Read Promises 2 Online

Authors: A.E. Via

Promises 2

Advertising Download Read Online

 

Promises – Part Two

Bounty Hunters

Published By: Via Star Wings Books

Copyright © March 2016 

Edited By: Ally Editorial Services

http://allyeditorialservices.weebly.com/

Cover Art By: Jay Aheer of Simply Defined Art

Formatting & Illustrations By: Fancy Pants Formatting

http://www.fancypantsformatting.com

All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright

Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author, Adrienne E. Via.

No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded, or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without permission from Adrienne E. Via. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.

Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights and livelihood is appreciated.

 

Trademark Acknowledgments

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following trademarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

7- Eleven: 7-Eleven, Inc.

Adidas: adidas America Inc.

Atlanta Falcons: NFL Enterprises LLC.

Berluti: BERLUTI

Busch Gardens: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

Chevy Suburban: General Motors

Dolby: Dolby Laboratories

F350: Ford Motor Company

FedEx: FedEx

Food Network: Television Food Network G.P.

Hanes: Hanesbrands Inc.

IHOP: IHOP Restaurants LLC

Johnnie Walker: Imported by Diageo

Kenneth Cole: Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc.

Keurig: Keurig Green Mountain, Inc.

Lifetime: Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks.

Macy’s: Macy’s, Inc. (formerly known as Federated Department Stores, Inc.)

Marlboro: PHILIP MORRIS USA INC.

McDonald’s: McDonald’s

Mercedes: Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC

Mickey Mouse: Walt Disney Productions

Mustang: Ford Motor Company

NFL: NFL Enterprises LLC.

North Face: The North Face, A VF Company

OnStar: OnStar, LLC.

Prius: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Range Rover: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC

Stetson Cologne: Coty, Inc

Subway: Subway IP Inc.

Tide: Procter & Gamble

TMZ: EHM PRODUCTIONS, INC.

Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe's

Uber: Uber Technologies Inc.

Velcro: Velcro Industries B.V.

YouTube: Google Inc.

Jeffrey Osborne - "Yes I'm Ready"

 

 

Acknowledgements

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Biography

Also by A.E. Via

I’d like to thank everyone that helped me put Quick and Cayson’s story together.

My family

My team

My friends

 

Loves

Adrienne

Quick

Quick slid out of his Range Rover, squinting up at the light breaking through the dawn. He loved this time of the day. Quiet, peaceful. Before the hustle and bustle of the laborers in the city began their day. Atlanta in the winter was beautiful to him, January and February being his favorite months. Most of the leaves had fallen from the trees, and as he walked, he enjoyed the loud crunch they made under his black, steel toe boots. He let his long hair hang for a while, the still-damp strands sending a pleasant chill through him. Propping himself against the large Magnolia tree next to their modest one-story building, he inhaled the smell of nature before it was time to pick up Atlanta’s trash . If he still smoked, it’d be a great time to inhale a few drags to calm his mind. But, since he didn’t, inhaling the big city air would have to do. It was probably just as toxic.

He saw that Duke’s midnight black F350 was already in its usual spot, closest to the side entrance.He’s sure here early.His friend had begun to sleep in on some mornings, he’d been on two brief vacations, and Quick had lost count on the unscheduled days off Duke now took at will.

Duke wasn’t only his best friend since they were still young enough to chase tail; he was also his business partner – and almost son-in-law. Yep, they were a typical American family. It’d been a couple months since Quick’s one and only son confessed his love for his best friend and saved his life by giving one of his kidneys to Duke while he was on his death bed. Now the two were connected in a way that was immune to destruction and disgustingly sweet.

Regardless, Quick was happy for his friend. His son Vaughan had always been a levelheaded, determined individual. Though Vaughan was ten years younger than Duke, he had to admit that they were perfect together. Quick and Duke were both in their early forties, but the new pep in Duke’s step made him look younger and more striking every day. It was about time one of them got their happily ever after. Duke had always been more romantic than him, though. Quick was accustomed to his comfortable, isolated life. He went to work, caught bad guys, kicked ass, hung with buddies here and there, and then went home… alone. He could do that for the rest of his life. Adding another person into the mix only complicated shit.


Page 2

“Rome! You going to work today, or not? Out here sight-seeing at nothing.” Duke’s deep voice yelled from the open door.

Quick threw up his middle finger before pushing off the base of the massive tree and making his way up the bricked walkway. “Can’t a man have a few minutes of peace?”

“Not on my fucking dime, he can’t. Now get in here, we have two skips today and Dana is heading over to Fulton to do a bond.” Duke was rattling off the day’s business, already in full steam ahead mode. His energy level through the roof at five a.m.Pfft. I wonder why.

Quick’s steps were heavy along the all-wooden floor. He made a beeline for the still-dripping pot of coffee and poured himself a large cup, not caring about interrupting the flow. He’d slept like shit last night. Although Vaughan hadn’t lived with him very long after he returned from law school, he’d still liked the idea of cooking for two again, of sitting on the patio and discussing his day with his son while they drank a few brews. That had actually been pretty cool. But Vaughan had moved in with Duke fairly fast, so Quick found himself arriving earlier for work than usual and was typically the last to leave.

Duke was going on about where they were headed, but Quick only had one ear tuned in, his other was on… well, anything besides Duke. He dropped down into his chair and spun until his back was to his friend and he could focus on the serenity of the morning outside the large window.

“…Should be a clean pick up. Brian and Ford will be here any minute and we’ll roll out.” Duke finished up, and Quick nodded, still facing the window. He liked going out with the two brothers. They were efficient, sharp, and most of all, strong as oxen. It didn’t even bother him that Brian had yet to speak a word to any of them, still using sign language as his means of communication. Quick’s head jerked up when he heard the door open, expecting it to be the towering brothers. It wasn’t.

“Vaughan, what are you doing here?” Quick stood and hugged his son. They’d just seen each other the night before for dinner, but a hug was their customary greeting. Quick looked his son up and down, frowning at his attire. Noting that he was again dressed like a model, not a lawyer. His blue suit matched the light gray dress shirt he wore under a white and gray vest. No tie and ridiculously expensive gray suede shoes.

“Hopefully he’s here to see me,” Duke said, leaning casually against his office door. Vaughan completely forgot about answering his father and made his way over to his lover. Quick turned away when he saw their lips connect almost violently, cringing at the sounds that emanated from them.

“Damn, Duke, don’t you have enough spit of your own?” Quick grumbled.

The sound of laughter was his okay to turn back around. His son was wiping his mouth, staring at him like he’d ruined the best kiss ever. “I was on my way downtown and thought I’d stop in and—”

Vaughan was cut off when the door burst open again, another gust of cool air rushing in along with the two brothers. Since they were going out in the field on recoveries, they wore all black, including thick leather pants and coats to protect them if they had to scuffle with anyone. When you were a bounty hunter, the bail skippers didn’t always come willingly. Underestimating how badly someone valued their freedom could result in you being critically injured or in death – something Duke had experienced when he was practically beaten to death by some strung out drug addicts who would rather kill than go back to prison. Duke and Quick had been bounty hunters for almost twenty-five years, they knew this business, and they were the best. Not only did Duke have his own bail bonds business, but he also did bail recovery for other companies, while their other business partner, Judge, ran the private investigations office. 

There was plenty of work to go around and to keep Quick’s mind off other things. Quick watched as Duke walked his son to the door, his large hand at his back, his mouth close to his ear. Spinning his chair again, he noticed that Brian was staring at him with an amused look on his arrogant, handsome face.

“What?” Quick barked. Knowing Brian wouldn’t respond – like always – he got a soft shrug, but no words. Working together for the last few months, they’d quickly become comfortable with each other

Ford came in from their small break room, which consisted of a couple tables, a forty-two inch television, a microwave, and refrigerator. Most of them still ate at their desks because they were constantly communicating and exchanging information. Duke was the only one with an office. The rest of them had large desks placed throughout the open space. Dropping down into his large, executive-style chair, the mechanisms groaned and squeaked at the sheer weight and bulk of Bradford King.

Out of the corner of his eye, Quick saw Brian’s hands move in a quick series of gestures and his brother snorted at whatever was communicated to him. “You sure you’re okay with your son dating Duke?” Bradford asked, his grin barely there.

“That’s a stupid question. Vaughan saved his life. They’re in love. Case closed,” Quick mumbled, still not making eye contact with his colleagues. He fired up his computer so he could have somewhere to direct his attention other than on the speculative glances he kept getting.

Brian’s hands moved again. If you blinked, you’d miss it. Ford responded, “You’re right Brian. He didn’t answer the question.”

Quick rolled his eyes, but decided to stay hidden behind his monitor instead of delving further into the topic. He wasn’t bothered that Duke and his son were together. He was upset because he’d thought he and Duke would eventually be grumpy old men together. It was stupid, but it was the truth. He could admit it to himself, if no one else. When Duke and Vaughan first sealed their commitment, Quick was actually happy. Duke was a damn good man; he knew his son’s heart was safe. That’s what every parent wanted, right? But some of their long-held traditions began to change pretty quickly. Instead of going out for beer and darts after a hard bust, Duke opted to go home and be with Vaughan, leaving Quick to unwind by himself or with the King brothers. Duke used to come over for dinner at least three or four times a week, now Quick was lucky if he came over once. Who could blame him? Vaughan was an even better cook than him. Duke and he used to laugh at couples who went to dinner parties and game nights with other couples, but now his friend bragged about being the king of Win, Loose, or Draw among Vaughan’s lawyer friends. Friends Quick wasn’t asked to meet. Even his internal quarrel made him feel like a jilted bitch.

Quick simply needed to find something to do with his free time. Or at least with the time he used to spend with Duke.

Cayson

“What is it that you’re so afraid of, huh? Did you have a bad experience? You can tell me. Then maybe we can work through this.” Cayson’s voice was shaky when he spoke up again. He wanted to pretend what Joe had just done wasn’t degrading and humiliating, but it was difficult to hide his feelings. He couldn’t ignore the simmering heat he felt on his cheeks and the sweat beading along his hairline as he picked up the tossed bottle of lube from the foot of the bed. When he’d tried to give it to Joe to get him prepped, the man had damn near thrown up on him before slapping the thin, clear bottle from his hands.

“No! No, I didn’t have a bad experience! I just don’t want to play with your asshole, Cayson! Why is that so hard to understand? Not all men are into anal.” Joe was already throwing his legs over the edge of the bed, stuffing his feet into Cayson’s leather slippers. “Now I’ve lost my dang erection.”

Cayson squeezed his eyes shut when Joe closed himself inside his bathroom, slamming the door hard enough to make him flinch.Why do I even bother?Cayson and Joe had been off and on since they’d first met in the OR at Piedmont Hospital, three years ago. Joe was – and still is – a deeply closeted anesthesiologist. At fucking forty-two years old, he was still afraid of his grandfather, a big name in the hospital’s administration. Joe had even gone as far as taking a job at a hospital on the other side of town when Cayson started wanting more and had begun winking at him in the halls or in the lab. Now they only saw each other periodically. It definitely was a friends with benefits type of thing, but Cayson always screwed up when he started to want more. Joe would never give him more than what they had. Cayson was his uncomfortable little secret.

