Read If You Still Want Me Online

Authors: CE Kilgore

Tags: #romance, #texas, #lgbt, #bdsm, #dallas, #polyamory, #polyamorous, #lgbt romance

If You Still Want Me (3 page)

BOOK: If You Still Want Me
10.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

A hiccup stutters past my chest, my eyes and jaw
clenched shut against the demons raging inside. Anger and bile rise
as my shaking hand reaches for the knob. It squeaks, the water
stops, and I slump bare-assed against the tiled floor. Pulling my
knees to my chest, I try and quiet the demons for another day.

Four more months.

I'm still fuzzy on the details, but I'm pretty
sure I've made up my mind. Come April, I'll be off probation, which
means I'll be off the leash. I think it'll be best for everyone if
I pack up my demons and leave.

I'm more grateful to Brandon than I could ever
hope to express. I think he knows that, so I hope he won't see my
leaving as a slight against him. Heck, he could charge me rent and
make me work for free, and I wouldn't complain. I owe that man more
than I can repay.

He helped me get a second chance. He's helped me
understand and be okay with who I am. He forgave me for what I
did.

For what I'm still doing.

With a groan, I peel myself off the bottom of
the shower and stand back up like a man to dry off. No way around
it - I'm still messing up that man's life. I may not be beating him
with a baseball bat, but I'm causing his family trouble. I'm
getting in the way of him and Emma having the house to themselves,
and I'm causing rifts between his friends.

Four more months.

A heavy exhale deflates my chest as I yank on a
pair of jeans and a gray t-shirt. Maybe I can just duck my head
real low and avoid Victoria and Saul for that long. Keep up my work
at the barn, tend Brandon's horses, help with the club and keep my
plans of leaving to myself. Last thing I need is to start a ruckus
about that.

Last thing I need this morning is to walk into
the kitchen to find Saul sitting at the table with a bowl of Emma's
Fruit Loops, but there he is, disheveled blond hair and all. Man,
Fate hates me.

Shit
. I take that back.
Fate wants to destroy me.

Saul sets down the El Paso real estate magazine
I must've left on the table last night. I'd been groggily leafing
through the pages, dog-earring a few prospects while sipping on a
glass of warm milk. I'd say it wasn't mine, but I'd already called
a few places and some of the notes are in Spanish.

Saul glances from the magazine to me then back
to the page he has open, and I can tell instantly he knows I'm
planning to make a run for it. He's not as happy-looking about it
as I thought he'd be. Fuck. I need some damn coffee.

"Good morning," I stumble out as I head for the
Keurig machine Ian bought us for Christmas. There's silence as I
try to focus on the twenty different flavors of coffee Ian also
bought. Whatever happened to good ole coffee-flavored coffee?

The silence drags across my skin. I can't stand
it. "You're here early. Thought Brandon gave everyone on the
job-sites the week off?"

"He did."

And that's it. That's all he
gives me. Holding in a heart-aching sigh, I reach for the only
flavor I see that has the word
coffee
on the label. As I get the fancy-ass machine going, my
morning vastly improves to the point of absolute
suckage.

"Morning," Brandon yawns out the word as he
walks in wearing only a pair of pajama pants. He must be making
Emma breakfast in bed again. He stops short, just inside the
doorway, and rubs a hand over his face, like he's not entirely sure
what he's seeing is real. "Saul?"

"Did you know Austin's leaving?"

The fuck? That damn blond-headed brat! Of all
the things he could say, he starts off the morning with that?

I glance over to him, and I see why. His glare
is full of accusation, as if we're all keeping more secrets from
him. It's so damn hard for me to stay mad at him when all I wanna
do is walk over and hug him or try to make him laugh. I hate seeing
him all tore up and confused.

"What?" Brandon's one eyebrow quirks high as he
tilts his head at Saul like the boy's lost his mind. "I think the
Fruit Loops are goin' to your head. What're you even doing here,
eating Emma's cereal at seven in the morning?"

"Need a place to crash," he mumbles into his
cereal, bangs covering his eyes. "C-can I? Stay for a bit, I
mean."

Brandon looks over at me, but
what can I say? It's not my house. I give a light shrug and pick up
my coffee mug, giving it a sniff. It
smells
like coffee, at least.

"Sure," Brandon finally replies and I watch Saul
relax into the chair. Just when I'm about to allow myself the hope
that it can't possibly get any worse, the other shoe drops to kick
me square in the sac. "So," Brandon looks at me again. "What's this
about you leaving?"

