Nic arrived back at his hotel suite late in the evening, long after everyone else had left work. And Aidan was waiting for him in the corridor.
Nic paused as he came out of the elevator, wondering for a second if he were hallucinating—if it were some kind of wish fulfillment. He marveled at his sudden loss of breath; the painful tightness that clutched his chest. He’d not seen Aidan since the day of Amanda’s arrest, over a week ago. There’d been no time to talk, what with the shock of the revelations, and the interminable police interviews, and then the ravening media, swamping him from the minute he stepped out of the station door. Aidan had been swept away, refusing a lift back to his apartment, vanishing into the subway instead. And he’d not been in contact since.
Nic took a deep breath, and walked toward his door. He leaned past Aidan to reach the lock, trying his best not to feel the heat of the man standing there, the breath on his face as their bodies got close. He realized with vivid shock just how much he’d missed him: the wave of physical memory was astoundingly strong. He thought he’d been managing easily without him.
More fool, me.
He entered his security code, very conscious of Aidan at his shoulder. Standing there, waiting.
“Are you coming in?” Nic asked, as gently as his beating heart allowed him.
“A ‘yes’ uh-huh?” said Nic. Such a sorry little joke.
But Aidan smiled. “Yes.”
They moved into the living room, Aidan glancing around, probably to familiarize himself with it again. He folded his jacket neatly on the arm of the couch, and sat down. He held himself very upright, as if not allowing himself to relax into its comfortable cushions.
The couch…. Nic shook off the sudden heated memory of the sex they’d had there. Without a word, he went to the kitchen, opened the fridge, and pulled out two bottled beers. He handed one to Aidan and sat down in the armchair opposite him, deliberately keeping some space between them, despite his whole body aching to be close again. He took a long draft from the bottle, needing to calm himself somehow.
“Have you been avoiding me, Aidan?”
“No,” Aidan said quickly. Then he frowned, maybe angry with himself for the obvious lie. He opened his mouth: closed it again. Put the bottle down on the table, untouched.
Nic couldn’t believe the unsettling effect of being with Aidan again, here in the hotel suite where they’d…. He shook himself, mentally. Every inch of his skin seemed raw, as if he stood naked in a sandstorm. Every time Aidan moved, Nic felt a tug in his chest; when Aidan spoke, Nic shivered. He felt on the edge of an emotional precipice, and a wind was buffeting around him, threatening to tip him over.
“Nic. How are you?”
“I’m fine.” Nic bit back a sigh. It wasn’t what he’d wanted to hear, but… at least Aidan was here. “What about you? Are you still angry with Amanda? Worried about the program?”
“No. That’s all been repaired. I’ve been working with my colleague Megan. We’ve restored all the data to the live system, and installed the new search on there as well. Sparks will be back online tomorrow, and with a whole new security system, too.”
“Hackers beware, eh?” Nic smiled ruefully. He hadn’t been idle since Amanda’s arrest, but Sparks had an additional management team now, representing the new shareholders, and they’d agreed Nic should keep some distance for a while, at least until the previous bad publicity had been properly mitigated.
And he’d discovered he was content to step back, the decision made easier when Aidan had also stopped coming to the office. His priorities seemed to have shifted.
“Yes. Exactly.” Aidan shook his head impatiently. “It won’t happen again.”
Nic shrugged. He wasn’t looking to talk about Sparks. But if it kept Aidan West in his apartment, he’d talk about the weather, Paris fashion, whatever the hell else, for as long as it took.
Aidan cleared his throat, carefully. “From what I’ve read in the papers, your reputation has greatly recovered, and the agency will have even further success. I’m… I’m very glad about that.”
Nic bit back a sigh. How very polite. Was that the only reason he’d come here? To talk about Sparks’s reputation? Yet when Aidan met his gaze, Nic could feel the bright, vivid eyes burning a path from his neck to his forehead. It made him shiver against his will.
“Well. I’m glad as well.”
Aidan’s eyes narrowed.
Nic thought maybe he’d misjudged his tone. “I mean I’m glad it’s given me a chance to rethink, Aidan. For maybe the first time, I’m considering whether this life is what I’m really after.”
“But this is you—this is Nic Gerrard. Why would you give that up?” Aidan’s puzzlement seemed genuine. Something else sparked in his eyes: was it concern?
