I finally let Jeremy have his way and we took an Uber to our next destination. I was impressed by the service’s ease of use and visibility, and it did come out quite a bit cheaper than a regular London Cab. And because payment and tip was all done online, there was none of the usual fumbling for cash and paying the driver before leaving the car at your destination.
After we bid our friendly driver, Franco, goodbye, Jeremy took my hand and pulled me along behind him. There were so many people milling about Trafalgar Square on a Saturday afternoon that nobody really paid us any attention so I didn’t feel self-conscious. I enjoyed the feeling of Jeremy’s warm fingers wrapped around mine as we made our way into this most famous of London landmarks.
“There’s the statue of Nelson,” Jeremy pointed out as we gazed around us in the bright sunshine. “And the lions.”
“Very cool,” I replied, a grin splitting my face as the fact that we were in central London England on a holiday together blew me away once again. Thank goodness Jeremy had gotten me back for my stupid behaviour on the flight over and we were on even ground again. My ass was still a little sore from my earlier punishment but all it did was remind me how much fun we had when we were honest and open with each other.
Instinctively, I took my camera from its bag and lined up some shots. There were people everywhere – kids, adults, seniors – all smiling and enjoying the fine weather. I took several shots of the crowds and zeroed in on a few individuals that caught my attention. Then I told Jeremy I wanted a shot of him in front of one of the lions.
“Sure,” he said, making his way to the base of the stone platform on which perched one of the majestic black creatures so iconic of Trafalgar Square. He waited politely while a young woman had her photo taken by her boyfriend and then took her place. Then he leaned up against the stone, crossed his ankles and stuffed his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket.
As I lined up the shot I was again struck by how fucking sexy he was. Dressed in a pair of dark jeans, wearing the brown Blundstone boots I’d got him for his birthday, and rocking a black t-shirt under his brown jacket, he looked incredible. Still so young, the layered brown hair he’d let grow a little longer than usual ruffled in the breeze as he gazed at me out of bold brown eyes. That was my Jeremy for sure. So much braver and bolder than I’d ever be. But he’d got me here, and I wasn’t going to waste this opportunity.
“Perfect,” I said, snapping away while he lounged against the hard rock wall. “You look great!”
He laughed, and I kept shooting. “I always look good when you shoot me, Martin. You have some great skills,” He added, bouncing his eyebrows suggestively.
I nodded. “Well, you know, I do need good material to work with. You never disappoint.”
He grinned and rolled his eyes.
“Okay, now I want you to climb up there,” I said, gesturing at the lion.
He looked up at it, then back at me. “You may have to boost me.”
“Of course,”I said, moving closer. I slung the camera around to my back and laced the fingers of my hands together, making a cradle for his boot. He put a hand on my shoulder and stepped into my hands.
“Ready?” I said.
I boosted him up so he could get a hold of the platform and pull himself the rest of the way up. I tried not to ogle his ass in the tight blue jeans too obviously as he scrambled onto the platform and stood beside the lion.
“Now what?” he asked.
“I don’t know, you’re good there. Just put one hand on the lion’s ass and the other on his mane. And try to look regal.”
“How the fuck am I supposed to look regal?”
“Lift your chin and look down at me like I’m your slave. Pretend the lion’s your pet and you’re just waiting for the right moment to release it on all of us.” I know I sounded ridiculous but that was the look I wanted.
Instead of laughing and telling me to go fuck myself, surprisingly Jeremy did as I’d asked and pulled off a pretty good Roman Slave Master impression. Enough that my finger trembled slightly as I pushed the button on the camera and took the shots.
“That’s great, perfect. Don’t move. Now look over there. Okay. Now look back at me.” I took shot after shot, realizing that a few people were standing near enough to hear.
“That guy is so hot!”
“I’m taking his picture!”
“I think he’s a model. Looks like a professional shoot.”
Then Jeremy took his right hand off the lion’s vast rump and turned slightly sideways, leaning into the animal’s mane, placing his hand against it tenderly and pretending to whisper into its giant ear. I took shot after shot, delighting in his willingness to go along with my suggestion.
“Awe, he’s cuddling it.”
“Too cute. And hot!”
“Janet are you getting it? Take his picture!”
