Doyle shaded his eyes from the early morning sun as he took in the breathtaking view.
Le Grande Palazzo Hotel was nestled up on a hillside, its elevated position commanding the most beautiful views, and where Doyle was sitting beside the infinity pool was no exception. The endless expanse of sapphire-blue ocean glittered majestically as the odd ship glided across in the distance, and the lagoon below him sparkled, its clear, turquoise waters flanked decoratively by lush, green hills.
The views were something the hotel was renowned for, ‘…its sweeping panoramic vistas part of a stunning setting, to ensure relaxation enjoyed in the height of luxury and beauty...’ as the brochure proudly claimed.
Well, Doyle had news for them. It would take more than a fucking panoramic vista to impress him.
He lay back into the padded comfort of his sun lounger and determinedly closed his eyes, but the images that played through his mind forced him to open them again. In need of distraction he got up, strode to the edge of the pool and in one fluid movement dived into the water.
Enjoying the brief shock of cool water over his sun-warmed skin, he swam nearly a full length submerged before surfacing for air. The pool was empty except for him, and he quickly settled into a rhythm, ploughing up and down for twenty minutes before coming to a stop.
Panting slightly from his exertions, he stood in the shallow end and swept his hair back with his hands, before lifting himself out. Dripping with water, he made his way back to the lounger and lay down on his towel to dry off in the sun.
Bodie caught a flash of movement in his peripheral vision, and glanced out of the window in time to see a man in bright blue trunks dive elegantly into the pool.
The morning meeting was coming to a close and when one of his managers finished speaking, Bodie took the opportunity to wrap things up and thank his staff for their time.
As they filed out of his office, Bodie swivelled round in his chair to face the window. Along with the landscaped gardens and ocean beyond, his office had a fair view of the sun terraces and pool, providing him with a discreet vantage point to observe the early morning swimmer. The man was obviously very fit, Bodie noted, as he watched him knife smoothly through the water.
Carrying on with his work, Bodie kept half an eye on outside and was rewarded when finally the swimmer came to a stop. Sitting back in his chair, Bodie watched as the man effortlessly pushed himself up out of the pool, water running through heavy, dark curls and down well-defined shoulders and back.
Very nice, thought Bodie, admiring the guest’s physique as he made his way to a sun lounger, his muscles glistening with droplets of water.
His skin was fair - so he was obviously a new arrival - and his body was toned and sleek like a long distance runner. Lots of stamina, probably, Bodie mused idly, as he watched the tight buttocks undulate tantalisingly beneath the silky fabric of the blue trunks.
Bodie was used to seeing extremely attractive men and women in skimpy swimwear around his hotel, but for downright sex appeal, this guy was in a league of his own. He looked European, but beyond that Bodie couldn’t be sure what nationality he might be. Wondering how he could get a closer look at him, Bodie’s musings were interrupted by his phone ringing. A problem in Housekeeping required his attention and Bodie headed out of his office, trying to forget the man in blue trunks.
Back in his suite, showered and dressed, his skin tingling from a day in the sun, Doyle settled in a chair on his balcony’s large terrace. He rolled his head gently, first one way then the other, aware of the tension in his neck and shoulders. He’d have a massage in the next day or two, see if the masseurs here were as good as they claimed.
Working as a freelance travel critic with regular contributions to the more swanky magazines and publications, Doyle had made a name for himself by being scathing, witty and brutally honest. Rarely did a hotel or resort escape without several barbs from his acerbic pen and a few marked suggestions on where they could make improvements. As a result, he was always in demand from editors, who knew their readers enjoyed his forthright approach, finding his derisive style both amusing and shocking.
After fifteen years in the business, Doyle had reviewed some of the world’s most prestigious hotels and had become accustomed to a high standard, but even he had to admit that this particular hotel was impressive. He'd only arrived yesterday, but from what he’d seen so far the place was run with a perfect balance of impeccable service and friendliness, luxury and comfort. It even had that rare quality, a feeling of genuine warmth from the staff, rather than the condescending air he detected in a lot of the upmarket places he visited and was a particular pet hate of his.
As soon as he’d entered the grand foyer, hot and tetchy after a long journey involving two flights, he'd been embalmed in a peaceful atmosphere. The attractive and welcoming receptionist, who no doubt knew who he was, had checked him in with calming efficiency.
He’d been briefly informed of the hotel’s guest services and provided with a courtesy car. Then he’d been whisked up to a magnificent suite with floor-to-ceiling windows on the sixth floor, which was to be his own tranquil haven for the next five days. It had an elegant lounge, a sumptuous king-size bedroom and an exquisite marble bathroom, all tastefully decorated in light, clean colours.
Doyle’s assigned butler had provided some much needed refreshment and unpacked his suitcase, while Doyle had wandered through each room, noting the rich quality and design of the furnishings. The local artwork which adorned the walls was cleverly chosen and placed to enhance the sensory experience; a blissful and spacious retreat away from the rest of the world.
His notebook and pen lay on the balcony table as Doyle made himself admire the dusk-lit view before him, listening to the soft hum of cicadas. As with all buildings on the island, there were height restrictions to protect its beauty and his rooms were on the top floor. He took a deep breath of the scented evening air, picked up his pen and started to write. These were his initial thoughts on the hotel, his first impressions and observations, and the words flowed easily.
After a while, feeling in a better mood than he had for several days, he decided he’d earned a drink, and grabbing his key and wallet he left his suite.
It was the hair that Bodie recognised. Well, the hair and the arse, if he was being totally honest.
On his way to see the head chef about that evening’s specials, Bodie saw the man from the pool walking into the lounge bar. He knew it was him from the way his arse moved beneath the cling of those tight, white jeans he was wearing. Very distinctive that motion and not one Bodie was likely to forget anytime soon. And then there was the hair, which now dry had become untamed, golden-brown curls.
Continuing on his way to the kitchen, Bodie indulged in a few lust-filled thoughts imagining how that gorgeous body would feel writhing naked against his own.
A thrum of desire pulsed deliciously at his groin, alerting Bodie to the fact it was probably wise to curb such thoughts. At least while he was in a public place, anyway.
That was twice today he’d had the pleasure of seeing that spectacular rear view, and twice it had made an indelible impression. He wondered how the front compared. Probably got a face like a bag of spanners, he thought with a chuckle.
Shaking his head at himself, Bodie tried to steer his mind back to business. Too much work and too little play, he told himself wryly, knowing he thrived on running his hotel. He didn't resent the hours, and sticking firmly to casual liaisons suited him just fine. Managing the hotel gave him the perfect excuse to stay single when partners got clingy.
On the whole, he tended to avoid getting involved with guests, but it wasn’t easy. Lazy, luxurious days under the heat of a foreign sun were a strong aphrodisiac for most, and neither the women nor the men were afraid to make their interest clear to him.
In the early days he’d dabbled enthusiastically whenever the fancy took him, viewing it as a perk of the job. But he’d soon found it was often more trouble than it was worth, and he didn’t have time to deal with the messy aftermath when partners confused a fun romp between the sheets as a declaration of something more.
So while Bodie had no intention of trying it on with the sexy swimmer, he decided it couldn’t do any harm to at least find out his name and where he was from.
Doyle took his large vodka and tonic out to the bar’s terraces, and sat down at a table overlooking the beautifully lit tropical gardens. It was a rich mix of colour, with lush exotic flowers cascading amongst the deep green of palm fronds.
He leant back in his chair and downed a generous amount of his drink, listening to the murmur of the other guests and the background tinkling of the resident pianist drifting out from the bar. He tried to relax and enjoy the ambience, but sitting there alone his thoughts inevitably turned to the one subject he wanted to forget. Simon.
He felt his good mood start to wane.
They’d met inauspiciously one Saturday morning in May, when Simon had driven into the back of him on the King’s Road. Doyle had leapt from his car about to berate the blind bastard behind him for not paying attention, only to be faced with a handsome, well-spoken man apologising profusely for causing damage to such a beautiful classic car and promising to pay for the repairs.
A phone call about insurance had led to an invitation to dinner. Doyle had learned that Simon was a philosophy lecturer at a London university. He was intelligent and thought provoking. They’d been seeing each other for about six months in what Doyle thought had grown into a steady relationship.
But five days ago, Doyle had dropped in on Simon at his Finsbury flat, where his lover had opened the door in his dressing-gown. Instinctively suspicious, Doyle had pushed past a blustering Simon and made his way down the hall to the bedroom, where he’d nudged open the door to see a young man lying in the bed.
For just a second, Doyle had stood motionless. Then his hand had formed a tight fist and smashed into Simon’s face with a force that threw his now ex-lover tumbling back along the hallway.
Doyle had stormed out of the flat and down the stairs, ignoring Simon’s calls to him.
The next two days and nights were a whisky induced blur, as Doyle’s mood swung between humiliated rage and depressed introspection. He ignored the phone and the door buzzer, which both seemed to ring incessantly at regular intervals. On the third day, despite the encumbrance of a massive hangover, he’d remembered he had a job booked and somehow managed to pack his case and get a taxi to Heathrow.
He’d heard of Le Grande Palazzo Hotel, of course - or The Grand as it was colloquially known - and he’d been keen to visit, curious to see if it lived up to its extraordinarily high reputation. So when one of the regular publications he contributed to had asked him to review it, he’d jumped at the chance. As it turned out, the timing couldn’t have been better. It had unwittingly provided Doyle with the ideal escape from his failed relationship.
The hotel was obscenely expensive for good reason, and where better to nurse his wounded pride than in this exquisite setting, beneath blue skies and sunshine? It was certainly more restorative than the grey, wintry London he’d left behind. His anger over Simon had faded since he’d arrived at The Grand, leaving a shadow of gloom that he could’ve misjudged such a complete wanker.
Draining the rest of his vodka and tonic, Doyle cast a critical eye over his surroundings. Perhaps getting drunk in paradise would cheer him back up, he decided, as he caught the attention of a waiter and ordered another.
Sitting at his desk, Bodie opened the file containing details of his current guests. He scanned down through the list, before stopping abruptly as one name leapt out at him.
Mr Raymond Doyle. Suite 601. Five Nights.
Bodie stared aghast at the small line of printed letters with a deluded hope they might somehow mingle into a different name.
Christ, Raymond bloody Doyle, bastard critic, was here in his hotel!
Panic raced through Bodie as he checked to see how long he’d been here… Ah, since yesterday…
Suddenly, an image of the sexy swimmer flashed in his mind, and with it a second revelation.
Because Bodie just knew that as an added twist of fate by the universe, Raymond Doyle was the man he’d seen by the pool. Raymond Doyle was Mr League-of-His-Own.
He stabbed the intercom to his assistant. “Dan, get in here!”
The blond, young man calmly entered the office, unperturbed by the anger in his boss’s voice.
“We’ve got a problem,” said Bodie bluntly. “Raymond Doyle checked in yesterday.”
Dan’s face paled, and the normally unflappable assistant looked alarmed. “The critic?” he ventured.
“Yes, the bloody critic! Unless you happen to know any other Raymond Doyles who might’ve checked in on their own for a five-night stay,” Bodie snapped. “Why did no-one realise he was here?”
“I... I don't know,” Dan faltered. “I’ll speak to Reception, find out why they didn’t pick this up.”
Bodie briefly closed his eyes and took a deep breath... it wasn’t fair to take this out on Dan. He’d become a good friend over the years they’d worked together, and Bodie knew he wasn’t always the easiest boss to work for, with his exacting standards.
“Sorry Dan, it’s not your fault,” Bodie said, his mind already running through every issue that had cropped up over the last twenty-four hours and wondering if any of them could have been noticed by Raymond Doyle. The last thing he needed was to give the critic any extra ammunition. “I just don’t like nasty surprises like this. We work too bloody hard to have our reputation ruined by that spiteful bastard.”
Dan sat down in the chair opposite his boss. “All our guests are treated like royalty. I’m sure Raymond Doyle couldn’t be anything but complimentary about his stay here,” he said, not sounding very sure at all.
Bodie shook his head. “But that’s not how he makes his living, is it? He always finds things to complain about or criticise. Get a memo out to all the managers and warn them he’s here. Suite 601.”
“Will do.” Dan stood up to leave, once again all assured efficiency. “By the way, how did you find out he was here?”
“Eh?” Bodie stalled, unwilling to admit that it was his lust for a guest that had inadvertently revealed the critic’s identity. “Oh, doesn’t matter now. It’s my fault as much as anyone’s we didn’t spot him. I always used to keep an eye on the Register, but lately....” he trailed off, rubbing his hands over his face. When he looked back at Dan, he saw his concern. Bodie managed to give him a smile. “Get the memo done, then go home. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“If you’re sure there’s nothing else?”
“Yeah, quite sure. See you tomorrow.” Bodie watched as Dan left, closing the door quietly behind him.
He looked at the file still lying open on his desk and pulled out the pile of photocopied passports. He leafed through them, glancing at each of the small photos until the face of a dissenting seraph with familiar untamed curls was gazing up at him. Raymond Doyle.
So he was right.
Bodie sat back in his chair and regarded the picture. So much for having a face like a bag of spanners…
Struck by the critic’s unexpected beauty, he felt a stab of lust. The hair was a little shorter in the photo, framing tantalising features; exotic, knowing eyes, full lips and high cheek bones… one slightly indented. Perhaps someone didn’t like one of his reviews, Bodie thought wryly, trying and failing to ignore his body’s reaction to the photo. At least he was in private this time.
He slapped the file shut in frustration. This was ridiculous, he’d only ever seen the bloke from a distance, and yet somehow he’d got under his skin and driven Bodie to rifle through records of his guests to find out his name.
Well, Bodie had got more than he’d bargained for, hadn’t he? Not only was the man from the pool the dreaded critic Raymond Doyle, but apparently Bodie had the hots for him.
Still, at least he’d found an excuse to get a closer look. A huge charm offensive was in order, to try and get the vicious bastard onside.
Finishing his second large drink and still feeling annoyingly sober, Doyle was considering ordering something with more of a kick to it, when he noticed a man step out from the bar. He was tall and broadly built, but it was something indefinable which drew Doyle's attention as he made his way purposefully across the terrace. Even from thirty feet away the man had a dominating presence and Doyle, aware he was staring, was incapable of dragging his eyes away.
As the man got closer, Doyle's breath caught… Jesus, shouldn’t be legal to look like that.
He was wearing navy-blue chinos (very well fitted, Doyle noted, as strong thighs and an almost indecently well-defined crotch came into view) and a white cotton shirt contrasting with the glimpses of tanned chest and forearms. His dark brown hair was cropped short around a face like a Greek god with piercing blue eyes.
Christ, talk about sex on bloody legs. It wasn’t often such a perfect specimen crossed your path, thought Doyle in appreciation, his mood lifting once again.
It then lifted even further, when to his surprise the man stopped at his table and with a dazzling smile held out his hand.
“Mr Doyle? My name is Bodie. As the proprietor, may I say how delighted we are to have you here at The Grand. I can only apologise that I wasn’t able to personally welcome you yesterday.”
