The slam of the front door followed by the click of metal against marble brought Gabriel relief. When the more substantial sound of a heavy leather belt joined it, he grinned. Officer Anthis was home safe.
“Hey, babe. How was your day? The sheriff had me running all over Grand County. Wash up. Dinner’ll be ready soon,” Gabriel called into the living room.
In response, his tall, burly husband strolled into the kitchen, wrapped his arms around Gabriel from behind and pulled him tight. Gabriel inhaled the delicious mix of masculine scents filling the air as Rick planted a kiss on the side of his neck. Damn, he always makes me feel so good. Even after all these years, it’s like my first crush.
Gabriel turned then pressed his lips against Rick’s. The hot kiss continued for quite a while before they separated, and when they did, he had a pleasant, sexy buzz. He ran his hands over Rick’s broad shoulders and sighed as the jolts of pleasure crawled through his body. He kissed along Rick’s jawline, loving the rough texture as he had each time for over a decade, then he asked, “So, the day went well?”
Rick leaned back, gripped Gabriel’s butt and mashed their crotches together. Well, there goes any chance of an intelligent conversation from me. No blood’s left in my brain. He could bend me over the counter, fuck me silly and I would be a happy man. Gabriel reached up and stroked his fingertips over Rick’s blue-black five o’clock shadow.
“You have the heaviest beard of anyone I’ve ever seen, and I love it. But unless you want dinner burned, you need to let me cook.”
A deep rumbling laugh that never failed to leave Gabriel a little weak in the knees echoed through the room. Rick released him and leaned against the counter. “That’s what you get for falling in love with a Greek. We’re shaving from the time we’re out of diapers.”
Gabriel pushed the spatula across the skillet, stirring the contents of their meal. The aroma of basil and oregano swirled in the air, and as it mixed with Rick’s heady musk, Gabriel inhaled deeply and the comforts of home flooded him. He couldn’t keep from glancing around the room. The kitchen in their first apartment had consisted of an electric skillet and a toaster. Now Gabriel did most of the cooking, so decisions about how to best handle the room had been left to him when they’d remodeled soon after moving into their house. As a result, the kitchen always made him content.
Rick slipped one hand toward Gabriel’s crotch, but Gabriel caught his thick wrist and spun him in the direction of the glass-fronted cabinet lined with plates. “Set the table. Supper’s ready.”
“Do I have time to change?” asked Rick.
“Nope. Besides, that way I get to stare at a hot cop.”
That same bass chuckle erupted again and built Gabriel’s sense of contentment. He dished up the food and carried it to the table while Rick put out the place settings. Rick filled their tumblers with iced tea as Gabriel eased himself into his chair. After a final check to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything, he grinned at Rick before leaning over to give him another quick kiss. “Eat. Don’t let it get cold.”
Rick studied him for a moment as he sat. “How was your day? You seem beat.”
Gabriel shrugged as he reached for the sugar bowl. “Nothing bad. Typical stuff for us deputy sheriffs. Mr. Wisner thinks someone is stealing his cattle, but he still has the same number. A couple of domestic complaints. The usual. I’m just tired.”
Rick pulled the sugar out of reach. “I can tell when you aren’t watching your blood sugar. What is it?”
Gabriel glared at Rick, irritated he would bring the subject up again. “It’s one-sixty. I’ve got it under control.”
“That’s high, and you know it. Your doctor will up your insulin if you’re not careful. You tell me all the time how much you hate the shots.”
A gust of breath exploded from Gabriel. “Well, shit. All the stuff I want is off limits.”
Rick grabbed his shoulder and squeezed. “I’ll eat whatever you eat. I can help cook, too. It wouldn’t hurt me to lose a few pounds. We could also jog again, like we did when you were finishing college and I was a broke rookie.” He winked at Gabriel and patted his slightly rounded stomach.
Gabriel lifted an eyebrow and his mouth twisted. “This should be fun, both of us hungry and bitchy as hell. Add the exercise so we can be sore, and it will be wonderful.”
Rick ruffled Gabriel’s hair then ate with relish and without further comments. They were enjoying the final bites of their meal when they heard yelling from outside. Rick listened for a minute before shaking his head. “Are they at it again?”
“Ever since I got home. I thought Mark left, but it sounds like he’s back. They’re arguing in the driveway. They normally aren’t this easy to understand.”
“Poor Jacob. Those two are tearing up the kid with all their bickering,” Rick said.
“Yeah, I ran into Rachel at the grocery store. She’s trying to take care of him. She told me money was short, but she didn’t want Jacob to worry. Mark’s behind with his child support, and the stress is getting to her.” Gabriel studied his husband before venturing an opinion. “Jacob idolizes you. You know that, right?”
