“No, Christine,” Richard said into the cell phone as he stepped inside the diner he thankfully stumbled upon. “I don’t need to call the hotel or a taxi, I can find my way back perfectly well on my own.” Richard ignored Christine’s response in favor of giving himself a mental kick in the ass for having called her in the first place. Why had he thought that was a good idea, again?
“Christine,” Richard said, interrupting whatever rant she was off on now. “I’m not lost. Just tell Ritchie I called and that I love him.” Richard disconnected the call before he had to hear Christine’s reply and shoved the phone into his pocket with a sense of relief. He looked around the diner, thankful to see that it was empty aside from the man standing behind the counter. He looked to be about a dozen years his junior, held a coffee cup in one hand and wore a bemused expression on his face.
“Hi,” the man said.
“Hi,” Richard replied to the greeting, his feet coming unstuck from the floor with the exchange.
“Can I get you anything?”
“Coffee?” Richard said as he slid onto a stool. He watched the man turn away to pour a mug full of coffee, and couldn’t help noticing the way the muscles moved under his gray t-shirt when he lifted the pot. He had eyes and he was observant, alright? It didn’t mean anything. Richard averted his eyes when the guy turned back to set the mug in front of him. “Thank you.”
“Welcome. Need any creamer?”
“No,” Richard said, “thank you.” And then he took his first sip of the coffee. “Oh my god,” Richard said as his taste buds recovered from the sludge he’d just subjected them to. “That’s the worst coffee I’ve ever tasted. And I thought it was difficult to drink New Christine’s coffee with a smile on my face.”
“New Christine?” the guy repeated with a twitch at the corner of his lips, seeming to take no offense at Richard’s reaction to the coffee.
“Long story,” Richard said. “I’ve changed my mind about the creamer, by the way.”
“How many?” the guy asked as he leaned down and opened the mini-fridge beneath the counter.
“All of them,” Richard said.
“Oh, come on, it’s not that bad,” the guy said as he set a bowl full of creamers on the counter in front of Richard.
“It’s worse,” Richard said as he began opening creamer after creamer and pouring the contents into the mug. “I think you could stand a spoon upright in it.”
“Now you’re just being hurtful.”
Richard looked up with an apology on his lips only to find the man looking back at him with the same expression of bemusement he’d worn pretty much ever since Richard had walked into the diner.
“I’m being honest,” Richard said. “Just be glad you didn’t ask me if that dress makes your ass look big.”
The guy choked on the sip of coffee he’d just taken.
“Sorry,” Richard said. “My name’s Richard,” he added. “In case you need to call 911 for me later.”
“Funny,” the guy said, adding, “Jason.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Jason,” Richard said, raising his mug in toast before taking a cautious sip of the doctored coffee.
“I’m not sure ‘better’ is an achievable goal, here,” Richard said. “I’m aiming for ‘drinkable’, and only because I really need the caffeine.”
“There’s a chain coffee shop a couple blocks down,” Jason said.
“Nah,” Richard said. “Now that my taste buds have all been burned off I can hardly even taste it. Besides, I can’t go back out there.” He gestured towards the street.
“Because I’m hopelessly lost,” Richard admitted.
Jason barked out a laugh. “I thought you were telling, uh . . .”
“Old Christine,” Jason repeated slowly, “that you weren’t lost.”
“There’s no way in hell I’m telling Christine that I got lost,” Richard said. “I’d never hear the end of it. She wanted to have me chipped with a GPS tracker, you know, like they do with dogs and cats in case they get lost? Probably wanted to take me to a vet to have it done, too.”
“You think I’m kidding,” Richard said, making a face when he took another sip of what passed for coffee at the Stage Restaurant.
Jason laughed harder. Richard tried to ignore the tingle of pleasure that gave him. He hid his smile in another sip of coffee.
“So how come you had to drink New Christine’s coffee with a smile and you can complain about mine?” Jason asked.
“Technically, I guess I didn’t have to drink it, or smile,” Richard said. “Only if I wanted to continue getting laid on a regular basis.”
“Well,” Jason said.
“Yeah. That was probably too much information.”
“Can I get you anything else?” Jason asked.
“Whatever you do, don’t get the eggs,” a voice said from behind Richard.
Jason smiled. “Casey.”
A pretty brunette gave Richard a nod in greeting as she made herself comfortable on the stool next to Richard’s. “I figured I’d pick you up, see how bad your hangover was this morning,” she said to Jason.
Jason’s, “I’m fine,” was almost lost in Richard’s, “You made this coffee while you were hung over? That explains so much. No wonder it’s so bad.”
“The coffee here is always bad,” the woman, Casey, said, gesturing with the take out cup she’d carried in with her, probably from the coffee shop Jason had mentioned earlier.
“And hey again.”
“You don’t happen to have another one of those hidden away somewhere, do you?”
“I don’t have to take this,” Jason said, turning away and topping off his own mug. “You both can leave, you know.”
“I can’t leave,” Richard said.
“Oh, that’s right,” Jason said.
“Why can’t you leave?” Casey asked.
“He’s lost,” Jason informed her gleefully.
“I’m not . . . ,” Richard began to reflexively deny, then deflated. “I might be a little bit lost,” he admitted. “But Christine never finds out.”
“His wife,” Jason filled in when Casey gave Richard a questioning look.
“Ex,” Richard corrected.
“Ahh,” Jason said, “so New Christine . . . ?”
“Also an ex.” Richard sighed. “Though we never quite got to the ‘I do’s.”
“Why don’t you want her to find out?” Casey asked.
“It’s clear that you’ve never met Christine,” Richard said. “She’ll never let it go. She’ll have me chipped in my sleep.”
Jason cut off a bark of laughter.
“GPS tracker,” Jason said.
“By her vet,” Richard added. “I mean, she doesn’t even have a dog, or a hamster, why would she need a vet? It’s suspicious, isn’t it?”
“Very,” Jason agreed somberly as he topped off Richard’s mug.
Richard let him. He absently took a sip before remembering that he hadn’t added any more creamer. He reached for the bowl only to realize that it no longer sat on the counter. Jason gave him an innocent look over the rim of his mug.
“It’s gonna be like that, is it?” Richard said.
“It’s gonna be like that,” Jason said. “You hurt my feelings, you have to make it up to me by drinking my coffee, or you can leave.”
Richard sighed, took a sip of the caustic brew. “I can feel my stomach lining being eaten away as we speak.”
“I can’t believe you’re actually drinking that,” Casey said with a grimace.
“He’s been nicer than Christine ever was when I complained about her cooking,” Richard said.
“What did she do?” Jason asked.
“Let’s just say that I learned to eat just about anything she put in front of me,” Richard said.
Jason checked the watch on his wrist. “Hey, keep Richard company while I get dressed? And don’t let him steal all my coffee.”
Jason left without waiting for Casey to answer. Richard couldn’t stop his head from turning so he could watch him walk away.
“He’s a very attractive man,” Richard said.
Casey snorted coffee out her nose.
“Sorry,” Richard said, reaching for the napkin dispenser.
“Oh, no,” Casey said as she blew her nose and mopped up the coffee from the counter.
“I don’t know why I said that,” Richard said. “I wasn’t even thinking it. Much.”
Casey huffed a laugh and wiped coffee off her chin with the back of her hand. “Don’t make me waste good coffee.”
“Tell me what you’re doing in the Big Apple, instead.”
“Conference,” Richard said. “I’m in construction, though I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to say that with the economy the way it is.”
“You own your own business, then?”
“Yeah,” Richard said. “In California.”
“How’re you enjoying New York so far?”
“Is that sarcasm?” Richard said.
“No,” Casey said. “I mean, you can’t have been lost the whole time, right?”
“No,” Richard said. “Before I left the hotel I wasn’t lost. And while I’m sitting here I know right where I am.”
“What hotel are you staying at?” Jason asked, startling Richard. “We can drop you off on the way to work.”
“Work?” Richard said, eyes moving over Jason. “Don’t you work here?” He’d looked good in the jeans and t-shirt, but he looked especially fine in the suit he now wore. “Wait.” Richard peered back the way Jason had gone before. “Do you live here?”
“Walsh owns the place,” Casey said.
“No wonder you haven’t been fired yet for this atrocious coffee,” Richard said.