“I fucked up. I misjudged things badly. All these years, I’ve been building my brand, presenting myself as happy-go-lucky, charming, always amenable. Just what the public want. At least, that’s what I thought they wanted. And now, not only have I been shown how futile that was, and how I can still apparently cause such dire offence, I also seem to have lost sight of the real Nic underneath it all.”
Aidan looked stricken. For a second, Nic imagined he leaned toward Nic, as if to reach for him. But then he drew back again.
“Whatever, Nic, it’s your decision. I’m in no position to judge you and the way you run your life. Mine’s fucked up as it is. But on the matter of offence… I apologize on my part for being offensive to you. I know I have been, many times. Despite how it may seem, I don’t consider myself better than you—”
“But you’re no worse!” Nic snapped, then regretted it immediately when Aidan flinched. “Oh, for fuck’s sake. I’m not thinking straight, I know. I don’t know what either of us is doing here, what the hell we’re really talking about. Maybe we should get over ourselves and just forget past mistakes, okay?”
Aidan’s glare met his for a long, silent moment. What the hell’s going on? Did Aidan just want to argue: to provoke? With a stab of utter misery, Nic realized exactly how badly his words might be interpreted. Maybe Aidan wanted to forget everything—working together, catching the hacker. Kissing, touching—all the hours in bed…
Nic was alight with a wild, sharp adrenalin. He was going to fight! He was determined to have this man, and just as determined to know what Aidan wanted in return. He couldn’t let it all slip away again.
“Nic.” Aidan’s voice was low, surprisingly soft, but it cut through Nic’s panic with its sharp concentration. “I don’t want to forget anything.”
What? Thank God. Nic’s heart began beating too fast again. “Aidan, please tell me why you came here tonight.”
“I came… to see you,” said Aidan slowly. He clasped his hands in his lap, twisting them so hard that it should have been painful, not that he seemed to notice. “I want … I want … the other night … it was….” His voice trailed off. “Fuck. This is all too difficult.” He started to shake his head, his expression so miserable that it tugged at Nic’s heartstrings.
His gaze ranged over Aidan; the dark, anguished eyes, the disheveled hair. The long, tight limbs. He remembered them in his bed. He wanted them there again. Damn the man for being so difficult!
“Just say it, Aidan. I’ve missed you, this last week. Like hell. But I’m not going to chase you. Is that what you’re worried about? If you want to back off…” Oh shit. “Well, I won’t leap up and down for joy. But if that’s what you want….”
“You know what I want.” Nic stood up, and put his empty bottle on the table. He went to sit down again, but turned instead, and reached down to touch Aidan’s face. “I want you.”
Aidan was silent again. Nic slid his hand down, his fingers trailing at Aidan’s neck. He had to hold himself back with an effort, to stop at the shoulder.
“I know you do,” Aidan said. There was no anger in his voice, no inflection. “They say you’re a predator, Nic.”
Nic felt every nerve in his body tense up in a sudden, shocking fear. It was an accusation he’d heard before, but never in such a toneless, cold voice. Was that what Aidan really thought? Had Nic lost him for good? “Is it because of what Amanda said, in the police station? She said I’ll always move on, that I care for no one but myself. Is that what’s kept you away?” His throat was tight with pain. “I don’t want to be like that, Aidan. I don’t think I am. I definitely don’t set out to be predatory.”
“But you allow it to happen. Everything’s so easy for you.”
“Aidan, how can I defend myself?” Nic’s voice sounded cracked, even to himself. “It hasn’t always been like that. I had a hard time in my life when I was younger, but I choose not to dwell on that. I’ve had some lucky breaks, and I just want to take advantage of it all. Or wanted to.” He ran his fingers across Aidan’s chin. Solid as a rock. “You had a bad time, too, Aidan. As a young man, and as a growing adult. Is that why you fight everything?”
“Not everything,” Aidan said bitterly.
“Yes, everything,” Nic countered. “Or that’s how it seems to me.”
“It’s too strong to control!” Aidan blurted. “The desire! The need for you. I dream about it—I wake with it. And now I know how you really taste, feel, sound, it’s so much worse.”
Nic’s chest was tight with hope and terror. “You heard what she said about you, too. Wondering what tricks you’d had to play, to get me into bed.” He rested his palm on Aidan’s shoulder, and for a second—oh, joy—Aidan’s fingers gripped his. “But that’s not how it was. You know that. At least, not for me.”
Aidan sighed. He’d tensed up again. “That’s all it is, for both of us, though in different ways. Just desire.”
