This one takes a while to build so be patient with it and it will reward you in the end. A special thank you to Bill who looked it over and checked that all was well
“Ah, Andy, come on in,” Trev, my team leader said when I knocked on the open door of his office. I went on in and sat in the chair next to his desk. “I wanted to speak to you away from the others. This new system we’re implementing, I’ve been looking through the budget and there’s quite a bit allocated for training. Most of it will be on-site but we need someone to become our in-house expert and, as you’ve pretty much taken the lead on this one, I thought that, as a reward, you should get first dibs.”
“That sounds interesting. What’s involved,” I asked.
“Well, I’ve looked at the list of what they offer on their web site and they have a week long course called CMDB for Administrators. That sounds like just the thing to set you up as our in house guru. Their training facility is based in Slough but you can’t have everything. They’ve got one starting in July. Now how are your personal commitments?”
We had a bit of a laugh about my spending a week in Slough but, for all its reputation, I’ve been there and it’s really just another town so if the company want to send me there for a week’s training then that’s fine by me. As for my personal commitments, well, I wasn’t going to let anything come in the way of an opportunity like this so whatever suited them, suited me.
And so, to cut a long story short, two months later, I arrived at the Regency Hotel and Conference Centre, one of those big complexes complete with a health club which was a stone’s throw from where the training was to be held. I’d been booked in there because it was the hotel recommended in the blurb the training people had sent me. It was a pretty posh place but the firm were paying so I didn’t mind.
I found a place for my car in the underground car park, took my bag out of the back and made my way up towards reception. It was quite a long walk which took me through the health club part of the complex. The walkway had windows right the way along one side through which you could the look in at the handful of people working away on impressive selection of gym hardware; treadmills, weights, rowing machines, the works. They also had quite a reasonable swimming pool which was empty except for one man swimming a very presentable butterfly. While I watched he got to the end of the pool and pulled himself out, water streaming from his body. Although he wasn’t exactly Arnie Schwarzenegger he was obviously no stranger to the gym and he looked pretty fit. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t check out his Speedos and, yes, the bulge there was pretty impressive as well.
And then he saw me looking and gave me a wave. I hadn’t even realised that I had stopped to watch him so, slightly embarrassed at staring at him like that, I smiled back before hurrying on to reception.
After I had unpacked I went back down to the bar. My room was at the lower end of the range provided by the hotel and, while it was clean and comfortable, it wasn’t the nicest place just to hang out. Anyway, the Arsenal match was on the telly and it’s more fun to watch in the bar rather than stuck on your own in the room. I bought myself a pint of gassy, overpriced lager and looked around for a suitable place to park myself. I found a sofa facing the TV which, along with two armchairs, was grouped around a table. I put my pint down on the table and sat back. Sorted! I’m there for the duration. However, the match is well under way when I hear someone asking “excuse me, may I sit here?”
I look up and it’s the guy from the swimming pool. He’s holding a pint and looking around for a place to watch the match. By now the bar is quite crowded and, as both the armchairs at my table are still empty, it would have been churlish to refuse. Anyway, it’s nice to have company.
Well, for once, Arsenal weren’t playing so badly and they did credit to themselves. Moreover, it was a cracker of a match to watch and I was pretty buzzed afterwards.
“So, are you a big Arsenal fan?” the guy from the pool asks when the match was over and the TV had moved on to cricket from the West Indies.
“No, I support Blackpool but they’re only Championship League which means they don’t get on the telly very often,” I replied with a wry grin.
“Ah, but they had a pretty good season in the Premier League last year. I was sorry to see them relegated.”
And that was it. It turned out that, like me, he was pretty big on footie and, once we got chatting, there was no stopping us. I don’t think I have ever hit it off so quickly with anyone. He told me his name was Lars and he was from Aarhus in Denmark and that he was over in Britain for a meeting of top managers from the international company he worked for. Despite being Danish he spoke perfect English and his knowledge of the Premier league was spot on. He was quite a bit older than me, I would guess that he must have been in his forties, but he didn’t come across like my dad or anything like that. After a while he got up and bought me a second pint, and, later on, Beylikdüzü escort he stood up on his way to getting a third.
“But I should buy this round,” I protested.