Entranced by cerulean eyes looking intently into his own, Doyle felt his heart-rate quicken as he returned the firm handshake. Bloody hell, so the Greek god owned this place? Forget the panoramic vistas, they should mention him in the bloody brochure…
"If there’s anything we can do to make your stay more pleasurable," Bodie continued, "please don’t hesitate to let myself or one of the staff know.”
“No complaints so far,” Doyle replied, involuntarily thinking of several pleasurable things the proprietor could do for him. It didn’t help having that chino-covered crotch right in his eye line, he only needed to lean forward and he could run his tongue --
“Would you like another drink?” Bodie was gesturing to his empty glass.
Doyle gave him a dazzling smile of his own. “Take more than a drink if you're hoping to bribe me...”
Bodie arched an eyebrow in amusement. “The Grand is the best hotel in the world,” he said with supreme confidence. “I don't need to bribe you.”
“Think I'll be the judge of that,” Doyle shot back, still smiling. “Don’t you?”
Bodie’s lips twitched. “So, how about that drink... if it won't compromise your integrity, of course?”
Doyle let his gaze linger consideringly on Bodie a moment, before replying. “All right…” he said. “If you’re having one.”
Bodie glanced at the waiter hovering a discreet distance away, who swiftly made his way over to them.
“What would you like?” Bodie sat down opposite Doyle.
“Vodka and tonic,” Doyle replied, deciding that extra kick he’d been after had just arrived in non-alcoholic form and wearing chinos.
Bodie turned to the waiter. “And a sparkling water for me, thanks Myles.”
Strange, the bloke didn’t look the abstemious type... just the opposite in fact. “Don't you drink?” asked Doyle, as the waiter left.
“Not when I'm working.”
“Oh, well, I’m sorry having a drink with me is considered work,” Doyle said, with feigned pathos. “But I suppose it's to be expected, what with the job and all,” he added with a resigned sigh.
“I didn't mean it like that,” Bodie assured him. “It’s just I’ve a few more hours of paperwork to do tonight. Believe me, this is a welcome break.”
“Ah, tough life, is it, running an internationally renowned hotel?” Doyle asked, with a teasing smile.
“More so than being an internationally renowned critic, I expect,” Bodie replied smoothly.
“Oh, I don’t know…” said Doyle. “Not that easy being constantly jet-lagged, having to write to deadlines, under pressure to entertain and also be informative…”
“Oh, sounds terrible...” Bodie commiserated.
“Not to mention,” Doyle added casually, “that everyone dreads your arrival, and then has to pretend they’re pleased to see you…” He looked knowingly at Bodie, unable to stop a smile tugging at his lips.
“Surely not,” said Bodie, with wide-eyed innocence. “I can’t imagine why…”
Doyle laughed. “Yeah, course you can’t,” he said, his heart doing a little flip at the way Bodie smiled back at him.
"Have you visited this part of the world before?" the owner asked.
Doyle shook his head. "No, first time. But I must say...” He sat back lazily in his chair and looked with shameless desire at Bodie, “I can certainly see its appeal.”
The hotelier smiled again, an appreciative gaze sweeping subtly over Doyle. “Well, I’m very pleased to hear that,” he replied. “I think you’ll find it has a lot to offer.”
“I look forward to finding out…” Doyle said, deciding perhaps he was a bit pissed after all, flirting so boldly. He recklessly wondered if it would be too brazen to just invite Bodie back to his suite right now. The owner must be used to people unashamedly throwing themselves at him, thought Doyle vaguely, lost in an intense blue gaze. Probably quite normal for his path to be strewn with besotted men and women making indecent proposals while he just went about his day-to-day business…
But as the waiter returned with their drinks, Doyle thought better of propositioning him. A bit of suggestive flirting was one thing, but a blatant proposal so soon could well be overstepping the mark, given their professional roles. He would just have to clamp down on his ardour and be a little more patient.
So instead he lifted his glass in a toast. “Here’s to an enjoyable stay,” he said, with a big smile.
Bodie matched the gesture. “And many more to come.”
Doyle laughed. “Only if you give me a discount! Don’t think I could afford to make this a regular haunt, more’s the pity.”
They continued chatting, the conversation flowing easily from one topic to another. Aside from working in the travel industry, Doyle found he and Bodie had other things in common, too, both enjoying various sports and having a passion for motor bikes.
Doyle was pleased to also find that beneath the cool façade Bodie was easy to talk to, with a cheeky sense of humour. He was extremely good company, and while Doyle suspected he was being charmed by an expert for purely professional reasons, he didn’t give a toss and just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
A discussion about who had suffered the worst sports-related injury – Doyle, with a fractured collarbone - was interrupted by a waiter passing a note to Bodie.
Doyle watched him open it. “Problem?” he asked, suspecting their evening together was unfortunately about to come to an end.
“Just a phone call I need to take, but it’ll probably take a while.” Bodie gave an apologetic smile as he stood up. “I'm sorry Mr Doyle, will you excuse me?”
“Only if you don’t call me Mr Doyle. Friends just call me Doyle, or Ray.” Lovers too, he thought with a smirk.
Bodie nodded, looking pleased. “Perhaps we could do this again one evening, if you’re free?” he said.
Feeling like he’d just hit the jackpot, Doyle picked up his barely-touched vodka and relaxed back in his chair. “Yeah, one when you're off duty, eh?”
“I’ll look forward to it. Good night.” Bodie smiled again, before briskly heading back towards the bar.
Admiring the navy-blue clad arse as it departed, Doyle lifted his glass to his lips and took a sedate sip. Who needed alcohol?
Doyle woke the next morning with a glorious feeling of contentment. Bright sunshine gleamed invitingly around the cracks in the curtains, promising another beautiful day in paradise. He stretched languidly in his king-sized bed, trying to grab the fading edges of what had been a delicious dream... something involving very blue eyes and a sexy mouth...
He smiled to himself. No prizes for guessing who he’d been dreaming about, he thought, as his hand drifted down to his erection. Oh yes, that felt good... and if he imagined those blue eyes were watching him right now… ahhhh, yeah, that felt even better...
With a fantasy Bodie watching him wanking off, Doyle came fast and hard.
Making his early morning inspection of the hotel, Bodie knew there was an extra spring in his step, a silly smile on his face and a constant pulse in his groin.
He’d woken feeling energised, with the anticipation of something amazing about to happen. And all those stupid clichés suddenly made sense; he felt like he was floating on air and the world was a wonderful place.
So much for last night’s charm offensive on Ray Doyle, he reflected wryly. As it happened, he’d been the one who was charmed; hook, line and bloody sinker! Smitten, his mum would have called it.
He took his usual route, starting up on the roof garden and methodically working his way down through the hotel, checking all public areas floor by floor. But his mind wasn’t on the job, and he suspected the roof could have fallen in overnight and he might not notice, too wrapped up as he was thinking about the evening he’d spent with Ray Doyle.
Because it turned out the critic was even more seductive in the flesh than his photo had suggested. As they’d shaken hands, Bodie had found himself bewitched by a pair of malachite eyes that seemed to unashamedly strip him and promise him the height of ecstasy in any way he cared to choose. Little wonder that all Bodie could think about was seeing him again as soon as possible.
Checking the sixth floor, Bodie paused only briefly outside Suite 601, a foolish whim to knock on the door passing only fleetingly in his head before he dismissed it. Mind you, the thought of a sleepily dishevelled Doyle answering the door was almost enough to persuade him to give in to such an impulse, his cock giving a throb of endorsement, but he forced himself to walk on along the corridor.
Better to meet again this evening, when they had the whole night ahead of them, Bodie decided happily. A few drinks, perhaps some dinner, and then… well, given the way Doyle was looking at him last night, Bodie was confident they both wanted the same thing.
All professional principles had flown out the window. Bodie wanted Doyle, desired him with a ferocity he’d never felt before.
Although unsettlingly, the appeal was more than just physical. Bodie had been expecting Raymond Doyle, infamous critic, to be a rude and obnoxious tosser whose company he’d have to endure through gritted teeth and with a fixed smile. Instead, he’d found Doyle to be funny, engaging and sharp as a tack. Bodie had been utterly captivated.
It was lucky he was a rational and level-headed adult not given to flights of fancy, Bodie reminded himself as he floated dreamily back to his office, otherwise he might think Doyle was the most perfect and gorgeous man he’d ever met and that they were destined to be together.
After a shower and light breakfast, Doyle made use of his courtesy car, and negotiating the treacherous hairpin bends he drove down into the town for market day.
The vibrant market was situated near the harbour and was bustling with islanders as well as tourists. The stalls were filled with everything from fruit and veg, to rugs and crockery and local crafts.
The atmosphere was buzzing with traders hawking their wares, and Doyle wondered how an Englishman had come to live here on this island, amongst these gregarious people, in this culture so different from the one he must have grown up in.
Doyle enjoyed strolling up and down row upon row of stalls, taking photos, chatting to people and getting some local colour for his review. And all the time he was thinking about the man he’d spent the previous evening with, his stomach fluttering with excitement at the prospect of getting to know him better. Much better, if Doyle had his way.
Back at the hotel after lunch, Doyle spent the afternoon by the pool, reading through some old notes in his pad. It was an idea he’d scribbled down several months ago - just before he’d met that bastard Simon, he realised - for a humorous novel based loosely around his own backpacking experiences when he was nineteen. The temptation to work on it and write a first draft had lurked at the back of his mind and now could be the ideal time to start it. The exclusivity of the hotel meant it was peaceful and relaxing, very conducive to writing.
His contemplation was interrupted when a shadow fell across him and he looked up, expecting to see one of the waiters offering him some refreshment.
Instead, to his shock and disbelief, Simon stood looking down at him, his fading black eye a stark reminder of their last meeting.
To see the person he had just a few moments ago been thinking about, now suddenly standing in front of him… Doyle thought he must be imagining it.
He can’t be here…
But impossibly he was, Doyle realised, taking in the knee-length shorts and check shirt Simon was wearing. Likely reasons why Simon had flown out here flashed through his mind: there must have been an accident… he must have some bad news…
Still struggling to accept what his eyes were telling him, Doyle watched as Simon dropped to a crouch, his hands clasping the armrest of the sun lounger for balance.
“Ray, it’s so good to see you.” Simon smiled lovingly at him.
“What are you doing here?” Doyle demanded, grateful for the shield his sunglasses provided, his mind still reeling. “Has something happened?”
“I'm here for you, of course,” said Simon. “Look, I know this is a surprise, but I had to see you. I've missed you so much.” He paused and looked longingly at Doyle. “When you wouldn't answer your phone or flat, I thought I'd go mad... I was so desperate to talk to you. Then I remembered you were doing this job for Tatler, so I gave them a ring. Told them a bit of a fib, I'm afraid,” he said sheepishly. “Said you were my brother and there was an urgent family matter. Anyway…” He shook his head, as though the details were unimportant. “They told me you were staying here, and I got on the first plane -”
“You're staying here at The Grand?” Doyle was stunned by what he was hearing.
“No, bit too steep for me here,” said Simon, with a rueful smile. “I'm staying at the Atlantis. It's only a mile or so down the hill.”
Still trying to absorb the shock of it, Doyle’s gaze slid from Simon’s smiling face to the shimmering expanse of the infinity pool behind him. The edge of the pool merged magically into the sea and the sky beyond, a calming prism of stunning azures jarring sharply with the hostility he was feeling at that moment. He felt anger boil up inside him. How dare this fucker come out here to this beautiful island and pollute it with his bullshit.
“So let me get this straight,” said Doyle leaning close, his voice low and dangerous.“Having been caught fucking one of your students, you lied to my editor in order to track me down and ambush me on a job?”
Simon’s smile faltered. “No, of course not, it’s not like that. I wanted to tell you how sorry I am.” He briefly stroked Doyle’s cheek. “I know you’re angry now, but I’m going to make it up to you... I love you.”
Doyle got up from the lounger and started pulling on his denim shorts. “It's too late,” he said, struggling to contain his temper. “It's over!”
Simon stood up and grasped Doyle’s upper arms. “Don’t say that... what we had was too special to throw away!”
Doyle jerked his arms free. “Don’t you dare fucking touch me!” he hissed.
“Ray, please!” Simon took a step closer. “I made a mistake,” he said. “But we never said we were exclusive, did we? If I’d known that was what you wanted -”
“Oh, right!” Doyle laughed bitterly. “You thought I’d be happy you were fucking around, did you?”
“Please,” Simon implored. “Just have a drink with me, let me explain... that's all I’m asking!”
Aware they were attracting the attention of other guests around the pool and not wanting to have a scene in public, Doyle reluctantly agreed. “OK. One drink.”
Simon smiled. “I'll meet you in the bar here this evening, about eight?”
Doyle just glared in reply, before picking up his things and heading for the sanctuary of his suite.
Sitting in his office, Bodie gave up trying to read the report his accountant had sent him. There was no point when all he could think about were the two men he’d just glimpsed in the bar together.
He picked up the phone and dialled the terrace bar. “Rick, do you know who the man sitting with Raymond Doyle is?”
“He's not a resident of the hotel, Mr Bodie,” the barman replied. “He must be a friend of Mr Doyle's.”
“OK, thanks.” Bodie put the phone down and sagged back in his chair. It had been unlikely the barman knew who the stranger was, but worth asking just in case he’d been able to shed any light on the situation.
Bodie had seen the same man with Ray Doyle this afternoon by the pool. Now he’d seen them drinking together at the very table where he’d sat with Doyle last night.
They obviously knew each other and from the scene Bodie happened to witness earlier, they were definitely more than just friends. ‘Bickering lovers’ was the unwelcome realisation when he’d seen them by the pool, the body language intimate and familiar, even if they were having a tiff.
Well, it was only to be expected that Ray Doyle was spoken for. It was stupid of Bodie to assume someone that gorgeous would be single. Usually it was irrelevant to him whether someone he fancied was spoken for or not, but this time it bothered him.
The only question was, why were they staying in separate hotels? Perhaps Ray’s editor wouldn’t cough up for a companion, which was understandable given the cost.
Bodie sat up straight, determined to concentrate on the report lying open in front of him. He’d wasted enough of his time thinking about Ray Doyle, he told himself sternly, time to put a stop to it.
As it was, he’d spent most of the day conjuring up various fantasy scenarios of how he might bump into Doyle around the hotel. The latest one had involved them meeting at night in the gardens, where Doyle just happened to be taking a midnight stroll. As with all previous scenarios Doyle would find Bodie irresistible, telling him how gorgeous and sexy he was, and within minutes they would be ripping each other’s clothes off and fucking on the lawn.
Definitely time to stop thinking about him and get on with some work.
After all, it was ridiculous to be feeling so… OK, possessive… over someone he’d only just met. Especially someone whose evening attire seemed to extend to faded jeans and a T-shirt.
Thank god he hadn’t given in to his whimsical idea of knocking on Doyle’s door this morning! He shuddered at the thought, the delightful scenario suddenly taking on an unbearable buttock-clenching embarrassment as he imagined the boyfriend answering the door, a puzzled Ray Doyle standing behind him, and a flummoxed Bodie trying to come up with an explanation for disturbing them.
