Surya Patel realized it was nice to be home sometimes. When he was on the road with Moonlight or at home in his Hoxton flat, he didn’t miss the smell of coriander or the loud arguing, but somehow both of those things comforted him. He relaxed on his father’s ancient easy chair, the one he’d refused to get rid of when Surya had bought his parents a brand-new house, and smiled.
“Sur?” came a quiet voice, a calm amid the racket. Pallavi, his sister. She was only seventeen, still so young in so many ways, but they were close. His smile widened.
“I’m not asleep, love. What is it?”
His sister came and snuggled up next to him on the easy chair, like she’d been doing since he was a teenager and she was barely able to reach his knees to haul herself up.
“Nothing much. I just like having you here. Mum likes it too. She says she worries about you out there.”
“Pal,” he grumbled. “I’m thirty-two years old.” And he’d been on his own since not long after uni, when his band Moonlight had hit it big with their second studio album. His mother had Pallavi to worry about. Surely he was beyond the age of doing anything truly stupid.
“You’re just so skinny, and you’re still smoking, aren’t you?”
Surya sighed and gave his sister a tight squeeze. “Yes. But you know I’m sorted, yeah? And you can come to visit me anytime…instead of sitting up in your room with your friends and giggling over pop stars.” Pallavi had grown up around Jesse and Ollie, the other two members of Moonlight. They were like brothers to her. She’d long since ceased to be impressed by their fame. Sure, if he brought home Justin Bieber, he might have a chance of getting a giggle from his sister.
“I’ll come next weekend maybe.” She cocked her head to the side. “Oh no. That’s Jasmine’s birthday. Maybe the weekend after.”
Surya chuckled and rubbed her hair. “Sure thing, love. I’ll take you shopping.”
Pallavi grinned. “Mum says you spoil me rotten.”
“It’s my job.”
About then, their mother called them to the dinner table, and Surya and Pallavi trailed in obediently. He was pretty hungry. He’d only had a few biscuits and some tea before making the trip out earlier.
His mother piled his plate with rice and vegetable korma, more than he could possibly eat.
“That’s far too much!” he protested.
“And you are too skinny. You aren’t on drugs, are you?”
Surya choked on his water, and Pallavi smirked at him. Truth was, he’d dabbled in the past, but that was years before. “Course not, Maa.”
Pallavi smirked at him again, and he glared back, silently threatening her with the removal of shopping trips…like he’d ever follow through with it.
“I’m worried about you,” his mother said as she handed him his plate.
Here we go again
. She meant well, but sometimes Surya wondered if his mother would ever let him grow up. “Why are you worried? I’m fine.”
“It’s time for you to be settled already. You need a woman.”
Smooth golden chest, breathy groans, back arched, muscular, masculine legs wrapped around his waist as Surya plunged deep…
Surya nearly choked on his dinner. A woman. A wife. It had been the farthest thing from his mind in months. “I don’t have time for a wife. I’m too busy.”
“Jesse found time for…well, for that.” She cleared her throat uncomfortably. His parents loved Jesse, but they still had a hard time with the thought of him with Shane.
“He’s known Shane for years. It’s different.” And I don’t want a woman. I want
Surya had been trying to get rid of the pictures in his mind, the sounds, the memory of skin and touching and the best sex of his life. But every time he closed his eyes, every time he had a moment of inactivity, it all came back: Barcelona, the after-party, the taste of skin heated by the Spanish sun, panic when he woke in the middle of the night in a man’s bed.
In Emmanuel Cortez’s bed.
Em was his friend. His colleague. It was a disaster a year before, and it was still a disaster.
But, damn, it had been so hot that night.
* * * *
The sweat glistened on everyone’s skin, lending the party an air of debauchery and sex. Surya was downing drink after drink, matching even Nick’s pace. He had to get the image of sex out of his head. It didn’t help that every sexual fantasy he’d had lately involved one specific person—and that person was right there
, directly in Surya’s line of vision.
He was at the bar with Jesse, smiling at some in-joke. The heat shone off his skin like some kind of gold nimbus. It took every drop of drunken willpower Surya had not to cross the terrace and run his hand down Em’s smooth bare arm. He wanted to. He’d wanted to for weeks. The attraction had crept up slowly—at least his awareness of it. Surya had known all along that he liked to be near Luck’s manager, probably too much. Sometimes he avoided Em just because he wanted to talk to him so much…touch him. Kiss him. Surya wanted to kiss Em most of all. Especially when he looked like he did right then, all loose and glowy and like everything Surya wanted to taste.
Em’s gaze lifted and connected with his. It was heavy lidded, and Surya knew Em couldn’t possibly be sober, but it was inviting too. Bloody hell. They’d always flirted a bit but nothing so blatant. Nothing even close.
Surya stood and walked closer. He was drawn to Em’s skin, the promise of heat, the desire on Em’s face. Em leaned over, kissed Jesse’s cheek, and looked back at Surya before tipping his head toward the exit. Surya nodded.
Am I really going to do this?
Surya didn’t have to think very hard. His body was already moving toward the bar’s exit. He found Em waiting by the elevators. Em didn’t say anything, simply pressed the button to call one down. The time spent waiting was tense. Surya didn’t know what to say. Should he admit he knew exactly why they were standing there? It seemed like if they did acknowledge it, the spell would be broken and they’d have to stop. Best not to say anything aloud.
The elevator came, and they both stepped on.
“Sur,” Em began as the doors closed, but Surya cut him off. He didn’t want to talk about it. He just wanted…
Surya cupped his hand around Em’s neck and pulled. Em came willingly, letting his lips crash against Surya’s, pillowy soft and tropical tasting. The kiss was gorgeous and spine shivering, and why the hell had they waited so long for something this amazing? Surya didn’t want to stop, but they were still in public. He had
“What were you drinking?” Surya asked with a smile when they pulled apart. “It tastes good.”
