Authors: Josh Lanyon
“Taylor.” Clearly Will didn’t have the energy to take it further, but felt the point needed to be made.
“All right,” Taylor said. He didn’t have the energy to argue either. He and Will were arguing too much these days. It was starting to feel like Paris all over again.
He really did not want to think about Paris.
Will followed his thoughts though, because after several long minutes of silence, he said quietly, “About earlier.”
“Don’t listen to me. I was just pissed off.”
“Yeah, but it’s the
you’re pissed off that I need to listen to.”
Taylor sighed. “I don’t know, Will.”
“You do, yeah.”
Taylor moved his head in negation.
“We have to keep talking to each other, Taylor. Even if we think we’re not going to like what the other has to say.”
“I know that.” But in all fairness, this was not something either of them was very good at. Sometimes their efforts at talking things out only made things worse.
“Are you saying you wouldn’t do anything within your power to protect me?”
Taylor snorted. “From what? Too many croissants? Paris drivers?”
“Come on, Tay. I’m serious.”
. Yes, he was serious. Taylor said, “You know exactly what I’m saying, Will. Would I take a bullet for you? Yes. What I would not do is take away your right to choose your own course.”
“All right. All right. I know.” Will rolled onto his side, facing Taylor, although it was too dark to read each other’s expressions. “I was wrong not to tell you about the possibility — because that’s all it was, a
— of the Paris posting. I know it was wrong. I said I was sorry. I’ve said it three times now.”
“But you keep doing this shit, Will. ‘Acting in my best interests.’ Like you don’t trust me to know what I want or need. How many times are we going to have this conversation?”
“This is the last time. Paris…everything got so messed up. We were both off balance, okay? I admit I wasn’t thinking straight. So, yes, I did rush you into making a decision without letting you have all the facts. And I know it wasn’t fair or the right thing to do.”
Will felt for, found Taylor’s left hand, his fingers tracing the platinum band on Taylor’s ring finger. “Do you regret the choice you made?”
“No.” That was emotion talking, not logic, because Taylor did regret the way they had launched themselves into this new endeavor without proper preparation and only the sketchiest of plans. And Taylor was supposed to be the impulsive one! This was totally unlike Will, which was probably what bothered Taylor the most about it. He couldn’t help believing that Will’s primary motivation had been to prevent him from taking the post in Iraq — or something equally asinine and high-handed.
Will leaned forward, his mouth finding Taylor’s in a soft, apologetic kiss. His mouth was warm, his taste familiar. “I won’t try to excuse it. It’s just…this is all still new to me. I didn’t expect it to be like this. Not with anyone. So good I’m terrified it can’t be for real, that it can’t last.”
Of course that melted Taylor’s heart. He felt the same way. All the time. But “it” wasn’t
new, that was part of the problem. They had been partnered five years now, and officially a couple for almost two. Though, granted, one of those years they’d spent apart. Still.
He said sternly, “It can’t happen again, Will.” He was dead serious. The realization startled him. At one point, he had believed nothing could split them up, nothing could change his feelings for Will. But now they had been together long enough that he understood there were things that no relationship could survive. Lack of respect was one of them.
“It’s not going to happen again.” Will covered his mouth and Taylor surrendered. It was an earnest and uninhibited effort, but though pleasurable, they just didn’t have the energy. Will fell asleep mid-nuzzle. Taylor a rueful sigh later.
They slept late the next morning. Sunlight was crawling sheepishly across the white coverlet when Taylor opened his eyes. He turned his head, studied Will’s face. That contrast of dark stubble and long eyelashes always did something to him. Will looked disarmingly unguarded and boyish in sleep, and Taylor smiled.
If they were traveling north today, they needed to get moving. But first things first. There had not been enough time these last couple of weeks for the essentials, the essentials being…taking good and proper care of each other. Maybe he wasn’t good at talking things out, maybe he didn’t have experience at long-term relationships — his own parents’ marriage should have put him off the idea of commitment for good. But this much he did know. You had to pay attention and you had to take care of each other in the little ways as well as the big.
He ducked under the sheet and set about waking Will the best way he knew how — with a warm and willing mouth and a bone-melting rhythm.
