Twenty-two-year-old foster care survivor Luke Kearsey got out of his abusive relationship and then got out of the country. Now he lives in England, where he works at a burger bar. Maybe his life is directionless, but at least he’s safe. When thirty-six-year-old schoolteacher Paul Blackwell meets Luke at a club, neither man expects anything more than some no-strings-attached sex. Paul is still grieving the death of his partner of five years, and he’s not looking for anything serious. Not when it means he could get hurt again. But despite all their differences, something clicks between them. Though Luke lacks confidence and finds it difficult to believe he can offer Paul much in a relationship, and though Paul is wary about starting a relationship with someone so different, they begin to explore the possibilities that could help them heal. With the love and support they provide each other, Luke and Paul begin to put their pasts behind them—but then Luke’s past shows up in England, and it wants him back. Is Luke really ready to move on?
“AND yes, I do want fries and cola with that.”
The teenager in front of Luke turned back to his friends and grinned as if he had just quoted Shakespeare. Luke forced his features into a humoring smile instead of squeezing the contents of the ketchup dispenser over his head and turned to get the order. “Tonight I am going to get laid. Everything else is just so much bullshit,” he repeated in his head for the twentieth time that evening. He couldn’t look at his watch again yet—he’d challenged himself not to check the time until he served ten more customers and he was only up to six. These little games got him through the shift. And the shift would get him the money to hit a club and get laid. Luke turned his empty smile back on and greeted the next customer.
At 11:00 p.m., finally, it was over. He grabbed his stuff from his locker and ran to the bus stop. If he got out right on time and the bus was running just a little late, he could catch it. Otherwise, it would be another twenty minutes before he’d be heading home to wash the fast-food smell away, change, and hit a club. Tonight, he was lucky. As Luke sat looking out the window of the bus, he again went through the arguments for and against getting a car. Against: he could only afford something that would probably end up spending more time with a mechanic than with him, and parking in the city was a bitch. For: he would have a car, dammit!
He’d been in England long enough now to get his head around the whole “driving on the wrong side of the road” thing, and he even thought he had roundabouts figured out (which was more than could be said for many English drivers). Bristol had a pretty good public transport system, but it still meant planning his time around someone else’s timetable. His car back home in Chicago had meant everything to him, even though it was a wreck. It was the most expensive thing he had ever bought, and it felt almost as if he had gained some entry into the whole “just like everyone else” life that he’d longed for.
Finally, it was his stop. It was a short two blocks to the apartment building where he lived, then three flights up. He started undressing as he walked to the bathroom, then turned the shower on to heat up while he cleaned his teeth (he had learned the sly tricks of his building’s plumbing the hard way), and was back out the door again within thirty minutes. His hair was still damp, but what the hell? He wasn’t in the mood to hang around.
Luke headed for Crush. It wasn’t the best club in town, but it was within walking distance (even when intoxicated) and attracted a clientele that was there for a good time with good music. As soon as he walked through the doors, he got the same buzz he always did. Sometimes he wished he could be more like the bored, disinterested type than a schoolboy in his first gay club, but Luke always got that rush—the lights, the music, the bodies, the dancing. He truly believed the world was a better place when he was in a club, and even a stint working the bar at one back home hadn’t convinced him otherwise.
Forty-five minutes later, Luke was on his second drink and starting to look around with more purpose. He’d managed to avoid someone he didn’t want to talk to (no one should have that much to say during sex) and speak to several other people he knew to varying degrees, as well as enjoy the dance floor. He’d been approached by a couple of guys while dancing but hadn’t been interested enough to take it further.
He had started to wonder if he should be a little more open to what was on offer when he spotted someone leaning against one of the walls. Luke caught something in the eyes and the shape of the face that he liked and maneuvered closer so he could get a better look. The man was quite a bit older than Luke, probably midthirties, and, it had to be said, looked a bit out of place. He had thick, short, dark hair and a pair of eyes that seemed to be able to look right through whatever they focused on. His face was serious, perhaps even sad. Then Luke got it—he looked as lost and lonely as Luke felt, although somehow he wore it with dignity.
Luke watched the man look down at his drink and then tip back the remaining contents of the glass. He was getting ready to leave, and Luke knew he didn’t want to let him go. He hated approaching men—he always felt stupid and ugly when they looked at him, but there was something about this guy that made it worth the risk.
