The Other Team, Book 6
Published 2016 by Book Boutiques.
Copyright © 2016, G.R. George.
All rights reserved.
2 ounces dark rum
2 ounces light rum
2 ounces black cherry cranberry juice
2 ounces passion fruit juice
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce simple sugar syrup
Shake ingredients together with ice then strain mixture over ice in a Hurricane cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry. Hurricanes are powerful, but this one packs a sweet punch!
Todd Nelson rolled over and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend Tucker Thompson. Tuck’s back, warm and hard against Todd’s chest, felt like shelter from the storm. He listened to the sound of Tuck’s soft snores, loving how, even in his sleep, Tuck’s fingers rubbed against the back of his hand.
They lay in Todd’s bed. While Todd loved everything about Tuck as a person, the chaos of his lover’s bedroom made it impossible for him to relax at night. Even so, Tuck willingly shared Todd’s bed without a fuss. They hadn’t spent one night apart from each other since the night they’d confessed their love.
Todd smiled, pressing a kiss at the base of Tuck’s neck. The moment had been sappy and exuberant—the kind of moment where he would have groaned had he been watching it play out in a Lifetime movie of the week. But as a scene from his real life, it had been perfect. Better than he’d ever imagined.
Theirs was a bond forged in commonality, brotherhood, friendship, and pain. They’d both been foster kids, both placed in the same home for their formidable years. Tucker had been there first. His mother had been abusive. The scars they’d left on Tucker had been more emotional than physical, and it had made it hard for him to believe he could be loved.
Todd’s situation had been much different. His mother never abused him, never called him names or treated him badly. She’d been helpless, needy. Drugs had been her crutch of choice, and Todd had spent his early years cleaning her up and cleaning up after her. She’d been arrested for selling drugs, and the state had taken Todd and placed him in care. When he’d met Tucker, the young boy had needed him, much like his mother, or so he thought. But over the years he’d discovered the great strength Tucker possessed. In fact, he was probably the toughest person Todd knew.
He remembered all the nights during their teenage years when he’d stared at Tucker’s sleeping form from across their small room at night. Even though they shared space, they’d had their own twin beds to sleep in. Todd had suppressed the urge to leave the cocoon of his own blankets to join Tucker, to crawl in bed with him, touch him, just to be near him. He’d never taken the risk.
He scooted closer and stroked his fingers down his boyfriend’s chest. So many years wasted. He kissed Tucker again, lower, between the shoulder blades. Tuck’s fingers laced between his own. He inhaled the scent of his lover’s skin—black cherry. Tuck’s favorite shampoo. Todd’s body reacted too easily to the aroma. Earlier in the week, he’d gone to Wal-Mart. Walking past the candle section, he’d gotten the barest whiff of a black cherry votive and it gave him an instant boner.
Speaking of boners…His hard length brushed against the back of Tucker’s thighs.
Tuck rolled over to face Todd. In the dark, the sharp planes of his face and his straight Roman nose, accented Tuck’s masculinity. His wide mouth, full and sensual, curved up into a lazy smile as he reached his hand between them and encircled Todd’s cock for a brief squeeze.
“I guess you’re up,” he said. Tuck stroked down the side of Todd’s face before picking up a blond curl near his ear and twirling it around his index finger.
“Lucky guess,” Todd said. He winced when Tuck pulled his hair tight—a small show of possession. He understood these little gestures of claim. He’d promised Tucker that he would give up his string of men if they were together, and he’d meant it. In the past two months, he hadn’t given another man a second glance. But Tuck had watched him with a parade of strangers over the years, and while Todd knew his intention to stay true was real, he loved Tuck enough to be patient while he figured it out.
He outlined the planes of Tuck’s chiseled chest. Jesus. He could work out every day and not get the same definition. He traced the light dusting of blond hair between Tucker’s pecs that led to the slightly darker happy trail, ending in a short nest of sandy-blond curls. The back of his hand rubbed against the full thickness of Tuck’s erection.
“You’re up too,” Todd said. “Incredible.”
Tucker smiled, his eyes slimming with the upward lift of his defined cheeks. “I’ve been getting hard for you for years. There’s nothing incredible about it.”
Todd’s chest warmed with a myriad of emotions. Tucker was a gift. One Todd hadn’t earned or deserved. He worried he would fuck it up. Fuck up what they’d found in each other. Worried he would be a disappointment. Worried, in the end, he wouldn’t be enough for Tucker. He’d never been enough…
His expression must have darkened, because Tuck lifted his chin and said, “You okay?”