Then there would’ve been the added mortification of it probably appearing in Doyle’s review. ‘The Grand is nice enough, but don’t expect a lie in. With an eccentricity worthy of Basil Fawlty, the owner takes it upon himself to knock guests up at the crack of dawn for reasons best known to himself, as happened to my partner and myself…’
Bodie winced as he realised how close he’d come to making an utter fool of himself, professionally and personally. Humiliation burned through his veins. He’d been a fucking idiot getting taken in by Ray Doyle.
Right, seriously, he had to just forget about bloody Ray Doyle and get on with some work now.
But he couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt like this about someone. All day he’d been planning on seeing Doyle in the bar again this evening, so they could pick up where they’d left off. It hadn’t occurred to him there might be a fucking boyfriend to scupper his plans.
Bodie tried again to look at the report in front of him, but the words just blurred as he replayed the scene by the pool today, of this other man crouched close beside a nearly naked Doyle, caressing his cheek. He’d looked older than Ray, maybe mid-forties, with short, dark hair speckled lightly throughout with grey. Tall and slim, he was a handsome man, Bodie grudgingly admitted.
He'd considered casually passing by their table this evening to try and get an introduction, but decided that would be too obvious. Besides, what was the point? Sod it. Ray Doyle owed him nothing. All those flirty comments and sultry looks last night were obviously just a bit of amusement for the critic.
Otherwise known as being a prick tease, thought Bodie bitterly.
Anyway, he was better off out of it, he told himself. Considering Doyle was going to write a candid review on his experiences here, it was definitely wise to keep things on a strictly professional footing.
Still feeling utterly miserable despite this prudent rationale, Bodie once again attempted to concentrate on his accountant’s report.
When Doyle first woke there was a blissful moment as he lay comfortably in his bed, before yesterday’s events filtered into his consciousness and his anger started simmering again.
Simon was here on the island.
His ex had been very insistent with his apology the previous night and Doyle had listened with growing fury to his excuses: that he hadn’t realised Doyle wanted monogamy, that in his experience a bit of variety on the side went with the territory of gay relationships.
Incensed by what he was hearing, the only thing preventing Doyle from letting rip was the decorum demanded by his surroundings.
That, and the risk of alerting Bodie to Simon's presence and having to introduce him.
His pride still smarting, Doyle didn’t want to have to explain about his ex to the man who’d dominated his thoughts for the last twenty-four hours. So he hadn't shouted at Simon or punched him again, despite being sorely tempted, but he'd told him exactly and explicitly what he could do with his apology and to fuck off back to England.
Eventually, Simon had left for his own hotel and Doyle, fizzing with anger, had gone for a midnight swim in the rooftop pool. A few lengths beneath the ink-blue night sky and bright stars had helped him cool off, and he’d returned to his suite where his thoughts drifted yet again to Bodie.
He knew the hotelier probably shagged his way through at least half the guests every week, and while Doyle was confident he could get Bodie in the sack and give him a night to remember, he was oddly reluctant to be just one more easy notch on Bodie’s no doubt very large bed post. Not usually adverse to one night stands, this reluctance was a disconcerting feeling.
His thoughts flicked back to Simon and all the pathetic excuses he’d churned out last night. Bastard! Throwing his covers off, Doyle got out of bed and stomped over to the windows. He yanked the curtains open to let in the morning sun, blazing already in a rich blue sky.
He looked down at his cock which despite his bad mood was standing at full mast and demanding attention. “Nothing puts you off, does it?” Doyle muttered.
Right a shower and a wank, then he’d spend the morning trying out the gym. If he was very lucky they’d have a punch bag, because he really felt like beating the shit out of something.
Sadly, there wasn’t a punch bag, but Doyle had sweated his anger out with a strenuous routine in the hi-tech gym, followed by a massage in the luxury spa. His masseur proved to be every bit as good as the hotel claimed, ridding Doyle of all his tension and leaving him floating on a cloud of bliss, with muscles as supple as an eel.
He’d enjoyed a light seafood lunch before taking on Clyde, the hotel’s resident tennis coach for a few games. Clyde was a strapping six foot three with a heart-melting smile and easy manner. He gave Doyle some excellent advice on strengthening his backhand, and was yet further proof of Bodie shrewdly employing the right kind of people to fulfil the hotel’s services.
It was late afternoon when Doyle returned to his suite. After a shower, he gathered his pen and pad and went out to the balcony to write up his notes.
So far, even by his exacting standards, he couldn’t find fault with this hotel and for that he was inexplicably relieved. He strongly suspected that any negative comments in his review would hurt Bodie far more personally than they would professionally, and Doyle found he didn't want to be responsible for that. It was clear the hotel was Bodie’s life, that every tiny aspect had been considered and catered for, to make a stay here the ultimate luxurious experience.
Doyle wondered what his editor would say, if for the first time ever he submitted a highly favourable review. Well, it would be a good marketing point for the magazine: “Shock Review: Raymond Doyle Fails to Find Fault!”
Doyle chuckled to himself… God, he must be going soft! And anyway there was still a day to go, still time to find something wrong with the place, he thought half-heartedly. Otherwise, his only complaint was that he didn’t see the bloody owner nearly enough, and Doyle didn’t think he could put that in his review.
He’d been hoping to bump into Bodie again since yesterday, but the owner was proving elusive.
It didn’t help that Doyle’s libido had gone into overdrive since meeting Bodie, a constant thrum of desire pulsing through his body which no amount of wanks or cold showers seemed to satisfy. And the antidote to his desire was never around. Well, Doyle was nothing if not determined. He’d make sure he saw the proprietor again, tonight with a bit of luck, and for more than just a drink if he had his way.
He put his pen down and leant back in his chair. The table on his balcony provided the ideal place for writing; it was quiet, private and comfortable, with the added bonus of being a perfect sun trap for building up his tan.
The only thing missing was his typewriter. Perhaps he could ask Bodie to provide one... well the hotelier had said to let him know if he wanted anything, and it would be a good excuse to speak to him and arrange to meet him tonight.
He was just planning what to say, when he heard the phone ring. His heart speeded up at the prospect it might be Bodie, and he rushed inside to answer it.
Hearing Simon’s voice, Doyle felt his blood pressure start to rise. “What do you want?” he demanded.
“I thought perhaps we could meet for dinner,” said Simon.
“Didn’t you hear a word I said last night? I’m not interested!” Doyle blasted.
“Listen, Ray, we were good together, give us another chance. Let me prove how much I love you.”
“Forget it!” said Doyle furiously. “We’re finished! Just go back to London!”
“I don’t want you here! Is that clear enough?” Doyle slammed the receiver down, infuriated.
Perhaps he could mention it to Bodie, get Reception to block any calls from Simon and make sure he was barred from the hotel’s premises.
He thought about how he could explain it: Yeah, it’s my ex, you see, he keeps telling me he loves me and wants me back. Can you keep him away? Doyle shook his head, amused despite himself. Bodie and his staff had more important things to worry about than annoying ex-boyfriends.
And so did Doyle. He had a hotel owner to find and seduce. With that thought, he headed for the shower.
Doyle woke under the same cloud of disappointment he’d gone to sleep under. He hadn’t seen Bodie last night and today was his last full day on the island. Time was running out.
He’d wandered the hotel all last evening, restlessly moving from bar to terrace to lounge to foyer, but to no avail. In the end he’d even asked at reception, oh, so very casually, of course, if Bodie happened to be around. But the receptionist couldn’t (or wouldn’t) say where Mr Bodie was, and Doyle firmly declined her offer to leave him a message.
Doyle didn’t want to examine it too closely, afraid it might vanish like a plume of smoke if he poked it, but he’d felt something between them... something he couldn’t ignore. And he was sure Bodie had felt it too.
Just his luck that the possible man of his dreams lived on a different bloody continent to him.
Well, the answer was simple, wasn’t it? He’d extend his stay for another week, make sure he tracked down the elusive Mr Bodie and see what developed. If nothing else, it would give him an opportunity to start on his novel.
After all, he needed a holiday, he casually told himself. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been away purely for his own pleasure, rather than for work. He usually got itchy feet after a few days anywhere, but here… well, he could do a lot worse than spend longer here.
And with any luck, there would be the added bonus of spending time with the Greek god.
Reception were most accommodating and told Doyle it would be a pleasure to have him stay for longer. They took care of rearranging his flights, and offered the services of a personal shopper for any extra clothes or toiletries he might require.
Doyle was highly impressed with the calm and efficient way the hotel handled the situation. He knew beneath the unruffled façade it was a huge inconvenience for them and would involve a lot of juggling, but that they wouldn't dare refuse the esteemed critic.
He grinned to himself, his fearsome reputation could come in very handy.
With an extra week booked, Doyle was happily crossing the foyer when he saw the object of his desire making his way briskly towards the lifts. His joy at finally seeing the proprietor again was spoiled slightly, however, when he noticed Bodie’s long-legged strides were being matched by a handsome, blond, young man close beside him. Doyle mentally shook himself, he had no right to be jealous... but they looked good together, the blond man glancing at Bodie as he spoke, arms brushing as they strode along.
Doyle’s consternation then shifted up a gear when, despite passing fairly near to Doyle, Bodie didn't even spare him a glance.
Christ, he must be losing his touch. Well, now was as good a time as any to remind Bodie of their rapport, and let him know about his extended stay. “Morning,” he called cheerfully after the broad, retreating back and watched as Bodie stopped, paused and slowly turned round.
“Mr Doyle, good morning,” Bodie replied, though he didn’t retrace his steps back towards Doyle.
Unwilling to conduct their conversation fifteen feet apart, Doyle closed the distance between them, keeping his gaze hungrily on Bodie - who was looking delicious in tight, cream trousers and a pale blue linen jacket - while pointedly ignoring Blondie.
Bodie looked slightly alarmed as he approached. “I trust you’re finding everything to your satisfaction?” he asked.
Ah, so he was worrying about the review. “You’ll have to wait and see, won’t you?” said Doyle with a playful smile.
But Bodie didn’t return the smile with a quip about the superiority of his hotel, as Doyle had expected. Instead, he nodded his acceptance and said, “Yes, of course. I’ll look forward to reading about it. Enjoy the rest of your day,” and with a curt smile he strode off, with Blondie sticking to his side like a bloody overgrown lab.
Bewildered, Doyle watched as they disappeared into one of the lifts, Bodie carefully keeping his gaze away from the foyer - and therefore Doyle - as the doors closed.
Still staring at the lift in disbelief, Doyle wondered if he was imagining things. Because replaying the last few minutes in his head, he might be forgiven for thinking the hotel owner had been deliberately trying to avoid him… and surely Bodie wouldn’t do that. Would he?
Feeling more rattled than he should by this, Doyle distractedly strolled outside to the terrace where he ordered a coffee.
He sat at a table, sipping his beverage and staring blindly at the ocean view. When he thought about their first wonderful evening together, it was impossible to conceive that Bodie would be trying to avoid him. He’d even been the one to suggest they get together again!
Fifteen minutes later, still pondering Bodie’s behaviour, he spotted the man himself again, inside the bar. He was without his lap dog this time, and talking to one of the barmen.
Right then, now was Doyle’s chance. He’d go and ask Bodie to join him for a drink this evening. He could always pretend he wanted some background on the hotel for his review, if he needed an excuse.
Draining his cup, Doyle got up and started to make his way towards the bar. But when he reached the doorway, Bodie appeared to finish his conversation and abruptly turned on his heel and headed off in the opposite direction.
“Can I get you anything, Mr Doyle?” the barman politely asked.
Doyle just shook his head, eyes narrowing as he watched Bodie’s retreating figure. He could hardly believe it, but it seemed Bodie was definitely bloody avoiding him.
He bristled at the thought. He was there to review Bodie’s precious fucking hotel, how dare Bodie avoid him!
Fuming, he went back to his suite, a review which included cockroaches, food poisoning and dirty linen running through his head.
Lying dejectedly on the sofa in his suite staring at the ceiling, Doyle made himself consider Bodie’s behaviour more rationally.
The Grand was one of the best hotels in the world, and the credit for this had to go to Bodie. He was clearly a workaholic and running his hotel obviously took precedence over social niceties. It was ridiculous, Doyle told himself, to think the proprietor had been trying to avoid him, when he’d probably just been distracted by some urgent business.
Doyle tried and failed to ignore the niggle of doubt he still had, despite this theory. Well, he’d just have to put it to the test, wouldn’t he?
He looked at his watch. Time to shower, shave and get changed, and then have an early dinner in the restaurant.
Tonight he was determined to catch sight of Bodie again, and spend some time with him if it bloody killed him.
Bodie was in a foul mood. He’d spent the whole day trying not to think about bloody Raymond Doyle, and as if that wasn’t difficult enough, it seemed the man kept popping up wherever Bodie went.
The first time, while he was crossing reception with Dan, Bodie had spotted Doyle and just managed to divert their direction enough to pretend he hadn’t noticed him. Or so he’d hoped. But then Doyle had called out to him, making it impossible for Bodie to ignore him. He looked fucking gorgeous, too, wearing those tight, white jeans and a yellow T-shirt. And the look in his eyes as he’d walked up to Bodie...
But all Bodie could think about was how Doyle had led him on, his resentment at Doyle’s deceit making him curt and aloof. Under different circumstances Bodie would’ve loved to return the flirtatious smiles and devouring looks, but not when he was just being used to amuse Doyle while his bloody boyfriend wasn’t about.
In the privacy of the lift, Dan had expressed his disapproval at Bodie’s brusqueness, suggesting that perhaps his boss should make more of an effort with the critic.
Oh, if only Dan knew! Given half a chance Bodie would make every bloody effort with the critic, and then some!
But of course he couldn’t confide to his assistant that he’d been captivated by Doyle, that his stomach did somersaults every time he saw him – that he’d even stupidly thought there might be something special between them! - only to discover he’d been led up the garden path and Doyle had a boyfriend. Nor could he divulge he had to fight the urge to grab Doyle and ravish him whenever he saw him.
That urge had been tested yet again shortly afterwards in the bar. Bodie had been discussing the latest cricket score with Rick, the barman, when out of the corner of his eye he noticed a figure outside making its way towards them. Immediately recognising the slinky strut, Bodie had abruptly ended the conversation and escaped to the kitchen.
And then this evening he’d seen Doyle dining alone in the restaurant, which meant Bodie was once again confined to his office if he wanted to avoid inflaming this ridiculous crush he'd developed on the critic.
Bodie briefly wondered why the boyfriend wasn’t eating with Doyle... maybe they’d had another row, or perhaps he only joined Doyle when the critic was off duty.
Whatever the reason, Bodie decided the safest bet was to just stay in his office and avoid seeing Ray Doyle. Why torment himself?
He’d been informed earlier that Doyle had extended his stay for a further seven nights. Not only did that mean carefully rearranging some of their other reservations, but worse still it guaranteed that Bodie’s personal anguish was going to last at least another week. Another week of walking around with a permanent semi.
Bodie wasn’t sure if it was a good sign or not that Doyle was staying on for longer. Was it because he liked it here or, as Bodie suspected, because he wanted more time to find complaints for his review?
Bodie leaned back in his office chair with a sigh, and gazed out of the huge windows. The night-time view was almost as beautiful as during the day, with the pool and gardens artfully lit, and out at sea the yachts glinted as they rocked gently on the waves.
