excerpt from Partners

Nicco couldn’t help but be glad Alex was leaving. A hundred girls could look at Rider with interest, and Nicco would be fine with it, but watching Alex do it set Nicco’s teeth on edge. As yet, Nicco wasn’t up for exploring the reasons for that.

When they’d finished their meal, they cleaned up the remains and drifted back into the living room. “I think I’ll head for the shower,” Nicco said, feeling tired, grimy, and irritable.

”I’ll be gone when you get out, Nicco,” Rider said. “Talk to you tomorrow.”

Nicco patted Rider’s shoulder in reply and went into the bathroom, pulling off his shirt and throwing it into the corner. He could hear Rider and Alex talking softly on the other side of the wall. Unable to resist, Nicco gently pulled the door open a crack and looked through. He could plainly see the two men standing by the front door, talking. Rider put a hand on Alex’s shoulder, probably telling him to take care on his trip. Alex smiled … Nicco could see his face clearly from this vantage point. Then, as Nicco watched, the younger man suddenly leaned in, hand curling around Rider’s neck, and kissed him right on the mouth.

Nicco jerked, almost giving his spying away. He wanted to move back from the door, but found himself rooted where he stood, waiting to see what Rider’s reaction would be. Unimaginably, but undeniably, Rider leaned into Alex’s embrace … actually wrapped his arms around the younger man and kissed him back.

Kissed him. Open-mouthed and full of tongue, exactly the way Nicco had seen Rider kissing women on many occasions in the past.

If an elephant wearing a tutu had entered the bathroom through the small window over the shower, Nicco couldn’t have been more blown away.

He heard the front door close and hurried to turn on the shower. Standing under the spray, chest heaving as though he’d been running, Nicco put his hands to his head. What was that? What the hell was that?

Sure, Nicco and Rider teased, maybe even flirted, dancing around each other in that way they had; but it was something they’d always done and just a part of who they were together. At least, that’s what Nicco had thought. Now he didn’t know anymore. How could Rider be interested in men and Nicco not know about it?

It took all Nicco’s concentration to wash off properly, his mind returning again and again to the kiss he’d witnessed until he finally switched the water on cold to alleviate the undeniable erection that he’d gotten from thinking about it. Pressing his face to the cool tile, he took several deep breaths and willed himself to calm down.

It hurt, dammit! It hurt to see Rider that close with another man, and Nicco didn’t know what that meant.

Nicco did his best to act natural when he left the bathroom and said goodnight to Alex. Confused and heart-sick, he headed for bed, only to lay in the darkness, eyes wide open.

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