"He's here again," Kate said, nudging Esca with a bony knee as she peered over the top of the cake display with a dreamy sigh. "Hang on, is that why you're cowering down there?"
"No," Esca denied, making a hasty grab for till roll to cover his lie. "I was just looking for these." He brandished his find at Kate and stood, making a show of brushing his apron for non-existent crumbs as he straightened. He had already been having a bad day, having to queue for the shower this morning, getting drenched in the rain on the way in—he'd thought it could only get better but it turned out that was wrong.
Kate rolled her eyes. "Whatever you say, Esca dear," she replied, her face changing into a beaming grin as the object of the conversation approached the counter. "Hello, how can I help?"
"An Americano with an extra shot in a paper cup please," came the deep American drawl that did things to Esca's insides that no voice—certainly not one of some rich American for fuck's sake—should ever be allowed to do. Esca didn't like it one little bit. "With one of those cherry muffins."
The cherry muffins were Esca's favourite. Which was bloody typical as now all he could think of was how the damned American would taste if Esca were to kiss him after he'd taken a bite—not that there was any chance of that happening. There would be no kissing of Americans on this shift.
Silently Esca propped the till roll on the counter beside the coffee machine and set about making a three shot Americano. They were unusually quiet that Friday morning, likely because of the near torrential rain that was falling outside like the sun might never shine again. Weather like that tended to result in fewer customers in the early mornings and more come elevenses when the rain would drive people to seek shelter.
There wasn't a single drop of moisture on the American's impeccable suit Esca noted bitterly as he risked a sideways glance. It was as if the rain didn't dare to besmirch the man's perfection. He frowned, biting back a muttered curse; what was the matter with him? He needed to stop this train of thought right the fuck now. Perfection? He was starting to feel like he'd swallowed a tome of sappy romantic poetry!
He needed a drink and not just a coffee—something much stronger. He didn't care that it was only half eight in the morning—he needed a whisky like never before. He placed the finished coffee on the counter next to the muffin that Kate had already laid out and said, "Americano, extra shot." Without allowing himself to look at the customer again he pushed the cup towards the man's bulk where it had appeared at the service counter in front of him.
"Thank you," said the voice and Esca had to steel himself not to react as the deep timbre flowed through him. He turned away hastily, wondering if it was too early to take his break. He felt hesitation from the direction of his customer before a resigned sigh and the sounds of him walking away, and that shifted the lead weight that had settled upon his shoulders.
"Jesus, Esca, what was that?" Kate asked in a low voice, her concerned brown eyes searching Esca's.
"I don't know what you mean," Esca said, turning and staring at the rain sluicing down the window, almost falling over in relief when the door opened to admit a group of five or so student types, all of whom Esca recognised as regulars. He couldn't have a whisky, so he'd just have to busy himself with work. If he kept his head down long enough the American would have finished his order and would be on his way—and maybe tomorrow he wouldn’t return. He wasn't a local after all, his suit being a little too well cut and expensive for someone who would regularly frequent Brit's Café and tomorrow was Saturday, the day when the customers turned from mainly students and office workers into shoppers and couples. Although the café was incredibly popular its regulars tended to be more—or should that be less?— posh.
Esca ignored the sinking feeling in his stomach at the thought the man possibly wouldn't return tomorrow and set about serving the latest influx of customers. Once that was done he retreated into the tiny staff bathroom out the back and leant back against the door, closing his eyes and banging his head back against it. He needed to sort his life out—getting all hot and bothered about some rich twat just because he had a nice broad chest and a gorgeous deep voice that did things to him—well, it wasn't on. Clearly his life was lacking something if he could get that affected by another person like that.
"You're going out tonight if it kills you," he told himself, pushing back from the door and moving to the sink to splash his face with cold water. "And you're sucking the cock of the first willing man you meet." He stared at his reflection in the tiny mirror above the sink, seeing his skinny tattoo covered form, his pale skin, cloudy blue eyes. Or maybe it was time to add a new tattoo. It had been nearly a year since he'd acquired the last one, swearing it was his last, but now—well, he needed something to scratch the itch.
"Esca!" There was a knock on the door and Kate's voice drifted through. "A little help here?"