The noise that came out of Nic’s mouth was a sharp, strangled noise. “Is that what you think this is? Just desire? Lust?”
“I—don’t know. Don’t question me like this!”
“At the risk of repeating myself and pissing you off even more, then why are you here?” Nic tried to steady his voice but he knew it was shaking. He was uncharacteristically nervous—no, shit scared of messing this up any further. “I’ll tell you what I think,” he rushed on. “What I want to think. I want to believe it’s because you feel as strongly about me as I do about you. Because you think we’re good together. Is that possible, Aidan? Have you felt that way before—with anyone—since your tutor?”
“I don’t know,” Aidan said, low and much too quickly.
“Liar,” Nic snapped. “Coward!”
Aidan wrenched his hand away, eyes sparking anger. “We were a one-night stand. That’s okay with me. I told you, I won’t judge you any longer. I don’t expect anything else from you.”
“Fuck you!” Nic hissed. What was wrong with Aidan? Could he really be that self-delusional? “How can you say that? As if I do this every night, with every person I meet!”
“No, I don’t think that…” Aidan shook his head. “Shit. I just open my mouth and fuck up every time. You want me to say I’ll take whatever you can give? However little it is, however many I have to share you with?”
“No, of course not—”
“Because I will! it’s true!” He dragged his gaze up, and Nic caught his breath at the look of the deepest desolation in those shrewd, gorgeous eyes. “But it’s not gonna last. It’s no one’s fault. It’s the way it is. Our lives are too different. I’m not what you want.”
“So you say.” Nic ground out the words like cloth through a needles’ eye. “You’re like Amanda then?”
“What the fuck?”
“You think that’s all I’m capable of—brief, no-commitment fucks! You’re telling me who I am. What I want and don’t want. What I can and can’t handle. You’re using me! Seems like everyone is, and I’m just the last to realize it.”
“Do you think I can’t be faithful? That I can’t commit to one person?” Nic wanted to say so much more, so much about how he felt, about what he wanted, but he couldn’t get the words straight in his head.
“Have you ever?” Aidan countered, on the defensive.
Nic hated him for that second. But it was a fair point. “Aidan, do you want me to tell you I’ve had no one since you first kissed me? Wanted no one? Because that’s the truth! I can’t think of anyone else—I don’t want anyone else. I can’t see that going away, either, I can’t see myself moving on. And I want the chance to prove that to you.”
“No…” Aidan looked devastated. “It’s got nothing to do with me, what you do…. Christ, Nic, don’t you understand? It’s not just you! Fuck, it’s probably not you at all. I can’t handle it—I can’t handle personal relationships. I’ve never sustained anything past a few dates. I’m not worth the hassle.”
“Crap!” Nic had had enough of this soul searching. He saw this gorgeous man in front of him, and he’d never in his life seen a man more worth the hassle. An angry, argumentative, aggressive man, who’d been shit-loads of trouble; who sat on the edge of Nic’s couch, scowling, a thin sheen of sweat on his hands, his wild hair falling over his brow. A man who had a fabulous brain, and a commitment to his work that scared everyone else off; a man who’d devoted his days and nights first to setting up, and then saving Nic’s company. An exciting man; a challenging man; a man that Nic didn’t really understand.
A man who was hurting, and who was hurting him in return. Refusing to see that people can change. That history wasn’t always going to repeat itself.
A man he’d been in bed with only a week ago, and wanted to have back there—sooner rather than later, dammit!
A man I love, Nic thought. Oh God. Was that true?
He moved closer, and sat down on the arm of the couch. His thigh was close to Aidan’s shoulder. He saw from the way that Aidan clenched his body away from him that he was fully aware of it.
“No one’s got all the answers, Aidan. There’s always risk. You just do what you can, enjoy what you can.”
“Better to avoid risk.” Aidan’s voice was a gargle at the back of his throat. Seemed he was having trouble speaking. Maybe he felt Nic’s body was much too close. “Better to be on your own.”
“Nah… better to be together.” Nic brushed his mouth against Aidan’s ear. “Stay with me.” He saw the flush start on the other man’s neck, saw his hands clench and open again. Oh Aidan, he sighed to himself. Why were they holding back from each other? It felt so right…. Any risk was worth that, wasn’t it? He didn’t know what else to say; Aidan West was a mystery to him. Had the Gerrard persuasion met its match?
