The man tipped back his head and laughed…
Rhys couldn’t see anything but mischief sparkling in his eyes, as blue as summer skies. He touched his throat and nodded.
“You can speak,” Rhys said, working it out, “But you’re not going to. Is that right?”
In answer, the man nodded, a lazy-tiger inclination of his head, and sat back, stretching his legs and linking his hands loosely over his thighs. He looked as pleased as the cat who’d got the cream, the early bird, the one who’d beat all other comers to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He lowered one eyelid in a slow sweep of lashes, winking at Rhys.
Oh, this one was trouble. Rhys loved it. He shook his head in amazement, amusement and wonder, and did not cease propping himself on the table. “I was told to bring you a drink on the house. I had come to ask what you wanted. Maybe I should mix up whatever I think you might like instead.”
The man tapped his glass of water. This is enough, the gesture said. His tempting lips, as full and soft as if they’d already been kissed well and thoroughly by someone who knew what he was doing, parted in a slow smile. He lifted the glass to Rhys and didn’t so much nod as bow from the neck, as graceful as a swan.
“What’s your name?” Rhys asked, fascinated. “Can you give me that much?”
The man considered Rhys for a long, thoughtful moment, then beckoned. He plucked a pen out of the pocket of Rhys’ wait staff apron and curled the fingers of his other hand, requesting—no, commanding, wielding his peculiar power to bend all the rules without breaking a sweat—that Rhys give him his hand.
Rhys was just curious enough to give in. “What are you doing? Oh.”
The man’s hands were warm and dry, elegant and firm. Neither manicured and lotioned nor rough with callouses. Clever, agile hands. He turned Rhys’ hand over to write on the back, below the knuckles.
Rhys read the writing upside down. Jareth. Unusual, but nice. It suited him.
“What are you up to?” Rhys asked, his skin tingling from the brief touch. “I know you’re not going to tell me, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying to find out.”
Jareth nodded once, as if satisfied. He drew the tip of his tongue over his lips and looked up at Rhys as if he already knew what Rhys looked like naked, and found in favour of what he saw. Rhys couldn’t say he minded, either.
Want to know what I’m doing? Come and find out, that heated once-over said, beckoning him to join in the game. Jareth sat back again, thighs apart in a careless sprawl. He closed his book and focused all his attention on Rhys instead.
Come play, he invited without saying a word. I promise you’ll like this game.
If Jareth wanted to play, Rhys would not disoblige him.
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