Jason snatched the mug away from Richard and dumped the contents into the sink. “Do you want a ride, or do you want to see if you can find the hotel on your own?”
“Can we stop for coffee?”
“Now you’re pushing it,” Jason said.
Richard had missed all but the final morning seminar by the time he was dropped off back at the hotel. A couple of the guys he’d planned on meeting for breakfast asked where he’d been and Richard told them that he’d gotten turned around looking for the restaurant and stopped at another diner. He’d only had coffee (and bad coffee, at that), so he was pretty hungry when they went into have lunch at the hotel dining room.
The afternoon seminars went by in a blur, with Richard paying more attention to how Jason’s suit jacket had fit him across the shoulders (and how those jeans had fit across his backside), than to ‘Creating Business Opportunities In An Economic Decline’. He needed to know these things, but it was boring in a way that Jason’s ass hadn’t been.
Richard turned in early, earning a couple of jeers from the other attendees who were probably going to close down the hotel bar. Richard used the excuse of having to call his son, but his thoughts were far from Ritchie. Out of guilt, Richard actually did call home once he got back to his room. He spent five minutes talking to Ritchie (receiving one word answers to his questions about school and karate practice, and a query whether Richard was bringing him back a present), two minutes assuring Christine that he could look out for himself (which brought his thoughts right back to Jason Walsh), and another fifteen listening to her complain about her day.
Richard managed to bore Christine by listing the seminars he was scheduled to attend the next day and tell her about dinner and drinks with the guys (and ladies) attending the conference. Since they’d moved on from talking about her, Christine was happy to cut the conversation short. Richard turned on the television in order to distract himself, but his body wasn’t done thinking about Jason.
Richard got out his phone and opened the ‘hot teacher’ folder. He scrolled through the photos of Daniel Harris he’d taken (in a very surreptitious and discreet manner, which explained why most of them were off-center and/or blurry) or that had been sent to him by Barb (who took pretty good photos with her phone, mostly because she didn’t care if Daniel, or anyone else, saw her doing so). (Christine hadn’t wanted to share her photos.)
There was no question that Daniel was a handsome man. There’d been an informal poll at Ritchie’s school (Christine said she didn’t do it and Richard believed her, but only because she couldn’t even check her e-mail without screwing it up, no way she’d be able to create a poll) in which 95% of parents and teachers who voted agreed that Daniel was the hottest teacher at the school. The other five percent were either lying to themselves or jealous, in Richard’s opinion.
The point being that, despite Daniel being ridiculously hot for a grade school teacher, Richard had never been tempted to imagine Daniel while he jerked off. (That one time didn’t count because he’d been lonely and Christine hadn’t stopped talking about how good Daniel was in bed. And also because Richard had managed to imagine New Christine there at the end, though she’d gotten mixed up with images of Christine and Daniel having sex, and it was just something that Richard didn’t want to think about, okay?)
The other point being that he’d only just met Jason. Richard didn’t know him well enough to not be able to stop thinking about the sound of his laugh, or the way the corners of his eyes crinkled when he almost-smiled. Or how he’d taken Richard’s comments about his coffee good-naturedly. Or how he’d offered Richard a ride back to his hotel. Or how ridiculously good Richard imagined Jason would look with his tie loosened and the top button of his shirt undone.
Richard slipped his hand beneath the waistband of his boxers and imagined that he could hear Jason whisper dirty things in his ear in that raspy voice.
Richard wasn’t sure if it was bravery or stupidity that had him walking into Stage Restaurant the next morning. (This time, though, he’d gotten directions from the front desk before heading out and took a taxi most of the way so he didn’t arrive sweaty and out of breath.) Jason was looking towards the door when Richard pushed it open. He didn’t say anything, just watched over the rim of his coffee mug as Richard walked over to the counter, seating himself on the same stool as yesterday.
Finally Jason lowered the mug. “Couldn’t resist the coffee?”
“Something like that,” Richard said, and felt heat touch his cheeks. Jesus, was he actually trying to flirt with this guy? He couldn’t even flirt with women (and he’d married one and nearly married a second), and yet here he was attempting to flirt with a guy who was so far out of his league it wasn’t even funny. And also probably 100% straight, unlike Richard’s 92%. (He’d done a lot of thinking about it last night after he’d gotten himself off while thinking about Jason.)
Richard cleared his throat. “Actually, I tried the hotel coffee this morning. I could barely taste it. I think your coffee might’ve ruined my taste buds.”
“Improved, would be the word you’re looking for,” Jason said, tossing, “And yet you came back for more,” over his shoulder as he filled a mug.
Richard quickly ran his eyes from Jason’s shoulders to his ass and was innocently plucking apart a napkin when Jason turned around to set the mug in front of Richard. Jason opened the mini-fridge and plunked a container of half and half onto the counter. Richard stared at it in disbelief.
“Did you have this in there yesterday?”
“You made me open all those creamers?”
“I didn’t know how many you were going to use,” Jason said, sounding too reasonable for it to be true.
“You suck,” Richard muttered as he added half and half to the mug until the level of liquid was just shy of spilling over the rim. He stirred carefully so it didn’t slosh over and then took a cautious sip. It didn’t taste any better than his memory had led him to believe.
“How is it?” Jason asked.
“Good,” Richard said, trying not to grimace.
The corners of Jason’s lips quirked up in amusement. “Want anything to eat?”
Casey had warned Richard away from the eggs, but he was hungry, and how could you ruin eggs? Though, to be fair, Richard had thought the same true of diner coffee. “What do you do to your eggs?” he asked.
“My eggs are awesome,” Jason said. “I add stuff to ‘em. Kind of like a messy omelet.”
Jason didn’t wait for Richard to respond, just got out a carton of eggs and broke some onto the hot grill. He couldn’t see what Jason added to the eggs, but in minutes a plate of eggs was set in front of him. Richard poked at the eggs with a fork while Jason dug right in.
“Are you going to tell me what’s in here?” Richard said.
“Just eat it,” Jason said with his mouth full.
Richard picked up a little bit of egg on his fork and tentatively transferred it to his mouth. He chewed. The eggs crunched. And they were spicier than he was used to. “Are they supposed to crunch?” Richard asked.
Jason just raised his eyebrows and kept eating. It couldn’t be too bad, Richard figured, since Jason hadn’t keeled over yet. Then again, he had to have a cast iron stomach to drink the swill that he called coffee. Still, Richard had years of eating Christine’s food to fall back on. Gamely, he took another bite, trying to isolate the flavors as he chewed, while at the same time examining the eggs on his plate in an attempt to discover what was in them. As strange as it sounded, he had to conclude that Jason had put pretzels, salsa, and . . .
“Peppers,” Casey said as she took the stool beside Richard.
Too absorbed in the atrocity he’d found in his eggs, Richard didn’t even jump. “Why would you do that?” he asked Jason. “Who . . . who does that to eggs?”
“Never had a veggie omelet, I take it?” Jason said.
“There are pretzels in your eggs and you’re worried about the peppers?” Casey asked.
“The pretzels are actually the best part,” Richard said.
Jason made a little hrmph noise that sounded like, “So there!”
“And I’d trust your judgment on that,” Casey said, “except I discovered that you can get lost walking in a straight line.”
“Hey,” Richard said, but he didn’t put too much effort into it because Casey was right. “She’s starting to sound an awful lot like Christine,” he told Jason.
“Which one?” Jason had already finished his eggs and was eyeing up Richard’s plate. Richard curled a protective arm around it.
“Old Christine,” Richard said. “Though, now that we’ve stopped having sex, New Christine, as well.”
“She was nicer while you were having sex?” Casey said.
“No, I just didn’t mind because, you know, sex.”
“Men really are all pigs,” Casey said, shaking her head.
“Oink,” Jason said.
Richard grinned, and then crunched through another bite of eggs.
“So what are you doing here?” Casey asked, frowning as she watched Richard chew the eggs.
Richard was thankful that his mouth was busy chewing so he didn’t blurt out the first thing that came to his mind.
“Did you get lost again?”
“You mean you came here purposefully and voluntarily?” Casey said. “Even after the coffee? Hmm. Wonder what could have drawn you back.”
“Hotel coffee didn’t measure up,” Jason said, saving Richard from wherever Casey was going with that. (Richard was afraid he knew exactly where she was going. Clearly he wasn’t being as subtle as he thought. He shoved another forkful of eggs into his mouth so he didn’t have to speak.)
