Owen may be a bit of a country mouse, but he’s loving his vacation in London. After a long day playing tourist, he’s on the hunt for some cheap beer and a good burger. Instead he finds a man hunting him, an arrogant prick with only one thing on the brain: the kind of meat that doesn’t come on a bun.
Eighty-hour weeks at a trading desk don’t leave Malcolm Kavanagh much time for meaningful relationships. Besides, in his world, everything’s a competition—even sex. When his newest one-night-sub fails to show, Malcolm sets his sights on the pretty young Yank on the bar stool beside him.
Owen’s all for an adventure with a native, but he’s not the pushover Malcolm thinks he is, and Malcolm’s not as shallow as he tries to be. They both soon learn that nothing's too intimate to share with a stranger, and the strangest things happen when two people share the most important pieces of their hearts.
Second Place: Best Bisexual / Transgender Erotic Romance in the 2012 Rainbow Awards!
This title comes with no special warnings.
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.
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Owen was a little nervous as he walked into the pub. London was a new experience for him, noisy and crowded. Taxi and bus drivers seemed hell-bent on killing everybody who crossed the roads, like this was really their space, and everybody seemed in a constant rush. His guide—his ex-girlfriend Jenny, who’d been here before—had pleaded a headache and stayed back at the hotel.
Owen was pretty sure she’d made eyes with an old boyfriend from her time in London and was meeting him for a little somethin’ somethin’. Well, good for Jenny. Shitty of her to leave him in a new city to fend for himself, but since they were no longer doing that, well, a girl had to get some, right? But then, that left him in the middle of . . . well, wherever the fuck he was.
Somewhere in the West End, which was a crazy area: Chinatown right next to Old Compton Street, which held all the gay bars he could want. And then there was more of Soho, with hard-worn prostitutes lining the surprisingly crooked, dark and dingy alleys, which again were only a few blocks away from the bombastic facades of Regent Street with its collection of luxury stores.
The city was a lot more than he could take in on a first day, and part of him considered just getting a drink and going back to the hotel. The crisp cold certainly hadn’t invited him to stay outside for long or wander the streets. Still, he wasn’t so sure about this pub. It hadn’t seemed so funky on the outside—just an entrance on a corner in an old brick building (Victorian? That made it more than a hundred years old!)—but inside, it was all dark wood and the tang of cigarette smoke in the air, even though a sign said that smoking was forbidden. Maybe they’d just never re-painted it.
But the large pint glass was dirty, too, and the wood of the bar sticky to the touch. Patrons ranged from a gaggle of Italian schoolgirls sucking on their little Coke bottles, to a few blue-collar guys crowded around the TV showing soccer, to a guy in a smart suit propping up the bar.
That guy, well, he caught Owen’s attention. Short dark hair gelled into spikes, rather incongruous with his gray pinstripe suit and brown pointy-toed shoes. He wore rimless glasses, and looked halfway between twenty and thirty. He’d propped his elbows on the bar, making his suit jacket ride up, showing off very nicely-shaped thighs and ass in the tailored suit. He’d just downed his second vodka shot and was waving for a third.
Owen kept looking at the guy, trying to figure out where he’d come from. His suit was sharp—Owen wasn’t an expert on these things, but it screamed stockbroker or lawyer or (shudder!) politician. Maybe that was the sort of thing loan sharks—or people investing in really seedy pubs—wore in London, but not in the States. That suit, and the fine ass within it, did not belong here.
And he was drinking top-shelf vodka from a dirty glass.
And, oh shit, he was looking directly at Owen.
Owen felt his face go hot and looked down into his lap at his baggy student jeans and Sac State hoodie. Of course, that suit wasn’t the only thing that didn’t belong here, was it?
The rim of his beer glass had mung on it, something three-dimensional and brown, and he picked at it with a well-trimmed nail, wondering what his mom would say about this ill-advised trip to the pub.
Go to Europe, baby. Have an adventure. Buy something you don’t need, see things you only see in movies, kiss someone who looks a little bit dangerous. But be careful, baby. You’re only there on loan.
