by Rob Armstrong

This hotel was not my first choice!

But, it's my own fault for leaving the booking to the last minute, so I guess that I have to accept the compromise to what I had intended originally!

And, no, it hadn't slipped my mind that the massage training clinic was beginning tomorrow. After all, 'Book accommodation' is in my phone's calendar, and I even set a reminder two weeks ahead!

However, if a person firstly ignores a reminder when the alert goes off, and then neglects to re-set it, what do you expect?

I even dismissed mum's 'friendly' reminders to do it as nagging, and put it even further from my mind.

I rationalised that my final high school assignments were more important to focus on, and that I would get around to the hotel booking in the next day or so.

After all, I didn't need five-star accommodation. Far from it. But, apart from wanting something of acceptable quality at a reasonable cost, there was the practical consideration of its proximity to the college's hired rooms for the massage clinic and technique refinement..

I've driven mum's car around the block twice now and I still can't see any entrance to the car park! The hotel booking app did indicate that there was parking for guests. However, I don't consider a parking meter almost adjacent to the neon 'Reception' sign to be on-site parking!

I turn off the engine, check my booking confirmation email against my GPS. Yes, this is the correct address, opposite the park that extends back to the next street. This is the hotel that I booked. Last night.

OK! Two dollars in the meter should give me sufficient time to do whatever needs to be done inside, and solve the parking issue.

I leave my backpack in the car, ensure that the hazard lights flash twice to indicate that the car is locked, as mum cautioned me to do, and I feed the meter.

To further rile my emotions, as I step out of the car, the air is hardly fresh! It's not like at home, out on the green fringe of the city. What is that smell? It's not even garden fertilizer!

I check the soles of both shoes to verify that I haven't just stepped in something. How often do they collect garbage here in the city?

At least, when I push the reception door open, there is no smell, apart from the aroma of wax or polish. The floor is shiny and everything that I see is clean. The air conditioning is certainly effective! But it's a little too cool for my liking.

I am greeted by the receptionist. No, 'greeted' isn't the right word. Acknowledged? Well, almost, if brief eye contact counts as acknowledgement, before she turns her face sideways to me.

While 'Martine' (according to her name tag) continues her phone conversation, I stare at her non-phone-covered ear gaping at me, telepathically willing her to hang up and talk to me.

From what I overhear, one of the guests is asking for a taxi or an Uber to be booked to go to the airport and Martine is struggling to get the time and terminal details correct. I hear her repeat amended information, more than once, which would probably not please the guest on the other end of the phone.

Not wanting to eavesdrop, I walk back to the door and look out. There's the meter. Ticking my time away. And my $2.

I count five empty taxis pass the door before I perceive Martine hanging up.

"I won't be a minute," I hear. The comment was obviously intended for me.

I look around. However, she is back on the phone.

Then, as Martine struggles to accurately convey details to the hire company, as she did in collecting them from the guest, I watch more empty taxis pass.

'Good luck with your booking!', I think to myself, and I hope that you don't have to get to the airport in a hurry!

I would have booked the taxi or Uber myself!

My advice to the guest would be to come downstairs and hail one!

"Now!" Martine says in a raised voice. I turn towards her voice again. Her stare of apparent impatience, and body language, does nothing to assuage my current frustration.

"Good afternoon," I say, approaching the desk, expecting a civil response. Nothing.

I smile, "I have a booking. Robert Armstrong."

Martine utters a sound that is part hum and part grunt, and proceeds to shuffle a stack of papers on the desk, then turns her attention to the computer.

I instantly have a bad feeling about this!

"I'm sorry Mr Armfield, I can't see your booking," she says.

"Armstrong," I tell her, and I spell it.

She repeats her hunt, this time accompanied by much head-shaking.

She resorts to old technology. Pen and paper.

She begins to take down my details. I lean on the reception desk and watch while she carves them into a note pad. Apart from misspelling my name by omitting two consonants, her handwriting is irregular, with the occasional frenzy of upper-case letters included. She has obviously 'slipped through the cracks' of our education system!