“Speaking of hotel, aren’t you supposed to be at a conference?” Casey said.
Richard finished chewing. “The most exciting seminar on today’s schedule is ‘Estimates and Contracts: How To Not Get Sued’. I can’t even remember what I sat through yesterday afternoon. Besides, you’ll make me go back soon enough.” Richard glared at Casey as if the boring seminars were all her fault while he picked some peppers out of the egg and then shoveled another forkful into his mouth.
“Wow, you look 50, but you sounded 12 just then,” Casey said, unimpressed.
“She’s mean,” Richard told Jason.
Casey rolled her eyes, but otherwise ignored him, except to make sure he saw her sip coffee from the cardboard cup she’d gotten from the same place as yesterday.
Two minutes later a cell phone rang, and not even a moment later, a second went off. Jason’s and Casey’s expressions turned serious as they both reached for their phones.
“Shit,” Jason said. “We’ve got to go.”
Richard wasn’t sure who he was talking to, but Jason pocketed his cell and reached for Richard’s plate. He managed to shovel the last forkful of eggs into his mouth before Jason grabbed the fork, as well. Both items were unceremoniously dumped into the sink.
“Call the Sarge and let him know we’ve got a lead,” Jason said to Casey, but she was already sliding off the stool with her cell phone pressed to her ear. Their urgency transferred itself to Richard, who picked up his mug and took a huge gulp of coffee before he realized what he’d done. To his surprise, it wasn’t too bad, possibly because the salsa had done it’s part in further deadening his taste buds.
Richard was glad he’d already swallowed the offensive brew when he noticed that Jason had removed the apron he’d been wearing when Richard arrived and was currently rolling down the sleeves of his button-down shirt. Richard had noticed Jason’s forearms before, but now he couldn’t take his eyes off them as they were covered.
Richard looked away when Jason buttoned his cuffs, raising the coffee mug to his lips in what he hoped was a casual manner, and then immediately choked on the liquid he’d managed to get into his mouth when Jason reached beneath the counter and withdrew a gun and badge that he then slapped onto the counter. Jason took the mug away from Richard as if Richard was the one to blame for choking when it was clearly Jason’s fault for just becoming ten times hotter.
“You’re a cop?” Richard asked stupidly as Jason attached the badge to his belt.
“Yeah. You got a problem with that?”
“What? No! I just . . . didn’t know. I mean, you live in a diner! Where you sometimes cook food for people! What part of that screams ‘I’m a cop’?”
“Detective, actually,” Jason said as he shrugged into his suit jacket, thankfully covering the badge and the gun he’d slipped into the holster at his waist.
“Detective,” Richard repeated, his mouth going dry.
“We can drop you off on the way,” Jason said, not even trying to hide his amusement at Richard’s reaction.
“Oh, you don’t have to,” Richard said.
“We really do,” Casey said, disconnecting her call and slipping the phone into her pocket. “I don’t know which is worse, the fact that you managed to get lost yesterday or that you voluntarily came back for the coffee today.”
Richard couldn’t stop thinking about what Jason had said when they’d dropped him off at the hotel that morning. It had been innocuous, really. He’d merely been being polite, nothing more.
If I don’t see you again, it was nice meeting you, Richard.
It was the first time Jason had spoken his name, and the way it had sounded tripping off Jason’s tongue made Richard shiver even now, hours later. Richard wished he’d been able to think of something clever to say in return, but it was probably just as well he hadn’t. Richard didn’t do clever. He barely managed mildly amusing.
Still, it bugged him that he hadn’t let Jason know that he’d like to see him again, as well, if it could be arranged. Richard would happily ditch the rest of that day’s seminars for the opportunity to see Jason again. (The notion that he’d do that would normally give him pause if in this case the seminars weren’t boring him to tears.) It was a good thing there wasn’t a test at the end. Richard’s brain spun its wheels. He was pretty sure there wasn’t a test at the end.
Richard only knew that the current seminar had come to an end when the people around him closed their booklets and gathered together the handouts. Richard got caught in the crush to leave the room, some of his fellow attendees in a rush to hit the restroom, or step outside the hotel for a cigarette. Richard found a quiet spot and took out his cell phone. He didn’t even know how to get a hold of Jason – he didn’t have his cell number or know where he worked. Richard crossed his fingers that Jason would work out of the nearest precinct and got that information from the front desk.
Richard was transferred three times before someone said, “Detective Walsh isn’t in, can I take a message?”
Richard gave his name before it hit him what a bad idea this was. Jason was a detective, and he and Casey had gotten called in that morning. He wouldn’t be able to drop everything just because Richard wanted to see him again. “I’m sorry, never mind,” Richard said. “There’s no message; I shouldn’t have bothered him at work.”
Richard disconnected the call and trudged into his next seminar with the rest of the herd, and proceeded to beat himself up both for calling Jason in the first place, and then not bothering to leave a message. He didn’t claim to be running on logic here.
Richard was startled out of his thoughts when his cell phone vibrated in his pocket an hour later. He’d silenced the ringer in deference to the instructors, but he didn’t want to miss an emergency call from Christine if anything happened to Ritchie, even though nine times out of ten, any of Christine’s emergencies would concern herself.
Richard took out the phone and glanced discreetly at the screen. It was a number he didn’t recognize, but given his line of work that wasn’t unusual. Richard considered sending the call directly to voice mail, but given that he couldn’t even remember the name of the seminar in which he was currently sitting, he decided that faking an emergency would give him a good excuse for stepping outside the walls of the conference room he was getting heartily sick of seeing.
Richard waited until he was in the hallway before accepting the call and pressing the phone to his ear. “Richard Campbell.”
“Mr. Campbell,” said a voice that sent a shiver down Richard’s spine. “This is Detective Walsh, returning your call.”
“Oh, geeze,” Richard said after he’d recovered from his initial reaction. “I told them not to . . . bother you.”
“It’s not a bother,” Jason said.
“You’re working,” Richard said. “I shouldn’t have called you at work.”
“I’ve got a minute,” Jason said.
Richard wished he was standing near a wall so he could bang his head against it. “It’s stupid,” he said into the cell.
“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that,” Jason said, and Richard could picture the same bemused expression he’d worn most of the time he’d spent in Richard’s presence.
“I was just . . .” Richard hesitated. “Thinking about what you said. Earlier. About if you didn’t see me again, and I wanted to. See you again.” Richard broke off, but when Jason didn’t immediately fill the silence, he nervously continued. “But I know you’re busy, and you were probably just being polite, anyway, I mean, it’s not like you’d ever be int– . . .”
“A guy’s gotta eat,” Jason said.
“–erested in . . . What?” Richard said when he realized that Jason had actually spoken.
“Right now we’re running down a lead,” Jason said, breathing heavily.
“Wait,” Richard said. “Are you literally running down that lead right now?”
There were some thuds and grunts from the other end of the line, and then Jason said, “If you move you’ll be walking with a limp for the rest of your life.” His voice changed. “What took you so long?”
“Bite me,” Casey said, huffing as badly as Jason was.
“Cuff him for me, will you?”
“Why can’t you do it?”
“I’m making a date,” Jason said.
Richard had just started to process the fact that Jason had used the term ‘date’ when he heard Casey say, “Tell Richard I said hi. Alright you scumbag . . .”
“Um,” Richard said.
“Listen, I don’t know when I can get away,” Jason said. “Can I call you later?”
“Of course,” Richard said, “that would be . . .”
“Hey, Richard,” Jason said, his voice gone low.
“I’ll call you later.”
“Yeah, okay,” Richard said, and then stood there holding the phone long after the call ended.
It wasn’t until Richard had stuffed the phone back into his pocket and was headed back to the conference room that it hit him that Casey had known Jason was talking to Richard and hadn’t appeared fazed by Jason’s use of the word ‘date’ in relation to him. Maybe Jason was interested in guys, after all. And maybe Richard in particular.
Richard’s phone didn’t buzz again until nearly 7pm. Richard was watching the other people at the hotel bar drinking and having a good time, and telling himself that he really couldn’t expect Jason to drop everything just because Richard didn’t want to leave New York City without seeing him again. He was a cop for god’s sake. A detective. He solved crimes and helped people. Richard had to respect that, and he couldn’t take it personally if Jason couldn’t make a last minute date.
