Rebound – Bonus Chapter
© Chris Scully 2013
Rebound originally published by Dreamspinner Press, 2013. Available through all major ebook retailers.
This story contains strong language and explicit m/m sex. Reader discretion is advised.
License Note: Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author. You are welcome to share it with your friends, or even better, please encourage your friends to download their own copy. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes only, and the book must remain in its complete original form.
He was going to have sex.
With mounting panic, Emmett Byrd stared out his mist covered windshield at the quaint pale yellow farmhouse replete with requisite wide front porch. It was perfect, if a little barren in the bleak February morning, like Norman Rockwell mixed with American Gothic. Behind the house sat a large outbuilding, and in front of that, a big, black pickup truck. The property was surrounded by tall evergreen trees, dusted now with snow. Another few inches had fallen last night, but the driveway had been cleared and a path shoveled to the front steps. Emmett groaned and let his forehead thump against the steering wheel. At some point this weekend he was going to have sex with a man who wasn’t Andy. Sky hadn’t invited him all this way to enjoy the wide-open spaces and picture-postcard scenery. It had been more than a decade since he’d slept with anyone other than his ex, and nearly a year since he’d slept with anyone, period. That was a long time to be out of commission. He felt a bit like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, old and rusted from disuse, waiting to be thrown on the junk heap.
Andy had complained their sex life was boring—of course, he said that when it was too late to do anything about it, when they had already ventured past the point of no return—but Emmett had taken a deep-seated, quiet comfort in being able to predict Andy’s likes and dislikes, in the fact that he knew Emmett’s favorite positions, and that he could count on a good pounding Saturday nights. Now he had to learn someone new, and the mix of anticipation, excitement and fear left him paralyzed.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to. On the contrary, Emmett was more attracted to Sky than he’d been to anyone in a long time—that X-rated phone call the other night had proved that. And therein lay the problem. It was happening too fast. What did he really know about Sky Whittaker? Since Sky had returned to Iowa on Christmas Day, they had exchanged almost daily emails and talked on the phone at least three times a week, some nights for hours at a time. Emmett had begun to crave the sound of Sky’s voice—he never texted—and on those nights when they didn’t talk, Emmett paced his lonely apartment to avoid calling Sky’s number and appearing too needy. Over the past few weeks, he had learned that Sky’s favorite food was fried chicken, that he cried during animal movies, and that he made soft whimpering noises when he came.
What else do you need to know, he asked himself? You already know more about him than you did with Andy before you hooked up. Andy. Why did it always have to come back to that lying, cheating, STD-carrying bastard?
Two gigantic paws slammed against the driver’s side window, followed by a furry muzzle full of sharp teeth. Flecks of doggy spittle flew against the glass as the beast gave a man-hungry bark. “Jesus!” Emmett practically dove into the passenger seat. He would have made it too, if the seat belt around his chest hadn’t pulled him back and nearly given him whiplash.
He was still struggling to free himself from the damned harness when the snarling canine head was pushed out of the way and replaced with Sky’s beaming face, crouched down to look in the window. The smile lit up something inside Emmett and he found himself returning it. Sky cocked his tousled head. “So, are you going to spend all weekend in there?” His breath formed puffs of smoke in the crisp morning air.
“With Cujo on the loose, maybe,” Emmett replied, only partially joking. He heard the dog’s answering growl even from inside the car.
“Molly, heel.” Sky ordered in a quiet, but firm voice. Emmett watched from behind protective glass as the large dog sat obediently, transforming instantly into a tongue lolling, adoring fur ball. “Better?” Sky asked.
“I thought you might drive away, so I came out to get you.”
Emmett laughed, and with a burst of courage unlocked the door. “Good call.”
Sky held the door open as Emmett extricated himself from the compact car and stretched his back, stiff from the three hour drive. “I’m so glad to see you,” Sky said, flashing him a tentative smile. That quick display of dimples was all the warning he got before Sky surged forward and wrapped his arms around Emmett. Emmett relaxed into the embrace. He may have been uncertain about a lot of things, but the one thing Emmett did know for sure, was that Sky was the best hugger he’d ever met.
“I think your dog hates me,” Emmett mumbled into Sky’s warm, flannel-covered shoulder, eying the monster warily. He could have sworn Molly curled her lip at him. He burrowed closer for protection, just in case. God, the man smelled good, like fresh baked bread and wood smoke.
Sky’s chuckle rumbled against Emmett’s chest. He made no move to break the hug. “She’s just not use to having other people around. How was the drive?”
Eventually Emmett became aware of the slush seeping into his impractical leather boots and drew back. “Slow on I-88, but clear sailing after that.”
“Good,” Sky murmured, still keeping one arm draped over Emmett’s shoulders. “Did you bring an overnight bag?”
Overnight. All Emmett’s earlier misgivings returned in full force. “Uh, yeah. In the back.”
Sky opened the rear door, reached into the back seat and pulled out Emmett’s overstuffed duffel. He’d literally agonized for hours about the condoms, at the last minute panicking and throwing in pretty much everything in his medicine cabinet. Sky, gracious man that he was, said nothing at the weight, simply hefted it over one shoulder and looped his free arm around Emmett’s waist. “It’s cold out here. Let’s get inside and warm up.”