Nic’s libido, though, knew what it wanted desperately to do—which was to nip at Aidan’s neck. The smell of Aidan’s skin was driving him crazy, this close.
Aidan gasped, and stretched his throat up and away, instinctively baring it for him.
“I’m tired. Don’t fight me,” Nic whispered.
“I’m trouble. Don’t bother with me.” Aidan groaned.
“You want me, Nic.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“And you’ll take me….”
Nic moaned softly, the delicious taste of Aidan’s angry sweat on his tongue. “Ahh… well, that’s not the first time you’ve been wrong about me. Takes one to take, Aidan… takes two to enjoy.”
“You chase satisfaction all the time, nothing more—” Aidan was panting slightly, and his hand lifted up to grasp Nic’s shirtsleeve.
“While you’re freezing it out. Don’t you see? Isn’t there a middle ground for us?” He feels so good, Nic thought. This feels so good. His heart was racing, and his cock was starting to demand attention. Even if Aidan couldn’t return affection—not yet anyway—all he wanted was to touch Aidan, even through his clothes; just to stroke his cheek, touch that pale, hot flesh…. “I can’t change my past, Aidan, but I’m damned sure I can do it for the future. I know what I feel for you is different from anything else I’ve ever felt. You have to forgive me for my life.” Aidan shuddered under his touch. The dark-haired man’s hand slid around Nic’s waist, tugging him toward him on the couch.
“Give me a chance.” Nic gasped, his breath tangling in his throat from his need. “Give me some respect. You’re wrong about me, but I don’t know how to show you I mean it.”
“Kiss me, then.” Aidan moaned like he was being tortured, not caressed, then grabbed Nic’s hair and pulled his mouth down onto his.
God, the taste was fabulous! Their mutual anger had always fed the passion. Nic groaned in delight, any further words muffled by Aidan’s glorious, questing tongue.
They fell on each other, tugging shirts up over their heads, Nic laughing as he tumbled down off the cushions and onto the floor. Aidan dropped on top of him, breathless, aching for him. The shine in Nic’s eyes was mesmerizing. How could Aidan have ever thought he could walk away from more of this?
Nic yelped: he’d caught his hip on the edge of the frame as he fell. “This fucking couch! I should either throw it out, or have it enshrined. Are we going to go straight to bed this time, or do I have to talk you around again?”
“Bed is fine.” The sound coming from Aidan’s throat was a real growl, like his voice was out of control, like some animal had been unleased in him. “Couch is fine. Floor is fine, anywhere—” He couldn’t get his hands on Nic fast enough, flipping the button of his pants, sliding a hand into his boxers to find him. He dipped his head to find the patch of flesh just below the waistline. To lick at it.
Nic shuddered. “Aidan,” he panted. “Christ, I love your enthusiasm, but you’re going to have to work on channeling that aggression.”
“I don’t know how I should be,” Aidan replied from a mouth full of soft, tight skin. He wanted all of it—and he wanted it now. “When you get me like this… I feel mad and horny and out of control, all at once.”
“Yeah, that works for me.” Nic chuckled, then drew in a sharp breath as Aidan’s tongue ran down under the waist of his boxers. He grabbed at Aidan’s hair, thickest on the crown of his head, and yanked him back up to face him. “We shouldn’t ignore this, Aidan, should we? This desire that you’re worried about? It’s so fucking good! And all that’s happened—the trouble with Sparks, with Amanda. We’ve seen it all through together. It’s been the best time for me, the very best time—”
“Yeah, right.” Nic talked way too much. Aidan was hot, craving touch, not talk.
“No, it has been.” Nic was persistent, even as he groaned, even as Aidan nosed his boxers aside to get at his cock. “Why are you so reluctant to believe I think a lot of you? That I want you for your company?”
Aidan paused, his lips trembling on Nic’s skin. “I don’t know.” He seemed to say that a lot when he was with Nic.
“So what about me?” Nic’s voice sounded suddenly panicky. He pushed Aidan back, dragging his half-naked body back up to sitting. “Let’s get serious now, before it’s too late. Do you want my company as well? Or just the body? Do you want me?”
Aidan couldn’t answer. He didn’t know what words to use to describe what he felt. He reached out for Nic’s body, to touch him, to find some anchor.
Shockingly, Nic slapped his hand away. “No! Nothing doing. Not unless you agree to give this a chance to be more. Not unless you give me something to go on.” His expression turned bitter at Aidan’s surprise. “Didn’t think I could say no, did you?”