“Hi.” As an opener, it was a classic, although perhaps more than a little unoriginal. Luke followed it with a smile and the realization that he didn’t know what to say next. He just managed to stop himself before he blurted out something about not having seen the guy at Crush before. It was true, but corny enough to kill his chances stone dead.
“Hi.” A slow smile back. “I’m Paul.”
“I’m Luke,” he replied, delighted that he had thought of something to say, before realizing that this still wasn’t enough to get them back to his place. This is why I always wait for the other guy to make the move, he thought.
Fortunately, Paul was able to pick up the slack. Still smiling, he asked “So why did you come over to say hello?”
Paul tipped his head to one side as if he was curious to hear what Luke would come up with.
“I saw you and… I thought… I wanted to talk to you….”
“That’s nice. But I’m not looking for conversation.” The smile didn’t change, and Paul’s eyes stayed fixed on Luke’s.
“What are you looking for?” Luke asked.
Paul reached up and lightly drew his knuckles down Luke’s cheek. “I’m looking for someone to fuck,” he said quietly, never taking his eyes from Luke’s.
“That’s a relief, because I’m a lot better at fucking than I am at talking.” Luke’s smile grew into a grin.
Paul placed his hand on Luke’s hip and pulled him closer for a kiss. Soft, confident lips on lips. No grabbing or thrusting. Paul was roughly the same height as him, just a couple of inches taller. Luke silently congratulated himself on his choice. This was going to be good.
WHEN they arrived at Luke’s apartment, he held the door open for Paul and then followed him inside. As soon as it was closed, Paul pulled Luke close to him and started kissing him again, running his tongue over Luke’s lips and sucking them softly between his. Luke tried to lead him toward the bed without breaking off the kiss, tugging at Paul’s shirt and moving backward. Luckily, Luke’s flat was small, and it wasn’t long before he felt the bed behind his legs. Paul pushed him down so he was sitting on the edge of the mattress and then pulled off his own T-shirt. When Luke looked up at him with a smile, Paul smiled back and began unbuckling his belt.
“Let me help you with that,” Luke suggested, and he took over while his mouth started to cover Paul’s stomach with kisses.
So this is why I always do an extra ten sit-ups, Paul thought as Luke’s tongue flicked lightly over his abs. When Luke’s hands pushed down his jeans and briefs, Paul’s cock was ready for him.
Luke had been in this situation enough times to know that not every cock fulfilled the promise its owner’s physique made, but there were no disappointments here. Paul’s cock was hard and straight, and a good size for jacking, sucking, and (most importantly) fucking. Yeah, it would stretch him, but his ass could use the workout.
Luke reached out to stroke the cock and heard a soft sound in Paul’s throat. There was always something about the first touch. His hand slid up and down the shaft as he looked back up at Paul.
Paul wanted to fall into those eyes, that mouth, and he couldn’t move or look away as Luke licked his lips and bent his head down to take the tip of Paul’s cock into his mouth. Luke kept one hand firmly around the base so he could keep control and rolled his tongue round the head, slowly sucking Paul in as his mouth moved down before swirling his mouth back up again.
Paul could have stood there all night feeling that tongue and lips going up and down, up and down, but he wanted to touch Luke too much, to see what his clothes were hiding. He slowly pulled back and pushed his fingers into Luke’s dirty-blond hair, smoothing it back from his eyes.
“You’re wearing far too many clothes,” Paul told him. Luke smiled and quickly undressed while Paul pushed off his own shoes and removed his jeans and briefs. He lay down on top of the bed with Luke lying next to him and began to let his hands run over Luke’s slim body, slighter than his own. He had the easy tone of a fit young twentysomething, and a hard, good-sized cock to go with it. Paul looked back at Luke’s handsome face and stroked his cheek.
“I bet you’ve been told this a thousand times, but, fuck, you are beautiful.” A look came over Luke’s face that Paul didn’t understand—not the arrogant certainty he’d been expecting, more like confusion and doubt. He took Luke’s face in his hands and began kissing his full mouth again, moving his hands over his bare skin, taking ownership of his body. As he moved his hands lower, he felt Luke moving his hips, pushing his cock up to meet Paul’s touch. Paul’s grip was firm and sure as it worked Luke’s cock, as though he’d read Luke’s mind and knew exactly how he liked it. His thumb knew just how much pressure to place under the ridge to drag a moan from Luke’s lips, to make those eyes grow drowsy and unfocused.
