Divide & conquer, p.28
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       Divide & Conquer, p.28
 

         Part #4 of Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
Page 28

 

  Ty crawled up Zanes body to kiss him again, slow and languid, before flopping over to his side with a groan to lie next to him, replete and sweaty. Left gasping, Zane squeezed his eyes shut, feeling like hed lost his mind while erratic jolts of sensation continued to shoot through him.

  “Why dont you go get us a towel, huh?” Ty teased in the darkness. Zane quietly shushed him, soaking in the aftermath of the major explosion. Damn. When had Ty last fucked him so well? He bit his lip and pressed his cheek against the sheet, relaxing that last little bit and just breathing. It still terrified him, the way Ty could make him feel, the way need could become utter desperation.

  “Hmph. ” Ty moved, bouncing the mattress as he rolled away and flattened out in what had to be a sulk. The disgruntled sound made Zane smile. He sat up and scooted over, right up against Ty, hands on him to find him. Zane leaned over and kissed the corner of Tys mouth.

  “Better,” Ty purred as he turned his head into it. Zane smiled wryly and leaned over again, this time pressing his lips to the very corner of Tys eye, then nuzzling at his temple. With a sigh, he lay back down and rolled to his side, and Ty followed to wrap around him from behind like it was choreographed. If they stayed like that long enough, their bodies pressed together, the smell of sex permeating the sheets, Zane knew theyd be fucking again.

  Not that he was complaining. But he heard Ty exhale contentedly, and in mere seconds Tys breathing evened out, his body relaxed, and he fell asleep with Zane neatly folded up in his arms.

  Before drifting off himself, Zane lay there, consciously savoring the embrace and idly entertaining thoughts of how he was more than happy to be right there in Tys arms, every night.

  Chapter Eleven

  T Y SAT and watched Nick and Digger argue over the dartboard, his chin held in his hand as he leaned on the table. He was smiling crookedly without caring he was doing it. This was the playbook they usually followed. Go out, start drinking in some nice, respectable dive, then get into a meaningless argument over something stupid that would create chaos and mayhem around them and eventually get them kicked out.

  Right now the debate was whether the tip of the dart had hit the green or the red. Of course the dart had been yanked out several minutes ago, so it was a pointless argument and both Digger and Nick knew it. They were both grinning as they called each other creative names and pointed their darts in each others faces.

  Ty smiled wider as he watched them. The waitress brushed his shoulder and set a basket full of hot wings down on the table. He looked up at her and nodded. “Thank you,” he murmured.

  She smiled and put a hand on his shoulder. “You boys need anything else?” she asked, keeping her hand there as she moved behind him.

  Ty arched an eyebrow as he looked across the table at Owen and Kelly. They both answered the waitress with shakes of their heads and muttered “no, maams. ” Ty shook his head as well and craned his neck to look up at her. “Thank you, darlin,” he said softly.

  “Any time, sweetie,” she answered, the flirtatious undertone to the words hard to miss. She smiled as she let her hand slide off his shoulder and moved away. The touch felt good, and Ty let himself enjoy the attention. He didnt respond to it like he would have a year ago, though.

  Nick whistled low as he pulled out his chair and sat with a thump beside Ty. “And youre waiting for what?” he asked Ty as he watched the pretty little waitress move away.

  Ty cocked his head at her appreciatively as she moved through the crowded bar, then sighed and turned back to the table, propping his elbows on the scarred wooden top and reaching for a stick of celery out of the wing basket. “I guess Ive slowed down in my old age,” he told them wryly before crunching down on the celery.

  Nick raised a disbelieving eyebrow as he leaned closer. Ty glanced at him and looked away quickly before the man could read anything in his face. Nick knew him all too well, though. He knew when to call bullshit.

  “Tell us,” Nick ordered with a wide grin. Ty glanced at him, trying to judge his mood. This was the perfect opportunity to tell Nick and the others the truth. Hed come close to confessing to his best friends dozens of times over the years, telling them he was bi or even that as he grew older, he was beginning to realize that he definitely preferred men over women. The fear of being exposed and kicked out of the military and then simply the fear of losing them, especially Nick, had always stopped him. But the military was behind him, and if they were the men Ty thought they were, they wouldnt care. Ty reminded himself that if he could tell Zane he loved him, he could do just about anything.

