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Authors: BA Tortuga

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BOOK: The Terms of Release
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“You ever miss being in the service?”

Where the hell had that come from? Win tilted his head. “Not really, no. I’m pretty good at what I do, but as a cop, I do it way more on my terms. In the military, there were always orders.”

“Cool. I never thought about being a soldier, but I might have been good at it.”

“I think you’re good at being a cowboy, huh?” The salads came, and Win munched away, the bread having whetted his appetite.

“It’s what I know. Cowboying and… well, there ain’t much call for professional convict.”

He frowned. “Which you aren’t. You’re doing fine, Sage.”

Sage nodded. “I know. I know, it’s just…. Everyone pretends like it didn’t happen, and… I did hard time for eight years. I’m fixin’ to be twenty-nine and…. You know?”

“I know.” Win paused, trying to decide what to say. “I think about it sometimes. About how you seem to have been abducted by aliens when it comes to some stuff.”

“Weird, huh? It’s like I was in a foreign country, sort of. I mean, I could have had any drugs I wanted, smokes, but I couldn’t get a Domino’s pizza. Then they let you out into a halfway house and… that shit’s filthy, man. The joint is less scary.”

“Lord.” Win grinned a little. “I like Pizza Hut.”

“I like pizza. Period.” Sage chuckled. “I love real Mexican food and good steaks and…. One day I’ll be able to have a beer, even.”

“You will.” He would bet Sage would be supercautious when he could drink. Jesus, when he could drink. The man was twenty-nine fucking years old, and he’d never had a legal fucking beer, never got to vote. Hell, Sage couldn’t tell a goddamn police officer no on a drug test. It was never going to go away, that fucking cloud, the stain of being young, stupid, and in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The roll in his hand made a wet sound, and when he looked down, he’d kneaded it back into dough.

“Maybe. Maybe I won’t. They say that addictions are addictions, so maybe I won’t.” Sage nodded to the squished roll. “They better that way?”

“Shut up.” Adam rolled his eyes and dropped the mangled bread on his little plate. “And for the record, I don’t touch cigarettes.” He was an ex-smoker, had been for six years, but he always knew he could fall back.

“Cigarettes are nasty. I hate the smell.”

“I used to love them.” They’d calmed him down. “Now the smell makes me sick.”

“I bet.” Sage leaned back as their steaks came. “Look at that.”

“That’s amazing.” The potatoes came on separate little plates, all covered with sea salt. They got more rolls too.

They ate hearty, telling silly jokes and reminiscing about high school football games that Sage had been too tiny to participate in and Win had been too shitty to start in.

“You know, they might take our Texan cards away, man? Neither one of us started in varsity.” Sage’s eyes were twinkling.

“Well, you’re a cowboy, and I’m a deputy. We have the stereotype exemption,” Win said, deadpan until Sage cracked up.

The waitress came back and refilled their teas. “Y’all look like you’re going good. Y’all want something sweet?”

He looked at Sage, who shook his head. “No, ma’am. I’m fixin’ to take a long walk and then find some ice cream.”

His man did love ice cream.

“Thanks, though.” Win loved the idea of ice cream too. “Tomorrow they said we ought to try that barbecue place. Is it any good?”

“Totally. Go early or late, or you’ll have to wait in line. There’s good ice cream in the coffee shop in the square.”

“Cool. Thank you.” Adam grabbed the bill neatly when she slid it over, not even letting Sage see it.

Sage pinked, sighed the slightest bit. “One day, Adam. I swear.”

He knew. Sage worked his ass off. “It’s no big, baby. I told you this vacation was on me.”

“Still. One day.” Sage’s boot nudged his under the table.

“One day you can take me to the Caribbean.” His heartbeat kicked up, his cheeks heating.

“My hard-core probation should be over in a year, give or take. Then, yeah, I can request permission to leave the country. Then I just got five years of calling in, for the most part.”

“Where would you like to go most?” Win thought maybe they should go where they could hold hands.

“I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. I like the idea of the ocean, though. I used to walk the beach in California.”

“Hell, we can go down to Galveston without leaving the state.” Win liked the beach. And the seawall.

“I went once when I was a teenager. We got so sunburned I liked to died on the way home.”

“I went a few years ago to some law enforcement conference. There was this little place that did pancakes….”

