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Moonlight and the lights of Rhodes Town shone on the ink black water. Waves lapped gently against the side of the ship. Distant music swelled and ebbed from the dining room.
Joshua Addison had never felt more alone.
He’d had a partner when he’d won this two-week cruise around the Mediterranean six months ago, shortly before Drew had left him for another man. Now Josh was here alone thousands of miles from home. He’d flown to meet the cruise liner on the island of Rhodes, boarded, walked around his first-class cabin, then come out on to the private balcony. He’d been aboard approximately ten minutes and already felt like hurling himself into the ocean.
A sudden cry split his self-pitying reverie.
“Shit, what are you doing, Freddie? Why are you using your teeth? Christ!”
Josh’s glance jerked sideways. He gazed across the wall separating his balcony from his neighbours’, squinting at two shapes in the dark.
There was a man on his knees being held by the hair by a man on his feet.
“Sorry, I’ve got cramp in my leg. Fuck...” The man on his knees shook one leg out behind him violently.
“Jesus, you nearly bit my dick off.”
Josh’s face heated with blood and he tried to sink back into the shadows in case his neighbours thought he was a Peeping Tom.
It was too late.
“Shit,” cursed the man on his feet, fumbling at his pants while his partner lurched up.
The man giving the public sexual favour stepped towards the wall with a cheeky grin. Of small stature and thin, with dark hair, he was dressed smartly for dinner, even if his shirt was luminous pink. “Hi, you must be our neighbour. We were just”—he coughed “christening the place.” He held out his hand.
Josh regarded it dubiously before shaking. “Josh Addison.”
“I’m Freddie Booth, this is Erik Dalby.”
Freddie’s partner approached the wall. Taller, with red hair and a nice smile, he put his arm around Freddie’s waist. “Sorry we disturbed you.”
Josh was more embarrassed than his exhibitionist neighbours. He mumbled something appropriate.
“Who’re you here with?” Erik asked.
“No one.” Josh glanced back towards the safety of his cabin, desperate to closet himself inside.
“Why not?” Freddie asked boldly.
Josh glared at him. “Because I’m sad and lonely and have no friends.” He stalked back to his cabin and slammed the door.
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Music woke Josh, together with laughing and shouting. Bright sunshine streamed through the curtains. The ship had yet to get underway and was still docked at Rhodes. He stretched and turned over in bed, listening with irritation to the racket outside for a few seconds before he got up and walked into the lounge area of the cabin to pull back the curtain at the window.
It was his exhibitionist neighbours of course, and they seemed to be dancing a particularly erotic tango wearing nothing but a pair of Speedos each.
Josh stared. Erik had Freddie around the waist with one arm, one thigh thrust between his as he marched him backwards, dropped him and caught him before he leaned over to press a kiss to his lips as Freddie shrieked in delight.
Josh let the curtain fall back. Jesus Christ, was this what he could look forward to for the next two weeks—Erik and Freddie rubbing his face in his loneliness at every opportunity? He hated them both.
A shower didn’t help his sour mood, nor did a glance at his watch that told him he’d missed breakfast. Cursing, he pulled on linen shorts and a T-shirt, and then left the cabin to seek out the dining room with the hope of getting a snack.
He was soon lost on the vast ship. He hadn’t put on suntan lotion and the mid-morning sun was already hot enough to burn. Hot and perspiring, he cursed his way around the cruise liner, his bad temper growing and his stomach growling.
I want to go home. I want to go back to Alaska where it’s cold and I can hide away.