Around the World
Dumped by his lover for a younger man, travel writer Stephan retreats to his flat to nurse his wounds. Along the way he runs into his neighbor, the handsome and hip Patrick. Stephan is instantly smitten, yet realistic. What would a gorgeous young thing like Patrick want with a tired old globetrotter?
As it turn out, quite a bit.
Stephan strained to look out the streaked window as the cab inched down the road. Traffic seemed unusually bad for this time of day. “What’s the holdup?” he asked the driver. He was annoyed after meeting with his publisher and hearing of the delay of his latest book release, and out of sorts—of course—because of Gary.
“Some bloody idiot’s double parked, looks like they’re unloading something,” the cab driver complained.
Stephan sighed, finally glimpsing the problem. “It’s right in front of my building. I’ll walk from here.” He paid the driver and got out, grabbing his briefcase.
He walked down the sidewalk, watching the scene. A tiny red car was parked haphazardly, with several young men gathered around, pulling out boxes.
A young man with fluorescent orange hair took two steps backwards, reeling from the weight of a particularly large box, and nearly fell right on top of Stephan. “Oh, sorry,” he said in a soft, sweet voice.
Stephan automatically reached out to steady him, one hand on the box. The young man was tiny, and the box looked like it weighed more than he did. His hair clashed with his red jeans, and his thin, wiry arms emerged from a loose shirt with the arms cut out. His face was pretty in an elfin sort of way. “Are you all right?” Stephan asked with concern.
The young man stared levelly into Stephan’s eyes for a long moment. “Yes. Thanks. I’m fine. Just clumsy. Do you live here, too?” he asked.
The look in the boy’s eyes made Stephan’s breath hitch. He must be imagining things. “Yes. You’re moving in?” he said, realising it was an unnecessary question.
Patrick smiled. “Yeah. I’m renting a room from Stanley. On the second floor? I’d offer a hand but they’re full at the moment. I’m Patrick. Nice to meet you.”
Stephan couldn’t help but smile back. Patrick was really adorable. And half his age. He reined in any inappropriate thoughts with effort. “I’m Stephan,” he said warmly. “I’m on the fourth floor.”
“So we’re neighbours. I’d love to chat, but I’ve got to get my things inside before it rains. Maybe I can come borrow a cup of sugar later,” he said with a smirk.
Stephan raised an eyebrow. The young man was certainly charming, but he was sure he’d never see him again, unless in passing. “Anytime. Flat 4B. I have lots of sugar.” He stepped back and held the door open for him. He tried not to ogle the boy’s ass in the tight pants.
Patrick gave Stephan one last sweet smile over his shoulder before he struggled through the door.
Stephan held the door until Patrick had gone in and disappeared. He sighed and went up to his flat. It was foolish to think of Patrick, but with his current mood he couldn’t help it. The boy was almost certainly gay, but what would such a pretty young thing want with an old man like him? Even Gary, who had been his age, had left him for someone younger.
He wandered around his large and much too empty flat. All of Gary’s things were gone, and the empty spaces made him remember more than he wanted. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t seen it coming, though. They’d been drifting apart for at least a year. But, endings were always sad.