Esca grabbed some paper towels and dried his face. "Just a sec!" he replied, adjusting his beanie and throwing the towels in to the bin. He glanced at himself one more time before opening the door with a heavy sigh.
The American was standing outside with folded arms and his back against the wall, his brown eyes trained on the door, and then on Esca as he exited. Esca froze, feeling like a rabbit trapped in headlights under that intense stare.
"You can't avoid me forever," he said, raising one eyebrow.
Esca swallowed. "I think I can," he said, moving past and back towards the café. A strong hand closed around his upper arm and Esca stopped in his tracks. Fuck.
Esca closed his eyes and took a deep breath before turning back. "I'm not doing this, Marcus," he said, rolling the man's name on his tongue, unable to pretend he didn't know who he was now he'd been confronted directly. He should have known better than to think he could avoid him, that Marcus wouldn't confront him eventually after three days of being ignored. It was a mistake to look up at Marcus and into those solemn brown eyes—that had been his undoing before after all. "I need to get back to work."
Marcus raised an eyebrow. "Suit yourself," he drawled, letting go of Esca's arm and leaning back against the wall to regard Esca calmly. "I can wait all day if I have to."
"What, no super important meetings today?" Esca sniped. His shift finished at 6pm when the café closed, he doubted very much that Marcus would wait until then—he was banking on it. "No deals to be done, millions to be made?"
"No," Marcus said, pinning Esca to the spot with his gaze. "Business was wrapped up yesterday. I decided to stay in Worcester for a few more days and …take in the sights."
Esca's stomach twisted at Marcus' words. He hadn't expected that. Marcus was supposed to sign his business deal or whatever it was he was in town for and leave Worcester for good. "How lovely for you," he said calmly. "There's a delightful National Trust house just down the road, why don't you start there?" He pushed past Marcus and headed for the front of house where the queue at the counter building up. He muttered 'sorry' at Kate and took over the coffee machine.
He pretended not to notice when Marcus emerged from the back and without as much as a glance at Esca, pushed open the door and left. He told himself he wasn't surprised that Marcus had given up so easily. Of course he had. After all, what was Esca to him? Nothing more than a quick fuck—okay fucks, plural—to scratch an itch whilst he was in England making his considerable millions. He probably had someone in every town he did business in. There'd be someone else for him to fuck next week and that was fine with Esca. It was.
"I was just closing," Esca said, moving out from around the counter and past Marcus to pull down the window blinds and to hover by the door, his hand over the latch. So what if there were a few minutes to go, screw the consequences, he just needed Marcus to leave. "So if you wouldn't mind—"
"I do mind actually," Marcus said. He was standing over Esca in a heartbeat, flipping the latch closed and pulling down the final blind, the one on the door. The following silence roared a crescendo in Esca's head as time went on hold and they stared at each other, neither able to look away until Marcus broke the tension with, "I missed you, Esca."
Esca laughed, short, broken and completely without humour. "Of course you did," he snapped, his gut churning with anger. It had been nearly four months since he'd last seen Marcus. Four months. If he'd cared at all he wouldn't have left it that long. After their last and what Esca now thought of as their final argument Marcus had walked out and as time had crept by it had become more and more apparent that he wasn't going to get in touch and that that was it for Esca. Their relationship, such as it was, was over. "What do you want, Marcus?"
"I should have thought that was obvious."
Esca swallowed and tried to look away, but he never had been able to take his eyes off Marcus, not since that first day they'd met in the reception of a nearby hotel. Esca was in the middle of a frustrating disagreement with the receptionist regarding an order he was delivering to a small conference room about some hotel rule that refreshments absolutely had to be provided by the hotel and not a third party. Esca had been arguing that that was all very well, but he was only fulfilling an order received and that the issue should be taken up with his customer not him. Marcus had stepped in, telling the receptionist to let Esca through with the order.
Esca didn't think he'd ever been so turned on by something so insignificant—but the then unnamed man had flipped a switch inside of him and little did he know at that point just what that was going to come to mean. He'd assumed that Marcus was the hotel manager or something and had continued under that impression for a good few days after that first encounter, even when the following day another order had come in from the hotel—just lunch for two—and when Esca had delivered it he'd found that the second serving was for him. Not that he'd gotten around to eating it until much later—he'd been far busier being spread wide over a large mahogany desk and getting fucked to within an inch of his life to be thinking about food.