It's too damn early to be having this
conversation, but there's one thing I'll never do, and that's
bullshit Brandon. "My probation ends mid-April. Thought I might get
outta your hair so you and Emma can have the place to
yourselves."

"Oh?" Brandon nods, as if that idea is
acceptable. "If you need help finding a place-"

"He's movin' ta El-fuckin'-Paso," Saul
interrupts, holding up the magazine with a shake for emphasis.

Ai, mierda mi vida.
I
hold the bridge of my nose, cursing my luck as Brandon crosses his
arms. Well, it's outta the bag now, and no way will I lie to him.
"Sorry, boss. I was gonna wait 'till I had everything settled
before saying anything."

"El Paso?" he asks, and I can hear the hurt on
his voice.

"Yeah," I look up at him, but avoid Saul's
heated glare. The last thing I expected was for Saul to be angry
about me leaving. After what happened with Victoria, I figured he'd
be helping me pack before giving me a swift kick onto the
plane.

"My cousin flips houses out there," I explain.
It'd sounded like an okay idea at the time, but as it's gotten
closer, and as I stand there under their stares, my voice loses its
confidence in the plan. "He said he'd help me find a fixer-upper to
get me started. It's... It's not really what I want to do...
Construction, I mean, but it's work," I end in a shrug, my own body
retaliating against me to give away what I really think.

"You're welcomed to stay," Brandon takes a step
towards me, offering me a way out of this choice I don't want to
make. "Stay on and work with the horses and the club. I'd even give
you a raise and help you find a place of your own, but you don't
even have to move out. You know Emma and I are happy to have you
here."

"I know, boss," and I do. How can one man be so
full of kindness? "It's just something I'm thinking about. Maybe a
fresh start, or..." My voice trails off as I feel my throat
swelling. My eyes betray me and glance to Saul, but he's staring at
his feet. "Nothing's set yet."

"You'll let me know?"

I look back at Brandon, the compassion in his
eyes telling me he knows all about why I'm running. "I will. I
promise."

I take a sip of the coffee, curse silently
because it's got some sort of sickly sweet aftertaste, then gulp it
down because I know I'll need all the caffeinated help I can get to
make it through the day. Setting the mug in the sink, I grab my
denim jacket and my gray Stetson off the peg next to the back door.
"I'll go see to the horses."

"Alright," Brandon lets it go for now. "Em and I
are going shopping for the New Year's bash, and then over to Ian's
for dinner. The man's actually cooking stuff now that he's got a
fridge."

I laugh at that, trying to picture Ian in an
apron. That man aint exactly Betty Crocker, and I know neither is
Charlotte. "I'll make Saul and I something and leave some leftovers
in the fridge." I laugh a bit more when Brandon grins in relief at
that. "They still planning on moving Charlie's stuff next
week?"

"If the weather holds."

"A'ight. See you later, then,"
I glance to Saul, but the boy's
still
staring at his damn sneakers. Fuck. I was not expecting him
to be this upset about me leaving. He's got me so dang confused.
I'm looking forward to some time alone with the horses. At least
they always make sense to me.

 

Saul

 

The screen door creaks as Austin exits to the
porch then the backdoor shuts, leavin' me alone with Brandon. I can
hear his breathing as I stare at my soggy Fruit Loops. I don't
guess he's exactly happy ta' have me here this mornin', but I knew
he wouldn't turn me out. He's too good a man for that - a better
man than I'll ever be.

"Where'd you sleep last night?"

I leave my Fruit Loops to their milky demise,
but can't meet Brandon's gaze. "My truck."

"Stubborn," he sighs. "You should'a come to me
yesterday, right after Sarah turned you down."

"You know 'bout that?" Of course he does.
Brandon Peters knows everything. 'Cept, it seems, 'bout shit havin'
to do with Austin.

I stand from the table and stretch, debating my
options. Brandon's gaze flicks to the bowl on the table, and I can
hear the command inside his head. Picking it up, I put the cereal
away and clean up my own mess for once.

"Why don't you go give Austin a hand," he says
in a vocal nudge.

I get it. Austin and I need ta have words, but I
just found out the bastard's leavin' for El-fuckin'-Paso. I don't
know if I can have words with him right yet without yelling them.
My bastard best friend is up an' leavin' my sorry ass behind, and
he wasn't even gonna tell me about it.

