Uncovered in a Drawer
by O Yardley
"Of course," I said gloomily, popping my fifth can of beer, "we could always make do with each other."
I heard a brief rustle from behind me, like a startled movement abruptly restrained and I grinned to myself, then a carefully casual voice said, "What did you say?"
I turned my head: from my position on the floor, propped up against his sofa, my head was almost on a level with his as he lay full length on its cushioned seat.
"I said," I repeated with bell-like clarity, "we could always make do with . . . "
His head dropped back onto the arm, having had another handful of smokey-bacon crisps inserted into the ever-open maw he calls a mouth, and he said indistinctly, "Yeah. That's what I thought you said."
Mildly disappointed--I'd hoped for a whole lot better reaction than that--I said reasonably, "Well, it's not that daft an idea. How many times is it in the last six months we've ended up making do with each other's company like this because some bird's got pissed off with being left in the lurch again? Either that or if they're in the sort of job where they understand working odd hours, when we're free, they're on nights or early turn or something. At least when we get time off we get it together."
"That's about the only thing we could get together," he said acidly. "In case you hadn't noticed it, ducky, we're the same sex!"
"Yeah." I turned further, giving a big, beaming smile and a heavy come-on. "I'd noticed--so . . .?"
"So--end of story."
"Oh, come on--," I took a long pull at my beer, "--fellas have been getting it together for centuries--or hadn't you heard about that?"
His face strongly indicated disapproval from behind closed eyes. "Yes, I've heard about it."
"But you've never tried it, huh?"
One blue eye opened in a hideous grimace is he tried to look me up and down from a well-nigh impossible angle. "No, I've never tried it."
I heaved a sigh. "Me neither. Pity when you come to think about it . . ."
Purposely, I didn't complete the comment, let it trail away into silence.
After a minute or so, he couldn't bear it any longer, both eyes opened and he put on an expression of patient long-suffering. "What's a pity - as if I won't regret asking!"
"A whole new range of experience and both of us too scared to try it."
"Too scared?" I'd known that would get him going. "You speak for yourself, mate."
"I was," I assured him, containing my amusement well. "Do you mean the idea doesn't scare you?"
"Course not," he said loftily. "Just don't fancy it, that's all." He helped himself to another mouthful of crisps.
I'd timed the question beautifully: a huge puff of potato crumbs floated my way as he struggled to chew, swallow and breathe at the same time.
"What d'you mean, why not?" he said crossly, half choking on the last bit of crisp as it went down. "I'm not bloody gay . . ."
"Never said you were sunshine. Lots of people swing both ways these days. It just seems a pity you don't want to try it."
I adjusted my position so that I was facing him instead of having to sit with my head twisted around to look at him; I was getting a crick in my neck with the strain.
He looked back at me, his face telling me nothing, and I wasn't at all sure how seriously he was taking me.
His gaze slid from my face to the pile of discarded cans and back again and his mouth quirked in a smile.
"You're drunk!" he accused me.
"On two pints?" I said, astonished.
"Must be." He reached for another can himself, fining his arm about eighteen inches too short.
"What--to fancy you?" I demanded, interested. "Is that what it usually takes?"
He wasn't listening to me, concentrating more on trying to get at the beer without falling off the sofa. I picked up a can and held it just out of reach of his flailing arm.
"D'you mean to tell me," I demanded, "that you've never even thought about making it with another fella--not even wondered what it's like?"
The position we were both in, if he grabbed for the can he was going to bet a lot closer to me than he wanted to while the present topic was under discussion--usually Bodie is supremely unselfconscious around me but I'd succeeded better than I'd hoped in making him aware of me--and he gave up trying to get at the beer, flopping back against the sofa-arm and eyeing me a bit sardonically.
"OK, so I've wondered what it's like," he agreed with an air of 'so make what you like of that!' about him. "Doesn't mean I've necessarily ever wanted to find out though, does it?"
"Why not?" I asked him again, opening the tab for him and handing it over. I guessed a can of beer in his hand would lure him into a false sense of security and sure enough, he hid behind it, drinking thirstily, but a pair of blue eyes continued to watch me over the top with a kind of wary inquisitiveness.
"It's not illegal in private between consenting adults," I reminded him. "Doing it with you--well, I'd feel . . . secure. It wouldn't matter if it all went wrong, would it?"
The blue gaze was wider now, suspicious but surprised at the same time. "Ray, are you serious?"
"Never more so," I assured him, and I meant it, every word of it. "I've always been curious--never knew anyone before I'd've had the guts to ask in case they laughed or socked me one . . . "
"What the hell makes you think I won't?" he said, his voice almost squeaky with indignation. "'f you really want to fool around, cruise the gay bars and pick someone up . . ."
