I wended my tipsy way up the communal stairwell to my stuffy, airless flat. I could think of a fair few other things I'd rather be doing on a Friday night, but the fact was, despite having had five months to get used to it, I hadn't really been able to get in the spirit of going out drinking as a single man.
Denise had tried to persuade me out anyway, but I'd told her I was knackered after a busy week in the hot studio making paperweights. It's a strain making the same piece hundreds of times in a row, especially only to realise that my own pieces still looked as wonky as a child's drawing compared to Liam's work. I knew he'd been doing it for twenty years compared to my three, but still, you'd think I'd be better by now.
The other thing weighing on my mind was the meeting his wife Shannon had called me in for the next morning and in typical tight-lipped fashion wouldn't say what it was about. She and Liam had been muttering a lot about money and figures these last few months, though, so I didn't have a particularly good feeling about it.
Thoughts of my impending stint on the dole filled my head as I tramped up the stairs, when they were interrupted by the door ahead of me opening.
Evan and Rai's door.
"Hey, Josh, I was hoping that would be you." Evan's deep rumble instantly conjured memories of him grunting away earlier. It didn't help that he was wearing nothing more than a towel wrapped around his waist, obviously straight out of the shower. Beads of water were scattered across his lightly furred chest, making those juicy pecs look even more biteable.
Shit, I was getting a semi-on, and Evan was giving me this weird look. I should probably say something.
"Hey, Evan. Hot enough for you?" Great. The weather. Staple, dull small talk guaranteed to bore the pants off people. Not that I'd have minded getting the pants off Evan. Or that towel.
I'd only have to take a couple of steps forward and pull...
I had to stop thinking that way. It wasn't like I'd ever be bold enough to do something like that. Evan would deck me for a start, and I've always been a real coward when it comes to physical violence.
"Yeah, it's bloody roasting," Evan complained, stretching his arms so I got a view of his damp pits. Yum. "Spent all day stuck in a pokey cupboard with a piece-of-shite boiler too. I had about this much room to move in." Evan braced his powerful arms against the doorframe on either side of him, and his biceps bulged.
Evan was a plumber, in case you're wondering. He didn't have a kink for hide-and-seek. Or if he did, I didn't know about it.
"Hey, who's that? Is it the cutie from upstairs?"
Rai stuck his head under Evan's arm and grinned impishly. Damn it, he was only wearing a towel as well. That was totally unfair. I wilted a little against the banister rail as I took in the picture of happy coupledom. Evan, with his shaved head, trimmed dark-brown goatee and workman's build, was the epitome of masculine power, whereas Rai... Well, Rai was beautiful, no two ways about it. Not feminine, but his slim body looked wonderfully flexible, and his smooth, hairless skin was a lickable colour, like an amber bottle filled with milk. And then there was his face...
Yeah, I was a sucker for Rai's face. Even his thick-framed glasses couldn't hide the appealing Asian tilt of his dark eyes, and the flat planes of his cheeks were offset perfectly by the shaggy mane of soot-black hair. Hair that was right now dripping water over his shoulders. Oh God.
Did he just call me a cutie?
"We wanted to ask you a favour," Evan said.
Please let it be drying them both down. I'd do ever such a thorough job. Get in all their little crevices.
"We're off out for the day tomorrow, so we can't get into town to do Stella's shopping. Would you mind grabbing her a couple of bits?"
"Town, tomorrow?" Yeah, way to sound like a moron, Josh. I had to get the image of towelling two naked hotties out of my head, I really did. I tried to concentrate on Stella instead--our downstairs neighbour.
"It's not much," Rai chipped in. "We'll go get what we can from Sainsbury's this evening, but she likes some stuff from the farmer's market, and we won't be here for that."
"Yeah, that's fine. I can go in for her. I've got to head out that way anyway." It was on the way to the studio, so I could stop there on the way back from my meeting. "I'd be happy to help out." I liked Stella. She lived on the ground floor between Cliff and Denise, and although she was in her eighties and suffering from a dodgy hip, she still always had a conspiratorial smile for me. I wasn't quite sure what we were conspiring about, but I liked the roguish glint in her eyes.
And oh God, I liked the glint in Evan's blue eyes too. Was he checking me out? Nah, probably just enjoying the afterglow from their marathon sex session earlier. I surreptitiously tried to adjust my thickening cock so it wasn't so obvious, but judging by the way Rai and Evan's eyes flicked down, I'd only ended up drawing their attention.
"So where are you off to?" I asked. "Anywhere fun?"
Evan snorted. "Hardly. It's one of Rai's bloody number-crunching conferences. Full of eggheads who think 'gross domestic product in developing economies' is a fascinating topic for discussion." Evan even made the quote marks as he put on a clipped, Oxbridge accent.
"Hey, one of those eggheads is in the building." Rai elbowed Evan in the side. I didn't know exactly what Rai was doing his PhD in, but I knew it had something to do with economics. Whatever it was, he was a whizz with numbers. "You don't have to come, you know. If you'd rather stay here, I could always get the train."
"I don't mind, pet. You need someone to keep an eye on you, anyway. Can't have you getting into trouble again."
Rai smirked, and this look passed between them then, like they both knew exactly what the joke was.
God, I wanted that so badly--that ability to read someone else's mind. Never quite had it with Kenny. Well, obviously, or I'd have seen the writing on the bloody wall a mile off. He could have just written You're boring in bed on the side of the house, and then I'd have been able to do something about it. Maybe. If I'd had the guts, that was.
Then again, maybe some desires were best left locked away inside where no one could laugh at them or call you a freak.
I curled my lips in a tight smile. "Why don't you just leave the list in my post box and I'll pick it up tomorrow."
"Great, thanks, Josh," Rai said, fluttering his eyelashes. "You're not just a pretty face, are you?"
"Give over, pet. You're embarrassing him." Evan gave Rai an affectionate smile. "I know what you mean, mind." He turned and gave me the once-over.
Jesus, my face felt hotter than a blast from the furnace at work. "I, um, I'd better go. Need to crash out."
I could feel their eyes following me up the top flight of stairs. It made me blush harder, but I couldn't help hoping they were checking out my arse.
Hey, a bloke can dream, can't he?