Celebrating getting to 400 members over at Tighty Whitey’s, I’m releasing this little chapter/teaser from Won’t Hurt a Bit, the third book in the St Cross Hospital series, for your reading pleasure. Made sense, it’s set at Christmas…
If you aren’t familiar with the St. Cross world, then you can catch up with the first two books here:
So, this is Christmas
Elliot nursed his bourbon at the bar counter, sipping it elegantly whilst really wanting to down the entire lot. Austin was being his usual charming self, working the room, white teeth flashing along with the ridiculous monstrosity of Christmas themed bow tie. The ladies swooned at every ditty that bounced off the walls in his American accent, whilst the men stood in awe, wanting to be him. Maybe they’d even want to fuck him. Who knew?The man was fuckable. All gazes were on him, his deep laughter resonating around the festively decorated ballroom, except for those belonging to the two men, very together, very close, so very much in love and swaying to the gentle music tinkering out from the disco.
St. Cross’s Christmas annual fundraising dinner and dances were always a bore. But Elliot, as the Chair of the fundraising committee and the most influential doctor at the hospital, had to be in attendance. It was expected. The face of St. Cross, the chairman of the board, the highest graded cardiology consultant in the country, Elliot had to pay his dues to help earn the hospital its donations to keep afloat. NHS budget cuts affected all hospitals, but St. Cross had taken a fare brunt of the cut backs. Meaning they now relied heavily on their corporate doners than they ever had before.
This party, was lip service to those sponsors who’d promised to increase their sizeable funds.
Last year the soiree had been at the Dorchester. A plush hotel in the centre of London where Elliot had sipped on cocktails, flirted with the donars’ wives, talked business with the corporate CEO’s in order to get them to dip further into their deep pockets and grant an end-of-year bonus which would give a Christmas to remember for those children stuck in a hospital bed during the festive season. And for those who cared for them around the clock. Nurses didn’t get a bonus for working out of “normal” hours. Many were contracted that way, simply keeping those holiday dates as shift patterns. Those nurses missed seeing their family on Christmas Day. Elliot didn’t have any family, so it didn’t bother him so much. But he knew those who it did.
He’d also had a hotel room that night. And he’d declined many an offer toward the end of an intoxicated evening to meander upstairs to his suite on the fifteenth floor where his own company awaited him.
Unfortunately, none of that was on offer this year.
Not only had he lost Ollie, the man who had waited for him for two years, a short time after that night, but this year the schmoozer of corporate sponsors and handling financial contracts had now fallen to Austin – the American businessman who’d flown into St. Cross to turn the place into a privatization. Austin believed in cutting deals, reducing staff and outsourcing important contracts, instead of using what St Cross had in their arsenal to gain funds to keep their services free; their workforce and the importance of saving children’s lives, regardless of their class status. Sick children don’t have a hefty savings or insurance policy to pay for urgent and vital treatment.
It should be a right to receive Elliot’s cardiology expertise, not a privilege.
Elliot swivelled around in his stool, sipping the bourbon that scorched his throat. He was aware he was staring, but he couldn’t not. Ollie had always been a delight to watch, regardless of what it was that Ollie did. From changing hospital bed sheets, to clearing up sick and vomit, to making the faces of children in pain laugh and smile. Of course, Elliot preferred it when he had been able to watch the man on his bed, naked, and pleasuring himself.
Those days were gone.
All he had left were memories. And videos.
Elliot smiled, raising the glass in front of him. Ollie caught his stare, gave a momentary returning nod, before resting his head on his boyfriend’s chest and swaying in time to Last Christmas. Elliot chose to ignore the irony of the song that had decided to play at that very moment.
“Elliot!” Austin swooped in to sit on the stool next to him.
Elliot only just about managed to not grunt at the man. Austin’s wavy blond hair curled from underneath the red santa hat and his lips had a distinct purpling from the copious amounts of port he’d been guzzling at the highest donor table. Austin wobbled on the stool, then grabbed Elliot’s arm to yank himself steady. He chuckled, then hiccuped.
“Excuse me, Elliot!” Austin held a hand up to his mouth and darted his bloodshot eyes around the room before lowering his voice to a hushed whisper. “I do believe I may be a little tipsy.”
“You don’t say.” Elliot gave a sideways glance before hovering his glass in the air to cheers a few of the various invited guests bounding on to the dancefloor to join Ollie and his partner. Once they were out of his view, Elliot rolled his eyes.
“You wanna have a boogie, Elliot?” Austin’s cheery demeanor was a tad offputting to Elliot’s rather gloomy and nonchalant to the season state.
“No.” Elliot preferred one word answers. They could never be misconstrued.
Austin bumped Elliot’s shoulder with his own and beamed a handsome smile of dashingly bright teeth. Elliot assumed those pearly white’s weren’t cared for by the NHS either.
“Oh, come on, Doctor Doom and Gloom! This is a party. Let yourself go a little.”
Elliot met with Austin’s blue eyes. They sparked. Probably just the strobe lighting or the blasted twinkling Christmas baubles that hung in decorations around the ballroom and reflected in the man’s bright iris’s. But still, it caught Elliot off guard. And so did the potent scent of aftershave that washed up Elliot’s nostrils as Austin leaned in toward him.
“I know you like to let off a bit of steam every now and then.” Austin winked.
Elliot inhaled, heavily, his nostrils flaring. That was some fragrance. Fresh, not too sweet with an earthy undertone. Not musky. It lingered, wafting over Elliot to bring those memories back. The one’s he’d been desperate to forget. And when he met with Austin’s gaze, it reminded him too much of it.
“Did we not agree we wouldn’t speak of it.”
Austin flashed up his hands, waving them in the air and chuckled. “Didn’t say a thing, doctor.”
