“There.” Nick surveyed the clean kitchen with satisfaction. “Bed?”
John nodded and rubbed his shoulder again -- it was still feeling stiff and uncomfortable after his marathon wood-chopping session yesterday afternoon.
Nick came over behind him and pushed his hand out of the way. “That’s still bothering you?” Nick asked, his breath warm against the back of John's neck as his skillful fingers prodded at and massaged the sore spot.
“Aye, but I’ll forget all about it if you keep that up.” John closed his eyes and let his head fall forward, chin to his chest.
It felt good to have Nick’s hands on him after hours of doing no more than looking at him. They’d been entertaining their friends Sheila and Michael; John’s weekly evening with them had evolved into the four of them having a meal followed by a game of cards. Tonight, each hand had been accompanied by a stream of conversation from Sheila. Her ability to talk and win most of the hands as she did it was uncanny. John could only suppose she didn’t actually listen to herself. It wasn’t that their guests would have minded him and Nick exchanging the odd touch or kiss; it’d just worked out that they’d been sitting across the table from each other the whole night. And Nick had been out all day, walking along the headland while the late autumn gale sent the clouds racing across the pale sky arching over the island. He gave a contented sigh and felt the tension in his muscles ease a little more. Nick’s fingers shifted, his attention moving to John’s neck, and John’s sigh turned to a sensual murmur of appreciation. That felt better than good.
Nick’s left hand moved from John’s neck down along his side and settled at his waist. “Let’s move upstairs.” His lips brushed over John’s ear. “As much as I love having my hands on you like this, I like it more when you aren’t wearing so many clothes.” It wasn’t as if John would even consider arguing; he let Nick lead him up the staircase to the bedroom, and stood there cooperatively as Nick undressed him. He tried to help, but Nick seemed determined to do it himself. “There,” Nick said when John was stripped to the skin. He patted John’s bare arse and pulled down the covers. “Lie down.”
John arched his eyebrows, giving Nick an amused look, but not protesting. Nick got like this sometimes; like he was trying to repay John for all the times John had looked after him in the wake of an encounter with a ghost. John wasn’t used to being taken care of, but it didn’t mean he didn’t like it once in a while, not when it was Nick doing the caring. Not when Nick knew exactly what to do to him. He lay down on the cool sheets, shivering slightly. The room was warmer than most islanders would have kept it; Nick liked it that way, but against John’s bare back that first touch of cotton was still a faint, pleasurable shock. Nick was watching him, undressing quickly, and John smiled up at him lazily, filled with good food, a few shots of whiskey, and a growing arousal. He didn’t bother pulling the covers up; Nick was enjoying looking at him, if the heat in his eyes was any indication, and John was all for anything that put that intent, hungry expression on Nick’s face. John ran his hand down his chest, pretending to scratch himself, unable to keep his grin from spreading wider. “I’m lying down, just like you asked. Any more requests?”
“Yes -- roll over.” John stretched once more, liking the feel of Nick’s heated gaze a little too much to give it up immediately, then obeyed, rolling toward the center of the bed and onto his stomach. “That’s better,” Nick said. A moment later he climbed onto the bed himself, straddling John’s waist, the warmth of him settling onto John’s arse. Thumbs dug into John’s shoulders and made him groan. “You really did a number on yourself.” It was said in the tone of voice that meant Nick didn’t expect a reply, so John just closed his eyes and listened as Nick worked on him. “God, I love touching you. I’m surprised you weren’t fighting half the island off with sticks all these years.”
John couldn’t help the soft snort of laughter that escaped him. “Well, I had a few offers now and then, but I don’t recall my door getting knocked down in the rush. And I think I’d have been a bit of a disappointment, seeing as the offers were all from women.” He flexed his shoulders, gasping slightly as Nick’s fingers dug in firmly, riding out the mild discomfort for the sake of the soothing warmth that followed. “Besides, I was waiting for you, wasn’t I?”
“I like to think so,” Nick said. He bent low and kissed John’s back, then moved his hands to John’s bad shoulder and concentrated on it, keeping his touch gentle as he sorted out where the ache was worst. “And I think they’re all crazy. Or blind. Not that I’m complaining; their loss is my gain.”
“I’m not complaining about anything,” John told him, feeling blissfully pampered. “Mind, you’re the crazy one thinking I’m a catch, but I’m not arguing with you. No, I’m just lying here letting you do anything you want to me.” His shoulder hurt but he’d had worse; chopping wood was tiring but it was nothing compared to hauling in heavy nets full of fish for hours on end. He hoped Nick hadn’t got the idea that John was in too much pain to want more than a goodnight kiss. “Anything at all,” he added.
Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow