Louise and her mother had gone to pay an extended visit to Mabel, the woman who had owned the farm where they used to stay all those years ago. It would be all about the past, and besides Mabel was rather frail and easily confused these days. It was better, Louise insisted, if Simon didn’t come. He tried not to appear too relieved. The trip had been fine, really, but a lot of the time he had felt excluded, as Louise and her mum excitedly recognised the places they had known and shared stories about those many holidays – they had spent every summer here, when Louise was a child, right up until she was twelve and her father had died and everything had changed.
It was understandable: Louise was emotional all the time, and she was so heavily pregnant – her hormones were all over the place; her inner turmoil profound. Simon wanted to help, but found that Louise had turned mostly to her mother for support over the first weekend of the stay.
Alone in the cabin, Simon poured himself a large glass of wine from the best bottle he had brought – he felt a little guilty about this, but something told him that he deserved a little luxury just now. It was a fine evening, and Simon toyed with the idea of having a good long soak in the hot-tub. Why not? When he had given it a go, more as a joke than anything, on Saturday, he had been just beginning to understand what the appeal was when he’d been called for dinner.
He changed into his trunks, then slipped over them his loose-hanging, straight-legged, navy running bottoms. On top, he wore his white Fred Perry. He felt the need to admire himself in the mirror in the bedroom: he liked the way the fine pants fell away from his behind. The boys next door should get a load of that, he told himself humorously.
The gay couple in the next chalet had arrived on Saturday afternoon, in a sports car, both in sharp, tailored suits, a kind of mirror image of each other’s beauty, with short, black hair, dark, sparkling eyes, and a fresh, pale, newly scrubbed handsomeness about them that even Simon could not ignore. They’d been a little camp over Louise and the fact she was so nearly due, but otherwise they weren’t obviously queer. Simon found himself looking for small signs of intimacy between them, just to confirm his suspicions. “If they weren’t so well groomed,” Louise had joked, “I might have thought they were straight.”
Louise had been chatting with them on their porch that morning, and Simon had gone over with his coffee. Louise had asked where her drink was, and the gay boys and Simon’s wife had joked about what a typical man he was, as he had gone back to fetch her hot lemon water. Something about their jesting banter had appealed to him: he liked being talked about.
It hadn’t been such a bad weekend, really, Simon thought, as he stretched out in the deck chair beside the tub. Simon wondered if Louise’s mother felt she could be a mother to him too, and he wondered why he resisted this. It was ten years, eleven in fact, since his own mother had died. In a way, no-one else had ever been really tender to him, really proud of his sweetness in the way his mum had been. He missed her.
Simon closed his eyes. He could hear the sheep bleating and moaning in the field below; he could hear the intersections of various bird songs; he could hear nothing very much – peace. His life was so busy, so full of noise and work and the struggle to get on – no time to think. But he liked it that way. He felt a sinking in his soul – how often had evenings alone with too much wine ended with him feeling achingly lonely and hopelessly dis-satisfied? He feared that he had some kind of depressive illness lurking within him and that if he let go, if he thought too much, if he gave up the tense hold, then he would collapse into senseless misery, at any moment. Not tonight, he told himself, not this time. Just enjoy the wine, the quiet, the tranquillity, just let it happen.
Someone was beside him on the deck. Simon sensed it before he heard the polite cough. It was one of the boys from next door. He thought of them as boys, somehow, though they were certainly as old as him, early thirties probably. This was the slightly rougher-edged one, the one with the elegant stubble, the one who seemed to be in charge. He was smiling down at Simon with simple confidence. Something trickled through Simon, a little stream of feeling, and he found himself thinking that it must be nice sometimes to be told what to do, to not have to be the one in charge.
“Sorry to disturb,” the handsome chap was saying, “We were wondering if you could help us …” Then he gave a slight, coy chuckle and Simon blinked at him wonderingly. He couldn’t see him perfectly, as the setting sun was just behind him, making Simon have to shade his eyes. So Simon stood up and took in the fact that his visitor was wearing nothing but a pair of trunks, that his lightly toned body was clean-shaven, that his shoulders and arms were rippling with small, rounded, supple muscles.
“It’s a bit embarrassing, really,” the visitor continued. “We can’t work out how to get the tub going, and, since we noticed you trying yours out yesterday, we wondered …” Again he looked embarrassed. “It’s Simon, isn’t it?” he added, “I’m Craig.” And he shook Simon’s hand in a casual, business-like fashion.
As they walked across, Craig whispered conspiratorially, “My husband, Alex, is a little pissed already, so don’t pay too much attention to him, eh?”
Alex was also in his trunks. His body was a little softer, a little less developed than Craig’s, but it had a kind of slender athleticism about it that Simon envied. He’d lost a little weight himself lately, but he could never seem to keep it off.
Alex giggled when he saw Simon. “The repairman arrives,” he jested. “Great start to a really hot movie.”
Craig smiled at him lovingly, “You just behave yourself, my lad. We don’t want to embarrass our guest, at least not until he’s shown us how to get the bubbles going, huh?”
Alex leapt to his feet and skipped over to the tub, “Yes, yes, Mr Repairman. The boys want some hot tub action. Get it going, please!”
It was simple enough, though Simon had also found the buttons a little unresponsive and wondered at first if he was doing something wrong, so he showed them how to move through the settings, and Alex clapped excitedly and Craig shook his hand whilst smiling apologetically. “Get in then,” he said to Alex, but Simon momentarily thought he was being addressed and must have blushed obviously in his confusion.
