Friday, March 14, 2008

Flashback Fridays--Brindisi Bedfellows

A long, long time ago, when Vivien and I first began writing together (for fun, not profit) we came up with a "bunny" about two jilted men, going off to find comfort and revenge against the one guy who hurt them both. We really liked this idea. In fact, we bonded over it a little. But we never wrote it! Then one day we were discussing submitting something to Liquid Silver because we like to keep a steady release schedule with all our publishers, and I said "Remember this idea..."

My good friend Ann helped us with the title, though Vivien always knew she wanted the word bedfellows involved. My sister had lived in Italy for three months (I've been there too, but only for three weeks) and so she helped us a lot with pictures and details she remembered. All our books are special, of course, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for this project.

Getting dumped is never fun.

Getting dumped by your boyfriend on the eve of your first vacation in six years because he decides to reconcile with his ex-wife is agony.

Heartbroken Christian Davis is drowning his sorrows when his ex-lover’s best friend swoops in and throws his world into chaos. Trip Watson is gorgeous and gregarious and everything Chris doesn’t need right now. But none of that seems to matter when Trip finds out what Andrew did to him. Appalled by Andrew’s callous treatment, Trip announces the best way to get over the break-up – and to rub Andrew’s face in it – is to go to Italy as planned and spend the next three weeks having the time of his life. With Trip.

Mutual lust drives them together. Andrew could very well push them apart. Especially if the truth about Trip’s relationship with him ever comes to light.

The following four days were a blur, mostly because, in the end, Trip and Christian didn’t venture too far from their hotel room for any length of time. Chris seemed more than content to allow Trip to make up for what he was already thinking of as “the Andrew incident,” encouraging long hours spent sprawled atop their bed, mouths and hands doing nothing but exploring the other’s body. That worked for Trip. That more than worked for Trip. It was his favorite method of distraction, and frankly, both of them needed it now. Andrew was being an absolute ass about the entire situation, with the piece de resistance, his nasty closing comment to Trip on the phone.

It hurt. There was no denying it. And Trip meant it when he’d told Chris he was done with Andrew. Not even Trip was that big of a masochist.

It helped to have Christian in his corner. Trip felt more than a little guilty that Chris had found out as he had, but better the truth get out now than later, he realized. It wasn’t like Andrew was even emotionally committed to Trip. Everything he had was saved for Lexie, and it was now them against her and Andrew.

Trip was slowly realizing he liked that arrangement.

At the end of their week in Rome, they boarded the Eurostar to Lecce, ready to begin the second leg of their holiday. All Christian could talk about was the architecture he’d read about, but Trip was looking forward to spiriting him away to the beach. At some point, he wanted to get some photos of Chris, something to remember the trip by after they returned to London. Seeing him lying on the white sand felt like the best opportunity to show Chris that, yes, there was life after Andrew, and yes, he was more than attractive enough to pull somebody more deserving of his company. It would be a shot in the arm for him, Trip thought. And a hot reminder for himself.

After they were seated and had their wine, Trip stretched out his legs so his feet were entangled with Christian’s opposite him. “So six hours until we get there, huh?” he said with a smirk. “Whatever are we going to do for six whole hours?”

Christian smiled. “Nothing that’ll get us kicked off the train, I hope.”

Trip pretended to pout. “Well, that’s no fun. Haven’t I taught you better than that yet?”

Christian sipped from his wine, and Trip couldn’t help but notice the stray drop of liquid that clung to the corner of his lip. “You haven’t taught me anything about the proper way to fool around on a train.”

“We’ll save that lesson for the tube in London. If you can shag on the Underground, you can shag just about anywhere.”

Chris chuckled. “How many times have you shagged on the Underground?”

“Enough to know when the bill are least likely to catch you,” he shot back.

As they laughed together, it dawned on Trip that while he had spent a week with Christian already, he actually knew very little about the other man’s life in London, other than the unfortunate parts that included Andrew. If pressed, he wasn’t even sure what Chris did for a living, and suddenly, the desire to find out was all-consuming. He wanted to know about it all.

“So how long have you lived in London?” he asked. Might as well start off with an easy question.

“Oh, most of my life. Grew up there, then moved back after university. What about you?”

“Moved there after I dropped out of uni. All my family’s back in Southend or thereabouts, so wasn’t too far of a go for me. Only place to be for what I wanted to do, though.”