Proof of how exhausted Will was, it took several long seconds before he even stirred, but at last he began to twitch and sigh under Taylor’s expert attentions. Finally, he made a small sleepy sound and shuddered, starting to move instinctively, hips pushing, cock thrusting. Taylor sucked harder, applying lips, tongue, even the suggestion of teeth, using his considerable knowledge to give Will maximum pleasure.
Will groaned, heartfelt and inarticulate.
Taylor’s heart seemed to beat in time to the pulse of Will’s cock, tasting the salty pre-cum. He knew what Will was feeling, knew how to make it just the way Will wanted, sucking hard, then softly, then harder still. Sweet and soft, then hard and fierce, then so soft again, so tender. Tugging him along,
Come on, sweetheart, this way…
Will tossed in the sheets like he was delirious, but it was the best kind of suffering, and Taylor could feel the exact moment that tingle started at the root of Will’s cock, exquisite sensation unfurling, flowering through nerves and muscles, tissue and bone, that dizzy delight blooming in his bloodstream.
!” Will choked out.
And there it was, the blood-hot spurt of his release, and Taylor only too happy to take it from him, to swallow it down, the spill of all that tension and worry and aggravation. Relieved and relaxed by the best medicine of all. That would be love, not sex, though sex was a vital ingredient.
Afterwards, he rested his head on Will’s thigh, breathing in the sharp, pungent smell of sex mingled with bare skin and spring rain-scented laundry soap.
Will’s fingers tangled in his hair, whether in caress or just the need for contact. “Hey, what about you?” He spoke with what was clearly an effort.
“I’m good,” Taylor said. And it was true.
“Did you feed Riley?” Will asked. They had showered and dressed and were making breakfast. This was the first time they’d had a chance to have breakfast in their own kitchen for nearly a month, and if Taylor never saw another breakfast burrito or Egg McMuffin, he’d die a happy man.
He assented, catching the whole grain waffles with his plate as they flew out of the toaster.
Will glanced his way, smiled. “Nice catch.”
Taylor grunted, carrying the plate to the counter and taking the lid off the butter dish.
“Orange juice?” Will asked.
“Just coffee.” He buttered the waffles. Spread grape jelly over Will’s, almond butter over his own.
“You having sugar today?”
“I guess. Why not. It’s our weekend.”
Will sweetened Taylor’s coffee appropriately and carried the blue earthenware mugs to the table. He sat down at his place.
Taylor finished slathering the waffles and delivered the plates to the table.
“You sure you don’t want any of these sausages?” Will paused, his fork poised above the plate.
Will shook his head over such foolishness and proceeded to eat all the turkey links before Taylor could wise up and change his mind.
Taylor smiled inwardly. This was what he’d wanted when he had pushed Will to move in with him. Just this. Just being together. Not that they weren’t together most of the time anyway, but there was something about waking up with Will, puttering around the kitchen as they made coffee, talked — or not — ate breakfast, worked out their plans for the day, that was different, special, better than how it had been before. It felt so right. For the first time in his life, Taylor felt…content.
There was a knot in his stomach every time he thought of having to go to Richard for money. Even if Richard had been his own dad, which he wasn’t, Taylor would not have liked asking for a loan. He almost wished he hadn’t suggested it. But they had to have money. They couldn’t go on like this. All that had to happen was one of them getting injured for real, and they’d be finished. CLOSED FOR BUSINESS. Permanently.
As it was, they were losing their shirts, and half killing themselves for the pleasure. They were exhausted, their nerves were frayed, and they hadn’t had sex — fucked — in two weeks.
“If we can be on the road by noon, we’ll be in Mist Bend by suppertime tomorrow,” Will said.
Taylor nodded, cut his waffle in quarters, speared one of the quarters.
“I figure we’ll just take our time, enjoy the sights. No rush. No pressure. It’s not like we’ve got an assignment to hurry back for.”
“Right.” Not exactly a positive, but Taylor chose not to point that out. Diplomacy in action.
