Read We Found Love Online

Authors: Kade Boehme,Allison Cassatta

We Found Love (21 page)

BOOK: We Found Love
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“You a’ight in there, Connors?”

“Yeah, Julio. I’m good.”

“You should be in bed.”

“Can’t sleep.”

“They make meds for that. I could get a—”

“No.” Riley held out both hands. “No, I don’t want to be medicated.”

He wanted his head as clear as possible right now, because he didn’t want to lose a single second of the memory he’d made with Hunter down in the forbidden wing, and he didn’t want to sleep through Hunter’s grand exit back into the real world. Riley needed his one last good-bye.

“I’ll lie down,” he said. “I promise, Julio.” And to prove his point, Riley climbed back into his bed and tucked himself in. He turned his overly alert eyes back to Julio, who watched with an accusing stare, as if Riley was going to do something epically bad the moment Julio turned his back to him. Not even close. He didn’t want to risk not seeing Hunter one last time.

When Julio finally walked on to do whatever it was the orderlies did in the middle of the night, Riley turned his stare on the ceiling. He spent the next four hours like that: gaze pinned to stained tiles, mind reliving every single touch and caress and the way Hunter had worked his body. Riley was getting hard again. Just thinking about the way Hunter had kissed him, rimmed him, fingered him, then made love to him, made Riley’s groin ache for more.

Before too much longer, an orderly came through announcing checks, and Riley’s door swung open, meaning he was free to leave the safe confines of four dingy walls. Under any other circumstances, he would’ve skipped the prefood pleasantries and ambling about the common area, but this wasn’t any old day of the week, and the circumstances were far from normal.

He raked his fingers through his hair, smoothed both hands over his clothes, then stepped out into the hallway.

The feeling wasn’t ominous, not as much as it should’ve been, all things considered. Sure, Riley hated seeing Hunter leave and wasn’t sure how he’d survive without him, but at least Hunter wasn’t leaving the way Andy did. At least Hunter was going back to his life.

Wow. Very mature of you, Ry.
The voice speaking with so much pride in Riley’s head sounded more like Hunter’s than his. It elicited a crooked grin, one that Riley wore all the way to the common room.

The scene was much as it had always been: one person pushing checkers around on a board, babbling to himself about making the damn move already. The quieter ones who just wanted to get the hell out of that place read over old issues of
National Geographic
or read abused books that looked like they were close to falling apart. Then there was the guy who liked to stand in the corner and stare at the wall. And drooling guy. Humming guy. The guy who talked to the plant next to the nurses’ desk.
They
were lifers.
They
needed a place like this. Riley didn’t.

“Ry?”

Riley spun around, gaze immediately landing on the one person in the world he wanted to see right now. He inhaled sharply, letting the soothing breath roll down through his body. His lips tugged at the edge, transforming his thin mouth into a wide, toothy grin.

His man stood there ready to leave that place in real clothes: faded jeans, destructed at the thighs in a few small places. Enough to give Hunter that sexy, rugged look the models in the magazines had. A mossy-green tee hugged his body in all the right places, showed off his toned pecs and the ink running the length of his left arm.

“Hunter. Hey.”

Hunter stepped forward, as did Riley. They stood face to face and mere inches apart from each other. For the first time since they’d met, Riley smelled something other than the shitty hospital shampoo and deodorant. Hunter smelled fresh, cleaner than anything the hospital had afforded him. Musky. Manly. Completely edible. Riley drew in another deep breath. He would remember that smell for the rest of his life.

“Sooo…,” Hunter drawled.

“I know. Good-bye, right?” Riley lowered his gaze. He’d told himself he was going to keep it together, that he wouldn’t cry and wouldn’t make an ass out of himself. But dammit if his eyes hadn’t started stinging. Dammit if his throat hadn’t tightened.

“Ry, it….” Hunter’s voice was so soft, so close to Riley’s earlobe. “It doesn’t have to be.”

Nothing would’ve made Riley happier than being able to agree with Hunter and mean it. He knew better, though. If he did somehow manage to get out of this hell, it would probably be too late to try to make a life or something with Hunter. The guy was hot. He could have anyone he wanted. Why the hell would he wait for Riley? Riley was broken. A lifer.

