(Temporary; Paul and Indy #1)
Sleeping with the enemy never felt so good.
When Paul Davenport comes face to face with the man he caught in bed with his boyfriend years before, it's hate at first sight. Well, second sight. Indy should be apologizing, not flirting. Except the gorgeous barman is completely oblivious to their paths ever having crossed before.
Despite his feelings, Paul's powerless to resist the full-on charm offensive that follows. It's fine though. It's just sex. No emotions. No getting to know each other. Just a bout of temporary insanity that's sure to run its course once the simmering passion starts to wear off.
Only what if it's not? Indy's nothing like the man Paul expected him to be from his past actions. What if they're perfect for each other and Paul's just too stubborn to see it? There’s only so long Indy will endure being kept at a distance before he moves on. Forging a relationship with him would require an emotional U-turn Paul might not be capable of making.
There's a thin line between love and hate, and Paul's about to discover just how thin it really is. He can't possibly be falling for the man that ruined his life. Can he?
Warning: This book contains hate sex—sort of, lots of banter, and a pink elephant. No, really it does. Actually, two elephants.
Please note -this book covers the same time period as A Temporary Situation. As such it can be read as a standalone and in any order.
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Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Enemies to Lovers
Word Count: 76 000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
I'd been visiting the same bar in Canary Wharf for years, through numerous name changes and differing management. It had only been The Silver Barrel for about the past six months. Before that, it had been Brian's Bar. Who Brian was, or had been, I was still none the wiser. I'd like to say my reasons for frequenting it were because I loved it, but in truth it was more about convenience. Being five minutes down the road from the building where I worked overrode most other considerations. It had become a predictable routine, almost like a home away from home, one with the added bonus of serving food and alcohol.READ MORE
I came to a sudden halt a few steps into the building, sensing a change in my future as I took in the disturbingly familiar face of the new barman. A change where traveling farther afield would suddenly become highly desirable, if not necessary. I glanced back over my shoulder to where I'd left Russell, wondering if it was too late to swap places and force him to order the drinks instead.
"What can I get you?"
Too late. The flirtatious grin and the bartender banter were nothing unusual. I'd have gotten the exact same treatment in any number of bars spread across town. With anyone else I'd probably have responded in kind. A bit of flirtatious banter never hurt anyone. Unless, that is, you had some sort of history together that meant you should know better.
I continued to stare at him without speaking, waiting for a flicker of recognition to spark in his green eyes. His very pretty green eyes. Or at least they would be if they belonged to someone else. Someone who didn't make me want to punch them in the face. I kept waiting. First would come recognition. Then there'd be guilt, closely followed by a string of abject apologies. I was looking forward to hearing them and telling him exactly where he could stick them.
Only none of those things happened.
One corner of his mouth lifted sardonically at my lack of response. He leaned forward on the bar, the position causing the defined muscles in his arms beneath the numerous tattoos to flex. The tattoos were new. He must have gotten them in the intervening years since I'd last seen him. Along with the nose and eyebrow piercing, and the line of piercings along one ear. I wondered what other horrors lurked beneath the black shirt he wore. If I were a gambling man, I'd bet everything I owned on there being at least one pierced nipple. Just the one? Or would he have both done? Lord knows why I was even thinking about it.
"Listen, sugar. I can do many things…" His gaze dropped seductively, giving me an appreciative once-over. "…but reading minds isn't one of them. If you want a drink, you're going to have to give me some sort of clue as to whether you're a beer man, or more of a…" He paused, his fingers tapping on the bar as he considered his words. "…Campari and soda man. Or maybe a cocktail is more your thing?" He waggled his eyebrows as he put the extra emphasis on the first part of the word. He was cute. He was charming. He was flirtatious as hell. He was all the things I normally looked for in a man, bar the piercings and tattoos—although on him they did sort of take the edge off what could have been a far too pretty exterior. But I loathed him. Even more so because he didn't seem to have the faintest clue who I was.
The last time I'd seen him, he'd been in my bed. Naked. Getting fucked by my boyfriend, Stephen, who I'd lived with for close to a year. I'd come home early with the intention of surprising him, and instead I'd been the one who'd gotten the shock of my life with the discovery that my boyfriend was a lying, cheating son of a bitch who fucked other men in the bed we shared.