With Sky’s hand against the small of his back, and Molly trotting at their heels, Emmett was guided up the front steps to the house. Sky held the door open for him and ushered Emmett into a small, oak-paneled entry way. His glasses immediately fogged up with the change in temperature. The unmistakable yeasty scent of fresh bread greeted Emmett and reminded him that he hadn’t eaten since very early that morning. It had still been dark out when he’d left Chicago, stopping for a bagel and coffee on the road.
“Are you baking?” he asked.
“I made muffins. And I’ve got some bread proofing for later to go with the stew in the slow cooker.” Sky dropped Emmett’s duffel bag by the stairs. He turned with a brilliant smile. “I was just making some tea. Want some?”
Emmett had forgotten the impact of that smile. The way it made him all warm inside and melted all his doubts and fears and cynicism. In that moment Sky could have asked “Want to go upstairs and fuck?” and Emmett wouldn’t have hesitated. Instead he heard himself say “Uh, sure.”
He followed Sky into the kitchen, giving Molly a wide berth. Emmett whistled in appreciation at the compact but functional space. It had obviously been recently renovated, with stainless steel professional grade appliances, but the shaker style cabinets and butcher-block counters made it warm and cozy, like a true farmhouse kitchen. A large window over the deep sink let in the struggling mid-winter sun. On a sunny day the room would be filled with light. “I love your kitchen,” Emmett gushed.
“Thanks.” Sky’s voice was full of pride.
“You did this?”
“Pa and I. It was the last project we did before he passed on.”
“Well, it’s beautiful.” Emmett ran his hand admiringly over the porcelain sink. He’d always wanted a farmhouse sink. “It feels like it belongs with the house, you know. It’s so welcoming.”
“I think a house says a lot about the people who live in it. Even if they don’t sometimes realize it.” Emmett thought about his barren, one-bedroom apartment in Chicago—bare walls, couch, bed, TV—and realized Sky was right. Sky’s house, on the other hand, was warm and alive, and Emmett found himself wanting to curl up and never leave. He leaned back against the counter and watched Sky’s big hands as he filled the kettle and set it on the stove top. “So, I couldn’t help but notice the big pickup in your driveway.”
“Well, it’s no monster truck, but it gets the job done.” Sky’s lips curved into that ready grin Emmett had missed so much. In the confines of the small kitchen, two steps brought him to stand directly in front of Emmett. Sky pinned him against the counter top, his blue-black eyes filled with longing. “I’m really glad you’re here Emmett.”
“Me too,” Emmett breathed, unable to move away, not wanting to move away, as Sky leaned in and kissed him gently. Emmett closed his eyes and parted his lips. He groaned in protest when instead of pressing deeper, Sky raised his head.
“Just seeing if it’s still there,” Sky said, his eyes crinkling at the corners when he smiled. Emmett’s stomach lurched. Oh God, it hadn’t even occurred to Emmett that Sky might change his mind. “Don’t worry, it’s still there,” the younger man assured him with a twinkle. There had to a rule somewhere about not jumping your host as soon as you got in the door. Emmett was dangerously close to breaking it.
“Let me show you around while we wait,” Sky offered. Emmett trailed after him, his lips still tingling from that all too brief contact, as Sky led him through the kitchen into the dining room with its oak wainscoting and then back into the cozy front parlor. The fireplace lay dormant now, but Emmett could easily imagine huddling in front of its rosy glow with a glass of wine, listening to the wood crackle and staring into the flames.
All the rooms on the main floor flowed into each other, essentially forming a circle. The smell of beeswax made Emmett think that Sky might have done some last minute cleaning just for him. The wooden floors gleamed with character and charm, and creaked beneath their feet as they walked. Emmett could feel the love that had resided in this house. It blanketed him, and warmed him up like a down comforter on a cold night.
“Come on,” Sky said, taking Emmett’s hand. “I’ll show you where you’ll sleep.” He scooped up Emmett’s duffel from the foyer and tugged Emmett up the stairs. As they ascended, Emmett passed numerous framed family photographs. He came to a halt on the landing, in front of a portrait of a towheaded boy riding a tractor, his gap-toothed grin unmistakable.
“Is this you?” Emmett asked, knowing that it was.
“Yeah. I think I was ten in that one.” Sky pointed to another photograph right beside it; a grey-haired man and a woman seated on the front steps of this very house. The man had his arm around her shoulders, and the woman leaned into him. “This is Ma and Pa.” At the wistful note in his voice, Emmett gave Sky’s hand a gentle squeeze; Sky had comforted him so much in San Diego that he wanted to be able to return the favor.
At the top of the stairs, Sky stopped and held open the first door on the right for Emmett to enter. Emmett did so cautiously, suddenly nervous, but he should have known Sky wouldn’t pressure him into anything he wasn’t ready for. The bedroom was charming, with one slanted wall and a narrow brass bed, and quite obviously a guest room. The thoughtful gesture made Emmett want him all the more. “Is this okay?” Sky asked hesitantly.
“Yeah, it’s fine.”
“This used to be my room when I was a kid. Now I’ve got the big bedroom at the end of the hall.”
