Monday, July 19, 2010

Lust in London excerpts by S.L. Danielson

Lust in London...young Alex has barely been out of Kansas, much less go across the pond to London. He goes there to attend class and meet two other roommates. He also meets a charming businessman named Mason who sweeps him off his feet. Trouble is, there's a lot of baggage with Alex's first boyfriend; and some of his own too! Will their relationship last or be remembered as just lust in London?

Lust In London
S.L. Danielson February 10, 2010)
ASIN: B003980HIA

Excerpt 1

The duo fought their way through the crowd to the exit. Outside had become a bit more populated. Alex looked up at his companion and tried to decipher his body language. He decided to just take a wild guess. “Would you like to take a walk?”
Mason grinned. “That’d be great. Get us away from the smoke and the crowd.”

The two strode forth on their journey in tandem. They walked away from the club scene and into the London night. The weather was agreeable, not chilly and not hot. They walked for 20 minutes before the crowd and loud music was a mere whisper in the distance. Alex looked around at where they’d wandered and stopped in his tracks. He’d been so intently engaged in conversation. Mason stopped and looked back. “What is it, Alex?”
“I-I don’t recognize these buildings.” Alex said with a note of fear in his voice. “How far have we walked?” His mind began to conjure every paranoid predicament possible. What was he doing out here with a man he hardly knew, in a part of town he’d never been to. It sent his pulse soaring yet again.
Mason walked over to him and put a warm hand upon his shoulder. “Alex? Hey, relax my friend. We’re not too far from my hotel. I know this district.”
“You do?”
“Yeah, I stay here when I come to London. Downtown is too damn expensive.”
Alex took a sigh of relief and ran his hand through his hair. He felt a wave of relief. They began walking again in tandem until he pieced the sentence together in his mind. Hotel? How was this evening going to end? He slowed his pace and stopped again. “Whoa. Wait a minute, Mason. Why are we going to your hotel? What do you expect from me? I just met you two hours ago!”
Mason rolled his eyes, and walked back again. “Alex, relax. You’re so high strung!”
“Maybe I am! Maybe this whole thing is just some ploy to get me in bed with you. I barely know you!”
Mason ran his hand over his face and sighed. He looked into his companion’s eyes for a moment and walked over to him. He rested his strong hands onto Alex’s slight shoulders.
“Relax, ok? As awesome as that’d be, I know you’re not exactly ready. Okay?”
Alex smiled in relief. “Thank you. That’s all I ask. So, what were we going to do?”
Mason grinned and looked down at his shorter companion. “I thought we’d get a drink or maybe even dessert? This hotel has the best key lime pie. I mean the best! It even beats my mother’s recipe.”
Alex exhaled at last and nearly laughed with relief. Pie? That was it? How much more homespun could one get? He felt as if a weight were released from his chest.
Mason grinned. “See, nothing sinister. There’s even an all-night cabbie who can take you back at whatever time you want.”
Alex tried to smile but also felt badly for having assumed the worst. He was so new to all of this his greenness may be skewing his judgment. This was a simple meeting and a simple dessert date, nothing more.
“I love pie.” He finally answered. His tone was more upbeat.
“Let’s hurry, they run out pretty quick.” The two strode side-by-side. At times, their hands almost touched.

As a mirage’s sudden appearance in the desert, the hotel came seemingly from nowhere. It was a Hilton, a famous name. Its lights were dim on this cloudy night. London’s notorious fog moved in already. All 12 floors were cast in the shadows that enveloped it in a cloak of darkness. Alex caught a glimpse of his watch while passing under a streetlamp. It was 10:30 pm. He’d decided to throw caution to the wind and stay out as long as he could. Britain itself was mesmerizing, now tripled with the introduction of Mason.

The duo entered the hotel and seated themselves at the counter of the café. Alex glanced around. The style was oddly retro American. There were the jukeboxes on every table, a soda fountain, even the help was in candy-colored uniforms. It was bright against the darkness of the outside. The counter seats were all empty. There were perhaps four other patrons present, all tucked into the red metallic booths. He was thankful it was quiet and mostly private.
They had been seated for only a moment when a slim, red-haired waitress named Calliope came their way. She seemed to match the linoleum counter in her bright green uniform dress.
“Hiya! What can I getcha, sugar?” She snapped her gum and smiled.
Mason glanced over at his new friend and the two shared a look. “We’d like two slices of key lime pie and I’d like coffee. Alex?”
“Uh, yeah, coffee for me too, thanks.” He smiled back at the pretty waitress as she winked at them and put her order pad away.
“You two are lucky. That’s my last two slices. Coming right up, darlins.” The accent was distinctively southern. Mason and Alex shared a laugh over the lovely young lady. She seemed so out-of-place, yet fit right in. She was a college student they guessed, working her way through school. Perhaps her family wanted a change and came across the pond. Whatever her story was, they were glad she was there. She represented a piece of America in the heart of London.