They typically had a good time between the sheets, when Joe relaxed enough. There was a lot of stroking, kissing, and sucking when they got their hands on each other, but Joe still considered it fucking, even though he wouldn’t penetrate Cayson, or let him do him. He thought he couldn’t be labeled as gay if he didn’t actually fuck Cayson in the commonly accepted definition of the word. Frowning again at the absurdity, Cayson stood and began to pull some clothes out of his dresser. He heard the bathroom door open, but didn’t bother to turn around. His cock still ached, so did his ass. It clenched in anticipation, only to be rebuffed again. He was so done with this.You said that the last three times.

~~~~~~~~

“Dr. Chauncey, your three o’clock is here,” his nurse called through his speakerphone.

“Thanks, Nania, send him in.”

Cayson smiled while he straightened a few papers on his desk and closed a couple of strewn files. Duke and Vaughan had become more than just his patients; they were considered friends now. Although hewasstill waiting on his invitation to football night or something, anything. He thought he knew why they were keeping him at bay for now. Cayson had an overwhelmingly sinking feeling it had a lot to do with Quick. Cayson was the attending surgeon and Nephrology case manager for Duke and Vaughan’s kidney transplant. He’d been so blown away by the love and dedication the men had for each other that he couldn’t resist doing everything in his power to give them a real chance. He didn’t think he’d ever worked so hard on a case.

It made Cayson believe that miracles were real. If a man as sensual and stunning as Vaughan could swoop in like a comic book hero and save a man like Duke – who was no spring chicken, but gorgeous all the same, then there had to be some kind of hope for a decent human being like himself. He pushed his hand through his dirty-blond hair. He’d been letting it grow a little more on the top since Joe had mentioned that he thought Cayson’s longer hair was sexy. Hating where his mind had gone again, he jerked his head up at the sharp knock and the twist of his doorknob, telling the two lovers to come in.

He stood and came from behind his desk. He hugged Duke first. The contact was strong and sincere. The man didn’t look a day over thirty. His fit body filled one of the two large client chairs as he eased down into it. Cayson noticed Duke’s careful movements and made a mental note to ask about it. But, first, he looked Vaughan up and down, giving him a friendly look of approval. Duke blushed a little when Vaughan sat close to him and ran his hand over his thick mop of black and silver hair, which lay waywardly all over Duke’s head. But damn if it didn’t work.

“So what have you two been up to?” Cayson smiled, loosening his green and silver necktie. Vaughan grinned and nodded at the gesture, and Cayson just realized that it was the tie Vaughan gave him for his birthday a couple months ago. It was his favorite. With a light chuckle, he smoothed down the silky fabric before continuing looking through Duke’s chart. “Work got you staying busy?”

“Me, or…?” Duke asked, letting the question trail off.

Vaughan gave Duke what looked like a reprimanding glare, but the look was returned with heat and passion. Cayson had to loosen his tie a little more as he waited for the two men to have their moment. Vaughan finally spoke up first. “He tumbled down a flight of stairs with a three hundred pound man. His ribs took a beating.”

“How come I wasn’t notified of this?” Cayson aggressively fingered through a couple previous pages to see if he missed an ER visit documented in Duke’s file, but he hadn’t. “You didn’t get any X-rays done? What the hell, Duke?”

“I told you he’d be mad.” Vaughan whistled low, giving Duke a look of pity.

“Oh, shut up, troublemaker,” Duke groused.

“On the table, Duke.” Cayson got up and went over to the far right side of his office where he had an exam table and sink. When Duke hesitated, Cayson threw in a forceful, “Now” for emphasis.

“It was just some bruising. No big deal. I’ve had cracked ribs before, they were way worse than this. Besides, Quick took the real beating. I was on top of the pile. He’s the one all fucked up.”

Cayson’s hands froze while lifting Duke’s shirt.Quick. Is he hurt? Is he okay? Did he go to the ER?Duke noticed Cayson’s pause, his dark brow raised slightly in amusement.Great. Cayson could feel his face heating.Not now.Anytime Duke mentioned Quick, all Cayson could think about was how he’d embarrassed himself by flirting with an obvious straight stud who was so far out of his league it was ridiculous. Quick had shot him down so fast it’d made his head spin, and Cayson hadn’t fully recovered before he was thrown out of the man’s home like the filthy slut his behavior resembled.


Page 3

“You okay, Doc?” Duke asked, reclining on the table and lifting his black t-shirt. Vaughan stood on the opposite side, absently stroking Duke’s large biceps with one hand while his other hand flew across the keyboard on his phone.

Duke smiled shyly. “Lawyers, huh?”

Cayson smiled, but was still distracted as he pressed a few tender spots on Duke’s abdomen before working his way over his ribs. Duke was right. They most likely weren’t fractured, but the man needed to be careful out in the field. He may look gorgeous, but his body was still its age and it had taken a hard setback last year. Vaughan and Duke both took great care of themselves and exercised regularly, but he worried about the aggressively physical nature of Duke’s work.

“Duke, I need you to be more careful, man. If the bruises weren’t already healing, I’d have you downstairs getting some images taken, but I’m pretty confident you’re just bruised.” He palpated a few more areas, which Duke seemed fine with, then told him he could get up. All the other tests and bloodwork were good on both of them. Life after a transplant could be difficult if you didn’t have a good case manager to watch for signs of trouble. It’d been almost nine months since the surgery, and Cayson couldn’t be happier with the results. He’d hate for all his hard work to be undone because of a perp who skipped bail. But that was Duke’s life.

“I promise, Doc. More careful, and no more dancing with men bigger than me.” Duke pulled his shirt down and climbed off the table.

Although Cayson’s back was to them, he heard their kiss and whispered promises to each other before they rejoined him. Settling back behind his desk, he tried to play uninterested when he asked, “So, um. Roman got hurt. Did he see a doctor?”

“Yeah, right. Since there were no protruding bones or visible blood, he felt no need. But, personally, I think his ribs might be worse off than mine. Stubborn bastard took on three men, ignoring my call to pull back.”

Cayson squirmed in his chair. Thinking of the big, bad bounty hunter caused reactions in his body that he had no control over, often leaving him embarrassed and ashamed. But Quick fighting three men, that sounded like damn good jerk off material. There was no denying the exceptional amount of lust that snaked through him when it came to Quick, no other way to describe it. It wasn’t love. He didn’t know him well enough for that. But it was electric, for sure. Facing Roman, especially going to his home again, wasn’t a good idea at all.

“I would feel more comfortable if he got it checked out. His cheek is still swollen, too.” Vaughan nodded, agreeing with Duke. Cayson peered at booth of them over his paperwork. “I can recommend someone.”

“Quick would never agree to that.”

“I doubt he’ll agree to me treating him, either.” Cayson focused on keeping his expression blank, even though saying that out loud hurt like a bitch. It was how he showed himself, how he shined. By caring, healing. It really was the only thing he was good at. But Quick hadn’t let Cayson touch him since he’d stitched up the gash in his arm, months ago. Cayson tried to pour as much care into that menial procedure as he could, but Quick had still left the ER without as much as a “See you later,” or “I’ll talk to you soon.” He got nothing but a canceled follow-up appointment.

“Dr. Chauncey, please go check on him. He’s as stubborn as the day is long, but I don’t think he’d react the same way he did before.” Cayson knew what Vaughan was referring to. He groaned and closed Duke’s file, digging the pads of his thumbs into his dry eye sockets. He checked his watch. It was almost four. Duke was his last appointment, but they didn’t know that. He could make up something. Only thing was, he was a terrible liar and his gut gnawed at him to go check on the big man.

“He’s probably not home,” Cayson said quietly, checking his watch again.

“Yes he is,” Duke and Vaughan said, in perfect unison.

Damn these two.Cayson hadn’t been able to resist either one of them since they’d barged into his life. Looking into Vaughan’s concerned eyes; he sighed and reached for his intercom button. “Nania, are you still here?”

“Yes, doctor. Just getting ready to head out. You need something?” She sounded tired. Cayson had a hectically full schedule. He was one of the managing board members of the Nephrology transplant team in addition to being a well sought out surgeon. Not to mention the number of hours he volunteered in the ER to let the doctors who had families have some time off.

“Do we have a radio portable available to check out?” His question was met with curious gazes from across his desk while he waited for his nurse to respond.Those things are never available.The hospital only had four of the tablet-style portable X-ray radios, so the odds of him….

“We actually have two available, Dr. Chauncey. Do you want me to check one out for you?”

Cayson cleared his throat in surprise. “Yes, please. Thank you, Nania. You can go on home now.”

“Good night, Doctor.”

Cayson stood and began packing a small bag with supplies he thought he’d need from the cabinet behind his desk. He even got a heat wrap, maybe Quick would let him massage some of the strained muscles he must have.Wishful thinking. He’d grab the radio tablet on his way out.

“I really appreciate this, Cayson.”

He didn’t know what to say to Duke or even how to look him in the eye. Did he tell him how scared he was to face Quick? Particularly an injured Quick. Tell him that he wasn’t sure he could control himself, or his bodily fluids? His fucked up whatever the hell it was with Joe was becoming increasingly silly and immature. All the humping and grinding made him feel like he was a nervous virgin, too scared to go all the way. He needed to be touched, loved, fucked hard up against the wall. Didn’t he deserve that as much as the next man?

“We’ll walk you out.” Vaughan stood and buttoned his jacket. Cayson watched Duke appreciatively scan Vaughan’s entire six-foot frame before he stood himself.

Feeling the warmth from the men in his office, his jealously was there, riding him, making him edgy, quick to get upset and cop an attitude, because he knew he was deserving of the same treatment Duke was getting. Where the fuck were all the men like Vaughan? Cayson tried to remain calm as he threw a couple files still on his desk into his vintage cowhide messenger bag. He wouldn’t act like a ridiculous child with these great men and piss on their picnic basket. He just needed to find his own picnic.

He tossed a couple more files in, just in case Quick threw him out on his ass again, giving him time to do some work at home. The thought made him want to change his mind. He was done with the mistreatment – if it meant being alone, so be it – but no more allowing men to walk all over Dr. Cayson Chauncey.There. Oath to self, made.

Quick

Quick finished his long shower. He’d let the scalding hot water beat on his back and side for as long as he could stand it. His ribs screamed in protest any time he turned too fast, squatted or bent over, and he was beginning to think he may have fractured a couple. His chest ached when he breathed, but again, he self-diagnosed, contending it was only tenderness… nothing more. He reached into his top chest drawer and pulled out some boxer briefs, but when he thought of bending twice to put on his underwear and pants, he opted for his thin cotton lounging pants and no shirt. Lifting his right arm, he gingerly touched the black and purple bruises all along his torso.Fuck me.

What had he been thinking? What was he trying to prove? Watching Ford and Brian toss men around and beat them like it was a sport had Quick wanting to show off his shit, too. He was martial arts trained since he was a teen. Three fuckin’ men were barely a challenge, but he always had to remember to keep his anger from rising to levels that caused him to act without considering the consequences. He’d easily taken the first two, kicking one in the nuts while he held the other in a tight chokehold. Then the third scared bastard had slammed into him from behind, sending all of them crashing down the apartment building’s concrete stairs. Those damn steps had to be what had done the most damage to his body. But, still high on adrenaline, Quick ignored Duke’s orders and got back on his feet, stomping bodies until he reached their bounty.

Now he was home hiding, because Duke was pissed off at him for taking unnecessary risks, which he no doubt had told his son by now, so he knew without checking what all the missed calls and angry texts from Vaughan were about. It’d been almost five days since the bust, and he couldn’t ignore his son or his best friend forever. However strong he considered himself to be, there was no way he was going back into the field right now. A few more days of recovery were definitely needed.

He’d just tied his still-wet hair back in a loose ponytail at the base of his neck. Rubbing on a thin layer of deodorant and a little aftershave, he was slowly making his way downstairs when he heard a firm knock on his front door.

“Oh, no,” he grumbled, not in the mood for Vaughan or Duke’s antics tonight. He frowned when the knock became louder and more persistent. It couldn’t be them. They would’ve used their key after the first knock. He couldn’t run down the stairs, so whoever was at the door had better be patient. That thought wasn’t even done before there was another knock… more like a banging.

“Stop knocking on my damn door like that!” Quick shouted from the second landing. He was trying to navigate the short distance between him and the front door, but was moving slowly. Using his leaf blower in the yard earlier today probably wasn’t a great idea, but he’d never been one to sit around and wallow in pain. He came from a long line of tough men. His father worked their farm through every ailment he ever got, so did his grandfather. Surely, Quick could do the same.

When he unlocked the bolt, he twisted the knob and was almost knocked back off his feet when he saw Dr. Chauncey – um, Cayson – standing there on his porch with his large medical bag at his feet. He had on a puffy, mid-thigh, black North Face parka with the large hood trimmed with tawny brown fur. He looked adorable all bundled up and rosy cheeked from the brisk temperature.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to knock like I’m the police. I got a little worried when it took a while. I came… um… Duke told me… he said maybe I should come by. Totally his idea. I promise I’m not just swinging by. As a matter of fact, I think it’s rather rude to stop by unannounced, but Duke said—”

“Cayson, would you like to come in and get out of the cold for a bit?” Quick smiled, pulling the door open wider. The man was blabbering like a silly fool. But Quick new exactly why Cayson was nervous about coming into his home again. He’d make sure the man felt welcome this time.

He wasn’t typically an asshole, especially to nice doctors who saved his best friend’s life, but damn if Cayson didn’t catch him off guard that afternoon he’d come home to find the sexy doctor in his personal space. He was supposed to be there to check up on Duke and Vaughan’s recovery, but Cayson was examining everything but his patients when Quick had come in wearing his bounty hunting gear. Those focused, blue eyes brazenly surveyed him like he was a piece of USDA prime rib in a butcher’s window. He could see Cayson’s chest rise and fall with his elevated, lustful breathing. But to do it right in front of his son and Duke, that wasn’t cool. He was a private man. If the doctor was interested in him, then he should’ve approached Quick privately and asked him out like a real man, not used trickery.

He’d been attracted to men in the past – very deep past – but he’d married a woman and had dated a couple more after the divorce. Now, this handsome, sexy, slightly nerdy in a charming way surgeon was rapidly igniting embers that hadn’t burned in a long time, and Quick had handled it badly, scaring Cayson off. He’d promised Duke and Vaughan that he’d fix it. He’d call the doctor and apologize, make things right, but he hadn’t. He’d copped out. Nerves. Anxiety. Maybe even fear had gripped and held him fast.

“Actually, I wouldn’t mind coming in. Thank you.” Cayson took a breath between ramblings and hefted his large bag to step across the threshold.

Quick immediately noticed Cayson scanning his chest as he walked by, but he didn’t take offense this time. The man was a doctor and Quick was riddled with bruises. It was clear Cayson had been sent by his son or Duke to check him out. “I already know why you’re here. Thank you for coming.”

Cayson was in the process of pulling off his thick coat. He looked a little shocked, and Quick suppressed a grin. Seeing the doctor confused and uncertain was quite entertaining. “I thought I’d have to wrestle you down to examine you.” Cayson closed his eyes and grimaced at his choice of words, but this time, Quick couldn’t hold in his chuckle. “That’s not what I meant. I just… I thought… I wasn’t sure, I mean, if you’d let me examine you. I swear I can be professional. I won’t make you uncomfortable. I really think we got off on the wrong foot last time I was here.”

Quick went into the living room and didn’t stop until he was standing close enough to the doctor for him to smell his aftershave. Cayson hastily diverted his eyes from Quick’s, like he was being extra careful how he looked at him, and he began to nervously dig in his bag, coming up with a device that looked like a twelve-inch tablet.


Page 4

“And that is?” Quick hadn’t moved. He knew he was flustering the doctor with his proximity, but he had a purpose for doing it. He hadn’t called Cayson because he wasn’t sure the man would be willing to forgive him for being a massive asshole, especially after everything he’d had done for his family. However, he was here. He’d come, regardless that Quick had yet to apologize.

Cayson was doing everything to keep from looking directly at Quick. Now he was desperately searching for an electrical outlet for his machine. “This is a radio portable X-ray. It uses digital imaging technology to compact the images so I can immediately see any broken bones, fractures, or whatever other abnormalities may be there. It’s very accurate and eliminates having to go and wait in the radiology department. Or for patients who can’t get to a hospital.”

Quick smiled. Damn, the man was so smart and sweet. “You brought this over here for me?”

“Well,” Cayson said slowly. “I brought a few things. I wanted to be sure to check you over real good.” Cayson’s cheeks flooded with color when the words left his lips. He scrunched his brow and waved his hand in the air. “You know what I meant. Would you mind lying down in your recliner? It’ll be easier for me to move around you… unless you were busy… like about to put on more clothes or something.”

Quick’s smirk was fuckin’ sinister before he  slowly walked over to his large, brown leather recliner, which was positioned in front of his big screen television, and pulled the handle until he was lying almost flat. He could easily sleep in his chair. He lifted his arms, making sure his biceps flexed along with the movement, and linked his fingers behind his head. “Nope. I’m all yours. Examine away.”

 

Cayson

What the fuckin’ fuck?Quick was practically naked. Okay. What kind of game was this? Screw with the horny, gay man’s willpower. Did Duke know that Quick walked around his house like this? In various stages of undress? Why wasn’t he warned? Fuck the fact he wasn’t wearing a stich of underwear under those thin-ass cotton pants that hung low enough to show his enticing trail of damp, sandy brown hair along his stomach and above his pubic bone, but he was shirtless and still smelling heavenly from the shower Cayson must’ve interrupted. Even Quick’s long hair was still dripping small beads of moisture. Oh, but that large chest was so hard to ignore. Muscles, bulges, and vibrant tattoos were everywhere, and damn if the bruises didn’t make Quick look like the bad boy Cayson had heard he was.

Damnit, now he was getting hard. He knew better than to ogle Quick like that. Did he want a repeat of the last time he was here?Shit, shit. “Um. I’m gonna go wash my hands.” Cayson darted down the hall, making a hasty retreat behind the bathroom door. He washed his hands three times before splashing cool water on his face. He needed to calm down. He just wasn’t sure how. He had a walking, talking, wet dream waiting for him to give him a complete exam. He counted backwards from twenty twice while he composed himself. He noticed that Quick had changed the wallpaper in his bathroom since the last time he’d been there. It was good that Quick took so much pride in his home. If Cayson had ever been officially invited, he’d probably feel more welcome to explore the nice space, but he didn’t get that feeling when he was here. He wasn’t quite sure what welcome even felt like. He definitely wasn’t welcome at Joe’s house.

The portable X-ray device was already fully charged, but Cayson had plugged it in anyway, to put some much-needed breathing room between him and his new patient.That’s right, be professional. He’s a patient, not a lover.He could do this, right? He could professionally examine Quick as a favor to a friend. He’d done countless favors for others. This was no different. He’d performed mouth to snout on a dog before; surely, he could handle this. Cayson unplugged the tablet and shook his head at his own weirdness.Where’s the correlation between helping a dog and fawning over Quick?

Huffing softly and sending up a fast prayer for strength, he powered up the device and stood next to Quick’s outstretched chair. He cleared his throat a couple times before he was able to speak. “You can put on a shirt if you want. The device can be used over several layers of clothing, actually.” Cayson tried to appear unfazed, but he had a feeling he was failing, because Quick wasn’t budging to cover himself.

“Nope. I had a really hot shower, so I’m trying to cool off,” Quick said easily.

“Oh, okay. Of course. You should be comfortable in your own home.” Cayson cursed under his breath and turned around to let the device finish booting up the software. He noticed the tablet screen moving annoyingly as he tried unsuccessfully to punch in his identification and password. He was shaking.Shit. Stop it. Stop it. Be cool.Otherwise, he’d find his ass back on the curb again. Roman “Quick” Webb was just another patient. The thought was barely formed before Cayson was telling himself how much of a lie it was.

“I’m not making you uncomfortable, am I?” Quick asked, running his large hand across the top half of his chest, his nipples responding immediately. That voice.Fuck. Deep and sensual. He imagined Quick whispering in his ear. That decadent, gravelly baritone could probably bring him to the brink of orgasm without him even being touched. How he’d love to test that theory.

“No. I’m fine,” Cayson lied, swallowing a huge lump of nothing in his throat. He dropped back down and fumbled through his bag again.Gloves!He’d put on gloves to limit the skin on skin contact.Start with the basics.Still urging himself to stay calm, Cayson took out a traditional blood pressure cuff and slid it up Quick’s corded forearm and over his tattooed biceps. The cuff was barely large enough. Cayson probably squeezed the bulb harder than needed, but he appreciated the distraction for his hands. The Velcro crackled and popped as it inflated, but Cayson masterfully adjusted the valve and was able to get a good reading on the gauge. He recorded the numbers and jotted a couple notes down on a small pad. He’d record the details properly in a file later. 

Back down on one knee next to Quick’s plush armrest, Cayson continued his thorough exam. With his stethoscope secured around his neck and the ear pieces snug in his ear canals, he gently placed the diaphragm over Quick’s lungs, applying a little pressure on the bell. He whispered softly, “Breathe deep for me, Roman.” Sharp green eyes focused on his every move as Quick’s chest rose and fell with his breaths. He usually didn’t mind being scrutinized, he was too damn good at his job to be nervous, but Quick’s undivided attention had him shaking like a leaf. Cayson listened for any wheezes or crackles, satisfied after a minute or so that Quick didn’t have any constrictions or fluid in his lungs. He listened longer to the lub-dub sounds of Quick’s heart, noting no murmurs. Last was his abdomen.

Cayson angled his face away from Quick’s eyes and tried to calm his hands, but when he moved down Quick’s torso, he became too aware of how sexy his body was.Just examine him like normal. Cayson gingerly placed the bell of his stethoscope over the fine, straight hairs covering Quick’s rippled stomach. Even through his gloves, the hair was silky and smooth to the touch. Cayson groaned inwardly. No matter how much he tried to avoid touching, his wrists and forearms continuously grazed Quick’s belly while he listened. He needed to focus on the distinctive gurgling of the stomach, not how much hair was below that low-riding waistband. 

Cayson closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to will his erection to stop growing, because when he’d braved a look further down Quick’s body, he noticed a pretty prominent bulge through those thin pants.What the hell?Was Quick fucking with him so Cayson would slip up and then Quick could throw him out again? Deciding to ignore it, Cayson yanked off his stethoscope and moved on to the X-ray tablet. He needed to get this exam over with. He’d make sure Quick wasn’t dying and then hightail it out of there before he got his feelings hurt… like usual.

Scribbling hastily in his notepad, Cayson picked up the tablet and pushed the necessary keys to start the imaging. He slowly moved the tablet over Quick’s chest and stomach, paying extra close attention to the clear images on the screen. He noted each bone in his upper torso. Glad his mind was fully focused, Cayson quickly found the small, hairline fractures on ribs seven and eight, but no other signs of breaks or floating segments. That was a very good thing. Duke and Vaughan could rest assured that Quick would heal and be on his way to kicking ass again in no time. He wanted to tell him to be careful. Don’t take stupid risks. There was a shortage of gorgeous, older men in this world, and it’d be a damn shame to lose him or Duke.

Cayson removed the latex gloves with an audible snap before he asked Quick to roll over onto the side without the fractures. He palpitated the area around some significant bruising, but Quick didn’t make a sound. “Any tenderness here?” Cayson asked, pressing a little more firmly around Quick’s kidneys.

“Nope.”

“Are you being honest?”

“Of course, I am. I wouldn’t lie to you, Doc.” Quick’s voice was muffled by the thick cushions of his recliner, but the tone was suggestive. Cayson couldn’t have been imagining this, but he wouldn’t take the bait. He couldn’t trust Quick, he was confusing and unpredictable.

He moved up and around Quick’s spinal column with both hands, observing Quick for a painful reaction or sound. Instead, all that came were grunts of what sounded like pleasure. Cayson was nervous to even ask. What kind of exam was this? He should’ve been asking more questions, but goddamn Quick’s voice and that long expanse of beautiful tan skin along Quick’s back.

“Any soreness along your spine?”

“No. Just on my side.” Quick pointed right to the fractures.

“Yeah. You have a couple simple fractures, sometimes called hairline fractures, right there where you have your hand,” Cayson informed him.

“That’s explains why it hurts some when I take a deep breath,” Quick said.

“Yep. I know you’ve had them before, so you know the pain will subside with time. No additional treatment is necessary. But I’d say you’ve got about a good couple weeks of tenderness.” Cayson was still rubbing up and down Quick’s back while he spoke softly, carefully grazing over the bruises. He didn’t even realize what he was doing until he heard Quick exhale slowly before moaning a rough, masculine sound. Pulling his hands away as if Quick had burst into flames, Cayson tapped him on the shoulder. “You can turn back over.”

Why’d he say that? When Quick was flat on his back again Cayson couldn’t’ve stopped the gasp if he’d been forewarned. Quick was full-on hard. His cock spiking a massive teepee in his pajama pants.Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.Why was this happening to him? He was trying so hard to be professional. This shit had to be a joke, but he wasn’t laughing. He stood all the way up and tossed his few tools back inside his bag. Swallowing the saliva pooling in his mouth, and fighting his wood again, he couldn’t help but chance another inconspicuous look at… at…Oh, god. There was plenty of hair around that hard cock. He could see it as clear as those X-ray images. Quick had to be at least eight or nine inches of mouthwatering firmness. Cayson’s hole clenched with need. He needed all that firmness pushed deep in his—

“As you can see, the equipment still works fine,” Quick whispered, winking at him as he uselessly pushed his hand on his own cock in an effort to force it down… but it didn’t work. It kept springing back up like a proud soldier.

“Fuck you,” Cayson murmured, confident he wasn’t heard since his back was still to Quick as he closed up his bag. He saw the syringes and knew he still needed to take a couple vials of blood to test that all Quick’s organs were functioning fine, but he was actually fighting doing the right thing. He wanted to say screw it and leave Quick to be responsible for his own health care. Cayson always had everyone else’s best interest at heart, constantly neglecting his own. It was his life story. 

His whole life, people made him the brunt of very bad jokes and pranks, but this took the title by far. He was here as a favor. Taking time out of his life – never mind that it was boring as fuck – to do an exam for free outside of his work hours, and this is how they treated him. It was such an unoriginal storyline. Straight hunk tempts the lonely gay man into confessing his feelings, only to take offense to it right after. Classic one. Ignoring the rising anger inside him at his own inability to even come close to compromising his oath, he took out the tourniquet, syringe, an antiseptic wipe, and two vials. Putting another pair of gloves on, cursing himself for touching Quick’s bare skin in the first place, he knelt down next to Quick’s still-reclined chair, doing everything in his power to avoid the large tent in the room.

“You gonna stick me with that? Will it hurt?” Quick asked, amused, but Cayson failed to see the humor.

Keeping his eyes downcast, his cheeks burned with humiliation. His cock was still half-hard, despite his irritation, and that made him angrier still. As he fought his most basic desires, tiny beads of sweat began to pop up on the back of his neck, dampening his hairline, before they ran down his spine, causing him to squirm uncomfortably. He saw Quick push at his own dick again, drawing Cayson’s attention to the action. Couldn’t have been Cayson making him so aroused. 


Page 5

He hurriedly tied the tourniquet and wiped the alcohol pad across the crease in the middle of Quick’s arm. He opened the needle – and like always – took a calming breath before he stuck his patient. He wouldn’t be an ass and stick him hard, when Cayson knew how to do it without the patient feeling the slightest pinch. Instead, he angled the syringe like he’d been taught during his pediatric internship and gently pushed the tip, easily breaking the skin and entering the vein.

“Wow. I didn’t even feel it.”

“Mmm hmm,” Cayson replied halfheartedly, staying focused on the job. He clicked on the couple of vials, filling them just enough to run the tests, before removing the needle. He handed Quick a gauze square for him to put over the pinprick. He knew his tone was forced and clipped, but he couldn’t help it anymore. “Hold it here for a few seconds.”

He was hurting now. Still not bothering to look Quick in the eye, Cayson pulled out the three-container storage unit and properly placed the labeled vials in the container. “I’ll have the test results by tomorrow afternoon. If I don’t call, that means everything is good. No news is good news from a doctor.” Cayson finally rose to his feet and made sure he had the dock charger for the X-ray tablet in his bag before he closed it. He didn’t bother saying anything else. He had Quick’s email and mailing addresses. He’d send him some pamphlets on healing ribs later. Right now, he had to get the hell out of there before he lost it. He was embarrassed, sweating, and he felt like a fool. He knew he was on rocky terrain with Quick, but he’d at least thought Duke and Vaughan were his friends.Guess I was wrong.Again.

“I think you should call anyway,” Quick grunted, sitting back up. Quick slammed the recliner down and stood up, stretching his long torso, in turn making those loose pants slide down to an obscene level. As soon as Cayson’s eyes diverted, Quick noticed it and chuckled at him. “You like?”

Cayson narrowed his eyes and just barely refrained from taking a swing at Quick. He was furious, not suicidal. But, that bastard. Did he like? Was he serious? Cayson had showed his “like” before and Quick had a shit fit that time. What the hell was going on now? “You know what. Grow up, Roman.” Cayson hefted his bag on his shoulder and raced for the front door. He was across the spacious living room and yanking on the door handle by the time Quick realized what was happening and called out to him, but he wasn’t stopping.

“Cayson, wait! Don’t leave. I wasn’t—” Quick couldn’t move as fast as Cayson because of his tender ribs. “I’m sorry.”

Ignoring the words, Cayson was so happy when he was finally outside Quick’s playhouse and safe. It wasn’t until he shivered trying to get his key in the car door that he realized he’d left his good parka behind. He looked up and saw Quick wearing a confused expression. Probably wondering why his trap didn’t work. Fool him once, shame on you.

Quick

Quick watched Cayson burn rubber out of his driveway in his little Prius hybrid, his face a mask of anger and betrayal through the thick windshield. Closing his door on the bitter cold that was beating against his flushed skin; he locked both locks and leaned until his forehead was against the smooth wood surface.Now what did I do?Walking back through his living room, he looked through the blinds to see if maybe Cayson had circled back around, but of course, he hadn’t. Had Quick come on too strong? He couldn’t help that his cock took interest when the sweet doctor took off those gloves and began to lovingly caress his back. That wasn’t a fuckin’ exam. He’d had plenty exams, none ever felt like that. Feather-light fingertips just barely grazing his body, hot breaths blowing against his moist skin. And Quick didn’t miss the doc’s erection, either. No matter how hard he tried to hide it.

Disgusted and tired, Quick picked up his cell phone off the breakfast bar. Damnit. Now he knew exactly how Cayson had felt when Quick had shot down his advances before and thrown him out. Sighing in frustration over blowing his last chance, he called his best friend. When it began to ring, he switched to speaker while he powered up his laptop to order his dinner, too tired to make his preplanned chili.

“Yo.” Duke’s rough voice came through his cell speaker.

Quick rubbed his still aching head, not even sure how to start this conversation.

“Quick? What up, man?”

“Duke. I thought you said the doc was interested. What the fuck, man? He flew outta here faster than a felon on a revoked bond.”

Duke chuckled lightly, but Quick wasn’t laughing.

“What happened, Rome? Oh, never mind. I’ll be there in ten.”

Quick frowned when he realized Duke had hung up. He was coming over. Meaning he actually had time for him. Quick rolled his eyes. He felt like an idiot. How could a man feel good about himself when he was feeling sour because his son ran off with his best friend? It was absurd. Quick’s food hadn’t even arrived yet, and Duke was coming through his front door, using his key. He had on a no-name pair of sweat pants and a thick Atlanta Falcons hoodie. When he yanked it off, his black and silver hair stuck up in various directions. His cheeks were covered with dark stubble, but Quick could easily see the redness from the cold underneath it.

“Where the hell is your coat?” Quick grumbled, turning down the volume of the Food Network. “You wanna get pneumonia?”

“It’s in the car,” Duke huffed, blowing on his hands. He flopped down on the couch, sparing a quick glance at the television before looking back at him. “It is getting cold as hell. What is it, forties tonight?”

“Yep. It’s like negative ten in Chicago and we’re complaining about forty degrees.”

“We’re spoiled. We’re not used to cold. We’re tropical now.” Duke smiled, still looking at Quick.

“I’m from Buffalo, Duke. I’m far from tropical,” Quick mumbled, staring back at the muted television as the chefs scrambled to get their dishes on the plates before time was up.

“This what you wanna talk about, bro? Geography. The climate.”

He tried to ignore Duke’s dark glare for as long as he could, but he knew why his friend was there and exactly what they were going to discuss.

“So. You gonna tell me?” Duke leaned back, draping one arm along the back of his couch.

“I could’ve told you on the phone. You didn’t have to waste time coming over here.”

Duke sat straight up. “Whoa, whoa. What the hell is all this ‘waste time’ bullshit? When have I not come over when you needed to talk?”

All Quick could do was shrug. He didn’t want to have this conversation. He didn’t want it to appear like he was whining. “You got Vaughan’s stuff to deal with now; you don’t need me adding—”

“First of all,” Duke cut him off. “Vaughan doesn’t have any stuff. Unlike us, he has his shit together. Probably always will. It’s usuallymebringing my shit tohim. So I’m wide open to accept yours.”

Quick believed what Duke said. His son had always had it together. He truly was one of the luckiest parents in the world. If it weren’t for his son always trying to impress Duke his whole young life, he wouldn’t have been as focused and determined to become such a great man. He guessed he owed that to his best friend. Vaughan didn’t do anything unless he thought Duke would approve and praise it. “You just seem….”

“In love.” Duke sat towards the end of the couch, looking hard at Quick. “That’s all, man. I’m in love, but I’m still your best friend, you idiot. Nothing could change that. Sure, I want to be around Vaughan a lot, but I miss your big, ugly face.” Duke smirked, picking up one of the small pillows and throwing it at Quick’s chest. “All these reservations you have about hanging around us are in your own head. I’ve always showed you respect when you’re around. I don’t grope your son in front of your face.”

“No you don’t, and I appreciate that.”

“Nope… I wait until he’s in my bed to do that.” Duke laughed hard when Quick threw the pillow back at him with significantly more force. “Just joking, man.”

Duke’s good mood was infectious. Quick was actually feeling lighter. This was the relationship he and Duke had.Have. And he’d been missing it. Maybe the hesitation was his own doing. They’d invited him over or out plenty of times where he’d refused, not wanting to feel like a third wheel. Maybe his friend had been missing him, too.

“Cayson was here,” Quick said, lower than he meant, but he was sure Duke still heard him.

“I’m not going to ask how it went, because your call clued me in on that, so tell me where it went south.”

Quick got up and started pacing. His ribs yelled at him to sit his big ass back down, but he ignored them. He didn’t need to worry about being overly careful anymore, since he was sure everything was okay in his old body.Thanks to my sweet doctor. “Heck if I know, man. He was smiling when I opened the door. I made sure I was smiling. I was surprised, but still happy to see him.”

“You were… happy?” Duke’s full lips rose in amusement.

“You know what I mean! I wasn’t mad, okay,” Quick barked, and Duke threw his hands up in apology, so he kept talking. “I um… I’d um… just finished… finished—”

“Finished what? Jerking one out?” Duke asked, confused.

Quick twisted his face up like he’d just sucked a lemon. “No, man! Jesus, Duke. I’d just finished showering, so I was a little underdressed.”

“You were naked.”

“No, not fully. I had on these pants, but they were slightly damp at the time and maybe a little see-through, but I didn’t have this shirt on. I thought he’d….”

“Get excited, again. Like last time.”

“Yeah, man,” Quick huffed, carefully sitting back in his chair.

“He got turned on by your chasing gear… the leather, remember. Not your nakedness. Maybe you intimidated him or something.”

“This is stupid, Duke. I’m not doing this anymore. He doesn’t like me, and all I do is make him mad whenever I’m around.”

“Rome. He wouldn’t have come, man. He brought all that equipment to your house. What doctor would do that for a person who’s not even technically their patient? No doctor I’ve ever encountered. The idea of you getting hurt bothered him. I could see it before he was able to school his expression.”

“He did seem pretty nice when I got nicked by that bullet and he stitched me up a few months back,” Quick said softly, grasping at straws, needing to cling to a sliver of hope.

“Okay, then,” Duke said excitedly. “You deserve someone, Rome. I thought it’d be a woman, but I think this would be real good, man. To at least explore a little. Vaughan and me both like Dr. Chauncey, too. If he stirs something in you that’s been dormant for years… don’t fight it. The doc is a solid guy, and since you hate going to the doctor so much, or getting checked out when you’re injured, don’t you think it’d be a good idea to date a surgeon?”

“Everything doesn’t work out all the time, Duke. We all don’t get a happily ever after ending. What? Did you think we were all going to double date and eventually do a double wedding, where we all go down to city hall in cheesy ass tuxes and get our gay marriage licenses?”

“I think it’s just ‘marriage license,’ no need to add ‘gay’ before it.” Duke ducked and rubbed the back of his head, trying to hide his smirk.

“Shut up. No joking. Just tell me what to do, then. I asked him if he liked what he saw and… he told me to… he told me to grow up.”

Duke was trying so hard not to laugh, but after a few horrible hiccups, the laughter burst through. “You mean he didn’t fall at your feet with smooth lines like that?”

“Shut up, you asshole. I thought men liked to be direct and straightforward. So that’s what I was aiming for.”

Duke only laughed harder. Quick was two seconds off Duke’s ass when his doorbell chimed, alerting him his takeout Thai was there. Although Quick wanted to put on a pair of boxing gloves and spar a few rounds with his smart-mouthed best friend, this is truly what he’d missed the most. Him and Duke shooting the shit and talking trash while ribbing the hell out of one another.

After sharing half his dinner, Quick and Duke got off the subject of football and got back to a topic that was more pressing. “You still didn’t say what I should do.”

“Well. In my opinion.” Duke wiped his mouth with a napkin. “I think you should go big or stay home. You know the saying, right?”

“Yeah, I know the saying. Go big, but big like how? I mean, I know what women would want as big. Jewelry, quality time, compliments, candy, whatever. I don’t think the doc would go for that. So big like… fifty yard line tickets or something?”

His best friend was looking at him like he’d just said the stupidest thing in the world. “You wanna get him football tickets?”

“Sure, why not? That’s fuckin’ huge. Those seats are hard to get. I’d be grateful as hell if someone got those for me.”

“I know that, but that would probably benefit you more than him. Do you even know if he likes football?”

“All men like football,” Quick said confidently.

“Stop being ridiculous.”

“You’re the one being ridiculous. You think just because he’s gay that he might not like football.”


Page 6

“I’m not saying that at all, I just think you might want to go a different route before you buy those tickets, bro. Get to know the guy a little better. Hey, he might not even be an Atlanta fan.”

True. Not everyone makes good choices.“Okay. Then give me some suggestions. It’s obvious I’m going to have to apologize and atone for how I treated him in the beginning, or he’ll stay skeptical. I gave him the impression that I was a bigoted, heterosexual homophobe and now he won’t take my advances seriously. You’ve been dating the past few months. Without grossing me out or being too detailed, what’s something nice you’ve done to apologize for a screw up?”

“Don’t know. I never screw up.” Duke shrugged simply.

Quick stood up, throwing his hands in the air. “You’re really annoying me, Duke.”

“Alright, alright.” Duke was so good at ruffling his feathers. He’d been doing it for over twenty years. “Being completely honest. Vaughan was pretty pissed about our last bust. He said I wasn’t being careful with my health after I’d promised I would.”

They all took their promises very seriously. Quick kept quiet, intrigued to hear how Duke made up for a broken promise.

“That was the first night we didn’t go to bed at the same time.”

“Duke,” Quick warned on a snarl.

“Easy. I’m simply saying he was really mad. I thought he was gonna sleep on the couch, and I felt like shit.” Duke looked up at him, like he was sharing a big secret. “So the next day I took him some flowers to his office.”

“Flowers?” Quick reared back, surprised.Only women want that type of thing.

Duke’s cheek colored slightly but he kept his head up. “Yeah, man. Flowers. Nice ones from a florist, not from the damn 7-Eleven gas station. I brought him a dozen roses… yellow ones. Yellow means you care.”

“You know what flowers mean?”

“I wish I could add botanist to my repertoire, but no. The florist told me. All rose colors mean something.”

Quick grunted again, but he was paying attention.

“Maybe you should go there and ask her which ones mean ‘I screwed up my first shot but please give me another.’ If flowers are mostly for women, then there have got to be ones that mean that.” Duke laughed and Quick joined right in with him.

Touché.

Cayson

“Nania. How many times do I have to ask for the Jamirez file? Cayson let the intercom button go with a hard snap of his wrist, immediately regretting it. He shouldn’t be taking out his frustrations on his innocent nurse. She was surely moving as fast as Cayson could bark. And boy was he barking today. Had been all week.

“I apologize, Dr. Chauncey. Here you go. It was downstairs, since it’s over five years old, and they tried to stall me down in records.”

“I’m sorry too, Nania. I just…” Cayson removed his reading glasses and rubbed at the tiredness in his eyes. “…haven’t been sleeping well.”

Regardless of his lack of sleep, his surgery rotation was still very demanding. If he didn’t get himself under control, he was going to have to exclude himself from surgeries. It’d be the first time in ten years. The last time he’d had to be excused from seeing patients was when his mother died.

“Maybe you should take some of your vacation time, Doctor. I’ve been here six years and I’ve never seen you take a break, holiday, leave, or anything. It’s not healthy to be so consumed with—”

Cayson couldn’t hear any more of this, so as politely as he could, he cut into her concerns. “Nania. I think I’m good for the day. It’s after three. I’m sure your grandbabies would love to see you earlier than usual. Why don’t you take the rest of the afternoon off?”

“Why don’t you, Doctor?” On that final note, she closed the door and left him alone in his large, silent office.

He researched the file he’d requested for about thirty minutes, his photographic memory immensely helpful in his efforts to get reacquainted with the old case. The Jamirez file was one of the many he was looking at to help him with a potential clinical trial he wanted to assist on. Anything that would consume his every waking hour. His personal cell phone buzzed on his hip with a text notification. He already knew who it was, since he didn’t get many calls. 

How about you make me dinner tonight? Say 6ish. I’ll even be open to an apology if you get on your knees.

Cayson scowled when he read the text.Ugh, god.He wanted to smack himself. How could he let himself be used like he’d been doing? Joe came to him to get his rocks off and that was it. Oh yeah, and dinner. There was no love or sentiments. Cayson was his good time guy. The thought made him want to vomit. What had he done? He decided there and then that he was no longer being a doormat. If love came, then it came, but he was done looking for something that frankly just wasn’t in the stars for him.

He heard a soft knock on his door.

“Nania, I told you to go home,” Cayson yelled before he could stop himself.

The door eased open and when Cayson saw the tip of a black boot, he knew immediately it wasn’t his secretary. Quick’s head peeked around next. “I’m not Nania. There was no one out there, so I decided to just knock. Can I come in?”

Cayson sat there behind his desk, staring dumbfounded for a couple seconds, debating whether he should follow his new rule of not being a doormat and kick Quick out of his office and onto his beautiful, sexy ass. Of all the thoughts that swirled around in his mind, “What the hell are you doing here?” was what actually came out.

“I felt bad about the other night so I thought—”

“Thought what?” Cayson had to at least know why he was there. This was a little far to take a joke.

Quick finally stepped inside his office and Cayson immediately saw the large bouquet of orange roses in Quick’s other hand.

“These are, um. For you. I wanted to apologize for coming on so strong the other night. I thought you were attracted to me, but I didn’t mean to jump to conclusions. I let my best friend and son talk my head up sometimes.” Quick looked slightly embarrassed while he handed over the big bush.

It was already in a very masculine but pretty brown and tan vase that fit Cayson’s office décor well. He took the heavy arrangement and set it on the low mahogany file cabinet in front of his window. He couldn’t help but stare at the flowers.

“The florist said that orange roses represent desire and enthusiasm, so after I told her my story, this is what she recommended.” Quick shrugged like it meant nothing, but Cayson could see the thought he’d put into the gift, not to mention, men didn’t bring other men flowers very often.

He wanted to show his appreciation to Quick, but he wasn’t going to drop to his knees to do it. Those days were gone. Cayson ran his hand over his sweater vest, wishing he’d worn the tie with it, but he hadn’t expected company. He sat back in his seat and gestured for Quick to sit across in one of the cushioned chairs. The man towered over everything.

“You h-have a real nice office. Lots of um, books.” Quick shook his head and squinted like he’d regretted what he’d just said. “Duh, of course you read a lot.”

“Yes.” Cayson laughed, the sound alien to him. “I do read a lot. Have to.” Cayson was shocked at Quick’s discomfort, his stuttering and stammering were really eye opening to him. It gave Quick the appearance of vulnerability.

“Of course you do.” Quick fidgeted in his seat and Cayson finally looked at him. He had on dark black jeans that squeezed in all the right places, the black t-shirt with the Duke’s Bail Bonds logo over the right pec, and damn, did all that muscle stretch out the lettering. Quick kept on his leather coat and Cayson licked his lips, wondering if Quick had a lot of weapons hidden on his body. He wouldn’t mind searching him from head to toe and checking…Shit, shit, shit. Stop it.He had to stop thinking so sexually when no one wantedhimthat way.

“Look, Doc. I’m not good at this, okay. I’m not as good looking as Duke and I’m not smooth like my son. I like you and I have no clue on what I’m supposed to say to get you to believe me or forgive me for being an ass before. I hope the flowers helped, though.” Quick was nervously tapping a couple fingers on his knee while he spoke. “I, um. I was married before to a woman. I was lying to myself all through my senior year in high school, and then next thing I know my beard girlfriend is pregnant, so I did the right thing. I never got a real opportunity to explore the other side of my sexuality. Everything was all about Vaughan when he was born.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Cayson asked. He hoped it wasn’t rude, but he needed to know.

“Because I’m sorry and I’m trying to get another chance.” Quick’s brow turned down determinedly. “I don’t know how to date a man – what to say, what not to say – so I was hoping you’d cut me some slack. Obviously, I wasn’t saying the right things before and surprisingly, there was nothing on YouTube to really help me.”

“No. No, you weren’t saying the right things,” Cayson agreed before wrinkling his nose. “I’m sorry… did you say YouTube?”

Quick waved his hand like he wanted Cayson to disregard that. “Forget YouTube. I really am sorry for doing that to you the other night. It wasn’t intentional.”

Cayson shot him an incredulous look.

“Okay.Allof it wasn’t intentional. I really had just taken a shower. I had no clue you were coming over. Duke didn’t warn me at all. But then you were there… and… so I thought—”

“So, you thought you’d play with me a little bit.” Cayson nodded like he suddenly understood.

“What? No! No, I wasn’t playing around with you, Cayson!” Quick said hurriedly.

“I thought maybe you guys wanted to be friends. But I see exactly how it is.” Cayson got up, slamming his hands on his desk. “You need to leave now.”

Cayson wanted to hold his chest, because it hurt like someone had punched him hard. All he’d wanted was to make some friends, maybe have a date. As soon as Cayson got this asshole out of his office, he was going to send a fast “Fuck you” reply to Joe’s text and then he was going to see if anyone wanted a night shift covered. So he hadn’t slept more than a couple hours at night for a while. He could gulp an energy drink… or two.

