The Beast of Bodmin Moor
Phin sat, waiting for Jake to do returning with their toddies, wondering at all his world had become since…he took his tumble? Found his happy place? Crossed the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall? Bought his campervan? If Phin hadn’t done any of those things, would Jake still have found him? Somehow? It didn’t do mattering a jot, not really, when Phin had done them and here he was…but it was a smidge scary to think he might’ve done a dozen things different and missed the moment he was supposed to do meeting Jake. Phin knew he was being daft, but that had never done stopping him before, so why start now? It was still…comforting to think that Jake could have hunted him down…just as the girl at Glastonbury had. He must remember to do asking Jake about her flit in the night. It was unfathomable.
Much to Phin’s relief, his fretting was foiled by the mouth-watering whiff that wafted his way…followed by a sight even more luscious a few seconds later.
“One hot toddy…as ordered,” Jake grinned, upon entering the room with two steaming—
“Are we camping out?” Phin asked, shooting the tin cups a suspicious side-eye.
“Not unless you’d rather sleep in your van than my bed? I suspect you mean these though…” he twitched the articles in question afore continuing, “…in which case, I bought them after being splattered in the scalding contents of damn near every mug in the cottage. You won’t snap the handle off this if you clutch it too tight…” Jake added, handing him one of the drinks.
“Thank you…” Phin thought he’d better do practice-makes-perfecting, despite his tin training cup, so he did concentrating on his grip. “Hmm…I love this smell…” he sighed, snuffling the lazy curls of Baileys steeped steam.
“Thought you might, I caught a whiff of it earlier, almost as creamy as the satisfaction it accompanied,” Jake smiled, seating himself beside Phin on the sofa.
“P’raps I was thinking about your voice. That’s what it does smelling of…”
“Have you always…sensed things that way?” Jake did cocking his head, blurring fur and face for a mo in Phin’s mind. “You said I smelled a funny colour earlier.”
“I didn’t know it was odd for a long time…everything else was weirder in a louder way,” Phin admitted.
“Louder? More…obvious to other people?” Jake sounded as if he’d done guessing at something Phin hadn’t thought obscure. He could never tell…until told. No one thought him weird if he was alone, oddly nuff….but Jake didn’t seem to. Or, if he did, he didn’t seem to do minding.
“Does that make things…difficult for you?” Jake had gone all careful again, as if he’d done weighing his words on the way out.
“No…well, only when things—people—are too orange and make me all scratchy.”
“What colour am I?” Jake wondered, which was so unusual it made Phin do blinking a bit.
“Gold. Inside and out…which is spooky. Matching doesn’t happen much.”
“That sounds scratchy.” Jake said that in such an airy sort of way, he made it sound a ’reasonable’ reaction. That was just downright weird.
“Pretending I haven’t noticed gives me ants in my pants,” Phin nodded. “And honeybees in my bonnet.”
“Rather than wasps?” Jake’s grin was as far from waspish as his words.
“Yes…” Phin did returning it. “Bees buzz…wasps sting. They mean it. Honeybees just go about their business and just do stinging if they feel threatened. The price is too high…it kills them. Wasps don’t give a stuff, they sting for the hell of it. ”
Phin didn’t do mentioning the terrorists of the waspy world that nested in Jake’s head. That would be poking them with a sharp stick. Jake knew. Pointing out such stuff just did rubbing salt into people’s wounds. If it wasn’t for Jack, Phin suspected that sepsis would have set in by now. Jake did his damnedest not to know that. Scoundrel.
“Phin, if I make you feel uncomfy, promise you’ll tell me? I’m afraid I might inadvertently do something…scratchy that distresses you. ” He shouldn’t have to do worrying about that, it wasn’t fair. Phin couldn’t bear being a nuisance. That was another reason he did keeping his own company. He wanted to keep Jake’s though, which was fact so strange it seemed to have done circumventing all sorts of itchy-scratchy.
“Nothing you do makes me uncomfy, just things you don’t do, like telling me stuff I need to know to stop fretting. So, I promise…if you’ll do telling me when I’m driving you demented. That’s my very best thing, so you can’t claim otherwise. Are we having my bath now? I’ve finished my toddy.”
“Okay…it’s a deal. Don’t hold your breath though. Unless you’re underwater,” he winked, plucking the cup from Phin’s fingers. “I’ll go and run the bath…do you want to collect anything from your van? Toiletries…clothes…stuff you can’t bear being without?”
“I’m worried it will look like you’ll never be rid of me…” Phin admitted.
“Phin, which part of forever didn’t you quite catch? I don’t want to ‘be rid of you’. I’d never ‘demand’ that you stay—I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live with me—but I hope you’ll stay….for as long as you want to. There’s a spare bedroom, if you’d feel more comfy having a…safe place? Somewhere that’s just yours, so y’can…be alone if you need to. Or want to, whatever…”
Phin was too stunned to do speaking. Too staggered even to do blinking. He sort of sat, transfixed by Jake’s lips and the words tumbling from them in a rush. As if he was trying to sell Phin a bridge. Rather than offering him the world with his very own safe room in it.
“Too much?” Jake grimaced, when Phin’s face p’raps stayed frozen in saucer-eyed shock for a smidge too long.
“No…I…really? Cos, if you’re worried about PJ, I can do staying on the drive till—”
“Phin, close your eyes.” Uh oh. Phin’s lids had done snapping shut before Jake finished gong-bonging his order. “Now tell me what you sense.”
“You…the scent of your skin…” There was no ‘wrong spice’ to do detecting, just Jake’s sunshine musk and salted caramel smell. The creamy warmth of whiskey laced coffee…the heat of his body, the headiness of its proximity…the strong, steady thrum of his heart. A touch faster than usual, as if it was strung a tad too tight…suspense? Anticipation? Another niff…a new one Phin hadn’t noticed; too attuned to the top notes every instinct sought first. Apple pie? No; too much cinnamon and nutmeg, ’twas more… strudelly.
“Phin…will you stay?” His voice had dropped to a husky burr so pursuasive Phin felt sure it could do coaxing sap from trees.
A whisper of whiskey-cream preceded the feather-light press of plush lips to first Phin’s right eyelid, then his left…before melting against his mouth in a kiss so tender it left him buttery boned. And breathless, when Phin found himself flat on his back on the sofa, bowled over by an onslaught of skin and the intoxicating weight of Jake’s body.
“Shit, sorry!” he gasped, aghast.
“S’okay…I didn’t do ouching, you daftie.”
“Still, I should’ve—”
Phin did clasping the back of Jake’s head and crushed his lips down onto his own. The scoundrel was way too fond of tearing himself off a strip. Quite what that nugget of nonsense meant, Phin knew not, but he had found a very effective way to do skinning a cat. Shushing a canid was far more fun, though.