Within moments, their coffee mugs were filled and their conversation began again. Not a minute later, the pie arrived. Alex wanted to dive right in, but thought it rude while trying to talk. They simply took a moment to savor the dessert.
“Damn, this is good pie! How’d you find this place?”
Mason grinned. “See, told ya! Now you’ll have to trust my judgment.”
Alex laughed to himself. He wondered just what Mason meant, but let it go for the time being. “Yeah, I guess so. Well, once I’ve known you longer.” Alex blurted out.
Mason nodded and took another bite of pie. Within five minutes, the dessert was gone. “Compliments to the chef!” Mason announced aloud.
Alex cringed a bit, he was drawing attention. He took his companion’s arm and pulled him back. “Dude, I think they heard you.” Alex tried not to hide his face.
Mason scowled. “Hey, if I like something, I let ‘em know it. Sorry if it embarrasses you.”
Alex recoiled a bit from the tone. He opened his mouth to speak, but again the words escaped him. He watched Mason sip his coffee and look over his shoulder out the windows. Alex shut his eyes for a moment and let out a breath. “Mason?”
“Let’s not do this whole misunderstanding thing again, alright?”
Mason’s expression went from angry to amused. He fumbled for his coffee cup and took a nervous sip. “Let’s talk about something else.”
Alex nodded in agreement. “So, what’s your last name?”
“Adams. It’s pretty common where I come from. I was born in Richmond, and my favorite food is Italian.” He paused and took a sip of coffee. “I went to the University of Virginia and graduated with honors just four years ago.”
Alex raised an impressed brow. “That’s a really hard thing to do! How’d you do it?”
Mason grinned. “It’s called not having much of a life.” The two laughed together. It was a genuine laugh, not nervous or forced at all. “I stayed and pursued a Masters degree too, so I have an MBA.”
Alex raised a brow again and toasted with his drink. “That’s great! I’m a big advocate for education. So, uh, what do you do with all that learning? I mean, what brings you to England?”
Mason laughed. “My job. I’m in sales. They ship us all over the damn globe. I got lucky enough to land the UK. I really like it here. Sometimes, there’s a nice bonus to it.” Mason raised his cup and winked at his companion.
Alex felt his pulse rise and his face blush. He turned away, a bit embarrassed by the attention.
Mason smiled.
Such perfect teeth he had. Alex couldn’t help but wonder if they were real or those fancy implants. Either way, it didn’t matter. Here was this hot guy whose attention he’d garnered. He didn’t intend on letting it go.
Mason gently tapped Alex’s knee. “Your turn. What’s your story?”
“Well, my last name is Winthrop. There’s only a few in our area. I was born in Salina, Kansas, and my favorite food is Mexican.” Alex paused and asked for a refill on his coffee. “I just graduated college, now I’m going into law school.” Mason sat up, impressed. “That’s awesome! Not to mention law school to boot? Good job! You must be your parent’s pride and joy.”
Alex tried to hide his delighted smile and shrugged. “Eh, I guess so. I knew what I wanted to be when I was a little kid. I used to hold court in my room.”
Mason chuckled. “What’s your win record?”
Alex felt a wave of cockiness. “Oh, I’m undefeated. Perry Mason of Salina.”
The two laughed together again. “Hey, like your outfit. Tried to go with the clean cut look, eh?”
Alex looked himself over. His shirt was wrinkled due to the humidity. “Well, I did look nice, earlier. Running into all those men ya know…” they chuckled lightly. “I couldn’t tell you were a salesman at all. You look like an artist, or a poet.” Mason smiled widely. “A poet, huh? Maybe do some stand up and recite my “Ode to Alex?” both men laughed.