“Nonsense! I’m on expenses. I’ll put this down under entertaining clients. Anyway, a Blackpool supporter needs all the help he can get. Now, another Carlsburg, wasn’t it? Although, believe me, the Carlsburg you get here is nowhere near as good as it is back home.”
I watched him make his way to the bar. To tell the truth, I’d been watching him ever since he had sat down. There was something about him; on the surface he was smart and well presented, but looking at him it was easy to see that Viking blood ran in his veins. I could picture him at the helm of a longship just as easily as I could picture him behind a desk.
When he came back from the bar instead of returning to his armchair he sat on the sofa next to me. I shoved up to give him some room. Having him so close made me a little uneasy but, as I was drinking his beer, I didn’t say anything.
“So,” he said, as we supped our pints together, “do you like swimming?”
“Err… yes, a bit. Why do you ask?”
“I saw you watching me in the pool. I like to swim. It is good for the heart.”
“I guess it must be. You’re certainly very fit.”
“I like to keep fit. It’s important to keep fit. Tomorrow we must swim together, then we can keep fit together.”
“I’d like to but… but I didn’t bring any swimming trunks,” I replied with a sense of relief that I had got out of that one.
“But you must swim! It is important. How else will you stay fit for football,” he insisted and, as he did so, he put his hand on my knee.
Having his hand on my knee put me into a complete tailspin. Part of me wanted to scream ‘get your hands off me’ but another part… another part was completely confused over how I felt. The bar, by now, was all but empty and the sofa was placed in such a way that the staff wouldn’t notice but that was the least of my concerns. If having him sit next to me was disturbing then this was doubly so. Maybe this sort of intimacy was normal in Denmark but it certainly wasn’t where I come from. It was as if… as if… as if he were making a pass at me. I looked at him and he smiled back.
“I’m… I’m more of a watcher than a player,” I stuttered.
“Oh, I think you could be a player as well. My hand,” he glanced down at my knee, “it seems to bother you?”
“It does a bit,” I admitted
“Then I shall move it.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
But, although he removed his hand he still sat close to me on the sofa and, as we continued to sup our beer and chat I began to get used to having him so close. There was an intimacy between us, just the two of us sitting there while the barman polished glasses behind the bar. We may have only just met but, already, there was a familiarity, one where it was quite OK for us to sit this close together. More than that, I had the strangest feeling that, somehow, I wanted to snuggle up to him. It must have been a combination of the tiredness and the beer because I can’t think where else it came from.
When I came to the end of the third pint I made my excuses and said that it was time for me to go to bed. Lars agreed and together we walked to the lifts. I was only going to the fourth floor but Lars, of course, had a room on the eighteenth, right at the top, where the executive suites are.
“It’s a nice room, you should come and see it,” Lars said, half joking. Wondering just how big was the half that was not joking, I just smiled until I was saved by the lift arriving at my floor. The lift doors opened and Lars reached for the button that holds the doors open.
“Goodnight, Lars, thanks for the drink,” I said but, as I made to leave the lift her reached out with his free hand, pulled me into him and kissed me, hard. For a moment I was too stunned to move and, as he was much stronger than me, I couldn’t move much anyway. His mouth clamped over mine and I could feel his tongue probing. I didn’t know how to react, I didn’t know what to do, but then panic overtook me, I twisted away from him and dashed out of the lift and down the corridor. The last thing I heard was his shout of ‘swimming tomorrow, don’t forget’ following behind me.
I locked the room door behind me and lay down on the bed. He’d kissed me! How dare he! I’d never, ever had anything like that done to me before. It had been…, it had been…, I couldn’t find the words to describe how it had been but, more than anything else, it had been a bit frightening. For that moment I had been overwhelmed I had felt powerless, unable to stop him from doing whatever he wanted. The suave, sophisticated, civilised man I had been talking to had shown his inner Viking, a Viking that took without asking, that took because he could.
Rationally, I knew I should have been angry and maybe even a little bit repulsed. I mean, he’s a guy, isn’t he, and, judging from what I’d seen climbing out of the swimming pool, he was very much a guy. Now I’m not some sort of Neanderthal who thinks that gay sex is wicked or dirty Beylikdüzü escort or any such nonsense but I’m straight, straight as they come, and gay sex doesn’t turn me on, does it? What’s more, the way he had forced himself upon me, kissing me without a by-your-leave, that was half way to rape, wasn’t it?
