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Authors: Adrienne Wilder

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BOOK: In The Absence Of Light
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Another whimper, small, frightened…

I kicked the door and the lock gave way enough for me to yank it open.

The guy in the business suit whirled around. “What the hell?”

Morgan’s shirt was partway up, and his jeans were undone. Tears gleamed on his flushed cheeks.

“You sick son of a bitch.” I grabbed the suit by his tie and hurled him out of the stall. He hit the garbage can and rolled off to the side.

“What the hell is wrong with you, man?” He held up a hand.

“Me?” I snatched him by his jacket and yanked him to his feet.

“Stop.” Morgan slapped his hand on the stall wall while holding his jeans up with the other. “Stop. Stop. Stop.” His hand jerked up, and his fingers danced next to his temple.  Then a high-pitched keening sound inched out of his throat. He swung out as if to hit the stall again, but his arm jerked up and his hand returned to his temple, tossing thoughts in between snapping his fingers. His expression twisted up and that strange wounded animal sound hissed from behind clenched teeth.

While my attention was on Morgan, the businessman slithered out the door leaving his jacket behind in my grip. I dropped it.

“It’s okay.”  I started to walk over but didn’t want him to think I was trying to box him in.  Or worse, do the same thing the other guy had done.

Morgan took a few steps forward, back. Finally he made his way out of the stall. He pulled his hair with his dancing hand.

“It’s okay, Morgan. Everything will be okay.”

He turned away, turned back. The flush in his face was almost beet red. Did I leave him and go get Jessie? Or did I just call the cops? I felt around for my cell phone.

Morgan raised his chin, and I was held in place by the raw anger burning in his dark eyes. He was the first person who’d ever stopped me with a look.

Morgan flicked his hand at me. “Thanks for the cock block, asshole.” Then he turned and left.

 

********

 

The hardware store had become my second home over the past few weeks. Sometimes I was there twice a day. To be honest, it surprised me Berry hadn’t got tired of looking at my mug, despite how much money I spent.

While I did spend it, I was careful not to flash too much and always played the part of pinching pennies. I kept just the minimum in my savings account up north since I didn’t want so much as an overdraft fee to catch the attention of the FBI. Not that overspending at a hardware store would normally do that, but since their failed sting on my operation, they’d developed a personal interest in my life.

“Hey there, Grant. What can I do for you?” Berry came from around the counter.

“Need more nails and my sander copped out on me this morning.”

“Told you that cheap model wasn’t fit for the job.” He grinned and stuck his thumbs in the straps of his overalls.

“Yeah, you did.”

“Should have listened to me.”

“Yeah, I should have done that too.”

He jerked his head in the direction of the aisles. “You need me to show you where they are?”

“Nope. I’ve pretty much got the place memorized.”

“You know, if I gave you a job here, you’d get ten percent off.”

I laughed. “If I worked here, I’d never get the house fixed. Maybe when I’m done, we’ll chat.” We wouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong. I liked Berry, but working for the man would make it too easy to be his friend and I didn’t need friends in Durstrand. I just needed a rest stop before I went on with my life.

Hardware, power drills, and skill saws covered the shelves. The sanders were on the end next to the Sawzalls.

The bells on the door clanged, and Berry called out a greeting.

I picked up one of the sanders. The shelf was just short enough for Morgan’s crop of blond hair to flash over the top as he walked past.

He hummed while he paced up and down the aisle.

I stood on my toes.

Morgan stopped in front of the cutting tools located directly on the other side. Like before, he held his dancing fingers close to his temple.

“I need the red-handled glass cutter.” His gaze stayed on the floor.

Berry walked over. “I’m sold out, but the Martin brand is really good.”

Morgan’s shoulder jerked, and he clenched his fist. “Has to be the red-handled one.” He dug through the shelves.

“You may have to wait then. I’ve got an order coming in tomorrow. They should be on the truck.”

“Need it today, Berry.”

“And I’m out.”

“You’re supposed to keep extra for me. We agreed.” Morgan rocked on his toes.

“And you buy them faster than I can put them on the shelf.”

“They go dull.”

“That’s why I keep telling you to use the Martin. They last twice as long.” He took one out of the package.

Morgan shook his head. “Need the red one.”

“What if I gave this one to you on the house, just to try it?”

“I only buy the red ones.”

“You wouldn’t be buying it. It would be a gift.”

Morgan fell still and took the tool from Joe’s hand. He held it up to the light, turned it around, and flipped it over. When he lowered it, he traced the flat side with elegant fingers belonging to his strong hands. Tawny muscles made subtle lines on his arms, and there was a hole in the side of his shirt. When he moved to the right, it flashed his navel.

Between the bad lighting and his build, I’d misjudged his age at the bar. He was not a boy but a hell of a gorgeous man.

I jerked my gaze away.

What the fuck was wrong with me? There I was in the goddamned hardware store lusting after some poor disabled guy. The sick feeling in my stomach was compounded by the fact that my dick didn’t seem to care Morgan wasn’t normal.

I grabbed one of the sanders Berry recommended and headed to the back where he kept the nails. There were only two boxes of one-and-a-half inch galvanized so I grabbed both. I turned around and slammed into Morgan. He stumbled back, and I caught him by his arm to keep him from falling into a rack of hammers.

“Jesus, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”

“You should pay attention then. I’m hard to miss.” He flicked a look up at me, and his mouth curled in a way that made my cheeks burn. Then he went back to staring at the floor.

I let him go and tried to figure out something to do with my free hand. Morgan brushed by.

A ripped seam at the corner of his back pocket flashed a patch of bare skin.

