Danny Wilde watched from across the pool how first one woman, then another, tried to make idle conversation with Lord Brett Sinclair.
He could hardly blame them. Brett was laid out on a deck chair in all his masculine glory. Or at least he was as exposed as the Lord ever was, meaning his only concession to the poolside atmosphere was that he'd opted for bare feet to go with his white linen trousers, and he'd left his blazer draped over the back of the chair. His pale blue shirt was open three buttons, but the skin at his neck was already turning pink, and Brett idly stroked at his throat when he thought no one was watching. Strangely, Danny thought this must have been how turn-of-the-century men felt when catching sight of a sliver of bare ankle—with Brett there was only the merest hint of sexuality, a teasing glimpse at a mystery few people would ever get to know.
Of course, Brett had no reason to expect Danny to be there. Danny wasn't due back for another three days, but his business had wrapped up early, and he couldn't think of any reason to stay in the early autumn cold snap New York was having, when the French Riviera beckoned.
Another woman slipped onto the empty lounge chair beside Brett. Casual words were exchanged, and Danny could see the blatant flirting in how she swung her golden hair, the casual way she leaned forward to give Brett the best view of her full bikini-covered breasts.
By contrast, Brett was radiating polite boredom from every pore. He kept his eyes on his book for the most part, and seemed to answer each question with as few words as possible. Not at all the Brett Sinclair Danny was used to.
Danny didn't miss the moment when the girl realized she was getting nowhere. She picked up her towel and moved to the end of the row of chairs where an Italian businessman was lathering lotion on his broad shoulders. Danny mentally wished her luck. He knew for a fact the man didn't have any interest in young women, no matter how beautiful they were or how many yards of tanned skin they displayed.
Brett idly turned the pages of the book he was pretending to read—it looked leather-bound and dull, and Danny would have to remind him that appearing well-educated wasn't necessarily the way to fend off the ladies. Danny had almost decided to stop waiting around and spying when he saw the sun-tanning Italian businessman saunter towards Brett, lotion in hand. They exchanged pleasantries, and to Danny's surprise, Brett set his book aside and took the bottle of lotion, letting a small amount of the liquid pool on his palm. He rubbed his hands together, then proceeded to knead the lotion into the shoulders of the Italian, who had taken a seat on the lounger beside Brett. Before he even realized he'd moved, Danny was across the room.
"Daniel!" Brett said with surprise. "What are you doing back?" He didn't stop the slow, sensual rubbing, and Danny glared at the Italian's amused smirk.
"That's all you can say?" Danny asked, standing with his arms crossed. "No 'Hello, Daniel. How are you, Daniel? I missed you while you were in America'?"
"Hello, Daniel. How are you, Daniel?" Brett repeated, letting a grin play across his face. "How are the colonies?"
"Just fine, thank you," Danny said lightly. "We've done quite alright without Mother England, you know."
"Oh quite," Brett agreed, and the Italian laughed. "All-you-can-eat buffets and no firearm restrictions are the foundation of any modern society." Brett rubbed the last of the lotion into the Italian's shoulders, and Danny thought the man's small groans were ridiculously unsubtle. There was no way that Brett would fall for that, even if he were inclined towards men. Which he wasn't, Danny was certain.
Except that now Brett was murmuring something in Italian—too quick and soft for Danny to catch—and the man was leaning back into Brett's hands in a way that was hard to miss. Brett's pale hands practically shone against the Italian's darker skin. Danny couldn't help but wonder how they would look against his own tanned skin.
"I can see you're busy," Danny said, tearing his eyes away from the scene in front of him. "I'll just get checked in, and maybe see you later. If you don't have plans." Danny looked meaningfully towards the Italian, then back at Brett. The Italian laughed again, then rambled off something Danny couldn't begin to understand. He got up, thanked Brett for his help, then walked off grinning.
"What was that about?" Danny asked, not entirely certain he wanted to know.
"He thinks you're geloso," Brett said, standing up and grabbing his jacket as he followed Danny towards the hotel.
Brett smiled. "Jealous."
Danny shook his head. "Me? Jealous of what?"
Brett pushed Danny not-so-gently against the curved wall of the building where the late afternoon shadows hid them from view. "Daniel, you watched me for over an hour, and you didn't move a muscle until Gino approached me."
"You knew I was there?"
"And you didn't give any indication?"
"I wanted to see what you were up to."
"And," Brett said, sliding his body closer to Danny's, trapping him against the wall, "I like that you're jealous."
Danny could feel the heat from Brett's body passing into his own. The hard masculine heat pressed against him and he responded in kind, hands coming to rest on Brett's hips. Danny kissed him long and deep, the way he'd thought about doing from almost the first time they'd met. It was everything he'd hoped, Brett opening up to him, giving back as good as he got.
Somewhere in the background, Danny heard the low mutter of Italian, and he caught Brett's huffed laugh against his mouth.
"What did he say?"
"Now he's the one who's geloso."
"Good," Danny said possessively. "Let's keep it that way."
Brett's answer was to kiss him again.