I am notoriously bad at keeping this blog up-to-date. My friend Max Vos puts me to shame. Every Saturday he produces a blog post, rain or shine.
And he got me thinking.... "Maybe it's about time I did something with mine."
So, to kick-start my year of good intentions, I thought I'd share with you the first chapter of Personal Secrets, the final installment in the Personal series. Last week saw the release of Personal Changes, Rick and Angelo's story, but now it's Ed's turn.
A few of you did pick up on the clues, and I know you've been dying to learn more about the brash, loud, Cockney rugby player who always looks out for his friends... So here it is. Enjoy.
Personal Secrets by K.C. Wells
Something was definitely wrong with Ed Fellows.
Okay, so he hadn’t come out and said anything, but ever since he’d stepped outside the Elephant & Castle pub to talk on his phone, Ed had seemed preoccupied. Colin couldn’t help but notice the incessant glances at his phone, the restless checking and re-checking of his messages, Ed’s furrowed brow as his fingers did their best to tap the virtual keyboard. Colin had chuckled to himself at first when he’d caught the frequent, under-the-breath swearing when Ed made mistakes.
I suppose it’s hard to text when you’re pissed.
Not that Colin would know right now. He was stone-cold sober. Bloody antibiotics. He only had to take them for one more day, but that still meant he was on Coke for the night.
Talk about torture. He wasn’t sure why he’d gone with the rugby team to the pub after the match. They’d spent hours getting increasingly hammered, while Colin had sat there nursing his Coke, smiling at the drunken jokes and slurred speech.
Come on. You know why you came. The reason is sitting right next to you.
Colin sighed internally. Ed was leaning forward, bleary eyes fixed on his phone, thankfully oblivious to Colin’s crush. Colin gazed around the cozy pub at his team-mates, careful not to focus his attention wholly on Ed. He’d noticed Ed had drunk less since the phone call, and that expression of concern hadn’t diminished.
When ten-thirty arrived and the team was finally showing signs of bringing their binge to an end, Colin couldn’t take any more. He tugged at Ed’s elbow.
“Want to tell me what’s wrong?”
Ed twisted in his chair to regard him, forehead smoothing out almost instantly as he pasted on a bright smile. “Wrong? Nothin’s wrong.” His voice slurred slightly.
Colin snorted. “Yeah, pull the other one, mate. You don’t fool me.”
Ed stared at him in silence for a moment and then heaved a heavy sigh. The mask slipped from his face. “Look, me boss Blake and ’is ’usband are expectin’ a kid, yeah? Well, Blake rang me about four hours ago to say their surrogate had gone into labor three weeks early.”
Colin was impressed. “He must be a damned good boss if you’re worried about him.” Better to react like that than to the news that Ed’s boss was not only gay, he was married.
Ed cackled. “God, me an’ Blake go way back. We were at school together, and then at uni.” His gaze traveled back to his phone. “Thing is, I’ve been texting ’im and the sod isn’t answerin’.”
“Maybe there’s no news?” Colin suggested. “Surely he’d get in touch if there was.”
Ed looked glum. “You didn’t ’ear ’is voice, Col. That man was worried.”
Colin could almost feel the concern rolling off his friend in waves. And just like that, he wanted to be the one to help him. He got to his feet and tugged Ed to stand up beside him.
“Come on,” he told his now puzzled team-mate. “I’ll take you to the hospital. I’m assuming you know which one, right?”
The look of relief on Ed’s face made Colin’s insides quiver. You don’t have a fuckin’ clue what you do to me, do you?
“Well, no other bugger here is going to drive you, are they?” Colin grinned. “’Course I’m serious. Now let’s get you there so you can put your mind at ease, okay?”
Ed’s expression softened as a smile lit up his face. “Thanks, mate,” he breathed.
It didn’t matter that Colin knew Ed was older than him by about four years or so. In that moment, having the man lean on him felt damn good.
Colin was still reeling from the shock, although he was doing his damnedest to hide it. They’d gone straight to St. Mary’s hospital in Paddington and after some wandering around they’d eventually found Ed’s boss Blake and his husband. And it was then that Colin had done a double take.
Oh my God—that’s Will Parkinson. He knew the face so well from his frequent trips to Will’s Facebook page where Colin would read what his favorite MM author was up to. Then he’d schooled his face pretty quickly. Admitting he knew who Will was might lead to some awkward questions, which Colin wasn’t prepared to answer just yet. This wasn’t the time or the place. Not that he had any qualms about telling Ed he was gay, but right now there was no reason to do so.
Blake was clearly surprised to see them and wanted to know why they were there. For the first time, Colin gave a thought to how they must have looked. They were still in their rugby gear, which was covered with about half the mud of the playing field. God, we look a sight! The two men ushered Colin and Ed into a little waiting room furnished with a sofa and a couple of armchairs. It had taken all Colin’s effort not to fangirl all over Will. He must have called on hitherto undiscovered acting abilities, because Will didn’t appear to notice anything. Then again, the poor guy did have a lot on his plate just then.
