Chapter Ten – No Walking In The Rain
Mike felt good, almost like laughing for no reason. One night sleeping next to Jared, and he was as good as new. His friend was good enough to be rented by the hour or sold in a bottle, and just as he thought that, Mike realized how weird that must have sounded. It was such a good thing that no one could hear his thoughts, or they would have believed him to be an absolute basket case. Jared would have gotten the joke, but Mike still chided himself internally just for thinking something that could be misunderstood.
“Mike, aren’t you in a good mood today?” One of the janitors asked him and offered him a broad smile.
“Yeah, I slept so well.”
“That’s good, that’s good. Young people today, always glued to their phones, they never sleep.”
“I know,” Mike said with a long sigh. “I often do that. Don’t sleep, I mean.”
“So, how did you manage to sleep so well?” The man asked him as he saw about his business. “Just so that you remember and repeat it.”
“I slept with my friend,” Mike said without overthinking.
The janitor straightened up, and Mike bit his lips. Of course, that sounded wrong. But it appeared his verbal blunder wasn’t the reason why the janitor was so serious all of a sudden.
“Good morning, Mr. Armstrong,” the janitor said quickly.
“Good morning, Danners. Do you have everything you need?”
“All here. I’m almost finished on this floor.”
Mike turned in slow motion. He had said the wrong thing, and Ryan had been there to overhear it. Was the universe having an elaborate plot against him?
“Mike,” Ryan said and nodded as he brushed past him without even looking down.
“Ry – Mr. Armstrong,” Mike said automatically.
He needed to bite his tongue. He needed one of those medieval torture devices that sent a rusty nail through the victim’s tongue so that they never spoke again against the regime, the church, planets turning, or who knew what else. This morning, he had a knack not only to think the wrong thing but also to say it out loud.
Guided by nothing but instinct, he took off after Ryan, his sneakers making squeaky sounds on the polished floor. “Mr. Armstrong,” he said in a heartbeat, “I was wondering if you could spare a moment.”
“I’m already late,” Ryan said in a terse voice. “Can it wait?”
Mike could continue to be his usual self. He would say ‘yes’, and then he would spend the entire day, if not the whole week, torturing himself over the misinterpretation of his words. “It would only take a minute,” he insisted.
Ryan stopped and eyed him carefully. “All right. Should I step into your office, then?”
“It’s way down.”
“We’ll take the elevator!” Mike said brightly.
Ryan appeared a bit surprised but followed him to the elevator. Mike could feel sweat coming off all his pores. What was he doing? Was he really stopping his boss from attending some important meeting only because his big mouth had run like a broken mill? Apparently, he was.
Fortunately, the elevator was empty when it stopped. Mike hurried to keep the door and invited Ryan inside. No, he wouldn’t inhale Ryan’s sexy cologne. Holding his breath was impossible, though. Cursing at himself, he followed Ryan inside and closed the door, probably using way too many moves to appear that he was still acting like a normal person.
“Well?” Ryan asked.
Mike was standing with his back at his boss, registering his presence as the elevator began moving smoothly. Everything at their company was top notch. The elevator had soft music in the background, and it smelled great. Well, not as great as Ryan, that was sure.
“I didn’t sleep with Jared!” Mike blurted out.
“What?” Ryan asked, visibly irritated.
“What I said earlier, it’s not true! I mean, I slept at Jared’s house, in his bed, with him, but we only slept.”
The way he said it, it sounded like he was digging his own grave.
Ryan sighed. “Why would I care, Mike? Do you have any idea what this looks like?”
Mike froze. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled.
The elevator stopped, and he got out. He almost slammed the door in Ryan’s face. “Sorry!” He exclaimed. “I had no idea you would get down -“
Ryan’s eyes were menacing as they bore into him. Mike took a few steps back and considered, for a moment, to make a run for the server room and hide there. There was no need to do that because Ryan grabbed his arm and pushed him in that direction.
He could protest. He could ask Ryan what he thought about how that looked like now. But Mike remained silent. His curiosity involved other things. Ryan pushed him through the door to the server room and then closed it behind him.
“Mike,” he said in a tone that brooked no contradiction.
“Yes,” Mike replied in a meek voice.
“Do you want to drive me nuts?”
“No? Then why do you get me in close quarters with you? Do you think I’m some sort of robot once I put a suit on?”
“Is this your usual way of carrying a illegal bahis conversation?”
