On the third day, by late afternoon I found myself back at the bar. Sure, I'd chatted with other guys, but I kept coming back to my favorite bartender. I knew he was taken, but there was something about him that just drew me in. He joked and laughed, and even when some other guys tried to strike up conversation, I preferred to stay and talk to Adam.
"So what's your story?" he asked with a laugh as he handed me a beer. "You come to a gay hotel alone, you don't drink much, and when that guy tried to pick you up just now, you declined?"
I blinked at him. "Pick me up?" I looked back at the guy who'd just left the bar and sure enough, he was talking to someone else and seemed to be having better luck. "Oh. I hope I didn't offend him."
That only made Adam laugh louder and shake his head. "Oh, Wil, you are a doll."
Simon walked in behind the bar and grinned at Adam. "What's so funny?"
"Oh, hey," Adam greeted him warmly. "Wil here was just making me laugh."
Simon looked at me, then at Adam, and they seemed to have some silent exchange before Simon kissed him, then looked back at me and smiled. "So, Wil…" He trailed off.
I stared at them. I still wasn't used to seeing two men kiss in front of me. Sure, I'd seen porn. I'd seen movies, but it'd never happened right in front of me. "Um, yeah?"
Simon walked around to my side of the bar and sat on a stool at the end, a few feet from me. "Do you dance?"
"Do I what?"
Adam laughed, making me look at him. He nodded pointedly over my shoulder toward the open foyer where there were people dancing.
Couples, slow dancing.
Men slow dancing with other men. Oh, my God… I'd never seen anything like it. Not in front of me, not with my own two eyes.
I looked back at Adam, then Simon. The amazement must have been obvious on my face because they both grinned at me. "Uh, n-n-no," I stammered. "No, I don't dance."
"That's a shame," Adam said wistfully. I finished my beer. I kept looking over my shoulder to the dancing men. They were… mesmerizing.
Simon cleared his throat, making me look at him. "So," he said slowly, "what brought you to Key West?"
I sighed and Adam served me a fresh bottle of beer. I took a sip and a deep breath, and then I told them. I told them everything.
How my life in Dalton had gone to hell. My quiet, peaceful, boring, closeted life wasn't so closeted anymore.
How one comment was all it took to end everything. Well, one comment, inquisitive minds, and the grapevine that was Dalton. Quiet whispers spread like wildfire and the small town was having none of it.
I explained how I had been sitting at a table in the bar with the guys I always had a beer with after work when two guys I'd gone to high school with spotted me. They were drunk and even more obnoxious than they'd been ten years before. As they'd stumbled past our table, they'd seen me and laughed.
"Look, it's the kitchen fairy," one said and the other man corrected him, "You mean it's the kitchen fag."
I'd laughed them off as redneck losers who didn't have an IQ between them higher than their boot size, and the other guys kind of laughed too. But Rod didn't. He just sat there.
"Deputy to the Chief of Police, Rod Mackey, just fucking sat there."
"Who's Rod?" Adam asked.
"The guy I'd been seeing," I said quietly. "Secretly. For two years."
"Two years?" Simon asked. "And he didn't say anything?"
I shook my head. "We were all hush-hush. No one knew we were gay, let alone seeing each other."
Both Simon and Adam stared at me.
I sighed again. "So the man who should have said something just sat there. Even out of his uniform, it wouldn't have seemed out of place if he'd reprimanded those two assholes. In uniform, he should have reprimanded them." I took another pull of my beer. "But he couldn't. Or so he told me afterward. He called me later that night to tell me we were over. He couldn't risk it, he said. He told me if he'd made a scene with those two guys in the bar, it would have looked suspicious."
Adam's eyes narrowed, and Simon huffed. "What did the other guys at the table do?"
"John and Danny thought it was suspicious Rod didn't say something. They called him on it, asking if he'd gone soft, and he just sat there." I shook my head. "He didn't know where to look. He certainly didn't look at me."
"What happened after that?" Adam asked quietly.
"They just sat back and blinked a few times, looking at me. I tried to shrug it off, saying I'd always been pegged as different in high school because I'd never played football. I'm a chef. So fucking what?"
"You're a chef?" Simon asked.
I nodded." Yep."
Adam looked at me, concerned. "What did those guys do? Those John and Danny guys… did they hurt you?"
"What?" Hurt me? "No, nothing like that," I reassured him. "No, they just sat there, finished their beers and without so much as another word, they got up and left. I saw it in their eyes, that they'd put it together; I'd never had a girlfriend, never hooked up with girls…" I shook my head slowly as I remembered. "Then Rod sat there for a beat too long, snatched his coat off the back of his chair and followed them, while I sat there, wondering what the hell had just happened."