His mother—a single woman and a free spirit, but not stupid about the perils of the world, or her only child set loose in it. She’d probably approve of this pub, and even approve of him ogling that man, but would maybe tell him to call it a night at the crap stuck to the beer glass.
He looked curiously at the sticky bar again, and wondered who MLM and STR were, because apparently it was TLA. There was a sudden movement at his side, the crisp slink of silk and linen, and Owen turned his head.
“I wouldn’t drink the draft here,” said the man with the crescent glasses. He had an accent beyond the flat Soho slang Owen enjoyed, and he didn’t even crack a smile. “It’ll give you sepsis.”
Owen pulled up one side of his mouth and took a deliberate swig, then grimaced. Sure enough, it tasted like Satan’s piss in a glass mug. “Well, not all of us are wise enough for top shelf.”
The man arched an eyebrow, one corner of his lean mouth turning down. “I thought I told you not to drink.”
“And I thought you weren’t my mother,” Owen shot back, taking another gulp of the world’s worst beer.
The man quirked a finger at the bartender, and while Owen was still swishing that last mouthful around, trying to work up the courage to swallow, a tumbler of Grey Goose clinked on the bar in front of him. He was so surprised that his throat worked and the beer was gone, and shitty pub and the funky smell and the Italian schoolgirls and working class television-watchers all disappeared.
What remained was the stranger, looking at him sideways with his lean mouth compressed in a taunt, and an actually clean tumbler, two fingers full of first-class liquor.
“What’s this?” he asked dumbly, and the stranger snorted.
“Are your hands clean?”
Owen held them out in front of them and shrugged. “Yeah.” He was unprepared for the stranger’s cool, strong grip as the man seized his hand. Owen was surprised enough to let his hand be dragged to the tumbler and his index finger inserted halfway into the liquid. He glared indignantly and snatched his hand back, pulling his finger up to his mouth to suck off the drop of vodka clinging to it.
He closed his eyes in sudden appreciation and moaned.
“Drink. The Bloody. Vodka.”
The man watched him with what seemed like too-intense interest for a couple moments. His eyes were pale blue, a quarter of one iris blacked out by a spot—making the iris look like a waning moon—and Owen found that getting the glass between him and that glare was the only thing he could do to keep from staring back. It most likely wasn’t anger or aggression; maybe the guy was just high-strung. Or a cocaine addict. Weren’t they supposed to be too loud and a bit twitchy? Not that this guy was twitchy. But his eyebrow arched. Owen took a mouthful of the vodka and swallowed it, the liquid oily, crisp, and extremely strong.
“There you go. Wasn’t so hard, was it?”
Owen breathed out hard, the vodka rasping his throat. “Fucking wonderful. Are you going to give some to the teenagers next?”
That arch in the eyebrow twitched, and then the lean mouth quirked back, revealing the hint of a dimple behind it. “That was not part of my plan, no.”
Owen took an experimental sip of what was left. It was still better than the beer. “Then what’s your plan here?”
“Certainly not getting Italian school girls shitfaced. That way lies disaster.” The guy quirked another grin that seemed to suggest he was only temporarily not in a disaster-causing mood. “Otherwise, I’m looking for a hookup, as my original one seems to be stuck in a Tube tunnel or chickened out.”
“Chickened out? Not exactly a stellar recommendation for you as a hookup, is it?” Owen took another sip, the burn from that big swallow giving him courage. “I might be safer with the Italian schoolgirls.”
“Safer, yes,” the stranger said, as though he were actually thinking about it. “More satisfied? I highly doubt it.”
Owen took a deep breath and shook his hair out of his face. He tilted his head back and looked at the mysterious stranger from half-lidded eyes. Slick. Slick and arrogant. Not usually Owen’s flavor, but then, there was always the possibility of something softer underneath the silk-suit veneer. “I’m a bit of a country mouse, here. Do you really think I’m up to your big-city, pricey-vodka seduction? I could be the most disappointing hookup in the history of ever. Maybe you should move on.”
The stranger flicked a finger against Owen’s cheek, and Owen flinched from the touch, which was both impersonal and intimate at once. He’d thought it was Americans who intruded on personal space by British standards. “You talk too much,” he said with speculation. “I’d love to see you gagged.”