~~~~~~~~

Quick gritted his teeth and released a low growl of exasperation. He ran his hand over his hair in frustration.It can’t be possible. Are men harder to please then women? No way. Not possible.“Cayson, please sit back down.”

Cayson walked the short distance from his desk to cross his office, pulling the door open and waiting for Quick to get up.

“Fuck. Now what did I do?” Quick complained tiredly.

“I’m done being fucked with.” Cayson dropped a heavy palm on his creased forehead like he was fending off a migraine. “Don’t you eventually get tired of screwing with people’s feelings?”

“Hey!” Quick barked, standing to his full six-foot-three, aggressively demanding the doc’s attention. “I’ve never screwed with anyone’s feelings a day in my life.”

Quick walked over to Cayson and softly closed the door. He wished he had even an ounce of his son’s swagger, but unfortunately, he didn’t. Vaughan must’ve gotten his moves from his mother, because Quick didn’t have a clue. He’d never got a chance to perfect pickup lines to get a date before he became the groom in a shotgun wedding. Then life happened. We all know the story.

Careful not to push, he very gently cupped Cayson’s chin in his palm and lifted until those pretty blue eyes were on him. To his surprise, the doctor didn’t fight him.Damn. Has he always been so handsome?He had to; otherwise, Quick wouldn’t lose his shit every time the doc was around. “You don’t call me Quick. I’m pretty sure you hate that name. You can call me Rome or Roman.”

Cayson stood stock still while Quick touched him. “Why are you doing this, Rome?”

That name sounded much better to him, but the hurt in Cayson’s eyes was more than he could handle. Quick had several inches over the doc, but he loved his height advantage. Couldn’t wait for Cayson to put his chin on his chest and stare up at him. “Will you give me one chance? I’m trying to ask you on a date, but for some reason I keep screwing it up.”

“A date.” Cayson blinked owlishly.

“Yeah, a date.” Quick tried not to sound like he was begging, but if it was good enough for the Temptations, then he could do it. He would do it. “Please, Cays. One more chance.”

“And you’re not fuckin’ with me?” Cayson swallowed hard and Quick’s hand slid down to that bobbing Adam’s apple. He wanted to apply a little pressure but refrained… for now. The sharp intake of breath could hardly be missed and Quick felt a small surge of victory. He definitely still had an effect on the lonely doctor.

Quick’s dick was so hard and confined behind his closed zipper he knew he’d have track marks on his shaft, even through his briefs. He had to be a gentleman. Dry-humping Cayson wouldn’t help anything, or redeem his reputation in the man’s eyes. What term did Vaughan always use… oh, yeah… a classic man. Quick eased back, giving the doctor a little breathing room. His large frame could be intimidating. That’s not what he wanted the doctor to feel. “Is that a yes?” he asked.


Page 7

“I… I’ll think about it, okay. But I have to get down to the ER and help out. Night shift is the worst.”

“What time do you get off?” Quick was getting concerned. Cayson looked exhausted. His usually smooth ivory skin was paler than normal, and he had dark smudges under his naturally vibrant blue eyes. He’d hoped he’d caught Cayson at the end of his day and he’d be able to drive the doctor home, but that didn’t look like it was gonna happen.

“Not until the morning shift comes back. At seven.”

“Seven!” Quick fumed, glancing a look at his sports watch. “That’s fifteen hours from now!”

Cayson dipped his head to hide his smile. “You add fast, Rome.”

“I’m not joking. Why are you beating your body into the ground like this?”

“You should talk.”

“Are we arguing again?”

Cayson slumped against the hard door. “No. I’m just… just—”

“Exhausted. Drained. Tired. Is that what you were going to say?” Quick filled in. 

“If that’s concern I hear, save it. I’m fine.”

“Will you trust me for just a few minutes?” Quick was asking, but he’d already clasped the doctor’s hand and led him to the loveseat against the wall next to a large ten-shelf bookcase.

“I suppose.” Cayson complied warily, but Quick had the feeling he didn’t have energy to do much else.

Cayson

Cayson sighed loudly before clamping his lips shut. Quick was giving him a shoulder and neck rub to rival the best physical therapist in the hospital. He sat with his back against the arm of the loveseat, Quick standing over him, kneading the knots and tension that had built up over the last few… years. His hands were so big and strong. Large enough to handle him. He was trying so hard not to think sexual thoughts. He named every bone in the leg before moving to the foot. Popping an erection could earn him some attention he didn’t need.

“That feel good?” Quick asked, his voice melting over top of him like late evening sunshine. Quiet and breathtaking.

Cayson wanted to respond, but he kept a lock on his mouth, otherwise he’d be moaning like a whore on payday.

“You don’t have to say anything, Cays.”

Quick must’ve gone down on one knee, because his mouth was there next to his ear. Feeling so wonderful.He’s calling me, Cays. He tried to tamp down his knee jerk reaction – which was to thrust his groin upwards. Cayson needed like nothing he could explain. So much want, which had built up over way too much time. Never having taken a lover who cared abouthisneeds: in or out of the bedroom. He wouldn’t set himself up for disappointment by thinking Quick was any different. He was just damn good at massages. So Cayson tried to focus on the pain that was in his neck, and not the tingling that was in his nuts, or the throbbing around his hole. 

“Stop thinking so hard. I can only imagine how much brilliance is in that pretty little head of yours, Doc. Beauty and fuckin’ brains. Always has been a turn-on for me,” Quick whispered.

Cayson was stunned, stunned into instant lust. What the hell kind of test was this, now? He clenched his teeth in an effort not to squirm, but Quick had to know he was getting to him.Is that sweat dripping?His collar felt damp and his brow was covered with a fine sheen of perspiration. Cayson took in a deep breath and blew it out through his nose, but that seemed to make him even dizzier.What’s he doing to me?

“Relax. Stop fighting.”

Oh, fuck. A voice like he’d never heard. Rome wasn’t even talking like the normal Rome. Normally, Rome’s voice was deep with a touch of grit in it. No. Blowing over his ear and down his throat into his moist collar was a voice that was comforting, but powerful. Sensual, but stern. Cayson had sure picked a fine damn time to develop some dating morals, because he wanted Quick to body slam him on his desk and take him like the bad motherfucker he was. Unleash every ounce of strength he was sure Roman Webb possessed.Not now. Cayson was getting hard.Of course, I’m getting hard, I’m thinking of being slam-fucked.

“Feels good, huh?” Quick said, while kneading his thumb into a particularly tender spot at the base of his neck. “No need to talk. Just listen to my words.”

Yes.Cayson was glad for the distraction. His thoughts or words were not safe at the moment. Though Quick’s massage voice was ten times more dangerous. Answering questions shouldn’t be too hard. But, as soon as Cayson’s lips opened to answer, a rogue moan escaped him.

“Mmm,” Rome moaned right along with him, the cockiness in his voice evident, but not in a nasty way. “That means yes.”

Rome was quiet for a few minutes, or maybe it was a few seconds. Hell, he wasn’t sure; he’d lost all concept of time. He also missed the hell out of that voice. Wanted it back. Wanted so damn much. Could Quick give him all that he needed? He sometimes felt like he didn’t ask for much, but when he thought back on past guys…theydamn sure thought he did. He hadn’t dated much early on, because of his grueling school schedule, but the few he did ask out had their own selfish agenda. Not one guy wanted to go out in public with Cayson on his arm… would Quick really be different? He’d have to figure out if he wanted to trust Quick to take him out when the guy had just admitted to being limited-lover-challenged… plus, a gay virgin to boot. It was a lot to think about, but he couldn’t do it with Rome’s magical hands all over him.

He had to clear his throat like five times before he could speak without moaning before each word. “This was really nice. It felt great, thank you. But, I really must be getting downstairs to see if they need some help.”

“Whoa. What do you mean –seeif they need help? Are you saying you’re not scheduled or whatever to work down there right now?”

Cayson sat up higher, wondering when he’d slouched down that far. He rotated his neck a couple time and was amazed at how much better it felt. Less stiff and angry. “Well, technically, no. I just try to be courteous and give other doctors some time off with their families. I don’t have anything else to do… so. Ya know what I mean?” Cayson looked up into Quick’s handsome face. “No, of course you don’t. I’m sure your social calendar stays booked up.” Cayson sounded like a jealous nerd who was bristling because he wasn’t in the cool crowd. Which was absurd. Cayson was knocking on forty. He really shouldn’t be feeling so alone.

“You’d be surprised. No one wants to hang out with me,” Quick corrected him.

“Don’t lie.” Cayson got up and grabbed his white lab coat from off the coat rack. “I doubt you have a hard time finding company, Rome.”

“I’m not lying. I’m home every single goddamn night. Just like when you came over the other night. I was home… alone. Did I look prepared to entertain a crowd? Did I look like I was about to go paint the town? No. I was about to make some chili.” Quick caught the crook of Cayson’s elbow when he tried to walk by him. He brought them face-to-face, well – face to chest. Cayson looked up at him. “Wasabout to make chili, until someone left me in such a bad mood that I didn’t feel like cooking.”

“My apologies.” Cayson smirked, trying to ease back. His cock was still half-hard, any closer and he’d be stabbing Quick in that thick thigh of his.

“If you don’thaveto go down to the ER then don’t go. You’re tired. I just wanna drive you home, maybe feed you a little dinner. I’ll be a gentleman, I promise. No more coming on to you like an overzealous frat boy. I’m tamping it way down. I just want to be in your company for a little while. Is that okay?”

I think that’s the best ask out I’ve ever had.Not that he’d had many to compare it to. Cayson already knew he was going to say yes. One evening on his own turf wouldn’t hurt anything. He’d be safe there. And Quick promised to be considerate. He hoped nottooconsiderate. He chewed on his bottom lip, his eyes shut tight in thought.

He felt the rough pad of Quick’s thumb tug at his lip, freeing it from its torture. He was sure he’d gnawed the plump flesh until it was practically red instead of pale pink. Cayson drunkenly opened his eyes to see Quick’s green gaze trained on his mouth. He rubbed more of the moisture across his tender flesh. “Such a sexy mouth. Pink and perfect. Shouldn’t treat your lip like that, Cays.”

Quick leaned forward, his knees bumping Cayson’s as he got down to good position. Cayson thought Quick was going to kiss him, but instead he aimed for his ear. “I want you to hang that white coat back on the hook, turn your office light off, and let’s go, so I can take care of you. So you can believe and know for sure that I’m not playing games. I’m forty years past games, gorgeous. I want you to drop your walls just a bit, enough for me to show you a few things. I mean, I’m not as debonair as Vaughan, but this old dog’s got a few tricks.”

“I don’t want you toactlike Vaughan,” Cayson finally responded. Quick caressed down the side of his cheek. He was looking at him like Cayson hung the stars and the moon. Was he so desperate that he was imagining all this? But Quick said he wanted to take care of him. Him. He’d be crazy not to see if there was any way Quick could give him what his body deserved. What it craved. “I’m also not concerned with tricks or seduction. Just show me you, Rome. I’ll be able to see through an act. I’ve had enough menacta certain way to get a certain something. I’m done with actors. Promise you’ll be real.” No more guys acting concerned, acting in love, acting… straight. He needed… wanted a real man.

“And in exchange for that promise, you’ll give me one evening?” Quick’s smile was boyishly hopeful and too damn cute.

“Yes. One promise. One evening.”

Quick

“So, do you mind if we swing by the grocery store first? I want to make a little something for you. I got my truck.” Quick put his skullcap on and pointed to his Range Rover in the far end of the visitor’s parking lot. 

“No. I don’t mind.” Cayson smiled. Genuinely smiled for the first time, and it made Quick want to turn and smash his mouth against those soft-looking lips. “What are you going to make?”

Quick leaned to the side, putting his mouth close to Cayson’s temple. “It’s a surprise.”

Cayson looked at him suspiciously.

“Skeptic, huh?” Quick used his key fob to unlock the door. He hurriedly moved to open Cayson’s door, hoping he’d see it as chivalrous and not emasculating. First, he pulled out the parka Cayson had left at his house. The pretty rose color that appeared suddenly on Cayson’s cheeks was priceless.

“You left this. I’ve been riding around with it in my truck.” Quick slung the thick coat around Cayson’s back and assisted him with sliding his arms in. Quick bent and connected the zipper, snuggly encasing his sexy doctor inside the warmth. “There. That’s better. Don’t want you catching a cold.”

Cayson smiled bashfully. Finally, Quick felt like he was on the right track. If he could just keep him smiling like that, Quick’s life would be complete.

Quick pulled into the Trader Joe’s parking lot. “I’ll only be a minute. Do you wanna wait here?”

“Yeah, I’m good. I’m gonna make a phone call.”

Quick ignored the feeling in his gut that the phone call was personal and climbed out of the warmth of his truck. In the store, he moved past the large display of Valentine’s Day decorations and made fast work of getting his meat and easy minute-rice. Not knowing what type of spirits Cayson had in his house, Quick grabbed a rich cabernet sauvignon and two small vanilla scented candles that were close to the register. When he got back in the truck, Cayson was tucking his cell phone back inside his coat pocket, a disgruntled look altering his usually soft face.

“Everything okay?”

“Yep,” Cayson replied a little too fast.

“Good then.” Quick dropped his bags in the back seat. “I’m going to make something easy, but comforting, since it’s getting late.”

“It’s only five or so. I got enough energy for dinner.”

Is that all you have energy for?Quick bit his tongue at his initial response, remembering how well behaved he was supposed to be. Instead, he focused on driving.


Page 8

“You know where I live?” Cayson asked when Quick turned onto his street without direction.

“I find and catch people, Cays, it’s what I do.”

Cayson looked at him with a weird expression.

“That sounded a little creepy, huh?”

“Yeah, little bit.”

“Sorry. But youarelisted. You do know that, right?”

“Oh. Yeah, I do.”

“Cayson Chauncey, MD, your phone number is listed too. You don’t see that too much these days.”

“Might as well.” Cayson shrugged. “It’s a piece of cake to get anything on line anyway.”

“Very true.” Quick parked a couple houses up. Cayson lived on the East side of Atlanta, in the historic Inman Park, in a Victorian style home that had been renovated into a duplex. It was naturally beautiful. The light was fading quickly, and the temperature steadily dropping. Quick glanced a look around him, a lifelong habit, before turning to face Cayson. “Something you want to tell me, Doc?” Quick asked, gently pushing down the thick collar of Cayson’s parka to touch the skin on his throat.

Cayson’s gulp was loud in the silence of the truck. Quick didn’t know why he was so fascinated with Cayson’s neck, but he’d figure it out soon. In the meantime, he had what he hoped was a minor situation. “Are you expecting company already?”

Cayson frowned in confusion. “What?”

Quick nodded towards Cayson’s front porch.

When Cayson turned and focused his eyes, Quick saw the recognition in those baby blues first. So, Cayson knew this man. Then he saw aggravation spread like wildfire across Cayson’s warm features. Quick now knew the stranger wasn’t welcome company and Quick was, so – situation solved.

“Um, Rome. Can you wait in the truck for a moment, please?”

“Um, Cays. No, I can’t,” Quick answered easily, but with a charming smile attached.

Cayson smiled and shook his head. “Fine. Come on. He’s a friend who didn’t get the message. I’ll send him away.”

Quick grabbed the grocery bags then closed and locked his vehicle. The man on Cayson’s stoop was not near as tall as him, but not short either. He looked like a professional, maybe a colleague, but what type of co-worker was coming over at this time of evening. The scowl on his face as they approached said he was feeling the same way about Quick’s presence as Quick was feeling about his. There was no need for Quick to flex his muscles… yet. As long as the guy left peacefully.

Cayson turned to face Quick when they got to his security gate. He took out his key and unlocked the door in the four-foot brick wall surrounding the property. He turned and scooped the bags into his arms. “Rome, wait right here, please. I’ll be right back.”

Quick nodded once and stepped back, letting the gate shut and lock behind Cayson. There was no reason for him to act like a Neanderthal. Besides, it washisdate. This guy was getting ready to get the brush off. He pretended not to listen, but he was nosy, so what the hell. After a couple minutes Quick’s hackles rose when he heard the visitor’s voice growing louder.

~~~~~~~~

“Dr. Joe, what are you doing here?” Cayson said through clenched teeth. He needed to keep his voice down because he really didn’t want to have this conversation with Quick a few feet away, looking on. He said a silent prayer that Joe didn’t get too upset with him and blurt out anything personal that should remain between them. Cayson dropped the bags at his feet and turned to face the man who he’d thought he wanted a relationship with. But how could he, when he wasn’t even allowed to call the man by his first name? Since Dr. Joe is what everyone else called him, Cayson had to also use it. Otherwise, someone could get suspicious of their relationship.

“I texted you an hour ago and said I’d be over. Why’d you make me wait in the gosh-darn cold for thirty minutes?” Joe frowned when he looked over in Quick’s direction. Cayson wasn’t surprised when he saw Quick’s gaze aimed dead-on at them. “Who is that?”

“He’s a friend. Dr. Joe, please go. I responded to your text.”

“What?” Joe yelled. “Fuck off! That’s your response to me? What has gotten into you Cayson? When’d you starting using explicit language? Are you… are you seeing that thug?”

“Okay, stop right there. First of all, you have no clue who that man is, so don’t call him names. Secondly, I don’t know why you’re here and upset. We don’t have a relationship.” Even as Cayson finished the sentence, Joe was looking around, terrified that someone may be lurking in the bushes with a voice recorder. “That right there. I’m done with that, Joe. You’ll never be out. I’m done with being confined to your closet. For some reason, I’ve compromised my morals and values and settled for less than I deserve.”

“Excuse me?” Joe said sternly, inching in closer. “‘Less than?’”

Cayson took a small step back. “Joe. You were always honest. I can’t fault you for that. You said you’d never be out and—”

“Is there a problem?” Quick’s voice was full of confidence and it made Cayson startle when the hard bass of that brusque tone carried to them.

Cayson put his hand up to signal he was fine, but Dr. Joe wasn’t smart enough to shut the fuck up. Could he not fully see what Quick looked like? Maybe all the large trees blocked his view. Quick just didn’t look like the kind of guy you picked a fight with.

“It’s none of your business. You can go now,” Joe said condescendingly. Like Quick was the grocery delivery guy.

“Joe. Keep your mouth closed.” Cayson looked at Quick. The expression he wore was equal parts scary, dangerous, and sexy.

“Did you lock the gate?” Joe asked Cayson, his eyes still on the hulking figure throwing death glares at him.

Before Cayson could nod, Quick took a half step back, braced one arm on the top of the gate and shot his large body over the fence in a single leap. He made it look effortless. Surprisingly, his huge boots made little sound when he landed on the other side, his leather coat flying up in the air behind him like a goddamn cape.

“My gosh. He’s not a thug, huh?” Joe crossed his thin arms over his equally thin chest, looking overly arrogant. The entire Wellington family had patented the look-down-your-nose-at-people face. Why had Cayson been so blind to it? Better said, why had he ignored it?

Cayson gritted his teeth. This was going bad fast. He dug his key into the lock and threw his front door open. He made a mental note to get his gate key back, too. Dr. Joe made to step inside, but Cayson put his hand on his chest, holding him in place. As soon as Quick was on the porch, it was almost comical the way both of their heads tilted up to look at him. It looked like a unanimous salute. He knew that Joe was assaulted by the same delightful smell of leather and wild that seem to embrace Quick’s body. Hiding his amusement at Dr. Joe’s surprise, Cayson ushered Quick through the front door with the grocery bags.

“Roman, the kitchen is straight back. I’m sure you’ll find everything easily. I’ll be right in.” Cayson didn’t let Quick respond; instead, he let his storm door close and waited for Quick to walk away.

“Are you crazy?” Cayson asked Joe, who was still standing and glaring inside Cayson’s door.

“Is this all because I won’t have your kind of sex with you?” Joe inquired, louder than Cayson would’ve have preferred. Joe was making him sound like a sexual deviant, like he’d asked his bed partner for something disgusting.What does he mean, “My kind of sex?”Cayson didn’t need elaboration right now. He didn’t want his seventy-year-old retired neighbors to know that he was a sexually repressed man.

“You’d take this drug dealer over me, just to have sex? Come on, Dr. Chauncey, you can’t be that stupid. Do you know what I could do for your career?”

Cayson was mad now, but he still kept his voice to a stern whisper. “You fuckin’ snob. Don’t talk about Roman anymore, and don’t talk about me. There is no us. And for the record, my career is fine without the help of you or your daddy.”

“Cayson, don’t be a love-sick fool. We could help each other, benefit from each other. Have an arrangement or—”

Cayson had to unclench his teeth to form his words. “I deserve better than a goddamn arrangement. Rest assured, Joe. I would never tell anyone your secret. Ever. I swear that to you. Go on, Dr. Joe. Go home.”

“You can’t be serious.” Joe scrubbed his thin fingers over his forehead like he was warring with something in his mind. Not in a million years did Cayson expect him to say what he did next. “Okay. Fine, Cayson. I’ll penetrate you in the ass. Will that end all this mess you’ve caused?”

“Oh, god.” Cayson jolted so hard he may have thrown up some in his mouth.Please tell me no one heard that.Cayson was so offended he couldn’t move or speak.

“Leave. Now.” Quick burst through the front door and was in Dr. Joe’s face, fast and furious. He barked the orders more than spoke them. His voice was rough and full of venom. It was a sound Cayson found turned him on, but he was too mortified for his body to react. Humiliation trumped lust.

Quick’s chest bumped Joe’s hard enough to cause him to windmill off the top step, falling hard onto the cobblestone walkway. Quick crossed his bulging arms over his chest, succeeding where Joe had failed to make that gesture look threatening. “You won’t like how I remove you if you don’t go voluntarily.”

Cayson’s hands were still covering half his face, hopefully the part that was aflame with shame. “Dr. Joe, I won’t tell anyone. I promise,” Cayson muttered as Joe scurried out the gate.

“I have no reason to promise anything, so you’d better get the fuck out of here. I’m terrible at keeping secrets.” Quick sneered and Joe turned a disgusting shade of green as he scrambled to dust off his black slacks while he walked.

Cayson didn’t like the look in Joe’s eyes. It was a look he’d seen before, but he couldn’t say where. It unnerved him more than anything. It was a look that promised—

Quick gripped Cayson’s shoulder and kissed him on his forehead before he could finish contemplating that look. He turned them to go inside the house and Cayson went obediently, feeling shocked at having his dirty laundry tossed all over his yard.

“Roman,” Cayson whispered. “I wish you hadn’t said that to him. He’s really nervous about being outed. His parents are really important people in the Emory Healthcare Administration and in the state government.”

“Yeah?” Quick hung his own leather coat on some large hooks mounted on the wall behind the door before pulling off Cayson’s coat. “What the hell does any of that have to do with me?”

Hell. Joe wasn’t going to let this go. Cayson had a horrible nagging feeling in his gut. That’s what he couldn’t deal with right now. He needed to think. He needed to go into hiding for a few days. “Would you mind leaving me alone for a bit?”

“Not at all. I’ll go fix your dinner while you go up and take a long, hot shower. By the time you come down, it’ll be ready, then you can show me the rest of your place.” Quick smiled softly.

“No. I meant would you—”

“I know what you meant.” Quick cut him off. “I’m not leaving you alone. It appears that’s what most people do to you. But I’m not letting that pompous pussy steal the date I begged to get.”

Cayson actually chuckled at the crudeness of Quick’s language and what he’d called Joe. Of all the things Joe had called Quick, none had been accurate. But Quick called Joe one name and it was spot on.

“Don’t take my chance away because of that prick. I can see he’s put you in a mood, but you don’t have to stay that way.” Quick stepped closer to Cayson. “Damn that guy.”

“Are we gonna confront the elephant in the room?” Cayson asked, maintaining eye contact with Quick, even though it made his retinas burn. But this was best. Get it out and over with. 

“Elephant?”

“Roman,” Cayson huffed.

Quick inched in closer. “I like that sound you just made.” Quick rubbed his roughened hands up and down the thin sleeves of Cayson’s dress shirt, making him drop his chin to his chest. The touch warmed him and irritated him. Was this pity? He couldn’t be sure. He hated how unsure he was lately. He was supposed to be changing things in his life. His breathing was coming faster and faster. Quick smelled like outdoors and man. A fragrance most women probably wouldn’t like, but it had Cayson’s dick perking up with interest the closer Quick got.

“If you want to talk about him, fine.” Quick held Cayson’s biceps and crowded into him until his back was against the wall where his television hung. Quick didn’t appear mad, but his movements were dominating and his tone was sharp. “I heard everything that asshole said to you. I wasn’t snooping, but I couldn’t walk away.”

“So you heard him say—?” Cayson choked on the words. He couldn’t even say it. It was too deplorable. A grown man not good enough to fuck. Joe revealing that fact only confirmed that Cayson was his dirty secret and all Joe allowed him to do was get on his knees for him, that Cayson took whatever scraps he was thrown. He grumbled deep in his throat at the humiliation. He was glad Quick was so close, that way he could keep his face buried in Quick’s armpit. Inhaling the virility. He wanted his head to stay buried there, like an ostrich… as long as he didn’t have to see anyone, then they couldn’t see him.

