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Authors: Jade Archer

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BOOK: Sandpipers' Secrets
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“What?” Zak shouted, his hands going to his hips as he went from hurt to outrage in the blink of an eye.

Oops, that hadn’t come out right, either.

“I think he’s into you, Zak. I just—”

“Are you fucking crazy? The man just caught you sucking my cock! I hardly think he’s going to be lining
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up to do the same!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

“Brody is not a cock whore, Lark,” Zak growled at him.

“What!”Where the hell did that come from? “I never said he was, Zak. And are you saying I am?” he demanded, feeling his hackles rise.

“No! That’s not what I said, and you know it. Brody’s not…he just…he’s not some casual fling.”

Lark stopped and took the time to really study Zak for a moment. Every muscle was rigid and his jaw was so tense, Lark was afraid the man might crack a tooth if he didn’t ease up soon. The longer Lark looked, the more obvious it became that Zak wasn’t just fighting the attraction because he didn’t want to upset their relationship and possibly hurt Lark, but because he didn’t think it could go anywhere. He didn’t want to use or hurt Brody either. Apparently, Zak was a whole lot more attached and emotionally involved with Brody than Lark had given him credit for.

“I never suggested he was just a fling, Zak,” Lark said carefully, watching Zak attentively the whole time.

“I just said I think he’s really interested in you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“He was holding that jacket in front of him pretty damn protectively, like a shield. And I saw the way he was looking at you when I came back with the wallet. He was more than just a bit embarrassed. I’d say he was all but begging you to let him suck you off.”

“You’re delusional!”

Lark took a deep breath and tried for patience. What he really wanted to do was grab Zak by his bulging biceps and shake the stuffing out of him. Unfortunately, owing to the considerable size difference between them, that wasn’t going to be possible. So he tried a different approach—being reasonable.

“I love you, Zak. I don’t want to lose you, but there’s something more for us. I know there is. I don’t know what it is, but I won’t pretend the need isn’t there. I can’t lose us, Zak. Not if all it takes is for us to be brave enough to try something different. And I won’t back away from this, either. It’s too important. I know it is. I can feel it.”

For a long time, he wasn’t sure Zak was going to acknowledge what he’d said. How he felt. But then gradually the tension melted from Zak’s muscles and face, and Zak nodded slowly.

“I know you’d never back down, baby. Not if it’s something you really feel is important. You’re one of the bravest men I know. And you won’t lose me. We won’t lose us. I promise.” Zak opened his arms and Lark stepped into the warm, welcoming embrace that meant home, just as it always had. “It’s not like it’ll be the first time you slapped me around until I saw sense. Assuming this is going to make sense sometime soon…”

Lark choked on a laugh. For a long time they stood together, holding each other and letting their embrace dissipate the fear and worry. Slowly, Lark felt the two of them relax into one another, and he knew everything would be all right between them.

“Zak?” he whispered quietly.

“Yes, sweetheart?”

“I like him too. I just thought…if you… then we could both maybe…”

Zak sighed and pulled him a little closer. “Honestly, I’ll be surprised if we see him again. I think…I don’t know, Lark. There’s just something…lost and vulnerable about Brody. We may have scared him off.

And I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing.”

“But if we do—see him again I mean—do you think…”

“Lark. I don’t want to push him…Brody…I think Brody needs us to give him space and time. He doesn’t need us to jump on him and try to whisk him off to our bed.”

“But that sounds like fun,” Lark protested with a cheeky little pouting smile. For once Zak didn’t join in his playfulness.

“Brody’s not a plaything, Lark. He’s not some new toy you get to unwrap and experiment with. If you want to do this then you have to promise me it’s not just because you want something new to play with. I won’t toy with Brody.”

Lark pulled away a little to look up into Zak’s determined face. It gave him pause for a moment.

Something more was going on. He could feel it in the tense muscles under his fingers and the way Zak’s clenched his jaw again at the mention of treating Brody with anything but the utmost care and respect.

Maybe Zak was a lot closer to coming to the same conclusion about Brody than Lark had thought.

