Patrick Mason travels to Bristol to spend the summer with his brother, Ben. He’s cat sitting for the first two weeks while Ben goes on holiday. But Ben neglected to tell him he wouldn’t be doing it alone. Will Adams—Ben’s mate and Patrick’s long-time crush—is staying in Ben’s guest room while he waits to move into his new house after a breakup.
Against his better judgment, Patrick convinces Will that a little no-strings fun is just what they need. Patrick doesn’t want to get involved with a guy on the rebound, and Will isn’t interested in starting something serious with a student. But Patrick’s never been good at separating sex from feelings, and this time is no exception. As their weeks together draw to a close, they need to decide if they have something worth pursuing or if it’s really just a casual thing.
Excerpt: (found at Dreamspinner)
“Hey,” Patrick answered and put his phone on speaker, smiling as his brother’s voice filled the car.
“I hope you’re using handsfree. Mum’d kill me if I made you crash.”
Patrick rolled his eyes, even though Ben couldn’t see him. “Yes, I’m not stupid.” He indicated and pulled over into the slow lane, though, to be on the safe side. “I’m about twenty minutes from Bristol. Are you finishing work soon?”
Patrick heard the rustle of paper in the background and the sound of a drawer being closed.
“Yeah, I’m just leaving now.” Ben paused and a few shouts of “good-bye” and “enjoy your holiday” sounded before Ben spoke again. “Should be home before you get there. You remember how to get to the flat, don’t you?”
“Yep, M4, M32, and off at J1. I’ve got satnav for the rest of it.”
“Okay, well, call me if you get lost. Otherwise I’ll see you in a few.”
The line went dead, and Patrick grinned. He hadn’t seen his brother since Christmas, and just talking to him made Patrick feel more relaxed. Ben radiated calm. He was probably the most easygoing, laid-back person Patrick knew. Patrick’s roommate, Sean, wasn’t far behind him, which was part of the reason they got on so well, but Ben tended to put a person at ease the moment he entered the room. Patrick could do with a bit of that after the last few weeks.
He only made a couple of wrong turns before he spotted the sign for Ben’s road, and then he turned onto the street and parked outside the building. Ben lived in a two-bedroom flat on a large but nice housing estate just off the motorway—close enough to town so it didn’t cost too much in a taxi, but far enough out to get away from it all.
He had one of the ground-floor flats and already had the door open as Patrick walked down the path toward him. “Bloody hell, look at the state of you.” Ben grabbed the beanie from Patrick’s head and ruffled his hair, grinning. “Good to see you, though.” He pulled Patrick into a hug, almost crushing him in the process.
They had the same coloring—blue eyes and dark brown hair, although Ben’s curled where Patrick’s was straight—but Ben had about two inches on him, and at least a stone and a half in weight. Ben had always been sporty and played anything that involved a ball, whereas Patrick had stuck to running. He had shit coordination—an endless source of amusement to the rest of his family and friends—so he tended to avoid team sports. Patrick enjoyed watching them, though, which was just as well, considering Ben hardly bothered with any other channels except Sky Sports.
“Can’t breathe.” Patrick dug his fingers into Ben’s ribs to make him let go, laughing when Ben flinched in response. “And fuck off. There’s nothing wrong with the way I look.” He gestured to his tight, long-sleeved T-shirt, skinny jeans, and Converse. They fit him well, snug in all the right places.
“I bet you look like every other student. Where’s your sense of originality?”
Patrick gave Ben a light shove and pushed past him into the flat. “Shut up and start fetching my stuff in from the car. I’m dying for a piss.” He turned and chucked his keys to his brother, grinning at the indignant look on his face.
“I’m regretting this already, just so you know. And you better have left most of your crap at Mum and Dad’s. I don’t want a flat full of your boxes.”
By the time Patrick finished in the toilet, Ben had grabbed the two bags and was coming into the lounge. “Is this all you brought? Not much for the whole summer.”
“There’s a few more bits in the car, but I’m only here for a couple of months, and it’s not like I can’t wash stuff.”
Ben raised an eyebrow. “I see living with Sean all these years has done some good after all.”
“Ugh,” Patrick groaned. He wasn’t that bad. “He’s my roommate, not my mum. He doesn’t make me do chores you know.” Sean was also his best friend, and three years of living together at university had made Patrick more self-sufficient, but he wasn’t about to admit it. “Anyway,” he said, walking down the hall as he spoke. “I’m assuming you’ve cleared out all your shit from the spare room?” Patrick looked back over his shoulder as he opened the door. Ben usually shoved anything he didn’t use in there until he either gave it to charity or took it down to the rubbish tip.
