Marcie gave a grin at the tousled-haired, platinum blond who rubbed at sky-blue eyes that normally held at least some vague sparkle, but that presently simply reflected bone-weariness.
“I hate nights,” came from behind hands which hid a face of delicate bone-structure and beauty most women would be envy.
“I know, Layton, but you’ll get in the swing of sleep by day soon.” She allowed sympathy to colour her voice.
None of the attractive Registrar’s patients ever saw the young man this way. To them he was always bright and chatty, cheering most with a few minutes attention over and above the necessary health check. She laughed as Layton’s nose wrinkled appreciatively at the smell of coffee, certain he visibly perked at just the aroma of caffeine.
“Here you go, Doctors.” A warm, soft voice heralded the arrival of the steaming brew.
“You lifesaver, thanks,” Layton said, sliding his hands around the mug, seemingly impervious to its heat. He leant over and inhaled deeply. Even the smell seemed to make him feel a little more vibrant. He sipped at the ambrosia in the mug.
Marcie noticed the smile from the cleaner as Layton’s antics were watched with amusement.
“So…any hot dates lined up?” Marcie asked. “Got plans for Valentine’s Day?”
“No and no,” Layton said, his voice holding a tinge of sadness. “It’ll be the first one in two years that I’ll be without Blake.”
“Blake thought more of spending a year or so in Australia than he did of staying with you, Layton. He’s been gone three months now. Do you even hear from him?”
“He e-mailed me to say he’d arrived safely, but nothing since. I sent a couple of messages, but he didn’t answer. I thought I meant more. We had almost three years together.”
“You want to settle, he wanted to travel. It’s sad, but it happens, Lay,” Marcie said softly. “You have to let it go and move on. There are some very nice guys here, once you get to know them. You’ve not been here that long.”
“Long enough for a few of those ‘nice guys’ to proposition me,” Layton huffed. “The ones I’ve been chatted up by seem just interested in a quick romp. I’m not a kid any more. I’m not interested in bed-hopping.” He ran his hand through the platinum-blond hair, making himself look boyish in direct contradiction to his words.
“You breeze round the wards like a breath of fresh air,” Marcie grinned. “All blond hair and blue eyes. You just need someone to look beneath the surface. See the ‘real’ you. I think half the hospital, irrespective of marital status or sexual preferences are in love with you,” she teased.
“In lust more like,” Layton grinned back, trying to regain his usually irrepressible sense of humour. “Even an original chat-up line would be appreciated,” he added.
“Any other standing orders?” Marcie joked. “Height, hair colour? Maybe we should create Layton’s ideal man.”
“It’s not what’s outside that counts,” Layton laughed. “Tall, dark and handsome or short, blond and bookish, it’s the person inside that’s important.”
“You’re as entitled as anybody else to find the right one for you, Lay,” Marcie said, patting Layton’s hand. She glanced at her watch and grimaced. “Up and at ’em, Dr Jones. Your adoring public await.” She went to pick up the mugs, but a soft voice stopped her.
“I’ll take care of those, Doctors,” the cleaner smiled.
“Thanks, man,” Layton smiled, adding a careless wave as he left the staff room. Marcie followed and added her own thanks.
“You’re welcome,” the cleaner nodded, as they vanished from sight.
Two nights later, a sealed flower box was waiting on the staff room table, ornately wrapped and with a hand-written card in copper-plate addressed to Layton. He elbowed jokingly at Marcie who was crowding at his shoulder to see. The box contained two individual flowers and another hand-written card.
“‘My first is in rose and also in thorn. My second is in iris but not in eye’. A puzzle,” Layton enthused
“How exciting,” Marcie exclaimed. “Any idea who it could be from?” Her question came as two mugs of steaming coffee arrived.
“There is a Consultant who’s been chatty today,” Layton mused. “But I’m fairly certain he’s straight … and married,” he added thoughtfully, sipping at the pungent drink. “There’s also that tall, dark House Officer, but he doesn’t strike me as the romantic type. He seems to undress me with his eyes whenever he sees me.”
The banter was traded back and forth without any conclusion being reached. However, the sparkle was back full-force in Layton’s eyes and he gave the cleaner a cheery wave as he resumed his duties.
The next night saw more of the same; an ornately decorated flower box, sealed and waiting for Layton’s eager hands was on the table.
“‘My third is in carnation, but not in button-hole. My fourth is in orchid but not in flower’.” Layton gave Marcie a blinding grin.
