The Christmas party with his old work colleagues hadn’t gone as well as he had hoped. Chris had assumed that Thomas wouldn’t be working there anymore, that he would have returned back to Texas, but apparently the man had settled in Canada permanently. Others had welcomed him well, except Thomas who had also had a fling with Leo and who had met Joni on his visit to Canada. He brought out the rumors that he had heard. The situation was awkward to say the least and when Thomas noticed getting the upper hand he just got more fuel and asked if Chris wanted to silence him up as well with his fists. Or perhaps Chris only liked to beat up those who were younger and more fragile? He had asked. He suggested that especially the female workers should watch their mouth near Chris, because one couldn’t be certain if he just looked for a new victim for his rage. The same warning he gave to Leo and two other younger male employees among them, Chris could just get his thrill from random beating.
Others had tried to calm the situation, Leo did his best, but the atmosphere had turned unpleasant beyond repair. Finally Chris saw it best to go home before he would really lose his temper and attack Thomas, which had been close. Leo had later tried to contact him, but Chris didn’t care to reply, he was both depressed and stressed about the situation.
The December evening was rainy and dark and Chris didn’t feel like going home. He ended up in a small pub and ordered himself a beer. There was a small group of other customers, middle-aged men and one woman whose cackling laughter tightened Chris’ nerve even further. There was a curling match on TV and the bartender watched it keenly. Another lonely man sat in front of the bar like Chris, the man stared at his pint looking quite depressed. Chis guessed that the man was around fifty and pondered if that was him in twenty years, or maybe his future was in that clearly alcoholic group on his left, on the other hand; at least they had each other.
He took his cellphone from his pocket. Leo had send an apologetic text concerning Thomas’ behavior, but Chris didn’t feel like replying. Soon he was reading old messages from Joni and wondered what he was doing at that time; it was early morning in Finland, perhaps he was still sleeping. Chris felt his anxiety growing, life felt hard and he didn’t know when things would ease. He took a big gulp from his pint, looking around. The cackling woman fell into the arms of one man, perhaps it was calculated and the man gave a kiss on her neck, grasping her breasts with both hands. The woman continued her annoying laughter, Chris snorted. For a moment his eyes met with the older lonely man who looked back at him with serious look on his face before rising his pint to him attempting some sort of smile.
Chris didn’t want to end up like that man, but in a way he was already heading to that direction. He emptied his pint and went back out. The wind had turned colder and the rain felt like ice against his face. He walked as if he had no direction but soon he found himself behind Ryan’s door.
Without being very confident to find him at home, Chris rang the doorbell. He was almost about to turn to leave when the door opened. “You’re out late,” Ryan took note. Chris looked at the younger man who stood there in his underwear and smiled before beckoning him inside.
“I’m sorry if I woke you.” Chris muttered when stepping inside. His coat dropped water on the floor.
“Don’t worry, I was only just thinking about going to bed, but I’m not really even tired.” Ryan assured and turned to walk into the kitchen. Chris looked after him confused, but Ryan soon returned with a small towel. “Here, if you like to dry your face.” He said when handing him the towel. “Rough night?” He inquired leaning against the near wall. Chris glanced at him, allowed his gaze to study Ryan’s near naked form more carefully and Ryan couldn’t help but to grin. “I think I know what would help you?” He said and moved closer after Chris had undressed his goat and placed it on the hanger. Ryan brought his hand on Chris’ cheek, other moved softly along his arm. Chris swallowed, closed his eyes for a moment. Soft lips caressed his cheek and he felt Ryan’s hot breath on his skin. The younger man guided Chris’ hand on his buttocks, pressing closer to him and kissed his lips. The gesture surprised Chris, they hadn’t really kissed before, not like this way. The kiss was tender and calm until turning more heated. Chris squeezed the firm buttocks under his hands, he was aching inside and Ryan was there, he didn’t ask questions but gave him exactly what he needed.
They ended up on Ryan’s bed, Chris on top of him and this time, they were face to face. Chris looked at Ryan, for the first time really seeing him, allowing himself to see him. Afterwards, when they lied together side by side, Ryan stroked his naked chest lazily. The memories of the past returned once more. Chris turned to look at the other. Part of him hoped that he could just forget about Joni and move those feelings to Ryan, but it wasn’t that simple.
