Two: New Things, Old Feelings
After the debrief and post-mission exam, Daniel found himself growing angrier by the second as he went to the locker room to change and go home.
Jason was gay.
Why the hell hadn’t he ever told him? You never told him, either his traitorous mind whispered. Daniel pushed the rational thought away, for once wanting to indulge in his anger and a little self-pity. But for now, he had to think of something else, at least till he could get home and continue the damned pity party.
Jack had planned to come home with him, to tell him all he needed to know about the club, but Hammond had put halt to that. It was personnel review time and it meant that Jack would be hip deep in them for the next few days. Daniel didn’t know if that was good or bad.
He was wondering what to have for dinner and what might be on TV when he heard the slight creak of the locker room doors opening behind him. Daniel half-turned, looking over his shoulder.
“Well, well, well,” he said before catching himself. “Look what the cat dragged in.”
Jason, dressed in civilian clothes, paused mid-step, body language immediately on guard. “Hey,” he greeted, peering at his friend warily.
“Hey,” Daniel greeted back in cold tone as he placed his uniform in the laundry duffle. “I talked to Jack, Jason.”
Jason cleared his throat. “I just stopped by to see him.” He tilted his head, watching Daniel carefully. “He mentioned this weekend.”
Daniel narrowed his eyes as he turned to face him. “That’s all you have to say to me?”
Jason blinked, then looked around the locker room.
“We’re alone,” Daniel scowled.
“Can we talk about this elsewhere?” Jason asked, keeping his voice low.
Daniel breathed heavily through his nose, fuming. “Fine. Wanna follow me home or would you prefer your apartment?”
“Your apartment,” Jason said, clearing his throat. “Better to be on your turf than mine, given that you’re obviously pissed at me.”
“Good assumption,” Daniel said sarcastically.
. . . . .
Jason followed him home and by the time they got there, Daniel wasn’t as pissed off as he had been. Jason’s reactions to his anger had somewhat cooled the feeling of resentment, but Daniel could still feel it lurking.
Closing the door, Daniel threw off his jacket and went for the kitchen. Opening the fridge, he grabbed a beer for Jason and a wine cooler for himself. Handing Jason the brown bottle, he felt a tremor of desire when Jason’s fingers brushed his own. This was new. Why hadn’t he been this attracted to him before, outside of the dreams?
“I’m sorry,” Jason suddenly said, setting down the bottle as he took Daniel in his arms, hugging him tightly. “I didn’t want you worrying about me.”
Daniel closed his eyes as Jason held him and returned the hug before breaking away. He stared into his dark eyes, finding both hurt and what he figured was guilt. “You can take care of yourself, Jason. I thought you trusted me.”
“Me? What about you?” Jason asked defensively.
“I lost a wife just before we met so I wasn’t exactly in the mood for sharing my sexual preferences.”
Jason winced. “Okay, I get that. But it’s been two years. Why couldn’t you come to me about stuff that was bothering you?”
Daniel sighed with resignation because he didn’t have an answer. He walked into the hallway, heading for his bedroom, and Jason followed.
“Talk to me, dammit.”
Daniel sat down on the edge of his bed and placed his cooler on the end table. He didn’t answer right away as he gave Jason a look of frustration. Pulling off his tennis shoes, he shook his head. “It’s embarrassing, Jason.”
Jason walked over and sat down next to him. “Isn’t that what best friends are for? I won’t judge you.”
Sighing, Daniel laid back, hand over his eyes.
“Shit,” Jason said, getting up.
Daniel lifted his hand and looked at him, then rose with alarm as Jason walked out of the room. “Where the hell are you going?” he asked, following.
“I’m leaving,” Jason said, going for the jacket he’d tossed over the back of the couch.
“No, you’re not,” Daniel said, stepping in his way.
“Talking goes both ways, Daniel,” Jason accused, angry now. “I’ll go first. The reason I didn’t tell you was because I felt you had too much on your mind. Whether I could take care of myself or not is irrelevant. You’d still have worried about me. What with all your other stresses and mourning Shau’re, I didn’t wanna add to it.” He paused, hand rubbing the moisture from the bottle onto his jeans. “My gaydar’s off or something. I had no idea you were bi, Daniel. If I had, I would have shared because you would have understood. Straight guys can’t.”
“Everyone’s gaydar is off,” Daniel allowed. “I didn’t know about you, or Jack, and Jack didn’t know about me.” He paused, remembering the history between the men. “I take it you hooked up long before joining the SGC?”
“Yeah, but no major commitments. He was married, after all.”
Jason looked a bit shy about answering and for the first time, Daniel looked at him with new appreciation. Jason really was a fine-looking man with a very nicely built body. He wondered what his cock looked like hard and was suddenly reminded of the weekend. Would he find out? Better question was, would he have to wait? Taking home strangers was something Daniel had never considered, but friends was an entirely new kettle of fish.
Jason noticed his staring. “Daniel, your turn.”
Daniel blinked, then shook his head. “Sorry, uh …” He cleared his throat and began to unbutton his shirt as he walked back down the hall. “I need a shower so can this wait a few?”
Jason followed him into the bathroom. “No, I’ll just talk to you while you shower. You know how I hate sitting around and waiting.”
Daniel felt himself relaxing, wondering suddenly why he’d ever thought talking to Jason would be a problem. Worries tended to die away when they talked, just as they were now. He smiled mischievously. “Then strip down, too, Jace, ’cause I’m not walking around naked by myself.”
With that, he shucked off the rest of his clothes, leaving them in a pile on the floor. But Jason picked them up with a shake of his head and took them into the bedroom.
“Neat freak,” Daniel called out as he turned on the water and stepped into the shower.
“Slob,” Jason shot back when he returned.
Daniel wet down his hair, loving the feel of the hot water as it cascaded over him. “Only with my clothes,” he said, spitting water.
Silence filled the bathroom until Jason broke it with a question. “Do you want to talk about the club? I think it might help.”
Daniel was confused. “Why?”
“Jack and I talked, Daniel. He told me about your dreams. Or rather, what he thinks keeps waking you up.”
Daniel tensed, absently aware that he was currently soaping his dick and balls. “I … never explained.”
“Well, your silence does. They’re sexual, they have to be.”
“Do they?” Daniel frowned with annoyance.
“Yeah, because torture would have been talked about. You told me about a lot of things, Daniel, but the one thing you’ve never talked about was Hathor. Is that what the dreams are about?”
Daniel dropped his mouth open, snorting with astonishment. “No, Jason, the dreams aren’t about Hathor.” With a sigh, he gave in. Partially. “They’re about men. Having sex with men. In a variety of ways. And the dreams are unbelievably real.”
Jason smiled to himself. “You mean you’re waking up with magnificent hard-ons.”
“Only sometimes,” Daniel said, hating the blush that crept up. He covered it with water, letting the shower beads hit his face. Oddly, it was cooling.
“So, figure out what happens the rest of the time.”
Jason cleared his throat. “I don’t mean to be insensitive but these don’t sound like dreams that should wake you up.”
“I get them three or four times a night, Jason. I haven’t allowed myself to think about men for a very long time but my subconscious has decided otherwise. I’m dreaming of sex, all kinds of it, and it’s amazingly …”
“There’s got to be more to it than that,” Jason asked, puzzled. “You can’t be dreaming of something ordinary. So it has to be unusual. I wish you’d stop stalling and tell me–“
“Jason, I can’t,” Daniel sighed, halfway through washing his hair.