Bodie’s treacherous thoughts imagined him on one of those yachts with Doyle, the two of them alone and using that rocking motion to maximum effect.
Doyle lingered over his dinner for more than two hours in the hope of spotting Bodie. It was no hardship, the meal was exquisite, but his disappointment grew as the minutes ticked by with no sign of the proprietor.
Doyle then moved to the lounge bar where he half-heartedly chatted with other guests over several large glasses of wine, while all the time looking out for Bodie. Even the attentions of a stunning brunette couldn’t distract him from his quarry.
After another fruitless hour and with his patience wearing ever thinner, Doyle started to get annoyed. He looked at his watch: ten-thirty p.m.. He’d bet his reputation that Bodie was in the hotel somewhere… probably holed up in his office.
Bolstered by alcohol and impatience, Doyle decided he’d had enough of this waiting game. If the mountain wouldn’t come to Muhammad...
Making his excuses to his fellow drinkers in the bar, he marched out to the foyer and headed purposefully through a doorway with a ‘No Entry’ sign. Determined to find Bodie, he stalked down a corridor, passed through an empty outer office – probably Blondie’s, he thought viciously - and barged through a closed door marked ‘Private’.
There he found Bodie sitting with his back to the door, gazing at the view out of the window. Doyle’s temper flared at the vision, an irrational anger rising up inside him that Bodie was lazing around in his fucking office, when he could have been spending precious time with him!
Turning at the unexpected intrusion, Bodie’s eyes widened in shock. Startled, he stood up. “Mr Doyle… can I help you?”
“Not interrupting anything, am I?” Doyle asked sarcastically. “I can see how busy you are,” he sneered.
Bodie quickly recovered his composure, his expression becoming cold and remote. “Of course not. My door’s always open to you,” he replied curtly. “Even when it’s closed, evidently.”
The brusque response only served to annoy Doyle more and he took a look around Bodie’s office, taking in the sleek, understated furniture, which contrasted effectively with a bright abstract painting of The Grand hanging on one of the walls. Doyle noticed the famous signature in the bottom corner. Flash git.
“Nice,” he said, with a nod at the painting. “You’re obviously doing all right if you can afford a commission off him.”
“It was a gift from the artist when he stayed here,” Bodie said, his voice clipped.
Yeah, I just bet it was, thought Doyle with a stab of jealousy, wondering what else the dynamic young artist gave Bodie while he was here. The painter was almost as famous for his sexual exploits as his valuable artwork. “A gift? Very generous of him. It certainly brightens the place up,” Doyle said.
“I wasn’t aware private quarters were usually part of your reviews,” Bodie said pointedly, his jaw clenching.
He was standing stiffly behind his desk, tension etched on his face, and Doyle suddenly hated himself for being the cause of it. The easy, flirty rapport they’d previously shared had vanished, and now the air bristled angrily between them as they stood facing one another.
OK, so it was probably overly optimistic of Doyle to hope his surprise appearance might have compelled Bodie to grab him across the desk, kiss him passionately and confess to have been dying to do that since the moment they first met. But if he’d hoped for a slightly warmer reception than the annoyance currently radiating from the proprietor, then he shouldn’t have got his knickers in a twist and burst in here spoiling for a fight and making sarky comments.
Wishing he could go back out and come back in again, he gave an apologetic smile. “They’re not. But I hoped you wouldn’t mind me dropping in. Thought perhaps we could have that drink you suggested,” he said, in a conciliatory tone.
“I’m afraid I’ve got rather a lot of work on tonight,” Bodie said briskly, gesturing to the papers scattered haphazardly across his desk.
With his olive branch so tersely rejected, Doyle felt any conciliation start to evaporate. So the moody bugger wasn’t going to let him off the hook that easily? Well, Doyle wasn’t going to beg his forgiveness. Not yet, anyway.
“I suppose you know I’m staying an extra week?” he said, with more than a hint of belligerence. “Hope it doesn't cause you too much trouble?” he added, with an insincere smile.
“Of course not, no trouble at all,” Bodie lied smoothly. “We’re delighted you’ll be with us for longer,” he said, sounding only marginally more delighted than someone who’d just been told they needed a root canal. “Perhaps you'll be able to explore the island a bit more during your stay, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.”
“I’m sure I won’t, that’s a good idea. Be nice to have someone show me round, though… someone who knows the place and can tell me a bit about it?” Doyle looked expectantly at Bodie.
“No problem, I'll ask the concierge to arrange a guide for you.” Bodie sat down at his desk and picked up the phone. “When would suit you?” he asked, a mask of polite enquiry on his face.
Jesus, he really was determined to make Doyle work for this, wasn’t he.
Doyle leant flat-palmed on the desk, took the phone out of Bodie’s hand and put it firmly back in its cradle. He looked deeply into Bodie eyes. “Perhaps you'd do the honours,” he said in what he hoped was an irresistibly masterful and seductive manner. “You know, being the boss and all that, who better to give me a private tour. How about tomorrow?”
The rigidly polite mask slipped to reveal a hunted expression. Bodie looked like a cornered animal desperate to escape. Not the reaction Doyle wanted.
Crushed, he realised he must’ve got it all wrong, that Bodie wasn’t just annoyed at him bursting into his office uninvited, he just wasn’t interested in him. Doyle felt like he’d been punched in the gut. “Forget it,” he snapped, turning to leave.
“No, wait..!” Bodie hesitated as Doyle turned back to him and for a moment the hotelier looked oddly helpless before he took a breath and said earnestly, “Sorry, you just caught me by surprise.” His expression softened as he spoke. “I'd be happy to show you around. Honestly, it would be my pleasure.”
Ready to tell him to stick it, Doyle was swayed by the sincerity on Bodie’s face. Plus he looked bloody gorgeous. Fuck knows why he was blowing hot and cold and back again, but Doyle was reassured to see that he hadn’t got it wrong, after all. There was no mistaking the interest in Bodie’s eyes now, the way he was looking at him.
“Right. I’ll meet you tomorrow morning in the foyer at ten,” Doyle said, knowing it was unreasonable to expect Bodie to drop everything at such short notice, but deciding the hotelier deserved it for messing him about.
As though reading Doyle’s thoughts, Bodie smiled and nodded. “I’ll look forward to it,” he said. “Oh, and bring your swimming trunks.”
Doyle raised his eyebrows. “That sounds promising,” he said approvingly. And turning on his heel he sauntered out of the office, confident that Bodie’s gaze was now admiring a very different view.
“Look,” said Doyle, “let’s just ignore the whole hotel-owner, hotel-critic thing. I don't want you spending the day deferring to everything I say, for fear of retribution in my review. Right?”
Bodie smiled, keeping his eyes on the road. “I’m not really known for my deferring nature, but yeah, I take your point.”
They were driving along in Bodie's jeep and Bodie, in white shorts and a khaki T-shirt, was more than a little distracting. From beneath his sunglasses Doyle kept stealing glances at the tanned thigh muscles flexing with every change of gear, and the large, capable hands on the steering wheel.
"Speaking of your review,” Bodie said casually, “don’t suppose there’s any chance I’ll get a sneak preview, is there? You know, give me a bit of time to prepare my defence?”
Doyle laughed. “No chance at all,” he said firmly. “But for what it’s worth, I don’t think you’ve got much to worry about.”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to give us ten out of ten?” Bodie said. “You’ve got your reputation to think of, after all.”
“Forget it, mate, you’re getting nothing out of me,” Doyle replied, amused. “You’ll have to wait and read it with everyone else.”
“Cruel,” said Bodie without heat.
“Where are you taking me today?” asked Doyle.
“Thought we’d start off in the Old Town. Have you been there yet?”
Doyle shook his head. “Nope, heard it’s worth a visit, though.”
“Yeah, it is, it’s like the heart of the island. We’ll have a bit of culture there this morning, and then have a bit of leisure this afternoon,” said Bodie. “You hungry?”
“Starving,” Doyle replied.
“Good. I know a little place that does the most fantastic breakfast,” said Bodie.
“What, better than The Grand?” asked Doyle, mock aghast.
Bodie grinned. “Never! Just different,” he said. “A bit more rustic.”
The Old Town sat beneath the crumbling grandeur of an old fort, its maze of cobble-stoned lanes filled with shops and restaurants squeezed in amongst grand old buildings. Doyle was instantly charmed, as much by the town’s historic beauty as the unmistakable pride in Bodie’s voice as he talked about its past.
Strolling along the cobbles with Bodie, Doyle felt a thrill of pleasure to be with this beautiful man and sharing this time with him. Their easy rapport had come straight back, he was relieved to find, an immediately comfortable companionship between them.
Breakfast was in a little cafe off the plaza and certainly lived up to expectations, the owner greeting Bodie enthusiastically and serving up a delicious selection of coconut French toast and orange scented waffles, hot off the griddle. These were accompanied by syrups and tropical fruits, and the best coffee Doyle had ever tasted.
There was a slight tussle over who would pay the bill, Bodie grudgingly backing down when Doyle dug his heels in. The café owner then bade Bodie a long and heartfelt farewell as they left.
It became something of a pattern as Bodie showed Doyle around, their progress impeded as every other shop keeper came out to cheerfully greet Bodie like a long lost brother, and welcoming Doyle warmly when the hotelier introduced him.
“Quite the Mr Popular, aren’t you?” remarked Doyle, after yet another round of handshakes and hearty back slaps.
“We’re a very friendly island,” said Bodie loftily. “Thought you’d have known that by now.”
“Yeah, I’m finding out,” said Doyle dryly.
“Make sure you put it in your review,” said Bodie.
Doyle rolled his eyes.
As the morning passed the town became busier and hotter, a horde of day-trippers from a cruise ship spilling into the plaza for lunch, as the sun rose high in the sky.
“How about I show you somewhere a little quieter?” suggested Bodie, as they wandered down from a tour of the fort.
“Yeah, somewhere we can sit down for a bit,” suggested Doyle, taking another photo of the plaza. He’d already used up nearly a roll of film, happily managing to furtively get quite a few of Bodie too, and objecting loudly when Bodie wanted to get a photo of him by a huge cannon at the fort. Secretly though he’d liked it, enjoyed posing for Bodie, feeling like they were a couple. “You must get really pissed off with all these tourists,” observed Doyle, eyeing the crowded square.
Bodie laughed. “They’re our bread and butter, mate. We need them.”
“Yeah, I know that, but don’t you sometimes wish you could just have the place to yourself?”
“Well, luckily I know where to go to avoid them,” said Bodie with a smile. “Which is where we’re going now.”
“Oh yeah, and where’s that, then?” asked Doyle.
“Wait and see,” said Bodie.
“Oh, it’s like that, is it?” laughed Doyle. “Better be worth it!”
Back in Bodie’s jeep they drove for twenty minutes across the island. Gradually the road they were on got narrower and narrower, until they turned onto a single dirt track which ran through a forest, its trees shading them from the heat of the day. They rounded a bend and suddenly there was bright sunshine up ahead where the trees opened onto a small, secluded lagoon, the water glittering like it was filled with aquamarines.
Bodie pulled up at the edge of the forest.
“Wow,” Doyle murmured in awe, watching the sweep of azure waves lapping gently onto the white sand of this palm-fringed, private paradise. He grabbed his camera and took a photo.
Bodie smiled. “I take it you approve,” he said, looking very pleased with Doyle’s reaction. He went round to the back of the jeep. “This side of the coastline’s protected by the hills, so it’s always calm.” He pulled out towels and a hefty bag. “I’ve brought snorkels and fins,” he said with a grin. “Wait until you see what it’s like down there, it’ll blow you away.”
Doyle didn’t doubt it, he was fairly blown away already on this side of the water, and as an experienced diver he looked forward to exploring the under-water world, too.
“The other side of the island’s more rugged, much windier,” Bodie was saying now. “Not so good for snorkelling, but it’s great for surfing. Come on.”
He led them down the soft sand towards the sparkling water, dropped the bag, and chucked a towel towards Doyle. “There you go, mate.”
They both laid out their towels and stripped down to their swimming trunks.
Pushing his sunglasses on top of his head, Bodie lay down with a satisfied sigh. “Haven't done this for ages, good idea this.”
“Judging by that tan of yours, you spend most days doing this,” Doyle retorted, lying on his side, propped up on one arm.
“Chance would be a fine thing,” Bodie said, closing his eyes.
“Oh yeah, I forgot what a terribly hard life you have here…”
Bodie just smiled. His profile was so beautiful it should’ve been carved in stone... or committed to canvas, maybe. Not just his face either, Doyle thought, eyeing the near-perfect body; golden brown skin over a powerful physique, a scattering of dark hair across his chest and paving a path down his stomach, disappearing tauntingly beneath very generously filled silky, black trunks.
Doyle turned his gaze out to the sea. “You know, I might have to put in a complaint about you,” he remarked mildly, taking off his sunglasses to better admire the view. “You’re meant to be my guide. Can’t give up halfway through the day and go to sleep… you should be regaling me with interesting facts and information.”
Bodie briefly cracked open one eye. “I’m letting you absorb the beauty of the place. Residents-only this little gem, don’t share it with tourists usually, so count yourself lucky.”
“Can’t argue with that, I suppose,” conceded Doyle, “but you could at least try and stay awake. A bloke might get a complex.”
Bodie grinned. “It’s not a slur on your scintillating company, but I’ve been up since six and didn’t get to bed until late,” he said, with a timely yawn. “Some of us have to work for a living, you know.”
“Should get to bed earlier then, shouldn’t you?” Doyle said, with a suggestive smile.
Bodie looked at him and Doyle held his gaze, felt his heart speed up as the moment stretched, the air sizzling with erotic promise, the strong sexual attraction flowing sharply between them…
Bodie looked away. “Anyway, it’s your own fault for insisting I show you round,” he said. “You could’ve had a proper guide, someone with experience.”
“Oh, I’m quite sure you’ve got all the experience I need,” Doyle replied huskily. “I don’t want anyone else.”
Bodie sat up, not looking at him. “You know what,” he said briskly, “better put some of this on.” He rummaged in his bag and pulled out a bottle of suntan lotion, squeezing some into his palm before passing it to Doyle.
Doyle watched for a few moments as Bodie rubbed the lotion over his chest and stomach, wishing it was his hands roaming freely over that body. He briefly wondered if he’d just imagined that moment between them. No, he hadn’t imagined it. He’d felt it, just as Bodie had. But for some reason the stupid sod was trying to avoid the inevitable. Perhaps he was worried it might end up in Doyle’s review.
He chucked the sun lotion back to Bodie. “Do my back, will you?” he said, swivelling over.
Bodie hesitated before opening the bottle and pouring some over Doyle’s back.
Head resting on folded arms, Doyle closed his eyes as Bodie’s hands touched him for the first time, gliding like satin over his skin. Almost tentatively, the lotion was smoothed up and across Doyle’s shoulders, down the sides, and along the base of his back... back and forth... fingertips running gently just beneath the fabric of his trunks, causing a soft, sweet tingle in Doyle’s groin… a lick of desire spreading up his body, through his veins, making Doyle sigh with pleasure at the sensation…
And abruptly Bodie’s touch was gone.