Tuck’s sweet concern, his sincerity, drove away Todd’s doubts for the moment. He smiled and moistened his lips. “I’m perfect.”
“Yes, you are.” Tucker’s breath blew hotly across Todd’s lips before his mouth lowered in a gentle, loving kiss.
With a soft moan, Todd parted for him, welcoming the invasion of Tuck’s tongue sensually stroking his own. Tuck still tasted like the cinnamon mouthwash he’d used before they’d gone back to bed. Sweet, spicy, and hot. Tuck rolled on top of Todd, pressing him into the mattress. He wrapped his arms around Tucker, pulling him closer. Todd’s hands roamed his lover’s body from head to ass, grasping at Tuck as need and desire rushed warmth to his groin.
Tuck kissed him deeper, drawing Todd’s tongue into his mouth, sucking it with raw demand. Todd clutched at him, digging his fingers into Tuck’s firmly muscled ass. An appreciative rumble sounded before Tuck kneed apart Todd’s thighs and nestled his lower body between them.
Todd tore himself from the kiss and groped his nightstand for the bottle of lubricant. Tucker never took his mouth off Todd, kissing, licking, and sucking along his jaw and neck and ear.
He rocked his hips forward as he squirted the slick substance into his palm. Reaching between them, Todd generously spread the oily liquid until both their lengths were coated. Tuck went up on an elbow. With his free hand, he reached down and encircled both shafts. He began to thrust his hips, dipping his head, his mouth slanting over Todd’s, kissing him as the friction against Todd’s cock made his balls ache for sweet release.
“You’re so fucking hot,” Todd muttered, raising his hips to meet every insistent stroke. “So good.” His brain muddied with lust, and he couldn’t think—didn’t want to think—beyond how fantastic Tucker made him feel.
They ground and thrust against each other, both fucking while being fucked with unspoken demands. Tuck kept himself propped up, a testament to his physical strength, as he continued to piston his hips between Todd’s thighs.
“I’m going to come,” Tuck ground out between clenched teeth.
The declaration made Todd’s cock harden even more as his balls drew tight to his body. “Yes,” he said, urging Tuck to let go. “Come for me, babe.”
“Oh God,” Tuck groaned. He blinked, his eyes rolling up as he thrust faster. Suddenly, his body went rigid, the veins in his neck bulging as a sharp cry tore from his lips. Tuck’s pleasure ripped Todd wide open as he stroked them both with his hand, milking Tuck’s cock, milking his own, while ropes of semen shot out onto Todd’s chest.
When they’d finished, Tuck dropped to his side on the bed next to Todd. He rubbed his hand across the creamy evidence of their desire, his expression serious. “You know how I’ve been thinking about going to the community college, but I’m not sure what I want to do for the rest of my life?”
“You’ve mentioned it once or twice.” Or a dozen times. Todd felt a squeeze in his chest. He knew Tucker wasn’t satisfied working as a bartender or a waiter for the rest of his life. He wanted Tuck to have everything, but a part of him worried Tuck would outgrow him—intellectually and emotionally.
Tuck grinned. “Beyond a career, I think making you happy is going to be my ultimate goal.”
Todd laughed. “Then you are already a big success. Congratulations.”
The cell phone next to Todd’s bed trilled loudly, startling him from his moment of pure bliss. The display said “unknown” and it was three o’clock in the morning. He glanced at Tuck who shrugged and shook his head.
Todd slid his finger over the screen and put the phone to his ear. “Hello?”
“Baby,” a woman’s voice answered.
His body locked up as the full weight of his shock hit him.
“What’s wrong?” Tuck asked.
Todd shook his head.
“Todd? Baby?” he heard the caller ask.
When he found his voice, Todd stared at Tucker as the word left his mouth. “Mom?”
Just One of Those Days
Three weeks later
Tucker Thompson wiped down the table he’d just bussed then straightened the condiments and the napkin holder. He’d been working less hours with Todd, ever since Todd’s mother, Belinda Nelson, had reentered his life. Emptiness clawed at Tuck’s insides as he felt the chasm of distance growing between them. Even when they saw each other, they barely talked. Even their physical closeness had taken a hit. They hadn’t shared a bed in more than a week.
