Mac stood, deliberating for a moment, then flicked the lamp off. Submerging the attic in moonlight and shadow; enclosing them in the embrace of Joe’s sanctuary from the world. A world that felt so far away, it seemed absurd that Mac could just get in the car and drive down a leafy lane back to the real one, in a matter of minutes.
The darkness served purposes more…personal. Shrouded truths Mac couldnae afford to disclose, when that devouring gaze gleaned what might prove impossible to hide. Scuppering Mac’s battle-plan before it began.
“Joe…” he murmured, clambering onto the bed to straddle endless legs after lavishing his pertinent parts in lube. Bending low, he whispered words he knew full well were a last ditch attempt to get a grip on…fucknows what. Himself, Joe, the reins? Before Mac tossed them to the wind. He sure as hell couldn’t endure his own arsing about for much longer. Nor delay the decimation of his principles, pride, and—in all probability—the single advantage Mac had left…having pretty much tossed every weapon into play and called them tactics. A not-the-least-subtle bombardment of every-bloody-thing he could think of; chucked at Joe with all the clinical precision of a chimpanzee playing chess. To put the tin hat on this cluster-fuck of ineptitude? Mac hadnae counted on just how enchanting the shrapnel would prove.
“This what you wanted?” Mac had a dim recollection of snarling, in an effort to pretend some mastery over the situation…when, in truth, he’d already lost. Not least his mind. Clearly not content with that, Mac then trounced himself by being unable to bear hammering away at Joe’s arse in the dark. As if that’s all he merited—in lieu of being offered a choice to plump for it—the least intimate option. Mac had never been so grateful for the veil of darkness when he dragged himself from Joe’s body and flipped him onto his back.
This while knowing damn well how dangerous—downright foolish—it was, even as he did it. It being far too…intensely personal. Too…exposing. Exactly what Mac should guard against. Too revealing. Too impossible to resist.
He’d wanted those legs wrapped around his neck from the moment he’d clapped eyes on them. Long before (probably about thirty seconds and three weeks: JoeMeanTime) Mac had clasped them, sodden with suds, to his chest. Soaking his shirt with heat—boiling the blood in his veins—while hefting Joe out of the bath.
The sex itself? Had almost blown Mac’s goddamn mind. Did he regret it? He should. He didn’t. Joe deserved better than that. Life being a bitch? Joe had landed himself a ‘bad-ass’ bastard instead. About the best Mac could do now was ensure Joe lived to regret it.
The fact that Joe had, somehow, proved a revelation was—in retrospect—the least staggering aspect of all. Every indication had led Mac to suspect that Joe craved submission, of sorts. While he hadnae been wrong, he sure as hell hadn’t been right, either. As beguiling in bed as out of it, Joe had managed to seem malleable; all fluid lines and incendiary sighs. This while being, without a shadow of doubt, the most demanding of lovers, without expressing a single preference. Or asking for fuck all.
How? Might remain a mystery until the end of time…which suited Mac just fine. A statement he wasnae the slightest keen on examining more closely. For self-preservation purposes. One of them had to stay sane, after all…if only for appearances sake.
None of which explained why Mac was now splayed across Joe, plastered to sweat ‘n’ sticky skin, and hadnae so much as prised his cheek off Joe’s chest. They’d be glued together before Mac fathomed what the fuck was happening to him. Keeping Joe safe was the work of a SWAT team; Mac needed his head in the game, not up his own arse.
“Are you still staying? Or, have you…had ’nuff now?” Joe’s voice, always soft, had never sounded so small.
“Are you fishing?” Mac murmured, hoping his smile was louder.
“Fishing?” Joe’s bewilderment all-but shrieked. Why? When the truth was so beyond obvious as to be embarrassing. How could Joe not know?
Unless, of course, Mac was fooling himself and Joe hadnae felt whateverthefuck had just…what? Shattered a belief Mac had enshrined as fact and clung to with every fibre of his being? That he was a stone cold killer. Dead, or as near as dammit, where it mattered to most people. Mac was many things, but he’d never been deluded; guilty of far worse, but never that. Quite the opposite. His glass had never been fuller than half-empty.
Mac was bloody good at his job. Or he’d be dead. Facts. He sure as hell hadnae been lucky. Luck didnae live in the world Mac inhabited. You planned with meticulous precision, paid attention, outmanoeuvred, outfought, outwitted and, as a last resort (or first) outright eliminated the enemy. Unless you had a death wish.
In Mac’s line of work, veering from tried and trusted techniques tended to prove fatal. Or worse, you were tortured and survived to tell the tale. In which case, you’d traded your sorry arse for someone else’s.
How could Joe think for a second that Mac was capable of leaving him now? Quite aside from sex, the last time a client had needed someone to have his back as goddamn much as Joe? There’d been a laser sight trained on it. Mac sure as hell wasnae wearing body armour now. A moot point, when that wouldn’t change a bloody thing. Nor his own actions in an effort to protect Joe. Even from himself. Mostly from himself.
So, why the hell would Joe ask something so preposterous, if he wasnae fishing?
“Well, that seemed the only reason you might ask.” Mac fudged, adding, “Of course, I’m staying, I told you I was.”
“But that was…before. You said: ‘I want you and I’m taking you. Simple as that.’ Well, now you have.” Joe’s shoulders bunched in a shrug beneath Mac. “So, I thought p’raps you might be…done with me now.”
Done with him? Mac was still inside him, f’chrissakes. He would have shifted himself; been to mop-up and smoked his post shag cig by now, if that were true.
“Fuck. Joe, I didn’t mean-I-shit. Surely you can’t believe that, not after…?” Mac couldnae finish that thought. Admit that much. “Unless, it was just—?” Nor that. “Shit. I need a smoke. And a drink. You?” Mac eased back and shoved himself up, lest he carry on digging. A feat far easier to pull off than disentangling himself from an excessive array of limbs.
“Unless it was ‘just’ what?”
“Just a shag cos you cannae last ’til we’re back in London. Where you’ll have access to as many ‘distractions’ as you wish?” Mac sighed, raking his hand through his hair, which felt disgusting.
“No! I-won’t you shag me there?”
“How many goddamn distractions d’you need?” Mac spat in (what he tried to tell himself was) disgust, but felt horribly like fury. Except, his guts were churning, rather than seething with rage.
“But I don’t want ‘distracting’. I want— Mac, why are you miffed?” Joe interrupted himself to ask, propping himself onto his elbows just as Mac switched the lamp on. Mostly so he wouldnae be forced to navigate the landmine infested floor in the dark. At least he’d binned the bloody needle. Smokes. Where were the sodding cigs?
“I’m not ‘miffed’. I’m pissed off,” he grunted.
“Why? You’re very distracting when you’re pissed off did I do something wrong?” Joe segued straight into the latter without pause for breath, throwing Mac off his stride.
“Joe, I will distract you to fucking death if you don’t shut up.” He growled, too disarmed (demented) to rustle up a more rational reply.
“That’d be a very fine way to go, methinks. Oops. Shutting.” The monster added, before clamping his lips in a tight line and performing the zipping gesture.
Oh f’chrissakes…Mac should probably just slaughter one of them now, for efficiency’s sake. It would save time.