Authors: Chase T. A.
Toby inhaled deeply and smiled. “Thank you. All right. Clean up then bed.”
Jensen left his brace on the counter. Even if it was one of the fastest showers Toby had ever taken, he loved being in there with Jensen, letting him wash and rinse them both without complaining that all Toby did was lean on him.
“I wish we could’ve done this six years ago,” he admitted.
Jensen cleared his throat. “I do too, but I couldn’t get through the haze of drugs to see what I was missing with you. I just knew that I wasn’t going to poison your world by bringing my stash here with me. It was bad enough I touched you with my hands that had held a needle earlier in the day.”
“Was your drug use the reason why we never barebacked?” Toby remembered the conversation they’d had once about not using protection when they fucked.
“Yes, it was the major part of why we didn’t, but also because we weren’t exclusive, Toby. As much as I wanted to be, and I know if I had asked, you would’ve committed to me. I couldn’t bring myself to tie you to the person I was back then.”
Jensen turned the water off, helping Toby out of the shower then toweled them both down. Toby pulled out a new toothbrush for Jensen to use.
“Where’s your luggage?” He’d forgotten to ask before.
“I left it at Simpson’s place. I went there first because he hadn’t moved and his was the only address I still had that worked.”
Made sense. They finished getting ready for bed then Toby led Jensen back to the bedroom. He sighed as Jensen helped him into bed, pulling the covers up over him and tucking him in.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Jensen kissed his forehead. “Don’t worry. I’ll be here in the morning when you wake up.”
Toby lay there, listening to the soft murmur of Jensen’s voice as he talked to someone. He didn’t care who was so important Jensen had to call them this late at night. All he cared about was the man he’d never stopped loving had come back. They still had some stuff to talk about and they would the next day, but for the rest of the night, Toby was going to bask in the happiness he’d felt for the first time in six years.
The sound of banging woke Toby in the morning and he stretched. He winced at the aches in his butt and various muscles that he hadn’t felt in several months. Another bang brought a frown to his face as he tried to figure out who else was in his apartment with him. He wasn’t supposed to meet Simpson until eleven for brunch.
Then he heard someone singing, which brought back memories of years ago when he would take a nap after sex with Jensen. He would lie in bed and listen to Jensen sing softly while he moved around Toby’s apartment. There had been a few times when Jensen stayed for a few hours before he left.
The thought of his old lover shot him out of bed. Toby dug through his dresser for a pair of sweats then tugged them on. He dashed out of his bedroom before heading down the hall to the kitchen. When he turned the corner, he skidded to a stop and froze.
Jensen danced around the kitchen while singing softly. He wore his jeans, unbuttoned but zipped and that was it. As Toby had noticed last night, Jensen was still muscular, yet slender. Almost as though he’d been refined through his addictions and rehab until all that was left was the essence of what made Jensen a man. His wide shoulders tapered down to a narrow waist. The V where his hips met his abs called to Toby, making him want to drag his tongue along the groove.
“See something you like?” Jensen asked.
He lifted his eyes from where he had been staring at the bulge behind Jensen’s zipper to meet Jensen’s amused gaze. “Oh yeah.”
Without breaking the connection between them, he strolled over to where Jensen stood, encircled his waist then pulled him close. He brought their lips together in an easy kiss then swiped his tongue into Jensen’s open mouth. The sweet flavor that greeted Toby surprised him.
He pulled back a little to meet Jensen’s gaze. “You haven’t had any coffee.”
Jensen shook his head. “I don’t drink it anymore. Too much caffeine. I saw you had some tea in the cupboard so I made some of that with honey. Was that okay?”
“Oh sure. I got that for Lisa who lives in the apartment below me. She works the night shift at one of the hospitals. She’s usually coming home when I’m getting up, so sometimes she’ll come and we chat while I’m getting ready to go to work. The tea helps her settle down after work.” Toby stole another kiss before he wandered over to where the coffee pot had finished with a little ding.
Smiling, Jensen gestured toward the refrigerator. “I was going to make you breakfast and serve it in bed, but you don’t have anything worth cooking in there.”
