“Waitress,” Michael lifted his glass in the air to get the woman’s attention, “Pour me another Rum and Coke.”
Asher frowned when several customers glared in their direction. Michael already drank three mixed drinks and they both had two glasses of wine with their meal. “Don’t you think you’ve had enough to drink tonight?”
Michael glanced at him as if he was confused by what Asher asked him. There was no delicate way to say it, so Asher decided to be blunt, “Listen, Michael, maybe you should cut back on your drinking--”
“That’s rich from a guy who makes his living serving alcohol.”
“Yeah, you’re right, but I’ve seen enough drunks to know when someone has a problem.” Asher held Michael’s gaze. The tightness in his chest started to relax when Michael set his empty glass on the table, but the waitress was already on her way to the table, so Asher intercepted her. “Thank you miss, but he actually wanted to order a regular Coke, if you don’t mind.”
She glanced between them. Michael winked at the girl and told her, “Don’t worry, babe, we’ll still pay for the drink, even if my friend won’t let me drink it.”
Asher chuckled and took the glass from the waitress’ hand and downed the brown liquid in one gulp.
“You’re a prick,” Michael growled, once the girl walked away, which brought tears to Asher’s eyes as he threw his head back and laughed.
“Keep it up and I’ll rescind your invitation.” Michael kept glaring at Asher.
Clutching his chest as his breathing slowly returned to normal, Asher raised his eyebrows and asked Michael, “What invitation? If you’re talking about dinner, you’re a little bit too late, don’t you think?” Asher continued to chuckle, pointing to the empty dishes scattered around the table. Their dinner had been very expensive; add in the cost of drinks plus dessert and Michael had more than made up for stiffing Asher on his tip the other night.
“Not to dinner,” Michael said with a huff, “I was going to invite you to our weekly basketball game tomorrow. A couple of guys get together every Sunday afternoon at the Piperton Athletics Club…so…” The way Michael phrased it left the invitation very open-ended.
Piperton was very exclusive. The membership alone was incredibly expensive. Asher caught a few pick-up games, every now and then, at the community park in Onyx Hills, but playing somewhere like Piperton would be a whole different ballgame.
“Sure, I’ll play with you.” Asher tried to keep the excitement out of his voice.
“Wait! Before we get there and you embarrass the crap out of me, are you any good?” Michael teased. He had the cutest dimples when he smiled. They were deeper than a thumb print, drawing Asher’s attention to Michael’s sweet smile.
Asher knew that Michael saw the various athletic jerseys and equipment in his apartment. When it came to sports, Asher was a natural. He shrugged his shoulders and replied coyly, “I’ve played a time or two in my life.” Their playful banter was refreshing. It felt like foreplay. The more Michael teased him, the more it turned Asher on. “But if you really want to see me in action, baseball is my game of choice.” A wide grin split Asher’s face as he bragged about his athletic ability.
Michael nodded his dark head, taking in what Asher had revealed about himself. “Personally, I played lacrosse in high school and college, but I haven’t been able to find too many guys in the city interested in playing.”
“I would have pegged you for a football kind of guy,” Asher’s eyes glided over Michael’s broad shoulders before he could stop himself from openly admiring the man’s physique. When Michael laughed, he was slightly put at ease. Michael was being so friendly that Asher was positive that the guy hadn’t figured out yet what team Asher really played for.
“The guys are all really cool,” Michael said as he pulled his wallet from his pocket. “The game starts at two--”
“Hey! I thought you lost your wallet,” Asher spoke overtop of Michael still explaining the detail of tomorrow’s game.
Looking a little sheepish, a pink flush crept up Michael’s neck and cheeks, “Yeah, I thought I lost it too, but when I got home there was a message from Travis’s Bar. Apparently I left both my phone and wallet there so I swung by and picked them up this afternoon. They also told me that I fell off a barstool last night and that’s how I got the cut over my eye and busted lip.”