When his mother had talked about having an adventure, she probably hadn’t meant, “Find a random British psychopath and get gagged and tied down and dismembered.” That was stuff for the worst news stories, right? Missing American male (23) found in two suitcases on the bottom of the River Thames. Not exactly the role he’d audition for, the sane part of him thought.
But his sense of adventure (fine, other parts, too) readily agreed. Fantasy stuff, things he’d dreamed about but hadn’t been quite ready to contemplate actually doing. But shouldn’t he know this guy better first? At least, you know, have a name or something?
His phone buzzed, and he grimaced, then reached sheepishly into his pocket to pull it out. Fantasies were one thing, but getting picked up in a bar without telling anyone where you were was not practical.
Mysterious Stranger raised his eyebrow, and then leaned intimidatingly close—close enough to see Jenny’s text: Where R U?
Some bar in So-Ho. He looked meaningfully at Mysterious Stranger, and added Getting hit on by some prick who hasn’t even told me his name.
A soft exhalation told him the man had read that and was highly amused. Good. Let him be amused. But he was going to have to cough up a name before he got Owen anywhere near a bottle of lube and a (shudder) blindfold and plug. (Okay, where had the plug come in?)
Is he cute?! was the reply.
He’s really hot, if you like uptight yuppies with too much hair gel.
The sound behind Owen was indignant this time, and a pointed chin dug into his shoulder as the stranger cast all the rest of his personal space in the crapper and got close enough behind him to breathe in his ear. Which, of course, so not fair.
But you DO like uptight yuppies with too much hair gel! Jenny complained, and Owen closed his eyes in embarrassment. Of course—the problem with friends was that they knew you.
“You’ll like me, I swear,” Mysterious Stranger promised.
Aren’t you supposed to be getting laid? Owen asked Jenny, scowling.
Yeah, but that was a SHORT performance. He could almost hear her answering scowl in the words on the small screen.
“Sign off,” Bossy Stranger muttered in his ear. “You talk too bloody much on the phone, too.”
“Not until I get a name,” Owen replied pertly. “I need to tell her who to have the police searching for when I don’t show up in the morning.” On the phone he texted, Yeah, sometimes, with quickies, shortness is guaranteed.
“No such thing here,” Mystery Man said. Owen should probably call him Jack the Ripper, just to rile him up more. But then the man said, “Malcolm. Kavanagh. Only one in the City, you can check me out on Facebook or something.”
Malcolm ran his hands along Owen’s flanks, a strong grip promising control.
“Fucking queers,” somebody muttered from the corner.
Owen jerked, and Malcolm half-turned, but let him go only slowly, reluctantly. “This can go two ways,” Malcolm said. “Either we depart now, or I’m taking that arsehole’s teeth first.” First being the operative, very-much-emphasized word here.
“Are you going to need help with that?” Owen asked, “or can you take on a shitload of rednecks all by your lonesome?” On the phone he texted, Malcolm Kavanagh, so you know which guy to bail out of jail with me, and Malcolm turned to look at him.
“Well, I’d like to think you’d help.”
Owen shrugged, but stood up. His cousins had been a rowdy bunch of kids; he’d never backed down from a fight.
The gaggle of guys in the corner measured them for a few moments, doing some quick calculations, but clearly the thought that the queers wouldn’t just scamper off hadn’t figured. “No hard feelings, mate,” one of them said and lifted his beer glass. Thankfully, somebody on the TV scored a goal just then, and the men turned quite touchy-feely themselves with hugs and shoulder slaps.
“Opium for the masses,” Malcolm said. “Let’s go before they realize how gay they look.”
Owen snickered, then covered his mouth. He took one more look at his phone (which was still clenched in his hand) and told Jenny, Give your guy a lick-me-up, and see if he’s good for another round. I have a feeling I’ll be late.
* * * * *
Malcolm inhaled the more-or-less fresh air deeply. Why was it that fresh air rarely sobered, only made him more aware that he was getting drunk? Drunk—the thought made him snort. If he’d eaten anything at all today, he wouldn’t even be feeling the three shots. They’d barely have counted as a warm-up during his apprenticeship at the trading desk. But then, he’d learned under Bill “Water Buffalo” Porter, whose idea of a drink after work was to lay waste to at least one bar and one strip club.