“I haven’t had time go shopping. It’s on my list to do today.” Toby held his mug close to his face, inhaling the robust scent of his favorite drink.
“I forgot how much you love coffee,” Jensen murmured as he leaned against the counter near Toby. “I’m going to have to stop by Simpson’s and grab my stuff.” He hesitated for a second then went on, “If you’re all right with me staying here, so I can start making up for running away all those years ago.”
What the hell am I doing? We’re acting like nothing happened. Like there isn’t this six year gap between us seeing each other. I slept with him last night instead of thinking about what he told me. That didn’t help anything except tell me the attraction’s still there. I need to think about things.
Toby took a deep breath then shook his head. “Actually, I think you need to leave, Jensen. I need to think about everything without you around.”
Disappointment and hurt crossed Jensen’s face, but he nodded. “All right. I guess I can understand that. I’ll get dressed and head out.”
As much as he wanted to grab a hold of Jensen and not let him leave the condo, Toby knew he had to go over things in his mind. He had to decide if he really wanted to give Jensen a chance or if he was going to allow Jensen to walk out of his life again.
“Wait. I need your number,” he told Jensen before he could leave the kitchen. Toby raced back to get his phone then returned to find Jensen hadn’t moved. He unlocked his phone, glancing up at Jensen. “All right. Give it to me.”
Jensen recited his number then asked, “Why would you want my number if you don’t want me around?”
“I didn’t say I never wanted to see you again, Jensen. I simply said I needed to think about the whole thing without you around to distract me. I need to know I can survive if you decide to up and leave me like you did last time.” Toby touched Jensen’s cheek. “Please, you’ve waited this long. Give me a chance to process all of this. I’ll call you tonight to let you know what I’ve decided. You don’t have to leave right away, do you?”
“No. I can stay for as long as it takes for you make up your mind.” Jensen stopped and seemed to think twice about what he was going to say next. “I’ll leave you to whatever you need to do.”
After moving out of the way, Toby watched Jensen disappear into the bedroom then leave. He bit his tongue to keep from begging Jensen not to get on the elevator. It would be too easy to welcome Jensen back into his life and take whatever Jensen wanted to give him. But Toby deserved better than a man who wandered in and out of his life and who disappeared with only a cryptic email.
How do I know he won’t do that again? Do I take his word that he’ll always come back?
He pulled up Simpson’s number and sent him a text.
Meet me at my place?
He grabbed his coffee mug, wandering into the living room where he dropped onto the couch to wait for Simpson’s answer.
Be there in twenty. Brockhoff still there?
No. Asked him to leave so I can think.
You fucked him, didn’t you?
Toby didn’t feel like answering that, so he chose to ignore it.
Can he stay with you?
Sure. Why not? It’s not like we hate each other or anything.
He rolled his eyes at that. Of course, Simpson and Jensen hadn’t been friends or anything when they all worked together. Yet why had he allowed Jensen to stay at his place when he’d shown up?
Letting his phone fall to the cushions next to him, he leaned back to stare up at the ceiling. Last night had proven that all the chemistry he’d felt with Jensen hadn’t faded over the years. In fact, it might have gotten more intense. Of course, some of that probably had to do with not having seen each other for a while.
Seeing the needle and cutting scars on Jensen’s arms had startled him. He regretted that he never knew how bad Jensen’s life had been back then, yet how could he have known when Jensen hadn’t said a word to him? In a way, he could understand why Jensen had chosen to break off all contact with the world that had driven him to such a terrible place in his life.
The ding of the elevator caused him to lift his head and he stared at the doors. Simpson stepped off. Toby frowned.
“That was quicker than twenty minutes,” he said as Simpson headed toward the kitchen.
“I was on my way home when you called. The chick I spent the night with doesn’t live too far from here,” Simpson called from where he was obviously getting a cup of coffee from the sounds of the cupboard opening and shutting.
“I should’ve known you wouldn’t be home when I text you.” He chuckled and Simpson wandered back to flop next to him. “Was she good?”
Simpson wiggled his eyebrows. “I got her number and will definitely be calling her again.”
