Mac headed downstairs to make himself a hot toddy while Joe ‘sorted himself out’ before bed.
Having somehow agreed to the monster’s earlier suggestion (most likely in a post-orgasm moment of madness aided by sheer exhaustion), Mac figured it would be wisest to make himself scarce for a few minutes. Not least when he knew damn well that if he had to witness the sight of Joe shooting up, he’d throw a fucking fit. He couldnae be responsible for his own actions if forced to watch Joe inflict what felt like a dance with death closer to the final curtain on himself .
“I have no idea how many, let’s call them ‘members of your entourage’, you’ve treated as toys to discard when you’re bored of playing with them…”
His own words were howling through his head like an arctic wind; so bitter cold, they should by rights, have chapped his lips on their way out. Mac hadnae intended them to sound so harsh, but despite deploring that they had, he wouldnae retract them if he could. He’d meant them. Had needed to impress that fact upon Joe…before Mac found himself snarling them in Joe’s face when they’d corroded his ability to suppress them.
They had, at least, served the fuck-off façade all too well. Mac hadnae been sure where the mask ended and the man began, before today. Nor had he wanted to, suspecting that knowledge would be the polar opposite of power. Being proved correct was no consolation at all.
Mac had spent a decade clad in the meticulous image he’d constructed to thrive in the career he’d chosen. Survival was paramount of course, but once he’d done his utmost to ensure that, it hadnae proved sufficient. He’d wanted to be the best in the business, the superlative ‘bad-ass’ on the books. Bad-ass, f’fucksakes.
He’d been hell bent on McCafferty being the byword for lethal cool in a crisis. The go-to-guy in worst-case scenarios. A hair-trigger temper and rage eveready to rescue him when imperative had propelled Mac to the top of his profession. A fact that didnae bode well for the safety of those touting their wares on the celebrity circuit, but there was bugger all he could do about that. Bodyguarding…kept him busy. He’d rather be doing something a damn sight less tedious, but a life spent exclusively taking out the trash wasnae wise if you wished to retain some semblance of humanity. Hostage situations were more satisfying, but less frequent, as a freelancer. Honour alone dictated that Mac wasnae about to tread on the toes of his former fellow Blades.
The words he’d spat at Joe may have sounded frigid with cold and barren of feeling, but they’d been far from it. Freeze-dried in fear was nearer the truth.
“Considering me a shiny new acquisition would be…foolish.”
Sheer snark had made that a reprimand, ringing with contempt. Rather than a plea, drenched in dread. Christ, he was pitiful. Why hadn’t Joe told him to fuck off? Why let Mac get away with such crap, when Joe had plenty of people more than willing—nay, eager—to do his bidding? Mac couldnae bring himself to believe that was precisely why. It was too base, too simplistic a reason. The real reason was much more complex—it had to be—because Joe was.
How he’d love to learn the secrets, dreams and fears writ so large in those eyes; luminous with liquid light that defied their dark depths. Blinding him to their truths; all Mac could see was his own incompetence, mirrored back.
So, why the hell was he humming while drizzling honey into his whisky? For all the world as if Mac was dead set on flinging himself into the flames of his own downfall? He was pouring hot water into his drink when it registered that said ditty was uncannily akin to the melody Joe strummed earlier. Too much like it for comfort, if he had any sense.
Mac McCafferty, bad-ass extraordinaire, was still humming as he dropped a cinnamon stick into his toddy before giving it a stir and lifting it to his lips.
It was with a fulsome sigh of relief that Joe gave himself over to the shimmer of serenity stealing through his veins, suffusing him in peace. Lids heavy. Head light. Heart sore…no more. His eyes fluttered shut…up, up and away, he wafted. Off to the velvet cocoon of a cotton wool world and nowhere he need be. Nothing Joe must do, say, hear, feel, think. No fears or self-flagellation. No coulda-woulda-shoulda done anything at all…
O those eyes of tourmaline green
That flinty glint, agleam with mean
Glimmering with a lethal sheen
Dangerous with dark desire
Tempered rage and deadly ire,
Ablaze with lust and bad-ass fire…
No reason why
Nor why not
One last shot
To be or not
Cool fingers at his brow, sweeping sweaty strands aside. Cupping Joe’s face…still so fuggy they felt…tender…and yet, steadfast, sure…
“Look at me…”
“Hmm…” Joe forced his heavy lids apart to peer up into…“Green…”
“Okayyy. You’re going to get a crick neck propped up like that, can you lie down?”
“Yeah.” Mac nodded, sending a frond of fringe tumbling in front of one eye, trembling in the light. Light? It should be night. “’Kay…Stay…”
“I told you I’m staying. C’mon, lie on your side…safer, just in case…” Hendrix?
“‘Kay…” Joe agreed.