Ryan let go of his arm and pushed both hands through his hair. “All right.” He appeared to struggle with himself not to burst into … something that Mike had no idea what could be. He didn’t know the guy that well. “About Jared.”
Mike stiffened. “He’s just a friend, I swear.”
“Do you usually sleep with your friends?” Ryan crossed his arms over his chest and looked at him with a quirked eyebrow.
Somehow, that looked a bit amusing. Despite himself, Mike snickered, then he pursed his lips, hoping Ryan hadn’t noticed.
No chance for that. “Something funny?”
“No, just … your eyes … are funny,” Mike managed to say with some difficulty. His tongue was like lead in his mouth. Pissing off his boss, aka his crush, aka the man who kissed like an angel, aka Ryan Armstrong who was now puffing through his nose like a dragon, was a bad idea for starting his morning. Yet, there he was, doing all that.
“Funny? Like funny how?” Ryan moved toward him, cocking his head and quirking that eyebrow even more.
Mike began laughing without controlling himself anymore. Oh, God, he was so going to get fired now. But, suddenly, Ryan started laughing with him. They stared at one another, laughing as they had just seen the funniest show on earth.
Mike managed to gain back his breath. “Ryan, I swear, Jared is just a friend. But when I’m sleeping with him, I sleep so well, that’s all.”
Ryan caught him in his arms. Mike had to look up and strain his neck a little. All right, now things weren’t funny anymore. They were tense, and too much in a good way to be a good thing. “You don’t know me, so let me tell you this one thing. It takes little to make me jealous.”
Mike could swear he was blushing. He had to. His cheeks were on fire, and the tips of his ears were burning. He moved his eyes lower.
“Are you blushing?” Ryan’s voice was deep and had the superpower to send a tsunami of sensations across Mike’s body. The fact that Mike could also feel the other’s hot breath on his face didn’t help either. “So cute.”
Mike looked up now after staring stubbornly at Ryan’s chin. Their eyes connected. Ryan’s eyelids dropped, and Mike wondered why. He wouldn’t be kept in the dark long. Ryan’s lips descended on his like summer rain.
It lasted little, though. Ryan pulled back with a long sigh. “Mike,” he started with regret written all over his handsome face. “You’re truly something. But I need to behave.”
To say that he wasn’t shaken would have been a lie. But Mike struggled to regain his composure. “Sure. I mean, I should, um, behave. Not pull you here first thing in the morning,” he added quickly.
“You didn’t exactly do that.”
Mike exhaled. So, he was off the hook.
“But you did contribute to it,” Ryan added. “I have a business to run. So, stop messing with my head.”
“I’m not,” Mike protested.
“Oh, really? Making me jealous the moment I see you doesn’t count as that?”
“I didn’t want to make you jealous. I didn’t even know you were there.”
“Ah, so you intended to keep it all from me. Your sleeping,” Ryan made air quotes, “with Jared.” Then, he laughed again. “I’m just pulling your leg. I hoped there was an explanation, and thank you for giving it to me.”
“You’re always this polite?”
“I try to. You know, when I’m not awkward and nervous.”
Ryan chuckled and shook his head in mirth. “Have you thought about what I asked you? About this weekend?” The deep dark eyes were hypnotizing. Mike couldn’t tear his eyes off Ryan’s face.
“It’s been everything I kept on doing this entire time,” Mike admitted in all honesty.
Ryan exhaled. “Me too. Let’s see each other there.”
Mike didn’t step down and didn’t protest, as Ryan’s hand cupped his cheek for a brief moment. He had so many questions. Why? What would happen once they met at that company party? Would they dance in front of other people? Most probably not. But what would happen then? That remained the biggest question.
And it would have to wait for an answer until it happened. If he called Jared now, his best friend would tell him to wait and see, without becoming overly anxious and playing out scenarios in his head.
Then he would just focus on work. That would make the crazy thoughts in his mind shut up for a change. Because there was no way, there was absolutely no way Ryan Armstrong could fall in love with him, as Jared had said. Maybe it was a fling; Mike wasn’t sure he could cope with that being true. Ryan had said the opposite; Jared believed there was a chance for romance, hearts beating as one, and all that jazz.
And Mike? Well, he needed to rein in his emotions. If this was how falling in love looked like, it seemed like a pretty dangerous thing. Right now, he wanted nothing but to start dancing around his desk, dreaming of how he would feel, dancing in Ryan’s arms.
