Excerpt: Înflori

“Dustin, what are you doing?” Nicolæ pulled back and Dustin let out a small whine of disapproval, holding tight to Nicolæ’s shoulders, trying to stop the retreat.

“Come on,” Dustin pleaded. “Stop pushing me away.” His lips tried unsuccessfully to relocate skin. “You can’t tell me you don’t want this…”

“Want?” Nicolæ snorted, and then repeated, “Want? You think I would want to have sex with you here? In a toilet?”

Dustin huffed and rolled his eyes. “Damn it, Nicolæ! Don’t be such a prude.” He slipped one arm around Nicolæ’s shoulder and let his other hand fall to the man’s chest. He lowered his voice. “I need this. I need you.”

Nicolæ reached up and unwound Dustin’s arm with a sigh. “You don’t need me. You want me. You don’t need anyone. You refuse to.”

The seductive softness fell from Dustin’s face. “Don’t you dare assume to know me.”

With a quick reach Nicolæ grabbed the hand still resting on his chest. “Do I not? Am I wrong? Tell me then, that I am wrong.”

Dustin twisted his wrist, trying to free himself from a hand far too talon-like. He could feel tears welling up in his eyes and he had no idea why; why the man continued to refuse him, why Nicolæ made him feel so cheap, why any of that even bothered him. “What the fuck do you want from me then?” Dustin growled. “Why the hell did you show up tonight if you’re not interested?”

“I did not say I was not interested.” Nicolæ released him and Dustin struggled to hold back sound from leaving his throat, as he wasn’t entirely sure that the tears were alone in their encroachment. Tears in his eyes he could hide, but Dustin would not let his voice betray him. “I am very interested. You draw me, Dustin. But I have yet to understand if you draw me because you are beacon or because you are flame. And I have no desire in getting burned.”

“What the hell?” Dustin spit. “How can you judge me when you don’t even know me?”

“I don’t wish to judge you.” Nicolæ corrected. “But I do wish to know you. The man before the cock. Because I have no doubt that if I try to learn of you the other way around, I will never get the chance to meet the man.”

We are not doing this, Dustin’s mind screamed at him. This is bullshit. Get out and get away before this man drives you crazy—and Dustin reacted instinctually. “I’m tired of trying to be good enough for you.”

He brushed past Nicolæ, shoulder-checking the bigger man on his way by. Twelve years of hockey practice had trained Dustin well and Nicolæ, big as he was, stumbled. Dustin followed the move with a good ol’ fashioned door punch on his way through the exit.

“Dustin,” Nicolæ called and Dustin almost didn’t turn. Almost. But it was just too hard to stop his heel from spinning and his ankle from pivoting.

He grasped the door and stared at Nicolæ’s patient expression. “What?”

Nicolæ paused, sighed. “When did you start?”

Dustin cocked his head, confused.

“Trying.” Nicolæ clarified. “When did you start trying?”

Ears burning and throat choked, Dustin let the door fall shut. The only stop he took was one quick second to close his eyes, fight away tears and straighten his shoulders before he stalked out of the club.

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