"Nothing about you is obvious," Esca said, finally managing to unlock his eyes and move away. It had transpired that Marcus wasn't the manager of the hotel—he was the owner of the entire chain. Aquila Hotels was an American owned company, and Marcus had recently inherited the company from his Uncle. At the time of his visit to Worcester he'd been in the process of visiting each hotel in turn to familiarise himself with his new empire even though he had been working for his uncle since he'd graduated.
Esca sighed, feeling suddenly weary. "It's been a long time, Marcus, I've moved on." Liar. He hadn't as much as sniffed another bloke since Marcus left, hadn't wanted to. He'd missed Marcus more than he'd ever want to admit, even to himself.
"You're impossible, you know that?" Marcus ground out, reaching out and closing his left hand around Esca's wrist and yanking him towards him. "I've never met anyone else like you—" And with that he crashed his lips against Esca's and pushed him back against the door with force, causing the blind to clatter noisily against the glass. He still held Esca's wrist pinned up above his head as he plundered Esca's mouth.
Esca froze for all of three seconds before the intense arousal that surrounded his every interaction with Marcus kicked back in after the shock and he had no choice to do anything other than to respond. He hated that Marcus could do that to him—at the same time he loved it. No one else had ever made him feel like Marcus could and he doubted very much that anyone else ever would. He had long since embraced a weary acceptance that Marcus was probably it for him.
"Come home with me," Marcus whispered, pulling back and resting his forehead against Esca's, his breathing ragged. "Please."
"Your home is in New York," Esca said, struggling to free his wrist as a sliver of sanity returned to him. New York, Paris, Venice—in fact any city that housed an Aquila Hotel. Marcus' New York Penthouse was his primary residence and the only one Esca had ever been to.
"No," Marcus shook his head. "No—I've bought a house here, by the cathedral. I'm going to base myself here in Worcester. It was a mistake to expect you to follow me to the other side of the world when I can live anywhere. Come home with me."
Marcus had moved to Worcester? He'd moved to Worcester to be near to him? That…changed things. "This I have to see," Esca replied with a short nod and was rewarded with a smile that extracted an immediate response from himself in the form of his stomach flip-flopping and a rare smile, one that he hadn't even known he was capable of before he'd met Marcus.
"Let me get my coat," Esca said, his decision made, heading to the back room to grab his hoody. Marcus was still waiting by the door when he returned and Esca unlocked it and let Marcus to pass through before following him and locking it again behind him. Wordlessly they turned in the direction of the cathedral, walking up Friar Street past the now closed shops and the early evening post-work drinkers gathering in the bars and pubs that they passed. It had stopped raining an hour or so ago and the street was a mixture of puddles and sun-dried concrete in the sunlight that had made its presence felt when the clouds cleared. They crossed College Street and passed through Edgar Street, Esca expecting Marcus to stop him at any moment, assuming that the house would be there. Instead, they continued past and through the old stone archway that led onto College Green.
"You're fucking kidding me," Esca said, stopping dead as he surveyed the scene before him—the tree lined green, the old Georgian houses that flanked the one side, the Cathedral itself and Kings College on the other. It was like stepping back in time to walk through that arch and this green had long since been one of Esca's escapes. "I thought this place all belonged to the college."
"Not all of it," Marcus said, reaching into his inner pocket and withdrawing a small set of keys. "Number seven is privately owned." He held the keys aloft for Esca as evidence before turning and slotting the key into the royal blue front door of the house they were standing in front of. Marcus pushed open the door and gestured for Esca to enter. Too surprised to argue, Esca obeyed.
He found himself in a long empty entrance hall with a flight of stairs leading upwards and several doors leading off in various unknown rooms. Curious he continued forwards to the one open door at the end of the hall that led him into a large unfurnished wood panelled room, streams of autumn evening light pushing in and showing off the old parquet floor. "Wow," was all he could manage. Esca loved old buildings—more than that, he was obsessed with them. If he closed his eyes he would swear he could hear the past all around him. He was fascinated by the history, loved the stories that came with bricks and mortar.
He hated circumstances that had made him a barista and not a historian even if he had long since come to terms with them.
Marcus leant against the door jamb watching him. "I knew you'd love it," he said, probably a little smugly, but Esca was too enamoured with his surroundings to care. "I bought it with you in mind."