Her stylish blouse, starchy-white with black buttons and black trim on the cuffs and collar seems somehow out of place on Martine. Her hair is over-styled and makeup excessive.

"Mr Amstrog," she says, referring to her hieroglyphs, "I'm sorry, but we seem to have no record of your booking. When do you think that you made it?"

Her inference is that the stuff-up is my fault! My patience is greatly tested. The parking meter isn't the only thing ticking!

Instead of engaging her in what I can see would be a meaningless and fruitless Q&A, I retrieve the print-out of my confirmation email and hand it to her. I berate myself for not doing that in the first place!

She checks the computer again, shaking her head and pressing multiple function keys repeatedly.

"Excuse me," she says. "I'll just check with our duty supervisor."

'Great!' I think. 'Passing the buck! Now I'll be subject to two poor excuses for customer service, instead of one!'


While she is gone, I confirm on my phone's calendar that it is not April Fool's Day. And I look around for the 'Gotcha' Hidden Camera. Nope. This is for real!

If it weren't for the fact that there was no other accommodation available within cooee of the clinic when I looked up different hotels last night, I'd be tempted to just walk out, now.

I move towards the door and imagine that I can see the meter running, quickening to double time. Any more delays and I'll have to feed it again.

"Mr Armstrong," I hear.

It's a male voice. A pleasant male voice.

I turn around and see that the pleasantness of the voice has emanated from a genuine customer-service face.

On him, black and white looks immaculate. And he has actually come out from behind the desk! He extends his hand; not really as per the current health and safety advice, but I accept it, gladly.

"My Name is Evan," he says, smiling. Engagingly. "I'm the afternoon duty supervisor. My shift is almost over, but I'm very happy to help sort out our little problem before I clock off."

'Our problem' I hear, with the word 'our' emphasised, meaning his, not mine.

"Thank you," I tell him.

I don't need to repeat everything that I've told Martine because I can see that Evan is holding both my email confirmation and her etchings.

"Firstly," he says, still looking directly at my face, "I would like to explain Martine. She is a 'special-needs student' on work experience from TAFE, and the computer system has been playing up for the past two days which has really thrown out her confidence. I normally stand beside her, but her supervisor has requested that she try to handle some things on her own in off-peak times but, also, that I should not be far away. She has been having a bit of a hard time today. So, thank you for your patience."

If Evan were a doctor, his bedside manner would be impeccable. Not only is he pleasant, but he has apologised for the error, displayed empathy for Marine and is happy to stay beyond his rostered time to help me. Not Martine's fault, apparently, poor girl! I'm glad now that I kept my cool. That is something which I have learned over six years at my all-boys school! And, in living with a little sister!

He says, "Your booking did not come through from the app to our hotel system last night, Mr Armstrong, but I will certainly be able to rectify that for you."

He smiles.

I smile back, and have to say, "Thank you, Evan. But, if you don't mind, 'Mr Armstrong' sounds like my dad. Could you possibly call me 'Rob', even though I suspect that it's not usual hotel protocol to call guests by their first name?"

He flashes me a brilliant smile. I immediately feel the stirrings of an attraction.

"If you insist, Rob," he says. "The customer is always right." Then, without seeming at all mechanical he asks, "May I offer you a tea, coffee or mineral water, while I organise a room for you."

"Water would be great," I tell him. "Thank you, Evan."

He returns to the desk, lifts the phone, presses a button and says, "Martine, would you please bring Mr Armstrong a mineral water."

While Evan taps a few keys on the computer keyboard, Martine appears, hands me a bottle of water and bobs as if curtseying to royalty.

"Thank you, Martine," I say.

It's the first time that I have seen her smile, albeit somewhat shyly. Then she quickly retreats to stand beside Evan and watch him.

I undo the cap and take a few sips.

"All of our standard rooms, as you requested, are occupied," Evan says, "but I'll put you in a deluxe room at no extra cost to you. And again, I apologise for any inconvenience."