~~~~~~~

“Yeah. I heard him,” Quick confirmed, his tone steely. His mouth was a firm line, his grunts commanding as he nudged and chased Cayson out of his hiding spot with his chin. His eyes had taken on a darker, more alluring hunter green while he stared at Cayson and tried to get a handle on his control. He only had a second to make his decision, and he did. He bent and licked gently at Cayson’s bottom lip – asking permission – before he sealed their closed mouths together. Cayson moaned prettily, but Quick didn’t take the bait. He could easily lose his control around the guarded man. If he wasn’t careful, he could scare him away again… possibly for good. The bitch-assed doctor Cayson had been sneaking around with had done enough damage. More than was probably on the surface. Quick briefly wondered if he had what it took to make Cayson forget past exes and focus on him. More importantly, not make him pay for their shortcomings. When Cayson melted into Quick’s chest, sighing his reprieve… he had his answer.


Page 9

Quick pulled back and tilted his head, directing Cayson in the other direction with his palm while he deepened the kiss. Cayson gripped the material of Quick’s t-shirt, pulling him closer like a drowning man would a life raft. Quick was already making him forget. He’d do it until he was all Cayson could think about. He may be new to the team but he wasn’t new to the game. He was going to heal Cayson from the inside out. 

But first things first.“Why wouldn’t he have sex with you?”

Cayson

“Quick.” Cayson grimaced.

Quick had asked the million-dollar question now that Dr. Joe had let the ugly cat out of the bag earlier than he would’ve liked. Cayson had fully intended to tell Quick about all this, but in his own time.

“In a nutshell,” Cayson drawled and tried to put some distance between them, but Quick wasn’t having it. He kept him wrapped tight in his strong arms. “Um. Long story short. For the past few years, I’ve had a friends with benefits arrangement with Dr. Joe, but he was extremely stingy with the benefits. Hell, who am I kidding? Okay, very few of my love interests wanted to be with me, even fewer wanted to fuck me, or date long enough to even get to that point with me.” Cayson took another deep breath, because he was aggressively fighting the moisture building up in his eyes. His state of loneliness was bordering on too much. If he let those useless tears fall right now, he thought Quick would probably turn on his heels and make his way to the door, too. The big bounty hunter wouldn’t be interested in dating a whiny, sex-desperate pansy. It’d take a confident, sure man to hold on to someone as handsome and strong as Roman Webb. But when he thought of Dr. Joe’s proposed arrangement, his stomach knotted hard enough to make him double over.

“Listen to me.” Quick held Cayson’s face with both large hands. His wide fingers covering practically his entire face. “I want you to go and wash off all the poison your haters have sprayed on you today, and I’ll be right here when you come down.”

“Sure,” Cayson whispered, turning to leave, fighting to keep his head from hanging low. Before he was out of range, Quick’s hand shot out and gripped him by the back of his neck to yank him back against his hard chest. Cayson hit with a hard thump and he hadn’t had a chance to collect himself when a thick, possessive tongue was down his throat. Cayson whined softly and opened wide enough to take it all.

Quick released his mouth when he was damn good and ready. He leaned in low and nipped Cayson’s neck, scrubbing his coarse goatee along Cayson’s smooth skin. “You won’t have to worry about being made love to anymore, Cays. Now, go.”

