Chapter One

October 2016

Bali, Indonesia

 

“IF YOU’RE going to just sit there and play with your dessert, you might as well come play with me.”

Toby had caught the man watching him several times while he stirred his fork around in some fluffy white cloud of sweetness. Toby had been sipping some fruity concoction…. He loved that phrase. It seemed so fitting at a gay-only resort, The Spartan, to imbibe alcohol in a stereotypical way that also sounded like cock.

“I can see you debating your options. ‘Should I stay and finish my coconut cream pie, or determine whether or not this guy is as good as I imagine he could be.’ Well, not to spoil your cream,” Toby said with a laugh, “but I am that good. As soon as that waiter brings the bill for me to sign, I’ll be heading out to the beach beyond those chairs over there.” He gestured with his chin toward the moonlight shining over the calm Bali sea that lapped at the shores of the resort. “You’re welcome to come… along. It’s an exquisite evening.”

Toby winked at the man, who gazed at him with an expression full of confusion, amusement, and, well, lust. When Toby turned on the charm, few men could resist the invitation.

Just then the Indonesian waiter set the bill down on the table with a nod and a gracious smile. Toby made a production of leaning over the table, resting his arms in a way that was sure to make his modest muscles stand at attention, and cocked his hip out to place his perfect ass on display while he signed the check.

Toby was proud of the body he’d cultivated since he outgrew his gawky teenage phase. It had taken him years to reach that point, sure, but when he gave up on his graduate studies in favor of living as an artist with his good pal Reese Matheson, he had plenty of time to focus on his self-improvement. Physically. What better way to attract potential suitors then to have a body like Ashton Kutcher topped off with pouty lips, a strong jawline, and sultry eyes? Life was much easier when people assumed you were just a pretty piece of ass with few brain cells, and Toby used that assumption to his advantage.

One last lingering glance at his would-be playmate and he made his way out of the pool-side bar and down to the beach, his discarded button-down slung over his shoulder. He heard the distinct sound of a chair pushing back from a table, followed by footsteps. Toby smiled to himself. He had a pocket full of condoms and lube and not a care in the world. Bali was clearly the right choice for his vacation destination.

On the sand it was harder to detect the footfalls behind him, but Toby was confident that he was still being followed. Toby had spotted him shortly after the man arrived the day before—alone, pensive, obviously on his first foray into gay-singles vacationing. He looked about as comfortable as the new kid in middle school on his first day of class. But Toby was intrigued. The guy wasn’t much older, perhaps even early thirties like Toby, which wasn’t his usual weakness.

But there was just something about him. He didn’t look like part of the “community.” The gym may have been a passing fancy, but he wasn’t a regular attendee, and his skin hadn’t seen much of the sun, which was probably smart on his part. But his hazel eyes were alert, inquisitive, and were surrounded by the longest lashes Toby had ever seen in nature. They most likely brushed his cheekbones when he closed his eyes, and they seemed to get lost in his heavy brows when he opened them. Beautiful.

Toby paused at the crest of sand just before it sloped down to meet the caress of the ocean. He breathed in the humid air and caught a hint of smoke from the grills on the back patio of the resort. Then he felt a presence at his back, and he smiled.

“I was hoping you’d agree that you’d had enough dessert.”

The man chuckled softly and moved in so close his chest brushed Toby’s bare back. He doesn’t wax. Perfect. Toby reached an arm above his shoulder and slid his fingers into the man’s dark curly hair. The man’s breath on his neck gave Toby a shiver, and his lips brought on goose bumps. His teeth, well, they caused quite a physiological response. Toby dropped his head back and smiled.

“He bites. I wouldn’t have guessed.”

The man brought his strong arms around Toby’s stomach as he molded the rest of his body to Toby’s back. Toby gasped—someone else was having a strong physiological response.

Toby turned to face the man. “I wonder if he bites anywhere else,” Toby whispered just as the man claimed his lips in a needy kiss.

