Greg leans forward on the table, his eyes glinting mischievously behind his glasses. "Let's play a game."
This successfully draws the attention of the room’s other occupants, sitting and lying around him in a state of jaded lethargy.
“If you’re breaking out the Monopoly set, I’m leaving,” Brad calls lazily.
It’s early evening, sometime around six or seven. They’ve stopped looking at the time. Right now, the group is supposed to be performing at a corporate function. A few days in the Caribbean in exchange for a few hours of keeping a bunch of pompous, business-types happy had seemed like a no-brainer when the idea was proposed.
Unfortunately, their plans had been swiftly scuppered soon after arrival by the force which right now was lashing the windows with relentless wind and rain. Only the edge of the hurricane was brushing the island, but everything was cancelled and there were no flights out until the next day at the earliest. And so it was that the six of them congregated in Greg’s hotel room, like a band of beleaguered castaways, and waited.
Brad is sprawled across a nearby couch. The thread he’s been picking at for over an hour has now created a reasonably sized hole in the intricate floral design of the fabric. Ryan and Colin are on the floor below with their backs resting against the couch, tossing cards into the trash can.
A slow smirk creases Greg’s mouth at Brad’s remark. “Not Monopoly.”
When he doesn’t say anything more, Ryan eventually takes the bait. There’s a quiver of impatience in his tone as he flips another card across the floor. “Well what then, Greg?”
Greg’s eyes slide over to Ryan’s, and his mouth forms a single word. “Poker.”
Ryan looks unimpressed. “Poker?”
“Not just any sort of poker.”
“Let me guess,” Chip pipes up from an equally floral armchair opposite. “Strip poker?”
Greg inclines his head a fraction, his eyes still glinting wickedly. “With a twist.”
“Go on…” Colin says slowly, taking his eyes off his task and consequently missing his target by several inches.
Greg’s smirk is now at full strength. “The loser of each round has to remove one article of clothing…”
“Hence the ‘strip’ part of the name,” Chip interrupts, rolling his eyes.
Greg continues as if Chip hadn’t spoken. “And the winner chooses who the loser has to kiss… for a full minute.” There’s a mixture of confused frowns and quirked eyebrows in Greg’s direction.
“So it’s strip kiss poker, then,” Brad snorts. “Awesome.”
“Well, I’m in,” Jeff says from the window, joining the conversation for the first time. His eyes never leave the countless rivulets of water running down the fogged-up glass as his voice drops to a murmur. “Hell, I probably would have taken Russian roulette at this point.”
Brad shrugs, sitting up and stretching like a cat. “However you get your kicks, man. I’m in, too.”
Colin exchanges a look with Ryan, saying all that needs to be said without speaking a word, and then grins. “Make that four of us.”
All eyes now rest on Chip, the last of the group to answer, and he looks distinctly uncomfortable under the sudden scrutiny. He clears his throat, his eyes darting over to Jeff for the smallest of milliseconds. “Just a bit of fun… right?”
“Whatever you want it to be, compadre,” Greg replies casually.
Chip looks indecisive for a moment, but then nods his agreement. “Okay.”
“Excellent,” Greg grins. “Let the entertainment commence. Oh, and there’s one more thing,” he adds, as Ryan collects up the cards and passes them over. “The loser can’t kiss the same person twice in a row.” His gaze moves over all of them, coming to rest on Ryan’s and Colin’s upturned faces with amusement. “We have to make it a bit more interesting, right?”
“I think the mini-bar’s about to take a big hit,” Chip mumbles.
The game starts out innocently enough, a general air of good-humour about the whole affair, and when Ryan wins the first round he orders a jacket-less Greg to kiss Brad with barely concealed glee. There’s only a brief moment of awkwardness before both men go at it for all they’re worth, spurred on by laughter and wolf whistles.
Chip unexpectedly wins the second round, and it’s Colin’s turn to divest himself of an article of clothing. He’s thankful for his particular choice of attire that day, removing his tie – much to the disappointment of Ryan, whose eyes had sparked in anticipation. Ryan’s rewarded anyway, when Chip bottles out and orders Colin to kiss him.