Doyle opened his eyes to see Bodie briskly putting the cap on the bottle and lying back down on his towel, his arousal clearly delineated under the hard-working black trunks.
Silly bastard, Doyle thought fondly, how much longer was he going to try and fight this?
Not unaware of his appeal, Doyle was pretty sure that resistance was futile.
His body tingling with lust Doyle propped himself up on his side, knowing Bodie would see that he too was semi-hard. “That felt nice, you touching me,” he said, giving Bodie the benefit of his most sultry smile. “I’d like to see what else those hands can do…”
Bodie looked at him warily. He had that hunted look Doyle had seen in his office last night. “Are you flirting with me?” he asked.
“Well, I hope I’m doing more than that,” Doyle replied honestly.
“Oh, I see,” said Bodie with a reluctant laugh. “So, when you said it’d take more than a drink to bribe you...?”
Doyle pretended to consider it. “Now there’s an idea,” he said. “But no, this is off the record. Just between you and me.” With his eyes locked on Bodie’s, he slowly, very slowly, leaned over until his mouth hovered a mere breath away, then he pressed his lips in a gentle kiss against Bodie’s. “If that’s OK with you, of course,” he said huskily.
Bodie just gazed at him a moment, then his hand snaked up through Doyle’s hair and Doyle was pulled back down into a kiss that was hard and urgent as Bodie’s mouth opened to him.
It was like an electric charge, desire blazing through him like liquid ecstasy.
Without breaking the kiss Doyle slid on top of Bodie, feeling the other man’s hardness mirroring his own. It was almost too much… to finally have Bodie, to be able to kiss and touch him… Doyle felt possessed, his body taken over by a need he couldn’t control.
It didn’t last long. Both of them thrusting urgently against one another, with bruising kisses and hands gripping firmly they erupted almost together, both crying out.
Stunned by the force of his climax, Doyle lay dizzy and panting, before carefully moving to lie beside Bodie.
He was still floating on a cloud of satiated bliss when Bodie spoke. “You were right,” the hotelier said breathlessly. “That was definitely more than flirting.”
“You complaining?” murmured Doyle.
“What do you think?” said Bodie, smiling. “A bit surprised, perhaps, but no, no complaints.”
“Surprised?” Doyle looked at him in disbelief. “Oh yeah, must be a big surprise. With your looks you never get people coming onto you, do you?”
Bodie laughed. “Not caustic critics with terrifying reputations, I don’t,” he said.
“Ah, I see,” said Doyle amused. “So I wasn’t what you were expecting, then?”
“Yeah, you could say that,” Bodie agreed.
Doyle grinned. Unless he was very much mistaken, this was going to be a bloody good week...
“Can I ask you something?” said Bodie.
“I’m still not telling you what’s in my review,” Doyle retorted.
“No, not about that. Who was that man in the bar with you the other night?” Bodie asked.
The question was so unexpected it took Doyle a moment to realise what Bodie was talking about. Surprised to learn Bodie had seen him with Simon, he was about to tell him to mind his own bloody business, but then decided there was no reason not to be honest. “My ex-boyfriend, Simon. We broke up recently. He followed me out here wanting us to get back together.”
There was a moment’s silence. “Wow… pretty extravagant gesture that,” remarked Bodie.
“Yeah, pretty misguided too. It’s over.”
“He’s gone back to the UK?”
Doyle shrugged. “Not sure, suppose so.” Uneasy with the topic, he sat up. “Anyway, what is this, the third bloody degree?”
Bodie sat up, too. “No, sorry, just curious, that’s all,” he said mildly.
“Right, well,” Doyle looked out at the ocean. “Don’t know about you, but I’m going for a swim.”
Bodie grinned. “Come on then, race you in.”
And they both jumped up and sprinted towards the clear, turquoise water.
After a very late lunch, taken al fresco at a hillside restaurant where Bodie was once again treated like an old family friend, they drove back with the sun sliding down beyond the sea in a blaze of crimson and orange.
With his elbow resting on the open window, Doyle watched the scenery glide by. There was a fizz of happiness bubbling in his gut, knowing this was the start of something special, however brief. While he was here, Bodie would be his, and he was going to make the most of it.
He slid a glance at Bodie expecting to see some of his own emotions mirrored there, but instead Bodie looked distracted, a slight frown creasing his brow.
“You working tonight?” Doyle asked, assuming that’s what was on Bodie’s mind. The hotelier probably broke out in a rash if he was away from the place too long.
“Yeah. Do you mind if we stop off at mine first, before going back to the hotel? It’s on the way, and I can have a shower and get changed.”
“Yeah, no problem,” Doyle replied, curious to see Bodie’s home.
Expecting something quite grand, Doyle was pleasantly surprised to find it was a relatively modest two-storey villa, hidden behind dense foliage and palm trees. Inside it was spacious and bright, and furnished for comfort rather than style.
Doyle was looking at the titles filling a bookshelf in the living room, when Bodie returned from the kitchen carrying two bottles of beer.
“Where d’you get all these from?” asked Doyle, gesturing to the shelves. “There a WH Smiths round here I don’t know about?”
“Some of them are mine, the older stuff anyway, had them shipped out here from England. The rest have been left by guests.”
“So you nick ‘em all for yourself, do you?” teased Doyle.
“Hardly, I’m the only one who wants them,” Bodie protested, levering the tops off the bottles with an opener. “They’d get chucked out otherwise.”
“Surprised you have time to read books, what with running the best hotel in the world and all that,” Doyle cheekily reminded him.
“It is the best hotel in the world!” Bodie insisted, smiling. “And you’re right, I don’t really have time to read... but one day. Maybe.”
“You don't spend much time here, I suppose?” Doyle said, flopping down on the big, dark blue sofa dominating the room.
“Not really, just sleep here a few hours a night, if I’m lucky,” Bodie said, sitting down beside him and passing him a beer.
Doyle’s hands itched to reach out and touch Bodie, kiss him, explore this new found piece of heaven. But he couldn’t read Bodie, couldn’t read whether his caresses would be welcome.
While Doyle felt like his world had been flipped deliciously upside down by the day they’d had together, he couldn’t be sure the hotelier had been affected the same way. He thought he sensed a slight reticence… And yet Doyle could still feel the imprints of Bodie’s hands, where they'd tightly gripped his buttocks, pulling him hard against his thrusting groin, and his lips still tingled from Bodie’s kisses. There had been no mistaking Bodie’s passion, how much he’d wanted Doyle.
Doyle took a sip of his beer. “Don’t you ever take any time off? Your staff are more than capable, you could leave them to run things now and then, couldn’t you?”
“Took today off, didn’t I?” Bodie said. “But yeah, I prefer to be at the hotel overseeing everything, unless I get a much better offer,” he added, with a waggle of his eyebrows. “So… you’re impressed with the staff, then?” he ventured.
“Don’t give up, do you?” Doyle said, with mock exasperation. “All right, let’s just say I’m pretty impressed with everything, so far. Happy now?”
Bodie sat back, relaxed. “Yeah, knew there was nothing to worry about,” he said airily, taking a leisurely swig of his beer.
“Prat,” Doyle laughed. “How d’you end up here, anyway? It’s not exactly just across the Mersey. That is a Scouse twang I detect, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I grew up in Liverpool,” Bodie said. “Left school and joined a cargo ship, and spent a few happy years sailing to exotic places. Long story short, we had a few days leave at the main port, and me and some of the lads did a bit of island hopping. This place was one of them and I ended up staying.” At Doyle’s raised eyebrows, Bodie pulled a slightly sheepish smile. “OK, there may have been a girl involved and a slight altercation with the Captain, but... well, it turned out all right. I got a job working at the hotel, doing odd jobs for Leevan, the fella who owned it. When Leevan said he wanted to sell, I was managing the day-to-day stuff anyway. Knew I could turn it into something special, could see its potential. My dad died around the same time and left me enough cash to do the place up. And the rest, as they say, is history.”
The way Bodie had transformed the hotel since buying it was impressive. Doyle remembered reading about it when he’d been asked to do the review; Bodie had apparently gambled his inheritance on a complete refurbishment of the building and grounds.
“How about you?” Bodie asked him. “How d’you manage to land yourself a job where you’re permanently on holiday, you jammy sod?”
“Didn’t plan it, just sort of fell into it,” Doyle said, remembering. “I was at art college at the time -”
“Art college? You?” Bodie gave a snort of laughter.
“Yeah, we’re not all bloody philistines, you know,” Doyle said pointedly. “Anyway, I was thinking about joining the police, my dad was a copper, you see, wanted me to follow in his footsteps. I was going on a backpacking holiday with a mate to Greece, and a friend who ran a magazine asked me to write a travel diary. Well, because I was…” He paused, searching for the right words, “… rather forthright, shall we say, about some of the places, it got picked up by a couple of the nationals. That’s when the offers started to come in and it just grew from there. Along with my reputation for being a difficult bastard.” He grinned at Bodie.
“Lucky git!” said Bodie. “Was your old man disappointed you didn’t join the police?”
“A bit... think he was just glad I’d given up the art.”
“Like that, was it?” asked Bodie astutely.
Doyle nodded and drank some of his beer. “Getting a bit tired of it all now, to be honest,” he said, wondering why he was admitting such a thing. “All the travelling, airports, taxis…” He shrugged. “I’d rather be doing something… I dunno, more worthwhile, you know?”
“Oh, but you are!” said Bodie. “You help very rich people decide where to go on their hols. Very worthwhile that.” He raised his bottle in mock salute.
“Yeah, might've known you wouldn’t understand, seeing as you’re in the business of pampering the rich,” remarked Doyle.
“I provide a slice of paradise which doesn’t come cheap,” Bodie acknowledged. “I’m not ashamed of that. I also provide a lot of jobs for the islanders, and I buy from local traders. This island depends on tourism and -”
“Yeah, yeah, all right, I get the picture. You’re like a modern day Robin Hood. Very admirable, mate. Can’t say the same, though, can I, swanning around in luxury hotels…”
“Time for a change?” suggested Bodie.
Doyle shrugged. “Could be…”
“So what takes your fancy?”
Doyle looked at his watch. “Thought you wanted to have a shower and get changed, not ask me twenty bloody questions.”
Bodie raised his hands in surrender. “OK, OK, I’m going.” He stood up and swigged down some of his beer. “Don’t fancy coming with me, do you?” he asked.
Doyle let his gaze sweep leisurely over Bodie as he stood there in his shorts and T-shirt. “All right, you’ve talked me into it,” he said, taking Bodie’s proffered hand.
Bodie sat at his desk gazing dreamily into space. The pile of notes Dan had left for him remained unread, the phone calls he’d missed remained unreturned.
How was he supposed to do any work? Spending the day with Ray Doyle had left him unable to concentrate on anything except when he could see Ray Doyle again.
Single, unattached Ray Doyle, he reminded himself delightedly.
So much for keeping things on a purely professional footing, he thought wryly.
He’d tried to resist when Doyle had started coming onto him at the beach, god knows he’d tried, but he was only human. And afterwards, despite learning the boyfriend was an ex, he’d been inwardly torn between still trying to maintain some distance between them or allowing himself to say fuck it, and to just jump in with both feet.
The latter had eventually won, unsurprisingly.
As a result, the disappointment he’d been carrying around for the last two days had evaporated and he was feeling ridiculously happy. If there was any remaining little niggle about the boyfriend following Doyle out here, he was choosing to ignore it.
His body still echoed with the glorious feel of Doyle pressed against him, hard and heavy… the smoothness of his skin beneath his hands, the electrifying thrust of his hips...
And it wasn’t just a physical attraction, either. He enjoyed talking to Doyle, liked having Doyle in his house, sitting on his sofa, drinking his beer… And it was stupidly important to him that Doyle liked it, too. And not for the sake of his bloody review, either.
But so what if Doyle liked it? Just because the older boyfriend was apparently out of the picture, it wasn’t as if Doyle was going to up sticks and come and live on the island. He travelled all over the world, why would he want to stay here?
For me, Bodie thought, while immediately acknowledging how preposterous that was. Christ, he’d only known the bloke a few days and here he was dreaming about them being shacked up together!
He must be coming down with something… a fever, perhaps, that would explain these ridiculous daydreams and delusions. Bad enough he was mooning over one of the hotel’s guests, let alone wanting more to come of it. Anyone would think he was falling in love!
His stomach did a little flip.
Oh no…. no, no, no… he was not going to fall in love with Raymond Doyle, he told himself firmly, refusing to concede that it might be too late for that particular resolution.
Right, it was time to pull himself together, remember this was just a fling and just enjoy it.
Perhaps he would call Doyle, ask him to meet up later tonight for a drink. No, they’d already spent the whole day together, he didn’t want to seem overly keen. Even if he was. He’d call him tomorrow evening, instead.
Just twenty-four hours to get through.
Bodie didn't have to wait twenty-four hours, as it turned out. The next morning, returning to his office after greeting the arrival of a member of the British Royal family, he was followed by Dan.
Bodie sat down and looked expectantly at his assistant, who was uncharacteristically hovering anxiously in front of his desk.
“Raymond Doyle called,” said Dan. "He wants you to call him back.”
For a moment Bodie wondered why Dan was telling him in person, rather than leaving it on the message pad like he normally would. He had a flash of panic that Dan might know what had happened between him and Doyle, and was going to challenge Bodie about his lack of professionalism.
Dan seemed to interpret the panic as annoyance. “Well, I thought it might be important, a problem of some kind... or he might have a special request.”
“Yes, of course.” Bodie smothered a smile. He would happily oblige Doyle of any special request he might have. And he was relieved Dan seemed unaware of his transgression. “You're right to tell me, I'll call him now.”
He picked up his phone as Dan left, and dialled the extension for Doyle’s suite. It was answered straight away.
“You’ve got my assistant worried,” Bodie said, smiling.
“Oh? How come?”
“He thinks you were calling me to make a complaint. Either that or you have a special request of some kind.”
Doyle chuckled. “And how d’you know I’m not?” he enquired. “Calling to make a complaint, I mean.”
“Well, you seemed happy enough last time I saw you,” said Bodie, remembering their sweet, lingering kisses in the carpark when they’d got back to the hotel last evening. “But if there’s anything you need...?”
“Yeah, there is,” Doyle said. “Get yourself up here. Now.”
Bodie wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he knocked discreetly on the door to Doyle's suite, but it wasn't to be pulled inside and pushed forcefully against the wall.
A strong body pressed up against the length of him, pinning him there, and he was kissed ferociously.
Desire coursing through his veins, he responded in kind and still being kissed he was pulled along to the bedroom where he was shoved back onto the bed.
“Get ‘em off,” Doyle instructed huskily as he stripped off his own T-shirt and jeans, never taking his eyes off Bodie.
The green gaze burned into Bodie, firing his desire even higher as he fumbled to rid himself of his suddenly cumbersome clothes.
Standing naked over him, Doyle had one hand wrapped around his cock. “Fucking beautiful,” he murmured, as Bodie finally freed himself of his trousers and briefs, and lay back.