On days like this, Jared wasn’t thankful, as usual, illegal bahis siteleri for the silence. His work was partly done in crowds, and partly in absolute solitude, as he focused on postprocessing his photos so that they would become magazine-worthy.
But today, the solitary nature of his passion that fortunately was the way he made a living didn’t cut it for him, for some reason. The number one cause of the restlessness he felt was strongly linked to his love life, or, better said, its peculiarities. He could understand Mike and Ryan being forced by circumstances to keep a low profile for their interactions. Adrian and Edward had their own agreement. Yet, still, he was the one who felt unhappy. Where Mike was hopeful and anxious, and Adrian was cocksure and determined that he would have things happen his way, Jared felt that he was nowhere.
He and Chris didn’t have any reason to hide their relationship, as far as he knew. And Chris, as busy as he was, didn’t belong to the rarefied layers of some sort of aristocracy like Adrian’s sophisticated lover.
It was raining, unnaturally so for the time of the year, and the laziness covering the city with its muddy blanket was getting to him. Jared took a sip from his tea, still not convinced to go back to his computer, and continue the retouching work on his latest batch.
He had never been in a relationship. Everything was new and mind and soul-consuming. He didn’t even need to close his eyes to recall the sensation of Chris’s fingertips tracing invisible trails on his skin.
He was daydreaming on a workday, in no mood to do what he usually loved doing. Jared exhaled and looked through the rain-streaked window. Would it be okay to call Chris? Tell him how much he missed him already?
Physically wise, their relationship was great, beyond outstanding. They fit in bed, or at least that was what Jared hoped it was true on both sides. Yet, it still felt like some strange relationship faux-pas to call Chris out of the blue and ask him to meet. As adventurous as Chris seemed when they were together, in his work, he appeared to be the epitome of seriousness. Disturbing him from his daily routine, which probably included manipulating gazillions of dollars and talking to important people, so important that probably never moved on foot like normal people, was not, definitely not, the right thing to do.
Jared picked up his phone. “Hi,” he said softly, the moment Chris picked up.
“Hi, sexy,” Chris drawled.
Good. That meant he wasn’t caught in an important meeting.
“Do you think we could meet?”
There was a short pause. “Where?”
Always the efficient man.
“I might sound crazy, but I love walking in the rain.”
Jared breathed out. The thrill of anticipation was making his palms sweat. He moved the phone from one ear to the other. “Yes. No.”
Chris’s soft chuckle sent eddies of warms down his spine as if there were lips touching each sensitive spot in their wake. He was in it deep.
“I might sound indecisive, but I’m actually a pretty average person,” Jared joked.
“Nothing about you is average.”
Just the right words. Chris knew what to say to mess up his mind. There was no wonder he was successful in his line of work. Jared frowned for a second. Was Chris successful? His penthouse, expensive clothes, and manners said everything about it, but had Chris ever told him anything about his work?
He was getting worked up over details, once again. That wasn’t important. Their relationship was still too young to include discussions about how their days went; one day, they would get there. The stage they were in involved walks in the rain, in the middle of the workweek.
Jared’s voice went low as he explained to Chris where he would like to meet.
“I’ll see you there,” Chris promised him.
Was he all right in the head to ask for a date out of the blue like that? It was too late for any regrets, and it looked like Chris had agreed to it.
Jared put the cup tea on his desk as he rushed to get dressed. A fraction of an inch was missed, and there was liquid dripping on the wooden floor. Jared cursed and turned to clean up the scene of the crime. His mind was a bit in pieces these days, he thought to himself, as he patted the wet area with tissues. He needed to pay more attention to details.
That didn’t stop him from feeling like a teenager rushing off to his first date. Chris was his first boyfriend. While he often told himself not to believe in fairytales, he hoped Chris to be the one. On his part, he would do all that was necessary to make it happen. And if Chris was busy most of the time, that meant that they only needed to make the best of the hours they had for themselves.
His old umbrella was in a sorry state, but in a place with sunny weather in summers and dry winters, that was to be expected. With a shrug, Jared tucked it under his arm. He had a feeling that he wouldn’t make much use of it, anyway.
