So I thought August al fresco sounded like an awful lot of fun. Until I realized that apparently, my guys are shy. Do you know I could not find one instance in any of my books where they actually go at it out of doors? I thought that was just crazy weird enough that it will need rectifying in the next story I write. In the mean time, I found a sweet, new kiss between two men looking to start life again in my short story Life After.
"Not going back...." John concentrated on his coffee, imagining that scenario for himself. It appealed to that part of him that just didn't want to feel sorry for himself anymore. "So." He sat up a little and shook the fantasy off. "This business that runs itself, what is it you do?"
"I'm a landscaper."
John lifted both eyebrows. "Convenient, since you live in an overgrown cemetery."
"Yeah." Kyle nodded. "It is. My granddad taught me everything I know about plants. He was caretaker here. He loved this job. So did I. So much I made it my life. At some point, I let it take over, got stuck behind a desk and forgot what it was I loved." He pushed a pair of clippers across the table a few inches. "It's good to get back to basics, sometimes."
"I don't know what basics even are anymore," John muttered. "Maybe I never knew." He clamped his lips shut, realizing the private thought had slipped out into their shared space. Kyle sat across from him, watching, waiting, but John had nothing to add.
Finally, Kyle rose, gripped the clippers and a pair of gloves, and John took a gulp of coffee and stood. His time was up. Shame he'd wasted the last, precious seconds of it pushing an interesting man away with a thick wall of self pity.
"Basics," Kyle said, holding out the tools. "C'mon. I'll show you how to trim that lilac of yours. It needs a good overhaul." He strode toward the door, and then stopped. "If you have time."
John smiled. The expression felt less and less out of place. He could easily find the time to study this man and his strange mix of rugged and vulnerable.
Being able to identify what a lilac bud looked like was not high on the list of things John ever thought he would need to know or care about. Even still, time flew by while Kyle showed him what to look for.
"You want to be careful. Lilacs bloom in the spring, but they set their buds now," Kyle explained. "So you have to find the buds and not cut them off, or you'll have no flowers when the snow goes."
"Then wouldn't this be easier to do in the spring?"
A little nod and a smile greeted that. "It would be." The branch Kyle was trimming danced up as he released it and slowly pivoted. "But I didn't want to wait that long for the excuse to spend more time with you."
John opened his mouth, but found nothing to say. He closed it again with a bit of a frown.
Kyle shuffled closer to him. "Another line, I know." That little one-shouldered shrug was beginning to grow on John. It seemed to fit well with the flop of hair that kept falling over Kyle's left eye. "Can't seem to help myself."
Itching to reach up and brush the hair aside, John shifted his feet and stuffed the gloves into his coat pocket. He fiddled with the lock on the snips and finally glanced up. "Maybe, next Wednesday, instead of sitting here on a cold bench, I could help you," he waved vaguely around the grounds, "with whatever you do."
"You'd...have to wear more sensible shoes."
John lifted one foot slightly, and as if just to prove Kyle's point, his smooth leather sole skidded against loose, dry leaves. The other foot slipped out from under him. He flailed. One minute he was standing awkwardly scrambling for something to say, the next he was scrambling not to fall on his ass.
Kyle nabbed him out of the air, strong arms folding around his waist to hold him up.
His fumble for words disintegrated as the taller man's dark eyes caught and claimed the last bits of his reason. "I...uh. Could do sens—"
Kyle's mouth descended, full lips pressing against John's partly open mouth. Finally, something he could deal with. Kissing he knew, and he did, parting his lips more and accepting Kyle's silent invitation.
The kiss shattered him. If he'd thought Kyle's good looks and impossibly deep, brown eyes had been disorienting, his kiss, his tongue sliding over John's lips, and the tiny vibration of a moan the gardener let escape, were devastating. He was breathing hard by the time Kyle backed off. His fist, clenched around a bit of down-filled parka, took concentrated effort to unfasten.
"I had to check." Kyle touched his cheek, lips curving, eyes softening under the hank of hair. "Wasn't sure you weren't just being polite. Humouring me." His breath warmed the tip of John's nose. He hadn't loosened his hold much, either, and John feared the close proximity might make it obvious he had gone way past humouring. His interest was making his pants fairly uncomfortable.
John had always thought being a lawyer meant never being lost for words. Now, he found it damn hard to breathe, let alone speak. "I—I could have been. You might have gotten a face full of fist."
"Okay. I was pretty sure I was right."
A bit more of John's mask crumbled; something light and airy managed to breeze its way through the cracks in his shell. If he wasn't careful, this guy was going to break right on in and make him feel something again. And would that be so very horrible? "You were right," he agreed.
His pocket vibrated. The phone inside his jacket, pressed between their bodies, demanded his attention.
So this is the fun part for you guys and gals, and where Victoria comes in:
Comment on this post to be in to win one of these fabulous prizes:
A Kindle and £50 worth of Total-E-Bound ebooks.
£50 worth of Xcite ebooks
And be sure to check out all the August Alfresco posts at http://smutalfresco.co.uk and comment on each one to have more chances to win.
All terms and conditions are available at smutalfresco.co.uk and the winners will be announced on the 1st September at the website.