  “Grady? What arent you telling us?” Nick asked quietly. Ty winced. “I never was good at hiding much from you,” he said in resignation. Nick laughed, shaking his head. Ty held his breath and glanced at the others.

  “Garrett and I…. ” Ty put his palm to his chin and swiped at it, glancing down at the table nervously and then looking up at Nick as he tried desperately not to back out. Nicks green eyes were on him, watching him with a mixture of confusion and concern. “Were a little bit more than partners. ”

  Nick shook his head, frown lines deepening. “I dont understand, man. What does that mean?”

  Ty took in a shaky breath and turned the beer bottle in his hands compulsively as he tried to decide how to word his response. “You saying youre… what, hes working black ops with you now?” Kelly asked. Ty came up short. “How do you know about that?”

  “Know about what?” Kelly countered with an innocuous blink. “Ty, focus,” Nick muttered.

  Ty shook his head and tried to swallow. His mouth had gone completely dry. Kelly and Digger laughed, taking his silence as being sly rather than being sick with nerves.

  Nick snorted. “Ty, come on. Im too buzzed to read your mind tonight. ” Ty closed his eyes and smiled, just stepping off that ledge like hed always done. “Were fucking,” he said frankly, not surprised when the public admission caused his stomach to roil even harder with nerves. He looked at the other three, then at Nick, breathless as he waited for their reactions.

  They were all staring at him, agog. “Are you shitting me? Cause thats not funny,” Nick blurted. Ty swallowed hard and his jaw tightened. A cold dread began to settle in his chest. If Nick didnt handle this well, Ty didnt know what he would do. The others would follow Nicks lead. He shook his head minutely. “Dead serious,” he murmured, voice going just a little cooler.

  “Whatre you… are you saying youre gay?” Digger asked slowly, as if trying to come to terms with information he didnt quite understand.

  Ty swallowed with difficulty and wet his lips. His gut was churning as if he truly were in free-fall. He leaned forward. He couldnt read any of them, and that alone made Ty more than a little worried. He nodded anyway. “Yeah. Thats what Im saying. ”

  He held his breath as he waited for any of them to react, and they took their sweet time. Nick watched Ty for a full minute before he finally looked away. “Well,” he said slowly, obviously still thinking about how to respond. “Im a little surprised,” he finally decided with an uncomfortable laugh. He jerked his hand over his shoulder, pointing his thumb in the vague direction of Tys row house. “And hes the best you can do?” he asked with a growing smirk as he looked sideways at Ty.

  Ty stared at him, shocked by the relatively easy acceptance. “Bullshit,” Owen said suddenly. He didnt look surprised at all, merely angry. Ty lowered his chin and looked across the table at him, waiting for the reaction hed dreaded and known at least one of them would have.

  “Owen,” Nick said with a slight laugh. He held his hand out across the table. “Whats it matter, man?” he asked good-naturedly. “Its bullshit,” Owen repeated with a shake of his head. “No,” Ty said quietly.

  “All those years in the field and you knew this?” Owen asked angrily. Ty cocked his head, narrowing his eyes at Owen without saying a word. Nothing he said or did would make it better if Owen was pissed.
He was surprised it was only Owen, in fact.

  “Owen, man, its not like its catching or anything,” Kelly said quietly as he sat back in his chair. Ty glanced at him in mild surprise, then back at Owen as the man stood up suddenly.

  “You telling us all those fucking years you were supposed to have our backs you knew you were queer and didnt tell us?” Owen growled. Heads began to turn. “Jesus Christ,” Digger said angrily as he stood and grabbed at Owens collar. “Whats your problem, jackass? This is Grady youre talking to!”

  Ty merely sighed and began rubbing at a spot of tension in the back of his neck. It had been there for a solid week now. “Let him go,” Nick told Digger calmly. Digger turned to look at him, scowling mutinously, but he released Owens shirt, giving him a small shove just to make himself feel better.

  “Im outta here, man,” Owen snarled as he grabbed his coat off the back of the chair, tipping the chair backward. It crashed to the floor as Owen turned on his heel and stalked out of the bar.

  They watched him go in stunned silence.

