Give and Take
  When David decides to move on after the death of his partner, he discovers more about himself than he ever imagined ...

Give and Take - Extract

It took David thirty minutes to enter the bar on Sigmond Street. He could feel his heart thudding, and his fingers were slick with sweat. Even as the doorman nodded him in, he expected to be asked to leave. There’d be a million reasons. Too old, not good-looking enough, not the sort of clientele they wanted. It could be anything. He felt like a fraud. Perhaps he was a fraud. After all, he wasn’t in his twenties any more. Not by a long long chalk. Going to a gay bar in the sole attempt to hook up with a man wasn’t the sort of person he’d been for the last fifteen years. No, for the last fifteen years, he’d been a fine upstanding member of the community: insurance consultant, member of the local choir, regular volunteer for Help the Aged and, most of all, for thirteen of those years he’d been with Patrick. And monogamous. Contentedly so.

His mind skittered away from that part of his history as he stepped forward into the gloom. Once his eyes grew accustomed to the level of lighting, what he saw wasn’t what he’d expected. The place was crowded of course, but there weren’t too many undulating bodies that he’d more than half-seriously anticipated. He smiled and shook his head as he strode to the bar, music reverberating in his ears. He must stop watching too much television. Especially the digital channels. No, all he saw were groups of men talking, some dancing, but nothing too heavy. Everyone was younger than he was though, by a good ten years at least, but that didn’t surprise him.

What did surprise him was the reason he’d come here at all. If Patrick had still been alive, it would have been his birthday. His fiftieth. And in another month, it would be David’s forty-fifth. When he’d woken up this morning, something had shifted within him and he’d known, almost from the moment he’d opened his eyes and seen once more the empty space on the other side of the bed, that more than anything he wanted to have sex tonight. With someone else.

He didn’t care who that someone was either. Just as long as he was attractive, willing and not after anything else other than a one night stand. After two years of grieving and being alone, David thought he deserved it.

At the bar, he eased himself between the small but compact groups of chattering blokes. A couple of them gave him the once-over and then moved on. Damn it, David thought. Perhaps this wasn’t going to be as easy as he’d hoped. Perhaps he’d be the only man without a partner at the end of the evening. Maybe he was, after all, just too old.

“Yes, sir, what can I get you?”

The question, with its soft northern accent, drifted over him like a welcome breeze on a hot day. When David looked up at its owner, he saw a slim, aquiline face, short brown hair and eyes that made him feel safe. Even welcomed. The barman must have been at least twenty years younger than himself and way out of his league, but he couldn’t help but smile back. Nor could he help the frisson of warmth in his blood. Nice to know he was still alive then, after all this time.

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