Cayson wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be able to walk upright after that statement or not. Right now he was frozen. The thought of Quick wanting to fuck him was beyond what Cayson could believe at the moment. Pity and regret were still words bouncing around in his soul. He wouldn’t take Quick’s pity. Even though his aching hole begged for attention, he wasn’t jumping onto the first flat surface with Quick. If Quick wanted him, he’d better damn well prove it. No, he was going to earn it.

~~~~~~~~~~

As soon as Quick heard water running, he looked up for the first time, noticing that the entire upstairs was open. He could see a sliver of light across the ceiling. Was it all Cayson’s bedroom? He wanted to go up and explore, but he’d have time for that later. That’s how he’d win the war to gain Cayson’s trust. Time. Patience. He wouldn’t rush him.

Quick yanked out his cell phone and called Duke, switching the speaker on so his hands weren’t tied up. He’d needed to know what to do for Cayson to change his mood. While the phone connected, he hurriedly foraged through Cayson’s very organized cabinets. He had the skillet and a pot already out when Duke’s voice blasted through his speaker.

“How’d it go? Did you call him?” Duke said instead of hello, which was fine because Quick had limited time.

“Even better, bro.” Quick smiled while filling the pot with water for his rice. “I went to his office with…” Quick huffed a laugh, preparing for his best friend’s reaction. “I took the flowers.”

“Oh, snap!” Duke cheered. “And did it work?” he asked after eventually calming down.

Quick was grinning ear to ear. “I think so. I’m at his house.”

“No shit!” Duke laughed hard.

“Yeah. He’s in the shower, I’m making him dinner.”

Quick had to hurry and adjust the volume on his phone since Duke was yelling and cheering like a crazy ass. Cayson was going to be able to hear them at this rate.

“Duke, shut up,” he scolded with a harsh whisper.

“You are the man, Rome! I knew it! I knew you two would be good together!”

“Whatever,” Quick mumbled, still having a hard time concealing his pleased smile. “There may be more to it than I thought.” The boneless pork chops were already sizzling in the skillet in some olive oil and a few sprinkles of flour to make a gravy.

“Meaning?” Duke’s voice had dropped some of its humor.

“Meaning he has a boyfriend.”

“What?” Duke yelled again. “But he seemed so—”

“Lonely… yeah, I know. Okay, wait… he’s not technically a boyfriend.” Quick groaned and shook his head tiredly. “We’ll discuss that more later. All I know is the guy is a massive fuckin’ tool and he was here waiting for Cays when we arrived.”

“‘Cays’,” Duke teased. “Nicknames already. Is he calling you ‘Romey’?”

“Duke, I swear to god.”

“Okay, okay. I’m just happy for you, man. Alright. Being serious now.”

“Thank you.” Quick flipped the pork chops. The wonderful aroma quickly permeating the first floor. Hopefully it’d reach upstairs soon and tempt his date back down. “He said some really fucked up shit to Cayson and I threw him off the porch and he scrambled away. But he—”

“Shit.” Duke’s voice hinted at amazement and disbelief. “I said go big, man, but goddamn. I didn’t say go fuckin’ hulk, Rome.”

“Dad, are you over there acting like a barbarian in front of Dr. Chauncey?” Vaughan’s disappointed voice came through the speaker next.

“He deserved it,” Quick barked defensively. Why were they ganging up on him without the whole story?

“Dad, come on,” Vaughan snapped. “You know better.”

Sometimes Quick wondered who the parent was between the two of them. It’d been like that since the boy could talk.

Quick walked to where the ivory linoleum in the kitchen met the plush rug that covered the dining room floor. He peered upward and listened. There was a brighter light on and the water had stopped. Quick took his phone off speaker and nestled it in the crook of his neck and shoulder. “Look you two; he’s almost finished with his shower. I need to relax him. Y’all just don’t know what an asshat that guy was, and if you’d heard what he’d said to our friend, y’all would’ve been all over him, too.”

“Sorry,” Vaughan murmured right along with Duke. They were all extremely protective of their little makeshift family, so they knew what he meant.

Quick dropped a couple bags of instant rice in the pot of boiling water and put a lid on his almost finished pork chops. Quick’s voice softened. “I want to make him feel better.”

“Nice.” Duke chuckled.

“Not that damn nice. I want him to feel better about himself.” Quick shook his head, getting exasperated. “What do I do, Vaughan?”

“Dad. You are a great guy. Just be you and he’ll relax. Cooking for him is the best idea. You’re an awesome cook. What are you making?”

“Pork chops. What do I do after dinner is finished and he’s ready for me to leave?”

“Do you wanna leave?” Duke asked first.

“No. That guy was a first rate jerk. His eyes said he would catch Cays when I’m gone.”

“Are you for real?” Duke’s voice was serious. They never took threats lightly. Whether spoken or implied. He and Duke hadn’t made it as bounty hunters for so long by underestimating desperate people.

“I wouldn’t joke about that.”

“Then do whatever you have to do to stay with him. Make up anything. Improvise.”

“Uh-oh.” Quick wasn’t the best liar. Grown men didn’t have to lie. It was man up or shut up. “Alright guys. Well you’ve been… you’ve been very little help. Thank you for nothing.”

“Hey, man. I’m the one that said get him flowers. Obviously it worked, because it got your big foot in the door, so take that back,” Duke complained.

“Quiet, Duke. Dad. See if he has a music player. Turn on something nice. And I don’t mean The Rolling Stones. Something jazzy and mellow. Fix a couple of cocktails and try to work a massage in there. That’ll help him relax and he’ll see that you’re all about makinghimhappy… and not yourself.”

“Got it. Thanks, Vaughan.”

“You’re welcome. Good luck, Pops.”

“And Duke….”

“Yeah, buddy?”

“Go to hell.”

Quick hung up, not giving Duke a chance to respond. Knowing his friend, he was probably still looking at the phone. He laughed to himself while he checked the doneness on his meat.Perfect. Letting the meat sit and simmer in the gravy, he washed his hands again and went in search of plates.

Cayson

Cayson’s body felt so much better after the long shower. He could hear Quick talking to someone, but he couldn’t fully make out the conversation. Probably because his stomach was growling too loud. The smell of seared meat was easy to detect as soon as he stepped back into his loft-style bedroom. It was the largest and best renovation he’d made to his home. He looked around the large space, wondering if he should pull the sheets up on his bed or cover up the pile of dirty laundry waiting to be tended to. He let the bedspread fall from his fingers.No. Quick isn’t getting in my bed, not even in my bedroom, so I don’t have to waste time on this.And with that newfound determination, Cayson chose to put on a pair of worn cargo pants and a soft, white Hanes t-shirt. He was going for comfort. Besides, he wouldn’t get his hopes up just yet. He’d been with guys who talked a good game.

As soon as he turned the corner, Cayson’s mouth dropped open in surprise. Quick had not only set the table rather nicely, with scented candles, wine, and water glasses, but the food was already on the plates, steam rising from them along with the heavenly aroma. Quick was hastily whipping something in a small plastic bowl and when he turned, he nodded at Cayson to sit down. However, Cayson didn’t miss the appreciative glances Quick was throwing his way as he walked across the room and sat at the table, still at a loss for words. He was trying to remember the last time anyone had made him a home cooked meal.

“Feel better after the shower?” Quick went in his refrigerator like he lived there and pulled out two small bowls that already held salads.

“I’m better, yes. Thank you, Rome. This looks fantastic,” Cayson said, in awe as he watched Quick set the salad in front of him and drizzle the homemade dressing he’d been making on top. “How’d you learn how to cook?”

“Well, Vaughan’s mother and I decided to call it quits and stop fooling each other after Vaughan got old enough to understand. So when he came to my place on weekends, I had to feed him, not to mention myself. Pizza and Chinese got old pretty quickly. Since I believe a man can learn anything he needs to on YouTube, I watched a few tutorials and managed to produce a couple of edible meals. Food Network and a couple food clinics later… Viola! I’m a pretty decent cook.”

Cayson laughed and followed Quick’s lead when he sat, too, and began digging into his salad. “YouTube, huh?”

“It’s true. I started looking up basic recipes and following along. Next thing I knew, I was starting to enjoy it. It became sort of a hobby. Playing around with and destroying some creations really took my mind off missing my son, missing….”

“Companionship,” Cayson filled in after Quick trailed off. “I get that.”

“I have to ask.” Quick wiped his mouth after chewing a hearty chunk of his pork chop and took a sip of his wine. “How in the hell did you end up with a first class jerk like Dr. Stuck-up? He doesn’t seem like your type at all.”

“And you do?”

“More than that asshole.”

“If I recall. You were a real ass—”

“Yeah, yeah. I know. Thank you very much,” Quick said hurriedly, his sexy quirk of his lips showing Cayson a playful side. “At least it wasn’t the norm for me. I was nervous and unprepared for you, Doc. That’s all. I’m far from an ass, and I think deep down, you know that. That other guy seems like he embraces the title.”


Page 10

Cayson had eaten most of his tender pork chop by the time he finally got around to coming up with an answer that didn’t make him look desperate. “Well. I always knew he was deep in the closet and wasn’t coming out. So he never led me on in that respect.”

“But the not touching you.”

“He’d touch me,” Cayson said sternly, before softening his voice. It wasn’t right to project his frustrations on Quick, especially after he’d cooked him such a nice meal and made a gallant effort to make him feel better. “He just wasn’t keen on touching—”

“Where you needed to be touched.” Quick’s voice was smooth and calm when he said it.

Cayson knew his face was as red as the wine in his glass and hotter than the food on his plate. No matter how many ways he tried to word it or justify it; it was embarrassing to have a fuck buddy who wouldn’t technically fuck you. Who was too disgusted by you to even touch you. Cayson felt so much shame wash over him. He didn’t want to consider these feelings right now. He knew he wasn’t grotesque. Joe had serious emotional issues regarding his sexuality and Cayson didn’t have the correct initials behind his last name to try to understand them. Nonetheless. This was the third male acquaintance – couldn’t technically call any of them boyfriends – who wasn’t interested in Cayson intimately, and especially going out in public with him. “I’m not most men’s type, I guess. Maybe I should leave well enough alone. There are plenty of single doctors who never marry or have a family. It happens. They’re married to their craft. I’ll maintain on my work. That should keep me busy until I die.”

Cayson had barely heard the growled “Goddamnit” leave Quick’s mouth before his table was pushed to the side and a seething, angry date was advancing on him. Cayson was frozen to his seat. Not scared… but startled. Cayson felt like if he bolted and ran, Quick would walk him down and catch him like in those scary movies. He hadn’t understood what he’d said or what expression he wore that had Quick reacting like this, but he kept his mouth closed when he was swept up out of his chair and pulled tight into a solid chest. Hot, moist lips were on his and Cayson moaned, letting his arms drop down to his sides while Quick held him up by his biceps.

“It’s difficult to listen to you put yourself down, Cays.” Quick only pulled back slightly to annunciate his words, his wine-tinted lips still brushing lightly against his. “You keep saying you’re not most men’s type, but I’m standing right here, and you’re doing your damnedest to convince me that I’m not going to like what I find in you.”

“N-no I’m—”

“You are,” Quick snapped, refusing to let him get a word in. Cayson ducked his head. Hewasdoing that. He’d had too many losers and now he couldn’t recognize a winner. “Look at me, Cayson.”

Quick’s grip loosened on his biceps as his firm hold became a soft massage. “I don’t know what else to tell you to convince you. I’m not sure what the perfect thing to say is.”

Cayson liked the flustered, not-so-sure-of-himself Roman, too. Confident Roman was sexy as fuck, but so was this one. “I’m not interested in perfection… there’s no such thing as perfection in existence. Anything that we do as humans, we can call it perfect, but it isn’t, really. I just want to….”

“Want to what? Ask me. Whatever it is… I’ll say yes,” Quick assured him.

Cayson was still being held tight against Quick’s chest, and it was hard for him to think clearly. His sentences were choppy and his thoughts weren’t complete. Damn, he could even smell the fragrance of Quick’s deodorant. He needed to retreat to solitude and get his bearings before he offered his ass up on a platter like that mostly eaten pork chop. “Rome.” Cayson’s voice was coarse and strained as that one line floated back to his head before making a beeline to his ass.You won’t have to worry about being made love to anymore, Cays.Cayson locked his knees to keep them from buckling. Just the thought of Roman fucking him. Oh, god, Roman.

“Say it, Cays.” Quick’s reply was like a hushed groan, since his voice was way too deep to fully accomplish a whisper.

Fuck. Quick’s vocal sounds were like a soothing balm to his tortured soul. So calming, yet demanding. And damn if he didn’t talk with so much conviction. Cayson wanted to believe him, wanted to eat up every word and let them satisfy him just like his dinner had. He cast a brief look at his four top table, which had been shoved almost all the way to the wall.Fuck. He’s strong.Quick’s sheer bulk was enough to assure him of that, but Cayson wondered if he would be as rough with his heart as he was with his furniture. “I think I’m gonna turn in.”

Quick looked taken aback and disappointed, but he slowly stopped caressing Cayson’s neck and let those wonderfully calloused hands fall to his sides. As soon as they were gone, Cayson busied himself pulling the table back over. Quick helped him and even pushed in all the chairs, but Cayson didn’t like how quiet he was now. His eyebrows were drawn down, causing a few wrinkles to form in between his eyes. He looked fed up. Damn, had he given up already?Why am I not worth the fuckin’ effort?

When the table was righted and the dishes were stacked in the sink, Quick finally spoke again. “I’ll just take care of these few dishes.”

Why that annoyed Cayson a little, he wasn’t sure but it was lame. Dishes. Whatever.

“I’ll walk you out.”

Quick

He didn’t want to go. Cayson was clearly upset and Quick didn’t want to go. Every fiber in his body was telling him to stay, because he had a bad feeling about Cayson’s so-called friend with benefits. The guy was a spoiled, over-achieving, self-righteous bastard, but he was a desperate bastard. Desperate, and with one helluva secret that Quick now knew. How was this Dr. Joe going to react? Actually, Quick already knew. He was in the desperate-acting-people business.

Just when Quick was begrudgingly heading towards the front door with a dawdling Dr. Chauncey behind him, his best friend’s voice slapped him in the back of the head.Then do whatever you have to do to stay with him. Make up anything. Improvise.Damn, he didn’t want to leave, but he didn’t want to come off as a pig like probably most of the men Cayson had been with. Insisting to stay the night was basically the same as begging to get a little taste. At least that’s what it used to mean. And this was their first date. Shit. Quick rolled his eyes. How was he supposed to make this sound honorable? He really wasn’t trying to sleep with the doc. He had some YouTubing to do first. He wanted to make it good for Cayson, of course.

As soon as he reached the door, Quick turned, snapping his fingers. “You know what. I think it’s probably best if I just stay the night.” Quick placed a couple fingers over Cayson’s lips as soon as he opened them to object. “Not stay the night, like that, but stay and make sure you’re alright.”

Cayson moved around Quick and unlocked the door. “Really, Rome. I’m good.”

Now what? “Um. Um.” Quick was at a loss. He really wasn’t a good liar. “I think I’m real low on gas and it’s dangerous to pump gas so late at night, ya know? I think they mentioned that on the news a while back.” Quick could’ve kicked himself. How in the hell would a brilliant man like Cayson believe that he was cautious about being out late? Didn’t he hunt down society’s dangerous people for a living?

“It’s only a little after eight, Rome. I think you’ll be just fine at the gas station.” Cayson smiled, handing Quick his heavy leather coat. When he cracked open the door, the cool night air burst in completely uninvited. Quick refused to go out into it.  

“It’s still dark, though. Bad things happen at night. Especially at shady gas stations. You can’t trust those people who loiter around there all the time.”Argh! What the fuck am I saying?

Cayson was wearing a full-on smile now and it was hard for Quick not to smile, too. “I don’t think anyone will try to start trouble with a big man like you, Rome. Day or night. Now, good night.”

Cayson was inching Quick further and further out the door and he wasn’t putting up a fight. He liked Cayson’s expert hands pushing on his pecs. But when he was almost on the porch, he dug his heels in. “Seriously, Cays.”

Cayson sighed wearily. One palm was still lightly pushing on Quick’s chest, the other propped against the doorjamb. He looked so sweet and tired, and Quick just wanted to hold him close. Protect him from all the bad in the world, the shit that Quick saw on a regular basis. Protect him from the bad that had been on Cayson’s porch when they arrived. He needed to stay.

Cayson said good night for the second time and was gearing up to close the door, but Quick stopped him again. Only the truth would work. He held Cayson’s wrist, careful not to apply any real pressure. “Okay. Truth, Cays. I want to stay because I don’t like the situation that happened earlier.”

Cayson scoffed. “Are you talking about Joe? Please. Joe is harmless.”

“Cays look at me.” He tilted Cayson’s face up to his, hoping he could see that he wasn’t joking around, but was dead serious. “What I saw in that man’s eyes was not harmless.”

“I think that look was directed at you, not me.”

“I think it was, too, but I don’t question men with motives. Any man with a secret that big, one that could possibly devastate him if it got out, is going to do all he can to protect his future by any means necessary.”

“You really have seen some terrible stuff, I’m sure. But, what is it you think Joe’s going to do? Come back in the middle of the night and staple my mouth shut while I sleep?”

“Possibly. But if he does… I’ll be right here waiting for his ass.”

“Oh, goodness,” Cayson moaned like Quick was being unreasonable. “What’re the chances of you going and getting in your truck right now and going home?”

“Slim to none.”

“I figured.” Cayson turned around, leaving the door slightly ajar. Quick took the silent invitation and bounded back through the door and past the dimly lit foyer.

Quick hung his leather coat back on the rack. “So. Got any good music?”

“Not happening.” Cayson dug inside his closet just off the foyer and pulled down a thick fleece blanket. “It may be early for you, stud, but I’m exhausted. No music, no television, no more wine. I need sleep. I have a partial nephrectomy at seven and if I still have these black rings under my eyes, the family might be a little hesitant to let me operate.”

“No problem. I have a bond hearing I need to sit in on at eight, so works fine. You go on up and get in bed. I’ll be up soon.”

“Um, wait.”

Quick reared back and laughed, the hearty sound permeating the large living room. “I’m just joking. I’m more than fine with the couch. Although, I hear it’s bad for the back. I have been having a few issues with it.”

“I’m sure you’ll survive one night.” Cayson smiled on a yawn. As soon as he turned to take the stairs up to his open bedroom, Quick pulled him back to him.

“How’d you like our first date?” Quick said softly. He really needed to know. He didn’t think he aced it, but he couldn’t have flunked.

“It’s the nicest time I’ve had in a while, and definitely the best dinner,” Cayson admitted.

“Good. Very good. Did I redeem myself?”

“Yes,” Cayson murmured.

“Can I have a good night kiss, since my date is over?”

Quick stood still and let Cayson close the small distance between their mouths this time. He didn’t always want to be the aggressor. It was a soft, chaste kiss. Nothing to make your toes curl, but enough to make Quick heat up. He wasn’t sure how long it’d been for the doctor, but it’d been at least a couple years since he’d gone all the way. His few dates had ended before he was even able to get to third base. But now that he thought more about it, maybe he didn’t want to get too far with those women, knowing all along that it was a man he desired. His job was a pretty big turnoff, as well, with regards to having something long-term. No one liked the danger inherent in his work.

“That felt good.” Quick closed his eyes and licked the last lingering taste of Cayson from his lips. He kept his hands by his sides, otherwise he would be tempted to take both his hands and grab himself a couple handfuls of Cayson’s sexy ass. What the hell was wrong with Dr. Joe? He never hit that? Didn’t want to? Was he blind? The ass on Cayson was mouthwatering. Curved, not flat, and probably a bit of soft hair dusting those plump cheeks. Blond hair over a pale ass. Fuck. Heaven. Be patient.

“Yeah, it did. Good night, Roman. And thank you again for dinner.”

Quick hated for Cayson to leave and end their evening so soon, but the man clearly needed a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. So Quick took Cayson’s hand and linked their fingers together before he turned their joined palms and gently kissed the back of Cayson’s hand. The shy smile he received was worth an uncomfortable night’s sleep on a couch. “Sleep well, handsome.”

“You too.” Cayson turned and slowly made his way up the stairs, almost as if he didn’t want the night to end either, but had ruled against his own desires.

“Yes. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me and my bad back on this couch,” Quick yelled, knowing Cayson could hear him. Quick was pulling off his boots when he looked up and saw Cayson’s head peeking over the thick guardrails with one bemused brow raised.


Page 11

“I’m not worried. Good night, Roman.”

“Night, baby.” Quick winked and smiled when Cayson ducked back into his room. Quick couldn’t wait to be invited up there… he wasn’t going up a second before he received an invitation, either.

Quick waited until he finally heard light snores filtering down to him before he got back up. First thing he did was move his truck around the corner so it wasn’t obviously visible. If Dr. Prick was coming back, he wanted him to think that he was gone. Closing the front door as quietly as possible when he returned, he looked around on the interior wall and noticed the absence of a security system. To Quick, it meant that night after night Cayson slept completely unprotected. For fuck’s sake. He hoped the guy at least had a gun or some type of weapon.

Opting to keep on his jeans, albeit unbuttoned, he removed his shirt and boots. After perusing Cayson’s bookshelf, his CD collection, and his DVDs, Quick made a few mental notes of what Cayson liked. He also made a note to tease him about the Lady Gaga CD he found way down on the bottom rack.

Quick shook his head. He had a warm feeling in his gut that he and Cayson could possibly have something. That is, if the doctor didn’t think him too much a roughneck. He may not be as educated and refined, but he was an honest, successful business owner. Surely, that gave him some bonus points.

He was thinking of where he’d take Cayson on their second date when Quick heard a faint noise – sounded like right outside the window – and went to look out the blinds. The view was a mess.Well let’s rephrase. If you are keeping a lookout, the view was a mess.Large trees lined the sidewalk, and Cayson’s neighbor really needed to prune back her bushes. He could barely see if someone was approaching, they’d practically be right in front of the house before he spotted them. He bet Cayson had a good view from one of his bedroom windows, but Quick had made himself a promise. He wasn’t going up until he was beckoned.

His eyes scanned back and forth over Cayson’s front yard. He clenched his teeth, wondering if Cayson ever gave that bum a key to his place. He hoped not. Parting the blinds a tad further, he looked as far as he could, but he didn’t see anything, more accurately: anyone. He’d stay on high alert, regardless.I hope you come back, motherfucker. I’ll show you a damn thug.Quick recounted the feud again for the hundredth time. Problem was he’d heard every nasty word that prick called him, and if he hadn’t been trying to impress his distinguished date, he would’ve put Joe on his self-important ass.

After determining that the noises he’d heard must’ve been an animal, Quick checked the clip in one of his all-black 9mm handguns and tucked it under the couch cushion where he’d laid his head. He checked his watch. It was going on eleven. Still early, so he stretched out, linking his fingers and tucking them behind his head. All that bulk and muscle looked comical on the standard length couch.

Quick closed his eyes and thought about Cayson. Usually at this hour – if he wasn’t working – he’d be on his patio, sipping a brew and trying to relax. He imagined Cayson reclining between his legs on his outdoor chaise lounge after they’d both had a long day. Quick could see himself burying his nose in Cayson’s neck and murmuring sweet words of encouragement while his lover told him all about his stressful day. He wondered if they could be together, find something special between them, like his best friend had found. Wondered if he’d found the one who would make his heart soar. Duke was the happiest guy he knew, now. But a year ago, he was as big a mess as Quick. Wanting a friend, a lover, and a partner. Quick wanted it all. He wanted it with his sexy surgeon, who in his opinion had single-handedly saved his son’s and best friend’s lives. And the man was gorgeous.

Beautiful blond-brown hair with a few sprinkled grays along the edges. Quick had more grays than the doc, but his was long and usually pulled back at his neck. Clearly, Cayson was a man who took care of himself, because his body had very little fat on it. He wasn’t packed with muscle, but his toned frame was a big turn-on for Quick. But, nothing did it for him more than when Cayson was in his white lab coat wearing his nerdy, gold wire-rimmed reading glasses. Quick closed his eyes and relived their first date to keep himself from drifting off to sleep too fast. Cayson was in such an affluent neighborhood, Quick didn’t hear any police sirens, helicopters or any other big city noises. Behind his closed lids, Quick pictured their kiss, their hug, pictured the way Cayson had hung on to him, like he’d shatter if Quick let him go. He most definitely wasn’t leaving. It’d been years since Quick felt this alive. Cayson stirred feelings deep down inside of him, feelings which he’d thought had been suppressed too long to arise again.

The time crept by, but Quick used it to think and brainstorm. He knew how to devise a plan. He’d need one to deal with Dr. Joe, especially since he couldn’t move in to protect Cayson.

While he thought, his eyelids dropped lower and lower.

Cayson

Cayson was deeply asleep, finally getting the much-needed rest he’d been seeking, when a sharp knock made him bolt upright, scaring the shit out of him. It took only a second for him to gather himself when another knock fell and was forceful enough to rattle the few pieces of art Cayson had on the walls downstairs. What the damn hell?

“I know you’re in there. I either want a full apology or give me my stuff, Cayson! Right now!”

Cayson rubbed at the stress quickly building behind his eyelids. Glancing over at the clock on his nightstand, his eyes widened. It was after midnight. “Why isn’t anyone letting me sleep?!” As soon as the complaint left his mouth, he jumped up, remembering Quick.

Cayson was out of bed and yanking his robe on as fast as he could. He’d just cinched the tie at his waist, and Quick rounded the corner of his stairs and was in his bedroom, pulling him protectively closer with one arm, while the other hand held a scary black handgun.

“Are you okay?” Quick asked him sternly, checking his watch.

“Yes. I was just on my way to the door,” he said, sounding annoyed. Taking a step back from the embrace to make sure his robe was tight; he looked up and almost came all over himself and his imported oriental rug. Quick was shirtless, with only his jeans on. They were unbuttoned and the zipper was partway down. Cayson could see the black briefs Quick wore underneath and wanted to drop to his knees and bury his nose in the dark cotton covering that glorious cock. But it was the tattoos. Goddamn, they were everywhere. Some bright and vibrant with color, some black and gray. He was dying for a chance to get up close and personal with them. No matter what was happening at any particular moment, the sight of Rome bare-chested would always make him pause and drool. Roman’s name truly fit him to a T.

BANG! BANG! “Are you in there, Cayson? You big idiot! Open up, I have something to say!”

“He’s gonna wake the damn dead,” Cayson grumbled, moving quickly down the stairs with Rome close on his heels. He didn’t see this ending well. What the hell was Joe doing screaming outside like that? It was a sure way to draw unneeded attention. In his quiet neighborhood, surely someone had already called the police. Cayson needed to hurry and get rid of him before Joe was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace.

Fact of the matter was Joe treated Cays like a business arrangement, not a partner. So if Joe’s feelings got bruised because Cayson no longer wanted to be his doormat, well now that was Joe’s problem, wasn’t it? Cayson wasn’t going to give Joe much of his time.

“And Roman, please put that gun away, for Pete’s sake.” Cayson shoed him back further against the wall behind the door, so when he opened it, Rome couldn’t be seen. He didn’t need his huge date overreacting. “Dr. Joe has a very sensitive ego, so I guess he’s trying to save face. Don’t worry, I’ll get rid—”

BANG! BANG! BANG! “Right now, Cayson! I want an apology.”

The last word sounded slurred now that Cayson was right at the door.Oh, god, please don’t be drunk.Cayson hesitated before opening the door. If Joe was out of his mind from having his pride wounded, was it a good idea to let him in? His first thought was no, but he began to unlock the bolt lock anyway.

He tried his best to put on his groggy, sleep-roughened voice, hoping he could convince Joe to do this some other time. “Joe, w-what are you doing here at this hour?”

“Le’me in so we can talk,” Joe demanded on another slur, but this time a slight belch followed the command. He had on the same clothes as earlier, appearing as if he’d been at a bar this whole time, getting shit-faced. Cayson could smell Joe’s rancid breath through his storm door. There was a permanent frown marring his brow, like he’d made an angry face and it got stuck that way. No. This wasn’t Joe. Wasn’t the prim and proper friend he’d made years ago. This crazed man wasn’t the distinguished anesthesiologist who refused to even check his mail if he wore anything other than a fully pressed suit. Joe’s hair was all over his head and his severely wrinkled shirt was untucked. Cayson had never seen Joe like this. Especially not drunk. Being drunk and disorderly was uncivilized.

“I have a real early day.” Cayson’s tone was light and held not even a trace of meanness. “We can talk tomorrow if you want, okay? Sit there on the steps. I’ll call you a cab.”

“Don’t need a damn cab. Now, let me in.”

“No. Joe, I’m really tired.”

Joe scoffed, his lip turned up in repugnance. “I just bet you are, Cayson Chauncey. So did you finally get screwed the way you wanted? Are you finished acting like an ass?”

“First of all. It’s none of your business. You’re drunk, Joe. You’re going to find yourself up shit’s creek without a paddle if you don’t stop all your yelling and banging on my door. I’m sure you’ve woken everyone on this street.” Cayson glanced up and down the street and noticed that Quick’s truck wasn’t where he’d left it. He’d obviously moved it for this reason. He’d been right. Joe came back, just as he’d predicted.

“Then I want my stuff. Now!”

“Shh. Quiet, daggonit… and what stuff?” Cayson was trying to keep his voice down, but was losing patience faster than a compulsive gambler losing his rent money.

“You know what!”

Before Cayson could even think what Dr. Joe was referring too, he’d pushed hard on the door, knocking Cayson backwards. The door probably would’ve slammed into the wall from the momentum, but Quick was there to stop it. Joe didn’t even notice. He wasn’t accustomed to noticing things like that. He wasn’t a man who’d ever had to watch his back.  

“Joe, what the hell? Get out of my house. I told you not to come in.”

Joe ignored him and stumbled further into the room, only glancing around before making a wobbly beeline to his closet. How the man didn’t notice the largest pair of black boots Cayson had ever seen lying next to the couch and the black t-shirt slung over the arm was beyond his understanding.

Cayson knew what was about to happen the moment he saw the front door in his peripheral vision slowly shutting to reveal Quick’s very pissed off posture. Joe’s back was to them while he dug through the closet. Cayson had no clue what he was looking for, but he pleaded with his eyes for Quick to stay calm. One look at Quick, and he knew that wasn’t about to happen.

“I can’t find it!” Joe screamed, his head still buried. “I know I left it here. I can’t find it at home, anywhere.”

“Find what, Joe?” Cayson left the front door open, Joe wasn’t staying much longer.

“My gray and white Berluti cardigan,” Joe said, his voice muffled by the coats he dug through.

“Joe, there’s nothing like that in there. I don’t remember you ever leaving anything here. You don’t even stay the night except for maybe once every couple of months.” Cayson sighed when Joe started throwing things out of the closet, burying himself deeper inside it. How ironic. “Now, for the last time – leave.”

Quick’s hand was on Cayson’s shoulders, massaging and rubbing the tension that had settled there days ago and refused to move out. It was becoming more and more painful to watch, as Joe became a huge mess. He was on the floor, digging and pulling things all over the place. Both he and Roman looked on in disbelief and sadness.

“Do you want me to get rid of him for you, Cays? Because I will. Whatever you need me to do. Just ask.” Quick stood closer now. Looking large and damn sure in charge. It gave Cayson a warm feeling deep down that Quick wanted to help him… protect him. He spoke like it’d take an army to move him, to get close enough to harm Cayson. The big bounty hunter stood so close that his groin was pressing into Cayson’s hip. Of course, their height difference put what Cayson really wanted to feel a little off target, but everyone was the same length when you laid down in bed. The coarse hairs above Quick’s lips brushed the shell of Cayson’s ear as he spoke in that soothing tone. It hadn’t failed to have a profound effect on Cayson, and he ended up loosening his robe for a little extra room.

He wanted to turn into those massive arms and let Quick make it all better. He hurt. He hurt everywhere. He was a compassionate man. He hated for people to go through pain, but self-inflicted pain was the worst to watch, because all that Joe had to do was be honest with himself. Obviously, he was waging an internal war. Maybe even wanting to have something more with Cayson, but too afraid. Too fucked up. Too steeped in his family’s traditions to start his own. Not man enough to stand up to his old man, when Joe was damn near an old man himself. Forty-two was too long to hide your sexuality. Forty-two was too long to still be controlled by your upbringing. Forty plus years of bathing in misery and dining with anguish. Cayson felt for him, he truly did – but he couldn’t let Joe hold him back from what he deserved.


Page 12

“He’s still here?!”

The shouted question yanked Cayson out of his thoughts and away from the encouraging rub he was receiving. Joe had finally noticed Quick standing behind Cayson like a bodyguard, equipped with a dark death-bringer in his right hand. He felt Quick tense behind him – like he was ready to act – but he didn’t make a move. He was sure Quick knew tons of moves, but hurting Joe was not an option in Cayson’s mind. He was hoping Quick would stay cool. “I’m calling him a cab. I’ll be upstairs, but I’ll be watching.” Quick had lowered his voice, but surely not low enough that Joe didn’t hear him from only a few feet away.

“Thank you, Rome,” Cayson whispered, almost shyly. He hadn’t had someone dote over him in a long time. It felt good.

Quick moved from behind him, running his big hand along Cayson’s back as he stepped in front of him, his next words specifically for Joe. “You put your hands anywhere on him and you’ll regret it. I promise.”

That was all Quick said, then he was taking the stairs three at a time, his long ponytail swaying slightly with each long stride. Cayson watched until neither Quick, nor the black gun now tucked against the small of his back, were visible.

“A gun!” Joe shrieked. “He has a gun in your house! Did you see that?” Joe was hysterical and still way too fucking loud for midnight. “You hate guns, remember! Guns kill.”

“No. I never said I hated guns. And guns don’t kill people, Joe. Ignorant people with guns kill people. And of course, Rome has a license for that weapon. He’s in law enforcement… sort of.” Cayson didn’t need to give Joe any definitive information about Quick. The less Joe knew, the better, because he and his family had plenty of money and power. He didn’t need them to stir up trouble or make Quick’s life hard.

Joe looked like he was going to burst into flames. Cayson was shocked Joe could turn that damn red. But when Quick was out of sight, Joe changed from wild, to livid, to achingly sorry, too fast for Cayson to keep up. Next thing he knew Joe was sobbing, leaning heavily against the wall next to the closet, his head pressed into his fist. “I can do better, Cayson. I can, if you give me some time. I just need a little more time. I-I can’t come out, but I can do better by you, I promise I can.”

Cayson placed his hand over his chest. This was going to burn both of them. But Cayson knew it was the absolute right thing to do. With his eyes closed, he started speaking slowly and concisely, so there was no mistaking his intentions. “Joseph. I can’t do that. You’ve made lots of promises before, and I don’t think you’ve kept even one. It’s time we both move on. Our season is over, good friend. Our friendship doesn’t have to end. I don’t want it to end, because we still have to work together. But any romance that was between us ends here and now, Joe. I’m sorry. But this is it for us in that capacity.” Cayson shook his head. Damn, even the way he ended theirarrangementsounded like a contract being terminated. All technical and no emotion.

Quick

Quick wasn’t even going to pretend he wasn’t listening. He was in full-on guard mode. If Joe acted like he wanted to hurt his sweet doctor, then Quick was going to stick the entire barrel of his pistol in his mouth and make him deep throat it like the pussy he was, then he’d pistol whip him with it. Yep. That was Quick. Fuck with someone he considered important, and a side of him no one wanted to meet came out. A fierce bounty hunter who had trained masterfully in several styles of martial arts since he was a boy. Joe would be absolutely no competition for Quick. He didn’t need the pistol, he was a warrior, but the gun was his bottom fucking line. Hopefully, Dr. Joseph was smart enough not to make Quick cross it.

When Quick hung up after calling for the cab, he peered over the railing, and though Dr. Joe was groveling, he was keeping a safe distance. Quick looked down to the floor. How fast could he get to Cayson if he needed to? He could jump over the railing, but he’d land on the dining room table, his brawn shattering it. He shrugged. He’d jumped further and landed on worse. The table was replaceable… not so, Cayson.

Quick sat gingerly in the chair in Cayson’s room that was closest to the railing. He debated sending Duke a text, but thought better of it. He could handle this alone if things took a turn for the worst. When Quick had threatened Joe if he touched Cayson, he almost wanted to frisk the man before he left the room, but knew that would escalate things. He decided to just keep an eye on them. If Joe appeared to reach for something nestled in his waistband, then Quick was going to reach for his first. He’d win that old-style Wild West standoff, too. He was too quick to let a man get the jump on him. Hence the name.

Now, Joe was crying for another chance, promising Cayson he was going to change and be good to him.Shit, fuck, goddamn you, you sneaky motherfucker.Quick knew the asshole was gonna come back, but he didn’t know he’d come like this. Joe came equipped with a different kind of arsenal, one that Quick was yet to possess, regarding Cayson. Knowledge and longevity. The two men arguing downstairs had a long history of friendship, and Dr. Joe knew how to pull Cayson’s heartstrings perfectly. Could read him and play off the kind doctor’s emotions. Joe would know how to get Cayson to fold and accept his apology. Quick hoped Cayson was strong enough to see past the bullshit. He didn’t know Cayson very well yet, and he didn’t fully understand the two doctors’ relationship to know how this was going to end. He couldn’t help but think that any second now Cayson would come upstairs and tell Quick he was going to give Joe another chance. That they had too much invested to throw away. It would really do a number on him, but he’d bow out gracefully.

After a few more minutes, Joe finally stopped whining long enough to let Cayson get a word in. When his sexy doctor did speak, he declined Joe with sincerity and gentility, and it made Quick the happiest man in the world right then. Hopefully, it was because he’d given Cayson such a nice evening that he wasn’t ready to stop seeing him.

But Joe heard that no and the evil, I’ll-get-you-back stare was aimed right at Cayson. It was time for Quick to make his presence known again. The conversation was over and there was a car horn honking out front.

“Your ride’s here,” Quick said with a rough finality, standing midway down the stairs. Crossing his arms over his chest. His 9mm now tucked securely in the front of his jeans. Faster access. “It’s time for you to leave. If Cayson’s wants you back… he’ll call you.”

Cayson plopped down on his couch while he and Joe had their stare-off. Quick never blinked, and neither did Joe. Quick nodded once. Challenge received and accepted.

~~~~~~~~

Cayson was pretty quiet while he and Quick walked around the corner to his truck the next morning. He was still upset about Joe. The guy had been a mess when he finally left. Although he told the cab driver Joe’s address, he hoped his old friend made it home safely. He wasn’t going to call Joe. Right now, they needed distance. His friend may have his issues, but Cayson couldn’t deny Joe’s immeasurable intelligence. When he calmed down, he’d see that Cayson was right. They had no real future together.

Quick opened the passenger door first, before jogging around to the driver side. “I wish we’d had time for me to make you breakfast, but I thought you’d like to sleep as long as you could. I can swing by an IHOP and get something to go if you want.” There wouldn’t be enough time for anything else.

Cayson placed his messenger bag on the floor at his feet and fastened his seat belt. “No. I’m okay. I’ll grab a muffin or something from the coffee cart. I don’t like to perform surgeries on a full stomach, anyway.”

“Okay, then.”

Cayson was in a sour mood and he picked up that Quick was trying to bring him out of it. He appreciated the effort, but the wound was still very raw. He’d lost a friend last night. He was sure of it. Cayson wasn’t ready to give up on Quick, or even the smallest chance that he could be loved, just so Joe could have an arrangement with him. It didn’t take his thirteen years of college and graduate school to know who held the better chance at keeping Cayson’s heart safe.

“I haven’t even checked my schedule for today yet,” Cayson said absently. He pulled a tablet out of the front flap of his bag and began tapping. Quick was focused on the road, the traffic starting to pick up. It was only about fifteen minutes from Cayson’s house to Emory Hospital. Quick opted to take Briarcliff instead of Lullwater Road, and while Cayson waited for his schedule to load, he watched the cars whizzing around them, everyone with somewhere they were supposed to be.

The chime on his tablet alerted him that his first appointment was only an hour away. The rest of his schedule looked pretty light for a Friday, and he felt instant relief. Hopefully, by three at the latest, he’d be leaving. He needed time to process everything that’d happened. No covering in the ER tonight, either. He had a total of three checkup appointments, no names were listed, but he knew Nania would have a detailed schedule on his desk when he got there. Only two surgeries. The last was an incisional biopsy – no sweat – with monitored anesthesia. Oh, no. Please, no. But a quick flick of the screen and… fuck me! Cayson groaned. Not Dr. Joe.

“You alright, Cays?” Quick asked.

He only managed a slight curve of his mouth in reply.

Cayson pinched the bridge of his nose, his head lowered and his eyes squeezed shut, he couldn’t imagine his luck being so bad. Joe was employed by a network of hospitals, so he could show up in anyone’s operating room in any of the four hospitals within that network. He went where he was assigned. However, Cayson hadn’t had Dr. Joe in his OR in almost two months, and of all the times, he was paired with him after what’d just gone down between them. Cayson would be professional. He was certain Joe would, too. He wouldn’t dare risk anyone whispering about him, spreading rumors that he was behaving erratically in an OR. Joe’s surname had to remain untainted. Besides, it was a general rule not to bring your personal bullshit into anyone’s surgery. It meant life or death for the patient.

“I have a great idea!” Quick’s jovial voice broke into Cayson’s exhausting thoughts.

Cayson smiled a little brighter.Of course he does. I hope he’s full of great ideas.“What’s that?”

Quick rounded Clifton Road and pulled into a reserved parking space for physicians at the main entrance of the hospital, killing the engine. Quick turned in his seat, giving Cayson his full attention. Quick just watched him for a few seconds before he leaned over the large center console and kissed Cayson gently on the lips. “Good morning.” He beamed. Those gorgeous green eyes gleaming with all kinds of delicious mischief.

Cayson fully laughed this time. It felt good. Real good. “Good morning, Roman,” he replied breathlessly, absently licking his lips. Quick tasted just as good in the morning as he did at night.

“Duke texted me a moment ago. We have a bounty this afternoon. Usually I go and unwind somewhere after we’re finished, but I’d like to unwind with you... um, wait.” Quick’s eyes widened slightly. “Not unwind like that… you know… like I want in your pants… unwind, ya know… like go to a—”

Cayson put his hand on Quick’s hard shoulder, still chuckling at the big man’s fumbling. “I know what you meant.”

“Good. I’m still trying to redeem myself with you. I know last night was a clusterfuck.”

“No, our date wasn’t. The dinner was special to me and I enjoyed it very much. What happened with Joe was not your fault at all. Besides. You were right. He came back, pissed off and out of control. Things may have ended differently if you weren’t there. Joe wouldn’t’ve left. Not without a police escort.”

“I wasn’t concerned with being right. I was concerned about you.”

Cayson’s head swam with emotions. Was Quick really for real? He hoped so. But he’d already hoped for so long. He needed to be about the actuality. Meaning, he would judge on actions alone. No more fancy words or empty promises. Walk the talk or get the hell out of his face was his new motto. It seems Cayson thought of a new slogan each day. The fact of the matter was, Quick had been there for him. Told him he would be and then he came through for him. “Thank you for being there.”

“No thanks needed.”

“Yes, there is.” Cayson was feeling lightheaded and slightly tired, but at least he’d gotten five hours of sleep thanks to Quick, so he’d make it through the day. Thank god, it was Friday. He needed a couple days of reprieve.

“Well then, you can have dinner with me tonight as thanks, since you insist.” Quick slowly kissed the inside of Cayson’s palm while looking up at him through his dark brown lashes. No man ever did that to him. What did Quick see in Cayson’s hands anyway? It was the second time he’d done that. As if he read his thoughts, Quick spoke.

“These hands saved my best friend’s life. My son’s life.” Quick turned Cayson’s hand over, and began to sensually kiss and flick his thick tongue at each fingertip. “So soft,” he whispered, massaging Cayson’s palm now.

If Cayson didn’t leave soon, he was going to walk into the hospital with a mad hard-on that wouldn’t be concealed behind his dark gray slacks. But he swore that if he’d had no appointment scheduled right now, he’d probably be eyeing the space capacity of Quick’s backseat. Shaking away his lust, he responded to Quick’s request, when he finally remembered what it was. “You want to cook again?”


Page 13

“No.”

“Well, I’m a terrible cook. I might can boil water, but who knows. Never had time to learn,” Cayson confessed.

“Of course, you didn’t. I couldn’t imagine that much college,” Quick admitted.

“So you want to come back to my place?” Cayson offered begrudgingly. This conversation brought up all the times he’d wanted to go out but Joe didn’t.

“I was actually hoping to take you to a little place I love downtown. It’s quaint. Nice atmosphere, terrific food, and they have live music on Friday nights. It’s a hidden gem I found a while back.” Quick ran the backs of his fingers down Cayson’s freshly shaved jaw. His eyes clouded with doubt. “What d’ya say, huh? You want to go out on the town with an uncultured ruffian like me?”