Sky hadn’t budged from the doorway, so Emmett gave him his best flirty look and perched on the edge of the bed, bouncing a little to test the mattress. The antique springs groaned and squeaked with the motion, and Emmett had the satisfaction of seeing Sky blush. The sweet sight drew Emmett to his side, where he crowded Sky against the doorjamb. “You’re going to hear me all night if I toss and turn.”
“My bed’s not so noisy,” Sky replied with a tilt to his head. “Bigger too. Just saying.” Emmett chuckled, leaning into Sky’s lean body, only to have him slip away. “The bathroom’s right next door.”
Emmett took a peak. Like the kitchen, the bathroom had been updated but still retained its vintage feel, including a cast iron claw foot tub that looked big enough for two. “Nice tub. Bet it’s comfy.” His mind began churning out all sorts of scenarios involving the two of them, wet and naked.
“I thought later, if it warms up, we could take a walk down by the pond,” Sky said. “I’ll lend you some better boots.” There was a tiny tremble in his voice that made Emmett look twice. Sky was nervous. Somehow, knowing that calmed Emmett’s own anxiety. Emmett cupped Sky’s smooth cheeks in his hands and tilted the taller man’s head down so that their foreheads touched. It was all going to be okay.
The high-pitched whistle of the kettle on the stove interrupted the moment. Molly began barking. With a rueful chuckle, Sky took Emmett’s hand once again and they went back downstairs. While Sky made the tea, Emmett perused the bookshelves in the parlor. The selection was quite eclectic; everything from historical non-fiction to Sci-Fi and romance. He wondered if Sky actually read all these or if they were left over from his parents.
“Have you talked to Terry lately?” Sky hollered from the kitchen.
Emmett grimaced. “Last week. He and Rick broke up again. That was only two months this time.”
“I feel kind of sorry for him.”
“Well, don’t. Terry loves being a man-whore.”
“Seems a bit lonely to me,” Sky replied. “I keep meaning to thank him.”
“For bringing us together. If it weren’t for Terry we might never have met.”
Emmett didn’t like thinking about that. “Christ, don’t do that. If Terry thinks he’s responsible for us being together he’ll be even more insufferable.”
“Are we together?” Sky’s voice was closer this time. Emmett spun around to find the younger man standing there with a steaming mug in each hand.
The question made Emmett panic. “I-I…”
“It’s okay, Emmett, you don’t have to answer that right now.” Sky’s smile didn’t quite reach his eyes this time. Emmett’s stomach lurched at the thought of hurting this man whose every thought, every emotion was written on his face for anyone to see.
He reached out and touched Sky’s wrist as Sky handed him the hot mug. “Can we just say that we’re building toward something?”
“Okay. I’m good at building stuff.” Sky gestured for Emmett to sit on the sofa, and then joined him, turning his body at the last minute so that he faced Emmett with one leg crooked at the knee and tucked underneath him. His left arm draped over the back of the sofa, fingers softly brushing Emmett’s shoulder. “So, I always wondered, were you and Terry ever…?”
Emmett blew on his tea to cool it before taking a cautious sip. He tried to reason out what Sky was driving at. When he did, he nearly choked on his tea. “Lovers? God, no.”
“Okay, for like two seconds one drunken night in college we made out. I was young and stupid and straight out of the closet. I thought that’s what gay men did—just went around doing each other.”
Emmett grinned at the memory. “He puked in my bed.”
“I guess that will do it.” Sky laughed. “And you were never tempted to pick up where you left off?”
Emmett shook his head. “Terry’s not my type.”
“Well, he’s allergic to commitment for one thing. And he’s a bit of a queen.” Emmett caught himself, wrist flapping about in mid-air, and chuckled. “I know, pot and kettle, right?” He looked down at his mug and then back up at Sky through his lashes. “I like my men a little more straight acting.” A slight frown wrinkled Sky’s brow. “Not closet cases, you understand. Just… more masculine. One diva’s enough in any relationship.”
“Oh.” Sky stroked the back of Emmett’s neck, massaging gently, and he leaned into the touch. “You’re awfully tense, Emmett.”
Emmett chuckled self-consciously. “Kind of a bit nervous, here,” he admitted.
“Why? You weren’t nervous the other night.”
Oh Christ, the other night. He’d got carried away in the moment, said things he’d never say in a million years, but it was so much easier over the phone. I want to feel your mouth on my dick. I want to lick your ass, would you like that? Sky’s erratic breathing and grunts had spurred him on, firing him up until he had to let go of the phone and rest it on the pillow next to his head so that he could work a finger up his own empty ass to satisfy the ache. He’d come so hard he’d almost blacked out. Emmett felt his face heat. He had never considered himself a blusher, but Sky seemed to bring it out in him. “That was different,” he said. “You weren’t sitting right beside me then.”
“I could go upstairs and call you,” Sky offered. “And then we could have phone sex again.” He grinned. “That was fun. No one’s ever done that with me before. I was tempted to buy a better phone so you could send me pictures next time.” Next time, Emmett thought with a silent whimper. “But I’d much rather be able to touch you.” Sky settled his big hand on Emmett’s thigh, right above the knee and gave the muscle a gentle squeeze.
“Yeah?” Emmett breathed, leaning in a little bit closer.