When they first got together, he’d imagined all the reasons why it was a bad idea. He’d thought of how many ways they could blow apart their friendship, but Todd’s mother had never been one of the scenarios. He couldn’t compete with her hold over Todd. He’d never stopped loving her, even when he’d made up his mind to leave her in his past. Why had she suddenly reached out? Todd hadn’t mattered to her when he was a kid. Why did he suddenly matter to her now? Which is what he’d said to Todd a couple of weeks back.
The memory shamed him. Of course, Todd mattered. He was the most important person in Tucker’s life. He’d just been so angry with Todd for shutting him out, for being secretive. From what little Todd would tell him about Belinda, she’d been in and out of prison for eight years, but it had been two years since she’d been released for her last offense. She told Todd she’d gotten clean in jail and hadn’t used since.
Tucker felt even more guilt that his anger over the situation made him wish sometimes that Belinda would just get on with loading a syringe and get the hell out of Todd’s life. It had always been he and Todd against the world, and now, with Belinda back in the picture, Tuck felt left alone.
“Hey, Tuck. I just seated a table of four in booth eight,” Jay Lincoln, his boss, said as he passed Tucker on his way toward the bar.
Tuck stared at the tall, dark-haired man for a moment. Jay was good-looking enough, he supposed, and Tuck liked him for the most part. Although, he hadn’t liked when Todd had pursued Jay in the past. He knew Todd and Jay had fucked around at least once. Now that Jay had a regular man in his life, Tuck scratched him off the list of potential threats to his happiness. He supposed he could see why Jay appealed to Todd. An older guy, fit, business owner, and he had soulful golden-brown eyes. Landing a guy like Jay would have been like hitting lottery for someone like Todd. And someone like himself. Someone who grew up with nothing and had to worry all the time about what might come next.
“Tuck?” Jay narrowed his gaze, his mouth pursed, and his expression curious. “Booth eight,” he reiterated.
Tuck snapped out of his musings. “On it,” he said.
A hand on his shoulder startled him. Tuck jerked his gaze to the man behind him then instantly relaxed. “Hey, Alex.”
Alex Michaels searched Tuck’s face, his expression pondering. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Tuck said. He forced a smile. “Just one of those days.”
Alex and Tuck had gone on a date once, and the conversation had been easy between them. He’d been nearly the perfect guy for Tucker. The only thing wrong with Alex was that he hadn’t been Todd. Now, Alex had some weird thing going on between him and the night cook. As he and Alex became friends, Alex told him about some of Ricky’s demands. It sounded complicated, but Ricky made Alex happy enough. Even though Alex insisted he wasn’t serious about the relationship, he could tell Ricky meant more to Alex than a regular hook-up. He hoped his friend wasn’t on a road to heartbreak.
Alex shook his head. He gazed down at Tuck with his large, deep-set brown eyes. “You know you can talk to me.”
“I appreciate the offer, but really, I’m good.” Besides, Todd might be okay with Tucker’s friendship with Alex, but he wouldn’t be okay with Tuck talking about his personal life with Alex.
Alex put his hands up. “Okay. I get it, but the offer stands.”
“How are things going with you and Mr. Big Stuff?” Tuck asked, a sly grin on his face. From everything Alex had told him, Ricky slender body was misleading when it came to other parts of his anatomy. Tucker still couldn’t believe the guy was a doctor. The sleeves of tattoos on both arms, along with the thick tussle of dark, unkempt hair and the full beard only added to Ricky’s mystique. He was a dichotomy. A puzzle. Tuck believed that was part of Alex’s attraction to the man.
Alex pursed his lips, suppressing a laugh. “Strange, good, weird.”
Alex guffawed. “Yes, normal.” He nervously glanced at the kitchen doors as if he expected Ricky to bust out of the doors at any moment. “I invited him to my parents for their annual 4th of July party.”
“And he said yes.” Alex frowned. “It’s too late to take it back. I hadn’t expected him to say yes. It’s going to be a disaster.”
“Why?” Tuck knew Alex liked Ricky a lot more than he let on. He had to be, on some level, thrilled that Ricky was willing to go.
“My family is a bunch of assholes.”
Tuck’s laugh tore from him with a loud snort.
Alex’s expression grew serious. “Did you look over those college applications I got for you?”
Tucker smiled. “Yes.”
Before Tuck could answer, Ricky stepped out of the kitchen and yelled, “Order.” His gaze snapped to Tuck and Alex before narrowing into a hard stare.