Rick shrugged, but Gabriel knew he worried about the eight-year-old. He’d been protective since they’d met and had only gotten more so over the past months as his parents' marriage came apart in a very nasty and public way. But they tried to be a safe refuge where Jacob knew his parents’ issues weren’t his fault.
But when he glanced back, Gabriel’s emotions were well hidden. “I just try to let him have a little break from the drama at home.”
Gabriel motioned toward Rick with his fork. “Eat. With them fighting, it won’t be long before he’s at the door looking for his buddy.”
* * * *
Rick dried the last dish and put it in its proper place. He glanced around the kitchen they both loved. Their stately house and the quiet, older community it was nestled inside was exactly what they’d wanted. Their neighborhood was comfortable, with a mix of people. Most of them were willing to help each other at any time. He hoped Mark and Rachel could work out their issues. Jacob needed peace and security and should be their most critical consideration.
Rick put his arm around Gabe’s slender waist and pulled them together. He’s as sexy as he was in college. Damn, just being next to him makes me randy. He gave Gabe another peck on the cheek before folding the dishtowel and laying it beside the sink. “Supper was great. You’re a damn fine cook.”
Gabe snickered and popped Rick with the towel he’d been using. “It should taste good. Your mother sent home herbs from her garden the last time we visited, along with more recipes you like. I think she’s afraid I’ll feed you tofu.”
“Mom’s just trying to fatten me up. I’m kind of skinny for a forty-three-year-old Greek man. And there was that unfortunate vegetarian diet you created.”
“You agreed. Don’t give me crap.”
The towel snapped against Rick’s butt again, and this time, he grabbed at it. Gabe danced away, his face a study in mischief. “Where does that leave me?”
He swept Gabe up and kissed him. “It leaves you in my arms, where you should be.”
Rick paused and lifted Gabe to his feet when he remembered the note in his pocket. With his hand on the small of Gabe’s back, he reached into his shirt pocket and fished out a little piece of yellow paper. He gripped it between two fingers and dangled the sheet in front of Gabe.
“Speaking of, I found another note in my lunch.”
Gabe studied the symbols on the page with a baffled look. “Huh, what do you think that means?”
Rick smiled. “I know what it’s meant the last dozen times I found one.”
“Really? And what was that?”
“It meant I would be exhausted the whole next day.”
“You don’t say. Let me see that.” Gabe took the paper from Rick and appeared to study its contents. “Looks like Native American symbols. Hmm, maybe ‘bear’ and ‘hunt’.” He smiled at Rick with a glimmer in his eyes. “Are we going on a bear hunt this fall?” Gabe tugged on the short hair coming from the top of Rick’s T-shirt. The slight touch shifted Rick’s libido into high gear.
He nuzzled Gabe’s throat and sighed at the spicy fragrance that curled through his nostrils. He slid his hand under Gabe’s shirt and rubbed through his chest hair, igniting Rick’s desire. “What’s the sign for otter? I think I need to hunt one of those little furry things.” I can’t believe Mom gave Gabe my Eagle Scout pictogram project, but it blew my mind how he turned it into our secret language.
Rick pushed the shirt higher, exposing Gabe’s muscular chest and the artful swirls of hair covering it. Two pink nubs of flesh crowned his defined pecs. He spread his hands wide and ran them over Gabe’s back while Rick leaned toward the ever-hardening bits he enjoyed playing with. He wrapped his lips around Gabe’s nipple and sucked.
“Hmm.” Gabe grabbed Rick’s head and ground against him. Rick scraped his teeth over the hard nipples as he cupped his meaty hand over Gabe’s crotch and squeezed. Gabe’s dick hardened as he worked it with more and more force. He went to one knee, pressed his face tightly to Gabe’s package and inhaled.
There was a loud knock on the front door, followed by a familiar voice. “Hey, Rick!”
“Well, fuck,” Rick said with his face still buried in Gabe’s balls. They waited for a few seconds but knew Jacob wouldn’t give in easily. Rick sighed as Gabe took a step away and straightened his clothes before he glanced at his crotch and chuckled. “It’s a good thing I’m wearing compression shorts and loose sweats or Jacob would be waiting a little longer.”
Rick looked down at his uniform pants. If the prominent bulge of his hard cock wasn’t sign enough, the growing wet spot made his condition clear. He grinned at Gabe. “You stall while I change. That’ll give Junior time to deflate and for me to get rid of the evidence of what we were doing.”
Gabe smiled, swatted Rick’s ass and headed for the door.
“Hey,” Rick said, “You’re not helping.”