"Oh, come on." I tried to keep the disappointment out of my voice, but I was pretty sure it must show. "I don't want to get into anything heavy, besides . . ." I paused and met his eyes ruefully, "I'd feel such a fool with someone who knew what he was doing--not to mention possibly getting something I really couldn't handle. I know you and I trust you . . ."
I stopped again, taking refuge in my own can of beer this time.
After a few seconds he let out a heavy breath through his nose, the way he does, and said wonderingly, "You've really been thinking about this, haven't you?"
I decided honesty was the best policy. "Yeah--for quite a long time. I've always been intrigued, ever since some guy at the Art School tried to talk me into it but like I said, I was scared. Then a while back it suddenly occurred to me--well I feel safe around you, comfortable . . . "
I lapsed into silence.
He said, "Not sure I can return the compliment--about feeling safe, I mean," but he grinned at me while he said it.
"So what?" He was being deliberately obtuse now.
"So how about a little fooling around?"
He took another pull at his beer, still watching me, but his eyes had a speculative look about them this time.
Was he looking apprehensive? I knew I felt it but it was now or almost certainly never. If I stopped to think much longer I'd get cold feet--or start to laugh--and I was, genuinely, curious.
He studied me a bit longer and I wondered what was going on behind the narrowed eyes, then he drained the rest of his beer down, put the empty can on the floor and said simply, "OK."
Suddenly getting what you want can be a bit shattering I found, and I just sat, staring at him, quite unable to voice any of the contradictory thoughts filling my skull.
Then all of sudden he smiled--not one of his 'I'm Bodie and the rest of the world can go fuck itself' smiles, but the gentle, caring and incredibly sweet sort he saves for small girls and middle-aged spinsters--and I melted inside: rough, tough, cut-'em-up Ray Doyle turning into marshmallow like a soppy teenager.
"You really are scared, aren't you?" he said, and he wasn't laughing at me, only inviting me to laugh at us both with him, and he put out a hand and brushed the back of it down my cheek. "I promise I'll be gentle!"
I couldn't help laughing but I choked a bit on it because there was no way of saying I wasn't nervous now it actually came to it. Sure, I wanted to find out what making it with another fella was like, but I didn't want to spoil the really good thing Bodie and I had between us by rushing him into something he hadn't thought about as long and carefully as I had.
But having made up his mind, Bodie isn't the sort to sit hanging about waiting for the action to start, so he put out a hand and undid a couple of my shirt buttons while I sat shivering just from the brush of his fingers against my skin.
My god, I remember thinking dazedly, this is going to work, this is really going to bloody work!
He could see it too, I think, because his face suddenly looked a whole lot brighter than it had done, as thought everything had just fallen into the right place, and he slid his hand inside the edge of my shirt without any hesitation, running his fingers along the ridge of my collarbone and up round my neck, and his other hand opened several more shirt buttons while I wasn't noticing. Once I had though, I wasn't going to be left behind and I sneaked my own way into his shirt right down by his bellybutton, thanking my lucky stars that for once he was wearing a buttonthrough shirt instead of one of his coverup polonecks.
He gave a sort of muffled squeak as my hand hit his waist. I paused to look up at him and he grinned a bit sheepishly.
"Sorry--just wasn't expecting it, that's all. Carry on if you want to."
I was concentrating on the tactile input and finding it very, very pleasant and had no intention of stopping short of outright withdrawal on his part. The skin round his waist is as soft as any girl's and up round his ribs it's like the softest silk and very moreish to touch: once you get your hand there you want to go on touching and stroking and petting.
I told him this as well, my voice breathless with surprise. I don't know why I found it so astonishing that his body should be so sexy but I did, and I was looking forward more and more to finding out about the rest of it.
After a while his hand grabbed my wrist, stopping me, and I looked up at him, a little worried in case he was getting cold feet and wanted to stop but he only said, "Can't really get at each other like this, Ray. Let me sit up." So I pulled back a moment and let him move.
I thought he'd just pull himself upright on the sofa but he sat up completely, swung his legs onto the floor and then came down to kneel beside me: I scramble to my knees as well and began to undo the rest of his shirt without saying anything.
We both seemed a little clumsy about it, ten thumbs and uncoordinated arms that kept getting in each other's way, and I don't know about him, but I was having to concentrate on my breathing as well because the oddest things seemed to be happening to it, almost as if I kept forgetting to do it. Still, I got his shirt undone and pulled out of his trousers eventually, around the same time that I discovered he'd done it to me, so after we'd both stripped them off properly, I put my arms around him, pulling him close to me.