“If you like, you can stay the night.” Ryan said meeting his gaze, which Chris couldn’t hold for long. He moved his head and stared at the ceiling.
“Really?” He snorted, small smile over his face. “I think it’s best if I go home.” He said.
“It’s up to you…” Ryan said and rose to sit, stretching. He then turned to look at Chris. “Do you want to talk about your evening before you got here?” He inquired.
“I doubt that you would really want to know.” Chris replied and got up to find his clothes.
“I’m curious.” Ryan smiled and tilted his head. “You could at least tell me your real name?” Chris gave him a surprised look.
“You’re not the first to give me a false name. Usually it’s because they want so persistently pretend straight to their friends and family. And with me or with some others, they can act upon their fantasy behind the cover of a false name.” Ryan looked thoughtful. “But I feel that it’s not your reason.”
Chris was quiet for a moment, pulled his boxers up and wondered if he wanted to tell Ryan. Finally he sighed and picked his t-shirt from the floor. “Chris, my name is Chris.” He finally answered and the younger man smiled.
“Nice to meet you Chris,” Ryan said observing him from the bed. “And this Joni that you sometimes call me?”
“It doesn’t matter…”
“I think it has the matter with everything. It could help to talk about him?” Ryan suggested and Chris let out a dry laughter.
“Now you’re offering therapy to me?”
”If that is what you need.” Ryan smiled and Chris glanced at him, got his pants on.
“Believe me I’ve tried and it didn’t help.”
“Perhaps you just had a wrong therapist?”
”If I would tell you, you wouldn’t want me here.” Chris said almost challenging and Ryan tilted his head.
“Now you got me even more curious.”
“I’m not a good person.” Chris said surprising even himself.
“A few of us are,” Ryan comforted. “I’m far from perfect.”
Chris looked at the other, the situation was odd, he had already said too much. “I have to go.” He finally said.
“Alright, you know where to find me, if you want to talk or something else.” Ryan grinned. Chris wasn’t ready for that, he wasn’t ready to share those dark thought in his head and doubted that Ryan would be ready to hear them for real.
Getting Jami drunk couldn’t have been easier and the young man had blabbered valuable information. Aki had inquired about his relationship, leaded him on to tell him about things that later would benefit him and Chris. Jami spoke of his frustration how his boyfriend hadn’t introduced him to his grandmother like Misha had introduced Joni. Aki had managed to ask where this grandmother exactly lived and apparently she lived alone.
Although Jami started to answer his flirting as the night progressed, he didn’t however seem to warm up to anything else than dancing. At one point he blabbered how he never wanted to cheat on Ivo, because he wasn’t a cheater and wanted to make their relationship work. At that point Aki had however made his decision of how he wanted the evening to go and he also wanted to test a drug that he had gotten. He asked if he could buy Jami one more drink when he had already been pondering if he should go home, chuckling about how he had drank too much already. One more wouldn’t hurt and they were having such nice conversation; Aki had pleaded and Jami had then accepted, grateful that Aki was such a great listener.
The portion wasn’t very big; Aki wanted that Jami would be able to walk on his own feet after. The drug however started working fast, Jami complained about feeling weak, feeling odd, the room was spinning. Aki offered to walk him to a taxi so that he would make it home safely. He had to support Jami as they walked out and the younger man cursed that he had drank too much, the odd feeling just increased.
They got a cab quite fast. The driver observed them carefully through the mirror, clearly worried that Jami would vomit in his car; this worry he expressed out loud and Aki tried to calm him saying that it wouldn’t happen. Jami moaned quietly, his level of consciousness started to fall and a small voice wondered were they were. Aki helped him out of the cab after they had stopped next to where he lived. The younger man started to feel like a loose noodle in his hold.
They got into the elevator; Aki lifted Jami up on his shoulder and carried him inside his apartment and straight into the bedroom where he lay him down on his bed. Jami was awake in some sense, but hardly understood what was happening. Aki sat next to the younger man and took out his phone from his pocket. He had a fingerprint security lock in his cell, which didn’t do him much good in the state that he was in. Aki took his hand and guided his index finger on the right spot to get the screen open. He smiled to himself; it was far too easy. He looked through Jami’s address book and took copies of Joni’s, Misha’s and Ivo’s numbers. He read the text messages and watched the pictures he had taken plus his calendar notes; some were useful, most not so much. And his pictures didn’t have anything worth to copy.