Goddamn. He was commando.

Morgan bent over at the rolls of wiring. The thin denim tightened over his ass, and a few more threads threatened to give way. He turned a little, and if I hadn’t known better, I would have thought he purposely flashed me.

When he stood again, his jeans rode low enough to show off the dimples on his lower back. He caught me watching, tilted his head, and smiled.

I fled to the register.

I needed to make a trip into the city to find a piece of ass before I got myself in trouble.

“Is that all?”

I put my stuff on the counter. “Yeah, that should do it.” Had Berry noticed me watching Morgan? I prayed he didn’t. I’d wind up burned at the stake sure enough.

And I’d deserve it.

Berry turned the sander over. “Damn sticker must have fallen off. You remember how much this was?”

“No.” I hadn’t even looked at the price because I’d been too busy watching Morgan.

“Hang on while I look this up.” Berry dug a book out from under the register.

Morgan appeared at the end of the aisle and sauntered toward me.  He stopped a few feet away, and I did my damnedest to keep my eyes from wandering over parts of him they did not need to wander over.

He reached around me and dug through a bucket of chocolates on the counter. My ass wound up pressed to the cradle of his hips and the line of his cock followed the crease of my crack. I gritted my teeth and held the edge of the counter until my knuckle joints showed under the skin.

Morgan plucked a piece of candy from the container, unwrapped it, and his wayward gaze met mine. Almost in slow-motion, Morgan slipped his tongue from between his parted lips. He teased the surface of the candy, leaving a shiny wet line on the edge before slipping it into his mouth. Then proceeded to suck the chocolate from each fingertip with enough force to hollow out his cheeks.

“Here it is.” Berry tapped the page and rang up the sander.

Morgan rubbed against me one last time before stepping back. I fumbled for my wallet while fighting off fantasies of those lips on my cock.

Berry’s bushy white eyebrows bunched up. “You okay?”

“Huh?”

“Your hands are shaking.”

“Uh, no, I’m good. Probably too much coffee.”

He squinted up at me. “You sure? You look kinda feverish. There’s a bug been going 'round. You’d better watch yourself; you don’t wanna get sick.”

Oh, I was already sick as they came. Just not in the way Berry worried about.

“Yeah, I’ll do that.” I grabbed my things. “I’ll see you tomorrow probably.”

He smiled, and his gaze slid from Morgan to me. I didn’t wait around to find out whether or not he suspected anything.

By the time I got behind the wheel, I had the father of all hard-ons pressing against the back of my fly. Jesus Christ, when the hell had I turned into the kind of man who lusted after someone with the mind of a child?

Although it hadn’t been a child rubbing off on me.

I had to have imagined it. Morgan could barely lift his eyes. But when he had, it was like he knew how good he looked and what a body like his could do to a person.

“Get a grip, Grant.” I glared at myself in the rearview. “You’re turning into a class-A pervert.”

I started the truck and backed out. The road was clear so I made a right. Red flashed in my periphery. There was barely a thump when the bumper of the truck caught the rear wheel of the bike, but it was enough to shove it over and toss the rider on the ground.

“Fucking hell.” I threw the truck in park and got out. Broken spokes on the wheel tangled in the bumper. The rider was on his knees examining his bloody elbow.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t see—”

Morgan glanced up at me. “You really should pay attention to where you’re going.” He stood and ran a hand over one of the busted spokes. “Damn it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You said that already.” He tried to tug the bike free, but the truck wouldn’t let go. Morgan gave up and wiped his scraped palm on his shirt, leaving a bloody smear.

“Wait here.” I tossed a thumb over my shoulder. “I’ll go inside and call an ambulance.”

“What for?”

“You’re hurt.”

“It’s a scrape and a few bruises. I don’t need an ambulance.” Morgan rocked and flicked his wrist and fingers next to his head. “If you want to do something, help me get it loose.” I tried to figure out where to grip the thing without getting to close to him. “Sometime today would be nice.”

We untangled the spokes, and he examined the crease in the wheel.  “Here.” He pushed the bike in my direction. “You carry that and I’ll get the rest.” Morgan picked up a flip-flop and put it back on. Then he put his bag of supplies in the bed of the truck.

“What are you doing?”

“You wrecked my bike. I don’t have any way home. So you’re going to give me a ride.” He pulled the bike out of my hands and hoisted it over the edge of the truck bed.

Morgan shook a rock out of his other flip-flop, then climbed into the cab. He tapped the dash, flipped the visor down then up, opened the glove compartment.

That boy in my truck could only land me in jail.

Morgan leaned out the window. “I’ve got somewhere I need to be so if you don’t mind I’d like to get going.” He counted his fingers against his palm then dropped his hand into his lap.

When he wasn’t doing those strange movements, I could almost convince myself there was nothing wrong with him except he couldn’t look me in the eye more than a second or two.

I got in the truck.

“What about seat belts?” He looked around.

“Doesn’t have any.”

“It’s illegal to drive without a seat belt.”

“The truck is older than I am, it didn’t come with any. The law doesn’t apply.”

Morgan kept searching. Maybe he didn’t believe me. Finally he stopped and propped an elbow on the window. “You should see about getting some installed.”

I squeezed the steering wheel. “Do you want a ride or not?”

“Why else would I be in your truck?”

Oh the reasons I could come up with. And unlike the lack of seat belts, none of those could be legal.

“Where do you live?”

“Porter’s Creek Road.”

“Where is that?” Close. It had to be close. Anything longer than three miles was playing with fire.

“You know where the reservoir is?”

Damn it. So much for close. “Yeah.”

BOOK: In The Absence Of Light
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