According to Stephen, it had been a one-off—the first time anything like that had ever happened. He'd given in to temptation, he said—been worn down by the overly persistent advances of someone who kept pestering him and wouldn't take no for an answer. That may have been the case but I wasn't born yesterday. What had happened once could just as easily happen again. And that was assuming I bought his assurances that it had been the first time. What were the chances of catching him at it the first time he’d strayed? If I was that lucky, I ought to have gone straight out and bought a lottery ticket. No matter what the temptation, if he'd loved me like he'd claimed to, then he wouldn't have strayed, right? No matter what slut threw himself at him or no matter how pushy they might have been.
I wasn't a doormat. I'd moved out there and then, staying on my friend Dominic's couch until I'd been mentally strong enough to stop crying on his shoulder and had found somewhere else to live that I could afford. He might have been a cheating son of a bitch, but Stephen had also been hot, successful, romantic, and considerate. He'd been perfect, right up until the point where he wasn't. Even three years later, I still hated him. And I hated the smiling homewrecker in front of me who'd caused it all equally as much, if not more.
I glared at him, putting all the venom I could muster into it. "Two beers."
He straightened up, clapping his hands together. "Hey, we're getting somewhere. I was beginning to think you couldn't talk." He winked. "Were you tongue-tied because of me? I get that sometimes. But you don't have to be." His tongue darted out to moisten his bottom lip. His very full, very sexy bottom lip. "I'm very friendly."
I gave up on any attempt to be polite, images flashing through my head of the scene that I'd been confronted with on that fateful day. He'd been riding my boyfriend, his pert ass moving sinuously over Stephen's cock. They'd been so wrapped up in each other that I'd been able to stand there at the side of the bed, watching for over a minute, without either of them noticing—tendrils of hurt and betrayal coursing through my body until I'd felt as if I couldn't breathe.
That was probably why he didn't remember, but I did. I'd had time to study him, to commit his features to memory, while he'd been too busy getting fucked by my boyfriend to even register my presence. Eventually, I'd snapped out of the frozen stupor and picked up the closest thing to me, throwing it at their entwined bodies with as much strength as I could muster. The target had been my lying, cheating scumbag of a boyfriend, but if his little fuck-toy got in the way I was hardly going to lose sleep over it. Unfortunately, my weapon of choice had been a cushion, rather than the brick I'd have preferred. I'd shouted a few choice words at both of them—and then I'd left, never to go back, apart from to collect my things. "You're very full of yourself."
His brow furrowed, my lack of friendliness finally seeming to sink in. "Ouch! Bad day? No worries. I get it. You're not feeling chatty. You're going to have to give me a bit more information on those beers though. Bottled? Draught? You can do it in mime if it's easier."
He gestured over to the table where I'd left Russell, somehow aware of who I'd come in with. Had he been watching me? Son of a bitch needed to keep his nose out of my business. His eyebrow rose in a silent query, the silver ring catching the light. "Boyfriend?"
The words, why, do you want to fuck him? hovered on my tongue, but I swallowed them down. There was no point in outright antagonism. It would be a waste of energy. Anyone who went around fucking other people's boyfriends and then didn't even have the common courtesy to remember the person who'd screamed at them to "Get off my boyfriend's cock and get the fuck out of my house," just wasn't worth it. I shook my head. "No. A friend."
He slid the two bottles of beer across the bar toward me, his lips quirking up into a smile as he tilted his head to one side. "So… does that mean you're single?"
Seriously? Fuck forgetting outright antagonism. He deserved it. I shoved the money across the bar, refusing to put it in his hand and risk touching him. "I'm not interested. Not now. Not ever. Not in you. Got it? Keep the change." I grabbed the two bottles of beer and walked away before he could respond. One more flirtatious comment and the temptation to punch him in the face would become too overwhelming. Either that or he'd end up wearing the beer, which was a waste of bloody good beer.
Russell watched my approach with a frown. "What's wrong?"
I shoved one of the bottles into his hand. "Nothing. Although I might need you to kiss me later on."
