by c m

Chapter 10

Chapter 10

The evening party goes with a swing; some of the older guests have left and there are perhaps twenty new faces; all Luke and Chloe's friends. Nathan and I circulate – we're not the sort of couple that feels they have to be with each other all the time at a party – and I like pretty much all the people I get to talk to before the live band starts up.

I also get to meet Ben, Luke's younger brother. He's got shoulder length blond hair and he's wearing a subtle touch of make-up round his blue eyes. It suits him. The conversation doesn't get off to the best start;

'So you're the boy Luke fucked on holiday,' is his opening line.

'Well, that's one way of putting it, I suppose. Though to be fair I fucked him too.'

'He was all googly about you when he got back.'

'I was pretty googly about him, too.'

'But it didn't last.'

'No…no it didn't.'

'Guess it was just him getting his rocks off.'

'Well, it didn't feel that way to me…and I don't think it did to him either.'

'You know he started fucking me once you were out of the picture.'

All my instincts tell me that's not the truth.

'He told me you seduced him. And that you did oral. But I don't think the boy I loved would ever have fucked you.'

I can see that the fact I haven't risen to the bait surprises him. Instead, I detect the faintest of smiles on his, admittedly quite handsome, face.

'I suppose I can see what he saw in you.'

'Well, thank you. I can see that you share some of his good looks as well.'

He looks at me thoughtfully.

'You're all right,' he says, 'I thought you'd be an arse but you're not. You're gay, right? Not bi like Luke says he is.'

'Definitely gay,' I say.

'And you're with that good-looking redhead, yeah?

'I am, indeed, with that VERY good-looking redhead.'

He smiles.

'You been together long?'

'We've been together since soon after Luke dumped me. We got married just under a year ago.'

'Married? Wow, cool. And did you say Luke dumped you?'

'I thought so…but it looks like it might have been a bit more complicated than that.'

'Yeah, well, Luke's complicated alright…sexually and in other ways…still he seems happy with Chloe.'

'I very much hope he is. Do you have a boyfriend?'

He smiles ruefully.

'I got dumped a month ago.'

'Sorry to hear that.'

'I thought things were good between us, but it turns out he's a twat. Fucking some other boy behind my back..'

'That's a neat trick.'

He looks at me and then laughs.

'You're funny.'

'I hope you find someone who treats you better soon.'

'Thanks. And sorry about earlier. You're much nicer than I thought you'd be.'

'Already forgiven.'

'Thanks. Umm…do you dance?'

'I love dancing.'

'Maybe…that is…could I have a dance with you later…if your other half doesn't mind.'

'I'm sure Nathan won't mind. Just come and join us on the dance floor – that's where we'll be most of the evening. We both love to dance.'

'Will do. Oh, and you're right; Luke never fucked me.'

And with that he wanders off. It's been almost surreal.

And then the live band starts up. They're rather good.

Once the band finishes for the night, a disco takes over in its place. As I told Ben, Nathan and I love to dance, but while I'm a decent dancer, Nathan is something special. He is lithe and sinuous and his movements all seem to just flow into one another. He's a treat to dance with – and a treat to watch. He and I dance with each other, with Lindsay and Evelyn, with Luke and Chloe, with various bridesmaids and with Alex, one of the ushers who is also gay. I even manage to get Daphne onto the floor for a dance.

…and I also dance with Ben when he comes over. He turns out to be almost in Nathan's class. And once he's danced with me, he dances with Nathan. I'm sitting out taking a breather, and they are amazing to watch, attracting a little crowd of onlookers. They give each other a well-deserved hug at the end. Afterwards, Ben comes over to me;

'Nathan is fucking gorgeous and a magic dancer. I envy you. Wish I could meet someone like him.'

'Maybe you will.'

'That would be amazing.'

Nathan comes over to join me. He and I walk over to the bar. We both feel in need of a beer.

'You have a fan in Ben,' I say.

'He's a great dancer. Good looking too, no? And he said to me at the end there that if we were ever up for a threesome, he'd be there like a shot…don't worry, I told him that wasn't our thing.'

'Guess you have to admire the fact that if there's something he wants, he just goes for it…says what's on his mind. And yes, he's certainly easy on the eye. I hope he finds what – who - he's looking for soon.'

'Me too.'

We drink our beers and then make our way back to the dance floor.

When the DJ puts on the first of the slow records that signals the party is coming to an end, I've been dancing with Lindsay to the previous number, and Nathan's been dancing with Ben again. Lindsay looks across at Nathan and points a finger at me, asking permission. Nathan gives him the thumbs up.

'Would you have just one slow dance with me, Charlie?…then I'll let Nathan have you back.'

I smile at him, and put one arm round his shoulder and one round his waist. He does the same to me, and we gyrate slowly to the music. He leans his head in until it's against mine.

'You smell nice,' he says.

I become aware of his whole body slowly pressing against mine. And I feel him getting hard.

'My apologies,' he murmurs into my ear, 'but that thing has a mind of it's own…and you are very sexy. Don't worry, I don't have designs on you….but if you'd rather we stopped…?'

'I'll take it as a compliment,' I say. And I'm pleased that my own cock stays resolutely soft. Mostly.