“Yeah?” They headed out into the crowd, the music floating on the air. The place had a real old boomtown feel to it now that evening was on them.

They headed into Billy Bob’s, paid their cover, and went to sightsee. They had the tiniest bull riding ever, the arena so small the clown was the one bullfighter.

“You ever been on a bull, Adam?” Sage watched the cowboys closely, eyes sharp.

“Oh hell, no. You?” He could see Sage do it.

“Yeah. Yeah, when I was a teenager. Junior rodeo, you know.” His lips twisted. “I bet I could do it again, though.”

“Bullshit.” One of the big old boys sitting below them snorted. “You’re an old man. You could not.”

“I ain’t that old.”

“Old enough to be scared.”

Win saw Sage’s eyes harden. “I’m not scared, boy.”

“Oh, now, you’re just tiny. You should be.”

Win didn’t know whether to flash his badge even though he was off duty, or let Sage handle this. The man could look out for himself.

“You gonna get your ass up there, kid? Put your money where your mouth is?”

“He’s not signed up.” Adam had taken enough. He half rose, slipping his badge out of his jeans pocket. “Back off.”

The kid’s eyes went wide. “Dude, I don’t want trouble.”

“Neither do we. You were the one acting like you did.” He sat back down, hand brushing Sage’s leg.

Sage stared the kid down, never looking away until he backed off.

Then they settled in to watch the rest of the bull riding. Sage didn’t say another word, just watched the cowboys quietly.

Win hoped to hell their night wasn’t ruined. Maybe he shouldn’t have flashed his badge. Shit, he wasn’t sure if Sage was pissed or was glad. Whatever. All he knew was Sage was quiet.

When the bull riding was over, they headed out, watching the dancers a moment. “Do you line dance?” Win dared to tease.

“I’m a Texan. Of course I do.” Sage shook his head. “It’s a little more complicated now.”

“It is. I always get my feet all tangled up.”

“I don’t think I’ll probably be dancing anytime soon.” Sage chuckled. “I need a Coke, I’m thinkin’.”

“Cool. I could use a drink.” Nothing alcoholic, but he could wet his whistle.

They headed up to the bar and Sage slid in between two groups of frat boys to order two Cokes from the harried little bartender. She smiled at Sage, though, obviously liking what she saw.

Sage nodded, tipped her, then headed toward him, drinks in hand. “Ta-da!”

“Thanks, babe.” He took his Coke and sipped. Lord, bar sodas were always too cloying.

“Surely.” Sage drank deeply, nose wrinkling. “Whoa. Sweet.”

“Yeah.” He grinned a little, feeling brave. “Wanna go wander back toward the hotel? See what’s at the arena?”

“Absolutely. It’s smoky in here.”

“Cool.” Win drank a few more sips before setting the glass aside, not willing to waste Sage’s money.

“This is nasty.” Sage placed it aside and nodded toward the door.

Win laughed. “It was pretty bad. We’ll find somewhere to have that ice cream too.”

“God, yes.” They headed out into the midsized crowd, the night surprisingly chilly.

He moved a little closer to Sage, enough to not be obvious, but to share warmth.

“That blue norther is coming sooner than they thought.”

“It is.” He took a chance, nudging Sage with his elbow. “We could get the ice cream room service and watch a movie.”

“Oooh. I’ve never had room service. Can we get coffee?”

“We can get anything you want.” He’d do about anything to keep that smile on Sage’s face.

“Sounds perfect.”

Weirdly enough it was.

 

 

S
AGE
HADN

T
had such a good time in all his life. They’d walked and eaten, wandered around museums, and then, yesterday, they’d hopped in the truck and driven around, looking at all the little towns around Fort Worth.

They’d thought about Six Flags, but Sage figured they ought to pace themselves. They would do that when he could pay.

He packed his little bag, putting everything back in its spot. They still had today to wander home. Adam had some sort of thing they were going to, but hadn’t told him what it was.

It was kind of exciting and a little unnerving. A surprise.

He hadn’t had a good one of those in too long. Well, he’d had a few in the last few days. Like how stunning it was to watch Adam eat ribs. A lot of licking was involved. Licking lips. Licking fingers. Moaning.

He rubbed his cock through his jeans, jonesing on it a bit.

“You okay, baby?” Adam came out of the bathroom and leaned against his back.

“Uh-huh.” He was. He pressed back, biting his bottom lip some.