Richard jumped when his pocket vibrated and nearly knocked over his glass of Sprite with a twist of lime (he didn’t want to be drunk if Jason did call – he’d save that for later when he was moping in his hotel room), and then fumbled the phone as he withdrew it from his pocket. Jason’s name flashed on the screen (because, yes, Richard had entered the number into his contacts). Richard was breathless when he finally managed to accept the call.
“Hey, hi, I mean, hello,” Richard said.
Jason chuckled and the sound of it tickled down Richard’s spine. “Hello, Richard.”
Jason really needed to stop saying Richard’s name like that right now. Of course, Richard wasn’t going to tell Jason to do any such thing.
“Do you have to cancel?” Richard said, trying not to let his disappointment show, but wanting to get the bad news over as quickly as possible.
“No,” Jason said. “In fact, the reason I’m calling so late is because that lead we chased down panned out; we managed to close the case. I’m yours for the rest of the night.”
Richard didn’t think he could be blamed for where his imagination went just then. He didn’t actually know how to do half the things he imagined, but he could figure it out.
“Unless you . . .”
“No!” Richard said. “I mean, I haven’t eaten yet. I could . . . eat.”
Jason chuckled again. “Meet me outside?”
“Sure,” Richard said. “How long?”
“Now?” This time when he flailed Richard did knock over what was left of his drink. “Sorry,” he told the bartender as he tried to mop up the soda and ice with a handful of napkins. “Check, please?”
“Problem?” Jason said.
“Just arm wrestling my soda into submission,” Richard said as he drew out his wallet and paid.
“Uh huh,” Jason said skeptically. “And why do I get the felling that the soda won?”
“Because you have yet to see me at my best,” Richard said, only realizing how the comment could be interpreted once the words had slipped past his lips and couldn’t be called back.
Before Richard could apologize, Jason drawled, “I look forward to that, then.”
Richard fell off his stool.
“Did you just trip?” Jason asked, part amusement, part concern.
“No,” Richard scoffed. “That would be . . . I need to hang up now, because apparently I can’t talk to you and do anything else.”
Richard could hear the laugher in Jason’s voice when he said, “See you in a minute, Richard.”
“Jesus,” Richard sighed as he locked his cell and then pocketed it. He hadn’t even seen Jason yet and he was all flustered.
Richard caught the eye of one of the fellows he’d become friendly with and waved as he walked out of the bar with more spring than his step had held for months.
When Richard stepped out the front door, the first thing he saw was Jason leaning against the front fender of his car, arms crossed over his chest, legs crossed at the ankle, eyes on the front door. Jason had parked right in front, and the doorman eyed the car (and Jason’s less than pristine state) with distaste. Richard, on the other hand, was so enamored by what he saw – Jason’s suit jacket hanging open, his tie loosened, the top button of his shirt undone – that he tripped over a non-existent crack in the pavement.
Jason stepped forward and caught his arm. “You okay?”
“Yeah, thanks,” Richard said. “It’s just . . . you look . . .”
“Rumpled?” Jason suggested.
“Good enough to eat,” Richard said, not allowing himself to second guess the statement.
“You must be really hungry,” Jason said with a smirk.
“I really am,” Richard said, blushing. “Food would be good, too.”
“Touche,” Jason said as he opened the door for Richard.
Richard wiped sweaty palms on the denim covering his thighs as he watched Jason round the car. Richard couldn’t help watching as Jason slid into the driver’s seat, fastened his seat belt, and then turned the key in the ignition.
“What?” Jason said as he pulled out into traffic.
Richard shook his head, embarrassed at being caught staring. “Where are we going?”
Jason told him. “I’d have had you meet me there, but, well, I wanted to make sure you actually got there.”
“Hilarious,” Richard said, finding the fact that Jason was teasing him to be endearing rather than annoying.
“So how old is your son?” Jason asked as they waited for their food to arrive.
“Ritchie’s twelve,” Richard said.
“What’s he like?”
“Scarily, a lot like his mother and me,” Richard said.
“So he gets lost and trips over his own two feet?”
“More often than I’d like to admit,” Richard said. “Wow, I never really thought about how much fault I brought to that table. I mean, he gets lost on the soccer field. He once – okay, twice – fine, three times – scored a goal for the other team.” Richard shrugged. “We were just happy he scored a goal at all.”
Jason grinned as he sipped from the bottle of beer the waitress had set in front of him. Jason had brought Richard to a casual place where they’d both ordered the bacon cheeseburger basket and beer with an apology that he wasn’t up to anything fancier after his long day. Richard wasn’t much for fancy restaurants anyway, but he’d also only packed casual clothes. His jeans (not the skinny ones New Christine had tried to get him to wear once) and blue button-down fit right in here.
“What else does Ritchie like?”
“Karate,” Richard said. “He’s taking lessons. Though at this rate he’ll be a black belt by the time I’m eighty. He also likes to swim, but only if his Uncle Matthew takes him. For some reason, neither Christine nor I are allowed.”
“What about school?”
“I don’t think he’s going to make Valedictorian,” Richard said. “Like I said, too much like his parents. He had to do a paper on the Cold War once, and he asked Christine to help him. She told Ritchie that it had something to do with winter and people being cold. God, we’re our child’s worst enemy.”
Jason chuckled. “How did you and Christine meet?”
“College,” Richard said. “We were married for ten years before we finally called it quits. What about you, ever been married?”
“No,” Jason said.
Before he could continue, the waitress dropped off their baskets of bacon cheeseburgers and fries. She took their order for another round of beer and left them to doctor their burgers with ketchup (Richard) and A-1 sauce (Jason). They both moaned when they took their first bites (making Richard blush and Jason raise an amused eyebrow at him), and then spent the next few minutes taking the edge off their hunger.
“So you’ve never been married?” Richard said when he could pause from eating. He tried to sound casual, rather than desperate to know everything about Jason. Based on the raised eyebrow he got in return, he’d been unsuccessful.
“Never married,” Jason responded, though. “Never close. I’ve had some long-term relationships, but nothing that went that far.”
“You’re . . . not . . . seeing anyone now, though?” Richard felt stupid for asking, but he had to know.
“You think I’m the kind of guy to step out?” Jason said, but he didn’t sound insulted.
“Well, no,” Richard said, “but I don’t actually know you, so . . . I mean, I can count on one hand the things I know about you.” Richard held up a finger. “You make terrible coffee, you like odd egg combinations, you’re a detective, which I didn’t even discover until this morning, and you live in a diner.” Richard stared at the four fingers he’d put up as he listed off the things he knew about Jason.
Jason’s eyebrows went up.
“And you have judgmental eyebrows,” Richard added, unfolding his thumb.
Jason barked out a laugh. “You know that I like beer and burgers, and that I’m bisexual.”
Richard choked on a fry. “I didn’t know that, actually,” he said after taking a sip of beer. “I mean, you didn’t . . . I didn’t want to assume.”
“My last relationship was with a woman, the one before with a man.”
“Oh,” Richard said. “Why did you . . . I mean, why didn’t it last? With him?”
“He was a newscaster,” Jason answered as if that said it all. “No mystery,” he went on, contemplatively chewing on a fry. “Shallow and uncomplicated. Like an open book.”
“I’m not all that complicated,” Richard said. “And I might not be an open book, but I would probably be classified as a simple one, like one of those ‘see Spot run’ books.”
Jason laughed. “I like you, Richard. I like people who can make me laugh, and who can surprise me.”
Richard didn’t want to as if Jason was laughing with him or at him. “What about . . . ?” Richard began, then paused, “Never mind.”
“We worked together,” Jason said. “Some shit went down at work and she needed a break to work through it. Now, do you have any more questions, or can we finish our burgers so I can take you back to your hotel and blow you?”
All of Richard’s blood fled south and the only thing he could do was stare at Jason.
“That is where this is heading, right?”
“It’s on the list,” Richard choked out.
“You have a list?” Jason smirked. “That’s good to know. Now, finish your burger.”
Richard took a bite, but the delicious burger suddenly tasted like sawdust and swallowing was nearly impossible.
“Have you always lived in New York?” Richard asked, trying to take his mind off the thought of Jason giving him a blow job.
