The Draw of the First Kiss
Seaman Russell Bawden stood facing the crowd of people standing on the dockyard while the rest of the crew stood behind him. After spending twelve months at sea, he and the rest of the crew were finally home. The only thing holding up the reunion was him, or more accurately, the first kiss following a long deployment. The one he was supposed to have with his partner. Only problem? He didn’t have a partner.
What the hell was I thinking?
A month before they deployed, his boyfriend had called it quits on their relationship, walking out of the door and not looking back. Russell had been left standing there at a loss for words until his best friend Damon had come home to the apartment they shared when they weren’t on a ship in the middle of the sea.
After finding out what had happened, Damon had gone and gotten the alcohol and they’d gotten hammered. Russell didn’t remember much of what happened, but he’d had a huge hangover the next day. He’d moved on with his life, got on his ship and went to do his job.
It wasn’t until a few days before, when they were on their way back, that he felt like the ground had fallen from beneath his feet.
“Congratulations, you won.”
He’d stood there looking at his commanding officer while trying to make sense of the words. “I’m not sure what you’re referring to, Sir.”
The man had chuckled and then dropped the bomb. “You won the draw. You and your partner will get to have the first kiss when we dock in a few days.”
While the words themselves made sense, when applied to his situation, they were crazy. He didn’t have a partner, but before he could blurt something out, he was dismissed. In a daze, he went back to the living space he shared with Damon, finding his buddy lying on his bed reading a book.
Damon laughed when Russell told him he’d won the draw, but it was Damon’s revelation that left Russell speechless.
“That’s awesome, I was hoping you’d win.”
“What? How did…did you put my name in the draw?” Russell demanded, still trying to catch up with what was happening.
“Well yeah, who else would have done it?” There was a huge smile on his face and the laughter was evident in his voice.
“You do realise that I don’t have a partner, right?”
Damon snorted and went back to his reading. “Don’t worry about it, I have it covered.” And that was all he’d say on the matter.
Now, Russell was standing in front of hundreds of people, as well as local news crews who were there to record and photograph what was happening since it wasn’t usually two men sharing the first kiss.
There’s not going to be two men sharing it now, I don’t have a partner and I’m just going to stand here like an idiot in front of the whole world and…oh shit, is that Riley?
There, standing in the front row of the crowd was his ex-boyfriend. As he watched, Riley smirked and turned to a well-dressed man next to him before leaning down and kissing him, then turning his attention back to Russell. He didn’t care that Riley had moved on, he really didn’t, but he knew that Riley was there to see who Russell’s partner was.
Oh shit, what am I going to do?
Just as he was about to turn around and get back on the ship and force one of the other guys to do the first kiss, someone stepped away from the crowd and Russell froze in place. The Adonis walked towards him, confident in his dark blue jeans, tight red shirt and black leather jacket. Russell swallowed as the man closed the distance between them. He wanted to pinch himself to make sure he was awake, but couldn’t make his muscles move.
“Russell,” the man whispered once he was close enough for Russell to hear him. A shiver worked its way down Russell’s spine at the sound of his name.
“Jer—” was all Russell managed to say before the distance was gone and he was being kissed by the one man he’d always wanted but didn’t think he stood a chance of having.
Before long, the kiss came to an end and Russell was left standing there, panting, while his hands gripped the back of the leather jacket.
“Jeremy?” he whispered, unsure of what was going on.
“Welcome home,” Jeremy whispered back, then leaning down and planting a quick kiss on his lips before wrapping his arms tightly around Russell.
Russell relaxed into the hug and it was only then that the sound of cheering reached his ears. Groaning, he hid his face against Jeremy’s neck and heard the man laugh.
“Come on, we’re blocking everyone from being reunited.”
Sighing, Russell released the man and they moved until they were no longer blocking the crew from reuniting with their loved ones.
“So, you two are together despite you reassuring me that you were just friends. Typical.”