But why then was my heart pounding and my pulse racing? Why, when I had been so outraged, had I done so little about it? Why hadn’t I shouted or made a fuss? Why had my one response be to run away? And why then was a huge chunk of me wondering what would have happened if I hadn’t run away. Why couldn’t I stop wondering what would have happened if I had stayed and surrendered to the kiss?
But, with three pints of lager inside me all these questions ran too deep so I stumbled to the bathroom and did my ablutions in preparation for bed.
That night I had the strangest dream. It centred on the statue of the little mermaid, you know, the one in Copenhagen harbour, but, when I looked closely, although the body was undoubtedly feminine, the face was mine. I was stuck, immobile and immovable, stuck to the rock, unable to escape, when, erupting from the sea came Lars, looking just like a Viking.
With a start I woke up. It would seem that Lars had really got to me.
Then next morning I didn’t see Lars in the dining room for breakfast and, feeling like I had dodged a bullet I left for the training course.
Unless you’re into Configuration Management there was precious little in the course to get excited about but I found it interesting and useful. Come five o’clock I’m arriving back at the hotel and making my way back to my room. But when I got there the red light on the phone was flashing which indicated that I had a message. I dialled zero and spoke to the operator.
“Ah, yes, Mr Wilson, room four seven nine. We have a package for you down in reception. Would you like to collect it or shall I arrange for someone to bring it up?”
“A package?” I queried. “I’m not expecting a package.
“The label is quite clear. I believe it was dropped off at reception earlier today. I can have it sent up in no time, if you would like.”
“Err, yes, yes please,” I replied.
Five minutes later there’s a knock on the door and, when I open it, there’s one of the hotel staff holding a parcel wrapped in brown paper. It undoubtedly has my name and room number on it so, by now, I’m completely confused. I give them a couple of quid and take the parcel into the room. I open it up and there, inside… well, I’m not surprised any more. It’s a pair of Speedos. I open them up and a note falls out.
Swimming Pool 18:00 – Lars
I looked at the Speedos. They were gorgeous, but then they would be, they’re Speedos. I couldn’t help but wonder what, by accepting them I saying ‘yes’ to? Were they even the right size? Well, there was an easy answer to that one. I slipped off my trousers and boxers and tried the Speedos on. They were perfect. Snug without being tight and, although I’m not the biggest fan of my body, they made the most of what I had. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to go down and do a few lengths of the pool. After all, now that I’d tried them on, it would seem a shame not to use them. As for the cost, well, maybe he felt he owed me after that kiss last night, maybe these were his way of saying sorry.
So, the long and the short of it was that, come six o’clock, I was down at the pool and there he was as well.
“Ah, perfect, they fit,” he said as he came over. He looked me up and down and seemed to like what he saw. “I knew they were right for you. The colour, it matches your eyes.”
“Err… thank you,” I replied. I wasn’t at all sure about this but I could, at least be polite. What’s more, to be fair, while he was checking me out I was looking him over and, yes, I was checking out the bulge in his Speedos.
“So, who will be the fastest over ten lengths,” he asked with a smile. “Come on, I’ll race you.”
And, with that, he dived in. I followed. It was completely obvious to both of us that I hadn’t got a chance but he must have slowed down so as not to embarrass me because we were pretty much neck and neck until the last length. Then he really pulled ahead so that, when I got to the end of the length, he was already sitting on the side of the pool. I rested my arms on the side and just hung there, half in and half out of the water, gasping for breath. He, on the other hand, was barely breathing heavily.
“Not bad, but I think we must put in much more work to get you ready for football,” he joked. “Even so, I think we have done enough for one day. Come, let us go and find somewhere to eat. The hotel restaurant is not good but I think I saw an interesting Indian place just a short drive away. Do you like Indian food?”
“Indian food? Yes, that sounds fine,” I replied. I wasn’t planning on going out to eat but, as I was fast discovering, when Lars took control he made all the decisions. Anyway, I didn’t mind the idea of going out for a curry.
He helped me out of the water and, together, we made our way to the locker rooms. Here the showers were Escort Beylikdüzü semi-open and, inevitably, we ended up stood completely naked and next to each other. Lars was completely unselfconscious about this and, as I didn’t want to come across as some sort prude, I had to pretend I was completely OK with this as well.