Alex’s eyes widened with something akin to frightened excitement, like the look that people get when they are sitting at the top of the highest hill on a rollercoaster right before it takes off. “That’s mine,” he said, quickly turning on his heel and heading toward the kitchen.
Tuck wasn’t certain whether Alex meant the order or Ricky.
After his shift wound to an end, he drove home, unable to stop the feeling of dread. Would Todd even be home? He wasn’t certain which was worse, being alone in the apartment or being alone in the apartment with Todd ignoring him.
It was two in the morning, and the lights were out inside their place. Tuck went to his room first. His bed was made. The pile of laundry he’d left on his floor near the bed was gone. Todd had even ordered the items on Tuck’s dresser.
Tuck went over and put the spray bottle of cologne at the edge and fanned out the collection of sports magazines Todd had neatly stacked in chronological order. In the bathroom, Todd lined up the shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, and hair gel sideways, their labels all facing one way. The toothpaste was pressed at the bottom and rolled up, and the toothbrushes were front facing in a spotless holder.
Tuck’s stomach clenched. Todd had always been meticulous. He needed order in his life. But this tight control he tried maintain over their home was another symptom of how much his mother’s presence in his life was tearing him apart. He’d tried to get Todd to talk about it. Hell, he’d even suggested a counselor. The suggestion had earned him silent treatment for two full days.
He peeked into Todd’s bedroom next. His heart ached as he watched his lover’s restless sleep. He wished he knew what Todd needed right now. He wished he could be what Todd needed right now. But as long as Todd shut him out, there was nothing he could do to help. He worried their relationship was a house of cards and one strong cross breeze would blow it apart.
“I love you,” he said quietly. “Please let me in.”
Twenty-three months and five days. That’s how long his mother had been out of jail this time around. She’d managed to make it into the half-way house for the first six months, and had held down a job for over a year. For the first time, Todd felt hopeful she might make it. His mother had always been damaged, broken. She’d had a hard road as a child. At fifteen, she’d gotten pregnant with Todd. Her parents kicked her out of the house and the boy who’d knocked her up wanted her to have an abortion.
Maybe she should have. Maybe her life wouldn’t have been such utter shit if she’d gotten rid of him in the womb. He thought about Tuck, the pain and sadness he’d worn like second skin lately, and felt a stab of guilt. He’d been keeping Tucker at arm’s length when it came to his mother, but he hadn’t meant to damage their relationship.
Belinda was a lot. He didn’t want to put Tuck through the drama. Tucker’s mother had completely abandoned him. How could he understand Todd’s sense of responsibility to a parent?
He’d been thrust into the role of protector in the first grade. Todd remembered walking into their trailer and finding his mother passed out on the living room floor, her pants soaked with piss, and vomit dried in the threadbare carpet. Her skin was sallow, her cheeks were gaunt, and her eyes were closed. Todd’s heart raced as fear froze him. When Belinda moaned, relief came in the form of tears that clouded his vision. He ran to her.
“Mommy,” he’d said, giving her shoulder a shake.
“Help me, baby,” she’d whispered hoarsely. “Help me sit up.”
He’d been small for six-years-old, but he’d managed to prop her up with pillows and blankets until she was sitting up. He’d stared at her, worried that her every breath might be her last, but when she kept breathing, Todd had gone into action. He’d wet a towel and cleaned her up the best he could, and then after he put a pot of water on to boil, adding coffee straight into the pot until the water turned dark. He strained the grounds with a wire-mesh food strainer into a mug. Belinda kept saying over and over how he’d saved her. How he saved her every day.
Todd shuddered when he remembered how proud he’d felt at her praise. How she’d made him feel important. Over the next several years, he’d gotten better at making coffee and taking care of his mom…until he’d been taken away and placed in foster care.
Today his mother asked to meet him for breakfast—and wanted him to invite Tucker. She planned to introduce her boss, Collin Summers, who owned the diner where she worked. Supposedly, this was the guy keeping Belinda on the straight and narrow.
God! The way she talked about the man, you’d think he was the second coming. A part of Todd hated him already—the little boy in Todd who believed he was the only one capable of taking care of her. However, he didn’t want to make trouble for his mom. She had a job, and if she wanted him to meet this Collin guy, he would. He didn’t want to be the trigger that sent her spiraling out of control again. But what about his world? Fuck! Belinda’s world seemed to be coming together while his was falling apart.