Asher shook his head. Michael was lucky he wasn’t seriously injured wandering the streets in such an inebriated state. He knew Travis, and would have to remind the bar owner to cut off the alcohol after his patrons have reached their limit. If something serious had happened to Michael, Travis and his staff could have found themselves in really big trouble.
“I’m glad you got your stuff back,” Asher said as Michael pulled his credit card out and slipped it into the restaurant’s leather check-holder.
“Me too. That would have been a pain in the ass to cancel everything and get new cards issued, and don’t even get me started on the Department of Motor Vehicles.”
Asher laughed. He understood Michael’s dilemma. The DMV was never a fun place. No matter what information you took with you, it was always wrong. He could never get anything done at that place on the first try. It always took him at least three times to accomplish anything.
Michael paid their bill, but he didn’t make a move to get up and leave. Asher rolled his cotton napkin between his fingers while he waited for Michael to end their evening together. His heart raced as he waited. Why wasn’t Michael leaving? It’s not like this was a date. This most definitely was not a date, Asher told himself again and again, yet he couldn’t shake the feeling that Michael was having as much fun as he was.
“So, are you coming with me tomorrow?” Michael asked, still making no move to leave.
A thousand corny come-on lines flooded Asher’s mind. He bit the inside of his lip to keep from accidently blurting any of them out loud. They were having such a good time tonight it was such a shame to see it end, but they squared away their plans for the next day, before Asher was walking alone in the humid night, heading downtown towards home.
Since Asher didn’t have an access card, he had to wait for one of the attendants to buzz him into the athletic club. A young guy opened the door. His eyes roamed up and down Asher’s body, taking in his attire. When the corner of his mouth pulled into a slight grin, Asher knew that his tight fitted tank-top and maroon gym shorts, blazing his college’s alma mater logo on the thigh was the right choice.
“Can I help you, sir?” The attractive young man asked, straightening his shoulders and sounding very professional. His light blond hair and sun tanned skin had a fresh from the beach look.
Asher bit his lip to keep from smiling, “Yes, I’m meeting Michael Waters.”
The guy curtly nodded his head as he walked behind the counter. A few quick taps on his keyboard and a members list popped up on the screen. “It appears that your friends have already arrived.”
Asher checked his watch to make sure he wasn’t running late. Michael told him the game started at two o’clock and it was still ten minutes until tip-off. He didn’t want to make a bad impression by showing up late.
The guy wrote down some information from Asher’s driver’s license before handing it back with a grin. Asher wondered if it was really required for a guest pass or if the guy was looking for an easy way to score his information. Either way, Asher was flattered that a hot guy, several years his junior, was interested.
“If you will follow me, I’ll escort you to the Franklin Court.” The young man quickly led the way.
The place was even bigger than Asher imagined. The attendant snuck a glance in Asher’s direction every few minutes, as he continued through a maze of exercise equipment, private training rooms, racquetball and tennis courts, aerobic and yoga studios, and there was even a pilates area. A few women stumbled and missed their step in the Zumba class when Asher stopped for a second to watch their workout.
Everything in Piperton was state of the art equipment. If membership was top dollar, then these members demanded nothing less than cutting edge technology when it came to keeping their bodies in tip-top shape.
Asher could feel the change in the air when they neared the entrance to the Olympic sized, heated swimming pool. It grew thick and moist and held the distinct smell of chlorine. “Are you thinking about joining Piperton, Mr. Burkhart?” The attendant asked.
Not wanting to admit that there wasn’t a chance in hell of being able to afford a membership to a place like this, Asher lied, “I might, if the guys don’t beat me too bad at basketball today.” A bright smile lit up the guy’s face as he laughed.
Reaching the entrance to the Franklin Court, the guy held his hand on the doorknob for a moment before pushing it open. “Well, let’s hope they go easy on the new guy today,” he replied with a playful wink.