“So are you,” said Bodie, gazing up at Doyle's finely sculpted physique, at the huge, beautiful cock he was stroking. It was without doubt one of the sexiest sights he had ever seen. “Come here, want to suck you.”
Doyle straddled Bodie’s chest, his hands cupping Bodie's face as Bodie ran his tongue up the length of the cock hovering so tantalisingly above him. Revelling in the intimacy of it, he surrounded the head with his mouth, his tongue dipping into the slit and swirling the helmet. He looked up, watched Doyle watching him as he started sucking up and down the shaft.
“Christ, Bodie, so fucking good,” Doyle whispered, thrusting lightly. “Let me turn round, want to suck you, too,” he said, carefully swivelling around so they could sixty-nine.
Bodie moaned as Doyle's lips slid down his erection in one long glide. He moved his hands to palm Doyle’s buttocks, gently pulling them apart, fingers dancing along the crack. He sucked Doyle deeper into his throat, Doyle’s balls nudging at his nose, the scent intoxicating him. And all the while his own cock was being sucked and licked, teased and tormented by Doyle.
Bodie had fantasised about this… of Doyle naked and hard, urgent with passion, devouring him. But he couldn’t have known those lips would feel like tight, hot silk around him or that those hands would tease him so expertly, driving him higher and higher... Oh god, at this rate he wasn’t going to last long...
He ran a wet finger around the tight muscle and feeling Doyle press back, Bodie slid his finger inside. Doyle’s groan vibrated over the length of Bodie’s cock and he felt his balls tighten. He lightly grazed the sensitive spot, all the while sucking on Doyle, dying to taste him, knowing he was close himself... he continued to finger fuck him, to lavish his cock, and suddenly Doyle stilled with a moan and his cock pulsed, filling Bodie’s mouth with come.
Bodie bucked into the heaven of Doyle’s mouth and erupted…
“Wonder if we’ll ever manage to last more than ten minutes,” Doyle murmured some time later.
“Doubt it,” Bodie replied drowsily, still tingling in the aftermath of orgasm. “Not if that was anything to go by. Anyway, probably just as well. I've got work to do, you know. Haven't got time to lounge about in bed all day,” he said, his contented sprawl belying his words.
“You're accommodating a VIP's special request. That is work,” Doyle pointed out, rolling onto his side and propping himself up on an elbow.
“Yeah, but unfortunately you aren't my only VIP. There's HRH who arrived this morning with a list of demands as long as your arm,” Bodie muttered. “You wouldn’t believe one guest could cause so much extra work.”
“Oh well, don't let me keep you,” Doyle said, his hand running soothingly back and forth across Bodie’s chest. “If you’ve got to go...”
“Maybe I can spare just five more minutes,” Bodie responded, closing his eyes with a sigh of bliss as he luxuriated under Doyle's touch. If he wasn’t careful, he’d start purring any second.
“Yeah, better re-charge your batteries while you can, mate,” agreed Doyle, his thumb brushing lightly over a nipple. “After all, HRH might have the same special request as me.”
Bodie gave a snort of laughter. “I hope not, have you seen her? Anyway, she’s never made a play for me before, so I think I’m safe. Just as well, there’s only so much I’ll do for my guests, even the royal ones.”
“And what about the ones that aren’t past it?” Doyle asked lightly. “Must get more than your fair share of the action?”
Bodie debated momentarily how truthful to be. “Not really,” he replied carefully.
“What? All these bored, rich types, looking for a little holiday fun and you never take advantage?" Doyle persisted, clearly disbelieving.
Bodie shrugged. “Too busy most of the time...”
“Yeah, course you are! And what about Blondie, then? I suppose you're too busy for him, too?”
Bodie looked at him blankly. “Blondie?”
“Your little shadow. Follows you round hanging on your every word,” Doyle said, extending his caresses to Bodie’s stomach.
“Dan? He's my assistant.”
“Assists you with everything, does he?” asked Doyle, a bit too casually.
Bodie tried to keep a straight face. “You wouldn’t be jealous, would you, Ray?”
“Course not!” Doyle denied hotly. “Just wondered how far his assisting duties go, that's all,” he added more mildly.
“He's a friend and a trusted member of my staff. And that’s it.” He frowned at Doyle. “Don't have a very high opinion of me, do you, if you think I fuck my staff?”
“It's not unheard of, you know, goes on all the time,” said Doyle. “And anyway, he's a good looking bloke and obviously interested. You must have a lot of willpower.”
Slightly perturbed by this assertion, Bodie found himself asking, “So you couldn't resist him then, given the chance?”
“Didn't mean it like that, just meant you and him working so closely every day… it’d be easy, wouldn't it?”
“Not for me,” Bodie replied firmly. “I don't sleep with my staff. Or the guests.” At Doyle's raised eyebrows Bodie’s lips twitched. “OK, but you're an exception. Got more than I bargained for a few times in the early days and learnt my lesson. Steered clear of guests mostly since then, it's not worth the hassle.”
Doyle smiled. “So what you doing with me, then?” he enquired.
Bodie brushed his fingers lightly across Doyle’s cheek and just looked at him for a moment. “Couldn’t have steered clear of you if I tried,” he said softly, marvelling at how beautiful Doyle was. “First time I saw you I was hooked.” He grinned as he remembered. “I was in my office at the time. Glanced out the window and there you were diving into the pool.” He ran a hand over Doyle’s tanned shoulder and down his back. “And then after a while you got out of the pool and I got a very nice view of you walking back to your sun lounger, dripping wet. I was so desperate to find out who you were, I had to rifle through the guest list and -”
“Hang on a minute,” Doyle looked down at Bodie with a frown. “You saying you didn’t know who I was?”
“Sorry to dent your ego, mate,” Bodie said, amused, “but I hadn’t a clue.” His hand drifted down to caress Doyle’s hip, enjoying the contrast of white skin there. “But I couldn’t get you out my head.”
“Really?” said Doyle, looking absurdly pleased. “Yeah, well, you had much the same effect on me, as it goes. Mind you, you did a good job of hiding it,” he added, his fingers toying lightly with Bodie’s chest hair. “Thought you were trying to avoid me to begin with… and you were so pissed off and when I came to your office...”
Bodie inwardly winced, wishing he could turn back the clock and reclaim those precious days to spend with Doyle. “Ah, well… I didn’t think you were really interested, thought you were just leading me on,” he admitted reluctantly. “I’d seen you with that other guy and thought you were together.”
Doyle’s eyes widened with amused understanding. “So that’s why you kept blowing hot and cold with me!” he said grinning. “Now who’s the jealous one?”
“No more jealous than you,” Bodie shot back.
“That’s all right then,” said Doyle happily. He lay back down on his side, his fingers finding Bodie’s where they rested on his stomach and intertwining with them. “Will you come back here tonight?” he asked. “When you’ve finished work, I mean? Want to spend the night with you.”
Bodie felt his heart swell with emotion at the simple request. “You just try and stop me,” he said. “Come here…”
He slid an arm around Doyle and pulled him on top of him. He gently cupped his face and pulled him down into a kiss, which quickly became urgent as the passion flared between them again.
Doyle sat on his balcony trying to write, but his head as usual was full of Bodie. As promised, the hotelier had returned to Doyle’s suite last night and what followed had been beyond anything he’d ever known.
Doyle, even in his most modest moments, would say he was a man of the world. As a sexually active adult he’d had more than his fair share of lovers, and having happily indulged in most practices and kinks at one time or another, he thought he’d experienced everything.
But last night had been on a different level to anything before. An almost tangible bond between them that heightened every touch, every sensation, every whispered endearment to almost earth shattering proportions.
His breath caught at the memory.
And then early this morning Bodie had got up, gently disentangling himself from Doyle’s sleepy attempts to hold onto him. He’d rained goodbye kisses on a heavy-lidded Doyle, telling him he was beautiful, before leaving him to sleep on in a rumpled bed which suddenly seemed far too large and empty.
Doyle chucked his pen down and sat back in his chair, knowing he had a soppy great grin on his face. Christ, it must be the heat, it had melted his brain and turned him into a bloody love-sick teenager.
Still, from the things Bodie had been saying, Doyle was fairly sure the feeling was mutual. But it rankled that Bodie wasn’t around more to make the most of their limited time. Doyle missed him when they weren’t together and they only had another five days before he flew home. His stomach plummeted at the thought. No, mustn’t think about that, he told himself sternly.
He glanced at his watch. Time for a spot of lunch. Not that he had much of an appetite at the moment, not for food, anyway. But every meal counted when you were a critic, and Doyle planned on making his extended stay contribute towards a comprehensive review.
Perhaps he would drive down to the town and find a nice restaurant, experience some more local hospitality.
He’d much rather have more of Bodie’s personal hospitality, mind… Maybe he could persuade Bodie to take a break for lunch.
He had just decided to ring Bodie to ask for restaurant recommendations and see if he could tempt him away from work for an hour or two, when there was a knock at his door.
Doyle smiled as he went to answer it, his heart skipping a beat in delighted anticipation. Perhaps he wouldn’t have to bother with that phone call after all.
But pulling the door open, he almost slammed it shut again when he saw who was standing there.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” he demanded.
Simon looked amused by his welcome. “Can I come in?”
Deciding that a shouting match couldn’t be held in the doorway, Doyle led him through to the lounge, turned and glared at him. “I’ll ask you again, what the fuck are you doing here?”
“I thought we could sort this all out, now you’ve had a few days to calm down,” said Simon. “I meant what I said the other night. I’ll do whatever it takes to get you back.”
“Save your breath. I meant what I said the other night, too, it’s over!” Doyle frowned as a thought occurred to him. “How did you know this was my suite?” As he asked the question, it crossed his mind that one of the staff had revealed it, but their guests’ privacy was essential to them, they couldn’t maintain their exclusivity without it. That meant there had to be another explanation... one he didn’t like at all. “You’ve been following me, haven’t you?”
“I’ve been worried about you, Ray, that’s all. I just wanted to make sure you were all right.”
“Don’t give me that, I’ve had it up to here with your bullshit! You just can’t accept you’ve been caught out!” Doyle shouted. “Now, I’m telling you for the last time, it’s over, so just fuck off back to England!”
“It’s because of that other man you’re saying this, isn’t it?” Simon replied calmly. “The man who runs this place?” He took a step closer. “Ray, don’t throw it all away over a holiday fling. It’s not worth it.”
Doyle’s blood turned to ice; how the fuck did Simon know about Bodie? For one horrifying moment he thought Simon might’ve seen them at the beach... no, nobody could’ve followed them down that forest track without being noticed.
But he could have been lurking in the foyer that morning, and seen them go off together for the day.
What really got to him was that Simon's accusation held an element of truth. It was because of Bodie he was so adamant things were over between them.
If he’d never met Bodie then maybe, just maybe, he might have considered a reconciliation, if only briefly, and he’d have made Simon jump through a few bloody enormous hoops to prove his contrition. But now there was no question of that. His strength of feeling for Bodie had dissolved anything he’d ever felt for Simon.
The man standing in front of him was almost unrecognisable from the person Doyle had thought he’d known for all those months. He felt nothing but contempt for him.
“I want you to leave, right now!” he seethed. “And I want you off the island, got it?” Doyle was about to physically throw Simon out when the phone went.
Keeping his eyes on Simon, he debated briefly whether to answer it or chuck Simon out first, but the call of the ring won and he went to the table and picked up the receiver.
“It’s me.” Bodie’s cheerful voice greeted him down the line.
“Hi.” Doyle picked up the body of the phone and moved as far across the room as the extension cord would allow, turning his back on Simon.
“How's your day so far?” asked Bodie. “Busy working on that tan and pushing a pen about, are you?”
“You're just jealous,” Doyle replied smugly, keeping his voice low.
“Too right I am,” agreed Bodie. “I could always drop by and give you a hand with the sun lotion though, make sure it's well rubbed in...”
Under different circumstances, Doyle would have actively encouraged the direction the conversation was taking, but not with bloody Simon in his suite. “I think I can manage,” he said lightly. “Maybe later, eh?”
“That's why I called,” said Bodie. “How do you fancy dinner tonight?”
“What d’you have in mind?”
“Thought we could eat at my place,” suggested Bodie.
“Don’t tell me you’re going to cook?” Doyle scoffed.
“Well, that might be pushing it a bit, especially as I have several fully qualified, not to mention award-winning chefs at my disposal.”
Doyle laughed. “Oi, that’s cheating! Can’t say I blame you though,” he conceded. “What time?”
“About nine? I’ll meet you in the foyer.”
“Yeah, nine’s fine, but I’ll drive myself,” said Doyle, thinking he didn’t want to risk Simon making a scene if he saw them together.
“OK. You remember the way?” Bodie asked.
“Yeah, no problem. You’d best get on to the kitchen, sort out our food then.”
“I’ll see what I can do, shall I? See you later.”
“Yeah, see you later.” Doyle put the phone down and turned to Simon. “You still here?” he snarled. “I told you to get out, now move it!”
“Ray, let’s just talk, I’m not going to lose you…”
Doyle marched over and shoved Simon hard. “I said, out!” he shouted, opening the door and pushing him into the corridor.
Leaving a protesting Simon outside, Doyle slammed the door shut and leaned back against it, taking a deep breath.
“Bodie, I've got a call for you.” Dan’s voice came through the intercom. “He won't give his name but he's very insistent. Says it's about Raymond Doyle.”
“OK, put him through.” Curious, Bodie waited for his phone to ring and picked it up. “Hello.”
“Mr Bodie?” asked a man's voice.
“I thought I'd do you a favour,” the voice continued. “Save you any more embarrassment and warn you about your new friend Ray...”
The hairs prickled on the back of Bodie’s neck. “Who is this?” he demanded.
“He gets bored easily, you see, and likes to play games. Take today, when you rang him at lunchtime? You interrupted us. So all the while he was talking to you and arranging to meet, he was looking at me, smiling at me. It adds to his pleasure, provides a little extra frisson and I don’t mind indulging him, every now and then...”
As the man on the phone proceeded to tell Bodie what he had been doing to Doyle while he arranged their meeting for tonight, an instinct was urging Bodie to hang up. But a more perverse part of him was unable to do anything but listen, as the man described how they spent the afternoon in bed.
Finally, Bodie slammed the phone down, his heart racing. He struggled to get his thoughts in order, to try and rationalise what he'd just heard, but he was assaulted with images of Doyle and the older man together.
He knew without doubt he'd been speaking to the man he'd seen before with Ray. Ray's ex. And this so-called ex knew all about Bodie and their dinner plans tonight.
God, what a fucking fool he’d been, believing there was something special between him and Doyle, believing Doyle had felt it too!
Especially after last night, which had been so incredible…
But it had all been meaningless. Just a bit of fun.
Fuck it, they hadn’t made any promises, Bodie reminded himself bitterly. Doyle was free to fuck whoever he wanted and Bodie shouldn’t give a toss what the bastard did. But the constriction in his chest told a very different story.
He needed a drink and time alone to think. He left his office and headed home.
When Bodie opened his front door to him, Doyle immediately sensed something was wrong. This was heightened when he went to kiss Bodie hello, but the hotelier had already turned away and was heading down the hall.
