Cost of Repairs
Click on image to enlarge.
by A.M. Arthur
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Fixing the home can heal the heart--if you can find all the pieces. Police officer Samuel Briggs is getting to know the people on his new, third-shift beat, but he'd prefer they not know too much about him--or the painful past that drove him away from New Mexico to start fresh in small-town Stratton, PA. All he wants is peace, a manageable routine, and time to fix up his project home. There's no room in his broken heart for a new relationship. It's crowded with too many memories. But there's something about the Dixie's Cup short-order cook, who's flirty one minute, distracted the next, that piques Sam's interest. Part-time cook, part-time hardware salesman and full-time handyman Rey King lives to work--but not because he loves it. Relationships? No time. Until one glance at Sam's haunted eyes sends a plumb line straight to his wary heart. One afternoon of impulsive, no-strings sex begins to grow into a cautious friendship. But when Rey is seriously injured protecting a friend, the cracks in their already shaky foundation begin to show. Falling in love wasn't in either man's recovery plan?and this time, the risk could be too great. Warning: Contains one emotionally wrecked cop, one angsty short-order cook, a few too many secrets, some meddling small-town folk, and plenty of hot man-on-man action.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: June 2012
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [390 KB]
Reading time: 251-352 min.
As promised, Rey knocked on his door forty minutes later. Samuel couldn't help noticing Rey had swapped his faded T-shirt for a red polo, the color of which highlighted the dark stubble scattered across Rey's chin. Samuel smiled without comment. Rey's bike was propped against the porch rail, its basket supporting a black bike helmet he hadn't noticed before. Maybe Rey only wore it on long trips.
"Come on in," Samuel said, stepping aside.
Rey made a small show of sniffing the coffee-perfumed air as he entered the foyer. His attention seemed to dart everywhere, from the wide staircase leading to the second floor to the empty formal living room directly to the right of the foyer. "You weren't kidding," he said.
"What wasn't I kidding about this time?"
"This place needing work." His eyes widened a fraction. "It's nice, though. Has good bones. Isn't that what architects say?"
"I have no idea, but I agree. It's why I bought it. That and it has an amazing rear deck."
"Oh?" The single word invited a viewing.
Samuel swallowed, mouth suddenly dry. He hadn't been a tiny bit nervous about lunch until Rey cast those interested, searching brown eyes on him. It also made him stupidly self-conscious about turning his back on Rey and leading him down the narrow hall to the kitchen. Amazing rear deck--why had he said that?
"Kitchen's back here," he added. "How do you take your coffee?"
"Black's fine." Rey sounded very close.
He beelined for the coffee maker where he'd already set out two royal blue mugs, exact matches to the dinnerware set tucked away in his garage, along with most of his other belongings. Waiting for him to finish the house and unpack them to their proper new homes. Coffee mugs, however, were necessary to daily function.
"I didn't even ask what sort of deli meat you like," he said as he poured two mugs. "I have ham and roast beef, plus Swiss cheese."
"I'm not picky about food." Rey was definitely right behind him, within an arm's reach.
Samuel picked up one mug by the rim, handle out, and turned carefully. Rey was leaning one hip against the counter, right elbow braced on it, a very casual pose.
He accepted the mug then lifted it in the direction of one wall. "I like the color you picked. Gonna repaint the entire house?"
"That's the plan." Samuel stirred a packet of sweetener into his coffee, forgoing milk this time. "I do most of it on weekends when I'm off-duty."
"So far, yeah. It's a work-in-progress, but I wouldn't have bought the house if I didn't want to put the time in."
"Ever thought about hiring painters?"
He lifted one shoulder in a half shrug. He'd considered it briefly, but... "Not really. It isn't as if I have anything more pressing to do with my free time."
"So you say."
Unsure how to take that enigmatic comment, Samuel put his coffee down and shuffled to the fridge. "So, sandwich?"
"Roast beef and Swiss sounds good."
Samuel collected the bags of sliced meat and cheese from the fridge, as well as a jar of mayo and bottle of mustard. The loaf of rye was already on the table next to a pair of paper plates and plastic utensils. Rey joined him at the kitchen table but didn't sit down.