“Bullshit, just tell me. Who’s in the dreams, Daniel?”
“Who’s in the dreams?” Jason asked again, raising his voice in anger.
“You and Jack!” Oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod. He didn’t just say that. He didn’t. Ohgod.
“Me? And Jack?” Silence, then a very soft, “Holy shit.”
Daniel didn’t know what to expect then, but what he didn’t expect was soft laughter. He scowled with offense as he yanked open part of the curtain. “What the fuck is so funny?”
Jason was sitting on the closed lid of the toilet seat, naked, and the expanse of all that muscular tanned skin hit Daniel’s gonads like a house on fire. He swallowed, calming down, especially when Jason held up a hand, not looking at him as he shook his head.
“I’m sorry, Daniel,” he said, clearing his throat. “It’s not that, it’s just the irony.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. This should be perfect, he told himself morosely as he ducked back under the shower to rinse his hair. “Irony.”
“Oh man, if you only knew what Jack and I talked about at the club.” Suddenly Jason sobered and he took a deep breath. “When I started going to the club, you and I were already friends. And one night, Jack and I … well, we were in the middle of having sex when he suddenly asked me if I’d ever thought about fucking you.”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open and he fell back against the wall in shock. “And?” he heard himself ask as he curled his fingers around his stiffening cock. Thank god the shower curtain was blue and not white.
“I’d never allowed myself to think of you as anything other than one of my closest friends and …”
“And?” Daniel asked again.
“I love you, I find you gorgeous, but I thought you were straight. I know some guys love to fantasize about deflowering straight guys and so do I sometimes, but not you. I … couldn’t. Seemed like a violation. Then Jack asked me that question. In the middle of sex.”
“I can imagine,” Daniel whispered, feeling an intense dread come over him as well as a keen disappointment. “Put a bucket of cold water on you.”
“You can’t be serious!” Jason said, getting up in a flash and opening the shower curtain. The look on Daniel’s face made him freeze, his mind suddenly forgetting everything but who was exactly in front of him. All wet. All gorgeous.
Peripherally, Jason could see everything else and his cock began to fill. With one hand still on the curtain, he reached in with the other and cupped the back of Daniel’s neck, pulling him over. Nuzzling his cheek, he whispered, “I got off like you wouldn’t believe, Daniel.”
Daniel closed his eyes, relief filling him one moment, desire the next. He literally heard Jason swallow and became very aware of the way he smelled, the way he sounded. The fact that his voice sounded so sensual.
Everything was about to change between them and there was no way in hell Daniel was thinking about stopping it. “Jace?” he asked as a sudden, intense heat coursed through his balls.
“What?” Jason asked as he turned his face slightly, edging their lips closer.
“I’m not mad at you,” Daniel told him, lips moving over sandpaper stubble. The fact of it was making him harder.
“Okay.” Jason turned his head a little more, the corners of their mouths touching.
“What?” Jason breathed.
Their lips parted, barely touching, and the lust that flooded Daniel’s body made him shake with it. “Jason–“
“Daniel–” Jason said just as their open, wet mouths met in a mutual claim.
They wrapped their arms around each other, kissing fiercely. Jason meant to pull Daniel out of the shower, but Daniel resisted, pulling him in.
Daniel moaned deeply and moaned again when Jason echoed him. His mouth, surrounded by water droplets now, tasted so damn good. The cold tile against his back braced him as Jason’s very warm body pressed against his own. Daniel needed more of him, needed friction, something, and he slapped his hands over Jason’s ass, groaning at the sheer fact of him.
When he began to grind their cocks together, Jason’s hands came up to frame his face, deepening the kiss as his hips worked hungrily against Daniel’s. Breaking for air, gasping, Jason looked into Daniel’s eyes, over his face, then back to his eyes.
There was so much to say and it was reflected in his eyes. Daniel felt the same. But neither could talk, their minds and bodies too distracted.
Jason moved first, biting at Daniel’s chin, then down his throat, his chest, pausing to lick and play at his nipples, now dark with arousal. When Jason finally moved on, and Daniel realized where he was going, he threaded his fingers through Jason’s wet hair and closed his eyes.
“Jason, yes,” he whispered. But when Jason reached his cock and wrapped his lips around the head, Daniel jerked, yelling “Oh god!”—and clapped a hand over his mouth.
The walls of his apartment were thin. And he’d forgotten about that. “Damn it,” he whispered harshly. Looking down, Jason was eyeing him as he brushed his lips over his shaft.
“Noise travels?” Jason asked.
Daniel growled his answer. First Jack, now Jason. “Goddamn it. I don’t want to be quiet.”
“I could gag you,” Jason teased as he stood back up, his hand encircling Daniel’s cock instead. “But it shouldn’t be during our first. I want to hear you when I suck you, when we fuck. Guess we’ll have to settle for this.” He placed Daniel’s hand around his cock, then kissed him again, this time harder, filling Daniel’s mouth with his tongue as his hand went to work with agonizingly blissful expertise.
Daniel was torn between the wonderful spikes of pleasure Jason gave him and the beautiful, silky texture of Jason’s cock. His hand returned to old habits and before he registered what was happening, Jason was thrusting needily through his hand and Daniel was matching his speed.
Thrust for jerky, needy thrust, they brought each other over the edge and Daniel came first, moans muffled inside Jason’s mouth as he spilled over Jason’s fingers. Tightening his fist, he pulled Jason’s orgasm from him, loving the sharp, little moans his touch elicited.
Neither spoke yet, the air filled with nothing but the beat of the shower and their harsh breathing. Finally Jason released him, then Daniel followed. He was about to step under the nozzle to wash off but Jason pulled him in for a loving embrace. It was then that Daniel realized they were both shaking and he half-smiled, nervous because of it.
In Daniel’s ear, Jason whispered, “Jesus,” before moving to capture his mouth again.
Daniel was surprised and felt odd for it. He’d thought that perhaps this was just an itch, something they both wanted to scratch, but deep down, he really wanted it to be more than that, just as he wanted more with Jack. So the question was, if Jack and Jason were agreeable, could he handle having more than one lover?
Jason must’ve sensed something because he tensed and pulled away, brow furrowing. “You’re analyzing again, aren’t you?”
“What?” Daniel asked. “No.” Jason gave him that look Daniel knew so well … just never in this context. “Okay, yeah. I am, a little.” He rinsed off before continuing, giving Jason a little signal telling him to wait. As soon as both were out of the shower, Jason didn’t want to wait.
Drying off, he asked, “Is it about what just happened or something else?”
“It’s about this happening again,” Daniel confessed, and at the disappointed look Jason gave him, Daniel wanted to hug him for that. “No, Jason, it’s not that I don’t want it to. It’s just that I’ve never done more than one guy at a time, if you see what I mean.”
Jason suddenly smiled, a smile that grew extremely wicked. Daniel replayed what he’d said and Jason started to chuckle–knowing damn well what Daniel had meant because he pushed at him playfully. Daniel backslapped his stomach and Jason faked an “oof.”
“I meant seeing you and seeing Jack, not both together.”
“Yeah, but …” Jason gave him a more serious look, filled with expectation and hope. “Would you be interested in that? Both of us? As in … a threesome?”
Daniel could’ve sworn Jason blushed by the lowering of his gaze but there was no color to his face. Was he playing? he wondered. Daniel thought about the question though and the mere thought of having both of them in his bed, or elsewhere, brought a surge of warmth through his veins.