Just to spite him, I toss the magazine in the
trash then dump my soggy Fruit Loops on top of it. Seein' that
makes me smile. Brandon chuckles quietly behind me.

"You know," Brandon says as he starts taking
shit outta the fridge. Guess Mr. Husband 'a the Year is making Miss
Emma breakfast. "If anyone can stop him from leaving, it'd be
you."

I slam the lid down on the garbage can.
"Horseshit."

"Well, yes, you could certainly go help him with
that, too."

"Funny," I muster up a scowl, but that has my
lip twitchin' ta smirk. He's also lookin' at me again like he knows
somethin' I don't. Guess maybe it's time I go find out what that
somethin' is, so people will stop lookin' at me like I'm one
scarecrow short a brain.

"
Oh," I pause as I slip
on my U of T hooded sweatshirt.
Hook 'em
Horns
. "Your order for eggs seemed off, so I
told Jake to double it."

"You told Jake to
double
an order for forty-two
eggs?"

Forty...? S
hit.
I dig Brandon's list from last week out 'a my
wallet and read it twice, squinting at the numbers.

Eggs. Two-four. Twenty-Four... No... They haze
out then focus back in, in the correct order this time. Forty-two.
"Ah, hell! I'll call-"

"Hey, it's okay," Brandon sets down the milk
carton in his hand and pats my shoulder. "I can make some deviled
eggs for the party. Rabbit loves those things."

I glare at the list in my hand a second longer
before stuffing it into my pocket. "Sorry, boss. Simple thing a'
orderin' groceries, and I keep messin' it up."

"Not your fault," his fingers squeeze into my
shoulder. "Would it help if I started spelling out the
numbers?"

I shrug, not really knowin' what might make a
difference ta my cross-wired brain. "Maybe. Dunno." I shuffle my
feet, my head stooped down so low it's made Brandon taller than me
by an inch. "Thanks. Fer lettin' me stay an' all."

"You're welcome. Now, go help Austin with the
horses."

"Yes, sir." I nod and head outside, not even
lettin' my bratty-ass nature argue with Brandon's request. He
always does right by me, even when I think he's doin' wrong. Maybe
he had a good reason for not tellin' me 'bout Kyle an' Sarah. Maybe
they all did, and I'm just too dumb ta see it.

What I do see, as I walk into the barn, is
Austin - his profile back-lit by the open rear-gate and lookin'
like he stepped out of a Wranglers commercial. Damn, I think he's
wearin' Wranglers, too, and his Stetson's angled just right so that
it's shadowin' his eyes. I swear, if he wasn't straight and I
wasn't with Victoria, I'd...

My hands fist. Best friends don't ogle best
friends. Even when they're fucking fine in a tight pair of jeans
with a swagger that could tempt a nun.

Yeah, I swing both ways. It aint no secret.
Makes me a club favorite for being an Assist. I aint got no
hang-ups about helpin' a woman or a man reach that center 'a
pleasure an' learn to be just as comfortable in their skin as I
am.

Hell, I've even asked Austin if he wanted me to
help him loosin' up a bit and find a nice girl at the club for him
to start learnin' the ropes with. He declined, but I saw the subtle
interest in his eyes. He's curious, I can tell, 'bout what we do
there - the whole BDSM lifestyle. He helps out with the logistics
of the club, but when it comes to playtime, he always seems to be
elsewhere.

Shame, really. Fine as he is, I think me an'
Vickie could find him a real nice girl and show them a real good
time. A damn good time, like me on my knees and his cock...

Dang it! Best friend.
Straight best friend, who said he's in love with my
Vickie.

That, right there, ends my momentary lapse and
kills my damn over-active libido. Which is good, 'cause the last
thing I need while I'm about to yell at my best friend is drool
comin' out my mouth. Which may not be possible to avoid, because
the cold temps have perked up his nipples, an' they're now hard
against his gray t-shirt. The same gray t-shirt I hate, because it
brings out the color in his eyes - eyes that often cause my brain
to disconnect.

God dammit. Why can't the motherfucker be
fugly?

"Can I help you with something?" Austin asks,
suddenly standin' just a few feet away.

BOOK: If You Still Want Me
10.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Tracie Peterson by The Long-Awaited Child
Charade by Sandra Brown
Cuba Blue by Robert W. Walker
The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell
The Garden Path by Kitty Burns Florey
Meant for Love by Marie Force