“Nah,” Jason said. “I’m a mid-western boy. I came to the big city to play baseball,” he added before Richard could ask.
“Yeah. You know, the American past time?”
“No, yeah, I know, but . . . professional baseball?”
“Like, for the Mets?”
“Yankees, actually,” Jason said. “First base.”
“You played first base for the NY Yankees,” Richard said, because of course Jason had. He dropped his burger back into the basket and slumped in his seat. “I thought you were out of my league before, but this just clinches it.”
“Out of your league?”
“Yes!” Richard said. “I mean, look at you. You’re good looking, funny, you help people for a living,” Richard added as if he was accusing Jason of something terrible. “And on top of that you played professional baseball. For the NY Yankees. I’ve got to be dreaming. It’s possible I never actually found your diner yesterday. Maybe I got hit on the head and I’m in the hospital. Or lying on the street somewhere.”
Richard took out his phone and aimed it at Jason.
“What are you doing?” Jason asked, though he didn’t sound too put out.
“I’m sending a photo of you to Christine to see if she can see you, too.”
Jason gave Richard the bemused eyebrows. “But if you’re dreaming, wouldn’t she say she can see me because you can see me?”
Richard dropped his hands to the table. “Damn it, she would.” Dream!Christine would say whatever Richard wanted her to. Unlike real!Christine. “I hate you.”
“Look at it this way,” Jason said. “Aren’t even dream blow jobs better than none?”
“Well,” Richard said, “when you put it that way . . .”
Richard didn’t know what he was doing. Scratch that. Richard knew what he was doing – he was in the process of receiving the sloppiest and best blow job of his entire life. What he didn’t know was how they’d gotten to this point. Richard was not normally a take chances, outside the box, bull by the horns type of guy. He didn’t see someone he liked and then skip out of seminars to go see them the next day, then call them in hopes that they could see each other again. Richard told himself things would never work, feeding his own insecurities, and then played the ‘what if’ game until he drove himself nuts.
Jason let Richard’s cock slip from his mouth. He rested his chin on Richard’s hip and gave him the eyebrows. “I can hear you thinking.”
“Sorry,” Richard said. “It’s just . . .”
“What? No. The opposite, actually.”
“Really? Because you weren’t feeling all that into it.”
“I’m into it,” Richard said. “I just got distracted.”
“Bulls,” Richard said. “And, uh, their horns.”
“Bulls,” Jason repeated. “And their horns.”
“You make it sound dirty,” Richard said.
“I don’t usually do this,” Richard said.
“Get blow jobs? Because that’s just sad.”
“No. Well, yeah. But no, this.” Richard gestured between them. “You know, go for what I want.”
“You got married,” Jason pointed out.
“Yeah. That was mostly not fighting the tide. And then staying together was mostly inertia.”
“What about New Christine?”
“She asked me out after three failed attempts on my part,” Richard admitted.
“So you’re, what, patting yourself on the back?”
“No, I’m just . . . surprised.”
“It must be a big deal,” Jason said. “A big enough deal for you to be missing out on the fruits of your labor.” He gave Richard’s softening cock a pointed look.
“Oh,” Richard said. “Well, that’s stupid.”
“My thoughts exactly.”
“Carry on, then,” Richard said with a magnanimous gesture of his hand.
“You think you’ll be able to pay attention now?”
“That depends on . . .”
Whatever Richard was going to say was lost as Jason’s mouth covered him and his focus narrowed down to the hot, wet suction.
Despite the number of times he’d thought about it, Richard had never touched another man’s cock before. It was strange in its familiarity because Richard knew it wasn’t his own. It looked and felt similar, but Richard wasn’t sure how tight to grip, or how Jason liked to be stroked.
“Am I doing it right?” Richard said, following the line of Jason’s body up to his eyes.
“At this point, you honestly couldn’t be doing it wrong,” Jason said with a breathlessness that made Richard feel just a little big smug. “Here, just . . .”
Jason closed his fingers over Richard’s, gave him an indication of how tight he liked it, showed him the right rhythm. Jason let go so he could brace himself over Richard, where he’d been since he crawled up Richard’s body to share the taste of him. The muscles in his biceps trembled as he struggled to hold himself up while his body chased after his own orgasm.
“Fuck,” Jason groaned, and dropped his forehead onto Richard’s shoulder. “I’m close,” he warned, but Richard could tell, felt the muscles where they touched go taut before Jason’s cock pulsed in Richards’ hand and spilled out over his fingers and belly.
They cleaned up once Jason had caught his breath and rolled off Richard to lie on the bed beside him. Richard thought things might get awkward then, but Jason just pulled on his boxer briefs and raided the mini-bar with a comment about needing to replenish his strength and a smirk. Richard felt self-conscious because, despite working in construction, he wasn’t in as good shape as Jason was, but he pulled on his own boxers and joined Jason on the bed, where he gave Richard a bottle of water and shared the bag of mixed nuts he’d found.
They sprawled across the bed and Jason told Richard about the case he and Casey had just closed between popping a nut between one of their lips. Jason rolled onto his elbows and watched Richard take the nut from his fingers. Jason didn’t say anything, but Richard’s stomach fluttered at the intensity of his gaze.
Richard’s own eyes followed Jason’s fingers when he placed a nut between his own lips and heat unexpectedly pooled in his groin at the seemingly innocent task. For reasons he couldn’t understand, Richard’s breathing sped up as Jason withdrew another nut from their rapidly depleting supply and placed it to Richard’s lips. Jason didn’t withdraw his fingers after Richard took the nut from him, instead exerted a gentle pressure against Richard’s lips until he parted them.
Richard sucked the salt off of Jason’s fingers when he pushed them into his mouth. Jason’s gaze was heavy on Richard’s lips and Richard’s heart beat sped up even more in response. Jason withdrew his fingers almost reluctantly. Instead of reaching back into the bag, Jason set his hand on Richard’s hip.
Richard’s throat was already dry, but the brush of Jason’s thumb against the sensitive skin above the waistband of his boxers made it even more difficult for him to chew and swallow the nut. Jason absently discarded the nearly empty bag and inched up on his elbow until he could lay claim to Richard’s lips. Richard couldn’t stop himself from sliding his hand around the back of Jason’s head and deepening the kiss. If the little moan Jason breathed into Richard’s mouth was any indication, he didn’t mind.
Richard had wondered how kissing another man would work, but it turned out to be not that different from kissing a woman. The stubble was unfamiliar, but not a turn off, and while they both attempted to take control of the kiss from time to time, it was easier than he’d thought to relinquish that control. Though he had occasionally been attracted to another man, Richard hadn’t known how much he’d enjoy feeling the strength of another man against him – the way Jason pushed back into the kiss and the feel of him hard and angular against Richard where before he’d only felt soft curves.
“Can I?” Jason said, his fingers slipping beneath the waistband of Richard’s boxers.
Richard nodded his exuberant assent and licked lips hot and swollen from the amount of kissing they’d just enjoyed. Jason pushed his hand into Richard’s boxers and shoved them down. Richard reluctantly let go of Jason’s hair to help, and then kicked them the rest of the way off.
Jason slid his hand around Richard’s ass and kissed him again. He squeezed one of Richard’s cheeks and brushed his fingers along the cleft between them. “Have you done this before?” he asked as he teased a finger over Richard’s hole.
Richard made an embarrassing noise at the contact, but Jason just continued to regard him steadily. “Yes,” Richard finally said. “Christine, New Christine,” he clarified, “might have looked innocent, but she was pretty adventurous in bed.” Richard fought hard not to blush, but it was a wasted effort.
“I’m glad to hear it,” Jason said, giving Richard the same amused look he’d been receiving since they met. “You’ll have to tell me what else you did, sometime,” Jason drawled as he pressed the pad of his thumb against Richard’s hole, eliciting a whimper from Richard when he moved his thumb in a small circular motion.
Richard tried to clamp down on the sounds he was making, but Jason pressed his lips to Richard’s ear and said, “No, no, I want to hear you.”
Richard had done this before. Not a lot, but enough to know what to expect. It had been good with Christine, but Richard had never felt this sense of anticipation tingling low in his belly. He wondered if it was because, if they did this, Jason’s finger wasn’t the only thing that was going to be inside him tonight.
“She ever put her mouth on you?” Jason asked, his thumb still teasing Richard’s hole.
