Grey stiffened at the sight before him and did his damnedest not to salivate. The stranger stood in the doorway with a duffel bag, dark wet hair and flesh glistening with moisture from the light showers of rain outside. Heat from the stranger’s body mingled with the frigid air breezing in through the open door.
“Hi there. you’re my neighbour right”?
“Yeah, I am. My name is Morgan. I live in the apartment right opposite yours. The lady that lives here and I have been good friends since you and her moved here ” Morgan extended his hand.
“The lady?” Grey asked, while shaking the man’s hand,
“Yeah the lady, Isys.”
“Oh. Isys. She’s my sister and she doesn’t live here She visits so often though even I’m beginning to wonder if she does.”
“Oh. My bad.” Morgan had the grace to blush. “Never really asked her. I just assumed she lived here because she’s always had a key with her to go in and out after our conversations. Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay. I’m Grey”, “Nice to finally meet the person my sister talks so fondly of as she criticises me for not mingling with the neighbours.” Grey smiled inwardly as he finally understood why his sister had become friends with the shirtless man at his door. He was Half-naked, full of gorgeous rippling muscles with a Family tattoo on his left arm. Oh Isys, what fresh hell have you gotten yourself into? “How can I help you?”
“Uh….well, I called your sister earlier and told her about it. I had a pipe leak in my bathroom three days ago.” Morgan grimaced. “The shower tile and wall is going to have to be broken in order to fix it, and the floor in the bathroom is going to have to be replaced. There’s only one guy i trust to do it and he can’t clear enough time for a few more days. Anyway, with the valves to the house shut off, I don’t have any water. I know its last minute but your sister told me where she left her set of keys under the doormat said I could stay here so that I have a toilet and shower, until mine is repaired.”
His sister was a dead woman! “Is that so? My sister said that?” he asked in the heavily sarcastic tone that had most of his exes want to stick a gun up his throat and pull the trigger. Morgan clutched his duffel bag, shifted his full weight on his left leg, and looked so uncomfortable standing shirtless while talking to another man. “Yes. Yes she did”
Grey’s blood boiled. Yes….he was going to make sure that before the end of the week; Isys was so, so dead!
“You know what, I’m sorry. Wouldn’t have asked Isys if I knew she didn’t live here and I didn’t know you’d be uncomfortable with it. Let me just get out of your hair.” Morgan, turned and started to make his way in the rain on the slippery staircase.
No, no, no, don’t do it. He’s a big boy and can take care of himself. “Wait” Grey called after him, “Would you still need a place to stay for a few nights?” Grey’s fists clenched at his sides even as he made the offer. “Any friend of Isys is a friend of mine. There are two bedrooms and I don’t need both. My sister visits regularly but seeing as she offered you a place to stay in my home, she obviously has no plans of visiting soon,” not that her hiding away from him would do her any good when he was done decapitating her head from her often described as bombshell 5.ft.8 body. “There is plenty of room to share for a short while.”
The man scratched the stubble on his hard jaw. ”I really don’t want to put you out. Your sister said nothing about you being home. Come to think of it, your sister never said anything about this not being her house either.”
“You said you don’t have water.” Grey made the words seem like a curse. “its really not a problem”. Years of never backing down from a business negotiation with stubborn people brought Grey’s gaze up from the floor and onto a man he wanted out of his house more than just about anything in the world. Dark slate eyes connected with his, and Grey stuffed down the immediate desire to retract his offer. “You can use the second room until your water problem is repaired”
“Thank you.” Morgan stepped inside, and Grey’s heart sank. “I appreciate the kindness.”
“No problem.” Big problem. Why couldn’t this man be one of those people who protested a kindness until the other person gave up? He wasn’t supposed to say yes. “Go ahead and get yourself settled in”, Grey offered anyway, “and we’ll just work around each other for a few days until you can go back home.”
“Okay.” Morgan moved across the marble floor, his body something of incredible fluid grace for such a big man. He paused, turned back, and asked “which way to the room?”
“Huh? Oh the room…uh…yeah its the second door to your left straight down the hallway.” Grey managed to answer as he focused on what this intrusion of his home would mean for him.
As Grey watched him walk away in the direction of the rooms, his mind slipped back to those few minutes to the guy who had stood in his doorway shirtless. Damn it, Isys had seriously crossed the line now. Grey had gone too long without living with another person. What in the hell had he been thinking, inviting a person he didn’t even know, into his home? It was more than stupid, it was downright risky. Grey took a step back, and another until he bumped up against the door. He wanted to tell Morgan to get out, but he couldn’t. Not now, Jesus, Grey didn’t know what the fuck to do.
This had disaster written all over it.
Morgan stood inside his designated room silently cursing and calling himself ten different kinds of foolish for agreeing to stay after a look at Grey. Isys never said she had a brother. He had thought if he showed up as the needy victim, she’d eagerly take him in and let him stay for a few days. It was convenient because he saw her as a sister and had never hit on her. The coming here shirtless thing had only been his way of teasing Isys because she had once mentioned her wondering how he’d look without a shirt on. She knew he played for both teams but still said she found him sexy as ever.