I finished my beer and told them, "The next day, when I'd gone to the store to collect my daily order of fresh produce, old Mr Bryant refused to serve 'my type'."
"Your type?" Simon repeated.
I nodded. "That would be gay."
"Oh my God," Simon whispered.
Adam handed me another beer—my third—and I took a drink. "To say I was shocked is an understatement, but then it went downhill as the day went on. We had people canceling reservations, and some just not show up." I barked out a laugh, though it was anything but funny. "One group who did have the courtesy to call and cancel told Callie—she's my best friend and second chef—it was because they didn't want to catch being gay from my food."
Of all the ridiculous, ludicrous, hurtful things.
"I'm really sorry," Adam said quietly.
I looked at the blond man. He had an expression of genuine regret on his face, as if it was something he understood. I gave him a sad smile. "It wasn't the names they called me that bothered me the most. It wasn't even the fact Rod dumped me. It was the fact my restaurant, my business, was leverage."
Simon stood up and walked behind the bar, kissed the side of Adam's head, whispered something in his ear, and Adam smiled.
Adam walked around to my side of the bar and grabbed my hand. "Come on," he said. And without giving me a chance to argue, he pulled me to my feet.
"What are you doing?"
Adam laughed. "You're going to dance."
"Here?" I asked incredulously. We were standing at the bar! I turned to look at the other men who were dancing, only to find them gone. "But no one else is dancing," I told him, and he looked at me and grinned.
"And no one else can see us," he said simply.
Realizing he wasn't going to let me get out of dancing, I spun around to look at Adam's boyfriend. "Um… Simon…"
Adam slipped his arm around my waist and pulled me closer. "Simon doesn't mind, believe me."
He was an inch or two shorter than my six foot one height, but I could feel his chest against mine and his hands on my back, holding me to him. I could feel the heat of his body, I could smell him… and then Adam started to move his feet, just side to side in a swaying motion. I'd never danced with a man before, much less slow danced with a man while his boyfriend watched.
It was heady. I'd only had three beers but my head was swimming.
I could feel Simon's gaze on me and found myself looking back at him. It was obviously okay for Adam to dance with another man because Simon looked rather pleased. In fact, he looked a little smug.
When he walked over to us, I froze. But he stepped right up to us and kissed Adam soundly, and I gasped in shock. Holy hell, it was one thing to see a man kiss another man, but to see two men kiss when one of them had his arms around me… Jesus…
Simon walked away, and Adam tightened his embrace and whispered into my neck, "Is this okay?"
All I could do was nod.
"Does it feel good?"
My heart was hammering, and I nodded.
"Did what's-his-name ever make you feel good?"
I didn't bother correcting his name. Did Rod ever make me feel good? Did I come? Yes. But did he ever make me feel desired? Wanted? Well, no… no, he didn't.
I must have taken too long to answer because Adam stopped moving and pulled back to look at me. "Did he?"
I shook my head. "No. Not really."
Adam pulled me against him again and shook his head. "Now that's a terrible shame."
I noticed then that Simon was turning off lights, closing and locking doors, and when the music stopped, I figured the dance was over.
But Adam never stopped moving. In fact, he held me tighter.
I could feel his fingers dig into my skin, and I could feel his body against me. I could feel him, all of him. I had no doubt he could feel me, feel what he did to me, how hard I was. And when he snaked his hand down my back, over my ass and pulled our hips together, I knew he could feel how hard I was.
Then Simon was next to us. I should have been alarmed, but I wasn't. And when he put his arm on my lower back, I should have shied away, but I didn't.
I welcomed it.
And when Simon stepped behind me, slowly pressing against my back, I should have said stop. But I didn't.
Adam pulled back a little to look me in the eyes. He never spoke. He didn't have to. But he was silently asking me if this was okay, if I wanted him to stop. So I dug my fingers into his skin to hold him a little tighter as my answer. He smiled then trailed his lips over my neck, kissing over my jaw, and asked with a gruff whisper, "What do you want? What do you want to feel?"
The words were out before I could stop them. "I want to feel desired… wanted."
Simon's hands moved to my hips and his lips came close to my ear. "We can show you what that feels like."
As both men pressed against me, sandwiching me while Adam kissed my exposed neck, my head fell back onto Simon's shoulder. I uncurled my arm from around Adam's back to pull my room key from my pocket. I tried to find the words to tell them what I wanted, what I needed, but I was panting and could only say one word.
* * * *
Three's Company will be released on 27th October with Silver Publishing. You can find it HERE!!