Marek and Adrian dated in high school, but a bitter breakup led them to choose different paths. Adrian is out and proud while Marek is in the closet. Adrian embraces his eccentricity while Marek clings to a conservative image. And while Marek worked hard to build a successful life and financial stability by climbing the corporate ladder, Adrian threw caution to the wind and has spent the last five years backpacking across the world.
Now Adrian is back in Warsaw, Poland, but while Marek thinks they will have a hookup and have a blast from the past, Adrian is just looking for a place to crash. Worse still, Adrian turns up at Marek’s advertising agency for help with his outrageous new business venture, and if Marek wants to get promoted, he might have to work with the guy who broke his heart.
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
Themes: second chances, friends to lovers, Poland, international, life choices, immigration
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: novella (~35 000 words)
When Marek went to the restroom, he took his time, making sure his made-to-measure Vistula suit had no creases. He was lucky he’d chosen to wear it today, as it was his only suit of such superior quality. No hair was out of place in his neat cut, and his slim, blue tie was perfection in silk. It took him a while to decide how he should button his jacket to be most stylish. At least he was in peak form, thanks to sweating out stress at the gym. If there was ever a time for rebound sex with Adrian, it was tonight.
He couldn’t focus on work anymore, fantasizing that he would arrive at the coffee shop Adrian chose and walk out of his elegant car all suave and stylish. The sun would be setting, so he’d still have a reason to wear shades, and Adrian would have no choice but to acknowledge how hot Marek was.
He eventually left the restroom and casually made his way past the secretary’s desk and toward his office. Marzena was at his door, smartly dressed as always and with her hair up, next to a man who didn’t belong in the world of clean lines and beige carpets.
Marzena blinked and smiled, already walking toward Marek, with the man on her heels.
“There he is. Marek, there is someone to see you.”
Marek’s eyes widened, and an invisible force must have punched him in the chest, because he couldn’t breathe. This was not how it was supposed to go down.
He wasn’t ready.
Not at work.
He’d told Adrian he would pick him up.
But the sight in front of him stole his breath away and wouldn’t give it back.
Adrian wasn’t the athletic-but-very-slim teenager Marek remembered. He had grown taller. His elfin features had sharpened with age, but he hadn’t lost the playfulness that had always been ingrained in his pronounced cheekbones and incredibly pale eyes that were even more noticeable next to his sun-kissed skin. His hair was longer as well, a wild tumble of blond curls gathered into a bird’s-nest-like bun on top of his head.
It was May, but Adrian wore a pair of colorful flip-flops that were a sharp contrast with his pale, tattered jeans. His shirt had some kind of print, but Marek mostly noticed how it exposed Adrian’s tanned shoulders, which were now covered by an array of tattoos. They weren’t the usual pictures or writing but bold blocks of black, creating firm, masculine patterns that made Marek wonder where else the ink could be.
Adrian sped up, all but running toward him, with a huge backpack wiggling with his every step. “Marek, it’s been so damn long since I last saw you,” he said with a smile so brilliant it could blind Marek with less effort than the sun outside. Adrian hadn’t shaved, and his fair stubble shone on his skin like pieces of gold thread, which Marek suddenly wanted to touch.
Adrian pulled him into a hug.
In front of the whole office.