At the end of the track, we give each other a kiss, and then let each other go. I look round for Nathan, who's just stepping out of an embrace with Ben.

'Hope you don't mind,' he says, 'but when Ben saw you dancing with Linz, he asked if it was OK for him to have a slow one with me. I think he hoped he might be on for something more, but I told him – again - how things were and he was fine with it…even if his hand did slip down over my bum from time to time.'

'Can scarcely blame him; you have a very nice bum. Now come and have a dance with me and let me give it a proper feel.'

We both giggle and then take each other in our arms. We are one of perhaps twenty couples enjoying the warmth of someone they love pressed up against them. Even Evelyn - who doesn't like dancing - is on the floor in Lindsay's arms.

The evening ends with a firework display of epic proportions and a final glass of champagne. Then we all wave Luke and Chloe off to their hotel, before retiring to bed.

Nathan and I are both exhausted. We barely have the energy to brush our teeth before falling into bed.

I wake up the following morning just after 9. I am feeling incredibly horny. I'm also feeling unusually 'toppy'. Once Nathan has woken up and used the bathroom, I tell him how I'm feeling and what I want.

'Well,' he says, 'that's a happy coincidence because I was just thinking how much I'd like to be fucked to within an inch of my life.'

I do my best to oblige.

I take him with his legs over my shoulders; with his knees beside his ears; doggy-style on the bed; on his side; straddling me; and bent over the bottom of the bed. We are in the missionary position with his legs wrapped round my waist when I empty myself for the third and final time inside him. It's been the most energetic sex we've had in months, and I roll off him completely spent.

'I don't think you've ever taken me three times in a row, Charlie.'

'You OK?'

'I think I'll be walking funny for a bit, and I'll probably be a bit sore, but worth every last bit of it.'

I give him a cuddle. And realise that he's still hard; but then I've only brought him to one – admittedly spectacular - climax during our whole session.

'I don't suppose you'd like to get some of your own back?' I murmur.

'What a good idea,' he says.

He takes me hard and fast, and my entire groin is soon awash with pleasure. The only words that get spoken are: 'harder', 'Nathan,' and 'please'. He obliges.

We end up in a sticky mess, and go and laze in the bath together for a good half an hour. There is no hurry. Brunch is not until 12, and it is still only 11.

'I've been thinking,' I say.

'First time for everything, I suppose.'

I flick water at him.

'As I was saying, I've been thinking and you know we've been wondering what to give the happy couple as a wedding present?'

'Go on.'

'How would it be if we offered them a long weekend at Sunnybanks for their first anniversary? I mean, I know we've bought them those eggcuppy things they asked for, but I'd like to do something a bit more special.'

'That's a great idea, Charlie. We can tell them over brunch.'

When we arrive downstairs, we are among the last to congregate in the drawing room. Luke's parents are there along with Ben and assorted aunts, uncles and cousins, most of whom I recognise from the day before. Linz and Evelyn are talking with Luke in one corner, and Chloe is in a group with Daphne and another lady who, from the family resemblance, I presume is Daphne's sister. Nathan and I are the only ones there who are not related in some way to, or a partner of, a member of the Marshall clan. I realise that it's an honour, but it makes me slightly uneasy, nonetheless.

We make our way over to Luke, who hands me a bundle.

'The shirt and trousers you so kindly lent me.'

'I have your other shirt and trousers upstairs.'

'Oh of course…I'll pick them up before we go. If you'll excuse me, I probably ought to go and rescue Chloe from my grandmother and great aunt.'

That leaves us with Linz and Evelyn.

'I was saying to Luke that I was happy that you two had been able to put the past behind you. I can't tell you how much it means to him – he was almost in tears telling me. I think that means almost as much to him as getting married.'

'I'm very pleased that we managed to put things right too.'

I look across and see that Luke is not rescuing Chloe. In fact, I can't see him anywhere.

'Umm..if you don't mind, I think I'll just go and put these clothes upstairs.'

I make my way back upstairs and enter our room. Luke is there. I wondered if he might be.

'Oh…hi Luke. What are…?'

'Sorry, Charlie…I just thought I'd get my shirt and things. Thanks for drying them…looks as though most of the marks have come out. Hopefully the rest will come out with a wash or dry-clean.'


We stand there looking at each other.

'Charlie…I…I'm pleased things are right between us…they are right between us, aren't they?'

'Yes, Luke, they're right between us.'

'I wish we could go back and start again.'

'We can't change the past, Luke – only the future.'

'I know….but if we could, would you?'

'Don't ask me that Luke, please.'

'Please hold me, Charlie.'

I go over and take him in my arms and he clings tightly to me.

'I love you Luke…but as a friend.'

'But you do love me?'


'And I love you too. Can we try and see a bit more of each other, perhaps?'

'I'd like that. Provided you're sure that won't just cause you more pain.'

'There can't be more pain than there has been without you.'

'Oh Luke, my Luke…you will always have a place in my heart, but understand that I love Nathan.'

'I know.' He pauses, then; 'Am I really still your Luke?'

'You will always be my Luke. My first love.'

I feel the tension drain out of him. He clings on to me less tightly.