“Yes,” Richard said, his voice cracking a little bit. “Sometimes she would suck me when she was . . .” He let a gesture with his head complete the sentence.
“I didn’t mean there,” Jason said, his voice even lower than usual.
Before Richard could ask what Jason had meant, Jason rolled off the bed. “You have supplies?”
Richard stared for a moment as Jason casually stripped off his boxer briefs, then wordlessly pointed towards the bathroom where his toiletry bag was. Jason soon returned with the bottle of lube and a foil packet he’d torn off the strip, wearing the familiar expression of amusement. (Richard had been optimistic, sue him. A fact that was working out well for him now, he’d just like to point out.)
Jason crawled onto the bed and set the supplies near the pillows. “Roll over on your stomach,” he said, helping Richard to slide a pillow beneath his hips.
Richard felt the warmth as a flush covered his skin when he imagined what he looked like to Jason – his ass in the air, as if he were presenting it for Jason to do whatever he wanted with it. And in a way, he guessed he was doing just that.
“You okay?” Jason said, as if he could sense Richard’s unease.
“Fine,” Richard said, jumping when Jason placed his hand in the middle of Richard’s back, relaxing into it as Jason stroked down his back.
“Spread your legs,” Jason said, ignoring Richards whimper as he settled himself between Richard’s thighs. His hand never left Richard’s back, so Richard was surprised when Jason’s other hand pulled at the erection hanging between Richard’s legs and fondled his balls on the way to dragging his fingers across Richard’s hole as he navigated the valley between his cheeks.
Jason spread his fingers across one of Richard’s cheeks and used his thumb to pull it away from its twin, exposing Richard to his gaze.
“What are you doing?” Richard said when Jason didn’t do anything else.
“Just looking at you,” Jason said, and Richard shivered at the rough timbre of his voice.
“Aren’t you going to . . . ?” Richard said, unable to put voice to the thought.
“Oh, I’m going to,” Jason said, sounding both aroused and amused.
Jason used both hands to spread Richard’s cheeks apart. Richard waited, muscles coiled for the first touch of Jason’s finger against him. Instead, Jason licked along the entire length of Richard’s cleft.
“Wh-what are you . . . ?”
In response, Jason gave Richard a series of quick licks across his hole. Richard would deny to his dying day that the high pitched squeal that move elicited ever came out of his mouth. Jason dragged the flat of his tongue over Richard, and then thrust the tip inside him.
If pressed, Richard would have to admit that the idea of putting his tongue on someone’s asshole was kind of disgusting. Nor would he have believed it could feel good. He’d have been wrong. Between thrusts with his tongue, Jason sucked on his hole, and even bit him once, all of which had Richard rutting against the pillow and pushing back against Jason’s face as if he could force his tongue deeper.
Richard wasn’t too proud to admit that he whined when Jason pulled away from his ass. The whine turned to a keen when Jason pressed the tip of his thumb inside Richard. Richard opened easily around the intrusion, his hole loosened by Jason’s skillful tongue, and even easier when Jason pressed a lubed finger inside him.
The fullness of one finger felt good, familiar, even, especially when Jason brushed Richard’s prostate, his touch as gentle as New Christine’s had been. Richard didn’t stop himself from rocking back, silently begging Jason for more.
“Fuck yourself on my finger,” Jason said, breathless, and Richard eagerly complied, rocking back and taking Jason’s finger as deep as he could. Every once in a while Jason would touch the spot that made Richard see stars.
When Jason said, “Two now,” Richard was almost too gone to understand, but he felt the loss when Jason withdrew his fingers for the brief moment it took to squeeze out more lube and press back in with two fingers.
Richard felt the stretch a little more this time, and even more when Jason inserted a third, but that didn’t stop him from fucking himself on those very same fingers, breathless with a want he’d never fully experienced before to have something more than fingers inside him.
“Patience,” Jason said, stroking a soothing hand between Richard’s shoulder blades before reaching for the condom, and only then did Richard realize he’d been begging Jason to fuck him. Richard would’ve been mortified at his own wanton behavior if Jason hadn’t given his prostate a thorough rub just then before removing his fingers. Jason had the condom on and the head of his cock pressed against Richard’s hole before he stopped shaking from it.
“Fuck,” Richard rasped when he realized what was happening, and tried to relax when Jason told him to.
Richard couldn’t hold back a gasp as Jason entered him, the initial stretch burning more than even three fingers had. Jason’s hand between his shoulder blades soothed even as the hand on his hip kept Richard right where Jason wanted him. Richard didn’t know which he appreciated more.
Jason gave Richard a moment to adjust before sliding all the way inside him. Jason kept talking, praise that Richard was doing so well interspersed with moaned comments about how tight he was and how good he felt. Richard shivered each time Jason whispered another round of dirty talk into his ear, and then shuddered all the way down to his toes when he changed the angle of his hip and his cock slid across Richard’s prostate. Richard groaned and pushed back into Jason’s thrusts, desperately chasing for more.
“Wait,” Richard said, and Jason groaned, but stopped immediately, the muscles in his arms shaking with the effort of holding himself still.
“Yeah,” Richard said. “I just wanna . . . on my back?” he ended on a question.
“It’s easier this way,” Jason said gently.
“Want to . . . see your face,” Richard said, feeling a little bit embarrassed at the admission.
Jason groaned again and pressed his forehead to Richard’s back. “Yeah, okay,” he said, and then grabbed the condom so it didn’t slip off and slowly withdrew.
Richard tried not to kick Jason in the face (or the balls) when he turned over. A moment later his legs had been thrown over Jason’s shoulders and he was filled up again. In this position Richard could not only see Jason’s face, but his eyes, which were trained on the spot where their bodies connected.
After everything they’d done Richard shouldn’t have felt self-conscious about that one thing, and yet the sight of Jason watching his cock move in and out of Richard’s body made him feel like a teenager again, when everything about his body was new and wonderful and frightening as hell. Jason pushed one of Richard’s legs back towards his head and they both groaned as he slid even deeper inside him.
“Fuck, Richard,” Jason said, voice as scratchy as the sandpaper Richard used. It wrapped around Richard’s spine like a caress that went right to his cock. Richard reached down and took himself in hand.
“Yeah,” Jason encouraged him. “Want you to come.”
Richard boldly wrapped his other hand around the back of Jason’s neck and pulled him down for a kiss. Richard wasn’t as flexible as he’d once been, but it was worth being bent into a pretzel for the way Jason licked into his mouth and bit at his lips. Richard’s hand was trapped between them, but he almost didn’t notice because his entire body was one over-stimulated nerve ending.
In this position Jason was hitting Richard’s prostate on almost every thrust, and the ridges of his stomach rubbed the exposed head of Richard’s cock. Jason’s kiss grew sloppy and his hips stuttered and lost their rhythm. Knowing that Jason was close, that he was close because of him, brought Richard to the edge as well.
“I think . . . ,” Richard said.
“Fuck, yes,” Jason said, his breath hot and moist against Richard’s lips, and then he raised up enough so Richard could move his hand again.
Richard’s knuckles brushed Jason’s stomach as he pulled on his own cock, adding to Richard’s awareness that he was with another man. As if Richard needed more evidence of that than the cock filling him up so . . . Richard grunted when Jason’s cock hit his prostate just right and his hand sped up on his own erection. Jason bowed his head and Richard stroked his thumb through the damp hairs at the nape of his neck.
“Come on,” Richard said. “Come on, come in me.”
“Fuck,” Jason groaned, and then he went unnaturally still.
Richard’s hand stopped of its own volition as he watched Jason come apart above him, arms trembling as his muscles threatened to send him tumbling down onto Richard, and then Jason swore a soft, “Shit,” as his body lost its tightness and he lowered himself onto Richard.
“Sorry,” Jason said, “sorry, I just need . . .”
Richard slid his free hand down Jason’s back. “Take your time,” he said, even though his own body was balanced on the knife’s edge of climax.
Jason moaned softly into Richard’s throat as he slipped both hands beneath Richard’s ass and stroked up to his lower back before he slid them back down again. Jason removed one hand and used it to hold the condom in place as he gently withdrew his softening cock from Richard’s ass.
“Wait, let me,” Jason said when Richard started to move his hand again.