Lark was already well and truly convinced that Brody was someone they were meant to meet and get to know more intimately. He’d just never expected his normally obsessively cautious and methodical lover to get to the same point so quickly. He’d thought that by slowly introducing the idea of letting Brody into their bed, he might have some hope of getting Zak to see Brody in their everyday lives as well. But apparently Zak’s heart was leading the way.

Lark felt a kernel of hope grow inside him.

But for now, he decided to back off. Whatever was happening was subtle and fragile and he didn’t want to push it right now.

“It’s not that at all, Zak. I don’t see Brody as a new toy to play with, I promise.”

Zak studied him for a long time and Lark held his eyes steadfastly, not looking away for a moment. He had to make Zak see how very serious he was about his last words. Lark couldn’t explain it, exactly, but he knew that this was more important to him—to them—than a game or play time. That Brody mattered to them. That this was going to be one of the most important moments of their lives.

Finally, Zak simply nodded. Whatever he had been looking for in Lark’s eyes, he had obviously found.

Zak’s shoulders relaxed and his voice returned to its normal, calm cadence.

Lark sighed in relief at having past the impromptu test.

“Let’s go home.”

Lark nodded, suddenly more tired than he could ever remember being. He just wanted to cuddle up in bed with Zak and sleep for a week. It had been a long, frustrating few days, and it didn’t look like there was going to be any quick, easy answers anytime soon. But as much as sleep called to him, he knew it would be a long time coming. His brain was already playing this evening over and over in his mind, and a certain wide-eyed, hunky kitchen-hand took centre stage. It was just a pity he’d exited stage left. Lark wouldn’t mind cuddling up against Brody, too.

Chapter Five

Brody hefted the heavy bag of groceries he held in one hand and tightened his grip on the little chemist’s bag he clutched in the other. He knew he was being paranoid, but consciously feeling the weight of the medicine in his hand reassured him. He didn’t want Wolf to go without, but if he accidently lost the little bag and its expensive contents he wouldn’t be able to replace it. At least, not this month.

Happy that he had everything well in hand, he turned to begin the long trek back to the apartment when he heard someone calling out his name.

“Brody! Hey, Brody!”

Lark. Brody closed his eyes. He’d lain awake half the night worrying about what he was going to say, and he still didn’t know.

Fuck!He wasn’t ready for this. He’d thought he had at least a few more hours to sort out the confusing mess from last night and come up with something before he had to face Lark and Zak again. Now, as he stood frozen to the spot, the small bag of Wolf’s medicine dangling from one hand and a heavy bag of groceries in the other, he felt like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights.

He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around his intense, needy reaction to Zak and Lark. And discovering that they might actually welcome his attraction only added to his confusion.

Still, as Lark raced up—his sweet, infectious smile lighting up his face—Brody couldn’t help but be glad to see him. His heart rate ratcheted up another few notches and his breath hitched at how hot the man was, and how truly pleased he seemed to be to see Brody. It warmed Brody right through, even as he tried frantically to think of a way to get away without seeming rude.

I’m such a mess.And confusion wasn’t the worst of it. Somewhere deep down, in a part of himself he tried desperately to deny, Brody was pretty sure he could fall hard and fast for this beautiful man and his gorgeous lover.

“Hi, Brody! How are things going?”

“Fine,” was all Brody managed to get out without tripping over his tongue as he took in Lark’s tight
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pants and plain white shirt that moulded to his small but well-defined chest.

Well, that was good, he thought sarcastically. So articulate, and now he was hard enough to pound nails.

Thank goodness he’d put on his tightest jeans. At least there was some hope that Lark wouldn’t notice his ‘growing’ problem. The painful constriction in his pants, however, was less of a blessing.

“Are you doing anything?” Lark asked brightly. “Maybe we could grab a coffee or something.”

“Sorry. I…ah…I have to go. Got to get these things home before they spoil.” Brody was quite pleased with the flash of brilliance that gave him a valid reason to scurry away like the silly little mouse he was. At least for a few more hours anyway. Hopefully, that would be enough to sort out what was going on in his head—the one on his shoulders. The one in his pants was far more decisive about what it wanted.

“Zak’s just talking to a new supplier he wants to try out for the restaurant. We could run you home so you could put your shopping away and then all go out somewhere.¼” Lark suggested hopefully.