Christian looked at him thoughtfully. “Shoot for fashion? Or was that supposed to be the job that held you over until you could do what you really wanted?”

Trip didn’t talk about his aspirations much. The people who tended to surround him didn’t much care about art and beauty so much as fashion and parties. But Christian’s positive response to his portfolio gave him courage, and he ducked his head in embarrassment as he made the confession.

“I wasn’t even twenty. I was green enough to think a few professional credits under my belt would mean I could write my own ticket. And in London, if you’re a photographer, you’re either covering the fashion world or part of the stalkerazzi.” He shrugged. “Lurking about in bushes for hours on end wasn’t my idea of a good time.”

“Given your options, you clearly made the right decision. I doubt you’d have the patience to lurk in bushes for hours, anyway.” Chris paused. “It’s worked out, though, hasn’t it? I mean, even I knew your name. And that was before I met Andrew.”

“It has its ups and downs. Didn’t convince Paolo to look at my folio, for instance.” This was going down a path he didn’t care for, and Trip searched for a way to redirect the conversation. “What about you? Bit ashamed to admit it, but I don’t even know what you do to pay the bills.”

“Don’t be ashamed. I haven’t mentioned it because I didn’t think hip photographers would want to be seen with what amounts to a customer service rep.”

Somehow, it didn’t surprise Trip. The way Chris had reacted when they’d first met was indication enough that Trip’s way of life was foreign to him. It was probably why he got the impression Christian thought he was this exotic creature, and while that was a fantasy Trip cultivated for most of the people he met, it didn’t feel right to foster that with this one.

“I’d never see anybody in my family, if that was the case,” Trip replied. Absently, he tilted his foot to run his toes along the back of Christian’s calf. “Nothin’ wrong in bein’ a suit. There’s something to be said for having some stability in your life.”

“What some call stability, others would call bloody boring.” Chris glanced out the window. “Not that I’m bored. I’m mostly not. I was getting a bit burned out, though. You know when you call the bank over a mistake, and the first two people you speak to can’t help? So they kick you up to the manager and by then you’re furious and ready to take it out on anybody, regardless of how innocent they are? I’m the guy who gets that abuse.”

The look on his face made Trip want to close the distance between them and smother him in kisses. He settled for toeing off his boot and sliding his foot up into Christian’s lap, caressing his thigh in long strokes that grazed across his crotch.

“Then it sounds to me like you needed this holiday,” he said. “Trick will be, not to forget how you feel now when you’re back on the job.”

“It’ll be some trick,” Chris said, sliding lower in his seat. “Do you think I’ll be able to find somebody willing to come over to the office every day to play footsie?”

Trip felt Christian’s cock thickening with every stroke along his thigh. “You could have anybody you wanted to, mate. Look at how you pulled that pretty boy our first night in Rome.”

Chris ran his fingers over the top of Trip’s foot. “That was just a fluke,” he said dryly. “Some people are attracted to desperation wrapped in leather.”

Trip regarded him with a thoughtful tilt of his head. “Don’t know about that. You had me long before I got to see you in those trousers.”

Christian offered a wry smile. “So you’re just attracted to desperation wrapped in denim?”

“You don’t seem all that desperate to me now.”

“Only because I’m drinking less,” Chris said lightly, his fingers still dancing over Trip’s foot. Sobering, he added, “Last week I thought, well, not too sound overwrought, but I thought I lost the love of my life.” He grimaced. “Christ, that does sound too overwrought.”

Trip grinned to ease his discomfort. “Look at who you’re talking to. If it’s not melodramatic in my world, it doesn’t get looked at. There’s nothin’ wrong with having feelings. Especially since I know they don’t just go away ‘cause you want them to.”

“No, they don’t. But they do start to fade eventually. Now I’m beginning to feel more like I just lost a year of my life.”

“You didn’t lose a year. You were happy, weren’t you?”

Christian hesitated for a fraction of a second before nodding. “As much as I’ve tried to convince myself otherwise, it was one of the happier years of my life. Guess that’s why it hit me where I live.” He squeezed Trip’s foot. “Though as far as happy weeks go, this last one is surprisingly close to the top of the list.”

The admission startled Trip with how quickly it warmed his gut, and he had to duck his head to hide his pleased smile. It wasn’t just that it had been a great week for him; it was that someone like Chris, someone without anything to gain, would reciprocate even a fraction of his current contentment. Because that’s what he was. Content. And it was shocking how good it felt.

We all have a special, free bonus scene on the website.

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