“I … would like it, actually.”
Jason gave him a coy smile and leaned over to kiss him. “So would I. Two beautiful men. What’s not to love?”
In the kitchen, Daniel handed Jason the onion and tomato while he ripped open the package of hamburger and began to slap together patties. “So, the club is a sex club, right?”
“Well … yeah, I guess so. But it’s whatever you want it to be, basically.”
Daniel thought about it, what would such a place offer him. “What’s it like?”
Jason began slicing the onion, trying to focus on the answer instead of Daniel’s body, currently clothed in cut-offs and nothing more. “Think of a Gentleman’s Club, only there aren’t any prostitutes and all the clientele is male. It’s formal in some situations. Guests always arrive in suits, like businessmen, and the reason for that is so that no one can guess what we do for a living. Our public lives remain secret unless we want to share that knowledge with whomever we hook up with. You still have your black suit, right?”
“You look damned good in it, so wear that. The club houses courts for tennis, racketball, and basketball. They have a swimming pool to die for, and a weight room with just about everything, so pack the gym clothes and your swimming trunks.”
“You guys actually play sports there?”
“Oh yeah. I’ve even managed to get Jack to play a little tennis.”
Daniel smiled broadly. “That’s some feat. He can’t stand tennis.”
“He can’t stand watching it, but I’ve convinced him it’s a fun type of foreplay.”
Daniel turned to find Jason grinning down at the tomato he was now slicing. “Okay, fess up. What’d you do?”
Jason looked over at him, the memory of it obvious in his clouded eyes. “C’mon, Daniel. You can guess. There’s sweat and musk and the challenge to make your opponent run all over the damn place. I tried to get him interested in playing basketball, but he wasn’t. However, the owner is supposed to be putting in an ice hockey rink and Jack’s just wild about that.”
Daniel grinned. “I can imagine. So when that happens …”
“Major turn-on. We’ll be lucky to make it off the court before he grabs us.”
It was Daniel’s turn to clear his throat. “Us.” He placed the burgers on the grill atop the kitchen island while thinking of Jack all sweaty, breathing hard, full of testosterone and aggressiveness. “God.”
When Jason turned to him, Daniel suddenly wanted to kiss him and had to turn away.
“What’s wrong?” Jason asked.
“Talking about it is making me …”
“What?” Jason asked, at first perplexed, but then he got it. “Oh. Right.” When he looked down, his gaze caught Daniel’s smooth muscular thighs and Jason imagined holding on to them as he … “Okay, um, switching subjects.” When Daniel grinned knowingly, Jason wanted to kiss him but it wouldn’t stay at a kiss and he knew it. “What do you want to talk about?”
Daniel had no idea and searched his mind frantically for something. “Um, what were your teammates snickering about in the mess hall the other day.”
Jason bit his lips together before saying, “They played a joke on one of Sam’s scientists and are now awaiting retribution. You can be sure I gave them their proper punishment, but privately, I gave those boys kudos.”
Daniel’s grin grew even more as he shook his head in a mock-scold. “Which scientist?”
Jason blew him a raspberry. “You’ll do that disapproving thing.”
“No, I won’t. Tell.”
Daniel groaned and closed his eyes. No wonder Sam hadn’t been all that pissed off. The man was a scatter-brain. “I’m not disapproving.”
“I heard Carter wasn’t pissed. That true?”
Daniel grinned. “No, not pissed, but if your boys do anything else–“
“Don’t worry. Jack’s already put a stop to it.”
The abrupt pause made Daniel suspicious. “But?”
“They can only get away with another one if he’s clued in on what’s going on.”
Daniel snorted. “Figures.”
For the rest of Jason’s visit, they talked and joked, but stayed well away from the subject of sex as well as each other. Having decided to wait till the weekend for anything more, Daniel still found it difficult. Build up was usually something he liked.
When he went to sleep that night, his mind took him to startlingly erotic places. Another dream had him hard and aching, thrashing around in bed as the events played out.
. . . . .
Daniel was having sex, but it wasn’t the real sort. This was a dream, a normal dream, where he was being fucked and fucking others but it was done in what someone would call a ‘dreamlike’ state, as if he’d been plugged into an opium hookah. There was barely any feeling as he moved and unless he had reason to focus on something specific, everything around him became blurred and undefined. Especially the men. Their faces were anonymous and their bodies took on definition only when Daniel’s concentration moved over a particular part.
Whispery, feather light touches brought a shiver over his body. It was then that Daniel came out of the fog of one dream and into another, this one much more visceral and tactile. Looking down, he passed his fingertips over the skin pebbled with goose bumps, then looked up the trembling body he straddled to find Jack, restrained to a bed. A red scarf blinded his eyes and his wrists, bound to padded leather cuffs, were attached to chains that descended from the ceiling.
Daniel stared with hungry surprise when he found clothes pins attached to Jack’s nipples.
He could feel Jack beneath him, shuddering, yet there was another view of him, one where Daniel watched the scene. He felt both the lust of interaction and the thrill of voyeurism.
It was a strange, disorienting view, but he liked it, being able to do both. Odd how dreams worked like that, and from somewhere in his mind, he knew that this was a dream. And because he knew, he took advantage of the situation.
Without a second thought, he reached over and flicked at one pin, then the other, and achieved his goal. Jack let out a deep groan that sent a tingling sensation through Daniel’s balls.
“Daniel, don’t tease,” Jack begged.
He begged, and because he did, Daniel felt his cock pulse. He looked down at himself to watch his erection grow, then encircled the shaft with his fist and pumped twice. Shudders ran through his body, making him echo Jack’s groan.
“This is what you wanted, Jack, ” Daniel heard himself say as he raked his nails lightly over Jack’s abdomen. Jack arched, lips parted to emit a throaty exhale. He was so beautiful, Daniel thought, lying there restrained.
“Isn’t it?” he prompted, dragging his nails a little harder over Jack’s ribs. The goose bumps increased.
“Yes,” Jack answered in a straining, breath-holding way. He was trying to hold back.
Daniel slapped his thigh, making Jack jump. “Don’t do that. I told you to let go.”
“You know what I want,” Jack said through clenched teeth.
Oh, Daniel had made him angry. The twitch of his cock also said he liked it. “I do,” he said as he moved to kneel between Jack’s legs. Lifting one from behind the knee, Daniel brought the sensitive inner thigh to his mouth and licked before giving the upper skin a good, hard slap.
Without hesitation, Daniel immediately pinched the head of the right clothes pin, making Jack curse. He wasn’t fooled. Jack liked this. His stiff, leaking cock said so.
“What did I tell you about protesting? You gave me permission back at the beginning. Gave me the rules. This is how you wanted it, Jack. Now, this is exactly what you’re going to get.”
He pinched the left clothes pin, then abruptly removed it to suck the nipple. Hard. Jack squirmed and writhed, breath catching and releasing in curious little hitches. Daniel could feel Jack’s pre-come smearing over his belly and the very fact of it made him growl.
“You’re mine,” he said, lifting both of Jack’s legs, pushing his knees to his chest. He looked down at his cock, Jack’s puckered hole, and zeroed in. “Why is that?” He pushed and Jack was forced to swallow his answer, panting as Daniel slid into his ass, balls-deep. When he swiveled his hips and snapped in hard, Jack arched once more.