Then Jeremy turned and gave me a look that made my dick as hard as the stone plinth he stood on. He narrowed his eyes and stared fire at me like he wanted to do terrible, nasty things to me while his pet lion waited for his dinner.
As inappropriate as I felt with my jeans tight and a telling bulge showing no doubt, I kept taking the photos, until my breathing became quite heavy and I needed to stop, or I’d throw the camera down and climb up there with him. And we’d be arrested for indecent acts in a public space.
“Okay, that’s good,” I said. Understatement of the year. “Let’s get you down.”
He took my hand and jumped down, smiling at the onlookers, some of whom asked if he was a model and if this was a magazine shoot.
“Yeah, but I’m not on the job right now. We’re just goofing around.” He said, gesturing toward me.
I quirked one side of my lip up. “I can’t help taking pictures of this guy.”
“I can see why!”
I didn’t really mind the attention, and I totally understood it. But I wanted to have Jeremy back to myself, so I took his hand and pulled him away towards the steps that led up to the National Gallery. “Show off,” I teased.
He shrugged his shoulders. “You’re the one showing off right now, Martin.” He glanced pointedly at my crotch. “We’d better get you inside so you can hide that weapon.”
I blushed furiously, glancing down at the noticeable bulge in my jeans and holding my camera over it. “It’s your fault and you know it.”
“I just followed instructions and looked at you.”
“That’s all it takes sometimes.”
We moved quickly up the steps and around the side, where there were even more steps. I was glad Jeremy’s legs were okay but it wasn’t very comfortable climbing that many stairs with a major hard on. Hopefully it would go away soon.
Once inside, I asked for a guide from the lady at the information desk and we followed the crowd up the main stairs to the galleries on Level 2.
“Holy fucking shit.” Jeremy expressed his amazement at the architecture and beauty surrounding him with his usual directness. “I mean, fuck Martin. This place puts our own gallery to shame and it’s a beautiful building.”
As we stared around us at the marble accents and gigantic archways, the polished wood floors and the enormous rooms stretching in all directions, I couldn’t help but agree.
“Quite something, isn’t it?” I reached out and took his hand again, and he turned, meeting my eyes. “Thanks for letting me come with you.”
He smiled. “You mean, to London?”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“Martin, it wouldn’t have been the same without you. I’d probably still be in the hotel room jerking off to your voice on my phone right now.”
I laughed, dropping his hand and shaking my head. “You nut.” I glanced at the people near us but they didn’t seem to have heard him, thank goodness.
“It’s the truth. I’m so glad you came with me. Now let’s go look at some old paintings.”
We spent the following two hours plus touring the Sainsbury Wing, soaking up the visceral and romantic paintings of some of the greatest masters of the Early Renaissance: Botticelli, Titian, and Caravaggio to name a few.
I could tell Jeremy was enjoying himself because his cheeks were flushed, his eyes bright and his exclamations over the paintings were constant and profuse. He kept his voice hushed but I could still hear the adrenaline and excitement, and when he’d grab my shirt sleeve to show me something he’d found, it made my heart sing.
Quieter in my appreciation of the incredible works of art, I tried to absorb it all and also enjoy Jeremy’s enthusiasm for something I wasn’t sure he’d actually be into. He surprised me again, like he always did. Some of his insights into this or that figure or the way the artist had conveyed a theme impressed me greatly and opened my own eyes up to new perceptions of old classics. Perhaps it was the age difference between us, but viewing these paintings with Jeremy was like looking through a new pair of eyes at what I had seen before, though never in such immediate splendour.
My eyes and brain began to fatigue before Jeremy seemed to, although he’d gotten quieter as the time passed and evening began to descend. At about six thirty we found ourselves in a quieter space, many people having left to find a spot for supper.
“Look at this, Martin,” Jeremy said yet again, pulling me over to a large painting in a corner of the huge room we were in. It depicted another religious scene full of larger than life figures and vibrant colour. We were almost alone, now that the earlier crowds had thinned. There were only a couple of older women at the far end of the room.
“It’s magnificent,” I said. Then I turned to look at Jeremy’s profile as he gazed upon it with the awe of a child. “You’re magnificent.”
Jeremy glanced at me, eyes widening at the intensity of my gaze. “Thank you,” he said.
