Even in December, the Greek sunlight streamed through a chink in the curtains, painting the bed in heat. François Vernier stretched out in the Egyptian cotton sheets and tried to ignore the dull thud of a hangover playing in his brain. They had started the party early, yet it felt like he’d only just put his head down.
A very disorientated Darryl Burlington emerged from under the duvet with a lop-sided grin. “Merry Christmas, François.”
The nausea came rapidly, and François had to lay his head on the pillow again. “Joyeux Noel.”
Darryl plumped his pillows and sat up. “What a night, eh?”
François nodded. “I need coffee. You want?”
Not waiting for a reply, he got out of bed and padded over to the kitchen area of the vast suite Darryl had taken where he made himself busy grinding some beans. The view down to the Ionian Sea took his breath away and once the machine bubbled into life, he took it all in.
Kefalonia was a small island on the west coast of Greece. François had been to many other Greek islands but never this one. He couldn’t wait to return in the summer when it would be warm enough to dive into those blue waters. François prided himself on always being a participant and hated being a spectator.
Ever impatient, he waited until just enough coffee for two cups had brewed. Filling them, he ignored the hissing sound of more dripping onto the hot plate.
He went through to the bedroom. Darryl hadn’t moved. As fresh as a daisy, he grinned at him. Darryl believed hangovers were for the weak. François didn’t dare glance in the mirror that covered half a wall. But Darryl had insisted on partying into the night so he would have to take him as he found him.
“What are we doing today?” Darryl asked.
François handed him his cup and opened the curtains a little. He didn’t care if anyone saw him naked. It would give them an early Christmas treat. He’d been turning heads since he’d been in his pram. His mother told him that when she’d pushed him through town, people would stop and speak to him. If they were lucky, he would reward them with a smile. Some days he wouldn’t.
He blew on his coffee and took a sip. The hangover had become a little more insistent, and he regretted making quite so many plans for today. “George said he would take us out on the boat. Everywhere is closed, so I thought a picnic somewhere lovely then back here for dinner.”
François went over to his bag that lay on the chair. He rummaged inside and retrieved the gift he had kept secret. “Merry Christmas.”
He handed it to a surprised Darryl. “I thought we weren’t doing gifts. I haven’t got you anything.”
François shrugged and ignored the feeling in his heart. Darryl ripped off the paper and revealed the monogrammed leather notebook from Aspinal.
“Oh, François. I love it. Thank you.”
Darryl reached out his hand for François. He sat down on the bed, and they hugged each other awkwardly.
“Ah you’re awake. I thought you two were going to sleep all of Christmas Day.”
François spun round to see Ezio, the Greek barman they had picked up the night before. He stood in the doorway wearing just a towel. His thick curly hair dripped water onto his furry chest, the inviting glint in his eye that had first prompted Darryl to send François over with their indecent proposal still very much in place.
“François?” Darryl said, licking his lips. “Tell George not to bother with the boat. I think we should stay at home today.”
He pulled the duvet aside, letting the notebook fall to the floor. François glanced momentarily at the gift lying there before putting on his game face.
“Yes, boss. Sounds good to me.”
Ezio dropped the towel, revealing the delights they had enjoyed all night long. François’ cock twitched. Darryl probably had a point. A day on the high seas would only make him seasick. He walked over and kissed Ezio.
“That’s right, boys,” Darryl said. He put his hands behind his head, licking his lips. “Give me a Christmas show.”
* * * *
Four hours later, they had moved onto champagne. Ezio had some stamina on him. François lay on the couch, sipping a glass as he listened to Darryl and Ezio going at it in the next room.
If his parents could see him now, he didn’t know if they would be impressed or disgusted. Probably a mix of the two. He hadn’t spoken to them in ten years so who knew?
The suite had everything he and Darryl could want. A private pool, butler—who Darryl had magnanimously given the day off—and wraparound views. His mind rested on the Christmas Days he’d had as a kid. His grandparents coming to see his new toys and playing simple games before joining the rest of the village for carols.
A tear escaped his eye which he hastily wiped away. No use dwelling on the past.
Draining the glass, he wandered over to the wine cooler and grabbed another bottle. There was always another when he travelled with Darryl Burlington.
He made his way over to the bedroom, to be greeted by the sight of Ezio riding Darryl’s cock hard. His lithe furry body bucked in time to Darryl’s grunting. François popped the cork loudly and they both stopped.
“I thought you might need some refreshment.”
Ezio climbed off Darryl, pulling the condom off him and throwing it in the bin. “Sounds good to me,” he replied.
Darryl hadn’t left the bed yet. Why would he? Everything had been brought to him.
François poured the champagne and handed a long-stemmed crystal flute to each of the sweating men.
“What time did you say you were working, Ezio?”