“Any ideas yet?” Marcie demanded, admiring the two beautiful flowers.
“Nope, but you wouldn’t believe it; I’ve been asked out twice,” Layton laughed.
“That’s because the other doctors…and nurses… are taking more notice of bright and beautiful Layton,” Marcie laughed. “So what’s your plan?”
“I fully intend to unravel the mystery,” Layton said, picking up the drink that simply appeared in front of his hands. “It’s the very least I can do given the imagination and effort this person’s gone into. It’s the most unique request for a date I’ve ever had.” His smile lit up the room.
“‘My fifth is in daffodil and also in Wales. My sixth is in aster but not in bloom’. There can’t be many more letters now,” Layton enthused.
“So where’s the pansy then?” A loud, brash voice grated on both Layton and Marcie’s ears.
Layton immediately closed over his box, tucking the card away safely for further consideration and picked up his drink.
“Milk, two sugars for mine,” the brash voice continued. Its owner, a dark-haired, well-built but running-to-fat, male flopped next to Marcie and leered at her.
“What do you want, William?” Marcie asked, exasperation evident in her voice. “You don’t normally hang out here.”
“I heard that Blondie here was getting pretty flowers. Some big mystery over who’s sending them. I just came to look at the pansy,”
His leer made Layton shudder internally as the blond sought not to let the other man visibly disconcert him.
“I don’t remember discussing it with you,” Layton replied through gritted teeth. “Quite frankly it’s none of your business.”
William took a sip of his coffee, made a sound of disgust and surged to his feet, his excess flesh vibrating in his anger.
“I said ‘two sugars’, you cretin,” he bellowed at the hapless cleaner, who turned, eyes wide at the uncalled-for fury.
“Leave him alone, William,” Layton said defensively. “It’s not his job to make us drinks and not his fault if he misheard you.”
“You take in waifs and strays, too?” William growled menacingly.
Layton was suddenly acutely aware of the man standing just behind him, a steadying hand, unseen, in the small of his back. It made him feel oddly protected, even though he was the one challenging William.
“Just drop it, William. It’s time we resumed our rounds anyway.”
Layton kept himself between the bulk of the angry man and the cleaner at his shoulder. Once William had gone, Layton turned to face the other man. For a moment, he was tongue-tied. This close he could appreciate the thick, sandy-blond hair and drown in the sea-green eyes. He felt his heartbeat accelerate and a pink flush stained his cheeks.
“I’m really sorry about that. It was totally uncalled for. We’re not all such…such…”
“Egotistic, pompous, bigoted arseholes?” the cleaner offered as words failed Layton.
For a moment, Layton just stared then he and Marcie simultaneously burst into gales of laughter.
“I couldn’t have put it better myself,” Marcie snickered as she wiped away a tear.
“It happens.” The cleaner shrugged. “You just don’t let it get to you.”
“I hope we’ve shown you a little more consideration than that … that…”
“Arsehole,” giggled Marcie.
“You’re a couple of the best,” the cleaner said, smiling.
Layton found himself fascinated by the dimple that appeared on the cleaner’s left cheek.
“Come on, Layton,” Marcie urged. “We have to go.”
“”K,” Layton agreed, picking up his box. “Thank you, Rik,” he added, noting the name-badge of the other man.
“Welcome,” Rik nodded as the two doctors left.
“‘My seventh is in daisy, but not in chain. My whole is in the bouquet I gave to you. Use the flowers to provide the clue. Be mine, Valentine?’ It’s completed now.” Layton crowed, as he read out the last clues to the identity of his mystery admirer.
“All you have to do is work out the name and who they are,” Marcie grinned. “There’re still a couple of days till Valentine’s.”
“I know. I intend to make good use of them,” Layton said, brandishing his box like the trophy it was.
“Thanks for the coffee, Rik,” Layton shouted as he hurried from the room. He was certain he had worked out the name correctly, but he would need to speak to one of the HR advisors to be sure. Then he needed to give his reply. He rubbed his hands with anticipation.
Marcie was fairly vibrating with unconcealed curiosity. Layton’s demeanour suggested the blond knew who had sent the flowers and riddle, but he had given her no hints as to who it would be. A half-dozen doctors and a couple of nurses and physiotherapists ran through her mind.
“Well what?” Layton asked, his face as innocent as an angel’s, but his eyes glinting with mischief.