Sky continued his massage, stroking higher until he reached the crease where thigh met hip, and rubbed his thumb over the growing bulge in Emmett’s pants. Emmett’s eyes slid half-closed, his head tilted back, angling for a kiss. “See? Isn’t that better?” Sky asked, his voice low and husky, lips mere inches away from Emmett’s.
Emmett shivered. “I don’t know. The other night was pretty spectacular.” His mug tilted and the tea threatened to spill; Sky took both their cups and set them on the coffee table. His hands free, Emmett rubbed Sky’s chest, learning the feel of him, kneading the firm muscle.
“But I can’t kiss you on the phone.”
“Then kiss me now,” Emmett said, finally closing the distance and bringing their mouths together. The kiss flared hot and wet immediately, no tentative exploring. They’d done enough flirting on the phone. This was all need, and want, and damn but Emmett wanted. Tongues tangling, he fumbled with the buttons on Sky’s shirt. As soon as he had two or three opened, his hand slipped impatiently inside. Emmett gasped at the heat of Sky’s skin when he pressed his palm against the other man’s flat stomach. Emmett swallowed Sky’s hoarse moan. His fingers combed through the little thatch of hair around Sky’s navel. For two months he’d fantasized about that patch. He slid his hand further up Sky’s smooth chest to touch one distended nipple. Never breaking their kiss, Sky hooked his fingers into the front of Emmett’s waistband and pulled, sending Emmett sprawling onto his chest as he leaned back. This time it was Emmett’s turn to moan as Sky’s erection nudged his own. He rocked his hips to ease the ache, but it only made it worse.
A loud, old-fashioned telephone ring broke Emmett’s haze of pleasure. “Should you get that?” he gasped.
“Answering machine,” Sky mumbled against Emmett’s neck. Emmett tilted his head to give Sky better access. Oh fuck yeah, that was good. He’d forgotten that spot just below his ear was so sensitive.
Somewhere in the recesses of the house, Emmett half-heard—he really wasn’t paying attention any longer—the answering machine pick up, Sky’s deep voice telling callers to leave a message, and then a long beep. “Sky? Are you there?” Lying nearly on top of Sky as he was, Emmett felt the way Sky’s body stiffened at the sound of the woman’s voice. “Look I know it’s your weekend with Emmett and I’m sorry to bother you,” she continued with a deep sigh. “But Walter Martindale just drove his Buick through the front window of the shop. I called my window guy but he can’t make it until tomorrow—”
Sky bolted off the couch so quickly that Emmett fell face first into the cushions. When he raised his head and straightened his glasses, he heard Sky in the other room answering the phone. “Lindsay, hey. Is everyone okay?”
Emmett perked up at the name. Lindsay. Sky’s ex. The woman who had dumped him for someone else. Why the hell couldn’t he fix her window? Emmett rearranged his throbbing dick in the tight confines of his jeans and sat up. “Yeah, okay, I can come,” Sky was saying. “I’ll be right there.”
When Sky returned to the parlor, his demeanor had changed. He ran a hand through his ruffled hair. “Um, sorry about that. I need to go into town and board up Lindsay’s window. It won’t take long, I promise.” At least he didn’t look too happy about it.
Emmett wanted to make a fuss. He really did. He wanted to stamp his feet like a petulant child and cry, “I drove three fucking hours to spend time with you.” But he didn’t. He kept it all inside and tried to act like an adult. “No problem,” he said tightly. “I can wait here.” He cast a doubtful glance at Molly and jumped to his feet. “Or maybe I should just go. We can do this another time.”
“No! I don’t want you to leave.” Sky’s face suddenly brightened. “Why don’t you come with me?”
“I’m not exactly handy,” Emmett pointed out.
“You can stand there and hold my tape measure.”
“I bet you say that to all the guys,” Emmett muttered.
“Why would I do that?” At Sky’s blank look, Emmett shook his head incredulously. “What?” Sky demanded, looking affronted.
“Nothing.” Emmett sighed. “Can’t Lindsay help you out? I’m sure she’d love to get her hands on your tape measure.”
“Are you kidding? I don’t let that woman near my tools anymore. She doesn’t know the first thing about handling them.” Sky rested his hands on Emmett’s hips and tugged him close. “Please? Come with me. I know Lindsay would love to meet you.”
But was he ready to meet Lindsay? Emmett knew he had no right to be jealous; he and Sky weren’t even lovers yet. Sky was impossible to resist at the best of times; with that curl to his lips and his eyes beseeching Emmett was helpless to do anything but cave. “I wasn’t really talking about your tape measure, you know.” Emmett still pouted, but his anger had dissipated.
“I know,” Sky said, his eyes sparking with laughter. He dropped a quick kiss on Emmett’s parted lips. “Now are you coming with me, or shall I leave you here with Molly?”
Emmett looked down at the beast, which chose that moment to lick her chops, and knew he had no other options unless he wanted to be dinner. “All right.”
The radiant expression on Sky’s face was worth the sacrifice. “Great,” he said, tossing Emmett his coat. “Just let me go load up the truck.”
It was a short ride into town. Seated in the roomy cab of Sky’s pickup, Emmett felt as though he was looking down on everyone they passed. “So… you told Lindsay about me?” he asked.