Jason removed the condom and tied it off, tossing it in the direction of the small waste basket. He lowered Richard’s legs to the mattress, and while he was distracted by the stretch of strained muscles and joints, Jason brought their lips together. He claimed Richard’s cock and gave him a rough stroke, taking Richard’s surprised gasp and subsequent moans into his mouth as he used just the right amount of pressure to knock Richard over the precipice he’d been dangling on the edge of.
It took Richard a few minutes to catch his breath and to regain his wits. When he did, Jason was finger-painting Richard’s belly with the come spattered there.
“Really?” Richard said (slurred, more like, but Jason got the point).
Jason gave Richard an innocent look and raised his finger to his mouth.
“Fuck,” Richard groaned.
It was still dark out when Richard woke up the next morning and had to empty his bladder. It wasn’t until he’d accomplished that task and was headed back to bed that he noticed the pleasant ache in his, well, everything. He paused before climbing back into bed and looked at the lump on the other side, distinguishable from the pile of pillows only by the shock of bed head escaping from the covers.
Richard knelt on the mattress and carefully pulled the blankets away from Jason’s head and down, revealing wide shoulders, the slope of his back, the dip at his waist before his gaze fell on the delightful rise of his ass.
“What’re you doin’?” Jason mumbled into the pillow.
Richard didn’t jump, but only because he’d expected Jason to wake at some point during his meandering perusal of his body. “Just looking,” he said.
“Maybe you should do more than look,” Jason suggested, voice still rough from sleep.
“I was planning to wake you up with a blow job, but . . .” Richard gave a started laugh when Jason flipped over, eyes still closed and body lax as if still in sleep, his filling cock the only indication that he was awake at all, much less interested in Richard’s suggestion.
“I’ll take that as a vote in the ‘yes’ column.”
Jason slitted an eye at him. “You do that.”
Richard grinned as he settled himself on his side, his head resting on Jason’s hip as he eyed up his objective. Jason brought his hand down and carded his fingers through Richard’s thinning hair. Richard pushed back into the touch, then bent his head and took the tip of Jason’s cock between his lips. Jason made a sound of pleasure, anticipation, though he kept his fingers gentle on Richard’s scalp.
Richard took more of Jason in and Jason’s fingers stroked down his neck. Richard felt a prickle of pride when Jason’s breath quickened. Richard let Jason fall from his mouth and licked down the shaft.
“You’re killing me here,” Jason said.
Before Richard could take Jason back into his mouth, Jason squeezed his shoulder. “Come up here.”
Richard raised up on his elbow and gave Jason a questioning look.
“Come on,” Jason said, gesturing with his hand. “Turn around.”
All of Richard’s blood rushed south when he realized what Jason meant. “You want to . . . ?”
“Yes,” Jason said. “Sometime today,” he added with a smirk that belied the harshness of the words.
Richard felt a stab of self-consciousness as he turned his body around to straddle Jason’s head.
“Don’t break my nose,” Jason said with a grin as he guided Richard’s leg over his face.
“Oh, fuck you,” Richard muttered, and then groaned embarrassingly loud when Jason wasted no time lapping at the head of Richard’s cock.
Richard’s arm gave out beneath him and he nearly broke his own nose on Jason’s hip. Jason stroked Richard’s side.
“You okay?” Jason said, concern and fond amusement both evident in his voice.
“You startled me,” Richard said. He couldn’t work up too much irritation because Jason was still teasing his tongue around the head of his cock and it felt damned good.
“Come here,” Jason said, both large hands curling over Richard’s hips. “Let me make it up to you.”
Richard went to his elbows, face pressed against Jason’s groin as his own cock was taken into Jason’s mouth. Richard moaned as Jason swallowed around him, only remembering to reciprocate when Jason rolled his hips against Richard’s face. It was difficult to concentrate on the pleasure he was supposed to be giving Jason, though Jason didn’t call him on it. In fact, Jason made it even more difficult by squeezing Richard’s balls and brushing his fingers over the sensitive spot behind them before venturing further back to tease his hole.
Richard raised his head so he could speak. “If you want there to be any semblance of reciprocity, you’re going to have to stop being so good a–.”
Jason released Richard long enough to interrupt. “Fuck my mouth.”
“What?” Richard said in surprise, but Jason’s mouth was already busy, so he just pulled at Richard’s hips in reply.
Richard let himself be guided and then he took up the rhythm himself. “Are you sure you want me to . . . ?”
Jason moaned his response around Richard, the vibration singing through Richard’s cock and balls. It startled him into thrusting more deeply into Jason’s mouth than he’d intended to.
“Sorry, sorry,” Richard said, but Jason urged Richard that deep again.
“Fuck,” Richard groaned as Jason tipped his head back so Richard’s cock could slip down his throat. “Fuck.”
Richard licked at Jason. He took the head of Jason’s cock into his mouth with the best of intentions, but ended up just holding it in his mouth, suckling every once in a while when he could remember to do so. With Jason paying Richard such rapt attention it wasn’t long before he felt the heat in his belly as his orgasm built in his balls. He clutched reflexively at Jason’s hips, wordlessly trying to tell him that he was close. Instead of pushing Richard away, Jason pulled him closer. It was all Richard needed to let himself go.
Richard came back to himself, his softening cock still resting on Jason’s tongue, Jason’s hands stroking his sides. Jason released Richard when he realized that Richard had regained a semblance of wit.
Richard moaned his response around Jason, only then realizing that he was still hard. Richard took his mouth off Jason long enough to assure him that he was fine before turning his attention to giving Jason the same pleasure he’d just enjoyed, or as close to it as he could manage with his limited experience.
Jason kissed at the inside of Richard’s thighs, occasionally using his teeth, and continued to stroke his sides. When Jason’s kisses became erratic, when he lost the rhythm of his strokes, Richard knew he was close.
“Richard,” Jason said. “Richard.”
“What?” Richard said, wondering if he was somehow hurting Jason. He’d no sooner spoken than Jason groaned as the first spurt of his release shot out and hit Richard in the face. Richard quickly closed his mouth over Jason before he got hit again. He swallowed as much as he could without choking on it, then gently suckled Jason until he tapped Richard’s hip to let him know he’d had enough.
“Fuck,” Jason groaned as Richard lifted his leg over Jason’s head and let himself fall to the side. Richard huffed a laugh. He must look a sight with come running down his cheek and down his chin.
“Uh, sorry about that,” Jason said, which made Richard laugh harder.
They showered (separately, though Richard doubted he could get it up again so soon anyway, even for someone as good looking as Jason) and ordered room service.
“How is it?” Richard asked, noticing the grimaces Jason kept making.
“The coffee’s weak and the eggs are boring,” Jason said as he shoveled another forkful of scrambled eggs into his mouth nonetheless.
“Told you to go with the veggie omelet,” Richard said. “You could’ve used a bag of pretzels from the mini-bar.”
Casey called just as Jason was finishing up his second cup of coffee and they made plans to meet. “Casey says hi,” Jason said when he hung up.
Richard blushed at the implication that Casey knew exactly what they’d been up to last night. “You’ve got to go,” he said, wondering if he could sound more obvious.
“Yeah,” Jason said, but he didn’t look like he was in any hurry to do so. “What time’s your flight?”
“Eleven,” Richard said, checking his watch. He still had a couple of hours yet. There was supposed to be one last event to close out the conference, a sort of ‘thank you for coming’ thing where they handed out t-shirts, or whatever. Richard didn’t really care if he missed it.
Richard watched as Jason got up and pulled on his undershirt and then covered that with the rumpled button-down from yesterday. It had been difficult sitting at the small table and eating while pretending not to notice Jason’s bare chest, but watching Jason hide it again was even worse. Jason barely spared the tie a glance before rolling it up and stuffing it into his jacket pocket. Jason rolled up the cuffs of his sleeves, drawing Richard’s gaze to his forearms.
“Come here,” Jason said gruffly when he was done, and Richard practically fell into his arms.
The goodbye kiss, and that’s exactly what it felt like, was both bitter and sweet. Jason kept it gentle, and yet it had the potential to be so much more. Jason pulled back, placed a couple more kisses to Richard’s lips as if he wasn’t quite ready to part.
“Walk down with me?” Jason said after he’d slipped into his holster.
