Book One in the International Men of Sports series
Rajan’s stomach flipped at the stark words on his screen, confirming that he’d soon be standing in front of Ajay once again. It had been years and a lot of water under the bridge since their ignominious parting. Rajan took a deep breath to try to combat his nerves, but the memory of the last time he’d seen Ajay was vivid in his mind.
“It’s an opportunity that I went to no small trouble to get for you, Raji.” His mother’s smooth, cultured tones brought his attention back to the phone in his hand.
“I know that, Maa, but to leave school mid-term… I just can’t walk away from my classes.” Or Ajay.
“I have never understood your obsession with education. It’s just a piece of paper. And my son is meant for better things than teaching a never-ending wave of mediocre brats. Look at yourself, Raji.”
Without consciously making a decision to comply, he nevertheless found himself glancing at the mirror. He was the masculine version of his mother, the former Bollywood actress. It was plain to see. He’d also inherited her ease at speaking in front of people, but had hoped to do so in front of a classroom, not on a set. He had her sense of rhythm, but would rather use it on a dance floor with a partner than in a musical production. What he hadn’t got from her was her love of the fast-paced,glamorous lifestyle and the drive to have public success at all costs.
Try telling that to her, though.
“You are a beautiful and talented young man, and I have allowed you your little adventure off at school.” She abruptly switched topics. “Do you know that there was a photograph of you in one of the papers today?”
That surprised him. The ever-present photographers and reporters had been scary to him as a kid, and now that he was an adult, he’d found no reason to change his mind. The only respite he’d ever had from that intrusion was here at university. Somehow he had flown under the radar away from his famous mother’s side, and he loved the quiet. The peace. Feeling like he was just one of the crowd.
He could turn it on and work it when he needed to. But it was always an effort. And now, as always, it was a creepy feeling to realise that someone had been observing him when he wasn’t aware.
“Sorry, Maa. What were you saying?”
“This…fraternisation with that cricket player has to end. Now.”
His heart nearly stopped beating, then sped in his chest. His eyes flew up to Ajay, who was by now awake and watching him with a slight smile, looking rumpled and sexy and…
He carefully asked, “What do you mean?”
His maa gave a very unladylike snort. “You know exactly what I mean. I’m not
going to go into the salacious details with you. Thankfully you weren’t doing anything too outrageous in the photo—at least the published one, and I have my contacts looking into securing the rest of the negatives—but I’m your mother. I can tell by your expression that you feel more than friendship for this low Singh creature, and it will stop right now!”
By this time, her voice and its volume had risen to the point where Rajan winced. Ajay’s expression changed, too, and he sat up and swung his feet off the side of the bed, looking concerned. Rajan’s knees weakened and he dropped gracelessly to sit on the end of his bed.
“Now. This is what’s going to happen. I’m sending a car for you. It should be there in a half hour. You will be packed and ready to go. The agent I have picked out for you is coming there to ride back with you and go over the details of the audition we have arranged.”
“But, Maa, you can’t just—”
“I can do what I want, Raji. I am your mother. I pay your bills, and what I want is what’s best for you. You are wasted there, and you are making bad decisions on your own, as evidenced by your flagrant disregard for propriety with that deviant. Be ready to go, Rajan.” She hung up and Rajan was left sitting there with the receiver in his hand, stunned beyond words.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” Ajay was kneeling between his legs, running his hands up and down his arms.
“I have to go.”
“Is your mother okay? What happened?”
“I… I’m going home. Maa has arranged an audition for me.”
He watched as the caring concern in Ajay’s expression morphed into wary disbelief.
“An audition? For what? She needs to stop living her life through you, Raj.” Ajay grew angrier with every second that passed. “And you need to stop letting her!” His stormy expression was bad enough, but the bit of a sneer that appeared then, as if he were disgusted with him, took Rajan from stunned to pissed off in a moment.
He gave Ajay a shove then stood. Ajay also rose and loomed over him.
“You know nothing about familial ties and respect. My maa has done everything for me!”
“Ha! Everything for her image, you mean.You need to be a man, Rajan, and stop letting that woman dictate your life. An actor? Are you joking? You hate that shit.”
Rajan pressed his lips together, since he couldn’t disagree with that. His head whirled as his two worlds collided and he nearly broke at the impact. “We were seen,” he managed, feeling ridiculously close to tears.
“Seen? Doing what? You won’t even touch me outside this room. Seen. That’s a laugh. You’re my ‘best mate’.” Rajan could hear the snide emphasis. “If we do things together, it’s to be expected.”
“She knows. Somehow she knows.” He spun away, no longer able to meet Ajay’s angry stare. “I have to pack.”
“Pack.” The word was flat and not a question.
He nodded, devastated and feeling morealone than he ever had. Rajan hadn’t realised how dependent he’d become on Ajay’s friendship until it was wrenched away.
“She’s sending a car. It will be here in about twenty minutes.”
“Then we don’t have much time.”
“This.” Ajay took him by the shoulders and not-so-gently manoeuvred him onto his bed then flipped him over so he was on his back, breathlessly watching as Ajay ripped his pyjama bottoms off before doing the same with his own.
His cock was already plumping against his abdomen when Ajay landed on top of him, knocking his legs apart with his strong thighs to make a cradle for him then settling down against him. Their erections were nestled side by side and Rajan groaned at the heavenly feel of Ajay’s muscular form, still warm from sleep, meeting his from chest to feet.
“Raj…” Ajay took his mouth in a desperate kiss, thrusting against him with little finesse but oh, it was so good.
He gave himself over completely,allowing Ajay to set the pace and tried to block out the welling grief. This would be their last time together. He knew it, and as Ajay parted their lips to gaze into his eyes as they came together, Raj knew that there would be no other man for him. Ever…
The driver put the car into park and with a start, Rajan realised that while he’d been immersed in the past, a few minutes had slipped by and they’d made it to the cafe. He took a deep breath, trying to compose himself.
After that incredibly poignant moment, Ajay had not spoken another word to him. He’d dressed and left the room. Rajan had packed in a daze and when Beni Sharma had arrived to pick him up, he’d followed him without protest into the life he now led.