“I…uh…yeah.” A faint blush stained Sky’s smooth cheeks. His lips quirked sheepishly. “Sorry. I just really needed to talk to someone.”
Emmett nodded and looked back out the window. He would have liked to ask what Sky had needed to talk about, but thought better of it. How many times had he wished for someone of his own to talk him through the tough times? It was good that Sky had a friend he could rely on; Emmett only wished said friend hadn’t seen him naked.
When Sky turned on to Main Street and pulled up in front of the aptly, if unimaginatively, named Main Street Café, they both gasped at the sight. What had once been a large plate glass window was now shattered and lay glittering on the sidewalk. Dangerous shards of glass still clung to the corners like sharp teeth. It looked as though a bomb had gone off. Emmett was so riveted by the sight that he almost missed the tall, attractive woman with the simple pony tail lean her broom against the storefront and greet Sky with a hug. This had to be Lindsay. Emmett felt a spurt of irrational jealousy. She looked like the proverbial girl next door. Perfect for Sky. He tried to jump down from the raised cab with the same grace that Sky exhibited, but failed miserably, missing the running board entirely. He would have fallen flat on his face if Sky hadn’t caught his elbow. His face was burning with embarrassment when the woman turned to Emmett with a friendly smile and stuck out her hand. Her grasp was firm and warm. “You must be Emmett. I’m Lindsay. I’m really sorry to ruin your weekend, but I didn’t know who else to call. As you can see I’m in a bit of a pickle.”
“Is Mr. Martindale okay?” Sky asked.
“The EMTs seemed to think he might have had a small stroke. At least they’ll take away his driver’s license for good now. That man is a danger on the road.” They both laughed and Emmett felt left out. He could sense a big sulk coming on.
Sky put an arm around his shoulder. “Hey, why don’t you go on inside while I board this up? Lindsay’s got a great pecan pie.”
“And a fresh pot of coffee,” Lindsay added.
Yeah, just what Emmett wanted to do—spend the afternoon with his new boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. “I thought you needed help with your tape measure.”
Sky was already opening up the tailgate of his pickup. “Nah, I’m used to handling this on my own. It’s quicker.”
“But not nearly as much fun,” Emmett grumbled. With no other choice—at least none that wouldn’t make him look like an asshole—he turned to follow Lindsay into the café. Obviously he wasn’t needed after all.
“Hey, Emmett,” Sky called after him. Emmett spun around. “Later you can play with my tape measure all you want.” Sky grinned and gave him a wink that pulled Emmett out of his funk.
Inside, the café looked like something straight out of the seventies, complete with a Formica-topped lunch counter and padded swivel stools, and pine-paneled walls. It was chilly inside—there being a gaping hole in the window and all—so Emmett kept his coat on. Lindsay did the same.
“Take your pick of seats,” Lindsay invited with a wave of her arm. Emmett was the only customer in the place. He chose to sit at the counter because he could watch Sky work in the mirror behind the grill. “Coffee?”
“Sure,” Emmett replied. Lindsay poured him a cup from the coffee pot and then cut him a generous slice of pecan pie. All the while, Emmett felt her studying him closely.
“Sorry, am I making you uncomfortable? I just can’t believe you’re really here.” That makes two of us, Emmett thought. The pie was very good, and he disliked her all the more for it. She rested her elbows on the counter while Emmett ate. “Honestly, when Sky came back at Christmas and kept talking about the man he’d met in San Diego, for the longest time I didn’t believe you weren’t real.” They both knew what she was saying—she didn’t believe her Sky had fallen for a man.
A slight, Japanese woman with dark hair cut short in a pixie style and a fluffy scarf wrapped around her neck, emerged from a back room. “Oh good, Sky’s here,” she said, wrapping an arm around Lindsay’s waist and kissing her full on the lips.
Emmett choked as a piece of pie lodged in his windpipe. “Are you okay?” Lindsay asked. “Do you need the Heimlich?”
Emmett shook his head. He took a swallow of hot coffee to soothe his throat. “Went down the wrong way.”
“Hi, I’m Jade,” the other woman said with a cautious smile.
“Emmett,” he croaked.
“Sky’s talked about you so much I feel like I already know you.”
“Wish I could say the same.”
The two women shared a glance. “Hey, babe, will you grab some paper towel from the storage room?” Lindsay asked. “We’re almost out up here.” A tense silence fell as soon as Jade left the room. “He didn’t tell you, did he?”
“No,” he replied tightly, trying not to let his feelings show.
“I’m sure he was waiting for the right time.”
“Probably,” Emmett agreed, forcing a smile. He didn’t want to give Sky’s ex the satisfaction of knowing how much he hurt. He felt like such a fool. It was torture, sheer torture, to sit there and make stilted conversation while inside he wanted to run back to Chicago and hide. As he waited for Sky to finish up, his anger simmered like the pot of coffee on the Bunn burner.
Finally Sky appeared done. All three of them sighed in relief when he came inside. He placed his cold hands on the back of Emmett’s neck. Emmett flinched and ducked his head away from the touch.
“So was I right about the pie?” Sky asked. He didn’t seem to feel the tension in the place.
“Yep,” Emmett replied, even though the pie sat like a lead ball in his stomach. He hopped off his stool. He couldn’t wait to get out of here.