He smiles for longer than I would have expected. His green eyes are almost hypnotic. I'm entranced.

"Thank you, very much," I say. Then I have to ask, politely, "The booking app said that you had on-site, under-cover parking. I couldn't see the entrance, so my car's sitting out there, at the parking meter."

In my mind I add, 'And it's still ticking!'

"Yes, indeed," Evan says. "We have valet parking and the entrance to the underground is from the laneway alongside the building. Next time you stay with us, just pull into the laneway. It's our property, so there will be no problem with the parking rangers. I'll drive your car down myself." He adds, "And, for your trouble, I'll take $10 off your room tariff."

He types something, presses a key and the printer on the desk behind him spits out a piece of paper.

I sign it, give him my newly-acquired credit card, which he swipes and returns to me together with an electronic door key. "Room 705" he says. "One of our best. Any bags that you don't want to get from your car, I'll bring to the room for you, when I come up from the garage."

I tell him that I'll retrieve my one piece of luggage and take it up myself, "But thanks for offering."

I return with my backpack and hand him my car keys. He indicates the location of the elevators. "Be up shortly, Mr Armstrong, I mean Rob," Evan says, obviously still adjusting to the informality of using my first name.

He turns to Martine. "I'm just going to take Mr Armstrong's car down," he says. "Are you OK, holding the fort? The others should be here in a few minutes." I assume that he means the next-shift staff.

Evan heads for the door.

Martine avoids eye contact, and I head for the elevator.

Inside, it contains photographs of the city's tourist attractions. And a mirror, which is an invitation to do the usual self-assessment; my hair is tidy, body looks great when I contract my abs, my teeth are still white and, yes, I did remember to do up my zipper after taking a 'wizz' just before I left home.

During the trip to the seventh floor, I think about Evan. Apart from his extraordinary customer service, what fills my head are images of his body. His broad chest, his flat stomach and the tightness of his black trousers, back and front, and the obvious firmness in each. And his smile. I muse that he would make an ideal subject for me to practise any new massage techniques on! Even suitable as an art class model (clothing optional)!

My reverie is interrupted by a bell and the parting doors.

I put my backpack down. The suite is spacious, with a queen-sized bed plus a single, both with matching sky-blue covers and an assortment of pillows and cushions in blue and yellow tones.

Microwave and coffee-making facilities.

For the time being, I ignore the TV and the minibar and focus on the hotel directory. The usual stuff – map of the city, where the local medical services and restaurants are, etc. I note that the hotel has a pool, gym and hot tub on level 2. I might need to utilise one of those after a hard, perhaps massage-oily, day tomorrow.

I check out the bathroom. Wow! Spa bath, double shower behind clear glass, toilet, vanity, large mirror. Very clean. Very modern, with black fittings emanating from textured white tiles.

Returning to the living area, I draw back the thin mesh curtains; the heavy ones already having been set to the sides. The room looks east, over the park, so it will get morning sunshine.

Seven floors up, I can see over the tree tops, but still clearly make out the people below.

I'm admiring the views, with shadows creeping across the park when there is a knock at the door.

I suddenly remember that Evan has my car keys.

At least, I hope that it's Evan at my door and not Martine! Nothing against her. I just hope that it's him.

I open the door. Evan smiles. "Hi Rob," he says. "Is everything to your liking?"

I invite him in. He firstly returns my keys then gives me the 'quick tour' of the unit. I don't tell him that I've checked out everything. However, his presence certainly adds value to what I've already seen.

"The sunrise at this time of the year is spectacular!" he tells me, walking towards the window, and then asks, while turning to face me, "Will you have anyone to share it with?"

I think, that this is a strange, personal question!

"No," I reply, then add, "Unfortunately!"

He smiles, more broadly at my additional information. More of a grin than just a polite acknowledgment, I think!

His eyes and his rapidly-closed mouth tell me that, maybe, he could have been about to offer some room service to overcome my aloneness, but then thought better of it.

