Harry went to the bar. He didn’t know the bartender so didn’t have to face another barrage of questions about Niko’s death. “Two of whatever these were,” he said, holding up the empty tumblers. “Make them doubles.”
He glanced over his shoulder as he waited. Christian gazed into the fire, looking lost in his thoughts. What was it about him? Just this morning Harry had dismissed him as being far too old, but the more time he spent with him and talked to him, Christian’s appeal grew stronger. He can’t be that old, anyway, he reasoned. Ten, maybe eleven years older than he was. It wasn’t like fancying someone his dad’s age.
Of course, Harry knew what really drove this new attraction to Christian.
He’d learned from his time in the lifeboat how sex and death went hand in hand. He had taken part in three failed rescues when he was a member of the crew and afterwards he had always wanted sex. It wasn’t unusual. He’d even read an article about it—how sex helped people to feel alive after a clash with mortality.
Is that what this is? Do I only fancy him because we didn’t save Niko?
As he carried the drinks back to the fire, Harry realised just how much he did want Christian. They had been through a gruelling experience. What better comfort could there be than each other’s bodies? He didn’t want to go back to his flat on his own and wondered whether Christian felt the same about his lonely hotel room.
Fuck it. One more drink and I’ll ask him. The worst he can say is no.
Christian lifted his gaze from the flames when he returned. Their eyes connected and, just for a second, a hint of a smile. “Thanks,” he said, accepting the drink.
“Is this your favourite tipple? Whisky?” he asked, sitting down.
“Sometimes. It depends on my mood. But at the end of the night, when I want to unwind, it’s the best. I always bring a bottle with me when I’m working away—for a nightcap.”
Their eyes locked again, and Harry wondered if there had been a hint of an invitation in the last remark. Or is it just wishful thinking?
He had never been good at reading signals.
“What’s your hotel like?” he asked in a rush. “I’ve had a drink at the bar in Quay House, but I’ve never been upstairs.”
Christian’s brow furrowed in confusion.
Oh shit. I’ve judged this all wrong.
Then he smiled. “It’s nice. I’ve got a good-sized room that overlooks the harbour. Actually, it’s pretty great.” He sipped. “You’re welcome to come up, if you’d like to look around. I could also give you that nightcap.”
Harry’s pulse quickened, and a stiffness developed in his groin. “I’d love to.”
This morning he’d been so dismissive about Christian because of his age, and now there was nothing he wanted more than to spend the night in his protective embrace.