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Clare London - Timeslip
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Kevin knows his crush on his gorgeous but impossibly aloof boss, Marcus, isn't going anywhere. But it’s actually Marcus who brings them together when he appears mysteriously one night in Kevin’s bedroom. Marcus acts very differently outside work, feeding Kevin’s romantic hopes—until they’re back in the office and Marcus has no recollection of their tryst….
I looked around the flat several times, checking I’d cleared away the spilled beer and the washing up. I closed the bedroom window tightly, telling myself I didn’t need fresh air tonight. What the hell? Did I think someone was going to get through my thrice-locked front door, negotiate the creaky floorboard in the middle of the living room, open my bedroom door, then climb into my bed under two blankets to get beside me—all without me noticing?
But that’s what he did.
Like the difference between blinking and not, Marcus was suddenly there in the bedroom. But this time he’d already lifted up the edge of the sheet and was sliding in underneath it. He lay down, wriggled a bit on the mattress, then turned his back to me.
“Shit!” I scrambled up to a sitting position.
Marcus stared back at me over his shoulder, eyes wide and dark. “What’s the matter with you?”
Me? “Me?” Marcus Armstrong was lying in my bed, beside me, and—bloody hell, I’d just realized—with nothing on but a pair of snug white briefs. “What are you doing here?” I scrabbled up the blankets around me. Bad move: that just exposed him more. His skin was shadowed in the dim light of the bedroom, dark against the white sheets. His long, slim legs stretched out to the foot of the mattress, and he hugged the pillow close, as if it were a familiar position for sleep.
Nothing on but his briefs….
“What I’m doing is trying to sleep,” he snapped. “While you’re… what? Trying out a cocoon for size?”
“Where the fuck did you come from?” I looked around wildly. Nothing else had moved in the room. The door was closed. No noise from the living room, no warning alarms from outside the building. He’d just… appeared.
“Have you been drinking?” He wrinkled his nose. “I can smell beer. You have work tomorrow, you know.”
I just stared. “This is my flat,” I said. “My bedroom.” My voice was increasing in both volume and pitch. “My bed!”
Marcus gave a deep sigh. He rolled over to face me, then sat up. Our shoulders brushed, and I felt that same rush of excitement and desire that had ambushed me the previous night. I could smell the day’s sweat on his skin, the shampoo in his hair. It smelled a lot like the one that was currently in my shower.
Coincidence, of course. Why would it be anything else? This was the man who’d railroaded me today in the office, had struck fear and hysteria into the hearts of my friends and colleagues, had bullied me into a job I was pretty sure I’d fuck up, and who so obviously didn’t care a toss either way.
Who’d never even noticed me before.
“Marcus?” I sounded rather snappy too.
He sighed again. “I know. I’m sorry.”
I gaped. That was another piece of water-cooler gossip. The perfect Marcus Armstrong had never—ever—apologized to anyone in the office.
“Please.” He looked genuinely upset. “I just don’t think. You’re right.”
“I’m just wrapped up in my own worries. It’s hard for me to share them with anyone. That’s the way I always used to be. You know… before.” He gazed at me as if I would understand this. “But that’s no excuse. I’m tense about the new job, and the presentation, and… I’m taking it out on you. When I should be drawing strength from you.”
Great jumping balls of paranormal!
“Marcus….” I began, then broke off because firstly, my throat was tight with shock and a not inconsiderable fear, and secondly, I realized the lunacy of talking to a man who couldn’t be in my room, but who was, and who had… nothing on but his briefs. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine.” He smiled and put his hand on my arm. “Of course I am, when I’m here.”
“Ah.” I cleared my throat. I couldn’t move away from him without falling out of bed. “That’s the thing, you see. Do you really know where you are?”
He laughed, but he looked bemused. “I’m at your flat.”
He glanced around the room. “In bed, as usual. I know I’m late getting home again, but there’s nothing else different. What’s this all about?”
In bed, as usual.
“Marcus, this isn’t usual for me.”
He just stared. His fingers tightened on my arm.
“I’m not used to you… appearing like this. Being here. Being in my bed. This is….”
“What?” His voice was oddly clipped.
“Weird,” I said. As soon as it had left my lips, I wished I’d chosen a better word. Then thought, fuck it, wasn’t I the one being spooked? “This isn’t real, you know.”
He shifted suddenly, but instead of dropping his hand, he put the other one on my other arm, and held tight. I didn’t know whether to be afraid of someone who… well, wasn’t really there. And he wasn’t, was he? So how come I could smell his skin, could feel the tension in his muscles as he gripped me, could see the small bead of sweat on his upper lip as he…?
Leaned in and kissed me.
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