“Because I’m yours,” Jack said in a rush, the words mixed with a moaning sound Daniel had never heard but loved nonetheless.
“Mine,” he whispered, again and again, as his hips came forward, their relentless, bruising drive a counterpoint to the pain delivered at Jack’s nipples. One nipple might be free but Daniel knew it throbbed. It was time for the other one. He removed the pin and leaned over to capture nipple between his lips, damn near coming from the feel of his nipple in his mouth. When Jack made no sound, Daniel worried the nub between his teeth.
“Bastard!” Jack yelled, and more pre-come spilled from his dick.
Daniel moaned agreement and continued to suck as he worked his thrusts faster, deeper. “God, you’re mine, all mine. Have never wanted anyone the way I want you.”
Then grabbing the sheets by Jack’s head, Daniel spread his knees and slammed harder, muttering, “Feel me, Jack.”
Jack’s shout deafened his ear and Daniel knew they were close. He knelt back and placed Jack’s thighs over the crooks of his arms before pounding into him, fast. Mesmerized by the feel of him around his cock and the sight of him–mouth stretched wide open, a silent scream escaping–Daniel was shocked out of it by the sudden explosion of come as it erupted in a stream from Jack’s cock.
In slow-motion, the shot arced, landing in a splattered line over Jack’s abdomen and chest. Then another shot came. The third one made Daniel jerk as it hit his own chest and face. The shock of it, as well as the warmth, made Daniel let out a long, drawn-out yell of satisfaction. “Never let you go! You’re mine, do you hear me?”
There was no answer, but suddenly the room turned black and Jack was gone. Daniel jerked again, now realizing that the heavy resistance to his arms came from the weight on his wrists. His bound wrists.
He lay face down, restrained once more by the colored silk. It was the dream again. The stranger stayed just a little longer but he still left Daniel unsatisfied …
. . . . .
Daniel bolted awake, his body hard and alive with sexual tension. Wincing his way to the bathroom, he washed his face before heading for the kitchen. Warm milk and brandy, he thought, hoping to calm his body if not his mind.
Where the fuck had that dream come from? Why images of dominating Jack? For the same reason you came like a freight train just as he shot his load all over the goddamn place, his traitorous mind whispered. You wanted it to happen.
Guiltily, he admitted to the fantasy, but the dream had felt so damn real. As Daniel thought about it, he knew the dream had turned him on. His painful erection was telling him that. So what the hell did that say about his reawakened sexuality? Had he always desired bondage and domination?
“No, not always,” Daniel sighed aloud. Once in a while, he’d played with bondage, but nothing to that extreme, nothing with chains and clothes pins.
Things change, he told himself. The heart knows. But does he want it for real? Daniel couldn’t answer. He only knew he’d wanted Jack in that way. After all, Jack was the alpha male and there was an inherent need in most men to be the top dog. The pack mentality. Daniel knew he was no different.
And right then, he wanted to tie Jack down and fuck him till he screamed through an orgasm. A guilty flush rose to his cheeks, followed by a very arousing memory. Of Jack’s face when Daniel had been on top of him, in the tent off-world.
He thought about that now and grabbed hold of his cock, jerking off in the kitchen, eyes half-lidded, picturing Jack on the table, face down. Chained. Just when he came, Daniel’s legs gave out and he dropped to his knees, a moan broadcasting through the quiet apartment. Exhaustion suddenly overcame him and as he climbed back into bed, Daniel realized he’d forgotten all about the sleep aid. Or the need for one.
. . . . .
Work was a distracted struggle the next day. Jack’s proximity at breakfast was annoying, and just before lunch, Jason had come by to talk about the inconsequential. Both times had left Daniel with a hard-on he couldn’t explain. Neither man had done or said anything that could possibly be construed as flirting, but Daniel’s body didn’t seem to care.
The afternoon briefing had him giving Hammond answers a little too brusquely and by the time Daniel reached his office, he knew Jack would come calling. Part of him hoped that Jack would show up because Daniel wanted to talk more about the club. But for the most part, Daniel just wished he’d stay away.
Every time he’d seen Jack or Jason, his mind went straight to the weekend, and what might happen. Probably would happen. Growling at himself for such unprofessional behavior–god, he was acting like a teenager–Daniel buried himself in his work.
He was startled out of it only when he realized his bulkhead door was closing. Jack. He took a stool next to Daniel’s lab table and elbow on the top, propped his chin in his hand. “So. What’s up?” he asked.
The absurdity and irony of the question made Daniel snort. “Not now, Jack.”
“Daniel, you were damn near rude in the briefing.”
Startled, he blinked at Jack. “I was?”
Jack seemed to feel a little sheepish for the accusation. “Well, just about or near enough. What’s up?”
“My dick,” Daniel muttered as he looked away, trying to focus on his computer screen.
Jack started to rise and Daniel knew he meant to come near him. He put up a warding hand quickly. “No, stay right there. Don’t come near me.”
With an evil smile that made Daniel want to hit him, Jack sat back down. “More dreams.”
Don’t look at him, Daniel ordered himself. “Oh yeah.”
Jack’s interest perked up. Daniel wanted to him then, too. “The usual or?”
“I …” Daniel began, then paused and let out a heavy sigh. “You were in one, and this came out of nowhere. There was no beginning, no end.”
“Dreams are like that,” Jack said with sympathetic annoyance.
“Yeah, well, what happened in this dream I’ve never done in real life. I’m getting sick of dreaming about shit I’ve never done.”
“That’s what fantasies are about, Daniel,” Jack answered, a soft smile on his face.
“Except I’d like to have these fantasies while I’m awake and the ones lately are … well, I’ve never even entertained them while jerking off so …”
“So …” Jack prompted when Daniel paused again.
“Okay, but fair warning. If you get offended, or worse, get a hard-on, don’t blame me.”
“Duly warned,” Jack said impatiently. “Spill.”
With another snort from the irony, Daniel described the dream, omitting any elaborate descriptions, trying to make the telling of it as bland as possible. Given where they were, he had no choice. By the time he was finished, Jack’s cheeks were an interesting pink. Daniel couldn’t tell why and that was aggravating.
“So … bother you or?”
“Or,” Jack replied, clearing his throat. “How’d you know I’d …”
Daniel blinked again, stunned, and shook his head. “I didn’t. But my subconscious either picked up on clues I’ve been ignoring or this is one hell of a coincidence.”
“Where you’re concerned,” Jack said drolly, “there’s no such thing as coincidence.”
Daniel let out a breath and kept his eyes averted. Silence filled the room but eventually, Jack let out a forceful breath and stood up. “There’s an upside to this,” he said as he walked toward Daniel.
In a second, Daniel was up, backing away, looking around in a panic. “What’re you doing?”
Jack paused, that evil grin back. “Nothing.”
“Then do your nothing over there. Don’t come near me.” Jack stood his ground but came no closer. “What upside?”
“At least I know you’re into kinky sex. Now I don’t have to ask.”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open and stayed that way as Jack smirked at him and left his office. He returned to his chair and sat down with a thump, his mouth snapping shut. “Bastard.”
. . . . .
Over the next few days, Daniel’s dreams left him blissfully alone and he was able to resume some sort of normalcy. But Friday came quickly and Daniel found himself back to being distracted and nervous, wondering what to expect. He was changing into his civilian clothes when Jack and Jason entered the locker room they shared.
“Daniel, you’ll be ready by six, right?” Jason asked.