“Thanks, Sky,” Lindsay said. “You’re a lifesaver.”
“No problem. Thanks for keeping Emmett entertained.”
“Oh, they kept me entertained all right,” Emmett muttered, feeling like an unwanted pet at that point. He politely thanked Lindsay and Jade for their hospitality, even though he would have liked nothing better than to march out of there without a backward glance.
Emmett kept quiet on the drive back to Sky’s place, too angry to speak. Sky kept glancing at him anxiously.
“What’s wrong?” Sky finally asked.
“What’s wrong?” Emmett snapped. “You’re asking me what’s wrong?”
Emmett shook his head in disbelief. He folded his arms across his chest and huffed. “Just drive, okay. If I leave within the hour I can be home before dark.”
Sky slammed on the brakes. “Why are you leaving?”
“What are you doing? You’re blocking the road.” Emmett anxiously swiveled around to see if anyone was behind them.
“Why do you want to leave? Did something happen?”
“Oh my God, will you move? You can’t stop in the middle of traffic.” He was exaggerating a little; there was no traffic to speak of.
“Not until you tell me why you’re angry. Did Lindsay say something to you?”
“She didn’t have to,” Emmett spit. “She’s a lesbian, Sky.”
“Oh. Yeah.” Sky at least had the grace to look abashed when he said this. It only fuelled Emmett’s temper. You’d have thought something like that might have come up in conversation.
“Oh yeah? That’s it? You didn’t think it worth mentioning that your fiancée left you for another woman?” Emmett sulked. “You’ve had your pay back. Now I want to go home.”
“Well, isn’t that what this is?” Emmett huffed. “Some sort of twisted revenge? Your girlfriend turns out to be a lesbian so you bring home a guy in return?”
Anger and hurt flashed across Sky’s expressive face. Emmett turned his head so he wouldn’t have to see it. He wasn’t the bad guy here. “Do you really think I’d do that?” Sky asked. “To either of you?”
“What else am I supposed to think?”
“That I’m attracted to you. That I want you. You.” Sky slumped back in his seat. He raked a hand through his hair, making it even more of a mess than it usually was. “It doesn’t matter who Lindsay left me for. It never did. I told you that I’ve been attracted to other men. I’ve always felt… different.”
Emmett felt his irritability begin to waver. Maybe he’d flown off the handle. Sky wasn’t Andy. He hadn’t deliberately set out to deceive him. He needed to learn to trust again. The apology stuck in his throat.
Sky sighed softly and began speaking. “The summer I was sixteen, me and Darryl Hines stocked shelves together. That was the first time I truly noticed a boy. Because I was home schooled, I didn’t hang out with the other kids too much. Maybe if I had I would have understood things a lot sooner. Anyway, Darryl and I would sneak away to the pond after work and go swimming. Usually buck naked. One afternoon he started to jack himself. It got me excited. Pretty soon we were out there each day, jerking each other off. It was amazing.” Emmett wanted to hate the unknown Darryl for putting that touch of awe in Sky’s voice. “Who knows what would have happened, but that fall I went to the High School for the first time and Darryl just ignored me. I met Lindsay and we started dating, and it was good, uncomplicated… But I never stopped thinking about it. There was always a part of me that wondered what it would feel like to go further… ”
Emmett felt like a total jerk. Hell, his own coming out story wasn’t that different from Sky’s. Sky turned to him with sad eyes and the last of Emmett’s anger vanished. Until he remembered something he’d noticed earlier. “Wait a minute. Hines? As in “Hines Grocery”?” Emmett recalled passing the store on the way into town.
Sky nodded. “The same. Darryl runs the store now. Took over from his dad. He’s married with four kids.”
“Christ, is there anyone in town you haven’t slept with?” Emmett snapped. He immediately felt contrite. “Sorry, that came out wrong.”
“I hardly think you can call what Darryl and I did, sleeping together. And as for others, there’s only ever been Lindsay.”
Emmett’s jaw dropped. “Seriously? Only one?”
“What? I told you, we’ve been together since I was seventeen. Even if I had wanted to cheat, which I didn’t, this is a small town. Everyone knows everyone else’s business.”
“How the hell can you know you’re bi if you’ve only had sex with one person?”
Sky arched a golden eyebrow. “And I suppose you didn’t know you were gay until your first time?”
“No, it’s not,” Sky said pointedly.
There was a lump in Emmett’s throat that he couldn’t get rid of, no matter how many times he swallowed. He looked down at his hands, fingers clenched tight in his lap, afraid to ask the question that had been rattling around in his brain since seeing Jade kiss Lindsay. “So this thing…with us…Am I just an experiment?”
“No.” Sky’s response was emphatic. “God, no. I lo—”
A honk behind them interrupted whatever Sky had been about to say. Sky waved his hand out the window and started up the truck. The other driver waved back cheerfully. In Chicago, Emmett thought ruefully, the other guy would have laid on the horn and pulled around them, hollering epithets all the while. He certainly wasn’t in the city anymore.
The rest of the drive passed in silence, Emmett afraid to open his mouth again in case more spiteful words poured out. He was being a giant ass. And what’s more, he knew it. Back at the house, Sky parked the truck in the driveway next to Emmett’s car and turned off the ignition. But he didn’t immediately get out. “Please stay, Emmett,” he pleaded softly.