Will finished off the last turkey link and turned his attention to his waffles. “You’ll like it up there. It’s not that far from the ocean, and it’s quiet and peaceful. There are a couple of good restaurants and a movie theater in town.”
When was the last time they’d had a chance to watch a film in a theater? Taylor couldn’t remember. “Dinner and a movie sounds great.”
“I think so. The fishing is still pretty good in the fall. November is good for Chinook salmon and summer steelhead. In fact, trout, salmon, and steelhead are year round. We can fish all we want and sleep late on the mornings we don’t fish. I was thinking we’d stay up there for three or four days. How’s that sound?”
Well, it sorta sounded like Will was trying to talk himself into the idea. Trying to convince them both that this trip was going to be great.
“Fine by me.” Taylor took a mouthful of coffee. He set his mug down and said, “But are you sure you wouldn’t prefer to break the news to your kid brother on your own?”
Will stared at him. “What news?”
“That you’re pitching for the other team.”
Will took a moment before he said, “I’m not sure that Grant doesn’t already know.”
“If you’re not sure, then no, he doesn’t know.” Not if Grant was anything like Will.
Another silence. Sometimes it was like panning for gold. At last, Will said, “Grant’s shipping out overseas. I don’t know when I’m going to see him again. I would like him to know you. At least meet you. So, the answer to your question is no. But it might get awkward for you. I don’t know. If it is, we’ll stay in town.”
“No worries. I’ve got a thick hide.”
There was a little sparkle in Will’s eyes as he said gravely, “You know, I seem to recall you’ve got one or two…sensitive spots.”
Taylor’s mouth quirked.
“There’s the back of your knees, the inside of your elbows…”
Taylor noisily slurped his coffee.
“And that thing you like me to do to your nip —”
, Brandt! Enough.”
When breakfast was over, they washed up, put the trash out, packed. It didn’t take them long. They were used to traveling and traveling light, so it was just a matter of throwing a couple of changes of clothing in their bags, dumping the perishables from the fridge, and finding their much neglected fishing rods.
They stowed their gear in the back of Will’s Toyota Land Cruiser, gave Riley — uneasily watching their preparations — permission to come aboard, and were on the road by half past noon to the accompaniment of Emmylou Harris.
The CD was an old one.
. An album Will had played a lot when they had first been partnered, and Emmylou’s bell-clear voice was familiar and sort of comforting even when she was singing about love lost forever.
Making believe that you still love me
It’s leaving me alone and so blue
They didn’t talk much; both of them had a lot on their minds, but the quiet was relaxed and easy, and they knew and were used to each other’s silences.
Taylor took the first stretch of driving. He knew Will was still stiff and sore from his
Starsky and Hutch
routine the day before. It was a long drive, and it would be even longer for Will.
“What do you plan on saying to Richard?” Will broke the silence of the last one hundred miles.
“I haven’t worked it out yet.”
“But you seem pretty sure he’ll cough up the cash.”
“He seemed like an okay guy, the one time I met him.” Will sounded thoughtful.
“Yeah. He’ll give us the money, don’t worry.”
“I’m not worried.” He could feel Will watching him. Will added after a minute, “So long as you’re still okay with this. Because if you’re not —”
“I’m fine with it, Will.” He knew he should explain, but he hated to talk about this stuff, about anything to do with his dad. Will knew the bare bones, of course. That Taylor’s parents had split up because Taylor’s college professor dad was a drunk and, in Taylor’s mom’s opinion, a complete loser. His mom had made sure to marry for success the next time around.
He didn’t blame her for that. And he didn’t blame Richard for being everything his own dad wasn’t — couldn’t — be. But if there was any other way, he wouldn’t be calling Richard for help. No drama. He just…wouldn’t.
They stopped for gas outside of Stockton. Will jammed the pump nozzle into the Land Cruiser and took Riley for a walk while Taylor went inside the mini-mart and stocked up on coffee, bottled water, peanuts and granola bars. He rounded a disheveled- looking magazine stand, frowsy covers featuring buxom women, muscle-bound hunks, and souped-up cars all fluttering in the blast from the glass door air curtains, and came face to face with a burly guy in a black leather jacket and mirrored sunglasses.