That jarred Esca out of his history induced trance. "Say again." Suddenly the wonder of the building faded and there was only Marcus.
Marcus took a step forwards. "I said I bought this place with you in mind. I bought it for you—for us—I hoped."
Esca felt simultaneously giddy and confused. "Why? We broke up—you never made any attempt to get in touch after you walked out." He hoped that Marcus wouldn't mention that he hadn't tried to contact him either.
Marcus sighed. "Follow me," he said, gesturing with his head towards the hallway. "There's something I want you to see." He turned and left the room leaving Esca no choice other than to follow. As Marcus disappeared into the hallway and began to ascend the stairs Esca took another look around him at the room he was in, letting the feel of the place sink in—wishing—because it felt like home and—he hadn't felt like that before.
He followed Marcus upstairs onto a landing that contained five doors, one of which was open. Inside was a large bedroom with a wooden floor and the walls painted an olive green and there was no furniture save for a large old wooden bed made up with white linen, on top of which was a small box tied with string that immediately drew Esca's eye. This room was at the front of the house so the sunlight wasn't streaming in like it had downstairs, but that didn't change the feel of the room. Esca could feel the history all around him and he wanted to breathe it in.
Marcus stood by the window, eyes guarded, watching as Esca couldn't help but reach out and pick up the parcel from the bed. He cast his eyes to Marcus. "What's this?"
"It's for you. Open it." His face was blank as Esca shook it, feeling something inside slide from one end of the small box to the other. "Please."
Esca, keeping his eyes locked on Marcus, tugged the tiny bow, removed the string, and lifted the lid. He had to break eye contact to inspect the contents, gasping when he found a key and underneath it a note. He lifted out the note and read, "Esca, This house is for you. I'd like to share it with you if you'll let me, Happy Birthday, all my love, Marcus." Esca felt his head spin when he read the date on top. It was dated four months ago—in fact the exact date was Esca's birthday, June 12th—the day they'd had that horrible argument and Esca had declared he never wanted to see Marcus again.
The worst lie he'd ever told. All because he was a fucking stubborn wanker who didn't know how to deal with the strength of what he was feeling, something that had started out as great sex and quickly became much much more—and he'd never felt that, didn't know what to do with it…was so scared that it was all going to be ripped away from him as quickly as it had taken him over that he'd pushed Marcus away, his disastrous visit to New York still fresh in his mind.
"Jesus fuck, Marcus," Esca managed. "That was some birthday gift."
That day Marcus had told him he needed to go back to New York urgently because a rival hotel chain was attempting a takeover and he had to deal with that right away and Esca had recalled back to that fortnight he'd spent in New York with Marcus. The time they been supposed to spend together had been eaten up by a succession of emergencies leaving Esca to his own devices. He'd tried to be understanding about it, but despite its fantastic architecture and history, New York had made him feel claustrophobic in the same way London had when he'd lived there for a few weeks a few years before. He loved Worcester because it was a city right on the edge of open countryside and in ten minutes he could be out in the middle of nowhere. New York and London were so vast and built up with tiny open spaces that the natives seemed so proud of which only served to make Esca feel hemmed in. The big city wasn't for him.
When Marcus had announced he had to leave Esca had seen their relationship, such as it was, going nowhere fast—Marcus didn't belong in his world and he didn't belong in his and it was only a matter of time before Marcus ended it, even if he had been alluding to Esca moving to New York at some point—that had been before his visit. Esca belonged here, this city was his home—he could never have foreseen Marcus leaving his penthouse in New York behind for Esca.
He'd been very wrong about that it seemed.
"You meant it—you want to live here with me? It's been four months, Marcus—" He stalled as Marcus swallowed and licked his lips. He looked more uncertain than Esca ever remembered seeing him before, like he was nervous of Esca's response to whatever he was going to say. "—are you saying you still want this?"
"I tried, without you, I thought I could do it—after all, I managed fine for twenty-nine years before I met you—but I can't do it, Esca. The last few months have been hell. I want you in my life, I need you in my life." He took a step towards Esca, and another until they were toe to toe. "I'll still keep the places in New York and London—I can't promise I won't have to go away on business from time to time, but if you want me, Esca, I'll move my head office to Worcester. If you don't, then, well—the house is yours regardless."