“Who’s the mystery man?” Marcie demanded. “I *know* you know,” she groaned, picking up her drink.
Layton sat back without touching his. He turned to watch the cleaner return to the sink.
“Thanks, Richard,” he said huskily, praying he was correct.
Rik stopped and then turned slowly. His eyes held myriad emotions; hope, defiance, anxiety, affection.
“Congratulations, Doc,” he gave a small smile, not sure now he had been uncovered just what he was going to do. //Oh, God, what of he says no?// The thought was like a dagger in his heart and he continued to stare at the small blond. Beautiful, intelligent and compassionate — who could ask for more?
“Did you mean it, Rik?” Layton asked. “To be yours?”
Rik heard the uncertainty in the voice and realised that the same thoughts of rejection could be in Layton’s mind.
“I meant it. If you want it,” he added.
As they had spoken, Layton had stood taking a few faltering steps towards the older blond. Realising this, Rik took the next couple necessary and then they both moved as one. Layton moulded himself against the broader body as one of Rik’s hands cupped the back of his head, the other gripping possessively at the small of his back. Their lips brushed tentatively against each other and then their mouth opened. Rik’s tongue slid into Layton’s warm, wet cavern and leisurely ravished the shyer muscle before sucking it into his own mouth. It was only the necessity to breathe that forced the older man to relinquish the younger, keeping their foreheads together so they seemed to share breath.
“I’ll be outside, guys,” Marcie said, fanning her hand in front of her face, but neither man really noticed.
“Next move is yours, Doc,” Rik husked.
“Layton. My name is Layton, not anything else when we’re alone.”
“No?” Rik gave a slow smile. “Not…lover?” He nipped a luscious earlobe. “Not … beautiful?” He nuzzled at Layton’s neck as the smaller tipped his head back to offer easier access. “Not … mine?” The last was barely more than a growl as he possessed the perfect, pouty lips once more.
Layton felt himself melt in Rik’s arms. The man’s sinful rasp, the words he spoke, and the touches to his body… he was ready to go up in flames. He forced himself to move and look into Rik’s lust-glazed eyes.
“No more, please,” he begged. “I have to see patients. You want to go out for Valentine’s Day? I’ll be finished nights and have a couple of days off.”
“Restaurants just up the prices for Valentine’s. Come to my house. I’ll rustle something up. If you’d like, you can stay over,” he rumbled against Layton’s throat, sending pleasurable vibrations throughout Layton’s slender frame.
“Oh yeah, I’d like that.”
The meal was an array of food that stunned Layton. Fresh oysters to start, figs wrapped in Parma ham, lamb cooked in a honeyed sauce and strawberries they dipped in chocolate and hand-fed each other. Now they were swaying to soft music, a half-consumed bottle of Champagne nearby.
“You know I’m not looking for casual, don’t you?” Layton whispered, as Rik returned from a brief detour upstairs.
“Neither am I,” Rik replied. “I would never have bothered if I thought you just wanted a tumble. I’m in for the long-haul. Are you?”
“Yes,” Layton husked.
Rik walked up to him and put his arms around him, Layton whimpered as Rik’s hands wandered down his back to his ass and then pulled him close so that Layton could feel Rik’s arousal pressed insistently against his own.
“Rik,” he moaned softly, needily, unable to stop from rubbing his groin against his lover’s.
Rik groaned and captured Layton’s lips in a soul searing kiss.
Layton’s arms came up and wrapped around Rik’s neck, as he opened his mouth to deepen the kiss. He moaned again as Rik’s tongue snaked into his mouth. Still kissing and holding onto each other tightly, they began to manoeuvre themselves up the stairs.
Rik sat on the bed and lay down, pulling Layton on top of him, wrapping his fingers in the younger man’s white-blond hair. They rocked against each other gently, Layton’s hands wandering over Rik’s chest. Then he broke the kiss and pulled away slightly.
“Too many clothes, I want to see you,” Layton purred.
Rik groaned and sat up, “I want to see you too,” he replied.
They got up off the bed and slowly stripped, each watching the other intently. Layton stared avariciously as a well-defined, smooth body was revealed to his eyes. Unknowingly he licked his lips as Rik’s erection appeared from his boxers. Layton felt suddenly shy in the face of such masculine beauty and slowed down, looking away.
Layton was finally naked. He heard a gasp and looked up to see an expression he’d never seen from anyone before, not even Blake. Rik was looking at him with love, lust and wonder.