Emmett tipped his head back on the seat and regarded the beautiful man next to him. “Even though I’m a total a bitch?” he asked.
“Only sometimes,” Sky agreed.
Emmett widened his eyes in mock outrage and swatted Sky in the shoulder. “You’re not supposed to agree with me, dumbass.”
Sky could barely keep a straight face. “My ma said never to argue with my elders.”
“Elders!” Emmett choked. “Oh now you’ve done it.” He leapt at Sky, tickling wherever he could reach beneath the heavy coat, until Sky fell back against the driver’s side window, laughing.
Dinner was pleasant, the stew thick and rich after simmering all day in the crock pot, and the bread warm from the oven. There was something so homey about Sky’s kitchen; hell, the man himself. Emmett had to restrain himself from walking into those arms and never leaving. He shouldn’t feel like that; not so soon. After dinner, Sky built a fire in the parlor and Emmett curled up on the sofa, a little sleepy from his early start that morning. Sky paced a circle in the rug.
“This must seem pretty tame to you. There’s not much night life around here,” Sky said apologetically. “We could drive into Davenport and see a movie if you’d like. Or I think there’s a gay bar over in Iowa City.”
Emmett smiled. “This is fine, Sky, really. I’m more of a home body anyway. Sit down will you.”
He stopped. “Oh, I’ve got an idea.” Sky disappeared for a minute and then came back shuffling a deck of playing cards. “Do you know how to play Gin Rummy?”
“I think I may have played it once or twice. With my grandmother,” Emmett teased.
Sky sat down cross-legged on the floor on the other side of the coffee table, leaving Emmett alone on the sofa. He started to deal. “I doubt your grandmother ever played for these stakes.” His grin was salacious. Emmett felt a tingle building in the pit of his stomach. And further down. His tiredness vanished.
“Oh yeah? And what stakes would those be?”
“So instead of keeping a running total, the winner of each hand gets to make the loser remove a piece of clothing. Winner’s choice.”
“Strip Gin?” Emmett gulped. “Is this how you entertain all your house guests?” The question came out with more edge than Emmett intended.
“Just you?” Sky paused and looked directly into his eyes. “You have nothing to be jealous of, Emmett. Are you in?” Emmett hesitated, knowing where the game would inevitably lead. Was he ready? Sky smiled generously. “How about the loser has the right to substitute a kiss in lieu of clothing?”
“Okay, I’m in.”
Emmett won the first two hands, quickly divesting Sky of his plaid flannel and undershirt. But then the man was shirtless, his bare chest gleaming gold in the firelight, and the fine blond hairs on his forearms glowing like gossamer threads, and Emmett wasn’t so sure that he had the advantage. Or that he’d ever had it; he had a sneaky suspicion that Sky was better at this than he’d first appeared, because now Emmett couldn’t concentrate, could barely even hold a coherent thought for the blood rushing to his dick. The temptation to touch himself was all he could focus on, so it was no wonder that Sky trounced him soundly after that. Off came his sweater, t-shirt and jeans in rapid succession. As Emmett stood up to remove his pants, he hesitated with his fingers on the button, tempted to take a forfeit on this round and substitute a kiss from Sky—right now a kiss would be fantastic. But then he caught sight of Sky biting his lower lip, cheeks flushed, with desire, not heat, and those eyes like dark pools of need urging him to dive in, and Emmett bravely dropped trou.
His first frantic thought was that he was glad he’d splurged on new underwear, although right now the elastic was stretched to its limits by his erection; his second was that he hoped Sky liked his body. He was thirty-eight after all and hadn’t been able to afford a gym membership in months. Judging from the rapid rise and fall of Sky’s chest and the stand of his tiny nipples, Emmett didn’t have to worry. “I love the way you look, Emmett,” Sky said admiringly, in a voice so deep and husky that Emmett felt it in his balls.
Oh Christ, Emmett thought he might break down and bawl right then, and wouldn’t that just be the ultimate humiliation, but he swallowed past the lump in his throat. He cast a wary glance at the hearth where Molly was curled up, one eye open and watching. “I think your dog is judging me.”
Sky dimpled. “I think she’s wishing she could have you for herself.”
“Yeah, to eat maybe,” Emmett muttered and sat back down to deal the next hand. This hand took longer to play; when Emmett only needed three more cards for a Gin, Sky “knocked” and tapped the table. He laid out all his combinations; so did Emmett. Now it was down to the deadwood—if Emmett’s tally was lower, he would win. Emmett laid down his remaining Ace and grinned.
“Oh, well,” sighed Sky, not seeming too concerned. “It was a gamble.” He shimmied out of his jeans without standing and kicked them to the side. He sat there proudly, the outline of his stiff cock clearly visible. The head of it pushed against the wide, elastic waistband, trapped for now. Sky’s briefs were plain white cotton, and a translucent wet spot clung to the head of his dick. Emmett’s mouth watered. He knew his own underwear was equally damp, only the black and red stripes hid it better.
Sky did his best not to gloat when Emmett lost the next hand, his concentration entirely shot. “Pants off.”