Cayson was ecstatic. Out! Out on an actual date? He kept his poker face, he refused to gush, and blush like a teenager. The way Quick worded his last question, Cayson didn’t feel right beaming in the man’s face when he looked to be doubting himself. Did Quick honestly feel he wasn’t good enough for Cayson? It was nuts, because Cayson had been thinking the opposite. It was a boost to his ego, especially after Dr. Joe had demolished it mere hours ago. “Sure. I’d love to go out with you. That sounds like a real nice place.”

“You like jazz, yes? I saw your collection, it’s impressive.”

“I do.” Cayson smiled. “I love it. The collection’s kind of a hobby.”

Quick looked at his watch. Cayson needed to go and Quick had work to do, too. “Great! I’ll pick you up at home around six. That work?”

“Perfect. Yes.” That’d give Cayson time to get home and get a little shuteye before going out. Cayson opened his door, but turned when he felt a tug on his elbow. He hid his surprised smile. Quick wanted a kiss goodbye.

This time the kiss wasn’t chaste. It was full of sensual, smoking hot promises. Quick tasted like strong coffee and Cayson slowly dragged his tongue across Quick’s moist palate, seeking his unique taste, sucking his tongue hard enough to make the big man groan. But Quick yanked back like he’d been tazed, leaving Cayson blinking and wondering. Wondering how he could get just a bit more.

“I look forward to tonight, Cays,” Quick said breathlessly, his eyes pinched closed like it’d taken a lot of willpower to end that kiss.

With his own eyes slightly hooded, Cayson nodded. “Me, too. Be careful today.”

Quick winked. “I’ll be extra careful now.”

Cayson starred at Quick for a few seconds, trying to understand what he meant. When the silence had stretched into awkwardness, Cayson gripped his bag tightly and got out the large SUV before he screamed something stupid like, “Take me here! Take me now!”

Quick

Quick pulled his court duty, but it was as annoying and probably equivalent to a police detective having to pull traffic detail. They rotated that assignment because it was cruel and unusual punishment to make one person do it every day. Whenever they returned bonded defendants to jail on a revoked bond when they hadn’t shown up for court, the bail-skipper would get another hearing, and it was necessary for the bonded agent to be there. They also had to be sure to get their money back. The only thing that helped Quick pass the time, as the judge droned through the morning docket, were his thoughts of Cayson and their upcoming date.

Finally, it was lunchtime, and thankfully, the court had gotten to his last case right before it recessed. Quick was in his leathers, ready to get this last duty fulfilled so he could finish planning his date. Vaughan gave him a few pointers on topics to discuss, foods not to order unless you wanted dragon breath, how to be a good giver not just a taker, and of course: what he should wear on his first date with a man, you know, the things a typical father and son talk about. But, as soon as Vaughan hinted at discussing sex, Quick cut him off. He had to draw the line somewhere, and sex tips from his son were miles over that line. He was on his own there… well… he still had YouTube.

Quick was in the office, waiting on the guys to get there so they could recover a perp they’d been trying to find for almost six weeks. He was a two-time loser about to get his third strike, and they all knew what that meant. So the punk went into hiding. Only, the guy didn’t know how damn good they really were, and the King brothers could find an ant in a scorpion hive. There was nowhere to hide.

With his boots propped up on his desk, he enjoyed the peace and quiet while he surfed the web. First, he made reservations for his date, even though the woman who answered the phone at The Foxhole said it wasn’t necessary. But Quick wanted a certain table, so: yes, it was. Then he’d shock the shit out of his date with a very special outing after dinner. Sure, it’d been Vaughan’s idea, and Quick was nervous as hell to execute it perfectly. He’d certainly give it his all. He just hoped he wasn’t being too presumptuous. This was getting so exciting that he fought to drop the persistent smile which had been affixed to his face since he’d made the final preparation for their night out.

Quick craned his head back and looked out the window into the small parking lot to see if anyone had pulled up yet. With nervousness flittering in his stomach, he opened his YouTube app and typed in “gay sex,” his eyes widening to twice their size as soon as the results popped up. All varieties and flavors right there at the tips of his fingers. Taking another glance out at the parking lot, the coast still clear, he clicked on “hottest alpha males sex.” That directed him to a whole new site.

Quick didn’t feel like he had a specific type, but he knew enough to know he liked a man who behaved like one. Quick wanted a partner, not a headache, and certainly not a passive lover. While Cayson was intelligent and strikingly handsome, he was a tad timid, but Quick had noticed over the course of the time that he’d known Cayson, that the man had straightened his backbone significantly. And Quick found it very attractive. The way he stood up to that pretentious doctor, even though the man had delivered a brutal blow to Cayson’s pride. His doctor held his head high. Confidence was an important trait for him to see in someone when dating. He didn’t want to have to constantly build someone up, not at his age, anyway. That’s why he loathed this Dr. Joe character.

His gulp was audible when he saw the models for the alpha males site. Big men fucking other really big men. They were all so damn handsome and strong. Like him. Like his sweet doctor. Cayson may not be bulky, but he wasn’t small. It was obvious he took care of himself. His golden brown hair was cut in a sexy, but conservative, style. Enough on the top for Quick to run his fingers through. Quick groaned when he thought of Cayson naked and spread out for him like one of the models in the picture he’d clicked on. The video played for three erotic minutes before a pop-up appeared on his screen. If he wanted to see more, he had to put in some personal information. There was a seven-day free trial before they would charge his credit card twenty-five bucks. He should be able to get a sense of technique within seven days. He’d learn what to do to please Cayson if it killed him. 

“What you working on so seriously, Quick?”

Quick startled so hard at Ford’s deep voice that he’d comically wind-milled in his chair to keep it from falling completely backwards when he tried to clear the screen before the brothers could make their way to him. How the hell hadn’t he heard the door open? Kicking himself for being so stupid, he vowed to use his home computer for research from now own. The backlash he’d get would be nonstop if any of his team found out he was trying to learn how to fuck online. If Ford or Brian saw what he was looking at, he’d be the object of their ridicule for the next six damn months.

Ford paused at Quick’s theatrics, raising one thick brow in question. Quick tried to wave it off as nothing, diverting his eyes back to his computer, feigning deep concentration. He blinked, noticing he was staring at the blank screen. “Um, just research on that um… um… you know what case. The case.”

Ford continued to stare Quick down, Brian’s Special Forces-trained eye twitched like he sensed something was off. Quick glanced up and noticed him smirking while signing something to his brother that looked like a crude gesture. Fuck. Brian couldn’t’ve seen what Quick was looking at, his computer monitor faced away from the back door.

“Maybe so,” Ford confirmed. He and his brother were clearly sharing a private joke at Quick’s expense.

Brian suffered from a unique form of PTSD and had difficulty communicating with anyone other than his brother. While he was physically able to speak, he mentally could not. It was a sad story. One that was littered with words which were mostly military acronyms for something horrible: MIA, POW, AWOL. Frightening words that we, as free Americans can’t fathom, but nonetheless, it’s Brian’s story and only his to tell when he’s ready to do so.

“What did he say?” Quick growled at Ford, only making the brothers laugh harder.

“Ahh, nothing. Brian said you look like you just got caught jerking off to porn.”

Quick rolled his eyes and threw up his middle finger at Brian. He didn’t know sign language, but he knew the universal sign for fuck you. That’s all he needed to say to the enigmatic man. Quick continued to try to appear unfazed, but goddamn those perceptive ass military men. Just when Ford’s eyes bulged at the truthfulness of his brother’s signed words, Duke barged through door with Dana behind him. Phew, saved.

“Everyone set?” Duke said. They all began to check their weapons as soon as Duke spoke. “We go in ten, brothers. Be ready.”

Duke closed himself in his office while they suited up. Wearing leathers was hot and a little uncomfortable, even in the winter, but it was a necessity. Quick sure appreciated them when he was rolling around on asphalt. They prepared themselves in silence. No one talked or joked. A retrieval was serious business. All a person had to do to be able imagine the danger of a bounty hunter’s job, was picture how hard you’d be willing to fight to keep your freedom. That’s the type of aggression and desperation they faced every single time they went out.

They all knew their roles. Duke and Quick remained together and were the lead. Brian and Ford stayed on their six, making sure no one snuck up on them from behind, and of course, provided plenty of extra muscle. Before they’d hired the brothers, Quick and Duke used to fight back to back, but with the huge King brothers protecting them, Quick could concentrate on threats in front of them, knowing their asses were covered. Dana was the watch hunter. He was to keep communication open and alert them to any immediate or potential threats coming from the outside. He was a good hunter and a skilled marksman. They’d come to trust Dana over time, he was a solid addition to the group. As soon as they got to their location, Dana would take up a perch somewhere outside or in, depending on where they were.

Quick locked up his computer since he wouldn’t be coming back to the office. After the seize he planned to drop Duke off at home and continue to his place to handle a few tasks before it was time for his date. Quick triple checked his 9mm handguns before he holstered his weapons at his sides. He had a blade in his boot and one hooked to his belt. Both were necessary and had saved his life on more than one occasion. His utility vest held a silencer in one pocket, lock picking tools, police-issue pepper spray, and a couple other cool gadgets Ford had gotten from his military contacts. The grenades, they left locked in the safe at the office. Quick never laughed as hard when he saw Duke’s reaction when Ford opened up the box, revealing three real military hand grenades. “When the hell are we going to have to use those, Ford?” Duke hollered, shaking his head frantically. It was quite a sight. Duke threatened Ford’s life if he got them in trouble for possessing illegal military contraband. However, there was a seize in Buckhead about four months ago where one of those grenades would’ve come in handy.

Standing in their spacious building, each of them reflected on what was important to them as they prepared not just their weapons, but their minds. They were a band of brothers, an army. When together, their defense was impenetrable.

After their final moments of silence, Ford asked for everyone’s attention while he unlocked the bottom cabinet of his own desk and pulled out something that looked like a storage box for cigars.Oh, boy. Here we go. What is it today?Live mines to put around the building, perhaps? When Quick moved in closer, he noticed what was in the box. Eight of them. Masculine identical wrist watches. Quick didn’t know why, but they looked rare and expensive. They were similar to any higher-end sports watch, but there was no brand name.

“These are military grade. Can’t get them anywhere,” Ford said proudly.

“You got them.” Quick smirked.

Ford was a man of few words. He responded by methodically lifting the cover like the contents were poisonous and held out one of the watches to Quick. He took it, shaking his head. “I like my own watch.”

“I’m sure you do. But this one can save your life.”

Quick was more interested now. “How so? Does it shoot poisonous darts?”

Ignoring him, Ford pushed a button on the side, and the face glowed bright orange. It had all the important components of a regular watch, including the crown for adjusting the time, but there were three buttons on the opposite side that didn’t belong.


Page 14

“Top button alerts and dispatches emergency services to your exact location. Think of OnStar. Kinda works like that. Middle one is linked to all of us. If you press and hold for three or more seconds, our watches will alarm with your exact location. It will also relay back to you when we receive your message. The last button you can program to do whatever you want. It can link to any one time piece or to any registered cell, land, or secure line.”

“Damn. That’s wild as hell, Ford. How did you get these gadgets, man?” Dana asked, taking his own watch off and fastening the one Ford handed to him securely around his right wrist.

Quick did the same. The wide strap of black leather was pulled tight while he surveyed the features. The center of the watch was a typical dial with ivory watch hands and a recessed dial that was a mother of pearl etching of the world. It was classy as fuck, but the leather band would match the expensive piece with any possible outfit.

As soon as they all had their own, each of them familiarizing themselves with the new gadget, a shrill alarm pierced the room, making all of them instinctually reach for their firearms. Ford had pushed his alert on his watch.

“You’re an ass,” Dana yelled over the noise, holding his hand over his chest. The shrill ring sounded like a firehouse alarm. There was no way to miss it or ignore it.

“This is what it will sound like if you push the button to alert anyone in the team,” Ford explained, continuing his short demonstration. “You can contact one of us or all of us at the same time. We’re talking state of the art, boys. This thing can get tossed into the deepest parts of the ocean and still work.” He showed them a few other interesting features, including web and some phone services. Quick was tech savvy enough that he was able to catch on fairly easy. 

Quick saw a map display on the face of his watch, the time now flashing a digital display at the top. A red dot pulsed over the map, then the address to their office appeared a millisecond later. This thing was the fucking truth. It was basically a GPS tracker that also told the time. Maybe it would come in handy. He’d need two, though.

“Let’s roll, men,” Duke said, coming out of his office, in his full-on leather and bulletproof vest. He took his watch from Ford as well, telling all of them that it was now a permanent part of their uniform and must be worn at all times. As business boomed, they found themselves taking more bonds and accepting contracts from other bond agents who didn’t do their own retrievals. If any of them got in a jam, this gadget could be extremely beneficial.

Quick noticed Duke was implementing a lot more security measures. First the earpieces and now this. He could only imagine how much these watches set them back. Whether purchased legally or not. Even for the lower risk seizes, Duke was triple careful. Quick wasn’t mad about it. His best friend had something special to live for. Quick hoped he did too. He tightened the straps on his own vest and fell in line behind Duke as they filed into the vehicles. Brian and Ford in the middle, and Dana drove the truck that was designed for transporting their detainees.

Duke pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot off of Queen Street. The other Suburban, driven by Brian crept past them, circling around the block, getting in position to take up the rear. Dana was the last to pull in. He parked the truck behind the dumpster, since it was the only vehicle that said Bail Bonds on the side. Quick noticed the warehouse across the street had too much activity going on in the parking lot for Dana to get on the roof unnoticed. They watched as Dana hurriedly scanned the area before he walked quickly towards the McDonalds.

“Is he really about to get on the McDonald’s roof?” Duke laughed.

Quick laughed a low rumble. “Looks that way. Luckily, there are hardly any customers. Should be fine if we’re fast.”

They waited until Dana was ready, his rifle assembled and aimed in the direction of their skip’s last known address. It was the defendant’s girlfriend’s house. Brian had been scoping out the house for weeks, when he finally confirmed that RayBud – as he was known on the streets – was back there again.

The intel these brothers provided was the best. Quick was sure it was all due to their military background, about which was little known, but their methods weren’t a topic the brothers liked to discuss, so they typically didn’t.

“We’re in position.” Brian’s voice came through their earpieces.

Duke and Quick were out of the truck and jogging up to the front door just as Brian and Ford came around the rear, keeping watch on the back door. Trash littered the yard, everything from old car parts, to beer cans, random trash, and a shit load of cigarette butts overflowed out of an old flowerpot. Duke had been informed that no children, elderly or other relatives lived there. Across the street, he ignored a couple of old men looking on from their porch as they got into position.

“Dana?” Duke inquired quickly, mindful to keep his voice down. 

“All set, Boss. Looks good from up top. Perimeter is clear.”

“Copy that.” Duke turned to Quick and got his nod, confirming he was ready. He flicked his head in the direction of the door, asking if Quick wanted to do the honors. Without missing a beat, Quick banged on the door, simultaneously yelling, “BOUNTY HUNTERS! OPEN THE DOOR OR WE WILL BUST IT OPEN!”

Technically, they didn’t have to knock or announce themselves, but why destroy someone’s door if they were willing to open it? Quick knocked hard once more and stepped back, ready to kick it down, when a woman cracked open the door, just enough for them to see her mouth.

“Open the door, ma’am. We’re here for RayBud,” Duke said, flashing his identification. His bounty hunter star on one side and his bonds license on the other. He pulled the revoked bond order from his back pocket and waved it in the woman’s line of sight. “We have a right to enter without your consent, ma’am.”

“He’s not here. He’s at work,” she lied, still keeping the front door open only a couple of inches.

“He’s out the back, Duke!” Dana yelled in their ears. With the woman completely forgotten, Duke and Quick both busted through the front door, careful to watch for any hidden threats as they vaulted through the dark living room. Quick pushed on the sliding glass door, but it was locked. Not caring about preserving the doors anymore, he picked up one of the wood dining room chairs and slung it with all his might. He and Duke both put their leather-clad forearms in front of their faces to block the majority of the shattering glass.

“You assholes! You broke my door! I’m calling the police!” the woman yelled, throwing cups and anything else she could find at their backs as Quick and Duke raced through the backyard. They already knew there was no fence or gate, so they doubled their speed.

“Don’t let that fucker get away, Brian!” Duke yelled out, the sound of his deep voice deafening in their ears.

The brothers were in the lead – Brian was faster than Ford – almost a half block ahead of them. Goddamn if they both didn’t have the build and physical stamina of NFL linebackers.

“Which way?” Quick heard Ford huff through their earpieces.

“North on Ralph.

“Is he armed?”

“Unknown at this time,” Dana said, his watchful eye tracking everyone’s movements through his scope. 

“Copy that,” Ford confirmed.

“Proceed with caution,” Duke reminded.

No sooner had they rounded on Ralph Boulevard, Quick saw Brian’s massive frame go airborne and crash down on their perp’s back, sending them rolling across the unforgiving asphalt. Brian ended up on the bottom. Quick and Duke were closing in fast, but Ford got there first, and Quick knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. Ford lost it anytime someone touched his baby brother. Never mind that he was military trained as well, and was capable of taking care of himself. Ford, still running full speed, dove head first, knocking RayBud off his brother. This was why they wore the leather. Otherwise, Ford and his brother would have a seriously nasty case of road burn.

RayBud was yelling his surrender, but Quick still had to pull Ford off the scared man. Duke dropped a hard knee onto their skip’s back, making him yell out in anguish. “Someone help me! Record this! Police brutality!”

“Shut up. You shouldn’t’ve run, idiot,” Duke grumbled as he secured their perp’s hands and feet with zip ties. They weren’t required to Mirandize their detainees because they weren’t cops, they only had one sentence to say, everything else could be handled by the authorities. “Your bond has been revoked, Raymond Jones, for failure to appear in court.” Duke pulled RayBud up and began to walk him past the small crowd that’d gathered to gawk.

Brian was up now, brushing the gravel off his clothes. His brother looking on with a watchful eye. Quick asked Brian if he was okay, and of course, he got a dismissive wave. If any of them were hurt, they’d deal with it later.

Dana pulled up to the curb with the gutted out truck and helped Duke frisk their skip before loading a still screaming RayBud into the back. There were a few people standing back with their cell phones raised high, recording their every move, but Quick didn’t give a damn. That was a regular occurrence. RayBud was a coke dealer who didn’t mind that ninety percent of his clientele were high school kids. Now he was off the streets. They deserved medals. Let them shoot their cell phone video; he’d love to star on the six o’clock news.

Speaking of six o’clock… Quick checked his new hi-tech watch. It was a little past one. Dana had transport duty today, so Quick’s day was officially over. He’d drop off Duke at the office and then he’d handle a few things before he picked up his date.

Quick waited for Duke to check on Brian and Ford. They confirmed they were both alright and said they’d head back to the office to handle the last of the paperwork. Real team players. 

When Dana pulled away from the curb, Duke and he made the short trek back to his vehicle. “Back to the office.”

“Um. Drop me off at the hospital,” Duke said, now checking his own timepiece. “I’m a little behind.”

“Hospital? Why?”

“I’m cool. It’s just a checkup. I had planned on rescheduling, but Vaughan wasn’t having it.”

Quick’s mood rose even higher. “Oh, no problem. I’ll take you, even walk you inside.”

“I think I can manage, buddy.”

“No. I insist.”

“I just bet you fuckin’ do.” Duke laughed.

Quick didn’t care that he and Cayson already had plans to see each other later. He missed him. He’d only admit that to himself right now, though.

Cayson

“Dr. Chauncey, your two o’clock is here,” Nania’s professional voice echoed through his intercom.

Thank god. Last appointment until Monday. Cayson smoothed down his light blue tie and waited for Duke to come in. There was the sharp rap of knuckles on his door before it opened. As soon as Duke cleared the doorway, Cayson greeted him with a sincere smile, but it soon turned megawatt when Quick followed Duke in.

He stood and shook Duke’s hand before hugging him briefly in greeting, like he always did. “Good to see you, Duke. I see you brought company.” Cayson gave Quick a personal wink and got a charming one right back. He wanted to lean in and kiss Quick, and maybe even rut on his thigh for a few seconds. There was something about those guys when they walked around, towering over everyone, like they were gods of the universe, in all that black with weapons hanging off of them. You’d think the apocalypse was right outside the safe confines of the hospital. The large, bold white letters, spelling BOUNTY HUNTER across their chests made you want to never miss a scheduled court date if they were going to send men who looked like Duke and Quick to get you. 

With one final look of approval thrown Quick’s way, Cayson overcame the urge to touch the big man and walked back behind his desk. Duke was here in a professional capacity, so he’d act as such. He gestured for Duke and Quick to get comfortable. Duke sat down in his usual chair in front of Cayson’s desk and Quick sat on the couch, crossing his leg and resting his boot on the opposite knee. Yes, the same couch he’d been reclining on just last night when Quick rubbed the tension from his shoulders. Blinking, he cleared his throat, not wanting his hard dick to get to the point of painful.

“I hadn’t planned on bringing company, Doc, but someone insisted on tagging along.” Duke didn’t look behind him, so he didn’t notice Quick’s middle finger aimed at the back of his head. He really was a roughneck. Cayson didn’t mind the character trait at all. He made it feel so right to do something bad and wrong. True, Quick was a law-abiding citizen, but dressed like he was, Cayson felt it okay to indulge in a few fantasies.

Cayson was able to get through Duke’s appointment quickly since they were only going over his lab results from his last visit. The man was in his prime and extremely healthy. His kidneys were functioning well, and looking through Duke’s journal, he saw very little documentation of any complications. He was supposed to document any pain or even twinges he felt during his everyday routine. Cayson squinted at one particular entry, two weeks ago. “Are you still experiencing numbness in your right leg, Duke?” Cayson asked. 


Page 15

“No. I think it was a onetime thing. I may have been sitting too long.”

Cayson watched Duke for a moment. “You sure?”

“Yeah. I’m good. I haven’t felt it anymore, and even then, it only lasted a few minutes.”

“Alright, then.” Cayson closed the worn notebook and gave it back to Duke. His was a classic fairy tale story. Vaughan swept in like a white knight and saved Duke’s life, in hopes they’d have a future together. Cayson was glad he’d got to be a part of that. It made all that time in isolation at medical school and residencies worth it. “If it happens again, please call. Don’t wait until your next appointment. I’ll want to get another MRI and see if there are any new developments.”

Duke stood and clapped his hands once. “Sure thing, Doc.” He turned to Quick. “Ready to go, buddy?”

“Sure.” Quick stood and stretched his back. “I’ll meet you out front.”

“Good to see you, Duke. Everything looks fine. Make sure you see Nania to schedule your next appointment. You know the drill.”

“Sure do.”

When Duke closed the door behind him, Quick didn’t waste a second before he had his arms around Cayson’s waist, pulling him into him. Quick held him, caressed his back, his neck, dipping down, he placed a sugary sweet kiss on Cayson’s cheek. “How’d your surgeries go this morning?”

Cayson adored that question. Smiling in the safety of Quick’s arms, his cheek pressed against the hard steel that was Quick’s chest, while he recalled his day. He absently fingered the gold bounty hunter star clipped to Quick’s thick belt. He was enjoying their current position, so he took his time answering. 

“It was good. It was routine, no complications.”

“My brilliant surgeon.” Quick kissed his forehead in praise, continuing his light massage.

“I-I actually had Dr. Joe as the anesthesiologist for my biopsy.”

Quick stiffened before he pulled Cayson back, concern etched all over his gorgeous face. “What happened? Did he hurt you? Did he say some shit to you?” Quick wasn’t yelling, but his posture shouted how upset he was.

“Nothing happened. No, he didn’t hurt me; he didn’t utter a word. Matter of fact, Joe acted like he’d never seen me before. I think he was more terrified than anything.”

“Terrified?”

Cayson rubbed his hand over his chin, thinking about Joe’s abnormal behavior. He should’ve known Cayson wouldn’t out him. For years, they’d been civil, but mostly friendly colleagues. “Uh-huh. He came into the OR looking pale and sick. I gave him a curt nod, ya know. Kinda saying hey. But he ignored me and turned around. He kept his back to me for the entire forty-five minute procedure.”

“Fine. As long as he doesn’t step out of bounds, I don’t care how silly he acts.” Quick pulled Cayson back to him. He loved how Quick used touch to express himself. Cayson was the same way. He loved being embraced, moved, and even manhandled. Quick tilted his chin up. “I thought about you today.”

“You did?” Cayson grinned. Hell. He really shouldn’t be that happy about such a very broad statement. Quick could’ve thought anything about him, and here he was prematurely celebrating. Straitening himself he asked, “What did you think?”

“Well, I made the preparations for our date tonight, and I couldn’t help but picture you happy and leaning into me all night while I wine and dine you.” Quick’s smile was amazing. Behind those full lips were pretty white teeth, although the bottom ones were a little crowded. Cayson felt it gave Quick more character.

“I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to it.” Cayson looked Quick in his eyes and said honestly, “I thought about you, too.”

Quick didn’t ask what about, like he’d done. Instead, his bounty hunter leaned in and let his tongue do the talking. Cayson groaned as soon as Quick’s tongue met his. Oh, god, he tasted wild and new. Cayson linked his hands behind Quick’s neck and let him take the reins while he enjoyed the exciting new ride. His stomach rose and fell as if he were on a rollercoaster at Busch Gardens.

“Taste so damn good,” Quick murmured against Cayson’s mouth before he delved in again.

Cayson knew he needed to put a stop to this. This wasn’t the time or place for intimacy. He knew of several doctors who fucked in the hospital – albeit nurses – or spouses who showed up in the guise of simply bringing a surgeon dinner, all the while, they’re naked under their long cashmere coats. Cayson had class, if nothing else. He wouldn’t be caught bare-assed, bent over his desk. He was the one to break the kiss next, but Quick wasn’t having it.

“I’m not done,” he said in his roughened tone, pulling Cayson back in. His lust and passion flowed off him in waves, filling a huge void within Cayson. He wasn’t done either, not by a long shot, but he needed to have this exact moment in his living room, not in his office with his nurse just outside the door.

“I don’t want you to be done, either. But can we continue a little more of that tonight?” Cayson blushed.

Quick clasped both of Cayson’s hands and removed them from behind his neck, placing a quick couple kisses on his knuckles before releasing him. “You can have whatever you want tonight. I promise.”