'Knowing that is enough. Thank you. I can't tell you how much better that makes me feel.'

And I believe him. And his grip softens even further. It is now not much more than a warm embrace.

'And talking of seeing each other, Luke, Nathan and I were going to invite you and Chloe to come for a weekend at Sunnybanks – on us – for your first anniversary.'

His head snaps up.

'Really? Wow. That would be wonderful. More than wonderful. I'll ask Chloe, but I'm sure the answer will be 'yes'…it's very generous of both of you.'

'It will be our pleasure.'

He drops his arms and we are standing, facing each other, just a few inches apart.

'May we…have a last kiss?'

'Of course.'

Our lips touch. Once. Twice. Three times. Our lips are pressed tightly together at the end. But it goes no further.

'Let's go back downstairs.'

Buck's fizz is being served when we get back downstairs. As Nathan and I will both be driving, we just have orange juice. Daphne notices.

'You are very welcome to stay another night. It would be a shame to miss out on the celebrations just because you have to drive.'

'That's very kind of you, Daphne, but we do need to get back. We have a hotel to run. My mother is expecting us.'

'Of course. I understand entirely. Just let me say what pleasure it is to have had you to stay. How are things between you and Luke, if I may ask?'

'Things are fine, Daphne. All sorted, actually.'

I look at her.

'And if that was all part of the plan….it worked.'

She smiles.

'I always did think of you as a very smart young man,' she says.

The food, is an array of good things; croissants, scrambled eggs, bacon, kedgeree, muesli, quiche, pancakes…it just seems to go on and on. I notice Nathan is deep in conversation with Ben when Linz comes up and takes me by the elbow.

'I'm still intrigued by what you were about to say about Luke yesterday…any chance of you finishing the story?'

'About what happened when he came to stay?'

'Yes…if it's not too personal.'

I think about it. Maybe if Luke and I weren't now in a good place I would give Linz the blow-by-blow account he seems to want. But we are in a good place. And what we had was love and not just sex; I'm sure of that now. And to describe the sex would be to dishonour the love.

'I'm sorry, Linz. I think it is, perhaps, a little too personal. I'm sorry.'

'No problem,' he's gracious enough to say. There's a pause, and then, '…you really did love each other, didn't you?'

'Yes…yes we did.'

Our eyes meet

'So…two for two. Not many are that lucky.'

'No. I am lucky. Very, very lucky.'

'I hope we can stay in touch.'

'I'd like that. Come and stay with us, the two of you, sometime.'

'Perhaps we will.'

We embrace and exchange a kiss on the cheek.

'Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and get Nathan. We have a long drive ahead of us.'

'Of course.'

Nathan is evidently in the throes of saying farewell to Ben as I arrive beside them. Their hug seems genuinely full of warmth, and Ben finishes by giving him an unashamed kiss on the lips.

'I think we need to make a move,' I say.

'I was thinking the same thing. I've said Ben is welcome to come and visit sometime.'

'Of course, it would be a pleasure.'

'Thanks so much…it's been good to meet you,' says Ben, giving me a hug, 'and apologies again for I was at first yesterday.'

'All forgotten.'

We go and find Daphne to say our goodbyes.

'Thank you so much for your hospitality…it's made a wonderful weekend even more special.'

'It was entirely and genuinely my pleasure. And I shall definitely come and revisit your hotel.'

'We'll look forward to it.'

And then I need to say goodbye to Luke. He's with Chloe.

'Are you going?' she says. 'I'm so sorry we didn't have a chance to talk – Luke tells me you're a very special friend – and that you've invited us to stay in your hotel on our first anniversary. That is such a lovely present…thank you so much.'

And she kisses me.

'Well,' I say, 'we've had some interesting times together, but nothing quite like getting covered in raspberry sauce with him.'

She laughs. 'That was very funny – at least for those of watching. Thank you for letting him clean up in your room and giving him something clean to wear.'

'It was a pleasure,' I say, looking into Luke's eyes.

Nathan exchanges a few pleasantries with Chloe, while Luke and I say goodbye. We embrace one another tightly.

'Look after yourself, Charlie,' he says in my ear, 'and I'm so glad we've put things right.'

'You too, Luke. And I'm glad too. See you next year at the hotel.'

'I can't wait.'

A final squeeze and he reluctantly lets go of me. He gives Nathan a hug too. And then he walks with both of us to the car. Jenkins has already put our bags in the boot. Linz and Evelyn also emerge to wave goodbye.

'I'll take the first stint,' says Nathan, getting into the driver's seat.

I climb in the other side and buzz the window down.

'Thanks again…and have a lovely honeymoon.'

I wave from the window as we disappear down the drive until they are out of sight.

'Some weekend,' says Nathan.

'Some weekend,' I agree.

'Linz and Evelyn were nice, weren't they?' he says.

'I liked them a lot; and you seemed to get on well with Ben too.'

'Yes…I need to talk to you about him. He told me – and I think he was serious – that he's interested in hotel management as a career – or at least finding out a bit more about it before he commits. He wondered if we could help. He didn't know if we'd want to, given your history with Luke – but if everything is OK now on that score…'

'Why not? I'd be happy for us to help him if we can.'