“Yeah, sure,” Richard agreed, though it took him a moment to speak since his mouth had gone dry. He was already dressed in the same jeans and button-down he’d worn the night before, not brave enough to sit at the breakfast table without his shirt on. He grabbed his wallet and keycard and walked out of the room with Jason.
Jason’s jacket hung off one finger, and he swung it to hang over his shoulder. He took Richard’s hand in his free hand and Richard didn’t argue. In the empty elevator Jason kissed him again, this time not quite so gentle as before. Richard was blushing, self-consciously licking his lips when the doors slid open on the ground floor.
Jason didn’t relinquish his hold on Richard’s hand, and though this was new to him, Richard didn’t pull away. He didn’t really know any of these people, and he didn’t care what they thought of him. Between them, he figured he was the lucky one. Parts of him were a happy reminder of just how lucky he’d gotten.
Richard felt the stares as they passed people he recognized from the conference. He figured they were in equal parts shock that Richard was with a guy, surprise that he’d managed to land someone as hot as Jason, and pure appreciation of the way Jason’s everything fit, but especially the holster.
Richard thought he was done being stared at when they cleared the lobby, but Casey was leaning against the car, arms and ankles crossed, a small smirk crossing her face when she noticed them.
“I thought you were meeting me at the restaurant,” Jason said without a trace of embarrassment.
“I didn’t say that,” Casey said.
“You implied that.”
“Hello, Richard,” Casey said, ignoring Jason.
“Hello,” Richard said.
“Have a good night?”
Heat suffused Richard’s skin.
“Leave him alone,” Jason said.
Richard cleared his throat. “Yes, very good, actually. Thank you for asking.”
Jason laughed and Casey grinned.
“You leaving today?” Casey asked as she pushed off the car.
“Yeah, couple hours,” Richard said.
“It was nice meeting you,” Casey said before enveloping Richard in a hug. “Have a safe flight.”
“You, too,” Richard said. “I mean, not have a nice flight, because you’re not flying anywhere, unless you are.” Casey shook her head and Richard continued. “It was nice meeting you, too.
Casey smiled and looked between Richard and Jason. “I’ll just wait in the car.”
Richard watched Casey slide into the passenger seat and then turned to look at Jason. It was harder than he thought it should have been to say goodbye to someone who he’d known for only a couple of days and would most likely never see again. Fortunately, Jason knew how to handle it.
“Thanks for dropping by my restaurant,” Jason said, making Richard snort. “And for last night.”
Richard blushed, which appeared to be the reaction Jason wanted by the smile he gave Richard when he noticed it. Jason slid his arm around Richard’s back and pressed a light kiss against his lips.
“Faggots,” someone muttered as they walked past.
Richard felt a hot flush of shame, but Jason just turned so he faced the speaker. “I’m sorry, what was that?”
The young man opened his mouth as if to repeat himself, and then his eyes went wide when he noticed the badge and holster. He looked like he’d bitten into a lemon, but he closed his mouth and kept walking.
“That’s what I thought,” Jason said, and then turned his back to the guy. “Sorry about that.”
Richard shrugged and smiled as if he hadn’t been shaken by the vitriol in the man’s tone. “I’ve been called worse.”
“Let me guess,” Jason said. “By Christine?”
Richard’s smile was more genuine now. “New Christine’s dad, actually.”
“Ouch,” Jason said. There was a moment of silence as they stared at each other, which Jason broke just before it reached awkward. “Well, call me. If you’re ever in New York again.”
“I will. You, too,” Richard said. “I mean, if you’re ever in LA, of course.”
“I’ll do that,” Jason said with his familiar amused smile. He turned away from Richard to walk around the front of the car to the driver’s side.
“Jason, wait,” Richard said, surprising even himself.
Jason paused and looked back at Richard with a raised eyebrow.
“I just . . .” Oh, fuck it, Richard thought. He walked over to Jason, cupped his head in both hands, and pulled him in for a kiss.
Jason didn’t hesitate, he got his arm back around Richard and pulled him in as he invited Richard’s tongue into his mouth. Richard lost track of time, but he was sure only a few seconds had passed when Casey laid on the horn, causing them to jump apart.
“Get a room!” Casey yelled, her words muffled by the closed windows.
Jason flipped her the bird. “We had a room,” he said, but he didn’t yell or take his eyes off Richard, so Richard wasn’t sure if Casey even heard it.
“That’s better,” Richard said when he’d caught his breath.
“A kiss that doesn’t feel like goodbye,” Richard said.
“Why, Richard Campbell, are you a romantic?”
“Not so you’d notice,” Richard said.
“Hmm. What did it say? The kiss.”
Richard blushed. “I look forward to seeing you again.”
“I like that,” Jason said.
Jason’s phone rang before Richard could respond. Almost immediately Casey tapped on the horn again.
“Shit,” Jason said as he checked the screen on his phone. “We caught another case. I guess I”m wearing yesterday’s clothes again today.”
“Sorry,” Richard said.
“Nothing to be sorry for,” Jason said. He leaned in until their lips brushed. “Totally worth it.” Jason gave Richard a smile before he pulled away and finished his walk to the driver’s side door.
It took Richard a few seconds to recover and step back onto the sidewalk. Jason gave him a look that said he knew just how thrown Richard was, then he started the car and turned on the siren.
Casey had a serious ‘I mean business’ expression on her face, but she rolled down her window and waved to Richard as they pulled away. Richard hesitated a moment even after they’d disappeared into traffic before turning and heading back into the hotel.
Eight hours later Richard was walking through LAX. He heard Christine before he saw her.
When Richard spotted Christine she was jumping up and down and waving her arms to catch his attention. Richard considered pretending he hadn’t seen her, just to see how long she’d keep it up, but he raised the hand not keeping his carry-on bag from sliding off his shoulder and waved.
As he drew closer, Richard spotted the top of Ritchie’s head. Christine got Ritchie’s attention and he looked up from the game he was playing. He smiled when he caught sight of Richard, which made Richard smile in return. He’d spent much of the flight (the portion when he wasn’t sleeping because he hadn’t gotten much rest the night before) thinking about how meeting Jason and Casey had only served to emphasize how boring, how predictable, his life was.
Part of Richard had even entertained the ridiculous notion of going back, even though he knew it was just a dream. Seeing Ritchie happy to see him made Richard feel a lot better about leaving the relative excitement of the trip behind and returning home.
“Hey, Dad!” Ritchie said, throwing himself at Richard.
Richard dropped his duffel bag to catch him and pressed his face to Ritchie’s head. “Hey, Ritchie.”
“Welcome home,” Ritchie said as they separated, his attention going almost immediately back to his game.
“Thanks,” Richard said, even though he’d already lost Ritchie’s attention. “It’s good to be home.”
Suddenly it didn’t feel like a lie.
“My turn,” Christine said, enveloping Richard in a hug. “How was your flight? The conference?”
“Good,” Richard said, unable, unwilling to say anything more right then.
“I’m so glad you’re home,” Christine went on, not waiting for Richard to say more if he’d wanted to.
“Thanks,” Richard said as he picked up his bag and followed Christine towards the exit, feeling a warmth blossom in his chest.
“Can you take Ritchie this weekend?”
Used to Christine after twenty plus years, Richard just shook his head. “Sure. Date?”
Christine started talking about some guy she’d met while waiting in line at the bank and Richard tuned her out. At this point in their relationship, most of Christine’s monologues were so much white noise.
Richard’s phone vibrated in his pocket. Christine paused when she noticed that Richard’s attention had been diverted.
“What is it?”
Richard read the text. *Safe flight?* He smiled. “Someone I met in New York.”
“Ooh, did you meet a girl?” Christine said, Richard’s possible love life more interesting than hers for the moment.
“No,” Richard said.
“Oh,” Christine deflated. “A contact from the conference?”
“Something like that,” Richard said as he returned the phone to his pocket. “You were saying about Dave . . . ?”
“Doug,” Christine corrected with a frown, but she was off again, leaving Richard to contemplate whether he should send a reply to Jason or call him after he got home. Maybe both.
“Hey,” Richard said, suddenly realizing how far they’d walked from where Christine had met him. “Where’s Ritchie?”
“What?” Christine said, looking around frantically. “Oh my god, Ritchie! Ritchie!”
Richard shook his head and followed Christine back into the airport. It was good to be home.