It was odd not feeling the thrust of a pair of breasts, odd but not unpleasant; in fact in one way it was rather nice because it meant I could get even closer to him than I could to a girl and I made the most of it, holding him to me tightly and rubbing myself up and down him as sexily as knew how.
After a bit I could hear him sort of gasping into my ear and I pulled back to look at him and found his mouth open like a codfish's and his eyes all screwed up tight. I grinned and delicately brushed the inside of my upper arms against his ribcage.
"Feel good?" I whispered.
"Mmmm!" His eyes opened and they were smiling, so close to mine I could see every detail of the iris, the clarity of the whites. "I wouldn't have thought your hairy little chest could feel that good," he admitted, doing a kind of shifting about to rub me at me on his own account. It's nearly as soft as the hair on your head. Dunno why, but I thought it would be sort of wiry . . . "
I grinned and quirked a meaning eyebrow at him. "I suppose that means what little you have is pretty wiry . . . be interesting to find out!"
Poor old Bodie, he actually blushed, knowing exactly what I meant. We've both seen each other stripped on plenty of occasions and Bodie's got one of those incredible, hairless but very masculine bodies, pale-skinned--he hardly ever tans deeper than a milky coffee sort of look--and solid without being fat . . . but he does have a healthy thatch around his prick, as dark and luxurious as on his head.
"I expect it's much the same as yours," he said coolly, "don't you?"
"Shan't leave it to supposition," I promised him. "I intend to find out. OK?"
He was being deliberately casual, Bodie, the man of the world, unsurprisable, unshockable, and I want to see if I could shake him just a bit, make him lose that cool--putting it bluntly I wanted to see both if I could affect him that much and also if he'd let me have that much power over him.
Stupid--it never occurred to me I'd be making myself just as vulnerable to him.
"So you want to go on with this?"
He tilted his head back and looked down at me, drooping his eyelids in that disdainful and aggravating way of his.
"Getting cold feet, are we?" he drawled.
"Warming up nicely actually--just checking on you."
"Don't you worry about me, sunshine. Anything you can throw at me . . . "
"Anything? Hmmm. That's quite a challenge."
"God, do you always talk this much? Bore 'em into submission, do you?"
And before he expected it I dived my hands down his back and onto his backside, pulling him to me.
"Mmmm, very cheeky!" I went on, exploring the curves and finding them firm under my hands, muscle, warm and alive. I wanted to feel more of it and I was going to go for his waistband fastening when I found he was moving away from me, pulling at my body and bending his head and before I had time to assimilate what he was doing his mouth made unerringly for my right nipple.
I threw my head back, gasping. I've always been incredibly sensitive there and sometimes got very frustrated with birds who didn't seem to appreciate that I found that just as sexy as they do. But just seeing Bodie's dark head latched onto me like that set me alight and my hands when up to grab him and press him ever close--well, I don't believe in discouragement--and after a while we were both taking huge, heaving breaths, me because I was getting thoroughly turned on and he because I'd rammed his nose into my chest so hard he was suffocating, so I eased off a little and smiled at him a bit shakily.
"Sorry about that. You went straight for the bull's eye, mate!"
"So I gathered," he said, panting ostentatiously. "Like that, do you?"
"You can say that again."
I was just beginning to regain my poise but feeling slightly shattered I wanted--needed--to see Bodie lose his as well and as soon as possible and it occurred to me that he'd probably gone for something he finds pretty good himself so I made a dive for him.
God but I was right, he was almost moaning before I touched him once he'd seen what I was going to do and I couldn't get enough of him--bit frustrating trying to grab hold of a feller like that I found, the technique needs to be different from when you're with a bird, but the end result was just as satisfying and those low, contented noises in his throat were music in my ears as I licked and sucked and nibbled at him.
After a bit I found he was collapsing under me and I knew the feeling! I was going a bit weak at the knees myself so I went with him and the pair of us began rolling around on the floor like puppies playing, biting and nipping and trying to throw each other off. He managed to pin me down eventually, being (as I told him) bigger and heavier than I am and knelt astride me, holding me down by the wrists each side of my ears.
I was laughing almost too much to move and he was wheezing rather himself, grinning down at me like an idiot and being too much of a gentleman to put his full weight down on my stomach. I lifted my hips and pressed upwards instead, rubbing against his groin--and found he was hard.
It was like an electric shock actually feeling his erection like that and I got all breathless again, small ripples of response running through my own guts; I began trying to move in earnest but I was too restricted to do it properly.
"Leggo!" I gasped, looking up and finding his face all screwed up again. "I want to get at you--touch you."
