Chapter Seven: In the Lane
Jake trotted up the steps of the Cathedral, using Cole’s huge body like a Sherman tank to clear a path. Despite the renovations, the church was already packed, standing room only.
Cole glanced at the brochure and mumbled, “No confessions on Sunday.” Jake snorted, then clapped a hand over his mouth. Cole continued as if he hadn’t heard anything, “Too bad, I really would have liked to count the Hail Marys on that one.”
Jake’s face flamed because he was pretty sure there weren’t enough beads on a standard rosary to accommodate that penance.
Cole leaned down and muttered, “You look cute when you’re guilty.” Jake punched his arm and told him to shut up.
They found a spot near the annex and squeezed themselves into the corner with a gaggle of tourists. Jake tucked himself into the protection of Cole’s arm and said a silent prayer of thanks as the choir filled the cathedral with sound that took his breathe away.
When the service concluded, Cole said, “Come on, I know a place serves the best pizza, if you don’t mind walking.”
“I’ve got the whole day.”
“Good, because I plan on making it memorable.”
Jake doubted anything could be as memorable as what they’d done last night, the way Cole had torn him apart, molecule by molecule, and put him back together, brand new inside. He’d been branded with Cole’s tenderness, with his passion and with his care.
If anyone asked him what love was, he’d say … that, that’s how love feels and tastes. It drives you insane, it turns you inside out, the pleasure so raw it hurts, hurts bad until it doesn’t hurt at all, and he and Cole had melted into each other’s skin.
Neither of them had said words to that effect, neither was going to make that mistake, not now. Not with Cole leaving and the offer still vague, still floating like a what if bubble between them. Cole had gone into more detail about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, how he wanted to make a difference. Jake had obsessed over each and every word, prying for details, trying to find chinks in that armor where someone like him—with no skills, nothing to bring to the table—where he could finally fit in and be part of someone’s life.
It was dangerous, him even thinking that way. It was too wild, too insane to think Cole would even consider the possibility, but it seemed he had. He kept dropping hints, but never coming out and saying it directly. And why would he? This was day three, date three. Nobody in his right mind thought about forever after just because they’d taken each other’s virginity, found that common ground most people spent a lifetime seeking, and now—every time they touched—it was like a volcano erupting.
There’s an explanation for all this, you idiot, and it’s simple…
He and Cole were in lust, nothing else. And that was fine. Nothing wrong with that. Cole was leaving in less than forty-eight hours. They’d exchange come visit me whenever, I’m just a bus ride away open-ended invitations, trading numbers, trading promises, and it might last a week or two or three, but then the call wouldn’t come, one of them would be busy or have to work. He’d feel bad for that, for missing the call. He’d feel even worse making excuses about the weather or not feeling good. Guilt would follow. They’d learn to live with that and it might hurt at first, but later it wouldn’t hurt as much, and even if they never found anyone else, they’d have that memory.
Cole took his hand, holding it like a boyfriend would, swinging it back and forth as they carved a lane through the crowds milling around Radio City Music Hall. He pulled his cell phone out and checked the time.
“You ever see the Christmas show?” Jake shook his head no. “Want to?” Without waiting for a reply, Cole tapped on his phone, then scrolled through whatever had his undivided attention. Satisfied, he said, “It’s not sold out, but all that’s left is the nose bleed section.” He glanced up, eyes the color of blue ice, crinkled with hope, the thin lines webbing at the corners and giving him a please say yes, please please please look Jake couldn’t resist if he tried, so he nodded and Cole whooped as he clicked the phone shut.
Skirting the line circling around 50th Street, Cole dragged Jake inside to the Will Call window. Once they had their tickets, they joined the throngs outside and settled against the wooden barricades to wait for the doors to open.
As if they each knew the other’s thoughts, they bantered back and forth like old friends who’d grown up together, who knew the other’s foibles and hot buttons, knew when to lighten up and just enjoy the other’s company. If that was denial, Jake was all for it. He needed to forget the ache building inside his chest, to put aside the coming departure that could very well bring him to his knees, because he knew that was a separation that was going to rip him in half.
When he least expected it, Cole kissed his lips, just like that, as if he’d been reading Jake’s mind, sensing his inner turmoil and assuring him it would be fine, they’d work it out.
Jake had been given a gift, he knew that now. For the first time in years, he was celebrating the season with someone he cared about. It might not be Christmas exactly, but that didn’t matter because what did was having Cole O’Neil in his life. And just because Cole wasn’t a gift he could keep, that didn’t make it any less special or important.
So for the next few hours, for whatever time they had left together, Jake vowed to make the most of it. If this was his one and only chance to feel love, then damn it he was all in.
Cole whispered in his ear, “What’s going through that head of yours, babe? Should I be worried?”
That was a loaded question and the anxiety Jake detected in Cole’s voice grounded him, took his head out of the clouds and reminded him they were both floundering with what was happening between them. Cole stared down at him, his expression as confused and conflicted, as uncertain and as filled with hope as Jake felt inside.
The last thing Jake wanted was to erect a wall of insecurity between them, one that eventually would get so high neither of them would be able to breach it. That’s what happened when you forgot that the imaginary bridge between your past and your future was called living. It was time to give it a try, that living bit, so Jake grinned and held out two fists, knuckle side up. “Red pill or blue pill, Neo?” He leaned in close so no one else could hear and murmured, “Your choice, farm boy, saint or sinner.”