'I mentioned that we take on extra staff over Christmas…I know that may have some echoes...but it might be a chance for him to see what actually goes into it.'

'That really would be kind of 'full circle' wouldn't it…are you sure he's serious?'

'I think so. '

'You do realise he fancies the pants off you?'

'He knows we're a couple.'

'Didn't stop him asking for a threesome.'

'I know. But it was a threesome he wanted – not just me.'

There's something in his voice.

'Nathan…are you saying that you think it would be a good idea?'

'Probably not - and I'm not saying we should.'

'Was he serious about that as well?'

'Oh definitely; it was almost the last thing he said when we had our goodbye hug: 'I meant it about the threesome' he said, 'it would just be bit of fun – no strings. Always wanted to do it with two boys together...and you two are sexy as hell.' I think those were his words.'

'No shy, retiring flower, is he?'

'Indeed…and as you said, easy on the eye.'

'I think you're about as much as I can handle at the moment.'

'Yeah…you're probably right.'

But I realise neither of us has explicitly ruled it out.

Back at the hotel, my mother is pleased to see us back.

'I hope the weekend went well,' she says., 'was everything…OK…with seeing Luke again?'

'It was a lovely weekend, mum, and Luke and I had a chance to talk and…everything's fine.'

'What a relief, I'm so pleased to hear it. I was worried.'

'And how has the weekend been here?'

'Absolutely fine. Jack has been a star – and so has the other college boy, Tim.'

'I didn't know Tim was going to help.'

'No, well, one of the girls called in sick and so Jack asked Tim if he'd be able to come in and he said yes, which was very kind of him.'

'Did Tim stay over?'

'Yes – that was alright, wasn't it?'

'It's absolutely fine,' I say.

But I'm intrigued to find out where he slept.

Nathan has taken our bags up to the apartment, and I make my way up there once I'm sure my mother is OK. He's in the kitchen uncorking a bottle of chilled white wine.

'I don't know about you, but I could do with a drink,' he says.

'You're a star.'

'Jack and Tim obviously did a great job; I think we should give them a bonus.'

'Agreed. Do you know where they are?'

'Jack is downstairs on reception. He said Tim had done a double shift starting at 6 this morning and was having a doze on the bed.'

'They shared the guest bedroom?'

'Yes…Jack was at pains to point out that although they'd shared the bed, Tim isn't gay so…what were his words?...'we didn't have sex or anything'. I guess that means that Jack's gay – not that it matters or is any of our business one way or the other.'

'Not that you have to be gay to enjoy a bit of fun together anyway.'


Half-way through our glass of wine, I hear the guest bedroom door open, and Tim comes into the kitchen. He's got pleasant, boy-next-door looks with a lick of brown hair that keeps flopping over one eye.

'Oh…sorry…didn't know you were back. I've just been having a lie down.'

'Jack said. Here, sit down and have a glass of wine with us. And thanks so much for stepping into the breech.'

'Oh, no problem…loved it, actually. Hope you didn't mind my sleeping over…'

'Not at all. It's all good experience for you. Hope you found the bed comfortable.'

'Very…I slept really well…apart from the fact that Jack snores. Oh…the fact that we slept together…that is, shared a bed together…doesn't mean…'

'It's fine Tim. Jack said. And in my time I've shared that bed with a straight friend. Not that Nathan and I would be likely to mind if you were gay, now would we?'

'Oh gosh. Sorry. You must think…that is…I didn't mean...'

'Relax. We're both just so incredibly grateful that you were able to help out.'

There's a clatter of feet outside and Jack comes into the kitchen. He has curly brown hair like me, and fresh-faced good looks.

'Excuse me Charlie…Nathan…but we could use you downstairs, Tim, if you're up to it.'

'Problems?' I ask.

'Oh no,' says Jack, smiling to reveal a set of even, white teeth, 'just we could use a hand in the restaurant now dinner's about to be served.'

'We'll go,' I say, 'you guys have been working your socks off for the whole weekend.'

'No, please don't,' says Tim, 'Jack and I would like to see the shift through – wouldn't we?' He looks at Jack who nods. 'If that's OK with you, that is. And you're enjoying a glass of wine after a long drive. You stay here and enjoy it.'

I look at Nathan. He shrugs.

The two boys bound off downstairs.

'They're good, aren't they?'

'Very. Really committed. Reminds me of us, actually.'

'Did you see the way they look at each other? Tim may not be gay but…there's something there between them.'

'Good friends, I reckon. Chris and I used to look at each other like that…a common bond.'

'Are they going home when the shift finishes at 10, or will they stay over?'

'Don't know. I'll give them the option. Probably depends on whether they have College tomorrow or not. And we need to pay them. How much have we got in cash in the safe?'

'What do we owe them?'

'Five ten hour shifts each…that's £500 plus a bonus…call it £600 each.'

'We should have that, I think.'

'I don't want the boys to think we're checking up on them, so let's have another half a glass of wine each before we go and glad-hand the guests.'


Jack and Tim are overwhelmed when we pay them.

'During the week when you're gaining experience is one thing; when you give up your weekend and come and help run the place, that's quite another, ' I say.