Daniel cast a quick glance at Jason. “Six?”
Jason pushed at Jack’s shoulder. “I thought you told him.”
“I did,” Jack defended.
Daniel frowned at him. “Except you said 7:30, Jack.”
“Uh, no, I said we should arrive by 7:30 and I wanted to get there before then.” He looked down at his watch and tapped it. “Can you be ready by six?”
Daniel gave them a nervous smile. “I think I can manage it.”
An hour later, nearly at six on the dot, Daniel was ready. Clean shaven, smelling faintly of musk, with his short auburn hair almost completely dry, he paced anxiously between his living room and kitchen, fidgeting with his kohl silk tie. He looked at himself in the mirror for the fifth time, hoping he looked okay. The dark leather shoes were not new, but they weren’t scuffed or worn, and his black suit and pale bluegrey shirt hadn’t been worn since he’d taken them to the cleaners.
Glasses in his inside breast pocket, Daniel had opted for his contacts. He felt good, thought he looked good, smart, but he was nervous as hell. There’d been moments when he’d nearly called Jack to cancel, but pride and self-esteem refused to give in to the anxious fear. He could do this. He could get back into life, find anonymous partners, maybe make a connection or two. But the men he really wanted were about to arrive.
He checked to make sure he had his wallet and keys, then double-checked the contents of his hand luggage. When lights flashed through his living room window, Daniel dropped the bag, his nerves flaring anew.
“Stop it, dammit,” he berated himself.
Grabbing his bag, he double checked for his keys once more, then left the apartment and headed downstairs. Jason and Jack got out of Jack’s black king cab, watching Daniel as he approached. Jason let out a wolf whistle and Daniel started to grin at him … until he cleared the glare of the headlights and got a good look at his friends. He then stopped dead in his tracks.
Holy shit, he murmured to himself, and his dick agreed.
Jack wore his dark grey suit with matching tie, the shirt a dark teal. It set off his handsome looks with an uncanny accuracy. Jason’s black suit and tie were amazing, and the dark crimson shirt seemed to make his black hair somehow darker.
Damn, the man looked good in red, Daniel thought. Jason was the only man he knew who really did look good in red. Jack, on the other hand, looked very good in dark green or blue. Air Force blue, specifically. Forest or emerald green, for that matter.
Daniel thought his friends looked handsome as hell and ….by God, if they weren’t completely …well …edible. He hadn’t used that word in reference to anyone in a long while and it wasn’t too big a surprise for him to use it in relation to his friends. Given their appreciative smiles, Daniel suddenly relaxed. Just a bit. It felt good to be admired.
“You guys look great,” Daniel told them as he got closer to the truck.
Jack and Jason both swallowed. “Are you sure we have to be somewhere ….right now?” Jack asked no one in particular.
“I second that,” Jason whispered. “You look drop-dead gorgeous, Daniel.”
Daniel smiled at him, feeling a particular heat rising in his belly as Jason spoke the words. “Thanks.” He suddenly wanted to hear it again, in bed, whispered in his ear as he was fucked. He cleared his throat and walked toward Jack, giving him a puzzled look as Jack continued to gape at him.
Clearing his throat, Jack said, “What Jason said.”
Daniel continued his puzzled look as he got into the king cab’s backseat. Jack was still staring at him as he got into the driver’s seat so Daniel blandly said, “You couldn’t have said that the last time I wore this?”
Jack grinned, his expression reflecting in his eyes through the rearview mirror. “I did. You just weren’t there to hear it.”
“Don’t think that counts,” Jason said, shutting the passenger door and throwing Jack a teasing grin.
“You can always walk.”
“You can always make me,” Jason said, jogging his brows.
Whatever Jack was going to say abandoned him, leaving only a smile. From the backseat, Daniel looked between them and an amazed smile started to spread across his face. Going by their tones of voice and the looks they gave each other, he was suddenly faced with the reality that there’d been something going on between his best friends. Jason and Jack had told him, of course, but it was one thing to be told and another to see it. Yet Daniel could swear he’d witnessed something more, or maybe it was just his imagination.
. . . . .
Just north of Boulder, Jack drove down a long, winding private road, lined on either side with tall fir trees. As the trees thinned, Daniel could make out a huge expanse of well-conditioned land, dotted with several gardens of differing types; florals, greenery, shrubs, and all reflected the coming sunset with remarkable color. The beauty of it only added to the anticipation and nervousness Daniel felt about the evening and what it possibly held.
“Just about there, Daniel,” Jack said as he curved right and merged onto another road, this one paved with expensive dark stone.
Daniel stared down at the ground, beside him and up ahead. “Jesus, Jack, who owns this?”
Jack snorted. “Patrons aren’t privy to that, Daniel. At least, the ones who aren’t super rich.”
Daniel shook his head wordlessly as he continued to scan his surroundings with curiosity. Shorter firs began to line the road and soon it widened, ending at high, sophisticated double iron gates. On either side, a brick wall disappeared beyond the trees.
“That wall encompasses the entire estate,” Jason said. “The fence has perimeter cameras and alarms. This place is protected.”
“One hell of a job,” Daniel said, nodding absently with respect, and thinking estate was probably an understatement.
Jack rolled down his window and slid a card through an electronic port, then punched a set of numbers on the keypad next to it. There was a hum and a click and the gate’s two sides opened inward.
“This is rather elaborate for a club,” Daniel commented as they drove through the gate and continued on. He couldn’t see the building, obscured by trees, but his imagination was coming up with all sorts of examples. He half-expected to find a castle.
“I wasn’t kidding about their security,” Jason said. “And you’re right, it’s a hell of a job. Damn near as strict as Cheyenne. A lot of rich folks require privacy.”
Daniel blinked. “To tell you the truth, I’m surprised we’re allowed in. We’re not rich.”
“No, but we don’t need to worry about being broke, either.”
Daniel shrugged agreement. “That’s true. But what kind of privacy are they protecting?”
“‘Phobes,” Jason said simply.
“Right,” Daniel answered, feeling embarrassed that he’d forgotten exactly what the club was for. They would indeed need to feel safe and secure in a place like the one they were going to.
“It’s to keep away from the riff-raff you’d find at a typical club,” Jason went on. “Like hustlers, private detectives, reporters, that sort of crap.”
“But how can they ensure that unless they do indepth background checks,” Daniel said. “I mean, you two couldn’t have gotten one and I can’t.”
“No,” Jack answered, “but this place runs mostly on recommendations by those who have had those background checks. We’re cleared by that and because we’re military and working in an unnamed top secret facility.” He winked at Daniel in the rearview mirror.
Daniel frowned. “So who recommended you, Jack?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Jack said with a grin.
Daniel was about to grill him when his attention was directed elsewhere. The trees lining the drive suddenly opened up to reveal an immense lawn and a large, beautifully crafted white building in the distance, complete with four marble columns at the front entrance. The driveway was specially paved with grey and black stones, all arranged in beautiful keyhole designs.
Daniel’s mouth dropped. “Where the hell are we, Jack? Who the hell lives here?”
Jack watched Daniel’s astonished expression through the rearview mirror. He sent an indulgently pleased look Jason’s way and Jason sent it back. They so loved surprising Daniel with something really nice, especially when Daniel’s surprises were rarely good ones. “As I said, Daniel, I don’t know,” he said. “It’s run by a few individuals who take care of the estate.”
“Six years,” Daniel mused. “I can’t believe you’ve been coming here that long.”