Asher’s heart was racing. This guy was actually flirting with him in a building full of testosterone-oozing, gym crazy jocks; the thought had shivers running along his spine. For a brief second, Asher considered dragging the cutie to the nearest locker-room for a little fun, but Michael’s voice ripped him out of his lustful daydream.
“Dude, you made it.” Michael said. The other guys on the court stopped their warm-ups to turn towards the door. Michael waved Asher in, not giving the handsome attendant a second glance. The men inside the basketball court never even noticed the beach boy cutie. “Hey guys, this is my friend, Asher.”
The breath suddenly stuck in Asher’s chest when Michael said his name. He couldn’t remember Michael ever saying it before, and for a second, all he wanted was for him to say it again. “Asher, these are the guys.” As soon as Michael said his name again, Asher wanted him to take it back. Michael’s rich voice was so deep and sexy, the sound echoed off the high walls and vibrated in Asher’s chest, sending a shock straight to his cock.
Trying to ignore the blush crawling up his cheeks, Asher hoped they would think his face was just flushed from the summer heat outside. Michael introduced everyone by name. It was hard to remember all eight of them, but Asher was sure he would pick them up as the day went on.
The group consisted of a variety of guys. Their ages appeared to range from mid-twenties to one guy who had to be over forty with graying hair at his temples. Even for his age, the guy was in incredible shape. Actually, they were all in great physical shape.
“So you and Michael are friends?” The guy they called Jonesie, asked, extending his hand to Asher. He was a few inches shorter than the other guys, but his body was a tight powerhouse of corded muscles. His short black hair blended into his dark complexion, but when the guy smiled, his eyes sparkled.
“Michael and I don’t know each other very well, but we’re friendly.”
Jonesie nodded his head and grinned. When his dark eyes lingered on Asher’s mouth for a moment too long, Asher knew. None of the other guys seemed to notice anything out of the ordinary. They were too busy stretching or warming up to pay attention to Asher, as he dug a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water out of his gym bag before dropping it onto the pile with the others. There was no denying that Jonesie was sexy, but Asher didn’t come here to flirt, he came to kick ass at basketball.
Michael clapped his hands and shouted, “Who’s ready to play?”
Jonesie quickly winked at Asher as the other guys hollered back, “Ready! I’m ready! Me too!” and then louder than all the rest, Philip, the oldest guy of the bunch, who happened to also be a lawyer, shouted, “I was born ready, now stop wiping your asses and let’s get this show on the road!”
The men laughed and cheered. They were pumped and ready to play. From the moment of the first tip of the ball, Asher knew these guys meant business. Their aggressive behavior had advanced them to extraordinary positions of power in the corporate world and none of these guys were used to losing.
Asher and Michael were paired on the same team. The men decided before Asher even arrived that he would be on Michael’s team. As Asher jumped, rolling the ball off his fingers for a perfect shot, several players on the opposite team grumbled, “So much for sticking them with the fucking newbie.”
Michael beamed with pride when he gave Asher and the rest of their teammates a high-five.
“How was I supposed to know he was any good?” Philip growled back.
The game was intense. Michael showed he was a fierce competitor, but also a talented and very sportsman-like player. He passed when someone was open and he didn’t take careless shots. Every move was calculated. Asher smiled. This was a side of Michael that he had never seen before. Michael’s cheeks were red and his short sweat-soaked hair was plastered to his forehead. Asher was growing more aroused the longer he watched Michael play.
“Matthew, I’m open,” Jonesie shouted from the far end of the court. Philip noticed that Jonesie was unguarded too. Running to get there just as Matthew passed the ball, Philip and Jonesie both reached for it, but the older man got it first. Pivoting on his right foot to race back to the opposite basket, Philip’s body turned, but his foot remained planted firmly on the floor. A sickening pop echoed off the high walls.
Jonesie didn’t realize that Philip was in trouble until it was too late. He had already started to chase the ball with the other players toward the direction Philip would have been going when the injury took the old guy crashing to the ground.
“Oh my god, Phil!” Matthew’s eyes were wide with fear.