Tim looks at what we've paid him:

'I only did four shifts, not five; Jack only called me when Sam couldn't make it on the Saturday morning.'

'That's very honest of you, Tim. Why don't you share that £100 with Jack, then?'

'Really? That's amazing. Thank you so much.'

'Yes, thank you,' says Jack, 'and always happy to help.'

'It's great for us to know we have two guys we can rely on if we need it'.

'Do you want us to strip the bed?'

'No, don't worry. We'll do that.'

'OK…and thanks again.'

'The thanks are all ours.'

I put their sheets in the same wash as the dirty clothes we've brought back from our weekend. If they didn't have sex, they'd certainly both enjoyed a wank. And why not.

Nathan approaches me one day about a month later as I'm sitting in the back office looking through the monthly management accounts.

'Hi Charlie…I've had an email from Ben asking if working here at Christmas is a runner?'

'If you're sure he's serious, then of course it's fine – but as my mother once said to me about Luke: if he comes, he works; he does what he's told; he does it with a smile on his face; and he gets cut no slack.'

Nathan smiles. 'I'll tell him.'

It seems that Ben is fine with that.

Christmas is now only three weeks away. The hotel is decorated in traditional fashion and we are enjoying the calm before the storm; from the 22nd through to January 3rd we are fully-booked. Ben and the other extra member of staff are scheduled to arrive on the 20th which will give us time to prepare them and train them. We have agreed that Ben will have the guest room in our apartment, and Oliver – or Ollie as he told us he liked to be called when we interviewed him - the one spare room in the staff quarters.

Nathan also shows me the last email that Ben has sent him.

'Can't wait to be with you on the 20 th , very much looking forward to learning all I can about the hotel business.

…any chance of that threesome while I'm there…? 😉'

'He's persistent, I'll give him that,' I say.

'Do you think it might be fun?' says Nathan.

I look at him.

'Do you mean that?'

'Well…we could think of it as a bit of Christmas spice. Not that I'm complaining about any aspect of our sex life. But we're comfortable with one another, we like him…he's only here for two weeks and then he's gone…I just wondered…hey, it's up to you Charlie.'

'Let me think about it. Apart from the obvious, don't you think sleeping with him might make him think he somehow doesn't have to work as hard as everyone else?'

'I suspect he'd see it as a reward…a bit of a bonus.'


'I'll leave you to think about it. We don't have to decide today.'

And he heads off to oversee some last-minute work we're having done on one of the bathrooms.

The trouble is, the more I think about it, the more ambivalent I feel. It's fairly clear to me that Nathan would like to say 'yes' to the idea. And on the face of it, there's no reason why I should say 'no'. He's right; we are secure with each other and it does feel deliciously…dangerous. But…is the fact that we're even considering it symptomatic of some underlying dissatisfaction that neither of us recognises, much less can articulate? And what if it gets back to Luke? Or would that matter anyway? I can't resolve it in my head – but there's so much to do I put it to the back of my mind.

The 20th comes around in no time, and Nathan goes off to the station to collect Ben. While he's doing that, Ollie arrives, and I show him to the staff quarters.

We have five reasonably comfortable rooms for the full-time staff in a row at the back of the hotel - on the opposite side to the swimming pool. They aren't in any sense luxurious, but they are better than some of the very basic accommodation that staff typically have to put up with in the industry. Each room is, in effect, a studio with a bedsit, a small galley area with a microwave (staff eat in the hotel) and a shower room with a toilet.

'Make yourself at home,' I say, 'then when you've settled in, come and find me and I'll walk you round the hotel and tell you what we expect of you.'

'Thanks,' Ollie says, with a lovely smile, 'this looks great. Is the other Christmas helper next door?'

'No…Ben is staying in our apartment. It's a long story, but we know him through… a friend. Don't worry; he won't get any special treatment it's just we don't have anywhere else to put him.'

'Oh, OK. And do I call you Mr. Douglas, or…'

'Call me Charlie.'

Another smile. 'Thanks, Charlie. I'll just unpack and then I'll be with you.'

I make my way back inside the hotel. I have a good feeling about Ollie. I think he'll turn out to be a real asset.

The Merc is back in the drive, but there is no sign of Nathan or Ben, so I assume that Nathan has taken him up to the apartment to unpack. I climb the stairs, enter through the second-floor door, and sure enough there they are. Ben sees me.

'Hey! Charlie! Great to see you.'

I'm wrapped in an embrace as he flings his arms round me.

'Good to see you too, Ben. How's things?'

'Oh, OK. Still not found Mr. Right, so I'm still looking for my Nathan.'

He turns and flashes a smile at Nathan who smiles back.

'This is a really nice place – and the bit of the hotel I've seen is amazing. No wonder Gran and Luke liked it so much.'

The mention of Luke's name brings back unexpectedly vivid, and sudden, memories of his stay.

'Well,' I say, 'I'm afraid that you'll be on the opposite side of that experience for the next two weeks, but I hope you'll enjoy yourself.'

'Oh I'm sure I will', he says, with a smile that makes me remember the unresolved conversation I need to have with Nathan.