The mansion was shaped in a long crescent, the ends curving only slightly inward. Several immaculately landscaped gardens surrounded the building and the stone driveway ended in a turnaround that circled a large oval fountain accenting the front of the house. Surrounded by a continuous marble bench, the statues within the pool of water were of mermen frolicking in stone waves. The vertical streams of water came not from the statues but from under the surface of the water and Daniel thought that a more elegant, tasteful touch. In his opinion, spitting statues seemed gaudy everywhere except Europe.
Jack pulled up at the wide front staircase leading up to massive wooden doors and a valet promptly appeared. Jack handed him the keys as other staff members came through the door, greeting them with nods and smiles while taking their luggage.
Entering the building, Daniel’s mouth dropped open once more as he found himself surrounded by opulent decorations and exquisitely crafted architecture. Whoever owned this place was more than wealthy, and for a moment, it reminded him of the house in the film, Rebecca.
As they walked up to the reception desk, Daniel smiled at the tall, willowy blond behind the desk, dressed impeccably in a plain but tasteful suit.
“The owner’s name wouldn’t be George Fortiscue Maximillian De Winter, would it?”
The blond winked at him in return. “I can assure you, sir, that if Mister De Winter owned this magnificent estate, his servants would have long since been replaced.”
Daniel chuckled and held out his hand. “How do you do.”
“It’s a pleasure, Mister Jackson. I’m Carlyle, the concierge,” the man greeted back.
Startled, Daniel glanced at Jack, then back to Carlyle. “How’d you know my name?”
“You arrived with Mister O’Neill, sir. We have been expecting you.” Carlyle then placed a few forms on the desk along with a card that looked like American Express Gold card. “Mister O’Neill has already provided us with the recommendation. This is your membership card.” Gesturing to the elegant leather-bound guest book at Daniel’s right, he added, “Please sign in. This is required upon arrival.”
Jack and Jason were already signing in and after they were finished, Daniel signed under Jack’s name.
“We missed dinner, I take it?” Jack asked Carlyle.
“I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience, Mister O’Neill, but as a reminder, the kitchen will be open until midnight.”
“It’ll be room service then,” Jack grinned.
To Daniel, Carlyle pointed off to their left. “Through the connecting foyer and to the right, you’ll find the lounge. That never closes.”
The man nodded back. “Feel free to check out the estate yourself, sir, and if there’s anything you need, myself or one of the other staff will be happy to help you.”
“Come on, Daniel, let’s show you the digs,” Jack said, winking at Jason.
“Digs. Ha ha, very funny,” Daniel answered absently, his eyes on Jack. “So tell me, Jack. Exactly what’s required for a recommendation?”
“An assurance that you’re honest and clean, medically and legally.”
Daniel snorted, but the answer was satisfactory. Moving off to their right, he followed Jack and Jason down a wide hallway and up a magnificent flight of wooden stairs inlaid with marble strips. On the second floor, they turned right and moved down the long corridor, stopping halfway down in front of a set of double doors on the left.
Jack slid his access card through the key port and with a wicked grin aimed at Daniel, opened the door. “Welcome to my parlor.”
Daniel smirked at him as he stepped inside the immense room. Their luggage was already inside and Daniel stepped around it absently as he took in the opulence that matched what he’d seen so far. The room was decorated with rich earth tones, primarily browns and reds, and the soft carpeting under his feet was a soft gold. The effect of it all gave the room a sexual undertone. Further, the cream-colored walls were made of sectional frames, and set within every other frame was a mural painted in the classical style, each mural depicting one or two, sometimes three, naked men in various romantic poses. None of the depictions were overtly sexual; no hard-ons or sexual acts, but their very artistry screamed sex. Daniel found it beautifully done.
“This is amazing,” he murmured, shaking his head.
Across from where he stood were two immense bay windows with molded seat benches and champagne lace curtains, gathered to the side to let in the light. The windows extended the length of the room and between them sat a long oval oak dining table with four plushy upholstered chairs. Daniel walked over, running his hand over the surface, then the orange glow of the sunset caught his eye. He went to the right window and looked outside. There was a deck beyond the window and he pulled back, finally catching sight of two doors that framed both windows. Moving again to his right, he opened the door and walked out onto the half-moon veranda, taking in the cooling air and caught the scent of grass, flowers, and the tang of water nearby.
Over the short rail fence that ran along the edge of the decking, Daniel beheld a grand landscape of green lawn edged by a forest beyond. He could also hear the soft rush of water. “There a river nearby?” he asked, finding Jason at his shoulder.
“A small one that circuits the property. Puts me to sleep when I’m here,” Jason said, putting his arms around Daniel’s waist. He gave him a quick, firm hug and planted a kiss on his cheek. “You like?”
Daniel smiled at him, then looked at Jack as he walked up to their left and leaned on the railing. “Absolutely. Hell, I’d be content just sleeping here.”
Jack’s right cheek creased from his grin. “‘Just sleeping’ is not why we come here, Daniel.”
Giving Jack’s profile a long look, Daniel then squeezed Jason’s arms and turned round to look at him. “You two really don’t just come here for the peacefulness of this place?”
Jason shook his head slowly, his expression serious. “No. If I wanted peace and quiet, I’d go camping.”
“Ditto,” Jack said, turning away from the view and moving up beside Daniel and Jason, placing his hands on the small of their backs. Leaning in, he planted a kiss on the corner of Jason’s mouth, then another more fully on his lips when Jason turned his head.
The affection was obvious and Daniel’s stomach tightened with envy. Annoyance reared up, hating to have this moment soured by such a feeling, but he couldn’t help it. The need for flight started to fill him and he started to step away but Jack’s hand stopped him, as did Jason’s, which now cupped the back of his arm.
“Don’t,” Jack said, saying nothing else as he leaned in more slowly and laid a soft kiss on Daniel’s mouth.
Daniel felt a flutter in his stomach and he barely had time to think about it before Jason’s kiss did the same thing. Licking his lips as Jason pulled back, Daniel looked back and forth between them, seeing such love and concern that it made him uncomfortable. A fact that disturbed him. Letting out a nervous laugh, he said, “I’m not used to this.”
“Maybe we can fix that,” Jason told him.
Jack planted a quick kiss on Daniel’s temple before stepping back. “C’mon. It’s time to relax, not get wound up.” He paused and grinned. “Unless it’s the right kind of wound up.”
Daniel grinned with agreement and followed him back inside, Jason behind them. He looked around the room as a flash of light caught his eye. The light came from one of the many accent lamps built into the walls, made to resemble oil lamps. In the ceiling, an eight-bulbed ‘gas’ chandelier hung suspended by a brass chain.
“I’d love to have one of those,” he said.
“It’s quiet, too,” Jack said.
Before Daniel could ask what that meant, a gorgeous man exited a room to his left. At first, Daniel started to wonder if Jack and Jason had set him up with someone, but logic corrected him as he took in the man’s black trousers, white shirt, and stylish bow tie. A member of the staff? he asked himself but set the question aside as he made a quick assessment of the man. Early thirties, six feet tall or so with a slender, muscular build. Dark hair framed an angular face which was shadowed by a light mustache and beard that gave him a bad-boy roguishness.
The most stunning feature was the man’s eyes. A light hazel-blue, almost green, depending on the light. Along with the long black lashes and curved, sensuous mouth, Daniel found the man alarmingly beautiful. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d ever seen a man so gorgeous.