“I’m sorry…I…ah…I really have to go.” There was no way he wanted Lark to see where he was living.

It might be reasonably clean and infinitely preferable to the streets, but it was still a dump compared to where Zak and Lark lived—above the restaurant, with its glorious views over the river passage and down to the ocean.

“I was really hoping we could talk about last night. Away from the restaurant where we’d have more time and less pressure,” Lark persisted.

Brody shifted uncomfortably. He wasn’t ready to talk yet. He still hadn’t worked out what he felt, or what the two men’s motivations might be.

“I’m sorry. Can it wait? I really—”

“Is there someone else? Is that it?” Lark asked, his usual light, happy voice now sombre and serious.

“No…I mean, yes. I have to get back to Wolf.” He held up the chemist’s bag as evidence that he wasn’t just brushing Lark off, even though he was. “He’s been sick.”

“Wolf. Is that your boyfriend?”

“No!” Brody denied quickly. He didn’t want Lark to think he wasn’t interested or was messing them around. He just needed some time to think. “Wolf’s my brother and I really need to get back and check on him…I’m not—I mean, I want to stay. I like you and Zak, but—”

“It’s okay, Brody.” Zak’s voice interrupted from behind them. A large, warm hand settled on Brody’s shoulder, surprising him and nearly making him fumble the precious bag of medicine. “Lark’s just being his usual pushy self.”

Stepping around to stand beside Lark, Zak looked down at the smaller blond man and reached out to squeeze his hand gently.

“There’s no rush, is there, Lark? We’ll try to catch up and hang out another day.”

“But—”

“Lark, just leave it, baby. Give Brody some room. There’s no rush.” Zak grinned down at Lark, softening his reprimand with a tender look.

Lark nodded, even though he didn’t look at all happy about the decision.

“But you know we could still give you a lift home. Those bags look heavy.”

“No!” Brody blurted out too quickly. Zak’s eyebrows shot up in surprise at his abrupt outburst. “I mean, it’s really not that far and I don’t want to put you out.”

“It wouldn’t put us out. We wouldn’t mind at all. Would we, Zak?” Lark looked up at Zak expectantly, but the bigger, muscular man continued to focus intensely on Brody, assessing and measuring him carefully.

Brody flushed. He was pretty sure Zak knew he was too embarrassed to let them see where he lived.

He could only imagine what he was thinking at the moment.

“If you’re sure…” Zak said, still watching him closely.

“I’m sure. I…ah…I’ll see you guys later. I better get home before Wolf misses me. He can be a bit of a tyrant when he’s sick.”

As Zak watched Brody’s firm ass, encased in the tightest pair of jeans he’d seen in a long time, hurry off down the street, he couldn’t help but worry about the other man. Something wasn’t right. He was so tempted to follow Brody and see what was going on.

But he couldn’t. If Brody was ever going to trust them, they had to respect his privacy. Zak could wait until the man was ready to tell them his secrets.

Zak knew that Lark was disappointed because Brody wasn’t opening up to them right now. He never had been very patient, and Zak knew Lark wanted to talk to Brody about what had happened last night.

He probably wanted to suss Brody out, find out everything there was to know about the man and work out, in graphic detail, how they might all fit together.

Lark would definitely want to hurry them on to the next step. Then, more than likely, skip over several more steps to get to the good bits, as Lark was so fond of saying. But Zak was very conscious that it wasn’t the way to go. Not with Brody. Not between the three of them. Whatever had gone on in Brody’s life before, whatever was still going on, required some delicate handling and restraint.

“I don’t like this, Zak. Something’s wrong. Something’s worrying Brody. And I don’t think it’s just what happened last night. It’s something else,” Lark said as he turned with a worried look on his face from watching the same tight, denim-covered ass walk away.

“Maybe he’s not interested, Lark. He just might be too polite or worried about his job to say anything.

Did you ever consider that?”

“Please,” Lark drawled, rolling his eyes at him, “the man practically trips over his tongue whenever he sees you. Did you see him when you touched him just now? Whoa, baby, hot! No. He’s interested. I know he is. But something’s holding him back.”

BOOK: Sandpipers' Secrets
5.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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