Read Sawyer (Torey Hope: The Later Years #2) Online
Authors: A. D. Ellis
The couch welcomed Sawyer’s weight as he sank onto it heavily. He had about an hour before he was scheduled to meet his family at his grandfather’s house. The captain and Janie were having a get together and Sawyer had decided he would tell the rest of his family his secret.
The house was quiet. Decker and Katie were out running around before the family gathering; Kendrick was probably nursing a hangover in the bed of last night’s conquest; Zach had left early to go help their cousin Zoey work in her garden.
Sawyer appreciated the silence, but the stillness gave him too much time to overthink his decision.
A knock sounded at the door startling Sawyer from his thoughts. He pulled his 6’2” frame up from the brown suede sectional couch which took up two walls of their living room. As he pulled opened the door, his face broke into a relieved smile; he hadn’t realized he was longing for company, but seeing the man standing on his doorstep made him realize he needed a friend.
Did Hayden Marsten qualify as a friend or more? Now wasn’t the time to evaluate their new relationship, he just knew he was grateful to have Hayden show up.
Stepping back from the door to allow Hayden room to enter, Sawyer offered a genuine smile to him. “Hey, man, what brings you by?” Sawyer knew the reason Hayden was there, but he decided to go with small talk first.
“As if you don’t know why I’m here, Sawyer.” The eye roll and head shake were subtle, but Sawyer caught them.
“You’re right, I do. Thanks for coming to keep me company until I head over to the captain’s house. I was feeling a little alone here with all of my thoughts.” Sawyer stepped closer to Hayden and let the other man pull him into a comforting hug.
“Do you want something to drink? Have a seat, and I’ll grab us something. I’ve got beer, water, pop, and juice.” Sawyer longed for a beer to help with his nerves, but he wanted to have his faculties about him when he spoke to his family.
“I’ll take whatever you’re having, thanks.” Hayden ambled to the living room and comfortably took a seat; he’d been over to the house enough times that he knew to just make himself at home.
Sawyer grabbed two water bottles out of the fridge setting them on the counter. Mechanically pulling two glasses out of the cabinet, the grinding of the ice maker as he filled the glasses didn’t even faze him. Turning he stood at the sink as he poured water into the ice-filled glasses. Lost in thought, he gazed out the window.
He recalled the day Katie had first mentioned Hayden to him.
“Oh my goodness, Sawyer, I’ve found you a total hunk of a man.”
“Really, Katie-girl? A total hunk, huh? And just where did you discover this total hunk?” Sawyer had smiled good-naturedly at his favorite girl.
“Well, I had gone to the bank on some business for The Center+. My friend from high school, Heather, works there. Anyway, she and I were chatting when this drop dead gorgeous man walked from one of the offices to get paper for his printer. She and I and every female in the place watched him as he walked back to his office, we probably had drool puddles that needed wiped up. Heather caught my eye, and we both started laughing. I whispered, ‘Damn, I’m happily taken, but you should go after that one; he’s HOT.’ Heather sadly shook her head and whispered back, ‘I totally would except he’s 100% gay; I don’t stand a chance with him.’ So, I may have made it my mission to go to the bank as often as possible for the next couple weeks until I had met with this man and developed a friendship. During the small talk we made, I conveniently found out that he’s not married, not seeing anyone, AND he’d like to meet YOU.”
“So this drop dead gorgeous man is living right here in Torey Hope, has no one in his life, and he just happens to want to meet me? What’s the catch?” Sawyer had found it hard to believe.
“No catch, seriously. He is our age, moved here to take the branch manager job, hasn’t met many people other than the employees at the bank, and knows the ‘gay scene’ in Torey Hope is pretty small; he is really a nice guy, even if you two don’t hit it off romantically, wouldn’t it be nice to have another friend?”
Sawyer had agreed to meet Hayden the next night. He wasn’t willing to go so far as to call it a date, but he was happy to be meeting someone none the less.
He walked hesitantly towards the park bench. Katie had said Hayden was going to meet him at the park, but he wasn’t sure if this man was who he was looking for. Sawyer took a moment to study the man as he walked in from the side. He had a strong profile, light brown hair that was long enough to need to be pushed out of his eyes, but it wasn’t messy, in fact it was styled very neatly. The man wore a pair of khakis and a pale blue polo shirt. Sawyer immediately felt the contrast between his own jeans and button down; he’d dressed nicely, but this man definitely had more of a ‘business’ air about him.