Good old days. He rolled his neck. “Nicer bar, food, or my place?” he asked the wide-eyed Yank he’d somehow acquired in that pisshole.
The Yank was cute, looked innocent, but Malcolm had really only decided to fuck him when he’d faced the bullies, too. He didn’t like queens in distress, so this was a refreshing change. He was well-built, too, really quite pretty. Not that Malcolm always had the highest standards.
“Food,” said the Yank. “I’m starving.”
“Aren’t you young enough to survive on other fuel?” Seriously, where was the spirit of adventure in this man? Sure, he’d been willing to stand up to the proles, but otherwise, he seemed to be milking the “country mouse” bit way too hard.
The Yank stopped suddenly in the street. “Hi,” he said, his face flat and unfriendly. “My name is Owen Watson. I’m twenty-three, bisexual, and I’ve been in your country exactly seventeen hours. In that time, I’ve eaten some shitty beer and half a shot of vodka. Before I see how serious you are about a gag, I’d really like a fucking burger, if you don’t mind.”
Oh, this was much better. Malcolm found himself smiling—not a quirk of the lips, but a full, dimple–to-dimple grin. “Do you expect me to pay for that?” he asked, although he fully intended to.
“Only if you plan to top,” Owen said sourly. “That’s how we do things in the States. If you’re gonna get fucked, you get dinner first.”
Not a rule Malcolm recognized from his brief stint on Wall Street, but he did like that the kid was making him work for it. Kid. He was barely six-and-a-half years older. “I know just the place. If it’s still there; places in London have recently been opening and closing faster than a cheap whore’s legs.” He glanced around, got his bearings and headed down one of the dark alleys, cutting through the occasional group of tourists braving the cold, but he kept an eye on Owen to make sure he was following. “Bisexual? Aren’t we all a bit? Girlfriend? She the one you’re texting?”
Owen shook his head. “No, she’s a friend. She had the money, wanted a friend on the trip. I wanted the trip, didn’t mind being a friend.”
“So,” he asked, still amused, “how bisexual are you?”
“I’ve had three serious relationships.” Owen sounded resentful, as if wondering who Malcolm was to ask him to quantify. “Two female, one male. They all ended well, we’re still friends, but my ex-guy is dating my ex-girl, and Jenny’s currently getting banged by the guy she had before me. Are we all caught up now?”
“Serious? And you’re still friends? You’re the forgiving kind.” Or a pushover. Or possibly really a well-adjusted kid. It would be interesting to find out which.
“I’m all about the forgiveness,” Owen said, and Malcolm couldn’t tell if he was being bitter or not.
“Well, nothing to forgive about this place.” Malcolm pointed at the Soho branch of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, then opened the door for Owen and let him pass through first. So what, he could be chivalrous to a guy too.
The Asian waiter eyed them for moment, then led them to a table when Malcolm indicated with a hand signal he wanted one for two.
The waiter gave them the whole “We’re family here” spiel and asked if they’d been there before, but Malcolm waved him off after the drinks order. No more alcohol; he did want all his facilities ready and sharp to deal with the Yank in the most satisfying manner possible. For both of them. Wouldn’t do to miss a hint because he was pissed, or even a bit flaky.
He decided quickly on his favorite—the Bleu Cheese burger—and then watched Owen study the menu. Owen wanted the Wellington, so Malcolm headed to the counter, where he ordered, quoted his table number, and then returned to his seat. And couldn’t help imagining what he’d do to Owen. With him. It was always two who played that particular game.
His BlackBerry buzzed in his pocket, and when he pulled it out he saw a spark of sarcasm in Owen’s eyes. He winked, checked the number and answered, leaning backward, one arm outstretched and placed on the table as if he were pushing himself away from it. “Yes?”
“Shit, Malcolm, I’m so sorry, the train . . .”
“Don’t worry about it.” Peter? Paul? John? Something. “Plans have changed; we’ll have to move the meeting.”