Emmett shook his head, not because he was a coward, but because he needed the touch of Sky lips. Now. “Kiss this time.” He perched eagerly on the edge of the sofa and watched mesmerized, heart thumping crazily, as Sky crawled on all fours to his side of the coffee table and knelt between Emmett’s legs. Emmett lowered his head, eyes sliding closed when he felt Sky’s breath puff across his face, but at the last minute Sky ducked and placed a hot, open-mouthed kiss on Emmett’s nipple. He jerked in reaction. “Jesus,” he moaned, clutching Sky’s head closer so he could get more of that sweet suction as Sky nursed. With a final scrape of his teeth against the sensitive flesh that left Emmett’s right nipple throbbing, Sky sat back on his heels and grinned. “You didn’t say where I had to kiss you.”
“You play dirty,” Emmett accused.
“Isn’t dirty good?”
“It can be.”
Sky grinned, gave Emmett a quick kiss—on the lips this time—and just as slowly crawled back to his side of the table, wagging his ass from side to side as he went. Emmett was tempted to follow, forfeit the game and everything, but to be honest he was having fun. He wondered how long they could draw this out before one or the other caved—or came in their pants. Who would be first?
Fifteen minutes later, Emmett was sure it was going to be him, even though he had won the hand. Without even being asked, Sky stood up and slowly peeled down his briefs. For a second the elastic waistband caught on the jutting curve of his dick and Emmett held his breath, mouth open, waiting for it to pop free. When it did, heavy and erect, with a gentle curve to the left, Emmett sighed.
“I’m not circumcised.”
“Noticed that,” Emmett croaked. How he was still able to talk he didn’t know. He’d never actually seen an uncut cock up close outside of porn. All his partners, including Andy had been cut. He wondered if blowing it felt any different. Emmett closed his mouth before he started to drool.
Sky stroked his cock slowly, tugging back the foreskin to reveal the flushed glans. He looked down at it with a rueful smile. “I don’t think Lindsay liked it very much.”
Emmett laughed nervously. Watching Sky play with his swollen shaft was seriously turning him on. Correction, turning him on even more. “Somehow I don’t imagine Lindsay liked dick much, period.”
Sky laughed. “True. Your turn.”
“What?” Emmett blinked, unable to tear his gaze away from the gloriously naked male only two feet away.
“Your turn to deal.”
“I thought I won.”
“Nope. Still have my socks on. See?” Sky stood on one leg, raised his foot and wiggled his toes. Then he sat back down, wriggling his bare ass on the thick carpet. “Oh, that tickles.” Christ, Emmett thought as his cock gave a little jerk, it was a wonder he hadn’t come already.
Was he actually going to do this? Continue playing as if there wasn’t a beautiful, seriously aroused, naked man in front of him. And himself just as aroused? He haphazardly shuffled the cards, dropped a few and then shoved them back into the deck. His hands trembled as he dealt. At least Sky dispatched him quickly. “Gin,” Sky said softly, spreading his cards on the table. He waggled his eyebrows lecherously, which would have made Emmett laugh except that he was caught suspended between lust and fear. Sky saw it. “Hey,” he said softly. “Why don’t you come over here and kiss me.”
Emmett shook his head, rising unsteadily to his feet and stepping around the coffee table to stand in front of Sky. With a deep breath he shucked his underwear. His dick sprang free, harder than he’d been in years and just about eye-level with Sky. “So,” he said. “I guess this means you won, huh?”
“Hmmm, I’d say it was a draw.”
“Yeah? How’d you figure—uh…” Emmett grunted as Sky’s fingers closed around his cock and stroked. His head fell back on his shoulders and he enjoyed Sky’s touch for a few joyful minutes before he dropped to his knees, eager to return the favor. Sky didn’t loosen his grip, holding on as if afraid to lose his new favorite toy. His eyes burned darkly against his pale skin and Emmett melted inside.
Sky’s dick was long and thick, the velvet skin sliding slick as Emmett pumped, fascinated by the way Sky’s breath hitched every time Emmett drew the foreskin up over the ruddy head of his cock and gently pinched the edges together. His own dick suddenly felt inadequate without that extra bit of skin. “I think I’m jealous.”
Sky gave a strangled laugh. “Don’t worry, I’ll let you play with it whenever you want.”
“Promise?” Emmett straddled Sky’s hips, mashing their balls and cocks together, wrapping his hand around both of them and stroking hard and fast. Sky cupped the back of his head and fused their mouths together, open and wet, sharing his breath, his gasps.
“Emmett,” Sky whimpered, moments before Emmett felt the younger man’s thighs tense; then the warmth of his cum as it oozed over his fingers and pushed Emmett over the edge. He clutched their now slippery dicks and cried out his own release, collapsing against Sky’s chest.
“Oh my God, that was way better than making out with Darryl Hines,” Sky panted some minutes later, nipping little bite-kisses along the curve of Emmett’s shoulder.
Emmett laughed, feeling relaxed and relieved, and possibly, with a few minutes rest, ready to go again. “I should hope so. I’d like to think I have a bit more technique than a sixteen year old stock boy. Remember that next time you go to the grocery store.”
“Maybe I’ll just take you with me.” Sky kissed him gently.
“I’d like that,” Emmett said, and meant it.