When the man’s eyes scanned the park and landed on him, Sawyer knew he’d lost his opportunity to check him out. Their eyes locked and the other man stood; walking towards each other, Sawyer felt an immediate kinship. It was as if, at the moment their eyes met, he knew he’d found a friend who would understand his struggles, even if nothing romantic ever blossomed between them.
“Sawyer?” The man’s smile brightened his handsome face, and his pale blue eyes sparkled.
“Hayden, right? Good to meet you, man. Katie’s told me a lot about you; thanks for agreeing to meet up with me.” Sawyer stuck his hand out and quickly appreciated Hayden’s firm grip. If he noticed the lack of heat or sparks as their flesh touched it was only fleetingly.
“Katie is a great girl. If I played for that team, I’d be pursuing her for sure.” Hayden’s flirty wink brought a smile to Sawyer’s face.
“Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure my twin brother, Decker, would take issue with that.” Sawyer let go of Hayden’s hand and glanced around the park. “Would you like to sit or walk?”
“Damn, there’s two men walking around Torey Hope with your looks? What are the odds?” Changing subjects abruptly, Hayden motioned toward the walking path, “Let’s walk for a bit, it’s a beautiful day; plus sitting to talk would seem too much like a job interview.”
“So, Katie tells me you’re the branch manager at Torey Hope First Financial? How did you get into banking?” Sawyer felt at ease with Hayden and found himself relaxing into a comfortable conversation.
“I had always planned on following in my father’s footsteps and taking over his position as bank president in my hometown of Chicago.” Mentioning his father’s lofty position didn’t come across as bragging, just passing along information; Hayden seemed like a very down-to-earth guy. “But, when I graduated from college and started working for my dad in order to one day take over his position, I made the mistake of dating one of my coworkers - a male coworker.” Hayden’s eyes met Sawyer’s with a mixture of regret and humor.
“Oh, wow; I take it dear old dad didn’t realize you were gay? I bet that went over well.” Sawyer pitied his new friend as he wondered about his own family’s reaction; would they deny him his position at The Center+?
“That’s putting it mildly. Dad flipped out, fired me, threw me out of the apartment he’d been paying for, and forbid my mother to contact me. He cut me off financially and severed all ties between me and my younger siblings.” The deep sigh in Hayden’s voice was the only clue that he was still affected by the events he was describing. “So, I stayed with a friend for a bit. Not the guy I’d been dating; he dumped me as soon as he got fired by my dad. I started applying anywhere and everywhere I could find banking positions. Within three months, I landed the job here in Torey Hope, and I’ve been here about six months now.”
Sawyer nodded his head as Hayden finished his explanation. “So, how do you like our little Torey Hope? I’m sure it doesn’t exactly stack up to the big metropolis of Chicago.” Sawyer didn’t mind visiting larger cities, but he’d never had an urge to live in one; he enjoyed the quieter small town life that he’d grown up with.
“Actually, I worried I’d be bored out of my mind, but it’s not really that bad. I’ve made some friends. The restaurants are quaint and delicious. The town is gorgeous. There’s shopping here and in nearby towns; overall, I think it’s a great place.” Hayden’s words held a “but.”
“I hear a ‘but’ that you’re not speaking.” Sawyer smiled. “Let me guess, the gay scene in Torey Hope isn’t really as hoppin’ as you’re used to?”
“Bingo, we have a winner, give this man a prize.” Hayden laughed and they stopped at the shelter house. Hayden sat down on the top of a picnic table and Sawyer mirrored his position on a table opposite him.
“I know exactly what you mean; I haven’t done an official census, but I think the total number of gay men in Torey Hope is probably…um, two?” Hayden threw his head back and laughed at Sawyer’s words.
“Tell me about it, man. I was so happy when Katie told me she had a gay friend; I thought ‘even if he’s butt-ugly, at least he could be a friend’.” Hayden stood from the table and walked into the space between Sawyer’s legs. “Imagine my delight when I found out that you aren’t butt-ugly; in fact, you’re one of the most attractive men I’ve ever seen.”