Now that the trunks were off I couldn’t help but have a good look. Lars wasn’t stiff or anything but, even so, it was plain that he was handsomely endowed. And then he caught me looking.
“Do you like what you see?” he asked with a laugh. “Go on, have a good look. Don’t be shy, I don’t mind.”
I turned away, blushing like crazy. I hadn’t been looking like that, really I hadn’t but I could see why he might have thought that I was. That just made him laugh some more.
Once we had got dressed we agreed to just drop our wet trunks back in our rooms and meet up, almost immediately so as to go out to eat. We took his hire car which was a pretty smart BMW and he drove maybe a couple of miles to a parade of shops. One of these was an Indian restaurant but it could not have been more different to the ones I usually went to. The food, reflecting the high number of immigrants in the area, was completely authentic and, naturally, it was served in an authentic manner. No chicken tikka marsala here. We were shown to a table and the waitress brought us a couple of pints of Cobra and some poppadoms as we checked out the menu.
And, as we gorged ourselves on the rich, spicy food, and washed it down with Indian lager, I realised how much fun I was having. The food was great, the atmosphere was fantastic and Lars, Lars was just the best company ever. We laughed and we joked and we talked and we talked and I just wanted the evening to go on forever. Of course it couldn’t and, eventually, we had to make our way back to the hotel. Lars explained that, as he had to drive back to the hotel, he was limiting himself to just the one pint whereas, if we went to the hotel bar, he could drink without worrying. We paid the bill. No, make that he paid the bill. He wouldn’t even let me see how much it was. And then he led me out of the restaurant and we drove back to the hotel.
When we got there the bar was quiet and, after we had bought our drinks, Lars led me over to a corner where we could sit without being disturbed. If the restaurant had been noisy and fun then this was cozy and intimate. I wasn’t in the least surprised when Lars sat down on one of the sofas and patted the seat next to him indicating that we should sit together. Now we could really talk. We weren’t laughing and joking as we had been in the restaurant, it was closer, I felt a real connection. I felt as if I could talk to Lars about anything and he would listen. He wouldn’t judge, he wouldn’t condescend, he wouldn’t think any the less of me.
In the end the bar staff wanted to close down for the night and, as it was getting late, it was time to make our way to our rooms. Once again we made our way to the lifts together, once again we got in together, once again we rode to the fourth floor and, when the door opened, I turned towards it and said “goodnight, Lars.”
“Goodnight, Andy,” he replied. “Shall we swim again tomorrow?”
“Yes, yes, I’d like that.”
“Until six o’clock, then. Goodnight.”
And then nothing. He just stood there. I was waiting, waiting to be kissed and… and nothing. I felt like a right pillock. We’d said our goodnights and now, here I was, just standing around waiting for nothing.
“Goodnight, Lars,” I repeated and then, after one more little pause, I left. I stormed down the corridor and into the room and just stopped myself from slamming the door behind me like some sort of petulant child. Where’s my kiss, you bastard! Where’s my kiss?
And then I caught myself. I was angry, fuming, because he hadn’t kissed me. How crazy was that! Hadn’t I been angry the previous night because he had kissed me? It was just that the swimming, followed by the meal followed by our time in the bar had seemed like it was all leading up to a kiss, a kiss I might, or might not, have responded to. But why was I, a straight guy, getting all worked up about a guy not kissing me? Surely I didn’t want him to.
With a rare flash of insight I realised what it was all about. I wanted Lars to want to kiss me and then I wanted the power to choose, the power to say yes, or no, as appropriate. Of course this posed the question as to whether or not saying anything other than ‘no’ would ever have been appropriate. Surely a straight guy like myself would never say yes, would never agree to being kissed by another guy.
But that ignored the memory of the thrill it had given me. If I were honest with myself then I was also angry because I had been deprived of the illicit excitement that yesterday’s kiss had left me with. Because he had forced himself upon me I was absolved of responsibility and could avoid the question of whether I wanted it or not. The damn guy was doing my head in. I didn’t know what I wanted or didn’t want any more, whether I wanted to be kissed or didn’t want to be kissed. And, if I did want to be kissed then, what did that imply? What else might I want to be ‘forced upon me’? I thought quite seriously of not going swimming with him again but knew that, whatever my reservations, that, come six the following evening, I would end up down at the pool.