“For bringing me here. I’d never have come if it weren’t for you.”
I glanced over my shoulder quickly, seeing that we were unobserved for the moment, and stepped closer, bringing my hand up to his lightly stubbled cheek. His pupils darkened and before I could do it he’d brought his lips to mine in a soft attack. I opened my mouth under his subdued assault and he pushed his tongue inside, daring me to kiss him back in this public place.
I did dare. I couldn’t fucking help myself. And when the small sounds of a child crying broke through my passion it took some willpower to break away.
I glanced down and saw a boy of about five or six years standing beside a central pillar, sniffling and regarding us with horror and fear.
“It’s okay, we were just…I’m sorry if we scared you,” I stammered, not knowing what to say.
This is why I don’t kiss in public.
Jeremy recovered more quickly. He crouched down and asked the boy the most obvious question in a surprisingly soft and stable voice. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t find my mum!” The little boy cried, seeming oblivious to our PDA and more frightened of his own situation.
“Don’t worry,” Jeremy assured him, “We’ll help you find her. We’re from Canada. Have you heard of Canada?”
The boy nodded. “It’s cold there.”
Jeremy laughed and glanced up at me, probably making sure I was all right. “Sometimes. What’s your name?”
“R-R-Rupert,” the boy said. “I can’t find my mum.”
My heart rate calmed somewhat, I said, “I’ll check the other room. You stay with Rupert.”
He nodded and asked the boy another question.
As soon as I had gone through to the next room I saw who I assumed was Rupert’s mother at the far end, frantically looking around and talking on her cell phone. She looked about thirty with shoulder length wavy black hair and cat’s eye glasses. She was wearing jeans and a long, burgundy sweater over a pretty blouse.
I waved and walked quickly over to her.
“I’ve lost my son,” she said, her voice tinged with panic. “He was here one minute and then — “
“It’s all right, he’s in the next room. My — “ I didn’t know what to call Jeremy in this circumstance so I settled quickly on the most innocuous option. “…friend is calming him down. He’s quite upset.”
“Oh God, so am I! Thank God you found him. I’m bloody losing my mind…”
“Come on,” I led her over and around the corner. She spoke into her phone. “It’s okay, he’s here. Sorry to worry you, David!”
Jeremy was engaged in a deep conversation with Rupert and the child didn’t even notice his mother until she was almost upon him.
“Rupert! Where have you been? I couldn’t find you!” The woman said with substantial relief as the child turned to her and smiled.
“Mum!” He said happily and ran into her arms. “I was watching the men kissing and then I couldn’t see you anymore.”
My heart leapt into my throat and I shared an alarmed look with Jeremy who had straightened up.
“I — I beg your pardon?” The woman asked her son as I closed my eyes and awaited a very public humiliation.
“I’m so sorry,” Jeremy said, in that same calm voice. “I, uh, kissed my boyfriend. I didn’t know there was anyone near us and I never would have kissed him in front of —“
“They’re from Canada!” Rupert told his mother who, luckily had yet to stand and berate us for our indiscretion. “They kiss just like you and Daddy do. But it’s so funny because they’re boys. It was nice,” he said, with a smile. “But then I couldn’t see you anywhere and I got upset.”
“Well, I’m here now, sweetheart, and everything’s just fine,” the woman said, glancing at me and giving me a reassuring smile. Now I wanted to kiss her.
“This is Jeremy and he was telling me all about Canada and how they eat beavertails there.”
“Not the tails of actual beavers, though,” Jeremy added. “It’s kind of like a donut that looks like a beaver tail.”
“But donuts are round!” Rupert said like he was the definitive authority on all things donut.
“Not in Canada, maybe,” the woman said, smoothing her hand over Rupert’s brown hair and taking his hand before standing up.
“We have round donuts in Canada. Don’t worry,” Jeremy assured the boy who did seem quite relieved.
“Thank you so much for looking after him,” Rupert’s mother said with a wide smile and an offered hand to Jeremy. “I’m Abby.”
Jeremy shook her hand. “Glad to meet you.” He touched my shoulder. “This is my boyfriend, Martin. Well, my fiancé actually.”
Way to push your luck.
But Abby smiled and offered her hand to me. “It’s lovely to meet you, Martin.”
