The door closed behind the last customer, and the noisy bar finally returned to silence, a booze-fumed, tacky-underfoot silence where the small noises Alex made seemed twice as loud. His ears rang as he picked up the broom to sweep out the crap on the floor behind the bar. It’d been busy, and he was on alone.
The front door opened again, and his shoulders tensed. He cursed himself for not locking it when he’d shoved out the last drunk patron, distracted by the e-mail he’d just received. A stupid mistake. He groped under the bar for the bat the owner had urged him to use if he felt the need.
“Excuse me,” the man said in the doorway said. He’d been in the bar earlier that night, an Asian man along with a rather bland, nondescript white guy.
Alex looked closer, not moving away from the bat. “We’re closed. Need me to call a cab for you?”
The man appeared innocuous, but innocuous-looking people could still be trouble. The instincts that Alex had honed all those months on the run had stayed with him. Director Flint’s warnings about retaliation flashed through his brain.
The guy opened his mouth to answer Alex’s question, but someone shoved him from behind before he could speak, and he stumbled. Alex grabbed the neck of the bat.
“Didja ask him? Is it him?” The pushy friend pressed himself forward a few steps. He was far drunker than his buddy, who apparently wasn’t in trouble—he was with
“We’re. Closed.” Alex threw some menace behind the authority in his voice and revealed the bat. The Asian man flinched and grabbed at his friend, who was fishing in his pocket for something.
“It’s him. You. Boy Blue,” the drunk man burbled.
Alex froze, shifting gears. He tightened his grip on the bat. Anger fueled his ass up and over the bar to land a few feet in front of the drunk, who pulled out a phone, aimed it in his direction, and blinded him with the flash.
“You fucker!” Alex reached out to slap the phone away—too late, because the man had thrust it back into his pocket. Alex smacked the bat against the tiles on the floor. It made a sharp, solid noise, and they both looked at him with drunken, slow-motion surprise. “Get the fuck out before I call the cops!”
“Asshole!” The first guy grabbed his friend again, shoved him out the door, and slammed it shut behind him.
Alex locked it this time and leaned against it, heart racing. When it finally began to slow, he took a deep breath and another, and his temper faded. He had a date tonight, and if he didn’t move his ass, he’d be late. Cranking up Dropkick Murphys to exorcise the intruders, Alex cleaned the place out in record time. When he was done, he opened the e-mail still waiting in his inbox, saw there was a video attachment, and clicked it open.
The handmade sign filled the screen. Alex smiled.
Bare feet on their unmade bed. Hunter wiggled his toes, and Alex laughed. The webcam traveled along Hunter’s shins to his knees, all dusted with brown and copper-tinged hair, and he bent his left knee, the sheet falling from his muscular thigh. Hey, was that pointed birthday hat covering his—shit, it was. Hunter stretched like a big cat, and the tip of the hat rocked as he adjusted his hips. Alex swallowed hard, mesmerized as the webcam swept across Hunter’s hips and flat belly, up the opposite side of his body, past an erect pink nipple, the tattoo, and the hairy armpit, along his biceps, which he flexed, then forearm to wrist and the silver bracelet around it. Alex’s heart gave a little lurch, beating faster. His boyfriend had handcuffed himself naked to the bed for his birthday.
The webcam swept down again, across Hunter’s body to reveal the other erect nipple, and down to his naked ass. As the man shifted his hips again, Alex’s cock shoved up against the front of his jeans, and he had to stand and make room for the monster in his pants.
Hunter wasn’t done. The view took in his hip and the swell of his ass and swept down to reveal a trail of multicolored ribbons behind him. The camera dipped, and the ribbons appeared to disappear into his butt.
Alex groaned, grabbed his wallet and keys from the cash register, and ran for the door.
The June night was warm and the sky clear and sparkling over Delingham as he jogged out to the car and jumped in. Thursday night was his Friday—as the newest hire, he had to put his time in before he’d get the plum weekend shifts. His thoughts were on getting home without wrecking the car while Hunter’s video replayed in his head. It was late, nobody out, so that was okay. His blood boiled for Hunter.
He drove through the quiet streets. Alex hadn’t wanted to come back to Delingham at all, but Hunter’s family had made sure the rent was paid on his apartment. At least they had a safe place to go to when Hunter recovered from Dale Markham’s accidental gunshot wound. Dale Markham, former FBI agent, currently rotted in jail—someplace hot, Alex hoped, good practice for when he got to hell. Nick Truman too, but no one was willing to tell Alex what his status was. Maybe they had put him in Witness Protection like Nick had hoped. The case against the two men who had murdered Alex’s uncle had become a nonissue, since before they could be taken into custody, someone had killed them.
Nothing like thinking about those things to defeat the raging hard-on, so he blasted out Dropkick Murphys again to fuel up the testosterone.
“Here I come, baby,” he murmured.
What do you want for your birthday?
To bang you stupid.
He guessed he was getting his wish.
Not finding a parking spot near the apartment building set him seething and grinding his teeth. His lot in life had improved, but not his temper. He dropped the keys twice on the front stairs and finally made it through the door before he considered alerting Hunter that he was in the lobby. Alex texted quickly—coming up now
—and smiled to think again of Hunter there, waiting, naked, and handcuffed to the bed. They’d talked about playing like that but hadn’t got around to it yet. In the video, Hunter had kept the wounded leg covered; he hated the scar, the asymmetry where they’d taken some of the muscle during surgery. He was doing better, finally, after a pretty deep funk before his physical therapist got him motivated and on the road to getting back in shape.
Yeah, we’re doing good
Alex kicked away his shoes and whipped off his socks. “It’s me!” In the bedroom, both the music and the lights were low. Alex opened the door, grinning from ear to ear. The naked man on the bed grinned back, the party hat on his head tipped at a rakish angle. A second set of cuffs dangled off the tips of his fingers. Alex pulled his shirt up and over his head, wrecking his hair, but he didn’t care. Hunter’s eyes were on him; that’s what Alex wanted, Hunter drinking him in as much as Alex drank in Hunter. Alex had set himself up with a rigorous workout schedule to prep for the physical part of the special agent application process. He didn’t know for sure if he’d get accepted, but the real payoff was in Hunter’s eyes.
Alex worked the zipper of his jeans. “Do you have to take a piss? Have you been waiting long?” He stripped off his jeans and underwear.
“I’m fine. Come and have your birthday cake.”