Jace tried all of the free samples on the stalls at the Christmas food fair, bought himself a few new clothes from a charity shop, and listened to the carol singers in the square in front of the church before heading for home. As he approached the pre-war terraced town house in the quiet, tree-lined street, he saw a stranger standing on the doorstep, pressing one of the buzzers, and when he climbed up the four steps to the front door, he realized it was his buzzer. He smiled at the man, who was quite literally a tall, dark stranger.
“I’m number three,” he told him, as he unlocked the door and stepped into the vestibule. “Jace Hamilton. May I help you?” Was he staring? He hoped not! But the man was just so good-looking! He had a very manly face, there was nothing boyish about those sharply chiseled features. A Nubian Adonis, Jace thought with a smile and a slightly twitching cock.
“Daniel Philips,” the handsome, dark-skinned Herculean introduced himself in his deep baritone voice. “I saw a postcard on the community board at the library, advertising a room to let?”
“Yes, that’s right. Come on up.” He held the door for him to step inside. “Only one flight up. It’s the first floor.”
Wow! A veritable demi-god was inquiring about his room, Jace thought to himself. The man just oozed sex appeal. Oh, please let him take the room! Jace pleaded silently. He unlocked the door and stepped into the long narrow hall. He put down his carrier bag of new-to-him clothes, hung up his gray wool peacoat, then went to the kitchen, gesturing for him to follow.
“Fancy a brew? I’m having tea,” Jace said, switching on the kettle and getting two mugs from the draining board.
“Sure. Tea’s fine.” The man seemed like an immensity in the tiny kitchen. He was silent, gazing out of the window, while Jace busied himself with quickly making the two hot beverages. He didn’t take off his brown leather, hooded Parka.
“I’ll show you around and then if you’re still interested, we can talk,” Jace said, cupping the mug to warm his hands.
Daniel gave an apologetic half smile. “We should talk first. I have to explain something,” he replied, and Jace arched a brow in curiosity. “I realize you’re looking for a long-term arrangement but, actually, I only want the room for a couple of weeks. I thought you might agree to a sort of holiday let while you’re waiting to find a permanent roommate.”
Jace frowned. He took a couple of mouthfuls of tea while thinking of his response.
“Why don’t you go to a hotel or B&B, if you want somewhere just for the holidays?” He wasn’t a crook of some sort, was he? Unable to show his ID at a formal establishment? No, that was a daft thought. More likely a celebrity in hiding than a crook!
“I want a homely, casual atmosphere, somewhere I can relax and enjoy the festive season. The simple domesticity of a real home,” he explained.
“Not able to go home for the holidays?”
Daniel sighed and shook his head. “Kind of … between homes. I grew up here, and I want one last Christmas in my old home town before I leave the country.”
“Emigrating? Wow, big step. Where are you moving to?” Jace set down his now empty mug.
“I’ll be moving around a fair bit. So what do you think? Can I let the room?”
“Well, I’m unlikely to find anyone who wants to move in this side of Christmas now,” he reasoned. “If I do find a roommate, they’ll probably to want to move in after the New Year. I can always just say the room isn’t vacant for another couple of weeks yet. So yes, sure.” At least sharing the rent and other bills for even just a couple of weeks would help him out, make the holidays easier, but it was just his luck that the handsome hunk was only going to be around for such a short time, Jace mused.
“I’ll show you your room.”