Esca blinked, trying to take it all in, unusually lost for words. "I'm a selfish person," he managed after a long stretch of silence in which the two of them simply stared at one another. "I'll take the house…and you."
"I'll support you if you want to go to university—" Marcus held up a hand as Esca opened his mouth to protest. "Don't pretend like you don't know what I'm talking about—I saw all those history and architecture books that one time you let me see where you lived and I'd have to be a utterly dumb fuck not to notice how much you talk about the history of this place and that—you're obsessed."
Esca snapped his mouth closed. It would seem as though Marcus knew him better than he'd realised. He shook his head. "One thing at a time, yeah?" He licked his lips and reared up onto tiptoes, wrapping a hand around the back of Marcus' neck and pulling him down into an immediate and desperate kiss. He'd missed him so much, certain he'd never see him again and now he was here, and they were together in a house that Marcus had bought for him, and it was so fucking perfect, the exact house Esca would have chosen if he'd had the money to buy anywhere he wanted, in Esca's favourite part of the city, the river just a two minute walk away, the cathedral next door. Marcus had known Esca better than he knew himself it seemed.
Marcus groaned into the kiss, his hands coming down to cup Esca's buttocks and Esca responded as he so often had when Marcus caressed him there—by placing another hand on his shoulder and lifting himself, wrapping his legs around Marcus' waist, fitting himself against him just as he knew Marcus loved. Esca loved Marcus' size, loved wrapping his legs around him, loved it when Marcus spun him and pushed him against the wall and pressed into him, exploring Esca's mouth with the wonder of a man kissing someone for the first time combined with the knowledge that if he did that with his tongue Esca would squirm in his arms and that if he reached between them and pushed Esca's t-shirt out of the way and one-handed unbuckled his belt Esca would pull out of the kiss and stare into Marcus' eyes and say, "You've got four months of fucking to make up for, Aquila, you best make this good," because Esca always threw down a challenge—make it harder than last time, make me come without touching me, let me fuck you—and Marcus thrived on a challenge—and Esca liked to be the one to give it to him.
"Oh," Marcus breathed, his voice so husky it was almost a whisper, "This will be more than merely good." His large hands made light work of Esca's zip, sliding Esca to his feet so he could push his jeans and underwear down, Esca toeing out of his shoes and socks as he kicked off the clothing. Marcus hooked two thumbs under the hems of Esca's t-shirt and hoody and lifted, Esca raising his arms to assist so that the last stitch of his clothing could be thrown on the floor somewhere behind them before Marcus dropped to his knees and nosed Esca's erection as it stood proudly awaiting his attention. He licked a slow path along the underside, root to tip, before engulfing the head and swirling his tongue over it with a groan. One hand slid around to cup a buttock, the other tracing his balls softly. Esca curled his toes and resisted closing his eyes—he needed to see Marcus, he wanted to be sure that this was real and that he hadn't fallen asleep in front of the television again to dream about Marcus only to wake alone and wanting.
Marcus stared up at him, eyes narrowed with arousal. He pulled back and said, "Has there been anyone else?" It wasn't an accusation although Esca could see the uncertainty in his expression. Esca shook his head. He'd tried—he'd gone out to The Brewery Tap a few times, by himself or with one of his housemates, he'd had offers, but when it came to it, he hadn't wanted anyone else. Marcus nodded, the uncertainty fading from his eyes. "Me neither," he said and Esca hadn't even realised he was holding his breath until that point.
The hand on Esca's arse slipped down and traced a slow circle around Esca's hole, Marcus's eyes questioning him, as though he couldn't predict the answer as easily as he once would have and Esca responded by spreading his legs slightly to allow better access. "It's been too long," he grumbled, threading his fingers into Marcus' hair and pulling him up so he could kiss him again. "Fuck me."
"I plan on it," Marcus replied, kissing him and lifting him again at the same time so Esca could wrap his legs around Marcus' waist once more. "Lube's in my inside pocket."
Esca grinned, loving the fact that Marcus was wearing his probably very expensive suit and hadn't as much as removed his tie. He reached into the pocket in question and found the sachet of lube. He raised an eyebrow, "You assumed I was a sure thing?"