Finally he brought his attention to Jami. He touched Jami’s face, brushed his thumb against his lips, which made Jami let out a small moan: He opened his eyes slightly. Aki smiled, looking at his face, allowing his hand to move softly along his neck while leaning closer planting a kiss on his lips. “Are you alright?” He asked quietly and Jami frowned, turned his head and looked around.
“Where…?” He asked quietly.
“Shh… everything is fine.” Aki comforted and moved Jami’s arms above his head so that he was able to undress his shirt. And the younger man didn’t struggle; he was like a live, breathing doll in his hands. Aki threw the shirt to the floor; removed Jami’s socks and pants carelessly throwing them away as well. Although he was momentarily annoyed by the disorder it was part of an important setup. He went to get a bottle of wine from the kitchen and two glasses, he poured some wine on both glasses and drank from both. He left the opened bottle on the living room table with the two glasses, other glass was now empty and the other had little left on the bottom. He undressed his own shirt and tossed it on the couch where it was easy to see. He then went to get Jami’s clothes from the bedroom and used some time to set up scenery where it seemed that their evening had ended up in heated moments, clothes carelessly tossed away on their way to his bedroom.
He returned to the bedroom. Jami lay on his bed in his boxers and had fallen into unconsciousness. Aki removed the last piece of clothing from the young man and allowed himself to study his body with his hands. Jami was slim without being overly thin. Very pleasing to the eyes, much the way that Aki had imagined him under his clothes. The opportunity did the thief, although it would have been more fun if the other had been conscious. Jami wasn’t completely passed out either; he woke to some state of awareness when Aki was already fucking him, perhaps not fully registering the situation however.
After getting his satisfaction, Aki tossed to condom to the bin and went to the shower before returning again to the bedroom. He Observed the young man on his bed, smiling. Jami’s breathing was calm, eyes close; blissfully unaware of what had just happened. Aki sat next to him, touching his face, wondering how he would react in the morning; probably not that well. Aki would however keep his head cool. Jami had been just involved in the situation, Aki would convince him of it and it would probably be quite easy. At that moment he believed he had gotten what he wanted out of Jami and now there was a bigger fish to catch. He just needed to play this level through.
In the morning, before Jami woke, Aki made some coffee and got dressed. He got to the bedroom when he heard the younger man starting to wake.
“Good morning,” he smiled from the door when Jami opened his eyes. “Want some coffee?” The younger man first blinked, looking terrified when he eyed the room and understood that he was naked under the covers. Aki grinned. “You were pretty wild last night, not that I would have mind.” He teased and winked. The young man pulled himself up grasping the coverlet tightly.
“You mean that we…?” He started in frightened tone. Looking at him in a way that pleaded him to say he misunderstood.
“Don’t you remember?” Aki asked with pretended offence and pursed his lips. “Just last night you praised my skills in bed.”
“Oh God…” Jami moaned and buried his face in his hands.
“Something like that I heard last night.” Aki smiled. “Hey, we had fun last night, no reason to go on a guilt trip. Wait and I bring you some coffee.” As he turned to the kitchen Aki grinned to himself, getting sick pleasure out of Jami’s confused horror. This was probably something that his Russian lover wouldn’t like.
When he returned, Jami had managed to find his boxers but nothing else; he was looking around, seeming frantic. “Where’s my clothes?”
“In the living room,” Aki said and let Jami pass him. He was curious in watching Jami’s reaction, how desperately he tried to put those small pieces of broken memory together without much success. The younger man’s eyes fixed momentarily on the wine bottle and the glasses, he cursed almost silently and bend down to pick up his clothes dressing them on one by one. When Jami took a moment to sit down Aki gave him the coffee cup he had been carrying.
“You really don’t remember last night?” He asked raising his brow and taking a gulp of his own mug. Jami brought his gaze to him, his eyes were watery and he looked like he was about to burst in tears.
“I’m sorry…” He spluttered. “I think I drank far too much…”
“Well it happens.” Aki shrugged and sat next to him. “However, we had fun last night. That boyfriend of yours doesn’t seem to understand what kind of gem he has in you.” Aki lowered his hand on Jami’s thigh giving it a gentle rub. Jami looked at his hand with bated breath before getting up and lowering the coffee cup on the table.