“Fuck you!” Aidan could feel the anger rising again—it had lain dormant for days now, ever since he’d been to bed with Nic. Just thinking about that made him feel good, he realized. Until he let the other feelings in—the confusion, the fear, the pride.
Idiot, he thought. I’m a fool. I’ve gone too far already….
“I wanted to despise you, Nic,” he spat out. He saw Nic flinch, but hold Aidan’s gaze. “I wanted you to be the arrogant, manipulative bastard, who uses people—fucks them, in all senses of the word. That’s what you’ve been, in my mind. I wanted it to be so, so that I could resist you. But what I really want…”
“You really want…?” Nic whispered, eyes wide.
“I want you.”
There was silence for a long minute.
“You still think that way? The arrogant, manipulative bastard?” Nic’s voice was small, and very wary. Hurting. He half-lay on the floor under Aidan, like a strong but wounded animal.
“No.” Aidan’s sigh came from deep inside, like it was torn from him.
“It’s… d-difficult for me,” Aidan stammered. He couldn’t help it, his body leaned instinctively toward Nic, toward the fabulous, muscled, naked chest; the arms Nic had clenched to his sides; the unbuttoned pants. Aidan’s fingers tingled with the need to touch. And when he looked into Nic’s deep, expressive eyes, he saw he was being given a final chance—to be honest, for both their sake.
“We could get together now and then sometimes, that’d be enough for me,” he lied haltingly.
“Not for me,” Nic stated, his voice unnaturally quiet.
“I’d just come around, you can call the times,” Aidan persisted stubbornly, though God knows what game he thought he was playing.
“You could, indeed. But I’m not going to let you in, not on those terms.”
“Shit!” Aidan swore. “I’ll take your terms, then.”
Nic’s eyes widened. “Not enough. Tell me exactly what you want. What you want from me.”
“I’m no good at this!”
“So, practice!” Nic snapped. He rubbed a hand over his eyes. “Tell me, Aidan—or leave now.”
Misery swamped Aidan at the threat. And that’s it! he thought. The words began to spill out of him, stumbling but clear. “I want you, Nic. I want to be with you, and I want you to be with me. The thought of leaving you makes me feel sick. It—I’ve just felt it, just realized it. And not just because I’m aching for you, though I want to fuck you so badly I—I can’t speak properly!” How could he continue, with Nic staring so aghast, so painfully hopeful at him? But he had to. “It’s because you lighten up everything in my life, you make me think about things all over again. You bring things into my life that I’ve kept out—but good things! Like laughing, and mixing with other people, and enjoying life. You make me come out into my life, connect with it. You make me say things I never could before, make me do things I was afraid of.”
He stopped to draw breath; the brief second of silence around him was deafening.
“You’ve done it again.” Nic’s eyes were suspiciously bright with moisture. “You drive me fucking mad, then you come out with poetry like that.”
“It’s—it’s what you wanted to hear?”
“Yeah… especially the bit about wanting to fuck me so badly.”
“Nic… please. Don’t joke.”
“Oh God, no, Aidan, I’m sorry. It’s good—it’s the very best start. I needed to know. But no more talking now.”
Aidan reached again for Nic, touching his chest with a sense of wonder, watching it heave with emotion. It felt like they’d both been through some kind of catharsis. He caught Nic’s hand in his and held it, almost painfully hard, then released the pressure. Dark eyes gazed back at him, and he knew the same look was in his own—both of them were without defenses.
Nic pulled Aidan’s hand gently toward his lap and placed it on the painful bulge that advertised his arousal. With a hiss, Aidan slipped his fingers inside the loosened clothing, and massaged him slowly.
Nic moaned aloud. “Man, that’s good. Bed, now?”
“You’re too used to your creature comforts,” Aidan murmured with a lick of his lips. “I should just push you on your back and make you take it now.”
“Come on, then,” Aidan breathed into his ear, tugging him up again. “I want to feel that cock in my hand, getting bigger. Pulsing. Weeping for me. I want to suck it and lick it and rub it hard against mine, so we can come together—”
Nic was on his feet indecently fast.
Later, they lay on their backs on Nic’s bed, side by side; uncovered; naked. There was sweat and plenty of other bodily fluids drying on their bodies. Aidan’s fingers were touching his and it felt like coming home.
“What did you mean earlier?” Aidan’s voice was very low.
“About you having the biggest and best cock I’ve ever tasted?” Nic grinned lazily.