“Go on, then,” Mac grinned.
“Oops, I forgot.”
“Christ, we’ll be here all day…” Mac’s eyes rolled aloft with a tut, peasants…sort of sigh. The world is full of ’em. What can y’do…?
Then the bad-ass straightened up and strode to the end of the bed, gripped Joe’s ankles and tugged. Hard. Wheeee….it was a somewhat swift lie down, it must be said. There was a moment, just before Joe’s ankles were clamped in a death grip, when he noticed Mac was only sporting a pair of pants. A fact that proved beyond all doubt the distracting superpowers of that flinty glint. They were tighty-whities, at that…an even more staggering feat.
“Is the window open?” Joe asked, squinting up at it, as bleary as can be…
“The window?” It was behind Mac. Oddly ’nuff. Turning a tad, he glanced over his shoulder, thus presenting Joe with the profile of the most perfect posterior on the planet. “No, it’s not. Aren’t you cold?”
“I’m all flushed, s’hot in here.”
“If you want it opening, the room could do with a bit of bloody fresh air.”
Do I want Mac to open it? Oohh. Decisions, decisions…
It was about level with Mac’s face, requiring a wee stretch…and a bit of a jiggle, being a smidge sticky an’ all. A bit of a no-brainer, t’be sure. Having a bad-ass was better than telly.
Just watching Mac walk was an untold pleasure. Golden globes tightly encased in brighty-whities, wiggling off to the window. The muscles of his back danced, gliding beneath burnished skin as the devilish dimples winked in saucy appreciation. Up went sinewy arms, the taut tush tightened, munching on the pants in the process. Blimey…and the jiggling was yet to come…hmm. ’Twas like watching twin mole hills under a blanket of snow, just before they popped up to play.
“What’re you cooking up now?” Mac asked, eyes narrowing with suspicion when he turned to face Joe.
“Me? Nothing.” No fibbing. At all. The buns had already risen…to the occasion. Splendidly. It was a good job Joe was lying on his side. He shifted his top leg a tad, shielding all evidence of here’s one I prepared earlier…
“Come to bed, before you fall over. It must be, what…eight, nine, in the morning?”
“Yeah…’kay.” Mac raked a hand through his still damp hair (so Joe couldn’t have nodded off for long) before letting his arm flop down. Shoulders slumping as he surrendered to exhaustion.
The front view was every bit as glorious as the back, in truth (still being the order of the day, no doubt). Bone structure hewn from bronze, his buzzed undercut with trailing tendrils on top; seal slick and darker when wet, as dark as the twerk of those lips. A lean, mean, fighting machine, taut ‘n’ twinkly nipples begging to be tongued to attention. Laterwards. He needed some sleep. Mac seemed, for once, to agree. He did, at least lift his left leg to clamber onto the bed, which was a start. After cocking it across Joe’s calves, Mac stretched out behind him. Paradise. Inches away.
“Yeah?” He craned his neck toward Mac, peering over his shoulder.
“Promise.” His eyes gleamed malachite bright while searching Joe’s.
“Promise. I’ll stay here…it’s easy ’nuff to be sure I have…” Joe aimed for airy, with not a jot of pleeease snuggle up and spoon me. He was somehow sure Mac would startle from slumber if the proverbial pin was dropped. It was prob’ly part of the training; if you didn’t stir, it was stabbed in your eyeball. Alertness, Lad! Stay sharp, stay alive. Or something such.
“Yeah…but then you’ll think I don’t trust you.” Mac sighed.
“Y’don’t,” Joe smirked.
“True, but y’know what I mean…”
“I think so? Mac…?”
“Will you…hold me?”
Mac nodded, a wee twitch of his head and swallowed visibly. Adam’s apple bobbing up and down so temptingly Joe yearned to chase it with his tongue. Then the import of that nod hit him and Joe blinked, bewildered. Had Mac just agreed? To spoon him, with nary a quibble? Did Mac want to? Snuggle up beside Joe? Smack was playing havoc with his heartstrings, it had to be.
Joe knew not. It was very hard to care when a strong, sure arm encircled his waist and Mac wriggled a bit closer to Joe’s body, which felt as if it might go off like a fire alarm. The bad-ass held his hips at bay—a mite, not much—his cock wasn’t wedged between Joe’s cheeks, despite tightening his arm a tad.
Joe’s whole self all-but sighed with serendipity. “Thank you…for everything.”
“Y’welcome…” Mac mumbled. His huffs of breath were a warm caress, nuzzling Joe’s nape. Then. Impossibly, Joe felt the soft press of lips to oh, so sensitive skin, sparking a sizzle down his spine.
“Hmm...Sleep tight, Mac.”
There. Strewth. Joe’s medal had better be in the bloomin post.