He moved on top of Luke and dipped his head down to his tight nipples. Not all guys liked to be sucked and licked here, but the gasp from Luke’s throat told Paul that he was in luck. He made his mouth soft around the nipple and surrounding skin, sucking in long gentle pulses that fell into rhythm with his hand on Luke’s cock. Luke’s nipple became swollen and increasingly sensitized, ready for Paul’s firm tongue to flick and circle until Luke’s breathing was coming quick and shallow. He moved his mouth to Luke’s other nipple and repeated the motions. Precome had started to ooze from Luke’s cock, lubricating the shaft as Paul’s right hand continued working it and his left played with the swollen nipple that had escaped his mouth.
“If you’re going to fuck me, you’re going to have to do it soon.” Luke smiled but his eyes were dark. It had been a long time since anyone had given him this much attention, and done it so well, but he really wanted this guy inside him.
“Where do you keep the lube?” Paul asked, his voice low, and Luke reached over and opened a bedside drawer. Paul caught a glimpse of condoms and a few other items that were certainly interesting, but grabbed the lube and pumped some out onto his fingers, working it between them and ensuring they were completely covered. He pumped more onto the tips of his first two fingers and moved down between Luke’s legs. Paul felt Luke flinch a little as the cold lube came in contact with his skin, but soon he was pushing insistently against Paul’s fingers as they worked the cold lube around his hot little hole. Paul wanted every nerve awake and begging for more.
“Inside me. Please,” Luke murmured, and Paul pushed past the tight muscle with first one, then two fingers, and began easing deeper, pressing against the soft walls until he found the prostate and heard the sounds from Luke’s throat grow more intense. Once he could feel Luke was okay with the stretch, he withdrew his fingers, quickly replacing the two with three, twisting and pushing as he ground them in, watching the intensity on Luke’s face as he gripped the pillow under his head and bit down on his lip. He seemed to want to hold Paul’s gaze, but the sensations kept forcing him to close his eyes.
Paul slipped his fingers out and grabbed a condom from the drawer. He wanted this guy so much, was so aware of the strength of his desire to be fucking that tight ass that he had to keep reminding himself to take it slow; he didn’t know how fast Luke could take it. Luke had rolled over onto his stomach, waiting for him. For a second Paul thought about turning him over—he really wanted to watch Luke’s face while he was fucking him—but then he decided anything that would use up valuable seconds before he could get his cock into that ass wasn’t worth it.
Kneeling between Luke’s open legs, he pressed the head of his cock against the lubricated hole and felt Luke give under his weight. The tightness hugged him so snugly he had to push harder, leaning forward over Luke’s back and supporting himself with his arms on either side of Luke.
Luke felt the pressure and fullness moving deeper and forced his hips back against Paul. Sweat started to prickle on his forehead as he took more and more, until he finally felt Paul’s balls against his ass.
Paul took a moment to just enjoy the squeeze all around him, leaning down closer to move his lips over Luke’s nape. Slowly, Paul started rocking inside Luke, drawing sighs that grew into moans with each stroke. He used his weight to drive the thrusts by pushing down on his hips and then shifting back to his arms.
Luke felt Paul in him, on top of him, whispering to him, and knew he had needed this so badly. A tension in him that he had hardly known was there opened and relaxed as Paul fucked into him.
Paul felt Luke’s body taking each thrust and gripping him, and he pressed himself down over Luke’s back, skin against skin, his mouth against Luke’s neck, his ear. “Ahhhh, it’s so good, so good,” he whispered between thrusts.
The pitch of Luke’s moans changed as Paul focused his attention. Luke’s hand reached for his cock, with its throbbing pulse. It only took a few strokes before Luke felt the overpowering force pushing his senses higher and harder until there was nowhere left to go and it exploded through him, and he splattered come over the sheet beneath him. As Luke regained awareness, he felt and heard Paul moaning his climax against his throat as he took his last thrusts into Luke’s now-aching ass.
Paul got rid of the condom and curled around Luke on the bed. Luke was surprised, but not in a bad way. He was so tired of being alone and of feeling like an outsider. He would have liked to blame it on living in a new country, but he’d felt this way his whole life. Lying here with this guy—Paul—for a few minutes let him put down that weight and feel close to someone. Paul’s breath was warm and calm on his neck, and he closed his eyes and relaxed into him. In moments, he was asleep.
