“Hey!” then he stood there just looking at Jeffrey. He looked so different. He looked really great in a baseball jacket with a round-collar white shirt and jeans. “Jeffrey.” he mumbled.
“Call me Jeff, Sir.”
He regained his wits. “Call me Ryan, Jeff.”
“Yes, Sir Jeff!”
“Drop the Sir.”
“Yes, Sir!” Jeff laughed. “I can’t help it, Sir. You’ll always be our guest.”
He laughed along with him. “So you live nearby, Jeff?”
“Yes, Sir. Just over the Ateneo side of the street. You alone, Sir?”
“Yeah, I just came from… “ then he realized he was about to say ‘massage’ so he buckled.
“I mean I came from BluGrey. I like the durian coffee.”
“Ah that’s cool, Sir. I don’t like durian.”
“Whaaat?? You’re from Davao and you don’t like durian??”
“Hahaha! I always get that reaction. Sir, not everyone from Davao likes durian. I just grew tired of it, I guess.”
“Hahaha Figures.. by the way, who’s with you?”
“Some friends from school, Sir. Just catching up.”
“You better go back to them.”
Jeff glanced at them. “They’re doing ok. I can stay with you, Sir. If you’d like some company.”
Ryan’s heart skipped a beat. And he stammered as he replied. “Ahmm… You sure? No, I don’t mind. I mean… Yes, I’d like that. Some company.” Suddenly he was feeling flushed.
“Let’s stay there, Sir. It wouldn’t be as noisy. Is that fine with you?”
“Sure, Jeff. Lead the way.”
Jeff walked ahead of him. And he caught sight of that magnificent butt again. He felt his heart beating faster, wondering if the stars are aligning somehow for good luck.
Jeff ordered beers for both of them. He was certainly right at ease in the environs. And also with him. On the contrary, Ryan was like ill at ease, not wondering where this was going. He glanced around, trying to figure out what to say next.
"You don't like the place, Sir?"
"Uh No! I mean, I like the place, Jeffrey. I..."
"It's safe here, Sir, if that's what you're worried about. Crime rate really is low here. The mayor's got that covered."
"So I hear. You like her?"
"Oh yeah. I mean, I can walk on the streets and not feel scared. The hotel, it's right in downtown. But I can go and walk out. No hassle."
Ryan started to feel at ease. The guy is showing some depth. Something he wouldn't expect.
"That's good. Very important. I like doing business here."
"Yes. But then again, it can get boring. Same old, same old."
Ryan smiled a bit. "Must get boring for a young guy like you."
"Sometimes, yes. That's why I am raring to go."
Ryan felt a tinge of sadness when Jeff said that. He will definitely not see him again after this.
"Where are you off to?"
"Work's waiting for you there?"
"Yes.. and no. No, not that there's work there when I get there. I'll take a chance. A friend will make sure that I get in the hotel where he's at."
"That's nice. Also quite risky."
"Yup. But I got to take some risks. I'm not getting any younger. And the pay here, well.. won't work with the growing family."
Jeff smiled. "Nah. Family is like mom, dad, siblings. Got a brother who didn't finish college. A bum. But got his girl pregnant. You know the story."
"Wow, the good son."
"Hardly. But the only one left who could do something."
Jeff was becoming more and more interesting.
"So you won't be getting married soon? What about the girlfriend?" He was slowly, carefully trying to verify things.
"Nah. Won't be marrying in a long time. Got to much on my plate." Hmm. Jeff seemed to have ignored the 'girlfriend' blurb.
"What does the girlfriend have to say about that?" Ryan pushed it.
"No girlfriends, Sir. Just work. Better that way. Less complications." Was Jeff just trying to avoid the topic? Ryan decided to back off. Maybe the guy was just being really nice to a hotel guest.
"How about you, Sir? Where's the family?" Uh-oh. The guy just turned the tables on him. Is he going to play coy? He decided to be ready to be upfront. He had no time to beat around the bush. He's got nothing to lose. At the very least, he will be honest about himself to him.
