“Feast or famine in this place, isn’t it?” Tristan sighed heavily. He wore his boredom as if he wondered how dare the universe not entertain him, and lounged as much as anyone could on a barstool. He was like a cat in that respect. He could stretch and bend to get comfortable—at least, Jared assumed he was comfortable—anywhere he damn well pleased. Right now, his arm seemed like the only solid piece of his body, his elbow on the bar and his hand against his face, holding up his head as the rest of him poured over the edge of the bar, onto the seat, and down the stool leg to where the toe of his boot touched the floor.
Jared wasn’t quite so comfortable. It was hard to relax when the wallet in the back pocket of his tight leather trousers was getting close to empty. Looking out at Market Garden’s mostly vacant lounge, where each of the few potential johns were already under the spells of at least one or two other rentboys, he said, “Does it get like this a lot in December?” It had been for two weeks. Almost three now.
Tristan shrugged. “Sometimes. Economy and all that.” He sighed again and waved his hand. “Apparently people think it’s a good idea to buy food before renting a cock or an arse for the evening.”
Jared would’ve laughed at the comment—so very typically Tristan—but it was hard to find the humour when he was in possession of a cock and an arse that desperately needed renting. After all, he needed to buy food. Never mind Christmas presents. And probably a new fridge.
“Relax.” Tristan smoothed a few long strands of ink-black hair out of his own face. “Payday’s coming up for most of them. They’ll be back.”
Question is, will they be back before rent’s due?
“Everything changes with bonus season. Guys’ll have money to burn, and they’ll celebrate not getting laid off before Christmas by getting laid.” Tristan’s boneless figure solidified one liquid joint at a time, and he sat up, rolling his shoulders under his slick, black shirt. “Well, as long as there’s some booths that aren’t occupied, we should go sit someplace more comfortable.”
Jared hesitated. “W-we?”
Tristan paused. “You don’t want to?”
“I didn’t say that. I just—” Didn’t think you’d . . . I mean, guys like you don’t usually . . . I’m me, and you’re you, and . . . Jared shook himself to life. “Sure. Yeah.”
Tristan gave him a puzzled look, but didn’t say anything and started across the lounge.
Jared picked up his drink. It was nonalcoholic, of course, since employees weren’t allowed anything else on the job. The rule was enforced too. There were a few guys who’d thought giving Raoul, the head bartender, a free blowjob would result in him breaking the rules and spiking their orange juices with vodka or the Coke with rum, but rumour had it all they got was a belly full of cum and, worst-case scenario, a swift and permanent dismissal from Market Garden.
Jared stood and followed his catlike colleague across the lounge, which was more crowded with tables and chairs than with anyone occupying them. Well, maybe tonight wasn’t all bad. He might not get paid, but it also didn’t cost him anything to look Tristan up and down as he walked. Tight leather, lithe body, slinking gait; God, it was no wonder he was in such high demand. Most of the time, anyway. Higher demand than a lot of the guys here, Jared included, but lower than food, heating, and mobile phones.
Jared reminded himself he just hadn’t been here long enough to be in demand like Tristan. He’d worked for Market Garden for about six months, ever since post-exam boredom had led him to search for more excitement than he’d found stripping on the weekends, which he’d done since his second semester of university. This was more enjoyable and much more profitable, so he’d stuck with it even after classes had started again.
He never imagined he’d ever be a rentboy. Might be something to leave off the CV, but he’d deal with that if there were any jobs available at all when he graduated. For now, he enjoyed it, especially with that thick wad of quid he had in his back pocket at the end of an evening.
At the end of most evenings. Before the past three weeks or so, anyway.
Part of him still thought a guy paying for sex was somewhat pathetic, even though he now understood that not everybody who did so was too ugly or too creepy to score on the open market, as it were. Some guys just considered it a legitimate shortcut past all the wining and dining or even getting onto Grindr and dealing with people who faked their profile pictures—or total sexual incompatibility even if they hadn’t.
He could get behind that, he supposed, certainly with the income possibilities it opened up, though he was studying bloody hard for his exams and thus had cut back on the work. He didn’t need slow nights like this at all. He was too skint. And his landlord was an arsehole, one of those buy-to-let vampires that kept increasing rents at least every year but consistently failed to get even the most basic repairs done.
Though, it was really hard to think about broken fridges when he watched Tristan walk. Jared just hoped he looked even half as nonchalant when he planted himself down in the booth next to Tristan.
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