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Something’s wrong with me. Picking up one-and-done hook-ups has always been my thing. Yet here in Bali, not even halfway through my much-needed vacation, the only person who keeps my attention is Patrick.
Sure, his flirting game is on point. It always is. But there’s something different, and the only “something” that’s changed in this scenario is me. My reaction. My desire to spend time with him.
What the hell am I meant to do with that?!
“Ten o’clock for jet skiing tomorrow, right?”
I blink rapidly, only just realising I totally zoned out and was probably staring at Patrick like a confused fool. “Yeah. We’ll grab a taxi at nine thirty. Should give us plenty of time.”
He bobs his head and angles his beer, taking a hefty gulp. A smile tilts his lips high. “You sure you don’t mind me being pillion, Alec?”
My heart flips over and I swallow hard. The fuck is happening?
For years Patrick has made it his mission to flirt with me. He’s made no secret that he loves to see me blush. It’s always been with good humour, though. Harmless teasing. Never has he actually come on to me or even asked for a kiss.
But why would he, since I’ve never given him any indication that he has my attention. Hell, that any guy has had my attention, for that matter.
“No, it’s fine.” I clear my throat, trying to push my imagination aside at what it’s going to be like to have Patrick pushed up against me, holding me tight. Escaping the visuals by winding him up seems like a great idea, so I relax my shoulders, saying, “I’ll see how many flips we can manage.” I wink and start to chuckle when he widens his eyes before he narrows them, picking up that I’m teasing him right back.
The narrowed-eyed stare disappears, and he quirks a brow at me. “All the more reason for me to be pinned so tight to your arse that you’ll miss me when I have to let go.”
And there it goes again. A heart flip followed by so many wings in my gut, I think I might take off. I should tease back. He expects it, as it’s how I’ve always reacted. Sure, I blush like I’ve spent too much time in the Aussie sun around him, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy dishing it back.
With my brain ensnared by his words and visuals, I don’t have it in me. For the life of me, I don’t understand what’s changed. Why now do I like the idea of Patrick clinging to me? Why, two days ago when he rubbed sunscreen into my skin, did it feel like I was touched by a live wire? And yeah, I got hard, like full-on erection that took me twenty minutes to breathe away.
Not that it’s really the first, if I’m truly honest with myself. Years of being flirted with hasn’t gone unnoticed, and my mind has roamed a time or two. Maybe it’s because on day one, a bartender made his interest in Patrick super clear, and the thought of seeing him getting it on slammed distress into me so hard, my knees nearly buckled. Yeah, that’s something I don’t want to see.
I startle at my brother’s voice, grateful he’s cut through my brain fart and inability to function. “Excellent. I’ll grab the salad.”
“See where Charlie’s at as well,” he says.
Nodding, I jump up and head indoors. What I need is space and the chance to collect myself.
It’s not that I’m freaked about the getting hard for Patrick. Well, not totally. It’s more that I don’t understand why, at thirty-four, my cock’s responding to him. We’ve known each other for years. As one of my brother’s old housemates from uni, Patrick is a familiar face and a good guy. I also know him well enough to enjoy spending time with him, and even though we don’t see each other often, I consider him a friend.
Maybe it’s just that I have thoughts of unrequited affection on my brain.
Ross, my mate from work, is crushing pretty hard on his own brother’s best friend. The guy recently showed back up in town, unearthing a shitload of feelings in Ross. Now here I am, aware my own brother’s best mate has a thing for me—well, if the years of him flirting with me is to be trusted—which has started to make me think. That has to be it.
Am I a little lonely and think a relationship would be kind of nice? Maybe a bit.
Am I realising that with Patrick’s flirting comes a healthy slice of sweetness and thoughtfulness? Probably a lot.
Yesterday, he made me the perfect coffee and even managed to scrounge up some mangosteen. I’ve only eaten the delicious fruit in Bali before, and I may have gone on about them. And Patrick, being his awesome self, located some at the market and prepared them for a snack just for me.
There are also the small touches that have started to get my fire burning a bit brighter. Truth is, I’m liking the contact and enjoying his interest. It feels like more than simply craving attention, though.
Last night’s dream of me making out with him kind of confirmed it. Waking up with a raging hard-on this morning, I was oh so tempted to seek him out. Constantly imagining what kissing him would be like is just another nail in the coffin of my interest being absolutely piqued.
Hell knows what I’m going to do about this intense attraction, though. Do I simply offer to suck him off? And don’t even get me started that the idea of giving Patrick head only makes me nervous in the “will I even be any good at it?” way, rather than the “dude, aren’t you straight?” quandary. Maybe I should wear supertight shorts and wiggle my arse or some shit?
I am so not good with this and am way out of my depth.
Trevor hollers my name, so I quickly pull the prepared salad out of the fridge, call for Charlie, another of my brother’s friends, and head outside.
We stayed in tonight. I was enjoying taking some time off from the bars and clubs. I’m beginning to feel every one of my years. When we’re out and I see eighteen-year-olds getting it on, awkwardness slams into me. I could have taught so many of the Aussies partying in Bali this summer.