'Great, Well, get unpacked and then perhaps you could join me downstairs in ten minutes and I'll introduce you to Ollie who's the other Christmas extra, and then I'll show both of you around.'

'Sounds great. And thanks for having me.'

Ollie and Ben get on well. Very well. I have no idea if Ollie is gay or not, but if he is, then it wouldn't surprise me if they weren't an item within a couple of days. And that might solve the other issue as well. I'm also pleasantly surprised at how eager to work - and to please - Ben is.

But the threesome issue needs to be tackled before we get faced with it without having discussed and agreed what we are going to do about it – especially if Ollie is straight.

I share my thoughts with Nathan.

'OK…how about this? If Ben and Ollie get together, we don't pursue it; but if they don't, we say 'yes'. Let the fates decide. Or do you definitely want to say 'no'?'

I'm torn. But I realise that I don't 'definitely' want to say no. I guess that adds up to a 'yes'.

'OK, Nathan, that's what we'll do.'

The next two days pass uneventfully, but the big rush is now on us. The 22nd sees the beginning of the flood. Ollie and Ben work brilliantly, both together and with the rest of the staff; it looks as though we have picked a winning team.

At 10.30 as I make my way up to the apartment with Ben, I ask him how he's feeling.

'I've had a great day. Everyone's been so nice – staff and guests. If this is what it's like, I think this is definitely the career for me.'

'Well, I'm pleased you're enjoying yourself, and Nathan and I are very impressed with you – and Ollie. Although I have to say there will be days that don't go so well. How are you and Ollie getting on?'

'I like him, Charlie…I really do. It's such a shame he's not gay – he's really my type.'

Well that answers that.

'You're sure he's straight?'

'Oh yes…I told him I was gay and he told me he was straight…well, he said 'mostly straight'. I think that means he'd probably be happy for me to give him a blow job…but that's not what I'm after. Or at least not what I was hoping for. Although I'm not saying I wouldn't…he's quite good looking and I do really like him. But frankly, if it's a bit of no strings sex I'm after, I'd rather…well, let's just say my offer stands. In fact it would be a dream.'

He looks at me.

'You're really open about what you want – and determined to get it, aren't you?'

'I think life's too short to do it any other way, Charlie. And I notice you haven't said no.'

'I'll talk to Nathan about it. But it's definitely 'no' for tonight. I'm exhausted.'

He smiles. 'I'll live in hope, then.'

And he kisses me before walking down the corridor to his bedroom. He turns as he goes through the door and gives me a lingering gaze. Something in my stomach does a little flip.

In our bedroom, I tell Nathan about my conversation with Ben.

'So no relationship between him and Ollie. And he's still keen. And you've pretty much said it's a possibility. Are you OK with it?'

I think about the look he gave me and how it made me feel.

'Yes, Nathan. Let's go for it.'

'I think it will be fun… a lot of fun.'

In the morning, Nathan goes to talk with Ben. He's gone some time, but when he comes back he says that Ben is thrilled to bits and can't wait. It makes for a slightly odd atmosphere between the three of us during day - knowing what's coming - but Ben remains focused as the stream of arrivals becomes a veritable flood during the late afternoon. He is in charge of reception and I am, again, mightily impressed at how easily he seems to have slipped into the role.

I am busy double-checking the arrangements for the local carol singers who will be coming in to sing tomorrow, Christmas Eve, and the various other bits and pieces we lay on to make Christmas special for our guests – including preparing mini Christmas stockings. These are always warmly appreciated, but take a lot of work as they have to be individually designed and filled to fit the age and sex of the recipient.

Nathan is in conclave with Max in the kitchen. Ollie has some chef training in his background, and he'll be helping the other kitchen staff with the catering over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

It is a hectic schedule, and I'm not finished until after 11. When I get back upstairs, and go into the bedroom, Nathan and Ben are already in bed and waiting for me.

'I need a quick shower…I'll be as quick as I can.'

When I emerge from the shower, the fun has already clearly started between Ben and Nathan. I can't blame them; being naked in bed with someone you fancy is not a recipe for keeping your hands off them.

The three of us have fun. It can't be denied. A lot of fun. Ben is entirely a bottom-boy, but is full of energy and invention. He has a talented mouth and a seemingly endless delight in being filled from both ends. He is uninhibited and clearly revelling at being in bed with two boys he genuinely finds sexy. I think Nathan and he have more of a connection that I do but I have a very good time nonetheless.

It is close to 1am when he returns to his room. He's made us promise to do it again before he leaves.

'Any regrets?' Nathan asks, once he's gone.

'I guess not,' I say.

'You don't sound sure…would you rather not do it again?'

'It was fun, Nathan…and as a one-off, quite exciting. How about you?'

'Honestly? I loved every minute of it. I found it exciting, thrilling, erotic – and watching you fuck him was a real turn-on for me.'

'You'd like to do it again?'

'Yes…yes I would.'

'OK. I'm not anti the idea. And I suppose he is only here for two weeks. But it won't be top of my list of things to do with anyone else once he's gone.'

'I don't want to do it with anyone else either. But I'd like to do it again with him.'

'OK, then we will.'

We give each other a goodnight kiss, rollover, and fall asleep.