Cole looked like he was going to swallow his tongue, but before he could collect his wits, the line moved, and they followed the throng, arms wrapped around each other. Like lovers.
Just like lovers.
Jake helped Cole feed and water the horses that had finished their shifts for the day. They exchanged a few words with Sam, waved off the late evening crew and then climbed the stairs to Cole’s loft. They’d stopped for Thai takeout but left the containers on the counter and headed for the bedroom peeling off their clothes and dropping them like bread crumbs as they staggered single file through the door.
Cole suggested, “Nap first? I don’t know about you, but I’m beat.” He rolled onto the bed and held out his arms. “Come here, babe. All I want is to hold you for a few before I conk out.”
Jake was happy to oblige. As he curled into the big man’s arms he said, “Thanks for today,” and twisted his head to place a kiss on Cole’s cheek. Soft snores huffed onto his mouth. Jake smiled and relaxed into the embrace, waiting for sleep to claim him too.
Awareness was a hat trick, churning and boiling until sensation ceased to be this or that or the other, and it simply vanished into a single point, consumed by a gentle touch or a sharp nip to remind him to hold on tight because he was riding a wave, surfing it, skirting inside the tube…
His body curled and twisted as his fingers grappled with the soft bedding. Jake ached for an anchor to hold him tight so he could focus and savor and make it last—the ultimate conflict. His cock, his balls screamed for release at the same time his heart pleaded … not yet, not yet, not yet.
Cole hissed, “Relax, I’ve got you,” and proved it by driving him insane with long, slow strokes, stretching and teasing, then withdrawing until Jake mewled and begged and his hips jerked in agony for more. “Bear down, there… There, I’ve got you, love, I’ve got you.”
Two fingers this time, gliding and scissoring until lightning lit him ass to cock and it was good, but he knew better, so much better was coming when Cole filled him completely. Best was the naked intimacy, the total submission, the exposure of their release and the sweet a cappella chorus of folding into each other’s skins, flesh inside flesh.
Jake wanted to apologize, to own up to being a wanton slut, to admit he’d do anything, say anything to get Cole to release him, to give him what he wanted, but the man tortured him, controlled him and played him like an instrument. Using blunt force, he battered at Jake’s defenses, transitioning his rigid skeleton into a puddle of desperation and back.
Rough hands cupped his neck, thumbs pressuring at the notch, harsh rasping laying siege to his senses, the sounds of his own moans… The fire, the burn lit him from the inside out as Cole struggled to be careful, and Jake fought back with greedy lust and cries of, “Do it, damn it, Cole, just do it,” and he wrapped his heels and pulled until Cole’s cock seated deep, and they breathed in synch, afraid to move, afraid to break the spell.
I love, love, love… it, I love it, I love what you do to me, how you make me feel. Say it, tell him, say the words…
Cole reared back, nearly withdrew, his hands slipping along the contours of Jake’s ribs, then lifting, lifting with warm, rough, sweaty palms, and Jake moaned inside his head, “Don’t, please don’t. Don’t leave. Don’t, don’t leave me.”
In the dim light, Cole’s sky blue eyes glistened and glazed over with lust. The scent of sweat and musk and sex filled Jake’s nostrils. He inhaled and moaned as Cole rocked forward and away, hiking Jake’s hips to drive deep on a slow penetration and an even slower retreat, until Jake’s throat closed and he fought against the exquisite punishment of pain and pleasure, forever locked in mortal combat.
Jake would have either, or both, it made little difference, because what he possessed was ultimately more precious—he had Cole O’Neil, and nothing and no one could take this moment away from him.
The familiar tightness rocketed from Jake’s spine through his ass to his cock, and he screamed in silent ecstasy as Cole pumped hard, driving Jake past the point of no return. Hot cum sprayed Jake’s chest as his muscles clenched around Cole’s cock and the howl, “Oh, fuuuuck,” echoed in the night.
Jake’s heels slid down the mound of Cole’s ass, caressing the outside length of his lover’s tree-trunk thighs, and finally coming to rest on the tangle of bedding. His body twitched in boneless spasms of post-coital rapture. Cole hovered over him, his lungs sucking air for all they were worth. When his lover withdrew and rolled to the side, the sense of loss was so profound, tears sprang to Jake’s eyes and he turned away to hide his despair.
Cole crawled to the edge of the bed, said, “I’ll get something to clean us up,” and disappeared into the bathroom. When he returned, Cole crouched next to the mattress and gently ran the warm, wet towel over Jake’s body, using slow sweeps to gentle and caress flesh so sensitized to the man’s touch that it was both heaven and hell.
Cole dropped the towel on the floor and lay next to Jake, face-to-face, his cheeks puckered as if he had something to say, but the words wouldn’t come. Jake recognized the emotion, saw his own hesitation and self-flagellation in the perfect reflection of himself in Cole’s eyes.
Cole’s words, when they came, were haunting whispers in the night. “We’ll work it out. Somehow.”
Jake burrowed under the chin and the growth of beard that was sandpaper rough and soft as sin. Biting back the sob choking his throat, he hissed, “How?”
Cole gathered him once more into his protective embrace and murmured, “I don’t know, love, I don’t know.” He nuzzled Jake’s forehead and swore under his breath, “Because we fucking have to…”