"I never assume anything with you, Esca," Marcus answered, his eyes following Esca's fingers as they tore open the packet. Their gazes met and a kiss shortly followed, somehow Marcus managed to coat his fingers in the lube and slide a digit inside Esca causing him to slam his head back against the wall at the intrusion, Marcus' lips leaving his to bury his nose in his neck.
Time drew to a halt, yet at the same time moved in fast forward, because one moment Esca was breathing hard at the invasion of one finger, the next it seemed he was opening himself up for Marcus' cock, being lifted up and lowered back down, his back against the cold surface of the wall, his legs warm around the woven fabric of Marcus' suit, Marcus' cock being the only part of him that had found daylight when Esca had managed to undo his flies and ease him free, stroking him firmly until Marcus couldn’t take anymore. His hands were on Marcus' shoulders now, his head falling into his neck to breathe in his scent as he was impaled. God, he'd missed this, this fire between them, the passion that had held them together and was bringing them back to one another now. The hitch of Marcus' breath as he began to move, thrusting up into Esca as Esca bored down in turn, the heavy slide of his cock inside him, the welcome burn, the glorious pleasure as Marcus' cock found that spot inside him that caused him to cry out, "Fuck—Marcus!" and kiss him hard, to look into his eyes and chase the desire he found there.
"Missed you so much," Marcus groaned, thrusting into Esca for the hundredth time as he spun him away from the wall and fell back onto the bed as his legs seemed to give way.
Esca lifted himself off Marcus briefly so Marcus could slide backwards onto the bed and then lowered himself back down onto him, leaning forwards to suck his tongue into his mouth, both of his hands twining with Marcus' larger ones as he fucked himself down onto him with increased desperation. He was close, so very close, the friction of his cock against the buttons on Marcus' waistcoat dragging him towards the edge. He wanted to touch himself, wanted Marcus to, wanted to come without a hand on him. "Missed you too," he managed, biting down hard on Marcus' neck as he finally came, coating the soft material of Marcus' waistcoat with his release, his fingers curling into Marcus' at the force of his orgasm. "Come on," he said into his neck.
"Esca!" Marcus said by way of an answer, stilling as his own release tore through him and he exploded inside Esca. It felt as though he was coming forever, filling Esca to the brim as he came down from his own climax.
Esca lifted himself off Marcus gently and curled himself around him, burrowing into his side. "Your suit is covered in come," he said with a laugh and he was damned if that wasn't the hottest thing ever, Marcus all rumpled and fucked out, covered in the evidence of their recent coupling.
"Do you want to see my tattoo?" Marcus said then, lifting one hand to unbutton his shirt cuff. Esca raised himself up on an elbow and watched, the sudden curiosity burning him. Marcus had once said he loved every one of Esca's tattoos and the stories behind them but that he'd never get one of his own. He pulled back his sleeve and removed his watch and there it was, large enough to read but small enough to cover easily, on his inner wrist. Four letters forming the word 'Esca' in a neat cursive script.
"Fuck, Marcus—it's—I love it—" Esca started, lifting his other hand to trace gently over his name. "When?"
"On your birthday. I should have shown you then—if I had we might've avoided this whole mess."
"We might have, or we might not. It's in the past now, let's just leave it there." He leaned over and pressed a kiss to the tattoo. He dropped his head back down and laid it on Marcus' chest. "I'm going to be in charge of decorating this place, right?"
He felt Marcus' chest rumble with laughter. "As if I'd dare interfere—I'll just be the finance behind the venture."
"Good," Esca said and snuggled closer, closing his eyes. "I love this place—and it feels like home, being here with you." And that was the closest he'd ever come to telling Marcus he loved him. One day maybe he'd manage it, but until then, he'd have to show Marcus in other ways.
"Looks like my cunning plan paid off then," Marcus said tiredly, tightening his hold on Esca.
"Don't go falling asleep yet," Esca said with a smirk. "If you recall you've got four months to make up for and I'll be ready for another go in a few minutes."
"I'll be ready," Marcus said. "I might even take my clothes off this time."
Esca's smirk widened. He had plans for those clothes, specifically Marcus' tie and the sleeves of his shirt and the bed posts… And to think he'd thought he was having a bad day this morning—it had turned into the best day ever.
He'd got Marcus back, and nothing could ever top that.