Everyone raced back to Philip lying on the court, moaning and clutching his knee to his chest. The game was suddenly forgotten. The ball rolled across the floor before bumping into the wall.
“Someone call the front desk,” shouted a voice that Asher didn’t recognize.
Asher dropped to his knees and pushed his way through the guys crowding around the fallen player. He took control of the situation. “Philip, I need you to listen to me, okay,” Asher gently touched the man’s shoulder as he spoke. “I’m going to feel around your leg to see what happened, alright?”
Philip nodded his head, but he didn’t open his eyes still clenched tight in pain.
There were no obvious signs of any broken bones, but the tissue around Philip’s knee was swelling more and more with each passing second. Asher ran his fingers along the man’s shin and he didn’t wince until reaching the point just below his kneecap.
“Is this tender?” Asher calmly asked. Philip nodded his head. Not wanting to cause the guy too much pain, Asher tenderly palpated the tendons and ligaments in Philip’s right knee until he let loose a string of profanities that would make a sailor blush.
Asher glanced up at Michael. “Call the attendants and tell them that Philip has torn his ACL.” As Michael turned to do as he was told, Asher asked the rest of the guys if any of them knew if there was an ice machine nearby. Luckily, one of them did and he ran off to get some ice to apply to Philip’s knee.
Within minutes someone from Piperton’s medical staff was racing in to exam Philip’s injury. Even with Philip insisting that they didn’t need to call for an ambulance, the medic insisted it was the club’s policy, so the old guy relented. He was loaded into a wheelchair and rolled to the lobby to wait for the ambulance.
Slowly the rest of the group started to disperse. There was playful speculation about what the outcome of today’s game might have been. They joked around now that the game was called to a halt, but it was obvious these guys were serious about winning. Losing wasn’t an option.
Michael collected his belongings before telling the remaining guys that he would call them later in the week to verify if next Sunday’s game is still on.
“Of course we’re still on!” Matthew playfully joked, “We just need to find a replacement for the geriatric bottom feeder--”
“I object!” One of the other lawyers twisted his hand towel and snapped it at Matt’s leg, stinging him with a loud crack.
“Ouch,” Matthew glared at the guy.
While the other men finished gathering their belongings, Asher followed Michael into the hallway. When he turned left instead of heading in the direction of the main lobby, a rush of nervousness flooded his veins. Michael casually strolled towards the locker room. It made sense. They were both soaked with sweat, but Asher struggled to keep his body from responding to thoughts of Michael standing naked in the shower only a few feet away.
Just as they reached the door, it swung open and Jonesie came rushing out of the locker room. If Asher hadn’t seen him a few minutes ago in the gym, he would have sworn that Jonesie was a completely different man. He looked dashing, wearing expensive dress pants with a polo shirt and leather shoes. The smell of clean soap clung to his skin as he approached them in the hallway.
“Good call, Waters, bringing your boy here.” Jonesie quickly winked at Asher when Michael turned his head, smiling at his new friend. “Make sure he comes back next week. I want to get a chance to play with him longer next time.”
Asher could feel the redness creeping up his face. Jonesie was skirting a fine line between outing both of them or keeping their sexuality on the down low, fortunately, Michael was oblivious to Jonesie’s insinuation as he smiled at Asher and said, “We’ll all get a chance to play with him soon enough.” Michael had no idea of the implications of his innocent words.
Laughter echoed through the hallway as Jonesie pushed past them. “Oh Michael, I really hope you’re right.” Raising a dark eyebrow as Michael and Asher stepped through the locker room door, Jonesie called over his shoulder and added, “You two keep it clean in there,” before he disappeared down the hallway.
What do you think? Is it a date ....or is it not? I hope you like getting to know Michael a little more. Let me know what you think, is he still a douchebag or are you starting to like him? LOL I'm overwhelmed by all of the readers responses to this story.
A huge "Thank you" to everyone who reads / comments / reviews.