They scooted as close as they could without falling off the stools. Alex happened to glance at the clock, it was midnight. He needed to get back to his rooming house.
“Shit! I gotta get home. I have class tomorrow!”
Mason cocked his head. “Damn.” he said in a very disappointed tone.
“Listen, why don’t we do this again tomorrow night?” Mason brightened. His posture visibly straightened and his mood cleared. “Yeah! I’d like that. You obviously know where I’m staying. Here’s the number…” Mason fumbled for a pen. “Damn, no pockets!”
Calliope saw and came over to assist. “Whatcha need, sugar?”
Mason laughed. “Can I borrow your pen?” Calliope smiled wide and looked the pair over with her huge green eyes.
“Why sure, honey. I hope it works out for you two.”
Mason quickly grabbed a napkin and scrawled the phone number and his room number. He handed the napkin to Alex and the pen back to Calliope. “Thank you. So do I.” With a wink and a loud snap of her gum, Calliope took the pen back and walked away. Mason turned back toward Alex. “Call me tomorrow; we’ll decide where to go.”
“I will.” Alex stood up to leave, pleased that Mason was following him to the lobby. Alex grinned to himself. “Thank you, Mason. I had a great time.” He looked behind him and saw that the man hadn’t left his side. Alex smiled to himself. “Walking me out?”
“Well, we mustn’t let anything happen to you.” Mason quipped. Their eyes met for a moment.
Suddenly, the loud sound of the cab’s horn startled both men. Alex had fought every bit of lust that swelled inside of him and tempered it with his logic. As much as he wanted to jump Mason right then and there, he didn’t want to appear desperate. He did the most conservative thing he could thing of. He took Mason’s hand and shook it firmly.
“Thank you again, Mason. I had a great time.”
Mason looked quite disappointed but at least seemed to understand. He held onto the hand for a moment. “Good night, Alex. I’ll call you tomorrow afternoon.” They parted ways and Alex climbed into the cab. It was a clean cab, the first he’d seen in a while.
“Driver, #8 Ivy Way.”
“#8 Ivy way, got it.” The driver echoed. He put the car into gear. Alex sat back and waved goodbye to Mason as they drove away.

Excerpt 2

The food had been wonderful and the chatting nearly incessant. The irony of the evening was their waitress was the same, sweet southern girl Calliope. Alex had barely taken his eyes off Mason all evening. He’d never felt this way before, about anyone. He wasn’t even certain what to feel, he’d have to analyze it, but not overanalyze it, as he often did. Mason found the young man highly alluring and considered his bashfulness very sexy. Alex noted the man’s attentive gaze and loved feeling those blue eyes being on him. He loved just being in this man’s company, hearing his voice, sniffing his faded cologne, trying to mentally undress him. Mason noted his boyfriend’s quizzical mode and questioned him about it. Alex smiled and bowed his head in embarrassment Alex had to shake himself back to reality when Mason repeated the question.
“Alex? Earth to Alex.”
“Hmm? Sorry, just enjoying the view.” They moved in closer and kissed softly a few times, in full view of the diner staff and patrons. A few snickered, one gasped. Mostly though, people smiled. They could tell this was a happy couple. Mason’s hand had cautiously lay to rest on Alex’s knee and slowly worked its way to mid-thigh. Alex thought for sure he would’ve jumped, but he didn’t. He welcomed the touch of the man’s large, warm hand.
Mason leaned forward and whispered to him. “How do you want this evening to end?” Alex felt his mouth go dry and his eyes bulge, as well as his pants. He’d not been prepared for that.
He stammered out a half-answer. “W-What?” he had to clear his throat.
Mason grinned and gathered the bill. He stood up to leave and motioned for Alex to join him. “Come on, it’s late.” Indeed it was, nearly midnight, the same time their first date had ended. Alex followed his date to the lobby and they stood alone in the tiled foyer. Mason cupped Alex’s chin and angled his face up to meet his. They kissed again, and Alex felt his arms wanting to explore a bit more of Mason’s anatomy. He brushed his hands quickly over his boyfriend’s fit backside, and loved what he felt. Mason was very firm and taut. Alex could only dream of what hid beneath those clothes. Mason grinned and deepened his kisses. He was not as inhibited as Alex. He quickly yet firmly cupped Alex’s small derriere in his hands and gave it a firm squeeze. Alex wanted to yelp, but found he couldn’t! He was enjoying it far too much. He decided to be a bit bolder with Mason as well, and repeated the motion. They were groping each other in this dark hotel lobby at midnight. Kiss me more and more Mason. Don’t stop! I’m not some kid anymore. I want this guy! I want to go with him! Everything in him told him he wanted to be involved with Mason.
They finally came up for air and Mason ran his fingers through Alex’s sweaty, spiked locks. “I didn’t startle you, did I?”
“No. Not at all.”
Mason’s fingers danced up and down Alex’s arms. “Come upstairs with me.”
The young man felt breathless and his throat ran dry again. He’d wondered about this moment all his young life, when the first offer would come. “Mas…”
“Alex, I want you. I’ve been thinking about you all day.”
Alex smiled to himself. Was it love? Lust? Curiosity? Whatever it was, he felt the urgent need to go with Mason. Still, his logical side battled back. “I…”
“I’ve seen the way you look at me. You want me too.”
Alex couldn’t deny that one. He felt safe and secure that all would be well. No sirens were going off in either his mind or his gut. It was the telltale sign of contentment. “Can we talk upstairs? Just talk?”
Mason grinned and pushed the button for the elevator, which opened right away. “Of course, come.”
Alex backed away suddenly. “Oh, man. I hate elevators! I think they’re like moving coffins.”
Mason took Alex’s hands. “It’s cool. I’ll keep you safe.”
Alex licked his dry lips as he stepped into the cab and took in a breath. Mason’s hand was firmly in his, and he formed a white-knuckle grip around it as they rode to their destination.