Ed collapsed into an armchair and addressed Blake. “Well, I’ve bin sendin’ yer texts and got no effin’ answer, so I got a bit worried.” He indicated Colin with a flick of a hand. “This is Colin, one of me rugby mates. Seein’ as ’e’s been on the Coke all night ’cause ’e’s on antibiotics, ’e volunteered to bring me ’ere.” He peered at Blake. “Be an absolute angel and find me a coffee, would ya? Me ’ead’s bangin’.” He paused for a second or two. “On second thoughts, you couldn’t chase up some asp’rin, could ya?” He gave Blake a hopeful look.
Blake snickered. “I’ll see what I can do.” He went toward the door.
“I ’ave told ya recently that I love ya, ain’t I, boss?” Ed batted his eyelashes.
Blake laughed. “Every time I have coffee waiting for you, yes.” He exited the room, shaking his head.
Will stared at Ed in amazement. “Have you all been in the pub since Blake rang you?”
Colin snorted. “That’s nothing. When we left, half an hour ago, they were still at it.” He shook his head. “I should have just left them to it, instead of sitting around, torturing myself, watching them downing pints like they were about to be rationed.” He sat down on the sofa and sagged back. “And it’s not as if this one”—he gestured toward Ed—“could drive, the state he was in. Although,” he added grudgingly, “he did stop downing his pints as fast once you’d called.”
Ed blew him a kiss. “Mwah! Ya know you only do it ’cause I’m bleedin’ adorable, Col.”
That casually thrown-out remark, typical of Ed, almost made Colin’s heart stop. You have no idea. Ed was brash, loud at times, a bear of a man with a generous heart—and Colin had been in lust with him virtually from the time Ed had turned up to play with the team. He’d lost count of the number of times he’d berated himself for falling for a straight guy, but there was something about Ed that was simply compelling.
With a start Colin realized he’d been staring at Ed for far too long. He was suddenly conscious of Will’s gaze on him and he hurriedly turned away. Will’s expression had been all too knowing. Colin kept his gaze trained steadfastly in any direction except Ed’s.
Blake returned to the room, carrying a clear plastic cup and a couple of tablets. He nudged Ed with his knee. “Here. Take these.” He handed them to Ed who swallowed the pills quickly, chugging the water after them.
Ed peered at Blake’s now empty hands. “Coffee?” he pleaded. Colin had to smile at that. Ed was like a little needy kid sometimes.
The door opened and a couple entered, carrying two small children. Colin got lost in all the greetings and conversation that followed. Ed leaned forward to speak in a low voice.
“That’s Lizzie an’ ’er ’usband, Dave. Lizzie works at Trinity—well, she did, until the birth of that little tyke.” He pointed to the toddler who was at present making shaky steps toward Blake. “An’ Dave is Blake’s best mate from uni. The kids are Blake and Will’s godchildren.”
That explained the closeness which permeated the little group. Colin felt awkward for a moment, as though he were intruding on a family gathering. Such thoughts disappeared rapidly when the door opened and a diminutive woman in a white doctor’s coat entered. Judging from the speed with which Will and Blake followed her out of the room, Colin guessed all was not well with the baby. He glanced at Ed, whose eyes were trained on the door, his brow furrowed once more.
You’re a good man, Ed Fellows. It wasn’t the first time such a thought had crossed his mind.
Blake and Will came back into the little room, their faces drawn. Just the sight of them had everyone sitting up straight, Colin included.
“The baby’s in distress,” Blake explained, “so they’re doing an emergency Cesarean. Donna will be going into theater in the next few minutes.” Will slipped his arm around Blake’s waist and kissed his cheek.
Ed’s face fell. “Does the doc think the baby’ll be okay?”
Will looked to Blake before replying. “She seems pretty confident, and it’s a fairly quick op.”
“Then come an’ sit down, the pair of ya,” Ed said practically, gesturing to the space next to Colin on the sofa. “Just let ’em do their stuff, yeah?”
In spite of his confident air, Colin could see the tension in Ed’s body. Blake sat down next to Colin, Will beside him, and the two men held hands. For a brief moment, Colin felt slightly envious. Blake and Will had each other, not to mention these great friends who clearly loved and accepted them. Then he brushed it aside. A relationship like theirs was what he wanted, but it wasn’t as if it was constantly at the forefront of his mind. Colin’s philosophy was that if it happened, it happened. And if it didn’t, well, he was good with that too. There’d been one, fairly long-term relationship in his past. He and Darren had been together for three good years, before things had started to go sour. When push came to shove, they simply weren’t a good fit. Since then, Colin had dated, but nothing special. In the last few years there’d been no time for anything else, as he’d concentrated on his career as a graphic designer. He had a close-knit circle of friends, and that had been enough.