"Everything's still in storage?" he asked, poking at a paper plate.
"Yeah." Samuel plucked a bag of barbecue potato chips out of the cardboard box that held most of his non-perishables. "It's why I'm trying to finish the kitchen first. Seems like the most important room to get fully functional."
"Not the bedroom?"
He nearly dropped the bag of chips. Rey's deadpan delivery of the question left no clues as to how he'd meant it. Serious? Flirtatious joke? Samuel hadn't openly flirted in years and he felt a bit out to sea. Especially around Rey, who made him want to jump out of his own skin. He was so flustered he let himself say, "It's the least used room in the house, so it can wait."
"Shame." The teasing light in his eyes was back, even though he didn't smile. He put his coffee mug down next to the roast beef. "You know, I'm really not that hungry."
Samuel swallowed. "You're not?" Somehow he'd lost control of the situation. The script had changed and he didn't know his lines. Hell, he wasn't even sure about the scene.
"And you still haven't shown me your rear deck."
His heart pounded harder at the keen interest in Rey's expression--his wide eyes and parted lips. Rey drew his tongue across his lower lip, and Samuel's dick took a sudden interest.
"It's, uh, this way," Samuel said. He scooted around Rey and walked to the back kitchen door that needed a new coat of paint and a screen not covered with patches. He unlocked and opened the storm door to give them a better view of the rear deck.
Rey stepped to his side, close enough that Samuel could feel his warmth. Rey smelled like Ivory soap and sweat, not a hint of cologne or strong shampoo. Samuel liked the clean, natural scent. He also had enough control of his faculties to not give in to the urge to lean over and inhale more deeply. He stared at the ancient oak tree standing sentinel in the middle of the yard to keep from staring at Rey.
The object of his inattention leaned slightly forward, gazing through the ripped screen door. "You're right again, Samuel," he said. "An amazing rear deck. The owner's isn't too bad, either."
"Uh..." It wasn't the most intelligent thing to tumble out of his mouth, but Samuel couldn't quite manage higher thought. Rey was definitely flirting and bordering on an overture of intent. He'd invited Rey over with the hope of making a friend, maybe even getting his full name. Nothing else.
He might even believe himself if he wasn't already half-hard, his blood heating in his veins, his eyes taking in Rey's narrow build and shorter stature with keen interest. The tree was no longer important.
Rey tilted his head to the side, eyes crinkling with his impish smile. "Don't tell me I'm the first person to admire your deck since you moved here."
He started to deny it. The truth tumbled out, instead, as it had a habit of doing around Rey. "You're the first in a long while, actually."
"Now that's a crime, Officer."
It certainly was, but not in the way Rey's teasing implied. Not that Samuel had any intention of bringing that particular truth to light--now or ever. Samuel Briggs, currently of Stratton, Pennsylvania, had a clean past and no painful memories left behind in New Mexico. He had just the future, and in that golden moment in his unfinished kitchen, he liked the idea of Rey being part of his future.
Or at the very least, a part of his present.
"You know, I, uh"--Samuel scrubbed his hand through his short hair--"I really did just invite you over for coffee."
"You did," Rey said, agreeable and still smiling. "But like I said before, I'm not really hungry and you brew your coffee a little weak." He cocked his hips just so and Samuel shoved his hands into his rear jeans pockets to keep from reaching for Rey. "Look, I'm not asking for any promises here, Samuel. But if you're not into it, I'll go, no hard feelings."
He would, too, Samuel knew. Rey was like hourglass sand--trapped in his circumstances, but with the ability to flow easily between the situations in which he was tossed. Adaptable, but unable to free himself fully from certain constraints--much like Samuel.
Asking Rey to stay, knowing his intentions, scared him to death. He hadn't been with anyone since Ben died three years ago, and before that they'd had five years of joy. He didn't know how to accept a near-stranger into his bed, even if it was a new bed for a new man who'd left his past behind in another state. A different person had been in love with Ben, a different person had watched him die. Samuel needed to take the next step in his life.
Rey was cute. Rey was available. Rey was there and he wasn't asking for anything beyond the physical.
So Samuel said, "Please stay."