Only now, she didn’t live here and he was stuck in a house with her brother! Her six feet of stunning, perfectly sinewy body, thick brown, beautiful chocolate-coloured skinned brother! Damn, the man was gorgeous! He had the most piercing grey eyes with flecks of a of silver Morgan had ever seen. The minute he had seen him, he understood why he had been named Grey. If he had been called by any other name, Morgan would still have nicknamed him after the colour of his eyes. But of course, why would Isys mention her brother’s near physical perfection? she knew he was not in the market for any kind of relationship. Not with a woman and definitely not with a man; not after what had happened the last time! Not that it mattered anyway. Nothing about Grey spoke of hot, raunchy animal sex…gay or straight. The guy probably put a double-thick towel under his woman in bed so the sheets didn’t get messy. Hell, in Morgan’s mind, one of the best things about losing control was seeing all the damage done in the aftermath. Falling over into those wet spots, knowing he drew that reaction out of his partner was pure bliss to Morgan.
At least, it used to be. Not anymore.
No more lusting after straight guys.
No more convincing himself lust was love.
He quickly wore his favourite pair of jeans and his black T-shirt with the inscription “what’s not to like” written on it. Hiding away from Grey in his house was stupid and it was rude to avoid his host.
As he walked out of his temporary room, he sought out his host and found him in the kitchen with a plate of a reddish-looking rice and chicken. It looked delicious. Unconsciously, his belly rumbled so loud, he was sure all the neighbours would hear it. Great! He had interrupted his meal and to make matters worse, he couldn’t stop looking at Grey’s eyes. He wondered what he was really hungry for…the meal or the cook. “Oh hey,”, Morgan managed.
“Hey” Grey paused, whipping his head up from where he sat by the kitchen counter. He glanced at Morgan, barely making eye contact, dropped his spoon, and then looked away, making Morgan wonder if he had the word “slut” etched into his forehead.
Feeling uncomfortable having someone he didn’t really know watch him eat, he asked “Hungry?
“I could eat, yeah”.
“Great. Help yourself to some food.” Grey turned towards the stove. “There’s jollof rice in the pot and there’s chicken in the oven.”
Morgan smiled and said “Thank you”. He got his food, sat down and they both ate in silence. Thick silence sat heavy in the air, and from across the small table, Grey did a lot of staring at his now empty plate. No one ever called Morgan a motor-mouth, but he could usually carry on a decent conversation, even with someone he didn’t really know. This man, however, left him feeling tongue-tied. Morgan fiddled with the last few bites of his chicken. He didn’t fucking understand it. Not giving himself any more time to think, Morgan blurted out “Can I ask you a dumb question?”
Grey’s focus snapped up from his plate, meeting Morgan’s gaze. “Sure.” His lips thinned and his jaw clenched as he spoke from behind the rim of his glass of water. “What did you want to ask me?”
“You don’t wear contacts, do you?”
No, I don’t. my eyes are naturally Grey, although sometimes, it turns silver depending on the lighting”
“oh ok. Figured as much.”
“Now that I’ve answered your question, I have some of my own”.
Morgan pushed back his chair and stretched out his legs, crossing them at the ankle, “Go on. I’m all ears.”
“Where are you from originally?” Grey enquired.
“Originally from the UK. Grew up in America but moved back here over five years ago to settle in my roots. you?”
“Mum’s from Nigeria and Dad’s Italian. Live here in the UK because I was born and raised here. Travel to Nigeria quite often every year though. Goes without saying I got my complexion from my mum, my eyes from my dad, and everything else from the UK”. Grey wondered why he had said so much. It wasn’t in his nature to share personal information in the least. His curiosity got the better of him and so continued with his questions. “I assume since you’re the only one here that you’re not married and don’t have a wife stranded back at your house without water.”
Morgan quirked his head to one side and studied Grey a little more intently. “Nope. Not married.”
“Ever been?” Grey asked, barely letting a pause exist between a response and his next question. “Are you divorced?”
“Never been married”
“How about engaged?” Grey asked.
“Not even engaged.” Morgan crossed his arms against his chest and drilled the man with an unwavering stare. “Would you like to know my political affiliation next? Maybe how much I paid for my house? or perhaps whether or not I claim a particular religion?” Grey sat across from Morgan and didn’t so much as flinch at the dryness in Morgan’s tone, let alone show a reaction on his face. “How many questions do you get before I get to ask another of you?” Morgan questioned.
Grey raised a brow, but other than that didn’t respond.
Suddenly needing to move, feeling like this man could see straight through his clothes right into his soul, Morgan grabbed his plate and stood. He moved to the sink but paused before turning on the water. He looked over his shoulder back to the table where Grey still sat. “Are you trying to figure out if I’m going to swindle you in the dead of night while you’re asleep? What exactly are you hoping to find out about me with all these questions, Grey?”
Grey’s poker face remained firmly in place. “Just trying to make conversation.”
“Now why don’t I believe that?”
Grey got up and moved to the sink to rinse his plate too. Standing so close, the guy somehow exuded dominating cool–while at the same time making it hard for Morgan to breathe. “You don’t have to believe it.” Grey’s voice reeked of quiet command. “I don’t owe you anything else.”
Gritting his teeth, Morgan responded, “Ditto.”
The air in the room charged with electricity, creating tension Morgan could feel like a touch against his flesh. Still standing very close, Grey somehow managed to get the water running and washed his plate without ever giving up his position. “So then we understand each other,” he finally said. “Good.” With that, he walked out of the kitchen and towards the master bedroom, leaving Morgan standing in the kitchen looking alone, stunned, and confused.
As Morgan watched the tall glass of chocolate liqueur walk smartly out of the room, he wondered what the guy’s deal was. If Morgan didn’t know any better, ho would have sworn that the guy had a broomstick shoved all the way up his ass, right into his spine.
Well, hell. He could already tell Grey would be tons of fun.
…To be Continued!
Soundtrack for Given to Grey: The Host… DON’T JUDGE ME by Chris Brown