Russell turned to see Riley standing there, the other man a few meters behind him and most likely out of earshot.
“Riley, what are you doing here?” Russell asked, confused as to why his ex-boyfriend was there with what looked to be his current boyfriend.
“Well when I heard that you’d won the draw and you’d be kissing your partner, I figured I’d come and see who the lucky man was,” Riley replied, a slight sneer on his face.
“Well look who’s here. Little Riley, what brings you near a ship?” Damon asked, as he walked up to them. He laughed when Riley growled and instead gave Jeremy a big hug.
“Hey, bro, did you miss me?” He asked when he stepped back and placed himself on Russell’s left, leaving Russell standing between the two brothers.
“Maybe a little,” Jeremy replied as he moved back to Russell’s side before putting an arm around his waist.
“Oh how cosy. Are you fucking them both, Russell?” Riley growled out, his face a mask of anger.
Russell frowned. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Which apparently was the wrong thing to say to the man in front of him.
“Me? What’s wrong with me? I left you a month before you deployed and you come back to a partner?”
Russell had no idea what to make of the man standing in front of him, breathing heavily and turning red with what he assumed was rage. “Um, yes?”
As Riley took a step towards them, Jeremy practically growled next to him. “Don’t even think about it.” When Riley glanced at Jeremy, whatever was on his face caused him to take a step back, but Jeremy spoke before the man could turn tail and run. “Russell’s mine now, and unlike you I’m not stupid enough to let him go now that I have him. Come near us and there will be trouble, got it?”
Russell watched as Riley sneered then spun around, stomping over to his boyfriend.
“Right, we ready to go?” Damon asked.
“I’m…so confused,” Russell admitted in a whisper.
He was unprepared for the quick kiss from Jeremy, or the smile from Damon, but when Jeremy pulled him back into his arms he went willingly. Turning his face until his nose was pressed up against Jeremy’s neck, he inhaled and relaxed into the strong body supporting him.
“Damon set the whole thing up. Got everyone to buy tickets with your name on them so you’d win the draw for first kiss.” Jeremy spoke quietly, but with all of commotion around them he probably didn’t need to, but it allowed Russell to lean in closer in order to hear, so he wasn’t complaining.
Then the words finally registered. “He did what?” He exclaimed, leaning back and staring into Jeremy’s mesmerising blue eyes. Suddenly he wasn’t sure if he wanted to punch his best friend or hug him for putting him in this situation.
“Apparently you admitted something to him the night Riley left and you guys got drunk.”
Frowning, Russell tried to think of what that might be, but the whole night really was a blank. Shaking his head, he stared into Jeremy’s eyes, hoping the man would just put him out of his misery and reveal what he’d said while drunk since it was obvious Jeremy knew.
“You told me you loved my brother, that you always had and you always will. You wished the two of you could be together,” Damon said from their side.
Russell felt the blood drain from his face as the words finally made sense to his brain. Before he had time to open his mouth and say anything, Damon continued.
“And since Jer has always felt the same way, it only made sense to set this up. Now, I’m going to get the car. Jer, give me the keys.”
Russell looked into Jeremy’s eyes and the emotion that was practically shining through them captivated him. He didn’t pay attention to anyone around them; all he could do was stare at the man in front of him. The man he’d loved for most of his life. The same man who apparently loved him back.
Opening his mouth, Russell tried to get words to form and come out, but instead he stood there impersonating a fish. When Jeremy laughed and kissed him, Russell didn’t care what he looked like.
Breaking the kiss, Jeremy leaned his forehead against Russell’s and Russell took a deep breath, enjoying the smell of this one man, before seeing the amusement in Jeremy’s eyes.
“I love you, Russell Bawden, you’re mine now and I’m never letting you go.”
Feeling tears form in his eyes, Russell did his best to blink them away. “I love you too, Jeremy Sutherland.”
Russell basked in the radiant smile on Jeremy’s face before leaning over to kiss his man. Coming home had never been better.