Darcy woke up disoriented from his dream. He turned in the fluffy bed, reaching for Link, but hugged the second pillow instead. He moaned and closed his eyes, but the images of his dream were gone from his mind.
He rose in his naked glory and took a cold shower. What had he been thinking? He should’ve listened when his father said the cruise was a bad idea. All that testosterone and naked skin had gone straight to Darcy’s little brain. He couldn’t see a couple without thinking it should be Link and him, holding hands and kissing under the Hawaiian sunset. He pushed the thought from his mind. The idea had been to help Link get over his ex, not for Darcy to indulge in a decade-old fantasy.
When he came back from the shower, he noticed he’d received a text from Link telling him he’d be at the cooking class. Good. That would give him an hour or two to gather his thoughts. He put on his speedo and tied the rainbow beach towel around his waist.
The pool wasn’t empty by any means, but the attendance was nothing like it’d been with the heat yesterday. He noticed all the eyes on him as he spread his towel on the ground. Maybe he should also use this cruise to get over Link. He dived into the pool. When Darcy emerged from the water, he crossed gazes with another swimmer. Normally, he wouldn’t have given it any thought. Instead, he kept the eye contact a second more than necessary and glanced over the guy’s body. Anticipation rose inside him as he made a step toward him. His heart pounded, and he tried to imagine what it would be like to kiss those full lips, the feel of the man’s hard body against his. But then Link came to mind, and the spell was broken. Darcy dived back into the water and emerged farther away.
He turned to see Graham. They’d met on his first day. A tanned, blond man stood with his arms around Graham.
“Hey, great to see you again.”
“You remember Matt?” Now Graham said his name, Darcy recognized him as the one Graham bid on at the bachelor auction.
They exchanged some pleasantries, and eventually, Matt kissed Graham before leaving the pool to lie in the long chairs on the side.
“I can’t believe I could’ve passed on Matt. I’m glad that other guy beat my first bid.”
“Lucky you.” Darcy didn’t mean to let the pinch of resentment show in his voice.
“You didn’t get into the right boat if you wanted to find love, straight boy.”
Graham didn’t believe him, but who did, nowadays? All of his father’s jokes about how Link and Darcy were like an old couple, and his teasing about how Darcy better not came back from the trip married to Link, spoke volumes for his father’s beliefs. And then there was the issue of every girlfriend he had breaking up with some version of “You’re in love with Link, deal with it”.
Darcy snorted. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Well, I suppose true love could be one bisexual girl away.”
True love always brought images of Link.
“I doubt it.” The corner of his lips turned up in a sad smile. “I’ve had my chances. Now it’s too late.”
“Oh, come on”—Graham bumped their shoulders together—“don’t be such a pessimist.”
Darcy gave him a real smile this time, and Graham seemed satisfied.
“So, tell me, what’s so bad that it can’t be fixed? You cheated on her or something?”
“No, nothing like that. I… Have you ever waited to do something because you weren’t ready, but when you were, it’d been so long you couldn’t do anything about it?”
“Hmm, hmm.” Graham grabbed a noodle and leaned on it.
“You know what? I’m sure you have better things to do than listen to me rant about my coming out issues.”
Graham stopped Darcy. “Are you? Okay, stupid question. Of course you are. I don’t know one straight guy willing to suffer through a two-week Pride cruise.”
“You can’t tell anyone.” Darcy’s heart beat against his chest. Link can’t know.
“Hey, we all went through it. If there’s one place you should be able to find a good and discreet ear, it’s on the Queen Bee. I won’t tell a soul if you don’t want me to, but look around, no one will judge you.”
“I’m not ready yet.” It would change Link and Darcy’s relationship forever.
“Let’s go someplace more private then.”
Graham reached for the stairs while Darcy pushed himself above the edge with the ease of a swimmer. Graham whispered something to Matt, and Darcy got his towel to dry himself.
Was he really going to tell another soul about his feelings for Link? Fear paralyzed him as Graham and Matt kissed. For a second, he saw himself lying on the chair, being kissed by Link. A couple walking hand-in-hand around the edge of the pool distracted Darcy, but again, all he saw was the imaginary version of Link and Darcy—together.
He closed his eyes. Something had to give before he became any crazier. And right then, before he followed Graham, Darcy made himself a promise. Before the end of the cruise, he’d find the courage to tell Link everything.
And it would start by telling Graham.