“It’s best that I go home now. “ He said and gave Aki almost timid look. “I’m sorry… I really didn’t think that… I drank too much… I love my partner.” Aki looked at him and sighed.
“I understand that you’re confused…” He nodded. “I like you Jami, you’re welcome here, anytime… I hope that you get things sorted. However, I don’t think that he’s worthy of you.”
Jami clearly didn’t know what to say or what to think about the whole situation. He nodded somewhat miserable and walked to the hall. “I would give you a lift, but I don’t think I should drive yet.” Aki regretted.
“I can go by bus… Thank you.” Jami muttered, put his shoes on quickly and tried to find his jacket which Aki ended up giving to him.
“See you Jami.” Aki smiled when the younger man opened the door.
“Yeah… Bye….” Jami said quietly and left. Aki grinned, amused of how well he had managed to mess up his barber’s life. The poor thing even felt guilty of a situation that he really hadn’t had much control of. On the other hand, he himself had drunk the alcohol; Aki hadn’t forced him to drink so much. Besides, this was small compared to what he had planned for later. Jami wasn’t the target perhaps, but the result would involve him as well.
Later that evening Aki decided to tease Jami some more by sending him a text message that would probably only add to his guilt. It would be interesting to see how things would progress with his boyfriend.
The following week Aki focused on doing background work concerning the “Joni project”. Jami had revealed that Joni and Misha were planning to travel to Russia on January, it would be quite soon but it wouldn’t be impossible. If they didn’t act then, they would get a new opportunity like this the following summer and they couldn’t afford waiting that long. Aki decided to get himself a visa that would be valid a little longer. He should have time to find them some secluded house or cabin, check the surroundings carefully. He wanted to blackmail money from Joni’s family and everything else would sort of come in the bargain. When he would get the money that he wanted he would disappear and leave Chris to deal with the result. Chris would probably be the main suspect for the cops anyway. Aki planned to be far away by the time they’d arrest Chris; it seemed inevitable, but he didn’t need to know that. Of course Chris would rat him out if they didn’t already know that he was involved, but he would have a new identity, perhaps he would go to Australia. He really wouldn’t mind leaving Finland forever behind, this time he would succeed.
A couple of days before the trip to Chris, Aki happened to walk by the gym where Joni worked. Aki also knew the owner; Eljas, more than well and he knew he wouldn’t be pleased to see him. Aki took a risk entering, because in a way he was also intrigued of how Eljas would react to him after all these years if he even happened to be there. But what drove him more in entering was the desire to see the victim of his future plans.
Joni didn’t seem at all happy to see him, and the young man’s gaze seemed to exude arrogance although he did his best to hide it and act like a proper customer servicer. Aki decide to order a coffee, studying the youth in front of him, Joni smiled at him awkwardly when he asked about the membership. He had no plans of joining the gym; Eljas wouldn’t allow it, that was clear. Joni seemed to sense something unpleasant about him and it could be that he was about to connect the pieces soon. It could be that Joni would find out that he did time in the same jail that Chris. It didn’t really matter; if they acted soon they wouldn’t have time to react. To disappear and to leave Finland he would need more money that he currently had. He had gotten some from cheating old people that he sold insurances to. Old people were easy targets, especially lonely women; they just wanted someone to talk to them.
Aki was thrilled to think what would be only weeks away from happening. The excitement was breath taking and this time he wouldn’t fail. He tasted his coffee eyeing the brunet behind the counter. He could see from his face and hear from his voice how he hoped that he would soon be on his way.
Soon a loud sound from the stairway stole both of their attention. Eljas rushed towards him, angry and upset at the same time, barely controlling himself. Aki looked at the other man partly spellbound and partly amused. Eljas was still handsome, more manly and stronger looking, this Eljas could very well beat him. Whatever Aki had expected, the reaction that Eljas had was stronger. There were several curious stares, questions on Joni’s face and Aki had to wonder if it had been a mistake after all to arrive. He tried to act calm and saw it best to leave the scenery critiquing Eljas’ skills in customer service.
When the door closed behind him, Aki knew they really didn’t have time to waste.
