"Is that for me?" The man standing in front of the easel stared pointedly down at a certain area near Peter's groin. Peter stood there wearing the "Hot Sausage" Nude Male Grilling apron, gaping like an idiot. He knew he was gaping, knew he wasn't hiding his shock at all. He just couldn't seem to do anything about it.
Chris? He'd thought that meant Christine. The man standing in front of him had a disarming grin, and twinkling brown eyes. Dancing eyes. Laughing gaze. Middle-aged maybe, although it was hard to age him exactly. Despite the touch of grey in his dark hair, the man appeared strong in the arms and shoulders.
The man put down the paintbrush, and then wiped his fingers on an old cloth. Inspecting his digits, he judged them good enough and stuck out a hand. "Christopher Hunter. Sorry about this, but you're my sister's idea, and I generally do what I can to make her happy."
Christopher waved a hand, gesturing at a chair. "Sit, sit. No formalities here."
Peter stood at the side of the table, dithering. He'd done a few chores and helped Christopher make some sandwiches. He hadn't expected the man to set out two plates and to pour two large mugs of tea. The offer of food didn't go unnoticed by his stomach. Even if he felt on edge, he'd had nothing but three slices of semi-burnt bread all day. Still, he didn't feel comfortable about sitting. Christopher apparently worked out his predicament.
"I'm not worried about those sweet cheeks touching the seat. Sit. Tuck in. I'm not eating all this alone, and besides," those dark eyes flicked down and then up, "I doubt you've had time to eat today."
Trying to ignore the mention of his sweet cheeks, Peter said, "I could have had my fill of cream cakes earlier."
Much to his surprise, Peter did.
"Poor girl. Still, not your place to save her, but maybe not your place to encourage her either?" The lilt of Christopher's voice made it a question.
"Well, I didn't know until I got there, but I don't want to go back." Just as he didn't want to go back to the knife-loving Goth. He thought of telling Christopher about that encounter as well, but then he discovered he didn't have the energy. He also felt a little uncomfortable, as if he were breaking client confidentiality or something. If he talked about others, maybe this Christopher would think he'd talk about him in turn. Not that he was sure he wanted to return here either, but at this rate, Michael would kick him out of the job if he kept refusing work. This Christopher at least seemed sane.
"What are you doing this for, Peter?" Christopher looked at him over the rim of his mug. "I mean, forgive me for saying so but you look like a presentable young man."
"Not what you expected?"
"I didn't know what to expect, but you surely weren't it. What do you do when you're not..." Chris waved a hand in the air. "I take it you do do something else?"
"When I'm given the opportunity to, yes, I'm in I.T." He wanted to take it back the moment he said it.
Christopher's raised eyebrow sent heat into his face. "Fallen on hard times?"
"Something like that."
"You're better than this."
Peter squirmed, but all that did was remind him his bare backside sat on one of this man's dining room chairs. What if he left a pubic hair behind? Ugh. "You can't know that. You don't know me."
"Let's say first impressions are everything. You're neat. Your hairstyle says office worker, and even your nails are manicured." Christopher looked at his paint-stained nails and pulled a face. "I'm not very good at keeping up the well-dressed gay stereotype. Give me jeans any day, even in the workplace if I could get away with it. Never cared how people look. More concerned with what they have up here." Christopher tapped the side of his temple. "So you're temporarily between career opportunities." The man grinned as if to say he was only teasing and meant nothing by it. "No girlfriend?"
"No." Why was he answering this guy's questions? It wasn't part of the job description.
Peter blushed deeper. He knew he did. He felt ablaze.
"I'm not going to ravish you," Chris said, making the statement sound perfectly reasonable.
"I-I think I've answered enough questions."
"Well, you are a stranger I've let into my house. A decidedly strange stranger, some might say, considering you're the one wearing nothing but an apron."
"No stranger than wanting someone wearing nothing but an apron, surely?"
"Ah..." Christopher took a bite of sandwich, chewed it up, and wiped his hands on a napkin. Peter caught himself staring at the smudges of paint embedded in the man's cuticles. "Fair enough." He looked abashed. "This really wasn't my idea. If it were up to me, I'd tell you to put your clothes on, but there's no knowing if, or when, my sister will pop back, and if she discovers I'm less than enamoured with her present, she'll be upset. Not that you aren't fetching to look at."
"I-I'm not... I mean, I'm not..."
"Gay? Don't worry. Your virtue's safe. I'm just wondering why a handsome thirty-something like you has no girlfriend."
"She left," Peter said, unable to keep the bitterness from his voice. He'd managed to devour one sandwich, but now it rested heavily in his stomach. "Truth is, I used to live with my mother, and most women don't like that. Crystal --"
"Crystal?" A smile played with Christopher's lips. The expression softened his features.
Nice smile. Nice lips. Nice man.
What? What the fuck was that? I've not... for years. And it was just the one time. Nothing. I was young. Just... experimenting.
Peter dismissed his wayward thoughts as being ridiculous. Was he so starved for affection he'd look for it with the first person who made him feel comfortable regardless of sexuality? Maybe. Would he regret it? He couldn't answer that...