Tim opened his eyes very wide as he looked up from his laptop.
"Bloody hell..." His fingers came to a complete stop, hovering uselessly over the keyboard as he muttered the words under his breath.
There were things he'd grown quite used to seeing outside the window since he'd moved into his luxury third floor flat, right on the edge of town. Song birds, the odd bug, there was even a squirrel that occasionally ventured into view.
Tim was not, however, used to seeing half-naked men out there. A lean, muscular torso almost completely blocked his usual view. A thin white T-shirt technically covered the guy's chest, but the wet fabric was nigh onto see through. It had ridden up as the guy stretched to clean the farthest corner of the glass, exposing a line of golden skin above a pair of ratty old jeans.
A trail of light brown hairs guided Tim's eyes to a button-up fly that begged to be undone. As Tim gawped, open mouthed, he unwittingly leaned forward in his seat. There was something strangely fascinating about the man's body. It couldn't actually be familiar, but at the same time...
Tim leaned a little farther, in an effort to get a better view and solve the conundrum. Then, without bothering to consider boring things like balance and gravity when there were hot men to think about, he leaned just a little farther again.
There was nothing muttered about Tim's words that time. He yelled the half-curse at the top of his lungs as his balance deserted him. As though in slow motion, he felt himself tumble forward.
His laptop slid off his lap. Feeling as if he were moving through thick treacle, Tim lurched off the sofa in an instinctive attempt to grab for it. He was too late. There was nothing he could do but watch it fall.
All the air rushed out of his lungs as he crashed onto floor in front of his sofa. Well-articulated syllables morphed into a yelp as his flailing arm brought the coffee table down upon him, and steaming-hot coffee splashed down over both him and his computer.
"Damn! Are you okay?"
Tim lifted his head and peered at the window, fully expecting to see a stunningly attractive guy watching, while he once again made a fool of himself in front of a perfect example of male hotness.
There was no one outside his window, outside his wide-open window. Tim frowned. It had only been propped ajar an inch before.
Suddenly, a shadow fell across him. He tilted his head back farther. "You climbed through my window."
The guy crouched down next to him, the scent of cleaning fluid clinging to his skin and making Tim's head spin. "Are you okay?" the guy asked again.
"You climbed through my window!" Tim repeated, on the basis of one good repetition probably deserved another.
Strong, wet hands caught Tim by the shoulders. One moment, he was lying in a crumpled heap, the next, he was sitting up, leaning against the base of his sofa and the other man was kneeling between his feet.
Tim just stared at the guy. He'd really never seen anyone so gorgeous in his life.
"Sorry, mate. Didn't realize anyone was home. Didn't mean to scare you."
Tim blinked. There was something horribly familiar about--
"Damien." The name cut through every thought in Tim's head.
Full, pink lips twitched into a half-smile. "Yeah."
"You're Damien Reynolds. We went to school together." Sudden heat flooded Tim's cheeks. Forget falling off his sofa, to hell with tipping coffee over his new laptop. This, this was what real humiliation felt like.
Damien might have been the kind of guy anyone in their right mind remembered, but Tim doubted half his classmates had known his name while he sat next to them eight classes a week. The chances of anyone, let alone Damien, remembering him ten years on were--
Tim's eyes narrowed. "You remember me?" He shook his head then, not about to revert to being the class geek staring up at the class god if he could help it. "Whatever." He squared his shoulders. "I'd like you to get the hell out of my flat--now."
Damien held Tim's gaze for several long moments. His eyes were just as green and gorgeous as Tim remembered. Suddenly, Damien dropped his gaze, long dark lashes sweeping down toward high, chiseled cheekbones.
"Damn," Damien whispered as he looked at the mess covering the floor around Tim. "I really didn't mean to scare you."
"Forget about it," Tim cut in, trying to sound brisk instead of panicked. "Everything's backed up. If I need a new laptop, I'll order one, and it'll be here tomorrow."
Damien's lips twisted into something that wasn't quite a smile.
