Leo raised his glass, but it was empty. He set it down again, and his hand tensed when Rupert covered it with his own.
“Leo,” Rupert said quietly and leaned close. His lips were soft and warm, and nudged against Leo’s to encourage them to part. Leo’s hand remained tensed under Rupert’s, and finally Rupert pulled back enough to whisper, “It’s all right, mate. They’re used to blokes like us, snogging in the dark corners.”
“I know.” He looked out at the other patrons again — as Rupert had said, no one was paying them any attention, too absorbed in their own affairs, dancing and laughing and kissing. “It’s not that.”
“Then what?” Rupert leaned close again and brushed his fingers over Leo’s hair. Leo closed his eyes. He’d wanted this, hadn’t he, to kiss someone other than on the forehead, to kiss someone just like this, someone earthy-smelling and handsome, with bright eyes and lovely hands …
“I’m sorry.” He pushed himself up from the little table. “I’m just not ready for this.”
“Leo,” Rupert said, “come back, Leo, talk to me,” but Leo only made his way through the crowd again, out to the street. He grasped against the railing that separated the pub patio from the sidewalk and concentrated on breathing, staving off the rising feeling of wrongness that was heavy and sour in his stomach.
He fumbled for his cell phone and pressed the button for Stuart, relief flooding him when he heard Stuart’s calm, “Stuart Huntsman.”
“Come get me,” Leo said and clenched his hand to keep it from trembling. “Come get me, Stuart.”
“I’ll be right there,” Stuart said and hung up.
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