He shifted up with a bit of effort, almost pushing my wrists through the floor to get enough leverage and went to get off me completely only I stopped him, just in time, by getting my hands onto his thighs and running them upwards, my thumbs neatly positioned to arrive right on target.
He arched up and back, thrusting his hips forward.
It was a beautiful, erotic movement and got me so turned on I was practically alight, fumbling at the front of his cords and trying to feel as much of him as I could through the cloth.
Jesus, but he felt big and just for a minute I panicked, visions of him losing control and wanting to fuck me filling my mind and I wanted to yell out that I hadn't meant it, he couldn't do it, I wouldn't let him--but one look at his face told me it was OK and that he was suddenly as scared as I was.
I made reassuring noises at him and stroked at his stomach and flanks more gently for a bit while both calmed down a little and then I smiled at him, knowing it must be wavering at the edges but not minding.
"Going too fast," I said breathlessly and he nodded wordlessly, climbed off and came to lie down beside me.
I rolled so I could hold him and he came into my arms as naturally as if he belonged there and we lay and clung to each other for a minute. He felt warm and comforting against me, even the hard thrust of his prick was no longer frightening, just a promise of pleasure for us both. I pressed my own body to him.
"Mmmm--nice," he murmured approvingly. "You look good when you're randy--all eyes and your mouth open so far I can see your breakfast!"
I laughed, feeling the last of my tension draining away. It was good with Bodie, as good as I'd always dreamed it could be.
"Let's get the rest of our clothes off," I suggested. "It's usually a lot more fun that way."
"OK." He sounded almost shy and wouldn't look my way as he got up and fumbled with his trousers. I just stood and watched him, lusting happily to myself.
He'd got one leg out and was hopping around on it getting the other free when he noticed I hadn't moved.
"Into voyeurism, are we?" he demanded sarcastically. "I haven't got anything you haven't, you know."
"Maybe." I grinned. "But yours is a lot prettier!"
It was too--he's got a gorgeous backside, lovely skin and all smooth curves. Eminently huggable.
He paused, holding his trousers in front of himself aggravatingly.
"Get 'em off," he growled, staring at me.
I must have been high on something by that time because I really put my heart into removing those jeans and by the time I'd got them down his eyes were nearly popping.
"See?" I posed for him. "Not nearly so pretty as you."
"You'll do." He dropped his trousers and came closer. "Still want to go through with this?"
"If you do."
Silly comments really, we were both hard still, our bodies making their own declarations of intent--but then your body often talks you into things you mind knows bloody well it shouldn't do.
But I was past listening to reason and he was too, and he was close enough for me to reach out and touch so I did, just gently cupping my hand and taking the weight of him in it, running my palm along the underside with softly curled fingers.
I felt him gasp and shudder and then he was touching me and I lurched, my other hand clutching onto him for support, and we just stood there for a minute or two fondling each other, our hands on each other's shoulders, giving and receiving pleasure.
"Ray!" His voice was shaky.
"Have to lie down . . . before we . . . bloody well fall . . . down."
We stumbled down together, unwilling to let go of each other but needing to adjust our positions so we were both comfortable. We lay side by side at first, just caressing, but simply knowing it was Bodie's hand on me, that it was Bodie I held, his breath rushing over my neck, got me high so quickly I nearly didn't hear him when he spoke to me.
"Ray. Get on top of me. Please!"
This wouldn't take long, I thought dazedly as I rolled onto him, finding the hard thrust of him against my stomach oddly familiar as I adjusted our bodies, and then his arms came around me, caressing my back and he curved one leg and twined it around the back of my knee, holding me tightly above him.
"Come on, finish it now. Hard, Ray. Harder!"
So I thrust against him, feeling him pushing up strongly as I pressed down. We found a rhythm quickly but although the sensations were beautiful it just wasn't enough, and I found his need distracting so I abandoned my own urgency for the moment and slipped one hand between us, making a nest for him up against my belly.
He bucked so hard he nearly threw me off but I rode with him, licking at his neck which was the only spot I could reach.
That sent him right over the top and he shivered into climax, groaning against my ear and then relaxing, but without losing hold of me.
I lay on him quietly, my head up so I could look at him, just pushing against him with soft, undemanding thrusts, and when he'd recovered and opened his eyes once more I smiled down at him.
"Understatement," he mumbled, "'f the bloody year. How 'bout you?"
"Want me to do something about that?"
He tried to say it carelessly but he was smiling too much for that.
"Yes, please," I agreed humbly. "If you don't mind, that is."
"What will you do if I object?" he demanded, interested.
"Go in the bathroom and have a damn good wank!" I told him forcefully.
He shook his head. "Not a very good idea."
"Bit small, my bathroom . . . for the two of us."