Em giggled and laid his forehead right on Surya’s collarbone. “Not sure. Jesse got it for me.”
Surya was momentarily startled at hearing Jesse’s name said aloud. At the beginning, he’d had to constantly remind himself to call Jesse “Kayden” in public. He wasn’t surprised that Em knew Jesse’s real name, though. They had gotten so close over the last few months. It made sense Jesse would want Em to know.
“Whatever it is, I like it,” Surya said. “Sweet like fruit.” He did like it, and more than just the drink. Whatever Em had drank that night had changed him. His natural flirtatiousness had lost its sharp edge and gone all warm and soft and pliant.
“I am sweet and fruity,” Em joked. His head lolled on Surya’s shoulder.
Surya smiled and brought a hand up to cup the back of Em’s head again. “You’re lovely.”
Em looked up. “You want me, don’t you? Just to be clear.”
Images flashed through Surya’s head, fast and hot. Pictures of him and Em naked, locked together, Spanish heat gleaming on their skin.
He skimmed his hand down Em’s arm and tangled their hands together—smooth fingers curling around his own roughened ones, squeezing, testing, unsure but hopeful. Surya’s breath caught on an inhale. Em’s touch had always been enough to make him melt. That night, in the silence of the elevator, with alcohol and the glory of finally
thrumming through his body, it was fucking magic.
“Yes,” Surya answered. “Yes.
They were still standing and staring, caught in the moment, when the elevator door pinged and opened with a well-mannered hiss.
“W-we’re here.” Surya had to clear his throat. He hoped Em didn’t notice his nerves.
“I know. My room?”
Surya nodded. He followed Em wordlessly down the hall. He didn’t let go of Em’s hand, afraid to lose that contact. Afraid to lose his nerve.
It was quiet in the cool darkness of Em’s room. Surya’s belly flipped with nerves again, and for a moment he wondered if he could actually do it. Sure, he had some experience with guys—a few handjobs and some making out—but Em was different. Surya was really attracted to him. And he liked him. And they were friends
. So maybe it wasn’t such a good—
And then Em kissed him. Back up against the door, bodies slammed together, nothing tentative about it, fucking kissed
him. Surya was instantly addicted. He grabbed at Em’s body, hauled Em against him, did everything he could just to be closer
. No matter what he did, it wasn’t enough. He parted his lips on a sigh for Em’s tongue and groaned when they made contact. Surya’s hands roamed, twining in soft hair, raking down Em’s lean back, curving around his luscious little ass and squeezing hard.
Surya told himself to calm down. It was just sex, and he’d had plenty of it before—at least with women. This didn’t feel like just sex, though. It felt like spinning off into the darkness, getting swallowed up whole, and all he wanted, all he needed, was Em’s touch, his breath, the bite of his teeth.
“Off,” Em murmured. He pulled at Surya’s shirt impatiently. Surya grabbed the hem and yanked it over his head before going for Em’s shirt. It wasn’t graceful or slow; it was rough and rushed and needy.
“You too,” he groaned.
Shirts gone, they collided once more, and he sank back into the world of Em’s kiss. It was heady, erotic, enough to make him lose his mind just a little. And when they parted, and Surya’s forehead was up against Em’s, and he was breathing heavily and holding on for dear life? He figured he didn’t want to find his mind. Not if it meant he had to stop.
“Come here.” Em pulled Surya toward the big hotel bed. “I want to lie down.”
“Just lie down?” Surya wasn’t gone enough that he couldn’t joke.
Em laughed, low, throaty. “No. Not just lie down.” He pulled his trousers off and tossed them over a chair. Em stretched then, a long, lean line of golden skin and muscle interrupted only by a tiny pair of black briefs. Surya swallowed thickly. He had no idea how Em could be so lanky and pretty and still so small. He had the body of someone much taller. Surya had to touch.
Surya stalked Em, pushed him onto the bed, and then he was there, all over Em, touching, tasting, breathing in the smell of sand and salt water and whatever else it was that always made Surya’s breath catch in his throat.
He loved how Em smelled. Em’s taste was even better.
“I want to touch you,” Em murmured. He worked drunkenly at the button of Surya’s jeans, obviously frustrated by denim and zippers and everything in his way. Surya was frustrated too. He wanted to be naked with Em.
“Here. Let me.” Surya ripped at the button on his jeans, flopped onto his back, and pushed them and his boxers off. The cool air hit him with a rush, but then it was back to warmth and sexy skin when Em settled next to him and cuddled against his side.
“You’re gorgeous,” Em said softly. He ran light fingertips from Surya’s shoulders down his torso all the way to his hip, just testing, feeling.
“So are you. I’ve been noticing all along.” He wanted Em to know it wasn’t spur of the moment, fueled only by heat and alcohol and loss of inhibitions.
Em smiled and leaned over for another kiss. His hands, those soft, small hands, touched more, plucking at Surya’s nipples, teasing his abdomen, wrapping around Surya’s suddenly surging erection. Em’s hand on him felt so perfect. Surya gasped against Em’s lips.
“Wanted you so long,” Em whispered.
He didn’t give Surya a chance to answer, only delved deep with his tongue once again. And then he was wriggling out of his briefs and slipping his thigh in between Surya’s, his own cock sliding up against Surya’s hip, rutting gently and slowly, driving both of them insane.
“Em…” Surya could barely speak. He wanted to do everything at once. Taste Em, touch him, sink into him so deep they’d both see stars.
“Fuck me, Sur. I don’t want to wait.” Em arched into Surya, bringing their bare chests together. “Please.”
M.J. O'Shea & Piper Vaughn