“Good luck out there,” he conceded to saying. Anything else would’ve led to a total breakdown, to tears no one needed to see. He was okay with some cold send-off that didn’t mean shit compared to what they’d been through or what they’d done last night. Then Hunter threw both arms around Riley and the world went topsy-turvy. Like floating and falling at the same time. Head and heart being tugged in opposite directions.

Please take me with you.

Please don’t forget about me.

Don’t leave me.

He threaded his arms around Hunter’s waist, buried his face in the bend of Hunter’s neck, and held on with without mercy. He hoped with everything inside him this wouldn’t be the last time he laid eyes on Hunter. The universe felt wrong without Hunter in it.

Hunter pulled back first, jawline rippling. The blue of his eyes darkened, searing their sorrowful imprints into Riley’s memory. “Good luck… getting out of here,” he said, and not in a doubtful, meaningless way. He said it like he genuinely wanted Riley on the other side of those doors with him.

Turning his head, Hunter stepped back. He didn’t hurry to the double doors like a man who’d finally been handed his freedom. He took slow, measured steps, shoulders slack, void of the strength and conviction Hunter always had. His head hung ever so slightly. The doors opened. Hunter stepped through. Then he was gone.

Gone.

The arms that once held Hunter so tightly wrapped around Riley’s body, a command issued by his mind to prepare for his breaking heart. He’d been lying to himself, thinking he could be the better man and be happy for Hunter’s release. He hated it. Cursed it. Wanted Hunter to come running back through those doors like people always did in those shitty movies Mimi used to watch. Where the fuck was
his
happily ever after?

His back hit the wall, and Riley became distinctly aware of the fact he’d been walking backward. Without the sudden dull throb in his spine, he would’ve never known. And that new pain crowned the shit out of the emotional tornado building inside him, and that breakdown he’d been trying not to have… it happened, right in the middle of the hall so every nutcase in the joint could watch him fall apart. His shoulders curled forward, wrenching with every gut-twisting sob. He couldn’t fight his tears anymore.

 

 

H
UNTER
LOOKED
back at Riley one last time before the doors shut on him. Every step he took after that was like a saw, severing something that could never be stitched back together. An orderly guided him down a hall he’d never been in—at least, if he had, he was still too trashed at the time to remember.

The warren he was led through was dingier than the rooms he’d been housed in the last couple of months, the air dustier and less sterile. Nurses, orderlies, and doctors passed by, not giving him a second glance in his street clothes. He’d forgotten how quickly one became anonymous, how unimportant they became when they were just a normal person in the normal world.

He wasn’t stressed about seeing the outside again, not really. He was nervous, scared shitless he’d find a way to mess this up. He was scared to death his brother would reject him, that he’d fall back in with his drinking buddies, because he’d faced facts, he had no friends. That’s why Riley’s attentions in the beginning had been so welcome.

But now, after this journey, after these long weeks of suffering, overthinking, being picked and prodded, he was confident he could survive a little rejection from the people he’d been nothing more than free vodka to in hopes of finding people who’d care even a fraction as much as Riley had.

Riley, though. The tether trying to pull him back down toward the hell he’d wanted out of so badly was caving his chest inward, crushing his heart, stealing what little air he could draw into his lungs. That was good-bye. Good-bye when they’d barely said their hello.

Good-bye when there was so much left to say, so much left to do. Maybe they should have gone to the forbidden wing more, sat a little closer for a while longer. Now it was… over. Right? Even Riley hadn’t pretended this wasn’t it. The End.

Suddenly another pair of double doors—doors with no buzzing lock or intercom—swung open, and sunlight spilling through the front windows nearly blinded Hunter. He held up the hand holding his discharge packet, blocking the sun.

“Hunter?” He knew that voice, and after he was finally able to focus, he saw his brother standing next to the main nurses’ station. Hunter squared his shoulders, not knowing what to expect. But he needn’t have worried. His gruff, good-ole-boy brother was at him in three large strides, wrapping him in a hug. He couldn’t remember the last time they’d hugged. He deflated, falling into his big brother’s embrace. His gaze flitted to the door behind him, though. Never would there be a more bittersweet moment in his life.