"Doesn't take two of us," I reminded him. "Strictly a solitary occupation." I wriggled my bum just to jog his apparently failing memory as to what I wanted.
"Spoilsport! You mean you wouldn't let me watch?"
"Ask nicely then."
"Please, Bodie. Beautiful Bodie. Nice Bodie . . . "
It was an untidy sort of climax. I got myself all tangled up and was half slipping off him but I wouldn't let go, just held on grimly, revelling in the grasp of his strong and gentle hand. God, but he knew just how to hold me, I thought hazily, couldn't do it better for myself . . .
My hands and stomach were cold and sticky and there was a hell of a draught coming under his sitting room door, making unerringly for my backside, but I didn't want to move until he said protestingly, "You're a hell of a weight for a skinny little bugger, Ray Doyle!"
"Need a bath, too," I said, wrinkling my nose.
"Be my guest," he said largely, shutting his eyes and looking as though he was going to drop off right there.
I sat up, leaning against the sofa again and looked down at him, sprawled out on the floor, thinking that now I really knew what the phrase 'total abandon' meant.
"Shagged out," I murmured, smiling.
One eye opened. "So'm I," he agreed.
"No. You are!"
"I know. I just said so."
I gave up. "Only ten," I said, childishly not wanting him to fall asleep.
"Only ten what?"
A few seconds' pause and then: "Wassamatter? It is illegal before ten?"
"Not unless they've changed the rules."
"Oh, good." He lapsed into silence again.
After a bit I reached out with my foot and ran it up his leg to his crotch, wriggling my toes against his balls. They felt soft and warm and I could think of several things I'd like to do to them: I was just trying to decide which when he grabbed me by the ankle.
"It's awfully personal."
I sniggered. "I suppose what we were doing earlier wasn't."
"Not in the same way."
"You haven't got some sort of anti-foot fetish, have you?" I demanded suspiciously.
He opened both eyes, gave up trying to drop off to sleep and came to sit beside me.
"More beer?" he said, handing me a can.
"Thanks. Always makes me thirsty, sex does."
"Must be all that heavy breathin' then."
I grinned. "Could be."
He offered me the crisps but I shook my head. "Bodie!"
"Was it OK?"
He shot me a quick look. "I didn't find much fault."
"Can I stay the night?"
He looked round at me, frowning, pursed his mouth and shut his eyes in that droopy, irritating way he has and then he grinned and in his own, inimitable fashion, told me in once succinct sentence that everything was OK, that I hadn't put the team in jeopardy, hadn't spoiled our closeness.
"Stay the whole bloody weekend if you like!"
We had a smashing night, both of us losing more of our inhibitions and frankly exploring each other's sexuality as well as our own. He was an engaging lover, gentle but very sure about what he wanted and quite open about telling me. I avoided anything really heavy on purpose, sensing we may still spoil what was essentially a light-hearted romp by trying too much, so I damped down my curiosity about some of the more esoteric practices while inwardly making plans for more of this, any time we found ourselves short of a bird, and once we had really got accustomed to each other--well, I was willing to try anything with Bodie and to let him do what he wanted to me as well. I fell asleep in his arms, quite suddenly - -according to him in midsentence, but I don't always believe what Bodie says, a great teller of tales he is and a past mast at the art of putting you on.
It was very late Saturday morning when we surfaced but we had three whole rest days ahead of us, weren't even on stand-by: only the direst of emergencies would require our presence I woke feeling randy, I often do after a particularly good night and I paid him a little sleepy attention, wondering if he'd remember who he'd got in bed with him or whether he'd get a hell of a shock when he found out just who it was getting so familiar with his testicles.
He muttered my name without opening his eyes so I complimented him on the excellence of his memory.
"Don't be daft--my girlfriends' chins don't feel like yours," he said, rasping his own against it rather uncomfortably.
"How many's she's got?" I asked in a spirit of innocent enquiry, pausing in my explorations.
He put his hand over mind, dictating its movement. "Don't stop. That's nice!"
It was nice when he did it to me afterwards, too.
Over breakfast we were easy with each other and I was busy congratulating myself over the success of the whole enterprise. It had gone off even better than I had ever in my most optimistic moments thought it would.
I gazed at him limpidly over the rim of my coffee cup.
"I do have pretty good ideas sometimes, you must admit it."
He got up and cut another slice of bread prior to putting it under the grill.
"Um . . . yes, please."
"Greedy hog," he said, cutting it.
I was indignant. "I've only had the same as you!"
"Yeah--greedy hog!" He grinned. "Makes you hungry as well, does it?"
"Well, you expend a lot of energy."
"You certainly do," he agreed. "Athleticism and stamina too."