“What’s a foncy?” Rupert asked.
We all looked down at him. Abby was the first to speak. “It means that Jeremy and Martin are going to get married soon.”
I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I didn’t even realize I’d been holding my breath until I let it out in a rush.
“Like you and Daddy. That’s why they were kissing.”
Abby smiled up at us. “Yes, just like Mummy and Daddy.”
“I guess they must love each other then,” Rupert added.
Abby laughed – a rich deep sound full of warmth. “Of course they do. That’s why people get married.”
I cleared my throat. I didn’t know what to say.
So far it had been Jeremy doing the talking but I genuinely liked Abby and Rupert and I felt I should say something. “Thank you,” I told her, trying to convey with my gaze just how grateful I was. “For explaining it to him so simply.”
Abby shrugged. “As far as I’m concerned, it is that simple. You know, we Brits pride ourselves on our liberal views.”
“I thought you were all staunch traditionalists,” Jeremy said with a grin.
Abby snorted. “Well, I’m certainly not. Nor any of my friends. I attended a gay wedding just last summer, I’ll have you know.” She puffed out her chest in mock defiance.
“I want to get ice cream,” Rupert spoke up suddenly. “Or maybe donuts. Can we, mummy?”
Abbey adjusted her purse and frowned. “We need to go home and see Daddy, though. He’s making supper and we don’t want to ruin our meal by eating donuts.”
“Can we get some for dessert?”
Rupert’s eyes lit up. “Thanks for finding my mum,” he said to me and then turned to Jeremy. “And thanks for telling me about Canada.”
“Anytime,” Jeremy replied, obviously charmed.
“You should come over to my house and I can show you my LEGOs.”
“I’d love to.”
Abby pulled out her phone again. “Do you mind if I take your phone number, Jeremy? We’d love to have you and Martin for tea…”
Jeremy shrugged. “Sure.” He glanced my way. “We’d love that. We don’t know very many people in London.”
Rupert smiled wide. “You know me and mum now!”
“Yes, we do. Thank goodness,” Jeremy affected relief and Rupert’s smile got wider.
Jeremy gave Abby his phone number which she added to her contacts. She put her phone away and thanked us again.
As they walked away, she turned and gave us a heartfelt grin. “It really was lovely to meet you!”
“Thank you,” I said, gazing after her, still in a mild state of shock. That entire situation could have gone in a completely different direction.
Jeremy and I stood in silence for several moments.
“Are you sorry?” he said finally, gaging my expression.
“That I kissed you?”
I stared at Jeremy and shook my head. “No.”
“You looked like you were going to have a heart attack when you saw the kid.”
I nodded. “Yeah, well I thought he was traumatized by our obvious passion.”
Jeremy laughed. “Nah. Kids are tougher than they look. Plus they don’t get the subtext at that age.”
“Thank God,” I said. “There was quite a bit of subtext to that kiss.”
Jeremy raised his eyebrows, moving closer. “Oh yeah? And what was the subtext exactly, Martin?”
“I’ll explain back at the hotel.”
The jet lag had caught up with me again and all I wanted was to be with Jeremy in our luxurious suite.
“Oh, and Martin?” Jeremy said from his lounging position in the big King bed in our room.
“Can you get me a chocolate bar?”
“I don’t care. They probably have different ones here anyway. Something with nuts.”
I’d told Jeremy I was going to get a coke from the machine down the hall. We were trying to stay awake until eleven or so, but it was only nine-thirty and we’d already had sex and afterwards a bite to eat at Nightingales, the hotel restaurant.
Jeremy was looking at his phone and I was just trying to stay awake.
“I know you’re a big fan of nuts,” I said.
I slipped out the door and walked down the hall to the machine. There were the usual soft drinks, along with some unique, British ones. Though sorely tempted by the Tango Cherry drink, I really needed the dedicated caffeine of a coke at the moment. I got one for Jeremy too and then perused the snacks in the other machine. There were a lot of strange options, as well as some familiar ones. I ended up getting a few for Jeremy – a Starbar, a Double Decker, and a Caramac. Then a Yorkie bar for myself. When in Rome, right? It seemed a fairly simple way to step out of our comfort zones.
When I got back to the room, Jeremy was sitting up straighter and grinning down at his phone like a fucking lunatic.