Cayson was starting to become fond of Quick’s promises. At least it wasn’t just verbiage, or a common term he threw out on a whim. Quick meant it. If he promised, it’d be done. Quick was a confident, sure man. Just the type of man he needed in his life. Had always wanted, but didn’t find. Quick may have gotten off to a rocky start, but Cayson couldn’t keep holding it over the man’s head. He’d accepted Quick’s apology, now he needed to forget about the past and focus on a future. He wasn’t over the hill. He had a lot of good years left. Years he didn’t want to spend alone, no matter what pep talk he gave himself. He needed to be positive. He wasn’t going on this date with animosity in his heart. He wanted to give him and Quick a real fighting chance.

Quick hugged him tight one last time before he let his hands go. 

Cayson took off his white lab coat and hung it on the coat rack behind his door and grabbed his blazer and his parka. He was done for the day, and he chuckled at Quick’s surprised smile when he noticed that Cayson was leaving with him.

“You’re done for the day?”

“I am.” Cayson flicked off the light switch and closed his door, double-checking it was locked. “Finished the last of my rounds right before you got here.”

Duke was standing there charming Nania while he waited patiently for Quick. Cayson only made brief eye contact with a smug, slightly amused Duke. It was as if the man saw through the reinforced steel that was his office door and watched him tongue down his best friend.

“All set?” Duke looked back and forth between them.

Cayson sucked his kiss-swollen bottom lip into his mouth, trying to hide it. It was useless. He’d been kissed until he was gasping for breath, and there was no hiding that. Cayson released his pink lip and gave Duke a wary smile.

“We’re outta here,” Quick confirmed.

With Quick’s steady hand on the small of Cayson’s back, he plucked the two pink message slips from Nania’s inbox as he bid her a goodnight.

“Goodnight, Dr. Chauncey. Have a good weekend. And come back on Monday as happy as you were today. Whatever you took this morning worked wonders for your mood.” She laughed loud, making Cayson blush.

Of course. Cayson could fell the warmth all over his neck and at the tips of his ears. Quick walked alongside him, and looked down to wink his appreciation at what he’d heard. There was only one reason Cayson was so happy today, and it was because of his hearty dose of Roman Webb right before it started.

Duke nodded at Quick and put his hand up for a high five, then left his flat palm up for Cayson too. “Bout damn time you guys got that party started. Put it up, Doc.” Cayson laughed, but he slapped Duke’s hand anyway. He felt like one of the guys. At least that’s how he felt on the inside, but the outward appearance – him walking with two huge bounty hunters down the hall – made him look like he was being escorted to jail.

“Where are you parked?” Cayson asked Quick. Remembering the man had insisted on driving Cayson to work instead of letting him drive himself. It was okay. Cayson could’ve gotten a ride home with anyone. He wasn’t far away at all. Walking distance if it weren’t so brisk out.

“I’m in visitors’ parking.”

“Let’s cut through the ER, it’s faster. Not interested in the scenic route today,” Cayson said, trying to avoid the busy main lobby.

When Cayson came through the ever-swinging double doors of the emergency room, he was met with quite a few curious, but mostly shocked stares from the nurses and a couple over-worked doctors.

“Dr. Chauncey. Everything okay?” Renee asked him. Standing to get a better look at his large escorts. That woman was the biggest gossipmonger. She wasn’t concerned for him; she wanted scoop to talk about on her lunch break.

“Yes, Renee. I’m fine, thank you.” Cayson kept his stride, and only managed to get another twenty feet before he was blocked by the ER’s security guard. Cayson was familiar with the stout man, but couldn’t say he knew him.

“Is there a problem?” he asked, jutting out his chest, his shiny silver badge gleaming in the harsh fluorescent lighting as though he polished it every night.

Duke scoffed at the guard and Cayson elbowed him in the arm for it. “I’m not being arrested, they’re friends.” Cayson stood in front of Quick to sort any confusion, and Quick eased in right behind Cayson and placed a protective arm over his chest. The security officer was fast to get the hint and moved aside.

“Dr. Chauncey, introduce us to yourfriends,” Renee purred, leaning over the nurse’s counter, eyeing Duke and Quick like they were on auction.Why did I come this way, again?Renee not so subtly licked her lips, and Cayson almost busted out laughing. If she only knew.

Cayson was known as a really nice guy in the hospital. All the nurses loved when he came down to help out. He may not have had Joe’s last name, he wasn’t a Wellington, with medical-administrative-clout flowing out of his ears, but he was a highly sought after nephrologist. He’d been flown all over the country to give consultations or second opinions. Despite what Dr. Joe thought, Cayson was doing just fine on his own. Most everyone enjoyed working with him, simply because he respected them. He didn’t bark at the nurses, and the doctors didn’t mind that he’d cover for any of them in a heartbeat.

“Hey, you. In the red tie, behind that computer. Don’t I know you?” Cayson craned his neck, looking at Quick to see who he was talking too.

Following Quick’s line of sight, he spotted Dr. Joe, practically hiding behind one of the computers in the HUB. “Roman. Don’t,” Cayson admonished seriously, but Quick was ignoring him. 

“Is that him?” Duke whispered, oblivious to Cayson’s pleading. He’d had a feeling Quick would tell Duke about Joe and what happened last night, but he didn’t think they’d gang up on the man.

“That’s him, alright.” Quick wasn’t loud, but he wasn’t quiet, either. They now had the attention of the entire damn department. Everyone turned and looked at Dr. Joe, wondering what Quick was referring too. Intrigued. Trying to figure out the relationship between the four of them.

Quick snapped his fingers as if he was really contemplating. “I have seen your face somewhere before, haven’t I?”

Dr. Joe looked as sick as the patients, his usual peach coloring rapidly leaving his face, making it appear transparent and gray. Joe shook his head in mortification, looking around at all the eyes now trained on him. It was Joe’s biggest nightmare come true – he was going to be outed. There was no way Cayson was going to let that happen.

Cayson put his back to the staff and looked up at Quick’s eyes, hoping he’d pay attention. “Don’t do this, please. Leave him alone. If you have any respect for me. Don’t do this,” Cayson begged on Joe’s behalf. Sure, Joe had done him wrong on more than a few occasions, but this wasn’t the way to get even. The game Quick and Duke were playing with Joe wasn’t going to end well. Everyone would lose.

Quick finally looked down at Cayson. “Stop it. Stop, now.”

Duke flicked his head in the direction they’d been walking. “Let’s go, Rome. That’s not who you think it is.”

Quick held Joe’s eyes, putting his huge arm protectively around Cayson’s shoulders. Now Cayson’s own face was blooming bright with color and embarrassment.

“No. You’re right.” Although they were talking to each other, Duke and Quick kept their hunter eyes on Joe. Whatever private cryptic message they were trying to relay to Joe, Cayson didn’t think he got it. “That’s not him. Sorry man. Thought you were someone else.”

As soon as Cayson got outside, he walked off in the other direction, leaving a laughing Duke and Quick to themselves. If they thought that was funny, Cayson wanted nothing to do with them. If that wasn’t a form of bullying, he didn’t know what was. Joe probably would’ve preferred they stuff him in his locker than embarrass him in front of his peers.

Quick

“Uh-oh.” Duke pointed at Cayson’s retreating back and Quick spun around, his laughter dying fast, replaced with confusion. He wondered where his handsome doctor was rushing off too, and without him. He told Duke to get in the truck, while he jogged up the sidewalk and caught up with Cayson.


Page 16

Quick hooked Cayson’s arm and spun him around to talk to him. The look he got felt like a slap across his face. Lowering his head, he knew already why Cayson was mad, and decided to let him have it.

“If you are going to humiliate me in my place of business, then I’d prefer you not visit, Roman.” Cayson put one hand on his hip, the other he pointed back towards the ER’s doors. “What was that in there?”

“I wasn’t trying to humiliate you, babe. I was giving the good ole doctor there a dose of his own medicine. I’m sure it was a very hard pill for him to swallow.” Quick rubbed Cayson’s shoulder, inching in closer to him. He lowered his voice, hoping to hurry up and diffuse this bomb before it exploded and got out of hand. “Cays, I sure don’t recall Dr. Joe, or whatever, feeling this bad when he yelled out your secrets to your entire street. Did he even bother to apologize? No. Instead, he treated you like nothing again today.”

“None of that concernsyou. That’s my business. Not yours. I didn’t ask you to fix this, Rome. I don’t need you to!” Cayson argued.

“I apologize. It was juvenile and unnecessary. I was only thinking of you, and that makes me do crazy things. It makes me overprotective. Makes me want to right all the wrongs done to you.” Quick chuckled mirthlessly. “I thought you’d want to see him squirm a bit, for a change.”

Cayson turned his head, but Quick caught a glimpse of that lopsided grin. He’d only wanted to show Cayson he was on his side and he’d pay back anyone who hurt him. But, Cayson was right. He was a well-liked and respected man at work. He would never want him to lose any of his colleagues’ admiration. Next time he encountered Dr. Joe, he’d make sure it was in a territory he controlled. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Meaning completely unexpected and not so much immediate. He’d speak with Duke and Ford about this later. Surely they’d come up with something fitting for Joe’s crime against someone they admired.

“Come on. Don’t walk. Let me drive you home, okay?”

Cayson looked reluctant to agree until Quick gripped the back of Cayson’s head and pulled him in for a kiss that showed him just how truly sorry he was for upsetting him. He felt the doctor’s hands on his waist, drawing him in even closer until their stomachs and chests were flush together. Quick heard Cayson’s moan and it went straight to his nuts. He regretfully released Cayson, not wanting to start anything lewd in a surveillance-monitored parking lot. “Unless you really want some admin problems, I think we should continue this kiss later, too.”

“You know, kissing me isn’t going to get you out of hot water every time,” Cayson said defiantly, leading them back towards the truck.

Quick smirked smugly. Loving that Cayson was speaking of them in the future tense. “But did it work this time?”

“Yes.”

Duke was already in the driver seat, so Quick opened the passenger doors, helping Cayson into the back of the large cab. After they fastened their belts, Duke took off in the direction of the main road. Quick could see an impish grin on his best friend’s face out of the corner of his eye and knew he was ready to start in on him with some good-natured ribbing. “Should we stop by the florist on the way, Rome?”

“Fuck off,” Quick snarled, turning and giving Cayson a look that promised payback, since he thought Duke’s joke was so hysterical. Duke was laughing so hard, Cayson right along with him; he could barely give Duke the directions to his house in Inman.

When they pulled up to Cayson’s fence, Quick was the first one to see the large gold box on Cayson’s doorstep with a huge yellow bow tied around it. “What the hell?” Quick and Duke were out of the truck at the same time. It was amazing how tuned in to each other they were. Years of a partnership, devoid of any romance, only pure trust and loyalty to a brother, made them a dangerous duo.

“From him, you think?” Duke asked, hopping the locked gate just as easily as Quick did.

“Why do you keep doing that?” Cayson wondered. Pulling his keys out of his messenger bag and unlocking his gate. “It does open, ya know.”

Quick picked up the box, ripping the card from where it was tucked inside the ribbon.

“Um. Do you mind?” Cayson raced up the steps and snatched the card from Quick’s hand, flipping the blank envelope over while unlocking his front door.

“Does good ole Joe have a key to your place?” Quick hated to ask that question, dreading an answer he didn’t want to hear, but it was necessary.

“No. He doesn’t. Only to the gate.”

“Get it back,” Quick ordered.

Cayson looked at him like he’d lost his damn mind and Quick rushed to back-pedal. Cayson didn’t need to be told what to do; he’d probably gotten enough of that from previous partners. “I’m sorry. Too much. I mean, he doesn’t need his key anymore, right?”

“Right,” Cayson confirmed, letting Duke and Quick in behind him.

Quick looked around, satisfied that no one had been inside. Everything was exactly how they’d left it that morning. Cayson’s half-eaten bagel and Quick’s coffee cup sat side by side on the kitchen island.

Duke set the obvious flower box on the living room table, standing back from it. Quick and Duke’s eyes met over Cayson’s head while he opened the box, revealing two dozen long stem red roses. More expensive than the bouquet he’d purchased. Cayson opened the card, and Quick was shameless when he leaned forward to read the almost unintelligible penmanship over his shoulder.

I’ve changed. I miss you.

J.

“Motherfucker!” Quick bit out. He was well aware now that red roses meant love. 

“Calm down, Quick,” Duke said cautiously. “Nothing wrong with a little friendly competition.”

“I don’t want competition,” Quick grumbled.

“Not up for the challenge?” Cayson asked nonchalantly, tossing the entire box of flowers in the kitchen trashcan along with the note.

“I don’t mind putting in the work, Doc. But I won’t be made a fool of.”

“Fair enough,” Cayson agreed.

“Duke. Can you wait for me in the truck?”

Duke nodded and left after saying a short goodbye to his doctor. 

“Cays. Come’re.” Quick took Cayson’s hand and led him back over to the couch. He was going to wait to give this to Cayson after their date but it suddenly felt appropriate right now. The unease he felt in his stomach was his instincts. Hair didn’t raise on his neck or arms when he sensed danger. No. Quick felt it in the pit of his stomach. Apprehension about leaving Cayson right now felt like lead weight in his belly. He couldn’t treat his doctor like a child. He was a man. A man who could handle his own affairs. As his hopefully future boyfriend, Quick’s job was to back him up, not push him aside and take over his life for him. Obviously, he’d done fine all this time without Quick. If he wasn’t careful, Cayson would continue on without him.

Quick pulled out the military sports watch and showed it to Cayson.

“Are you giving me a watch?” Cayson was smiling, but he looked confused, too.

“This watch is exactly the same as mine. It’s a tracking device.”

Cayson blinked incredulously. “Excuse me?”

“Easy. Let me explain.” Quick put a calming hand on Cayson’s thigh, rubbing absently while he explained all the features.

“I’m not trying to keep tabs on you, babe. I just want you to have a way to contact help immediately, if you need too.”

“I can simply call.”

“Emergencies don’t always happen around a phone.”

“I’ve never needed anything like this, Rome. I have no enemies.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, if you’re thinking of someone in particular. I’d still say no. I’m not afraid of Joe.”

“Being careful doesn’t have a damn thing to do with being afraid. We all have the same ones on our wrists.” Quick unhooked Cayson’s elegant watch and replaced it with the new one. One he hoped he’d never have to use. If Quick was nothing else, he was cautious. He refused to take second chances. Not with Cayson, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t.

“The last button here only alerts me. If you push and hold it, your location will flash across my watch. If you push this one, you’ll have five men barreling in your direction within seconds.”

“God, no. Okay, so never hold that button down. I’m only wearing it because it’s kinda James Bondish. I like the pearl and gold. But I know I won’t need it.”

“That’s all I want.” Quick hooked his arm around Cayson, their thighs pressed next to each other. Quick dipped down, seeking out Cayson’s mouth. “I gotta drop Duke off and get home to change. I’ll be back in a couple hours.” Quick spoke against Cayson’s temple, kissing him gently there and on his forehead before he stood and walked back towards the front door.

“Okay,” Cayson replied softly.

Six o’clock couldn’t get here fast enough to suit Quick. He needed uninterrupted time with his new man. Time to show him how much better life would be with him at his side. Someone that’d be proud to show him off. Dr. Cayson Chauncey was too wonderful to be someone’s secret lover.

Cayson

He didn’t even take the watch off when he showered. Quick told him to make it a part of his skin, and since he couldn’t take that off, he wouldn’t take off the watch, either. He was too wired to nap, so Cayson turned on the radio in his room to a classic rock station. He loved all kinds of music, but when he was in a really good mood, he wanted to hear some Tom Petty, Steve Miller, or someone equally good. He wasn’t much of a dancer, but he could bob his head to the beat.

The music buoyed his mood tenfold, and he got more and more excited as six grew nearer. He was showered, shaved, and dressed in under an hour. He opted for dark blue jeans and a white and tan collared shirt. He left it untucked, throwing a camel corduroy blazer over it. Not knowing how much walking they’d do, he chose his comfortable, tan casual shoes. He hadn’t worn cologne in ages, but he still had a few dusty bottles in his bathroom drawer. Working in a hospital, it was courteous to the patients not to wear overpowering fragrances. He was so out of date. Checking the names of each one, he froze when he saw Stetson fading sadly on one of the bottles. Not that it was a bad fragrance; it was just so damn old. Cayson had the original one with the cowboy and horse on the label.Jesus. I bought that bottle in college.There was no way Cayson was putting any of that on. He’d probably have to treat himself for chemical burns if he did.

He yelled, “Ah-ha!” when he picked up the Kenneth Cole cologne giftset with aftershave that he’d got from the Pollyanna his nurse made him participate in last Christmas. Right now, he was so happy she did. He gave the cologne a sniff before he sprayed a fine mist around his collar. That was plenty. He walked around with a glass of Port in his hand while the Red Hot Chili Peppers screamed through his Dolby speakers about giving it away now. He startled slightly at the sound of his doorbell. It was only five forty. Quick was early. Thank goodness. Because, if Quick was even one minute late, Cayson would already be nervous about being stood up.

Cayson opened the door without even a who is it? Jerking to a pause when he saw Dr. Joe standing there, looking nervous and uncomfortable.

“Did you get my flowers?” Joe asked quietly, anxiously looking around, like someone was in Cayson’s hedges with a long-range mic and a TMZ camera. “Can I come in?” Joe finally asked after Cayson just stared at him through his storm door.

“I was just getting ready to leave, Joe. This isn’t a good time.”

Joe finally got a good look at Cayson, narrowing his eyes with realization. “Are you going out with him?” Joe said the word “him” like some would say the word “shit.” With pure disgust.

“That’s none of your business.” Cayson stepped out onto the porch and closed his door behind him. There was no way he was about to get caught in the house alone with Joe when his date would be there any minute.

“It is my business. You are going to get yourself in a world of trouble, Cayson. Traipsing around with those two thugs at the hospital this afternoon. Are you trying to lose your license?”

Cayson barked a sad laugh. “You keep using the word thug to describe my friends – one of whom is my patient – and I don’t appreciate it.” Quick had been sticking up for Cayson; maybe it was time Cayson did the same for him. “They are bounty hunters. Didn’t you see their uniforms?”

“That’s just a cover occupation for hoodlums who want to fight and hurt people legally.”

“My gosh. Joe, you do know bounty hunters put criminals back in jail when they try to evade going to court? I mean, that’s common knowledge. I would hardly say they’re hoodlums. I sleep better knowing there are occupations like that out there to keep people safe.”

Joe shook his head pityingly, as if Cayson were the most naïve person in the world. “You always have been too trusting, Cayson. But I’m not going to keep giving you chances,” he said harshly.

“I didn’t ask for a chance at anything, Joe.”

“I mean it, dangit!”

“Joe, settle down. I don’t understand any of this.” Cayson took a step back; needing distance between him and a man he thought was his friend. That was the only thing Cayson had ever been naïve about. Joe was turning that frightening shade of red again, and Cayson noticed his fists were balled up and shaking at his sides. Joe was being completely irrational, and Cayson hated to admit it, but he was nervous. He wasn’t afraid. He and Joe were rather equally matched in size and weight. Cayson actually had a few extra pounds of muscle, but he wasn’t a fighter. Violence only begat more violence. Wasn’t that taught in grade school now? 


Page 17

Joe got right in Cayson’s face, making him rear back to keep their mouths from being too close. Joe stabbed a long, accusing finger at Cayson’s chest. His old friend’s fury was palpable, and it choked Cayson, gripped him, and tore at his conscience. There was no way he could give Joe another chance. He wasn’t a glutton for punishment. He realized then that he was slowly but surely losing a friend, and all Cayson could think about at the moment was where in public Quick was taking him.

Spittle flew out of Joe’s mouth and landed on Cayson’s chin as he hurled more insults and fired off threats. “I’m not coming back if I leave this time!”

“That’s a promise I’m going to make sure you keep.”

Quick’s voice cut through Joe’s fussing, and the tone he used sounded like he already had a short leash on his anger. The gate was still open, and Quick was through it and at Cayson’s side in seconds. Damn, the man looked fine as wine. Dressed casually, but still very handsome. Dark slacks and a dark gray ribbed turtleneck under his jet-black pea coat. Cayson was stunned stupid because it was the first time he recalled seeing Quick’s hair loose and flowing across his shoulders. He looked like Cayson’s Renegade Highlander fantasy come to life.

“I’m talking to Dr. Chauncey, not you.” Joe stood his ground in front of Quick, but he’d lowered his voice.

“Leave. Now. Or else I’m going to show you just how thuggish I can be,” Quick said. His teeth clenched as he spoke, as if he were trying not to raise his voice.

“I’m not scared of you, meathead. You thought you were so cute in the ER today, but I can play dirty, too,” Joe threatened uselessly. Cayson didn’t think Quick was the kind of guy who scared easily, and his non-reaction proved it.

“You sure you want to dance this dance with me, Ana?”

Joe tightened his eyes at the name, and Quick laughed right in his face. “You’re an anesthesiologist, right? Thought I’d call you Ana for short. And since you act like a bitch.” Quick over-annunciated the last word. “I thought it fitting.”

Cayson couldn’t stop the abrupt laugh that escaped his mouth, but tried to disguise it with a cough.

“Fine. Have your fun, now.” Joe looked around Quick’s large frame, throwing his next threat at Cayson. “This isn’t over.”

Maybe Joe shouldn’t have said that, because Quick went from zero to a hundred in a second. When Joe moved to leave, Quick grabbed him by the lapels of his suit jacket and pulled Joe so close to his mouth that to anyone watching on from a distance, it looked like they were getting ready to share a passionate kiss. Joe was up on his tiptoes, trying to pry himself out of the hold. Quick’s mouth was close to Joe’s ear, stating something that Cayson couldn’t make out. Only the squinting of Joe’s eyes told Cayson that whatever Quick was saying to him, Joe didn’t agree with or appreciate at all. He finally jerked himself out of Quick’s tight grip and hurried down the rest of the stairs and out the gate. He looked back for a second, and Quick nodded before Joe turned back and got in his Mercedes S Class and carefully followed every traffic law that applied when he pulled away from the curb and drove exactly the speed limit out of Cayson’s neighborhood.

“Dumbass,” Quick grumbled. “Can’t even make a threatening exit. Who puts on a blinker to pull away from a curb?”

Quick turned and looked Cayson up and down as if ensuring he was alright. Slowly lifting his right wrist, Quick pulled up Cayson’s sleeve to see if he had the watch on. “Why didn’t you call me?”

“You said this was for emergencies. I had everything handled.” Cayson smiled. He was too excited to be going out on a date to worry about what’d just transpired between his new beau and his old friend.

“What did you say to him just now?” Cayson asked, running his hand mesmerizingly through Quick’s soft mane. It looked so full and beautiful, like he could’ve starred in a hair conditioner commercial. It was such an erotic, refreshing change from Quick’s usual ponytail.

“It’s of no consequence. Now get inside, I want to get a good, long look at you.” Quick’s eyes turned hazy with his hunger and Cayson wanted to tell him to cancel all reservations and take him upstairs and not let him out of bed until he could barely walk.

As soon as they were back inside, Quick had Cayson’s back against the door and his hands all over his body before he could ask another question.

“Damn, you smell good… and you look… fuck, Cays. You look so fuckin’ beautiful.” Quick fingered Cayson’s pale pink bottom lip with the pad of his thumb while he kissed him.

Quick

When Quick pulled up to the curb and saw Joe up in Cayson’s face, he had to count to ten before he could get out of his truck. He was a shoot first; ask questions later kind of guy, especially when he felt threatened. Quick growled low in his throat as he watched his man lean away when Joe advanced. Damnit. This guy was like butt fucking without the lube. A straight pain in the ass. Couldn’t the bastard take a hint?

After he’d said his piece, Quick had been fine to let Joe leave. He was ready for his date to start, so he wasn’t going to provoke the already scared man. But when he hurled that last threat at Cayson, Quick’s leash broke and his anger came out full force, like lava bursting from an awakened volcano.

Before he knew it, he had Joe in his grips and it felt amazing. He wanted to lift him and throw him off the porch again, but decided on something even better. Something to make Joe think the rest of the night.

With his mouth close to Joe’s ear, Quick made sure his voice was low enough that Cayson couldn’t hear what he said. “You’re a real idiot, Ana. Cayson is mine now. You let him slip through your little bitch-scared hands, now I’ve got him.” Quick’s voice was rough and deadly. If the devil spoke aloud, he’d probably sound like Quick did at that moment. “Rest assured. I’m gonna fuck Cays so good, and so hard, he’s going to forget all about you, Ana. I promise you that.”

Joe thought he’d yanked himself out of Quick’s grip, but he’d let the man go when he was finished. He wanted Joe to go stew over what he’d just said. While he had no intentions of trying to sleep with Cayson on only their second date, Joe didn’t have to know that. But, hell, the way Cayson was sucking on Quick’s tongue right now, he wasn’t one hundred percent sure how the night was going to end. Both of them seemed starved for a little intimacy.

Cayson moaned boldly, writhing against Quick’s body like a wolf marking its mate. “You look really nice, Rome,” Cayson said breathlessly. “I’m trying not to attack you.”

Quick laughed. Now, that would be a sparring match he’d happily volunteer for, if it was in the bedroom.

“I told myself I’d be good, but you are making it very difficult.” Quick bent even lower and chanced his luck, hoping he didn’t get a hard shove in retaliation. He ran both hands down Cayson’s sides and around to the small of his back. Quick kneaded the taut muscles there first, before he worked his hands over the thick mounds of Cayson’s ass. The loud gasp made him chuckle softly in the crook of Cayson’s clean neck. “Feels good?” Quick murmured.

“Yes. God, yes,” Cayson hissed while Quick continued massaging his ass.

“I want you. I want all of you, Cays. Not just behind closed doors. I want everything I’ve been missing for so long.” Quick wasn’t scared to claim what he wanted. He was a grown ass man, and he knew who and what he was. A bisexual man who was too old to act like he didn’t know his own mind. He’d been married for seven long years before he decided his wife deserved a man who could give her what she deserved… and so did he.

“Damn, it’s been a long time.” Quick dragged his middle finger up Cayson’s seam, mimicking the video he’d watched earlier. But Cayson’s response was so much better than the man on camera. The reaction was genuine longing and yearning from deep down in his doctor. It pulled on Quick’s heart and his resolve. How dare that prick starve Cayson of this? For what? Quick could see the plea for more in his sweet surgeon’s blue eyes.I’m right there with you Cays.