When his brother pulled away, he left a meaty hand on Hunter’s shoulder, face not betraying any more emotion than absolutely necessary. “Let’s get you home.”

Home.
He couldn’t help thinking, though, that he was leaving home in a little hell in a big hospital.

 

 

“C
ONNORS
,
IT

S
time.” Riley looked up from his spot on the floor. He’d spent the last God only knew how long with his ass cemented to the frigid floor, legs pulled into his chest. He didn’t give a shit about breakfast. Even lunch came and went. No one screwed with him about group. Probably because of the shot they’d popped in his arm before dragging him back to his room. He never went down for the count or anything like that, but basic motor function took a little work.

“Need some help getting to your feet, kiddo?” The second voice came from Jerry. Apparently they sent Julio and Jerry together, just in case Riley wanted to put up a fight… again.

“No. I’m good,” Riley mumbled, palms pressed flat against the floor. His arms bore the weight of his body, shaking as he pushed up. Whatever they’d shot in his arm hadn’t worn off completely, or maybe he’d exhausted himself. Either way, his body was heavier than it ever had been.

He dragged ass as they escorted him up to Dr. Landers’s office. It was all mechanics and routine, muscle memory from doing the same fucking thing over and over and over again without reprieve. Shit, didn’t he deserve some sort of vacation from this shit? Could they leave his mind alone for a few days, maybe a few weeks? Talking now would be….

Like suicide.

The thought made the back of his throat burn. He immediately grabbed his right wrist, fingers irritating the raised line of scarred skin. It tingled, like it used to do right after he’d woken up in the hospital in bandages. His chest tightened, gut tugging.

Why?

“Mr. Connors, come in.”

Riley jerked his head. He’d missed the buzz of the intercom and the click of the lock, even missed the shrill creak of hinges in need of maintenance.

He walked in, following the command of the good doctor’s voice, and he sank down into his normal chair. Riley never let go of his wrist.

“Care to tell me about the incident in the common room?”

Silence.

“Riley, you’ve been doing so good. Tell me what happened.”

“Like you don’t know,” he mumbled.

Dr. Landers sat down across from him, sans the pad and pen he always had in his lap during these one-on-ones. He pressed his elbows to his knees, arms steepled. Those cold, scrutinizing eyes pinned on Riley. “I have my suspicions, but
you
need to tell me what happened.”

Because the only important person in my life just walked out of here.

Silence.

“We can play this game for the next hour, Mr. Connors.” The doctor sat back in his chair, this time crossing his legs, ankle to knee. He put his arms on the rests, opening himself wide, exposing himself like that would make Riley comfortable enough to spill.

Silence.

Dr. Landers stared.

“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Riley muttered, keeping his head down and his back straight as a board. “I’m alone here. A lifer. Right?”

“Your episode in the common room had nothing to do with that.” Dr. Landers tilted his head. “Tell me about Mr. Morgan.”

Riley’s head jerked straight up. Eyes wide.

“Wasn’t he leaving when you had your episode?”

“Stop calling it that!” Riley barked, pushing up from his seat. He stood, finger pointed at the reason for his rage. He opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again. He was out of steam now, and the doctor was looking up at him like he’d made the biggest mistake of his life. He sank back down in his chair. “I don’t know what to say,” Riley admitted.

“What happened?”

“I realized I couldn’t live without him.”

This time, the silence was shared. The stares were mutual. Evaluating each other. Riley had just copped to something he probably shouldn’t have by admitting how deep his feelings for Hunter really were, and not being able to live without him didn’t seem to sum it up at all. There was so much more to it.

“When did that happen?”

“Honestly?” Riley asked. The doctor nodded. “I held him when he was shivering… and he needed me.”

“It felt good to be needed, didn’t it?”

“Yeah, it did. Nobody’s ever needed me before.”

“You’re wrong,” the doctor said. He leaned forward again and really drove it on home when he said, “
You
need you.”

BOOK: We Found Love
12.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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