“What? Are you serious? I’ve come up all the way—”
“I’m not waiting for an hour in some Soho pisshole for a chance to whip your ass red. We need to introduce a little respect into our ‘relationship,’ and we’ll start today. Spend the weekend thinking about how to make amends, and I might talk to you again. And don’t you dare call me before Monday.” He disconnected, slipped the phone back into his pocket and studied Owen for a response. “Looks like I just freed up all weekend.”
Owen was not looking impressed. “Excellent. Who are you picking up after we’re done eating?”
Malcolm flushed. “I didn’t say I was going to whip your ass red. That has to be earned.”
Owen rolled his eyes. “Bullshit.”
“Bullshit?” It wasn’t his word, and his inflection at the end of it proved it. Owen arched his eyebrows, and his eyes—plain, ordinary brown—were suddenly dark and arresting. Malcolm found himself swallowing.
“Bollocks,” Owen said smugly. “Tripe. Shite. Waste. What-the-fuck-ever. A dinner? Yeah, sure. I might even kiss you goodnight on the cock. But I’m nobody’s fuck toy, so get that straight right now.”
Malcolm recovered himself—indignation did that to you. “He’s not my fuck toy—that sod was begging for what I had to dish out.”
Owen rolled his eyes again. “I’m sure he was. But don’t expect me to beg for a damn thing, okay?”
He looked like a kitten—jeans, school sweater, little-boy hair—but he was showing the same backbone he’d shown in the bar, and Malcolm liked it. He smiled in admiration, but those brown eyes didn’t soften.
Malcolm let out a little bit of the starch in his middle. “I swear to you, Yank, if you’re begging by the end of the night, it’s because you really want something you know I’ll give you. Now do you care to tell me about that incestuous little disaster of ex-fuck-all, or are you going to let me make up my own story?”
Owen looked moodily at the counter, like he could will his Wellington faster, and Malcolm resisted the urge to do the same. It was somehow easier to talk about hard stuff if you weren’t gnawing on the table to stay sane.
“My mom’s very liberal,” Owen said with a little smile. “She told me my whole life I could kiss anydamnone I wanted.”
Malcolm snorted. “And you did.”
“No!” Owen protested, picking at the table. “No. Just the people that turned my key. But . . .” He sighed. “I like commitment, okay? I like it a lot. And they didn’t. But they still cared about me. And good friends are harder to get than lovers—”
“Who cheated first?” Malcolm demanded, not wanting to hear him defend them anymore. Besides the Jenny girl, who was hopefully getting fucked raw by who-the-hell-cared, he was pretty sure there were bad guys in these relationships and the Yank kitten wasn’t one of them.
“Laurie slept with Peter after I’d broken up with her and was dating him,” Owen said, and Malcolm had to cross his eyes to do the math.
“They’re both wanker fucktards. First class. Stop being so bloody nice to them.”
Owen shook his head, looking relieved when the waiter started to weave his way from the counter toward their table, carrying a tray with two sodas and two baskets with thick slabs of meat on puffy, toasted buns. “If you can’t order me around in bed, I’m not going to let you order my social schedule.” His whole body glowed when the waiter dodged the couple nearest them—she was crying and he was looking uncomfortable—and pulled their burgers and drinks off his tray.
“Thanks,” Malcolm said tersely, and arranged his food once the waiter had left them alone again. He looked back at the Yank. “Well, get some meat into you. Can’t have you faint on me or attack a bystander.” He gave the Yank one of his best, brightest, bad-boy grins and wished he’d ordered fries, just for the suggestive shape of them. But he already had a lot more carbs on his plate than his personal trainer would normally let him get away with.
“Thing is, Owen”—he repeated the name mostly so he’d remember it later—“if you play nice, people walk all over you. Trust me on that one. You’re a nice guy, but that’s like blood in the water. Attracts all kinds of unpleasant people who’re just trawling for a weakness. Any weakness.”
Owen met his gaze head on from under that fall of brown hair. “Kindness is not weakness, Malcolm. Forgiveness isn’t lack of backbone. Forgiveness is the thing that lets human beings not strangle each other after a half an hour’s acquaintance. It’s not something you in particular should shit on, you know?”