Alex finally let out his breath once they’d reached the 6th floor. He’d always been terrified of getting caught in the elevator, but admitted he wouldn’t mind at all being caught with Mason in one. They walked quickly to Mason’s room, #675. It was all the way at the end of the hallway, which was good and bad. Good so he could spend more time with Mason and bad because it was a long run to escape to the elevator. Alex barely felt the time pass as he still felt like he was sleepwalking. This was not a dream, however. It was all very real. He was finally going to end his reign as the only virgin in the house!
Mason pulled his keycard out from his wallet and unlocked the door. The door opened slowly and Mason stepped inside and flipped on the lights.

“Nice room! Where’s the bathroom?”
Mason pointed straight ahead. “Right over there.”
Alex rushed over and shut the door. He answered nature’s call and washed his hands. He looked in the mirror and saw how flushed his face was. He filled the sink with cool water and splashed it on his hot face. A knock at the door startled him.
“Alex? You fall in or something?”
“I’m fine. I’m done.”
Alex finally surfaced; he saw Mason was right there. The room had changed. The lights were dimmer and Mason was missing his tie. His crisp, white shirt was unbuttoned down to the third button; showing the tantalizing chest that lay beneath. “Join me for a drink?” Alex let out a breath. “I suppose. Thanks.”
They toasted each other silently and drank their beers. Alex glanced at the clock, it was already past midnight. He backed away from his host. “I…gotta go. I have school tomorrow.” Mason frowned. “Going so soon? You haven’t finished your beer.”
“Uh…you can have it. Good 'ol Budweiser.”
Mason pursed his lips. “Alex, do I scare you?”
Alex’s eyes grew wide. His nerves had gotten the best of him. “What? No. Not at all.” He lied. “It’s just time for me to go home.”
“The school is closer to here. Why not spend the night?” Mason moved in closer again. Alex felt his weak argument nearly wither away with every glance at the man. Mason kissed him softly.
Alex held on tightly, but forced himself away. “I…don’t have my notes.”
Mason put his hands around Alex’s small neck and massaged the supple skin. “I’d wake you up early. Just stay a while longer, Alex?”
“Mason…I don’t wanna go…” He pulled away from his companion again.
“Then don’t. Come on, just another hour.”
“I’m kinda tired actually, that nap didn’t help.”
Mason looked away and dropped his arms to his sides. “Fine, I wish you’d reconsider, but I respect your decision. Good night, Alex.”
He saw the disappointment in Mason’s eyes and fought for a better way to end this night. “You’re not pissed off, are you? I had a great time, Mason! I did!”
Mason shook his head and looked into his eyes. “Just tell me one thing, is what we did in the lobby, was that real?” he asked sternly.
“Yes! Of course it was! I’m just not ready yet. I want to, but I can’t get it all to come together.”
Mason took Alex in his arms. “I know what you need. You need a good teacher.”
“I’m sure that’s it. Look, I know you’ll be an excellent one; just, not tonight.”
Mason sighed and let the young man leave his arms again. He pouted a bit and watched Alex walk towards the door. “I’ll call you tomorrow then. We’ll meet for a drink.”
“Sounds good. You’re not mad are you?”
“No. Disappointed a bit to be honest, but I understand.” He walked up and kissed Alex deeply. “Just don’t make me wait too long. Your body is more ready than you think it is.” Alex fought the urge to begin another tactile exploratory of his boyfriend’s body. “Trust me; you’ll be the second one to know. Good night, Mason.”