“Nic!” Aidan hissed.
Nic turned his head and watched how the whole of Aidan’s body blushed. Cute.
“Earlier than that. About having time to rethink.”
Nic rolled over on to his side, so they faced each other, When Aidan breathed, he felt the draft on his shoulder. If he stretched out a hand, he could touch the muscles of Aidan’s thigh, trace the movement as Aidan also shifted to face him.
Nic licked his lips and resisted the temptation… just for now. “I guess this crisis at the agency made me ask—what do I really get out of all this business? All I see now is how fragile it is—the fame, the glamor. How shallow the media’s love and loyalty are. They turned fast enough on me, didn’t they? Don’t get me wrong, I understand it’s their job. But it doesn’t have to be mine, to pander to them. I’m going to take some time out.”
Aidan’s breath hitched. “From the businesses? From Sparks?”
Nic shrugged, the mattress dipping underneath him with the casual gesture. “I’ve got managers, haven’t I? It’ll give them a chance to make their own mark. I mean, I won’t let them forget me. But there are other things I want to do with my life, that I’ve been putting on hold for too long now. Things a little more worthwhile.”
“The Rapport Trust?”
Huh? Nic startled. “You continue to amaze me, Aidan. How the hell did you find out about that? But yeah, I want to spend more time there, where I can make a real difference. They don’t care who I am, what my other business is, as long as I can help them.” He yawned, and decided the temptation of Aidan’s body was just too much for a weak man like him to resist any longer. He would reach out, and he would touch that thigh… then he’d roll his fingers almost casually into that valley between them, and see what he might catch. Again. Delicious…. “Aidan?”
“Uh-huh?” Aidan’s head had sunk back on the pillow, his eyes half closed with bliss. Nic ran his damp fingers under Aidan’s balls, caressing, measuring, stroking, and reaching for the soft skin behind.
Nic knew now was the time to catch him without his fiercest defenses. “How do you feel about helping me? Coming into it with me, into the Trust? Could you—would you be interested in working on something like that? Only if you wanted.” God, he sounded nervous. Aidan had the most extraordinary effect on him.
Aidan turned his head, and gazed into Nic’s face. “You mean on computer work?”
Nic grimaced. “Maybe not, no. There’s not a hell of a lot of computers involved, to be honest. Just leg work and telephone calls, and begging and borrowing resources. Then some physical stuff like ferrying people and furniture about, checking kids in off the street, finding reliable caterers….” He sighed. “Not really your thing, I guess.”
Aidan bit his lip. “Thank you.”
“For asking me. It’s important to you.” Aidan’s expression was astonishingly tender. “I’d be glad to get involved in it. However you need me.”
“But I don’t do cold calls.” Aidan frowned, but he was smiling at the same time. “That’s your department, charming people. Selling… buying. But anything else, I can shift stuff and organize schedules, as well as you can.” He smirked. “Probably a hell of a lot better.”
Nic huffed in mock protest. Actually, though, he could feel himself flush with pleasure. “But hey, I’m going to take a vacation first.” He hitched himself up on one elbow, looking down on Aidan who lay spread out on the crumpled sheet. He seemed perfectly at home with his nakedness, nudging himself up against Nic’s exploring hands. “Come away with me, Aidan. Will you? Wherever you want. A beach, rock climbing, ski-ing… what do you like to do on vacation?”
Aidan smiled through heavy lidded eyes, and yawned comfortably, his back arching up against Nic. Nic’s heart flipped a few beats at the sensuous sight. “I don’t take vacations, Nic. Never have. When have you ever signed off a vacation form for me?”
“Never,” Nic muttered, undeterred. “That means I can choose, then?”
“You need the rest yourself, you don’t have to invite me,” Aidan replied with a hint of his more usual obstinacy. But his eyes rolled as Nic’s hand fisted around his cock again, Nic’s little finger brushing teasingly at the loose skin of Aidan’s sac. “I didn’t say that I’d come—”
“Gorgeous man, I guarantee you’ll do that.” Nic grinned and pumped with a little more determination. Aidan stretched out, beginning to pant. “The things I want to do to you will take more than a couple of hours in the working week.”
“No… Nic, look, some of us have got to work!”
“Christ, Aidan, must everything be a battle with you? The damned place can manage without you, the same as without me. For a while, at least. Anyway, this isn’t a charity invitation. Fact is, I’m not going without you.”