“Jesus Christ you taste so good. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s go to dinner. I need to talk. We need to talk.” Quick waited while Cayson turned everything off in his home and locked the front door. With his hand tightly clasped around Cayson’s, he made sure the coast was clear of Ana before he walked them to his truck and headed for downtown Atlanta on a Friday night.

~~~~~~~~

If it wouldn’t’ve looked silly, Cayson would’ve been bouncing with anticipation while he rode with Quick to The Foxhole. A night out on a real date. He didn’t count the times he’d been invited to men’s homes, or they asked to come to his place. He didn’t count the secluded groping sessions on the far outskirts of the town where he went to college. None of those were dates. A date was what Quick was giving him now. And it only took him god knows how many damn years. Quick parked at 14th and Piedmont, telling Cayson it was a good night to walk. The Foxhole was on the street parallel to Piedmont, so he was glad he’d chosen to wear his comfortable shoes.

Quick held his hand out for Cayson, and he gladly took it.

“Is this okay?” Quick asked, flicking his head at their joined hands when he began to walk towards the main road. 

“Absolutely.” Cayson hid his smile as he and Quick walked amongst all the other date goers. They got a few glances at their closeness, but Quick was oblivious. He looked as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Cayson supposed growing up the biggest and strongest, you didn’t worry about being assaulted because of your orientation. Quick maneuvered them around people, while he kept a protective arm over Cayson’s shoulders. “I hope you’re hungry. This place has the best food,” Quick said, kissing the top of his head. He slowed down when they got to a wooden door, painted to look like a foxhole. A petite lady in dark stockings and a pretty, short black dress addressed them politely when they approached her hostess stand.

Quick spoke confidently, “I have reservations under Webb.”

The woman looked down and flipped through a couple pages before replying, “Yes, sir. We have you all ready.” She gave them a huge smile through her bright red lips and pointed in the direction of a roped off booth. Quick followed right behind the hostesses, still clasping Cayson’s hand.

The atmosphere was perfect for a first date. The restaurant was dark, with only a few recessed lights dimmed low above their heads and two votive candles on the table. It was plenty enough light to set a romantic mood. Cayson was pleasantly surprised when they were shown the best seat in the house. It was towards the back, against the wall in the far left corner. A beautiful rock garden fireplace was built into the wall next to their table, and Cayson sighed, welcoming the warmth. He removed his heavy coat, keeping his blazer on and slid into the horseshoe-shaped booth, Quick easing in right next to him, picking up Cayson’s hand and kissing his palm before he released it to take the menus. The restaurant was small, but warm and cozy. Several four top tables were spread throughout the minimal space, but Cayson loved the coloring. All dark reds and earth tones. There was a small musical trio nestled in the corner of the tiny dance floor. A violinist, a keyboard player and a saxophonist serenaded the diners with soothing melodies like you might hear in a spa. When Quick said the place had live music, Cayson thought it was going to be something like a Hall and Oats cover band, or similar to that. 

“James will be your server this evening. You gentlemen enjoy.” The lady reached up and pulled a privacy curtain, closing them off from any curious eyes.

“Oh, nice.” Cayson grinned. “We need privacy?”

“I thought it’d make you more comfortable when I did this.” Quick held Cayson’s waist with one hand, the other palm cupped his cheek while he kissed him on the corner of his mouth, before moving down his jaw to his sensitive neck. “I love how good you smell. Mmm, how good you taste.”

He was so glad he chose the Kenneth Cole instead of the Stetson. Cayson closed his eyes, nuzzling closer to Quick’s large body. He felt so good, he could barely keep a lid on his emotions. The privacy curtain didn’t offend him. It only made him blush more, because he had a feeling people knew what was going on behind that partition. Quick didn’t hesitate to show everyone in the restaurant that they were there as a couple, not buddies.

“Thank you, Rome. This is really… really nice. I’m overwhelmed,” Cayson said softly against Quick’s lips.

“Why are you overwhelmed?”

Cayson didn’t get a chance to answer, because just then their waiter tapped on the side of the booth and waited for Quick’s okay before he pulled the curtain back just enough for him to speak to them.

“Good evening. I’m James. Welcome to The Foxhole. Can I get you started with something to drink?”

Quick had his arm draped over the back of the booth, making it so easy for Cayson to lean into his side. “What do you want to drink, babe?”

Babe.“I’ll have a water and a scotch on the rocks.” He felt like being daring tonight. He always kept a fine bottle of scotch in his liquor cabinet, but rarely indulged. For Cayson, tonight was all about the adventure. He’d do all the things he normally didn’t. It was a long time overdue for him.


Page 18

“Is Johnnie Walker, okay, sir?” The waiter asked, scribbling in his notepad.

“Perfect.”

“I’ll have the same. And I’d like the stuffed mushrooms to start as well.” Quick ordered and Cayson nodded his head in agreement, he loved stuffed mushrooms.

“Would you like me to leave the curtain open?” James asked, not the slightest bit offended by their closeness. This was a world Cayson never knew existed. Acceptance. Tolerance.

Quick sweetly caressed Cayson’s jaw, looking into his eyes when he answered the waiter. “Closed please.”

“I’ll be back with your drinks in just a moment.”

As soon as the waiter left, Quick was on him again. He hadn’t made out with a man in quite some time, and it made him feel sexy and desirable. Joe wasn’t a fan of kissing. He’d do it, but it was obvious he felt like it was a chore. With Quick, it was as if he used his mouth to say what he couldn’t verbalize, and Cayson was okay with that. Very okay. 

When they came up for air, Cayson had one hand tangled in the long strands hanging down Quick’s broad back, his other pressed firmly against his chest. When Cayson bit Quick on his jaw, he was rewarded with a sensual growl, which had a tantalizing effect on his balls. Pausing their kiss, Cayson had no other choice but to confess. He simply couldn’t hold it in anymore. “I want you, Roman.”

“You can have anything you want.” Quick kept his arm behind Cayson, but his other hand was beneath the table, slowly sliding up Cayson’s inner thigh towards his aching nuts.

“Fuck. I’m trying to do this right.” Cayson grimaced. He wasn’t supposed to be inviting Quick to his home. Not right now. He was worth the wait. If Quick really wanted him… he’d wait.

“Tell me what you’re thinking? It looks serious.”

“Well. I was thinking that—”

“Your drinks, sirs. And your appetizer,” their waiter announced, removing their items from a tray balanced on his shoulder. When he had placed their drinks in front of them, he asked if they wanted to hear the specials.

“Sure,” Quick replied for both of them.

After they’d heard the specials, the trio started playing a tune that was soulful and mellow and Cayson found himself swaying to the relaxing sounds. He watched as patrons went up to the tiny stage and dropped bills into the big bowl, which served as the band’s tip jar.

“How’s the pasta sound to you, sweetheart?” Quick asked, still surveying the menu.

Cayson turned back to Quick, reeling inside at the terms of endearment he’d used right in front of the server. This was such a unique experience; Cayson had to keep telling himself to lighten up. He was turning into a mushy, lovesick mess. Sweetheart and babe? Really? He used to hate when he heard people refer to their spouses or partners like that. Now he realized he didn’t hate it, he was simply being a hater. A jealous hater.

Quick didn’t appear worried about being out in public with him. This was what he’d been waiting for.Just relax and enjoy it.“Pasta?” He loved linguine. Throw in some fresh seafood and he’d love it even more. “Yeah. Good choice.” Handing the menus back to the waiter, he confirmed their order before closing the thick, red curtain back.

Quick turned his body back towards him as if giving Cayson his full attention. “Talk to me.”

Cayson smiled at Quick’s bluntness. “What do you wanna talk about?”

“You.”

Cayson bit his bottom lip, wondering how much he should really disclose on a second date. 

“Unless you want me all over you, I suggest you let that bottom lip go and stop teasing me.” Quick looked so serious that Cayson was nervous with excitement. Just the thought of what Quick could do to him had him clenching his ass right there in the booth.

“Okay, then.” Cayson let his lip slide from between his teeth. “Let’s talk.”

Quick reached out and popped another mushroom in his mouth, chewing loudly and talking with his mouth half-full. “You start.”

Cayson laughed. His Quick was certainly rough around the edges, but he didn’t mind. They weren’t eating at the Savoy in Vegas, so Cayson put down his fork and started using his hands, too. 

“There really isn’t much to me, Rome. I’m rather boring, to be honest.”

“I’m not bored. Matter of fact, it’s been nothing but fireworks from you since we met. So knock off the ‘boring’ crap,” Quick told him, using air quotes.

Cayson

Cayson let Quick place another decadent mushroom on his tongue. The way he watched him chew made Cayson squirm, made him feel like he was next on Quick’s menu to devour. Those sexy green bedroom eyes would be his undoing.

“Exactly what kind of doctor are you?” Quick asked, jump-starting the conversation.

“I’m a surgical nephrologist.”

“Kidney doctor.”

“Exactly. Any and everything regarding the kidney.”

“What made you choose that field?”

Cayson thought about it for a moment. “Well my mom passed a while back. A bad car accident. No siblings. So it was just my dad and me after that. My father did his best, but he was struggling with heartache. He adored my mom; she was everything… everything to both of us. I tried to be there for him, but I was never able to fill that hole created inside him when she died, because I had my own holes. She was the glue that held us together. She planned the vacations, the dinners, the outings. When she left, unfortunately, all that fun stuff we used to do as a family left with her. So, my father and I didn’t talk or discuss our days. I went to school, he went to work, and then we came home and coexisted. Did that for years, until I went out of state for graduate school.

“Instead of letting all that depression consume me, I threw myself into school, and then medicine. I did nothing but academics and studying. Having to be the best at everything was my excuse for not socializing at all. That made for a lot of quiet, lonely nights. I’d become quite used to it, honestly. While I was in med school, my father was diagnosed with RCC, and I became obsessed with knowing everything there was to know about the kidney and its cancers. I was going to cure him myself if I had to. I knew he was all I had left. At that time, I wasn’t able to accept the possibility of being completely alone.”

Cayson released a sad sigh when Quick began to massage his neck. It was just what he needed to finish the story he’d kept to himself for so long. He wanted to be honest with Quick, but most of all he wanted to be honest with himself.

“What’s RCC?” Quick asked, his voice back to the sweet, melodic baritone Cayson loved.

“Renal cell carcinoma, kidney cancer. By the time I could convince the stubborn old fool to fight it… it was too late.”

“When did he die?”

“Six months ago,” Cayson said softly, taking a long drink of his whisky. “I think he wanted to die, though. He was tired of fighting, I suppose, and lonely. I was gone, but even when I was there, I was a recluse.” Cayson leaned in further when Quick placed a soft kiss on the side of his head, whispering how sorry he was for his loss. A part of this conversation seemed so silly and outdated, but another part felt cathartic. He’d not told this to anyone. Never had a chance to release those emotions. His father had been cremated and his ashes spread over the park where he’d married Cayson’s mother. He coughed a fake laugh because it was better than letting the tears form. “It was a rough time. So, just like when my mom passed, I threw myself into medicine. Taking crazy hours to keep my mind off of personal things… off of being alone.”

“You’re not alone now, Cays. Can you handle that?” Quick was looking at him like he’d just asked the most important question of his life. He made sure Cayson was looking up at him before he spoke again. “Are you ready to be happy?”

He sat quietly, fully absorbing Quick’s question while the soft sounds of the violin sang to his lonely soul. He wasn’t lonely by choice. He had simply gotten used to it. Dating or having a normal social life for a medical student were practically unheard of, anyway. There was simply no time. A fast one-off here and there was the most that could be afforded. If you wanted to be the best, that is. Cayson wasn’t the type to skate by, either. He graduated top of his class and went on to study with the best Nephrology department in the country at the University Hospital of Columbus and Cornell. Sowing wild oats didn’t make him the successful doctor he was today. But it did make him the most desolate.

It didn’t make much sense, that of all his life, it was at his age now that Cayson was craving a physical and emotional connection with someone. Hiding and sneaking around with Dr. Joe only made Cayson continue to feel like that young man who used to hide his problems and insecurities away in a medical journal. That guy was gone. There was Dr. Chauncey, the professional, who had everything he needed. Prestige, intelligence, and patients who adored him. All he’d worked so hard to achieve. But that left Cayson the man. A part of him which had been ignored and pushed to the back for far too long. Quick would be just for Cayson.

“Yes, Roman. I think I am ready.”

~~~~~~~~

Quick listened intently while Cayson got increasingly comfortable and opened up to him. Vaughan told him not to bombard the conversation with a bunch of talk about himself. Quick’s job was fun and full of excitement, but that didn’t mean he should only tell his stories. The more Quick listened to Cayson over their entrees of seafood pasta, the more fascinating his doctor became. The things he knew and could do with his hands was awe-inspiring. All Quick could do was fight really well. What could he possibly have to offer the brilliant man beside him?

Don’t sell yourself short, Dad. You can give Dr. Chauncey something no one else has, that no one cared enough to give him.

What’s that, Son? Please, do tell, because I’m at a loss here.

Romance, Pops. The doctor needs romance and you can give him more of that than he can handle.

But how?

Just do exactly what I say.

God help me.

Quick let his son’s words fade to the background. Their dinner was over and Quick had something planned for Cayson that he hoped didn’t embarrass the shit out of both of them. He’d told Vaughan it was a little over the top for a private guy like him, but Cayson had dealt with privacy for long enough. He needed a bold lover. Quick could understand that, so he’d listened to what his son had to say. That was why he made sure to keep close contact with Cayson, so he didn’t think Quick was embarrassed by him. He used nauseatingly sweet endearments, even when others were around; showing this great guy that there was nothing he wouldn’t do to make him feel cherished and special.

Quick had given the small band a ballad to play for him and his date. Quick didn’t know what the song was, but he trusted his son. This song had lyrics, so when Quick had spoken with the trio’s manager yesterday, he confirmed that their piano player knew the song and could sing it better than the original artist could.

Quick’s heart beat wildly in his chest when the waiter came to clear the last of their shared dessert. The waiter gave Quick a discreet nod, when the keyboard player pulled the microphone closer to his mouth and began to speak in a Simply Red raspy tenor. “This song is for a couple celebrating a very special night.”

He didn’t say anything else, didn’t blurt out their names or anything equally mortifying. Instead, Quick stood and held out his thick palm, saying a two-second prayer that Cayson wouldn’t refuse, and humiliate him in front of the entire restaurant. But the gleam of surprise he saw in Cayson’s gorgeous eyes immediately put him at ease.

“Dance with me?” Quick asked assertively as the man began to sing the song Vaughan had picked and deemed as their song. 

I don't even know how to love you

Just the way you want me to

But I'm ready to learn

(Listen to Quick and Cayson's song here:https://goo.gl/AmHsuH)

When they reached the small area of smooth wood that was allocated as the dance floor, there were two other couples already there, and it made it a little less awkward that they weren’t the center of attention. They may have had company, but this song was specifically picked for them by Vaughan for a reason.

Quick wrapped one arm around Cayson’s waist. With the other, he held Cayson’s hand and tucked it close over his aching heart. Cayson laid his head on Quick’s chest, his arm wrapped around Quick’s neck, stroking the long, silky hairs there. He so badly wanted this man to be his. He leaned lower and ducked his head, putting his mouth just above Cayson’s ear while they slowly inched side to side. He wasn’t the best dancer, but he could manage that. The song was slow, and the lyrics were almost spoken instead of sung. Like a promise or confession set to music instead of a love song.

“Vaughan picked this song for us,” Quick admitted. He was glad he did when Cayson looked up and placed a gentle kiss on his chin.

“I see why.” Cayson laughed and laid his head back where it fit perfectly.

So did Quick. The words were beautiful… and very fitting for both of them.


Page 19

I don't even know how to hold your hand

Just to make you understand

But I'm ready to learn

Yes, I'm ready to learn

To hold your hand, make you understand

 

Holding Cayson tight to him, they both closed their eyes and let the words settle into them.

I don't even know how to kiss your lips

At a moment like this

Oh, but I'm going to learn how to do

All the things you want me to

Oh, but I'm ready

Yes, I'm ready

Are you ready?

Yes, I'm ready

To fall in love

Right now.

 

When the song was over, Quick tucked Cayson close to him and walked up to the small band and dropped two one hundred dollar bills into the tip jar. The guy nodded his head in thanks and began to play a comforting instrumental while everyone cleared the dance floor.

“You ready to go?” Quick asked, walking back to their table.

“I am.” Cayson squeezed Quick’s thigh under the table while he pulled out his wallet to pay the tab.

“Did you like the song?”

Cayson palmed Quick’s cheek this time and drew him forward. He kissed him with so much passion and warmth, Quick had to take a few deep breaths before he was able to stand again. They walked back towards his truck and Quick was mindful to hold Cayson close on the crowded street.

“Want to see what movie is playing, or I was thinking of walking in the garden, but they have a big Valentine’s Day thing going on there. I didn’t want to appear too presumptuous. I was never really a Valentine’s guy, but I heard it might be nice out there tonight.”

“Yeah, like what?”

Quick closed Cayson’s door and jogged around to his side to finish what he was saying. “It’s supposed to be all decorated and lit up nice. More music, dancing, and food.”

“Well I’m stuffed, thanks to that delicious dinner, but the lights and garden sound nice.”

“It does.” Quick smiled, not able to keep himself from leaning over and going for Cayson’s soft, pink lips again. “So, you do wanna go check it out? You don’t think it’s too cold out?”

“You’ll keep me warm, right?” Cayson smiled seductively against Quick’s mouth.

Quick

Quick held up his date so he could pull the keys from Cayson’s pocket. He hid his smile while he unlocked the gate, as Cayson hummed parts of their song in his ear.

“You’re a real lightweight, you know that, Doc?” Quick let Cayson practically drape his entire upper half over his back while he stumbled up to the front door.

“Who can refuse free wine?” Cayson sing-songed, and Quick hurried him through the door before the man woke his neighbors. Hadn’t they had enough of a show starring the two of them?

Quick was still holding his hand and Cayson spun around in his arms just like he’d spun him on the dance floor at the Gardens, while the aromatic smell of chocolate and orchids drifted around them. He loved seeing Cayson this carefree. The Atlantic Botanicals was beyond beautiful and sickeningly sweet. Hearts, balloons, and chocolate fountains overflowed in abundance. Cayson and Quick did a private tour, so they were able to stop to kiss and fondle whenever they wanted too. They slow-danced and nibbled on cheese and wine samples, basking in each other’s company until Cayson’s several glasses of wine caught up with him and he became a little too touchy feely on the dance floor. Like now.

“I think you’d better go on up and get ready for bed, gorgeous,” Quick murmured, yanking a drunk Cayson back to him. “You’re in no condition to pull off what you’re offering.”

“Let me be the judge of that,” Cayson slurred. One hand already inching down the front of Quick’s pants and the other hand fisted tightly in the front of his shirt. “I need you, Rome. I want it. I want you.”

“You already have me, Doc,” Quick confessed. Holding him close, Quick noticed Cayson was putting more of his weight on him. He shook his head affectionately when he heard the soft snores and felt the hot breath through his shirt while his doctor laid there and napped. Quick scooped down and caught Cayson behind the crook of his knees and hefted him in his arms. His still-healing ribs barked an angry “What the fuck are you doing?” Because Cayson wasn’t a small man by any means, but he ignored it and took his drunk date to bed.

He removed Cayson’s clothes, piece by piece, until he was in nothing but a pair of white boxer briefs. Quick wanted to bury his face in the mound protruding from the front of Cayson’s underwear, but he wasn’t a pig. He’d wait.God please give me the strength to wait.Quick pulled up the covers and leaned down to give Cayson a lingering kiss on his cheek before he reached up and turned off the bedside lamp, submerging them in darkness. Quick went back downstairs and locked up everything, because Cayson’s safety came first.

He watched the block for about an hour before his own eyelids began to get heavy as well. He pulled down the blanket from the other night and dropped it on the couch. He took off everything except his pants, and stretched out on the uncomfortable couch.

~~~~~~~~

With both hands tucked under his pillow, Quick was easily awakened by the sound of hesitant footsteps on the stairs. He didn’t make a move, being sure to keep his breathing even. He could smell Cayson the moment he got to the foot of the couch. The lingering traces of his subtle cologne made it difficult for Quick to control his cock’s reaction. The mind could play games, but the body couldn’t lie. When Cayson didn’t speak, he wondered how long he was going to stand there. 

“I’m not so easy to sneak up on, Doc,” Quick said, finally opening his eyes.

“I didn’t think you were.” Cayson’s sleepy voice made Quick’s cock rise up higher to listen.

“Come’re,” he said, pushing the covers off and holding his arms out. Cayson came to him as easily as a baby going to a bottle.

They both groaned when their bodies aligned and Cayson melted into Quick’s huge frame. He wrapped his arms behind Cayson’s back and began to rub him there, as was becoming his habit.

“You feel okay?”

“I’m good. A little embarrassed. I didn’t think I could get drunk that easily.”

“When you’re not a regular drinker, you can.” Quick ran his hands through Cayson’s hair, enjoying the softness.

“I only had three glasses of wine, though.”

“Something like that. And two whiskeys at the restaurant.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Quick chuckled. “Be glad you don’t feel sick.”

Cayson shifted on top of Quick and sucked in a sharp breath when their hardening erections bumped against each other. “No. Sick isn’t what I’m feeling right now.”

Quick gripped Cayson’s hips tightly, moaning when he started grinding his pelvis down onto his. “You don’t have to do this now. I can wait.” Quick breathed harshly.

“But I can’t.” Cayson shuddered. “Do something, Roman.”

“Fuck,” Quick groaned. He wanted this so badly, but he was more than a little inexperienced. He’d watched a couple videos, but nothing in detail. He knew the fundamentals and he knew what Cayson had been denied. So, he figured he’d start there. He’d watched one act in particular, slightly longer than he wanted to admit, all the while wondering if Cayson would enjoy it.

Quick dragged his hands up Cayson’s back and massaged his neck while staring into those crystal blues. Eyes that were naked and open. Showing Quick all that he needed and wanted. They kissed for a long time, kissed until it became its own powerful language, kissed until one of them had to wrench away to breathe.

With their eyes still locked, Quick slowly ran his hands down Cayson’s smooth back until he got to the top curve of his ass. Cayson’s pupils dilated to twice their size, which Quick took as a very good sign. Not wanting to feel the cotton of Cayson’s underwear, he lifted the waistband and eased both hands inside and over the softest, most luscious ass cheeks he’d ever felt.

Cayson whined in his ear, his face buried in Quick’s neck. “Ahh, god, Rome. Your touch feels so good.”

Quick ached, too. Not from the lack of sex in his own life, but for Cayson. He had no clue when the man had last been touched or cared for the way he needed it most, but his wait was over. “You can have anything you want.” Quick applied more pressure, kneading Cayson’s ass in his controlling grip. When his doc began to writhe on Quick’s thigh, he used his middle finger to tease the crack of Cayson’s ass, not quite giving him all of what he begged for. This was their first real intimacy. They weren’t about to rub off a quickie on the couch. With newfound determination, Quick pulled Cayson from out of hiding and ordered, “Upstairs.”

Cayson slowly got up and Quick was close behind him, taking the steep stairs that led to his man’s bedroom. Quick let his pants fall to the floor, as he watched Cayson climb onto the bed, and turned to face him. Quick absently pulled on his pulsing length. Cayson made such a breathtaking sight. His beautiful, pale body spread out on his royal blue sheets. Waiting for Quick to take all his stress away, like a good partner is supposed to.

Quick stalked up Cayson’s body, starting at the foot and licking his way up until he got to his mouth. No skin was left untouched and Cayson was an absolute mess by the time Quick reached his lips. His hair was rumpled and askew on top of his head, and his hands reached and grasped at Quick’s strong arms while he held himself over top of him.

“Turn over.” Quick’s voice had turned dark and frightening, but it excited the hell out of his impatient doctor. Cayson flipped over, pushing his long, hard cock between his legs, giving Quick quite an erotic show. He wanted Cayson to be comfortable with him, so he had to appear as if he knew what he was doing. Basically, he did. He was doing what came natural to him, what had always been natural to him.

He started at the base of Cayson’s neck and began to kiss his way back down. His own cock was hanging heavy with neglect, but he was going to stay focused. Pulling up the images in his head from the porno, Quick flicked his tongue inside the dents on the sides of Cayson’s ass, driving him crazy with anticipation.

“Rome,” Cayson begged. His smaller fist reaching back and clenching anxiously in Quick’s long hair.

“Shh.” Quick cupped and caressed one soft, lightly furred ass cheek, slicking down the fine, golden brown hairs with his tongue while he worked his way to the center. Both of them were moaning loudly by the time Quick parted Cayson’s ass and went after his unloved hole.

Cayson

All he could do was moan. Cayson buried his face in his pillow to stifle his cries of ecstasy while Quick tenderly laved at his hole.Oh, my fuckin’ god, has it been that long?Cayson knew he was going to come any minute. It felt too good, too stimulating. He wanted more already.

“Please fuck me.” Cayson sounded like an unsexed slut. He knew he promised to play hard to get from now on, but Quick had more than proven himself. The public affection, the special song, the dancing, and then the garden… What more did Quick have to do to prove he really did like Cayson?

“I’m not gonna fuck you right now.” Quick rubbed and licked at Cayson’s ass while he spoke, his hot breath fanning over his moist hole made him clench with the need to be penetrated.

Not now? Why the hell not?

“Try to relax. I want to do something to you first.”

“Okay,” Cayson said shakily.

“Where’s your lube?”

“Top drawer.” Quick’s hand shot out and yanked the drawer hard enough to send a certain secret flying to the front. Cayson hid his face when his jet-black eight-inch dildo rolled into view. “Kill me now,” Cayson groaned.

Quick didn’t laugh, but amusement was all over his face. He pushed it back further in the drawer where it belonged. Cayson felt solid muscles pressed against his back – and just that fast his shame was gone. Quick pumped his hips and talked Cayson right back into an aching, quivering mess.

“I want to watch you fuck yourself with your toy, one day. I bet you’ll look hot as fuck, pushing that in your ass while you look at me,” Quick murmured thickly.

Advertising Download Read Online
Other books
trident's forge by patrick s. tomlinson
bouquet for iris by diane t. ashley
samantha’s cowboy by marin thomas
force of knight magic by kathi s barton
precious stones by darrien lee
dublin 4 by binchy, maeve
beauty and the feast by julia barrett