Doyle followed him through to the living room and watched as Bodie dropped untidily down onto his sofa, staring blindly at a football match on the telly.
Unsettled, Doyle stayed standing. “You all right?” he asked. “You seem a bit... distracted?”
Bodie didn’t take his eyes off the television. “I'm fine. How was your day?”
Doyle frowned. “You don’t seem fine... you sure nothing's wrong?”
“What could be wrong?” Bodie snatched up an empty tumbler from the table in front of him, and went over to the drinks cabinet where he poured a large scotch and downed half it. “And you haven't answered my question.” He turned to look at Doyle. “How was your day, Ray?” he asked again, his voice like steel.
Wondering how much Bodie had already had to drink, Doyle found himself losing patience. He marched over to where Bodie stood. “My day was fine. Now, are you going to tell me what the fuck’s wrong?”
Bodie just looked at him, expression darkening, eyes boring into him like lasers.
Frustrated, Doyle glared back at him. “Well if you can’t be bothered to tell me what’s going on, I'm leaving.” He turned to go, but had barely moved a couple of steps when a vice like grip on his arm spun him back round, and he was face to face with a furious Bodie.
“Oh no, you're not running away from this. Now tell me about your day!” Bodie demanded, his face distorted with anger.
Confused by Bodie’s aggression, it took Doyle a moment to reply. “There’s nothing much to tell… I went to the gym in the morning and spent the afternoon writing.”
“That all?” Bodie asked sarcastically. “Nothing else? No visitors?” he spat out.
A trickle of unease ran down Doyle's spine. Surely Bodie didn't know about Simon turning up...?
“Your silence is deafening, Doyle,” Bodie sneered. “Fortunately your boyfriend is a little more chatty. Yeah, he rang me up and took great pleasure in telling me how the two of you spent your afternoon.”
Too stunned to react Doyle stared in disbelief at Bodie, his brain trying to process what Bodie was saying. “Simon rang you?!” He almost wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it. He shook his head. “No,” he said, “it’s not what you think...”
Bodie gave a hollow laugh. “Can't you think of anything more original to say? And you a writer!” He drank his whisky down and refilled the glass. “Yeah, very detailed he was, very graphic about how you’d spent the afternoon fucking. How all the time you were talking to me, you were looking at him while he -”
“Christ, Bodie, you can’t believe that!”
“Why can’t I? He was obviously there in your suite! He heard us on the phone!” Bodie’s anger was barely leashed now and he started pacing.
“He’s lying!” Doyle shouted, the injustice of the accusation firing through him. “Don’t let him do this, Bodie, he’s stirring it up, trying to cause trouble!”
“Oh he’s lying, is he?” Bodie stopped pacing and turned to face him. “So he wasn’t in your suite, then?”
Doyle took a deep breath, tried to control his temper. “Yes, he came to my suite,” he said, fighting to keep his voice calm. “He just turned up wanting to talk… And yeah, he was there when you rang, but then I threw him out. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want him involved in any way with us!” he exclaimed. “Believe it or not, I was trying to protect us from that poisonous bastard, but it looks like I wasted my time, because you believe him over me!”
“He told me how you like to play games. You like the power, don’t you?” Bodie accused. “Give you a buzz did it, being sucked off by someone else while you’re talking to me? You’ve been playing me from the start, haven’t you! Bet you both had a good laugh about it!”
“No! You’re off your head if you think -”
“I’m not the one playing games!”
“Neither am I!” Doyle said fiercely.
“You told me it was over with him!” Bodie said, a flash of anguish on his face beneath the fury. “You told me he’d gone back to England!”
“I thought he had… I didn’t know he was still here!” Doyle protested. “Why do you believe him and not me? Why would I lie?”
“He was in your suite! He knew about me, about us! He knew about tonight! But you never said a fucking word about him to me! Why the fuck should I believe you?”
“Because I thought we had something special!” Doyle shouted, before he could stop himself.
For a split second the anguish was back, Bodie’s expression almost imploring before it was replaced with a sneer. “What’s this then, more of your games? Just get out,” he said, turning away, swaying slightly.
“You stupid bastard, Bodie! This is exactly what he wanted! You must be fucking blind to believe -!”
Bodie whirled around. “Get out, Doyle! Just fucking get out!”
For a moment Doyle just stood, staring at the fury before him. Then without another word he turned and stormed out of Bodie’s house.
So furious he was barely aware of his surroundings, Doyle got into his car and started the engine. Flooring the accelerator he pulled out of the driveway without noticing the oncoming van, until the scream of its horn filled his ears and it was too late.
Friday – Early Hours
Before he even opened his eyes, Doyle knew where he was. The antiseptic smell, the unfamiliar bed, the sense of something not quite right.
He took a moment to assess how he was feeling… nothing too terrible, thankfully. Aside from an overall discomfort, a sore head seemed to be the worst of it. His hand automatically strayed up towards the source of the pain and found a large lump.
He opened his eyes, squinting against the bright ceiling lights.
Tentatively he turned his head to look around the small hospital room, and there in a chair beside his bed was Bodie.
“Ray?” Bodie stretched out a hand to rest lightly on Doyle’s. Despite his tan, his complexion was ashen, worry and fatigue etched over his face beneath the stubble.
Details of their row came flooding back to Doyle, the crushing hurt and anger he’d felt at Bodie’s accusations boiling up inside him. He pulled his hand away, trying to hide the accompanying grimace. “What happened?” he demanded, remembering nothing after Bodie throwing him out.
“There was an accident,” Bodie replied, looking stricken. “A van hit your car… you’ve got concussion.”
Well, that explained the sore head. “How did it happen? Anyone else hurt?” asked Doyle.
“No, the van driver has slight whiplash, otherwise he’s OK. I spoke to him earlier. And I spoke to the police, too. It’s all taken care of.”
“What do you mean, taken care of?” Doyle asked suspiciously, worried there was more going on than Bodie was telling him. If only he could remember… “Was it my fault?”
“I just meant you won’t be bothered by the police or insurers or anything,” said Bodie.
“Was it my fault, Bodie? Tell me!”
“The van driver says you pulled out in front of him,” Bodie explained carefully. “But judging by the impact he must’ve been speeding. There were no witnesses, so you have equal fault. Like I said, it’s all been sorted out, you don’t need to worry.”
Doyle suspected that Bodie was hiding something, that he’d probably paid off the police and van driver to make it all go away. Damage limitation to try and minimise this great big fuck up of a mess with a renowned critic.
“What’s the time?” he asked, wondering how long he’d been out.
Bodie glanced at his watch. “Just after two a.m.. How do you feel?”
“I want to leave.”
Bodie shook his head. “You need to stay here a bit longer, just so they can keep an eye on you.”
The humiliation of Bodie trying to tell him what to do just stoked Doyle’s anger higher. “I said I want to leave!” He started to try and get out of the bed, gritting his teeth as all his wrenched muscles protested.
“Wait, Ray, please… I’ll get the doctor, OK? Just let him check you over first. Please?”
“Well hurry up and get him, then,” said Doyle, lying back down in the bed with what he hoped seemed like reluctance, rather than ill-concealed relief.
Bodie silently got up and left the room. There was a murmur of voices outside for a few minutes, and then a middle-aged man in a suit came into the room, followed by Bodie.
“Mr Doyle, I'm Dr. Roker. How are you feeling?” asked the man, slipping on a pair of glasses and looking at the clipboard he held.
“Fine, I just want to leave.” He needed to get away from here, from Bodie.
The doctor pulled a small torch from his top pocket and checked Doyle’s eyes.
“You have a grade three concussion, but fortunately no skull fracture,” he explained. “However, we need to keep an eye on you a little while longer.” Dr Roker removed his glasses. “I would prefer you to remain here, but if you are determined to leave, Mr Bodie has offered to watch you at his house for the next twenty-four hours.”
“What?” Doyle was about to let them know exactly what he thought of that suggestion, but the doctor spoke first.
“It's either that or stay here, Mr Doyle,” he said, firmly. “It is better that we are cautious, would you not agree?”
His frustration heightened by the pain he felt, Doyle was too exhausted to argue. “All right,” he muttered. “But I want to leave now,” he added, needing to try and regain some control.
“Why not wait until the morning, Mr Doyle,” Dr Roker told him, gently. “Get some more rest.”
Doyle knew he wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep now, but he couldn’t be bothered to fight anymore. So he just closed his eyes to wait, replaying what Simon had done and the row with Bodie over and over in his head.
Arriving home, Bodie said a silent prayer of thanks that all evidence of the accident had been cleared up before their return from the hospital.
The urge to help Doyle out of the car and up to the front door was huge, but Bodie knew it would be rejected and kept his hands firmly by his sides as Doyle made his way into the house.
After a final examination by the doctor, Doyle had been discharged that morning. While he’d dressed in the clean clothes Bodie had brought for him, Bodie had waited outside and taken a brief lesson in head injuries from the doctor.
Since Doyle had emerged from his hospital room, he hadn’t spoken a word to Bodie. He radiated resentment and anger, and Bodie couldn't blame him. The guilt he felt was almost suffocating him. And the sledgehammer of pain currently pounding through his skull was no more than he deserved, a throbbing reminder of how much he’d drunk yesterday.
Usually fully in control, Bodie’s temper rarely got the better of him, but last night it had overwhelmed all other emotions. He’d had several hours to drink and brood over the anonymous phone call, while his mind’s eye assailed him with lurid images.
By the time Doyle had arrived for dinner, common sense and reason had been swamped by jealousy and humiliation. And while Doyle had convincingly protested his innocence, Bodie’s drunken pride wouldn’t concede Doyle might be telling the truth and instead he’d just got angrier.
“Are you hungry?” Bodie asked, as they stood awkwardly in his hall. “Or thirsty? I’ve got orange juice or -”
“Just water,” Doyle snapped. "Where’s the spare room in this place, I want to sleep.”
Bodie could believe it, Doyle looked absolutely shattered. “I’ll show you.” Bodie led him up the stairs and along the landing to one of the bedrooms. He opened the door and let Doyle into the bright, airy room. “I'll just get you that water.”
He jogged back down the stairs to the kitchen, where he pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge. He fished the tablets the doctor had given him from his pocket and looked at the label. Ray wasn't due any more painkillers for a few hours yet, although Bodie could see from the strained expression how much discomfort he was already in. The impact of the collision would have jarred his whole body. The poor bastard probably felt like he’d gone twelve rounds with Muhammad Ali.
He left the tablets on the side and grabbing a glass he took the water up to Doyle, who was sitting on the edge of the bed.
Bodie poured some water. “Here you go.” He passed Doyle the glass and put the bottle on the bedside table. He hovered, wishing he could say or do something to stop Doyle hating him. He longed to put his arms round him and plead forgiveness, but knew it would be futile. Instead he said, “If you want anything else, just shout.”
Getting no response, he crossed the room to the large window and pulled the blind down, before leaving the room.
Watching the desolate figure leave, Doyle hardened his heart, determined to cling to his anger. He wasn’t ready to forgive Bodie, and anger was the only way he could guard against the other emotions vying inside him.
He gingerly undressed, got into bed and closed his eyes. He still had no memory of the accident, but the rest of the night tormented him with its clarity, as he remembered Bodie's fury and accusations.
Oh god, it was all his fault! The moment he saw Simon was here, it should’ve set off alarm bells. The bastard had been so persistent, so adamant in his declarations, Doyle should’ve anticipated what he’d do... especially when he’d revealed he knew about Bodie.
Doyle should’ve made sure Simon had left the island. He could’ve asked Bodie to check, he’d probably have contacts to find out that kind of thing. But Doyle had wanted to handle it himself, without involving Bodie and having to explain everything.
Still, he was surprised how much Bodie’s lack of trust hurt him.
But looking back on last night, it was pretty obvious Bodie hadn’t been thinking straight, that he was already drunk when Doyle arrived. There'd been a hurt desperation about him, shielded by anger and furious words.
Doyle wondered what Simon's next move would be. Would he try to cause more trouble, maybe even try and physically hurt Bodie...?
Cold fear slammed into his gut. He couldn't risk that happening.
The only thing to do was leave, show Simon that there was nothing between him and Bodie.
Tomorrow he’d check out of the hotel, go to the airport and get on the first plane he could, wherever it was going.
Leave the island and Bodie.
Saturday – Early Hours
After taking some painkillers for his punishing headache, Bodie had a shower, pulled on some clean clothes and lay down on his bed.
He checked on a sleeping Doyle every couple of hours as the doctor had advised; a gentle touch to his shoulder which was answered reassuringly with a grunted curse.
The rest of the time Bodie lay dozing fitfully, tormented by memories of his drunken raging, of hearing the crash and rushing outside to find Doyle’s car rammed by a van and Doyle slumped unmoving across the front seats…
The sound of running water in the en suite next door brought Bodie back to the present, and he glanced at his watch. It was the middle of the night, but Ray had been sleeping for hours.
Bodie got up and went and made some tea, before heading to Doyle’s room.
He knocked, waiting for an answer. “Ray? Can I come in?” Still no answer, so he pushed open the door and went in.
The bedside lamp was on and Doyle was sitting up in the bed. The light was casting a deceptively soft glow over his skin, and it was all Bodie could do to stop himself just stand there and gaze at him with painful longing.
Instead, he went and put the tea down on the dressing table. “How are you feeling?” he asked awkwardly.
Doyle didn’t answer, ice green eyes sliding over him accusingly.
Awash with guilt and remorse Bodie looked away, busied himself with pouring the tea. “You haven’t eaten for a while, are you hungry? I can make you something if you want?” Still Doyle didn’t respond, and Bodie took the cup over to Doyle’s bedside. His stomach churned with misery. For once in his life he didn’t know how to make things right. “Look,” he started, “about what happened -”
“Save your breath, I don’t want to hear it,” Doyle snapped and lay down, turning to face the wall.
Bodie sat down on the edge of the bed. “Well I need to say it,” he plunged on, determined to try and explain. “If I could take it all back, I would...” He hesitated, searching for the right words. “I was angry and drunk and I lashed out. I had all these images in my head of you and him. I didn't want to believe him, but he’d obviously been there when I called… And I’d already seen the two of you together, at the pool and then in the bar, and now he was in your suite...!” He stopped a moment, aware his voice was rising. “Why wouldn't you mention it, if there was nothing to hide?” he asked, hearing the edge of desperation in his own voice. “I know I’ve no excuse, but can’t you see how it looked to me?”
For a few moments there was silence and Bodie waited.
Finally Doyle spoke. “Go away, Bodie.”
“Look, you said it yourself, Ray, don't let him do this to us!”
Doyle sat back up, turning to look at Bodie. “It wasn't him,” he said savagely, “it was you!”
Stung by Doyle's words, angered that he was defending his ex-fucking-boyfriend, Bodie got to his feet and glared down at him. “And what would you have done then, Doyle, if it had been the other way round, eh?” he shouted. “If you kept seeing me and my so-called ex together, and then he rang you with details of how we'd spent the afternoon fucking? How would you have felt?”
Doyle flinched and looked away. “Fuck off, Bodie,” he muttered, and with that he lay back down on the bed and closed his eyes in silent dismissal.
Feeling hollow with despair, Bodie left the room.