Malcolm grimaced. “I know? No, I don’t know. Forgiving people gets you on vacation with your ex-bitch-wanker who’s getting laid while you’re drinking piss-water in a shitty bar. Punishing people gets your cock licked, and maybe your toes if you’re in the mood. Tell me which one you’d rather have.”
Seemed he’d touched a nerve, because Owen glanced down at his food for a few moments too long.
“It’s not unreasonable to ask for a little respect. It’s the very least I ask of my hookups, and if they approach the whole thing with the proper attitude, I play nice, too. I can be very nice if I want to.” Maybe I’m even in the mood to play nice tonight. The Yank might tickle out his softer side if he kept a level head.
“They respect me,” Owen said, and an evil little smile appeared at the corners of his mouth. “Sometimes they fear me.”
Malcolm looked at him curiously, suddenly more convinced he’d remember this one’s name. “Yeah? You make them pay for kicking you in the nads?”
Owen groaned. “Not the way you’re thinking. Let’s just say that a conscience isn’t always a cricket, and leave it at that.”
And now Malcolm was thoroughly disgusted. “You lectured them to death?”
Owen laughed. “Ouch! That would be awful. No. It was personal, but they felt better, I felt better, and now we’re friends again. Forgiveness. Sometimes it really is a pleasure.”
Malcolm took a deep breath and let it out, but it didn’t stop the stirring, the tingle, wrapping itself around the skin of his cock. Personal? He could only imagine. But God, the things he could imagine. He busied himself with his burger, eating with no more passion than if he were wolfing down whatever his desk neighbor deigned to bring him, right there in front of his six-pack of screens. “How’s the food?”
Owen took a big mouthful, chewed slowly. He closed his eyes before he swallowed. “Awesome. Absolutely awesome.”
Malcolm swallowed, too. Anyone who could take that much pleasure in a hamburger? What else could he take pleasure in? Time to find out. “Let’s talk about what we’ll do when we get to my place.”
“No,” Owen said, eyeing his hamburger with carnal greed.
Well, he could give him ten minutes. Okay, five at the speed the Yank was eating. Malcolm took another bite, but mostly enjoyed watching the kid eat. “No as in we’re not going to my place, or no as in you’re not going to tell me what your safeword is?” Malcolm made sure the irony was so thick even an American wouldn’t be able to miss it.
Owen stopped eating long enough to raise his eyebrows. “Safeword? I know what it is,” he muttered, forestalling the explanation Malcolm was about to spew. “I just mean, I’m the one who’s going to need it?”
Malcolm took a few deep breaths. Was the Yank being irritating on purpose, or had Malcolm given him too many points for intelligence? “Well, I am buying dinner,” he ground out, and Owen winked.
“Yes, Yank, hamburgers for dinner.”
“Nope. Hamburger for safe word. I’m not likely to spit that out in the middle of sex unless I mean it, right?”
“Unless you’re having a flashback to the meal,” Malcolm grouched, amused despite himself at Owen’s resistance to being tricked or played. Damn, but he couldn’t wait to get home and lock the penthouse doors behind them. “Maybe tell me what you like. Soft limits, hard limits.” Last time he’d discussed this in a cab, and the cabbie had almost hit a bus. This time he’d get these things out of the way where a listening ear wouldn’t get him killed.
Owen looked thoughtfully at his last few bites of burger. “Hard limits? Don’t fucking hurt me. I mean, seriously. A little bruising, a little hard stuff—fine. But I don’t like bleeding. Pisses me off. Soft limits? I guess anything up to there.” Owen took a chip and dipped it in the puddle of vinegar he’d poured for them. “And you? What are your limits?”
“I don’t think you need to know.” Malcolm smiled to take the sting out. Okay, now he had reached the point where he actually cared whether the Yank walked out on him. Normally, that stage involved being turned on beyond recovery; he rarely got there over dinner. “If I were on the receiving end, I’d say permanent damage.”
Owen cocked his head. “You don’t mind blood, then?” he asked, voice soft and curious. If Malcolm didn’t know better, he’d think the man had just turned into a shrink on him.