I smirked. "You're not so bad yourself."
"Ah, but I'm younger," he said, turning the toast and swearing mildly as he burnt his finger. "I thought you'd be over the top but for a but a man of your age--"
"Us old men," I said with dignity, "can teach you babes a thing or two any day of the week. You wanna try it with Cowley!"
There was a small clatter as he removed the grill pan and turned to the table, a slice of toast held delicately between each thumb and forefinger.
"Oh, no," he said "I don't!"
And he slid my toast unerringly down the front of my shirt and pressed his hand against it so I got there full benefit of the heat.
The noise after that probably led the neighbours to think a full-scale domestic was in progress in the vicinity but Londoners are notoriously reluctant to involve themselves in other people's lives and there was no sudden ringing at the doorbell.
We spent a lazyish day, played a game of squash and drove out to Hampton Court for dinner at the Mitre.
Over the brandy he said, "You coming back with me?"
There was a touch of shyness in his voice which I found very endearing but I had to tease.
"Actually," I said, lowering my voice intimately and leaning across the table to distract his attention from my left hand, "I was thinking about us both chatting up those two birds over there."
I indicated a table out of his line of view behind an ostentatious flower arrangement. He craned his head, trying vainly to see.
"What're they like?"
"One's tallish, blonde. Long, straight hair--" I knew Bodie was a sucker for that. "Come-hither eyes. The other's a bit older, more . . . mature."
He interpreted that the way I knew he would. "You mean she's fat."
"Oh, no," I said convincingly. "Plumpish, perhaps. Cuddly. But not that young. Mid-thirties at a guess. Looks as though she's been a raver in her time, too. Wanna give it a try? You never know, we might be able to make it a foursome!"
"You'd never have the bottle to ask," he said scathingly.
"After last night?" I demanded.
That threw him, although he covered it well. "Askin' me's one thing, askin' them's quite another."
"You can't see the way she's giving me the eye." I smiled blindingly in that direction, raising a discreet eyebrow. "See?"
I'd got him hooked, I was sure of it; his eyes had that look they get when he's hyped up. I slid my hand further under the table and began groping shamelessly beneath the too-brief white damask tablecloth.
He choked a bit on his brandy, eyes glazing.
"You little devil," he said, when he'd caught his breath. "Just wanted to get you in the mood," I assured him, drawing back again a bit reluctantly, having succeeded in that aim even better than I'd anticipated. "Shall we go and see if we can buy 'em a liqueur? They're just ordering coffee."
I saw him take a couple of deep breaths before he got up and I chuckled, knowing my wandering hand was responsible for that; I got up myself, leading the way out.
As we passed the party of Japanese business at that corner table I nodded pleasantly.
Behind me, Bodie stepped on my heel--painfully!
Out in the carpark he made a grab for me which I was laughing too hard to avoid, got an arm-lock on me and marched me towards the car.
"You," he said between clenched teeth, "are an unmitigated bastard and will get what you thoroughly deserve!"
"Oooh!" I said hopefully. "You gonna put your leather gear on?"
"No," he said, opening the door and pushing me into the driving seat. "You're going to drive--that way I know where your hands are."
I suffered during that drive, believe me. It wasn't that he actually groped me all that often, it was just waiting for him to do it all the time and never being quite sure that was so distracting.
As I pulled up outside his flat I said apologetically, "You're right and I'm sorry. I won't do that to you again."
"Good." His expression was cold and a bit unforgiving and I pulled a face to myself as I got out. It wasn't easy to upset Bodie's equanimity and I'd obviously done so: I was genuinely sorry for that and followed him in rather meekly.
In the hall he stood and looked at me, his face suddenly softening.
"You are a bloody idiot," he said.
"Yes," I agreed, not arguing.
"So make me a coffee," he said, disappearing into the living room.
I went out into his kitchen and switched his radio on before I put the kettle on, singing along with Barry Manilow--well anything was better than actually listening to him--while I waited for it to boil.
When I took the coffee in to him he was stretched out on the sofa again, his jacket and tie off and neatly parked on the back of a chair. He'd undone nearly all his shirt buttons too, very unBodie that, and was lying there with his eyes half closed and his mouth pushed out in a sultry pout. Very Brigitte Bardot! But I didn't dare say it aloud: there was still a distinctly lowering look to his eye as took his coffee.
I had just comfortably sat down when he said, "I couldn't half go an After Eight with this--how about you?"
"Yeah. Why--you got some?"
"In the bedroom."
"In the bedroom?" I echoed, grinning. "Suffer from night starvation, do you?"
"No, but Kelly did. Used to eat the bloody things like diets had gone out of fashion."