Not a soul in sight, as he had suspected, Jared canlı bahis siteleri pondered as he looked around. If there was one person in the entire city to know all the parks with all their secrets, that had to be him. The place was no longer trendy, and the few metal bars that had once served to those wanting to either exercise to get muscles or display the said muscles were rusty and looked as abandoned as the rest. Stubborn vegetation had found its way through the cracks in the asphalt, another sign of neglect.
Jared had picked this spot because it was like that. The chances of anyone disturbing them were slim. The only worry he now had was that Chris might miss the place. Chris had counterattacked his doubts earlier over the phone by saying he was a bit of geocaching aficionado, but Jared seriously doubted that was the case. His lover was humoring him, and that was a good sign.
Now, if only the satellites in the sky handling triangulation or whatever they were doing since Jared wasn’t as technically inclined to care, would carry Chris’s steps to him. Jared tipped his head backward, balancing the crooked umbrella on his shoulder to look at the sky. Sending map coordinates over the phone could hardly be considered romantic.
He just hoped all the rest was romantic enough. The drops falling on his face were warm, there was no one else in sight, and Jared felt his skin getting hot, only thinking of Chris rushing through the rain to meet him.
“I thought you said that you liked walking in the rain.”
Jared turned on his heels at the sound of the voice. He smiled as he looked at Chris, at the rain making his dark hair shine, the way he had both hands stuffing the pockets on his jacket, looking like a movie star.
Maybe it was just his mind, his seduced mind running away with him, but that was how Chris looked to him. Darker stains of water marked the shoulders of his jacket, but he didn’t seem bothered at all. He looked younger than his age, standing there, in tight jeans and expensive kicks. Jared had expected to see him in a suit, prepped up like for a meeting with wealthy clients, not like this.
Not that he was complaining.
“Well, for now, as you can see, I’m not walking.”
“Don’t be a chicken, Jared. Do you like the rain? Prove it.”
Jared laughed. He dropped the umbrella to the ground with large, theatrical moves.
“I wasn’t expecting you to get rid of your belongings like that,” Chris commented, visibly amused.
Jared walked over to him. “Now I’m walking. Don’t complain.”
He was about to link one hand through Chris’s arm, but Chris snuck one hand around his neck and pulled him in for a kiss. For a second, he was baffled; not that he hadn’t expected it. After all, nobody calls their hotshot lover in the middle of the day, when ordinary people work, for a walk in the rain.
Chris’s lips were hungry on his, and his initial surprise turned into the same lust. Jared could feel another hand sneaking into his hair, pulling it free from its string. In the silence around them, the sound of their kisses was loud like thunder.
The sky above was grey, but it wasn’t cold. Jared hissed as Chris managed to reach under his t-shirt and pinched one nipple, hard. A fine rain was wetting his shoulders, too, now. Unlike Chris, he hadn’t even bothered with a jacket.
Chris pushed him toward the old metal bars, not missing one moment to kiss him, bite him, and torture his skin. He seemed rougher than usual, but Jared couldn’t blame the guy. He wasn’t, obviously, the only one with expectations from their meeting.
“Turn,” Chris ordered shortly, and Jared obeyed. “Hold on to that.”
“Like this?” Jared wrapped his fingers around the rusty metal bar in front of him. “I should be glad this is no thunderstorm.”
He gasped as his ass was smacked one time, hard.
“No mouthing off,” Chris said abruptly.
Jared felt his lips curling into a smile. So that was the game they played. He had to be the naughty one, making his lover give up on some fantastic deal that could fill up the coffers for years and years, all for a thrilling rendezvous.
The next move was unexpected. His t-shirt was pulled over his head and let to hang on another metal bar; it moved slightly in the wind, like a flag of surrender. Now he felt exposed a little more than it was comfortable.
“Oh, wow,” he whispered.
Chris’s hands covered his chest and brushed over his nipples over and over again. Jared pushed back his ass to meet the other’s crotch in the middle.
“Easy,” Chris called softly. “Your delicious rump is going to get it soon enough.”
Jared could feel his heartbeat stepping up, ringing an emergency. The place was deserted, yes, but anyone could walk in on them.
Chris placed a kiss on his shoulder, chasing down small droplets of rain like a thirsty man. If there was one rational thought left in his mind, it was long gone. Chris continued to stimulate his nipples while kissing his way over Jared’s shoulders and upper back.
He didn’t need to do anything except to hold on to the metal bar in front of him like it was his lifeline. These were the words Chris spoke into his ear, between soft licks and grunts that gave away the desire that ran between them like electricity.