Sipping his drink, the gorgeous man glanced at his watch.
“Oh shit,” he exclaimed. He slammed the glass down on the bedside table. “Can I have another shower?”
“Sure,” Darryl said.
Ezio brushed past François and out of the room.
“He can go on forever,” Darryl grinned.
“You weren’t doing so bad yourself,” François replied.
At forty-two years old, Darryl Burlington was still in his prime. Sweat beaded on his dark brown skin as he took a swig of his drink. “I’m starving,” he announced. “Get rid of him and we can go for dinner?”
François tried not to pout. “I thought we could order up and watch a movie.”
Darryl shook his head. “Nah, that’ll be boring. Let’s see if there’s any life going on out there. Maybe find us one last Christmas treat?” He winked at François.
“You’re on heat,” he said.
“It’s Christmas Day.” Darryl laughed. “What are we doing tomorrow?”
François walked over to the window. “George is taking us to the site in the morning. Then our flight is at two.”
“Perfect. I might have a quick nap. Build my strength up.”
Darryl snuggled down under the sheets. François drained his glass and walked out to the living area where Ezio had thrown on a pair of jeans.
“Do you know what happened to my T-shirt?” he said.
François took him in. Another exceptionally handsome man to add to their collection. He couldn’t say he hadn’t enjoyed being fucked all ways by him. But he joined a very long line. Darryl was a hunter and soon lost interest when the quarry was captured.
François dug behind one of the sofa cushions and found a grey T-shirt. He threw it across to the gorgeous man.
“Thanks,” Ezio said with a wink. “I had a really great time.”
“Yeah, me too,” François said.
He always had to the get rid of them. No matter how many people they invited to the room, François assumed the role of doorman. They would always want more, and he would have to let them down gently. Darryl probably didn’t even know this dance was done after he’d had his pleasure.
“Do you want to tell your face that?” Ezio said.
“It’s Christmas Day, François. You look as though you’re going to the dentist.”
François smiled. “Sorry. Been working hard lately.”
Pulling the shirt over his head, Ezio came over and wrapped his arms around François’ waist. He ignored the instinct to push him away.
“Now you’ve played hard. It’s the best medicine.” Ezio kissed him. “Should I say goodbye to Darryl?”
François shook his head. “Best not. He’s getting some shut-eye before we get to do it all again.”
“Call in at the bar?” Ezio asked hopefully.
François nodded vaguely. Darryl didn’t believe in lightning striking twice, so they wouldn’t be going in that bar again.
“Sure. Now go to work,” he said. He extracted himself from Ezio’s arms and walked over to the hallway. “I’m going to finish that bottle and find a trashy Christmas movie to watch.”
But Ezio didn’t move. “Why don’t you just be with him?”
François stopped in his tracks. “I’m sorry?”
“Darryl. It’s obvious you’re in love with him.”
Tension ran through François’ body. Ezio wasn’t the first to say this, but the question always made him defensive. It must be crystal clear for people on the outside. “It’s not that like that. Darryl and I are complicated.”
Ezio made a face. “I can’t see how. When I’ve gone, go in there and fuck his brains out. Then tell him you love him.”
François dashed over to the open bedroom door. The room lay in darkness, but surely Darryl couldn’t have dropped off that quickly. He did not want him overhearing this stranger dissecting a relationship they had never bothered to define in eight years. He gently shut the door.
“Firstly, we only play with others. Secondly, I’m not in love with anyone, thank you. Thirdly, if I were I wouldn’t be discussing it with a stranger. Got that?”
Realising he would have to be way more forthright, he marched over to the main door. Opening it with purpose, he wanted to make it perfectly clear this experience had come to an end. But Ezio wasn’t so easily put off. He stopped by François, his face so close that François could smell the stale alcohol on him.
“Will you return to Kefalonia?”
“Probably,” François said. “We’re thinking of buying a place in the south. I will come for the opening.”
“Then get in touch.”
“Darryl probably won’t come. He doesn’t bother these days.”
“I don’t care. I’d like to see you again.”
This man had outstayed his welcome. His overconfident manner grated on François. “Sure, whatever. Find me on Insta. François Vernier.”
Ezio nodded and kissed him before leaving the suite. François shut the door behind him. He did not need to be psychoanalysed by a one-night stand on Christmas Day. When did meaningless sex become such hard work?
Resisting the temptation to crawl in beside Darryl, he sat down on the couch and poured himself another glass of champagne. He didn’t blame Ezio for being envious that he lived the high life in suites like this, but he wouldn’t let some scheming barman overstep the mark. He had spent the last few years being everything Darryl needed. He knew what he wanted before Darryl did. Darryl often joked that he was more of a husband than an assistant. At night when he was alone in bed, François would think about what it would be like if they were real partners.
We could rule the world.