I remembered Kelly, a skinny thing, all hair and teeth. He'd complained at time about her huge appetite.
"You were only envious," I told him.
"Perhaps," he said, not moving.
"OK," I said, resigned. It was clearly my night for doing the waiting and in any case, I still had a bit of a guilty conscience over groping him in the restaurant. There were several people who could have seen us if they'd been looking our way--which they might have been for all I knew.
As I got up I said, "Did you mind about the girls?"
He looked up at that. "Nah--you're more than enough to cope with."
I chuckled and ruffled his hair as I went past. "Whereabouts in the bedroom?"
"One of the drawers in the top of the chest by the bed."
There was an incredible clutter of things in the first drawer but the one thing I couldn't see was a box of chocolates--there were paperbacks with bits of torn newspaper stuck in them for markers, odd pens and pencils, a box of elastoplasts and also a roll of it, a jar of vaseline, a small ruler, a pile of Access accounts held together with a neatly perished elastic band, a deodorant, two pairs of pliers and a screwdriver.
The second drawer at first looked less promising still as it seemed mostly to contain socks and handkerchiefs, but I could see a camera in there and the edge of a box which looked promising and I pushed the socks aside.
But as I picked it up, something else underneath it caught my eye and I drew it out incredulously.
It was a photo of me--not just an ordinary snapshot but an enlargement of a portrait-type shot a girl-friend of mine had taken when Bodie and I had spent a weekend with her and her cousin at their family's place in the country. She fancied herself as a bit of a photographer and played around for hours with a fancy camera she'd been given: I remembered this one, she'd taken it by their indoor pool when I was just wearing a white knitted jacket over my trunks and I was sort of frowning at her, trying not to show that I was getting fed up with the whole thing. I'd always found the result rather embarrassing, it made me look like some kind of model, posing for a living and trying to look enigmatic when I was really wondering if tonight's dinner was going to be as good as last night's and whether her mother would cooperatively go to bed nice and early again.
What I didn't know was where Bodie had got hold of a copy.
I sat down on the edge of his bed and stared at the bloody thing; it had a well worn look, as though it had been handled quite a bit and one of the corners was creased. My mind had gone into a sort of numbness, as though it wouldn't work--or didn't want to!
But I could only think of one reason why Bodie should have a picture of me hidden away in a drawer in his bedroom.
I don't know how long I sat there trying to decide whether I had an overfertile imagination or not, but it was long enough for Bodie to come looking for me in the end.
I was so lost in thought I didn't hear him come in and the first I knew of it was when the photo was twitched out of my grasp and chucked onto the chest of drawers.
I looked up.
"Feeling nosey were you?" he said nastily, his colour heightened.
"Bodie, I . . . "
He stalked out again, back rigid.
I got up and followed him into the living room. He sat down with his head bent, not looking at me, and picked up his coffee cup defiantly. It was a pity it was empty.
I perched on the chair arm. "Bodie!"
"Told you to shut up!"
"We've got to talk!"
"Nothing to talk about."
"There's us," I said as gently as I could and I reached out to touch him.
He flinched away from me. "Cut it out," he said savagely. "I don't need you poking your nose in. Just leave it alone."
"Doesn't it concern me?"
"No, it bloody doesn't," he said violently.
"Not even after last night?"
His head did come round at that, his eyes blazing at me. "What's last night got to do with it?"
Taken aback I said helplessly, "But I thought . . . "
"You thought we'd be good together, said you'd feel secure. What's the matter, suddenly realised you weren't as secure as you thought, have you? Must have given you a nasty little shock to find I've had lecherous designs on your body for months when you thought you were the one with the bright ideas." The words were tumbling out of him, spat out hard and staccato like bullets. "Well, you can take your precious body away so it's safe and I can't get at it, can't you? I shan't beg you to stay."
"You don't need to try and find an excuse," he sneered. "I quite understand. Go on, piss off, that's what you want to do, isn't it? Get out of here as fast as you can."
"No, it's not what I want," I said gently. "Bodie, don't do this to us."
I reached out and touched him again, finding his body was trembling violently.
"I want us to talk," I said evenly. "About us. I want to talk and you need to!"
"No, I . . . "
"Don't lie to me!" I yelled. "You've never done that, Bodie. You've always spoken your mind, told me when I'm behaving like a prat, and I need that honesty. I need you!"
I'd spoken harshly too, more forcefully than I intended. I wanted to be gentle with him but I couldn't--he'd frightened me with his withdrawal and the way he'd tried to reject me so thoroughly.
"If you really can look me in the eye and tell me you want me to walk out that door," I said more steadily, "then I'll go. But I've got to see that you really mean it."
His head jerked up, eyes fiercely alight, but he couldn't say it, not with any real conviction.