I shudder at the thought.
Placing the salad on the table, I sit opposite Patrick as Trevor sets down the chicken he’s barbequed. “Good job, bro. Not burned to cinders.”
Trevor flips me off—his usual sign of sibling affection. “You can cook next, arsehole.”
“What? I said good job.”
Patrick chuckles. “I wonder what your schoolkids would think about you if they saw you interacting with Trev.”
“Ha. They’d realise that there’s no hope for mankind and true maturity is impossible if they have brothers.” It’s true. “Alec the big brother,” who still on occasion likes to pin his brother down until he taps out, is so far removed from “teacher Alec.” Sure, I have fun with the kids. Most of the time. Being a PE teacher helps with my relaxed vibe. I’m hoping the new role I’m taking on next month when I get back to work doesn’t change that too much.
“I reckon having a sister is a hell of a lot worse.” Swiping a chicken breast, Patrick places it on his plate. I pass him the salad. “Thanks.”
“You think a sister is worse than having this clown for a brother?”
Once again, Trevor flips me off. I fake catch it and put it in my pocket.
“Hell yes.” Patrick accepts the mustard I’ve passed him with a smile and a little eye contact that makes my pulse race. Not that he asked for the mustard, but I know he likes it with his chicken. The combination is weird, but still, I made sure it was on the table. “Try sleepovers with eight fourteen-year-old girls.” He shudders, and I screw up my nose.
“Okay, knowing what year nine girls can be like, especially at school camp, I totally would not have wanted to experience that.”
“Right. Growing up with my sister and her gaggle of friends made me realise super early on that I could never work with kids.”
I snort, thinking about Patrick’s profession. He’s a geologist, which sounds all levels of exciting and hot. But since my brother is too, and they both use their degrees for jobs in the mines, I know for a fact it’s not all that exciting.
“Rocks or kids,” I tease. “I can see how the balance would have weighed in favour of rocks.”
Patrick smirks as he chews.
“That means I must have been saintly, since you experienced all this perfection”—Trevor indicates himself—“and decided teaching was your dream job.” He tips his bottle of beer up to me. “You’re welcome.”
I scoff loudly. “As if. You were such a pain in the arse that I figured if I could survive you and keep you in line, a class of thirty kids would be a piece of piss.”
Laughing, Patrick knocks his beer bottle to mine. “He didn’t lose that quality all the way through uni.”
“Bloody hell. Remind me again why I thought it was a good idea for you two to be here together?” There’s zero heat in Trevor’s attempt to sulk.
“What, us?” Patrick presses his palm to his chest. There’s nothing innocent about his tone. “We make the perfect pair. Honestly, I don’t know how we’ve both survived not seeing each other for two years.”
Charlie steps out onto the wooden patio, his phone to his ear. He rolls his eyes as he listens to whoever is on the other end of the call.
“Two years?” Turning my attention back to Patrick, I scrunch my brow, trying to recall the last time we saw each other.
“Yep. Trev’s thirtieth.”
“Damn.” I nod. “I didn’t realise it was that long. That was a good weekend.”
Patrick’s smile doesn’t reach his eyes. I don’t like the look on him at all.
Thinking back to Trevor’s birthday, I’m sure it was a great party. We visited the Gold Coast, drank beer, went on a boat trip, and partied at a club. Pretty sure I hooked up that night too. Not that I recollect who or the finer details.
Patrick had been in my orbit for most of the weekend. I do recall that. We teased. He flirted. We laughed. My heart stutters when a memory rushes to the surface. It’s a moment that seemed insignificant. Until now.
Patrick looking… damn, looking sad. Him glancing away and barely maintaining eye contact. It was when I was dancing with someone.
While I did absolutely nothing wrong, it doesn’t stop the strange unease in my stomach, especially not when Patrick might be thinking about that night and the same memory.
Tension pulls taut between us. I don’t know what to do with the invisible cord. Will it snap? Flex and settle? All I know for sure is I like it when Patrick smiles. When he’s genuinely happy and relaxed.
“What?” Dragging my attention to Charlie, I frown, missing completely what he said.
“Tomorrow’s mine and Pat’s last night. Thought we’d hit a club.”
The words are a smack to my face. How has the time passed by so quickly? While I’m not heading home, courtesy of my awesome summer holidays, the reminder that Patrick’s leaving doesn’t sit right.
“Sounds good.” Trevor’s up for it, apparently. Not that he’s rushing off anytime soon. He managed to score a month off work and will still be here over Christmas and the New Year when our folks will fly in.
Unable to resist, my gaze finds Patrick. My eyes widen when I realise he’s staring at me. And shit, I recognise that look… his expression. It’s one I’m familiar with from him. What’s new is how I’m sure I’m peering at him in exactly the same way.
It’s one of longing.
Unsaid words. Regrets.
Something’s wrong with me. I swallow hard, calling bullshit.
Nothing is wrong with me. Nope. The only thing possibly wrong about any of this is letting Patrick walk away for another two years without me finding a way to finally kiss the longing off his handsome face.
And isn’t that a “holy fucking shit” moment? I want to kiss Patrick Boundary.