The Canadian pretends to take a moment to psych himself up, until Ryan growls, “Get over here.”
Grinning, Colin complies and, as expected, they have no trouble doing the full minute. In fact, Ryan looks altogether disgruntled when they’re forced to pull back.
An hour later, the game is getting much more interesting. The group is a little more inebriated, a little less clothed. The tells are becoming more obvious, and the kisses less reserved. Brad is in by far the worst position, only hanging onto his boxers and socks, and is down to his last ten bucks. While Ryan, who has sat through many a late night poker game, remains relatively unscathed and is up by almost a hundred. Miniature bottles of various alcoholic beverages lie scattered around the table, courtesy of the raided – and now almost empty - mini-bar.
“Oh, come on,” Brad whines, throwing his full house down on the table in disgust as Jeff smugly lays down his straight. “You’ve rigged this.”
“Off with it, Sherwood,” Ryan grins, looking expectant.
Throwing a dirty look his way, Brad removes a sock and tosses it onto his growing pile of clothes beside his chair.
Jeff chuckles and glances around the table, pondering who hasn’t been matched yet. “I choose… Colin.”
In the midst of shuffling, Colin looks up at Jeff then across at Brad who’s sat beside him. He seems to be on the point of continuing his argument so, rolling his eyes, Colin grabs the back of Brad’s head and pulls him into a full lip-lock.
Distantly, Colin hears someone say, “One minute starts now,” but his attention is caught by Brad’s quiet moan as their connection deepens. It’s unexpected, but what’s even more unexpected is his body’s reaction to it. So far, everyone’s kisses have been perfectly pleasant but there’s been nothing else there… no underlying hint of real emotion, not even a twitch. Now Brad, the man who he’s toured with for years, who he’s shared countless hotel rooms with and felt nothing, is kissing him. Not as a friend in a silly game, but as something much stronger and deeper. And Colin’s kissing him right back, his tight grasp on the back of Brad’s head gentling to soft strokes.
Loud coughs and sniggers eventually break them apart – obviously they’d missed the signal to stop - and Colin stares at Brad in shocked wonder, his expression mirrored on Brad’s face. He’s suddenly very aware that Ryan has been watching and, as the next hand is dealt, he turns to look at him, ready to explain himself. But far from anger, jealousy, or even disappointment, he sees something else entirely in Ryan’s eyes. Arousal. Colin’s anxiety melts away at the sight and he relaxes with a small smile, content to enjoy whatever the evening brings his way.
Soon, everyone’s kisses are becoming infinitely more intimate. When Jeff has to kiss Chip, after losing by a tiny margin to Greg, he startles the other man by grabbing him forcefully and plundering his mouth with abandon, his hands wandering all over the plentiful stretches of bare flesh. When the initial surprise wears off, Chip doesn’t protest.
Then it’s Brad’s turn to be attacked by Ryan, leaning across Colin who gets a close-up, and rather appetizing, view of the action. Greg loses big and seizes a handful of Ryan’s shirt to pull him close, then, after the next round, Jeff nearly pulls Colin clear across the table in his eagerness.
It becomes a case of the loser getting a better prize than the winner, and no-one’s complaining anymore.
A little over three hours into the game, Colin’s straight is beaten by Ryan’s four Jacks, leaving him without pants, and Ryan leans in for the kill before Colin can so much as form a word. Two minutes into their one minute kiss, they show no signs of stopping. Greg grins, a dangerous, predatory, expression crossing his face before he pounces on Jeff hungrily.
“What about the game?” Chip asks weakly, looking from one pair to the other. He swallows loudly at the sight.
“Fuck the game,” Jeff gasps, pulling Chip’s mouth down to his own as Greg attacks his neck.
“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Ryan murmurs against Colin’s lips, now on the floor and busy removing what little remains of their clothing.
Colin moans as Ryan moves lower, then opens his eyes, searching. His gaze locks onto Brad who’s still sitting in his seat, watching with an expression of both hunger and uncertainty. Colin looks to Ryan for approval, then holds out a hand. Smiling, Brad takes it and is pulled down to join them. His mouth finds Colin’s and he ceases to think.