PAUL lay next to Luke’s sleeping body and gave himself five more minutes. After that, he would definitely—definitely—get up and go home. He was very aware of all the points where his body and Luke’s came into contact, and he liked lying there imagining the things that he could do to make Luke moan again. It had been a while since he had felt like this, as if he had found a door that led from the real world into a room where he could just “be.” He would love to fall asleep next to this man and love fucking him all over again in the morning, but he’d never get to work in time. Could he call in sick? That wasn’t really him. He was Mr. Responsible, Mr. Reliable, never Mr. Impulsive.
So then what was last night? Paul had always told himself that he would never set foot in a club after he was thirty. He didn’t want to be an annoying old queen like the ones he and his friends had laughed at when they were heady with being young, gay, and out. When you believe you’re invincible, it’s easy to laugh at other people’s frailties. Paul had been so sure that he was going to be one of the lucky ones, and for a while he had managed to have the dream—a “life partner,” his one and only—it was just that the dream had been cut short. Was this all that was left for him? Hanging around clubs and going home with random young men who wanted a quick novelty fuck with an old guy? Thirty-odd more years of this was too depressing a thought, until he looked back at Luke. Okay, it was hard to feel sorry for yourself when you had just fucked something that delicious. Had he really told him he was beautiful? Thirty-six years old, and he still didn’t understand how to play it cool. At least he wouldn’t have the embarrassment of seeing him again.
Very slowly he peeled himself away from Luke and slipped out of the bed. He considered waking him, but Luke seemed deeply asleep and maybe it would just be awkward, anyway. That meant that he had to feel around in the dark for his clothes and try to dress without making a sound. The absolute worst thing would be for Luke to wake up and see him half dressed, sneaking out like a letch. He found his clothing one piece at a time, trying to make sure it wasn’t Luke’s before putting it on.
Luke slowly eased out of his dream and back to reality. Someone was moving around in his bedroom in the dark. His brain caught up with his senses, and he remembered the man he’d brought home last night. A quick check of the bedside clock told him it was 4:37 a.m. He had a choice to make—let him know he was awake and risk awkward exchanges as he delayed him mid-escape, or let him slip out without a word and never see him again. He tried to remind himself of all the times he’d wished a guy would hurry up and go, and be grateful that he didn’t have to work out how to lose this one. But he thought he’d had a connection with this one that Paul clearly hadn’t felt with him. A tiredness came over Luke that had nothing to do with it being the early hours of the morning. He was so tired of it always being so hard, so complicated. It almost made him wish he was still in Chicago with Kit. Almost, but nothing would ever be quite that bad. He lay still with his eyes closed and let Paul go on his way.
Paul caught the change in Luke’s breathing and his stomach plummeted. Why didn’t I wake him when I had the chance? Now he’ll think I’m a total asshole. But it seemed that Luke had just been disturbed in his sleep and was now fully embroiled in his dreams again. Thanking whatever higher powers might exist, Paul quietly edged out of the bedroom door and closed it as softly as he could behind him.
They had left the light on in the living area in their hurry to reach the bedroom, and Paul looked briefly around at the sparse room. Luke’s fresh American accent had curled around his words, and the apartment had the feel of a place where someone stayed rather than a home. He had to admire Luke’s tidiness. It looked as though Luke was one of the few people who really could live in one of those minimalist apartments that always looked so good but was ruined as soon as someone left a sweater over a chair or a pen on a table. Paul smiled. It was probably just as well they hadn’t gone to his place.
Then he realized why he was hanging around. He didn’t want to go. Once he left, it was unlikely he would see Luke again, and if he did it would be an uncomfortable acknowledgement that Luke would probably ignore. He briefly considered undressing again and returning to bed, but had to admit that was not an option. His eyes fixed on Luke’s phone. Next to it was a small pencil pot and notepad. Without giving himself time to overanalyze or doubt what he was doing, he scribbled down a quick note, remembered to add his phone number at the bottom, and left before he could change his mind.
Once Luke heard the door to his apartment shut, he got up to use the bathroom and get a glass of water. On the kitchen counter, he saw a piece of paper left out, and when he picked it up he saw it was a note from Paul.
I’m sorry I have to leave without speaking to you. I start work early and I have to get home first. I really enjoyed being with you last night. If you ever want to meet up again, call me. I hope you do.
His mobile number was jotted at the bottom of the note.
Luke read the note several times, and each time made him smile just a little bit more. He took it back into the bedroom with him and was soon fast asleep.
An emotional tale about a young man trying to moving on an abusive relationship
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