Alex splashed into the tub and shouted, “Come on Simon, jump in; we won’t bite!”
Craig looked Simon full in the face, paused, then said simply, “Are the others out all night? Because you can stay and have a drink with us if you want, or were you happy have a bit of me time?”
Simon explained where his wife and mother-in-law were then asked, “What are you drinking? Because I’ve got a gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc that is really too good not to share.”
Alex tried to pipe up something about a “Semillon,” but Craig shushed him. “Something of a connoisseur, eh?” he said to Simon. Simon nodded shyly and went off the fetch the bottle.
Craig appreciated Simon’s choice and they chatted easily about wine, about London restaurants, and then about Tolstoy, whom they both revered. All the while, Simon was in the chair on the deck and Craig and Alex were in the tub.
“I just LOVE this,” Alex suddenly cried. “Come on Simeon: You have to get in. It’s like an all over massage. Unloose all those stresses and kinks for you, I bet.”
Craig looked at Simon sympathetically. “No funny stuff, promise,” he said, so Simon stripped to his trunks and slipped into the tub, opposite the pretty couple, who were clearly holding hands beneath the turbulent surface.
The warmth of the pool and the forceful jets that burst all about him relaxed every muscle, every sinew in Simon’s strained body.
“How old are you?” Alex suddenly asked, in a steady tone.
“Twenty-nine,” said Simon. “Do I look older than that?”
“Same age as me!” Alex spluttered triumphantly. “No, you’re very well preserved,” he added, and started to giggle again. “Craig’s past it, as you can see,” he added. “He’s thirty-one! Bloody middle-aged!”
Craig playfully kissed Alex on the lips, “I love you too, gorgeous,” he said.
But as he made to pull away, Alex held on to the back his head and drew him close for a passionate, extended kiss that Craig only feigned to resist before he took charge and began hungrily feeding on Alex’s sweet, ripe mouth.
Simon almost turned away, but then he took another gulp of wine and rested his eyes on the image of these handsome lovers, their squarish faces, their strong, sheer cheek bones, their smooth, finely etched flesh. He wanted to laugh or to say something slightly disdainful, instead, he felt a kick in his stomach, which had not felt like his own lately, since he’d tightened and flattened it over the last few weeks. Then a flush or rush of something seemed to fall through him, from his chest downwards, and he sensed the beginnings of his arousal stirring. He was about to shift, to get up and leave them to it, when something within him gave way: maybe it was the heat of the water, maybe it was the way that gush just hit him suddenly between the legs, but instead of retreating or resisting, he remained and collapsed into a new kind of pleasure.
He eyed the kissing couple with intense fascination and let his erection grow, save in the knowledge that the bubbles would disguise it completely. He felt an ache of jealousy, a pang of shame but mostly he felt that he was caught up in a wave of pleasure and release. Their passion was so raw, so full, so unrestrained, and his view of it was his own, his own delight.
At last, they stopped devouring each other, laughed and turned to Simon.
“Sorry about that,” Craig said. “Hope you’re not embarrassed. Have to do a little bit of heavy petty …”
“It is a hot tub,” Simon tried, but his voice cracked a little as he strained to sound at ease.
Then Craig and Alex exchanged a knowing glance, and Craig said, “Let me just see if I’ve got the hang of these buttons.” He leaned back and began to fiddle with the controls. “So if I press this again, the bubbles should just stop, yes?” And he pressed, and the water settled and cleared and Simon’s large erection was visible to his similarly aroused companions.
Alex gasped and said in quiet, thrilled tone; “You see, Craigy, I am always right, always.”
Craig looked hard at Simon: “Seems like you’ve got a bit of a situation going on there, Si, huh?” he said, not unsympathetically, but not without some sort of cruelty or challenge implied beneath the simple surface of the statement and his manner.
The idea of resisting flashed across Simon’s thoughts, but, rather to his own surprise, he dismissed it utterly, and merely smiled with shy pride. “I’ve never … Nothing like this has ever happened before,” he said, at last.
Alex was amazed: “Never? But you are so obvious, Simon. From the first moment I saw you, I said to Craig, there’s a lovely little gay boy inside of him that’s just aching to get out. And you’ve never given the little sweetie an airing, never so much as a bit of bi-curious touching …”
Craig shushed his husband. “Don’t be unkind, Al. He’s a little bewildered, aren’t you, Simon?”
“I’m a happily …” he began, but Alex was already beside him, one hand gently on his shoulder.
“It’s OK, Simon, really,” he said, seriously. “Everyone’s allowed a little adventure now and again.”
“Who amongst can say we’re not a little bi-focal?” Craig added, comically, as he took up a position at Simon’s other side.
And so, as Alex lightly caressed and kissed and tendered him, Craig went to work with his firm, gentle, expert grip, stretching Simon gorgeously on a wrack of unimagined ecstasy. Simon surrendered to their touches, and felt new, free, huge.
“Let him out,” Alex whispered. “Let that little sweet queer out of you, just for once, let him feel what he needs to feel.”
There in the comfort and safety of the warm water and Craig and Alex’s subtle, considerate, urgent embraces, Simon felt his inner fears and anxieties evaporate, as they rushed into one passionate, prolonged explosion of sheer pleasure.
“The repairman cometh,” Alex jested, and Simon was alive in every fibre with a pleasure that lingered and would never quite go away, ever again.