"I'm not married." he said curtly. And from looking at the beer bottle, Ryan slowly looked up to read Jeff's face.
"Oh. That's cool, Sir. I'll probably end up like you."
He laughed. "I don't think you know what that means."
Jeff smiled. "Probably, I don't. " Pause. "Or probably I do, Sir." then a big smile crossed his face.
A lump formed in Ryan's throat. Is this guy teasing or what??? He backtracked. Suddenly unsure of himself.
"Why would you like to end up like an old bachelor?"
"You don't look old, Sir."
"Oh yes, I am old. Don't flatter me."
"I'm not. You don't look old. And I won't even bother to ask how old you are. Seriously, Sir, I don't think you are." Ryan looked at Jeff's eyes. He actually looked like he meant it. Or is the alcohol getting to him?
"I won't argue. Thank you, Jeff."
"You're welcome. So for the record, Sir. I wouldn't mind ending up like you at all. " Again, no smiles. Just honest eyes.
Ryan glanced at his watch. It's almost midnight. And he still has that last meeting tomorrow. He decided to be finally upfront.
"Ending up like me means ending up probably alone, single. Because finding a good person to love, a good man to love, is just too hard nowadays." It must be the alcohol. He said it. And he didn't buckle at all. He said it matter-of-factly, unapologetically. He didn't try to emphasize any words, not even "good man". He looked at Jeff straight in the eye as he said it.
And Jeff stared right back at him. "That's pretty hard to believe, Sir. You shouldn't have any problems in the love department."
He stared at him again. No, the guy's looking serious. And his own heart is starting to beat wildly. "Well, I do. It's been a series of dates, endless dates. And still, single."
"You've probably been setting your standards too high." Ok. The alcohol is starting to get into his head. He is actually going to engage this hot young guy in front of him to a discussion about his love life, or the lack of it.
"You don't know that."
"No, I don't, Sir. So tell me. What are you looking for in a partner?" Oh shit. This is not meaningless banter anymore. This is direct flirtation. But why? Why now? Why here?
"Jeff, it's getting late. I have a meeting tomorrow."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Sir. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
"No, I'm not. You are probably the nicest guy I've ever met here in this place. And I only have the hotel to thank for that. But..."
"But I did make you feel uneasy. I'm sorry." Jeff looked at him, again with that straightforward stare, so honest.
"Not your fault, Jeff. I better go." Ryan was fixing his things. Jeff just looked at him, not budging.
"I don't do this to other guests, Ryan."
Ryan stopped fiddling. He was surprised to hear Jeff call him by his name. "I'm not usually like this."
Ryan looked at him. Those honest eyes couldn't tell a lie. "So why are you doing this?"
"Because I like you. Yes. I liked you when I saw you. And I know that us meeting here, well, it was not by accident."
"You believe in those things?"
"Yes. And please don't mock me for believing in them." Ryan felt guilty for saying that.
"I wasn't mocking you."
"I saw you here. Just when I couldn't stop thinking of you after talking to you earlier. I was wondering if you'd be around tomorrow, knowing you are just visiting."
Ryan was dumbfounded again. He couldn't believe this young guy could be so straightforward, so sure of himself.
"I'm risking a lot. I shouldn't be talking to guests this way. But I saw you here. And I just had to talk to you."
Ryan felt guilty. He was attracted to Jeff, too, but a very physical level. He even had those fantasies. Suddenly, this guy was so earnest with him.
"If I ask you to come back with me to the hotel, would you?"
"No. That's a definite no-no. The CCTV will catch me. I'd be out of a job."
"So this is doomed."
"There are other places. But, would you come with me?"
Ryan thought about his meeting tomorrow. But he couldn't pass this chance up. He couldn't believe his good fortune. And it is this hot kid who wants him so badly. To hell with his meeting.
"Take me to one of those."
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