  “What a fucking prick,” Kelly finally said in a shocked voice. “Dont worry about him,” Nick said to Ty softly.

  Ty gave him a weak smile and nodded. “Handled it better than I thought he would,” he admitted. “Fucking asshole,” Digger muttered as he picked up the chair and righted it, then sat back down heavily, still watching the door where Owen had disappeared.

  “Forget it,” Nick said with authority. Ty glanced at him, and Nick actually smiled at him and leaned toward him. “Grady, nothing you can tell us after all this time will truly surprise me,” he whispered seriously, though he was still smiling. He held out his hand to Ty, palm facing his chest in the same manner he had thousands of times before. Ty reached out and pressed his palm to Nicks, grasping his hand and crossing their wrists. It pulled their faces closer together, a position theyd been in many times over the years as theyd reminded each other not to get shot during a mission.

  Nicks voice was low and warm when he spoke. “I can see the fear in your eyes. But I dont give a damn if youre queer, man. And you owe me an apology for thinking I would. ”

  Ty felt like crying in relief, but he managed to just smile and shake his head at the audacity. “Youre right,” he conceded in a whisper. “Im sorry for thinking you might be a prick. ”

  Nick patted him on the shoulder with his beer bottle, then let go of his hand and leaned back. He propped one foot up on the chair Owen had vacated and tossed back the bottle, taking a long gulp. “So. I mean, really, is he the best you can do?” he asked again, teasing.

  Ty rolled his eyes and took his time drinking a few swigs of beer. “I love him,” he finally answered, giving it to him straight. He looked at Nick and nodded, lips pressed tightly together.

  “Seriously?” Nick asked in honest surprise. “Like, with-the-heart love or with-the-dick love?”

  Ty snorted. “To be honest, its a little of both. ”

  “He knows, right? You said youre fucking, so I assume its a relationship?” Kelly asked. “Yeah. He knows. ” His chest tightened. It was a relief to be able to talk about Zane with someone besides Deuce. He bit his lip and finally looked up to meet Kellys eyes.

  “But?” Kelly prompted.

  “I told him I loved him after the last UC case we worked,” Ty admitted with a slight flush. “Wow,” Nick offered.

  “Couldnt help it. ”

  “But?” Kelly repeated with a deeper frown.

  “When I told him, he didnt really say anything. ”

  His three friends gave him a chorus of pained noises in response.

  “Shit, man,” Digger practically shouted. “Go pick that waitress up and make yourself feel better!”

  Ty laughed out loud and closed his eyes, rubbing at his forehead with the heel of his hand. “Jackass,” Digger grumbled disconsolately.

  “At least he didnt say thank you,” Kelly pointed out wryly.

  Ty laughed before putting his bottle to his lips and taking a long, relieved gulp of his beer. This had gone better than hed ever imagined it would.

  “So, he doesnt feel the same?” Nick asked, confused. “No,” Ty answered, shaking his head. “No, he does. Im just not sure he knows it yet. ” “You cant do anything easy, can you?” Kelly asked, laughing. “Bet that waitress would be,” Digger grumbled.

  The others began laughing and talking once more, drowning the silence. But Nick watched him, still frowning in confusion. Ty waited for him to comment, unconsciously holding his breath. “You love him. You think he loves you, but he hasnt said it,” Nick finally laid out.

  Ty shrugged and nodded.

  “What if youre wrong?”

  “Then Ill get to throw his shit off my balcony. Should be fun. ”

  Nick snorted, staring at him in wonder. “How do you live life without looking back or forward? God, I envy that. ” Ty merely smiled enigmatically at him. It wasnt the first time hed heard that. Not many people—not even Nick, whod lived through his past with him, or Zane, who woke up to his nightmares—knew just how hard it was for Ty to shake off the past and the future and just live in the here and now.

  “So its been like two months, and he still hasnt manned up and decided if he loves you, right? But youre still fucking. ”

  Ty just stared at him, trying to decide if that was an accurate statement. They didnt know Zane like he did. Ty knew his partner had to take the issue from every angle, analyze it to death, resurrect it, and then study its dead, rotting body to see the results. Yeah, it might take Zane four months to decide if he loved someone, and then more to decide if that was a good idea.

  Ty didnt mind waiting.
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