"You can go now," Tim added, just in case that wasn't obvious.
"I'll help you clean up." Damien waved an arm toward the debris. Muscles did interesting things under that wet, clinging T-shirt.
Tim folded his arms across his own rather less impressive torso, well aware that the only thing his body would do under the same conditions was shiver pathetically. "That's not necessary. I'm sure you have far more important things to do."
Turning away, Tim reached for his laptop. The screen was blank. Perhaps if he let it dry out for a while...
He was halfway to his feet when a hand landed on his shoulder and stopped him short.
"Don't." Tim tried to shrug off Damien's touch, more exasperated than ever.
"You haven't got shoes on."
"What the hell does that have to do with?"
Damien didn't say anything, he just bent over and picked up part of Tim's smashed coffee cup.
Tim bit back a curse as he looked down at the little shards of china scattered across the floor. There was no easy comeback available to him. His feet were indeed bare. If he tried to throw Damien out, he'd just end up hopping around like a pillock.
"Fine. Knock yourself out." Tim sat down heavily on his sofa.
Damien glanced around the room. He crossed to the desk, damp trainers squeaking with each step across the hardwood floor and picked up the wastepaper bin. As Tim silently enjoyed the view, Damien knelt in the middle of his living room and set about picking up every bit of broken crockery.
As awkward as he had ever been as a schoolboy, Tim rubbed absentmindedly at the coffee stains on his shirt, as if being neat and presentable might actually give him a chance with a man like that. Memories of school days rushed back. He wondered idly if Damien had ever been tested for dyslexia, the way Tim had told the teachers Damien should have been.
Damien's jeans slipped down a fraction farther as he leaned forward to pick up the mug's broken handle, and everything but that beautiful image fled from Tim's mind.
He fully expected Damien to stand up the moment he was done, but for some reason, Damien didn't seem to be in any kind of rush to rise from his knees. He sat back on his heels and set to work picking up all the other things that had tumbled off Tim's coffee table.
Mesmerized by the lines of muscle and glimpses of skin that appeared with each movement, it didn't even occur to Tim that he should help. He just sat and stared while the other man cleaned up the mess. Tim only just pulled his attention away from the curling black tattoo just visible inside Damien's right upper arm in time to face Damien properly when the other man finally pulled himself to his feet.
"Thank you." Tim cleared his throat and tried to make his tone of voice sound less like an invitation to screw. "It wasn't needed, but thanks anyway." Standing up and stepping away from the sofa, he swiped a couple of folded up ten pound notes from the coin tray on a side table and tucked them into his palm before extending his hand toward his former schoolmate.
They shook hands. Tim tried not to relish the brief moment of skin to skin contact and failed completely. He only just remembered to leave the money in Damien's hand when he finally convinced himself to pull his fingers out of the warm, strong grip.
Damien turned his hand palm up and stared down at the tip.
"For your help," Tim clarified, as if that weren't obvious.
Damien continued to stare down at it for several long seconds. Tim mentally cursed, wondering if he'd selected a tip that was too big or too small this time.
His company might have gone public, but no one had bothered to tell him any of the important little things that everyone seemed to assume he'd know once his share price went through the roof.
Damien stepped back. He placed the money carefully on the table next to Tim's laptop. "I don't suppose you'd like to..." He trailed off. His smile issued the rest of his invitation without him needing to say another word. All at once it was obvious.
Damien was gay. The guy Tim had been fantasizing about ever since he'd hit puberty was gay. The silence stretched out between them as Tim tried to imagine living in a world where that really was the case and failed.
"Maybe, we could get a drink together sometime?" Damien finally finished.
Tim turned his eyes away from the stunning man standing before him as he tried to make his brain work. Entirely by accident, his gaze fell upon the folded up tenners. His expression hardened.
"Once upon a time, I'd have sold my soul for the chance," he admitted, his words clipped and sharp. "Luckily, I grew out of it."
"Pity," Damien murmured as he turned back toward the window and lifted one leg to step out onto his ladder. "Because I didn't."