The deep, chainsaw growl grated through Jay as though he was being sliced apart. He flipped onto his side, grabbed the crispy white pillow and shoved it over his head.
It didn’t help.
Still the vibrating snorts rumbled through the dark room, shaking the curtains, bouncing off the walls and rattling Jay’s nerves. He checked the clock, cursed under his breath and lay flat on his back. He’d been at this two hours. He only had four hours left to sleep.
He was not going to be on his game.
Grunts, crackled breathing, then a whistled exhaling from the next bed irritated him further. Jay lifted up, glanced over and had a sudden attack to want to commit murder. Or would it be manslaughter?
They’d have no defence if he did that.
So he didn’t. And resigned himself to having to contend with tomorrow’s game against Liverpool on zero shut eye.
Luckily his phone beside him on the table lit up and vibrated against the solid wood. It didn’t quite drown out the other loud drone, but it was a welcome distraction. Scraping the phone toward him, he smiled at the display then hit green.
“All right?” he greeted, not even attempting to lower his voice.
“Did you know there are gay penguins in New York zoo?” Seb’s rushed out information tugged a smile on Jay’s lips and he settled down into the single bed to listen to more. He knew his boyfriend wasn’t finished. He never was. “Two male emperor penguins rescued a discarded egg from some bitch whore of a mother who clearly had a one night stand with Percy, the head honcho of the penguin posse, and decided that would admit shame on her already married status with Pepe, so she kicked it away. Peter and Paul found it, sat on it and they’ve just had their first chick. Little Pingu is a beautiful, fluffy grey sweetheart and the family are a happy, contented unit that are accepted into the penguin pool as though there’s nothing odd about it. Star attraction too. They’re selling the chance to have your photo taken with the family.”
“You wanna go to New York to have a snap with a family of gay penguins?” Jay peered over to the other bed. No stirring. He rolled his eyes.
“Yes! Of course.”
“All right. Book a flight.”
“Already done it, Champ. We’re going next week. And I booked the Hilton because there is not a chance in hell we’re staying with Sylvia, but we might have to do dinner with her. She’s pissing and moaning about not having seen me since last year. Yes, I did mention that I didn’t see her through my most impressionable teenage years. Her reply, it’s why she needs to mother me now.” Seb tsked. “Honestly, how do you cope with this family responsibility bullshit?”
“Dinner with your mum?” Jay scraped his hair back, staring up at the ceiling with a frown. “All right,” he said and started to panic.
Sylvia was so… touchy feely. Still, it was a darn sight better than the stiff upper lip of Seb’s father that always made Jay feel like he wasn’t good enough.
Thank fuck Seb’s family gatherings were few and far between. Non existent, really. Unlike his own over-the-top east end relatives who used his and Seb’s gaff as though it was an extension of their own property network.
A droning rumble from the next bed along was so loud, Jay dropped the phone into the pillow.
“What the fuck was that?” Seb asked when Jay settled the phone back to his ear.
“Davids.” Jay sighed. “He snores.”
“You’re sharing a room?” Seb’s lilt in his voice suggested he was unaware of away game arrangements.
“Yeah. We always share on away games.”
“Oh.” Seb paused, his deep breathing rivalling the throat rips from West Ham’s main defender. “I was not aware that my boyfriend—my fiancé—sleeps with other men when he leaves my bed cold for a weekend.”
Jay gave a fond smile that he was aware Seb wouldn’t see. Probably a good thing.
“You share with Martin and Noah when you tour,” he retaliated.
“That is entirely different. And not always.”
“How is it different?”
“They’re my friends. My band mates! I’ve known them forever. And they both stink.”
“Davids is my team mate. And married. With kids. Straight.” Jay glanced over to the figure sprawled in the next bed along and the man snorted, his lips flapping. “Although I ain’t got no clue how she puts up with that noise every night.”
“Oh, I know…” Seb’s amused tone followed by a chuckle made Jay frown. “Kick him. Hard. Or hold his nose. There is another surefire way but I’m not sure you should attempt it.”
“Go down on him.”
Jay sat up. “What?”
“I said you shouldn’t try it. But it works for me when my boyfriend sounds like a foghorn on repeat.”
“That why I wake up in the middle of the night mid blowjob?”
“Of course. What? Did you think I was just horny at two a.m.?”
Jay fell back to the bed. “You’re always horny.”
“True. It’s why I was watching the docu about the penguins.”
“What? You get off on gay birds now?”
“No. I’d exhausted the porn site. Seriously, there’s only so much of those muscle bound meat head’s pounding into each other with over the top grunts I can take. Masterbation loses its fun eventually. So I thought I’d be high brow. Watch an Attenborough. Turns out, penguins are now my favourite animal. Bollocks to the lions. All they do is lie around, yawning, looking down on everyone until they get hungry and pounce.”
“Sounds like you.”
“Go fuck yourself, Champ. I’m a penguin. An emperor fucking penguin. Suave, sophisticated. I could also pull of being a rockhopper penguin simply for their hair. But mainly, it’s because I look good in black, mate for life, and flap a bit when I’m antsy.”