Sawyer had to lean back on his hands to look up into Hayden’s face. He didn’t feel a spark or a heat with Hayden, but his body reacted nonetheless; it had been a long time since he’d felt a man so close to him. “Good to know I’m not butt-ugly, thanks for that.” Sawyer spoke sarcastically and pushed up off of his hands to bring his face closer to Hayden’s.
Hayden’s groin intruded farther into his space and Sawyer felt the evidence of his interest pressing up against his own. Putting his feet down on the ground to allow his height to equal Hayden’s, Sawyer let Hayden’s hands pull his hips forward as soft, smooth lips came down on his mouth.
As his lips and tongue enjoyed the physical contact, his heart fought down the disappointment that he felt no real heat or desire with Hayden. He told himself he should be fair to Hayden and give him the ‘just friends’ speech, but he also knew how badly he wanted a friend, an equal, someone who understood, so he kept quiet.
He let the kiss go on longer than it should have; he agreed to another date; he added yet another secret to his treasury.
“Hey, man, did you travel to a freshwater spring to get that water? You’ve been in here forever.” Hayden’s voice behind him brought him from his thoughts.
Dripping with condensation from the glasses, he recognized how cold his fingertips were. “Sorry about that. I just got caught up in my thoughts for a bit.”
“Oh, yeah, what were you thinking about?” Hayden’s tone indicated he wondered if he himself were anywhere in those thoughts, but he had a way of teasing while also being sincere in his concern.
“Actually, I was just thinking about the day we met and how glad I am to have someone in town who I know ‘gets it;’ I love my brother and cousins and Katie, but they can’t completely understand because they haven’t lived it.” Sawyer turned and stepped in closer to Hayden, effectively pinning him against the counter.
His heart and head told him to sit down with Hayden and talk about his plan to tell the rest of his family, but his body was yearning for physical contact; he wanted to
he did not want to be left alone with his thoughts and fears.
“So, I guess I should be saying ‘thank you, Hayden;’ but I think instead of saying the words, I’d rather show you.” His fingers threaded through the hair just brushing Hayden’s collar and applied just enough pressure to bring his mouth close enough to his that their breaths mingled.
Not waiting for more of an invitation, Hayden covered the last few centimeters and devoured Sawyer’s mouth. Sawyer’s body responded, he craved more, but deep inside he knew it wasn’t Hayden he desired.
Don’t be unfair to him, Sawyer. If you don’t feel it with him, let him know.
Sawyer’s head spoke harshly to him as his tongue slid along Hayden’s bottom lip. At the nip and sting of Hayden’s teeth on his own bottom lip, Sawyer’s body spoke in a desire-laden voice.
You’re not hurting anyone. Who knows, maybe Hayden is using you too. Just enjoy it while you can.
Letting his body speak for him, Sawyer’s hands traveled slowly down the sides of Hayden’s torso and gripped the man’s hips, pulling him forward so that their hard lengths collided.
“Oh, God, Sawyer; damn that feels good. Again.” Hayden whispered hotly against Sawyer’s ear and groaned appreciatively when Sawyer did as he was told.
Hot hands palmed, rubbed, gripped; lips, tongues, teeth clashed.
“Holy shit! What the fuck?” Hayden’s hips bucked violently away from the counter. “Ahh, damn, that’s cold!”
Sawyer’s sex-filled mind took a moment to clear, but he quickly realized the glass of ice water had been knocked over on the counter and spilled on the back of Hayden’s pants from his waist down.
Trying not to laugh, Sawyer grabbed a towel and tried to help Hayden sop up the worst of the spill before drying the pooling water from the counter.
“Laugh it up, Morgan. Shit, nothing like a bucket of ice water dumped down your pants to cool down the heat of making out. Sorry, bud, I think anything I was thinking about doing has now shriveled up and lost interest for the moment.”
The men laughed and headed toward the front door.
“Thanks for coming over; you helped take my mind off today for at least a little while.” Sawyer leaned in and kissed Hayden enjoying the sigh that escaped from the other man; Hayden was an attractive guy, he was fun to be around, Sawyer couldn’t do much better. But, would it just be settling on the one gay guy he knew in town? Would Sawyer be giving up passion and heat just to be comfortable and safe?