Man, there was so much he wanted to say to Tuck, so much…
But how? When Tuck had suggested he needed to get professional help, like Todd couldn’t handle his mother, it had angered Todd more than he’d imagined anyone or anything could. Tucker was supposed to be on his side, but even he thought Todd was in over his head. Was reconnecting with his mom more he could handle? He didn’t want to completely shut down on Tuck.
God, Todd missed him so fucking much.
In the tiny apartment kitchen, Todd wiped down the counters. Straightened the coffee mugs until all the handles pointed in the same direction. He almost cried out when he saw a few stray grains of coffee scattered just behind the coffee maker. Quickly, he cleaned them up too. He had half an hour before he had to meet his mom. Ten minutes until he had to leave. Plenty of time to dry-mop the kitchen floor.
He went to the utility closet just off the living room and stared at the door next to it. Tuck’s bedroom door was closed. Todd held his breath as he slowly turned the knob and pushed the door open a crack. Tuck was all sprawled out on top of his sheets in nothing but a dark blue pair of boxer shorts that hugged his gorgeous ass. Todd grimaced when he noticed the comforter wadded on the floor.
On auto-pilot, he started toward the blanket then he noticed the magazines in disarray on the dresser. “Goddamn it,” he muttered.
Before he could fix the mess, Tucker said, “Leave them be.”
Todd turned sharply, guilt gutting him like a blade. “You’re awake.”
Tuck sat up and rubbed his face. “Yep.”
Fuck! Tuck looked good when he was groomed, but he looked even better tussled. His short blond hair stuck up in multiple places, and his hard abs moved hypnotically when he scratched his arm. It had been a whole week since he’d touched Tucker’s body. A whole week since he’d held him in his arms. A week since he’d made love to the only man who’d ever mattered in his life. He licked his dry lips, trying to ignore his growing erection. Less than ten minutes until he had to leave, he reminded himself.
Tucker raised a questioning brow and lay back on the bed, stretching, his own cock bulging under the blue cotton fabric. One week since he’d wrapped that length between his lips. One week…His skin burned with fevered need. Something was broken between them, and Todd knew it was his fault. It was broken and sex wouldn’t fix the problem.
Tucker rubbed his palm over his groin. An invitation.
No, sex wouldn’t fix their problem, but a quickie might act like a bandage, stemming the blood loss on their hemorrhaging relationship. When he didn’t go to Tucker, the blond Adonis got up and crossed the floor to him. Todd’s knees felt squishy as he slowly exhaled.
Tuck pressed his palm over Todd’s heart.
“I have to go,” Todd said, his voice no more than a whisper.
“Then go,” Tucker told him. He brushed back the curls falling around Todd’s ear. Leaning in, he said, “Unless you want to stay.”
Todd felt like he would burst his skin. Every cell in his body wanted to stay…wanted to be in Tuck’s arms. “I…”
Tuck robbed him of his response with a kiss that claimed and demanded. Todd stepped into Tucker’s embrace, opening for the languid strokes of Tuck’s tongue as Tuck’s hands massaged down Todd’s back to his ass. They grinded their hips together, and Todd let himself drown for a moment in the intense feeling of Tucker’s hardness against his own. Oh God, how he missed this. How he missed Tuck.
He swallowed hard at the swell of emotion threatening to choke him. Tucker’s hands on his chest, his waist, pushing at the band on his jeans, nimble fingers unbuttoning, unzipping, his cock in Tucker’s hand. Oh yes. Yes. It was the first time since his mother’s call that he’d stopped thinking.
Tucker broke from the kiss, pushing up Todd’s shirt and dipped his head to tease Todd’s nipples, taking one between his teeth, tugging gently before laving the tip. He gave the other nipple the same attention before he moved his kisses lower. Todd’s cock hardened in response, and his balls tingled as blood rushed away from his head.
Beep. Beep. Beep. His phone alarm snapped him from the lusty haze. He stepped back, disengaging Tucker from his body, grieving the loss of his boyfriend’s touch. He couldn’t give in to impulsive behavior. Not now. Not with so much to lose.
“I have to go,” he said. He couldn’t look at Tucker. He knew if he did, he wouldn’t be able to leave, then his mom…”I’m sorry. We’ll talk to tonight, but I really have to go.” He zipped his jeans. “I’m sorry,” he said again. “She needs me.”
As he walked out, he heard Tucker say, “I need you too.”