Elliot hummed in disbelief and sipped from his Bourbon. Chucking his head back, he downed the rest of the contents and slammed the glass on the bar service. The waiter behind instantly arrived, bottle open and ready to pour. Elliot slipped his palm over the rim and shook his head, declining the enticing offer to get as blotto as Austin evidently was. It wouldn’t be doing him any favours to get his mouth as loose as the new CEO of St. Cross Children’s hospital and, rather tiresome, his immediate boss. And it wasn’t like Elliot had anyone upstairs this year waiting for him to let his steam off on.
He trailed his gaze over to Ollie. The dance track had changed to a more upbeat number and he jiggled along to the ditty with the other nurses from the ward. Jacob had scarpered and Elliot felt a slight sense of relief from his absence. Until the man appeared at his side, waving to the bar tender for another round of drinks. Elliot froze. His insides tangled in knots. Why was it he just couldn’t be happy for Ollie to have found someone? Was it because he hadn’t? Was it because he could have had Ollie if he had loosened up a bit more?
“Pint of lager and a glass of Pinot.” Jacob had to lean over the counter to shout in the bar tender’s ear and be heard over the thump of music.
“Sorry, sir, we are out of the Pinot Grigio.”
“Oh.” Jacob slumped back and wiped his scraggly, dark and too- long hair from his face. “What other whites do you have?”
“Chardonnay or a Reisling.”
As as Elliot knew, the Chardonnay was cheap and the Reisiling came with a hefty price tag.
Jacob blew out from rounded lips then glanced over to Ollie on the dancefloor. Elliot grinned. He didn’t know.
Jacob slapped the counter and shrugged. “Chardonnay?”
Eliott closed his eyes and shook his head. He twisted in the stool and leaned forward to the bar tender. “He’ll take the Riesling. Englegarton.”
The bartender, mid way to cracking open a bottle, furrowed her brow. Jacob whipped his head around, if only noticing Elliot for the first time. Elliot couldn’t blame him. He’d made damn sure he’d blended into the background.
“Sorry?” Jacob narrowed his eyes.
Elliot assumed he wasn’t apologizing, although he bloody well should. There was the man who had stolen his play thing.
“Oliver would prefer the Riesling.” Elliot winked. “Trust me.”
Jacob opened his mouth to speak, and it looked as if he was going to refute the accusation, when Ollie approached them both. Ollie’s face and neck sprinkled with glistening sweat and his thin shirt was open at the collar, baring his tanned and, Elliot noted, still waxed chest.
“Hey.” Ollie kissed Jacob.
“Is Chardonnay okay?” Jacob drifted his gaze from Ollie to Elliot.
Ollie screwed up his nose and peered over the counter. “The Riesling.” He pointed at the chillers. “That one’s pretty good here.”
Jacob nodded, dragging his gaze from Elliot, and swivelled around to the bar tender to change his order. Elliot smiled in small triumph. That alone was worth having to sit through the laborious party for the past couple of hours for. He might have lost Ollie, but he still new what the man liked. And, once upon a time, Ollie had licked that Riesling off from Elliot’s chest whilst pleasuring himself and exchanging that liquid clinging to the dark hair on Elliot’s torso with his semen.
Elliot licked his lips at the recounted memory.
“Well, well, well.” Austin hiccuped and rocked his stool from side to side. “You take your staff interests to a whole new level.”
That voice slapped Elliot back to the present. He chose not to make eye contact with Ollie, even though his blue eyes burned onto his skin – like his tongue had.
Instead, he faced Austin. Elliot stood, brushing down his satin jacket.
“A good wine choice, is a good wine choice.” Perhaps he should have stuck to one word replies.
Austin nodded, sucking in his bottom lip. “Absolutely. I wonder, though, if he enjoys the same wine I do?”
Elliot laughed, his booming outburst bouncing off the walls as the music came to an abrupt stop. Austin raised his eyebrows, challenging. Ollie exchanged concerned glances with his goddamn boyfriend.
“That all depends.” Elliot clicked his fingers, ushering one of the hotel porters. He handed over his coat ticket tugged out from his trouser pocket and the porter scurried off. “The wine is an acquired taste. Some can only handle it in small doses. After a while, the taste burns and many choose a softer, lighter variation. Much like a Pinot Grigio.”
“I’ve never been a fan of the blander types.”
Elliot smiled, his chest rising. “Is that so?”
“Much like everything in my life, I prefer a challenge.” Austin waved his hand. “I wouldn’t have taken on the job of getting your hospital out of the depths of liquidation otherwise.”
The porter returned with Elliot’s coat and helped him slip his arms into it. Elliot shook his hand, sliding a ten pound note into the man’s palm.
“Perhaps, one evening, if you aren’t tied up, we could share a bottle of this fine wine you speak so highly of.” Austin jumped out of his seat and slipped the ridiculous Santa hat off his head, the dirty blond curls ruffling up and enticing enough to yank.
Elliot thought about it. Long and hard. To the point he wondered if his thoughts were visible beneath his tuxedo trousers and long woolen trench coat.
“I’m afraid I’ve sworn off wine.” Elliot buttoned his coat up, bracing for the freezing ice showers outside to hail a black cab home. He hadn’t bothered with booking a hotel suite this year. “It has given me a lingering after taste I’m rather not too fond of.”
Austin smiled. “I see.” He roamed his gaze along to Ollie, who’d been watching the exchange with intrigue plastered on his boyish face. Jacob stood beside him, hand on the small of his back and eyeing them both through gulps of his beer. “Well, if you drink it properly, Dr. Elliot Rawlings, it shouldn’t have that affect. In fact, the wine in my cellar won’t hurt a bit.”