Toby snorted but didn’t pursue that topic since he really didn’t care about the women Simpson slept with at the moment. What he wanted to do was dig into his heart and soul. He needed to know if taking Jensen back was the best thing for him.
After curling up, he turned to Simpson, asking, “What should I do?”
“About what? Jensen?” Simpson sipped his coffee as he studied Toby.
“No. About the coffee.” Toby huffed. “Yes about Jensen. He spent the night, but letting him back in my bed isn’t the same as letting him back in my life.”
Simpson grinned. “You mean back in your heart.”
Cringing, Toby closed his eyes. “I can’t believe I’m talking to you about this stuff.”
“Why? Because I’m straight? I can be in touch with my feelings, man.” Simpson poked him in the thigh.
“No, because we’re guys and we shouldn’t be talking about emotions and shit like that.” Toby took a deep breath. “I never got over him, Simpson. I never forgot how he made me feel and how much I hurt when he left.”
Simpson set his cup on the coffee table then took a hold of Toby’s hand. “Listen. I’m not sure trusting Jensen not to do the same thing he did before is the best idea. As much as I’d love to tell you to toss his ass to the curb and move on, I think you’ve already made up your mind.”
“I probably have.” Toby took a deep breath as he squeezed Simpson’s hand then said, “Let’s go have brunch and go to the farmer’s market. I need food and time to work some things out in my head.”
“Then time is what you’ll get, my friend. Go clean up and we’ll head out.” Simpson let go of his hand before reaching for his mug. “I’ll just rest here while you get ready.”
Toby patted Simpson on the shoulder. “Thanks, man. You’re a good friend.”
Simpson swatted at him. “I’m going to burn out on you by the middle of the afternoon, so you should get moving.”
Smiling, Toby headed to his room to grab some clothes. He’d spend the day with Simpson then call Jensen that night.
Toby paced while waiting for the elevator to bring Jensen up. He’d called and asked him to come over, plus he’d told him to bring his bag. He still wasn’t a hundred percent sure whether he was going to welcome Jensen back into his life on a more permanent basis, but he was willing to let him stay until Jensen either had to leave or Toby ultimately decided to break it off with him.
The ding brought his attention back to the foyer and excitement raced through him. It might have been foolish to be happy to see Jensen, but he was. After spending the entire day with Simpson, he’d learned that he really did want to give Jensen a chance to make it up to him for leaving like he did.
When Jensen stepped off the elevator, Toby grabbed his arm to tug him close enough to rest his shoulder against Jensen’s. “When do you have to leave?”
Jensen seemed surprised by the greeting but he dropped his bag to embrace Toby. “I have a climbing trip planned next month. We’re going to Japan and climbing Mount Fuji. It was supposed to be a chance for Cat, Jigger and me to cross that off our list of mountains we wanted to climb before we die. Then Cat had to go and get pregnant, so they’re not going.”
“Makes sense. God forbid if she fell and lost the baby.” If Toby had been inclined to have children with a woman, he’d have been overly protective of her as well. “I wouldn’t let her climb until after the baby was born.”
“I keep telling her that Jigger couldn’t help hovering, but she’s kind of independent, so it’s difficult for her.” Jensen nuzzled Toby’s jaw before trailing kisses up to his earlobe where he nibbled on it.
“Would you like to stay here until you leave for Japan?” Toby didn’t even think about how crazy it sounded for him to ask. “Or do you have a home to go back to?” He knew Jensen wasn’t in a relationship because Jensen wasn’t a cheater. Obviously he was a recovering alcoholic and addict, but he wouldn’t sleep with Toby if he’d been seeing anyone else.
“I have a trailer on Jigger’s property. I told them last night that I was going to ask you if I could stay with you.” Jensen cradled Toby’s face in his hands and met his gaze with a serious expression. “I have a lot to make up for, Toby, but I’m going to do my best to do so.”
Toby rested his forehead against Jensen’s. “Thank you for asking.”
Jensen chuckled but didn’t move away from him. “I don’t have any right to assume anything with you, love. I hoped you would say yes. Jigger’ll take care of my place for as long as I need.”