Instead, when he speaks, what comes out is, "So what brings you in from the outer suburbs, if I may ask?" He has obviously noted my address on the registration form.

"I'm here for a student massage therapists' clinic over near the Hilton," I answer him directly. Then I add, "I forgot to book my accommodation earlier, and, last night, your place was the only one within walking distance that had good rooms available. At least, according to the booking app."

"Well, that's our gain, and somebody else's loss," he comments. "Yes, there are not many rooms around, because of all the supporters in town for the critical football game this weekend."

I comment, "Home and away games always attract loyal fans, don't they? That must be good for business."

"Yes, but the benefits are not always about the income," he says. "For me, it's that I get to meet a variety of interesting people." He grins. "Massage therapist, eh? It's certainly a pleasure to meet you."

I'm tempted to return the compliment. Very tempted.

He hands me a business card and checks his watch. "I'm off duty now until tomorrow morning, but I would be happy organise anything that you need. Even if it's at night. Anything! Just let me know." He points out his direct phone number on the card. "That one goes to my room down on level 2, right next to the gymnasium. I live on site in case of emergencies."

I look at his smiling face. Is there something going on here? Not that I'm offended! I'm not sure whether I'm interpreting his signals correctly, or is it just wishful thinking, or one of my usual fantasies?

"What's the gym like?" I ask him. "I don't get enough time to workout at home. I always seem to have assignments or study to do. And, especially during footy season, when everybody at school develops aches and pains, or injuries that they want me to fix."

"Would you like to see it?" he asks. "The night shift would have taken over downstairs, so I have no further work commitments today."

"Sure, why not?" I answer. "Just give me a few moments to unpack and put everything where I can find it again. I could even put my gym gear on. What do you think?"

"Yeah, OK. And, while we're in there, if there is any piece of equipment that you're not sure about, I could show you how to use it, so that if you want to have a workout while you're here, you'll know the correct techniques."

I smile, "Yes. I know that proper techniques are important. That is why I'm here in the first place. Massage techniques."

I take out my clothes, hang up my pants and a jacket, put underwear into one to the drawers, and put a T-shirt, gym shorts and shoes to one side. I place the toiletries in the bathroom and stow my backpack in the bottom of the wardrobe.

Now, should I go to the bathroom to change? Or just do it here, in front of Evan. He's not too much older than me.

Women change in private. Men don't care. They can drop their gear in front of mates while continuing any conversation. I don't have a problem when it comes to the change rooms at school or the football ground or the local swimming pool!

I don't care. Evan asks about my massage work while I strip down to my underpants then pull on the T-shirt and shorts. I sit on the bed and do up the Velcro straps on my gym shoes.

I'm aware that Evan has been happily studying me closely the whole time. He has a great smile!

We take the elevator down to level 2 and follow the signs towards the gym. We stop at a door without a number. Evan takes an electronic door card from his pocket and invites me into his room. "I may as well change too," he says to me.

His 'room' is actually a two-bedroom suite, with a kitchenette, which my room doesn't have. His windows also look onto the park directly opposite and, being just above the street traffic, he has an uninterrupted view of everything. The poplar trees would screen out the morning sun in the summer but let the pale light through in winter. From here, autumn would be a colour spectacular until the leaves all fall.

I decide to be a little cheeky, and, following him to the bedroom, reflect back at him one of his questions to me: "So, do you have anyone to share this amazing suite with?"

He smiles, knowing exactly where that comment came from, and starts removing his 'uniform' one piece at a time, placing them on hangers to prevent creases.

"Touché," he smiles. "And, no. Well, yes, occasionally." He adds, "The bedrooms and the living room all look across to the park. Great view!"

I skip the niceties about visitors and relatives coming for lunch or dinner and get straight to "Do they like waking up to the morning sunshine?" I don't need to ask whether they stay for the night. That's implied.

"That is one of the attractions," he smirks. Then adds, "And, who wouldn't want to wake up in your room, too?"

This has the potential to become a game of double entendre, before one of us ends up asking a direct question about bedfellows. Or offering an invitation.

