GEOFFREY Radcliffe stared intently into the mirror, grimacing at the reflection, then wincing as the grimace accentuated his laugh lines. Laugh lines, c’mon, just call them wrinkles. He ran his fingers through his straight, dark hair and froze. Oh shit. He peered closer at his hairline, holding his hair back with his hand and angling his head so that his temples were just inches from the mirror. A healthy dose of grey splashed on each pulse-point, while more isolated strands were beginning to snake through his conservative hairstyle. When had that happened?
Far from narcissistic, he was embarrassed by his sudden interest in his appearance, and even more embarrassed by what had prompted it. God, he felt like he was a kid back in school again, mooning around over the Big Man On Campus. Jesse Sullivan. His one and only boyfriend as a young man; his first blissful, and eventually heartbreaking, relationship that thrust him firmly into the more socially accepted side of his bi wiring. Geoff sighed at his image one last time before giving himself a mental shake and retreating to his desk, staring blankly at his laptop’s screensaver, then reaching out with a finger and nudging the touchpad, bringing Jesse’s e-mail back into glaring focus.
Dear Geoff, it began. Such a polite and generic opening to something that rocked the foundations of everything he had made himself believe for the past two decades.
I can’t believe it’s been so long, over 20 years. I never thought at the time that we’d fall so completely out of touch when we went our separate ways.
Separate ways? Geoff snorted, rereading the missive for the umpteenth time. That was putting it mildly. Nothing like a little revisionist history.
I’ve wanted to get in touch with you for a long time. But what finally did it for me was hearing my mom talk about your divorce. Ironically enough, mine just went through as well.
She also said that your parents mentioned you’re coming back for a week over the holidays, and I’ll be at home then as well. I’d really like to get together. Since there’s going to be the usual houseful back home, I’ve volunteered to stay at a hotel.
Geoff felt a disconcerting shock of lust burn through him at the thought of Jesse and a hotel room. He fought to breathe normally, reminding himself he was at work, and surreptitiously adjusted his half-hard cock in his suit pants.
We have a lot to catch up on, and I’m hoping that you want to see me as well. Give me a call, my numbers are listed below, and let’s set something up. I’ve missed you, G-man. Hope to hear from you soon. Jess
Jesse was going to be home for the holidays, at a hotel, and they were adults now…. Merry Christmas to me. Geoff scrubbed viciously at his face. He needed to get a grip. There was nothing in the note to hint that this would be anything other than a reunion of two old friends. For all he knew, the whole incident in their youth was just Jesse having a one-time fling, a bi-curious growth experience. Yeah, it had burned hot at the time, but Geoff was obviously not what Jess had wanted long-term. Jesse made that abundantly clear on the night he got engaged, the night he revealed to Geoff that he was going to be a father before the year was out.
Geoff felt that old, familiar pain twinge deep inside at the memory, the casual manner in which Jesse had related the life-altering secret he’d been keeping from Geoff for months. His girlfriend. Oh, he’d been so innocent, blinded by the charisma and the intensity of Jesse’s focus on him, a late-bloomer who had never attracted attention from anyone before. Eager for any time with Jess, he’d accepted his frequent, vague explanations for being busy.
It was only in the aftermath, in the flurry of small-town gossip that flew when the pregnancy and shotgun wedding was made public, that he put the whole story together. Jesse had been dating Jennifer for months. It was love at first sight, wasn’t the first time that two crazy kids got carried away and did things out of order, at least he was doing the right thing. That was the prevailing opinion in town, anyway.
So Geoff had sat woodenly on the pew at the church, his face carefully blank but his heart crying inside, as the boy he thought he loved gazed into someone else’s eyes and made his pledge to her. Geoff had fooled everyone with his act, even Jesse apparently, because afterward he had given Geoff a hug in the receiving line with no guilt in his eyes, clapping him casually on the back and saying that he’d call him when they got back from their honeymoon.
Geoff began making his escape plans the day after Jesse’s news, and headed off to his university town a month early, claiming he wanted to settle in before term began. He left before Jesse got back and asked his mom not to give out his number to anyone, wanting to make a clean break. There was a hint of sympathy in his mom’s eyes, as if she had known, but they never discussed it and she had respected his wishes. Jesse’s wedding day was the last time he had heard from Jesse directly, although Geoff occasionally heard details of his life from his own parents, who still lived in the same small town with the Sullivans.
He had followed suit soon enough, dating girls in college until he found the one he wanted to settle down with, marrying Susan soon after their graduation. He had loved her, his broken heart had found solace in her gentle nature, and they had been good companions until quite unexpectedly, after almost seventeen years of marriage, Sue had found herself madly in love with another man. Their parting was as amicable as their marriage, and Geoff wished her well. He had dated a couple times since the divorce was final, always women, but nothing lasting.
He had never again touched another man, tried not to let his mind run over those frantic, explosive youthful encounters with Jesse, except occasionally in his most deeply-kept fantasies. Now those old, faded memories flared to new life, settling into his viscera with uncanny accuracy. He groaned softly as he shifted in his desk chair, swiveling away from the door to reach down to give his stiff dick a quick rub and adjustment through the fabric. A lick and a promise. A lick… ah, fuck. He heard the tap at the door a moment before it opened, and quickly removed his hand, spinning back toward the visitor slowly, nonchalantly he hoped.
Face flushing, he nevertheless kept his countenance neutral as he arched a brow in question at his administrative assistant, Kimberly. “Yes?”
She gave him an assessing look but then shrugged. “I have your mail sorted, some hard copies that need signatures, and your flight info for your trip.” She approached the desk, setting everything down in the usual places before glancing at his laptop. “Have you gone through the messages I forwarded? Anything you need to kick back to me?”
He reached out casually and closed the laptop down, turning on his desktop monitor instead. “Nothing yet, I have a few things to go through first. You can, uh, delete anything from today on your end.”
“Sure thing.” She moved back around the desk, then paused and looked back at him. She was a striking woman, tall and beautiful in a way that would only improve with age. They had a comfortable and friendly working relationship, and he thought, not for the first time, that it was a shame she did nothing for his libido. He had been damn lonely since well before the divorce, and it was starting to get to him if an e-mail could send him into this state of arousal.
“Anything else before I take off, Geoff?” she asked across the desk, and something in her questioning and sympathetic eyes made him pause. For a wild moment, he considered confiding in her about his current confusion.
He wrestled with himself briefly, but the reserved habits of a lifetime kicked in and he shook his head. “Have a nice weekend, Kim. I’ll see you Monday.”
“Oh,” she said, memory evidently jolted. “That’s right. Just a warning, I’ll be in late on Monday. I have an appointment. It’s on my Outlook calendar, but I know you always forget to check there.” She winked as she backed toward the door.
“Well, I probably would’ve remembered to check eventually,” he grumbled distractedly, flipping his laptop back open.
“No, you would’ve just called my cell. And I probably won’t be able to answer.”
“Why? One of those woman-type annual things?” he asked before he thought, then flushed even more as he realized what he just said. “Whoa, that was rude. Sorry. None of my business.”
Kim laughed out loud from the doorway. “You’re hilarious, boss. Nope, just a hair appointment. I’m having my color touched up, and I always turn off my phone while I’m there.”
Color touched up? He perked up at the thought. Shit, maybe he should get his hair done before the trip home. He unconsciously ran his hand through his hair again, stopping to linger at the temples. Nah, what the hell am I thinking? I’m no prima donna.