“I can’t afford to get an infection, but as long as it’s clean and hygienic and means I can go to work next morning, sure, why not.” Not that anybody had ever attempted that. So, was that Yank considering turning the tables on him? Hardly. He didn’t seem like somebody who’d bring out the razor blades mid-sex.
Owen shook his head, and some of Malcolm’s faith in the world was restored. He had to admit, the country mouse had kept him on his toes. “I don’t like hurting people,” he said, looking Malcolm so deeply in the eyes that Malcolm couldn’t shake him off.
“Even if they like it?” Even as he heard the words, they sounded like begging. He cleared his throat, and assumed that Owen’s thoughtful expression meant he was wrestling with the concept. “Then what do you like? Any fantasies you can play with while overseas? Over here, you’re free to do whatever you want to do.” Because you can just leave after, go home and pretend you never did anything. Nothing fixes a mistake like a few thousand miles’ worth of distance. At least, that’s what he’d found.
Owen closed his eyes. “Mm . . . my mom used to watch the X-Files—you remember that show?”
Malcolm inhaled sharply; this could be a whole new level of kink he hadn’t even thought of, but then Owen continued and dashed his hopes.
“I hated it. Scared me shitless. So I’d roll under my bed and pull the covers over the edge, and lie there in complete darkness. Got my first erection down there. It felt so good, and I was so very scared.” Owen opened those fine brown eyes and looked at Malcolm with lazy promise. “I like the dark. I like not being able to see what’s touching me, what’s brushing against me, what’s coming. Will it be in my mouth? Will it be on my ass? Where will it be?” Owen laughed and shivered, and so did Malcolm. Oh, this was not going the way he’d imagined at all.
“I’m game,” Malcolm said simply and took another—last—bite of his burger, almost disgusted with the cold food. The other appetite was by far stronger. He liked listening to Owen’s fantasies; it was so different than the often-rehearsed lists he tended to agree to via email because he found people were more honest if they couldn’t see his face. Or he theirs. “Anything else? Fantasies can be pretty elaborate. I can most likely make it happen. Or at least have a better shot at it than many others.” Money and seclusion and a number of somewhat ruthless friends and acquaintances saw to that.
Owen shrugged. “Nope, that’s about it.” He crumpled his napkin over his remaining chips, and Malcolm grunted in frustration.
“Oh come on, mate, you don’t look unimaginative.” Something. Let him want something only Malcolm could give him. Let him have a reason for Malcolm Kavanagh to make an impression, since he’d just nixed the idea of a mark on his flesh.
“Nope,” Owen said, standing and stretching. He had bloody long legs, Malcolm’s Yank. They’d likely been cramped under the table. “My fantasies are more personal than my impersonal sex, Malcolm. Come on. You’re dying to get this show on the road. Let’s go. You can make me come, or keep me from coming, or whatever it is you want to do, and then you can forget my name.”
Whoa, hang on a minute right there. Those words translated into “You’re gagging for it,” and even though it was true, he didn’t like being reminded of it. Yes, the sub called all the shots, but this wasn’t going as planned. Wasn’t going like he was used to. Shit, he was not going to lose control of this.
He’s just treating you like that random hookup that you dismissed in his favor. He’s learned your method, Malcolm, and in fifteen minutes flat.
Yeah, that sounded about right. It didn’t actually matter, though, because getting them both off was on top of the agenda anyway. Wasn’t like the Yank had come here to make friends. He’d be gone on the day stamped on his ticket, and that would be that.
[T]his is all about wanting and needing and giving and taking and letting go and then grabbing on, all at the same time. And, ah, the romance of it all. [A] sexy and salacious little story, every bit as good as I expected it would be.
I just loved Country Mouse. I loved the brisk pace, the clever banter between the men, the steamy encounters, and Malcolm's character development. This one is definitely a winner.
Country Mouse is a delightfully sexy short story . . . I loved the result of [Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov's] combined writing styles and ideas. Grab this one up.
[A] fun filled, sexy romp with plenty of feel good factor and a HEA.
. . . [A] real treat. [Country Mouse is] a fun filled, sexy romp with plenty of feel good factor and a HEA . . .