Divide & conquer, p.21
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       Divide & Conquer, p.21

         Part #4 of Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
Page 21


  Zane leaned sideways and laid his head against Tys shoulder. “Whats my name again?” he murmured, still spinning. It was really hard to stop being dizzy when he couldnt focus his eyes on something to halt the motion.

  Ty began to chuckle, though the sound was an exhausted one. “Thatll learn ya,” he drawled, obviously pleased with himself. Zane reached up to pet Tys thigh and then splayed his hand in the curve of Tys elbow just below where he rested his head. Tys arm snaked around his shoulders and squeezed him tightly. He pressed a kiss to Zanes forehead, then buried his nose in Zanes hair and inhaled deeply.

  “You know I dont care if you eat at that damn restaurant, right?” Ty murmured, his voice low and affectionate and oddly gentle after what theyd just done.

  Zane turned his chin enough to press a kiss against Tys collarbone as pleasant warmth filled him. “You know Ive never even looked at him, right?”

  Ty was silent for a long moment. Finally he turned his head and said, “Appropriate time for a blind joke here, or is it too soon?” Zane snickered and jabbed at Tys ribs. “Jerk. ” Ty laughed quietly, the sound warm and reassuring, as he nuzzled his nose into Zanes hair again. When the laughter ebbed, Zane realized Ty was holding his breath, and something about the slight tremble to Tys body made Zane feel that Ty wanted to speak again. It wasnt the first time Zane had noticed it, and suddenly Zane realized what Ty was keeping himself from saying in moments like this:

  I love you. Zane squeezed his eyes shut and kissed Tys shoulder again, resisting the urge to crawl into Tys lap and do whatever he had to in order to get Ty to say it again. He wanted to hear it again, just once, after all these weeks, now that it meant so much more, now that Zane had acknowledged to himself that he knew what the leaden weight in his chest was. Now that he might be able to believe what he felt for Ty was real and not just a result of circumstance and proximity. Now that Zane needed courage he couldnt quite find to take that final step and deliberately fall.

  “You okay?” Ty asked quietly. “I didnt hurt you, did I?”

  Zane actually wasnt sure, but he shook his head anyway. “Floors cold,” he whispered as he shivered, and he recognized the source of that reaction. He was scared. There. Hed admitted it. He was scared, terribly scared, because Ty loved him and Zane didnt know how to handle it when he couldnt even explain how he felt himself because he was still digging through fear and guilt about the past and trying to justify reaching for the future he so desperately wanted….

  “Yeah,” Ty agreed contentedly. His fingers played with Zanes hair, his body relaxed against Zanes. He seemed perfectly happy to just sit there and hold Zane for the rest of the night. He cleared his throat and moved his chin to rest it on top of Zanes head. “Were never going to find that lube,” he muttered in wry amusement.

  “Well get more,” Zane murmured, gears still spinning as he tried to deal with the questions and uncertainty crashing down on him. Somewhere in it all was a pang of upset: wasnt loving someone supposed to be a happy thing? He cursed his innate habit of analyzing everything to death and turned his face into Tys arm. “How about bed?” he suggested quietly. “Id…. ” He shivered again.

  Tys chin moved again, and Zane got the impression Ty was peering down at him. “Youd what?” Zane bit his lip for a moment before answering. “Id really like you to hold me for a while,” he whispered. It felt odd to say it like that, something so innocuous yet meaningful.

  “I dont know… youre all sweaty,” Ty said with mock distaste. He pressed his mouth and nose to Zanes cheek and smiled so Zane could feel it. He inhaled deeply, growling on the exhale. “You smell good, though. ”

  The weight on Zanes chest let up a little as Ty kept his response light. Zane wasnt sure what hed been expecting. He reached out to drag his fingers down Tys chest to his belly, where Zanes come had smeared between them. “Could shower first,” he offered.

  “No point in that,” Ty murmured. “Yet. ”

  Zane grunted inquisitively. Ty smiled against his cheek again, then pulled his arm away and pushed himself to his feet with a groan. “Oh my God,” he bemoaned. “Im too old for that. ”

  “Ha!” Zane scoffed from the floor. “As the man eight-plus years older than you who just got fucked to the point of not being able to remember to breathe, I disagree. ”

  Tys hand found his and pulled him to his feet. He pulled Zane closer despite both of them still being sticky and kissed him chastely. “Are you complaining?” Ty asked seriously.