“What am I?”
“You? You’re a horse. Most of the time you’re silent and stable. A presence, watching over the others. But you’ll lash out and trample a fellow if they get on the wrong side of you. Horses a sporty too, aren’t they? Fast runners. Aaaaand, you’re always ready to be mounted.” Seb chuckled a deep and suggestive tone that merged terribly with the snores across the room.
“Cheers,” Jay said, unimpressed. Well, it was hard to get on board with that when he was lying next to a bloke who sounded like a dying sea lion.
“Anyway, reason for my call.” Seb sounded a little serious and it piqued Jay’s interest a notch that this call wasn’t just an attempt for Seb not to feel so alone back home. “The penguins got me thinking.”
“Yeah? About how there must be a ton of other gay animals? Search the discovery channel. There’s bound to be some docu on that.”
“No, not that. Although, hang on.” Rustling filtered down the phone, a few clicks and a final flump that indicated Seb had set himself up in bed to watch whatever it was he’d found. “Wow. There is. My gay dog and other animals. Thank you, Auntie beeb.”
“Enjoy.” Jay chuckled as another loud, ear deafening snore boomed across the hushed room. He flinched then couldn’t hold his annoyance in any longer so threw his pillow across to the other bed.
It landed just shy of Davids’ head. Jay rolled his eyes. He should’ve kicked it. He never missed an open target with his left foot.
“That noise is worse than the band who opened for us last month,” Seb said. “Some punk outfit the venue made us go with. It was dire. Noise. Just fucking noise.”
“Your gettin’ old.”
“Fuck you.” Seb’s cursing was always a little gentler than usual when aimed at Jay and Jay smiled through it. “But speaking of getting old… that’s sort of why I was calling.”
“Thought it was for gay penguins?”
“Yes. That too. But there’s something on my mind and you know how you said I should just talk to you before doing anything brash?”
“Yeah ’cause that last tattoo you got, I just would’ve appreciated knowing you were gonna go there.”
“Noted. No more ink in places reserved only for the Rutters.”
“Golden. So what is it this time?”
Jay sat up. “Babies? You want a tattoo of babies?”
“No. Well, I would tattoo my own baby’s darling little cherub face on my calf.”
“Only space left.”
“Stomach? Right chest?”
“All good options but the leg tatt is proving quite the fashion accessory right now. Plus calf is the name of a baby cow. So it’s quite fitting.”
“Only if you’re going to fuck a cow.”
“Which I hope to never do.”
“Just horses and penguins that do it for ya, is it?”
“I don’t want to shag a penguin, Jay!”
“All right, all right. So what is this baby and penguin call about?”
There was a pause. An inhale. A shaky breath.
Then a snore.
Jay threw his last pillow and it whacked Davids slap bang on the face. The man didn’t move. He didn’t snore either.
But the short lived peace was broken when Seb said, “I want to have your babies.”
Jay fell back against the wall, his head slamming against hard, solid brick. He’d feel that in the morning. “You what?” he asked, just for clarification.
“Let’s have babies, Champ. Let’s have little Jays running after their footballs and little me’s rocking out on the guitar. Well, we’ll start out on the ukulele because, little hands. But by three I’ll expect to upgrade.”
“I know what you’re going to say. No womb. But, penguins, baby, look at the penguins! We could do that. We could so do that.”
“Steal an egg?” Jay licked his dry lips just as his pillow fell from Davids’ face onto the floor when the man wriggled onto his side.
What could only be an elongated grunt thundered from Davids’ throat and rattled the wardrobe doors. Jay clenched his jaw.
“We get given one.” Seb’s grin could be felt two hundred miles away and down the telecom system, only mildly preventing the need for Jay to kick the bloke in the next bed to him. “And we know our very own bitch whore!”
“Ann. Let’s use her eggs and borrow her oven.”
“She’s agreed. I already rang her.”
“So much for talking to me first before doing anything rash.”
“I didn’t impregnate her,” Seb declared in a mockingly accusatory tone. “That would be considered brash. Anyway, think on it. We’ll talk tomorrow. My programmes just started.”
“Right. Enjoy the gay dogs.”
“Oh no, not that. I went back to porn. Although, I could probably search that on this site. Puppy play.”
“Night, Daddy. I love you.” Seb cut off the phone before Jay could retaliate with anything.
He wouldn’t have known what to say anyway. That was some head fuck. Babies. Seb wanted babies. With him. And plural at that. Yes, he’d mentioned it before but he’d though the bloke was just flapping his lips like he always did. This was serious.
And if he’d already spoken to Ann…
A text buzzed through.
Yes, you can borrow my eggs and oven. Love you. A
“Fuckin’ ‘ell!” Jay flopped his hand to his leg staring at the screen.
“Oi, Rutters. Some of us are tryin’ a sleep ‘ere, yeah,” Davids said, slinging a pillow across the room that slapped Jay in the face. “Keep the effing noise daaan.”
Jay did his best not to retaliate to that either.