Alex bolted down the hallway and down the stairwell. He sat on the bottom stair and tried to collect his thoughts. Alex had inexplicably tamed his passions so far. He didn’t want to rush anything. Still, the nagging sensation of lust pulled at him every time he looked into Mason’s blue eyes. They’d follow the eyes down to the slender nose and full lips and out to the crowning glory of thick, curly blond hair that came past his broad shoulders.
Mason was physically ideal, so what was the problem? Is it too soon? 2nd date? Was he too young? Hardly. Too scared? Possibly. Alex hadn’t allowed himself to fantasize much about sex. “Dammit! Me and my stupid timeline! What the hell’s the matter with me? I won’t lose that awesome guy!” He entertained the notion of going back upstairs and surprising Mason. He could ditch class and they’d spend the day together. No, no, no. It was all too soon. The moment had been ruined; it was too late to recapture it. Alex picked himself up and walked home.

Excerpt 3

Another month passed. It was coming near the end of Alex’s time in London with a scant four weeks left to go. His class would be wrapping up soon and any touristy places he wanted to visit, he put at the top of his priority list. This held his attention for the daytime hours. The nighttime was another matter entirely. All that consumed his thoughts during the long, dark hours was Mason being in his arms, either kissing him or sleeping. He’d often find himself awakening with a doused pair of underwear on; his thoughts had become so realistic. Almost every night a dream taunted his subconscious of having the blond man in his midst. This was becoming a bit much. He would get up countless times a night to check his email and cell phone to see if there was any communication from his beloved at all. Alex wondered if he had stepped into the curious world of obsession. He certainly showed all the symptoms. Even his wallpaper on his laptop pc was a large photo of Mason that he kept on his screen constantly. Alex would stare at it endlessly and then at his cell phone; waiting for any communication at all. Had he stepped into this dark realm? What were his true feelings? Was it all just lust or puppy love? Was it true or only perceived feelings that he was experiencing? Did he really think they could keep up this long-distance relationship? Don’t those always fail? According to his thorough research; yes, they usually do. He was determined for it to not end; but to continue well into his lifetime. He knew it was his first relationship and that he should be careful; but everything about Mason intoxicated him. His appearance, his smell, his body, his kisses, even his voice, left him begging for more. Alex watched the calendar and counted the days religiously. The day that Mason was to arrive he awoke very early. He showered, dressed, and ate. He sat on the edge of his seat in the living area downstairs; his cell phone never out of reach.

