Chapter One



DEMETRIO LEANED back in his chair, casting his gaze over the impossibly blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Even the foam was whiter and brighter here. He craned his neck to scan the horizon. Nothing but birds, boats, and beautiful people as far as the eye could see. He still couldn’t believe this small strip of paradise was his. Clear as glass, the sea screamed health and vitality. Even now he could see a yachting family in the distance, the women bobbing in the water, their bright bathing caps looking like gigantic flower heads cast into the waves.

He stretched, tilting his head up, his gaze fixed now on the sky. Blue and more blue. He felt his neck muscles loosening. Ah… better. A couple of bones snapped back into place as he shook out his shoulders and rolled his neck. 10:00 a.m. and his day was actually just ending… or should have been.

But who could sleep with paradise so near?

Now was the time he’d usually be in bed, but since moving from London to Ibiza, or as all the locals and knowledgeable travelers called it, Eivissa, six months ago, he found that he got by very well on catnaps. An hour here, two hours there, and he was good to go.

Demetrio enjoyed a leisurely, delicious breakfast of pan de horno, the local island bread, and a couple of hard-boiled eggs at his favorite table. For a moment he felt a small twinge of regret that he’d sent his date from earlier in the morning back to his hotel room. Silly goose was probably still sleeping off the chupito shots.

He bit into a small warm, buttery loaf from Passion Café. The bread, normally reserved for the eatery’s signature English breakfast, they sold Demetrio and a few other locals whole loaves as a favor. He could detect the scent of olive oil in the bread, and he put his nose to the loaf in his hand. Ah, bliss. He enjoyed the quiet luxury of having his nightclub terrace empty and all to himself after a long and busy night. It had been a bit jarring crossing over from the off-season winter months to full-scale service once April rolled around, but now he found he liked the madness. Demetrio didn’t care that he had an early license and had to close by 3:00 a.m. each day. The gay couple with the club in the historic “upper town” building opposite him had a late-closing license, and they were welcome to it.

Their license, however, expired at six o’clock in the morning and at six thirty June through August. The law of the island was that clubs were forced to close from seven until four thirty in the afternoon. This left a lot of club goers feeling aimless, but a lot of beach places had opened up with beds and sofas and did well in the summer months with daylong breakfast menus.

“¡Hola, Demetrio!”

“¡Hola!” he called out to the Sugar guys who sauntered past his terrace with cheery waves. Man, they were sexy. Demetrio was intrigued by the gay porn star, Juan-Juan—whose real name was Chenche—and his husband, Stefan, owners of Sugar, the hottest gay bar on the island. Despite their 6:00 a.m. curfew, there were still people lingering on Sugar’s main terrace. That’s how Eivissa rolled. The quaint Spanish island, with its ancient, crumbling walls and dedicated pockets of fishing villages, had a hard-partying heart.

The old town center had become the gay capital with many clubs and cafés now spreading down to the popular gay beach, Playa Es Cavallet and beyond that, Playa d’en Bossa, where Demetrio and may other club owners had taken over closed businesses. Chenche and Stefan had given up their crumbling space in the old town center and relocated with great success to the beach. Rumor had it Chenche and Stefan had called in numerous favors for their coveted license.

It didn’t bother Demetrio. In fact he was surprised how much he didn’t care. As a real estate property developer back home, he’d been a very competitive guy working himself into an early grave. Diagnosed with a multitude of anxiety and stress-related illnesses, he’d heeded his physician’s advice and taken a year off work. It was astonishing that at the age of thirty-five he could be in need of rest…. Not that he was getting it.

He was working harder than ever in some respects, but for the first time in his adult life, Demetrio felt real pride and satisfaction in his work. He felt sincere joy in each and every day he spent on the island. He loved the surprises each night brought as he opened up and served his customers at Club Dino. He was already getting rave reviews on internet travel sites from the staid Frommer’s, slightly more hip TripAdvisor, to the hot new Hipmunk and Trippy websites. All the online travel magazine sites had sent freelance writers to the island, and his club had its own iPad app. He’d been pleased that in a couple of short weeks his club was getting such positive attention. Even foodies rated him highly on Yelp and local Spanish blogs.

And he was even beginning to have a life. On the rare occasions he had a date, they’d slip over to Sugar, where Demetrio enjoyed the luxury of somebody else mixing him a high-voltage cocktail. Partying was fun but not expensive on Eivissa. The restaurants were also sublime. Packed into small spaces, they each produced an astonishing array of mouth-watering and decadent meals. Nothing, however, compared with Chenche’s hand-mixed drinks. He and his fellow waiter boys were always gorgeous, and like the owner of Sugar himself, half-dressed.

Demetrio returned his attention to his iPad and the article he’d been reading on the evolution of underwear. Underwear was considered way too much clothing on Eivissa. Demetrio approved of loincloths and minuscule cock-hugging underpants. He studied the medieval images of codpieces on his screen. They were quite alluring too.

He cringed as he studied images of long johns. Since he’d left London, the harsh weather, frozen pipes, chilblains, and thermal wear had become a distant, horrific memory.

Sipping his coffee, he found himself smiling. He’d just spent the last three hours dancing with a hot, handsome traveler. They were all just incredibly sexy on Eivissa. Demetrio and his pals liked to joke that ugly people were turned away at customs.