“Giancarlo,” Jack said, offering his hand. “Nice to see you again. How’re you doing?”
“Signore Jack,” Giancarlo smiled and shook his hand, then Jason’s. “Signore Jason. I am well, and it is a great pleasure to see you both again.” Turning, he rested his gaze on Daniel’s face, then lowered and raised his eyes, giving him a slow once-over.
The scrutiny gave Daniel a pleasant thrum of warmth over his body. At that moment, he wanted to take him into the nearest bed for a week. “See something interesting?” Daniel teased.
Without looking away from him, Giancarlo asked, “Who is this beautiful man?”
“Daniel,” Jack said, trying not to grin his head off, “this is Giancarlo Ricci, our Suite Manager. Giancarlo, this is Daniel.”
Daniel held out his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“Ciao, bello,” Giancarlo said, bringing Daniel’s hand to his mouth, giving the knuckles a feather light brush of his lips. All the while, his eyes never left Daniel’s. “Please tell me you will be staying the weekend.”
Daniel swallowed, finding it hard to ignore the accent. “I’ll be here. Suite Manager does what exactly?”
“It is a position created by the owner, Signore. I am in charge of the room valets and to make certain every club member has what he needs.”
“For the entire estate?”
“No, Signore, this estate is too large,” Giancarlo smiled, still holding Daniel’s hand. “I see to this floor only. You will allow me to see to whatever you need, yes?”
Daniel laughed, unable to keep from flirting back. “Only if it’s you personally.”
Giancarlo smiled widely, extremely pleased. “I shall see to anything you desire.”
“And if it’s not on the menu?”
“I shall create a menu just for you.”
Daniel started laughing, Giancarlo with him, both men knowing they’d taken the flirting to outrageous ends. Jack and Jason were rolling their eyes, proving it true. “I’d like that,” Daniel said with a rare open smile.
Giancarlo returned the smile and slowly let go of Daniel’s hand before turning away to head for the door. “Paulo will be here shortly to take care of your evening meal,” he said to Jack, then with a look over his shoulder, directly to Daniel. “If you have need of anything, do not hesitate to ask.”
Jack grinned knowingly at Daniel before slipping Giancarlo a large bill. Nodding his head, Giancarlo closed the door behind him.
Daniel let out a breath and palmed his crotch. “Holy shit.”
Jason and Jack grinned their heads off. “He’s such a huge flirt,” Jason said.
Daniel’s brows rose in surprise. “Flirt? He wasn’t serious?”
“Oh, he was quite serious,” Jason nodded.
Jack gave him a mischievous grin. “And if you’re not careful, he’ll have you eating out of the palm of his hand.”
“Jesus, that won’t be hard,” Daniel said, running a hand through his hair. He picked up his bags and looked at Jack for directions. “So … where do I unpack?”
Jason pointed at the door that Giancarlo had come through. “That’s yours. The one to the left of it is the bathroom,” and he opened the door to show him. “Here,” he went on, opening the next door, “is our bedroom.”
He looked at Jack when he said it and found Jack looking a bit guilty. “Don’t,” he said, mirroring Jack’s earlier admonition to Daniel. Turning his gaze to Daniel, he explained. “We always stay in the left bedroom. They’re identical, so it’s not the better room.”
Daniel didn’t miss the pronoun. “We.”
“Sorry, Daniel,” Jack said, coming out of his sudden attack of guilt. “It’s what we come here to do, me and Jason. The spare bedroom’s always been for when we’re not together, but it’s now yours.”
Daniel shrugged, quickly getting over the small jealousy but the feeling of being left out remained. He could feel the melancholy of loneliness linger around the edges and told it to fuck off. “Thanks,” he said, heading for his room. Reaching inside the door frame, he found the light switch and turned it on. Two bedside lamps turned on, bathing the room in a soft glow. He dropped his bags on the large, king-size bed and looked around the elegant room.
The bed was typically the centerpiece, with a russet comforter, several matching pillows, and a thick, oak four-poster frame and rounded headboard. The two bedside tables and the dresser across from the foot of the bed matched the bed frame. A desk sat along the far wall, a small table lamp set amidst writing materials. Looking around again, Daniel noticed that over the dresser was one more mural, this one of a more graphic nature, with two naked men playfully engaged in foreplay on a forest floor. In the background, a satyr watched, one hand on his huge dick.
Swallowing, Daniel turned back to the bed and absently pressed his hand on the mattress, testing it for comfort out of habit. But what came to mind was not sleep. He thought of Giancarlo, lying there, shirt open, pants down, hand around his cock. Daniel swallowed again.
Daniel heard footfalls behind him and without turning said, “It’s a nice room.”
Jack walked past him, clearing his throat as he went to the far wall and touched a wall switch. Overhead, the center of the roof retracted, revealing five feet square skylight. “In place of a window.”
Daniel grinned and looked over his shoulder, at Jason who stood in the doorway, arms crossed. “Which you have.”
“It’s not better, Daniel–“
Grinning, Daniel held up his hand, interrupting. “It’s okay, Jason.” He looked around the room, then stared at Jack as he unzipped a bag. “I like it.”
“But?” Jack asked, walking toward him.
Jason came forward too, placing a hand on Daniel’s shoulder, caressing it. He met Jack’s gaze as he stopped next to them at the foot of the bed. “Would it be better to forget about our usual–“
Again, Daniel interrupted, turning to face them both. “Don’t do that.” Taking a deep breath and pushing the envy and loneliness further away, he said, “You two come here together, expecting to be together. Don’t change that just because you invited me.”
“But–” Jason started.
“Let’s just see how it goes, Jason,” Jack replied, eyeing Daniel carefully. “I’d planned on being with you tonight anyway … unless Daniel …”
Daniel shook his head as he picked up his suitcase and moved between them toward the dresser, dropping the luggage on top. “Don’t change your plans. If you did, it’d feel too much like charity or a favor and I don’t need either.” He turned, finding their eyes wide with surprise. Putting on his stern face, he said, “Got it?”
“Got it,” Jack said, Jason nodding.
“Good, now shoo,” he said, gesturing at the door. “Go, order dinner.”
Jason and Jack walked out, giving him a look as they left. Alone, Daniel sighed, knowing that all of this was going to take some getting used to, but the one thing he didn’t want was for them to start walking on guilt-driven eggshells. Looking back at the bed, he wondered what Giancarlo had been doing in here. Curious, he walked to the left bedside table and opened the top drawer. Inside he found an array of items. Warming lube, plain lube, and about a dozen different condoms.
Opening the bottom drawer, he found only a sleeping mask. For some reason, the mask reminded Daniel of the dream with the stranger fucking him with the dildo. He closed his eyes and slid his hand down, but at the last second, veered away from his cock. He didn’t want a hard-on, not yet, and he didn’t want to fantasize. He wanted something real.
“You hungry?” Jack called out from the other room.
“Not just yet,” Daniel answered back. “No, not just yet,” he repeated to himself, going to the dresser and opening the middle and bottom drawers, filling them with the contents of his suitcase, except for the bathroom bag, which he set on top of the dresser. Sticking the suitcase under the bed, he emptied his shoulder bag into the top dresser drawer and dropped the empty bag next to the dresser. Rubbing at his stomach, he knew he could eat, but he still wasn’t hungry. Nerves were taking care of that, at least for the moment.