Aki’s visit draw near, Chris had contradicting feelings about it, Aki’s role in all of it. That night he stared at Joni’s old pictures from his computer. He had drunk a couple of beers and felt strangely vulnerable. Two more nights and Aki would arrive.
Chris frowned, touching the photo on the screen, until he snorted at his action, shook his head and took a gulp of his beer. What was he doing exactly? Was it a mistake to trust Aki? The other man seemed pretty hung up in the whole deal and Chris couldn’t quite understand his reasons to help with Joni. His doubts grew but it might be too late to tell him that he didn’t want his help, that he’d rather work alone. His mind felt foggy, perhaps the distance did it, and it wasn’t easy to get to Joni. Aki was making him more confused.
Chris got up feeling frustrated, walked into the bathroom and stared at his changed reflection. Perhaps he was losing his mind? He wondered running his fingers through his short, blond hair. He thought about Joni, the past and the future. The day that everything went permanently wrong, the day at that cabin. He had wanted Joni to hurt so that he would have understood even remotely how bad Chris felt. But that bad feeling hadn’t left or gotten satisfaction, it just kept growing. It felt important to get to Joni, felt like the only solution to ease how he felt was to get to Joni and solve things so that he could even imagine moving forward.
Frustrated, Chris ended up going to Ryan, he seemed to be only person in his life right now to offer at least some kind of help to way he felt. Sex was again rough and Ryan didn’t object, he was fully into it. Ryan allowed his role-play, didn’t ask too much at the beginning seeming to read his mind. And when it was over, Chris felt some kind of emptiness settle inside, he was afraid of what he had become and what he was about to become. He sat in front of the kitchen table the same table on which they had just had sex. Ryan observed him while getting dressed. The younger man got two beers from the fridge, opened them and set one before him before taking a seat across from him.
Chris was silent, took the bottle gratefully and drank. He felt Ryan’s eyes on him. “This Joni…” Ryan finally started; Chris had again called him by that name. “The name contains something painful.” He took note and Chris swallowed, took another sip from the bottle. Then he chuckled dryly and shook his head.
“If you only knew…”
“Tell me?” Ryan suggested. “It could help more than…” Ryan smiled gesturing towards the table. He tilted his head looking at Chris. “ I won’t gossip.” He assured. “I have no reason to tell forward the things that you tell me.”
Chris was quiet, gritted his teeth and thought about it. He brought the bottle to his lips. “Someone I loved and who betrayed me.” He answered surprising himself as well.
Ryan nodded. “It happens… You just have to let go, Chris.” Ryan said and Chris frowned. “It won’t ease if you keep living in the past. Accept it and move on.” Ryan saw how Chris gritted his teeth once more, the man looked away. “The best revenge to people who have hurt you is to move on with your head held high.” Chris snorted.
“And you’re the expert?”
“I’ve been hurt too. The only man I’ve loved, well, a boy then really…” Ryan snorted. “He had sex with me once, we were both drunk, but not too much. The next day he told me to hang myself, because I’m a disgusting freak.” Chris glanced at Ryan. “He really wasn’t gay you see, not according to his own words.” Ryan continued in sarcastic tone. “Well, I didn’t hang myself, obviously, I decided to forget him and move on. Now this former friend is married and a father of two, at times I see him with his family and honestly, he doesn’t look that happy. We all make our own choices. I am happy with my life now, although many might judge me because of the numerous casual affairs that I have. It is however my own choice, I like sex, I’m not ashamed of who I am.
“It’s not the same thing,” Chris wanted to argue and emptied his beer before getting up.
“No?” Ryan asked. “Because your love was better?” He sneered. “Because your broken heart and self-confidence were more valuable than mine?” Chris glanced at him somewhat angrily.
“You don’t know the half of it.”
“That may be true.” Ryan admitted. “I’m offering you a chance to tell about it,” He added. “Holding on a grudge has never helped anyone.”
“I already got what I wanted.” Chris snorted after moment of silence. He placed the empty bottle on the counter and walked to the hall. Ryan didn’t try to stop him and stayed in the kitchen.
“See you again Chris,” Ryan called out when he heard the front door opening. Chris didn’t reply, the door closed after him. Ryan was certain that sooner or later the man would again show up behind his door if he didn’t find another way to get over his ex.
Web published: 27th of June 2016.
My Secret Shore