Colin gazed at Ed who sat, elbows on knees, hands hanging down between them. Ed was lost in his own thoughts, affording Colin the opportunity to observe his team-mate. That body had formed a frequent component in Colin’s masturbatory fantasies of the last few months. Ed’s short, brown hair was a mess, and was even starting to thin a little, but Colin didn’t care. He loved those clear, green eyes and firm jaw. And that mouth. God, the nights he’d lain in bed, fantasizing about kissing those full lips until they were red and swollen. Ed’s neck was thick, and Colin let his gaze drift lower to where thick, curly hair was visible under his rugby shirt.
Fuck, hairy men do it for me every time.
Each time he’d glimpsed Ed in the showers after a match, it had been all he could do to keep his erection under control. He knew those shorts hid heavily-muscled thighs, the hair becoming thicker on his calves. The wide chest and thick, muscled biceps were all evidence of Ed’s workouts. Hell, he had to be that size. Being the number eight for the team meant he needed every inch of muscle.
Once more Colin became aware of eyes focused on him, and quickly shifted his gaze. God, how long had he been staring at Ed? He’d completely lost track of time.
The door opened and the doctor entered, smiling. Will and Blake were on their feet in an instant.
“Gentlemen, you have a daughter. And mother and baby are both doing well.” She beamed at them.
Will turned to face Blake. “A little girl. Blake, we have a little girl.” Colin loved the note of wonder in his voice. He watched as the two men held each other, exchanging soft, loving kisses as their three friends got up to hug them, voices raised in congratulation.
“Would you like to see Donna and your daughter?”
Colin had to smile as Dr. Marrin’s words broke through, obviously amused. Will released Blake and met his husband’s gaze. “Let’s go see our little girl.”
Ed cleared his throat. “Okay, now I know everythin’s fine an’ dandy ’ere, I’m gonna go ’ome.” He speared Blake with an intense stare. “An’ I don’t expect to see you at work, okay?” He grinned. “’Ave a day off on me. In fact, ’ave several. It’s called paternity leave, so I’m reliably informed.” Ed winked.
“Done,” Blake replied promptly. Both Colin and Will chuckled to see the look of faint surprise on Ed’s face. “What—you expected me to argue?” Blake snickered.
Colin got to his feet. “Come on, Ed, I’ll take you home. You need to sleep it off or you’ll be in no state for work tomorrow, Mr. Office Manager.” He grinned good-naturedly.
“That shows ’ow awake you are,” Ed cackled. “Tomorrow’s Sunday.” He was still beaming as he clapped Will on the back and gave Blake a brief, manly hug before heading for the door. Colin gave a nod to the group and followed him out. They walked along the now quiet corridors to the elevator. Ed leaned back against the elevator walls and sighed.
“Thank God everythin’ worked out all right.” He closed his eyes.
“Will and Blake seem like a nice couple,” Colin noted.
Ed opened his eyes. “Yeah, I didn’t see that one comin’. First we all knew about it was the office Christmas party when the coppers turned up to arrest Will for assaultin’ our receptionist, Karen.”
Colin stared. “You’re kidding.”
Ed shook his head. “God’s honest truth. ’Course, it was a crock o’ shit, but when Blake told the ol’ Bill that Will couldn’t ’ave done it ’cause they’d spent the night together…”
His words trailed off as the doors to the elevator opened and they exited. They walked out of the hospital into the dark night toward the car park. Colin was still ruminating on Ed’s words.
“Wow, talk about a dramatic way to come out of the closet.”
Ed guffawed. “You can say that again. Then blow me, a week later, during the New Year’s Eve party, Blake goes an’ gets down on one knee in front of everyone and proposes.” He shook his head once more. “An’ we never had a bloody clue that Blake was even gay! Just shows, you never can tell about people.”
They reached Colin’s car and got in. Ed sank his head back against the support and closed his eyes.
Colin smirked. “Yeah, close your eyes, Sleeping Beauty. I’ll get you home.” He switched on the engine.
“You’re a real prince,” Ed murmured. It wasn’t long before Colin could hear the change in his breathing as Ed fell asleep.
Good job I know where you live, eh, mate? It wasn’t the first time he’d driven to Ed’s p-lace to pick him up for rugby practice or a match. Smiling to himself, Colin pulled out of the parking bay and started on the forty minute or so journey to Ed’s flat. As he drove along, he glanced down at the muscled legs and thick calves, still spattered with mud.
God, I need a shower, he thought. It would have to wait until he’d deposited a sleepy Ed back at his flat. He grinned to himself. Wonder how Ed would feel if I offered to tuck him up in bed? He barely held back the snort.
Yeah, like that was going to happen.