By the panic on his face, you'd have thought I'd suggested he fist me on the bar where everyone could see. "I can't. I mean… we're friends… but we're not. You're nice. But…"
I snapped my fingers in front of his face. "Hey! Relax. I was joking, okay? I know you're all virginal and shit. I just didn't realize it extended all the way to your lips."
He blushed a deep shade of red, even the tops of his ears lighting up. He wasn't shy per se, until it came to talking about his sex life—or lack of. I often wondered how the hell we'd become friends. Oh, that's right. What Russell didn't know about what was going on at the engineering firm where we both worked wasn't worth knowing. He was the gossip king.
He took a long drink of his beer. "Do you have to use that word?"
I frowned, trying to work out which particular word he'd taken offense to. "What word?"
"The V word."
I smiled wickedly. "Why? Have there been developments in that department you haven't told me about?"
He glanced around the bar. It wasn't even six yet so it hadn't filled up. That would come later, when all the suits started to file in. "No. It's just… you know, it's embarrassing. I've no idea why I ever told you something so incredibly personal."
I wrapped my hand around my own beer bottle, fighting to try and keep a smile off my face. "You were drunk. Like really drunk. Like falling-over, ‘why do I never meet a man I like enough to sleep with, Paul,’ drunk."
The blush, which had started to recede, came back full-force. "You spiked my drinks."
I stared at him aghast. "You can't go throwing accusations like that around! Next, you'll be accusing me of slipping you Rohypnol."
Russell folded his arms across his chest. "Did you or did you not buy me a…" I smirked as he stumbled over the word he didn't want to say, even if it was in a completely different context. "…virgin cocktail and then put vodka in it."
I laughed. "Yeah, the first one. Who added it to the rest?"
"Well, me, but that's beside the point. I would never have gotten a taste for it if you hadn't started me off."
"You make me sound like a drug dealer. Anyway, you didn't answer my question. Are there any developments to losing your V word that we don't say?"
Russell shook his head, his cheeks still bright red. "What about you? You haven't been on a date for ages. I choose to stay single. What's your excuse?"
I shrugged, my gaze straying of its own volition back in the direction of the bar. The man who'd wrecked the one serious relationship I'd had stood with his arm wrapped around the other barman, the two of them laughing loudly at something. They were probably fucking. No doubt slutty barman fucked everything that moved. History had already proved that it didn't even matter whether he was single or not.
It was only when he stopped laughing and his eyes found mine that I realized I was staring. He smiled, then lifted a hand in a casual wave. I quickly averted my gaze, picking up my beer and downing half of the bottle in one long swig. Great. Now he probably thought that despite my earlier words, I was interested. Which I wasn't. Not one little bit. He could keep his pert ass, his tight muscles, and his pretty green eyes over on that side of the bar. I had no use for them. No use at all.
"Do you know him?"
"Huh?" I raised my head to find Russell regarding me quizzically.
He inclined his head back in the direction I refused to look. "The barman? You two keep giving each other the eye."
"No, we don't!" I realized my protest was bordering on being rather too loud when four people turned their heads to see what I was getting so upset about. I lowered my voice, narrowing my eyes at the man opposite me, who used to be a friend until about three seconds ago. "There is no eyeing. None at all. It's your imagination. Probably some strange side effect of your virginity."
Russell turned his head to scrutinize the bar. I refused to follow his gaze, so I steadfastly examined the label on my beer bottle, committing its ingredients to memory. He coughed. "Well, he's still looking this way. So, if it's not mutual then he's definitely interested in you. He's pretty hot. You could do worse. I mean, if you like tattoos." His nose wrinkled as if he was considering whether he did or not.
I made a disgusted sound in my throat. "I don't. I hate them. If you like them so much, maybe you should go and talk to him."
"Maybe I will."
I stared at him, open-mouthed, wondering where this newfound courage had suddenly sprung from. And why with this guy, of all guys? Russell needed a nice man, not somebody who'd cheat on him the moment his back was turned. I pointed at his bottle of beer. "Drink up."
He frowned. "Why?"
I finished my own bottle, slamming it down on the table. "Because… we're going somewhere else, before I get arrested for assault, and you choose precisely the wrong time to discover your balls."
Russell's confusion was clear to see, but he didn't bother to argue. He knew a wasted effort when he saw one.COLLAPSE