In the morning we strip the bed.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are full-on, relentless and exhausting for everyone. The prospect of sex of any sort couldn't be further from our thoughts. We all fall into our own beds, worn out, at night, and struggle up when the alarm goes off at 6 in the morning. To their credit, both Ollie and Ben are there beside us all the way.

The 27th is a day when quite a few of those who have been with us for Christmas leave, and are replaced by others coming for New Year. The change-over girls work at full-stretch. It is a quieter day overall, but we are all in recovery mode. I send Ben and Nathan off for a break after lunch; Ollie and I will have an afternoon break tomorrow.

On the 28th, Ben joins Nathan and me for another threesome that night. It's still fun, but I'm definitely not into it as much as the other two are. Not that that stops me from having achy balls by the time we are finished. But afterwards I tell Nathan that I don't want to do it again.

'That's no problem, Charlie. It should only ever happen if we both want it to. That's fine with me. It was fun, but it's done.'

'Poetry too, huh?'

'I'll tell Ben tomorrow. He's had what he wanted, I'm sure he'll be OK with it too.'

Apparently he is. He certainly doesn't ask for a third session.

New Year's Eve is another big occasion at the hotel. As Ben and I are decorating the dining room once breakfast is over, I ask him how things are between him and Ollie.

'Oh they're great. And I was right. He's more than happy for me to give him a bj. Well, we've had several actually. He even wanked me off afterwards last time. Given time, I reckon I could turn him. Wish I could. He's really nice.'

On New year's day we do brunch and not breakfast. It gives everyone a bit more time to get over the festivities. I have to get up early anyway as I'm the duty staff; last year it was Nathan's turn, this year it's mine. I struggle into the shower at 6, and am downstairs by 6.30. I leave Nathan in bed.

At about 8 I realise that I've left my passkey up in the apartment. I make my way up to the bedroom to retrieve it. It's on the side, but there's no sign of Nathan. I look in the kitchen and then hear sounds from the guest room. I wonder if Ben has finally turned Ollie. But the voices from inside the room leave me with a sick feeling inside. I open the door, and there is Nathan, buried deep inside Ben - who has his knees beside his ears - on the bed.

'Oh my god!' says Nathan, hearing the door open, 'it isn't what…'

'What it looks like?' I finish. 'I think it's exactly what it looks like. I want you out of here today, Ben. I'll be downstairs, Nathan.'

I leave the door open as I walk out. I am numb. It is only the fact that I have to be the member of staff on duty, that I have to be there for the guests, that stops me from breaking down.

I call my mother at 9 and ask if she can come in and help. I just tell her that Nathan and one of the staff are unwell. I tell Ollie that Ben has had to go home unexpectedly. He takes it at face value and is utterly brilliant, taking over Ben's jobs as well as his own.

When Nathan comes back from taking Ben to the station, we just look at each other, and by silent agreement go up to the apartment. We ought to have a blazing row. But we don't. He is hugely apologetic and remorseful, and desperate to put things right. He says it was lust, pure and simple. I want to say that there isn't much that's pure about lust – but the memory of my shower with Luke at the wedding comes back to haunt me.

I ask him if the session I walked in on was the first and only. He is honest enough to tell me that it isn't. I ask him if he would prefer to be with Ben. He says no. I ask him if sex is better with Ben. He says no. He begs my forgiveness. He says he still loves me. He asks me if I still love him.

Do I? I try to rationalise it. We've both had sex with Ben. We've done it together. Nathan's not done anything with Ben that we haven't both done physically with him. Ben was going home in three days anyway. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Is it worth wrecking what we have – and possibly the business – over? Aren't all the things I love about Nathan the same as they always have been. I realise that it's the trust that has gone and not the love. But love cannot survive without trust.

He's waiting for my answer.

'I still love you, Nathan…but I don't trust you anymore. I don't know if we can survive that.'

'Please can we try?'

And we do try. But things aren't the same afterwards. Although we do our best to make things work for the sake of the business, the ground is unsteady underneath our feet.

On their first anniversary, Luke and Chloe come to stay - as invited. But it's clear from the outset that their marriage is in trouble. Luke takes me on one side and says that this stay is pretty much their last attempt to make it work.

On the Sunday afternoon, Chloe goes up to her room for a lie-down and I invite Luke up to the apartment for a talk between old friends. Nathan is visiting his parents. I make us both a G&T and we go and sit beside one another on the sofa.

'It's so good to see you,' he says.

'You too.'

'You've no idea how much I've missed you since seeing you at the wedding.'

'We must try and see more of each other. It's just…running a hotel…'

'It's OK. I understand.' He gives my knee a squeeze with his hand.

'What's up between you two?'

'I think we've both made a mistake,' he says, 'you see, I can't give her what she wants, and she can't give me what I want.'

'Tell me more.'

'She wants a baby. I don't.'

'Didn't you discuss this before getting married'

'No…no we didn't. I think she just assumed that every married couple would want kids. But I'm not ready to become a father.' He pauses and looks me steadily in the eyes. 'Actually, it turns out I'm not even ready to be a husband, Charlie.'

'What do you mean?'

'She's not you, Charlie.'

It's as though the words are ripped from him. And they strike me in the heart like an arrow.

