesse's hair to get his attention.
“Is that your dad, Jess?”
Jesse looked up, disorientated and confused. He smiled slightly and continued to thrust into the blond without faltering. “You're back.”
“And now I'm leaving.”
“No, wait.” Jesse stretched out a hand. “Come over here and give me my birthday present.”
“Come on, sweetheart,” the red-haired man said. “The more the merrier. Right, guys?”
“I don't know.” The brunette pouted sulkily. “He's kind of old.”
“Goodbye, Jesse. Have a nice life.”
With difficulty, Jesse extracted himself from the blond man, who protested loudly. Jesse rolled from the bed and hit the floor with a resounding crash, his legs buckling beneath him. Devon watched in disgust as he tried, and failed, to pull himself upright. Bad enough he should walk in on Jesse mid-orgy, but for him to be too off his face on drugs to even stand? That was unforgivable.
Devon turned his back on Jesse's helpless floundering and walked out of the room. Grabbing his bags from the hallway, he hurried down the stairs and out into the chill evening air. He walked briskly until he was a couple of streets away and sure Jesse hadn't managed to get himself together enough to follow. Unsure what to do, he sat on a low stone wall and dropped his bags at his feet. Taking out his phone, he called the one person who'd always been there for him when he was at his worst. As soon as the call connected, Devon burst into hot, angry tears.