“Whatcha thinkin’?” The slight hint of laughter told him Adam knew exactly what he was thinking about.

“About you and your mouth.”

“Yeah? You like it when I kiss you, Sage?” Adam was rocking against him.

“Uh-huh.” His eyelids got heavy. “I like when you do lots of things.”

“Me too.” Adam reached around and put one hand over his, pressing his cock. “I like your things, as well.”

“Uhn.” He went up on tiptoe, eyes rolling back in his head.

“Uh-huh. Checkout’s not for two hours.”

“Cool.” He lifted his chin and kissed Adam’s jaw.

Adam twirled him around as neatly as if they were dancing, kissing him on the mouth nice and easy.

His hips pressed against Adam’s thigh, his belly against that sweet prick. The brush of cloth couldn’t hide how happy Adam was to be there with him.

“Can’t believe how bad I need you.”

“I’m glad.”

He got him another kiss, then another, and Adam finally pushed him down on the bed.

Sage laughed, the sound bubbling out of him. Fuck, he wished life could be like this all the time. ’Course then he guessed he wouldn’t appreciate it when things went so good.

“Good vacation, baby?”

“Best. The best.” He cupped Adam’s cheek and took a deep kiss. “Let’s see if we can end it with a bang.”

“Oh, we can so do that. The question is who’s doing the banging?”

 

 

T
HE
I
MAX
theater was remarkably empty for a Sunday matinee. Win was tickled to death, because that meant he and Sage could sit close without too much worry. They had a row to themselves, and everyone was hiding behind 3D glasses.

His cowboy was like a kid, with popcorn and soda, staring at the screen in awe. “Dinosaurs. How fucking cool.”

“I know, right? I love this movie.” The dinosaurs were stunning in 3D.

Sage reached over, squeezed his arm, then ate another bite of popcorn. Win grinned, feeling like the most amazing boyfriend on earth. Dude. Did he call himself a boyfriend?

Win worked that one over in his mind, like he was chewing gum. Boyfriend? Lover? Fuckbuddy? Partner? He wasn’t sure. Partner sounded like a Western. Of course, Sage was pretty damned Western. The man wore tighty-whities and starched his jeans. The hat was a dead giveaway too.

He snorted. Howdy, partner.

Sage looked over at him, eyes huge behind the 3D glasses. That blinky expression made Win smile.

“Having fun, man?”

Was he having fun? Shit. He was having a ball. He loved to see Sage relax and have fun. “I am.”

“Cool.” Sage offered him more popcorn, fingers barely brushing his.

He grabbed a handful, his arm tingling. He kept thinking about earlier in the day, back at the hotel. Standing there and bending Sage over the bed. He hadn’t imagined Sage would be so eager, so horny and in his face with it.

The whole thought threatened to give him a happy, and that might be awkward. Even in a dark theater.

The tyrannosaurus roared, and Sage laughed, clapping.

Yeah. This was so totally worth the trip and the time off and the money. It was worth the shit he was gonna take when he got back to work.

This was hope, and it was something he’d been hunting. He needed to believe that he and Sage could have a life outside their little town. Had to believe.

He just had to figure out how to make it happen.

The popcorn made him thirsty, and he grabbed his Coke and sipped, pondering things.

At least until the velociraptors started eating people.

Then he was all about the dinosaurs.

C
HAPTER
T
WENTY
-T
WO

 

 

W
IN
WHISTLED
,
feeling damned good. Damned good.

His little vacation with Sage a couple weeks back had gone so well that he couldn’t stop grinning, and he hummed to himself as he flipped through e-mails.

“Win, you got a sec?” The sheriff breezed by, heading toward the private office.

Goddamn it. So much for the good mood. Jim was smiling, which boded ill for Win.

“Sure. What’s up?”

“Sit.” Jim moved behind his desk and settled. “I have some information you need to know. I know you and the Redding guy are hooking up, and I just want you to have all the news.”

Win raised a brow. “Do you, now? For my own good, no doubt.”

“I called in a favor and got Redding’s records. I thought you ought to know that he had a steady in the pen, one that still writes him. Some big black dude. Apparently they tried to separate them twice and this ‘Bear’ guy got him returned to the cell, both times.” Jim’s lips twisted. “Sounds like true love.”

BOOK: The Terms of Release
10.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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