'I thought I knew what I wanted…needed. I thought when you came to the wedding that would give me the closure I needed. But, god forgive me, it didn't. It just reminded me…it just….'

He is on the verge of tears. I pull him to me and wrap my arms round him.

'But…I've made my bed and I must lie in it…anyway…tell me about you two. How are things with you and Nathan? Still very much in love, I hope.'

'I wish that were true, Charlie, but…you know your brother, Ben, came to work here at Christmas?'

'Yes…my parents said something about it when we visited them on Boxing Day. I wondered why he wasn't there. It made me jealous, actually, that he would be spending time with you. I wished I could be him…the first time that's ever happened,' he adds with a rueful smile. 'But what's that got to do with you and Nathan?'

'Oh, Luke…the long and the short of it is that we had a threesome…Nathan, me and Ben. It was Ben's idea.'

He just sits there open-mouthed. 'You…he…three…you WHAT?'

'I know, I know. Long story, but then on New Year's Day, I walked in on Nathan and Ben having sex. Just the two of them. Nathan buried up to the hilt in Ben. Grunting and groaning. And, well, things haven't been the same since. I do love him, Luke, but….'

Now it's Luke's turn to comfort me as it is my turn to be on the edge of tears. We are hugging each other, and our foreheads are against one another…and then suddenly we're kissing each other…and then he's scrabbling with my belt and I am doing the same with his and then our faces are in each other's groins as we take one another in our mouths. And when he comes, the taste of him is just as I remember.

Afterwards we rearrange ourselves as if nothing has happened.

But we both know that it has.

A flame that has always flickered in Luke has become a fire, and an ember that has always been glowing in my heart is now burning brightly.

And when Luke leaves, we kiss and we hug. And it's no longer just the kiss and the hug of friends.

And the ground has shifted further beneath my feet.

And this time it's all my doing.

Nathan senses that something has changed, even if he's not sure what it is. He asks if Luke and I had sex, and I tell him what happened. I ask him if, as I suspect, he's in touch with Ben; he confesses he is. He asks if I love Luke, and I say that part of me has always loved him. He asks if I love Luke more than him; I answer honestly and say that I don't know. I ask him if he loves Ben more than he loves me; he says 'probably.'

This honesty clears the air, but we are both realistic enough to know that there is no way back for us any more.

Nathan and I separate almost exactly two years after we got married. We part amicably – and he voluntarily offers me a written agreement withdrawing any claim he might have on a share of the hotel. I give him a generous settlement that he uses to buy a house. Ben moves in with him less than a month later.

Three months later Luke calls and tells me he's divorced.

I said that the rest of my story is mostly cause for regret. But the bit which isn't, is that Luke moves in with me.

On the day he's due, I am on tenterhooks. I am looking out to see if he's arrived every five minutes for about an hour before I know he's due. My mother has taken over reception and Jack, who's now working for us full-time, is duty manager for the day. I have the whole day off.

When Luke's car pulls up on the drive outside, I can scarcely bear to look. And then he's bounding up the steps. As he comes through the door, he holds his arms out towards me. I fall into his embrace and hurry him upstairs. It's just like the way we first hurried back to the hotel from the beach as sixteen and seventeen year olds. And there is exactly the same thing on or minds.

We strip before lying on the bed together. I run my hands over the body I know so well. It is still firm in all the right places. Five years seem scarcely to have left a mark. That we still feel the same passion that we had for each other when we first met is beyond doubt – as our erections attest.

'Can we do this like the first time, Charlie?' asks Luke.

I smile and straddle him, guiding his beautiful, familiar, circumcised cock into me. As it slides in to its full length, it brings me pleasure beyond words.

We spend the afternoon in bed just revelling in one another's bodies again. And when I finally enter him, he tells me I am still the only boy ever to have done so.

Over the next few days, and in this first flush of our rediscovery of each other, we spend a lot of time in bed together. We are at the height of our sexual energy and power, and Luke has a hunger for me that I am more than happy to try and satisfy.

But today he's been content to let me take the initiative for a change.

'That felt wonderful,' he says, as I roll off him, 'but now I've got something for you'.

He gets up off the bed and pads over to the fitted wardrobe where his clothes are hanging. I see him reach into the pocket of a coat or jacket – I can't see which – and then he comes back to bed carrying a package wrapped in silver paper.

'For me?'

'For you.'

I unwrap it carefully. Inside is a box. And inside the box…is a braided leather bracelet with a gold clasp.

I gasp.

'Luke…this is the same sort as the one I saw in the jewellers that day we took the train trip.'

He smiles.

'It isn't the same sort, Charlie – it's the same one. I didn't lose my wallet that day – I just went back and bought it for you because I saw how much you liked it. I was going to give it to you that first Christmas. I've kept it ever since as a reminder of you – and because I never lost hope that one day I would have the chance to see you wearing it.'

I clip it round my wrist - and burst into tears.

I still wear it every day. As a reminder of my first love.

A first love has turned out to be my true love.

What I once had, I have again.

What we once had, we have again.

I am the luckiest boy in the world.

The End

This is entirely a work of fiction. Copyright rests with the author.

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