I let out a puff of relief. For one horrible moment I'd thought my bluff would be called and I wasn't sure what I'd do if it was. I smiled at him rather tremulously.
"Thought I was going to have to go for a minute there. You're a determined bugger, Bodie!"
His eyes fell again. "Probably be better if you did go," he muttered, a sort of helpless and yet wistful droop to his mouth.
I couldn't bear it.
"Don't look like that," I said, and I pulled him to me, hugging him, cradling his head and rocking him like a kid all at the same time.
He put up with it for a minute and then pushed me away. "Ray, if you're nice to me I shall probably break down and bawl all over you."
Looking at him I could nearly believe it, his eyes were all bright and sparkling.
"Bodie, why have you got that picture."
He took a long breath and let it out and then he leaned towards me, dropping his head against my chest as if he were tired.
"Nice to look at," he mumbled. "Gorgeous--sexy. Used to turn me on just looking at it."
"Why didn't you tell me you felt like that?"
"Don't be daft," he said scornfully. "'s not the sort of thing you go around telling your best friend, is it?"
"I told you last night."
"Why is it different?"
There was a long silence and I pushed him away a bit so I could see his face. My heart was pounding hard against my ribs.
"Why is it different?" I asked again. "What makes it so different from me telling you I wanted us to fool around."
His face had hardened again. "Why are you so ruddy determined to make me say it, Ray? Is it going to give you some kind of cheap kick to have me getting all emotional?"
"Why should it be cheap? Are you ashamed of loving me? You do love me, don't you?"
"No, I'm not. Yes, I do," he said defiantly.
"Then why won't you tell me you do? Surely you can see I'm not going to laugh and I'm sure as hell not going to leap about in a panic in case you want me to go to bed with you. More like to carry you there by brute force!"
"Oh, yeah," he jeered. "You and whose fork lift truck?"
It was no good, we were losing the closeness again and I wouldn't let it happen.
When I'd seen that picture and understood what it probably meant I'd had a whole lot of reactions all mixed up together in such a jumble it was hard to pick anything out of the muddle. Top of the bunch was an almost incredulity but faced with the evidence that it may just be true that Bodie had been treasuring a picture of me for sentimental reasons, I reviewed my own feelings for him and pretty quickly come to a definite conclusion.
He'd be damned easy to love.
At first I'd felt a surge of guilt that I'd pushed us into making it together but a second look at that said I was wrong to regret it. Falling in love with someone can be a conscious decision, I found--No, I'm not going to let this happen, or Yes, I am. If I hadn't already been to bed with him that aspect of the relationship, the strangeness of sex with another man, might have put me off, but I knew the sex was bloody good and there was nothing there to be afraid of.
There was only Bodie and his needs and I knew I'd do a hell of a lot of things for Bodie, fight for him, take a bullet for him, even die for him.
So surely I could live for him, be what he wanted.
Yes, it was very easy to fall in love with Bodie and I did it in a second, sitting on the side of his bed and looking at an overly come-hitherish picture of myself that had been loved nearly to tatters.
"Bodie," I said, looking down into those over-bright dark-velvet eyes, "if you want me to love you, you've only got to ask. You're already the most important person in my life. It's only a matter of degree how I feel about you."
He looked up at me, his face all blurry as though he didn't know quite what he was feeling and all he said was, "Ray?"
I could feel my own eyes getting hot. "You're a great fool," I told him helplessly. "And I do love you. You bloody know I do."
"Yes, but I didn't know it was like that," he said, starting to brighten up considerably.
"No--neither did I--so why didn't you tell me instead of living on dreams and a tatty photo."
"It was a very nice photo," he said with great dignity. "A deliciously artless little nipple beside a beautiful patch of hair 'n a gorgeous line of it leadin' down to a sexy little belly button--used to send shivers all up and down me thinkin' about runnin' me nose down that line of hair, all the way down to your sexy little prick."
"Not so much of the little," I said indignantly. "It's as big as yours."
"Nah, can't be!"
"Yes, it is."
"Go on, prove it. Let's have a look!"
Bodie was definitely feeling more like his usual self. I fended off his hands though and pulled them around me.
"I'll let you if you say it to me," I told him firmly.
He smiled, still with that enchanting lick of shyness about him, but he said it.
"I love you."
Three words to change two lives.
But being us we couldn't stay serious for long.
"So go on then. Give us a look!"
I stood up, pulling him with me.
"We," I said sternly, "are going to go into that bedroom, not to fool around and see what it's like making it together, but to make love. OK?"
"That sounds," he agreed, "like one of your better ideas. Professor!"
So we did.
-- THE END --