  “Not even a tiny bit,” Zane murmured as he found his physical balance. He leaned closer into Tys arms, seeking the comfort he craved and needed for his emotional balance, which felt like an unbolted teeter-totter.

  “Good. Cause that took a lot of energy,” Ty said with obvious amusement. He let his hand slide down Zanes arm, and he took his hand. “Come on. I want to keep you in bed long enough for that pasta to go bad. ”

  GRAHAM stood on the sidewalk, staring wide-eyed at the door. What the hell kind of fight were those guys having? He held the envelope between damp fingers. Hed written it quickly. Hed wanted to follow Mr. Garrett and his friend, but hed missed them leaving the restaurant while hed been washing dishes. He had been so panicked for a moment hed almost told Leticia that he needed to go after them, but then hed overheard Ryan talking about delivering to Mr. Garretts and realized they had to have his address in the delivery logs. Turned out his place was only a block away, close enough he could walk there on his break, and so he had, shaky but determined.

  Graham had to tell someone what Pierce was doing. Who better than an FBI agent who couldnt see his face to identify him? But now, standing here, listening to what sounded like a violent disagreement inside, Graham was having second thoughts. The door actually rattled as someone pounded on it erratically. Well, the other dude had looked awfully angry when they were at Chiapparellis.

  Graham swallowed hard, steeled himself, and gripped the confession in his fist as he stepped up to the door. He wouldnt knock, because there was no way he was going to interrupt whatever epic battle was going on inside, so he smoothed the letter out with shaking hands and slipped it under the door.

  It got stuck in the rubber doorstop and wouldnt push all the way under. Graham cussed to himself and shoved it harder. It crinkled up, and he stopped. Another bang and thump against the door followed by what sounded like a shout of pain made him jump back, and he looked up at the door, heart hammering in his throat. The letter wasnt going anywhere, but he sure as hell was.

  He turned and jogged to the corner and around the block, back to the restaurant and safety.

  Chapter Nine

  Z ANE shifted as he came awake. He was warm, half-wrapped in the sheet, but something was missing. He frowned and reached out, his hand catching on the rucked-up quilt before coasting over the cool sheet beside him. Zane pushed himself up on one elbow as he started to rub at his eyes. After a moment, he made himself stop. It wasnt like it was going to help. He still couldnt see anything. His chest clenched painfully.


  “Im here,” Ty grunted from somewhere near the edge of the bed. He sounded like his head was down, his voice hoarse.

  “You okay?”

  “Yeah, just… restless,” Ty answered, his voice lacking its usual liveliness, even if he had just woken. “Couldnt sleep. ”

  “You could go for a run,” Zane suggested. Sometimes getting Ty up and moving helped.

  “I was thinking about going to the office,” Ty countered, sounding guilty. Zane frowned. “Thought Mac told you to stay home. If he sees you, hell get that pinched look on his face, like he bit into a lemon or someone twisted his shorts. ”

  “Thats how he always looks when he sees me,” Ty muttered, almost under his breath. “Im sorry. I just cant sit here anymore. I need to find someone to bully into telling me whats happening. ”

  It had been all of one day. Zane shook his head and made a menta
l note to stock up on shiny things to divert Ty the next time they lucked into vaca—time off from hell together. “Yeah, okay,” he said as he pushed at the sheet to untangle it from his legs.

  “Do you want to come?” Ty offered uncertainly. “If I can find Alston, I can blackmail him into giving me something. It wont take long. ”

  “I think Ill pass on actually going in,” Zane muttered. He didnt want to be around anyone like this. Not yet. “Blackmail?” “Long story. Involves a duck and a can of oregano. ”

  “Dont tell it, please. ”

  He felt Tys hand on his arm, rubbing comfortingly. Ty had been unusually tactile since the hospital, making up for Zanes lack of vision by touching him whenever he was able, as if he somehow knew how much it helped. Zane closed his eyes, grateful for it. He covered Tys hand and squeezed gently. It was easy to think black thoughts when you were stuck in the dark, and Tys touch helped him resist it. “Breakfast first?”