“Beach, then,” Aidan mumbled. “Sand, water sports, snorkeling…” He started to thrust his hips up in time with the pressure of Nic’s hand.
“Sounds great.” Nic’s mouth was dry, his palms beginning to sweat as he watched Aidan arching on the bed. “Rolling waves, sex, too much food and drink,” he murmured, gaze still fascinated by Aidan’s abandon. “Sex, tanned skin that smells—and tastes—of the sun, sex….”
“Always come back to sex, Gerrard?”
Nic’s dick was hard and needy, but for the moment he was happy to play with Aidan. He could feel Aidan’s sexual hunger rising through his cock, straining against Nic’s grip. It was as strong as ever. He wondered if it ever waned. If Aidan was ever going to be passive.
“A change in my life is long overdue, Aidan,” he murmured. He realized how good he felt about the decisions he was making now. “And you’re part of that.”
“Yes. Get used to me, Aidan. Loosen up a little; share a little.”
Aidan gave what sounded like a sob. “The way I am… it’s nothing to do with you.”
“Yes it is, now, because I care about you. Because I want to be part of your life, and have you part of mine. For a long time.”
Aidan flushed. His mouth opened as if to protest—or, judging from the sudden, raw need in his expression, maybe confess something to Nic?—but then closed again. “You say that now, because you want me. Don’t be offended, because it’s mutual. We want each other.”
Nic paused in his caresses. “What? You think I’m saying all this because I want to fuck you? My dick’s leading my head?”
“Yeah.” Aidan’s laugh was a little shameful. “Well, maybe.”
“I said you were an arrogant prick, didn’t I?” Nic frowned, but he gentled his tone. He was still so unsure of how Aidan would react at the height of his emotions. “Sure, I want to fuck you. As soon as I see you, I want to fuck you, you know? And that’s through the mattress and out the other side. And as soon as I’ve done it, I’ll want to do it again. But that’s not the only reason I want us to be together.”
“Be realistic, Nic.” Aidan groaned softly, wriggling as if to prompt Nic’s hands to start stroking again. “Who knows what’ll happen in the future? I can’t risk a commitment, can’t risk letting you down.”
“You can’t not risk it,” Nic ground out. “I deserve a chance, don’t I?”
“You deserve something better than me.”
“No! Hear me out.” Nic lifted his hands away completely, watching as Aidan’s skin shivered at the loss of warmth and attention. “I will keep saying it for as long as you need. I’m going to stay the course for you, okay? Jesus, haven’t I put up with enough of your bad temper to persuade you of that?” He laughed roughly. “You think I’ve had any better time of it, any better role models to go by? No, I’ve never seen enough robust relationships in my time to teach me what to do. Maybe you were right when you said I’d never been faithful, never been committed to one person before. I’ve certainly never been away with anyone before, like I’m asking you.”
“Your friend… Greg….”
Nic grimaced. “He gave me somewhere to live, helped me get started. I was very close to him for a while, I admit. But we were never lovers. It wasn’t….”
“Wasn’t what?” Aidan stared at him.
Do you know what you’re asking? Nic wondered. He didn’t think he could speak the word just yet, even if it teased his mess of emotions, asking to be acknowledged. Love. But wasn’t that exactly what he felt?
“It wasn’t special, like this,” he said softly. “That’s how much I want you—to start something special with you. And to work on it, to make it even better. Even stronger.” He looked back down at Aidan, naked and shivering with desire beneath him, and his breath shortened. He settled Aidan’s cock back in his palm, starting to slick it slowly again, damp with its pre-cum. With his other hand, he slid a finger in through Aidan’s pursed lips, feeling for his tongue. “You don’t have to promise me anything,” he whispered. “Don’t sign anything! Just be honest with me, Aidan. That’s all I ask. You know what a fanatic I am for that.”
Aidan sucked thoughtfully on the finger. Let it linger inside his mouth. His expression grew calculating. “You’ve always been honest with me, Nic. Even when I gave you shit, I knew that.”
“Yeah.” Nic shifted beside him, starting to feel uncomfortably cramped, his reawakening erection bobbing against his belly with enthusiasm. “But perhaps not always with myself.”
“Uh-huh. So where do we go from here?” Aidan asked. His voice sounded hoarse.
Nic grinned down at him, his eyes wide and hungry. He tugged down Aidan’s lower lip and dragged his finger out with a satisfying plop. “Wanna fuck me?”