Somehow, Doyle managed to sleep again, though it was a sleep wracked with disturbing dreams. He woke with the echo of Bodie’s words.
And what would you have done then, Doyle… How would you have felt?
His guts constricted, just as they had last night. Yeah, Bodie was right. It was more than likely Doyle’s own temper might have got the better of him, if he’d been in Bodie’s shoes, his imagination running wild, just as Bodie’s had.
Doyle lay still, listening for any signs that Bodie was up. Silence. The golden light of early morning was seeping around the edges of the blind and he took a moment to work out what day it was. Saturday. His tenth day on the island.
He glanced at the bedside table hoping to find his pills and saw the glass of water. He took a few grateful gulps, then struggled up from the bed, pulled on his clothes and made his way stiffly down the stairs.
He shuffled through to the living room and found Bodie sprawled asleep on the sofa, a cold mug of coffee on the table next to him. He looked vulnerable and troubled, and so fucking beautiful Doyle felt his heart twist with longing. He ached to go over and wrap himself around him, to hold him and soothe away his pain.
Perhaps sensing he was being watched, Bodie stirred and sat up.
He noticed Doyle and ran a hand over his face, embarrassed. “Sorry, fell asleep,” he said needlessly. “How are you feeling?”
He looked awful, despair etched deep into his face. Doyle couldn’t speak, the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat rendering him mute. It was obvious Bodie had barely slept for the last two nights, that he was blaming himself entirely for the accident.
Looking exhausted, Bodie levered himself up and grabbing the mug he headed for the kitchen. “I'll stick the kettle on. D'you want tea or coffee?”
“Coffee.” Doyle followed him into the kitchen and leant against a counter.
He watched silently as Bodie flicked on the kettle and moved about the kitchen, taking out clean mugs and a spoon.
Doyle looked at the clock on the wall – nearly six a.m.. “Where are my pills?”
“On the side there.” Bodie pointed behind Doyle. “You should eat something first, they’re strong. Shouldn’t take them on an empty stomach.”
Ignoring him, Doyle tipped two tablets into his mouth and swallowed.
He watched Bodie spoon coffee into the mugs. “Has Simon been in contact again?” he asked.
“Nope.” Bodie didn’t look up.
Doyle frowned. “Have you seen him at all, hanging around at the hotel or anything?”
“Haven’t been back to the hotel, except to get your clothes, but... he’s not on the island anymore,” Bodie said, pouring the hot water.
“How do you know?” Doyle didn’t hide his surprise.
Bodie carried on stirring the coffee, didn’t answer.
“Tell me, Bodie, how do you know?” Doyle demanded, knowing he wasn’t going to like the answer.
Bodie turned round to face him. “I had a couple of friends advise him to go home,” he said defiantly. “That’s how I know.”
“What?” Doyle exploded. “What did they do to him?”
“Nothing, they didn’t touch him. They just warned him to stay away from you and made sure he left the island.” Bodie went to the fridge and got the milk out.
“Who the fuck do you think you are? How dare you!” said Doyle, furiously.
“I did it for you!”
“You did it for yourself!” Doyle shot back. “Payback for him getting one over on you! You had no fucking right!”
“The guy’s obviously got a screw loose, Doyle, there’s no knowing what he would’ve done next!”
“I know that, and I could’ve dealt with it myself! You had no fucking right to -” Doyle stopped abruptly as a wave of nausea assaulted him. He grabbed the sideboard to steady himself, fighting the impulse to double over.
Bodie’s hand reached out to him, but stopped short of touching him. “Are you all right?” he asked, concerned.
Doyle just nodded, making himself stand up straight, despite the lightness in his head and nausea in his gut.
Bodie studied him a moment. “OK... go and sit down, I'll bring this through.”
For once, Doyle didn’t feel inclined to argue. He went back to the living room and sat on the sofa.
By the time Bodie came in a few minutes later, settling a tray of coffee and some cereal down on the table in front of them, Doyle was perched on the edge of his seat, afraid he might vomit or faint or both, knowing his luck.
Bodie crouched down in front of him, his eyes dark with worry. “Ray, what’s wrong? Don’t you feel well?”
Doyle’s skin prickled with cold sweat. “Think I'm gonna be sick,” he managed, swallowing down the saliva flooding his mouth.
“Those bloody pills,” Bodie muttered. He disappeared before swiftly reappearing with a glass of milk. He sat next to Doyle on the sofa. “Drink some of this.”
Doyle took a few gulps, feeling it fill his stomach.
Bodie took the glass from him. “Now lean forward a bit and put your head down...”
“Just do it.”
Doyle felt a hand on his back as he complied, resting his forearms on his knees.
“Now deep, slow breaths,” Bodie instructed. “In through your nose -”
“- out through your mouth. It works. Now do it.”
The large palm stroked soothingly up and down his spine as he followed Bodie’s instructions, and gradually the nausea abated.
After a couple of minutes Doyle slowly eased himself upright.
“OK?” Bodie asked.
Doyle carefully leaned back into the cushions and closed his eyes. He wanted to erase the last forty-eight hours, to just sit here and drift, to not have to think. Bodie’s presence beside him was like a magnetic force pulling him in. He wanted Bodie so much, it was a physical ache.
“I’m fine,” he muttered eventually, forcing his eyes open. “I can’t stay here,” he said, looking anywhere but at Bodie. “Call me a taxi, I’m going back to the hotel.”
“I’ll take you,” said Bodie.
“I don’t want you to take me,” Doyle said impatiently. “I want a taxi.” He glanced at Bodie and saw the moment his fragile control started to splinter.
“All right, I’ll call you a fucking taxi!” he stormed, standing up. “Can’t bear to be anywhere near me now, right?” He took a long, shaky breath and the anger drained from his face leaving a look of defeat. In a broken voice he said, “I’m sorry. For everything. I’ll call you a cab, then go to the office.”
He trailed out of the room and Doyle heard him on the phone briefly. There was a jangle of keys and he heard the front door open and close.
Doyle stared into space, trying to ignore the knifing pain of loss deep in his chest.
Back at the hotel, Bodie threw himself into catching up on the last two day’s work. He resolved not to leave his office unless he absolutely had to. It was unlikely Doyle would be wandering about the place, but Bodie couldn’t risk bumping into him.
He suspected Doyle would probably go straight to his suite, pack his things and check out. It would take all Bodie’s willpower to stop himself trying to find Doyle and talk to him again. It wasn’t in his nature to give up on something he wanted, but he’d have to accept that he’d well and truly fucked up what would have been the best thing in his life.
Doyle sat in an armchair in his suite, watching his butler glide from room to room efficiently packing his belongings into his suitcase.
The fury that had been an effective shield since the accident, had dispersed as he knew it would, leaving the knot of misery in his gut totally exposed. While Dr Roker’s pills had sufficiently numbed the physical pain, they’d sadly done nothing to ease the far more agonising emotional one.
His fingers tapped restlessly on the armrest. The sooner he got away from here, the sooner he could try and forget about Bodie.
A little voice inside his head kept reminding him that Simon wasn't on the island anymore, there was no longer any risk to Bodie... he didn't have to go...
No, it was too late, surely... he couldn’t stay here, now. But nor could he leave with Bodie still blaming himself. He needed to find him and at least try and make things better between them before he left.
Bodie was signing off invoices when there was a knock at the door.
“Come in,” he called. Assuming it was Dan, Bodie finished the batch he was on before looking up to see Doyle standing in front of his desk. He was in a casually unbuttoned cream shirt, pale trousers and had a guarded air about him. He looked so damned beautiful Bodie couldn’t speak.
“At least I knocked this time,” Doyle said with a ghost of a smile. He waited, but when Bodie still didn’t respond, he said, “If you’re busy…?” and vaguely thumbed back towards the door.
“No…” Bodie found his voice and stood up. “Just catching up on stuff, that’s all.”
“Look," Doyle said, "I’ve been a right bastard. I’m sorry.”
Clear eyes the colour of jadeite looked at Bodie and he almost forgot to breathe. He shook his head. “There’s no need…” he managed.
“Yeah, there is,” said Doyle. “I’m leaving shortly, but I don’t want you thinking I blame you, because I don’t. The accident wasn’t your fault. I was just angry that you didn’t believe me.” He paused, glanced briefly at the floor. “And you’re right, if it had been the other way round, I probably would’ve reacted the same way. I don’t blame you for any of it. And don’t worry about the review. What happened won’t have any bearing on it.”
Bodie looked at him incredulously. “Christ, you can’t think I give a fuck about the review?” he asked, appalled.
Doyle shrugged. “Well, I just wanted to tell you anyway. Actually it’s the best review I’ve ever written. Positively glowing,” he added wryly.
Instead of elation, Bodie felt nothing. The review was meaningless to him. All he could think about was the pain of losing Ray. Unable to come up with a response, he just stood miserably wondering how on earth he’d managed to fuck this up so badly.
“You could look a bit more pleased about it,” Doyle teased with a gentle smile. “You’ve earned it.” Then he walked round the desk to where Bodie stood and with exquisite tenderness kissed him.
Unable to suppress a tiny flicker of hope, Bodie tentatively asked, “Will you stay?”
Doyle slowly shook his head and Bodie felt his heart shatter into a thousand pieces. “We couldn’t even manage a fortnight together,” Doyle said, with a sad smile. “If I stayed any longer, think we might kill each other.”
“No," Bodie whispered. "Only ever love you, if you’d let me.”
A knock on the door interrupted them and Dan came in. “Oh, sorry, am I interrupting?” he asked, taking in the two men on the other side of the desk.
“Yes,” Bodie snapped.
“No,” Doyle said. “I was just going.” And without looking at Bodie, Doyle walked around the desk and out of the office.
Bodie slumped down into his chair.
“Are you all right?” Dan asked him, anxiously.
“No.” Bodie gazed blindly up at the ceiling. “No, I’m not.”
Doyle took a final look around his empty suite and wandered out onto the balcony. With Bodie’s last words to him replaying over and over in his head, he gazed out at the view for the last time.
Fuck, he wished he hadn’t just walked out like that, without saying anything… it must’ve seemed like he was chucking it back in Bodie’s face. But he’d been so surprised...
Bodie loved him.
The thought suffused Doyle with so much warmth and happiness, he felt almost giddy.
Perhaps… they still had a chance…
His heart speeded up at the thought.
Perhaps… he could go back to Bodie’s office now, and say…say…
Oh, fuck it, he’d think of something on the way.
Decision made, he hurried back into his suite and grabbed his key. He opened the door to leave and almost walked straight into Bodie standing on the other side, his expression unreadable.
His heart suddenly hammering in his chest, Doyle slowly took a couple of steps back to let Bodie in and shut the door.
For a few long seconds they just looked at one another, before Bodie broke the silence. “Don’t go,” he said fiercely. “Stay here. Live with me.”
“Live with you? Just like that?” Doyle said, his voice cracking slightly.
“Or,” Bodie went on, “if you want to go back to England, then let me come with you. I’ll sell up and do something else.”
“You’d sell the hotel?” Doyle asked in disbelief.
Bodie nodded. “Yes, if it means I can be with you.”
“But this place means everything to you!”
“You mean more,” said Bodie.
“You’ve only known me a week,” Doyle pointed out, hardly daring to believe what he was hearing.
“Nine days. And it’s long enough to know how I feel. To know I love you.” Bodie's eyes bored into Doyle’s. “And you feel the same,” he said.
“You arrogant bastard!” Doyle declared, half laughing. No matter Bodie might be right…
“Maybe, but with you about to leave, I haven’t got time to fuck about. You going to deny it?” Bodie challenged.
Doyle shrugged. “Well, no, but…”
“Didn’t think so,” Bodie said. “I want you to stay.”
“It’s not that simple,” Doyle protested.
“It is if you want to be with me,” Bodie insisted. “Unless,” he said, suddenly sounding unsure, “there’s something to keep you in England?”
“Oh, only my flat, my work, my family, all my friends…” said Doyle, flippantly. “Nothing important…”
“You can rent your flat out, and work from here,” said Bodie. “And your family can visit. Friends, too… assuming there’s no one in particular, that is?”
Doyle rolled his eyes. “No, there’s no-one else, if that’s what you’re angling to find out,” he said.
Bodie looked relieved.
“What about you,” said Doyle, narrowing his eyes. “You must have a harem or two stashed about the place?”
“Nope, there’s only you,” Bodie happily assured him.
“I see. And what about the locals? Open-minded lot, are they? Happy to have two blokes living together?” Doyle asked, with more than a hint of sarcasm. Christ, was this really happening, was he actually considering this…?
“Mostly they are, yes,” said Bodie. “They’re very loyal to their own here, and I’m lucky they treat me as one of them.”
“Got it all worked out, haven’t you?” said Doyle, struggling to suppress the elation surging through him.
“Not really,” Bodie admitted. “But I’m willing to try and make it work. How about you?”
Doyle managed to refrain from shouting ‘yes’ and instead, trying to keep his face serious he said, “You really think I’m going to chuck in my whole life, and come and live on the other side of the world to be with a mad bastard like you?”
Bodie’s lips twitched. “If you don’t, I will,” he said, slowly closing the distance between them and gently cupping Doyle’s face. “Do anything for you,” he whispered.
And as Doyle watched, Bodie tipped his head and leaned in… and then Bodie’s mouth was on his, Bodie’s lips, soft and full, pressed against his own, while his tongue melded them together in a long, dizzying kiss.
It was Bodie who broke the kiss, gently pulling back to look at Doyle, his eyes raking over Doyle’s face. “So... what do you say?” he asked, his thumb tenderly brushing Doyle’s cheek.
I love you. “You spend all your time working, I’d never see you,” Doyle managed weakly, determined to put up some kind of resistance to this insane idea.
“Not if I can be with you, I wouldn’t,” Bodie responded, slipping his arms around Doyle’s waist.
“I can be an awkward bastard.”
“Me too,” said Bodie, unconcerned.
“I’ve noticed,” Bodie assured him.
“Oi!” Doyle tried to look affronted, but knew he was failing dismally.
Bodie rested his forehead against Doyle’s, his hands sliding lower. “Say yes,” he murmured, his eyes intensely blue and serious.
Doyle strongly suspected he couldn’t have said no if his life depended on it, not with those bloody hypnotic eyes so close to his own... never mind the unmistakable emotion swirling inside him, which was impossible to ignore. He felt any last vestiges of resistance melt away.
“Quite persuasive when you want to be, aren’t you?” he said, striving for nonchalance as Bodie’s groin brushed against his own.
“Do my best,” Bodie admitted, pressing home his advantage. “Just want to be with you, Ray,” he breathed. “Don’t care about anything else.”
“Jesus, Bodie…” Overwhelmed by the love he felt, Doyle pulled him into a tight embrace. “We must both be bloody mad, you know that?” he mumbled against Bodie’s neck, breathing in the scent of him.
“That your eloquent way of saying you’ll stay?” asked Bodie.
“Yeah,” Doyle grinned, feeling his heart soar. “I’ll stay.”
And while he knew it was a wild gamble, with Bodie’s arms wrapped fiercely around him, he also knew it would be the best decision he ever made in his life.