EXCERPT – Top and Tails

It had been a hell of a long time since he got laid.

Karel sighed to himself. That was surely the only explanation for his hungry fascination with the fabulous creature on stage at the Soho “Master Mac” club. A slender, muscled, smooth-skinned, black man with a ridiculously flexible body and a cheeky grin for the patrons as he hung from the pole, more gymnast than dancer. His buttocks were clenched tight, his biceps straining to hold him in place, his feet pointed in the way of a ballet master. It didn’t matter that he was wearing a tee shirt and close-fitting shorts: he may as well have been stark bollock naked. Every single shadow of rib and muscle was clearly defined to anyone watching his moves.

Like Karel.

He sighed again, tore his gaze away from the dancer, and turned back to the bar. One more beer and then he was going home to his rented flat. Just one. There’d be something on the TV at this late hour to distract him, some old movie, some bizarre sex quiz show, another re-run of Farscape

“Shit. Sorry, man.” The guy who’d knocked into him gasped and grabbed his arm to stay upright. He had a firm, cool grip, surprising in this sweaty club room.

“It’s okay.” Rarely did anyone bump into Karel. Something about his size kept a respectfully wide berth around him: he was broad, held himself very straight-backed, and had a direct gaze that some people told him was intimidating. Well, most people who said that were just begging to be intimidated. They were rarely the sort of people he wanted to befriend, or even attract.

And yet sometimes he wanted to attract… but it didn’t work. Notably with his temporary employer Patrick at the With A Kick ice cream   shop. To say nothing of Patrick’s assistant and now partner, Lee. Both gorgeous men, both great company, and both hot as hell. And both now out of Karel’s reach since they officially became a couple. Wait, who was he kidding? He’d never had a chance with either—or both—of them, since they’d been dancing around each other from the moment he’d met them.

Well, that was the price of true love, right? Other people’s, that was.

“You sure you’re okay?” The clumsy man peered at Karel with bright eyes behind horn-rimmed glasses. He was cute, in a rather unique way. He looked younger than Karel, and was also well built, though not as firm. Slightly plump, with a trim beard, definitely bear-like. Comfy looking. Cute. Karel was surprised to find his body responding so instinctively. He wasn’t often attracted to men of his own type.

“You look like you wanna be more drunk than you are.” The guy’s voice was deep, warm, riding on a chuckle. “Or are you high?”

“I’m fine. You’re the one who bumped into me,” Karel said, mildly enough.

The man laughed. It was a loud, uninhibited sound, so maybe he was drunk, but it seemed genuine. His gaze ran up and down Karel and his eyes widened with appreciation. “You’re really fit. You wanna go somewhere and fuck?”

Karel blinked. He could be as blunt as the next man, but this was… totally more so, as Lee would say. “I like your invitation,” he said, no irony intended. “But I’ll pass.”

“It wouldn’t be until later.” The man hiccupped, though he tried to hide it with a hand over his mouth. “That’s my guy on the pole. Gotta wait for him to finish his set first.”

Karel blinked again. A kernel of anger flared into life inside him. “Yes, I think you’d better. And then ask him what he thinks about you asking a stranger in the bar for a fuck.”

The man frowned. “Shit. Did I say that aloud? All of it?”


“Shit,” he repeated. His eyes dimmed behind the glasses. “It’s not like that, you know.”

It never is. Karel decided to forego his last beer and just go home. He’d been propositioned plenty of times at the club—and did some propositioning himself, because that was the way of things and no offence was meant to anyone—but there was something bizarre about this one. “Excuse me,” he said, seeking the way to the exit through the crowd. Pity. He would have liked to spend some more time ogling the guy on the pole, whether he was taken or not.

But the clumsy guy was still up in his face. “Christ. I mean… I’ve been a complete arsehole, haven’t I?”

What was he meant to say to that? Karel just nodded.

“Can I get you a drink? I mean, to say sorry, not to, like, try and seduce you away or anything, you know?”

Karel did know, and he didn’t think a drink would settle it. The stale taste in his mouth wasn’t from thirst. He gave a barely-there shake of his head and squeezed firmly past the man.

“Hey!” The call came from behind him, the apology now mixed with exasperation. “Arsehole or not, my offer still stands, right?”

A burst of raucous laughter showed what the patrons nearby thought of that.

Right. Karel didn’t pause on his way out.

He wasn’t a prudish kind of man, in that he was open to any and all experiences. But open relationships had caused him enough trouble in the past that he wasn’t keen to be drawn into the middle of one again. There were plenty of single men to play with. He just hadn’t found any he liked enough, not for a while.

He gave a final glance at the dancer. The man dipped upside down, low on the pole, his curly hair hanging down from his smooth brow and his palms open in a plea for applause. There was no mistaking his grin of pleasure and satisfaction as the room erupted in appreciation.

Karel watched the man’s face until the door to the exit swung shut behind him.


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