“Yeah, um… about that….” Ben let the sentence hang there as Patrick opened the door to the spare room and stopped in his tracks.
Okay, so it wasn’t full of Ben’s stuff, but it wasn’t empty either. The bed looked recently slept in, the quilt pulled up sort of straight but the pillows at odd angles, as though it had been made in a hurry. A couple of shirts hung on the wardrobe door, and the desk had a laptop on it and some toiletries that definitely belonged to a guy.
Ben appeared behind him, scratching at the back of his neck, but not looking particularly bothered. Patrick waved a hand around the room and raised his eyebrow. “I guess I’m not staying in here, then?”
“Sorry, it only happened a couple of weeks ago, and I forgot all about it. But he’s only here for another two weeks, so you can sleep in my room while I’m away.” Ben gestured to the door opposite and picked up Patrick’s bags again. “I’m off in the morning, so you only have to sleep on the sofa for one night.”
Patrick followed him, trying not to feel disappointed at not having the place to himself. He collapsed on Ben’s bed, making sure to hang his shoes over the edge. “So, who is it, then? Do I know him?” He narrowed his eyes, watching as Ben dropped both bags in front of the wardrobe and turned to face him. “It better not be someone old and boring who’s going to judge everything I do. Christ.” He threw his arm over his face and let out a put-upon sigh. “I might as well have stayed at home.”
“He’s not old. He’s a year older than me.”
“Shut the fuck up, or I will send you back home.” The bed dipped as Ben sat down. “And yes, you know him. He’s a good guy—I wouldn’t leave my little brother alone for two weeks with someone I didn’t trust completely.”
Patrick sat up and leaned on his elbows, taking in the slightly shifty expression on his brother’s face. Nothing normally fazed Ben, and he’d said that Patrick knew the guy and that Ben trusted him, so Patrick didn’t see what the problem could be. He liked to think he was pretty easy to get along with. He maybe had a lot of energy, which irritated some people, but he tried to tone it down with anyone other than close friends or family. Ben’s mates all knew him pretty well anyway—Patrick usually came down to Bristol for at least a few days every time he had a break from uni.
“Well, I’m assuming it’s one of your friends, and honestly, Ben, they’re a great bunch of lads, so I don’t get why you’re being weird.”
“I’m not being weird.”
Patrick gave him his best “yeah right” look and sat up a bit. “Seriously, I won’t have a problem sharing with any of them,” he said, nudging Ben with his shoulder. “Well, except Will maybe, but that’s only because—”
Patrick stopped, the words dying on his tongue as he noticed Ben wince.
“No.” He jumped off the bed, fisting his hands in his hair. “No fucking way. Ben, please tell me you’re not leaving me alone for two weeks with the guy I have a huge unrequited, and frankly, embarrassing, crush on?”
Ben shrugged. “He needed somewhere to stay. I’d sort of forgotten you had the hots for him.”
“How could you forget?” Patrick paced in front of the bed. “The last time I was here, I tried to climb into his lap and told him how hot he was. In front of his boyfriend.”
“Oh yeah.” Ben grinned, and Patrick stopped his pacing to punch him on the arm.
“It’s not funny.”
“It was hilarious.” Ben ducked out of the way when Patrick tried to punch him again. “Look, you were drunk. We all were. He doesn’t hold it against you.”
“But he won’t have forgotten.” The whole thing still made Patrick cringe every time he thought about it. He may have been drunk, but sadly not drunk enough to wipe the horrifying experience from his brain.
“Sit down. I think you might be overreacting just a tad.” Ben even used his finger and thumb to demonstrate how much he thought Patrick was overreacting before grabbing Patrick’s arm and yanking him back down onto the bed.
Patrick sighed. Fine. Maybe he was being overly dramatic, but come on. This was Will. Tall, dark, and handsome, and as easygoing as Ben. He oozed charm and made you want to curl up with him somewhere warm and never ever move. Well, that last part could just be Patrick.
He was going to make such an arse of himself. He flopped onto the bed and covered his face. “I hate you. You are the worst brother ever.”
Ben laughed as he tugged on Patrick’s hand until he was forced to sit up. “Don’t be such a drama queen, and come and help me get the rest of your things.” He slung an arm around Patrick’s shoulders and gave him a squeeze. “It’ll be fine. Will knows you’re coming. I told him this morning. He’s looking forward to seeing you again.”
“Yeah, I’m sure.”