I threw the chocolate bars onto his lap and put his coke on the bedside table, opening mine and taking a sip. “What’s up?”
“We’re getting all the love,” he replied and held out his phone.
There was the selfie he’d taken of us at the Indian restaurant, and over it he’d posted:
I said YES! We’re getting married in London!
There were 59 reactions – Likes, Loves, and Wows.
“Jesus. News travels fast.”
Jeremy laughed. “I can’t keep up with all the comments.”
“All of them good, I hope?”
He blinked at me. “What did you expect?”
“Well, at least one along the lines of, ‘Really? You’re tying yourself down to that old guy?’”
Jeremy raised his eyebrows. “You’re not old, Martin. And I’d gladly let you tie me down any day of the week.”
And now I was hard again. How did he do that? I guess if I could get rock hard in an instant from a few words out of Jeremy’s mouth, I couldn’t be that old.
“I didn’t realize you had so many Facebook friends. Fifty-nine reactions? It’s like putting it up on a billboard or something.”
“Well, why not?” Jeremy said. “I want to shout it to the world. I’m marrying Martin Fucking Lewis!”
I grinned, blushing. “How did you know I’d changed my middle name?”
Jeremy picked up one of the chocolate bars. “A Starbar?”
“For my Star boy.”
“Have you told anyone?”
“About getting married?”
“I talked to Frankie, remember?”
“Yeah, but she saw it on my Facebook.”
That was true. I hadn’t told anyone yet. I didn’t use social media the way Jeremy did and I hadn’t really had the chance to phone anyone. Plus, I only had a few close friends and they could really wait until we got back to find out.
“Well, I haven’t posted about it if that’s what you mean.”
“How come?” He stared at me curiously. “Aren’t you excited?”
I sat on the bed beside him, putting my coke down and unwrapping my Yorkie bar. “Jeremy, of course I’m excited. I’m fucking ecstatic. It was my idea to do it here, and not wait until we got home.”
He nodded. “Okay. And you don’t care that I’ve told the world?”
I arched a brow. “Other than the fact it made Frankie lose her shit and call me overseas, no. I think it’s cute.” I said, kissing him on the nose. “I’m glad you’re this excited. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.”
Jeremy smiled. “Yeah, that’s ‘cause you are. Don’t forget it.”
I laughed, taking a bite of chocolate. “Never.”
“I mean it about letting you tie me down whenever, and wherever, you fucking want to.” He told me, eyes blazing.
“Jesus Christ, Jeremy.”
I answered his burning look with my own. “I don’t think I could go to sleep if I wanted to. And I don’t want to anymore. But we don’t have anything to use for that…purpose.”
Jeremy rose up onto his knees, letting the bedcovers, chocolate bars and his phone slide off his lap, so he was face to face with me. “Oh, I’m sure we can think of something.”
There was a knock at the door. We looked over.
What the fuck?
A male voice with a British accent said, “I have a delivery for a Mr. Lewis and Mr. Trask?”
I got up and walked over to the door after exchanging a confused look with Jeremy. Standing in the hall with a huge cellophane-wrapped basket was a man dressed in the hotel’s standard uniform.
“I’m Mr. Lewis,” I said, taking the basket from the man. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Sir. Enjoy your stay.”
I shut the door, carrying the gift basket over to the bed.
“I should have known,” I said wryly, placing it down and taking the card from where it was taped to the cellophane. “Three guesses as to who this is from.”
“Fuck, I love your sister!” Jeremy said, peering at the basket’s contents. “Martin, there’s champagne and chocolate in here. Lots of chocolate!”
I held up the card and read it out to him.
To Martin and Jeremy on your second night in London. CONGRATULATIONS on your impending nuptials! I wish I could be there. You’d better take lots and lots of pictures! Love Frankie and Simon.
I sat down beside the huge basket. “This must have cost a bloody fortune.”
“Look at you, using the colloquial language. And, yeah, it must have. It’s so sweet of them.” Jeremy said, gazing at me with something besides gratitude in his eyes. “But now we have a big decision to make.”
He nodded. “Do we want to enjoy this now, or do you want to tie me to the bed and fuck me?”
All the blood left my face and hightailed it to my groin. “I — I — ”