“Oh God,” whispered Rik.”You’re so beautiful.”
Before he could say or do anything in reply, Layton found himself in Rik’s arms.
“I love you,” the older man said seriously, Layton blinked and his mouth opened and closed in an effort to reply. Unable to find the words, he wrapped his arms around Rik’s neck and pulled him into a passionate kiss, trying to convey his feelings without the need for clumsy words
Rik enclosed him in a tight embrace and then effortlessly lifted him and carried him to the bed. Rik covered Layton’s body, settling over him. He propped himself on his elbows and slid his fingers into his lover’s sleek, satin-like hair, dipping his head to steal soft kisses as he and Layton began to rock, their erections pressing together. Sweat and pre-come eased their movements as they shared more and more passionate kisses.
Rik was in heaven, the taste of Layton’s mouth and skin, the feel of skin and hair, the intoxicating scent of arousal, the sight of Layton, thrashing, losing himself in pleasure and the sounds of panting breaths, soft moans and whimpers. He wanted more, needed more and lowered himself down Layton’s body. He tasted every inch of skin, pausing to suckle perfect, pink nipples into diamond-hard points and to dip into Layton’s navel. He breathed in deeply, nuzzling Layton’s sac, before licking the length of his shaft.
Layton writhed and groaned, he’d never felt like this before, he knew Rik was what he had been waiting for all his life.
“Oh, Rik,” Layton cried. There was another bottle of Champagne, open and waiting. Rik took a mouthful and went down on his helpless lover. Hands and mouth, fingers and tongue, he kept taking Layton to the brink of orgasm and stopping and then he would start all over again.
By the time Rik began the fourth round, Layton was incoherent and writhing with need. The incisive mind reduced to chanting single syllables, body incapable of anything other than helpless responses to Rik’s touches. Exactly where Rik wanted him. He licked the last of the champagne from Layton’s shaft. He began to murmur hotly into Layton’s ear while rolling his lover’s heavy sac and fingering the sweat-slick perineum.
“You’re so beautiful, so gorgeous. Gonna make you mine, baby, gonna make you feel so good.”
“Oh Rik!” Layton wailed as Rik once more engulfed his erection, gently sucking and licking. He instinctively felt Layton’s orgasm coming and he relaxed his throat, taking Layton’s full length as the smaller man jerked under him with a sweet cry of completion. Rik swallowed repeatedly and then with one last lick, he released Layton and crawled back up his body to kiss him gently.
Layton could taste himself in Rik’s mouth and moaned wantonly. He spread his legs, so that Rik sank down against him, and pulled his knees back.
“Oh, baby,” whispered Rik. He reached into the bedside table and pulled out some lube as Layton smiled shyly.
Slicking up his fingers, Rik carefully probed and stretched Layton, the smaller man, pushing down on his fingers. He was tight, but Rik seemed instinctively to find all of the sensitive spots. Soon Layton was panting; his shaft already half hard again. Finally Rik coated his gloved, rock-hard erection with the lube and began to push into his lover. White heat surrounded Rik’s aching arousal, the tightness almost crushing in its intensity.
Finally he was fully inside and he panted softly trying not to come too soon and to allow Layton to adjust. Layton was fully hard again, his length pressing into Rik’s belly. He started to move his hips and Rik took the hint, starting to thrust with slow, shallow movements.
“Please,” Layton whispered.
Rik sped up, pulling out almost completely before plunging back in, rubbing his stomach against the sensitive underside of Layton’s trapped flesh.
Layton was moaning continually, his hands gripping tightly to Rik’s shoulders with bruising strength. His movements became erratic, as the intensity of the experience overwhelmed him.
As Layton’s muscles began to contract around him, Rik bucked, thrusting harder and faster. With a roar he exploded, pumping his seed into the condom, deep inside his lover. His lips and teeth fastening on the fragile flesh of Layton’s shoulder leaving a mark to show his possession.
Layton cried out again, the bite the final catalyst and he shuddered against Rik as he coated their stomachs from his second orgasm, his shaft untouched by either man.
Rik collapsed on top of him, both men panting for breath. As soon as he could move, he pulled gently out of Layton, rapidly disposed of the condom and rolled to the side, pulling the smaller man with him into a tight hug.
“I love you, Rik,” whispered Layton, certain he never wanted to be in another’s arms.
Rik smiled and kissed him softly.
“You’re mine, Valentine,” he murmured.