Mac was snatched from fitful slumber by the faintest impression of skin. He had lain listening to Joe’s too-leaden breaths for a long time before dozing off. Only for his eyelids to snap open what felt like seconds later…too many times to count. A sensation uncannily akin to being shoved off the edge of a cliff and swan-diving into an abyss of dread.
The knowledge that ‘nodding off’ was a common occurrence when the central nervous system was clobbered by a shot of smack? Handae counted for fuck-all to the adrenaline rush unleashed by the chilling tableau it presented.
If any doubt had lingered about the all-too obvious answer to who the fuck is Joe Fitzerald; the sight that suggested an horrific change of tense would’ve obliterated it. Mac had barely retained the presence of mind to check Joe’s vitals, as opposed to upending his bag on the bed to scrabble for the naloxone stashed in its ease-of-access side pocket. F’fucksakes.
Joe had been bundled off to Harley Street on his last day in London for an insurance medical—signed off as ‘satisfactory’ by his doctor—somehow. In layman’s terms? Better than they’d dared hope…but.
Mac’s constitution of an ox assessment hadn’t been entirely founded on Joe’s indefatigable erectile functionality. The urine test results had been as abysmal as the toxicity levels of Joe’s blood, but it hosted nothing more sinister than the usual suspects. It carried no further causes for concern, and Joe’s CD4 count was well within the normal range. He was not HIV positive. Mac hadnae totally lost his mind. A reassuring thought. Not.
“Joe..?” Mac mumbled from the semi-conscious state he’d been suspended in for fucknows how long. A limbo-land full of unthinkable fears. Unspeakable probabilities. Unwinnable wars.
“Hm?” That simple sound was the most responsive Joe had been since…he’d muttered ‘s’okay. I’m sleepy, s’all…’ and promptly passed out. It hadnae felt the slightest like healing sleep. Just a drug drenched, too-deep oblivion that could slip into a coma or…worse. Paranoia might’ve played its part in Mac’s fears, but that sure as hell didnae make them less valid. Statistics, science, and sheer common sense constituted an unholy trinity of terrible truths.
Joe-the-poster-boy for the perils of rock-star excess…let this be a lesson to you, kids. The press would pay a fucking fortune for the shot of the scene which greeted Mac when he walked through the attic door. A sum he’d known would sky-rocket into the stratosphere if the picture had shown Joe’s corpse.
Mac found himself clutching a thigh as long as it was lean, but far from cadaverous; as if to anchor Joe to a goddamned world that didn’t deserve—oh f’chrissakes. Mac snatched his hand away as if it had been scorched, only to tangle into tufty hair while crushing his mouth to startled, but instantly responsive lips. Lips he proceeded to ravage with a hunger as desperate as it was dangerous. To them both…and as inevitable as Joe’s next fix.
An arm was wound around Mac’s waist, but Joe didn’t push for more. Just splayed his palm across Mac’s skin; a fact that sent his hips snapping against Joe. A so-near, but oh, so frustrating slam of pants to steely flesh. The whimper of sound he swallowed was intoxicating as the responsive flex of Joe’s spine and the fingertips he slipped into Mac’s waistband. They’d no sooner done so, than stilled and Mac knew why, but he sure as hell didnae intend to object. The few fleeting hours he’d held off had felt like forever. The passing of time had somehow seemed to condense and yet simultaneously protract since he’d walked into Joe’s world…as if it too was seduced by the ebbs and flows of that mallifluent mind.
When Mac threw his weight forwards, those tentative fingers shot down the back of his briefs and clamped to his arse melding him to a body as molten as the liquid heat of Joe’s kisses. Mac was done waiting, done with prevaricating how best to do his job, done with every damned doubt that would flay him to the bone, tomorrow…could wait. He wanted Joe. Pure and simple. Joe, the too-everything for his own welfare client Mac was being paid to protect. He could do bloody both. He had to.
Planting his palms on the bed, Mac pushed himself up and clasped an arm to tug Joe onto his front, cutting off a cry of protest. His plans had unravelled faster than his scepticism that Joe would prove worth the furore—or fuss he inspired—let alone infamy. Mac’s single focus of intent had become shaking Joe to the core and snatching up all he could along the way. If that wasnae far off plunder and pillage, Mac didnae give a crap. He had a purge to plot yet.
In the meantime, Mac had an occupation to establish…
The fur would undoubtedly fly when Joe found himself a damn sight safer than he’d ever hoped. Ah well, he had a job to do, after all… One Mac couldnae help but relish as he set about proving the indispensable perks of ‘security’.
“Need you…” A halting plea that speared Mac’s heart with a shaft of guilt. Fuck, he hadnae meant to torture Joe into supplication. And yet, his mood swings were so mercurial, the moment Mac felt as if he’d got some sort of grip, the miscreant pulled the entire floor from beneath his feet.
“Me, or this…?” Mac demanded, yanking his pants clear of his cock to park it like a bloody bike between Joe’s cheeks. All-but blowing his own mind in the process.
“Yess…” A ghost of a word, barely above a breath, but its effect on Mac was the blast of a blowtorch.
“P’raps…in the bedside table?”
Mac scrambled off the bed, dispensed with his half-mast briefs and switched the lamp on. The drawer seemed most probable, so he tugged it open to find a jam-packed treasure trove of…fucknows what. All that mattered was the lube…buried beneath it. A fact that did suggest Joe had told the truth earlier.
“Aye?” he responded, trying to cram the ton of stuff back in.
“I-you’re…beautiful…” Joe’s tone was as bewildering as the word he’d uttered.
“You’re bonk—” The rest died in Mac’s throat when he clocked Joe’s expression. Wonder? That couldnae be right, it was those flamin’ eyes; too wide to be human and too bewitching for…both their welfares.
“Mac, please…” Joe rolled them up to Mac’s face, clobbering him with black holes of ineffable need. Dragging Mac to his doom…aided and abetted by a torrent of inner claptrap. Apparently.
“Tell me what you want…” Mac rasped, his voice stripped to a husk of its former self. Rather like his sanity.
“You. Whatever I can have…”