The phone rang; catching Alex off guard. He yelped as he pushed the proper button to receive the call; ignoring what number it even was.
“Hello, Alex! How are you?”
Alex smiled widely. “I’m wonderful! Ready to come to the house?” There was a long pause.
Mason finally spoke again. “Uh, Alex, I hate to tell you this. The company pulled my trip off of their itinerary; the party I was meeting was called off.”
Alex almost dropped the phone. He tried to speak, but his voice temporarily abandoned him. Mason spoke again. “I’m so sorry, hon, if it were up to me I’d be right there at this moment kissing you like mad!”
Alex found his voice again and gathered his emotions. He fought tears and clenched his free hand into a fist and leapt from the sofa in an outrage. “This sucks! This really does. I’ve been expecting you! I’ve been on pins and needles all week, awaiting your arrival. They’re not just screwing with you, it’s me too! I hate your damn company!”
“Alex, calm down! I’m sorry! What would you have me do? Come over anyway? Listen, I can’t simply jet off to London on a moments notice! It’s damn expensive and the company wouldn’t pay for it! Besides, I have responsibilities here. I don’t have mom and dad to help me with my finances; I’m a grown man!”
Alex nearly flung the phone across the room. He put the phone down for a moment and held his fist to his mouth, fighting an angry scream. After a long moment, he finally got a hold of himself again and picked up the phone. “Fine, whatever, you’re right. Why would I expect you to just drop everything to come and see me? I’m only some stupid kid you met in a bar and fucked his brains out…” Alex ended with a growl.
Mason sighed. “You know that isn’t why. If I could get there I would, but it’s out of my hands! I’m sorry, Alex!”
Alex felt his face grow hotter both from the phone’s heat and his own temper. Light tears finally battled their way through his brown eyes. “Maybe you need to get used to your hands! We need to just take this as a break. This long-distance thing is not going to work out.”
Mason fell silent for a moment.
Alex held his breath in the tense moment. He reseated himself on the very edge of the sofa.
“I don’t want to stop seeing you. If you do, then it’s your decision, not mine. I care for you and want to be with you.”
“Then get your fuckin ass over here!”
“I can’t! I just told you I can’t! Will you listen to me? Even if I could borrow the money somehow; I couldn’t just take off from work without any notice. That is a very long plane ride from here. Let’s be reasonable, Alex. Please.”
Alex cleared his face and took a few deep breaths. His logical side was trying to take over again. He had to analyze everything. It was beginning to sink in with every moment that passed. Finally, after a very long minute-and-a-half pause; Alex spoke again. “Mas?”
“I leave here in four weeks.”
“I know. I think we’ll have better luck once you’re home.”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. Dammit, I hate this whole situation, but I have to agree with you. We’ll wait until we’re home. Shit, you sure you still want to date someone so young and naïve?”
“Relax. You’ll survive. You’re a tough lil Kansas man. Bye for now, Alex.”
“Bye, Mason.” Alex hung up. “Dammit, Mason, I love you so much. Why can’t either one of us say it? Unless…stop. Stop thinking that way!” Alex shook his head and leaned back on the chair.
The door opened, it was Paolo. Alex dried off his face quickly and turned on the television.
“Paolo.” The two said coldly to each other.
“Thought your boyfriend was coming into town.”
Alex shot his roommate a look, and replied. “His trip got cancelled at the last minute. I won’t see him again until we get home.”
“Oh, introducing him to mommy and daddy, are we? They don’t even know that you’re gay! How are they gonna handle that?”
Alex scowled and leered at his friend. “Look, pal. My parents are none of your business. Come to think of it, none of this is your business, so back off!” He pushed Paolo’s shoulder. The Spaniard didn’t push back.
“You naïve kid, I bet you’re gonna hole up in your room now for the rest of the trip, just you and your hand!”
“You shut the fuck up! I won’t be alone like you!” Alex screamed. He pushed Paolo again and bolted past him to his room upstairs.

The final four weeks were spent studying and being a homebody. Alex’s roommate Jake left a week early. He’d found a nice Swedish girl that he wanted to pursue further. Paolo, whom hadn’t spoken to him in weeks, finally broke down and suggested a truce. They chatted over dinner.
“Dude, we gotta end this. I’m sorry I yelled at you, Alex. I had no right.”
“Hey, you had every right! I was raving on and on about him and here you are, alone. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that.”
Paolo shrugged. “That’s cool. At least you got some time alone. Has he called you?”
“Oh yeah, every other day, I can’t wait to see him again. That way I can keep an eye on him at home. I’m gonna ask him to move in with me!”
Paolo nearly dropped his fork and slapped his hand on his forehead. “You made that up, right? Are you insane?”
Alex scowled. “Yeah, why not? Seize the day! I’m in love with that dude! I know he is with me.”
“Oh really, has he ever told you that?”
Alex averted his eyes and cleared his throat. “Uh, well no, not exactly.”
“You don’t even know? How can you plan a future if you have no idea how he feels about you?”
“Hey, guys aren’t the best at letting their feelings be known! Don’t you know that?” Paolo shook his head. “Don’t be an ass again! I know how men are, you bet I do! I know my cousin is dying from AIDS from one of those men! I have a good friend that got mixed up with the wrong guy and did all kinds of drugs. He overdosed on one of their ‘dates’. Yeah, I know how guys are. Guys are horrible!”
“Is that why you never have a date? You stay away from all men?” Alex asked wryly.
Alex laughed. “Well, I’m sure there’s a nice place in the monastery for you. The rest of us will be out there wondering whatever happened to the soccer player.”
Paolo clenched his fists and stood up, towering over the table. “Is that all I am to you, the soccer player? Maybe the chef too? Wow, you have a low opinion of people, don’t you? You love the ones who don’t love you and…”
Alex suddenly looked up and swore he saw Paolo’s eyes water. He leaned forward. “And what?”
Paolo held up his hands in a “time-out” symbol and leaned over the table. He reached for his napkin and wiped off his mouth. He shoved his chair under the table violently, shaking the table. “You know what? Never mind. I’ve said too much. I hope you end up happy while you can. You think you know everything. Later, Alex.” He bolted up to his room.
Alex got up quickly and ran to the stairs. “Paolo get back down here! Paolo!” He heard the door slam shut. He threw his napkin on the floor and kicked the staircase. “Dammit. Fine! Be that way!”

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