Jack appeared in the bedroom doorway, hands in pockets, just as Daniel started to take off his jacket. “Are you sure you’re not hungry?”
Daniel looked over at him, taking in the casual look. Jacket and tie gone, sleeves rolled up, top three buttons undone. Shit. With a sigh, he turned away and looked around for the closet. Finding it annoyingly by the door, he moved over, suddenly wishing his peripheral vision wasn’t working. Hanging up his jacket, he asked, “I think I’ll take a walk around the place without my jacket. Will they have a fit?”
When Jack didn’t answer, Daniel cast him a quick look as he went back to the dresser. He also had no idea what the hell he was doing at the dresser. Rolling his eyes at himself, he turned back, asking “What?” and was startled to find Jack standing a few feet away. He let out an exasperated sigh. “I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
“I can’t help it.”
“I know, I know, can’t take the training out of the man. So, gonna answer my question?”
Jack gave him a gentle smile and reached out to touch his face, his neck. “Yes, you can roam around without the jacket. Just keep your key card with you at all times.”
“No problem,” he said, tapping the card he’d placed in his pants pocket. He sensed something else from Jack and asked again, “What?”
“You sure you don’t want something to eat?”
Daniel shook his head as he rolled up his own shirt sleeves and removed his tie. “Later. Right now, I gotta go for a walk. Don’t know how long I’ll be.”
“Daniel,” Jack began but Daniel shook his head.
“I’m fine, Jack.”
He was, too, and Jack could see it, but the finer truth was that he needed to get the hell out of there, get some fresh air. He didn’t want to be in the room when Jack and Jason finished their dinner and left him alone while they went into their bedroom. He wasn’t all that comfortable with the idea. He hadn’t even gotten used to the idea that they had a relationship, and right now, despite what the rational side of his brain told him, he knew that if he stayed, he’d feel rebuffed and insulted and that he simply couldn’t tolerate. Instead, he’d leave, take a look around, relax and think about where he wanted his personal life to go. Besides, Jack brought him here to have a good time. Daniel had had his one-night stands and he thought he’d outgrown them, but the atmosphere in the club might just bring them back. The only question remaining was whether or not he’d become too exclusive. After all, just who could he find that would measure up to Jack and Jason? Perhaps he should leave the matter to his hormones.
. . .
Downstairs, Daniel felt that strange sexual excitement he’d once had a long time ago. This wasn’t a club in New York and it wasn’t London or Rio de Janeiro, but it had the same feel and the same sexual anticipation. Visiting Oxford and Cambridge, he’d often gone out on the hunt just to look. It had been nice to watch, look, and wait for that tight, warm feeling deep inside his balls. That anxious thrill of possibility that had sometimes resulted in bringing someone back to the hotel.
This club was no different, except now, his hunt would be more about renewal, regaining the scent and getting familiar with old practices. On the main floor, he headed for the dining room and took in the decor, observing the staff working invisibly. The room was quite large, having several different types of seating arrangements, from large tables to settings for one. A bar was set up and he got himself a snifter of cognac, thanking the bartender, then nodded a few hellos to members of the club that were just leaving.
About ten men were still dining, although the food had long since gone. Making contacts or scheduling liaisons, most likely. He casually scanned them, a habit he’d picked up not from Jack but from his anthropology education. It was ironic, in a way, just how much like Jack he really was. He assessed, Jack threat-assessed. Two sides of the same coin.
The notion made him smile as he walked, remembering how he’d told Jack about that back in the beginning of their friendship. It had been a sort of personal vindication to see Jack pleasantly surprised by the knowledge. Daniel didn’t act like a soldier but in his post-graduate training, he might as well have been one. He just wasn’t one who dressed up in fatigues and carried weapons everywhere.
He walked out of the dining room and through smaller rooms one could call dens. There were glances by the men he’d pass and he’d either smile or nod or both, but he hadn’t yet stopped to chat. As he walked, Daniel was suddenly struck how alone he felt. That continuously annoying feeling that partnered him all of his life. Being the outsider. The thought bothered him so much that it took him a moment to realize that the room he’d just entered appeared to be the estate’s library.
It was an enormous room filled with tables, overstuffed leather chairs, and wall-to-wall bookshelves. Inside were more men, talking, laughing, flirting. Most were paired off, and a few were sitting in luxurious chairs, alone, reading. Daniel nodded to them and was surprised to find that he felt more attracted to their presence than the wall of books. Their eyes were on him; they were checking out the new guy and Daniel had no illusions that it was true.
Turning his attention to a wall, he pulled a book from one shelf to admire the old leather binding. Dickens. Putting it back and taking down another, Daniel found that he couldn’t concentrate on what was in his hand, but on Jack and Jason. They acted as if they were casual lovers, but they were lovers on a permanent basis whether they wanted to admit it or not. He’d been told to think nothing of it, but how could he? How could they? Sharing a bed for more than one night made them lovers and it wasn’t nothing, not to Daniel.
Stuffing his hands in his pockets and wandering over to the wide window, Daniel took in the dark view of the grounds, wondering what he’d find upstairs if he stayed away long enough. Part of him wanted to go back upstairs, to discover them having sex, perhaps indulge in some voyeurism. Just thinking of that private kink sent a flush of acknowledgement to his dick and balls. He couldn’t help but want to see them together. Sooner or later, he’d pin them down with the lover question, but right now, it wasn’t paramount. What was more important was to stop thinking of their business and start thinking of his own.
Turning away from the window, Daniel caught the gaze of a man watching him from a nearby chair. Absurdly, he wondered if the place was filled with men who looked they’d walked out of a modeling catalog. This man was just as exquisitely handsome as Giancarlo, but different. Looking like he was in his mid-twenties, the man had a beautiful face with full lips and steady, focused eyes. The sort Daniel would love to have focused on him as he fucked him. He swallowed, looking away, but inevitably, he returned to the man sitting there, his gaze still resting on Daniel, observing. Or assessing. Daniel was suddenly hit with the idea that the man might be military. The way he watched him was not unlike Jack or Jason and Daniel couldn’t help but assess him in return.
Square shoulders, nicely filled out; the skin lightly tanned and a bit uneven, telling Daniel he didn’t use those tanning booths. A smudge of facial hair darkened his upper lip and cleft chin and his short brown hair reflected gold from the lamps. Nice effect, Daniel thought, and thought the same about his suit. He wore his black pinstriped suit casually, jacket open, the tie gone. He did indeed look like a model out of some magazine. As if sensing his thoughts, the man cocked his head, and after a second of hesitation, smiled and raised his brown bottle of ale, nodding to him. Daniel lifted his snifter and nodded back. Had he passed the man’s own assessment? Daniel couldn’t help but wonder what he saw.
Suddenly nervous, Daniel ambled past, hair rising on the back of his thighs as he was certain the man was watching him walk away. Returning his glass of cognac to the bar, Daniel made for the stairs, stopped and looked over his shoulder, toward the library entrance. No one was there, but he had a feeling that the stranger had been. Prickles rose on his skin and Daniel instantly thought of the dream with the stranger who left him unsatisfied.
As he got to the top of the stairs, he thought again about what it would be like to fuck that man he’d just seen. Images came to him, of being half-dressed, feeling him on a bed or against a wall, and that only the foreplay. By the time he’d reached his suite’s door, Daniel was half-hard. He paused for a moment as he looked over his shoulder once more, half-hoping to see that young man coming toward him. Disappointingly, there was no one there.