  “Sure, why not,” Ty replied easily. Zane felt him lurch off the bed, and when he spoke again, he sounded like he was stretching. Zane had an immediate vision of Tys lean, nude body in the dim light of the bedroom, and he flushed with warmth, not really registering the words when Ty said, “Ill go start it up. ”

  He listened as Ty got dressed, probably throwing on his jeans and one of his numerous T-shirts. Zane didnt hear him pad out of the bedroom, but he could hear him banging around in the kitchen, cussing at the tiny, run-down space, talking to the pots and pans. Zane smiled. There were reasons they spent most of their time together at Tys row house instead of here.

  By the time he got up and moving, Zane could hear the bacon sizzling, and the smell of sausage wafting out of the small kitchen area made his mouth water. He could smell the toast, too, and knowing Ty, there would be scrambled eggs. Ty didnt cook a lot, but the man could fix a mean breakfast. Zane made a stop in the bathroom and then sat at the bar that separated the kitchen from the little living area.

  “You know what I realized?” Ty asked, picking up the conversation hed been having with the pots as if Zane had been there for the first half of it. “I dont have a car. ”

  Zane opened his mouth to correct him but caught himself. Theyd taken a cab home from the hospital, and the office had sent a car for Ty yesterday. “Wheres my truck? You didnt bring it back yesterday?” Theyd walked around the block to the restaurant for dinner last night; Zane had assumed Ty had put the truck in the Little Italy parking garage when he came back from the office.

  “That rookie I made drive me to the hospital took the keys. Trucks still parked at the office. Thats another reason for me to go in today. ”

  “Maybe one of the guys can pick you up?” “Its past nine. Everyones already in. Hell, Ill just take a cab or ride the bus or something. ” Something about his voice was odd as he stood in Zanes kitchen fixing breakfast, and it took Zane a little thinking to pin it down. Ty didnt sound gruff or hurried. He didnt sound agitated or even all that concerned. He was at ease despite the need to get up and go. It made Zane a little nervous, but in a good way.

  “Whats wrong?” Ty asked him, apparently picking up on it. “Its not exactly like Im going to be attacked on the bus. ” Zane shook his head, still reconciling the warmth curling in his chest with the idea that Ty might be happy here, just doing something as simple as making breakfast. “I have no idea what the schedule is around here,” he said.

  “Ill figure something out. Come eat,” Ty said, and Zane heard a plate set down on the bar in front of him. “Wonder how a gun on public transportation goes over? Or two guns, for that matter. ”

  Zane slid onto the battered bar stool and had a stroke of inspiration. “You do have another option,” he mentioned.

  “Oh yeah? You know I cant really sprout wings out of my ass and fly, right?” Ty asked, a smile in his voice.

  A smirk pulled at Zanes lips, and he let it show. He loved teasing Ty, and this one always got him riled. “The Valkyries out back. ” Ty coughed and sputtered, like he was choking on a bite of food. “Hell, no,” he finally said with difficulty. “Ill walk. ” Zane chuckled and felt around for the fork hed heard Ty clank onto the plate. It was mean, but he loved poking Ty about the Valkyrie. He supposed he shouldnt, what with knowing about Deuce and the accident. Ty had taught his younger brother how to ride and left him his bike when he joined the Marines. Deuce had wrecked it not long after, ruining his leg and any chance of following in his brothers footsteps. But Deuce seemed to take it all in stride, so Zane didnt really see the harm in teasing Ty about his absolute hatred of all things with two wheels. “Okay,” he said after several mouthfuls of scrambled egg. “Bureau wont reimburse cab fare,” he reminded, just to get in one more dig.

  “Thats okay,” Ty assured him in an overly sweet voice. “Ive got your wallet. ”

  Zane grinned. “I dont have any cash. When have I been able to go to the bank?” he said reasonably as he munched on a piece of bacon. “Cabs take credit cards,” Ty reminded. Zane wrinkled his nose. “Fine,” he said on a sigh. “Can I have jelly for my toast?” He heard a jar clink down on the bar, and Ty was grumbling. Not really understandably, but obviously irritated now.

  “I havent been on a bike in twenty years,” he said, more to himself than to Zane. “Maybe not a good idea, then,” Zane allowed reluctantly. He could see Ty on the Valkyrie, and it was a gorgeous vision to think about. But this wasnt a do-or-die situation, like playing chicken with a New York City taxicab. Zane shivered as he momentarily felt his stomach drop just at the memory.

  Ty sighed heavily. “I guess it is a better option than walking my happy ass out of the city,” he mumbled.
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