Demetrio savored the gritty sediment on his tongue. He loved every drop of coffee, even the dregs. Why did everything taste better on this island? His gaze drifted over to the café next door across from him on Carrer de la Mediterránia. Sometimes he worried when he saw their many tables filled if his weren’t, but he didn’t feel a real competitiveness. If anything it seemed the café owners treated their customers like family. Many places were like that. In spite of the jolly party atmosphere, there was a staunch tradition of service and customer pleasure here. Mind you, this was typical of Spain in general.

Eivissa, which had its high season in June and quietly went to sleep each October, had been a real eye-opener for Demetrio. April had become the new month for visitors who preferred their partying with fewer people around. One could savor the splendid orchards that were a big part of the island, and the heady scent of lemons strong on the breeze. By June it was too crowded and hot to linger in some of the best scenic spots.

After visiting each summer for the last few years, Demetrio had hankered to move here. He’d found his club via an online ad on craigslist and bought it after taking a comprehensive virtual tour. He’d moved here, shocking his friends and family, and spent months renovating the place. He’d been open exactly two weeks and was already seeing the beginnings of a swift return on his massive financial investment.

He turned his head to the statue of Sant Pancras the patron saint of the island’s many bars and clubs, which his stonemason insisted should have pride of place somewhere in the building. “The saint enjoys a good glass of wine,” Emile had insisted. Demetrio hadn’t noticed this, though he dutifully left a shot glass of the red stuff each week. He enjoyed adhering to the local customs, though it hadn’t been easy finding the perfect place for the patron saint of restaurants and bars. Sant Pancras couldn’t face walls or glass, according to local legend. Once Demetrio discovered every commercial venue featured the local saint, he sought to find the appropriate location for his statue. His Sant Pancras stood behind the outdoor wet bar, gazing out to sea, just like Demetrio.

He watched Chenche and his crowd of friends jump into the ocean. He thought about joining them. Truth be told he kind of had a crush on Chenche, who had an open—very open—marriage to Stefan. They had been together ten years before marrying in Madrid the previous summer. Demetrio had met them on one of his trips to Eivissa, and they’d encouraged him to move here.

Demetrio knew that when Chenche made trips to the US to shoot porn during the island’s off-season, he also booked himself out as a rent boy. He attended each client accompanied by Stefan. Demetrio knew all this because he read the gay blogs… and because, like on any small island, there was gossip.

Chenche didn’t rent himself out on Eivissa. Demetrio didn’t quite understand since a lot of gay travelers knew who he was and looked him up, but there was a line and he’d drawn it. Eivissa was home. That didn’t mean he didn’t fool around. He did. But his porn-star career was a big open secret.

As hot as he was, Demetrio couldn’t have handled a guy like Chenche as a long-term mate. He wondered how Stefan did it… then realized Stefan was so enamored he’d probably put up with anything just to keep the guy close.

They were a great couple, and in spite of their high-flying sex life, they were good businessmen, terrific friends, and great hosts. Their bar was superhot for a reason.

“Demetrio!” Chenche called out to him.

He laughed, waving back.

“Come and swim with us!” Chenche beckoned, not taking no for an answer.

A swim would be nice, now that he thought of it. He held up a finger, shut down his iPad, deposited it inside the club on the bar, and closed up everything. He’d resisted his date’s efforts to stay and have some fun in the sack, namely because the guy had been wasted. Now Demetrio was happy he’d exercised good moral judgment. He wandered down Carrer de la Mediterránia n his shorts and flip-flops, sunglasses pushed high on his nose.

The beauty of his new home never failed to astonish him. The once-walled city, built by the North African Carthaginian Empire in the seventh century, was topped on its highest peak by a cathedral and the still-walled city square. Both were equally impressive and were Eivissa’s calling cards.

Once the Romans had taken over the western portion of the Mediterranean, a new empire was ushered in, and Eivissa embodied the unhurried, uninhibited passion one associated with a tropical island. In recent years gay travelers had begun to flock here, and gay men and women moved to the island to find themselves. Here they found freedom, acceptance… even love.

Demetrio had found the first two things and secretly hungered for the third.

Perspiration dotted his forehead and the back of his neck by the time he reached the tiny curve of the bay of Playa den Bossa.

Thanks to Sugar, Demetrio’s bar attracted a good, steady stream of spillover clients who liked trying new places and enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere of Dino’s. Demetrio had kept the name when he bought the club and tried to keep its crumbling Spanish interior, but he and Emile had been forced to do a lot of work to keep it looking that way. His patrons loved his cheese and wine nights, and he adored their appreciation. He really did owe Chenche and Stefan a great deal. They were friendly, supportive, and encouraging. They’d even given him Emile’s number and that of a fantastic electrician who’d helped rewire his building.

He shucked off his shorts, leaving only his bright-yellow Speedo on. He caught Chenche’s predatory grin as he jumped into the sea. Chenche reached out to him as Demetrio hit the frigid water, planting a big wet kiss on his lips beneath the rolling waves. Demetrio hoped his cock didn’t reveal the huge attraction he felt for Chenche. He was cold, but his dick was still on red alert. That’s how hot Chenche was. It also, not for the first time, struck him as very telling that the man’s name, Chenche, meant “conquer.” How apt.