He doesn't stop at underpants. He removes them before hunting out a pair of red Speedos from one of the drawers, pulling them up and then covering them with a pair of gym shorts, not unlike my own. He certainly presented me with a nice view, full-on, while it lasted!

It's pretty obvious that now is not the time to back off, and he still hasn't put a shirt on. What do they say? 'Lost an opportunity? Don't worry; somebody else found it!'.

"It's quite apparent that you spend a lot of time next door, from what I can see," I tell him, nodding towards the gym. "Congratulations on the excellent muscle tone! I don't see too many bodies that look as good as yours. Even in the showers at school."

"Yours is pretty good too," he says, returning the compliment. And the conversation continues to heat up. "Do you enjoy massaging good-looking bodies?"

"Absolutely!" I reply, grinning. "Whenever I get the opportunity."

He smirks.

Looking at each other's smiling face, I suspect that I know where this is heading. And, so does he.

"Would you enjoy like the opportunity to massage this one?" he asks, smirking.

"Definitely!" I answer. I can play the game too. "Any part in particular that needs attention?"

"How about all of it?" he grins, pulling his gym shorts right up to highlight the outlines of his cock and balls.

We now both know that we have dialled in to each other's frequency!

"What would you say about skipping the gym, for now?" he puts to me. "That is, if you would be willing to demonstrate your skills on my body?"

"You have any massage oil?" I ask, "Or, should I go back upstairs and get some."

That puts everything beyond doubt!

"All good," he says. "I have everything that you might need, right here." He pulls open a drawer. "Why don't you come and select whatever you want to use."

His drawer contains not only a bottle of baby oil, but a tube of strawberry lube, condoms, a variety of dildos and some other sex toys.

"Let's start with the oil," I say, taking it out without removing anything else, but not dismissing it either. And I leave the drawer open.

"I don't have a massage table," he says. "Would on the bed be OK?"

"Of course," I answer. "What about some towels? To protect the bedclothes? Maybe even remove the covers first."

He doesn't hesitate in pulling the duvet down and laying some towels on the sheets.

"Now, how do you want me?" he asks.

Multiple responses run through my brain before I answer, "If I can see it, I can massage it."

He grins as he slowly removes the gym shorts. Then the Speedos. "How's that?" he asks.

"Pretty near perfect," I reply, admiring everything that I see. "But, now, I'm feeling way overdressed."

I proceed to remove my shirt and, as I pull the gym shorts down, it's easy for him to gauge the extent of my 17-year old enthusiasm. My underpants are displaying more than just the beginnings of a bulge that was not evident earlier.

And, being naked, he can't conceal his ever-more-evident excitement. Nice one!

I start slowly, and he compliments me on my slow, sensitive and sensuous touch.

After many sighs and moans of satisfaction, Evan asks whether we might change places so that he can 'try his hand' at it.

I comply, willingly.

We swap places frequently, and we massage tenderly and affectionately.

We explore each other's body and massage everything that we can see.

He is good! Excitingly good. He has me tingling.

Our mutual massage session is a long, happy one. Especially the endings. LOL.

We continue to enjoy the closeness of each other's body by showering together, after which he invites me to his favourite restaurant for dinner. His treat.

He pulls on some casual gear, and comes with me, upstairs, while I change back into my street clothes.

"I'd forgotten how good the sunrise is from your room," he tells me, yawning awake, stretching and separating his naked body from mine, rolling away from me and reaching for the phone.

"Good morning, Jack. This is Evan. Full breakfast, for two, please. Room 705."

"Fantastic night, Rob!" he tells me, snuggling back up. "Thank you. Are you staying tonight, as well?"

If you like the stories, and haven't said 'hello' yet, please take a couple of minutes to email me. I try to reply to everyone. (rob.zz@hotmail.com)

It is my intention to write a 'massaging' story for each letter of the alphabet. You will probably already have read 'Adam', 'Brock', 'Cameron' and 'Dan', maybe even 'Gino'. Watch for 'Flynn'.

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