Gabe paused and grinned. “I wasn’t trying to.”
* * * *
Gabriel opened the door to an eight-year-old blond tossing a football into the air and catching it. “Hey, Jacob. How are you?”
“You’re useless, Mark!” A shrill voice ripped through the tree and shrub-lined street. It seemed they were getting louder each time they fought. “You haven’t made a child support payment in months. How can you be surprised?”
Jacob frowned and said, “This was Dad’s weekend.”
Gabriel nodded and motioned him inside. “Rick’s changing. He’ll be out pretty soon.”
“Cool.” Jacob sat on the leather couch and continued tossing the ball. After a minute or so, the silence stretched awkwardly, and Gabriel ducked into the kitchen. If nothing else, I’ll feed the kid. No way are we going to sit and stare at each other while we wait for Rick to appear.
“Jacob, I thought I’d make us lemonade. Would you like some?”
Jacob’s mouth contorted in several directions as he considered. “I can’t have sugar and stuff.”
This time, Gabriel gave him a sympathetic smile. He had no trouble remembering how unhappy Jacob had been when he’d found out he was diabetic. Gabriel had baked him an entire batch of sugar-free cookies. “I remember. It’s made with artificial sweetener. Rick told me I couldn’t have any sugary stuff, either. Remember that I’m diabetic, too.”
Jacob caught the ball, but this time he set it on the couch beside him. His grin was contagious. “Do you have those good cookies, too?”
Gabriel returned his smile. “I think so. I’ll make us a little snack.” Gabriel ducked back into the kitchen, and it wasn’t long before he was back with two drinks and a small plate of cookies on a snack tray. He set it on the glass-topped coffee table and handed Jacob a glass.
He took a drink, smacked his lips and sighed. “Rick’s right. You’re a good cook.”
Gabriel took a sip from his glass to hide the grin he got from Rick’s compliment. It wasn’t long before the cookies were gone and they were draining the final drops of lemonade from their frosty glasses.
Fortunately, Rick walked in, tucking his T-shirt into the top of a pair of sweats.
“Hey, Jacob. Want to toss the ball around?”
“Yes, sir. If you have time.” Jacob’s face lit up as he set his glass on the tray and grabbed his football.
“Now’s perfect. It’ll help me work off an edge,” said Rick. “And, Jacob, it’s okay to call me Rick.”
“Yes, sir. I mean…Rick.” Jacob showed a small grin.
Rick started toward the front door, and Gabriel gave his head a slight shake. As if on cue, more yelling erupted across the street.
A scowl only Gabriel would recognize flickered across Rick’s face. He spun, took the ball from Jacob and tucked it under his arm. “How about we play in the back yard? We’ll focus on your running game today.”
Jacob nodded rapidly as he beamed at Rick. “Okay. That sounds great.” They were heading toward the door when Jacob stopped and turned back to Gabriel with a serious expression. “Thank you for the snacks. They were really good.”
“Well, you’re welcome. I’m glad you liked them.”
With a backward wave, he trotted to catch up with Rick. They fell into discussing the plays Rick was teaching Jacob. As they talked about the intricacies of the game, Gabriel relaxed on the deck and soaked up the warm evening. The sun was dipping low in the western sky when Gabriel set aside the book he was reading and motioned to Rick and Jacob. “Guys, let’s take a break, and I’ll bring out treats. I have a few more cookies.” Gabriel started for the kitchen.
“Jacob! Where are you?”
Jacob sighed at his mother’s voice, and he yelled back. “Helping Rick, Mom. I’ll be right home.”
He turned to Rick, his face crimson. “I gotta go. Sorry.”
Rick patted his shoulder and smiled. “It’s okay, bud. We’ll work on your catches another day.”
Jacob nodded and dashed out of the privacy fence gate. It slammed shut behind him, and Rick frowned after the kid. He joined Gabriel on the deck, still holding the ball. “He forgot his football.” Rick tossed it into the air a few times before Gabriel noticed a slash of white on it.
“What’s that?” asked Gabriel.
Rick smiled and turned the football so the glyph faced Gabriel. “That’s the symbol we created for him. He found one of your bear-hunt notes, and I had to come up with an explanation other than ‘Gabe likes bootie call’. I think he decided it means blond mouse or something along those lines.”
Gabriel’s laughter echoed across the back yard. “Jacob as a Native American? That’s an interesting interpretation since his hair is as blond as mine. I’m sure you can give him his football tomorrow. He’ll be back to toss it around. I bet he gets cranky if he doesn’t get his Rick fix.”
Rick chuckled and draped his arm across Gabriel as they walked through the door.
The sound of three gunshots ripped the tranquil evening.