 

 

THE NEXT morning the rains were relentless. A slip of paper had been pushed under the door declaring an oncoming tropical storm was stronger than previously predicted and informed the guests that a typhoon warning could be in effect later in the day. Guests should remain inside the main building and avoid the beach.

“Darn,” Toby said as he joined his new friend back in bed. “It appears we’re stuck inside. I wonder what we can do to pass the time?”

The man grinned sleepily. Toby had kept him up until the early light of dawn filtered into the room. They’d had appetizers out on the beach and decided to find a bed for the entree. Toby’s had been the closest. After several courses, Toby had taken pity on the man and allowed him a few hours rest. Now they had the rest of the day to explore each other and determine what other types of meal they could enjoy together.

One day turned into two and then three. Toby was elated with the results of the trip. Normally he’d find a partner or two to scratch an itch and he’d spend the rest of his vacation writing or trying to rest his overtaxed brain. But this man was the perfect playmate. Neither of them felt the need to share any personal information—including names—yet they talked for hours between their sexual escapades. They ate together, watched movies, watched other men hook up….

At the end of the week, Toby’s lover was showered and dressed before Toby woke.

“I’m leaving today.”

They hadn’t discussed it. They hadn’t bothered with details. Toby never did, but for the first time, he felt something akin to despair.

“I’m finding I don’t want to let you go.”

His lover bowed his head and put his hands on his hips. He wore faded jeans and worn tennis shoes with a plain white T-shirt. Suddenly Toby had a million questions. He wanted to know where he was going, who he was going home to, what he did for a living—all no-nos in his previous encounters.

“I don’t want to be let go,” his lover said in a sad voice. “But you’ve made it clear that this is it.”

That was true. Several times in the past two days, Toby’s lover had asked semi-prying questions, but Toby had brushed them off or taken a more intimate approach to make him forget what he was asking. Now? He almost regretted not answering him.

Toby stood naked from the bed and approached the man he’d come to think of as Hazel Eyes. He was maybe two inches shorter than Toby and with a stockier build that Toby had become very familiar with over the time they’d spent in each other’s arms. He placed his hands on the man’s jaw and lifted his gaze.

“Trust me when I tell you that you’re better off with the memory you’re leaving with. If you thought that little storm we experienced was a disaster, you have no idea what a typhoon my life is. I can inflict more pain and suffering than one of these cyclones they worry about around here. I have, and I’d never want to do that to you.”

The storm hadn’t ever reached typhoon status, but several trees and powerlines around the resort had been knocked down. They’d been without electricity for the first forty-eight hours, and there’d been some flooding, but only minimal cleanup had been required, and they had barely felt the effects of the storm. He wanted it to stay that way.

“I think we did pretty good weathering that storm together,” his lover whispered. Toby would miss the way his voice hitched when Toby touched him. He’d been a much more vocal lover than Toby expected, and that was a major turn on.

“We did. And I want it to stay that way.” Toby kissed him lovingly, and his heart raced dangerously at the thought of letting him go. But it was the only way. He couldn’t bring anything home from his trip… or anyone. He had rules. That was how he managed to maintain his sanity.

His lover smiled sadly, his lashes wet with unshed tears. “I guess I should thank you for giving me an alternative to finishing dessert.” He shook his head and turned for the door.

Stay. Be more than my vacation pastime. Be more. Say you don’t care that I’m a natural disaster.

His guest looked back once more from the doorway. His sad smile was gone. He closed the door, and Toby fell back on the bed. He buried his face in his pillow and screamed.

“Fuuuuuuck!” He threw the sheets and pillows off the bed and kicked a blanket across the room, but he had enough sense not to wreck the place. Instead he opened his mini fridge, helped himself to all the bottles of booze, leaving the juice bottles behind. He’d drink himself into oblivion for the remainder of his stay—it was that or spend the rest of the time beating himself up for letting that beautiful man walk away and cursing himself for being such a fucking case that he couldn’t even entertain the idea of being in a relationship.